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8/10
Not the greatest, but certainly worth your time
8 December 2008
I remember seeing a poster for this film and thinking, "Hmmm...a Roman take on the Arthurian legend (yep, that's been done before) starring Colin Firth. Huh?" As much as I adore Colin Firth, he's never really struck me as the heroic sort, but he surprised me with this film. Having seen the special features on the DVD, they cast him in this unusual role on purpose because they were trying to go for something different. He was believable with the sword play and as a leader of men, but the inevitable "rally the troops" speech falls a little flat. Orlando Bloom and Cate Blanchett have given better versions of that speech than Colin Firth did at the end of this film.

I did enjoy the originality of the story in this film. As opposed to simply setting the Arthurian legend in the late Roman empire like "King Arthur", they actually told a whole prequel story with some actual, historical basis. That originality and the strength of the acting could have set it above the aforementioned film, but Last Legion's production values are sometimes lacking and while the story is original, the story telling leaves a little to be desired. There are three different villains that pop up during the course of the film and none of them are really given the time they need to seem truly threatening. Characters are also not given enough time to breathe and grow and relationships seem, therefore, to form almost out of thin air.

Those gripes aside, The Last Legion is an entertaining action film that leaves the blood and gore at a minimum making suitable for the whole family.
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7/10
Pretty...but lacking
6 August 2008
My best friend once told me not to watch this movie, as it would offend my evangelical Christian sensibilities. Well, the nudity and sexuality (and there is A LOT) is not really what bothered me about this movie. What bothered me was the lack of a satisfying conclusion. After two hours, the audience is left with an ending that sort of leaves you with a, "Huh?" There just didn't seem to be a point.

You'll notice that I still gave the film 7 stars, which means I thought it was pretty good. The hair, make up, and costume design alone are worthy of praise in this film, and I'm pretty sure it ate up half the budget. And Todd Haynes apparently decided to make up for this by casting actors that no one (in his home country anyway) had heard of, the one possible exception being Christian Bale (who looks like he'd just stepped off the set of 'Newsies' for half the film), but even at that, Bale had not yet shocked every critic in the world with his portrayal of Patrick Bateman, much less played Batman, and therefore not a name the film could rest on. Ewan McGregor wasn't Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jonathan Rhys Myers hadn't yet played the King of Rock 'n' Roll, or the king of England. It was risky, but the whole lot were amazingly talented and more than up to the job, as their performances in the film and their careers since are more than evidence of.

The film, rather than being an unconventional biopic like Haynes' 'I'm Not There', is more like an abbreviated, fictionalized history of the Glam Rock movement. Rhys-Myers and McGregor's characters represent two sides of the movement; Rhys-Myers' Brian Slade is all about flamboyance and glitter eye make up; McGregor's Curt Wild is more about pure shock value, and Bale's young Arthur Stuart is simply a fan.

The unconventional structure is the result of the storytelling as it is sort of built around Bale's character, an older Arthur Stuart who hasn't changed much in looks save for a haircut, as a reporter in 1984 investigating the life of Brian Slade. You get Stuart's own rememberings of the era mixed in with the testimony of those he interviews. All of this seems to be building to something, but at the end of the film, it just falls flat and leaves you asking yourself, "What?"

So Mr. Haynes, 7/10 for great set and costume design, and fantastic acting, but you lose the other three for the complete lack of an appropriate ending.
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The Machinist (2004)
9/10
It will get in your head
2 August 2008
Did you hear? Christian Bale lost 63 pounds for this movie. That's probably the first thing anyone hears about this film, mostly because he went from looking like an escapee from a concentration camp to Batman in like, less than a year after he did this movie. But the truth is, this is actually a great thriller in the Hitchcockian traditions. Is it perfect, certainly not, but it's still good, and it gets in your head.

Bale actually gives a great performance. He can be charming at times (although I have to say that his normally adorable smile became a little creepy because his face was just so gaunt) and he shows us a believable descent into paranoia and insanity. Despite his creepy appearance and slightly off behavior, you still love him and want to give him a big hug, but not too hard because you might break him in half he's so thin.

