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Star Trek (2009)
Boldly Goes Where No Star Trek Movie Has Gone Before
I'm not a Trekkie, and although I don't hate the Star Trek franchise, I'm not a huge fan of it either. I'm more like the child/girlfriend/wife who gets dragged to the movie by father/boyfriend/husband. Usually I have to suffer through or at the very least, tolerate, the movie for about 2 hours. I was expecting less from this one, since it was a remake and usually remakes don't measure up to the originals. I was totally wrong. This movie was 100% better than I expected.
What made this movie, IMO, a 9? Well, for starters, it has a fantastic opening sequence. A federation ship is attacked by a Romulan mining ship about 1,000 times its size. The new captain, realizing that either escape or fighting back is futile, evacuates the entire crew and to create a diversion, crashes the federation ship into the Romulan ship. Just before he dies, the captain's wife gives birth to his son, who is named James Tiberius Kirk.
The rest of the movie follows James Kirk and Spock through critical moments during their childhood and teenage years, leading up to their early days in the Starfleet Academy. The movie explains how the original crew of the Enterprise met and eventually came together. Truth to tell, I was never interested in these characters back stories at all in the past, but this movie made these iconic characters and their histories humanized and fully relatable (yes, even Spock, who supposedly has no emotions, has his softer side brought out).
Though played by different actors, the resemblance to the original cast is uncanny. Also, although the sets were obviously more advanced than the 1960's series, their uniforms and the spaceship have that 1960's vibe without being dated. Plus there are several odds twists in the movie that I will not reveal here but one of which is extremely clever on the director's part.
If you think it's starting to sound like a sci-fi "Lifetime" movie, trust me, it's not. There is tons of action, from start to finish. This film would give "Die Hard" a run for its money on the number of action sequences. It seems like Kirk gets beaten up about 43 times throughout this movie, but only suffers a few superficial scratches. That and a few of the plot devices, like how Kirk, 'grounded' for cheating on an exam, gets abroad the Enterprise, are a little far fetched at times, which is why I gave it a 9 instead of a 10. Other than that, it's a fantastic movie that I recommend all girlfriends of 'Star Trek' fans go see.
Nick & Nora 's Infinitely Boring Movie
When I saw this movie, I wasn't expecting it to be Oscar winning material, but thought it would be at least mildly entertaining and would have a good storyline. The trailer seemed slightly promising. In the beginning of the movie, when it was shown that Nick has a passion for music and constantly burns CD's of his favorite songs in order to woo his beautiful but very young looking ex-girlfriend Tris, I mistakenly assumed it had the potential to be a good film. You see, I was the mix tape queen in high school. And like Nick, I would send mix tapes to my boyfriend (now husband), including decorating the cases, all the time. But unfortunately, the movie went down hill from there.
This isn't the worst film I've ever seen, but it's definitely the most boring. Why, you ask? There are many reasons--the main one being that the main characters Nick and Nora are both very vanilla. They're nice kids, but I wasn't given enough info and back story to want to sympathize with them and care about their lives and their blossoming relationship. Also, the actors' who play Nick and Nora have absolutely no chemistry together. I believed they liked each other, but didn't believe it was the hip version of 'Romeo and Julliet' the movie was making it out to be. It was more like a one night stand at best. Also, the movie itself tried too hard to be artsy and cool, and utterly failed at it. Instead, it was more like a gross-out teen comedy minus the comedy and double the grossness. Beyond making me want to lose my lunch, I found it to be very very dull. The entire movie involves Nick, Nora and their friends going to various venues in NYC to find their favorite band, Where's Fluffy. Yep, that's it. Honestly, I think I've seen more interesting things take place on C-Span in the same 90 minutes.
Also, the movie is extremely unrealistic. There is no way in real life Nick would be able to date anyone like Tris or Nora. He's very average looking, working class & acts kind of nerdy. Perhaps being in a rock band would give him that extra charisma needed to attract very rich hotties, or maybe he's just good in bed and word got around. It's slightly possible but still it's not enough to be believable. Also, these kids are 18, 19 at the oldest (all are still in high school), how are they able to roam about NYC club hopping at ungodly hours? Don't you have to be 21 to get into these clubs? And all their parents are okay with this? (I know a few parents are like this but most aren't) So, I suppose that it's not only a 'comedy' but a 'fantasy' too.
