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Spider-Man 2 (2004)
No disappointing summer made this flick as great as in every way it is.
2 August 2005
If there is a list of ways you don't expect the sequel to an $800mil-grossing action-fantasy to start, then right up there near the top, perhaps around second or first, is seeing a superhero on pizza delivery. But after a brief reminder about Pete's crush and a heads-up that MJ didn't at the conclusion of the previous movie catch on to his dual identity crisis, that's exactly what we see. A bystander watches Parker disappear off into a sidestreet, pizzas in hand, and a moment later Spider-man emerges from the same alley with the same pizzas. The bystander's conclusion? "Hey! He stole that guy's pizza!" The writing team are tipping their hat to the ground rule that once again no one will ever realise that Clark Kent and Superman are never in the same room at once. For the brief moments with Spidey swinging up there among the rooftops again we'll wonder if that was what we enjoyed most the first time.

But then minutes later we're back in the cozy still-60s office of J. Jonah Jameson and the laughs are once again coming thick and fast. His secretary ducks in. "Jonah, your wife's on line one, she says she lost your credit card." Jonah booms gleefully back: "Thanks for the good news!" Pete's soon arguing for more cash, saying things are tough at the moment. "Awww," Jonah replies with mock concern. "Miss Brant," he bellows out to his secretary, who immediately ducks in looking expectant: "get me a violin!" We think no. Maybe this was what we enjoyed most the first time.

But soon Pete's entering the door of his old home. "Surprise!" come three voices in unison. The smiling faces of Harry, MJ and Aunt May are there. It's a major nostalgiac high, seeing them all again. MJ is dressed like a grownup now and Rosemary Harris has lost none of her charm. Harry has grown roughly three feet. The sullen, troubled youth is gone and we're beholding what looks like an action hero or a rock star. The clouds darken soon after as the tragedies of Uncle Ben and Norman Osborne are re-affirmed, both of these best friend's having lost a father. Especially with his remaining unrequited love for MJ still hanging over him, Spider-man is preventing Pete from being true in any of the most important relationships in his life. A whole movie of development awaits!!! Nope. Sorry Jonah, I wanna stay here for a while. Don't take it too hard if you find yourself feeling like that for the rest of the movie. The weirdest thing about being hooked within 15 minutes is that there isn't even a villain yet. But that soon enough… Apparently with part 1 they had tried to include the ambivalent scraper-scaling vixen Black Cat but discovered that they had so much story to get through with Goblin. With part 2 they tried the same thing. Doc Ock was slated as the ideal follow-up villain and once again they were going to get out the black lycra and bon bons but, you guessed it, again, too much story. Spidey 2 is a solid two hours. It's clear very early on that this movie is going to be both very busy and very entertaining for every second of that. You could say another tragic, science-gone-wrong villain was a safety measure but as Arad says, that personal connection Pete has with all of his enemy's is invaluable. There was little time for delay in the first flick but this time we get to explore these relationships and enjoy about 5 parts drama to 1 part action. That's the dynamite of this caper. Some of the set-pieces though are: a classic bank-robbery scene, enough wall-clinging acrobatics and punch-ups, a elevated train Spidey-Ock fight sequence, a token street-crime foiling or two and a classic emergence scene for the eight-limbed Doc Ock. A thought is that we may have just farewelled the best Spidey-villain yet, but by the end of the movie we're only anticipating the third chapter a whole lot more, though many might be a little ashamed for having survived all those years of Jane Austin and the soaps only to fall hard for this ensemble.

With so much current fan-focus regarding Spidey 3 being on what villains it'll have, the true delight will be remembering on that grand day that the best moments of part 2 were the final ones, and they didn't involve a fight or a foe. Telling, could it be, that they signed Elizabeth "Peggy Brant" Banks on so soon? Hopefully 3 will raise the bar yet again in drama, taking Pete to brand new places and not fumble in delivering generously on part II's numerous establishments and potentials. Given my choice I wouldn't have brought Venom into the first trilogy. To begin with he's a completely different universe, but more importantly he was part of a whole saga (minus the planet) without which he might hardly be Venom. The fact that he's a big enough crucible to justify an entire movie standalone would indeed make him a useful pillar in a movie that was very busy otherwise, but it would also make him a wasted potential (great choice of actor if word is right though - making the journalist convincing and interesting is more important than the demon – Rock and Diesel would have been bad ideas). It sounds like Manwolf is in too, certainly they'll need John to get Venom anyway. But how are they meant to carry Pete & MJ, Harry's tormented rise, John Jameson's affliction and the Eddie Brock backstory all in one movie? It shouldn't feel like a constant onslaught of developments like a certain recent third-chapter sci-fi. Space is premium is Spider-man flicks and the movie has to retain itself. They've established great drama as the attraction. I'm glad they wanted to take their time nutting this one out, but latest evidence indicates no limit to their capability.
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Batman Begins (2005)
Hattrick.
20 July 2005
You could take that to mean the original two Batman flicks and Begins but I'm certainly talking about the 3 comic book-film sagas that have actually made it above water. 'Catwoman's, 'Punisher's, controversial 'Hulk's, etc give comic book movies a bad name justly or unjustly. 'Blade's, 'Hellboy's and 'Sin City's can subsist for costing less but the big, trans-labelled three are X-Men, Spider-man and Batman. If Superman Returns and The Flash make it next year then it'll be good to have DC back in the light for the Marvel era. RIP the Superman-Batman DC age, 1978 to 1997.

I've changed my position on the original 4 Batmans since seeing Begins. Batman has to be dark, not an MTV merchandising hub. Keaton getting battered and tossed by villains is frustrating, there's the height question to irritate, but I like the darkness, laughs, noir, score, sadistic edge and tragic overtones of Burton that polarize it from otherwise rainbow superheroes. Batman Forever; interesting story, the best Batman portrayer, though unfortunate that Kilmer didn't put on enough muscle for the role, good score, animated performances. It holds up unto itself, but not alongside the others and especially Begins. Where is the credibility in two athletic young bachelor billionaires each scarred by an early family-loss co-existing in the tabloids with two gadget-rife, turbo-powered, militarily-vehicle, thug-slugging city avengers, one barely even under a mask, bearing remarkable resemblance? Robin out. Skip to Drake and Nightwing if totally necessary. Begins is realism.

So Batman Begins didn't exactly wow with its gross, but that was completely predictable. Already the most enduring and arguably biggest comic book movie series, a lot of territory was covered and much of the Batman urgency was spent. Any fallout from the protested part 4, an agreeable renter but no challenge to its predecessors. The appropriate seriousness, subdued tones and discretion of the Begins trailer, not a kiddie puller and heeding to pre-suppositions. Probably above all, there was no popular villains. Scarecrow, though one of the originals, was a lurch from obscurity for the masses – those popularised in the 60s TV show that gave Batman such an edge with modern audiences were Burton or Schumackered. Lastly, there was the shot of that Bat-mask. People were never going to flock to see a mortal in blocky rubber as they had before Spider-man, Xavier's troop and all the rest of the super-powered lot had swung. At first. Initially, it was going to feel like a step back on some level.

But that is the transcendental beauty of Batman Begins and Batman: the superhero that isn't super. He wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider, he was never hit by gamma or radiation, he never left the earth's surface. What he did was don the guise of the bat and struggle manfully against organised crime and equally scarred maniacs for love of a city that had plagued the world's nightmares since metropolises first began springing up. Every thud, every leap, every drop of blood was that of a man no more super than any of us. The mask was what was truly fantastical, an overpass to power, mystery and unrelenting justice. On one side of it was a dark and fearful legend, unnatural in the word of folk. On the other was a face from high society. The cave, the car, the hook, the belt, the batarang, were Batman's super powers; what made him a one-man army where the masses that a dark metropolis could throw at his lone cause might have overwhelmed. Bruce's journey to the point of that transformation is the excitement in precisely the same way his troubles retaining his sanity and humanity beneath the mantle are afterward.

