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I've been a die-hard Indy fan since I was a child--I knew what I wanted from this movie, and I was not disappointed. It was everything an Indy movie should be--full of action, humor, and the amazingly improbable adventure scenarios that are the staple of the franchise. Everyone who's complaining about how 'unrealistic' bits are boggle me a little--all three previous films were packed with them. The Indy movies are MEANT to be larger than life, and this one was no exception--in my opinion it delivered in every way it should have. (The jungle chase was a thing of beauty in and of itself; both I and the theater wound up cheering at various parts.) I strongly recommend it to any Indy fan; you'll leave the theater grinning, just like I did.
The Hitcher (2007)
I liked this film more than I probably should have.
As a huge fan of the original, I went into this movie with extremely low expectations--most of the remakes out there have been appallingly bad (though the Amityville Horror, while extremely flawed, at least made me jump), and I was expecting more of the same from The Hitcher. I wound up pleasantly surprised.
It suffers a lot of the things that plague most horror movies--under-written characters (and some poor writing in general), a lot of totally implausible situations, and, imho, a little too much gore, but on a plus side all the actors were definitely into it, and redeemed it somewhat in my eyes. Sean Bean, though he's no Rutger Hauer, stood out and definitely made his version of Ryder memorable and creepy as all hell--rather like Hauer, he's a little too good at being a bad guy for my comfort. Sophia Bush, though her costume was a little too stereotypical-horror-movie-heroine, managed to avoid the usual clichés usually associated with the female leads in this kind of movie, and made Grace a character I was actually rooting for, rather than wishing she'd just get killed off like I do with most chicks in horror films. Both Grace and Jim were badly under-written, but she and Zachary Knighton did everything they could to work around that, and it shows.
All three of them had a great chemistry, too, that had everything to do with their acting and nothing to do with the script--it's one of the film's chief redeeming factors. When John first yanks Grace into the front seat and demands that Jim say he wants to die, the atmosphere is genuinely tense, as is the sequence in the police station (despite the fact that, having seen the original, I already knew how that one was going to go).
The gore was a little over-the-top, though. Part of what made the original so effective for me was that there wasn't very much blood--you didn't actually -see- Nash get ripped in half, for example, which to me was worse than if you had. Leaving stuff to someone's imagination is almost always more effective; Jim's death just turned into another Hollywood splatter-fest. Ditto the family in the station wagon--you could only imagine what John had done to them (though I will admit, seeing C. Thomas Howell puke wasn't high on my list of stunning visuals, either). On the other hand, having seen the alternate ending, I think that one would have been a lot better climax--disgusting as it was, it fit what Grace had had to become so very, very well.
All in all, I'd say it's one of those bad movies that are nevertheless fun to watch--whatever else you might say of it, much like the original it's never dull. The actors manage to carry the whole thing reasonably well, which for me makes it re-watchable. It'll never be the classic the original is, but it could be a lot worse--at least it's not House of Wax. Or The Hills Have Eyes (the original, the remake, and the godawful sequel). Or...well, you get the idea. It's not high on the list of things I'd recommend, but I -would- recommend it.
If it wasn't for Robert Carlyle....
My husband and I rented this for our son, and I was mostly unimpressed. None of us have ever read the book, so we didn't go into it prejudiced, but even so I don't wonder why this movie got such bad reviews. The plot is Star Wars by way of Lord of the Rings, and not in a good way--I've heard they changed it drastically from Paolini's book, and if I was him, I'd be damn cranky.
What's really unfortunate is that visually, the movie's beautiful. The cinematographers, location scouts, and costume designers really gave it their all, and it's a shame they couldn't have all been employed for a better film. The dragon is very well done, too, and the shots of her and Eragon flying are extremely pretty. Problem is, even a great screenwriter would've had a hard time working with the inane plot, but whoever this got farmed out to really didn't even try. It jumps here and there, giving out token exposition and tossing in a few secondary characters who you know were probably mean to have bigger roles.
The actors do the best they can with the terrible dialogue, but the quality is uneven. The boy who plays Eragon seems like he might shape up to be a decent actor someday, but the chick seems to have been cast solely for her looks, which might be part of the reason she spends most of the movie stuck to a table--it's hardly a demanding role. Jeremy Irons seems depressed, like he already knows he's in an awful movie, and John Malkovich's two scenes flash by so fast you wonder why he's even in there at all.
