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5/10
The Amazing Spider-man 2 A Mixed Bag
25 May 2014
The Amazing Spider-man 2 is a mixed bag there are some things I did like and others not so much which I will get into later. First off I'm not sure if Marc Webb is the right director for Spider-man. There was a lot of talking in this movie that didn't really go anywhere and not much action. Andrew Garfield really does embody Peter Parker/Spider-man. They got that aspect of the character down right. Emma Stone puts in a good performance as Gwen Stacy in her limited screen time. Jamie Foxx does what he can as Max Dillion who later becomes the villain Electro. Same goes for Dane DeHaan who pulls off a convincing performance as Harry Osborn. The rest of the cast including Sally Field and a brief appearance by Chris Cooper as Norman Osborn do the best they can with what little they were given. The action scenes are well staged when there is some but are very short and there isn't many of them. Maybe 5-6 action scenes tops throughout the film. Now onto the bad. Some of the dialogue isn't the greatest but this is coming from the writers of Transformers so don't expect anything like Nolans Batman trilogy. Electro was a cool villain visually development wise not so much. He did resemble Dr Manhattan from Watchmen I liked it nonetheless though. Unfortunately Electro spends most of the second half locked up after his first fight with Spider-man during the Times Square sequence. Foxx tried to elevate the material and gain sympathy from the audience but I blame the script and was given a couple cheesy lines. He did have godlike powers and they could have done so much more with the character. What was the point of having a powerful villain like that just to sideline him for the most of the movie till near the end. Just didn't make a lot of sense. DeHaan's Harry was actually well developed throughout the film but his Goblin is rushed and only gets at the most 3-5 minutes of screen time near the end. It's nothing more than a glorified cameo. He gets a brief fight with Spidey and then he's rather easily defeated like Electro. It's a shame because his look and laugh as Goblin was quite sinister. I didn't feel much of anything when Gwen met her fate because I just wasn't emotionally invested in the characters. They should've saved that for the next film and perhaps had Harry become the Goblin in a mid credits scene or something. I understand they're building up to the Sinister Six but it seemed like they were trying to hard to set things up for future sequels instead of just focusing on telling a coherent story. Paul Giamatti who I consider to be a good actor in other movies hammed it up way too much as the Rhino. He was just kinda stupid to me and his attempt at a Russian accent is dreadful. I couldn't understand almost a word he said luckily his character is limited to just 2 scenes. He wasn't pivotal to story besides providing the film with a few quick action scenes and to show the type of criminals Spider-man has been facing since the end of the first film. I really wanted to enjoy this movie but after it was over I was like that's it and just felt disappointed. Even though I had no expectations it was still a major letdown but that's just me.
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Godzilla (2014)
8/10
Godzilla is back and better than ever
25 May 2014
Godzilla is back and better than ever. Director Gareth Edwards does a great job of bring this movie to life despite some flaws which I'll get into later. The cast did a good job with what they were given. Aaron Taylor Johnson wasn't as bad as I think some critics made him out to be. His performance isn't Oscar worthy but he's alright as the main character Ford Brody. Ken Wanatabe, Elisabeth Olsen, David Straithan, Juliette Binoche, and Bryan Cranston were believable as their characters. Cranston and Binoche roles however are cut rather short. The special effects are incredible. Godzilla himself and the MUTO's felt very real for a film about giant prehistoric creatures that thrived during a time when the Earth was highly radioactive. I think Godzilla was in it just enough. I'd say he gets maybe 20-25 minutes of screen time mostly during the 2nd half and the climax. The build up to Godzilla's appearance was effective and his atomic fire breath is awesome. So was his roar. He makes his first appearance about 45-50 mins into it. I liked the glimpses we got of him before the full reveal at the Hawaii airport scene. Godzilla's look closely resembled his original one with some differences. The Kaiju fights between him and the MUTO's were cool although there could've been a little more of them. Their fierce final showdown at the end was worth the wait. Some of the characters weren't really developed but it's just a minor criticism. There's action scenes throughout to keep you on the edge and entertained. Overall I really enjoyed it a lot more than the Amazing Spider-man 2 so far this year. I recommend it to any looking for a good monster movie to watch that delivers.
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5/10
Resident Evil AfterLife Is Okay But Not The Greatest
2 January 2011
Resident Evil Afrerlife is okay but not the greatest that has flaws which I'll get into later from writer/director Paul Anderson. It's the fourth film in the Resident Evil series.

Milla Jovovich reprises her role as Alice the unstoppable killing machine heroine and she's perfect as the character who can still kick some serious ass while looking beautiful doing it. I just wish they had given her more to do -acting wise- than just killing countless undead zombies and various monsters (includine one with a giant axe) most likely created by the Umbrella Corporation.

Ali Larter also returns as Claire Redfield from the third film who joins Alice once again in her quest to find survivors. Larter does what her role requires and she gets a decent action scene near the end.

Wentworth Miller plays Claire's brother Chris who unfortunately doesn't really serve any real purpose except as a nod to die Resident Evil game fans. Miller's performance isn't that bad it's just his character isn't really developed or his relationship with Claire.

Shawn Roberts seemed to be doing his best Agent Smith from the Matrix impression as the villain Albert Wesker unless thats how his character acts in the games. He gets two scenes the beginning and the end so for somebody who's supposed to be the main villain he's not in that much at all. His fight at the end between Claire and Chris felt anti-climatic. Not to mention it doesn't last very long either. A third act that had the same problem some other films (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Transformers 2 to name a few) did as well when the main bad guy is easily defeated within a few minutes.

The rest of the cast including Kim Coates, Boris Kodjoe, and a brief cameo by Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine are okay but none of them are given any development, substance, or depth.

The action sequences are okay but nothing we haven't seen before and there's no tension or suspense. The fact that there's no humor didn't help either. The zombies are all right despite not getting half as much screen time as they did in the previous three films. The monster with the huge Axe was decent despite just showing up with no explanation something a lot of the creatures do.

And what was the purpose of taking away Alice's powers early on if it doesn't have any effect at all besides turning her human again? Because a minute later she somehow survives a plane crash in the mountains and apparently walks away without a scratch. This just didn't make a whole lot of sense like many other things. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief when it comes to movies but only to a point.

The ending was predictable and a cameo by a certain character during the credits seemed a little pointless expect to set up for another sequel. At 97 minutes Resident Evil Afterlife wasn't that bad it just suffers from the sequel curse by cramming too much into one movie. The film seemed to be made purely for the action which may please some but I like to have a compelling story with well developed character, drama, emotion, suspense, and humor to go along with the spectacle.
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Iron Man 2 (2010)
6/10
Iron Man 2 A Bit Disappointing But Decent
29 September 2010
Iron Man 2 is a bit disappointing yet decent comic book sequel. Don't get me wrong it's okay but there's was too much talking and not enough action. I enjoyed Inception this summer a lot more than this one. Robert Downey is solid as Tony Stark but even he can't save this from being a bit of a disappointment compared to the first one. He's everything Tony Stark should be and is still a perfect choice for the character none the less. Gwyneth Paltrow does what she can as Pepper Popps despite not having a whole lot to do.

Don Cheadle is all right as Jim Rhodes and War Machine who's involved in the action more than the previous one. Scarlet Johannson is decent as Natalie Rushman/The Black Widow who like Paltrow doesn't have much to do except for a third act action sequence which is okay while it lasts. Sam Rockwell is a good actor (Moon, and Machstick Men) but I actually found him to be rather annoying as Justin Hammer one of the villains if you want to call the role that. I think it was more the character than him who I thought is annoying. He wasn't menacing or threatening to Tony at all. Rockwell did however a bring some comic relief to the movie.

Mickey Rourke's underused as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash who is intimidating even with very little dialog and screen time. They could've done a lot more with his character who after an impressive display of destruction at the race track he takes a back seat for a large part of the movie particularly the second half. He shows up briefly near the end only to be dispatched as quickly as he appears. Whiplash didn't turn to be as much of a threat to Tony as he could've been.

Samuel L Jackson does his usual thing as Nick Fury in a small role considering he has only two scenes with Downey Jr. He's in it for five minutes tops to set up the upcoming Avengers movie and Kate Mara is wasted in an early cameo appearance. The story itself was kind of predictable, and the few action sequences were so-so but they missing that wow factor. Most of the action happens in the third act which turns out to be a bit of a letdown because it's over too fast. The only one that had any real intensity to it was at the race track when Rourke's Whiplash confronts Tony for the first time.

