Thursday, May 31, 2007

The 2007 List (7)

  1. Zodiac
  2. The Lookout
  3. Grindhouse
  4. Breach
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
  6. Hot Fuzz
  7. Reign Over Me
  8. 300
  9. Black Snake Moan
  10. Spider-Man 3
  11. Smokin' Aces
  12. Shooter
  13. Blades of Glory
  14. Reno 911!: Miami
  15. The Condemned
  16. Ghost Rider
  17. Pathfinder

May is over so I have to update the ongoing list, but 2 movies? You suck Barone. And the fact that you saw Spider-Man and Pirates 3 times each is no excuse for only seeing 2 different movies in a month during the blockbuster season. Pick up the pace or there will be hell to pay.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

4. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Ever since NBC lost interest in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, so have I. When it was actually airing new episodes weekly, we are talking many moons ago, I think there was a chance I might have actually liked it. It was nowhere near my favorite show but it would have been nice if it were given the chance to grow. Grow into what? How in the world should I know but I am certain no one would be harmed if this existed instead of NCIS or One Tree Hill or Men Who Live in Trees or whatever the hell else I avoid like the plague. So it was full of itself and not really all that funny but what can I say it amused me. I liked enough of the actors and actresses to continue tuning in. That is really the only measuring stick I can use. As long as Matthew Perry, Steven Weber, and Nathan Corddry were entertaining me you would not have heard me complain. Still, now that NBC is burning of the remaining episodes I am finding it difficult to tune in.


5. Drive

So that was the reason Drive didn’t premiere until April? It was amusing enough but there were way too many characters that had their own arcs to pay attention to. Since it had such a large cast, there were some faces that I was happy to see get another chance mainly Nathan Fillion, Taryn Manning, Kevin Alejandro, Dylan Baker, and D’Angelo Barksdale’s mother. Still, the story wasn’t strong enough to hook me in every week. So I gave up after 3 episodes, then Fox followed my lead and shitcanned the whole thing. Can’t really judge whether it would have been any good but I can tell you that this is the first time I have thought about it since it was axed.

Barone in Front of the Television 2006-2007

Finally the television season is coming to a close. Although I am glad to no longer be a prisoner to the television schedule, I do want to indulge in my habit of listing shit. The problem is that The Shield and The Sopranos have not ended yet, so I am going to screw around before I start the countdown. There will be 15 shows that I watched and feel like reviewing. The time frame is any show that began in June of 2006 and will end by June 2007. I will explain the shows that I am leaving out as I go along. In order to kill time, I am going to start off with the 5 new shows that did not survive their first seasons but I still watched nearly every episode.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Pulp Fiction

If Reservoir Dogs introduced to the world what a Quentin Tarantino film would be, Pulp Fiction showed that he had the ability to make a damn near perfect one. This is one of the few movies whose impact never lessens. It is just as entertaining today as it was the first time that I saw it over a decade ago. The characters, the dialogue, the situations, all add up to one of the best movies I have ever seen.

Of all the things that Pulp Fiction will be remembered for, I hope the cementing of Samuel L. Jackson as the baddestass motherfucker on the planet is at the top of the list. All of his dialogue should be committed to memory and used in your day-to-day life. It’s all there for your study and I will not waste my time listing out scenes, although I do love me some lists. The interrogation scene to start the film is beyond a classic. I wish I were watching it right now instead of writing about it. But in that way lie madness and a never-ending cycle of incomplete work. Second only to the immortalizing of Sam Jack is the resurrection of John Travolta’s career. Whether or not you are happy about that is neither here nor there. He has some classic back and forth with Sam then combines that with the equally famous segment with Uma Thurman. I could go for some heroin right about now. It looks really appealing as a lifestyle choice. Can I get my own adrenaline shot to the heart? And would it truly be possible for Eric Stoltz to help prepare said needle? That would be sweet. Speaking of Uma, it always nice to see her in recommendable movies instead of some of the other films on her resume like Batman & Robin, The Avengers, or Paycheck. Let’s see there was a cementing, a resurrection, and there was also an introduction of Ving Rhames. He may have been working prior to Pulp Fiction but this was the movie that householded his name. Not only does he have the famous "medieval on your ass" line but the man is first seen on film through a shot of the back of his head, specifically the bandage on the back of his head, without ever revealing his face. Plus he sends the Wolf when there is something in need of cleaning. Man, I want to be able to send the Wolf. I do feel bad for Bruce Willis since he had to play many of his scenes against what was damn near close to a retarded girlfriend. Then again, that is counterbalanced with getting to gun down Travolta, run over Ving, and then slice people up with a samurai sword. Tarantino once again goes with his own unique storytelling narrative with intersecting chapters. Although nowadays I may have tired of this story telling format, in 1994 it seemed much more original. Each segment is strong in its own right but once all the characters are threaded through each story, the overall narrative becomes even stronger. In a career full of movies known for their dialogue, Pulp Fiction easily takes the gold star for the best QT written conversations. They are peppered throughout the film. Jules and Vincent in the car, Jules and Vincent at the dinner, Vincent and Mia at the restaurant, and definitely anything involving the Wolf. I wish these characters could have continuing adventures that revolve around them just talking to each other.