He's got a great supporting cast as well, but the truth is, this is Bale's movie, and the film pretty much hinges on his performance and the creepy feel created by director Brad Anderson, and the interesting plotting due to Scott Kosar's script.
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9/10
Great film...weird, but great
2 August 2008
You can't go into this film expecting to see something that even remotely resembles a commercial biopic. It's not. There are six stories going on here that have hardly anything to do with one another, if they intersect at all. But all stories do have a plot and they all arrive at some sort of conclusion. So, if you go into the film with the right attitude, you won't be dissatisfied at the end.

To help the audience sort through all these divergent stories, Haynes provides visual clues. Whishaw and Blanchett's stories are told in black and white, but Whishaw's story is told almost entirely in a one-shot of the actor, while Blanchett's is something of a roller coaster of a psychedelic ride. There is one particularly funny scene with Blanchett's Jude Quinn and the Beatles that just made me laugh out loud.

Christian Bale's Jack Rollins' story is told entirely as a 60 Minutes-esquire news story following the character through 'stock' footage from the sixties and 'interviews' from the eighties. I'll take this moment to say that Bale and Blanchett do an amazing job of lip-syncing. As a Christian (the faith, not the person), I appreciated the fact that they didn't cheapen or make fun of Dylan's conversion. I do, however, have to say that the eighties-style perm they put on Christian Bale's head was pretty hysterical.

The only time any of the stories intersect is when Heath Ledger's character, actor Robbie Clark, plays Christian Bale's Jack Rollins in a movie. The Ledger story is the most traditional film through line, and one of the more relatable stories. It's about a man whose rise to fame has destroyed his marriage.

The other two stories, revolving around versions of Dylan portrayed by Richard Gere and young Marcus Carl Franklin, are the most surreal and odd. They are also the ones based on the parts of Dylan's life that we know very little about. Go figure. Who knows, they might be the ones that come closest to the truth.

Bottom line, expect to spend a lot of time with one eyebrow up while watching this film. But you will also laugh and be genuinely moved and entertained. It's a great film...weird, but great.
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Rescue Dawn (2006)
9/10
A portrait of a true American
25 July 2008
It's ironic that this very American story about an American POW, who was born in Nazi Germany, was brought to the screen by a German director and a Welsh-born English actor. But that's America, we're a melting pot for people and ideas.

Rescue Dawn is certainly the sort of film we expect to see Christian Bale in; it's deep, dark, heavy, and required him to lose massive amounts of weight. But Bale's character is quite a departure for him. Deiter Dengler is optimistic, playful, and even hopeful. Bale has a penchant for playing troubled characters, and even though Deiter is definitely in trouble, he's never troubled. It's also interesting to note that Bale was only doubled for during the plane crash. Apparently, someone told Werner Herzog it would be bad if Batman burned his pretty face off.

The real revelation from this film, however, is Steve Zahn. Aside from having lost forty pounds and being almost completely unrecognizable, he gives an amazing performance as Deiter's friend and fellow pilot, Duane. He is just jaw-droppingly good. And the relationship between Zahn and Bale is pitch perfect.

Jeremy Davies, who is probably most recognizable now for his work on Lost, is incredible in his role as Deiter's antagonist. He's spooky without being unbelievable, and he is scary thin. I'm talking concentration camp victim thin, and he's not exactly fat to begin with. He's the one that's so skinny, it's almost distracting.

Overall, Rescue Dawn is a film that takes one of the most devastating chapters in American history, and shapes a story of hope, perseverance, and the true nature of the American spirit. It's slow at times, and you're put through a lot of heartache before there's any hope, but you'll leave with a smile.
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9/10
Well worth staying up
18 July 2008
The Dark Knight became the third movie I've gone to a midnight showing for (the other two being Revenge of the Sith and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and it was by far the best of those films. The energy in the auditorium was palpable. There were times when we collectively gasped, laughed, and cheered.

For fans of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight is grittier, funnier, and more complicated. As a matter of fact, the film's only drawback is the complicated storytelling. It made the film two and half hours long, and, moreover, it felt two and a half hours long. Also, the PG-13 rating in America, is quite serious. There are some truly gruesome images and Heath Ledger's Joker is one of the most menacing villains ever to appear on the screen. One villain in the host of supporting baddies who got the short end of the stick in the last film and in this one, was Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow. I almost wish they'd left him out entirely, instead of giving the boy a lousy send-off twice, because Murphy could be a fantastic villain in the third film, in my opinion, anyway.

