Posted on 7/26/08 01:28 PM
Director: Chris Carter
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Xzibit, and Billy Connolly
There is a strong sense of creativity and astonishment made for science fiction today In the same light as Heroes, (the late) Firefly, and even Lost, this spectrum would?ve never been seen if it wasn?t for a certain show of the mid -Nineties. The award winning, The X-Files. The X-Files was a new breed of suspenseful Sci-fi when it debuted back in 1993.
In between its nine season run, a movie based on the show was released in 1998. X-Files: Fight the Future was spine-tinglingly gorgeous. No one had to be a major Sci-fi nerd to enjoy the movie. A comprehension of the show was not even necessary. The film even pushed some edges with a massive explosion of a federal building, which closely resembled the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Fight the Future was a very enjoyable Sci-fi shocker and stood well by itself.
2008, it is now six years after the end of the series. Show creator, Chris Carter has put together the second film based off of his highly acclaimed show. In slight bewilderment after coming out of the theatre of this one. I asked myself, ?What the hell was the point of making this??
X-Files: I Want to Believe begins the same number of years it has been off the air from Fox. The film never explains much of the show?s concept, but does not give enough explanation of where it left off six years ago. There almost should have been a greedy sales/disclaimer before watching this movie. *Recap all of the information from this show by purchasing seasons 1-9 on DVD at your local Best Buy, for only $49.99* Carter states that he created this as a stand alone storyline to the show series. Unfortunately, I beg to differ.
Not wasting any time, the plot explodes with a police led hunt through a rural frozen West Virginian country side. Agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) and Agent Mosley Drummy (Xzibit) have hired the supposedly psychic, Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly). Missing town folks have the FBI searching for leads while using Crissman as the detector(this is slightly confusing find a way to make it one sentence). Looking for a better option than the scatter brain psychic, former agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are called back into the field. Mulder, who still believes in paranormal activity, spends his days in crazed-loner seclusion scrambling through newspapers. Scully, on the other hand, has gone back to her roots with medicine and is a doctor at a children?s hospital. The paranormal duo have teamed up again to locate what?s causing locals missing from the small towns of West Virginia. This venture will take all of their power to solve and it will lead them to a horrifically twisted conclusion.
I?m not going to try and pretend that I am a huge nerdy fan of the show. I watched quite a few of the episodes, and I really liked the first movie, though most of my time through the mid-nineties was spent playing Mega Man and watching light hearted Chris Farley comedies. Even with my lack of major knowledge of the series I can still pick out what I did and did not enjoy about this film.
I?m not too sure what exactly made this film unlikeable for me. Was it the fact that the director of Electra was not part of it? And that films blows. Could it have been the acting oddity of Billy Connolly and Xzibit? Maybe. I think what struck me the most was how boring the plot development was for the movie. After six years of being away from the series, is this really the best that Carter and co-writer Frank Spotnitz could create? Don?t get me wrong, I really think they can write, but this was such a weak moist towelette in comparison of the ?juicy BBQ sauce stain on my shirt? show. I also noticed the lack of big-budget-production compared to the first movie. Except for one scene towards the end of the film, this could have easily been done under an indie production team. I really can?t complain about this since I really hate seeing the Michael Bay bullshit in movies today.
A small thing that bugged me about the movie was the odd sight gags. Like having the show theme play when focusing on a photo of George W. Bush. True, I think Bush is possibly a weird alien from some drunken college frat-boy planet. Or behind some scheme for drunken frat aliens?
?D to the P, let's go, I got the munchies.?
The few things I thought worked in this second film were Duchovny and Anderson. Except for her way too small role in The Last King of Scotland, I have no idea why Anderson isn?t seen more in films. For a Sci-fi flick the two of them have a wonderful on-screen chemistry that work on the same level as Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. The moments of interaction between these two were the few that kept me compelled to the story.
Final point. This attempt by Chris Carter comes off as a deaf realization of a mundane movie development. Even worse than that, is how well this will be received with the true fans of the show. I can not recommend The X-Files: I Want To Believe as a must to watch for the summer. If any thing it will be blinded by the scorching fire of much bigger blockbusters.
Posted on 7/22/08 12:04 AM
[center]"Any man can have one really bad day and end up just like me."
Joker, The Killing Joke
"Gotham City? Maybe it's all I deserve, now. Maybe it's just my time in Hell."
Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman: Year One
Marge - There's a man here who says he can help you.
Homer - Is it Batman?
Marge - He's a scientist.
Homer - Batman's a scientist.
Marge - It's not Batman!
The Simpsons, Marge vs. the Monorail S4Ep12
Before I begin this review, let me say if you are like me and you have been thrilled about catching this movie since watching Batman Begins in 2005, I will not be like other major movie reviewers (e.g. Peter Travlers, Owen Gleiberman) who spilled waaaay too much. Let me be blunt. Don't read the rest of this review, just go see this movie now. Explaining too much about it might ruin the experience. Whether you need some justification about seeing it? some winner or wiener, 20 star rating, cockamamie percentage kind of confirmation then let me state this, "THIS MOVIE IS GREAT? get away from this review, get your ass to the movie plex, and watch "The Dark Knight!"
