BusStopBoxer's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
½

It's pretty epic, but totally forgot to be fun.

Hanna
Hanna(2011)

This is on my "must see" list for 2011.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
½

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a veritable zeitgeist of pop-cultures mashing up against each other to deliver a romance unlike anything we'll likely see for the next decade.

A great comic book is made up of a delicate blend of artwork and storyline that leaps off the page. With comic books adapted for the screen already having made said leap, they must do more than simply use the source material as a storyboard - a vibe must be captured, some kind of sync between the creator and the director must be demonstrated, an evocation of nostalgia for the reader of the comic must be stirred and ideally, those not familiar with the material will be swept away onto the bandwagon. Edgar Wright manages to hit all of the above-mentioned notes to create a Torontonian experience unlike any other, blending elements of comic books, video games, indie music, and most importantly, movies.

Chances are, you've met a guy kind of like Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera); a likeable slacker who is lucky and clumsy with the ladies, and plays bass in a mediocre indie band. Scott is taking some time off from serious relationships by spending his time with a high school girl 6 years his junior when he meets the girl of his dreams, literally. Ramona Flowers (the completely unrecognizable Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a roller blading courier for Amazon.ca, recently transplanted from the United States, has been taking a subspace shortcut through Scott's subconscious. When he finally meets her face to face, he is instantly smitten, and Ramona soon warms to his less awkward than usual Michael Cera-esque charms. There's only one problem, Ramona's got some skeletons in her closet. Skeletons covered in muscles, flesh and clothing with crouching tiger kung fu skills in the form of Ramona's ex-boyfriends (and girlfriend, rrrrraow!). Turns out that if Scott wants to be with Ramona, he'll have to defeat the League of Evil Exes...and maybe even clean up some of his own messes while he's at it. Fortunately, Scott is the number one rated fighter in all of Ontario, so he can handle them. (It might not say so in the movie, but trust me, it's in the books.) (Besides, the fights are just allegorical for the personal issues Scott and Ramona have to lay to rest before they can get together, so why does it matter whether this 98 pound weakling can nail a 64 hit mid-air combo?)

The first thing you'll notice about this movie is the pre-credit Universal logo, rendered in glorious 8-bit like a Donkey King table top at your favourite seedy tavern. And with that, the tone is set for the next two hours. Just about everything hat unfolds on screen, from the bathroom breaks to the high scores in the aftermath of each skirmish is coloured with the same playful Nintendo brush. Edgar Wright, the mad scientist behind such genre benders/blenders as Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead has proven himself to be positively soaked in the language of cinema. And I don't mean the techniques of Orson Welles or Jean-Luc Godard, I mean every pop-culture gem of the last 20 or even 30 years. He understands exactly how we glean information off the silver screen and he's devised his own cinematic shorthand to deliver that information faster and funnier than anyone else. It's the kind of style that comes in handy adapting a book that tends to express itself in images in feelings more than thoughts and words.

What is at the heart of its triumph, besides its innate sense of fun, is the tension/conflict/torsion between Toronto's reality in which it is so cozily nested with locations like Lee's Palace, Casa Loma and Pizza Pizza, and the fighting flights of fancy as Scott engages in fisticuffs that are one half Street Fighter 2 and one half Dance Dance Revolution. The mundane and the magical collide with each other to a deftly handled soundtrack as only a music lover like Wright could deliver.

With all of this bombast going on, it's easy to forget that this really is a love story. And that is perhaps where I find this movie's only shortcoming. Even if it's Wright's scrambled take on the "boy meets girl" story, there needed to be a tender heart to this take, and that is what Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is lacking. Everything is just too neon & plastic - and perhaps that's the point. Perhaps Wright was trying to make a statement of the transitory nature of young modern love... or perhaps Wright's directed a little too much bromance and not enough romance.

Question: Who was your favourite of Ramona's evil exes?

Jackass 3
Jackass 3(2010)

The boys are showing their age, but there were parts that had me laughing until my belly ached.

The Proposal
The Proposal(2009)

I have come to believe that the word derivative has become interchangable with the word entertaining. With the direction that romantic comedies are going in, watching a new one is kind of like watching a whole bunch of old ones. I think I laughed out loud a couple of times, but that could have been because it reminded me of Green Card or something.