Begins signals his Detective Comics age, where a bit more sunlight is allowable with his movement in the real world. At the height of population there was the entire team of Batman, Robin, Alfred, Gordon, Nightwing, Oracle, Catwoman, Batman understudy Jean Paul/Azrael and others all fighting a global cause. After such a dense and exciting first chapter establishing Batman the hard work is done and we haven't even got to the real fun yet. Do I hear a green-haired maniac's demonic cackle? Bane awaits. It may not have 'Spider-man'-ed or even 'X-Men'-ed at the box office but they'd be idiots not to think they're sitting on a Matrix Reloaded opening with part two (and no more of that legacy). Shame about Holmes, her presence was welcome, the performance was solid, and I don't want this to be the beginning of yet another infuriating Bond tradition of changing women every movie. Fisher taking up the same role is one of the first things we'll forget about once we're watching a solid sequel, but otherwise, coming up with a satisfactory way to write Dawes out is the first hurdle. And in case they're wondering, yes, a certain brain-damaged horse rider does return in part II.

NO TEAMUPS! The biggest fun is ahead. What we're dealing with is the clash of a psychotic shrink with the city's deadliest nutter. I don't want, and I suspect many second the motion, another wussy villain team-up in part 2, or a sidedish baddie. Joker is the villain intent on pushing Batman as close to the edge as possible, and he'll do anything to stop someone killing Batman because that would ruin his fun and his whole cause for being. The movie that it can be at best with yet another dark alliance isn't half what a three-way powerplay can be. Dynamite. NO TEAMUPS! Like the X-Mens and the superb Spider-man 2 they have left a number of threads to take up in the sequel. In Begins they don't get to explore the duality of Bruce Wayne and Batman, where one ends and the other begins. Joker is the tool invented for that very purpose. Great work.
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Van Helsing (2004)
You know, from the point of view of 2003, 2004 looked like a historical year didn't it?
17 May 2004
I mean we had Brad Pitt in the Trojan War, we had the Mummy Man pitching the genius concept of a Hammer "Versus" revival, we had Ridley Scott going all epic on us again(!!!), and this is of course excepting the showstopper and king, Spider-man making a victory lap. How will Scott do? Troy I can tell you is great, the Spidey trailer couldn't look better…Van Helsing sucks.

Tell me honestly that you weren't drooling when he pitched the idea? Come on: Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man versus an IndyJ. revision of the first (and coolest sounding) Vampire hunter? Alas it's an affront to logic but Sommers took exactly the same approach with Van Helsing as he did with Mummy 2. What's wrong then, you ask? Better question. Where to start?

Firstly, check the cast list Sommers, Brendan Fraser isn't in this one. Without his irresistible goofy wit the one-liners will flatten. And without his reliable gung-ho, love for the hero is also sliced in half. Without Oded Fehr to back him up there's no co-adventurer we'll swear allegiance to. Without the hot-as-hell AND adorable Rachel Wiesz there's no heroin we feel aloud to love from afar. Johnathan and Beni? Without them what do we have to chuckle at.

The second I saw that early concept art of Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man I thought Sommers DID know what to do. He was goth-ing it up, I was prepared to sacrifice the humour because I knew it just couldn't sit. I thought Van Helsing would be a clashing of myths. You can't Nintendo it all up and make these beasties as commonplace as vermin! These characters existed before they existed, every culture knows em, passed down over centuries. They could have chopped that $180mil in half, and put a few hundred grand into a powerplay story that we actually wanted to watch.

I cant believe he actually dared to use the same junk that not only every other adventure movie used but that his own leading man lived off. Come on, forgotten pasts, dark secrets, soulful quests blah! Thats not only Wolverine and the Mummy movies it's the entire genre! We've had way too much of that already! And sexy as Beckinsale is she cant be both the quest and the love interest and fellow-adventurer and victim etc, thats just absurdly bland.

And Dracula! Uh boy. As big a fan as I am of Ozzie actors penetrating Hollywood I'm afraid my countryman was miscast. Dracula HAS to be VERY tall and VERY menacing. Oldman was a stupid choice and so was Roxburgh.

He cribbed from Godzilla!!! I mean for goodness sake, there are some movies you just don't touch! Rather than grand-scale it all up he should have put some quality time into the character that the entire "franchise" depended on!

Likely, Jackman is still looking for that much touted Indiana Jones to succeed his Han Solo (Wolverine), but my greatest fear is that this will be the finishing attempt at resurrecting the Vampire King. Please, please no.
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Van Helsing (2004)
You know, from the point of view of 2003, 2004 looked like a historical year didn't it?
15 May 2004
I mean we had Brad Pitt in the Trojan War, we had the Mummy Man pitching the genius concept of a Hammer "Versus" revival, we had Ridley Scott going all epic on us again(!!!), and this is of course excepting the showstopper and king, Spider-man making a victory lap. Well Troy I can tell you is great but Van Helsing sucks. How will Scott do?

Tell me honestly that you weren't drooling when he pitched the idea? Come on, Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man versus a gizmo-ed cross-wielding revision of the first (and coolest sounding) Vampire Hunter? And writer-director Sommers sounded like the man for the job didn't he? In our post-Mummy glow we assumed he knew what to do with it. Alas however it's an affront to logic but Sommers took exactly the same approach with Van Helsing as he did with Mummy 2. But Mummy 2 was pretty good wasn't it, so whats wrong this time? Dear me, where to start?

Firstly, check the cast list Sommers, Brendan Fraser isn't in this one. Without his irresistible goofy wit the one-liners are going to flatten right out. Without his reliable gung-ho approach to everything complimenting that wit, love for the hero is also sliced in half. Without Oded Fehr to back him up there's no co-adventurer we'll swear allegiance to. Without the adorable and hot-as-hell Rachel Wiesz there's no heroin we feel aloud to love from afar. And we can't forget Johnathan and Beni, without them what do we have to chuckle at? What did Van Helsing need?

Well the second I saw that early concept art of Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man I thought Sommers DID know what to do. He was goth-ing it up, I was prepared to sacrifice the humour because I knew it just couldn't sit. I thought Van Helsing would be a convergence of Myths(capital 'M' intended). You can't Nintendo it all up and make these beasties as commonplace as vermin. They should have delved into the Myst-rigue inherent and used the sheer value of these legendary characters to come up with a story that we wanted to watch. They could have chopped that $180mil in half, and put a few hundred grand into a power play that actually interested us on a cerebral level. So lastly, what does the movie have?

I cant believe he actually dared to use the same junk that not only every other adventure movie used but that his own leading man lived off. Come on, forgotten pasts, dark secrets, soulful quests thats not only Wolverine its the Mummy movies and its wanderer mentality which comes into nearly everything. We've had way too much of that already, he should have given it a miss. Sexy as Beckinsale is she cant be both the quest and the love interest and fellow-adventurer and the victim etc, thats just absurdly uninteresting. And Dracula, oh boy. As big a fan as I am of Ozzie actors penetrating Hollywood I'm afraid my countryman was miscast. Dracula HAS to be very tall and very menacing. We should feel as we did in 1898 when John Harker first encoundered this forgotten King who transcended centuries and fought historical battles (Vlad the Impaler). We should feel like a child that needs permission to leave their bedroom before him. Oldman was a stupid choice in 1990 for the "faithful" adaptation and so was Roxburgh. Short of suggesting who he should have cast I'll leave it at that.

And he cribbed from Godzilla!! I mean for goodness sake, there are some movies that should be completely off-limits for theft, out of pure common decency and what of all the $180mil flops of last 10 decades would top the list? Sommers tried to elevate the events of the movie to transcend Transylvania. He should have instead dwelled on the character that the entire "franchise" depended on.

Listen this could go on for pages but it doesn't need to. Here's hoping that the movie makes enough to warrant a sequel in which they might (but likely cant) improve things. Otherwise, and likely, Jackman is still looking for that much touted Indiana Jones to succeed his Han Solo (Wolverine), but my greatest fear is that this will be the finishing attempt at resurrecting the Vampire King. Please, please no.
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Van Helsing (2004)
"Orlando Bloom, you should not be aloud to act. Legally." Why cant gut-pain hilarious stuff like that make it onto a poster?
11 May 2004
You know, from the point of view of 2003, 2004 looked like a historical year didn't it? I mean we had Brad Pitt in the Trojan War, we had the Mummy Man pitching the genius concept of a Hammer "Versus" revival, we had Ridley Scott going all epic on us again(!!!), we had a Gary Oldman Harry Potter movie and we had the curious idea of a Shrek sequel (so absurdly inappropriate we could only assume they had an ace up there sleeve) but this is ofcourse excepting the showstopper and king, Spider-man making a victory lap. What happened?

