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Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
Fun but overplayed at times....
I REALLY wanted to like this movie. In fact I shouldn't say I didn't like Lucky Number Slevin, because I did. Instead I should say I expected better after reading the reviews and watching the trailer for it. A couple of key elements hold Lucky Number Slevin together so we will start with those. The script is amazing. The writing and dialog between characters is very well written and is on par with this year's "V for Vendetta" (which also had a very well-written script). Josh Hartnett and Lucy Liu played much better than expected and earn some credit in my book since I haven't seen them impress me much in the past. Also, the chemistry between Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley was outstanding and the scenes they were in were masterfully written. With that said there are to many flaws present to give this movie higher than a 6. First and foremost is Bruce Willis. It seems to me he is a hit and miss kind of guy. He hit big with Sin City and missed big with Lucky Number Slevin. Though his dialog was nice, he didn't portray his role the way I think it was written and instead acted bland and boring. Realizing that assassins most likely aren't the most dramatic people on earth, I bring forth the idea that he is supposed to be some sneaky ghost of a man. He is supposed to be creepy and slide in the shadows, and Bruce Willis just didn't pull off that vibe to me. Also, the "twist" in the movie wasn't all that good and seemed like a generic way to end the film. Also I was surprised IMDb didn't put a main genre of this as comedy, since most of it was obviously intended to be comedic. In fact, most of it is comedic up until the last 20 minutes or so. It tries to be something sneaky like the usual suspects, but just fails to enthrall me. It takes itself like the best movie this year, when really I'd rather watch Slither. Good effort by the screenplay writer though and Josh Hartnett deserves his props for sure. 6/10
The brilliance of "Slither"
"Slither" is a truly dedicated motion picture. The reason it is so brilliant is simple; it combines every great horror moment ever told into a mix of its own story and outrageous humor. It's truly one in a million. I haven't been so intrigued by a horror film since Saw. Don't get me wrong, I like torture crazed features like Hostel, but Slither is actually a really funny movie mixed with the right spice of horror. Nowadays horror movies have done just about everything you can think about and most of them are just bland and clichéd. Slither simply takes all those clichés and jam them up into it's own new story, and that's why its awe-inspiring to watch. I will admit to you my fair reader, I am a horror movie fan. I take my pick of horror movies that look half way decent and well produced and generally am not disappointed. This year's Last House on the Left, and Hostel were especially entertaining, but not like the film I type this review for. This is the movie for every horror fan of my generation. It's got CGI, a list of well known actors, monsters, bugs, acid, people being split in half, it's got it all brothers and sisters and I encourage you to view this movie if you remain a fan of the somewhat dying horror genre. Filmmakers please make more movies like the Saw duo and Slither, I promise you that you're faithful viewers have not betrayed you! They simply lie dormant within the bulks of corporate walkers and talkers and teenagers looking for a thrill. We are out here, please stop making this PG-13 lying garbage that promises to show us what we bought the f****** ticket for and gives us 25 year old teenagers being off camera slaughtered and tricky camera angles to make us think we are being frightened....IT'S NOT WORKING!!!!! STAY ALIVE IS AWFUL ALONG WITH THE MAJORITY OF THE NONSENSE BEING MADE......Please just stick to great horror like Slither and keep your target base satisfied before your target base becomes nothing more than date movie theater annoyances who don't pay attention to anything but their 15 year old blondie sitting next to them giggling. OK OK I'm sorry I got off on a rant....Anyways Slither is a really great film and well worth admission price. 8/10
A History of Violence (2005)
Decent I must say.
This is a very hard movie to review. On the one hand, it's very easy to watch and not get bored, and the acting is performed remarkably well. But I must say, the story was a little far-fetched, and it was not as brutal as some will have you believe. I mean the sex scenes are not that "graphic" and the killing in the movie are not that "strong brutal". I've seen this kinda stuff in the whole Lethal Weapon series, Casino, Goodfellas, American History X and a whole slew of movies that had way more good attributes than this one. So the shock value was 0. The screenplay was just average and it just didn't create that spark that leaves the viewer and awe and seemingly addicted to the screen. Even still, the fight scenes are very well executed and realistic, and the action is in the realm of believable unlike some movies. The camera/directing is really nothing special and it seems like the whole movie tries to revolve around some kind of obsolete shock value and its solid acting. Maybe I set my standards to high for this one based on IMDb user reviews and others, but this is just a decent little action flick, nothing more. 6/10
V for Vendetta (2005)
I wanted to not like it.
