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Movie Ratings and Reviews

No Country for Old Men


[i][b]No Country for Old Men[/b][/i] (2007)

Joel & Ethan Coen
[b][u][u] Writer[/u][/u][/b]
[u][/u]Joel & Ethan Coen (Screenplay)
Cormac McCarthy (Novel)
[b][u][u] Cast[/u][/u][/b]
[u][/u]Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Woody Harrelson

After almost two months of being unable to find playing at a theater anywhere near me I finally got a chance to see it in Olney, Illinois. So kudos to the Arcadia Theater. I've been extremely excited to see this movie since I first heard it announced and there was no way I would be disappointed especially after seeing crap like [i]AVP:R[/i].

Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) is minding his hunting in the desert near his home in Texas when he comes across the scene of a drug deal gone wrong and a case full of money. On his tale is the creepy and unsympathetic Anton Chigurh (Bardem) who will stop a nothing to get the money he was hired to collect and kill the man who has inconvenienced him and anyone he is associated with. And the man in the middle of all is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell who is desperately trying to save Moss and his wife.

[i]No Country for Old Men[/i] is nothing short of excellence. Having already read the novel a year or so ago and seeing the Coen brothers taking the helm I was anticipating the best and that's what I got.

Chigurh is absolutely the scariest character I've seen put on film. Whoever he confronts you immediately feel sorry for them. Maybe he's the angel of death or maybe he's a lunatic with a strict homicidal code. He is a very complex character as are the other characters but in such a subtle way that you want to learn more about them. Most of the characters are veterans of war, be it Vietnam or WWII, but even in a time of peace they're still fighting.

Some people will think the point of the story is that "greed destroys everything" but that's not the point. Actually the money becomes irrelevant quickly as it really doesn't matter who ends up with it. It's more about chance and fate as Moss exhaustingly tries to change his fate, Chigurh encounters victims entirely by chance and even let's a coin decide their fate in some cases and Bell knowing that you can't stop what's coming.

The first half of the film will definitely appeal to mainstream audiences as it's fast-pace, exciting, gory and very conventional. The second half will take you in a path that you won't see coming at all. It's very satisfying even to mainstream audiences until the very end in which it may piss some people off. To me the ending was fantastic and very, very emotional, the film may not end conventionally but it ends logically.

The movie is pretty faithful to the book other than changing some scenes (hotel shootout,) moving scenes around (mostly Bell's scenes,) and a few things cut out of it. One change that didn't set well with me was Bell's conversation with the old man in the wheelchair. The conversation is changed quite a bit in the book from what I remember but the conversation in the film made it come off as "the world's always been this fucked up" which goes against the title of the movie. Nothing huge as most of the changes worked really well.

This is an extremely tense and emotional ride that will jar you to the core and will make you think long after you left the theater. Although I haven't seen many of the great films of 2007 I'd say [i]No Country for Old Men[/i] is, without a doubt, the best film I've seen in 2007.


Death Sentence


[b][i]Death Sentence[/i][/b] (2007)

James Wan

Ian Jeffers (screenplay)
Brian Garfield (novel)

Kevin Bacon, Garrett Hedlund, Kelly Preston and John Goodman

It's a revenge movie with lots of action and violence with Kevin Bacon... who wouldn't want to see this? James Wan isn't that bad of a director and at least he's had the integrity to try and break away from the Saw series where he got his start (although his other film, [i]Dead Silence[/i], was weak.) That's another thing that bugs me; they should really hire someone to come up with the titles of their films. [i]Dead Silence[/i] and [i]Death Sentence[/i]... two of the most generic titles for any film I've ever heard. So forgettable that on both occasions when I mentioned to someone that I rented it they reply "What's that?" I proceed to explain and mid-way through they go "Oooooohhhh..."

Kevin Bacon is a straight-laced family man whose life changes after witnessing the execution of his son in a seedy gas station by a gang member. When he seeks his own justice he ignites a chain of events that will create utter chaos... and people shoot stuff up real good.

After watching the first fifteen minutes of this movie I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep watching it. I was worried that the amount of cheese would send my eye balls into a permanent rolling motion. The choice of music was laughably bad, the dialogue was unconvincing, extremely cliche'd reactions and the relationships seemed way too forced and artificial. Kevin Bacon takes a knife with him to confront a gang member and when all is said and done the gang member is stabbed with the knife and is dead as shit but Bacon reacts like he didn't mean for it to happen.

