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Inception (2010)
3/10
You are not as stupid as Christopher Nolan thinks you are.
19 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Unless you call this movie a masterpiece. Then you are.

Damn 1,000 word limit. Gotta make this quick.

Spoilers.

The film is 2.5 hours long, yet feels like 5.2, and there are a few reasons for this. One of which is the fact that a preponderance of the first act is amateurish, conflict-free exposition, which does not bode well for repeat viewings.

The "learning about the dream world" scene is atrocious. No conflict. Both Leo and Page's characters already knew what was being explained. The similar "learning about the matrix" scene in The Matrix did it right by having one character not know anything. Plus, there was conflict. Neo gets his ass kicked and fails to make the building jump. Much more entertaining.

There's another problem with the whole section of bending the landscape where Leo explains the negative aspects of altering the dream world. The closest we get to seeing the dream world altered was Leo becoming Mr. Charlie, yet the most that happens then is a bunch of extras turn and look at Leo. That's it. The idea was not exploited. You literally have to go out of your way to miss that opportunity. Hell, that Mr. Charles scene is shorter than the scene that explains why altering the dream world is bad!

Let's not forget this whole idea of one corporation one-upping another has absolutely no personal ramifications for anyone on screen or in the audience. It would have greatly amped up the internal conflict if Leo had to struggle with the notion that helping the guy who could help him would endanger someone else close to him, or us, or someone else. ANYTHING could have worked better than an energy contract that means less to me than my neighbor's bath mat. Come on.

The totems were handled very poorly. All we need to know is their purpose. We don't need to know anything else, yet the film keeps piling on needless information.

If this is a heist film, where is the threat of being caught?

A van falls for an endless amount of time. Joseph Gordon-Levitt floats bodies down a hallway for half an hour, real-time. The guy from Bronson does his thing, whatever the hell that was. These are not complex tasks or events, but rather straight-forward in nature. Dragging them out for a solid chunk of the film is what creates the glacial pace and makes a long film seem even longer.

Inception has no real villain. You can make a case for Cotillard, but she is an internal enemy. She never takes a "physical" presence and never threatens anyone except Leo. Everyone else is dealing with faceless assassins. That makes it feel distant from the rest of the action. It doesn't even have anything to do, emotionally, with Leo's goal of getting home to see his kids. None of this is tied together. Leo didn't even know what the hell was going on with Cillian and never even knew of the outcome until after the fact. He's separated from the physical manifestation of his goal for a majority of the film. I ended up not caring if the plan succeeded. If it was all somehow tied together, the audience would be able to experience that great emotional catharsis that everyone was talking about...but that didn't happen.

In fact, Leo is so separated from the actual plot that you can literally put Levitt in his place and not even need the hero in the dream world at all! Hell, you can even put Page there, since all she does after designing the boring and lifeless dream worlds is hang out with the guys and tell Leo he's crazy. I really wish she had something else to do besides play the part of the fifth wheel.

Leo's lack of involvement in the main action of the story creates a 'so what?' moment when the problem is solved for him, and I can think of absolutely no reason why the hero should not be the one to conquer the main conflict. Brody kills the shark in Jaws. He doesn't send Hooper and Quint out to do his dirty work while he stays behind to deal with his fear of water. It's integrated. The hero is forced into dealing with the physical, and in turn, but learn to conquer his internal fears before he can conquer his external opponent. This is Screen writing 101, Lesson 1, and Nolan got that wrong. That's why I don't believe the reports that he spent 10 years writing the script since it only took me 148 minutes to figure out exactly what was wrong with it.

Not to mention the conceit that to enter someone else's dream and control it means that you would have to control your own subconscious, which they state elsewhere is impossible. Way to go, genius.

Pretty much everything this film does wrong, The Matrix does right. Watch that instead.

PS: The 'taking a scene from the middle and putting it at the beginning' gag reached its peak effectiveness in 2002 and has absolutely no place in modern films. It's getting as bad as that tired old 'It's all a dream' scenario. Oh, wait...
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Iron Man 2 (2010)
1/10
Rusting already.
20 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
.SPOILERS WITHIN. -----------------

Take note, ladies and gentlemen. This is what happens when you rush a sequel into production without first having a quality script...or even a good script. This is simply a poor movie. No doubt that it's fun, but when the fundamentals are not there, you still end up dissatisfied.

What is Tony Stark's goal? This is the most important part of any film story and here, it's missing. How does this happen? You can argue that his goal is to stop Whiplash, but Whiplash is never threatening anybody apart from the Monaco scene and the extreme end of the story, which is too few and far between to function as a proper goal for Stark. You can argue that his goal is to find the cure to his blood toxicity to keep himself alive, but he is only actively working toward that goal for less than 5 minutes, most of which is spent on a gag with Captain America's shield. Then he cures himself with such ease, all tension and conflict is completely killed. SO that can't be his goal, either. Hell, he spent more time driving around for the Audi commercial, which ironically meant as much to the remainder of the story as the new power cell - nothing.

What is the villain's plan? First of all, who the hell is the villain: Whiplash or Justin Hammer? Hammer simply wants a defense contract, which poses a threat of zero to Stark if he succeeds in getting the contract. Whiplash has a pasted-in motivation that is as weak as a wet noodle. He fights Stark at the racetrack and then spends the remainder of the movie sitting in a room on the other side of the country, not threatening anybody at all (until the very end). It's good that he showed up with a security uniform on the off-chance that Stark would be driving a race car that day. Did anybody see where logic went? So with no villain posing any kind of threat to Stark for the entire second act of the story, and Stark having no goal of his own, we're left with a jumbled mess in the middle of the film. Stark acts out and does nothing remotely interesting or exciting because he simply has nothing else to do. His conflict with Pepper was so manufactured, I could almost hear the clatter of an assembly line every time they were together. It was entirely non-emotional, and because of that, I couldn't care.

The hero and villain don't even encounter one another at all in the second act of this movie! They are off on their own doing boring crap instead.

Nick Fury shows up and drops information in Stark's lap instead of Stark actually finding out for himself. Then Fury is basically gone for the remainder of the movie. Whatever the hell Scarlett Johansson's character's name was served no purpose at all. Why were these characters even in the movie? I know Scarlett was in because she got to wear tight leather and kick ass, which I personally loved, but I would appreciate it a bit more if it was somewhat story-related. Of course, you need a story first.

You can argue that Scarlett had to stop Whiplash from maintaining control of the War Machine suit, but I don't even know how Whiplash gained control of it to begin with! We are never presented with that information. And if he can control War Machine, why not take control of Stark's suit? Hello? Logic? Where did you go? Logic, come back! The climax involves an long fight with drones, which becomes nothing more than robots slugging each other. In the first film, Stark was battling the technology that he created and had to learn to outsmart his opponent because he couldn't outgun him. Here, it's just mindless action. There is no threat of danger. The drones pose a threat as severe as a field mouse. Then Whiplash shows up to a scene where a battle was already fought, and they have another battle that is twice as short as the one with the drones. If you blink, you'll miss it. There is no struggle. No reversals. No tension. No anything.

Why can't we have a summer action movie that is both fun and good? You can even site the first Iron Man as an example. What happened here? This movie is a complete joke and a borderline insult.

But I think we all know by now that Hollywood only makes sequels because they want money, not because they have a story worth telling...or a story at all.

If I didn't see this movie for free, I'd ask for my money back on account of a faulty product.
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1/10
Hollywood strives for failure and succeeds.
30 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'll cut right to the chase and explain what is wrong with this movie instead of wasting your time setting anything up. I know how awful that feeling is, because it's exactly what this movie did for nearly 2 hours of my day - waste my time.

SPOILERS

Focused too much on the secondary characters at the beginning, which was a problem because it was excruciatingly obvious that they were all just Freddy Fodder. I actually wanted to see them die quicker instead of spending a half hour with the plastic Barbie chick that couldn't act to save her own life and the annoying kid that went to jail because someone did in the first movie.

In the original, the group of four was together a lot of the time. They all shared the same plight together. The whole purpose of the sleepover was so that they could be there for each other if something bad happened. Here, we still have the same four roles, but two of them do their own thing and the other two are only communicating by phone, if they communicate at all. The inability for this new film to create a connection between the kids causes a disjointed feel and makes it impossible for us to care about anyone.

