- Reviews Written:
Posted on 12/10/07 12:44 AM
One of the most refreshing comedies of the year that had two things going against it:
1) Bad press from the failed "Turner Terror Attack" on the Boston bridge. More on that in a second.
2) The movie being dismissed as a "slacker" comedy invented by young "slackers" at the Cartoon Network.
Okay...about the "bad press": How you can mistake a lightboard for a bomb, then spend jillions of dollars to call out a whole slew of guys to blow it up is beyond me.
And a few questions follow this:
1) Weren't they afraid of damaging the bridge by blowing it up?
2) Were they thinking straight when they ordered a ton of cops, SWAT, AND the Bomb Squad to take care of this tiny little lightboard?
3) When they got there, did they think they had brought enough guys or were they debating on calling in more?
Then they actually sued for spending all that money. Of course, being the pacifist pussies they are, Turner bent over and took it in the ass and settled.
And, of course, a couple of Conservatives jumped all over it and used the incident to slam Islamists and Liberals and promote the "Wor on Tur".
The press slammed artists and young people in general.
All because our Homeland Security wasn't smart enough to determine the difference between and IED and a friggin' Lite-Brite.
Kudos to them for acting as fast as they did...but shame on them for overreacting and then going apeshit when they realized they had been had because, instead of doing their homework on how to recognize REAL bombs, they couldn't tell what was an explosive and what was "art".
And then came the part where the government needed to save face in order to NOT look like they're incompetent and wearing egg on their faces.
The two men who were behind the campaign never looked scapegoat-ier...well, until they made asses of themselves in front of the press.
In any case, it's much ado about nothing.
I'm not going to try and review the movie. Doing so would be silly. Suffice to say I liked it VERY much and that I found it VERY different and VERY funny. It's one of the ten best movies of the year for me.
Yeah, that's right.
I said it.
Posted on 9/16/07 01:07 PM
It IS possible to make a movie that is superior to the original.
Despite Salon's old-to-new comparison, the Ocean's Eleven remake works on several levels and is incredibly stylish.
Salon said, "The new version is dumb, dumb, dumb. It's a heist caper that was an excuse for a bunch of highly paid actors (George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, et al.) to get together and make big box office."
Yeah? Then what was the original?
It was the SAME. DAMN. THING.
It was an excuse to shove the Rat Pack into a Vegas heist flick and load it up with celebrity cameos...for box office.
I'm sorry. Hollywood was STILL about making money back then.
This one takes the corniness of the original flick and updates it to a cool-as-ice heist. Whereas the characters aren't "developed", they're fun and you feel like they're your friends.
Clooney takes over for Ocean and does a great job. He's light years more handsome and slick than Sinatra ever was in the role. Everyone else is perfect. Most heist flicks settle for minor little characters with little to no charm for their supporting cast. How in the world Soderbergh was able to rope in Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, Elliott Gould, Andy Garcia, Bernie Mac, and Carl Reiner is beyond me. In fact, it's a major coup. Everyone works in their roles, much
Soderbergh knows retro, too. The movie feels like an old Vegas flick. The lights, the cinematography, and, YES, the music by David Holmes are all perfect. Holmes would be a mainstay with the next two movies, as well. He's a great jazz musician who impressed with his score for "Out of Sight" (another Soderbergh creation) and he creates either the perfect Vegas heist music or music that would be ideal for the world's coolest cocktail party.
The rest of the cast is also perfect. This movie was a pleasant surprise. I understand that there are huge fans of the original movie and that's fine...this is one of the only times when a remake surpasses the original movie.
Ocean's is a great movie. I feel safe calling it a modern classic. It has everything Hollywood of old used to have: big stars, style, glitz, glamour, wit, music, a good tight script and a lot of fun in the execution of Ocean's heist to get back at his ex-wife's new lover.
In fact, they just don't make them like this anymore.
Posted on 9/15/07 10:56 AM
I have gotten a LOT of slack for stating my opinion on multiple forums but I stand by my opinion as do most of my friends.
This contains a LOT of spoilers so if you haven't seen the movie, don't read this.
If you want to, then you've been warned.
These are the reasons why I hated the movie so much:
- The crying/angst. Everyone cries. Everyone. At the drop of a hat. Mary Jane, Peter, Aunt May, Gwen...jeez, even HARRY and SANDMAN CRY!!! I don't mind once...but to do it repeatedly just to try and create emotion? No, it just doesn't work. I mean, the theater just started laughing when Peter's lip would quiver and he started to sob. Nobody bought that he was sad.
- Peter (as Spider-Man) goes for a kiss with Gwen during a city ceremony celebrating his popularity...when he KNOWS his girlfriend, MJ, is in the audience??? Come on. That's just really stupid.
- The talk that MJ has with Peter about her singing career and Peter tries to settle her down by telling her that he knows how she feels and then relates to her problem with criticism. Instead of hearing Peter out and listening in return, she claims that he's making it about HIM? No. Come on. That's just weak writing to push a wedge between them as characters. When I have talked to the women in my life and have had similar experiences they complain about, I don't consider trying to give them advice by relating to their problems as "selfishness". That's utterly ridiculous.
- By the way, MJ cannot sing. AT ALL. It's like Raimi just kept pushing her to do it. I could have SWORN MJ wanted to be an actor and not a singer and by the way, didn't anybody rehearse to find out she can't sing? Did MJ have sex with the theater director to land the part in the musical she was in?
- They transform Flint Marko AKA The Sandman from multi-layered society reject into some sensitive down-on-his-luck bum who just can't seem to get a break...oh, I forgot to mention: he comes complete with REALLY CLICHÉ "sick daughter" and standard "bitchy ex-wife". On top of that, he never had ANYTHING to do with Peter Parker OR the death of his Uncle Ben.
- Harry's convenient Soap Opera-esque "selective memory loss" (obtained after his first fight with Spider-Man) wherein he somehow cannot remember anything before the death of his father...but somehow remembers that Peter and MJ are dating...which took place AFTER the death of Norman. HUH?!?
- The symbiote just HAPPENS to fall INSIDE A METEORITE, five feet from Peter, into the EXACT place where Peter Parker and MJ are making out...without a sound, leaving no smoldering presence and no smell. On top of this, the symbiote gets on the bike...and stays there, waits for Peter to have tea with Aunt May, then SOMEHOW gets into Peter's place (if it clung to him, WHY didn't it stay on him and take him over the first time?)...and then disappears. We don't seem him for two days in the movie. Then, it just waits around the apartment for the perfect time to take over? I mean, it's like the writer just said, "OH YEAH! The symbiote thing! I forgot..." The COMIC dealt with it better! In ULTIMATE, the lab-created symbiote is a MUCH better buy and runs along the lines of science-turning-on-creator theme that Spider-Man uses so much, but no, we're going for alien in a rock. Couldn't have just run around the city and THEN find Parker?
- Eddie Brock's character. Wow. ANOTHER complex character they turned into an upstart, quick-talking jackass. GONE is his backstory about his abusive dad, GONE is his wife (he's single and conveniently dating Gwen Stacy, imitating the ULTIMATE version of events in the comic), and GONE is the nice guy trying to overcome his dark side. In the comic, in the church, he BEGS for forgiveness...in the movie, he actually BEGS for God to kill Peter Parker, which is just really crass and stupid.
- Gwen Stacy is a two-bit shell of a character. She's just there to look pretty, say a few lines, date Peter Parker, then VANISH after Parker hits MJ in the face (more on that in a second). I might add that her transition from Brock to Parker is SO unexplained, it's not even funny. Gwen just conveniently says, "you wanna date me too? Oh goodie!"??? I guess so. GONE is her death at the hands of either of the two Goblin characters, but oh well.