I wonder if there is anyone out there who actually dislikes Pulp Fiction. It is the 5th highest ranked movie on so I guess the dissidents should just give up by now. I was a fan of Reservoir Dogs but it was Pulp Fiction that convinced me to follow Tarantino until leads me off a cliff. A decade later and nothing has changed, I still anticipate his movies and still feel that Pulp Fiction is one of the best movies I will ever see.

10 out of 10

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Big. Dumb. Fun. When the alchemy is done just right with these three ingredients, not just gold but blockbuster gold is the outcome. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End pushes the limits of each ingredient, and of course I mean “dumb” in the best possible context, but still manages to deliver everything I was looking for. I love these characters and I love watching these actors and actresses have fun while acting so ridiculous for hours at a time. Add to that just how damn good these films look and I honestly have no real complaints.

This is about to get out of hand and I am going to do nothing to stop it. This rambling review is in honor of the creators of Pirates of the Caribbean since they are unwilling to leaving anything out, running time be thrice damned, I will do the same. Let’s start with the characters because damn near all of them are worth mentioning. As it stands right now, I do not know if there is a better movie character than Captain Jack Sparrow. The amount of effort, love, and insanity that Johnny Depp has poured into each performance might as well be legendary now. This time around the true madness of Jack Sparrow is fully revealed through him not only talking to multiple versions of himself but he also has little cartoon angel and devil Jack Sparrow’s on his shoulders. The nearly endless highlights include sailing a ship through the desert powered by crabs, his initial reactions to seeing Elizabeth, the who am I? moment, every and all exchanges with Barbossa, and every and all interactions with Davy Jones. Second up is Geoffrey Rush continually unsung Captain Barbossa. His absence in Dead Man’s Chest left a void and that debt was paid with interest this time around. His cartoon character interactions with Jack raise the level for both captains. Plus all the one-liners Barbossa had while at the helm were money. Moving along to Keira Knightley and well how can I complain when they went to such lengths in the series of films to make Elizabeth Swann a dominant heroine. She started off as a just a strong-willed girl getting into trouble but ends up as the Pirate King, that is quite a journey. In At World’s End Elizabeth’s first scene ends with her knife at a pirate’s throat, then has the great scene where she keeps revealing her concealed weapons, has all the moments relating to her leaving Jack to die, toe-to-toe with Chow Yun-Fat, Pirate King, Pirate King sandbar parlay, Pirate King hoisting the colors, and even though it doesn’t need mentioning she is real nice to look at. I even have praise for Orlando Bloom’s William Turner this time around. He may have started as Jack Sparrow’s straight man, but by the end his arc has nearly been as strong as Elizabeth’s. His scene with Davy Jones and Lord Beckett was fantastic especially with him morphing into Jack Sparrow while making the deal. Let’s try to keep it short from here on. Davy Jones is both a great Bill Nighy performance and still unbelievable CGI. Lord Beckett is just the right amount of arrogance. Tia Dalma is a truly original creation. Mr. Gibbs is perfect in the role of Jack’s most trusted friend. Chow Yun-Fat was underutilized but still made Sao Feng memorable with minimal screen-time. Kudos to the rest of the comedic help even the too cute animals, well, maybe not the animals.

