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Movie Ratings and Reviews

Paul
Paul(2011)

I love Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Such a dynamic duo. And what's this? They're teaming up with the director of Superbad? No, not Judd Apatow. You won't recognize this guy's name anyway. No one saw Adventureland. Everyone will see 'Paul' though, mostly because it involves aliens, Comic-Con (for maybe ten minutes), and Seth Rogen. Don't get too excited. If you saw 'Superbad,' then don't be surprised by the language. Instead, be disgusted. 'Paul' is a brave attempt to salute sci-fi aficionados, but it's less extraordinary than 'Fanboys' (which I didn't completely hate).

The movie follows two British tourists (Pegg and Frost) who come to America to attend the annual Comic-Con. Honestly I think they were too lazy to learn American accents, because their foreign-ness becomes a plothole later on in the film. It seems that they weren't too worried about plotholes though, or Seth Rogen's bland voice-acting that's incredibly distracting. I can't even take a bug with his voice seriously. Or whatever he was in the Dr. Seuss movie.

Anyway, the two leave Comic-Con and run into Paul, an extra-terrestrial who has been on the run from the government for quite some time. They try to joke about how cliché some of the plot elements in the film are, but it's just a cheap cop-out to justify the originality of 'Paul,' which I missed out on apparently. After they agree to take Paul along on their road trip, more and more people begin to hunt them down, and I really don't need to continue because you've seen it before and I couldn't possibly ruin anything or surprise you for that matter.

What gets me the most is the way the film is carried out. While I expected something along the lines of 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Superbad,' 'Paul' ends up being a lame version of 'E.T.' with a lot of bad language and overtly unnecessary ranting against religion. I'm not against either of those things, but trust me, it just doesn't work here, at least in the way it tries to work. I'm used to films with Pegg and Frost being down-to-earth bromances that avoid convention, and I don't know if they trying to be out-of-this-world by using every predictable convention possible, but that's giving them too much credit for something that doesn't make 2011's horrible lineup of wide releases look any better. I still laughed a few times though.

The Winning Season

I never thought I'd be praising a movie about girl's basketball for effectively capturing the high school life, and I never thought I'd see Sam Rockwell in a movie about girl's basketball either. But that is the case for 'The Winning Season,' in which Rockwell plays an alcoholic recruited by an old friend to coach a high school girl's basketball team. While some people will be bored by the girl's basketball (there really isn't a lot), or maybe even by the depressing nature of the film, but it's ultimate purpose lies in showing the miscommunication between adults and teenagers, as well as males and females of all ages, which is does so very well.

Gender roles play a big part in the film as Rockwell's character dismisses his assigned team immediately because he stands firm with the idea that girls hate him for a reason he's more than aware of: he's a prejudice asshole. He's separated from his wife and daughter, who he reluctantly tries to reconnect with. He resides to his drinking problem because he is subconsciously aware that his ex-wife and daughter ruined his basketball career. AA would really be the best thing for him, but coaching high school girl's basketball is still a good second option.

While Rockwell's character is the center of focus in the film, we also get to witness some aspects of the girl's (on the basketball team) personal lives, which mostly are cliche (resorting to racial issues, one girl dates a really old guy and another dates a inconsiderate jock) but are saved by impressive acting. In most cases, though, Rockwell steals the scene. It is depressing at times, but it is still a feel-good movie that shows an significant development in the main character, and it happens to be pretty funny for the most part.

Monsters
Monsters(2010)

The sci-fi genre is changing drastically. With all of the alien invasion films we've already seen (and will see a lot in theaters this year), sci-fi is as big as it was in the 50's and 70', when it was a dominating form of the action genre in Hollywood cinema. Now it seems, with movies about superheroes, aliens, robots, clones and monsters releasing left and right, that is the case again. With 'Avatar' and 'District 9' both getting Best Picture nominations last year, the genre is more appreciated now, so it is no longer as exploited as it used to be, and therefore we get sci-fi blended with other film genres from talented filmmakers, the majority of them being independent, just as they used to be around the time of 'Star Wars.'

'Monsters' is one of those mixed-genre films. It seems to be a typical alien flick along the lines of 'District 9,' and while the political themes are just as strong, they couldn't be any more different. While 'District 9' focused mostly on racism while symbolizing an actual genocide that took place in South Africa, 'Monsters' focuses more on the immigration scenario between Mexico and the U.S.

The setting is an alternate reality where a spacecraft with alien life-forms aboard has crashed in Mexico, resulting in a quarantine of the majority of the country after the aliens begin to multiply and spread.

Revolutionary Road

Near the beginning of the film, Leonardo Dicaprio's character, Frank, tells a new girl at work that his job is a joke. He sees it as a joke because it was what his father did, and he aspired to be nothing like him, although he ended up in that position anyway. While it doesn't appear to be a comedy, director Sam Mendes has a way with conjuring humor from some of the darkest situations, and with this "joke" he sets up the rest of the movie as a cynical perspective of life in America during the 50's.

Frank and his wife, April (Kate Winslet), are stuck in what they see as a trap, because they've adapted to the idea that people must settle down after they've had children. Although their marriage is at its weakest point, April suggests that they pack up and move to Paris, where she will work and Frank can take time to figure out what he really wants to do with his life. At first Frank agrees with this plan, but temptation kicks in. He is offered a promotion that will give him and his family enough money to actually enjoy their life in America, but April points out that Frank is just giving in to the trap.

As the movie progresses, we meet various characters that have different ways of going about their lives in this time period. Michael Shannon plays an "unwell" son of Frank and April's neighbors, who doesn't hesitate to point out how foolish the couple are for staying in the trap. April understands him but Frank is adamant that the man is insane, which forces April to question her own sanity.

April points out that in order to get by during this time period one must be good at lying, because "Everyone knows [the truth], however long they've lived without it. No one forgets the truth, they just get better at lying." April's main aspiration is to become an actress. When we see Frank and April first meet, she tells him about how she is studying to be an actresses. Towards the beginning of the film she is in a small local play that gets negative reception from the audience. Although she says she wants to get a secretarial job in Paris, it's clear that she also wants to pursue an acting career there as well. However, when those plans start to become out of reach, she realizes that her only chance at acting is to act in real life, to pretend she enjoys the trap. We see then that everyone else realizes they are in the trap as well, but Frank and April are the only ones attempting to get out; everyone else has already adapted to pretending, so the couple's endeavors are a joke to them.

So is Revolutionary Road funny? Most people will say it's down-right depressing just because Frank and April actually have a decent life and it doesn't make sense for them to be so upset, but it is clear that Sam Mendes intended for Frank and Alice's situation to be humorous, just to point out the truth behind the American dream that was conceived in the 50s. With the couple constantly debating what is realistic and unrealistic (concerning their plans), the American dream is made out to be a fantasy to keep people planted securely in their traps. The acting in the film is flawless and the story is structured perfectly in order to satirize the way people live in society still to this day. It only makes sense that he would choose this era to show the origins of the dream.

Never Let Me Go

Mix Michael Bay's 'The Island' with M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Village', take out the action and the horror, and you'll get a good idea of the premise of 'Never Let Me Go', Mark Romanek's powerfully faithful adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel. While the characters in the movie may seem somewhat distant for most audience, it is only one of the many social and political allegories that are scattered throughout the film that capture the essence of the novel.

'Never Let Me Go' follow three children, Ruth (Kiera Knightley), Kathy (Carey Mulligan) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield), that go to Hailsham, a school for clones meant to provide vital organs to normal humans when necessary. Now you see how it is a lot like 'The Island.' Rest assured, the children are aware of their purpose though, as they are raised to believe that they are actually doing something honorable. They don't look forward to careers, they look forward to how many donations they can survive. You would think they could just run away at any time, but they are essentially brain-washed, similar to the way the residents of 'The Village' are, into fearing the outside world, although they eventually are allowed to leave the school when they are old enough. The school also keeps tabs on their whereabouts at all times with these bracelet thingys.

Kathy develops a strong liking for Tommy at a young age, although the two never do anything about it, that is, because Ruth becomes aware of their bond and takes Tommy for her own. Tommy's reluctance to stay in his meaningless relationship with Ruth when he is well aware of Kathy's feelings for him represents one of the many trials of these characters as they desperately try to prove they have souls. The three separate when they get older and begin to donate, but Kathy decides reunite the gang for one last road trip before, well, they die. Bonds are rekindled and you wish you could understand how they feel, but the distance between these characters and the audience remains long throughout the movie, to prove how no one could really understand what's going on in the heads of these three.

'Never Let Me Go' raises its own questions outside of the movie, as to why humans behave the way they do in and out of love, why they succumb so easily to beliefs established at a young age, and why they let these things affect their mode of thinking throughout life. You see how innocent they are when their lives are controlled so heavily by outside forces, only because they are not believed to have souls. The whole tragic human allegory that drives the movie rests in the leaders of Hailsham, who have misconceived perceptions of their own, and thus give the "clones" an unfair life only because of their falsely-disadvantaged segregation.

The performances are outstanding, as well as the beautifully dark score and the lush cinematography. It'll make you shed a tear or two, or maybe you just don't care. Many tragic, heartfelt and depressing moments fill this film, so if you like movies like 'A Very Long Engagement,' 'Life is Beautiful,' 'Two Lovers,' or 'Blue Valentine,' and find that kinda stuff to be beautiful, then you're probably going to love this movie like I did. If not then you're gonna think it's one big, dull, depression trip.

Piranha 3-D
Piranha 3-D(2010)
½

It barely pulls off being so bad that it's funny, but most people will think that it's just plain bad. The last half of the movie is the best part, so if you can manage to put up with the terrible acting you will be up for a treat. Otherwise I recommend fast-forwarding just to see Eli Roth get crushed by a boat.

The Green Hornet

A lot of people are not going to like Michel Gondry and (mostly) Seth Rogen's new version of 'The Green Hornet,' and that may be the best thing about it, that it pulls off paying tribute to the style of the original by showing why exactly 'The Green Hornet' isn't so popular today. I mean, does anyone really still talk about the television show from the '60's that had Bruce Lee playing Kato? More than likely not, and that's saying a lot considering that people still watch reruns of 'The Beverly Hillbillies,' 'Bewitched,' 'The Andy Griffith Show,' and 'Gilligan's Island' amongst many others. While this version isn't what everyone was hoping when they heard about yet another superhero movie amongst all of the super-dark-and-serious superhero movies of recent, it's still pretty awesome if you can get past the first fifteen or so minutes, by which time you will more than likely get caught up in the sorta-intentional-cheesy world Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg decided to "reboot".

Yes, I am a fan of Seth Rogen's, but I honestly don't consider him one of my favorite actors. He just hasn't been in many bad movies and I've gotten used to him so much that it's hard to ever hate him at all. That may be why I was able to get past the first bit of the movie, because I quickly caught on to what Rogen was going for here rather than blowing it off and trying to sound smart by complaining about how bad the script is. The dialogue is indeed horrid at some points, but for some reason I'm pretty sure it was intentional, and I'm not just saying that to vie for Rogen's sake with whatever excuse I can think of. After seeing his films plenty of times with my rambunctious friends, I understand his style pretty well. A lot people think they do, but that's because they don't realize that Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, James Franco and Jonah Hill (amongst many other actors) play a part in the general conception of Rogen's style.

There were a lot of issues with getting this movie made, but somehow they still pull it off fairly well. Gondry's direction plus some pretty great acting from Rogen, Jay Chou, and Christoph Waltz (amongst many other actors) go together wonderfully in creating this modern take of an old legend. Despite the cast, most people won't understand that the film is being made like it would be made in the '60's, only set in modern day. This version of 'The Green Hornet' is structured just as the older version would be, in terms of direction (with modern definition) and screenwriting. Essentially, the hand and the pen behind the paper are retro, but the paper is modern. The characters all act like people would today, very casual, forming a critique of the modern idea of "thuglife," vigilantism (which is as big today as it was in the '60's), and most importantly, power.

At first, I thought Christoph Waltz was going to be a one-trick pony, simply because he was turning into another Javier Bardem, but then I realized that turning into Javier Bardem is not such a bad thing and that Waltz's performance as the villain in this film is top notch, although it is (excusably) not better than his portrayal of the Jew Hunter in 'Inglourious Basterds.' I also thought at first that Seth Rogen was a bad choice (despite my favoritism of his movies) for the role of the Green Hornet, let alone the screenwriting privileges, and that Gondry was only good for sci-fi comedies, and then I realized that I kinda wanted to see what Seth Rogen could come up with (with his Superbad/Pineapple Express partner Evan Goldberg), and that 'The Green Hornet' pretty much, when set in a modern world, is a sci-fi comedy (mixed with action), considering that hi-tech weaponry (Batman's superpowers) is considered science-fiction and that the acting of the '60's is considered humorous today, which is why no one still watches the older versions in the first place.

The one thing I loved the most about this movie was the action. If I were grading this movie on the effects used to elevate the action, especially during scenes that exploited Kato's advanced fighting skills in a very retro style, I would give it an A+. It's easy to see how the action plays a part in the movie when aesthetically considering Gondry's treatment of it, which is just like he treats the romance in 'Eternal Sunshine,' as an outside factor that becomes the driving force in the world of the sci-fi comedy.

Rogen's character, Britt Reid, is a spoiled rich kid who thinks the only way to impress his father is by doing the right thing, which he lets get to his head when he is punished for fighting bullies at a young age (enter action as the driving force). Since Reid's initial attempt failed and he is naturally a slacker, he doesn't have a care in the world for anything besides partying, until his dad dies and he no longer has anyone to impress. He quickly learns that he had been looking at things the wrong way when his coffee suddenly sucks (a result of him firing his father's "butlers"), and he finds out that Kato, one of the fired butlers who made the coffee, is actually the answer to all of his problems; the resolution being the use of his newly acquired newspaper company (from his father) and Kato to fight crime, an aspiration that was literally and figuratively (you'll see what I mean) taken from him as a child. The films works in the same way Rogen's mind works, the wrong way. That is the art of it, although it is also the reason a majority of people will not like it.

So don't be mad if you don't like it. It's only for the same reason you aren't bat-nuts over anything else 'Hornet'-related, and I'm not saying that if you liked the old version you'll like this one as well. It's really up for grabs, like I said earlier. I'm not guaranteeing you'll like it, but if you understand Seth Rogen, Michel Gondry and the idea of an artistic adaptation, you may enjoy this as much as I did. I only take a little credit away from it for all the trouble I had to go through explaining it.

The A-Team
The A-Team(2010)

You know those annoying action figures that make noises when you walk past them? I'm not talking about the ones that say "PRESS HERE." The ones I'm talking about go off without prior notice, and the results are usually surprising and almost immediately irritating, especially if they continue past five seconds without letting you know how to turn them off. The noises the toy was making didn't even sound real in the first place, but you know some ten-year old kid somewhere in the world is having a blast with this same toy, and it has been that way for years.

I see the 'A-Team' movie just about the same way I see that toy. While it has an appealing cast, they don't turn out to be all that appealing, unless you dig metro-macho bromance. That's what I would call whatever chemistry it is that the group of male actors demonstrate in this film, which is often annoying, overtly immature and just too awkwardly dull. I was able to put up with 'Transformers,' but the action in 'The A-Team' wasn't enough to make up for the cliche story and the creepy laugh-at-violence-and-explosions vibe that this so-called "heroic" team puts on throughout the movie.

Shrek Forever After

Like most people over the age of thirteen, I hated 'Shrek the Third.' At that point, I was so disappointed that I almost lost all the respect that I ever had for the 'Shrek' franchise. It was one of the first of many movies from the sequel-pumping machine that is Dreamworks to sell out to the brainless sequel craze. There are a lot more to come from various franchises, so keep a look out.

When I first heard about a fourth 'Shrek' being made, my only thought at the time was to just ignore this child's attraction, but then from early reviews I heard that this installment would be the last of the 'Shrek' franchise, and was mostly making up for the disappointing closure that had initially been 'Shrek the Third.' In that case I actually wanted to see it, just to see if it did make up for that mess, and surprisingly, it did just that.

The story is more coherent this time around, bringing in Rumpelstiltskin, a villain that's heavily, and refreshingly reminiscent of Lord Farquaad from the first 'Shrek'. The humor is once again the same as it was before, with the toilet gestures that gained such a big audience for the franchise in the first place.

However, as easy to follow as the story is, it still isn't as awesome as the previous ones, although I'm not going to bash it that much, because it does succeed in re-gaining whatever love you may have had for this franchise before the third movie tore it to shreds. The ending feels a little rushed and too cliche for Shrek, the jokes are sometimes a little crappy, and the soundtrack is a little cheesy, but it's tolerable. There are some funny moments that will keep you laughing for days. At least they did for me.

So did 'Shrek Forever After' make up for 'Shrek the Third'? Yes, but it didn't live up to the first two films, although it was close enough. Was it the closure the Shrek franchise deserved though? Not by a long shot, but it's good enough to watch at least once, if you care enough.

The Dilemma
The Dilemma(2011)

If you can't spot manufactured garbage like 'The Dilemma' from a mile away, then this is for you. Otherwise, don't bother filling your memory with this horridness. I have no more hope for Vince Vaughn after having to put up with 'Fred Claus', 'Four Christmases', and 'Couple's Retreat' (I would include 'The Breakup' since most people hate it but I kinda liked it), and Kevin James just never won me over. He's way past the point of being so much of a joke that it's pathetic how many people think he's actually funny. And wow, they really put Channing Tatum in it. That'll win you over a few million dollars from Jersey-Shorian teens. Guess they couldn't afford Robert Pattinson?

The Last Airbender

I didn't have high hopes for 'The Last Airbender', but I still had some hope, somewhere. Now that hope is gone, as the film turns out to be as impressive as the 'Mortal Kombat' movies, which were awesome when I was six. The good news is, the effects are great. The bad news is, the acting and elementary-school-level dialogue is more than likely going to turn you off, that is of course unless you are in elementary school. But of course you're not because you're reading film reviews.

Why did I have high hopes? It's not like M. Night Shyamalan is still a good director. I guess I was just all caught up with the overload of "realistic" adaptations of just about every franchise there is. I think I kind of expected them to somehow make the 'Avatar' series (he couldn't call the movie that because of James Cameron's cockblock) realistic, but instead we get a very close adaptation of the show, which isn't what most people will want to see.

The actuality is that Shyamalan definitely had little control over this movie, although it's not like we really trust him anymore anyway. It's basically like asking a cook to make the best steak ever with dogfood. You can tell that he put his all into the film, but Nickelodeon's control is too apparent, as this is obviously targeted at the children who are able to sit through the animated television series, which is also as mind-numbingly lame, at least in the case of the dialogue.

My advice is to skip it, unless you don't mind Disney-channel-worthy acting and a choppy story (that we're somehow expected to just understand even though it is barely explained; remember, it's for kids) as long as you get those state-of-the-art, epic special effects. Like, he totally lifts these giant waves and it's all like this epic orchestra music is playing and it's totally epic. Catch my drift?

Enter the Void (Soudain le vide)
½

Remember Joe Rogan, the host of Fear Factor? If you don't, I know you remember the show, because everyone watched it. Everyone seems to love watching people do crazy (and sometimes disturbing) things, which is why I think everyone will want to see the super-psychedelic thriller 'Enter the Void', although the majority of it I would be more than afraid to watch with my mom.

The reason I mention Joe Rogan is because he is a major advocate of the psychedelic drug DMT, which is one of the most potent of all drugs, and just happens to be the key to Enter the Void. If you don't know anything about the drug's effects, I suggest you do some research. There are even some videos on Youtube of Rogan talking about DMT that are pretty entertaining. Visionary director Gaspar Noe comes off the slate of his previous chiller 'Irreversible' and directs his "dream project," which ultimately comes off as one of the worst DMT trips imaginable and results as the ultimate modern tragedy.

The film follows Oscar, an American drug dealer living in Tokyo. His mentor, who appears to be a wacked-out hippie, suggests that Oscar lay off the drugs when he approaches him after tripping on DMT and asks for something stronger. He tells Oscar about The Tibetan Book of the Dead and then suggests that he look into spirituality rather than drugs. He goes into explaining his idea of the afterlife, which is rather interesting, considering that it explains everything that happens in the movie after this point.

Sadly, Oscar is killed at this point, but of course that is the point of the film, which is shot entirely in first-person. That's weird to comprehend, I know, especially since the person we're following dies early in the film, but trust me it goes into territory I've rarely if ever seen in movies before. We see Oscar journey into the afterlife, in which he relives moments of his life in a 'Slaugherhouse-Five' style, unable to control what moments are relived, whether they are good, or in this case, really really bad.

What will put off a lot of viewers is the sexual content of the film, as well as Oscar's relatively strange relationship with his sister, and an ending that will offend almost everyone I know. The good thing is that it is all intentional, of course, as Gaspar Noe takes us on this bad trip that we cannot stop ourselves from watching, simply because deep down we don't want to, regardless of how disturbing it gets. It is a masterful portrait of this director's take on the afterlife, as well as a superb illustration of a DMT trip for anyone who is interested.

In the end, 'Enter the Void' feels like a mixture of 'Requiem for a Dream,' 'Momento,' 'The Fountain,' and 'The Life Before Her Eyes.' The latter of which this is most similar to, and stars Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood, but kind of went unnoticed. However, you'll see where I'm coming from when I say that this is just as great as any of those great films, if not better. The camera angles are astounding with long tracking shots and eerie psychedelic visuals that take you on a mindblowing ride, leaving you with the feeling that perhaps you had been looking at life the wrong way. That's what DMT does to a person.

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The King's Speech

What perfect timing for Ted Williams, the homeless, golden-voiced ex-radio-broadcaster (I hope you've heard of him by now), to get all of his sudden fame, giving me something relevant to relate the success of 'The King's Speech' to. Here's the thing: a great voice will get attention. Just look at how Hitler convinced an entire nation to follow him. Look at President Obama's success due to his eloquent speaking abilities. Ted Williams got famous in less than a week because he sounds just like John Tesh and has the charm of Jesus. Luckily, King George VI (Colin Firth) was already famous because of his thriving family tree; otherwise his stammer would've gotten him nowhere.

I'd consider myself somewhat of an ignorant American when it comes to history (foreign history especially), so I knew very little to nothing about the events portrayed in 'The King's Speech'. One could say that the film is predictable, which I would hope to be the case if it's based on a true story, but with little knowledge of King George VI's speech impediment being elaborated on in any other film (that I'm aware of), it makes this film less predictable for viewers, like myself, who aren't aware of this story.

The story is simple. The British King George V is dying, and he asks for his son George VI (they refer to him as Bertie actually) to deliver a speech to a massive crowd. The only thing is that his stammer makes the entire occasion an embarrassment for everyone. Good thing he's second in line to inherit the throne. Regardless, his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) enlists the help of a lower-classed speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), whom Bertie does not get along with at first. When his father dies and his brother Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) takes over as King, the Shakespeare allusions (mostly to Richard III) soar left and right, but you'll have to watch and listen closely to catch all of them. Since Edward lives the partying lifestyle, his "highness" becomes too much for him to handle and he eventually passes the throne to his little brother. It is then that the show begins to intensify.

See, at the time World War II was just beginning, and there was no time for Bertie to pussyfoot around and make Britain look bad. With the help of Lionel, he learns more than just how to talk properly, but also about the value of respect, power, and most importantly, friendship. As the two work together we get to see Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in what may be both of the actor's best performances, although I have seen many other amazing roles from the two.

Some may complain about what may seem like dragging scenes in some spots, and if so, then I assure you, Yogi Bear is the perfect film for you. The film is all about the patience required to achieve greatness, and it's all worth it in the end. Honestly, I don't know anyone I wouldn't recommend this to. The R rating is all for a few incidents where Bertie drops the F-bomb a good number of times, but in a very humorous manner, so don't worry about anything else unexpectedly R-worthy. 'The King's Speech' is incredibly educational, surprisingly intelligent, beautifully shot and scored, wonderfully directed, and perfectly casted. I can't say anything bad about it. It deserves anything it wins this awards season, and I'll say it loud if I have to.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)

If 'Black Swan' was directed by David Fincher, it would be called 'Ballet Club,' and it would be a thematic sequel to 'Fight Club.' However, it wasn't directed by Fincher, but instead by Darren Aronofsky, which explains why it is probably the most well-directed movie of the year. I can't say that it is the best film of the year, which I believe is 'The Social Network' because it is both good and culturally relevant, but Aronofsky's skill is at its peak in 'Black Swan,' and it sure is something to marvel. I believe Aronofsky exquisitely directed the most perfectly structured and beautifully told story of any film I have seen this year. I still give major props to Fincher, as well as David O Russell ('The Fighter') and Christopher Nolan ('Inception').

Natalie Portman steals the screen for the majority of the film, brilliantly portraying the fragile ballerina Nina Sayers. After winging the role of the Swan Queen in the upcoming show of the popular Swan Lake dance, Nina struggles to move out of the shadow of her nutty, sheltering mother, while rejecting the sexual advances and dark nature of her extremely professional instructor, all the while preparing for a performance she wants to make perfect. Seeing 'Tron Legacy' and 'The Fighter' before this (I saw all three in one day) helped keep me up with this whole perfection fiasco, which is the entire theme of 'Black Swan.'

The most brilliant thing about 'Black Swan' is that it actually adapts the story of 'Swan Lake' into Nina's story that we see in the film. Since I'm a guy, I know very little about 'Swan Lake,' but Aronofsky obviously wasn't targeting all females with this film, so he throws in a summary about halfway in. It is then that you should be able to pick up that everything Nina is going through is a literal translation of the 'Swan Lake' story. This is even easier to notice with the orchestra music that plays throughout the movie during scenes that would not normally have music playing in the background. Most guys won't find this information fascinating at all, but hey, we get to see two hot chicks making out. Or do we?

Aronofsky does a lot more with this film than you'll probably be able to notice after seeing it once. This includes having Natalie Portman always wearing white while Mila Kunis always wears black, to represent Portman as the Swan and Kunis as the dark side, although this symbolism is all in Nina's head. Her reluctance to push everyone else out of her life shows as we continually see her trying to keep her mother out of her room, as well as her attempts to impress her instructor while failing to understand what he wants out of her. Her struggle to impress two perfectionists drives her to the point of insanity, and the balance of the two characters on Nina's shoulders represents the struggle of the "swan" with it's dark side, which we see leads to a surprisingly extravagant conclusion.

I would say that Aronofsky was very Fincher-esque with the psychological mindf**k, Kubrickian with the perfectionist structure of the film (especially with the bombastically loud orchestral soundtrack), or even Tarantinoish with the way he incorporated symbolism every which way (as 'Inglourious Basterds' did), but if you have seen any of this director's past films, you will understand that this is all Aronofsky. While it is indeed perfect, and very symbolic, it is also very dark and never afraid to push the limits, just as his other films are. 'Black Swan' as a whole represents the beauty of Aronofsky's dark natured filmography, although some will not like it since the limits the film pursues to push are not the type fans of Disney's 'Ice Princess' would've expected. It actually thrilled me to see many of the young girls in the theater covering their eyes throughout the film, just so I could assure myself that I wasn't watching some Hannah Montana manure.

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Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)
½

I saw this in theaters on the same day I saw 'The Fighter' and 'Black Swan.' It was rough but at least they were all good. But on to 'Tron Legacy,' which I know very little about to begin with. The only way I would say 'Tron Legacy' was my favorite of the three was if I was six, maybe seven years old. So what do I think of 'Tron Legacy'? Come to think of it, there's really nothing to think about 'Tron Legacy.' That is, compared to the original, which we're all trying to get our hands on at this point. All anyone hopes for is it to top the original, and I hear this coming from people who haven't even seen the original! That's all sequels try to do these days, which is top the story and have twice the action. It's never like the 'Godfather' trilogies, where the sequels simply add to the original's story by giving everyone what they want to see. Well, sometimes it is, but not often.

'Tron Legacy' is one of those rare sequels, although it doesn't really give us a lot of a story to make it all that important to share. It manages to stretch very little information over the course of two hours; don't worry about the runtime though, it doesn't really seem that long. Basically the story is: Sam Flynn, the prodigal son of Kevin Flynn, the creator of Tron, goes into "The Grid," the virtual world from the first Tron, and finds his long-lost-dad (Jeff Bridges). He races bikes and plays a few games of ultimate frisbee with the drone-ish inhabitants of The Grid, and then attempts to get his dad out, while maintaining a serious face throughout, despite the fact that the long-lost-dad frequently acts like "The Dude." Let's not forget, uh whatshername, played by Olivia Wilde. She's the hot chick with the same haircut Natalie Portman had in 'The Professional.' Sam tries to get her out too (I don't blame him), and although she seems like a character of little importance, she's really the most important thing about it. You'll see what I mean, or maybe you'll find the crazy techno mirage of orange and blue more entertaining (I wouldn't blame you for that either).

What 'Tron Legacy's purpose seems to be is that of reminding us of the original, in that it defines the essence of this fictional world. We aren't fully expected to see the original (trust me, it isn't really necessary), so we share the same perspective of Sam Flynn, who hasn't seen the first movie either. The story of the first one is pretty cool (even though critics complained about that too), so all 'Tron Legacy' does is give us the breath-taking digital world of The Grid that wasn't possible to create in 1982. The story of 'Tron Legacy' is kinda cool in that it makes Kevin Flynn into a metaphorical "God" of The Grid as well as expanding that biblical parable in other areas, although some people might not find that cool. I did. Really, you should only be seeing this for the special effects. Or the Daft Punk soundtrack, you might be seeing it for that (once again, I don't blame you). Plain and simple, the message of 'Tron Legacy' is: technology is taking over our lives, and Disney warned us 28 years ago. Now who's up for a crazy awesome light show?

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Robin Hood
Robin Hood(2010)

I don't feel like Mel Brooks' 'Robin Hood: Men In Tights' (1993) was trying to top 1991's 'Robin Hood: Prince of Theives,' and I don't feel that Ridley Scott's 'Robin Hood' was trying to top either of those, or even the Disney cartoon from 1973 (probably my favorite one). These are all films that approached the story of the mythical (but possibly real) Robin Hood in a different manner. While Scott's version is criticized for lacking the fancy-ness of the traditional Robin Hood, is that such a bad thing?

There have actually been over a hundred instances in film and television where Robin Hood has made an appearance, so in an age of film where realism sells (i.e. The Dark Knight, Casino Royale), isn't a realistic version of this classic story what we all wanted? If so, then why didn't everyone like it? One could assume that a realistic perspective of medieval action (also in Valhalla Rising) just isn't as popular as a theatrical (Lord of the Rings) perspective. It's a bold sacrifice Scott makes for his film, although some of the characters slip into 'Gladiator' territory.

Russell Crowe plays the legendary Robin Hood as he is fighting in the Crusades, part of Robin's story that is only mentioned rather than shown in other films. He's somewhat of a "true" person, one who demonstrates good character (in a Christ-like manner, ironically) while fighting for King Richard. The parallel of Robin's ideals compared to King Richard's fuels the beginning of the movie, until Robin moves on to other adventures, where his ideals once again conflict with those of other's. The action's really great, by the way.

While Robin knows that killing any non-Christian (the basic idea of the Crusades) is not exactly the most moral path, he also knows that Richard's choice is the "right thing to do" compared to what others in power are doing. While he sides with the "Christians" he personally sets an example simply by being a just person, which is ultimately what we all want to be, so it's easy to see how Robin became so popular. After Richard dies and Robin Hood must return home, he clashes with others who oppose Richard's throne, and we come closer to some of the stories we're more familiar with, although there never seems to be a central villain. Robin Hood's central obstacle really seems to be wooing Marian (Cate Blanchett).

I honestly enjoyed seeing Robin Hood portrayed as a real person with real problems while he is still seen by others as this grand, noble figure-icon. I see Robin Hood almost like I see Jesus. Maybe he was real, maybe he wasn't. Maybe he was this super awesome noble guy, maybe he was just a normal guy. Rest aside, he was a celebrity of his time, and since some are saying he was actually real, this is the best image we are going to get of the guy (to date). Pop culture always seems to obscure the truth, so I can see how Robin's image changed so drastically over the centuries.

