Monday, June 2, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Well, that could have been much worse. As a franchise, I’ve never held Indiana Jones at all that high a level. I mean there are only 3 movies and one of them is the extremely flawed Temple of Doom. So when it came time for Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, all I wanted was a fun time. And hey that’s what it delivered.

It was nice to see the band back together for one more turn. This is one of the greatest roles in the history of film and Harrison Ford slips back into the fedora like no time has paced. Well, lots of time has passed but Indiana has never been a superhero so watching a man in his mid-60s fumble around and save the day is not that difficult to believe. Plus it is just awesome to hear Harrison deliver all of these lines in that weary seen it all voice. The return of Karen Allen was a big positive. She was always the best of the Indiana Jones females and the chemistry is still there between the two of them. On the other hand, Cate Blanchett is always awesome. This may be her first go around in a big ole summer flick, but she was a great villain. Maybe it was just the fun accent and the use of the sword. Who knows? John Hurt was fantastic in another one of his crazy ass character roles. You need an older actor to play wacked out of his skull? Find John Hurt. I didn’t even have any real beef with Shia LaBeouf; I have no real interest in seeing him take over the franchise but that doesn’t have anything to do with Crystal Skull.

Sadly, there was noticeable CGI creep in this installment. The past films have attempted to film as much as possible in camera. And that works for this type of movie. This is supposed to look and feel like something that was filmed over 50 years ago. Although it was all good work and never came off cheap, did we really need CGI gophers, Shia swinging like Tarzan, inter-dimensional gateways, just overall fricking aliens. I will freely admit that the shot of Indiana standing in the middle of a sandstorm with the mushroom cloud in the background was amazing. The inclusion of Ray Winstone’s Mac also irked me because it begged to be a character that we had already seen. The double/triple agent stuff would have worked better if we had seen their supposed history together. Or maybe I just miss Sallah.

Hopefully, The Dark Knight can find the middle ground in between Iron Man and Indiana Jones. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did not disappoint me but I still have room in my heart for another nearly perfect summer movie. Then again they made a 4th Indiana Jones film nearly 2 decades after the 3rd one. I am thankful for that.

8 out of 10

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

I hope the poor positioning of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian does not stop them from filming the rest of the series. Whoever thought there was money to be made sandwiched between Iron Man and Indiana Jones better have lost their job. It is disappointing to know that the vastly superior movie will end up making significantly less money than the original.

Although I am always in favor of darker more realistic movies, I found it hilarious that Prince Caspian took this so seriously. The movie was practically filmed in perpetually darkness. There were a grand total of 2 scenes that included any significant bright colors. The entire first scene was barely visible. It was perfect. I wouldn’t call the content adult but at the same time it was less about look at all the cute animals and wow they talk, and more about them mythical creatures are about to kick some ass. They even moved past some of the childish elements of the kids this time around. Maybe next time we can actually get a PG-13 rating.

After the first movie, none of the 4 kids left any sort of impression on me. This time around each of them were given their own time to shine. They were able to make the Peter/Miraz swordfight worthwhile even though it was a 16 year-old dueling with a 50 year-old. In fact it was very well done. As for Edmund, I have never read the books but I hope one of them allows him to take front stage. He gets a bunch of great lines, the High King bit, its his sword skills that prove their identity Trumpkin, and he gets to defeat the White Witch. Susan is the archer so she gets multiple scenes to look like a complete badass. Archery has the ability to look amazing in movies, so much so that I would actually look forward to Green Arrow or Hawkeye film. Lucy is still a kid so she gets all the cute moments but even still she was never grating and gets her moment in the sun standing alone on the bridge facing off against the whole army. They were the highlights of the movie. After them, you have Eddie Izzard who was amusing as the Mouse Knight but that’s just voice over work. Peter Dinklage also brought some weight to Goblin Trumpkin but ever since In Bruges all I hear when midgets are on screen are “they’re filming midgets!” That is not helpful. And are you really going to complain when you get to watch centaurs and minotaurs?

The actor playing Prince Caspian was the weak link of the movie. I thought Ben Barnes was decent in Stardust, but this time around he is forgettable. In fact, the whole Caspian/evil humans in Narnia angle weren’t that strong. The palace intrigue was very basic. And the final turn during the duel was funny instead of shocking. “TREACHERY!” Also the similarities to the Lord the Rings, fighting trees, Helm’s Deep type battle, were amusing, nothing to kill the movie though. There were just a bunch of minor annoyances throughout the movie.

I highly doubt that The Chronicles of Narnia will ever become one of my favorite film franchises. Still, Prince Caspian was a fun time and I do look forward to any future chapters. Hopefully starring Edmund and is minotaur buddy.

7 out of 10

Speed Racer

Speed Racer was somehow able to accomplish being a pleasant surprise while still being a bad movie. My level of expectation was at such a low point that I thought I may be walking into one of the worst movies that I will have ever seen. Live action Speed Racer, the Wachowskis going PG rated, the seizure causing trailer, there was nothing to look forward to. Yet Speed Racer was almost a fun time, if completely indecipherable during the races while destroying my ability to see properly for at least a week after the credits rolled.

