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Crank (2006)
7/10
Transporter 3 minus Kwai "Corey" Yuen
21 September 2006
I really enjoyed Transporter 3 I mean Crank. It's got a good plot, moves very fast, and has just about the greatest setup for an action movie of all time. I also fully buy the explanation for why Statham was so specifically drugged: that his rival thought he was an adrenaline junkie, and he wanted Statham to die in the most ironically humiliating way possible.

The biggest problem, though, is that Crank is NOT Tranporter 3, meaning Jet Li's usual stunt/fight choreographer, Kwai "Corey" Yuen of the Yuen brothers wasn't involved. So when it comes time for a fight scene, there isn't one. Instead Statham just runs up to the bad guy and snaps his neck in one move, even though it's virtually impossible to snap someone's neck (especially in midair when you're both falling...you need to brace yourself against the ground to get the inertia needed to rip the Trapezius muscle). In a world where Hard Boiled, The Killer, The Matrix, and Equilibrium have set the standard for gunfights with disarms and shootdodges, all Crank shows is people standing across from each other, pointing and shooting with no technique. The only cool move is what the main bad guy does when the grenade lands near him and he yells "get down!" So that's the real tragedy of Crank: it could have been the greatest action movie of all time except it didn't have any action.

The other main problem is that there was no way to present a satisfactory ending. If Statham survives, it's cheesy, and if he dies, it's depressing. The scriptwriter didn't exactly solve this paradox.

To nitpick, I didn't need an explanation of what the poison does every fifteen minutes. I got it from the trailer, thanks.

Also, what's up with the name "Chev Chelios." If that's a reference to something, I don't get it.

I still enjoyed it because the plot and humor stand up without the action, and the movie respects its adrenaline theme by not wasting the audience's time.
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9/10
I've got somethin' ta say!
14 September 2006
The movie of Candy-bearing Strangers is great, and all the better for following the extremely funny three-season series religiously. Every actor down to the secondaries returns except for Orlando and the original actor playing Jerri's dad. A few more famous faces show up here and there as guest stars, but the script wisely keeps our beloved characters in the center of attention. Like the series, SwC is a twisted parody on the after-school specials designed to indoctrinate teenagers with unltrasimplistic moral lessons, as experienced by a bunch of extremely stupid people with absurdly obvious "secrets." The pacing is constant, rather than wasting of the audience's time like most flicks. The cast is uniformly so good that as much as I love Stephen Colbert he doesn't even stand out. The writing is so good even Sarah Jessica Parker, who has never had a good role in her entire annoying career, is made funny in her two brief appearances. Two more miracles and the writers qualify for sainthood!
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Nacho Libre (2006)
6/10
Tolerable
14 September 2006
I've liked JB ever since his rare appearance on Mr. Show, but it seems like all he does these days is make bad movies because (apparently) he needs the money. Maybe someone needs to tell Mr. Black that the reason he's hired for movies with no jokes is that he's a comedian and the casting director expects him to adlib all the movie's jokes on set.

So the biggest problem is the script, which reflects its origin as a Nickelodeon production by not being funny. Worse is the outright assault on Christian Ascetism, which I find offensive because it's never actually or honestly dealt with. Supposedly the nonviolence issue is resolved by the statement that Luchador-ing is moral when the money won goes towards a good cause (like cute orphans), which is a total antithetical corruption of actual Christian nonviolence teachings. The final fight sequence has JB beating up the bad guy as the song lyrics "I am a very religious man" play in the background, for G-d's sake. As for the Vow of Chastity monks take, the movie ends with Nacho's lust still active but without resolving the question of whether he or the nun will break their vows. I don't mind disagreeing with a set moral outlook, but it annoys me when a traditional viewpoint with centuries of literature is grossly and obviously misrepresented or the movie cops out rather than offend anyone either way.

I still liked the movie because 1) Jack Black has enough charisma to polish this t-rd into watchability and 2) RASSLIN'! The wrestling scenes are all well done, and The Free Chip might as well be marketed as an action movie instead of a kid's comedy. The midget duo are played for laughs but those little guys have got some MOVES. There's also a move I've never ever seen before, where two wrestlers get behing our heroes, hook their legs with their own and their armpits with their arms, and roll onto their stomachs to hyperextend the heroes' backs; it's very rare for me to see any new fighting move, so well done.

All in all, one of Jack Black's better movies, but please, please tell some actual jokes next time.
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Daredevil (2003)
5/10
ugh....adaptations
3 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Not that I didn't enjoy the movie, but come on: with adaptations, the Director KNOWS the idea didn't get greenlit on the screenwriter's talent, but on fan demand for a character. Mark Steven Johnson didn't get Daredevil: the movie made, Frank Miller did, way back in the 1980s. So why is it they all insist on making pointless changes to the story? Some people say "oh, who cares about rabies fans and Canon as long as they make the movie better?" but they NEVER never make changes that improve the script, it's only changes that rile the character's fans. And why? Because the writer's ego demands it, and the studio knows true fans will see the movie no matter how much they hate it.

In descending order of importance: 1) Daredevil does not kill. (Neither does Batman, of course, but in both their first theatrical outings they kill their main nemesises). This fact allows for some of the better Daredevil comics, where he battles The Punisher to keep him from killing criminals.

2) Matt Murdock met Elektra in college, years before he took the Daredevil mantle. Elektra's father (a diplomat, not mobster) and she were taken hostage, Murdock wore a scarf--his first mask--and intervened, which accidentally led to Elektra's father's death. Neither Kingpin nor Bullzeye is involved in any of these events.

3) Daredevil got his powers by pushing an old man out of the way of a truck carrying toxic barrels. Where was the old man in the scene? Would it have been that hard to include him? 4) No priest ever knows of Daredevil's identity. One nun knows, his mother, but the list of people who know Matt Murdock's secret identity is much shorter than with most superheroes.

5) Elektra Natchios' hair is black, not brown. Hundreds of dollars of Hollywood-quality makeup spent per day, and no one brought a bottle of hair dye? She'll wear colored contacts, which involves shoving small plastic things in you eye, but not hair dye? 6)The fixer who tried to get Jack Murdock to throw the fight is named "The Fixer," not "Fallon," and the Fixer was Murdock's manager right up until the night of the fight. Also, no prior origin story ever claimed that Kingpin was involved until now.

7) Kingpin is white. And he doesn't sign his murders with roses.

8) "Battlin'" Jack Murdock's hooded costume is yellow, not red, and it's what gets made into Daredevil's initial costume.