While I can't say Scott's version is my favorite, as I enjoyed the other three 'Robin Hood' films I mentioned earlier much more, I'm not going to say it's bad. I dig the search for truth, others find it boring for some reason. I suppose it is kind of boring when the plot is very scattered if existent and there never seems to be any distinct direction the story was headed. Regardless, it's still fun to hear a bunch of these true philosophical/politically-driven ideals the people from these medieval times believed in.

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Fireproof
Fireproof(2008)
½

The majority of critics did not hate this because they are evil people, they hated it because it was truly a bad movie. Yes, it means well, but don't all movies? It's not like all of the movies that have received negative reviews were made with intentions of sucking. Everyone who makes a movie wants their movie to be good, but what separates the good from the bad is the way the movie is presented. If all movies were judged based on their intentions, they would all get positive reviews and there would be no point to reviewing movies in the first place. So if you're going to give this movie a good review just because it had good intentions, then I hope you aren't getting paid to do so.

There is an art to filmmaking, and to say that this and any other propaganda-oriented Christian film like it (Facing the Giants, Left Behind, Secrets of Jonathan Sperry) is as good as films getting nominated for Academy Awards is a blasphemous accusation. I'll respect your opinion if you enjoyed this movie, but if you take out the Jesus-talk, would people still be praising it so much?

Let's say American History X was actually a bad movie, but all the skinheads in the world still loved it and praised it as the best movie ever just because it had a good message (I actually don't see why they would be praising it but it was the best example I could think of). That's how Fireproof is. A good film consists of good directing, acting, story, dialog, photography, sound, and many other things, and when a movie like this is praised just because it had a "good message," that's just a slap in the face to all of the directors who actually put forth a lot of time and effort to make an exceptional movie but get less attention.

People like 'Fireproof' because there are not other movies quite like it, but there's a reason for that. You can't have a story about a failing marriage because everyone knows where it's going, and if it doesn't go in that direction then we're gonna have another 'Break Up.' Shove the "word of God" in there and it only becomes even more annoying, but people still love it because bad acting can't stop the "word". If you're one of those using this movie as a source of therapy for you and your significant other (as I've heard many are doing), I'll be praying for you.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1
½

The seventh installment of the Harry Potter franchise starts with seven Harry's leaving Privet Drive. If you saw the 2nd movie (which hopefully you saw them all because these movies aren't stand-alone ever), you'll know how this works. Ron, Hermione and four others disguise themselves as Harry in order to get our hero out of his home and to safety. This scene is amazingly intense, and that was my first sign that I wasn't going to have a lot of trouble with this film, although I did sometimes.

Actually, I'm incapable of giving any Harry Potter movie a negative review, just because it's almost impossible to ruin these incredible stories. That doesn't mean I won't say anything bad about the movie though. While it is definitely the most well-acted, beautifully filmed, emotionally deep Harry Potter film to date, it is also the weakest of the series to date, simply because it is only an introduction to the highly anticipated Part 2. Imagine the previous six films as if they were 'The Matrix.' In that sense, this film is 'The Matrix Reloaded' and Part 2 will be 'Revolutions,' although I'm hoping Part 2 won't be as disappointing. Part 1 starts out with a lot of intense action but starts to lag, for a running time of over 2 hours, trying to fit in details that will give a better understanding for Part 2, but so much time is basically wasted stalling for the abrupt break/ending that it just makes this one missing something, although we all know what that is.

As an introduction, they somehow find it necessary to introduce literally every character in the story, just as it was done in the book (although it was okay there). Even though I read this particular book three times, the mentioning of so many characters almost confused me, so I know it wouldn't be any more helpful for those who haven't read the books. This aspect makes the story somewhat hard to follow, even if it is stretched out unnecessarily. That being said, they could've saved time by not introducing so many characters and shortening some slow scenes, and then Part 1 and 2 could've been one movie.

I know they pulled it off to look like it wasn't all for the money, but it's difficult for me to believe that. Simply because they were separated, I don't know if I will enjoy Part 2 as much as I would've if it the two parts were combined, and since it's difficult to see either one as stand-alone movies I can already say that neither one will be the best films of the franchise, although they are the most intense. I'll give it some credit, because Harry Potter is just so damn cool, but I don't see myself appreciating the split any time soon. Maybe it has something to do with everyone always "wanting more" and actually giving them more, but that doesn't mean another cliffhanger.

Aside from all that, be on the look out for an awesome from-out-of-nowhere animated sequence and a topless makeout scene!

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The Town
The Town(2010)

'The Town' runs on a very simple premise, executed particularly well by Ben Affleck, the star and director of this film. Affleck plays Doug MacRay, the leader of a group of bank robbers in a small Boston-area town, and it turns out that they're no amateurs; in fact, they've been doing this for years. It's this small town's underground crime family, an accepted aspect of their culture. Doug decides he wants out of the "family business" after falling in love with the hostage from his previous robbery, and this marks the beginning of a dastardly explosive chain of events that lead up to a colossal conclusion. While there are some plotholes here and there, they're barely noticeable since the film moves in a rapid "Nolan-esque" pace.

Most of the characters in 'The Town' are pretty stereotypical and the story is somewhat cliché, so why did I like it? Probably the same reason everyone else liked it: it's just so much fun! The stereotypical characters don't end up so stereotypical when they're portrayed by an outstanding cast (including Jeremy Renner (Hurt Locker), Blake Lively, Jon Hamm and Chris Cooper), and the story moves by so quickly that we have no time to argue with any implausibilities. It's a genius technique that's being used more and more lately, most notably so by 'The Dark Knight' and 'Inception' director Christopher Nolan. It's easy to get lost in these films if you think too hard, which is why you should only focus on what's simply being presented. It's what films are for, and both Nolan and Affleck demonstrate this superbly.

Now here's me thinking too hard, because some things in 'The Town' were indeed confusing. For instance, if these guys have been robbing banks for years, why are they still poor? Where is all of the money going? Why do the banks continue to have poor security? Why are the feds just now catching up? The way these questions are avoided shows a surreal style of realism that is nothing short of spectacular. While these holes are avoided, we're expected to just roll with it, and if you do just that, it's definitely going to be one of the most entertaining films you see this year.

The whole "backing out" plot is a classic that has been somewhat overused throughout film history, but it is handled well in 'The Town.' Doug represents an inevitable "flaw" that always marks the end of an ongoing system, that system being the success of the robberies. When one specimen, in this case Doug, decides to turn against the system, it is a break from the conventional, what critics look for in movies, character development! Affleck plays a believable character going through a mental struggle to obey or betray his "family traditions, and Renner shines as his brother, a tough guy who sometimes makes ignorant decisions. Honestly though, he's one of the most intimidating film characters I've seen this year. Like I said before, they're mostly stereotypical, but they're acted out very well.

I'm a sucker for good heist films, and this one goes down with the newer 'Ocean's Eleven' and 'Dog Day Afternoon' as one of my favorites. It's loud, intense, and action-packed, not to mention some of the coolest robbery sequences I've ever seen in film. If you want something smart and philosophical, this wouldn't be my first recommendation, although I wouldn't say it's not smart. But if you're down for something that never lets go of your attention, then this is a great choice.

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Grown Ups
Grown Ups(2010)

If Hollywood were (metaphorically) a fast food restaurant that served cheap-but-tasty-yet-fattening films, 'Grown Ups' would surely be on the value menu. While there was already little promise to a film that consisted of five of some of the most annoying comedian-actors, there was room for actual comedy. However, nothing felt like anything new. It's the same burger we've been eating for years, except it's got a little some of this and that, which isn't much, and if anything it's bad for your health.

The film is about these "grown ups", played by Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Kevin James, who are childhood pals obligated to return home for the funeral of their old coach. They basically spend the whole time reminiscing on the "good ol days" and having a "good ol time" while never shedding a light on what the film is trying to say, which isn't much of anything we haven't already heard.

I was hoping that Adam Sandler would've carried the movie, but he seemed to be the most boring of the "big five" in this bro-fest. Really, they just sat around and laughed for half of the movie, and the things they laughed at were only family-oriented crude clichés of jokes we've seen and heard so so so many times. Maybe the point of the film was that these well-known actors were, in a sense, looking back at the things that made their previous successes so funny. To me, though, that just sounds like a sales gimmick, but people are prone to buy "Greatest Hits" albums even when they already own all of the songs on the album.

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Megamind
Megamind(2010)
½

For now let's not compare 'Megamind' to 'Despicable Me'. And let's leave the whole Dreamworks vs. Pixar discussion out of this as well, for now. Instead let's just look at 'Megamind.' To sum it up in one sentence, it's basically a somewhat loose retelling of the Superman story from the villain's perspective, which is not necessarily a bad thing like some would assume. It doesn't rip of any popular storylines in the way that 'Avatar' did, although it does have enough clichés to make it pretty predictable. Once again, that's not a bad thing.

The story itself is all about the characters and how their lives are affected by the typical balance between good and evil in a "superhero" world, and by that I mean the balance between the hero, the villain, and the predictable "damsel in distress." 'Megamind' shares this theme with 'Unbreakable' and 'The Dark Knight,' but it never really gets as close to accomplishing more than those films did since it is just a children's movie. It does come come close, though, but more attention is given to the art and special effects than the story so we get a musing of interesting ideas with a conventional conclusion that leaves 'Megamind' with a spicy aftertaste of mediocrity.

Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell) is evacuated from his dying home planet (very much like Superman) and sent to Earth as an infant, missing out on his parents' last words, which gives him a lifelong confusion over what his ultimate purpose is. Metroman (voiced by Brad Pitt) is also sent to Earth as an infant from a neighboring planet, and Megamind acknowledges this as the start of the two characters' intense rivalry. While Metroman gets all of the attention on Earth as the "hero," Megamind assumes that it is his purpose in life to be the "villain," although he lacks the supernatural powers to match Metroman. It's his "mad scientist"-like mind that puts him ahead of Metroman though, as he finally takes the crowd favorite out of the picture after many failed, clichéd attempts. It is then that he realizes just how much he had let his jealousy of Metroman's fame get to his head, and he tries to make a better name for himself. However, he still thinks he has to be a "villain" and creates a superhero to rival himself, which proves to be more than he could handle.

There is a trick up Megamind's sleeve that makes it an above-average Dreamworks film, and that is the many twists that keep the audiences from feeling that the story is predictable, although after the twists are revealed our predictions are mostly accurate. The humor in 'Megamind' is mostly the awkward humor that's present in Will Ferrell's adult comedies (Megamind is literally as arrogantly gaudy as Ron Burgundy), as well as some pop-culture references that aren't as annoying as they were in 'Monsters vs. Aliens' (which also shares the "confused identity" theme but fails to fall through), but there are sometimes long drags where the humor is just childish and not as appealing as it could've been. And let me make one thing clear: I hate when movies end with all of the characters dancing and singing along to a song as if it's not awkward and possibly the most cliché way to end a children's movie. Pixar hasn't done it yet, and I think that's a good enough sign that they avoid it for a reason. I won't rant, though, because I didn't hate 'Megamind.'

The chemistry between the characters is excellent, mostly because they are rehashed versions of previously existing characters in this genre, but the voice actors make it work. Tina Fey is great as Roxanne, the "damsel," while Jonah Hill is pretty good as Titan, the "hero" that Megamind creates halfway into the movie. I like superhero films, as I figure most people do, and although 'Megamind' never really takes itself as seriously as 'Despicable Me' does, it still succeeds by giving these stereotypical characters actual motives and emotions that influence their actions. And although many people are going to compare it to 'Despicable Me,' as they are both from the perspective of supervillains, 'Megamind' covers a completely different area, although I wouldn't go as far to say that it was better than 'Despicable Me.' While 'Megamind' isn't as stellar as 'Shrek' or 'Dragon' or even 'Kung Fu Panda,' it's still a good effort from Dreamworks, and that's usually a good thing. At least they didn't go through with calling it 'Oober-mind.'

Machete
Machete(2010)

Here's a film that was hyped up before it was even in production, and more than likely you know what I'm talking about, but for those who don't, I won't go into too much detail because I'm sure every critic mentions it.

'Machete' originated as a well-done fake trailer that appeared in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's 'Grindhouse' double-feature in 2007. Rodriguez's half of the film was 'Planet Terror,' which paid homage to the original zombie films of previous decades, while it also made fun of them. 'Machete' is very similar to 'Planet Terror' in that it never takes itself seriously (too seriously at least) but has enough entertainment value to prove itself exceptional.

To truly understand 'Machete,' you must understand Robert Rodriguez. The guy is a very peculiar director, and I say that because he seems to have two distinct filmmaking styles that are completely different from each other. One I'm not very fond of is his childish style that is used in the 'Spy Kids' films, as well as in 'Sharkboy and Lava Girl' and 'Shorts,' the latter of which I loathe. Rodriguez's other style is one that places him amongst the ranks of his pal Quentin Tarantino for his ravishingly entertaining style and attention to over-the-top-ness and violence (Don't think I'm saying that any of his films are better than Tarantino's, though, although some may be better than 'Jackie Brown.'). Surely you've seen 'Sin City,' 'From Dusk Til Dawn,' or one of the 'Mariachi' films. If you have then you'll know what I mean. These films exist in a world of their own and have laws of their own, or sometimes none at all. Their ability to break reality for the sake of entertainment keeps audiences from saying, "That could never happen," and creates a world of unpredictability that keeps us glued to the screen.

For a film running on the tagline "They fucked with the wrong Mexican," one would really have to be an idiot to take 'Machete' seriously. However, as "immature" as this film may be, do not doubt its overall value, because it's as big a film for the Hispanic race as 'Inglourious Basterds' was for Jews, meaning that beneath all of the violence and cheesy one-liners that reek of '80s action films, 'Machete' is actually very meaningful. How that relates to the seriousness of the film is up to the viewer to decide.

Danny Trejo is utterly glorious as the title character, an ex-federale who wishes to avenge the murder of his wife and daughter, although his wooden subtlety makes it seem as if their death doesn't bother him as much as it should, but maybe that shows how strong he can be. After all, he is the face of Mexico.

Rodriguez makes it apparent that there really is no central plot to the movie and that Machete "improvises" as he goes. This adds wonders to the film's unpredictability.

What's so great about 'Machete' is its ability to continuously surprise us as the film unfolds, and at that point it's obvious that the action and the humor that follows it is all this film runs on. Without a plot it's extremely difficult for a film to maintain its audience, but 'Machete' pulls through magnificently.

It's almost part of the humor of the film that Robert DeNiro is the "conservative-American" villain. A lot of the characters in the movie, including Senator McLaughlin (DeNiro), are actually very symbolic of real events, people, and previous action films that have warped America's perspective of its own history. To what extent any character symbolizes something varies. For instance, Michelle Rodriguez plays She, an obvious play on "Che" Gueverra (look him up), while Machete is obviously supposed to be a symbol for Mexico's attitude towards the U.S.

The movie works as an all-out war between all of these symbolic figures, and all of the characters become so intertwined and point their guns every which way to the point that recognizing a good or bad side is almost impossible. As serious as it isn't, 'Machete' builds up to its final scene almost as well as 'Inglourious Basterds' did, but it's somewhat disappointing that it didn't live up as well. Don't get me wrong, though, it was still entertaining, but when I saw Machete running a motorcycle (with a gatlin gun strapped to it) out of an explosion, I didn't expect that sequence to last ten seconds. In fact, the entire "final battle" seemed to be just a bunch of people showing up a the same spot and shooting whoever they wanted. I suppose it's funny, like it's the punchline of a joke, but I was really confused when Lindsay Lohan (yeah) shows up in a nun's outfit and just starts firing a SMG. Who's she shooting??? Although (like I said before) the film is never meant to be taken seriously, this still wasn't the ending I had expected. I guess that goes for unpredictability. Is the conflict between the U.S. and Mexico supposed to be this messy though? Maybe so.

All in all, 'Machete' is surprisingly one of Rodriguez's best films to date, which is ironic when seeing how it originated. The action is extreme, and extremely off-the-wall, the acting is... well, appropriate, the direction in general is fantastic, and the soundtrack is pretty awesome, making 'Machete' one of the better movies this summer has offered, although I don't see it being mentioned at the Oscars.

Trick 'r Treat

Imagine a greatest hits album of Halloween songs, and I'm talking about the ones like "Monster Mash" and "One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater." Now imagine a cover album of that greatest hits album, and all of the bands on it (doing the covers) are your favorite bands. 'Trick 'r Treat' is that cover album (the cover album doesn't actually exist, sorry), displaying homages to old horror classics left and right, using the day of Halloween as the backdrop for the stories being told.

The nostalgia I got from watching this movie made me think of how, as a child, I was confused when horror movies were released at a time of the year that wasn't close to Halloween. I thought Halloween was the epitome of horror, and there was no point to watching a scary movie if it wasn't October. Of course I grew up and realized that horror movies weren't strictly made for the sake of being "Halloween movies" (except for 'Saw' and the actual 'Halloween' films) but I still get irritated when Michael Bay releases some of his "horror films" in the springtime. It's just not good business strategy. All of that aside, I found 'Trick 'r Treat' exciting, as it was actually a scary movie about Halloween, and it was well-done too.

The film itself follows a non-linear plot very much like how 'Pulp Fiction' did, in a sense that certain characters are alive at the end of the film, although they died in an earlier scene. However, while 'Pulp Fiction' avoided showing the same sequence twice (for the most part), 'Trick 'r Treat' does repeat sequences, although they're from different perspectives, which makes it somewhat enjoyable since it enforces different reactions (over the same scene) from the audience. And another thing, while 'Pulp Fiction' had a more solid story with less characters involved, 'Trick 'r Treat' acts like a series of short stories (like tracks on that greatest hits album) that are all connected in some way, moving from one homage to another each time.

In the end we have zombies, slashers, werewolves, vampires, demons, and children eating poisoned candy all in one awesome tribute to a holiday that, like Christmas and many other holidays, is losing it's traditional values. Most of the incidents in the film actually revolve around the idea that people have forgotten the true meaning of Halloween, and for their insolence they are punished. While it isn't really the "scariest" movie I've ever seen, and the acting isn't always that great (who says it wasn't intended?), it's just as (if not more) enjoyable of a Halloween movie as, well, the original 'Halloween.' The story sticks to the fundamentals of good horror, which means the subject itself creeps you out more than it makes you jump out of your seat, and that's why I say this is a must-see for everyone, especially if it is that time of the year.

A Nightmare on Elm Street
½

I remember at a young age I didn't want to watch any of the original 'Nightmare' films because the idea of Freddy Krueger gave me actual nightmares, or at least the thought of him just gave me the worst creeps possible. As I grew up, though, he became somewhat of a joke. I can remember seeing at least three of the original 'Nightmare' installments when I was at that young age, but I had pretty much subconsciously avoided watching any of the movies until news of this remake emerged. Then I figured I'd go ahead and watch the original one so I could compare the two. After seeing that one at my age now, it's completely different. Yeah it was still kinda scary, but it all seemed a bit cheesy. However, the character of Freddy Krueger became an icon for a reason, and it's not because of the sequels. This guy with the burned face and the "claws" was just as unique of a character as, say, Hannibal Lector. You just can't forget him. But with this remake, his character (as it is portrayed in the film) is as forgettable as the Tooth Fairy in 'Darkness Falls.'

I thought the first trailer actually looked pretty sick, and I was a little hyped despite everyone's (including my own) rant that "these remakes gotta stop!" When I saw that Michael Bay was involved I began to doubt it, but it still had that 'Clash of the Titans' hype, because Samuel Bayer was directing it, and he directed music videos for Nirvana and Green Day. I just knew it was gonna be awesome. I just knew it. But boy I was wrong. My first mistake was ignoring Michael Bay, who had too much control over a film that should've been left in the hands of Bayer, and I blame Michael for my final verdict on this film.

My biggest problem with Bay is that his obsession with making implausible subjects realistic is getting annoying. I admit I kinda liked the 'Chainsaw' remakes. I liked that Bay was all about the gore. The "family" was messed up in an exploitative way, and I liked that, but the victims were too stereotypical. Bay's reluctance to give his film's most important characters "cardboard" personalities only reveals that Bay has the widely-popular, misconceived idea of what a horror movie really is.

This idea started as a cheap way to gain audiences, but basically filmmakers ripoff the concept of what made films like 'Psycho' and 'The Shining' (and many others before and after) so popular: making the "killer" the most interesting person in the movie. Over the years writers, directors and producers of horror movies have paid less and less attention to the [victim] characters, so at this point they're as typical as cars; they're just the background of the same painting that gets torn apart every time. There is no feelings of sympathy for the paintings when there are more than one of same type. This concept has developed into a warped, cliché assembly line of the same stupid, stereotypical victims getting ripped apart (sometimes the way they're ripped apart is advertised as something "new," what we call a "gimmick" film), and the only thing that ever changes is the killer.

In this case, those victims are in the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' painting, and there is nothing new about it. The same thing happens, nothing has changed, except that with Bay's obsession with realism, we learn more about the history of Freddy Krueger that we felt more comfortable simply assuming in the past films. We know Krueger has the burned face, and the old version is just funny now because I know that's not what a burn victim looks like. He just looked scary because of those eyes and that smile, and that dastardly vile tongue. In this round they go all out into making actor Jackie Earle Haley into looking like an actual burn victim, and they succeeded, and I think that may have been the only cool thing about this movie. After a while, though, it did start to look silly, and my attitude towards him changed. He didn't have the eyes and he couldn't smile or stick his tongue out because his mouth as so small. He didn't even have the menacingly eerie voice either, it honestly sounded like Rorschach, or even worse, Batman.

I gotta give some props to the script, too. The ones for all of the other horror movies were pretty bad, but this may have been the worst one yet (I don't pay much attention so I'm only assuming). The stereotypical high school students were bad enough, but the dialogue was just so typical. Every once in a while the characters would come across something interesting to talk about (like for instance they compare Krueger to the Pied Piper at one point), but since they obviously didn't have any emotions (besides fear) or logic or reasoning (and didn't live in a realistic world when the story was trying to be realistic), they never went far with anything, since all they could say were phrases I felt like I've heard so so so many times already.

I liked Samuel Bayer's direction, as he is pretty skilled, but like I said earlier, Michael Bay ruined it with his "genius" skills. I'm not going to necessarily beg you not to watch this, as it has its entertaining moments and it would be okay as a movie to have playing in the background during a Halloween party, but I don't recommend it as a must-see. This is nothing new or revolutionary about it. It's just like every other bad horror movie made today (not that they're all bad), it's just that it's an unnecessary remake that makes it even worse. Yeah, it is a waste of time to watch it, but if you're up for wasting time...

I'm Still Here
½

Let it be known, 'I'm Still Here' was indeed a hoax. Joaquin Phoenix, the actor who played Johnny Cash in 'Walk the Line,' announced about a year ago that he was retiring from his movie career to pursue another one in hip-hop, a move that hit the media world like a gutterball with the bumpers up. Luckily, we were all in on the joke, whether we knew it or not. It was all a performance for a mockumentary about his pseudo-retirement, although it would be advertised as an actual documentary. Of course people doubted the legitimacy of the announcement from the start, and it was only natural. People have doubted the existence of gods from the beginning, and in this movie its is shown how celebrities, like Phoenix, are idolized in America (typically) in the same sense as mythological gods were in Ancient Greece, among many other places. The rumors of it being a "hoax" were from the very beginning a part of this film, whether we knew it or not; our natural reactions to Phoenix's announcement played perfectly into the story that was being told in this mockumentary. So a lot of people should complain for not getting a paycheck. But of course there are those that just didn't care, and they even play into the story as well.

In this story, Joaquin embarks on philosophical and psychological journey to become a famous musician. In fact, he just wants to be famous. He says it himself. He doesn't want to be mediocre; he, like everyone else, wants to be great. He begins to write his music with the help of another "mediocre" musician, and it is then that the exploitation begins to shine like a limelight on not only celebrity life but the audience as well. While we've been keeping up (at least I have) with the rare news about Joaquin's post-retirement hip-hop career, we've been laughing at his infamous interview on Letterman, waiting for something new from this former actor that we could now ridicule. But why do we want to ridicule him? Do we all subconsciously wish for this all to be a hoax?

Whether we do or not, the idea of this being a hoax plays a part into the entire message of the film, which is by far the best response to anyone who has ever (sarcastically) said, "celebrity life must be sooo hard." Phoenix's aspirations to rap coincide with his character's flaw: the inability to realize how high in society he really was, as well as having a hypocritically misconceived perception on the hip-hop industry. Most (but not all) rappers come from lower-class lifestyles, and on occasion from higher class lifestyles as well, but Joaquin's conditioned mindset is that he is a normal person striving for greatness by imitating the struggles of lower-class life, although he thinks he's being artistic the whole time because he wants to "leave a mark" in history. But maybe that's another message of the movie, that the entire idea of the three "classes" is a idealistic concept that only separates the rich from the poor, when everyone is actually in the middle; it is only when we try to act like we belong to a class that we begin to lose our minds as well as our perception of reality, as it is demonstrated by Phoenix's character. So basically, he's tired of supposedly doing little to nothing to live life like a god, and when he falls out of the clouds (figuratively speaking) he starts to lose touch with reality while questioning the value of his existence in such a cruel world.

Although it is a hoax, the movie still made me feel ashamed of myself at times. Why? Because I, like most people I'm sure, expected this movie to be somewhat funny, and although it was at times (in a very dark sense), it wasn't enough to make me consider it a comedy of any type. However, it was enough to make me realize just how serious Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck (the director, Phoenix's brother-in-law) were about this movie's message. It was a joke, a hoax, advertised as a documentary. Maybe it really was a documentary. Maybe this is an entirely new type of storytelling only possible through film, and we just can't realize it because we're so pissed we had to see some guy's dick twice. Phoenix also smokes pot, snorts cocaine, plays with hookers, pisses off P. Diddy and Ben Stiller (Stiller was in on the "joke"), and gets used as a toilet (via his face), showing a somewhat exaggerated point of view of the psychological impact of celebrity status, exploiting the relationship between American audiences and their celebrity idols, showing that inevitably gods do not care for normal people, and cannot realize that they are not normal themselves because of their need for selfishness to justify their own existence. It is the driving force of art, of life itself, to justify and find some meaning out of our own existence, and that when we try to look too hard we may sometimes find nothing at all but a crystal-clear reflection of ourselves, which is basically where Phoenix ends up in the story.

While 'I'm Still Here' will more than likely go unappreciated because the majority of audiences expecting and still believing this to be an unfunny joke, trust me when I say that it is not a joke at all. It is very serious, and if you fail to see that, then you have failed to see your own reflection as Joaquin sees his in this movie. When the story reaches its pivotal point, the interview with David Letterman, it is then that we can see the truth of this movie. While we have been laughing this whole time with Letterman, we can finally see our own cruel judgmental nature in his ignorant attitude towards Joaquin, now that we see the story from a completely different angle. That is the whole point of the movie, to point out how we view celebrities.

Casey Affleck did an excellent job in piecing this story together, although I wasn't really ever thrilled by seeing other cameras in the shots or of them mentioning the documentary. Honestly, I feel the movie would've been more captivating if it were treated like an actual movie in the sense 'Cold Souls' featured Paul Giamatti playing himself and the same for Jaun Claude Van Damme in 'JCVD,' but of course you have to respect Affleck and Phoenix's aspiration to make something somewhat original, as that is also a point of the film's story. It would've been somewhat more difficult to get "real" reactions from the world if word had gotten out that this was indeed a hoax, but I still think it's a missed opportunity/possibility. Either way, Phoenix's acting (let's just hope it really is acting) is beyond superb, although I doubt he'll get a much-deserved best acting nomination at many (if any) award ceremonies. 'I'm Still Here' is a genuine gem that's surprisingly not getting the attention it deserves, but at least Affleck came out and clarified that it's not real, so just keep that in mind. It's a hoax, but it's real life.

Youth in Revolt

Youth in Revolt is definitely not a film for everyone, but whatever audience it targeted, I'm glad to be a part of. Michael Cera was pretty hilarious, and there were loads of great supporting performances from Zack Galifianakis, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, and Fred Willard among many others. The humor, style, acting, dialogue and artistic direction made it a worthwhile film that exceeded my expectations and ended up being an original coming-of-age story that's fresh enough to watch again and again and catch things you may have missed the first time.

If you don't know already, the film is based on the novel by CD Payne. Director Miguel Arteta does a surprisingly great job at transitioning the story from the book onto the big screen. With witty narration during the opening scene from Michael Cera's character, it is already obvious that Arteta is not going to stray too far away from his source material. There are many artistic scenes that elevate the personality of the film. In an early scene, Cera's character is a puppet riding in a model car with his mother and her boyfriend (also puppets) through a model countryside. This really sets a playful tone that never disappears as the story progresses. In another scene later in the film, Cera's character reads an sex manual after eating shrooms, and the illustrations come to life, playing with the hormonally-driven theme of sex that runs throughout the story. On another note, the film's exploitation of religion and lower-class lifestyles in the South is excellent, and although it's nothing new, it still gives the satire an original flavor that sticks with the rebellious nature of our protagonist.

Now to the story. Michael Cera plays Nick Twisp (comments that his last name would fit only if he were an evil nurse), a self-proclaimed loser who lives with his mother (Jean Smart) and her trailer-trash boyfriend, Jerry (Galifinakis). When Jerry gets in trouble for selling a non-working vehicle, the three flee to a camping facility, where Nick meets Sheeni (Portia Doubleday) and immediately falls in love, despite the fact that her parents are strictly religious and she's obviously not interested in him "that way," or so it seems. She tells him about her boyfriend, and he tells her that he is determined to do whatever it takes to be the man she wants to spend her life with.

When Nick goes back home, things take a turn for the worse as Sheeni gets put in a private school far away and he has to come up with a plan quickly if he wants to be with her. This is where the story gets interesting, as it suddenly starts to become another "virginity" story. Nick creates an alter-ego, Francois, who is the epitome of everything Sheeni wants in a man. Using his alter-ego to get to his love, he gets into trouble with the law and embarks on a hilarious journey that introduces him to many incredibly interesting characters, especially Sheeni's pothead brother Paul (Justin Long), and Nick's neighbor Mr. Ferguson (Fred Willard), who harbors illegal immigrants in his basement and hysterically trips out on shrooms later in the film.

Yes, we've seen it before. But not like this. Most teen comedies like Youth in Revolt revolve around the objective of the protagonist losing his virginity before graduating high school, when, as the title suggests, this one revolves around our protagonist trying to lose his virginity before getting arrested. It is the perfect image of teens rebelling, and facing light consequences at such young ages, learning lessons the hard way as they try their best to act as if they can get away with anything. While it seems like recycled material, it really is not. It is a new and original brand of something that's been going in the same direction for years and years, and it's nice to see one, like Youth in Revolt, taking a different route for once.

The Social Network

I know people who actually think 'Fight Club' is a movie about fighting. Sadly, there are even more oblivious individuals who think 'The Social Network' is about Facebook. While I can't judge people for not liking David Fincher's latest directorial effort (he also directed 'Fight Club'), I must sympathize for those who didn't catch that it was actually a social commentary as well as a 'Citizen Kane'-style tragedy. A lot of people, including some incompetent film critics, stated that there wasn't any reason people should even care about this story, but I have to disagree, especially since people seemed to care about 'The Blind Side,' which was more conservative propaganda than it was a factual or realistic recollection of 'true events.'

I like to wonder how much sense 'The Social Network' would make had it been released twenty years ago. Obviously the course of history would not permit such a thing, as this is mostly a retelling of historical events that occurred over the past decade, but just imagine if this story were as fictional as 'Fight Club.' Doing so keeps you from seeing this as a biopic of computer prodigy Mark Zuckerberg, although the film really isn't much of that already. In fact, it is a story that is told from different perspectives, at different time frames, at such a pace that signifies how quickly the Facebook website became a worldwide phenomenon. Zuckerberg is not a historical figure in 'The Social Network' in the same sense that Johnny Cash was in 'Walk the Line.' Instead, Fincher adds so much theatricality to the story that it is sometimes hard to see it as a historical event, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. For it to be a bad thing, we could look at 'The Blind Side' again, but I like to forget about that. Fincher takes history and makes it something we can be entertained by, although some people would not consider an unlikeable character such as Zuckerberg all that entertaining.

