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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At Patience End, 29 May 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End - Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) Elizabeth Swan (Kiera Knightly) and a host of too many other people go and rescue Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from a sort of purgatory because they need him to help overturn the East India Trading Company and defeat Davey Jones. It's a plot that shouldn't be too too complicated, but boy it endeavors to make your head spin. I loved the first two Pirates films and pretty much knew the characters and plot lines, but I still couldn't fathom some character's motivations or why some things were happening. It felt at times like the directors were putting the movie together by way of a jigsaw puzzle.

I found no fault in the acting. Depp was great as usual, but being that these films are more or less him, it is questionable as to why he's given so little to do. Geoffrey Rush is great though tame this time. Knightly is fine, though I don't know who thought it was a good idea to rip off Braveheart. Bloom, funny enough, gives his best performance in any of the trilogy. Bill Nighy turns in a better performance than last time as Davy Jones.

There's no fault in the acting or special effects, though there's little notable action and nothing that approaches the brilliance of the three way swordfight in #2. This movie hinted at a sort of mad brilliance on ocassion, but like Spider-man 3, just seemed to be too high on it's own popularity.

The script by far carries the brunt of the fault here. There were far too many ridiculous plot-holes and vague explanations. Also like SM3 there were too many unnecessary plot lines. Why the hell was Tia Dalma given so much (and yet so little) to do? Her plot-line was pointless. Why was Chow Yun Fat in this movie if he had nothing to do? How did the main cast get to Singapore if they didn't have a crew or a ship? The film is too long and overdrawn. You could have cut about an hour from this film and it probably would've been better. There's fun to be had, but the lasting feeling is irritation.

This was one of those movies that I really wanted to like and for the critics to be wrong about. But they're right. The movie is mediocre, and that's a shame. I hope one of the "Third" movies this summer will break the curse, one even more horrible than that caused by cursed Aztec gold. My favorite films are being tarnished by these lackluster sequels. Screw the horror re-makes. In 10-15 years time, I know what we'll be remaking.

This gets a C

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Mission Unlikable, 12 May 2007

Former spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is called back into action to recover a missing IMF Agent. But complications arise when his fiancée is captured and he must fight to get her back.

First off, I wanted something fun to turn my brain off to this weekend. I thought an action movie with Phillip Seymour Hoffman would be fun to watch. I was half-right. Hoffman is a treat. This film is not.

Tom tom tom. What kind of talentless egotrip is this film? Yes, we get to watch you run around like a gazelle hopped up on amphetamines (I just know that the footage was sped up). Yes, you shoot things and blow things up. But I thought you would've learned from what made for passable viewing in War of the Worlds. We need to see that your character is HUMAN. There's no suspense when a man can rail shoot three guys like it's no problem, run four miles without breaking much of a sweat, and all the other $hit in this film, unless I actually care about the characters. Tom-bot is bloody indestructible. They try, oh do they try to give Tom a human side, but there isn't any emotional depth to be found, and you'll find yourself thinking about other things when he hangs out with his wife and thinks about a now-dead former student.

Didn't care about Tom. Didn't care about Rhames, who really just nags and whines about relationships. Yuck. It's nigh insufferable. Rhys-Meyers is here as the other closeted gay actor, and he too, runs around a lot. Fishburne looks like a fat sack of crap. Post-Matrix depression? Maggie Q blows up a beautiful car. What is with the destruction of beautiful machines in action films these days? Do they think that middle to lower class audiences like to see things they'll never own get destroyed? Simon Pegg is in this for too little time. He's a joy and the screen lights up with his presence.

No one is taking this seriously except Hoffman. And while that's not entirely a bad thing, No one is taking this seriously enough to have fun. Hoffman has fun, as did I watching him (The opening scene of the film is by far the best one) but nearly everyone is just going (running, it would seem) through the paces. Stunts that should be amazing seem ho-hum, business as usual. People finish each others clichéd lines.

