Mr. Dufresne's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Snow White and the Huntsman

I think this movie looks like it has the potential to be great. Charlize Theron looks amazing as the Evil Queen! And I'm a Chris Hemsworth fan now after Thor and The Avengers; he actually does have acting chops. And I also think Kristen Stewart gets unfairly criticized for Twilight. I mean, I'm no Twilight fan, but she's not the reason the movies aren't great. Also, the visuals (judging from the trailers) look outstanding.

Marvel's The Avengers

Okay guys, The Avengers has been out for a week now. As I'm sure most people know (though I'm sure some don't), The Avengers has been brewing for at least 5 years, and the wave of excitement first hit after audiences experienced the scene after the ending credits of Iron Man in 2008. That scene confirmed that an Avengers movie was in the works, and comic book fans everywhere nearly peed their pants. SInce Iron Man, we've gotten The Incredible Hulk (which I haven't seen), Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America. All of these movies tie into The Avengers, which is finally here.

The Avengers had obviously been immensely hyped up leading into its release. Also, fans who got to see the movies during early screenings (as well as most prof. critics and audiences who saw it opening weekend) raved about the movie and said it completely lived up to the hype. The first time I saw the film (last Monday, with a good but not extremely energetic crowd), I definitely was not disappointed in the film, but I was wanting to have a more "blown away" reaction to it. I think the reason I wasn't as blown away was because the movie had been hyped so much than when I saw the movie, I almost felt like I had already seen it based on the buzz.

Bring on the second time. I realized beforehand that there was nothing I disliked about the film, and I was able to go into free of worrying about how it lived up to hype, and I was COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY. This movie is probably the closest thing to what it felt like experiencing the original Star Wars on the big screen in terms of spectacle and even with memorable characters. Also, I saw the film in 3D the second time, and while I'm normally not a fan, I HIGHLY recommend seeing this film in 3D. It completely immersed me into the film, like I was looking through a portal.

All of the actors are fantastic here. Not a single person feels out of place, not even Scarlett Johanssen, who is fantastic in this film. All of the actors perfectly embody their roles and truly become their characters. Most notable are Evans, Ruffalo, RDJ, Hemsworth, and Hiddleston. Tom Hiddlelston as Loki is one of the better comic book villains I've seen; he plays the character in an almosot childish but deliciously evil way.

The action scenes (there are MANY) are INCREDIBLE, and they actually serve the story. They're well shot and feel completely believable within the context. The visual effects might be the best I've ever seen. The action is never boring and rarely lets up.

The true star of this movie is Joss Whedon. Among his many TV credentials, Whedon helped write the original Toy Story, and judging from this script, the contribution he made to Toy Story was HUGE. The characters are incredibly well-balanced, all have great depth, and they ALL have their moments to shine. Not a single one feels shortchanged. The script is also HILARIOUS. So many clever, witty, laugh-out-loud moments of genuinely funny stuff.

Alan Silvestri's score is perfect in every way; it's big, grand, and epic in every since, and dramatic when it needs to be. There are moments where the score (combined with what is going on in the movie) will give you CHILLS. The score is reminiscent to the likes of Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The Avengers is easily my favorite superhero/comic book movie of all time. It is a masterpiece and an instant classic, one that will definitely go down in history. It is pure movie magic, and I have a hard time seeing myself loving any 2012 movie more (though I'm looking forward to many more). See it!

War Horse
War Horse(2011)

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

I remember being intrigued by the trailer for War Horse for a few reasons. For one, Steven Spielberg is my all time favorite director; I genuinely love or really like most of his films. Also, the music in the trailer (which thankfully is a part of John Williams' score for the film) is BEAUTIFUL.

As you can see by my 100% rating, I LOVED War Horse, way more than I even expected to. Everything just came together so well in this movie (all the stories, the characters, the cinematography, the music).

I loved how the movie is from the horse's (Joey's) perspective. Even though he isn't human and therefore doesn't talk, I loved how Spielberg filmed his face and his eyes at several moments. And the horse, or horses, since they probably used several, were great actors (haha). I also really cared for the human characters that Joey comes across in the movie.

The cinematography of the movie is spellbinding. I love the greens of all the vast landscapes, and the lighting during the war scenes is fantastic as well, full of dark, vibrant grays and blacks. And I personally was blown away by the Gone With the Wind-inspired sunset and silhouttes at the end of the film, and it made me thoroughly grateful that I ended up seeing this film on the silver screen. The visual effects are all wonderful and very real, especially during the war scenes. Like with Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg shows he can direct fantastic war sequences. There isn't really much gore shown, but that works for this movie.

I must say that I LOVED the score by John Williams. I don't even want to say it's one of his best because I love just about EVERY score of his. I love how the music swelled up, how noble and beautiful it could be, how suspenseful it could be, etc. I was honestly humming the score to myself after seeing the film. It definitely feels inspired by the some of the classic Hollywood epics.

While War Horse has gotten overall good ratings and reviews, there are many who dislike it. Some people dislike the trailer, some dislike the fact that it's about a horse. Common criticisms are that this movie is overly sentimental and forced. While it is definitely a sentimental film, I never felt that the emotion was forced. The music made me feel the situations even more. To be honest, the things about this movie that some are calling cheesy and overly sentimental, I call movie magic. I can't help but feel that if E.T. were released today, people would be saying the same thing about it.

I'm not saying everyone has to love War Horse or that everyone who dislikes it is cynical, but in this post 9-11 world I just can't help but feel that people are subsconsciously more cynical. This movie gave me a feeling that I've gotten with movies like Gone With the Wind or Lawrence of Arabia. It felt big and epic in scope, and it was full of great, memorable moments. My personal favorite scene in the film (and one of my favorite movie sewuence ever) is when Joey the horse is running for his life through No Man's Land. My jaw was DROPPED during that scene, and my eyes were about to pop from how wide they were. That scene was not only beautiful and exciting to watch, but it was also great because I was right there with Joey. I felt like I was him running; I felt his fear and the wind rushing behind him as he ran.

I know some people will call this ludicrous, but I think War Horse is one of Spielberg's BEST (that's right, BEST) films. It's in the same league as E.T., Jaws, Raiders (my personal favorite), etc. And I thought Spielberg was past his prime. I mean, this is just my opinion, I'm not saying it's fact. But I was blown away by War Horse; it made me feel "movie magic", something that is absent a lot these days even from great movies. I was shocked by how much I love this film, but I sure am glad I wasn't disappointed. The Best Picture Oscar nomination is justly deserved (regardless of other snubs).

Warrior
Warrior(2011)

NO SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

WOW. I'm not going to give away anything about this movie. All I'll say is that the sport is Mixed Martial Arts and the film revolves around two brothers and their father. If you want to know more, that's fine, but you won't hear it from me. I feel like the film will pack a much stronger punch if you don't know the past of these characters.

I actually didn't see Warrior in theaters even though I wanted to, and unfortunately not many more people saw it, either. I heard to many great things about it, however, so I decided to buy the Blu-Ray. Is this movie the next Rocky? Well, there are difference for sure, but in terms of emotional power, YES.

The MMA scenes are all well-choreographed and filmed (I'm not an MMA expert but the fights looked great to me). The film has a very nice, realistic look to it as well. There are actually severak closeups in this movie, and they're all very effective in helping the audience feel what the characters are feeling.

The performances in this movie are EXCELLENT. Tom Hardy is very good (and a beast as well. Can't wait to see him as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises!). Joel Edgerton (Owen Lars from Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) does a great job in this role, showing that he can really act. And Nick Nolte is incredible as the father; he deserves a Best Supporting Actor nomination from any awards program. All the supporting members of the cast are great as well.

The best thing about this movie is that the story and the characters (and the performances) all feel real. The actors don't seem to be acting, but rather being the characters. Also, this film is INCREDIBLY emotionally powerful. I'll go ahead and say it...I cried--no, SOBBED. While I do get emotional at many movies, it's very, very rare (especially with today's movies) that I break down crying. A few that come to mind are The Lion King, The Fox and the Hound, Bambi,(see a pattern here? UP, The Prince of Egypt, To Kill a Mockingbird, and that's all I can think of. But Warrior had me sobbing minutes after it was over.certain scene in the middle/later half had me sobbing and then the ending hit me, too. This was an incredibly well-made film, and while it is 140 minutes, there were never any pacing issues.

Warrior is a great film, and I have to say that it's my 3rd favorite film of 2011 after Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, right above Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Again, I don't want to spoil anything; go into this film in the dark. Buy the DVD or Blu-Ray since they're out!

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

NO SPOILERS ARE IN THIS REVIEW

One word: WHOA! First of all, I watched the Mission Impossible series (the first three) for the first time a few weeks ago. I loved the first one after I grasped the plot, enjoyed 2 but mainly for the action scenes, and loved 3 (3 was my favorite). I say "was" because this one COMPLETELY blows all the previous three out of the water.

The basic premise is that something bad happens (I won't say what in case you don't know) and the IMF is disavowed. Ethan Hunt and his team are on their own, no longer backed by the government, as they try to stop a plot for nuclear destruction while also clearing the IMF's name.

I absolutely loved the story of this movie. Everything about it hit all the right notes. It was the most intense, the most thrilling, the most emotional...everything. You have to know what you're getting into as well, people. This is silly popcorn entertainment; however, it's SMART silly popcorn entertainment. While I found the plot easy to follow, it doesn't require you to turn your brain off; you actually do have to think while watching this movie, much like with the first one.

The cast is terrific. Tom Cruise is great once again as Ethan Hunt, and he hasn't lost any of his athleticism apparently (he did all his own stunts). Forget his personal life, because he's really good in this. This film also boasts the strongest supporting cast of any of the films in the series. Simon Pegg is fantastic as Benjy, the technological expert of the group (he's funny but not over the top, and he's great in dramatic scenes as well). Jeremy Renner's character has a lot of depth and is very cool, and he also has a funny side. And Paula Patton...PAULA PATTON, man! How had I not ever seen her before prior to this film? First of all, to prevent myself from sounding shallow, her performance was very good. Her character, Jane, was very well-fleshed out, very likeable. not your generic female lead. Also, she was INCREDIBLY sexy while also vulnerable in a very feminine way. I totally bought her as being able to whoop some can, since she's not incredibly thin like some other actresses. I must say that I have a new major crush.

The movie's action scenes are BREATHTAKING, and there are LOTS of them. There's a scene in Dubai which is incredibly thrilling (especially if you're afraid of heights like I am), a scene involving a sand storm which incredibly intense, a catfight, and many more great chases and fights. And for not one moment did any of them get in the way of the story. It's no surprise that this film is so good, because Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille) is the visionary here, the director. In several ways, this feels like an indirect, live-action sequel to The Incredibles (both have great action scenes, great stories, and great characters, as well as clever humor). Brad Bird directed this film incredibly well; and there is actually no shaky cam in this film. These are some of the best action scenes I have probably ever seen, and I've seen many great action movies.

I really thought the emotional core of this movie was strong. One of the things I loved was the team element, something which was strongly present in the first but not in the 2nd and somewhat in the 3rd. To be honest, this is the first film in the series that shows how much Ethan Hunt needs his team. I won't spoil anything, but the way the Dubai scene ends was what really helped me begin to love this film. Again, VERY strong team element; all of the cast get their moments in this film. Also, ALL of the characters have depth, something that can't really be said of any of the other films in the series.

Michael Giacchino's score is fantastic. It's incredibly intense and exhilarating, and it's also light at times. Very fun to listen to.

This is a wonderful movie, and I won't be surprised if it becomes one of my favorite movies of all time. It's my second favorite movie of the year after Deathly Hallows Part 2. I honestly didn't expect to love it THIS much. This isn't just your standard dumb popcorn flick; it's really a very well-crafted, incredibly entertaining film.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

I love the original Planet of the Apes film (I'm indifferent towards the sequels). When I first heard of this movie, I was a bit skeptical, but to be honest, when I saw the trailer, I thought there was a chance it would be good. Obviously the reaction to this movie once it was released was very positive. Though I unfortunately didn't catch it in theaters, I bought it because I was sure I would love it. And I did.

The story of this film is simple, so simple that I won't even bother explaining it. To be honest, at first I almost felt a bit disappointed by this, since I was expecting the story (and the film) to feel bigger and larger in scale. However, thinking about it some more, I think that's the beauty of this film. The story is simple but it's very well-crafted, and that's always what matters.

One thing that I almost considered a flaw was undervelopment of some of the human subplots. James Franco and Frieda Pinto, for instance; we do see how their relationship develops (it develops through their friendship with Caesar), but we don't see any other sides of it. However, I did q 180 and realized that this was one of the things I loved about the movie, that it was incredibly focused on the main story of the apes. Many movies in the past have been bogged down by unnecessary subplots, and thankfully this is not one of them.

All of the cast is very good. James Franco and Frieda Pinto do well with what they're given. John Lithgow is fantastic, and he gives a heartfelt performance. Tom Felton is almost more unlikeable as Dodge Landon than he is as Draco Malfoy (hopefully he avoids typecasting), but his performance is solid. And do I even need to mention Andy Serkis? His performance just goes without saying. All the other motion capture actors are great.

The CGI effects are wonderful. None of them are overblown. I really dug the motion capture and CGI for the apes. Obviously for these apes, pure CGI, real apes, or people dressed as apes couldn't have worked. The motion capture helped these characters feel more organic and real, and the CGI was very good as well; I particularly loved the eyes and the wrinkles in their faces and hands. The big action scene near the end is also incredibly engrossing and story-motivated, as well as incredibly powerful and poignant. I honestly felt myself tearing up.

The movie's biggest strength is the characters. The humans are good but the apes are great. It's amazing how attached you become to these characters when there is pretty much zero dialogue. I loved watching Caesar develop into the leader for these apes, and I loved that the film showed how challenging the decisions were that he had to make. The score by Patrick Doyle is really good and exhilarating as well.

This film manages to be a stand-alone film that definitely pays tribute to the original classic. It's my second favorite film (out of what I've seen) of 2011 after Deathly Hallows Part 2). See it!

Superman
Superman(1978)

SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

I liked Superman as a kid (from the 1996 animated series); he was the first superhero I got into, but I quickly began to like Batman more. I also got into Spider-Man as well. As I became a teenager, I started saying that Superman was "boring" and "too perfect", and being a stupid teenager, I made fun of the red underwear. Anyway, as a film fan in 2011, I decided to rewatch the 1978 Superman on Netflix (which I never had a problem with but hadn't seen very often).

I ordered the movie from Amazon afterwards. I absolutely LOVED this film. It's regarded by many as a classic, and it is the first legitimate superhero film, the first one to be taken seriously. In these days of The Dark Knight and Iron Man, etc., some people may overlook this one, but it is a undisputedly a classic and still one of the best superhero films out there.

The greatest aspect about this film is the casting, particularly Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman. It amazes me that he was an unknown before this, and even afterwards he was never really a "big" actor. But if there's a such thing as perfect casting, it's Christopher Reeve as both Kent and the Man of Steel. While some overanalytical people might look at Clark Kent and say "It's obvious who it is, just take off his glasses", the whole trick is that Clark Kent and Superman are two completely different personalities. Reeve doesn't give more attention to one or the other; he basically plays two different roles in the same film. Both Clark Kent and Superman are incredibly likeable as well. On a side note, everyone else (from Margot Kidder to Gene Hackman) are fine here, but Christopher Reeve is the standout.

Some of the visual effects look dated today, but they're overall quite impressive considering this was 1978. Thisi film was fresh off the heels of "Star Wars", which was revolutionary, so Star Wars probably really influenced this film in terms of visual effects. In the extended version of the film, there's a scene where Superman is being barraged by bullets, fire, and ice without getting hurt; it's a very good effects sequence.

The score of this movie is PHENOMENAL. John Williams is behind it, and as always, he never disappoints. The opening titles (which are very memorable visually) are really known for the "Superman theme". The theme has a quiet, intense buildup that gradually picks up and gets louder and higher, and eventually becomes majestic and, well, you just have to hear it for yourself. It's one of the most recognizable, iconic themes out there.

While many people (myself included) may prefer the more flawed heroes like Batman and Spider-Man, I believe that Superman is the embodiment of the best of people, and that's what makes him a great character. Superman is an incredibly inspirational figure, one that stands for all that is good and true in the world. The love that he has for humanity reflects how we all should be. What I also love about him is that he is capable of getting angry, and Reeve pulls that off very well, too.

I really love the believability of this movie. I'm not saying that the film is realistic, as it's obviously not, but the trick of any great film is to make the audience believe that the world is real. This film does that excellently. The infamous "turning back time" sequence gets a lot of criticism from people, but I have no problem with it. I like that Superman gets angry, and him turning back time was a good way of showing what he can do in his desperation, since Lois Lane had died.

While the movie might be corny at times, none of it bothered me, since it is a comic book film. None of the corniness hurt the movie. Superman is a classic that paved the way for every superhero film after it. It is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I highly recommend it.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)
½

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS

I just got done watching this on Netflix. I honestly didn't know what to expect from this movie. I mean, a little girl killing people and cussing like a sailor? Violent, gory action? I didn't think that was my type of movie at all. In this case, I was WRONG.

I absolutely loved Kick-A**. I really liked the main character, Dave, and I can definitely relate to him in wondering what it would be like to be a superhero. I really rooted for his character in the same way I rooted for Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker in the first Spider-Man (thought that's a very different film).

I loved the cast. Aaron Johnson was great and likeably nerdy, yet you got the sense that he really did want to help people. Christopher Mintz-Plasse was funny in his role. Lyndsy Fonseca was incredibly sexy and acted her role very well. I really liked Nicholas Cage as Big Daddy, too. However, Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl is the main attraction. I can't even describe how awesome this character is (I changed my profile picture to her, that speaks for itself). This girl could easily take on Christian Bale's Batman.

The action was stylistically directed and very entetaining. I never thought I'd be the type to enjoy gore, but I loved the heck out of it. Seeing people get bullets shot through their heads, knives pierced through their chests, etc. (I know I sound like a sadist, but I'm really not). For this type of movie, I thought the violence was perfectly fine and a lot of fun. You just have to understand what type of film you're going into; if you can't handle gore, it's probably not for you.

The movie was very funny also. I thought the masturbation jokes early on were funny; the fact that Dave allowed Katie to think he was gay just so he could be around her was great; when Katie (referring to Kick-Ass) said "I would f*** his brains out" when she already knew who he was, etc. Also the first batch of killings Hit Girl did had me laughing and scared at the same time. Also, the movie made fun of some comic book cliches, but it felt natural and never forced.

I actually really thought the story was surprisingly strong as well. It took different twists and turns that I didn't expect (though I had a certain character's death spoiled for me). The movie had surprising depth and heart to it, also, which balanced out well with the comedy. The movie was well-paced, and the story never felt inconsistent or out-of-place).

My main gripe with this movie (I might get some hate for this, but it's how I feel), is that there are WAY too many -bombs dropped. I mean, I'd be weathly if I got $20 for every f-bomb that was dropped in this movie. There were certain instances where it made sense and where it was funny, instances where I didn't mind, but other times it simply got a bit distracting. That's a minor gripe considering the movie I'm watching, but they definitely could have toned down the language some and the movie would have been no less great.

Other than that, I really loved Kick-A**. I love it enough to buy in on Blu-Ray, which I will do in the future. I can't recommend it to everybody, but if you're into superhero movies/fun popcorn flicks/action flicks etc., definitely check it out. Honestly, if you're just looking for a good time, watch it.

Winnie the Pooh

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS

As a huge fan of classic Disney, it's only natural that I love Winnie the Pooh. I love the original featurettes that make up The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; heck, I even love the old 80s/90s TV show for nostalgic value. When this movie was announced a few years back, I was very excited, especially because the filmmakers wanted to do it in the style of the old shorts. It was to be hand drawn (big applause to Disney there) and feel similar in style to the old shorts. Unfortunately, the Harry Potter fan in me prevented me from seeing this in theaters, and it wasn't long before this was out of most. However, thanks to my eagerness to see it, as well as the great reviews, I planned on buying it when it came out, so I picked it up after work last night.

As expected, I LOVED this movie. I had a blast! It really took me right back to being 5, 6, 7 years old again, took me back to a time where I was wide-eyed about almost everything. The film starts with a short called The Ballad of Nessie, which is also hand drawn (yay again) and entertaining, with a great message behind it). Anyway, the story of this movie is very simple, as it should be. Winnie the Pooh is starving for honey (or hunny), as he's all out of it, and Eeyore's lost his tale. Everything else goes from there, and the storylines are concluded at the end of the film.

The animation, of course, was wonderful. Everything moved fluidly, the colors were vibrant and beautiful. The art design was great, again harking back to the old shorts. I loved the watercolor backgrounds and sketches; they were really old-school and really well done. On a side note, the film starts in a live action version of Christopher Robin's room, like the older film did, which was wonderful.

I actually loved all of the songs. Others have said that they weren't memorable, but I've found myself humming to a few like "The Backson Song", the Tummy Song, the Honey song, and of course, the classic "Winnie the Pooh", which brings me to mention Zooey Deschanel. Zooey sings most of the songs, most notably the opening, and I honestly thought she was great for this film. Her voice has a very nostalgic flavor that suits Winnie the Pooh very well, and I like the choir effect that is used for some of the songs.

The script was actually fantastic. The humor isn't quite like Pixar humor or Dream Works humor. What I mean is, there isn't any humor that will go right over kids' heads. Kids will understand the humor and laugh, but the great thing is that adults will laugh, too, because of how charming it is. There are many witty, hilarious scenes (my favorite scene is the movie is when the characters are stuck in a pit trying to figure out how to get out). The humor manages to appeal to both ages and is never too childish or juvenile. Also, John Cleese is excellent as the narrator.

Perhaps my favorite part of Winnie the Pooh is the characters. I really love the characters (though Owl can be annoying because of his arrogance, but that's what makes him funny). But I love this cast of characters, my favorites being Eeyore, Tigger, and Pooh. The voice cast does a great job, despite the changes to most. Usually, I'm not a fan of voice changes, but seeing as this is a fresh new film and some of the older actors have passed on, the replacements are fine. They do a great job capturing te spirit of the characters. Of course, Jim Cummings is great as Pooh and Tigger.

The movie is only about 62 minutes long (without the short). While I certainly would have loved more, I was completely satisfied with the movie as it was. Even though it was short, it told a complete story, simple like it needed to be. And it has a good message at the end, too.

The greatest thing about this movie as a whole is that while it is a tribute to the classic featurettes, it's not a clone. It introduces humpr and stories that we've never seen in a Winnie the Pooh film before, so it can actually stand on it's own as a classic Pooh film. The best way to describe this movie is a classic Winnie the Pooh film released in 2011, and I honestly think it's on the same level as The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; I really love them both, and they're both great for what they are. This film is a great way to introduce today's kids to Winnie the Pooh. I really enjoyed The Princess and the Frog and Tangled, both films that I feel have been helping Disney get back to top form. Winnie the Pooh is definitely my favorite of them all. I was smiling from start to finish. I recommend it for all ages; definitely pick it up.

The Help
The Help(2011)

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS


I haven't written a review in a while, but I saw The Help on Monday so I figured I ought to write about it. I was mildly interested in The Help when it came out, but what has really peaked my interest is the word-of-mouth and it's incredible box office run. I still haven't seen Rise of the Apes (which I still REALLY want to see), but I chose to see The Help because I see so many big summer movies that I figured I'd see a good old-fashioned movie like this in theaters.

I loved The Help. I thought everything about it worked very well. Based on the book by Kathryn Stockett, it takes place in the heat of the Civil Rights Movement, and it centers around an aspiring journalist named Eugenia Skeeter (played by Emma Stone), who decides to she wants to write a book from the perspective of "the Help", or the black maids. It's unbelievable how many injustices were going on in these times, and the circumstances of these maids' lives are among them. I thought the movie had a very good, realistic feel to it. It never felt overly sappy or preachy.