Lets hope Ridley gets the first good performance out of Orlando and lets hope Harry Potter and Spider-man 2 are as kick-ass as the trailers make out cause early word on Troy is potent, the Shrek sequel sounds like a phony they dont wanna release at all, the Spider-man 2 trailer gives me no reason not to be excited yet they've withdrawn it from competition, and Van Helsing sucks.

Tell me honestly that you weren't drooling when he pitched the idea? Come on, Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man versus a gizmo-ed cross-wielding revision of the first (and coolest sounding) Vampire Hunter? And writer-director Sommers sounded like the man for the job didn't he? In our post-Mummy glow we assumed he knew what to do with it. Alas however it's an affront to logic but Sommers took exactly the same approach with Van Helsing as he did with Mummy 2. But Mummy 2 was pretty good wasn't it, so whats wrong this time? Dear me, where to start?

Firstly, check the cast list Sommers, Brendan Fraser isn't in this one. Without his irresistable goofy wit the one-liners are going to flatten right out. Without his reliable gung-ho approach to everything complimenting that wit, love for the hero is also sliced in half. Without 'it-man' Oded Fehr to back him up there's no co-adventurer we'll swear alliegence to. Without the adorable and hot-as-hell Rachel Wiesz there's no heroin we empathise with and feel aloud to love from afar. And we can't forget Johnathan and Beni, without them what do we have to chuckle at? Who does the hero look all the better beside? What did Van Helsing need?

Well the second I saw that early concept art of Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man I thought Sommers DID know what to do. He was goth-ing it up, I was prepared to sacrifice the humour because I knew it just couldn't sit. I thought Van Helsing would be a convergence of Myths(capital 'M' intended). You can't nintendo it all up and make these beasties as commonplace as vermin. They should have delved into the Myst-rigue inherent and used the sheer value of these legendary characters to come up with a story that we wanted to watch. They could have chopped that $180mil in half, and put a few hundred grand into a powerplay that actually interested us on a cerebral level. So lastly, what does the movie have?

I cant believe he actually dared to use the same junk that not only every other adventure movie used but that his own leading man lived off. Come on, forgotten pasts, dark secrets, soulful quests thats not only Wolverine its the Mummy movies and its wanderer mentality which comes into nearly everything. We've had way too much of that already, he should have given it a miss. Sexy as Beckinsale is she cant be both the quest and the love interest and fellow-adventurer and the victim etc, thats just absurdly uninteresting. And Dracula, oh boy. As big a fan as I am of Ozzie actors penetrating Hollywood I'm afraid my countryman was miscast. Dracula HAS to be very tall and very menacing. We should feel as we did in 1898 when John Harker first encoundered this fogotten King who transcended centuries and fought historical battles (Vlad the Impaler). We should feel like a child that needs permission to leave their bedroom before him. Oldman was a stupid choice in 1990 for the "faithful" adaptation and so was Roxburgh. Short of suggesting who he should have cast I'll leave it at that.

And he cribbed from Godzilla!! I mean for goodness sake, there are some movies that should be completely off-limits for theft, out of pure common decency and what of all the $180mil flops of last 10 decades would top the list? Sommers tried to elevate the events of the movie to transcend Transylvania. He should have instead dwelled on the character that the entire "franchise" depended on.

Listen this could go on for pages but it doesn't need to. Here's hoping that the movie makes enough to warrant a sequel in which they might (but likely cant) improve things. Otherwise, and likely, Jackman is still looking for that much touted Indiana Jones to succeed his Han Solo (Wolverine), but my greatest fear is that this will be the finishing attempt at resurecting the Vampire King. Please, please no.
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More 'Empire Strikes Back' than 'The Two Towers'.
18 June 2003
I saw this movie time 1. It washed over me and its two-tone look did not pack the razzle dazzle of X2 or Spider-man. I saw this time 2 and I realised the problem. Reloaded and Revolutions (the latter unseen) feel like one movie chopped in half. Expectation is its bane. Never in the Wachow-bros' media history (two quotations so far) have they claimed to be publishing a religious or philosophical gospel for the techno age in The Matrix trilogy. Critics and cultics have done all the talking for them, no doubt to the writers' regret.

The ingenious thing about Reloaded is that the two brothers have not retreated further into the boundaries that they set up in the first one. Instead they have burst from them and at the two-thirds mark in the saga we are again wondering where the hell the next part will take us; in a good way. Their biggest achievement is making the audience member both wonder about the ongoing tale and care enough to find out. I always knew it lacked the kiddie appeal to beat Attack of the Clones in america, I was wrong about overseas but in the quality court it is the winner. Clones bores at numerous points and in the end offers no reward, Reloaded leaves many threads to be tied off in Revolutions. Agent Smith, Bane, and the grim future for Zion (the free humans) which seems unavoidable. And they tease the crap out of us with 'The Kid' who features in The Animatrix. What the hell is his story?

The Animatrix comes highly recomended if you've seen this movie. But it wont spoil much if you havn't. Either way it expands the universe for you and gives answers that you may have been waiting on. But whatever the verdict on Reloaded, I guaruntee you its not what you expect. The Zion party is the simplest way of demonstrating the human spirit's worth even in the most dismal of circumstances.

They have kept the sophistication of Part 1 and start to answer the question posed that may not have occurred to you before-hand. If Neo has all these fantasic abilities within the Matrix, what good does it do him in the real world? The oracle returns breifly to again direct him on his path. There is more fights as anyone with eyes would know but to my disappointment the Agent Smith battle royal comes early in the movie and alas they had nothing up their sleave to raise the bar in the climax. There are some novelty's that they tease us with like Vampires and Werewolves but those confrontations come in the second act and dont really get much air.

I'm now primed for 'Finding Nemo' and Joel Silver (Matrix Producer) may have to eat his words; ("nobody can compete with us") Until Nemo came along though he appeared dead right. But you can quote me on this, The Hulk and Terminator 3 will not be competing in the $270 millions range which the summer gold medal will call for. They will be lucky to beat X2.

If you liked the first Matrix enough to be strung along for another 5 months or so then Reloaded will do you good. Still, I will own the trilogy on DVD come summer next year. Moderate your expectation and wonder before watching 'the new matrix movie' what they can thrill you with and what would be incongruous to part I. Great stuff! Go see!
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Special Extended DVD Edition.
24 November 2002
The majority of my previous review covers the goods about this movie. It wreaks of ALOT of money very well spent, but also tells of a genuine understanding of what draws an audience into a movie. It remains the quintessential Adventure tale. I recap often on the prologue battle, the party, the Weathertop Nazgul biffo, Balins Tomb, the Bridge of Khazad Dum, and The Departure of Boromir and Anything Isenguard or Mordor. Full length I have seen the theatrical version 5 times at cinema, and more than 3 on DVD.

Extended Edition.

Four Discs all up. 2 for the movie and two for the Extras. One does not need to think of this movie as an alternate version, I do not. It can be seen as an alternative to a 'Deleted Scenes' option. While some extensions seem indispensible, some are jarring and unnecessary. To point examples, the Marshes chapter on Disc 1 with Aragorn and Frodo's exchange is great. The Statue of Aragorns mother scene is also a nice little expansion. But I really do prefer the theatrical versions' Shire sequence. The cut straight out of battles and woeful tidings and the rings damnation of Smeagol to a shot of our good looking young Hobbit hero in brilliant green pastures meeting with Gandalf works far better than a lengthy voiceover with footage, some funny some not quite so, of Hobbits in daily life. Likewise the Extension of "The Council of Elrond" is a bit unsettling. It is something that features in the book but Gandalfs outburst is prompted better on page, it just seems un called-for in the movie. The extensions to all of the Moria territory (4 chapters) is interesting, though I did not appreciate the mention or pronunciation of "Smeagol" (Smee-Gol).

