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12 reviews in total 
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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Watch Equilibrium instead!, 8 March 2006

By Jason Brown

Ultraviolet is a comic book movie in every meaning of the term; the opening credits present this very clearly. From the over-the-top visual style and action, to the cheesy and sometimes laughable dialogue it's all here and comic book fans may enjoy many of these points. However, as a movie, it doesn't have the same effect.

In the 21st century, a subculture of genetically modified humans called Hemophages emerge with heightened speed, stamina, and intelligence. The government considers the spread of this disease to be a hazard and seeks to rid the world of them. Violet is a Hemophage warrior sent to steal what is supposed to be the final weapon against the Hemophages. After the theft she discovers that the weapon is actually a small boy named Six and cannot simply hand him over for certain death. With both sides after her, she must fight to protect the boy as well as herself and unravel the truth behind the war.

Go rent Kurt Wimmer's previous film, Equilibrium to see a complete action movie.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not a war movie but a soldier's movie, 8 March 2006

By Jason Brown

Joyeux Noël is a film that gives hope for unifying people of all nationalities, cultures, and faiths. Despite the WWI setting, Joyeux Noël is not a "war movie," rather a soldier's movie (much like Jarhead). It tells the fact-based story of a temporary truce between German, French, and Scottish soldiers from December 24-25, 1914 known simply as "The Christmas Truce." It provides many insights into the soldier's mentality of the times relating to politics and religion.

The actors do an amazing job and credit must go to the director, Christian Carion, for skillfully directing this international cast to near perfection. For those who saw Diane Kruger in Troy as just another pretty face, she shows a very convincing and dramatic role as Anna Sörensen.

One of her scenes epitomizes the film. Anna enters a French family's home, now the German HQ, and asks the couple where to find someone. The husband ignores her while the wife politely responds. The message is clear; the husband cannot see past the fact that they are the "enemy" and cannot bring himself to socialize with her. The wife, however, saw past that and saw the human being behind the propaganda and talked with her.

Joyeux Noël is a must see for anyone looking for a relief from modern war movies. It may not depict the horrors of WWI, but it provides thought-provoking insight into the event and how humility can triumph, even in times of war.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Bad movie saved by stunt-work, 8 March 2006

By Jason Brown

Tom-Yum-Goong is the follow-up to Tony Jaa's breakout film, Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior. The movie was shot in a similar style as its predecessor, yet fails to achieve anything but blood-thirsty entertainment.

For those unfamiliar, fight scenes in both movies were filmed without wires or stuntmen. This style brings out the raw, real brutality of the fighting that appears in the films.

The movie is about a young Thai warrior named Kham, who goes to Sydney to retrieve his stolen elephant with the help of a framed police officer, Sergeant Mark, and a young Thai woman, Pla.

Story-wise, Tom-Yum-Goong isn't a stretch from Ong-Bak. It is a simple story that fits a movie of this type. In Thailand, elephants are held in very high regard and stealing them seems to have led to an international crime spree. Seeing this on film was a great choice to set up Jaa's character. In fact, the first 10 minutes of the movie are spent introducing Kham, his father, and the elephants with some shots of Thailand's beautiful rivers and forests. The slow pacing and touching interaction here pays off and makes the audience view the elephants as more than just family pets, but as family members. Jaa has obviously taken some acting lessons and does a convincing job with some of the emotional scenes in the movie.

Despite the great setup, once Kham arrives at Sydney the movie falls apart. Sloppy editing and atrocious continuity practices by the director destroy the movie's flow. There are many occasions where the action jumps forward and characters suddenly disappear with out connecting shots. It's as if the director didn't care and forces the audience not to care because of his laziness.

Another horrible decision was to have the Asian actors recite broken English while in Sydney, because it can be difficult to understand them.

Thankfully, Jaa's fights and stunts mesmerize the audience, so that these flaws may not be noticeable without multiple viewings. It is a true testament to how his martial arts can save a mediocre movie. The fight scenes are simply the most amazing fights captured in a movie. Jaa's blend of Muay Thai and grappling lead to some brutal and bone shattering sequences.

The most memorable fight is a four-minute scene where Jaa fights his way to the top of the Tom-Yum-Goong restaurant with no camera cutting. The result is an amazingly choreographed and smooth sequence that martial arts fans everywhere can drool over.

Syriana (2005)
3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Syriana: Read a Book Instead, 11 January 2006

By David Axelman

Syriana was among the worst films of 2005. Or perhaps it was among the best. Nobody knows for certain because the film was so tedious that almost everybody had walked out of the theater before it was over.