What the hell was that? I understand that this is based on a cartoon but why did that mean psychedelic flashing lights going really fast? The racing did not make a bit of sense. I couldn’t follow anything onscreen. Then to make matters worse there were all these wacky obstacles on the courses that did nothing but make me scratch my head. In the end it became some sort of pinball machine with cars. Wheeee!

One of the really hilarious parts of Speed Racer was that the storyline was this very adult corporate espionage plot in a movie geared towards 8 year olds. Illegal backroom deals, fixed races to gain corporate contracts, assassination, these are the things all kids see when they sleep. Still, how bout them crazy costumes and pretty colors!

If I were looking to praise anything, it would be the casting choices. Emile Hirsch built up a reservoir of goodwill after Into the Wild, so if this is what he chooses to make then I support him. Hopefully his next choice will not be another waste of time. It is damn near impossible for Christina Ricci not to be painfully cute in every role. Well maybe not Black Snake Moan, there was nothing cute about that. Who doesn’t like John Goodman? I do hope that after 2 more seasons of Lost, Matthew Fox can continue to get roles in big movies like this. Then again after Speed Racer, who knows.

I'm fairly certain this could have been worse but since I could care less about Speed Racer as a franchise, I have no ill will towards this movie. It wasn't good, probably hurt some careers, and generally was a waste of time, but hey it won't be the last movie I see that fills those requirements.

5 out of 5

Iron Man

I’m not burying the lead; Iron Man is getting a perfect score. By the end of the year there may be another film that I place ahead of it, but for the here and now I will be completely satisfied if Iron Man is the best movie released in all of 2008. The expectations that I build up in my mind for summer blockbusters are completely unfair and yet Iron Man delivered on each and every one of them.

This is so much more fun when I get to be negative. But there’s nothing to complain about here. Why is the world so cruel! The storyline was tight; it was able to balance the origin story with the need for a big summer climatic confrontation. Though to be completely honest with you, if I had my wishes the sequel would actually be a prequel about the rise of Tony Stark. The beginning of this movie was so strong that I just wanted more of Tony in cruise control. The drinking, the whoring, the bantering with his friends, the stipper pole on the company plane, Tony Stark rules. Actually to be more specific Robert Downey Jr rules. All of this has been in comic book pages for decades, but it was Downey who brought it perfectly to screen. There was no better man to portray Stark's eccentricities. There is not enough praise to give the man.

10 years ago, if I had to list the comic book characters that would end up looking the best on the big screen, Iron Man would not have been at the top of the list. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to make a man in a futuristic suit of armor look completely legit on film. What they were able to accomplish here completely blew my mind. You see Stark building it piece by piece so when it is completed it looks like something that could be worn by a person. Of course it would be too heavy to move in, but that is where the magical arclight power source saves the day. Comics always have an answer. It got even better once the armor was in action. The flying was sweet, the repulsors looked good, all the weapons on board were fun, and it was even believable when Iron Man was going hand-to-hand. I want my own giant robot suit.

Although nobody was even in Downey’s atmosphere, the rest of Iron Man was cast to perfection. Terrence Howard as James Rhodes and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts are both ridiculous cases of overcastting. I appreciate them bringing class and skill to these parts but it is still funny to seem them show up in a secondary role for a summer popcorn flick. Jeff Bridges was having too much fun as Obadiah Stane. He wore those crazy outfits and shiny bald head with pride. As for Sam showing up after the credits, I think I blacked out for a few minutes after that. If going forward he pops up as Nick Fury in all Marvel movies, best news ever.

I can't wait to own Iron Man on DVD so I can watch it over and over again. Who knew Jon Favreau had this in him? What a pleasant surprise. If this is the beginning of a string of movies building the Marvel universe. good times lay ahead.

10 out of 10

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The 2008 List

  1. In Bruges
  2. The Bank Job
  3. The Forbidden Kingdom
  4. Cloverfield
  5. Street Kings
  6. Semi-Pro
  7. Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
  8. Vantage Point
  9. Jumper
  10. Rambo

10,000. 10,000 B.C.

Sorry, there are just some movies that I cannot put in the top 10 even if I have seen less than 10 movies. I'm fairly certain that as time goes on I will actually see good movies again. It is scary right now but hopefully Iron Man rights this sinking ship of a year.

I may not do this at the end of each month. I'm think of waiting until the end of summer so I can have time to digest all of the blockbuster before I start throwing around rankings. We'll see how it goes.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Did you enjoy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle? Do you want to see the same exact movie again? Yes?!?! Really? Well now you have Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay giving you the opportunity to see the different versions of jokes that may or may not have been funny the first time around. Hooray!

Remember when those 2 hot chicks were taking a crap in the first movie? Well the first joke of this movie is Kumar on the toilet. See the funny? How about Christopher Meloni’s crazy bastard in the first movie this time around not only does Meloni return as a Klan member but we also have Harold & Kumar staying with a wacky redneck family with an inbred child. See how they twisted that around? Of course Doogie shows up again and does the same exact thing, but that’s still good so I’m not complaining. There just wasn’t much originality here.

