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Star Trek (2009)
Ugh...what did I just watch?
How the original Trek cast began? I think not. First off they couldn't even get decent "young" look-alikes except for Karl Urban who plays McCoy. Simon Pegg who plays Scotty LOOKS older then the supposedly younger cast members and has the personality of an Irish drunk they just picked up off the street. Not to mention the idiotic young Kirk played by Chris Pine whose childhood begins as a rebel and passes his time away getting into bar room brawls, scooping & boffing chicks, and hiding under beds to check out Uhura in her underwear. Oh yeah, did anyone tell you about the Spock and Uhura "love thang" going on in the transporter yet? Come on, Gene Roddenberry is turning in his grave over this mess. They had the audacity to take classic clichés like McCoy's "Dammit Jim", Spock's "Facinating" and Sulu's love for fencing and turned them into REAL Hollywood clichés. Forget about the effects, it's nothing you haven't already seen in any Battlestar Galactica episode. This film has so many holes in regard to the original series and cast it surpasses Swiss cheese yet smells like Limburger. The biggest being how the technology (set design) looks to be about 200 years more advanced then the original. The original mission was to explore new worlds and go where no man has gone before. Although these characters fell together as a crew by coincidence. On account of a rift between the Romulans and Vulcans, and the Vulcan planet being turned into a black hole. Uh-huh....where did that come from Orci and Kurtzman? Your butts? I went to see this with my 14 year old nephew whose never seen an original episode. Afterward he said he didn't want to see any and thought they would be as stupid as this movie. Yes, those were HIS words. I had to reassure him that not everything newer is necessarily better. How true it is, how true it is! Stay light years away from this.
The Sensation of Sight (2006)
Like an overdose of L-Tryptophan
This film was so boring it made me fall asleep, literally. I was fully aware beforehand that I was about to embark on what might be a seriously hard-core drama, which I was in the mood for. I will give it big kudos for acting, direction and cinematography. Some scenes and camera work are borderline stunning. I also found this film to be rather confusing. In the beginning it's fragmented like a psychological thriller, giving us bits and pieces of the characters lives and apparently how all are intertwined, or will be. But the extreme subtlety of the story dragged the exceptional acting through the mud, making any kind of interest or connection between the characters and viewer almost non-existent. I liken this film to watching the watercolors of a Claude Monet painting dry, you know the end result will be something visually extraordinary but the process getting there isn't engaging at all. When I woke to realize the DVD had ended, I had no desire to resume where it had left off.
Fun with Dick and Jane (2005)
Destined to be a classic
This film is relevant now more so then it was intended to poke fun at the Enron scandal. Carrey is in tip-top comedic form as Dick Harper, your average upwardly mobile suburbanite who has the picture perfect life that keeps getting better until it completely implodes, and not by his doing. Don't expect over the top slapstick silliness as with "Dumb and Dumber", this is more painfully humorous and a look into life's tribulations that many could be going through today. You can't help but laugh out loud at the steps Carrey and Leoni take to survive their dilemma while attempting to maintain their lifestyle. This movie gives serious props to comedy classics as "The Out of Towners" and "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House". Whatever can go wrong will. Since it's a comedy, there's really no point in dissecting the acting skills. Téa Leoni's casting for the part of Jane Harper couldn't have been more spot on. She's smart, sexy in a yuppie kind of way and can deliver the humor as confidently as Carrey. Alec Baldwin, as Jack McCallister, plays the perfect sleaze bag corporate CEO who's more interested in keeping as much for himself while flushing his naive and trustworthy employees down the toilet. Proclaiming only the strong survive while boarding his private helicopter and leaving Dick with a "deer in the headlights" look on his his face, it's hauntingly ironic a towering adjacent office building in the background clearly displays a large Bank of America logo. Paid advertising or just coincidence? I'm certain they'd come forward with an army of lawyers to have it removed if this was a new release. Fast forward to today and the correlation to AIG and Bernie Madoff is nearly uncanny. Frank Bascombe, played by Richard Jenkins, who's one of the only people in upper management with a conscience supplies Dick with the details of what's really going on when all hell breaks loose, and this insider information forms the catalyst of revenge for Dick.
I have watched this movie at least 10 times since its release on DVD, and every time I find myself enjoying it more. That's a rare quality for a comedy in this day and age. The pace and humor is wonderfully timed, as well as the intentional cliché of characters that are now more real to life then ever. I've recommended this movie to non-Carrey fans with overall positive reviews.