Maybe if you're 13, you'd like this movie because it seems 'cool'--that is, if you're an immature 13 year old. If you're over that age, and especially if you're an old fart like me, who saw 'Sixteen Candles' and 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' at the movies, you are not going to like this film, trust me on this.
Babylon A.D. (2008)
What Is Going On Here?
I'm not a big fan of action movies but there are a couple of very good ones out there so I decided to give this one a try. I heard all the bad press about it (the director disowned this movie, saying it had been edited to death).
Well, let's just say if you're looking for a breathtaking movie with in-depth characters, don't look here. But if you like non-stop action and/or a big fan of Vin Diesel's and don't care too much about the plot making sense or getting to know the characters, you're in luck.
For an action movie, it's not that bad. I honestly didn't think it was a total disaster. Vin was probably the perfect choice for the main character, Toorop, a gruff former American living in exile in Eastern Europe sometime after the year 2017. I thought the other actors were well casted for their parts also. They have some big names in this movie, like Michelle Yeoh, Gerard Depardieu, and Charlotte Rampling. I thought they all did well for what they were given (which isn't much BTW).
The movie's biggest fault is that it is very hard to follow. I found myself very confused by the plot developments, many which seem to appear out of nowhere. The character of Aurora is the most confusing. She has some kind of special power or perhaps it's a mental problem that just seems like a special power. I could never figure out what exactly was wrong with her. Also, she is genetically programmed by a religious order called the Noelites and I couldn't understand why the Noelites wanted her all of a sudden and why Aurora and Toorop decided the Noelites shouldn't have her. It's very obvious when watching this movie that major scenes that should have been kept have been edited out. The plot isn't all that realistic (not that I expected that) but even within this imaginary future things happened that are borderline ludicrous. The fight scenes looked too choreographed too be realistic. The worst part of the movie, though, is the ending. I won't give any of it away (not that it matters) but the ending seems very tacked on, doesn't seem to match the rest of the movie, and is even more confusing and lame than beginning and middle of the movie is.
I wouldn't say the movie is a total mess, since I've seen much worse, but let's say this thing isn't going win an Oscar any time soon. If you like cheesy action movies though, you could order it on Netflix or rent it from Redbox and you might possibly enjoy it.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
A little hysterical, yes, but all in all a great film.
I saw this at the theater on opening day and although we went to the midnight showing, the theater was 3/4 full. I saw the musical about five years ago and it was excellent. I was really hoping this would live up to the incredibly high standards of the stage show.
And I must say that it did. There was a plus also. While the stage version had cartoonish looking sets, the movie shows you the real deal--breathtaking shots of an actual Greek isle. It was so gorgeous that I wanted to jump into the screen and be there.
The plot is very simple and revolves around Abba songs. A girl who has never known her father sneaks a peek into her mother's diary and sends invites to her upcoming wedding to the three men her mother slept with approximately nine months before she was born--without her mother's consent. I'm a huge Abba fan, and it probably does help to love Abba's music. But I think you don't have to be a fan to love this movie. My husband hates disco music; Abba is basically the only disco act he'll listen to and he adored the musical and loved the movie. As long as you don't hate Abba you'll probably enjoy it.
I was worried with the stage play that the performers wouldn't do the songs justice. I didn't think anyone could top Agnetha and Frida. Well, the performers' version was pitch perfect. When I heard the movie was coming out last year, I worried if Meryl, Amanda & Pierce and the rest of the gang would do the songs justice. I had no idea if any one of them ever sang before. Well, after watching the movie, I was really impressed with how well everyone performed the songs. Amanda was the best singer, and although Pierce isn't exactly Pavarotti, I didn't think he was an American Idol reject either. Let's just say he was just good enough to pass muster.