There isn't much to give away about the story unless you don't know much about what really happened, but if you didn't already know, Mark Zuckerberg isn't much of a "people person." I don't know the guy personally, I've only seen videos and heard things, and Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of him is nothing less than spot-on, although I know the movie version of Zuckerberg isn't as much of a dick as the real one. The film?s depiction of the genius almost makes it seem as if he has Asperger syndrome, but really he?s just an anti-social nerd. It?s about time, too, that nerds were depicted on screen as the unsociable and inconsiderate beings that they really are, rather than these cute heroes inspired by John Hughes? films (no disrespect for Hughes).

The film loosely follows Harvard student/tech-prodigy Mark Zuckerberg (by this I mean it switches perspectives) as he creates Facebook and becomes the youngest billionaire in history, while people sue him left and right for, more or less, screwing them over. I won?t go too much into detail of the chain of events, because more than likely you know the gist of them, and if you don?t it?s not really relevant to the story?s significance. Amongst these events the movie revolves around Zuckerberg?s reluctant failure to realize how much his actions impact others, moving back and forth through meetings with lawyers, parties, and intense events from the ?offices? of Facebook, all of which are elevated by the amazing soundtrack from Trent Reznor.

Perhaps the unlikability of the characters in 'The Social Network' could be considered its biggest flaw, although I don't like to see it that way. Saying such a thing would mean that Shakespeare's 'Richard III' or Stanley Kubrick's 'Clockwork Orange' weren't masterpieces, and I really don?t have the time for such blasphemous accusations. Is 'The Social Network' a masterpiece then? A lot of people will say no, and although I am a big fan of David Fincher's work, I'm not being biased when I say it is indeed a masterpiece. Watching Zuckerberg fail to keep one friend throughout the movie was enough for me to realize what this movie is really about, and that is what Facebook says about our society today, which Fincher elaborates on extremely well with the help of Aaron Sorkin?s masterful script. In human nature resides the will to connect with others and know every little detail about everyone we know, and Facebook represents the inevitability that this would soon take over society altogether. As the film analyzes every little detail, we get to see everything about Facebook?s history that?s worth knowing, regardless of whether or not we really want to know it. It?s then that we realize that the true strength of ?The Social Network? is its irony. An anti-social genius with only one real friend develops the most efficient method of communicating with others. This same genius manages to lose his one friend and get more money than he could ever want. The ending is probably the most ironic moment of them all, but I?m not going to spoil it.

I won?t say that I liked ?The Social Network? as much as ?Fight Club,? ?Seven? or ?Benjamin Button,? but it is definitely Fincher?s most impressive film yet. The acting is great, particularly from Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and even Justin Timberlake (who plays Sean Parker, the creator of Napster). The direction is wonderful, especially so during a rowing competition that I doubt any other director could make as entertaining. The college experience is somewhat exaggerated, but still more realistic than most other college films. The screenplay is beyond exceptional, only proving how great Fincher can work with his material. This is indeed a film that ingeniously says as much about society today as ?Fight Club? did ten years ago, although, like I said before, a lot of people won?t see this because they can?t see beyond the idea of this being a ?Facebook movie.? Along with this year?s ?Inception? and ?Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,? ?The Social Network? signifies the rise of a somewhat new style of filmmaking that includes fast-paced, elaborate scripts which focus on different perspectives of one story. With these different perspectives, we see how Zuckerberg not only changed the lives of the people around him, but the privacy of the world altogether. I imagine this will get a lot of Oscar nominations, and although I can?t guarantee it will win all of them, I can guarantee it will be as big a threat to other films as Zuckerberg himself was to ?Myspace? Tom.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)
½

First we had Kill Bill, then we had Watchmen, and now, while the superhero movie genre is still alive and kicking hard, we have Kick-Ass, and what perfect timing. What was an excellent graphic novel is now a spectacular motion picture that succeeds in being hilarious, graphic and action-packed due to a talented cast and superb direction from Matthew Vaughn. We are witnessing an era in film history where the cage has been opened and movies are pretty much free to do whatever they want, and this movie sure does whatever the hell it wants. We should be used to these kinds of movies by now. Everyone should've seen 300, Superbad and The Dark Knight. Everyone should know that graphic action is in. Crude teen humor is in. Superheroes are in. This mixes all of those categories into one awesome thrill ride that will make you want to laugh, squirm, cry, and cheer along the way. It's a breath of fresh air to see an action movie this fun, this good.

Note that, more than anything, this is a coming-of-age story mixed with a superhero story, something we rarely, if ever see. We have Dave Lizewski, a teen who has everything in common with Spider-Man, except he has no superpowers and he spends his free time watching porn. He's a dork, and he has a crush on girl that ignores him because he's a dork. He soon finds a way to get closer to her, although it's probably not the wisest decision at first, but hey, we do dumb things when we're young. Well, we don't all decide to be superheroes. I've heard in some reviews that Kick-Ass can't decide if it wants to be real, or if it wants to be a comic book movie. For those out there with low comprehension levels, here's the scoop: it's a comic book movie. Just because the world in the movie is supposed to be "real" does not mean it has to be as real as the world we know. Despite the fact that it is a comic book movie, it still has realistic dialogue while occasionally slipping back into comic-ish talk and clichéd teen-comedy interaction. The whole point of the story is that in the world of Kick-Ass, superheroes only exist in comics, until Dave decides he should try it out. The story explores the reality of being a vigilante, that it's not as easy as it looks. It plays on the idea of being realistic, that's just its theme, while it blends the most popular types of superheroes into one story.

Dave starts out (if I remember correctly) saying, "I'm just like every other kid, I just exist." He's trying to find his place in life just like everyone else, and he starts to think that maybe fighting crime is his calling. He decides to be a superhero because no one else tried it before. He soon learns it's a big mistake, but he also discovers two other superheroes that turn out to be the "real thing." This reminded me of other great stories where the best characters are discovered by the protagonist, such as in Fight Club. Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz portray the father-daughter duo Big Daddy and Hit Girl wonderfully. If only they had more screen time, because they stole every scene and eventually seemed to steal the story as well. They barge in front of the audience just as they do for Kick-Ass, as it becomes apparent that the biggest mob boss in town is their target and they're going to kill everyone in the way to get to him.

We also see great performances by Mark Strong as the bad guy, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Red Mist. While Kick-Ass is like Spider-Man in a sense that he is a teenager trying to deal with his real-life problems, Red Mist is somewhat like a young Batman, since he has a lot of money to get all the equipment he needs. However, Big Daddy and Hit-Girl come in and show us that vigilantes need purpose, and, above all, nothing to lose. We hear Dave say later that "with no power comes no responsibility," obviously playing on themes addressed in Spider-Man, but also showing that choosing this path is an irresponsible move if you don't know what you're doing. At least Big Daddy and Hit Girl knew what they were doing, and boy did they do it well.

While it's not the best movie I've ever seen, it's pretty close to being the best comic-book movie I've ever seen. Almost everything about this movie was flawless. The acting was perfect. Nicolas Cage should've had more screen time because I enjoyed every moment of his Adam West impersonations. The filming was top notch. Vaughn introduces a unique technique that hasn't been used often, and he pulls it off magnificently, intensifying every action scene with beauty. The fact that it's a great action movie while almost being a satire of the superhero genre just makes it that awesome. I feel like making this movie too real would've ruined it, so it succeeded where it stood. The only problem I may have with this movie was that it introduced us to a lot of interesting characters but never stayed with any of them for too long for us to enjoy them completely. Character development isn't the most important thing in an action or a comedy, so I'm not really disappointed, because what we did get was enough to feel for every character when the going got tough. We have to be thankful that this movie was as great as it was, thanks to Vaughn, when it could've been a disaster had anyone else got their hands on it, but we have to remember that the one good thing about these types of movies are that they are artistic in being everything they want to be when not held down by commercialism. It's great because it doesn't care whether we like it or not. It is what it is, and it is... kick-ass!

***One last bit about this movie that I noticed was how it is a lot like a Watchmen of the millennium. They are superheroes in a world where superheroes are only in the comics, but in this world they gain fame through use of the internet, which is the only way a real superhero would gain fame in today's world. That it is trying to create a new generation of superheroes in a realist manner as Watchmen did and succeeded in doing so makes this one of the greatest new-age comic stories and one of the greatest movies ever for taking it's genre and updating it for the current population. FISTS UP!

*spoiler* It's interesting to note that as brutal and disturbing as this movie was, the story varies a little bit from the one in the comic, especially the ending. Hit Girl's mom is still alive, Dave ends up not getting the girl. Not too much different, but it shows how much more appealing the story was made to fit the film and please audiences with a more teen-comedy-esque story and ending. Doesn't make the movie even worse, I actually like this ending a little better. It shows how Vaughn has great potential to make adaptations into his own work brilliantly.

The Book of Eli

All in all, 'The Book of Eli' is one giant metaphor. To what extent it is a metaphor is completely up to the viewer. To a small extent, The Book of Eli is a modern retelling of Jesus Christ's crucifixion/resurrection, or if one looks into it deeper it is the story of the foretold "second coming of Christ."

Whether or not this is really what the film is supposed to be is up to anyone to decide, just as any religion is. You can take it to any extent you want, you can grasp it at it's fullest or ignore it completely. Or if you want to have some fun you can just stick in the middle of things and enjoy the ride. If you haven't seen this movie I've probably given you a load of wrong ideas, but don't think I've spoiled it. When I notice a movie has this strong of a meaning I'm not going to just rabble about whether or not it's good. You have to take these things as they are because they only come once.

Now, in a sense this is a religious movie, but then again it isn't at all, but when it isn't the plotholes soar to great heights. However, we can let those slide, or at least I can, because at that point it becomes a totally awesome post-apocalyptic western in the same sense of 'Mad Max,' which happens to be a favorite of mine. Luckily it doesn't ever come too close to ripping off that trilogy in the case of plot or story, although they both are in the same time-frame. While 'Mad Max' had it's meaningful symbolism of human corruption over oil, this movie aims towards corruption over religion.

In 'The Book of Eli' we see some very stylish directing from the Hughes Brothers ('From Hell') and some great acting from Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman, while everyone else falls to the stereotypes of immoral post-apocalyptic citizens. Washington plays Eli, a drifter with a few tricks up his sleeve, who is searching for his purpose in life, while Oldman plays Carnegie, the somewhat psychotic leader of these futuristic desert drones who is after a book that Eli possesses. I won't tell you what the book is but hopefully by now you can guess correctly. Don't worry, it's not much of a spoiler, it's actually better if you know.

Mila Kunis doesn't do much for me, but I can't help but like her because she tries at least. In a Western sense she's the typical "prostitute" character that befriends the drifter because she sees him as her "savior" (I guess that's a pun intended...). She mostly causes problems for Eli, but she does give him great assistance on his journey and plays an important role in the story. Her and her mother are basically slaves to Carnegie, who pretty much represents the most corrupt person, or all-evil-in-one if you want to be more precise.

His intentions are to use Eli's book to gain ultimate control, while Eli's goal is to find the person it belongs to. The events that unfold are up to you to find out, unless you've already seen it of course. If you haven't, hopefully I haven't made the movie too predictable. That's mainly why I stated my theories before my review/thesis, so you wouldn't think too hard about it.

Aside from all of the awesome action sequences (trust me, Denzel kicks some serious ass), the somewhat depressing yet still gorgeous landscapes, and all of the awesomeness of Denzel and Gary Oldman in one movie, what gets me the most about this movie is it's soundtrack. I personally felt that the music was prepared just for me to watch it, but maybe that's just me, or maybe it's just that good. The epic sound really lifts the mood of the film, although its plot is somewhat deserted as its setting.

The only plot in the film seemed to actually revolve around Carnegie as the protagonist whose goal is to find a certain book while Eli is the antagonist who has the only copy and refuses to share it. Not much effort is put into making this apparent as more attention is given to Eli, although I can't complain because he sure is entertaining.

And then aside from this we once again return to the overall meaning of the movie. There are three ways you can look at it.

In one corner you can view it as pure entertainment that coincidentally happens to have a pretty controversial story. I mean, imagine this movie without Denzel and tell me how good it'd be.

In another corner it can be that pro-religious movie, in which humans are represented as hopeless and immoral without the guidance of this particular book. If that is the case, then the movie is near-perfect, except for the excessive violence. However I do not like to look at it this way because I do not like to think of humans as that dependent of any book. We shouldn't need that much help to survive peacefully in the world. Some people like this idea though, and I won't judge you.

But this is why I view the movie as a huge metaphor for how people can comprehend and use religion incorrectly, how it can destroy the world, and how it can unite everyone in the end. To what extent this enters "cheesy"-territory is completely dependent on how big your "cheesy"-meter is and how much "cheesy" you can tolerate. And then there are various plotholes that you may or may not catch, but by this time you've thought about it too much like I have when it could just be a typical Hollywood movie with Denzel Washington in the lead role designed to make me think there's some bigger meaning to it, in which case I would've wasted my time since that was my first assumption. But I have faith that I didn't.

Never Back Down

What's sad about Never Back Down is how many people actually like it. Terrible acting, pathetic fight scenes that try to look "real" and "intense," a story that tries to be serious but comes off as a joke, and a high school setting that's so damn stereotypical don't help it out any either. All in all, there's not to say about Never Back Down except that it's basically Fight Club for those who weren't allowed to watch Fight Club or those who thought Fight Club was about fighting.

The Princess and the Frog
½

All I'm hearing about this movie is how great it is to see an actual animated film after every animation company had pretty much switched to computer animation for full-length theatrical releases since Toy Story and Finding Nemo owned the box-office. The people who are claiming this seem to have forgotten that actual animated films like this very one had been playing for much longer than computer animated films and that people were probably tired of that too. Just because it's "doing something different" or it's the first Disney movie with black people in it doesn't make it good either. Of course the musical sequences were good, Disney's always good about that, but story-wise, it's nothing like it should've been, especially if they were trying to prove that animated films still "got it." In the end it's about as good as Brother Bear 2, which deserved a theatrical release before this cliched joke.

Bound
Bound(1996)

It's great to see the Wachowski brothers' skill put to work, especially before the Matrix. It's almost a homage to all of the directors who influenced them (Coens, Tarantino), while we can see that influence shaping into something completely different, a clean, fast-paced style that would appear in the rest of the duo's work. The acting, especially from the ladies, seems to be porno-acting (not bad but somewhat too erotic-ish), so it comes to no surprise when we get the balls-to-the-wall lesbian love scenes that make me wish I'd heard of this a long time ago. The story is great, and the whole gay twist actually adds some humor to the movie, for instance Caesar (Joe Pantilliano!) comes home to see his wife (Jennifer Tilly) has company, and he gets upset until he realizes that another woman is there. While they had been indeed fraternizing, Caesar doesn't expect it of course so he moves on. The two lovers play with Caesar more when they decide to steal money from him and blame it on the mob he works for, and then everything gets out of hand, naturally. While there wasn't much to the soundtrack, "She's a Lady" was more than an appropriate choice as the closing song, as it shows that the Wachowski's put all they had into making this a memorable film that will probably be forgotten due to it's sexual nature.

Carrie
Carrie(1976)

Already coming from a great novel (by Stephen King), Carrie was released in theaters with perfect timing, three years after the box office rage over "The Exorcist." The story itself tackles the psychological deterioration of the human mind on such a powerful level, and the film stands as a reaction to "The Exorcist" in that it shows the same mental breakdown from a different angle. What if there was no devil driving that little girl insane? What if it was all in her mind? What if she was just a little different?

The Fountain
The Fountain(2006)

A true masterpiece, one of the most underrated films from what I've seen from the critics, who definitely got it wrong on this one. Arronofsky's story takes us on a journey through time as a scientist (Hugh Jackman) seeks for the Tree of Life, in a metaphorical sense at least. His wife (Rachel Weiz) is dying and he proposes using samples from a tree in South America to keep her alive. But how did he know to use it? As the story unfolds we see the angle of three different men, who are all the same in a sense, one of whom is the character in his wife's unfinished book "The Fountain." This conquistador is actually looking for the Tree of Life, and we see his story played out in the movie as if it really occurred in the past, while the other two angles are of the scientist in the present and the scientist in the future, the latter of which is definitely a spectacle to behold. There are deeper meanings to look into but I won't cover the gist of it now. When you finish this film all of the pieces of the puzzle (as cliche as that sounds) fit together and you are able to see this piece of art in its prime. The music is great, the acting is great, the story is excellent, and the special effects are some of the best (or most mesmerizing) that I've ever seen. This ranks amongst my favorite films for its ability to cascade one of the greatest stories ever told.

Dinner for Schmucks

Carrell was better than expected, and his acting combined with the surprise appearance of Jemaine Clement was hilarious, but Rudd offered nothing new and the rest of the cast wasn't much better. Yeah, I'll admit that I died laughing at scenes, but humor doesn't automatically make the movie good. The dialogue was sometimes boring, the story hit complete-cliche territory after the climax and the last fifteen minutes or so of the movie was never uplifting, only embarassing.

Rampage
Rampage(2009)

A surprisingly entertaining and clever film, which is weird to say when talking about one from the infamous Uwe Boll. He was recently turned down the rights to make a Grand Theft Auto movie, which we all know would've been horrible, only judging from his past record with the video game adaptations, like Bloodrayne, Alone in the Dark, and Dungeon Seige. Apparently he turned his anger towards the production companies in his first original film in a while. And it's funny to think that this almost was a GTA movie, because the violence is pretty graphic, and I know that's why everyone plays the game in the first place.

Date Night
Date Night(2010)
½

Bad acting here and there, but the movie's filmed excellently, and Carrell and Fey play a believable married couple in this over-the-top action-comedy. The action is treated with PG-ness while the dialogue sneaks into the NC-17 zone from time to time, so the balance is a little awkward at those moments. But besides that it's pretty hilarious and it's actually a fresh story, since we're usually getting the couple before marriage.

Pineapple Express

Aside from bad acting, not including the wonderful performance from James Franco, this is the perfect stoner action/comedy, the plot works with a little exaggeration, as if it is actually being told by a stoner.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is the two-hour-long fantasy dream of any gamer nerd who boasts, "I still rock the 64" and likes modest indie rock bands that no one's heard of. Not to say that it's not for everyone, because I recommend it to people of all ages, preferably those between 16 and 30, but if you're that guy who loved classic Mario and Street Fighter, then this is probably the best movie you're ever going to see. If you hate that guy, then I suggest you check out "Expendables" with your dad.

Pilgrim is out with great timing, too. With this summer's hit Inception telling us that "all movies are really dreams," here is a movie that's equivalent to the student who finishes his science project first to show that he's faster and smarter than everyone in class. This film actually embraces the concept that the entire story is a fantasy world in which anything can happen (although it is occasionally burdened with a video game-esque set of rules) and time is completely non-linear, which is perfect for the attention-deficient, "Superbad"-raised young audience it's intended for.

The story is very simple and sort of cliched, but you'll barely notice because what really grabs your attention is the fast-paced, special-effects driven details that make Scott Pilgrim stand out amongst teen rom-coms. It is something much more. Maybe in the future it will be outdone, but for now it stand alone as a film unlike any we've ever seen before. What Scott Pilgrim manages to do is to adapt the graphic novel it's based on to the max, meaning that from time to time (more than often, actually) sound effects are written out on the screen like they are in the comics, and the fights are incredibly filmed to mirror the various video game sequences they pay homage to.

But on to the story. Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim fairly well, and although I think they could've done better, I can't think of any actors at the moment. He's a few years out of high school and living with his openly gay friend (Kieran Culkin). He plays bass in a garage band called "Sex Bob-omb" (Super Mario reference) with an ex-highschool-gilfriend (the drummer) and the singer/guitarist who we never really learn much about. He burdens their band practices with his new girlfriend who's Chinese and still in high school. They don't like her, and Scott doesn't much either, but he admits that he only does it because he's bored. That's when he meets Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead from "Death Proof" and "Sky High"), a girl he saw in a recent dream. He immediately puts his whole life aside to get her to go out with him, and that's when the real story starts.

The first 30 minutes of the movie cleverly distracts us from waiting for the fight scenes we came for by giving us some pretty quick but efficient character development to make us feel for the characters, although we never see much from Ramona to understand exactly why Scott is chasing her. Oh yeah, she's the girl of his dreams. Double layered dreams I suppose? When he finally gets Ramona to confirm their relationship status, it is then that her "seven evil ex's" come to fight Scott Pilgrim. It's different, yeah, but that's just how this story works. Remember, it's that guy's dream.

The fights are really sweet, and pay some great homage to various games like Street Fighter, Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero amongst many others. However, I must say that I was coming into the theaters expecting to see the greatest movie ever, and I was almost let down, but there's no way I can really say this movie sucked. From the opening scene of the movie when Scott's band plays and the camera angles are zoomed in on the instruments and the noise is booming and it's like being at a Blink concert all over again, the nostalgia kicks in and keeps me amazed until the very end.

Again though, there was some disappointment, but never enough to frustrate me. The ending was very much like those unavoidable credits at the end of Pokemon Yellow, it almost went on too long. And after the first fight I expected more from the following ones, which all start very dashingly but always end very anti-climatically (although every opponent being reduced to coins after being defeated is still pretty amusing); it was almost as if cheat codes had been used!

I gotta say the acting was great everywhere, and I never felt like I was watching actors, which I gotta give credit to the effects team for setting up quite the distraction. "Shaun of the Dead" director Edgar Wright has only proven how much potential he has after creating this highly entertaining fiasco of a movie. As it is the first of its kind, expect Scott Pilgrim to influence many filmmakers in the future as it will prove to be quite innovative. While it doesn't put up the fight I expected, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is still pretty revolutionary.

The Other Guys
½

We're usually seeing the buddy-cop movie about the two officers who get most of the attention, but 'The Other Guys' decides to focus on the two who get the least attention (Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg). While you'd think this would work since it's a relatively new idea (or at least it's advertised that way), I think we should stick with the classics like 'Lethal Weapon' and 'Beverly Hills Cop.' First we get Kevin Smith's 'Cop Out,' and then this. While I respect both Smith and Adam McKay, who directed 'The Other Guys,' they only proved that this is a genre that's best left untouched, for a while at least.

After the popular "Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals" skit on SNL, I think someone in Hollywood said, "Let's put this guy in a comedy!" It sounded like a somewhat acceptable idea, but then they go and pair him up with Will Ferrell, who is quickly becoming one of the lamest actors in Hollywood. Don't get me wrong, though, I liked 'Anchorman' and I thought 'Step Brothers' was hilarious, but Ferrell's humor is getting old and predictable, and while some people still love him, I don't. All he ever does is yell and say incredibly random things that are obviously intended to be "quote-worthy" for teens who are as addicted to him as they are to Jersey Shore. And what's worse, we get the same out of Wahlberg. He would scream in some scenes when he didn't even need to, and if it was intended to be funny, I guess I missed that joke, as well as almost every other joke in this movie.

'The Other Guys' is about as good of an action-comedy as 'Semi-Pro' was a sports-comedy, constantly throwing one lame joke after another and hoping that some of the good ones make us forget about the bad ones, but when there are more bad jokes than good jokes, it's hard to say that this was even a good movie. I mean the plot was there, I gotta give some credit for that since McKay missed that in 'Step Brothers,' but I think he cared too much about the story this time around and left the humor up to co-writer Chris Henchy, who co-wrote 'Land of the Lost,' which I hope we can all agree sucked. I think McKay is a great director, but not a good writer. There is one scene in a bar that is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while, but it's still not enough to make up for the rest of the movie.

I'm sure most of you will disagree with me, because I've seen the landslide of positive feedback 'The Other Guys' has been getting, but don't expect any from me. There are a few running jokes here and there, but there isn't anything in this movie that is up to par with 'Anchorman' or any of McKay's other comedies with Will Ferrell. Maybe he should just stick with straight-up comedies. His focus on Steve Coogan's character and the whole investment fraud mumbo jumbo was not only very uninteresting but extremely distracting from the rest of the movie. I know it's not supposed to matter because it's obviously a satire of buddy-cop movies, but it just doesn't work. I actually would much rather have seen the buddy-cop movie that Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson could've had. If only Ferrell and Wahlberg didn't scream as much I might've been able to tolerate their story more.

Cape Fear
Cape Fear(1991)

Prison can do things to a person. It can change them. It can turn them into a completely different person. For some, prison is hell. In Martin Scorsese's 'Cape Fear' (a remake of the 1962 film), Max Cady is a man who has just been released from jail and makes it his goal to ruin the life of the lawyer who failed to keep him out. Now, you'd think a character like this would only do such a thing had he been innocent to begin with, but Cady was busted for raping a young girl. He was really nuts, and Robert DeNiro blows up on the screen in his portrayal of the fascinating psychopath. We eventually learn the real point to this movie, when some feel there isn't one. The battle between the lawyer and the psycho is really a battle between moral human law and religious law, made apparent by Cady's persistent reluctance to use the Bible to justify his actions.

The film follows Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), the lawyer who failed to keep Cady out of jail. When he realizes that his former client is following him, a series of events occurs that pits the lawyer into standing up for what is right. His goal to stop Cady faces many obstacles when he fails to find a way around stopping him without getting put in jail himself. The pyschopath starts to bug his family, and eventually tricks Bowden's daughter (played amazingly by Juliette Lewis) into... err... making out with him. While Cady succeeds into making Bowden's life a living hell, we can finally see the message of the story in it's full colors. Cady's dependence on religious law to justify his psychotic actions shows how evil can always find it's way around the law, to the point that it can corrupt any human being.

I think Scorsese did not get as much attention for this film as he should have, which is disappointing. The biggest factor of this was the time it was released. After the 80's, scary movies had become all about the scares, there were no meaning to them. Sequels were also dying out to the point that no one cared, and remakes fit into that category. Had this movie been released today, or back in the 70's or early 80's, it would've been more appreciated, and since it wasn't it is now one of the most unappreciated movies of all time. If you haven't seen it, see it. If you have, hopefully I talked you into gaining a little more respect for it. Now that you know what 'Cape Fear' is really about, hopefully you can understand why I think this movie showcases one of the greatest battles of all-time.

BONUS: This movie stars Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, who starred as Bowden and Cady (respectively) in the 1962 version, directed by J. Lee Thompson.

Inception
Inception(2010)

Have you ever had a dream that was so bizarre that when you woke up it took you a few seconds to adjust to reality? How about one of those great dreams that ends right before the best part? Watching Christopher Nolan's dream-caper 'Inception' seems very similar, like watching an epic, complex dream-come-true on the big screen. Our main character Dom Cobb even says, "Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." Yes, it was only a line in the movie directed towards Ellen Page's character Ariadne, but it still sums up how anyone should feel after watching this movie, whether they liked it or not.

Christopher Nolan has supposedly been working on this film for ten years, and it shows, as 'Inception' is definitely his most intelligent, and perhaps his best movie to date. It makes you wonder though how much inspiration Nolan had from 'The Matrix,' being that it was released in 1999, ten years ago. The story is very similar, yet entirely different at the same time, as Nolan surpasses the "dreams vs. reality" concept that the Wachowski brothers played with back in the day. He not only surpasses it; he masters it. Although there haven't been many movies about dreams, none of them touched base on all the aspects of dreaming like we hoped, usually beating around the bush in order to show us a bit of eye-candy like we expected. With 'Inception,' we still get the eye-candy, but we also get an all-you-can-eat buffet of a story that fits all of the interesting psychological aspects of dreaming into it very intricately. It's actually surprising that it took this long for someone to come up with this idea, although of course it required a big budget and a great special effects team that's usually hard to come by when you're pitching such a complex script.

Before I explain the story, I'll give a little background information. It doesn't ever say when it takes place, but at this time a machine exists that can allow a person to enter the mind of another person via their dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled extractor who uses this machine to steal ideas from other people with the help of his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). The movie makes this seem as dangerous as a bank heist, but I'll tell you now that you'll never see a heist of any kind quite like this. They pull it off by making sure the person their robbing does not realize they are in a dream so that they can venture into the lower levels of the person's subconscious, where the information they're looking for is usually kept in a safe, rather conveniently. However, the dream world isn't as safe as it seems. If the people populating the dream (projections of the dreamer's subconscious) notice the dream is being shared, they will attack. And any effects in the real world, such as a shift in gravity or explosions or falling in a tub of water affect the dream world tremendously, and it is then that we start to see the grand special effects extravaganza that we were looking forward to.

Now for the story. Cobb is basically blackmailed by the corporate billionaire Saito (Ken Watanabe) into planting an idea in the mind of a rival businessman's son (Cillian Murphy) so that he will break up his father's company. In return Saito promises Cobb a safe return to the States, where he has been exiled since the death of his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), which he has been blamed for. Cobb is wary about the idea, not only because it's almost impossible, but because the last time he tried "inception" was on his wife, which of course failed. Only because he wants to see his children again, he agrees to help Saito, and recruits a team for the job. This team includes an architect (Page) that will create the dream world that Fischer (Murphy) will fill in with his projections, a forger (Tom Hardy) that can take the form of projections in order to deceive Fischer, and a chemist (Dileep Rao) that can sedate all of them long enough so that they won't wake up while trying to get into the depths of Fischer's mind and "plant" this idea.

So how do they do it? This is where it gets pretty complex (if I haven't already lost you). Once inside Fischer's mind, they must find him in his dream world, trick him into hooking up to the machine again so they can go to his second level of dreaming, and then repeat this process again, planting various ideas here and there that change Fischer's mind over the course of the movie. It sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. It turns out Fischer had been trained for this, so his projections are already aware of intruders and attack Cobb's team constantly, only making matters worse. And other problems arise when Cobb's projection of Mal reappears in Fischer's dreams to sabotage the job. The majority of the film takes place within the many levels of Fischer's dream, which all have different time frames, meaning that one will last a few minutes while the other will last a few weeks, and even deeper, years. It all sounds confusing, but trust me, it's a little easier to follow when you're watching it.

There are many interpretations of what is actually happening in the movie. Some say the entire movie is a dream, while others suggest that the ending may be a dream. I like to think it was real, but then again, it's only a movie. If it were all a dream though, that basically makes it flawless, and thus perfect. There is an interesting article on Cinematical which explains, "the movie is not ruined if everything is a dream. It doesn't negate the emotional breakthrough that Cobb goes through, which is ultimately what the film is about. In fact, everything being a dream is the ace up Inception's sleeve: if it's all a fantasy, then there can be no plot holes; the lack of deep characterizations for anyone other than Cobb can be chalked up to the fact that they are all his projections and thus do not require rich histories or distinguishable character arcs. It's basically a catch-all safety net for any complaints registered against Inception's narrative."

After seeing it twice, 'Inception' is now one of my favorite movies, as dreams have always been a fascination of mine. And I think that's why Nolan's film will be very successful, because a lot of people have this same fascination, and seeing all of our questions acknowledged and answered in a movie is one of the best feelings ever. This movie really is a dream-come-true. The cast is great. I was especially surprised with Tom Hardy, who recently starred in 'Bronson.' He brought a lot to the movie with his interesting character, as did DiCaprio and Cotillard. Their relationship was very much like the ones in DiCaprio's past films (imagine the passion of Titanic, the emotion of Revolutionary Road and the misery of Shutter Island all in one). I wasn't too thrilled with anyone else's performances as there wasn't much room for character development besides Cobb's, but then again, if this is all Cobb's dream, then wouldn't it make sense for no one else to develop if they are only projections? I was excited to see rising stars Page and Gordon-Levitt in a movie together though.

Hans Zimmer returns with another great score that is as haunting as the score from 'The Shining,' yet as captivating as 'The Dark Knight' (which he did as well), and Nolan's directorial skills are showcased to the max in this film. While the infamous critic Armond White said that Nolan was not the "son of Kubrick" but more along the lines of a "bastard Wachowski brother," I have to disagree with him. Nolan has turned out to be what we had hoped to see (but never did) from the Wachowski's after 'The Matrix,' and I think it can be safe to say that he is indeed today what Kubrick was 40 or so years ago, although Kubrick didn't get as much recognition until many years later. 'Inception' will probably receive a lot of attention during Oscar season, and it will probably win a lot of awards. This film is definitely not for everyone, but it will more than likely stick with you for days. It is indeed one of those dreams that messes with your head, but you must remind yourself that it is only a movie, regardless of how intriguing it may be.

