BSHnarejo's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

John Wick
John Wick(2014)

It's the tried-and-true formula of one last job/heist/assignment. A longtime bad guy leaves the life of crime in pursuit of peace and quiet, but naturally gets dragged back to his old haunts and habits to settle a final score. But "John Wick" breathes exhilarating life into this tired premise, thanks to some dazzling action choreography, stylish visuals and-most importantly-a vintage anti-hero performance from Keanu Reeves.

The Shawshank Redemption

Spanning the years from 1947 through 1966, The Shawshank Redemption takes the "innocent man in prison" theme and bends it at a different angle. Instead of focusing on crusades for freedom, the movie ventures down a less-traveled road, concentrating on the personal cost of adapting to prison life and how some convicts, once they conform, lose the ability to survive beyond the barbed wire and iron bars. As one of the characters puts it: "These [prison] walls are funny. First you hate them, then you get used to them, then you start to depend on them."

Filmed on location in a disused Ohio prison, The Shawshank Redemption is set in a place of perpetual dreariness. What little color there is, is drab and lifeless (lots of grays and muted greens and blues), and there are times when the film is a shade away from black-and-white (give credit to cinematographer Roger Deakins, a longtime Cohen brothers collaborator). It's ironic, therefore, that the central messages are of hope, redemption, and salvation.

First time feature director Frank Darabont helms a fleet of impressive performances. Tim Robbins, as Andrew Dufresne, plays the wrongly convicted man with quiet dignity. Andy's ire is internal; he doesn't rant about his situation or the corruptness of the system that has imprisoned him. His unwillingness to surrender hope wins him the admiration of some and the contempt of others, and allows the audience to identify with him that much more strongly.

Ellis Boyd Redding (Morgan Freeman), or "Red" as his friends call him, is the self-proclaimed "Sears and Roebuck" of the Shawshank Prison (for a price, he can get just about anything from the outside). His is the narrative voice and, for once, the disembodied words aid, rather than intrude upon, the story. Serving a life sentence for murder, Red is a mixture of cynicism and sincerity - a man with a good soul who has done a vile deed. His friendship with Andy is one of The Shawshank Redemption's highlights.

William Sadler (as a fellow prisoner), Clancy Brown (as a sadistic guard), and Bob Gunton (as the corrupt warden) all give fine supporting performances. Newcomer Gil Bellows, in a small but crucial role (that was originally intended for Brad Pitt), brings the poise of a veteran to his portrayal of Tommy Williams, Andy's protege.

Ultimately, the standout actor is the venerable James Whitmore, doing his finest work in years. Whitmore's Brooks is a brilliantly realized character, and the scenes with him attempting to cope with life outside of Shawshank represents one of the film's most moving - and effective - sequences.

Unfortunately, following a solid two hours of thought-provoking drama, the movie deflates like a punctured balloon during its overlong denouement. The too-predictable final twenty minutes move a little slowly, and writer/director Darabont exposes a distressing need to wrap up everything into a tidy little package.

Transformers
Transformers(2007)

A good action film, a new film script.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

In Psychology, we would take this movie as a perfect example of what we call "reinforcement". If people like it, make more of it. If no one said anything about it, no need to make it again. So, what did everyone (myself included) talked in the first film? Those fights were great. Loved the robots, I wanted more of them. Oh, Megan is hot. Let's get more of her too (if by "more of her" you hear "less of her clothes", even better). Oh, Megatron was great, sorry he had a short time in the screen. And do on. No one talked about the story of the movie, or how the characters were different from each other. Of course no one paid any attention to the dialogues. No one said how great was the continuity of the movie. No one cared who the characters were. Thus... why bother with any of this? There was a long time I did not see a movie so bad as this one. I am still in shock, after 4 days. Director, writer, editor... no one had any idea of what do to with any of those characters or how to get from a scene to the other. No one cared for the story, why people should be in one place or other. The plots are so scattered no one bothered to think why a character would do something. So, if you like the characters created in the first movie; if you like stories; if you would like at least that you ears and/or you intelligence don't be hurt by the most stupid lines ever told by a human (or robot) in a movie, be careful with this movie. But, if you want to see a lot of spare parts fighting each other, would like to see great battles, don't care for story, dialogues or continuity, you'll sure like this one, because it has great battle scenes, bigger and faster than the first one. Then, maybe you'll give and 8 instead of a 2 to Revenge of the Fallen. Myself, i like that action scenes be part of the movie, not the movie itself. So, be careful with the movie.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

Andy (voiced by John Morris) is getting ready to leave for college. His mother wants him to clean up his room and sort his things into what he wants to take to college or stored in the attic; the rest will be put in the trash or donated. Woody (Tom Hanks) the cowboy sheriff, Andy's favorite childhood toy, tries to reassure the other toys in his collection that they can all have a pleasant future life together in the attic until Andy has kids of his own to play with them. They are put in a garbage bag by Andy who intends to put them in storage but his mother mistakenly picks up the bag and takes it out to the curb for the garbage truck. Through a series of incidents, the toys don't end up at the dump but at a place that is almost as bad: the toddler room at the Sunnyside Daycare Center.

At first Jessie (Joan Cusack), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Rex (Wallace Shawn), and Hamm (John Ratzenberger) are convinced that they have stumbled into paradise where kids will play lovingly with them all day. They are given a warm welcome by Lotso (Ned Beatty), a strawberry-scented bear who runs the place. Most pleased of all is Barbie (Jodi Benson), a doll tossed out by Andy's little sister; she is quickly enamored of Ken (Michael Keaton), a dashing ally of Lotso who lives in a fancy house with a magnificent clothes collection. Despite Woody's pleas for everyone to return to their home and maintain their loyalty to Andy, his friends refuse. But the next day, they discover that Sunnyside is no paradise but a prison. In addition, the kids in their room are wild little monsters who enjoy bashing and smashing toys rather than imaginatively playing with them.

Lee Unkrich directs this lively and affecting stereoscopic 3D release from Pixar Animation Studios. The drama accentuates the fear of abandonment, the virtue of loyalty, the ideal of a community banding together, and the abiding beauty of friendship. The prison break motif which dominates the last half of the story lifts up these moral themes and gives us a chance to empathize with the toys as they act courageously and bring out the best in each other. We salute the strong character qualities embodied by Woody, the funny antics of Buzz Lightyear who at one point dances flamenco to demonstrate his attraction to Jessie, the clever heroics of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head with their movable body parts, and the silly shenanigans of Ken and Barbie.

Toy Story 3 has it all: an edifying tale, endearing and funny characters, an appealing use of 3D technology, and an emotional undertow that enables us to cheer for these inanimate objects as they make a break for freedom and a chance to discover a fetching future where they will be cherished and lovingly played with forever.

Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2(1999)

''Toy Story 2'' can be enjoyed -- enormously -- without wondering exactly why the Pixar animation looks even better than it did the first time. Among the many talents of the director, John Lasseter, and his huge crew of computer-animation pioneers is a gift for making their work look easy.

Motion is so fine-tuned that the film can stage high adventure in traffic, on baggage-moving machinery at an airport or anywhere else that comes to mind. Like the Japanese landmark ''Princess Mononoke,'' this kind of animation catapults past reality to create whole new realms of imagination.

Meanwhile, back on the toy shelf, appealingly human emotions are put in play. Buzz discovers that he is only one of many Buzzes, and must come to terms with existential questions about being mass-produced, one of the crowd. Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) now has a wife (Estelle Harris), who offers to pack ''your Angry Eyes, just in case'' when her mate goes off to rescue Woody.

The toys have their own enemies (including a hilarious take on Darth Vader), their own nightmares (being relegated to the broken-toy heap) and their own triumphs (just getting across a busy street) that take on epic proportions here. And this film continues the work of its predecessor, making sure that computer-generated animation will never be the same.

The Princess and the Frog
½

"The Frog Prince," a fairy tale that was already generations old when the Brothers Grimm committed it to writing in the early 19th century, gets a clever new twist in "The Princess and the Frog" (Disney). But this snappy variation on an ancient theme -- any more specific description would constitute a spoiler -- is just one inviting element in what is, overall, an enchanting animated musical.

Still, for the greenest or the grayest in the audience, the inclusive story of a resourceful African-American girl in 1930s New Orleans who kisses a frog with unexpected, funny results is its own reward: This A-level, G-rated entertainment is a fresh twist on the classic fairy tale about a handsome prince temporarily out of commission due to a malicious magic spell, a royal catch requiring the smooch of the right kindhearted, risk-taking heroine to restore him to his waiting throne. (As an added benefit, the smoocher gets to stand alongside her royal as his princess.) Only this time, the kiss that the lovely heroine, Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose), bestows on frog-bodied Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) backfires. He ends up in the same shape that he hopped into - and Tiana turns amphibian too. The patient, beautiful, hard-?working, entrepreneurial young woman is particularly irked because she has no desire to be a princess at all; what she really wants to do is open her own restaurant.

Munich
Munich(2005)

Much as Steven Spielberg followed 1993's special-effects blockbuster Jurassic Park with a far more downbeat and personal project later the same year,

When 11 Israeli athletes are killed by members of Black September, a militant Palestinian group, at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, the Israeli secret service organise a hit squad headed up by Avner Kauffman (Bana) to assassinate those who planned the operation. Putting together a team of four men, Kauffman travels about Europe incognito, seeking out the chief terrorists that have since gone into hiding. During the mission, however, the team begin to question the morality of their assignment.
Inspired by true events and based on the book 'Vengeance Day' by George Jonas, Munich is a slick and high-concept gung-ho flick in which the Israeli government (unofficially) takes revenge for the Munich atrocity by assassinating as many of the terrorists responsible as possible. But it's all done with subtle taste as Spielberg disguises his anti-Palestinian message in a quasi-espionage thriller. As a thriller, Spielberg meticulously sets up each kill with proficiency and without fanfare, but the breathers the director takes in between hits are far too long and drawn out; so much so that he is reduced to the use of flashbacks (the refuge of a lazy filmmaker) of the Munich tragedy to justify his characters' actions and to remind the audience that they are on the side of right - not that of cold-blooded assassins - and, in the reluctant yet enthusiastic Kauffman, he presents the human face of hate. Not that the PLO's point of view isn't addressed; in the overlong 2 hour, 40 minute running time they get roughly a minute's speech over a cigarette on a dusty stairway in Athens, while Kauffman's tacked-on empty regret in the closing stages is not to be overlooked. A far cry then from the pluralist views of 2000's documentary 'Black September' as Spielberg presents a heavily one-sided argument; with lines like "These people want to destroy us" and "They're maniacs",

Step Up: All In

Judging by this longevity, the franchise is evidently doing something right, and that something is dancing.

Throughout the series, which launched the career of Channing Tatum way back when it began in 2006, Step Up films have thrived on their truly stunning dance sequences, which have been consistently impressive and innovative.

After winning the contest in the last "Step Up" movie, The Mob dance team has had a tough time trying to make it as full-time dancers in Los Angeles. The group's leader, Sean (LUIS GUZMAN), vows to stick it out at all costs ... especially now that he has nothing to lose since his girlfriend from the last film has left him. But best pals Eddy (MISHA GABRIEL HAMILTON), Jason (STEPHEN BOSS), and the rest quit and go back to Miami. Determined to prove them wrong, he sees an ad in the trades for The Vortex, a team dance competition TV show hosted by Alexxa Brava (IZABELLA MIKO) that's now accepting video auditions for its upcoming new season.
Sean sets about forming a new team, first recruiting his old buddy Moose (ADAM G. SEVANI) who has become a husband and a full-time engineer since he last danced competitively. Together, they recruit a team that includes Andie (BRIANA EVIGAN), a dancer who previously hurt her ankle and has turned to fashion; Chad (DAVID SCHREIBMAN), a dance teacher eager to stop teaching older women how to do the cha-cha; Violet (PARRIS GOEBEL), a tough waitress eager to quit her go-nowhere job and take a chance on her skills; Jenny (MARI KODA), an Asian-American dancer with a sunny attitude; and several others.

Their main competition is the Black Knights, a team led by the arrogant, but super-talented Jasper (STEPHEN STEVO JONES). Sean also has his past to deal with when Eddy and the rest of The Mob show up to compete and are hurt that he has moved on and formed a new team. They all come together for a spectacular finale after finding out that Jasper and Alexxa are in cahoots to rig the contest.

Non-Stop
Non-Stop(2014)
½

Liam Neeson, is back headlining another entertainingly preposterous thriller, this one called "Non-Stop," directed by his "Unknown" collaborator, director Jaume Collet-Serra.

"Non-Stop" confines its action almost entirely to the inside of a trans-Atlantic New York-to-London flight. A fast, efficient introduction lays the groundwork: Federal air marshal Bill Marks, the Neeson character, is a nervous flier, an alcoholic ex-cop who looks as though he's carrying around a suitcase of unresolved issues. His seatmate, played by the overqualified Julianne Moore, sees in Bill a man in need of some comfort and conversation. But is she hiding something? Director Collet-Serra's cutaway shots appear to indicate as much.

Like any fictional detective, in "Non-Stop" Bill Marks sorts through a number of possible culprits, deals with false clues, follows red herrings, and ultimately solves a couple of murders through the same cerebral methods as the investigators of those novels, a HerculePoirot or Henry Merrivale. He even discovers that the murderer employs the same modus operandi as the villains in those classic novels.

Night at the Museum

With perfect pacing and an all star cast, all the hype is justified. ...a film the whole family will want to pop into the DVD player more than once.

Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian
½

In this film - a suitable resuscitation of the core concept. It's a film best with blockbuster displays of exaggerated mayhem, not doling out cutesy, stream-of-consciousness giggles. Here's to hoping that the inevitable third installment will lean more toward rousing institutional excitement instead of further enabling an exhausting game of verbal Twister.

Despicable Me

Animated comedy that has had a wildly enthusiastic response in the US. This baffles me a little. It is a perfectly agreeable family entertainment, but not exactly original and nowhere near Pixar's great creations. Despicable Me is co-directed by Chris Renaud - who created the bug-eyed squirrel Scrat in the Ice Age movies - and the French-born animator Pierre Coffin. Steve Carell voices the character of Gru, a career super-villain who presides over a secret lair populated by hundreds of little yellow creatures who do his bidding. Times are hard in the super-villain world, and Gru finds it tough to get funding from the banks (there's a nice wisecrack about Lehman Brothers) for his various megalomaniac wheezes. And there's a thrusting new super-villain in town called Vector, voiced by Jason Segel, who is flavour of the month with the venture-capital community. Gru hits on the plan of adopting three orphans who will insinuate themselves into Vector's house by selling him girl-scout cookies and pinch his new gadget. But then, inevitably, he finds himself becoming entranced by his little kids, and wonders whether fatherhood is more his style after all. Decent stuff, but Gru is nowhere near as interesting as, say, Syndrome from The Incredible.

Lucy
Lucy(2014)
½

Scarlett Johansson and writer-director Luc Besson make an effective duo in this agreeably goofy sci-fi thriller.

the movie seem very scientific and modern, the concept of "unlocking" more of your brain power is just a rampant urban myth. This idea is completely bogus and unreal, and is constantly attributed to Albert Einstein. According to Barry Beyerstein, a previous professor at UC Berkeley, "if 90% of the brain is normally unused, then damage to these areas should not impair performance." Essentially this means that if we actually used only 10% of our minds, then if we damaged or removed the other 90%, we would still function normally. This is false, as even minor brain damage can prove to be devastating to a human's ability to function.

While this film contains some logical inconsistencies, and has some very, very cheesy parts - the strong performances of both Johansson and Morgan Freeman pull the movie together. If you're looking for some sci-fi/fighting/action fusion movie, this film is just for you. Thrilling, but sometimes silly.

Chef
Chef(2014)

The feel-good story of a Los Angeles chef who opens a food truck after he loses his job in a high-end restaurant marks the return of writer, director and star Jon Favreau to the kind of character-driven indie he was once known for. Since 2008, the writer and co-star of "Swingers," his 1996 breakout, has been better known as the director of the first two "Iron Man" movies (also "Cowboys and Aliens," but who's counting?). With "Chef," it's great to have the old guy back.

In a somewhat meta story line, Favreau plays Carl Casper, a once-celebrated kitchen hotshot who is trapped in a restaurant bankrolled by a guy (Dustin Hoffman) who won't let Carl cook what he likes. The place is popular, but safe. After 10 years, Carl is miserable, despite an ex-wife who still kind of digs him (Sofia Vergara), a girlfriend who clearly does (Scarlett Johansson) and a son who adores him (Emjay Anthony).

"Chef" is filled with rich, spicy flavors, from its soundtrack of Cuban and New Orleans jazz and Texas blues to the colorful supporting cast, which includes funny cameos by Robert Downey Jr. and Amy Sedaris. John Leguizamo is particularly good as Carl's profane, motormouthed assistant, Martin. Everyone in this movie feels like they have a life outside the edges of the screen. And the humor, which features running gags about the explosive growth of food-centric social media, is wryly observant.

There's nothing terribly profound about "Chef." But its message - that relationships, like cooking, take a hands-on approach - is a sweet and sustaining one.

Oblivion
Oblivion(2013)

It takes more than an hour for Oblivion to become whatever it is the filmmakers think it's supposed to be.

Science Fiction film, done with modern technology. The geeks will love this movie, but there is also enough of a side stories and some amazing special effects that will help gain the majority of audiences. Oblivion was a terrific ride and something you don't see everyday, I really can't recommend it enough.

Poseidon
Poseidon(2006)

Tonight, many of the ship's guests have gathered to greet the new year in style in the magnificent Main Ballroom. They raise champagne glasses as Captain Bradford (Andre Braugher) delivers a holiday toast and the band rolls into a version of Auld Lang Syne.

Meanwhile, on the bridge, the Chief Officer senses that something is wrong.

Scanning the horizon, he sees it -- a Rogue Wave; a monstrous wall of water over one hundred feet high, bearing down on them with tremendous speed. He tries to steer the ship away from maximum impact but it's too late.

The wave strikes with colossal force, pitching the ship heavily to port before rolling it completely upside down. Passengers and crew are thrown into free fall, crushed by debris or dragged into the sea as water bursts in through shattered windows. Supports collapse, broken gas lines ignite flash fires and lights fail, leaving vast sections of the ship in darkness and chaos.

In its aftermath a few hundred survivors are left to huddle in the still-intact Main Ballroom, now resting below the waterline. They should stay together, the captain maintains, and wait here for rescue.

One man, professional gambler Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas), prefers to test the odds alone. Ignoring orders, he prepares to exit the Ballroom and find his own way to safety, but is collared by nine-year-old Conor (Jimmy Bennett), who asks that Dylan take him and his mother Maggie (Jacinda Barrett) along. Fast behind them is Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell), anxious to search for his daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) and her fiancé Christian (Mike Vogel). Only an hour earlier this young couple had found it impossible to tell him they were engaged and now face much graver challenges.

Wary of alliances, Dylan reluctantly leads the small band of survivors upward through the bowels of the ship. Those who choose to join them rather than wait below include a shy stowaway (Mia Maestro), a suicidal man (Richard Dreyfuss) who re-discovers his will to live and a young waiter with knowledge of the ship's layout (Freddy Rodriguez).

Determined to fight their way to the surface, they must forge a path together through layers of wreckage as the ship continues to sink. Bonds form quickly in this journey of vertical climbs, dead ends and sheer drops. And trust proves vital.

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger was being slated by people before anyone had even seen it and apart from not making as many billions as the studio had hoped, I can't see what is so bad about it. It does ramble on a bit but quite frankly show me a Western that doesn't. They're supposed to! Most 'blockbusters' do too these days. It could have been shorter and it was a little self-indulgent by Gore Verbinski but then this is what he does best. Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer were both great in the lead roles and William Fichtner and Tom Wilkinson were perfect baddies. It had action, comedy, Adventure, great visual effects and a little bit of romance to boot. It is everything you could want from a summer blockbuster and an example of a remake/reboot done well.

Divergent
Divergent(2014)

This latest slice of dystopian young-adult entertainment is based on a runaway bestseller penned by Veronica Roth while still an undergraduate. The hokey setup finds a futuristic, postwar society in which the now pacified population are divided into five distinct groups, each with their own singular attributes: Abnegation (selfless); Amity (peaceful); Candor (honest); Dauntless (brave); and Erudite (intelligent). No, I didn't buy it either, but never mind because neither does heroine Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) who commits the unspeakable crime of having more than one skill, thus making her... Divergent! Rising star Woodley (who picked up a Golden Globe nomination playing George Clooney's daughter in The Descendants) gives it some welly in the lead role, more than holding her own again Kate Winslet's sinister uber-matriarch Jeanine, but Tris is no Katniss Everdeen, at least not yet - inevitably, this is the first instalment in a trilogy, with Insurgent and Allegiant to follow. Drab production design (bombed-out buildings and Blake's 7 costumes) aims for gloomy portent, but the grit feels as fake as the fashionable tattoos.

Snowpiercer
Snowpiercer(2014)

What follows is a long, brutal foray toward the front of the train, a two-hour "advance" that is anything but (they're still on the train, after all). The Host's Song Kang-ho plays a mechanic who knows the ins and outs of the train, and also seems to be the only one who perceives the absurdity of the situation.

It's a wicked, violent parable, and one of the only movies of the summer worth talking about after the credits roll.

Marvel's The Avengers
½

The Hulk, Black Widow and director Joss Whedon are among the biggest highlights of the surefire blockbuster. It's definitely another move in the right direction for the superhero films. I'm extremely excited about the sequel and if they don't go to far away from what made this one so good, I could see that one even being potentially better. Only time will tell though. And hopefully this will give DC the push it needs to put out a Justice League movie, although I don't see them touching this quality with that.

Like a lot of supergroup projects, "The Avengers" concept is unwieldy, with at least four characters big enough to carry their own individual blockbusters, and only the space of a single film. But rather than attempt to downplay the rivalry, Mr. Whedon uses it to his advantage by building a fully integrated story out of the conflicting egos and superhero personalities.

From these former four-color fictions, Mr. Whedon has assembled an unexpectedly great piece of pop entertainment - an amazing, astounding, uncanny blockbuster success. Most supergroups turn out to be overhyped duds, but "The Avengers" is nothing but hits.

Godzilla
Godzilla(1998)

A pointless action film with terrible acting, Roland Emmerich's film is simply a big disappointment, and is a film that has definitely not stood out the test of time. One of the worst remakes too. The film relies more on its special effects than on story. The end result is a film that's struggling to be entertaining without offering anything really that interesting on screen. A stupid and awful remake.

The biggest beef I have with Godzilla (just don't tell him: he's one big scary monster) is that this retelling of the old story has no depth to it. Humanity is summarily exonerated of any responsibility in creating the monster. In this version, we just awakened it with our nuclear bombs.

Godzilla
Godzilla(2014)

Moviegoers expecting two hours of CGI monster beat downs may be underwhelmed by the amount of Godzilla in Edwards' reboot. However, the director has actually delivered a much more ambitious and memorable experience, blending a crowd-pleasing return for the titular star, poignant human drama, thought-provoking cautionary themes, as well as fun Toho series nods (like monster battles on TV) - all with entertaining blockbuster spectacle and a third act brawl that sets a new bar for the beloved King of the Monsters.

Director Gareth Edwards has seen this problem and confronted it in a way that will delight those who revel in the feeling of awe, but will bore those who go to the movies to be beaten into submission by sound and fury. He has made a Godzilla movie that keeps the title character offscreen for much of the running time, revealing him largely in pieces - a thrashing tail, a stomping foot, a spiky back swimming inexorably across the Pacific. And when the King of the Monsters - crowned as such in this film! - does really make his full appearance Edwards gives us a sense of scale, an understanding of his size and, as such, a true feeling of awe.

Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz(2007)

Simon Pegg and buddies make an awesome comeback with Hot Fuzz, an action/cop hilarious comedy.

Hot Fuzz parodies action films and is slightly less successful.

Top London cop Nicholas Angel is so good at his job that he's putting the rest of the police force to shame. For this, he is sent away to patrol the sleepy village of Sandford. But before long grisly happenings start to take hold and Angel faces his biggest challenge yet.

The Last Stand
½

At border town Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is all that stands between the crafty drug cartel leader Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega). Cortez escaped from FBI custody in the most inventive way ever, and is headed 197 mph towards the Mexican border.

When Arnold is not on the screen, you are secretly wishing he was. The Governator shows a side that has never really been shown audiences. Arnold is older, has increased his life experiences, and shows a softer/sentimental side. Just don't think he still can't kick ass, and rack up the body counts. Gabriel Cortez was the perfect high speed driver because he was a racecar driver before becoming a full time drug cartel leader. Oh how convenient! His character was the only boring part of the film, and that was only while he was driving like really fast on the highway. So that's a plus.

Arnold's deputies were all swell. Johnny Knoxville continues to be an actor/stuntman in this flick as the town crazy, providing comedic relief with the help of Luis Guzman. Noriega had his own deputies in the form of Burrell (Peter Stormare) as well as a dozen baddies wielding fully automatic weapons.

3 Days To Kill

Kevin Costner (as Ethan) is sent to catch the "bad" guys who have some dirty bombs they are going to put in a public place to hurt a lot of people. Yet, in the midst of this, he finds himself dealing with his own medical issues and trying to re-kindle his relationship with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld-"True Grit," "Ender's Game") and former wife (Connie Nielsen).

Before he can get to work a-patching, though, he's approached by a beautiful and ruthless CIA operative, Vivi, who has one more job for him to do. She wants him to take out notoriously evil weapons dealer Wolfgang Braun-aka The Wolf-and his cadre of collaborators. The carrot? An experimental drug that could prolong Ethan's rapidly dwindling life.

Match Point
Match Point(2005)

This movie portrays exactly how it is to simply be a lucky man. I very much enjoyed the story line and the twist; that I didn't see coming. It was very original and Woody Allen always amazes me with fresh new ideas. This movie was released quite awhile back but it was only recently that I came upon it, I am happy I did.

I really enjoyed the sound track in this film, it gave the film a sort of elegance. I think it was very easy to identify and feel empathetic towards both Noel and Chris. I loved trying to uncover who Chris really was, I still find myself contemplating on that matter. Was he a sociopath? a social climber? a reckless individual who wanted something better? From the very beginning I felt myself drawn to him but near the end I no longer liked him but was intrigued and puzzled by his motives.

The twist in the end was very thrilling and unexpected. I do recommend this film if your in the mood some thing abit different.

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)

I think Iron Man 2 is clearly a movie that has weighty expectations on its shoulders. After all, not only is it the first summer blockbuster out of the blocks this year, but also the maiden outing for Iron Man was a fairly massive critical and commercial smash. Common business logic suggests therefore that the second will be more popular, while comic book movie law also decrees that the first sequel tends to be better than the genesis story that precedes it.

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)

When i first saw this film i enjoyed it very much, now not so much, Its an abused sequel that decides to take a darker turn without really being dark and replaces the characters arch nemesis with an army of characters that just mock the human torch. Kingsley and Pearce are great as the films lead baddies but not even they can make this picture work. Downey Jr. of course is brilliant but the approach with the characters and the story font really serve it well and makes for a worthy disappointment, not he conclusion to the trilogy that i would of hoped.

Dallas Buyers Club

In the movie story; true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, a drug taking, women loving, homophobic man who, in 1985 was diagnosed with full blown HIV/AIDS and given thirty days to live. He started taking the FDA approved AZT, the only legal drug available in the U.S, which brought him to the brink of death. To survive, he smuggled non-toxic, anti-viral medications from all over the world yet still illegal in the U.S. Other AIDS patients sought out his medications forgoing hospitals, doctors and AZT. With the help of his doctor, Eve Saks and a fellow patient, Rayon, Ron unintentionally created the Dallas Buyers Club, the first of dozens which would form around the country, providing its paying members with these alternative treatments. The clubs, growing in numbers and clientele, were brought to the attention of the FDA and pharmaceutical companies which waged an all out war on Ron.

Evil Dead
Evil Dead(2013)
½

Mostly I love horror movie story but this remake don't have such story like Sam Raimi's Evil Dead movie sequel.

The most disturbing thing about Evil Dead isn't a moment in Evil Dead. The movie could serve as a twisted mirror for our desire to see a level of violence rarely shown on the big screen except Alvarez isn't judging his audience. He's indulging them. That's not to say he should be preachy or restrained. By the metric he has laid out for his picture's goals, Alvarez' film is a wild success. It's a crowd please that will leave gore-hounds stuffed, but we should all be somewhat shaken by the gruesome feast Evil Dead asks us to devour.

Prisoners
Prisoners(2013)
½

The most important part of the film, the biblical aspect. This movie is truly a test and will be for those who choose to view it. We see a man reciting the Lord's Prayer in the beginning of the film, who has his faith truly tested. His only daughter has vanished, and he feels the cops are failing. So he takes matters into his own hands. Right away we Biblically know this is wrong. The Bible clearly states vengeance is not ours. Keller abandons faith when tribulations occur in his life. He turns to everything, but God. We are called to rely on God in hard times. The film shows the fallen and sinful nature of man, and how desperate and depraved we become without God. In the film, a character states that killing children is how we wage war against God, it turns people into demons.

"Prisoners" is a bold film that stands on it's own two feet. It is a little too long, but it's Villeneuve's dedication to "taking it slow" that renders this unrelenting picture so memorable, and one of 2013's very best.

Tremors
Tremors(1990)

Tremors knows how to mix great fun with touching and relatable moments. The characters are very sarcastic when they talk to each other, which is very well-done by the writer if I do say so myself, and the casting choices are perfect. As two men go around the desert towns, lending a hand wherever possible in order to learn a living, there is something terrifying lurking under ground. It can't see you but it can hear you, and that is when the chaos ensues. During my viewing of this film, I felt myself smiling during most of it, because the director just really knows how to make an audience entertained. This is an awesome film!

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" begins where the closing credits to "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" ends - watching a graphic of criss-crossing planes carry a new plague around the world. With a little exposition we learn how most of the world drops dead of "simian flu." There are a few survivors, huddled together in cities, unaware if they are the last ones out there. We meet a group out of San Francisco, led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a good and noble individual, and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), another good man who just wants his people to be safe, but is perhaps a little more willing to let the ends justify the means.

From the film's opening close-up on Caesar's eyes to the final frames of the story, the apes are front and center, and WETA Digital has pushed performance into a whole new realm with the work they do here. It's one thing to pull off one or two characters like this, but to lean as heavily as they do here on the digital team to bring to life dozens of characters, and to have them all register as fully as they do here, is a remarkable accomplishment. Add to that the idea that so much of this was shot outside, on real locations, and you end up with something that destroys any boundaries in terms of what can or can't be done at this point.

The script by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Mark Bomback is about what violence does to communities, so while it is indeed an action film at times, and there are some thrillingly staged sequences that director Matt Reeves has imagined, I found myself actively rooting against any action in the film simply because I cared about all the characters enough that I didn't want to see any of them, human or ape, end up in harm's way, and it's obvious from early in the film that things are not going to end well. Once a human community, led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and Malcolm (Jason Clarke) comes into contact with Caesar's apes, tragedy seems inevitable, and it's awful to watch it unfold.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

From the outside The Hunger Games: Catching Fire looks like a rehash of the first film. Once again Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mallark are thrown into the Arena, ordered to fight to the death against 22 other opponents on live television as part of the way the Capital keeps the outlying, ever-rebellious Districts in line. But the brilliance of Catching Fire's structure is that while some of the beats remain the same the context is ingeniously changed; things sound similar on paper but feel completely different as they play out on screen.

I really liked The Hunger Games, but Catching Fire bests it in every way.If this trend continues this series will be a political science fiction epic that will endure for generations.

Tangled
Tangled(2010)

Indeed Tangled as a whole is touching and visually captivating. There are lovely strokes of animation on the expressions of the characters, amusingly so on horse Maximus, but what strikes you most of all is the colour of the scenery. Vibrant and vivid greens and blues contrast with bright pastel colours in the city, set against a varied, but always stunning sky. The animation also allows for some distinctive action set pieces, most notably when a chase climaxes at a dam. There are gobsmacking leaps, acrobatics with endless reams of magic hair and exciting sword fights, with a frying pan, guards and a horse. But most impressive for me was the glistening water, which eventually erupts outwards in a great, mesmerising wave, chasing our hero and princess into claustrophobic confinement.

I saw Tangled in 2D and there is really no need to seek out the 3D version. It's refreshing to see an animation go back to basics at a time of endless technological advance and reinvention. Here we just get funny, moving storytelling, that's generally inclusive and pretty for all. From a hilarious opening montage of Rapunzel simultaneously rejoicing and hating herself for escaping her "mother's" prison, to a heart wrenching emotional finale, Tangled has ingredients to delight everyone. It's a pretty near perfect family movie,

L.A. Confidential

The Neo-noir genre and L.A. subgenre allow L.A. Confidential to explore multiple themes in the diegesis of the film such as the nature of man and his role in a society destroying itself from the inside out while adhering to the mystery and suspense of the detective story. The trauma of the neo-noir characters' pasts determines their actions and thus drives the narrative to certain plot points. Bud's mother's death at the hands of his father, for example, strengthened his resolve to protect women in similar situations and eventually lead him to Lynn, who by making Bud realize his true worth and potential indirectly forged the significant alliance with Exley. Plot twists due to the duplicitous nature of certain characters, such as the Chief of Police, complicate the narrative almost to the point of confusion but if utilized correctly create a chilling and complex story worthy of film noir, classic or modern.

The Adventures of Tintin
½

Young ace reporter Tintin and his doggy pal Snowy stumble upon a mystery of the high seas when Tintin purchases an intriguing model ship named the Unicorn. No sooner does he pay for the item, than he is immediately offered a handsome price for it from two different men who seem to have an unusually strong interest in it. Unfortunately, after Tintin gets it home, the ship falls off the table and is broken and damaged. But, that doesn't stop someone from stealing it once Tintin and Snowy leave the apartment.

The thief clearly did not find what he was looking for, however, as Tintin next finds that his house has been ransacked. Luckily, Snowy is on the case, and he finds a small scroll that had been hidden in the mast of the ship. The scroll contains a secret message, and Tintin is determined to find out what it means. Meanwhile, the American man who tried to purchase the ship from Tintin is gunned down at Tintin's door, and the other fellow who had an interest in the ship, Ivan Sakharine, is clearly involved in a nefarious scheme.

Tintin's suspicions are confirmed when he is led to a real ship and finds that the captain, Captain Haddock, has been taken prisoner by Sakharine. Together, Tintin, Snowy and the Captain work to escape from Sakharine and beat him to the next clue. Whoever is able to find the three parts of the clue and put the code together first will be the one to uncover the secret of the Unicorn.

Monsters University
½

There is a lot to be learned from these characters about friendship and perseverance. This is a typical college campus where everyone loves the jocks and the cheerleaders, and the geeks are the loners. Mike and Sully learn that in true friendship you stick together. They also learn that we need each other. Mike thinks his smarts and persistence can make him a great scarer, and Sully believes that his looks and raw talent can do the same. It takes both of them working together to fulfill their purpose in life. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:21, "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." This is a lesson all of us can benefit from.

While I fully expect critics to pick apart this movie, I fully enjoyed it. As stated previously, I think it will be scary for some younger children, and my advice is to preview before taking your child under the age of 7. I had very low expectations going into the movie, and, from the previews, I expected more crude jokes and college humor. Disney/Pixar has proved once again that they can deliver a prequel that the family will love.

Catch Me If You Can

''Catch Me if you can'' is the most charming of Mr. Spielberg's mature films, because is it so relaxed. Instead of trying to conjure fairy-tale magic, wring tears or insinuate a message, it is happy just to be its delicious, genially sophisticated self.

In the opening scene of ''Catch Me if You Can,'' Steven Spielberg's supremely entertaining portrait of a virtuoso impostor, its protagonist, Frank W. Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), appears on ''To Tell the Truth,'' the archetypal television game show celebrating mendacity and fraud. Before his 19th birthday, the announcer proclaims, Frank successfully impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, and made millions of dollars forging checks.

''Catch Me if You Can'' (which takes its title from the autobiography of the real Frank Abagnale) as a smart, funny caper film is to ignore its strain of sly social satire. If the spine of the story is the elaborate cat-and-mouse game of Frank and Carl, the movie, written by Jeff Nathanson, is also a delicately barbed reflection on the American character and the giddy 60's ethos that allowed Frank to live out his fantasies. The 60's, you may recall, were the decade when jobs became ''gigs.'' And John Williams's uncharacteristically jaunty, saxophone-flavored score captures that spirit of frisky devil-may-care merriment.

The film's cheeky attitude is distilled in a fable Frank Sr. passes down to his son about two mice who fall into a vat of cream. One mouse instantly drowns, while the other puts up such a furious struggle that the cream turns into butter and the mouse walks out. That story is repeated three times in the movie, the third time as a ludicrous mealtime blessing Frank delivers at the Strongs' dinner table.

Assassins
Assassins(1995)

Assassins is essentially an updating of a well-established story line. Robert Rath (Stallone) is the best in the world at what he does--killing people for money. But he's getting tired of it all and wants out of the business. Unfortunately, you can't just give two weeks notice to your faceless hit contractor; it's a bit more difficult than that. So it's understandable that Rath barely flinches when he finds out Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas), the #2 assassin, is after him.

When you throw into the mix the world's best actress (Julianne Moore) as Electra, a surveillance expert and electronic thief, all hell breaks loose. Electra is his latest "mark," and, fed up with everything, Rath elects not to kill her, as he was charged to do. Instead they team together against a new, common enemy: Bain, who Banderas brings to life with a soul of pure evil.

Assassins starts out a little slow in setting up this tricky web, but it pays off the first time Bain and Rath meet. Thereafter, each meeting grows progressively more intense--and more violent--as the two square off like fighting lions. These action sequences are some of the best of the year, and together with Moore's turn as the enigmatic Electra, Assassins develops into a great entry for its genre.

Yes, there are some cheap "dog-barks-suddenly" surprises, a few sappy and overdramatic moments, and the story is just on the other side of impossibility, but what the hell, it's an action movie, right? That it is, and it's a pretty good one to boot.

Escape Plan
Escape Plan(2013)

This is not a bad thing, and there are many moments where Escape Plan does exactly what it sets out to do. But for a good chunk of its 116 minute run time, it feels like a chore to get through.
Sly plays Ray Breslin, a professional break out artist who detects flaws in the country's maximum security prisons. He's double crossed and left to rot in a prison called The Tomb, where he meets Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger). The two unlikely pals quickly begin to plot their escape. It takes almost 90 minutes for this escape to take place, and it feels longer than that. Stallone and Arnold's one-liners also fall flat way too often. Not to mention the convoluted subplots and logic that begins to start sounding ludicrous even in "turn off your brain" mode. Vinnie Jones, Sam Neill, Amy Ryan, and 50 Cent are all underused.
But the big prison breakout scene in the last thirty minutes is hella fun. Arnold and Sly do what we paid to see them do and the big, burly, macho testosterone runs so high, it almost makes up for all the tedium that came before it. Almost.

Toy Story
Toy Story(1995)

The film that kicked off the computer-generated animation revolution remains one of the best examples of the genre, with the impressive level of quality on virtually every level assuring its place within the pantheon of all-time great animated movies. The infancy of the digital movement hardly proves an obstacle for Lasseter and company, and it's worth noting that the visuals within the film still look pretty darn impressive today (despite the rather stick-figure-like quality of the human characters). A true achievement and a classic bit of family-friendly entertainment.

Up
Up(2009)

This movie is remarkable for a brilliant montage sequence at the very beginning, sketching out Carl's early married life with childhood sweetheart Elie. It is a masterclass in narrative exposition, and the moments explaining their childlessness will bring a lump to your throat. This is a terrific film with hints of Conan Doyle's The Lost World and Albert Lamorisse's Red Balloon. I wonder, incidentally, if those multi-coloured balloons are a cheeky dig at the logo of Pixar's rival DreamWorks?

A lonely, curmudgeonly old widower called Carl Fredricksen, voiced by Ed Asner, lives all by himself in a house on land that unscrupulous property developers want to buy. Finally, backed into a corner by these bullies' legal manoeuvres, Carl simply ties thousands and thousands of multi-coloured balloons to his house so that it can fly away and he can visit the legendary Paradise Falls in Venezuela, which he has dreamed of since he was a little boy and wanted to be an explorer, inspired by the adventurer Charles Muntz - a flawed Lindberghian hero voiced by Christopher Plummer. To his chagrin, Carl discovers that he has a stowaway in his airborne house: a feisty boy scout called Russell, voiced by Jordan Nagai.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

The circle of life continues for Simba, now fully grown and in his rightful place as the king of Pride Rock. Simba and Nala have given birth to a daughter, Kiara who's as rebellious as her father was. But Kiara drives her parents to distraction when she catches the eye of Kovu, the son of the evil lioness, Zira. Will Kovu steal Kiara's heart?