In this one, that kid going to jail means nothing and his demise means nothing. Not to me or the actual heroes of the story: the curly haired dude with the dirty sanchez and the winner of the Emily Blunt look-alike contest. They never saw it happen, never grieved over it, never even seemed to give a hell. It almost seemed like something from a different movie. In the original, the kids went to the jail, watched it happen, and Nancy's father was a cop. They were much more involved and therefore, the death meant something. It wasn't just killing time like it is here.

When we do get the actual heroes, it's so far into the movie, I couldn't help but wonder why not start the movie at that point? The other two dying did not have any effect on what the heroes were doing. The only constant was Freddy, who seemed much less threatening in this movie than in the original. Emily and Sanchez just kept doing what they would have if Barbie and the criminal didn't die at all.

The micro-naps part was not necessary and added nothing to the movie. It was just an excuse to get Freddy into the film more. But when you show him for no reason other than to sit around and taunt the kids, perhaps slash at them once or twice, the fear goes away. The more I see, the less I'm afraid. Bringing Freddy into the picture when the kids are still awake completely defies the concept of the movie!

There were several inexcusable moments of what can only be described as "****ing ****ty writing". The dude falling asleep in the pool and then witnessing what happened to Freddy years ago for absolutely no good reason was the worst. It was insulting and nothing more than a plot convenience. The girl sets the alarm on her phone to wake herself up in the bath, but never thinks of using it later on when she asks the dude to wake her when trying to bring Freddy into the real world. Why? This is life and death and you didn't think of a contingency plan when there was one that you already used sitting in your pocket? Another plot convenience. Then there's the kid with the adrenaline, which does absolutely nothing to him - an obvious plant for a later pay-off.

This is a movie for idiots. Plain and simple. There's actually a scene in this movie where the girl pulls a piece of Freddy's sweater out of the dream world and into the real world, and the first thing she says is "Freddy's sweater". Really? Are you kidding me? What kind of sped wouldn't understand that scene if the dialogue was omitted?

It's sad, because the original Nightmare is not a very great film. The concept is absolutely brilliant, but it could use an update. Even sadder than that is the fact that Hollywood's mission is not to make money by providing the public with a quality product. It's just to make money.

There were some things about this film which I liked, but were mostly too brief or underdeveloped. The other kids in the school picture, the hospital sedation, etc. Just not enough to bring this turd out of the sewer where it belongs.

It's better than the new Halloweens and Friday the 13th, but that is about as close to praise as a racial slur. It's kind of hard to screw up with such a brilliant concept. However, that didn't stop Hollywood from trying.
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1/10
I have officially lost all faith in humanity.
9 March 2010
If someone ever told me to name the top 5 absolute WORST movies ever made, the first one I would think of is this worthless piece of amateurish filth.

Honestly, there is not one single redeeming quality of this entire "film". Directed and written by a sped who knows less than nothing about directing and writing, the cinematography is dull and ugly, acting is some of the most awful I have ever seen (and yes, I did see Cyber Tracker 2), etc. Not to mention that this movie is not funny at all, not even by accident.

Well, now that I think of it, there might be one good thing to come out of this vomit-inducing bore-fest. If you somehow manage to make it completely through this crap from start to finish, then you have seen the worst movie ever made. You can now watch Michael Bay movies with a big smile on your face, thinking "hell, this ain't so bad!" But me, I'd rather try sneezing with my eyes open than have to suffer this kind of agony again.

The only reason why I somehow managed to do the impossible and watch this from start to finish is because I was in a state of physical shock after seeing how incredibly awful it was. No word of lie...I watched this for the first (and only) time with 4 friends who all claimed that it was great. They all fell asleep within the first 30 minutes...and we watched it in the day time.

That being said, this is nothing more than the cinematic equivalent of having a 400 pound man with chronic diarrhea squat over your open mouth for a full two hours. If you are ever so incredibly bored one day and decide to watch this, take my word for it...do anything else at all. Go down to Taco Bell and sift through the dumpster outside for the food they throw away...and eat all of it. It will be a lot more healthy, satisfying, and a lot less likely to cause gastrointestinal cramps...and chronic diarrhea.

Troy Duffy should quit film-making and find something that he's actually good at.
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1/10
Judgement Day for cinema.
26 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers ahead. If you decide not to read them and go to see the movie instead, don't say I didn't warn you.

I am appalled. I don't even know where to start. Maybe the title: Terminator Salvation. First, it's not even really a Terminator movie. John Connor was rewritten as the main character, which put Marcus Wright in the background, thus rendering a Terminator character secondary. But even if it was called John Connor Salvation, it still wouldn't make any sense because there is no salvation to be had.

Honestly, what is the point of this "story"? What is the culmination of the events? Skynet wasn't destroyed. The resistance gained no advantage. NOTHING was accomplished! The humans are fighting the machines at the start and at the finish. One Skynet base - one - was blown up somehow. No idea how or when the entire facility was wired for implosion, but it was. So what was the purpose of all this fighting? Skynet designs a prototype Terminator that doesn't even know he's a Terminator. I thought the machines were supposed to be smart. This Terminator had every opportunity in the world to squish Kyle Reese's head, but - oh yeah, Kyle Reese is in this movie. Don't even get me started on that.

But anyway, what the hell was Skynet's plan for killing John Connor?! Lure him to the Skynet base, let him inside to free hundreds of human prisoners, then send ONE naked CGI Arnold after him?! Are you freaking kidding me? And why was Kype Reese, Skynet's number one target, allowed to remain alive for - what, like three days? I don't understand any of this.

The world's most advanced intelligence looks like a bunch of dumb-asses in this movie. John Connor takes down a super-advanced cycle-thing that's capable of countless super-fast calculations with a trick from The Road Runner cartoons? Give me a break! Who the hell wrote this script? Are you somebody's 7 year-old cousin? There's a prologue text that appears at the beginning of the film that offers a good idea - John Connor being seen as a false prophet by many. But where in the blue hell are these non-believers in the actual story? The only guy that doesn't believe in Connor is Michael Ironside, who simply doesn't believe because the script calls for it.

The Oriental-looking woman - who somehow has freshly shampooed and deep-conditioned hair during a nuclear apocalypse - is tossed in for the sake of...well, who knows. She's there. She does nothing and acts irrationally.

The acting in this movie is so bad, I can't think of a word to accurately describe just how bad it is. It's THAT bad. Every line is delivered in either a dramatic whisper or a dramatic shout when the context of the scenes usually calls for neither. Don't people TALK in movies anymore? Talking can be dramatic. Yelling when you don't have to and whispering for no reason is just retarded, especially when everything that's said is completely obvious and on the nose. It's not even melodramatic...it's worse.

There are many references to the first two films that are as pointless as they are countless, thrown in simply because this movie has no good ideas of its own. Nobody is going to remember this film one year from now, but we'll still love the original two.

I really can't think of one single redeeming quality of this catastrophic disaster of a movie. Maybe the fact that is has some giant robots, but I can get from Robot Jox...an equally terrible film that is at least a funny kind of terrible. T4 is just terrible. It's seriously one of the worst films I have seen in recent memory.
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Mystic River (2003)
5/10
Atrocious screen writing is unforgiven.
29 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Kurosawa once said: "With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. With the same script, a mediocre director can produce a passable film. But with a bad script, even a good director can't possibly make a good film."

Mystic River is proof positive.

It feels redundant to remind you how great Eastwood and Penn and everyone else is, so I will concentrate my analysis of this film on it's screenplay.

Mystic River fatally suffers from a plot that depends *entirely* on coincidence. It is simply not satisfying. It barely stands up to one viewing, let alone multiple.

Robbins was molested as a kid. As an adult, he encounters a pedophile and beats him to death on the same night that another girl is shot and beaten to death. This girl just so happens to be the daughter of Penn, who was a childhood friend of Robbins and was there when Robbins was abducted as a child.

It doesn't stop there. Robbins is at the same bar at the same time as Rossum the night she was killed/Robbins kills pedophile.

And if that's not enough, Rossum was shot with the same gun that was used in an event from Penn's past that connects him with the killer of his daughter.

Oh, and Robbins as the same blood type as Rossum.

This script constantly attempts to make a connection between Robbins and Rossum, but since there is none, everything thrown in is a contrivance. There is no cause and effect between anything in this film. It is not believable for an instant.

There are many other problems as well. Fishburn and Bacon toss exposition with all the originality and creativity of a CSI: Miami episode, and that subplot with Bacon's wife? Remove it from the film and the main "plot" does not change. It is literally pointless.