For people who have read the book, it is recomendable. For people who only enjoyed the initial version on a so-so level, it may test the faith somewhat. For people who found the initial cut interminable and uninteresting, this will prove torturous.

Also, the fact that there is no handicap options (subtitles, re-dubs etc.) for the theatrical cut means that this inferior version is the only way for disabled readers or watchers to appreciate the movie (I am not 100% sure that this package has them either, I have not checked conclusively).

The special features, well think of it like this. Thier intent was to convey as much behind the scenes info as possible to the public. And so, two discs (The Appendices) take you through it step by step. A Doco about the Author, followed by 4 more Doco's on Disc 1. Reasonably informative yes. Then try to envisage 25 Headings like, The Fellowship, Saruman, Bilbo, Sauron etc each with dozens of images, photo/sketch/painting on the singular topic. They include some Animatics(computer mockups of a scene), storyboards, the scenes and comparisons for the two. That is only a crude breakdown of Disc 1's contents, much more awaits a viewer.

Without trying to convey it all to you here, a wealth of knowledge, well presented, lies in the package. Alas we also have no commentary's for the shorter version meaning more than 2 hours of extra commentary time (over 4 commentary's) to labour through. But I have to admit, it feels like the commentary option was designed for this movie. This is definitely something even a Die Hard would have to OWN. It puts the Spider-man package to shame and indeed every other comparable package (Pearl Harbour) that has come before it. Here is definitely a great movie (reduced to good) with an excellent extras deal.

Movie A-

Extras A++
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Some definite laughs to be had.
9 November 2002
But they are some very cheaply bought ones. Who would not laugh when they see the most expensive actor in the world playing a trashy spoof icon? Myers and ###### are two sides of one coin. It rips a chunk out of Get Shorty (Devito again contributing) and recycles most of the gags from the two previous movies, showing obvious contempt for its audience(And no, we don't laugh the third or fourth time). Miss Spears is a welcome appearance, being such a...talented girl. The jokes in these movies are really laughed at because laughing is our only option, we are surprised that anyone would make a two hour feature out of such pathetic humour.

There is no definable plot, he has drawn on the profound, though not original idea of simply putting together some character-based ideas. Goldmember has no cause for being there aside from justifying the title. Foxy Cleopatra likewise simply adds a name to the movie, she has nothing to do(Dont believe me? watch very closely when it comes on overnight-rent or falls into your lap).

Its definitely the most audacious yet though; the humour in this is completely gross-out. They explore the idea of mini-me for multiple 'me's in the movie, it may sound funny but believe me, its all the idea, when you actually watch it it's not really funny(as with most of the describable jokes). The same with Michael Caine for that matter, one would think that his presence could steal the show and save the movie but no, Myers keeps him firmly on the bench, he has very little to do.

Mini-me was a revered personality in 2, his silence gave to the character, his interest is comprehensibly destroyed in this movie. The original had some wit about spoofing Bond, the sequel was hilarious for getting chummy with Star Wars. Part III? Nothing in particular, thats what makes it so forgetable. Its just retreads of the previous two.

So in short, it opens with a bang of hilarity but chuckles afterward can be counted on two hands, being so frontloaded destroys the experience. Honest to goodness, its not like seeing a movie that disappointed you but you nevertheless took something away from. I heard about the actor and director of the movie within this movie and Michael Caine and I thought I was in for a treat. I was beating myself up for ages afterward, I payed MONEY for THAT! But the $215 mil does not surprise me, M:I2 did the same and Harry Potter made much more after all. Alot of Americans have some serious issues.
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Some over-used devices (a B-Horror vet director) cant entirely trample some good drama.
11 September 2002
No comments that I have read give kudos to Leo for what really is a very memorably if not in-all demanding performance. Its an image that slides right into familiarity; a lean, blond, good looking kid mouthing off and drawing down on guys many times his age, think James Dean, River Phoenix etc. 'The Kid' is far removed however from Jack Dawson or Romeo.(he could almost be Stones son to look at the two of them!)

'Spider-man', predictably, was the first Sam Raimi movie I caught. 'Evil Dead II' came second, a conscious decision, and I did not even realise until opening credits that this was to be No. 3. The gags, occasionally gross or simply used to excess get in the way of some undeniably effective drama. Raimi was still in his experimentation phase, as can be easily seen. With B horror classics saturating his career he obviously lost it a bit when the budget and calibre, and consequently expectation was raised. Hackman is as believable in this 'Unforgiven'-ish performance as in comedy roles, 'Get Shorty' his best that I know of.

Much like Van Damme's 'The Quest' this cuts it back to exactly what the audience wants to see, fights, fights and, well...fights. There is no definable plot and the location hardly varies. Beneath that we have a schmorgasboard of western stereotypes. Its a club-project for vets, formerly unknowns and one-offees. Remember Bishop from 'Aliens' the droid that ends up half what he should be? Well he has a rather unpleasant piece of this action as well. The old Snow-Shoveler from Home Alone drops by too. As you will know, Rusty Cheerful with no Oscar to Crowe about, post-'Romper Stomper' and pre-'L.A. Confidential' (his breakout) contributes, as none other than a Preacher in this, well probably the only calibre of preacher Russel could ever be. Stone peaked with 'Fatal Attraction', this movie is one of the proverbial 'others'. She is hardly astounding, and basically the performance is a recap of hers in "The Professional". Her looks also dont sit with the character.

It also feels like an experimentation with unpleasantness in the genre. It actually works better for that than Silverado and despite 'Unforgiven' having some mood to it, even it doesn't have as much impact (Best Picture?!?!) A few key moments will turn your gut with no excess of gore. Leo steals the show. He'll tear your heart out with just a few minutes of his screen time. There is something inherently dynamic between him and Hackman. Not much comes across from the relationship between Russel and Hackman, but something nevertheless. The draw-downs are thrilling, and the characters (and performances) are what keep us interested. One of those movies that doesn't blow you away but does prove memorable.

Effective and entertaining? Very definitely. Unforgetable high art? now be fair!

Watch it if you enjoyed

7/10
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This thing is no improvement over Menace.
20 August 2002
Last time the promotional campaign for Menace was virtually free, I need not say why. Despite some wow-full returns many lost faith and were aghast that they could have been such sheep.

But the money-men had another card to play, and play it they did. A masterful teaser trailer that inspired a huge degree of intrigue. "It's all Obi Wan's fault - He's holding me BACK!" The teen audience they were targeting I have no doubt bought the Darth Vader as a brash and furious young Jedi Knight discovering great abilities in himself and romping with a gorgeous career and warrior-chick, but that is not the card I'm talking about. Word was "leaked", like hell, that the new movie was a return to form, and for the most part McGregor was on side making Menace the fall-guy so that Clones could be the must-see rave of both critics and audiences alike. A script reviewer and a critic or two and some focus groups all gave it the thumbs up, but when my idol Steven Spielberg also enthused about the action phase of the new trilogy I took it for granted that Clones would deliver, the promise of Yoda going a round also was a pivot point.

AND WHAT!!!! The love story in Clones is devoid of romance, the love dialogue is appalingly amateurish, and the score, which made Titanic's hug-n-kissing soar is pretty flat for this movie. You don't really care if they care and most of the time your cringing about Hayden's ill-moments. The pivotal scene of the movie is ruined because Lucas obviously had no idea how to handle it and Hayden was not up to the task. He's tried to get a bit too poetic about the Vader transformation, it's lead him into strange territory. The climactic duel does not compare to Menace's score-driven ride. No intriguing teen ground is covered, the story may hold through and does feel a bit Saturday-serialish but is mostly just extremely busy. Jango Fett may have a larger role but he does not hold a candle to the late Mr. Maul. There was not much dueling in any of the originals compared to Menace, doing the same here was a mistake. The jab-swish romp feels like it is over before it starts, you'll cheer Yoda but afterwards you'll remember the rest of the movie.

