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Rating History

Clerks II
Clerks II (2006)
11 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[font=Arial]While the production values have definitely increased since the original, "Clerks II" still has the charm and wit intact. Kevin Smith sets up a nice "bookend" to his New Jersey chronicles as the film tracks an important day in the lives of hapless Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and his smart-ass friend Randall (Jeff Anderson). The Quick-Stop convenience store is gone, and the two "clerks" now work at fast-food chain Mooby's. From there, Dante and Randall deal with changes in their lives and their possible futures, with new friends along for the ride - manager Becky (Rosario Dawson), fellow "funployee" Elias (Trevor Fehrman), and Dante's new fiance Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach, a.k.a. Mrs. Kevin Smith). Of course, drug-dealing comedy team Jay & Silent Bob (Jason Mewes & Kevin Smith) have a new hang-out now.

Kevin Smith may seem like he has another movie for his best fans, but a closer look shows that he has put a lot of heart into the story. Like the first "Clerks", you care about what will happen to Dante and Randall. Rosario Dawson as "Becky" brings warmth, feeling and an unique perspective towards life. Trevor Fehrman as "Elias" is a perfect foil for Randall. And, Jason Mewes provides for some funny scenes(and one mildly disturbing one).

The dialogue is hilarious, mostly thanks to Jeff Anderson's performance, as Randall gives out more of his personal insights. It may conjure up some weird images, though.

The sequel will definitely please Smith's hardcore fans, but it's not perfect. The dancing scene between Dante and Becky could have been touching, but Smith decided to "up the stakes" a little and it ruins the moment. Dante's fiance Emma was more a sweet character when she should have had a bitchy side; it would have played out better later on. I'm still not sure about the go-kart scene, it's kind of a "came out of left field" part of the film.

Kevin Smith has said that he has finally made the movie that he wanted to, and he has given something that all his fans will enjoy as well. Newcomers may be pleasantly surprised as well - Smith set up the movie so you don't have to see the original to get this one. No need for pirates, superheroes or talking cars here; just good, well-rounded, profanity-spewing characters.[/font]

A Scanner Darkly
11 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

"A Scanner Darkly" isn't another summer blockbuster. Watch it with an "independent film" state of mind because that's what this film is, only with unique visuals. Director Richard Linklater actually borrows two of his previous techniques for "Scanner": the "day-in-the life" approach from "Dazed and Confused" as he chronicles the goings-on of a drugged-out, heavily-monitored society, and the rotoscoped animation from "Waking Lives" which provides its unique look. Sometimes the animation will have a "shifting" effect on the people and their surroundings, other times it'll look like 2-D images in a 3-D world, and then there's the really BIZARRE imagery...

"A Scanner Darkly", from author Philip K. Dick's original work, takes place in a society that's so monitored that special agents must wear "Scramble-suits" to hide their appearance and voice. One such agent is "Fred" (Keanu Reeves) as he's assigned to observe notorious drug-smuggler Robert Arctor, the smuggler's girlfriend Donna (Winona Ryder) and their drugged-out friends Barris, Ernie and Charles. As if the numerous surveillance cameras weren't bad enough, society is also strung out on a designer-drug called "Substance D". There are "recovery centers" to help addicts, but it would seem the cure is just as bad as the disease. "Fred" has had to take this drug in order to properly go undercover, but the results have taken an unfortunate turn - "Fred" and Robert Arctor are the SAME PERSON.

The best parts of the movie are the scenes with Barris, Ernie and Charles. Robert Downey Jr. as "Barris" provides some of the most surreal and hilarious dialogue ever written for a film, Woody Harrelson as "Ernie" can go from calm to violent in 2 seconds flat, and Rory Cochrane as "Charles"... you'll have to actually see for yourselves. The movie is more of an close-up look on this strung-out society so there's no real plot (and no Hollywood "happy-ending", which is not necessarily a bad thing). The parts involving Reeves' and Ryder's characters tend to drag and slow the movie down, but the story does pick up a little near the end. (The "scramble-suit" voice does make Keanu Reeves sound like a legitimate actor, though.)