Now that I have spent entirely too much time yakking about the acting folk, I want to talk about the movie itself. This was a thing of beauty. Whatever amount of money they spent was worth it because every dime was on the screen. I don’t know if there has been a better looking movie; the starlight waters, the waterfall, the Black Pearl sailing in the desert, up is down, shipwreck cove, the creation of the maelstrom, the entire battle in the maelstrom, and this doesn’t even take into account all the locations introduced with a fly-by, pure eye candy. I also have to mention the mood setting first scene with everyone going to the gallows and then singing a pirate song in unison. The power of that song was then continued throughout the film with it returning over and over again in many different forms. There was even the classic summer blockbuster scene with all the main players walking across the sandbar with everyone looking like a million bucks and totally badass. And finally I love the ending because it clearly concludes the William/Elizabeth and ancillary characters story while allowing for more Jack/Barbossa nonsense if Disney wants to print more money down the road.

Although after three outings there may have not been a perfect film in the bunch, I would definitely say that each one accomplished what a summer movie is supposed to accomplish … provide me with a good time. I do feel that the series has run its course, but if 5 years from now Johnny wants to don the dreadlocks again who am I to complain? There has been little decline in quality from the first film and At World’s End was a fine conclusion to the trilogy.

8 out of 10

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

So was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in any way necessary? No. Were there any questions left unanswered at the end of The Curse of the Black Pearl? No. And why was the movie made? I have no idea. But for once I’m glad that Hollywood decided to cash in instead of creating something new. I will not argue that this was an improvement over the first but it was still a fun time.

It is crazy to me that Captain Jack Sparrow became so popular that he was destined to return. Not only did he make a triumphant return, he had backup following a year later. It is obvious that this is the character that both Johnny Depp loves to play and is the character he will be remembered for when his acting career comes to an end. He is having way too much fun but who can blame him? Dead Man’s Chest is clearly a sequel to The Curse of the Black Pearl because it has the same positives and the same negative. The strong characters not named Jack Sparrow are just as strong this time around. Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth probably saw the most character development. And all of that development works to make Jack’s last line to her, “pirate”, actually carry some weight. The returning Norrington probably saw the most drastic change to start the film but it helps to actually give the man a purpose. Orlando Bloom does solid work again although this time around he gets aided by playing scenes against Stellan Skarsgard’s Bootstrap Bill. The big loss is no Captain Barbossa. And believe you me it is noticeable. This is made even worse by his return in the last scene showing you what was missing. The lack of Barbossa was tempered with the creation of Davy Jones. The combination of Bill Nighy and fantastic CGI delivered a damn impressive character. Something that is up there with Gollum as the best pure CGI characters of all-time. Another nice addition was Tia Dalma the crazy witch doctor speaking whatever dialect that was. Naomi Harris has come a long way from running from zombies in 28 Days Later. Now just like The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest is way too long. And instead excusing the length because all the characters needed introductions, this movie was too long because they just wanted as many action scenes as they could possibly fit it to one movie. It still didn’t really kill my enjoyment or have a lasting negative effect on the movie.

Although the second time around saw a bit of degradation, Dead Man’s Chest was still a helluva time. I wrote that I would be willing to watch Captain Jack Sparrow stagger around onscreen without ever tiring of his act and I still hold to that statement after the second movie. It may have been the classic bigger and grander sequel but Dead Man’s Chest proved that a good franchise could be mined from these characters.

8 out of 10

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

You know what would make a great movie? A film based on a theme park ride! Yeah that would be … what the hell? When I think back to the months of 2003 prior to the release of the film, I must have saw that damn trailer every weekend for 6 months and it was not building excitement. It was building annoyance. Then I sat in the movie theater on its release date and was completely blown away at how good it was. When these films show up, I have to reward them and this may be the best surprise I have seen in recent years.