The acting in the movie was phenomenal across the board. As a male, I have to admit that the acting industry is pretty much dominated by males, or at least it seems that way; it's great to see a female-dominant cast, and the fact that I wasn't even thinking about the fact that it was mostly females made it even better. Emma Stone is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses, and I really love how she's branching out; she'll definitely continue to get great roles. Alison Janney, Sissy Spacek, and Jessica Chastain all have great, memorable roles in this film. Cicely Tyson does really well in certain flashback scenes as Skeeter's old nanny. The three standouts for me, however, were Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Bryce Dallas Howard in no particular order. Viola Davis brings so much reality and depth to her character, Aibileen; she really makes you believe every scene she's in. Octavia Spencer, an actress who I remember seeing in a minor role in Coach Carter, has really come a LONG way; I had no idea she had so much talent. It's worth noting that she was actually the inspiration for the character of Minny in the book. Her character is easily the funniest in the movie, and provides the turning point in the story.

Now we have Bryce Dallas Howard, the daughter of director Ron Howard who many like to think of as Opie from "The Andy Griffith Show" or Richie Cunningham fron "Happy Days". One thing is for certain; Bryce is definitely not riding on her father's legacy. I had only ever seen her as Gwen Stacey from Spider-Man 3, a role which really didn't require any acting talent at all. So, needless to say, despite the word-of-mouth, I was shocked by how downright EVIL she was. Seriously, her character, Hilly Holbrook, would probably make Voldemort wet his robes (okay, maybe not). But she plays one of the most downright despicable human beings out there, and she does so PERFECTLY. She can appear to be calm and sweet (in a fake way similar to that of Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter), but in reality she's a monster. She's a racist, and she bullies anyone she can to get what she wants. What's scariest of all is that people like this really exist. It's amazing how Bryce (whom I'd assume is the complete opposite of Hilly) can have that friendly look in her eyes one moment and then later look like a fire-breathing dragon. I think Viola, Octavia, and Bryce ALL deserve Oscar nominations.

The score of this film (by Thomas Newman) is very good, echoing "Shawshank" quite a bit.

I honestly don't really want to spoil much, but the "pie scene" in the film is easily one of the funniest moments I can remember watching in recent history. It's pretty gross at the same time, though. But you get to see Hilly Holbrook get what's coming to her. I particularly love the scene where a drunken Hilly confronts Skeeter on her porch after Skeeter's book has been sold in stores and read by many. The author and the people in it are anonymous, but Hilly knows that Skeeter wrote it and that one of the characters is her (Hilly). Raging, Hilly goes to tell Skeeter's mother about it, and Skeeter's mother, who had her disagreements with her daughter earlier, tells Hilly off in a cheer-inducing moment.

A common criticism of this film is that it waters down this time period. I personally disagree; this film is not meant to be a historical docudrama. It has its own story that it tells, yet it still implies that many other horrible events are happening/can happen. Another controversy is that the film is another "white savior" movie that shows black people has helpless. As a black person myself, I disagree with that, because I would say that Skeeter and the maids (particularly Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) all helped each other equally. Also, there were whites who participated in the Civil Rights Movement; you'd be an idiot to say otherwise.

Overall, I really loved The Help. It is very inspiring and has a great message behind it; I'll admit that I teared up at the end. Harry Potter and Super 8 are the only other 2011 films I've seen this year, and The Help is my second favorite behind Harry Potter. I highly recommend checking it out! I'll be buying it on DVD when it comes out.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
½

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW FOR MULTIPLE HARRY POTTER MOVIES


Now that I've seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 twice (and loved it even more the second time), it caused me to look back at the entire series. Now, I'm a fan of all of the films, and I think each of them have something unique to offer, but I do have my favorites. My top 3 favorites are easily Deathly Hallows (both parts), Prisoner of Azkaban, and Order of the Phoenix. While I see where the first two fall a bit short in some filmmaking aspects, I still love them for the nostalgia and for how they ease you into the story. And Goblet of Fire, despite the fact that it cut a lot of stuff, managed to be an very exciting, thrilling film all the way through. Ever since I first saw Half Blood Prince, I considered it my least favorite. For one, I was disappointed by a few things it changed/left out from the book, and then I just felt that not much happened in this film compared to the previous ones.

I actually just rewatched this movie, and I can honestly say that it is no longer my least favorite film in the series. The weird thing is, I don't think I even HAVE a least favorite film in the series, because while there are certainly some I love more than others, I love them all for different reasons (similar to how I feel about the books); if I do, it's probably Goblet of Fire. The thing is, Half Blood Prince used to easily be my least favorite film. Seeing Deathly Hallows really made me appreciate this film more, because this film is essentially the setup for the final movie; the book actually had a similar effect. I remember appreciating Half Blood Prince much more after reading Deathly Hallows, because Half Blood Prince felt almost incomplete.

Despite the fact that this film takes quite a few liberties from the book, I still think it manages to remain very true to the story. I do wish that there were more memories in the film, or that Dumbledore at least offered Harry more in-depth information about Voldemort's past, such as how Voldemort was conceived from a love potion, but those are minor gripes. The memories that are included are the right ones, and the way I take it in the film, Dumbledore has probably visisted some of the memories in private (the ones that are not in the film). I've noticed quite a few people refer to this film as "dull", and I used to feel the same way. However, much like the book, the thing about Half Blood Prince is that most of the plot centers around discovering Voldemort's past/finding out the secret to his power; in other words, most of the action happens mentally. Considering how full of action the other films are, I actually really like how the action is more internal here.

There are two particular liberties that I know to bother some fans of the books. One is the attack that occurs on the Burrow. Initially, I was confused as to why that was even in the film as well, but now I love that scene. The purpose of that scene is not only to refuel Harry's anger at Bellatrix for killing Sirius (she sings "I KILLED SIRIUS BLACK!" as he chases her); it's to show that Voldemort is trying to increase fear and hysteria. Some fans say that it's a plothole that the Burrow got burned down, yet we see it in the next film; I figure that some powerful wizard such as Kingsley Shacklebolt helped rebuilt the house to its original state (I mean, it IS magic, after all). Another complaint has to do with the climax of the film, Dumbledore's death. In the book, Harry and Dumbledore return from their trip to see a big battle raging at Hogwarts between the school and the Death Eaters. It's easily one of my favorite chapters in the series because it's extremely exhilarating. However, I 100% understand why the filmmakers cut it; it simply would have seemed repetitive on film to have another battle at Hogwarts in the final film. Also, the lack of the battle might have actually make Dumbledore's death more suspenseful. I remember being initially disappointed at how that was handled, because Snape showed none of the hatred and revulsion that the book said he showed when he killed Dumbledore. However, I love Alan Rickman as Snape (especially after the final film), and one thing I noticed about his portrayal as that he's softer and more subdued than the Snape from the books. I like the fact that you see some reluctance in his character on film; it makes him seem more human. And if you haven't read the books, you can take his expression as cold and heartless, so the enigma is still there.

Like always, the acting in this film is very good. Dan does a very good job in this film, teasing what's to come later. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are great in their roles. Helena Bonham Carter is great as Bellatrix again, and I can't help but find her sexy in this film (same goes for the other ones she's in). Jim Broadbent is wonderful and quirky as Slughorn. There are 4 very notable performances in this film. One is Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy; he's always been excellent as Draco (somewhat underrated because he plays a spiteful character), but here he shows a different, vulnerable side of the character, and he does so perfectly. Next are Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Frank Dillane as Tom Riddle (child and teenager). Hero is Ralph Fiennes nephew (hence the resemblance), and he's completely believable as the child Voldemort. Frank Dillane replace Christian Coulson from Chamber of Secrets (because of his age). While Christian did a very good job, I think Dillane does even better, simply because his evilness is much more subdued, much less obvious, but it's still there. He even has the evil gleam in his eyes that's described in the book. The other performance is Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. While he was good before (great in Order of the Phoenix), he didn't always bring the warmness that the role needed, especially not in Goblet of Fire for a good portion of it. Here, he is Dumbledore straight from the books in almost every aspect.

The film has a great soundtrack from Nicholas Hooper; it's very emotional. The cinematography is great; it has a greenish hue that is reminiscent of the U.S. cover of the book (I really love how the memories are made to look). The visual effects are outstanding, especially in the entire cave sequence near the end (my favorite scene in the film and one of the best in the series).

My main gripe with this film is that it might focus a bit too much on the teen romance aspect. However, that was a part of the book, so it was still important, and it is entertaining (Jessie Cave is hilarious as Lavender). But none of the changes from the book really bothered me this time, not even the absence of Dumbledore's funeral.

I have a newfound appreciation for this film now that the series has been completed, because it serves as a very effective warmup for the last film, and it's very well-directed by David Yates. The ending reminds me of the ending to Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I even upgraded my score to a 90% (though it doesn't necessarily mean I love it more than the first two, which I gave a 80%. I just feel it might be a stronger film).

Back to the Future Part III
½

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS


I finally saw Back to the Future Part 3 for the first time a few days ago (I had seen bits and pieces, but never the full movie). I watched it immediately after watching Part 2, particularly because the story directly follows Part 2. From what I know, this one has mixed reception from fans. Well, I absolutely LOVED Back to the Future Part 3.

At the end of Back to the Future Part 2, Doc Brown got accidentally transported to the year 1885. Basically, Marty has to go to the Doc from 1955 so that he (Marty) can go back to 1985, because Doc from 1985 doesn't want Marty to come get him. But after finding out that Doc gets shot in 1885, Marty decides to go after him to prevent it from happening. That's the basic premise, so I won't summarize any more about the plot.

What really separates this Back to the Future movie from the others is the Western style. I personally dug it. I love how Marty went around calling himself Clint Eastwood. The look of the film (the cinematography) was also very reminiscent of old Westerns. I've always loved how this series manages to combine genres; this film has comedy, sci-fi, Western, and even romance.

The romance part of the story is perhaps what makes this Back to the Future movie special. I know some people don't like Clara, played by Mary Steenbburgen, but I didn't really have much of a problem with her. I like how this story really humanizes the Doc character. In the previous films, he was this kooky mad scientist, but in this one we see him fall in love. Clara obviously doesn't know that he's from the future, and meanwhile he and Marty on planning on going back to 1985, so this creates a dilemma. Not to mention that Doc doesn't want to leave Clara.

Another interesting part of this story is Marty learning to control his temper. Marty has always been somewhat of a hothead, but the second movie added this gag about Marty hating being called "chicken". The gag is pretty funny (though it got kind of old in the second movie). What I like about it in this movie is that Doc (who has seen Marty's future), tells Marty that his temper could cost him his life. This is a great message that ends up helping Marty avoid a car accident near the end of the film. This, combined with Doc and Clara's relationship, as well as the ending of the film where Doc tells Marty and Jennifer that their future isn't written yet, really helped give this movie something Part 2 lacked: heart. That's ultimately what makes me prefer Part 3 to Part 2.

Once again, the acting is very good. The cast will never quite compare to the original film's cast, but overall there isn't really a weak link; Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd are as great as ever. The script is very good. The action sequences, particularly the climactic train sequence, is excellent, and the stakes are high. Also, Alan Silvestri's score is great; I love how it combines the classic Back to the Future theme with Western music as well.

Overall, this film left me completely satisfied. I thought it was a great way to end the series, and it has the same feeling of closure that movies like Return of the Jedi and Toy Story 3 have. Back to the Future Part 3 is my second favorite film in the trilogy, and the Back to the Future Trilogy is now one of my favorite trilogies of all time. Definitely check this out if you haven't seen it.

Back to the Future Part II

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS


I've caught this film on ABC Family over that past few years, but I never really got the full kick out of it because I had never sat down and really watched the original film (I had "watched" it, but I didn't really WATCH it, if you get what I'm saying). I remember thinking I liked this more than the first one, mainly because of the Flying DeLorean and the other futuristic stuff.

Now that I'm older and I've seen all the films, I definitely don't prefer this to the first movie. However, I loved this movie. This movie begins with a re-filmed ending of the first Back to the Future (re-filmed because Claudia Wells, who played Marty's girlfriend Jennifer in the first film, could not return). While there are obvious differences (a new Jennifer, and Michael J. Fox looks older), it's not that noticeable unless you stack them together. In this version, however, Biff sees the flying DeLorean take off, thus immediately affecting the future that Doc, Marty and Jennifer travel to.

I'm not going to give a full synopsis of the plot, but I must say that I loved it. In a nutshell, Marty and Doc go to the future, then go back to 1985. 1985 turns out to be an alternate 1985 because of certain events that happen in 2015, and then Marty and Doc go back to 1955 to prevent those events from happening (while making sure Marty's parents still get together). It's a crazy plot, but the best part about it is that it ALL MAKES SENSE. I loved how convoluted the story was. This film really brought a new dimension to time traveling, showing us all the things that could go wrong. Like the first movie, it makes me believe the situations that the characters are in.

The acting, while not as memorable as in the first film, is still good here, though Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson are sorely missed. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd are still perfect as their characters, though. Elisabeth Shue does fine as Jennifer, and she is cute, though I preferred Claudia Wells as Jennifer based on both her looks and her chemistry with Michael J. Fox. That said, they didn't have much choice and did the best they could do.

The script pokes MANY references at the first film, and to be honest I enjoyed pretty much every one of them, particularly because all of them have a new spin on them. My favorites are when Griff tells Biff to put the second coat of wax on his car, the the hoverboard chase, when he wakes up and sees his mom, and the HILARIOUS scene where Marty goes back to 1985, climbs through what he thinks is his window, and it turns out to be a little girl's room. The girl screams, and the father comes at him with a baseball bat, missing him and breaking everything in his daughter's room. What's also fun about this movie is seeing how the year 2015 is portrayed. What's funny is that the nostalgic cafe, Cafe 80s, really does represent a nostalgic time in many people's lives now, while back then it was poking fun at the present. Seeing as we're in 2011 right now, the movie's version of 2015 is unlikely to happen, but that's what makes it even more fun to watch.

Now, on to the flaws of the movie. Well, considering this film was made with Part 3 planned (they were filmed back-to-back), this isn't really a big flaw, but Back to the Future 2 isn't really a stand-alone film. The first one is obviously a stand-alone film, and I'd even say the 3rd one is, since it has a definite beginning and an end. The main flaw with Part 2, however, is that all of the heart of the first movie is missing. Maybe some of it has to do with the fact that in the first movie, Marty traveled to the 50s, which is an era that people are nostalgic about. Something about him traveling back to a classic era, seeing people dressed in 50s style clothes and hanging out in diners, seeing old movie theaters and classic cars, that gives the first movie a more authentic, more nostalgic feel to it. More importantly is the fact that Marty helped see that his parents got together, while helping his father become a real man. There is no emotional subplot in this film.

My favorite scene is basically the climax, where Marty is in 1955 trying to get the almanac from Biff. Alan Silvestri's score is once again terrific, though. While this movie is no match for the first movie (and doesn't stand on it's own), it's still a solid, very fun ride. Don't be too hesitant to check it out if you haven't seen it.

Back to the Future

SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW


Well, I've always felt that Back to the Future was a classic, even before I ever watched it thoroughly. Michael J. Fox just always seemed classic as Marty McFly, Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown seemed hilariously wacky, and the score by Alan Silvestri has always been incredible. Funny thing is, is feel like I truly watched this movie for the first time yesterday. The reason for that is when movies are on television, I have a harder time watching them for some reason. When I watch them on DVD, however, I feel more inclinced to pay full attention, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, now I truly understand why this movie is so beloved. It easily fits along the ranks of Toy Story as one of the most fun, imaginative movies I've ever seen, particularly because it's premise is equally as fun as seeing toys come to life. (Speaking of Toy Story, there's a line in this film that Toy Story borrowed, and it's "I just don't think I can take that kind of rejection." Nice piece of trivia.) Anyway, the story of this movie is fantastic; I've ALWAYS been fascinated with the concept of time travel in anything, from this to The Terminator to Dragon Ball Z, etc. and I just love how the Time Machine is a DeLorean. All that stuff about the Flux Capacitor and everything is just genius and incredibly creative.

One of the best things about this movie is seeing how the town is different in 1955 than it was in 1985 (much newer, fresher and cleaner). The filmmakers REALLY manage to capture the classic look and feel of the 50s through songs, outfits, movie posters, cinemas, etc. Also, one of the running gags is how characters from the 50s react to Marty McFly, who is obviously different from everyone else; for instance, many characters think that Marty McFly's orange vest jacket is some kind of lifeguard jacket. Also, one of my favorite lines is when Marty says "Whoa, this is heavy," and Doc says something like, "Why do you say heavy? Is there something wrong with the Earth's gravitational pull in the future?" I literally busted out laughing the first time I heard that. The most funny, appealing thing about this story, however, is Marty McFly meeting his parents as teenagers. Most of us try to imagine our parents as teenagers and have a REALLY hard time doing so. In fact, it's almost a scary though sometimes. I'll never forget the scene where Marty realizes that his mom is not only hot, but that she has the hots for him; the scene where she gropes his knee at the dinner table also had me cracking up.

The true heart of this movie is how Marty manages to change the future (present) in the past. Basically, after inadvertently changing history by saving his father's life, he has to change the way his parents fall in love. This is great because it creates high stakes for the story (if his parents don't fall in love, he and his siblings will be erased from existence). One of my favorite scenes in the film is when George McFly stands up to the bully, Biff, when he's trying to rape Lorraine in the car. Seeing that character get a backbone is one of the most satisfying moments in movie history, and it changes everything for the present. What I also love is how Marty manages to save Doc Brown's life by warning him about the terrorists; the way he succeeds in the film is great.

The cast of this movie is VERY strong. Michael J. Fox is so funny and charming as Marty McFly that it's difficult to believe Eric Stoltz was ever cast in the role. Eric would have worked if Back to the Future was a much more serious, dramatic film, but this film is primarily a comedy, so the filmmakers realized they needed someone with better comedic sensibility. Christopher Lloyd is fantastic as the mad scientist Doc Brown; he really makes you believe he IS Doc Brown. Also, Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover are excellent as Marty's parents, and Thomas F. Wilson really sells the character of Biff. Also, while I liked Elisabeth Shue later, Claudia Wells who plays Jennifer in this movie is the hottest one. This is a movie where I truly cannot imagine anyone else playing these characters.

A great cast is nothing without a great script, however. The script of this movie is so witty and hilarious, and there's not a singlel error to be found as far as I can tell. This movie has many classic one-liners such as "Give me a milk...chocolate!" and so on. It's also one of the funniest movies ever made. I cannot count how many times I laughed out loud. I really, REALLY love the humor in this film. The best part about it all is that the film does have emotional weight, and the script excels in that, too. It still keeps it's same clever, witty charm in the heart-filled scenes as well.

The score by Alan Silvestri is easily one of my favorite film scores of all time. The "Back to the Future" theme is so iconic. Every time I hear it I picture Marty McFly racing against time in the DeLorean in the climax of the film (which is probably my favorite scene in the movie other than when George stands up to Biff). It's just so fun and whimsical, yet exhilarating at the same time.

Back to the Future is truly a classic in the same way that movies like "It's A Wonderful Life" and "The Wizard of Oz" are. The ending of this film is very reminiscent of the ending to those, yet it feels completely fresh, original, and completely earned. While it's a comedy, it's full of heart and makes me want to be a better person when I watch it. There's literally not one frame of this film that I don't like, and I've never met a person who doesn't like this movie. If you've never seen this before, make it a first priority to watch it sometime.

Batman Begins
½

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW


Batman is a character who has undergone MANY different changes throughout his existence. I think he started off dark, then throughout the 60s he was played goofily by Adam West (the show was supposed to be goofy), and I think it was the 80s where he started being portrayed as dark again. Tim Burton made his movies, Batman and Batman Returns. Then, there was the EXCELLENT animated series, with Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker. Then, Joel Schumacher continued the series with Batman Forever and the atrocious Batman and Robin. Eight years later, we got a complete reboot with Batman Begins.

This is a REAL Batman movie, guys. I mean, I "like" Burton's Batman, but the issue I have with it is the characterization. In Burton's films, Batman doesn't hesitate to kill anyone. That alone causes me to automatically prefer this movie. Other than Batman the Animated Series and the movie Mask of the Phantasm, I'd say this was the first "real" Batman movie. It presents an excellent origin story, showing us the tragedy Bruce experiences with his parents being gunned down, and then showing him traveling throughout the world developing the ideas that will lead him to fight corruption in Gotham as the Batman.

The story and direction of this movie is great. Christopher Nolan decided to take a more realistic approach for the character (which fits because Batman has no superpowers), and I must say it works really well. The audience is with the character of Bruce Wayne the entire time. The character is very well-written and incredibly well-acted by Christian Bale. You really feel his pain, his anger, and his emotional maturity and growth throughout the course of the film. The real meat of this film lies in the conflict between Bruce and the League of Shadows. Both want to defeat corruption in Gotham, but both go about it in very different ways. Again, seeing Bruce Wayne transform into the Batman is probably the most rewarding aspect of the film, and in some ways that makes it even more enjoyable to watch than The Dark Knight.

Many scenes in this film give me chills. One of the best emotional scenes is when Bruce tosses his gun out into the lake after his parents' murderer is assassinated (Bruce had planned on killing him himself). All of the training scenes with the League of Shadows are also very intense. The scenes that really give me goosebumps are these: when Batman takes down Falcone and his thugs, and then when Gordon and his men see Falcone tied up to the Bat Signal. The music, as well as the fact that Batman actually managed to bring down these criminals, is awe-inspiring. There's actually another moment as well, when Batman leaves Arkham asylum with bats circling all around him.

The score by Hans Zimmer is incredible. Although I'm a fan of the classic Batman theme for the Tim Burton films, Zimmer's score fits this version of Batman to a tee. The music is not only bombastic and intense, it can also be noble and majestic; I really can't describe it. It envelopes the film so well, like many of his other scores do for their respective films.

Now, here is what keeps the film from getting a perfect score for me: the fight scenes and Katie Holmes. The fight scenes cut back and forth too much for no reason, and there's too much shaking. The other action, such as the car chase, is great, however. The biggest problem, however, is Katie Holmes. Her performance is terrible in this film; she doesn't inject any real life or emotion into the character of Rachel Dawes. I like the concept of the character, but Katie Holmes was not the right pick (Maggie did a better job). Her performance especially pales compared to the excellent performances of everyone else, such as Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, etc.

Flaws aside, I LOVE Batman Begins. To be honest, if it weren't for those, I would probably love it more than I love The Dark Knight. There's really very little wrong with this film. Batman Begins is often unfairly overshadowed by The Dark Knight, which IS a great film, but Batman Begins is almost equally as great. It really set the tone for this Batman trilogy, which is set to be concluded with The Dark Knight Rises next summer. Let's hope it goes out with a bang.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK/SEEN THE FILM

Well, here it is, the final installment. Or, the final part of the final installment. Anyway, I'd like to start off saying that the Harry Potter books and movies have been a HUGE part of my life. Not only have I grown up with these characters in the books, I've also grown up with their on-screen counterparts. I used to be an all-out Potter fan. I didn't ever go to the midnight book releases or midnight premieres (wasn't really my choice, though), but I used to constantly be on Harry Potter websites keeping up with news for the next book or next film. I used to replay the trailer to Prisoner of Azkaban constantly before the film was released. I used to completely avoid the internet when the newest Harry Potter book came out so I wouldn't be spoiled; thankfully, I was successful every time. Like many other have said, this is my generation's Star Wars. I'm thankful now that I've gotten to grow up with two classic movie franchises (the other is Toy Story). I'm not counting Lord of the Rings because I wasn't a fan when those movies were new, and I'm not counting Spider-Man because the 3rd was disappointing.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the most perfect finale I could ask for. What it does is basically wrap up the entire series. Everything that the movies has built up to is paid off here. Personally, as much as I loved this film, I think it's stronger when you consider both Deathly Hallows films as one than I do on its own. However, I have to give it a 100% because it's such an wonderful conclusion.