- Spider-Man's spider-sense has just gone missing completely. It doesn't appear AT ALL throughout the movie, hence the reason why he was able to get beat up by Harry so quick in the beginning and why he was destroyed by Venom and Sandman near the end. What happened? That's just careless...
- Mary Jane has been turned into a friggin' nag. Giving her the reason to be pissed for Spider-Man kissing Gwen, she's become an unforgiving, horrifyingly non-understanding shrew. She just whines and whines and whines...Kirsten Dunst just looks uninterested in playing the role and looks TERRIBLE in the movie, too. Tired and aged just a bit, she looks like she's had it with the franchise. I don't blame her.
- In perhaps the WORST cinema I've ever experienced, when Peter Parker's dark side comes out to play, it is soooo bad. The theater was laughing and not in a good way. The first thing he does after he goes all "black spider" is look at himself in the mirror...and then he puts his hair down over his eyes like he's a total bad-ass emo/goth kid. Also, there are now rings around his eyes that make him look even more "evil". He's not evil. In fact, Peter Parker just looks like a bigger dork than he already is. He looks less like some bad-ass evildoer...and more like he should be a roadie for Green Day. PUH-THETIC. This was a HUGE letdown. Instead of Parker using the suit to nearly KILL The Sandman (which Peter somehow thinks he does by drowning him in water the first time; even I wouldn't THINK he was dead after watching that) or some other common criminal, the evil suit makes him dance like an idiot down the street, pinch a woman's ass, do 70's disco pointers and roll his arms around and around like Travolta. All this after buying a black Armani suit (he can't afford an engagement ring OR rent and yet he has the cash to buy an expensive suit...ok) and then taking Gwen out to a club.
- Oh, the club scene...my stomach turns just thinking about it. Okay, so Parker takes Gwen out for a date and sees that MJ has a job as a "singing waitress" (yeah, that'll help her pay the rent of her BEAUTIFUL apartment in New York; and while I'm on the subject, why aren't she and Peter living together to save money in the city?) and proceeds to humiliate her by jumping up, playing the piano next to her, dancing around the bar like Jim Carrey in THE MASK and then kissing Gwen in front of her. All this before he backhands her in the face, causing him to go even more emo and ditch the black Spidey suit. All of it...because Raimi wanted to save face, dodge an "R-rating" by making Peter darker and more serious, and stick with a PG-13 rating to attract more kids, thus ensuring more cash flow at the box office.
- Speaking of which, you BARELY see Spider-Man in this movie. He has a screen-time of five minutes in this movie, it seems. The rest of the time, Peter fights WITHOUT the costume, or while wearing part of the black suit under his clothing without the mask on. And when he DOES finally put the mask on for the final battle, it's beaten off of him in two minutes after getting his ass handed to him by Sandman. Does Spider-Man's mask EVER stay on his body? I mean, in the comics, he goes through way worse than what I've seen and his costume is fully intact after that.
- In fact, Venom knows his identity as does Sandman. Considering Doc Ock, and both Goblins know it, too, as well as fifty other people in a train car in New York thanks to unmasking in front of everyone in the second movie, I would hate to be related to Parker in any way. It's amazing that Aunt May and MJ are still alive and not dead at the hands of some maniac who wants to make Parker's life a living hell.
- I am REALLY sick of the "damsel-in-distress" plotline used at the end of EVERY SINGLE MOVIE in this series. Mary Jane gets kidnapped by the Goblin, gets kidnapped by Doc Ock, gets kidnapped by Venom and Sandman and the ONLY reason she doesn't get kidnapped by Harry is because she does what Harry wants and dumps Peter to crush Peter's heart. Mary Jane is the most helpless woman on the planet which confuses me. In the comics, she's tough and able to defend herself against, even, the toughest of Spider-Man's foes. In this series, she's screamy and whiny and can't defend herself from the urge to eat a cookie.
- The whole symbiote storyline just is NOT explored well nor is the difference between Peter and Eddie executed well. They also NEEDED to address how the symbiote works, why it clings to somebody, how it can amplify the dark side of a human being, etc. Bringing the symbiote to your college science professor instead of somebody who can actually STUDY the thing professionally (AKA a scientist) also baffles me.
- Oh, Peter gets the suit off via that really loud churchbell trick. Of course, this really isn't explained as much as it was in the comic. How do you NOT explain the weakness? And WHY can't Peter put two and two together to figure out that high-decibel sound causes it to go nuts? The worst insult is when he discovers it during the climactic battle and has this "hey-wait-a-minute" moment where he suddenly remembers the bell working. If the thing nearly jumped off his skin in the church, wouldn't Peter REMEMBER that? I mean, that's TERRIBLE writing.
- Before I get to Venom, Peter is such a wuss. The real Spider-Man just kicked ass and was a smart-ass to cover for the angst inside of him. This one is a giant passive dork. He tries to reason with Sandman, Eddie, and Harry all at different points in the movie which is just laughable. It's even MORE laughable when they laugh in his face and reject it.
- VENOM. Oh god...VENOM. Venom is TERRIBLE. Where do I begin here? Okay. First, they got the design wrong. Venom is HUGE in the comic book. He looks like a linebacker on 'roids. In this, he's the same size as Spider-Man. On top of that, Venom is supposed to sound like the gates of hell is going off inside his head...but, when he opens his mouth and sounds like Carlton the Doorman, oh man, the fright factor just vanishes. Ugh. And the worst CGI I have ever seen: WHY does the symbiote keep peeling itself back to reveal Eddie Brock again? I laughed at that SO hard. Eddie's teeth cracked me up. Suddenly, inside his mouth, he's sprouted pirahna teeth. I didn't know the suit was able to give the wearer new sharp, jagged numerous teeth! That's new to me! On top of ALL of this, he doesn't even ACT like Venom! He refers to himself as "I" when it should be "we" and just figures out Spider-Man is Peter Parker...
- Another thing. He gets the symbiote from the church. Fine. But he hears somebody SCREAMING...and then looks up about fifty feet to see the bell ringing and a figure just thrashing around. Without ANY clue, Brock just says, "PARKER!" HOW DOES BROCK KNOW THAT'S PETER PARKER?!? It could be ANYBODY! Does Eddie have Spider-Sense? Is THAT why Peter no longer has it?
- Mary Jane being kidnapped was mentioned already but GOOD GOD...you would think she would be done with both Harry and Peter at this point and move FAR away. Between being choked, harrassed and threatened by Harry and beat by Peter, any other woman would be GONE...but NOT MJ! She just stays there like the glutton for punishment she is.
- Speaking of which, she gets bullied by Harry into dumping Peter to save Peter's life. MJ then dumps Peter in Central Park...which causes Peter to think that MJ loves him even more and whip out the engagement ring. Ugh. Was there a reason MJ didn't whisper to Peter about Harry watching them and tell Peter to take her away someplace so she could have a talk? Once again, logic takes a smoke-break.
- Harry and Peter fight for the last time. It ends with Harry taking a pumpkin bomb to the face and Peter walking away with his friend, presumably dead in the background.
- But he's not! Didn't see THAT coming, did ya'? In fact, Harry's face is just scarred on one side and he's blind in one eye. I think. It's never said. Funny...a grenade blowing up just inches from somebody's face would most likely kill them. A non-fatal blow would be defying huge odds but Harry survives that? Okay. Why not?
- And this...THIS is the worst part of the movie: Harry shoves Peter away totally as Peter begs Harry to help him help Mary Jane. No, I'm not kidding. SO out of character for Harry. Harry wouldn't put himself before MJ. He loves her too much...but he does.
