Legacy Reviews

  • Handsome Harry:  I saw this movie at the Cosford Cinema on the UM Campus.  Typically a theatre we never have to wait in line for and worry about bad seating.  For whatever reason this turned out to be a sold-out show.  Amazingly everyone in line was also surprised by the turnout.  All that being said, I give this movie a B-.  The story follows Harry as he visits old army buddies to remember the day they all ganged-up on another serviceman.  The journey starts after the final request from one of those buddies.  What follows is a good demonstration on how the mind works to forget or change bad memories.  They story is good and the acting OK.
  • Out in the Silence: I didn’t know what to expect going into this documentary, and I am happy to say that I was very impressed.  The documentary begins with the wedding announcement of a gay couple in the local newspaper of one of the couple’s hometown.  Town locals wrote in protest to the newspaper asking how they could run such a thing.  But more importantly it caused a mother & son to reach out to the couple as somebody to talk to–for the son had come out at school and was having a tough time of it.  This story then become about the mother & son–the son just wanting a normal high school experience, and the mother wanting to give it to him with no hassles from other students and the school board.  In the end they mostly succeed.  Another aspect of the documentary that I liked was the fact the son was not stereotypically gay.  He played sports, likes rap, and wanted a muscle car. 
 
  • Harry Brown:  Another really graphically violent movie.  Harry Brown is basically a Death Wish movie set in England with Michael Cain instead of Charles Bronson.  I would also say that Michael Cain’s character was more human, vulnerable, and believable.  Harry is British Special forces officer living alone in a neighborhood under the control of young hooligans.  When a friend is killed by them he takes action.  It’s a popcorn movie.
  • Stonewall Uprising:   A good documentary that could have been great.  The main reason it was not great is unfortunately due to not enough actual footage, and an over dependance on a limited amount of still photography.  The documentary did a good job of making you feel for those involved, and feeling their pride in standing-up for themselves.  A very good accounting of a seminal event for gay rights.
  • Kick-Ass:  One of my top ten movies of the year.  The movie asks the question, what if normal people decide to become superheroes?  The answer, they usually get their ass kicked.  The story is good and the acting great.  My main negative would be that the main villain was too one dimensionally bad.  On the other had, the good guy trio of Kick-Ass, Hit Girl, & Big Daddy was well developed.  I have to give Nicholas Cage a special shout-out for his take on Big Daddy.  The film was probably not a box-office hit due to the R-Rating, twelve year old Hit Girl using the C-word, and graphic nature of the violence.  
  • Prodigal Son:  When the least interesting thing about a family is the fact that the high school star athlete son becomes a woman, then you know you family is very special.  Initially this is the story of a homecoming.  About someone who left a man and comes back a women and how her family and town deal with it.  For the most part the town deals with it well.  The main issue is the adopted brother.  As you learn more about the brother and his story–mental illness, son or grandson (I don’t remember which) of Orson Wells, mental breakdown and eventual commitment to an institution–the story is more about how the family deals with him.  This was really an emotional and very good documentary.
  • Waking Sleeping Beauty:  A documentary about the Disney Animation Department from 1984-1994.  This is a must for any animation and/or Disney fan.  You will gain a new appreciation for the people that created the major turnaround at Disney, and see why eventually they would go their own way.  I was very surprised how instrumental Roy Disney was in bringing in Michael Eisner and Frank Wells, and eventually forcing Eisner to leave.  The sketches from the animators of their bosses are a hoot. 
  • Clash of the Titans:  Sam Worthington is either the luckiest actor alive, or has the best agent in Hollywood.  How did an unknown Australian actor get the lead in three big Hollywood films in the same year?  This movie is a popcorn movie and nothing more.  In comparison to the original it is much better–but that is not saying much.  The one major negative-and where the original movie was significantly better–was how Medusa is portrayed.  How can you have Uma Thurman–one of the most beautiful women alive–play the ugliest creature in Greek mythology.  Also, I liked the movement of the original version better.
  • Nine:  What a mess of a movie.  Overall I think the main point was more to showcase each of the female leads and less of an actual plot & lead character that you care about.