9) Bullzeye wears a costume. One of the comic book versions of him has that bullzeye mutilation in his forehead, so that's tolerable, but if you're going to kill of his comic book archnemesis, at least let him go out properly.

10) Ben Urich was never bald.

11) Daredevil was trained by Stick. Granted, the movie doesn't totally establish he wasn't, but given Daredevil is one of the few superhero characters who earned his powers through martial arts training (unlike, say, being born a mutant or with Kryptonian blood), the idea that everything he has was granted by the silver plattered-toxic waste tasted wrong.

That said, it's not that great of a movie but I liked it anyway. I do that. Fight scenes aren't bad, the acrobatics reflect Daredevil's style properly, the central thesis of determination triumphing is still present, and I liked the fact that all the minor characters were named after the comic book writers and illustrators.
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Miami Vice (2006)
1/10
Completely Awful
31 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I came in with low expectations, hoping for a stupid action flick, and I was sorely disappointed. The "plot" is every undercover cop cliché except for drug use, strung together as if by a man whose only relationship with law enforcement was having seen old television shows about cops which themselves were written by writers whose only relationship to law enforcement was having seen other old television shows.

But all the movie really needed to work was a few good gun shootouts and I would have been happy. Instead, there's nothing interesting in terms of technique, choreography, or camera-work. Instead, we have Gong Li's audition for World's Worst Actress as she does her best wooden emotionless robot impression; we're supposed to develop empathy for a moral-less woman swimming in blood money whose only ONLY good characteristic is her willingness to sleep with a main character (and everyone else apparently)? The two main characters are totally indistinguishable ("Brooding" is not a character archetype, or at least not a good one) other than that one is black and the other isn't, and the bad guys are all idiotic zero-dimensional clichés.

The bad guys are all a joke and as bad as the plot is, it's still full of holes: there's never any explanation for why White Supremacists work for and/or buy from hispanics, who the leak is that starts the movie's "plot," why the movie is titled after a TV show it has nothing to do with, whatever happens to the main bad guy (no real ending), why the movie is titled after a job the main characters abandon 10 minutes in...why this got made in the first place...

Miami Vice started out OK, very stupid but at least very very fast, but 20 minutes in it slows down to a meandering 2.5 hour waste of time with 5 unnecessary sex scenes. It's honestly more of a softcore porn than a buddy cop movie. If my presence hadn't cost someone else his seat (overbooked theatre) and I hadn't been guilty, I would have walked out.

Who rated this higher than a 3? Are you sure you were on the right movie's page?
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9/10
Some Awe
28 July 2006
Theatred it because the eye candy deserved bigscreen viewing. The rotoscoping looks like a moving webcomic rather than smooth animation, and when characters move slowly the animation looks faker even though it was edited out of live footage. It's beautiful, but more than merely referencing a visual drug experience (and making me feel vaguely high), it serves to dissociate the audience; the characters are so well written that the suspension of disbelief would otherwise detract from the themes of identity crisis, Big Brother-style fascism, partenalistic anti-drug enforcement, and the question what is reality. The Scramble Suit effect used to hide drug officers' identities gives me a headache, but I loved it.

Supposedly this is the most faithful translation yet of a Phillip K. Dick novel, which explains why the exploration into drug culture and police-criminal duality is so deep. I loved all the little moments of genuine humor, which emerged from the excellent acting all around, with that nice current of morbidity running through it all because the jokes came at the expense of characters' drug-induced psychosis and brain damage. This is by far the best drug movie ever made (sorry, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas).

The story's plotwise good. I was greatfully grateful-y relieved that the script didn't pull a "Secret Window" (which featured the worst, most ripoff ending ever). And while the characters may be suffering from memory problems and schizophrenia, the action was completely internally consistent and linear for the audience to follow (i.e., you can tell what's a hallucination). This is a smart movie, though, if you're dumb you'll only leave confused. Only one small scene (where the blond morphs into the brunette on the Scanner readout) is confusing, and purposefully so, as the thesis of the movie is that nothing is certain, not even machines. Watch it.
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6/10
okay
28 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers limited to this review's end.

Steve Carrell's presence motivated my watching, and he does his first real acting job here. Every character he played on The Daily Show was "Constipated Failure-prone Man," with the wrinkles for The Office being that he's also "Overbearing but Needy Boss" with "poorly disguised Racist tendencies." And he performed that character well and I always laughed. But the character he plays here is the nice normal guy you'd want to be friends with, and he plays it well.

Essentially this movie is a character piece on 5 flawed people working for one little girl's dream and becoming slightly better people in the process. I appreciated the fact that no one's problems were instantly solved by the movie's end, the fact that the humor was understated and allowed to happen instead of forced, and the fact that the movie totally avoided toilet humor (that was nice).

Sadly, I saw the movie in a theatre full of idiots who guffawed and laughed and talked at every tiny second of near-whimsicality, even when things weren't that funny. "She's going to cry now." Really? Thank you for telling me that, idiot in the seat in front of me, I really couldn't tell from the tears welling up in her eyes, but now you've enhanced the movie for me! But that's just an argument against theatres in general, not Little Mrs. Sunshine itself.

I also liked the two philosophies competing in the movie, Nietszchean Nihilism and retreat from the world and Proustian character-building suffering, and the way they were subtly developed before Carrell's speech at the end. The two characters affiliated with either philosopher were the only two without any severe emotional problems. It's not *that* funny. It's not bad. But I could not abide by the way the filmmaker tried to play both sides of the issue between making fun of a child beauty pageant because it objectifies preteens for their sex appeal, and alternately having the little girl's onstage stripping be considered "sweet" because she was mentally innocent. And the use of the genteel "Well, I NEVER!" character? I hate that archetype; writers needed to stop using it in 1990.

S**P**O**I**L**E**R**S**!

Grandpa takes a moral stance that at his age, he might as well do heroin because he doesn't have long to live anyway so why not risk life for the drug pleasure? Well and good, but that's a baldfaced argument to make if you're not at least going to acknowledge the more longterm effects of H, like massive personality shifts and the destructive manic search for more money to get your next fix. But what really egged me was the way he OD's on the crank, and then a character goes "well, it was his time," as if Heroin were the same as the natural aging process. If you're going to make the argument for legalization or at least use of H, make it, but the way it was presented skirted the whole issue even when the facts were there.

And furthermore, how stupid did the parents have to be to let their little girl "practice her routine" with a known heroin user in a locked door without ever observing a practice or asking the girl to show them what grandpa was teaching her? I'm surprised he wasn't committing sexual abuse. And there's not a better note to end on than that, huh?
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2/10
Disgusting
24 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I dislike putting spoilers in a movie review, but it's impossible to explain what's really wrong with "Super"man without going through some of the worse plot points.

