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2/10
2 on a scale of 10
7 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
One of the worst movies I've ever seen. Incredibly bad. Let's see if I have this straight.

1) Not funny, so just in case I missed the joke, there was NO joke.

2) The "music" SUCKED!!! Give me Chicago or Fiddler on the Roof or Little Shop of Horrors or Music and Lyrics or a thousand others. This is the worst excuse for music I've ever heard in a movie by a country mile.

3) Almost no likable characters. We can't even like the stars. Even if we did originally, we find out we shouldn't have.

4) Dark, dark, dark, dark, dark.

5) Heavy English accent. Maybe with subtitles, I could have given this a 3, but a 2.00001 is a little more like it.

6) Ridiculously over the top gruesome bloody OJ Simpsonish throat slashings. And, not once or twice - many, many, many times. BORRRRINNGG!!

7) Oh, yum. Mommy, can I have one of those human meat sandwiches with roaches crawling all over them?

The fact that the masses seem to like this unGODLY piece of Tim Burton crap no longer shocks me. You can never go wrong underestimating the intelligence of the average movie goer!

Len

P.S. Did I say the "music" SUCKED?? Cause, just in case I forgot... the "music" SUCKED!
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6/10
6 on a scale of 10
17 June 2007
I simply can't see what all the fuss is about regarding this movie. There have been hundreds of more violent movies. There have been dozens of more magical movies. There have been tens of better war movies.

What's more, there was very little, if any, character development. We were sympathetic to the child, but pretty much couldn't care less about any of the other participants. All of them were disposable.

I don't like subtitles, but I can live with them and decided not to penalize the movie for them. But, given the choice, it's a no-brainer.

The biggest problem with the movie is simple. It's the ketchup and ice cream analogy. Both are good, but they suck together. Here is a war movie with a child who lives in a fantasy world - presumably in order to escape her terrible surroundings. The fantasy was fairly interesting. The war was fairly interesting. Putting both together in the same movie is ketchup and ice cream. It is irrelevant to me that the reason the fantasy even exists is because of the war. The fact is, they don't mesh well in a movie. But, I will admit, that's just my opinion. Someone else may find the exist together just fine.

Len
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Crash (I) (2004)
5/10
5 out of 10
28 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Best picture of the year??? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! It looked like a cross between an angry Spike Lee movie, Falling Down - the angry Michael Douglass on a bias barrage, and a souped up version of NYPD Blue in the gritty city.

First of all, there was NOTHING believable about any of it. Nothing, nada. You cannot tell me a single scene, nor a single story line that had even a hint of believability to it. Every single character in the movie was played WAYYYY over the top. In every case, they would have been obliterated in real-life society LONG before they got to appear in this movie.

Oh, and snow in LA. A mother of dead son spurning her other son. A cop going back into a burning car to save a woman that he knows could "finger" him. And, on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Endless................

The number of coincidences to allow all of them to end up interacting with each other is just plain ludicrous! What are we... 4th graders? Please!!!!!!!!

What also bugged me to no end was the UNBELIEVABLE number of things that happened to all these people in the space of 24 hours. Not only was in completely impossible, but the number of times that it was PAINFULLY impossible ... are too many to count.

If I want to see a movie about racism, I can watch Spike Lee or Falling Down. Either would be a more than worthy substitute for this GROSSLY OVERRATED movie! I give it a 5 out of 10 because except for all that, it wasn't that bad.

Len
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9/10
9 on a scale of 10
24 June 2005
I really liked this movie. We have all seen hundreds of times when journalists go to their editors about a story. Sometimes it seems like half the movies have one of those scenes. Afterall, breaking news is sensational and the more sensation in a movie, the better it is - right? Of course, that was the premise for Shattered Glass. It is the story about a reporter (Stephen Glass) who completely and totally fabricated his stories - mostly for the New Republic. On the one hand, it is a sad commentary on journalism. On the other hand, that which does not kill us makes us stronger. I have little doubt that editors all across the US immediately became a little more diligent in their cross checking of facts.

What makes the movie so special are the performances. Hayden Christensen is brilliant as Glass. He does a great job of appearing completely calm about his web of deceit - even after the lies begin to unravel. At some point, there are so many that any one of us would crawl into a corner in shame, but yet he keeps coming up with more lies to try to cover the old ones - right up to the end.