Now, a film has to be supremely awful for me to walk out (I'm not one of those patience-less shmucks that always walk out) but I'm not sure whether I could've stood this movie had it not been for the pause button. Aside from Hoffman, it's entirely forgettable. D+

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fun movie, though WAY too much camp and Sandman., 4 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spider-Man 3 - After having his life virtually suck every which way in #2, Peter Parker/Spiderman (Tobey Maguire)is the hero of New York in #3. He's beloved by the public, open about himself with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), and Peter gets a bad-ass black symbiote suit. What could go wrong? Three things (well more like two, but more on that later). His Uncle Ben's killer is not the man we saw in the first movie but actually Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church in a plot change I do NOT like) a low-level thug who obtains sand-powers and super strength. Peter's former best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), aka Goblin Jr., knows Peter's alter ego and is hellbent on revenge. And lastly Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), Peter's photographer-rival and antithesis gets the symbiote suit to become.....VENOM. Oh, and Peter's relationship with Mary Jane breaks down, again.

If that sounded like a mouthful of a plot, trust me, it's not when you see it on screen. It's pretty easy to follow if you've seen the other movies. And as for the scoffing at the mysterious and convenient plot device of the symbiote suit, no one complained at Peter inexplicably losing his spider powers in #2.

I've read several reviews of this film, good and bad, and braced myself for the worst (and hoped it wasn't true). This is a decent movie. It's not anywhere up to the level of the 2nd movie, which was less of an action movie and more of a focus on Peter (seriously, no one else in that film got even a quarter of the screen-time he did) getting sucker-punched every which way. All the adults liked it, and I grew to love it.

This time, there's action all around, with at least five very fun action sequences that show us just exactly what that ungodly sum of money they spent on this film went into. The aforementioned symbiote suit augments Peter's strength and agility and turns Peter into an Emo beatnik jerk that watched 50's gangster musicals way too many times, and it's absolutely hilarious.

The whole "bad-Peter" worked for me (it may not for other people) because I've known all along that Peter's a nerdy boyscout, and a nerdy boyscout going bad is just going to think of archetypes of badness. James Dean anyone? With all the old Marvel groups getting a revamp into now-time approximately, it IS disorienting to see Spidey still into the 50s and 60s. Maguire's at the top of his game here, and I liked his performance a lot.

However at times this movie seemed too funny for a Spidey movie. J.K. Simmons and Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell were all hysterical but the film accessed the cheese and camp factor a little too much, suggesting that Raimi looked to his own roots for this picture, which can be a bad thing depending on your feelings for the Evil Dead series. Topher Grace and James Franco were a treat for me, they were having fun and loving every minute of their screen-time as rightful bad-asses. After two films Franco is finally given something to do, and he was wonderful. Grace is funny and quirky, and his turn as Venom should not disappoint to all but the stingiest of fans.

Thomas Haden Church as Sandman turned out to be the crutch of the whole movie for me. It wasn't his fault. He's a good actor. The writing in of him being the *accidental* killer of Uncle Ben, as well as giving Sandman an "ill" daughter to make us feel sympathy for him, stung of cheap manipulation. Why not give him AIDs and an animal shelter to run as well? The effects used to show his powers were wondrous. Why bog it down with melodrama? The whole "give the villains some pity" was Sam Raimi trying to replicate the "good doctor" thing with Doctor Octopus from Spiderman 2. Raimi doesn't realize that villains don't always need a long sympathetic back-story. Some people are just @ssholes. This film needed less of Sandman and waaaaay more of Venom. HE was terrifying and his situation understandable. If Raimi had done more with him the film would've been better.

It's still a good film, though from all the backlash I hear, you'll probably love or hate this movie depending on your tastes. I give no definites on liking this one or not. If you liked Spider-man 2 but not 1 you'll probably dislike this movie. In any cases you'll probably have a few gripes as I do, cause it's not a perfect film. It has a good conclusion and does the first two justice for the most part. I know I'll probably see it again.

I give it a B-

Hot Fuzz (2007)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Loved Shaun and I love this one too!, 23 April 2007

Hot Fuzz - Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's second film collaboration in which super-cop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is reassigned (on account of making everyone else on the force look bad by comparison) to a sleepy town where the crime rate is near zero. Yet a hint of intrigue is in the air, in the guise of ex-007 Timothy Dalton (I give away nothing. The movie glaringly implies his malevolence half a dozen times.) who is finally given something of merit to do film-wise. Angel meets bumbling sidekick Danny Butterman (Nick Forst, lovable as ever), his new partner. Frost and Pegg have such wonderful chemistry and it doesn't really matter that Frost is really just rehashing his character from Shaun. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. There are numerous cameos that only the British or BBC America fans will notice, but you might recognize Bill Nighy, Steve Coogan and Steven Merchant.

