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A decent sci-fi film
There are some films that go beyond their genre, becoming something greater, something that nearly anyone can enjoy, with powerful performances and excellent writing and directing. The Sixth Sense. Gone With the Wind. As Good as it Gets. The original Star Wars Trilogy. The Matrix. Films that may not be without flaws, but nevertheless are an inspiration to watch. Star Wars Episode II is not one of those films. It is a sci-fi film...that's all. As those things go, it's certainly decent enough, and definitely worth watching, but it isn't anything particularly special. Anyway, here ends the comparison to other films, and begins my commentary on this one alone. "Attack of the Clones" is, largely, the story of Anakin Skywalker's coming of age, and his difficulties in dealing with his love for Amidala and the subtle manipulations of Palpatine as he learns the ways of the Jedi from his teacher, Obi-Wan Kenobi--who he believes is holding him back. This is set against the larger story of the political troubles of the Republic, which is faced with a terrible choice between watching planets split off and destroy the unity that once was or fighting those that rebel and watching the destruction arise even quicker as they destroy the very principles upon which it is based. And at the head of it all is Palpatine, a scheming mastermind who uses all the others, from senator to Jedi, like pieces in a chess game. It's a great setup, and could lead to an excellent plot. Unfortunately, it's derailed early on in the film...in part, due to the performances given by some of the actors. Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman are the focus of a great part of the film as Anakin and Amidala...and come off as very flat. The emotions they portray seem false...as though, really, they were just trying too hard. It doesn't help that the writing for their many scenes is generally overdone, with the lines written in such a way that they simply can't be said in a natural manner. There are a great many scenes between the two in the film, and each has very little true point being there...it would've been far better to have fewer scenes, with more meaning in each. What is so unusual about this film is that it really seems to have been written and directed by two different people. By contrast to the Anakin/Amidala parts, the Obi-Wan parts of the film are quite excellent, extremely entertaining and filled with neat plot points and stellar performances by just about everyone involved. Ewan McGregor, in particular, does an amazing job of portraying Obi-Wan, exactly as he should be portrayed, and brings the character to life in a way few actors can. His parts of the film save it, easily...though they perhaps also make the Anakin/Amidala parts more depressing to sit through, because of the stark contrast. It's really very odd. I have several problems with various parts of the movie's plot. Most, probably unsurprisingly, fall within the Anakin/Amidala parts of the film. I won't comment on most of them, because often it'd spoil parts of the movie for those who haven't seen it...but I will comment on one thing. *SPOILER WARNING* Anakin's attack on the Tusken Raiders was horribly handled--in my opinion, the attack should not have happened in this film, especially not if it is going to be ignored for most of the rest of the movie, outside of one single scene. I'm not saying that it should've been the focus of the rest of the film, but the writing seemed to suggest that watchers are expected to look at Anakin in the same way they always have...when he's just slaughtered an entire camp, men, women, AND children. *END SPOILER* In any case, "Attack of the Clones" is worth watching, if only to form your own opinion on the film. It was certainly entertaining, which is all I really ask for when I go to a movie...but in the end, it is only a decent sci-fi action film, that had so much potential to be better--not because of the Star Wars name, but because of the honestly great idea for the general plot. Oh, yes, I also feel obligated to mention that Yoda is great.