- Even worse: Okay, get this: after that, Harry's butler REVEALS THAT HARRY'S DAD WAS KILLED BY HIS OWN GLIDER!!! This completely changes Harry's mind about things and I'm sitting there thinking, "Gee! Thanks! So, you're telling me that Peter was telling the truth the whole time and I just wrecked everything because you forgot to mention that in the first place?!?" That is really the biggest lapse of logic in the entire movie and just inexcusable. As a friend of mine put it:
"Listen, Harry, though I was never seen, nor refrenced in either previous film, I've been a very close person in your life. For the lame viewing audience, that will likely confuse me with Alfred, I'll now part this wisdom on you, that, in addition to my janitorial duties, I am a well trained forensic criminalogist, and moreover, that your father died of his own wounds. As I care so much about you, I've needlessly kept this secret from you, for years, watching the misconstrued assumption you made regarding your fathers death consume you and ruin your life with throughts of betrayal and revenge, as it tears you apart from your only remaining friends. And, while I could have told you all of this yesterday, I now know that having narrowly escaped a battle with Spiderman, and disfigured as you are, you'll take this newfound knowledge and redeem yourself, and then likely die."
- Harry showing up to help Peter after that is totally predictable. I mean, you see it coming even BEFORE Peter leaves Harry to sulk in his mansion after the impassioned and clichéd, "this-is-bigger-than-us" speech.
- Sandman crying as he confesses his transgressions is the most unintentionally funny scene since Spider-Man tells Doc Ock not to "listen to his tentacles anymore". SO humiliating.
- Here is the last four scenes of the movie in 30 seconds: I'm not kidding here. The scenes go like this. Big battle. Venom dies (at the hands of a pumpkin bomb that couldn't wipe out Harry but disintegrates Eddie and the symbiote...whatever). Sandman rematerializes after kicking Peter's ass three ways from Sunday and then actually MANAGES TO GET PETER TO LISTEN TO HIM ABOUT HIS BAD LUCK. Sandman cries as he confesses that he didn't mean to kill Peter's uncle. He floats away after crying. Harry dies. Peter, Mary, and Harry all cry as he dies. Funeral. Peter and Mary Jane cry. Fade out. Fade in. Mary Jane is at her job, being a "singing waitress" at a jazz club and Peter interrupts. He goes to hold her and dance with her. They both cry. The end.
Deep breath. Ok.
I really thought that Spider-Man wasn't capable of being shitty. I was wrong. I thought Sam Raimi was incapable of fucking up the series. I was wrong. This has turned into Spider-Man by Dr. Phil and Joel Schumacher.
What's next??? Spider-Man Beach: The Real NYC?!?
This movie was worse than X3 and JUST as bad as Batman & Robin in that it was big, loud, stupid, careless, not logical, and plainly silly with villains taken straight from Akiva Goldsman's typewriter. Venom and Sandman was like watching Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze and/or Bane. Aunt May is barely in the movie at all.
This movie blows.
I wanted to slap this movie and Sam Raimi SO hard. PLEASE don't make anymore Spider-Man movies.
This was Batman & Robin, incarnate. The WORST movie I've seen this year, behind "300" and one of the worst comic book movies I have ever seen.
I cannot WAIT for the new Batman movie. At least that sounds like it's good. At least DC has been taking their time as of late and not hurrying out movies like diarreah. Even the new F4 movie is shit.
I don't need to see 183 Marvel movies in one year. It's annoying. Avi Arad has become the world's biggest whore, a man interested in making a fast buck by prostituting Marvel's best creations.
If you don't believe me, look at the list:
F4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
And the "please, please, PLEASE don't" category:
They're just interested in quantity over quality. Isn't it telling that, since 2000, Marvel has released 16 movies? I mean, WHAT is the rush here??? Slow down! Take your time! You can make GREAT movies if you didn't hurry!
But, they won't listen to me. Just throw your crap on-screen. Viewers will just eat it all up, no questions asked.
I know one thing for certain: if there's another Spider-Man movie, I'm not seeing it. I don't care WHO is in it or why. Raimi has completely built the Spider-Man franchise and he's also brought it down. Way to go, Sam.
Way to go.
Posted on 4/25/06 01:36 AM
There is a time in a person's life when they must bear down and do something they don't want to do. Whether it's collating a report for the boss at work or have surgery on a major part of your body, you wince at the very thought of whatever it is you have to put yourself through.
For me, it was Friday, April 21st, when my best friend got me, my brother and five other friends tickets to see "Silent Hill".
Never before have I wished to be collating a major report or having my toenails removed following getting eight shots in each foot just to numb it.
I have been careful not to write my initial thoughts about the movie because I didn't feel like fielding a zillion complaints about how wrong I was and how the movie was like the second coming and the greatest thing since...oh, I dunno, the release of the last Silent Hill video game.
Little do these people realize that I am a gaming veteran. I'm not talking about the 64-bit Sony/N64 era. I'm talking about the Atari 2600, the 8-bit NES, the 16-bit Super Nintendo, the Gameboy, and the obtuse Atari Jaguar. I've played on nearly every gaming console there ever was.
I was whooping ass at Pac-Man on the Atari 7800 while you whippersnappers (I've ALWAYS wanted to use that word someday) were in diapers.
I played Silent Hill for about a minute on the PlayStation and I admit to liking the concept. It's not my favorite game but it was cool.
So, there's my background.
The movie opened Friday. I remember, at this time last year, that Sin City was released and I looked forward to another early and thrilling start to the Summer Movie Season. Now, I wasn't looking for another "Sin City" because, let's face it, "Sin City" was a great movie, but I WAS looking for a good movie.
If I were to sum this review up in one sentence just so you could understand my feelings and so a clever publication can use it as a blurb, I would say this:
Watching this movie is like watching one of your friends play "Silent Hill" on a giant movie screen.
It's like going to his house and sitting down on his couch and hearing him say to you, "Hey, you wanna WATCH ME play 'Silent Hill' until I finish the game?"
And, so, you nod just to be polite, hoping that he'll get bored of it or he'll sense your boredom and he will just stop playing so you can play something else or watch a movie.
But he doesn't. Instead, he just plays for hours on end until you're nearly falling asleep and it takes that much longer because he hasn't exactly mastered every nook and cranny of the game and keeps getting his head lopped off, his skin torn to shreds, his body burnt to a crisp, or he just keeps falling into a pit of lava while breathlessly reassuring you, "Dude, trust me...I ALWAYS pass this stage."
The movie stars Radha Mitchell as "Rose DaSilva".
Now, according to dedicated gamers, who have followed "Silent Hill" like a religion, this movie is "100% accurate to the game".
I guess not because I don't ever remember the main character being named, "Rose DaSilva". I don't remember the child being named, "Sharon". I remember that the main character was a GUY named "Harry". Him and his daughter were going on a vacation to Silent Hill.
Her daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) has trouble sleeping at night and just gets up and sleepwalks all over the place. On this particular night, Sharon has found her way to to the edge of a cliff that is conveniently located, not only next to Rose's beautiful home, but next to a bustling freeway overpass.
After saving Sharon's life, Mommy DaSilva decides to do the most responsible and motherly thing to help her daughter cure her sleepwalking problem once and for all.
She takes Sharon to a doctor and--oh, wait a minute...no, that's what would happen in a LOGICAL movie.
Without doing ANY RESEARCH WHATSOEVER, Rose decides to take Sharon to the town of Silent Hill. Had she looked the town up like her much smarter husband (played thanklessly by the always-great Sean Bean), Rose would have found out that Silent Hill was closed to the public years ago due to a fire which left toxic fumes floating all over the place. I'm sure she would have also used Google Earth and been surprised that the town hasn't yet been razed by state and government officials.