I thought this was not only a good movie because it deals with a subject that surely must go on a lot, but is rarely brought to light - but also because it is a true story. The reputations of many people who had responsibility for his stories were damaged. The credibility of the magazines involved was undercut. And, journalism, in general, received a major black eye.

Riveting and interesting. Hard to imagine anyone not liking it.
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8/10
8 on a scale of 10
24 April 2005
I like political thrillers and this is one of the better ones. I almost gave it a 9, but just couldn't quite pull the trigger. The movie has an interesting concept - a brand new state of the art Russian sub suddenly goes missing on its way to the US. The US discovers this and has to decide if it is heading to the US to start a war or if the commanders of the sub are attempting to defect.

Most submarine movies are good because they can't devote a movie to special effects or scenery or much of anything except the intensity of the confined environment. We feel attached to that tension because we know that the sub is deep under the sea and everyone's lives could be negatively affected at any moment. The best sub movie of all time, in my opinion, was Das Boot.

I like Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin. As hypothetical antagonists, they only appear together very briefly at the end of the movie. But, both did a good job. Lots of testosterone in this movie. In fact, even the typical female window dressing was absent.

Interesting story, good acting, political thriller. That's a combination that, as long as it doesn't get screwed up, is worth at least an 8. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything magical or special beyond that to make it a great movie - just a good one.
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7/10
7 on a scale of 10
24 April 2005
Nicole Kidman is truly one of the great actresses of our era. I rarely find fault with her performances. Even in this movie she was fine. So was Sean Penn - who is also a great actor. However, with respect to how they played off each other, I thought it was weak. The movie is clearly supposed to be heading toward a bond between the two (we presume emotional), but the chemistry between them is about a 3 on the believability meter.

Having said that, the movie is interesting to watch - especially with the unique backdrop of the United Nations. Lots of suspense. An occasional tense moment. Overall, not too bad a time. But, then I am biased because I like political thrillers much more than the average movie. If not for that, it certainly would not rate above a 6.

The film was WAY too long! It was 2 hours and 8 minutes, but it seemed like it was AT LEAST 2 1/2 hours. This is a common problem with movies nowadays. They could have easily cut out 20 minutes and it would have been much better.

Additionally, there were quite a few implausible elements to the plot - especially near the end - and the plot, itself, was rather muddled at times. I certainly won't remember it for long.
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F/X (1986)
8/10
8 on a scale of 10
12 April 2005
This was close to a 7 vs an 8, but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. And, the single reason why was because it was a new idea.

Like any action movie, there are parts of it that are implausible and probably ridiculous. However, as this movie was predicated upon the good guy being an expert at misdirection, smoke and mirrors and pretend, it was relatively easy to accept many seemingly absurd events. My typical objection is when someone that is a middle manager by day gets in trouble and suddenly figures out how to wire a nuclear bomb. At least as an FX expert, you assume he can do just about anything with special effects.

Consequently, the action was good, the story was fine and the acting was adequate. Personally, I felt that the acting job by Brian Dennehey was exceptionally good and I felt he stole the show.

I would have liked to have seen a little tighter ending. I have NO idea how Brown knew where to go at the end of the movie. I felt that he was making major assumptions when he attacked the guy in the park - how did he know there weren't more of them? I can't imagine he would have hid in the boat store rather than nearby. And, so forth. But, that is par for the action course.

All in all, not bad. Certainly well worth the time on HBO.
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The Last Supper (I) (1995)
7/10
7 on a scale of 10
12 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I do not believe this movie was designed to make any political statements. All the characters and their views are far too shallow for that. I think the goal was one thing and one thing only - the moral of the story. And, to interpret the moral of the story, you have to understand the ending. I think there are several plausible interpretations.

The most obvious is that they got what they deserved. They committed murder and they deserved to pay for it. That's nice and clean and follows the format for a million other movies.

Another option is that they became the very thing they had grown to hate - that being the intolerance of others.

A third option is that they had their chance to kill Hitler, but they were unable to see Hitler in front of their eyes. The point being that the Hitlers of the world survive to commit crimes because people fail to see their evil until it is too late - as it was for them.