Lee is good (is he ever not) but his scenes are not well written and the story so imperfectly transferred to screenplay. Co-Screenwriter Jonathan Hales (who did likewise for The Scorpion King) only added in some humour, the rest feels extremely Lucas. And any grand conceptions you had about seeing Jedi Knights at last in action and great number, can be ditched now. Sam LJ's combat is a little embarassing and the finale is such a choppily-edited everything-but-the-kitchen-sink job...

Ill tidings are that Lucas is re-filming for and completely updating the classic trilogy, presumably for the DVD edition. Well he can print one less copy and I suspect more than one, leave those movies the hell alone! The story is told in six parts and you don't go back round chopping and changing each part to clean up any mess you make! They have been released in final form, TWICE! I let the SE trilogy slide because changes were minimal, enough is enough.

The best man won. Spider-man delivers the thrills I hoped it would, Clones comes way short. Its not my biggest disappointment for the year though, I hand that trophy to 'Ali', which also had a kick-ass trailer. I have no faith that this trilogy will be considered as anything more than a taster for die-hards of the classics. Lucas can not possibly deliver in the next installment, even a master like Tolkien would be hard pressed and Lucas is not even a Dunce student to that guy. I'd like to thank him for his efforts, its been a bit of fun but SW recents can join my kinda-maybe-care list. I'm waiting on The Two Towers, and the Fellowship Extended Edition DVD, DAMN that is cinema!
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Ice Age (2002)
Not what I had hoped for.
16 April 2002
I'm afraid he may have gone overboard with this movie, in a backlash against Episode 1's reception. I've been following it on the unofficial news site and in the theatres. Too much digital, too much Lightsabring and its all anachronistic to the classic trilogy, it could still pack some good thrills though.

Now about Ice Age. It doesn't belabour the hip humour like Monsters, Inc., that style I believe is wearing thin already, and after less than a decade. This movie recycles everything basically, Jar Jar included. It still packs some big laughs though I must admit. But other ones are skipped over so quick that there is no time to appreciate them, eg. "there'll be plenty of time to play extinction later kids." The story also at points is a bit borderline for it's target audience and after less than a month the movie as a whole starts to rot in the memory. The little dude with the wallnut is the most memorable thing but he gets such a harsh beating from the Coyote/Road Runner gags that you feel too sorry for him, it's extremely violent.

So basically all that's left is the glory of the landscapes and vistas, which are of high note. At the time you forgive the movie for that, but there is not enough otherwise to recommend a second cinema viewing, and the cinema is the only place you'll really appreciate that redeeming factor. Besides that is pretty much all we get nowadays is astounding visuals. 'films', are fast retreating the onslaught of 'movies', and even movies are fleeing the advance of 'blockbusters'. If there is one thing cinema is not short of its technological breakthroughs.

The very conclusion, though irrelivant to the core story is both unexpected and refreshingly novel. But this movie is not much chop, and easily forgettable. Watch Shrek or Toy Story 2 instead, and Disney is unlikely to put anything of that grade out again. You will all have noticed the amount cheap Disney '2' movies coming out, Cinerella, Peter Pan etc.

6.5/10
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Ali (2001)
The Champ aint here!
10 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
(IF YOU DO NOT KNOW ABOUT THE 'RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE' PORTION OF MUHAMMED'S LIFE AND HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE THEN CONSIDER THIS A SPOILER WARNING. Also if you plan on seeing the film then this would detract from the experience.)

I am 100% in agreement with the Academy on this one. Smith's actual acting is fine, voights inhabitation of a news presenter I know nothing about is also sturdy but the movie as a work is extremely flawed.

First up the other good points though. Alot of the ring action, as film drama is gut wrenching. I don't know if that is simply because Rocky is one of very few boxing movies I have seen though. All but the Rumble in the Jungle makes you sweat, the humour where present is successful aswell; but the rest of my review is griping.

Firstly, the make or break element of the movie; sadly breaks it. Smith plays undaunted arrogance (with the exception of the crowning Sonny Liston win; quite a funny moment occurs) well but he was not PLAYING Muhammed Ali. What little I know of the man is from a knowledgable elder and the Oscar winning doco "When We Were Kings". You could see in much of the leadup (to the Rumble in the Jungle)in that doco that there was fear behind Ali's eyes. The man also seemed to have a semi-serious approach to much of what he said publically, he wasn't always 100% stern, there was a beautiful irony inherent, this does not come across. The casting of Smith is something I would expect to see in a spoof about Hollywood and how they popcorn everything up. Smith must have done next to no body-building for the part and it shows. Ali may not have been big for a heavyweight but he was and is certainly alot bigger (build wise) than Will Smith, I could never get past it just being Smith playing a role.

None of what actually made the man a great boxer comes across, and the preparation subterfuge for the Rumble in the Jungle is ultimately removed, robbing the films climax of tension. It is, not too pointedly, spoken of in the doco that Ali spent sparring sessions preparing for rib punches and rope-a-doping, vital to his win. And little of the pessimism about the champs return comes across. Before the fight the documentary tells us that the minutes before Ali left the changeroom felt like a last supper. His supporters thought that he was going out to an inevitable loss, it was in that room that Ali's optimism and cheer brought morale up among them which would have been PERFECT for a hollywood movie. There is none of this in the movie, Mann likes that sort of stuff ('Heat')and yet he allowed its removal.

We also don't learn very much at all about Ali as a person, and as a previous reviewer said it only covers a neat decade of his life, nothing of his Gold medal fiasco is in it, which is another major part of his career and public life (his medal in the 96 Atlanta Olympics is tied in with it). We also know nothing of his childhood or what his early ambitions were, what actually MADE him, all that supposedly 'corny' stuff that most biopics can't resist including. If you want an informative and tense telling of the famous George Foreman fight watch the documentary, and there is now a DVD with all the footage of his fights and interviews you could want.

See this or don't see it, that quite honestly is good advice. Smith fans or fans of actors in general should find it a good troubleshoot experience. Three hours should never feel this shortcoming.

7/10
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Sexy Beast (2000)
Gripping tale of a six foot bunny searching for meaning in an atrocious script..
19 February 2002
Whoever it was that wrote this (no I'm not going to look at the credits so that I sound like a professional) must honestly have watched Snatch and/or Lock Stock and spent a night with a few ideas. The story is atrocious and the dizzying photography is now so tired and transparent that you are honestly out of the movie well before half way.

We get this ominous setup about getting a call from a guy and we take by the reactions of all involved that he is formidable, then we get some poorly executed tension and finally he shows up. The other guy had determined that he would say 'no' to the job offer so, shock horror he does; and then the best they could come up with was half an hours worth of YES!...no...YES!...no etc a whole slew of profanity and then, wait for it.....he leaves! But ofcourse they come up with an excuse for him to return and we have a whole big murder scene of bruises, blood, battery and bullets. The story really goes awry then and we find that a big time bank guy has actually put a safe beneath a swimming pool for goodness sake, they were looking for a new type of theft, this one is as plausible as any Jerry Bruckheimer plot development.

This pathetic gangster flick compares to Snatch as 'Dungeons & Dragons' (2000) compares to 'Fellowship of the Ring' (2001). Performances are fine, not that that has any effect on a complete movie, its like complimenting The Phantom Menace on its visuals, nowadays that is taken for granted and as we all know it was about the only thing complimentable. There is laughs no doubt for some but myself, I think I remember lauging maybe once, and that was brief. 'Snatch' is an improvement in a more-of-the-same sort of way on 'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels', this is an improvement in an un-funny sort of way on 'Plan 9 from Outer Space'.

If you can bear Kingsleys A grade work in this Z grade flick then its worth watching, otherwise forget it.

5 star experience (out of 100)
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Heat (1995)
All style no credibility.
19 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Everyone in this movie is Ultra-cool and Ultra Ultra-professional. Pacino as usual yells his way through the movie, Deniro as usual is an Ultra Ultra Cool Cop-killer just seeking a peaceful life in Big-time Crime and his buddies are semi ultra cool cop-killers just seeking a normal life in big-time crime and the chicks are the unfaithful mob who who keep our heroes at their most masculine.