This movie is off the f*cking chain! It lampoons quite possibly the easiest to parody of movie genres (perhps second to slashers), yet makes you remember the films with fondness. Where other parody films would just put down the film or, more likely, mimic a scene from the film with some fart joke or cartoon violence (Date/Epic/Scary Movie hacks, I'm thinking of you). The film has numerous take-offs like a stupid strongman with near invulnerability, a la James Bond of course, and also makes reference to films like Point Break, Bad Boys and many others.

Like Shaun of the Dead, A movie I love, this movie actually transcends comedy and willfully becomes a part of the genre it spoofs. I actually kinda want to go and watch Point Break now. Also like Shaun, it has incredible wit and numerous jokes that come to be prophetic and revealing about the plot. It's quite likely you'll miss a few jokes (sometimes because you laughed too hard at some part the first time, sometimes they're too subtle), making replay value of the film a bonus. The talks about one-liners are hysterical. There's also enough gun-play and explosions to satisfy any action movie junkie. And the movie has a heart to go with the laughs, due to the film's oh-so likable lead duo.

A wonderful comedy/action film. I know I'll buy it on DVD and watch it many times over. A's all the way. Now when'd the next one coming out?

300 (2006)
1 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Very fun, but no Sin City, 9 March 2007

300 300 - A film adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel, which was based on a movie "The 300 Spartans" that was based on the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C.

Or to put it more simply, a bunch of guys with swords and spears go up against the big bad Persians. You either like this sort of thing or you don't. I do. My friends didn't, but they're a hard bunch to please (and lord, oh lord I know I'll get comments from them on this).

Gerard Butler stars and almost makes up for his turn as the Phantom in that Schumacher movie. He reminded me a little of Sean Connery, not just because of the same Scotsman accent (was there a genuine Greek in the cast?) , but also because of the same dry quip delivery, but with plenty of malice to go along. Lena Headey (funny last name) is the only important member of the cast without a Y chromosome. She's a good actress, but the lengthening of her part means a small sub-story that doesn't quite work, but does break up the fights a bit. And it wouldn't be an epic battle movie without a cast member from Lord of the Rings there (Orlando Bloom isn't to be found, strangely). David Wenhem, who played Faramir, is here as narrator and soldier, and sound support.

My only major complaint is the guy they got to play Xerxes. I tried to wrap my head around him, but it just DID NOT WORK. Yes, he's the big bad guy. That doesn't mean the big bad guy has to sound like Darth Vader with the bass amped up. It's just doesn't work when linked up with the black guy (who's not black in real life, funny enough) who's covered in jewelry and too much eye make-up. yeesh. it was meant to be other-worldly, it just came off as bad.

Plenty of naked women, though strangely for Gracean times they're all 0-sized models. Plenty of sweet sweet fight scenes, and really, that's what we're there for, right? And damn, are these fights gory, but I never felt it was gratuitous. There are those oh so great one-liners that Frank Milelr is well-known for. There are some monsters, to which my friends commented that it felt like Lord of the Rings over again. I will admit that yes, 300 is not the freshest kid on the block, but it is very pretty, very bloody, and very very fun.

A solidly fun swords and shields movie, 300 gets a B+

Babel (2006)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Bit of a let-down., 4 January 2007

At long last, Babel. As anyone who sees me on a regular basis knows, I have waited a long time to see this movie. This is one case where the wait was not worth the product.

Babel - The film is four vaguely interconnected vingettes, the primary one involving a woman (Cate Blanchett) who is shot by a rifle while on on vacation in the Moroccan desert and her husband (Brad Pitt). However, both of these actors seem to be used primarily for their namedraw, as neither is given much to do acting wise. It's nice not to see Brad Pitt play a cornball Clooney lackey or secret agent smoothy to Angelina Jolie, but he has little to do beyond being the desperate concerned husband, while Cate Blanchett screams, bleeds and pees. We've come a long way from looking spookily serene and omniscient in the Lord of the Rings movies, haven't we?

The other vignettes are better. The story I found the most interesting and disturbing was the one set in Japan that was the least connected to any of the other stories. It was interesting and different to have a deaf-mute Japanese girl as the protagonist, and the use of music and the lack of it was perhaps the most interesting card the film had to play. It's such a fish out of water experience to go from people talking in Spanish to Arabic to Japanese.