  • Never Winter:  An excellent short film that you will have to catch at your local Film Festival.  It is always amazing to see such a personal story brought together by great acting and direction.  Though the story is a difficult subject to witness–put simply child abuse–you are compelled to watch it.  You empathize with the main character and her plight as the director deftly brings you into her world.  As with all great short films and stories, there is an economy of words.  Everything you hear and see is meant to move the story forward and generate an emotion.  As a director when you have limited time and money, you have to depend on the strength of your story and ability.  Luckily for us this director has both a great story and much talent.  Take the time and check-out the trailer at http://www.itsneverwinter.com
  • Moon:  Two weekends and two great sci-fi movies.  Though you can tell this movie had a very limited budget, it does a great job of conveying the story.  Sam Rockwell did an excellant job of acting.  The movie is very good at psyching you out with our expected sci-fi movie conventions.  Though the movie was billed as a story of one man alone working on the moon for three years and what happens to him psychologically, it isn’t.  That does play into it, but only minimally.  You don;t have to watch it in the theatre, but definatley Netflix it. 
  • Harry Potter, and the Half Blood Prince:  Contrary to most critics, this is not the best of the Harry Potter films.  I believe that honor still belongs to “The Order of the Phoneix”.  The movie is too long, and should have been cut down to two hours.  It is the talkiest of the Potter films, and you feel it.  The acting continiues to improve among the main cast.  But the weakness of the film is the story and editing.  There are really no major special effect moments where you should see it in the theatre, so make this a rental.
  • Public Enemies:  Another very stylistic Michael Mann movie.  The movie is a great looking period piece, but that is all.  You do not feel for the characters, and most likely you will forget about it within a month.  It is a rental. 
  • Outrage: Another really good documentary. This one is about closeted politicians that continually vote against gay rights. What is interesting about the documentary is that it goes after some heavy hitters, including our own Charlie Crist, but it is hardly getting any press. The film does a good job about backing up its claim against the politicians. It also does a good job about telling the stories of politicians that did come out, and how they have changed. Most the politicians they spot light are Republicans, and are identified as such. My one complaint is that Ed Koch was not identified as a Democrat.
  • Wolverine: An OK Superhero Movie. The movie is fairly faithful to Wolverine’s origin story. My main fault with the story is that it introduces too many characters, and they are only in the movie for about two minutes. Also, the movie is set in the late 70s or early 80s, and though somethings look correct, others do not–hummvees and the computer monitors. Hugh Jackman and Liev Shrabner(?) are great. Do you have to watch it in the movie theatre? Not really, but it helps.
  • Coraline: A technically & visually impressive movie, but it has no soul. You feel all one hundred and twenty minutes of its two hours. There are some slightly disturbing images for little kids; parents may have to do some consoling. If you want to watch this movie or thought about it, I recommend to see it in the theatre. You may lose a lot of the imagery on the small screen.
  • Eyes Wide Open:  A film about a gay hasidck(?) jew falling in love with a sexually confused married hassidck butcher.  The movie’s plot is typical for this premise.  What I found more interesting was learning about some of the customs, traditions, and teachings of this sect of judaism.  Like conservative muslims women wit head scarves, orthodox women also cover up their hair.  An though they wear headscarves as well, they can also wear wigs–witch I found fascinating.  After the movie I wanted to learn more about orthodox jews.
  • Alice in Wonderland:  The script is weak.  Why have Alice come back to Wonderland with no memory and basically relive the same experiences as from her first visit?  If you are going to have her come back, come up with something new.  Frankly, the movie should have been called the Mad Hatter in Wonderland, because the movie was basically a showcase for Johnny Depp.
  • Avatar:  You always have to give James Cameron credit as both a director & screenwriter.  Visually the movie is in a class of its own, and you are drawn into this new and amazing world.  Cameron deserves the Oscar for Best Director because–with the possible exception of Peter Jackson–I do not think any other director could have created this movie.  Where the movie falls short is the 2-dimensional villains.  
