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Kung Fu Panda (2008)
All the makings of an excellent story
26 June 2008
Kung Fu Panda is the kind of movie I've been waiting for all year. It is sad to see that a children's movie is what finally rekindled my interest in venturing to the theaters over the course of the past year. However, Kung Fu Panda is difficult to place in the "children's" category.

We'll get right to the meat of the movie--the action. I haven't seen such brilliant action sequences in quite some time, whether from an animated or live-action film. These were exceptionally choreographed, and the best part is that they didn't quite take themselves seriously in executing these performances. It's always difficult for me to enjoy a fight scene in a movie where people are flying and doing absolutely outrageous things unless it is an obvious attempt at humor. Kung Fu Panda achieves this goal with stunning aptitude.

Not to mention that the humor is top-notch, whether you are six or 26. I had trouble catching all the jokes, considering most of them were laugh-out-loud funny, forcing me to lose concentration on the next perfectly set up situation.

One of the prime aspects of this movie, to me, is the casting. Many well-known actors and actresses came together to put together this finely crafted film, and they really pulled off a performance worthy a golden statue displaying their ultimate worthiness. I can always appreciate an actor/actress typically involved in raunchy comedies (ahem... Seth Rogen) who can flip a 180 and manage to keep it clean for a full two hours. Bravo, you sickos, you gained a few more points in my book of notorious filthy acting! And finally, my favorite part of the entire movie is that the director managed to find THE BEST film composer of our time and put him to work! Hans Zimmer is as brilliant as ever, pulling out all the stops with his amazing themes and intense action sequence crescendos. And he perfectly avoids overusing the cliché Oriental touch, only using it in key moments. I can't get enough of his music. There should seriously be a library full of his music. I'd own it and maintain it FOR FREE, and I'm not even joking. Seriously, I have a shrine dedicated to this man in my backyard which plays music from Gladiator 24/7.

You definitely should see Kung Fu Panda. And don't hesitate to take the kiddos.
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Troy (2004)
A cheap Gladiator rip-off.
18 May 2004
Troy is one of those movies that seems like it should be in theaters... but then feels like it shouldn't. Like it's a sort of documentary with little more than stone characters, or a multi-million dollar soap opera.

The very first thing I noticed about Troy was the music. Wow, I have never heard such terrible music in my life. Part of it had some blaring trumpets, which attempted to create a "heroic" feeling, but instead felt extremely corny and made me cringe. The worst part about the music in this movie is an odd, high-pitched wailing woman's voice that seems to pop in every two minutes or so. At one point in the movie I actually got so fed up with it that, right in the middle of the theater, I said out loud, "My God, just SHUT UP." While Gladiator had the same type of music, with the wailing woman's voice, this technique was placed strategically within the movie, and wasn't so interfering. Troy's shoved the movie out of the way, slapped you across the face, and screamed until you couldn't think, feel, see, or hear anything else.

The characters are extremely cliche. We have the bad king--he is evil, of course, and wants more land for himself. Greedy. The usual villain. We have the solo hero, who cares only about his countrymen (and cousin). He is very noble, but also very arrogant. There's the good king--good, but blinded by his own beliefs. A noble gentleman who wants nothing but the best for his people. The good king's son, who believes his father, although having good intentions, is really making some mistakes. Throw in a few more villains, place them in ships heading toward the Trojan empire, and you have Troy.

The battle scenes were quite believable, but it was obvious that they were attempting to beat out Gladiator with some scenes, even resorting to using the same kind of camera movements as Gladiator. But it failed in every attempt, as Gladiator pitted real people and characters in the arena, whereas Troy had a mishmash of simple good guys and bad guys thrown in to fight.

The soap opera comes next. The movie begins simply because the prince of Troy takes one of the kings of Greece's wife back to Troy. The king's older brother, who controls most of Greece, uses this as a means of taking his largest army into Troy to conquer it. Achilles is recruited, he meets a lovely young woman who teaches him new things about life, one guy dies and many are sad, one attempts to avenge his death, and so on and so forth, in an almost endless circle.

Troy really may not have been a bad movie. It just felt really phony, really plastic, or transparent. As if it were almost about to reach the reality of the world, but just couldn't wrap its fingers around tight enough.

My main point in all this? Wait for Troy to come out on DVD. Watch it, and decide for yourself. I won't be watching it again.
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S.W.A.T. (2003)
A little predictable, but that's okay.
20 August 2003
SWAT, by all standards, is certainly not a bad movie. It's not one in which you have to "switch off" your brain to enjoy, where the cops chase the robbers and have a stakeout in some abandoned industrial plant. No, this one's a little more realistic, I think.

The movie starts out with a classic scenario--a bank holdup. Kind of cliche, yes, but the SWAT team's tactics are more than just the usual sheriff-and-robber-duel. With the use of special tools and weaponry, a movie focused on a SWAT team can't really go too far in the wrong direction.

There is a major lack in character development. We see each main character for about a day on the job before they join the SWAT team, but other than that we really know nothing about them. Most of them are cliche as well--the quiet guy who is a tactical genius, but who really doesn't want to join back up; the tough black man who respects his fellow blacks, but doesn't have a problem putting them away when they're in the middle of a crime; the hero's rival teammate, who wisecracks at him much of the time; the tough woman who is just as good as the men; and finally, the evil international criminal with plenty of contacts and money who teams up with the main character's former partner. Despite all these noted flaws, there really is nothing wrong in which the way the characters interact with each other. Besides, you can't expect much character background from a movie--that's what books are for.

As far as storyline and plot, it's not all that original, but it's unique in its own ways. The international criminal offers ANYBODY one hundred million dollars as a reward for breaking him out--and this offer is made on live television. Now, from here on, the movie could have been rather exciting. Not only could we have seen the SWAT teams and police fighting off the mobsters trying to get the money, we could have seen the different gangs fighting each other for the money as well. And that chaos could have been very tense and exciting. However, the movie strays from that idea and we don't see any real gang war. Instead, the second villain shows up and adds another hindrance to our heroes.

The movie is, yes, rather predictable, but still entertaining and interesting. While I wouldn't tell somebody they MUST see it, I would certainly recommend it, even if you're not a huge fan of the genre.
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Harry Potter was meant for pages, not film.
23 July 2003
It is obvious that something has gone terribly wrong. It seems J. K. Rowling is focusing much on the new Harry Potter movies, and I wouldn't doubt it soon if the sixth or seventh movie(s) came out before the book(s).