A fourth option is that all the extremists in the movie die except for the one person who walks the political fence. The point being that the only way to succeed (or even to have a meaningful message) is to manipulate the audience.

A fifth option is that they weren't "murdered" at all. He couldn't have known the wine was poison. He simply didn't want to take any chances. The point being that if you play with fire, you will get burned. And, in his case, the more perceptive and inquisitive you are, the better your odds of survival.

As to the movie as a whole, it was very average. The acting was generally weak to non existent. However, Ron Perlman was excellent as the lone survivor. A few of the worm feeders were relatively good too. But, ironically (and perhaps not coincidentally) the 5 primary actors sucked. They really did. I honestly wonder if they didn't cast a bunch of weak actors in those roles JUST SO they would show how pathetic their killing rationale was as a balance to the pathetic political rationale of their victims.
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Bugsy (1991)
8/10
8 on a scale of 10
10 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I enjoyed watching this movie. Of course, I like all the actors - not the least of which are Beatty and Benning.

Possible Spoilers: I have a few criticisms. 1) It was too long. It could definitely have been shorter and better. 2) I couldn't identify with why Benning's character went ballistic as often as she did. There was so little provocation when she did and yet, other times, there was so much more reason she should have, but she didn't. That was a glaring inconsistency. 3) I thought the lack of better "hands on" oversight by the mob was not believable. There is simply no way on earth a $1M investment would have ended up costing $6M without every penny being justified. The fact that she made off with $2M is beyond belief. Also, why on earth would they have let her live (if not before), then AFTER they took care of Beatty's character. They would have tortured her to get the money back. 4) How did Beatty get out of the murder wrap?? As I recall, one minute he is in jail with no bail and the next minute he is out prancing around. I may have missed something, but if I did it is the movie's fault because it was too nebulous.

Despite those objections, I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I think the main positive of the movie was that this was a true story about a flamboyant, charismatic, dreamer. And, not just any dreamer, but the person whose SINGLE, unilateral, dream eventually became one of the greatest American success stories of all time. He paid the ultimate price for his dream, but his dream ultimately came true - in fact to a much greater degree than he even imagined.

Typical gangster movie in some ways - not up to the level of the Godfather or Goodfellas or others, but stylish and enjoyable to watch.
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Body Heat (1981)
10/10
10 on a scale of 10
8 April 2005
This movie was brilliant in almost every way possible. After seeing it the fourth time, I finally bumped it from a nine to a ten. The chemistry between Hurt and Turner was sensational. The story was very clever. The twist was surprising.

If you want a suspense thriller where you think you know what is going on, but don't know as much as you thought, this is it.

I had seen it before a couple times, but I hadn't seen it in years. Rarely does a movie interest me as much the second or third time around, but this one did. I started thinking about how the writer was leading us along with little bits of information and how the characters were seeing the same. I know Kasden got the the idea from Double Indemnity, but he did a great job with it. The writing was excellent and I don't compliment the writing very often.

The pacing was precisely what you would expect from a 1940's style movie as this was. The dim lighting, the lack of cool air in the summer, the sound track - especially the sax - all just right.

I can't imagine anyone not liking this movie unless it was just too hot!
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Pi (1998)
7/10
7 on a scale of 10
2 April 2005
I was somewhat disappointed with this movie. I'm a math guy and I simply loved the idea of somehow being able to put the world in order via some equation.

However, this movie really missed the mark. It was far too ambiguous. There is a TV show running right now called NUMB3RS which is highly superior.

I didn't like the fact that everything was black and white. I didn't like the fact that much of it was as though seen through the eyes of someone on LSD. I just wanted a clear vision and story about what magical realization could result from a one in a billion genius stumbling upon an equation that essentially explains it all.

I couldn't appreciate any of the characters. If not for the fact that the premise is potentially great, I would rate it considerably lower.
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Hostage (2005)
9/10
9 on a scale of 10
2 April 2005
I really enjoyed this movie. I hadn't seen an action film - and a Bruce Willis one at that - in quite awhile. Hostage is every bit as good as Die Hard, probably better.

Willis was a little less one dimensional here. He has a family and has to balance that with his job. He has a lot more responsibility than some of his other action flicks. But, there is still the renegade quality which only he can bring to the screen. I like that.