First of all, let me say that once again, the acting is phenomenal. Not only do we get terrific acting from the three main leads (Radcliffe gives his best performance out of all the films), but we also get to see familiar faces from the previous films return, and every one of them does a great job; the standouts are Alan Rickman as Snape and Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom (boy, was he awesome in this film!). I really loved Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, and Bonnie Wright was also great as Ginny (there are some other cast members I'll get to later).

The thing that makes this movie so special is not only that we've grown up with the characters, it's the fact that we've grown up with the actors as well. What I mean is, they've kept the SAME actors throughout the entire series (except Michael Gambon for obvious reasons, but they made it work). I mean, even minor characters such as Seamus Finnegan and Dean Thomas are played by the EXACT same actors, Devon Murray and Alfie Enoch, who played them in the first movie, and even they get great moments here. These actors could have easily been replaced or forgotten, but thankfully they weren't. Also, I heard that Oliver Wood had a brief part in this film during the war; I'm going to have to spot him next time. But anyway, yeah, it's one thing to read about the characters growing up in the books, but to see them actually grow up through the course of 7 films is an experience that even reading the books can't match.

This is a very well-directed movie. The action is phenomenal the entire way through. I really love how they beefed up the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. It might still seem short to some, but it's much better in my opinion than it was in the book, and much longer. It's nice to actually see Harry have to fight to defeat him. The quieter, more emotional scenes are also great, particularly everything with Snape (I think his death was also better in the film than in the book) and the scene where the Harry sees the "ghosts" of his parents, Sirius, Lupin, etc. In my opinion, that is the most emotional, most touching scene out of all the films, as it is in the books; I nearly cried. It was excellently acted, and on a side note, Daniel Radcliffe honestly does bear resemblance to the actors who played his parents. The King's Cross scene was also well done.

Now the moment I'm sure everyone was waiting for was for Ron and Hermione to finally do the nasty. Okay, they don't go that far (at least not on screen), but we get to see them make out in the Chamber of Secrets. It's another scene that is better than in the book for me, and Rupert and Emma have great on-screen chemistry as a couple; all those years of buildup paid off.

I must also add that the epilogue plays out MUCH better in the film than it does in the book. In the book, it felt like a cheesy fanfiction ending. Here, it feels much more natural (maybe its because we don't hear every kid's name; it focuses mainly on Albus Severus Potter). The makeup was overall very good (Dan looks like Bob Saget, and Bonnie Wright looked believably older). It wasn't pitch perfect, but it worked. The best thing about it is that they played the SAME music from the ending of the first film, where Harry says goodbye to Hagrid. Again, it's an emotional sendoff for the characters, and I like the film version MUCH better than I liked it in the book. So, saying that, is the movie better than the book? I haven't read the book in a while, but I do think that many things translated better to film than they did in the book, especially the epilogue. Yet there are details in the book that are left out of the film. One thing is for certain, though: Deathly Hallows the most faithful film in the franchise.

If there are any problems I have, it's the fact that Dumbledore's backstory is not fully explored. I really wished Yates had delved deeper into it. However, it is implied, so it doesn't mean it doesn't exist in the film, it's just that you have to read the book if you want more info. Deathly Hallows Part 2 completes Part 1, and both together undoubtedly make up the best film in the series. Thanks not only to the actors and David Yates, but to Christopher Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell, Steve Kloves, David Heyman, and of course J.K. Rowling. None of this would have been possible without any of you. Thanks for rounding off a great decade of my life.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

NOTE THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW

Oh my goodness. What a magical experience.

Over the past decade, I grew up being a HUGE Harry Potter fan, especially with the second movie. I also read the books, and ever since the 5th one purchased each new release on opening day. My love of all things Harry Potter started to decrease about two years ago (I didn't even see HBP in theaters), and I didn't care as much about the books or the movies. Even this year, my most anticipated movie was Toy Story 3 (which I LOVED), so I was much more focused on that than Deathly Hallows Part I. It wasn't until a few weeks before the movie came out where I really got excited for this movie, simply for nostalgia's sake.

This movie turned out to be GREAT. And not just on Harry Potter standards, but great on FILM standards. I'm not about to give a plot summary, but I'm going to comment on the movies many strengths. All of the young actors who have grown up in the movies are SO great in this; all of them give the best performances of all the movies (and perhaps of their careers), including Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy in the few scenes he's in. In a movie where most of the scenes feature the 3 main actors, it says a lot about their growth that they are able to carry the film, whereas the previous films featured plenty of well-established adult actors. The action in this movie is PHENOMENAL. The Death Eater Chase at the beginning was right out of the book for me (and it actually had some changes that made it better than the books scene, such as Hedwig dying while trying to protect Harry). The coffee shop fight was very well done, and it brought a much different, edgy feel to the series, much like the book did. The score was riveting. Also, Ralph Fiennes really shines as Voldemort here (he was still great in the others, but here he really enters classic villain territory). Same goes for the sadistically sexy Bellatrix Lestrange (played by Helena B. Carter), who will probably scare small children (who shouldn't be watching this one, anyway).

Best of all, however, was the decision to make the book into a two-part film. There is NO WAY this movie would have been nearly this good had the entire book been crammed into one film, as was the case with Goblet of Fire especially. It still managed to be pretty a very good movie, but this movie would've suffered greatly if it had been made otherwise. The film was not only extremely faithful to the book, but it was also a great film on its own. Since it wasn't rushed, time was given to enjoy some of those sorts of moments that previously were only developed fully in the books, like the opening scene with Voldemort. at Malfoy Manor, for instance.

Also, I'd like to note that David Yates has really come into his own as a director. With OOTP and HBP, he did a very good job, but with Deathly Hallows Part I, you feel his mark all over the film (like Cuaron's with PoA). Maybe it's because he has more to work with, but I was shocked by how well he directed it. You can tell he's come to really love directing this franchise, and he's very confident in his skill.

I nearly cried at several points in this movie. When Dobby was speaking his last words, I stifled my tears at the last second, just as they were about to come down; not even Toy Story 3 brought me that close to crying. Also, when Malfoy purposely didn't identify Harry, that was very touching. The Godric's Hollow scene was also very well done, even better than the book because Harry decided not to take the Polyjuice Potion; he wanted to be at his parents' home as himself. What an excellent way to begin the finale to this legendary franchise. 10 out of 10 stars; and that's just for Part 1. I'm sure Part 2 will make this 10 times better.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
½

SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOKS

For a while growing up, I considered Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to be my favorite of the Harry Potter books. I'm not sure if I feel that way now, but I always thought it had a great story. When this movie came out, Potter Fever was at its height (except for now perhaps, with Deathly Hallows Part 2 coming out). Not only was this film coming out, but the BOOK Deathly Hallows was coming out as well (I can't remember which came out first). From the minute the WB logo came up, I could tell this was going to be a very dark, dreary film.

I'm somewhat surprised that that Order of the Phoenix is widely considered to be one of the worst (or THE worst) in the franchise, because I think it's one of the best films in the series. First of all, though I really like Goblet of Fire and I think it was overall true to the spirit of the book, I think this one manages to stay more faithful to the book; this is no small feat because this is the shortest film in the franchise, based on the longest book. That said, a LOT of the book was talking, from what I recall, while Goblet of Fire had plenty of action.

David Yates, who at the time was a newcomer to big-budget, theatrical movies, did a great job, especially taking that into consideration. I like how he brings the shaky cam into certain scenes, yet it's not overused. What I really love as well is how much he understands the story; he really emphasizes Harry's loneliness.

The film contains many great scenes. Even though the Dementor attack in Privet Drive was changed up from the book a bit, I really love the way it was done in this film, because I felt it was genuinely terrifying. The nightmare scenes are very well-directed; they're very disturbing and unsettling to watch. The Occlumency lessons with Snape are chilling and condensed well from the book; they also manage to highlight the hatred these two characters have for each other. Every scene between Harry and Sirius is very well-acted and well-written. Sirius's death, in my opinion, was done justice, and the fight between Dumbledore and Voldemort is classic and showcases some of the best special effects in the series. Last but not least, the "Possession" scene was very well done, even better than the book's version.

Probably the biggest reason I consider this to be one of the best in the series is the acting. The acting in Order of the Phoenix (from everybody) is phenomenal; I think this is the best-acted film in the series, other than Deathly Hallows Part 1. Though I felt Dan Radcliffe did great in all the previous installments (taking his age into account as well), I was always able to pick out some flaw in his performance. In this movie, I cannot find a single thing wrong with his acting. Not one. While Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have less to do this time around, they still do a great job with what they have, and you really feel the love they have for Harry in this film. Michael Gambon's performance here is much improved from his Goblet of Fire performance; not that his acting was bad, but he stays truer to the character of Dumbledore in this film; he truly does come off as the one wizard Voldemort fears. Newcomer Evanna Lynnch is fantastic as Luna Lovegood, who is an awesome character. Matthew Lewis is great as Neville, especially considering he's given more to do. Helena Bonham Carter is very disturbing (and weirdly sexy) as Bellatrix. On a side note, Natalia Tena, though she isn't given much to do, definitely makes a lasting impression as Tonks.

Now, the real acting standout in this movie is Imelda Staunton as Professor Umbridge. Out of all of the books, Umbridge was easily the character I hated the most, perhaps even more than Voldemort, or just as much at least. Imelda Staunton NAILS the part. She has a very sweet, kindly demeanor, a cutesy voice, and wears all pink all the time (which is kind of scary, to be honest). However, underneath all of this, her character is a savage beast. Umbridge is easily one of the best-written characters in the books, and that goes for the films as well. She's honestly pretty intimidating, especially in two scenes (one, where she is having Harry serve detention, and another scene where she literally smacks Harry across the face). Again, Staunton does SUCH a great job with this character.

Nicholas Hooper does a very good job scoring; he's probably my least favorite Harry Potter composer, but that's compared to Patrick Doyle, Alexander Desplat, and of course, John Williams. However, I love how atmospheric his music is; his themes serve more as background music than big, grand, epic themes, so no complaints there.

There are some flaws with the film, however. For one, I do think that Quidditch could have been included just a small bit; they could have left out the "Weasley is Our King" storyline, but still somehow show Harry and George getting banned from Quidditch by Umbridge after fighting with Malfoy. I really wish that scene had made it in somehow. Also, the Cho Chang romance subplot wasn't handled very well. In the book, they break up because Cho can't get over Cedric, in the film, Harry makes the mistake of not listening to her when she tries to tell him she was given Veritaserum to snitch on Dumbledore's Army. It works, but I think it could have been handled better. Also, the CGI on Grawp is inexcusably bad, especially considering how great the Dumbledore/Voldemort battle looks. Finally, the Department of Mysteries battle between Harry and his friends and the Death Eaters is a bit rushed; it was longer and more suspenseful in the book.

Flaws aside, this is still a great entry in the series. I might come to re-evaluate my rating of either this or the first two films, because I feel like I might love those just as much, even though I have those at 80%.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK

Initially, when I saw Goblet of Fire back in 2005, I hadn't read the book in a long time, and I loved the movie so much that I asked to see it a second time, which I did. A year or two later, I reread the book, and I began to like the movie less after seeing how much content was changed/cut. Lately, I've been back and forth on how much I like this film and where it ranks for me in the series. A few months ago I felt that it was one of my favorites. Now, however, I feel it is one of my lesser favorites in the series (along with Half Blood Prince). Does that mean I don't like the film? Certainly not, I like it a lot. Heck, I'm even giving it the same rating I gave the first two films, though those are among my favorites. Those are a high 80%, while this is a low 80%, if that makes any sense at all.

Watching Goblet of Fire as a movie without regarding the book, it's great. In fact, from that aspect, it's probably one of the better films in the series. I'm able to accept that this is the film version of the story and still enjoy it a lot, but whenever I review movies based on books, I can't completely ignore the book just because the film is well-made. I'm not one of those purists who snaps because they got a character's shoe size wrong or anything, but Goblet of Fire is definitely the film that is the most different from it's respective book. It still manages to stay true to the spirit and overall story, but I can't deny that some of the changes/cuts are downright disappointing in this film. I'm a bit mixed, though, as you'll see in my next paragraph.

The pacing of this movie is very fast, perhaps too fast. However, it mostly seems fast and choppy if you've read the book. While I love the book, in my opinion it is really slow for a while. While the Dursley humor is sacrificed, I think the crew picked a great starting point for the movie. The opening scene truly sets the tone, and it is very well done albeit some changes. I did find the Dark Mark scene to be better in the book, but since the character Winky is cut, what they do here is fine.

Really, for a book so big, Newell and co. actually did a great job condensing it into a 2.5 hour film. Many of the cuts are the right ones, though I did kind of miss the House Elf stuff, actually, and I would've liked to have seen Harry fighting the Imperius Curse in his Defense Against the Dark Arts class. I would've liked for Rita Skeeter to be more prominent like she was in the book, but those are the main gripes. The movie overall retains the book's spirit.

Obviously, the most intriguing parts about this film are the action scenes, starting with the First Task. Many fans are upset with how the scene was changed. While I agree that it was a bit silly to make the Dragon chase Harry around the castle, I actually love the scene, because the flying affects look fantastic. Also, you feel the triumph when Harry soars back into the stadium. The Second Task was also very impressive visually and well done. The Third Task also was, in my opinion. Many fans were upset about the changes made to that task as well. While it was fine in the book, I think the changes in the film make sense for a film version. The Graveyard scene, while it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for after reading the book, was still excellently done and is one of the best, most memorable scenes in the series, as it should be.

The acting in the movie is top notch. Dan Radcliffe showed improvement from the other films particularly with the emotional scenes. The adult cast (notably Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes) are great here as usual. Michael Gambon's Dumbledore used to bother me in this, because he's a bit out of character at times, but I've gotten over it. He does a great job in the later films, imo.

Lastly, I'll mention the score by Patrick Doyle. While it's not John Williams, Gobelt of Fire is actually one of my favorite Harry Potter soundtracks, and brings a nice, dark spin on the series' music.

Goblet of Fire might actually be my favorite book of the series. Again, if I was watching this film with complete disregard to the book, I'd probably give it a 90%. However, I have to take the book into account as well, and Goblet of Fire is easily the least faithful of of all 7 films thus far. That, however, doesn't mean that it's not true to the book, but that it takes the most liberties. It's still a really good movie, though, and I can see why it's many people's favorite; it is a very enjoyable to watch. I would say that the first two movies, though I rated them 80%, are 8.5 out of 10 while this is an 8 out of 10.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
½

Before Deathly Hallows Part I, this was my favorite Harry Potter film. Prisoner of Azkaban is an interesting film in that many Potter "purists" hate it, while many non-book readers and film fans think it's the best one. As someone who has been a fan of the books, as well as being a fan of cinema, I have to say that Prisoner of Azkaban is my (now second) favorite Potter movie.

What many purists don't like about this one is that it's not "page-by-page" faithful like the first two movies are. Even though I might have wanted them to include some things, I think that as a film adaptation, this benefits the movie greatly. While I have very fond feelings for the first two, and I appreciate how faithful they are to the source material, in some ways the faithfulness took the place of substance; in other words, they were known more for sticking to the script than generating emotion. With Azkaban, director Alfonso Cuaron definitely makes it priority to have the young actors elevate their performances. Even though not all the acting is perfect (i.e. "HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!"), you still feel more of an emotional connection with the three leads, and this definitely helps since the characters are now teenagers.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a masterfully directed film. There are many great scenes in the film. The opening scene with Aunt Marge is done very well (and Pam Ferris was actually who I had pictured playing the part all along after seeing Matilda). The Quidditch scene is AMAZINGLY well done (as they it is in the first two films). Every scene with the Dementors is haunting and memorable. The scene where Harry and his friends come face to face with Sirius Black is also very well done, especially because Gary Oldman is great as Sirius Black. All the scenes between Harry and Lupin are well-written and well-acted.

This movie changes up the geographic locations a bit from the first two films, where some of the Hogwarts grounds were shot at Leavesden Studios. In this movie, Hogwarts is surrounded by mountains, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to walk down sloping hills to get to Hagrid's hut. While some fans complained about the lack of continuity, this is actually closer to J.K. Rowling's original vision.

Another great thing about this movie is the cinematography. The movie has it's own distinct look, with vibrant hues of blue, grey, etc. The camera movement is also great here, particularly a scene where Harry looks up to see Dementors circling in the air above him. The musical score from John Williams is probably my 2nd favorite score from the series (after the first film's score); Buckbeak's Flight and Window to the Past are the stand-outs.

The only problems I have with this movie are the cheesiness of some scenes like Hermione punching Malfoy; it was a more dramatic moment in the book, though I still like the scene. Also, like I said previously, the acting isn't always perfect from the young leads, but this is the first Harry Potter film that required them to step up their acting, and cosndering that, they did a great job. The good definitely outweighs the bad. This is the first Harry Potter movie, in my opinion, to really take itself seriously as a film. Until Deathly Hallows Part I, I felt that no other Potter film had quite equalled this one.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

First off, I just want to mention that I LOVE this movie. I love it in the same way that people who were kids when E.T. the Extraterrestrial came out love E.T., or the same way a lot of 80s kids love The Goonies. I was taken with my cousins to see it in theaters 9 years ago. I wasn't a fan back then, but my mom bought me the VHS the following year. I wasn't thrilled at first, but the more I watched it during the summer and further into my 4th grade year, the more I began to love it. I started reading the books shortly afterwards.

One reason I really warmed up to this film was the fact that the main heroes, Harry, Ron, and Hermione (who I developed a HUGE crush on) were around my age (a little older, but young enough for me to relate to them). While the three of them have definitely improved as actors since this film, it's incredibly nostalgic for me to see them when they were younger and probably most innocent. Same goes for all the other younger characters (Neville, Seamus, Dean, Fred and George, Draco). Also, there is plenty of fun, particularly with the Quidditch scene and what is probably my favorite scene, the Chess Match.

What also really makes this movie so fun is the basic story. Harry is a hero that all of us root for; he's an outcast, victimized by his aunt, uncle, and cousin, and one day end up being whisked away to the wizarding world by Hagrid, who helps Harry discover what Harry never thought was possible, even in his wildest dreams. While hopefully no one is in Harry's exact situation, his vulnerabilities are what draw many people to the character, both readers and viewers alike.

The main flaw in this movie however, is a common criticism of the Harry Potter films Chris Columbus directed. It should be noted that this film is incredibly faithful to the source material. That is certainly not a bad thing in itself, but the movie is sometimes faithful at the expense of emotion (in other words, while the lines the characters say might be true to the book, the emotional substance isn't as strong). The mystery/adventure aspects of the story are more strongly emphasized. That isn't all bad, though, because the books get more emotion-driven as the story progresses, but it's still something to notice.

That being said, the classic score by John Williams, the fun, whimsical fantasy elements of the story, and the nostalgia really make me love this movie. I always get so HAPPY whenever I watch this movie, especially during the Quidditch scene and during the ending scenes. This movie is incredibly nostalgic for me, and very significant to my childhood.

It's mind-boggling how different this is from Deathly Hallows Part 1. Taking all praises and criticisms into account, I give this one an 80%. Even though I'm not giving this a perfect rating, I consider it to be among my favorite movies of all time. It started one of the greatest movie franchises ever; I don't know if anyone saw the franchise being this successful way back then.

The Karate Kid

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW


Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.

I had caught The Karate Kid on TV a few times in the past, but I'm one of those guys who has a harder time watching movies (particularly those I haven't seen before) when they're on TV, mainly because of the commercial breaks. So even with the parts I saw, I never got the full gist of the movie. However, I always figured this was a classic (I could tell from what I did watch), and when I heard about the remake I was a pretty angry customer (I haven't seen it yet, but I heard it actually isn't that bad). I decided to purchase this on DVD, and BOY is this a good movie. No, it's a GREAT movie.

I don't know where to begin. First of all, I have to praise the acting. Everybody in this movie does a great job. Ralph Macchio (who was actually about 23 when he starred in this film) looks and acts like a 16-year-old, and he does a phenomenal job. In all honesty, I think his performance was Oscar-worthy. His performance is completely natural and not forced, and you feel like you know this guy the moment you see him. What I like about the character is that he's not really complete wimp, but he has a lot of charm and charisma, and he's not afraid to stand up to the Cobra Kai. Speaking of the Cobra Kai, I HATE these guys, and I don't mean that lightly. Even Scar in The Lion King doesn't piss me of as much as these guys do; I have to credit the actors, because I'm sure those guys were nothing like that in real life, so they were great as well. Whoever it is who plays Daniel's mother is perfect; not only does she look like Macchio but she has the same charisma and charm. Elisabeth Shue plays her part very well, and she's by far one of the coolest, most likeable girlfriends in movies. Last but not least is the late Pat Morita's legendary performance as Mr. Miyagi. I haven't seen the remake, but there's NO way Jackie Chan could top (or even equal) this. Miyagi reminds me a lot of Yoda; he has ths mystical, zen-like presence. And the voice Morita used was actually not even his real speaking voice!

The story, obviously, is a typical underdog story. You know from the start of the film that Daniel is going to face Draco Malfoy (I mean Johnny) at the championship match, but the real journey is seeing how they get there. This film connects with me on a personal level, because even though I was (thankfully) never bullied to the extent that Daniel was bullied, I've had to deal with jerks before. The audience feels Daniel's pain after seeing him get shoved around by the Cobra Kai so many times, so much so that we want him to get them back. If there's anything this movie does, it makes you FEEL. This movie has a TREMENDOUS heart, and the foundation of that is the relationship that develops between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi (who has also experienced a lot of pain in his life). What we get is a VERY strong father-son bond, one that developed between the actors as well as the characters. Another thing I must say is that the relationship between Daniel and Alli is so sweet; it's not forced and not about sex, and it doesn't slow the film down. It feels real and natural. I don't know if these two ever dated in real life, but it seems like they would've made a great couple.

Now, this review wouldn't be complete without me mentioning the tournament. Everything about it is great, from the camera work to the crowd; the whole atmosphere is very realistic. It's full of ups and downs, and it's so great seeing Daniel's training pay off. I must say that the final fight in this film between Daniel and Johnny is EASILY one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. Everything, from Bill Conti's score to the intensity of the crowd and the fight makes it such a great scene. Seeing Daniel come back to have the match after he was nearly out for good was such an inspiring moment. What's great about the final fight is that you really don't KNOW if Daniel is going to win (Rocky lost his first fight). When he raises his knee to do the crane kick, I get CHILLS. The look on Macchio's face, the Cobra Kai jeering at him, the crowd cheering and jeering, Miyagi muttering under his breath, and KAPOW! It nearly brings tears of joy to my eyes.

The Karate Kid is not the kid version of Rocky, it's easily on the same caliber. As a matter of fact, I think it's better. It's my favorite sports movie of all time, and even though it has some slight 80s cheese, none of it makes the film even the least bit dated.

If you haven't seen the movie, definitely watch it. It is definitely one of the most inspiring movies I have ever seen.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
½

SPOILERS TO THOSE WHO HAVEN'T SEEN THIS FILM

All right, guys, this is a rewritten review of Return of the Jedi. I'm rewriting my review not because I didn't like my review, but because my opinions on this film have change. I'm very pleased to say that my feelings about this film have improved. Not that I didn't love it before, but I didn't love it on the level of Stars Wars and The Empire Strikes Back (if you haven't read my reviews of those, please check them out). I'm pleased to say that overall, I do love Return of the Jedi on the same level as those two films.

What really makes Return of the Jedi great to me, above all things, is the emotional core storyline between Luke Skywalker and his father, Darth Vader. With the previous film, we were left with a horrified, tramautized Luke. A year has passed since then, and now Luke, who is pretty much a Jedi Knight, has come to terms with the fact that Vader is his father. However, the interesting part is that Luke, who believes strongly that there is still good in his father, tries to convert him back to the Light Side of the Force. What is so great about this story is that as the audience, we have no idea whether Luke will succeed or not. We don't know if Luke will convince Vader to turn back to the Light Side. In fact, we don't even know if Luke himself will remain on the Light Side. This is a storyline that never gets boring; as viewers, we're rooting for Luke to be right and pull Vader to the Light Side of the Force, something we never thought we'd do even after The Empire Strikes Back.