But I'm not here to talk about the books, I'm here to talk about the movie. To discuss how this movie translated from the book would be unfair, so I'll wipe the book from my memory for now.

First of all, I must say that John Williams was the worst person for scoring the music. Williams has done great things in this area, and has been entirely innovative about his craft. However, the entire soundtrack of this movie is cliche. It sounds like something from a very, VERY old seventies movie. Example: The notes of the orchestra have a "spiraling up and down" feeling, giving the impression of something out of an old horror movie. The themes are practically not new. Williams was trying to go for themes, when what it really needed was an ominous feeling. Not this "magical" stuff that could be found in old Disney movies. It seems Williams is losing his luster, and I'd have preferred Elfman or possibly even Goldsmith to score this movie.

The first thing one will notice upon watching this movie, other than the bland score, is the tasteless acting. While I can understand most of these people are young, never-before actors, it can be quite annoying. It seems the directors MEANT to put Hermione up to saying things in a cliche, "I'm-better-than-you," tone. Ron is a total whiner, and can't seem to control emotions. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is probably the best of the three in this first movie (luckily, the sequel patches up the acting, so it's obvious the problems arose simply because they're new--and, like I said, understandable).

Some of the acting is great. Dumbledore is obvious a top-notch actor (his performance in Gladiator is a good example of his previous, outstanding talent). Hagrid and his, "Nope, shouldn't have said that, uh-uh..." is totally believable, and I find him to be one of the better actors in the movie.

However, probably my favorite actor in the entire movie goes to the person who has only about five lines in the script. Filch. "God, how I miss the screams." His character is just creepy, and the actor puts him into such a great tangible experience.

The plot is nice, as its taken from the book (ah, forgive me!). I'd like to say that it loses some of its charm from its adaptation... but I promised I wouldn't go into that.

Anyway, it has a nice villain, believable central plot (although the movie doesn't seem to explain quite as well as the book... seems to be some holes, but oh well, read the book).

Probably the worst thing about this movie is that it manages to use every single cliche imaginable. Harry flies down from his broom, clutching Neville's Remembrall, and a swarm of young children are cheering simply because he caught the little ball while Williams' "heroic" music plays. That scene is actually sickening... it reminds me of some "young children beats up the intelligent, corporate tough man" movie. Harry says a few words to a snake, then immediately says, "Can you hear me?" Ron states heroically (after Harry asks what happens after the white pieces move their pawn), "Then... we play." Once again, Williams' music only serves to heighten the corniness. It's annoying.

All in all, the movie was an annoyance. Simply geared for younger kids, which cause older viewers to cringe at the sheer stupidity. Good effects, good plot, good story, and some good characters... but those factors can't make up for the total childishness of the movie.
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The One (2001)
Intriguing and impressive.
3 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
At first glimpse, The One seems to be a Matrix rip-off, with stunning action sequences, bullet time, supernatural stunts, and even the name appears to be pulled from The Matrix.

I assure you, however, that this movie is nothing like The Matrix. In fact, I could almost say that it is, overall, a better movie. It doesn't try to be too cool, and remains serious instead of cheesy like some action flicks. I have some spoilers coming.

The main thing here is that The One is not just any action flick. It's a well thought out science fiction, and the idea of a multiverse is simply enthralling. The subject was approached rationally, maybe even better than Michael Crichton's book Timeline. There were hardly any contradictions, except for one at the end, but that was hardly noticeable.

The One is very interesting, but the ending lacked something. It was too much of a happy ending, and I just don't think it was possible--or necessary. Besides, it brought about the idea that there was a universe in which the main character hadn't met his future wife yet... now, how is that possible? It IS possible, but it would need to be under different circumstances that they met, not the exact same ones. Just something to think about, and it doesn't really mess up the movie. I doubt there will ever be a movie or book that follows this idea correctly without any contradictions.

All in all, this is a really good movie and I would recommend it to anybody who likes stylized martial arts and science fiction.
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Final Fantasy VII (1997 Video Game)
27 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I am simply amazed at how many people hail this game as a "masterpiece", a "genuine work of art", when in reality it's about as shallow as a backwater pond. Why? Allow me to explain.

Final Fantasy games are nothing but interactive movies, and this is why they do so well. What, exactly, makes a movie? Well, a movie needs a plot, a story to move that plot into action, a protagonist, and an antagonist to work against that protagonist. These are the fundamentals of a movie.

But a movie is much more than that. It is character development; it is emotional; it is something that causes a reaction. We must believe in the protagonists, to hope that they succeed and to wish them well on their journey. We must cry if and when they are hurt or killed and jump for joy when they succeed.

Final Fantasy VII does nothing of the sort. Spoilers ahead.

Let's start with Cloud Strife, the main character of FFVII. He's a strange fellow, with pointy anime hair and blocks for a body. In the beginning of the game, he is the tough guy who is in it for the money. But, moving on in the game, we find that he is gentle, caring, and a general good guy. What sparks this change? Absolutely nothing. Cloud has no reason to change, and he switches behavior several times through the game. I understand that he is continually questioning who he is, but that is no reason for him to have schizophrenia.

Tifa. The female member of Avalanche. Who is she? Where is she from? We don't know. We only know that she is paired with Barrett, the big black guy who looks like a gorilla in this game.

Cait Sith, the strange cat riding a mog who is controlled by a Shinra agent somewhere on the planet. It's a terrible attempt at comedy. And when Cait Sith makes his sacrifice, he immediately reappears and says, "Hi, I'm Cait Sith #2!" Pathetic. Truly pathetic.

And so the rest of the characters are formed in this fashion. We know nothing about them, we don't care about them. Moving on.

The Materia system is so stupid that I laugh every time I see it. Granted, it is a little more sane than putting magic crystals in clothing (as in FFIX), but it's entirely stupid. The Summons are not even necessary. I wanted to get Knights of the Round, but I eventually gave up because it was so futile to get a golden chocobo for a summon that I would only be able to use once in battle. The only way to be able to use it more than once is to get into literally hundreds of battles and gain enough Ability Points. Which is quite stupid, considering I would then only be able to use it twice. Wow. Unlike the Guardian Forces in Final Fantasy VIII, these summons do NOTHING for you. They are worthless.