Anyway, forget all that. They travel to Silent Hill and immediately draw the suspicion of the local police, which there seems to be only one besides Officer Thomas Gucci (Kim Coates) who has the arduous task of helping Rose's husband, Chris, find his wife and daughter.
To my knowledge, none of this is in the game...but let's go on.
For some reason, instead of pulling over to the side of the road when Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) tells them to, Rose decides to go really, really, OMIGOD, really fast, in pouring rain, smashing through a gate, running across a rickety bridge, endangering her child in a way that Britney Spears would be proud of.
In the process, Rose runs right through the ghost of Alessa, a child who haunts the town, and the Jeep crashes.
Rose awakes to find Sharon gone. She has apparently sleepwalked her cute little butt into the town of Silent Hill. Rose, at this point, decides that she needs to find her daughter. She's attacked by things resembling burnt chicken wings and is nearly killed. Yet, she continues to run in to find her child.
The one reason to like this movie is the art and set direction. Everything looks depressingly pretty...but that's also another reason to be unimpressed. I've seen the game. I was impressed by the trailers. The art direction, at that point, no longer produces the same level of seratonin in my body. I'm sorry. I've seen it in a game, I've seen it on a screen...and I've seen it BEFORE there was a Silent Hill video game. It's called "Cambria, California on a foggy day".
It's a town covered in FOG people. Get a grip! I could see that if I go into my town during the winter!
The dialogue is a winner, too. It mainly consists of Rose spouting lines with conviction and finality and Sharon's name yelled every minute on the minute. Rose also is a big fan of reassuring herself, Cybil, and her daughter that "everything is OK".
After running back to the Jeep, Sharon is arrested by Cybil who laughably tells one of those bandaged up armless things, "don't move" as it comes grunting and moving its way towards the girls.
Rose runs from Cybil AGAIN which just makes one wonder how Cybil EVER became a cop in the first place when she can't seem to hold on to a single suspect. When they find one another again (after nearly being torn to shreds by a muscled-up thing with a motorcycle ramp for a head), the two agree to work together to find Rose's daughter.
Meanwhile, Chris and Officer Gucci exhaust every possible method to find Chris's wife and daughter. This extensive sweep of the town includes Officer Gucci...and Chris...and Gucci's reassurance that "Rose isn't here, Chris".
You can't make this stuff up, folks.
We later discover that Sharon is magically linked to Alessa, somehow, some way and that Alessa needs Sharon's help in getting revenge on the twisted zealot group that took Alessa's life.
The end is something I cannot even imagine in my nightmares.
In fact, there were several moments where I was looking at my watch and wishing that I was somewhere else. One such moment was where the Pyramid Headed guy (called, "Pyramid Head", go figure) gets a hold of one of the female villagers. The movie, just to be exploitive and plain sick, chooses the quick and easy path to disgust: instead of P.H. killing her, he rips the villager's clothes off...then rips all her skin off her body. If THAT wasn't enough, he throws her freshly-ripped flesh at the church doors where the villagers hide, splattering blood all over Cybil and Rose.
Folks, I can handle violence. If you looked at my DVD collection, you would KNOW that I am a huge fan of guts and gore. Romero's "Dead" movies come to mind...but THAT...that is simply uncalled for.
One of the reviewers tried to sum it up by saying, "It's based on a video game, not Shakespeare."
That isn't enough reason to excuse this movie of its sins. By that rationale, I guess that Mortal Kombat and Bloodrayne were masterpieces, too, right? I don't think that studios are aware that video games made into movies just DON'T WORK. I don't care how accurate or fantastical or beautiful they "look" or how authentic they are to the source material.
The source materal (writing, dialogue, plot) is what will kill a video game movie EVERY SINGLE TIME.
I don't think I CAN sum this up. I could take the easy way out and say, "fans of the video game will adore it".
It's fairly simple to say that seeing as how it's a giant tribute to the ultra-geeky fanboy. Over half the time, the movie is a giant eyeball that winks at every gamer who has held a PlayStation controller in their grubby little hands. At times, it winks so much that it seems to say, "Remember that from the game? Do ya'? DO YA'? DO YA?!?"
It may be true to say that fanboys would rejoice at this movie...but that also does not, a good movie, make. If so, then one could simply say, "'The Fast and the Furious' will be adored by fans of tricked out precision automobiles" or "'Stick It' will be enjoyed by gymnasts everywhere".
Nope. Can't say either of those...but I can say this:
Silent Hill is boring, at best. Its ideas are as interesting as what is seen in the video game, which means that it does NOT translate well at ALL to a movie screen. The writing is crap. The dialogue is atrocious. The story starts out in the survival horror realm and degenerates into some unbelievable mess of a plot about religious extremists who tortured "evil and sin" in their town.
The "message" about religion (which I also don't follow in my life) and the use of "fear as a weapon" is hackneyed, heavy-handed, and wholly unoriginal, even though I detest the current Administration.
Silent Hill is easily a candidate for worst movie of the year.
* out of ****
Posted on 6/29/05 11:07 PM
"I'd see that it had a certain panache. That's what I'm good at. Not the work, not the work...the PRESENTATION."
-- Liam Neeson, SCHINDLER'S LIST
The presentation, indeed. Style and suspense are very powerful tools.
WAR OF THE WORLDS opens up today and it shows us a few things:
Firstly, Spielberg is STILL a master filmmaker who cannot make a bad movie if he animated stick-figures and made them fight...oh, I dunno, Pokemon or something...wait, on second thought, don't give him any ideas.
Secondly, it shows us that Tom Cruise could marry three sheep and date a 4-year-old at the same time and he would STILL be able to carry a movie. The man is Michael Jackson without the frightening exterior because he chose to date a younger woman and convert her to his cult and he still manages to impress...that rascal. If I didn't mention something about him, all of you would be telling me that I ignored talking about him and his personal life. I'm sick of hearing about him every two seconds when we have more important things to discuss, but when it comes down to it, I really don't care.
Thirdly, this is one of the greatest summers we've ever had, cinematically.
We've had SIN CITY (even thought it came in Spring, it's still gimmicky enough to be considered as such), REVENGE OF THE SITH, BATMAN BEGINS, LAND OF THE DEAD, and now, WAR OF THE WORLDS. Consider that we've seen five huge filmmakers deliver: Robert Rodriguez, George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, George Romero, and Stevie Spielberg.
Steven Spielberg just gets better and better. While not as well thought-out as say, MINORITY REPORT or A.I. (which is highly underrated), WAR OF THE WORLDS lulls you into a false sense of secuirty with a light beginning where divorced father, Ray (Cruise), is charged with looking after his two precocious kids (Justin Chatwin, Dakota Fanning) for the weekend while his former wife (Miranda Otto) runs off with her new beau (David Alan Basche) to see Ray's parents in Boston.
The banter the kids and Ray share is realistic, though their behavior and what they talk about is a bit unbelievable since they both seem somehow wise beyond their years.
Things don't pick up until the lightning strikes begin to hit and the first tripod comes roaring out of the ground, ripping up everything in its path. After that, your back will either be pressed against your theater-seat or you'll actually supporting your head with your hands as your elbows are touching your knees like the two guys sitting next to me.
I don't think their eyes ever left the screen. Not once. Not even to look at each other in amazement.
The movie follows Ray and his family as they attempt to run and hide from some hideous-looking aliens. They find out, rather quickly, that there's really nowhere to run and that the pissed-off invaders can find them pretty much anywhere they go. They even run into a paranoid survivalist played by Tim Robbins, who cannot seem to get the part of "Dave" from MYSTIC RIVER out of his head.