And Captain Jack Sparrow has arrived. Sometimes you don’t know what you are missing until it shows up. Well we, the movie going public, were in need and Johnny Depp delivered. Enough words of praise have been spoken and/or written over his performance by now so I will keep it short. Are you kidding me? Where the hell did that come from? I could watch that character chew scenery a thousand times and it would never grow old. In fact I think I have watched it a hundred times by now and it has yet to grow old. The thing of it all is that Captain Jack Sparrow is nearly equaled by Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa. Whereas Depp crafted something uniquely his own, Rush plays the classic version of a pirate to perfection. The look, the walk, the speech, it is all there. Those two are the heavy hitters but everyone else makes significant contributions to the final product. Orlando Bloom plays the innocent hero and really what the hell else would you cast the man as? Keira Knightley, well, it is not in my power to ever speak ill of Mr. Knightley so she is perfect casting in my books. Commodore Norrington was a great foil for the three heroes so Jack Davenport must have been doing something right. As for Jonathan Pryce, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, and Kevin McNally they all keep appearing as the comic relief that keeps the story rolling. The story may not be the greatest tale of the high seas but it definitely contains the necessary twists and turns for a summer blockbuster. The only real criticism I have is that the length of the movie certainly crosses the line of comfort but it is a small price to pay for all the good stuff that shows up. Because of all the strong characters knocking around the screen you tend to forget that one of the big draws originally was the skeleton pirates. That is overlooked now but they looked great and the CGI was pretty seamless. The final fight between Jack and Barbossa was impressive when they would step in and out of the moonlight. It was just a great production that has not grown old.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl while not only having a ridiculous name was ridiculously better than it had any right to be. Johnny Depp needs the majority of the credit because his acting became instantly famous and even lead to an Oscar nomination which is just lunacy for a summer movie. Who knew? Who the hell knew that this was going to happen?

9 out of 10

Spider-Man 3

And so it goes. For the third time around there was an obvious decline in all phases. Not to the level of suck, but there is now a clear delineation between the great the Spider-Man movies, 1 and 2, and the rest of the chum. Maybe in time I will be able to accept the second act of Spider-Man 3, but at this moment in time I hate it more than anything I have ever hated in a previous Spider-Man movie. And it has just dragged down the whole film to a level I never expected it to fall.

I don’t want to sound like there was a complete lack good here. The Harry Osborn storyline was particularly strong. Yes I may be concentrating on massive head wound Harry with the brainless smile but can ya blame me? Topher Grace’s work as Eddie Brock, though annoyingly cut short, was also a highlight. I think it was his comedic timing that helped him deliver good work with such minimal screen-time. Later on I am going to attack the over abundance of CGI but first I need to mention some of the scenes where it delivered. The first couple of Sandman fights looked real good and contained some creative uses for Flint Marko’s abilities. Also the birth of the black suit and the birth of Venom both had that horror movie feel and conveyed the magnitude of what was taking place. And finally just like the second movie the Daily Bugle and Peter’s apartment lead to the best humor in the film. JJJ taking his pills and Evil Peter demanding cookies were just great stuff.

Now that we have moved on to the negative, I think I’ll start with the smaller issues first. 4 musical numbers? Really? I don’t care how small or innocuous some were, it is still 4 more than X2 or Batman Begins. Moving the hell along as fast as possible. Let’s turn to the aforementioned CGI. The problem with lots of CGI is that some of it will be lacking. Major sections of the first Goblin Jr. fight were so glaringly computer-generated that it screwed up my concentration. Snowboarding Goblin doesn’t help to sell the visual either. The final fight also had weak moments; monster Sandman was awful and the obvious switch to computer Spider-Man when he is slamming down the pipes hurt that moment. But we are not stopping at CGI. The Peter/Mary Jane relationship seemed force this time around. Since it was necessary for them to be in a bad place all sorts of melodrama was shoehorned just to give Peter reason to turn to the black suit. I do not want to even acknowledge evil haired, evil dancing Spider-Man. I hate that that section exists, well except for cookie demands I could have done with more cookie demands. And my biggest criticism falls to the split attention paid to Sandman and Venom. Instead of adding depth to the stronger Eddie Brock storyline, we get one weak scene with Marko’s family and then a bunch of fights over money. On top of that, we get a retcon of Uncle Ben’s death so that Flint could be there. That is the height of forcing the issue. See not only is Flint Marko a dangerous threat to Spider-Man, he killed his Uncle Ben! This time it’s personal. And the whole damn point was for Venom and Sandman to team up so Peter and Harry could put their problems behind them and fight together. They could have just shown that Venom was that strong. But instead, they never even established what Venom could do! His first fight in the movie is the final battle. How did Peter know he couldn’t handle Venom and Sandman together? For all he knew, Venom could have been a pushover. Outside of birth and Topher’s humor, the whole damn Venom experience was a big disappointment. Wait a second that doesn’t sound right, change that to the whole damn movie was a big disappointment.