I'm a Batman man. Supey never earned his powers, he didn't train with the martial arts masters of the world, learn assassination from the greatest hit men, learn detective work, earn back enough money to afford gadgets, or study Science!(tm) to build said gadgets. No, Superman woke up with infinite strength, instantaneous speed, and superhuman hearing that lets him identify problems anywhere on Earth. So there's that.

Then there's the fact that the conflict here is nonexistent. Superman 2 had 3 Kryptonians battling it out with Ol' Red Underwear in central Metropolis, reflecting eyebeams off mirrors and tossing cars at each other, it was cool. But This Sman only faces Lex Luthor and the world's most common element: Kryptonite. Nor does Supy conquer anyone with anything other than flight and the Movie Laws of Physics(tm), which state that a tiny bar of Kryptonite reduces Superman to Cripple status (see also: horseback riding accident...too soon?), whereas an ENTIRE ISLAND with the K rock jutting out from everywhere can't stop Mr. Man from flying the California-sized Krypto-night island into space.

P, a friend of mine, has the theory that "The Man of Steel" ("Stalin" in Russian), with his red cape and nonmonetary agenda represents Socialism, while Lex Luthor Capitalism. Anyone else note that when Perry White says "Find out if he still stands for Truth, Justice...and all that," he DOESN'T say "and the American Way" like the quote is SUPPOSED to go?

eSe's a boring character in general, but he doesn't have to be. All the comic book parodies of the Bulletproof One are far more compelling than the original: DC's self-serving Booster Gold, who uses a robot from the future to tell him where to be to save people in order to cash in on sponsorships and merchandising; Marvel's Sentry, whose computer Cloc tells him where to go to eliminate the guilt of not being able to save everyone; and Marvel's Hyperion of the Squadron Supreme, a tool of the US government who plots to overthrow the world and install himself as ruler. As stated in a Nightwing (DC) comic once, the real superpower of Sman isn't flight or invulnerability, it's the fact that with all he could do he never acts selfishly. A throwaway line by Lex Luthor: "With all you've done for this world, don't you deserve some compensation? Money? Women?" with Superman then flashing back to a picture of Lois Lane, even if he then rejects the temptation out of hand, would have done leagues to add some real conflict into an otherwise suspenseless 3 hours. But no, we're still in the 1950's black-and-white Superman plot line (singular) of having Big Blue brought low by Kryptonite, then rescued by Jimmy or Lois who puts the Kryptonite in a lead box, then Supes taking out the bad guys without incident. 50 years and no one's topped THAT? Then there's the pacing: to quote the season 5 (4) finale episode of Family Guy, "it INSISTS upon itself." We're really supposed to go "Is Superman alive? Oh I hope he's alive!" for 45 solid minutes while NOTHING happens? No real danger, no real pathos, and the director still thinks he's earned the right to punch up the melodrama like that? The Godfather never earned that level of melodrama. Hell, the only movie I've ever seen that earned even 15 minutes of melodrama was the cutscenes from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Superman is hardly a MGS3.

But the absolute worst part of the movie is the fact that Superman obviously had premarital sex...but worse, he was willing to get intimate without ever telling Ms. Lane about his real identity...but worst of all he abandons his illegitimate child. Great. The Republican symbol of 1950s values is somebody's baby's daddy. It's not that I care about the character, but movies are reflections of a society's values, and the idea that the world's most perfect human gets to sew wild oats with no consequences is disgusting. And it's not like it's presented in a way that makes it seem like something he regrets, his one humanlike vulnerability, it's not his one failing, no, no he's all Proud Papa while ducking child support payments. Meanwhile, Lois is forcing her innocent husband to take care of a child he falsely thinks is his own. Plus, no one ever addresses the Chasing Amy(is it? well, one of the Kevin Smith movies) problem that any human mother of Kal El's baby would be ripped apart during labor, if not earlier. Thanks, scriptwriter, for violating 70+ years of comic book continuity.

I will say that Kevin Spacey does a great job as Lex Luthor, and there's a certain charming 1960s mentality to the Jimmy Olsen-Clark Kent conversations. It's also better that Superman Returns doesn't try to be an origin story, as there was nothing wrong with the Christopher Reeves one (which was actually much much better than this except for that time travel bit). The best part of the movie is where S steps down and allows Lois to stay with Rich White (get it?), preserving a family while denying the only thing he ever wanted for himself, seeing as how that's the only real conflict in the whole 2.5 hours. But it's not enough to save a boring movie that pretends to be an epic and succeeds only in shoving the Caped Crusader's name through the philandering mud. And not like I even have to say it, but this mess doesn't hold a candle to Batman Begins.
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5/10
'Splosions
23 May 2006
I saw MI:I because I had fond half-memories of the before-my-time series, not that it mattered because the movie shares NOTHING with the show save for the name, but MI:I was a tolerable action flick. I saw MI:II because John Woo (Hard Boiled, anyone?) directed it. It was another tolerable action flick with better, Woo-ed up moves. I saw MI:III, despite the star going insane, because JJ Abrams (ALIAS back when it was good, LOST) directed it. And?

MI:III is ALIAS-back-when-it-was-good The Movie. Alias started out as a great show, an intelligent serial thriller whose influence is felt on all dramas to this day, and then...then the intelligence just vanished the INSTANT JJ Abrams left to create LOST. Like the show, MI:III has Greg Grunberg in a cameo, focuses more on the spy's fake cover story, gives the spy a fiancé' to start out with so there's something at stake, uses the phrase "wheels up," satellite picture technology of the same caliber as in Alias, the foreign languages to compliment the disguises, and even has Keri Russell from Abram's first (and only bad) work "Felicity." Heck, it even starts in Media Res like half the Alias episodes. I mean, it's like Abrams wrote out an Alias movie but couldn't get it financed, so he just switched the character names when he got offered directorship of this franchise.

This is a good thing, because like I said, Alias-back-then was awesome. MI:III is less awesome because it's all been done before, but still a functional plot skeleton for the action scenes. The fact that the whole perfect-masks from MI:II has been reused is a bad thing, because it's a bad gimmick, but at least here the gimmick is better justified because the team has to pull a whole mission to get the mask data before they can use it.

Speaking of which, the fact that there are team missions instead of solo ops makes it closer to the Mission Impossible show than the first two movies, although it's far closer still to the Alias show.