I could never get comfortable with Voights hair do, Deniros is extremely predictable, Pacino is the macho ultra-professional and over-divoted cop, Portmans does not have much luck with mortality or a punctual father (it was a delight to see her 30 seconds of celluloid anyway though), if they want to get into parental psychology issue they have to be a little less over-dramatic and a little more explanatory. Wane Grow and the kitchen boss we ofcourse hate and relish doing so. A grown man actually cries because he has to take out the trash and basically handle the gritty work in a kitchen, (people a lot younger and alot older have to put up with that crap for years) his wife ofcourse is the 2D figure that announces having pride in him.

Pacino watches his own friends and comrades even and even colleagues he did not know get shot down, because of and BY Deniro but still manages to hold (SPOILERS RIGHT HERE NOW) his hand in dying moments, in some sign of professional courtisy. A beautiful but tragically lonely chick finds out that she is dating a murderer and criminal but for the sake of his "love" chooses to aid his escape and even live out her days with him, another example of cheap emotion. My summary is all that need be said. If you want to see a style and then some comic book in play with some thrills and sweat revenge on the side then her you are but otherwise look elseware.

6.5/10
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I am very disappointed! (in some comments I have read)
8 January 2002
There is the Lord of the Rings book, a masterpiece of storytelling and there is the movie trilogy. It comforts me that they have reviewed the entire book and tied up a few links in this one to the next two, re-working I think it's called. To name two that come to mind, Sarumans on-screen anti-environmental foolishness and the burial boat going over the waterfall, both were something brought to light only in the second novel, tying in two more characters respectively.

Tom Bombadil. A reader doesn't mind a couple of chapters on father nature that don't relate to the rest of the story, viewer's are a different matter. Glorfindel bights the dust making way for Arwen in seeking thier love dimension to the story. They have also borrowed the first chapter of The Two Towers for the climax. The Wizards duel as well, audiences would not be satisfied with Gandalf just submitting at threat so they worked in a 'Willow'-ish Wizard fight which is quite good. And finally they keep us up to speed on Isenguard and Saruman, and introducing us to the Uruk Hai a little earlier. Non-readers will be pleased to know that the books get progressively shorter with 'Fellowship' the longest and 'Return' the shortest. I would expect that at the end of the year we will be viewing a 2.5 hr movie or there abouts.

I have only two complaints. One, you can't really get into the action because the filming is so erratic, and two, Galadriel. Due to either directing or acting she comes off as pompous. The filming also does not do Blanchettes unique beauty justice in some shots. Thats the end of my list of complaints. I LOVED everything else, the vista's, the flawless effects the solid and at points inspiring performances this movie does indeed access all of the cinema pallete, the movie is charming, dazzling, thrilling and saddening. Look no further for the movie that The Phantom Menace never was.

I would also move J.R.R. Tolkien higher on George Lucas's 'borrowings' list, recapping on the book undermines my divotion to Star Wars a bit. From the Obi Wan and Gandalf parallels to the garbage monster scene and lots more. I saw TPM 6 times at the movies mainly because of the Lightsabre duel, I have seen this one 4 already and have no plans to stop there. I'm done with heirachy's too, opinion ones. This movie deserves to be above the Godfather in my opinion, no in Joe Blogs' opinion, yes in Bill Blogg's opinion, I mean who really cares. Everyone has a different agenda. The AFI somehow decided that Jurassic Park and Braveheart both deserved the scrap heap while Annie Hall and Unforgiven and countless others didn't, give me a break. I have my own favourites, they're welcome to thier own.

This movie is 2001's best picture, Oscar winner or not. I would say regardless of who wins the BPO, this will snag the biggest tally. What really sucks is the hide of everyone who has made Harry Potter a 700 million mega hit while this sits rotting on a 67 million FIVE day opening weekend, hell 3 movies last year beat that in just THREE days, mind you it has beaten two of those already, a stayer not a sprinter I guess. But it's still like people are getting thier ticket listing botched or something, Potter is a dull CHILDS movie.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring = 10/10
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4/10
I personally loved it!
3 January 2002
I loved that shot where you saw him from behind, some of the lovers dialogue was a little corny but the duel shots were great. Christopher Lee looks cool and especially the army shot presumably of clones on the ramp, as well as the one where he is riding the speeder on Tatooine, that was cool as well, as for the bounty hunter shots, it was well worth 13.50. I suppose they added the bonus movie 'Harry Potter and the Cinematographer's Stone' to satisfy the non Star Wars fans, I didn't mind that too much really though.

It seemed no sooner was that old guy Dimpledell and that chick lighting lamps than I was waking up to a train heading away from a huge guy (Beorn from 'The Hobbit' I think he was). I must have been conscious some of the time I suppose though because I remember something about an evil black warrior who turns people to the dark side and seems to have a bit of Phantom of the Opera/and that 'open your mind' guy from Total Recall, complex. I suppose it's a comfort to know that the underground wizard teachers are as ditsy and incompetent favouritists as every-day ones and that the students are as snobby, stuck up and in short cle she-ish as unskilled writers and Disney have always renderred them, and the best news is that Gandalf found a place to settle down and share his knowledge, also as a part-time Santa Clause. I also remember a part of it where one kid pulls out a cloak, holds it infront of himself discovering that it makes him invisible and another kid says, "I know what that is! thats an invisible cloak!" Harry must truly be a unique kid I would think, to walk through a wall to a magicians city, make a wand send books flying, find out he is bill gates' heir (or the equivalent), see a talking hat read his mind and then see a 20ft troll and still be wowing when tiny white butterflies appear out of nowhere.

Rowling does not really have a very fertile imagination. Harry Potter is an uninspiring two step equasion. Nobody could really believe that kids would remember any of the 'love' messages or care about them, what they remember is how to cast spells, use a wand, respond to authority, respond to danger, and respond to warning. Harry Potter has no sense of narrative or entertainment, and certainly none of originality. There are points that you hope it will go somewhere but at the same time you can't see it happening, and your fears are rewarded. 10 year olds minus would like this, I am mystified as to where the trans generationalism is. Studios basically don't care about our opinions, because most blockbusters now days seem to justify thier budget in two weeks or less, after that we can pretend all we like that our opinions matter.

In all I would award an 8/10 I suppose, they have betrayed just enough to us but not too much about Episode II. See that trailer while Harry Potter remains in the cinemas, what I really like is that they perfectly picked thier movies, that trailer has been seen by 2 of the 3 biggest american audiences of 2001.
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Oni (2001 Video Game)
A Grade A achievment in gameplay.
30 October 2001
I'm no video game expert but Oni reaches new levels in addictive for me, it's one of those games you just dont get sick of. You simply love every morsel. The story is a mish-mash of the Star Wars series and Highlander but it is that cle she of agression, revenge and betrayal on a family backdrop that makes it something to love doing over and over again. The game is hardly daunting to progress through, you can pretty much leisurely spin kick your way by through some killer action sequences, be prepared for a 'more of the same' finish that is nevertheless the most gripping chapter.

Oni is basically the story of TCTF agent Konoko who in investigating certain companies starts to unearth some illegal technology. While pursuing such she is confronted by an ultra-cool looking crime boss named Muro and his syndicate. As Konoko starts to pick up details of the case her own past also starts to surface and things start to point to fowl play on the part of her boss Griffin. She begins to discover that she is in fact much superior in combat potential to any but one other person. Outlawed by the TCTF she endeavours to search for answers about her past and Muros alone through constant confrontations. Featured bad guys include first Barabys, a yellow suited half-robot who in head and shoulders looks dead set like the de-helmeted Darth Vader, and aside from your doppleganger and your former boss, a Black Ninja which acts like Darth Maul, sounds like Darth Vader and looks like a cross between the two. He is in fact the games most formidable adversary, beating him requires a good bit of practise.

