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Current Movie List

Here is a list of the movies which I've most recently seen as well as my thoughts on each pic.
 

Watchmen
Watchmen

Damn!  This is an awesome film.  Yeah, I bought the comic back in the 80's as it came out.  Each of those issues are still carefully boarded and bagged in a comic book box out in my garage.  So to is the "graphic novel" version of the thing which came along later.  Even without having been through the print form though, this movie is still awesome.  But, if you've taken the time to read the thing first, then this movie experience of it is going to knock your socks off!  The love which Snyder showed for the original material is astounding.  The composition, the frame by frame duplication and the basic fact that Snyder "gets it" came through in spades.

I found the story compelling and a wonderous thing to take in as well.  The overwhelming sense of tragedy permeated the entire tale and that came through beautifully in the film.  Billy Crudup renders an excellent Dr. Manhattan.  His character well handled the question of "when you've come to have the powers of a god - are you really human any more?"

And then there was Jackie Earle Haley.  His portrayal of Rorschach was stunning.  He nailed that one, perfectly.  He well captured the unflinching and absolute zealotry of that character.  I found his character, out of the entire excellent range of characters in the story and film, to be the most compelling.

This tale is an excellent example of an alternate history that, in portraying what could have been, makes a deep commentary on what actually is.  I hope this one continues to do very, very well in the box office.  I certainly enjoyed it.  I know I'm gonna buy this one when it comes out on DVD and then spend hours going through all the details that Snyder ensured were stuffed into the film version's every frame.

Nicely done all around!

Underworld Rise of the Lycans
Underworld Rise of the Lycans

Eye candy, pure and simple.  Nicely done eye candy but, eye candy none-the-less.  Fun to watch but not terribly deep.  This one is allegedly the prequel to the first Underworld movie.  As such, there was no latex and no lycra being worn - or not worn, as the case may be.  Still though, leather and chainmail makes an effective substitute.
The Tale of Despereaux
The Tale of Despereaux

More feature length animated goodness.  Matthew Broderick does an excellent job of using his voice to bring the Despereaux character to life on screen.  The animation of the mice and the rats was superb and seemed much more realistic than that of the people.

The tale is predictable enough but well told all the same.  I think this film is a wee bit advanced for wee ones but fits well with kids and adults who've some maturity to handle its messages of honor, justice and forgiveness.

A good tale well told.

Quantum of Solace
Quantum of Solace

Hot damn!  This is the second of the Craig Bond films and keeps up with the blistering pace set by the first Craig Bond film, Casino Royale.  Here again is Daniel Craig's frenetic and superbly physical portrayal of the ultimate British super agent.  The action was fast, furious, well paced, and believable.  There was a distinct lack of over the top gadgetry and gizmos as well as a super villain who was rather believable in his super villainess.

Of course, for some, that's the main cause of their intense dissatisfaction with the direction the Bond franchise is now taking.  For them, Bond's appeal was that he was so damn good, so damn cool, that he never - ever - broke a sweat whilst saving the world.  Craig's portrayal sweats in buckets - and he bleeds a lot to.  The old Bond film villains were all about destroying the entire planet.  The new ones?  Trading in blood diamonds and covertly securing water rights.

I can see their point but I also know what I like and I really like the new Bond!

Death Race
Death Race

Another in a long line of Jason Statham vehicles.  This one is a nice and modern update to the original Death Race 2000 film from back in 1975.  Updated to a modern era and hooked into live pay per view Web Cam sessions, this race was around a track at a special prison in economically collapsed future US.  The setting though was pretty irrelevant to the high testosterone high octane driving action.

Statham will never want for a roof over his head nor food on his table if he keeps plugging away at such characters in such flicks.  This was a fun bit of very light entertainment.

An American Carol
An American Carol

A good bit of political satire - from the right this time.  I was surprised to see this one come out of Hollywood since it cuts that land to shreds in the process.  Done in the same style as "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun" films - no surprise given who wrote and directed it - the film was high on quick comedy and low brow slapstick.  But, it hit its mark.  I'm sure no few Moonbats who saw this film got rather riled at it.  Good.
Burn After Reading
Burn After Reading

What a tragic piece of work.  Billed as a dark comedy, this film was more dark than comedic.  There were no winners and there were no good guys in the film.  Everyone depicted was a fool, a liar, a cheat, a loser, or simply hopeless.  Gee, what fun.  Oh, it was entertaining, in its fashion, but not a film you could really feel good about.

I found the portrayal of the single's life in the DC area to be utterly scathing.  I used to live in DC and found many of the settings to be familiar.  I also found the depiction of the life there to be depressing as well. 

The acting was first rate, the script was well done, the story was well presented, and it was an otherwise professional effort on the part of the Coen brothers.  But there was no one and nothing redeeming in it otherwise.  That makes it kinda hard to get excited about.

The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight

Another outstanding rendering of the Batman world and an excellent follow-on to Batman Begins.  I think
Christian Bale well captures the anger and menace of what the original Batman was all about.

In this edition he's essentially overpowered and overwhelmed though by Heath Ledger's depiction of the Joker.  Ledger is another actor who actually acts up on screen.  For the life of me, I could not discern him from the character he was playing.  The voice, the mannerisms, and the makeup rendered it impossible.  It's a pity we won't get to further enjoy the man's talents.

The action in this film was excellent, the plot had some wonderful and much appreciated twists that were very adult in their nature.  I think Bale can mine this role for many a year to come if he keeps things up at this level.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Another good romp in the Mummy franchise.  I enjoyed this flick.  I thought it funny and well done, over all.  I liked how the setting had changed from the standard Egyptian bit and also appreciated how the O'Connell's were depicted as having settled in a bit after their previous mummy encounters.

Unlike others, I thought the change in leading ladies - from Rachael Weisz to Maria Bello - was well done.  I think she brought a nice change to the role.

We'll just have to see where the next installment takes us.

Wanted
Wanted

What a cute film.  No, really.  For as elaborate as its hype was, the film was but an adolescent's wanking fanboy fantasy.  Which is okay, as far as it goes.  Based on a truly amoral and nasty bit of comic book excellence, this film version spins things up a bit and completely sidesteps the parallel worlds aspect that was so prominent in the comic.

The action was fine, the visuals were awfully nice, and the piece was not a waste of a ticket's price. 

I still think Angelina Jolie is way, way to skinny.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Nicely done.  This sequel does a good job of fleshing out the universe which the first Hellboy started on screen.  Ron Perelman was born for this role.  He has just the right gravitas for it and well pulls off the character of a red skinned, stone handed, demon from another plane of existence.

The storyline was nice and I like how it made use of different mythos to weave together something entirely new.  I thought the Prince Nuada character that Luke Goss played seemed a lot like Tom Cruise in his looks and mannerisms.  Interesting, that.

The film slowed down in parts and had some fun developing its characters as a result.  I think this franchise has plenty of legs left to it and I look forward to the next Hellboy film.

The Incredible Hulk
The Incredible Hulk

Yet another version of the comic.  I think the primary difference here was how deeply Edward Norton threw himself in the role.  He's another actor who can really do an outstanding job by becoming invisible in his character.  I like that.  There's only been a couple of films where Tom Cruise, for instance, has done his job in such a way that you aren't constantly reminded of the fact that it's Tom Cruise up on screen, acting.  This, as opposed to the character being paramount and Tom Cruise happening to play him.  Norton, I think, is the better actor as a result.

As to the film, well, I think it hit all the right points and did so in a well crafted and professional manner.  I think the CGI depiction of the Hulk looked a bit washed out and not terribly realistic.  The storyline though worked well enough and the film was a good bit of entertainment.

Kung Fu Panda
Kung Fu Panda

This was a nice take on the "chopsocky" / Kung Fu films of the 60's and 70's.  Instead of badly dubbed Asians doing goofy martial arts moves we now have superbly animated critters rendering the same.  A nice touch, this.  Particularly as the film came out just when the Olympics started up in Peking.

The plot was pretty obvious but was nicely enough handled.  Jack Black did an excellent job of bringing THE big fat panda to life and he was well assisted by the other vocal talents on deck. 

This was a good bit of entertainment.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I liked this film.  I thought is about as good as the third Indie film and way, way better than the second one of the franchise.  It was great to see Ford back in the Jones role.  I also liked how they updated the film to keep with the times, sort of.  Nazis are now passe and it's on to the Commies being the villains.  About time to!

Yeah, the film could've been done better.  A lot better.  But, in the end, I think it was done well enough.  I wish Spielberg had the stones to have let this one be great.  Instead, he played it safe and produced what is simply a good product.  Nothing bad here, just something that lacks greatness.  That may be damning it with faint praise but I did find the film worth watching - flying refrigerators and all.

Iron Man
Iron Man

Awesome!  This has got to be about the best comic book to screen adaptation I've yet seen.  I think they nailed everything about Iron Man cold in this film.  Stan Lee has got to be very, very proud of the result.  Robert Downey Jr. was beyond perfect in his depiction of Tony Stark.  There's so much in Downey's life that parallels Stark's that he could probably well relate to it.

The CGI was great in this one.  You really got the sense of joy, exuberance, and freedom watching Downey/ Stark fly around in the Iron Man suit.  I mean, how many of us haven't wished we could fly around like that!

I also liked how the handled the rest of the "world" in the tale.  Tony Stark wasn't the only smart guy in the room, as it were, and that was nice to see.  Sure, Iron Man brought a lot of special capabilities to the table - but the rest of the world wasn't simply sitting on its butt either.

This was a well done and very enjoyable film.  I got a real rush in taking this one in and was very, very pleased with the experience. 

Leatherheads
Leatherheads

This was a fun bit of entertainment.  Clooney was doing his patented "lovable rogue" bit and did so like a pro.  The film did a nice job of depicting the origins of pro football in the US just after WW I.  I don't know how accurate this all was but it sure was fun to watch.
There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood

Wow!  Daniel Day-Lewis knocked this one out of the park!  The brooding, vicious energy in his portrayal of a turn of the century oilman in California was something to see.  The storyline was highly engaging, the acting even more so, and the period feel of the piece was spot on.

This was a very powerful story to watch unfold and Day-Lewis deserves his props for it.  He's another actor who completely immerses himself in his characters.  I saw nothing of the Irishman there in his portrayal of Daniel Plainview and that was one of the things which made it so much more powerful. 

Nicely done and well worth seeing!

Charlie Wilson's War
Charlie Wilson's War

What a surprising film!  Whodathunkit that a staunchly anti-Communist film such as this one would get made in today's Hollywood?  And done so well to!  No doubt it was Hanks who was the driver behind all that.  Well, good on him.  This was a tale that deserved to be told and told well.  In this, the film succeeds nicely.

