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The Prestige (2006)
Are you serious?
Reading these drooling reviews, I have to wonder what has gone wrong with the movie-viewing community of late.
This film is nothing more than a very expensive exercise in overstatement. How many times can we possibly hit our audience over the head with the same exact symbolism? How blatantly obvious can we make our "elaborate plot twists" by the end of the film? Hugh Jackman's closing speech is perfectly typical of this film. Shot and dying on the floor, he suddenly comes to this very drawn out and very boringly shot epiphany about how he was never REALLY obsessed with finding out his opponent's secrets. He actually traveled thousands of miles, spent countless amounts of money, (How did he have this, by the way?) shot, stalked, kidnapped, and did his very best to destroy his opponent's life, but he actually did it for "the look on their (the audience) faces." Please.
And plot twists? No no no, my friends. There is precisely one plot twist, and it is given away by the "tease" at the beginning of the film. As soon as you see that the hat doesn't leave, you know the rest of the movie. Okay, it clones things. He makes new and kills one of himself every time. It's not a huge leap in logic, but the filmmakers see fit to treat the audience like a bunch of Neanderthal second graders.
Finally, we are supposed to like the magician/twin that makes it back to his daughter in the end. Forgetting of course, the fact that he broke Hugh Jackman's legs, killed his wife, crushed that innocent woman's hand, and oh yes, shot and killed his rival. But he was justified, right? WRONG. Once again, Hollywood comes out with the kind of ambiguous, almost-moral movie that makes you just cringe with the pansy-butt quality of their statements.
Please do both me and yourself a favor and skip this tripe.
Tepid at times, but overall a winner.
While certainly no American comedy classic like "Dumb and Dumber", this quirky flick does a fantastic job at alchemizing a very goofy book into an as goofy movie.
Performance-wise, the cast all exceeded my expectations, which was not incredibly difficult, as Mos Def was the only name I recognized among those credited with on-screen faces.
The true stand-out, which is admittedly very easy to point at, is the manic-depressive robot, voiced by Alan Rickman. Gloomy and doomy to the very end, his bits of dour discourse interspersed throughout hilariously accentuate this film.
The movie drags and repeats jokes, mostly in about the middle, a strangely universal place for that sort of problem, but once you pass the sperm whale, you're home free.
Visually captivating, with very good integration of both Jim Henson's creature design and computer generated images, George Lucas should take several pages of notes from this film.
Even with a disclaimer, it is still an injustice to give away too much of this movie's laughs and plot devices in a review, so I will conclude with this: Well filmed, creative, and well acted, this strange-but-lovable comedy comes out ahead of the pack in many respects.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Braveheart does Political Correctness
Okay. Movie review time.
Ridley Scott's new film, "Kingdom of Heaven".
In a word: Huh? Okay, first of all, explain to me how you can make a movie about the Crusades boring and uncontroversial. Because that's what happened here.
First hour showed the world just how little character development is needed in a "feature film", as long as you've got "plot".
"So you're my dad, and we've never met, and you want me to go with you to Jerusalem. Nah, I'll stick around. Oh, wait, never mind, I killed a guy. I'll go with you." Oh, and by the way, the guy he killed was a priest, and the reason for the execution was that he was wearing his dead wife's necklace. Thin ice, Ridley, very thin ice.
So he goes to repay his sins in the Holy Land. Of course, there is no mention of how he can obtain forgiveness. And no mention of whether he has earned it. But he saved the people. That's what's important.
The second hour entailed a montage of clips, barely tied together and mainly terribly artificial feeling. Many times I felt so removed from the piece that I wondered whether they just had the cameras rolling until they found a shot that looked cool.
Then, whoa, all of a sudden, big finish. We find out that causes are not important, religion is not important, all that is important is saving lives, no matter how many murders it takes to save those lives. All religions are equally stupid, not really, though, because Islam is a little less stupid, and what is best in life is living an ordinary life, never taking part in a cause larger than yourself.
Hooray for the ultimate tragedy: a man who commanded armies, who could inspire men to battle, who had power and used it to influence for good, condemns himself to a life of ease.
I give it an emphatic thumbs-down, with the second thumb in the neutral position.