There's a lot of talking in the second half and almost no action except for a fight between a drunk Tony and Rhodes in Iron Man suits which weighed it down a bit. Not that there has to be constant explosions, fist fights, and violence every 10 minutes but some more spectacle would've made it better. And for a movie called Iron Man I was surprised about how little we actually see Stark in the suit. This movie suffered the same problem that Spider-man 3 had of trying to put too much into one film with mixed results. Actor/Director Jon Favreau is admirable in making this sequel despite it's flaws that further develops Downey's Tony Stark which isn't necessarily a bad thing but certain key characters (Potts, Rhodes, Black Widow, and Whisplash) unfortunately aren't given much development and lack screen time.

The fight at the end with Downey's Iron Man and Cheadler's War Machine facing off against Rourke's Wiplash is over in like 30 seconds was a big disappointment because it felt rushed. What was the point of him showing up after the drones were killed if he's just going to get killed off thirty seconds later. There wasn't any danger or suspense to speak of and dispatching the main villain in such a short battle at the end seemed like a wasted opportunity to show how dangerous he could be. Overall this movie really isn't that bad. Iron Man 2 has some action, drama, a little humor, and solid performances by the cast (Robert Downey Jr) for the most part it just could've been better.

The part with a drunk Tony in an Iron Man suit wasn't all that funny either. I prefer The Dark Knight over this sequel as far as comic book movies go because it delivered everything you could want or expect from one of those films. Iron Man 2 on the other hand wasn't as good as the original which is shame because I really wanted to like this movie but I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed after watching it.
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6/10
Clash Of The Titans Is Decent But With Flaws That Weigh It Down
22 September 2010
Class of the titans is decent but with flaws that weigh it down which I'll get into later. I thought it was all right but not the greatest. First off I didn't think it was very realistic that in a land full of bearded and long haired men Worthington's Perseus was clean shavin with a buzz cut. Worthington was okay as the lead but the role and performance seemed very familiar to Avatar and Terminator Salvation. Director Louis Letterier has shown in movies like Unleashed starring Jet Li and The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton his talent as a filmmaker. This on the other hand isn't the best movie he's directed at least not to me. I liked Unleashed and the new Hulk film more than this one. The rest of the cast is decent including Liam Nesson as Zeus, Ralph Fiennes as Hades, Gemma Atherton as Io, and Alexa Devalos as Andromeda with what little they were given because most of them don't have a whole lot to do (with the exception of maybe Fiennes and Atherton action wise anyway). Mads Mikkelsen was the stand out as Draco who gave the movie some much needed comic relief from time to time. Pete Posthewaite does what he can with his brief part. He's written out too quickly though for us to care about him. James Flemying is pretty good as Calibos/Acrisius despite a lack of development and screen time. Danny Huston makes a blink and you missed it cameo as Poseidon with one line of dialog before disappearing for the rest of the film. The dialog was weak occasionally and the movie itself as a whole felt rushed. The two most disappointing things were the Medusa creature and the Kraken mainly because they're hardly in the movie at all. The fight with Perseus and Hades at the end after The Kraken's dispatched was also a let down because it's over in the blink of an eye before you can enjoy the showdown between them. Some build up that doesn't have any real pay off. The Medusa action sequence was okay but the character gets 5 maybe 8 minutes of screen time tops before being killed off. The same can go for the Kraken that shows up near the climax to destroy a small portion of Argos and just when the terrifying beast's face is finally reveals it's easily defeated. It seemed like a total waste because it obviously took so much money to build this creature in a computer and to only show the Kraken for a few minutes was a big disappointment. This movie could've been a lot better. It has some character development (mainly Perseus), decent action sequences but none we haven't seen before, so-so acting from the cast and average special effects. The climatic final battle with the Kraken at the end however was a major let down. I actually thought Prince Of Persia was slightly better which had it's share of flaws but I found it to be more entertaining than this remake.
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Inception (2010)
10/10
Inception The Best and Most Original Film So Far This Year!
8 September 2010
Inception is the best and most original film so far this year. Writer/director Christopher Nolan has done it again given audiences everything they could ever want or expect from one of these movies. An intricate compelling story with plenty of spectacle, drama, and exceptional performances by the great ensemble cast. Nolan has proved with Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight his amazing talent as a filmmaker. This movie is no different. It's better to see Inception without knowing too much about the film. Leonard DiCaprio continues to show why he's one of Hollywood's best actors with his performance as Dom Cobb a dream thief or "Extractor" who enters the dreams of others and steals ideas from their subconscious. DiCaprio handles the emotional scenes very well and I wanted to see his character succeed this difficult task of planting an idea into someones mind instead of usually stealing one. The story of him wanting to reunite with his children was very much the emotional center which comes through in between the thrilling action sequences that are truly one of a kind. Ken Watanabe is solid as the mysterious businessman Saito "The Tourist" who offers Cobb the chance to get his life back by pulling off the difficult task of inception. Wanatabe's accent was a little strong at first but I could understand him better as the movie progressed you just have to listen carefully. Joseph Gordon Levitt is very impressive as Arthur "The Point Man" who gathers all the information on their "mark". Gordon Levitt's zero gravity hallway fight may not last long but the scene is an amazing sight to see on screen while it lasts. And the fact that he did most of it himself shows his commitment as an actor. Well done. Marion Collitard turns in a haunting performance as the projection of Cobb's deceased wife Mal making her somewhat dangerous yet sympathetic at times. Collitard had nice chemistry with DiCaprio in their scenes together making the love between their characters that much more believable. Ellen Page is good as Adrianne "The Architect" who helps the team create the dream world of their mark and navigate through that persons mind. She held her own against her co-stars and turned in a convincing performance. Tom Hardy is excellent as Eames "The Forger" who can change his appearance in the dream world of someone close to the "Mark." I haven't seen Hardy in much except the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers but he's very effective as Eames who can kick some serious ass when he wants to. He also got some of the best lines in the movie which he delivers perfectly. "I don't know. Not sure. See if he starts shooting at you. "You must not be afraid to dream a little bigger darling." Cillian Murphy shows he can play more than just villains as Robert Fischer "The Mark" who tries to be like his father. Murphy proves to be another great addition to the ensemble cast Nolan assembled for this ambitious film. Tom Berenger does the best he can with the small role of Fischer's godfather Peter Browning. And Michael Caine is a bit underused as Cobb's father in law Miles who taught him about dreams because his role is more of a cameo (considering he only has two scenes one near the beginning and another at the very end) but Caine is still effective as Miles none the less. The same can go for Lucas Haas who makes a brief extended appearance as Cobb's former Architect Nash. He still does a good job with his small part in the movie though. I honestly can't think of one weak link in the entire ensemble cast. The special effects are quite impressive which is used to the films advantage because they felt realistic with cities folding onto top of each other and slow motion shots that pulled you into the imaginary dream worlds Nolan created for Inception. The action sequences are crisp and thrilling with fist fights, gun battles, and chases that are mostly in full view so you can see whats happening on screen. The last hour or so is pretty much non-stop action but in a good way with the characters entering dreams within dreams to pull off their most challenging task yet Inception. In a summer of remakes and sequels it was nice to see something original for a change. Overall I can't think of one thing I didn't like about Inception. It's definitely the film to see and one not to be missed. So overall if you enjoy movies like this you can't go wrong with Inception. The pacing was fine which made the 148 minute running time fly by fast. I didn't once wonder how much longer was left. It has an interesting story, some character development (at least for Cobb), and drama while still being packed with exhilarating action especially the second half. So go watch this intelligent sci action thriller. You won't be disappointed.