This film is a perfect example of why cause and effect must be used to tell an effective screen story.
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1/10
D - Highly Overrated. Final Answer. Where's my check?
15 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Here's yet another extremely overrated film from 2008 catered specifically to awards and little else. Color me unimpressed.

While it's not as dire as Benjamin Button or as erroneous as The Dark Knight, Slumdog is certainly not a good film. It's not technically bad, either. It simply exists. It's a movie you watch rather than experience.

I am literally in a state of shock these days at all the films masquerading as high-class or even art when they are riddled with so many *fundamental* mistakes. Screen writing 101...they get that stuff wrong! Not the hard stuff, the simple stuff. How? I am baffled.

Slumdog's story relies damn near entirely on coincidence, which is a hugely detrimental factor when attempting to create audience sympathy. I didn't feel for the kid on the show. I wasn't given a reason to. If that were me on that show, I would have never been asked questions that I just so happened to know the answers to by chance. This kid just so happens to know the answer to the questions he is asked and little else. He lucked out! I did not sympathize with him, I envied him! I simply could not put myself in that situation due to it's complete insanity and lack of realism.

The search for the girl is introduced rather late, and before then, there isn't much to root for in this story. So essentially, you can begin watching this film at that point and completely understand the plot and miss nothing of importance.

The fact that the kid had one question left was not properly communicated to the audience, which diluted the suspense of the situation.

The fragmented nature of the story doesn't make it easy to understand the narrative, even when the concept alone creates the plot beats for you. This film seems to go out of it's way to make things extra-complex, as though it's trying to cover up something that's lacking...

Another thing that jumped out and bothered me...there are plenty of scenes that simply have nothing to do with the kid on the game show...or scenes that take far too long to get to the necessary bits of info that we need. It plods around for quite some time as if it's trying to make up for something that's lacking...

I also do not enjoy the new-age, pointlessly over-stylistic directing style employed here. It was distracting, perhaps to cover up something that's lacking...

When something, *anything*, is not right, you look at the fundamentals. This is true in everything from football to film-making. Without knowing, or by simply ignoring the fundamentals, you end up with horrendously flawed films such as this, The Dark Knight and Benjamin Button. And what's really sad is that these are the most highly-praised films of last year.

When did the standards drop so low? Did I miss a meeting? And can I still vote?
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Rocky Balboa (2006)
1/10
Rocky...if it sucked.
9 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this for free in the theater and I have to say that it was definitely worth what I paid for it.

I couldn't help but notice the very awkward change of pace that happened once the fight was set up. There's an hour or more spent on Adrian not being there, Rocky running a restaurant, characters that don't amount to anything, etc.

It has a cool, leisurely pace at this point, but once the fight is set, there's a 2-minute training montage and the next thing you know, they're in Vegas. It felt as though someone hit fast-forward just to get to the fight quicker.

And once the fight did happen, I didn't seem to care. There was no mystery at all. Rocky was fighting for personal reasons that were resolved regardless of whether or not he won, lost, went the distance, etc. He just wanted to let loose the beast inside, and it's never in doubt that he would do so with relative ease.

He has no problems getting back into shape and fighting the greatest fighter in the sport that day even after a long furlough. During the fight, Dixon is the one who gets hurt and has to fight harder to survive, not Rocky. Hell, the computer even said Rocky would pound Dixon's ass, so where is Rocky's external struggle? There was no question as to whether or not Rocky would accomplish his goal because his goal was never displayed in any physical way. How do we know if he's vanquished the demons within if all we see is him taking a pounding, giving a pounding, and then taking another pounding? I didn't see any progress toward his goal from the point he stepped into the ring to when the final bell rang.

The supporting characters were drawn very weak. Paulie is back for no reason other than because he was in the original film. Then he loses his job? What's that all about? Why did it have to happen and what did that amount to? Rocky's son quits his job but is never shown taking a second step forward after that. It's never resolved. Marie was semi-interesting, but clearly just pasted in because there had to be some kind of female interest for the male lead. But like I mentioned before, no mystery in this story. Rocky verbally states that Adrian is/was the only woman for him, so why bring Marie into the picture? She's obviously not going to hook up with Rocky, and it makes her seem like a fifth wheel (her son serving even less of a purpose).

Even the dog didn't do it for me. The only reason the dog was there was because Rocky had a dog in the original, but in the first Rocky film, the dog served a purpose (a symbol of Adrian's love for Rocky). In the new film, the dog is there and gone again as though it wasn't even needed in any way at all.

This film exists only as a paycheck for Stallone. It simply does not function on it's own merit, must rests entirely on the audience's love for the quality of the original Rocky. In other words, there is absolutely no reason to watch this movie. You get nothing new from it. Just watch the original Rocky film instead.
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1/10
People actually like this?!
16 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I almost feel sorry for anybody who likes this pretentious crap.

Mostly everyone who does like it only likes it for one reason...the big twist at the end. But anybody with half a brain that is at least partially functioning can see through the transparent and poorly-written script and predict the ending by the half-hour mark.

Spoilers ahead. Do yourself a favor and read them rather than wasting your time watching this mess of a film.

OK, the basic plot...cripple is being questioned by a police officer at the police station. The cripple tells the cop about past events that supposedly happened. The stories the cripple tells all seem to contradict one another, and the cop is getting very annoyed since he can't seem to find out the real identity of the man behind the previous events...a man named Keyser Sose.

But who is Keyser Sose? I'll tell you who just by explaining what any intelligent movie viewer would have been thinking the entire time, and that is this. Keyser Sose can only be one person, and that person is Verbal Kint. And the reason why he has to be Keyser Sose is because he is the only person that is involved in the story from start to finish. Nobody else is in the office but Verbal and the cop, and we know the cop didn't do it (although that would have been an actual good twist), so it must be Verbal. Can't be any of the other "suspects" because, what if it was? Then the story would move somewhere else and Verbal would no longer be involved.

Which brings me to another major flaw...why the hell is Verbal even there in the first place? Him going to the police station serves no purpose at all.

And as I patiently waited for the extremely transparent conclusion to be revealed as exactly what I predicted the whole time, I thought of one thing...Verbal is a cripple, so he can't possibly be Keyser Sose. But that was nothing more than a cheap red-herring used only to intentionally throw the viewer off in a different direction. Didn't work very well at all.

Why else is this movie total crap? The directing is cheap and thoughtless, acting is decent at best but even that's stretching it, cinematography looks ugly as hell, and I didn't care about any character in the whole movie at all. Didn't give a hell if anybody lived or died. All that paired with the fact that the entire movie was built around the idea of a surprise ending with no substance of itself makes this a piece of garbage.

Wait, I'm sorry. Comparing this movie to garbage would be insulting to things I throw away.
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1/10
Isn't the point of remakes to make a *better* film?
16 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
No. It's to make cash. 'Quality, schmality. Where's my paycheck?' That is Hollywood's mentality, and that is also why we end up with awful films with no redeeming features such as this.

I am not against remakes. I am, however, against remaking films that are good enough already into something obviously inferior and forgettable. The original Friday The 13th - heck, all of them, actually - are horrible, yet popular. A perfect candidate for a remake. A good opportunity to make a quality product as well as a paycheck with many zeroes. Win-win.

But what is God's name happened? This movie is absolutely *horrible*.

People always say things like 'what do you expect from a Friday The 13th movie?' or 'it's just a horror flick'. Since when is that an acceptable excuse to produce garbage? When did categorizing your film in the horror genre automatically exonerate it from the responsibility of telling a logical story with actual characters, credible dialogue and perhaps even a little respect for the audience? I look upon this as a movie. Not a remake or sequel. Not a Friday The 13th movie or a horror movie. Just a *movie*, which is open to the same criticisms and evaluation as a comedy or thriller or period drama.

The closest this film comes to a plot is a guy looking for his sister. Along for the ride are about two dozen nobodies who serve one single purpose - dying. The first group had the one girl who was significantly less-annoying as the rest, and another suffers quite a creative death, but that is all this section of the movie has to offer. It lasts 20-some odd minutes and then we get a title screen. Off to another set of nobodies.

The second group, driving around in a massive Escalade, I wanted dead before I even saw who they were. And once I did see them, I wanted to kill them myself. Every one of them looked like they stepped out of a fashion shoot or some trendy teen magazine, had no personality other than complete asshole, and was only in the movie to get killed.

The only likable character was the guy looking for his missing sister, who was with the first group of nobodies. The pretty brunette who takes a liking to him would have been alright if she didn't ditch her boyfriend to sneak off in the woods for 8 hours with the first tanned, muscle-bound hunk that knocked on the door.