Tom Hanks portrays the US Congressman, Charlie Wilson, who was instrumental in turning around how the US handled combating the Soviets in Afghanistan.  Wilson was a Democrat doing this in the time of Reagan.  I wish there were more Democrats like him still in office.  Sadly, there's not.

The film did an excellent job of portraying what compelled Wilson to get so involved and also showed how complicated and complex things can be in both Washington and out in the world that Washington effects.  Hoffman was outstanding as
Gust Avrakotose and completely immersed himself in the role of a career CIA man who was not of the Ivy League clan that holds the reins there.

A good film that was politically relevant and did a good job of shedding light on a fascinating bit of US history - all while being highly entertaining in the process.

The Golden Compass
The Golden Compass

I liked this film.  I thought it very well realized and a nicely done bit of fantasy.  The production values were outstanding, the story was cohesive, the acting first rate, and the over all experience was quite enjoyable.  I like the mix of technology and "magic" as depicted in the alternate universe of the story's world.  The way it was handled made it seem quite real and well done.

Nicole Kidman played a consummate ice princess and made for quite the nemesis.  Daniel Craig played well his part of the scientific adventurer.  Hell, even Sir Ian McKellen did a damn fine job of playing a warrior king polar bear!

Blade Runner
Blade Runner: The Final Cut

This was the remastered version that Scott released back in '07.  I caught it at the Ken Cinema as it very much fit the "art house" sort of venue.

I know lots of folks are raving about the quality of the film and its newly visualized depth.  Perhaps it's because I've seen it so many times and also because I know so much of its background - I've got several books about its making, its filming, and its special effects - but I was able to discern to much of the special effects and found them somewhat wanting as a result.

Not badly so, just a bit more obviously for me.

It was also very interesting to see how technology has made some of Blade Runner's future vision antiquated.  The CRT's that Scott used in abundance were pretty futuristic back in '82 but today they seem almost laughable.  Such screens today are all replaced by flat panel LCD's.  I'm also of mixed mind about the voice over which was vehemently absent in this version.  From what I've read, both Scott and Ford hated it and thought it an insult to the film.  The studio thought the film well nigh indecipherable and demanded that Scott have Ford do the voiceover as a exposition so the audience would have some clue as to what was going on. 

I liked the original's voiceover as it seemed just like the voiceovers from the Noir films of the 40's and 50's.  I didn't find it insulting, I just took it as part and parcel of the experience.  I dunno, perhaps had I seen this version first and then seen the one with Ford's / Deckard's hardboiled vocals I might be of a different mind.

In any event, this film still retains an awful lot of zing - even after a quarter century since it first saw light on screen.  I'm glad there's still enough interest in it to give it this new life and the remastered version does look nicely vivid in comparison to the faded prints still in use today.

No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men

I can see why this one cleaned up at the Oscars.  Damn, this was excellent entertainment.  Tommy Lee Jones was awesome in this.  It helps that the role was of a character from about where he grew up.  Still though, his depiction of a Texas Lawman realizing the violence in the world is beyond him was a treat to see on screen.

Supporting him on screen were some other top notch acting talent.  I thought Josh Brolin as "Llewelyn Moss" was outstanding.  I could relate to his plight.  He stumbled onto something which could change his world - if only he could hold on to it.  And making sure he couldn't was Javier
Bardem's character, "Anton Chigurh".  I thought the characterizations here were all spot on and very compelling.  This was an excellent film that was well worth watching.

Live Free Or Die Hard
Live Free Or Die Hard

Nicely done!  This was the first of the Die Hard series since the original one that I found "real" and that's because they well incorporated the terrorist threat in it.  Sure, the other bad guys in the other Die Hard movies were terrorists, of a sort, but this one was the first Die Hard film since 9/11 and it came with a different attitude as a result.

Bruce Willis is in top form here as a man who is weary of being "that guy" all the time but is at a loss when it comes to being anything else but "that guy."  A nice bit of characterization here.  The action was well paced and nicely done.  Some of the settings were a tad over the top but not badly so.  I got a particular kick out of how Willis managed to down a F-35!

One thing I particularly like was how they handled "Lucy" - John McClane's / Bruce Willis daughter.  They could've gotten away with depicting her as but another helpless femme in need of a manly man to rescue her.  She still needed that man to rescue her and she was still a femme but she was far from helpless.  A nicely done bit, that.

This film was a good romp.  Well produced, well acted, well scripted.  I think it relevant in today's times and shows how much the nation has changed in the way it views terrorism on screen.

Ocean's Thirteen
Ocean's Thirteen

I think a good subtitle for this flick would be "The Apology" as the "Ocean's Twelve" was pretty wretched.  In this one however, they're all back in their groove and it worked just fine.  Here, they weren't the arrogant and smug jerks who were all to aware of just how cool they were on screen.  In this one, they actually did some acting!  Imagine that!

The premise was about the same, the action was about the same, the humor was about the same - it was just done with a bit of humility that was lacking from the second installment.  Thus, the film worked as a nice bit of simple entertainment and we got to enjoy the pros being pros without the attitude.


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Oh well, third time is not the charm!  I was wondering if this would happen.  The first Pirates movie was a great romp.  The second one was still pretty romping and introduced a bunch of new characters and such.  But there were signs of dark portents in that film that the series was headed for the breakers.  Sure, Johnny Depp was still a treat to watch to his Cap'n Jack / Keith Richards bit but they couldn't really hang a full film off of just that alone.

In trying to tie this one all up they failed.  Then again, it was kind of amazing they got as far as they did with just the one Disney ride to base the three films on.  The film was still fun, kinda, if for no other reason than the visuals were still eye popping and the whole idea of it was mindless entertainment.  The pity of it is that it wasn't more than it was.  Considering the cost of the whole enterprise and the top-notch talent involved, this film coulda been a contenda!  Instead, it was pretty lame.

Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz

A very funny film.  From the same folks who did "Shaun of the Dead" comes another parody/ homage film.  This time its the police buddy action/adventure filcks which get the treatment.  Simon Pegg is once again excellent in the title role and this time he is anything but the incompetent bumbling fool he portrayed in "Shaun."  He's still very funny though and the change is much appreciated.

This film has a number of long time stars playing in bit parts and that really ads to the color of the film.  It's also fun trying to pick them out on screen.  The film slows in a couple of places but not for too long and the whole package is very nicely done.  Good for quite a few laughs and a nice bit of movie making.

Shooter
Shooter

Yawn.  A Mark Wahlberg vehicle where he gets to play a really tough guy going up against a veritable legion of bad guys all in the name of rooting out the corruption which has filled our government and does dirty deeds without concern for the law or decency.  A nice compilation of all standard hackneyed Hollywood tropes about the "lone hard good man taking on our corrupt government" crap.  The Stephen Hunter book, upon which this film is based, didn't go down that lame route but it must've come close enough for some money folk in Hollywood to find it worthwhile to twist around like that.  As it stands the film was good enough as action adventure pap but little more than that.  Wahlberg has come a long, long way from his "Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch" days.

300
300

Is there anything that Frank Miller does that doesn't translate well on to film?  Wow!  Another bit of outstanding comic-to-screen adaptation.  And another bit of awesome entertainment.  This was not a retelling of the battle of Thermopylae.  Instead, it was a retelling of the legend of the battle of Thermopylae.  Key difference there.  Recognize that and then the rest falls in to place.  And it fits so very well as it does.  The Good in this retelling were all very, very Good and the Bad are very, very Bad.  The Good were all noble, dedicated and beautiful (and buffed out to the fare-thee-well with awesome bods and great six pacs) while the Bad were monstrous evil things deserving their fate.  Not a film for the squeamish but then, neither is life.

This one is sure to be a classic and it strikes to the heart of Western Civilization's original myths and legends.  An excellent bit of entertainment that was well worth watching.

Happy Feet
Happy Feet

Cute.  Well done.  Awesome animation.  The dialog Robin Williams did for the Ramon character was the funniest and most enjoyable part of the film for me.  Overall though, I thought the film was a tad flat.  The computer graphics were just shy of photographic in their perfection but the tale didn't grab me and the idea of penguins dancing didn't do much for me either - you couldn't see their feet so they only seemed to shuffle, not dance.  Oh well, it was still worth the price of admission.

Casino Royale
Casino Royale

Wow.  It doesn't get any better than this.  The Bond franchise is being reborn with this film and they've done an excellent job relighting its fires.  Daniel Craig is awesome as the new James Bond.  He brings a physicality to the role that has been sorely lacking for many a year and he also brings a menace to the character which even Sean Connery never applied.  With this Bond you truly can believe that he is can be a stone cold killer in one second, an utter gentleman the next, and then right back to the killing all without batting an eye.  He might, however, break a sweat.  That is a nicely appreciated difference.  Previous Bond's got amazing feats accomplished with hardly any discernible physical effort.  That took much away from their believability.  Not this one.  You can see he's an exceptional physical specimen, the walking out of the water onto the beach scene left no doubt of that, but you also get to see him sweat, see him bleed and see him almost die.  The plot on this one is also a whole lot more believable than the previous "end of the world doomsday device being unleashed" stuff and that too is a welcome change.

All in all this was the best Bond film in a long, long time - if not the best ever.  Highly watchable and very recommended.

Hollywoodland
Hollywoodland

Superman is dead.  But who killed him?  That's the premise to this sharply drawn bit of "post-noire" movie telling.  Adrien Brody is outstanding as the Hollywood private eye who winds up trying to solve the case.  Ben Affleck does an exceptional job of portraying George Reeves and brings a complexity to the character which was never allowed to peek out from under the Superman suit he wore on TV.  This is an excellent bit of Hollywood lore and Americana that the actors all handled nicely.  A good bit of film entertainment.
Miami Vice
Miami Vice

Yeah gods!  What a lame-ass movie!  For an action film this was almost so lifeless as to be unwatchable.  For a crime-drama is was so predictable and dull as to almost be excruciating to watch, and as Mann's "alleged" follow-on to "Heat" it makes me wonder if it was the same guy who did both films.  Throughout the entire film I found myself actually laughing at it.  Julia really didn't get that nor appreciate it much.  She was too into watching Colin Farrell be, well,
Colin Farrell.  That's something I don't get.  He's cute 'n all but I don't find him heartstoppingly attractive as do so many others.  Oh well.