Simply because of all the hype and the proposed pro-terrorist agenda surrounding its big screen debut, but dammit it's a good movie. Maybe not AMAZING as some people have been bold enough to say, but it is an an entertaining and fun script and the action is wired up correctly. I usually don't lean towards movies that push political agendas, especially far left or far right ones, but this movie is about revolution. Yes, parliament is blown up, and yes the big ben clock tower is not spared, but these actions lead to a revolt by the people.....all of them, not just a small party with destruction at hand. Once all the people stand up and revolt against a government to overthrow it, it is considered a revolution and it is how America was founded. So before you judge this movie as a promotion for terrorism, watch it for yourself and make up your own mind. As for the acting, it was about what I expected....not great but certainly exceptional. I know nothing about the comic so I cannot comment on it faithfulness, but I hear it's not a very faithful adaptation so comic lovers beware. The action is up to par, even though sometimes it's a little unbelievable and the enemies of V stand still on occasion and just let him pulverize through them. The dark, gritty setting was nice and about what I expected coming in to see it. The ideas were a little far fetched, and America bashing does take place in it from time to time. The sound was very good though, and should be noted to be a good big screen quality. The directing was about average for these types of movies. The violence is not as strong as some may have predicted. Overall this is a good movie with a damn good screenplay and you should check it out for a good time.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
I must put my two cents in on this one
Right off the bat, I can tell you this movie will have very mixed reviews. I saw it on opening night with about 70 annoying teenagers, a few small children, and a couple real moviegoers like myself. After viewing the film, I jumped on IMDb to check the early reviews. I would like to address first my position on why the people that gave negative reviews are wrong. You don't go see a film such as The Hills Have Eyes for kid's night out and some good family entertainment. I read reviews that talk about this movie is atrocious and an over the top gore fest and things of that nature. The truth is, this movie is very violent with some gut wrenching scenes and some truly sadistic actions, but it is justified....let me finish. One review stated you would have to be a cold cold person to enjoy a film like this one, and I strongly disagree. This movie has a lot of emotion and very good acting. Very rarely in horror cinema do you get a chance to see what a murder actually does to a family. They really capture the suspense and drama of the situation and it's very real impacts on the family members. There is a lot of very well thought out heart behind the plot of this movie. Second, I read in a review that the gore takes the place of suspense, which is totally incorrect. The large amounts of unflinching gore and violence were put in places that were not supposed to be suspenseful to begin with. The gore comes from the protagonists actually rising up against incredible odds for the sake of love and family. The scene where the main character rises to his feet after being totally drained of all fight from opening his eyes to his wedding ring is absolutely genuine and fantastic. The suspense is there before the protagonists begin their uphill battle when they are the ones being preyed upon. OK now I've addressed a couple issues that concerned me. Now let me give you the good and the bad rundown on The Hills Have Eyes remake. The good points outweigh the bad by a long stretch. #1 - The acting is way above par from what I expected. The guy who plays Bobby is an especially solid and intense actor. #2 - The directing doesn't fall victim to clichéd ways to present a truly eerie feel. Aja gets mad props here. #3 - The antagonists in the movie are crazed and very monster-like, which makes the viewer have absolutely no sympathy for the murderers. To often we see movie makers somehow glorify the cold killers and the agony they place upon people. Not here my fellow moviegoers, here you will feel nothing but hatred towards these savages. Even if they are deformed and mentally unbalanced due to government nuclear testing, they still deserve to die. #4 - -------SPOILER--------- The protagonists actually fight back instead of just getting stalked and murdered like so many other movies. It is great when a movie shows the unbelievable fight a family member can have for another. They fight with every last energy they have and never give up or give in. The family fighting back is really where the gore hits in and it every bit appreciated by the time it happens. People were actually clapping in the movie theater when they fought with heart to overcome the eyes in the hills. -------END OF SPOILER------ #5 - I had to say it guys, the gore. The violence is well placed and satisfying to even "Hostel" lovers. This stuff is truly unforgiving in it's presentation I kid you not. THIS MOVIE IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. #6 - The setting was outstanding. They really show us the isolation and misery of the desert. With edgy camera work and a dark, gritty feel to it, the setting breathes and has a life all on it's own. The setting is the best element of the picture. OK, now for the couple bad elements to the film. #1 - Some parts with the antagonists were a bit cheesy and over acted. They tried to be creepy in a couple parts where it really wasn't needed since the setting and makeup alone was creepy enough. #2 - The protagonists make a couple dumb moves, but then again you must realize that you know the characters are going to go through hell, where as the characters have no idea. #3 - The very last second of the movie was not needed. #4 - The opening scene didn't much impress me and they should have either made it more impacting or just cut it completely. Overall though, this movie is BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL and gets my 7/10 rating. I hope more people will agree with my points of view on this one and really give it a shot. Any horror fan will not be disappointed. Thanks for the time.