What a kick in the groin. The first weekend in May bats lead off for the entire summer and to have such a weak fly out begin things has soured me for the entire summer. This all goes back to expectations and when you are dealing with a franchise of films it is impossible not to judge a film against its previous incarnations. So it is for that reason that I have damned Spider-Man 3. And you know what? I don’t want a Spider-Man 4; let this be the end of the series.

6 out of 10

Spider-Man 2

The second time was quite obviously the charm with the Spider-Man franchise. The second movie is head and shoulders better than the first one and the first one was damn good. Spider-Man the original put the ball on the tee and Spider-Man 2 proceeds to hit a home run. It is nice when things work out that way. With anticipation so high, both Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire exceed their previous work and may have crafted the greatest comic book movie of all time. Calm down, I said "may have" so I feel no need to defend that statement.

See how much better these movies are when it is not bogged down with introducing each and every character along with explaining how a man can climb walls and swings through the streets of NYC. That’s what the opening credits are for! The sequel captures important elements of Peter Parker that were not shown the first time around. Peter is constantly strapped for cash and it was nice to see him just try to stay afloat. His life is hard but he still puts on the costume because he is driven by the words of his uncle. All of that work makes the switch at middle of the story work that much better. Also all the scenes in his rundown apartment complex are nice pauses for comic relief. I still believe Ursula deserves her own spin-off. Peter’s relationships with Aunt May, Mary Jane, and Harry Osborn are all seamless continuations from the first movie. Nothing feels forced just to create drama for a new movie; Mary Jane’s confused feelings work, Harry’s journey into obsession work, and the revelations between Peter and Aunt May work. Since the Green Goblin is gone, Dr. Octopus is a worthy successor. Raimi has fun with the birth of Doc Ock, mainly finding creative ways to show each tentacle’s separate mind. Following the casting of Willem Dafoe with Alfred Molina was a genius choice. He is another actor that can ground such an extreme character so that his actions become believable and man that dude has metal arms connected to his back and I just used the word believable. In true sequel fashion, the action sections are bigger this time around. The train fight alone is much grander than what was done in the first film. Even if it does include the stupid de-masking in public scene; camera phone snap no more secret identity. Although there was nothing truly lacking in the film, the final scenes with Harry raise the entire thing to the next level. His reaction to Peter’s face underneath the mask, Peter demanding information instead of dealing with the revelation, and the whole final scene where Norman Osborn appears to Harry and the true nature of his Goblin father is revealed. All the work done by the actors inside the Daily Bugle also deserved to be mentioned. There are just some great moments at that newspaper. Check that, there are just some great moments throughout the movie.

Spider-Man 2 is such a fine piece of work that I don’t really feel the need to go on and on detailing why it is what it is. There is no debate here. The damn thing breaks the 90% mark on Rotten Tomatoes and that is usually Oscar territory. With the passing of time there could have been some degradation but that isn’t the case. A full recommendation then is still a full recommendation today.

10 out of 10


If I were to list all the comic book characters that I wanted to see transferred to the big screen Spider-Man would not have been at the top of the list. Yet once the movie was released it became the standard bearer for comic book franchises. The combination of Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire may not have been the flashiest names to put on the poster, but damn if they did not deliver. It would be nice to say that the first movie was flawless but alas it is not meant to be. Great is the best I can do for you.