The rest of the returning cast is fantastic, as expected. Christian Bale is perfect as Gotham's self-sacrificing Dark Knight, and he also did a great job with the billionaire playboy side of Bruce Wayne. The banter between Bale and Michael Caine is pitch perfect and is responsible for one of the funniest scenes in the film. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are also given a chance to shine in this film. Oldman was especially fantastic as Jim Gordon. Aaron Eckhart is a great Harvey Dent, and I have an easier time with the chemistry between him and Maggie Gyllenhaal than between Gyllenhaal and Bale. While Maggie Gyllenhaal is her usual great self, it's difficult to pretend that she's Rachel Dawes, not only because she's not physically Katie Holmes, but she's practically playing a different character. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

Overall, it was a fantastic film and a great second installment. My only question is, how will they top themselves for the third one?
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Newsies (1992)
8/10
Fans Carry the Banner
16 July 2008
It will probably always be remembered as a box-office disaster, but Newsies wasn't a disaster because it's a bad movie, it was simply ill timed. If it had been made 35 years earlier, it would have probably been a huge hit, but it came out in 1992 and was an initial disaster. Oops.

Newsies is built on a formula of musicals from the 50s and 60s, and when compared to musicals of that time, it's solid and well-made. The problem is that the filmmakers consciously decided to use old techniques for making the film, instead of reinventing the wheel. I honestly believe that with a few minor adjustments in how the film is shot and cut, Newsies would be a success today. Just look at the success of the High School Musical franchise and Enchanted if you don't believe me.

This film, however, has made legions of fans in the last fifteen years. I originally saw it in school, and later decided to watch it for one reason; namely, Christian Bale, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who discovered this delightful film because of him. Before he donned the cape and cowl, the future Batman was dancing his way through Newsies, and doing a fantastic job for someone who didn't sing or dance prior to making this film. Interestingly, almost none of the leads sang or danced before making this film. Watching the movie, you really wouldn't know, the training those boys got was obviously just that good.

The legions of fans who now carry the banner for Newsies are proof that it was never a bad film, it just came out in the wrong decade. In conclusion, my advice to studio execs, if you're going to produce a box-office bomb, make sure you cast a future super-hero, it'll help you with the rentals.
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10/10
One of the Truly Great Films of Our Time
2 July 2008
This film marked Steven Spielberg's first foray into 'serious' film-making. Serious meaning no aliens, man-eating sharks, or whip-wielding men in fedoras. It was also released in December which is prime Oscar season, and though young Christian Bale was not nominated for an Oscar, he really should have been. Several times he completely blew me away. He took Jim Graham through so many different places and was brilliant at all of them. From snot-nosed British brat to Japanese POW survivor, he was brilliant all the way. I only saw about the last twenty minutes of the film about ten years ago and was moved to tears by the end. I saw the entire film last night and was practically bawling by the end.

The camera work was a bit of a departure for Spielberg, with a lot of sweeping shots and slow pushes in, but it's all gorgeously done. The most beautiful example of how an amazing performance and great cinematography is a scene near the end when the camera very slowly pushes (almost creeps) in on Bale. It's just great film-making.

Bale is the absolute stand out performer in this film, which is good seeing as how he's the main character. It should be no surprise he made it out of the child star mold and became on of the most respected actors of his generation. The much lauded Malkovich is splendid as is British actor Nigel Havers. A young Ben Stiller makes a startling appearance to anyone who's only known him for his more goofy roles (not that he's entirely serious here). Spielberg also broke his own mold and made a great drama with almost no action. It's just an excellent film all around.
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8/10
Good, fun, but it's no Raiders
22 May 2008
I'll be honest, I wasn't born when Raiders of the Lost Ark came out in theatres, but I've been watching it ever since I've been alive. Indy, to me, is better than Han Solo, which is why I was willing to go to a Midnight showing of this film. I wasn't disappointed, but I wasn't overly impressed either.