One unique thing about this movie was that Willis is battling not just the bad guys, but the bad guys, but the bad guys times two. In this case you have the punk kids that are maniacs to contend with, but at the same time he has to balance his assault on them with the fact that the white collar bad guys have their own agenda. And, the agenda of one contradicts the agenda of the other - with Willis and several other innocents caught in the middle. Of course, he has to work around the state police and the FBI to make everything work out.

Lots of violence and not just to humans. We get to see one of the coolest houses you will ever see get trashed. That was almost painful, but memorable.

I rarely give an action movie anything as high as a 9, but this is about as good as it gets.
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8/10
8 on a scale of 10
16 January 2005
I liked this movie much better than the average viewer (obviously - as the average is a paltry 5.5). When you have crime thrillers, there are several variables that must come through for it to be a success - not the least of which is the surprise ending. I was surprised about 3 times at the end, so no matter what else I thought about the movie, that carries a lot of weight.

I can't say that I liked every aspect of the ending, but overall it was satisfactory. The movie had a very unique and interesting notion - one that I have not seen in a movie before. It was violent, but not overly so. It was gritty, but had romance. It was cold, but ... Well, there is no "but". The whole movie was in frigid conditions. Not exactly Pearl Harbor.

Affleck was the star along with Sinise and Theron. All were good enough for a movie such as this - where action and suspense rule the day. I want to single out Sinise, however. He was very good as a bad guy - really a good job of acting. I might not have always believed Affleck's character, but I never doubted Sinise's.

All in all, a good movie - and free at that!
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8/10
8 on a scale of 10
23 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This was not far from a 9 rating, but the primary reason I couldn't go with a 9 was that it was just too violent - and not in a sexy way (Godfather or brilliant caper). It was a simple robbery that went bad. However, the story is brilliantly told.

Instead of starting out at the beginning and going chronologically, it meanders back and forth between time lines. The bulk of the movie takes place in about a two hour period immediately after the robbery. The acting was also brilliant. The direction sensational.

I have to comment on Michael Madsen. He was truly evil - one of the more sadistic performances I have ever seen.

SPOILER: Perhaps the most unique thing about the movie was that no one lived. Everyone of them died in the end - some of them at the hands of their own gang. This was a clever and exceptionally well-made film. If you like violence, you might give it a 10. Even if you hate violence, I can't see less than a 7. A real masterpiece. Congratulations to Quentin Tarantino.
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The Candidate (1972)
7/10
7 on a scale of 10
23 October 2004
I like Robert Redford quite a bit as an actor. I especially like him in anything political. His run for senate as a nobody has the makings for a great movie. Great, it wasn't.

I found it entertaining, however, it seemed slow and at times boring. In fact, I wasn't impressed with Redford as much as usual. Most of the rest of the cast was just filler.

One problem I had was that the movie fails to explain in any meaningful way how Redford continues to close the gap to his opponent. Surely good looks isn't going to get you from 32% to over 50%.

Overall, I wouldn't even waste a minute on this movie, but any political movie with Redford as a star has got a big advantage up front. You default to liking it and you only change your mind if there are serious problems. There weren't any serious problems, but I have seen Redford in many better movies - Sneakers, The Natural, All the President's Men, Three Days of the Condor and The Sting, for example.
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7/10
7 on a scale of 10
22 October 2004
I love romantic comedies and Meg Ryan is the best. But, this wasn't one of her bests and not a romantic classic by any means. I liked the time travel element. That certainly gave it some meat. Otherwise, it would have been weak.

Ryan and Hugh Jackman had good chemistry. I actually thought he was the better of the two. I think part of the problem is that Ryan no longer looks like the innocent girl next door that you are rooting for. Well, OK, she looks like that person - just not as much. The fact that she got her lips ballooned up not only doesn't look good, but reminds us continually that she isn't such a young woman anymore. We don't want to be reminded of that!

The story did not flow very well. It seemed choppy. The script wasn't tight. And, her ex-boyfriend (who was good) was mostly wasted. I would have sure liked to have seen more of him. Maybe even a secondary relationship between him and her secretary.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable 2 hours, but I would have liked to see more.
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9/10
9 on a scale of 10
17 October 2004
I went to this movie in 1999 because it won an Oscar. I don't know Shakespeare and don't care - gobbledygook. (I told my friend's kids that he was famous because he invented the Chocolate Shake.) I enjoyed the movie, but I was dealing with major emotional issues literally during the movie and it affected my judgment. What I'm not sure of is whether it made my opinion of the movie stronger or weaker.