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Overall, a very flat film
Don't get me wrong--"Clash of the Titans" is an entertaining enough film at times, and I didn't feel like I'd wasted my time watching it...but, having heard it praised a great deal over my life, I have to say I was disappointed. The special effects aren't the problem--not only were they actually quite good for the most part, but I've never had a problem getting into even films with awful special effects, so long as the acting and/or writing is good (old Star Trek episodes, anyone?). The problem in this film is that the acting is, quite frankly, wooden and emotionless. The actors portraying the gods do a good job...just about everyone else is unconvincing...to the point of taking a person right out of the film. It isn't so much that they're actively bad as it is that they're just...boring. Bad acting is fun to watch--I can at least have fun "MSTing" it. Boring acting isn't...it's just drab, not bad enough to give me allegedly witty comments to make about it, but not good enough to be worth watching. That's where most of the actors in this film rest, particularly the lead male, playing Perseus. The writing is pretty sloppy at times, too...for a few examples, we're told that Medusa's blood is poisonous, and that if anyone touches it they'll die...but we're never told, to my knowledge, that it also happens to be able to be used to turn little scorpions into big scorpions for a fighting sequence that seems only placed in there so one of the main characters can get killed (which inspires, unsurprisingly, no emotion from Perseus). For another example--we build up to Pegasus for the entire movie, and it's finally freed and used by Perseus...and is knocked out of the sky moments into the fight. Unless I'm recalling things incorrectly (which is possible, it's been a while since I saw the film), Perseus proceeds to defeat the monster without Pegasus' help. If you're going to put a supernatural winged horse into the film and build to the hero using it for half the movie, you really should have it actually be useful for more than just the basic transportation to the final battle. Yes, there /should/ be a remake of this...or rather, another film based on the same Greek myths. Ancient mythology contains a lot of great stories, and they deserve better films than this as representation. Overall, a decent film, but not deserving of the term "classic" by any means.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
A true classic
"Gone With the Wind" is one of those films that I've had recommended to me for most of my life, but had never actually gotten around to seeing...until recently. Let me establish that I am not, by any means, a romantic guy. Unquestionably, the genre this film would be placed in is that of Romance, or possibly Romantic Drama if you want to be really specific. But...in another review (Star Wars Episode II) I mentioned films that rise above their genre and become something more, something nearly everyone can enjoy. "Gone With the Wind" is one of those films. The story surrounds Scarlet O'Hara, and her struggle to survive and regain the style of life that the Civil War took from her. She starts out as a manipulative, largely false and uncaring young woman, whose only real care in life is to get her way. She is "in love" with Ashley Wilkes, largely, in my opinion, because she can't have him. Ashley is a nice enough man, but he certainly isn't the type for Scarlet. In the beginning of the film, the characters are nicely established. The acting is top-notch, the writing is excellent, and this is one of those films you just have to see to believe. This is another of those films that I really can't comment on too much without giving away parts of the plot, so at this point I'd advise you to stop reading if you don't want to risk having something given away to you. SPOILER WARNING. Now, my philosophy on the film--you aren't supposed to like Scarlet. She is manipulative. She is shallow. She rarely shows compassion for others unless it will get her something in return. She lures two prospective husbands away from other girls via lies and false affection (not that the men aren't partially at fault there) and then basically makes the men miserable for what little time they live afterwards. That's simply the way she is for most of the film--a person who uses the misery of others, from slaves to prisoners to her husbands, to enhance her own life. Ashley says it himself in the later parts of the film, commenting that her use of prisoners in her business is wrong, that she should hire people (and, incidentally, that he'd intended to free his family's slaves when his father died and they became his, if the war hadn't done it first). Her entire life is focused around getting something she cannot have--Ashley Wilkes. He is husband to Melanie (who is, incidentally, a sweet and kind woman who sacrifices herself for everyone else, and eventually dies because she gave too much of herself). Scarlet is living in a fantasy world, where everything revolves around her, and refuses to accept that things will not go her way. In the middle of the film, this gives her strength, and allows people to survive...but once her home is safe, she becomes unbearable again. She never changes, never realizes that the needs of other people matter too. Even poor Rhett (who, to be fair, is quite the manipulative and false man himself, and is certainly not without fault) is manipulated by her, constantly pushed aside despite doing everything he can to show her his love, until finally his heart is broken and he can take no more. The end of the film, where Scarlet finally turns to Rhett after Ashley finally musters up the will to tell her "no" for good, isn't uplifting..."Tommorrow is another day" isn't hopeful. It's tragic. Scarlet still cannot accept the loss of something she wanted. Rhett will never return to her, because she's caused him too much pain, but she will keep on trying, manipulating people, because she is still unable to let other people's needs go ahead of her own. Maybe it's just my way of seeing it (I /have/ been told that I "missed the point," that somehow Scarlet's manipulation should be accepted because it is a search for security--I feel that's a reason, but not an excuse)...but in any case, I immensely enjoyed "Gone With the Wind," despite hating Scarlet, and any movie that can inspire me to write for this long on just one of its many characters and points, on just a small part of the film, is certainly worth a look. Watch and enjoy.