I've read some of the negative reviews and I do have to agree on a few things. If giddiness and pure joy to the point of hysteria make you want to jump off a cliff, then I wouldn't recommend this movie. Meryl's character Donna and her daughter Sophie are very excitable people. For some reason I didn't notice it in the stage play but I did here, though. But basically it's part and parcel of the musical genre, and I didn't think it detracted from the movie that much.
The scenery looks very beautiful, but all the people in the movie look awful. In most movies, everybody looks flawless and thin. Not here. I don't think anyone had any makeup on, it was obvious a lot of the actors were sweating profusely, and some of them had gained a few pounds. It was sort of refreshing to see and most of the younger actors looked gorgeous nonetheless, but it did make it hard to believe that Meryl was supposed to be in her early forties. Meryl is 58 years old and she definitely looks it in this movie. Pierce, who was always so suave as James Bond, looks even older, like he could be in his sixties. I think it was the biggest detraction for me and why I didn't give it 10 stars. Also, the time line is a little messed up, it seems like it was set in the present, but two of the possible fathers were hippies. My guess is that it was set about ten years ago, when the musical first came out, but even that is pushing it.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed the movie and I think it is just as good as the musical on stage. It definitely lived up to the hype and I wouldn't mind seeing it again. I think anyone who likes musicals and having a good time will definitely enjoy this movie.
About the same caliber of film-making as "Laser Cats"
Someone bought me this DVD for Xmas about four years ago, and I never opened it or watched it until recently. Let's say I severely regretted doing so. I honestly should have chucked it unopened in the garbage bin after I came to this website and checked the reviews. Too bad I can't turn back time, like an hour and a half of it approximately.
I hate to bash movies, but this one is begging for it. I have watched quite a few low budget movies, some of them being fantasy/sci-fi. The low production values are usually a little bit of a distraction, but a strong script and good acting can pick up the slack in other areas of the movie at least enough for me to enjoy it. That is SO not the case here.
There are a few good things about the movie and I'll list them first so I won't seem 'biased'. 1. Whoever did the make-up did a fairly decent job. 2. Max is a cute kid 3. Fetch is hot and I love his accent and 4. The princess is very pretty. That's about it. Everything else was just god awful, the worse thing being the sound. It doesn't line up with the voices, the sound goes in and out, there are strange noises in the background, etc. The sound effects are also extremely cheesy. Basically it's a hot tranny mess all up in the sound department.
The next worst thing is the special effects. I wouldn't call them 'special' by any means. I actually thought this was a much older movie because the effects make it look extremely dated. Whoever imposed the 'sparkles' on the film had a computer that was about 20 years old. Anybody, even my mother-in-law (who can't use a computer to save her life) who owns a recent computer, can make better special effects than what are shown in this movie. I kid you not.
Next is the acting. Actually, I wouldn't call it that--I'd call it 'reading off of a poster board in the background'. This isn't the worst movie I've seen (though it makes the top 5) but in terms of acting ability, it is the only film I've ever seen where not one person in the film can talk like a real live human being. I swear they all sound like robots (which would have probably have made it a cooler movie).
The plot--oh, I don't know--I have seen lamer plots, but this one is pretty bad. There is absolutely nothing original about it. It freely rips off ideas from much better movies--like Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, etc., but it most resembles The Neverending Story. It pains me to think of the wreck they made of my favorite childhood movie. I'll never be able to watch it in the same way again.
All in all, this movie is really horrible and I beg you not to see it. Though, actually, I thought of another thing that was good about it. 5. It gives amateur filmmakers hope, because I can't think of anyone who could make a movie and do a worse job. Anybody, even someone who's never directed, acted or even seen a movie before could make a far superior film and have thousands upon thousands of DVD's created and placed in the bargain bin at Wal-Marts all over the country. I don't know how to act or direct but it might be worth it for me to make a low budget Merchant-Ivory type film. At least I know how to write a decent script and my computer is only a year old instead of 20. Just those two things would make my movie infinitely better than this one, and your amateur movie, no matter the genre or plot, would be an improvement on this one also.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Should Be Called 'Forgettable' Sarah Marshall
I went to see this movie a week ago, because of all the good reviews it's been given. Richard Roeper said it was 'one of the greatest comedies of all time'. It was also produced by Judd Apatow, who directed "The 40 Year Old Virgin", which is most definitely one of the greatest comedies of all time. So, of course, I went to the theater expecting to laugh my butt off. Needless to say, the movie did not live up to the hype at all. It wasn't a horrible movie, but it definitely wasn't the best either. I must admit it had potential, but I think the ball was dropped on this one.
