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phantomtristan

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29 reviews in total 
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Hancock (2008)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Do we really need ANOTHER superhero movie?, 11 July 2008
4/10

As if we do not have enough superhero movies already with the steady flow of umpteen sequels and still new ones in the works (Ant-Man is due out in 2010, I wonder what will be next Larva-Man?), someone had to create a completely new, original 2008 superhero with no comic book past—Hancock. Even with three strong performances, the film collapses from its' poor start and even worse end finale.

Will Smith has the title role of Hancock, a one-of-a-kind superhuman who works with the LAPD to catch criminals. Well, at least he is supposed to but he has become an alcoholic to deal with his constant mood of depression, and his inebriated antics have caused millions of dollars in damages to Los Angeles City. All of which has caused him to fallout out of the public's favor. Enter Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) a PR consultant who wants to help him repair his image. Before long, well actually almost immediately, Hancock agrees, and the two form an unlikely duo. The finale comes rather abruptly with one of the most surprising, confusing finale that is what ultimately ruins Hancock.

All three talented stars (Will Smith, Jason Bateman, and Charlize Theron) play their parts entertainingly well, but the story, script, direction, and camera work are what destroy it. The film clocks in at 92 minutes, leaving no time for character development and all the events happen so quickly and abruptly that it feels like an extended TV episodes with gazillion-dollar effects.

Another thing that I found particularly annoying was this constant "shaky", close-ups of who ever was in the scene. Almost as if the studio was trying to save money on set design so they kept the camera in really tight.

Once again the time and effort was put into wowing the audience with the special effects, which are quite remarkable, rather than entertaining with a strong story and developed characters. I would not even recommend it as brainless entertainment because it was rather boring. I still wonder why someone felt the need to go and create ANOTHER superhero movie.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Speeds to success!, 11 May 2008
8/10

Remember back when you were a kid, and either you or one of your siblings got a Hot wheel racetrack for Christmas? Remember watching those little metal cars zip around on the track and trying to imagine what it would be like to be inside one? Speed Race gives you the opportunity.

The Wachowski brothers follow up their massively successful Matrix Trilogy, with Speed Racer. This time the story is PG-rated and appeals to children ages 7-11, but do not let that scare you away! It is enormously entertaining and the most fun I have had at the movies in a long time.

Speed Racer follows the story of a teenage boy Speed (Emile Hirsch), a born racer, who has just become extremely popular after winning a big race. His popularity has caught the eye of Royalton (Roger Allam), the owner and CEO of a gazillion dollar corporate conglomerate, who is bent on signing Speed onto his team of race car drivers. When Speed refuses to sign with him, Royalton goes about trying to destroy Speed's life as well as his parents (John Goodman, Susan Sarandon). Speed, feeling responsible decides to fight back; and to do this he must…yes you guessed it…RACE! The plot has many more intricacies to it but I will leave that for you to discover when you see it.

The casting was perfect, and everyone played their part flawlessly. John Goodman stood out the most as the passionate father, and relatively new Paulie Litt made quite an impression as Speed's younger brother.

Yes, the script and delivery of some of the lines were rather sappy, and there were the moments of that warm fuzzy-wuzzy father-son-family time; all which could be annoying in other circumstances but here they actually almost suited it.

Speed Racer does not disappoint and surprises you with how much you are drawn into it! The shots of the racer's POV, make you feel like you are on a theme park ride and take you back to your childhood—in a good way!

Iron Man (2008)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Summer gets an Iron Boost!, 2 May 2008
8/10

The Summer season is here and this year it gets an iron boost from finally a new marvel comic franchise hopeful. Having no expectations for Iron Man I was more than surprised with how much I enjoyed it.

This time the Iron Man-to-be, Tony Starks (Robert Downey Jr.), is a weapons manufacturing billionaire, not a nerdy college student. He doesn't need to buy a car to win over his childhood sweetheart, but instead has a super-sized garage with six cars and an assistant (Gwyneth Paltrow) who gets rid of his one night stands. In short, he lives it up in all the luxury one could dream of.

While visiting a US base in Afghanistan to sell more of his weapons, the humvee he is riding is ambushed and he is taken captive by Afghani insurgents. They force him to build them one of his famous bombs, but instead he builds a great big metal suit! A suit which he uses to escape back to America successfully, and once home starts building a better one. Seeing the destruction of his weapons when they fall into the hands of insurgents he wants to shut down his weapons company. This does not go over well with a few people and brings us to a climatic fight between a villain (I will let you be surprised who it is) and Iron Man.

The casting was perfect. Robert Downey Jr. plays his part as the fast-talking, careless billionaire who gets a reality check brilliantly, and Gwyneth Paltrow is immensely entertaining as Pepper Potts, his cool, calculated assistant. Together they have the perfect amount of chemistry that only increases your desire to see Iron Man II.