There are many great moments in this film. The earlier stuff with Jabba the Hutt is very entertaining. Seeing Luke finally repay Han for the times he saved his life in the previous two films is satisfying, as is seeing Luke with a new lightsaber. Not to mention Leia's metal bikini, but let's not get off topic. The final scene on Dagobah is great/ I love the entire Space Battle of Endor, and the final battle between Luke and Vader, while it doesn't top the fight in The Empire Strikes Back, is great enough to be my second favorite lightsaber fight in the franchise, especially considering the emotional stakes behind it. The power of that scene is that, rather than wanting Luke to beat Vader like we did in the previous film, we want Vader to finally listen to Luke and turn to the Light Side of the Force, and we also want Luke to avoid the Dark Side. The aftermath of this is also terrific, as Luke, who nearly does turn to the Dark Side along the way, ultimately succeeds in his quest. The scene where he removes Vader's mask actually brings tears to my eyes, as does the scene where he cremates him.

Now we get to the controversial part of this movie, the Ewoks. Many people feel that the Ewoks are too cutesy and that they drag down the film. Personally, I actually really like the Ewoks. I really like the fact that these cute little teddy bear creatures are able to unite with the rebels and bring down the Empire, despite their low-tech weaponry. It's actually very inspiring how they manage to beat the Imperial Forces. That said, even though I like the Ewoks, the film does focus perhaps a little TOO much on them. For that reason, I give this film a 90% instead of a 100%. However, as I said, I still do actually like the Ewoks. I even like their Yub Nub song, which is at the end of the original, non-special edition version of the film. By the way, no way should Sebastian Shaw have been replaced by Hayden Christensen as the ghost of Anakin, but I prefer not to get into that. I actually like the music that plays over the ending in the special editions, though; I honestly like both Yub Nub and that music. Return of the Jedi, like the first two, has one of my favorite movie endings of all time, and it's really a great, triumphant ending for the trilogy (and it should have ended the franchise).

As for the acting, the performances are very good this time around. Aside from the obvious stars, however, I must acknowledge Ian McDiarmand as the Emperor. He brings a very creepy vibe to Star Wars that wasn't present as much in the previous two films, and I really liked that.

The music, obviously, is great. John Williams does a phenomenal job of not only bringing back the charm, adventure, romance, and darkness to the score, but he also brings with it a sense of finality. The music really makes this feel like the final Star Wars film. It says a lot for him, because he could have easily let the soundtracks for all three films be exactly the same; however, like triplets, each of them has their own distinctive flavor.

I still don't think this film is quite on the same level of greatness as the first two; however, it's not far from them at all. This is still one of my favorite movies of all time. Being the weakest out of the three doesn't make it a bad movie. In fact, it's still a great movie. The Star Wars Trilogy is my second favorite trilogy after the Toy Story Trilogy (and Toy Story hasn't been a trilogy for that long, so Star Wars was my favorite not too long ago).

So the bottom line is, this is a great film, and a poignant ending to a spectacular trilogy. Definitely check it out if you haven't seen it, but be sure to start at the top.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Look, I'm not even going to put a spoiler warning on this one, because if you guys are over the age of 5, you pretty much know the big reveal in this film. If you don't know what happens, you're extremely lucky and I highly recommend you stop reading this review and go buy the original Star Wars Trilogy and watch them all in order.

If you've read my Star Wars review (if not, I recommend you check it out), you'll know that I absolutely LOVE the movie. Well, with The Empire Strikes Back, that love is at least 5x stronger. Seriously, this is without a doubt my favorite Star Wars film. It's not to say the original isn't great. What this film manages to do is what any great sequel (T2, Toy Story 2 & 3, The Dark Knight) should do, it makes the previous film seem even BETTER because it gives the story more substance, while simultaneously being a great stand-alone film. The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite sequel of all time (right along with the Toy Story sequels, that is).

The whole atmosphere of this film is incredible. The story is much darker and more intense, yet at the same time it still manages to be lighthearted and funny; in fact I'd say that this is also the funniest Star Wars film, particularly because of characters like Yoda, Han Solo, and Lando Calrissian. "Laugh it up, fuzzball" sends me into hysterics for some strange reason; I don't know why it's so funny but it is. The film also has a running gag of the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive not working, and when it finally does, it is a TREMEMDOUS payoff. There's also the running joke that Han is always saving Luke, and then there's the classic line "I have a bad feeling about this." There is not a boring second in this movie; so much is going on. The best part is that all the great special effects actually serve the story. The Hoth battle is definitely one of my favorite Star Wars battle (second only to the Battle of Yavin); seeing the camera pan up to see the Imperial Walkers still gives me goosebumps.

This movie benefits strongly from characters, something it improves on heavily from the original. While we could relate to these characters in Star Wars, in The Empire Strikes Back they're much more complex. Han and Leia have some real sexual tension in this movie. Meanwhile, Luke, a hero after the end of the first film, is training to become a Jedi, to tell the truth, he's cocky. VERY cocky. Mark Hamill does a great job selling that side of the character, and whenever he and Yoda are on screen together, I never think he's with a Muppet, but rather that two people are acting in a scene together. Yoda takes over from Obi-Wan as the film's philosopher, and while I like Obi-Wan, Yoda is just so much more awesome in this film; I get goosebumps from how he switches from being a silly little creature to being the legendary Jedi Master when Luke first meets him. Dagobah is also such a great setting visually. To think this was done without computers; it looks SO much better than CGI.

The whole Light Side vs. the Dark Side is probably more prominent here than it is in any of the films (Return of the Jedi is arguably second). You just feel the struggle, and what I love about it is it's not simply "Luke is the one to defeat Darth Vader"; it's also "Luke, don't stray down the dark path." Knowing that the hero could convert to the dark side at any moment makes the story much less predictable and effective.

My favorite scene in the entire Star Wars franchise is basically the beginning of the Lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader all the way to the end of the movie. Everything during those last several minutes is PERFECT. The Lightsaber fight is SO intense and dark, and the fact that Luke doesn't come out of it unharmed (both physically and psychologically) is great. I'd give anything to have seen this film back when the internet wasn't around, back when no one had any idea that Vader was Luke's father. I seriously envy anyone who got to have that experience of shock; it was truly the moment that changed the entire franchise, one that likely shifted people's thoughts about what the next Star Wars film was going to be. Everything afterwards, from Leia sensing Luke with the Force and going back to rescue him, to the Millennium Falcon being chased by the Imperial Fleet, to Vader communicating with Luke through the Force, to the very end with Leia, Luke, and the robots looking out into space, is probably my favorite movie ending of all time. It ends on such a dark cliffhanger, yet the end shows that there is hope.

Once again, John Williams' score is FANTASTIC. He doesn't simply rehash the score from the original; all of the classic themes are back with some new themes, most notably the iconic "Imperial March" that is immediately associated with Darth Vader. Another great theme is Yoda's theme, which is very heartwarming and beautiful. Honestly, this is probably my favorite John Williams score.

So there you have it. The Empire Strikes Back is easily my favorite Star Wars film, and I truly believe it is the most masterfully crafted of the bunch. It was directed incredibly well by Irvin Kirschner; I honestly don't think we would have gotten the same film had George Lucas directed it. Easily one of the greatest movies ever made, and one that I'll never tire of watching.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

OK, I know I just put a spoiler warning, but if you haven't seen this movie then what the heck are you doing here? Better yet, why do you have an account on this site? Anyway, my exposure to the original Star Wars came back in 2005, some months before Revenge of the Sith was released. I was 12, and the only Star Wars film I had seen all the way through (I actually own(ed) it) was Episode 2. I was growing to like Episode 2 (at the time, I'll get on to reviewing that "wonderful" film later), but looking at the bonus features on disc 2 one day I was very intrigued when I saw footage of the original Star Wars Trilogy. I had always heard how great they were, but I had never seen them. Well, I think I did see some of them on TV when I was little, but that was too long ago to remember. Eventually, not only because I wanted to see Episode 3 but just because I wanted to see all 3, we rented all three of them at once.

I've felt like a changed person ever since I watched the original Star Wars. To be honest, ever since seeing it, I've never felt a desire to rewatch Episode 2. I know my experience probably came nowhere near seeing it in the cinema back in '77, but I was still blown away. I just wasn't used to seeing that much energy and fun in a big blockbuster movie, especially one that I knew many adults probably loved. I realized why people referred to the originals as classics, this was on a completely different level from Episode 2. Does the film still hold up? Duh.

I'm not doing a recap, but I just love the story of this film. The story of Star Wars is in epic format; we see young farmboy Luke Skywalker embark on a quest to become a Jedi, accompanied by a wise old man and two robots. What I love about Star Wars is that it combines old and new. It combines the futuristic technology with old-fashioned storytelling. I like how everything in the universe is rusty and has wear on it, which was unusual for sci-fi films at the time.

Man, let me just go ahead and mention that opening shot. The opening shot of the imperial Star Destroyer passing overhead for what seems like forever amazes me to this day. What made it more chilling was knowing that it was the bad guys in that huge chip, chasing the rebels who were in the smaller ship. People who make movies really need to observe scenes like this. I know audiences were INSTANTLY grabbed during that scene. What follows after is great too, and I get chills seeing Darth Vader step into view for the first time with that creepy mechanical breathing.

My favorite scene in this movie, and one of my favorite scenes in the entire franchise, is the Battle of Yavin, or the assault on the Death Star. Even when I watch the original theatrical version (I have it on DVD), I'm marveling at how great the effects were for back then; in my opinion, many of them look better than today. I truly envy those who got to watch this in the cinema as kids back when it was new. The effects are great, but what really keeps you hooked is the story. There's so much urgency and danger, and when the X-Wings go down into the trenches is when my heart really starts racing. I LOVE how Luke manages to destroy the Death Star by using his faith in the Force, and I also love Han Solo dropping in to help him get a clear shot (it's such an unexpected, great character development moment). I also love how at the time, Vader doesn't realize that Luke is his son.

Man, another thing I love about this movie is the cast. Sure, many of the lines are corny, but the actors are having so much fun with it. It's interesting that at the time, none of them were taking it that seriously; none of them knew they were starring in an instant classic. But I love the energy the actors all bring to the characters. Mark Hamill (before his car accident, notice the different between him here and in Empire), while whiny as Luke, brings a certain warmth to the character that you can't help but like, and you're following him on his journey to become a Jedi. Han Solo (my personal favorite character), played by Indiana Jones himself, is great as the selfish, witty, cynical Han Solo; I still love how he redeems himself in the end. A young, very attractive Carrie Fisher brings plenty of spunk to Princess Leia, as well as the classic honey bun hairdo. Alec Guinness is excellent as Obi Wan. Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels are hilarious as robots R2D2 and C3PO, and of course James Earl Jones is phenomenal as the voice of Vader (David Prowse is in the suit).

This review wouldn't be legitimate if I didn't comment on the musical score by John Williams. The music in the film is SPELLBINDING, a word I only use for the best of the best. It has everything you want in a film score, mystery, adventure, action, sadness, happiness, darkness. Obviously the opening scroll is classic to this day. One of the best scenes in the film that wouldn't work without the score is the Binary Sunset scene where Luke gazes out at the sunset, wondering what lies ahead of him, literally and in his life. The music emotes his feeling perfectly. Really, Star Wars is the perfect example of how music can benefit film. Another one of my favorites is the Throne Room music at the end. Is there any one who has seen this film who doesn't think of that song when they graduate?

Star Wars is a phenomenal film. I'm thankful I was introduced to it when I was, because it's stuck with me ever since. Many of the lines I know by heart, as well as the scenes themselves. By the way, I'll take this moment to note that the changes Lucas made in his special edition are ridiculous, particarly Greedo shooting first. However, I'm not going to reflect on that, because I have the original film. This is a movie that people are still going to be talking about long after most of us are gone. For some reason today it's cool (mainly for stupid preteens and teens) to hate on Star Wars; I got crap back in middle school for being a Star Wars fan. Today's audiences need to forget about Transformers 2 and watch this in its place.

Cars
Cars(2006)
½

When I first saw Cars in theaters, I actually really loved it. The blooper reel at the end sold it for me. The more recent times I've seen the film, however, it hasn't held up as well. In fact, it is my least favorite Pixar movie (as it is to many people). That being said, I do like it.

When it boils down to it, it has the least interesting story out of all the other 10 Pixar movies, all the way up to Toy Story 3. In every other Pixar movie (including A Bug's Life), I find myself very entertained at and intrigued by the world the character's occupy. However, talking Cars jusn't isn't really that interesting to me; it doesn't have nearly the same appeal as talking toys, for instance.

Another thing is that the main character, Lightning McQueen, is easily the most obnoxious, irritating main character out of any of the Pixar movies (though I suppose he needs to be for the story to work). He's not completely unlikeable, but pretty darn near so. And even when he does change at the end of the film, there's nothing really interesting about him. Also, I like Mater and the other characters, but they don't have the same ring as Pixar's oher supporting characters.

It may sound like I don't like the movie, but that's not true. I do like it, but it's just average. Then again, I'm judging it by Pixar standards too. The basic story is fine, but nothing more or less. What I think really weakens this film is that it DRAGS, and I think much of that is because the characters are all in Route 66 for nearly the whole movie. Nothing is really going on outside of that place. In every other Pixar movie, you've either got characters in different locations with stuff happening (think of Finding Nemo or the Toy Stories) or characters who stay in one place most of the movie with a lot of stuff happening (Monster's, Inc. and Up). The most interesting thing that happens at Route 66 is the tractor chase scene, and that falls way short of other Pixar movies. Well, the stuff with Doc Hudson is all right, too. Also, it's the least funny Pixar movie by a long shot.

On a more positive note, I do really like the racing scenes in the movie. Those are the best scenes in the movie to me, as is the ending. Overall, though, the ending is very predictable. The soundtrack to Cars is also my least favorite of all the Pixar movies (I don't dislike the songs, but I'm not much of a country music fan).

Overall, Cars is a decent movie, but nothing much more. It certainly falls short of the high standard Pixar sets almost every other year, but that may be the worst thing about it. Still, it's not a real failure or anything. One thing to note is that it's by far the most childish of the Pixar films. Most kids love Cars, but they're its main audience, while pretty much all other Pixar movies have many fans of all ages.

Honestly, I must admit that Cars 2 is the first Pixar movie in a LONG time that I haven't been excited about. I'll definitely see it, but I might wait for a rental. If the reviews are really good (around 90-ish or so) then I might check it out in theaters. The preview doesn't really interest me. But I do hope it's really good and that it improves over the original.

The Incredibles

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS


The Incredibles is truly an incredible movie. I couldn't come up with anything more clever than that. So anyway, enough with the bad puns and on to the review.

Obviously, I'm a Pixar fan. I remember seeing The Incredibles as a 12 year old 6 years ago, and at the time I felt it was my least favorite Pixar movie. My pre-pubescent brain just wasn't developed enough to fully appreciate the script or the story, and it just felt so different from all the other Pixar films (at the time it was just Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo) that I didn't really care for it. Now I've come to like the movie more and more the older I've gotten, but now that I'm 18, I must say that this is one of my FAVORITE Pixar movies without a doubt. In fact, it is my favorite superhero film (over Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight) and one of my favorite movies of all time.

If any Pixar movie would translate perfectly to live-action, it has to be The Incredibles. I'm not saying that their others aren't as great as live-action films, I'm just saying that this film really FEELS like a live-action film that happens to be animated. Many things in this movie contribute to this. For one, the voice actors all do an INCREDIBLE job (pun not intended). Craig T. Nelson is excellent as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible. He successfully emotes every aspect of the character, from his warmth to his anger, to dissatisfaction to humor. Holly Hunter also stands out as Helen Parr/Mrs. Incredible; she captures the character perfectly. Then there's the script and the animation. The scene where the two of them argue early in the film is a PERFECT collaboration of the animation, voice acting, and script, resulting in a wonderful, very realistic scene that really helps the audience get to know the characters.

As a 12 year old, I couldn't quite relate to Mr. Incredibles dissatisfaction with his life and his longing for the glory days of superheroes. Now, however, I can definitely relate to that in some ways. However, in the midst of it, you have to stop and look at the great things you already have in your life, and that the true message of this movie that really rings true. The first time I watched it, I also had no idea that Helen suspected Bob was having an affair. This movie handled that plotline very realistically. The movie also shows the two of them flirting, and once again it is a scene that will play better with teens and adults than with young kids.

The screenplay, written by director Brad Bird, is excellent, and in my opinion it should have won the Oscar. It's extremely clever, hilarious, heartfelt, and even dark. Really, that goes for the movie as well. This is without a doubt one of Pixar's funniest movies, if not the funniest. One of the funniest scenes is when a frustrated Bob Parr, after breaking his car window, lifts up the car to throw it and sees a little kid on a tricycle staring at him. Another great moment is when Bob, after having lost plenty of weight, shows up at Edna Mode's mansion feeling good about himself and she says, "My God, you've gotten fat." There are many more great moments that you'll just have to watch the movie to see.

This movie is also not afraid to go dark, something I didn't pick up on at all the first time I saw it. There's the scene where Mr. Incredible, held captive by Syndrome, believes his wife and kids to be dead, and he threatens to break Mirage (Syndrome's assistant) in half. I literally got chills from that scene, and to make it even more chilling, Syndrome, like the best villains, eggs him on to do it. Syndrome is a phenomenal, truly disturbing, incredibly evil villain. He has funny moments, but nothing about his character is funny. He has truly evil motives, and he is never unwilling to kill.

The action scenes in this movie are great. Many of them are reminiscent of James Bond as well as some other superhero movies. The entire opening scene of the movie is a great big action scene that shows us the glory days of the superheroes, and it is a great action scene by any standards. The musical score is also very jazzy, catchy, and also reminiscent of James Bond.

Brad Bird, the film's director, has also directed The Iron Giant and Ratatouille. I love all of these films, but in my opinion, The Incredibles is his best, followed by The Iron Giant. Still, all of them show how great of a storyteller the man is. He has said in the past that "Animation is a medium, not a genre." I couldn't agree more, and all of his movies are proof of that, especially The Incredibles. The Incredibles is not only Pixar's most adult film (even over Up in my opinion), it is a classic that will be treasured for years to come.

NO CAPES!

The Dark Knight

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SLIGHT SPOILERS

Initially, I loved this film. Then, I started getting a little irritated at how some people proclaimed this to be the best movie ever made, and my enjoyment of the film diminished a little (stupid, right?). Even a good friend of mind has started calling the film overrated,and I sort of let him influence my opinion of the film at the time. However, the film has been out for two years now (not very long, but long enough), and after rethinking, I honestly love it. It's not perfect, but it sure as heck is better than a lot of the crap that comes out. What I really love about this film is that Nolan does not go CGI crazy like a lot of directors of today do. The action sequences in this film (particularly the truck chase) are terrific and feel very authentic. I get goosebumps when Batman first arrives on the scene.

One of the most controversial topics of this film is Heath Ledger's performance: is it overpraised or completely deserved? After swaying between the two, I've come to the conclusion that his performance is great. Was the praise increased because of his death? Maybe. But it's still a great performance. I honestly think some people are just angry that people love his performance so much (for no apparent reason), so they shoot it down. Even my friend has done it. But in all honesty, Heath was very believable as an evil, unstable, sadistic Joker in this film, and there was nothing forgettable about his performance. I honestly do think it's just stylish to hate on some things that are very popular.

And honestly, the rest of the performances are top-notch as well. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are awesome, as is Gary Oldman as Gordon. Aaron Eckhart does a very good job as well. And Christian Bale, overall, does a great job. I do agree that the voice is overkill, though. It works when he's angry and trying to intimidate mobsters, but when he's just talking, why the heck does he have to use that voice? He should've stuck with the one from Batman Begins, and I hope Nolan realizes this with The Dark Knight Rises. However, the voice is not enough for me to lower this film from a 100%. I really believe that he's a man experiencing moral dilemmas when I see him on screen in this film.

My favorite scene, along with the truck chase scene, is the interrogation room scene; you can just feel the urgency of the situation and Batman's anger in that scene, and you feel the epic clash between Batman and the Joker. Other than that, the ending is my favorite moment in the film. This movie contains one of the most powerful, emotional endings in film, and it feels like classic Batman, which is an added bonus.

This film is very gutsy and bold, and is very different from other comic book films. It does have a few tiny flaws, but overall is excellent. I know I've called this film overrated in the past, and even if it is, it's still a great film, and I take back all that stuff. I

A Bug's Life
A Bug's Life(1998)
½

Many people consider this to be one of Pixar's weaker films, and I agree (I put it above Cars, though). However, the other Pixar movies (excluding Cars) are AMAZING. Had they not been made, A Bug's Life wouldn't be called one of the weakest. This is still a VERY good movie, very entertaining, and still FAR better than Cars. The story is a bit of a spin on The Seven Samurai, with the grasshoppers oppressing the ants, and Flik having to find "warrior bugs". For me, the warrior bugs are definitely the best part of the movie; they're almost as funny as Andy's toys from the Toy Story films (but not quite as legendary), and the scene where we're first introduced to them (along with PT Flea) is LOL hilarious. I also love the scene where Flik first arrives at the "city," and he sees the mosquito fall out after drinking a "Bloody Mary."

The scene that has me laughing the hardest (I don't know why it's so funny), is when Hopper empties the grain on the 3 grasshoppers don't want to go back to the ants, presumably killing them.

The main flaw of this movie is that it does feel more childish and cartoony than the other Pixar movies (minus Cars), and even though the characters are well-defined, they're definitely more silly than Pixar's other characters. The message isn't as deep as it is in the Toy Stories, The Incredibles, etc.However, if Toy Story put Pixar on the map, A Bug's Life KEPT Pixar on the map. Had it not been for A Bug's Life, Pixar would not have gone on to make classics like Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles (you get the point). A Bug's Life is not quite a classic, but it's not too far from being one. By the way, Hopper is a great villain; in fact, he's one of the best Pixar villains, right up there with Sid from Toy Story and Lotso from Toy Story 3.

So if you either haven't seen this movie, or haven't watched it in a while because people say it's one of Pixar's weakest, give it a chance and watch it. You're bound to be entertained.

The Little Mermaid

I'm assuming most of you know (and if you didn't, you know now) that I'm a huge fan of classic Disney movies. Anything from the 30s through the 90s I consider to be classic Disney. I'm even a fan of more recent Disney efforts such as Lilo and Stitch, The Princess and the Frog, and the latest, Tangled, which marked a very solid return to the Disney fairy tale. The Little Mermaid is a landmark in film history. It managed to officially put the then-sinking Walt Disney Company back on the map for animated films after films such as The Black Cauldron (which I haven't seen) failed at the box office. Not only that, it brought back the richness of classic Disney films such as Pinocchio, Cinderella, and others. In my honest opinion, The Little Mermaid is nothing short of a masterpiece.

I still just can't wrap my head around how Disney was so good back in the 90s; it just boggles my mind. I'm not all that biased by nostalgia either, because I didn't see The Little Mermaid very many times growing up, especially since it seemed to be a more "girly" movie (though I admittedly always had something of a crush on Ariel). I just received an order of The Little Mermaid Platinum Edition that was released in 2006, and my mind was blown. Obviously the colors are all cleaned up and more beautiful than ever, but I was just so into the film itself.

First of all, the animation is some of the best traditional animation I have ever seen. What I love about The Little Mermaid as opposed to later Disney films is that nothing appears to be colored by computer, but rather inked in by hand (if you watch them you'll see what I mean). Not that the others don't look great, but The Little Mermaid really has the look of a Disney film from the 40s or 50s (though I can tell it's more recent), such as Pinocchio or Peter Pan). The animation of everything is so fluid and beautiful; the water, whether we're watching Ariel and Flounder swimming underwater or the waves on the surface, is incredible. All of the characters are animated with weight, and they truly feel real. Once again, the colors of this film are beautiful, and I just LOVE Ariel's red hair (as girly as that makes me sound).