Grammatical errors are extremely common in this game. One summon's name is "Typhoon", but is hilariously spelled "Typoon". When a character stutters, each letter is followed by a comma rather than a dash. It's almost like a kindergartener wrote this script, as it becomes so corny in areas that I felt like crying. But it's anime... what can you expect?

The battle system is not too bad. It would have been much better if the Materia system was totally revamped. The Active Time Battle is brilliant.

Our main antagonist, Sephiroth, is hardly anything worth a fuss over. For most of the game, you will be chasing down this "villain". I found him to be the only likeable character in the game, save for Red XIII. Red, or Nanaki, is the ultimate Final Fantasy character. He is the only thing that kept me playing to the end. His limit breaks are excellent, he is very powerful, and he's just an awesome, sleek cat.

The graphics of this game, even for its time, are poor. These look like Nintendo 64 graphics! I know PlayStation could do better than this! Why are the characters blocks? Why, in certain movie sequences, are the characters smooth blocks and not actual people? I was unimpressed. The only good graphics we ever see of people are during the escape from Midgar, Aeris' death, Weapon's emergence, and the ending sequence. None of these sequences ever have any sound, either. They're just there, and Nobuo Uematsu's music hardly makes them any better.

Probably the only thing even remotely good in this game is Uematsu's music. The battle music is decent, as well as the boss battle music. As in every Final Fantasy games, some of the pieces of music are unbearable. "One Winged Angel" is one of the highlights of this soundtrack, rivaling even that of Final Fantasy VIII's "Liberi Fatali". I was very impressed, and I've often heard that it was the first time vocals had ever been used in a Final Fantasy. Well done, Mr. Uematsu. You and Red were the only things keeping this game going.

All in all, Final Fantasy VII is a disaster. I would recommend it only to hardcore Final Fantasy fans, as I felt it was almost a waste of my time.
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Metropolis (2001)
Is it true? An anime that is NOT corny?
25 April 2003
I was quite skeptical in watching this movie. A friend of mine who is an anime addict suggested it to me, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to watch it. I generally don't like anime.

This one started off very interesting... and strange. It seems that Metropolis, obviously a very huge city with several layers, has made a new ziggurat that is the tip of mankind's ingenius ability. What this ziggurat is actually for, other than impressing the citizens of the world, we don't really know.

It gets a little boring when the detective and his new robot partner begin searching for a crazed scientist performing illegal tasks for numerous people--including Duke Red, mastermind of the new ziggurat. The newest project involves a robot named "Tima".

Metropolis was a little predictable in the fact that the boy, Konichi, was stuck with Tima and ended up running from Rock, the orphaned boy who claims to be Duke Red's son. However predictable, though, it was very entertaining. Some of the music, such as leaving Fifi's zone, was quite engrossing.

A war eventually escalates, but we don't see too much of that. I was a little disappointed. But the suspense was kept up, as was the mystery, of Tima's purpose and whether or not she was a good guy or bad. The final climax is quite hairraising, and I actually found myself saying, "They HAVE to make it... they will... will they?"

The music of Metropolis doesn't really coincide with the movie. While the movie is based on science and the newer robot generation, you'd expect to hear perhaps some techno (as is very common in anime) or even orchestration. Instead, the composer took a right turn and used jazz. It just didn't suit the movie.

Character development is poor, but hardly any of the characters were corny. There were some awkward parts (such as when Konichi tells Tima how to eat), but overall I was satisfied with how the characters spoke and acted. For once, an anime has understood what humans are REALLY like.

Overall, I was very pleased with the way Metropolis was done. Although not an extremely good movie, it was good nonetheless. If more anime movies are like this, I might actually get interested in the genre.
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Final Fantasy VIII (1999 Video Game)
Quite possibly the best RPG ever created.
25 April 2003
Final Fantasy VIII was the first Final Fantasy I ever played. I watched a friend play it for a bit and decided that, one day, it would be mine. I would buy a PlayStation just for this game.

I couldn't have made a better choice. Let me tell you why FFVIII is probably the best RPG ever created.

First of all, the opening scene is tremendous. The song, Liberi Fatali, is definitely one of Nobuo Uematsu's greatest compositions. The battle between Squall and Seifer at the beginning is simply amazing. This scene right here revolutionized how a game should look. The movie sequences are totally amazing.

Squall is a young cadet at the Balamb Garden, a training ground of sorts for SeeD, an elite mercenary group. Squall is not the most optimistic person. He is, however, very realistic, which causes many people not to like him. From this paragraph already, Squall has much more character than Final Fantasy VII's Cloud. Cloud couldn't make up his mind who he wanted to be. Squall knows what he wants, knows how he will act, and does it. His character stays true. About halfway through the game he has a sort of inner climax, in which the conflict within him is so great that he is forced to change views of the world. This is a real character. He grows, he's round, he's not flat. I was very impressed with his ever slow turnaround, from his thoughts before the parade to the scene on the Ragnarok.

The battle system is excellent. FFVIII introduces a "Junction System", in which magic can be attached to stats to make the character more powerful. The Guardian Forces allow the characters to achieve these amazing feats. Guardian Forces are so much better than FFVII's Summons, which were only used in battle. GF's can give characters plenty of new abilities, and ability points will not be wasted in this game. The Summons in FFVII were just there like rocks... the GF's in FFVIII are characters in themselves which serve to better your main characters.

Although this new battle system is astounding, it isn't without its flaws. You could spend countless hours just drawing magic from enemies, and if you wish to get a really good character, you will have to. If you don't use the right abilities from the beginning, you will end up with a Level 100 character giving only 7,000 damage at the end (instead of a whomping 9999). But these are only a few things compared to how much fun the junction system is. It's almost like a sports game. You can sit for several minutes just rearranging your magic, figuring out what works best where, managing your stats, so to say. It sounds complex, and indeed it is. But this system is more rewarding than the Materia system or the Attach-Magic-Stones-in-Clothing system of the deranged Final Fantasy IX.

Some people complain that FFVIII's plot is dull, shallow, and utterly witless. I have to disagree. Although it is very unusual, and it seems to shift entirely too much about halfway, we must remember sappy FFVII's chase-Sephiroth plot. Now THAT was boring. Squall, Zell, Quistis, and the others in your group must complete several missions and get to the third disc before you even know who the final boss is (and that boss does just appear out of nowhere--I'll admit, that's quite awkward).