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Green Zone (2010)
8/10
Green Zone An Intense Action Thriller
1 July 2010
Green Zone is an intense action thriller with some flaws which I'll get into later from director Paul Greengrass who's admirable in making this movie that raises some questions concerning why we entered the war in Iraq. Matt Damon turns in a solid performance as Chief Staff Sergeant Roy Miller who begins to question whether the intelligence they're receiving about weapons of mass destruction are reliable after failing to find any on more than one occasion. Some may believe Damon's just playing Jason Bourne but I didn't think that way. I found him to be very believable as Miller who's fed up with coming up empty handed and sets out to find the truth no matter where it may lead. Damon has proved in films like Invictus, The Departed, The Bourne trilogy, and Good Will Hunting, his talent as an actor. This film is no different. Well done. Greg Kinnear is decent as Clark Poundstone a representative for the Pentagon whose Intel about WMD'S (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq may not be as reliable as he claims it is. I consider Kinnear to be a talented actor and he's good as essentially the villain of the film but I just wish they gave him more to do. Kinnear however still turns in a good performance of a man who will do just about anything to protect the secret surrounding the intelligence that came from a confidential source only known as "Mangellan" about the WMD'S from being exposed. The same can go for Brendan Gleeson who's effective as CIA operative Martin Brown who like Miller begins to question whether or not the Intel about the weapons is true or fabricated by Poundstone. Gleeson's very good as Miller's ally in his quest to find the truth in a hostile foreign land where danger lurks behind every corner. Amy Ryan's convincing as journalist Lawrie Dayne who like Miller and Brown is also after the truth behind the WMD's in Iraq. I haven't seen Ryan in too many films but she continues to prove her talent as an actress with her performance in this one. Kinnear, Gleeson, and Ryan's screen time maybe limited but they're believable as their characters none the less. The rest of the cast including the real soldiers in Millers squad are also very effective and it was a wise move from Greengrass to use actual men from the military for those particular roles. The frenetic action sequences are well executed and paced which felt realistic for the most part. I admit the shaky camera movements did get a bit much at times because you couldn't really tell whats was going on but it worked for the film in a way to give Green Zone a documentary type feel. The 115 minute running time moved at a steady pace so it never dragged for me which some films tend to do like There Will Be Blood and Avatar to name a couple. I can't think of too much I didn't like about Green Zone except some characters (Kinnear, Gleeson, and Ryan) aren't really developed enough and don't have a whole lot to do because most of the focus is on Damon but they're still effective as the characters. Some questions are never answered and left ambiguous which worked for the movie I guess. So overall if you liked The Hurt Locker than chances are you'll enjoy this one too. Green Zone has a compelling story that raises some interesting questions, intense well paced action, drama, suspense, and solid performances by the cast (especially Damon, Kinnear, Gleeson, and Ryan) who make this film worth the time to watch.
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Invictus (2009)
9/10
Invictus An Excellent Drama Based On A True Story
20 June 2010
Invictus is an excellent drama based on a true story with great performances by the two lead actors who really bring their A game to this movie. Director Clint Eastwood continues to show audiences and critics that he's one of the best filmmakers in Hollywood with this one. Morgan Freeman is superb as always as Nelson Mandela who after being released from prison soon goes on to become the President of South Africa. Believing he can bring his divided people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela enlists the help of South African rugby Captain Francois Pienaar to make a run for 1995 World Cup Championship Match. Freeman is so convincing as the newly elected president Mandela. He turns in another great performance among many proving his talent as a veteran actor. Matt Damon is equally impressive as Pienaar the rugby Captain who rallies his teammates to achieve what seems impossible. Damon may not be as tall as the real Pienaar but like Freeman he becomes the character and turns in a solid performance none the less. Damon and Freeman played off each other very well in their scenes together making the growing friendship between their characters believable. The rest of the relatively unknown cast are also very good as the supporting characters in their limited screen time. I can't think of too much I didn't enjoy about this film because Invictus was much better than expected. I mean I heard it was supposed to be good but Invictus still impressed me with how well Eastwood put it together which like many other films I'm sure wasn't easy. The pacing is fine except the 134 minute running time did seem a little slow at times and the satisfying ending I sort of suspected but those are two tiny flaws because the good more than outweighs the bad in this one. The real locations they used added a lot to the film making you feel for the characters and their situation. The movie in the beginning had a documentary type feel as well which worked in it's favor. So overall if you're looking for inspiring drama based on a true story, Invictus is the movie for you. I plan to see this again sometime because I believe it's worth seeing more than once. It's a film about how the power of hope and forgiveness can unite country. Invictus has a similar compelling story, drama, a little humor, and exceptional performances by the cast (especially Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon) who make this movie worth the time to watch.
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Alice in Wonderland (I) (2010)
7/10
Alice In Wonderland A Decent Re-Imagining Of A Classic Tale
19 June 2010
Alice In Wonderland is a decent re-imaging of a class tale from director Tim Burton who does a good job of making this movie that might have flaws but I still enjoyed it for what the film was. Johnny Depp of course is excellent as always giving audiences a much different Mad Hatter than we've seen before. He's nearly unrecognizable under all the make up and the voice Depp came up with is fitting for this interpretation of the Mad Hatter. Depp brings his usual charisma to the part and his character may not appear for the first 30 minutes but luckily he's in it a lot more after that. Depp continues to show audiences and critics his talent as an actor in this one. Anne Hathaway is all right in her short screen time as The White Queen despite not having a whole lot to do. Hathaway does provide a little comic relief and she brings what she can to her small role in the film. Helena Bonham Carter is effective as the villainous Red Queen who seems to enjoy saying "Off with their head" when someone displeases her for any reason. Carter like Hathaway offers the film some humor and does what her roles requires. Crispin Glover is decent as The Red Queen's right hand man Stayne who likes big woman. He did seem to go a little over the top at times but Glover still turns in an okay performance. Newcomer Mia Wasikowska is impressive as 19 year old Alice who returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure. She holds her own against Depp, Hathaway, and Carter on screen in their scenes together. Wasikowski proves her talent as an actress with her performance as Alice who must find the strength within herself to put an end to the Red Queen's reign that has left a large portion of the imaginary world of Wonderland in ruins. The voice talents of Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Matt Lucas, and Timothy Spall are effective in their small roles that are more like cameos and extended appearances but they do what their roles require from them. Marton Csokas in a blink and you missed it cameo does what he can with his very brief part as Alice's father Charles. The rest of the relatively unknown cast are okay but no one stands out. The action which mostly happens in the second half and third act are well executed. The special effects are quite good even if you can tell most of it is obviously CGI. The world they created for the magical Wonderland however is just as impressive giving audiences a world where almost anything's possible. The pacing of the film was a little slow at times before the action started to kick into high gear, and some characters lacked development but there wasn't a whole lot I didn't enjoy about Alice In Wonderland. The second half set the stage for some action in the third act (the kind we've seen in Transformers, Iron Man, and X-Men 3 to name a few) which isn't necessarily a bad thing I guess because it's well executed. Overall Alice In Wonderland is a pretty good re-imaging of a famous tale that was better than expected. So if this sounds like a movie you'd enjoy, than chances are you'll have a good time watching it. Alice in Wonderland has a simple story, drama, action, some humor, a little suspense, and solid performances by the cast (especially Depp and Wasikowska) who make this movie worth the time to watch.
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The Wolfman (2010)
6/10
The Wolfman A Decent Horror Remake
19 June 2010
The Wolfman is a decent horror remake that has some flaws which I'll get into later but I thought the film's all right for what it is though. Director Joe Johnston is admirable in making this movie giving audiences just enough gore, blood, guts, and limbs being torn off for guilty pleasure. Benicio Del Toro is okay as the lead Laurnece Talbot an actor who returns to his ancestral homeland to uncover the truth of what happened to his brother Ben when he's found mauled to death by some bloody thirst animal on the rampage. Del Toro may not win any awards for the role and it it may not be his best performance but he's still good as the cursed Laurence none the less. The same can go for Anthony Hopkins as Laurence's estranged father Sir John who doesn't exactly seem too guilt stricken over the loss the loss of his son Ben. Hopkins is a great actor there's no denying that and he brings what he can to the role of John despite not being given a whole to do except for late in the third act. Emily Blunt turns in fairly decent performance as Ben's widow Gwen who begins to grow feelings for Laurence. I haven't seen Blunt in a lot of movies except for Sunshine Cleaning and Dan In Real Life but she's believable as Gwen who's desperately looking for the truth behind Ben's brutal death and asks Laurence for help. Hugo Weaving is good as Inspector Abberline in his limited screen time who like Hopkins doesn't have a lot to do. Weaving however makes the best of the role he does have in the film. I think one of his most memorable characters will always be as the villain Agent Smith from The Matrix movies but he still turns in a solid performance as Abberline who is on the hunt for the "killer" responsible for slaughtering villagers at night during a full moon. The rest of the cast are okay but no one stands out. The action sequences mostly involving the wolf-man brutally killing people are well executed which is sure to please horror junkies who enjoy watching characters getting their limbs, heads, and other body parts torn apart by a creature that mauls any poor soul caught in it's path. The pacing of the film was fine and this is certainly one of the better remakes that are being re-imagined these days. I'd rather watch this than Friday the 13th, Halloween, or The Omen to name a few. I liked how we only get glimpses of the wolf-man for the first half before Johnston gives us a full view of the creature. I thought it was more effective that way instead of showing audiences the wolf-man up close within the first five minutes and the Gothic mood was fitting for the film. The location they chose was also quite good. It added a lot to the movie and the atmosphere created some suspenseful moments when the wolf-man was on the loose. The movie itself and some scenes felt a little rushed even with a running time of 103 minutes. I haven't watched the directors cut yet. Some predictable moments did weigh down the film somewhat. There's also a scene near the end that seemed a bit anti-climatic and it's kind of over before you could really enjoy the fight but I guess it worked for the film. Overall The Wolfman is a decent remake that will probably please horror junkies who enjoy movies of this genre. So if you're one of these people, chances are you'll enjoy The Wolfman. It has just enough action, blood, guts, gore, drama, and solid performances from the cast (Del Toro, Hopkins, Blunt, and Weaving) who make this remake worth watching at least once.