First, the style is a little off. The director of photography, Douglas Slocombe, from the first three has retired (he's in his nineties) and that left Janusz Kaminski struggling to retain what Slocombe had created, and he didn't always make it work. It was a little jarring to see Harrison Ford in the fedora, but in a different light than what I'm used to. Also part of the beauty of the originals was how much stuff was just real. There were just a few too many matte shots that weren't composited as well as they should have been. I mean, doesn't George Lucas own ILM, the premier effects house in the world? I expected better.

It also appears they let the advancement in technology over the last 19 years go to their heads a little bit. Some of the action set ups are a little over the top, even for Indy, and they wouldn't have been possible until recently.

For the most part, I love the cast. Blanchett is a formidable villain, who's likable in her own villainous way. And as much as I love Ray Winstone as an actor, I could have done without his character, partially because his English was harder to understand than the Russians. Shia LeBeouf is great as Indy's main sidekick and Karen Allen still retains her spark and spunk from the original. William Hurt is fantastic as an archaeologist who's lost his marbles. But all of these characters and a pretty complicated plot take away from something very important: Indy himself. It almost felt like our hero had been sidelined in favor of everyone else.

It might sound like I didn't like the movie, but that's not true. Overall, it was well written, well acted, well made, and it was a ton of fun. It's one of the best movies this year, so far anyway.
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Penelope (2006)
9/10
Beautifully Fantastical
8 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In the first ten minutes of this film, I kept thinking, "Hmm...this looks like a Tim Burton film." And the look is very fantastic in the Burtonesque style, but it lacks the darkness usually associated with the look of Burton's films. Penelope is a light-hearted flick that is infinitely appropriate for your kids.

This film is a fantasy set outside of recognizable space and time. The city in which Penelope lives is an interesting mixture of London and Manhattan, and people speak in both American and English accents, and no one ever questions it. It appears that the likable characters, the "Good Guys", if you will, all speak American and the "Bad Guys" are all decidedly British.

Ricci is a likable heroine. She's bright and spunky despite her sheltered existence. When she goes out into the world, she's a babe in the woods, and Annie (producer Reese Witherspoon) is there to give her the grand tour. Witherspoon is sprightly and likable, but I kept thinking the part was better suited to perennial scene-stealer Judy Greer.

And I cannot say enough about James McAvoy, who plays Penelope's love-interest, Max. I've known who the Scottish actor was since long before The Chronicles of Narnia and The Last King of Scotland. He brings out his American accent for the first time since Band of Brothers, and is absolutely flawless. While he basically looks like a cuter version of Ringo Starr from Sergeant Pepper, he really does rock the hat and scarf look as well as Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge. His character's own struggle is as moving as Penelope's and more relatable.

The supporting cast is also stunning. Catherine O'Hara plays a mom that strongly puts me in mind of Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. She's selfish, but you still feel for her, because you see she's just trying to do what she thinks is best for her daughter. Peter Dinklage plays a tabloid reporter who's been looking for Penelope since she was born, and he goes on his own emotional journey through the film, and, in the end, plays in integral part in the central romance. Simon Woods does a one-eighty from his lovable role in Pride and Prejudice, and plays a snobby, blue-blooded git to perfection. He is unlikeable to the last.

This film also takes some interesting twists that I didn't see coming which takes it beyond the level of a kid's film or even your basic romantic comedy.

My only problem with the film, is actually the central problem in the film; Penelope's curse: she has a pig face. But she's not horrible, she adorable. This is, actually the conclusion a lot of people in the film come to, but I don't see where they ever thought otherwise.

But the film's themes, like loving yourself as you are, are themes Hollywood needs to spread more of, because when you love yourself, others will love you too. I also like the idea of love inspiring people to be better. Penelope's love for Max inspires her to go out into the world. And Penelope's bold journey inspires Max to rid himself of his vices and embrace his talents. It's a beautifully fantastic tale of true love conquering everything, even having a piggy nose.
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Life (I) (2007–2009)
8/10
Character Driven Cop Drama, Great Concept
27 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I've heard a lot of hype the last couple of weeks about Life's Charlie Crews is like Gregory House. Well, while the characters are equally as interesting (and both played by English actors), they are nothing alike.

