Upon further consideration, I have decided to upgrade Sahara to four stars. In trying to compensate for my generally favorable disposition toward most movies, I unfortunately downgraded Sahara to three stars. But, after having misread the showtimes for a recent film, I decided that the best way to spend my extra time prior to the movie would be to drop in on Sahara--perhaps I was just grateful to be watching a movie as opposed to wandering the hallways of the theater for an hour, but I decided that Sahara is definitely worthy of four stars as well as my strong recommendation to see it.
It breaks my heart to give this movie one star, having such fond memories of reading the books back in high school. But unfortunately, this movie was so god-awful, that not even remnants of the books' humor can salvage my opinion of it.
There are two kinds of viewers for Hitchhiker's Guide: 1) Someone who has read the books, or is at least in some way familiar with the series, story and characters; 2) Someone who has never read the books, seen the tv series, etc...
No matter which category one falls into, he should absolutely not see this movie. It's depressing, how bad this adaptation of the Guide turned out to be. I fully expected it to be hilarious, much like the novels were, and yet sadly, the characters fell flat, the humor was basically non-existent, and the story, while fairly true to the books, made little sense in the context of a motion picture. Maybe this story is one that must stay contained within the pages of a book, where text can be interpreted by the reader's own imagination, and the humor can remain contextual as opposed to visual. Because good lord, this movie even looked ridiculous. The characters in most instances were more annoying than funny, and it seemed that the movie presented the viewers with moments when we were "supposed" to laugh, but instead all that could be heard was an uncomfortable silence, accompanied by the occasional chirping of crickets. I almost felt embarrassed for the actors, as they crashed and burned in their attempts to be funny.
Arthur Dent (random British actor), wakes up one morning to find that his house is about to be demolished in order to make way for a highway bypass. Ironically enough, Arthur's friend, Ford Prefect (Mos Def) shows up to inform him that earth is about to be destroyed as well--in this case, destroyed by Vogons because the galaxy needs to make way for an interstellar highway. Har har. So Dent and Ford hitch a ride on the Vogons' ship, only to then be ejected into space and rescued at the last second by Zaphod Beeblebrox (horrifically portrayed by Sam Rockwell). Thus follows a quest to find the ultimate question of life and the universe, to which they already know the answer. The aliens, specifically the Vogons, look absolutely ridiculous. The director obviously thought they were a great source of comedy and increased their role in the story. Unfortunately, they are funny the same way that, oh...say, Jar Jar Binks is funny in Star Wars Episode I. In other words, they're stupid and annoying even while they think they are hilarious. The improbability drive that powers Zaphod's spaceship is never really explained, so those in the audience who had not read the books were inevitably confused beyond reason. We see the ship morph into several different objects (a flower, a rubber duck, a ball of yarn, etc), and it all looks completely absurd. I can only imagine how much worse it was for those who hadn't read the books.
If you have any kind of affection for the books, then I cannot recommend more strongly that you skip this movie. You will break down in tears as your memories of the books are brutally massacred in front of you. If you haven't read the books and are going in without any clue, then you will spend two hours trying to follow a stream of nonsensical images, most of which are meant to be funny, but are inevitably just stupid. In fact, this whole movie is akin to watching Jar Jar Binks for two hours, except that it's not quite as annoying, just really really sad.
I can only tell you that I felt incredibly sorry for my date, who, not having read the books had no idea what the hell was going on. I'm pretty sure he was sleeping through part of it in fact. I've no doubt that this means that he probably won't be accompanying me to anymore movies. Not that I blame him after this monstrosity of an adaptation.
My favorite part of this movie was the pack of prepubescent girls sitting in front of me at the theater. In fact, I don't think anything adds to the atmosphere quite like ten giggling, obnoxious teenage girls. I wonder if they'll show up for Star Wars as well...
Anyway, you might be wondering how I could possibly give this movie three stars, because the previews make it look like another of those insipid chick flicks. As it turns out, the previews don't do it justice and in fact misrepresent what this movie is really about. I recommend it if you're in the mood for something light, reasonably funny and not too sappy with the romance.