As a "big screen" version of the 80's show, this one lost something when it moved to that larger canvass.  The thing which was so attractive about the TV show was how utterly cool the main characters were - and about how their captain, James Olmos, was even cooler than they were.  This was coolness with style and coolness without trying so damn hard to be cool.  Mann interpreted that coolness as meaning overblown intensity and paradoys of "male bonding knowing looks between the real men looking knowingly at each other."  Gah!  This recanting of the standard Hollywood "cop buddy" movie trope was slickly done but didn't at all rise above its hackneyed standard.

Unforgivably, the visuals were lame as well.  That was the second thing which made the original Miami Vice so powerful - its powerful visuals.  Miami Vice was show made for good color TV sets.  The bigger ones the better.  The vistas and settings were lush, rich, bold, striking, and integral to the story settings.  The second unit crews of the TV were busier than the first unit guys and aside from Don Johnson's prancing around in linen suits and T-shirts were what really made the show.  The movie missed that entirely.  If the backgrounds were shown at all it was incidental.  There was no lingering on them.  There was no celebrating them.  The TV show reveled in the "larger than life" nature of Miami's scenery and the uniqueness of southern Florida in general.  The film could've been set in Pascagoula for all the difference the setting was played up in the movie version.

All in all this was something which I probably wouldn't have sat through even if it were on broadcast TV - i.e. for free.  The firefights, when the occurred were nice.  The shooting was suitably loud, violent and realistically deadly.  At least that's something good which carried over from "Heat."  I also appreciated how they got around having to Miami Vice Unit cops get into running a major undercover drug ring bust.  The TV series had these two vice cops getting all these juicy cases that were entirely out of their area - vice cops bust prostitutes and liquor code violators.  Police departments have completely different sections to handle the types of crimes that the original Crockett and Tubbs got handed.  That is one plus for the film but that's not enough to lead me to recommend it.

If you're such a huge fan of Collin that you'd pay to watch him read the back of a cereal box then I guess you could justify seeing this one.  Or if you like seeing Jamie Foxx with his shirt off then fine.  Other than that?  No thanks.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

The franchise continues!  Following up on the smash success of the first Pirates of the Caribbean, the same cast and crew are back for another round.  This is a silly, almost plot free film that still delivers an excellent bit of entertainment.  The dialog is sharp and quite funny.  Depp is in high form as Cap'n Jack and the rest of the characters all do their parts well in keeping the tale moving along.  This was a good bit of entertainment.

Cars
Cars

Nicely done.  A friend of ours called this morning wanting to know if we'd like to see a matinee with him.  Spur of the moment thing, so we said yes and wound up in the theater watching this latest Pixar flick.  Excellent stuff indeed.  The film was very, very well done.  The computer rendering is getting better each and every year.  This time 'round the lads at Pixar managed to top themselves from the last release and that's no small feat.

The story line was well handled and its obviousness didn't detract from its enjoyment by virtue of how Pixar handled it all.  I thought the vocal talents were spot on and also well handled.  You could say that Owen Wilson has truly arrived now that he's lent his voice as the lead in a Pixar film.  Newman lent his gravitas to his role and all the other cast brought their inanimate animated objects to life quite well.

The visuals in this tale were spectacular.  This is definitely a film which benefits from being seen up on a movie theater's broad vista.  It was big and open and joyous.  The tale was a bit hokey at times but that too was part of it all.  If I knew more about professional racing, NASCAR, and auto lore I'm sure I would've gotten more of all the inside jokes, sight gags and the like but even so the ones I did catch were damn funny and also hard to keep up with as there were so many of them.

The details of this films were exceptionally well thought out, a trademark of Pixar films.  For instance, the voice of "The King" was done by none other than Richard Petty - a longtime NASCAR champion driver.  Okay, that makes sense.  So too was having Mrs. Petty do the voice of Mrs. King.  But the voice of Lightning McQueen's agent, Harv, was done by Jeremy Piven - who plays an agent in HBO's "Entourage."  The two comedians doing their opening for the Rust-eze sponsorship were done by none other than "Click & Clack" the Tappit Brothers (aka Tom and Ray Magliozzi) from National Public Radio.  Even the background scenery is filled with such references and inside jokes and the like.

I will most likely wind up buying this one on DVD when it comes out.  I've also now got my eyes peeled for some Cars cars to have in my model collection.  This was definitely another hit for Pixar.  One thing which makes this different from the other Pixar products is that it was clearly aimed more at adults than kids.  Make no mistake, kids will still love it, but in this film the messages were more nostalgic and that's something kids simply haven't had the time for.

So, go see it and enjoy it!  This film is definitely worth it.
Superman Returns
Superman Returns

Julia and I saw this last night and thought it excellent.  I'm sure if I was more into the whole Superman lore I'd have gotten more of the tributes, insider jokes and such but even I could tell the film must've been riddled with them and they were so well handled.

I thought the film over all was excellent.  The resemblance of Routh to Reeve was amazing.  Distinctly different but too many similarities to ignore.  And I think that a good thing.  Reeve _owned_ that character in the modern age.  Acknowledging that was a nice touch.  I liked how they just picked things up without wasting valuable screen time retelling too much of the original tale.  As Superman has been around now for the better part of a century his origins are pretty widely known.  Good choice on Singer's part.  I had to cringe when I saw that Peters was still on the ticket but as I didn't then see any polar bears or giant spiders it seems that Singer, Dougherty & Harris had things in hand.

I thought that Spacey was _excellent_ as Luthor.  Smooth, smart, cunning, and gloriously amoral.  Exactly the type of high-caliber villain worthy of a superhero.  Hackman was more comic than believable.  Spacey was spot on.

I also really like the emotional conflicts they set up.  Lois really had moved on and Supe's return really highlighted that and put the new guy in an untenable position.  To their credit he was depicted as being an exceptionally strong and capable man - just exactly the type it would be impossible to easily dismiss even for the likes of Superman.

All in all I thought this was very nicely done and I recommend it highly.
X-Men: The Last Stand
X-Men: The Last Stand

Nicely done.  I liked how Ratner amped things up and how his style differed from Singer's in his handling of this new installment in the X-Men saga.  Not missing a beat from the previous two movies, Ratner runs his characters through their paces and throws in some excellent curve balls, dilemmas and other and assorted dramatic bits.  All in all this one was well worth it.  Julia and I both enjoyed it.

I thought the action was well paced and the character development was appropriate.  This is after all an action movie.  The humor was deftly handled as was the deaths of several main characters.  I also liked how us mere humans were depicted as being quite capable of thinking for ourselves and adapting to the threats posed by the hostile mutants.

The Notorious Bettie Page
The Notorious Bettie Page

Nicely done. 

Bettie Page is one of the icons of American pop culture sexuality.  Even to this day her image is still used and still very evocative.  This film does an excellent job of depicting the halcyon days of her pin-up "bad girl" photo model career in the 50's.  Gretchen Mol does an outstanding job of portraying Bettie in a fashion that shows the woman's exuberance about her own body and also her naivete about just what she was getting herself in to.  The film nicely captures the hypocrisy and sexual repression of the 50's and makes an outstanding contrast to how we view sexuality in the world today.
Take the Lead
Take The Lead

A nicely done tale of ballroom dance bringing a creative outlet and joy to otherwise written off inner city schoolkids.  A bit stylized and smoothed for the big screen story of a real world event.  As this had both dance and Antonio Banderas, it became a must see for Julia.  The film was well enough done though, that I also enjoyed it.
Lucky Number Sleven
Lucky Number Sleven

Modern film noire at its best.  This was very slickly done.  Lotsa twists and turns here - none of which were poorly or, even worse, expectedly handled.  Bruce Willis is in top form as his bad-ass self.  Sir Ben Kingsley does an excellent job playing a gangster rabbi (perhaps in an attempt to redeem himself for his role in "BloodRayne",) Morgan Freeman is also quite believable as a very laid back and very menacing bad guy as well.  Even Josh Hartnett plays his character well.  I thought the whole film was very well done, very enjoyable and a good bit of entertainment.  The plot was nicely involved and everybody - everybody - gets what they deserve at the end.  This is not a film for the squeamish but nor is it an exercise in gratuitous gore.  The violence is "appropriate" and well handled.  That is to say, it's sudden, direct, brutal, but effective.  Julia and I both liked this film and recommend it highly.
Capote
Capote

Julia and I finally caught this one in mid-March.  I found it very engaging.  I can also see why Philip Seymour Hoffman got that little statue for his work on this.  The guy was completely mesmerizing as Truman Capote.  His portrait of the man was seamless. 

The pacing of the film was a tad slow at times but I think that added to the effect.  I liked it.  I liked how the film was constructed and how it got into the details of Capote's approach to "In Cold Blood" and how it portrayed the two killers.

Capote was one royal sonufabitch.  He was vain, petty, vindictive, self-centered, egotistical, fragile, extremely manipulative, and possessed with both a tremendously perceptive view of people _and_ the ability to also describe his view in vivid and powerful terms.

It seems almost quaint, now, to view the subject matter of "In Cold Blood" but back then, in 1959, what happened was still pretty rare and descriptions of it even more so.  What descriptions as did exist of such crimes were usually no more than lurid recounting of the physical results of the crime, perhaps some brief bits on the suffering of the survivors, and all this was then neatly wrapped up with notes on how justice was served upon the guilty.  And the guilty were almost always depicted as caricature-like beings with no real depth.

Capote's work changed all that.  And it was truly ground-breaking in its day.  I kept thinking that as I watched the tale unfold.  For such a high-society New York writer to have picked such a gruesome crime as his "next big thing" would've been odd enough.  But for the particular crime chosen to have been located so deep in the country that it's hardly even known of even today is something else and again.  On top of that, this writer is a screaming queer in an age when queers - and that's using a polite term to describe them back then - were routinely locked up just because they existed.  To make matters worse, he shows up in this far off land and wants to write a tale about the killers - not the innocent victims, not the righteous lawmen doing their duty to catch the monster - but about the monsters themselves.  And he wants to write it in such a way to portray their human side and not just the standard cardboard renderings of the day.

For that, Capote must've truly seemed an alien thing descending upon the Earth at that time.  And the film captures all that quite well.

I enjoyed this one immensely and recommend it highly.

One other thing which struck me was how little Truman Capote actually produced in his career.  Just a handful of books bear his name.  Yet he's hailed as one of the century's greatest writers and claimed a space amongst high society that lasted decades.  An odd thing all that.
The World's Fastest Indian
The World's Fastest Indian

What a fine film!

