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Rating History

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Wallace (Peter Sallis) and Gromit run their own company called "Anti-Pesto." With it, they capture the rabbits that rummage the gardens of England, rather than killing them (this IS a G-rated movie). Eventually, Wallace uses a machine to cause the rabbits to dislike their standard food, but after the process, a "were-rabbit" has created a larger mess than standard ones. The duo are asked by Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) to weed out the problem, but her suitor (Ralph Fiennes) has other plans.

It has been a while, but the UK smash "Wallace and Gromit" has finally been brought to the big screen with Dreamworks distributing it. Back in 2000, director Nick Park has created a summer sensation called "Chicken Run," which only had ONE American star in it - Mel Gibson. Now, he and Simon Bax reunite for this latest effort, which is yet another hilarious claymation movie.

After "Corspe Bride," it doesn't come to any surprise that another film with British undertones would be welcome into theaters. This time, it's a stop-motion claymation adventure. "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" has more gadgets than you can shake a stick at, including a BV-6000 that sucks up all the rabbits in a glass jar. And Wallace still loves cheese more than ever, even if he's trying to go on a diet and eliminate negative thoughts with one of his gadgets. It's all handled well enough, and it's downright hilarious.

Moviegoers beware that this movie, like "Corpse Bride," is heavy on the British humor. And, like "Chicken Run," the cast includes only two familiar actors and actresses - Ralph Fiennes as Victor and Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Tottington. Both of them relish in their roles. But it wouldn't be a "Wallace and Gromit" movie without Peter Sallis as the voice of Wallace, wouldn't it? Also, while the movie has a dark tone, composer Hans Zimmer's slaphappy score is thrown into the mix to keep us from taking the whole thing too seriously. And it does good at that too.

Before the movie begins, you will be treated to "The Christmas Caper" which stars the penguins from "Madagascar." With this short being so hilarious, it sets the tone for a laugh-filled comedy that only the talented British can give us.

Transporter 2
Transporter 2 (2005)
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Ex-mercenary Frank Martin (Jason Statham) has taken his business to the United States. He also makes an acquaintance with a young boy named Jack (Hunter Cleary), as well as his mother Audrey (Amber Valetta). However, no matter where Frank goes, trouble follows, and that would be Gianni (Alessandro Gassman) and Lola (Katie Nauta), who kidnap Jack during a routine hospital appointment. Gianni request the family pay him, or their son will suffer the fate of a deadly poison. Thus Frank is put into a position where he must find Jack and stop the bad guys.

This year, we've been flanked with dozens of action movies. Sadly, the majority of them sucked ("Alone in the Dark", "Stealth", "xXx: State of the Union"), and makes us yearn for the days when the genre was revitalized ("Enemy of the State, "Face/Off", "The Rock"). Back in 2002, we've received a taste of full-throttle kung-fu action in the form of "The Transporter", which became a hit in theaters and (mostly) DVD, and became Statham's signature hit as Frank Martin. Little did we know that the sequel, which comes out after all the action bombs we've endured, would surpass everything that the original had.

So, what makes "Transporter 2" good? Director Louis Leterrier, the original's artistic director, picks up where Cory Yuen left off by pulling out all the stunts. Car chases? Adrenaline-pumping music? Well-choreographed kung-fu scenes? And another great performance by Jason Statham? Check, check, check, and check.

Another addition to "T2" is an inclusion of CGI scenes. You'll see it in action when Frank makes a near-death landing from one building to the next, rides on a jet-ski and lands on pavement, and escapes from a plane that has crashed into the ocean (the scene alone is less dizzying than the aerial fight scenes in "Stealth").

Also making a return are the fight scenes. Even if Leterrier is no John Woo, he manages to rip off plenty of the Hong Kong director's styles: Lola's two guns, heavy uses of slow motion, and interaction between Frank and the main characters.

Speaking of that, Amber Valetta's performance is a little hard to sit through. When the story kicks in and her kid is kidnapped, she starts yelling and it gets all too annoying. Hey, V, I know you're upset about your kid and all, but take a 'lude or something. It's a shame, because she delivers a good breakout performance, better than in "Hitch," IMO. But for the others, Katie Nauta makes us of her understated, yet solid role.

Running at a scant 88 minutes, shorter than the original's 94 minutes, "Transporter 2" gets every scene done without milking it. Statham, who'll likely tarnish his career now that he's in Uwe Boll's reiteration of the PC hit "Dungeon Siege" (well, according to my friends at the message boards), is a hoot and a holler, delivering deadpan punchlines and karate moves with the grace of Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-Fat. Surpassing the original's silly, but graceful action sequences, "Transporter 2" is 2005's better action thriller, and a worthy successor to the original and then some.