I've heard a few blurbs about this film here and there. My mother thought the film was "better than Crash." Now that I've seen it, I highly disagree. Crash had a message to make. Babel really doesn't. It has interesting plot points and situations, but nearly all of the "surprises" are rather predictable and dreary. Crash had moments of feeling to go with it's sadness, whereas Babel is just rather depressing, and all of the plots are in a downward spiral from the get-go. Also, for four short stories, Babel is rather long, and you feel it near the last hour. Howvever, both films have a strong ensemble cast.Babel is a beautiful film conceptually and musically, and it's nice to see a movie that's a couple of A-list stars away from being a foreign film and still getting so much attention. It's just a shame that it wasn't a better film that was grabbing so many Golden Globe nominations.

Good but not Great, Babel gets a B+

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Night at the Bad Movie., 31 December 2006

Ugh. Night at the Bad Movie aka Night at the Museum.

This has got to be one of the worst films I've seen all year. If my aunt hadn't asked me to join my little cousins in watching it, I wouldn't have come at all. And, being the sort of person that likes to rank on bad films as much as possible, I'm gonna suck my 5.50's worth out of it. Like John Tucker, this is one that was not made for my audience, but man oh man did it still suck on so many levels. Remember when kids films, while not being works of art, were accessible from all different ages? Between Madagascar, Cars, and this piece of sh!t, I'm beginning to feel that kids films are to be enjoyed by kids and loathed by anyone whose age ranks in the double digits.

First off, Ben Stiller sucked. The man is funny if tempered into the proper character with the proper script, but his nerdy "Meet the Parents" shtick wears it's thinnest yet.The kid who plays his son can't act to save his soul, and I nearly fell asleep on four separate points. I'm not sure why the fact that Ben Stiller can't hold onto a job is of such disappointment to his son, but being that his son spends the entire film, no matter what emotion the scene calls for, with a vague grin, I'm guessing he's gone to the Keanu school of acting.

Also, remember when kids movies were funny? Well if you like pee jokes and Ben Stiller whining at computer generated dinosaurs and monkies, this is a goldmine. The film has Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais, but both are on such tight leashes to avoid anything remotely offensive or funny that you wonder why they hired any comedians to do this film. I laughed once, at a Gervais scene that I'm positive was an improv. Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney are in this film, a disheartening thing I'm sure for their fans.

There is hardly an original aspect to this film if you've so much as glanced at "The Indian and the Cupboard" book or movie, or watched Jumanji (which, flawed and cartoonish as it was, was still light-years ahead of this movie in quality and humor). I think there's a moral somewhere in this film, but like all the comedians and elderly actors, it's purely window dressing.

I know what you're thinking, "But Joey, surely the movie isn't THAT insufferable? There must be SOMETHING good in it?" You're right. There is. There's an extended trailer for Spiderman3 and a cool scene from the second Fantastic Four movie before this movie starts. The music is pretty. The animals are pretty. Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson make for cute little micromachine figurines. The rest of this film is an insufferable mess. It gets a D-

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Dry martini? Give me a damn pint., 17 November 2006

Casino Royale Casino Royale - A modern version of the beginning of James Bond's career. Think of it as "Batman Begins" to the James Bond movies. C'mon, it's not that difficult a concept to grasp. And if you still can't, there are still pretty explosions and people getting killed to distract you from thinking.

The character has changed actors 6 times; he's become more of an archetype than a human. And that's where this film really shines. We see the transformation of a very skilled (and very flawed) James Bond in the rough and watch him evolve into the suave martini sipping agent that can do no wrong.

Of course, this would still not be a very good film if not for a portrayal of James that's second only to Connery. Daniel Craig gives a superb performance. Through all the gadgets, cars and cheesy world domination plots we've lost the cold hard fact that James is ultimately an assassin that happens to be working for the good guys. He has a wicked sense of humor (and Craig really delivers those one-liners), a pension for violence and aggression, and does not give a damn for sophistication. He is given his first formal mission: foil a poker game that funds terrorism. Nothing ornate, and just as well. After the Goldfinger film I could not give you an in-depth account of any of the Bond film plots. They've always been a sidenote to the girls and the toys, but some solid scripting and plot work was done on Casino Royale.