And that's what it's all about, isn't it? There's only Sex and Violence in this world, sexy violence and violent, violent sex, so why not enjoy them? Helicopters explode like it's their purpose in life, punches get traded for kicks, a few jet-launched missiles juggle cars. It moves fast, little wasted time. That said, JJ Abrams can do better in terms of story and characters, I've seen it. MI:III is entertaining enough if you don't demand a Fight Club-level plot from your movies.

And as a kung fu-film fan, I don't.
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Match Point (2005)
2/10
An hour and 50 minutes too long.
22 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Match Point is an hour and 50 minutes too long, and I say that because there's not enough story here for more than 10 minutes, and I could have told it all in 2. The main thesis is that the main ingredient to success is luck, and I might buy that argument, but I would have written a much more complicated script about it. This conversation I had tells you just about all you need to know:

Copperhead: and how was it? Me: like my p-ness, long and boring Copperhead: i forgot, you don't like any movies without fighting sequences Me: I think that I would have left my wife in a heartbeat for Scarlett Johansson Me: and that all women are sluts Me: and that shooting them isn't necessarily immoral, Me: but that it's friggin' ridiculous to believe you can get away with murder with today's forensics. Copperhead: yeah but he was lucky Copperhead: I would have thought Scarlett would be too fat for you Me: when all your fat is in your luscious booby, I let it slide.... Me: ...right into my palm Me: but here's my point: Me: even though the guy's married, an @$$hole, and a murderer, YOU would STILL sleep with him in a heartbeat if he just walked up to you and demanded your phone number. Me: And that's really all you need to know about women
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Fearless (2006)
9/10
Excellent
5 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a great movie. Like all kung fu movies, that's because the fight scenes are great. Fearless is also in the rare category of kung fu movies where the plot is actually pretty tolerable. There's no annoying broad comedy ripoff that was all the rage since the late 70's-after Jackie Chan made it work; it's an all-dark movie and it works that way. The morality tale about the protagonists' hubris is pretty well developed, and only really drags in the minutes where he becomes a peaceful farmer; but the fact that the movie can drag at all is a compliment given the average levels of plot in the kung fu genre.

Of course, it is a supposedly historical adaptation of a real-life figure, but all of 5 seconds reading the Wikipedia summary of the man's real biography shows multiple glaring changes Li made to hollywoodize the movie version. I guess if you care about that stuff you'll be annoyed. Also, I have no clue how close Jet Li's movements are to the actual martial arts style of historical figure he's portraying. Who knows? Michelle Yeoh spent all of the movie "Wing Chun" doing standard Wushu and none of it doing actual Wing Chun.

As for the fight scenes, there's a nice King-of-the-Hill-on-tall-wooden-platform, a great swordfight in the restaurant full of Hong Kong wood (nothing breaks quicker!), a fight against an invincible giant, a few more knockouts here and there, and a final showdown in a kumite bout. All of these are classic, practically requisite, setups and the fights are great fun to watch.

This is probably Jet Li's fourth greatest movie, after Fist of Legend, Once Upon a Time in China, and Tai Chi Master (all period pieces). In fact, it's Jet Li's first really good movie since he came to America, started switching between "I'm angry" and "I'm a naive hormonal teenager", and began to believe that every movie he's in needs a black rapper to costar. That's why it's extremely disappointing that Jet Li's said he's not going to do any more period pieces. That means this might be his last good movie ever. Jet Li, if you're reading this (and you're not), YOUR ONLY GOOD MOVIES ARE THE PERIOD PIECES! MAINSTREAMING WILL NOT MAKE YOUR MOVIES MORE SUCCESSFUL.
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Inside Man (2006)
5/10
Average
5 May 2006
Standard thriller, nothing really original, just a 10-minute movie stretched out to 2 hours that you keep watching just to find out how they did it. All the actors are good, but the writing is weak and none of the characters are interesting.

Ten lines of text?

um....

well, Chiwitel Ejiftor, or however he spells his crazy name is in it. I know he's a superb actor, since he plays the greatest villain of all time in Serenity, but now he's just a "yes, sir, good idea boss" character. Denzel Washington plays the standard competent cop with integrity, and Clive Owen plays the standard brilliant icy-cold mastermind. It all works enough to justify the story, but not enough to keep me actually "thrilled." So...tolerable enough to watch if it's on TV, I wouldn't pay money for this.
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Pryde of the X-Men (1989 TV Short)
5/10
My ears!
11 April 2006
Tolerable if you were a fan of the seminal 1992 Fox animated X-men cartoon, but man! This tries to be a movie, but it's only 22 minutes long, which makes the pacing seem more frenetic than most of the 1992 episodes (not that that's necessarily a bad thing).

What is a bad thing is the heavy layering of cheesiness and a few inconsistencies here and there. By today's standards the plot is terrible and the action is boring.

And the voices! Man! The guys from the 1992 series came to embody their various characters, so hearing anyone different is jarring alone, but this cartoon took "picking people off the street" to a new level. Especially whoever did Wolverine...since when is our favorite Canadian some redneck Australian? I was totally shocked to see that that same voice actor had done characters in Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law (my favorite Adult Swim show) and was Volgin in Metal Gear Solid 3 (both of where he did excellent jobs without that fake Aussie accent).

So, uh...late night TV only.
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8/10
Not Bad
8 April 2006
One of the better kung fu movies, but not quite as flawless as I had hoped given the glowing reviews. The movie starts out well enough, with the jokes being visual enough that they translate the language barrier (which is rarer than you'd think for this era) and make the non-fight dialogue sequences passable (for a kung fu movie, this is a great compliment). Unlike other Chinese action movies, which were always period pieces or (in the wake of Jackie Chan's Police Story I) cop dramas, Pedicab Driver gives us a look at contemporary rural China. Unfortunately, in the latter 1/3 of the movie it takes a nosedive into dark melodrama tragedy which I thought was unnecessary.

The action is overall good, featuring a duel between Sammo and 1/2 of the Shaw Brothers' only 2 stars, Kar-Leung Lau and then a fight at the end with that taller guy who always plays Jet Li's bad guy. There's only 20 minutes of combat here, which is standard, but what annoys me is the obvious speeding up of the camera frames. I get that they have to film half speed to avoid hurting each other, but there are smooth edits and then there's this. It really takes away from the fights when it's this obvious the footage was messed with.

That said, if you like kung fu movies, my opinion here won't dissuade you, and if you don't, you just wasted 2 minutes of your life reading this.
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4/10
Who Watches the Wachowskis?
5 April 2006
I liked this movie better when it was called Serenity, or Equilibrium, and had actual fight sequences instead of just one guy with knives who uses the ancient Chinese martial art of "being fast." Seriously, both those movies dealt with opposing a repressive totalitarian government (albeit with better plots) WITHOUT CONDONING TERRORISM.