I love the characters in this movie. Some will argue that Ariel is a whiny teenage girl, which may be true to a degree, but I give her more credit than that. She's simply trying to find her way, especially since she's growing into a young woman. She knows what she wants for herself, and unlike previous Disney heroines, she's not lying around waiting for her prince to come to her. And on the plus side, she's hot (don't worry, I'm only 18). I like her father Triton as well; he definitely gives of power and royalty, and despite his faults, it's easy to see that he loves Ariel. I love the side characters, particularly Sebastian the Crab and especially the seagull, Scuttle, who is hilariously clueless. In all honestly, though, I think my favorite character has to be Ursula. Ursula is without a doubt one of the best Disney villains; in fact she is probably top 5 if not top 3. She's just so deliciously evil (that doesn't sound right), and to me she's a mix of Cruella de Vil and Maleficent. Honestly, she even reminds me of The Joker from Batman The Animated Series. She's incredibly well-animated, and is very well-voiced by Pat Caroll, who has this wonderfully unique deep voice that you wouldn't expect a woman to have (and I mean that as a compliment). Her laugh has to be one of the best evil laughs in the history of cinema as well.

Last but certainly not least, I must mention the music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. The music is AMAZING. This movie has some of the best, most memorable Disney songs out there. There's a creepy song with Poor Unfortunate Souls, sung by Ursula, an upbeat, Caribbean-styled song "Under the Sea" (which I believe won an Oscar), a romantic, relaxing, yet funny Caribbean-styled song "Kiss the Girl", and my personal FAVORITE, "Part of Your World". As a male, this song is almost a guilty pleasure of mine, but I'm not ashamed to let anyone know that I love this song. That might be my favorite scene in the movie other than the storm scene. Everything about it is beautiful, from the underwater animation, to Ariel's animation, to the music and the song itself, and especially Jodi Benson's voice. In my opinion, Ariel has the most beautiful voice of any of the Disney heroines, and that's saying a LOT. It just melts my heart every time I hear it. The reprise is also a classic scene.

So obviously, I love The Little Mermaid. I feel it is very deserving of a 100%, not only because it achieves what it sets out to do, but because it is a superbly made, very entertaining film. To compare princess films, I prefer Beauty and the Beast to The Little Mermaid by a slight margin. However, this film is definitely one of the best Disney films, and while films like Tangled reminded me why I love it, Disney still has a little ways to go before it achieves this level of magic again.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW



Super 8 is a movie that I had been pretty excited for (not on the level of past movies such as The Dark Knight and especially Toy Story 3, which both delivered), but still enough to make it one of my most anticipated movies this year. What peaked my interest was the Super Bowl TV spot; it had very mysterious sci-fi music playing, and seeing the kids riding the bikes immediately made me think of E.T. (this was my reaction before seeing other people's on the internet). It was no coincidence that Spielberg was the producer, either, and that J.J. Abrams, who I think of as his protege, the director.

I will have to say that after my very high expectations, the film let me down a bit. Is it bad? No. But is it worth mentioning in the same breath as E.T.? Not quite.

I'll start out with what I LOVED about the movie. Pretty much the entire first half was perfect, when it was simply a coming-of-age story about the kids making their monster movie. Not only was there an emotional backstory with Joe Lamb's (the main character's) mother dying, but there was plenty of 70s, E.T.-style nostalgia. In the first half this movie really DOES feel like a classic Spielberg movie. You have these adolescent kids who are best friends but constantly bickering like plenty of kids that age do, while simultaneously goofing off and having fun with each other. You have the hot "older girl" (played by Elle Fanning, who ironically was younger than just about all of the boys). You have kids communicating with walkie talkies instead of texting, which to me, was just a breath of fresh air from the text-savvy world of today. I mean, I was born much later than the 70s, but I still recognize the nostalgia factor in the film.

Now I just got done saying that I loved the first half of the film. Well, that first half relied largely on the performances by the young actors, who I must say were PHENOMENAL. This is one instance where the movie does live up to E.T. (and maybe even surpasses it). All of the kids' characters are entertaining, and they do such a great job portraying their characters' unique personalities (my favorite was the explosion freak). What's great about them is that they're perfectly natural together, which says a lot because these actors didn't know each other prior to the film, and for most of them it's their first film. Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning were definitely the shining stars of Super 8, though. The two had great chemistry, and their acting really blew me away. I can't decide who was better, so I'll say they were even. Both delivered incredibly well in the emotional scenes. For example, when Joe Lamb and his father had the row, Joel actually produced tears; it was one of the movie's best scenes. Elle also manages to produce tears on two more occasions.

Now for the flaws of the film. For one, the movie becomes kind of disjointed once it switches to the whole "monster" part of the story. You can tell Abrams is still trying to keep the kids' story there, and it is, but it kind of bows down to the monster-part of the story, which is interesting, but not as interesting. Also, the movie focuses a little TOO much on the huge explosions after a while. The early train crash was fantastic, and the gas station attack was great, but it started to get a bit redundant. Also, I think the film did a fine job of showing that Joe Lamb was affected by his mother's death, but it could have shown it just a little more.

I somewhat successfully predicted how the film would end, though I'm not saying it was that predictable, because it wasn't. Some people were turned off by the ending of the film. I actually really liked the overall ending, which was definitely inspired by E.T./Close Encounters. I thought Joe letting go of the locket was pretty powerful, and I felt how hard it was for him to do so.

Overall, Super 8 is not the second coming of E.T., so I wouldn't go into it expecting that. However, it definitely does feel like it was made in the 80s, which is one of the biggest compliments I can bestow. It brings back memories of a time when movies really did just focus on telling heartwarming, original stories. I think more mainstream movies should start following it's marketing campaign. I would definitely like to see it again, as I'm sure my opinion will change some more; in fact, I might even like it better since I won't go in with all those expectations. It's the only film I've seen all year, so I can't say whether or not it's my favorite. However, I certainly enjoyed it.

Shrek
Shrek(2001)

Just like Shrek is a one-of-a-kind character, "Shrek" is truly a one-of-a-kind animated movie. OK, that was corny, I know, but let's get to it.

I was eight years old when I first saw Shrek in the theaters, and just thinking about it takes me back to the good old days when computer animated movies were still fresh (there were just Toy Story, Antz, A Bug's Life, and Toy Story 2 as far as I remember) and new. I remember seeing the previews for Shrek and thinking about how fun it looked. I ended up LOVING the movie, and waiting eagerly for it to come out on DVD.

Fast forward nearly 10 years later (REALLY hard to believe), and Shrek is still as classic as ever, especially considering the lackluster sequels (the second was OK, third was mediocre, haven't seen the fourth). It's very quotable, and plenty of the jokes have more comedic value for adults than kids (and there are some hilarious scenes and jokes. One of my favorite lines is the tic-tac line as well as the brimstone gag).

What makes Shrek a great movie to me is just the style of it; it was the first animated movie to go overboard with the pop-culture songs and references, but the thing is that it was NEW and actually funny with this movie (one reason why I think Shrek should have not had any sequels); it was bound to be the best the first time around. I love all the pop-culture things about this one, from the Smashmouth songs to Matrix references to the obvious making fun of Disney fairy tales. All of it is fresh and funny here, and many non-Pixar animated movies afterwards (including the Shrek sequels) have tried to duplicate this and have come up short).

The animation is beautiful in this film. The characters are very well animated, and the settings are gorgeous. From Shreks swamp to the castle with the lava and everything, it all looks great. The voice acting is also great, and is another example of when picking stars does work. Mike Myers does a great job as Shrek, and obviously Eddie Murphy is hilarious as Donkey, which is good because his live action roles as of late have been horribly unfunny.

You can call me a Pixar fanboy (and I am), but that doesn't mean I hate Dreamworks or that I want their movies to stink. I haven't seen all of their movies (gotta see all of Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs. Aliens, Shrek 4, and Bee Movie). However, I know which ones I really like and which ones I don't. I LOVE this movie and How to Train Your Dragon, so I'm going to give them credit regardless of who made them. Shrek actually does hold a candle to the three Toy Stories in my opinion; in fact it's up there with the best Pixar movies (though it's so different)., and I give it a 10/10 for overall achieving what it's aiming for. It doesn't need to be like Toy Story; it's nice to see something that is different and great at the same time.

WALL-E
WALL-E(2008)

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

Hello, everyone! I've decided to re-write my review for WALL-E, especially since I've JUST bought it on DVD after nearly 3 years. So, here we go....

WALL-E is a great, thoroughly entertaining film. There's so much to love about it. For one, before the film even came out, I was instantly drawn to the character of WALL-E; anybody who doesn't like him deserves a good slap upside the face (not that I'm an advocate of violence). It's already been said many times, but I still must say that WALL-E was certainly an ambitious film in this day and age, as there is very little convential dialogue. WALL-E relies more on atmosphere and visual gags, all of which works great. The story moves along at a very good pace as well. I don't recall feeling bored for a moment with WALL-E.

I love the story of this film. Like some have said, I'll admit that I prefer the first 30-ish minutes of the film to much of the rest (one of my favorite scenes in the movie occurs later, though, which I'll get to shortly), but the rest of the film that takes place mostly in outer space is still very entertaining. The thing that keeps WALL-E on track is that is never loses sight of the main story, which is really the love story between WALL-E and EVE. Like director Andrew Stanton said, the environmental message really serves as an interesting backdrop, but it never gets in the way of the rest. I can't help but love the film for it's almost satirical parallels to the world we live in today (the fat humans in chairs who talk to computer screens all day, for instance, reminds me of how texting-crazy American society has become). One of my favorite scenes in the movie that actual gives me chills is when the Captain (my favorite character after WALL-E) manages to stand up on his feet, shuts of AUTO, and turns the wheel while the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme plays. It's almost patriotic.

What WALL-E really reminds me of, particularly in those first 30 minutes, is a classic animated Disney film. There's just something about it that reminds me of movies like Dumbo, Pinocchio, and Lady and the Tramp (it's the romantic aspect). Heck, it even reminds me of Fantasia sometimes with the music, which by the way is excellently composed by Thomas Newman, who did the score for Finding Nemo and even The Shawshank Redemption if I'm not mistaken. It manages to be eerie, romantic, exciting, wondrous, sad, and humorous all at the same time. Yeah, but there's especially something about my absolute favorite scene in the film, when WALL-E records the "It Only Takes a Moment" song and goes outside staring up at the sky, that really echoes these classic Disney movies. Heck, the entire opening of WALL-E, especially with the song "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" opening in outer space, gives it that classic feeling. I LOVE that.

WALL-E also feels like a classic sci-fi movie. The scene that really stands out to me is when WALL-E discovers the plant; it has that mysterious feel to it, like a scene from E.T. Also, the scene where EVE's ship lands (and the scenes where it takes off and comes back) all feel like classic sci-fi, with the powerful, majestic music that's playing and all.

It's really needless to say, but I've got to credit Pixar for the WONDERFUL animation, Honestly, I don't know if a Pixar film has ever been this beautiful (though they all have different styles; all of them look great in their own way). It still boggles my mind how great they were able to make outer space look, with all the stars and purple gases and stuff. The character designs (especially WALL-E's) are great, and the apocalyptic Earth looks great as well.

There are actually many Pixar movies I prefer to WALL-E, like the Toy Stories, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and UP. However, I still LOVE WALL-E. It helped continue Pixar's winning streak (which is still going, so Cars 2 had better be good), and I'm happy to finally own it in my collection. Both WALL-E and The Dark Knight are my favorites from the year 2008, and both should have been nominated for Best Picture (heck, one of them should've won).

So definitely check out WALL-E if you haven't seen it by now!

Beauty and the Beast

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

No matter whether you're a boy or girl, man or women, you're bound to love this tale that is as old as time.

I think that's my favorite opening line; I came up with that completely on my own. Anyway, I've been reviewing plenty of Disney films lately, in no particular order or anything. So naturally, I was bound to review Beauty and the Beast. First of all, I must say that I did not grow up watching Beauty and the Beast; as a Disney fan, I always knew about it, and I had even read about it in my Disney storybook, but as a boy I never exactly begged my mom to buy me a copy. But I'd heard so many great things about this film, and as someone who is collecting many classic Disney films, I definitely wanted to pick this up. I can gladly say that I LOVE Beauty and the Beast.

There are many things to love about this movie. The story is great and the messages are very powerful and poignant. The theme of the film is that true beauty lies skin deep, something that is definitely true in real life.

The characters in this film are great. Belle is not only among the best Disney heroines, but she is one of the best (and most realistic) Disney characters. Unlike many of her predecessors (Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora), Belle isn't waiting to be swept up by a handsome prince; rather, she is very smart and imaginative and wants more than her "provincial life" where everybody acts like everybody else. She is a bit of an outcast (as is her father). The Beast is also a great character, and the way he changes throughout the film is both profound and believable. The film's villain, Gaston, is probably my most hated Disney villain (other than Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, that is). More than anything, he's just a prick. I mean, some of you might be screaming "SCAR!", but Scar is one of those handful of Disney villains that I can help but love and hate at the same time. The same goes for many of them, such as Ursula, Cruella de Vil, Jafar, and even Lady Tremaine from Cinderella). Some I don't even hate at all, such as Hades (he's hilarious) and Maleficent (she's just so sexy and awesome). Gaston is funny, but I still can't stand him or his little sidekick. As for other characters, the Beast's servants who were turned into household items are also very good characters. They're very entertaining, never annoying. My favorite of them is the candle holder, Lumiere.

Another big strength of the film is the songs by Alan Menken. These songs are among the best, most memorable Disney songs. "Belle" is a great way of introducing us to Belle as well as the townspeople, and the reprise is a purely classic Disney moment. "Something There" is meant to show how both Belle and the Beast are developing unexpected romantic feelings for each other; it perfectly captures the feeling of falling in love (not that I'm experienced), even down to being unsure, or a little fearful of your feelings. "Gaston" is a lot of fun to sing along to, "Beauty and the Beast" is a touching song that accompanies the ballroom sequence. My personal favorite is "Be Our Guest", which is accompanied by some excellent animation; it is definitely one of the most catchy, fun Disney songs, and I DARE you not to get it stuck in your head. Also, the composed background music of the movie is excellent as well, and accompanies the films light and dark, happy and sad moments very well.

Lastly, I must compliment the wonderful animation of this film. There is not a single moment of Beauty and the Beast that does not look great, and the DVD, which is very bright and vibrant, definitely affirms that. My favorite sequence in the film from an animation standpoint is "Be Our Guest", and my other favorite (which happens to be my favorite scene in the film) is the scene where the Beast rescues Belle from the wolves in the snow. In addition, the Beast himself is one of the best-animated characters I have ever seen. The animators managed to capture so much weight, power, and emotion in him, and he moves so fluidly (as does everyone in the film). But from an animation standpoint, the Beast definitely stands out. Finally, the famous ballroom sequence used CGI in its early days, and it looks seamless.

Beauty and the Beast is without a doubt one of the greatest Disney films and a classic. As as matter of fact, I won't hesitate to say that this is one of the best movies ever made, and I'm not clouded by nostalgia because as I said, I didn't see this much growing up. This movie is so magical and touching, and one of my favorite scenes in the film is when Belle comes back to help the Beast near the end, when he's battling Gaston, and the Beast climbs up the roof while they're both reaching for each other's hand. Everything about that scene is beautiful, from the music to the animation to the emotional power of it, since that is the scene where the audience realizes that they are both in love with each other. Beauty and the Beast was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and I must say that it would have been very deserving had it won. This movie has all the depth (and perhaps more) of many live action films (and particularly romances), and is one of the best romantic films out there (this beats Titanic ANY day of the week).

I'm a big fan of Disney's latest film Tangled, which I praised for harking back to the Disney Renaissance, particularly The Little Mermaid, this, and even Aladdin to a degree. It's very easy to see the inspiration of Beauty and the Beast on Tangled (the climactic scene in particular). However, as good as Tangled is, Beauty and the Beast is in a different league entirely. I mean, Tangled isn't too far from it, but Beauty and the Beast is pretty much a flawless film, whereas Tangled has a few minor flaws here and there (particularly the opening song, if you ask me). It's more of a testament to how great Beauty and the Beast is though, rather than Tangled being weaker.

This is likely my favorite Disney "Princess" movie or Disney fairy tale, though I love the others for what they are as well. Definitely check this out, even if you're a guy (as I am), because this is not a girly movie. It's great for both sexes and all ages. I'm proud to say that I love Beauty and the Beast.

Chicken Little

All right, first of all,I first saw this movie about 6 or 5 years ago when I was either 12 or 13. Once was enough.

As a film fan (of both animation and live-action, just films in general), I have what I believe to be very high standards when it comes to films. I generally don't settle for anything below average and say it was good, like a lot of people I know do. Also note that many people love movies, but not everyone is truly a film fan. Some people enjoy any movie, and take what it gives them by several spoonfuls, while others (like myself) aren't necessarily *that* hard to please, but we truly expect something when watching a movie, and if we don't get anything out of it that we want, we don't like the movie. Take Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Most people I know who just like watching movies (any movies) LOVE that movie, and whenever I say I hate it, they act like I'm crazy. But most film fans hate that movie.

Anyway, let's get back to my review of Chicken Little. As someone who grew up on classic Disney (90s and prior). I have very high standards when it comes to Disney films, or I like to think that I do. Among my favorites are The Lion King, Aladdin, Pinocchio, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast to name a few. Obviously, given from the trailers, Chicken Little was going to be NOTHING like those films. I knew that going into it; what I didn't know was how big of a stinking pile of turd this movie was going to be.

Chicken Little is an AWFUL movie. I HATE it. Not only did it disgrace everything that I loved about Disney movies, but it is the worst animated movie I have ever seen. It has absolutely NO story; the entire movie relies on the premise of Chicken Little saying "the sky is falling!" and about how nobody believes him. Pretty much everything that occurs in this movie does NOTHING to advance the story (i.e. Chicken Little playing baseball). The characters are ALL annoying, especially the pig and that ugly duckling from what I can remember (voiced by Joan Cusack, and it pains me to say that because she's Jessie in the Toy Story films).

Also, Chicken Little relies on a stream of pop culture references. Some really good animated movies have done this (Aladdin, Hercules, the first Shrek), but somehow with those they felt inspired, probably because the actual stories and characters had depth. Chicken Little seems to think that because it's CGI (the first non-Pixar Disney film to be CGI) and because it has characters dancing to pop songs that it is automotically a success. But it fails miserably.

The movie is only 81 minutes long but it felt much longer to me when I first saw it. However, Toy Story is about 80 minutes long and it is perfectly-paced (not to long or too short). Honestly, I feel that all 3 Toy Stories are perfectly-paced, but that's another story.

Anyway, I haven't seen Chicken Little in some years, but something tells me that if I hated it at age 13 I'd hate it even more now. At that age I was becoming a skeptical film fan, and I've gotten even more skeptical since then, so I pretty much know I'd hate it. Chicken little gets 0/10 from me. I'm not even giving it a 1/10 for the animation because even the animation isn't great; Toy Story, the first ever fully CGI full-length feature, looks better.

I know that there are parents out there who say that this is just a harmless little movie for the kids, and it is, but there are MUCH better movies you have have your kids watch. Not all movies that have kids as a target audience are mindless drecks; plenty of them are great for all ages to enjoy (Pixar films, countless Disney classics, and even some others). When Chicken Little came out, many people noticed that Disney was steadily dropping in quality with each film they released. Meet the Robinsons was thankfully better than this, but you'll never catch me wanting to watch it. I haven't seen Bolt, so I can't comment, but I heard it was very good. The Princess of the Frog definitely felt like a return to the Disney Renaissance (though it was weaker than most of those films), and Tangled, though it's not perfect, really makes me feel that for the most part, Disney has regained it's stride. What I'm basically saying is, Disney must have realized how bad Chicken Little was, and they decided they didn't want to sink any lower. Actually, much of their recent upturn probably has to do with Pixar's John Lasseter become Disney's Chief Creative Officer in 2006 (I think it was). John not only made Disney scrap their planned version of Toy Story 3 (which sounded awful), he also made then scrap all of the planned Direct-to-Video sequels. In addition, he has had a huge oversight on their films since Meet the Robinsons.

But anyway, the point is, I really can't stand this movie. I can't stand it as entertainment for kids, adults, or anything. So if there are any parents (or future parents) reading this, I advise you to raise your kids on other animated movies and to not even show them this one. Many others, such as the Toy Stories or The Lion King, will have much more of a nostalgic effect on them when they're older, while movies like Chicken Little would likely be forgotten.

Aladdin
Aladdin(1992)

"You ain't never seen a Disney movie like this!" Anyway, I kind of stole that from an already existing review, but that is how I feel about Aladdin. Anyway, I always knew about Aladdin growing up, and I saw it a few times, but I surprisingly didn't see it very much as a kid. So this review isn'r all that biased by nostalgia. My mom got a copy of the film on VHS from Goodwill, and I still might end uo buying the Platinum Edition (ordering it from Amazon or somewhere). But anyway, I've had the opportunity to watch it a few times.

Aladdin is EXTREMELY entertaining. To me, Aladdin feels like classic Disney with a modern twist to it. The story of this movie is great; Aladdin has his faults, but he's very likeable, fun, and is not your typical "boring" protagonist (unlike Mowgli from The Jungle Book, though I love that movie). Despite the comedic elements of it, it is actually quite sad how he and Abu live on the streets having to steal food. Seeing them in this situation makes me really feel for people who really are in their situation in real life. I love how the character of Aladdin has his street smart side, yet he has such a big heart. Abu is probably my favorite Disney sidekick (I don't consider Genie to be a sidekick); he is hilarious in a Donald Duck-kind of way. I also love how the Flying Carpet is given a personality, even without a face or being able to talk. Jasmine is also a very good character; not only is she VERY attractive, but she is one of the Bell/Ariel/Rapunzel type of princesses, one who knows what she wants and is not sitting around waiting for a prince to marry her. She's been sheltered all her life, and she wants to be able to live her own life and make her own decisions. The villains of the movie, Jafar and Iago, are both hilarious as well. Jafar initially seems as though he'd be an intimidating character at the beginning of the film, but he plays mostly for laughs. However, he still seems quite sinister, so I don't really mind that. He's very well voiced. Iago is also quite a character, one who you'll probably want to strangle occasionally.

Now, I feel that the Genie deserves a paragraph of his own. I have quite simply NEVER seen another character like this in any Disney movie, or any other movie period. As all of you probably know, he is voiced by Robin Williams, who gives a TERRIFIC (and I mean TERRIFIC)vocal performance. His character is so off-the-wall and Looney Tunes-esque; he does many celebrity impressions, crossdresses, etc. It is actually a fact that Williams improvised several of his lines (he was given a scene, and would improvise from it). The animation for the Genie is ASTOUNDING. I want to be an animator, so I definitely be watching Aladdin several more times just to study the Genie, because I know that those animators must've worked their brains off animating Genie. His movements are so fluid, and he does so many different things that this is a monumental achievement. Needless to say, Genie is now one of my top 5 Disney characters.

The songs in Aladdin, which Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman (and Tim Rice, I think) worked, are fantastic."One Jump Ahead" is a fun introduction to the character of Aladdin and it is very fast-paced and catchy. "Arabian Nights" serves well as a mysterious opening song. "Prince Ali" is a very fun, outrageous song (my favorite part is "He has 75 golden camels"). My two favorite songs from Aladdin are "A Friend Like Me" and "A Whole New World". I'm not picking a favorite of the two because both are so different, but both are instantly memorable and classic. "A Friend Like Me" reminds me a lot of "I Wanna Be Like You" from The Jungle Book for some reason, except it's possibly better (in terms of animation and whatnot). "A Whole New World" is incredibly romantic and beautiful.

The animation of Aladdin is also brilliant. This movie reminds me about how much I love classic hand-drawn animation (even though I'm also a fan of computer animation). The best acene in the film (in my opinion) from an animation standpoint as well as a film standpoint is when Aladdin and Abu enter the Cave of Wonders and when they escape from it. That scene has as much sense of adventure and excitement as Raiders of the Lost Ark (which is HUGE praise in my book).

