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I cite the rank where it is, where I think it should be, and the reason(s) why.
With some reviews attached. (Work in progress)
The Fifth Element (1997)
A Big-bada-boom of a movie -- Green?
This movie is so funky on so many levels. I absolutely love Luc Besson's work. The setting is fabulous with the nuances taken for granted in that day and age and are a brilliant eclectic mix of past, present and future; The vehicles, fashion, McDonald's, Military, Opera etc etc Milla Jovovich was sublime, there is no superlatives that are adequate to describe her performance. She Brought the absolutely adorable character of Leeloo to life.
Similarly Bruce Willis was excellent with all his usual mannerisms and quirky attitudes. Gary Oldman just hit Zorg on the head and finally kudos to Chris Tucker, he was just hilariously brilliant - "Green?" With a funky industrial soundtrack the Fifth Element is a fast paced and genuinely good fun movie.
Oh.... and he we go for the fans; Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat :)
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Star Trek :Perfection
The quintessential example of how a Star Trek movie should be done;
(1) TNG cast are awesome (as usual), (2) The Enterprise has a new make over, (3) Beverley Crusher looking hotter than ever, (4) Great battle scenes, (5) Awesome new weapon with a cool name - Quantum torpedo, (6) The Borg - the best ST protagonist ever, (7) Witty dialogue and excellent character interactions (8) Troi was even decent !!! (9) The Borg Queen was fantastically portrayed (10) A truly awesome musical score....
.... what more is there to say? all but perfect!
(The review is so concise and succinct that I have to add this to meet the minimum line requirements :P)
Minority Report (2002)
In our not too distant future, most of this could be real...
This would have to be one of the most under-rated movies around. I love the premise and execution. Love the spiders, sick-sticks, all the vehicles, the character interactions etc The setting looked actually all too real and a distinct possibility if technology was there. I know some people have issues with Tom Cruise, but I think he was awesome in this movie. Special Kudos to the doctor (quack quack).... can you imagine biting into that sandwich and drinking that milk? how many of you thought or shouted "Ewwww... no no!" Overall a fine and realistic Sc-fi that with a little push in modern technology, could be our future.
The Benchmark of future Sci-Fi movies...
This movie is stunning. Not into the Gaia type thing, but the clash of cultures highlighting the obvious pathetic human existence of money grabbing at the expense of all else.
Personally there is little in this movie that I find fault with. It draws you in so you want to be Jake in his avatar, you want to fly those beasts, and you cheer when the humans get their comeuppance :) I love the scenes of the females standing over the male in a protective stance.... something usually role-reversed. I found it natural, refreshing, and I whole-heartedly agreed with that equality.
I saw it at the movies a few times in both 3D and standard, and both were fantastic. It was the first Blu-ray movie I bought and is magnificently vibrant through the Oppo, Denon, and Plasma screen.
10/10 all the way, and I don't rate many movies that high!
AvP meets Friday the 13th
It becomes so noticeable that the Strause Brothers took every most memorable aspect of both the Predator and Alien franchises, and melded them into AvP:R, Ergo, looks, sounds, music and atmosphere. And on a certain level it works very very well. It seemed a conglomeration of all the best aspects from all the movies, from the opening sound of the motion tracker...
Anyway... The setting is immediately after the first AvP. Sure there are massive plot holes for example how did the new Predator arrive so quickly? But thats OK. The scenes in the forest were very reminiscent of the original Predator and funnily enough, the Rambo:First Blood forest hunting feel.
The story overall was very interesting. Uncontrollable outbreak of an Alien infestation and the reaction of town, local police, National Guard and ultimately the Government. Problem is, it felt rushed. For 104mins, it could have been fleshed out more. The pace was frenetic for the most, but seemed 'too' fast in places. I felt that they could have taken at least one or two more shots to en capture the emotional state of the characters when the realisation of their final predicament was upon them, ergo the holed-up townsfolk, the escaping people, doctors at the hospital etc. I believe that the movie would have been far superior if they allowed certain characters to be fleshed out more and in general adjust the pacing. Movies nowadays tend to be over the 2 hour mark, AvP:R needed it.
The gore factor was definitely upped to near maximum, but I believe the Strause Brothers have upped the ante by showing the realism of horror impacting children, and dare I say babies! I was reminded of the Friday the 13th movies of the innovative ways in which to see victims eviscerated.
The resultant 'alien' from ending of AvP was interestingly nasty and there will be countless debates comparing the pure Queen in a Mano-DE-Mano (well the female equivalent) with the Pred Alien.
Apart from the already mentioned collection of 'best of' bits from the two franchises, it will be apparent to the hard core fans that the Strause Brothers are real fans. You will notice clever references to the Aliens V Predator novels (Prey and Hunter's Planet) of 'Dachande' (Yeyinde) and the striking similarity of Noguchi. All that was missing was Ne'dtessei written on the outside of the Predator ship :) The Cinematic release was a decent offering. I am hoping that there is a Director's Cut version on the DVD release that addresses the pacing. Fans of the franchises will be pleased, in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this movie is the catalyst for a movement to create another Alien movie based on the 'fans wanted' Earth being taken over by Aliens.
The Rocky Five and death knell of the Harry Potter Franchise
I haven't read the books and maybe Order of the Phoenix (OOTP) is an accurate telling of the book. But for me, I have lost all affection for the Harry Potter franchise. OOTP is too dark, too complicated and has lost the magic that endeared me to the blockbusting phenomena that the first two Harry Potter's instilled.