The visual are pretty nice though as well as some of the cinemaphotography. There is an amazing continuous tracking shot during a chase sequence in a parking garage as well as some pretty intense scenes involving gunplay and more chasing.

I assume the gang members are ninjas since they quietly dispose of some cops guarding Bacon's house... only to leave one of them leaning on the car horn ('DOH!) and apparently suck at execution style murders since Bacon gets one last chance to fuck'em up for the third act. Then we go back to the sympathetic scenes in which they slap on all the sap as thick as they can. I don't really care anymore at this point as the action scenes can be pretty bad-ass.

After a few preposterous twists we get homage after homage of the far, far, far superior [i]Taxi Driver[/i] this includes head shaving, hand exploding and gun shot to the side of the neck. If that's not enough they believe we, the audience, are too dumb to figure out "he's become one of them" as if I weren't bashed over the head with that enough.

If you don't mind some extra cheese with you run-of-the-mill revenge flick, by all means, give it a rent or download. On the other hand it's definitely not required viewing as there are better choices out there unless you're a Baconite, Baconohilic or have a case of Bacon-fever...


I Am Legend
I Am Legend(2007)


[i]I Am Legend [/i](2007)[u][/u]
Francis Lawrence

Mark Protosevich (screenplay)
Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)
Richard Matheson (novel)

Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan and Emma Thompson

I read Richard Matheson's [i]I Am Legend[/i] dear to me. I read it several years ago and it was fantastic. It was scary, exciting, disturbing and really made you think with the [i][u]fantastic[/u][/i] ending. For years there have been talks about adapting the novel into a movie but when I heard the film was actually going to be made starring Will Smth and directed by Francis Lawrence my reaction was "...Oh, Lord." After watching the first official trailer I was surprised that it didn't look bad at all.

A human-made virus spreads throughout earth turning people into "Darkseekers" (they're vampires.) Will Smith is the last man alive and stays in New York City until he can come up with a cure for what he helped create. He has to deal with the blood thirsty Darkseekers and his own mental health by living in an isolated world.

I have to say, the first half of this movie captured the feel of the novel but it breaks down to the "Will Smith: One Man Act." Smith is a good actor and, at times, showcases it here but there are way too many times in which he was either over-doing it or channeling the Fresh Prince. "Eat your vegetables... I ain't playin'." Only the Fresh Prince would say something like that.

Another thing that really bothered me, the effects look fucking terrible. Bad as in [i]Van Helsing[/i] bad. The Darkseekers or, what I'll call them for now on, vampires looked really fake and it's really hard to be frightened of something that looks so hilariously bad at times. I was wondering if this was a take on [i]I Am Legend[/i] or if Smith is taking on Emilio Estevez's role in the remake of [i]Nightmares[/i] segment [i]Bishop of Battle[/i] starring the original Playstation's [i]Resident Evil[/i] zombies.

Most of the things I loved about the book were changed in the movie. Now I understand that novels and movies are competely different mediums and, at times, things need to be changed up but in the case of [i]I Am Legend[/i] it didn't need to changed all that much if at all. [i]I Am Legend[/i] is a great title for the novel after you read the ending, but after watching the ending of the 2007 film they tack on a terrible voice-over making sure you know what it means. Everything after the first half is unrecognizable to the book which is a real shame. I don't care what the voice-over says, the title of this film has no meaning whatsoever.

I hate bashing this movie so much, it's far from being the worst film of the year but it had so much potential that it wasted. Another major problem for me was Neville's character. He's a damn super-man. He's a genius scientist rolled into a bad-ass military man. From what I've read in the book Neville is a middle-age average joe who doesn't have any special abilities which makes him much more relatable, the movie just makes him unbelievable.

There are some intense scenes for the first half if you're able to squint your eyes enough for the vampires to not look so fake. Will Smiths dog steals the show as Sam which, in my book, gives it a few more points.


For anyone who is interested in seeing this or have already seen it please, for the love of God, read the book. It's written by Richard Matheson who is known for his short stories that have been adapted by many [i]Twilight Zone[/i] episodes. There were so many great scenes in the book that weren't shown in the movie, such as vampiric females trying to seduce Neville out of his house and Neville finding humor out of shooting his frumpy infected neighbor.