Emily (Amanda Peet) and Oliver (Ashton Kutcher...AGAIN) have a chance meeting while visiting New York and spend an entire day together in the city. But, despite mutual chemistry, they leave without ever expecting to see each other again. Quite obviously, they do see each other again, but only after several years have gone by, and again, only for one day. This is basically the entire premise of the movie--they see each other for one day, yet circumstances don't permit them to pursue the relationship they both want. The first time they meet each other, Emily has just gotten dumped by her guitar-playing boyfriend, which sets us up for the fact that each time they will meet in the future, one of them will have just gone through a horrible breakup. There's also some bit about three strikes, or whatever, but the basic problem is that Oliver lives in San Francisco while Emily lives in L.A. Oliver also has this grand plan for his career before he can think about getting into a serious relationship. Emily is just, you know, chillin.
In the end, there's nothing that special about this movie, but I liked the characters and I liked the light, sometimes comical tone that the movie maintained. The end is extremely predictable, but what movie of this nature isn't these days? Amanda Peet is fun as is her character, and Ashton Kutcher does his usual thing. You won't leave with anything to think about, no grand revelations, etc... But, you will leave in a good mood. Especially if you're a teenage girl. Apparently, you'll find this movie absolutely hysterical, it will have you laughing for ten minutes straight in frenzied giggle fits.
Despite this, even those of us who are not teenage girls can still enjoy this movie. Although, maybe not quite to the extent possible.
This is a relatively decent movie if you're female, otherwise it falls in the two star range. Meaning: if your girlfriend drags you to this movie with her then you won't leave with your ears bleeding, but nevertheless it does feature a bunch of women cutting hair and talking about, I dunno...girl stuff I guess.
So Gina (Queen Latifah) is this super awesome hair stylist, and she takes a job at a chique salon working for Jorge (Kevin....Bacon? What? Does his agent owe someone money or something?). Anyway, Jorge is a big meanie-head, so Gina quits and then pursues her dream to buy her own shop. Which she does. And um, that's it!
Gina spends the rest of the movie struggling to keep her new business afloat, which is difficult given that she has to revamp the entire shop that she bought, hire a handsome electrician who can also double as the romantic interest, and still manage to pay the tuition for her daughter's art school. Which she does. So you fill in the rest of the movie with scenes in the beauty shop where all the stylists and customers talk about stuff. Actually, Queen Latifah is incredibly charismatic as an actress, so her character Gina is also very likeable. Come to think of it, I enjoyed all the performances by the cast in this movie--it was pretty well put together. There are also some pretty funny scenes and dialogue here and there, but this movie wasn't quite as funny as the first predecessor, Barbershop. Still, I found myself laughing fairly often.
One part that irritated me, however, was the handling of the white character, Lynn (Alicia Silverstone). Initially, none of the women (save Gina of course) like Lynn all that much, as she is the lone white stylist. This is of course, similar to Barbershop's white barber trying to gain acceptance. That movie actually delved into real issues of race, and the conflict was then resolved in a realistic way without diminishing the weight of the issue. This resolution, however, did just that. All it takes is for Lynn to change her hairstyle and all the black characters will then accept her. Are you kidding me? Somehow, I don't think that people's emotions about race can be broken down into what kind of hairstyle you have.
Anyway, this movie is decent, probably more likeable if you're female, but nonetheless it wasn't half-bad. Funny, great characters, and a basically fun film to see. Yes, even if your girlfriend is making you see it with her.
Everything was great about this movie until the director (Sydney Pollack) pulled everything to a grinding halt so that he could basically sit down and chat with the audience about the message of the story.
The story sets up well--Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) inadvertently overhears a plot to assisinate the dictator of Matobo (fictional African country), while Secret Service agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) tries to simultaneously protect her and unravel the conspiracy. It was all quite interesting, because Tobin's suspicion of Silvia is shared by the audience, so we waver between believing her and suspecting that she is perhaps part of the plot to kill Zuwanie (the dictator). The conspiracy itself is good, and it's not hard to follow as Tobin progressively works out the details while the story unfolds. As we learn more about the conspiracy surrounded by the political situation in Matobo, we also discover more about Silvia's links to the country as well as her character's motivations.