Overall, I think if you liked The Lion King then you'll enjoy The Lion King 2. Kids will certainly love it. However, it doesn't measure up to the original film. It's just another example of how Disney follows up their hit films with weak sequels that go straight to video. Instead of trying to recapture the magic of the first film, it comes across as a half-hearted attempt to get your money. They did this with Cinderella 2, 101 Dalmatians 2, Beauty and the Beast sequels, and more. Only Toy Story 2 was saved from a second rate release and you can credit Pixar for that. All this being said, though, The Lion King 2 is still worth checking out for the kiddies.

The Lion King

The movie starts with the presentation of the birth of Simba, the future King of Pride Rock. From early on, cheeky young Simba (voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas) learns from his father, King Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones, Criminal Intent, about the circle of life and how to become a responsible king. Simultaneously, Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons - The Man In The Iron Mask, The Borgias, The Words), Mufasa's younger brother and Simba's uncle, secretly plots to kill both Mufasa and Simba. Using his three main hyena henchmen, Shenzi (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg - Sister Act I & II, For Coloured Girls, The Muppets), Banzai (voiced by Cheech Marin - From Dusk Til Dawn, Cars I & II, Machete) and Ed (voiced Jim Cummings - Aladdin I-III, Hercules, Zambezio), Scar intends to usurp the throne.

He half succeeds. Scar kills Mufasa, but Simba escapes, fleeing into exile. There, Simba meets a Meerkat, called Timon (voiced by Nathan Lane - The Producers, Stuart Little I & II, The English Teacher), and a Warthog, called Pumba (voiced by Ernie Sabella - The Lion King II & III, Listen To Your Heart). Simba grows up with them and enjoys life, forgetting that he is meant to be ruling the now-ravaged plains of Pride Rock. It is only when Nala (when young, voiced by Niketa Calame; when adult, voiced by Moira Kelly - The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Dangerous Beauty, One Tree Hill), Simba's childhood friend, and Rafiki (Robert Guillaume - The Lion King II: Simba's Pride), a wise baboon and an old family friend, find him that Simba realises that he must return to the Pride Lands and fight his uncle for the kingdom.

The Lion King's storyline is easy to follow and gripping. Ostensibly for children, adults can like the movie just as much. (If not even more!) Whilst children may enjoy the sing-along-songs and the funny Timon and Pumba; adults can appreciate the intelligent, wry humour (not to mention how appalling some of Timon's jokes are), as well as the satire in the film, such as Scar's Hitler-like moment when he's standing on a podium addressing his army of goose-step marching hyenas.

The silver-tongued, smiling Scar convincing his young, naive nephew, Simba, to stay and wait in gorge for his father, who has a 'marvellous surprise' for him. It's apparently so good it's 'to die for.' For once, Scar might even be telling the truth.

Adults and children may get pleasure from different aspects of the film; yet, everyone can equally be enamoured with the movie's beautiful music, composed by Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean I-IV, The Dark Knight Rises). Much of the film adopts Zulu-style music, which is not only apt for the setting (after-all, The Lion King is based in South Africa), it enriches every scene wonderfully.

The music, though, would not have the same impact if the characters and the dialogue were not so well defined, written and articulated. All the characters have great depth, from the cunning, forked-tongued, yet cowardly Scar (that he is such an offhandedly sinister villain, rather than a pantomime one gives him an added chilling dimension); to the mischievous-cum-deferent-cum-bold Simba; to the stupid, moaning hyenas; to the funny but sensitive Pumba, to mention four of many.

The fine brilliance of the music and the dialogue is epitomised in the scene following Mufasa's death. Seldom in Disney films (where death is surprisingly common) have audiences, in general, been reduced to tears. The empathy one has for Simba at that point is heart-breaking. That this is followed by Scar wickedly manipulating the situation to his advantage (as intelligent, psychopathic leaders always do) makes the dosage so much more potent. Since this scene, perhaps only the ending to the excellent Toy Story 3 has come close to making viewers feel the same way again, and for very different reasons.

Simba, all grown up now, happily singing, with Timon and Pumba, the joyful 'Hakuna Matata.' It means 'no worries,' which is exactly how Simba has been living in exile.

Shrek the Third

When the lovable ogre Shrek (Mike Myers) married Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), the last thing he had on his mind was becoming the next King. But when Shrek's father-in-law, the frog, King Harold (John Cleese), suddenly croaks, that is exactly what he faces. As he is dying, Harold discloses the name of another potential heir to the throne, Fiona's cousin, Arthur (Justin Timberlake). Unless Shrek (with the help of his trusted companions Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) can find Arthur, the ogre, who dreads the responsibilities and restrictions of royal life, could be stuck with the job. When Shrek (and his sidekicks) find Artie, a timid Medieval high school student, who is the victim of bullying classmates and a dysfunctional home life, Shrek realizes the boy is more than he bargained for. Shrek acts a surrogate father to the young man as he attempts to convince him to accept the position by threats, force, being a "buddy" to him, and then finally, by being himself and accepting the young man for who he is.

In Shrek's absence, the wicked Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) organizes an evil band - the bad fairy tale characters - of his own to take over Far, Far Away and to obtain what he believes should be his - the power of the throne. He and his wicked band fly into the town on broomsticks and capture the Princess and several other female fairy tale characters (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Rapunzel) who are in the midst of having a baby shower for the pregnant Fiona. Will Shrek return in time to save Fiona and her friends? Who will reign as King over Far, Far Away?

Critique: I enjoyed watching both Shrek One and Two, and felt this movie was just as funny and entertaining as the first two. The animation, the music, the plot, and the jokes were all excellent (with the exception of a few crude, off-color jokes that most children, hopefully, won't understand.) However, I was and continue to be bothered by the need to include characters (no matter how subtly they are introduced) who are transvestites, transsexuals, or homosexuals, as this adds nothing to the film, but detracts from it. These type of role models are unacceptable and we don't want children thinking that this is normal or acceptable behavior. Other than this, I felt that this film was very good in terms of emphasizing the following values: taking responsibility for your actions, believing in yourself, sacrificing for the good of others, working out peaceful solutions through dialogue, and in portraying good parental modeling and a happy family life.

I give this film four out of five stars. Although it is rated PG, I don't recommend it for children. Mature teenagers should be able to handle it, but I would recommend that you discuss it with your youngsters.

Shrek
Shrek(2001)

In ninety minutes, "Shrek" offers more laughs and giddy pleasures than most movies of late do at that twice that length. It is a wondrous, comical animated adventure that satirizes fairy tales and wears its heart on its sleeve without ever winking too far to remind us that it is all a joke.

Shrek is undoubtedly one of the best non-Pixar animation features to have ever been made. The fact that DreamWorks Animation are able to create a film that is as funny and entertaining as any of the Disney-owned studio is nothing short of outstanding. Blessed with an excellent cast of voice actors that includes Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow, Shrek is one of the smartest and wittiest films one will ever come across. The story itself is unique, engaging, and full of twists and turns. The result is a motion picture that works very well with both children and adults. Ultimately, it is Shrek's ability to remain energetic and exciting throughout its runtime that makes it one of cinema's most likable and admired animation films.

Frozen
Frozen(2013)

The story occasionally transforms around the musical numbers, but they're of notably momentous design. Choruses are booming while dialogue shifts into melodic verses. Transitions aren't always natural, and spontaneous crooning can feel disruptive when conversations are weighty (in the middle of an argument a song breaks out), but the pieces conducted in solitude are especially moving. Outside of the music, "Frozen" is a captivatingly old-fashioned fairy tale full of action, comedy, and romance. In addition, following the tradition of Pixar's works, the film is opened by a short film - here, "Get a Horse!" features Mickey, Minnie, Clarabelle Cow, and Horace Horsecollar as they battle the infamous Peg-Leg Pete. It uniquely blends black-and-white, '20s-styled traditional animation with very impressive 3D, breaking the boundaries of the screen in a fascinatingly creative manner.

Kristen Bell voices Anna, a princess who sets out in icy conditions to rescue her sister (Idina Menzel), and possibly stop the neverending winter.

Anna is accompanied by mountain expert Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), a faithful reindeer, and a wise-cracking snowman (Josh Gad).
Her adventure encompasses trolls, bitter weather, and several songs in this Disney musical.

Despicable Me 2

I heard a lot more giggling and laughter from the audience on a Monday evening than I heard from the audience at Monsters University on opening night. Even if it's in episodic fits and starts, this film is trying to be a bit weirder. I don't think that anyone is going to remember Despicable Me 2 down the road, but it provides a few laughs.

This film manages to feel padded and hurried at the same time. It is padded with a number of song and dance sequences which are more filler than entertainment. There are a lot of sub-plots which briefly arise without further exploration. Why does Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) have a change of heart after defecting? Margo's crush and attempts at chasing Antonio (Moises Arias), and Gru's desperate attempts to halt her progression into adolescence, could have provided a solid dramatic basis for the film. A good comedic mind could have milked a great deal more potential from the villains hiding in suburban malls concept- think Hot Fuzz meets with Observe and Report, albeit G-rated. Instead we have a film that seems rushed to production before the script was refined, and that was then blown up from a scant 70 minutes to 90 minutes by having singing Twinkie minions.

The Prestige
The Prestige(2006)

Christian Bale and Michael Caine are re-united with director Christopher Nolan in this beautifully crafted period mystery which sees two magicians locked into an escalating vendetta after a trick goes wrong resulting in the death of Hugh Jackman's wife. Nolan proves himself once more to be as masterful at misdirection as the illusionists themselves, producing a wonderful looking and cleverly scripted tale of revenge that's full of twists and turns. His favoured method of disjointed timelines works very well, feeding the audience important plot elements at strategic intervals, keeping you guessing until, well NEARLY the end...when the final twist reveals itself, it does take a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, but hey, this isn't a documentary. The performances are all fine, although Scarlett Johansson doesn't really have too much to do except look pretty, but she manages to muddle through. Another cracker from one of the most consistently good directors working today.

The Wolverine

Hugh Jackman returns as The Wolverine and faces his ultimate nemesis in an action packed life-or-death battle that takes him to modern day Japan. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his limits, Logan confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality; an epic fight that will leave him forever changed.

Austin Powers in Goldmember

Dr. Evil. Myers again plays shagadelic secret agent Austin Powers, his arch-nemesis Dr. Evil and horrible henchman Fat Bastard, and now also a new bad guy, the Dutch hedonist Goldmember. I found this movie hilarious and outrageous! It had a lot of crude humor, like Austin hiding behind Mr. Roboto's fountain. But there was also a good amount of self-parody. The best scenes included Dr. Evil's prison rap video, and the suggestive subtitles in Mr. Roboto's office. The several cameos were also enjoyable, especially Ozzy Osbourne pointing out the joke carried over from "The Spy Who Shagged Me." The scene with Godzilla and its copyright was a relevant joke, considering the MPAA's temporary ban on the use of the title "Goldmember." I did have a complaint about the continuity. The difference in Austin Powers' trademark "choppers" was noticeable. And although I'd have liked an explanation for the absence of Felicity Shagwell, I'm glad she was not revealed in the movie as a fembot! Anyway, with this third installment,

American Pie
American Pie(1999)

The American Pie franchise has 2 true sequels (American Pie 2 and American Wedding) and 4 straight-to-DVD spinoffs. In April 2012, the American Reunion will hit theaters, and bring back the whole crew. Just as the 40-Year-Old Virgin did, American Pie launched the careers of many young actors including Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Shannon Elizabeth, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid and Alyson Hannigan. Other faces you might recognize include Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jennifer Coolidge, Eugene Levy and Natasha Lyonne.

American Pie was the first one to really go over the top with sexual slapstick comedy. The 40-Year-Old Virgin might have been the first mainstream comedy to really apply vulgar sexual dialogue, but American Pie has the guy who violated the apple pie and danced horribly over the internet. It coined the term MILF, gave meaning to the name "Stifler's Mom," and Alyson Hannigan has forever instilled in the American culture the phrase "This one time at band camp..." and we all know what follows.

School of Rock

Jack Black's a musician. Jack Black's an actor. So why not make a film where he's both! That's exactly what they did in School Of Rock. Sure, we've seen films about rock before that feature songs throughout but the highlight in this film is that not only is Jack Black using his actual skills and talents but the entire class of kids is full of talented musicians...and Miranda Cosgrove. Go figure.

School Of Rock just cries out to rock fans and, while there are probably a few better rock films out there, it still holds up as an entertaining film with a satisfying and non-traditional ending. This film holds one of Jack Black's best roles. If you are a fan rock, this is a must see.

Save the Last Dance

Stunning movie. Have watched this one a few times over the years, and I especially like dance movies. This one has a good story outside the dancing, being about an aspiring ballerina whose mother dies, leaving her to live with her father she barely knows. He lives in a mostly black neighborhood so a lot of this is about her struggles to fit in as virtually the only white girl in school. There's a lot to say about racism and I think this movie does quite a nice job. Julia is lovely and the relationship between her and the brother of her new friend is believable. You really hope to see it work out for them.

Riddick
Riddick(2013)

David Twohy returns to the dark in Riddick.
Seemingly broken up into three parts, the nearly 2 hour run time is excessive, thanks to a lengthy first act, which does however do a good job at setting up and clarifying the rest of the film. As for the plot details, they ar
e light and that is all that is needed to follow this story. Tie-ins to the previous 2 films exist, but they are not required viewing to watch this one.

Moan over and believe it or not I did like this film. Its silly sci-fi hokum with an array of cheese collected from various other sci-fi films (mainly its own franchise!) but it does work and it is a fun ride. Riddick is a likable lone wolf which helps a lot and its nice to see an adult orientated flick too. Its all essentially just about Riddick trying to get off world, that's it, not complicated, just needed to be a bit more original perhaps. I would have stuck with the lone survival aspect some more myself. And shame on you Twohy for giving us the old emotional pet death sequence, you know everybody chokes up on that stuff damn it!. Awww poor alien dingo doggie-like thing, Riddick would have been cool with an alien pet for future adventures.

Elysium
Elysium(2013)

Neil Blomkamp divides the rich and the poor in Elysium.
The story is rich with science fiction detail; yet with a 100+ minutes of screen time and a slower pace, there is room for more emphasis on specific plot details. Nonetheless, Elysium keeps it interesting from start to finish.

In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Delacourt, a government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn't stop the people of Earth from trying to get in by any means they can. When unlucky Max is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that, if successful, will not only save his life but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

Looper
Looper(2012)

Looper is the kind of movie where small discoveries spring up around every corner. Basically, Joe is a "looper," which means he's an assassin for criminals who live in the future. They send back the troublemakers; Joe does the dirty work, disposes of the body, and earns a nice reward. But one day Joe is stuck staring at his own face, 30 years older, and he has to find a way to kill his future self. He fails at first, and that's what kicks off the main plot thread in a movie that boasts four or five rather novel plot threads, but like we agreed earlier, it's stuff that's best left to the viewer to discover. I will say that Joe's manhunt of himself becomes a major problem for underworld thugs (Jeff Daniels, Noah Segan, Garrett Dillahunt) and an innocent mother (Emily Blunt) of a strange child, but beyond that let's just say that Looper works as very smart sci-fi, a sometimes brutal action film, and, at its best moments, an unexpectedly thoughtful rumination on things like fate, love, loyalty, and the true "source" of evil.

Most time travel movies are so plainly enamored with their own cleverness that the filmmakers feel required to explain, re-explain, and over-explain how the science works. To his absolute credit, writer/director Johnson tosses this fear aside during one fantastic diner discussion between young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his older self (Bruce Willis). This is a movie about characters, not concept, and once Looper lays down the rules, in both its premise and in its strangely humane approach to such a bizarre story, Looper cruises forward with a confidence and craftiness that's a trademark of the coolest science fiction films. Both actors are fantastic, as usual, but there's a novel wrinkle to seeing JGL and Willis "play" each other. It goes well beyond simple impersonation; there's some really sly acting from both guys. Emily Blunt pops up just as the film gets darker, and her presence adds a warmth (and, fine, loveliness) that proves invaluable for Looper's second half.

On only his third movie (after the cult favorite Brick and the charming The Brothers Bloom), Mr. Johnson hits the science fiction genre with an audible crack of enthusiasm and intelligence, and since we don't get all that many genre films that can be described as smart, sad, exciting, slick, *and* made for grown-ups, here's hoping that Looper finds an audience at the multiplexes right away instead of having to wait for the home video affection we belatedly afford to sci-fi greats like Dark City, The Iron Giant, Moon, and Blade Runner. Strong sci-fi cinema is fast becoming an endangered species, but flicks like Looper are clearly a move in the right direction.

Skyfall
Skyfall(2012)
½

Skyfall is a film about Bond reconciling with his past as a character in order to become the figure of cinema iconography we recognize him as. How else to view a Bond film in which the last act sees him break his souped-up Goldfinger-era (I believe; a diehard can correct me if I'm wrong) Aston Martin out of hiding for one glorious climactic spin? Skyfall serves us both the rough-and-tumble Bond and the suave Bond all in one sitting, reminding us why the character matters and organically taking the franchise back to its familiar beginnings. This is without a doubt the best, most thrilling blockbuster of the year from top to bottom, and hard evidence that genre movies don't have to take themselves too seriously or play too broadly to be great.

Bruce Almighty

Starring:: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Baker Hall
Screenplay by:: Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Steve Oedekerk
Story by:: Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe

Produced by:: Tom Shadyac, Jim Carrey, James D. Brubaker, Michael Bostick, Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe
Directed by:: Tom Shadyac

Jim Carrey's first madcap comedy since 2000's "Me, Myself & Irene," "Bruce Almighty" offers up a novel premise with the potential to be both thought-provoking and richly comedic. Despite a handful of genuinely funny moments that pop up on occasion, director Tom Shadyac (2002's "Dragonfly") and screenwriters Steve Koren (1999's "Superstar"), Mark O'Keefe, and Steve Oedekerk (2002's "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist") flounder all of the promise their story clearly held. There is a difference between sustaining one's disbelief and being faced with a number of giant and clumsy plot holes, and there is also a difference between a smartly written moralistic message and one that jams its sticky sentimentality down the viewer's throat. "Bruce Almighty" falls into the latter categories.

Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is a Buffalo-based Channel 7 newscaster with aspirations of replacing a retiring anchorman. When he does not get the job, however, proceeded by getting beaten up by a group of thugs and, later, wrecking his car, Bruce denounces God's plans. God, in the form of a straight-talking janitor (Morgan Freeman), hears Bruce and decides to hand his powers and duties over to him in an effort to prove how very difficult the job really is. Bruce is overjoyed with his new powers, using them to excel at work and further win the affections of his longtime live-in teacher girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer Aniston). What he doesn't expect is how, by agreeing to everyone else's prayers, he begins a chain reaction that leaves the world in riots and serious turmoil. Nothing, however, that cannot be fixed in time for the cheerful, sellout climax.

In making a motion picture that deals with a regular guy being forced into the position of playing God, there was the ability to not only make something uproariously funny, but also truthful to its own meanings and plot developments. "Bruce Almighty" chucks the meaning in favor of dog urination jokes and a monkey that crawls out of a bad guy's anus. This juvenile, if not altogether disastrous, humor does not jive with the more serious aspirations in the last half-hour. After Bruce answers "yes" to all the prayers of the world-including granting thousands of lottery winners, causing each to only get paid $17-riots begin. But that is apparently the planet's biggest worry, rather than the likely answered prayers that wish for others to die, for example. There is no mention of such praying certainties, an awkwardly overlooked and obvious concept that director Shadyac is only too happy to disregard. It is too bad he didn't also resist the temptation to sermonize to his audiences, which is exactly what happens.

The endless possibilities of what being God means are also mostly wasted. Instead of finding the answers to life's big mysteries, Bruce chooses to part his tomato soup like the Red Sea and pull the moon closer to Earth to impress Grace. When Grace catches him kissing a slutty coworker (Catherine Bell), does he do something to allow her to understand the kiss wasn't mutual, but simply looked that way? No, because then there couldn't be the whole tearful breakup scene, followed by further sincere scenes where he tries to apologize and mend their relationship.

Jim Carrey, a talented actor no matter the genre, is at his comedic best when he is allowed to really let loose. The scene in which Bruce discovers he has been passed over for the anchorman job and experiences an emotional meltdown on air is hilarious, thanks to Carrey's exquisite delivery. Another moment in which he sets out to embarrass his rival newscaster by putting words into his mouth is also a very funny highlight. Unfortunately, Carrey is not perfect, and his yearning to win over audiences with his zany humor is often quite apparent, leading to overacting. It doesn't happen a lot, but his flaws are more glaring than they usually are.

As Grace, Jennifer Aniston has found herself stuck in the obligatory "romantic interest" role-something she proved she was far too adept and talented for in 2002's lovely "The Good Girl." Aniston has a couple memorable moments, and the only dramatic scene in the movie that actually works, but this role is painfully underwritten. The same could be said for Morgan Freeman (2003's "Dreamcatcher"), although he certainly lends an authoritarianism and extra sense of fun to his role of God. "Where am I?" asks Bruce when he suddenly finds himself on top of a snowy mountain. "You're dead," God solemnly replies before adding, "Nah, I'm just messing with you!"

As throwaway comedic fodder worth a few chuckles and some entertainment value, "Bruce Almighty" will suffice just fine, but it could have been so much more. More original. More provocative. More funny. More smart. More courageous. Jim Carrey fans and those searching for nothing but an undemanding time at the movies likely won't seem to mind, and the movie admittedly does have its moments. Based on its wasted potential, something tells me the cinema gods wouldn't be nearly as forgiving.

Braveheart
Braveheart(1995)

Written by: Randall Wallace
Directed by: Mel Gibson

CAST:
James Robinson
Sean Lawlor
Sandy Nelson
James Cosmo
Sean McGinley
Alan Tall

Braveheart begins with William Wallace still a young lad. After his dad is killed by Edward Longshanks' army he is taken under the wing of uncle "Obi-Wan" Wallace, who teaches him how to fight.

Flash forward several years and William (now played by Mel) returns to his home village where the oppressed locals aren't allowed to have weapons and have to put up with English soldiers doing naughty things to their women. When a soldier who bears an uncanny resemblance to Albert Steptoe tries it on with Mel's wife, he loses his temper and beats the English soldiers to a pulp armed only with a rock and pointy stick. Having seen what a Scotsman can do with a pool cue, I'm surprised he needed the rock.

This is the trigger for INSURRECTION! Cue the warpaint* Cue the stirring speech! "They may take our land, but they'll NEVER take our FREEEEDOMMMM!!" Hooray! Let's go kick some English bahookie! (Oh, hang on, wait - I AM English).

Mel is held back by the feuding Scottish landlords and an indecisive Robert the Bruce. But on the battlefield he is unstoppable, burning garrisons, terrorising the occupying army and making horse-kebabs of the English cavalry. But things go badly wrong when the Scottish leaders discover Mel is Australian and leave him on the battlefield at Falkirk...

I have been told that, in terms of accuracy, Braveheart is a big pile of mince. In particular, George Macdonald Fraser said the film was an insult to the Scottish nation (and here I think he was referring to the depiction of the Scottish army as a rabble of willy-waggling bum-barers).

But films don't have to reflect reality completely, and I can forgive the odd inaccuracy (or even downright stupidity - how exactly DO you sneak into a man's bedroom while riding a horse?) It's genuinely stirring at times and reflects modern cynicism about politics well (beware, Donald Dewar). The battle scenes are bloody and brutal - the best I've seen since Excalibur.

Still, at the end, I couldn't help but feel an opportunity had been missed. Braveheart is comparable to Spartacus in terms of subject and scale, but lacks that film's gravity due to its unfettered romanticism. For example, the Scottish are presented here as sympathetic rogues, easily accessible to modern audiences with their groovy outfits and Bon Jovi hair, whereas the English are all Alan Rickman types in silly Blackadder costumes.

Spartacus did at least manage to convey the fact that the slave rebellion was led by men of a different time, and that their opponents were not entirely bloodthirsty fiends. As a result, this film works best as a romantic "William Wallace: Prince of Thieves". And I'm not saying this to be flippant about Scottish history (well, no more than this film is).

The Matrix
The Matrix(1999)

STARRING:
Keanu Reeves,
Laurence Fishburne,
Carrie Ann-Moss,
Hugo Weaving,
Joe Pantoliano,
Gloria Foster

Directed by:
Larry Warchowski,
Andy Warchowski

The Matrix is a movie that many people say it's awesome or, at least, very good. That's the expectation I had before seeing it: something exciting and thought-provoking to leave me in awe. Well, now that's I've seen in, I can officially form an opinion, which is that it's not one of the greatest science-fiction movies I've ever seen, but it's still entertaining. A lot of people may disagree with me on this and I can understand the rave reviews. Nevertheless, hear me out.

I did enjoy the beginning of the movie, because I had no idea what to expect. The initial action sequence quickly introduces two opposing characters: Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). It's not clear who is good or evil. Then the next question comes up: why are they after a computer hacker named Neo (Keanu Reeves)? From there, the film continues this pattern of throwing many questions with few answers. This method of generating intrigue works quite well.

Eventually, Neo meets a mysterious figure named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and receives a very shocking revelation. The world as Neo knows it is not real. The reality is that humans are a source of power for a superintelligent race of machines. In order to prevent the human race from ever knowing, the machines created the Matrix, a computer simulation for the humans to live in. With that, Neo is asked to join Morpheus and his resistance against the Matrix.

The details about the workings of the Matrix and the machines are rather neat. There is also a good premise about whether one would rather stay in the Matrix or seek to destroy it. And that is the extent to which I liked the movie. The remainder consists of action scenes with guns, close combat, and special effects. They're not bad overall. Still, there was something about the action that made it feel disconnected from the rest of the movie. But again, that's just my opinion.

The last thing I'll mention is the cast. In particular, Keanu Reeves's performance could have been better. You can definitely see this when Laurence Fishburne delivers his lines in a far more interesting way. The rest of the cast does a good enough job. Overall, The Matrix has enough material to make it work, even though there could be more. Then again, I think that was the intention. The movie ends in such a way that clearly suggests Andy and Larry Wachowski, the directors, had a sequel or two in mind. I didn't feel the strong need to see a Matrix sequel right away, but I was still curious about what else could be in store.

Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo(2003)

Starring:: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould

Screenplay by:: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds
Story by:: Andrew Stanton
Produced by:: Graham Walters
Directed by:: Andrew Stanton

A father fish searches the vast ocean for his lost son--and gets a little help along the way.

No matter how amazing the computer-generated animation looks, the success of any Pixar film has always been due to a great story--and Finding Nemo is one of the best. The film revolves around a clownfish named Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) who lives in the sunny Australian Great Barrier reef with his son, Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould). Marlin is an overprotective dad--stemming from some deep-rooted fears of the big, bad ocean--and the little guy resents him a little for it. When Nemo is fish-napped by some divers, all hell breaks loose as Marlin's paternal instincts take over, and he sets out on a quest to find his son. Along the way he meets many obstacles, as well as a bevy of characters who help his cause. Marlin's staunchest ally (whether she is actually of help or not), is Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), a brightly colored blue fish with a short-term memory problem. Over on land, Nemo is having an adventure of his own as he's placed in an aquarium in a Sydney dentist's office with a motley crew of wacky fish reminiscent of the gang in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Lead by the scarred-but-tough Gill (voiced by Willem Dafoe), the only agenda in this tank is to escape into the ocean nearby. The key to the story, however, is the fact Marlin and Nemo never give up on each other--and somehow, someway, they will be reunited.

Acting

Nemo has quite a lineup of famous voices--almost too many--but it's still fun to pick them all out. Along with the hyperactive Brooks, the wounded Dafoe and the ditzy DeGeneres, there's Allison Janney as the sarcastic starfish Peach who is the aquarium's constant lookout 'cause she's stuck to the side; Brad Garrett as blowhard blowfish Bloat, Geoffrey Rush as the kindly yet clumsy pelican Nigel, who enjoys a brief chat with his aquarium fish friends; Aussie actor Barry Humphries (Dame Edna) as the Great White shark Bruce, a recovering fish-a-holic on a 12-step program; Pixar favorite John Ratzenberger as a collective school of moonfish who love to do impressions; and even writer/director Andrew Stanton gets in the act as the totally bitchin' turtle Crush, who just lives for a smooth ride. They are all wonderful, but DeGeneres stands out as the best of the bunch as the confused Dory, who for the life of her cannot remember who Marlin is after about 30 seconds, let alone the name of his son, Elmo, er, Nemo, but is cheerfully positive anyway. The comedienne nails the part and you can almost see those great Ellen expressions on Dory's face.

Direction
It's kind of sad how taken-for-granted computer-generated animation has become. Remember being blown away by how real everything looked (except the humans, of course) in 1995's Toy Story? Finding Nemo's animation is also the highest of quality, but you aren't necessarily wowed by it. The details in the film are almost flawless, down to the way the fish swim, the way the jellyfish sway and how the Sydney harbor looks perfect. Even the look and sound of seagulls are perfectly mimicked, especially by having the birds say only one word: ''Mine!'' Nemo ends up a very entertaining movie without the distraction of wondering how it was created. This is a true testament to the crew of Pixar animators who make it look so easy and most importantly to Stanton's meticulous work. He understands explicitly how to carve out a very simple, heartfelt, albeit hysterical tale while bringing to life a cache of wonderfully vibrant and defined characters. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

Conclusion
Just when you thought they couldn't possibly do it again, especially after the mega-hit Monsters, Inc., the guys at Pixar bat it out of the park with Finding Nemo.

Ocean's Eleven
½

The film opens with con man extraordinaire Danny Ocean (Clooney) being released from prison. Rather then mending his ways, he immediately contacts cardsharp Rusty Ryan (Pitt) with a proposal. Ocean plans on recruiting the creme de la creme of grifters and involving them in a scheme to rob three Las Vegas casinos at the same time, hauling in a cool $150 million.

He ends up with 11 (hence the title) of the best in the business, portrayed by some of the creme de la creme of young -- and old -- Hollywood.

It's a thrill to watch these pros do their thing, particularly Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould. These two Hollywood veterans are picture-perfect. Reiner is truly hilarious playing Saul Bloom, a retired flimflam man brought out of mothballs for one last heist. Gould is resplendent as Reuben Tishkoff, a former casino owner muscled out by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), an elegant and ruthless businessman who owns the three casinos marked for the hit. Benedict also happens to be the current squeeze of Danny's ex-wife, Tess, played by Roberts.

This connection is where things get interesting, since Ocean really has two objectives: hitting the casinos and hitting on his ex-wife. Knocking over the casinos will be the easy part.

Clooney is every inch the movie star in this twisty caper flick. Dressed in black tie, with his wiseass grin firmly in place, Clooney glides through this movie like a hot knife through butter. Pitt is perfectly pitched as Clooney's number-one sidekick, and the chemistry between the two stars bubbles.

Saw II
Saw II(2005)

Saw II is a 2005 horror movie distributed by Lions Gate Films. It stars Donnie Wahlberg, Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Erik Knudsen, and Franky G. The writers are Leigh Whannell and Darren Lynn Bousman. The director is Darren Lynn Bousman.

The story opens with an informant named Michael with a split spiked mask locked around his neck. He is told to use the scalpel to cut out the key to the device, which is behind his eye. He is unable to in time and the mask closes on his face. Detective Eric Matthews is called to the scene because Jigsaw wrote his name on the ceiling. They locate Jigsaw in an old abandoned steel factory. They easily capture him but not before he informs Matthews that his son is being held captive in an old house somewhere with some of the criminals that the detective had framed in the past. In three hours, the doors to the house will open. Unfortunately, they only have two hours to locate the antidotes of a poisonous gas they're breathing in the house. One of these people is a survivor of one of Jigsaw's "games" from the first film, Amanda Young. There are several antidotes located throughout the house and each one involves getting past one of Jigsaw's traps. Another one of these particular traps is the one where Addison, one of the women in the group, finds an antidote inside a glass box hanging from the ceiling. There is also a tape with instructions on it but Addison carelessly throws the tape away. She reaches into the box from two holes underneath. She spills the antidote before she can get it out. When she tries to pull her arms free, she can't because the holes she reached into were lined with razor blades. The more Addison tries to pull her arms out, the deeper the blades cut into them.

To wrap, Saw II really allows us to get a much better look at the man behind the traps, John Kramer. The film tells us more of his backstory. I highly recommend it!

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
½

not seen yet bt willing to see. good series.

White Chicks
White Chicks(2004)

Genre : Comedy
Starring:: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Jaime King, Frankie Faison


Screenplay by:: Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Xavier Cook, Andy McElfresh, Michael Anthony Snowden
Story by:: Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans

Produced by:: Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Rick Alvarez, Lee R. Mayes
Directed by:: Keenen Ivory Wayans

In the opening scene of White Chicks, two renegade FBI agents, brothers Kevin and Marcus Copeland (played by real life brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans), try to foil a drug deal, but a case of mistaken identity thwarts their attempt at heroism. "Our intelligence was a little off," they explain. They could say that again. It's the only time in this affirmatively silly comedy that intelligence is involved.

White Chicks' director and co-writer Keenan Ivory Wayans has, along with his brothers Shawn and Marlon, helped establish the Wayans clan's reputation for producing lowbrow high concept humour. It's a tradition the trio continue with the fatuous White Chicks. Cinema history boasts many plots centered on men posing as women; two hilarious and memorable classic examples being Some Like It Hot and Tootsie. Needless to say White Chicks is not exactly in that league. Though it conjures a rare chuckle, its impact is forgotten well before the final credits end.

The idea of two black men passing themselves off as a pair of spoilt white socialites, ? la the Hilton sisters Paris and Nicky, was the brainchild of Shawn Wayans who was inspired by a magazine article about Hampton socialites. What may have appeared on first thought to have been a good idea would, on the evidence of the resulting movie, have benefited from a second thought. One gag does not a movie make.

The tenuous plot on which this joke hangs involves the two inept Copeland brothers who, in a desperate attempt to win back their jobs following their earlier screw-up, volunteer for the task of minding the young Wilson heiresses Brittany and Tiffany (Maitland Ward and Anne Dudek). The girls, targets for a kidnapping ring, are heading to the Hamptons for the social gathering of the season. When a car accident leaves both girls nursing minor cuts, neither can face the ridicule of their privileged peers. Fearing the pair's non-appearance would jeopardize their jobs, the brothers go in their stead, transforming themselves with the aid of a conveniently accessible make-up and prosthetic team.

Their resulting appearance is more disturbing than convincing, with both resembling more statuesque bleached drag artists than the dumb debs. However, their dissimilarity barely solicits more than an occasional arched brow. Like all those the imposters encounter, including Brittany and Tiffany's friends Karen (Busy Philipps), Tori (Jessica Cauffiel) and Lisa (Jennifer Carpenter), it's better not to ask too many questions. There's little in White Chicks that bears up to much scrutiny. Such an improbable premise is best enjoyed by those who prefer the only sense in their films to be prefixed with the word 'non'.

For those, the sight of the brothers endeavouring to squeeze into figure-hugging women's outfits or fending off the advances of male admirers will provide plenty of laughs. And if that doesn't work, then there's plenty of good ol' reliable fart gags. Making fun of stupid rich white girls is all too easy. It's just watching it that's hard.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Jim carry always rocks, In movie Jim Carrey performed the role of detective.
His comedy is awesome.

Titanic
Titanic(1997)

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane

Director: James Cameron

Titanic is a romance, an adventure, and a thriller all rolled into one. It contains moments of exuberance, humor, pathos, and tragedy. In their own way, the characters are all larger-than- life, but they're human enough (with all of the attendant frailties) to capture our sympathy. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Titanic is that, even though Cameron carefully recreates the death of the ship in all of its terrible grandeur, the event never eclipses the protagonists. To the end, we never cease caring about Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Titanic sank during the early morning hours of April 15, 1912 in the North Atlantic, killing 1500 of the 2200 on board. The movie does not begin in 1912, however -- instead, it opens in modern times, with a salvage expedition intent on recovering some of the ship's long-buried treasure. The expedition is led by Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton), a fortune hunter who is searching for the mythical "Heart of the Ocean", a majestic 56 karat diamond which reputedly went down with the ship. After seeing a TV report about the salvage mission, a 101-year old woman (Gloria Stuart) contacts Brock with information regarding the jewel. She identifies herself as Rose DeWitt Bukater, a survivor of the tragedy. Brock has her flown out to his ship. Once there, she tells him her version of the story of Titanic's ill-fated voyage.

The bulk of the film -- well over 80% of its running time -- is spent in flashbacks. We pick up the story on the day that Titanic leaves Southampton, with jubilant crowds cheering as it glides away from land. On board are the movie's three main characters: Rose, a young American debutante trapped in a loveless engagement because her mother is facing financial ruin; Cal Hockley (Billy Zane), her rich-but-cold-hearted fiancé; and Jack Dawson, a penniless artist who won his third-class ticket in a poker game. When Jack first sees Rose, it's from afar, but circumstances offer him the opportunity to become much closer to her. As the voyage continues, Jack and Rose grow more intimate, and she tries to summon up the courage to defy her mother (Frances Fisher) and break off her engagement. But, even with the aid of an outspoken rich women named Molly Brown (Kathy Bates), the barrier of class looms as a seemingly-insurmountable obstacle. Then, when circumstances in the Rose/Cal/Jack triangle are coming to a head, Titanic strikes an iceberg and the "unsinkable" ship (that term is a testament to man's hubris) begins to go down.

By keeping the focus firmly on Rose and Jack, Cameron avoids one frequent failing of epic disaster movies: too many characters in too many stories. When a film tries to chronicle the lives and struggles of a dozen or more individuals, it reduces them all to cardboard cut-outs. In Titanic, Rose and Jack are at the fore from beginning to end, and the supporting characters are just that -- supporting. The two protagonists (as well as Cal) are accorded enough screen time for Cameron to develop multifaceted personalities.

As important as the characters are, however, it's impossible to deny the power of the visual effects. Especially during the final hour, as Titanic undergoes its death throes, the film functions not only as a rousing adventure with harrowing escapes, but as a testimony to the power of computers to simulate reality in the modern motion picture. The scenes of Titanic going under are some of the most awe-inspiring in any recent film. This is the kind of movie that it's necessary to see more than once just to appreciate the level of detail.

One of the most unique aspects of Titanic is its use of genuine documentary images to set the stage for the flashback story. Not satisfied with the reels of currently-existing footage of the sunken ship, Cameron took a crew to the site of the wreck to do his own filming. As a result, some of the underwater shots in the framing sequences are of the actual liner lying on the ocean floor. Their importance and impact should not be underestimated, since they further heighten the production's sense of verisimilitude.

For the leading romantic roles of Jack and Rose, Cameron has chosen two of today's finest young actors. Leonardo DiCaprio (Romeo + Juliet), who has rarely done better work, has shed his cocky image. Instead, he's likable and energetic in this part -- two characteristics vital to establishing Jack as a hero. Meanwhile, Kate Winslet, whose impressive resume includes Sense and Sensibility, Hamlet, and Jude, dons a flawless American accent along with her 1912 garb, and essays an appealing, vulnerable Rose. Billy Zane comes across as the perfect villain -- callous, arrogant, yet displaying true affection for his prized fiancé. The supporting cast, which includes Kathy Bates, Bill Paxton, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill (as Titanic's captain), and David Warner (as Cal's no-nonsense manservant), is flawless.

While Titanic is easily the most subdued and dramatic of Cameron's films, fans of more frantic pictures like Aliens and The Abyss will not be disappointed. Titanic has all of the thrills and intensity that movie-goers have come to expect from the director. A dazzling mix of style and substance, of the sublime and the spectacular, Titanic represents Cameron's most accomplished work to date. It's important not to let the running time hold you back -- these three-plus hour pass very quickly. Although this telling of the Titanic story is far from the first, it is the most memorable, and is deserving of Oscar nominations not only in the technical categories, but in the more substantive ones of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

New chracter's b"Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer" reminds you that there's always room in the middle of the road. Fox presents the blue suited Marvel comics superhero team straight up and like something groomed to be cancelled after six episodes on Friday night TV. There's no edgy this or dark that, just an expensive and loud couple of hours of costumed heroes out and about on a big screen.