Grizzly Man (2005)
Treadwell broke every unmentioned law of natural boundaries. With most of the bears, he formed a bond unbroken for 13 years. I read some of these comments saying that he cared only for the bears, or that he deserved to die because he invaded on their habitat. This is just foolishness coming out in people. Even on one occasion he films a bumble bee laying dormant on a flower, and tells the bee he loves it, AND he keeps a close friendship with all the foxes as well. This man didn't impose on the habitat as some suggest, but rather made himself part of it. He simply blended in with the wild and didn't impose at all, which is why he was able to survive for 13 years among them. In essence he was part of the wild. Also, some people say they could never find out what he was protecting. In Alaska, for 13 years NO poaching incidents were reported where treadwell resided. 1 year after his untimely death over 8 were reported in the season where he would have been there. This man DID protect all wildlife. He was a dark, troubled man but he was a man with a mission to fulfill and reached a point of enlightenment that most humans only dream to achieve. 13 years he did this, and defied the boundaries. He knew he was going to die in his "home" but simply didn't care. He was killed by one of the only grizzlies he did not befriend at the park, an old already human tormented animal on the edge of survival. This film had a melancholy feel to it and a somewhat fitting depressed feel about it. There are some generally beautiful scenes in this movie and some of the most gripping animal footage ever caught on video. The only pet peeve I have about Grizzly Man is the narrator sometimes inputting his own opinion into a story made only for the man who lived it. I think he should let the viewer make up his mind, and keep it a documentary. Also, a little more focus on the wildlife instead of Treadwell would have been appreciated. Overall this is still a pretty good flick and has some great imagery. 7/10
Lord of War (2005)
Yuri is impressive
I really enjoyed this film. It's not going to make many top 10 lists, but it does have some very memorable lines, and some memorable scenes.....like the stack of A-K 47s. Nicholas Cage does yet another bang up job as Yuri and is very convincing as an international gun runner. The plot is thick and the directing is nicely done. It never hides from its agenda and never runs from its message. It stays on point and doesn't lose focus on our warlord Yuri. The ending sequences are powerful and there are more guns in this movie than Rambo ever dreamed. The only pet peeve I have about this one is the lack of explanation of how he conquered to much. How he could fly through international air in some scenes with ATF hot on his tail and a few other small things. Then again I suppose they weren't trying to make a 3 hour movie. Nevertheless it is very entertaining and I recommend it for anybody looking to have a good time. 7/10
Denzel, must you?
This is just one of those average Die Hard spin offs that in most cases I try to avoid. John Lithgow is pretty convincing as a stark raving mad inmate, but to many aspects of this movie fall flat on its face. Some of this stuff is just to far fetched for me to buy into. Do men in prison really dress themselves up in ghetto armor and masquerade around the lunch hall with swords and battle to the death? Do juries really buy into bashing the defense attorney personally, and do they allow DAs to jump around the courtroom waving his hands in the air like a madman and screaming like a girl? Is it possible to goto a parole hearing, tell a man on the parole board you are going to have sex with his wife and his daughter AND HIS DOG, and then have 3 prisoners just magically bust up in there with power drills and electric saws (with no plug-in around) and kill everybody, then make an escape on a van filled with books for sale? I mean cmon when do you want me to stop? I am able to suspend disbelief for a film in many cases, but then there is this fine line between entertaining and just plain ridiculous. The only reason this movie gets a 4 is because the acting was exceptional. Btw, drug me up on heroin and cocaine and I bet you still can't convince me to have sex with someone I don't want to, even if she is a white hooker with CLAP. 4/10
The Jacket (2005)
Touching and gripping....