The music is just like much of Uematsu's work. It is very entertaining in some parts, such as Only a Plank Between One and Perdition, Never Look Back, Liberi Fatali, and the ominous voices in Succession of Witches, but it can be very pointless and dull in areas. Such as when you're up near the moon, or in the final castle. Ugh.

The main flaw I've found in Final Fantasy VIII, as well as all other Final Fantasy's (except, of course, Final Fantasy I), is that the plot gets in the way too much. I never felt like I had any time to run around and defeat monsters for experience points. In certain parts, you will not be on the world map for what seems like ages. But some of the enemies are great, and FFVIII sports one excellent bestiary.

To sum up what I've said, Final Fantasy VIII is much better than it's sappy predecessors, has much better movie sequences, has superior music, astounding character development, an excellent battle system, and a plot that will nearly devour you with its twists and turns. I would recommend this to ANY gamer of ANY skill. Anybody who enjoys pure modern fantasy with a great plot and superb animation can NOT pass this one up.
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Nice conflict, but a little shallow...
11 April 2003
Tuck Everlasting is a movie based on an older, classic book. I have never read the book, and that's probably a good thing. I tend to rate the movie simply in how it compares to the book, and that's not the way it should be done.

It was a pretty decent movie, starting off rather slow, but picking up into an interesting. I was very mystified at the beginning. What secret did the Tucks hold? What was so special about them? If it weren't for my father figuring it out, I would have never guessed until the younger boy said how old he really is.

Like I said, it starts out mysterious, then gathers to a nice point. A certain man in an ugly yellow suit is searching for the Tucks, claiming to be their relative. The Tucks seem forced into kidnapping a young girl, but we don't know why they must. The girl has met the man in yellow, but we don't quite understand the connection. In the beginning, the movie is very interesting.

It starts to slow down a little too much, though, as it starts to focus only on how the girl's parents are searching for her and how she is falling in love with the boy. The pace quickens when the man in yellow finally catches up with the Tucks, but somehow it seems a little too late for that. The ultimate climax is quite humorous (and creepy, too).

I felt that this movie was just a little slow. Very interesting, yes, but it was lacking something. Perhaps the characters weren't believable. Perhaps it was too slow. Maybe it focused too much on the romance story. Whatever it was, it proved detrimental to the movie. It's a good movie, but not something I'd watch more than once.
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Robin Hood (1973)
A witty Disney tale!
19 March 2003
I used to always watch this one when I was younger. It was one of my favorites, and like all little children, I'd watch it at least once a day. I watched it again today, if only to revive old memories.

Somehow, it's not as good as I remember. Perhaps I was drawn to the bright colors and the funny characters. Whatever it was, it seemed to be missing today.

But still, it's a nice tale of semi-good versus good. Robin Hood is now characterized as a charming young Fox. Little John is a bear (who seems much like Baloo) and Friar Tuck is... uh... a Friar. Not too sure what he is. Maybe a mole.

Anyway, it's a funny movie with some nice songs and good action. It probably has one of the best villains in Disney history. Come on, how many times do you see a guy scream, "Kill him!" in a Disney movie? Not that often. King Richard and Sir Hiss will have you laughing throughout the movie.

However, there are only two climactic moments in the movie, and this makes it out to be just a little tedious. That doesn't deter from the nature of the film, though, and it's an exciting romp nonetheless. Although it's more for the children, I'm sure it can appeal to viewers of many ages.
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Halo: Combat Evolved (2001 Video Game)
Not as great as some people make it out to be!
15 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers

I admit, Halo is definitely one of the most impressive games in our time. Solid action, realistic vehicle driving, intense battles, and expendable marines add to the carnage AND the fun for your gaming pleasures.

However, many people tend to overlook the flaws of Halo. They continue to say it's such an awesome game when truly it's not as good as it could be.

Why do I say this? I'm sure I'm going to get flamed for this, but I challenge everybody to play through it again. It's actually kind of boring. Yes, boring. How so? It's an extremely repetitive game. On the level "Truth and Reconciliation", you must navigate your way through endless corridors that all look alike. In "Pillar of Autumn", you must navigate through endless corridors that look different from the ones in "Truth and Reconciliation"... but all look the same to each other.

The thing I most dislike about Halo is the Flood. It's not a bad idea. Escalate the tension by throwing in a new, super-enemy. But it failed to deliver. The Flood is nothing but zombie-ish creatures thrown in by the programmers who realized that Halo was getting too repetitive. However, in using the Flood, Halo becomes even more repetitious. The Flood monsters are not strategists like the Covenant. They blindly attack and you shoot them. You need no tactics to defeat them. One shotgun blast knocks 'em down.

When it comes down to it, Halo can be summed up to this once the Flood are introduced: Run, shoot. Follow Cortana's directions. That's it. And it gets quite boring.

The final climax makes up for it a bit. Who doesn't want to rush a Warthog through the roof of the Pillar of Autumn to a final lifeboat as the ship is about to destroy Halo itself? Quite intense; quite satisfying. I loved every bit of that part. Foe Hammer's final run is very emotional, and the music helps out a great deal in that scene.

Speaking of the music, it wasn't too bad. It's nothing like Nobuo Uematsu's Liberi Fatali, but it can get quite impressive. Such as "Rock Anthem for Saving the World". The theme for the Flood is annoying, though. It's like something out of a '60's horror movie. Sometimes I thought it would make my ears bleed.

One amazing concept of Halo is the Covenant. What a great set of enemies. It's just that they were overtaken by the Flood. The game really should have focused on the Covenant instead of shifting direction.

With the Flood, there were four forces at work: Marines (and Master Chief/Cortana), Covenant, Flood, and Guilty Spark (the Monitor). This could have gone far. Instead, it's not as intense as possible and the game seems to be severely lacking something.

The multiplayer is rather boring. I've not played linked with four XBoxes, and I understand that it was meant to be played that way. However, the designers should have had something in mind for the pitiful creatures who only can have three to four players at a time. Unless linked, you'll most likely spend most of your time searching for the other characters.

All in all, I was rather disappointed with Halo. It could have done amazing things, but it somehow failed to deliver. Tell you what, though. If done correctly, it would make an excellent movie.
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Rather sluggish.
15 March 2003
I nabbed The Count of Monte Cristo from the library, thinking it was actually The Musketeer. I watched it anyway, because I read the back of the DVD cover and thought it sounded rather interesting.