The studio attempts to help settle their stomachs about the film production costs, by lining the frames with greedy corporate advertising. At one point Johnny Storm plays into the corporate sellout possibilities by wearing a logo laden version of the Fantastic Four costume. This seems like cheeky fun until the Fantasticar turns out to be a dodge, with a Hemi no less as Reed Richards confirms. Of course it is.

To its credit, the Fantastic Four sequel succeeds where it was successful before. Michael Chiklis continues to be the perfect person to play the Thing, Jessica Alba still makes for a hot Invisible Woman, and Julian McMahon presents Dr Doom as creepy as he needs to be. With the origin story out of the way, FF2 lets the characters develop and we see the team interact on the level that readers have been following since they were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961.

The introduction of the Silver Surfer is handled reasonably well, despite there being barely a glimpse of the shadow of Galactus. And remarkably, Fox has managed to even make the tragic story of Norrin Radd more tragic by forever linking the Silver Surfer with a widespread federal crime committed as part of a recent publicity stunt for the movie.

Earlier this year, Fox partnered with the Franklin Mint and took forty thousand quarters and emblazoned an image of the silver surfer on them and then set them loose into circulation around the country over the Memorial Day weekend. And even though "the Fantastic Four" movies remind us that we live in a world where corporate advertising has infested every surface of our day to day lives, the US government hasn't sold out the space on our money yet. And when that happens we'll need a different kind of superhero team than the Fantastic Four to help us.

Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

The primary focus will be on the ordeal of Dwight McCarthy (a duel role played by Josh Brolin and Clive Owen.) An aspiring photographer, Dwight is forced to take jobs as hired muscle for a rotund sleaze merchant moonlighting as a P.I. While he is no stranger to beating down the scummiest elements the city has to offer, nothing would prepare him for the malicious machinations that would await him.

Dwight's old flame, Ava Lord (yet to be cast) has intruded her way back into his life after breaking his heart years earlier. Now desperately asking for his help, she claims to be stuck in a horrific and abusive marriage to a rich and powerful mogul named Damien Lord (casting yet to be revealed). Initially reluctant to help, Dwight finds himself seduced by the voluptuous victim and in the process of "helping," ends up a pushover patsy, ensnared into her web of sex and murder. He'll need the help of his part-time lover, Gail (Rosario Dawson) and the dangerous Girls of Old Town (aka, the back-alley hooker army) to take control of the situation and gain revenge.

Shifting focus to another story of the film, a chapter entitled "The Long Bad Night" focuses on an original story of a character named Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a cocky gambler who utilizes his skills with chance to hoodwink the biggest villain in all of Sin City. Presumably, this is the mysterious Mob Boss, Wallenquist, whose criminal tentacles are firmly-affixed in all the various chapters of the Sin City mythos. For Johnny, however, it seems that his overconfidence was rooted either in delusion or ignorance, as he dares to beat this monolithic mastermind at his own rigged game. In doing so, extremely bad things are in the works for him.

2013 Movie Preview: Sin City: A Dame To Kill ForAnother original story will once again feature Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) and her childhood protector, Detective John Hartigan (Bruce Willis, who has been confirmed to return). Details of this story are still under wraps, but it is believed to be something that will properly tie into the events of the first film's "That Yellow Bastard" storyline. In fact, rumors point to it taking place after the events of the first film, which culminated in Hartigan's ultimate sacrifice to protect Nancy.

The film will also see Mickey Rourke return as the thick-chinned, lovestruck tough guy, "Marv" for some violent involvement in Dwight's story. He'll also get a chapter of his own in another tale (obviously) set well before his fateful date with an electric chair in the first film. It will also feature the return of Jamie King as Marv's amorous muses in twins, "Goldie" and "Wendy."

8 years removed from the release of the first film, casting substitutions had to be made. Dennis Haysbert steps in as a pre-occular-injury version of enforcer, "Manute" to replace the late Michael Clarke Duncan. Also, Jamie Chung will play the sword-swinging soiled dove, "Miho," replacing Devon Aoki, who left acting behind for motherhood. However, the role of "Shellie," played by the late Brittany Murphy still needs to be filled.

While the film's visual style may not experience too many creative deviations, it is interesting to note that this follow-up is being shot in full 3D with the latest post-Avatar era technology. Such a thing might complement the film's unique black and white styling in which the crimson color of blood is the only chromatic deviation. With an inevitable hard-R rating set for the film, expect to see streams of blood splattering at your face.

At this point, there are several confirmed cast members, but identifying exactly who some of them will be playing remains a mystery. This, however, may be by design, since Robert Rodriguez has implied in interviews that we will be surprised over the coming months about the revelation of exactly which cast members play what roles. As for now, the most notable vacancy is for the role of Ava, the titillating, titular "dame" who, after gratuitous sessions of skinny-dipping, reveals herself as the cruel villainess of the film.

The Eye
The Eye(2008)

The violinist Sydney Wells has been blind since she was five years old due to an accident. She submits to a surgery of cornea transplantation to recover her vision, and while recovering from the operation, she realizes that she's having strange visions. With the support of Dr. Paul Faulkner, Sidney finds who the donor of her eyes and begins a journey to find out the truth behind her visions.

Sydney (Jessica Alba), blind since the age of 5, Sydney is unprepared when a cornea transplant not only restores her sight but also allows her to see dead people. "The Eye" benefits from a spiky performance by Alessandro Nivola as Sydney's rehabilitation counselor. "Your eyes are not the problem," he tells her at one point. He is so, so right. "The Eye" is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It has bleeding eyeballs, burning corpses and screaming violins.

Fantastic Four

Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Well, it was bound to happen again. No, I don't mean that the sun will surely rise in the east, as it always does. I mean, another attempt has been made to bring a comic book to the silver screen. Fantastic Four is another attempt by the movie studios to cash in on the comic book craze. Unfortunately, the one point that they miss time and again, is that no one gives a fuck about lame superheroes like The Fantastic Four! Really! Does anyone even read that shit? They should have learned from "Daredevil," "Catwoman," "Elektra" . . .

Back to the movie . . . since it's not all bad. Granted, I could care less about Reed Richards (the elastic guy), Sue Storm (the invisible chick), Johnny Storm (the fire guy) or Ben Grimm (the big stony fucker), but I did like how Chris Evans portrayed Johnny Storm. He embraced his powers. He simply loved having them! It was great to see a change from the "how do I deal with this power" or "how do I get rid of this, I want to me normal" bullshit. I know I would go shit crazy with extraordinary powers, so it was a definite refresher to see someone embrace their powers as I would.

That's about all that is good in Fantastic Four. I sure as hell don't see all the hoopla over Jessica Alba (she plays Sue Storm). Sure she's got a decent body, but I keep getting drawn to her lazy eye. Lazy eyes fuck everything up for me. Can't get past them. Overall, the acting is weak, the character development is rather light - am I supposed to care that Reed has commitment issues? or that Ben's wife leaves him one day after his accident? (what a complete bitch, by the way). Even the so-called action was a snorefest. Nothing exciting here, unless you want to play: Pick out the obvious CGI effects.

Awake
Awake(2007)

As they say, this is the stuff that horror films are made of, and Awake tries to fill that niche. Unfortunately, it's not much of a horror film. Actually, it's not much of anything.

Clayton Beresford Jr. (Hayden Christensen) is a young man who has everything; heir to untold wealth, seemingly loyal friends (Terrence Howard, for one), and a lovely girlfriend (Jessica Alba).

He also has the Ice Queen (Lena Olin) as a mother ... and a bad ticker. But welcome news arrives when a replacement heart is located and Clay is soon prepped and put under the knife of his good friend. As the anesthesia kicks in (but doesn't exactly) our hero comes to the painful awareness that all is not as it seems.

It's never a good sign when a film has to rely on a narrator, or use flashbacks to progress the story, and in no way is Awake the film to rise above lazy narrative devices. The script is loaded with soap-opera mechanizations, out-of-body loopiness and faux-medical flapdoodle that is blatantly preposterous even to the layman. Even worse, the film never really explores the high-concept hook that the premise dangles on.

And while Christensen has shown that he is a capable actor in the right hands (say, as in the excellent Shattered Glass), he is also extraordinarily embarrassing to endure in the wrong (say, George Lucas). As exhibited here, writer/director Joby Harold falls into the latter category and leaves Christensen prone to a painful (to the viewer) emoting that eventually becomes ludicrous.

Alba is cute, though.

Chill Factor
Chill Factor(1999)

"Chill Factor" is the story of a troubled drifter, Skeet Ulrich, a good kid at heart who got in some trouble and ran away from the consequences. In his travels, he makes friends with a scientist , David Paymer, a man with a heavy heart.

You see, ten years ago, Paymer - or 'Doc' as Skeet cleverly calls him - invented the worst chemical weapon ever. During a last-minute test of the weapon - or 'Elvis' as Doc cleverly calls it (providing much humor in lines such as "Elvis is approaching the stage" and "Elvis has left the building") the reaction destroys everything within a five mile radius. It also takes the lives of 18 men under the control of Major Brynner (portrayed by thrilling British actor Peter Firth. You may have seen him in the classic film, "LifeForce," a touching sci-fi romance in which Patrick Stewart throws up a bloody alien).

Brynner is blamed for the deaths of his men and is placed in jail for 10 years. And that brings us to the present day where Brynner is released and becomes evil. The audience knows he's bad because he glares at the camera when they release him. He doesn't even care about his country anymore, he only wants to steal Elvis and sell him to the highest bidder.

In order to do this, Brynner and his crew slit a lot of throats and shoot dear old Doc.

But through some miracle, the scientist is able to grab Elvis and outrun Brynner and his crew to the small diner that Skeet works at.

Meanwhile, Skeet has been having an encounter with good hearted ice cream deliverer Cuba Gooding Jr. What luck! You see Elvis must be kept under 55 mph - I mean 50 degrees Fahrenheit or else it will destroy all of Montana, and what a loss that would be. So after David Paymer's dramatic death scene, Cuba and Skeet are off on a fantastic adventure. They struggle to keep Elvis on ice as they traverse the countryside (although you may notice that Brynner walks around outside with Elvis in his arms for at least fifteen minutes.)

After many extremely tense moments, well, I don't mean to spoil it for you, but the good guys do what they normally do and the bad guys do what they normally do. And as Cuba and Skeet laugh about their ordeal and the credits begin to roll, you can almost hear a sigh rise through out the crowd - a single word on the tip of everyone's tongue. "Ridiculous""

Kull the Conqueror

Kull (Kevin Sorbo), a barbarian and warrior, becomes the king of Valusia when he kills the old king in battle. But to maintain his royal title, Kull must conquer many enemies, including Taligaro (Thomas Ian Griffith) - the head of Valusia's royal guard who wants to take over the throne. In hopes of ousting the king, Taligaro summons Akivasha (Tia Carrere), a 3,000-year-old demon whose looks could be deadly if Kull can't resist her.

I enjoy the fact that this was supposed to be a Conan film with Ah-nuld, but when he refused to sign on the filmmakers changed it to a Kull story (both characters were created by Robert E. Howard). In it, Conan had become the King of Aquilonia (as we saw in the foreshadowing in the first Conan film), instead of all the made-up shit in this film.

They could easily have replaced Conan with Bran Mak Morn, Black Turlogh, Solomon Kane or any of the other loner, mythic warriors that Howard wrote about. They were all pretty much the same. Except that Kane was a Puritan, um, and Conan believed in Crom.

The Fighter
The Fighter(2010)
½

Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) is a hero of Lowell, Mass., having fought Sugar Ray Leonard and knocked him down. While Dicky -- who's now a crack junkie and can't really handle any serious affairs -- prepares for his "comeback," his younger brother, Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg), is on the rise. With the help of his new girlfriend, Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams), Mickey must eventually decide to leave his family behind to seriously concentrate on his career. Can he make it on his own, or does he really need the help of his unreliable older brother?

The intense, almost biblical relationship of brothers is a time-honoured tradition in movie boxing. Director David O Russell effectively reverses the polarity of Brando's famous final speech in On the Waterfront: Dicky really was a contender, he really was somebody, and now that he's a bum, his brother Micky really is looking out for him - more than just a little bit - while trying to be a contender-somebody himself.

Russell has one really good scene: at the beginning, as his camera follows Dicky and Micky parading down the street, preening themselves in the neighbourhood, being followed by a camera crew recording what Dicky thinks is a positive documentary about his "comeback". In fact, it is something quite different. It ends with an exhilarating, disorientating whoosh as the camera suddenly reverses away from the scene, as if recoiling from imminent calamity.

Beowulf
Beowulf(2007)

The script for the film, which boasts two writers with cultish followings, Neil Gaiman (Stardust, Mirrormask) and Roger Avary (The Rules of Attraction, Pulp Fiction), had been in the works for almost a decade, finally coming to fruition with one of the more visually stunning films you're ever likely to see. While it may seem a bit on the overdone side for fans of the poem, as well as relatively unfaithful, it should nevertheless delight those who enjoy a good, hearty fantasy done with plenty of action and visual splendor.

In this cinematic telling, the legendary warrior Beowulf (voiced and acted in motion capture by Ray Winstone, The Departed) is brought in and implored for assistance from the goodly King Hrothgar (Hopkins, Fracture) in order to battle the dreaded and physically powerful demon named Grendel (Glover, Epic Movie), who has been tearing up the people of Heorot mercilessly for some time now. Beowulf eventually consents, taking on the vicious attacker with an impressive display, but discovers that Grendel is only the warrior and not the one truly in charge, as his mother (Jolie, The Good Shepherd) is a powerful goddess of magic who has the power to seduce Beowulf in ways that sheer brute force has never quite been able. An unholy alliance is formed, but not without the price of one's soul, and it soon becomes apparent that, yet again, something's rotten in the state of Heotor.

All things said, the text of "Beowulf" would prove nearly impossible to craft into a commercial motion picture if it were to adhere to complete slavish adaptation, as those great early epic stories, born from oral tradition, weren't exactly rife with depth of characters or motivations. Although a vaunted classic for its time, it's not the sort of story that really grips the very entertainment savvy audiences of today, as it can be very straightforward and simple to the point of redundancy at times. Gaiman and Avary do make their characters multifaceted, particularly in the case of Beowulf himself, who seemed much more as a superman figure in the original text than the very flawed character we are presented in the film.

Beowulf, while certainly a marvel of computer-aided design, and entertaining from a purely cinematic standpoint, is not a blow-you-away masterpiece. If there is a downside, it's a significant one that will either not bother you or make it wholly unpalatable, and that is that it is somewhat lacking a certain grandeur and the gripping tension that a live action epic would be able to foster, despite the realistic replications. Although Zemeckis does manage to craft as true-to-life a wholly 3D animated action flick as one can with current technology, there is still something cold, synthetic and lifeless to the look of the characters, as their eyes seem ever distant and their expressions eerily passionless. This is one case where it might have been a better choice for Zemeckis to revisit another one of his classics, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, to mix real-life actors with computer animated environs and monsters, even if it wouldn't distinguish itself from many other fantasy films to come out in the last decade.

If you enjoy rip-roaring adventures and dark fantasy spectacles, Beowulf certainly earns an easy recommendation, as it delivers more than enough action, intrigue and other-worldly elements to generate a sense of excitement from a purely escapist outlook to justify the money and time spent to watch it. For lovers of ancient literature, it doesn't come close to supplanting the baser pleasures of the original text, but from a modern standpoint, it does make for an interesting contrast in narrative elements to show how times have changed in terms of what audiences find appealing. Interesting that this umpteenth telling of the "Beowulf" epic would have no physical human presence, and yet still be the most humanizing version of these characters to date.

The Bone Collector

The Bone Collector is a suspense thriller that combines Rear Window and Seven. Two cops on the trail of a brutal serial killer must see as one, act as one, and think as one before the next victim falls. Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington) is an intelligent forensics detective who was paralyzed in the line of duty. The author of several books, he has a keen eye for detail and nose for clues that have made him a legend in the law enforcement community. Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie) is a street-smart policewoman in her twenties. On her last day as a street cop, before being transferred to a desk job, Amelia discovers a badly mutilated corpse. Rhyme is asked to investigate the case, but he declines. To him, it is an open-and-shut case not worth his time. But when he takes a close look at the evidence, he is intrigued, as the photos reveal complex messages in their details. The lunatic, who might be a taxi driver (a Scorsese allusion), amuses himself by paying homage to legendary murders in his own gruesome acts. Amelia is assigned to assist Rhyme, and she must be the eyes and ears of the quadriplegic detective. And they must capture the killer before he strikes again. Written by Jeremy Iacone and based on a book of the same title by Jeffrey Deaver, The Bone Collector was directed by the Australian thriller specialist Phillip Noyce, who directed such films as Clear and Present Danger and Dead Calm.

A Mighty Heart
½

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, could have been a disaster: cheap, movie-of-the-week-style exploitation of a sensational kidnapping and highly publicized killing. Instead, British director Michael Winterbottom and a fine cast headed by Angelina Jolie crafted an intricate policier that's both suspenseful and thoughtful about the turmoil surrounding Pearl's disappearance and the importance of what he and other journalists were attempting to do in what had become one of the most dangerous places on earth.

January 23, 2002: While most foreign journalists have already left Karachi, Pakistan, in the wake of the U.S. war against the Taliban, Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman), the Journal's South Asia bureau chief, and his pregnant wife, French public-radio reporter Mariane Pearl (Jolie), remain behind at the home of their friend and colleague, Asra Nomani (Archie Panjabi). Pearl is following a lead he hopes will take him to Sheikh Syed Mubarak Ali Gilani, an Islamist cleric who may be tied to so-called "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. Through a series of intermediaries, contacts and a mysterious "fixer" named "Bashir" (Aly Khan), a meeting between Pearl and Gilani is arranged at a Karachi restaurant. But unbeknownst to Pearl, Gilani isn't even in Karachi; the rendezvous is a carefully laid trap. When he fails to return home and calls to his cell phone go unanswered, Mariane begins to worry. The following morning, she contacts the police. As the fear that Danny has been kidnapped becomes a terrible likelihood, Asra's house fills with police, Journal colleagues, FBI agents, representatives from the U.S. consulate's Diplomatic Security Service, and Pakistani law-enforcement officers, including the head of the Crime Investigation Department's counterterrorism group (played by THE NAMESAKE's superb Irrfan Khan), who is determined not to allow a pack of insane kidnappers soil his country's honor. Several days later, a series of disturbing e-mails and photographs are sent to U.S. newspapers: Pearl is shown handcuffed with a gun to his head, the prisoner of terrorists who accuse him of spying for the CIA. It's a ridiculous accusation, but Mariane prays the kidnappers don't know the one thing that will surely get him killed in a culture warped by anti-Semitic disinformation: Daniel Pearl is Jewish.

A MIGHTY HEART is in many ways a companion piece to Winterbottom's previous film, THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO, which followed the ordeal of three Englishmen of Pakistani descent who were accused of being enemy fighters in Afghanistan and held without trial at Guantanamo Bay's notorious Camp X Ray. Winterbottom shows the way reports of such abuses helped fuel the anti-American rage in terrorists like Pearl's murderers, and the film is a fitting tribute to Pearl and other journalists who died trying to explain the turmoil, hatred, corruption and confusion to the rest of the world, a chaos reflected in cinematographer Marcel Zyskind's footage of Karachi. Though absurdly criticized for being too "white" to play Mariane Pearl, Jolie gives an excellent performance. She portrays Mariane as gutsy, smart, passionate and highly efficient in the search for her husband, though brown contact lenses lend her expression a dead-eyed stare that's at complete odds with the spark evident in Mariane Pearl's face even during her darkest days.

Alexander
Alexander(2004)

The character of Alexander is presented in simplistic Freudian terms that would be an excellent starting point from which an actor could build a character, but the film does nothing to shade Alexander's character, and he becomes more and more difficult to care about. The fascinating aspect of the film is Alexander's very close relationship to his lifelong friend Hephaistion (Jared Leto). While this film never shows the two getting physical with each other, Stone certainly suggests that the pair knew each other in the Biblical sense, and hints at how the relationship often brings out the best in his main character. Considering the occasional homophobia in some of Stone's films, this relationship makes for a pleasant surprise. However, the female characters are treated as shabbily as they usually are in Stone's work. Angelina Jolie, in a performance that can only be described as extreme, was obviously encouraged to play it "big." This leads to a few moments of interest, but it also makes one think that she might have watched Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest in order to prepare. Rosario Dawson manages a few interesting moments, until Alexander beds her, at which point Stone seems to lose all interest in her. Oliver Stone has always been earnest when detailing his heroes (Jim Morrison, Jim Garrison, Ron Kovic), but never before has he assumed that his audience shared his fascination. That assumption makes Alexander a chore to experience.

The Ghost Writer

Ewan McGregor plays a character - nameless in both the book and the movie and listed in the credits simply as "The Ghost" - who is hired to ghostwrite the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) after his previous collaborator is found mysteriously washed up on the shores of Martha's Vineyard. Lang is encamped in a luxurious, isolated house on the island while conducting a stateside lecture tour. This luxury is no match for the drizzly grayness of the location. As Lang's tart wife, Ruth (a first-rate Olivia Williams), puts it, it's like being exiled with Napoleon in St. Helena.

A bigger storm brews when Lang's former foreign minister (Robert Pugh) agitates in public for Lang to be tried in The Hague for colluding in the kidnapping of four Pakistani terrorists who were subsequently delivered to the CIA for torture. (One of the terrorists died.) While all this is going on, The Ghost uncovers, accidentally, evidence left by Ghost No. 1 about Lang's iffy past. He fears he will suffer the same fate as his predecessor.

It would be a mistake to take this uniformly well-acted film seriously as a political "statement." Yes, it features a nefarious corporation with a name that sounds suspiciously like Halliburton, and Lang, who is clearly based on Tony Blair, is portrayed here as a mindless lackey of the Bush administration. And yet all this registers lightly. I suppose one could object to the issues of rendition and torture being employed in such a cavalier fashion, but, at its core, "The Ghost Writer" is about The Ghost's tentative, almost accidental skullduggery. He is the archetypal Hitchcock hero, an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. The entire political apparatus that surrounds him is a classic example of a Hitchcockian "McGuffin" - a great white shark that proves to be a red herring.

It took me a while to decipher all the whorls and curvatures in the plot, but I chalk that up to my ineptitude and not Polanski's. The film comes together in the end in a way that makes sense of everything that came before. "The Ghost Writer" is minor Polanski but it's one of the rare thrillers these days that plays up to you instead of down.

Terminator Salvation
½

Christian Bale plays John Connor - prophetic leader of the human Resistance - who gets his own action sequence in the beginning before quickly being regulated to a minor player for most of the film. We've spent several movies and a television show hearing how important this character is and he's literally relegated to a background character while the rest of the movie follows around new guy Marcus (Sam Worthington), a death row convict who donated his body to science only to wake up in the future ruled by machines. Marcus hooks up with Kyle Reese (Connor's future time-traveling pop) and a mute kid, and most of the film is spent following them through endless action sequences as they try to make it to the Resistance.

Terminator: SalvationBale is one of this generation's best actors, but his performance as Connor is the most one-note of his career. He has absolutely nothing to do other than scream bad one-liners at the top of his lungs (no wonder he blew up on set) while Worthington and the rest of the cast try hard to look macho for the camera. You can't blame the cast, though, since they're coming from a workmanlike director and an absolutely terrible screenplay (that was written and re-written on the fly by over a dozen names). Despite a few nods and inventive cameos, you'll have to keep reminding yourself that you're actually watching a Terminator film.

Not only does this future look nothing like the previous films, there are several new Terminators that look and act as if they stumbled out of a Saturday morning Robo-Tech cartoon. We get giant harvester machines that are nothing more than Transformers clones as well as some ridiculous motorcycle machines (dubbed Moto-Terminators) that ride around and don't do much of anything. There was a time when we really feared these iconic antagonists ... now they just feel designed to sell Happy Meal toys.

And since when did Terminators stop terminating? True to its PG-13 rating, Salvation feels neutered and marketed for teens, ditching the dark survivalist feel of Cameron's future for a more family-friendly apocalypse. This time the machines rarely kill anyone and seem more concerned with capturing humans, putting them in cages, and shuffling them through long lines in endless warehouses. When their master plan involves kidnapping Kyle Reese to lure out John Connor, instead of simply killing him to prevent all that time travel stuff from happening, you can't help but wonder why the machines were smart enough to become self-aware.

The only things McG gets right are the action sequences, which is probably what landed him the gig. If you watched this franchise to get a kick out of stunts and vehicular mayhem and never cared once about things like plot and characters, then you'll probably find plenty to love about Salvation. Virtually the entire movie is a string of action set-pieces with plenty of impressive razzle dazzle, but since none of it carries any weight and there are no stakes to anything, it's hard to care about what is unfolding.

Overall, watching Terminator Salvation is like watching Brett Ratner take over the X-Men franchise. No matter how much it tries to respect the source material, we're left with a flashy plotless imitation with familiar characters reduced to ... well, robots.

From Dusk Till Dawn

Genre Action, drama, Horror

In this action-horror flick from director Robert Rodriguez and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, Tarantino stars with George Clooney as a pair of bad-to-the-bone brothers named Seth and Richie Gecko. After a string of robberies that left a river of blood in the Geckos' wake, the sadistic siblings head to Mexico to live the good life. To get over the border, they kidnap Jacob Fuller, a widowed preacher played by Harvey Keitel, and his two children, Kate (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu). Once south of the border, the quintet park their RV at a rough-and-tumble trucker bar called The Titty Twister, where Seth and Richie are supposed to meet a local thug. After a couple of drinks, they realize that they're not in a typical bar, as the entire place begins to teem with vicious, blood-sucking vampires. With the odds stacked greatly against them, the Fullers and Geckos team together in hopes of defeating the creatures of the night. Makeup artist Tom Savini and blaxploitation star Fred Williamson appear as allies against the vampires, and Cheech Marin fills three different roles.

Batman Begins

Genre(s): Action, Drama, Thriller, Crime

Batman's renaissance started here. After the cataclysmic train wreck that was Batman and Robin, Warner Bros, in a move that is now depressingly commonplace in Hollywood, opted for a complete reboot of the franchise.

It's the origin story that was only mentioned during Tim Burton's Batman in 1989. Whilst on a night out, ten year-old Bruce Wayne, son and heir to the Wayne household, witnesses the shocking murder of his parents in cold blood. As an adult, he channels his inner anger and guilt as a masked vigilante known as Batman. His goal? To strike fear into those who prey on the fearful.

Familiar though this may be, Nolan spends the majority of the first hour detailing Wayne's fall from grace. We have never known the-man-who-would-be-Batman in quite so much detail and intimacy, his quest for revenge against the man who shot his parents, his disappearance from Gotham for seven years, his time in prison and, most crucially, his time with the League of Shadows, all given their own individual moments to form a whole. For once, we know why Bruce Wayne became Batman beyond merely the death of his parents. By the time we see Batman standing iconically amid Gotham's skyline, we feel like we finally get the man behind the mask.

It's a testament to Nolan that he has faith in his audience. As he has proven throughout his career, he understands that many film-goers are not stupid and, whilst Batman Begins remains very much a comic book movie, he asks us to empathise with our lost and wounded protagonist before any superhero antics start. There is an underlying motive behind Wayne's decision to become Gotham's protector that makes the final hour, where the plot fully kicks in, that more tense (helped in no small part by a third act twist that brings his past back to confront him, quite literally).

The sincerity towards Batman, Gordon (Gary Oldman), Luscious Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) gives the third act's diabolical plan to destroy Gotham the required weight to evoke an emotional response. Despite ultimately being outshone by its successor, the stakes during the climax of Batman Begins are huge and whilst Batman wins, it is not without cost (the Narrows, home of Arkham Asylum, completely succumb to the effect of Dr. Crane's Fear toxin), proving that for all his good intentions, Batman, whilst a new symbol of hope for the city of Gotham, is still human.

Nolan's lack of action directing at the time of production shows in places as many of the set-pieces feel choppy and at times a little incoherent, yet this is the only major gripe with a film that does so much so well. As our first taste as to what Nolan can do with a summer blockbuster, it emphasised that a studio tent poll can have smarts amongst the bangs. The key thing, however, is that once you finish watching, you legitimately believe that a psychologically damaged billionaire can become a masked vigilante.

The Tourist
The Tourist(2010)
½

One thing that is for sure is that writer/director von Donnersmarck's intentions are clear. This is a film that isn't trying too hard to be Bond, Bourne or Salt, but has it's gaze fixed firmly on the old school knockabout charm of the mega-star Hollywood vehicle of yesteryear, and in that capacity it comes away with some credit.

The distinct absence of high-tempo action, or laugh out loud gags might lead to some confusion over what exactly it is the film is trying to achieve, but there's a wry undertone of humour that channelled through the hypnotic presence of Angelina Jolie, and the dashing sight of Johnny Depp is hard to deny. The secret agent plot line is faintly interesting and for the most part, the likes of Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton in supporting roles are there to merely fill the gaps, but with so much star quality in attendance through Jolie and Depp, there is something altogether irresistible about seeing them share the screen when framed so beautifully against the stunning Venetian backdrop. I'm guessing this is the selling point the films financial backers were hoping would prove to pay dividends.

Conan the Barbarian

This is story of the sword and sorcery hero, Conan the Barbarian. Complementing Mulius's heavy metal production is Arnold Schwarzenegger's leaden acting, which in any other context would be deadly, but here (as in The Terminator) corresponds nicely with the whole sonorous project. The story begins when a horde of rampaging warriors massacre the parents of young Conan and enslave the young child for years on The Wheel of Pain. The Wheel of Pain seems to have as its only purpose the building up of Conan's muscles, so it's no surprise that one day Conan grows up to become Arnold Schwarzenegger. As the sole survivor of the childhood massacre, Conan is released from slavery and taught the ancient arts of fighting. Transforming himself into a killing machine, Conan travels into the wilderness to seek vengeance on Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the man responsible for killing his family. In the wilderness, Conan takes up with the thieves Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) and Subota (Gerry Lopez). The trio comes upon a weird snake cult, linked to Doom, and Conan wants to trek off to Doom's mountain retreat to kill him. But he is prevented from doing that by King Osrik (Max Von Sydow), who wants the trio of warriors to help rescue his daughter who has joined Doom in the hills.

Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)

The film begins in the future, long after a virus has ravaged humankind and contaminated the earth's surface, forcing the survivors underground until a cure can be developed. Criminals are routinely "volunteered" to venture up to the surface to collect specimens and to observe and one such convict, James Cole (Bruce Willis), proves so useful at this task that he's given the opportunity to travel back to the past. His reward upon his return will be a pardon and his mission is obtain a pure sample of the virus - there is no hope that he can do anything to stop the virus; all he can do is bring the scientists of the future something they can work with so that humanity can be restored to the earth's surface.

The virus spreads across the earth in 1997 and so Cole is sent back to 1996. The only problem is that time travel technology hasn't been perfected yet so he's actually sent back to 1990, where he promptly ends up first in police custody and then in a mental institution. There he meets two key people: his psychiatrist, Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), and fellow patient Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt). He's eventually transported back to the future and given another opportunity to travel to 1996, though once again he goes too far back, this time ending up in the middle of a trench during WWI. When he finally does get to 1996, he kidnaps Kathryn and takes her in search of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, a terrorist organization with Goines at its head. Kathryn believes he's delusional but as they proceed further on their journey, she begins to realize that he really is from the future and that she has to find a way to help him.

The screenplay, written by David and Janet Peoples and inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film Le Jette, is strong enough, though I think that it tips its hand too early and starts telegraphing the ending pretty much from the beginning. Gilliam's direction and the acting - particularly from Pitt - make up for any shortcomings however. Pitt is always at his best when playing weirdoes and psychos and though he comes incredibly close to over-acting here, his complete commitment to the character makes it work. His twitchy, hyper-active performance also plays well against the more subdued performances by Willis and Stowe. All in all 12 Monkeys holds up very well and is eminently enjoyable.

10,000 B.C.
10,000 B.C.(2008)

In this movie a remote mountain tribe, the young hunter D'Leh has found his heart's passion: the beautiful Evolet. But when a band of mysterious warlords raid his village and kidnap Evolet, D'Leh leads a small group of hunters to pursue the warlords to the end of the world to save her. As they venture into unknown lands for the first time, the group discovers there are civilizations beyond their own and that humankind's reach is far greater than they ever knew. At each encounter, the group is joined by other tribes who have been attacked by the slave raiders, which turns D'Leh's once-small band into an army. Driven by destiny, the unlikely warriors must battle prehistoric predators while braving the harshest elements. At their heroic journey's end, they uncover a lost civilization and learn their ultimate fate lies in an empire beyond imagination, where great pyramids reach into the skies. Here they will take their stand against a tyrannical god who has brutally enslaved their own. And it is here that D'Leh finally comes to understand that he has been called to save not only Evolet but all of civilization.

Tropic Thunder

GENRE: Action, Comedy, War

Ben Stiller is back and Robert Downey Jr. is Black! In "Tropic Thunder," Stiller proves that he still has some originality and satire in his comedic repertoire. This star-studded farce features a truly all-star cast, with minor roles going to Matthew McConaughey and Tom Cruise, as well as cameos by Tyra Banks, Alicia Silverstone, Lance Bass, Jon Voight, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Jason Bateman.

Stiller writes, directs, and stars in this smart movie about five actors who were having difficulty getting into character as they were filming a military biopic based upon the Vietnam memoirs of John "Four Leaf" Tayback (Nick Nolte). Dissatisfied with their performance, Tayback convinces neophyte director, Damien Cockburn, to take the actors on a real tour of duty in the jungles of Vietnam-the actors just don't know they are being dropped into a heavily guarded section of an international heroin ring. Facing certain death, the actors: Academy Award-winner Kirk Lazarus (played by Robert Downey Jr.) who has chemically altered his skin to portray the Black sergeant; Tugg Speedman (Stiller) who is trying to make a comeback after a string of disappointing films; Jeff Portnoy (played by Jack Black) is a rising star having played a family of characters who enjoyed farting-a la the Klumps from the Nutty Professor fame; Brandon Jackson plays a rapper-turned-actor Alpa Chino; and Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) who is just breaking into the acting world-must fight their way out of the jungle.

This film has raised the ire of some civil rights groups for Downey's blackface performance and from disabilities advocacy groups for Stiller's portrayal of a mentally retarded buffoon. Lazarus will go to any length to portray his characters and refuses to get out of character until the "making of the film" interviews for the DVD are concluded. This, of course, causes problems for Chino who struggles with Lazarus' stereotypical portrayal. Speedman's greatest dramatic role was that of simpleton Happy Jack, who takes significant abuse and ridicule from those around him. What the critics may have missed is the satirical message about Hollywood's portrayal of the "different." Stiller manages to shine a sarcastic spotlight on the media industry, including merchandising, commercialism, formulaic content, celebrity excess, and the pressures of popularity and stardom.

The biggest drawback of this film is its penchant for bad language; there is no shortage of f-bombs in this movie, especially in the scenes featuring Tom Cruise, as the successful media mogul and executive producer of the "film," Les Grossman (Cruise's make-up is flawless; if you don't recognize his voice, you would not know it is Cruise). The sheer number of curse words is staggering; this film will be a major bleep-fest when it hits cable syndication in a few years. There is also a moment towards the end of the film where it is presumed that Chino is involved in a gay relationship with singer Lance Bass. The blood-and-gore from the military set may be a bit over the top for some viewers.

This is the kind of film that Stiller was born to write and direct.

Honey
Honey(2003)

GENERE: Musical, Drama

Lovely Jessica performed good role in this movie..

A high-energy drama with music, Honey also stars LIL' ROMEO, winner of the 2001 Billboard Music Award for "Rap Artist of the Year," as Benny, a kid who needs a break even more than Honey does. MEKHI PHIFER (8 Mile) portrays Chaz, Honey's boyfriend with no angle to work -- he's the constant, the real thing, the down-to-earth voice of reason who just wants Honey happy and in his life. JOY BRYANT (Antwone Fisher) plays Honey's protective, best friend Gina, who views her pal's newfound success with equal parts excitement and skepticism. The young, vibrant cast also includes DAVID MOSCOW (Just Married), ZACHARY ISAIAH WILLIAMS (TV's Romeo!) and LONETTE MCKEE (He Got Game), with cameo appearances by hip-hop/R&B stars MISSY ELLIOTT, GINUWINE, 3rd STOREE, SHAWN DESMAN, TWEET, and JADAKISS & SHEEK.

Honey Daniels (JESSICA ALBA, of television's Dark Angel) has been waiting all her life to show the world her dance moves and now, everything she ever wanted is just a step away.

For years, her spirit and her ambition have given the dancer and aspiring choreographer the guts to move ahead, even when those who love her best have doubts about her possible success in such a tough field. Not content with her parents' world of safe choices that promise a secure future, Honey has moved to the heart of the city, where the streets are a barrage of sound, energy and music -- and it's the music she's after.

Living there is difficult, but she is willing to take it all in stride while she continues to struggle with making ends meet -- her dream is worth it. During the day, she shares that dream by teaching hip-hop classes in a local center to the kids in her neighborhood. At night, watching the clock until her bartending shift ends, Honey comes alive on the dance club floor, where her training collides with her passion and her smooth moves get her noticed.

And then her one-time-in-a-million break comes in the form of a video director, who sees Honey in the club and offers her a chance at a spot as a back-up dancer. From there, her true ability shines through, and she begins to finally live her dream -- choreographing for some of the hottest acts in hip-hop and R&B (Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, Jadakiss & Sheek, Tweet) and for Honey, it feels too good to be true.

And almost as quickly as it arrives, the dream starts to dissolve. Back in the workaday world, Honey returns to what she knows best -- the urban music she loves -- and rediscovers her love of dancing though the exuberant energy of a group of neighborhood kids.

Step Up 3
Step Up 3(2010)

Genres: Musical, Romance

Trailing behind Britain's own Streetdance as the first 3D dance-battle movie, this third chunk of the Step Up series tries to make up for it with a high-sheen gloss that our chaps just can't compete with. A sliver of plot - a bunch of hip-hop kids have to win the world championship to avoid being thrown out of the plushly appointed warehouse walk-up they live in - doesn't really distract from the main business: slamming bodies and low-slung trousers, crotch-grabbing and head-spinning. The 3D is pretty effective, with an odd technique that extends arms and legs as they point toward the audience; at times, it's positively creepy. The dancers really sock it over (though Home and Away fans might be amused/amazed by Sharni Vinson's reinvention as a hardbodied rich-kid flygirl); it's just the bits in between that let it down. The chief offender is Rick Malambri as a sort of street-dance philosopher king; almost every line of dialogue that comes out his mouth is either ridiculous or toe-curling. But character and plausibility is never going to be this film's strong point; it's all about the moves. And in that at least, it's no let-down.

Troy
Troy(2004)

A vigorous spin on the glorious excesses of classic sword-and-sandal epics, Wolfgang Petersen's stripped-down chronicle of the 10-year Trojan War is fatally undermined by golden boy Brad Pitt's reduction of legendary warrior Achilles to a sullen fame whore with to-die-for cheekbones. Screenwriter David Benioff pares away the supporting players, reshuffles the chronology of key events and ditches the meddlesome Olympians whose caprices drive the twists and turns of Homer's epic poem, The Iliad (plus a smidgen of The Aeneid), in favor of a thoroughly earthbound path to war. Trojan princes Hector (Eric Bana) and Paris (Orlando Bloom) are sent by their father, King Priam (Peter O'Toole), to seal a peace treaty with King Menelaus of Sparta (Brendan Gleeson). But callow Paris seduces Menelaus' wife, Helen (Diana Kruger), and spirits her back to Troy, too besotted to care that his actions will condemn his country to war. The cuckolded Menelaus appeals to his power-hungry older brother, Agamemnon (Brian Cox), who sees an excuse to add Troy to his empire of conquered nations. Agamemnon recruits the volatile, self-interested Achilles and raises an überarmy with a single purpose: the destruction of Troy. The success of GLADIATOR (2000) suggested to Hollywood that 21st-century audiences were willing to embrace ancient epics, especially if the brawny heroes offset the fetishy effect of he-man miniskirts with modern-day motivations. Petersen orchestrates a handsome battle sequence, but this attenuated stew of stagy posturing and unconvincing domestic drama runs aground on Pitt's preening deportment and drama-class line readings, even with Achilles reconceived as a celebrity-craving bad boy with authority issues. If the Greeks had thought to invent cigarettes, he'd have one perpetually dangling from the corner of his mouth. And reports of Pitt's constant nudity are greatly exaggerated, amounting to no more than the kind of coyly sculpted poses commonly used to sell underwear and perfume. Bloom took the lion's share of criticism for being too shallow and pretty to play a Bronze Age brawler, but at least Paris isn't supposed to be a warrior - he was always a pampered lothario predestined to do the wrong thing (the notion of implacable fate is, of course, jettisoned with the gods). Sean Bean makes the most of the cruelly truncated role of Odysseus, who conceives the treacherous wooden horse that seals Troy's fate, and Bana negotiates the transitions between family melodrama and armored smackdowns with surprising grace. But even the dramatic heavy hitters, who include Cox, Gleeson, O'Toole and Julie Christie, as Achilles' mother, are powerless in the face of Pitt's yawning hollowness.