In their zeal to expose corruption in the oil industry (read: President Bush is bad), some notoriously liberal icons like George Clooney attempted to produce an expose of sorts. They apparently assumed that they could simply splice together a few leftist clichés and the audience would, in a fit of rage, call their Congressmen and demand impeachment proceedings against the entire White House. Hopefully the audience would also be moved to purchase some ugly Scions.

However, the writers and producers made no tangible effort to tie anything together. Each scene stood on its own, almost as a separate movie, without any congruence. Here is a brief synopsis of what might have happened in the movie.

A CIA agent (Clooney) accidentally gives a nuclear weapon to a terrorist (or "freedom fighter"). This occurs at the very beginning of the movie and we are not sure what is happening during this scene. This effectively sets the tone for the rest of the film. Meanwhile, evil oil companies are merging and corruption is everywhere. A prince from the Persian Gulf sells oil drilling rights to the Chinese instead of to the US. This angers the greedy Americans, who in turn pressure the prince's father to leave the throne to a younger prince. The new Chinese management decides to lay off some Pakistani employees. Some of the younger workers naturally turn to a terrorist camp for religious and spiritual guidance. A cleric (the guy with CIA's missing weapon) convinces them to blow themselves up by detonating the bomb in an oil tanker. You see, these youth had no choice. Americans are greedy. They rape the land in the Persian Gulf and take advantage of everybody. The only recourse for an out-of-work Arab worker is to blow himself up. This seems to be the point that the writers were trying to make.

Here's hoping that next time Hollywood blowhards try to use a movie as a political vehicle they will at least make it coherent and interesting.

9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Don't you just hate it when this happens?, 6 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

By Manny Castro After almost two years on the air, Nickelodeon's Drake & Josh are such a popular show that it already inspired a movie. However, unlike Kenan & Kel (the popular Nick duo from the '90s), Drake & Josh only get a TV movie and for good reasons I may add. In the TV movie Drake Parker (Drake Bell) is upset because his band manager is booking his band in bad gigs. One of the bad gigs involves the band playing for a retirement home. Whoa! This manager must really hate the band, huh? But, his troubles will soon be solved because his step-brother Josh Nichols (Josh Peck) offers his services as his new band manager. Drake resists at first, but decides to give him a shot since Josh is a loser and FINALLY realizes when he has to write a school paper about his greatest adventure. In the meantime, however, their parents go on a ten-day cruise. Before they leave they instruct Drake and Josh to take their sister, Megan (Miranda Cosgrove), on time to the airport, so she doesn't miss her plane ride to Denver. I know what you're asking, "what parent lets their eleven-year-old child travel alone?" Nonetheless, Drake and Josh obey and take their sister to the airport. Then, when they arrive they are dumb enough to put Megan on the wrong plane. Oops! Now, Drake and Josh have to take a flight to Los Angeles to rescue their sister. At L.A. Josh bumps into a Talent Booker for MTV's TRL in the restroom. The booker had a talent cancel on him the day before an L.A. show. This guy is so desperate that he allows Drake to perform on the show. However, the story doesn't end there because Drake and Josh SOMEHOW get involved with some criminals who've stolen a U.S. currency machine and now must stop them. WOW! That's a lot for a 90-minute TV movie. "Good Burger" didn't have this much sub-plots! While I like the whole aspect of Drake getting his big brake, I think the rest of the movie was really stupid and contributes nothing to the history of the show. Viewers of the Drake & Josh program know that the show is a sitcom about the wacky adventures of two step-brothers. So, why does the film turn into some kind of crime-thriller? Ask Executive Producer Dan Schneider. Yeah, he's the same guy who wrote and produced the Kenan & Kel TV shows and movies. Hence all my references. Anyway, I honestly thought this movie had potential if it would have tried to contribute to the history of the show. On the show Drake's mother marries Josh's father, yet we NEVER learn ANYTHING about Drake's dad and Josh's mother. Wouldn't it had been better if the film tried to answer that big question? Well, maybe Mr. Schneider has that planned for the sequel.

Scrooged (1988)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Twisted Take on Classic Tale, 27 December 2005

By Manny Castro

In many ways, Scrooged was Bill Murray's groundwork for Groundhog Day. In both films Murray plays a television personality who is selfish and mean-spirited. Then, throughout the course of both films, he goes through a supernatural experience that changes his ways.