Director Linklater has given a unique and engrossing observation into a society "getting progressively worse". There are frightening parallels to real problems as the so-called "war on drugs"(and who really controls them), government overstepping its boundaries and the public's diminishing rights of privacy. "A Scanner Darkly" has been designed, much like "Substance D", to make us consider how similar our own society is becoming like theirs. It's a world where the path to addiction and the road to recovery may be one and the same...

X-Men: The Last Stand
11 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

There was a lot of geek buzz and heated opinions on how "X-Men: the Last Stand" was going to turn out when Brett Ratner took over for former director Bryan Singer. Many thought that Ratner wouldn't be able to convey the X-Men as "outsiders" wanting acceptance, and accurately portraying them with more heart and humanity than their oppressors the way Bryan Singer did with the first two movies. Also, the new storyline focuses on one of the most popular stories in comic-book history: "The Dark Phoenix Saga". Would Brett Ratner be able to convey this gripping and emotional story to the screen while keeping Bryan Singer's interpretation intact?

The answer for me is "No."

"X-Men: Last Stand" is more of an action movie than anything else, which makes sense why they picked Ratner to direct. As the movie progressed it was like everything Singer tried to establish was slowly fading away, much like Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) phasing through a wall. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has been reduced to a one-liner vending machine, and fan-favorite Beast (Kelsey Grammer) fails to portray himself as an intellectual with that silly "growl" underlying his voice (stick with your real voice, Grammer...).

Also, instead of listening to the fans and including more popular characters (Gambit, White Queen, Apocalypse), they threw in 30 or so mutants that no one barely knows or that they made up. Why do we have to have a pretty-boy with wings (Angel) or a retired circus strongman (Juggernaut)?

(Speaking of Juggernaut, this is the first time that an "X-Men" character looked more ridiculous on-screen than in the comics.)

Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Ian McKellen (Magneto), and Famke Janssen (Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix) all do well with their own characters and try to salvage some dignity from this movie. It has its moments, with a showdown between Pyro and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) as well as the battle between the X-Men and Magneto's Brotherhood. But most of the mutants look more silly than anything else, like Juggernaut, Beast's blue shag-carpetting, Colossus' aluminum-siding look, and that kid's "porcupine-quills" on his face.

I had hopes for this movie when I saw the first two trailers, but I got nervous when I saw actual clips from the movie. A female comic-book aficionado (yes, they do exist) once said that the latest trailer from the movie "made her uterus hurt". Seeing "X-Men: Last Stand" was like a kick in the bean-bag for me as well.

(There's a secret scene after the end credits, but it's no better than the so-called "epilogue" from "Daredevil".)

The Da Vinci Code
11 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I've heard a immense amount of hype regarding Dan Brown's book "The DaVinci Code", a fictional murder-mystery involving the greatest cover-up in history. If said secret was revealed to the world, the foundation of the Vatican and the Church would literally crumble into dust.

I'm one of the miniscule amount of people who has NOT read this book, mostly because my exposure to the hype would diminish my pleasure in reading it. In that sense, I have had the opportunity to see the movie version without knowing any "spoilers". The book has garnered a great amount of protests from religious groups as well, which has crossed over to the movie, claiming it is nothing but sacrilege.

Having seen the movie, I don't see what they would have to be upset about. At best, the movie version is a "paint-by-numbers" summer blockbuster, slightly more enjoyable than "Mission Impossible 3".

Tom Hanks phones in his role as famous symbologist (whatever...) Robert Langdon, who travels to France to help in the investigation of his former teacher. He meets up with police cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) and a determined detective (Jean Reno). From there, the film is a mish-mash of code-solving, car-chases and brutal murders done by a freakish albino monk (a very pale Paul Bettany). Things pick up slightly when Robert and Sophie meet up with a reclusive billionaire (Ian McKellen) who seems to know about this "big secret" than he lets on.

This big movie that everyone's been hyping for months is just a big plodding mess, and director Ron Howard should know better. Most of the movie is dull and often out-of-pace; several times the audience was laughing at scenes which in a normal movie wouldn't get any laughs at all. The scenes that were supposed to be funny got nothing but silence. One bright part was French actress Audrey Tautou's performance as Sophie, a shining light in this dark mess (something she probably carried over from "Amelie").

The best advice I can give is to read all the critics' reviews, and then see this movie with low expectations. At the very least, you may get some enjoyment out of it and "decipher" it to be a better movie than expected.