Let it be known Alan Moore has disavowed any connection with this movie. I haven't read the comic book version of V for Vendetta, but his other work The Watchmen is the greatest graphic novel of all time, and I saw how the intended script for that movie totally destroyed Moore's brilliant writing and plot.

We've all seen totalitarian dystopia movies, especially those resembling or based on comic books, a million times before. Heck, that's the only form of government comic book authors seem to recognize. V for Vendetta is tolerably acted, and Hugo Weaving's voice is perfect for the role, but the story as portrayed is far too simplistic and comes across as simple Bush-bashing without any of the comedy or action sequences that would otherwise make simple plot movies enjoyable.

Then there's the whole condoning terrorism dealie. It isn't just that V is a (n intended) sympathetic anarchist, the problem is that V ISN'T a real terrorist but will be identified as such. Real terrorists target and murder innocent civilians for the purpose of effecting political change. All V ever does is pursue a personal vendetta against 4 specific targets who have done him (and thousands more) wrong in the past and thus deserve to be murdered. The only time he hurts innocents is when he threatens to blow up a government-controlled propaganda news station with what appears to be a fake bomb, and thereby holds 10 innocents hostage for a movie time of 10 seconds (a crime that's never really examined). But by equating the far less evil V with real terrorists, V for Vendetta is making a (n unfair) pro-terrorism argument no matter what the stars say in press releases.

Nor does the movie ever show any of the real consequences of anarchy. For all the chaos V causes, the worst ever attributed to him is that a criminal holds up a grocery wearing one of his masks (but no one is hurt). The building destroyed at the end is unoccupied (apparently), and we're expected to believe that the UK somehow reconstitutes itself without a single loss of innocent life after every all the important government members are dead.

The movie makes the argument that there's an either/or choice between Anarchy and Totalitarianism. V has hard evidence of the key government members' many crimes, but when he gets his chance to take over the news, all he does is threaten people. Why didn't he just broadcast his evidence? I guess the real answer is that Hollywood is still sore Iraq. Well, fine, but toss in some kung fu scenes or SOMETHING.
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4/10
Great gunfight at the end, otherwise totally worthless
22 March 2006
AoW is a truly bizarre movie in that it is just as bad as any of the Wesley Snipes direct-to-video s-ckfests he's churning out twice a year these days. The story and dialogue are stupid, I hated all the characters, and its attempt at "intrigue" makes my eyes roll so hard I can see into the past.

However, then you get to the end and there is this beautiful 5 minute gunfight between Snipes and the main bad guy that's one of the greatest shooutouts ever filmed. There's skill, technique, and clever filming at play. So if you love action movies, rent this and fast-forward to the end of the film (seriously, there's only 3 seconds-long other action sequences elsewhere in the movie and those are all terrible and terribly short). Otherwise, stay very very far away.
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Equilibrium (2002)
10/10
Greatest Gun Movie of All Time
20 March 2006
I watch a lot of action movies and have seen more or less every good shootout ever filmed, and most of the scenes in Equilibrium are better than any other filmed. Yes, better than the lobby scene of the Matrix, better than the Steadicam hospital scene in John Woo's Hard Boiled, better than the church shootout from The Killer, better than the final fight sequence of Art of War.

PLOT) Equilibrium has a serviceable translation of George Orwell's 1984 where the thoughtcrime sought to be prohibited is any expression of emotion. Mankind is mandated the regulating drug Equilibrium, and a warrior caste of Grammaton Clerics (named after the Tetragrammaton, the 4-letter name of our Deity) hunt down those who traffic in art. The idea is that society's overemphasis on Reason had become its religion. The plot here does the job and is somewhat interesting at one point, and there's a nice little symbolic use of Yeat's poem "You tread on my dreams." I doubt the movie could stand on its own without the action sequences, but frankly kung fu movies aren't supposed to be judged on Story or Characters, so the fact that it isn't cringe-worthy is just bonus.

COMEDY) Not really a comedy.

ACTION) The director Kurt Wimmer invented a fictional style of martial arts called Gun Kata which all the Grammaton Clerics use, supposedly based on thousands of simulations of recorded gunfights. We see clerics in training performing a form at one point in the movie. Basically, the martial art consists of: 1) (presumably) General firearms training with fully automatic pistols and rifles. 2) Stances and movements (mostly "Zenkutsodachi" front stance) designed to avoid incoming fire. 3) Arm positions, including behind-the-back movements, allowing the user to accurately return fire with two guns simultaneously. 4) Grappling/disarm techniques attacking generally the elbow/shoulder joints, or using the trigger guard to wrench the finger joints. 5) Armed sticky hands, meaning (from wrist-to-wrist contact)maneuvering the opponent's gun out of your harm's way while obtaining your own line of sight. 6) Holding each of two pistols by the barrel/slide and using the handle as a hammer/sickle. 7) Kenjutsu Katanna swordfighting training There's even a special "bow," with the wrists pressed together, one gun/2 finger salute pointing up, the other down.

There's a little bit of realistic, feasible technology in the movie, too. The clerics use heavily modified fully-automatic berrettas with a special button setting that makes 4 nail studs protrude out of the grip (see #6 above), while their stormtroopers mainly carry fully automatic M-16's (I think). Inside the hero's sleeves are spring-loaded extra magazines. He also makes/uses two magazines that have bottom-heavy hemispheres on them so that he can toss them in the middle of the room, empty his pistols and eject the clips, then jam them both down on the ones on the floor. Here and there there are some cool moves like two flips and an awesome kickflip-rifle-across-his-back-into-hands. The hero holds his katanas blade-down in reverse grip (traditionally better for defense) to distinguish himself from everyone else, who hold it normally, blade-up.

The result is beautiful. There's a sequence where our hero jumps in the middle of a circle of 6 and is able to whip his hands back and forth around his torso fast enough to blast all 6 until they collapse among the heavy gunsmoke. There are two training sequences (gotta have them to justify the moves in any kung fu movie, but especially one where you invent the new style). There are bits where he mows down stormtroopers, swordfights six clerics, and then that final showdown which is this awesome 1-on-1 Tai Chi/Wing Chun sticky hands (armed!) sequence.

The filming is great, just fast enough to be exciting, not so fast or violent that you miss moves (although you will be tempted upon second viewings to frame-by-frame many of the fights, especially the final showdown).

