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King Kong (2005)
"Jackson's" Kong is a gem
Peter Jackson, well known director of The Lord of The Rings, decided to take on the project of re-making King Kong, while being faithful to the original 1933 version. I was disgusted by the 1976 version, but I was looking forward to seeing this because of Jackson's previous work I had faith in his company, WETA digital, to do an incredible job on the visual effects and tedious motion-capture techniques.
This film deviated from the original in many different ways. More subtly, the original did not delve into Ann Dorrow's misplacement in the theater business, and definitely did not show Carl Denham's struggle to make his picture with the execs. Once on board the Venture, Jack Driscoll is the apple of Ann's eye. Jack is the writer of the Denham's film, and he was not supposed to be on the Venture at all. Ann is attracted to him and not the lead actor in the picture, which was who Ann was attracted to in the 1933 version. They were both conveniently named Jack Driscoll. The venture ride was lengthened to almost an hour to stress the importance and the danger that lie on the island, Skull Island. Carl Denham secretly possesses this map of the island, where he has heard only rumors about what lie in it.
Once on Skull Island, the crew is attacked by the natives of the island. They are saved by a remaining number of crew from the venture, when a gun scares them away. The visual effects on Skull Island, as a location, are fantastically realistic. During the attack, the cinematography is somewhat similar to The Lord of The Rings as the camera speed is slowed down and hand-held. The natives then capture Ann Dorrow to give to Kong in a ceremony. Jack, worried for her life, runs to save her.
Kong himself is visually incredible. Every part of Kong, from the hair on his back to his scars on his face are done with extreme detail. At first when he picks up Ann, she screams her head off (well, she does the entire film) and is deathly afraid of Kong. But after he saves her life and spends more time with her, Ann realizes that Kong enjoys her. The legendary fight between Kong and the multiple T-Rex's is amazing. The realistic attacks and the camera movements both flow perfectly, making it a very intense battle sequence. Kong fights off many animals, including dinosaurs, to keep Ann safe. Jack assembles a team with Denham to go into the jungle to find her. Denham of coarse brings his camera. Once in the forest, they face many beasts before approaching Kong. Kong attacks them in the same way as he did the original, on a log. The log falls, and most of the crew dies. Denham's camera breaks, and he is very disappointed. Jack continues to lead on the search before being attacked by many, and I mean many, creepy crawly creatures that attack and kill another portion of the group.
Kong is still mystified by Ann, and when Jack sneaks her away, he is anything but happy. Denham, who is still looking to get a fortune out of his visit, wants to capture Kong and put him in the Venture. With use of some chemicals, Kong falls for the trap. Ann sits in sorrow as she watches Kong get tortured, which is the first moment in the film where the audience can see the "love" between Ann and Kong. Once in New York, Denham is eager to sell tickets to show off his prize. Kong escapes his bindings and runs out to the city, looking for Ann. He picks up many women along the way, only to shuffle them out. Ann, hearing the commotion, runs out to see Kong, where they spend their last quality time together. They play in ice and she dances for him as she did in Skull Island. The military is close behind, trying to attack Kong. Driscoll, still chases Ann in a car towards the beast.
Kong runs up the Empire State building, where the legendary plane attack occurs. The planes hurt Kong as he swipes through the air trying to swing them down, and he is successful with two planes. Before Kong falls, he stares Ann in the eye, a last confession of his love for her.
Kong has several deviations from the 1933 original, but the changes only make the story stronger. The love connection between Kong and Ann is amplified with good reason and the story itself holds true. I can't think of a better remake than Jackson's Kong to date.
Frontline: Six O'Clock News (1996)
Seeing this movie made me ponder about a few things. The way that Ross McElwee presents this documentary is very different from any other documentary I have ever seen. Ross McElwee's narration during this film makes ever scene creepy in a way. His voice has a huge affect on this film. This story is about a man who carries around is camera everywhere and discovers this world in the six o'clock news. He goes on location and meets these different people (that were generally seen in the six o'clock news) over the course of years at a time. His perspective on these stories are touching because he makes it seem that the media is all about sensationalism and that it only shows seconds of these peoples' sadness or problem. Ross McElwee may seem crazy in this movie because of the way he acts. However, he poses questions in this film about society and the media that are unanswerable and extremely interesting. It's almost like you know this guy from somewhere because is voice always seems like it's in the back of your own head.
Although this is a very crude way to film a documentary, you can relate to this story in some way or another. His opinions may be completely different, but just how he interviews people on their life and how he tells this story of the news and media is unique.
I rated this movie a 7/10. Even though it's not one of the best movies I've seen, It is very fascinating and well worth it to rent.
What a ride!
The film Collateral opens with a silver haired Tom Cruise, walking silently through an airport. The opening is creepy in its own way, and it sets up the movie perfectly. Tom Cruise plays Vincent, a character who is going to make five stops with a taxi cab to murder five people. Of course, things go wrong and the plot is very intense and complicated, however it is very easy to follow this movie. Jamie Foxx does an excellent job as Max, the cab driver who takes Vincent (Cruise) to each of his stops. Max (Foxx) throughout the movie is overwhelmed and he can't believe he is driving around a killer. Jamie Foxx proves he can act, and the two actors have great chemistry in the film.