  • The September Issue:  In many ways the “The Devil Wears Prada” got it right, and in many ways it got it wrong.  Yes Anna Wintour has the power that “The Devil” showcased, but she is not the characterisation that Meryl Streepe portrayed.  The documentary shows a person that is committed to her job, but also a person that knows in the end it is just clothe and not brain surgery.  Cudos to the director and editor by putting the film together as a tug-of-war between Anna (The Editor) and Grace Coddington (The Fashion Director)
  • District 9:  A great story, good acting, and excellant direction.  This is what a sci-fi movie should be like.  The movie looks and feels more expensive than it was.  The story is full of emotion, and you identify with the plight of the main character as well as the aliens.  It is a movie with relevant topics, but it does not beat you over the head with them.  Also, the special effects are there to push the story along and not be the story.  There was not a false note in the movie.  I can’t wait for “District 10”.  See it in the movie theatre. 
  • I.O.U.S.A.:  Though not a new release, you sould put it on you Netflix queue.  A scary documentary about how the government is hocking our countries furture–not just our financial furute–by spending money they (and we) don’t have.  All are guilty in this, be they Republican or Democrat.  If we don’t start fixing the problem now, then make sure your kids learn how to speak Chinese.
  • Hangover: Definatlety a man’s comedy, and not a family movie. A fell victim to reading too many great reviews of the movie, and I was expecting more. That was my mistake. The movie is funny. Though the situations are riduclous, the plot is surprisingly believable. Highs: the dim-wit brother, the nerdy dentist, the photo montage at the end. Lows: none really. (Warning: there is some full male frontal nudity)
  • Every Little Step: A really good documentary about “The Chorus Line” revival casting. It tells you the history about the original production and how it came into being, as well as the recent revival. It follows the process of casting the revival from beginning to end–an eight month adventure. You feel for all the people, and you learn a lot.
  • I Love You Man: It’s a chick flick for men. Paul Rudd and Jason Siegal are very funny, and pitch perfect in their roles. The film is a very good popcorn movie. It wont change your life, but it will make you laugh. Watch it in the theatre, or rent it later.
  • The Wrestler: Like “Brian’s Song”, this is a movie designed to make a man cry, or at the least make his eyes water. The movie is well acted, directed, edited, and scripted. It is also depressing. Though the movie is great, this will probable be the only time I watch it. Many people say that Mickey Rourke really isn’t acting, but I would disagree. He is not stretching himself like Sean Penn in “Milk”, but he still gives a great performance. The story is a good look into the world of wrestling, and at a poorer economic class of people. The two best moments of levity in the story are when Mickey is shopping for props at the dollar store, and when he goes to the beauty & tanning saloon he frequents regularly.
  • Sins of My Father:  A good documentary about growing up as an Escobar.  What is it like to be the son of a Columbian drug cartel?  How do you meet the sons of a man your father killed.  These are interesting questions that the documentary asks. Though I enjoyed the film while I was watching it did not leave a lasting impression.
  • Daybreakers:  A good premise for a movie, but it was missing something.  The movie presents a world like ours but the majority of the population are vampires, and humans are held in storage for blood.  But what happens when they start to run of humans?  The world the director and writer create works, but in the end you just don’t care about anyone.
  • Where the Wild Things Are:  As is often the case when I am really excited about a movie I was let down.  The music is incredible, the look of the movie great, but it did not connect.  It may have been too much for the director & screenwriter to pull an engaging plot out of such a small source material.  I will give it a chance in DVD; I do think there will be more to appreciate on a second viewing and without so much expectation on my part.
  • It Might Get Loud:  A good documentary about three very different electric guirtarists:  Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White.  It is very obvious in the film tha both The Edge & Jack White look admiringly at Jimmy Page.  All three have their stories.  The Edge fit in most with my preconcieved notion of him; but I did not know that Jimmy Page was such a working man musician, and Jack White so consumed–for lack of a better word–by it.  The documentary is not necessarily for everyone, but if you are a fan of rock music then go.