For one thing, for a comedy, it wasn't that funny. It had it's amusing moments, but only one or two laugh out loud moments. I could see there were a few lines that I think the writers intended to be funny, but they were awkward and fell flat. And there were a few too many melodramatic moments for my liking. It's not really a straight out comedy, it's more like a raunchy chick flick with a few humorous moments.
Another thing, the editing is atrocious. I don't usually notice that sort of thing, but the cuts were so abrupt it was almost a distraction. Obviously, the person working in the editing room either had too much to drink the night before, had no idea what they were doing or perhaps it was a combination of both.
There was also a lot of bad acting. The main characters are mostly TV actors and it was painfully obvious that they aren't ready for the big screen. Jason Segal, who played Peter Bretter, was the biggest offender. Though he's cute, there was no way someone as gorgeous as Kristen Bell would ever give him a second look in real life. The audience was told repeatedly in the movie that Peter was extremely charismatic, charming and funny as heck. The problem is that he was actually none of those. He's actually very average, boring and not very funny. There is also no way that someone like Mila Kunis' character, Rachel, who is also extremely beautiful and has a pretty wild life, would ever fall for him either. The two people who really shine in this movie is Russell Brand as perverted rocker Aldous Snow and Bill Hader, who plays it straight and serious as Peter's step-brother Brian.
And I wasn't the only one who thought this way. The theater was half full and no one except my husband and I laughed throughout the whole film. And we only laughed maybe once or twice.
All in all, it wasn't that great and I regretted having spent nine dollars in order to see it. If you're really interested in watching it, I'd wait until it comes out on DVD and then I'd get it from the Redbox. If you don't watch it with high expectations, then you might enjoy it.
Not Even A Renter!
I happened to see this on the weekend it opened. I knew there was going to be trouble when a total of five people (and that included me, my husband & father-in-law) were in the theater. And as I watched the movie, I was desperately wishing I was one of the lucky millions who didn't bother to attend. I'm guessing the other four people thought the same thing, because no one laughed once, and the two people I didn't know in front of me started talking to each other 1/4 of the way into the movie. As for me, I consider it to be in the top five of the worst movies I've ever seen.
Granted, this wasn't the easiest story to adapt to film. It has a very convoluted plot and a lot of scenes would require major CGI effects. Still, with the right director, a script written by someone who was familiar with Douglas Adams' work, and the right casting, this film could have been brilliant. But none of that happened and the movie is an utter disaster and it shows. This is the directors' first attempt at a movie and believe me, it is very obvious. The camera work, sets, costumes, etc. are messy and amateurish. The script seems to be written by an American who never bothered to read any of the Hitchhiker stories and apparently didn't care. The script has been Hollywoodized and Americanized without any of Adams' wit. And the casting...oy vey...they went horribly wrong with this. The only one they got right was Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent. Everyone else was very ill suited to their roles and uttered their lines like they were reading from cue cards, with the exception of Sam Rockwell, who went out of his way to overact and be as annoying as humanly possible in the role of Zaphod Beetlebrox. In the middle of the movie where he is basically in a semi-comatose state, I was relieved that finally they got him to shut up! This was the part I was most disappointed in. In the books, Zaphod is my favorite character. He is an idiot and jerk in the books, but his charm and sense of humor more than make up for this. In the movie, he is simply an idiot and jerk with an grating southern accent. And in the movie, his heads are one on top of the other and once in a great while, the other 'head', (which is nastier than the original Zaphod, if that is possible) pops up. My question is, why couldn't they make the heads side by side like in the original story? Anyway, the Zaphod character and changes they made with the head, make the movie look very low budget, even though it is not a low budget movie at all. (I read somewhere that the movie cost $50 million dollars to make.) So, if the plot has been tampered with, so all the wit and life has been sucked out of it, and the actors are horrible, and it's obvious the directors have no idea what they're doing, all you're left with is fantastic CGI right? NO! The special effects are passable, at best. They don't take advantage of the technology out there and there really isn't that much to see.
