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So this is how creativity dies ... with thunderous applause
I was really hyped for this movie. The trailer was awesome, it captured the atmosphere of the ROTJ-Aftermath perfectly (mighty Star Destroyer wrecks lay in sand dunes). And after seeing the masked villain and the light sabers my imagination went off ... I thought, well, there are still some Sith sprinkled throughout the galaxy and they form a terrorist group which attacks the new established republic. There would be questions about who the leader of this group is and what they want to achieve. I thought of a Republican army which gets somehow undercut by a malicious figure. I thought of Han and Leia living a peaceful life in retirement but getting involved in the handling of the terrorist threat. I thought of Luke leading a Jedi academy. I thought of Lando educating young pilots. I thought that those beloved characters meet after a long time to support the Republic. I thought ... and then I watched TFA and everything went down the kitchen sink.
TFA is not a bad movie from a technical point of view. They created great visual and practical effects. The actors give good performances, a lot better than the ones of the miserable CGI- infested prequels. I also like the music better this time with a revived innocent quality like we had in ANH.
But all this didn't help to rescue a recycled plot. After half an hour into the movie you can predict every single story element because it's a more or less direct ripoff of ANH. A lot of other reviewers already listed so I will safe the space here.
What really hurts is that there is no invention, no surprises in this film. Everything is absolutely the way you expected it to be. Why has Han Solo still be a smuggler with the same clothes after thirty years ? Why not give him another role (politician, husband) first and then enjoy the satisfaction when he gets back into Solo- Mode with Chewie ? So many missed opportunities ...
George Lucas at least showed us new planets or environments in the prequels which we could look at in awe. In TFA: nothing new. The new locations look boring and there are almost no new vehicles. There is no sense of epicness about it, everything seems so ... "local". The space ships now fight over landscapes instead in space.
So for the technical merits I give this film two stars. Storywise it's a complete failure.
Lack of soul really hurts
Lord of the Rings: so many moments which I vividly remember, some examples ...
Part 1: Beautiful landscapes; lovable characters; gradually expanding storyline; White Council at Rivendell; fight with the Balrog & the Uruk-Hai; heartbreaking scenes like Gandalf's or Boromir's death or the reunion of Frodo and Sam.
Part 2: Again beautiful movie; epic war at Helm's Deep and Isengard; goosebumps when the Ents march to fight Saruman; caring for Frodo & Sam; excited about the first real life CGI character Gollum.
Part 3: Breathtakingly towering Minas Tirith; epic war on the Pelennor fields; Frodo & Sam reaching Mount Doom after killing Shelob; moved to tears during the endings, especially Frodo's leaving to Grey Havens.
Hobbit: oh well ... Part 1: Beautiful Hobbiton; seeing Gandalf again; nice (but very similar and unfunny) dwarf characters; Stone Giants Part 2: Smaug (I hated Stephen Fry's role and the whole Laketown stuff) Part 3: Pfffff ...
Really I have problems to remember what really happened in the Hobbit trilogy because there was no real story line. Jackson tried hard to inject some emotions here and there but this didn't really work most of the time (Tauriel & Kili ? Epic fail). Even the music is much worse compared to the stuff that Howard Shore composed for LOTR, also emotionally lacking.
I'm glad it's over now.
Episode 3 is surely the best of the prequels but it really hurts to see how Lucas couldn't get over the wooden & cheesy dialog. He lost too much time in 1 & 2 with uninteresting story lines so he had to put all in 3 to tie up the loose ends.
The Star Wars universe is so rich why didn't he manage to weave more of the world of 4-6 into the prequels. The story line is absolutely one-dimensional, and Anakin's switch to the dark side happens so abruptly and unbelievably.
Imagine what good writers like Kasdan or the LOTR-Crew Jackson, Walsh and Boyens could have been made out of this story. No, better don't imagine, it really hurts.
Inside Man (2006)
A mess of a movie
After painfully watching the last boring minutes of Inside Man I just wanted to look at IMDb to verify that I had just seen one of the worst movies of 2006. Then I saw its rating ... 7.5 ?!?!? What ?!?! After reading through all those comments I'm finally convinced that IMDb is badly invaded by professional movie pushers. To make it worse, this film is additionally pushed by Spike Lee & Denzel Washington fanatics.
This film has many problems: the script is awful, without any tension or suspense. Denzel plays the same over-the-top super-cop as many of his movies before (I won't watch Denzel movies in the near future). Jodie's character is laughable, she just doesn't add anything to the movie except her name. Chris Plummer has the most notable moments in the movie but he also suffers from the bad script.
The music score is unnerving and way to much in most of the scenes. And Mr. Lee's direction is screams Scorsese at you with all those angles, camera moves and steadycam shots. They don't help the story but make the movie look strangely dated, like a movie of the 90s.
The Butterfly Effect 2 (2006)
The ingredients of Butterfly Effect offer a lot of opportunities to create an interesting script without the need for complicated special effects. Come on, when you can travel back in time and change things the way you want you can almost do anything in a movie without further explanation ! But instead of using these possibilities Michael Weiss wrote an extraordinarily boring script containing cheesy (and unnecessary) sex scenes, a boring office environment and unmotivated decisions by the main character.
Direction is on TV niveau without any surprising camera shots. A big bunch of music was used from the first movie which doesn't fit in very well in some scenes. And the actors ... well, not nearly as believable as in the first one but they aren't the problem of this movie. It's the script, stupid !
