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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Anyone who has read a few of my reviews knows that I can put up with a lot of nonsense in movies. I don't mind over-reliance on CGI, confusing plots, surprise twists, or even movies claiming to be 2+ hours that actually seem more like 6. But if there's one thing that I cannot stand, it is the opening of a seemingly interesting plot line that is subsequently never resolved or even addressed again. In Pirates 3, I swear to god, there are easily three or four interesting twists introduced, none of which go anywhere at all.

It's wasn't so bad though--there were some great piratey action scenes, the special effects were really well done, and the plot itself, while somewhat convoluted at times, was all in all intriguing. Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow was as amusing as ever, Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann was still hot, as well as suddenly and inexplicably a badass with a sword, and Orlando Bloom as Will Turner remained as boring as ever.

The cast of characters includes pretty much everyone from the first two movies, as well as a few new faces--so needless to say there are about a squillion people to keep track of. Elizabeth, Will, the resurrected Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and many, many others set off to rescue Jack from Davy Jones' locker (i.e. purgatory of some sort) after he was eaten by the Kraken in the 2nd film. Afterward they must join together with all the pirate lords in order to make a final stand against the evil Dutch East India Trading Company which has been evilly using Davy Jones and his vessel, The Flying Dutchman, to evilly rid the seas of all pirates. Everyone cheers for the pirates to win so that the seas can once again become...well not really safe for anyone being that pirates are not so much lighthearted and funny but rather more interested in pillaging, plundering, and killing off their victims. So...thanks for that, Disney.

Anyone who enjoyed the first two movies will probably like this one as well, as it is fairly consistent in terms of style and imagination to its predecessors. However it is certainly not without its faults, and like Pirates 2 I think a good half hour of some rather dull and pointless scenes could easily have been trimmed off. The first Pirates movie is still far and away better than its sequels, but if you have a spare 6 hours and free popcorn refills, then it's not a horrible way to spend an afternoon.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Movies en France

Clearly the key to seeing movies in France is seeing them "version originale," as in watching them in English--because trust me, there is nothing worse than hearing "Je m'appelle Bond, James Bond." I love France and all, but a part of me died that day, so I'm anxious to get home and watch something horrifically American like Alien vs Predator or something along those lines. Anyway, while I did see Spiderman 3 (or "speedermahn twahh" as I now think of it) and various other movies, my husband and I have been keeping a non-movies related blog about our half-year here in France if anyone is interested:

I just watched Zodiac yesterday (in English so I could actually follow the story), so I'm thinking of posting a review--but honestly, only the non-crappy American movies make it out here, so I have a feeling that the review won't be quite so interesting to read (blah blah blah it's really great). I should really think about changing Hoosier Review to be "I watch crappy movies so you don't have to," even if it means watching "Little Man" and "In the Mix." Isn't it awesome that I don't even know what the crappy movies being released in the US right now are?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

HoosierRevue is moving to France

Well, I think it's pretty obvious by now that HoosierRevue is going to have to change. I can't write reviews for every movie, but I can't quite give it up entirely. So, with my upcoming move to France, I'm going to give HoosierRevue the facelift that it so desperately needs. I'm still going to review movies--just not all of the movies as I had been doing at first. Although I'll be seeing everything "en francais" for the next six months, they still get the same movies in France that we get in the States, so I won't be reviewing any nonsense that no one else is going to see. This way when I come back from France and start law school, I'll still be able to do what I've always wanted to do, which is watch movies and write about them.

And sorry for all the delay. I kept thinking that I had to get back into HoosierRevue in full force or not at all. And since I couldn't do full force...well it became not at all for a while. Obviously.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Lady in the Water 

I realize this will be a rather controversial opinion of M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water, but I have to say that I really liked this movie. It's basically the same deal as his other films in terms of speed, dialogue, and visual style, yet much less dependent on the surprise twist(s) at the end. And although I happen to enjoy twists quite a bit, what I most liked about this particular M. Night Shyamalan movie was its creativity. It's pure fantasy--not taken from a book or a remake of an earlier film from the 50's, not based on a comic book or a cartoon or tv show, but a completely original story. It's like the endangered species of movies...unless you count indie films I guess. But those are just weird.

I mean if you hate the fantasy stuff then don't bother, you'll just hate this movie. It's pretty much that simple.

So Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti), the building superintendent for The Cove apartment complex, discovers a beautiful naked woman swimming in the pool late one evening. He is strangely annoyed by this turn of events and angrily demands that she vacate the pool immediately...perhaps more clever than I thought actually, especially considering that instead of giving her a robe of some sort, he merely gives her one of his button-down shirts to wear for the remainder of the movie. No pants, no shorts. Just the shirt.

The mysterious naked chick turns out to be a narf, "artfully" named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), who has to see some guy or something before she can return to her world, the Blue World. It wouldn't be much of a story if there wasn't some monstrous creature determined to rip her to shreds, however, so in order to get back to her world safely she must elude the ever-present and vigilant scrunts who lay in wait for her. Eventually Cleveland learns of the mythology that explains Story's existence and ultimate goal, but in order to protect her from the fearsome beasts/scrunts, he has to decipher the true meaning behind the story itself and find the specific tenants at The Cove who possess crucial hidden powers.