For the rest of you that are still reading this, you are one of two people. A. You have already watched this movie and now you are wanting to know my thoughts. Thank You. Or B. You are ignoring my previous statement and you are going to read ahead anyway. I still thank you, but state, "You are one crazy mutha' 'ucker"
So as some of you may know? and a lot of you do not, I worked at a movie theatre for over four years of my life. I have watched a lot of these films thanks to my very good friends in the management there.
It's Wednesday night and I walk into the my old work place, seeing some familiar faces and saying hi and shooting the breeze here and there. Ultimately, I'm holding my inner hysteria as I'm minutes away from seeing a film I have been dying to catch since last summer. My nerves are almost shot. My mind is wondering loosely in and out because of the three hours of Batman: the Animated Series that I was watching prior to arriving at the cinema.
[center]"Quick, pull yourself together, Michael!"
The trailers begin to roll. I get awestruck and start to drool a bit when the Watchmen trailer rolls. Then it hit me, like a five hundred ton whale made of lead and steal. This is it, The Dark Knight!
Picking up almost a scene right after Batman Begins finishes, The Dark Knight doesn't waste any time re-explaining. Which is great! For the two and a half hour run time I don't think I could sit twenty minuets longer while they give us a recap. I love Batman, but seriously, just watch the first fucking film! We are instantly introduced to the man with the ruby smile. And if you caught "I am Legend" at the IMAX this last winter, this opening scene isn't anything new. For everyone else we are quickly shown how awesomely sadistic Heath Ledger plays the Joker. In contrary to this character, he is not a silly jokester with pranks and gags. He is one sick mother! He makes Michael Haneke's Paul and Peter from Funny Games look like Seth and Evan from Superbad. The plot unfolds as if it were directly ripped out of a Grant Morrison or Jeph Loeb Batman comic. The Joker is at the bottom of the list in the crime world and he's looking to take his place as its rightful king in Gotham. Among the crime bosses and the hundreds of Arkham Asylum escapees the city is a vile cesspool. Only one man can clean up this scum and his name is Dent. Thought I was going to say Batman, right? Aaron Eckhart plays District Attorney Harvey Dent and he is showing that he has more leverage than a costume vigilante. In the same regard that Harvey Dent wants to take out crime, the Joker is wanting to take him out. In the reaches of his sick malicious brain the Joker is also seeking to reveal the dark knight's (Christian Bale) true identity, and eliminate Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). The Joker works a cruel system of bartering with the lives of Gotham. The caped crusader of Gotham, Batman, is the only one that can stop the Joker and his macabre lust for death and carnage.
The first thing that struck me right away about this movie was, "Boy, this is a really bleak movie!" That is absolutely wonderful! I hate gooey, feel-good, unrealistic trite crap in my action movies. An interesting difference is felt between this movie and Batman Begins. Where BB is a lot of back story on who Bruce Wayne is; TDK seems to focus more on others around Bruce Wayne. Christopher Nolan doesn't skip a beat in his direction on the film. Filming in the city of Chicago, Nolan gives life to Gotham with a sea of sky scrapers and dismal street alleys. Along with the writing between him and his brother, Jonathan Nolan , they both construct this absolutely dark movie very well. This is one of the few movie plots where I felt the hero is up against a lot and really doesn't have a 'Detective Comics 27'-chance in a room full of comic book nerds. In the same stature as the great serials of the 1940's there's a lot of moments where I was cursing the story, saying, "No, this can't be how this happens!" I was encaptured by every second of this movie. The scenes with Ledger were unbelievably terrifying. I couldn't even think what this film would be like without his horrifying interpretation of the Joker. Even though Nicholson's creation for the role in the Tim Burton's version is iconic; any kind of performance in that same fashion would have completely hindered the execution of this movie. I know Ledger used the comic books: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth and The Killing Joke as a character study for his role. I could easily sense both of these comics in his performance. Ledger in some senses, does steal the show. Though, he is very much reinforced by some other great performances. Christian Bale portrays the fantastic and charismatic Bruce Wayne. Supporting roles from Morgan Freemen as Lucius Fox and Michael Cain as Alfred were more crucial to the action than previously. Aaron Eckhart, The tall, dark, and handsome, Harvey Dent makes for some perfect dynamic tension to the story. A bit of fresh air in contrary to the lack of, from the previous movie, Maggie Gyllenhaal puts life into the role of Rachel Dawes. One of my favorite actors, Gary Oldman, is quite enjoyable as the Lieutenant Jim Gordon. Nolan, along with a magnificent cast make this movie absolutely remarkable.
More so than anything, The Dark Knight is phenomenal. I highly believe it should and WILL be held in the same leagues as The Empire Strikes Back and A Clockwork Orange. There is no doubt about it; this is one of the darkest and best Batman films to date!
Posted on 7/02/08 03:39 AM
Director: Andrew Stanton
Cast: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, and Sigourney Weaver
The earth is such a copious place of colors. Ever lush green trees, a rhapsody of blue seas, and the harsh, but wise red rocky mountains. What could make a world more vibrant, expressive, or emotional? Well, would you believe me if I said a small, rickety, trash compactor?
It is the year 2815 and the planet we call earth, is vastly covered with trash. The once bustling city is now littered with a capacious amount of advertisement from a monstrous conglomerate only known as BNL (Big and Large). There is not one single human living on the globe. Streets and buildings are ghostly vacant. The dark dust-rusty wind bellows through the ever dead scenery, taking with it scraps of paper, empty soda cups, and random debris. There is nothing but the nothing itself?