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7/10
The Book Of Eli Is A Decent Apocalyptic Action Thriller
19 June 2010
The Book Of Eli is a decent apocalyptic action thriller with some flaws which I'll get into later but I felt the good outweighed the bad. The Hughes brothers are admirable in making this film giving audiences a gritty apocalyptic world where nearly everything is destroyed and ash rains down from the sky. The Book of Eli reminded me a bit of The Road with Viggo Mortenssen. It seemed like both films were made in a similar way and besides for some exceptions is CG free. They used for the most part real locations and atmosphere to create hostile wastelands. Denzel Washington is good as always as the mysterious traveler Eli who holds in his possession a precious book that he will do whatever is necessary to protect from getting into the wrong hands. Washington's Eli is a driven and soft spoken drifter traveling West across a scorched earth. Oh and did I mention he just happens to be highly skilled martial artist too. Washington is convincing and believable as the character especially in the action/fight sequences. If Training Day didn't prove that he could kick some serious ass when he wants to, you definitely wouldn't want to mess with him after seeing this film I can tell you that much. Well done. Gary Oldman is solid as the villain Carnegie a powerful psychotic mobster type figure who runs one of the last remaining villages on the planet. Oldman doesn't exactly have a whole lot to do but he's effective as Carnegie none the less. He's a violent man who uses knowledge as power over others. Oldman's Carnegie remembers the world "before the war" who wants the same book and he's willing to do just about anything even sacrifice his own henchmen to get it. The supporting cast are also good including Mila Kunis as Solara who's taken under the wing by Eli, Ray Stevenson as Carnegies number one right hand man Redridge, Jennifer Beals as Solara's blind mother Claudia, and Michael Gambon in a brief role. They turn in decent performances along with the rest of the relatively unknown cast. The action/fight sequences are well executed and paced especially the first one with Eli taking on a gang of cannibals who get whats coming to them. The pacing of the movie is a little slow at times but it was good for the most part. The film lacked development for some characters and the catastrophe like The Road isn't entirely explained except for a few explanations given by Eli one of them being, "The war tore a hole in the sky, the sun came down burned everything and everyone." A more defined explanation would've been better so we know what happened which I guess it worked for the film though. Overall I can't think of too much I didn't enjoy about this movie. If you're a big fan of apocalyptic films than chances are you'll enjoy this one as well. I liked it more than 2012 which wasn't that bad but it relied heavily on CGI and was a bit overlong compared to this one. The Book of Eli has a similar but interesting story, action, drama, and solid performances by the cast (especially Washington and Oldman) who make this apocalyptic thriller worth the time to watch.
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8/10
Shutter Island An Excellent Suspenseful Thriller
12 June 2010
Shutter Island is an excellent suspenseful thriller with some flaws which I'll get into later but the good more than outweighs that bad in this one. Director Martin Scorsese is admirable in making Shutter Island giving audiences nearly everything they could expect or want from one of these films. Leonard DiCaprio is great as always as Teddy Daniels a US Marshal on route to a remote island for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of a murderess who somehow escaped from her locked hospital room. Or as Ben Kingsley's mysterious head Dr. Crawley explains; "We don't know how she got out of her room. It's as if she evaporated straight through the walls." Leonardo DiCaprio brings an intensity to the role (like in Blood Diamond and The Deaprted to name a couple) and at times vulnerability. He continues to show audiences and critics his talent as an actor. This film is no different. Well done. The rest of the talented cast including Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, and Max von Sydow in a small role are effective as the supporting characters in their limited screen time. Particia Clarkson, Elias Kosteas, John Carroll Lynch, Ted Levine, and Jackie Earl Haely are also very good in their brief extended appearances since most of the story's focus is on DiCaprio which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Shutter Island turned out to be much better than expected. It has an interesting story, suspense, an eerie mood, and atmosphere with strong performances from the cast. The movie also has some nice twists and surprises. One I sort of did suspect and others I found surprising to say the least. So it's better to avoid spoilers and watch this film without knowing too much about the plot for you to truly enjoy Shutter Island. I found this film to be much better than others who disguise themselves as suspense thrillers (The Grudge, The Happening, and Shutter to name a few). I enjoyed that Scorsese didn't heavily rely on CG except for some and instead used for the most part realistic locations and atmosphere to create the suspense. The location they chose for the island was a perfect setting for this story to take place and it added a lot to the movie. The flashback sequences of Teddy's time in World War 2 were an interesting touch that give us some insight into his traumatic past which continues to plague him while on the island. The pace of the movie was a little slow in the beginning before the suspense really started to kick into high gear but overall I can't think of all that much I didn't like about this film. Sure it might have some tiny flaws including a surprise I sort of saw coming but I thought Scorsese still did a good job with the execution of the twist none the less. In some ways Shutter Island reminded me a bit of the Shining because both films used actual locations, surreal images, and atmosphere to create suspense build up instead of relying on CGI. I was impressed with this movie and I plan to watch it again sometime because second viewings I think are needed to fully understand the story so it makes sense. Not that the story itself is very complicated but I believe Shutter Island's worth watching a second time even with a 138 minute running time because the film is that good despite it's few flaws. If you're in the mood for a suspenseful thriller or you're a fan of the genre, you can't go wrong with Shutter Island. It has an intricate story, suspense, twists, surprises, and solid performances by the cast (especially DiCaprio, Ruffalo, and Kingsley) who make this thriller worth the time to watch.
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The Road (I) (2009)
7/10
The Road An Effective Apocalyptic Drama With Some Flaws
26 May 2010
The Road is an effective apocalyptic drama with some flaws which I'll get into later from director John Hillcoat whose admirable in making this movie thats for the most part with a few exceptions CGI free. In the film everything is gray, destroyed, and decaying because of an unknown global cataclysm that changed the face of the world forever. Viggo Mortensen turns in a solid performance as The Man who goes on the road with his son trying desperately to survive by any means necessary. Mortensen brings a lot to his role and gives audiences a man who is willing to do anything even kill to protect his son. Kodi Smit-McPhee is equally impressive as The Son who must learn how to live in a world where everyday is a struggle to survive. I haven't seen him in anything prior to this but Kodi turns in a good performance none the less. Smit-McPhee and Mortensen also have great chemistry with each other making their father/son relationship very believable on the screen. Which I'm sure to the filmmakers was very important because most of their scenes are together. Well done. Charlize Theron has what amounts to a few extended appearances in flashbacks but she does what her role requires continuing to prove her talent as an actress. Robert DuVuall, Guy Pearce, Michael K. Williams, and Garret Dillahunt are effective in their roles that border on cameos but they aren't really developed because they're only on screen for a few minutes or less. I was actually kind of surprised at how little they were in the movie. Dillahunt shows up early on as a survivor only to be written out as quickly as he appeared. Duvuall makes an appearance in the second half as an old man who has dinner with the man and his son while on their journey south. Michael K. Smith arrives late in the second half as a crazed loner with a knife and he (like Duvuall, Pearce, and Theron) does what his role requires. Guy Pearce's role is like his part in The Hurt Locker except it's the exact opposite. He arrives very late into the third act instead of the beginning like The Hurt Locker and despite having little screen time Pearce still gives a good performance. The rest of the cast including the people who turned to cannibalism are decent in their small roles even with little to no dialog because most of the focus is on Mortensen and Smit-McPhee. The locations they chose for the movie were perfect because it really did look like the end of the world. The people involved in making this film did a great job of bringing this apocalyptic world to life. I thought choosing atmosphere and scenery over CGI was a wise choice because it made the situation the characters were in very real. There wasn't too much I didn't like about The Road. A slow pace at times and characters underused( Duvuall and Pearce to name a few) weighed the movie down a bit but the good outweighed the bad. So overall The Road despite having some flaws is a decent apocalyptic drama about the bond between a father and his son who try to survive in a desolate wasteland. If you're a big fan of the genre, than chances are you'll enjoy this movie. The Road has a compelling story, drama, and solid performances by the cast (Mortensen and Smit-McPhee) who make this depressing but well made film worth the time to watch.