Serenity (2005)
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The crew above the Serenity will do any job that pays, even if it's illegal. Running the ship is Mal (Nathon Fillion), a hotshot veteran who was on the losing side of an interstellar war. Joining him is second-in-command Zoe (Gina Torres), pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk, "I Robot"), mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite), and muscle Jayne (Adam Baldwin). Mal gets more than he bargains for when he invites Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) and his sister River (Summer Glau) aboard. The young girl was held captive in a government facility, and has since developed unimaginable combat skills and telepathic abilities. Now the crew must take on the Reavers, and their leader The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and protect the Tams.

It has been eight years after "Alien Resurrection" since Joss Whedon has been involved in a big screen project. During that time, he created a variety of great shows, including "Buffy," "Angel," and "Firefly." The latter is the backdrop for this new movie Whedon has directed AND written, and brings a majority of their cast to the big screen. And the title has changed, now it's called "Serenity," named after the TV show's ship.

For "Serenity," Whedon expands his style on a much grander scale (the budget is $40 million, double than what was used on his TV shows) since he's working 2-hour long movie. You've got his trappings: slick action scenes (we get to see River kicking ass like Buffy), well-developed characters, and comic undertones. The director makes some of the clichés feel fresh and realistic: sexual tensions between Kaylee and Simon (which is really funny near the end), the parental stylings, and the bad boy with a heart of gold (Jayne).

Whedon doesn't skip up on the dialog. As mentioned, "Serenity" borrows the comic timing of "Buffy" and "Angel" with hip slang, as well as an unusual (but not overwhelming like the show) amount of Asian inflections. Pith is doled out in large doses and does wonders to create a joyously aloof vibe that is never condescending, but rather leaves the audience feeling as if they are privy to the innermost jokes of a tight-knit clan.

The action sequences are also slickly done. It's evident during the broad mountain chase where the crew elude several Reavers. The pacing is water-tight and expertly handled without resorting to manic editing and sloppy camera handling that we've seen in summer movies like "Stealth." That movie could've done wonders for Jamie Foxx and co. if Joss Whedon took hold of that movie.

Sure, we may have had great sci-fi films like "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and "War of the Worlds." But you have not seen a film in the genre like "Serenity." Not only does Whedon pepper the movie with a lot of witty jokes and up-to-par pacing, but he's made some well-developed characters that the audience can follow. Not many people will like this, especially people who saw "Firefly" and didn't care for it (see several reviews), but for those who need a little craving for smartness in the action/sci-fi genre that several movies haven't delivered, "Serenity" is worth the price of admission.

The Ringer
The Ringer (2005)
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

At his unnamed workplace, Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) has been appointed as vice president. One of his jobs was to fire a janitor (Luis Avalos), but instead, he has him do yard work around the house. That doesn't come to swell, however, when an accident robs him of his fingers. Steve does not have the money to help, and to make matters work, his uncle Gary (Brian Cox) owes a lot of gambling money. The uncle comes up with a scheme: rig the Special Olympics and pose as a handicap under the misnomer Jeffy Dahmor. The other athletes find out about Steve's little scheme, but after an explanation that had to be explained for more than 14 minutes, they decide to help train him, thus beating the egotistical Jimmy (Leonard Flowers). But that's not all. He's fallen for Lynn (Katherine Heigl) one of the volunteers of the event.

Boy, this movie is a doozy. A teaser trailer was shown some time ago earlier this year (or was it 2004?). Following that, before the movie was released, it was approved by the real life Special Olympics, because of the decency of how the athletes have been represented. Another thing that comes to mind is the fact that people are comparing "The Ringer" to a "South Park" episode, the name which I forgot. Finally, you've got the Farrely brothers to produce, not direct. All this sums up "The Ringer."

I can see how the majority of the critics are razzing all over this movie. As I mentioned, Peter and Bobby Farrely do not direct this movie, instead they leave it up to "Beyond the Mat" helmer Barry Blaustein. Mr. Blaustein does create a few hilarious moments (especially when Steve tries to adopt the perfect personality), but they aren't of the same quality of anything the Farrelys done ("There's Something About Mary" comes to mind). Some of the oddball attempts don't seem to have the edge (weird that one of the handicapped athletes is capable of using a laptop - maybe he's faking it like Steve is). And there's the romantic subplot, topped off with a cartoonish villain (played by Zen Gesner) who's the boyfriend of Lynn, and is scamming on another woman in the theater where they're playing Dirty Dancing; much like in "Just Friends," the comic cork here is unable to be popped. But at least that movie tried.