Oh, but wait, there is a small moving object, which is not a scrap of paper, a soda cup, or even a random piece of debris. To be more precise, this object seems to have life. It seems to be a? robot.
Disney/Pixar?s newest animated film, Wall*E tells us the story of a small garbage compactor robot of the same name which stands for, Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class. Wall*E (Ben Burtt) is an unusual robot. He is programmed to compact trash but more importantly he has developed an interest in the life that created all of the junk. Wall*E is a bit of a packrat; he collects various items from the heaps and stores them in his home. Anything you can think of: light bulbs, hub caps, Rubik's Cubes, a VHS copy of the musical, Hello Dolly.
Even after hundreds of years have past, Wall*E does not lose his lovable curiosity. He has actually developed an immense personality with his collection. On a regular trash picking day for Wall*E, something out of the unusual has caught his eye. A large spaceship from the space station, Axiom, has made a landing onto Earth?s surface. The ship leaves a small lustrous white device that has been activated and appears to be a superior robotic being.
This entity turns out to be robot called EVE (Elissa Knight) EVE comes from Axiom with a mission to discover if life on Earth is possible. EVE is essentially Annie to Wall*E?s Alvy. She is clean, sleek, elegant, and absolutely everything a robot like Wall*E would be smitten by. Unknown is EVE?s mission to Wall*E; he is only interested in finding out more about EVE.
And the romantic comedy pursues?
I don?t want to really over explain this film? it?s not because I?m lazy. It?s because I believe the film creates a visual message that you can only understand by watching it.
The film is simple, but absolutely remarkable in its delivery. Andrew Stanton, the film?s writer and director has created a mesmerizing and poignant movie. Disney/Pixar has begun to interest me more and more with their films. Last summer?s Ratatouille was downright enjoyable. It created some of the best looking visuals and a story that made me believe children?s cartoons do not have to be non-stop stupid humor. Wall*E?s first act is quite possibly some of the best writing I have seen. In the fashion of a beautiful Shakespearean sonnet, the lack of dialogue creates a wonderful strong foundation to build a movie on. Along with vibrant, colorful visuals, I felt you could connect with Stanton in a weird visual sixth sense. I was also blown away by the creatively detailed camera work. At points I thought I was watching a Kar Wai Wong film. The best thing about this film (along with its visuals), is the fact that it doesn?t over analyze every freaking step. It creates an environment for minds to think. True, there is a system of diverse messages throughout the film, but I honestly do not think this is any worse than vegetables telling me about Jesus.
With a film that has less dialogue than a Jim Jarmusch movie, one would think that there must be no point for a decent cast. Well, you are wrong! The film?s star, Wall*E is voiced by the man that has created some of the great sound designs to films like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Ben Burtt not only voices Wall*E?s delightful robotic speech, he also created a spectacular sound production for the film. There are also fantastic performances and voiceovers from comedic actors like Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, and John Ratzenberger. An interesting Sci-fi tie-in the movie?s villain, AUTO has a nod to both Kubrick?s 2001: A Space Odyssey and voiceover from Alien star, Sigourney Weaver.
The only downside (and I use this term lightly!) to Wall*E is the film?s third act. I can understand the way it comes together, that there must be some kind of resolution. It?s like playing a major scale and ending on the sixth; it just doesn?t feel right! I wouldn?t dispense the final hour as being miserable, maybe cliché. Though I honestly think it still ends remarkably well for a Disney film.
The film has this gravitation about it. You are either going to love it or loathe it. I hope for a lot of people they can see how engagingly descriptive this film is. Overall, I would highly recommend catching Wall*E. This is most likely to be a film that will grow to be an all time classic, I guarantee!
Posted on 7/02/08 03:33 AM
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Will Smith, Jason Bateman, and Charlize Theron
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound? I guess it all depends upon whether that tree is real or made of CGI. If Hollywood makes a film with car crashes, explosions, and an unexplainable, explainable plot does it make money? You better believe it, SUV-driving-64 oz.-DietCoke-guzzling-red-blooded American! We the people are going to watch the fuck out of it and when we are done we are going to text all of our bros, dudes, and fellow DMB tools to watch it. Hancock is very much the exact film that is self-evident to the previous statement.
Will Smith plays a self-absorbed and destructively drunken superhero in his new film, Hancock. Right out of the cage, we see him wake from a drunken stooper on a bench in Los Angeles. He springs to action to stop a highway pursuit. In the midst of bringing the criminals to justice, Hancock leaves in his wake, a ridiculous scene of city destruction. He is a man that gets the job done. Unfortunately, he is also the same man who gives something the folks of Los Angeles to lament about. Along the way, we are introduced to Ray (Jason Bateman), who seems to be just as misunderstood as Hancock. Ray is a failing public relations executive. On his way home from a miserable PR pitch, he is seconds from being mowed down by a freight train when Hancock intervenes. Thus, another mindless wreck is created. Unlike the people around the wreckage, Ray is grateful that Hancock derailed the train. Feeling somewhat indebted to him, Ray invites Hancock to his house for dinner. Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron) and son, Aaron are shocked to hear that he was saved by Hancock. After the dinner, Ray seeks to help Hancock out with a scheme to also help his PR executive job. In an attempt to redesign Hancock's public image, he is sent to a corrections facility. While in containment, Michael Bluth? I mean Ray visits him and attempts to create a less assholey appearance for his superpower persona. The film moves along when Hancock is asked to stop a bank heist that leads further into the destructive climax.