Commando
Commando(1985)

One of the things that should make movie fans less nostalgic about 1980s aren't "teenage slasher" horrors. The real killers among products of movie industry in that decade were so-called "ramboids", movies inspired by the meteoric success of Stallone's FIRST BLOOD PART 2. That story about lone U.S. Special Forces man that manages to single-handedly destroy entire Vietnamese army was the product of Reagan years and actually served as a substitute for U.S. victory in Vietnam War. However, Stallone's stunts in that film inspired hundreds of cheap imitations - usually such cinematic abominations that would need centuries before they get any chance of camp appeal. "Ramboids" weren't just monstrosities in artistic sense - in case of former Yugoslavia they actually proved the theory of movies as a bad influence on real life people. After being exposed to hundreds of movies with heroes who, armed with single machinegun or a rocket launcher, manage to wipe out entire regiments of bad guys, many young people considered war to be fun and in 1991, when war erupted in Croatia, they actually volunteered go to the battlefields in droves. For many rude awakening about world where bullets don't miraculously miss good guys, where automatic weapons have to be re-loaded and where superior firepower, training and numbers actually do matter came too late. Thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of people in body bags or wheelchairs could be counted as a indirect victims of movies inspired by RAMBO 2.

The only "ramboid" that I actually liked, and, I still like, causing certain feeling of guilt about it, is COMMANDO by Mark L. Lester, one of those rare big studio projects that jumped on RAMBO 2 bandwagon. Actually, it proved to be quite succesful vehicle for rising star of Arnold Schwarzenegger and one of the most popular action movies in that decade (that would later bring such a masterpieces as PREDATOR and DIE HARD).

The hero of the movie is Colonel John Matrix, veteran of a unnamed U.S. Special Operations unit, who has retired and lives a happy and quiet life as a logger together with his pre-teen daughter Jenny. The idyllic life is interrupted by a bunch of thugs, including his former psychopatic subordinate Bennet, who kidnap his daughter. The move was orchestrated by Arius, exiled dictator of a remote Latin American country who wants to return to power and Matrix must kill the sitting president in a exchange for his daughter's life. However, knowing that he deals with anything but an honest people he escapes from ascending plane, knowing that he has only 11 hours before the plane lands and Arius finds that he changed his mind. Matrix begins the race against the time and tries to find the location of terrorist base, with the attractive stewardess Cindy as his only help.

One of the reason why COMMANDO beats RAMBO 2 is in a approach. While director Pal Cosmatos, writer James Cameron and Stallone used impressive, but utterly unrealistic visual and other attractions of "one- man-army" concept as a tool for certain political message, Schwarzenegger, writer Steven E. De Souza (author of DIE HARD) and director Mark L. Lester (whose work on COMMANDO is probably his best) considered all that special forces mumbo-jumbo as an excuse for escapist pulp fiction fun. Schwarzenegger, who had already created an image of invincible hero/killing machine in CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1981) and THE TERMINATOR (1984) actually tried to give some new elements to his own character (East German background as an attempt to give plausible explanation for his accent). But, he also finished the creation of his on-screen Schwarzenegger personality, including his famous one-liners and very specific, sometimes very cruel sense of humour. His lines, usually given before the killing of the bad guys, are probably the best remembered element of this movie.

Almost everything in this movie is deliberately over the top. That also includes the small army of brilliant character actors in the roles of Arius and his henchmen. Vernon Welles, who was, until that time best known as Mad Max's nemesis in THE ROAD WARRIOR is, despite his huge physical presence, overshadowed by Bill Duke and Dan Hedaya. But his final showdown with Schwarzenegger is quite impressive, anyway. The good guys are under-represented (small roles of Bill Paxton and Chelsea Fields are almost un-noticeable), but Rae Dawn Chong as Cindy, displaying entertaining combination of "damsel in distress" and tough chick that gives this movie brilliant comic relief.

COMMANDO is hardly a masterpiece, suffering mostly from the uninspired soundtrack by James Horner (mostly re-write of his work in 48 HRS) and the song that beats Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" in "the cheasiest song of all times" category. Editing is sub-par in the final showdown scenes, but only the most fanatical nitpickers would find such fatal flaws. In its 90 minutes of non-stop action, COMMANDO manages to achieve its goal - to entertain the audience. And, sometimes, that fact is enough to consider the movie good.

Batman & Robin

I couldn't get these words to the famous "Jingle Bells" parody out of my head while watching what might be the worst mega-budget fiasco of the decade. By this point in the Batman franchise, it appears that director Schumacher (D.C. Cab, 8MM) and the folks at Warner Bros. thought that the appeal to the Batman movies were the costumes, sets, and color schemes. In fact, they didn't even bother going for any other game plan other than to try to overwhelm us with eye-candy CGI and gargantuan set design, leaving little things like a script and a tangible plot as just a means to string together the highly conceptualized sights and sounds. What they didn't plan on is that the public would soundly reject this and any chance at a future entry, as Schumacher commits the most egregious sin imaginable for any Batman endeavor -- he makes Batman "un-cool", as Mr. Freeze might say.

In this chapter, Arnold Schwarzenegger (True Lies, Total Recall) is hired on to play Mr. Freeze, a doctor that for some-such reason has to wear protective armor that keeps his body temperature cold. In fact, Mr. Freeze is obsessed with all things icy, and needing mass sums of money to figure out a cure for his cryogenically slumbering wife's disease, he plans on putting the entirety of Gotham City on ice for a monumental ransom. Meanwhile, another villain enters the arena in the form of Poison Ivy (Thurman, A Month by the Lake), seeking revenge on Bruce Wayne (Clooney, Out of Sight) for what she perceives are his anti-environmental exploits. Strength in numbers causes these unlikely partners to hook up, and Batman and Robin (O'Donnell, The Chamber) have more than their hands full trying to take them down.

With so little here to recommend, it is going to be an arduous task having to pinpoint just where it all went wrong. I suppose the easiest place to start will be in the casting. It's the fourth Batman movie and already we have our third Bruce Wayne, and in George Clooney, we have the least effective of all. Not that Clooney is a bad actor, but his take on the millionaire playboy is to always be charismatic and understanding. He's a warm teddy bear of a Batman, fatherly to Robin, consoling to Alfred, and a superb PR guy for his company to the public. Basically, he's very different from the Bruce we know from the previous three movies, more like the smirking-machine he has played for years on "ER". He smirks when telling Robin that Alfred is dying, he smirks when Alfred is ailing, and he smirks when the city is about to be put on ice. At least someone looks like he's having a good time, because it's certain that no one in the audience is.

The dialogue by Akiva Goldsman (Lost in Space, Practical Magic) is absolutely the most atrocious I've heard in any movie -- ever! Can you imagine that he actually is an Academy Award winning screenwriter? Nearly every line of dialogue is a quip or a one-liner, never really allowing a full conversation between any two characters except to evoke laughter, pity, or juvenile conflicts. Faring worst of all is Schwarzenegger's character, Mr. Freeze, who appears to be nothing but a walking compendium of puns about about cold weather. "Chill!', "Cool party!", "Ice to see you!", and the list goes on, ad nauseum. Particularly annoying is having to hear Freeze constantly refer to Batman and Robin as the "bat and bird" -- after the third instance, I would have paid top dollar to grab him by the collar and slap him around for a few.

Uma Thurman does a better job with Poison Ivy, although her motivations throughout the film defy any logical explanation. Thurman decides that the only way to play such a one-note villainess is to go completely over-the-top, and as alluring as she may be, she deserves a better, more well-rounded character to portray. As thin as her character is, at least it's not wholly superfluous as Batgirl, played here (barely) by Alicia Silverstone (The Babysitter, Clueless). Schumacher and Goldsman must have complete contempt for their audience, as they think they can wing a conversion from Barbara Wilson to Batgirl by just giving her a rubber suit -- literally! Once the suit is donned, she is every bit as dangerous as Batman, despite no training -- it's downright insulting!

Batman & Robin proved to be the final nail in a once lucrative franchise's coffin, digging such a monumental hole for itself, both commercially and critically, there was seemingly no way out again. Overlong, overrun with needless subplots, and overcooked in the action department; it's not only bad, it's cover-your-face-in-your-hands embarrassing. My face may be permanently creased from cringing. The series rightfully deserved a quick, merciful death after this one.

XXX
XXX(2002)

Genre: Spy Film, action

"XXX," pronounced "Triple-X," is the type of motion picture for which the term, "leave your brain at the door," was invented for in moviegoer-speak. If you go into the film expecting a masterpiece of nuances and subtlety, believability, logic, and invigorating character interactions and dialogue, then you are most definitely barking up the wrong tree. Directed by Rob Cohen (who at least played a part in shooting actor Vin Diesel to fame in 2001's "The Fast and the Furious"), "XXX" is an eager-to-please thrill ride so loud, fast, and high-throttle that if the theater auditorium walls fail to shake, the volume must be turned off. Intended as nothing more than a mindless entertainment, "XXX" succeeds on the sole basis of getting the heart pumping as one masterfully rendered, if hilariously over-the-top, action set-piece after the next is carried out.

As the movie starts, Xander Cage is an extreme sportsman in trouble with the law. Instead of getting arrested, however, he is elected by NSA Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) to become a secret agent and infiltrate a dangerous organization biding their time in Prague. Once there, Xander discovers that this group of men, known as the "Anarchy 99," are planning to put into action the deadly "Silent Night" biological weapon on several countries of the world. He is aided in his quest by the sultry Yelena (Asia Argento), whom he isn't quite sure is on his side or not.

From the very beginning, "XXX" is a complete mess of illogical story threads and giant plot holes (if "Anarchy 99" is planning to blow up Prague, wouldn't they be wiping out their own country and their very existence?). Likewise, the dialogue, from a screenplay written by Rich Wilkes, is shamelessly cornball, with a bevy of one-liners meant to evoke laughs but that only elicit groans. The deliriously maniacal villains, headed by the slimy Yorgi (Marton Csokas), are a stock group of cartoonish lunatics, but manage to be somewhat memorable. In almost any other movie, these debits would be a cinematic kiss of death. Because "XXX" is not supposed to be high art, or even make that much sense, they can be reasonably overlooked.

What really matters in a film of this genre is how impressive the action scenes are, and director Rob Cohen and his group of stuntmen have frankly outdone themselves. From a fiery, bullet-flying helicopter/motorcycle chase, to a bungee-jumping trip off a bridge in a car, to a meticulously filmed and awe-inspiring avalanche sequence that has to be seen to be believed, "XXX" is that rare action film that satisfies because it gets its key ingredient down just right. The avalanche scene, in particular, may have some viewers audibly gasping and holding onto their armrests in excitement. The climax-a chase to reach the speeding, waterborne biological weapon before it detonates-ends on a hair-raising enough note to make the film worth seeing for fans of this type of thing.

There is a reason that the muscular, head-shaven, baritone-voiced Vin Diesel (2001's "The Fast and the Furious") is fast becoming a superstar. As proven by his self-directed 1994 short film, "Multi-Facial," 1998's "Saving Private Ryan," and 2000's "Boiler Room," Diesel is a charismatic performer who has the acting chops of a pro, but he also has the presence and physical build of an action hero. Regrettably, Diesel doesn't get much of a chance to act in "XXX," but he more than holds his own as the star attraction of the film. As the tough and beautiful Yelena, Asia Argento (daughter of Italian horror filmmaker Dario Argento) matches Diesel beat for beat as a heroine with brains and brawn. Less victorious is Samuel L. Jackson (2002's "Changing Lanes"), strictly taking his paycheck and running in the throwaway part of the facially scarred Agent Gibbons.

When "XXX" finally stops long enough for some exposition, as it must inevitably do, the movie crashes and burns with poorly conceived writing that a third-grader could see right through. Luckily, director Rob Cohen realizes that the action is what audience members are coming to see, so he never lingers long enough for the movie to grow monotonous. "XXX" is dumb and it's trashy, but there are obviously more adventures for Xander Cage to go on in the future (a sequel is already in the planning stages). On the evidence of this technically exhilarating first film, such a notion really doesn't seem like such a bad idea, after all.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine

Genre: Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a prequel that comes after three X-Men movies have already been released. This movie shows the audience the past of one of their favorite mutants.

In the first X-Men film, Wolverine is a character who is unsure what he believes and can't remember his past. His power is the ability to heal. In addition, he has three dagger-like "claws" he can extend from his hands at will and his entire skeleton is reinforced by a special metal due to a procedure paid for, as usual, by our taxpayer dollars.

The movie opens when Wolverine is a kid, sick in bed, before the Civil War. After seeing his father killed, he stabs the man who shot him, only to find out that the man he killed was his real father. Running away from home, his brother, Victor, catches up with him and they agree to look out for each other. After fighting in several wars together, both brothers are recruited by a man in the military named Stryker. Stryker adds them to a team to steal a precious metal from a poor African country. Tired of the killing, Wolverine leaves the team before the mission is complete. He finds a quiet life, working as a logger and living with a schoolteacher he's fallen in love with. He's unable to escape his past, however, when Victor begins killing other members of the team. Wolverine then agrees to undergo a procedure at the urging of Stryker to make him powerful enough to destroy his brother, who virtually equal in strength. Near the end of the movie, Wolverine loses his memory.

While this film does answer most of the questions fans have about Wolverine's past, the character is simply not as easy to relate to. In Origins, Wolverine is portrayed as more of a cold killer than a confused mutant who isn't quite sure what side he's on. The character portrayed in this movie is so different from what's portrayed in the original movie that I found most of the film difficult to enjoy, though I had high expectations. However, I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed the other X-Men movies and is curious about the character of Wolverine. While I didn't enjoy most of the movie, it did statisfy my curiosity and didn't leave me feeling like my questions hadn't really been answered. This movie is not for anyone who doesn't enjoy watching fight scenes or hates movies about mutants.

Cadet Kelly
Cadet Kelly(2002)

Comedy starring Hilary Duff as Kelly Collins, an artistic, fashion-minded teen who's forced to go from flashy fab to olive drab at her new step dad's military academy. As the clumsiest, most clueless recruit ever to botch basic training, Kelly seems to be fighting an uphill battle to fit in. But it's all-out war when she butts head with Cadet Captain Stone (Christy Carlson Romano), a tough-as-nails, by-the-book 'commanding officer' determined to break her spirit. See how once-carefree Kelly keeps it together amidst endless rules and regulations to win Stone's respect, and still manages to leave her own unique mark on the school.

Wild Wild West
½

I think the first problem with this movie that I have to point out is the historical inaccuracy. I know that sounds like kind of a pointless thing to talk about with a movie like this, but aside from all of the steampunk and the story, they are trying to place the film in the 1870s and doing a pretty terrible job of it. First off, a bit of nitpicking: there's a point early on where they try to establish that the movie takes place in some time shortly after the Civil War by showing the dome of the U.S. Capitol being built. Of course, it's pretty basic knowledge that this dome was finished in 1866, when Andrew Johnson was still president. This pretty much set the mood for the film, at least for me, knowing that the people who made the film did absolutely no research on the time period in which it took place.

One a more important note, they bring up West's race a lot in the film. This is to be expected with the time period, but the way it is handled is incredibly poor, stereotypical, historically inaccurate and a little bit racist (in a way other than intended, of course). The only Southerners in the film are stuck-up rich white people, angry at black people and disgruntled over the outcome of the war. Incidentally, I'm pretty sure other than the girl he's hooking up with at the beginning of the film, West is the only black character in the entire film. That's including extras. Oh, and here's a little bit of importance: Jim West on the TV show was white, so having him black in the movie was either specifically put in there to address the slavery issue or they hired Will Smith before writing it and decided to shove it in there because, "Hey, we got a black guy." And I'm really hoping the latter is not the case because then it's incredibly racist.

Regardless of whether that happened, the script is just terrible. The story is childlike and basic, with very forced chemistry between West and Gordon. The dialogue contradicts itself constantly. There are several points where West says that Gordon's crazy inventions are bad and don't work, but they seem to work perfectly fine. They may be completely insane and unnecessary but they work. Pretty much the only thing that did work about the movie was the villain, but that was only due to Kenneth Branagh's performance. Loveless himself is a terrible villain with a tasteless gimmick and some very bad dialogue, but Branagh is a good enough actor to make it work for him. He's not given a lot but his performance is what kept me from tearing my eyes out of my head.

I mentioned the inventions before and the steampunk aspect and I think that's one of the biggest annoyances of the film. Apparently one of the things that at least somewhat stayed true to the television series is that Gordon invents things that help them out of jams. But the things he invents in the movie are illogical and make everyday tasks far more problematic than they should be. The guy keeps a spring-loaded pen and pad of paper in his jacket. West makes a point of how stupid this is and it's just brushed aside, but it's a legit point. Why would that make sense to build? There's also a point later on where Gordon explains that he made a few alterations to West's clothes, adding gadgets I would assume. I have to assume of course because we never see any of these, which is another throwback to the carelessness of the writing.

Also, why would Loveless' steam-powered wheelchair be a good idea? Or for that matter, why would Loveless' giant robot spider be a practical method of transport? In fact, they make a point early on that Loveless has a tank, but then they just throw that aside for the giant spider. So what was the point of the tank? And what was the point of the spider motif anyway? Loveless just seems to be obsessed with spiders. usually when a villain does something like this, they explain it at some point. Something they like about the animal or the weapon or the thing that they obsess over. But not Loveless. Loveless just really likes spiders, so much so that he goes out of his way to build giant robot spiders.

This is the sort of movie that takes away my faith in film as a medium. There is a reason this is considered one of the worst movies ever made, though I'd personally disagree with that claim. It is an enduring piece of garbage filmmaking that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Around the World in 80 Days

An eccentric London inventor, Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan), has come up with the secrets to flight, electricity, and even rollerblades, but the world has dismissed him as a crackpot. Desperate to be taken seriously, Fogg makes an outlandish bet with Lord Kelvin (Jim Broadbent), the head of the Royal Academy of Science: to circumnavigate the globe in no more than 80 days. With his two sidekicks - Passepartout (Jackie Chan) and femme fatale Monique (Cecile De France) - Fogg is headed on a frantic, heart-pounding round-the-world race that takes our heroes to the world's most exotic places by land, sea and air.

I must admit I don't quite remember the original Jules Verne story for Around The World In 80 Days, but when I heard they'd cast Jackie Chan as a major part of the story, I knew we weren't in for a direct remake of the original. In fact, this film is such a departure from the classic, it probably shouldn't even be bearing the same title. This update is more appropriately described as a toned-down period Jackie Chan adventure film.

Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights teamed Jackie up with Owen Wilson and placed them first in the old west and then in jolly old England. It was a delight to see Jackie use his talents and abilities in those fish-out-of-water
settings and it worked wonderfully. Here, the plot takes Jackie across the globe, but due to his age having reached his fifties making his abilities more limited, the endless possibilities just aren't properly taken advantage of. And while the stunts are indeed less memorable and more been-there, done-that for the audience, a few moments still stick out like when a fight with paint produces a painting or a scuffle with a bench is especially fun to watch.
Unlike the more recent disappointments The Tuxedo and The Medallion, Around The World... offers a far better cast and a much better script. While cheesiness is in abundance still, the end product is nothing short of a silly and fun romp across the globe. This is probably Chan's most family-friendly picture to date, but still remains quite violent. The kung-fu is frequent and oftentimes quite violent, but is always non-lethal and not graphic (which might inspire children to attempt this on their friends). So while the film is more geared to the younger crowd it may be a bit too violent for the youngest, so parents will want to take that into consideration.

Steve Coogan serves as a worthy partner for Chan, but it's not until Owen Wilson makes a cameo appearance with his brother Luke that you're reminded why the Chan/Wilson team worked so well. In fact, I was sorry to see the brief cameo end. But the cameos are for sure one of the charms of Around The World..., especially when we see Fogg come in contact with the unorthodox street bum played by Rob Schneider. And while 80 Days might not be nearly as polished, funny, or clever as it could have been, it's still an enjoyable experience. However, the film does go a little overboard with its special effects for the travelling sequences that don't quite work as often as the filmmakers must hope they do. And while Coogan and Chan made a pretty good team, the movie falls rather flat in the villain department, serving up the ultra-weak and extremely boring General Fang played by Karen Joy Morris. Other baddies have their moments but are otherwise disposable and just seem to waste screen time.

All in all, I wasn't too sure what to expect going in to the 2004 re-imagining of Around The World In 80 Days. Those expecting the original need to know it's nowhere near it and should stay away from it if that will be a disappointment. Cute, silly, and overall fun, it's a decent family film that will be a little too rough for some, given the amount of martial arts action, but is otherwise mostly harmless entertainment.

Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor(2001)

Poster Pearl Harbour (2001)Billed as the most spectacular war film ever, Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor always had a lot to live up to, and given the enormous budget and pre-release hype, it was inevitably going to be compared to Titanic (1997) and other such blockbuster films that we come to expect as the Summer arrives. So does it live up to its build up? Well sadly no. The viewer is subjected to the usual character build up, depicting the fictional characters later to become heroes, enjoying their innocent childhood, not imagining what could possibly lie around the corner. We already know, of course how the story goes, so maybe instead we could be reminded more of the events that led up to America's final reluctant decision to fight for justice, but this was never going to be a film so much about war, more a tedious love triangle saga.

The films heroes, played by Ben Affleck (Rafe McCawley) and Josh Hartnett (Danny Walker) both fall for the same beautiful nurse, Evelyn Stewart played by Kate Beckinsale. It was not quite that straight forward though, because to be fair, Danny was under the impression that his best chum Rafe, was in a watery grave after losing a dog fight in the Battle of Britain - not before wiping out most of the Luftwaffa single handedly of course. So, raised from the dead, Rafe comes to rescue of America only to find Danny being more than just a supportive friend to the grieving Evelyn.

Pearl HarborWith the big budget special effects unleashed on our senses, the pathetic love story and pre-war events, pale into insignificance. As we enter unquestionably the best section of the film, we witness the extremely well prepared and cunning Japanese Air Force deploy an amazing display of fire power and daring aeronautic brilliance, as they annihilate the U. S. Pacific Fleet. Pearl Harbor, considered to be a safe haven for the fleet had turned into a free for all shoot 'em up. Ill prepared partly because of the (apparently) improving relations with the Japanese Empire and insufficient radar detection, the huge destroyers were effectively sitting ducks.

We are briefly witness to the more horrific side of battle as we are shown the true to life story of desperate sailors trying in vain to escape from the upturned Oklahoma, with engineers trying to cut through the foot thick steel while all the time bullets and torpedo's threaten their attempts. The trauma goes on as we are subject to the scenes in the hospital as the injured are rushed in and the hospital shakes around them as the bombs rain down. This is a day Evelyn would probably rather forget as she and her fellow nurses lose the plot amid the hassle of sorting out the casualties.

True to form, our heros put their differences aside and go looking for some air worthy planes. In a tear jerking scene Rafe tells the more than anxious Danny, how much he needs him as a wing man. When they get round to taking off the ground, a cunning plan ends in the shooting down of a couple of Japanese fighters.

If the film put more emphasis on getting the facts across and less on building up what was, it has to be said - a poor cast -, then more justice would have been done to what really was a horrific massacre. Instead we are left with not so much a feeling of having witnessed a piece of history reenacted, but more of a pathetic love story, which I'm sure the average member of public couldn't care less about.

21
21(2008)

These days, a lot of young actors are too attractive, or at least too confidently invested in the powers of their teenybop charisma, to do a convincing job of playing anyone ''normal.'' They may look great in tabloid party photographs, but when they're required to suffer or to show anxiety - that is, when they have to behave like the rest of us - they're like automatons who've been to acting class. They turn imperfection into dull posing.

Jim Sturgess, the star of the college-brainiacs-go-to-Vegas drama 21, is in a different league. It's not that he isn't cute. He looks a little like the young Paul McCartney (that must be part of why they cast him in Across the Universe), with a boy heartthrob's dewy eyes and friendly, puckered grin. In 21, though, he attaches real live nerve endings to that pretty-boy facade. He plays Ben Campbell, a math nerd at MIT who's recruited, by a wry Mephistopheles of a faculty member (Kevin Spacey), to join a secret team of student blackjack wizards who head to Las Vegas on weekends to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars by counting cards. Sturgess wears his hair in a longish, haphazard cut that's like a floppy helmet. It's the armor of a kid who's shy about everything but his intelligence. As Ben, he's passive and slightly dorky, a gummy collegiate tangle of sweetness, IQ, and loser psychology. Ben hangs out with a couple of geeks (together they're building a robot), and he takes it as a fact that girls, or at least the hot ones, aren't interested in him. But when he sits down at the blackjack tables, that very hesitancy - his reluctance to reveal himself - works for him. His brainy reserve becomes cool, a way of negotiating risk. He's a Will Hunting who turns into James Bond.

I've never quite gotten how counting cards in blackjack works, but 21, which is loosely based on the book Bringing Down the House, about the experiences of MIT student Jeff Ma and his junior-gambler colleagues, constructs an entertaining, if simplified, version of the strategy, to the point that some viewers may be tempted to use the movie as a primer. Under the tutelage of math-and-stats professor Micky Rosa, played by Spacey with his familiar - but always bracing - joy-buzzer sarcasm, Ben joins the other students in an elaborate system that involves assigning a number to each table based on how many low (or high) cards have been dealt. One team member, usually a girl, is there to signal when a table ''heats up'' (i.e., when most of the high cards have yet to be played). At that point, a designated Big Player can sit down and start winning.

21 is built around some standard-issue plot mechanics, but it's still a clever and novel card-sharp thriller. It draws us into Ben's excitement at a luxe dreamworld that trumps college. For Ben, the blackjack team is the means to an end, the only way he has of making the $350,000 he'll need to attend Harvard Medical School. What the audience sees is that the danger of walking into a Vegas casino to beat the system gets him more jazzed than he can admit. High on his big winnings, he starts to get high on everything else too, like the attention of a sexy teammate - Kate Bosworth as an ice princess at full melt. (Bosworth makes her lusciousness vivid in an underwritten role.) He's high on sin. Counting cards is, in fact, perfectly legal. If the casinos catch you, however, they'll kick you out - or, as the film keeps reminding us, break your nose. And since the ability to count cards is truly a skill, not just a way of cheating (it is, of course, the fabled essence of what makes a great poker player), Ben is lying - and not lying. He occupies a gray area of the sleaze zone that, in the movie's terms, is a metaphor for his ambivalence about being a player in life. He desires it and fears it.

21 is a better realized youth thriller than, say, Disturbia, but it has more things to niggle at than it should. When Ben gets to Vegas, he and the other students are given disguises and fake identities, but the movie barely follows through on this gambit - a missed opportunity. And there's a key turning point when Spacey's prof, who seems mostly amused at the scam that he's orchestrating, blows up at Ben in a way I never bought. Despite its shortcomings, however, 21 has enough good twists to keep jolting ahead. It's too early to tell if Jim Sturgess is going to turn into Ryan Gosling or Andrew McCarthy, but my bet is that he gets closer to the former. The fun of 21 is the way that this sharp, hyperaware star in the making, his face as readable as a mood ring, pours us into an adrenalized cocktail of fear, desire, and mental buzz.

Daredevil
Daredevil(2003)

One of Marvel Comics' most popular characters comes to the screen for the first time in this sci-fi action-thriller. Matthew Murdock (Ben Affleck) is a lawyer whose father, a prizefighter, was killed by gangsters when Murdock was just a boy. Since then, Murdock has devoted his life to bringing wrongdoers to justice and is willing to help others by taking on cases no other attorney will touch. Murdock is also blind, after being struck down by a truck while trying to save a man from being hit. What no one knows is that Murdock was also doused with an unusual radioactive isotope which had a strange effect on him -- while Murdock's sight may be gone, his other senses have been raised to such a keen pitch that they act like radar, allowing him to tell where he's going and what happens around him, both near and far away. Murdock puts his gifts to use at night as the costumed crime-fighter Daredevil, whose pursuit of justice has earned him the wrath of underworld leader Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan). Kingpin wants Daredevil out of his way once and for all, and hires Bullseye (Colin Farrell), a super-assassin with an uncanny ability to throw blades, to do the job. Daredevil also makes the acquaintance of Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner), a woman with super-heroic talents who is also on Kingpin's bad side, though it remains to be seen if she has aligned herself with the forces of good as Daredevil has done.

Armageddon
Armageddon(1998)

GENERE: Sci/Fic

I saw Armageddon when it was released theatrically, and I have hated it ever since. Still, it's been twelve years, and I was interested in seeing it again, just to make sure that it was as bad as I felt originally. So when I visited some friends last night, we put on their DVD version of it, and steeled ourselves for the masochistic torture.

My original impression was essentially confirmed. Armageddon is a blockbuster abomination in a fat-suit. A stupid, lumbering Godzilla of a summer movie, which should rightly make everyone in the audience put their hands on their heads and stomp around in radioactive agony and roaring confusion.

An asteroid the size of Texas is approaching Earth - a global killer. In one of the many, many contrived plot points, the only way to save Earth is to drill into the asteroid and nuke it from the inside. So Bruce Willis, a brilliant oil rig driller with a rotten temper and the maturity of a 10-year-old, is brought in to fly up to the asteroid and destroy it, and save the world. Using his entire unruly oil rig crew. The movie opens with him repeatedly firing a shotgun at one of his own employees, on his own oil rig, because said employee is involved with Willis' daughter. The level of stupidity and total disregard for realism and responsible behavior, as you can see, is therefore established as very high indeed from the very get-go.

And it continues in the same vein. Lengthy scenes of idiocy with no relevance to the plot are interspersed throughout the movie in ways that can only make a discerning viewer groan. None of the science or the human behavior make the least bit of sense. I watched this movie in the company of a physicist, who at one point exclaimed that Star Wars is more realistic than this.

The movie is trying - and failing spectacularly - to be serious. It's supposed to show a situation of extreme anxiety and peril where the entire world hangs in the balance. But there is never any palpable feeling of fear for the fate of the Earth, because a string of preposterous action scenes and "endearing" character portraits are unrelentingly thrown at you from all sides. As a result, there is simultaneously too much excitement (focused on the characters) and no excitement at all (as regards the movie's alleged plot)!

The biggest problem with the movie is indeed that it is played straight. It is so ridiculous that it is almost a comedy, and it would have needed only a tiny adjustment in order to be a great comical adventure of campiness and self-satire. In fact, I'll wager that all it would have needed was Dennis Hopper in place of Bruce Willis! Then we would have known that a movie like this was not intended to be taken seriously. Then there would have been an appropriately eccentric license for the main guy to behave so ridiculously, and we would have been able to accept the entire movie as an exercise in wackiness. As it is, however, Armageddon is awash with patriotic plattitudes, unnecessary and artificial action, insufferable romantic silliness and a total lack of any intensity about the fact that Earth is supposed to be in danger of annihilation.

Years ago, I originally rated this movie a 1 out of 10, which is the rating I reserve for movies I find offensively bad. Armageddon, to me, is the movie that exemplifies how not to make an action movie. Everything is over the top, and not a thing has been included to make the movie the least bit human and believable. Still, I am now adjusting my rating to 2 out of 10, because there are actually a few moments here and there which are not offensively bad - mainly featuring Liv Tyler and Steve Buscemi. And the production values are quite impressive in places, although the overall look of the movie is more messy than attractive. The main thing that makes me give it a better rating, however, is that, except for the small fact that it doesn't have Dennis Hopper in it, it is almost a good Dennis Hopper movie!

I see Armageddon as the diametrically opposed movie to Deep Impact from the same year. In Denmark Deep Impact opened in May '98 and Armageddon came along three months later. I loved Deep Impact. It had all the intensity and anxiety that Armageddon totally lacked, and Deep Impact was also my first - and delighted - introduction to Téa Leoni, whom I considered a total unknown at the time. This made the high quality of Deep Impact that much more impactful for me, and it is absolutely one of my favorite movies from that year, deserving a 9 out of 10 rating from me. In comparison, Armageddon was, to me, the ultimate disappointment.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan
½

Genre: Comedy

You Do Not Mess With the Zohan... no, really... you do not mess with the Zohan. This very funny, if highly-offensive movie is charming and delightful enough to coax laughter even out of the staunchest believer. Are there any truly redeeming qualities about this movie? Hardly. Do I recommend it? Absolutely. But leave the children at home. Adam Sandler is at his tasteless best here but this time the story has a heart, as well as a message of peace, and the main character is as loveable as he is irreverent.

Few topics are as complex and volatile as the Arab-Israeli conflict over land in Israel. Sandler strips away the complexities to give you a hilarious romp featuring Arabs and Israelis who flee to America to "get away from all of the hate back home" and start their lives anew.

The film opens in a Middle East setting we rarely see featured on the evening news these days - a peaceful, sunny beach in Israel where everyone is having fun and the only action comes from Hacky Sack, tug-of-war and disco dancing. The first few moments of the film establish Zohan's character: he's strong, comfortable in his own skin, widely-admired and capable of unusual feats - including catching a freshly-grilled fish with his tuchis. (You'll hear lots of amusing yiddishisms in this movie - real as well as invented.) A few minutes into the film, Zohan is simultaneously attending to a beachside grill, playing paddleball with a spatula and dancing nude (viewed from behind) for an appreciative group of bikini-clad beauties and a goofy, fully-dressed male friend. Suddenly, a military helicopter appears and Zohan's seaside vacation comes to an abrupt end as he is whisked off to a briefing with his fellow Israeli commandos. The story really gets rolling after an explosive mission in Palestine ends with Zohan exiting a life marked by never-ending Arab/Israeli conflict in favor of making people "silky smooth" as a hairdresser in America.

The film takes us along with Zohan as he spins and gyrates from one crazy situation into the next in a post 9/11 New York City peopled by hard-working Israelis and Palestinians and the people who regard them with suspicion. This leads to some great moments of comedy - like when Zohan disavows his Israeli background by telling his new friends, in an Israeli accent as thick as the hummus he uses for just about everything, that he is "Australian and Mount Everest... this is what you are hearing." Zohan and his arch nemesis, a Palestinian terrorist known as The Phantom (John Turturro), find themselves locked in a rivalry that provides plentiful opportunities for great action sequences. All of the actors in this movie put in hugely entertaining performances, especially Sandler and Turturro who throw themselves into their roles with abandon.The movie is endearingly funny and, unlike many recent comedies, this one never runs out of steam. The story moves along at a pleasing clip, driven forward by Zohan's hairstyling dreams and a high-energy soundtrack of danceable 80s tunes and Middle Eastern pop music. The unique circumstance of having Palestinians and Israelis working side by side in the same community as they make their way in a new city allows for situations that get to the heart of what it can be like for recent, Middle Eastern immigrants living in New York City during these difficult times.

So how does Zohan the movie manage to be so offensive when it's so genuinely endearing and clever? Like most modern comedies, Zohan is absolutely soaked in sex, sexual innuendo, rough language, vulgarity and relentless references to the male anatomy. For every moment of hilarity (and there are many) you will have to go through much that is rude - and even disturbing. In one scene a son finds his mother having sex with a young friend he has brought home for the first time. Instead of being embarrassed, the mother suggests to the son that what he needs is to go to a nightclub and "get some st*nk." On frequent occasions after that the mother engages in sexual discussions and behaviors in front of her son while his disgusted reactions are played to make him seem hopelessly unhip. At the end of the movie, when the son begins to act out sexually, Zohan and the mom express their approval. "I knew he had it in him," says the mother with a smirk.

But the real heavy offenses are left to Zohan himself, who is consumed with "making the sticky," the "big bang boom" and staying "steeve" for the ladies. His carefree spirit and appreciation of beauty in women of all sizes, ages and colors is admirable but the sequences featuring him pleasuring elderly women during their shampoos, one after another, truly go too far. These sequences could have been done in good taste - for the most part they were so joyful and the ladies looked so lovely - but they were marred by unnecessary vulgarities that turned scenes that could have been tasteful into cringe-worthy moments. (i.e. creamy white shampoos oozing from phallic shampoo bottles near the ladies open mouths; Zohan gyrating suggestively up against the behind of an elderly customer who is bent over a sink as he shampoos her hair.) When Zohan discovers that a great way to cultivate the loyalty of his elderly clientele at the hair salon is to end each appointment with a rigorous bout of earth-shaking, off-screen sex, the audience has to endure endless rounds of shelves tumbling off the wall, moaning and then the sight of dazed and disheveled older ladies stumbling out of Zohan's supply closet.

Despite these huge lapses in good taste, Zohan does carry several positive messages: There is more to life than war; with hate there are no winners; America is a country where anyone can make their dreams come true; you can't have secrets in a good relationship; there is power in unity. Zohan also clearly loves and respects his parents and considers what they would think before he makes big decisions. By the end of the movie, we also see Zohan fall in love and suddenly realize that he can be with only one woman.

You might be wondering how the Arab/Israeli issue is handled in this film. In a word, it's evenhanded. No sides are taken. The only case here is made for peace and brotherhood. In one scene a Palestinian calls Zohan a "landgrabber" and shouts that "my people have settled this land for hundreds of years!" Zohan defends himself with a little sarcasm, "Oh, yes and my people have never set foot in this land before. It's not so cut and dried." There is some violence in this movie but it is bloodless and cartoonish, except for a few explosions. The language is peppered with countless references to sex but most of the words are in fake Yiddish. Still, you'll come across sh*t seven times, t*ts three times, b*tch and son of a b*tch three times and mother f*cher once, although it's cut off at the end. The Lord's name is taken in vain only once.

Green Lantern

Genre:: Action, Adventure
Studio:: Warner Bros. Pictures

CAST::: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong

Screenwriter:: Michael Goldenberg, Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Michael Green
Producer:: Donald De Line, Greg Berlanti, Andrew Haas
Director::: Martin Campbell

I've never read the "Green Lantern" comic, but I have to assume the theme of will power vs. fear ran through it just as it does in this filmed adaptation. Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, an Air Force test pilot that has been chosen to replace Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), a respected and dying member of the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps that has crash landed on Earth after being attacked. This, of course, is the simple version.

I guess I could add a few details from the film's cosmic prologue, telling you there are 3,600 peace-keeping "Lanterns" spanning from one sector of the universe to another and next we witness as three anonymous aliens are disintegrated by what ends up being the film's villain, Parallax, a black cloud that feeds on the yellow emotional spectrum of fear, using it for its strength.

Alternatively, "Lanterns" harness their strength from the green emotional spectrum of will power and with it are able to do all sorts of things, such as construct anything their mind can imagine from a Gatling gun to a flamethrower to a couple of jets or even a beautiful necklace to give to their sweetie.

So, as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, and just as you'd expect, Hal is egotistical, irresponsible and screwed up with daddy issues galore. Most of this is obviously wedged in just to make his transition from cocky test pilot to heroic superhero a little harder.

And now that you know your Maverick let me introduce you to Iceman, though I don't think this guy is someone Hal will ever want to be his wingman. Meet Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), a professor and xenobiologist, who, despite all of this, still can't impress his old man (Tim Robbins), a high-powered senator. Yet, through a bit of nepotism his father has given him a chance to leap frog the competition and become the lead scientist working on the recovered body of the alien that gave Hal his powers.

Perhaps because of the makeup and the crazy nature of the character, Sarsgaard looks and acts like he had the most fun of anyone making this film. Without going into too many details, his character ultimately becomes one of the film's antagonists and you better believe a life's worth of jealousy, inability to impress father and low self-esteem drive his mania. Oh, and there is also the matter of the girl.

Of course there's a girl and Hector has pined for her as long as he can remember, but Hal used to be in the way and it's starting to look like they're at it again. Her name is Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), and she's Hal's fellow test pilot and the film's love interest. As such she gets to ask all the stupid questions, utter all the cliched lines and serves as the damsel in distress when necessary. Cue loud, concerning music.