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9/10
The Blind Side An Excellent Drama Based On A True Story
26 May 2010
The Blind Side is an excellent drama based on a true story with exceptional performances by the cast. This film is about Michael Oher a homeless teenager who went on to become a first round NFL draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens for left tackle in 2009. Writer/Director John Lee Hancock is admirable in bringing Michael's true story to the big screen that was much better than expected and it left me feeling entertained from beginning to end. It has a compelling coming of age story with a nice balance between drama and humor. Sandra Bullock turns in one of her best performances as Leigh Ann Tuohy and I for one believe she deserved the Oscar she won for the role. She's proved in every movie despite it's flaws her talent as an actress and this one is no different. Bullock plays Leigh Ann who through an act of kindness takes in a homeless teenage African-American, named Michael "Big Mike" Oher played effectively by Quinton Aaron. I haven't seen him anything before but I thought Aaron was equally impressive as Michael a poor teenager looking for something he's never had before; a family. Bullock, Aaron, and the rest of the cast had nice chemistry with each other on screen making their growing friendships believable. Tim McGraw turned in a solid performance as Leigh's husband Sean who becomes a surrogate father to Michael. I haven't seen McGraw in too many movies either but he still gives a good performance none the less. The rest of the cast including Lily Collins as Leigh's daughter Collins, Ray McKinnon, and Kim Dickens are effective as the supporting characters. Jae Head as Leighs son S.J. was the stand out who like the rest of his family forms an unbreakable bond with Michael. Jae Head impressed me with his performance whether it was acting like a drill sergeant while training Michael or demanding full access to him while he's in college. He provides the film with some great comic relief and his dialog delivery makes it that much funnier. He also had genuine chemistry with Aaron (Bullock, McGraw, and Collins) in their scenes together. Well done. Kathy Bates shows up in a small role as Mike's tutor Miss Sue and she does what her brief part requires. I heard this film was good but it surpassed by expectations. Besides some characters who aren't really developed (Bates) and a few predictable moments. Overall the good more than outweighed the bad because I enjoyed The Blind Side. I became invested in the main characters and the story which made the 128 minutes running time move at a steady pace. The moments of humor are executed perfectly mostly from Jae Head's great comic timing. I'll admit I wasn't expecting much but after watching this I can see why many people including critics liked it. If you're in the mood for an inspirational true to life story with drama, humor, and solid performances by the cast (Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, and especially Jae Head), you can't go wrong with the Blind Side. It has everything you could ever want and expect from one of this films. Give the Blind Side a chance. It was much better than anticipated.
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Legion (2010)
6/10
Legion A Flawed But Decent Action Thriller
18 May 2010
Legion is a flawed but decent action thriller from director Scott Stewart who does a good job of making this movie despite it's problems. I didn't think this film was the disaster critics made it out to be. Yeah it has flaws which I'll get into later and it isn't necessarily the best movie I've ever seen but it certainly wasn't the worst either. Paul Bettany is solid as the arch angel Michael who disobeys gods orders to wipe out the human race and instead decides to fight for them. Thats right people in this film God and his angels are the villains. This may upset some people but I felt it was an interesting twist and it worked for the movie. Paul Betttany is quite convincing as Michael especially in the action/fight sequences. I will give him this too. Bettany's character knows how to make one hell of an entrance. He shows up early on and then he disappears for most of the beginning which made him feel a little short handed development wise. When Bettany reappears as Michael at the diner luckily he's in it more after that. Granted Bettany may not win any awards for this role but he still turns in a good performance none the less. The rest of the cast including Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, and Adrianne Palicki turn in decent performances. Black sort of sits out action wise until the third act but he delivers a good performance as Jeep Hanson an average joe whose taken under the wing by Michael. Tyrese Gibson is okay as the mysterious drifter Kyle Williams who *spoiler* sort of disappears late in the second act with no explanation after getting bitten. He does what his role requires through I guess. Adrianne Palicki plays Charlie a pregnant waitress whose unborn child must be protected for somewhat unknown reasons except that he will somehow save the human race from annihilation. Palicki is all right as the character who like Gibson does what the role asks of her. The same can be said for Charles S. Dutton, Willa Holland, Kate Walsh, and Dennis Quaid who are effective in their limited screen time. Walsh however seemed to over act at times and I felt she was the weak link in the cast as Sandra who just complains and complains which kind of hurt the film until she eventually bites the dust. Walsh isn't that bad of an actress but this wasn't her best performance. Dutton is good Percy Walker despite not having a whole lot to do and being written out rather quickly in the second act. Quaid like Dutton doesn't have a lot to work with but he brings what he can to the role of Jeep's father Bob. There was some chemistry between him and Black which made their father/son relationship believable for the most part. Kevin Durand is decent but underused as the arch angel Gabriel considering he's only in it for 15 maybe 20 minutes tops. Durand like some of his co-stars does what is asked of him though. Jon Tenney has what amounts to an extended appearance doing what he can with his very small part before becoming a background character for the remained of the second half who like Dutton and Gibson is written out too soon for you to care whether he dies or not. The rest of the relatively unknown cast including Grandma Gladys, Doug Jones as the Ice Cream Man, and the actors playing the possessed are effective in the few minutes their on screen. The action is well executed and the special effects work for the film mostly even if you can some of it is obviously CG. The showdown between Michael and Gabriel near the end is kind of short because those expecting an epic battle royale between two titans will be disappointed but their fight is pretty well choreographed none the less. The movie seemed to take it's time at least trying to develop the main characters in attempt to make you invested in their struggle before diving into the thick of the action which was a nice change considering films of this genre seem to be more about the spectacle than the story and characters. Now that I've mentioned what I liked about it I'll get into the flaws. Many characters (Gabriel, Percy, and Kyle to name a few) aren't developed enough. They are just there with little to do and their characters can come across as one dimensional. A little more development would've helped because if you can get the audience to care about the characters with action sequences well paced they will enjoy it more than a film that was made purely for the spectacle. The dialog wasn't the best at times with characters making stupid decisions sometimes like running out to save people who already dead only to die yourself because it was a trap. The story itself was okay with an interesting twist (God and his angels being the villains)yet it could've been handled much better. There were some predictable moments which weighed down the film a bit. Overall though I didn't find Legion was the epic disaster most critics made it out to be. Yeah sure it has plot holes and flaws with questions left unanswered but Legion wasn't that bad. And if you give the film a chance which I did who knows you might end up enjoying it. I for one thought it was flawed but decent. Legion has enough action, a little suspense, some character development, and solid performances from the cast (especially Paul Bettany) who make this action supernatural thriller worth watching at least once.
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Daybreakers (2009)
7/10
DayBreakers A Decent Vampire Action Thriller
12 May 2010
DayBreakers is a decent vampire action thriller that has some flaws which I'll get into later but overall this movie was a little better than expected. Writer/Directors Michael and Peter Spierig are admirable in making this movie about a plague that has transformed almost every human on earth into vampires. With a dwindling blood supply, one researcher tries to find a way to save the human race before it's too late and all hell breaks loose upon their world. Ethan Hawke turns in a solid performance as Edward Dalton the researcher who doesn't drink human blood anymore because he sympathizes with them and their situation. Ethan Hawke may not win any awards for his role but he still gives a good performance as the hero of the film who switches sides in order to save the human race from extinction. Williem Dafoe is equally as impressive Lionel "Elvis" Cormac a man who use to be a vampire but has miraculously turned back to being human. Dafoe brings a lot to his role and provides some much needed comic relief to the film " We're the folks with the crossbows." Dafoe is effective as the second lead who asks for Edward's help in saving their race from being wiped off the face of their own world. Well done. Sam Neill is decent as the villain Charles Bromley despite not being given a whole lot to do. Neill like Dafoe brings a lot to his role as the villain and he does give a convincing performance none the less of a selfish vampire hell bent on harvesting the humans for blood. I just wish they had given him more to do than walk around his building and talk to people. The rest of the cast are okay in their limited screen time including Isabel Lucas from Transformers 2 whose part in this as Neill's rebellious daughter is more of an extended appearance but she does what her role requires though. The special effects are quite effective and they look real even if you can tell it's CG. There's plenty of blood, guts, gore, and limbs being ripped off which is sure to please almost any die hard horror genre fan. I felt they did attempt to develop the the main characters (mostly Edward) rather than diving right into the action for a change which they could easily had done considering most films like this just get right to the spectacle instead of trying to tell a compelling story with characters who are at least developed enough so you know a little bit about them before the action really starts to kick into high gear. I'd say the second half is where the action becomes more frequent including a well executed chase sequence thats sure to please action junkies. The "subsider" vampires are effective in their limited screen time who have mutated into something far more deadly because of the low blood supply and are a growing threat not only to the remaining humans but to their own kind as well. Now that I've talked about what I did enjoy I'll get into what I thought could've been improved. Some of the characters are sort of given the short end of the stick development wise and there were a few predictable moments. Also Sam Neill's character could've been a great villain but as I mentioned before I just wish they had given him more to work with besides walking around his corporate building and speaking to people. Neill like Lucas does what his role requires I guess. If they had improved on some of the flaws Daybreakers would've been much better but it was still a decent film for what it was. So if you're enjoy vampire movies than this one is sure to fit the bill and will please almost any die hard fan of the genre. Daybreakers has an interesting story with just enough action, blood, guts, gore, some humor, drama, and solid performances by the cast (Hawke and especially Dafoe) who make this vampire film worth the time to watch at least once.