One gets the definite feeling that Shyamalan loves stories that come together through a destiny foretold in small subtle clues throughout the film. And I'm not complaining, because it's nice to indulge in the fantasy world once in a while. It's true that the story is admittedly a little silly when you think about it, but what made it interesting was the gradual release of information spread evenly throughout the movie. It kept my curiosity going and allowed me ease into the whole narf/scrunt/blue world thing. I mean this is, after all, a story that Shyamalan told to his children at bedtime, so it has the innocence of a childhood fairytale mixed with a few frightening scenes and a storyline that ties together well at the end.

Again, though, it's all fantasy and mystery with a little bit of thriller mixed in, so you have to be into that kind of thinking before you'll enjoy a movie like this. I happened to like it quite a bit, so although almost every critic in America vigorously disagrees with me on this issue, I am going to recommend the movie to those who like mysteries that let their imaginations run wild. And yes, it's still somewhat of a silly movie.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Omen 

I usually go into these demon/ghost/monster thriller movies fully prepared to be disappointed at the lack of full-on terror and creepiness. Thankfully The Omen, while not the scariest movie I've ever seen, definitely delivered on creep factor and tension, as well as the occasional "fling-your-candy-across-the-room-in-shock" moments. For a remake in particular, it's pretty good.

The story opens in the Vatican, where the clergy are momentarily diverted from condemning "The Da Vinci Code" by the sudden appearance of a comet over Rome. Surely this astronomical phenomenon can best be explained as being caused by the birth of Satan incarnate, so the bishops convene for a power point presentation on the apocalypse and discuss what is to be done about this unsettling turn of events--which is apparently nothing at all. No seriously, Satan has literally begun his attack on the world, but the Vatican cannot be bothered with such trivialities as sending a few reinforcements out to investigate and lend a helping hand--there are still blasphemous books to attend to.

Elsewhere in Rome, the spawn of Satan has indeed been born, coincidentally on the same night as a U.S. Ambassador's son. Unfortunately for the Ambassador, Robert Thorn (Live Schreiber), his son supposedly did not survive the complications during birth, so the hospital staff decides that the best option would be to convince Thorn to instead swap for Damien (aka the spawn of Satan). I don't blame them, really. I would try to pawn that thing off on the first person I could find too. So they do.

Apparently everything goes well for a few years until Damien reaches age 6 or so, at which time he decides it's about time he got on with destroying mankind. Somehow the Thorns have not seen any horror movies because they completely miss the fact that their kid is quite obviously evil as all get out. I mean take one look at the kid's eyes, the fact that he never speaks, breaks into cold sweats around churches, and oh yeah, can telepathically command dogs to rip people's throats out if anyone comes near him. Seriously, way to have your kid baptized, people. The fate of the world now hangs in the balance and all you really had to do was splash some holy water on the little urchin and save everyone the trouble.

Meanwhile, some crazy random priest shows up to warn Thorn that Damien will destroy the world, and then strongly encourages Thorn to kill his son as a sort of, I don't know, preemptive strike or something. Thorn is strangely reluctant to stab his own son to death, however. You know, if you're going to tell some guy to kill his child, I would venture to say that the best approach would not be to simply blurt out that the kid is the spawn of Satan and that his real mother was a jackal. I'd probably try to ease into that subject a little bit. Maybe sandwich the destruction of the world part with a compliment or two to keep the guy from getting defensive.

I thought this movie was pretty good overall and definitely scary, although it didn't have anything that will necessarily creep me out for several weeks. Thankfully it doesn't completely depend on constantly startling the audience in order to be frightening, as the basic premise of the movie itself seems to be enough to accomplish that. There are plenty of disturbing images and enough tension to freak someone out for a few hours, which is fairly satisfying for a thriller. Worth a look if you're in the mood for something scary.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

V for Vendetta 

After hearing so much negative buzz about this movie for its supposed glorification of terrorism, I must admit to being slightly bewildered by this attitude toward the film now that I have seen it for myself. I don't recall that the hero of the movie, V (Hugo Weaving), ever targets civilians, and furthermore he fights against a ruthless Nazi-like dictatorship set in the future. The viewer does not want the citizens of this future England to remain enslaved to their government, so V is an exceptionally easy character for whom to root in his struggle to restore freedom throughout the galaxy... or just England for the time being. This was easily one of the best movies I have seen in a while, with its amazing but understated special effects, consistently engaging plot, wonderful acting on all counts, and exceptionally well-written dialogue. While the movie was just over 2 hours long, I was keenly interested in everything that happened for literally every second, which honestly, is really quite rare. There were no stretches of drawn-out dialogue, overextended fight scenes, or elongated musical montages to fill up time. And I still can't think of any huge plot holes.