There are countless set-ups without pay-offs and several pointless scenes tossed in to stretch the running time, or perhaps to cover-up the fact that this movie has a tracing-paper-thin plot.

The whole movie is almost literally just Jason killing people. I know that's what the filmmakers believe the audience wanted to see, but that is not true. That is the audience's *expectation*, because the films in the series are so incredibly poor.

But why not take pride in your work and write something that isn't pathetically amateurish and actually work at making a good film? I'm not talking about this franchise, but EVERY horror film. It's such a popular genre that consistently churns out pointless garbage. But write a story with a plot, with characters that we might actually care about...and you'll make a fortune. It worked for The Sixth Sense.

I would also like to point out that the title, Friday The 13th, played absolutely no role in this film and was not mentioned by any character one single time. They could have called it May 4th and nothing would have changed. Why not exploit the concept of that particular day within the story? I cannot believe how consistently bad horror films are these days.

Note to Hollywood: WRITE SOMETHING GOOD AND YOU'LL MAKE EVEN MORE MONEY!!!
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1/10
The Curious Case of Conflict Avoidance
12 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I don't understand the appeal of this film. It has no plot (which is not necessarily a bad thing. Another Fincher/Pitt collaboration from 1999 comes to mind), the protagonist has no goal, and the film basically has no conflict.

Massive Spoilers Below.

Button is a FREAK. You would think his life would be a living hell full of torment and meaty conflict...but no. Button's life is wonderful. He rarely encounters hardship.

He gets abandoned by his father, who shows up later and gives Benjamin everything he owns. He is taken in by a loving woman who cares for him every step of the way, keeping him far from anyone who would consider him to be a freak. He lives the good life growing up...or would it be down? He gets a job handed to him while sitting on a bench (a job that he loves so much that he would have done it for free, but he's getting paid!). He travels the world feeling no ill effects and not being taunted or ridiculed one single time for his disorder.

Most difficult situation he encounters is being left without a life jacket when the tugboat encounters a German WWII sub, which the tugboat ends up defeating with such ease and rapidity, Benjamin doesn't even have time to do anything but crouch down for a minute and hide. The lack of a life jacket doesn't even come into play at all. A set-up with no pay-off. What was the point of that? The episodic nature of the story makes it difficult to remember whether Tilda Swinton's character showed up before or after Benjamin went to war, but it doesn't even matter. Swinton has an affair with Button, but Swinton's husband is a spy! Oh shlt? Nope. That is another set-up without a pay-off. More conflict avoided. It's an affair without any repercussions.

The closest the film comes to a plot is the love story between Daisy and Benjamin, which is also the closest the film comes to displaying any sort of real conflict. Benjamin goes to New York to surprise Daisy only to find out she is with someone else. She rejects him. Benjamin goes to Paris. Daisy rejects him again. However, the rejections are only temporary, and Daisy forgives him entirely. More conflict avoided.

From there on, they live a wonderful life. There is even a montage showing how wonderful their life together is. Neither one has to deal with any sort of conflict for a while. They just have sex and fun all day long. They eventually end up having a child together, and Benjamin decides to walk out on them to avoid the possibility of conflict arising from the fact that he will eventually grow young and Daisy will have to care for both of them.

So despite his radical disorder (that nobody even really comments on, let alone ridicules him over), Benjamin goes through what some would consider a perfect life. He ends up with everything he wants and doesn't even have to work to get it.

Hell, I wish I was born backwards so my life would be free and easy.

How could a story with a concept so ripe with conflict completely avoid it?
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10/10
I'd give it 20 out of 10 if I could.
10 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Sergio Leone declined an offer to direct The Godfather to direct this film instead. And oh, how I wonder how a Leone-directed Godfather would have turned out (along with Orson Welles as Vito and Robert Deniro as Sonny)...Once Upon A Time In America more than makes up for that desire never having the opportunity to come true.

I mention The Godfather not only because this film is of the same genre, but also of the same level of quality. Seriously. The Godfather edges this one out in terms of acting and perhaps in the level of human emotion the audience feels, but in regards to every other aspect of film-making, it's equal to or better than The Godfather. Keep in mind that The Godfather is my all-time favorite film and book.

The story of Once Upon A Time In America is told in several different time periods simultaneously and seamlessly. Clocking in a nearly 4 hours, it seems like an arduous task to watch this film to completion, especially considering the fractured timetable, lack of a solid external throughline, and two rape scenes (one of which being a truly hard piece of cinema to watch), but the masterful direction of Leone, absolutely breathtaking cinematography of Tonino Delli Colli, and epic, tragedy-filled music by Ennio Morricone are guaranteed to pull you into the world of the story.

It's a truly rewarding experience to view this film from start to finish in a single sitting. It leaves pieces out of the puzzle for the viewer to interpret, ponder, and debate afterward. It's a film that stays with you and actually rewards repeat viewings.

Sadly, there is presently no living director with the skill required to make a film of this caliber. We can only hope and wish that someone comes along and gives us a few cinematic treasures such as this one, The Godfather, Citizen Kane, and the acclaimed films of Kubrick and Hitchcock.

Once Upon A Time In America has been on the rise in the IMDb Top 250 for some time now. Let's help it get to the top 10 where it belongs.
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WALL·E (2008)
10/10
Pure cinema.
1 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
There has been quite a bit of backlash regarding this film and I don't understand why. Maybe because it doesn't have expository dialogue to remind you of what is going on. Or perhaps it could be the lack of cheesy one-liners and asides that are all too common these days. It just might be the story, which doesn't involve a lot of things that blow up real good. I don't know.

Wall-E is pure cinema. It goes back to the silent film days where you didn't have the luxury of dialogue to tell a story. The filmmakers then had to rely on images to give the viewer all the information. It's not like today where an untalented director points and shoots because he wants to. Each shot had a purpose, and the juxtaposition of shots and images and actions were all important - scratch that...NECESSARY - to tell the story. Today, film editing is a complete joke. Either nobody understands it's purpose, or nobody applies it.

What elevates Pixar above everyone else is their understanding and application of what you could say are the "rules of cinema". Of course there are no rules, but there is what works and what does not. Pixar takes the time to find what works rather than what looks cool or what is the current trend. And the result of this is a story that everyone can enjoy. Today, a month from now, twenty years from now. A story where the main characters are not actors. They are not even physical, tangible objects. They are computer generated images with one or two word vocabularies. Yet, we grow to care for them as they learn to care for one another.

This is all possible through the magic of cinema - a VISUAL medium.

I want to go to the movies more often, but there are so many bad movies that I simply can't. I can't make myself go anymore. I used to for a long time, but now...I just can't do it. A rare film like Wall-E comes along and completely ruins any hope for me leaving the house to pay money to watch crap. I don't want to see lousy writing and bad dialogue and muddled images and inept editing and inferior story structure and flat characters lacking emotion, horrid acting and unoriginality. That is 97% of movies these days and over 99% of television.

When the the standards drop so low? Did I miss a meeting? I praise Pixar for staying true to themselves, and rebounding from their two worst outputs with their most cinematic film yet.

I just hope the rest of today's filmmakers and those of the future come to understand how cinema functions. What works and what doesn't. I hope they realize that film is meant to be a VISUAL medium, and not an economic one.
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1/10
Quantum leap into the dumpster.
16 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
If I wasn't so bored, I might have felt violated by this awful suckfest.

Seriously...who greenlights a script this bad? I'll give you a quick excerpt of the "plot": Bond gets to the hotel and kills the geologist, gets the briefcase and walks out just in time for the car to pull up. He gets in and the girl pulls a gun on him. He gets out just in time to hop on the motorcycle. Follows the car to the dock just in time to overhear the conversation and see the boat take off just in time. Follows on motorcycle and drives off the ramp of a boat that was lined up just in time for him to land in a powerboat. Fights off baddies and in the process, the girl gets KO'ed just in time for Bond to reach land and drop her off so he can get to the airport just in time to see the villains take off, etc.

Notice the excessive usage of the phrase "just in time".