This movie is as impressive as it is spectacular.
It's not just the effects that are impressive. That's just part of it. It's the action, the design, the actors (who interact surprisingly well with non-existent CGI'ed imagery around them), the sound effects, and the surprising character-depth. This movie screams, BLOCKBUSTER, before you even have a chance to catch your breath.
It has the darkness of MINORITY REPORT, the scares of JURASSIC PARK, and the suspense of JAWS and it STILL manages to impress you, using every dollar you paid for it. It's like driving through the Santa Cruz mountains for the first time in a beautiful new car with a turbo-engine: it's just like you dreamed when you test-drove it.
It's the little things that make this movie great, the things that the movie does NOT do that make a lasting impression. Cruise is cast as a father who is an Everyman and not an action-hero. He uses his brains as well his brawn to get out of tough situations yet he's still fearful and vulnerable at the same time. After being seemingly invincible throughout the first half of the movie and then ducking into a trashed diner with his son and daughter, he just plain breaks down and cries as his children look on with unknowing concern: he's supposed to lead them and teach them, not show that he can be hurt or defeated. When he breaks down, he's not only feeling the delayed emotions of his character but for the emotions of every other character he's played in his entire career. He's supposed to be single-handedly kicking alien-butt, not cracking under pressure.
This is a side of Cruise we rarely see.
Another scene that sticks out in my mind is during the next stage during the invasion. There's no ray-gun battles or a gymnastic Dakota Fanning kicking an alien in the face, ala THE LOST WORLD...there's a telescopic tentacle with an "eye" that scouts dark areas. If it finds Ray, Rachel (Fanning), or Ogilvy (Robbins), they're doomed. Any director could make this a jump-up-and-cheer Hollywood sequence...but this is Steven Spielberg we're talking about. This is the Hitchcock of our time.
The scene hardly has any scoring behind it and takes place quietly as the survivors tip-toe around a very small basement to avoid capture and subsequent death. Just when you think they're caught, they're not. The scene is impressive due to the camera-work, the lighting, and the body-acting, which is never easy. Few can pull it off. And just when you think they've escaped, in come the aliens to look around.
Someday, Steven Spielberg will cease to impress me. Someday, they'll say that he hit the bell-curve a long time ago and that he should retire while he's still ahead...but I don't think Spielberg is ready to roll downhill yet. He's still at the peak of his career.
And for him and his new movie, it's all about the presentation. I loved this movie.
***1/2 out of ****
Posted on 6/18/05 06:47 PM
I've read nearly every Batman book my best friends have handed me. I know every story, every character, the mythology...
I've seen every Batman movie that's been made with the exception of the old serials that were released so long ago. I've seen campy Adam West comedies, Batman/Prince musicals, a crazed, slightly brain-damaged Catwoman, bat-suits with nipples, and a pre-Governator actor badly portraying a maniacal mad scientist with a penchant for ice.
The Batman mythology has been invented and re-invented and then burned down by Joel "If-I-go-down-I'm-taking-it-down-with-me" Schumacher.
On June 15th, the first Batman movie since 1998 opened up in theaters everywhere...and we've come a long way since Prince and nippled black rubber.
BATMAN BEGINS is a triumph, pure and simple. It's not altogether flashy, it's not all-action and no brains, and it's not villains taking over the picture, chewing up scenery like Pac-Man on speed...but that's what makes the movie great. It's a Batman movie that is meant for the long-term comic book movie fanatic. It sets up the character of Bruce Wayne and shows you why he lives in darkness. Batman isn't somebody he WANTED to become. He's not a happy hero like Superman and he's not a smart-ass like Spider-Man. Wayne is a tortured individual who seeks justice in the name of Gotham City and his beloved parents.
I remember a scene in BATMAN FOREVER with Val Kilmer and Chris O'Donnell when O'Donnell tells Batman (Kilmer) that he's going to find Two-Face and kill him for taking his parents' lives. Kilmer quietly and thoughtfully responds on how Robin (O'Donnell) will seek revenge for the death of his parents. He explains, "You'll make the kill...but your pain doesn't END with Harvey, it grows...so you run off into the night to find another face...and another...and another...and somewhere along the way, it stops being a choice."
It was beautifully written and was as deep as the Batman franchise had dug into the psyche of the character. It tried to expand several times but always broke for ear-bleeding action and Jim Carrey going in-freakin'-sane, man, like he always does.
In this one, we open with Bruce Wayne (the brilliantly-casted Christian Bale) waking up after recalling a nightmarish moment of his childhood wherein he fell into a cave and was attacked by bats. He's a prisoner (by choice) someplace in Asia where he fights off thugs in groups of six at a time and meets Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), a mysterious stranger who tells Bruce that his quest for justice lies with The League of Shadows, an organization led by Ras al Ghul (Ken Watanabe).
Ducard eventually teaches Wayne how to become that which he fears and use it against those who use fear and suffering to their advantage...but Wayne quickly realizes that all is not what it seems. He finds out that the League's solution to long-term and widespread terror in one area is to wipe out all life in that area and start over and Gotham is on The League's list of cities to annihilate.
After escaping with his life and saving Ducard's, Bruce goes back to Gotham, determined to come to terms with the death of his parents, reclaim his father's company, Wayne Enterprises, and take back his city.
We have, of course, heard all this before, but never in such detail. The movie goes to great lengths to explain how and why Bruce got his start in the superhero business. His weaponry and vehicles are given to him by Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), a former company exec who was demoted to basement tech-rat by the shrewd Richard Earle (Rutger Hauer), the new CEO. He redesigns the cave he fell into as a child to suit his needs.
But, there's more...
Gotham is being terrorized by Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), a mob-boss who runs the east-coast drug-trade among other things. He's secretly in cahoots with Dr. Jonathan Crane AKA "The Scarecrow" (Cillian Murphy) who rules Arkham Asylum with an iron fist. The reason why Crane calls himself "The Scarecrow" is because he dons a leather mask resembling one that a Scarecrow would wear and because he's invented a toxin that makes a person see their worst fear...
But the thing is, all of what I have described melds together. One thing doesn't overrule the other. Plot-lines are smartly written, characters are brought vividly to life, and this Batman is different. It's not about action and martial arts and Batman leaping from rooftop to rooftop trying to pick up villains portrayed by actors who like to ham it up. This is a Batman movie by two people who know what they're doing.
Christopher Nolan ("Memento", "Insomnia") knows how to make a movie. He knows darkness and he couldn't have picked a better screenwriting partner than David Goyer, the author of all the BLADE movies, THE CROW, and DARK CITY. Goyer is a self-described comic fan who climbed aboard the film with so much enthusiasm, that this movie was destined to be successful.
BATMAN BEGINS is both highly realistic and a little fantastic at the same time. Christian Bale brings so much soul to Bruce Wayne's character, that he becomes as fascinating as the villains who surround him. You feel so much for him that you want justice just as bad as he does.
I can dig a franchise like this for years to come.
**** out of ****
Posted on 8/06/04 09:48 PM
August is usually the time when the summer movie season winds down and we really don't see something decent for another few weeks.
I'm not sure it's been a great summer. I enjoyed "Van Helsing" to a degree but it compared to the year's movies, it was your typical "by-the-numbers" summer fare. I liked "Spider-Man 2" but I didn't love it(I got e-mails about that one). I thought that "The Village" was very good(don't worry; I got some e-mailers for that, too, who did NOT agree with me in the slightest), but it wasn't the best film in the whole world. "I, Robot" was a "traveshamockery", if I may quote the Miller Beer President.