I really, REALLY love Aladdin, and I know I would have loved it more as a kid if I had seen it as much as I had other Disney movies. Aladdin is one of my favorite films from the Disney Renaissance (for me it might be second to The Lion King), though I love almost all of the Disney Renaissance films, even most of the later ones.

Aladdin is a must-see for ALL ages, because if I failed to mention it before, it has plenty of snappy, clever humor that will go right over the heads of kids. Either this or Hercules is the funniest Disney movie ever made.

Tangled
Tangled(2010)
½

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

When I first heard about Tangled (then called Rapunzel), a few years before The Princess and the Frog came out (so probably in about 2007). I was happy that Disney was returning to its roots with a fairy tale, and since I ended up really liking The Princess and the Frog I was pretty eager for this one, though I didn't see it in theaters. However, I bought the DVD before seeing it after seeing the buzz for this film, and I can gladly say I don't regret it one bit.

Tangled manages to return to the classic feeling of the Disney films from the Disney Renaissance such as Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin (a bit), while also offering a new flavor of its own. In other words, while you can tell the film looked to those other films for inspiration, it does not spend its time trying to be a copy of those, which I like. Even though Tangled is computer animated, the character designs, animation, and backgrounds all make it feel somewhat like it's hand drawn (and the animation is GORGEOUS by the way).

First of all, the story has the classic Disney flavor, and even echoes The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Rapunzel's "mother" Mother Gothel tells her to stay in the tower where she will be safe from the evils of the world, though she is using her for her own selfish reasons). The premise of the story is told very well in the opening prologue. The story's pacing is also very good, never to slow or too fast. The characters in this film are also appealing. Rapunzel fits right in with the other Disney heroines such as Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Tiana, Mulan, etc.; she even has an action hero edginess about her that I dug like crazy (note that her hair is an important part of that). Flynn Rider is a very good character, very charming and funny. What I loved the most about his character is when he shows who he really is, revealing that what he does is all just and act and that he's not really being himself. The two animal sidekicks, Maximus and Pascal, are both VERY entertaining (Maximus is my favorite). Maximus is like an over-zealous hunting dog, while Pascal acts as a living thermometer (hence the name). Mother Gothel was both creepy and sexy. Initially, I said that I wouldn't group her with the best Disney villains, but now I think I would. Her song is creepy enough, and her motives are simple but very selfish and evil at the same time. She is easily a better villain than Gaston, and she might be at least on par with Jafar.

Tangled also contains many great Indiana Jones-esque action scenes that should appeal to the male demographic. There is an incredibly B.A. moment where Rapunzel uses her hair as a swinging rope to get away from the guards who are after her and Flynn. Another great one is when Maximus leaps off the the castle roof, with Flynn on his back.

I will also say that the climax of this film (I won't spoil it here) has a very Beauty and the Beast-esque ending that I LOVED.

What keeps me from giving Tangled a 100% are the songs. They aren't as memorable as other Disney offerings. I'm not really a fan of the song "When Will My Life Begin" that plays at the beginning; it just sounds a bit TOO teenage girl-ish too me. I did like "I've Got a Dream", but it doesn't have that classic feel. And while "I See the Light" is the film's best song by a mile, it doesn't quite reach the heights of other Disney songs, though it does sort of have a classic feel to it. ([EDIT]Actually on second thought I think "I See the Light" might be right up there with the best Disney songs. It's hard for me not to love that one.)

I do, however, LOVE the reprise of "When Will My Life Begin" when Rapunzel leaves the tower for the first time. It's a very emotionally high moment, that whole moment just screams classic Disney to me. Which leads me to saying how awesome of a job Mandy Moore did it in this movie; both her acting and singing were phenomenal. Zachary Levi also did a great job acting for Flynn/Eugene (I don't know if he sang the parts).

SO once again, Tangled is definitely worth a watch for anyone who is a Disney fan. If you grew up with any of the old fairy tales or whatnot, you'll probably dig this. Overall it's very good, and one of the best movies from 2010 (though in terms of animated films, both Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon outdo it for me, though they're all very different films).

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
½

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

I recently said in my Mulan review that Mulan is the most underrated film of the Disney Renaissance, which spanned from 1989-99 from The Little Mermaid to Tarzan. I think I might have to retract that statement a bit. I haven't seen all of Pocahontas, so I can't comment on that (though I'm very fond of what I have seen), but I've seen all of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and I think that it may deserve the award for the most underrated Disney film EVER.

The thing that people instantly notice about this film is that it does not feel like a Disney movie at ALL. That is part of the reason why it doesn't have as many fans as others. The film is based on the Gothic novel by Victor Hugo, written centuries ago (I actually have read it), and while this movie uses "Disneyfication" to make the story more presentable to kids, it retains the novel's Gothic atmosphere. Personally, I actually prefer this film to the original novel (take that, purists!). This is definitely the darkest Disney movie I have seen thus far (haven't seen The Black Cauldron, but since this is more based in reality I'd probably still say this).

This movie has such a grand, cinematic feel right from the get-go. Alan Menken's orchestral score is incredibly powerful, combined with the BREATHTAKING animation (the best I've seen in any Disney film, along with others such as Pocahontas and The Lion King). The cinematography is terrific; the camera angles are awe-inspiring.

The biggest strength of this film has to be the characters. Quasimodo is instantly sympathetic and lovable, Phoebus is cocky but likeable, and Esmerelda is beautiful and very kind-hearted. The most intriguing character, however, is easily Judge Claude Frollo, the villain. When I was a kid, Frollo scared the BLEEP out of me, and I NEVER wanted to watched this movie because of him; I could put up with Scar, Ursula, Cruella, the Queen from Snow White, you name it, but NOT Frollo (I also couldn't watch Maleficent either). The scariest thing about Frollo is that everything about him is realistic, from his character animation and voice right down to his motives. He is pretty much the Disney equivalent of Adolf Hitler, and he actually believes he is doing the right thing in his quest to exterminate gypsies. He is also very creepy, particularly in that he lusts for Esmerelda while still believing her to be a witch. Frollo is not just one of the most intriguing Disney villains, he is one of the greatest MOVIE villains of all time (animated or not).

The music in this film isn't classic like other Disney films (not like Under the Sea, Part of Your World, When You Wish Upon a Star, A Whole New World, etc.), at least not in the same way. The songs in this movie are way more serious (except for one which I do NOT like, "Guy Like You"), such as "Out There" (which is pretty classic, actually), and "Hellfire" (the darkest Disney song ever, classic, but not something you'll want to be singing anytime soon). "God Help the Outcasts" is also very atypical for a Disney film.

The most appealing thing about this film to me, is that it is the story of how Quasimodo, who has been raised up believing the lies of his master, Frollo, ends up conquering Frollo and learning about life's beauty rather than just its evil. The scene in this film that gives me the most goosebumps (and there are MANY scenes that do), is the scene when Quasimodo breaks free of the chains causing the bells of Notre Dame to vibrate, and when he rescues Esmerelda, takes her to the top of the building, and screams "Sanctuary!" That scene is even more chilling knowing that Frollo murdered Quasimodo's mother while she was trying to get sanctuary 20 years ago.

Why don't I give this film a 100% rating? You've probably guessed correctly: it's the gargoyles. It's not so much the gargoyles themselves, as I can accept that Quasimodo imagines them to be alive. It's mainly that dang song "Guy Like You" that doesn't fit in with the rest of the movie at ALL. This movie has humorous parts that work, but with this song it's as if the filmmakers were afraid of how different this film was from the others that they decided to try to make it more like "Aladdin" or "Hercules" (which came out the next year). It's not even a good song in the first place.

Oh, just for a moment, can I mention how SEXY Esmerelda is? I mean dang, I know it's a cartoon, but seeing her dancing makes me seriously go "Am I really watching a Disney movie?" The only other Disney heroine as sexy as her is probably Pocahontas.

This is a great, albeit not perfect film that probably gets overlooked because it's so different from other Disney movies. Had it been made by any other studio I feel like it would receive much more praise. When we think Disney, we like to think of films like The Lion King (my personal favorite), Aladdin, Pinocchio, The Jungle Book, etc. (all films that are light-hearted with dark edges sprinkled throughout). "Hunchback" is different in that it has a primarily ominous tone with lightness throughout, though unlike the novel this (thankfully) has a happy ending.

Definitely check it out, but if you're a parent of small kids, I'd hold off letting them see this one for a while, despite its G-rating.

Toy Story
Toy Story(1995)

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Have any of you ever watched a movie where you can find nothing, absolutely NOTHING wrong with it? That's how I feel about all three Toy Story movies, but especially with this one. I feel that way about some other movies, too, such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Lion King, Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc., but this is Toy Story I'm talking about right now.

I decided to write another review for this film because I didn't feel that my old review really conveyed my hardcore passion for this film. Like many kids born in the later 80s-early to mid 90s, Toy Story was a HUGE part of my childhood. This was the first movie I ever saw at a theater, when I was just two years old; amazingly I still remember some of that. Toy Story is so great in that it not only provokes serious nostalgia in me, but it's also TEN times better now that I'm older.

Everything about Toy Story is so much better now. The dialogue is so clever and hilarious, the theme of the story hits home harder than ever, the characters are ALL very entertaining and fun. Each of Andy's toys is more a less a version of someone we all know in real life, and I think I share personality traits of all of them to a certain degree. The story is so simple but incredibly well-structured. Though I love the classic Disney movies, Toy Story brought about a much-welcomed changed by not having a fairy tale villain (or anything remotely like the other Disney films).

There is not a single boring frame in this film. Everything is fun from beginning to end, and I always feel like I'm with the characters in this movie. One of my favorite movie scenes of all time (among many in this movie) is the rocket chase at the end. While there is a sense of urgency and danger, it's all so much fun to watch. What I love about Toy Story is the real world it's set in; it's really the world as we know it, except that the toys come to life.

Toy Story is also endlessly quotable. I know every line to this film, and some of my favorites include "I just lit a rocket...rockets explode!", "Don't talk to me about importance! Because of you the security of the entire universe is in jeopardy!", "To infinity and beyond!" and of course, my favorite line, "This isn't flying! This is falling...with style!"

I'm a guy who cannot make an ordered list of his favorite movies of all time. I simply can't do it and I don't want to. However, I really feel that Toy Story is my FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME. It's practically perfect, and I never get tired of it. I always come away from Toy Story (any of the 3) wanting to be a better person. This movie is a classic up there with the likes of Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders, It's a Wonderful Life, etc. It is Pixar's greatest film to date, tied with the other two.

Mulan
Mulan(1998)

In my opinion, Mulan is the most underrated film of the Disney Renaissance, which spanned from 1989 to 1999 (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, this, and Tarzan).

Yes, that is how I feel at this moment. Mulan was, as far as I can recall, the second movie I ever saw at the cinema (after Toy Story, and I can't remember whether or not I saw The Rugrats Movie in theaters). So, needless to say, I have nostalgia for this film. As a lifelong Disney fan, there are MANY great things about this film.

Mulan joins Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, and perhaps Pocahontas, as a 90s Disney heroine, and I'll be honest, she is my favorite of them all, even over Tiana (I haven't seen Tangled yet). What Mulan has in common with them is that she knows clearly what she wants, and that she is unhappy with where she is in her life. I must say that also like all the others, Mulan is very beautiful (random, I know). I love Mulan's desire to be herself, and also to save her father, even if it means dishonoring her family. The other characters in this film are very good and entertaining as well; I LOVE Mushu, who is hilariously well-voiced by Eddie Murphy, the Three Stooges-like soldiers whose names I can't recall (except for the big one, Chien Po), and Sheng. I also really like the Huns as the villains in this movie, especially the main one. He is VERY intimidating; I remember getting chills seeing him in theaters in 1998 when I was just 5.

The animation in this film is gorgeous. Everything moves very fluidly and with weight, and the backgrounds are beautiful. I also love how the design is inspired by Chinese artwork, with the way the explosions "curl" up and stuff. This movie has some very good action scenes as well, the best beeing the avalanche scene and then the climax.

The songs in this movie are fantastic. "A Girl We're Fighting For" works on a humorous level, serving as comic relief, while "Reflection" is beautifully sung and very emotional, and "Be a Man" is as inspiring as "Gonna Fly Now" from the Rocky movies.

There's really nothing bad I can say about Mulan, I initially felt that it didn't hold up, but after rewatching I was definitely wrong. This movie is fantastic, and is every bit as awesome as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King among others, though The Lion King is my all time favorite Disney animated film (not including Pixar). It has a pretty large fanbase, but is still underrated because it is often referred to as one of the "weaker" films of the Disney Renaissance (which I completely disagree with).

I'll have to pick up the DVD of this wonderful movie soon.

Inception
Inception(2010)

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

All right everyone, I've decided to re-write my Inception review because I feel that I have a MUCH better grasp on the movie than I did when I first saw in in theaters. Before I first saw the movie, I had heard (from all these reviews, etc.) about how "confusing" and "mind-blowing" it all was that when I finally saw it, I was so focused on trying to understand it that I think I might have tried TOO hard. That being said, after seeing this movie, I knew I would want to see it again, and I spent the next few months giving it some hard thought and even reading up on it occasionally. It truly was like no movie I had ever seen.

Now, I have the movie on DVD; my understanding has increased tremendously, and I can honestly say that Inception is one of my FAVORITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME. In fact, it's really not THAT confusing, just complex. Lots of information is being presented to the audience at rapid speed about the whole process of shared dreaming, and once you understand it, it's really neat. This movie has a great, interesting spin on the world of dreams.

That being said, what really makes the movie great (and what makes me prefer it to The Matrix, which I also love) is the core emotional storyline about Cobb and his wife. The great thing about this film is that the villain of this film is really Cobb himself, manifested in the form of his dead wife. The movie is really about Cobb's mental struggle of forgiving himself over his wife's death, and it's a very emotional, cleverly developed storyline. This movie also ends on an EXTREMELY satisfying note. The ending to this film is one of my favorite movie endings of all time, up there with The Empire Strikes Back, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Toy Story 3, and Monster's Inc. to name a few. It has this incredible, triumphant feel to it, and personally, I believe the top falls at the end. The point of the scene is that Cobb is so happy to be with his kids that he doesn't care whether it's a dream or reality, but I like to think it's reality; to me it's much more satisying that way.

One criticism of the film is the the other characters aren't developed enough. I can understand this, but if the film wasn't mainly Cobb's story (in a sense it's also Robert Fischer's), the film would be too overloaded. The other characters serve mainly as roleplayers, my favorite of the bunch being Arthur (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). The guy is a very natural actor who I'd love to see in more great films. All of the actors are great. Leo is excellent (much improved from his Titanic days), Tom Hardy is great, Ellen Page is great, Marion Cotillard is great (and pretty sexy, too), and so on.

The visual effects of this movie are fantastic; one of the things I love about Nolan is that he is very old-school when it comes to filmmaking techniques; the guy loves to use real locations and real effects for his films. In the rotating hallway scene (one of my FAVORITE movie scenes of ALL TIME), it was actually a rotating hallway, and JGL did his own stunts (another bonus). It's real movie magic.

Lastly, I'll mention Hans Zimmer's score. The score to Inception (much like Hans Zimmer's other scores but more so) is VERY atmospheric (it meshes together perfectly with the film). It is also going to be INSTANTLY recognizable years from now (BRRRRHHHMMMM BRRRHHHHMMMMM!!!). It needs to win the Oscar for best score for sure.

You can't call me a Nolan fanboy (yet). Even though I'm a fan of his Batman movies, this and those are the his only films I've seen. Inception and The Dark Knight are completely different films, and it's unfair to really compare them. Personally, though, I prefer Inception, and I think it just might be the pinnacle of his achievements (though I need to see his other films). I really hope that he keeps up the great work with The Dark Knight Rises, and keeps making more great films. If he keeps on this route, he maybe overtake Spielberg as my favorite director.

Inception is currently tied with Toy Story 3 for my favorite film of 2010 (though there are many more I have yet to see and judge). It had better at least get a Best Picture nomination and the Oscars, and Nolan had better get nom'd for Best Director, or I'm not watching them at ALL.

UPDATE: As we all have long known by now, Nolan was NOT nominated for Best Director, and true to my word, I did NOT watch the Oscars.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Three years ago in 2008 as a young, rising film buff, I spent my 40-something dollars I had saved up on the entire Indiana Jones trilogy, not only because they were Spielberg/Lucas films and I had heard so many great things about them, but because there was a fourth one coming out later in the year. I had never seen them before, and fortunately I loved them all (with Raiders being my favorite, Crusade second, and Temple third. Indy 4 came out the day after my last day of 9th grade, and it was my most anticipated film of 2008 at the time, over even The Dark Knight. Was I satisfied? No. The film left me feeling very empty snd blank. I didn't really follow the story like I followed the other three, and I had a few gripes (aliens, too much CGI). Now, it has been nearly 3 years, and I'm two months from graduating high school. I've had U.S. History, so I've learned more about commies and aliens. Last week, I ordered the movie for a cheaper price online to add to my collection and to see it again for the first time in 3 years.

This time around, I LOVED it. For the most part, it had the proper look and feel of an Indiana Jones movie, more than I remembered.

Here are the positives: Harrison Ford. Once again he is great at playing the title role, and despite his age he fits right into it again. I also really liked Shia LaBeouf, and personally (since we all know Mutt is Indy's son), I think Shia LaBeouf bears somewhat of a resemblance to Harrison Ford, just with softer features; I found them believable as father and son. Having Karen Allen back was great, and I also enjoyed Blanchett as Irina Spalko; she wasn't really intimidating, but she was both creepy and sexy at the same time. I also liked the suspicion behind Mac's loyalties; it added to that Cold War atmosphere the movie had.

Also, the movie starts off great. The mystery behind the magnetic container is great, as well as Indy's escape afterward. And hate me for it, but here it goes: I LOVE the infamous "Nuke the fridge" scene. It's ridiculous and implausible, but it's Indiana Jones; I actually felt there was a real sense of danger during that scene. I also really like the plot of how Indy gets sacked due to the paranoia about Communism (taking U.S. History last year helped me appreciate all this so much more). Things are also great when Indy meets Mutt (I love Indy's line in the diner "You just brought a knife to a gunfight), as the FBI agents pull out their guns. Classic. And the greasers vs. preps scene and the motorcycle chase, all great stuff. The movie is great when Mutt and Indy are searching for the crystal skull.

Where this movie takes a real dip in quality is the chase through the Amazon. That scene starts off looking really good, but then it turns into a big video game because of the stupidity and all the CGI, not only does it not compare with any of the big action moments in the previous 3 films, it's already not great on its own. I don't even have to mention the "Tarzan" scene. Truthfully, though, I think the movie fixes its problems after this with the fire ant scene, and even the waterfall scene doesn't bother me like it does others. And the climax is great, especially because we get to see old sparks fly between Marion and Indy.

All in all, this is actually a very good movie, and I think the IMMENSE hate on it is astounding. It did use a bit too much CGI, I'll admit. Otherwise, it was very good, and definitely better than the Star Wars prequels (though I like Ep. III).
Had the jungle chase been better, I would have given this a 9 out of 10 most likely.

I realize that many people hate that there are aliens in this movie. Initially, I felt the same way, but seeing this again I really dug that sci-fi/archaelogy element to this film. People say Indy and sci-fi don't mix; I disagree. I'm a Christian, so I believe in both the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, but this story is no more implausible than those, nor are any of the characters. Indiana Jones was NEVER a realisitic series, people; it always had a comic book-style to it. Don't let childhood memories cloud your sense of realism.

Lastly, what I ultimately really loved about this movie was the emotional story in the background. Indy is still in pain over the death of his father and Marcus Brody. In the end, he finds he has a son and settle down and marries his true love.

Honestly, despite the flaws, this might be my third favorite Indy movie, ahead of Temple of Doom (though I haven't watched that one in a while). Props to Spielberg AND Lucas (that's right) for not ruining Indiana Jones; that being said, I hope this is the last one. Really, Indy being married should mean the last of his adventures to me. So yeah, I think this movie is unfairly hated and VERY underrated.

Thanks for reading!

The Bourne Ultimatum

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

All right, I finished rewatching The Bourne Ultimatum a while ago, and I have to change something from my review of The Bourne Supremacy; The Bourne Ultimatum is WITHOUT A DOUBT my favorite of the series. Its title couldn't be more fitting, because it really feels like the ultimatum.

I'll go ahead and be honest; this movie wouldn't work nearly as well if it weren't for the first two. I mean, it's awesome on it's own, but it's not stand-alone like Toy Story 2 or 3 among other great sequels. You really need to watch this entire trilogy in chronological order to fully appreciate this film. That's not a criticism, though. If you have watched the first two films, then Ultimatum is the home stretch; it's the one where all the mystery is unravelled.

There is SO much to love about this film. For one, Ultimatum boasts the BEST action in the ENTIRE series, which is saying a lot. From the chase at the Waterloo train station to the Tangier chase and Bourne vs. Desh, all of these boast high points for action in the series. They are incredibly thrilling. The action is better-choreographed this time around, and even with the shaky cam it isn't hard to follow; in fact, I actually think the shaky cam enhances these action scenes. The only action scene that doesn't outdo one from the previous films in this is the car chase (The Bourne Supremacy wins for that, hands down).

The other great thing about this movie is that even the non-action sequences are very intense. Scenes from phone calls to meetings are intense simply because you know EVERY detail is crucial to the story. I can't think of a single boring scene in this film.

Of course, the acting is as great as ever. Matt Damon is consistent throughout the entire series, and this is the film where Bourne is really out to put an end to all the problems. Julia Stiles does well with what she is given (she gets more screentime in this film), and I love how it is hinted that she and David Webb had previously been in a romantic relationship. Joan Allen is once again great as Pamela Landy; she really brings a sexy toughness to the role.

This entire movie has a really urgent feel to it, as though it's a ticking clock. This series has shown that it isn't afraid to kill characters off, so you can't assume that anyone is safe from death, not even Bourne himself. The music is again great at intenstifying scenes.

We eventually discover that David Webb, a Captain in the army, volunteered for the program, having been told that he would be "saving American lives," which turned out to be a lie. This movie is ultimately about confronting the demons of your past and using them to right your wrongs (if that makes sense). The ending of this film is perfect, as well (I'll just say it involves water).

The Bourne Ultimatum is one of the best "3rd movies" ever made, alongside Return of the King and Toy Story 3 (Return of the Jedi is very good, just not as great as the first two Star Wars movies). Great finale to one of the best trilogies ever made.

The Bourne Supremacy

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

If you haven't read my review of The Bourne Identity, you might want to check that out.

Anyway, this film is the direct sequel to The Bourne Identity. WE catch up with Bourne and Marie 2 years later, both living anonymous in Goa India. Bourne is troubled by flashbacks of his first assignment that aren't quite clear. Once an assassin comes to track down Bourne and kills Marie instead of Bourne, things go into hyperdrive from there (This film's tagline is "They should have left him alone." Just awesome). While Bourne is out for revenge, the CIA is hunting him down, believing him to be responsible for two murders that occurred when two of their agents were trying to uncover some files about money stolen 7 years earlier.

I just want to say that I think (I'm not completely sure because I haven't seen these movies very many times) that this might be my favorite of the Bourne movies. This is generally the one people list as their least favorite, but I think of all of them this one had the biggest emotional punch for me. In this movie, I felt even more connected with Bourne than before, and I really felt his troubles. Ultimately this is a movie about forgiving yourself for horrible things you've done and making amends, something I can certainly relate to (albeit thankfully on a much smaller scale). When Bourne realizes that he murdered a Russian politician and his wife, leaving their daughter orphaned (it had been covered up as a murder/suicide), he decides to find the daughter and tell her the truth. The scene where he does was someting I did not expect at all; the tears almost started flowing. I'm sure many people, myself included, would love the opportunity to apologize just like that for even the little things they've done, however hard it would be.