And it was very interesting. The main character (I've forgotten his name) goes through the most terrifying trials and tribulations. You can really feel for him as he gets thrown in jail for a crime he never committed and as he finds out who put him there.

It's a very satisfying revenge plan, as we are given plenty of time to see what our hero has suffered. It takes a while to get the movie going, but once it does it's almost worth it. However, it just takes too long. Some things could have been cut out.

The relationship between the Priest and the wrongfully imprisoned ex-captain is what keeps the movie going. They have both gone somewhat insane from being locked up for so long, and once they meet, the hope started rising in my gut. I was starting to root for the guy. That's really good when a movie does that.

Our villain, played by the marvelous Guy Pearce, is not as nasty as he could be. I didn't really hate him, but I continued watching the movie so I could see how he met his come-uppance.

At first I thought the actor for the main character was annoying and whiny. After he escapes the prison, however, I realized that, no, the actor is not whiny or annoying. He is a GOOD actor; leading me to believe he was really stupid is quite impressive. The character's metamorphis, as well as the actor's to go along with it, is simply amazing.

The Count of Monte Cristo is not a bad movie. The only real flaw is how long it takes to get going. But it's a nice adventure story, and I would recommend it to anyone who can sit for two hours.
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A very impressive war movie!
2 March 2003
I usually despise war movies. My older brother convinced me to watch Black Hawk Down with him.

Wow, was I impressed. This is the most amazing war movie ever filmed. It's not a bunch of talking generals, planning out their war strategies. It's about actual combat, and the combat lasts for an entire day in this movie.

Basically, Black Hawk Down is a survivor movie. The characters are flung into total havoc in a hostile area in Somalia, and must battle for their lives and return to base. Usually survivor movies appeal to me (such as Jurassic Park), and I was so surprised to see just how good Black Hawk Down was.

The characters are kind of shallow, however, as there isn't TOO much dialogue in the beginning. But it's not really necessary, because within fifteen minutes of the movie, the action begins... and never ends.

But it's not a dull action. It's suspenseful (and sometimes comical). I enjoyed it from beginning to end. However, there are SOME gory parts, but not as many as, say, Saving Private Ryan. It does get pretty bad in parts, but... well, it's war.

I would definitely suggest this movie to anybody. It's good all-around.
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Panic Room (2002)
Nice ideas, even better camera movement.
2 March 2003
Panic Room focuses on a woman and her daughter as they search for the perfect house. They end up with anything other than perfect, however, when they discover that three thugs are looking for something in the safest room in the house.

This "Panic Room" is meant to keep any intruders out and keep everybody inside it safe. However, throughout the movie, the thugs are able to endanger the lives of the house owners over and over again, which seems a little unrealistic, considering it took many years to develop that room.

But the good plot, characters, and camera movements are enough to outweigh any flaws that Panic Room might have. Certain events in the movie really piqued my interest, and I was excited to see what was going to happen next. What could be done to the panic room? What could the mother and daughter do to evade it?

Actually, what kept me going was the question: "What can they do with this movie?" At first I was thinking not much could be done. But a strange, semi-twisted plot caught me by surprise, and I was pretty impressed.

The music is composed by Howard Shore. I generally don't like him, especially with his work in The Two Towers, but in this movie his music is light and eerie. It doesn't get in the way, and it's not screechy like horror movies.

The most interesting part of Panic Room is the use of the cameras. Just the way they move through floors, walls, or pan around in an eerie semicircle are extremely satisfying. They really add to the movie.

All in all, I was impressed with Panic Room. It's not the best movie, and not without it's flaws, but it's worth watching.
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The Patriot (2000)
Not a bad flick!
24 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
The Patriot slams us directly into the Revolutionary war, and it's probably the most realistic one to date. The movie can get quite explicit in death scenes, but, after all, that IS what war is about.

The Patriot follows a stay-at-home Colonial father who finds himself battling partly for freedom--and partly for revenge. The movie is rather organized for a war movie, unlike Saving Private Ryan or others. This one has a straightforward plot, a nasty villain who is detestable and completely vile in all ways (really makes you hate him--perfect for a villain!), and a good cast of actors and actresses.

Mel Gibson continues his war epics (starting with Braveheart) and, as always, does a good job fitting into his role. Heath Ledger is a good actor as well, and I believe this is one of his first movies. I'm not too sure, but in either case, he's a good actor and I hope to see him in more movies like this (such as A Knight's Tale).

John Williams provides the score, and although not as enthralling (or as boring) as some of his other work, it certainly does fit. I can remember one part of the movie in which he had a solid stream of intense strings that, in concurrence with the slow motion of the movie, had an excellent effect on me. It's not one of his best works, but definitely not one of his worst.

I only have one complaint about this movie. I need to give some big spoilers here, so don't read unless you've seen the movie. What I don't like about the movie is that so many people die. Yes, yes, it IS war, like I said, and people are going to die. But I felt it strange that so many non-military people died as well. Maybe I'm just a little too soft, but that's the way I felt with this movie.

Other than that, this is a good solid war movie with good effects, excellent actors/actresses, one heck of a villain, and a good plot. Certainly enjoyable.
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xXx (2002)
A little bland, but better than I expected.
15 February 2003
When I first saw the commercials for XXX, I was thinking, "Oh, great, another stupid teen flick." When I first saw it, I wasn't too far off. However, I expected it to be totally stupid, and to act way too cool for itself. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought. It isn't something I would have seen in theaters (I actually skipped the chance), but it's also something I wouldn't mind seeing again.

Xander Cage is a party animal with some ugly tattoos and an obsession with rebelling against the government. His resourcefulness is recruited by the CIA (or one of those many, many U.S. secret organizations) and is forced to pass several tests. One of the "tests" isn't bad, but the second is so far from reality that it's almost funny. "Triple X" does so many stunts in the Colombian field that it's not only supernatural, but disgustingly unnecessary.

One major downfall of this movie is the music. I forgot who composed the original score, but that's not the bad part. The bad part is the music from popular songwriters that are shoved into the movie. Half of them don't even fit, and I'd like to mention that all of them are pretty stupid. I've never been a fan of rock or metal, since recently it's been so uncultured and just plain nasty. I guess it fits the movie amazingly well...