Respect goes out to Ryan Reynolds who was really the one carrying this entire film without really trying. Betty White's presence only served to distract from the work he had to keep doing to keep things funny.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I am still struggling to think of a worse movie I've seen in my entire life. I now know I could make a better movie than Michael Bay.

Young Sherlock Holmes
½

It's very exciting to see where movies come from - and it's very clear that the Harry Potter movies have a much to Young Sherlock Holmes for. A very impressive display of visual effects and certainly something to share with your young son when he's old enough.

Blood - The Last Vampire

My only real complaint was that it was over far too soon.

Watchmen
Watchmen(2009)
½

It‚??s hard to say when the superhero genre reached perfection, but I think I can safely argue that it was not with Superman: The Movie. At this moment in time I think I‚??m torn between‚?¶ Actually, as I start to name them I suddenly think of another ream of them come to mind. While I think over exactly what the other one is I‚??ll just come out and say that one of them is Watchmen. Watchmen actually occupies more genres than Superheroes, but I‚??m already scattered enough right now.
Watchmen is a comic book series from the mid-80s that depicts a group of completely originl superheroes (who for the most part have no superpowrs) that are loosely representative of some of the more popular superheroes that we all know and love. They live in an alternate 1986 universe where Nixon has managed to remain President and the world stands at the brink of nuclear annihilation. Superheroes, who were once an actual part of everyday life, have been outlawed and have either gone to work for the government or settled into civilian life. The story begins, after a deftly handled credit sequence that explains how the world got to be the way it is, with a murder of a husky old man that turns out to be a serious scoundrel of a superhero. The murder and subsequent investigation sets off a series of events that explore what exactly a superhero is behind the sterile veneer of simple do-gooding.

Watchmen was written by world-reknowned curmudgeon Alan Moore, responsible for such other stories as From Hell, V for Vendetta, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He might actually be better known for being the guy who refused to be associated with any of the film adaptations of his comics, and all of the money they made too. Zack Snyder takes on the role of director after having shown people what comic book adaptations are all about with 300. If Snyder deserves credit for anything about Watchmen it‚??s for creating a nearly to the letter adaptation of Moore‚??s graphic novel - because above everything else the strength of this picture lies in it‚??s story.
Zack Snyder has a penchant for staging operatic acts of violence travelling through space. It worked wonders in 300 and Watchmen‚??s prison break scene was even more effective - I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as if I were watching the young boy reunited with the loyal dog after an entire movie‚??s worth of searching. It is in these fantastic acts of violence that Snyder is able to properly elaborate from the static pages of the source material - and this is why, besides making the choice to say as faithful to the comic as possible, we see that Snyder was a great choice for directing this film.
While many of the ideas presented in this movie have been around for so long now that it‚??s hard to see them as innovative, I was impressed to watch how the idealism of a ‚??traditional‚?? superhero Nite Owl II (an interesting hybrid of Batman and Superman) is rendered obsolete by the pragmatic machinations of his colleagues. It doesn‚??t seem like such a big deal now, but when it was written - it was a real herald of the rise of the anti-hero, not only in comics, but all over pop-culture (that includes wrestling).
In reference to what I was saying earlier about not being sure which would be a worthy contemporary of Watchmen - I‚??m thinking that it would have to adequately deal with the subject of what exactly motivates a hero to do the things that they do. Watchmen is loaded with colourful backgrounds of all kinds, coupled with the simple assumption that given the opportunity and ability, everyone would throw on a mask and punch bad guys in the face. Batman Begins boasts a classic and believable origin story, but of ends there - that‚??s Bruce‚??s personality, simple as that. The Dark Knight, while a marvel of Superhero cinematics, doesn‚??t develop Bruce‚??s character any further than it was. I had hoped that while Batman Begins deals with his relationship with his father, Tje Dark Knight might explore his relationship with his mother (who shares a name with Clark Kent‚??s mom, by the way).
So if The Dark Knight isn‚??t it, it‚??s gotta be Iron Man. Iron Man deals with a character with all kinds of conflicting motivations combining to create a sympathetic anti-hero whose motivations continue to change as circumstances change unlike Batman whose driven by a single minded psychosis. What you get in Watchmen is an entire pantheon of do-gooders that can cast a light on a whole spectrum of reasons for people to put on a mask. It‚??s a celebration of the culture for both the readers and the characters.
So if we measure up Iron Man against Watchmen, Iron Man stands out as a superior superhero film in that it‚??s definitely more fun, but Watchmen doesn‚??t exist for the purposes of being fun. Watchmen is an examination of the nature of heroism, and for that reason it could open itself to ridicule from the general public for taking itself too seriously. Despite it‚??s advantage as being more ‚??entertaining‚?? in a traditional sense, Iron Man can‚??t hold a candle to Watchmen‚??s comprehensive approach to the entire experience - the heroics, the relationships, the fights, the gear, the schemes, the costumes. Everything. So while the material might be a little heavy (and/or gruesome) at times, and it might have been a little long, Watchmen remains the superior film in terms of making the most of what the medium can accomplish.
I‚??ll concede though, that as an adapted screenplay, Watchmen has an unfair advantage over superhero movies that draw on a larger swath of source material and might wind up getting more muddled in the process. So as we begin to see narrower interpretations of superheroes coming to the big screen (like, perhaps, Kick Ass?) we might continue to see a deeper understanding of the comic book medium and the superhero genre emerging - until then, Watchmen will remain king of the castle.