There's even a spot where Bond has left a party and is driving in the middle of the desert where he just so happens to come across a man who just so happens to sell Bond his plane. Bond flies the plane for less than 5 minutes and just so happens to get shot out of the air. Bond and the girl (did they even say her name more than once?) open the parachute just in time - oops, sorry. About a minute too late. Sorry, but if you open a parachute 12 feet from the ground, you're dead. I don't care if you're James Bond. You're dead. So anyway, they just so happen to land directly above a sinkhole which just so happens to have the most easily accessible exit in the history of any place where any character was ever trapped in film history, and then just so happen to end up in a spot where they can easily recognize the villain's plan (which was over AN HOUR into the film - didn't know the purpose of any of the action up to that point, which made it tedious and boring), etc, etc.

Notice the excessive usage of the phrase "just so happens".

There is absolutely no plot to this film whatsoever. There are no characters. There is no dialogue. There are no relationships. There is no originality at all. None. Everything about this film is one - yes, ONE dimensional. Not two, and definitely not three. Just one.

This is action porn...but even the action sucks.

It opens with a car chase where one dark vehicle is shooting at another dark vehicle, so you can't tell what the hell is going on, who is in which car, who is shooting at Bond and why they are shooting at him. It makes no sense to a viewer. Neither does any of the action that follows. Bond leaves bodies in his wake, never even encountering a real challenge. Coincidences move him from place to place and stuff blows up and people shoot guns in the process. That is this movie.

Bond doesn't struggle at all. The villain's henchman is supposed to be the brawn to the villain's brain. Look at Odd Job and Goldfinger. Here, we have this guy with a flo-be bowl cut who gets tripped by a girl in a cocktail dress. And the main baddie himself looks like a young Roman Polanski...and the members of his super-secret organization that nobody knows anything about just so happen to conveniently sport little Q lapels, making them so easy to identify. Smart.

Even action porn needs to be exciting. There have to be reversals. Watch the truck chase at the end of The Road Warrior and you'll see more reversals in that one 10 minute scene than this entire movie. That is why that scene is great and this movie sucks. Both have cars driving fast and people shooting one another and things blowing up. Hint: THAT IS NOT WHY PEOPLE WATCH MOVIES! People watch movies for an experience. We want to see reversals in action, character relationships develop and change, a plot that actually makes sense. We want to see characters develop beyond a thuggish menace before they go and wreak havoc. We want to see this person that we now care about actually struggle and fight for victory. We want to be able to follow what is going on, in terms of story and visuals. You can't do that if the camera is swaying violently and cutting every 3/8ths of a second and the main plot isn't revealed until a majority of the movie is over.

This is perhaps the worst movie I have seen in a decade. An absolutely epic failure on every front, including the future of film-making, which appears to be heading toward a depression of it's own if a film like this, completely void of quality, gets made.

The cinematic apocalypse has begun.

PS: Who the f--k edited this movie?! I want to track this person down and murder them with my bare hands in their own home in front of his or her children. My 5 year-old dog could have done a better job. Is there a bet going on with you and Paul Greengrass as to who will be the first to make a film that will literally cause people's heads to explode from an overload of underprocessed information...or do you just suck that bad? Quit your job immediately and find something that you're actually good at.
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Casino Royale (2006)
10/10
Someone please flush this.
9 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is the cinematic equivalent of an incorrectly-assembled jigsaw puzzle. Just a total mess no matter where you look. Watching this felt like watching 5 movies at once and only catching one-fifth of each one. There's just an incredible amount of underdeveloped characters and subplots.

Why chase the unbelievably athletic black dude bomb maker guy in the beginning? It didn't seem to be connected in any way to the guy with the crazy eye except perhaps in the most minor, circumstantial way possible...not to mention the sequence went on for about 10 minutes and ended with Bond killing the guy outright after we are informed that he needs to remain alive.

And the whole thing about blowing up the plane...why? Who was that guy? I have absolutely no idea. Didn't even catch his name. They gave us NO INFORMATION about him. The whole tanker-chase was just absolutely ridiculous and seemed more at home in a cartoon, and before you know it, the unknown guy is dead. Not to mention the entire sequence was pointless. Bad guy needs money, which is the reason for trying to blow up the plane. Afterwards, Bad guy still needs money. You can remove that entire segment and nothing has changed. It's redundant.

There's at least a dozen characters that we essentially know nothing about who suddenly die and that's supposed to mean something. Who are they? Who's side are they on? Do they even have names? They could have saved the salary budget and just got a few cardboard boxes with painted faces on them instead. I know it's a Bond movie, but for Christ's sake.

The guy with the weird eye was quite a bland villain. It's mentioned that he's some math genius and that makes him good at card games, but why is that talent never actually shown in the movie? He just turns cards like everyone else. I know it would be a little difficult to show the inner workings of his mind, but it's better than a throwaway line. So if being good at math makes him so great at cards, what makes Bond so good? And if Bond doesn't need a reason, why does the eye guy? And why is Bond even there instead of a professional card player if they need this guy to lose so badly? And speaking of this card game, why did the villain, despite his many connections to the underworld and corrupt dictatorships, decides his only way to recoup his losses is by holding a high stakes poker game with a CIA agent as well as a British Secret Agent? And couldn't they just abduct him and hold him in a secret location until his enemies were hot for his blood, then threaten to release him if he didn't flip? It seems much more logical than the card game method, which would still require abducting the bad guy and threatening to release him if he didn't flip.

Despite the repeated need for the villain to win all the money brought to the game, the villain, the alleged super genius, decides to poison Bond while Bond has 50 million sitting on the table which means that money would not have been won by the villain had he succeeded in killing Bond.

After the villain's defeat he was supposed to be grabbed by CIA but apparently the boys from Langley are more incompetent than the guerrilla soldiers from Uganda because they didn't even get near the bad guy and let him abduct members of the British Secret Service and flee the country.

And what was up with that tracking device they put in his arm. Talk about a setup with no payoff. What a waste of time that was.

From here on in we get a lot of contrived and pointless melodrama as the film refuses to stop and continues to slog through Bond's tragic romance with a woman who is so in love with her boyfriend that she decides to steal ten million dollars from the government (that's all that belonged tot eh British government, which ain't that much) and she also bangs the hell out of Bond for good measure - because she is so in love with her abducted boyfriend.

To top off the insanity, we get a crazy chase through Venice to hunt down some one-eyed villain we have never seen before that has nothing to do with anything, as far as we know. Then just when things couldn't get more ridiculous, the love interest decides to kill herself by locking herself int the elevator of a sinking house. Why did she do that? I guess because it was supposed to be tragic and sad - it was just stupid.

Another thing that bothered me was the fact that Bond got help with nearly everything he did. He got helped out of the whipping chair, he got help with the defibrillator, he got help disarming an enemy, he got help disposing of the bodies, he got help tasering that other dude, etc. Most of the stuff was completely done by other people, and it made for a rather passive "hero".

It seems as though every review ever written for this film (besides this one) compares the movie to other, lesser-quality Bond movies and praises it for sucking less than those. But if you actually look at this movie in and of itself, it's terrible in every way.

And on a side note, Eva Green looks infinitely more attractive without excessive layers of makeup gunked all over her face.
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1/10
I'm ashamed to be from the same town as one of the writers.
24 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'd like to start off this review by openly admitting that most of what I say is copied from Terry Rossio, co-writer of Aladdin, Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean. So it's not only my view of the film under discussion, but one of an acclaimed professional. Now, on to the review.

I went in with an open mind and an honest hope that this movie would be good. It has one of my favorite actors (Kevin Spacey), but that was the extent of the good things this movie has to offer. All other actors either A) suck, or B) are completely miscast. Kate Bosworth has the worst dye-job in Hollywood history and Brandon Routh has the personality and acting ability of a painted stick. I honestly don't remember who else was in this movie as they have left no lasting impression whatsoever.

Something I couldn't understand was how Superman and Clark Kent both return from a massive furlough on EXACTLY THE SAME DAY, yet nobody makes the connection. But that's okay. It worked in Batman Begins, right? No, it didn't work, there or here. You would think that someone who spends a considerable amount of time with each personality, someone like Lois Lane, would be able to spot the disguise from a mile away. Is it because Clark Kent/Superman has no disguise? Concerning the return of Superman, what significance does it have? None. As Terry Rossio pointed out, the topic is never explored. The title of the film is Superman Returns, but refuses to discuss the consequences and issues that arise from his return. So if he was gone for 5 years and nothing changes when he comes back, why have him leave in the first place? You may point to the Pulitzer Prise-winning article that Lane wrote about why the world doesn't need Superman. I really wanted to hear some of those reasons, but NONE of them are ever given! The reason why is because it's a completely one-sided issue. The world NEEDS Superman to save crashing space shuttles and bank robberies with advanced weaponry and from explosions and falling buildings. The world does NOT need Superman because...? There is not one good reason. There is not ONE reason. If there is, we don't know it and never will. It is another topic never discussed.

