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Rafacus

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27 reviews in total 
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7 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
Needless to say I have Angels fever and I hope to see more, 22 September 2011
8/10

More than just pretty faces, Charlie's Angels features the talents of Annie Ilonzeh as Kate (a former corrupt Miami police officer), Rachael Taylor as Abigail (rich girl turned naughty thief), Nadine Velazquez as Gloria (a disgraced Marine Corps Lt.) and Minka Kelly as Eve (a street racer). Ramon Rodriguez plays the computer hacking Bosley and Robert Wagner plays Charlie, or more honestly "the voice of Charlie" providing the Angels with missions, guidance and kudos for a job well done.

We all know the formula and the background being that this is the 3rd foray into this remake but I honestly feel that this time they've struck gold.

This was an excellent pilot from beginning to end. While the acting was spotty – through Ilonzeh's obvious nervousness and Taylor's seeming to "try too hard", it eventually evens out and the chemistry is better than expected. Though Minka Kelly still felt like an outcast towards the end of the episode, it leaves you wanting to see the girls do more and if I am not the only one feeling this way, we are sure to see some more.

6 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
An honest Conan review without Arnold comparisons, 19 August 2011

While the story of Conan The Barbarian in this Marcus Nispel version cannot hold a candle to the John Milius original, it doesn't mean that on its own it isn't a good movie.

The problem with rehashing anything is the inevitable and misleading comparisons that are done whenever critique is asked.

My only thoughts were the same as when I watched the original: Why aren't his eyes icy blue, his eyes should be icy blue?! Why's his hair not jet black?! You know... the silly, miniature details that the nerds whine about.

Ron Perlman as Conan's father was an amazing portrayal, besides Momoa he was probably the best part of this movie. The villains unfortunately came off as more comical than imposing which will rub many moviegoers wrongly especially after having a bad guy like James Earl Jones' Thulsa Doom headline the 1984 Conan.

A major downside is the pacing was so quick and ridiculous – the movie came off like a highlight reel where Momoa's Conan shows you how to kick butt, coddle wenches and exact revenge.

Could it be better? Yes a million times over, yes and with our palate being used to such goodies in Sword and Sorcery such as The Lord of The Rings trilogy, I am afraid that the majority of critics will dump on this movie like nobody's business.

Still, there is something there and when you see Momoa dance with the blade, you will forget the bland backdrop of a story, the cartoon character of a villain and the unimpressive damsel in distress who plays his side (Rachel Nichols).

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Sorry but this 2010 version lacks character, 2 April 2010
5/10

I do not know what is worse about this new Clash of Titans, the laziness in them not studying Greek mythology, or the laziness in keeping things relevant to the time period or mythos. Actually I know exactly what it is, it's the absolute waste of Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, whose talents and characters was the only shining light in a dark movie of shallow characters, shoddy CGI and light speed pacing.

It seems that people have forgotten the Greek mythology whose influence has made many a movie and tale as lovable as the original Clash of The Titans. Call me a nerd for being a tad too much into this but my annoyance started when the movie begins with a conveniently hacked up and incorrect story version of the Gods' win over the Titans to rule earth. I do understand the abstract nature of this movie and the reality that this particular Perseus (Sam Worthington) was not the one of the ancient poems. But something about the matter-of-fact nature of the narration rubbed me the wrong way.

The armor and clothing is dark or black, there are no colors. The people or relevant armor that rang true of ancient Greece is not here. What we get instead is the X-Men treatment, black on everything and a mixture of armor and architecture of cultures that come about hundreds of years after the time of the Gods. Maybe Zeus wished in some steel from medieval Europe and haircuts from the modern day Armed Forces? He is all-powerful after-all, let's say he did, just so I can shut up about it.

Aww screw it, I can't ignore these things! Seeing Zeus (Liam Neeson) walk away from his throne in a type of mock plate mail armor, reminded me of his role as Gawain in Excalibur. Why was he dressed like a medieval knight in a movie about ancient Greece I wondered? This is not to say that the other Gods were much better off either, Apollo in golden standard was also in a form of scale mail and so was Poseidon (Danny Huston) who is replaced in relevance with the new owner of the Kraken, Hades (Ralph Fiennes). How does this make sense that an obvious water creature is owned by the king of the Underworld? Who cares right!?