Things progressed well, we had thrilling scenes which were then wrapped up neatly with another puzzle piece while still leaving much unsolved. The viewer is drawn into the story and is eventually on the edge of his/her seat as everything comes to a head. But then, almost as if the director couldn't decide what to do with Silvia's character during the climax of the story, he sort of shoves her into a long, drawn out scene that only serves to bash the viewer repeatedly with the message. Furthermore, the whole exchange is completely inconsistent with what Silvia's character represented the whole damn time! They could have removed this particular scene from the movie entirely without any loss of plot, not to mention interest. Instead, by the time the movie ended, I was feeling much less enthusiastic about it. Kind of a shame, really.
It's not a bad thing to have a message, and it's not even that horrible to spell said message out for the audience. But it's another thing entirely to destroy all credibility by throwing in some extremely boring extraneous scene that doesn't even fit with the characters or the tone of the film. I almost felt like I was in Political Ethics 101, listening to the professor drone endlessly about the same stupid theme.
The Interpreter is still a decent movie overall, so it all depends on how much you want to spend to see it. I probably would have preferred to wait a few months and spend $3.50 at Blockbuster.
Robots is a great film for what it is--one of those Toy Story, Ice Age, Finding Nemo type movies that will make you laugh and in the end walk away saying, "that was a cute movie."
I would definitely classify Robots as being among one of the better computer-animated movies, with a beautifuly constructed world featuring funky designs in the architecture as well as in each character. The story is, once again, cute, with an ultimate message that beats itself over your head. This makes sense considering that it's geared toward kids.
Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor) grows up as the lone son of a wholesome robot couple. His dad encourages him to follow his dream of being an inventor, so off Rodney scoots to Robot City, where he attemps to meet Big Weld (Mel Brooks). Big Weld owns a company that sells robot parts and upgrades, and his commercials feature him exclaiming to the world that, "you can shine no matter who you are," or something like that. I don't remember. So when Rodney arrives in Robot City, after a neat sequence with him and Fender (Robin Williams) on a robot public transportation unit, he discovers that Big Weld has been ousted and Ratchet (Gary Kinnear) is now in charge of Big Weld Industries. Ratchet is the bad guy, and he's all about making money and only selling upgrades instead of replacement parts, eventually rendering older, poorer 'bots obsolete--which translates to the chop shop. He changes the company's motto to, "Why be you when you can be new?"
The plot develops very rapidly throughout the whole film, and seems completely to-the-point in some cases. The humor is also very upbeat, somewhat silly and yet clever. While a lot of people have taken to complaining about Robin Williams of late, I found his character to be extremely entertaining as opposed to in your face. Perhaps, as has been suggested by critics, he did use a lot of his jokes from his stand-up days, but, well I guess I'm not old enough to remember his stand-up days so it was all new to me.
Anyway, to sum up, this movie is cute, funny, and very lively. I walked into it knowing that at some point, a robot would actually do the robot dance, and while I wasn't disappointed in my prediction, I was surprised that it actually made me laugh.
I felt like I was watching a hopeless knockoff of "The Shining," except that instead of a terrifying Jack Nicholson as the posessee, we get Van Wilder.
So Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) and his wife, Kathy Lutz (Melissa George) and her three bratling children move to Amityville into the horror house where a year earlier, some guy killed his entire family, because the house told him to. So, Van Wilder says, "well houses don't kill people," and they move in. Idiot. Listen buddy, when you say things like that the house takes it as a challenge and proceeds to kill you and your family. And then it's going to divert from the "based on a true story" warning at the beginning and make a bunch of things up about the house's history over an Indian burial ground or some damn thing. The reason for this being that the whole "true story" nonsense is completely made up, in that the guy who actually did murder his entire family was in reality just a big-time a-hole, not possessed by a house. But there just MUST to be a supernatural reason for it all, so let's see...um, an Indian burial ground requires no thought, so we'll we'll just blame the Indians. Ok, let's get back to startling people, ripping off "The Shining" and making Van Wilder's eyes bloodshot whenever he's in the house to demonstrate that he's possessed.