If you want to read about those crazy interpretations, check out this article:
http://www.cinematical.com/2010/07/19/dissecting-inception-six-interpretations-and-five-plot-holes/

But I do recommend that you read this article, because it has the most accurate play-by-play analysis of the events that occurred and may prove very helpful to anyone trying to figure it out:
http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/article/wake-up-lets-talk-about-inception-heres-my-interpretation

Where the Wild Things Are

Yeah, a lot of people liked the trailer better than the movie. It's not one for everyone. It's not really that entertaining honestly, but the story itself will always be an incredible one. Children who read the book remember it being scary and sad and fun all at once, and Spike Jonez elevated that to a new level, showing exactly how the story would've been if it were real, not watered down for kids like many had expected.

Every kid once dreamed of being the king of the world, and Max is still that way. In his world their are monsters, and he's the king they've always needed. He's only been living in the wrong world, that's all. But when he finally goes to his real world, the monsters are having problems people usually face while growing up, trying to have fun but trying to be serious at the same time. They need a savior, and that savior is Max (almost Christ-like), who tries to fix things for his people but eventually realizes that what he wants to do for them isn't as important as what he needs to do. It is then that Max faces the fact that he must grow up to make everything right, he must put all games aside and see that he can't always be a wild animal, because he only makes a big mess then.

Most people don't like this movie much becuase they expected something fun, and while it is at times, it's mostly depressing due to the fact that no one ever really wants to grow up.

Despicable Me

Here's the master-plan: Steal a bunch of ideas from Pixar and other children's films, swap around a few storylines, and mash them together until a great movie is made. That seemed to be the idea behind Despicable Me, for me at least. But hey, that's not necessarily a bad thing when we're talking about a movie that focuses on a supervillain.

I mean, it just seems to work, doesn't it? It's like they said, "Hey let's go all the way with this one. Let's make the movie itself a villain amongst other children's movies!" I'm not going to get too hypothetical here, and I don't know if it was intended, but I have to applaud whoever came up with the idea for this movie. It's pretty genius. I know, I know, we've seen it before, kind of. I find it amusing that people always think that heroes and villains are the same thing as protagonists and antagonists. Wrong. If that were the case, we'd have no protagonist in this story. But we do. And he's Gru, a supervillain trying to steal the moon before another up-and-coming supervillain, Vector, beats him to it.

I've actually been waiting for this type of movie for a while. It's what audiences crave these days. The villains. Moviegoers always find more interest in the villains than they do the heroes. People went nuts over the Joker, the Terminator, Freddy Kruger, and every other villain that received more attention than the "heroes" in their stories. Of course we still love Batman though. Anyway, Despicable Me takes consideration of that fact and excludes superheroes of any type, although I gotta admit I was expecting a few more villains, or something more.

The story is very Lemony Snicket-like, except the other way around, and Count Olaf in this situation is actually a pretty nice guy. Gru is a supervillain with high ambitions, dreaming big since his childhood to steal the moon. But first he must steal a shrink ray from the government. Then we meet Vector, who had just stolen a pyramid and his on his way to beat Gru to his prize. I like how the whole supervillain lifestyle is explained in this movie. You always wonder just where they get all the money for their rockets and fancy gizmos. Well we finally get some suitable answers this time around.

Oh, and the kids, gotta love those guys... or girls should I say. Gru adopts three orphan girls (the youngest of which is the cutest thing you'll ever see), only to use them as a part of his diabolical plan to outsmart Vector. Of course he learns his lesson about what's important in life and all that mumbo-jumbo, but as cliché as it gets sometimes, it still has a lot of charm, which should win over most audiences, and that's all that's important really, as long as the plot's there and nothing goes wrong.

While Vector was an entertaining character, I don't feel like he played into the story enough to have much impact, although he didn't have to really. While his portion of the story (Gru vs. Vector) seemed to be more important than the other portion (Gru vs. orphan girls), it was really the latter half that recieved the most attention, and of course it would when you're targeting a younger audience. Gotta teach those kids some respect, and the parents can learn a thing or two as well.

Some other characters seemed to be a little wishy-washy, including one who appears to be the traitor but stays a "good guy" (you'll know who I mean), and some plot twists seemed like they were meant to be huge, but really weren't. Thankfully some other portions of the story made up for it. The soundtrack was awesome and very different for a children's movie, giving of sort of a "gangster" vibe that kids can enjoy. The voice acting was superb as well. Steve Carell comes fresh off the Horton Hears a Who table and delivers yet another entertaining performance, while Jason Segel and Russell Brand also prove to be quite the voice actors.

While Despicable Me wasn't as spectacular as I had expected it to be, I'm not going to complain much. I felt that the 3D experience was great, and all of the characters were captivating enough to distract me from the minor flaws of the movie, while I did stop from time to time to spot a few scenes (and even characters) that were (intentionally?) ripped off from The Incredibles, Wall-E, Up and Monsters, Inc. Don't take this information too hard though, I just watch too many movies. You'll more than likely enjoy this, because I did and everyone else I know did. It's great for everyone, because it's got that adult humor that more and more childrens movies have these days, and of course, everyone loves a good villain.

The Prestige
The Prestige(2006)
½

The Prestige is movie magic at its finest. Ironically, it is a movie about magicians. Hugh Jackman is Robert "The Great Danton" Angier and Christian Bale is Alfred "The Professor" Bordon in this psychological thriller from the genius mind of Christopher Nolan. Now, some people have gone as far as to say that Nolan is the next Kubrick. I don't necessarily disagree, but I don't agree as well. It's a tough comparison, but yes, Nolan is indeed one of the most intelligent and precise filmmakers in the movie industry today. With The Prestige, we actually seen magic within the magic occurring in the story. If you watch closely, you'll actually spot scenes in which Nolan uses some expert camera tricks. In one scene, Jackman plays his own double, and the camera rotates around the two characters, so you think there's obviously a double, but then we see both of their faces at the same time and you know you're seeing some post-production magic happening here. There are many other scenes like this, but I'm not going to ruin them.

I'll get to the point. Most people are thinking "What the hell is going on?" while watching this for the first time. There are a lot of twists and turns in this story, but don't think it's cheap storytelling. We have a movie about magic here, so why can't the movie itself trick the audience? While it's almost impossible to see the ending coming, most people were still disappointed with the anti-climactic nature of the final scene. I wasn't. I felt that the movie itself was described in one scene in which Angier procures the help of Tesla (yeah, that Tesla) to perform a "real" magic trick. The man he shows his trick to first tells him to make it less real, so that the audience still has some doubt. And there's your movie.

The story itself was wonderful. My ONLY problem was the chronological order of the film. I understand it now, after I've seen it five or so times, but upon my first viewing it was difficult to keep up with the actual order of events. It seemed that Nolan got a little too ego-maniacal after the critical success of Memento that he figured he'd try the "backwards time" plot once again, only this time it wasn't exactly backwards, the film started from the end, then went to the beginning, then to the middle, then to the beginning, then back to the end, and so forth. Like I said, it's not a bad thing, it just could've been carried out a little better.

The rivalry between these two magicians originates while they are apprentices for Cutter, played by Michael Caine. Bordon ties a rope too tightly around the wrists of Angier's wife before she is dropped into a water-filled glass case for an on-stage trick, and she drowns. However, at the beginning of the movie, Bordon is at a trial for the murder of Angier. So what spawned that? You just have to watch and find out. Their bitter rivalry causes them to ruin each other's acts to the point of embarassment, until Bordon comes up with a trick that Angier can't seem to top, the disappearing/reappearing act. Angier's obsession becomes as apparent as Bordon's devotion to his craft, and we see the two men's careers take a downward spiral as they continue to ruin each other's lives.

The rivalry between Bordon and Angier is very comparable to the real rivalry of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Although Tesla's alternating current was more efficient than Edison's direct current, Edison obviously received more attention, mostly because of his promotional skills. In the movie, Bordon is ahead of Angier for a while, until Angier finds a way to top Bordon's act, but Bordon still comes in to make a mockery out of Angier and promote his own performance across the street. This leads to the end scene, in which we learn all of the twists that we just couldn't figure out. The magic is revealed, some real and some illusions, and the curtains close on The Prestige right when you say to yourself, "What?" You may be confused at first, because you're trying to figure out if real magic had been used, and that's a question you'll have to answer yourself.

Collateral
Collateral(2004)
½

Films like Collateral (and Heat of course) give us good reasons to like Michael Mann. I mean, wow. While some people may say Collateral moves by very slowly, what we have here is a true piece of cinema, very Taxi Driver-esque, that manages to gives us edge-of-your-seat entertainment with a load of philosophical meaning. I call that kind of thing "exceptional."

In Collateral, we have Tom Cruise at his best playing Vincent, a witty assassin who lures taxi driver Miles (Jamie Foxx, also excellent) into being his personal chauffeur for the night while he takes out a number of people on his "list." Miles proves to be just an average person with big dreams (the American dream, you know), and as low as he may seem being a taxi driver, audiences are still able to relate to him, making him the likable protagonist. He meets a big-time lawyer (Jada Pinkett-Smith), who only makes him realize just how little of a person he really is.

Enter Vincent. When Miles catches on to his plans, he tries to stop him numerous times, but Vincent's witty persuasive skills keep Miles in his service. He is forced to rise to the occasion, despite how little of a person he may be, and gets the entire police force chasing after him by the end of the movie. Whenever a movie like this shoves the cops in there, I'm usually disappointed by cliché characters that only serve to exist in the plot, but here they actually add character to the story. And boy, the climax to this movie is awesome. If you had trouble keeping up with the movie, by then you won't want to stop watching. Don't get too attached to Vincent, you gotta remember he's the bad guy, as cool as he may seem.

By the end we have all of these brilliant questions that are brought up by Miles and Vincent during their cab discussions. Just how meaningless is a person in the world? Where is home when no one really knows you? What does it really mean to make a difference? If you've gained success by ignoring the world, is it really worth it? These two characters prove to be a magna force of complete opposites, Vincent the guy who thinks killing one person is no big deal, while Miles knows whats right from beginning to end. Cruise shines as the "lone wolf" (you'll get what I mean) in Collateral, and while Mann seems afraid to make this the Best Picture type of film that it could've been, at least we still get something pretty incredible out of it.

Terminator Salvation
½

Hey what's the big deal here? The only thing I can think negatively about the Terminator franchise is how much I hated the third one. Boy, what a way to kill how awesome Schwarzenegger was in the first two movies. Actually, his (1 minute or so) cameo in this movie was more exciting than the entire Terminator 3, now that I think about it. But what we have here, wow. After I heard McG was in charge, I was a little upset because they made it seem like this franchise was a joke now. In a way, yeah, they don't have the same feeling as the first two films, and I know they could, but at least they didn't turn it into some terrible TV show... oh, wait.

I was actually impressed by how entertaining this movie was. Of course they couldn't put Arnold in it. Not just because he's the Governator, but because it would just be overkilling his image if they were to use it again. He died off as "the good guy" and if he were to reappear, of course he'd be the villain again. Don't want that. And it'd be too predictable if he were to reappear as a villain, because you just know he'd turn good before it's all over, otherwise it'd suck, maybe.

All of that aside, I enjoyed Sam Worthington as the "terminator" of this film. Don't worry, I'm not ruining it. Don't think you're smart by telling people "you saw the ending coming." Of course you did, they give it away on purpose. The only thing that weirded me out was every scene with Helena Bonham-Carter in it. I don't know what they were going for, and I'm not going to worry too much about it. Although giving away the climax allows for there to be no climax, which would then mean there is in fact no plot. But the plot is there, we just didn't have the best director to put it together. But he still did one hell of a job.

Christian Bale is awesome as John Connor. Although Sam Worthington's character is primarily the main character, which thus makes Connor a secondary character, we see enough screentime from Bale to remind us of who the main guy really is in this story. Anton Yelchin also makes a exceptional appearance as Kyle Reese, the future father of Connor (I know, it's weird). The story is in fact unique as it is the first time it is told through the "terminator's" perspective as he comes into the world of the humans. The actual plot resides with Connor, actually. He's trying to help find surviving humans while also trying to figure out the plans of the machines who have taken over the planet. Had the story focused more on this part, it may have been better, but being told the other way around, I don't know whether to call it impressive or stupid.

The whole world of the 'Terminator' franchise has changed so much over the years that it would be practically impossible for a good film to be made these days, unless it were written at the time of the first two. We've been thinking about the whole confusing "if this happened, then how did this?" scenario that these films have caused us to make into something of a big deal. It's crazy, the whole time-travel concept, let alone the idea of machines developing human emotions, they never can decide which one is a bigger deal. It's never too frustrating, aside from the repetition of lines we've heard so many times already, but at least the story is faithful enough to tie into the past ones (or the future ones?). This wasn't a franchise developed by a genius (no, James Cameron can't write good stories), so I'm not expecting it to ever become a Best Picture-type film. These aren't going to change anything, but at least they make you think when you don't have to.

Despite all of that, the script just gets a little over-the-top on more than too many occasions. Sometimes it's the dialogue, sometimes the scenarios are just too unrealistic, and you really get the feel that you're just watching people act. All of that becomes more and more apparent as the movie goes by, and you can choose to let it get to you or you can just sit back and enjoy this action-packed fiasco.

The best thing about this movie was the action. Seeing it in theaters (twice) was an excellent choice. I needed something loud and exciting, and this was exactly that. The fun part is that this is how it was in the 80's (on an older scale of course) for a blockbuster action film. Insane action topped with fun characters, and that's what we get here. Although we definitely didn't have the smartest writers in the film and you'll definitely be asking yourself "wait, what?"(if you're one to think during films), they seemed to get just about everything else right. Awesome effects, acting, cinematography, it's all there. Just don't think too hard about it, the whole Terminator franchise is a mindf**k.

Knight & Day
Knight & Day(2010)

The levels of ridiculousness fly sky-high in 'Knight and Day,' as do plenty of expensive cars, motorcycles and Tom Cruise. It's what we want to see in a good summer blockbuster. Don't expect it to win any awards, I don't think it was trying to anyway. It only wants a bit of your hard-earned money, and it's well worth it, as long as you weren't expecting something from the Coen brothers.

Honestly, this is a movie worth watching in theaters. The action is spectacular. I wish they had released it in 3D, because I would've gone back to see it then. Although besides that, the skill of director James Mangold ('3:10 to Yuma,' 'Walk the Line') fails to show as much as I expected. There were too many close-ups of Cruise and Diaz, and the script jumps from silly to serious to cheesy to down-right ridiculous. But then again, it's still entertaining.

What we have here is Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in roles they were born to play (maybe not so much Diaz, but definitely Cruise), and perfect timing to make them work terrificly together in this action-comedy, although I'd rather look at it as an action-thriller with a lot of charm. Cruise plays Roy Miller, who turns out to be a framed CIA agent. Haven't seen that one before. He meets Diaz's character at an airport and tries to prevent her from going on his flight, which he plans to sabotage and crash-land. Here's the point where I realized Diaz was the actual main character and not Cruise, as she boards the plane anyway, leading to an action-packed series of events that will turn her life upside down.

A lot of people won't notice it, but by viewing Diaz as the main character, the story seemed a lot like a realistic (well, less surreal) Alice in Wonderland. Yeah, sounds crazy, but trust me on this one. In this case, Diaz is Alice, Tom Cruise is the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the White Rabbit all in one, while the corrupt government is the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat sits out on this one. I noticed the similarities when Cruise would continuously drug Diaz in order to get her to cooperate. Call me silly, but it made the film somewhat more entertaining than it already was for me.

See, since he brought her into his world by accident, when he tried to protect her and keep her out of it in the first place, he now has to protect her full-time now that she's stuck in it, because they apparently have a thing for each other. A somewhat uninteresting subplot pops up about halfway into the movie, when it is revealed that Cruise is carrying a very powerful battery that a lot of big organizations want. It's kinda cool because it's symbolic to the typical action-film immortality of Cruise's character, but besides that it still was kind of a downer after all of the opening action sequences seemed to lead up to something bigger. Another subplot appears later in the film when Diaz discovers the truth about Cruise's past-life, but it really goes nowhere with it.

You really can't take this movie too seriously. That does lose the film some credibility points, but at least it never gets too over-the-top that you start to wonder what's really going on. The ending is also a little far-fetched, but not really too bad. The movie's only purpose is to entertain, and it does it very well without ever seeming too cliché, although the only great acting performances come out of Cruise, Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard and a random appearance by Paul Dano. And as for Cruise and Diaz, I will reiterate what I said earlier that these roles were perfect for them. Cruise's character seemed to be a mix of his roles from almost all of his previous work. Name any of them, and they're here. And Diaz was starting to slip into forgetful territory, when she shines the most as that hopelessly-in-love girl that she plays brilliantly here. The interaction between the two is great, especially since we had already seen them together before in 'Vanilla Sky.'

All in all, 'Knight and Day' is full of laughs, great acting, eye-popping action and car chases that you won't forget, so if you want that, see this. As this summer doesn't have much to offer in the action-comedy category, this is probably you're best bet, although you won't be making a bad decision in staying home if 'Toy Story 3' is your only other option and you've already seen it twice.

Cars
Cars(2006)
½

Upon its release, 'Cars' was by far Pixar's least original, yet most innovative film in their stockpile of masterpieces. Actually, it still holds the crown for that least original factor, unless you want to count sequels in this. The story, we have seen so many times before. I feel like I'm complaining about 'Avatar' all over again. Ironically, there's a reason for that. The plot is almost the same as 'Avatar,' although not entirely, but still enough so that I can compare the two. Don't worry; I won't linger on that too long.

While 'Avatar' made a good point in what it was trying to pull, it doesn't pull off its ambitious goal anywhere near as well as 'Cars' does. If you want to make it more fair, so it doesn't seem like I'm totally bashing James Cameron's work of art (I can see him sarcastically saying, "Hey, did we break even on this?"), the story probably most similar to, say, 'Doc Hollywood,' but I know you guys don't know that movie well enough to understand my judgments. While 'Avatar' stuck to effects more than anything, 'Cars' actually had characters with personalities that actually develop and interact, while the effects were still incredible.

In 'Cars,' we have an arrogant rookie racecar, Lightning McQueen (Steve McQueen reference I believe), who has somehow managed to become one of the best in the league, and it only builds on his narcissist personality. Tony Stark? NO. Doc Hollywood. Only better. In 'Doc Hollywood,' Michael J. Fox plays a rather narcissist plastic surgeon who causes an accident in a small town and is sentenced to serve some time working at the town hospital. He eventually sees himself for what he has become in that he has turned against the world and forgotten the meaning of love. It's a very similar situation in 'Cars.' McQueen falls out of his truck, and "sleep-drives" through a small town, completely destroying their road. He is sentenced to fix the road, and while trying to hurry up with his community service, he finally learns the value of friendship, teamwork and respect and returns for one final race, a totally changed man... er...car.

This is definitely a movie for everyone, especially car fanatics and NASCAR fans worldwide. The cast is near perfect. Owen Wilson is okay as McQueen, although I felt they could've chosen someone better. Michael Keaton is awesome as Chick Hicks, another arrogant racecar who's known for being the "runner-up." This was Keaton's first Pixar role, as we just saw him as Ken Doll in 'Toy Story 3,' and he has proven to be quite the voice actor. It's cool to see Larry the Cable Guy playing Mater and Paul Newman as Doc Hudson (Doc Hollywood?), and even better to see Richard Petty as The King. In a way, having him play that part almost seems like the film is paying homage almost entirely to him. Having him as the biggest legend points out another theme that is displayed in 'Cars,' and that is respect. By the end, we also see McQueen learn the importance of respect and what it means to be a legend with the events that unfold. It sure is a tear-jerker scene.

The only minor problem I had with this movie was the dialogue, which I didn't think was as impressive as Pixar's earlier works. It somewhat lost a few points from me there, but it's not enough to keep me from still admitting that this was an awesome film. The effects, the voices, and the story were well enough for me to recommend this to anyone and say that 'Cars' has a right to be one of Pixar's most famous additions to this day. I still go to the store and see Lightning McQueen toys for sale.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
½

The 'Twilight' franchise doesn't really need "saving." It's actually doing very well. Just look at the box office. DVD sales. Memorabilia. There is indeed a huge fanbase for the series, but how much respect does the franchise have? While the movies made money, a lot of people still hate the franchise, and blame it all on Stephanie Meyer, the author of the sparkling vampire series, who has been criticized for her poor writing skills. And there is little hope for these books when they are translated onto the big screen exactly as they were. Thank God for David Slade.

The British filmmaker started his career with music videos, working with bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Muse. Within the past decade Slade has made the psychological thriller 'Hard Candy' (Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson) and the vampire horror '30 Days of Night' (Josh Hartnett). A good reputation already in the bag, I think we can say it was a great choice to get Slade on board to direct at least one of the 'Twiight' movies. And what great timing. After 'New Moon,' the most recent installment in the film franchise, received a stockload of negative reviews, it seemed like the films had almost become hopeless. It had all become a pop culture thing. Hot guys taking their shirts off more than necessary, a girl who's hopelessly in love with two of these guys, some cool music and pretty scenery was all it took to win over almost every teenage (and middle-aged) female in the world. Now, it seems, we actually have a good movie on our hands. Wait, I won't go THAT far. We have an okay movie on our hands. There, that's more appropriate.

I kept telling people who liked the first two movies that they were just horrible because the directors never really did much with the material they were given, they just planted the general idea from one page to another and thought that would please the majority, when it didn't. But Slade has actually done it. I'm not saying that it's better than any of the 'Harry Potter' movies, but it's actually as good (or faithful may be a better choice of words) of an adaptation as any of them, if that says anything.

When I saw the first trailer for 'Eclipse,' I probably set a world record for the world's fastest facepalm. I honestly thought that this was going to be the worst movie of the year. Turns out that it was just the worst trailer of the year. The movie is a different story. There's less of the sappy crap that made the first two so difficult to watch, and more of the realistic interactions between characters that should've been there from the start in order for the franchise to actually work. The graphics are way better, the action is surprisingly awesome, and the acting has somewhat improved, although that can only be said mostly for Pattinson, who I believe is the only actor worth a damn in these movies (out of the bigger characters, of course). While it's hard to make something good out of 'Twilight,' Slade managed to focus more on the few redeeming qualities of the story, making this somewhat of a better film than the last two films we've seen. So as surprising as it sounds, it's actually worth watching; however, you can live without it. This time around, instead of saying "I'd rather jump in a tub of broken glass and salt than watch that," watching the movie might actually be the better choice.

Girls, this will probably be your favorite 'Twilight' movie. It tops the first two in almost every way (although I loved the 'New Moon' soundtrack). And guys, when your girlfriends force you to go see it with them, it won't be as painful this time as it was the last two times. It may still be painful, yeah, but you won't be too upset about it this time. Think more along the lines of a cat scratch or a tattoo needle rather than the usual icepick to the brain.

Legion
Legion(2010)
½

The Bible is definitely a great place to find a lot of action. I can guarantee that a lot of guys have sat around drinking with their friends and brought up how awesome it'd be to see the story of Revelations turned into a "freakin sweet!" off-the-wall action movie. And here's what happens when one of those people actually has the money to make that movie.

Unfortunately, that's all we get with Legion. In an attempt to make an epic blockbuster out of the ultimate story, they completely forgot to make it actually serve a purpose, and in the end the pointlessness of this movie had reached such astronomical levels that I felt like I had done way more than wasting over an hour of my life.

However, the movie wasn't completely terrible. You'll never be able to tell someone you saw a vulgar grandma, people dropping fake babies, possessed ice cream truck drivers, angels with guns and Tyrese Gibson all in one movie until you've seen this. But it's not saying much when that's the only thing I can say about Legion.

It does make sense that the events would occur in a random diner in the desert just to make the story more interesting, but the people in this movie just didn't seem right, ever. Dennis Quaid and Paul Bettany were pretty good, only because I like them already, but unless you're looking for some videogame-esque eye-candy to pass the time, I honestly don't recommend this to anyone.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

No one's going to force you to like 'Toy Story 3,' but it's really hard not to. Of course, while the majority of people will like it, there will always be someone who doesn't. It's just a natural fact. No matter how good it may be, it just won't please everyone. Even if it is Pixar. Trust me, not everyone liked 'Up,' and there are plenty of people that didn't like 'Wall-E.' A few people just won't like 'Toy Story 3,' and I can only assume that as a child these people were similar to Sid, the villain of the first 'Toy Story,' who found joy in destroying his toys. Others may not like how different 'Toy Story 3' is compared to its predecessors, being so used to the simplistic nature of the earlier Pixar films, when this one is a little more dark and complex. While I was glad to see 'Toy Story 3' getting non-stop rave reviews, I knew after I saw it that some people would not like it so much.

So what's so great about it? Aren't sequels guaranteed for failure these days? Most of the recent major threequels that I remember are 'Spider-man 3' and 'Shrek the Third,' which seemed more like they were made for the money rather than out of necessity. While they were just continuations of their previous entries, 'Toy Story 3' was the final touch to an unfinished product that had been sitting on the shelf for years (over ten, actually). The 'Toy Story' franchise is Pixar's one true masterpiece, as they would be nothing without it, so it makes sense that they conclude it with a bang. What we have now is a grand movie trilogy that ranks with the many greats, although it is the first animated trilogy to rank amongst those classics.

I felt that as a sequel, it did exactly what 'Dark Knight' did for 'Batman Begins.' It gave us everything we wanted to see while also giving us a good, meaningful story that never seemed like it was made for the hell of it. Of course it's made for children, but just like other Pixar films, it somehow finds a way to appeal to people of all ages. Woody, the toy cowboy, is still our main character, but this time around he is facing the end. You've heard the sum of it already so I'm not going to waste my review elaborating on stuff you've heard a hundred times already. Most people are concerned with the dark nature of this story being in a movie directed towards children, but that's just what Pixar does. As Pixar progresses with their technology, the complex and mature nature of their films improve as well. It's obvious that more thinking went into 'Wall-E' and 'Up' than 'Monsters Inc' and 'Cars,' but as these films become less children-oriented and targeted more towards adults, it becomes easier to see flaws if there ever are any.

While the first two 'Toy Story' movies were as successful in a technological sense as they were in a storytelling sense, this installment was running completely on its storytelling abilities. Many times before in movie history we've seen a film set a "bar" that its sequels were not able to top, mainly because they forgot that they were supposed to, so there was indeed a lot of pressure on 'Toy Story 3.' Surprisingly, it managed to pull it off. And there's one particular reason why. Simply, 'Toy Story 3' chooses to embrace an epic-scale adventure while the first two were just a little more of something less. In the first film, Woody was saving Buzz Lightyear. In the second film, it was the other way around. This time, Woody reclaims his hero-status by saving ALL of Andy's toys from annihilation at a prison-like daycare. Of course, with such a duty, it is only inevitable that a story of such epic proportions that's both a second sequel and "for kids" will slip here and there, but at least it never forgets where it's going.

I've seen so many people giving it perfect ratings while also stating that it has it's "flaws" and that it doesn't top the originals (although I have to disagree with the latter statement). I didn't know that things could be perfect and have flaws at the same time, unless I missed out on some recent revolutionary discovery. The story did have its flaws, but they aren't necessarily flaws that ruin the path of the story.

We are introduced to a raid of interesting new characters, especially Ken doll. And it is here that I must go back and compare the film to 'The Dark Knight.' By comparing the two I'm pointing out that certain characters come in and imply that the story is going in one direction, while it is in fact going in another. One scene will end with unanswered questions, and the story will go on. But it is not necessarily a bad flaw if we do not lose focus on our protagonist, Woody, and his journey, because doing so would mean subplots, which aren't particularly a good thing in a children's film that's not really trying to be too complex.

Another film I must compare it to is the recent disaster film '2012,' because after a while there seemed to be scene after scene in which our heroes were in a hopeless situation and made it out at the last second. Luckily, the scenarios weren't as ridiculous and a little more spaced out so that it wouldn't be as noticeable. And with 'Toy Story' being an actual hero story while '2012' was just a mass of garbage, we had a character whose strong belief in family and friendship kept his gang together when there seemed to be no hope.

Another flaw that some people seem to mention is the predictability of the film. We have a wide range of possible outcomes for the toys: the garbage, the daycare, or the attic. I don't know if you can exactly call it predictability when the ending is already somewhat foretold. But to dispose of this predictability is the element of surprise that the film also contains, abundantly to be exact. That's one factor that Pixar implements into its films, is its surprising ability to give its story so much character that separates it from any other story you've heard, while it also shows influence from other great epic stories, that aren't they to say, "Hey, this is a good story!" but instead to show that the film knows where it's going and its going to throw everything and anything at you to prove it.

Now for the "dark" elements of the story. What some people seem to ignore is that what kills sequels is its inability to re-create elements that were present in the films that preceded it. 'Spider-man 3' failed there, re-writing older plots to fit into its new one, almost making 1 and 2 meaningless. The same flaw was heavily present in the 'Transformers' sequel, where a lot of things that happened in the original film seemed to have been forgotten in the second installment. 'Toy Story 3' is different and exceptional in that it continues where it left off. Nothing happened between 2 and 3 that wasn't already common knowledge, otherwise it was mentioned almost immediately to let the audience know that the story has lapsed as much time as it has in the real world. The story is most appealing to the audience the first two films captured, the audience that deserved this sequel the most. The dark elements are a little hard to bear, but they are intended for the now-grown-up fans that grew up watching the film as children. Andy was a child then, and likewise, he is a college student now. The story may not be the easiest for children to watch, but it is the best one that could've been told. It serves to show that no matter the situation, even one that includes a harsh strawberry-scented teddy bear, the strong bond that keeps families together never fails to prevail.

There is obviously a happy ending, and the references to 'Star Wars' and 'Lord of the Rings' (among many others) are there for a reason, as are the references and repetition of themes and events that occurred in the previous two 'Toy Story' films. When the first one was released, it was just a simple story, but when there was a sequel, it turned the franchise into something more. It then needed a proper ending. It could've been worse, but it couldn't have been better. 'Toy Story 3' stamps the franchise that was once just a couple of good stories into an epic adventure of Woody and his crew of toys trying to find their purpose in the world. There is more to them being played with, they are family, and in that sense they are more than just toys. And when that is the case, this is more than just a kid's movie. This is a great journey that serves to captivate audiences and bring back memories of childhood that draw the deepest and most nostalgic of emotions out of us. It is strongest in its ability to show us the true meaning and importance of "growing up," while putting some finishing touches to the family theme that the previous two films implied. Since it is an animated film, it is hard to categorize it with live-action epic trilogies, but it really earns its place amongst them, and in that case, 'Toy Story 3' is perfect.

Remember Me
Remember Me(2010)

The critics hate it, but everyone else loves it. So what's the deal here? All I heard from critics was that the script sucked, the acting was good, and the ending was controversial and offensive. I never caught why people liked it, but I can see why after watching it. People like movies they can relate to, and this is one of those types of movies where people can relate to very easily, but in the end it keeps them from seeing everything that was wrong with it. People like to be rebellious every once in a while. People deal with big losses here and there. They are misunderstood. These are the situations we're dealing with here in 'Remember Me,' and that's why people like it.

Let's get all the good things about this movie out of the way first. The critics were right. The acting was good. It was great, actually. Robert Pattinson, Chris Cooper, and Pierce Brosnan (surprise) were the big stars here. But I had the same problem with them that I had with almost every other actor in this film. They were believable characters, but their characters weren't believable for the story. Pattinson's character, Tyler, is supposed to be the rebel, the one who's doing right but gets blamed for doing wrong all the time. The only thing that's messed up with this scenario is that he is actually making poor choices. He is fighting for a better cause, but he constantly approaches it in the worst way possible.