  • (500) Days of Summer:  A really good movie.  It is a romantic comedy for guys.  The story is great; what happens when you think you meet your soulmate, and they don’t agree.  It is told from the point of view of the man.  And credit must be given to the writer for not vilifying the woman, but portraying her in a genuine way.  The acting is also fantastic.  Both leads do an excellent job conveying emotion through their eyes and body language.  I’m a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I am glad he has not fallen into the Child Star curse.  This movie is funny, imaginative, and just plain good.  Also, judging by the audience, it will be a sleeper hit of the summer.
  • Herb & Dorothy:  A great story for a documentary.  The documentary is a first time film from the director, and it shows.  But the look of the film does not distract from the story.  The story is about a couple, one a postal worker and the other a librarian, who through limited means amass an incedible collection of modern art.  One of the best comments in the film came from Christo and his wife regardinig the donation of their collection to The National Gallery:  It was akin to a collector that lost everything of value in their life except their collection–they lost their money, home, all valuable possesions–and then donated their collection.  It is amazing to see two such passionate people, that love each other greatly. 
  • Up: Pixar does it again; another adult cartoon that kids will like. A great story, great characters, and real emotion. My eyes watered up by the end of the introductionary montage. You connect with the characters, and feel for them. Your kids will be engaged by the animation, and the dogs. See it in the theatre.
  • Star Trek: The franchise is reborn, and the movie is an A-. The first thing you need to know is this is not a prequel, but a re-imagineering. What happens in the movie changes the known history of the Star Trek Universe. Overall the story and the acting are very good. My one issue is the subtle relationship between Uhera and Spock, but that is it. All the minor charachters get at least one chance to shine, and all the leads are great. Watch it on the big screen. It is good for both Sci-Fi geeks and regulars. The other plus is that they learned from the new BSG. You see a lot of the guts of the ship, the shuttles have scratches and safety stickers, it looks more realistic and less perfect.
  • Watchmen: If you haven’t read the graphic novel, you will be lost in the movie. In an effort to put as much of the comic into the movie in as short a period of time as possible, the plot gets lost. In the end you are left with lifeless characters. The only positive is the substitution of the Giant Space Squid–which was always weak in the novel–with the Dr. Manhattan angle–which is much more believable. This is a rental.
  • Slumdog Millionaire: A really good movie, one of the best of the year, but not the best. The best thing about the movie is that it introduces you to a side of India most people do not know about, and have never seen. The acting is good, and the story structure inventive. There are no flaws with any part of the movie. A must see before the Oscars.
  • W: Josh Brolin is great, but the movie is OK. It is a credit to both Josh Brolin and Oliver Stone that you leave the movie feeling a little sorry for the President. That said, you feel all 129 minutes of the movie. It just feels longer then it actually is. The movie pretty much goes along with what I think of the President: an average person with the right last name. His Presidency is what happens when “Joe Six-Pack” does become a President. Bush’s biggest mistake was surrounding himself with smart people that had a track record for making the wrong decision.
  • The Dark Night: The movie lives up to the hype. This is quite possibly the grittiest superhero movie of all time, and is faithful to the tone of the Frank Miller graphic novels–if not the story. Chris Nolan’s choices of using Chicago as Gotham City and having minimal CG effects are inspired. The story is good and the acting great. Two minor negatives are the use of the Scarecrow character in the beginning of the movie–his short presence brings nothing to the movie–and the movie could have been a little shorter. Overall, though, you should watch this movie on the big screen.
  • Up the Yangtze: A good documentary about life on the Yangtze River and how the Three Gorges Dam will effect it. The documentary chronicales a few different people. A poor farmer family that has to move because their home will be flooded, their daughter who gets a job on a river cruise ship, and a few others. The film does an excellant job of putting a face to people, showing the importance that is placed on education, and the anguish the poor family feels when they have to make their daughter work since they cannot afford to continue her education.
  • Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian: A decent sequel to a decent movie. The Narnia movies are aimed at kids, and have enough to keep their parents entertained. The acting is OK, the story good, and the special effects much better then last time. The movie does not have to be seen in the theatre. The highlight was the main dwarf. The actor gave a really good and funny/grumpy performance.
  • Captain Abu Raed (MIFF): A good Jordanian movie. It is also refreshing to see a movie that takes place in a Middle Eastern country that is about everyday life, and not social/politcal/religious issues. The movie illustrates the many things that we have in common, such as worrying about family, education, getting by. The only flaw with the movie is a time discontinuity, but I chop that up to budget constraints.