One day, whilst at at my local coffeeshop, I found a card touting this film.  It was a free pass for two for a special screening of this new film.  I'd not heard a word about it previously and the blurb on the card was all too brief.  However, it had Anthony Hopkins - SIR Anthony Hopkins - as its star so it had that much going for it.  It was also free.  So...

On the designated night saw Julia and I headed off to the local art film house to take it in.  And I'm damn glad I did.  This film was very well rendered.  The tale concerns one Burt Munro and his quest to set the world's land speed record with his 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle.

Burt has been a gearhead all his long life and he's always like to "go fast."  Now, in his senior age he's decided to take this old bike that he's been tinkering with and let it loose on the one place on the planet where he can really let it unwind - the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.  Trouble is, Burt lives in New Zealand and lives on a pensioner's salary.

No trouble though, for he finds a way.  And that's the gist of the whole tale.  No matter what gets thrown in his face, Burt finds a way.  He's no superman, he's hardly perfect, but he's a gentleman, a charmer, and has a good heart.  Well, he has a good soul, his heart however is not what it used to be.  His tale is extremely endearing and inspiring.  Along the way we get to see how such a man can bring out the best in himself and in others.

I really liked this tale.  Sir Anthony Hopkins did an outstanding job with this role.  He was a pure joy to watch and he seamlessly became Burt.  Wonderful entertainment that I highly recommend.
Underworld: Evolution
Underworld: Evolution

Another good flick in this series.  This one picks up right where the first Underworld left off and does so seemlessly.  Production values are high, the acting is believable, and the visuals are enjoyable.  The script and story are nice and tight.  If you like modern day vampire films then this is right up your ally.  I hope they keep making more of these as there's lots of places they can keep going with this story line.
King Kong
King Kong

Damn, but this was an excellent film!

Peter Jackson, the director, is a gifted man who clearly both loves classic film and has the talent to remake such an icon while doing justice to it.  That's something which De Laurentiis/ Guillermin lacked in making their version back in the 70's.  Jackson's film is beautifully done and brings the overall feel of the 1930's to life like little else.  He also made this film into a romping, roaring adventure that was a joy to experience in the theater.  The actors were all first rate and at the top of their craft.  I thought that Jack Black's portrayal Carl Denham's character was particularly well done as a man obsessed with getting his vision on screen, or at least in the bank.  The computer animation in this one was damn near flawless and made Kong seem truly lifelike.  The big ape thus became the central player in this tale far more than the stop motion model of the first film or the "guy in a monkey suit" of the others.  This was an excellent film and made for great entertainment.
Aeon Flux
Aeon Flux

This was a fun film with lots of eye candy.  It didn't even come close to the storyline of the MTV cartoon it's based on but then, that cartoon didn't have much of a storyline to begin with.  Initially it was about some super assassin / secret agent superbabe with a really wild hairdo running around in a really wild outfit doing some really wild things - and never saying a word.  All this set in some weird semi-post apocalyptic world of the future.  Initially the cartoons were barely a minute or so long and always winded up with Aeon getting killed in some spectacular manner.  Eventually the cartoons expanded in length, included dialog and developed something of a cohesive plot.  All of which was mostly set aside for the film version.

What we got was a bunch of eye candy as Charlize Theron ran around in one uber sexy and revealing outfit after another doing her secret agent stuff.  The film held together well enough, was well enough produced, and the acting was well enough done over all.  I don't think this will rank as the most memorable SF film of all time but Julia and I both found it worth watching.

Doom
Doom

Damn!  This flick rocks!  Very entertaining!  I've spent many an hour playing the video game so there was some interest in this one for me right from the start.  That and some trepidation as the history of movies adapted from video games is rife with failure.  Not so in this case.  Oh, they made some changes to the premise.  In this case it's not a gateway to Hell which causes the problems but is, instead, some bio-genetics experiment which goes awry.  Still though, they kept everything else pretty much the same.  The effort the creators of this film went to in order to keep the "look and feel" of the game has paid off handsomely.  This is especially true of their "first person shooter's perspective" sequence which was an excellent recreation of what we've gone through in playing the original game.

Yet this film's attraction is hardly limited to those folks who are fans of the video game.  The movie holds up on its own and you don't have to be a Doom afficianado to enjoy the picture.  The action is intense and well paced.  The actors are well cast and deliver sold, believable performances.  The premise of the plot is good and holds together quite well.  Other folks have dismissively compared this flick to the "Resident Evil" films of a couple of years back.  This simply isn't the case.  Doom is a far better flick, is far better acted, and far more enjoyable than those films.  The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, delivers another one of his standout performances and was a real treat to watch go through his paces on screen.  The rest of the cast well played their parts and the ensemble worked together quite well.  One thing which I liked about this film was that it had none of the typical monster / alien threat
movie stupidness on the part of its characters.  The squad of Marines sent to the Mars base were depicted as being smart, experienced, well trained and well armed.  Their actions on the screen lived up that.  This made the movie all that more fun to watch.

I enjoyed this film and am glad to see such an adaptation finally get done so right and be so successful.  We can only hope future game to screen works work so well.

Domino
Domino

After enduring several months of the same trailer for this flic as we sat in the theater waiting for our current movie to start, Domino finally arrived up on screen.  Worth the wait?  Yes.  Nothing overly grand or truly deeply moving.  This is not the best piece of cinemagraphic excellence ever to hit the silver screen.  But it is also far from the worst. 

This violent and odd tale was engaging, funny and filled with enough action to keep things going.  Allegedly the life story of one Domino Harvey, it told the tale of a disaffected Hollywood star's daughter who decided to take the grunge path of life by becoming a bounty hunter and rejecting the oh-so-pretty and oh-so-false standard Hollywood life.  Gritty and surreal, the tale is also funny and a treat to watch.

Mickey Rourke  is always a joy to see doing his trademarked worn out bad guy bit and he didn't disappoint here.  He's not aging well but that actually helps his characters come to life.  This was a good bit of entertainment that was worth watching.
Serenity
Serenity

Wow!  This was excellent!  I only managed to take in one, perhaps two, episodes of Firefly when it was originally broadcast so I wasn't at all familiar with this tale when Julia and I sat down to take it in this Monday.  But that didn't turn out to matter all that much as Joss Whedon didn't allow us time to remain perplexed for he the action started right off.  And then looped
it around itself and stopped and started again and looped again.  Damn, what a ride!  That guy knows how to tell a tale!

The acting was believable, the plot was consistent and engaging, the cinematography was wonderful and the whole thing came together very, very well.  It's hard to believe that Whedon did all this for a mere $39 million ($11 million under his budget too!) and it just goes to show what can be done by a real storyteller (this, as opposed to Lucas) with a real story to tell.

Among the many things which impressed me with this tale was how it handled its primary antagonist, "the Operative."  Played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, this was just the sort of "enemy" which was the most effective, the most frightening, the most realistic, and the most believable.  This character was a stone cold killer but not a dysfunctional one, not a megalomaniacal one, and not one who was incompetent at what he did.  No paper deep character here.  Instead, the Operative was utterly committed and dedicated to accomplishing his mission as it was one which he believed in and one which he would do everything to see fulfilled - this while accepting its dear and bloody cost.  That, to me, is what a real world villain is like - not the caricatures we see in Star Wars or its ilk.

There's talk that if Serenity does well at the box office this will loose the purse strings on further Whedon installments in the Firefly universe.  I can only hope this is so.  The blend of humor, believable characters, stunning action sequences and engaging storytelling is just what I'd keep paying money to see.
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

Tim Burton is whacked in the head.  Truly.  I'd hate to see what his psychiatrist's bills are.  Yet, from this comes an awesome storytelling ability with some truly bizarre tales he tells.  This one was a bit more lighthearted than most and was a fun bit to watch.  As it was all animated puppets there was precious little real gross out going on - which, considering the actual subject, was a good thing.  The puppetry was flawless, the visualization excellent, the vocal characterization spot on, and the pacing was solid.  The musical score was fun and fit right in.  This was a nice bit of entertainment that left Julia and I pleased with our having taken it in.
Transporter 2
Transporter 2

This was a fun film.  Nicely produced and tightly directed with some standup acting to boot.  The premise was about comic book level deep (no insult intended to the graphic novel genre there) but that was fine as this movie wasn't really about story or plot but was, instead, about Jason Statham's moves.  The man is very attractive, has an excellent screen presence and nicely fills out his character on screen.  I particularly liked how his character is portrayed as that of a man who lives by the rules - and has the discipline to make them work as well.  Whereas a "Bond" character would be bedding down every woman in the scene, Frank Martin (Statham's character in both Transporter flicks,)  has too developed a sense of ethics to play that game.  This was a very much appreciated difference in this action adventure movie character.

The film was filled with other nice quirks and lotsa eye candy.  Statham's / Martin's wheels was an utterly gorgeous Audi machine and it was fun watching him put it through its paces.  It was also fun to watch him utterly destroy a real sweet Lamborghini in the course of the action.

The villains in this flick were nicely rendered and clearly had fun with their roles.  The evil mastermind, played by Alessandro Gassman, looked suitably oily and e-vile but it was his chief lieutenant and head assassin, Lola, who really stole the show out from under him.  Played by the newcomer and former model Kate Nauta, she clearly had a whole lot of fun vamping it up through the film as she slunk around in little more than lingerie, high heels and two big machine gun pistols.

Aside from the exceptional camera work on the various car chase scenes, I found the CGI work on the plane crash scene to be laughably bad.  Everything though seemed spot on.

I'd highly recommend this one as a nice bit of eye candy level entertainment.
The Rundown
The Rundown

Another bit of action adventure eye candy.  This one works because of how well the actors were cast and how fun it was to watch the ply their trade.  This film was about a formulaic as it gets.  Hell, I could've written the screenplay's outline for this with ease!  Each stereotypical action adventure movie step was expected and taken.  It was all by the numbers.  In lesser hands than Peter Berg's (the director) or with lesser actors this could've turned into an appalling piece of Hollywood crap that all too often oozes from Tinseltown.  However, it all came together and even though its step was expected they were still fun to watch as they rolled by. 

The Rock, a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson, was in fine form and was perfect for this sort of role.  He filled it with his usual laid back physicality and both Julia and I had fun watching him fill each scene.  Christopher Walken also had fun filling his role as the evil gold mine owner, Hatcher.  He was both believable in his ruthlessness and also threw in some of his trademark Walken weirdness.  He was a treat to watch.