Iron Man is a strong beginning to what will hopefully, yes I am actually hoping for more, be a successful franchise. Unfortunately with it being a good beginning, is where it faltered, only a little. First you could really tell it was setting up for more as there are actually very few scenes of Iron Man flying around (there are actually many more scenes of Tony building and testing his Iron Man suit) and secondly the end battle was not as spectacular or even intense as most superhero climaxes and ended rather quickly.

Still Iron Man is a strong, very strong film to open the Summer Season, and does not disappoint. The mark of a good film is when, even with a running time of 126 minutes, it leaves you wanting more!

Stop-Loss (2008)
78 out of 120 people found the following review useful:
I'm getting out!, 30 March 2008
10/10

Director Kimberly Peirce ("Boys Don't Cry") brings another powerfully charged film of such raw emotion that upon later reflection of the movie I felt like I had witnessed real events.

Stop-Loss follows the fictional story of a soldier, Brandon King (Ryan Philippe), who has returned home after a tour in Iraq. His contract is up and he just about to get out when he is stop-lossed (a "fine-print" section in all soldiers' contracts that gives the President the power to extended soldier's contracts in time of war). He refuses to be shipped back to Iraq, and goes AWOL in search of his state's senator for help. What follows is his road trip to fight the stop-loss as well as showing the devastating affects his fellow soldiers (Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) experience from the horrible war. Its' acting, directing, and writing had such a feeling of authenticity, and combined with the fact that 81,000 of our brave soldiers have already been stop-lossed since Spetember 11,2001, this film feels like a true story.

One thing that made this film succeed so well was it's director was a woman, and she was able to make a movie were you could feel and see the emotions these guys were feeling even as they would desperately try and mask them.

The acting was extraordinary from the three main soldiers, most notably Ryan Philippe who is so gritty and real in his performance that he seems like he actually is a marine. Channing Tatum gives a genuine performance, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt's is the most haunting of the trio as a soldier who fights his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with excessive amounts of booze and slowly slips into a deep hole of despair.

This films is not a propaganda piece, it simply portrays something that is going on right now. It brings up many good points, but never bashes you with a certain viewpoint but leaves it to you to decide. This is such emotionally powerful, deeply moving film, the best film I have seen since the year started, and destined to be one of my favorites from this year.

81 out of 125 people found the following review useful:
"You shouldn't forget the importance of entertainment.", 17 March 2008
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ann: "Why don't you just kill us?" Peter: "You shouldn't forget the importance of entertainment." These two lines are the very base for the message behind Funny Games, a stark, unrelenting look at America's infatuation with violence and torture.

This is an English version remake of the 1997 German Funny Games, by the very same director Michael Haneke. Haneke wanted his original film to reach a broader audience, especially America since his inspiration for the film was his fascination with America's desensitized appetite for gore and violent torture. The premise is very simple: a well-to-do American family, George (Tim Roth), Ann (Naomi Watts), and Georgie (Devon Gearhart), arrive at their summer home for a relaxing vacation and are held hostage in their own home by two deranged young men, Paul (Michael Pitt) and Peter (Brady Corbet), who play a "game" with the family that consists of tormenting the family physically and psychologically.

Normally I would never have seen this film, as I have vowed never to see any type of slasher/torture-porn. However after reading about the director's vision of trying to show the audience how sickening the watching of graphic torture for entertainment really is, I knew I had to see it.

Unlike the hypocritical Untraceable or The Condemned, this film does exactly what it intends to do. This film gets in your head by giving the pretense that you will witness all the horrible acts, and then turns around on you by not showing anything! Everything is off-screen so you are left with only the sound effects. It is more disturbing as your imagination sets to work on the images off screen, and that in itself is more horrifying.

Haneke crafts a superbly intelligent psychological horror, but almost too intelligent as it almost falters on expecting you to know the philosophy behind the film-making and for someone knowing nothing about the film it might be confusing or frustrating.

I would not recommend this film to everyone as it will disappoint the Saw/Hostel audience and may confuse newcomers. With that aside, I greatly welcomed the dissection of violence, and someone who understands the point of the film and enjoys art house-style film-making will appreciate it.

110 out of 121 people found the following review useful:
Miss Pettigrew...Miss Pettigrew...Miss Pettigrew..., 16 March 2008
10/10

Welcome to a world of lavish delights. A world filled with fashion shows, cocktail parties, and the latest gossip. This is the world Miss Pettigrew finds her self swept up into, and where she lives her day…to the fullest.

Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is a nanny that has just been dropped by her placement agency after being fired for the third time from another displeased client. In her desperation for employment she steals an address card to a new client, and is soon on their doorstep, posing as the new nanny from the agency. This new client turns out to be, Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams), a young singer/actress wannabe who is competing for the lead in a big production play. She has no children and wants a nanny more as a secretary or "social secretary" as she later calls Miss Pettigrew. Within a matter of minutes of her arrival Miss Pettigrew helps Delysia outwit two of the three men she is seeing, avoiding a possible catastrophe. This makes Delysia worship Miss Pettigrew and before long she is whisking her away to a fashion show and salon before a cocktail party in the evening.

As the characters play with love like a fine chess game, Miss Pettigrew helps Delysia maneuver through this dazzling champagne 'n' strawberry-drenched world of revelries that the rich use in a desperate attempt to conceal the looming dread of WWII, meanwhile enjoying tidbits of luxuries she would never have dreamed of.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is an absolute delight to watch from the very beginning up until the final end. The production, directing, writing, and acting are all superb as they recreate the WWII era in England.

The acting, well Frances McDormand and Amy Adams as the two leads, need I say more. These two actresses work together so flawlessly. Frances McDormand masters a British accent and gives a performance of layers. Few actresses can play a character that "acts" fakily-sweet and still give such a realistic performance as Amy Adams. Her performance reminded me of her recent golden-globe nominated performance in Enchanted.

Overall this is a charming, delightfully entertaining film with wonderful performances and a sharp script.

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
This is no Ocean's-style heist film, 7 March 2008
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite a weak, B-rate feeling opening, The Bank Job manages to pull itself up and shape into a wildly engaging, gritty, realistic heist film that holds nothing back and does not have the comfy, playful feel of the Ocean's films. And here's the kick: its' based on a true story.

Yes that's right, it is based on the true story of the 1971 Baker Street Bank robbery in England, considered to be one of the biggest bank robberies in British history. Terry Leather (played by Jason Statham) is in a spot of trouble. He owes money to some criminal bigwig, so when an old friend Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) comes along with a proposition for him and his two mates to rob a small bank's safety deposit box vault, he takes it. As they begin their job everything fits perfectly into place and moves along at a smooth pace…an almost too smooth pace as very quickly the little proposition spirals madly out of control with secrets and double crossing being revealed, all before coming to a surprising ending.

I was disappointed that characters were not as fleshed out and developed as I would have liked. However, Terry is done very well and I feel Jason Statham, the most underrated action movie star, has an almost Bruce Willis-type presence.

The acting and dialogue was good, Saffron Burrows gives a bristling nuanced performance, and Terry's two mates Daniel Mays and Stephen Campbell Moore both bring a balanced energy to gang of criminals.

The Bank Job is a rough, somewhat violent heist film that does not have a fun feel to it, however as it picks up from the mediocre beginning it holds you with a raw intensity that rewards you even more once the credits roll as you read the real life aftermath of the characters.

10,000 BC (2008)
28 out of 58 people found the following review useful:
"Journey back to a time...", 7 March 2008
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The trailers for 10,000 B.C. says "…Journey back to a time of darkness, Journey to a world lost in time" and boy oh boy, do you journey. From the opening of the film you are swept up into a stone age village in the lofty peaks of the Himalayas, next a jungle filled with prehistoric creatures, then it is an African desert plain complete with a saber-tooth tiger, all before coming to the banks of the Nile to witness the building of the Great Pyramid. All this and more is delivered to you in the diverse locations covered in 10,000 B.C. a film about the beginning of time and civilization.

The film opens with narration from Omar Sharif and the story begins in a tiny mountain top village of mammoth hunters which is ravaged by "four-legged demons" (Hun-style soldiers on horses) who capture and kill most of the villagers, save for a handful. Among that handful is a man, D'leh (played by Steven Strait), whose lover, Evolet (played by Camilla Belle) was among the many dragged off as slaves. D'leh and two other warriors waste no time in setting off in hot pursuit of demon raiders. So the journey starts as they trek across every possible extreme landscape up until they find their villagers have been put to work as slaves to build the Great Pyramid. As the three warriors plan a way to free them they are joined by thousands of other African tribe warriors who have also lost loved ones to the slave-seeking raiders, and the final climax is one spectacular epic battle atop the pyramids including more mammoths (they apparently helped the Egyptians pull the massive stones to build the pyramids, debunking the long held theory that aliens did!).

10,000 B.C. is complete eye-candy with its' extravagant CGI, vast sets, detailed costumes, and sweeping cinematography. The acting is average, nothing amazing, but nothing bad. The script is very basic but it works because you would not expect our prehistoric ancestors to break out in eloquent or snappy dialogue.

Overall I was highly entertained and satisfied with outcome. Despite the film having less historical accuracy than even the recent atrocious flop, The Other Boleyn Girl, it still manages to be a good film that holds your eyes with its' magnificent visuals as well as your interest with its' characters that have just enough emotion and heart to be able to invest and connect with them (even if just slightly). 10,000 B.C. is pure exhilarating entertainment, and does what a film should—lets you escape back to a time of darkness, to a world lost in time!