Perseus, again in ancient Greece sporting a buzz cut reminiscent of a Marine or a Roman Legionnaire was only second in lack of relevance to him actually being played by Sam Worthington. Sorry folks, Jake Sully did not show up to play this time. Gone is the likable kid from the original who grows in front of our eyes from a boy gifted by the gods to champion them, into a man who is bold and clever enough to take on the gorgon Medusa and topple the champion of Poseidon. No we get a Perseus who is simply not in the right time period, mindset or character to either be believable or formidable. When Io (Gemma Arterton) basically takes his hand and teaches him how to kill Medusa (Natalia Vodionova) it summed his character up very well. This is not the brave Perseus of the original, not by a long shot.

Ralph Fiennes as the bent and ultra dark Hades was a great character, his low, gritty voice and dramatic entrances made him extremely scary. The satyr-like Calibos (Jason Fleming) who chased Perseus and made his life hell in the original is reinvented in this as a jilted lover, whose body has been turned into some sort of demon, albeit not a satyr. Io is the replacement for the lovely goddess Athena, whose wit and metallic owl of the original were mainstays in our memory of its charm. Io is beautiful but she is no Athena, and thanks to the pacing which made this 2 hour movie seem like 30 minutes, you get no true feeling of familiarity with her or the other beauty in the movie, the princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos).

I really wanted Clash of The Titans to be great, and based on the high votes I see on the web, it's apparent that super fast pacing and lack of character development is positive right now. Maybe I am too old school and like to learn the personalities, histories etc. of my heroes but what can I say? For me the inaccuracies, pacing and shallow nature of this 2010 Clash of The Titans makes for a bad movie – which by the way is another to take full advantage of the 3D fad going on since Avatar. This makes me wonder about Sam Worthington and his range, or lack thereof, and why Liam Neeson thought that it was a good movie to be a part of. The trailers had me salivating, especially at the Kraken, yet upon seeing it at the end, I was already done with the movie.

Of all the characters and wasted talent, I must say that chief soldier Draco (Mads Mikkelsen) was my favorite. His portrayal of a grizzled, old wartime soldier was well done. Despite the pacing issues, we got enough of his character and history to go from hating him to respecting, then finally liking him.

If you own the original Clash of The Titans and you bemoan the campy, cheesy humor or the extremely dated special effects. You will find yourself forgetting its faults in lieu of its character; because for all the 3D effects, expensive CGI and acting talent, this 2010 version lacks character and I am sorry but no amount of 3D debris flying in my face can make that a good movie for me.

SpicyMovieDogs.com

Repo Men (2010)
21 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Repo Men is Spicy!, 18 March 2010
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The people are normal and there are mundane things in effect, cars are cars, they don't fly. There is a barbecue, an old typewriter and men wear suits and ties like they do now – in my time. Yet there are stacked advertisements digitally displaying things on the side of high-rises, people getting artificial hearts, livers, kidneys etc. is the norm. One can cybernetically enhance the ears for hearing, or the eyes for seeing or the knees for running. All you have to do is consult the Union and it's new "Antiforg Payment Plan" – you get to prolong your life, as long as you can keep paying your bill. Miss a payment and you are given a window of up to 3 months to get even. Make it past 96 days and you are flagged for repossession, at this point you had better pray that Remy (Jude Law) or Jake (Forest Whitaker) are not sent after you.

Repo Men is a dark sci-fi thriller about a gifted Repo Man who goes from being a top hunter to being hunted. It is a psychological mind freak thrown into a neo-futuristic setting with decorations of blood, guts and gore to keep you uncomfortable throughout the entire ordeal. It paces well, and the acting talents of Jude Law and Forest Whitaker keep you interested. It is disgusting, Repo Men reach into freshly cut wounds in order to extract mechanical livers, kidneys, hearts, and even an esophagus. It is sexy, Beth (Alice Braga) is fire in the arms of Remy, she's a tough beauty, she has a gorgeous smile and the chemistry between the two makes you root for them. It is unpredictable, just when you think you have it figured out as another cliché whatever, it flips a switch and leaves you wondering at what point did things change from fantasy to reality – or vice versa. Repo Men is a Sci Fi masterpiece.