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6/10
The Taking Of Pelham 123 A Decent Action Thriller With Flaws
11 May 2010
The Taking Of Pelham 123 is a decent action thriller with flaws which I'll get into later from director Tony Scott whose admirable in making this movie despite it's problems. He puts his own unique touch to the film which might not be one of his best but overall the movie is okay. Denzel Washington is perfect as average joe Walter Garber a dispatcher who gets more than he bargains for what starts off as a seemingly ordinary day at work turns into something much more. Washington is very believable as the character turning in another solid performance among many continuing to show audiences his talent as an actor. If he wasn't in the movie I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as I did and given the film a lower rating because Washington made it worth watching. Well done. John Travolta is decent as Ryder a mysterious criminal mastermind but I felt he went over the top at times at least to me. I'm not sure if it was his performance or the eventual twist involving his character's past I just couldn't really take seriously. -Spolier- I mean Ryder was some Wall Street broker or something like that who spent a little time in jail and when he gets out he's all of a sudden this real smart bad ass criminal mastermind willing to kill for money. Travolta still turns in a good performance though none the less and he did have nice chemistry with Washington in their scenes together creating tension that builds between them which kind of made up for either his performance or the lack of believability involving his character's twist. The rest of the cast including John Turturro, Luis Guzman, and James Gandolfini are solid as the supporting characters who aren't given a whole lot to do but they're effective in their small roles. The few action sequences are well executed and there's some suspense that worked in it's favor for the most part. The pacing of the movie however was a little slow making it feel longer than the film really was, and the dialog wasn't the best at times. Many characters (like Guzman's who's role is more of an extended appearance) aren't really developed and the ending was a bit predictable but it was fitting for the film I guess. The twist as I mentioned earlier involving Ryder I didn't find very believable but the film is decent for what it was. So if you're in the mood for a good action thriller this might fit the bill but don't expect any classic heist masterpiece. The Taking Of Pelham 123 does have some action, drama, suspense, and good performances by the cast (especially Washington) for the most part who make this film worth the time to watch at least once despite it's flaws.
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6/10
The Lovely Bones A Decent Drama With Some Flaws
9 May 2010
The Lovely Bones is a decent drama with some flaws from writer/director Peter Jackson the man behind the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Jackson is admirable in making this movie but some flaws which I'll get into later weigh it down. Saoirse Ronan is very convincing as Susie Salmon a young girl whose murdered and watches over her family - and her killer - from heaven or as one character puts it "Susie's in the in between." Ronan gains our sympathy making you care about the journey her character goes on in the film. Well done. Mark Wahlberg turns in a solid performance as Susie's father Jack who's desperately searching for the answers to his daughter's brutal murder. Wahlberg may not win any awards and despite not being given a whole lot to do, he's still effective as the character none the less. Rachel Weisz is good as usual as Susie's grieving mother Abigail who's trying to move on after her daughter's disappearance and apparent murder. Weisz had nice chemistry with Wahlberg in their scenes together which made the relationship between their characters believable. Stanley Tucci is exceptionally creepy as the killer George Harvey so much so that I was glad to see he eventually gets what's coming to him. Tucci is quite effective as the villain a sociopath and pedophile who keeps you on edge through the subtle things he does in his limited screen time. It's a hard role to tackle but Tucci manages to bring this psychotic serial killer to life. A villain you can really despise and hope that he pays the price for his terrible crimes before the conclusion. Susan Sarandon does the best she can as Grandma Lynn providing a little comic relief in her short amount of screen time. Sarandon despite not being given a whole lot to do like Wahlberg still turns in a decent performance as a tough grandmother who likes to drink. It may not be Oscar worthy material but she does what her roles requires. The rest of the cast are okay in their cameos and brief extended appearances. The special effects for the place in between where Susie is trapped are very good if you can get past the fact that they're obviously CG. Now that I've told you what I did like about this film I'll get into the flaws I thought could've been improved making the movie as a whole better. Some of the characters aren't developed that well, the dialog wasn't the greatest at times, the humor felt off occasionally, and the ending while not the best was fitting for the film I guess. If Jackson had improved on these flaws I probably would've enjoyed it more than I did but it was still a decent movie overall. If you're looking for something different than The Lovely Bones will fit that bill. With it's flaws aside, The Lovely Bones has an interesting story, some character development, a little humor, and impressive performances by the cast (Wahlberg, Weisz, Ronan, and especially Tucci) who make this film worth watching at least once.
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9/10
The Last Samurai An Entertaining Action Adventure Drama
9 May 2010
The Last Samurai is an entertaining action adventure drama that was much better than expected. Writer/Director Edward Zwick is admirable in making this action adventure epic tale about Nathan Algren a disillusioned Civil War Captain who goes to Japan to fight the Samurai and instead ends up pledging himself to their cause. Tom Cruise stars as Algren and he turns in probably one of his best performances to date. In recent years he's been getting a lot of crap from the press because of his behavior but Tom Cruise proves to still be a talented actor none the less with this film. Cruise immerses himself into the character Algren who goes through a major transformation and he certainly shows his range as an actor. Well done. Ken Watanabe is equally impressive as Katsumoto, a Samurai leader facing a vanishing way of life, whose destiny becomes intertwined with that of the American Captain. Watanabe proves his talent as an actor giving audiences such a well rounded character in Katsumoto who eventually gains your sympathy because you know this man is willing to die in order to protect his people. Watanabe had nice chemistry with Cruise which really showed on the screen making their growing friendship and respect for each other very believable. Timothy Spall is convincing as Simon Graham a cynical Britich translator in his limited screen time who helps Algren in his quest. He provides a little comic relief from time to time that lightened up the serious mood of the film. Tony Goldwyn does a pretty good job as the villain Lieutenant Colonel Bagley whom Algren deeply hates despite not being given a whole lot to do in his short screen time. Goldwyn does what his role requires though. Billy Connolly does the best he can with his small part as Algren's old army colleague Zeb Grant whose written out rather quickly but like Goldwyn he does a decent job with his brief role in the film. The rest of the cast including the family Algren stays with while among the Samurai and the men who them played all turn in exceptional performances. The epic battle sequences are well executed/paced, intense, and realistic giving audiences a look at what warfare was probably like back then. For a film that's 154 minutes I was worried it would feel overlong like (Artifical Intelligence, There Will Be Blood, or Avatar to name a few) but the story kept my interest making the running time fly by at a steady pace. It's one of those rare two and half hours movies (with the exception of The Departed, The Dark Knight, and Blood Diamond which were about just as long but kept me entertained throughout it's running time) that I can watch easily without getting bored because the film pulls you in with a compelling story and interesting characters. In a way The Last Samurai shares similarities with most recently Avatar but I thought it was much better handled in this one than James Cameron's overlong sci-fi action adventure which was a letdown considering the hype built around it at least to me. The Last Samurai has some flaws the good however more than outweighs the bad with this one. A few characters (Connolly and Goldwyn particular) sort of get the short end of the stick development wise but I guess they're in a long enough so you know a little bit about them. Other than that though there wasn't too much I didn't enjoy about this film. Also worth mentioning is the music by Hans Zimmer which fit the tone of the film perfectly and was full of emotion. The location they chose for the setting was beautiful. It added so much with very little CG which they blended into the story seamlessly without going overboard on the effects (A mistake I feel Tranformers 2 made). Overall The Last Samurai is a well made action adventure drama epic that was much better than I anticipated. It's now one of the my all time favorite films along with The Dark Knight, The Departed, Batman Begins, and Blood Diamond to name a couple which were all epics in their own way. If you're looking for a good entertaining movie to watch than you can't go wrong with the Last Samurai. It has character development, just enough of intense action, drama, some suspense, a little humor, and impressive performances by the cast (especially Cruise and Watanabe) who make this film worth the time to watch. You won't be disappointed with this one.