What I loved best was that Bond made mistakes. The man has not fully found himself in the work yet. He shot a hostage and blew up an embassy when tracking a bomb maker. His first kill is anything but suave. He does not always have an escape plan. And he has not yet learned the whole "love them and leave them" thing that became a trademark of the series. My favorite scene may be when he comforts Bond-girl Vesper (Eva Green) in the shower (and no, not THAT way) after one particularly intense dispatchment of the bad guys.

I could go on, but the gist of it is that if you've seen the other Bond films, you'll get great satisfaction out of this one. If you haven't (small chance) you'll still see one hell of an action/suspense movie. The fights and chase sequences are top-notch and the supporting cast is well played. Eva Green and Judi Dence both give fine performances, while Mads Mikkelsen under-acts his way through playing Bond villain Le Chiffre, to decent effect. But the real show is Daniel Craig.

Craig haters, you can stuff your gripes even further up your asses. I give the film an A.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Prestige:You'll be talking about it long after it's gone., 22 October 2006

The Prestige - Christopher Nolan's latest collaboration with Christian Bale in which magicians in turn-of-the-century London who battle each other for trade secrets. The rivalry is so intense that it turns them into murderers. Hugh Jackman plays level-headed showman Rupert Angier to Bale's unpredictable but brilliant magician Alfred Borden.

The performances are very good all around. I caught Scarlett Johanessan's fake British accent slip same as Natalie Portman's (V for Vendetta) once or twice. They must've had the same voice coach. Bale is sinister, seemingly omnipresent and omniscient, and usually the most watchable character on screen, though Hugh Jackman makes for excellent competition as a man getting down and dirty as he gives up all in a bid to be the best magician. Michael Caine is charming and talented support as always. I didn't even recognize David Bowie as Nikola Tesla; he was almost the real Prestige (unveiling of third act in a magic trick) of the film The tricks, while not as fantastic visually as in The Illusionist, are much more realistic and there is more of a desire to see them unveiled. The cinematography and scripting are top-notch, and the film has the wonderful dis-jointed yet well-paced quality that has come to be a trademark of Christopher Nolan. The film has some genuine suspense to it, and I can't tell anymore about the plot than this, but nothing and no -one is what it seems. The entire film is a magic trick, and the denouement is infinitely more satisfying, weighty and horrifying than that of The Illusionist. For a film titled after the shocking climax of a magic trick, this ending does not disappoint. The only question is whether the film is worth more than one watching. It also was a bit long, though I'm damned if I could figure out what to leave from it. Still, it'll undoubtedly be in my top ten of this year, so I'll give The Prestige an A.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Same problem as with "The Aviator". Scorcese won't take home the Oscar., 8 October 2006

The Departed - The Departed is set in South Boston, where the state police force is waging war on Irish-American organized crime. Young undercover cop Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) is assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate run by gangland chief Frank Costello (Nicholson). While Billy quickly gains Costello's confidence, Colin Sullivan (Damon), a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the police department as an informer for the syndicate, is rising to a position of power in the Special Investigation Unit.

First off, this movie has the usual strengths of a Scorcese film. Firstly, a strong performance from Dicaprio and downright brilliant performances from the supporters .In The Aviator it was Cate Blanchett, in The Departed it is Jack Nicholson. My god, the man has created such a chilling and funny villain that somehow avoids being over-the top. Believe it or not, I didn't loath him half as much as I hated Matt Damon's character Colin Sullivan. The man was such a weasely runt of a social climber that one couldn't help but hate him. The film also has strong support from Mark Wahlberg as a trash-talking sergeant, Martin Sheen as Captain Queenan, and Alec Baldwin in a serious movie for once (in the last few years) it seems.

The film also has a strong script and great camera work. The violence is sparingly used but effective. The film's drawback is Scorcese's continual mistake: He doesn't know when enough is enough. He gets too leisurely with the pace of his films, and doesn't know how to make me sit through them either. It wasn't as weary long as The Aviator, but I was still looking at my imaginary watch far too many times. The movie's two and a half hours long, but it felt even longer. People always lament that Scorzese never takes home The Best Film Award, and this is the reason: He continually turns in the A- film, but different people keep on turning in the A film each year.

A very good film, but I was happiest when The Departed finally departed. It gets an A-

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