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A tale of two sisters, 3 March 2008
4/10

Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, a bestselling novel, and an Oscar-nominated screenwriter—all these elements should form a brilliant, talented collaboration, but unfortunately the novel is hacked into an incongruent muddle of scenes which are further ruined by the atrocious editing.

It is based on Philippa Gregory's bestselling novel The Other Boleyn Girl, and tells the story of two sisters, Mary (played by Scarlett Johansson) and Anne Boleyn (played by Natalie Portman), who bother vie for King Henry VIII's (played by Eric Bana) affection (if only they knew he was not the one-girl-type). It is a time in England when girls were as their mother lady Elizabeth Boleyn (played by Kirstin Scott Thomas) put it "…Traded like cattle for the advancement and pleasure of men." The girl's father (played by Mark Rylance) wants to catch the eye of the King to secure wealth and status by "pimping" his daughter Anne to be the King's mistress. King Henry passes over Anne in favor of the quiet submitting daughter Mary, but once she is pregnant with his illegitimate child, he quickly turns back to Anne who has returned to the court scene with a newfound sensual, seductive confidence. As Henry falls hard for Anne, Mary is quickly swept aside so the stage is set for the inevitable conclusion.

I did read the book and loved it. However I generally enjoy film adaptations no matter how far they stray from the book. Film and book are two completely different types of storytelling, so with that said the reason I did not like this film was not its major detractions from the book, but the incredible dull, emotionless production.

The acting from Natalie Portman, Eric Bana, and Kirstin Scott-Thomas was top-notch, especially Portman's (I am convinced had this been a better production and release date she would probably be garnering nominations). The rest of the cast could not hold up. Scarlet Johansson's acting was cringe-worthy as she never removed the same complacent, angelic expression from her face (she didn't even cry when her sister's head was chopped off!) and spoke in the same tone the entire film.

The production itself was not bad, the sets, costumes, etc. were all quite exquisite. The problem with this film was it had so many good aspects it could not make use of them. The editing, I must point out, was the downfall of this great story. All the scenes were so disjointed and quick that you never had time to get pulled into the story. Helping it along was the frustrating script which had lines spoken so impassively and for the sole purpose to inform the audience what was going on that it was devoid of any eloquence or originality. I felt there were whole sections left out that I knew because I had read the book, but someone new to it would be thoroughly lost.

This is such an unfortunate botching of an intriguing tale, and once again feels like the producers did not know what to do with all the talent they had. It not only is a horrible adaptation, but a very poorly done film that moved through its' material so quickly it lost its' emotional depth on the way. At the end you are left still waiting for it to start, and are so detached you do not even care about the characters whose lives were so horribly ruined. The only reason I would recommend anyone to see this film is to see Natalie Portman's performance which is utterly fascinating to watch as she plays this illustrious historical figure.

265 out of 348 people found the following review useful:
The all-seeing eye, 22 February 2008
7/10

As the Bourne series raises the bar for action films, and audiences balk at two-plus hour runtimes, the filmmakers of Vantage Point seem like they are trying to bring a fresh, new, unconventional take on the action/thriller genre. Though it may annoy some people, I felt the new take turns Vantage Point into a taut terrorist thriller.

The new take or approach is jumping right into the moment (everything is already planned out, people and weapons in place, etc.) of the action and then telling it from eight different points of view. This is where some people may be mildly irritated because after you see one point of view everything is suddenly rewound and shown from the next person's point of view (this is done six times) before they all converge into a thrilling finale filled with one massive adrenaline-fuelled car/chase sequence.

Because of the complex twists and turns of the plot and characters I will be brief, very brief actually, on the plot. It starts with a TV network covering a large gathering of leaders from all over the world (including the President of the United States) who have come together to form an alliance against the war on terror. At the beginning of this meeting the US president is assassinated as he takes the stage, and it begins replaying the assassination through all the different points of view. The editing must be commended in this film as it blends all the points of views so sophisticatedly you cannot help being engrossed, and the star-studded cast includes Dennis Quaid, Mathew Fox, Forest Whitaker, William Hurt, and Sigourney Weaver simply adds to everything.

In the theater I was watching some people called out their annoyance of "again?!" on the fifth rewind, which I find amusing as the filmmakers are simply trying to come up with something new in these sequel-ridden times. And probably as those same people say Hollywood is "out of ideas" they get angry when it tries something "different" and would rather go spend their money on Spider-man 8.

I felt Vantage Point was an intelligent thriller, and yes it had its' share of implausible plot points, but these were minor as the new technique makes you feel like you have an all-seeing surveillance system. I kind of felt like I was putting a puzzle together, piece by piece, and as you see a new point of view it adds more to the story and just when you think you have it figured out it changes again.


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