I think this movie is ripe for a remake. Heck, even though I've never directed a movie in my life, I could probably do a better job than than the dudes who directed it. I think anybody on the street could. At least I could dream up a better script to work with than the scriptwriting computer program that wrote this (the story's that by-the-numbers, trust me). I'm a writer myself and at least I'm familiar with Adams' work.
I'm not going to reveal the ending (not that it matters because the ending sucks), but they strongly hint at the possibility of a sequel. Oh Gahd, I hope not! I'll watch "Bride of Chucky" ten times over before I'll watch the TRAILER to the sequel to this movie.
If you see this at Redbox, don't even bother renting it. It's not worth the $1 expenditure nor your time. Actually, if someone just gives you the DVD for free, I'd just throw it in the trash and not watch it. Trust me, it is THAT BAD.
10 Items or Less (2006)
Okay Movie, Could Have Been Better
I had heard glowing reviews on this movie when it was first released, but didn't get a chance to see it in the theaters. I rented it recently, and honestly, it was sort of a letdown. I'm glad I didn't shell out the nine dollars to see it in the theater.
The plot is very simple. A long out of work, but well known actor (who's never named in the movie but played by Morgan Freeman), does some research for a role as a grocery store manager for a low budget indie movie. He is dropped off at a shabby little grocery/convenience store in a working class town he's never been to before. There he meets the highly unhappy Scarlet (Paz Vega), who he can see is both beautiful and smart. Being naive (obviously he's been out of the loop so long that he forgot what the world outside of his upper class neighborhood was like--or perhaps he was never 'in the loop' to begin with) he befriends and encourages Scarlet, going on various errands with her, including a job interview for a large construction firm.
If you're looking for action, this isn't the movie to see. There is almost no action here. And there's LOTS of dialogue. This is supposed to be one of those thoughtful little movies done on the cheap.
This isn't a bad movie, but there were many elements of it that bothered me. The biggest one is that it seemed too impressed with itself. I got the feeling that the person who wrote the script wanted this movie to make some important statement about life, but it never does get to that. Also, I got the impression that The Actor was sometimes belittling Scarlet and her surroundings. It seemed unrealistic that he wouldn't know that Target existed and that you could get a T-shirt for eight dollars. I think he always knew, but he was just making semi-uppity comments about it. Although he did genuinely want to help Scarlet, it seemed at the same time he felt she was beneath him and was 'grooming' her for a slightly elevated role in life.
Also what bothered me is that I got the feeling the actor only befriended Scarlet because she was beautiful and classy. If she was just smart, but Plain Jane, he probably wouldn't have even bothered with her. Later on, it appeared he was making the moves on her, even though he was married and had children. Although Paz Vega does a fantastic job playing the bitter and cynical Scarlet, it's obvious that the movie wants to show you it's her looks and gym toned body that are getting her places, not her brains.
I think Morgan Freeman is one of the best actors ever (he was incredible in 'The Shawshank Redemption') but he was miscast here. He's better in heavier, smarter roles. He can pull off the charm and outgoingness, but not the naiveté and goofiness of this character. I could see some of his lines were supposed to be funny, but they fall flat. I think more of a comedic, but still well respected actor, (Dustin Hoffman, maybe?) would have worked better here.
I didn't particularly care for the ending, either. I realize the writer didn't want to go with 'happily ever after', but this one wasn't particularly realistic or satisfying either. I was hoping for a little twist at the end, but this one just leaves the viewer flat.
Overall, it's an okay movie, but I wouldn't expect anything mind blowing, funny or particularly exciting. It's just a cute, bland little movie, and if you don't expect it to be more than that, then you'll be happy with it.