Julia and I caught this one via HBO.  Our local cable company ran a special over Labor Day Weekend in which they broadcast HBO for free.  While there were a couple of films we both enjoyed, and while the current high budget series; Rome, was outstanding, it wasn't enough to convince me to part with that much more per month to pick up HBO as a regular selection.  Still though, this film was fun to watch and I well recommend it.
Wedding Crashers
Wedding Crashers

I really despised the premise of this film.  The acting was fine.  The production values were fine.  The story was well developed and internally consistent.  The characters were appropriate for the story and the whole production came together well enough.  But I was truly disgusted by the film's primary "joke" and felt all the characters to be revolting.  There was not a single main character who was honorable or decent.  Every one of them lied, cheated or stole.  And most of them did so in the most hurtful, shallow, and unethical of ways.

The film is about two individuals, John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) who have stumbled upon a way to get as much sex as they can handle.  All they have to do is crash weddings and then prey upon the women there.  To do this they lie their way into those wedding ceremonies and receptions by creating whatever personae are most appropriate for the event.  In short order we see the two coming up with Irish accents to attend an Irish couple's wedding, donning yarmulkes to worm their way into a Jewish couple's wedding, or pretending to be the adopted sons of someone related to an Asian couple's wedding.  And it works every time.  They are extremely calculating in their charming behavior making sure to pick their prey early and then doing as many cute things (dancing with the little old ladies, doing balloon tricks for the kiddies) so as to attract the attention of that prey.  To secure their sexual conquests they apply any manner of sob story to endear themselves (war vet morning the loss of his fellow troops, "shattered man" morning the loss of his recently deceased wife, etc.,.)

I really despised that.  It'd be one thing to have worked their way into these events by being so damn charming as to be irresistible - but being that charming as themselves.  That would've meant there was no deceit involved and that these two did something honest to add to the events.  Instead, they lied and did so simply in order to get laid.  Then, once the sex was done, they disappeared as fast as they'd arrived.  They even had categories already defined in case their intended sex toys turned out to be more cloying and difficult to ditch than they wanted.

I know this was supposed to be a joke and that the movie did make it plain the characters ultimately recognized how pathetic their own actions were.  But that didn't stop them from continuing those actions.  Even at the very end of them film when everyone was supposed to have learned from their mistakes, found their true loves, and were heading off together with them, they still decided to crash yet another wedding in order to mooch off of its offerings.  This time though, they'd do it as a group and all lie about it together.

I find such behavior unredeemably disgusting and it was no small chore to sit through this entire film.  Had I not been with Julia, who was able to separate the film's message from its humor and was thus able to laugh at the jokes, I would've got up and left the theater.  This whole film celebrated the premise that "all men are pigs" and, as a man, I found that a personal affront.  This, much the same way as most Italian Americans find the Hollywood depiction of all Italians being mobsters, all blacks being ghetto gang bangers, all Jews being rich bankers, etc.,.  Truly repulsive and without merit.

And no, I do not recommend this film.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Wow!  This was a very funny movie!  Very nicely done and Johnny Depp was spot on as Willy Wonka.  I read the book as a child and was fearful that this second film incarnation of the tale would screw it up.  Plainly though, Tim Burton "got it" and got it good.  He did put his requisite dark spin on things but that was lightly and well applied.  Willy got to be a bit deeper thanks to Burton's touch and that worked well.  Charlie, played by Freddie Highmore, was perfect.  He well portrayed the "honest, good kid" of Charlie Bucket's character without getting sappy, unbelievable of annoying.  That can be a tough thing to do for so you an actor in so pivotal a point but he did it well.

The other child actors all were spot on in being truly obnoxious and annoying - just as their characters called for them to be.  I got a kick out of the Veruca Salt character as it just struck me that this was where the band got the inspiration for their name. 

Burton did update some of the details to keep the tale current but he kept those to a minimum and they neither interfered with the tale nor will they serve to date it in the future.  He made excellent use of computerized special effects to really bring Roald Dahl's vision to life.  Dahl is the creator of tale having penned it as a children's book back in the 1960's.  The first film version of it, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," came out in 1971 and had Gene Wilder as Willy.  That one was so good there was little hope anyone could do it better so the book languished for over three decades before anyone in Hollywood gave it a shot.  Given how quickly Hollywood has been recycling its own products, that it took this long before a remake of the '71 version finally got done is quite a testament to that release's excellence.

There is some adult humor in this, but it is of the Disney variety in that it goes straight over little kid's heads as they're too busy enjoying the rest of the show.  There was a suprising bit of casting involving Wonka's dad and that turned out to be spot on in every way.  It was nice to see how Burton did that.

All in all, this was another worthwhile bit of entertainment that did justice to its source material.  I highly recommend this one!
Bewitched
Bewitched

Nicely done.  A lot funnier than I expected.  Julia and I both liked this one.  The Ephrons (Delia and Nora) not only must love the original series but they are also smart enough to have realized a straight-up remake of it just wouldn't fly.  Too many dangers in that, as other remakes have sadly demonstrated.  Instead, they chose to make their film a "film within a film" by updating the setting to modern day Hollywood as it tries making a remake of the original series.  This way the Ephrons get to touch all the standards about how Hollywood has nothing original to produce while injecting enough modern spin to keep the story "current."  This worked well.

The sarcastic view of the current Hollywood world plays well with the rather vapid and cynical image the industry has developed for itself.  By having the sub-theme of the show having actually chosen a real witch to portray Samantha, the movie gets to go through all the bits that made the original series such a long lasting hit.  A very smart move on the Ephron's part and it plays well.

Nicole Kidman did a fine job of portraying the "witch trying to make it in the real world by playing the character of a witch in a TV series."  She pulled off the mix of being an all powerful witch who was also rather ignorant in the ways of the non-witch world.  Her character was well rendered and amusing.

This turned out to be one of the very few roles which I've actually enjoyed Will Ferrell's work.  I never liked his stuff on Saturday Night Live - with the exception of his George Bush impressions - and have managed to avoid all of his films to date.  In this role however, he seemed well suited for playing a obnoxious and repulsive boor who's also a failed actor.  Perhaps because he could find so much of himself in the role?  Perhaps.

Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine were perfectly cast and a joy to watch.  Especially MacLaine as she got to camp it up every time she was on screen.  The special effects, what there was of them, were nicely handled and didn't get in the way of the story.  All in all this was a good bit of entertainment and made for a fun night out at the movies.


Batman Begins
Batman Begins

We just saw this and I thought it was great - and far better than any of the other film versions which preceded it. The director, Christopher Nolan, got this one right. His vision was suitably dark but not over the top, as was Burton's.

Christian Bale was perfect. He was far more believable than Keaton, Kilmer or Clooney in the role. Keaton I never could take seriously as Batman and while Kilmer got the brooding part well enough he never got the threatening or anger filled part of this character. The less said about Clooney's time in the Bat Suit the better.

Bale had the anger, the fear, and the "physicality" which the others lacked. As has already been pointed out, he is also young enough to be more believable as a newly starting out Batman. I think it is also a nice ironic turn for this actor to now be playing Batman after having cut his teeth of playing the lead in "American Psycho." I'd guess he brought a lot of what he absorbed in that role to this one and it works quite well.

I also like how Nolan handled the Rachel Dawes character, played by Katie Holmes. She was not there simply as a decorative plot point nor as a passive “former childhood sweetheart” love interest for Bruce Wayne / Batman. This was especially brought home at the film’s end when she acknowledged who Batman was and who Bruce Wayne was – thus avoiding the standard “oh the pain of a superhero’s dual identity unrequited love” stereotypes. Nicely done, that.

The special effects in the film were there to support the storyline and not the other way around. That was very appreciated. I too like the "Tumbler" and wouldn't mind having one of those either. Insurance and gas mileage be damned! The explanation of how Batman got all his cool schwag was logical and went a long way to making the character more believable. Morgan Freeman was instrumental in this and his laid back gravitas is always a joy to watch on screen. Liam Neeson also brings his trademark gravitas (first “Kingdom of Heaven “ and now this) into play and made an excellent character for Bale/ Batman to play off of. Caine portrayed a far more effective and fleshed out “Alfred” in Wayne Manor than any before him and that too helped the whole ensemble. The supporting actors here were all top-draw talent as individuals and their individual skills came together well for the ensemble.

It's a shame that Burton didn't have it in himself to have done his Batman like this. I know he wanted to make Batman be a darker character but it seems that he took the TV series as his starting point and that meant it brought along too much camp and hokeyness to be taken with that way. Nolan seems to have learned all the right lessons from the "Dark Knight" view of the Batman character and world.

This one works quite well and the set up for sequels was very logically handled and done in such a way as to leave the audience yearning for the next installment. It's no surprise that this film is doing well at the box office for it's quality entertainment that makes excellent use of its source material, brings worthwhile additions to it, and is a very enjoyable way to spend the 141 minutes it runs.
Kingdom of Heaven
Kingdom of Heaven

Another excellent flick from the awesomely talented Ridley Scott.  This man's visual sense is outstanding and his storytelling and directing abilities are also well up to the task.  I'm not sure as to the historical veracity of this tale but it certainly does a good job capturing the look and feel of the times as they've been depicted in the histories of them that I've read.  Perhaps there's a bit of modern anti-Western revisionism here on Scott's hands as the Christians come off a bit the lesser in comparison to the Islamists but, all in all, this is a pretty balanced tale and much of the Christian's follies can be laid at the feet of traditional - and non-religious - failings such as material greed and a general lust for power.

Orlando Bloom plays the lead figure of Balian - who also happens to be a blacksmith (just like the character he played in "Pirates of the Caribbean")   One fine day, OK, one bitterly cold with snow blowing around day, the father he never knew, well played by Liam Neeson, drops in out of the blue and invites him to take his place in his feudal estate in Jerusalem.  Some quick fighting and bloodletting later, Bloom has made his trek across half the known world (at the time) and is soon in the thick of it.