The director Kurt Wimmer once complained that in Equilibrium he was saddled with a choreographer who leaned into hard-style Karate when he wanted to go with more soft-style Wushu, but let me tell you there's really no difference. When Wimmer got to go his own way in Ultraviolet, the only new moves were a) a crouched spin and b) a low Chien Style Tai Chi weight shift transfer, neither of which moves made sense in context. (Also, Ultraviolet had blades attached on the bottom of two uzis instead of the nail studs.) In fact, Ultraviolet lacked many of Equilibrium's cooler moves, most notably the stick hands thing.

Equilibrium is not a totally flawless movie. The story is average, and the fight scenes only make up 15 minutes total of a 2 hour movie. But if you love gunfights, it simply does not get any better than this, and I do hope Wimmer will get a real budget and will do a movie with a solid hour of fighting and only 20 minutes of dialog or plot.
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Ultraviolet (2006)
5/10
Equilibrium was better
15 March 2006
Ultraviolet:

I rated UV a 5 because I love action movies, but I can't recommend it to people who won't stomach bad kung fu plots just for the kung fu. Frankly, it's disappointing how this movie is actually worse in every respect than the director's previous movie, the greatest gun movie of all time (yes, better than John Woo's Hard Boiled or The Killer), Equilibrium.

Action is in many instances identical to that of Equilibrium, and that's the problem. Did the director just use up all of his Gun Kata techniques in Equilibrium and has nothing new for Ultraviolet? But it's worse than that. Equilibrium had better scenes, with much better framing and lighting. Ultraviolet for some reason chooses to hide half the fighting in half or full shadow, jarring everything up with multiple camera cuts per second as if that were somehow the ideal (it's...THE OPPOSITE, MORONS!). And while Equilibrium had that beautiful tai chi sticky-hands with guns showdown at the end, Ultraviolet just has a swordfight with a disappointing ending. But hey, guns and swords! It's actually a lot of fun. In Equilibrium the fighting was cool and stylized, in Ultraviolet it's a little more silly and cartoony. We're expected to believe that, unarmed, she can get 15 trained gangsters to shoot each other just by dodging according to sound and seeing their reflections in each others' sunglasses?

Then there's the "plot." While Equilibrium had a serviceable, if uninteresting translation of George Orwell's 1984, Ultraviolet's plot is barely a vehicle to waste time between fight scenes. Rather than parcel out the backstory details bit by bit from various characters where appropriate (as in Equilibrium), Ultraviolet hits you with a boring minute-long narration by the main "actress." UV is set in a world with a disease so bad the infected must be killed to save everyone else, so they revolt...uh...we're supposed to feel sorry for these people? We're supposed to feel they have the right to commit terrorism?! That's like a guy with AIDS claiming he has a right to have condom-free sex without informing his partners. Yeah, we're sorry you're sick, but come on!

Then there's the themes. Equilibrium was about the necessity of human emotion, and the main character had to earn his skills in Gun Kata by constant repetition and practice (as shown in a great practice/dialog scene). Ultraviolet is about how terrorism is OK (seriously) but we're never shown how she gets her skills (although she's apparently 100% invincible and unbeatable). Furthermore, Equilibrium's hero didn't need Ultraviolet's antigravity or pocket dimension technology to kick backside. In Equilibrium the bad guys were called Grammaton Clerics (after Tetragrammaton, the 4-letter name of G-d) to show how the society's overemphasis on Reason had become its religion. In Ultraviolet the bad guys' hideout is shaped like a cross and called the Ministry FOR NO APPARENT REASON. Heck, very little in this movie makes sense. Then there's that whole bit right before the big finish where nothing happens and the movie truly drags.

The dialogue here is...toerable to silly. There are no great lines or literary references like in Equilibrium's "You're treading on my dreams!"

Visually, there's nothing new here (a remix of Equilibrium's black-clad jackbooted thugs and Minority Report's clean "whiteness") except for the way the character's clothes and hair change color for no explained reason. The director even uses the same cool fractal-style muzzle flash from the automatic machine pistols.

I guess it sounds like I'm coming down a little hard on Ultraviolet. If you like silly action movies, you'll like this one, but I'd still say Equilibrium is better. Hopefully we'll see something great out of this director next time, because he does have potential. Just hire a real writer next time.
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4/10
Boring
8 February 2006
I saw this thing under compulsion from my buddy P, who is a huge Jack Black fan. I am, too; I love him in the Mr. Show and Tenacious D sketches.

ACTION) Not an action movie.

COMEDY) Sadly, this movie wasn't funny. Mr. Black has this amazing bizarre grace and screen presence, but what's he going to do with a script this bad? It would have been better for him to adlib the whole way through. All the characters are stereotypes, none of them have any good lines, basically it's hard to make comedy when you're doing a kids movie and can't offend the Church Lady in the audience.

PLOT) A by-the-numbers underdog kids sports movie, but with rock and roll instead of a sport. It's semiinteresting the way music is treated as a science, with its complex history and charts in the training montage, but that's probably the only good part of the movie. I find it hard to believe that little kids are that capable of the maturity displayed (where's the fighting? the crying? does no one in Hollywood remember what life was actually like before college?). It's also kind of disgusting how much Black is rewarded (and never arrested) for multiple crimes and destroying all those kids' futures by not teaching them anything.

Avoid.
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Lord of War (2005)
7/10
Enjoyable
30 January 2006
I was pleasantly surprised by how good this movie was, considering it didn't get a major release and stars Nicholas Coppola. That's right, Coppola. He does't GET to rely on his familial connections to get into Vinewood, then pretend otherwise as if he got where he is based on acting skill.

ACTION) This isn't an action movie, despite the guns. The effects are functional, and there's a cool intro sequence that follows a bullet from manufacture through travel to use.

COMEDY) LoW is a dark movie, and it's peppered with bits of dark humor here and there that can be good for a chuckle if you're sick like me.

PLOT) The movie is a fictional character study of an illegal arms merchant as he develops his business, gets paid, and runs from The Man. The script is good, and the flick wisely decides to set things up as a sequence of interesting narrated Vignettes rather than a straightforward story. This lets us skip from one story to the other quickly, and keeps the movie moving at a brisk clip. The only time the movie slows down is during the last quarter, where our antihero undergoes his crisis of conscience; that sequence could have been handled better.

The narrating is passable, but sweet lord Mr. Coppola cannot act, and it shows, and while his valium-drip monotone was OK in a simple action movie like Face Off, this isn't Face Off. As the focal point, he's supposed to be carrying the movie, and he's the worst actor here. Only the script saves this movie.