The difficulties posed by the first movie for a comic book character is that the creators are faced with the problem of introduction. You know what that means? It’s origin time baby. Raimi does his best to be true to the power of the circumstances that turn Peter Parker into Spider-Man. It is all there; loving aunt and uncle, nerdy outcast, radioactive spider bite, creepy powers, fun at first, Uncle Ben dies, and finally great power comes great responsibility. My only nitpick is that all of this takes up the first half of the movie, so it takes that long before we have Peter Parker suited up as your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Still it was necessary and done well so no real complaints here. Once all the pieces are in place everything kicks into high gear. The Green Goblin was the perfect choice as the first villain. The insanity of the character is on full display and, of course, Willem Dafoe is always a great casting choice. The suit? Not so much. This brings up another one of the difficulties of transferring comics to the big screen; some of the characters just can’t look like they do on the page when played by a human being. The glider and pumpkin bombs were cool though. Now the Spider-Man type action, although I wish there was more, did work onscreen. Web swinging, wall crawling, Goblin-gliding, etc. were all believable. The only missing piece of what makes Spider-Man who he is was Peter Parker’s motor mouth during battle. This has always been a key aspect. He is a kid in over his head that cracks jokes to hide his fears. Still not really complaining here, I’ll live … maybe. There were no real weak links in the casting chain. Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, and JK Simmons all need to be credited And since it bears repeating, Tobey Maguire has to carry the movie on his shoulders and he carries the weight well.

Now for the couple negative points that stop this from being a perfect comic book movie. I wish they hadn’t used the Gwen Stacy death set-up just to create Mary Jane in peril story point. Not that it was wasted because it is a great scene in the comics or on the big screen. But if the time comes to do the Gwen Stacy story in the movies and having her die is the main reason to have her character well now you have to find just as powerful a way to kill her with Pete feeling culpable. Spider-Man also does one of my least favorite things in comic book movies; they kill the villain in the end. This just hamstrings future stories. Yes Norman Osborn was killed at one point in the comics but it was a after years of stories building up his relationship with Peter. And were does it get you for the movie franchise? Is Spider-Man ready for the power of Mysterio? Find out in Spider-Man 5! And to really pick at nits, both Eddie Brock and Dr. Connors are mentioned in throwaway lines that no longer make sense now that they have shown up in the sequels. Yes I just became Comic Book Guy deal with it.

Seeing as I saw this movie before I ever read an issue of Ultimate Spider-Man, it was a pleasant surprise to find out that I do like Spider-Man! Believe me that was the most shocking revelation from this whole movie experience. That is the power of a great movie. And off we go to what may go down as the most lucrative movie franchise of them all.

8 out of 10

Summer of Sequels

So I was planning to make this post weeks ago but then Spider-Man 3 was such a disappointment that I lost interest. Still I will soldier on even if it is a bit late. The plan for the rest of this summer is before I review the new movie is that I will review the rest of the series just to get an idea of the whole franchise. And yes the true reason for this is that I want to review Die Hard when the time comes so I have crafted an entire bullshit excuse about reviewing all these movies. But hey, a deal I make with myself is as valid as a deal I make with anyone else.

Off we go...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

First Act over the last 5 Years

I have decided to split the year in a 3 act structure. The First Act was January through April. The Second act will be May through August. The the Third and Final Act will be September through December. This should allow for similar movies to be grouped with each other, i.e. big summer won't be grouped with Oscar bait. Also since I have a thing for lists and stats, I will compare 2007 to the past 5 years to try to add a bit of perspective. Keep mind that for the foreign films I went by what IMDB listed as their US release date not the date I originally saw them even if it was in a theater in the middle of the fall. So here we go.

  1. Zodiac (9)
  2. The Lookout (9)
  3. Grindhouse (9)
  4. Breach (9)
  5. Hot Fuzz (8)
  6. Reign Over Me (8)
  7. 300 (8)
  8. Black Snake Moan (8)
  9. Smokin' Aces (6)
  10. Shooter (6)
  11. Blades of Glory (5)
  12. Reno 911!: Miami (5)
  13. The Condemned (5)
  14. Ghost Rider (4)
  15. Pathfinder (3)

Scoring Average: 6.80

Previous 5 Years


  1. Lady Vengeance (10)
  2. Hard Candy (10)
  3. Inside Man (9)
  4. Brick (9)
  5. V for Vendetta (8)
  6. Block Party (8)
  7. 16 Blocks (6)
  8. The Sentinel (6)
  9. Lucky Number Slevin (6)
  10. Freedomland (6)
  11. Silent Hill (5)
  12. Underworld: Evolution (5)
  13. Date Movie (1)
  14. Ultraviolet (1)