Don't speculate right away what I'm going to say. This film actually had some moments of stature. Sitting more than an hour into the film. Cringing at all of the video game-esque CGI. For a brief period, I thought the film was going to turn for the better. There was a scene where Hancock was explaining about himself at a dinner party. It felt that the movie was going to change and be a little bit more enjoyable? it didn't, but still it got my hopes up for about five minutes.
I've seen it in Brad Bird's The Incredibles and also in M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable. I have read it in Mark Millar's Marvel Civil War and also Alan Moore's Watchmen. Hancock, which was screen written in 1996 by Vincent Ngo and was originally called Tonight, He Comes. Vince Gilligan and John August's rewrites do not bare additional traits of originality? but, what does these days. The film's concept is still enjoyable. It may be because I love comic books just as much as movies? though a film about a faux superhero could and should be handled with better care than by the man that gave us Friday Night Lights. Peter Berg isn't someone I loathe in the filmmaking community. I felt his camera work and direction in this film created more annoyance than anything.
On top of the layout of the film, I didn't mind the cast as much as I thought I would. I'm being serious about this. I thought Will Smith portrayed a super hero douche bag pretty well. I got more laughs out of Jason Bateman's character than a majority of the actual slapstick laughs. There felt to be a channel of his Arrested Development days; and it's not just because he's playing a business man figure. Creating more complexity, Charlize Theron comes to life in the film's final act to a dull climax.
By and by, I wouldn't strongly recommend Hancock. I believe it will get lost among the hundreds of other "real" superhero films this summer. Though, it may gather steam because of its near-fourth of July release. Just do yourself a favor, and wait for Dark Knight and Hellboy 2, which you'll appreciate more. [size=5][size=4][/size]
Posted on 6/26/08 11:53 PM
The Love Guru
Director: Marco Schnabel
Cast: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Verne Troyer, and Justin Timberlake
[left]A little conversation i had on my way to my seat for The love Guru...
[right]Me: ... (walking to my seat)
[center]Snot Nose Kid: Hey, it's the love guru!
[right]Me: Hahaha... cute, kid...
[center]Snot Nose Kid: Wow! Love Guru, you're pretty fat.
If I had to watch a documentary on fecal material in random fast food restaurants, that would not be nearly as bad as having to sit though The Love Guru, again. Mike Myers' new comedy has it all: unfunny male genitalia jokes, unfunny midgets, unfunny stereotype jokes, and best of all, unfunny Mike Myers jokes.
Myers is attempting to recycle an old lingo that hasn't been seen since 2002. He is no longer the Sixties-groovy-hairy British agent. In his newest concoction, he plays the Guru Pitka. An absurd stereotype of the new age Eastern self-help relationship spiritualist. Pitka hopes to nestle a way into the hearts of the book-buying public of North America and to be the next Deepak Chopra. Fate strums its way through this out of tune sitar of a plot as Pitka gets his chance to make it. He has been asked by Toronto Maple Leafs owner, Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) to help their star player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco). Darren has just been kicked to the curb by his girl, Prudence (Meagan Good). She is now in the arms of L.A. Kings star Jacques "Le Coq" Grande (Justin Timberlake); think of any joke you can about his nick name, the movie seemed to hit on all of them. Darren has lost his passion to play the game. It is now up to the Guru Pitka and his overly redundant acronym step plan to get Darren out of his funk and in fighting shape before the Stanley Cup.
Apparently, Mike Myersis still trapped in the early Nineties on a Saturday night at about 11:30 P.M. That is how I felt about this film, just one big long SNL skit. What could have been an amusing five minute comedy skit turns into a 90 minute bore fest. Writers, Graham Gordy and Myers seemed to have hit on every joke you would see in a Mike Myers comedy. In an attempt to give the film its comedic feel, the movie is littered with an endless supply of redundant jokes. The silly name gags were (and still are) funny in Bugs Bunny cartoons. Why does it seem so outlandishly unfunny in a film like this? Maybe it's because I feel that names like Harenmahkeester, Tugginmypudha, Satchabigknoba are not very funny when used in the context of stereotypes. Not to mention the hundreds of male genitalia jokes that seem to only make a roomful (theater full) of immature thirteen year-olds cry in laughter. A numerous amount of site gags come off uncomfortably awkward. I recall a scene with Myers' character pretending to be a wolverine (or the voice of one) and he dials a fake cell phone and he continues this for what seems like five minutes? and I'm pretty much lost on why this is funny. First time film director, Marco Schnabel, has a rough time trying to locate a coherent flow; a mediocre first attempt by Schnabel. Myers has been known for his ability to captivate audiences with large song and dance spectacles. Except for a small Bollywood parody the film just seems to fall somewhat flat in this area. The film's cast is a bit of an oddity but still seems familiar to a movie like this. Jessica Alba plays pretty much the same kind of character in every film and this one isn't any different. The gob full of comedians (and wannabe comedians) add more to the same trite sour taste to the film. Justin Timberlake is annoying as hell with his blotched accent. He seems to be pulling off the same character he portrayed from his SNL song skit,"Dick-in-a-Box." Ben Kingsly makes a brief appearance as the unusual, yet somewhat enjoyable, Guru Tugginmypudha. Fortunately, there were a few spots of genuine humor. One instance of this humor comes from the onslaught of jokes between Jim Gaffigan and Stephen Colbert, who depict the roles of two sports announcers.