I understand that the saga must advance and Harry and Ron et al must evolve as they age, but the look, feel and sound of OOTP bears little resemblance to the first two (and even the third). The story for me is so disjointed from the fourth and the glaring anomalies and pure stupid plot holes are unforgivable. There's nothing really new to delight, the pacing is slow and laborious and the characters become annoying and wooden.
I have said this before in previous Harry Potter reviews, but Gambon's portrayal is terrible, and I find myself constantly mourning Richard Harris' passing. I just do not like Gambon's work in the franchise. He has ruined all credibility of the all powerful but controlled Headmaster. But his performance aside, I feel all the actors seemed to be bored and no one stood out- with the exception of Imelda Staunton's portrayal of Dolores Umbridge. I seriously disliked Umbridge, and we are supposed to, but I felt no joy in her demise, no one stepped up to the plate. Ron Weasley and Granger were token appearances, Radcliffe's performance was wooden and amateurish, and Gary Oldman, and especially Maggie Smith and Emma Thomson, had little to do. Voldermort's appearance was nothing special and the supposed highlights of the movie was at best a yawn fest.
I do not like this movie and have no interest in further installments in the franchise. My eleven year old son (who has not read the books) was left scratching his head saying it was too complicated, he didn't understand parts, and it had lost it's magic... I couldn't agree more.
A Century of Living (1999)
A look at history through the eyes of those who were there.
This documentary was too short. You will fall in love with the real people that blesses us by sharing their memories and experiences from the close of the 19th Century, to the dawning of the 21st Century. All interviewees were born in 1900 or earlier and they are magnificent! They willingly share their experiences that were touched by joy, sadness, loss, hope, struggle and happiness. Some with twinges of regret, but all with a passion for life.
They discuss their early childhood, schooling, teenage years, exploration with the opposite sex, war, social restrictions, depression, dawn of the automobile and aeroplane, advancement of technology, family life, and so much more... I was riveted to all they said. It underlined my own mortality and caused an introspection of what is important.
The only criticism was that the program was too short. I found myself wanting them to dedicate an entire hour to talking about one event of the early 1900's or their feelings and experiences just after World War II etc.
I would say that many of those interviewed would have passed on in the years since 'A Century of Living' was filmed, and after hearing and seeing them, I for one feel more enlightened, but also saddened by their passing. But the joy is that their wisdom and fragment of life that filled and made who we are now, is forever captured on film for us that live on to encompass, learn and enjoy.
Perfection in the worst possible way !
Manticore is woeful from the beginning to the end. There is so much wrong with it, that it belies belief.
A 'terrorist' brings back to life a 2000 yr old mythical creature in the middle of the Iraqi war! And the virtually indestructible Manticore goes on a rampage.
Horrendously poor acting; Robert Beltran is as woody and ineffectual, equalling his very worst performance on Star Trek: Voyager. Chase Masterson is sooo incredibly annoying I actually cheered when the monster presumably had its way with her! In fact only the occasional Jeff Fahey appearance was the acting saving grace.
The monster itself was a joke. The CGI looked like it was handled by pubescent first time computer users. I can fully understand why this production skipped the big screen and video/DVD sales and straight onto TV.
It is that bad, However I can say it has a twin in cheesy deplorable monster/horror genre; check out Bugs(2003) and yours truly's comments ;) They could release Bugs and Manticore as a 'Dastardly D-grade Duo'
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Would not be heard of if Samuel L Jackson wasn't the star !
Seriously, if Samuel L Jackson was not connected to this project, Snakes on a Plane (SoaP) would not have received as much publicity, nor had the same marketing budget. In fact I bet it wouldn't have made 1/10th as much money. Come on... it really is a low B grade movie(just).
Suspend belief at every turn, ignore the hokey CGI, ignore the unrealistic plot, killing time, etc etc....
However, if you want to experience the 'glory' days of the 1950's B-grademania ala 21st century style, then SoaP is for you! But don't let the kids see this.
On a more serious note, Im sure Steve Irwin will be turning in his grave and Austin Stevens will be moaning with despair at how Hollywood has re-stereotyped snakes... watch the kill rate get turned up.
Better than you will think, not quite as good as you hoped for.. but generally satisfying.
Chaos was actually very different from the usual run of the mill *yawn yawn* action movies. Maybe because I like Jason Statham so much, but I enjoyed Chaos. Sure it was predictable, but it tried to be clever, different and have that twist. And its almost funny seeing Statham switch from London to American accent all the time, and Snipes wasn't the best.. but on the whole it was a better than your average movie.
So the quick synopsis; Statham is a much maligned suspended detective called in to be a negotiator in a bank robbery. The siege becomes complicated, and the audience has to understand the past and present to unravel the future and what is really going on.
OK down to the nitty-gritty. Chaos could have been a class act if it was done just a tad differently. Snipes needed to be as controlled as he was in the beginning, Statham should have stayed English accent, and the plot (punchline) should not have been delivered with a sledgehammer - or - not trust the audience to work things out without feeling the need to spell it out TOO clearly. I am reminded of another excellent and cognitive heist movie when seeing Chaos. I will not say it's name as that may be unwittingly revealing.
Statham is one of my favourites from Lock/Stock, Transporter etc and I like his presence in every performance I have seen him in thus far. Snipes I could take or leave yet I was happy he didn't try to encompass the entire screen! but the pleasant surprise I had was with Ryan Phillipe. I think he's becoming a class actor and I would love to see him land some plum roles that highlights his talent.
Overall, Chaos tries a philosophical and clever approach that is different from the average outing; regardless of what the DVD front cover may suggest, possessing a hypnotic funky score, in general good acting and a decent enough plot... overlook the obvious anomalies, and Chaos provides value.