Kaubôi bibappu (1998)
On another level...
The story of four bounty hunters (and a dog) and their adventures over various planets, Cowboy Bebop rises to a different level, above almost any other anime I've seen--Record of Lodoss War being the sole exception to this point. The storytelling is excellent--each episode is obviously carefully written, the personalities of the characters ringing true, the plotlines intricate and interesting. Apart from Record of Lodoss War, this is the only anime--in fact, the only show in general--that I've been able to watch without seeing a single episode I didn't like. Even the worst Cowboy Bebop episode is very entertaining, and all get the viewer involved with the characters. If I have one complaint, it's that Cowboy Bebop is too short...at the end, I didn't want to leave Spike or the others behind yet. Especially Ein. Cute pup. Favorite episodes, for the curious: "Sympathy for the Devil," "Ballad of Fallen Angels," "Black Dog Serenade," and "The Real Folk Blues (2-part)." Ideally, I'd just list about every one, but that would defeat the purpose of listing my favorites... In any case, watch this show! Start to finish, it's an amazing ride.
One of the funniest films ever.
Shrek is a very, very entertaining film. There have been many attempts to take the classic fairy-tale genre and stand it on its head, going back to "Fractured Fairy Tales" on the old "Rocky and Bullwinkle" cartoon (and probably further, but that's the first I saw), but none succeeds so magnificently as Shrek. The film takes the classic theme of a princess trapped in a castle and guarded by a dragon, and a prince who sees her in a magic mirror and wants her for his wife--and adds an ugly, rude, yet oddly lovable ogre, sent /by/ said prince, as the hero. Add huge groups of fairy tale characters and references to classic stories, Eddie Murphy as a wise-cracking donkey--I'm sure the directors just let him talk about whatever he wanted to and just found a way to work it in--gloriously brilliant comedic lines, outlandish situations (Shrek's little wrestling exhibition is great, and the Dewlock(sp?) song kills me every time) and the fact that the plot is actually quite good in and of itself, and you have an instant classic. A few too many crude jokes bring the rating down a bit for me, but the movie is still absolutely brilliant.
Surprised the heck out of me.
I won't deny it...I went into FF:TSW expecting visually stunning animation and not much else. (When will I learn not to go into films with any expectations, good or bad?) What I got was far from one of the best films I've ever seen, but still very, very entertaining. As I've stated in other reviews, I don't like to comment on animation unless I have nothing else to talk about. So I won't. Final Fantasy's story is good--the general idea is great, and very creepy in general. It does, however, seem very rushed...particularly at the beginning of the film, which is especially distressing since if you miss one thing out of all the stuff they've got to establish, you simply won't understand any of the rest of the movie and will likely despise it for the rest of your life. If you /do/ manage to get all the little details the movie throws out, the rest of the plot actually makes sense, and believe me, movies are a lot more entertaining when they make sense. There are still moments when the plot seems rushed, and there's certainly more they could do with it, but in general it's a nice, suspenseful ride. The voice acting is pretty good. Some of the lines seem forced, but most of the dialogue sounds very natural, making it a lot easier to suspend disbelief and get wrapped up in the story. The action sequences are probably the least important part of this film, but they are amazingly well-done. I guess I can't talk about choreography, really, with a film made in this way, but whatever the term, the action flows extremely well, and the characters in them show more emotion and involvement than a lot of live-action stars. It evades the problem I have with a lot of action films...scenes in which the fighters/runners/whatever have looks on their faces that just scream, "We're just running through memorized choreography, not actually battling for our lives." I suppose the emotion might be easier to show with an animated character who doesn't have to concentrate on finding his spots and all, but even so, I have to give the FF guys credit for showing it.