Regardless, the character he plays is a well-written totally amoral salesman, rationalizing his death business. It's those people with moral convictions, the government agent who won't bend the rules to catch his prey and the competing arms dealer who takes sides in conflicts based on politics, who are the losers. All the protagonist sacrifices are those family members who insist on following a code of morality that no longer seems applicable in a world where people are going to kill each other, anyway, no matter who's supplying the ammunition.
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Serenity (2005)
10/10
Flawless
28 January 2006
I saw this movie without ever having seen the show Firefly, and hesitantly because I normally don't like Sci Fi. There hasn't been good science fiction cinema since Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. But MAN was this a good movie. It hooks you from the beginning, fires on all cylinders, and moved me to see it three times before it was out of theatres.

I've now seen the show Firefly, and it turns out that was one of the most brilliant shows ever made (and I say that being physically unable to tolerate the stupidity that is Joss Whedon's other work, Buffy the idiot slayer). In general, it's better to see the show before the movie (in the intended order, not Fox's attempt-to-kill-the-franchise-choice of order) simply because you get to know the characters and the movie opens by spoiling some of River's abilities. However, you may want to see the film first in order to decide whether you want to see the show, and you'll still enjoy both immensely. The characters are all introduced brilliantly enough in the movie so that you don't need any inside (show) information, and frankly the movie is better than the series (although I have two friends whom I made fans of the franchise who disagree).

ACTION For an American movie, there's a lot of good fighting here. The relevant crew members show off their military training in the shooting sequences, thug Jayne has a wreslter's move, River busts out with beautiful, flowing circular Wu shu when her abilities are "awakened," Mal the leader uses dirty streetfighting befitting of his character, and the sophisticated bad guy The Operative has his own combination of specialized trained martial arts, swordfighting, and his special paralysis-inducing strike.

There are two main fights, and they're both good. They won't put the 1970s Shaw Brothers/Jackie Chan kung fu movies (or the modern Tony Jaa Thai movies) to shame, but they kick the pants out of, say, Batman Begins'.

The graphical effects look really good...the only thing you can tell was greenscreened is that first Reaver ship that chases them on the first planet. But given the shoestring $38 million budget, everything looks good without exaggerating: Serenity is about the characters and plot, not the sci-fi. And the music is GORGEOUS. I had to get the soundtrack by David Newman; his violin-guitar music perfectly fits the Space Western theme. The other thing is that Whedon is great cinematographer; his screen framing is great, and he continues the steadicam motif from Firefly here. Check out the 4.5-minute unbroken sequence 9 minutes into the movie where he introduces the crew characters. By not cutting every half second like other, more epileptic-inducing directors and following characters around and zooming, the movie really draws you in.

COMEDY Joss Whedon is a master of dialogue, and while there are some dark, sad, gravitas moments, there are also some great jokes and witty moments and you have to see Serenity repeatedly to catch all of them.

PLOT It's hard to go into details because most of what I could say would spoil the movie, but I will say that the plot is really good, and you don't get a lot of movies these days with a real story to tell. The main characters are the smuggler captain Mal who fought on the losing side of a unification war, his albatross crazy passenger River, and the evil pursuer The Operative. The most fascinating one is the newcomer The Operative, who embodies a wholly unique kind of evil from any other you've seen in theatres before. Despite a limited 2 hour run, Whedon is able to get each character to have his or her own shiny moments, and he's not afraid to sacrifice any of them to keep you involved when the story demands.

Ultimately, Serenity is one of the 3 best movies I have ever seen, the kind of flawless works that no one wants to see, but everyone who sees loves.
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The Protector (2005)
10/10
The Pinnacle of Martial Arts Movies
25 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
If you at all like action scenes or kung fu movies, you need to watch this movie. It's in the top 5 of all kung fu movies ever made, and given I've seen virtually every kung fu movie ever made, that's quite the compliment.

Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior really surprised me for being an actually good Thai movie, whereas normally only a small percentage of Hong Kong movies were the only good films coming out of Asia. Tony Jaa catapulted his career with some brutal fight sequences combining pure Muay Thai kickboxing and the occasional acrobatic move, flying knees fueled by near-unbelievable leaping power. Tom Yum Goong ups the ante in terms of fight scenes, and that alone is an accomplishment worthy of international repute.

ACTION) Most people can tell subconsciously a good fight scene from a bad one. They don't know why they prefer one to another, but they do, and Tony Jaa taps into all those little unnoticeable things that make fight sequences great. He brings a raw brutality to each scene, believably dominating his opponents because he is clearly actually THAT GOOD at Muay Thai.

The fight scenes here are gorgeous. Tony Jaa leaps across the room, kneeing one henchman into others, then proceeds to take the room apart. There are death-defying acrobatics (one move in particular is a flawless backwards leap across a chasm into a handstand, then there's the wall-run-to-flip up a glass wall which a pursuing ATV crashes through a half-second later), flailing limbs, defenestration of every kind, and a good time is had by all...survivors.

There just aren't enough fights at the very beginning of the movie (usually you want to begin your kung fu movie with a powerful scene where the villain demonstrates his skills) and the elephant and boat chases are kinda pointless, but by the middle of the movie, it really kicks into high gear. The camera-work is particularly good. There's a beautifully shot scene inside a Thai temple in 2-inch-deep water that's framed by surrounding fires, where Jaa fights Lateef Crowder (a superbly skilled Capoerista famous for his work in the stunt group "Zero Gravity"), and then some Wushu fighter with a sword. Then there's an extended 5 minute steadicam sequence with no cuts (I've seen the "making-of" video) where Jaa goes through about 50 flunkies using 30 breakable Hong-Kong-wood props. Both of these sequences, because of water or steadicam necessities, absolutely require that they be filmed at full-speed rather than be artificially sped-up after filming. Given the moves being performed, the fact that all the actors survived is just short of miraculous. I never thought I'd say this about anyone, but Jaa puts Jackie Chan to shame.

Then there's a beautiful sequence where Jaa goes through another 50 henchmen in black suits, this time using wrenching grappling joint locks and crippling throws. It's about at this point you realize that, as good as Ong Bak was, TYG is better. Whereas OB:MTW was merely showed off Muay Thai and some acrobatics, TYG adds in grappling, and has Jaa facing off against enemies who use Taekwondo, Capoeria, Wushu, and Wrestling.

The ending ramps things up even further, as Jaa takes on the giant who had crushed him earlier, only to be soon juggled between the whipwielding bosslady and 4 giants. Watching him outfight the five of them is a real treat.

Ultimately, the fight scenes outperform anything else we've seen in decades (2 decades, to be specific) and prove that Ong Bak wasn't a fluke. Tony Jaa has taken the mantle from Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

COMEDY) This movie is not funny. Not a big deal, but I don't get why other people think it is funny. The comic relief guy is just annoying, and every non-English speaker tramples G-d's language when they try it.