Evey (Natalie Portman), lives in a dismal future, wherein wars and plagues have killed millions of people worldwide, causing the total collapse of the United States and plunging England into a society that is entirely dominated and controlled by its government. Where the citizens once lived in fear for their lives over a widespread and devastating plague, they now live in fear of their government, which censors everything and seeks to control every aspect of their lives. Evey works for British Telecasting Company (formerly the BBC I assume), and as she is out late one night past curfew, she is attacked and nearly raped by a gang of civilian police. Shockingly, at the last possible second, the masked V shows up and saves her, putting on an impressive display of non-lethal combat. After speaking nonsensically for a minute or two and then having to assure Evey that he is not, in fact, a crazy person, he takes her up to a rooftop where she can watch him blow up an empty government landmark.

While Chancellor Sutler tries to spin the explosion into a "planned emergency demolition," V sets out on a campaign to fire the people up so that they will throw off their repressive government and take back the freedoms they had willingly given up out of fear. V promises that in one year, on the 5th of November, he will blow up the Parliament building, and asks his fellow countrymen to join him outside for the event. During the course of the year, V seeks vengeance upon certain government officials who had tormented him years earlier, while Chief Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea) attempts to unmask the villain/hero before he can deliver on his destructive promise.

What I liked about this movie was that it conveyed a lot of idealistic thoughts on freedom over oppression, as well as the basic comic book fight between good vs evil. Despite a rather awkward introduction to V at the beginning, and once I managed to get over the fact that the mask's lips don't move when V talks, I found his character to be almost ridiculously intriguing. We learn that he has a horrible disfigurement which motivates him to hide behind the Guy Fawkes mask, as well as a haunted past that ultimately drives him to fight against the evils in the world, both tangible and intangible. The acting was simply incredible in this film, and it's amazing the difference between Natalie Portman as Evey and Natalie Portman as Padme/Amidala in Star Wars. The effects were also quite nifty, but not overdone or constantly made to be the entire focus of a scene, which in effect gave the movie a much more realistic feel to it despite some unrealistic acrobatics here and there. There's also a great display of some hilarious British comedy that drastically lightened the mood but also served as a poignant example of the government's stifling oppression.

V for Vendetta was still a fairly dark film, and there are elements of the plot that are shockingly disturbing, one of which is the question of how long it must have taken the filmmakers to set up an elaborate domino design without accidentally knocking them over before it was completed. But aside from that, it's an incredibly interesting story that was beautifully executed. I can't recommend this movie enough, especially for comic book fans, but also for anyone who enjoys deep and elaborate action movies with real meaning behind them. It was exciting and interesting during every second, and you can bet that I'll be in theaters to watch it again this weekend.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Failure to Launch 

This movie was much less formulaic than I had anticipated, with unexpected spurts of slapstick and wonderfully entertaining supporting characters. The plot itself, while admittedly implausible, was still refreshingly new if nothing else, which made this movie both surprising and funny. I definitely recommend it for a date movie or all girls excursion.

Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) is 35 years old, has a stable job that he enjoys, and an exceptionally easy time picking up women. He also has the perfect mechanism by which to dump said women without actually having to do the dumping--anytime a woman starts to get too serious about him, he takes her home to his place whereupon she is horrified to discover that he still lives with his parents. Apparently he is not alone in his parental dependence, however, as his two best friends, Demo (Bradley Cooper) and Ace (Justin Bartha) also live with their parents but for very different and completely understandable reasons. Tripp's parents have finally decided that they would rather have their house to themselves and enjoy their retirement, so they hire Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) to make Tripp fall in love with her, thus boosting his confidence and motivating him to move out of the house...whereupon Paula will pulverize his heart and newly-formed confidence by promptly breaking up with him. Haha! But, you know, his parents will have him out of the house so there is a silver lining to this cloud. Anyway, Paula realizes immediately that Tripp is not her normal client. He's not a computer geek, isn't obsessed with Star Wars, enjoys a myriad of athletic outdoor activities, and is of course a total babe. Rather than bother with attempting to find out why this seemingly confident and well-adjusted man is unable to move out of his parents' house, Paula simply goes through the normal routine: have a memorable first meeting, pretend to enjoy activities that he likes, have him comfort her through an emotional crisis, and let him teach her something. Apparently after a client has completed all of these steps, he is not only in love with Paula but is ready to move out of his parents' house. And since Tripp seems to be cruising through all the steps much too easily for the program to be working, Paula attempts to get to know this complicated guy a little better. No, she doesn't do that. She rubber stamps him through all the steps and then is confused when the results are not what she expected.

As I said, the plot itself is just a tad implausible, but regardless it was still fun to watch. More than anything else, the supporting characters made this movie funny. There were several "when animals attack" subplots that were completely unexpected and made me laugh out loud just for the silliness of it all, and both Tripp's friends and Paula's roommate, Kit (Zooey Deschanel) were consistently hysterical--mostly because they were exaggerated, but again, unexpectedly so.

I really enjoyed this movie because it was refreshingly original and didn't take itself seriously in the least. The entire tone of the movie was carefree and lighthearted, and I had fun watching it. While it's not the funniest romantic comedy I have ever seen, it is one of the better ones that have come out lately. Funny, cute, worth the money.