Anyway, there are some good scenes and some bad scenes. The climax actually isn't so far out. It seems to be pretty realistic, if you want to call having a car with every James Bond equipment slapped into it "realistic". One bad seen involves a prostitute, which isn't necessary in a movie. But this movie is supposed to appeal to teenage men, so I suppose it's... er, "appropriate"? Yeah, right.

All in all, I found XXX to be a little better than I imagined. However, it's not MUCH better, it's only a little. Some of the action is good, and some is totally ridiculous. Don't watch this movie unless you're either sick, staying at home, and don't have anything better to do (like I did) or you're into this kind of near-mindless action.
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Rush Hour 2 (2001)
Just as good as the first!
3 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I was about to write down that Rush Hour 2 is better than the original, but I decided against it for a few things. I'll explain in a minute.

Rush Hour 2 is one of those rare experiences in which it is no worse a movie than its original. Usually a sequel is hardly worth watching, or just less of a movie. Rush Hour 2 is an exception.

The comedy is even better this time. Inspector Lee, played by the quick martial artist Jackie Chan, gets some of James Carter's egocentricity rubbed onto him. He attempts to act more like Carter in this one, which produces some hilarious results. Especially in the trailer. I'd like to explain more, but I won't give spoilers.

While the first one had a very continuous plot, this one seemed a little... askew. Bits and pieces were flung in all directions, and the characters just seemed to be wandering into all the right places on accident. Lee and Carter meet the Triads, a ferocious gang accused of smuggling valuable dollar plates, in a night club. The next day they accidentally find Ricky Tan, the leader of the Triads, in a massage parlor. Later that same day, Carter happens to find some of the Triads driving off in a taxi. Considering how large Hong Kong is, it's extremely unlikely that they would stumble upon these gangsters so often.

Also, in Las Vegas, they come out of a sewer grate and immediately find the casino they are searching for. A little too perfect, I think.

Still, that one little flaw doesn't do too much harm to an already excellent comedy. Lee and Carter continually get into strange predicaments and find themselves being sucker punched again and again. It's also quite amusing how the officials above them are always attempting to keep them off the case.

I can only hope that Rush Hour 3 continues the excellent predicaments and motor mouth jokes that Lee and Carter pull off. This is a great series, and Rush Hour 2 lives up to the name.
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Rush Hour (1998)
An excellent comedy!
3 February 2003
When I first saw this movie, I was a little disappointed because it didn't fit the usual quick-action that is Jackie Chan's trademark. I was expecting his near-supernatural talent to take charge in this one as well.

While Jackie does not use his skill as much, the excitement is recovered by the hilariously paired Inspector Lee and James Carter. These two are so hilarious together, and the mishaps they get into are nothing less than pure entertainment.

The plot is unusual for a Jackie Chan movie. It's a GOOD one. A Chinese consulate's daughter has been kidnapped and it's up to Lee and Carter to... take a hike. They are in the way of an FBI investigation. This doesn't stop them from conducting their own search for the girl, and the results are quite amusing.

The humor is light and toned down. It's not perverted like other movies--it's good, clean fun. There are some nasty curses in the movie, which are a little detrimental, but overall it's pretty clean.

The ending is an excellent way to spawn the sequel. After getting used to Jackie Chan in a less violent role, this movie has become one of my favorite comedies. Even the music, composed by Lalo Schifrin (the original composer of the Mission: Impossible theme!) does a decent job. The music doesn't interfere with the movie, yet is loud enough to add some character.

Rush Hour is a movie that I would recommend to even one who despises comedy.
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They can stack stupidity this high?
26 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Wow. I watched One Night at McCool's yesterday, and all I can say is, "Wow."


Would you like a summary of the plot, just to see how stupid and pointless this movie is? I would never tell anybody to watch it, unless I was out to inflict pain upon them. Anyway, here's a glimpse (or a huge chunk) of the plot.

Randy works for a bar, McCool's. He meets up with this woman named Jewel who convinces him to, surprisingly, have sex with him. Her ex-boyfriend ends up trying to rob them and gets killed. Randy and his cousin and the detective at the scene of the crime all fall for Jewel. She, being the mascot of stupidity, uses every one of these guys to get what she wants, involving a DVD player. Randy hires a hit man to kill her, and eventually the detective is killed by the ex-boyfriend's psycho brother and the hit man and Jewel take off.

Seriously. That's it. I left hardly anything out, except for a few more sex scenes and a nearly-pornographic scene of Liv Tyler as Jewel using a hose to flaunt her sexuality.

What was the point of this movie? To be honest, I think it was so that the producers and directors could show off their male urges. Which I think is absolutely uncalled for and just plain stupid. When I watch a movie, I want a plot. I want characters. I don't care about sexy woman flaunting anything they might have. Something should happen in a movie, for goodness' sake. This is as bad as Fight Club.

It gets even worse. John Goodman is the detective devoted to the higher being. I myself wondered why Goodman would play in something so outrageously pitiful as this, but then I remembered that he was in O Brother, Where Art Thou? as well. His reputation just went down a notch.

Liv Tyler was an amazing actress in the Lord of the Rings series. In this movie she is nothing more than an unintelligent slut who wants nothing but her way. Her reputation has gone down seven or eight notches, to me.

I am amazed, simply AMAZED that people would work so hard to make something so stupid. The music is absolutely crappy (having "YMCA" play while John Goodman's character is being killed doesn't really fit), the characters are totally unlikeable, the plot is one of the most stupid ever conceived by man, and to top it off, it doesn't even fit into any genre. The closest it gets to is pornographic comedy. If it was even supposed to be funny. Which it wasn't.

I think I'm done ranting now. But let me just assure you that nobody in their right mind would ever, ever want to see this movie. Unless they lust for Liv Tyler as much as the characters do, that is.
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How many times must I yawn?
26 January 2003
Let me start out by saying that The Fellowship of the Ring is just boring. There were so many scenes that could have been taken out without harming the storyline at all, and so many scenes that WERE taken out that really damaged it.

I was excited to see The Fellowship of the Ring in theaters when it first came out. I heard it was a long movie, but I figured it could still be good. Which, yes, it was. But it was NOT good, too.

The plot is really cool, however. Sauron is returning to the world, and Frodo must take the ring back to the Land of Mordor and destroy the ring. It's really a great idea, and I've always loved fantasy. But this was just a little too long.