But that's not to say that the movie is unfunny. Believe it or not, Blaustein has managed to create an almost likable character out of Johnny Knoxville, who finally plays a normal character for once (I got tired of him channeling Matthew McConaughey in "Dukes of Hazzard"). While he is unable to jump over former Farrely associates, such as Ben Stiller or Jim Carrey, some of his scenes with his co-stars are pretty funny or interesting. Especially with Katherine Higel (of "Grey's Anatomy" fame), whom herself manages to be sweet and charming.

And when the movie requires a scene stealer, leave it up to Brian Cox, coming off the success of "Red Eye." As Gary, the actor keeps Steve on his toes, teaching him how to be a handicap by showing him movies like "Forrest Gump" and "I Am Sam." And he comes off with some smarmy lines (his response to how Steve thinks that the athletes are more fitted to the real Olympics - "Maybe the French team"). Not memorable stuff, but if he can be funny in "Super Troopers", then why not bring it over to this movie?

The rest of the cast includes fine performances from Bill Chot as Thomas, Leonard Earl Howze ("Barbershop") as Mark, and Jed Rees as Glen. Also, there are real-life intellectually challenged people in the movie, including Edward Barbanell and John Taylor. Everyone gets the job done and steals a scene or two, you can't help but like them.

Despite some formula (a sappy final act rescued by an upbeat musical number), "The Ringer" is a really funny comedy, no matter how you slice it. If Knoxville can play likable characters outside of "Jackass"-type scenarios, I'd like to see what he can do next. Too bad one of them is a possible "Dukes of Hazzard" sequel.

Prime (2005)
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Rafi (Uma Thurman) recently came off of a divorce. She is currently seeing her therapist Lisa (Meryl Streep) to discuss about what's going on. One night, she meets up with David (Bryan Greenberg). Eventually, the two hit it off and find out about their age differences - Rafi is 37 and David is 23. Regardless, they hit it off, with Rafi discussing her newfound sex life. However, David is Lisa's son, and when she finds out about it, things go crazy.

Now that the R-rated comedies have come and gone, the conventional PG-13 romantic comedies make a big return. "Prime" is the second of many due out this holiday season (with "Just Like Heaven" being the first). The 1-2-3 punch of its many stars, and the quirky premise, have the potential of making "Prime" one of the biggest sleepers of the fall. However, director Ben Younger falls victim to some major flaws that other movies with great potential run into to.

When the movie starts out, we get introduced to the movie's strong point - the chemistry between the two main characters Rafi and Lisa. During these moments, we get to see the actresses who play them handle their comedic timing with ease. Especially during the moments when Rafi goes through an explicit description of her sex life ("He makes me want to do things that I have never wanted to do" or "We had sex on every surface of my apartment), and the therapist makes some hilarious quote or mugs, which result in the movie's bigger laughs. Streep is funny and Thurman is channeling in a performance a la Cameron Diaz-lite, and it works.

Then there's the romance part, which starts off good. Greenburg manages to charm the audience like Mark Ruffalo done in "Just Like Heaven." Both him and Uma manage to have credible chemistry, even if it ain't really deep most of the time. Surprisingly enough, there's an almost-explicit sex scene the two share, you'd think this movie was rated R. As a matter of fact, that was the movie's original rating, until someone had to mess it up and give it a PG-13 rating. Hey, remember "Wedding Crashers?"

Sadly, Younger faces a similar problem that David Dobkin ("Wedding Crashers") fell ill to: the movie's finale. Somehow, the director fears the audience doesn't care for the characters enough, and he throws in an act where all the laughs are replaced with sentiment. Yet he doesn't know how to end the movie. For example, our lovers break up, then get back together, then break up again. What's worst, by the time the movie's over, we're not given a clue whether or not they get back together. David just looks at Rafi inside a restaurant, they both make cutesy faces, and he leaves. Then the credits roll.

Also, for a movie to have a cast of mostly white actors/actresses, there is an unusual amount of hip-hop in there. That includes "Get Money" by Junior M.A.F.I.A. Another big mistake! Younger, if you want to add some hip-hop tracks, include a black actor or two your cast.

"Prime" is NOT a bad movie. It's got a good "Meet the Parents"-type premise, with Meryl Streep being unusually hilarious. But like all romantic comedies before it, it comes to a screeching halt in the final act, and makes the 105 min. running time feel like a 2-hour epic. Everyone will start laughing at the beginning, then all of a sudden, silence. And the ending, as we mentioned, is the biggest insult. If only Younger stuck to the formula that it worked so well with, we could've had a hit.