Scary things jump out at the Lutz family, they scream, they run. Scary goopy apparitions hide out in the bathroom and scare people when they look into the mirror. The priest who comes to splash holy water around gets scared and runs away. Van Wilder chases everyone onto the roof with an axe. The creepy bratling daughter has normal conversations with a scary dead girl and warns the mother that Van Wilder will later attempt to kill them all. Again with the creepy kids talking to dead spirits--seriously, am I honestly supposed to believe that Susie-Six-Year-Old is going to react with calm inquisitiveness when some scary dead girl with a bullet hole in her head starts hanging out in her room? As if this is all perfectly natural?
Whatever. So Kathy Lutz eventually asks Van Wilder if he's feeling ok. "Well no, I'm kind of coming down with the demonic possession that's been going around, can't you tell from my bloodshot eyes and a-hole behavior of late?" Nope, guess not. Let's wait until you try to chop me in half with an axe before we can be sure.
Sigh. Say it with me people, haunted houses do not an intelligent real estate investment make. Similarly, blood-dripping ghosts hiding out in bathroom mirrors don't quite translate into a decent horror movie.
Some good, brief laughs here, but nothing too surprising. It's pretty much "Meet the Black Parents," but not quite as funny or daring as you'd expect it to be.
I haven't seen the orignal movie from which this is based, so I won't compare the two, but I will compare it to "Meet the Parents" because I felt like I was watching the remake. I feel like the casting for Guess Who was excellent, but none of the actors were really given the chance to do anything with their characters. At the conclusion of almost every scene, I felt like there was a lot left unsaid.
There are no surprises here--Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher) goes to meet his girlfriend's (Zoe Saldana) parents for the weekend. Simon's girlfriend, Theresa, has not told her parents that Simon is white, and thus follows a series of uncomfortable moments between Simon and Theresa's father, Percy Jones (Bernie Mac). There's a dinner scene where Percy goads Simon into telling black jokes, and then after telling a few that the family finds amusing, Simon tells one that goes over the line and offends everyone at the table. Wow, didn't see that one coming--and furthermore, how stupid is Simon? Honestly, what normal person would even take it that far? If Simon is trying to impress Theresa's parents, then he's going to be sure not to do anything that could be offensive to them, especially when race is the main factor!
Like I said, predictable. Even the ending is obvious as the movie follows its formula to conclusion, which is fine I guess, most movies follow the same general formula--we're given the set of circumstances and characters as they are, new people and/or events come into play which cause an eventual breakdown and "low point", and then, cartharsis, everyone works it out and ends up happy, la la la. Well, the same is true for this movie. It's not the predictability that bothers me as much as the fact that this movie sets itself up as a comedy, but does not deliver much while it progresses toward conclusion.
When a comedian like Bernie Mac is paired with someone like Ashton Kutcher (who plays these types of roles very well), you would expect it to be pretty amusing, but there were so many missed opportunities that I just felt cheated. It seems like the director/writers were afraid to offend anyone, so they just shot straight through the middle. Sure, mission accomplished in that no one gets offended, but the drawback is that the audience isn't presented with any new insight into interracial relationships whatsoever. And furthermore, the comedy factor is limited to everyday "meet the parents" stuff. Most of these interactions could have occurred with an all-black or all-white couple.
Been there. Seen that. In other words, don't go there and see that in the theaters, wait for the DVD.
The only reason I'm grudgingly giving this movie three stars instead of two is because it does not revolve around what the movie refers to as "one of god's most pathetic creatures--a Red Sox fan."
Make no mistake, this movie is a chick flick, albeit one of those relatively decent ones that guys like as well. I fully expected it to be terrible, yet despite my best efforts to hate it, I have to admit that I found it pretty entertaining. There were, of course, the inevitable "puke moments" where the non-Red Sox fans like myself rolled our eyes in disgust, but all in all this movie focuses almost entirely on the relationship between Lindsay (Drew Barrymore) and Ben (Jimmy Fallon), thereby saving the non-Nation fans the agony of more Red Sox worship. Drew Barrymore pulls off her usual irresistable, "I'm so cute" performance, and surprisingly enough Fallon doesn't annoy the crap out of you but instead portrays the likeable doofus rather well. The writers didn't drag out the romancy parts too much, and there are only one or two cheesy scenes (i.e. the scene from the previews where Ben "proposes" to Lindsay that she come to opening day with him).