PLOT) The plot is clearly the low point of the movie. Here's your spoiler: Tony Jaa's elephant gets stolen, he kicks people. It's not Shakespeare.

As my friend P pointed out "He's killing hundreds of people just for one stupid elephant?!" Touche', but this is a kung fu movie, and except for the Once Upon a Time in China series and The Matrix trilogy, no kung fu movie ever features a plot strong enough to stand on its own without the fights. You need to be able to enjoy a stupid action movie to like Tom Yum Goong, but if you like action you simply cannot do better.
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2/10
yeah she looks hot in leather, but just get a wallpaper and save your money
23 January 2006
I saw the first one. It was like Blade, without the cool fight scenes. It will never cease to amaze me that in a global world where fans of action can import the best of Hong Kong and Thailand (with Tony Jaa's new Muay Thai movies), American filmmakers with budgets that would choke a giraffe can't seem to hire anyone who actually KNOWS A MARTIAL ART to do his stunt choreography. How is that? My working theory is that martial arts makes Americans feel guilty, because it's a superpower anyone CAN learn, therefore the fact that we don't is our own personal moral failing, and that makes us feel like the losers we are. So instead we watch monster movies were a single bite from a vampire, werewolf, or radioactive spider grants us magical strength that makes 10 years of hard training obsolete. But you know what those bites don't make? A good movie.

ACTION) - There are some fights here, but they're all clearly choreographed by people who either don't know martial arts of any kind or were purposely trying to make scenes with characters who weren't supposed to know martial arts. You'd think that immortal beings would pick up a kick or two over the years (heck, in Highlander they all devoted time to studying swordfighting from all over the world), but no. It's slash with their claw-hands, bite, and push. Boring.

The best part of this movie is that the actress is hot. If you think that's a compliment, then this is the internet, and there's a wild world of porn you should think about looking at.

COMEDY) - Not a comedy.

PLOT) - Please. There's nothing here.

It's not that Underworld 2 is worse than the first one, it's that the first one was bad enough, and today's standards for action movies have gone way, way up. I can tolerate stupid dialogue and bad plot when they build up to a knockdown fight scene, but watching people who can't throw a real punch play around with collapsing styrofoam walls and power-simulating harnesses is just disgusting.
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6/10
fun fights
23 January 2006
ACTION) The best part of this movie is by far the swordfights. Whereas the scenes in the first movie were pathetic, these are rather enjoyable. There's one at the beginning where Zorro hops along precariously balanced poles fending off three people simultaneously with foil and bullwhip.

There's one or two short scenes later, and then they keynote of the movie is the final showdown, first an innovative horse-stunt sequence (including a move where Zorro stands on the hindquarters and whistles, getting the horse to buck his hind feet back and catapult our hero upwards) followed by a drag-out go-for-broke-style showdown with the main villain that's quite enjoyable. The problem with this second sequence is that the director cuts away to show other things happening constantly, which takes away from the action we care about.

Furthermore, there's the villain's bald henchman, who loves flashing his weird bladed weapon, but when the time comes for him to fight the wife, it turns out he has no training whatsoever and that scene is pathetic.

Worse, the couple's child is mystically capable of doing somersaults, handsprings, fence like a pro with a ruler, and fearlessly challenge 5 henchman simultaneously apparently ex nihilo. I mean, he didn't know his father was Zorro, so presumably he hasn't been trained, yet how come he can do stunts that would kill me? It rings false.

Speaking of training, where's the training sequence in this movie? You always need a training sequence to justify powers. Granted, the first movie showed Zorro becoming Zorro and they did the training sequence there, but there's a stereotypical Banderas-depressed-alcoholic bit in this movie and a few minutes devoted to having him retrain his muscle memory would have enhanced the believability and enjoyment a bit.

COMEDY) Wasn't really that funny.

PLOT) Silly James-Bond like. This is a kids movie through and through, which explains the annoying child character, the fact that no one gets stabbed (those who MUST die for plot reasons vanish in unseen 'splosions! form) despite all the swordwork, and the fact that there's no discussion of whether Zorro's wife was sleeping with the man she was spying with even though it would be the obvious conversation to have. In sum, the plot was functional at best, often annoying or plodding, and really just a bare vehicle for the fight at the end. Still, it's a better movie than the first one if only for that last fight sequence.
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King Kong (2005)
3/10
long and boring
19 January 2006
Few movies should be longer than 3 hours, fewer 3 hours, and fewer still longer than 3 hours. This is not one of them. I mean, come on! Lord of the Rings weren't even THAT good (they were OK, mind you, but I've seen better). This is just awful.

ACTION The fight scenes weren't all that great, but at least there was that nice one where Kong takes on the T-rexes, and that move where he grabs a biplane and lets it go at another took me pleasantly by surprise. But while the graphics weren't that bad, the fact that the actress was greenskinned in was painfully obvious, an unforgivable mistake in 2006.

COMEDY Wasn't a lot of yuks in this one. My friends and I could have told each other more, better jokes in 10 minutes than there were in this whole thing.

PLOT Ah, here's the rub...it's a remake of a 1933 movie (ALL REMAKES ARE BAD! DUH! DUHHH!! STOP REMAKING MOVIES!! There are literally thousands of new ideas being thought of by people desperately trying to break into the business, so it's particularly jarring that we haven't seen an original property since, well...1933?), so how do you make a remake good? I don't know, and neither does Peter Jackson. Instead he makes a gigantic-budget movie that drags on and on.

And if you really think about what this movie's about, it's just another chicks-dig-hairy-jerks flick. My buddy could not stop cracking up at the end where the blonde dimwit is showing such concern for an animal that's killed hundreds and done millions in property damage by then.

I'm so sick of movies that ask you to empathize with people/animals/aliens JUST BECAUSE they happen to be different. Other cultures are evil, and sorry PETA, animals are for eating or sport hunting. PEOPLE are supposed to be valued.

As much as Executives are hated for stifling creativity, maybe a few should have reigned Jackson in a bit, you know, to 2 hours. I mean, did't he SCREEN this thing? To anyone? There's NOTHING here! The dialogue is boring, the characters are all broad stereotypes, Adrian Brody can't act AND he's so ugly no wonder the blonde preferred the Ape, and the only character I liked was Jack Black as the heartless man whose ambition dooms everyone else (liked in the sense that at least he had a goal and ended up getting other killed, but it was still a clichéd stereoarchetype).

King |>ong isn't worth your time, let alone money.
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