There were still enough jokes that hit that I can’t get too annoyed. The image of Harold in college with the Flock of Seagulls haircut was enough for the price of admission. They even made a Sloth reference during the scene with the inbred cyclops, which made my day. And as I already mentioned, all of the Neil Patrick Harris stuff was great. Especially when he was tripping on shrooms. Last of all, I have no idea how they pulled it off but the scene with George Bush impersonator didn’t suck. For the second movie in a row, there needed to be more David Krumholtz and Eddie Kaye Thomas. Maybe one day.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay could have been awful, and at times it was, but there was just enough here to keep me amused. Barely. Man 2008 is just sucking the life out me.

5 out of 10

Street Kings

Maybe if the first few months of the year hadn’t been so godawful I would have shit all over Street Kings. But since 2008 has been complete ass, I actually enjoyed Street Kings in some sick perverse way. It is derivative and full of itself, but what the hell it had Forest and House playing well below their pay-grade and fun people like Common and Jay Mohr just popping up.

Its funny that this movie is looked at negatively because it is similar to Training Day. The director, David Ayer, wrote freaking Training Day. So Street Kings is just like it except much much worse in every conceivable fashion. There was not a single improvement made on the original. You can’t swap Denzel for Keanu and Ethan Hawke for Chris Evans; that is highway robbery. Then again the story does veer off in enough different directions that it is not a complete rip-off. Forest and Hugh Laurie’s characters alter the storyline enough and Keanu is not as bad a man as Denzel so there you go. It was hilarious how the ending made it seem like there are more stories to tell in the Street Kings universe. Really? Why? What did I do wrong?

The casting of this movie is what sold it for me. I may have low expectation for Keanu Reeves, but that doesn’t stop me from paying to see his movies. The man has been 25 years old for the last 2 decades. He is completely unbelievable as some war worn vet cop who has seen too much. Let alone showing some youngster the ropes. I’m a little worried about Forrest Whitaker since he seems too comfortable pulling out the Idi Amin performance when he feels its time to go over the top. Hopefully this doesn’t become his Pacino-like acting choice. Captain House?! That was brilliant. I demand more Hugh Laurie and his American accent. And how is that the least gangsta rapper of all-time, Common, keeps getting cast in the thug role? This seems to go against his entire rap career. Was this the greatest Cedric the Entertainer performance? I say yes. Was that really Jay Mohr? What happened? Why the porn mustache? These questions are why I don't hate Street Kings.

The entirety of Street Kings can be summed up with Terry Crews getting unloaded on point blank with semi-automatics for about 30 seconds, yet there are only a handful of bullet wounds. As long as stopped thinking it went fine.

5 out of 10

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom

If I took movies all that seriously, The Forbidden Kingdom would have terrified me since the moment I heard about it. Me like Jackie Chan movies and me like Jet Li movies, so putting the 2 of them together in a story based in the martial world would seem to be a perfect marriage. Even if they are passed their primes. Then you slap me upside the head with written by Hollywood screenwriter and directed by a Hollywood director known for the Stuart Little series. And in the end, that is exactly what the final product was, a mixture of greatness and awfulness all thrown together making me feel weird and unsatisfied.

We’ll start with the good because I did honestly enjoy The Forbidden Kingdom even though I will spend some time ripping it apart. There are 5 highlights, the Monkey King vs. the Jade Warlord, the fight in the teahouse, the fight in the temple, the fight in the field, and the final showdown. Did you sense the pattern? Because the math is pretty simple here, when Yuen Woo-ping took over as action director this movie shined. It wasn’t even dependent on Chan and Li. Everyone looked good; even the annoying white kid. That being said; obviously the best fight scene is when Jackie Chan and Jet Li square off after 3 decades circling each other. Thankfully, they were given an extended scene so nothing was rushed. It damn near fulfilled whatever expectations I had when I think of Drunken Master Jackie Chan against Once Upon a Time in China Jet Li. No real complaints. Plus the Monkey King’s magical weapon was a staff, which is my favorite martial arts weapon, so the kung fu sections were planted squarely on my good side.

I really want to list everything that annoyed me about The Forbidden Kingdom but I know that there is one thing I will not be able to get past. You'll see. First off is the useless and annoying beginning and ending scenes set in today’s “Boston”. There is nothing worthwhile here. It was all an excuse to shoehorn an American as the star which in turn handicaps the entire film. The less said about the street toughs with the cartoon Brooklyn accents in Boston the better. Once the story moves to China, things improve due to massive amounts of fighting not because of anything else. You have the female character that speaks in the third person for no damn reason whatsoever. The Jade Warlord and his army all wearing massive amounts of eyeliner. The witch born of wolves is Sindel from Mortal Kombat. The Monkey King is too damn goofy to take seriously which is a problem since all of his fights are crucial to the story. Jet Li pisses on Jackie Chan. We're done here.

I've seen enough kung fu films to not dismiss films because they are goofy. Hong Kong flicks are filled with movies that start off great then start throwing curveballs at you until you throw up your hands and accept it. Because of this training, I was able to completely enjoy The Forbidden Kingdom even with some damn near fatal flaws. The action was just too good to ignore. And in the end that is all I was looking for.