Collateral is not a laugh out loud film, but it does have some funny lines and there is irony in it. Cruise only smiles once in the film but that proves that Cruise can do an excellent job at really acting as this killer. I'm not saying Cruise has been given easy roles in the past, but this role is different. This character is much more complex and brutal.
Director Michael Mann did an excellent job. He is no novice for action films, for he directed Heat. His helicopter shots of Los Angeles are amazing at night. He makes the city seem more desolate and less crowded. Collateral focus' mainly on the story, and it doesn't stop, yet it's hard not to notice how L.A. is captured on film.
It is definitely a "popcorn" movie so go see it. Collateral is not any action film, and it's story wraps you up. The ending is particularly interesting. If you want to see Tom Cruise take on a mystical character, and Jamie Foxx pull off what may be the role of his lifetime, go see it.
Shattered Glass (2003)
An Excellent Journalistic Story
This movie is based on the true events of what happened to Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) at the political magazine, The New Republic. Stephen Glass is a very interesting character, with a lot of charisma and talent. Stephen Glass' first editor, Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria) made Glass feel comfortable with writing stories. Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) becomes the new editor and is very serious and almost stubborn about anything Glass comes up with. How the story slowly unveils in very interesting. Glass slowly breaks down in covering himself up. Glass felt attacked during most of the film. Christensen did an excellent job is portraying him as a journalist and as a liar. Despite what people say about his acting in the Star Wars films, his anger here is much limited that his outbursts in Star Wars. He seems much more in control, yet still falling apart. Sarsgaard did an excellent job because he formed his character into a quiet editor, but very firm and expressive when it came to dealing with Stephen Glass. It is also ironic how you see the other TNR staff writers look up to Glass, and try to be like him and get the freelance jobs he does. The only person, including Michael Kelly, to do that was Chuck Lane. It still amazing to me that a magazine that gets so much publicity have articles in it that is entirely fabricated. This movie is an excellent portrayal of a story that was unique.
****1/2 out of *****
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Great sequel with better qualities than the first
Spider-Man broke records and open the audiences eyes when it first came out in May 2002. Nothing can beat that, but this Spider-Man almost did. It's hard to out due the Green Goblin, but Alfred Molina's character as Octopus was excellent. The Green Goblin almost looked fake at times with the all green suit and the fixed helmet that wouldn't move. The story behind how Dr. Otto Octavius ended up with these extra metal arms is intriguing. This Octopus character has an intense presence and powerful force when he attacks Spider-Man. Another story goes on between Peter Parker, taking place 2 years later after the first Spider-Man. Mary-Jane Watson is still in the spotlight role for Peter Parker. It is very interesting how you see Peter Parker go through dilemmas with himself and dealing with him having a dual life of being in college and being a hero. Tobey Maguire seems made for the part. Finally, in Spider-Man 2, his identity is revealed to several important characters and that affects his decisions. Mary-Jane's love story continues with another character yet she begins to realize that her one true love was right under her nose. J.K. Simmons' character as the newspaper editor was hilarious in the first Spider-Man. His character is magnified in this film and his jokes and attitude seems a bit overdone. Overall, this was one of the best sequels I have come across. The story is just as interesting as the action, and there is a lot of eye-popping action. Spider-Man 2 is simply a hit, and there is not another way to put it.
**** out of *****
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
One of the most Entertaining films ever!
Ocean's Eleven is a very easy-going and purely fun movie to watch. The film is loaded with celebrities such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, and Matt Damon. Ocean's Eleven is very "loosely" based on the original Ocean's Eleven starring Frank Sinatra. Steven Soderbergh did a fabulous job directing this movie and having all the characters to connect to Danny Oceans group of 11. The plan is to steal 160$ million dollars from three Las Vegas Casino's. Sounds wacky? The planning time took up most of the movie, and you almost believe that it could be done after you see this. Andy Garcia did a fabulous job playing Terry Benedict, the owner of the Casino's where Ocean (Clooney) plans to rob. Brad Pitt plays and interesting role as Danny Ocean's sidekick. The plot flows quickly and some parts leave you laughing on the floor. Each one of the eleven characters had its own story behind them and it is seen when Rusty Ryan (Pitt) and Danny Ocean (Clooney) first go to recruit them to plan this heist. I have to say Julia Roberts didn't have a flexible character but nonetheless her presence in this film as Tess, Danny Ocean's ex-wife, is apparent. Ocean's 12 is due out in December with the same old cast and it promises to be a hit. This movie is one of my favorites because the premise is great and the actors are great.
**** out of *****
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Fast paced and well done
This movie was better than the original, The Bourne Identity, and Matt Damon's character was developed more. Although the plot may be somewhat confusing for some, this action flick proves to be highly entertaining as well as a fast paced ride. The car chase scene was one of the best I have ever seen, next to The Transporter. Brian Cox's character was also brought out more in the story, and he is a fabulous actor who puts a lot of intensity into the film. Although as Jason Bourne has these "visions" of his past life with the CIA, it is never fully clarified in the film, and it leaves you guessing about what is going on in his head. Bourne really does not have a lot of feeling as for the death of others, but he is a trained killer, so you can't expect a lot of reaction out of Bourne's character. Overall the movie is a hit and an excellent sequel based on the incredible novels.
***1/2 out of *****