WALL-E
WALL-E(2008)

To be honest, I don't think this movie lives up to the hype the way Ratatouille did. It was good, but it took several things for granted, including our ability to root for the humans just because they're human.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
½

Good for what it was, but ultimately it was ill conceived.

Burn After Reading

Major disappointment. This seems to be a small story that the Coen boys wanted to tell and then it got grabbed by the hype machine and portrayed as something it isn't.

Sunshine
Sunshine(2007)

This was like the good version of Event Horizon. If you add Cillian Murphy to a little Danny Boyle, you've got yourself a seriously cool movie. To call it "bleak" would be an understatement.

Kung Fu Panda
½

I was pleasantly surprized at this movie. Oddly, an animated Jack Black was far more human than I've ever seen him before.

Pineapple Express

http://www.thefilmcynics.com/blog/?p=72

Tropic Thunder
½

http://www.thefilmcynics.com/blog/?p=110

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I'd be lying if I said I was diappointed, because I was never really expecting anything in the first place. This is really not much more than a glorified pilot for a new TV show - and because Lucasfilm has more money than Jabba the Hutt, they could put it up on the big screen.

Hancock
Hancock(2008)
½

I liked this movie but it had a few serious problems. The most glaring as far as I'm concerned is the poorly defined nemesis structure. The one-handed man that was supposed to kill Hancock was not properly defined as the bad guy. When introduced for the first time, he was wearing a mask so you couldn√ʬ?¬?t see the dude√ʬ?¬?s face, so how are we supposed to form a connection with the guy? They tried to throw in a bunch of stuff through voice over to show how tough/clever he was √ʬ?¬? but it was insufficient if you ask me. Poorly put together as far as the language of film in general AND the language of the film itself.

Although this is a syndrome that I√ʬ?¬?ve made up √ʬ?¬? so I expect everyone/anyone to agree with me. And furthermore, it√ʬ?¬?s not even that big a problem √ʬ?¬? this is still a fun and dramatic movie.

What I really like about Peter Berg√ʬ?¬?s style is the way he paints his characters with broad strokes so you know exactly the kind of person you√ʬ?¬?re dealing with right from the jump. Right off the top of the movie, you know that Jason Bateman√ʬ?¬?s character is an idealistic nice-guy who always comes last. From the moment Hancock wakes up, you know you√ʬ?¬?re dealing with a bottom rung alcoholic with nothing to live for and nothing to lose.

I think that people√ʬ?¬?s reception of this movie will be based a lot on their mood at the time they see it. I was in a good mood (Superhero movies do that to me) so I was willing to just get into it, despite some of the stupid things happening there: like the French kid, the lack of explanation on the Eagle thing, the murky backstory on where these people came from.

