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Bad Boys II (2003)
Fluff
13 October 2003
Some movies are great. Some movies aspire for greatness, and fall short of the mark. And some movies are fluff, and nothing more.

Bad Boys II falls safely in the third category, but it's fluff of the good kind. There's no way that seeing this movie will, in any way, shape, or form, change your life. You will not leave the cinema having been presented with an alternative world-view. This final point is worth repeating, because it is particularly important in this current climate of theological epics that before viewing the film the audience knows exactly what sort of a journey they are getting themselves in for:-

You will not leave this film questioning your existing beliefs in our current, past, or future social and cultural structures.

Bad Boys II is little more than a mish-mash of car chases (and pretty darn exciting ones at that: Wachowski brothers should take note!) gun fights aplenty (at one point Lawrence quips: "I think we just broke the record for the number of gun fights in one week") and a climax which will do little but leave the acronym WTF? running around your head for the next three weeks.

It's tripe, it's fluff, it's silly, it's violent and it's downright offensive - but paint me purple and shout "Whoosah!" if it isn't enjoyable.

*** out of ***** - It's just a movie!
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Well, at least the music isn't bad
30 August 2003
It has always been easy to level criticism at Star Trek films, for either being too slow, to action-packed, too Trekkie, not Trekkie enough, or whatever. The fact of the matter is, is that none of them are classics, except for the people who know and love the characters in them: namely, Trekkies.

It has been said that Stuart Baird was brought on board to try and open up Trek to a wider audience, but that simply insults the viewers Trek already has. Voyager tried, and failed, and Enterprise is rapidly going the same route.

The better Trek films are those that revolve around the character-dynamics, and seeing those people work as a team. In those films, such as Wrath of Khan, The Undiscovered Country, or First Contact, the comradeship of the protagonists is evident.

Not so in Nemesis, which is ironic, especially considering the entire film is purportedly about such relationships. None of the characters have been drastically altered, as many might suggest, but there is very little interaction between them, there's no moment where the viewer would think "only Picard/Data/whoever" would get them out of this situation. It's all a bit [for lack of a better word] bleh. There's no adventure, something that has been missing from Trek since First Contact.

Shinzon is a powerful character, a wonderful character, but sorely underused. It's almost as if he's never really serious about what he's doing, and as such, never seems to pose much of a threat. This is emphasized through the cliched dramatic countdown timer sequence (used excessively in Trek, but here lacks substance, especially since it is entirely and utterly pointless).

Nemesis starts off well, full of hope and joy, and the prospect of Troi and Riker's wedding, and the viewer too, is led into a false sense of hope at the prospect of the film. But Stuart Baird lets us down harshly. He was the wrong director for the job: the script (if you listen to the dialogue, watch the cut scenes, etc) is not an action script, but a character-driven one, with a few action elements.

Baird has turned that on its head, and produced an action film, with very little character involvement.

As a plus point, it must be noted that Goldsmith has outdone himself - the music (although in parts evidently synthesized rather than orchestrated) is a delight. Buy the CD, and forget the film.
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5/10
Over-hyped, over-anticipated, and over-long
23 August 2003
The tension in the air waiting for the sequel to The Matrix was, in some circles at least, so think that bullets really could pass by in slo-mo.

Well, not really, but you get my drift. Anyone who adored the first film - and that was pretty much everyone who saw it - was eager for the second, hoping against hope that it wouldn't be a let down.

And what a let down. Morpheus has become the reverse of his character from the first film. There is no tension, no threat (just who the hell could harm Neo now?) and even the rebels are starting to take on the agents - upgraded agents, no less, and survive, if not win! Remember Trinity's warning to Neo in the first film? Bear no mind to it for this.

Smith, too, has become a joke. The much-applauded virus-like smith scene with him replicating himself over and over to battle Neo, is, well frankly silly.

Whereas the first film was clever, but purposeful, Reloaded smacks of being complicated for complicatedness' sake. The much discussed Architect's speech, for example, is neither profound, nor deep, just very very heavy, in the worst possible sense. And for a film that is only supposedly one half of a much larger film, it's all a bit long winded.

But that all said and done, it's still not as bad as people are claiming... and I'm not being hypocritical here. The film-making is astounding, and the special effects are second to none. But the characterizations, and the storyline are a little pat, especially when held in comparison to the first film.

Part of the problem with it being an epic split in two pieces (apart from being a rip-off) is that it is impossible to judge this film entirely on its own merits. All of its failings may be accounted for... but then again, they may not.

As a stand-alone film (even apart from the first) Reloaded isn't a lot of cop, except to watch the mindless [in the characters own eyes] action. Four out of ten.
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Signs (2002)
9/10
Classic film style makes a modern classic
1 November 2002
The modern "classic" monster films - Jaws, Alien, etc. relied upon suspense rather than shock tactics. This is mostly due to budgetary limitations, rather than style. For example, in Jaws, the shark model just didn't work. The production team found ways around it, and created a really scary, suspense filled film.

In more recent years, film-makers have resorted to showing the monster in all its glory - George Lucas purposefully did this Empire Strikes Back Special Edition.

Signs is a retreat from this habit. Barely do we see the monster (in this case, Aliens) at all, except fleetingly, or in shadows. The result is a suspense that can almost be cut with a knife. Literally. The first moment that the monster is seen, the whole audience is searching for it, desperate to find out what it looks like.

This suspense could very easily break down into schlock horror, but M. Night S* cunningly interweaves moments of humour into the film. However, the build up for this suspense also results in the first act feeling painfully slow.

Signs is not a work of true genius, but it is a valiant effort by man who is one. Without this slow section, the finale would not, nor could not have the emotional impact it does.

I rate it 4.5/5
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