Plot Summary of Repo Men When childhood friends turned military brothers for life Remy and Jake take to repoing, it becomes a lifestyle that they have mastered. A job is just a job is the motto they parrot as they casually taze and slice open overdue organ holders to turn in to the Union – headed by Frank (Live Schreiber) for payment via "pink slips". Remy's wife has a hard time dealing with the dangers and immorality of his job and threatens to leave if he doesn't take a job in sales. This puts him in a place of indecision as he ponders on giving up a career that he has grown to love alongside his friend. When Remy decides to take on one last job before changing positions to save his marriage, he is injured badly and awakes to an artificial heart beating inside his chest. Knowing that he is now under the same harsh law that he had exacted on hundreds of other people, he tries to return to repo and realizes that he has lost his nerve. In a fight against time, Remy is forced to make a decision on his life, can he ever cut someone open again, or can he manage to successfully run and hide from the Union.

There is a moment in the film where Remy goes in to collect an expired heart from T-Bone (RZA). T-Bone is a recording artist that Remy has been a fan of for years. He is polite and welcomes Remy into his studio as he works on what he assumes will be his final track. Surrendering to the inevitable, T-Bone asks Remy if he could finish the song and even asks him to assist in the recording. The two sit and talk like old friends until the song is finished and placed on a thumb drive to which T-Bone hands it to Remy. He then asks which position would be best for him to be in when Remy takes his heart. It is a surreal take on the separation of business from emotion with these men. For me it was one of the better back and forths in the entire movie.

I was pleasantly surprised by Repo Men, the twists and turns, the Sci-Fi element and the love that comes about between Remy and Beth. It's a movie that will no doubt catch many of you off guard with it's plot and director Miguel Sapochnik knocked it out of the park. Were I to change anything outside of the awesome soundtrack and everything that I have been propping in this review, it would be the cinematography. While I can appreciate the difficulty in conveying a futuristic landscape in a familiar urban setting, it was not as convincing as I would have hoped it to be. Still this is crumbs, mere pebbles of gripe for an outstanding movie. Repo Men is spicy, it is hot, and you need to check it out as soon as you can.

5 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Don't believe the racialized hype, It's an Entrepreneur's tale of love, 11 December 2009
7/10

The Princess and The Frog is a beautifully drawn, well animated slice of the standard Disney pie with a Louisiana spin. Although I found all of the characters to be very lovable, I thought that Disney's "playing it safe" (you know exactly what I mean) due to a bunch of jackasses who blindly let a trailer mislead them, ultimately hurt the movie where it could have been a lot more dynamic.

From the wee age of a little girl, Tiana (Anika Toni Rose) and her father James (Terrence Howard) had always dreamed of owning their own restaurant. Her mastery of cooking from her mother, combined with her respect for hard-work from her father, has made her into a very level headed young woman. Still the hardships of being born poor made the only shining light seem that concept of a jumping restaurant of happy patrons and good cuisine. On the other side of town, Tiana's best friend Charlotte (Jennifer Cody) is very much the princess, with her father 'Big Daddy' La Bouff (John Goodman) buying her anything her little heart desired except for a prince to whisk her off her feet.

Although birds of a different feather, Charlotte and Tiana are very much friends and when word comes to town that a prince was to be within their very midst, Charlotte makes it her mission to woo him and Tiana continues to save her tips in order to buy her restaurant. When the evil Dr. Facilier comes into the mix of these people's lives, things get complicated as Tiana and Prince Naveen are turned into frogs, and the popular fairytale of the frog Prince takes a turn for the worst.