The acting in all of this was first rate.  The characters were all pretty believable and well played.  The visuals were well thought out and, at times, stunning.  The action was consistent and very engaging.  In short, this made for a good film and a good bit of entertainment.
The Longest Yard
The Longest Yard

Not bad.  Not great but, as remakes go, not bad.  Adam Sandler actually did a performance which  I could sit through - and considering how little I like his stuff in general, this is saying something!  This film was simply an updated version of the old.  A little bit racier, a little bit spicier, but otherwise the same thing.  And that's fine.  The director of this one, Peter Segal, clearly "got it" when it comes to understanding what made the 1974 original one work and, to his credit, didn't mess with that.  Too many remake directors seem to believe that even though their movie is a remake of an original that they can do it better than that which inspired them to remake it in the first place.  And too many of those fools fail.  Not so here.  The laughs are well paced, the plot just as contrived but it holds up well enough, and the actors all pull off their roles well enough.  I can easily see another "The Longest Yard" being made some decades hence and, if the guy is still lucky enough to be breathing, I can also see Adam Sandler reprising Burt's role in this remake.  Sort of like the "never ending" joke or something.  Anyway, this one was not the greatest bit of cinemagraphic excellence but it was good entertainment for a Saturday night.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Well, as there was little else left showing in the theaters that we hadn't already seen, Julia and I decided to see this one on its third day of showing.  I was pleasantly surprised.  True, it wasn't as good as the very first Star Wars film (i.e. Episode IV - A New Hope) which came out way back in 1977, but then, given how groundbreaking that film was, not much really could be.  Nor was it as good as "The Empire Strikes Back" (Episode V)  which came out in '80.  But then, this latest Star Wars film was nowhere near as bad as the two which preceded it ("The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones.")  This one was tight, well paced, and had some feeling to it - which is something utterly lacking in the previous two.  It also served to nicely tie things together and set everything up for where that very first Star Wars film started.  This, just as a prequel should.  I enjoyed this one but I rather doubt I'd stand in line to see it again.
Unleashed
Unleashed

Another light bit of entertainment!  Seriously though, this was a good action flick.  Jet Li is showing that he's more than just a badly dubbed kung fu guy.  Bob Hoskins was outstanding as truly despicable man and Hoskins played him with relish!  The premise was a bit of a stretch but the actors and pacing made it all work.  The martial arts Li displayed were little like the oh-so-stylized fantasy fights of Hero or its ilk.  Instead, these were much more "from the street" fights.  Morgan Freeman lent his typical gravitas to help anchor things on the good guy's side.  This wasn't a great film but it was good entertainment and worth its ticket price.
Crash
Crash

Damn, this was one harsh flick.  There were no real heroes in this one but nor were there any real villains.  Just a lot of gray areas, a lot of desperation, and a lot of modern urban angst.  This film was not a light one by any means.  Although it does Los Angeles no credit, it is a tale that could be set in any modern city.  This was very riveting and definitely excellent entertainment.  The acting was first rate and there were enough twists and turns in the plot to keep it very, very real.  Not surprisingly, the director of this intense tale, Paul Haggis, was also the one who did "Million Dollar Baby."  This guy is on fire and he clearly has stories to tell.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

This was quite a romp.  Very funny and very well done.  Garth Jennings clearly loves the original Douglas Adams material as he did an excellent job of sticking to its spirit and its details as he adapted it to the big screen.  I've not read the book version of this but I do remember watching the old BBC mini-series version of it back in the 80's and this modern film version compares quite well to that.  The key to Adams' tale was all the zany asides contained within it.  The storyline, as such, was very much secondary to those asides.  That's very British in humor and rather difficult to capture on screen.  But Jennings did an very good job of it and even folks who'd never heard of "THE Guide..." found the movie enjoyable.
Kung Fu Hustle
Kung Fu Hustle

As I posted on the IMDB.com site
This was nicely done. It's a great send-up of, and homage to, all those "Chop Socky" films that have come from Asia and elsewhere. This was well produced, funny, and well paced.

The computer generated special effects were well enough done and just added to the over-the-top comedic nature of the whole affair. This movie does _not_ take itself seriously and that's a welcome change after the overly pretentious films like "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers." The actors in this flick all had a good time in their roles and were fun to watch.

All in all, this was a good bit of entertainment!
Sahara
Sahara

This was fun film.  Based on one of Clive Cussler's "Sahara" from his Dirk Pitt series, the film does a nice job of sifting out the best elements from the book whilst leaving out what would've been more distracting details.  Matthew McConaughey did an excellent job of portraying the ever-resourceful Dirk and Steve Zahn was excellent playing Dirk's sidekick / partner in adventure, Al Giordino.  The film hangs together nicely and is well paced.  Given how many Dirk Pitt novels Cussler has pushed out, there should be enough legs in the series to produce many more such films for McConaughey to show how laid back and coolly masculine he can be.  This was a good bit of entertainment that both Julia and I enjoyed.
Big Fish
Big Fish

Awesome.  This was a great tale and a tale told as only Tim Burton could tell it.  This whole experience could be described as a fantasy, as a realty, as a fantasy enhanced reality or as a reality enhanced fantasy.  It was also a great tale of lasting love, of maturity, of living the most out of the life you have to live, and of accepting the end of a well lived life.  Yeah, I cried in this one and it was well worth it.  Albert Finney was perfectly cast as being Ed Bloom (the "Big Fish" of this tale) in his last days while Ewan McGregor was absolutely stunning in his portrayal of Ed Bloom in his prime.  I was amazed at how well Ewan submerged himself into this role and there wasn't the slightest hint of his "The Pillow Book" role nor of his "Trainspotting" role and especially none of his "Star Wars" roles.
Men In Black: II
Men In Black II

This was an amusing bit of entertainment.  I'm glad I saw this on DVD and not paid full price to see it in the theater.  It was funnier than the reviews of it led me to believe but not much funnier.  It seems that the creators of this film simply decided to repeat and amplify as much of MIB: I as they could.  What made the first Men In Black so funny was that so much of it was so new and unique.  It perfectly lampooned the whole "X-Files" type conspiracies and frenzied tabloid tales genre.  That's a joke that'd be very difficult to tell twice without it coming in a poor second.  Tommy Lee Jones was his usual excellent self, even if the script only allowed him to get going after too long not doing so, and Will Smith played his usual "being a fool but being cool too" character.
Sin City
Sin City

Wow!  Another "adult" graphic novel (i.e. a comic book for us big kids) adapted to the silver screen.  And this is yet another excellent bit of entertainment.  Frank Miller has long had a very unique style when it comes to telling his tales graphically and it was quite eye catching to see how that style was translated to the screen from his page views.  The "Sin City" movie is a conglomeration of several individual Sin City comic book stories and the directors (yes, that's correct in its plural form as there's three of them on this flick: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino) did an excellent job of tying the different storylines together as well as keeping them nicely apart.  This is not a faint hearted film. 

It is a modern recounting of the classic film noire style and the heroes are all hard and hardened men.  Cold blooded killers the lot of them but they're killers with a deep sense of honor and of duty - even if they know that by doing "the right thing" they'll pay a price no man should ever have to pay!  Yeah, it's over the top and the violence is both gritty and stylized but it all worked quite nicely.  Bruce Willis was perfectly cast as the hardball cop, Mickey Rourke was glorious in his role - though his makeup job made him all but unrecognizable, and Frank Miller even managed to get himself a part in his own film.  It was a brief part and he wound up getting his brains blown out in it but, hey, it was worth it!

Julia and I liked this film.  It was good entertainment and it was wonderfully done.  The visualization was very unique with its ultra-high contrast black and whites with just the occasional touches of color to make a graphic point.  The men were tough, the women were beautiful, everyone had an angle, the bad guys were bad, the good guys were badder, and the action never ended... in Sin City!

One interesting thing to note about this is that both Rodriquez and Tarantino describe Frank Miller's comic book work as having been a major inspiration for them in their developing the visual style of their films.  So, in this one, both of those directors are getting to work with the man who inspired them and helped them achieve what they are today.  The result shows quite well on the screen and is well worth watching.
Death to Smoochy
Death to Smoochy

Edward Norton strikes again.  Damn, but this guy is good!  I liked this film.  It was humorous in a very dark and cynical way - and that appeals to me.  Robin Williams was his usual maniac self in his role as "Rainbow  Randolph."  That character also gave him room to play a truly nasty and unlikeable persona as well - just the thing you'd expect from a burnt out and bitter children's show host.  Norton was perfect as RR's replacement.  His role as "Smoochy" could've been played one dimensionally as that of William's foil.  To his credit, Norton fleshed it out and made his "Sheldon Mopes" character (the guy inside the Smoochy suit) actually believable.  Harvey Fierstein was a real gas in his role which was very much against type in casting. All in all this was a funny film that was a pleasure to watch.

Steamboy
Steamboy

Nicely done.  A good bit of anime entertainment that was worth its ticket price.  I liked how mid-18th century England was visualized in this alternate history / universe tale.  The "steam punk" elements made it a fun romp.  Some of the standard anime elements were a bit annoying (particularly the "Miss Scarlet" character) and that the film's setting was a bit on the dark side.  But, as a lot of its action took place indoors and inside what was essentially a huge boiler room, the dark visuals worked.
Porco Rosso
Porco Rosso

The Crimson Pig.  This is a rather offbeat bit of Japanese anime.  Set in the Adriatic of the 1920's, this is a tale about a pilot cursed to have a pig's face, about air pirates in their seaplanes, heroic daring do, spunky young female aeronautical engineers and romances that can not be.  In short, it's a fun ride.  The flying sequences are typical Miyazaki.  I first discovered this director's works when I saw a copy of the "Nausicaä" anime at a Boskone science fiction convention in the 80's.  That was brilliant stuff and this piece lives up to his rep.  Disney has just released a very well done DVD set of this film as well as two other Miyazaki works; Nausicaä and "The Cat Returns."  The dubbing was well and intelligently done and the production values are first rate.  Blockbuster does carry these titles but not in any great quantity.  So, if you're interested in quality Japanese anime (i.e. not that Pokemon crap) then this would be a good place to start.
The Matrix: Revolutions
The Matrix: Revolutions

Yeah, this came out back in '03 but Julia hadn't seen it yet so we just rented it.  I liked it when I first saw it in the theater and I still like it now.  There's a whole lot to it which really doesn't add up or is a bit too difficult to believe (humans as an energy source?) but as a whole, it hangs together very well.  One nice thing about the DVD is that it included a second disc full of interesting features and such.  That was fun to watch.
Eulogy
Eulogy

This was a pretty funny little flick.  I think it was a "direct to cable" film as I don't recall it making the rounds in the theaters.  The write-up describes it as a "black comedy" and it certainly is that.  However, it is well done and scathingly funny.  Rip Torn was perfect in his role as the dead guy who proved to be very much a "family man" - 'tho not quite what most folks would envision as such.  A good laugh out loud flick if your humor is a tad bent.
Constantine
Constantine

Nicely done.  Of late there's been a trend to adapt some of the more successful "graphic novels" (i.e. comic books for adults) into feature films.  Depending on the subject matter and who's at the helm directing the effort, this can yield some excellent results.  Spiderman and Hellboy come to mind here as being among the better efforts.  I think you can add Constantine to that list.  Not as big or as splashy as those two, this film is still spot on as being good entertainment.  Nothing mushy, no sex, and actually pretty adult.  This film was engrossing and worthwhile.  Keanu Reeves keeps making his rent money by well playing the tortured hero role and he was well up to par in this instance as well.