In this movie, I really got a sense of Bourne's loneliness. Not only does he still not know fully who he is, but he doesn't have Marie any more. Many people criticize this movie for killing her off; while I love the interactions their characters shared and was genuinely hurt when she was killed, I thought this was the emotional catalyst that set of the film, and the movie wouldn't have worked as well had she not died. Besides, even though Franka Potente was a great part of the cast, I love the addition of Joan Allen as Pamela Landy in this film, who obviously is a much different character from Marie. She really gives off this strong, cool, intimidating vibe that fits the series really well. And Matt Damon is obviously excellent again as Jason Bourne, especially since this one requires even more from him as an actor. I really liked the scenes with Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons, too.

Plenty of people criticize this movie for its use of the shaky cam. Not only does this movie use shaky cam for action scenes, it uses it for closeups every now and then, like for conversations. Generally, I really dislike shaky cam, becuase it's usually a gimmick nowadays, but such is NOT the case with The Bourne Supremacy. I felt that during the quieter scenes, the camera really supported the mood of the story (very on edge) and that during the action scenes it mainly helped us see the action from Bourne's point of view). The climactic car chase is one of my favorite action scenes of all time, and it was already very well directed without the shaky cam; the opening car chase of Quantum of Solace, which also uses shaky cam, is NOWHERE near this good.

I'll need to watch Ultimatum again (I LOVE that one btw), but for now I feel that this is my favorite Bourne film. This is one of the rare sequels out there that is as good as or better than the original.

Thanks for reading!

The Bourne Identity

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

With the Bourne trilogy I did something that I rarely do with movies, but every time so far it had worked; I bought them before ever seeing them, assuming I'd love them. I've done the same thing with the Indiana Jones trilogy, Jaws, and Saving Private Ryan (coincidentally all Spielberg films) and I love all of them now. I've heard great things about the Bourne films, so I bought them because I was sure I'd never have time to see them in full on TV. Did I regret my choice? Not at ALL.

I love the opening scene of this film; it immediately creates mystery and suspense, seeing a man's unconscious body floating in the Mediterranean. After he's rescued and conscious, he finds that he has multiple skills that most humans don't even have, yet he doesn't remember anything about himself, not even his own name. From there, the movie really takes off, as the man finds plenty of money and passports possessing multiple identities in his bank account. The film becomes an action/chase film as the man (having discovered his name as being Jason Bourne) sets out to find out more about himself. Along the way he is accompanied by Marie Kreutz.

There are many things I love about this movie. For one, the action scenes are exhilarating. I love the chase sequences in this film, and I actually think the quick-cutting really works for this movie (the shaky cam for this series wasn't introduced until Supremacy). The car chase in this movie was very well-filmed and engaging, and I love Bourne's line "We can never come back to this car" once it's over. Also, the scene where another Treadstone assassin (played by Clive Owen) is chasing down Bourne, as well as the emotional aftermath, is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. The musical score by John Powell is also very good, especially in how it can go from being quiet and personal to building up during a chase scene. I love how the Moby song "Extreme Ways" fits with Bourne, too.

My favorite component of the film is Matt Damon. I actually haven't seen many of his films (I haven't seen Good Will Hunting), but I LOVE him in this role. The best part about his acting is the believability he brings to the character, from his facial expressions to his voice. The whole time, I couldn't help thinking that Damon would've been a much better Anakin Skywalker than Hayden Christensen in the Star Wars prequels (then again, most people would've).

This movie is one of my favorite action movies ever made, and amazingly it only gets better from here.

Memento
Memento(2000)
½

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

I just watched this film on Youtube, and I must say that it is definitely a great film. Now I've seen four Christopher Nolan films: this, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and Inception.

Memento is an excellent thriller. The format of the film, how it goes in reverse chronologically and occasionally chronologically, is very unique; it really causes the viewer to feel Leonard's confusion. What I really loved was how things ended up so differently from how I expected. I love how I was made to fully suspect the "Teddy" character, only to be proven wrong about him by the end.

The acting in this film is very good. Guy Pearce, Carrie Ann Moss, everyone. The score is also very subtle and psychological.

If there's anything that detracts from this movie for me, it's the amount of F-bombs that are dropped. When I'm expecting an F-bomb every few seconds, it distracts me from the story a bit. I think it shows that Nolan has improved as a director because his films have barely any profanity in them nowadays. The only scene I would leave the F-bombs in is when Carrie Ann Moss's character Natalie goes off on Leonard, simply because it showed how horrible of a person her character really was.

Overall, I loved this movie, though I'll admit that I probably wouldn't return to it as much as others. My favorite Nolan film is still Inception, followed by The Dark Knight, and probably Batman Begins (though I haven't seen that one in a while). One of these days I'll check out The Prestige.

Up
Up(2009)

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Visually spellbinding, structurally sound, and emotionally endearing, UP fits right into the Pixar library as another classic piece of film.

UP is one of those movies that I love more now than I did initially. I own it on DVD, and since Toy Story 3 came out, I loved that movie so much that I was caught up in its craze, and I had not watched UP for quite some time. Upon watching UP again, I was happy to find how much I loved it.

There are many things I love about UP. The story, of course, is excellent. It's not just a story about dealing with loss, it's also a story about overcoming guilt and regret and moving on with your life. Not only does the main character, Carl Fredericksen, suffer from the loss of his wife, he also suffers because he never took her to Paradise Falls when she was alive, somewhere she had always wanted to go. Many people of all ages can relate not only with loss, but also with regretting past actions. I really love how in this film, we're introduced to Carl and Ellie as children, and obviously the now famous "Married Life" montage is brilliant.

I also love the characters in this film. UP really reminds me of some Hayao Miyazaki films with its colorful cast. Not only do you have senior citizen Carl, you have an Asian boy scout named Russell, a talking dog named Dug, and a big, tropical bird who Russell calls Kevin. It's pretty much a band of misfits, and all of them are hilarious together, while still pushing the story forward. Carl is a great protagonist. He really gives off a Spencer Tracy/Jack Lemmon vibe as being a classic grouch; I also think he resembles Robin Williams. He's also hilarious. The filmmakers do a great job of helping audiences empathize with Carl throughout the film. What I love about Russell is that he's not "cute-ified" or anything; he's a real, natural kid, and he reminds me a lot of some of my younger cousins. Anyone who is annoyed by Russell is just annoyed by kids in general. Charles Muntz is also a delightfully dark character for this film.

My favorite scene in the film is when Carl empties his house to get it to start flying again, showing him letting go of his guilt and regret, and then we see that he set his and his wife's chairs side by side. That scene, along with the incredibly rousing music, nearly lets the tears flow.

The animation is this film is beautiful, and the art design is wonderfully simple. The musical score by Michael Giacchino definitely deserved its Oscar win; it's memorable, and has a variety of tracks throughout, from catchy, whistly tunes to more emotional tracks to heroic, action-packed tracks. It's terrific.

Some people dislike that there are talking dogs in the movie, as well as dogs flying planes. I'm just going to say this: Carl friggin' blows up a bunch of balloons in one night and flies his house with them. By that point you ought to expect anything weird and crazy to pop up.I personally thought those scenes were hilarious. All of the action sequences in the movie were great and very Indiana Jones-esque. The movie ends very well, and the ending, from the wilderness explorer ceremony to counting the red and blue cars in one of my favorite endings in any film.

UP is a great movie for all ages. See it if you haven't.

The Iron Giant

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

The Iron Giant is, simply put, a masterpiece. This is movie magic at its finest. I'm not joking.

Firstly, I feel the need to mention that this movie was directed by Brad Bird, the helmer of The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and the upcoming Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. I think The Incredibles is my favorite out of all his movies; it's either that or this for sure. This movie failed at the box office in 1999 (a great year for movies) because of a horrible marketing campaign. This doesn't shock me, because I had never heard of this film in 1999. My first exposure to this movie was in 2001 or 2002 on Cartoon Network during a marathon. I remember liking it a lot.

I recently bought the DVD of this film, and after watching it, I must conclude that this is not only one of the best animated movies ever, but one of the best MOVIES ever. This is classic sci-fi, up there with movies like E.T. (it might be even better than E.T.), Close Encounters, etc. The story of this movie is incredibly endearing. Hogarth is a very likeable character, and like Elliot from E.T., he's a bit of an outsider. The story of his friendship with the Giant is very powerful.

This movie tackles many strong themes. One of them is death. There is a very moving scene where Hogarth tells the Giant that everyone will die at some point in time. While many anti-liberals might bash the movie for this, I also love the movie's anti-gun/war message and the way it is handled. It never comes across as preachy. This really comes into play in the climax of the film, during which the military is trying to destroy the Giant. The scene where the Giant decides to be Superman and save everyone from a nuclear explosion is very sad and emotional, and also very poignant.

The animation in this movie is excellent. The characters all move fluidly, animated in classic hand-drawn style, and they are all designed well. This movie takes place in the 50s, and the art style really depicts that era well. It should be noted that the Giant is computer animated, but you would never know. The scene where Hogarth first sees the Giant gives me chills; you can really feel the awe of the Giant's power just by watching that scene (you feel his weight as he's walking toward the power plant).

The original score of this movie is also great. Even though I love Disney musicals and all that, what separates this from many other animated movies is that there are no songs, no singing sidekicks or anything. None of those would fit into this movie well. I really love the Cold War backdrop of the film as well (the "Duck and Cover" commercial helps give it an anti-Communism feel).

The Iron Giant, like The Incredibles, could have easily been a gigantic live-action blockbuster. Brad Bird has often said, "Animation is a medium, not a genre," and The Iron Giant is resounding proof of that. This movie is never childish, it never shys away from adult themes. It is simply a sci-fi/drama that happens to be animated.

If you haven't seen this, check it out! It's amazing.

The Fox and the Hound

SPOILERS BELOW

Okay, I have to say this: I think that The Fox and the Hound is the most underrated Disney film ever.

I mean, I'm not sure many people have even seen this movie. Is this one of the VERY best Disney movies? I'm not so sure. But it is very good, and it definitely deserves more recognition. The coming of age story arc of this film, as well as the realization of prejudice and how it can destroy things, includings friendships, isa very powerful theme in this movie. Sure, it's a bit obvious where this film is going from the start, but it is executed very well.

Where this movie is the strongest (in my opinion) are the emotional scenes and the action/suspense scenes. In those scenes, it's just as great as the best of Disney. For one, The Fox and the Hound is one of those rare movies to actually make me cry (I mean REALLY cry). The scenes that do it are when Widow Tweed drops Todd off in the forest and when Copper and Todd become friends again in the end, yet realizing that things can't be the same as they once were. This movie has a very powerful, poignant ending. In terms of the action/suspense, the scenes with Chief, Amos, and Copper hunting down Todd is great. My two favorite suspense moments in this film are these: when Todd is walking through the forest after Amos has set out the traps (the camera movements really make it tense, showing Todd moving deeper into the forest); also, when Copper and Todd are snarling at each other, each waiting to attack. This scene is so powerful because the look of hatred on each of their faces shows how much has changed between them. Honestly, that one moment is probably my favorite part of the movie.

The main weakness with this film is the animation/background design. It's certainly not bad, but compared to other Disney movies it's really quite bland looking. The animation industry was suffering at the time, so that's why; I can't really fault the film for that. The other fault I find in the film is that it's not as...well...charming as some other Disney films. There's no real "Hakuna Matata" or "The Bare Necessities" moment here. I mean, it's a different type of Disney film, so it doesn't really need moments quite like those, but it still just feels like a little something is missing. The main memorable songs are "Goodbye May Seem Forever" and "The Best of Friends", both of which are very emotionally powerful.

That being said, this is really a very good movie. The voice acting is solid, the story (while predictable) is well-executed, and overall this is a very underrated Disney film. Not the best, but not the worst. 8/10

Edit: I think A Goofy Movie might be the most underrated, moreso than this one.

A Goofy Movie

I LOVE A Goofy Movie.

I had seen a bit of this movie when I was about 5 or 6, and when I was 7 my mom bought me the VHS. The instant I watched it, I was HOOKED. I loved *everything* about this movie, from the songs to the characters to the story to the jokes. Somehow my VHS disappeared. However, I recently ordered the DVD from Walmart and am waiting on its arrival.

There you go. I not only love this movie for nostalgic reasons, but because it's just a really good movie. In fact, I'm sure teenagers who give it a chance can relate to it more than many other teen-oriented movies out there. Yes, I do think this movie is more for teens than small kids, though all ages can enjoy it. Max is older than he was in Goof Troop (a show I used to love), and rather than admiring his dad, Goofy, like he did back then, now he's a teenager who's trying to be cool and impress his crush, Roxanne (I know she's a dog, but she's really cute in a human-ish way). Max is actually trying to distance himself from his dad, who is anything but "hip". Max and his friends stage a scheme for Max to impress Roxanne, and it works, but not without it's consequences. The film then becomes a father-son roadtrip with Goofy and Max, during which hilarity ensues.

This is a great, really underrated movie. The songs are all fun and memorable, my favorite probably being "Eye to Eye" at the end. The movie is HILARIOUS too. To me, the funniest scene is when Max slaps the possum upside the head yelling, "Beat it, doofus!" Many of the jokes fly over the heads of kids; Max's friend Bobby, for instance, is your typical high-school stoner. The movie is not without it's emotional moments, however. There are several moments where I feel bad for Goofy because of how Max treats him; Goofy is obviously just trying to make his son happy and Max is a jerk to him. Seeing Max's behavior really makes me regret how I've talked to my parents in the past. The waterfall scene at the end is also very emotional and hard-hitting; thankfully no one dies.

Bill Farmer and Jason Marsden among others do a great job voice acting. The animation in this film is simple, yet very good, and it has a "classic" sort of feel to it.

Every teenage boy (including myself) wants to be able to do what Max does in this film, to overcome the odds and impress the girl of your dreams in a big way. This is what makes the film so fun to watch. Kids dream of growing up to do what Max does, teenagers want to do what Max does, and adults reminisce about been lovestruck teenagers when they watch A Goofy Movie.

I really love this movie, and it doesn't hurt that I'm a big fan of Goofy and classic Disney cartoons. This movie is a classic, and it is probably a bit overlooked because it was released the same year as Pixar's Toy Story, which is an EXCELLENT film. 10 out of 10 might seem extreme, but this movie does what it aims to do incredibly well and is VERY entertaining.

The Matrix
The Matrix(1999)

Whoa, what a difference a few years makes. I saw this movie several ears ago (when I was about 9 or 10) and I didn't really enjoy it because I didn't understand it. I recently bought this on VHS (yes, VHS, for about $1.51) and watched it for the first time in years. It is honestly a VERY different movie to me. I'm not going to get into the story (which I did understand this time around), but I actually really like Keanu Reeves in this movie; it's easy to care about and root for his character. Laurence Fishburne is also awesome, as is Hugo Weaver (I think that's the right name) as Agent Smith (he was very chilling, actually). Carrie Ann Moss is also freaking sexy as Trinity.

I just love the concept of The Matrix and the whole "defying gravity" stuff, and this movie contains what are now some of my favorite action scenes of all-time. I don't want to get into comparing this to Inception (which I'll def. have to see again), but right now this beats it (for me).

EDIT: After some months, I think I actually might prefer Inception to The Matrix. Both are different though, and both cater to different interests of mine (and some similar). I don't love this movie any less, though.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Similarly to my review for the first film, I must say that I fricken LOVE this movie (honestly, I'm tempted to raise the rating to a 90% or a 100%). This was the first of the Harry Potter films where I was a fan when it came out. I had just finished watching the first film on VHS, and a commercial for this movie popped up on TV a little while later. I got EXTREMELY excited, and I immediately begged my mom to take me to a bookstore so I could buy both the 2nd and 3rd books. I read the 2nd one quickly and fell in love with it. Then the movie came out, and my dad took my cousin and I to see it the day after it came out.

I was AMAZED. This movie was like my own personal "Star Wars"; it changed the way I saw movies. At the time, I thought it was the best movie I had ever seen (I was 9). Everyone at school was abuzz about it; it was great. This is the Harry Potter film that makes me the most nostalgic, even more than the first one does.

Years later, my perspective has certainly changed. I do see flaws in the movie, and it's not my favorite of the films (Deathly Hallows and Prisoner of Azkaban are in front, the rest I'm not sure right now). It suffers from the same thing the first film suffers from, that it often sacrifices emotion for mystery/adventure. Also, at least until Deathly Hallows Part I, I'd have said that this film is the most faithful to the books out of all of the adaptations (but Deathly Hallows does it more seamlessly, as the emotion is also very strong in it). That being said, it's certainly not a bad thing.

One thing I remember instantly upon first seeing this movie was how much the kids changed after only a year. Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, etc. all had deeper voices and definitely looked a bit older, as did Emma Watson. It seemed unreal to me at the time that kids could grow that fast (I didn't know about puberty). This one had plenty of fun stuff (the flying car, Whomping Willow, Gilderoy Lockhart, the quidditch match, polyjuice potion, spiders, and just the whole mystery of the Chamber of Secrets). This movie is also funnier than the first, while also being a bit darker.

The climax with Harry facing the basilisk remains one of my favorite scenes in all of the series, if not simply for nostalgia. Seeing that on the big screen BLEW ME AWAY. Also, this was the first movie I saw TWICE at theaters, the first one I ever even THOUGHT about seeing twice.

Most will say that Alfonso Cuaron directing Prisoner of Azkaban was a good change for the series. I'm definitely inclined to agree. However, Chris Columbus definitely captured the pure childhood bliss with the first two movies, and if that's what I want to experience, it's usually the first film or this. A very high 8/10.

The Lion King

Where do I start? This movie DEFINED my childhood. Along with movies like Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and a few more, I know this entire movie by heart. I still have my old VHS copy, that I've worn out since I was 5 years old.

Even though this film is very nostalgic for me, it's still a great movie period. Sure, the characters might be generic, but it doesn't matter at all. What do I love above this movie? The soundtrack, for one, is excellent. The songs (put together by Tim Rice and Elton John) are brilliant. Hans Zimmer's soundtrack is epic beyond belief ("To Die For" and "King of Pride Rock" being my favorites). The animation, as with any classic Disney movie, is spellbinding even by today's standards.

What really draws me to this movie is the story, adapted from "Hamlet." I'm going to be honest here: Mufasa's death is the first scene I EVER cried at during a movie. Before I saw The Lion King (and keep in mind, I was very little) I never expected characters in a movie to die (I had not seen Bambi). When Mufasa died, I kept thinking "But he's going to wake up, right?" As I realized that he was dead, the tears just started flowing. I kept thinking "What if that ever happened to my dad?" Being close to the same age as Simba, I know I would've reacted about the same. Even now, I'd probably react the same. Recently when I watched that scene, tears started flowing again. That is EASILY the saddest scene in a movie, and I completely lose it when Simba says "Dad, you gotta get up. We gotta go home."

There's a particular scene in Toy Story 3 that reminds me of this scene (there's a moment that almost mirrors when Scar says "Long live the King"). The scene that follows is very emotional, but it doesn't produce the tears like The Lion King does for me (and I think Toy Story 3 is overall a better film). The scene when Simba ascends Pride Rock is also very powerful and majestic. This movie is probably my favorite Disney film. Disney (not Pixar) just doesn't make them like this anymore. I hope that next year's "Winnie the Pooh" can become a new Disney CLASSIC like this one and the ones before it.

How to Train Your Dragon

SPOILERS ARE BELOW

Hello, everyone. Upon seeing this film several months later on rental, I've decided to change my rating and rewrite my review for the film. Initially, when I saw HTTYD, I was biased because I was very eagerly anticipating Pixar's Toy Story 3, saying to myself "There's no way this will be better than Toy Story 3."

Now it's December, and as you can see, my rating has changed from an 80% to a 100%. I wrote that it would improve upon repeated viewings, and I was right. So obviously I really love the movie. Do I love it more than Toy Story 3? The answer to that is, "No." But of course I'm slightly biased. I had been waiting for Toy Story 3 for years, and had been an avid Pixar fan (I mean, who isn't?). Toy Story shaped up my childhood. However, my standards were also set very high, because Toy Story 3 had a LOT to live up to. And bias set aside, the movie was actually great.

Now that both movies are on home video, I've had the chance to view them again. I instantly knew I'd be adding Toy Story 3 to my movie collection. Now I can happily say I'll be adding HTTYD as well.

What do I love about this movie? I really like the story and the characters, which is always a key grip to me enjoying a movie. The story is simple enough; the main chracter, Hiccup, is an outcast looking for a way to belong (I really don't need to give a synopsis). The other characters (the teenage vikings) are all charming and funny in their own way (I don't have the same affection for them as I do for the Toy Story characters, but they're still entertaining). The animation and the art style are breathtakingly gorgeous. The rocks of the cliffs and mountains, the smoke and clouds, the fire, the wooden houses and dragons, the water. All of it looks amazing.

The scenes in this movie that visually and emotionally had the biggest impact on me are these: the scene where Hiccup and Astrid are riding Toothless where they fly into the clouds ("A Whole New World", anyone?), and the awesome battle sequence as the end against the giant dragon (the scene lives up to its full potential because our hero loses something at the end).

So, there you have it. Both Dreamworks and Pixar have made movies I love in the same year, something that hasn't happened since 2001 with Shrek and Monster's, Inc. Come Oscar time, which will I be pulling for to win Best Animated Feature (I haven't seen Tangled or Despicable Me)? The Pixar and Toy Story fan in me will be pulling for Toy Story 3. The underdog-lover in me will want HTTYD to win. If Toy Story 3 gets a Best Picture nom then we already know who won (same for HTTYD). Honestly, I would love it if both got one, but I doubt that'll happen.

btw, the directors of this are Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, both of who directed Lilo & Stitch, the movie that made me want to be an animator. So it's no real surprise that I like it this much.

Alice in Wonderland
½

I recently borrowed this from a friend who is a big Tim Burton/Johnny Depp fan, and I watched it. I actually did enjoy it: I was fine with the actors, the music, and the story was a somewhat interesting continuation of the original tales. I'm not as big of a Depp fan as most; to me, his loopy, weird characters get tiring, and I would like to see him try something else. I'm not saying he's not talented, but he plays too many of the same roles (I am not a fan of his Willy Wonka). I was never big on the Hatter's design in this film either. I did sort of like Bonham Carter as the Queen of Hearts, and I thought the March Hare was probably the most amusing character.

That being said, this movie is pretty forgettable. It didn't hold my attention that well, and while it's not flat out "bad" or anything, it's not something I have a strong urge to see again. And another thing, I would have liked a bit less green screen. Still, this was not a bad film. I wouldn't mind watching it again, and I might even enjoy it more if I did. Once again, Toy Story 3 and Inception are truly the only great movies I've seen all year.

Monsters, Inc.

I was taken to see Monsters, Inc. in theaters when I was 8, and it was probably my favorite movie of that year (though I loved Shrek a lot, too). Even though I LOVED Toy Story 2 right from the first time I saw it (and I loved the first Toy Story and liked A Bug's Life a lot), I think that Monsters, Inc. was the first time I really became a true PIXAR fan. Looking back, this was one of my best moviegoing experiences. Monsters, Inc. is a film that has plenty of great humor and plenty of heart, and it is one of my favorite Pixar movies (though I love the majority of them).

One thing I love about this movie is the opening credits. It's as though they were directly inspired by 101 Dalmatians (which is one of my favorite Disney movies). They're very original, and the jazzy music is very catchy; I can actually whistle the entire theme. I also love the premise of monsters scaring kids to keep their city circuited; it's quite original. I love Sully and Mike, who are both well-voiced by John Goodman and Billy Crystal. Randall is both creepy and hilarious. Boo was the most adorable animated character I had ever seen until Bonnie from Toy Story 3, and the relationship between her and Sully feels like a real father-daughter relationship. I remember having tears welling up in my eyes near the ending when Sully is saying goodbye.