Scoring Average: 6.43


  1. Oldboy (10)
  2. Sin City (9)
  3. Constantine (7)
  4. Assault on Precinct 13 (7)
  5. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (7)
  6. Ong-Bak (7)
  7. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (6)
  8. Sahara (6)
  9. Hostage (6)
  10. Be Cool (5)
  11. xXx: State of the Union (5)
  12. Elecktra (3)

Scoring Average: 6.50


  1. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (10)
  2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (10)
  3. Hellboy (7)
  4. Man on Fire (7)
  5. Dawn of the Dead (7)
  6. Mean Girls (7)
  7. The Passion of the Christ (7)
  8. Hidalgo (6)
  9. Secret Window (6)
  10. Walking Tall (6)
  11. 50 First Dates (6)
  12. Starksy & Hutch (6)
  13. Jersey Girl (5)
  14. The Punisher (5)
  15. The Big Bounce (4)
  16. EuroTrip (4)

Scoring Average: 6.44


  1. Old School (8)
  2. Daredevil (7)
  3. Confidence (7)
  4. Phone Booth (7)
  5. The Hunted (6)
  6. The Recruit (6)
  7. Anger Management (5)
  8. Shanghai Knights (5)
  9. The Core (5)
  10. The Life of David Gale (5)
  11. Basic (4)
  12. Bulletproof Monk (3)
  13. Cradle 2 the Grave (3)
  14. National Security (2)
  15. Darkness (1)
  16. Biker Boyz (1)
  17. Identity (1)

Scoring Average: 4.47


  1. Panic Room (9)
  2. We Were Soldiers (8)
  3. Blade II (7)
  4. The Salton Sea (7)
  5. Resident Evil (5)
  6. The Scorpion King (5)
  7. Death to Smoochy (4)
  8. Big Trouble (3)
  9. State Property (2)

Scoring Average: 5.56

In the end 2007 easily has the best average so it gets to wear the crown and, man, The Condemned and Pathfinder really dragged down an average that could have been spectacular. But there is the lack of a 10 out of 10 film. 2006 and 2004 each had 2 by this point and 2005 had 1. Then again at this point in 2003, Old School was the best they could do. Really? 2003 also pulled a hat trick of 1's which is damn impressive.

All and all, it looks like we are in store for a great year.

The 2007 List (5)

  1. Zodiac
  2. The Lookout
  3. Grindhouse
  4. Breach
  5. Hot Fuzz
  6. Reign Over Me
  7. 300
  8. Black Snake Moan
  9. Smokin' Aces
  10. Shooter
  11. Blades of Glory
  12. Reno 911!: Miami
  13. The Condemned
  14. Ghost Rider
  15. Pathfinder
We are still in the midst of a great year but 2 of the last 3 movies I saw are 2 of the 3 worst movies I saw for the year. That has a way of hurting the overall product. Now the big guns enter the battle.

The Condemned

Why couldn’t The Condemned have happened right after Nash Bridges? Stone Cold was on the verge, man. He would ride that motorcycle with his funny helmet and beat people up side by side with the great Don Johnson. Sadly it looks like only the 15 people who watched Nash Bridges turned up for the movie. And I don’t think that’s fair, was The Condemned great? Oh hellllll no! But could it at least make more money than goddamned Pathfinder? Austin could kick Eomer's ass.

There was a great movie to be made here. Yeah, yeah, I am as shocked as you are that WWE Films came up with a damn decent idea like this one. It was just the execution that left a hell of a lot to be desired. I had hoped to see something along the lines of Battle Royale but instead of Japanese teenagers gutting each other, it would be Stone Cold Fricking Steve Austin opening cans of whoopass throughout the island. And that is my fault, I broke my own rule of not allowing myself to decide what I want the movie to be before I see the damn thing. The final product actually provided some halfway acceptable violence in pretty scenery. Also Austin was constant giving the bmf poses with the perfect angles to capture him on camera and Vinnie Jones cracked wise like Vinnie Jones is known to do. Not much more to recommend about the film unless you are familiar with wrestling, if that is the case then Vince McMahon has been recreated for you in the form of a morally bankrupt television producer. What? He is a man who is described as someone who could sell dirt to a ditch digger. What? That is right a character who takes no responsibility for the product he is pushing and blames the audience for watching. What? And he is the evil character who in the end puts over Stone Cold. What? Yeah that’s what I thought too.