There was a lot to like though √ʬ?¬? plenty of √ʬ?¬?gags√ʬ?¬? to make best use of the superhero genre. I think critics expected/hoped the film would go one way √ʬ?¬? and it went the other way. It wasn√ʬ?¬?t a raw character study √ʬ?¬? it was a balls-out actionomedy. I guess this isn√ʬ?¬?t a major compliment √ʬ?¬? but it√ʬ?¬?s perfectly suited for a Sunday afternoon on TBS, but in a good way.

I was very disappointed in the trailer in that they actually managed to give away the twist without really having to. It doesn√ʬ?¬?t rate up there as a terrible spoiler trailer like Vantage Point or Arlington Road √ʬ?¬? but I didn√ʬ?¬?t like it.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Hellboy 2)
½

Seriously disappointing for what I was expecting to be the biggets and best film of the summer - this one was supposed to outshine Batman. Instead they got the mood all wrong. It was way too jovial, stepping way away from the dark path it treaded in the first installment. And what's up with changing Jeffry Tambor's character? Did they really need a comic foil that badly?

Batman Gotham Knight

A much better project than The Animatrix - this is a perfect hybrid of the original Deco-style cartoon and new school anime. Just the thing to take the edge off your jones for another Batman movie.

The Dark Knight

The best Superhero movie ever. So loaded with story, action, characters that it will take at least 3 viewings to soak it all in. Nolan has created such a perfect film that the only way to do a sequel is to do exactly the same movie - there was exactly the right amount of everything and too mess with the mix would be to destroy it.

Brazil
Brazil(1985)

You haven't really seen this film until you see the version that the Studio wanted to release. Terry Gilliam's triumph over the studio to release the film the way it was intended to be seen is a testament to his fierce integrity and the number one reason why he is my favourite director of all time.

Hard Candy
Hard Candy(2006)

Disturbing - and took a lot of turns that I didn't see coming. I'm glad nobody spoiled anything for me going into it, and I will return the favour for everyone else. Wasn't sure I wanted to put myself through watching this, but I am so glad that I did. Ellen Page - I salute you.

Live Free or Die Hard

I was honestly surprised at how good this was. The story in its entirety was kind of weak, but the Direction was oddly impressive. Lots of visceral action sequences with very clever editing and shooting combined. Len Wiseman has certainly been handling himself well since being in the art department for Godzilla... Have fun at the bad timing awards!

The Da Vinci Code

Never before have I seen a movie that actually made want to avoid the book it was based on...

Road to Perdition
½

With all respect due to other comic book adaptations out there, this film is the best page to screen translation ever made. Ever. Such a beautiful film shot by one of the best DOPs of all time, Conrad Hall. Pity about the slow pace, but for pure sublime cinematic beauty, this was a smashing success.
And talk about a cast turned on its head: Tom Hanks as a mob enforcer, Jude Law as an ugly sociopath, and Daniel Craig as the awkward ineffectual son. Well done!

The Dirty Dozen

At last, I can say that it's a classic fom personal experience. Ah, Lee Marvin... always drunk and angry.

The Bridge
The Bridge(2006)
½

The film didn't really go in the direction I was hoping. This was more about the people related to the bridge, rather than about the bridge as hallowed ground... It was very well put together, but it seemed more like the film was just proving the fact that many people have jumped off the bridge, rather than what it is about the bridge that it so fascinating to people.

Stardust
Stardust(2007)

I actually consider myself lucky that I read the novel and not the graphic novel - so I could go into this without any particular visual bias or expectations.
There were certain sacrifices to accomodate DeNiro's character, and that's fine and all. There was really no way that the film could live up to the novel - Gaiman's wordcraft is so good that the "real" version of whatever he's written about can possibly seem as wondrous.

Sicko
Sicko(2007)
½

Given the vast resource of horror stories that Moore had to draw on for this one, I'm surprised that this film seemed so thrown together, no real thread to weave all the stories together. That being said, this was a very effective film and affected me right between the eyes. You know a doc is good when it scares you about your own health care system, when you don't even live in that country.