For future reference.....It is not a good idea to go see a double story about the greatest unfulfilled loves in the history of storydom WITH the person who you are going through an emotional crisis with! It was a very sad experience, but the movie was excellent.

Besides that, I really had no objection except that it is a period piece - not my favorite genre. It was well acted, looked great and never lagged in interest.
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8/10
8 on a scale of 10
12 October 2004
English: For A Few Dollars More. Typical Clint Eastwood western. This is the middle version of the trilogy. The first is a Fistful of Dollars and the third is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. On par with the FoD, but not quite as good as GBU. I consider GBU to be the best western ever made.

This version ended up being a very good buddy movie. Not a lot of buddy, but the idea that Eastwood and Van Cleef were joined at the hip was an essential part of the plot. They actually worked well together despite never really trusting each other.

Don't ask questions like how do they go to the bathroom, take a bath, brush their teeth or any other minor hygienic detail and you will be fine. Just settle in for some good old killing.
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9/10
9 on a scale of 10
12 October 2004
Otherwise known as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. A true classic. Easily the best western ever made as far as I'm concerned. Of course, any movie with that acclaim would have to include Clint Eastwood as the star.

This was the first full length motion picture I ever went to a movie theater to see. I remember it fondly for that reason alone. I had no way of measuring it at the time, but over the years, I have watched it from time to time and actually like it better each time.

It is explain what makes a western great. Action, obviously. Suspense, obviously. But, GBU has a great plot and it develops the relationships between the adversaries in a most enjoyable way.

Actually, I cannot think of a single thing wrong with it. Except for the fact that it is a western (not my favorite genre), I would give it a 10.
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8/10
8 on a scale of 10
11 October 2004
I really liked this movie simply because Eddie Murphy was in top form. There are few people as funny as he is. Not every movie he is in works, but most do - and this one definitely does.

The thing about Beverly Hills Cop is that it is hard to specifically call it a drama or a comedy. And, it certainly is not a dramedy. Their are plenty of bad guys that get killed, but when it is Eddie Murphy involved, you just can't take it all that seriously. Every time you look at him, you want to smile. And, of course, the movie had lots of funny moments.

The other interesting element to the movie was the fish out of water idea. A black Detroit rule-breaking cop goes to lily white Beverly Hills and intermingles with by-the-book detectives. It almost makes you laugh just thinking about it. It also reminds me of the TV show McCloud where you had a western policeman sent to NY to train. Culture clash movies are usually funny - especially when the fish out of water does a better job than the land people. Of course, Murphy does a better job.

You can't go wrong watching this movie.
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Miracle (2004)
10/10
10 on a scale of 10
10 February 2004
This movie, though better, was similar to Rudy or Hoosiers or Rocky in that it was a sports story of success against incredible odds. I gave those others a 9/10. I've watched thousands of movies and only rated 19 of them as a 10. I'm going to make this only my 20th rating of a 10/10. The reason is because the story is so much more important, so much broader, and the payoff is so much greater than those others. Therefore, it had/has more effect on me directly. The only other sports movie that I gave a 10 to was Field Of Dreams - my all-time #2 movie.

I'm not a hockey fan at all, but it doesn't really matter what the game was. It was the story that was compelling. I can't imagine that I watched the game live in 1980. I don't remember for sure, but I just cannot imagine it. I am pretty sure that I couldn't have cared less. I probably assumed they were going to get the snot beat out of them and, thus didn't watch. Because of this, I don't think I have ever appreciated the full significance of the game.

The movie spends a fair amount of time bringing us up to date through the 70's as to what was going on in the world. The point of that was to try to lay a foundation for the event as well as to essentially lead us to accept that, in a way, this victory marked the first step toward changing the 70's disasters into 80's successes.