The only things that seemed to be any good at all were "The Manchurian Candidate" which was based off the classic 1962 film by John Frankenheimer and "The Bourne Supremacy" which was based off the classic Robert Ludlum novel. Will we touch on "Fahrenheit 9/11"? Yes, we will. It's odd when a documentary is the best film of the summer and perhaps the year.
We won't mention "Catwoman" because I did that last week...though, I do hear "Little Black Book" (also opening this weekend)is giving that film a run for its money as worst film of the year.
This is why "Collateral" is a rare treat. Yeah, it's only the beginning of August, so what do I know?
To tell you the truth, I wasn't expecting very much from the film when I first saw it advertised. The press and most of the public seem to confine Tom Cruise to being a pretty-boy with no acting talent and they use that against him to drown his movies out of commission. I don't get this because the guy is now in his 40's (which hardly makes him any type of "boy") with two Oscar nominations (which he should have won had the Oscars not been under the impression that Michael Caine was going to die soon). If you couple this with the fact that Michael Mann's "Ali" was a little dull and his last decent film was, "The Insider", things really didn't bode well in my mind.
I saw this film with one of my best friends (who will hopefully be guest-writing with me) who conspired with me to see it when we both saw it trailer with "Spider-Man 2". Before the film's beginning, we argued about the best Michael Mann effort. We agreed for the most part on "Miami Vice", were split on "Heat" (I adore the film and he thought it was fair), and I educated him on "Manhunter" (the first "Hannibal Lecter" film which he has never seen). With my uncertainty about Cruise and Michael Mann and his unhappiness with "Heat", we watched "Collateral" with the hope that this was the next great thing.
Like I say, I don't claim to know much but what I DO know is that "Collateral" is elegance-incarnate masquerading as a tough crime-drama and it opens this week in theaters everywhere.
Jamie Foxx (the upcoming "Ray", "Any Given Sunday", "Booty Call") plays an L.A. cab driver named Max. Max is an everyman who dreams of much bigger things but is really stuck in a rut with regards to his life and career. He wants a better life and has a picture of a tropical paradise clipped to the driver's-side sunshade in his cab. He picks up a fare (Jada Pinkett-Smith) at the airport who turns out to be a fairly successful attorney. They exchange light-hearted banter, comparing driving routes to her destination as well as lives and insecurities. It's clear that Max is upset with himself a) for being so low on society's food chain and b) because he knows that Annie, the attorney, comes from the highest rung on the ladder. After trying to impress her, she reveals that she is happy but still a human being. She explains that she tries to be optimistic but can't stop thinking about misspeaking in court or botching evidence, therefore, she isn't as happy as she could be.
Max takes a liking to her and the feeling is mutual, but when the ride ends, so does their meeting, unfortunately. To help relax her hectic life, he gives her a gift: his picture of paradise. It's only here in a cab that Max will ever have contact with the outside world. He's confined and you feel it. When Annie gives Max her business card in return for his kindness, his world opens up again. His heart is touched and Max begins to feel inspired...until Vincent (Tom Cruise), his next fare, enters his life. Vincent is cold, detatched, sarcastic, but seems cool and collected. He hates the city of Los Angeles and explains that nobody knows each other here. He states that people in the city are so ignorant, they don't even notice when they die. When Max takes Vincent where he wants to go, Vincent lays out his agenda: he's a real-estate salesman who has to close a few sales and has five stops to make before he gets on a 6:00 AM flight out of LAX. He will gladly hand Max $600 dollars if Max can drive him around to his stops the entire night.
Max agrees reluctantly and waits for Vincent to return to the cab after he goes to "close a sale". Max tries to disappear into his own little world, eating a sandwich for dinner and studying literature on his dream car: a Mercedes Benz. Everything literally comes crashing down on him when a body falls from the top story of the building that Vincent just went into and lands on the top of his cab. It turns out Vincent is a hitman and he has offered Max a new ultimatum: become Vincent's driver for the rest of the evening or he dies.
But things aren't that simple. There's an LAPD cop (IN THE CUT's Mark Ruffalo) investigating the murder of Vincent's targets which are signifigant for a reason the FBI won't reveal. To make things worse, Max's uncooperative nature begins to put Vincent out of sorts with the gang of underworld thugs that hired him in the first place and if Vincent can't complete his evening, his life might be over as well.
Michael Mann concocts an unlikely buddy picture here, something that he is very good at given his history in filmmaking. Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise play two completely different types of animal: one insecure and down on his luck, the other, a confident alpha-male who knows his role in life and happily goes through it without a second thought. Tom Cruise is always fun to watch because he injects so much charisma into his roles. As Vincent, he's the perfect anti-hero. You want him to win but you also want him to suffer as Max suffers. His personality is almost animalistic, especially the way he goes about his "business", taking care of his marks and at time, he's also very understated which just serves to make him look even more deadly. All that said, Jamie Foxx is the one who really surprised me. Understand, I didn't care for Foxx at all. I saw him in "Booty Call" and "Any Given Sunday" and I hated his remark about David Letterman. He seemed, to me, to be a very arrogant jackass who almost expected to be handed roles at will. Under Michael Mann's sure direction, he shows a degree of maturity that I thought I would never see. You can easily identify with his plight and want so badly for him to live through the night. You almost feel like you are in the cab with him. Jada Pinkett-Smith is perfectly cast as Annie and doesn't overact like she did in "Woo" or the "Matrix" films.
Stuart Beattie wrote the script and the dialogue is incredibly believable (especially the dialogue exchanged in the cab), save for a few goofy one-liners. When they're not bickering, Max and Vincent develop a love/hate relationship. Max asks a lot of questions and Vincent taunts him from the backseat, holding a gun. The characters aren't superhuman and respond and react the same way a normal human being might.
This is one of Michael Mann's best and his style is STILL unmatched. His skills of using music and cinematography remain sharp and help the film achieve a sort of film-noir epic grandjeur that most filmmakers dream of. His visuals are striking, especially when he uses grainy digital camerawork that brings out the beautifully eerie and ambient nighttime splendor that is the City of Angels. Lights twinkle, clubs are blanketed in bright neon, and shadows become darker than ever, giving the viewer a sense of ominous foreboding. Los Angeles very much becomes a character like its human counterparts. The soundtrack constantly sways and/or pounds depending on the mood and the motivation of the characters. Michael Mann cheerfully shows the world how much he taught Quentin Tarantino by using songs and orchestra at all the right moments. This is especially awesome in a key set-piece: a crowded nightclub where Vincent must assassinate a key trial witness with the police closing in.
This is a great movie and I never thought I would say this, but I would love to see more of Jamie Foxx. Like Max, his character in the film, he is showing signs of growing up.
***1/2 out of ****
Posted on 7/24/04 09:51 PM
July hasn't been a good month for the movies.
After DC Comic fans wouldn't go see Halle Berry ham it up in a stupid S & M outfit and thus, witnessing the apocalyptic catastrophe, "Catwoman" rightfully crash and burn at the box office (a pathetic 3rd Place opening with $17 Mil, finishing behind the tepid "I, Robot", a film that opened the week before it), "The Village" is a damn good breath of fresh air.
I did something before seeing this movie that I don't normally do: I read just about every critic's review of the film. I hate doing that for several reasons. For one, I always have their thoughts in my head and always find the faults they point out are magnified ten times larger than normal, two, I don't like spending time talking about other critics and three, I don't want to go in with any sort of expectations other than what I saw in the trailers and T.V. spots. I remedy all of this by just reading little quips or by-lines and then wait until I've seen the movie.
