Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jumper - 7.0B rating

Hayden Christensen stars as in this Sci-Fi/ fantasy / I want to say thriller but it wasn’t that thrilling. Christensen (I want to call him Anakin) does an adequate job portraying a young adult with an amazing gift. He is able to teleport at will to any place he has seen or seen a picture of.

This is a pretty cool gimmick but a gimmick does not a movie make. I spent most of the movie waiting to see what they thought up to do with the gimmick. Since plot wise the movie didn’t have much going. The only interesting plot was Anakin’s Mother (I know; Again?). Played by the aging yet still attractive Dianne Lane, the mother abandons him at the age of 5 but then shows up in Rome to help him out of tight spot?

They thought up some pretty cool things to do with the gimmick. Unfortunately the editing of the movie was poor, that and or the shot angles. Many of the action scenes were very difficult to follow and understand exactly what was happening. Since they, Jumpers, can teleport at the speed of thought the action can move very quickly. I think the film makers were too close to the project. I am sure they thought it looked great because they were accustomed to the speed. Personally I feel this is a concept that would be perfect for some bullet-time. Just plain good old fashion slow-mo would have been fine too. The excellence of the gimmick would have been more thoroughly discovered in the hands of better story tellers.

Samuel L. Jackson plays the head of a secret above-the-law group known as the Paladins. Paladins have made it their mission throughout time to hunt down and kill Jumpers feeling they are an abomination before God. It’s a great role for him and I love Samuel Jackson and I think that any movie with him in it cannot be all bad. Honest!

If you have an affinity for Sci-Fi like me, wait for the rental. 7.0B stars.

Rotten Tomatoes

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spiderwick Chronicles - 7.0 Rating

This is a great example of going to see a movie with certain expectations because you have read the book first. In this case 5 books. My son started reading them so my wife and I read them as well so that we could discuss the books with him. We all finished the books and looked forward to a good movie. Going in I was excited about this movie because the books were full of action, magical creatures, and suspense. But you have to remember that this is an adaptation. Good movies that are adaptations often can not be faithful to the book they draw from.

When you make an adaptation you would have to make decisions about what you will include from the books. In this case the movie makers did a good job of narrowing the scope of the movie down to a few main plots and then hammered them home really well using the universe created by the original authors. They maintained the look and feel as they went outside the original story. Of course I was disappointed sometimes when I didn’t get to see some of my favorite missing chunks. You can not put everything in 90 minutes.

What they did put in was a heart tugging drama about a boy torn from a recent divorce, a strange and creepy house, exotic creatures, and a very evil bad guy that must be stopped. All in an exciting adventure that unfolds using classic story telling. The boy, his twin and their sister discover an unseen world of faries all around them as they are thrust into a conflict 80 years in the making. Along the way they make friends and enemies but most importantly do a little growing up.

Today these special effects are common but it is still amazing how far movies have come since Who framed Roger Rabbit? This is a good fun movie for the whole family. 7.0 stars.

Rotten Tomatoes

Saturday, February 2, 2008

There will be Blood – 3.00 rating

What a stupid movie.

I really did not like it. It is a very dry and a mostly boring 158 minutes. The first 15 minutes are without any dialog. It’s just a very artistic display of a man digging for silver alone with no music for 15 minutes.

There is almost no musical score in the whole movie. What the movie has in its place is often really weird and really bad loud tense screeching orchestra. I think they were trying to intensify the rage the main character was showing. It didn’t do that for me. I just wished I wasn’t there to hear it.

It’s a movie about a man obsessed. He is so singularly driven he drives away all that love him without remorse. The problem is they want you to think that he is driven crazy over time from the rage caused by this obsession. But I did not buy it. It seemed to me he was always a bit nuts and time and success enabled him to explore the insanity more. Which is different.

Also, everyone wants to say this movie was about an "evil" man. Sure he was not a good man and he did kill one person that tried to con him. But it is not the tale of a truly evil man. It’s just not. He is not that ruthless either. Most of the time, he is only a shrewd business man doing what he needs to do to succeed. As I see it in the 30 years that transpire within the movie he does three evil deeds on his road to the top. He lies to a town about how rich they are going to get. He kills a man that conned him. He beats up on a young greedy evangelist that is clearly a cliché con-man too. Sure these are not nice things but to waste my time and money with this story is also evil.

Daniel Day-Lewis portrayal of this oilman was very good. Very good is an understatement. He played a man with occasional contorted rage to such an extreme and I bought it the whole way. I assume the slow pace of the story was not his choice and I therefore believe he deserves full marks. The problem I believe is when you have a truly outstanding performance like this people tend to give too much credit to the movie itself.

Paul Dano on the other hand I place some of the blame. He was too over the top and way too cliché in his roll of a sniveling evangelist. Many people in the audience were often laughing at the performance throughout the movie. Not laughing with the performance if you know what I mean. Maybe it was just bad casting.

I went to go see it because of the 5 movies up for best picture it’s the one I thought I would want to see the most. Unfortunately the movie's name and ads were misleading for me. The movie is not about a ruthless oilman killing any that gets in his way on his path from rags to riches. That is the movie I signed up for. But no, it is about a crazy oilman that gets crazier before our eyes. There is actually very little blood in the movie and not once does anyone utter a phase as exciting as “There will be blood”!

Another big reason I hated this movie is because of how little story there was in it. One of my rules is if the plot of the movie can be summed up very easily then it better have lots of action. It’s the reason I hate Sleepless in Seattle. That movie distills down to: There is a man that can’t sleep. He still can’t sleep. Oh yeah and he lives in Seattle. He is still having trouble sleeping. He meets a girl and THE END! BAH!

By the way - I loved Pan’s Labyrinth which was a really well done artsy movie. So it’s not that I do not like artsy movies. Honest!

Unless you are one of those movie freaks stay away! The Movie should be called "There will be boredom"; 3.0 stars.

Rotten Tomatoes

Friday, January 18, 2008

National Treasure: Book of secrets - 7.75 rating

I enjoyed the first movie of this series quite a bit. I own it on DVD and I have seen it several times. So going into this new movie I was nervous for it because I wanted it to be great but I knew sequels often aren't.

One problem with sequels like this one: Movies like National treasure have a very common set of three acts. In the first act we learn who the characters are and in what way they are down on their luck. In the second act we see them learn what they need to do to "Make things right". In the third act the hero succeeds at his plan, even if it was not by the numbers. He saves the day and gets the girl! By the end of the movie his world is all wrapped up in a nice little bow. When the sequel comes along how do you go back to down on your luck when you were just awarded MILLIONS for saving the day?

Also, I was very suspicious because the first movie was about a man fulfilling the dream he had been working on his whole life. How could they do a sequel to that? Could he have some other life long mission that didn't come in the first movie that we now learn about? The answer is sort of. The Gates family history is rich and something to be proud of until someone comes forward and attempts to smear it. Now it must be defended. So off they go on another globe spanning adventure chasing clues and solving riddles.

There is good action and the movie feels allot like the first one. Gates and gang attempt to break into highly secured locals and find clues to puzzles in places most people are not allowed to go.

All your favorite characters are back plus more. This includes Harvey Keitel as the lovable FBI agent.

This movie was not too bad. A good rental. I give it 7.75 stars.

Rotten Tomatoes