You may have wondered why I haven't commented on the games yet. Yes, I've played them. Yes, I like them. No, I won't comment on how strictly the film sticks to their concept or how far it strays from them. This film should be judged purely by its own merits, not by its relationship to the games, just as each new FF game should be judged on its own, not compared to the rest of the FF series. If a film or game is a remake of something, I'll compare it to the old one...if not (and this film isn't) I'll let it stand on it's own...which Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within can certainly do. It isn't a masterpiece, it isn't a great film, but it is certainly good and well worth watching. Oh, heck, one comment on the animation. Magnificent. There. And one on the soundtrack. Great. There. Okay, now I'm done.
Out of the three DBZ films I've seen--Dead Zone, The World's Strongest, and Tree of Might--The World's Strongest is the one I most enjoyed. The plot is decent enough: evil guy tries to take over the world, Goku and pals have to stop him...there's a little bit in there about Goku's rival/ally, Piccolo, getting mind controlled and having to fight Goku. This all leads up to some nice, fast-paced action with the least stalling ever featured in DBZ. ^_^ What's really great about the action in this film is that unlike most other DBZ stuff, it concentrates mostly on martial arts rather than the flying and massive blasts of power and charging up that is the center of the action on the TV show. The martial arts action is very well-animated, and the fights manage to be very dramatic for the most part. Now for the bad. Gohan...sings...a...song...in...honor...of...Piccolo. I will never get those few minutes of my life back. "Di di di, Pic-co-lo..."
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Sorry...having flashbacks. That is seriously one of the most screwed-up, insane songs in the world and I worry that the people who made that sequence were on some sort of mind-altering substance...there is no other explanation for its existance. Anyway, fast-forward past THAT insanity and this is a film you should enjoy.
Dragon Ball Z with the loooooong stalls cut out...
Entertaining. Didn't have a lot of substance, but it has a lot of good animation and fighting action. The plot is halfway decent, but don't even try to fit it into the DBZ timeline...apparently this is after Frieza, but Goku can't go Super Saiya-jin. I think. In any case, the fights are excellent, the dubbing is pretty nice, and this film really shows how exciting DBZ could be if they cut the trademark DBZ Long Stalling/Charge-up Sequences out of the cartoon, and maybe half the episodes...anyway, in general, it's pretty nice.
Doragon bôru Z (1989)
That's all I can really say about this film. It's DBZ...like Tree of Might and The World's Strongest, it really...doesn't fit into the timeline for the show at all, though it is supposedly placed just before the beginning of the TV series. The action is pretty nice in general. The plot has a nice enough base, with a good background establishing why these guys hate each other and all. Pretty good in general, there... The problem is...there's a lot of really weird stuff. I mean, really weird stuff. Like The World's Strongest, there's a really, really odd song in this one that could only have been created in a drug induced haze...disturbing is the fact that Gohan, while singing, is pretty much drugged out himself. Creepy. The villains are odd and rather comical...moreso than the usual DBZ type--this seems more like it was made as a Dragon Ball movie rather than a Dragon Ball Z movie. In general, its entertaining enough, but...just...strange.