Elsewhere (yes, I'm sorry, but there is a lot to mention), on the planet Oa, which is where most of the members of the Lantern Corps seem to reside, we meet Sinestro (Mark Strong) who appears to be the leader of the Corps and an immediate doubter of Hal's ability to be one of them. We also meet a fish-like "Lantern" named Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) and a giant hog-like beast named Kilowog (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan). Tomar-Re and Kilowog are virtually non-existent in the story, but Sinestro gets a decent enough role and Strong plays him well, but the problem with this film is not the performances, but the script and the story.

With everything in front of you, you can probably piece together the entire narrative, though I'm pretty sure you'll construct a tighter story than is presented here. Four people are given script credit on this feature and it plays like they had a solid base for an origin story, but they couldn't help but continue to wedge in character details until that original idea became a distant memory. Not to mention, the character details are those cliched, hum-drum details that have been bogging down films for years, and we are reminded of these details over and over again. Then the love triangle kicks in and there's no room left for the superhero stuff everyone came to see until it's time to take on the big cloud and... Ugh, I'm spent.

Unfortunately, Sarsgaard's "campiness" is the film's only real highlight outside of some snazzy CG effects. Lively's character is a cliched dead end, primarily due to the fact the love angle is so unbelievable and cheesy that you don't for a second think there's anything there or even if you do, you don't care. Reynolds does just fine in the lead role, but there seemed to be an attempt to stay clear of the level of arrogance Robert Downey Jr. brought to Iron Man in hopes of avoiding a comparison, especially since the egos of the two characters seem to run incredibly close. The comparison was going to be made one way or another, and for that reason I wish they had gone for it more than they did. Storytelling freedom seemed to take a backseat to controlling the chaos to the point the whole project became stunted.

Director Martin Campbell isn't the first person you'd think of for a project like this, though you can see glimpses of why he may have been chosen, but those glimpses stem from his lesser work such as The Legend of Zorro and Vertical Limit and not Casino Royale or even the level of camp he delivered in GoldenEye. I guess, in a way, he may have actually been the right choice, but too many hands in the cookie jar and the tinkering with the script resulted in a finished project he never intended to make.

Fans of the comic may enjoy seeing their favorite character on the big screen and I would never fault them for that. I also think kids around the age of ten can have fun with this film considering we're talking about people that can fly and can land a crashing helicopter using a Rolls-Royce chassis (at least I think it was a Rolls) and a race track, but as far as non-comic reading adults are concerned there are just too many missteps for you to overlook them all and the level of fun just isn't there.

The Goonies
The Goonies(1985)

Starring: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green

Screenplay by: Chris Columbus
Story by: Steven Spielberg

Produced by: Richard Donner, David Weaver, Harvey Bernhard
Directed by: Richard Donner

The Goonies live in the Goon Docks of Astoria, Oregon. When the area is threatened by a resort, the Goonies realize that their days of hanging out are over. Mikey (Sean Astin), his brother Brand (Josh Brolin), Data (Ke Huy Quan), Mouth (Corey Feldman), Chunk (Jeff Cohen), Andy (Kerri Green), and Stef (Martha Plimpton) discover an old treasure map to the treasure of One-Eyed Willie, and realize it could be the last chance to save the Goon Docks. The Goonies are in trouble because the killers known as the Fratellis are after them and Ma (Anne Ramsey), Francis (Joe Pantoliano), Jake (Robert Davi), and Sloth (John Matuszak) know about the treasure and are hot on their trail.

Directed by Richard Donner, The Goonies was a big hit of the '80s and continues to be popular to this day. It was written by Christopher Columbus and produced by Steven Spielberg (who seemed to have a lot of input on it). Most critics like the movie, but fans really latched on to it. A number of rumors have existed about Goonies 2 but other than a game called Goonies 2 for the NES, none have ever surfaced.

The Goonies is just one of those fun movies that really connects with kids. Like The Bad News Bears kids, the Goonies are a bit foul, raunchy, and they do things that their parents probably wouldn't approve of, but that is what you like as a kid. I was the right age when The Goonies came out and fell just a couple years younger than the characters (which is actually probably a bit better than the same age). I love The Goonies, but I bet even now, kids would have fun with it.

The movie also looks great. There are some great sets, and they are highly functional. I can remember wanting to go down the slides and play on the pirates ship (which was built on the Warner Bros. studio lot). Spielberg and Donner actually kept set secret from the kids to make the surprise look real when they saw it (though in a commentary track they admitted sneaking in to see it). There was a big scene with a really bad looking mechanical octopus that still gets referenced at the end of the movie, but thankfully it was cut out.

The Goonies has some action and despite its goofy premise does feel like there is some danger. That also helps. There are no on-screen killings, but the Fratellis are supposed to be killer and the Goonies find bodies of their victims. Granted, it was pretty obvious that none of the kids were really going to die, but you also don't want your core audience scared the entire time. Through it all, the great cast seems to be having a ton of fun, and most of them really pull it off in their roles.

The Goonies is a great movie. It is fun and goofy and typical '80s action/adventure. It works on a lot of levels and even has a great '80s Cindy Lauper theme song with an accompanying video. If you loved The Goonies as a kid, pass it on to your kids. Goonies 'R Good Enough!

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Starring:
Harrison Ford
Karen Allen
Paul Freeman
Ronald Lacey

Screenplay by:
Lawrence Kasdan
Story by:
George Lucas
Philip Kaufman

Produced by:
Frank Marshall
George Lucas
Howard Kazanjian
Directed by:
Steven Spielberg



Action movies typically have a short shelf life. They are under constant assault from the next generation because of advances in special effects and the public's unyielding desire for more and more improbable scenarios. For dramas, outlandishness leads to melodrama, but there seems to be no limit to the amount of ridiculous that people will swallow; therefore, actioners are always in danger of being outdone. Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark is able to avoid that danger because it feels participatory. It's one of the rare movies that you don't simply watch, you live through it.

It's the best kind of escapism. The kind that lets you out of your world but not totally. There's an unsettling element to it; there's a feeling of unease that lingers at the end. Last month saw good marks for the opening of Ridley Scott's Prometheus (2012), much of it earned, but while watching Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), I was struck by how similar the two movie's messages are: they are both about divinity and the danger of knowledge. In Prometheus, that danger manifests itself in the form of nasty creatures that go bump in the night; in Raiders it's the no less than wrath of God. It's almost perverse that a movie aimed squarely at children would drag out as its climactic set-piece a thought that strikes terror into the heart of kids: something bigger than themselves. "Don't look at it," Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) tells Marion (Karen Allen) while God's power tears through the valley, echoing a million parents talking to their children during that very scene.

That's about as far as I'll go for analyzing the deep meaning of a movie that is essentially about punching people and getting the Nazis. This is a boy's fantasy, a globetrotting adventure into and out of impractically elaborate booby traps and snake pits, submarines, biplanes, and trucks. There's a dame, but she's one of the guys as well, and there's an army of Nazis who don't have one brain among them and can be easily undone even if you're making it up as you go. It's an exhilarating experience, perhaps the height of what movies can be, a completely transportive occurrence.

But what makes Raiders of the Lost Ark last? Surely there were adventure tales that predated it (in fact, they inspired it) and there have certainly been enough imitators that have followed it. Even the filmmakers refer to it as a "B-movie," and those aren't supposed to stick around. I don't know if I can explain it, and I have my doubts that anyone can, otherwise wouldn't every movie be as durable and magnificent as Raiders of the Lost Ark?

I do know it starts with the screenplay, not the story necessarily, though it's a good one and one that is as old as storytelling. No, it's Lawrence Kasden's screenplay that breathes life into the whole thing. It has near-perfect construction. Each character is broadly but strongly defined, ideal for this type of movie; we know what they want and how they're going to get it. The dialogue is sneakily revealing without being overly declarative and it's terrifically economic: in a few lines we are given decades of back story as well as defining traits of certain character's relationships. "Doctor Jones, again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away." "Professor of Archeology, expert on the occult and ah, how does one say it? Obtainer of rare antiquities." "Besides, you know what a cautious fellow I am." Every perilous quest is set up with a menacing warning, "Señor, nobody's come out of there alive!" "Nobody's found the Ark in 3,000 years. It's like nothing you've gone after before."
None of these is a memorable line in the vein of "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," but it's embarrassing how few movies color their scripts with these load-bearing pieces of dialogue. In Raiders so many characters get key introductions, starting, of course, with Indy's reveal by way of his ubiquitous bullwhip during the fantastic opening sequence. Marion's opening scene establishes her as a tough chick: she's drinking a much larger man under the table. It's a great introduction on its own, but Kasden truly pays it off later in a scene with the villain Belloq (Paul Freeman) holding Marion hostage and taking her on in a drinking contest. We assume she'll prevail, which would be fine enough, but then we get a twist: Belloq grew up on the alcohol they're drinking; it's his family label. This is the first of two times this scene will play with our expectations, as later some tension is relieved in a sight gag when the sadistic Toht (Ronald Lacey) takes from his coat what appears to be an instrument of torture which turns out to be a coat hanger.

Perhaps Kasden's finest feat is the brisk pace of the story. A lot happens but it never feels rushed. It tells the tale of Professor Indiana Jones who is in a race to find the biblical Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis, who plan to use the Ark as weapon. In the process he reconnects with a former flame, Marion, whose father was an expert on the Ark, and butts heads repeatedly with his nemesis, Belloq, who sides with the Germans. That's fairly standard action stuff, but Kasden adds a level of substance both with the implications of the devastating Ark and with the designations of the characters. Look at the French Belloq, whose country doesn't have a dog in this particular hunt, appeasing and manipulating all sides to his own ends. Surely, the choice of his nationality in the time frame of this story was not arbitrary. The story speeds along and we are given constant reminders of the breathtaking immediacy. The rivals are always on the brink of a key discovery and Indy has to pick up his pace. I was struck during this last viewing, during Indiana's heroic swim to a Nazi submarine, by how little time remained in the movie's length and by how many things I knew were yet to happen.
Credit cannot be taken away from Spielberg, of course, who's mainly responsible for making the script digestable at such a quickened pace. Besides, the things you remember about Raiders of the Lost Ark are visual. From the rolling boulder of the opening to the aforementioned hero shot with the submarine and the harrowing agony of the opening of the Ark. Indy's look is a triumph of visual filmmaking, borrowed and patched together from a dozen boys' magazines and books; art director Leslie Dilley and costume designer Deborah Nadoolman created an outfit for Ford that works in long-shot, close-up and, best of all, dramatic, shadowy silhouette.

Ford needs credit as well; he takes the least developed character and makes him relatable. Nobody is better than Harrison Ford at providing the audience with a center while the universe falls apart around him. Indiana Jones couldn't go on without Ford, a la James Bond; it's distressing to see that idea flirted with. When Indy punches someone, it sounds different from other people's punches in the movies. There's a wetness to it, like a cannonball hitting a side of beef. It's Spielberg's handling of all these elements that makes the movie soar. The movie gets a lot of praise for its technical achievements, and the truck chase in the final third remains the standard for competent, clear, action sequences, but those kinds of things can be outdone. Raiders lasts because of its synthesis of every element of moviemaking employed for the purpose of fun.

This is perhaps the most fun movie ever made. It's invigorating. Movies, on some level or another are supposed to be fun. In any other art form, an entry like Raiders of the Lost Arkwould be dismissed as frivolity, but in movies it reaches the highest levels of what the medium can do. Personally, it's the most important movie of my life, the one that made me love movies as a boy. There's something about childhood in it; I don't mean it's sentimental, but it connects with the idea of free-wheeling discovery at every turn, with the simplicity of childhood. When I first saw it, I was transformed. My tastes have gotten more sophisticated, to the point that movies I adored as a child seem simplistic or ham-handed, but Raiders has never failed to connect to that kid in me. After being on the RKO studio for an hour, Orson Welles said, "This is the biggest electric train set a boy ever had!" Spielberg, who cut his teeth making home movies of his train sets as a teen, has made the perfect extension of that statement.

The Passion of the Christ

Starring: Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, Hristo Shopov

Screenplay by: Benedict Fitzgerald, Mel Gibson, William Fulco (translation) "Based on Passion"
Produced by: Bruce Davey, Mel Gibson, Stephen McEveety, Enzo Sisti
Directed by: Mel Gibson

In "Lethal Weapon," Mel Gibson appears in a violent scene in which the bad guys hang him by his wrists from a drizzling water pipe and zap him with electric shocks.

Similar moments can be found in most of his films, regardless of who wrote or directed them. Gibson has been preoccupied with Christ imagery from day one. But for his third directorial outing, he has chosen not the nice stuff about turning water into wine but the brutal bits: the whipping, the bleeding and the crucifixion.

Gibson's two-hour "The Passion of the Christ" chronicles the final 12 hours in Jesus' life, beginning in Gethsemane, where Jesus (James Caviezel) learns that he must bear the burden of mankind's sins and die on the cross. Judas (Luca Lionello) receives 30 silver pieces for betraying Jesus, and the prophet is subsequently arrested and brought before the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate (Hristo Naumov Shopov). At first Pilate balks at sending Jesus to His death but the unruly crowd soon convinces him. Cackling Romans brutally whip Jesus and make him carry his own cross to the mount, where he is crucified.

The movie presupposes at least some historical or religious knowledge on the part of the audience, as this portion of the story by itself doesn't make much sense. It contains only fleetingly brief flashbacks to Jesus during his happier days, preaching love and forgiveness and empathy. It's less interested in the why than in the how.

Moreover, viewers should be warned that this movie contains some of the most viciously violent scenes ever filmed; we feel every lash as Jesus' flesh is flayed from top to bottom by whips topped with little metal hooks. Gibson cranks up the soundtrack on every snap and rip, and the steel clang of the crucifix nails piercing Jesus' hands especially resonates through the speakers.

What's more, Gibson seems just as entranced by the violence as he is repulsed by it. Twice, he cuts to Jesus' point of view as He's being dragged or flipped upside down. You can almost feel Gibson's thrill as the persecuting Romans turn the cross over -- with Christ on it -- to bend the embedded, protruding nail points over backwards. Indeed, it's Gibson's hand that pounds the first nail.

On this and his previous film Braveheart, director Gibson tends toward populist impulses without much artistry or invention; he prefers bombardment to poetry. In The Passion of the Christ, he relies far too much on slow motion and on background music that sounds lifted from Peter Gabriel's score for The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), full of mournful woodwinds, rhythmic thumps, moans and wails.

Gibson and co-screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald (Wise Blood) also liberally add to the story, most obviously in the form of a creepy specter with shaved eyebrows that turns up from time to time, taunting Jesus and presumably offering him the easy way out. (A maggot crawls out of this ghoul's nose just to remind us how nasty he is.) The film also beefs up Pilate by making his wife (Claudia Gerini) a major sympathetic character; she brings white cloths to Mother Mary (Maia Morgenstern) and Mary Magdalene (Monica Bellucci) after Jesus' beating so that they can soak up the blood from the ground.

Strangely, Pilate and his wife are the only characters we get to know very well. They at least have a private moment together to discuss their feelings. Though Caviezel gets to wear a lot of makeup while bleeding and howling, the most important part of his character is missing. We need to see him forgiving and feeling sorry for his tormentors, otherwise we just want to hate them for their appalling behavior.

The same goes for Mary Magdalene, whose major role in the story is over by the time the film begins. For that role, Gibson has cast the lovely and versatile international star Monica Bellucci (last seen in the equally violent Irreversible as well as The Matrix sequels), but she doesn't have anything to do here except fret.

And yet, The Passion of the Christ ultimately succeeds in making us feel Jesus' anguish. By jettisoning bothersome plot and character details Gibson concentrates on the gruesome flogging and the trudging agony of Jesus carrying the heavy cross up the hill, giving us plenty of time to consider every horrible blow, every painful step.

On this very basic level, we come to empathize with the gentle Jesus, much like the unnamed Jewish citizen whom the Romans enlist to help Jesus carry the cross. By the time they reach the mount, the citizen's eyes are filled with awe and sorrow.

Platoon
Platoon(1986)

Stars: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe

Writer: Oliver Stone
Director: Oliver Stone

I've developed a fascination with war films lately for some odd reason, so I figured I would look in my DVD book and see what war films I owned but had yet to see. I stumbled across Platoon; I knew Platoon was a good film because many critics rank it among the greatest films of all time, and it won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1986. However, the one thing I didn't know is exactly how good it was; if Schindler's List wasn't considered a war film, this would be the best war movie I have ever seen. It has the action that you'd expect from a war film, but the drama and haunting story are what build on Platoon's greatness. Oliver Stone was actually an infantryman in the Vietnam War, and he based much of the film on many of his experiences during his time in Vietnam. I have heard from some people that this is the most accurate interpretation of the life and struggles of soldiers during war, and if it is, it further backs up the idea that truth is more frightful than fiction.

Platoon follows Chris Taylor through his experiences during his duration in Vietnam. Taylor dropped out of college to join combat forces in Vietnam which shocks several of Taylor's fellow soldiers. While on watch duty one night, he falls asleep along with a few other soldiers; the group is attacked by a group of North Vietnamese soldiers due to this irresponsibility. In the conflict, one of the recruits is killed by a rogue grenade. Although other more experienced soldiers were responsible for the attack, the blame falls on Taylor. This decision displays a schism in the platoon's two chief sergeants, Elias and Barnes. Sergeant Elias is compassionate toward the newer soldiers while Staff Sergeant Barnes is harsh and cruel to them. Several conflicts including a horrific scene involving a group of Vietnamese villagers leads to a "civil war" within the platoon with several soldiers siding with Elias and the others siding with Barnes. The film's drama oozes from the conflict within the platoon rather than the conflict with the Vietnamese; this is what separates it from most war films. Many war films display an opposing force as the main antagonist such as Nazi Germany in World War II films or the British in movies about the American Revolution. Although the assumption is that the soldiers fighting on a certain side are united in war films, Platoon challenges this idea and shows that the most dangerous enemies of a soldier in war may be his or her own bunk mates.The cast of Platoon features many high profile names, and this film can attribute to some of the earliest movie roles of several members including Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker, and Keith David. The film's lead role belongs to Charlie Sheen as Chris Taylor. As I stated in the Wall Street, the film was Sheen's breakout performance as a dramatic actor, and he backs up this claim handsomely. Initially, Taylor is shown as an innocent guy who draws the shortest straw in many of the situations he faces; however, by the film's end, his personality makes a 180 degree turn as he becomes defiant toward Barnes' ruthless attitude toward his fellow soldiers. The conflict within the platoon is outstanding to watch because of the performances of the two sergeants, Willem Dafoe as Elias and Tom Berenger as Barnes. The personalities of these two men couldn't be more different. Dafoe portrays Elias as the calm, cool, and collected official within the platoon; he interacts peacefully with the group and offers help to those who ask. On the other hand, Berenger portrays Barnes as the rough, careless soldier whose own agenda is the main focus of his actions. He wants to kill as many Vietnamese people as he can whether it be morally or immorally, and he stops at nothing to achieve his goals. Dafoe and Berenger's portrayal of their respective characters adds a new dimension of drama and hostility to the film that war movies had not yet shown, and this facet alone can attribute to why many film critics consider Platoon one of the greatest films ever.

I thoroughly enjoyed the cinematography in this film. Stone captures some of the most unique and hauntingly realistic scenes of warfare in this movie. I particularly enjoyed the ambush scene near the beginning of the film and the Vietnamese attack near the end of the film. Both occur at night and parallel each other, but as similar as they are, they seem oddly different because of the way Taylor behaves in each. He is asleep and startled in the early ambush showing his lack of experience in war, but in the final battle, you see how much he has changed from the imperfect college dropout that he initially was. The setting is also very convincing with soldiers having to watch their every step as they trek through the jungles near the Cambodian border. The way these scenes are shot inject tension into the audience due to the fear of what may be lying in the grass directly in front of the platoon. The film's brilliance can be attributed to the story and acting, but the wonderful cinematography sure didn't hurt anything either.Platoon is arguably the best work of Oliver Stone. By inserting his own horrific experiences into this film, he made a cinematic piece of art and one of the best war movies ever. Platoon is quite an experience that makes you respect soldiers for what they go through even more than you initially did. It is well written, well acted, and well shot with very few technical mistakes. This is another one of those American film classics that you have to see. With an honest take on an unpopular war, Platoon will certainly leave a lasting impression.

P.S. I Love You

STARING: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon

Writing credits:
Richard LaGravenese (screenplay)
Steven Rogers (screenplay)
Cecelia Ahern (novel)

Director:
Richard LaGravenese

P.S. I Love You was about a Dublin woman of 30, Holly Kennedy. She had married the man of her dreams, then lost him to a brain tumour. The novel begins with her already grieving - not wanting to leave the house or "get some fresh air", as her mother advises. She just wants to remember her Gerry and cry her "fat, salty tears".

The movie has been relocated to New York City and Americanised. Gerry (Gerard Butler), still alive at the outset, is an Irishman who came to live with Holly (Hilary Swank) in her home town. We see them in full romantic bloom. After dinner at her mother's they argue about when to have children, with Swank stripping down to her underclothes as she's yelling at the well-hewn Butler (Leonidas from 300). He storms out in his singlet before they rush back into each other's arms and make wild, passionate love.

Then he's dead and Holly is in black, stumbling around the wake at her mother's Irish bar, where Harry Connick jnr is the barman. For the next few weeks she spirals downhill, ignoring the phone and crying. The apartment becomes a garbage dump but there's an upside: Gerry is back, playing his guitar on the couch, at least in her hallucinations.

On her 30th birthday, her mother, Patricia (Kathy Bates), arrives with her two best friends, Sharon (Gina Gershon) and Denise (Lisa Kudrow). They bring a surprise. Before he died, Gerry organised a birthday cake and a tape recording. This tells Holly that he has a plan. He has written letters, to help her through her grief. They will come at various times, from various sources, without warning. Her heart leaps; she goes out with her chums and gets hammered. She throws up on Connick's shoes.

Whether you find the letters idea creepy or romantic might depend on your experience of grief. I may be wrong but I don't think Ms Ahern knows the first thing about the subject. She does have great instincts for the kind of sentimentalism that some readers will devour, though.

P.S. I Love You is basically a Mills and Boon with a superior cast. It is calculated to avoid the unpleasant truths of real life at every opportunity, even though it's about one of the biggies. Holly's grief is picturesque, rather than devastating.

Holly's marriage is similarly well-designed to appeal to young women with fantasies about the man they haven't met yet, let alone the one that got away. Gerry is hunky, musical, sparkling, funny - not to mention thoughtful. And a helluva correspondent for a man with a brain tumour!

Jersey Girl
Jersey Girl(2004)

Gener: Drama, Comedy

ACTORS:
Ben Affleck
Liv Tyler
George Carlin
Stephen Root
Jennifer Lopez

Producer Scott Mosier
Written by Kevin Smith
Directed by Kevin Smith

It's 1994 and Ollie Trinke (BEN AFFLECK) is on top of the world. Not only is he a wildly successful Manhattan music publicist, but he also has a beautiful girlfriend in Gertrude Steiney (JENNIFER LOPEZ). Things seem to be going their way when they're married and then find themselves expecting their first child.

ovie stars Ben Affleck as Ollie Trinke, a hotshot Manhattan publicist whose beloved wife Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez) is great with child. I would hesitate to reveal that she died in childbirth if I had not already read and heard this information, oh, like five hundred times, so obsessed is the nation with Ben and J. Lo. Lopez is luminous in her few scenes, helping to explain why Ollie remains so true to her memory that he remains celibate for many years.

His career meanwhile goes to pieces. Under pressure to hold a job while raising a daughter, he loses it one day, fatally offending his employers by causing a scene at the opening of a Hard Rock Cafe; he fails to understand why he should take Will Smith seriously ("Yeah, like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is ever gonna have a movie career"). By the time the story resumes, he has moved back to New Jersey and is living in the same house with his father Bart (George Carlin) and his beloved daughter Gertie (Raquel Castro), who is now about 7. He's not in public relations anymore; he works with his dad in the public works department.

Because Ben Affleck is a movie star and looks like one, you might expect him to start dating eventually, but no. You might expect that he could find another high-paying PR job, but no. He doesn't, because then there wouldn't be a movie. When a movie isn't working, we get all logical about things like this, but when it works, we relax.

Several times a week, Ollie and Gertie go to the local video store, where she plunders the kiddie section while he makes a quick dash through the bamboo curtain to grab a porno. One night he's confronted by Maya (Liv Tyler), the clerk who claims she's taking a survey about pornography usage, and asks Ollie how many times a week he masturbates. She is seriously disturbed by his reply, alarmed to learn he has had no sex in seven years, and informs him, "We're gonna have some sex."

And it's in a scene like this that Kevin Smith shows why he's such a good comedy writer. There is a bedrock of truth in the scene, which is based on embarrassment and shyness and Maya's disconcerting ability to say exactly what she's thinking, and when Ollie tries to explain why he has remained celibate (except for his relationship with countless porno titles), she patiently explains about sex: "It's the same thing only you're saving the $2 rental fee."

Inarguable logic, but he demurs, finally breaking down and agreeing to a lunch date. And thus does love reenter Ollie's life. For Maya may be bold about sex, but she is serious about love, and soon like Gertie is saying "Hey, you're the lady from the video store" at a moment when it would be much, much better had she not walked into the room.

Liv Tyler is a very particular talent who has sometimes been misused by directors more in love with her beauty than with her appropriateness for their story. Here she is perfectly cast, as the naive and sincere Maya, whose boldness is not a seduction technique but an act of generosity, almost of mercy. It takes a special tone for a woman to convince us she wants to sleep with a man out of the goodness of her heart, but Tyler finds it, and it brings a sweetness to the relationship.

Kevin Smith I believe has spent almost as much time in video stores as Quentin Tarantino, and his study of ancient cliches is put to good use in the closing act of his movie, which depends on not one but three off-the-shelf formulas: (1) The choice between the big city and staying with your family in a small town; (2) the parent who arrives at a school play just at the moment when the child onstage is in despair because that parent seems to be missing, and (3) the Slow Clap Syndrome. Smith is a gifted writer and I believe he knew exactly what he was doing by assembling these old reliables. I'm not sure he couldn't have done better, but by then we like the characters so much that we give the school play a pass.

Besides, without the school play, we wouldn't get a chance to see the set constructed for little Gertie by two of the guys who work with Bart and Ollie in the public works department. Let it be said that the Lyric Opera's set for "Madama Butterfly" was only slightly more elaborate.

Goal! The Dream Begins (Goal!: The Impossible Dream)
½

Genre: Drama, Sport
Cast: Leonardo Guerra, Tony Plana, Miriam Colon, Kuno Becker, Jorge Cervera
Script:
Mike Jefferies,
Adrian Butchart,
Dick Clement,
Ian La Frenais

Director: Danny Cannon

Goal! (also known as Goal! The Dream Begins in the United States) is a 2005 film directed by Danny Cannon. This is the first installment of a trilogy named Goal!. This film was made with full cooperation from FIFA, which is one of the reasons actual teams and players are used throughout the movie. The second installment, Goal! 2: Living the Dream..., was released in February 2007. The third installment, Goal! 3: Taking on the World, was released straight to DVD in June 2009.

Santiago's father, Hernan Munez, smuggled his penniless Mexican family over the US border to seek a better, albeit modest future in L.A. Eldest son Santiago dreams of more, like native Angelinos, then joining Hernan's gardening firm. His change arrives when a British ex-pro spots him as an exceptional soccer natural and promises he can arrange a real British talent scout to check him out. Although that falls trough and dad forbids it, Santiago accepts grandma's savings to try out with English premier league club Newcastle. Despite his asthma, he gets in and befriends the freshly transferred, desperately undisciplined bad boy star scorer, party animal Gavin Harris, who becomes his bothersome house-mate, a recipe for trouble and yet each's salvation.

Like millions of kids around the world, Santiago harbors the dream of being a professional footballer. However, living in the Barrios section of Los Angeles, he thinks it is only that--a dream. Until one day an extraordinary turn of events has him trying out for Premiership club Newcastle United.

Universal Soldiers
½

Directed by Griff Furst
Produced by
David Michael Latt
David Rimawi
Paul Bales

Written by Geoff Meed
Starring
Kristen Quintrall
Dario Deak
Jason S. Gray
Rick Malambri


Here is the ideal movie for those who found Terminator 2 insufficiently violent or too intellectually challenging. Crass, imbecilic, confused and easily predictable from start to finish, this film even shamefully lifts the main plot premise of the Terminator series: A robotic good guy and a befuddled young woman are stalked by a relentless, superhuman villain.

In this case the robotic types are Vietnam War fatalities who have been resurrected and turned into super soldiers, bionic man-style. (The closest the film comes to an explanation for the science behind this transformation is that they have been "hyperaccelerated," whatever that means. But then this movie devotes far more lime to cramming in multiple close-ups of people being shot in the head than in coherent storytelling.)

Lundgren (The Punisher) and Van Damme (Death Warrant) are perfectly cast as automatonlike ciphers who have only a passing acquaintance with English pronunciation. The whole cast, in fact-with hulking Tiny (Beverly Hills Cop II) Lister Jr. and Ralph (Best of the Best II) Moeller also among the soldieroids-is about as emotionally expressive as a fleet of Dumpsters. Even Ally (TV's True Blue) Walker, as the newswoman who helps the rebellious and wounded Van Damme flee from Lundgren, acts with a klutzy, off-putting artificiality.

Director Roland (Moon 44) Emmerich doesn't help himself by unimaginatively casting the subsidiary roles-there isn't one amusing secondary performance. Meanwhile, writers Richard Rothstein, Christopher Leitch and Dean Devlin, television veterans collaborating on their first feature, show a dismal lack of wit.

The action sequences are routine shoot-outs and punch-outs, even the inevitable confrontation between Lundgren and Van Damme. (Next to Lundgren, Van Damme seems ludicrously puny and outclassed, for one thing.)

Romantics may lake solace in the relationship that develops between Walker and Van Damme, even though it seems wildly unlikely-and their scenes together never suggest sex so much as they do appliance repair. (R)

Universal Soldier: The Return

Starring:
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Michael Jai White
Heidi Schanz
Xander Berkeley

Written by William Malone, John Fasano
Produced by Daniel Melnick, Michael I. Rachmil, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Allen Shapiro

Directed by Mic Rodgers

Giving sequels a bad name is this absolutely ridiculous sequel to Roland Emmerich's 1992 sci-fi actioner UNIVERSAL SOLDIER that somehow managed to get a theatrical release and drum up half of its squandered $19 million budget, presumably on the waning box office draw of returning star Jean-Claude Van Damme. Even the presence of talented martial arts actor Michael Jai White, who was stuck in career purgatory after starring in SPAWN two year prior could not salvage this cinematic disaster. It provides the perfect example of what happens when a filmmaker neglects sound plotting, clean editing and acting fundamentals in favor of mindless explosions, shootouts and fighting sloppily cut together and drowned in irritating metal music. Van Damme has starred in a fair number of disappointing action films but this is easily one of his worst as of 2010.

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN is the first solo directing gig for veteran stuntman and second unit director Mic Rodgers, a professional whose experience in handling action sequences extends to major films like BRAVEHEART, MR. & MRS. SMITH, NATIONAL TREASURE, and APOCALYPTO. It's also the last film he has directed which isn't surprising given how badly the direction of this movie is. Like the original film, THE RETURN is essentially a rip-off of better sci-fi movies but with the introduction of a rogue supercomputer it seems like the creators aren't even trying to mask their lack of creativity in the slightest.

Sporting a bit of gray, Van Damme returns to the role of Unisol Luc Deveraux but this time he has been fully rehabilitated from an emotionless killing machine into an ordinary human with a daughter and a sense of humor. Like a freed slave choosing to work as a slave master, he now works freely for the government, helping them to train other Unisols. Everything is fine and dandy until the government decides to cut costs by shutting down the program. When a "HAL 9000? supercomputer character at the Unisol facility named S.E.T.H. (Michael Jai White) learns of the cancellation it goes into self-preservation mode and begins to reprogram the Unisols. As they begin to take over the facility, Luc, now joined by another nosey TV reporter (Heidi Schanz) struggles to stop S.E.T.H. and his Unisol army. To make the struggle more tangible, S.E.T.H. conveniently downloads himself into a Unisol body which allows martial arts movie fans to witness a screen fight between Van Damme and White which presumably would be a lot more exciting than watching Van Damme roundhouse an off switch.

Problems with THE RETURN begin with its ludicrous script by writers William Malone and John Fasanco. It takes a cue from the completely forgettable TV-movie sequel UNIVERSAL SOLDIER II: BROTHERS IN ARMS by giving Unisols personalities, whereas in the original film these genetically modified super soldiers had lost nearly all sense of their humanity. This is best evidenced by a Unisol named Romeo, played by buff pro wrestler Bill Goldberg, who develops a smarmy rivalry with Luc that takes on added dimension when he is reprogrammed. Lack of personality was one of the few compelling elements about the Unisols because it made us pity their loss of humanity and free will, at least for Luc. In THE RETURN they're reduced to smirking, wise-cracking characters fit for a cartoon series for children. Yet the whole movie is more or less directed like a cartoon so at least there is some consistency here.

All acting across the board is uniformly dreadful. Even Daniel von Bargen, a usually dependable character actor portraying an Army general, struggles with his role. That means Van Damme and White don't stand a chance. The worst performances come from the women, notably Schanz as Luc's reporter friend and former ESPN fitness guru Kiana Tom as Luc's friend who hilariously gets turned into a female Unisol in a very bizarre bit role that appears to have been trimmed down. The monotone delivery of both women makes Ally Walker's turn as a stereotypical news reporter in the original UNIVERSAL SOLDIER look like an Oscar-caliber performance in comparison. Likewise, no praise can be spared for the actor portraying an obnoxious computer hacker who aids S.E.T.H. in claiming his body although that has more to do with the script which produces yet another cartoon character.

As with most action B-movies, many of the film's flaws could be forgiven so long as the action is good. That's not the case here. While there is plenty of mayhem in the film it's poorly arranged and edited with little suspense or reason behind it. For instance, the opening sequence is an elaborate jet ski chase that could have been the lead in for a low-budget James Bond movie but it makes little sense when you discover why it's happening. It's a flimsy gimmick like most of the action in the film. The gunplay is bland, explosions are cheesy and worst of all, the fight work is mutilated by confusing and excessively chopped up editing. The end fight between Van Damme and White represents a career low for both actors but blame again falls squarely on the direction and editing that completely destroys what could have been a decent match between two skilled screen fighters.

For their subsequent sequel UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENGERATION, father and son Peter and John Hyams pretty much ignored both TV sequels and this regrettable feature film sequel which was a good idea. Like the HIGHLANDER series, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER is a solid action B-movie that has largely been maligned by most of its successors. UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN is good for an unintended laugh but that's about it.

Volcano
Volcano(1997)

Starring:
Tommy Lee Jones,
Anne Heche,
Gaby Hoffmann,
Don Cheadle

Written by: Jerome Armstrong, Billy Ray
Produced by: Andrew Davis, Neal H. Moritz

Directed by: Mick Jackson

As a critic, I must remain as unbiased as possible before viewing a film. But I had mixed feelings going into "Volcano" because I knew what was going to happen. However, as routine as the film can be, I found myself genuinely interested throughout.

The film works in the spirit of all big budget Hollywood disaster movies: something strange is going on... no one knows what exactly... a strong leader calls in an expert... the expert realizes something terrible is about to happen... no one believes the expert... disaster ensues. Plus there are many other elements that are plugged in: canceled vacations, bratty daughters, offices with lots of computers and video screens, subplots of petty fighting and bigotry, and of course impressive special effects.

Tommy Lee Jones stars as Mike Roark, the director of L.A.'s Office of Emergency Management. He's about to go on vacation when some men die from some sort of geologically related accident, but there's something unusual about it. He calls in Dr. Amy Barnes (Heche), an "expert" who tells him what's going on isn't just typical earthquake stuff, but volcanic activity. It only takes a few scenes for Barnes' theory to be proven true as we see manhole covers fly into the air and fireballs engulf the sewer system and subway tunnels... then the real action starts.

And so we get scenes of total devastation with explosion after explosion and fire after fire while a river of lava slowly flows down Wilshire Boulevard, consuming everything in its path.

Films like this try to make themselves as plausible as possible by throwing in scientific jargon that makes perfect sense to us, even though we're not sure what it means. I found most of the rhetoric here to be easy to swallow, but I couldn't help feeling it was a little too convincing.

There isn't really a story here, just many scenes of teams of emergency workers, police, and firefighters doing all they can to stop the lava flow, evacuate citizens, and help the injured. Some of the individual scenes are visually impressive but quite cheesy, such as Jones and Heche dangling by a thread over the lava, or a rescuer using all his will to save someone, but not himself. There are also two stupid subplots involving racism and snobbishness that could only happen in L.A.

The characters are a bit bland and recycled though. Jones' Roark is the same character as Sam Gerard in "The Fugitive." Gaby Hoffmann is sweet at first as Roark's daughter Kelly, but becomes quite annoying by the end (not that it's entirely her fault). Heche and Cheadle are obviously going through the motions, but at least they don't over act, especially considering the situation.

I can't say much more about the film without nitpicking all its unrealistic and unbelievable aspects or describing the plot in detail. But for all the trite aspects and through all the cliches (don't think I didn't notice them), I couldn't help but be interested in seeing what happens next. The special effects did make the lava and the sense of disaster realistic, which I'm sure added to my interest.

"Volcano" certainly impressed me more than "Twister," which is strange considering how both are such movie machines. It has a few good points and makes for a fair amount of suspense, but the bad points are obvious and bring the film down. The title alone is a misnomer, there's no towering volcano here, just a little stump of one. Maybe it should have been called "The Secret Of The Ooze" (oh wait, that's already taken).

Universal Soldier: Regeneration

Starring: Andrei Arlovski, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme

Written by: Victor Ostrovsky
Produced by: Craig Baumgarten, Mark Damon, Moshe Diamant
Directed by John Hyams

If Roland Emmerich's "Universal Soldier" had been an independent film, made outside the studio system, with a skeleton crew, hand held cams, and few stuntmen, then it'd probably look, maybe even play, a little like director John Hyams' direct-to-video offering "Universal Soldier : Regeneration".

The second sequel to the smash-hit Jean-Claude Van Damme/Dolph Lundgren flick (which, for what it's worth, was a fun ol' flick - some great action sequences in it), and the first one to go straight to DVD, "Regeneration" is, not unexpectedly - considering the regrettable moribund box-office appeal of its leads - the most fiscally-friendly and no-frills of the series. And yes, it looks it. Maybe even plays it. But unlike the last sequel, which severely lacked some Andrew Scott-baddism, producers have managed to coax Van Damme and Lundgren back to the fold. And, age aside, they both bring it like it was, er, 1992. To say they save the film is a huge understatement. They're great!

Van Damme is probably only in half the film, and Lundgren might only be on screen for 15 minutes or so, but that's enough to plant the film with a 'worth a look' sticker. The boys bring it - and then some, especially in the rough and tumble skirmish they participate in near the film's end.

And watching the two masters of action mayhem at work reminds us (and will hopefully remind Hollywood) just how much more deserving both Van Damme and Lundgren are of being cast in bigger, better vehicles - the likes of which they both headlined in the 80s (Lundgren - "Masters of the Universe", "The Punisher" and so on), and 90s (Van Damme with "TimeCop", "Sudden Death", "Double Impact" and so on), respectively. They mightn't be the finest actors on the planet - but I will say, having recently seen Van Damme in "J.C.V.D" that the man is much more than brawn and high-kicks, he can act. He's even quite good here, bringing much more to the character than, I imagine, was on the page. And in addition, Lundgren is a master at bringing home a cheeky quip! He has some doozies here - but they know how to entertain. Really entertain. They're the real deal, too - they likely didn't have too many stuntmen doubling for them on this, because in most sequences you can see its Van Damme and Lundgren getting belt, or giving out the beltings, and if I didn't any better, I'd swear knuckles were actually touching in a couple of those fight sequences. More so, they're a charismatic couple of cats. Say what you will about either of them, but they're still two of the most entertaining and interesting mean guns in the action-movie arsenal. Great to see them paired up again.