In Scrooged, Murray plays Frank Cross, the head of a television station in New York. The station is going to be airing a live telecast of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. Since Cross is selfish and mean-spirited, he doesn't care that the cast and crew have to work on Christmas Eve. He also doesn't have much of a Christmas spirit. He orders his secretary to give towels to his brother and other loved ones. Then, through the irony of life, he begins to experience the same fate as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Directed by Richard Donner (Superman, The Goonies), Scrooged is a different type of Christmas film, which is why I like it. The film isn't your traditional warm-hearted or nostalgic holiday film. Scrooged is basically a twisted take on a classic Christmas story. I would recommend this film for audiences with a quirky sense of humor. Others may not enjoy it. It is also interesting to see Bill Murray play a role that is very similar to his characters in the more popular, Groundhog Day.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A Holiday Classic, 27 December 2005

By Manny Castro

The movie-Gods must really love It's a Wonderful Life. This is a film that, upon its inital release, was a flop. It won a Golden Globe for director Frank Capra and received five Oscar nominations, but the public hardly noticed it until about the 1970s. During that time, the film's copyright had expired and stations like PBS could air it at no cost. It slowly began to build an audience and eventually became a beloved classic.

Perhaps the reason for this is because of the film's powerful message. Jimmy Stwart plays George Bailey, a man who spends his entire life devoted to his small town, Bedford Falls. When his life suddenly takes a turn for the worse, he considers suicide. It is up to his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) to stop George by showing him what the lives of the citizens of Bedford would have been like if he had not been born at all.

It's a Wonderful Life is one of the greatest holiday films of all time. In fact, it might even be the best. This is a wonderful film because it allows you time to discover the history of George Bailey's childhood, his romance with Mary (Donna Reed), and why he came to love his fellow townspeople. Director Frank Capra also makes the smart decision of giving many of these townspeople a good amount of screen time, so we as an audience begin to love them too. Or perhaps even hate them in the case of Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), the man who wants to ruin George Bailey. If you haven't seen this film then do so because you will end up falling in love with it.

Potter breaks the mold, 27 December 2005

By Keki Tognetti

"Remarkable, breathtaking, fabulous, two thumps up, best one yet." These are just a few phrases expressed by millions of Harry Potter moviegoers nation wide. I come to find myself on the same boat and completely agreeing with them. On a personal note, I would like to disclose that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is super-calo-frago-listic-espi-ali-docious (meaning it's too brilliant for words to express).

J.K Rowling's fictional characters return this time as fourth year students in Hogwarts School of witch craft and wizardry demonstrating maturity, intelligence, bravery, true friendship, and the affects of teen puberty and raging hormones. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is marvelously directed by Mike Newell, and joined by cast members Daniel Radcliffe who plays the leading role as Harry Potter the boy who lived, Rupert Grint playing Harry's faithful best friend Ron, and Emma Watson the expertise magic-using witch.

The long awaited film graced fans everywhere on Friday, Nov. 18; the waiting lines to get into the movie extended throughout the theatre and out onto the pavement streets, no complaints made by fans though, as they were in an ecstatic mood fixing their cloaks and drawing their thunderbolt scars precisely at the right spot on their forehead.

To no one's surprise the movie made an estimated $101.4 million in its first three days. The film came through with an appealing darker mood that switched the lighthearted tale of a young wizard boy to the angst of young love and defying death challenges. Harry's once again put to the test by his enemies, he comes face to face with Voldemort, while at the same time he is taunted and put through life threatening challenges.

This is truly the best installment in the Harry Potter movie series.

Jarhead (2005)
Oorah! Jarhead a must see, 27 December 2005

By Manny Castro

"Four days, four hours, one minute. That was my war," says Marine Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal). "I never shot my rifle." Jarhead (based on Swofford's 2003 best-selling book) tells the tale of his stint in boot camp and his prolonged and dull duty in Dessert Storm with Sergeant Sykes (Jaime Foxx), Troy (Peter Sarsgaard), and a handful of other colorful characters. The film is great because it's different. Absent are the battle scenes and gore. This is just a tale of a sniper platoon, trained to kill, which gets pushed out of the way by the Air Force. The film is unique, features amazing direction by Sam Mendez (American Beauty) and it's funny too.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
'The end is near,' says Little, 27 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

By Luah Tomas

Chicken Little (voiced by Zach Braff) is the laughing-stock of his town, Oakey Oaks, after saying that a piece of the sky had fallen on his head.

Therefore, in a desperate attempt to prove to his father that he is not a lost cause, Chicken Little joins the school baseball team.

Soon after, the sky begins to fall again, but it isn't the sky--it's aliens. So with his father's approval, Chicken Little gains the confidence to save the town from an alien attack, although the alien attack is a rescue mission gone haywire for bad parenting.

Spoofing pop-culture like the Shrek series, the film deals with school clichés and incorporates popular songs.

It also tries to teach a father-son relationship lesson, like Finding Nemo; this time both of them just need to talk about their feelings, and when they finally do is when things start to work out.

Kids watching the film might not understand some of the adult humor, while grown-ups might get bored with cheesy lines, but it is smart, cute, and fun for the whole family, just like all other recent animated films.

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