If you haven't read the reviews of this film, most have been highly critical of director M. Night Shyamalan who, after doing two weak movies, reloaded and turned out the fantastic ghost story, "The Sixth Sense". Somehow, in all his success, Night set himself up to fail. That film was so good and the twist at the end so mind-blowing, that he couldn't possibly live up to future releases. "Unbreakable" was a wonderful film giving us a glimpse of the mythical "hero's journey" and "Signs", while not very good, was effective in at least building tension before it finally petered out with no payoff.
So now, after you've read all of the above (I told you I hate getting into what critics think), let's turn to "The Village" (opening this weekend).
"We are thankful for the time we have been given," says Edward Walker (William Hurt) in monotone, addressing his people, who are gathered for lunch/dinner at a few long wooden tables. He ends there, seemingly trailing away from what he wanted to say. Already, there is a tense energy in the air. Something isn't right. Before this, one of the townspeople buried their child. Victim, apparently, of a gang of creatures that live in the woods surrounding the isolated and puritanical village-town of Covington, Pennsylvania. Run by a group of "elders" headed mostly by Walker and Alice Hunt (Sigourney Weaver), they inform their people that they do not stray into the woods and the creatures do not go into Covington. Their loud and eerie howls fill the air, causing the townspeople's nerves to be on edge. Only the seemingly-crazed Noah Percy (Adrien Brody in a thankless role) seems to find humor and laughs outloud at the noises coming from the forest beyond...
In response to the town's recent death, Alice's fearless son, Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix) announces to the elders that he wants to go into the woods and obtain medicine from a neighboring town. He does so, against their wishes, but is witnessed by one of the creatures to be in their territory. Because of this, all hell breaks loose. The creatures come into town, leaving red marks on every door of every building. Animals are found skinned with twisted necks.
Through all this, Alice addresses the nervous townsfolk, telling them, "we must remain vigilant"...familiar words, especially in light of current world events.
If this isn't enough, Edward's blind daughter, Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard) has fallen for Lucius because he shares the same traits she carries. He is brave and he knows how to handle himself. He's also very morose and serious and doesn't speak much. This makes him a poor match for Edward's other daughter, Kitty, who was shot down by Lucius after she (embarrassingly) confessed her love for him. It isn't until another tragedy befalls the town that Ivy takes it upon herself to try and learn the mysteries of the woods by continuing Lucius's quest. In doing so, however, she may unlock something a lot darker and more sinister.
Giving anything else away would be grounds for my arrest, trial, and execution.
This movie is brilliant. It's Shyamalan's finest film since "The Sixth Sense" and exactly what "Signs" should have been: smartly written, incredibly clever, beautifully shot, and actually creepy. There is no gore in this film (save for one scene with Brody, but it's minor) and there shouldn't be any gore. Everyone who was expecting a slasher-film came to the wrong movie...looking at Shyamalan's history, you would think that moviegoers would learn that, but no, they continue to complain.
The only problem I had with the movie was the cardboard acting. Everyone seems to be on auto-pilot as they walk through their lines as if they're going through a cold-reading in rehearsals. The only time this works is with Hurt, who expresses so much through his eyes and facial expressions, Phoenix, who seems like he has a chip on his shoulder and Weaver, who seems to be both tired and worried. The actress who steals the show is Bryce Dallas Howard. As Ivy, she is very much human and has fears and worries like the rest of her neighbors. However, she is also driven and keeps cool mainly because she has the luxury of not having her eyesight.
Like all of Night's other films, this one is also leisurely-paced but there's always that underlying tension that gives the film its wings and because of that, it's not boring. Like Rod Serling before him, Shyamalan retains his skill of stringing you along and then trapping you when you least expect it. Again, I won't spoil the ending, but once it's revealed, you may realize that you are actually a PART of the town of Covington and that thought will haunt you long after you leave the theater.
***1/2 out of ****
Posted on 6/30/04 10:13 PM
Spider-Man swings back into theaters today with webs-a-blazin' but he might need a shrink.
I recommend this film...but there is a LOT to take in here. While that isn't a bad thing, there's a lot of heavy-handedness here and some could argue that it pads out the film.
Yes, we all know Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is a depressed young man. He only has time for one life and Spider-Man takes up most of it, leaving him exhausted. This point isn't hammered into your skull, it's DRILLED past your skull, into your brain and out your eyeballs and makes the movie feel longer than it is. By the time we get through half a barrel of celluloid molasses (including an excruciatingly syrupy sequence where Peter Parker struts around to Burt Bacharach's "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head"...(no, I'm not kidding) and Parker FINALLY dons the Spider-Man costume again, the movie kicks into high gear.
Peter loves Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) but he can't tell her that because he's afraid that his "enemies will find out who he really is" and kill her. She loves HIM but can't figure him out because he can't tell her why he doesn't love her. Why Peter keeps tearing his mask off then in front of Doc Ock/ordinary citizens riding a train/Mary Jane/etc. is anybody's guess, since he's so protective of his identity. He's even unmasked by Harry Osborne! After all the unmasking, it's a wonder that a) half of New York doesn't know who Spider-Man is, b) Mary Jane isn't cannon-fodder, or c) Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) isn't swimming with the fishes. Speaking of Harry Osborne, (played thanklessly by James Franco) he's busy trying to put his late father's company "OsCorp" back on the map with a new invention that will "power the world for free"...if you create fusion from a ball of "tritium"...and then power it up by shooting at it with lasers...and then use giant mechanical arms welded into your spine to handle the growing and dangerous ball of power...so dangerous, that it sucks everything metal...into...it's path...and...oh, nevermind.
Don't worry, just enjoy!
Suffice to say, the villain this time is Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) AKA "Dr. Octopus"(named thus by "J. Jonah Jameson" played by the talented J.K. Simmons, who almost steals the entire show like it was money). Octavius's character comes off as very smart and intelligent but his attitude and character do a complete turnaround when his "arms" malfunction after an accident...
Here's where it gets murky.
There is a "control chip" on the top of the spine which prevents the arms from going "evil". In the last film, they altered the Green Goblin's outfit terribly, making him look like a reject from the "Ultraman" series and here, they alter the idea behind Doc Ock: If Octavius crushes the chip, the arms control him and he becomes evil. If he goes mad, he still controls the arms, but uses them for evil. What scientist in their right mind created "evil arms" with a fragile "control chip" that could be so easily destroyed? But, again, this is a comic book, so forget that. Instead, let's focus on Doc Ock's "evil plans": he doesn't want revenge for the accident/his wife's death/etc. at all. Instead, he wants to continue his experiment at all costs(!). Why? I don't know. If you have total power, are now a murderer, and have the means to get more power, why would you still want to be a good guy? Keep in mind, this is never fully explained.
One of the most awkward parts of the film is when Spider-Man pleads with Doc Ock "not to listen to his tentacles" which induced unintentional snickers and laughter in the theater. Alfred Molina, a British actor, playing a German villain with an American accent, plays a fine Doc Ock but seems just slightly underdone through no fault of his own.
This doesn't make the film bad. I mean, the battles between Spider-Man and Doc Ock are INCREDIBLE(the bank and train sequences are BRILLIANT, as if choreographed straight from the comic books) and the visual effects look incredibly lifelike...but the final battle is anti-climatic and the script and overall direction have some problems. David Koepp (writer of "Mission: Impossible" & "Jurassic Park") wrote the last film and he is SORELY missed. This one is by Alvin Seargeant ("Unfaithful"), one of four writers and, at times, it feels like it's been handled too much. Spider-Man isn't even close to being the smart-alec he is in the comic book. With the exception of "Here's your change" while catching and throwing a bag of cash at Doc Ock, Spider-Man's lines consist of lines like, "NO!", "You have to stop!", "Look out", and the ever-famous, "Whoo-hoo" as he goes whipping through the air.