If it sounds like I'm singing the praises of Van Damme and Lundgren more so than their latest movie, well, I guess I am. Thing is, if "Regeneration" had gone the way it was originally going to go - have it feature different actors, since Van Damme and Lundgren seemed reluctant to return (Lundgren, for instance, only signed on to the picture a few days before it went into production, after they re-wrote his lines for him) - it would've likely sucked worse than a cheap hooker. I say that because whenever the film is focusing on the 'third lead' of this thing, Andrei 'The Pit Bull' Arlovski (I suppose you'd say he'd the lead. He does appear in much more of it than either Van Damme or Lundgren), who plays the big bad, or becomes bogged down in exposition or stationary sequences that don't involve anyone handling a big-ass weapon or someone getting whacked, it's pretty clear there's nothing but a thin shell here.

In a nutshell, the story involves a group of terrorists taking over a power plant, and the military's attempts to take them down.

One of the doctors on the old Universal Soldier program has crossed over to 'the dark side', and with him, brings a few of his old robotic pals - predominantly, NGU (Arlovski). NGU's an unstoppable son-of-a-bitch that wipes his way through the military, and anyone else that gets in his way, quicker than a semi on a dusty highway. He hasn't got much to say, but he's got a lot to spray.

With him, the doc wakes up a clone of (original "Universal Soldier" villain) Andrew Scott (Lundgren), who, though at times questioning his alliance to the rogues that have given birth to him, is still is nasty and as a threatening as Scott.

With little options left, the military calls on Luc Deveraux (Damme), the UniSol who's been decommissioned for years. Reactivated and retrained, Deveraux must make a full-out assault on the heavily armed fortress - encountering both enemies new (Arkovski) and old (Lundgren).

Not to say the story is terrible, it isn't - - it's just that it's not an especially compelling one. It also doesn't feel like an extension of the previous films - and in fact, unless it was pointed out to us that the guys with the guns were 'Universal Soldiers', and JC and DL were back as Luc Devereaux and Andrew Scott, it could pass for a stand-alone film. I dare say the story was written to fit the foreign location (besides a couple of sequences, set inside a building in Virginia, it all takes place offshore) and the budget (probably a fifth of what the first film cost; thus it all essentially takes place in the one location). Understandable, but it's a pity, with a few more bucks, and some more lavish locations, the thing might've - like the original - gone off like a nympho in a pyjama party. Still, it's not half as bad as many might expect it to be.

There are three guys who save the picture from mediocrity and that's Van Damme, Lundgren, and director John Hyams. Accompanied by his father Peter (who directed Van Damme's "TimeCop" and "Sudden Death") on the Nikon, Hyams has crafted a fairly slick, rather showy action movie - considering the lowly sum he's got to work with. Knowing every penny counts, and likely eager to show the big boys how imaginative he is, the commercials director has crafted a film that's not so much an action-thriller (as the first was) as it is a war movie. He shows real flair here. Even the camera angles, movements and placement look like something out of "Full Metal Jacket". Give the man a budget, and I think he'll really hit it home.

So yeah, got a little bored in spots, but as soon as Van Damme and Lundgren entered the picture - and more so, came face-to-face - I found myself quite enjoying the latest (and likely, not the last) in the "Universal Soldier" series.

Icarus (Dolph Lundgren is The Killing Machine)

Cast:
Dolph Lundgren,
Stefanie von Pfetten,
Samantha Ferris,
Bo Svenson

Director: Dolph Lundgren

August 2010 will be a great month for fans of Mighty Dolph Lundgren -- especially the ones in the U.K. On Friday the 13th, the much anticipated, Stallone-directed actioner "The Expendables," featuring Dolph, opens worldwide -- and on the 16th, the Dolph-directed direct-to-DVD actioner "The Killing Machine" is released in the U.K. The movie is already out in Canada and several European countries, while the U.S. and Scandinavia have to wait til October.

"The Killing Machine," formerly known as "Icarus," is yet another ultra-violent movie starring Dolph Lundgren, who also directed -- but he didn't work on the screenplay this time around. Dolph has directed quite a few movies lately, of which "Command Performance" was an unusually successful D2DVD actioner. The movies directed by the Big Swede himself always have one thing in common--they're extremely violent! They can almost compete with Steven Seagal when it comes to gruesome splatter. More than one of Dolph's latest movies ends with him blowing the head of the main bad guy off with a shotgun. The big difference is that Dolph is a sympathetic guy, while Seagal comes out as a sadist.

"The Killing Machine" is exceptionally violent. Dolph plays mild-mannered businessman Edward Genn, always sporting suits. He's divorced from his wife, with whom he has a little daughter, he has a new girlfriend (but you can tell he still loves his former wife), and he's quit smoking, something that doesn't prevent him from putting a cigarette in his mouth every now and then -- but he never lights it.

However ... Mister Genn is leading a double life. Edward Genn isn't his real name. He's former KGB agent Icarus, and he still works as a hitman for the Russian mob to make money. He's elegant, he's professional, and he kills people. Dozens of people. Hundreds. Some are into scrapbooking; Edward Genn kills people.

Then one day it turns out there's a contract on Edward, and loads of people try to take him out. They blow his girlfriend up! Something that really pisses Edward off. He tries to protect his former wife (her new boyfriend is killed) and their little daughter, but everybody they trust is dirty. So Edward simply has to kill everybody in sight. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. The main baddie turns out to be a certain Russian, Vadim, from Edward's past. And this Vadim is played by none other than Mighty Bo Svenson!

Yes, boys and girls, ladies and pervs, there's not one, but two Swedish actors in this movie. Bo Svenson* is of course an action movie legend. Two of his latest movies are "Kill Bill" and "Inglourious Basterds." I've always wanted to see an action comedy starring Bo and Dolph as father and son, running a tow truck company in the mid-west. Car chases! Fist fights! Moonshine smuggling! Banjos on the soundtrack! In the sequel, they're all of a sudden sheriffs.

"The Killing Machine" isn't that movie, but I must admit I enjoyed this entertaining effort from director Lundgren. As a matter of fact, I think I enjoyed it more than "Command Performance." Dolph is 52, but he's looking better than ever and is über cool in his suits. Apparently, he only had 19 days to shoot this movie, and the version released isn't his director's cut. But maybe that's a good thing -- some of Dolph's movies, like "Missionary Man," have been a bit draggy and boring.Th is one is fast-paced. The movie contains a fight that ends with a bad guy getting his face impaled on a barbell. Splortch!

Clash of the Titans

Starring:
Sam Worthington
Gemma Arterton
Mads Mikkelsen
Alexa Davalos

Screenplay by: Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Produced by: Basil Iwanyk, Kevin De La Noy, Richard D. Zanuck
Directed by: Louis Leterrier

Unlike a lot of the Hollywood remakes being greenlit nowadays, I think most people can agree that Clash of the Titans is a film that was due for a makeover. The original was made in 1981 and featured stop motion effects created by Ray Harryhausen. Sure, they were cool at the time, but the film looks dated now, and it takes away from a fantastical story like this when the special effects are no longer cutting edge. Considering the current renewed interest in sword and sandals epics, this movie should have been an easy win for all parties involved.

Unfortunately for Clash of the Titans and director Louis Leterrier, the movie also managed to get caught in the middle of the Hollywood transition to 3-D. At the last minute, Warner Brothers decided to up-convert the film to 3-D in post-production in order to capitalize on the trend, a decision that has proven to be both distracting and problematic. The movie has plenty of other issues as well, but the poor use of 3-D is what ultimately underwhelms and puts the nail in the coffin for what should have been, at the very least, a satisfying visual spectacle.

The story is based on the myth of Perseus (Sam Worthington), the adopted son of a fisherman who does not know that he is actually the demi-god son of Zeus. When the people of Argos rebel against the gods, Zeus does not take kindly to their actions and allows his brother Hades to strike back (killing Perseus' parents in the process). Hades will release a Kraken (a giant sea monster) to destroy the city in 10 days, unless Perseus can stop him. Together with a band of warriors and his ethereal guide Io (Gemma Arterton), he sets off to do just that.

In some ways the story is immune to criticism because it's such a simple, archetypal tale, but they did stray from the original in a number of ways, mainly to add more CG and more sex appeal. Io was not in the original, but here she plays Perseus' love interest in place of Andromeda (his quest to answer a riddle for her hand in marriage is also excised). They also added a strange race of sand people, one of whom ends up tagging along and grunting like Chewbacca for comic relief. Yes, screenwriters Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (Aeon Flux, The Tuxedo) have created something that feels quite a bit like a George Lucas movie here... take from that what you will.

There are definitely two tones in competition with each other throughout the film. Clash of the Titans wants to be macho, dark and violent, but it's also a PG-13 adventure movie for the whole family. It's a hard balance because I think some of the monsters are probably too scary for younger kids, while the older kids have grown up with movies like 300 and video games like God of War and will probably wonder why this movie isn't more bad ass. One thing's for sure: almost all of the humour in this movie is groan-worthy and extremely corny.

Sam Worthington's sudden rise to stardom continues with this film, starring in his third major blockbuster in the span of a year after his roles in the ridiculously successful Terminator Salvation and Avatar. While he has a certain amount of charm, and an everyman quality, this is probably his least memorable performance out of the three. Perseus doesn't feel particularly heroic, since his stubbornness to use gifts from the gods just comes across as stupidity, rather than pride or bravery. The death of his parents is not built up enough to mean anything, and anytime they attempt to give him an inspirational, fist-pumping speech, the words just fall flat. He's no Viggo Mortensen, no matter how much Letterier wants this to be The Lord of the Rings.

I realize, however, that all anyone really cares about is the special effects. Clash of the Titans does deliver some pretty cool imagery at times, including some disturbing Pan's Labyrinth-esque creature designs and massive set pieces. As far as the action sequences go, I enjoyed the scorpion battle and some of the swordfights, but for every decent battle there is twice as much exposition that slows down the pace. I wasn't a huge fan of Leterrier's work on The Incredible Hulk, and once again he shows here that he knows how to orchestrate destruction, but he doesn't really know how to give scenes weight. Also, I think it's worth pointing out that certain characters (ie. Medusa) did not feel nearly as real or creepy in this version, so there's still a trade-off with the original.

If you're just going to the movies for an escape and for mindless eye candy, Clash of the Titans may satisfy on some level, but it's yet another big blockbuster that just feels very empty and personally I'm getting kind of tired of this. It has that generic paint-by-numbers approach where you can feel all the artifice behind it and never once are you drawn into the story. People who grew up with the original will not find a worthy replacement here, and I predict that in 5 or 10 years time, this one will look just as dated. Above all, stay away from the 3-D version of this film. Don't let studios sucker you in, because in this case, it adds absolutely nothing to the experience. Titans do clash, but I'm afraid that once the dust settles, titans will be all but forgotten.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger(1993)

Stars:
Sylvester Stallone,
John Lithgow,
Michael Rooker

Writing credits:
John Long (premise)
Michael France (screen story)
Michael France (screenplay)
Sylvester Stallone (screenplay)

Although undoubtedly special effects will dazzle in a newer version since Blu-ray clarity enhances some flaws from Cliffhanger's '93 technical wizardry, viewing Renny Harlin's film again in the best possible version since its seventeen year old theatrical run proves it hasn't lost its ability to thrill.



Having helmed the first sequel to Die Hard, from the moment Cliffhanger begins, you're reminded of what a stellar period the late '80s to mid '90s were for action films because they didn't rely too heavily on computers to achieve effects that could be done with stuntmen, invention, and thinking outside boxes that people hadn't even invented yet.



An important cinematic stepping-stone for Sylvester Stallone who had wrapped what we assumed was the last Rocky movie but had yet to find his footing yet post-Rocky or Rambo, in its '93 release Cliffhanger reminded us just what set him apart as an action hero. After walking away from the disastrous '92 comedy without laughs, Stop or My Mom Will Shoot, Stallone climbed the Rockies (or really the Italian Alps) under the guidance of Harlin and alongside co-stars Janine Turner, Michael Rooker, and John Lithgow.



And while it's easy to spot some of the doubles and shots that were filmed separately as the color changes when we see the men on the mountains verses Janine Turner flying the rescue chopper, Harlin's perfectionist mindset and desire to obtain as much reality as he can in the way the stunts were carried out helps set the movie apart from the pack. Aside from some of the extreme violence, the shot choices, edits, and masterful execution is always spot on, which can be evidenced right from its uneasy introduction.

Falsely setting up the movie's tone as a jokey Top Gun styled action comedy complete with Stallone's obligatory line that he's "just hangin' out" on the edge of a mountain, we're in for quite a surprise when the tone shifts into dark, urgent territory that's usually approached in the third act of an action film. What begins as a routine rescue shifts when something goes horribly wrong when Michael Rooker's girlfriend slips from the hanging upside-down one armed grasp of his rescue colleague Stallone's hand and plummets to her death.



With an audience that wasn't quite used to seeing heroes fail to save the damsel in distress, the opening of Cliffhanger-- which still made me jump seventeen years later-- ensures us that we aren't in the era of '80s superheroes without capes but regular blue collar heroes who doubted themselves like their movie descendants from the '70s.



Guiltily retreating from both his long-time girlfriend Jessie (Janine Turner playing a character who seems like a close relative to the pilot she portrayed on TV's Northern Exposure) and his best friend Rooker, Stallone returns a year back in the hopes he can persuade Jessie to leave the Rocky Mountains and start a new life with him elsewhere.



Lecturing him about his cowardice and betrayal in ditching them when they needed him the most, eventually Stallone's climber ends up meeting Rooker in a near deadly reunion on the edge of a cliff as Rooker lays into Stallone for the accidental death. Yet, the two have no choice but to work together, first out of duty as rescue workers and secondly as hostages when they're called into a fake emergency only to discover a group of ruthless criminals headed up by John Lithgow has stolen one hundred million dollars from the United States Treasury Department plane.

Topping the opening intensity of the damsel's free-fall, Harlin presents an action sequence that's so complicated that it may very well be his very best considering how much of it was real and how much was edited together effects wise. Breathlessly paced, the the mid-air two plane hijacking of briefcases of cash involving double-agents, surprise heroes and villains is Harlin's '90s version of the O.K. Corral shootout by setting it at twenty thousand feet by mirroring the pounding of our own hearts in the rapid cuts as the criminals discover that there is no such thing as easy money.



Creating the rest of the film's impossible plot, the plan goes so wrong that they crash land in one place and the three briefcases containing the money hit three completely different locations on the mountains as well. And obviously, since the Treasury Department is involved, the briefcases have three tracking devices contained inside, which necessitates Rooker and Stallone to be kept captive in order to play "fetch."



Sending Stallone up a mountain without his jacket as insurance and threatening to kill both when the money is retrieved, John Lithgow gleefully chews the snow off the scenery as the military trained criminal mastermind complete with an impossible to place over-the-top, only-in-the-movies accent that swings like a pendulum from quasi-British to Lithgow's impression of Peter Sellers' character Clouseau's boss Chief Inspector Dreyfus in The Pink Panther series.



Despite some major gaps in logic and a few, "well, why wouldn't they..." hypothetical questions that make you question some of the events, it's an entertaining blast of a movie that shouldn't be in the works to be remade but nonetheless a new version is scheduled to hit screens in 2011.



Yet, even by contemporary standards, Cliffhanger is at times still so outrageously violent that I can easily see why it was originally saddled with an NC-17 since it goes way too far in two fights in particular involving Cool Runnings actor Leon and another one with Rooker verses a UK soccer fan.

Co-written by Stallone, it's immediately apparent that he was truly at his peak in the film (no pun intended) as an aging but still remarkably handsome movie star whose life experience only added to the charisma we fell in love with in his earliest work.



And while Cliffhanger was written off by some critics at the time as just "Die Hard on a Mountain" especially considering the tie with Harlin, the formerly forgotten film has become a guilty pleasure. Thankfully, in celebration of its loyal fans, Sony chose to enough numerous special features on the Blu-ray transfer including commentary tracks and behind-the-scenes bonus extras, some of which were previously available in earlier disc releases.

Twister
Twister(1996)

Genres: Action/Adventure

Cast: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Lois Smith

Produced by:
Amblin Entertainment
Universal
Warner Brothers

Director: Jan de Bont

When Jan de Bont's Twister premiered in 1996, cinephiles snorted with contempt into their cappuccino bowls. Some were miffed that the studio film had swiped its title from Michael Almereyda's droll 1989 indie comedy of the same name but the consensus among the cognoscenti was that de Bont's follow-up to his mega-hit Speed (1994) was, stripped of its CGI effects, nothing more than The Philadelphia Story (1940) with inclement weather. While the presence of Bill Paxton, making a career transition from goofy character parts (Aliens, Predator 2) to leading man roles (Trespass, One False Move), was something of an inducement, the film squanders his talents with rote heroics while Helen Hunt (whose presence was paid for by the success of her hit NBC sitcom Mad About You) is an off-putting heroine whose dour facial expressions are meant to convey depth but communicate only sourness.

The supporting cast of young Hollywood hopefuls includes future Oscar (R) winner Philip Seymour Hoffman and future Oscar (R) nominated director Todd Field but the best work is turned in by, of all people, Jami Gertz. A decade past her ingénue roles in Less Than Zero (1987) and The Lost Boys (1987), Gertz is cast in the unenviable role of the romantic third wheel, the John Howard part, whose serial humiliation is meant to codify the undying love of estranged spouses Paxton and Hunt. While Gertz's cell phone abusing sex therapist is meant as comic relief, her moment of sad awareness that she has lost Paxton's affection (as she is drenched by a baptismal summer rain) provides this "eye-popping, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat roller coaster ride" with one true moment of natural wonder.

I went back for a second look at TWISTER and I wish I could report better things. The FX are still a gas. Flying tractors, rolling homes, and disintegrating barns; it's all there. Director Jan De Bont, along with Industrial Light and Magic, has effectively realized one of nature's most primal forces and I'm not talking about Jesse Helms. The effects-related thrills are so complete-- so edge-of-your-seat jaw-dropping-- that many may find themselves physically exhausted by the end. In that regard, TWISTER *works*. It excites, therefore it is. On a second viewing, though, the movie becomes more of a bore. The obvious problem-- beyond the missing momentum, overscored music, and shameless product plugs-- is the script. As written, TWISTER rests somewhere between the very bad and the very corny; somewhere between, say, SHOWGIRLS and MR. HOLLAND'S ANUS. (I'd call Richard Dreyfuss's Oscar nomination a special effect, wouldn't you?)

TWISTER opens on an Oklahoma farm, in 1969, where a little girl is about to be scarred by a storm. She'll endure the loss of Somebody Special and then grow up to look *just* like Helen Hunt. Cut to present day, to a pick-up truck traveling on an Oklahoma highway. Former storm-chaser Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) and his fiancee (Jami Gertz) are on their way to meet Jo (Helen Hunt), that now- adult little girl who is Bill's almost ex-wife. (Jo hasn't signed the divorce papers yet, because she's been busy working on Dorothy, get it?, an invention to study tornadoes.) Knowing how it all plays out, I think that we can interpret this scene as the first of many mistakes. Bill Harding isn't the focus of what passes for the plot. He's a strong presence, sure, but he shouldn't be the first person that we lay eyes upon. TWISTER, as we learn, is about that little girl and the storm that she remembers. Jo is the focus of this movie and *Jo* is the one who should be seen accommodating Harding and his fiancee and not vice versa.

The filmmaker's choice of a non-star cast-- a la JURASSIC PARK-- works well with regard to both Hunt and Paxton. They are good actors who exhibit a warm chemistry with each other, even as their dialogue grows increasingly empty-headed. Their light banter soon devolves into incidental exclamations along the lines of "watch out!", "take cover!", and "who wrote this crap?" (They're also very good at out-shouting each other.) No, we never get a sense of who their *characters* are, but they get an ample amount of screen time together and that's enough for most summer movies. Running from vehicle to vehicle and from storm to storm, Hunt and Paxton are also very physical in their roles. They finish the film fleeing the best cornfield dusting since NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

There's really enough story here, between these two characters, that we don't need the other elements. We don't need a team of rival storm chasers, led by Cary Elwes. (Cary Elwes? What's he doing here? If the script called for a "physically unthreatening opponent," then why didn't somebody hire Paul Reiser? He was very good in ALIENS, all those years ago.) We don't need to put a supporting character in peril, to either reinforce Jo's obsession or to put a "human face" on the devastation. (The scene involves a collapsed house and it just stops the movie in its tracks. What a waste of screen time.) And, we *certainly* don't need Jami Gertz, who's character-- a "reproductive therapist," Lord help us-- disrupts the tone about every eight minutes or so. She exists for comic relief (unnecessary) and to ask unscientific questions, so the movie can explain to us, in "plain English," what exactly "weather" is. (Personally, I wish she had asked about the radios and how these guys can simultaneously transmit on so many frequencies at once.)

As dazzling as the effects are, De Bont doesn't back them up with the expert editing that he showed us in SPEED. The storm sequences often last too long and give us too much time to adjust to what we're seeing. (Familiarity breeds lack of fear. A scene inside a car-garage pit plays like a theme-park ride at Universal Studios. Ditch it, but not before explaining why the fools keep looking in the direction of the flying debris.) Another glaring problem is that the film doesn't communicate a sense of either distance or time. We never know how far the characters have been traveling or how long they've been chasing a given storm. When TWISTER *does* come together, the action is usually on a smaller-scale. Paxton and Hunt swerving to avoid falling farm machinery; a tanker-truck that plops onto the highway in a burst of flames; and, the piece de resistance, a drive-in theater that's showing THE SHINING, with a screen that splinters while Jack is having his big ax attack. (Oddly, though, we're never shown any larger-scale devastation. No aerial shots of leveled towns, etc. etc.)

If the scenes were confined to Hunt, Paxton, and the tornadoes, then TWISTER would work just fine. Add their motley crew of assistants (Philip Seymour Hoffman, et al) for both comic relief and local color, and, viola, you've got a movie. The director could do worse than to recut this mess. Ditch the music, ditch the pop songs. Cut as many scenes as possible with Elwes and Gertz. Cut at least half of the incidental dialogue. Ditch the scene with the aunt and the collapsed house. Tighten tighten tighten and we might have something here. (And, since this is a Steven Spielberg production, maybe the idea of director's cut isn't *that* far- fetched. Are you listening Time-Warner marketing?) For now, in its present form, TWISTER is just a lot of wind. The FX are great, but, friends, outside of the funnel clouds, everything else sucks.

Baby's Day Out

Starring:
Joe Mantegna
Lara Flynn Boyle
Joe Pantoliano
Brian Haley
Adam
Jacob Worton.

Screenplay: John Hughes

Director: Patrick Read Johnson

Baby's Day Out is a family comedy film, which was released in 1994 and considered as the toddler brother of Home Alone.

Just as a little role playing exercise, pretend you're John Hughes. The HOME ALONE films have grossed somewhere in the neighborhood of a gazillion dollars, and you're not convinced that particular cow has been fully milked. Unfortunately, Macaulay Culkin has crossed the line from adorable moppet to gawky adolescent, and last year's variation on the theme, DENNIS THE MENACE, didn't do well enough to warrant a sequel. So what do you do? Apparently, you write and produce BABY'S DAY OUT, yet another kiddie-pleaser featuring copious cartoon mayhem directed at bad guys. Strangely, though, there is a modicum of originality present, thanks to imaginative visual effects and the charmed wanderings of Baby Bink.

Baby Bink (twins Adam & Jacob Worton) is the 9-month-old son of the wealthy Cotwells (Lara Flynn Boyle, Matthew Glave), self- absorbed socialites whose primary concern is getting Bink's picture in the paper. To that end they hire a photographer, but the three men (Joe Mantegna, Joe Pantoliano and Brian Haley) who show up at the Cotwell mansion have other plans for Bink ... plans that include a $5 million ransom. Of course, getting the ransom requires actually having the baby, and when Bink slips out through a window to explore New York, the three hapless kidnappers find themselves perpetually chasing down the little tyke, and racking up a growing injury count in the process.

For anyone who has seen either HOME ALONE or its carbon copy sequel, there is very little new to be found in BABY'S DAY OUT. Joe Pesci has been replaced by Joe Mantegna, and Daniel Stern has been split into Joe Pantoliano and comic Brian Haley. Mantegna appears embarrassed much of the time, making his slow burn look like a plea for sympathy from the audience. The scenes of the three villains being thwarted in their attempts to re-acquire Bink are a parade of Wile E. Coyote routines, most recognizably a shot of Haley dropping from a great height to produce a small plume of dust; director Patrick Read Johnson at times seems to cop more liberally from Chuck Jones than from John Hughes. Still, there are only so many ways that the male genitalia can be mangled before intense boredom sets in. I heard gales of laughter from kids in my audience at such mid-section humor, but I think they would have responded the same to a 90 minute loop of kicks to the groin.

What is most annoying about films like BABY'S DAY OUT is that they pretend to have an emotional message. In one scene, Lara Flynn Boyle tearfully acknowledges her misplaced priorities when the kidnapped Bink does appear in the paper, and later comforts Bink's distraught nanny by admitting that the nanny is probably more of a mother to Bink than herself. But BABY'S DAY OUT is no more about good parenting than SPEED is about traffic safety. Hughes and Johnson make no attempt to follow up these token gestures with any closure; it's just typical Hughesian troweled-on emotion to make the violence more palatable.

If there is one reason for anyone of driving age to sit through BABY'S DAY OUT, it is to see the clever special effects which allow Bink to survive every adventure with nary a smudge of dirt to tell the tale. One sequence finds him crawling across a busy street as cars whiz by in every lane but the one he happens to be in. Later, he makes his way through a construction site in Rube Goldberg fashion, sitting blissfully as tractors roll over him and sliding down girders onto moving elevators. These are fun moments, made all the more appealing by the adorable Wortons as Bink.

Naturally, Hughes ends BABY'S DAY OUT with a teaser for a sequel. But enough is enough, John. The Wortons are probably two by now; that doesn't mean you can squeeze four more films out of them.

Liar Liar
Liar Liar(1997)

Genre: Comedy

Starring:
Jim Carrey
Maura Tierney
Jennifer Tilly
Swoosie Kurtz
Amanda Donohoe

Written by: Paul Guay, Stephen Mazur
Produced by: Brian Grazer

Directed by: Tom Shadyac

Jim Carrey entertains himself mightily in Liar Liar, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Dressed in a bronze-gray double-breasted suit that suavely complements his handsomeness, he's playing a ''real person'' this time - gone is the Li'l Abner pompadour of the Ace Ventura films, the outsize lisp of The Cable Guy - and part of the fun of the movie is watching his madness erupt from an image of dapper, clean-cut normality. Carrey's Fletcher Reede is a defense attorney who reflexively tells people what they want to hear. Skidding through his day on an oil slick of euphemism, he hustles clients and judges, his ex-wife and coworkers, even himself. He's like an addict in denial; he barely recognizes that he's a pathological liar. All of this changes when his moptopped son, Max (Justin Cooper), having suffered one too many broken promises, makes a birthday wish that Dad stop lying for 24 hours. The wish comes true. Suddenly, Fletcher can't lie - he becomes physically incapable of spitting out anything but the truth, no matter how rude, embarrassing, or destructive. He becomes a pathological id.

It would be easy to imagine this premise used as a springboard for social satire, a parody of the way that all of us, to a greater or lesser degree, have to varnish the truth in order to get through the day. Overnight, Fletcher becomes a jack-in-the-box of sincerity. Barreling through his law office, he starts firing off insults at everyone in sight - the assistant with the hideous geek-punk braids he'd complimented only the day before, the schnook with a giant zit at the end of his nose. Later, he does the same thing at a board meeting, and the vicious quips pop like firecrackers.

Carrey, in a sense, has always been a compulsive liar. His comic persona is rooted in sarcasm, which he stylizes to such a manic degree that it becomes a mock form of conviction. (He's utterly sincere about his insincerity.) In Liar Liar, honesty turns him into a surreal comic hellion. The truth is like a tornado that keeps erupting out of his mouth and rebounding through his body. Desperate to see if he can still lie, Fletcher clutches a blue felt-tip pen and works himself into a convulsive frenzy trying to utter the sentence ''The color of the pen is red.'' He works to get his lips around it, to write it on a piece of paper, but he's like a man in a straitjacket. The more he tries to lie, the harder the truth straps him in. Carrey, tying his face in knots, builds a demented rhythm out of suppression and release, so that when the truth bursts out of him we feel his simultaneous horror and joy. Fletcher knows he's ruining his life, but he's like someone who has to regurgitate and, finally, does.

Liar Liar was directed by Tom Shadyac, who made Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and showed a surprising human touch in the Eddie Murphy remake of The Nutty Professor. Shadyac is trying for a human touch here, too, but this time the emotions feel processed. The sentimental story, in which Fletcher the fickle dad learns to be true to his son, is straight out of a Chevy Chase movie or Jingle All the Way. Then again, Liar Liar isn't a ''family'' comedy or even a real satire. Its central relationship isn't the one between Fletcher and the people he now has to tell the truth to. It's the one between Jim Carrey and himself.

I wish I could say that Liar Liar was one long Jim Carrey high. Like most of his films, it's at once witty and repetitive, inspired and exhausting. In court, Fletcher has to represent a wealthy adultress (Jennifer Tilly) in a divorce case. The situation of an unscrupulous attorney denied his bag of tricks is almost too obvious, and by the time that Fletcher, insane with frustration, walks into the men's room and literally beats himself up, the film has begun to exhibit some of the raucous single-mindedness that undermined The Cable Guy. Carrey is undeniably a virtuoso. At his best in Liar Liar, he's like the missing Marx Brother -- Sleazo. At this point, though, a little less of him might be more. He could make an even funnier movie if he started to let some other performers bounce a few good lines off him.

The Last Samurai

Starring:
Tom Cruise,
Ken Watanabe,
Koyuki,
Timothy Spall,
Billy Connolly

Directed by: Edward Zwick

In dubbing this film 'Dances with Samurai', Tom Cruise's latest attempt to score himself an Oscar at last, I feel the critics have sold The Last Samurai short. Instead of the self-indulgent, testosterone fuelled, one man show I was expecting, I found myself gripped by a moving, intelligent and deeply heartfelt film.

This is quite exciting. All year, I've taken up 2-3 hours of my time to devote to Japanese cinema. Most of the movies that I've watched circled around the 1950s and 1960s. I've encountered various Samurai films and I'm very fond of the Japanese culture, richness and depth. This would mean that I'm going to be very critical and analytical while watching The Last Samurai. I've seen it once, about 10 years ago, in theatres with my mother and I remember the movie being extremely long and it being a drag back then. Times have changed. I've begun to appreciate cinema differently. I can now recognize and be grateful to the poems and melodies that are sung in a foreign language, the complexity of a particular culture or society and most importantly, the beauty that lies between action and silence.

I cannot begin to describe how great a job Edward Zwick has done by directing this film. The Last Samurai turned out much better than I expected it to be. There is no one or two things that stood out to me during the film. Normally, I'd applaud amazing direction, the story telling or the likes of the great actors blessed to our generation. This movie has 'feeling'. At 1st, I wondered how Hollywood would take on something so big! It obviously isn't a minuscule task, replicating a culture of another country, cinema or caste. I remember Danny Boyle made my city seem to be after watching Slumdog Millionaire. There's a heavy risk, wouldn't you agree? So, I was a bit sceptical at 1st but after the first few scenes, I decided to go about an open mind and enjoy the film. I was overwhelmed by the detailing put forward in this film. There is so much attention given to the 1st half of the film. Many would believe how the film doesn't speak much about the 'samurai' culture, rather an American man dumped in regions of Japan. You'll be shocked with how much the film has ended up covering. I've watched a lot of Japanese cinema over the year; hence the film obviously shown as the late 1800s, portrays how the samurai clan were battled upon by gunmen. The Last Samurai sparks up the honour which lies beneath every samurai's heart dealing with all sorts of difficulties yet never forsaking his clan. There's obviously tremendous hatred against 'arms' [guns]. A true samurai would never prefer dying by the hands of a gunman. We've seen this so often in modern Samurai films - The Twilight Samurai [2002] one being. The team has kept in mind the appearance of the ways in which these warriors [samurais] presented themselves; with their heavy armour during war and lose kimonos when home.

There are scenes with regard to seppuku [or hara-kiri as many term it]. It was quite fascinating in the ways in which the storyteller explained to his audience the meaning behind Japanese culture and tradition. Nathan Algren [played by Tom Cruise] was the tool [medium] to pass on this message across. Tom Cruise, by the way has played an exceptional role. You give any kind of role to this man and he'll act his heart out to you. He seems like a perfectionist to me, at least that's how he's appeared in the films that I've seen him be a part of. His character was rather interesting. He starts of as a drunk retired Captain who seemed to be very snobbish, egocentric and offensive to his surroundings; later following the 'nothing to live for/nothing to die for' attitude. His character shifts majorly after finding his spiritual path through the Japanese [Samurai] traditions and art of fighting. He falls in love with the people, children, art and lifestyle; where he decides that he needs nothing to seek any further retribution or any form of redemption. His past was a haunting one - similar to nearly any solder in any film. He takes a while, but eventually breaks past this pain and suffering; lifts himself up once again and turns against the evils of war.

I'll be taking back a handful of scenes with me as I'll, occasionally recall playing them in my head over and over again for years to come. There's obviously some sort of real excitement watching a samurai film in colour to begin with!! Do you know how amazing it felt watching those swords cut open necks and backs of those coward gunmen!? I was already excited knowing that The Last Samurai was a Warner Brothers development. I knew for a fact that we'd be expecting a cracker of a film. I wasn't wrong at all. One of the most impactful scenes for any film maker would be an entry and exit stages of a character, right? The scene in which the samurais 1st enter battle - did you not feel your pulses ringing? The armour, bows and arrows, battle helmet [along with the mask] and blood dripping off their swords pumped up my adrenaline for a minute or two. It was a delight. Alright, I think it's time I get passed this scene, don't you think?
Did anyone feel the pain, the way in which I did after young Nobutada had his hair cut off? To a samurai, his hair is most sacred and the man must endure maximum shame once it had been cut off. In this case, the filmmakers seemed a little generous, but it applies differently, as far as I understand. I couldn't witness that scene. In a way, it seemed as if a blade cut through my skin, slowly but painfully. I wouldn't want to be next to a samurai while I'd be watching that scene.

It's strange how much we've learnt already from this film. Would it be weird to know about how samurais don't fear death? Some say that they welcome it, fight alongside it; but I believe that a true samurai values and most importantly respects his death. We learn this from the film as well. I'm glad that we were on the same page there. It's always best when one connects with a film, right? We also learn how the meaning of Samurai is 'To Serve'. If you've noticed in the legendary film - Schichinin no Samurai [Seven Samurai], the peasants share an extremely strong bond with the Samurais pleading them to save them from the bandits of the city. Does it seem a bit familiar? Only, in this case, the movie ends with the heritage clan falling to dust by the hands of an almost wise emperor. It was a shame, the way in which the film ended. I wouldn't have seen an alternative ending though; this had to be it. Al though, I loved the ass kicking sword play and those mouth-watering action packed choreographed scenes towards the end of the film. Bravo! The tactics were played out well, weren't they? Once again, it reminded me a lot of Seven Samurai and a recently watched film '13 Assassins'. The widow, Taka played a genuine simple role, nearly similar to almost every Japanese widow/wife in any film I've seen of late - her silence and her beauty spoke many words.

Was it me, or did you too recognise the early works of Hans Zimmers' genius? Halfway through the film, dialogues kept mum because all I could hear were the orchestras passing into my ears. It sounded a lot familiar during a heavy or impactful scene. I don't know how the man does it over and over again. Normally, Japanese films are a lot silent, comparatively, with the biwa [Japanese instrument] playing a few notes in the background every now and then. There's never an experience of a complete orchestra favoured by a samurai battle - I'd never see it happening to be honest. So, it was a little weird at the start, but it did a good job; that's what matters.

I enjoyed the film more than most others would. Many would probably find it a drag. I remember how I did 10 years ago; when I had no clue about what I was actually looking for. The film played its cards perfectly to me. Always remember that 'the sword is considered to be the soul of a true samurai.' If Akira Kurosawa was still alive, he'd be proud of this Hollywood effort and attempt to share this spectacle.

Van Helsing
Van Helsing(2004)

Directed by: Stephen Sommers

CAST:
Hugh Jackman
Kate Beckinsale
Richard Roxbourgh
David Wenham
Kevin O'Connor

No aspect of the plot is worthy of analysis. Van Helsing was in great part a feature-length advertisement for a Play Station game of the same name, so that shooting flying girl-vampires is intentionally designed to look like a video game sequence rather than like an event in an actual adventure.


The "Order" in Vatican City sends the famous monster slayer, Van Helsing to Transylvania to protect a family from the evil clutches of Count Dracula. Accompanying him is the "Order's" genius weapon creator, Carl. Velkan and Anna Velarious, brother and sister, are the last of the Velarious family. Once the last descendant of their family is dead, Count can rule the world. Velkan is killed by a werewolf sent by the Count shortly before Van Helsing arrives.

Van Helsing and Carl arrives at the village to an unwelcome reception. They meet Anna who refuses their help. Within minutes of meeting, Count's three vampire brides attack the village in an attempt to kill Anna. Van Helsing kills one of the brides, Marishka, and the other two Aleera and Verona retreat. Anna reluctantly accepts Van Helsing's services.

Later that night, Anna's dead brother, Velkan returns from the dead as a werewolf and under the power of Dracula. Velkan appears before Anna as a human and then transforms into the beast in an attempt to kill her. Van Helsing steps in and battles her werewolf brother. Anna stops Van Helsing before he is about to kill Velkan. She tells him that there might be a way to save him. They have three days to find the cure that Dracula holds before Velkan is turned into a werewolf forever.

Van and Anna travel to the Dracula's castle and discover thousands of eggs which they assume are Dracula's offspring. Using Frankenstein's formula for reanimation, Dracula brings his offspring to life. The gremlin looking vampire offspring attack the village in order to feed and become stronger. Unfortunately there's a missing piece to the formula as the gremlin bats die unexpectedly. Also in the castle, Dracula and Van confronts each other and the Count drops a "I know your history bomb" onto Van, who apparently doesn't know his secret past.

Van and Anna escape and flee to a destroyed wind mill, fall through some old, burnt wooden boards and find Frankenstein hiding in the dark. Frankenstein tells them that he holds the key to the formula's success. Over hearing the conversation is Dracula's werewolf spy, and he flees before Van can kill him. Disturbed by the sudden turn of events, Van promises Frankie protection from Dracula in Rome in order to keep the secret hidden and protected. Frankie agrees and the three of them venture back (and pick up Carl on the way) to Rome.

On the way, they get ambushed by Velkan the Werewolf and Dracula's remaining bitches (brides). The convoy crashes, Van gets bit by the werewolf and Anna gets captured by the vampire bride, Verona or Aleera. One of the hot ones. Actually it's Aleera, Verona dies in the incident. How dare they kill her?! (Silvia Colloca: Verona; pictured left) Once in Rome, Aleera offers Van an exchange, Anna for Frankie. Van agrees, only if it's done in public. Of course Count sets up a trap, eventually getting his hands on Frankie.

Now Van must confront Dracula to free Frankie, and possibly obtain the secret werewolf cure Dracula holds. Because only a werewolf can beat Dracula. So as a backup plan, Count always has a vial of werewolf cure just in case things get a little hairy. Eventually Van turns to a wolf and dukes it out with Count while Anna battles Aleera, and Carl battles Igor.

It's great seeing all the favorite legendary monster on the big screen with each other. For some reason, history always suggests that Frankie is a good guy out of the bunch. Turn him evil! That would be much funner. Dracula portrays the ultimate bad guy, and wolf man is just a pawn bitch. Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde was a little bit over the top fake CGI-ish. It kinda rubbed me the wrong way.

The end of the movie was a little disappointing. It became a little too CGI heavy with the final battle between Count and Van. The battle was like watching a video game in the movie theater. There was just a "real life" element missing to the end. Too much CGI!

Hugh Jackman playing Van Helsing...yeah, I couldn't see it. Maybe it's because I only see him as Wolverine now. I'm sorry, I've "type-casted" him. He's now the Luke Skywalker of the X-men series. Sorry Hugh! The best character in the movie happened to be Carl, Van's side kick. He was played by David Wenham, better known as Faramir from Lord of the Rings. He was a pretty like able, funny character. He was a monk...I mean Fryer, as he would put it, that was the "Order's" weapon genius.