I really expected this film to have a higher rating from IMDb users. I read a couple reviews that said they couldn't keep up with the film, and couldn't grasp what was going on. Don't comment on something you don't understand please. =) The way this movie is presented to the viewer, it is truly touching. Adrian Brody does yet another bang up job and really deserves credit for participating in true art. I can't really find any mistakes the movie made as it paces along following our tormented hero. I call him a hero because in the end, that's what he turns out to be. I also read that it doesn't explain what causes him to jump into his futuristic visions, where if you pay attention it most certainly does. They explain that the drugs given to Jack and the other patients, are supposed to in essence MAKE them hallucinate and peel away the layers of insanity in a claustrophobic environment where they can accept the fact they are troubled. The drugs are what make the patients fly into a world of chaos and emotion, the claustrophobia mixed with the drugs and focus on reality is what makes him time-jump. It is conceived that maybe only a sane person put under this treatment for very insane people can adjust to the mental suffering it induces. No matter what you argue on a theoretical basis, the truth about this movie is it's fantastic. The setting has a gritty and a "One Flew Over the Cuccoos Nest" type feel. The story is fast paced and goes directly for the punchline instead of dancing around itself and trying to make you think already more than you are. The morals are introduced in a beautiful fairy tale like manner. The acting is better than most, and the characters are well developed and make you care for them. The directing is splendid and the independent film feel works very nicely. The script works well with the actors and the idea is never flinching. I can't find one real bad quality about this motion picture which is why it deserves a thoughtful 8/10. What I can find about this movie that is flawed and the reason it doesn't score perfect or make it in my top 50, is that all the ideas are taken from other movies. Even the feel for the film is something I have felt before from other movies. To get a perfect score from me, you most make a motion picture art, AND it must be totally original and thought provoking. This movie is art but answers itself precisely and takes other's ideas and puts them together for the plot. Still, this is an excellent movie and I recommend it for anybody wanting to be fully entertained and satisfied! 8/10
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Whoop that trick (GET EM)
This movie is a nice surprise. The acting is great and the elements played out are deep and mesmerizing. The screenplay is perfect for the setting of Memphis, and the overall southern hip hop feel really works. A tough street-wise pimp having a middle aged breakdown is fed up with ghetto livin and the struggle to get by with his few prostitutes, and relatively small drug game. He resuscitates his rap game with an old high-school friend with limited studio equipment. While the protagonist is rough at times, and has few morals when it comes to women, he is surprisingly likable. The complexity of "Djay" is that he is so simple. Obviously largely uneducated and in touch with how the streets work, he still formulates his musical ability with a hustler's ambition. He knows what he wants and he won't stop until it is obtained. Everyone has to have a dream, whether you have to lie for it or put everything on the line. Luda plays a Memphis boy that made it out of the ghetto with his rhymes, but then becomes consumed in his own image and the fortune put upon him. It makes him a despicable person when it comes down to it, and he really pulled the roll off. I had my doubts about Luda as an actor, but he does a splendid job with it. Overall a good effort by all parties. My pet peeve with this movie is the music is just average. Being involved with rap for years now, you have to understand movies like 8 mile really focus on the lyrics and music makin it a whole different type of movie. While this movie was better acted than 8 Mile with a grittier feel, the musical sequences were completely dominated by 8 Mile. Djay is supposed to come off as a good artist attempting to overcome insurmountable odds, yet his music is just average. On the other hand, there is so much more going on in this film that the music, it really plays a secondary role. Don't get me wrong it still has that Memphis feel to it, it just doesn't compare to 8 Mile's music. That said, it also points to the fact talent isn't always considered more than the actions you do and who you know. If you do a violent act, or have one happen to you that will get you noticed, the rap game will be faster to pick you up regardless. Overall this is a well-done flick and it gets my praises. 7/10