The Shield (2002)
Bear in mind that at this point, I've only seen the first episode of this new TV series, and in general, a first episode can't be taken as a definite indication of where the series is going to go, quality-wise. With that in mind, the first episode was excellent, and if this FX series can keep up this quality, they'll have a major hit on their hands. The show featured excellent acting all around, from the lead characters to the druggie playing...I think it was Crazy Taxi. Love that game, though I suspect smoking pot would reduce one's performance on it. Of course, smoking pot would also likely make one not care about one's performance on it, so take that for what you will. Okay...back to the show. The Shield looks to be an excellent police drama, well written, well acted, and just generally good all around. Yes, it deserves a "mature" rating, but in general this episode didn't show nudity or extreme violence in excess, nor was foul language used so much that it became idiotic rather than a legitimate tool for establishing characters and emotional reactions. If I had to complain about something, it'd be that the show seemed to move way too fast. I'm not going to put spoilers in, but I'll just say that certain things happened in this episode that would've made a far bigger impact in a later episode, and certain plotlines have been closed off as a result that might've been entertaining. However, other ones have been opened up that should be just as entertaining, so this hopefully won't develop into a big problem. In any case, if The Shield keeps going along the path it started to travel in the first episode, it should be an exciting series. I know I'll keep watching it.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is an effective mix of the classic Castlevania series gameplay and RPG elements, such as experience levels and variable equipment. It features a well-written story, the tale of Alucard, Dracula's son, and his attempt to stop his father's evil deeds. I know there's a lot of people out there that think that video games can't have good plots or affect people emotionally--they're just games, right? Hey, guess what, we've moved beyond Pong now. ^_^ Symphony of the Night is just one of many games with an excellent story (Ogre Battle 64, Final Fantasy IV and VI, Secret of Mana, Silent Hill, Golden Sun, Lufia I and II, and the Breath of Fire series come to mind in particular...), and that only adds to the gameplay experience. It is not, of course, without its problems...for instance, the horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible voice-acting. Did they just do it in five minutes, the day before the game's release, or what? Alucard sounds good. Everyone else is really, really bad, to the point that I would mute the TV when voice acting came up. In a game this excellent otherwise, that particular flaw really stands out. Still, other than the voice acting, Symphony of the Night is a thoroughly excellent game.
The Musketeer (2001)
Well, it had the stunts. That was nice. But...everything else was pretty awful. I mean, really...just...awful. The acting was incredibly forced and unnatural, the plot somehow managed to turn a classic novel into something nearly unwatchable, and in general, every time something happened on screen, my reaction was, "Eh." That pretty much sums up the film...there's just no content whatsoever outside of the nice-looking stunts. Basically a film you can watch, look at the stunts, say, "That looked nice," and move on with your life. Fast-forward through the rest...don't get caught watching it where you can't, in a theater or on TV, or you'll be bored during the stuff that doesn't involve swordfighting on top of wobbly ladders or rolling barrels. Eh.
Pay It Forward (2000)
Bittersweet is definitely the right word.
Pay It Forward is one of those films for me...you know, the kind that you hear good things about for a long time, but never get around to seeing, until you see the DVD or video in a store and just buy it off the shelf on a whim, to find out that gee, all those people were right? I love this film. It features an outstanding plot, with characters that really become real to the viewer...lovely performances from Haley Joel Osment and Helen Hunt, who I've seen in other films and enjoyed watching, as well as from Kevin Spacey and Jay Mohr, who I haven't seen as often but look forward to watching. Pay It Forward is a tale that will definitely move and astonish you, and is a particularly great film to watch with a group...a thoroughly entertaining and heartfelt film.
Wo hu cang long (2000)
A good, intriguing film.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is an interesting film...engrossing and entertaining, it has a style few other films have. I doubt most people went to see it because they heard the plot was good...but it is. In general, it's a very nicely written and acted film, with a sort of mythological or fairy tale feel to it that few films have managed to put on screen successfully. There's a sort of art to everything...even the fights, while brutal at times, are always fluid and dance-like. There are a few problems. First, the fact that the fights are dance-like, while making them beautiful in some ways, also removes some of the emotional impact of the battle in others. Some of the battles come off more as martial arts exhibitions than actual life-or-death struggles, which can take away from the enjoyment of the film and emotion of the plot. Some parts of the plot are a bit simplistic, as well, and just could've been more intricate, more involving. Still, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a very entertaining and powerful film, in a style that I've never really seen before, but would like to see more of.