It's by far not the worst film of the year, hell, this is a joy to sit through than compared to a film such as [i]Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem[/i]. It's worth checking out for your own take on it but there hasn't been one person I have corresponded with who liked the film more than the book. Instead you may want to watch better interpretations of the book such as [i]The Last Man on Earth[/i], [i]The Omega Man[/i] and [i]28 Days Later[/i].




[b][i][u]Cloverfield[/u][/i][/b] (2008)

Matt Reeves

Drew Goddard

Michael-Stahl David, T.J. Miller, Lizzy Caplan and Jessica Lucas

Just like everyone else who were unfortunate enough to watch Transformers when I saw this trailer I didn't know what the hell was going on. That's just part of their genius marketing strategy much like they are doing with [i]The Dark Knight[/i]. I didn't really fall for the hype though. Everyone goes gah-gah over everything J.J. Abrams will do. I never watched a single second of [i]Alias[/i] and I don't even care to get started on [i]Lost[/i]. Maybe I am losing out on something special by not watching any of these shows but maybe not because I always thought [i]Heroes[/i] was an awful, horrible show and people seem to love that. The marketing worked on me though and I felt that I [i]had[/i] to see this opening weekend before I heard everyone talking about it.

There's a going to way party with a bunch of young, attractive and rich boys and girls for a guy who is leaving for Japan (JAPAN?! I wonder why... oh, I know... don't I feel special for "getting it.") Stuff starts to 'splode everywhere and a monster, who apparently strongly dislikes people, starts [i][u]terrorizing[/u][/i] Manhattan. The main yuppie who was leaving for Japan decides to brave it through the carnage to save the girl he is oh-so in love with.

The movie starts out with a lot of developing the people involved in the main storyline. We get to know them for a little while and you will either like it or get annoyed with it. Me, I didn't mind as long as the acting was decent but after about fifteen minutes my attention started to drift until "BAM!" something happens and people start threatening to shit their pants.

"This film is a rollercoaster ride." That may sound very familiar and maybe a little cliche but nothing rings closer to the truth than this film. This is probably one of the most tense theater experiences I've ever had. This film plays like a demented 75-minute ride at Universal Studios. If you don't have a huge television or state-of-the-art surround sound... go out to the theater and watch this movie now. You're experience can not be duplicated on your rinky-dink TV and two speaker mono sound.

There are several memorable scenes through this movie which some of them you've seen during television or theater ads. The one that stick out in my mind is the subway chase sequence but if I go into too much detail it would spoil it. I was worried about not connecting with any of these character as they seem like the young, attractive and rich kids that American audiences love so much but it hits you once you see them get knocked off out of nowhere. There was a nice balance to them and their relationships that evolves through their ordeal.

On the otherhand, this movie may not be for everyone. There are some people who are so used to steadicam shots that anything else will frustrate them or even make them nauseous. Not everything is wrapped in a nice, neat little package, some aspects of the monster and the fate of some characters are not revealed and that may also frustrate viewers but it's a film that will challenge you and I love it. I'm not a huge fan of [i]The Blair Witch Project[/i] but this is proof you can still make an excellent film using the guerilla method. The movie is roughly 73 minutes long excluding credits. That may sound like a disappointing length for a feature film but it never felt rushed and actually seemed a little longer than that. In 2007 after many over-bloated craptastic summer cinema it's refreshing seeing a shorter length film that doesn't suffer at all from the run time.

I'm not sure if the film would be as good the second time around. Sure, I'll probably buy it but after seeing it once already I'm not sure if it'll hold up. The unpredictability is one of the many great aspects of this movie and that will obviously be lost on a second viewing.

Also, I'm a little irritated with comments I've read spouting such things as J.J. Abrams is a genius. This guy is probably talented as hell but from what I've read he pretty much came up with this concept. Basically the scene in which the head of the Statue of Liberty is rolling down a street (an idea derived from the [i]Escape from New York[/i] poster,) a Godzilla-type monster for Americans and being shot on a camcorder. It seems like the guy with the cool name seems to be getting much more credit than the no-name writer and director losers. That loser director directed [i]Felicity[/i] episodes... what does he know?! He doesn't have initials for a first-fucking-name! In defense of Abrams I saw him on [i]Dinner for Five [/i]on IFC a couple of years ago and seems to be a very modest person and even saying himself that people give him far too much credit for [i]Alias[/i] and [i]Lost[/i].