And speaking of such, what does Superman think about failing to show up to court which caused Lex Luthor's freedom? Wish I knew, but Superman does not say ONE WORD about that issue. Not a single letter in the way of the colossal blunder that caused the movie to happen. And guess what else? Superman does not say a word -- and I'm serious, this is a true statement -- Superman does not say a word about having a son.

Which brings me to yet another gigantic flaw with this film...what is the point of the kid? He is shown to be the son of Superman by one act of inhuman strength, and then literally does nothing for the rest of the film. Nothing.

So...what the hell is this movie supposed to be about?! It picks several different possible topics to explore and totally ignores every one. The villain's plan makes no sense at all and doesn't seem that big of a deal to go through all that trouble to try and achieve.

One last thing that bugged me...Superman is too powerful -- the character in and of himself, in every TV show and movie and comic. Too powerful. He has ONE single weakness, which is present in this film: kryptonite. Nnothing else can even put a tear in Superman's costume fabric. (?) So why does he struggle with a car and a space shuttle and relatively small debris, yet is able to lift an entire MOUNTAIN of KRYPTONITE and throw it OUT OF THE EARTH'S ORBIT with a shard of kryptonite pierced in his side?! How do you gauge his strength? There is no measurable way. He simply struggles with everything for the sake of making it hard on him so the audience will not be bored, not because his character is unable to deal with such difficulties.

This movie made every possible wrong decision it could, and it still got made. How? Nobody along the way took a look at the script and said "Woah, hold the phone! What the hell is this?!" Nobody at all involved in the creation of this movie had any consideration for cinematic quality. They made a horrible movie because they knew they could make money no matter what they put out.

This is a completely disgusting film in every regard.
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The Exorcist (1973)
10/10
I still cannot believe this film ever got made.
10 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It's safe to assume that there will never be another film like The Exorcist. Never.

It's not so much because of the subject matter, which is highly controversial even to this day...but the conditions of the filming. Actors were strapped into harnesses and violently yanked across the room, Friedkin shooting off guns to get a startled effect from the actors, having them work in a room that has been refrigerated to such a level that their breath shows up on screen, and everything that 14 year-old Linda Blair had to go through in this film.

Friedkin also used several single-frame inserts of the "devil's face" that some people will not even notice. Also, the strange sounds coming from the room is actually the sound of pigs being slaughtered. All of the subliminal touches and hellish conditions really add to the effect of the film. Another technique that I noticed was that there's often a cut from a loud, violent situation to a quiet, calm setting. The effect is extremely unnerving.

The climax of the film, the infamous exorcism scene...is one of the most brilliant moments in film history that still has a HUGE impact even to this day. Keep in mind that all the effects were accomplished without the use of CGI. Which is great, because if they were done with computers, it would look 1000% fake, even if they did it today.

Friedkin really shines here as director, creating many memorable scenes and dozens of physically and aesthetically brilliant shots. His use of the camera is impeccable, and this is surely the greatest film he has ever made to this date, and most likely his best of all time. It's clearly one of the most impactful horror films ever made, and one of the greatest films, period.

If there was one complaint I have, it is the archaeological dig at the beginning of the film. It really doesn't give us any necessary information and doesn't fit with the rest of the film. Other than that, everything is great, especially the cinematography and music (Tubular Bells is a classic).

I'd like to end this review by pointing out something that you will NEVER see in another film ever again. A doctor smoking in a hospital. Watch for it.
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10/10
Everyone should see this movie.
14 August 2005
No film has ever touched me the same way as The Elephant Man.

When you look at the surface and see the names David Lynch and Mel Brooks involved with this movie, you will most definitely get a different view than what it is actually like before you see it. What astonishes me about that fact is that it's also a central theme for the movie: Don't judge a book by it's cover.

I have seen more movies than I can count and this is by far the most emotionally human out of them all. There are several scenes which are so devastating, that you forget you're actually watching a movie. The way certain characters treat John Merrick are simply cruel. Especially after we find out what Merrick is REALLY like. On the outside, he's a disgusting mess, but on the inside...he's one of the kindest, most gentle characters that you can think of.

The academy completely robbed John Hurt of a much-deserved Oscar for best actor that year. I'll be the first to say that Deniro's performance in Raging Bull was also amazing, but Hurt played his role in a way that no other actor in the world could have. I saw none of John Hurt in The Elephant Man...just 100% John Merrick.

This film is almost perfect. I saw almost because I am still looking for flaws. So far, I haven't found any. The story is extremely uplifting and also very sad at the same time. The acting is out of this world, and David Lynch's directing really contributes to the greatness of the whole project. The last half-hour or so is especially noteworthy. In particular, the final scene with Barber's Adagio For Strings music (used also in Platoon) helping out a tremendous deal.

Everyone should see this movie. If you are not emotionally touched by it, then you are not human.
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6/10
Schizophrenic Hitchcock rip-off
13 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Robert Zemeckis is a good director. It's too bad he blatantly resorted to copying Hitchcock rather than trying to be original. Ripping-off Hitchcock does not make your movie Hitchcockian.

You all know the plot of the movie, so I'm not going to waste my time explaining it. But what I will comment on instead is the severe "multiple personalities" of this film. First, it's a ghost story. Then, it's a murder mystery. The problem lies in the fact that there's too much going on in each story that any attempt to connect them feels overtly contrived. It doesn't gel naturally, and it leaves too many loose ends that nobody mentions after they disappear (despite making a big deal about them earlier). The biggest example of this flaw is the neighbors. First, the female lead character thinks the man next door killed his wife, and finds a bloody shoe on their porch to support her claim. Later on (much later on), we find out that the couple living next to our main characters really have NOTHING to do with the actual plot. A whole hour of film wasted on something that doesn't even matter. And they never ask for the shoe back, either...and it's never revealed how it got bloody in the first place.

I'm giving this movie a 6 out of 10 (which equals 3 out of 5 stars). The two lead characters were perfectly cast and anybody else playing their roles besides Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford would simply be wrong. Pfieffer because she is an outstanding actor (yes, actor. You don't call an author an authoress, do you?) and Ford because you will never expect him to play that kind of role...even while you're watching the movie. The cinematography is very good looking, if a little too bright. The sound design is especially noteworthy and helps a great deal in creating suspense. Alan Silvestri's 'Bernard Herrmann Psycho/Vertigo amalgam rip-off' score is too over-the-top for my liking and sometimes used when it silence would not only suffice, but enhance the viewing experience. And like I said before, Robert Zemeckis is a very talented director. He does a great job here, creating some very unique shots and generating suspense at key moments.

But one thing that really sucked was the ending. Anyone who has at least seen one thriller before will see it coming from 3 miles away. Not the big twist, but everything that happens after it: the chemical that was explained earlier for no reason at all, the killer not really being dead, the killer not really being dead for a second time, the killer following the protagonist as she makes her escape, etc. It's 10 minutes worth of film and the audience is already at 11 minutes. Personally, I don't like being able to predict what will happen in a thriller, like I did when the dog came into the bathroom during the séance.

This is a strange kind of film where there is a lot of bad, but even more good. Even the bad scenes are good, on their own. When they are all together in one film, it's still bad, however, outweighed by the good. Get it? Good.

I'd just like to say again that not only is Michelle Pfeiffer one of the most beautiful women in the history of the world, but she is also a very talented actor. She definitely deserved some kind of award for her performance in this film. She carried the movie despite it's many flaws and made it worth watching, and she should do more movies now that I think about it.
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Magnolia (1999)
2/10
Pretentious, incongruous, and simply boring.
27 July 2005
I saw Boogie Nights before Magnolia, so I was obviously excited about this film. Three hours later, I found that my excitement had turned to boredom.

This film's major flaw is the characters. None of them are 3-dimensional and we really have no reason to care for any of them. They simply exist to go through random occurrences for the sake of randomness. None of them are given anything exciting to do, and none of them are nearly as developed as they should be. In fact, some of the characters don't even serve a purpose in the film at all! Julianne Moore's character is the prime suspect of that crime. She's addicted to drugs, cries over her dying husband, and tries to kill herself. And somehow, we're supposed to feel sorry for her. Guess what? Doesn't work. We are given no REASON to feel sorry for her. We are never given any reason to feel sorry for ANOBODY in this movie. They are simply there. They do things and that is it. Seriously, why the hell am I supposed to give a damn if some know-it-all brat pisses his pants?