All in all, I really didn't care for the film. Myers states he was spiritually lead to do this film after the death of his father and good friend, George Harrison. Unfortunately, I find this to be one of his worst films. The Love Guru makes The Cat in the Hat look like a Shakespearean play.
Posted on 6/26/08 11:51 PM
Director: Peter Segal
Cast: Steve Carell, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp, and Anne Hathaway
From the summers (or years) past there is a good handful of films where you can tell that Hollywood is just scraping at the bottom of the 'unoriginal scripts idea' bin (I know it exists, it's the only place where they could have found Bewitched or The Dukes of Hazard). Excluding Horton Hears a Who, Speed Racer, and Sex and the City this year hasn't been that bad for the bin. I could count the twenty-some comic book films that are out this year, but I actually have been looking forward to a lot of those!
In 1965, Mel Brooks (who was still a bit unknown at this time) and Buck Henry, created a hilarious sitcom, that satirized James Bond and other secret agent films/shows. Get Smart was one of the best comedies of the Sixties. The show is still enjoyable to this day; and was a regular show for me to watch on Nick at Nite (until they took it off). It's been thirty-eight years since the end of the original sitcom and since we last saw that iconic character, Maxwell Smart, played by the lovable Don Adams. It is now 2008 and we are reintroduced to Agent 86.
The film follows the determined accountant, Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) from the U.S. spy agency, [/size]CONTROL. He has the greatest desire to become CONTROL's next field agent. An attack by the reprobated crime coalition, KAOS, hits CONTROL's headquarters and compromises the identities of most of their top field agents. The Chief (Alan Arkin), has no other choice but to promote Max to the field, as Agent 86. Max's life long dream is coming to reality. Instead of being paired up with his idol and close mentor, Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson), Max is partnered with the highly experienced and stylishly beautiful, Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). Between her lethal and adept fighting skills and Max's high-tech spy gadgets they must prevent KAOS's secret doomsday plan from being implemented.
As being a semi-moderate fan of the original show, I was somewhat reluctant to catch this remake/re-envisioning of Mel Brooks iconic creation. I won't pussyfoot around this, I wasn't overly impressed with the film! Steve Carell was enjoyable and made a great attempt at making the character his own and not just ripping off of Don Adams. I also enjoyed the humorous and small stand-in by Bill Murray as Agent 13 who (in the original show) would always be the agent covertly hiding in odd places (e.g. mailboxes, washing machines, trees). Nonetheless I really didn't care for much of the rest of the film. Bursting out with laughter quite a bit during any of the "The Rock's" more than piss-poor performance.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I mean Dwayne Johnson?" If he is trying to be taken seriously as an actor, why doesn't he invest some of his time with an acting coach? Assuming said acting coach isn't associated with the WWF/WWE/WTF?/etc.
I had a problem with Anne Hathaway as agent 99. I know Barbara Feldon was considered one of the more suave female icons of the Sixties. On Get Smart she would showcase some of the most chic wear. With Hathaway, I felt she was stealing that idea from Feldon, and then gagging me with an Apple iPhone. Every time she was on, she would have something by Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, or Hindmarch. I understand that it may be the norm for today's fashion, but there are still techniques on how to make it look good. I also found her to be a poorly-developed character throughout the film. One moment she is a quick-witted, vivacious, dominating agent, while inversely being a humble girl with real life problems. I know there are better ways of developing an interest with her character rather than force feeding it to us.
The film's director comes to us from a long line of other "great" comedies such as The Longest Yard (2005), 50 First Dates, and Anger Management. Peter Segal along with Failure to Launch writers, Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember seem to have created their own film. The film's structure, or lack thereof, is not in the same fashion as the sitcom, nor is it an enjoyable film. It's a hybrid of slap-stick comedy, flimsy low-key action, and camera visuals that look as if they were created by some hot shot 'Turk 182' noob film student. The direction nonetheless is very lacking, no "Um pa pa!" for your buck! There are several things I can nit-pick, and I think I'm only going to speak of the one that really rubbed me the wrong way. The opening of the original Get Smart had a classic theme; Max walks down a long corridor of large, protective, metal doors and then drops down to CONTROL HQ via phone booth. I always thought that was a simple, yet intriguing introduction. Ironically, the doors look as if they were made of Styrofoam and sheet metal which isn't acceptable in the 21st Century. It's true that everything in Hollywood is made of CGI and silicone? you heard me right! I have no idea why the need to make the metal doors look as phony as a Michael Bay created Transformer.
Overall, I cannot recommend the film. I enjoyed Mel Brooks and his style and I am not going to accept swallowing a spoonful of Hollywood's magical diarrhea and say, "Boy, I really liked that Get Smart movie!" In short, I believe Get Smart was best left as a Sixties sitcom and not another regurgitated TV show-turned-big-budget-film.