  • Once Upon a Time in the West (MIFF): The is the restored print of the Sergio Leone classis. This is one of the best westerns ever made. It also has one of the most iconic shattering moments involving Henry Fonda–who is cased against type as the bad guy. The musical score and cinematography are excellant. The plot is difficult to follow, but not inconprehinsible. If you have never seen this movie, you should rent it. If you can see it on the big screen, then do it.
  • No Country for Old Men: Another modern western (horror?), this time set in the 1979-80. The story keeps you involved and all the acting is Oscar worthy. Definate must see.
  • There Will be Blood: A good turn of the century western. I think it will not be for everyone, but I liked it. The acting was great, from both Daniel Day Lewis & Paul Dano. Overall, a good character study.
  • In the Shadow of the Moon: A great documentary. It helps show what a major accomplishment it was for man to reach the moon–especialy for someone who was not alive when it happened or was to young to remember. The director made the right decision by not having a narrator and just having the astronauts speak, as well as all the news footage of the day. It was great to see all the different personalities between the astronauts, and their different takes on the events and experiences. The never-before-seen NASA footage was also incredibable. Again, a great documentary that should be seen on the big screen.
  • Show Business: A good documentary about broadway shows. The documentary covered four very different shows: “Avenue Q”, “Wicked”, “Caroline, or Change”, and “Taboo”. Highlights from “Avenue Q” was the father of one of the creators and the lead actors fake reactions to who the winner was for best male lead. From “Wicked”, just the overall depiction of what it takes to make a musical. From “Caroline, or Change”, any interview with the director. And from “Taboo”, not much really but you know that Boy George was bitter about the whole thing and you felt bad for the lead actor. One of the best reoccuring events was the critic’s dinner conversations in which they proved every stereotype true: pompous no talent know it alls, with way too much regard for themselves and their opinions.
  • Milk: A really good movie; and very appropiate for the time. The movie is well directed, scripted, and acted. Gus van Sant does an excellant job recreating the time and place, as well as using archival footage. Also, he and the screenwriter do an excellant job of humanizing Dan White. Sean Penn continues to prove that he is the best actor working today, Josh Brolin continues to amaze, and James Franco does a very good job as well. The one negative is that you do not feel for any of the characters until late in the movie. But it is a small negative, go see it in the theatre. The other big positive is the movie leaves you with the feeling that you should get involved, and make your voice heard.
  • Wall*E: I have been waiting for this movie for a long time. Usually, by the time I watch the movie I have built up such an expectatioin that it does not live up to my own hype. I am very happy to report that this movie more then delivered. There was nothing wrong with this it. It is perfect. Though it is rated “G” and looks to be aimed at kids, the movie will please all ages. I would even say that it will be more apprecaited by the parents and adults. The first half of the movie is a jem of an almost silent film. The second half dazzles. The story is great, the animation incredible, and you sympathize with the characters. This movie should be nominated for Best Picture, and not just in animation.
  • Indiana Jones: Indy is back and looking good for 65. The movie is the least of the Indiana Jones movies. All the things are there that you want to see in the movie, but it is lacking a certain joy. That being said, the acting is good, the story OK, and the special effects not as CGIish as mentioned in reviews. Harrison Ford was a little bit too durable in a few fight scenes, but overall they aged the character well. It was good to see Karen Allen and her big smile again. The story was lacking a strong villian and suffered a few over-the-top moments. Overall, it is a “B” and should be watched on the big screen.
  • Iron Man: Definately top five superhero movie of all time, and probably my third favorite after Spider-Man 2 and Batman Begins–this is saying allot since I had very little interest in watching this movie. The origin story was updated for today but remained faithful to the original. The plot was good, special effects great, and acting really good. Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges were both great. The movie was both funny & serious, and kept you engaged. The only fault that I found was in the beginning edit–the story could have proceeded chronologicaly instead of having the quick flashback. Stay through the credits for the addional footage at the end. Also, cudos to the screewnwriter and Jon Favreau for their sublte/not so subtle(?) integration of SHIELD.