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
The one and only reason to watch a movie is to being moved. To be moved out of your own reality into the reality of the characters but then again feeling strong resonance with your own life subconsciously. Brokeback Mountain is such a movie which touches the most hurting wounds in our lives: the wounds caused by missing a chance, by missing an opportunity to walk another path. These wounds hurt the most when the only reason to not have chosen the other path is our own fear. Fear is such a destructive emotion and mostly an amalgam of our childhood experiences, education and socialization. On the other hand, love can also be destructive but the combination of both as we see in BBM is truly tragic.
While Ennis is the fearsome guy it's Jack who always believes and hopes that one day their love will be stronger than Ennis' fears. But Ennis doesn't make a decision until it's too late.
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal play these two characters and their love for each other in such a believable way that we are deeply touched. Yes, it is only a movie ... but we all know that must be many stories out there like the one between Ennis and Jack.
Ang Lee did a fantastic job here. He created a true epic, with epic landscapes, epic emotions and an epic time line. On the other hand BBM is a very intimate movie watching closely the expressions of the protagonists. The music fits perfectly. It's minimalistic, not at all sweeping strings like the ones of 'Out of Africa'. Just one small complaint: I wish Lee had filmed in Cinemascope just because of the great visuals in the mountains; I think this would have made the movie even stronger.
See this movie and you will hopefully see the world in a different light after watching it.
King Kong (2005)
PJ's new epic is breathtaking
I just left the cinema and want to write my review with the fresh impressions.
As most of the reviewers mentioned, the special effects are perfect. Kong is simply awesome, it's not a humanized ape but a very authentic silver-back with absolutely believable facial expressions. The whole Skull Island environment and its animals are beautifully crafted. New York looks great, especially the scenes with helicopter shots of Empire State Building.
So back to the story: we all knew it and it's a hard task to revive such a story for today's viewers. Jackson introduces the characters quite extensively, perhaps a little bit too long for those viewers that want non-stop action. Skull Island is mainly a roller-coaster ride with some breathtaking dinosaur scenes. The bug cave is really creepy and surreal with an unusual usage of very mellow music.
The actors deliver fine performances throughout the movie. Naomi Watts brings emotional intensity into the story without being too cheesy. I didn't expect Adrian Brody to fit so well in his first action movie.
One last remarks about James Newton Howard's music: he had a very tough job with replacing Howard Shore and write an epic, moving score within five weeks. Man, he did succeed in every aspect. The intense string sections work so well with the beautiful but also tragic images. The action music is top notch and unleashes the power of the full orchestra. Really great, James, you faced the challenge successfully. A sure Oscar contender.
War of the Worlds (2005)
The build up to the first appearance of the tripods is really pure Spielberg magic. It's cleverly shot and the timing is great. Then hell breaks loose and the first attack is happening in front of your eyes. These 20 minutes are simply the most intense scenes I've seen in a long time in cinema.
After that it's a pure escape movie which is sometimes really boring (the cellar scene should have been completely deleted). The plot is missing dramatic moments here. The attacks are still exciting but they seem to be chained together without glue.
The FX are absolutely stunning and "realistic". The camera is always moving and shaking, but the CGI elements are integrated seamlessly. So, ILM, good job.
In the whole WotW is an interesting movie but could have been much better by building a detailed story around the invasion. Nevertheless it has a great intro and the rest is great eye candy with state-of-the-art effects.
The Island (2005)
Typical BAY - Boring Action Yimmi-Yammi
I really wanted to give Bay another chance although I had sworn that I would never go to see another Bay movie after a painful watching of Armageddon. I read the rave reviews here and I finally decided to watch this movie.
The exposition is quite long but interesting. Nice production design although clichéd. Good actors like McGregor and Bean. But as soon as the chase begins it's all typical Bay: ultra-fast cuts, long crane and helicopter shots, slow-motion shots of the heroes, Zimmer-like music, ridiculous action scenes like the one on the R logo ... well, in short: BORING ! And as always there are scenes that make me (and not only me) cringe like the kiss scene or the final scene on the hilltop (slomo-on-acid).
It must be me but I never watched a Bay movie that sucked me in story wise. Too much cliché (as the bad black guy that converts instantly from bad to good) that makes me laugh, too obvious camera shots that shall make me think WOW. It's the story, stupid ! After that flop I hope that Bay finally learns how to tell a story.
Cabin Fever (2002)
Dead boring & awfully directed
This movie looks like Paris Hilton begged her daddy to finance some cool, retro horror movie for her private Halloween party. Expensive cameras, sophisticated makeup effects, creepy music.
It could have worked (even with that awful script) when the money would have been given to a more talented director than Eli Roth. The cuts are so dumb, leaving the viewer in total confusion. Cliché camera shots like the one which follows the tubes from the reservoir up to the cabin. No building up of tension, you can foresee the scare by two minutes. Oh, what scares ? The only thing that was mildly scaring was the girl getting stuffed into the shack.
But this could have been sooooo much better. A lot more paranoia between the group members (Eli, just watch Carpenter's "The Thing" please) and leave out this stupid policeman who IS NOT COOL ! The bunny man IS NOT COOL ! Gore without suspense IS NOT COOL.
Man, I really angry that I spent the money to buy this crap. Peter Jackson must have had strange visions when he watched this movie during his diet. It simply doesn't work.