The set up is this; Charlie Crews was a cop on the beat who went to maximum security prison on a life sentence for twelve years. After twelve years he was proved innocent and, when he gets out he goes back to the force. Things have changed for Charlie though; he's divorced, his mother is dead, his dad is remarrying, and he's loaded. His settlement for the false imprisonment has made him rich, famous and a detective. Everyone thinks he's just in the position because of the settlement, but the truth is, he's actually pretty good, which we find out in the first five minutes.

Crews is even more interesting because he's spent the last twelve years in prison reading "The Path to Zen" and instead of raising his voice when he's angry, like normal people, he spouts off about how the universe is making fun of us. And Crews, unlike House, has a bona fide soft side. (Spoiler) After he fatally wounds a crack head, he tells him, "It's okay, it was just a bad dream. Go back to sleep," as the man dies in his arms, which was a slow and truly touching moment that was actually, you know, sweet for a network television pilot. Damian Lewis plays Crews with such subtlety and sincerity, that the character is completely believable.

Also, unlike "House", Life has a whole cast of complicated and interesting characters. Sarah Shahi's Dani Reese is Crews' partner and a recovered drug addict. She's under pressure from the department both to prove that she's fit for duty and to find a way to get rid of Crews. It's a difficult line to walk for her because, like I said, Crews is good at his job, and Reese respects that.

Reese is also smart. She doesn't believe Crews is Zen enough to have completely let go of his own case, which, as we discover at the very end of the show (Spoiler) he has not. He's devoted a whole room in his ridiculously large house to laying out the case. We see that his old partner and current boss, the person putting pressure on Reese, were involved in setting Crews up, if not the original murder all together. Crews' case is going to be an ongoing plot line, probably throughout the entire series, and it's something I'm looking forward to seeing fleshed out.

My favorite supporting character thus far has got to be Adam Arkin's Ted Early, who was in prison with Crews for insider trading. Now that they're both out and Crews is loaded, Early is his financial adviser and lives above Crews' garage.

The show also makes fun references to how much technology has changed in such a short time span. Crews, having been in prison for twelve years, has no clue that there are such things as camera phones and instant messages. It's interesting to have a character who is very smart, but a little hapless in the modern era.

I'm very interested in both the ongoing story of the series and in the interactions Reese and Crews will have in the future with each other and with the rest of the force. It's a great show, so tune in and watch and keep great TV on the air.
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Coupling (2000–2004)
8/10
Most Definitely NOT like Friends
12 September 2007
Two things about this show made my jaw nearly fall off when I watched it for the first time. 1) Jack Davenport, more commonly known to American audiences as Commodore Norrington from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. I must say he's much better looking as a normal human being and he's a fantastic actor. He delivers one long, complicated, hysterical monologue about every episode. I'd love to see David Schwimmer or Matt LeBlanc try that. 2) Steven Moffat. Until I saw the end credits one night, I had no clue Steven Moffat, a writer I was familiar with from watching Doctor Who, was also responsible for Coupling. Gobsmacked would be a good way to describe my reaction. Coupling is quick-witted sexual farce, Moffat's episodes of Doctor Who tend to be horrendously complicated and terribly emotional. That, ladies and gentlemen, is real talent. It also explains references to Daleks and Oliver's "Bring Back Doctor Who" sweater in the fourth series.

It is a great misconception that Coupling is like Friends. The two shows have only one thing in common, the structure; three guys and three girls, and that's where the similarity ends. Friends is about six people and occasionally their sex lives; Coupling is about, well...sex, oh, and six people. Currently it's on on BBC America at 10/9 central and it always makes the perfect end to my day.
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6/10
On the verge of being a classic
16 October 2006
On the whole, this was an excellent film. It features great performances, gorgeous costumes, and lovely visuals. And I strongly support the liberties they took with the story, primarily making Xerxes younger, and, in effect, producing an actual love story. They could have shortened a few scenes, mostly between Xerxes and his council, and trimmed down the subplots, namely Admantha's plotting, considerably.

One of the larger problems is the score. The cues sometimes don't match the mood of the scene, or the music just sounds like cheesy bible-movie music. They should have spent a little more money on someone who's career highlights go beyond scoring the Mighty Ducks movies.