7 out of 10

The Bank Job

In a shocking turn of events, I have a decent movie to review here. Until 2008 turns the corner, I will continue to mention how shocked I am when I actually enjoy the movie I saw. Don't get me wrong, The Bank Job will not even end up in my top 20 when the year is done. But for this time of year it was completely entertaining and I can't ask for more than that.

It has been 10 years since Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and 8 years since Snatch and that is exactly how long it’s been since Jason Statham has starred in a movie as good as The Bank Job. He excels in these British gangster-style movies but when he ventures out into action movie-land you end up with The Transporter and Crank. Which have both become franchises, so god help us all. Statham is at his best when he is scrambling to make money or save his ass or both at the same time. The Bank Job starts with him down on his luck, then he and his crew rob a bank’s safe deposit boxes, which leads to them having dangerous information that puts their lives in jeopardy, and then he finally schemes to keep the money and his life. That right there is Statham’s wheelhouse. Which is why this movie works as well as it does.

Although The Bank Job is not as funny as the other movies I mentioned, it still has the 70s settings and the always confusing British slang. That is where most of the humor comes from, while the rest of the movie is straight up heist flick. Nothing new, but at the same time nothing obvious. It was nice to not predict each step of the story. And it was nice to see Saffron Burrows not get eaten by a shark.

It has been awhile since I saw The Bank Job and my lack of stuff to talk about just highlights how basic the movie really was. I know I enjoyed it but I just haven't thought about it in over a month. So let's chalk this up as the best lukewarm recommendation I can write.

7 out of 10

10,000 B.C.

We are just piling on contenders for piece of shit movie of 2008. This time around I get to piss on 10,000 B.C. and believe me it deserves it. This was an awful movie. There is absolutely nothing to recommend and to preserve my sanity this will be over as soon as possible.

The fact that 10,000 B.C. was awful shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. After seeing woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers in the trailer, what else was there to look forward to? And since I’m no longer 6 years old, seeing computer generated mammoths and sabertoothes a second time is not enough. The addition of crazy raptor-like chickens did not help. The extinct creatures were one of the main selling points but all of those scenes were disappointing. The mammoths always looked fake, the tiger scene was horrendous because the main character becomes Ka-Zar and is able to communicate with the sabretooth who may or may not be Zabu, and I think crazy fighting chickens speaks for itself. On top of weak creatures, there was no believability with the human characters. This reminded me of Pathfinder where the idea seems to be throw some animal skins on them and bam you have been transported back in time. As for the story, well, it was just by the numbers hero faces many challenges to save his love. Of course there are heroic sacrifices, the classic winning the respect of the doubters, and even some mwahahahing villains. Complete trash.

I'm done. Screw 10,000 B.C. It didn't even do me the favor of being so bad that is becomes memorable trash. I never want to see or talk about this movie again.

2 out of 10

Sunday, April 13, 2008

In Bruges

Oh my god! I actually saw a good movie in 2008! I didn’t think it was going to happen. There were times where I thought the era of movies had passed. Thankfully I was one of the 6 people who saw In Bruges and my fear for the movie making industry was eased for the moment. You give me a great story with great performances and actual funny dialogue then I will be completely satisfied.

If I had to places In Bruges in a category, I would say that is similar to the movies like Snatch and Layer Cake. There is a dark story being told, but it is impossible to take any of the characters seriously. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are killers but watching them bicker over how to spend their day keeps the movie from becoming grim. And it just wasn’t possible for things to get too dark with Farrell constantly talking about midgets throughout the movie. And if that wasn’t enough once Ralph Fienes was introduced as the real villain instead of bring too much menace, Ralph is just completely over-the-top with his barely controlled rage. Everything comes to a violent conclusion but since the midget comes into play even that isn’t as serious as it could have been.

The three leads on this movie all delivered. When it comes down to it, In Bruges is my favorite Colin Farrell performance so far. I am still a big fan of his Bullseye and he has been in a bunch of big flashy movies, but he was understated and hilarious throughout this film. It is his story being told and he gets most of the best moments, filming midgets, making fun of fat people, beating up neo-nazis, confusing a Canadian for an American, it all works. I’m not sure if Brendan Gleeson has ever not delivered, okay fine he was in Lake Placid but I think we can all agree that Lake Placid is completely awesome. Gleeson is a perfect foil to Farrell and even gets a nice arc for his own character. As for Ralph Fiennes, I’m not sure what to say. He is all over the place in all of his scenes. He seems to be all rage but by the end you find out that he is living by a moral code even while killing all the people in his way. I was excited to see that Fleur Delacour has gone from Tri-Wizard champion in the Goblet of Fire to dating neo-nazis and sticking up guys she takes home with her in Bruges. Good for her.

Barring an absolute shit-tastic 2008, In Bruges will not be the best movie of the year but it is definitely something that I will love to watch over and over again. The entire movie is full of fantastic dialogue with some truly memorable characters. Its funny how these type of movies always seem to made outside of America. Well as long as they are made, I'll be happy.

9 out of 10


Can Will Ferrell please get himself out of this rut? He can single-handedly make these movies not suck but that is not enough. No more sports, no more 70s, no more semi-retarded good guys who learn a lesson within 2 hours. Outside of the R rating, there is nothing new in Semi-Pro that you haven’t already seen in Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights, Kicking & Screaming, or Anchorman.