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Brothers (I) (2009)
8/10
Brothers An Effective Drama With Exceptional Performances
9 May 2010
Brothers is an effective drama with exceptional performances by Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman as the three leads. Director Jim Sheridan is admirable in making this movie that does have some flaws which I'll get into later but the good more than outweighs the bad. Tobey Maguire gives one of his best performances showing audiences his range as an actor outside of being Peter Parker in the Spider-man movies by Sam Raimi. The first two were good but the third one not so much at least to me. Anyways Maguire does a convincing job as Captain Sam Cahill whose suffering from post traumatic stress when he returns home after being held captive behind enemy lines. Maguire brings a quiet intensity to Sam that definitely comes through in the third act. Well done. Jake Gyllenhaal is equally impressive as Sam's charismatic younger brother Tommy whose had a troubled past. Gyllenhaal starts off by playing Tommy as kind of a drunk jerk but when Sam is presumed dead he rises up and seeks redemption for past mistakes by stepping into the void his brother has left. He becomes a surrogate father for his brother's two girls when they needed one the most and an unlikely shoulder to cry on for Sam's wife Grace. Gyllenhaal doesn't share too many scenes with Maguire but they make the best of the ones they do have together. They played off each other well so the chemistry was there making them believable as brothers. Natalie Portman is effective as Sam's wife Grace. She's shows a range of emotions here after learning Sam might be dead which certainly comes through in her performance. Portman continues to show her talent as an actress and this film is no different. She had nice chemistry with Maguire which made their relationship seem real on screen. If it weren't for Gyllenhaal, Portman, and Maguire I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as did because their performances made it worth watching alone. The rest of the cast are very good as well in their limited screen time including Sam Shepard, Clifton Collins Jr., Marie Winningham, and the two girls who played Sam's daughters. The pacing of the movie was a little slow at times before it started to pick up before the climax which kind of weighed it down a bit. Some of the characters are really developed either because most of the focus is on the three leads (Maguire, Gyllenhaal, and Portman) but the rest of the film made up for it's few flaws especially the performances by the cast. Overall Brothers is a well made drama the deals with themes like guilt, forgiveness, and the importance of family. So if this sounds like a movie that peaks your interest than chances are you'll enjoy Brothers which was much better than expected. Maybe not the all time best movie I've seen but it was an entertaining film none the less. Brothers is an emotional drama with some suspense, a little humor, and impressive performances by the cast (Portman, Gyllehaal, and especially Maguire) who make this one worth the time to watch.
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8/10
Dr. Parnassus A Unique Adventure With Good Performances
2 May 2010
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a unique adventure with good performances from the cast by writer/director Terry Gilliam whose admirable in making this movie thats original and might not be for everyone but I for one thought it was decent. Perhaps not the best movie I've seen but I still enjoyed it for what the film was. I won't get to much into the plot because it's better to see this movie without knowing too much about it. Dr. Parnassus marks the last film you'll see the late Heath Ledger in who sadly passed away while making this in January of 2008. Ledger is great as always as the mysterious and charismatic stranger Tony who joins a traveling theater company that gives it's audiences more than they expected. Ledger's part is more of a supporting one and thats okay because he immerses himself into the role (just like he did with his other roles and as Batman's arch nemesis The Joker in 2008's blockbuster hit "The Dark Knight") and he turns in a very good performance none the less. He's actually in it more than I thought he was going to be. Ledger doesn't appear on screen until about 24 minutes into it and some maybe a bit shocked with his introduction into the story considering the first time we meet him he's hanging by his neck from a bridge. While watching though it you can't help but feel sad at least I did knowing this is the last movie you'll ever see him in because he really was such a chameleon. An extremely talented and gifted young actor who seemed to take his roles seriously, without taking himself too seriously and there's no doubt in my mind that he will sorely be missed. Rest in Peace Ledger. Christopher Plummer is equally impressive as the character of the title who makes a deal with the devil for powers and immortality. Plummer like Ledger becomes the character for the film and he turns in a solid performance as a man who tries to make up for past mistakes by beating the devil at his own game of bets. The rest of the relatively unknown cast including Lilly Cole, Andrew Garfield, Verne Troyer, and Tom Waits as the Devil are effective as the supporting characters who are at least developed to a point where you know a little bit about them. Waits does a good job as the Devil who gives the film some dark humor from time to time and he's clearly having fun playing Satan. Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law play alternate versions of Tony when he enters the mirror into an imaginary world and all the three actors do an excellent job of making you believe it's the same character while putting their own little twists to the role. Depp has the smallest part of the three and his appearance is more like a cameo (he's only on screen for 1 maybe 2 minutes) but he still turns a solid performance. Colin Farrell and Jude Law have a little more to do and I feel both actors like Depp have done justice to the character Heath had created for the movie. Well done. This film maybe light on action but what it does offer is character development (Parnassus and Tony), some humor, drama, and solid performances by the cast. The film's pace was a little slow at times, some questions are never answered leaving them ambiguous, and the ending isn't quite what I expected but the exceptional performances by the cast (especially Ledger, Plummer, Depp, Law, Waits and Farrell) make up for it's few flaws. Overall The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus is an original mystery adventure drama thats certainly worth the time to watch. It's different and a little weird but in a good way. So if you're a fan of Gilliam, the late Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, or anyone else in the cast than chances are you'll definitely enjoy this one.
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Avatar (2009)
Avatar A Decent But Flawed Sci-Fi Action Adventure Epic
21 April 2010
Avatar is a decent but flawed sci-fi action adventure epic from writer/director Jameson Cameron who's admirable in giving audiences amazing state of the art special effects but some flaws which I'll get into later weighed it down for me. Sam Worthington turns in a solid performance as Jake Sully a paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission who becomes torn between following orders and protecting the world he feels is his home. His CGI counter part is involved in most of the action but Worthington does what his role requires I guess. Zoe Saldana is very impressive as Netyiri a beautiful alien warrior instantly drawn to Jake who can certainly kicks some serious ass when she wants to. We never see Saldana only her CGI counter part but she brings life to her role and leaves an impression. Well done. Sigourney Weaver is good as always as Dr. Grace Augustine a scientist studying the planet of Pandora in her limited screen time. Michelle Rodriguez does what she can with her small role as Trudy a tough female pilot who eventually helps Jake in his quest to save Pandora from their own people. The rest of the cast are okay but none of them are really developed because most of the focus is on Worthington and Saldana. The special effects are fantastic including the planet of Pandora with breathtaking landscapes, floating mountains that defy gravity, and amazing creatures of all sizes but spectacle alone doesn't make a movie. Now that I've mentioned the good things about Avatar I'll touch on what I didn't like about it. I thought the story itself was very predictable right when Jake meets Neytiri I knew exactly what will happen next and how it was going to end. The dialog wasn't the greatest at times either. I felt Stephen Lang wasn't that great as the gung-ho Colonel Quaritch. I mean he gets attacked once by the the Na'Vi and all of a sudden he's hell bent on eliminating them off their own planet. I'm not sure if was really Lang's performance or the poor dialog he had to work with like "Let's boogie", "Shut your pie hole", and "We fight terror with terror" to a name a few because to me he simply wasn't the best villain. However I was glad to see that his character finally gets whats coming to him. The same can go for Giovanni Ribisi who is a talented actor but this isn't his best performance. No offense. His role amounts to only a handful of extended appearances playing greedy corporate figurehead Parker Selfridge whose after a precious material that goes for 20 million a kilo. Ribisi like Lang do what their roles require I guess playing stereotypical one dimensional characters but they were just jerks all the way through who felt no remorse for the crimes they were committing against the Na'vi. If their characters were developed more and had better lines they could've been memorable villains instead of making them feel like after thoughts. The pacing of the movie was slow at times making the 162 minutes drag and there wasn't as much action as I thought there would be because most of it is in the third act but it's well executed none the less. I was frankly a little disappointed with Avatar and it wasn't the classic many people are making it out to be. Don't get me wrong it's not the worst movie I've ever seen but I'm just not sure why a lot of people out there are hailing it as a masterpiece. Yeah the special effects makes it worth watching at least once but I thought it was going to be better. I read somewhere about Dark Knight fans and Avatar fans arguing which one they think is better. I for one enjoyed the Dark Knight a lot more and that one is 153 minutes but it moved at a much faster pace. No movie has been able to match it yet. Avatar isn't that bad of a film it just has some flaws that weigh it down. Overall Avatar has great special effects, action, a little humor, and good performances from the cast for the most part (especially from Saldana and Worthington) but it isn't the best movie I've ever seen. If you're a big fan of Cameron you may enjoy it more than I did after watching Avatar though I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed.