Superbad
Superbad(2007)
½

Major props go out to my mother-in-law who watched mydaughter for the night so I coulde go and see this. The most fun I've had at the movies since... I don't even know when.

The Simpsons Movie
½

So much for the theory that the last few seasons have sucked because they were saving their best jokes for the movie. What a disappointment.

Doc Hollywood

Better than a kick in the groin.

The Caveman's Valentine
½

Had a lot of potential, but failed to really milk all of the teets it had direct access to. Odd that it seemed so Canadian, and that might have been its weakest feature.

Brick
Brick(2006)

Let's talk about Brick.

Right off the top, right when I first saw the trailer for this flick I said to myself, this looks like a grittier take on Encyclopedia Brown, much grittier. (For those of you who missed out on that series of books, they were about a kid who acted as a kind of neighbourhood detective, solving little scams and mysteries, they called him Encyclopedia because he knew so many things. He might have been my original inspiration for socking away a pile of useless facts to be bandied around later.) And when I finally got the chance to sink my teeth into this noir-fest, I found I was right, but about as right as guessing that the Matrix would have some special effects in it - just scratching the surface.

What I really had my hands on was a movie that tries to tap into so many things that modern pop culture thinks it knows about the Hard Boiled Detective film, then rings it out and throws it in the dryer with one of those vacuous MTV reality shows. It's like the abused cousin of Bugsy Malone, sans the singing. It's a movie that speaks simultaneously in two languages - the first, is in the language of the classic Sam Spade style murder mystery movie. The second is the cryptic, snappy, and sometimes unintelligible way that the characters engage in dialogue. I know I've been out of High School too long, when this melange of street slang and 30's style delivery blows right over my head.

It's because of this that you can't half-watch this flick, everything keeps happening and happening and the mystery within the mystery is what anybody's even talking about. Dialogue so cool you almost pretend to understand what they're saying to avoid looking stupid in front of your home theatre just pours out of everyone. And if you're not willing to just smile and nod at some of the cryptic conversations you might get left in the dust, because the movie makes no apologies for being unintelligible, it keeps trucking on without recap or paraphrase. This gives Brick an elitist quality that might give you that superior feeling for being clever enough to follow along. However, this on it's own, more than anything else, will keep a lot of people away from this flick. For sheer entertainment value, this might not be your pick for weekend watching. This is more up the alley of someone who's trying to see if they can remember anything from the Film Course they took back in first year University.

The plot unfolds in a familiar fashion, but only because it's trying to nod to it's predecessors. (If Brick had it's own way, if Brick had the run of the bar, it would order some never-before-heard-of Martinis and spout out French poetry through teeth clenching a cigarette. How's that for imagery?) But while the form is predictable, the story itself makes sure you're always wondering who might be at the heart of the crime, or what the crime might even be. With the mysterious words brick, pin & tug hanging over the our Hero, Brendan's, head you're given some of the pieces to solve the crime, even if the crime keeps changing as Brendan digs deeper.

As for the title - while I'll admit it might have been what even got my attention to watch the trailer in the first place, it never really sat well with me. It almost too perfectly disguises the depth lying behind the gates. Between the elitist dialogue, and murky plot clarity, does brick need any more obstacles to its appreciation? Perhaps what's really being referred to is not only brick at the centre of the story, but an element at the foundation of something bigger, and also something heavy to smash the unsuspecting over the head with.

Miracle on 34th Street

Second only to It's a Wonderful life as the all time classic Christmas movie. The remake made a mockery of the genuine charm of this sublime holiday film.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
½

Yet another venture out at unravelling the mythology of Marvel's biggest group of wussies... I mean, mess with the FF all you want, but don't mess up the Surfer, dude. At least they kept his name...
That aside, I'm happy that I watched it, and even happier that I didn't pay for it.

1408
1408(2007)

Not sure which I liked better, the trailer or the movie. Oddly enough, the trailer kind of spoiled some of the thing you were supposed to find out about all in good time.
Much like any great post-modern horror movie must, it did a great job of playing with cinematic conventions to toss out a few red herrings here and there.
An outstanding performance, as always, from John Cusack. And it was a nice touch to have Sam Jackson along for the ride.