The Princess and the Frog offers up a tremendous amount of positives where many people will be digging for negatives. Tiana isn't the standard damsel in distress, nor is she the rubber-necking, sassy stereotype. I loved this character in terms of her being the epitome of the modern woman – ambitious to a fault, hardworking and all the while maintaining an air of femininity and vulnerability at the same time. In contrast the price, Naveen (Bruno Campos) is a playboy, not the brightest bulb in the set and comes off a bit childish like Tiana's buddy Charlotte. Kind of a jab at the trust-fund babies in the audience I would assume. At the heart of it all there is the ever present moral that if you follow your wishes they will come true, no matter how bizarre and unreal. If I had a daughter I would want her to watch and own this movie, based on Tiana alone. Her dynamic is a strong one and modern day princesses could really learn a thing or two from a two job hustling entrepreneur in training.

Then as you know it IS Disney, so the villain's song has to be the highlight of the movie. The deep, menacing voice of Keith David wasn't as scary as I expected it to be, but his song of "having friends on the other side" was my favorite of the many songs included. And Ray (Jim Cummings) the Cajun firefly ran a close second, still. The music sets the mood quite well and the only drawback to all of this, was that the central romance story seemed to take a backseat to everything else going on. Dare I say Tiana and Naveen's love seemed a bit (gasp) rushed? In the span of a traumatic experience, a playboy like Naveen starts to make eyes at the cute little waitress. I did not see love, I saw lust, admiration and need but not the "I want to marry you" love, that did not work out so well for me. If this were real life, Naveen would have got the panties from Tiana and not much else.

If the central romance was orchestrated a tad better, it would have been more believable but it seemed as if Tiana and Naveen got together for the hell of it, rather than growing to really have feelings for one another. With the large talent pool brought together for this movie - Terrence Howard, Oprah Winfrey and Keith David, The Princess and The Frog will do good, and the art being absolutely beautiful, may sober the speculating mob a tad.

Staying relatively light and cute for the early parts of the story, I will warn that it does get dark near the end, if you are the type of parent to shield your child from death and loss in these things. It was a treat to watch, and Disney hasn't skipped a beat, outside of ugly stereotypes of movies past. You should see The Princess and The Frog and you should bring your daughter with you, for the more Princess Tiana's we have in the world, the better for all of us.

More of my reviews at www.SpicyMovieDogs.com

Brothers (2009/I)
20 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
A touching movie about the true meaning of brotherly love., 4 December 2009
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Brothers is the 2nd War themed movie of 2009 to emphasize the human psyche over guts and glory. Where Mel Gibson's We Were Soldiers faltered at bringing home the sense of loss and devastation that the wives and mothers endure during wartime, Jim Sheridan nails it by keeping it personal in this film. There are no glorious shootouts, or supermen taking out hundreds with a pistol through a hailstorm of shrapnel. What we get is the premise of loyalty, bravery and sacrifice through soldier and civilian alike in a powerful drama appropriately named for the love between Tommy and Sam.

It strategically starts with a contrast to play on our assumptions. The sharp, dedicated and disciplined soldier in Sam Cahill swings by the jailhouse to pick up his tattooed, wise-cracking drunk of a brother in Tommy. The two don't say much as they drive home to reunite with family but the tiny exchanges and generally awesome acting by both Jake Gyllenhaal and Toby Maguire gives you the feeling that these two are very close. Ultimately it is all that is needed for the audience, so when the hardened military father comes down on his failure of a son (Tommy) it isn't surprising that it's his "good son", the war hero (Sam) that bridges the rift between the two. The beautiful and talented Natalie Portman plays the part of Sam's wife Grace, a mother to 2 cute daughters in Isabelle (Bailie Madison) and her younger sister Maggie (Taylor Geare). The kids are smart and Isabelle especially is beyond her years, they are saddened upon hearing that their dad is to be deployed but it all dissipates when he tucks them into bed lovingly. It is the setup for the meat and potatoes of Brothers when Sam becomes a prisoner of war assumed dead and his brother Tommy is there to pick up the broken pieces at home with his family.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Toby Maguire really show their acting chops throughout this story. The awkward familiarity of the misunderstood bad-boy that is Tommy was as believable as the calm, zen-like, monk of a soldier that is Sam. The chemistry was cooking whenever they shared a scene and between the similarity of their looks and the dramatic situations that they played out I found myself fully immersed into their struggles to cope. The father played by Sam Shepard was equally impressive as the old, battered war vet, Portman as the strong wife and her children (who were given much camera time), played their respective roles convincingly.