I have grown to begrudging accept that there are just crops and crops of directors who believe fight scenes should be shot in the schizophrenic camera style with constant quick cuts and just a complete inability to follow what the hell is going on. Cause it is not like Austin spent 15 years in front of live cameras faking fights. As for Stone Cold, I love the man, but he just moves like a wrestler with some serious mileage. He is just hunched over and lumbering through the jungle. He needs to drop weight like The Rock if he is going to continue down this path. Those are just nitpicks; now for the two main faults of The Condemned. First a majority of characters exist just to die. There is no more than a cursory attempt to make us care for these people before they are slaughtered. If it is not Austin or Vinnie who cares they are just going to die anyways. And finally the movie has no right to soapbox us at the end. A movie can’t blow people up, light them on fire, impale them on pipes, rape the females, and your basic shoot holes through each other then take time to say that all this is on your head John Q Public. See what we have been reduced to? Oh will somebody please think of the children! There is some point to be made about the credibility of the messenger but damned if I can’t figure out what it is.

If The Condemned is the end of WWE Films, I guess that is as it should be. Still, it was not as horrible as the box office has made it out to be. I have seen so much worse in my life that this doesn’t even rate an honorable mention on that list. Plus Austin should make a play at a career without attachments to WWE. He can work as a action star if he gets the right work. The Condemned was not the right work.

5 out of 10

Hot Fuzz

It is nice to know that there are people out there who feel the same as me about the action movie genre. The love that Hot Fuzz clearly has for each and every cheesy yet awesome action cliché was on display for a full two hours. Of course the same points could have been made in a Scary Movie-type spoof but those movies suck. Hot Fuzz is able to make their jokes while still crafting a top of the line, well lets not go that far, action flick.

I was confident walking into the theater that this would deliver mainly because I am not even a fan of zombie movies but Shaun of the Dead was still fantastic. This time around Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg turn their talents towards my favorite genre. So we are treated to an abundance of slow motion, melodramatic camera angles, quick cuts, overextended action sequences, and more stuff than I can remember to list at this moment. Plus they come right out and highlight Bad Boys II as not only an inspiration but as a fricking plot point. It is a beautiful thing to know that that piece of trash is universally accepted as the pinnacle of over-the-top action trash. Add to that the constant aping of Michael Bay’s camera techniques and well … is there anyone left who defends Michael Bay? All the evidence is here for the world to see and in my eyes that man has been found guilty of all charges. Time to get back to Hot Fuzz or I will be here for the foreseeable future just trashing Bay. But don’t you worry be back in two months for Transformers and I can resume what I started here. Now how about that casting of Timothy Dalton? It’s always nice to see a former Bond pop his head up although it would have been nice to see Roger Moore. I guess you can’t win every battle. And Dalton is not the only classy Brit who shows up; add Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Bill Nighy, Steve Coogan, and Martin Freeman to that list. Still they are all there to support the antics of Pegg and Nick Frost, and believe me there are lots of shenanigans taking place. Frost may be playing a version of the same character he played in Shaun of the Dead but his timing is perfect as Pegg’s clueless partner. And I think the visual of Simon Pegg armed to the teeth with two shotguns in his backpack riding a horse into town is just a thing of beauty. In fact I can’t wait to watch the final ridiculous action sequences over and over on DVD; they made the only negative of the film, the slow build-up, worthwhile. The batting average for the jokes is amazingly high but there are just so many of them before the story climaxes that you start to get antsy. But every once and awhile a decapitation or gory death is thrown in to keep me involved. And yes I am always pleased to be gifted with some gore.

Is Hot Fuzz the type of movie that everyone can enjoy probably, but it definitely helps to have seen all the movies that are name dropped throughout. Come on! The characters talk about Point Break and then the movie goes so far as to recreate a scene from the movie. That is just sweet. It may not be the best movie of the year but it was easily worth the price of admission even if that price is now well past to point of sanity.

8 out of 10