Posted on 6/15/08 02:57 AM
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo
Thriller films are such a fascinating and yet formidable genre of movies. It is also a genre that can easily be screwed up with the slightest of touch. Over analyzing, I believe is one of the key reasons why thriller/horror films may fail in the final product. Directors like Hitchcock, Wise, and Kubrick were fantastic at what they did, because they went after the one thing that scared the crap out of most everyone, your sense of reasoning. M. Night Shyamalan has used this same technique to an extent (more so in films like Sixth Sense, Signs, and the Village). In his most recent film, The Happening, he has finally dropped the twist ending (which I thought was just a fluke that he didn't use it in Lady in the Water), but has nearly missed the mark on creating a decent thriller film.
The film doesn't waste any time explaining; there is something really weird going on and human beings are ending their lives without irresoluteness. The Mid-Atlantic states are experiencing this bizarre incident where the popular thought of terrorism is quickly adapted as the reason. We move to our protagonist, a Philadelphia high school science teacher named Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) who explains a foreshadowing quote by Einstein to his class; the quote states that if bees are to die off, man will follow within a few years. At the time of day Elliot and his entire class are unaware of the events that first hit New York City. The news spreads quickly and there is a mandatory city evacuation. Elliot and his wife, Alma (Zooey Deschanel) flee with Elliot's friend from his job, the math teacher, Julian (John Leguizamo) and his eight-year-old daughter, Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez). They depart by way of train. They make it a few hours out of the city until the train stops at a remote station in western Pennsylvania. The conductor comes out to announce that the train services have discontinued because they have lost contact with the station agent. The people on the train set out on foot for a local diner. While in the diner the crowd finds out how dire the current situation is and hightail it out of there. The four individuals are in desperation like everyone else to quickly leave the area. Julian finds it more important to locate his wife who was supposed to meet them at the train station. He takes off with another group and leaves his daughter in the care of Elliot and Alma. Julian heads off to where he heard his wife was last located and the other three vacate the area with some locals. Moving along, the story develops when Elliot, Alma, Jess, and the two locals come to a fork in the road where they meet other individuals on the opposite ends of the forked roads. All of them state that there is nothing but dead bodies on the roads behind them. Bewilder in disbelief, Elliot attempts to figure out what is causing this grotesque invisible apocalyptic event to mankind. The film continues on with several of the same bizarre deaths and an ending that is preach-ier than a room full of evangelical leaders.
Besides Unbreakable I have never been a huge fan of M. Night's work. That's not saying he's not a decent director, I personally just don't care for his work. It took him four films (not including the comedy with Rosie O'Donnell, Wide and I unfortunately have not seen his first film, AwakePraying with Anger) to find out that maybe the twist ending isn't as great to use every single time. His sophomore attempt to create a non-twist film has unfortunately missed the target of possibly being an estimable film. I must say I did enjoy this movie a whole lot more than Lady in the Water (if that is saying anything). A few things that bugged me about this film was the overly cookie cutter-ish dialogue, it almost felt like the film would have done better if it was a campy sci-fi flick for the 50's (MST3K anyone?). On top of the mediocre dialogue we have Mark Wahlberg who really seems out of place in this film. He plays the tough angry guy who likes to yell his emotions in films, not a hip science teacher with a loving husband attitude. Zooey Deschanel, who is someone I absolutely love seeing in film. She is not amazing in this film, but I wouldn't blame her acting on her bland character, though another finger is pointing at the dialogue for this. Strangely enough, I actually enjoyed John Leguizamo in this film. As small as his part was in this film I found him more believable as a teacher and a family man than Wahlberg. For the most part I thought this idea of something unknown but very common place killing off people was pretty interesting. I also didn't mind the idea of the preachey undertone of the film, even though I don't think it's gonna make anyone go clean up a local park or even pick up that soda can you just tossed on the ground? I saw you! Don't think I didn't notice it, you bastard! I'm more perplexed to see Shyamalan's next film since this seems to be a step up in the right direction; maybe by his third or forth 'non-twist' film he will have actually created a decent film close to the likes of Coen or Scorsese (*disgruntled look from the reader*). Ok, ok? [Ridley] Scott or Emmerich (*more satisfied look from the reader*).
To sum, I personally can't recommend this film. It's overhyped, giant, red letter, R rating was too much of a sell out for M. Night. Lots of people will see this just for that and a lot more will see it just because they like M. Night Shyamalan. Don't get fooled into watching it; it's just another claudicant thriller.
Posted on 6/15/08 02:47 AM
The Incredible Hulk
Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt
What is the difference between The Hulk and The Incredible Hulk? Nothing. They?re the same thing, silly! What is the difference between The Hulk movie and The Incredible Hulk movie? The same amount of difference between night and day! Ok, I may be jumping the gun here, but follow me on this one?
If you are not familiar with the background on The Incredible Hulk, let me fill you in. The Hulk was created by comic book legends, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962 and first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1. We meet our tragic hero, Dr. Robert Bruce Banner who is an accredited physicist who was caught in a test blast for a gamma bomb that he created. From the unfortunate accident, Banner was transformed into the Hulk, a giant ?gray? mad-raving monster (yes, the original hulk was gray, but was altered in the following issue to green). The character as both Banner and the Hulk are in constant pursuit by local authorities and national military forces as per the results of massive destruction throughout towns and cities caused by the Hulk.