The special effects are pretty impressive. I really liked the ringwraiths and the galloping horses in the river. The Balrog was impressive, too.

Through all of this, The Fellowship of the Ring still fell short. Any of the action scenes are either too short or too repetitive. The movie consists of the main characters being chased by the villains, escaping, then being chased again. It's annoying.

I can't compare it to the books since I've never read them. I have heard that, for the most part, they stayed true. I'm just wondering if they could have stayed true without going for three hours. That is really a long time to sit and watch a movie. Seriously, who actually wants to sit that long? And for a movie that's kind of boring? Apparently many people do, since this movie has gotten such high undeserved ratings. I think people are saying it's good only because it's based on the books they love. If The Fellowship of the Ring didn't have any fans before it was released, I'll bet it wouldn't have done so good in the box offices.

Character development is poor. I never even knew the names of the dwarf, the elven archer, and two of the hobbits until I watched The Two Towers. That's pretty bad.

The Fellowship of the Ring could have done much better. But it just can't match up to other fantasy realms or other movies.
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Rather boring, just like its predecessor.
18 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers

After watching the first Lord of the Rings, I wasn't expecting too much from its sequel. Thank goodness, because I didn't get much. These two movies have much in common. For instance, they're both extremely boring in parts and way too long.

Sometimes I really enjoy long movies. But at times like these, when the movie is extremely slow, I want to fall asleep.

The Two Towers has an extravagant beginning, though, in which Gandalf battles the gigantic behemoth Balrog. This scene was probably the most impressive in the entire movie, matched only by the battle of the Ents toward the end.

The characters have all split up, and so the movie jumps from one to the next to the next without really following any particular pattern. It's almost random, and at times I was getting a little confused. One time I was wondering where the heck Gandalf had gone, but then I remembered that about an hour ago he rode off on a horse. Such is the way of The Lord of the Rings, and I'm beginning to believe that this series will never change.

I am also quickly tiring of the way these movies try to `trick' the audience into believing a certain character is dead or has died, when its obvious that it hasn't happened. Aragorn goes over a cliff (but fell into a river and survived), and Merry (or was it Pippin?) is `trampled' by a horse (nope, we find out ten minutes later that he actually rolled out of the way!). But it's all in good fun, and I guess it's supposed to keep the movie tense. Which doesn't really work.

The plot is the same as the first, but this time Frodo and Sam have aid in the form of Gollum. Within the first few minutes, I was tired of Gollum. He is a sickly little character, with an interesting schizophrenic personality, but an annoying and poorly generated character nonetheless.

Story line is, of course, different than The Fellowship of the Ring, but I found it just as boring. There is so much going on, yet the movie somehow manages to nearly put me to sleep.

The music is absolutely awful. I no longer appreciate Howard Shore's work. In the first movie, he thought up some excellent themes and I was impressed. However, in The Two Towers, several themes play over and over nonstop, which is EXTREMELY annoying. No new themes are created in this movie; instead, Shore takes snips of pieces from the first movie and puts them in this one, which makes for a lousy soundtrack. Sickeningly lousy. I can really say it hit rock bottom.

Despite all these flaws, The Two Towers does have some excellent battle scenes, although they, too, are stretched far too long sometimes. Gimli, the dwarf, provides some excellent comic relief, and he basically pulled me through the movie. Character development is still poor, but better than the first.

All in all, The Two Towers is exactly what I expected. Much like the first, it is a major disappointment because it is so boring, lacking in a good storyline, and just too flawed.
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Getting closer...
14 January 2003
Disney has been attempting their latest genre, "action/adventure", and Treasure Planet is yet another of these more adult films. So far Disney hasn't done too bad in this genre, since we are now free of sitting through annoying songs and have more time to see the actual movie.

Treasure Planet is loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. However, this one takes place in a futuristic setting; the robots are replaced with small hover-craft, the large clippers and ships with unusual opened spaceships (which makes one wonder how the characters breath in space), parrots with morphing creatures, and one-legged pirates with cyborgs.

It's really quite entertaining to see how Disney "linked" Treasure Planet to Treasure Island. Billy Bones goes into the Admiral Benbow and gruffly states, "Beware the cyborg!" which gives it kind of a humorous twist. I was pleased with the changes.

Some parts are a little out of place. Such as the colonial clothing during this futuristic galaxy. It's strange to see a boy with a ponytail and wearing colonial clothing while gazing at a marvelous 3-D holographic map.

The plot is the same as Treasure Island, which never really appealed to me until now. It's more exciting if they are no longer seafaring men, but stargazing astronomers. I was impressed with some newer additions to the story line in order to make the movie a little more thrilling, such as the black hole scene.

Treasure Planet has great graphics, excellent animation, superb actors, and an innovated plot that is astounding. While not the best animation of the year (that goes to Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron), it surely is worthwhile. I enjoyed it from beginning to end, even the rather amusing and unexpected love that grows within the movie.

One of the better characters is Morph, Long John's pet morph. He has a quirky attitude to everything and provides the comic relief much better than B.E.N. The robot was a little annoying, and I feel that he didn't do much to help the plot.

All in all, Treasure Planet is definitely worthwhile. It's a great sci-fi movie from Disney, based on one of the more popular classics of our time.
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Scooby-Doo (2002)
THIS is Scooby-Doo?
29 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Correct me if I'm wrong, but always in the end of Scooby-Doo mysteries, weren't the spirits, ghosts, and ghouls always explainable? There were never really any ghosts, but rather people just feigning as them.

Major, major spoilers.

Scooby Doo the movie is a terrible version of the old cartoons. I'm not too familiar with the old series, but I know for sure that there were NEVER ghosts or hauntings or anything of the sort. However, Scooby Doo the movie breaks into more foolish ground by changing all that, flinging the series into a sort of stupid science fiction fantasy movie. We have large gremlin-looking creatures that want to take over the world (and they aren't masks), and PROTOPLASMS, which supposedly make up the soul of a human being.

WRONG! A protoplasm is the essential living thing inside a CELL. Not a person. Somebody didn't do enough research! It was almost as if they used the word "protoplasm" just to sound cool. Why, when a little bit of skimming through a dictionary will prove that you're a total idiot who hasn't done any research?