So anyway, Lindsay first meets Ben just after the 2003 baseball season has ended, and thus falls in love with what she later dubs as "winter guy." This sets us up for "summer guy" who inevitably chooses the Red Sox over anything that Lindsay suggests, e.g. meeting her parents, going to her best friend's birthday party, and finally, skipping out on a weekend trip to Paris because Seattle is in town--the rationale for that last one being that the BoSox really need these wins as they are three games behind the Yankees. Well, ok but.... Seattle? Seattle?! First of all, during that particular season (2004), Seattle was the second or third worst team in all of MLB. Yes, they were god-awful that year, and hardly a threat. As a Cubs fan, I completely understand why it is difficult to miss any of those September games when you're a few games back (or even a few games up), but I wouldn't miss a free trip to Paris because, oh I don't know, Milwaukee (another non-threat) is in town that weekend. I mean honestly, why didn't they pick the Angels, Oakland A's, or hell even the Twins to conflict with the Paris weekend--it would be much more believable.
Aside from Ben's obsession with the team, there isn't much baseball-related subject matter. They cover the Curse of the Bambino in about 10 seconds, and they have a few scenes at Fenway during a few games here and there, but this movie is entirely about two things: a guy deciding what his priorities are when it comes to the Red Sox vs. Lindsay, and a woman trying to love someone who cannot give her the same love and devotion as he does to his beloved team. There are some terrific scenes that made me laugh aloud, and there is definitely some funny dialogue. Surprisingly there was no potty humor, given that this movie comes from the Farrelly brothers, but that's good because it wouldn't have worked in this film--yep, sorry no "hair gel" on the ear scene in this movie.
Really, I think that this was a good movie, and they chose to portray the type of Red Sox fan that everyone can respect and root for--the loyal die hard who loves his team more than life itself and is willing to share the miserable times as well as the amazing times. If they had portrayed that other, in-your-face, entitled, whiney, a-hole type, then I probably wouldn't have made it through the two hours without bashing in my head out of pure frustration. So, you know, yay for that and all.
It's a pretty good film as long as you don't mind the plot confusion, which the director (Breck Eisner) masks with lots of explosions and shots of Penelope Cruz.
In all honesty, I found the movie to be pretty entertaining, and I might even have classified it with the four star rating, but then again, I'm a very forgiving viewer. The main plot (I think?) involves Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) and his best friend, Al (Steve Zahn) who are searching the coast of Africa for a lost civil war battleship--an American civil war battleship mind you, which carries some Confederate gold coins. It's really not so ridiculous of an idea, and I actually found myself intrigued by the thought, but unfortunately the story gets sidetracked along the way. The search for the ship is abandoned in favor of the search for Penelope Cruz' character, Dr. Eva Rojas, a World Health Organization doctor who is searching for the source of a new plague in the war-ridden African country of Mali.
There are a lot of entertaining action scenes, and the story itself isn't too bad, except that it was difficult to follow all the subplots, and it's confusing to the viewer when the movie sets itself up as a "lost treasure" hunt, only to then divert itself into something completely unrelated. Granted, the unrelated primary plot is still pretty good, if not quite clearly explained, but it would have been better if I hadn't felt misled. The characters themselves are all very likeable, however, and some of the dialogue is pretty funny, especially from Steve Zahn's character, Al. In fact, I found Al to be the most entertaining character in the movie, even more so than the hero, Dirk. Which is fine--it works in the movie and I suspect the viewer is supposed to feel that way.
I digress. Basically, this is a good film, lots of action, lots of daring escapes, good characters, great music, somewhat shaky plot, but all in all, I was entertained. And that, after all, is the whole point. I give it three stars, but for me personally, I would have classified it as four. You really should see this movie if you have the chance.
I hate to give the "oscar rating" so early, but this movie was nothing short of fantastic.