Brothers is real drama and though there are a few supporting characters, it never veers away from the core family. With the movie taking place in 2007, and our recent push into Afghanistan, the relevance will be there for a lot of people who have loved ones in action or soon to be. I cannot use the word Oscar bait for Brothers, though the release date and heavy drama may lead one to feel this way. What I found Brothers to be was a beautiful drama with tones as heavy as any other well written movie that I can think of. Toby Maguire must have put his body through hell to look the way he does on this movie – rail thin, crazed and sickly. For me Brothers was a salute to acting, good story and the power to evoke emotion from an audience. Great dialogue, a few twists and turns along with a decent score – the things that make me love the theater. If you haven't seen this yet, I really encourage you to get out and see it, you will not be disappointed.

Surrogates (2009)
15 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Surrogates explores the scarier side of avatar life, 25 September 2009
5/10

Although it felt immensely parallel to Mark Neveldine's Gamer, Surrogates explores the scarier side of avatar life when people opt for living through robots instead of their own bodies. With the charisma and macho swagger that Bruce Willis brings to the screen and the talents of Ving Rhames, James Cromwell and Boris Kodjoe, what really ended up disappointing me was the unimpressive graphics of the Surrogates themselves. Someone should have asked Milla Jovovich who did her makeup in Resident Evil Extinction because she looked more the part of a porcelain robot than the effect they tried on this movie, it was distracting and strange.

Plot: When a couple of Surrogate (robots created to replicate human beings) users are killed through their hosts, detectives Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) set out to find the source behind the killings. What they find is that a new weapon has been introduced that kills the host and user behind the avatar. A threat that could potentially disrupt the 99% drop in world-wide fatalities that the surrogates originally brought. Greer has grown to dislike the daily routine of living through a Surrogate and before long ditches his avatar in lieu of walking around the city as a human (something that is unheard of). With his own eyes and wits about him, Greer is able to uncover the source of the weapon and the people behind it. With his only grip on human life being his Surrogate addicted wife, he must find a way to stop the weapon which could mean danger for her and everyone in the world that is plugged in.

While I can appreciate the sci-fi element to Surrogates, it offers nothing new in terms of plot, storyline and conclusion. It is the fear of a virtual world in the future exaggerated with the visuals of nasty, sweaty, pock ridden humans stuck to their bed-like structures. A world of pasty people plugged into a machine that gives them the control of a beautiful and flawless version of themselves. You have the stereotypical fat nerd in the guise of a hot, blond sexpot, the sex heavy Club scenes and the city filled with people who aren't really people. Think Blade Runner, Matrix and I-Robot and you know the particular shot of what I speak. Yet Greer's city did not feel like a city at all, it felt like a large set with fancy CGI painted all over it to make it look "futuristic". I couldn't shake the world in a glass bowl feeling as the streets seem to lead to nowhere and the shots of the external camps looked even worse. The warm and fuzzy feelings of the future that I received when I watched older movies like Minority Report, I-Robot and the 5th Element is missing in this one. There just wasn't enough authenticity in Greer's surroundings and it made it seem so staged.

This story seemed to be better suited for a comic book or graphic novel. The big screen does not seem like the right medium for Surrogates because the humanoid CGI look is a long way from being mastered. Still, if you can stomach the visuals to follow Greer in his quest for an answer, you may find a bland and unoriginal police story that ends up being solved a bit too easily. I would suggest that you wait this one out for an evening rental with the family since the violence is minimal (the Surrogates bleed green), there are no real sexual situations and the length is relatively short. I cannot recommend the box office version of this movie.