The beginning of this film showed promise. In an over-long opening sequence, three urban legends are examined for their mysterious coincidences. But sadly, there is nothing even remotely as bizarre or exciting in the actual movie. People meet other people and that's the extent of it.

Speaking of people, let's take a look at some of the characters:

There's some kid who pisses his pants, a dying old man and his overly emotional male nurse, the old man's wife who does nothing, a cop (the most interesting character, mostly because of John C. Reilly), a drug addict (not the old man's wife, a different drug addict), the guy played poorly by Tom Cruise (unsure of his official title), a gay man who wants to get braces to impress a bartender (what?!), and many more.

Instead of actually having any reason to care about these character's unhappy lives, we are TOLD to care. Doesn't work.

Cinematically speaking, this film is actually well-directed, edited, the cinematography is great, but the music is over-used. The film could also be shortened by about a half hour by simply not following around unimportant character from place to place before they vanish and are never to be seen or heard from again. What a total waste.

If you actually believe that this film is original at all, just watch Short Cuts and you'll see the truth. Magnolia is a rip-off. A bad one where everyone has to cry every 5 minutes and sing together at the end before something totally outrageous happens for no reason at all and with no explanation.

And speaking of Exodus 8:2, you will notice a lot of 8's and 2's in the film. Thing is, it's too overt. It's pretentious because Anderson is showing people how clever he is instead of actually being clever and letting people see it on their own. I'll even give an example of this whole "cleevrness with numbers" deal with THE SHINING:

Danny wears a jersey with number 42 Danny and his mom watch the movie Summer of 42 Half of 42 is 21 There are 21 pictures on the Gold Room wall The July 4th Ball was in 1921 The mirror image of 21 is 12 (mirrors play a key role in The Shining) The two times shown via screen titles are 8 PM and 4 PM (8+4=12) The radio call sign for the Overlook Hotel is KDK 12

Anderson has a lot to learn.
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1/10
Second-hand, second-rate cut-and-paste job.
17 June 2005
To quote the great Terry Rossio:

"There are many films with the goal 'to find your way home.' But there's only one film where a girl clicks together a pair of ruby slippers."

What that basically means is that the goal of many stories is essentially the same. The 'find your way home' example is used in films such as E.T., The Wizard of Oz, and Back To The Future, just to name a few. Only one of those has ruby slippers. Only one has a bicycle fly past the moon. Only one has a time-traveling Delorean.

The goal of 'criminals getting together to pull off the perfect heist' has been used is such films as The Killing, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, and City on Fire...just to name a few. Only one had an un-chronological order to the events. Until Reservoir Dogs. Only one had the criminals use color-coded names to keep their identities anonymous. Until Reservoir Dogs. Only one had an undercover cop infiltrate a gang of crooks and befriend another crook, only to get shot during the process of the robbery, until he confesses the truth to his new friend. Until Reservoir Dogs.

If you cannot see that this entire film is just a cut and paste job, then you have to be mentally impaired. And that is not an insult.

As far as originality goes, Tarantino hasn't got to that point yet. The point where he creates something on his own. This is just a second hand, second rate cut and paste job that is only mildly entertaining on first viewing. Upon seeing the film subsequent times, it only gets worse, and it's (very many) flaws only stand out to an even more obvious extent. This is a bad movie even for someone who has never directed anything before in his life.

The film starts with a discussion that might as well be about Jesus, pancake syrup, or the duties of the school crossing guard. None of these have anything to do with the story...much like the conversation we see before the opening credits roll. Which brings me to another discussion that takes place later on in the film...something about Lady E and a superglue incident. How is this any of our business? How does it advance the story? What do we get out of it besides a possible forced laugh of pity? It's not our business, it does not advance the story, and we get nothing out of that scene at all. You can literally remove it and be left with the same exact film, just without that scene. From the point before that scene started to after it finished, NOTHING HAS CHANGED AT ALL. It's complete filler. A total waste of time.

This movie would have been pretty good without extraneous scenes floating around, popping up at random, and taking entirely too long to finish. The best example of this is the whole Tim Roth segment. It interrupts the flow of the story and it simply not fun to watch. It's a huge dead moment right before the climax of the movie and it's very easy to simply lose interest at that point. When the finale does come, it's more of a "good, it's over" point rather than any kind of realization. Tarantino couldn't even create a good third act when he literally just copied the third act from City on Fire, and in some cases...shot for shot!

Resertvoir Dogs showed us nothing that we have not seen before...literally. The only positive thing about it is the cast, and that's even not so great. Most of the dialogue is just screaming and f-words being used like it's going out of style (and it has, thanks to films like this), and the "infamous" and "extreme" violence is about on par with The Lion King. So if you're thinking about watching this movie...just watch a good heist movie instead. I suggest:

The Killing The Asphalt Jungle The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
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Scream (1996)
1/10
I screamed alright.
1 June 2005
I screamed because of how bad this movie is.

We'll start with Wes Craven. The guy made one good movie in his whole career...A Nightmare On Elm Street. And even that could have been twice as good as it is. This is just more generic crap from the Craven factory.

Second, the writer. Kevin Williamson. I think that's his name. I'm not going to look it up either because he doesn't deserve it. Not only did he write this horrible piece of crap, but he also wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer (AKA Prom Night the remake). The only good thing about that was the possibility for a spoof called I Forget What You Did Last Summer. But enough of that crap (literally), let's get back to Scream.

The movie starts with a carbon-copy of the opening of When A Stranger Calls (which was fifty times scarier than everything Williamson and Craven did put together twice). Then we get into the actual movie, which is just constant references to other horror films.

My main gripe with this movie is not the writing or directing...but the characters. All of them. We literally have NO reason to care about ANY of them. Rose McGowan is nice to look at, but that's as far as it goes. But the worst is the actual killer himself. I know they were trying to break the invincible horror movie killer cliché intentionally, but they went WAY too far. This guy falls over at the drop of a hat! Instead of being totally indestructible, he's just plain clumsy. And why on Earth was he dressed up in his disguise while at the grocery store in broad daylight? And when the identity of the killer is finally revealed, it's really no shock considering he did absolutely nothing for the whole film, not to mention that he has no motive except for some little soap-opera bullcrap that we're just supposed to believe. It doesn't come as any type of shock at all.

Is this movie horror, or comedy? It tries to be both but never goes far enough in either direction and just ends up being neither funny nor frightening. Williamson and Craven think that referencing great horror movies means that theirs will be great, too. All that did was remind me of how awesome a movie like Halloween is and how pathetic this tripe is.

But the worst to come out of this movie is actually it's influence on other horror films to come. The fresh teen cast, all featured on the cover art in the same exact fashion as this movie. If you're ever at the video store and see a box cover that mimics that of Scream's cover...just walk away. Because honestly...what Scream-influenced movie was even halfway decent? None.

Scream is anti-horror. It's everything that a horror movie should NOT be. Fresh teen cast, bright cinematography, clumsy/harmless killer, fast-cut editing, banal directing, forgettable action movie score, references to other horror movies, too much comedy, unbelievable sequences, characters that we have no reason to care for, and to top it all off...it spawned countless imitators that were even worse! Do yourself a favor...don't watch this. Watch something great instead. Something like Rosemary's Baby.
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10/10
The film which you are about to see is not true...but very amazing.
9 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
For all those who think this film was based on a true story, that's false. Hooper's idea was to make a whole family of Ed Gein-like characters, but all the events are completely fictitious.

---==BIG SPOILERS AHEAD==---

I'll have to be honest...the first time I saw this movie, I was disappointed. Maybe because it was not what I expected, but each time seeing it since, I have grown to love it twice as much as the last time. I'd personally rank it in my top 5 favorite horror movies, and top 10 favorite films of all time.

This movie is a success in many ways. One is that nobody can duplicate it and it's desired effect. This film was made on a tiny budget with totally inexperienced actors and many of the crew as well. But that never stopped it from influencing practically every horror film that came after it.

The directing...excellent. Especially when considering what they had to work with and the conditions they were working in. Several beautiful shots, like the under-the-swing tracking shot, and Leatherface pulling Pam into the house from the front porch IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. As you can tell, this movie is made without remorse. Nobody is safe and no place is safe. Not even a beautiful and innocent young girl in the bright Texas sun. Not even a helpless cripple in a wheelchair. Not even the audience.