When they say that Sin City is an adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novels of the same name, what they really mean is that it is an exact replica of the novels. Watching Sin City, the viewer literally feels like he is watching the comic book come to life on the screen. Style, dialogue and scenes are all perfectly replicated in the film to an extrodinary degree, but amazingly enough it seems to work. The movie follows three of Frank Miller's novels, "The Hard Goodbye," "The Big Fat Kill," "That Yellow Bastard," and short story, "The Customer is Always Right." Unlike comics such as Spiderman, which feature one main character in a multitude of adventures, Sin City takes the reader into a variety of situations, each delving into a specific character and his innermost thoughts and motivations. I think perhaps that this is why the movie works so well with the direct adaptation--instead of trying to adapt an entire series of adventures surrounding one major character, Robert Rodriguez only has to adapt several ministories into one film. He can therefore avoid summarizing the storylines and take the content directly from the books.
The storylines center around several different characters: Marv (Mickey Rourke), the burly tough guy who is almost impossible to kill, seeks vengeance against the man who killed his only love, Goldie. He kills more and more people, desperately trying to get to the man responsible for it all. Dwight (Clive Owen), in an effort to protect the highly independent and badass women of Old Towne from the violent and misogynistic Jackie Boy, draws himself into a turf war between the mob and the scantily clad women over Old Towne. And Hartigan (Bruce Willis), an honest cop on the eve of retirement, defies death and his bad heart to save little Nancy Callahan from a ruthless pedaphile/murderer, who happens to be the son of a corrupt senator.
These stories are so impeccably told, and the actors portray the characters so well, that one hardly even notices the two hours slip by. The movie is shown in black and white, with small bits of color highlighting things here and there--red lips, blue eyes, blond hair, blood, etc. The internal monologue of the major characters helps the viewer really identify and understand the motivations and thoughts behind each action. Once everything is put together, the viewer walks away with a feeling of absolute awe. Honestly, this movie is one of the best I've seen, and even if you don't enjoy comic books, the stories themselves are great and the characters likable. This movie has all the elements of a great film, and yet it is something entirely new. There's really something in this movie for everyone--if you appreciate good style and creativity then you'll love it. If you like action and nudity then you'll definitely love it. And if you're a fan of the comic books or appreciate a good story, then this movie will blow you away.
Either way, don't wait another weekend to see this movie!
The teaser claims that "fear will come full circle," but in actuality it just runs around in haphazard directions.
My major complaint with this movie, and all movies of this type in fact, is that the "fear" is invoked by showing you images of Samara (the Goth chick evil dead person girl) standing behind someone for about a half second. Or, they build the music up to make you think that something horrifying is about to happen, but once again, nope...it's just Samara Dead Person Chick standing around with her hair over her face. I suppose that the hair is supposed to make her look scarier, but to me, she just looked like a goth'd up version of Cousin It. The freaky son character, Aidan, looked a squillion times scarier than Samara Dead Person Chick, which seems to be the norm these days for scary movies. Make the kids look as creepy as possible by putting dark circles under their eyes and giving them the power of limited premonition. They can connect with the evil spirit that is killing everyone, and somehow intrinsically know the evil spirit's intentions and background and favorite color; but, instead of saying, "oh by the way, I know how to defeat this evil ghost that's trying to kill you," they draw pictures that later become pivotally relevant and watch as all the adults around them get slaughtered. I guess I can't blame them really, the characters who die off are usually pretty dumb, so I suppose it's more a method for cleaning up the gene pool.
Anyway. So basically we follow Rachel around as she investigates Samara Dead Person Chick yet again even though she already solved the mystery in the first movie. She's moved to a small town in order to put the horrors of the first movie behind her, but of course, Samara turns up again and this time she's out for blood. Well, actually, that's not what she's out for, but it would have made the movie a lot more interesting. From the previews we know that she's trying to take over Aidan's body (I won't tell you why, just in case you have the inclination to waste two hours on this movie). So just add in a bunch of scenes with "scary water" and long-haired Samara Dead Chick standing around scratching walls and whatnot, and you've got yourself the movie. Seriously, there is no point to this movie.
It's really a plot contrived simply to give this film its existence, which is why it sucks. Walking out of the theater after having seen the first Ring movie, I knew I was going to be creeped out for a week at least. This movie, however, left me feeling irritated at having spent the $10--I mean honestly, I could have bought like 3 coffees at Starbucks later that week. But no, I had to go caffeine-less, and then finally settle for the coffee in the office...damn you, Samara!