But, here is the whole thing for me. Yes, it was interesting and very well done. But, I have to be honest. The last 20 seconds or so of the Russian game literally took my breath away. I actually started to lose my breath. It was so well done that I almost jumped out of my seat and yelled when the buzzer went off. And, believe me, that takes A LOT! In that respect, had I been a fan of the sport (NOT) and would have been watching during the game in 1980, I would have probably gone insanely wild at the end of that game. It was something incredibly special and the movie did a great job of building the suspense and making it real.

"Do you believe in miracles?" is the greatest sports line in history and now I really understand why.

Also, I just have to say - Russell was fantastic.
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Identity (2003)
8/10
8 on a scale of 10
30 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Very good suspense thriller. It would have been good even if it had not had the twists in it that it had. We get the idea very early on that there is more to the movie than just a bunch of travelers trapped in a storm at a motel in the middle of nowhere. They begin dying, but we know there is something odd going on that we can't put our finger on. Of course, we can't guess it. Who could? But, we are intrigued as a few of the early scenes go backward in time - making us realize we there is something to this time line issue. We also (if we were smart enough) might figure out that much of this takes place..

SPOILER

in someone's mind. Or does it? Even to the end, we are not completely sure. It is clever and unique. I liked it a lot. I only didn't give it a 9 because I watched two movies tonight and gave the other one a 9 already and I'm thinking that I am being too generous.

But, when you compare it to the average slasher movie, there really is no comparison. This is an excellent suspense thriller with a major twist.
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9/10
9 on a scale of 10
30 January 2004
I really have no complaints about this movie. I had been wanting to see it for quite awhile and finally rented it on CD. I liked it at least as well as the others. Probably more. I've been in the mood for action lately. Action starved. Too many Beaches movies. And, this movie has action. In fact, I remember several times thinking that I couldn't look away even for a moment afraid of what I would miss. That's the definition of action in my book.

Unlike a lot of action movies, it wasn't just mindless mayhem. Each individual scene had a point --- in addition to the mindless mayhem. I even liked the plot quite a bit. Logical. And, I love movies that mess with the time line as long as it makes sense.

The other nice thing about T-3 is that it set us up for T-4, T-5, etc. I don't know exactly how Arnold is going to do it since by the time he gets out of politics, he won't look anywhere near as chiseled and it will be hard to believe he is the best the robots have to offer. I would still like to see him have a role, but since robots don't age, it might be tough.

All in all, excellent mayhem of the first-rate mindless variety.
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9/10
9 on a scale of 10
8 November 2003
I liked this version of Matrix better than the original, though I know that is the exception. In my opinion the action sequences were stunning - in fact the best I have ever seen in any movie. They just keep taking it to the next level

Though the action was also corny, it was amazing to see what they can accomplish in cyberspace. Frankly, I loved the scene where NEO fights about 50 of the bad guys. Ludicrous? Yes. But, entertaining? A much bigger yes.

Did I understand all of the plot? No way. But, at the same time, I'm not sure I needed to. This is about a big picture story of machines versus man. I can understand that and that's all that matters.

I am anxiously awaiting volume III. Fortunately, I waited until II was out on tape before I saw it, so I can see III anytime without losing too much to memory.

If you like pure, raw action you will like this movie. It would probably help to see the first version before this one, but I'm not so sure it matters.
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7/10
7 on a scale of 10
13 September 2003
The positives of this movie are that it has a somewhat unique premise and it held my attention relatively well. And, I thought the acting was good. Allison Lohman was especially good and Nicholas Cage did a fine job.

But, any movie that "only" gets a 7 has some problems. First of all it was too long. It could have, and would have, been a better movie if they had cut 20 minutes out of it.

Secondly, there were just a few too many holes in the twist. Yes, there is a twist and I won't spoil it. But, I didn't think it was handled all that well.

Thirdly, I have no problem with Nicholas Cage, but I can say without question that I have never seen a movie (and I've seen thousands) where every single scene in the movie had the same person in it. Yes, he is in EVERY scene. There are probably 50 scenes and he's in every single one! In retrospect, it is consistent with twist, but frankly, after 2 hours of seeing Cage in every scene with his emotional problems was just too much. He is fine co-starring in a movie where he acts normal, but you better be prepared to get overdosed with him if you are going to go see this movie.

Otherwise, not bad. Not great. Probably not worth the time and money, but not a total waste either
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