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G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
Visually entertaining but hurts the brain
There is such a thing as suspension of disbelief, but the writers should've at least looked up what nanotechnology is before making this. The resulting completely nonsensical setup of all the major plot points makes this quite a painful 'ride'. And let's not forget a part of the ending (minor spoiler below): ice drowns in water after being blown up! Apparently ice caps can only float until all that fire and smoke (underwater) makes them sink. Other than that... Special effects were enjoyable, lots of eye candy there. The dialogue and acting is about what you would expect from an average action movie, so no surprises here. I'd say, watch this movie once with a few friends while making fun of it, that's about all it's good for. And definitely show it to your kids (the movie is an ad for their toys anyway) - they'll learn that when you're diving, you gotta watch for that falling ice!
The most boring movie I have ever seen in theaters
The summary pretty much says it all. The plot is overly complex, the characters are too many, the pace too slow, the action absent, the switching between plots too frequent. I could probably figure out the movie if I watched it a few times in a row with rewinding and fast-forwarding and a notepad. But is that really worth it? Don't get me wrong, I love complex movies, with strange timelines and convoluted plots and twists, but not this one. It's like a Guy Ritchie movie but without action. Or interesting dialogue. Or nice shots. To put it shorter, that is the only movie I have ever seen in theaters that actually put me to sleep, despite the huge screen, the powerful sound, and the general excitement about watching a movie - and I've seen plenty of boring ones. I slept through the middle of the movie after being hopelessly confused by the torrent of the characters to wake up to a seemingly meaningless ending. I had to read the plot when I came home to even figure out what it was about (and I did watch like half of it). If you do feel like you have to see this, go ahead, you've been warned, keep your notepad handy. And a lot of caffeine.
Good movie, annoying kid
Let me start this by saying that I have never seen the original movie, and don't really plan to as I know the plot from this one. Reeves and Connelly were great as expected, and I wish Cleese had a longer role. The premise and the plot was interesting and original. The CGI effects were beautiful and convincing. All in all, very enjoyable movie.
Now, the cons. The kid (Smith) was playing a very annoying character, betraying and insulting everyone - there's no way he could be part of a reason anyone would like humanity. Oh, and that GORT looks like he's taken straight out of 50's sci-fi (probably is, once again I haven't seen the original). A boring metal blob of a giant robot that destroys everything. The director should've done like Michael Bay with Transformers, changing them from blocky bright-colored cartoons into beautifully detailed and utterly alien machines. He does make up for it a bit though by what the GORT turns into (not gonna spoil this). One last thing, I wish I had seen this in IMAX instead of a TV screen.
Over the top one-time-watch B movie
Let me start by saying that I have never watched any of the movies that every single review is talking about. Getting that aside, I'd give a high-five for good sets, special effects, action, costumes, makeup, and stunts. Not much to give for dialog which consists mostly of people screaming "No!". Acting is actually pretty decent for the quality of characters and "dialog" the actors were given, and entertaining to watch. Some nice songs along the way, although some of them didn't feel like they fit perfectly. Plot is way out there, but a good portion of it can be swallowed by granting the writers enough artistic license (ignoring armored vehicles that can be penetrated by throwing a stone, or non-armored vehicles driving through other vehicles without any damage). There's even some humor, I mean you can't take seriously a scene with a guy getting knocked out with a fish.
Now the gore... it would make Tarantino movies (and any other movie I've ever seen) G-rated by comparison. Plenty of gratuitous violence, bodies being destroyed in imaginative ways. Not that I'm saying I mind gore, it adds a nice touch if you like that kind of movies, but did they really have to blow up a rabbit?
I Am Legend (2007)
Inconsistent story about how religion saves mankind from the evil of science
The first about two-thirds of the movie were actually quite enjoyable. Will Smith's acting was superb, I was pleasantly surprised as I was merely expecting another zombie shooter the likes of "Resident Evil". Instead I got an interesting story (with a "Cast Away" touch) about lonely survival with a pet dog being the only companion. Plus the great views of empty Manhattan overrun by plants and wild animals. The story started to be inconsistent pretty quick though. First, our hero remarks that the zombies/vampires/infected have no social behavior whatsoever, and yet later we clearly see that they have a leader controlling and planning coordinated attacks of disciplined followers. And the infected who are supposed to be mindless are capable of perfectly and easily replicating a mechanical trap that our hero lays for one of them, along with somehow figuring out a perfect bait. But in the same time they don't use any tools or existing technology whatsoever. Oh, and they have romantic relationships.
The part that was even more annoying was that the whole story is about the evils of genetic engineering and medicine which will of course create monsters and destroy humanity instead of curing diseases, and will be helpless against their own mistakes. But a message from god will bring the survivors (with immunity, obviously) together to rebuild the world.
Don't waste your time. If you want to see an abandoned Manhattan, just watch "Life After People". If you want to see zombies and vampires, well I could name a dozen better movies off the top of my head.
Mutant Chronicles (2008)
Absurd, stupid, preaching, predictable - the only good thing is nice scenery
It's one of those movies that are so bad, you watch them as a comedy because there is no way you could take it seriously. This might seem a bit like a spoiler, but I doubt a movie like this may be "spoiled". A "lost" city, buried under a future city, is apparently not filled in with earth but actually has humongous open spaces between skyscrapers. Clearly the writers don't know archeology. The also don't know much mechanics or physics, as their spaceships are powered by steam engines running on coal. And that's 700 years into the future. But, ignoring the steampunk technology, there are also some problems with biology, like people who were clearly shown to be killed two weeks before, were dragged along the floor the whole time (still bleeding), are quite alive and conscious and able to move afterward. That's not to mention the whole setup of fallen stars being gods/machines turning people into zombies (I think that was the idea, I'm not all sure as I was too busy laughing at the nonsense of most of it). And of course the day is won thanks to blind faith in the good god with the zombie/demon god/machine/star/spaceship disappearing.