The Patriot (2000)
The Patriot is the thrilling story of one man's battle to avenge the murder of his son at the hands of a British officer...his fight against British forces, in battle after battle, drawing closer and closer to the man he wants to fight with the aid of his men and another of his sons. It is the story of a man's struggle to keep his family alive in a time of war and destruction...war and destruction? Oh, yeah, that American Revolution thing. The American Revolution takes a back seat in this story, which is a good thing, because quite frankly we know how it ended. The main plot of The Patriot is Martin vs. Tavington, with the rest of the war running along in the background. This results in a stunning story of a hero who never wanted to be a hero, whose strength threatens to run out at every turn, but who pushes on through trial after trial, hoping to fulfil his goals. It is a brilliant story, with masterful acting from the cast and intricate fight sequences that mix tactical combat, huge armies, and single man-to-man fighting as few films can. That is to say, it's done well. The Patriot is a great film, and one that I would recommend to anyone.
WWE Monday Night RAW (1993)
Ah, pro wrestling...
Pro wrestling...as a friend of mine said one time, it's the only type of program where you can screw up consistently for weeks on end, only to get one thing right and keep everyone watching. I don't have quite as awful an outlook on the program as he does, perhaps, but I can recognize that the vast majority of pro wrestling plotlines are poorly written, filled with laughable dialogue and complete rejection of continuity. But hey, they're still better than Snipes' Art of War. I still watch...for one thing, the in-ring portion of the show is usually an exciting stunt-fest, and a lot of the performers are really quite skilled at making the fights look believable these days. Much better than the cornball superhero antics I remember from the 80s. With better writing, I'm sure that the shows could be entertaining all around, rather than just in the ring. For proof, I can look to the few times good writing has been present in wrestling. 2001's Rock-Jericho fued was incredible, one of the few times I've actually been able to get into a plotline and enjoy the story. One guy (Rock) is an acknowledged champion, the other (Jericho) has a reputation for blowing the big match. So Jericho fights the Rock to try to prove he's got what it takes, and as they fight, he slowly gets more and more irritated by suggestions that he's not as good as everyone else, until finally he snaps. Pretty nice story, there. It didn't hurt that The Rock and Chris Jericho are pretty good actors. (Incidentally, I'm really hoping that The Scorpion King turns out to be a good film.) Or what about the current Undertaker-Ric Flair storyline? That's another entertaining plot. Sadly, most plots are like the current Triple H-Jericho-Stephanie storyline...up until recently, that was good too, but it has since descended into the realms of idiocy...poop jokes? Running over a dog? Promos based on Triple H and Stephanie's respective sexual prowess? It's this kind of thing that gives wrestling its reputation as a horrible show that only people of low IQ and low moral standards watch. Every now and then, there's a really good moment...and because of that, I, like lots of other people, keep coming back to watch more. But if the writers would actually try their best the entire time, maybe wrestling could be consistently exciting and involving, instead of being laughable most of the time.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
A cinematic masterpiece
This movie is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. It is a work of art, an wonderful, emotional experience and a true classic. There's really not much more to say...the acting is excellent, particularly from young Haley Joel Osment, who had a hard task in portraying the extremely deep character of Cole Sear. Bruce Willis, as well, gives an outstanding performance in the best role I've seen him in before or since. At once touching, suspenseful, joyous, sad, and shocking, The Sixth Sense is a movie everyone should see at least once. Don't let its categorization by some as a horror movie scare you away...it isn't a horror movie. It's a drama, and one of the greatest ones of all at that.
The Art of War (2000)
Seemingly advertised as a psychological spy thriller with lots of twists and turns, Art of War ends up being just another action movie, and not even a good one at that. Just about everything in this film has been done far better someplace else--the general plot in Mission: Impossible, the special effects and stunts in The Matrix (where they actually made sense), the fighting action and gunplay in any given John Woo film...Art of War is a completely underwhelming experience any way it's viewed. The story is poor, mostly a Mission: Impossible ripoff with the intelligence taken out and replaced with lots and lots of bloodshed and wanton violence. The characters, through no fault of the actors for the most part, are one-dimensional and seem very fake, thus being impossible to care about in any way. When good things happened, I didn't care. When bad things happened, I didn't care. When the big, secret, unexpected villain was revealed, I didn't care, in part because I'd predicted with no doubt what would happen in the opening minutes of the film. So had most of the people near me in the theater. To those who say, "Well, it's an action movie, just turn off your brain and enjoy it," I say that there is no reason an action movie should be any less well-written than a drama. Mission: Impossible II had a nice plot, and characters I could care about. So did The Matrix. Even Hard Boiled had more real characters than this. Filmmakers--the plot is important too. Maybe in a couple more years I'll be able to put aside my disappointment with this and forget how much I was hoping it'd be good, but for now, this film actually angers me, almost two years after I saw it.