Scooby Doo is a movie filled with assumptions, crummy jokes, and a really perverted Fred, who wasn't like that at all in the series. The mystery is so lame that no "clues" were needed to solve it. It was just WHAM! and the bad guy came out of hiding.

One part I did like, though, was when the whole group entered the "haunted castle". It was rather thrilling for a moment, while the axes were swinging, the roller coaster was blasting forward, and Shaggy and Scooby were stuck on a wall. The music was really good, too, I think. But that's about the only good thing about the entire movie.

Scooby Doo was one of the worst CGI characters I have ever seen. They might have done better with a real dog, and not some plastic-looking CGI dog that could walk like a human. I understand the original Scooby could, but that was the original, and it was a cartoon. This is much different with live action.

And the villain was so poorly introduced. Even Count Dooku from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones had a longer run time! Scrappy was only seen for a few moments, and only from a story told by one of the characters. And then he showed up in the end... how stupid! I'm sorry, but this movie was lacking in depth from every single angle.

One other good thing about it, though, is the friendship between Shaggy and Scooby. Those actors were PERFECT for the roles. Shaggy sounds just like the original. I'm impressed. The antics of Shaggy and Scooby help to lighten the movie and for a while I thought it would bring the movie back up. But I was wrong. It lost concentration less than halfway through.

Attempts to modernize the movie were poor. Acting was insufficient (other than Shaggy and Scooby). Story and plot were crumbling to pieces at the beginning. The music was decent in some parts, when no rock bands were trying to keep the teenager atmosphere with crummy lyrics and silly music.

All in all, Scooby Doo was a total flop. I'm not sure what happened. But I know that even I could have done better. Just by staying true to the cartoon could that have been accomplished.
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A good movie... but not too great for Star Trek.
21 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I've always liked Star Trek, and my favorite series was always The Next Generation. I have always liked the movies for "The Next Gen" better than the original series, probably because I could connect really well with the characters and the tension in the plot. Insurrection was a really good one, I thought.

Spoilers are coming.

Nemesis keeps the tale of Picard and his crew alive with a new threat in the Romulan Empire. It's not a bad plot, what with a clone of Picard who seemingly seeks peace turns out to be the most dangerous villain in Star Trek history, having the power to utterly wipe out the human race and all.

However, the plot is rather shallow. In the beginning of the movie, we see a large counsel of Romulans get vaporized by a really cool-looking artifact on a table. But this seems to have nothing to do with the overall plot. Also, the presence of one of the female Romulans seems to lack any connection until toward the end, when she offers to help the Enterprise.

There was a mystery in the opening of the movie. Who is this Praetor? What does he want? He was hiding something, and I found myself continually questioning. What was up with him? I was attempting to solve this riddle when suddenly the answers sprang out of the mouths of the characters. I was kind of disappointed because the mystery was quite entertaining. It was solved too quickly.

That mystery was solved only to make way for the battle that lasts the rest of the movie. The battle was a good one, but I was again disappointed that there wasn't any more depth to it. Nemesis just wanted to get the action out and forget about the depth The Next Generation movies always had. I've never been much for space battles; I'm always into conflicts concerning individuals and people, such as First Contact or even Generations. This movie was a lot like The Wrath of Khan. Lots of action in space, hardly any man-to-man combat.

Now I must have my say about Data's great sacrifice. Data was my favorite character from all Star Trek series. I find that he is much like me, analyzing and thinking logically and all. I could really connect with him. I was sad to see his departure, but in a way I felt that this truly ended the series (as the tagline suggested). With Data gone, The Next Generation will never be the same. Like I said, I was sad, but I'm extremely glad to see that the directors and other film makers understand that there is death in battle. Data's death was extremely realistic, and I feel that it was proper. In a way I love it; in another way I hate it.

The music is again composed by Jerry Goldsmith. He is one of the better composers of Star Trek. He seems to understand the atmosphere much better than anyone else, and his music is a great backup for drama, comedy, and action. I would not suggest anybody else for a Star Trek movie.

Star Trek: Nemesis is definitely worth seeing in theaters, but it's kind of disappointing in comparison to its predecessors. I enjoyed it, but it's good that it reached out to those who like starship battles rather than individual combat.
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Crummy one-liners, useless women, flawed action... yes, it's a Bond film.
21 December 2002
First of all, let me stress one thing. I am getting tired of these cheesy women in these Bond films that are extremely "sexy" (in some people's opinion) and supposedly have a lot to do with the plot. The only reason anybody put a woman in a Bond film was so that Bond could have a little "enjoyment" in his travels. The ultimate failure is when the filmmakers attempt to give these women any meaning in the plot. We all know what they're there for (which is a pitiful excuse for putting a woman into a movie).

I've never been much for Bond except for a select few movies, including Moonraker, GoldenEye, and The World is Not Enough. It seems now that Bond movies skip over. GoldenEye was good, Tomorrow Never Dies was awful, The World is Not Enough was unique, and now Die Another Day continues the circle by being rather lame. This was the first Bond movie I've seen in theaters, and I doubt I'll ever go to another again.

Once again, Bond is immortal and time has no meaning for him, as sixteen months pass in the very beginning. I am beginning to wonder just how old Bond is, how many missions he's been on, and how he remains looking so young. Let's face it--by now, Bond should be in a wheelchair, suffering from Alzheimers.

Okay, I should stop pointing out the flaws and get on to the good part(s). One part I really liked in this movie was that Bond's new car was finally rivaled by one of his foes. The tension (and humor, since Bond's car is an endless pit of weapons and devices) in this part of the movie is really great. I could really feel that the two of them were not really battling to kill each other; they were merely challenging each other's cars.

The plot could be decent, since it involves diamonds (and a humorous look at the past in a newspaper headline that states, "Diamonds are forever"), a giant weapon much like that of the GoldenEye. However, it tends to drag, and I felt it ended up as another of the really long movies with nothing to do. There was so much to remember, so much going on, and none of it seemed to connect. I don't know, it just felt as though it was a big jigsaw puzzle with several pieces left out.

I won't even talk about the intro credits. Those are the worst things to have happened to any movie. The music isn't bad, with the thrilling James Bond theme placed where needed. I'm not sure who did the score, but, like any other James Bond film, the music was not too important and so I didn't care to look.

All in all, Die Another Day was a real disappointment, but at least we all can look forward to the next James Bond film, which should continue the cycle and be a good one.
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