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8/10
Sherlock Holmes An Entertaining Action Crime Adventure
11 April 2010
Sherlock Holmes is an entertaining action crime adventure from director Guy Ritchie whose admirable in making this movie. It has actually made me what to check out some of his other films like Snatch and Rock N Rolla to name a few. Sherlock Holmes has some tiny flaws that I'll get into later but the good more than outweighs the bad in this one. Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic as the character of the title. It's definitely a much different interpretation of the popular private sleuth detective than we've seen before. With Iron Man, Zodiac, The Soloist, and Tropic Thunder, Downey Jr. has made a great comeback proving to be one of Hollywoods most talented actors. He continues to solidify just that with his performance in this movie. Well done. Jude Law is equally impressive as Holmes partner and best friend Dr. John Watson. Downey Jr. and Law have genuine chemistry with each other perfecting an odd couple relationship between their characters. They make the best of the screen time together which provides the movie with a lot of humor. Rachel McAdams is good as Irene Adler the only woman to make as Watson puts it "a proper idiot" out of Holmes "twice." Despite not being given a whole lot do, McAdams is convincing as the beautiful temptress Irene none the less. Mark Strong is solid as serial killer and mysterious occult "sorcerer" Lord Blackwood in his limited screen time who proves to be an effective villain for Holmes. He doesn't share many scenes with Downey Jr. but the few they do have together are well written. The rest of the cast are nothing memorable but they do what their roles require and still turn in decent performances. The action sequences are well executed with just enough so it doesn't feel like overkill. There was a nice balance between the action, humor, and drama that made the 128 minute running time go by at a steady pace. The humor was very funny which always helps make a film better and we can thank most of it from the banter between Downey Jr. and Law. They both delivered their lines to perfection bringing much of the humor out of the script through their odd couple relationship. There were a few memorable quotes too that I found quite funny like "Permission to enter the armory?", "No girl wants to marry a doctor who can't tell if a man's dead or not", and "So that's a no to the opera then?" to name a couple. Some of the action scenes were even humorous especially the one with Sherlock Holmes in a bare knuckles boxing match and another involving a huge French guy. I also liked how most of the films mysteries including Lord Blackwood's possible supernatural abilities were explained in a logical manner and it didn't leave you with many unanswered questions. The few minor flaws were that certain characters (Blackwood and Irene) weren't really developed considering most of the focus is on Downey and Law which isn't a bad thing. It just wouldn't be a little better if we knew more about Blackwood or Irene. The climatic fight between Holmes and Blackwood near the climax felt a bit rushed but hey that's okay because everything else made up for the films minor flaws. Overall I was still very impressed with Sherlock Holmes and I recommend this to anyone looking for a movie that sure to leave you feeling entertained by the end. Sherlock Holmes has a complex but not too complicated story with just enough action, humor, drama, and exceptional performances by the two leads (especially Downey Jr. and Law) who make this film worth the time to watch.
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6/10
Batman Returns A Decent Sequel But With Flaws
27 March 2010
Batman Returns is a decent sequel but with some of the same flaws that were in the first one by Tim Burton. I re-watched the original and this one after seeing writer/director Christopher Nolan's take on the popular comic book character with Batman Begins and the Dark Knight which are so much better than Burton's no offense. Director Tim Burton does an okay job making this sequel but some problems weigh it down which I'll get into later. Michael Keaton reprises the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman whose decent as the character but he isn't as good as Christian Bale in my opinion. He wasn't able to bring the presence Bale brought to the character. Keaton however does what he can with what very little he was given. Danny Devito had a little more to work with as The Penguin and he's okay despite shouting a lot of his lines. DeVito is a good actor but this isn't his best performance. It maybe because I just don't find the Penguin that interesting of a villain but DeVito still turns in a solid performance none the less as the short grotesque and deformed enemy of the Dark Knight. Michelle Pffiefer fared much better as Selina Kyle/Catwoman turning in a solid performance as the dangerous femme fatale. Burton probably should have chosen just one of them to be the villain for this film because their story arcs felt rushed at times because Pfieffer does an impressive job with her role. Well done. Christopher Walken does his best as Max Shreck a psychotic businessman who helps The Penguin run for mayor. Walken sort disappears for much of the second half only to reappear for the third act but he's okay in the role. The rest of the cast are so-so but none of them are memorable. Michael Gough as Alfred and Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon have what amounts to a few extended appearances which is disappointing because their characters could've been handled much better. They both do what their roles require I guess though. The action sequences are well executed but none of them are exciting or intense as the ones in Batman Begins or The Dark Knight. The dialog was once again cheesy at times and many characters like Harvey Dent for one aren't even in it or mentioned making their appearances in the first one seem totally pointless. Like Burton's first Batman one of the biggest problems is that this sequel seemed to focus mainly on the Penguin and Catwoman instead of the title character himself especially in the first hour. Keaton doesn't even show up until over 12 minutes into the film. He makes a brief extended appearance with very little dialog for an action sequence and then his character disappears until almost 40 minutes into the movie since most of the beginning centers on The Penguin and Selina Kyle's Catwoman. For a while it seemed Keaton has a cameo in his own movie which didn't help in the long run. After that initial first 40 minutes luckily he's in it more but Keaton seemed to get cheated out of some more much needed development and screen time again. I didn't realize just how little these films actually focused on the Dark Knight until I decided to recently re-watch them. It's always not a good idea to focus more on the villains than the main character because he's the one the audience is going to care about. I thought this problem was solved with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight because at least those films focused much more on Bruce Wayne/Batman especially Begins. The Dark Knight felt like an ensemble piece and by the end I think Bale got just as much screen time as the late Heath Ledger, Aaron Echkhart, and Gary Oldman. That film focused on the four of them evenly giving all four actors plenty of moments to develop their characters and shine. Overall Batman Returns isn't that bad of a sequel it just could have been better. I recommend Batman Begins and The Dark Knight to any fan of the comic book character because both films are entertaining fast paced action crime dramas and worth the time to watch. Batman Returns had potential to be a good sequel only it ended up being somewhat of a letdown compared to Nolan's two superior films on the Cape Crusader. Yeah it has some cool action, a little dark humor, and solid performances by the cast (Keaton, Devito, and especially Pfeiffer) but I just wish the film itself was a lot better than it turned out to be. I'd chose Nolan's two Batman movies any day over this one.
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Batman (1989)
6/10
Batman A Decent Comic Book Film But With Flaws
27 March 2010
Let me first start off by saying that at least to me, "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" by acclaimed writer/director Christopher Nolan (Memento and The Prestige) are the best films based on the popular comic book character. I decided to go back and watch the Batman movies by Tim Burton which honestly weren't the greatest compared to the two most recent films from Nolan. Director Tim Burton does an okay job of making this movie back in 89 but some flaws weigh it down which I'll get into later. Jack Nicholson does a good job as Jack Napier who eventually becomes Batman's arch enemy The Joker but I felt he went too over the top at times. I didn't think he stole the movie like some other people apparently did. Nicholson turns in a decent performance but I for one thought the late Heath Ledger was much better as The Joker in the Dark Knight giving audiences a creepy, mysterious, sinister, and charismatic villain who was unpredictable and he most definitely lived up to the tile of Batman's arch nemesis. Nicholson wasn't as scary as Ledger but he makes you occasionally chuckle with his dark humor. Michael Keaton does what he can as Bruce Wayne/Batman but I was surprised at how little the movie does focus on him because it's mostly about the Joker. Keaton does what his role requires I guess but I still think Christian Bale is the best actor to play Bruce Wayne/Batman hands down. He had a lot more to work with than Keaton and was overall more effective in the role. Keaton didn't bring the kind of presence Bale brought to the character but he turned in a decent performance none the less. Kim Basinger is okay as reporter Vicki Vale but she did get a little annoying sometimes mainly because of her almost constant screaming in the film when she's in danger. Basinger is a decent actress but this isn't her best performance no offense. She like Keaton does what he role requires I suppose though. The rest of the cast are so-so because none of them are memorable. The action sequences are well executed but they're missing the wow factor like the ones in "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" which were fast paced, exciting, and intense compared to this movie. I felt the story focused too much on Nicholson's Joker with Keaton's Bruce Wayne/Batman getting cheated out of some much needed development and screen time. The dialog was cheesy at times and many characters like Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Dent, and Alfred to name a few got the short end of the stick since they merely show up for only a handful of extended appearances. I thought Bruce Wayne's relationship with Alfred and Gordon was much better developed in "Batman Begins" because the three actors (Christian Bale, Michael Caine as Alfred, and Gary Oldman as Gordon) had genuine chemistry in their scenes together which always helps make a film better. I also preferred Aaron Echkarts performance of Harvey "Two-Face" Dent in "The Dark Knight" over Billy Dee Williams. He's barely in this one at all and wasn't given as much to wok with as Eckhart. Williams is okay in the role but nothing special. Another thing is that Batman doesn't kill he has morals but in this movie he does and that just didn't seem right. Tim Burton's Batman really isn't that bad of a movie don't get me wrong it's just not that great when the title character takes a back seat to the villain. Overall Batman is a decent movie based on the comic book character but none of them are even in the same league as "Batman Begins" or "The Dark Knight." Those films at least centered a lot more on Bruce Wayne/Batman than Burton's making you care about him. They also explained why he'd dress up like a bat and fight crime which the others only hinted at but never fully explored. I recommend you see those two films by Nolan if you're a fan of the character because this movie could've been much better.
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