Transformers
Transformers(2007)
½

It's not an easy task adapting a TV show about a toy for the big screen, so there are certain creative licences that must be taken. Overall this film did a great job of incorporating the mythology without geeking out too much. I definitely think that Hollywood needs to hang back a bit with their CG, it's getting to the point where there's too much happening on the screen too fast and it's hard to take it all in. I think the CG guys have a different impression of how far their 3D technology has come. If they're going to have giant CG robots battling it out, it would be a good idea to use some slow motion effects, it worked for the Matrix and it can still work today.

Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz(2007)
½

The best movie about movies I've seen in years. Managed to accomplish every single thing that The Last Action Hero failed to do.

Dune
Dune(2002)
½

A made for TV movie, and it shows.

Star Wars: Holiday Special

With the exception of the first appearance ever of Boba Fett in the animated sequence, I'm with Lucas all the way on this. This is the WORST thing ever to make it to TV.

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3(2007)
½

I had heard all of the rumours about Spider-Man 3 long before I decided to get the guys together to catch a late late show on Sunday night, opening weekend. I didn?t care so much that critics were panning it ? what the heck do they know anyways? This is a comic book movie, nobody ever really gives movies about comics a fair shake anyway. I figured, how bad could it possibly be? I managed to sit through Batman & Robin. And I can also remember back to when the idea of a live action movie about Spider-Man was the greatest thing ever ? if this one didn't turn out so great it would still be better than cartoons. And if it has Venom in it? Sweet!

Well, for the bulk of it, I felt vindicated in my faith. I was sure that I could see the beauty beneath the surface. Sadly though, right before my eyes, the film was suddenly overcome by Thirdinstallmentitis, an affliction characterized by a swelling of cast members, gaps in the plot, and an outbreak of empty clichťs.

When we catch up with Peter Parker this time around, life?s going pretty well for the webslinger. A little too well. Old webhead?s getting a swelled head, and when skeletons start coming out of the closet, things turn a little ugly. Combine that with some goop from outer space, and an ambitious freelance photographer from the 70s, and got ourselves a plot here. And it works well. I was really rolling with the way the story was moving along. It was punchy, self contained ? yet interconnected, just like a comic book should be. Even the strutting scene was fine ?cause I figured that it was some kind of nod to Saturday Night Fever. But the Jazz Club scene was absurd ? suddenly I was back in Superman 3, watching a drunken stubbly Superman flicking peanuts at liquor bottles (maybe with a little bit of The Mask in there too).

And from there everything else starts collapsing in on itself. By the time we reach the halfway mark, we?ve got so many threads in play that a disastrous tangling becomes inevitable. Suddenly we?ve got bad guys colluding in dark alleys, half-assed attempts to emulate the cartoon series rather than the comic book, and worst of all: The first case of "Deus Ex Butlera" I?ve ever encountered as Harry?s manservant finally reveals a secret we can?t even believe he was keeping this whole time. So many things were going on and there just wasn?t enough time to give them the amount of conclusion they all deserved. In retrospect, it was hard to understand why they felt they needed to have so many pots on the stove ? Spider-Man 2 managed to keep itself on track (and even improve on the original) by not falling victim to the ?Number of Villains must equal the number in the Franchise? formula. The Venom story could have been great if they gave it more time to take root ? and the same goes for the Sandman plot. The two stories acted in a kind of symbiosis to create the right conditions for Peter to go through the kind of growth Raimi had in store for him. That is putting the cart before the horse though ? just like they reshaped the villains from the original source material to fit into movie, they could have been reshaped to fill the whole thing on their own ? a character is just as malleable as a plot when a pen?s involved. But I digress.

The action sequences and effect were definitely all out in front, but they didn?t really work for me. As far as I?m concerned, Spidey?s a daytime superhero ? all this night time stuff they?ve got him doing is hard to follow, and the wide photography and sweeping camera angles don?t help much either. At times, there was just too much going on too fast ? which is probably what it takes to satiate today?s young popcorn munchers, but it doesn?t make it easy on everyone ? especially since it not just the kids who are there to see an action flick. Too many web balls too ? what ever happened to Spidey making a bat out of webbing or a shield or something, it was too much like he was slinging a pair of pistols. None of the great ones use guns: Not Batman, not MacGyver.