Romeo + Juliet

CAST:
Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau, Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Sorvino, Brian Dennehy

Writing credits:
(WGA)
William Shakespeare (PLAY)
Craig Pearce (Screen Play)
Baz Luhrmann (Screen Play)


Directed by:
Baz Luhrmann


I wanted to review one of the Red Curtain Trilogy by Baz Luhrmann so I thought that the one most people have seen might be a good start. Most English students in Britain are likely to have seen this movie as it's a really accessible entrance to Shakespeare, modernizing the classic Romeo and Juliet to a Los Angeles-like city. This was a rather controversial choice as it differed so far from a classical version, such as the previously best known 1960s film by Franco Zeffreili which is very traditional.

Although Romeo + Juliet is modernised and filled with pop songs from the 90s it stays very closely to the plot and dialogue of the play. What is very impressive is the film making and the very modern style in which it is shot, making it a fascinating movie. As the recent Ralph Fiennes film adaptation of Coriolanus shows, there is a market for modernizing Shakespeare also seen in movies such as O which modernizes Othello to an American high school and even 10 Things I Hate About You which is based from Taming Of The Shrew.

Shot of T.V reporter talking about the latest gangland fighting on an old T.V in a place they call 'fair Verona' but you can see nothing fair in this corrupt place, ruled by two families with a police force not powerful enough to deal with either family.

So starts the movie. By making the narrator a reporter you have the bleeding edge representation of the MTV generation symbolizing how knowledge is filtered through the TV. The next big changes occur through making both the houses of Capulet and Montague big companies which loath each other and direct rivals in a seedy beach city which feels like a cross between Rio and Los Angeles. The audience see jump cuts of the place and you quickly realise what sort of a place it is: a violent, divided setting with lots of firepower at the disposal of individuals.

You pull out your pistol, ripping it from your waist band, aiming down on the sights. This argument has got all serious. All you wanted was a bit of gas. You remember what your father said about no more gunfights, no fights with Capulet's but all around you see signs to let lose your aggression. You see guns everywhere. You see your kinsman hit while running. You see fuel everywhere. You wonder why not? What's the worst that could happen? You're thrown by an explosion and while flying you wonder what's happened to your lovelorn cousin...

The movie takes a very clean slate approach to its modernization. The variety of swords are replaced by an array of pistols. The Montague's and Capulet's and various other characters travel around in modified sports cars and the Prince of Verona is a police captain with his own helicopter and sharpshooters. This is quite dizzying for those familiar with the great bard's text as you wonder where the original story remains other than the Shakespearean verse. But really it's just been modernised.

The film stars Leonardo Di Caprio as Romeo, before he was famous but still very pretty, Juliet (Clair Danes), Tybalt (John Leguizamo), the Father Lawrence (Pete Postlethwaite) and Mercutio (Harold Perrineau). This cast of new actors and old hands means it still feels like a fresh movie even after all these years. It is still the most approachable and proper Shakespeare movie ever made and it is filled with lots of great visual references from the delivery company being called Post Haste to the names of the guns: Sword 9mm, Rapier 9mm, Longsword.

Another one of my favourite aspects is the outfits. It feels right that Juliet should be dressed as an angel and Romeo as a knight in shining armour and they should meet by a tank. It works so well but it's difficult to describe why it does. Both leads look older than the Zeffreili movie and the text which has Juliet at 13 and Romeo being mid 20s. Here the age difference is less and the relationship slightly different due to the modern setting and sensibilities but all the major scenes are there, with novel approaches such as Queen Mab being slang for an LSD type drug and the balcony being over a swimming pool. This is all filled with the hottest music from the mid-90s from the Cardigans, Mundy, and Radiohead. It gets the aggression of the text though the use of pathetic fallacy, especially with the death of Mercutio. Juliet's father has something of the Corleone about him, especially when he beats the crap out of his daughter for refusing Paris.

You flick through the channels on your old set. You want to find the news. There has been the sound of helicopters, gunfights, cars racing away, screeching to a halt and you have given one of your last vials of poison to someone who looked desperate and very wet. What you remember while looking for any news channel is that he has a wound in his stomach and in pain and grief all over his face, even in the rain you can see tears. You feel inwardly guilty for pointing a shotgun at him, pretending you don't have what he seeks. He throws his money at you; you relent and try to start talking to him, declaring its effectiveness like a snake oil salesman. He looks unconcerned and lost like someone who has seen the edge and is willing to leap to oblivion. You wish he would go quickly, hearing the sirens come closer with the distinct sound of helicopters coming nearer, knowing the charge for being unlicensed. He goes, thanking you which you find odd. You don't find the news that night but the next day you see a funeral announcement and a picture you thought you'd never see. Ted Montague and Fulgencio Capulet, arm in arm, tears flowing like children and you see bodies under sheets and hear the great tale of Romeo and Juliet who in death unite their families in grief. You see a head shot at the end of the piece about Romeo and you recognise him and see what a pretty bride he was making. You're wistful for your lost youth. You hope this will end the bloodshed so common criminals like yourself can operate, but you are not hopeful.

The Exorcist
The Exorcist(1973)

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: William Peter Blatty

Along with Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Omen (1976), The Exorcist made the devil into a Hollywood celebrity, and the three films spawned numerous sequels and imitators. By placing a child in unimaginable physical distress and not flinching, The Exorcist made by far the biggest impact. While the devil was responsible for Regan's horror, the film pinched the nerve of panic that children can be lost to all-powerful external forces (drugs, crime, disease), and that the medical establishment can be utterly helpless. The church becomes the final resort, and desperate ancient rituals the path to salvation. The Exorcist can almost be blamed for setting the bar of disaster too high: anything that afflicts a child short of a demonic possession can't be too bad.


One of the most disturbing films ever made, The Exorcist retains its ability to shock. William Friedkin's adaptation of the best-selling novel by William Peter Blatty preys on the darkest fear of every family: that a child can be lost to forces that are evil beyond comprehension.

The elderly Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) discovers ancient artifacts at a huge archaeological dig in northern Iraq. He also confronts the large statue of an ancient demon. In Georgetown, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), a famous actress, is temporarily living in an upscale house while a filming a movie on the university campus. Chris is divorced, but has an excellent relationship with her 12-year old daughter Regan (Linda Blair). Also on the Georgetown University campus, the young Father Karras (Jason Miller) is going through a crisis of faith. He is struggling to care for his sick and elderly mother, and when she eventually dies, he blames himself.

At night, Chris starts to hear strange sounds inside the house. Regan starts to uncharacteristically mis-behave, and claims that her bed is being rocked violently. Regan becomes more irritable and difficult to handle; a battery of physical and psychological tests fail to reveal a cause. Chris' boyfriend, film director Burke Dennings (Jack MacGowran), dies in mysterious circumstances when looking after Regan, and is found at the bottom of the narrow staircase outside the house, his head rotated 180 degrees. With a dead body on his streets, Lieutenant Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb) starts to investigate the strange goings-on around Regan, but he is unable to come up with answers.

Now fully possessed, Regan's physical appearance changes to a hideous monster, and she is capable of summoning incredible strength, rotating her head, levitating, and hurling green vomit and a stream of obscenities at anyone who approaches her. Chris is forced to keep Regan tied up in her bedroom. With the medical interventions yielding no results, Chris turns to Father Karras and demands that he perform an exorcism. Fathers Merrin and Karras eventually team up to confront the demon that has taken over Regan's body.

Under Friedkin's guidance, The Exorcist chooses its spots to deliver devastating blows, before building to the stunning climactic scene of exorcism. Much of the film is devoid of explicit suspense, the evil lurking beneath the surface and poking its head to create terror in a few chosen moments. Outside of Regan's bedroom, life seems to go on as normal, Chris getting ever more frantic as her daughter slips into the clutches of evil, but the doctors just wanting to run more tests. Friedkin inserts quick scenes of sharp horror to mark Regan's possession, and the sudden jolts of abomination stand in stark contrast to life's attempted normality.

As the transformation of Regan is given time to develop, many scenes are dedicated to the back story of Father Karras. Losing his faith, losing his mother and racked by guilt, Karras is wondering what his purpose in life is. His journey to despair parallels Regan's descent to hell, and the two will meet when Karras realizes that he does have one more mission to fulfil. Jason Miller brings Karras to life with a deepening sadness behind his dark eyes, a man suffering his own version of a journey into blackness.

Ellen Burstyn anchors the film as the celebrity mom, happy in her career and raising a well balanced child, with a cool exterior that starts to crumble when she is slowly forced to confront the unthinkable. Burstyn adequately represents the mounting dread of the audience, without ever stamping full authority on the film. Linda Blair was 14 years old when she portrayed Regan, a role that would haunt the rest of her troubled and ultimately disappointing career. Blair succeeds in establishing Regan as a sweet 12 year old, before gradually disappearing under increasing layers of hideous make-up as her plight worsens. Both Blair and Burstyn suffered injuries during filming as Friedkin successfully pushed the boundaries to heighten the impact of the physical violence.

The Exorcist is a dark, brooding, and unrelenting trip to horror's deepest heart.

Ratatouille
Ratatouille(2007)
½

Genre: Animation
Theatrical Release: June 29,2007
Distributor: Walt Disney, Pixar Films The Cast:
Starring: (voices)
Patton Oswalt,
Ian Holm,
Lou Romano,
Brian Dennehy,
Peter Sohn
Written and Directed by :
Brad Bird Jim Capobianco ,
Emily Cook,
Kathy Greenberg,
Jan Pinkava

Pixar continues to amaze with Ratatouille. While their previous film, Cars, was a letdown in the story department, Ratatouille may well rank in their top three finest efforts. The story is engaging, the animation groundbreaking, and the heart pouring from the screen. This is a gorgeous film, and it may be Pixar's first that entertains adults first, children second.

Remy the rat (voiced by Patton Oswalt) has one dream in life: to be a world-class chef in Paris. His idol is Gusteau, a plump man whose phrase "anyone can cook!" resonates immediately with Remy. The problem is, of course, that rats aren't welcome in the kitchen. Remy's chance, however, comes in the form of a young, klutzy newcomer named Linguini (voiced by Lou Romano). One night Remy is caught stealing food from the Gusteau kitchen, and the head chef, Skinner (voiced by Ian Holm), orders Linguini to kill Remy. The two team up, since Linguini can't cook at all and must save his job, and become the toast of Paris. Meanwhile, sinister food critic Anton Ego (voiced by Peter O'Toole) has put Gusteau's place on his chopping block. Can the restaurant be saved?

Writer/Director Brad Bird marries nearly every element we love about the movies into this feature. He grabs the audience emotionally and takes us for a true adventure. The main reason Pixar blows their competition out of the water is because their team crafts actual original stories with well-defined characters. Bird wisely avoids what is so hit-and-miss about the genre these days, namely pop culture stabs and unproven big-celebrity voice talent.

In this movie, director, and writer Brad Bird take us to the city sewage's of Paris and the famous Gusteau restaurant where a simple and clumsy a garbage boy Luguini (Lou Romano) is employed along with a host of cooks, an excon, a over critical woman, with a love interest in Luguini, and an evil head chef. Lugunine befriends a rat whose been flushed into the sewers due to an accident, and as a result is separated from its family and coterie. Remmy, ( Patton Oswalt) the rat is our featured character and infamous cook who wants to be a great chef. Meanwhile, the restaurant has been hurt by a negative review by the famous food critic, Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole) as a result, Remmy, the rat and Luguini team up and with the marionette touch of Luiguini hair by Remmy they blend together the best soups, and dishes of Paris the Gusteaus restaurant survives, and is back on top. Remmy can't show his rat appearance, but he must stay in the hat of Luguini. Luguini gets the recognition for being the best cook.

Later we discover that Remmy, the rat is the mastermind behind the fabulous menus, and as result, the staff makes this discovery and quit the restaurant. It is now up to Luquni and Remmy to make this business survive. Remmy calls in his father, and an entourage of rats to prepare the meals. Meanwhile, the head chef a greedy person want to have complete control of the restaurant, and conjures up schemes to undermined the restaurants longevity when calling the health inspector to report a rat infestation. Later food critic Anton Ego has learned of the restaurant's success, and returns for another meal and is served a delicious memorable ratatouille dish that strikes his heart. As the movie goes on time tells us what happens next to the famous Gusteau restaurant as a result of Remmy's input.

Inclosing, while "Ratatouille" may be a bit long for the children as I heard many of the children speaking during the movie, and moved around a great deal. Children can look forward to entertaining and fun visuals of an well-animated and comedic profile of rats. As for its storyline, I thought it was cute, and very well done along with a nicely voiced cast. Disney, and Pixar films have once again provided its audiences with a splendid dose of animation and well done computer generated graphics, and art. Ratatouille overall is the perfect summer movie that all audiences will find enjoyable.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
½

You know, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters didn't have to be terrible. True, it's the kind of concept that presages yet another po-mo, slo-mo, wink-wink action variation on something supposedly classical. But much like its title, the movie overstates its case. Fairy tales and myths have always worked more as armatures for our own imaginary wanderings rather than fully fleshed-out stories. So the film starts out at least half a step behind its own audience - it's too in love with the idea of Grimm standbys Hansel and Gretel growing up to be heavily armed, badass witch slayers, as if this is the first time anyone has thought of it. As a result, the film fails to actually do anything with the idea, except to keep highlighting how awesome it thinks it is.
The movie opens with a slightly darker variation on the classic fairy tale, with young Hansel and Gretel being captured by, and eventually prevailing against, a hideous witch who lures them with her candy house. But all that's prologue, as narration by a grown-up Hansel (Jeremy Renner) reminds us. Now he and his sister (Gemma Arterton, still stunning) roam the countryside dispensing justice against witches with an arsenal of anachronistically elaborate weapons. This time out, they have to contend with a particularly powerful witch (Famke Janssen) who appears to have found a way that will allow her and her fellow witches to blend in among ordinary humans. For some reason, this doesn't prevent Janssen, one of our most underappreciated actresses, from being uniquely wasted by the movie, which makes her spend most of its running time hissing and shrieking and covered in garish makeup.
The good news is that the actors appear to be having fun. The bad news is that we're not. I may be the world's only fan of Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, but that much-maligned film at least had the right idea: It actually tried to build real characters (in its case, the Grimms themselves) in order to play them off a cast of iconic fairy-tale figures in ironic situations. You would think Hansel & Gretel would have the good sense to try and turn its two lead characters into figures we could relate to - seeing as how centuries of children have already done so. But the movie can't be bothered. Instead, it plays out as a series of postures, constantly repeating its central conceit - framing our heroes in ostentatiously heroic poses, ladling on the gore effects and the slow motion and the exploding bullets and state-of-the-art crossbows and whatnot. It's a lot of noise and whooshing camera effects and little else - frantic, yet lifeless. If the similarly situated Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter took itself too seriously, the problem with Hansel & Gretel is that it doesn't quite take itself seriously enough - which sounds insane, but it's not too much to ask that the movie go beyond its one and only joke. Instead, amid all the fake Sturm und Drang, all we hear is the movie giggling to itself.

Renner, normally an engaging presence, gives a performance so dull and dreary that he barely comes across as a character, let alone as a human being. He must have known that the material was unworthy of his talent; that would definitely explain why he couldn't muster up the energy necessary to take interest in his role. Because he distances himself, the inevitable blossoming romance between his character and that of actress Pihla Viitala cannot be taken seriously. She plays a mysterious yet kind young woman named Mina, whose ultimate purpose to the story is so transparent that it registers as nothing other than an anticlimax. This wouldn't have been a problem had anyone worked to make the film entertaining.

How is it possible that, although we understand how wicked the bad witches are, their deaths, especially towards the end of the film, still come off less like the slaying of villains and more like a brutal ethnic cleansing? Perhaps I'm uncomfortable with the development of the siblings - or, more specifically, of Hansel, whose trauma sparked a hatred within him that eventually fanned into flames of intolerance. Although he's helping innocent children, his need for justice has nevertheless turned him into a homicidal monster. This too could be influenced by news media society, which tells us that some child predators can actually be treated, though not altogether cured. The more I think about Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, the more I come to the conclusion that the underlying concept is more disturbing for today's audiences that it probably was for yesterday's readers.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, Jackie Chan

In the last couple decades great progress has been made towards reversing one of the worst and most common misconceptions in Hollywood: that animation is only for kids. Moving away from overly simple storytelling and jokes only found funny by those who can count their age on one hand, screenwriters and directors in the animated world are no longer afraid of darker themes, meaningful stories and richer characters. This wonderful shift continues in Kung Fu Panda 2. Deepening the surprising maturity of its predecessor, the movie successfully takes story beats from classic kung fu stories and dials back on the humor without letting things get too dark and dramatic, creating a work that is both meditative and immensely entertaining.

Picking up where the first film left off, Po (Jack Black) has eased into his position as the Dragon Warrior, when the world of kung fu is threatened by the return of Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), a villain who has built a weapon of mass destruction. What Po doesn't know, however, is that Lord Shen holds the key to his history and the knowledge of who he really is. Working with the kung fu masters known as the Furious Five (Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen and Jackie Chan), Po is not only on a mission to save China, but on a journey of self-discovery.

The most impressive thing about Kung Fu Panda 2 is the way in which it takes adult themes - including fate, revenge and identity - and makes them accessible to a family audience without lessening their impact. Those still wondering how a goose (voiced by the wonderful James Hong) ended up being the dad of a panda will laugh during the father-son confrontation, but feel powerful emotions when flashbacks reveal where Po really came from. The film never pulls its punches and instead of allowing audiences question whether all of the material is appropriate for a family film (it is), they will instead admire its willingness to push boundaries.

Making the flashback sequences all the more impactful is the stunning animation. Contrasting scenes set in the present part of the narrative, director Jennifer Yuh - whose background is primarily as a storyboard artist and designer - has Po's memories of his childhood play out in 2D animation that, by removing the soft, cuddly nature of CGI, raises the intensity to unanticipated levels. While this is a highlight, the entire film is quite beautiful. Action-filled moments, such as when the team is running up the side of a falling temple, operate on an epic scale. Also helping is the use of 3D, which, while unfortunately reducing the movie's brightness, is used to otherwise wondrous effect. 3D accentuates settings and layers the characters in a way that doesn't make them look like cardboard cutouts, but rather, like fully-formed beings.

What unfortunately doesn't work nearly as effectively in Kung Fu Panda 2 is the comedy, which always feels like an afterthought. Writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger do such an excellent job with the structure, set pieces, character development, emotional resonance and maturity that when it comes time for jokes they feel phoned in. That's not to say that the movie is completely humorless (in fact, there are some laugh-out-loud moments), but one definitely gets the sense that it has never been a priority.

Hollywood always sets out to target multiple demographics with its films, but making a one that appeals to both children and adults remains a challenge. There's a thin line between going over a five-year-old's head and insulting the intelligence of anybody over 20. Kung Fu Panda 2 not only finds this line but balances on it like a Zen master. In a summer filled with sequels, you'll be hard pressed to find another as intense, entertaining and visually gratifying.

The Godfather, Part II

Stars:
Diane Keaton,
Al Pacino,
Robert De Niro,
John Cazale,
Robert Duvall

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Year: 1974

It's 7 years later. Michael (Al Pacino) is struggling to fend-off the latest enemies rounding on the Corleone family's new power base in Nevada, including the slithery Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) and congressional leaders looking for kick-backs and holding hearings to investigate mobsters. As Michael fights to keep his business together and himself out of jail, his grip on the family weakens: his wife Kay (Diane Keaton) despises him; his mother passes away; and someone close fatefully betrays him.

In a series of interspersed flashbacks, we also learn the story of the early years of his dad Vito (Robert De Niro), from his days as a young boy (and soon to be orphan) in Sicily to his emergence as an influential mobster in the New York of the 1920's.

The Godfather Part II puts on a mighty effort for 3 hours and 20 minutes to match the brilliance of the original Godfather; it falls just short, and a sense of quantity over quality begins to creep in.

To be sure, the scenes with young Vito in turn-of-the-century New York are brilliant; and De Niro is spookily magnificent in channeling Marlon Brando's mannerisms.

But Michael's story in Part II is simply no match for the original. The convoluted dealings with Hyman Roth fail to ever properly catch fire, probably because Roth is portrayed as more unassuming and sick than evil. If the intent was to show the disguises that evil can hide behind, it does not work. The sequel sorely misses James Caan's violent energy, and while Pacino's controlled performance is powerful, it does not carry the same menace that Brando delivered.

There are attempts at mirroring history that instead serve to emphasize how brilliant The Godfather was. The long wedding scene from the original is mimicked with a long First Communion celebration that opens the sequel. The multiple-assassination climax to the original also finds a much weaker parallel in Part II.

A detour to a Havana on the brink of revolution is interesting but appears uncomfortably contrived. Michael V. Gazzo as Frankie Petangeli exhibits classic syndromes of a character actor attempting too hard to steal every scene he's in with a wildly over-the-top performance. And there is no match in Part II for Michael's epic transformational journey that defined the original.

Francis Ford Copolla's direction in Part II is much more mechanical and functional than artistic. Other than the scenes in New York, gone are the breathtaking frames that made the original a directing showcase. And the haunting theme music cannot remain fresh for 200 minutes; overuse starts to erode its impact.

None of these are huge flaws; but they add up to a less satisfying experience. The Godfather Part II is still a hugely entertaining film, it just lives in the shadow of a towering original achievement.

Kingdom of Heaven

Starring:
Eva Green,
Orlando Bloom,
David Thewlis,
Jeremy Irons

Director:
Ridley Scott

Genres:
Epic,
Historical Film

Ridley Scott directed this epic-scale historical drama inspired by the events of the Crusades of the 12th century. In the late 12th Century, during the Crusades of the Holy Land, a young French blacksmith mourns the suicide of his wife after the death of their young son. On hearing this news, Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson), a highly regarded baron to the King of Jerusalem who is deeply committed to keeping peace in the Holy Land, seeks out the grieving Balian, his illegitimate son. Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom) will rise to become a knight, a brilliant military tactician, a romantic lover and peacemaker, driven by the possibility that Muslims, Jews and Christians can co-exist in the same land.

Kingdom of Heaven certainly looks impressive (as you would expect from Ridley Scott movie) thanks to production designer Arthur Max, who also worked on Scott's Gladiator (2000) and Black Hawk Down (2002). Here he has memorably replicated 12th century Jerusalem, with its magnificent churches, minarets, temples, and palaces. Computerised graphics compliment the whole effect, as does the clever insertion of buildings from Morocco and Spain.

The story oscillates between representing the good Christians such as the handsome Balian (Orlando Bloom) and the stereotypical screen bad guys, represented by the ugly, aggressive Templars, who simply want to crush the Muslim world using the excuse that it is God's wish. They are led by Guy De Lusignan (Marton Csokas) who is married to the beautiful Sibylla (Eva Green), and is therefore the brother-in-law of King Baldwin (Edward Norton), the peaceful Christian King of Jerusalem. Edward Norton shines in his cameo role playing an historical figure that is rather under-represented. Because of the advanced stage of leprosy which is killing him, Norton's King wears a delicately etched silver mask over his face and speaks with a suitably sepulchral tone. Norton certainly has the aura and presence for the role, and the short screen time in which he appears leaves us wanting more.

Kingdom of Heaven sets out its stall as the Hollywood blockbuster epic we would expect, but its initial promise never quite comes to fruition. Aside from Edward Norton, only Ghassan Massoud as Saladin (in what appears to be his first film role) portrays a fully rounded character. As the film depicts the oppression of Muslims, he represents the anger towards the invading crusaders which parallels Muslim opposition in the current world climate, particularly regarding President Bush's own Middle East crusades. The climax of the film is the spectacular attack on Jerusalem, complete with siege engines and catapults hurling flaming balls through the night sky, not only justifying the director's budget but also Scott's research into medieval machinery.

The casting in this film pushes the bigger established names like Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons into the background, and gives plenty of screen time to Orlando Bloom. Although it is arguably his most mature role to date, he again fails to measure up, and, as with the other main actors, you don't really feel anything for him. His lines are meant to be historically poignant and memorable but come across at times as someone merely acknowledging the script. When Balian says,

'Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Safeguard the helpless, even if it leads to your death; that is your oath. Rise a knight... rise a knight!'

we should feel an emotional surge, but somehow don't feel any self-belief in his statement.

This is also true of Eva Green's character of Sibylla. In her short career she has already given two good performances for foreign directors - seek out her roles in Bertolucci's The Dreamers (2003) and the Arsène Lupin (2005) by French director Jean-Paul Salomé. Here she seems miscast and far less comfortable in an almost whimsical performance and her appropriately exotic costumes. Hopefully she won't follow the same arthouse to commercial cinema route chosen to detrimental effect by other beautiful and talented actors like Juliette Binoche.

Watching Kingdom of Heaven is a similar experience to watching The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), not because of Orlando Bloom, but because it comes across as a long introduction to a story that will be continued. Indeed, the greater part of the crusades will be Richard the Lionheart's journey into the Holy Land that takes place immediately after this film ends. Perhaps Iain Glen going head to head with Massoud's Saladin would have been more compelling, and a more befitting event in history for an epic Hollywood blockbuster.

The Godfather, Part III

Cast:
Al Pacino,
Diane Keaton,
Andy García,
Talia Shire

Directed by:
Francis Ford Coppola
Written by:
Mario Puzo,
Francis Ford Coppola
Released date:
1990-12-20

Under increasing pressure and facing bankruptcy due to his production company American Zoetrope's inability to create a hit, acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola took on the difficult task of creating a follow up to perhaps the greatest two films of all time.

The godfather III, which was released in 1990 to mostly positive reviews and several Academy Award Nominations, including best picture.

The plot had an aged and remorseful Michael Corleone (played extremely well by Al Pacino) trying to legitimize the Corleone family by investing money into a broke and corrupt Catholic Church. Meanwhile, his daughter Mary (Sofia Coppola) enters into an incestuous affair with the late Sonny Corleone's (played in the first Godfather film by James Caan) illegitimate son Vincent Mancini (a superb Andy Garcia).

Despite some suggestions, The godfather III should not be considered a total bust. Al Pacino, Andy Garcia (who received an Academy Award nomination), Talia Shire, and Diane Keaton were all marvellous in their roles, the cinematography by Gordon Willis was excellent, and Coppola provided deft direction.

However, a number of glaring flaws stopped the film from becoming a masterpiece in tis own right, instead of the unwanted pest to its highly acclaimed predecessors.

Here are my top flaws from godfatherIII, and the necessary steps which Coppola should have taken to rectify them.

No Robert Duvall
Robert Duvall - who played the Corleone's adopted son and consigliere Tom Hagen in the first two godfather films - was curiously absent from godfather III.

Naturally, his reluctance to reprise his groundbreaking role came down to money, with Duvall angry that Pacino was offered a much larger fee than he was. So he walked, and Coppola - in all of his foolishness - let him.

With Duvall in the picture, an interesting dynamic could have been made between Tom Hagen and Michael Corleone. Perhaps the constant rejection by Michael, along with Michael's killing of their brother Fredo in The godfather II, could have given the gifted Hagen the incentive to break away from the Corleone's and start his own family (as an Irish mobster of course, since his ethnicity would have prevented him from having his own family in the Mafia), which would have led to a showdown between Michael and Tom over who will rule the streets.

If the godfather series has proven anything, it is that a bloody family feud makes for riveting viewing. And it does not get any better than Michael Corleone VS Tom Hagen.

Incest Love
One thing that always made me feel icky about godfather III was the incest relationship between Mary Corleone and her cousin - and heir to the Corleone family - Vincent Mancini.

While Coppola should be applauded for not being too clichéd in using the rebellious daughter - instead of the usual rebellious son - as a major plot point, the idea of two cousins getting it on does not make for enticing viewing.

Let us say the Corleone VS Hagen storyline was in place, perhaps a Romeo and Juliette style romance could develop between Mary Corleone and Hagen's son - played by a strong Irish looking actor such as Sean Penn - whilst their fathers are at war. Remove the Vincent Mancini character, have Andy Garcia recast of Michael's faithful son Anthony, and a feud could also develop between a protective Garcia against a lovelorn Penn. It may sound a bit formulaic, but I'll be damned if it won't be fun.

The Casting of Sofia Coppola
A major grievance in the godfather III was Coppola's casting of his own daughter Sofia as Mary Corleone, the innocent yet rebellious daughter of Michael Corleone.

Originally Winona Ryder was cast in the role, but she pulled out at the last minute due to exhaustion (Coppola would later cast her in Bram Stokers Dracula). Pressed for time, Coppola decided that his daughter - who had zero acting experience and was about to act alongside legendary thespians Al Pacino and Diane Keaton - would be the perfect choice for the role. His decision proved to be a costly one.

With such a high profile role, there would have been an abundance of young actresses fighting to take on that role. Julia Roberts was Coppola's dream choice, and would have been very good in the role. But I personally would have loved to see Marisa Tomei, as she conveys beauty, purity, and could pass for Al Pacino's daughter.

The Godfather

Cast:
Al Pacino
Marlon Brando
James Caan
Mario Puzo

Directors:
Francis Ford Coppola

Screenwriters:
Mario Puzo
Francis Ford Coppola

Running Time:
175 minutes

Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Mario Puzo's The Godfather is regarded as such an important cinematic classic that it's easy to forget what a bold undertaking it was and how unconventional Coppola decided to make it. Here is adramatic and violent story, epic in scope, that begins with a thirty minute wedding celebration that has very little plot advancement, no action, and introduces about twenty key characters. The payoff comes later when we feel like we know these people like our own family.

I'm interested to know what it was like to see it in 1972. What did people think as Vito, Sonny, Michael, Kay, Fredo, Tessio, Clemenza, and all the others are presented, sometimes for fleeting moments in those opening moments? The plot is only set up in a cursory way as the Corleone patriarch Vito takes meetings in his darkened study, plotting sinister deeds behind closed doors while hundreds of guests celebrate his daughter Connie's (Talia Shire) wedding in the bright sunshine outside. So much information is thrown at the audience during the opening that I can't imagine anyone retaining it all the first time. At this point the movie is so ingrained in me that I don't even think of the actors when I'm watching the movie. When I see Marlon Brando on the screen, I'm thinking about Vito Corleone. I don't see James Caan. I see Sonny.

The Godfather is pure cinematic brilliance at every possible level. From the marvelous acting in every role right on down to the costume design that helps set Michael and Kay apart as outsiders in the opening wedding. Can we now imagine anyone else in the lead roles? Could anyone but James Caan have captured the explosiveness and exuberance that is Sonny Corleone? It's as if Marlon Brando was born to play Vito. Who but John Cazale could have made so much of Fredo's limited role in the first film? He is a natural sad-sack, impotent in the face of assassins after his father and completely lacking in imagination while working under Moe Green in Las Vegas. Robert Duvall is Tom Hagen through and through. And Al Pacino was the great revelation as Michael, the youngest son who was never supposed to get involved in the family business and then dives in head first. The studio famously wanted a known star like Jack Nicholson, Ryan O'Neal, or Robert Redford for Michael - all of whom would have been profoundly wrong.

The plot, as it is finally set in motion about 25 minutes in, is mostly about a mafia crime family whose boss wants to hold fast to a proud tradition and refuses to offer protection and investment cash to the other families who are interested in expanding their spheres of influence from gambling and prostitution to include narcotics. Although Vito knows it stands to be a lucrative business venture, he also recognizes the inherent dangers involved and the almost certain possibility that the politicians and police he has in his pocket will distance themselves from him as a result. It is a man named Solozzo who propositions him. Solozzo (Al Lettieri) works for the Tattaglia family and in order for them to continue in their business, Vito has to be removed. And in a famous sequence, Corleone is gunned down on the streets of Little Italy.

The turning point of the film, however, comes later when Michael visits his father in the hospital and discovers that the body guards have been called off. In a first hint of the smarts that will put Michael in power later, he immediately senses something is wrong and he makes all the right decisions to protect Vito. This precisely edited scene in the hospital is both beautiful and sad as Michael tells his father,

"I'm with you now."

Are Vito's tears from joy or sadness?

The story moves in a different direction shortly after this as Michael orchestrates the assassination of Solozzo and a police captain and is forced to flee into hiding in Sicily, leaving behind Kay (Diane Keaton), the woman he loves. The narrative spends a great deal of time in the gorgeous landscapes of the Mediterranean island, with Gordon Willis's cinematography demonstrating that he can do expansive landscapes as pristinely as he does dimly lit interiors.

The screenplay by Coppola and Puzo distills the sprawling novel to the essential drama that takes place over a roughly five year period beginning in August 1945. Puzo's novel encompasses Vito's rise to power in the 1920s, but they wisely left the back story out of the first film. It tightens the focus and allows us to sympathize a great deal with Vito without having to see that he, too, murdered and stole to achieve greatness. Together, they crafted a story that was little more than a lurid pulp novel into a story of great, almost Shakespearean heft with notes of Greek tragedy.

Ultimately The Godfather is a story of a family. More precisely than that, it's about Vito and Michael. The title readily refers to both men. As a young director, Coppola still had the courage to take the time out to show familial relationships and build characters. One of the family's caporegimes (a kind of lieutenant), Peter Clemenza played by the great Richard Castellano, takes the time to demonstrate for Michael how to make a proper tomato sauce. In the closing moments, as someone close to the Corleone family is revealed to have betrayed them, Coppola makes the right decision in keeping his murder off screen. We are supposed to feel melancholy at the choices these men make. When you've seen the second film (or read the book) and understand the full extent of that man's history with the Corleone's, his betrayal is even more profound.

The whole movie is crammed with great scenes. The great director Howard Hawks famously remarked that what constitutes a great movie is three great scenes and no bad ones. By that standard, The Godfather should be held aloft in the stratosphere. There's not a single bad scene to be spoken of and I could easily rattle off half a dozen great ones: the opening scene with Bonasera asking a favor; the horse head scene; Vito gunned down; Michael saves his father; Michael's makes his bones; the montage that wraps up the action and the plot intercut with the baptism of a child. It was reportedly Pacino's performance in the scene where he kills Solozzo that saved him from being cut from the film. All the tension and emotion in that entire scene is written on Pacino's face - in his expressive eyes, his tightened jaw, his stiff upper body.

What continues to resonate so deeply for me every time I see the film is the power of Nino Rota's haunting and beautiful score, in particular the main theme. I nearly always have to choke back a lump in my throat when I hear it, especially in the closing moments of the film as Kay looks on as Michael becomes the new Godfather and the door shuts her out. It makes me think of the sadness I feel when, after delivering the story of Luca Brasi holding a gun to a man's head at Vito's behest, Michael says to Kay,

"That's my family. It's not me."

We know what he will become when we hear him say that. We also know that to some extent he falls into power after doing what any son would do to protect his father. After all, Michael is a Corleone. He's unable to deny that. After all, it's all in the family.

Gone in 60 Seconds (Gone in Sixty Seconds)

I love both Nicolas and Angleina.This movie has good story.

I love both Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie. This movie has good story.

Gone in 60 Seconds may be nowhere as fast as its title suggests, but Jerry Bruckheimer has served up a mildly entertaining film.

Steal 50 cars in 24 hours to save his brother. To help him, he calls on some of his old friends, namely Robert Duvall and Angelina Jolie. Neither, especially the newly-crowned Oscar princess, get enough screen time. As for Cage, his acting goes only as far as the script, which isn't much. It is not like dialogue is very important, but what is said seems a little meager. And yet again, it's an action movie.

As an action movie, it really isn't enough. The action, a couple of car chases, is enough to entertain in this movie alone, but compare it to other films. --Tension lies in whether the car is going to get damaged, not whether Cage is going to survive or not.

Back to the action element, Gone in 60 Seconds seems like it is offering quite a bit, but looking back it really doesn't have much. The first half of the movie is basically buildup, and the buildup isn't very suspenseful. More conflicts between the law would have been nice.

Also, have you seen any of those cheesy car magazine covers? The ones with the expensive cars and the bikini-clad bimbos? Well, Gone in 60 Seconds is a car movie, so where's the women? Oh yeah, there's Angelina Jolie who gets almost no screen time. This movie should have been an R-rated thrill ride with explosions and car chases. And in the end, Gone in 60 Seconds left the first two in the dust.

Gone in 60 Seconds has some entertaining elements and overall delivers some suspense, it really is one of Bruckheimer's less aggressive fares.

As an action movie, it really isn't enough. The action, a couple of car chases, is enough to entertain in this movie alone, but compare it to other films, such as Bruckheimer's The Rock and Armageddon, it really doesn't have that much. The final car chase is pretty fast and furious, although the real tension lies in whether the car is going to get damaged, not whether Cage is going to survive or not. As in Armageddon, there's also some comical moments, and some funny characters, namely Donny (Chi McBride). Back to the action element, Gone in 60 Seconds seems like it is offering quite a bit, but looking back it really doesn't have much. The first half of the movie is basically buildup, and the buildup isn't very suspenseful. More conflicts between the law would have been nice.

Also, have you seen any of those cheesy car magazine covers? The ones with the expensive cars and the bikini-clad bimbos? Well, Gone in 60 Seconds is a car movie, so where's the women? Oh yeah, there's Angelina Jolie who gets almost no screen time. And there's no sex. This movie should have been an R-rated thrill ride with explosions, sex, and car chases. And in the end, Gone in 60 Seconds left the first two in the dust.

Gone in 60 Seconds has some entertaining elements and overall delivers some suspense, but looking at the extraordinary car chase in Ronin, it really is one of Bruckheimer's less aggressive fares.

Jurassic Park

Again new character introduced by Spielberg in different style. There were movies made on dinosaurs but Spielberg introduced them in new style. Story is great. JURASSIC PARK boasts Academy Award-winning special effects, lots of frightful moments, and some good laughs. Director Steven Spielberg and his effects team deliver some stunningly realistic dinosaurs. Gone are the days of stop-motion lizards and jerking beasts of vastly varying sizes, replaced by animitronics and digital effects. The movie also has a superb soundscape; hear it with a top-notch sound system to get all the thrills. Of course, actually seeing the monster is not always the best thing. In Jaws, Spielberg's early masterpiece, the audience didn't get to see the shark until well into the movie -- and the suspense was excruciating. That kind of storytelling elegance is missing here. But for all its technical achievements, a lack of character development weakens this thriller. Spielberg occasionally sacrifices three-dimensional characters and real human drama to the thrill of the effects.The movie's terrifying realism earned it a PG-13 rating. Seen in the theater, children and adults alike turned away from the screen, particulary during the young-children-in-peril sections. Viewed at home, the effect is somewhat less fearful. Still, sensitive pre-teens may want to avoid this one, and parents may want to watch and gauge the response of their children. With all the thrills, the movie has some very funny touches. The animated film detailing the genetic engineering of the dinosaurs resembles a grammar school educational movie from the '70s. Even funnier: "Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear" glimpsed in a side mirror as a huge T. Rex chases a fleeing jeep.Brought to a secluded island, three scientists discover a wondrous jungle paradise where dinosaurs again walk the earth. Dr. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) warns the creator of the preserve that nature will not be corralled into a theme park. Things go terribly wrong when a tropical storm strikes and a corrupt computer programmer shuts down crucial security systems. In a night of terror, Dr. Grant (Sam Neil), Ellie (Laura Dern), and two children are pursued by an escaped Tyrannosaurus Rex and several other violent dinos. After many devourings and frightening chases, a showdown ensues in the island's main building.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a beautiful story told in breathtaking imagery, and made possible by extraordinary actors who positively shine on the screen under the advised guidance of David Fincher. The settings, the makeup and the costumes could be the only things that would stand a chance at rivaling the heart-rendering story of Benjamin, the special boy.

The consensus is that "Benjamin Button" can prove a bit too tiresome for viewers looking for more action and less introspection-inviting moments. More attention to details and the plot, as well as a bit more "personality" on behalf of Brad Pitt in front of the camera are also listed among the downsides that prevent this film from being 5 star rated.

The Truth:

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is not just for the more sensitive of viewers, granted it is seen with patience. Neither is it a film exclusively for those looking for some deeper meaning in life, as it renders the interpretation of a beautiful and simple fictional story as well. It's escapism in its finest form and, from what critics are telling us, it's well worth our time. It opened in the US on December 25, with the rest of the world to follow in January.

Saw VI
Saw VI(2009)

Well I guess I finally got around to watching what I hope will be the final Saw film. I love this franchise but it's gotten so confusing that I almost have to go back 2 or 3 films and watch them in a marathon to catch on. The sixth entry brings the entire series to a satisfying conclusion but of course it still leaves it open to continue on. Don't all horror films do that anyway?