Mission: Impossible II (2000)
Suspensful and exciting
Two crafty and skilled spies go head to head in an exciting action film from director John Woo. MI2 is an adrenaline rush, plain and simple. Woo's experience in crafting brilliant action sequences and insane stunts is combined with a nice, involving storyline and characters the viewer cares about to create an excellent film. There are some edge-of-your-seat scenes in this, and it's seriously a thrill to watch. It isn't without it's problems...some of the high-tech gadgets are rather unbelievable, for instance, but not in such a way as to seriously hurt the film. Also, the introduction to the plot (and indeed the plot in general) seems rather rushed...spending a little more time on that could've made the movie even more entertaining. Still, overall, it's an excellent film that I really enjoyed watching.
Tolkien done right.
Oh, man. I have seen this movie, now, five times. I absolutely cannot get over how incredible it is. Having read Tolkien's books, and loved them (read them if you haven't, they're excellent), I was dreading this film when I heard it was being made. I remembered the animated film from 1978, and how it almost stopped me from reading Tolkien when I saw it, and I hoped desperately that this film wouldn't scare people away from the books like that did me. Then I saw it. Whoa. This film is incredible. For the story and ideas, of course, credit must be given to Tolkien, but the way the characters come alive on screen is amazing, and a credit to the masterful acting and directing of the crew involved in this film. It is powerful and moving, a masterpiece that everyone involved should be immensely proud of. While it does have its problems (every film does), they are small and few, and do not take away from the picture. Cuts obviously had to be made, but in very few scenes could I notice them BEING made (and I've read Tolkien's great series many times). It's amazing what attention has been paid to detail...Tolkien's descriptions for things have been carefully kept used, and if you watch, you can catch small details that the crew didn't even really have to put in, but did anyway--for instance, look for a troll that was turned to stone from The Hobbit in one scene... Excellent soundtrack, too. Wow. And the Balrog is scary. Very scary. Shadow and flame...I'll say. It's The Lord of the Rings, an epic fantasy masterpiece finally brought correctly to the screen...don't take my word for it, see it yourself! You'll be missing out on a lot if you don't.
An excellent film.
Dragonheart...this may still be my favorite film, even years after its release...only The Sixth Sense fights with it for that position at this point, though the new Lord of the Rings series may join the battle if the other two hold true to the promise of the first film. Dragonheart is the moving tale of a knight that has lost his way and his hope, and the dragon who brings it back to him. Friendship, faith, honor, and trust are the themes, and the film explores them excellently, telling a story that brings the viewer into its world. Dragonheart is, quite simply, a wonderful film.
Lat sau san taam (1992)
Hard Boiled has a reputation as an action masterpiece. I recently had the opportunity to see it, and I have to say it's definitely a good film. The action is excellent, with stunts and choreography that blow the viewer's mind. Some incredible things are put in this film, and everyone obviously tried their best, which is very nice to see. With that in mind, however, I do have some problems with it. I am NOT denying its status as an excellent action film--but for all that, it is still only an action film, not going much deeper than most. For me, great action alone does not a movie make. The plot has a decent enough basis...cop takes on criminals, avenging his partner, meeting up with an undercover man inside, etc. There are actually a great number of subplots, as well. The problem is, none of the plots are adequately explored, which gave the film a sort of half-finished feel, as though John Woo (for whom I have tremendous respect) had finished the action sequences but had to release the film before the acting for the rest of the stuff could be revised. Certain parts of the film are just laughably done as a result...it might have helped the film if the number of subplots had been reduced, and the main plot alone emphasized, making it easier to go deeper into things. Hard Boiled ends up, for me, as some outstanding action scenes held together only loosely by a plot that seems grounded in good ideas, but never really uses them much. It is still an entertaining film, but won't go down as one of the greatest in my book.