As for the troops littering the game through and through, there is first some military looking guys in kaki atire and some red and silver equivalents. Each character also has his own troop clone (not literally 'clone' in the story). Barabys has these ogre-like deep voiced assaulants in two different colour atires, Konoko constantly comes across red and blue suited chicks that look like her including a boss that is identical, and the black ninja has these speed kicking elusives in two different colours, all these similarities are probably to save in the programming. Players will enjoy a dream sequence serving as an early precursor to the climax, in much the same way Luke was confronted by Darth Vader in a sub-real experience before fighting him later on in pursuing his quest to reach fulfillment, every time Konoko takes out a bad guy, Barabys, the Black Ninja and Muro she has a power-up from a special gem inside her.

As you play through the game you add to a chapter log in order to re-visit any of dozens of the particular parts of the game. There is usually four save points to a chapter and each time you reach a save point the game is automatically saved with whatever changes in health, ammo or weapon have been made. The fun of this game the sheer brilliance of the fight scenes, a 3D take on the classic punch-em-up walk throughs that were so plentifull in thier day. Of course no one can be told how the full fun of Oni is.......you have to experience it for yourself.

19/10
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What you'd expect from such a cheap title.
24 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Cast List: Plesiosaurus, Pterodactyl, Diplodocus, Allosaurus, Triceratops, Ceratosaurus, Styrachosaurus, Paranthodon.

Basically this movie is trashy but anyone looking at the cover can forsee that so why bother? Not only are the effects, or costumes monumentally terrible but the story manages to keep up. Instead of avoiding any complexity by just tossing some random species from various evolutionary stages and continents around the globe in an isolated island and showing people getting eaten alot they try to get scientifically clever but see how this grabs you, It's laughable to bother with this warning but for legal purposes I have to, SPOILERS AHEAD!

Get this right, human beings (primitive ones) are actually processing dinosaur eggs by dropping them into the river and when they wash up on shore the animal grows and over time undergoes every evolutionary change within this one land. Forget the skipping of the natural selection and multi-million year factor, Aligators have to constantly adjust thier nests for temperature, because a few degrees can be the difference between life or death for the kid, dropping a brand new reptile egg into water would instantly render the embryo dissolute. On enterring the land the further you head into it the more primitive the animals are. And the same question that can be put on everything from the original Lost World novel to 1 million BC, why are the humans there at all, there are more than 5 dozen million years of evolution between the dinosaur age and the first humans. But really why bother with all this Scientific stuff, the movie sinks itself in every other area anyway, story, acting, effects etc. One of the greatest unintentional comedies of all time. The only question is why did they fail to even surpass the Lost World and King Kong harryhausen jobs from the beginnings of cinema effects, those dinos at least looked like they were alive no matter how pathetic in appearance (stop motion animation), and all the dogma about lumbering mosters was more than a decade before this so whats with the latter depiction. This is interesting however as the last of it's kind before Star Wars revolutionised the effects industry, it is almost impossible to believe that this and Jurassic Park are only 18 years apart, think about it.

1/10
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Rush Hour 2 (2001)
10/10
Yeah it's sometimes funny but mostly just weak.
15 October 2001
Crouching Tiger's main problem is that most of it's duration is the overlong fight scenes, well guess what, this one is comparable. You can pretty much forget the jumpy story of this thing, if martial arts slapstick is what your after welcome to home. It's still pretty funny, most of the outtakes are misfires though and you end up feeling sick from Tuckers constant sqealing, he is almost exactly what Jar Jar would be in a tux (played by negro Ahmed Best), he walks around squealing and waving his arms and delivering some of the dumbest one liners and generally messing up the works for Chan. The veteran of Best Picture nominee Crouching Tiger, Ziyi Zhang looks fair dinkum like a kid that knows how to fight, ill placed as a triad henchwoman. You really dont pay much attention to the story but the sporadic laughs and stunts are watchable. I still dont understand however why this thing ranks even close to movies like 'The Lost World' or 'Saving Private Ryan' and it doesn't deserve to breathe the same air as 'The Matrix' or 'Gladiator'.

I have heard people putting the Mummy Returns down as worst sequel (or perhaps even movie) of the year, well guess what, it just got toppled if they need to go that far. This is the kind of movie you can see once and not worry too much but beyond that it's a weekly rental job, see the first one.

6.5/10
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Pitch Black (2000)
The Best of it's kind since Aliens.
15 October 2001
What amazes me about this movie is that none of it's creators have much of a filmography. The Director has not done much that was great, G.I. Jane makes a statement about sexes obviously, Womens rights etc, and Waterworld is just one of a mob of Costner glorifiers. The writers are the ones you would least expect to be credited with this, they are veterans of trash like 'It Came From Outer Space', 'Nightmare On Elm Street 376', sorry it was the fourth that they catered for and 'The Fly 2'.

The premise fits well with thier rep but the characters and the style are way above. Riddick is an elastic and artificially nocturnal crim, the other guy is a back staving mercenary and good old Caroline is a humane ships captain. Them and a few others are caught on a planet and must get a ship space-worthy as time and personnel numbers dwindle. Yeah that's been done, so has pretty much every avenue movies can take nowadays, but the relationships are what make this one soar. Riddick steals the show, he is just too cool for the others to have a hope. A kind of 'survival of the fittest' logic makes him tick but without even realising it her humanity starts to rub off on him. A by appearance respectable mercenary needs to get him off the planet alive to collect a bounty but Riddick is more than just formidable by appearance, he also has a keen, self-dependant and crafty mind at work, how long can the man who would cross him last.

Then to the Aliens setup. When getting thier bearings the team stumbles upon a couple of undesirable chamelion-like predators beneath the surface, surveying the remains of the previous tenants they start to realise what they are dealing with, the first bomshell comes when they realise that the planet is about to line up for an eclipse that could last from hours to weeks, the problem is that these predators one weakness is light and they are about to re-enter the hunting ground, the team could well be sliced in less time than the minimum duration of the eclipse. Theres plenty of thrillers out nowadays that you can dismiss on appearance, this isn't one. Vin Diesel is on the short road to stardom, this movie is why. You'll be happy to know all you fans that the director and Diesel are getting together for a follow up, dealing mainly with Riddick. I am astounded at the 6.6 rating this movie is on, I sense opinion changed after 'The Fast And The Furious' hit screens, lets work on flipping that.

10/10
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Loud Lavish and Likeable.
12 October 2001
In the Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze movie 'Point Break', A young cop goes undercover as the member of a team in order to root out some crims and things escalate when they move on the wrong gang and start to realise that the offenders are closer to home than realised. It comes down to a choice between loyalty to his cause or to his friendship. In this flashy, loud and heavy petrol head flick it is no different, infact there are more similarities between them than just in the basics. It is a step by step re-hash. If there was to be between them a re-watch choice it would be this one over and over again though. It is gripping, with solid performances and a unique and impressive look. This movie is easily the best car flick yet.

A veteran of Pitch Black, Vin Deisel I would say is headed for action stardom. He's a similar character in both but it doesn't matter. Pitch black is an under-rated gem and this by legitimate critics reviews is a worthily rated gem. I think they deserve Sound Design and Cinematography oscar nominations for it, the Limp Bizkit overtures are the only thing really that could do them out of it, they have the worst rep on the globe which is why they are so successfull, the oldies who vote for the academy would hate that. Don't go past this one for the best teen flick this year and one of the best in years.

8.5/10
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Sleepers (1996)
A teen-targeting revenge tale masquerading as an exposee.
9 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS Here-in.

This thing starts off realistic, stays at that same level for the kids part of the movie then following the richly, classical hollywoodly hateable Kevin Bacons demise it hits the floor. Four boys did time together and were raped and abused by the guards that were assigned to protect them. Somehow a tried, convicted and sentenced juvenile manslaughterer (one of the kids) becomes a lawyer and another a journalist. The other two kids become career murderers, discover one of the guards, blow him away and are arrested for it.

The lawyer, the journalist and a laughable crime boss who thinks if he keeps a straight face and an accent he can be scary start working together to get the two murderers aquitted of the charges. Appropriately enough the witness that is called had 3 glasses of wine and two martini's before seeing the murder so naturally they bring that to light as imparing her testimimony. Both the prosecution (a mate of one of the murderers that did time with them{Brad Pitt}) and the defense (Dustin Hoffman) are working together to get the kids off. Pitt is trying to throw the case and make the job easier for Hoffman.