There is no need to get into the details about the plot of Semi-Pro. In all of these movies, the story exists so that Will can act a fool on the big-screen as long as possible before learning something important then they wrap it up. This time its something about a fake ABA team trying to make it to the NBA and at some point they invent the alley-oop. Not too sure where that came from.

I am being extremely negative because I want more. Semi-Pro is still funny but its just not memorable at all. Jackie Moon fighting the bear was a great scene. “No refunds! Consider your refund escaping this death trap with your lives!” And all his arguments with the referee were good stuff. The usual suspects, Will Arnett, Andy Richter, even Kristen Wing shows up in the bear scene, do their usual great work. It was also nice to see Woody Harrelson, Andre 3000, and Maura Tierney. The cast is not to blame for my lack of enthusiasm.

But there is nothing new here. If Will is going to make the same movie over and over again, then I am not going to waste my time writing about it. Semi-Pro is funny and will watch it when it pops up on cable but there is nothing else to say. Find new material.

5 out of 10

Vantage Point

If I were to spend enough time to create a top ten most annoying movies I have ever seen, Vantage Point would definitely take up one of the spots. There was nothing horrific about the story, even though it wasn’t that good, or the acting, not that that was memorable either, but the twist of showing the same scenes over and over again from every single character’s point of view was infuriating. I wanted to go home by about the first time the church bells rang signaling that the reset point was pressed.

The actual plot of Vantage Point is simple, the President is assassinated … or so it seems. Then we get a bunch of stuff about doppelgangers, Secret Service double agents, and children running in the streets. That last one is the most important of everything because the entire climax of the movie is dependent on there being a dumb-ass kid standing in the middle of the street so chaos can occur. That is not the only ridiculous aspect of the story, there are characters walking away from serious car accidents like they are the Terminator. I’m not even sure if they respect the audience enough to at least limp. And there is the classic plot element of American government agencies are so easy to infiltrate that I’m surprised there hasn’t been a movie where a terrorist group takes over the United States by coup after placing their agents into all the Joint Chiefs of Staff positions. All of this is forgivable because it’s just a dumb action movie and this is what is to be expected.

Vantage Point lost me once it decided to replay every single scene over and over again. This is not a new technique, and it is not a technique that is automatically annoying. But when we watch the same scenes from what feels like 20 different character’s points of view, the entire theater started heckling the screen. Maybe if each section wasn’t so damn long, maybe if the mystery was actually interesting, maybe if this was just a better fricking movie, Vantage Point would have worked. But it wasn’t, and I was stuck seeing a mediocre story over and over again like some sick form of torture.

What the hell is Forest Whitaker doing in this? Shouldn’t he be making better choices since The Last King of Scotland? Oh wait, he’s in Street Kings … I guess not. And this is the best movie Jack Shepard can do when Lost is on hiatus? Maybe there will be something better next time.Dennis Quaid and William Hurt are completely acceptable while at the same time being completely forgettable like everyone else in the cast.

I hope that I am getting across just how much watching the same shit over and over again annoyed me. Because the rest of this movie was nothing to get angry about, it had a good chase scene and actors that I like to watch so I want to just move on. But I can't because I was forced to rewatch the movie while the movie was still going on. That's just unfair.

5 out of 10

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Ah February, you expose the truth before I even walk into the theater. If a big obvious attempt at creating a franchise like Jumper was released in the summer, you may think it was worth your time. But, if said movie is thrown to the wolves in February that is a dead giveaway that something went pear-shaped. Point being, Jumper sucked and I knew it would suck the moment I realized it was being released in the middle of February.

Now this was a movie that had delusions of grandeur. I have no problem with the desire to create a world where multiple sequels can take place. Jumper just went about it by creating shady quasi-religious groups that have supposedly been around for centuries who dedicate themselves to hunting down teleporters because of some vague “its an affront to god” reason. Why the hell does god have beef with teleporting? I can see a government agency not liking people stealing shit and disappearing but “paladins”? And why do they dress like they should be on Star Trek? I just don’t understand. Even if I could get past that, David’s motivations are never really explained. He has the cookie-cutter childhood crush and bully encounter and then a quick hey I can teleport section, and finally about 10 minutes into the movie he is living the good life. And he teleports onto Big Ben just to chill and look cool? Who sees you asshole? For the rest of the movie, he seems to fall into stuff over and over again. Now that I think about it, I seem to be blaming the story for Hayden Christensen’s lack of skill. Maybe if there were an actor that can portray the full range of emotions, this wouldn’t have felt so hollow. Well, I don’t care either way.

I just trashed Anakin and I could go on picking him apart, but I have no desire to do that. He is wooden and speaks with the same tone of voice no matter what is going on. Wonder if he will get to be in front of such an expensive movie again after this? And Sam Jackson… is there a more dependable actor who will ping pong from truly great movies to utter trash within 12 months? I will admit that he gets points for the hair but that’s it. Everything else is unacceptable. Worse, since he was the head paladin he was saddled with all the trash dialogue explaining this farce of a world. And how much did Diane Lane get paid? I want her agent. Jamie Bell at least tried to bring something to the proceedings. But comic relief can only get you so far.