I liked how this film portrayed the Christian mythos conflict between Heaven and Hell.  You don't have to be Catholic to get into all of it but with some knowledge of that religion the details shown in the film are more recognizable and appreciated.  All in all, this was two hours well spent.
Be Cool
Be Cool

What a let down.  This film was funny, in parts, but there weren't enough of those parts to make the whole thing worthwhile.  I felt as if I were watching some truly bad example of what happens when some Hollywood hack gets a hold of someone else's script and then makes a ripoff version of it.  And this is a real shame because this film had a lot going for it.  John Travolta was back in his "Chili Palmer" role from the film which inspired this mess; "Get Shorty."  That film was funny.  Very funny.  You'd have thought that in ten years they'd have been able to come up with something that proudly showed its lineage and did honor to its roots while at the same time branching out into new and original (and funny) territory.  No such luck.

In this go 'round, the pacing of the film was too slow, the storyline too disjointed, the ensemble cast too unappealing, the plot too derivative, and the humor too stale.  The only truly fresh thing about this whole mess was The Rock (a.k.a. Dwayne Douglas Johnson) of WWF / WWE wrestling fame.  In "Be Cool" he played, of all things, a gay bodyguard and aspiring actor /singer.  This was perfect for him to lampoon his image as a testosterone driven action hero superstar and he pulled it off quite well.  Had we rented this film, then the Rock's performance would've been worth the $4 or $5 rental fee.  As we saw it in the theater, even the Rock's flaming wasn't enough to be worth it.
Million Dollar Baby
Million Dollar Baby

Damn.  This film was about the best I've seen in years.  The performances here were absolutely stunning and gut wrenching as well.  I had no idea of anything more about this film than its most basic details.  As a result, the experience was a surprise for both Julia and I.  We both well agreed that this film deserved ALL the accolades it has thus far received.  If anything, it deserves more.  Clint Eastwood once again demonstrates how much of a consummate professional story teller he really is.  That and a fine actor.  Hillary Swank was stunning and deserved what can now be a bookend.  Morgan Freeman also well deserved his Academy recognition.  This was not a light nor upbeat film.  It was however, excellent entertainment.
Bullshit
Bullshit!

Penn & Teller take on the lies, the myths, the fools, the liars, and the bullshitters in the world.  And the do a damn fine job of it too!  Julia and I have enjoyed the episodes of this we've rented from Blockbuster.  It's a Showtime series that is dedicated to dispelling the bullshit that's out there in the world.  Everything from how PETA is really a bunch of terrorists to how badly the funeral business rips people off to what a bunch of bullshit the whole "New Age" stuff is to what a travesty the "War On Drugs" really is to... well, you get the picture.  This is a very enlightening a funny series that is well worth seeing - be that either on Showtime directly or on DVD.
Ray
Ray

Awesome.  There are some films which get "Oscar buzz!" and you can't figure out why.  Then there are others where it is spot on.  This is one of those.  Jamie Foxx utterly defines himself for the rest of his days in this role.  The portrait he and this film create of Ray Robinson is stunning.  Not just for how accurately he mimics Ray but also for the plain and ugly truths about Ray's actions through the years which the film unflinchingly depicts.  This was all the more amazing to me because Ray Charles was deeply involved in this and had to have blessed it fully - all those ugly parts included - for it to have been made at all.  This film, and Foxx, is indeed superior and will garner more of those golden statuettes than the Aviator.
The Terminal
Terminal

"If you like Tom Hanks, you will love this movie."  Julia really likes Tom Hanks so, she liked this flick.  The story is based on a real person and is both a funny and sad tale.  Another heart felt movie.
Van Helsing
Van Helsing

Sucked.  The only good thing about the film was Hugh Jackman - and that was just the visual aspect.  The werewolf actor, Will Kemp, was also not hard on the eyes.  Aside from that, the clothes were about the most fun to look as even the special effects were pretty lame.  The plot was awful and the whole film was a pretty lousy mess.
Wicker Park
Wicker Park

A mystery film that keeps you guessing.  An "OK and enjoyable" film in the suspense/ mystery genre.  Josh Hartnett plays a man who is obsessed with finding his lost love, Lisa, and things get dangerous the more he feeds his obsession to find her.
The Notebook
The Notebook

Beautiful and a heart felt movie.  Very much a love story.  Julia really enjoyed this and from her description I can see why.  Tim Ivey did an excellent job in his first major role and Rachel McAdams, who plays Allie (Ivey's love) balanced things nicely.  Expect to see more good works from these two.
Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair

A costume drama, replete with English accents.  The costumes and the hair dos greatly impressed Julia.  Reese Witherspoon fit well in her role.  The film, all in all, was like a very well done soap opera in period costume.  "Just OK but not anything to write home about" was what she said.  A "chick flick" no doubt as well.  Interestingly enough, there's been at least ten previous big screen versions of this tale - including one from India - done over the years.
The Cooler
The Cooler

William H. Macy does it again.  Damn, but this guy is good!  In this film he plays another of his trademarked woe-and-begone utter and complete losers.  As Bernie Lootz, Macy is everything you'd expect a perpetual screw up who's only purpose in life is to bring bad luck to others.  This one was nicely done and well acted.  Alec Baldwin played the casino operator who pretends to be Bernie's pal whilst ruthlessly exploiting his "talent."  This was also another well done performance by Baldwin.  The film wasn't only funny but it also well captured the desperate and hopeless air that pervades a place like Las Vegas.
Master and Commander
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Nicely done!  Another rental here as I missed this one when it went through the theaters in '03.  This was a very well done "period piece" and went to great lengths to capture the essence of naval life circa 1805 or so.  Russell Crowe was in fine form here as Captain Jack Aubrey, the Master and Commander of His Majesty's Ship, Surprise.   Interestingly enough, that ship is actually the "Rose" in real life and it is docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.  Julia and I got a rather interesting account of how the Rose was gussied up as the Surprise in the film and who well that went over when we found ourselves taking in the "Parade of Lights" whilst aboard her this past Christmas season.

Ladykillers
Ladykillers

This was an amusing, if a trifle slow, film that Julia and I both enjoyed as a rental.  I think it might have been a bit much to sit through had we tried to see it in the theater.  Still though, Tom Hanks was in fine form as an overly educated common crook with a fiendish scheme.

Garden State
Garden State

This was another Blockbuster viewing and it was another "quirky comedy" along the lines of Napoleon Dynamite.  This time the film was a bit more approachable and describable to!  A funny and offbeat bit of humor, the film's story is about a young man, Andrew Largeman - played by Zach Braff who also wrote, directed and produced the film, who whilst coming home to attend his mother's funeral, finally decides to come out from under his decades long prescription drugged numbness.  It is a funny, and at times, scathing portrait of modern life.  It also makes for an excellent bit of viewing.  It was also interesting to see Natalie Portman in this film as she continues to emerge from the limits of her Star Wars debut character.
Elektra
Elektra

More eye candy.  This one is yet another film adaptation of a Marvel comic book character.  Excellent production values and a tight script made for an enjoyable film.  Jennifer Garner was very dynamic in her portrayal of the super skilled assassin.  The computerized special effects were well used in this one - particularly the various animal avatars which the "Tattoo" character manifested.  All in all, this was a good bit of action entertainment.  I expect this to have quite a few sequel legs to it.
The Aviator
The Aviator

This is a great flic.  I think it captured a lot of who Howard Hughes was and did so quite well.  I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was excellent in the title role.  He's come a very long way from his "Titanic" days.  He owes a lot of this to Scorsese.  The flight sequences in this film were wonderful and they really make me hunger for a good 1/72nd  H-1 racer to make as one of my kits!
Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead.

This was a very funny and very well done riff on Romero's classic "Dawn of the Dead."  Here, the emphasis is on the laughs and the film focuses on Shaun, played by Simon Pegg, who is not having one of his better days.  Waking up one morning, after being dumped by his girl, Shaun finds that
crazed flesh eating zombies have appeared all over his formerly dull English suburban landscape.

So, where does Shaun think to go to escape this dire threat?  Why, to his favorite pub, of course!  Things go downhill from there.  A very well thought out and nicely paced flick.  Highly recommended.
Troy


Troy

Well, it certainly was an epic.  Excellent production values and an all star cast certainly did help this one.  It brought ancient Greece to life pretty well.  At least the ancient Greece according to Wolfgang Petersen, the film's director.

Brad Pitt was very buff for this one and certainly earned his pay in playing the lead character.  This film was a good bit of entertainment but I'm glad I didn't pay to see it when it was playing in the theaters.  The Blockbuster DVD version suited me fine.
The Chronicles of Riddick
The Chronicles of Riddick

More sci-fi eye candy.  Vin Diesel certainly was a part of that!  Sure, the plot had some nice big holes in it and, sure, the storyline was pretty basic.  However, it was well done, moved along nicely, and it was fun to watch.  Good entertainment.  Especially as this was another Blockbuster DVD viewing.

Shrek 2
Shrek 2

Funny and well done.  Lots of good inside jokes and sight gags.  Good voice characterizations by all the cast.  A nicely done bit of computer animation and all.

Blade Trinity

Blade: Trinity

Wesley Snipes has really poured himself into this character and is earning a nice living from having done so.  Here once again he gets to show how he's cooler than cool and he certainly made this third installment a good one.

His help this time extended to more than just Kris Kristofferson reprising his crotchety old man routine.  The biggest new asset this time around was rendered by Ryan Reynolds.  Aside from being quite easy on the eyes, his comedic delivery was perfect and riffed off of Snipes icy persona perfectly.

No, it probably wasn't the best of the films but it certainly carried its weight.
Dodgeball
Dodgeball

Officially it's titled: "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" - no doubt to avoid any copyright problems with either of the other two Dodgeball movies, one from 2001 and one from 1995.


This was a well done stupid film.  Played for laughs straight through, I think this one would rate as a "stoner" flic.  Good for an easy night's entertainment.
The Last Samurai
The Last Samurai

Well, at least it wasn't as bad as "Dances With Wolves" was.