So he's supposed to be a hero? Come on. The entire movie he is a PUSSY. He runs his mouth but gets beat up for it. He crosses the line when he shouldn't. He causes a scene at an elementary school and gets arrested. There was never a point in this movie where I was on Pattinson's side. I wanted to be, but his character was never a hero of any sort. He never really does anything. He has no objectives. He says that he's "undecided" on everything. He tries to be a good big brother to his little sister, but his life is already stressful because his parents are divorced and his older brother committed suicide years ago. And when these things are revealed we see that this movie is about people dealing with loss, but they never solve the problem, they never answer the question that they keep beating around: Do we forgive and forget, or do we live with our past? Obviously, the title suggests the latter, but Pattinson's character seems to go for the whole forgiveness thing. So do we forgive and not forget? They never tell us, and it's agonizing.

Now for the story. Yes, the premise is good. They usually are. But just as usual as that, these premises never amount to anything, as it is proven here. The plot is too muddled by the many themes it tries to carry that we start to wonder if there even is a plot at all. The comic relief, Tyler's best friend, is more of an antagonist than anything. While all the other characters in the story are pretty realistic, he is annoying stereotypical. He's messy, claims to be a ladies' man but is really a nerd, and only amplifies how "cool" Tyler is by constantly ruining almost everything. And I'm serious about that part. If it weren't for his friend, Tyler wouldn't have gone to jail. Then again he wouldn't have met Ally that way, but he also ruined that for Tyler. He causes Ally to get drunk, and thus upsets her father (Chris Cooper), who happens to be the cop that arrested Tyler earlier. Oh wow, we haven't seen this before. The boy has a secret and thinks he can hide it forever from the girl, but when she finds out all hell breaks loose.

Of course you have to look at the relationship between Tyler and Ally. It's super realistic to watch, because they're meant for each other and it makes sense that they fall in love. Neither one of them have much going for them, they aren't super likeable, and they both have dealt with tragedy (Ally's mom gets shot at the beginning of the movie).

Now for more tragedy. I guess that's what they're going for. We see a lot of tragedies in movies today, but not many of them like this. I'll tell you now that this story is occurring in 2001, so you can only assume what the ending leads up to. I won't give anything away, but the movie sure tries to. During the last fifteen minutes or so, when matters couldn't get much worse, this depressing music starts playing that just tells you something bad is about to happen. It didn't make the movie any worse, but I would've liked a normal ending, not one where everyone is crying at first, and then they move on. When that happens, I can't decide if they're just trying to pretend this is real life or if they're trying to prove something. I can't tell because the movie wants to have a message but focuses too much on the love story subplot.

If you don't think about all of these things, you might consider this a good movie. I recommend it, because it's not horrendous, but don't expect anything spectacular, besides the acting that keeps the movie from failing completely. Pattinson especially. Most people will see this (or avoid it) because of him. He is actually very similar to his 'Twilight' character, minus the living-for-eternity thing (no jokes intended there). But don't expect anything uplifting. 'Remember Me' is simply a film that begs for attention and cries when it can't tell us what's on its mind. Its initial purpose, by the end, appears to be an effort in reminding people that they must remember the past in order to move forward, but pushes it in our faces so much that I want to forget that I ever gave this movie a chance.

I have to give it some more credit though, for the effort. And for it's effort, I'm somewhat flattered. No film tries this hard to remind us of things we've tried to forget. Once it sets in, you forget all of the bad things about this movie. Despite all of those errors, it just works, although it is mediocre at best, you'll probably still like it for it's charm.

Jonah Hex
Jonah Hex(2010)

One thing about Hollywood these days is that they really know how to polish a turd. By that, I mean they really know how to sell their product. Today a lot of trailers seem to be better than the actual film they're previewing. Such is the case with 'Jonah Hex.' I was sold after seeing Josh Brolin ('No Country for Old Men,' 'W') riding a horse with machine guns strapped to its sides. Not once did I question whether the rest of the movie was going to be as ridiculous, when it was.

The story was good, I'll give them some credit for that, but it's really not enough to justify anything. It's only the premise that's good, actually. Jonah Hex is hired by the president to hunt down an ex-Confederate terrorist (John Malcovich), who just happened to kill Hex's family and give him a pretty nasty scar. And the scar is supposed to be a figurative metaphor for the trauma induced after the Civil War, similar to how we've seen a lot of people act after Vietnam. Yeah, it's smart, but try to actually do something with the symbolism instead of just letting it sit there. You can be a smart person but you have to prove it first.

What doesn't work is how they put this together. Megan Fox plays Hex's prostitute lover, but Brolin never shows any convincing care for her, so that whole relationship was ruined for me. They seemed to have thrown a lot of big names and faces in here. You'll know what I mean if you bother to watch it. The action is okay, but sometimes the movie seems to rely only on the action and nothing else, giving no characters besides Hex enough screen time to even matter. Fox's character, among others, actually could've been left out. They paid so much attention to Hex that it takes away from every other element of the story, and Brolin isn't even that great as the main character. Aside from the nasty scar, he's not much different than the gunslinger-hero-type from any other crappy western. Actually, he may be worse. His voice is so annoying (like Dark Knight-Batman-voice-annoying) that you'll be lucky to catch half of what he says.

I have to feel somewhat sorry for the people making this, because I know that there were some reshoots and a lot of the film was edited (very poorly) to a result that was much different than originally intended. The same thing happened to 'Hancock' and that was just about as much of a disaster. What I don't understand is why they bother to edit the film when the changes alter the tone of the movie altogether in such a negative way. It's not acceptable, ever.

All in all, 'Jonah Hex' is another Hollywood attempt to trick as many people into going to see the garbage they're throwing out the first week, hoping that the trailer was good enough to convince a good number of moviegoers. Well, they sure tricked me. Hopefully studios can start putting as much effort into the actual movie as they do in the trailers, then these kind of movies will be good again.

One last note: this movie is barely over an hour long. Seriously?

Hot Tub Time Machine
½

It worked. It actually worked. Over and over I kept telling myself that this movie would not be good. The second I heard the title I thought it was going to be another terrible comedy along the lines of 'Year One' and 'Drillbit Taylor.' Then I heard it was good. I couldn't believe it. So I told myself I would eventually see what all the fuss was about, and I did, and it was actually more impressive than I had expected. However, one person told me it was "'The Hangover' meets 'Back to the Future'." This kind of saying was easily believable after 'Zombieland' was called "'Superbad' meets 'Shaun of the Dead'" and that proved true. Sadly, I can see how someone could say that, but it wasn't nearly as good or funny as either of those films. Don't get me wrong, that's not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of things went right in 'Hot Tub Time Machine' where they could've gone wrong, so you have to give it a lot of respect for pulling off what it did.

First off, the story is simple. It's almost too simple, but it's elevated to such great heights when the main characters are suddenly transported into a world that existed over twenty years ago. These main characters are Adam (John Cusack), his nephew Jacob (Clark Duke), and his two friends Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou (Robb Corddry).

Adam suffers a lifetime of heartache after breaking up with a girl back in the 80's (and getting stabbed in the eye for it). Now his most recent girlfriend has left him and took his flatscreen, to make matters worse. John Cusack is likeable enough in this role, although it is not his best role ever. What's best about his character is that he's a lot like the characters Cusack portrayed in '80's teen comedies, so in a way the film paid a respectful tribute to his acclaimed work. Jacob is a loser, and they don't give us too interesting of a character out of him. He has little background, besides the fact that he plays Second Life in Adam's basement. Nick works for a dog-grooming business, and is in a miserable relationship in which his wife is cheating on him. Lou is an alcoholic and suicidal because his friends never have time for him anymore. Corddry is pretty good as Lou, but sometimes he overacts, and he gets about as annoying as he's been in any other role he's done.

After Lou attempts suicide, his friends decide to take him back to the ski resort they used to go to when they were teenagers. Jacob joins them. At the beginning of the film, the four guys are living miserable lives, but they are given the opportunity to relive a day in their teenage lives when a hot tub at the resort malfunctions and transports them back in time. Instead of placing them alongside their former selves, they are actually themselves in that particular time period, so they must choose between reliving their past the way it really happened or taking different paths to make their futures better. Of course they decide to enjoy their time in the 80's and alter the course of history, but they are reminded of Jacob and that they must act carefully to ensure his survival.

What's interesting is that the random concept of a hot tub with time-travelling capabilities almost runs parallel with the movie itself. You think it sounds perposterous and there's no chance of it working. But it did. The movie itself was a fantastic portrait of the 80's and stayed true to itself while deriving most of its humor from making fun of the decade's pop culture. Sometimes there would be lines that would be a little outlandish, and it was obvious that the writers were trying to copy The Hangover's humor to a point. Even though they did a fairly decent job, they would slip every now and then and ruin their chances of beating it. While most people in time-travel stories learn valuable lessons by worsening their futures, the four guys actually make their future better, and it completely reverses the role the time machine usually plays in this type of film. While the others were somewhat of a tragedy, this one was a comedy, and there was a very hilarious happy ending. Hop in while the party's still hot, 'Hot Tub Time Machine' is a hit.


Did I enjoy it? Yes.
Was it ever awkward? Yes.
Annoying? Rarely.
Did I ever laugh? Yes.
Did I say wow? No.
Corny-factor? 4/10
Does it ever get graphic? Not really.
Any nudity? Yes.
Any sex scenes? Yes.
Will I watch it again? Yes.
How soon? Pretty soon, within a month.
Were there any standout roles? Craig Robinson,
Any surprise guests? Chevy Chase, Crispin Glover
Any good music? Yes.

Get Him to the Greek

We all know it's a spinoff of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but Get Him to the Greek seems more like a sequel to Funny People. Why? Because it's nowhere near as funny as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and the dramatic moments usually outweigh the few comedic ones. And it even has a similar story: a loser who gets a big break following around a struggling star who is distracted by his failed relationship with the love of his life. As a sequel, it does not come close to being as good as its predecessor, but as a spinoff, it's actually a great movie. Let's ignore the fact that it wasn't incredibly funny. It has a good story that doesn't ever lose track of where it's going, and, like many other Apatow movies, it gives us a detailed look at the downsides to stardom. While Funny People tackled the movie industry, Get Him to the Greek elevates the music industry satire that Forgetting Sarah Marshall brushed here and there, bringing back the great supporting character Aldus Snow (Russell Brand), who is once again the supporting character, but on a larger scale this time.

This time our main character is Aaron, played by Jonah Hill. Note that this is not the character he played in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which I found a little off-setting since they could've easily brought back that character, being that he was also a huge fan of Snow's. But no, this time he's an intern for a music company, and he proposes the idea to fetch Aldus Snow and get him to LA for a concert that marks the ten-year anniversary of his live album from the same theatre. His boss, played by P Diddy (sometimes funny, but not too impressive since he can't act), likes the idea and appoints Aaron to be the one to bring Snow from London to LA for the show. However, Aldus Snow is more of a lunatic than he was in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, because he is no longer "seven years sober," but instead drinking and taking as many drugs as possible. Why? Because his latest album "African Child" was a disaster (it's pretty funny when they joke about it), and he is no longer with Jackie Q, a famous pop-singer that he has a child with. Of course we get to see more of his personal life, and it builds on his character, but I honestly enjoyed him more when I didn't know much about him. I actually cared less for him after seeing this, but when has a famous rock star like Aldus Snow ever been a respectable person when their personal life is exposed? I think that's the point of this movie, like Funny People, to point out that stars are just as human as anyone else, and it does this very well.

Where it gets funny is when Aaron and Aldus share the screen. The chemistry between the two is excellent, but when they are apart, don't be surprised if you aren't laughing much. The humor in the movie seems like The Hangover at some points, as if this is guaranteed funny, but they would've been better off sticking to the Apatow-style "realistic" humor that made Forgetting Sarah Marshall so hilarious. If you view this movie as a drama, you may be more pleased, because it succeeds as that, but as a comedy it doesn't do very much. Yes, there are a few scenes that are quite hilarious. Two I recall the best include one where Aaron attempts to sneeze in an airport while concealing a bag of heroin in his rectum, and another where Aldus proposes the idea of having a threesome with Aaron and his girlfriend. What kept this film alive, though, is its strong story, great acting from Russell Brand and Jonah Hill, a pretty awesome soundtrack that's both hilarious and quite catchy at times, and the perspective it gives us of life as a rock star. When you leave the theater you will honestly feel like you've spent a day with Aldus Snow. I did at least. What's so great about this movie is that it works well as a story of its own and does not attach itself to its predecessor at all, although it does poke fun at the Sarah Marshall character in one scene. While it's not the funniest movie ever, it's still a memorable film that will not be forgotten. Consider this your exclusive front row ticket to the wild rock star life.

Splice
Splice(2010)
½

Good sci-fi horrors are a rarity these days. Why? Because people are running out of ideas. Luckily, there are always new ones right around the corner. But seriously, it's been probably over ten years since we've had a REALLY good film from this genre. The most recent ones I can think of are The Fly, The Thing, and Alien. But when you look at Splice, you see something completely different. Maybe slasher gore has become a thing of the past. Maybe there are other ways to horrify audiences, because Splice does just that. We have one of the first horror movies in a long time that pushes a lot of boundaries, and despite some significantly disturbing sequences, somehow manages to succeed, although not as much as it could have.

In today's day and age, people dig realism. Everything has to be "real," we can no longer have corny, theatrical moments in film anymore. People don't want to escape to another world any longer. Now they just want to see things the way they would happen in real life. Splice is the first sci-fi horror since The Fly that does this so well. Ironically, the stories are somewhat similar. In the end of The Fly, the mad scientist was trying to turn his teleporting devices into machines that spliced DNA, but he never got around to it due to the fact that he was a large fly. The scary part of the climax was the dreadful thought of all the possibilities of "splicing." Although, of course, it never happened, it does in Splice.

We have a couple of scientists splicing DNA to, you know, help the future of mankind and cure diseases, we've all heard that mess before. One thing I have to admit is that I was really anticipating this film so I knew a lot about it beforehand. But when I was watching it, I somehow felt as if the story wasn't really telling me all of the things I already knew. It kinda started without much explanation of anything, and I guess that helps with the mysterious aura of the film, but I wasn't too thrilled by that.

Besides that, these scientists are creating new species in the process of their experiments. In the beginning we see Fred and Ginger, two of the ugliest creatures you'll ever see, and for some reason they talk about them being "perfect in every way" and I just didn't feel like they were anywhere near perfect. Of course, I'm probably being ignorant of the fact that if there were to be a new species created by scientists, it probably would look something like this. The scientists propose to their financiers the idea of combining human DNA with the DNA they've already created by splicing various species. They're denied authorization to continue, but since they're mad scientists, they do it anyway secretly.

Here's the thing. Many horror movies forget that the characters should be real people. They usually never have any definitive qualities besides the fact that they are victims. In Splice, we have a two people (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) who are in the middle of this experiment, but they are still concerned about their own future and when they'll decide to have a child together. Like The Exorcist and The Thing, the horror of the story wraps around the psychological deterioration of it's protagonists the way it's supposed to. The result of their human-splicing experiment is Dren, who they start to treat as a pet, but also as a child in a way, since it has many human characteristics. Of course, it isn't as cute as it appears to be at first, and as it's other animal instincts start to take over, it becomes more uncontrollable, and inevitably dangerous.

Now here's where it gets crazy. A lot of people are going to be turned off by the fact that Dren eventually becomes sexually aware of the two people that are around her constantly, and just as any other creature would, her instinctive desire to reproduce becomes more and more of a problem as the story goes on. It's very similar to the film Species, in a sense that she uses her looks to seduce Adrien Brody's character, but not as fun to watch, because Dren's non-human characteristics are just too weird to accept.

The story gets stranger and stranger, and I'm not going to give away too much, but the ending is way more bizarre than you'll ever imagine. What I find most interesting is the fact that the film gets way more disturbing as the characters continue to keep Dren alive, although they constantly discuss killing her. Like Dren, the film continues to get more dangerous as it keeps alive. Like Dren, it is something new that we have never seen before. It's a brand new type of horror! My main disappointment was the direction it went. While it stayed true to it's theme and the most realistic portrayal of Dren's natural abilities, I felt that the film was building up to something incredible, but in the end it just felt mediocre. The end was about as incredible as the end to, say, Alien vs. Predator. However, Vincenzo Natali dared to cross every boundary that he could, and the end result is something most people won't like at first because they're not used to it. I'm not saying that I was all for it, but the purpose of sci-fi horror is to gross out audiences, and in an era that revolves around marketing sex, why not use that to scare people and mess with their heads? Expect this to be the first of many gross sci-fi horror movies to come, as the genre is definitely alive again and ready to push even more boundaries. Although I don't recommend it to everyone, it is definitely one of the smartest and most realistic films of its type in a long time, so in a way, it is a breath of fresh air, although it can also induce some gags here and there.

I Love You Phillip Morris
½

I Love You Phillip Morris is a film that most people will not watch, simply for the fact that it focuses around a homosexual. If you are one of these ignorant, homophobic people then you can stop reading because I know you won't see the movie or you'll turn it off pretty quickly if you do. For everyone else, let me tell you about this great film.

Remember, this is a true story. They let you know, twice, before the movie even starts. It's hard to believe it, because the events in the story are sometimes too absurd to take seriously, but then you have to consider the fact that maybe they're going for that? A recurring theme in the film is that of trust. You trust this to be a true story, so you're supposed to believe everything that happened really happened! We have Steven Russell (Jim Carrey), who has been gay since he was young. He's fooled everyone, because he ends up getting married and having two kids. Eventually, he gets tired of his life and confronts his sexuality, becoming as gay as one can get. I know, it may sound unappealing, but believe me, Carrey's performance is incredible, so you're hooked from the opening scene to the ending credits.

He admits that being gay is expensive, and he goes into insurance fraud to get some extra money, but he winds up in jail for it. It is there that he meets Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), who ends up being "the love of his life," and their relationship in prison is actually one of the best romances I've seen in a movie, as sad as that may sound. Soon Russell succumbs to his criminal behavior and cons himself and Morris out of prison, where they begin a life as a happy couple. However, Russell continues to con his way into more and more money, and he winds up getting himself and Morris arrested once again. As crazy as it sounds, it's really great.

It's interesting to watch Russell's parallel struggle to hide his homosexuality from the world and his criminal activity from Phillip, as it makes Phillip a more important character and makes you feel for the both of them, as they appear just as real as any other couple in a movie. What elevates the film to excellence is the climactic ending, when it is not only the world around Russell being conned, but the audience as well. As a film that impact the story and the viewers that much at the same time, I would honestly recommend it to anyone. It doesn't focus on the characters homosexuality as much as Milk or Brokeback Mountain did, but believe me, what you will see is pretty funny, if sometimes hilariously ridiculous. Keep in mind that the guys who wrote and directed this also wrote Bad Santa, if that helps you understand what kind of movie this really is.

The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall And Felt Superbad About It

With all the terrible spoof movies you see today, it's hard to give any of them a chance just from prior knowledge of their reputation. This however, was not terrible at all. It wasn't "so stupid it's funny." It was actually pretty smart. Sadly you probably won't hear about it or care to see it if you do just because you've grown to hate these types of movies. But remember how good they were back in the day? Remember Airplane? Robin Hood: Men in Tights? Yeah, it's possible to make a good spoof movie. It's not like they've been doomed to suck from day one. As long as you don't have an idiot making an idiotic movie, we'll be fine.

Most spoof movies these days try to poke fun at random movies that were popular, and it usually becomes a jumbled mess. Remember how lame Epic Movie and Date Movie were? And, less we forget the horrid Disaster Movie. Meet the Spartans had some promise, but it turned out to be stupid as well as it had nowhere to go when it was only making fun of one movie most of the time (and randomly making fun of Happy Feet and Shrek?). There's never any point to these movies, they're usually just trying (very poorly) to mock certain film genres. This one does the opposite. It does what it's supposed to. They don't make fun of a genre, but instead focus on the themes of these genres and exploit them in the best way possible.

From the title you can already assume that it's going to make fun of Judd Apatow comedies, and it does just that. From the opening scene the film focuses on exploiting one thing and one thing only: sex. And maybe drugs here and there. But it warps together four Apatow movies (do I really need to tell you which ones?) in a way that isn't bad at all, it actually makes it a plausible story of it's own.

We have the 41-year-old virgin, who for some reason lives (or maybe frequently hangs out) with three sex-crazed teenagers (clearly the three from Superbad), one obvious Seth Rogen (the guy really looks and sounds like him), the typical foreigner and a black guy who ages backwards like Benjamin Button. Sounds crazy right? It may be pretty absurd at points, but it never slips away from its main point, which is pointing out the sexual nature of modern comedies, particularly Apatow films. Besides that, it throws in a few jokes pointed towards reality, such as one scene that makes fun of To Catch a Predator, which I think is one of the funniest scenes I've seen in a movie in a long time.

Anyway, his guy has decided to do something about his virginity, and his friends step in to help him, but he ends up getting blamed for impregnating a girl who's psycho. I'm not going to say anymore, because it's just so ridiculous you have to watch it to understand how well it pulls off ripping these films a new one. But I'll tell you now that it's not one to avoid. If you like the satirical humor of Airplane (you can see the apparent influence), then this is for you. I really don't know who not to recommend this movie to. Although it's not completely fantastic, because it tends to get a little carried away sometimes, it's still one of the best spoofs I've seen in a while.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Dear Chris Weitz,

You really seem to know what you're doing. I hated the first Twilight movie. The only thing good about it was the cinematography. Luckily, you topped it. I actually liked the way New Moon looked. You created the perfect setting for this story, but the sad thing is that the story isn't perfect for the setting. It's not you though. The premise of the story is actually pretty cool. A human falling in love with a vampire. A lot of cool themes floating around. However, Stephenie Meyer isn't a very good writer. She had cool ideas, but she never knew how to grasp them like she should have. Most fans appear to be so intrigued by the themes of Twilight that they don't realize how bad the story actually is. The plot is never clear, as there are twists and turns all over this messy series. But twists seem to be a growing trend in storytelling. It drives people nuts. They love it. So you're okay, most people are going to love this movie. Most of those people read the books. The other people that see this movie may think it looks good here and there, like I did, and some people can relate to Bella's situation, but the rest of the movie fails. Let me explain why.

I'm going to be fair with you. I'm not going to jump on the "cool" bandwagon and prejudicially say the movie is "gay," but you have to realize that people don't like Twilight for a reason. We're already going to take off like 20 points because the story is so STUPID. But you could've pulled it off. If the story sucks, it's not like you couldn't make it better. It's okay, if you take out characters it won't be that big of a deal, to me at least. But of course you can't do that. Production companies are going to want you to direct this to the millions of fans of Meyer's novels, so sadly you're going to have to stick to the suckfest that's already there.

This story follows a girl who's vampire lover runs away to protect her in the long run, and to cope with her feelings for him she starts to hang around a guy who turns out to be a werewolf. Yeah, it's exciting, because we like supernatural stuff these days. But the way things unfold in the story just ends up to be disappointing. There are all of these stupid little touches to the story that Meyer apparently thought were cool, but they aren't, unless your a girl. The baseball thing was dumb, and the vampires sparkling was ridiculous, but in this movie you guys cross the line. People shouldn't be taking their shirts off this much in a movie. Not unless the people who aren't taking their shirts off are reacting to the ones who are. And they don't. Bella, or any other resident in Forks, never finds it weird that a bunch of guys are running around the town topless, and they're ripped like crazy. And they bring it up too. Bella mentions how great Jacob looks, but you would think a girl would eventually get weirded out by a guy going topless for this long.

That's when I have to bring up Bella's character. Kristen Stewart was a bad choice. She's attractive, yeah, but she's not a good actress. She's always the same unlikeable junkie who tries to play off being innocent and overly emotional. Yeah, we can see her trying. She goes nuts. It's so bad that she becomes really annoying. She literally appears to be going insane, and it starts to get awkward. She keeps putting herself in risky situations and I eventually wanted to hit her for being so stupid. Her relationship between Edward and Jacob is so ridiculous, firstly because it's a HIGH SCHOOL ROMANCE. Why are they so serious about their love life? The love triangle between these characters ends up looking like a bad reality television series. Robert Pattinson is the only acceptable actor. He actually does a pretty good job. Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart are just so bad that it's embarrassing to watch. They're so bad that they aren't even likeable after a while. I actually started to get annoyed by Jacob, and then by Bella, who I believe was overreacting... just a little. Fortunately, the situation they're in is interesting enough to hold our attention. The few artistic scenes (usually involving Bella's dreams or her hallucinations of Edward appearing everywhere) are actually pretty impressive. When Bella jumps off a cliff into the ocean, the following scene was actually the most romantic of anything I've seen. Just the art in it. It wasn't trying too hard, it was just that beautiful. Unfortunately, you start to ignore all of the interesting stuff that's going on outside of Forks, and you don't realize it until the very end, after we've already sat through 2 hours of all of these absurd plot twists.

And I don't know if you noticed, but the movie seemed to make fun of itself a lot. When Bella and Jessica leave the theater they talk about the movie industry and actually seem to be joking, in a way, about how bad the movie they're in is. It's cool if you intended it, but it's about as cheesy as the Romeo and Juliet symbolism that you try to rub in our faces. We're smart, we can figure these things out on our own.

I'll mention again that I still liked the way the movie looked. It was enough to get you a few million dollars in the box office. It's enough that I could actually sit through it again, just like I could sit through Joe Dirt or Team America or... Down to Earth again. The actors were attractive enough to cover up their bad acting skills, so I gotta give you credit for pulling that off. I would have rather had good actors though. They don't have to look perfect. No one looks perfect. But they do in Twilight. I guess the world in Twilight is a world of its own, a fantasy world for the teenage American girls of today's society. And when that's all it is, how impressive is it in the end when it shares the same fanbase with Hannah Montana?

Bakjwi (Thirst)
½

Okay, I think it's safe to say that Thirst is one of the best vampire films out there. It's right up there with Let the Right One In. Blows Twilight out of the water completely. Of course, it won't get as much recognition because it doesn't aim to please teenage American girls. I don't think it actually aims to please anyone. It just aims to get the vampire genre right, and it hit the bullseye. If you like originality, this is for you. If you don't, then you can stick to the fancy sparkling vampires. Here's one of the first movies that tries to acknowledge vampire folklore from a scientific perspective, and the end result is nothing short of amazing.

The story follows a priest who is accidentally transfused with the blood of a vampire, and his life takes a turn for the worst, at least in his mind. He is suddenly stricken with sinful urges that he has been trying to fight his whole life, but they are stronger than ever, and he must find a way to deal with them while also finding a way to stay alive with his new "illness." The story defines a vampire as a diseased human, and that's exactly the way the priest deals with it. He doesn't want to throw away his humanity, although his illness urges him to more and more every day, including strong sexual urges that he's tried to avoid. He suddenly falls for a girl who has lived a miserable life, and when he turns her into a vampire, upon request, he realizes that he has made a terrible decision as she turns into the monster that he's been trying to hide within himself.

The coolest thing about the movie, I thought, was Park's interpretation of vampires. They didn't have fangs, so they had to find other means to acquiring blood (cutting with knifes, sucking blood from coma patients, etc). When they didn't drink blood, their skins starts to boil, but replenishing themselves brings regenerative powers. The only thing that was kinda weird was that while Park tried to make vampires realistic, out of nowhere they could fly and they had super-strength, and it kinda took away whatever he was going for. There wasn't much explanation as to how the disease gave them these particular powers, as I assume Park was only trying to stick to the usual powers that a vampire normally had in other stories, but it still kept it from being as great as it could've been. I'm not completely against it, because the scenes where really fun to watch, but it just didn't make sense, and I thought that was what this movie was trying to do.

All of that aside, along with a great story there is also great cinematography, a romantic feel that makes Twilight look childish, superb acting, beautiful dialogue, and great directing from Chan Wook Park (if you've seen Oldboy you will be able to see Park's style in both of these films). The story brings up the question as to whether vampires are still humans or human-eating beasts, and when compared to a beast, the priest starts to re-analyze how he's lived his life and the story just gets better and better from there on. Don't expect a clean, pretty movie. It's graphic, it's dark, it's a mixture of what you'll expect and what you won't, but all in all, it's a mark of brilliance that you won't see every day. Go see it now if you're into this sorta thing.

The Wolfman
The Wolfman(2010)

Imagine having a term paper, and the whole semester you have a great idea about what you're going to write, but you don't do any of it until the night before. That's what this was like. A movie that could've been incredibly awesome ended up being CGI garbage. You'd think that with the technology we have today that a great werewolf movie would be easy to pull off, but obviously it's not. The best possible cast you could have and a pretty great team apparently wasn't enough. You'd think when you put together the writers of Road to Perdition and Seven the result would be extravagant, but in the end it just seemed rushed.

The story starts out alright and seems promising. Just a good first paragraph really. Then it starts to jump forward in ways that take away from the events that were already occurring. When Del Toro's character is asked to return home, the cause of events that unfolded are already predictable because of the actions of certain characters. A love interest is thrown in there. Emily Blunt looked pretty good, but whatever was happening between her and Benicio seemed rushed and unrealistic. But maybe they were going for the feel of a primitive story? I don't know. Hugo Weaving plays a pretty good villain, although he's really the good guy, so they kind of got it wrong there. Anthony Hopkins just seems ridiculous the whole time. I felt like they told him what to say five minutes before he said it and to act like he had the pecs of a god or something. Maybe he was getting ready for Thor?

You expect a great story, like something similar to Sleepy Hollow, but after sitting through this I felt tricked. The Wolfman just looked silly, and it seemed like they were going for too many cheap scares instead of actually making a good horror movie, which wasn't the point of the original Wolfman, which wasn't that great of a film in the first place. Yeah, there are a few cool scenes, but the script was nothing special, the acting wasn't even that good, and everything seemed to go by too fast. I don't know how production companies expect to make any money on films this bad. It's obvious that when a movie is delayed (in most cases), that there were problems with the movie already. Maybe Tim Burton would've been the only director capable of making this movie successful, but I don't know if that would've even been enough.

An American Werewolf in London

Who would've thought that the guy that did Animal House would do a werewolf movie? And who would've imagined it being this good? To this day An American Werewolf in London is still the best werewolf movie because it doesn't try too hard to sink into the folklore of the genre, instead it incorporates it into the story that is already happening. What we get in the end is one of the most electrifying horror movies that never fails to entertain.

We get the comedy, luckily, because it's hard to pull off a werewolf movie without showing too much violence and gore, something that wouldn't appeal to most movie-goers. And it's great humor because we're used to it now, so it's nothing new or nothing old. It's just the story that's new. Ever since this movie we've gotten plenty of horror-comedies (Teen Wolf, Evil Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Drag Me to Hell), mostly because they're the two most opposite genres in film, and putting them together is a risk that's worth taking when it's pulled off as well as it is here.

While it is the greatest of it's type, it doesn't do too much to actually evelate the werewolf genre. Clearly it's still one of the least popular ones, as it's usually the backdrop to a vampire story these days. However, American Werewolf in London does enough to make itself a noteworthy film that exceeds expectations by bringing us something extremely entertaining that's filled with good acting, good dialogue, a good story, and even better, great filming. See it you haven't, because otherwise you're missing out. This movie still has the best transformation scene of all werewolf movies, and it's surprising that it still hasn't been topped.

Beauty and the Beast

Here's an idea, let's stop putting big voices in Disney movies and instead get stage performers who sing on a regular basis. Because you have to admit, one of the best things about Beauty and the Beast is its musical notes that are unlike anything you've ever seen in a movie like this in a long time. Don't get me wrong though, that is not the only outstanding quality of this movie. Its story, the characters, the suspense, the romance, the drama, its underlying message, they are all things that make this the best Disney movie of all time. Try as you will, Disney, but this will never be topped.

We have the classic tale of a woman, Belle, who falls in love with a man who has been downcasted by society as a monster, and the jealous town hero who aims to kill this beast. The story brings forward the saying "beauty is only skin deep" when the Beast actually turns out to be a good person and Gaston, the man who wants to marry Belle, a bad person. It makes you question whether or not the "Beauty" mentioned in the title is actually Belle, when it could be referring to the Beast, and if Gaston is actually the "Beast." All of that aside, watching Belle and the Beast fall in love in a believable manner makes this simply outstanding. Never before had animated characters been given so much, well, character, that made their feelings for one another realistic.