Is Jumper really where Doug Liman is at nowadays? That is really depressing. Hopefully this is just a misstep along the way for the man who started the Bourne franchise. Still, this was damn awful and is made even worse by how badly they wanted this to work.

4 out of 10


Really? Why? I will admit that Rocky Balboa was nice trip down nostalgia lane but who the hell wants to travel that road twice? The only joy I took from Rambo was laughing at the dialogue and satisfying my baser desire to see vast amounts of gore on the big screen. There is not much else going for the damn thing. Well to be fair, it was nice to see Chappelle acting like Chappelle would act. I’m so glad Jack Bauer shot you in the back of the head.

I guess I can’t be mad at Sylvester Stallone, because its not like he is pushing aside better work to pursue some mad dream of bringing back John Rambo. And on top of that, was the Rambo series all that sacred? All I remember is explosive tipped arrows and “Murdoch … I’m going to get you Murdoch.” And after seeing Rambo my opinion hasn’t changed a bit, its freaking Rambo running through some Asian country, killing as many people as he can. There is nothing new here besides ridiculous dialogue attempting to give deeper meaning to the man slaughtering an entire regiment of the Burmese army. Thankfully nobody was interested in more tales of John Rambo so hopefully this will not happen again.

There isn’t much to say about Stallone. What am I going to do? Restate how hilarious it is when he speaks? Talk about how characters based on being ripped badasses that are now being portrayed by a man in his 60s ruins the image? Or just come right out and say that it will all be worth it for either Cliffhanger 2 or More Tango and Cash? After the big man, the recognizable faces for me were Julie Benz and Paul Schulze. Benz has that deer in the headlights character down pat. And Schulze is Chappelle in all things. He probably isn't liked by his own family. Everyone else are just guys guns. Good guys, bad guys, in between guys, and everybody gets a chance to bleed.

It would be nice to have the names of the people who claimed we needed another entry into the Rambo franchise. The third movie wasn't bad enough to kill this bad boy? Well, it's 2008 and here is Rambo and everyone is underwhelmed. Pointless violence can be fun for awhile, but this never even got past shooting people until they explode.

4 out of 10


Who the hell shakes the camera anymore? Haven’t we as a society gotten to the point where if you have a camcorder in hand you know how to keep it steady while filming? I can accept the running sequences but the rest is just there to constantly remind you that Cloverfield is different. This is real man. If I accept that is different, can I also accept that is just another monster movie?

I’m not entirely sure what the big secret of Cloverfield was supposed job. The first trailer back in front of Transformers, I think, was interesting and made ya take notice. But once the head of the Statue of Liberty was knocked off what the hell else could be the point of the movie? Monsters or aliens attack New York. Then, surprise surprise, Cloverfield kicks into gear and big crazy ocean monster attacks New York. I do applaud them though because keeping everything secretive definitely helped the box office. Hurray for money.

The monster attacks New York was easy but that’s not enough to sustain a whole film. So we get the search for the ex-girlfriend, and even that’s fine. But it would have been nice if it was explained that she had Woliverine’s healing ability. She was impaled for hours but they show up remove the pipe and she is fit to travel. What?

Not much to say about the cast. Maybe some of them can springboard from this into bigger careers, but for now they were just young folk thrown on screen. They ran around and acted scared then got killed but good. If I have to highlight somebody, I’ll go with the camera guy because he was amusing enough.

There is just not much to say about Cloverfield. Its a monster trashes NYC movie. People die, scary monster moments, and an obvious there will be more ending. Outside of filming it on a handheld, nothing to see here. Completely acceptable all the way around.

6 out of 10

Vacation Over

Well, I had to make a decision. Either I was going to get off my ass and review movies again or I was going to call this a failed experiment. The first third of a year is always so bad that I had no excitement for movies whatsoever. On the other hand, I couldn't be more excited for Iron Man, Indiana Jones, and Batman this summer. So, now I have to get everything back up and running by the end of April.

Sans weekly television reviews. That was a mistake. I may do a seasonal wrap-up but the weekly shit really beat me up.

And away we go.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Barone Picks the Oscars

My lazy ass finished just in time to pick the Oscars. I'm only doing this for the categories I care about and my choices are all curvy.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Away From Her
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

This is easy. It was the best movie of the year and the script had to play some role in it right?

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
The Savages

Thats 2 easy ones in a row. Screenplay of the year. There's that damn Ratatouille, I'm trying not to be all snide about a Pixar film getting a screenplay nomination but its real hard.


The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

My first choice would be Into the Wild because it was fricking beautiful but no luck. I'll settle for There Will be Blood because after Daniel Day-Lewis it was the best thing going for it.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There)
Ruby Dee (American Gangster)
Saoirse Ronan (Atonement)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)

Its hard not to go with Beadie from The Wire or Tilda but I have to give Cate at least one statue this year.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)
Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War)
Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild)
Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

Not even up for discussion.


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

Hopefully, this will be the Coen brothers year.

Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Laura Linney (The Savages)
Ellen Page (Juno)

The only category where I have no business picking one since all I've seen is Juno but the hell with that Ellen Page deserves it.

Actor in a Leading Role

George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Damnit! I'm giving this to Clooney. So what if I waxed all poetic about Day-Lewis in my There Will be Blood review. Clooney was off the charts in Michael Clayton and I just liked that movie more.

Best Picture

Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men

There Will be Blood

Well, what was the point of listing all the movies during the year if I didn't want my #1 movie to get the Oscar?

The Final 2007 List

  1. No Country for Old Men
  2. Juno
  3. Michael Clayton
  4. Into the Wild
  5. Zodiac
  6. Gone Baby Gone
  7. Eastern Promises
  8. There Will Be Blood
  9. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  10. Atonement
  11. The Bourne Ultimatum
  12. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  13. Charlie Wilson's War
  14. The Lookout
  15. American Gangster
  16. 3:10 to Yuma
  17. In the Valley of Elah
  18. Talk to Me
  19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  20. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
  21. Before the Devil Knows Your Dead
  22. Breach
  23. Hot Fuzz
  24. 300
  25. Grindhouse
  26. The Kingdom
  27. Stardust
  28. Superbad
  29. Reign Over Me
  30. Hairspray
  31. Rescue Dawn
  32. I Am Legend
  33. Black Snake Moan
  34. Ocean's Thirteen
  35. Enchanted
  36. The Great Debaters
  37. The Simpsons Movie
  38. The Golden Compass
  39. The Brave One
  40. I'm Not There
  41. Live Free or Die Hard
  42. We Own the Night
  43. Mr. Brooks
  44. Spider-Man 3
  45. 30 Days of Night
  46. Rendition
  47. The Darjeeling Limited
  48. DOA: Dead or Alive
  49. Transformers
  50. Beowulf
  51. Smokin' Aces
  52. Shooter
  53. 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  54. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
  55. Halloween
  56. The Mist
  57. Blades of Glory
  58. Shoot 'Em Up
  59. Resident Evil: Extinction
  60. Reno 911!: Miami
  61. The Condemned
  62. Ghost Rider
  63. Fred Claus
  64. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
  65. Pathfinder

I moved things around for the final countdown. Mainly I wanted to have Bourne be the first movie outside the top 10, Harry Potter and Pirates inside the top 20, and everything outside of the top 50 should be ignored. All in all, 2007 was probably the best year that I have chronicled in my very limited time as a chronicler.

There Will Be Blood

And we finally have reached the last review for 2007. Screw you, I know its halfway through February but to be honest I have no idea how I was able to finish this at all. Every year I have to wait nearly a month until that final universally acclaimed movie shows up around here. This time around it was There Will Be Blood. Even though I will not be rating it as the best of movie of the year, it was definitely worth the wait. It just looked incredible and I do not have enough words of praise for Daniel Day-Lewis.

There Will Be Blood is a film where it is less about the plot and more about the character. This is the story of Daniel Plainview; his rise to power and his descent into damn near madness. Plainview is another in a long line of Day-Lewis immersions into character. With each decision he makes, you can see the level of contempt he has for everything and everyone around him. Although the story is a little long and kind of ends abruptly, the life of Plainview is so engrossing that I have very little criticism for the movie. I feel that is kind of unfair to judge other actors against Day-Lewis. His work is startling here; he has the ability to terrify me with just a stare. Maybe that’s more about me being a wuss. I can accept that.

There’s not much to say about the rest of There Will Be Blood. Everyone else just gets bulldozed by Day-Lewis. Paul Dano tries to overact enough to be noticed but all he is able to accomplish is to make me laugh. When he was “preaching” I didn’t know what to think, it was so hilariously over-the-top. And it just got worse from there. I was thankful when the bowling alley scene finally occurred.

One last note, this was a thing of beauty. Just nothingness for as far as the eye can see. I likes me some nothingness. Especially when it is accompanied by strange music.

Let's wrap this up so I can finally close 2007. There Will Be Blood; good. Daniel Day-Lewis: great. At least see this once just to experience Daniel Plainview.

9 out of 10

Sunday, February 3, 2008

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Honestly, how much time do I need to spend on National Treasure: Book of Secrets? It’s the sequel to a movie based on hidden civil war treasure and freemasons and secret Benjamin Franklin inventions and whatever the hell else happened the first time around. This was the same exact movie, with the same exact ridiculousness. Well maybe more ridiculousness but I am unsure if that makes it worse or better.

Um, Gates’s ancestor may have conspired in the killing of President Lincoln and Ben Gates cannot let that stand. So he gets the gang back together and embarks on another wild goose chase with barely decipherable clues leading to even more barely decipherable clues leading to treasure. That’s yer story. But since this is a sequel we need to add some nonsense in the interim between the two movies, so Cage and Kruger split up for no reason whatsoever just so there can be some tension when they meet up this time around. Gates’s little buddy lost all his money to the IRS so he is desperate enough to do something stupid. And for whatever reason Gates’ mom and dad haven’t spoken in decades so we can get even more tension. TENSION. Ahh sweet blockbuster how cookie cutter can you get.