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: A good mom & popcorn movie. The movie does not make you think, nor does it want you to. The plot is funny, the acting good, and the set design great. It is a rental, but if you want to take mom out, then this is a good movie for that.
  • Snow Angels (MIFF): Independant film that shows that the small town experience isn’t always what we imagine. The movie is depressing. Not as musch as “The Hours”, but it is almost there. The acting was OK, the story was good, and sometimes the directing seemed a little film schoolish. Also, I thought the story became predictable. At best, a rental.
  • Persepolis: A very good adaptation of a very good graphic novel. It presents Iran, and Iranians, in a way that we are not use to. We see it through the eyes of a girl growing up through the revolution and the growth of the Islamic regime. We learn her story of being a foreigner in a far way land (Austria) and at home (when she comes back). The best adult cartoon I have watched.
  • Sweeny Todd: The set design was great, the acting and singing good, and the overall story OK. I thought it was a little to gory, but that was the only negative. The movie was also much easier then the musical to follow.
  • Across the Universe: Good visuals and I liked the actors singing with their unprofessional voices; but overall the movie is an “ehhh”. My favorite visuals were when JoJo the guitar player arrived in New York, and when Jude rides on the subway after losing his girl.
  • Stardust: “I loved absolutley everything about that movie,” raves Edwin A. Scharlau, III. The movie is along the same vein as “The Princess Bride”, an adult fairy tail. The story and acting was very good, and special effects great. The plot is easy to follow and dialogue witty. Unlike other summer movies, this one moves along quickly and is not ass-numbingly long. On a side note, Claire Danes is looking more and more like Cate Blanchett.
  • Twilight: I’ll be honest, I was apprehensive about watching this movie. On the one side it is a vampire movie, and on the other it is based on a book aimed at tween girls. My apprehension was well founded. This movie is horrible, and the blame lies with the director & script. With the exception of James, all the acting was horrible, the editing bad, make-up cheap, and the dialogue clunky. Also, I do not mind when writers mess with the vampire mythology, but having vampires that glisten like diamonds in sunlight as opposed to either experience extreme pain or being destroyed is completely ridiculous.
  • The Fall: A very pretty movie that had potential, but was let down by a director who cared more about the visuals. The story is engaging but needed focus. The acting was overall good–the best being the little girl and Lee Pace, the worst being the nurse. The story does bring you in emotionally at the end. It’s a rental.
  • Son of Rambow: A really cute movie about two english boys in the country who become friends despite very different backgrounds and make a short film. The kids are good actors, the story is entertaining, and you’ll leave the movie feeling good. The film is also a good nostalgia trip to the eighties, which is when it is set. My only gripe is that it could have been edited shorter.
  • Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who: A very good computer animated movie for the whole family. It aims more for the younger members of the audience, but there is material for the adults. The animation is great in a cartooning type of way, the story engaging, and the characters sympathetic. I would watch it again but not own the DVD. It would be better to watch it on the big screen, but not required. The studios should learn from this movie and keep the Dr. Seuss adaptations animated and stay away from the live action and hammy actors (i.e. Mike Myers).
  • Flawless (MIFF): This was the North American debut of a British film that will be widely relaeased later this year. The preview I watched misrepresented the movie. From the preview you are left to believe that this is a comedic heist movie. In reality, though there are funny moments and dialogue, the movie is played as a drama. The look of the movie is great. The story, though inplausible, is fun to follow. The acting is also very good. Both Demi Moore & Michael Caine are in good form. Do you have to watch in the theatre? Not really, but I would recomend to do so if you are interested in watching the film.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles: A very enjoyable and sometimes scary kids movie that adults will also enjoy. The movie is fast passed and keeps you entertained & engaged. Freddie Highmore and the supporting actors were very good. The story was simple and to the point, and the special effects were good.
  • Atonement: A great looking movie, and well acted. There is one incredibly long tracking shot during the Dunkirk scene. The story is very good and had a good twist ending.