There's a very extended sequence in the final third of the film in which the character Sally is kidnapped and strapped to a chair made from human bones and forced to eat dinner with this completely psychotic family. During this scene, we almost literally see her go insane. And speaking of characters, special mention must be given to Franklin, who is the most believably annoying character I have ever seen. He's also crippled, and confined to a wheelchair. Near the end of the film, he gets attacked by Leatherface and sawed to death. Would ANYBODY have the balls to film a scene like that today? Never.

Another thing that I must mention is how Tobe Hooper slowly brings the movie from a seemingly peaceful yet questionably strange setting to one of complete and total insanity...and make it work. You'd think Hooper himself wasn't playing with a full deck. But when watching a movie with the title The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, what else would you expect? One thing you wouldn't have guessed is that this movie is essentially free of gore, sex, nudity, and strong profanity. The title is actually very misleading.

The movie starts with a decaying body being photographed (along with the most un-nerving sound effect EVER), two other corpses tied to a tombstone, a dead animal on the side of the road, etc. So right from the start, you kind of know what you're in for. But who could have ever expected to see an ending like the one in the movie? The grandfather, who can barely move, is trying to bludgeon Sally to death while the rest of the family watches. Sally escapes and runs away during sunrise while the hitchhiker follows closely from behind, cutting her with a straight razor. Sally reaches a road and the hitchhiker is crushed by a truck in a very brutal scene. Sally, now covered in blood, runs from Leatherface (as does the truckdriver). Sally hops into the back of a pick-up truck and is driven away, laughing with hysterical insanity. And what makes it believable apart from the great acting, is that from the start, she's the least likely character you'd see like that. So before the movie ends, Leatherface is dancing in the middle of the road wearing a suit and tie and twirling his chainsaw around in circles, first thing in the morning. Who the hell thought of that?

I'd also like to make special mention of the excellent audio commentary on the DVD (I have the Pioneer special edition with the original cover art, not sure if the commentary is different on subsequent releases). Very informative, especially about the working conditions and how much everyone really suffered, Marylin Burns in particular...jumping off a house, getting cut for real, falling on concrete repeatedly, filthy rag in her mouth, broom stick beatdowns, etc. But the commentary is also very funny, believe it or not.
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Dead Calm (1989)
10/10
I haven't seen a film like this in a very long time.
8 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'll start this review by saying that I will probably be spoiling certain scenes from the film, so if you haven't seen it, go to Circuit City and buy the DVD for $7.99. You won't be disappointed.

OK. Now, the start of the review. I just watched this film for the first time last night and I was truly blow-away. I expected just another generic thriller, but I was thankfully very wrong.

This film has everything working in it's favor and working together. The directing is very good. Each shot serves it's particular purpose and does not draw too much stylistic attention to itself. The script was very well-structured and develops each of the 3 main characters just enough before the film kicks into high gear. And when the action/thrills start, they don't stop. The film has an excellent pace and never drags on at any point like most films do in general.

One thing that deserves special attention is the use of sound and music. The beginning is literally a dead calm. Not much music at all, just ambient sounds that ratchet up the tension little by little. The cinematography is also very clean and colorful. Doesn't look dated at all, except for a few scenes in the very beginning of the movie. But once the story moves onto the boat(s), it looks like it was filmed yesterday.

One thing that I liked about this film is, like all great thrillers...just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. It gets much worse.

But of course this film has it's share of minor questionable actions, particularly by Sam Neill's character, who gets stranded on a sinking ship. Instead of wasting time trying to pump the water out of the room he's trapped inside, why not just break through the weak bottom like he ends up doing anyway? Oh well, I can forgive that. A character in a life and death situation like that probably won't be thinking as clearly as someone who is sitting in the comfortable safety of their living room, so it's easy to forget about.

I almost was going to complain about the "friday the 13th" ending (see: Fatal Attraction), but when I saw how the situation was dealt with, I instantly forgave them. Very shocking way of disposing of a character if I do say so myself.

I highly recommend this film for all thriller fans. This is one of the most suspenseful movies I have seen in a very long time. It's a shame that they don't make them like this any more.
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4/10
Makes Cyber Tracker 2 look like The Terminator.
30 April 2005
It's pretty hard to go from good to bad, especially if the good is very good and the bad is absolutely terrible. But the Wash-out-ski's managed to pull it off...and guess what? They did it on purpose.

Yes, Andy and Lynda made this movie suck on purpose. The original Matrix (which isn't very original) was written well and several years were spent working on the script, and it shows. That's why so many people love it. So when making a sequel, the Wash-out-ski's realized that people will see it anyway, whether it's good or not. People going into this movie had nothing to judge it by except for the first film.

The Wash-out-ski's may be thieves, liars, nerds, and homosexuals...but they aren't dumb. Why spend so much time and effort to make it good when people will go and see it anyway? That's exactly what they were thinking. It's why this film broke box office records and the second didn't come close. Because when going into the third and hopefully final Matrix film, the audience had more to judge it by. They saw how awful this piece of crap was, and decided not to see revolutions.

So what's so bad about this movie? First, there's the dialogue. One chunk of exposition after another. Sitting there and watching a bunch of idiots explain everything is boring. There's also a big scene that explains why Tank is not in the movie. The problem is: we now know all of this stuff about Link...and we never knew that much stuff about Tank. He's an important crew member, but they never spent any time giving us details beyond that he was freeborn. We get this history of Link, his problems with his wife, whether he should be reassigned to another ship, etc. I know they were trying to make Link into the non-believer who comes to believe...but we didn't need boring scenes to do that.

Then there's all the political crap with Morpheus and the commander. It's a boring subplot that we keep going back to but never goes anywhere. It kills the momentum of the story. There's also all the crap with the French guy and his (extremely hot) wife, where we learn about their marriage problems and all that. What the hell as the point of that? How is that any of our business? How does it advance the story? And the pointless fight scene with the Chineese guy...and then there's all the scenes where people are sitting around instead of DOING things.

Then the protagonist...Neo. He starts the movie the same way as he ends it. No character arc at all. He's just a God-like being that can beat anybody. A recipe for great fight scenes? No. The exact antithesis.

And speaking of the fight scenes...all I can say is WOW...and not in a good way.

Agent Smith is back just for the sake of being there. Not just Agent Smith, but countless duplications of himself. This scene had the potential to be really cool, but literally everything about it was just wrong. First, they give away Smith's duplicating ability before the fight. So instead of a shock moment where he duplicates while fighting Neo, we go into the fight knowing this already. The use of CGI would not be so bad if it wasn't so blatantly obvious and poorly executed. The scene also went on for 3 times longer than it had to. Neo vs. Smith, a bunch of Smiths, and EVEN MORE Smiths. OK, we get the point! And we all know that Neo will defeat Smith(s). But no...THE HERO RUNS AWAY! How are we supposed to connect with this character and be on his side when he's running away from a fight?

Then on to the big freeway chase. No suspense, no drama, no excitement at all. How can this be? Simple: CGI. It doesn't look like the characters are actually in any kind of danger. It looks like a video game. You know, a racing game where you just put the pedal to the metal and speed the whole way through it without a care in the world. Crashing into the walls? No sweat. We'll be fine. That's exactly what I was thinking while watching this scene. Oh no, I hope Trinity's stunt double doesn't crash head-on into a computer generated car! Give me a break. And let's not forget about the CGI ghost twins that look out-dated by more than a decade. Very scary indeed.

I must ask this question: What is the plot of this movie? By the looks of it, there is none. Just seemingly random events happening to people we don't have any reason to care about. The first Matrix film was about Neo being the chosen one and all that, but what the hell is going on here? There's a big section devoted to this Keymaker character who is supposed to be extremely important and legendary...but that didn't work at all. Remember in the first film how legendary Trinity and Morpheus were, even before Neo met them? Here, the Keymaker is just some dude we never heard of before and doesn't seem all that important. He's no legend.

And what happened to the mind-bending aspect of the original? Why don't we go down the rabbit hole in reloaded? Instead, it's all matter-of-fact, changing sci-fi to fantasy. Remember how cool it was that the mechanical devices like the bug they plant in Neo seem to be living organisms in the first film? Where's that kind of thing in this film? We're treated to boring politics, needless exposition and back stories of characters that don't really do anything that warrants the need to know all this personal information about them.

I won't even comment on the horrible acting, bad directing, and the Neo-Trinity sex scene. That speaks for itself, as does the bile you will puke up after seeing it.
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