Not for viewers with a short attention span
Those who enjoyed movies like "Total Recall", "Memento" and "The Butterfly Effect" will want to have a look at Premonition. It's essentially the same concept but certainly nothing new except for the story. This film is pieced together as a tapestry of events happening at different times, yet the viewer is forced to put them together in real time along with Sandra Bullock's character Linda Hanson. The acting, direction and editing is very good, especially Bullock who plays a fairly average suburban mom we can all relate to. The story builds slowly and consistently. If you don't have the patience for this type of film making and are looking for an in-your-face psychological thriller you'll most likely get bored within the first 45 minutes.
It's a shame that what started as a decent movie would have such a disappointing ending in my opinion. Using typical Hollywood clichés like car engines that won't start, dropping cell phones, fumbling with keys, all at the most inopportune times. The movie makes you feel that the conclusion will be something really bizarre or mind bending, unfortunately it isn't. In turn we're handed an average wishy-washy ending that's supposed to be thought provoking AND warm & fuzzy at the same time.
Way too predictable
I normally don't try and second guess a crime thriller, but Cleaner was just entirely too predictable. Samuel L. Jackson playing the character Tom Cutler, along with his profession created an interesting twist in the beginning of the film, however, that was about it. Without even thinking I knew where the plot would be taken and within 30 minutes I had already figured out who the killer was. Rather then trusting myself and having seen several films that make a turnabout, I watched to its completion. What a disappointment, I was right from the beginning.
The casting of characters was a good, as well as the acting from Jackson and Harris...except for Eva Mendes. From the starting gate she didn't play a believable character in correlation to the script and this ruined the entire plot too soon. Maybe this was a directing mishap or just weakness in the story itself. Her role as Ann Norcut should have shown more emotion and distress for the situation that was building around her. This would've made the build-up a bit more compelling and the ending more dramatic. Nevertheless, Cleaner is watchable, not memorable. I've seen episodes of CSI that were more thrilling then this.
Hard Rain (1998)
Not bad if you know what to expect beforehand
What's with all the bad reviews? Sure, this film is completely unbelievable. The acting is good, but not great from all involved. You can't help wondering if Ed Asner, Betty White and Minnie Driver were cast just to keep them from reaching oblivion in Hollywood. Although, while doing an admirable job, Morgan Freeman appears to be rather bored playing the part of bad-guy "Jim". Christian Slater fares better as the guy who's caught in the middle of everything but he always looks on the verge of busting out in laughter due to the unbelievability of it all. Taking this into consideration, Hard Rain was obviously DESIGNED to be a mindless action flick, on par with original television series's such as Batman or The Six Million Dollar Man. When was the last time you saw Adam West or Lee Majors put on an Oscar winning performance? You didn't, but that never kept you from tuning in each week or running off to make a peanut butter sandwich when all the "ZAM!" "POWIE!" animations were flashed on the screen. Or when Steve Austin was ripping through solid steel with his bare hands. It's the same premise, total mindless fun, nothing more. But I can understand how some may feel ripped-off with the talents of Freeman and Slater being wasted on nearly one dimensional character roles.
Honestly, I have a hard time giving this movie a rating of six because it's completely dependent upon what I'm in the mood for watching at any given time, and that could vary it up or down a point or two. If you're looking for non-stop action from start to finish, not to be taken seriously with the best elements of spaghetti westerns, disasters, bad guys, corruption and chase scenes -- get some beer, order a pizza and invite your buddies over. I guarantee you'll laugh at the absurdity, be entertained, and awestruck attempting to comprehend how much water was used for its filming.
Matchstick Men (2003)
A wonderfully entertaining low-impact comedy/crime flick
Nicolas Cage is one of my top ten favorite actors but this doesn't make me biased towards every film he's appeared in. Some I've liked, others not so much. In Matchstick Men he is cast in one of his better roles much along the lines of "Lord of War" and "Bringing Out the Dead". The type of character that's quirky, misunderstood, completely believable, and at times morbidly funny. You gain a feeling of empathy for him as Roy Waller, an unscrupulous con-man with some of the most unusual mental imbalances, "ticks" and OCD habits. These habits become the focal point of the subtle humor throughout the movie. Sam Rockwell, playing Cage's right hand man in crime as Frank Mercer is an equally quirky and shady character. Lacking the obvious psychological idiosyncrasies as his partner, he spends half his time setting up the "con" job and the other worrying whether Roy has taken his medication and is stable enough to follow through. The chemistry between both as actors and characters nears brilliance.