One of the most entertaining thing about Disney movies is that they give more life to their supporting characters than any other films ever do. Beauty and the Beast is probably the best example of their profound skill in doing so. My personal favorite is Lumiere, who makes the "Be Our Guest" scene one the most memorable musical sequences to date. The only person who would find as much fascination in a lamp, a clock, a teapot, a teacup and a wardrobe would be Brick from Anchorman ("I love lamp.").

Another great quality that separates this from other animated films is the brilliance put into it's effects, showing probably the best to date, while having some of the most beautiful scores ever to elevate it to an entirely new level. The film is, in some cases, a romantic horror, the best since classic Dracula, and its great to see Disney do something like this, as it has almost everything great a movie could have, the scares, the laughs and the overall magnificence of the way it's carried out.

Without Beauty and the Beast, it probably would've been a while until we saw the Best Animated Feature appear at the Academy Awards ceremony. Although it has separated animated films from live action films in a way that makes them more kid-oriented to the public eye, it showed how much of an impact an animated movie can have as a whole. Although it didn't beat Silence of the Lambs in the running Best Picture, it doesn't mean that Beauty and the Beast isn't the best animated movie of all time, which I believe it is.

30 Days of Night
½

I would think that if your only way of surviving was by sucking the blood of humans, you wouldn't be the most noble person. I'm not saying I hate Underworld, but the idea of vampires acting "proper" and aristocratic is a little absurd. Here is a movie that gets it right. We have a group of vicious vampires that survive by traveling in packs and wiping out entire villages, and get away with it by making it look like some sort of accident occurred. In this case, they take over an Alaskan town that doesn't see daylight for 30 days, and their plan is to burn the place down after they're done to eliminate any outside suspicion. In order to keep the townspeople from escaping, they trap them by eradicating their means of communication and transportation with the outside world, making these vampires the hunters they're supposed to be. Remember the '20's Nosferatu? Imagine say, ten or so of those type of vampires in one movie, and that's what you get here.

Yeah, the movie sometimes slips into clichéd territory (b-movie acting, cheap scares), but it never loses its momentum. Josh Hartnett and Melissa George play two individuals whose relationship status is made apparent from the beginning of the film, and they have to overcome their feelings for each other to help as many of the townspeople survive the invasion. We have some modern horror mixed with classic horror styles, and some intense action that make this an exceptionally entertaining vampire movie. The filming is pretty fantastic, although the flow of the film isn't as great as it could've been. All of that aside, if anyone ever asks me for a good scary movie, this is one of the first films that come to mind. Some may not like it for its perspective of the vampire mythology, but when they're usually portrayed ridiculously in movies today, anything new is good in my book.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
½

Dear Michael Bay,

If you're going to make a movie two and a half hours long, please make it something worth watching. Yes, the first Transformers movie was pretty awesome, but what was this? Did you think we wouldn't notice all of the things that were wrong with this movie? The first one was easy to follow because the plot, as dull as it may be, was explained within the first third of the movie. In this one the plot never picked up at all. Towards the end you were still trying to explain to us what was going on, and I gotta be honest, it's not fun to have to process this kind of thing for this long. Yes, a lot happened, but at least you could've found some kind of way to let us know ahead of time what was going on. Instead, stuff would happen for a few minutes, things would explode, people would yell, and then one of the Tranformers or John Turturro would explain what had just happened as if that's the way you're supposed to tell a story. Newsflash, it's not.

And what was with all of the jokes? Is it still the 90's? I can guarantee you that you spent at least thirty minutes to an hour throwing the dumbest things at us in ways that didn't contribute to the story in any way. It was kinda funny sometimes, like maybe the first few times, but after that we figured out you were just trying to make us laugh. Were you scared that the action wouldn't be enough? Were you trying to make the perfect blockbuster? Is that why we see Megan Fox a little more than necessary? Well, the action was more than enough. Sometimes I didn't even know what I was watching. I just saw a bunch of colors and explosions and heard some grunting here and there.

Oh, and why doesn't this movie tie in with the first movie? I thought Megatron was a jet? I thought Bumblebee's voice was fixed? I thought human weapons couldn't harm Transformers? How did you get away with all of these mistakes? Throughout the movie there are numerous occasions where what's going on makes no sense. Are Transformers sexually active? Why would a Transformer need glasses? How is Optimus a descendant? Do Transformers have parents? I thought all of the Primes died? Why would you make Transformers that are gangster? People get offended easily, you know. Why do Sam's parent's act so unruly? Is Sam invincible against gunfire? And is there a Transformer heaven? Why are there so many Transformers? You bring in a monumental amount of characters and kill them off instantly. The Destructicon had, what, ten minutes of screentime? And about twenty Decepticons attack at the end but they're defeated easily, by human weapons. You actually show the Jetfire/Optimus fusion that was in the cartoon, but Jetfire died doing it (?), and Optimus just shakes it off after he's done using his parts. Thanks for that.

The only thing I have to give you credit for is how the Transformers acted more like they did in the cartoon this time around. We had more Megatron/Starscream arguments, which was fun. There was much more action, and there was more eye-candy, yes, but there weren't as many "wow" moments in this one as there were in the first. All of the absurdities muddled them out if there were any. Nice going. Yeah, you made a lot of money with this one, but that doesn't cover up the mess you made.

The Tooth Fairy

Okay, it's a little funny seeing The Rock playing as the tooth fairy. Unless you're just up for something completely stupid, you have to remind yourself, The Rock is playing as the tooth fairy. There are plenty of movies out there that are stupid, written with the intentions of being stupid, but this one seems like it's actually trying to be serious. By serious I don't mean like Christopher Nolan serious, I mean that the thought of this movie being a terrible idea never seemed to cross anyone's mind. Come on now.

One Missed Call

There's a reason the critics hated this movie. Sometimes adapting a popular Asian horror flick isn't always the best idea, even though it's a recent trend in Hollywood these days. Sometimes the overall feeling can't be translated into a way that would appeal to American audiences because it's just a cultural thing. As a result of this, we get a movie that doesn't know what it's doing and ends up looking stupid the whole time. Terrible acting mixed with a ridiculous story (once it's been American-ized) makes One Missed Call another missed point.

Righteous Kill

Here's a movie that could've succeeded, but seemed to have no motivation from the very start. We have great actors, DeNiro and Pacino, who shined in Heat together, so shouldn't this be good? Unfortunately, we get nothing out of the two actors besides them being themselves caught in a cop movie. They never seem to be acting at all, it's just like they're so driven by the success of their past that they think being in this film will make it good enough. But when you have their worst acting in recent memory added to a clichéd, unoriginal, and unappealing story, you get nothing but a heap of garbage that's no better than any other cop thriller.

The outcome of the story is so predictable. I'm surprised that they thought they could actually keep us guessing, when we can figure out the movie after the first few minutes. They act like we don't know what's going on, and they're assholes about it, laughing about their accomplishments all the way through the movie. Not cool. Trust me, it would've been way better if they acknowledged what was going on from the beginning and made it more of an interesting anti-hero story, but for some reason they act like that's out of the question. Then add some original dialogue that doesn't make it seem like a textbook script, and make DeNiro and Pacino actually try to act like cops, and Righteous Kill may have been the exciting thriller we hoped it would be.

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes has been sulking in the masses of forgotten legends for years. Why? Because he's pretty boring when you introduce him to today's society. Today we like violence and fast-paced action. So the only way to make Holmes into a character we would want to watch would be to make him the Bond before Bond. Just as Casino Royale did for the Bond, we now have a grittier Holmes who is not afraid to get dirty if it means solving the mystery. And while some people have been hating on Guy Ritchie for directing this movie, there couldn't have been a better person for the job. If you've seen any of Ritchie's previous films, you'll know that he's one to keep you guessing 'till the very end, and when he's making a movie about one of the most famous detectives of all time, why not do that for this movie as well?

The film is carried by excellent performances by Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams and Mark Strong, all of which never disappoint and provide us with great portrayals of characters none of us knew very well. While the story seems to complicate the relationship between Holmes and Watson, we don't get to see as much bro-mance as we'd want, and the ending result doesn't exactly seem like a partnership that would be something considered "legendary." Ritchie did seem a little more interested in re-creating old London and putting forth too much of his style when he should've focused a little more on the development of the story and the interaction between the characters. At least his London looks great, and his style adds great character to the story, or otherwise this would've been a complete disappointment.

It wasn't a disappointment, though. As I never knew much about the Sherlock Holmes legacy, I didn't expect to be too captivated by the film, but it exceeded my expectations and turned out to be very good, as Ritchie added his directorial skill that was perfect for this type of story.

The structure of the film is very much like Sherlock Holmes himself. While we never really know exactly what's going on, the film still maintains it's confidence that it's getting somewhere, so we have to trust it while being showcased to fascinating fight scenes that are 100% Ritchie-style, that you wouldn't expect to be in a movie like this. In the end, everything makes sense and you realize the extremity and actual realistic-ness of the events that happened, as everything had been perceived as an illusion that everyone except Sherlock Holmes would fall for. Another great element to this film is that it builds up for a sequel all the way through the film, instead of just having a cliffhanger ending, which I found pretty fascinating. At least we know the sequel could now do for Sherlock what The Dark Knight did for Batman.

Near Dark
Near Dark(1987)
½

Since vampire movies today are being ruined by the Twilight franchise, I decided to look into some older vamp flicks and found this. Surprisingly, it was really good. Katheryn Bigelow adds some great direction to this vampire western while Bill Paxton and others give us some very wild and interesting characters to watch.

Adrian Pasdar (Heroes) plays the main character, who is swept into the world of a vampire gang after he is bitten by one. What's so great about this movie is that it doesn't try to change the conventionality of a vampire at all. They stick to the simple characteristics (invincibility, never aging, weakness to sunlight, etc) and it makes Near Dark an exceptional film for not trying anything fancy that would scare off hardcore fans of vampire movies.

One small downside to this film, though, was it's 80's style, with a few illogical scenes occurring here and there, but you have to remind yourself that vampires are illogical already so there's no point in hating on the movie for its absurdity. Not that it ever makes it bad. The movie is entertaining from start to finish. However, I wish there could've been a little more in between. It seemed to go by too fast, and while it was still good, I feel that it could've been better if they added more to the story instead of building it up and ending it so abruptly. It doesn't deter the outcome of the movie, though. I would still recommend it to anyone, as it's a great movie for fans and non-fans of vampire flicks alike.

Crank
Crank(2006)

Here's a movie that knows how serious it's not. Although Crank just seems over-the-top at first, it reassures us quickly that it's all a parody of 80's action films set in a modern world. While it never reaches an epic scale on any level, and the story always adds new characters without any introduction, it does entertain us with its absurdity. This is definitely unlike any action film you've ever seen before. Crazy characters, crazy shots, and an even crazier story make Crank an exceptional film for being so fast paced. This is action at it's purest.

Semi-Pro
Semi-Pro(2008)
½

Just another film that doesn't know exactly what it wants to accomplish. It's advertised as a typical Will Ferrell comedy, but in the end it turns out to be a sports drama. So is it trying to be serious? I mean, yeah, Ferrell wasn't too bad, but he seemed like the only one trying to do anything remotely funny (there are a few exceptions). It seemed like his character was originally going to be somewhat serious, but then, since Ferrell was casted they tried to make it funny? I don't know what was going on, to be honest. If they were trying to succeed by mixing genres, they didn't. They pick genres from completely opposite sides of the spectrum, and when they mix it together it's just one big mess.

After seeing this, I felt somewhat entertained. Being a basketball fan I may watch it again someday in the unforeseeable future, but it's not one I will think about daily. There was too much of Ferrell's humor blended with a plot that was too dramatic, and the result is something only a few people could enjoy. Andre Benjamin and Woody Harrelson provide pretty good supporting roles, but they don't help much. Hopefully no one says this is their favorite movie, because nothing about it makes it better than anything else, it's simply bland and forgettable, just another movie that tried to make some money while Ferrell was hot.

Step Brothers

Immaturity is in. Maturity is out. It's a popular method of storytelling with comedies today, and Step Brothers goes all in with as many jokes as it can dish out. When most of the movie is improv, I think it's safe to say that Adam McKay & Co. weren't trying to accomplish anything monumental with this film, besides ensuring that audiences laugh at least once every few minutes. They hoped that would be enough, and they were partly correct. While there is nothing strong story-wise with Step Brothers, it makes it through just barely with its humor, which it will throw at you endlessly from start to finish. Some will die laughing, others may die of boredom.

Will Ferrell definitely brings his A-game to the table, something that didn't seem enough to help his other recent films (Land of the Lost, Semi-Pro, Blades of Glory), while John C. Reily shines like he never has before. Together they are a powerhouse of comedians that light up the screen every time they share it. Long story short: The two play unemployed adults living with their single parents. The two parents get married and the boys are forced to live together, despite their hatred for each other. It's sort of a coming-of-age story, except the main characters are forty and more immature than teenagers. However, it doesn't ever seem like it's trying to be a coming-of-age story, it doesn't seem like much of anything besides a bunch of jokes in the end.

Fortunately, the jokes are some of the funniest (and most quotable) you'll see in a comedy today, although if it's not your cup of tea you'll be left wishing there was something good about this film. The fact that they apply a generic plot that's predictable and completely unoriginal risks everything when they rely completely on the jokes to carry this film. It's a type of comedy that won't appeal to everyone (usually anyone over 30 years old), but it's more of like a really good SNL skit that lasts a little too long and tries to be too serious.

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)

Okay, we all know by now that the sequel doesn't top the original. It's a common thing in the movie industry, no biggie. The Dark Knight and Godfather 2 were rarities. But this movie wasn't promising a great story. Iron Man was so acclaimed because it was an in-depth origin, but is that why we're going to see Iron Man in the first place? You're not going to hear someone saying, "Oh man I bet the story is going to be great!" No, it's all about the action and the special effects and the Iron Man costume blowing things up. And we got what we asked for. Iron Man 2's only duty was to top the action of the original, and it did just that. Yeah we don't get the greatest story, but you have to realize that this isn't REAL LIFE. It's already apparent that Iron Man isn't the only superhero in his universe, he's in the MARVEL UNIVERSE, a MADE UP WORLD, where the story isn't totally important, it's the characters and their conflicts between each other, and Iron Man 2 gives us just as good of performances as in the first to give us these interesting characters that draw us in from start to finish.

Where Iron Man 2 succeeds the most is that it brings the entire Marvel Universe into the story to prepare us for The Avengers and other superhero movies to come (Thor, Captain America). It's the first superhero movie in a while to have more than one person on the good side (Spiderman 3 doesn't count, Batman would I guess), and doing so also prepares us for a new story that combines all the greatest Marvel heroes into one.

Storywise: Iron Man 2 gives us everything we wanted: War Machine, more Nick Fury, a villain better than Obadiah Stane, more action, and more Robert Downey Jr playing the perfect Tony Stark. It's what made the first one so great, Stark was the coolest playboy ever, better than Bruce Wayne. Why is he better than Bruce Wayne? He doesn't have an alter-ego, he IS Iron Man, and Iron Man is Tony Stark. Like a celebrity, he is famous for who is he. He's not an actor, he's not a quarterback, he's Iron Man: the ultimate celebrity superhero. I won't go into too much detail as to how brilliant the action is in the movie, as you have to see it to believe it. We have great villains from Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke, we have great heroes from Don Cheadle and Scarlett Johannsen, and altogether the actions that bring them to Iron Man 2 make this a great sequel, directed ingeniously by Jon Favreau.

While Iron Man didn't top The Dark Knight in the summer of '08, it's obvious that it wasn't trying to. Iron Man is a blockbuster popcorn flick with promise, promise to entertain and make you leave saying, "THAT WAS AWESOME!" We were lucky that we got such an actual good movie out of it. There's no arguing that it's the best superhero movie ever because it isn't, but it is still very good. Most of these movies aren't taken too seriously and this one just happens to be. We have to be thankful that the movie industry cares enough to allow Marvel to direct where their cherished stories go. Iron Man 2 doesn't try to top The Dark Knight, but it's just as good, sequel-wise at least. It was a surprisingly good second installment in this increasingly popular franchise, and we will keep wanting more as long as it stays this good.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

Dear God, what levels the horror genre is reaching these days. You thought Saw was bad, wait 'til you see this. The Human Centipede is one of the most original horror films to date, while it also probably tops them all as the most grotesque.

So what's up with this movie? Why's it so gross? Imagine having your mouth sewn to someone else's... um... butt. Then imagine someone else's mouth being sewn to your... butt. That's what happens to two tourist girls and a guy who happened to fall into a twisted surgeon's trap. His whole master plan is to make a "human centipede." For what reasons I am unaware of.

On the downside, it sometimes drags and seems too interested in what it has done. It is like the film has the same mindset as the villainous doctor, it wants to marvel in what it has created before focusing too much on the story's development. On a positive note, it's a breath of fresh air (followed by a gag) for the horror genre, as I can guarantee this will the first of many more grotesque films to come. I just hope the others try to find more interest in a story rather than dwell on its concept.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
½

Okay, the movie's good. I think we can at least get that out of the way. It's not Twilight. It's Harry Potter, and it's always good because the stories are just so awesomely epic. They never get these wrong, because they stick to the more important elements of the stories, even if they do tend to leave out some vital details from time to time. But they left out a vital detail this time around, and that's the one I think they messed up the most on, although the final result was nothing to honestly complain about.

Here's the thing. The title of the movie is "The Half-Blood Prince." For anyone that read the book, you would know the actual story of the Half-Blood Prince. For those who don't, I'll catch you up. For those who haven't seen it yet, don't worry, I'm not going to ruin it for you. I might actually be giving you some important information that will prove helpful when you finally see it. This "Prince" turns out to be a really bad person, someone who has proven to be increasingly unlikeable for his actions (and hypocritical beliefs, of course). His mother was Eileen Prince, and she married a Muggle, despite the importance of blood purity in her family. They had a child, the Half-blood Prince, but he grew up a disatrous life as his parents continuously fought. He was mentioned pretty frequently in the movie because Harry still gets his old textbook with loads of secrets and all the other stuff happens, but they left out that entire backstory, and actually seemed to forget about it halfway, and then it was mentioned again briefly at the end, when the Prince is revealed.

Also, the movie goes into the backstory of Voldemort, the villain, but very briefly as well. His mother used a love potion to win over a Muggle, who eventually left her when he figured out what she had been doing. They left this part out though. The only details they revealed from Voldemort's past was his dealings with the horcruxes, which are explained fairly in the movie, so you'll know what they are after you see it.

Okay, get all that? Well here's the deal. In the movie, one of the biggest plots revolves around the relationships between the male and female students at Hogwarts, and here and there love potions are used, particular on Ron, which turns out to be pretty funny. I liked that they put so much emphasis on this, because otherwise it would've been more unrealistic. If you think about it, this is really what would be happening at a high school at this point, regardless of whether or not the students possess magical abilities. But why, when the idea of love and love potions was almost the biggest part of this movie (the actual biggest part isn't mentioned til about halfway in), did they decide to leave out the Prince's backstory? It's really vital to the story, and it's not like it would've made the movie confusing or anything.

But wait, don't think that I'm all that disappointed with this movie. The acting was awesome, the cast is great (although Radcliffe is getting a little buff), the directing is great, the effects are spectacular and the dialogue is faithful enough to the story. It was great, probably my favorite of all the Harry Potter films (Prisoner of Azkaban may be my favorite still), but they just could've done better.

Adventureland
½

Adventureland is a typical coming-of-age story, but it's a little better than what we're used to due to the intriguing skill of Superbad director Greg Mottola. The story is set during the 80's, in a time similar to today, where the economy sucks and everyone is trying to have fun while also trying to keep a job. What's so great about it is that while the film reminisces on a time so much like our own, it chooses to relate to that time by incorporating modern humor into it. It shows that while movies continue to portray life in various ways, the way people live has never really changed at all.

Jesse Eisenberg plays our main character, and he needs some money for college. He gets a summer job at the town's amusement park, where he makes some friends and falls for one girl in particular, played by Kristen Stewart. Trying to stay away from clichéd characters, the girl turns out to be sleeping with the park's janitor (Ryan Reynolds), who is already married. Eisenberg's character soon figures things out and has to decide what is the right thing to do, to take a stand for once or continue to have his life run over by other people.

The acting is exceptional in some places but some actors didn't seem too thrilled to be in the movie (Stewart, Reynolds), and at times it gave the movie a depressing feel. I can see how it helped generate seriousness into the story, but I was expecting more comedy. Bill Hader of course stood out the most. There also didn't seem to be too much effort put into making the movie seem like it was taking place in the 80's, and it sometimes it appeared that I was watching a re-enactment rather than an image of a past-time. However, these few flaws didn't take away from the impact of the story, which was very well written and portrayed well enough on the big screen.

Whip It
Whip It(2009)

Yes! An underdog story with actual character! Well, kinda. While you expect a roller-derby movie, or maybe a cool story from Ellen Page's character, Whip It ends up being a message about the boundaries of parenting. Yeah, really. No, I'm not upset about it. It was actually very smart. We still get the roller-derby and plenty of Ellen Page, but since itdecided to focus less than it should on those areas, when it advertised as itself of doing more of it, I can't give this the perfect score that I want to. I'm not saying I didn't like it, because I did, but a movie about parenting isn't always the best form of entertainment.

We have Bliss (Ellen Page) who wants to rebel when her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) tries to pamper her into be this pageant-girl, obviously because she had bad parenting herself and wants to give her children the perfect childhood that she couldn't have. Of course, you want to respect a mother for that, but you also have to give a child the room to breathe their own air every once in a while, and this movie points that out brilliantly. Bliss finds her escape in an underground roller-derby club that she has to fake her age to be in, showing just how much this one thing means to her. Her mother unsurprisingly doesn't approve her child's decision, as the people at the derby are a little "extreme." What she fails to see is that her daughter is finding her place in the world, and she's trying to give her a place, i.e. bad parenting. But at least she's a good one still. Everyone learns their lesson in the end, we all go home happy.

The world of roller-derby seems pretty awesome after what this movie showed, but from what I've heard it isn't too accurate, but what do I know. I like the whole idea of the nicknames (Page's is "Babe Ruthless"), which are accurate, and the games do look pretty intense. But from what the movie makes the people involved out to be, I can't blame her mom for wanting her to make better choices. If I were her mom, I would tell her to wait a few years, but it is, after all, her life, so she can do whatever she wants.

I have to congratulate Drew Barrymore for her excellent directorial debut, especially with her starring in the film (although it's just a minor role). The movie had a lot of style, that indie-movie feel that we all like these days. The acting is great, although a little cheesy sometimes, but never unconvincing. Juliette Lewis, Daniel Stern, Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon and Andrew Wilson (the other Wilson brother) all give great performances, as little of characters they are under Page and Harden. The soundtrack is great too, although it never helps in letting us know when this is happening; I'm guessing it's current time. Makes sense, because parents do suck these days.

500 Days of Summer
½

Hands down, this is one of the best romantic comedies of all-time. If you disagree, then you are the unlucky one because you just aren't up to date with the modern realist movement in the film industry. Yes, that's right. Films today are most successful by being realistic and acknowledging what has been corruptive for so many years. The only reason I can't say it is THE best is because I haven't seen them all. Why is it so good? Because it acknowledges the effect romantic comedies have had on the American population. We have been fed this garbage for so long that we've become accustomed to this false idea of true love. In today's society, a lot of girls are obviously brainwashed by senseless rom-com's, but in this story, it's the boy, and the girl is the one who is just going about her life.

We get great performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, and even a small spot from Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass), added with superb direction from newcomer Marc Webb (who's doing the next Spider-Man), and a great soundtrack as well. The story itself grows stronger and stronger on its commentary on the idea of true love and its deterioration in the modern world, but sometimes it seems too interested in just that rather than the story itself. Thankfully, the performances are convincing enough for us to believe the boy and girl are falling for each other, with witty dialogue and a story real enough to separate this movie from other romantic comedies.

No, this is not a chick-flick. It may look like one, but it's just as much a chick-flick as The Graduate (ironically a film this one shows a lot of influence from). This is a realistic story of a situation a lot of guys have been through, loving a girl more than she does in return. If anyone cannot find entertainment in portraits of real life, then I don't know what to recommend you. This is the strongest image you will get of a man's extreme admiration for a woman, in the most realistic way it can be portrayed in a romantic comedy. It's funny, it's sad, it's complex, it's real.

Shutter Island
½

What is the purpose of a motion picture? I'm not talking about the artsy-fartsy stuff. I mean, what is the one thing movies are intended to do? Sell. A film is a product, advertised in theaters in order to promote the purchase of the home-video release. Shutter Island succeeds where barely any film has succeeded, in recent years at least. When the ending of the movie hits you, a second viewing is almost urgently required. That might not seem like much, but it really is, especially when the film actually is pretty artsy-fartsy at the same time.

Let's go over one thing that's bothered me. The one complaint I've heard over this film is, "Oh, I saw the ending coming ten minutes into the movie." Really? You think Martin Scorsese, one of the best directors in the history of film, would make a film predictable unintentionally? Of course you can predict the ending. This plot strategy places you within the mind of our protagonist, US Marshall Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio), frequently pondering what is actually going on. You see the same conclusion that Daniels sees, you don't know any more than he does. He thinks the hospital's got it in for him and that they're trying to trap him there. That's what you think. What really happens, don't tell me you saw that coming. Scorsese's product is something of a masterpiece, a psychological thriller that winds through the paranoid corners of the human mind and draws you in until the final scene. You expect corrupt autority, or ghosts, which makes it more exciting. You think you know what's going on, so you watch it to see if you're right, and you kind of are, but not really, so you either get frustrated by the reality of it, or entralled (like me) by the fascinating end result.

And once it's over, watch it again. You won't believe all of the things you missed, it's almost like watching an entirely different film. You'll see times where you question the actual sanity of Teddy Daniels, and the things that may have confused you at first will finally make sense, and you may actually be surprised at how much you believed. It all works out, you see it once, you have to see it again. Product sold.

While I felt that Scorsese could've done better, judging from his past work, Shutter Island is still a wonderfully directed thriller that you won't forget. The acting is great, particularly from DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, and Mark Ruffalo. The score is excellent, very reminiscent of Cape Fear (Scorsese's last thriller), elevating the suspense of the movie to an entirely new level. The filming style seems very simple sometimes, but here and there we are treated to some of the most beautifully directed scenes from Scorsese. The cinematography is excellent, the mental hospital looks awesome, and the costumes are great. I recommend this to everyone, because you just can't go through life without what I call the "Shutter Island test." Then whether or not you watch it the second time, that's up to you.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

I know it's kind of harsh to criticize a movie that is 100% directed towards children, but this movie is 100% ridiculous. I actually enjoyed the first film somewhat, even though that wasn't so great either, but this film seemed like one big trick. Jason Lee is barely in the film, it's obvious that he had better things to do as he's only at the beginning and the end. He was a major contributor to making the first film as entertaining as it was. Instead they replace him with that guy from Chuck, who is so metrosexual in this film it's kind of creepy.

The premise of the movie is somewhat ridiculous, that three chipmunks would even have the intelligence necessary to go to school with humans, and then the rest of the story is a recycled version of the original, except with female chipmunks thrown in it. The acting is even absurd. It made me realize how ridiculous it was in the original. The chipmunks looked less realistic than they did in the original as well, which I found surprising since they should've had enough money to fix that. The singing is already annoying, we all know that, but they push it too far in this one. They never seem to stop singing, and the songs they sing are already annoying in the first place, so it just makes this one long headache. And since there is nothing new with the story really it makes it all so predictable that it's beyond the point of acceptable, and it's then that you realize you've been watching a movie about talking rats this whole time.

Iron Man
Iron Man(2008)

Iron Man succeeded by exceeding all expectations and providing us with the superhero movie we needed to start the summer of 2008, just when Dark Knight seemed like the only promising summer blockbuster. It's interesting to compare the two franchises, especially since they are from different companies (Iron Man, Marvel; Dark Knight, DC) and the heroes are very similar. They're rich, they're playboys, and they have enough state-of-the-art gadgets to fight crime. But Iron Man doesn't just fight crime, he doesn't just save Gotham City, he's usually saving the world. Imagine Batman with gadgets that gave him Superman's powers, and you have Iron Man. Luckily, we get to see Iron Man on the big-screen just the way we want him, blowing things up and looking awesome while doing it. We don't expect anything too serious, because Tony Stark isn't the Caped Crusader, but out of this we actually get a well-told origin story that effectively uses Iron Man's character as a symbol for America's struggle against the Middle East. No wonder everyone loved it.

This movie gives the best portrayal of Tony Stark you're ever going to see, played brilliantly by Robert Downey Jr. I can't give all the attention to Downey though. Jon Favreau deserves some as well. Why? Who would think the director of Swingers and Elf would make a superhero movie? Well, if you've seen Swingers you would know that Favreau was actually perfect for this film. Fast-paced, witty dialogue seems to be one of his trademarks, and it's the perfect fit for the sly businessman Tony Stark, who charms us, humors us, and amazes us from start to finish. Not to mention Favreau's paid attention to detail. The action, the sets, the acting, the effects, every line in this movie fits perfectly. Of course we can all hate on Gweneth Paltrow, but thankfully she's not in too much of this movie to ruin it completely. Jeff Bridges makes up for it.

Now to the story. If you pay attention, you'll notice it's a lot like Batman Begins. No idea if it was intentional, or if it was just a coincidence because the characters are already so similar, but it works. While Bruce Wayne is all about justice and saving Gotham at night, Tony Stark is all about having fun and saving the world at the same time, even if his heart requires a bunch of wirework to function. At first, Tony is a spoiled brat basically, and after an accident he finally comes to terms with what's important. When he is abducted and nearly killed by terrorists, he realizes that they have been supplied with the weapons his company produces. A lot less like Bruce Wayne and a little more like the U.S. right? He then develops a high-tech body armor suit to prevent the terrorists from using his weapons any longer, and it's after these events that we discover who the true villain is. All in all, Tony learns where he had gone wrong as a private businessman and turns himself into the hero the world needed.

Iron Man is a film that can do no wrong. Favreau doesn't rely on action to drive the movie to success, unlike most other superhero films; there is actually a good story and great acting to fill in the blanks. However, when the action does show up, it's spectacular. Consider it your money's worth. It ranks up with the first Transformers in breath-taking special effects. This is the superhero movie we have been waiting for. Iron Man had never been the most successful comic-book serious, nor had he ever been the most popular superhero, but I think it's safe to say that the movie brought the franchise to levels of popularity it had never seen before. Does anybody ever remember Iron Man being the coolest superhero before now? I think not. And I have to mention once again Robert Downey Jr, who had been the fan's choice for this role for years. He had been on the downside of Hollywood for a while, and this was the perfect comeback role for him. In a way, the film succeeded mostly because we really saw Tony Stark in Downey, and it made it that much better. Can't forget the action, though. Put all of that together and you have a monumental superhero movie that can be considered one of the best of all time. It had every opportunity to succeed, and it did just that.

Tropic Thunder

A very clever satire on Hollywood production companies' aspiration to make the "perfect" action film. And why is it so good? Because dry-satire isn't always the best. Sometimes the best satire is the offensive type, because it's art in not being afraid to say what's on its mind. And the best part about it is the acting, especially Robert Downey Jr's, which takes the whole "seriousness" on a entirely new level.

In this movie, we have a washed-up director who is trying to make the greatest war movie of all time. He gets a little carried away and has a lot of difficulty doing so. The actors he assembles, who are blatantly mocked at the beginning of the film for their Hollywood A-list status, get into character very well, and it's fun to watch some of our favorite actors brilliantly portraying actors that resemble actual celebrities. However, the best part comes when the director throws them in the middle of an actual war to make the movie "real," although the actors don't have a clue that it's not a set. So he's getting the best actors and trying to make them into better actors by putting them in a real environment to make the movie as real as possible. I think the only thing that kept this from being such a great movie was that it was trying to be too serious itself. I assume it's part of the satire, but it ruined it sometimes. It knew it was going to be funny, but it decided to rub it in our faces a few times.