More reviews available at www.SpicyMovieDogs.com

Gamer (2009)
4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A good rental or gift for an FPS fanboi., 9 September 2009
5/10

What's cool about Gamer is that it holds elements that are true to the Sims, MMORPG, Second Life experience. Every FPS player, MMO dabbler and anonymous degenerate can feel at home in the world of Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall). We are given the ultra-futuristic computer experience where the 3rd dimension pushes into the 4th and polygons are replaced by real, living, breathing human beings. Imagine playing Call of Duty 4 knowing that your player is a real person who will actually die if you walk into enemy fire. Imagine playing Playstation Home and controlling a hot avatar that can easily get some "strange" in the corner of the movie theater. What Gamer does is it shows us our anonymous, internet world if we were to go as far as to control reality.

Kable (Gerard Butler) is a convicted felon and the only death row inmate to have survived over 28 matches in the real FPS game "Slayers". The game, set up by multi-billionaire genius Ken Castle, allows a player to take the reigns of an inmate turned soldier in a battle royale for their freedom. If an inmate wins 30 matches they can walk free, the only problem is that most inmates don't make it to 10. Castle whose success came in the form of a realistic version of Second Life where people volunteer to be controlled by players in a party atmosphere. The outline of the movie is to follow Kable as he tries and make it to that 30th game.

Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor brought us a different form of action in Crank and the even crazier Crank: High Voltage, if you aren't a fan of those, chances are you will absolutely hate this. For me, this type of movie is the Mad Max of our time period, Death Race on an acid trip and with the fan-service to gamers it may be a cult classic waiting to happen. There are many cameos in the movie, not limited to John Leguizamo, Terry Crews (yes he dances in this one too, sigh), Zoe Bell and Milo Ventimiglia as the awesome Rick Rape. Kyra Sedgwick plays a convincing cougar-type and Amber Valletta is sexy.

If I was to gripe about anything it would be the similarities with Death Race and the way the story wrapped up. It felt as if they wrote the final scenes while filming and didn't give any thought to the huge gaping plothole and questions it left in my mind. Don't I hate it when they do that! The music was on point ranging from explicitly sexy rave tunes to classy Sammy Davis Jr. and the cinematography was much like Crank, though I felt the Space-Aged monochromatic look in the prison shots was a bit much.

This would be a good rental or a gift for an MMO player or an FPS fanboi but for average movie guy, stay far away. Still it's good to see King Leonidas back in the action again, as he was in RocknRolla. I look forward to the next installment.

More reviews from me at www.SpicyMovieDogs.com.

9 (2009/I)
4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A dark but beautiful offering of CGI., 9 September 2009
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A dark but beautiful offering of CGI about a post-apocalyptic world and 9 humanoid robots with a mysterious mission to carry out. Shane Acker directs this movie although the trailers and signs all point to the more popular Tim Burton. To top off this confusion (Burton produced it) we are shown creatures that play more than a little homage to A Nightmare Before Christmas. But even though Shane Acker directs it, for the Burton loving audience, 9 will not disappoint. I will however warn you that before you see it, be sure to be alert, awake and attentive because this isn't your run-of-the-mill, so simple a 9 yr old could have wrote it, story. This is a complex, decide for yourself, watch and pay attention type of story in a nice CGI coat that may fool you that it is a children story.

Starting out with the scientist (Alan Oppenheimer) crafting the future protagonist 9 (Elijah Wood), we are given a clue that the world has gone all to hell, and the all too familiar theme of machines taking over comes to play. 9 is a curious creature, a sack-boy with mechanical parts, he is adorable but not in a teddy bear kind of way, we are shown a bit of innocence in him which contrasts his world that looks very much like the aftermath of a war. At one part in the film we are shown the marching of soldiers to a dictator whose symbol and gait echo a resemblance to Adolph Hitler of World War 2. The steam punk influence combined with the 1940s style of art makes the world foreign but familiar and even with the flashbacks and the hints, the world of 9 just never feels like our world to me. As the movie progresses, 9 runs into the other 8 members of his tiny robot race, all being named after their respective numbers and each having a dramatically different personality from the other.

The toughest and probably my favorite of the lot was the only female (I could tell from the voice), the mask wearing, blade wielding 7 (Jennifer Connelly). Numbers 1 (Christopher Plummer) and 2 (Martin Landau) were the eldest and number 8 (Fred Tatasciore) was the typical strong oaf. 5 (John C. Reilly) was the loving and innocent healer of the bunch and 6 (Crispin Glover) was an artist. The twins 3 and 4 never talk but loved to chronicle and record events to playback for the others. The bad guys as you may have guessed by now were the machines. The flawed inventions of man who turned on their masters and decimated the human race.