I see a LOT of potential for this series, but hopefully all of the characters will have grown up because, at times, it's like watching reruns of "Felicity" with latex-clad super-beings flying around. At one point, Spider-Man is even unmasked in front of about 50 people on a subway train...they, in turn, promise never to tell anyone who he is.
Then Mary Jane knows.
And Doc Ock.
And let's not forget The Green Goblin OR the Goblin's son.
Heh. What's the point of this? Half of New York now knows who he is! And the worst part is that the screenwriters can't write themselves out of that little hole. Just for once, I would love to see a superhero movie where the hero's identity isn't told to
a) The superhero's lover
b) The villain
c) Half of a city
Sam Raimi is an incredibly gifted director. His contributions to the fantasy/horror genre are fantastic, but, at times, I feel like he's just building a rushed and uneven bridge to the inevitable finish. I often wondered what the film would look like with more screen-time. And this series WILL finish. "Spider-Man 3" is teased in a sequence with a surprise cameo by Willem Dafoe who played The Green Goblin in the last film.
So, how good is this movie? It's a solid comic book film. As far as movies go this summer, "The Terminal" is still the best next to "Fahrenheit 9/11". As comic-book films go, this stands somewhere below "Superman", "Blade", "Hulk" and the fantastic "X2: X-Men United" and right next to contenders like it's predecessor, "Daredevil", and the first "X-Men" film.
This Spider has yet to become a Man.
**1/2 out of ****
Posted on 6/25/04 10:59 PM
It opens up semi-quietly, showing Al and Tipper Gore celebrating a "Florida Victory" in the hours before the 2000 election. With them are a huge crowd of supporters, including Ben Affleck. We don't really hear them cheering and having a great ol' time, though. Instead, we hear director Moore lamenting about how the last four years have seemed like a big dream and to many of us in the audience who were ready to see this movie, it does indeed feel that way. I still remember George W. Bush making promises and proclaiming that he would "be a uniter and not a divider". He also said he would bring dignity back to the White House...
I've heard some reviewers as well as the fun people over at MooreWatch (an anti-Moore website) dismiss this as "propaganda". I have heard right wing polititians call this film a "tired liberal argument", a "liberal soapbox", or anything else that comes to mind and it's already one of the most controversial films of 2004...if not ever. The truth is, Michael Moore may be a liberal, but he didn't say that liberals have the solution to everything.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" opens today in theaters everywhere and its goal is to finally show that the President we have serving us in the White House is corrupt, unintelligent, and pretty much the worst public servant ever to grace the planet Earth. His interviewees confirm this and some of the war-injured say that and the mother whose son was killed over the current struggle in Iraq say that. For this, I applaud Moore and I call him a braver man than I. He hangs not just his private parts out there but his entire body.
Michael Moore's documentary makes intelligent connections between the Bush White House and Saudi oil interests which include the Bin Laden family. He claims that one of Cheney's companies made a profit off of 9/11 due to new war contracts. He shows us that the war in Iraq is both unneccessary and quite deadly mainly because Saddam Hussein has nothing to do with 9/11 and never had the tools that terrorists would love to get their hands on (the famed "WMD's" that have become a household name).
Of course, none of this will come as unfamiliar news since we have all heard the crazy things viewers have said about Moore and his ability to "stretch and distort" certain truths. Here, I've seen Moore do nothing other than what any other documentary filmmaker would do: persuade you to believe his viewpoint by shooting archival facts your way and showing you why you should care about it now. He has the right, as an American, to question his government. We exercise that right everytime we vote and we will do it again this November. The news did the entire time Bill Clinton was in office and had his tryst with Monica Lewinsky. Of course, the hypocritical who trash this film will never acknowledge that.
What Michael Moore does NOT do is exactly what Pro-Bush sheep say he and most liberals do: he does not portray the Democrats as the America's saving grace. In fact, he suggests that the Democrats are too passive to do anything about the overwhelming mess that is this country. He talks about this at length, showing us that when minorities stepped up to protest Bush's selection for the Presidency, not a single senator, Republican OR Democrat stood up to give a signature to the forms they held up. They also stood idly by as Bush passed law after law, eroding our rights.
Moore also does not use 9/11 to his advantage or to any other advantage. He wisely does not show what we have already witnessed on more than one occassion: the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. Instead, he lets us HEAR it with just a dark screen to keep us company. He points out that over 3,000 people, even a friend of his was killed in the attacks. He doesn't aid the enemy that attacked us and he does not dislike the military either. In fact, Moore follows the military on their exploits with curiosity and then questions why they continue to fight a war that doesn't need to be fought when the MILITARY begins to complain to the camera. Moore also meets a nice woman named Linda Lipscomb who works in the Unemployment Office in Flint, Michigan, the subject of Moore's very first movie. Her son has gone to war in Iraq and she supports him and the reason the troops fight all the way. She even confesses that she misunderstood the anti-war protesters, saying that she considered their protests as "a slap in the face" until she realized that they were protesting the reason Bush led us in there.
Later in the film, we discover that her son was killed in Karballah in a Blackhawk helicopter downed by enemy fire. She no longer supports the war or Bush and her and Moore take a march up to the White House which is almost cast as a big, powerful building that taunts its opponents. It's been fenced off completely (due to construction) so nobody can even approach the gates and that's when Linda's emotions begin to get the best of her as she sobs uncontrollably, remembering her son, doubling over in an almost painful way. This brought tears to the eyes of many an audience member, including me. Not because I don't like the war but because you realize that actual human beings are needlessly dying.
He points out that Bush rightly sent troops to into Afghanistan to "smoke 'em out" (repeated over and over by Bush in a cleverly-edited sequence) but that he sent only a mere 11,000 troops. This is incredibly alarming since, a) Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban are supposedly still alive and well in Afghanistan and b) just under 1,000,000 troops are in Iraq, fighting seemingly multiplying insurgent forces everyday.
Michael Moore's film takes you on an emotional journey that will force you to laugh, make you cry, and encourage you to get mad and do something about the sad state of affairs in this country. This, despite what others will no doubt say, is a very important film and one of immense patriotic passion and such power that you might find that you've made an impression of yourself in your theater seat by the movie's end.
**** out of ****
(Note: It's now June of 2005 and FAHRENHEIT 9/11 is on DVD. Much has been said about the film and many "news sources" (well, FOX NEWS, mostly) have gone to great lengths to destroy Michael Moore's credibility which, I am happy to report, remains intact. I am not backing down from my review of the film. The four stars I gave the movie is justly warranted.
As I reported before, many call Moore a liar. The National Review's Dave Kopel has written an article apparently showing the "deceits" in the film--59 of them, he claims--but most of what Kopel writes in the article can't even be classified as "deceits". This is mainly because he conveniently glosses over Moore's heavier claims AND doesn't really think about what Moore actually SAID in the film, rather he just prints what he THINKS more said.
Before you read Kopel's argument, it would be wise to take a look at Michael Moore's factual back-up since Kopel references it more than once and Moore's articles are pretty much correct. AFTER reading Kopel's argument, point your browser, visit Anton Sirius's The Daily Kos to find out how Kopel is more wrong than right...or you can download the article here since he doesn't have it all on one page.
Many Bush-supporters will tell me to stick to the movie reviews and don't get political...in the words of your HERO, Dick Cheney, "Go f**k yourself". I'm going to do what I want...you should be quite familiar with that stance since Dubya does it all the time.)