The biggest problem, by far, is the climax. They build up to this one moment and then, nothing happens. I won't say anything more for fear of spoiling the film, but know that while the end is certainly interesting, it could have been exciting as well, had it ended in the previous scene.
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Heroes (II) (2006–2010)
8/10
Good start, let's wait and see where it takes us
27 September 2006
For years now, the network airwaves have been flooded with procedurals, i.e. the law and order's the csi's, and the various other cop shows on fox and cbs. Variations on these procedurals have put interesting characters in the center, i.e. monk and house. When Lost came out, it was a breath of fresh air, something totally different (though not entirely original) and now it's spawning a lot of imitators.

Heroes seems to be one of the more obvious imitations; it features a large, sprawling cast in unusual circumstances and a plot lay out that will only be resolved throughout the series, instead of episodes resolving themselves. There's even a local heroin addict and a medical professional in Heroes.

Heroes' characters have many directions they can grow into, so I'm not worried about a few of the characters seeming a little flat right now, they have a whole series to grow these people over. However, I don't think this show will gather quite the following that Lost has because Lost is as much character oriented as it is plot oriented. Heroes will always be about what's happening, not who it's happening to.

Heroes is a totally fun ride though. It will keep its sci-fi and comic loving audience, a most loyal group of people, for sure, which will more than likely keep it on the air for a long while. I'm enjoying the ride, let's hope this show can take us through to the conclusion.
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9/10
Swashbuckling at its Best
8 July 2006
Before I give you the review I must give you the preamble. I was going to a 10:00 showing Friday Night, got there an hour early and the line was about three yards from the door. Before we got seated, it was out the door. And a group of six white-haired ladies cut in front of us in the line. It would have been funny if it weren't so incredibly rude.

The movie itself was quite amazing, the makeup was frightening the special effects were awesome but we didn't expect any less. Even though the advertisements proclaim that Captain Jack is back, everyone else gets a lot more character development in this film, especially Will, Elizabeth, and Norrington-who looks much better without a white wig. Mackenzie Crook, Lee Arenberg, and Kevin McNally all return to their roles, which have been greatly expanded.

New characters appear including the shockingly horrible Davy Jones, and Bootstrap Bill Turner. And the Kracken, which I won't ruin by telling you about it.

There's much more slapstick, which I highly enjoyed, to this one and everyone gets to participate. I warn you now, the ending is a HUGE cliffhanger.

Overall, it was a wonderful film and highly enjoyable, and while it is two and a half hours long, it doesn't feel that way, because you never get bored. Wind in your sails, matey!
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8/10
Awesome, but a little long
30 June 2006
Overall, it was awesome. Brandon Routh is my new Superman (it was Dean Cain and Tom Welling because I've grown up watching them). He does an excellent scene at the very end of the film that will tear your heart out. Kate Bosworth's performance left a little to be desired in spots,mostly in her scenes with Perry White, but overall, it was good. Tristan Lake Treudeau, who plays Lois' son, Jason,was a real bright spot. And for those James Marsden fans who think he got totally ripped off with the X-Men movies, he's got a big part in this film and he gets to look totally heroic, which is weird considering that he's not actually the hero. And Kevin Spacey is totally spot-on, but we didn't expect any less.

It did, however, go on just a bit too long. Not King Kong too long, just a little too long. A few frames could have been snipped from some of the more lingering shots and it would have been perfect.

The cinematography and special effects were amazing and beautiful. I loved how they went with a very classic 30s styling for the costumes of the main characters and for the sets in general. It was a wonderful touch that sort of takes you into the world of fantasy without taking you out of reality. The styling also makes the film look as though it could be set in any time, which will let the film be relatable to audiences in the future. This is definitely a film with longevity.

I'm glad Bryan Singer got to direct his dream film. That's some bad hat, Harry.
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9/10
I hope I'm like this when I get old
22 April 2006
Last of the Summer Wine doesn't come on until 11 pm on the local PBS station, but it's always worth the lack of sleep.

It's a rare comedy nowadays that can be genuinely funny without being crude. The three old men at the center of the show are constantly involved in antics worthy of Lucille Ball. The wide array of supporting characters are representative of real-life characters to be found in any small town in any country, which is probably why it appeals to me, a girl from a small town in the Midwestern United States.