This time around we find out that there is actually zero police presence in England. You can have a high-speed chase go for as long as you want without worrying about a pesky bobby showing up to ruin your fun. Its also possible to kidnap the President if you force the United States government into having a party in a place of your choosing. Finally, there is a entire city made of gold underneath Mt. Rushmore just chilling. Plus the Native Americans who built the place constructed an entrance that stood up for centuries even though it seemed to be a couple sticks of wood holding up boulders. God, these movies are stupid.

The problem I have with the National Treasure franchise is that it is not dumb on a level of Alien vs. Predator so I can't even get mad at it. Instead you get a vanilla blockbuster that is completely inoffensive. Is that a recommendation?

5 out of 10

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

I’m out of energy. 2007 was a long year so I need to just write these last few reviews and put the damn thing to bed. Before the Devil Knows Your Dead was a phenomenal movie that definitely flew in under the radar. It had a big name cast, famous director, and the always-reliable heist storyline but it still never really became a box office success. Even with that the case, it still gets high marks from me.

Although Before the Devil Knows Your Dead would be classified as a heist film, it takes a couple of unexpected turns. First its brothers robbing their own parents, throw in that one of the brothers is a secret heroin addict, and you end with a nice and depressing conclusion. Sidney Lumet keeps everything fresh by splintering the time line and replaying sections of the story from different characters point of views. So you get to hear the other-side of phone conversations later on or discover what someone was doing when they were missing from an important scene. This allowed for Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, and Albert Finney’s characters to all have their arcs fleshed out and make their choices that much more meaningful.

You cannot go wrong with a heist story. Now Before the Devil Knows Your Dead isn’t exactly Ocean’s Eleven, it is much more depressing than happy go lucky. Even with the darker turn of events it is still difficult to turn your eyes away. There is never a point in the movie where the thieves are in control. Hoffman’s character constantly thinks that he is in control of the situation but he is deluding himself. As for Hawke, Hank has never been in control of any part of his life. This robbery held the promise of fixing many of his problems but it just made things worse. It’s fascinating to watch the 2 brothers scramble to pick up the pieces of their lives after the failed heist. And the ending more than lived up to my expectations as everything kept spiraling to this conclusion that I was wondering if the creators had the guts to go through with.

All of the performances were on the money. 2007 was a packed year for Philip Seymour Hoffman so I wouldn’t call this his best work but it was definitely well worth the price of admission. Ethan Hawke seems to be at his best when his character is desperate and over his head. He just reeks of panic throughout the movie. Albert Finney is amazing as the heartbroken father looking for closure. And finally Marisa Tomei is very much naked, very much a lot. I have nothing to add to that. Wait I forgot to mention Beadie pops up as Hank’s ex. Amy Ryan had a nice year.

Let's wrap this up. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead was sweet and should have been seen by a larger audience. Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of the best actors working today and solidified that statement with his work in 2007. Hooray and let's move on.

9 out of 10

Sunday, January 6, 2008

I'm Not There

Sadly, I am now attempting to review a movie that I do not have the proper knowledge base to completely understand. Outside of recognizing the name Bob Dylan, I have no real understanding of his life or career and because of that I’m Not There just thoroughly confused me. Don’t get me wrong, it was worth seeing and contained some great performances but in the end I barely get what I just saw.

So instead of the cookie cutter biography movie that starts with the character's youth then tells a story with key moments accompanied by their famous tracks, I’m Not There has 6 folks portraying different versions of Bob Dylan. That is about how far my understanding of the plot goes. I don’t know why there is an 11 year-old black kid riding trains, or why Richard Gere was riding horses in the 19th century, but I will assume that it would make sense if I listened to Dylan’s music. I sure as hell hope so because I don’t really see any other way for that to make sense. Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw were a bit more recognizable to me as versions of Dylan during his career. Maybe. So if you haven’t figured out by now, I am not comfortable passing any sort of judgment on the story due to my own ignorance.

But hey, even if I don’t know where the character comes from I am able to compliment the work of the performers. And the main two that I want to write about are Blanchett and Ledger. I would like to include Bale in my praise but the majority of his sections involved him singing. His singing was fine but his character's segments revolved more around people talking about him while he sang in the background. Sadly we didn’t get a Batman vs. Joker preview since Bale and Ledger were never onscreen at the same time. Still, Heath Ledger did some really good work here and that is becoming expected of the man which I think we all saw coming in 10 Things I Hate About You. But if I had to choose a standout performance I would give it to Cate Blanchett. I don’t know how good her mimicry of Dylan was but whatever she was doing here was amazing. She just dominated every second she was being filmed. Maybe it was because she got to play with the more flashy material yet everything she did just shined. Just the looks she would give while being interviewed were crazy. It would have been nice to know what was going on since it was clear that she was reenacting stuff that happened during that specific part Dylan’s career. Then again, I can say that for the entirety of I’m Not There.

When I sit here and try to think about I'm Not There I get the feeling that Todd Haynes got lost in the details. Its obvious that he is a fan of Bob Dylan's work but he ended up creating a movie where only people with his level of understanding can truly appreciate. Ah well, sometimes that's what you get with independent films.

7 out of 10