The next glitch is that the court allows a man completely un-related to this specific murder to testify as a character witness, he is actually one of the guards who raped the kids but due to juvenile penitentiary files having been destroyed (wheeeew) the two kids can not be connected with the guy. Then he gives over to emotions and tells all about Bacons past times on the Job and despite an evident exchange of familiarity between the man and the two boys in the court room and the implications of how the two boys enterred crime in the first place considering it's a never-too-young-to-start buisness neither the Jury nor Judge start to see a motive forming for the two young men.

Strike Three. De Niro's character, a priest, is approached by the Journalist who tells the never-before-told story of what went on in the prison to butter him up to go and testify that the two men were not even there at the time, in other words to swear by the divine overseer and his savior that he has pledged his life to and then lie his heiney off (in an extremely convincing and perhaps even familiar manor) purely in the cause of freeing two career murderers, the screenwriters even have the gall to call it recalling two stray sheep. The priest goes through with it, and that is when Justice, Righteousness and any other redeeming quality this movie had disappear. Naturally it all goes through the two murderers go back to business and Pitt seeks a career change. I dare you to look beyond what the boys experienced in the prison and judge whether or not it is equally just to let them off for ending the life of a human being.

This movie is the most uniquely insulting and crass your ever likely to come come across, if theres any way to avoid it do so.
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An enjoyable LITTLE movie.
31 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** The characters in this are all likeable, Grant having resolved his issue about kids is married to Ellie with a son who calls him "the dinosaur man". His popularity is suffering as is his funding and he has an assistant now who handles the dig so that he has family time and press conference time and scholar speech time. His theories now seem to fall on barren soil because as a scholar said any scientist who wants to study or discover anything can just finagle a trip to the island. Grant is firm in the hypothesese that the dinosaurs on the island are nothing more than "genetically engineered monsters"

A chance to improve his financial stance comes when two thrill seekers show up and ask for him to guide a strictly air-borne observation of the island for thier anniversary, offering that they can "write all kinds of numbers on a check" and ask what will it take for his assistance. Anyone doubting that even wild dinosaurs could drag him back there should atleast see this set up in play before making a pronouncement. He agrees, perhaps a little longing for a second look at some Pre Hi giants played a part aswell. Rather than try to break the news up front about thier true intentions the couple and thier three 'professionals' simply ignore his attempts at narrating the tour and prepare for landing, finally seeing red he leaves his seat demanding "YOU CAN'T LAND THIS PLANE!" before one of the goons thumps him from behind.

The story moves a bullet a gate from that point. Some successfull humour is scattered throughout the movie and it never seems to take itself quite seriously but at the same time it never goes spoof. It is almost heartbreaking for a dino divotee to see Trex get it's kneck broken by a solar powered scavenger that they have turned into some bi-ped crocodile. One thing that is also annoying is that now they have added some hind-neck hair to preserve a bird-like appeal with the raptors, that's fine for the individual movie except that the raptors have now changed pattern, form and size three times. Lost World's justification for the change was that what we were seeing was the males of the species, Nublars original inhabitants were all female. I don't know what they saw to justify walking into such a wall as that of breaking continuity with the species in part 3.

With the original movie Spielberg was advised by the experts that Terranodons were not capable of the kind of aggressive manueuverability that they wanted for a climactic helicopter attack, it was also cut from The Lost World but here they have gone and used the fiction for an aviery action sequence, Terranodons are taking flight with human beings in thier claws which would according to experts not have been capable of. The ending is hardly an opening for a sequel concidering what a dull movie would spring from it, mind you the basic idea is about the only place a self-respecting sequel could go (this one comes close but doesn't really fit the bill). I have also heard people say that a dinosaur in the movie is completely fictional which is completely not true, they are all existing fossils being used in the 'size matters' school of creature feature. Viewers will note early on a small exchange between Grant and his pal noting that Spinosaurus was not on any of Ingens lists, concidering they could have got away with slotting Spiny in it's speculation as to why they drew attention to it but here's something to note. In the original, watch closely when Nedry is in the storage lab and note the names you can read as he fills up his pressure pack can, you will see Metriachanthosaurus (Met-ree-uh-canth-o-saurus) which is an earlier and smaller version of Spinosaurus (they are both in the Spinosaur family).

This after seeing it seems small as a movie, not so much brief but just concise. If creature features are your gig, this one is a very traditional form of one and well worth seeing, also if it's some lavish dino action and thrills that your after look no further, it will bate your appetite until the inevitable JP4 arrives.

7/10
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A really personalised psychological drama/thriller.
5 August 2001
A man is receded at his work and appropriately his work is constantly being on the streets or the road. His wife left him years ago taking his daughter with her. In torturous grievance he searched for them for seven years with no success Due to a personal weakness he is unable to adjust to the loss and conjures up an ever present apparition of his daughter that constantly communicates to him behaving in that annoying child way all the time.

He is one day assigned to follow a politicians son who is suspected of having an affair. One of the politician guys flings suddenly turns into his own gorey murder and he follows the murderess who uses her sex appeal to her advantage on a serial killing across the US. He pursues her on the road photographing incidents but not reporting them. In some bizarre way he finds himself attracted to the woman, he is too fearfull and in awe to approach her but too attracted and dazzled to leave her trail or allow her to be captured, he rapidly plumets down the pit of insanity in his pursuit as he trades the obcession of his lost daughter for the obcession of pursuing this erotic murderess. Throughout the movie he experiences many intense drives and following the death of a man the murderess sought to marry she leaves her spree seeking only to evade pursuers from the law, Ewan becomes her unseen benefactor in this endeavour. The conclusion is unsettling but sticks with the mood of the film.

Definitely not for the light hearted film goer, this is somewhat a thesis on insanity, causes, forms and resolutions. If psychological depths like that are not your forte then avoid it, that will exclude 90% of the global audience, everyone else, this is somewhat disjointedly touching and occasionally shocking. It was never intended to be a money making entertainment piece, but it is still entertaining as a narrative. As a psychological thriller. 7.5/10
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Frequency (2000)
In fairness to The Sixth Sense....
20 June 2001
After a few viewings 99's second biggest grows weak and dull, and this movie goes so far out on a limb to entertain you would have to judge it with the same court as that very movie.

It goes far further into the changing the past and future issue than anything previous, from 'The Time Machine' to 'Back To The Future', problems with The Sixth Sense were stuff like, how could he go on not realising he was dead and how could a tape recorder pick up the voice of a ghost that only rare people can hear, there's more than that, see my comments page, in Frequency, right from the point of keeping his father from dying in the fire, nothing in the family or among his friends or in the newspapers or anything like that would be the same, the changes would result in, as Doc Brown would say 'a meltdown of the space-time continuun', the main characters then cause some more deaths and save some more lives and bring more people into the change rage, this movie takes the serious type of realism from TSS and mixes it with the Back To The Future sort of narrative, the result if you can look past as above is a fun always surprising and intriguing film.

SYNOPSIS

One night after a low point in a young cops life he and a 'womb to tomb' friend of his get out a 30 year old radio and when by himself, the cop tunes in to someone who he starts a conversation with, like father like son they discuss Baseball and work, it's after the cops correct prediction of a baseball game that they lose thier contact due to interference, in the conversation a little confusion around who they are leaves them both in wonder about the following day. A fire comes in a place the young guy predicted and Dennis Quaid is edgey, it comes down to another prediction and Quaid manages to do the opposite to what history previously had him do.....and lives to see the close of the day. The movie becomes paced by thier nightly tune ins and chats. It comes out that a dads visit to a hospital causes more serial killings, the kid is the only one who realises changes in 99 everyone else changes appropriately. The pair start working together to prevent the killings in the town, but it escalates when the dad meets the killer.

CRITIQUE

To go into the movie you should justly know no more than that. The ending becomes pretty complicated and if you can try just to keep your eyes on the road you should not have too many problems, dont think too much about the branches in the story. This movie would still be good after the first time. Just think of it as Back To The Future meets Backdraft, you will also recognise the female-targetting serial killer idea from Silence Of The Lambs.

7.5/10
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