Most of Tropic Thunder's story is based around the events that occurred while Francis Ford Coppola was filming Apocalypse Now. For anyone who is not aware of these events, let's just say that a lot of money was lost and there were a lot of delays, and not to mention over a million feet of footage to edit. Sound familiar? Some might say Tropic Thunder is disrespectful by satirizing what some would say is the best movie of all time, but you have to look beyond that, it also makes fun of the war-movie genre altogether, with it's seriousness in portraying death and violence in a way that entertains everyone. Comedy is derived mostly out of making fun of people, even the most respected people sometimes. And criticizing this movie for making fun of that movie is plain ignorant. Why not make fun of the best movie of all time? Wouldn't that make this one of the best satires of all time? I'd say it's pretty close, although I can name a number of better ones.

Harry Brown
Harry Brown(2010)

Harry Brown defines the vigilante movie. This wonderfully directed film proves that the vigilante genre is slowly becoming the equivalent to what film noir once was back in the 50's and 60's. It is a genre separated from every genre, mixing them all into one. What makes them so great is that they show us heroes that do the right thing, even if they have to cross the line. It shows sacrifice, the value of justice, and how vigilantism exists within the world shown on the big screen.

Harry Brown has nothing to lose. When his wife dies and his only friend is beaten to death by teenage gangsters, he decides to take the law into his own hands after the police fail to help as much as they could. It brings the whole he's-got-nothing-to-lose theme into it as Harry risks his life to ensure that peace is restored in his city. Although he pretty much starts an all-out war on the streets at the end of the movie, we root for him the whole way.

Caine delivers one of his best performances in a long time, even though he's always great in anything he's in, and helps carry this movie from beginning to end. The only problem with the movie is that it never tried to be as big as it wanted to be. Although it is excellent, it's directed well, and the acting is great, there isn't too much about it that makes it better than any other great vigilante film. It's just one you really have to see.

Furry Vengeance

Gives a good message, but because of it's absurdity and childishness, it only appeals to a very young audience, and parents should only let their children see this if they don't know a better way of teaching them a lesson on environmentalism, although I still highly advise against it. Just let them watch Fern Gully, or if they've seen Avatar, take them to see Kick-Ass.

Babylon A.D.
Babylon A.D.(2008)

What an embarrassing movie. Tries to make a more action-packed epic out of Children of Men, but fails. It's not really even worth going into detail. It seemed like a bad video game. I felt like I was following someone on a journey for almost two hours and they never told me where they were going or what they were doing, I just had to guess the whole time, and when the end came around, I'm left alone still with no idea of what just happened. It's simply... stupid.

Dragonball Evolution

This turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments ever. It was announced about five years prior to its release, so a LOT of hype went into it. I kept up with the production work, the casting, the costume designs, everything. This was a movie I had been waiting more than five years for. I was a huge fan of the Dragonball Z show as a child, and this was probably going to be one of the best things ever for me, but it turned out to be nothing like what I remembered. They failed in so many ways.

FIRST: It's set on modern Earth, in like L.A. or something. Yeah, I guess that's okay because a lot of adaptations do that, but it just didn't work for this one. I was hoping that they would stick with the feel of the show, that it took place in a "parallel" Earth with flying cars and talking animals, but that didn't happen. I was even hoping that maybe they would just set it in ancient Japan or something.

SECOND: The casting was okay, but no one took anything seriously. The show was for kids, but it was still serious. They tried to pull off the humor that was incorporated into the show, and they didn't match it at all. It was like immature American humor. Totally different.

THIRD: I don't know why they rated it PG. Maybe they hoped more parents would take their kids to see it, but I don't think any parent would see a trailer for this and want to do that. The only people familiar with this would remember it was a pretty violent show and that a PG rating wouldn't suffice. They directed it towards kids who had never seen the show before. Why? I don't know.

FOURTH: One thing I loved the most about the show were the fights. The fights in this movie were not appealing at all. The fights in the show lasted for entire episodes, it was like a boxing match almost, it's what made the show worth watching. The people making this must've not known that, because the end fight between Goku and Piccolo doesn't last more than 2 minutes. It would've made so much more money if it were rated R and had fights similar to ones we saw in The Matrix or Kung Fu Hustle.

FIFTH: They mess with the original story so much that it ruins it completely for me. They take out important characters, they change the origins of others so much that it gives the new story no heart at all. It almost seemed like an SNL skit because it was so embarassing.

I recommend this movie to no one. The only reason I give it a 10 is out of effort, because someone finally made the movie I wanted, although it wasn't really exactly what I wanted. It won't appeal to fans or non-fans of the show. I don't know how they expected to win anyone over with this. They lost me completely.

Amélie
Amélie(2001)

This movie makes you want to laugh in every way. Not just because of humor, but because of a joyful environment that almost seems too cute and heavenly to be true. With wonderful direction from the extremely underrated French director Jean-Pierre Juanet and magnificent acting from Audrey Tatou and everyone else in this movie (that seem so real and true and beautiful for just being human) make Amalie was true work of art. The best thing about art is the detail, and this movie is all about detail, detail in its settings, its characters, its story.

And boy, this movie is kind of pushy sometimes, but it's so cute that you can't blame it for playing around when it seems so innocent and pure of human spirit. Imagine a child coming up to you and telling you that they just found something incredible. You're already hooked on what they found because to you they make it sound amazingly interesting. But as they take you to this thing they found, they continue to explain to you how great it is along the way and make it sound even better as the time goes by, and you want to see it even more. It's kind of a "Heart of Darkness" effect. Because this movie is that child, and all it was showing you was life. Of course you know it's not that incredible, but it is for this brief time, because this child makes it seem so much better, and that image of faith in the human spirit is something for everyone to see.

Léon: The Professional
½

The most excellent portrayal of a very popular genre. Jean Reno is not an actor pretending to be a hitman for the big screen. Jean Reno IS a hitman, and his role just happened to be captured in this wonderful film.

The Blind Side

How could a real story be unrealistic? I'm starting to hate the whole "based on a true story" marketing scheme in today's film culture. Is it supposed to be an artistic adaptation of a true event or what? I would think that people's main fascination with these kind of movies is that they portray an event that really happened, and when you know it happened, why do they water it down? How is that a portrayal of someone's childhood if it's not what they realllly went through? It's like making a G-rated version of The Godfather and expecting it to give the same results. It's not true.

Oh, Sandra Bullock. She's been one of the most iconic female actresses for the middle aged female population. She's never had a great role, just ones that most females likes because she seems like she's in a well-acted soap opera. But now she's an iconic American figure. She's the soccer mom. She's the definition of a powerful American mother. Of course her acting is good, but not Best Actress worthy, not better than the other actresses she was up against. Maybe it was like they wanted to just give her an award for all of her work, I don't know.

The Blind Side shouldn't have even been nominated for Best Picture. Although it was a nice story, showing the power of a real mother, it was so far from what we know really happened that it's disgusting and also humorous. What they give us seems like a drawn out Hallmark advertisement. And as a result that's all it is, an advertisement, propaganda. Let's just show everyone a false image of a true American story. And everyone will like it, because they like the idea that things are this good in real life. But it's just as embarrassing as last year's Taken, which everyone loved as well. There just isn't any stopping the power of Americans loving to pretend things are better than they really are.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

In a review for Knowing, Roger Ebert said, about Nicolas Cage, "Some readers said they avoid his movies on principle. Many found him guilty of over-acting... I find him an intriguing actor because he takes chances. He's an actor without speed limits."

What I have noticed about the Cage is that in his movies he is either Nicolas Cage, the actor he created, or Nicolas Coppolla, the actor he was born. When he is Nicolas Cage he is not a great actor. He is usually in a thriller or an action movie (Next, National Treasure, Bangkok Dangerous, Knowing) and he is the same actor every time. It's cool, yeah, but the fact that he's so wooden ruins it for me. He makes up for it though when he is Nicolas Coppolla, when he really acts, because then he is one of the best. His characters are estatic, they are real, they really appear to be conflicted psychologically, and we love it.

Some of his best performances are featured in Face/Off, Matchstick Men, Raising Arizona, Adaptation, Lord of War and recently Kick-Ass. But this one ranks up with the best. In Bad Lieutenant, he portrays a narcotics officer that starts to bum off drugs when his pain medication isn't enough to help him with his injury. He is a highly respected officer at first and by the end he is a crooked as ever, and he stays that way! It's ridiculous, I know, but it's true.

Cage's character, in a way, is symbolic to all of the people on top in New Orleans before Katrina hit. He is a respected man in charge although he still plays it kinda edgy, but not too edgy, and then he is hit with a major injury. Like post-Katrina New Orleans, he is given assistance while still being expected to continue where he left off before the injury. Of course he didn't have enough assistance to make it, so he has to use his edgy skills to get some drugs off the guys he usually arrests. Because of his injury, he will never be the same person that people expect him to be. Like New Orleans, he will forever be hurt by such a crucial hit. A new man is born just as a new city is born, like a phoenix from the ashes, and if Nicolas Cage is a phoenix it sure shows because he is on fire from start to finish.

This actually should've been nominated for Best Picture, since most nominees were culturally relevant. The only reason it wasn't, and the only reason it wouldn't have won if it had been nominated is that it seemed to have little self-esteem. It's a little disappointing even. They have the material for a Best Picture film, and they get so close. They had a pretty great story of a powerful man going to the dark side, superb acting from Cage, and even great direction, it was just that Cage was basically the ONLY good actor, and it was hard to take it completely serious when they seemed like drama students reading a script from a really great movie that we'll never see. Oh well, this one is still pretty incredible. Cage's acting alone makes it that awesome.

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)

Just as masterful as The Dark Knight and Star Wars in that it blends the conventions of art cinema into a blockbuster Hollywood film. With this installment/reboot/remake in the Star Trek series, director JJ Abrams (Lost, Cloverfield) puts together everything we want to see in an awesome sci-fi adventure while sticking to an appealingly complex story that makes this one of the best, if not THE best Star Trek film to date, maybe one of the best films ever to date. Abrams adds his great directorial skills with a great story that proves he is a force to be reckoned with. JJ Abrams is now the new captain of the Star Trek franchise, and he rides that seat with excellence.

The coolest thing about this film is that it does so many things in the best way possible. The new trend in films are to show origin stories, and what better story to do one for than the Star Trek history that's been popular for almost fifty years. Not only is it an origin story, oh it is so much more. By doing an origin story, they're rebooting the series. Now we'll have great sequels and a reason to be Trekkies again. And no, no one will be upset about re-doing the first years of the Enterprise. Why? Because JJ Abrams stole the entire franchise's history and is rewriting it altogether.

How's he getting away with it though? Can the story be that good? Well, yes, but that's not all. In actuality, the story in this movie is really taking place in the future of Star Trek, shortly after the last Star Trek movie made (Nemesis, 2002). This is made clear with the presence of Nimoy's older Spock and the villain Nero, who are from that time, but with the use of black holes travel back in time to the time of the Enterprise's origins. Since Nero messes with the course of history, the tables are turned completely. It's as if with this reboot that the old films are acknowledged while being wiped out at the same time. Doing this one simple move gives Abrams the power to do whatever he wants with the Star Trek history now, there are no limitations or boundaries, anything is possible, and we don't have to worry about remaking any of the older films or repeating any stories in a way that could disappoint some fans. We don't have to have a new team, just a new version of the old team, in a way that would appeal to today's audiences.

The new cast repeats an old story in a new way that's okay, because we already know that history's been altered and there's nothing that can be done about it, we can only hope that the new adventures are just as good, if not better than the old ones. And it's a risky business in the remake/reboot department. We applauded Christopher Nolan for pleasing us with the new Batman films. And now JJ Abrams has pulled it off as well.

But if you look at it even more closely, you can spot it's similarities to Star Wars. Yes, Star Wars, Episode 4, this first one released in the series. If you don't see it, watch this (http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1910892). You have to admit that the possibility of a Star Wars remake is probably very slim, because of how much respect that the originals have. Imitating the story of Star Wars isn't entirely a bad thing, in fact, it's excellent. Why? Because after years of debate over which series is better, this balances them out, shuts everyone up. And it's okay, because everyone loves it. It's action-packed, the acting is good, the story is great because it reminisces on a story most of us grew up with and loved, and introduces it to new audiences so it can be retold and retold. Star Trek's difference from Star Wars is that it includes Earth, and focuses around where they are in the future. Star Wars had futuristic ideals that we all hoped to see in our own future. Blending Star War's plotline into a story that focuses on the future of mankind in the way we wanted to see it makes it, in my opinion, a masterpiece.

Friday the 13th

The only significance this movie has is that it shows just how carried away Hollywood is getting with pumping us with whatever they can dish out. They hope that if they mention a big name in the trailer (Michael Bay), they'll get an okay opening weekend, because that's all they can get if anything. Most of the time these "reboots" or "remakes" end up terrible because it seems like they spent a week working on it and a few months promoting it as if it were something incredible. This, is very far from that.

Going back to the original title was a mistake, a disgrace even. Most people watching this today who have not seen the originals will get the wrong idea of the franchise, missing out altogether on what was so great about the older version (although I was never a fan). They go straight for stereotypes of teens in a slasher film, young actors with little to no skill, and then they have the aggressive killer and try to put a little back story in it to give it a false "psychological thriller" feel. They failed in every way.

One thing that bugged me the most was the opening sequence. Most slasher films show random people getting killed at the beginning of the movie, but that scene usually isn't too long so that the real story can start. It's like a signature, saying, "Just a warning, this is a slasher film." This movie, however, has one that's about twenty minutes long. It was so long that I thought it was the real movie, so after I was frustrated about that bad opening, the rest of the movie didn't appeal to me at all. They pretty much repeat the events of the opening sequence, just drawn out a little longer to give the movie a fair run time. I was shaking my head the whole way through, as it shows no hope for the horror genre. Our only hope are the few horror films that come out and help us forget the messes like this one.

Fight Club
Fight Club(1999)

A lot of people will argue that Fight Club is one of the greatest films ever made, and they have every right to. Some people will also say it's one of the most disgusting films they've ever seen, but that's what is so great about it. It entertains by making art out of the grotesque. Combining a great story from Chuck Palahniuk, great direction from David Fincher, and great acting from Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, Fight Club is the coming-of-age story that America needs to see. It is not watered down, it's not pretty, it's not a story of hope. It's a dirty-yet-beautiful painting of the truth, of what growing up is really about.

Edward Norton portrays the protagonist in the film, while Brad Pitt is Tyler Durden (a performance that will be remembered for a long time), the man who suddenly enters his life and makes him realize everything that he had never noticed. Fincher stated that he wanted the film to seem like the opposite of what The Graduate was, a story about a man who has no opportunity in life (opposed to someone who usually has many), and it's pulled off amazingly, weaving together excellent philosophical dialogue in a way that any man should be able to relate to it.

This movie is not about fighting. It's about finding responsibility for the things you do. It is not about the twist at the end. It doesn't even ruin the replay value of the film. The twist only serves a purpose in showing that you may have less control over things as you think. It is about finding yourself in a world over-ridden by materialistic commercialism and finding a way to control yourself without being held down by a world that doesn't give a shit about you. In a society where kids are maturing at a quicker pace, it shows how growing up becomes more of a difficulty when there is nothing else to live for after trying to grow up so early, giving us a coming-of-age story from someone who should've already done this years ago. It shows that people don't all grow up at the same time, that you don't have to live your life according to the ideals of others, that you have full control of your life and it's up to you to decide where to go with it. This is a story that will hurt, but it is a pain that hurts so good.

Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy

This movie is stupid from beginning to end, but it pulls it off beautifully, satirizing blaxploitation and everything else that made action movies in the 70's and 80's awesome. Taking place in an era where news anchors were big-shots, this comedy mocks everything about them by mixing them with these genres and ends up being one of the pivotal comedies that modernized American humor in film.

With brilliant acting that seems like something from Saturday Night Live or MadTV, Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, Christina Applegate and David Koechner make this movie excellent. Almost every line seems like a catchphrase, intentionally, making this one of the most quotable movies of the past decade. This film is all about being awesome, but looking stupid while doing it, making fun of how ridiculous American cultures from only a few decades ago seem in today's society.

Many people won't like this movie because of its absurdity, but that's what makes it such a great film. It's done very artistically, showing how great of a director Adam McKay is, how great of a comedian Will Ferrell can be, and how much of a dominating comedy powerhouse Judd Apatow is becoming.

Twilight
Twilight(2008)

Oh my Goddd. There is no stopping it. Twilight is one of the best novel adaptations I've seen to date. The filming was the only thing I didn't like too much about the movie. It was too dark, this movie shouldn't have been so dark. The acting was superb though. Pattinson and Stewart were excellent, and so was everyone else. The high school scenes were so realistic and the villains looked so awesome when they drifted on screen. Edward also looked awesome when he flew. The story is so original, too, and it was even better on film. This is the coolest twist I've seen on vampires, I mean, sparkling vampires! They don't die in the sunlight, they just get embarassed!

Okay, I can't go any longer lying about this movie. The filming was the only redeeming thing about it. The cinematography, that is. If we just had an hour and a half of screenshots of this town, with none of the actors anywhere in sight, then I might've enjoyed it. Twilight is overhyped by the female population as the new Harry Potter, but there is no comparison. Twilight is in no way anything special. The acting was horrendous, and the story was already weird in the first place. It seems like a Disney special, like Hannah Montana mixed with Underworld. When so many people make fun of it, there is no use in arguing that it is good.

The Hangover
The Hangover(2009)

Although I have met a few people that didn't like this movie, it doesn't amount to the number of people who do like it. Why does everyone like this movie? Why is it so funny? How could a comedy today appeal to so many people? Is The Hangover the best comedy ever?

This movie won over audiences by combining humor from almost every major type of comedy (toilet-humor, drug humor, adult humor, 80's and 90's humor, and slapstick), and combining techniques used in other successful comedies to make this one ultra-comedy, a love child of all the past years of comedy. However, this is nowhere near the best comedy of all time. Some could argue that it's the funniest, but the story is still not original and it has many flaws that seem to be the outcome of warping together all these different types of comedy.

We have a story very similar to what we saw in Dude, Where's My Car, except it's a little less cheesy and more realistic. The actors are great and we love them because we haven't seen them before at all except in minor roles, and discovering all of these hilarious actors all at once is just a great feeling for anyone. However, their characters are mostly appealing because they're ripoffs of characters we've already seen before in Judd Apatow and Adam McKay films. Sometimes the events in the film seem to be a little over the top and absurd, but you have to understand that this isn't real life, it's a movie, and if it were real life these guys would be in jail, but since they aren't it's entertaining to see them having the night of their lives and getting away with it.

In a metaphorical sense, The Hangover is like an ugly tree with beautiful leaves. I'm not saying that it was beautiful or ugly, but the leaves on the outside are appealing enough to constantly distract us from what it really looks like on the inside. This film stands next to Avatar as proof that modern movies are moving towards entertaining more than telling great stories. Not necessarily a bad thing, because everyone's loving it, but it's not a great thing either, because eventually we'll find entertainment out of throwing rocks at people. But then again, maybe The Hangover IS the best comedy ever. It defines the genre. It's not all about storytelling. Going into a comedy you don't expect a complex story, you expect something to make you laugh, and this movie does just that.

Jurassic Park III

One of the first of many big-budget franchise sequels, Jurassic Park III serves an unnecessary purpose in doing nothing other than reminding us how awesome the first two movies were. Combining a few new faces (great B-list actors), some familiar faces , and remixing events from the predecessors, this film ends up being a somewhat entertaining, updated version of the first two films, although it never tops them in any way because it's not original and it doesn't try to stand out in any way. We have someone stuck on the island, we send someone there who has already been there, have a big theme of evolution and adaptation, a climatic scene in the rain where the main dinosaur wrecks havoc, and then a showdown with the over-sized raptors. We've seen it all before, but hey, dinosaurs are always cool, especially when it's a T-rex and a Spinosaurus fighting!

The Men Who Stare at Goats

Some people will say it's terrible, some will say it's great. I say it's somewhere in between. The one thing I've heard the most out of people is that it's very much like a Coen brothers film, and I agree, but that's not what I liked about it. It was really funny, it had spectacular acting, and the theme of the story I liked, but the flow was nerve wracking, so much that I can't say it was great, regardless of what I liked about it. One thing that pissed me off about Boondock Saints was how much it was trying to be a Tarantino film, and I feel like this movie was trying so hard to be a Coen brothers film that it never focused hard enough on the more important aspects of its story.

We have Ewan McGregor's character, who is a journalist trying to write a story about a secret government organization that trains psychic spies. We meet the best of the best, played by George Clooney, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey. Everything's great so far, I'm even convinced that it's a Coen brothers film because of how well its turning out, but then nothing happens after that. It's like everything was heading in one direction and then halfway it scattered in various directions that never correlated with each other in any way. They tried too hard to be appealing rather than moving, throwing laughs and satire here and there but never putting any of it together.

I knew right away that this was going to be about fighting wars without weapons, and like I said, they pulled it off great but they didn't follow through or make any great points with this theme. They seemed to think if the acting was good enough and we laughed enough, it would make this a great movie, but it didn't. We're not all completely stupid. This could've easily been a Best Picture film, but I think the Coens would've had to actually direct it for that to happen. Instead it's an appealing mess that can't decide what it wants to be.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)
½

Saying Avatar was bad is like saying The Matrix, Jurassic Park, and Star Wars were bad. Saying it was as good as those three films is a different story. But why these three? Like Avatar, they all changed the way movies in the future would be made (crappy CGI is now a thing of the past). Like Avatar, they were all the coolest sci-fi films of their time, showing us a visionary world and introducing new (usually unrealistic) technology that had never been seen before in movies. Like Avatar, they showed off the imaginative skills of their directors. Unlike Avatar, they all had a great story. Avatar's story was mediocre, one that had been told countless times in various forms. And I know that's everyone's biggest complaint, but it really is a problem. If James Cameron had been working on this for over ten years, you'd think he would've put 100% effort into every detail of the movie. I just saw How to Train Your Dragon, and I thought the stories were very similar, but I found it embarrassing for Cameron that a children's movie pulled it off better. The acting should've been better if he really expected to win Best Picture. The screenplay should've been better, too. It's almost like he tricked us, but he didn't trick the Academy. It's like he bought a used car and fixed it up so that it was the coolest car you'd ever seen, but in the end it's just a car.

Those aren't enough to say this is a bad movie. As I proved with my recent review of The Crazies, acting isn't everything in a movie. If we want a good story, we could just read a book. Movies are all about the visual experience, and Avatar is definitely one of the most entertaining visual experiences you'll ever have (I can't see the future so I could be wrong years from now). Cameron does show off that he had put a lot of time and effort into the world he created for this movie. He created new planets, cleverly designed new animal species that are very different than anything you've ever seen, gave birth to an alien race that speaks an entirely new language that he helped create as well, and (my favorite part of the movie) he created a religion (somewhat similar to a few Earth religions) that actually makes sense. I don't know if he's trying to be religiously satirical, but he's literally slapping audiences in the face by creating a religion that is scientifically proven in the story, because everyone's paying to see it and no one seems to be reacting oddly about this part. Add all of these ingeniously designed specimens to the mediocre story and it's something a little more original.

Avatar made me upset to be human for a few days after I first saw it. It effectively showed how ignorant people can be towards the environment and how war-hungry and forceful we have been all throughout our history. Although it ripped off the story we saw in Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai, Doc Hollywood, and Fern Gully, and even took elements from The Matrix, Star Wars, and Starship Troopers, I think it just proves that this is a significant moral lesson that recurs in literature and film for a reason, and that Avatar has successfully ensured that everyone knows it. I have to give it a lot of credit for that, but the fact that I didn't care for anyone's acting in this movie and the dialogue was never too impressive keeps this from being the best movie of all time. You also have to look at how much money this movie made and how it set itself up for a sequel and ask yourself: When a movie is this good but obviously all about the money, is there any credibility left in saying that this is art in any way?

Burn After Reading
½

Paranoia. That seems to be the biggest theme in this wonderfully crafted dark comedy by the Coens that definitely ranks amongst my favorite films of theirs. Conspiracy, too. People today are so moronically wrapped up in conspiracy theories and we're all so paranoid about every little thing that doesn't make sense.

A lot of people will not find this movie funny. That's the point. It's making fun of those particular people. The ones that are ignorant when it comes to realizing how idiotic they are. The ones that care more about how they look, what they eat, what music they listen to, what movies they see. The Coens are making fun of typical Americans, and pointing out very distinctly that the few smart people left in the world are living terrible lives because the rest of the world is destroying it for them.

The story is very simple, but the Coens weave it in a way that it should only entertain the audience it's supposed to. We have John Malcovich, who plays a former CIA agent who wants to write a memoir of his experiences. His wife, played by Tilda Swinton, wants to divorce him and takes some of his financial information to show her attorney. Her attorney loses the information at a gym, and it ends up in the hands of two dim-witted employees (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt) who think it's secret government information they could give to the Russian embassy for money. Enter George Clooney's character, who messes up everything due to his paranoia.

The movie displays strong satires of the downfall of humanity when sex and greed take over and everyone loses their minds. On a bigger note the movie can even be seen on a political level, poking fun at the government and such. I wish it could've been a little longer and gave the characters a little more background, but overall it was a terrific film. Most people will complain that it lacks a clear plot and there is no conclusion, because well, like it is with most conspiracies, nothing happened! It's not surprising that a lot of people didn't like it. I get amusement out of laughing at them.

The Fourth Kind
½

I can't completely agree with the critics on this one. It didn't suck that much, and I'll recommend it to people just for it's it'll-make-you-think factor. I'll admit that for about a day after seeing this I did a bunch of research on Sumerian culture and found a lot of crazy stuff. That's all this movie did for me though, and I couldn't tell whether it was trying to be scary or informative. It was filmed so terribly, and most of the actors were way too serious, especially Jovovich.

The film seemed to be surviving off the recent success of Paranormal Activity with the whole home-video footage, but if you watch it you'll see that there barely is any, because one part is like a documentary and the rest is reenactment, so in the end its like Paranormal Activity, Close Encounters/Fire in the Sky, and District 9 put together.

There's never a point in the movie where I thought that it was excellent. It was too hard to decifer what they were going for. If they were just throwing out an interesting concept for scares or if they are really trying to make people question their religions. The acting was too distracting for me, and the few scenes with aliens in them were the most redeeming, even though we never see them.

The Crazies
The Crazies(2010)

This movie's all about cover-ups, and it even covers that bit up by disguising itself as a typical zombie-horror film. But wait, these people aren't zombies. They're just treated like zombies. No one bites anyone, no one aims for the brain. These are just normal people that are sick. And what happens? The government comes in and tries to kill them all so their sickness won't spread to the rest of the world, even though it was their own fault. I don't know if it was intended, but the bad acting helped a lot in revealing all the underlying messages I got out of this movie.

So why is it called the Crazies? Why not the Zombies? And who are the Crazies? The infected townspeople or the government? For a person to be doing something that is not expected of them makes them crazy. The government is killing a town with a biological weapon and telling no one about it. The people are reacting violently to the government trying to help them out at first. Some people even hunt down infected people for fun. And our main characters aren't infected, but they seem to have the slasher-film-victim curse; they continuously split up and go down dark places where it's obviously not safe. So is anyone doing anything right? Where is the humanity??

While I would give this movie a perfect score for all that it accomplishes, I have to fall back on the fact that it is a cliche story, it is somewhat predictable, and the acting isn't great, but sometimes I get the feeling that it was intended that way, like Eisner was saying, "If you're going to make a low budget horror movie with bad actors, at least make sure some of it's good!" And he does just that, giving brilliant shots and swift direction (I'd like to consider these "breathers" as horror movies are never directed well) that make this an exceptional horror film that does more than just scare its audiences. It uses its cliche horror-movie structure to cover up just what this movie is really about, and it's refreshing to see a satire that isn't funny, because sometimes we have to take things seriously.

*Spoiler* One thing I liked in particular was how they let Joe Anderson's character live as long as he did. To me it showed the real value of his life. If they were to have killed him when he first showed signs of infection, he would've died as meaningless as a zombie, but when he stayed alive and went down with a purpose later on, it gave him more value and showed the humanity that is lost and forgotten in an apacolyptic setting.

Vanilla Sky
Vanilla Sky(2001)
½

The concept of this film is that after he is scarred for life and can no longer find happiness, David Aames gives his body up for a scientific experiment in which he is frozen and will live in a dream world for the rest of his life. Yeah, that part is pretty cool. The only downside is that you don't find this part out until the very end and the rest of the movie is so confusing that most viewers will get a headache trying to figure out possibilites that are nothing like what they think.

The upside to this film is the style, combining elements of a romantic comedy with a psychological thriller with a few artistic scenes that I feel Cameron Crowe could've done a better job on. Tom Cruise doesn't give his best performance, but it's good enough. His character has it all at first until a psycho lover injures him in a wreck and his life is no longer as easy and fun as it used to be. We're suddenly caught up in his struggle to remember how he supposedly killed Sofia, who we can't decide is either Cameron Diaz or Penelope Cruz. It all ends up being part of his nightmare due to a glitch in the program operating his dream world, so all is okay, except for the near heart failure I had trying to keep up with all the stuff that happened in this movie, that didn't really happen. Overall I enjoyed it, because it was fun, but it wasn't great, because Crowe was apparently so ambitious with this film that he lost track of putting any sort of any flow in it.

World's Greatest Dad
½

This is the ultimate satire of posthumous fame and success. What I loved about this movie was how it dragged me in as a dark comedy about a man trying to be a good father to his jackass of a son, but then it suddenly turned into a heartfelt drama as we deal with the sudden death of a vital character and it then suddenly becomes an important moral lesson on true happiness and the ridiculousness of posthumous death, and what a great time for this movie to be released after the recent death of Michael Jackson.

Before his death, Jackson had gone downhill, and was not viewed as favorably by the public as he had been many years ago. Like the character who dies in the movie, because of his poor habits he had become somewhat of a creep. But after his death people felt the need to act like they were his biggest supporters the whole time.

I don't want to give too much of this movie away so I'll try to stick to the point. Robin Williams gives a stellar performance as a father who is a struggling English teacher trying to get his work published. He soon learns the passion and heart that go into fame, and Williams' dramatic portayal of this character was just incredible. The music was great, the directing was great, the humor was dark but still great, the acting aside from Williams was subpar, and the story was just excellent.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
½

The book showed what happened, the movie shows how. What was once a timeless classic becomes a top notch sci-fi epic for kids that was without a doubt the most underrated animated film of 2009. Although it couldn't top Up's response from critics and audiences, it definitely shouldn't have been left out of the nominees for Best Animated Picture. What could've been another disaster, like many other non-Disney animated films we've seen recently, turns out to be a very surprising hit that is now one of my personal favorites.

The best thing about this movie is that it avoids childish antics, over-the-top plot twists, and confusing concepts to appeal to audiences of all ages. I found the voice acting to be spectacular. I never thought I'd enjoy hearing Bill Hader, Andy Samberg and Anna Faris as voice actors. Blend that with a storyline that holds on to you from start to finish.

The recession-themed point of view attracts adults while the sci-fi point of view attracts every one else. A town in economic trouble finds a new way to bring in big business by using it's laugh-riot mad scientist to manipulate the weather so that it rains food. This mad scientist, Flint, has been trying his whole life to impress his dad, who wants him to work in the family fish & tackle shop, and finds the perfect opportunity to impress everyone in his struggling town with his newest invention. He even gets a shot at love! But when his invention messes up, it's up to him to stop it, and that's when the movie turns into an all-out sci-fi adventure that you won't forget.

The music, the effects, the voices, the story, the humor, it was all great. If only it could've slowed down at some points.