This was a major Tom Cruise vehicle film.  He got to show more of his "deep" side here in this lavishly produced costume piece.  The film was very one sided and made much of how spiritual and harmonious feudal Japan was.  It just wouldn't have been as dramatic to go into much more detail than that.  As a result, the film just wound up looking really, really nice but didn't have that much more depth.  I'm glad I caught this one on DVD and didn't have to fork over the theater price to see it.
Underworld
Underworld

No, this isn't a current year film.  I saw this via DVD and found it a rather stylish and hip adaptation of the old vampire mythos.  Kate Beckinsale looked rather nice as she vamped it up in her little latex and leather outfits.  Oddly enough, the character who played Raze turned out to be one Kevin Grevioux.  I used to sell comic books to him back when we were in DC in the 80's.  I recognized him from his deeper than deep voice and his rather huge stature.  It's nice to see how far he's come.  Other than that, the film seemed a tad slow and light on the storyline.  But it was nice to look at.
Alexander
Alexander

Can you say epic?  Yes, I thought you could!

At 175 minutes running time it is but a hair's breadth less than a three hour marathon movie session.  Lavishly produced and well acted the film was certainly captivating.  I think it could've used a heckuva lot more editing and it certainly could've been more historically accurate but, hey, it's an epic!  It's also a mystery to my why they cast Colin Farrell as The MAN but, hey, it's an epic!  I thought Val Kilmer was excellent playing his role of Kin Philip. 

Of course, this one rather tanked at the box office.  Stone has officially put the blame on all those homophobes who objected to the film's heavy gay content.  More realistically, the film tanked because it was overly long, not terribly engaging, and was poorly directed.  But, hey, it's an epic!
The Life Acquatic with Steve Zissou
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

A very funny, if very dry, film.  Bill Murray was at the top of his game in doing this one.  He has really worked at developing his "desperate, washed up, show boater with a heart of gold" character and he put it on with full force here.  There was a whole bunch of truly amusing scenes and characters in this one.  A bit of a sleeper and its dry humor is not for everyone but if you enjoy that sort of thing that this is a very funny film.
Napoleon Dynamite
Napoleon Dynamite

Damn, but this is one funny film.  Off the wall funny.  Dry funny.  Offbeat funny.  At times, even painful funny.  I'm absolutely mystified how this one got successfully pitched to any Hollywood producer.  It makes sense that it's an independent film but even then it must've been one heckuva sales job to get it a greenlight.  The film is one of those "a slice of life" in the life of a dorky and awkward teenager in an all too typical high school out in the middle of Idaho.  Yet, this is no "teen movie" and its comedy defies easy explanation.  The humor is wonderful though and I can see why this one is attracting the raves its has.
The Gangs of New York
The Gangs of New York

Yeah, I know, this one came out back in '02.  I finally got 'round to seeing it whilst Julia and I were at her son's house in Oklahoma City over Xmas this past year.  I'd missed the film due to some comments I'd heard about its historical accuracy and glorification of mob violence.  Well, those comments still stand.  The film did conflate a bunch of things and smooth over a bunch of other things.  I found its depiction of how life was back in the New York of the 1860's to be fascinating and that made it worth its rental fee all by itself. 
DiCaprio was excellent in his acting and that really surprised me.  This was a film well worth seeing.
Hero
Hero

Yawn.  Sorry, but I found this one rather dull.  Oh, it was pretty enough.  But the film dragged on forever and the acting was rather... staid.  And considering it was billed as an "action film" that's not a good thing.  The colors were great and the cinematography was wonderful but the film was too full of itself and was too unbelievable.  As vibrant as the colors in this film were the whole thing pales in comparison to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" from a few years back.  I saw this one in the theater when it first came out and it was almost dull enough for me to have wanted my money back. 
The Incredibles
The Incredibles

Nicely done.  Very smart.  Very funny.  Very hip and very retro too.  Lotsa great inside jokes, and no few homages to the superhero genre that inspired so many of today's graphic artists.  The look and feel of the film's setting was perfectly rendered in '60's ubber-cool minimalism.  The storyline was spot on and universal - not just confined to the hackneyed "Saturday morning's cartoon" limitations.  Craig Nelson was perfect as the voice of the "Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible" character.  Holly Hunter was also great as Helen Parr/Elastigirl.  I saw this one in the theater and will most likely pick it up once it's on DVD as well.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Wow!  What a ride!  Slam!  Bang!  Pow!  Zoom!  It's all there.  Just like all those classic action serials from back in the 30's and 40's, this film has it all.  Daring do, thrills, chills, suspense, action, super science, romance, exotic locals, eye popping visuals.  It's all there.  And it's all computer generated to!  This film may well go down in history as one of movie making's turning points.  Save but for what few things the actors actually touched, almost everything else shown in the film was computer generated and inserted into the image in post-production.  That was what originally got this film off the ground.  It's writer / director / creator / programmer, Kerry Conran, clearly has a love for the genre and stuffed as much of it (noire, science fiction, action, etc.,.) into hour and forty seven minute running time.  I saw this in the theater and will definitely be looking to pick up the DVD of it when that gets issued.  If nothing else, all those cool looking planes will be great grist for my model making efforts!
Shall We Dance
Shall We Dance

Chick flic?  Yeah, perhaps.  It was also a nice romantic film that played out quite well.  I was rather surprised at how well Susan Sarandon could fit herself into her role in this non-political film but that she did.  I was also pleased to see that both Gere's and Lopez's characters stayed true to themselves and did not dishonor themselves.  It would've been too cheap and too easy for there to have been an illicit affair storyline here but the writers did well by themselves in not stooping to that level.  I also liked the dance in the film and that is something which I definitely want to get into with my Julia.  Maybe not ballroom but definitely some sort of dancing.  I'll bet that this film has been a great shot in the arm for dance studios in ever city it's been shown in.
The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Supremacy

Very slick.  Nicely done.  And very watchable.  This is a continuation of the "Bourne Identity" from back in '02.  Matt Damon is just as effective in his role as the highly trained killer as he was in the original.  There's something very intriguing about seeing this otherwise very wholesome looking guy go around doing some rather unwholesome things and Damon carries that off well.  This is an action film through and through so some of its action scenes are a tad over the top.  In the first one it was the "falling down a four story stairwell and using the bad guy's corpse to cushion my fall" scene.  In this one it's the indestructible Moscow taxi cab.  But hey, it's all a good ride and well worth the price of the ticket to see it.
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Damn but this was a really stupid film.  Funny as hell but really, really stupid.  A "stoner" film through and through.  The premise was formulaic, the characters were paper deep, and the scenes were all as predictable as all get out.  However, it worked.  A good bit of light hearted entertainment and a nice bit of escapism.  I was surprised at seeing Neil Patrick Harris popping up in the film.  His role, as Neil Patrick Harris, was a real scream and quite apart from his "Doogie Howser, M.D." days.  I'm sure that's a welcome change for him and the film riffed off of that role quite nicely.  As I'm from Back East, I remember the White Castle stores.  I guess it's just a personal difference but what passed for a burger at White Castle is nothing I'd ever go on a road trip for!  Still though, this made for a fun film.
Bad Santa
Bad Santa

Julia and I caught this one on DVD and found it hilarious.  Just the perfect thing to answer all the excruciatingly forced "holiday cheer" that becomes inescapable almost as soon as Labor Day Weekend comes to a close.  I thought Billy Bob Thornton was perfect as the wretched and miserable Bad Santa.  In that role he got to say and do the things that many of us could only wish to come the Christmas Shopping Season.  This was a fun film and Julia and I enjoyed it immensely.
The Stepford Wives
The Stepford Wives

A fun and light film.  More of a vehicle for its top tier stars than anything of note.  As amusing as it was, I found it more than a bit disappointing in how the film chickened out in the end.  You could clearly see the plot holes the gave the lie to the change up.  I guess the producers or execs couldn't stomach their film ending anywhere near the original's.  But then, the first Stepford Wives was not intended as a comedy but as a modern horror story.  Back in '75, when the first Stepford Wives came out, that film served as a commentary on the changing gender roles of the day.  This modern rendition featured even stronger - almost hateful - women paired with even weaker men.  The modern spin lessened the bite of the tale especially in that its wives weren't actually replaced by the robots - just computer controlled and programmed.  This is also one of the major plot inconsistencies as it was made very clear through most of the film that the wives were replaced by robots.  This, from their "special" abilities (becoming a mobile ATM) to their inhuman qualities (sustaining horrible burns without injury or pain), etc.,.  For anyone who saw the original, this remake was a let down.
Hellboy
Hellboy

Excellent!  This was a great film.  Very well done and very well visualized.  The acting was spot on, the directing was tight, the production values were top notch, and the whole thing came together in a damn near flawless manner.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  I also thought that the Hellboy character was what Ron Perlman was born for.  He was perfect for it and seemed to have already long lived in every wrinkle and fold of the character even before the first day's shooting.  As good a ride as this film was it's hardly surprising to find there's now a sequel in the works.  I liked this film so much that not only did we see it in the theater but I also went out and bought the DVD for it as well.
Kill Bill Vol. 2

Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Kill Bill Vol. 2

Quentin Tarantino at his finest.  And at his bloodiest too.  At least these two films are not at his most foul mouthed.  Too much trench mouth gets tiring and distracting.  Both of these films made for great entertainment.  Quentin clearly loves the 70's and relishes all the wretched excess of that era.  No small part of that were all those kung foo movies that seemed to endlessly flow across the Pacific here to second run theaters and late night TV moviefests.  Quentin has taken all those films to a new level by injecting top flight actors and excellent production values into an otherwise cheesy genre.  Somehow, it works.  Bloody, crude, violent and nasty, but it works.

Uma Thurman, and Michael Madsen must worship the ground Tarantino walks on for it has been through his films that they've become as hot as they are today.  I'm sure that David Carradine and Daryl Hannah are also glad for the type of "comeback" role in these films that Tarantino handed John Travolta back in Pulp Fiction.
Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence
Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence

Anime.  High class anime.  This is state of the art anime and it's great stuff.  This film is a whopping bit of eye candy and was wonderful to dive in for.  At least for me.  If anime is your thing, then this latest from Mamoru Oshii is just the thing for you.  If anime isn't the the film is still excellent as it has a great plot, is well written, has believable characters (believable cyborgs characters that is) and makes for a great bit of sci-fi entertainment.  The first of these tales, "Ghost In The Shell" came out in '95 and ranks right up there with "Akira" as being among the best anime tales, ever.  Unlike these earlier ones, GITS2:I blends computer animation in with hand drawn art.  And unlike many other animated films which tried this, GITS2:I pulls it off well.


 

If you would like to learn more about me – just ask!   Drop me a line and we'll see what happens.  I can be reached
here at: madoc@madoc.us.

Until later then,

Madoc

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This page was last updated on: 21 March 2009