It's heartwarming, funny, and for the entire family. What more could you want?
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King Kong (2005)
6/10
A good film that could have been great were it an hour shorter
16 December 2005
This is a 200+ million dollar picture. And I can definitely see where all the money went. There are several different species of dinosaurs, giant insects, giant slugs, rather large centipede looking things that put their antennae in Naomi Watts' mouth (this was the only scene that truly grossed me out), and of course, a giant gorilla. Kong is really impressive. He looks real and the animators did a wonderful job of putting life into his eyes. Naomi Watts' performance also makes you believe Kong is real.

The basic story has much more depth than the original film. You feel connected to the characters and you understand why they are willing to go into the Heart of Darkness to save a woman from a giant gorilla.

The real problem with this movie is that there are just too many scenes of people, or people and gorillas, staring at each other. And some of the fight sequences, while very impressive, just take too long.

What Peter Jackson was doing with this film was trying to add heart, character and depth to what is basically a splatter film. You'll want to see this movie on the big screen because of the special effects, but this film really doesn't have much appeal beyond the special effects.

6/10
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9/10
A truly beautiful film
10 December 2005
When Peter Jackson made The Lord of the Rings into an epic trilogy, I knew that someday soon my favorite story as a child would come to life. This film is everything I could have hoped for. The special effects were amazing. When the various creatures spoke, it didn't seem like a puppet was speaking, it seemed like the animal was actually speaking. And I don't think anyone has ever managed to make CG fur look this realistic. I am also very impressed with the centaurs. They blended a real person on what was probably CG horse. These centaurs were about 100 times better than the last centaur I saw, which was in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. This is also a wonderful film about forgiveness and how families will always stand by one another, even in the darkest of times. This aspect of the film is well acted by all four children in the leading roles. No film is perfect, however. There is at least one shot where the children are very obviously against a backdrop, though I do think there is at least one shot like this in every effects laden film. And while the centaurs are quite impressive, what I think are supposed to be Minotaurs are not impressive at all, they just look like guys in big fury suits, which is probably what they are. There has also been a lot of controversy about how this is some sort of Christian propaganda story, which it's not. It's a fantasy just like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars. I'm really surprised more controversy hasn't been raised over the fact that you basically have children leading others into battle. This idea is kind of a risky notion in today's political climate. This idea will probably go over most children's' heads, but it is definitely something to think about as an adult. I saw this film in an auditorium full of children, parents, grandparents, and teenagers and the end was met with thunderous applause. This is a truly beautiful film that appeals to the young and the old in all of us.
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8/10
A highly underrated film
25 October 2005
I have seen this film twice. The second time I was more convinced of its beauty. The film is beautifully lit and filmed and the art direction is superb. The acting from Joseph Feinnes, Connie Neilson, and Marton Csokas is excellent. Benjamin Bratt's performance seemed a little thin, but he honestly doesn't have a huge part in the film. I almost wanted to scream the word enunciate at James Franco by the end of the film. His character's narration of the film is fine, but his dialogue is a little mushy. The film isn't really about the raiders, it's about the raid. This approach led to scant character development for the raiders and the audience being told what was about to happen way too many times. The character development for the POWs was excellent and this made the audience really want the raiders to be successful. It wasn't quite the kind of war movie I enjoy, but it is a great throw-back to the war films of the 50s and 60s.
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Elizabethtown (2005)
10/10
I have never seen a film that made me cry after I left the theater, until now.
22 October 2005
Cameron Crowe has managed to capture life in a single film. I've never seen a Cameron Crowe film before, so I didn't know he was capable of that. Basic storyline, Drew Baylor has to go to Elizabethtown, Kentucky from his home in Oregon to plan the funeral of his father and meets an interesting young woman, Claire, who helps him feel like he can live again. You see, I have a Southern family, and when I say Southern, I mean deep fried, as in Tennessee and Mississippi. I saw in this film a true Southern family with all of its dysfunctions and with all of its love. Southerners do have a distaste for outsiders, a love of food, and a strange fascination with death, but once they know you, they will take you to their bosom. And Crowe manages to portray Southerners without making fun of them, which is not something a lot of people manage. He juxtaposes a wedding with a funeral and both are big affairs in the south as they should be in life. The last part of the film is a road trip mapped out by Claire (Kirsten Dunst) that Drew (Orlando Bloom) takes with the ashes of his father. He sees the place where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. And he visits the memorial of the Oklahoma City bombing. I'm going to stop here and say that I am a native born Oklahoman, and I was in the third grade on April 19, 1995. It was nice to know that somebody who is not from Oklahoma remembered, respected, and honored the victims and the survivors of the tragedy in such a way. Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst both give wonderful performances (probably the best of both of their careers) in this film. Dunst is perfect at being sweet, Southern, and mischievous. Bloom is great when he's having his heart-to-heart with his father (who is in an urn) and he's laughing and crying at the same time. This happens in real life a lot, but you rarely see it in movies because so few actors can get to that place emotionally and sell it on screen. Overall, it's a beautiful film. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love.
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Four Brothers (2005)
8/10
Moving and Entertaining, if slightly predictable
14 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a girl who likes action movies. And while this movie has great action it also has great acting, which is something most directors of action films tend to forget about these days. I will admit that it is sometimes hard during the action sequences to tell who's who, but this only happens once and I think it's mostly due to the snow in the scene. And some parts of it are a little predictable. For instance, about the time the movie started, I knew there weren't going to be four brothers at the end and in about fifteen minutes I had figured out which one was going to get it. That being said, their investigations into their mother's death takes some interesting and unexpected turns that makes up for the rest of the predictability of the film. The film shows the good and bad on both sides of the law. It's well written with that perfect blend of drama, comedy (many of the scenes between the brothers are hilarious), and action. It is definitely the best gritty action flick to hit theatres this summer and more than worth the price of admission.
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Stealth (2005)
7/10
Highly entertaining
31 July 2005
The first thing you need to realize is that this was never meant to be any deeper than a kiddie pool. I knew that going in and I was highly entertained. There's a really cool twist on the whole evil A.I. storyline, which is about as unpredictable as the movie gets. And it's not just one big action sequence after another. There are some really beautiful shots of locations in Thailand and New Zealand. The story is a touch thin at times, but you expect that with this kind of film. The bottom line is that this film is worth seeing in theatres. It'll lose a lot visually if you wait for it to come out on DVD. And when you do go see it, keep in mind that the film-makers weren't going for an Oscar, and you will leave entertained and smiling.
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9/10
Ridley's Finest, Orlando's Best
9 May 2005
After Troy I've started going into movies with low expectations, but I couldn't help going into this one with high expectations because we're talking about Ridley Scott here. And I wasn't disappointed. Amazing cinematography and art direction. Stunning and symbolic visuals in the story line itself and the battle scenes. And speaking as a Lord of the Rings fan, the main battle sequence at Jerusalem is the equal of the siege of Minas Tirith in Return of the King. This is more of an ensemble piece than Gladiator was, so anyone who has issues with Orlando Bloom, he just about disappears for about thirty minutes in the middle of the movie, however, Bloom totally comes into his own as an actor by the end of the film. Bloom also does a wonderful job at the beginning of the movie communicating without actually speaking. Speaking as a Christian, I found it a beautiful film with beautiful performances from EVERY member of its cast. It is more than worth seeing.
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Guess Who (2005)
A Movie For All People
28 March 2005
This movie is not just about Black and White. It's about family. Ashton Kutcher's character sums it up pretty early in the movie, "No man looks forward to meeting his future father-in-law." Every father worries about what kind of man their daughter is going to bring home. This is a simple fact. Hollywood has also tried for many years to forget that racial stereotypes and racial discord still exist in places outside of the deep south in our society, and it's refreshing to see them acknowledge it. The movie in particular is really funny. Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac make a great comedy team and Kutcher and Zoe Saldana have wonderful chemistry together. Ashton Kutcher also does a pretty good Bernie Mac imitation throughout the film, though someone should probably tell Kutcher he needs to stop singing in movies, he's not very good at it. Just go to the theater with your friends or relations with all thoughts of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner out of your head and you will enjoy this movie immensely.
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