How to Train Your Dragon
½

Dreamworks seems to be hit-or-miss with their animated films, but their hits put them right on par with Pixar. I'm still surprised at how great this turned out to be. The one great thing about Dreamworks is that you never know if their animated films will be good or not, while Pixar's basically guaranteed good, and when a DW movie does turn out to be good, it's really a breath of fresh air. First Shrek, then Kung Fu Panda, then this monster.

What appears to be a plain, unoriginal storyline we've seen multiple times in different forms turns out to be something very extraordinary. It seemed a lot like Avatar, minus the enviromentalist message, but I enjoyed it a lot more. The voice casting wasn't incredibly great, but the dialogue was, as was the level of maturity, two important things James Cameron left out of his CGI parade. And, I actually enjoyed the 3D effect of this movie more than I did with Avatar.

I've always been fascinated by Vikings and dragon folklore, so it's no surprise that I loved this movie as much as I did. Vikings are known to be some of the most barbaric warriors in history, while dragons are the most ferocious of mythical creatures, which made them both perfect for the message this movie was putting across: that war is never the only answer, nor is it ever the best. It's one of the first movies I've seen that boasts the peace-factor this powerfully. Avatar does it, but in the end it was just another James Cameron movie that was all about the graphics and innovating movie history. For a few days I didn't want to be human, and I wanted to see a sequel where there's an even bigger war than before. This film avoids that. It accepts the fact that peace is nice but that it can only exist in stories, and it ends with the happily-ever-after effect that it needed. I don't really care for a sequel, I just want to watch this one again and again.

And surprisingly, those are all just things that make this a good film for adults. I could go on forever about how kids would love it, but the biggest reason is Toothless, the friendliest dragon you'll ever see in a movie. He's treated like a dog, he acts like a cat, and he looks somewhat like any type of reptile you'd have as a pet, making him the perfect domesticated animal to watch on the big screen and imagine you could have one of your own. Blending all of that with humor and spectacular animation, How to Train Your Dragon proves to be one of the best animated movies I've ever seen. It'll be hard for Toy Story or Dispicable Me or any other animated film coming out this year to top it.

Taken
Taken(2009)
½

I enjoyed this movie, but it really wasn't that great. For the past year I've heard about how great it is. Since when is it cool for action movies to be family-oriented? Action and horror are two of my favorite genres simply because you see a lot of violence. Not that I'm saying all action films have to be super violent and spray blood everywhere, but it seemed like for the intensity that Liam Neeson brought to his character, they never followed through with it.

He fights like Jason Bourne, but doesn't do a better job. He fights incredibly unrealistically. He knocks everyone out with one punch, except like one guy at the end. Almost makes it seem like a video game, eh? I know that makes him even more badass, but you'd think at least more than one of these bad guys would know how to put up a fight?

It seems to me like Taken is one of the most overhyped movies in recent years. It's the McDonalds of film. It feeds America with what they want to see: a big badass ex-government agent easily beating the shit out of foriegners because he's just that good of a dad and it makes America look that good. It almost seems like propaganda to keep America thinking they're safe from terrorists. The fattening ingredients of this movie make it to where we now have a bloaded, incorrect view of other nations and makes tourism that scary. This is the Jaws of tourism. There's no monster in the closet, but the idea of it really being there and someone else being there that will protect you from it is just that awesome.

About Schmidt
½

I've been on a bit of a Nicholson frenzy lately, and this one caught me off guard, mostly because I'm so used to seeing the ladies man with the crazy, anti-authority, play-it-cool attitude, and he's nothing like that in About Schmidt. This time he plays a recently retired man who suddenly realizes he hates his life. He hates his wife, he barely talks to his daughter, his job wasn't all that special, and to him he feels like all the work he put into his life was a waste. But just as he gets frustrated, he realized how ignorant he'd been when bad things start to happen and he decides to take control of what few years he has left to live, to make a name for himself.

Most people will think it's boring because he's old and acts like a big baby, but I actually think this is one of Nicholson's career-defining roles. Almost his "Gran Torino" or "Taken." He proves that he hasn't just become a typecast. He owns this role by proving that he can still bring his A-game after all these years. I felt like it was missing something, but it wasn't too much to keep me from still loving this movie. The best thing about the movie was the beginning and the ending. At first, he's just waiting to exit from his last day on the job, waiting for the end, symbolizing what he'd been doing his whole life. By the end, he's done something about it, and seeing Jack Nicholson that emotional after years of being such a badass just makes this film that much better. He proves that movies are all about the acting and owning the role, which he does magnificently.

The Shining
The Shining(1980)

This is one of the best movies you're not going to like. Why? Because we're not used to horror movies like this. Today, we rarely have accomplished directors making good ones, and we usually miss them because of the distractingly appealing marketing campaigns from the worse horror movies. Luckily, we had Kubrick to set the bar back in 1980 with this classic.

Horror movies these days rarely give any character to any of the characters, which is a vital part of storytelling. Horror movies have almost come to the point where they're completely separated from every other genre. They've forgotten how to be original, so they stick to the typical plot of a monster, ghost, demon, or serial/psycho killer chasing people until it's killed (sometimes) by the most attractive actors in the movie. As a kid the one thing I hated the most about this movie was Shelley Duvall. I never thought she was attractive at all. But now it makes perfect sense, because I'm never distracted by her, and all focus goes towards Nicholson's character, Jack Torrence, and his son.

The great aspect of this movie is that it doesn't start off as a horror story, it's just a family going to live in a hotel for a few months. But Kubrick labels it as a horror from start to finish with that dreadful music. Even scenes that didn't look scary were just intensified by the score. I guarantee that you watch this movie with the sound off, you won't get as scared. Kubrick's style plays with the human psyche by getting you more scared than you should, using more than just the sense of sight, but also sound to trigger fear in audiences. He makes you become crazy along with Jack Torrence. This whole time you're as confused as he is, and you slowly start to wonder whether the place is really haunted or if he just has cabin fever. Turns out its haunted, maybe.

But with Jack Nicholson's stellar performance, one that really deserves an apology from the Academy for no award recognition, he makes this movie worth watching. He's as scary as the big bully at school. Watching him go crazy makes you feel like you're in the room with him, and you want to escape, and there's that music again, and we're all going crazy at this point. Intertwine a creepy storyline that only Stephen King can produce with a creepy movie only Stanley Kubrick can make, and you get this masterpiece. I won't call it my favorite movie, because Kubrick's style is sometimes too precise for my tastes, but because he filmed it with such precision makes it that better, that someone has actually put that much effort and imagination into a horror movie.

Bruno
Bruno(2009)

Bruno is like a terrible football team that wins the first game of the season, gets you all excited because they could actually be promising this time around, but then they lose every game afterward. The movie starts off just as crude as Borat and you start to think that it might be better, but then the humor starts to fade and it's nothing but disgusting homosexuality pranks and a plot that is almost exactly like Borat's. It had a good concept, and I liked that it was satirizing America's cruel behavior towards homosexuals, but it was just executed terribly and I didn't find myself laughing intensly throughout the movie like I thought I would've. No idea what Cohen will do after this, but he really lowered the bar with Bruno.

Funny People
Funny People(2009)
½

You'd think a movie focusing on the lifes of comedians would be hilarious. Although the jokes are hilarious, they're not as everlasting as Apatow's previous attempts, and there ends up being so much drama that it unevens the balance between that and the comedy in the film. However, it still ends well and is never cliche and is a really good movie overall.

The only problem with it was that I went in expecting a hilarious film, since it was going to be packed with comedians, but I guess that was the point. Everyone has these expectations when they have certain careers, especially as celebrities, and it's always nice to see that their lives are shitty as well. The acting in the film was great, one of the best performances I've seen from Sandler and Rogen, the film seemed to be a passing of the throne from one comedian fading out to one rising to power.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
½

This is a perfect debut for Jason Segel as a screenwriter. I can't name a movie I was able to relate to more than this one. It's one of the best on-screen portrayals of a modern-day breakup, from the guys perspective. Sarah Marshall is a celebrity and Peter's just her no-name boyfriend, and this is easy to relate to for guys who idolize their girlfriends as if they were gods, only to have their heart broken when they leave for someone way cooler. And it's perfect. She leaves him for a relationship based on lust, for an irresponsible guy that makes it hard for him to understand why she would do so. The story is just perfect in every way for telling about one man's struggle to grow up and move on from a difficult end to a long relationship. It tackles the concept that some men get too obsessed over their girlfriends (works the other way around too) and lose touch with the rest of the world, when, as this movie proves, there are other fish in the sea worth catching.

This film is near perfect, with an original twist to a cliche storyline, great acting with hilarious performances, especially from Russell Brand and Jonah Hill, and a great script with no holes or cheesy dialogue. The only downside to this movie was that the low budget seemed to be a little distracting at times when it was obvious that the actors were in front of a green screen, but that wasn't too bad.

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3(2007)
½

Spider-Man 3 is the perfect example of the typical Hollywood sequel that gets too carried away with the elements that made its previous films good. We've seen it happen numerous times, most recently with Transformers 2. While Spider-Man 3 has more villains, more story, and more action than the first 2 films, it lacks any heart or character because it never knows what it's trying to accomplish. Maybe Peter Parker's psychological conflict intentionally ran parallel with the problems of the film.

I don't think the villain count in a superhero movie should ever pass two, at least as major characters. The biggest problem with SP3 was that it couldn't decide who the villain was. They seemed too concerned with pleasing everyone. The fans wanted Venom, Raimi and Mcguire wanted Sandman, and the story called for Harry to become the new Goblin. Fortunately, they couldn't narrow it down so they put all three in there to guarantee full satisfaction.

I don't even think I can pick a villain from this movie that was as cool as Dafoe's Green Goblin or Molina's Doctor Octopus. Maybe they just hoped that we'd be pleased enough with the collective effort of all three characters. Starpower seemed to overlap the story as we saw more Topher Grace than Venom. It makes you wonder whether they even cared about this movie, as if they just spent days or weeks trying to think of a way to write a story that used all three villains, and they thought the best way was to have them all interacting with Peter's personal life until the very end where all four of them would battle it out in one of the cheesiest endings I've ever seen in a movie with this big of a budget.

I mean, yeah, I enjoyed seeing Venom in the film, but that was really about it, and it pissed me off how very little screentime he had. Since Sandman was too distracting and Harry's actions at the end were too unlike his character from the comics to tolerate, I wasn't okay with their part in the story. I understand one of the biggest themes in the movie was forgiveness, but I doubt I can ever forgive Raimi for this piece of crap that I know could've easily been better than 1 and 2.

The Hurt Locker

Succeeds in every way Avatar was afraid to. When I saw Avatar, I thought that a movie with a message that strong about the war on terror couldn't be done realistically because no one would care, and then I saw Hurt Locker. This is one of the only movies I can recall that I didn't want to stop watching, ever. I realized afterwards that this was a masterpiece, for it was perfect in every way imaginable. And here is why...

It's fun to see James Cameron get his ass handed to him by his ex-wife that he cheated on at the Oscars. Although he won in ticket sales, I think having the Academy tell him that Bigelow's movie was still better just made it that great. But that's not the reason this movie is excellent. It is the result Katheryn Bigelow's dedicated work.

The movie is casted perfectly. In order to give the audience the appropriate feel for this movie and learn the lesson intended, they have to feel what the characters feel. There are no big actors in this movie, besides Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes, who both play very minor roles. If Christian Bale were casted as the main character, you would know that he'd survive the whole way through. It would releive the effect every bomb scene has with the lesser-known actors that are actually in the movie. You never expect these actors to have too much screen time, you expect them to die off quickly. And when you're following a small actor defusing a bomb, you just don't know whether he's going to make it or not. You feel exactly what he is feeling.

There are many more aspects of this film that make it great, like the score, the screenplay, and the acting. It's the first great modern war movie. It shows the war in its true colors, and shows us the real problems soldiers are facing. It shows us our addiction to war, just as Cameron does with Avatar. Sometimes I wonder if the two had talked about similar projects when they were together. You had the guy with the wild imagination and the woman who saw the world's problems in their true forms. If Cameron can become as extraordinary as he has, then just think about what Bigelow is capable of now.

The Village
The Village(2004)

A great religious satire. One reason people will not like it is because they expect a horror movie, and this is not one. It's only pretending to be to mask what it really is.

Like we expect salvation with religion, we expect monsters with horror movies. And since it turns out that the monsters aren't really there, it's only people in costumes, we get mad because we were tricked so easily. And since the people in the town represent us, we are almost subconsciously offended. The monsters turn out to be a simple and effective way to keep the people of the village under control so they don't sneak out into the real world. It's a great representation of how weak and easily controllable humans can be under the pressure of fear. If believing in God doesn't work, then believing in monsters should. No one wants to chance getting eaten right?

I love this movie. The suspense is incredible. There's nothing scarier than a monster that you've only seen sideshots and shadows of. The acting is great. The characters are dull and bland and show how pathetic people are that believe in such nonsense. The only reason I won't say it's perfect, which could be an understatement, is because I was tricked at first too and got upset about it, although I watched it again and changed my mind, but I know others were more frustrated than I was, and since that is so they probably won't watch it again. But hopefully my take on it will convince some to change their perspective on this film.

Up in the Air

Oh boy is this a great movie. If it were possible to give the Best Picture award to two movies, they should've split the honors between Hurt Locker and this. They both are perfect for today. Hurt Locker shows what's going on in the Middle East, and this shows what's going on here. And they aren't mainstream at all. Good acting, good story, good humor, great morals, lessons learned. They're deep, they hurt, they're true, and they're real.

In Up in the Air, people are losing their jobs, and George Clooney is the guy firing them. What better way to show the effects of the worsening economy by showing a guy, a corporate hitman, on top of his game, who is also getting shit on as well? His one goal in life is to reach 10 million frequent flyer miles, something he's worked on for a while as his job takes him across the globe every day.

But eventually he meets two women that both change his life, one who is young and in love and ruining his job, and another who is his age, shares common interests, and immediately steals his heart. The young one is urging him to reconsider his life and find a girlfriend, while he says that he's never needed or wanted one. But here is the older one who changes his mind at the last second. To his surprise, he is too late, and he learns the hard way that he'd let his job get in the way of the things that were more important in life.

Up in the Air shows how even the people on top have it bad. It proves that there are no ultimately rewarding qualities of business, that it is all about family and learning to love others and find a way to make a mark in the world. As people tell him over and over, he's telling others they can do better, when he doesn't even tell himself that.

The overall message of Up in the Air (I think): Get your head out of the clouds, because it's all happening down here.

The Boondock Saints

It's basically Twilight for guys. The first time I watched this movie I had high hopes going into it because my roommate said it was badass. Indeed, I can see why he thought so, but I didn't so much. It wasn't great at all. It wasn't original. I'd seen it all before. Tarantino, Woo, Besson, Bay, they've all done this kind of action, this kind of humor mixed with it. So why is it so popular? Has no one ever seen Pulp Fiction, Face/Off, Taken, or Bad Boys?

One thing is that it appeals only to guys. Of course some girls will like it, just as some guys like Twilight for some reason. How does it appeal to guys? The main characters are brothers who drink and kill bad guys all for the name of God and peace on earth. They have cool tattoos and they say cool phrases in other languages before they kill the bad guys in really cool ways. Yeah, it sounds like I'm being too harsh, but I'm not. A movie that tries this hard to be cool is trying too hard, because they eventually wear out and try to be serious and it doesn't work and it's all just so cliche. It's not that it's not good, it's just nothing to be that excited about. It's a b-movie, and it doesn't do anything but rip off other styles in worse ways. It shouldn
t be the movie all guys say is their favorite movie. It shouldn't be that movie that everyone says is so badass, when Resevoir Dogs was better, and no one's going apeshit over that movie. Ten years later and people are still losing their minds over this trash as if it accomplished something, as if it were this masterpiece, as if there wasn't anything else better out there. Well it accomplished nothing. Normal men can be heroes. Who would've known? They're Irish drunks though, so that makes it great apparently. It's not a masterpiece, it has cheesy acting, few realistic qualities, hypocritical ethics, over the top violence that isn't even filmed that great, and bad guys that aren't really bad enough to make a movie about. And there are better movies out there. A lot of them. It's as if one guy said this was a good action movie and every other guy watched it without bothering to watch anything else ever.

I mean, are violent vigilantes who are motivated by the word of the Bible that appealing? Is that what religion is telling us these days? Are we becoming that aggressive that we can no longer negociate things? How good are these guys if the best they can do is lower themselves to their enemies' status?

Here is where I hate the movie the most. They think God is protecting them all the way. Any believer should think this is wrong, as God would object to killing anyone. Any non-believer should think it's just bullshit that they believe in God and are being incredibly hypocritical.

I can say that I also hate this movie for the fact that it is obviously a Tarantino ripoff. It's okay to take influence from a director and change it into your own image, which Duffy does, but to do it terribly is another. Tarantino's style incorporated drama with comedy and action, long dialogue that developed a better story, and violent action that intensified it along the way, with a sense of humor you won't find in any other movie. In Boondock Saints, the dialogue isn't as intense, it's almost as if it's compressed and condensed so if the dialogue Duffy made started to suck he could throw something cool in to save the day. There was no great plot, the boys had no great purpose for becoming vigilantes, they just got motivated and didn't stop. The violence was the same, except it was just violence, brutal violence. It wasn't original, it just happened with the movie, it never called itself out. It was just badass all the way through. Well, it can keep calling itself badass, because I know when it goes home every day it cries about how it'll never be as cool as Tarantino or any other great action movie. I know better, but others just act as if this movie is some sort of religion. They don't question whether it's good or not, they just believe it's good and that's that.

Alice in Wonderland

I viewed this movie a lot like I did Bedtime Stories. I only was okay with watching Bedtime Stories because Adam Sandler was in it. Since it was a kid's movie, I didn't expect it to be any good, but I was surprised with how much he got away with, and I give him credit for that as I can say I actually kind of enjoyed that movie now, as lame as it really was.

I knew Alice in Wonderland would be targeted towards children, since Disney was involved. But hearing that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp would be involved as well made me pretty excited. After seeing it, I admit that I liked how much stuff Burton got away with in a PG movie for kids.

Kid's movies these days try to be serious and detailed though. That's the new trend. Up does it perfectly. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Where the Wild Things Are pull it off. Astro Boy and Monsters Vs Aliens, not so much (they got too weird). Alice in Wonderland still seems to be stuck on trends that were present in the 90's. They were all about the childish antics back then. You can still see it if you watch the kids shows on the Disney Channel.

The good thing is that he gets the point across, but he does so in a way that wasn't the best. Most people would give the film an F automatically because of expectations, but come on, Tim Burton had a lot to work with. He did a hell of a job on the effects. The casting wasn't the best, but it's his typical troupe so people should've liked that, especially since the acting was flawless (in my opinion). Danny Elfman had a great score, and Burton had a great screenwriter that managed to keep a feeble plot from unraveling with awesome dialogue that kept you paying attention to every detail. The only problems I had were the flow of the movie (I know it was a dream world that didn't require explanation, but I would've liked to have grown on more characters than just the Mad Hatter) and it's childish appeal that would've been fine in the 90's but apparently is horrendous today.

The film wasn't perfect in any way, but some people will definitely find more amusement than others by ignoring the small flaws in it that appear bigger to many. Apparently the "growing up" curse has hit Americans harder than ever before, because a movie has to be completely serious these days for it to be any good at all. If it's childish in any way, it's terrible. No time to look back on the good ol' days when things were actually fun. And what better movie to prove this point with this one, which Tim Burton could've made into an awesomely serious PG-13 movie that avoided childish antics (trust me, I would've liked that better too). But it's not like we're going to get another Alice in Wonderland next year. Tim Burton obviously had been provoked by commercially driven producers. Don't blame him for this sucking. Look at the credits, he only directed it. They gave him a script and he did his best with it. If he had full control over it then yes it probably would've been the best thing ever, but since he didn't we have to appreciate what he was able to pull off, and that I do.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

A great story about a team of animals trying to find better opportunities in life while fighting 3 forces of evil. Wait, are we talking about World War II or Fantastic Mr. Fox? Maybe both? Actually, it's Wes Anderson's way of effectively making a story that easily reflects the history of America in an entertaining way that even kids can watch. Combining his dry humor with the classic Dahl children's book, he makes this into one of his best movies to date. And here are some reasons why:

1. Anderson proves that 3D/CGI animation isn't the only way to make an entertaining animated movie today. He uses the stop motion method that was used in Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, and Nightmare Before Christmas, but it isn't just another stop-motion movie, instead it's one of the best and most artistic animated movies altogether.

2. Most animated movies feature personified animals that say things normal people wouldn't really say, and if anyone ever questions this, the normal excuse is that they're animals, so they're not going to act exactly like humans. But the point of personification is giving a non-human character human characteristics, and the characters in Fantastic Mr. Fox behave just like humans, except for when they acknowledge that they're animals.

3. While having a good story of its own, the movie still satirizes the way animated movies personify animals, like I said earlier. The film brings up many philosophical questions that historical figures in human history asked themselves before making a major change. In the movie these animals ask these questions to separate themselves from the animals that they appear to be.

It's actually pretty impressive to see this much adult humor incorporated into an animated movie that's advertised for children. It's really hard to convince older people to watch this movie as the whole "animated" thing scares them away from ever seeing how great this movie really is. But I'm telling you now, see it now, it's funny, the story is great, the voice acting is perfect, every character has their own personality, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this film.

Watchmen
Watchmen(2009)

Oh boy, here's a movie a lot of people love to hate. Some even say it's the worst they've ever seen. I don't know why. Some people just don't get it, I suppose. Maybe they want the love story and the happy ending where the world is saved and the guy and girl end up together. Wait, doesn't that happen here? Maybe it's just because this is unlike any superhero story you've ever seen before. Although some of the acting (really just Akerman and Gugino) isn't great, the movie is somewhat better than the graphic novel, in that it was visually more entertaining, and the twist on the ending was excellent in pointing at the flaws of the American government today. By doing so, Zack Snyder makes Watchmen his own thing. Well, the movie version is his at least, because the writer of the graphic novel, Alan Moore, wanted nothing to do with it. But by making it his, he uses the original storyline and warps it somewhat so that it is also relevant to today's society. My only problem, however, although not a major one, was that while Zack Snyder was making it his own thing, he still stuck to the original story a lot, almost word for word, scene for scene. For some people it's very confusing. By doing this a lot of people are lost because they haven't read the original material, and those who have are confused and irritated that it stuck to the original story so closely but changed it so suddenly. People have been wanting to make this movie for years, though, and I can imagine how bad it would've been if it were Hollywood-ized while sticking to the original ending. It would've sucked. I was pleased with Snyder's work, because he brought his A-game from 300 and gave us spectacular visuals and great fight scenes while never losing focus on it's story, although like I said, with the script it almost seemed like he was in class copying someone else's answers.

The most exciting thing about Watchmen is that it is also great historical fiction. It's taking place during the time of the Cold War, and Nixon's still president, re-elected actually. But since the Watchmen are around, and we have Dr. Manhattan (a radioactive weapon of mass destruction), we won the Vietnam War, and Manhattan stands between America and its remaining enemies. None of the heroes in Watchmen have powers though, except for Dr. Manhattan of course. The rest are all vigilantes. Most of them do it for fun. Since the government isn't doing a good job controlling it's citizens, these guys take into their own hands to clean up the streets. In a way, they are the people's army, but just like war, they are protested because they're violent ways aren't "humane." Kinda funny how they don't get away with it, but when the government gets a whole army to do the same thing, it's okay. It gets to the point that vigilantism is banned, and we are introduced to the real hero of the story, Rorschach, who fights for justice from beginning to end. His side of the story masterfully blends neo-noir with the epic-scale of the rest of it. While the rest of the Watchmen have returned to their normal lives, they suddenly get called back into action by Rorschach when it appears that they are being hunted down one by one. This enemy's plans turn out to be extremely monumental, just as Rorschach had thought, but in the end they come to a stopping point when they have to decide who exactly is doing the right thing.

Then again, you can't just have all these superheroes that are double-crossing us. That wouldn't be right, although we think it's okay to kill tons of people in our own wars, so why can't the Watchmen do it too? If it saves the world and ensures peace, is it really that bad? If it's the only way, and the most effective way, shouldn't it be okay? The atomic bomb was catastrophic, but it was effective in ending World War II, so it seemed necessary. Does the government always have to save the world? In comics, superheroes are the ones saving the world. So why not take it to extremes and having superheroes fighting our wars for us? Superheroes sometimes get a kick out of hurting others, but haven't soldiers as well? When it comes to story, Zack Snyder seems pretty simple, but since he was able to effectively transfer the message of the graphic novel to the big-screen, I applaud him for doing it so excellently. And out of it we got a superb performance from Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach, the conventional hero that is drawn into this large-scale adventure. By following his character, who seems like the Batman-esque detective type of vigilante, we are also drawn into this adventure, and although it's rough, it's the most extreme superhero adventure we could ever ask for

She's Out of My League

Although I wasn't completely disappointed when I left the theater, there were still a lot of problems with this movie. One being that screenwriter Sean Anders did not direct this movie like he did with his past film, the underrated Sex Drive from last year. I'm not incredibly certain if that would've helped much, but it couldn't have been any worse. I'm sorry if you throroughly enjoyed this film, because you have sadly fallen victim to the invasion of cliched comedies that forgot how to be original. Instead, these films try to throw together either a bunch of witty, foul-mouthed, average-looking guys, one attractive girl whose looks are overrated, and this girl's best friend whose unattractiveness and rudeness helps the overrated attractiveness of her counterpart. Judd Apatow has also started a trend in comedies that this movie tried to imitate from start to finish. The characters are unrealistically rude to their friends, parents act mindless, the one hot girl always says something sexual in front of the guys that helps her overrated attractiveness, there's always a random classic rock band that's thrown in there that one or more of the characters are too excited about, and then, probably the most annoying Apatow trend, a lot of catchy, random sayings are tossed around, in hopes that they will catch on in real life and make the movie a "cult classic" of sorts, but when it's done too much it just looks like they're trying too hard to be funny and makes every other problem with the movie apparent. It was even funny to watch that one guy that was the camera man from Cloverfield trying to make up his mind whether he wanted to be Seth Rogen or Napoleon Dynamite. The more I think about it, the less I like this movie actually. If the acting was any good, some of those funny lines might actually have been funny. The ONLY part that I'd consider memorable was Nate Torrence's references to Aladdin. "Princess Jasmine!"

Inglourious Basterds

They talk too much. Some scenes drag. I don't like reading subtitles. The violence is disgusting. The Basterds are barely in the movie. It was just ridiculous.

These are some complaints I've heard about Inglourious Basterds, but there all the reasons this film is so great. All these accusations do for me is show how ignorant moviegoers have become today. There is nothing wrong about this movie, except for it's historical accuracy, but that was intended, of course. Quentin Tarantino had been working on this film for almost 10 years, just like James Cameron had been working on Avatar for 10 years, except Tarantino actually spent all that time working on the script. This movie's impact on the film industry will be more apparent a few years from now, but I'll tell you right now: historical fiction is going to take a drastic turn. Soon we're going to see a lot of movies that try to rewrite history, but most of them will probably not be as brilliant as this.

This is now one of my favorite movies, and in my opinion the best movie of 2009, so I've taken some time to analyze a few of the reasons Inglourious Basterds is as excellent as it is.

The film itself has brilliant acting, featuring a triangle of characters who all come together to a brilliant climax that rewrites history in a way that showcases Tarantino's ingenious filmmaking techniques. Chistoph Waltz plays one of the best villains you're ever going to see in a movie. Every time he's in a scene you can expect amazing dialogue as well as incredible suspense. The amazing soundtrack elevates every scene in the film to show Tarantino's precise direction in making the story unravel in the best way possible. Almost like a horror film, most scenes build up to a violent climax because of the intensifying music. Brad Pitt plays one of the coolest American soldiers ever, bringing together a great ensemble of Nazi hunters whose ideals are somewhat over-the-top, but necessary in the case of this being a revenge film. And no one brings the revenge more than Mélanie Laurent, who plays Shoshanna Dreyfus, a Jew whose plans will drastically change the course of World War II.

The film itself, while looking like a war film, is actually a western taking place in the war. While it appears that this is the biggest unique quality of the movie, it really isn't. The film is actually about film. And by film, I mean Tarantino's love for it. He uses this movie to show how much film has changed his life, while it has also served as a means for audiences to gain an abstract view on historical events, to obtain different perceptions on reality. The climax of the movie takes place in a theater, where a film about Nazi pride is being premiered. The movie exhibits the German perspective on the war, and shows us just what Inglourious Basterds is doing at the same time. The characters in the movie even talk about classic movies, and give us some interesting views on certain ones, such as elaborating on how King Kong was about racism and slavery. And they even build up Pitt's character by referencing the film character he was inspired by.

No film ever gets historical events right. So if you can't get it right, why not do it your own way? Why not rewrite history to show events unravel the way we really would've wanted them to? And why not get Tarantino to do it? He makes us laugh at things that aren't funny. How is war funny? When it is rewritten in a way that makes us laugh with joy, it shows just how movies are made to appeal to their audiences. No matter how historical events occur, there will always be someone who changes the way people look at it by rewriting it to be the way people want to see it. This film ends World War II the way we wanted it to end, and just when you think you had it all figured out, you'll be surprised to find out that things unfold differently than how you predicted, in a way that's so fascinating that you cannot deny the brilliance of Inglourious Basterds.

Bolt
Bolt(2008)
½

A spark of hope that Disney can do well without Pixar, although they have to rip off Pixar to do it. Bolt's character is like Buzz Lightyear in almost every way, but the fact that they turn the story in a different direction rather than making it into another Don Quixote adaptation helps out a lot. Not to mention that Disney just had to use their biggest star of the moment as a voice actor in this, one of the few things that bothered me with this film. They also pull off great special effects to prove that they can handle modern animation without Pixar's help.

While Buzz Lightyear was pushed out into the world, Bolt went out on his own, with the same egotistical characteristics that get him in over his head pretty quickly. The story once again proves that people with big heads are still small compared to the world, a pretty strong morality lesson I guess they felt like reminding us. While having some dull moments, what saves this movie the most is the heartfelt factor that Disney hasn't done for me in a while... and the two hilarious animals that accompany Bolt on his adventure.

The Dark Knight

How many words do you need to describe this movie? One word? Epic. Two words? Best Picture. Three words? Why so serious? Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker is unreal, unforgettable, and simply amazing. This movie goes beyond its limitations and has become the greatest sequel ever, the greatest superhero movie ever, and possibly one of the best films in cinematic history. Led by stellar performances from Ledger, Bale, and Aaron Eckhart, whose acting would've been the main display of this film, had it not been for the Joker getting the main spotlight, the Dark Knight presents a unique and complex story, an iconic villian to live among the ranks of Darth Vader and Hannibal Lector, and a film that can be remembered for years to come. Hands down. It's worth seeing over and over again. And when you think you've seen it enough, you'll want to see it again.

Christopher Nolan makes this movie into a masterpiece by combining elements of Hollywood film and art cinema, or in other words, awesome explosions and even awesomer characters, but the best part is the psychological aspect of the film. Not only do the three main characters (Bruce, Harvey, and Joker) have messed up heads, the way the Dark Knight is filmed keeps you glued to the screen, making you want to watch every second of it. Every scene ends before it should (a Kubrick-style of suspense that's one of the best). It's like riding up a hill as fast as you should be falling down it, but when you finally do go down it, it's just as slow as it should be going up, and you get to enjoy every second of this film's conclusion. You get to watch the Joker fall, Batman fall, and even Harvey, after they all had their moments of glory earlier. Well, maybe not Batman, who had to try and save the other two from falling too fast. Of course it was easier for him to save the Joker, because he was the one that pushed him, but when Joker pushed Harvey, it required a lot more effort.

And on another note, did anyone notice the symbolism with dogs? They were everywhere in the film, Joker even called himself "a dog chasing cars" at one point. The "Big 3" actually represented different types of dogs if you think about it. Harvey was the kind that's loyal at first until one day when it finally bites and has to be put down. Joker is the kind that's wild and uncontrollable from the start. And Batman is the opposite, the one who is loyal from start to finish. Makes you think Catwoman would be the perfect villain for the sequel right?