  • Elizabeth: It’s OK. There are certain shots that look a little film schoolish, but overall the performances are very good. In the end though, it is a rental. The best I can say is that the film does a good job of showing Queen Elizabeth vulnerable,,,and she had a lot of wigs.
  • Eastern Promises: Vitto Morgenson is a great actor. Though most people will think this is a very violent movie, actually it is just very graphic when there is violence. The story is well written, and a very good character study. As such, you do not have to see in on the big screen. The movie does keep you in suspense, and does not baffle you with a convoluted plot.
  • Sunshine: I was really let down by this movie. What started as a psychological character study switched to a half-assed ‘Alien’ wannabee. The acting and affects are good, but the story blew.
  • The Simpsons: Overall a good movie. You do not need to see it on the big screen, but it is cool looking at the entire screen and seeing everything they put in the shot. The movie is funny, though the franchise is showing its age. The writing and jokes are not as funny as the golden age of the mid and late 90s, but it is better then some of the episodes I recently watched.
  • Transformers: A very good popcorn movie. I think critics just have a thing against Michael Bay. I recommend the Rene Rodriguez review from the Miami Herald, I pretty much agree with everything he wrote. The movie was funny, action packed, had good performances, great special effects, and OK plot. It doesn’t make you think or even try, but sometimes that’s what you need.
  • Ocean’s 13: A good return to Ocean’s 11 Territory, though not as fun. Overall, a decent popcorn movie.
  • Spider-Man 3: Not bad. I was originally scared that with all the characters and villians involved we were going to approach “Batman & Robin” and “Batman Forever” territory, but that is not the case. The director and screenwriter do a good job of introducging new characters and developing exisitng ones. The acting was good, and the set pieces great. There is still a lot going on. With the exception of the “LOTR: Return of the King” style ending, there isn’t much fat to edit. The “musical” number was boderline, but fun. Overall a good movie, but no Spider-Man 2.
  • 300: Overall the movie is good. The visuals are great and should be viewed on the big screen. Initailly, it is tough to feel for the characters. But as the story progresses you start to get more emotionally involved. The movie was a faithful adaptation to the graphic novel.
  • Dreamgirls: I’m not a fan of musicals, but I did enjoy this one. Most of the singing was done at the appropiate time–when people are suppost to sing on stage. When there was singing when there should have been talking, it was not distracting and was kept to a minimum. Eddie Murphy gave a great performance, and Jaime Foxx continues to impress. The other performances were good, but Jennifer Hudson is not the best actress. She is a great singer.
  • Cocaine Cowboys: Once you get past the cheesy Miami Vice inspired opening credits, a damn good documentary. You learn alot about the turbulent history of the city, the growth of the skyline in the early eighties, the amount of illegal money pouring into the city, and the cast of characters involved. Of those shown, Rivi is the most interesting. He is a person without any compassion towards killing. His interviews were matter of fact, showing of no remorse, and he actually comes across as charming.
  • The Departed: I honestly believe movie reviewers are trying their hardest to help Martin Scorcese win an Oscar. This can be the only logical reason why his last few movies have been so well reviewed, including this one. The film is “OK” and a rental. It is not “Goodfellas” and does not even come close to it in terms of the script, editing, pacing, and music. On the positive, Alec Baldwin gives a great performance. What would have made this movie better? Jettison the Mark Warlberg character and let Matt Damon’s character get away with it.
  • The Illusionist: Forgetable
  • Superman Returns: Bryan Singer loved the original Superman Movie too much. The movie is good, but there are too many refrences to the Superman mythology from the movies, television shows, and original Action Comics. To those that know, they eventually become a distraction. To those that do not know, they eventually slow down the movie. (Cudos, though, to the Genral Zod & company Phantom Zone refrence when the yacht was sinking and Louis & company were stuck in the ship and you see their faces in the port hole in the same positions.)
  • Hairspray: I was dredding this like a trip to the dentist; mostly becuase of John Travolta. I have to admit, this was a very good musical. At first I thought I was going to be proven correct regarding my fear of Travolta’s performance, but he pulls it together after his first ten to fifteen minutes of screen time. The movie is fun, the songs are funny, and I think everyone gave a very good to great performance. The movie is not quite a mansical, but it is not an all and out chick flick either.