The tale of 9 is one that has been in film since the original Metropolis with the robot version of Maria leading the overworked serfs to destroy the very machinery that kept their world running. Most of us may remember The Matrix which echoed the same tale of the renegade machine. Terminator also comes to mind with Skynet and many others. The unique thing about this story however is it isn't left up to some dark haired human to save the human race. This dark tale wipes us out and places the future in the hands of tiny machines the size of your hand. The story of 9 is a dark, dark one with a very bleak outlook for humanity and our ability to self-destruct. Within the world of 9 lays the debris and remnants of war and death. The corpses of the fallen lay strewn about, the sky has a steady flow of dark clouds and things die as naturally as they appear on screen.

As much as I loved this story, I wish I could have had a bit more. The team of 9 are each love-able in their own right but we are left to our own theories about their history. Nothing is explained to the audience outside of the reasoning for their existence, we get no personal background stories or grand flashbacks of happy times. This is why you should flex your creative muscles when viewing it, since the movie spans only 79 minutes, we are given the raw outline and forced to make do with what we have. For me this was enough and I thought 9 to be a well paced story about a very, very dark time. I would not recommend this for young children and I would think that the PG-13 rating would clue you in on that. But for the big kids and sci-fi loving adults, I would urge you to get out there and see it.

More reviews from me at www.SpicyMovieDogs.com.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Love is in the air at Hogwartz, 15 July 2009
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With heavy emphasis on attractions to the opposite sex and the jealousy that comes with it, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a transitional tale of both the children's growth and the breaking of light for darkness. The once lively halls of Hogwartz, lined with young children practicing their magicks and playing games with one other has been swapped for dark foreboding paths, barren classrooms and unnaturally looming darkness. The quirky professors of the lighter films, having scattered and banished since The Order of The Phoenix are no longer here to entertain us with their eccentric personas, goofy spectacles and comedic spells. No, this is a very different Hogwartz and Dumbledore's relationship with Harry Potter is more the focus than the raging hormones of he and his friends.

Emma Watson, who has had as many haters as supporters of her acting in the past will no doubt shut these critics up by her performance in this one. For the first time we are given a convincing range of emotions by her as she cries when her love interest is with another and smiles warmly and at peace when he is finally hers (convincingly). You cannot help but feel sorry for her during certain times when her lineage is questioned and when the loneliness settles in. Some of the more memorable scenes for me were between her and Daniel Radcliffe in their strange friendship that seems more brother and sister than classmates. The entire Weasley clan is back providing laughs, cringes and at times sighs. This not being limited to the bumbling blunders of Ron who has somehow grown into quite the ladies man at the school.

Though beyond the teens and their love stories and my wont for a Harry and Luna Lovegood romance, the main theme is always obvious and that is the choice of good versus evil. Nothing is as it seems and a cruel plot is hatched that forces Dumbledore to use Harry as a sort of spy to uncover a hidden secret. The comical Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) is introduced and replaces the spirit of the teachers we have grown accustomed to "experiencing" in the former films. He is a pleasure to watch as his every word is entertaining and adds a bit of light humor to an otherwise gloomy film. The sexual tension amongst the students, and the detective work of Harry takes up two thirds of the movie but by the time you hit the last third the dark tone becomes pitch black. By the time you make it to the last 30 minutes, you will experience a heavy tragedy and an explanation behind the title that is The Halfblood Prince.

Out of the entire series, this one shines and falls well in line with the rest. To compare it with another movie I would choose The Empire Strikes Back in terms of the dark mood, the winning hand of evil and the feeling of "to be continued" that occurs when the credits roll. With beautiful direction, relevant cinematography and outstanding special effects, I find it hard to complain about anything. Outside of the alienation of a new viewer who may choose this to be their first movie in the Harry Potter series, the story and acting is one of the better in the 7 films to date.

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