Alison Lohman who plays Angela, Roy's newly introduced (and previously unknown to him) daughter is instantly likable and first appears to be the antithesis of him. Her emotional outbursts are well acted and you will immediately feel sorry for her as much as Roy does. But keep in mind once you've reached this point of familiarity with the characters the viewer is being taken in by the "con" as much as their film victims. All is not what it appears. The story and script is witty and it holds your attention from beginning to end. The cinematography, direction and editing is meticulous and sets the stage perfectly for every scene - down to Roy's bleak, antiseptic lifestyle and brief glimpses of what's really going on in his head. This isn't an action movie per-say. You won't find guns blazing, things blowing up and hateful villains such as in "Con Air" or "Face/Off". This is an intelligent comedy, not snobby or artsy, with a great story and acting throughout. If I was to embellish any further details it would ruin the film for you. Just remember when you think you've figured out what exactly is going on, this does a 180 on you with one of the better endings I've seen in years.
V for Vendetta (2005)
Meh, somewhat entertaining, except...
I do enjoy films with a message. V certainly has one and it hits you over the head like a sledgehammer. This particularly isn't a problem when executed well, but doing so in a comic bookish fashion with poor acting doesn't make for very entertaining fare. Maybe I was expecting too much from the outset - more eye candy - more "gee whiz" from the Wachowski brothers rather then simply a political statement? I suppose if you're an adult whose buried your face in comic books your entire adolescent years you'll find the characters spectacular no matter how drab. I couldn't help but think this movie was a direct rip-off of "The Man in the Iron Mask (1939)" and "The Three Musketeers", of course minus two swashbucklers in this film. At one point my "stop button" finger was getting rather itchy when I was pelted over the head with a pro-lesbianism/homosexuality propaganda segment. Call me a prude, but it was WAY too obvious and entirely unnecessary in the weak story this was supposed to be telling.
I'd avoid this one if you're expecting sci-fi along the lines and caliber of The Matrix. It doesn't even outshine one of the sequels and those were fairly poor in themselves. You have been warned. Face it Wachowski brothers, your best is in the past.
American Beauty (1999)
Move along...nothing beautiful to see here, no matter how close you look
Call me late to the party but I just got around to seeing this so-called masterpiece 10 years after its release. Thank God I spent nothing on borrowing this film on DVD. Although it did waste about 30 minutes of my precious lifetime before I decided to call it quits and shut it off. How this garbage made so many Oscars is beyond me, and how it can be in the IMDb top 250 just shows the simple-mindedness of those who haven't seen a good drama. These characters are vapid and there's absolutely nothing to like about them. If this is Sam Mendes idea of brilliant direction, he's taken the acting talents of Spacey and Bening spewing lines of hatred and practically turned them into freshman acting school robots. Script? What script? This is a juvenile fantasy made to appear "grown up". Fast Times at Ridgemont High had more real life drama and substance then this...and THAT film was juvenile, but at least it had some entertainment value.
You could say I'm judging this film unfairly because I didn't bother watching it in its entirety. But if after 30 minutes a film doesn't have any conviction to convey some sort of plot, story, message or substance--it's not worth my time and it shouldn't be worth yours. For those who are trying to find some "deep" philosophical meaning to all the rose petals, I say have a cup of coffee and get off the Zoloft and Prozac.
The Number 23 (2007)
Now for a completely realistic review
I didn't expect much from The Number 23 and it certainly delivered. First the good points. Jim Carrey's dramatic acting is excellent and he's proved his versatility in previous films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In Number 23 he may have reached his apex, but for reasons to follow we may not have seen his full potential. The lighting and cinematography in this film is superb and it certainly makes an attempt to mesh with the plot/storyline. Now for the reasons why The Number 23 is so disappointing and/or rated so poorly. Jim Carrey has what I call "William Shatner Syndrome". Meaning, anything outside his typical comedic role makes many feel uncomfortable. I can imagine how many people immediately think Captain Kirk while seeing a Priceline commercial and how much of an idiot he looks like trying to be silly. The same applies to Carrey in dramatic roles and I don't think he'll ever be able to shake the rubber man moniker for some fans. He could if he was cast in a film with a good script. Why Carrey would do a film like Number 23 boggles my mind, and I blame this on his agent. The script and story of this movie is pathetic, completely un-engaging and unbelievable. If this story was to be graphed out on paper and charted, it would look like an upside-down "V". It plods in the beginning, builds "somewhat" to a peak, then falls of the edge of a cliff. I compare this story to something that would be made for television, or at best an HBO original presentation.
I gave this film a rating of 4 only for Carrey's acting and detail to lighting and cinematography. If I could segregate a minus 10 for the story I would, but I'll have to settle for minus 6.
Come on Jim, you've proved you can do better then this. Fire your agent.