Even though the Hulk sometimes does not relate to individuals in the same fashion as Spider-man, the X-men, or the Fantastic Four, he is a highly esteemed character in the Marvel comic book Universe. If you may be thinking to yourself, ?Hey I just saw this movie about five years ago.? You are correct, to an extent. But, very, Very, VERY misinformed. In 2003, we were introduced to a summer blockbuster, known as The Hulk, directed by Ang Lee. This film was greeted with the high anticipation that it was going to be phenomenal. Unfortunately, after mixed reviews and dismal ticket sales the film was a mighty failure at the box office. We come to present day, June 13, 2008, and the movie release of The Incredible Hulk. Do not get confused about the title; this film is NOT a sequel, a prequel, or a remake of the first attempt. Think of it as if Hollywood has taken the proverbial pencil eraser and has wiped our minds clean of the 2003 film (a la ?Eternal Sunshine??); none the less it?s called a reboot.
The film begins to explain in a series of flashbacks right from the opening credits. We learn that the scientist, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) was altered from an experiment conducted by General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross (William Hurt) of the U.S. Army. After the incident with the experiment that caused several casualties, including Banner?s love interest, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler); Bruce goes into seclusion over the next following years. We find Bruce living deep in the heart of Brazil where he attempts to locate a possible antidote for his heavy ailment. While living in a crowded Brazilian city, Bruce is persisted by power hungry warmongers who only seek answers to obtain Bruce?s Hulk form for their benefit. Nearly escaping the clutches of General Ross in South America, Bruce returns to civilization in the U.S. While still seeking a cure, Bruce is now being obstinately pursued by a new frighteningly hulk-sized foe named, The Abomination (Tim Roth). An enormous and epic ?bull in a China shop? fight persists between the two behemoth sized giants in middle of Manhattan. To save NYC from total annihilation, Bruce has to gather all of the strength he can to be able to turn his unlikely hero form into an eponymous defender.
Let me start off by saying that I wasn?t overly impressed with the attempt of the 2003 Hulk film. Then to add insult to injury, I?m also not a huge fan of the Hulk comic books, so you might be thinking, ?What are you going to say about this film?? In all honesty I actually enjoyed myself watching this film. I wouldn?t go as far as saying it was as great as the Iron Man film that came out earlier this summer, but was still a well put together. The script, written by Zak Penn, snapped right into play; they didn?t waste half of the film explaining the origins; the five minutes of the opening credits with the elaborated detail is prefect enough for a recap. I really liked the casting for this film; I thought Edward Norton was excellent as Bruce Banner, always very cautious and reluctant of his ailing condition. William Hurt is arrogantly diabolical as Thunderbolt and I enjoyed Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, even though I think she could have been developed a little bit more. Tim Roth?s character worked well as the villain throughout the movie, but I wish I could have had a little bit more explanation on his human character, Emil Blonsky, besides that he is just a soldier that is past-his-prime and he?s looking to take down Hulk.
There?s no way around this concept of the film, but a movie about the Hulk has to include a large amount of CG. How the imagery is used is very crucial. Director Louis Leterrier and his team for art and visual effects couldn?t have done this better. I was really impressed with the use of CGI throughout this film (and usually I can?t stand a lot of CG). Beautiful uses of shade and shadow on Hulk with a delightful use of texture to his face and form. They didn?t just make him this radiating green mammoth. I liked the creative drop-ins and side jokes they reference throughout the film: the sad piano music from the 70?s TV show, Lou Ferrigno as the Security Guard and the voice of Hulk, also poking fun at purple pants. Marvel studios are doing an outstanding job in creating a Marvel comic book movie universe with their focus aimed for the 2011 Avengers film. I can honestly recommend catching this film, it?s fun, it has a great development, and best of all you will not feel so cheated after coming out of this film compared to its 2003 step-brother.
Posted on 6/10/08 02:24 PM
Kung Fu Panda
Cast: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, and David Cross
Director: Mark Osborne and John Stevenson
I have never been a big fan of children's films (why should I? I'm not the targeted audience), especially when they seem to write the same kind of slap-stick feel good routine. Though there are a few that have done a decent job to change my mind: Ratatouille, Happy Feet, The Incredibles. Like it or not, the use of CGI animation has become the everyday norm for children's cartoon films? I think the last children's cartoon I remember seeing in theaters in the original 2-D format was the Sponge Bob movie (oh boy, I can't believe I admitted that). With that said, you are most likely thinking I'm going to say I hated this film. To be frank, I actually enjoyed myself while watching Kung Fu Panda.
The film has a pretty simple outline, we meet our unlikely hero, Po the Panda (Jack Black) who is a prosaic waiter who works for his father's noodle shop. Po has a recondite passion for the art of kung fu but his portly and lethargic structure holds him back from ever living his dream. It is not until one day that an announcement has been made to the village that Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) will be choosing the Dragon Warrior at a master ceremony. Subsequently we learn that Oogway is choosing this warrior because of an on going premonition he is having about the evil snow leopard, Tai Lung, (Ian McShane) who will escape from the heavily armed prison, Chorh-Gom. The ceremony gets underway, where everyone believes that one of the furious five: Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), Crane (David Cross), and Mantis (Seth Rogen) will be chosen to be the Dragon Warrior. In desperation to catch the ceremony Po tries everything to get inside the temple walls to watch the event. After several foolish attempts to make it inside, he finally makes it over the wall, landing in the middle of the grounds right after Oogway has made his choice. In disillusion of his crash landing, Po and everyone else in the temple are shocked to see that Oogway has picked Po as the Dragon Warrior. Even after much protest from kung fu teacher, Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Oogway stands by his decision. Po is now the unlikely prophet, Dragon Warrior who will bring peace to the village. Now he just needs to learn how to fight like a kung fu master and get over that rumbling hunger pain in his stomach.