I also love the ending to this movie, where Monstropolis becomes a laugh factory with Sully as the CEO, and obviously the final shot of the film. In my opinion, this ending is tied with Toy Story 3's as being the best ending to a PIXAR movie (though their other films have great endings, too). I love the music of this movie ("If I Didn't Have You" is a very good song) and the Scare Floor music is VERY good. The climax of the movie with the doors is VERY fun to watch.

All in all, this is an excellent movie that is actually a "bit" underpraised if you ask me. It was PIXAR's 4th straight hit, and the one that made me an official fan of theirs. I actually get nostalgic watching it now because it makes me think of the "older" days of PIXAR that are now past (Toy Story 3 did the same, however). I'm actually quite excited for the confirmed Monsters, Inc. 2, and I'm sure PIXAR will not disappoint.

Pinocchio
Pinocchio(1940)

I LOVE this movie. I own the 60th anniversary edition on VHS, and it is one of my very favorite Disney movies. I watched this several times as a kid, and I love watching it nowadays as well.

Where to start? The story is very touching and resonant, and the characters are charming enough (Pinocchio is likeable and vulnerable enough to make you root for him; Jiminy Cricket is a classic; Figaro and Cleo are entertaining together). The animation is GORGEOUS, by then and today's standards. While Finding Nemo sports a beautiful version of
the underwater world with 3D animation, Pinocchio really set the standard with 2D animation. The underwater visuals are great, and while I love 3D animation, the 2D drawings achieve an effect that 3D animation can't.

One of my favorite scenes in the film (and probably the most terrifying), is when Lambwick (however you spell it) turns into a donkey. It's shot very well, and it conveys a sense of terror that was actually quite common in classic Disney movies.

To wrap this up, "When You Wish Upon a Star" is such a beautiful, nostalgic song for me. I think of my childhood every time I hear it, and even though it might not be all the way true, it's still an excellent, uplifting song. Pinocchio is a very good movie.

The Wizard of Oz

If you don't like The Wizard of Oz, then you're probably not American. Well, I won't go that far, but still.

This movie is a children's classic that is really entertaining for all ages, and it is one of those movies that you should raise your kids up watching. This movie is so beautiful and colorful (I believe it was the first Technicolor film), and the characters are so fun and memorable (my favorite has always been Scarecrow). Also, I used to be so scared of the scene with the "witch" riding the bike, probably more than anything else in the movie. Also, the tornado scene is really great, especially considering the time this movie was made. The scene where the house spins is also great (and it scared the flip out of me as a kid).

This is an excellent movie.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

I've come to realize that I rate plenty of movies as a 100% (maybe too many). But this is really an awesome movie, in a different way from RAIDERS (which is my favorite Indy film without a doubt). This one does have a lot of things going for it, however.

For one, I'll comment on the opening sequence with River Phoenix as a young Indy; sure, that scene may be goofy and all, but River made a PERFECT young Indy. Not only did he resemble Ford, but he acted EXACTLY like him. In most cases, I hate movie flashbacks, because the child usually looks or acts nothing like the older actor, but this is a notable exception.

Another thing that makes this movie great is the comedy. This is the funniest Indy film, and there are PLENTY of hilarious, classic scenes, one of them (strangely) involving Hitler. Most of these scenes, though, are the result of the wonderful relationship between Ford and Sean Connery in this film. The two are very believable as father and son, and their relationship defines the film (they become close throughout the course of the film). The climax of this movie is very emotional and well-done, in my opinion. THE LAST CRUSADE is certainly not as great as RAIDERS, in my opinion, but it is def. better than TOD and KOTCS, and it works really well for what it is. That's why I give it a 100%.

The Shawshank Redemption

As you can probably tell by my username, this is one of my favorite movies. It's very chilling and suspenseful, and it is quite emotional. Also, it is very well acted. While I really like Forrest Gump, and I can't say it didn't deserve it's awards, there's no way it should have swept Shawshank.

People might call this movie overrated, but I don't care, because I LOVE this movie. This is one of those films that never gets boring for me, no matter how many times I see it.

To Kill A Mockingbird

I first saw this film on VHS (my mom bought it) about 7 or 8 years ago, and even back then I was amazed. I've also read the book and really enjoyed it. Even though some key scenes from the book are cut from the film, this film still works because it keeps the important parts and still revolves around the same message.

The performances in this movie are great. Similarly to how I feel about E.T., I love the kids in this movie. Both Philip Alford and Mary Badham are believable as brother and sister, and as kids period. Also, Brock Peters gives a very convincing performance as Tom Robinson. And all of this leads to Gregory Peck's legendary performance as Atticus Finch. No matter how you feel about this movie, you have to understand that Peck's performance is one of the greatest performances in cinematic history. It's as though Atticus jumped right out of the book into the movie. Just EVERYTHING about his performance is perfect.

Obviously, the themes this film deals with are also powerful. It deals with loss of innocence, racism, and having empathy for others. And I'll admit, this is one of those rare movies that has made me CRY. The musical score is enough to do it, but the court case scene in this film (and the aftermath (one of the best scenes in ALL of movies) especially does it. The ending also affects me emotionally. Overall, this is a GREAT movie that I always enjoy/

Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

I recently bought this at Goodwill on VHS, and it just brought back so many great childhood memories. This movie gets a 100% from me because it achieves exactly what it's aiming for. I feel like I'm 5 years old again when I watch this (and that's a great feeling). This movies is just so charming and magical, and the artwork and animation is great. It'll be interesting to see how the upcoming Winnie the Pooh 2011 movie will stack up to this.

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3(2007)

As I'm sure all of you can see by my rating, I am NOT a fan of this film. I don't HATE it, because if I did I would have given it an even lower rating. But whether because of high expectations or zero expectations, this is just not a very good movie at all.

I can talk about how high my expectations were after Spider-Man 2, but I don't want this review to be a total comparison to the first two films. All I know is thank goodness Toy Story 3 turned out so great being 11 years after Toy Story 2, because waiting 3 years for Spider-Man 3 felt like an AWFULLY long wait to me.

The main problem with this film is the amount of stuff Raimi tried to cram into it. Characters such as Gwen Stacey were introduced, but relatively pointless in the story, and it was completely obvious that she was brought in just for the purpose of being a new character (she never felt like a real part of that world). I liked that Harry was taking his father's mantle, but I did NOT like the way it was carried out. The suit was stupid (it would've been nice if he had worn some kind of goblin mask) and the whole "amnesia" thing just was not convincing at all. This storyline had so much promise but ultimately failed. Also, as for Sandman's story, I don't mind him wanting to get money for his daughter, but you're going to make him Uncle Ben's killer? That makes the whole story of why Peter becomes Spider-Man POINTLESS, because while Peter could have stopped the guy who stole the money, there was NO way he could have stopped Sandman. So all the guilt he feels in the first two movies is pointless, since Uncle Ben's death is what motivated him to be Spider-Man.

And I haven't even mentioned Venom. Topher Grace obviously did not fit Brock's physical appearance, but he isn't the problem to me. The real problem is that Venom is just a half-done callout to the fans who wanted him in the movie. While I wanted Venom in the film from the get-go, I would have been happy if Sandman and Harry were the film's only villains, as long as that allowed room for more character development and such. (On a side note, the special effects are WAY too cartoony in this).

OK, now to the positives. For one, the acting isn't really that bad. Tobey Maguire does fine (though he is given considerably less to do anything with), Tom Church was all right, etc. Also, while I hated the take on Symbiotic Peter Parker for most of the film, I did like the scene where those guys were going to throw him out of the bar and he fights them; THAT is how he should have been the whole time. Rather than doing a dance routine with Gwen Stacey, he could have been heckling MJ in the audience or something. Overall, Spider-Man 3, while not horrible, is definitely a victim of the "3rd film curse" that plagues many franchises.

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2(2004)

Firstly, I'm a big fan of the first Spider-Man movie. It's a whole lot of fun, and provided a great origin story for Peter Parker/Spider-Man. However, I think Spider-Man 2 is the best Spider-Man movie for some key reasons. For one, the story is really good. It takes place 2 years after the first one (in real time as well), and many things have changed. MJ is engaged, Harry is a bitter drunk, and Aunt May is still very lonely after Uncle Ben's death (this is my favorite subplot of the film, because it's such an emotional point of the story, and Peter obviously still feels guilt). Another reason I love this film is because of Alfred Molina as Doc Ock; I LOVE this version of Ock, with him being a tragic villain (how else would you introduce a guy called Doc Ock in a feature film and have people take him seriously). The CG effects in this one are also better, and the action is fantastic (especially the train fight).

What I REALLY love about this film however, is Tobey Maguire's performance, which is honestly underrated if you ask me. Peter is unable to lead a healthy life of his own because of his responsibility as Spider-Man, so he's always late for work, late for class, and unable to pay for rent for a run-down apartment, not to mention he's always being knocked around by random people. To make matters worse, he still loves MJ (who is engaged) and his best friend Harry is angry at him for being "friends" with Spider-Man (and of course there's the stuff with Uncle Ben). Anyone who is a teenager or older, I believe, can relate to Peter Parker in this movie; I know I can, when it comes to having so many different things to take care of in your life that it overwhelms you (I felt like this with school last year). Tobey Maguire is ABSOLUTELY convincing, I don't care what anyone says. The guy has great emotional range, from happy, to angry, to sad, to disappointed.

I loved him in the the first one, but I really loved him in this. I honestly believe he should've gotten an Oscar nom for his performance in this role. Everyone's always praising RDJ as Tony Stark (deservedly so), and I think that Maguire deserves an equal amount of praise.

Despite some very minor flaws, this is a great film that really inspires me in all kinds of ways (since I can relate so much to Peter), and it is one of my all-time favorite movies. It is my favorite live-action superhero film (over even The Dark Knight).

Spider-Man
Spider-Man(2002)

First of all, I understand that this film has flaws, like any film; my rating is an indication of how much I love it regardless. This movie (for me) was probably something like what Star Wars was to people back in 1977 (I had never seen Star Wars back in 2002 when this came out, and I probably hadn't seen many "blockbuster" movies). I had never seen *anything* like this movie before. Looking back, some of the CGI effects look cheesy now, but back then I believed every bit of it.

What really makes this film great to me is that it really feels like a comic book world, so much so that it seems effortless. The action scenes are exciting and well-choreographed, too. The musical score by Danny Elfman is also riveting (I think this is my favorite of his work). My favorite thing about the film, though, is Tobey Maguire. I don't care what anyone says, I LOVE this guy as Peter Parker/Spider-Man; he really embodies the character in every possible way, and is very convincing. Kirsten Dunst is also very good in this movie (why did they change the design of her hair in Spider-Man 2? It's looks great in this movie). To me, this movie is actually pretty underrated (I actually think this is one of the last *great* blockbusters to come out during the summer, along with Spider-Man 2). Come on, you've got to love that entire scene in the rain; that part was really well-done, imo.

Spirited Away

One word: WOW. I've always had a mild interest in Miyazaki films, and that interest was only increased by knowing that the artists at Pixar are inspired by them. I haven't exposed myself to that much anime; I grew up loving Dragon Ball Z as a kid, but I was never able to get into Naruto and stuff like that, so I kind of strayed away from anime for I while. Recently, though, I've kind of wanted to diversify my tastes in film and whatnot; I've grown up on the Disney animated films and the Pixar films, and even though I love a lot of those (you can see how I feel about Toy Story) I knew that as an animation fan I would need to embrace different types of animation.

This is truly one of the most complex movies I've ever seen, and I loved that about it. I actually read about the story on Wikipedia after I was done, and I can appreciate it even more now that I understand all the themes (not that I didn't think about them on my own first). I really loved the character of Chichiro in this film; one thing I've noticed about these films is that Miyazaki understands children so well, even female characters. I just love that none of these characters are traditional fairytale characters.

Also, this movie is visually stunning. I just love everything about the way it looks (beautifully drawn, vibrant colors, fluid animation). By the end of this film, you really feel as though you've been on a fully journey with Chichiro. This and Mononoke are my favorite Miyazaki films I've seen so far (I can't decide which I loved more). To anyone who wants to see this, don't expect the traditional Disney animated movie or anything like that.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

I first saw this film about 2 years ago, along with the other two; I took a gamble and just went out and bought the whole set, because I was sure I would really enjoy them. While I really enjoyed every single one of them, I LOVED this one. The story is intriguing, the characters are all entertaining, the musical score by John Williams...well, you know, it's John Williams. What more needs to be said?

I was already a fan of Harrison Ford from the original Star Wars, but I absolutely LOVED him in this film. I'm sure Tom Selleck would've been great, but I'm really glad that Ford got the part. What I really loved about this movie was the action scenes. Everything from the boulder chase to the bar fight to the fight on the plane to the truck chase (my favorite scene in the entire trilogy). This is a great movie that is probably favorite Spielberg film (and that's saying something).

Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime)

I've grown up loving the classic Disney animated films such as Pinocchio, The Lion King, The Jungle Book, and many others, and I'm also a BIG fan of Pixar movies, especially the Toy Stories. I've recently taken ann interest in Miyazaki, however, because I know that plenty of Pixar's artists are huge fans of his films. Fortunately, a few of them are uploaded on Myspace, and I've seen three so far (My Neighbor Totoro, The Cat Returns, and this). I've enjoyed them all, but so far, this is definitely my favorite. This film is unlike any animated film I have EVER seen. It's truly like an animated Lord of the Rings or something (in terms of it's scope and epicness). While some children may enjoy this film, this is in NO way a film targeted at children. There is some pretty gruesome stuff in this film.

One of my favorite filmmakers, Brad Bird (who has directed The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille) has stated that animation is an art form, not a genre, and that any type of film (be it a western, a romance, a horror film) can be made with animation. It doesn't ring much truer than it does with this film. This film is proof that it is silly to call all animated movies "kids' movies." This is currently my favorite Miyazaki film, though I do have many more to see.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

***THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I REPEAT THERE ARE SPOILERS.
READ AT YOUR OWN RISK***

Just wanted to throw that out there. Now, I'm going to start off by saying that I'm one of the biggest Toy Story fans in the entire world. I LOVE the first two films (I've loved them for 15 and 11 years, respectively). Both are wonderful in their own respective ways. I'm also a fan of Pixar, with the exception of Cars (which isn't bad). However, the Toy Stories have always been my favorites. My expectations for TOY STORY 3 went BEYOND INFINITY, naturally. When me and my pal got to the theater and bought our tickets, we actually had to wait in a LINE to see this film. Looking around, there were quite a few parents with small children, but there were mostly TEENAGERS (like me) and young adults. Guys had brought their girlfriends. All right, now on to my verdict:

I LOVED IT. It's an instant classic.

I loved TOY STORY 3. After the incredibly entertaining short DAY & NIGHT, I was so giddy with excitement that I was smiling like a moron. I was instantly taken in to this movie (and so was the audience and my friend). The opening sequence of this film is a beautiful tribute to the opening sequence of the original TOY STORY, with a few twists. What really got to me was the "YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND IN ME" playing over the video of Andy playing with his toys, and how he had Woody and Buzz joins hands. I nearly cried. After that, we're thrust nearly 10 years into the future. Andy's toys are desperate to be played with after years of neglect. When it was revealed that Bo Peep was gone, the audience (and I) was hushed.

One of the many things I love about this movie is how all the original characters are just as entertaining as they always were. Hamm and Mr. Potatohead are as hilarious as ever in this movie. Jessie, while she retains her personality from TOY STORY 2, is much more bearable this time around. As a matter of fact, she's even, well...SEXY. She's a great female character for the female audiences to admire. And lastly, Woody and Buzz's friendship rings as powerfully as ever before, and it is honestly the most powerful thing about the movie.

I also really liked the new characters, and I really appreciated the fact that none of them tried to overshadow the old ones (though Ken had a large role, and he was hilarious). Lotso's backstory is also quite tragic, at least as much as Jessies's if not more, and it really added great depth to the character, that he was left behind rather than outgrown. Barbie was also quite funny in this movie (they couldn't have had better voice actors for her and Ken).

Note that this film is very different from the previous films. It still has that fun feel to it, but it takes place (and comes along) at a much different time in the characters' life, as well as my own. All this time makes it much more resonant and powerful. I was 2 when the first film came out, 6 when TOY STORY 2 came out, and now I'm 17 and a year away from going to college myself.

Quite possibly, the best scene in the film (perhaps my favorite and the most well-done) was when the toys were about to be burned in the end, and Buzz looked at Jessie; I soon realize that he had come to except that they were about to "die". The fact that they all held hands, afraid, but comforted by each other, was powerful. And even though I didn't cry, I came AWFULLY close to it when Woody and Buzz looked at each other and grabbed hands.

It was then, right at that moment, where I knew that I had witnessed the best three-quel ever made (perhaps the greatest sequel), and and excellent closure to what is now my favorite trilogy of ALL-TIME (sorry, STAR WARS).

The ending with Andy also touched me tremendously, particularly when he and his mom embraced. I have a cousin who just yesterday finished packing up for college (I attended his graduation), and all I could think about was the great times we had together as little kids. That made this scene even more powerful than it otherwise would have been. And Woody's ultimate decision made me love his character more than I ever had, and it rings true to the heroic, lovable Woody we've known all along.

I'm used to being disappointed by sequels. Before this, THE DARK KNIGHT was the best recent one I could think of (and I don't even love it like most do). Even though I like RETURN OF THE JEDI, I think that A NEW HOPE and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK are FAR better. I love the first two SPIDER-MAN movies, yet I abhor the third. I like the original SHREK, somewhat liked the 2nd, and hate the 3rd. And I know that there are many more bad sequels that I haven't even seen (I like all the old INDY movies, but RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK definitely rises above the rest) LOTR is great, but it's different as it's based off of literature.

The audience at my theater (including my friend and I) clapped at the end of the movie, after the blooper reel). The atmosphere was so HAPPY. People were walking out with smiles on their faces. Adults were smiling and saying they enjoyed it a lot. Teens were talking about how much they loved it and how great the ending was. My friend and I were talking about how much we loved it. This movie couldn't have come at a better time; in such a lackluster summer for movies (Iron Man 2 was fun but could have been so much more), this is a shining knight, and it is the definition of how to do a sequel (and a closure) the right way.

Overall, TOY STORY 3 joins the other TOY STORY films at the top of my Pixar list. I'll have to it more times (I'm DEFINITELY buying it), but I think my ranking goes something like this:

1. TOY STORY
2. TOY STORY 3 (All of them are so wonderful).
3. TOY STORY 2

Screw Armond White and the other guy who's name I done know. They have ZERO effect on my opinion.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

HUGE waste of time (pun intended). I'll leave it at that.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

This is a great film by Steven Spielberg. I love it for so many different reasons. For one, it's a very touching, poignant story, with how Elliot and E.T. develop their bond. I also love how Elliot's mother is a single parent, to make his character more sympathetic (or empathetic). He's also a middle child, and is always picked on by his brother and his (brother's) friends. One thing this film does wonderfully is capture the essence of childhood. That's why the climax of this film is so good to me; it features a bunch of kids riding bicycles to get E.T. to the forest.

Henry Thomas as Elliot has got to be one of the best (if not THE best) child actor performance I've ever seen. Rather than trying to be funny or cute, he's a real kid, and I don't think ANYBODY could have done a better job. You would think he'd be a bigger star, but he probably chooses to be more low-key. Dee Wallace, Robert McNaughton, and Drew Barrymore (who is extremely adorable here) are all very believable as Elliot's mother, brother, and sister (if you ask me, they all somewhat resemble each other).

And I can't forget the musical score. The musical score to this film is nothing short of MAGICAL. It's whimsical, intimate, and dark all at the same time. Hollywood as it is today definitely needs to take a bigger cue from movies like this, and learn to start making movies with more magic and heart once again. The Pixar fellas do it, but they're sort of protected from Hollywood interference.

Jimmy Neutron - Boy Genius
½

I actually saw this in theaters as a kid. It's not horrifically bad or anything, but now that I'm older it's a lot more mediocre than it seemed back then. This is primarily for kids, unlike other animated movies such as Toy Story 1 and 2, The Incredibles, etc.

The Hurt Locker
½

It's all right, but I think it's blown way out of proportion.

Space Jam
Space Jam(1996)
½

OK, this was one of my VERY favorite movies to watch as a little kid in the 90s and early 2000s. It seemed perfect back then. Now, a lot of it is stupid and silly, and some even hard to watch, but I still enjoy it. I mean, if I had first seen this as an older viewer, I'd probably give it a 20%. But the nostalgia is just too much for me to control, so I'll give it a good 70%. It is quite funny at times, and it's a kids' classic (not in the same vein as Toy Story, since Toy Story is a movie that I enjoy even more now that I'm older). If you want to take a trip back to the 90s for a little while, then this film will definitely help you do it.

P.S. One part that I do enjoy more now is the character of Lola Bunny. She's a sexy beast!

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)

I honestly enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. I do think that the film lagged in the middle, and at times got a little carried away (like when Rhodes and Stark fought each other), but I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning and the end. The beginning was on par with any great comic book movie I'd ever seen, and the script was hilarious.

The entire end sequence, the last 20 or so minutes, was a lot of fun for me. Yeah, there was cheese, but it was fun, comic book cheese (not horrible, Spider-Man 3 type of cheese). I wasn't disappointed, and I enjoyed this almost as much as the first. Not great, but good. (The humour factors a lot into this score).

Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo(2003)

This is a movie that quickly became so successful and popular to the point where it was one of those movies that people either loved or hated. I belong in the category for those who love it. I don't love it as much as the Toy Story movies, but I think it's a classic and definitely one of the best pieces of movie magic (animated or not) in recent history.

You might say that the film is overly sentimental, but I don't really have a problem with it. I was 10 when this film came out, and I saw it at the movies after it had been out for about a month. Other than the fact that it was about fish, I really didn't know what the story was about. When Nemo's mother and siblings were eaten, me and my mother were absolutely shocked; we had not expected that at all. For most movies to work (for me), I have to be brought into the story as quickly as possible; I was instantly brought into this movie.

Almost everything about this movie is done extremely well. The story is very good and resonant, the characters are all interesting and unique (I like the sea turtles the most),and the script is clever and sometimes very funny (like the introductory shark scene where "fish are friends, not food."). Another part that for some reason has me cracking with hysterical laughter is the scene where Nigel (the pelican) breaks into the dentist office (with Marlin and Dory) while Darla points and screams and the patients are staring at the room in horror. I especially love how the kid (who is reading an Incredibles comic book) stares and seems to think that the dentist is torturing Darla.

The other thing about this movie that grabbed me was the entire visual experience. Forget Avatar and Pandora; when I first saw Finding Nemo, I was convinced that it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. The Pixar folks created a world that was not uber-realistic but super-believable and beautiful to look at. My eyes were wide open the entire time, and I felt as those I were swimming in the ocean with the other characters. The score of this movie by Thomas Newman is also brilliant; it perfectly captures the feel of being underwater. This movie also functions really well as an action adventure, a la Indiana Jones or Jurassic Park. I love how it switches between Marlin and Dory's adventures and the dentist office. Great stuff.

Overall, Finding Nemo is what I consider to be a classic. It is instantly memorable and a lot of fun for everyone.

Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2(1999)

I'm not a part of the bunch that'll say this is better than the original, but I'd quickly say that it is just as great. It's a very memorable movie, a classic, in fact. The theme actually is deeper this time around as well, as it deals with something that so many people go through: fearing things before they happen (if they ever happen). Woody contemplates over being immortalized in a museum as a collector's item, or going back to Andy and possibly be thrown away once Andy grows up.

This was such a great way to continue the themes from the first film. What makes Toy Story 2 the great sequel it is is that rather than create a entirely new story, it builds on the themes that were established in the original (I look forward to seeing how this year's Toy Story 3 will take those themes further). It is also a stand-alone movie; I recommend watching them chronologically, but you could be new to Toy Story and still understand this film. This is my favorite sequel. Period.

This and the original are my favorite animated films of all time, and both are probably in my top five for all-time favorite movies.