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The Simpsons Movie (2007)
It made me vomit with rage.
After a tremendous buildup of advertising and reviews purchased by NewsCorp, The Simpsons Movie turns out to be nothing more than an 85 minute episode of late season Simpsons.
Just like these last few seasons, the movie is heartless and devoid of intelligent humor. It contains no thoughtful parody and only very trite satire. Many of the gags are childish even by Saturday morning cartoon standards. Slapstick and toilet humor cannot carry a prime time television show, much less a full length feature film. It contains no complex subtext, no (intelligent) obscure references, no hilarious musical numbers and no intricate visual humor. Many jokes are recycled from older episodes yet are very crudely put together (the similar looking family that is arrested, the Snow White spoof which is oddly similar to the much more well done Little Mermaid spoof years back, etc).
The characters are, at this point, gross caricatures of themselves 10 years ago. Homer, originally a dimwitted yet very caring father and husband, is now a brainless raging lunatic. Lisa, usually the voice of reason and compassion, has been reduced to an intellectual who never steps off her liberal soapbox. Bart, formerly the clever bad boy bad student with a hidden, kind heart has turned into mini-Homer, drinking problem included. Marge, a complex woman with a passion for maternity, has turned into a pitiful shell of a character, only raising her voice to nag. Other characters have either lost all complexity or just simply are not used. Even when these characters appear, they get less screen time than "Boob lady" or "Crazy cat lady" or "Spider pig" or "Irish musician kid" or "EPA Guy" (voiced by Albert Brooks, the same person who voiced a much more intriguing villain, Hank Scorpio). Some characters were even sacrificed in the name of cheap political humor (Reiner Wolfcastle).
The plot is a disgusting, twisted mess. The pig, an awful idea from the start, is quickly discarded. The tension between Homer and Bart and Homer and Marge is uninspired and forced (Marge taping over the wedding video was clearly a failed attempt to recapture the mood and emotional depth of a real Simpsons episode). The main plot, not to mention being unbelievably preachy, is recycled season 12-17 plots pieced together. I want to say that I could have written a better film but this is only partially correct; anyone could have written a better film. I'm sorry but I cannot remember many more details as I have mentally blocked out most of the movie to reduce the chances of permanent brain damage.
Man on Fire (2004)
Man on Fire consists of a cliché'd script, mediocre acting, horrific editing, and failed attempts at compelling drama.
All of the characters have been seen in countless movies before:
Denzel Washington plays the stoic but lovable bodyguard. Dakota Fanning plays the smart little girl who befriends him (a la Leon, but not as well done). Marc Anthony plays the desperate indebted father (a la Fargo, but not as well done). Radha Mitchell plays the sobbing mother who can't help but be attracted to Denzel's character. Christopher Walken plays an old army buddy (or something of the sort).
Acting: Even with a weak script, Washington and Fanning give a believable performances and have nice chemistry between themselves.
Walken and Washington, on the other hand, have absolutely no chemistry. In their scenes the writing oftentimes feels confused, as if it wants to hint at their shared past but instead alienates them from the audience.
Pacing: Many points in the movie, mainly in the beginning and toward the middle, drag on way too long.
Editing: The film is edited together like an extended music video with very quick jump-cuts, inter-cuts, and other shots that disorient the viewer more than anything else. Solemn scenes where Denzel's character is alone in his room drinking are edited together faster than full blown action sequences.
That said, some of the action scenes are very well done. You can help but smile when you see Denzel shoot 4 people in a row before taking cover behind a car. Him setting up an RPG-7 in an old man's house was another cool moment.
The few musical cues used in the film are cheesy at best. At one point Denzel's character says to the mother "I'm going to kill them all". Immediately we here funky background music cut in. Give me a break.
Even the movie's tagline is a tired cliché: "Revenge is a dish best served cold."
Story (*SPOILER*): The movie became cold once (we thought) Fanning's character had been killed. Showing Denzel's character getting revenge was fun to watch but the emotional link to the characters had been severed at that point.
Then the sad twist ending was a pathetic attempt at tragedy.
Avoid this movie. Watch the trailer and draw your own conclusions from that.
In my version, he kills all the bad guys (Mexican kidnappers), gets the girl (Mitchell's character), and then drives to America with her and her daughter while all the Mexicans at the border chant USA!! USA!!