I really wasn't too sure what to expect from this film except for the usual childish humor that is adult enough for the parents to still enjoy. I actually was surprised that it wasn't as convoluted with that kind of humor. It still had its moments of the common slap stick humor but nothing really annoying like excerpts of Smash Mouth tunes or a brigade of lemurs singing "I like to move it" by Reel 2 Real. Fabulous job by directors, Mark Osborne and John Stevenson who created not another Shrek replica but a decent family film that stands up by its own style. The story was simple enough but not so simple that I found myself utterly bored. There were a few things I wish they would have expanded on, like more development on the furious five, or Master Oogway, or the fact that Po's father is a crane (?). But I guess I can't really be picky about a children's cartoon. I was shocked by the amount of fine looking CGI animation from Dreamworks. Most of the time I really don't care for their format of animation as much as I do for Pixar. The execution of style and fantastic choreographed motion through out all of the fight scenes was very enjoyable to watch. Overall, I really don't think this film is suited for everyone, but anyone can enjoy it, if they want.
Posted on 6/10/08 02:20 AM
You Don't Mess With the Zohan
Cast: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, and Emmanuelle Chriqui
Director: Dennis Dugan
Before I begin my review on this film let me tell you about a man I once knew. About six years ago there was this man named Barry who ran his own business in the back of a storage lot. Barry was on the verge of a breakdown until he met a beautiful and mysterious woman by the name of Lena. Obviously, if you recognized my reference I never literally knew this man. But I once felt a personal connection with that actor's character, Barry, so much that I thought I would never see another awful over the top performance by that actor. Of the three or four Adam Sandler films I have enjoyed there is a ratio of 4:1 films that I absolutely cannot stand by this actor. Sadly enough his recent film, You Don't Mess With the Zohan is not part of those three or four films I really like.
The film opens to an Israeli beach where we see a very hairy Israeli man sporting a Mariah Carey tank top strutting down the sandy coast. This man is apparently quite popular, all the bikini clad woman lust after him and all of men want to be him. After several scenes of the man playing hacky sack, an absurd (and kind of unnecessarily) nude fish grilling, and some kind of fetish with hummus we find out the man is an Israeli commando, named Zohan Dvir (Adam Sandler). Zohan is abruptly brought back from his vacation, he is haggled into a mission to go after the recently escaped Palestinian terrorist, the Phantom (John Turturro). The night before going after the Phantom, Zohan expresses his desires of hair styling to his parents. They find it amusing and resume eating their dinner (which is full of more hummus jokes). The mission goes as planned until there is a showdown between the two men. The Phantom tosses a grenade at Zohan, where after the explosion Phantom believes he has killed Zohan. We find out that Zohan faked his death just to run away from the Israeli military and flee to America where he can attempt his biggest desire; to cut and style hair for Paul Mitchell. Making it to New York City Zohan begins a new life under the alias of an Australian man named, Scrappy Coco. In an attempt to locate a hair styling job, Zohan is laughed at and humiliated; every salon rejects him as a serious hair stylist. On a street section of New York City that houses both Israeli and Palestinian businesses, Zohan strikes a job with a Palestinian hair salon as a floor sweeper. Working his way up the stylist food chain and warming up to cold but very attractive Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), Zohan finally gets his first customer. He turns out to be decent at what he does along with being able to leave the customer fully satisfied. The film persists in the same fashion of low brawl humor and unamusing racial stereotype gags.
I'm quite perplexed by the idea of anyone really calling this film amusing. I don't remember laughing once throughout this film? is there something wrong with me? Probably! But the idea of laughing at racial stereotypes, sexual orientation, and shtick gags just seems outdated and lame. Even though this film was written by a great comic trio of Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel, and Judd Apatow the film still seemed to harbor on the same style as Sandler's last comedy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (and that was written by a different crew). We are going to spend the first half of the movie laughing at a topical situation (i.e. gay marriage, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Xenophobic Americans) and then we are gonna shove a message down your pie hole telling you it is not ok to laugh at these kind of things. So, which is it? I know you have to make a film with a developing plot line, but come on! I think this film could be done much better and with a quarter of the over-the-top acting. I enjoy watching films that are smart, but don't get me wrong I enjoy the occasional "non-thinking" film too (Judd Apatow's production films are some of the best). Unfortunately, I am very tired of this comedy style by Sandler? but, hell, someone's got to keep Rob Schneider employed, right? Bottom line if you absolutely loved films like Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, and Big Daddy you will most likely think this is the best comedy this year since Meet the Spartans. If anyone is like me and enjoys hummus, do not watch this film? because by the end of it you will feel cheated and slightly turned off to eating hummus ever again.