The only reason I didn't give up and grab a book was Robert Carlyle. I've been a fan of his for years, and he cheerfully takes his role as the sorceror/shade Durza and runs away with it (though what was up with the sudden radical shift in his appearance two-thirds of the way through, I don't know). I've always especially liked him in his creepier incarnations, and hearing him without his Scottish accent was a trip. Too, Rachel Weisz's voice acting was well done, even if it did take me a while to realize it was her.
My son enjoyed it well enough, and it really was pretty, so I can give it a four. Still, I'm glad we didn't spend money to see it in the theater.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Great, great movie
I love this movie. I like it even more than the first one--the first one had an amazing beginning, but my interest always wanes around the time they find the soldiers. The sequel never lets up, and while it's a damn bleak movie, it's amazing even so. It's really, really claustrophobic, whereas the first one left you mentally exposed.
It has a few--I can't even really call them plot-holes, just bits where things didn't make as much sense--but they hardly matter, because the whole film keeps you so tense. The first one had a few, too, and I didn't care about the characters in the first one like I did in Weeks. A lot of it is seen through the eyes of the two kids, both of whom did amazing jobs in my opinion (and the girl, whose real name is, unfortunately, Imogen Poots, has some of the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen.) They were out of the country when the virus hit, and come back during reconstruction to find Dad still alive and Mum (apparently) dead, though Dad doesn't tell them that he totally ditched out on her when the house they were hiding out in got overrun by Infected.
When they arrive in the designated safe area, everyone's told that they must under no circumstances cross over into the rest of London, but this being a movie, of course the kids do--they head to their old house to find a picture of their mother, and instead find Mum herself. She's completely mentally traumatized, but alive, and there's this great bit when one of the soldiers tells Dad, "Mr. Harris, we've found your kids," and he's like, "Oh, thank God," and the guy goes on, "We've also found your wife." The change in his facial expression is -priceless- -- kind of a shock, 'yay', and 'oh, crap' look all at once.
The movie follows more main characters than the first one did--there's the kids, Dad, Sergeant Doyle, and Major Scarlet, and a whole host of secondary characters (most of whom don't live long after Dad goes Rage-y.) I especially liked Doyle, even though I knew from the outset he was probably going to die, but weirdly, my favorite character was Don, even as an Infected. Robert Carlyle can be a scary little bastard anyway, and in this movie he gave me some serious nightmares. The Infected in this movie weren't quite as mindless as those in the first--Don's the only one we see continuously, but he seems to have a few more marbles still rattling around up there than the crazies in 28 Days Later. He winds up almost stalking the kids, and what he does to Major Scarlet near the end is just ick. Between that and what happens to Alice (in a scene that was a lot like Blade Runner, albeit grosser), I was glad I wasn't eating when I watched it.
This is NOT a happy movie, at all. Normally I don't like movies that are so damn bleak, but this one just grabbed and wouldn't let go. What kills me is that this is a movie about Britain, that's also full of Americans, and was written by two Spanish guys. They did an awesome job with it, and it winds up almost haunting. The acting was great, too, which went a long way in making the movie work--everyone's believably terrified, and I actually really cared when somebody got offed (especially Doyle.) There's a certain awful symmetry in the scene where Alice unwittingly infects Don, too--it's an amazing scene in and of itself, because as I said Robert Carlyle is a scary, scary little man. (Apparently, he hit his head so hard on the window he gave himself a concussion. Watching the crazy intensity of that scene, I believe it.) Anyway, I love it. Rent it, watch it, buy it--just don't watch it alone, and really don't eat while doing so. Especially not anything red.
The Dresden Files (2007)
The show and the books are two different things, people
Okay, to start with, I love the books. I have all of them, and have read them several times. However, I *knew* the series would be different, and so approached it knowing it would be its own entity.
The friction between book purists and fans who haven't read the books reminds me a lot of what happened when 'Stargate SG1' first came out. People howled because the show went in such a different direction from the movie (which it really did), but after a while began to accept it on its own. I adore both the movie and the series, and am finding myself doing so with the Dresden Files as well.
For everyone who says the series is too different from the books--would you really *want* it to be exactly the same? I mean, we've read the books, and know what happens--I for one like the fact that the plot lines are new and different. Paul Blackthorne is perfect as Harry, and while I initially had reservations about Valerie Cruz (mainly because she's physically nothing like Murphy in the books), I think she does a great job with Murphy's character. Terrence Mann is nicely acerbic as Bob, and while Morgan is a more sympathetic character than he is in the books, he still manages to loom. (And Morgan *has* to loom. It's imperative.) ^_^ So yeah. Judge the show on its own merits, and not by its every difference from the books. As with Stargate, it IS possible to enjoy both, provided you accept that one is not the other.