One observation that I would like to make from a professional standpoint, and it crushed me when I saw it, is that Spider-Man 3 committed a sin for which there is no absolution from me: Bad continuity. I only saw one example of it, but this was the first time I?ve watched it. I?m a little worried what I?ll see the second or third time around (that?s right, I?ll be watching it again. This ain?t no Batman & Robin.) It?s inexcusable for a film of this magnitude, a movie with this kind of monetary muscle behind it. Look, if your movie is running too long and you have to shrink it down, it?s time to get creative, not sloppy.

One last thing I?d like to add is that I?ve heard some of the talk about how Spidey spent way too much time in this flick with his mask off. As a purist, I?m going to have to go ahead and agree here. Everybody involved knew full well what kind of character they were dealing with going into this franchise. This ain?t no Superman we?re dealing with here, or even a cowled Batman ? when you?re bringing Spider-Man to the big screen, you gotta swallow the fact that your star?s gonna be wearing a mask most of the time. They get half marks for creativity ? but come on.

The verdict: Go see it (come on, you wanna be able to talk about what everyone else is talking about, don?t ya?). On second thought, wait a couple months after the DVD comes out and then borrow it from me, I may not ask for it back.

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
½

If you're not outraged enough at the state of affairs in the US's domestic policy, this will take you to the edge and over. You can definitely feel Spike's influence in the film, but for the most part, he lets the people of New orleans do the talking for him. My impression though, much like it had been before I saw the documentary, is that this was a poverty thing, not a race thing. Although I can neither blame nor fault Spike for thrusting in that direction.
Given the length and subject matter though, I don't think I'll ever watch it again.

Gangs of New York

You know what the best thing about the Departed is? It turned me around on DiCaprio so that I could go back and revisit Gangs of New York with eyes unclouded by hate... Seriously, this movie stood up to scrutiny under the power of Daniel Day Lewis alone, and what I consider to be a more than competent performance by Leo, this here's a winner!

Shakes the Clown
½

"I got that Peanut Butter pu**y! Smooth, brown and easy to spread."

Knocked Up
Knocked Up(2007)

Seeing it with my pregnant wife made the experience so much more immersive. I don't think I could think of a better way to watch a movie, even if I had been watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" at my big fat greek wedding. Wickedly funny to the point that I was crying at times - some of it struck really close to home which either made me laugh or made me uncomfortable, which worked both ways. The only thing I didn't feel was this love story part, which just seemed to be tacked on for the sake of having some kind of relationship angle to the story. And way to play up the Canadian angle, sweet deal!

Tideland
Tideland(2006)

Yeah, I'm only giving it three stars... but if you combine them with the 2 stars I gave Brother's Grimm (which he was taking a break from when he jetted off to Manitoba to make Tideland) - that's 5 stars altogether.

Alien Resurrection
½

Now I've heard a lot of people give Alien Resurrection a hard time, but I think that it at least deserves your respect.

It's generally a safe bet that when you get really high up in the sequel numbers that the quality starts to fall off. Rocky and Star Wars are both great examples of this. And while I don't think Alien really hit it on the head until James Cameron took it on in number 2, Alien 3 was definitely nobody's cup of tea... I mean, I liked it probably because it was directed by David Fincher, but it didn't really have much to offer the franchise other than a Dog-lien and Ripley's Jesus Christ Pose. But when you look at what happened with Resurrection, I think you can really see that some pieces were in place.

For one, the people involved are impressive: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, of Amelie and City of Lost Children fame, one of my favourite directors; Joss Whedon, the man at the root of Buffy and the heroic creator and torch carrier of Firefly; and the Beast himself, Ron Perlman menaces around in the background. Not only that, but they actually manage to keep Winona Ryder in a strictly support capacity.

Thanks to Whedon's deft hand at handling both the overreaching plot and the minutiae of dialogue, Resurrection is able to lean on the mythology of the Alien, without using it as a crutch. Sure, it plays on aspects of the story: "What did you do to them before?" "I died." But it's able to stand on its own, maybe that's part of Whedon's television background.