I thought the first Saw flick was extremely smart and I never saw the end coming but as the series wore on it started getting bogged down in weird back connections that seemed to just be thrown in to make the film seem smarter than it was. This one actually keeps it pretty simple and doesn't start adding in too many twists. I can't imagine watching this one without having seen all the other films though. I've heard a lot of people comment that this was so much better than the previous film but I don't remember hating the fifth one that much anyway. Of course I have trouble keeping the different movies separated in my brain anyway. They've managed to meld into one giant film in my mind and while my enjoyment of each film has progressively gone down, I always like them.

The traps are probably a big part of the draw of the Saw franchise and while some of them were really well done, others seemed quick and lame. There's a good heaping of gore on display but the final trap was my favorite. It also winds up being the most gruesome. What bothered me about it was the fact that most of the advertising I got from this one was of a group of people strapped to something. A table or wheel or whatever it was, hell, it's even the image on the poster above. This actual trap is not only the weakest of the flick, it's also the one with the least impact and point. I was assuming it would be the great focal point of the film when it's really just a small portion.

If you've been following the franchise like I have then this is a great way to end it. It ties up all the loose story threads and gives closure to the saga of Jigsaw. To think they've managed to go this far when Tobin Bell's character has been dead for 3 films (3 or was it 2 or 4, I don't even know now!) is a shock to me. Costas Mandylor is back as Hoffman but I've never really liked him. I mean, Hoffman is such a suspicious and shady guy. Didn't anybody ever think it could have been him? The second the guy walked on the screen I kept thinking it was him. Of course at this point there's no mystery as to who is setting up the traps and I think it hurts the film. I would have liked it to have been a big secret from the beginning. Once we know who is running things we're left with only the traps to entertain us. I imagine that's why the endless amounts of twists are thrown in. Kinda seems like an episode of Lost!

Saw 6 will deliver the goods for fans of the series but if you don't like it then this will only serve up more of the same for you. It's very true to the formula that they have been using since the start but it's like one continuous movie now. I had to watch them all to see what the hell was happening. Lets just hope the finish on this high note. I've enjoyed the 6 films they have made and wouldn't want to see them go the way of some other horror franchises that went way beyond their prime. I don't wanna see Jigsaw Takes Manhattan!

Saw V
Saw V(2008)

Saw-V is the latest chapter of its blood-soaked legacy, and, truth be told, I never thought the series would make it this far. As much as I admire the first film, I knew its bag of diabolical tricks would come up short with each successive sequel, a tradition that this latest picture continues to uphold. It should be said that Saw V makes a valiant attempt to stray from the convoluted timeline-fiddling its brothers engaged in, opting rather to go for straight-out shocks. But in the end, it emerges as merely a passable horror flick, freaky enough to get by but a far cry from the jaw-dropping start the series got off to.

Oh, and it goes without saying that this review goes into spoiler territory regarding Saw IV, so if you're not up to speed with the series, it's best to turn back now.

With devious mastermind Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) now pushing daisies, Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) has assumed his responsibilities, forcing others to fight for their lives in vicious endurance tests. After the events of Saw IV, it looks as though Hoffman can continue his operations in secret. That is, until FBI Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) works his way out of a trap meant to take his life rather than test it. Strahm immediately suspects that a Jigsaw accomplice is on the loose, and it's not long after he begins investigating that the trail starts leading right to Hoffman. But as Hoffman scrambles to cover his tracks, he also must oversee a new deadly game in progress, one in which five seemingly random individuals must work together in order to escape with their lives (and limbs) intact.

Those expecting Saw V to be as twist-heavy as the other movies will be both pleasantly surprised and mildly disappointed here. My biggest complaint with the last two Saw features is that they took a little too much liberty in rewriting the turn of events to wring out a few cheap twists. Thankfully, instead of further complicating things, the makers of Saw V have gone with a more straightforward approach. The script even takes a pretty decent stab at character development instead of just serving up more grisly set pieces. Flashbacks show Hoffman's first encounter with Jigsaw and how he evolved from a cop out for revenge to the madman's latest apprentice. Saw V picks up the pieces more than it creates new ones, allowing first-time director David Hackl to give viewers what they want instead of giving them the runaround. But gorehounds can rest assured that the trademark booby traps are as devious and nasty as ever, especially the gauntlet Hoffman's five new victims have to endure.

Saw IV
Saw IV(2007)

I have to admit that I am a fan of the Saw movie franchise. Not because it is a "human torture" film as some may label them, but because they are movies that is designed to make you think and in essence play the game along with the characters. Saw 4 did not disappoint at all.

The movie starts with the autopsy of John Kramer a.k.a "Jigsaw". Jigsaw died at the end of Saw 3 and the coroner was taking out his organs and weighing them. When he decided to cut open Jigsaw's stomach, he came across a tape that was covered in wax to protect it from stomach acid erosion. Investigators play the tape and Jigsaw vows that the game will go on.

Allison Kerry, the lead female investigator from Saw 2 was found hooked up to one of the contraptions. The device was designed that she couldn't live even if she "passed" the test. So naturally the police thought that it was a trap set up by Amanda. That followed her pattern from Saw 3. However, they concluded that she couldn't have done it herself and would've needed help. Since Jigsaw was a deathly ill cancer patient, it was very unlikely that it was him. So Saw 4 was to find who the accomplice was.

The game centered around Officer Rigg, one of Detective Eric Matthews friends on the force. A video showed him that Eric Matthews was still alive and he was being held with another investigator in a room, and the traps was set with those two linked together so if one died, they both died. The game made it look like Jigsaw was "training" Rigg to carry on his work. With clues like "See as I see" and "Feel what I feel". Attached to each person in peril was flashbacks of what happened that made Jigsaw see and feel, as it pertains to his work.

I don't want to blow the ending in case you haven't seen it yet, but it has another one of those famous Saw twist endings. The movie did such an excellent job of pulling the audience into it and at one point or another suspecting just about everyone involved as being the accomplice. The accomplice was just about the last person that I suspected in the movie's climax scene.

Saw III
Saw III(2006)

Most people who go to see Saw III will already know what they are letting themselves in for - a continuous helping of stylised gore, violence and torture, where the only tongue in cheek will be one that is literally chained there in a macabre and psychotic trip that needs no justification other than audience demand for video-nasty-type scenes without the slightest pretence of a psychological storyline to justify prolonged physical and mental cruelty that makes the Nazis look uninventive.

The moral dilemmas seem pretentious in the extreme. A lovely doctor is forced to save a monster's life, or be killed herself. A man, grieving the death of his son in a car accident, has to "forgive" all those vaguely involved to win his redemption.

As standard fare, Saw III delivers, no more and no less than Saw II, or The Hills Have Eyes, or The Devil's Rejects. Deranged serial killer, Jigsaw, devises complex games for his victims, often involving self-mutilation. Clues are left on cassette recorders and the captives follow instructions to try and win a reprieve.

Saw III reprises some of the themes and loose ends from the previous two movies, but stands up equally well on its own. The overuse of loud and jangling sound effects is distracting and unnecessarily sensationalist and I found myself weary within the first three minutes.

Sadly, after so many films of this ilk, particularly ones with the sophistication of Hostel, or Audition, it loses much of its shock value and is little more than a late night gorefest to wind up the series.

Saw
Saw(2004)

Adam (co-writer Leigh Whannell) wakes up with his leg shackled to a pipe in a large bathroom, with the surgeon Dr Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) chained to the opposite wall far out of reach. The presence in the room's centre of a bloody corpse clutching a gun and a dictaphone leaves them in no doubt that their situation is deadly serious. Together they listen to the pre-taped messages left for them - Adam's tape merely taunts him with a challenge to survive, while Gordon's instructs him find a way of killing Adam by 6 o'clock or else his own wife and daughter will be killed and he will be left there to rot. Adam finds two surgical saws in the toilet's cistern, not strong enough to hack through their chains, but perfect for slicing flesh and bone - reminding Gordon of the recent case of the so-called 'jigsaw' killer, a sadistic game-player who "never killed anyone, he finds ways for them to kill themselves". It is a case with which Gordon is all too familiar, having himself been the prime suspect of detectives Tapp (Danny Glover) and Sing (Ken Leung). Despite their distrust for one another, Adam and Gordon must share their knowledge and pool their resources if they are to have any chance of emerging alive (let alone in one piece).

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk is strong when it comes to action, but the whole thing comes off as tired, mainly due to its meandering non-action scenes. A little less of the repetition and less cliché would have produced a lean, mean little movie. This one is fat and mean, and could have done with some trimming. However the effective action and the superhero universe references let me recommend this, but mainly to superhero fans. And hey, it's better than Ang Lee's Hulk.
The Incredible Hulk, directed by French action director Louis Leterrier, continues the slew of superhero movies we've been getting recently. It is set in the same Marvel Universe as Iron Man, and the upcoming movies The Avengers, Thor, and Captain America, but we do not know that until the end. This is not a sequel to Ang Lee's 2003 movie Hulk, but is a reboot of the series.
"The Incredible Hulk" kicks off an all-new, explosive and action-packed epic of one of the most popular superheroes of all time. In this new beginning, scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) desperately hunts for a cure to the gamma radiation that poisoned his cells and unleashes the unbridled force of rage within him: The Hulk.

Living in the shadows--cut off from a life he knew and the woman he loves, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler)--Banner struggles to avoid the obsessive pursuit of his nemesis, General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), and the military machinery that seeks to capture him and brutally exploit his power.

As all three grapple with the secrets that led to The Hulk's creation, they are confronted with a monstrous new adversary known as The Abomination (Tim Roth), whose destructive strength exceeds even The Hulk's own. And on June 13, 2008, one scientist must make an agonizing final choice: accept a peaceful life as Bruce Banner or find heroism in the creature he holds inside

Flubber
Flubber(1997)

Flubber is a 1997 remake of the 1961 film The Absent-Minded Professor. The film was produced by Disney starring Robin Williams and Marcia Gay Harden.
There are some scenes in this movie, where you will laugh your brains out! This is a remake of the 1961 film The Absent-Minded Professor, but is far more entertaining. The movie stars Robbin Williams, who is the absent minded professor but a great innovator, he is so absent minded that he forgets his own wedding, not once but twice. But when the wedding is scheduled for the third time, he accidentally creates Flubber which is a green jelly like character, that can change shapes and has a rubbery-elasticity which surpasses all the rubbery-elastic things on Earth. The wedding is off, and his girlfriend breaks up with him. So, watch the movie to know how the professor with the help of Flubber and Weebo, wins back his girlfriend.

Con Air
Con Air(1997)

It wasn't necessarily obvious (or even possible to know) at the time of its 1997 release, but Jerry Bruckheimer's Con Air would represent his finest hour. Bruckheimer isn't the director, of course, but rather the rare movie producer who would claim possessive credit on almost any of his projects. Bruckheimer branches into cheesy thrillers, cheesy inspirational dramas, cheesy inspirational sports dramas, and cheesy television procedurals, but Con Air finds the super-producer munching on his bread and butter: a loaf of action movie, with melted cheese on top.
Not only that, but it's assembled using all of Bruckheimer's tried and tested techniques: Mix movie stars and indie heroes into an eclectic, slumming cast and have them act in a ludicrously high-concept scenario. (Here it is: The worst criminals in the country team up to hijack their prison transport plane! And it's up to one man to stop them!) Then spend lots of money but indulge in a cynical jokiness, and hire a director who will shoot the whole thing like it's a music video or a commercial (preferably for itself).
In the case of Con Air, the director is Simon West. He's not as successful, stylish, or instantly recognizable as Michael Bay, and that may be why the film works so well; it turns out that no Michael Bay knockoff can screw it up quite like the real thing. If Bay and West are just two of many workers on the Bruckheimer assembly line, Bay is the showiest and West is the most efficient, and guess whose product works better?
So, yes, West's direction is full of gratuitous slow-mo and fast cuts, but just enough to goose Con Air's ridiculous premise and talented cast - not enough to work the movie into frenzied, atonal overdrive.
Even so, some might carp that a movie like this wastes nigh a dozen good actors on an expensive game of cops 'n' (mostly) crooks. But plenty of award-winning films have employed equally great ensembles to lesser effect than Con Air. First and foremost is Nicolas Cage as (of course) the wrongfully imprisoned hero just trying to get home to his wife and kid. Cage takes this '80s-style role someplace not so far removed from a Coen Brothers movie, a land of stone-faced cornpone camp. When a fellow prisoner menaces a stuffed toy intended for his daughter, and Cage warns him to "put the bunny back in the box," you believe he'll do something about it - not because the script demands it, but because Cage so convincingly flirts with nuttiness. It takes a planeload of miscreants to make him look like the all-American hero.
Bruckheimer deploys the rest of the cast with strategic obviousness: John Malkovich is the intelligently psychotic ringleader; John Cusack is the smart, fast-talking U.S. Marshal; Dave Chapelle is a wiseass; Steve Buscemi is a serial killer. Only Ving Rhames gets a slight short shrift; they should've thrown him a monologue or something.
The patented Bruckheimer casting works especially well because of Con Air's frankly antisocial sense of humor. Despite the heroics of Cage and Cusack, this variety pack of action-picture villains eventually comes across as weirdly lovable (Malkovich has to make some grimy threats to the safety of Cage's family toward the end, presumably to remind us that, oh yeah, these guys are dangerous). Buscemi's quiet celebrity murderer gets the most perversely respectful treatment, even including his extraneous scenes with a little girl that gleefully balance on an intersection of suspense, humor, and tastelessness.
The whole movie is like that, balancing spectacle and self-parody, unreasonably entertaining and surprisingly difficult to replicate. A more ambitious director might have toppled the whole thing; witness the consistency with which Bay's directorial preening renders his films useless. But with West's confidence competence, and Bruckheimer's reliable slickness, Con Air gets out of its own way and becomes a trash classic.

Big Momma's House

Martin Lawrence has starred in a lot of good films. Most known for his role as bad boy Marcus Burnett in Bad Boys, this new comedy follows the steps of Blue Streak in a lot of ways. Lawrence has to pretend to be someone else and this time it ain't no beat-the-streets cop, it's a big boned crass Southern grandma. Lawrence plays a real cop (FBI in this case) named Malcolm Turner who is after a bank robbing, cold blooded killer named Lester. Malcolm figures if he can get to the killer's wife Sherry, attractively played by Nia Long, he can get to the killer, played menacingly dull by Terrence Dashon Howard.
But it doesn't come to that as Long watches the news on TV where it reports that a prison break took place not long ago - and who do you think that was? None other than her lovely, err, killing husband. Feared for her life, she takes her son to the neighborhood to visit Big Momma whom she hasn't seen for over many years, although feels safe around.
Malcolm and his partner John, played by the always terrific Paul Giamatti, follow Sherry to the neighborhood and stake out in the house across Big Momma's. When Big Momma has to attend a funeral (or something), Malcolm takes her place and dresses up in a big suit. He pretends to be Big Momma throughout the movie, which strangely doesn't make neighbors and/or friends suspicious. Malcolm plays it out as Big Momma and soon falls for Sherry.
That direction of the movie lead to funny, but also disturbing moments, as when Sherry walked into Big Momma's bed because of her fear of thunder, which was Malcolm's ultimate chance to be side-by-side with her, but was obviously hindered as he was in the suit.
"It was so funny. Oh my gosh!" That sounds like it was a lot of fun. In several aspects, Big Momma's House was fun. Although, it did have its bad moments. The movie could've been a lot better as far as characters go, had the writers & Co. developed them with care.
Lawrence gave a really funny performance and so did his two sidekicks, Giamatti and Nolan the local security guard (played dead-on funny by Anthony Anderson). Although, this movie borrowed a lot from The Nutty Professor, Mrs. Doubtfire and Blue Streak - producing a direct cross between all of them - not that bad of an idea. It wasn't all that bad to say the least, but it did lack story and intelligence. But what do you really expect from a comedy? Hardcore storyline? Hardly. Fun is the right word and that's exactly what you're gonna get in this one.
You can either enjoy Big Momma's House by relaxing and sitting back or you can whine and bitch about it. You chose what you want to do. This movie is here to entertain, not to activate brain cells. So go out and get yourself some laughs as this one gives you that in quantity packs.

Wanted
Wanted(2008)

Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman
(Universal Studious)
Wanted tells the tale of one apathetic nobody's transformation into an unparalleled enforcer of justice. 25-year-old Wes was the most disaffected, cube-dwelling drone the planet had ever known. Until he met a woman named Fox. After his estranged father is murdered, the deadly sexy Fox recruits Wes into the Fraternity, a secret society that trains Wes to avenge his dad's death by unlocking his dormant powers. With wickedly brilliant tutors-including the Fraternity's enigmatic leader, Sloan-Wes grows to enjoy all the strength he ever wanted. But, slowly, he begins to realize there is more to dangerous associates than meets the eye. And as he wavers between newfound heroism and vengeance, Wes will come to learn what no one could ever teach him: he alone controls his destiny.

Interview with the Vampire
½

it tells the story of a vampire named Louis (played by Brad Pitt), who is interviewed about his life by a young reporter (played by Christian Slater). In the film, we get to relive some of the adventures Louis experienced during his 200-year life as a vampire. Louis' story begins in 1791, when he was a young mortal plantation owner living in New Orleans. He is very depressed and unhappy with life, blaming himself for the death of his wife and daughter. That is when he meets a vampire named Lestat (played by Tom Cruise), who is after his plantation. Lestat turns Louis into a vampire and the two become immortal companions. Louis has a hard time being a vampire, as he cannot seem to disconnect himself from his mortal morals and engage in murder. Therefore, he tries to quench his bloodlust by feeding on animals.

When people are starting to get a little too suspicious of Louis and Lestat's true identities, they are forced to leave the plantation. Louis is getting more and more used to being an evil vampire and finally starts feeding on humans. One night he drinks from a little girl, only to find out that Lestat has turned her into a vampire daughter for them named Claudia (played by Kristin Dunst).

Louis is horrified by this, but he cannot resist her charms. They both dote on her and for the next 65 years they all live together as a family. However, Claudia begins to hate Lestat for making her into a vampire once she realizes she will never grow up and have a woman's body. She thinks of a plot to get rid of Lestat to which Luis reluctantly agrees. They then leave for Europe to find others like them.

In Paris they find other vampires, in fact, a whole theater full of them. Louis becomes quite intrigued with the vampire coven leader Armand. Claudia is afraid Louis will leave her for Armand and demands he make this woman into a vampire so she can look after Claudia. Louis does not want to do what Claudia is asking, but like always he reluctantly agrees. Then one night they are abducted and brought to the vampire theater.

Louis then returns to New Orleans, and continues to live as a loner, never seeking out new vampire companions again. This brings us to the end of Louis' story and we are back in present day New Orleans with Louis and the interviewer. Instead of understanding all the pain and suffering involved in being a vampire, the interviewer only thinks it would be cool, and to Louis' horror, begs him to turn him into a vampire. Louis declines and then leaves, and we see the interviewer go search for Lestat instead.

Exorcist II: The Heretic
½

"I was possessed by a demon. Oh, it's okay. He's gone!"
-Regan

Four years after the death of Father Merrin near the end of The Exorcist, the Vatican dispatches Father Philip Lamont (Richard Burton) to investigate the events surrounding Merrin's demise. His search leads him to New York and Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair, in full coquette mode), the young girl whose demonic possession was the focus of Merrin's exorcism attempt. Still being plagued by strange nightmares Regan has been left, by her mother, to the care of Dr. Gene Tuskin (Louise Fletcher) at her psychiatric facility. Tuskin thinks Regan's dreams hold the key to her recovery, while Lamont thinks Regan knows more than she's letting on about Merrin's death. Aided by a hypnosis machine, Tuskin and Lamont link to Regan's mind in an effort to unlock the mysteries. What the pair ultimately discover is another presence growing inside Regan and that the horror may be beginning again.
To be fair, Goodhart does resolve some dangling threads from The Exorcist, explaining why the demon Pazuzu has reappeared on Earth, why it targeted Regan originally in the first film, and why it's obsessively pursuing her now. Goodhart expounds on this with an inspiration he received from the belief, coined "The Omega Point" and originated by French philosopher and Jesuit Priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin,2 that man and nature will reach a oneness with God, moving toward a level of cosmic perfection. Lucifer, through Pazuzu, would seek to interrupt this through possession of anyone with acute empathic powers. People like Regan who exhibit these abilities are considered be considered stepping stones to a level of evolution where there would be total goodness and consciousness. It definitely provides a creepiness and underlying meaning to the scenes where Lamont links with Regan's mind when attached to the hypnosis machine and slowly realizes that many of the images he's seeing are actually coming from Pazuzu, not Regan. The demon is once again in possession of Regan, gaining strength to wreak chaos, and she's unaware of it.

I.Q.
I.Q.(1994)

Maybe I'm being too generous with the rating...but I just love this movie! I've seen it so many times, but every time I see it I fall in love with it all over again. It's just a simple romantic comedy, with nothing huge or monumentous that happens. This movie *is* romantic. I love Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins, and Walter Mathau is so funny. The scientists make me laugh so much...I definitely recommend this movie to anyone who hasn't seen it. It's such a clean, good movie - and those are so rare now! I recommend it if you need to laugh, or if you're just lonely and need to *watch* a romance.

In this 1994 romantic comedy, Ed Walters (Robbins), an auto mechanic, falls in love with the beautiful, intellectual Catherine Boyd (Ryan) who comes to his auto shop. While attempting to see her again, he discovers something amazing - Catherine is Albert Einstein's (Matthau) niece and a brilliant mathematician in her own right.
Einstein and his colleagues take an instant liking to Walters and decide to play cupid between the two. Unfortunately, Catherine is engaged to a prominent research psychologist (the "rat man," as Godel calls him, because he hooks up electrodes to the private parts of rats).

Since Catherine is unable to see past Walters' less intellectual background, the group attempts to impress her by faking a scientific discovery ... only to find themselves wrapped up in a scientific conspiracy where they must lie even to President Eisenhower to keep up the charade.

Do not expect revelations, either in storytelling style or scientific knowledge, from this film, but you can expect to be entertained by the engaging scientific characters. The science discussed is reasonable, but is not the focus of the film.

Fame
Fame(2009)

Awesome dancing and singing movie....story was good to watch.
Every Student have some speciality in dance and singing. Belly dance good to watch. A reinvention of the original Oscar winning hit film, "Fame" follows a talented group of dancers, singers, actors, and artists over four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts, a diverse, creative powerhouse where students from all walks of life are given a chance to live out their dreams and achieve real and lasting fame...the kind that comes only from talent, dedication, and hard work. In an incredibly competitive atmosphere, plagued by self-doubt, each student's passion will be put to the test. In addition to their artistic goals, they have to deal with everything else that goes along with high school, a tumultuous time full of schoolwork, deep friendships, budding romance, and self-discovery. As each student strives for his or her moment in the spotlight, they'll discover who among them has the innate talent and necessary discipline to succeed. With the love and support of their friends and fellow artists, they'll find out who amongst them will achieve Fame...

Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg

Old action film but stunning story...a group was behind Van Damme and his family...and they kill his wife and try to kill him by his own daughter hands but....
they took his little daughter. He survived, and search her daughter and it took years...his daughter grow to teen age...his daughter didn't recognize him at first time....end is awesome...specially Van Damme's fighting kicks are great to watch....

Hard Target
Hard Target(1993)

Van Damme's one of the best movies in the Hollywood history....Directed by John Woo...again very good story to watch. action scenes are remarkable...specially stand on running bike scene is great to watch....

Street Fighter

A well famous movie of Van Damme. A very good action film....his kicks movements are awesome in this movie....specially fight with main villain of the movie...many games made on this film...this film's different characters are different due to their fighting styles, films main character and other characters are copied in many other movies and games...a famous game Street Fighter made after this movie.

Kick Boxer
Kick Boxer(1996)

In this he fight in a boxing ring as a boxer, villain is excellent fighter(boxer) to whom he fight final.

Double Team
Double Team(1997)

Awesome action, he try to save his family from enemies....Dennis Rodman is really good partner in this movie...end scene...specially Dennis Rodman coin bomb is remarkable.

Double Impact

In this movie Van Damme played double role. Stunning story, good action movie.

The Spy Next Door

a comedy plus spy and family movie.
yeah no doubt Jackie Chan is legend, he can do any role, comedy, action, dance, martial arts....no doubt he is great hero.

Derailed
Derailed(2002)

Awesome action trill movie by Van Damme, good story

Get Him to the Greek

Good story script. A super star(singer) story and his great fan story....he(superstar's fan) suggests his boss for invite him(superstar) for get more business and popularity for the company.....this idea make his boss happy and boss send him for take superstar with him in concert at Greek...this concert organized by his company solely... so it's normal and good story to watch....in these few days fan and superstar come very closer....even fan put his drugs in his ass for avoiding custom checking on airport.....they went to meet superstar father.....they went clubs, they dance together....

The Big Hit
The Big Hit(1998)

Awesome action film...
they kidnap the girl of rich man's daughter

There are good action scenes in this movie...their group(kidnappers) is stunning.

Catch That Kid
½

Awesome kids film....story start with Kristen Stewart climbing on tank and she suddenly drop down.
She loves to climbing because her father was climber and she likes to climbing but her mother and father don't like her climbing...

Her father get to the hospital because of his previous injury in past and doctors said there is only one place where he can be operated but it cost you $250,000.

So little Maddy(Kristen Stewart) plan for bank robbery. So she tell to her two friends(Austin and Gus) for this plan. They both denied first time....but after a while they agree...after all both love her(it's teen love)

One thing and important thing is that they decided the rob the bank....which bank?
Where her mom is security incharge.... So she went with her mom for see the bank security system and she meanwhile see the whole security system and get mobile picture in her mobile....and even know the security code which is accessible every where in whole bank security system...accept one password!!!!

So, in bank she(Kirsten Stewart) met her mom colleague who have fond of acting so she realize and make a with her friends video for make him happy....

They decided the same day when bank officials decided the party in the bank....So before they go to rob the bank, Maddy plan to get rid off from her mom on that day mean her mom should be at hospital not in the party...

Before leaving home Molly (Maddy mom)on the that day, she said to her for come with her to hospital and care of her little brother...but she said she will look after her little brother at home...

So Maddy pick her brother....for rob the bank....during robing the bank she climb the wall without climbing material...she access all security codes with only one code....even all places was surrounded by surveillance camera's...but they get into the safe room without any restriction...even security cameras are on...their security guards are active....but they robbed $250,000...and run away with full success....end was awesome

Kindergarten Cop

It's awesome family film. Start of the movie is little horrible; a cop is after a criminal(drug supplier)....Kimble (Arnold) is the cop...who is after that criminal.....he arrests him when he murdered some innocent man... Kimble send to kindergarten school as a teacher for eye on that criminal and his mother.
Kimble's police partner get sick in the way to the school and instead of her he go to school....first day school was very horrible and unpleasant for him... the kids of ages from 3 to 7 years old asking him unusual questions...and make him so uncomfortable...one little girl said I have to go bathroom...he said yes you may go but little girl can't able to open her cloth buckle...so he try to help her and try to open the buckle but it was difficult to open..the kid need to go urgently to bathroom....kid was shouting.
In that school he meet with female school teacher Ms.Joyce...she help him...they both go close and like to each other (both were divorced) but Kimble was spy on her (because she was the ex-wife of that criminal whom he was after)and ask her where are three million dollars ?

It was good comedy, a police officer going to kindergarten teacher ....he don't know how to teach...he was very strickt to kids....kids can't understand his starting conversation. Kids were score of him...But after some days he understand the kids and he started teaching in new style....kids love his style of teaching...even Kimble prepare these kids for fair in the town...kids performed very well in that fair...
His teaching way like by parents, like by Principal herself and offer him permanent teacher job in school

In the end there was little fighting between him and the criminal and his mother.

He go back to the school after went to the hospital ,,,,the kids were very upset and missed him a lot....and when they see Mr.Kimble is back...they were very happy....and this noise make Ms.Joyce insure that he is back....In the last a lovely kiss was great between two lovers.

The Dark Knight

No doubt Joker is great vilian, he challenged all the persons....he robbed the bank...he kill people because he think he is great vilian of the city....stunning story....Christan Bale is the batman in the movie....his main purpose is to capture the joker....but joker address is like live on no place.

John Carpenter's Escape from L.A.

Good action film...bombing, firing,...
Kurt is really good action hero.

SOUNDTRACK: Ministry, Rob Zombie, Butthole Surfers, and Tool seemed appropriate?but Tori Amos?
MORALS: Don?t trust your government, and don?t trust people set to be exiled either. Trust no one.


" ...for all its commotion, Escape from L.A. never catches fire.



The story, acting, action, and effects are so corny that all you can do is pray for it to end. In the future, America has been reformed by some religious lunatic president and he's sending all heretics and criminals to live on the prison island of Los Angeles, which fell away from the mainland during a huge earthquake in 2013. Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is apprehended once again and a stiff and unconvincing Stacy Keach infects him with a virus and convinces him to go to L.A. to save the president's daughter who is being held hostage there by some Cuban dictator. He does so reluctantly, and meets up with a variety of wacky characters that help him out on his journey. He finally manages to rescue the president's daughter and escape (everyone else naturally dies), and then messes up the entire world's power grid to stop an escalating world war crisis. Yes, Snake Plissken saves the world and wanders off into the darkness rasping to the camera, "welcome to the human race". Dreadfully disappointing, but it does slightly improve on multiple viewings.

Stomp the Yard

They story was awesome...the movie start on competition of dancing...DJ is the main character of the movie...DJ group won in that dancing competition...they were very happy but in the way to home, the runner up group members come in their way and want to take money back and get revenge of lost in dance...and fight start...one fired on DJ's friend and he died...DJ weep a lot...and his death change DJ life...and DJ shifted to other city for getting Education in university...In university there was dancing competition start in few couple of days....two main group was participating from DJ's university...and they both come to invite DJ for join their group but DJ reject their proposal.....after some days pass DJ join one group....in this university DJ see one girl and he getting interested in girl...after some time the girl make friendship with him.....

In the end there is very awesome dancing moves by DJ and others in the final competition between the two groups of the same university...DJ opponent team one member took video of DJ dance when he was alone and was practicing the dance.....but one dance move make them(DJ team) winners and he learn this move from his dead friend....and opponent team members were ver astonished to see DJ last dancing move, no body know about this dancing move.

I like this story and dancing is stunning.

Contact
Contact(1997)

Jodie Foster performed good role in this film.
This is sci-fic movie...
script is good

Iceman
Iceman(1984)

The story about the man, found by researchers team in old cave cover with Ice, he was preserve in Ice hill.

Iceman didn't understand their language and their team also unaware of his language. But one doctor was taking keen interest in to him and helping him to understand his actions and language.

They try to understand him but couldn't get success.

Even they gave him(Iceman) artificial atmosphere in their research center, the research center was underground and upper surface was covered with full of snow.

Iceman try to scape from research center but couldn't get success. Iceman enter in their rooms and injured one doctor....

They decided Iceman can't help them to research...But the doctor who was studying him very closely that he saying all the time "he is human, we should help him"....but they said he is wild man, can't help us in our research.

The doctor help him to scape and go with him to his place, the place was cover with full of snow....

Congo
Congo(1995)

There is an expedition to the Congo in Africa to seek out special type of diamonds that can be put to a variety of uses, one of them the essential component in a laser. The party has found the source of the gems and more, and Charles (Bruce Campbell) uses the satellite video link to talk to his father and CEO of the company, Travis(Joe Don Baker), telling him the good news along with Dr.Karen Ross (Laura Linney), who is also in the control room and used to be Charles fiancee. However, he fails to let them know the exact location of the find and signs off too soon, which proves to be unfortunate when that transmission turns out to be his last. What has happened? Karen realizes that she must gather a new expedition to track them down using the signal of the laser....
So far Congo has been eliciting a steady stream of chuckles, but once they get down to the serious business of finding diamonds and a lost city which happens to be around the site they're looking for, boredom sets in. Not that it's uneventful, what with the cast having to parachute out of their plane when it has rockets fired at it, a tribe who are keeping a member of the previous party alive so he can scream at Amy and expire just as Karen and company find him, and a hippopotamus attack in their river, among other obstacles. What lies at the end of their journey is a lost race of killer gorillas that bump off the least important members of the cast in order, and an active volcano which erupts on cue. Considering the whole adventure yields absolutely nothing of worth, not even diamonds, you may be left pondering what exactly the point was. Same here. And why did they teach Amy to drink Martinis and smoke cigars if they're so ecology conscious?

The Evil Dead

"It is really one of the best movies i ever seen in my life. When i was just six i saw this horrible & terrible movie. It was my first horror movie. Even today i remember each & every scene of Evil Dead. What a great horror movie by Sam Raimi...."The Evil Dead is one of my favorite horror films of all time. It was my firs t Horror film ever .... The movie's original title was 'Book of the Dead' because it was (loosely) inspired upon the Necronomicon myth. You should know that is was a low budget film,patched together with a bunch of inexperienced (would be) actors. All of the stunts where done by the actors themselves, there was no money for stuntmen or anything like that. Never the less it's fun and it stands out of the masses. The story is short and simple ; a bunch of college students go out to an abandoned cottage for the weekend. This cottage is located in some dark woods and they are cut of from the outside world. They find a book (the Book of the Dead ) made from human skin and written in blood. With this creepy relic they find an audio log of a professor who had been studying this manuscript. As they play the tape - they (re)awaken the demons ... form there on all hell breaks lose. It's well know fact that if you are looking for a plot, horror movies in general aren't a good option. Nevertheless the tensions and shock -factor of this movie are outstanding. The action is great, the sound effects are exceptionally eerie and the zombies make The Exorcist look like a tea party with Linda Blair as the hostess. Also, the camerawork is very creative and refreshing. The Evil Dead was one of the first horror movies to actually,(consciously ) incorporate humor into horror. The violence is first scary, then shocking and finally hilarious . However, they got into trouble with the censure crew at the movie auctions and the movie was considered a 'video nasty' and was thrown in the same bin as snuff shit such as "Traces of Death". Humor was obviously lost on the sterile auction drones... - the Evil Dead was released simultaneously on video and theaters, which was never done before. Unlike most popular horror movies the tempo of this film isn't your standard ; becomes hero by facing the killer or monster. This movie grabs you by the throat from the start and doesn't let go until hours AFTER you played it. The result is a authentic 70's horror flick, dipping with blood, oozing with slime and screaming so loud it's echoes are still heard in the Horror Hall of Fame . Even now, over ten years later I still got hooked watching it on a Halloween night.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

A story by Tom Tykwer.A murderer but innocent when come in front of jury for cut his head, but no one can able to do this...

Face/Off
Face/Off(1997)

Yeah there is war between a cop and gangster, but the twist change the whole story.

The Rock
The Rock(1996)

Awesome Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage are combine, i love the prisoner who was the only person who run from this prison n this the scientist come to rescue the hostages....Good thrill and loving action....Specially when Connery run on yellow jeep like car...I think it might be Hummer car.

Predator
Predator(1987)

Good predator movie, never seen before Arnold with predator. All group of commando's die against predator accept our great Commando who kill this crap in the last n he saved the life of girl who in the end rescued with helicopter team.

Mouse Hunt
Mouse Hunt(1997)

I love this movie....... because a little mouse made them crazy...... both brother's willing to sale their father's only house but they can not get success and in the last but not least the mouse became their close friend.....even their factory stop working....but a little mouse turn the factory on right direction...it's really good family comedy movie....

Stuart Little 2

This part is better than first one.

Stuart Little

Stuart Little is great mouse fun film.

Center Stage: Turn It Up

It is better than first one. because the dance style is stunning. The story is also marvelous.

Bulletproof Monk

Chow Yun Fat played awesome role in this movie.

Army of Darkness

My favorite Evil Dead series part 3, here u see some comedy with horror scene's.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

This is one of the best movie in Indiana Jones series where two great heroes of Decades performed together; Sean Connery and Harrison Ford.

Spider-Man
Spider-Man(2002)

Awesome new character as always introduced by Steven Spielberg

Kill Bill: Volume 1

Uma Thurman have great actress.

Resident Evil: Afterlife

With Earth a zombiefied dead zone, she warrior Alice(Jovovich), herself a physically enhanced Umbrella specimen, is still on the hunt for undamaged survivors. She flies into a decimated Los Angeles with amnesiac fellow traveller Claire(Larter) and joins forces with a besieged crew. Their aim, of course, is to hightail it the hell out of there to safety. Meanwhile, they're sitting ducks for zombies, which sucks big time for them but along with Anderson's wrecked city, is a damned fine look.

Robin-B-Hood
Robin-B-Hood(2006)

Master thief and compulsive gambler Thongs (Jackie Chan) along with his womanizing criminal partner Octopus (Louis Koo) find themselves smack in the middle of Three Men And A Baby when their boss kidnaps a newborn that will be passed on to the grandfather for a fee of seven million dollars! Thongs and Octopus, who have no experience with babies, must watch over the tyke for a week until the arrangement is all sorted out, during which time the pair have to take a crash course in caring for an infant, avoid the suspicion of the local authorities, and deal with pesky triad debt collectors. But when it is finally time to turn the baby over, will Thongs and Octopus be able to put aside their new found parenting instincts in return for the big payday?

Undisputed III: Redemption

Although unlike cop flicks, in prison movies the bad guys are behind bars, it nonetheless still feels strange to go against our man with a badge cop movie training and root for the villains, which is often the case in the prison genre.

Yet when the lines are drawn as black and white as they are in Undisputed III: Redemption, where the wardens will beat you senseless and deprive you of food, it becomes much easier to slip into bad guys as good guys mode, especially when our protagonist is as badass as Yuri Boyka (Scott Adkins) who goes from mopping toilet floors to becoming the ?King of Prison Fighters.?

Essentially UFC porn with the most basic of plots, Undisputed III finds Yuri overcoming a horrific knee injury to compete with seven other fighters from maximum security institutions around the globe in an elite, corrupt fight where the businessmen ?sponsoring? the fighters get rich and the last man standing wins his freedom.

After leaving his Russian prison and arriving in the Republic of Georgia, Yuri quickly ascertains that the new guards and warden aren't playing by any traditional rules other than their own greed for the green in ensuring that their chosen fighter ? a juicer from Colombia ? will beat every single opponent within an inch of his life.

And even though he's been a loner so long he'd prefer to keep it that way, soon Yuri forms an alliance with the American fighter Turbo (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) whose endless chatter and determination to go from forced hard labor to one hour of training bonds the two even after they realize that perhaps they've landed in a trap.

Filled with blood-spurting, bone-crunching violence that you can hear shooting through every single speaker in your media room as you watch, the movie is extremely impressive from a sonic point-of-view even if visually we get pretty tired of the same stale approach of slow-motion blows that synchronize with rap music, which makes some of the fight scenes look like nothing more than a video game you're playing.

As a movie, there's nothing in particular to recommend it if you're not a fan of the smackdown since it's just one long glorified prison fight film dressed that flies the flag of the unfortunate underdog for good measure. But if the sight of buff shirtless men kicking the hell out of one another appeals to you, it's Undisputed that you could do much worse than this prison movie that requires zero knowledge of the prequels to appreciate.

Aladdin
Aladdin(1992)

awesome cartoon movie

American Pie 2

a good but different story for youth.

The Bounty Hunter

great movie. And end is awesome..

Scary Movie
Scary Movie(2000)

good movie with concept of comedy n dreadful scene.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg new introduction of characters(E.T) is heart touching.

Sin City
Sin City(2005)

big stars combine in big block buster movie.

2 Fast 2 Furious

good movie to watch, it have some different scenes i never seen in any movie before.

War of the Worlds

Tom Cruise always rocks. World went on great destruction here.
Tom move his family towards safe plce.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

awesome combination of both Hollywood stars.
Yeah its good action n fun of husband n wife here. Its great conflict between them but in the end the sweet couple get together. I really like the story. Yeah its fictionous action but little different.

Rocky
Rocky(1976)

great series.

Gladiator
Gladiator(2000)

wonderful movie.
He was warrior of his country but after that circumatances changes, he turb into gladiator n rulers like the fights of gladiators n our hero in the last won the gladiator fight...the great gladiators combine for fight from all over the world n they were slave n purchased by different persons. N in the last they get together in that grat fight...

Shrek 2
Shrek 2(2004)
½

good animation movie.

Death Race
Death Race(2008)

Good action but in different style.
In the race the looser has to die only winner can live but Jason change this rule.

Die Another Day

Awesome Helly berry n Pirerce Brosna are conbine in one action. One of the good movies of 007.

Twins
Twins(1988)

Good comedy film by Arnold.

The Boondock Saints

I love these saints who kill only gangesters n craps n especillay Don