Even if you can digest all that and just stare at the often nice CGI and special effects, there's very boring dialogue to go along. And bad acting. John Malkovich was actually worse than most actors there, speaking without any emotion, slowly and with strange pauses, not looking at the camera, with a flat face, about saving humanity and his approaching death. That was a hilarious scene.
All in all, please don't watch this. There is hardly anything here worth the time you waste on it.
OK a little disclaimer first: yes critics hate it, but then again I hate movies that critics praise. I did not find anything wrong with this movie, any flaws are minor and hardly worth mentioning.
Soundtrack - excellent, pleasant, well-timed, has some rock songs which must be what scared the critics.
CGI - I don't even need to say anything, do I? Robots look truly amazing, I wish I've seen it when it was on big screen. And definitely a good idea to redesign them from the blocky simple cartoons this was based on. About those comments that mention that it was hard to tell which robot was which, well you should actually pay attention, Bay included a couple scenes on purpose in which all the robots on both sides are presented together with their names. I had no trouble telling them apart.
Special effects - just as good.
Action - fast-paced, desert scene reminiscent of Black Hawk Down. Robot fights are fluid and quick, unlike some action movies where the hero and the villain fight for half an hour in the end.
Plot - an interesting sci-fi premise, and believable as such, although the 'surprise' ending is predictable. Has the usual geek-likes-hot-girl-that-goes-out-with-a-jock beginning which could ruin a movie, but, thankfully, uses it only to introduce Shia's and Megan's characters.
Dialog might not be worth entering a poetry contest, but it goes along with the movie's pace well and has plenty of quotable moments.
Acting - in my opinion, the actors were great, conveying emotions and delivering dialogue lines well. Not sure what critics don't like about them. Some critics complain about slow motion shots of Megan, but there are much more slow motion shots of robots than her. One of them even had to be included as it fits well with the dialogues and entire scene.
Humor - surprisingly, IMDb doesn't even list comedy as one of the genres for this movie. It had several hilarious moments, scenes, and characters. I was pleasantly surprised by those, and I give credit to Bay for including them rather than trying to make a purely serious movie. I wouldn't have enjoyed the movie as much without them.
To add to that, I did watch Transformers like good 10-15 years ago, and hardly remembered them except for a few characters' names. The memories did make me very curious about this movie though, and I definitely wasn't disappointed.
Max Payne (2008)
Good movie, wrong title
I'll say that's it's an enjoyable shooter with pretty special effects, to which I would ordinarily give an 8 or 9 easily. However, they decided to call it Max Payne. I have guesses for how the script was written. The writer was given a two-paragraph summary of the game, he crossed out one, changed the other, and added paragraph of his own. And probably saw a screenshot or two to get the mood. Wait, wait, I know - the writer was just shown the retail box the game came in, they usually have a little concept art, a couple screenshots, a short intro to the plot and game features. That must be it, because the only things linking the movie to the games are the character and place names, death of Max's family, shots of snowy Manhattan, and the drug. Sadly, this is yet another utterly failed attempt at a video-game-based-movie. In my opinion it is due to completely discarding often brilliant story lines, which besides obvious damage to the movie also alienates the fans who should be the main target audience. I understand there needs to be some major cutting and writers just love reworking things, but it should be done on the scale it was done in Lord Of The Rings, not like this. If I merely recorded actual gameplay and then cut it as a movie it would be more pleasant to watch. Now I'm sure there will be many people reading this that are unfamiliar with the Max Payne franchise, in that case if you like good action movies - go see this one, you'll enjoy it. As a Max Payne fan though I can't give this movie above a 6. I think the point that killed it was when I realized that they combined Vlad and Mona into one character. Ugh. One last thing - the amount of slow-motion scenes, the games' signature feature, can be counted on fingers of one hand.
The Illusionist (2006)
An amazingly good movie
Great movie. Of course, it is not the blockbuster type, so don't expect sword fights, kung-fu, battle scenes, extended sex scenes, and so on. Now that you got that off your mind, here's what the movie does have. Despite the mostly unfamiliar, at least to me, cast, the acting is great. The dialogs match the quality of the acting, and don't get me started on the script. The settings, the soundtrack, the lightning, all create the atmosphere of the time portrayed. If you like movies that make you think and not just watch the pretty special effects, if you like plot twists, you'll love this. If you missed it in theaters, get it on DVD, I know I will. And remember, everything is just an illusion.
Pao Da Shuang Deng (1994)
Sad and strange love story
A strange love story between a rich woman and a poor man, especially for one not familiar with Chinese culture. It will give you a few laughs (a few dirty ones too), the characters will curse all throughout, but don't be distracted, it is a serious and rather depressing drama. The settings include falling apart houses and going on boats across a dirty river, and most characters' clothes look like they took them from homeless people, which all adds to the mood. Don't expect any beautiful shots like in "Hero", or any martial arts. All thought-out heroes behaved strangely and unrealistically bringing the ending to top it off and kill whatever impression of the movie I had. For instance, twenty armed men getting scared of a few kids throwing firecrackers is very unconvincing. But go ahead, if you like this sort of depressing love stories, you'll have a blast.