The Lord of the Rings (1978)
I first watched this animated film a long time ago when I was in sixth grade (I have since had the...opportunity...to see it again). I had not yet read Tolkien's books. After seeing this film, I almost didn't want to. The only reason I still DID was to find out if they were this bad. (Thankfully, the books are excellent, and I'm very glad I read them.) I am not going to comment on the animation or drawing or colors (except in regards to how characters act or are portrayed), because generally I don't comment on those even if they're bad unless I don't have much else to talk about. Special effects and the like do not alone a movie make, nor do they alone a movie destroy. ;-) Besides, this one has plenty of other stuff to destroy it. First, condensing the Fellowship of the Ring and half of The Two Towers into one film was a bad idea. Even the recent live action version, doing only one book, had to cut a lot of stuff. This cut a lot more, and in worse places. The opening is blazed through with cuts from scene to scene so sudden I couldn't follow what was going on even after I'd read the books (Several times. I love Tolkien.). Gandalf seems very...creepy, which is very strange, because I've always taken him as a somewhat friendly, if a bit mysterious, type. He waves his arms at every single opportunity, which is...uh...odd. (Not an animation problem, a portrayal problem.) In the book, I cried at his fall. In this...it's kind of an "eh." Aragorn, as well, is far too mysterious...the first scene with him is alright as far as that goes, but the hobbits are supposed to be friends with him after a little while, and that never happens. He's also the world's worst swordsman--and not because of bad animation, because better fighting is shown throughout the film. He just screws up every time he draws his sword. Boromir. Don't even get me started on Boromir. How did they get the idea he was a Viking? I think they were really trying to hammer home the point that he was going to do something bad, too, because he's consistently nasty and mean throughout the movie, while in the book he really seems like a nice enough guy up until he snaps, and right afterwards he pretty much goes back to being a decent guy. In the book, I cried when he died (and still do, each time I read it). In this...I just didn't really have any reaction. It wasn't that I hated him or anything, I just didn't really care. Legolas. Legolas seems decent enough to me. Gimli. Nothing too terribly wrong, really...but for the fact that he's as tall as everyone else. Uh...does the word "dwarf" suggest anything to you? Hobbits. Seem pretty much fine, except for Sam. Sam is 1) Ugly, 2) Stupid, 3) Clumsy and 4) Homosexual. None of these four are suggested by the books. Gollum. "Gollum" is a noise he makes in his throat in his lines, guys, not a word. Kind of a "trouble swallowing" sort of thing. Listen to Tolkien reading "The Hobbit" if you're having trouble figuring that out. With most monsters, my only comments would be on the way they were drawn, so I'll restrain myself. The Black Riders, however, should not have been limping like old horror movie zombies. These guys are supposed to be frightening. They seem almost comical. The acting is awful. Just plain awful. No emotion is shown at any point of the film, in any fashion. "Saruman" is pronounced "Aruman," which I wouldn't have a problem with...except that they only do it some of the time, like they couldn't decide. Just flip a coin if you're having trouble, guys. With problems like these, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that the film simply doesn't involve the watcher in the plot at all. I tried. Believe me, I tried to care about any of the characters, but I couldn't. In only one scene--the Helm's Deep battle--was I getting slightly pulled into things, and even then, it was broken up every time I saw Aragorn's awful swordsmanship. This movie is a terrible interpretation of Tolkien's works, and I'm very glad the crew was unable to complete the destruction with the second part of The Two Towers and The Return of the King. If I'd seen those I'm pretty sure I would never have read Tolkien, and thus I would have missed out on quite possibly the best books I have ever read in my life. Somehow, the makers of this film managed to take something that good and turn it into one of the most awful cinematic experiences of my life.