Great way to start 2008! Just when I felt like giving up on the "theater experience" this comes along and slaps me across the face with it's awesome-ness. In case people are wondering: yes, you see the monster... I'm not just talking about a glimpse but full-on, in-your-face monster. It's exciting, scary, sad, tense, mysterious and so action packed that it would give Michael Bay an aneurysm so severe he would bleed out of his eyes and die on the spot. Go see it before it's theater run is over... go, NOW!


Rambo (Rambo IV)


[b][i]Rambo [/i][/b](2008)

Sylvester Stallone

Art Monterastelli & Sylvester Stallone
David Morrell (character)

Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden and Graham McTavish

I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to the theater to see [i]Rambo[/i]. Sure, it's been 20 years since the last movie came out, which I would've been 6 at the time, and it'd be kind of cool to get my first Rambo theatrical experience. But I have to travel nearly 30 miles for a decent theater that shows decent movies. Add the mostly negative reviews I was thinking this was rental-worthy. Today, I said "the heck with it" and decided to give it a chance.

John Rambo now lives in Thailand but missionaries convince him to take them to what is considered hell-on-earth, Burma. After returning from the trip he finds out that the missionaries have gone missing and escorts a group of hardened mercanaries to locate and rescue the group.

I had an idea what was happening when I was going into this. I've posted the [url=""]rough trailer Stallone was using to sell the movie[/url] and there was a good idea of the extreme amount of realistic violence that was going to take place and I didn't expect it to pass by the MPAA... but it did. Not that I mind, it's quite the spectacle on the big screen.

I can see a lot of people having trouble sitting through this. Sure, it's a big dumb action movie that you can turn your brain off for and toss some popcorn in your mouth but it doesn't really work that way for me. The [i]First Blood[/i] sequels were parodied quite often for scenes such as choppers and hundreds of soldier shooting at him and not hitting him but he's able to hit them with pin-point accuracy... but this isn't your Papa's Rambo. Much of the violence is extremely disturbing especially watching people explode like water-balloons, children getting thrown into fire and entire villages being raped. The violence so realistic that it makes everything else I've seen in a movie look like an old wild west show... on the radio!

So with all of that said the movie exceeded my expectations. Gone is the polished style of [i]Rambo: First Blood Part 2[/i] and [i]Rambo 3[/i], it's now gritty and down-and-dirty film-making. This is a hardcore guerilla warfare film that you'll either hate or love... and I loved it. The plot may be simple, the acting may not be top-notch and has much more action than any sort of character development but it works. I was really getting into this movie. The protagonists are such ruthless, despicable piles of dog-shit that you'll get all giddy when Rambo shows them what's up. Also, Rambo isn't running around like the shirtless, oiled-up young lad that he used to be, he's an old man and plays it as that.

[i] Rambo[/i] isn't a Stallone one-man show. He works with a group of mercenaries bad-asses that have individual personalities which reminded me of the Colonial Marines from[i] Aliens[/i]... which is alway a great thing. I have to hand it to Stallone, he's come a long way since [i]Staying Alive[/i] as a director. I'm not sure if he is a puppeteer with my emotions or just simply exploiting them... but at least he made me feel something. It's the type of movie you want to erupt in an applause as the credits role, not because it's fine art, but it's movie that lives up to [i]First Blood[/i] and surpasses the sequels.

Rambo is a movie that critics, in my opinion, were wrong about. I'm not sure why... I guess since they feel obligated to hate it? Maybe it was too ugly and violent which I can get and why I've hated movies in the past. Maybe they took offense because shallow action movie was trying to bring attention to the atrocities taking place in Burma but instead felt exploitive. I can see that as well but it's a hardcore action flick that takes no prisoners and still has heart and I felt so immersed with this film I couldn't possibly give it a negative review. It's one-of-a-kind type of movie in this day-in-age and will satisfy your nostalgia fix until a certain archaeologist makes his way back into theaters this summer.