  • Ratatouille: Best computer animated movie since “The Incredibles”. I wasn’t expecting much from this film and I was pleasantly surprised. The story was great and it drew you in. The prep for the food critic’s meal and his reaction are the high point. There was no low point that I remember. See it in the theatres, I think the animation will lose much on the small screen.
  • Pirates of the Carribean III: Read review of Pirates II
  • Blades of Glory: Honestly, I am not a Will Farrell fan. The movie is better then its reviews. It is funny. In the end though, it is a rental and will not be a Saturday night classic.
  • Reno 911; Miami: The movie is funny, but a rental. The writer and director did a good job of escaping from thier basic cable confines.
  • Casino Royal: James Bond is saved. This is one of the top five James Bond movies of all time. Gone are the non-sensical plots, gratitous product placements, and over the top gadgets. Daniel Craig is great as the most physical Bond ever, though Connery still rules. The movie should have been editied down by about tweny minutes and slows down considerably once they have left the Casino Royal. Thankfully they make up for it with a great set piece.
  • The Queen: Good performances, but the movie is a rental. It does help humanize the Royal Family.
  • Little Miss Sunshine: The little movie that can. By the end of this year people will be surprised by how much money the movie will make. Everything is great – the script, the acting, the music, the editing. So far the best movie of the year.
  • Who Killed the Electric Car: A good and well balanced documentary. Will I watch it again? No. Did I learn something? Yes.
  • X-Men: Judging by all the bad press you would have thought this was “Catwoman” or “Electra”, but it was actually a competant attempt by a new director. By comparison, this movie was not as character driven as the last two, but it made up for it with good set pieces. It probably would have been better to make two movies–one regarding the mutant cure and the other about the return of Jean Grey–instead of just one. Brett Ratner and the screenwriter did a good job of getting rid of some characters early on to avoid clutter, but I would have preferred if “windows” for characters to come back were not left open.
  • Harry Potter 5: The best and most adult Harry Potter movie so far. It is a credit to JK Rowling that she has matured her books as her readers have grown up. Daniel Radcliffe has become a much better actor, and he needs to be since this movie is all about Harry. Ron & Hermoine (?) are being pushed back as the other minor characters are being elevated–I think Nigel Longbottom has just as many lines as Ron. Overall, Harry learns that he cannot do it all by himself, and that there are other students at Hogwart’s that will have his back. Overall the special effects are great; the acting and story are good; and the climax is excellant.
  • 1408: The movie starts off good and there are good scares, but it kind of falls apart at the end.
  • Shrek III: Ehhh
  • Zodiac: A very good movie. It is well acted, shot, edited, and written. The movie has good character development, and get’s you into the momemt. Best to watch it in the theatre, but not required.
  • Norbit: A good popcorn movie. It does not deserve all the bad press and reviews. Murphy is funny. Watch it now or rent it, it doesn’t matter. Also, who knew there was such a racialy mixed small town in the USA.
  • Borat: PC is dead, and may it stay so. Funny, funny, funny. Borat’s, as a charachter, only flaw is that he is ignorant. Unfortunatley almost everyone that met Borat was ignorant that he was a character. Though not all the lawsuits currently on the way because of Borat may pan out, some of them probably will. Enjoy the movie now, I do not think you will see a sequal, and you may not be able to get a DVD.
  • The Prestige: Considering the cast and director, a major disappointment. The movie is painfully slow and has no real drama. I firgued out the two major plot points too early. The movie was pretty, though.
  • Tallageda Nights: The funniest movie of the year. Though I am not a Will Farrel fan (I walked out of Anchorman), he shines. A great popcorn movie.
  • Winner of the best non-fiction Christopher Guest Movie of the Year. What is “Wordplay”? Congratulations are due to the director and editor for the way in which the talent show was depicted. What could have been potentially a cruelly humorous scene instead became a thoughtful & humorous one.
  • Pirates of the Carribbean II: Too Long, Too Many Special Effects, The Worlds Most Convoluted Plot, Too Many Characters.

 


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