Another interesting deal that people might not realise is that this movie is the first real opportunity to see what CG, and even more modern practical effects, can contribute to the look of the Alien. Back when they made Aliens, they only had like 2 or 3 Alien costumes and had to shoot them in so many angles to make it seem like there are more (not that there's anything wrong with that, film craft counts for a lot) but since nobody really dug 3, this was Fox's chance to bring on the Giger freaks.

Now, I'll admit, there was some weird shit in this movie. Most notably: the human/Alien hybrid that winds up getting sucked through a window in space. But with the Aliens in the water, Aliens coming up with some clever problem solving, and Ripley dishing out more ass kicking than ever, Resurrection may not be the best of the bunch, but I think it at least merits your respect.

Scrooged
Scrooged(1988)
½

A must watch every single Christmas.

Mission to Mars

If a martian mated with a cow and it had a baby, and that baby kicked Brian De Palma in the head - it would probably explain the depths of ineptitude that permeate every frame of this celluloid monstrosity.

The Fountain
The Fountain(2006)

In the early minutes of what you know will be an artsy film, it?s natural to feel a little disoriented as you adjust to whatever narrative language the film is going to speak in. But as the minutes ticked by, I could see I was wading in beyond my depth and all I could do was sit back and let The Fountain wash over me. Once again, the bounds of Darren Aronofsky?s imagination seem only limited by the constraints of his budget. And as he continues to demonstrate a knack for drawing the best out of his actors, one can only imagine what further fame and success will afford his creative arsenal.

While the story of The Fountain spans centuries and three sets of star-crossed lovers, it is really about one thing: the quest for the fountain of youth (whether metaphorical or not). The impetus behind this search, and the thread this ties all three stories together is an unmistakable love story, the only unmistakable thing in this film. While colder poetic science fiction like 2001 stays rooted firmly in humanity?s relationship to technology, The Fountain?s travel through time proves that relationship to be irrelevant and instead, much like Solaris, says that it is how we relate to each other that makes us what we are. Like other Aronofsky films, there are undercurrents of desperation throughout, and coupled with the sublime cinematography, there?s a mournful beauty that permeates every scene.

Watching The Fountain, I felt like a dog at a garden party; I knew there was something special happening, there were plenty of great metaphors to nibble on, and juicy helpings of symbolism to lap up off the grass, but I was generally at a loss to understand what it was. But a dog doesn?t need to what their master?s saying to know that they?re sad, or happy, or kicking them off the couch, so a passable knowledge of what?s going down is perfectly acceptable for an emotive film like this.

I admit it, this film is too big for me to do it justice on paper, but what I can do is nibble around the edges and deal with smaller elements that are more within my grasp. For instance, as soon as I was able to get my bearings, the first thing to strike me was the immersive nature of the sound design. I can?t attest to what it was like in theatres, but my 5.1 system at home was firing on all cylinders. It could be argued that the best sound design is like the best editing, if you?ve noticed it, it can?t be all that great, but as you travel through both space and time, the soundscapes really help to get you situated.

The Verdict: This is an artsy film, no doubt. So if you have a problem with convoluted plots and going an hour and a half without seeing an explosion (mind you, there is an Aztec priest wielding a flaming sword) this might not be the film for you. If you?re looking for a movie that will appeal to your sense of wonder, while not making you feel spoon-fed with glaringly obvious plot progression, I say run, don?t walk, run to the video store and get your hands on this? Better yet, hold off for a bit and then head to the previously viewed bin and consider adding it to your permanent collection at a sweet discount ? come to think of it, that?s where I?m heading now.

Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider(2007)

If someone somehow managed to send Ghost Rider back in time to, say, the 70s, I can imagine that the majority of movie goers would be bllown away by the acheivements in special effects - and the frenetic pace of the editing and storytelling. But beneath all that, I expect that people would watch it and ask "Is this the future of filmmaking?" "There aren't going to be any improvements in dialogue or storytelling from now until then?"
Essentially what you're seeing here are the worst parts of both Spawn and Daredevil mashed together with an insane amount of money.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
½

So disappointing. The original elements of the screenplay by Douglas Adams were the only thing that held it together.