Sunday, December 7, 2008


This movie was a mix of a lot of things, and quite long. It takes place in late 1930’s Australia, where two cattle ranches are competing for a government contract to supply beef to British troops fighting in the war. The ranches are of course owned and operated by wealthy English types. When one of the families needs money, and the wife in England wants to sell and the husband on the ranch does not, she makes the trip to Australia and then the adventure/romance/comedy ensues.

I did not really spot a lot of bad acting in this movie. Everyone was watchable, and with the exception of the antagonist, every character was fun to watch- including the kid. I normally hate child actors, and the parts written for them, but this kid did a pretty good job. The only “beef” I had with this movie was the length. Coming in at just shy of 3 hours and having the “Lord of the Rings Syndrome” with several endings (some even in the middle of the movie) there to make you sit up, think ‘that was nice’, and promptly sit back down because it just keeps going. Not that it was a bad thing, there were not a lot of slow parts, but this could have easily been two movies; or one with a lot of un-needed parts. Just allocate a large chunk of time if you plan on indulging in this over blown piece of cinema.

And, yes, if you want some deep reading artsy-fartsy stuff, it has a bit of that too. Not only is it action and comedy and romance and looming war, but there is a bit of reading between the lines. Most of it is the civil rights and racism issues that are reminiscent of 1960’s to 1950’s divided America. It is between the white culture and the native, and the assimilations into each, intolerances of each, and about those who walk those borders of the civilized and the wild, and the black and white. With that being said, the main kid in the movie echoes Hick Finn a little too close (he is also the narrator, and takes quite a bit of getting used too).

All in all: Rancher Action and Romance Action

Lives up to the pre-views? Didn’t see any

Stars (out of five): 4


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quantum Of Solace

I love the Bond movies. Even the campy ones (just not as much). 'Casino Royale' was one of my favorites, so naturally I was looking forward to this one a lot. And for as much as I loved 'Casino', I did not feel like watching it again. That is kind of what happened with this movie. The whole movie had the feel that it was not a sequel, but simply the last half of 'Casino' released two years later. Granted, it did have its own plot, different villains, etc. but there was far too much time spent wrapping up the mysteries left from 'Casino', and not enough time focusing on the potentials of this movie. It had a great idea; and a good way to go about getting bond in the middle of it. The villain was great: Mathieu Amalric played the wealthy power hungry yuppie who was ready to loose his sanity at any moment. Craig did the top-notch bond again, and all was right in the acting world.

But sadly enough, only the third movie will tell whether this installment will be the 'Empire Strikes Back', or the 'Austin Powers II' of Craig's Bond story. Because, sadly, even though the action was good (a little too quick edited for my taste though), acting was great, and what original story it had was good, but it relied too much on 'Casino' to be a great stand alone Bond film. If you want my advice, take an afternoon and watch 'Casino Royale' and this one right after, and pretend they are not supposed to be separate movies.

All in all: Wit & Wild

Lives up to the pre-views: I guess…

Stars (out of five): 3.5


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Max Payne

I do have to admit; I never played the video game. And I know that a video game-to-movie is always going to be a little ‘over the top’. But for a movie like this, the fact that it was a video game had nothing to do with the cinematic train-wreck that was this film. There was a lot to give you hints that this was going to have a chunk of the supernatural in it, and you were even lead to believe that at several points in the movie.

In fact, there were several points in the movie that made you feel as if it could not make up its mind if it wanted to be a supernatural thriller, or a gritty crime drama. And both paths set up for nothing new. What I will give this movie good credit for is having really good cinematography, special effects and great action. But sadly that is all it had going for it. The supernatural ‘hints’ left many more questions to be answered, and lots of illogical plot holes. As a matter of fact, some of the inconsistencies left plot holes so big I actually though about walking out at one point. However, I did decide to stick around for the inevitable and quite gruesome shootings… they always make it worth the ticket price if nothing else does.

Lives up to the pre-views? No.

All-in-all: Holes- of the bullet and plot variety.

Stars (out of five): 2


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I do have to admit; I have never been a huge fan of Western Movies. The most recent ones however, including this one, have pleasantly surprised me. This movie centers around two travelers, one of which is a former soldier, who go from town to town as gunmen for hire. The catch on that is, they are more like ‘sheriffs for hire’. They go to towns with big law problems, and are hired by the town’s leaders to protect the place. And when they finally end up in Appaloosa, New Mexico, to save the city from a murderous rancher on the outskirts of town and his rough brawler ranch help- the movie goes down a predictable and generic ‘trail’.

Even though it has a bit of a standard setup, the acting is excellent- making it much more of a character study that any kind of action film. There are a few twists in it as well, making for a little more action than you would think for a character study, and the action is actually quite suspenseful. In fact, the moments before the shootouts are more tense than the shootouts themselves.

Normally Western movies center around a lone gunman who is brining justice to a lawless town, and therefore bringing about the end of his era. That is the era of the range riding gunslinger who lives by the laws of the land, rather than the government. This movie does that very much as well, setting up those who want a life in a new ‘modern’ era, and those who know they can’t survive in such a change of ‘times’, and with a very pleasant existentialist tone at the end of the film- towards those who the onset of a better era will leave in the dust.

Lives up to the pre-views: Didn’t see any

All in All: Duos and Duels

Stars (out of five): 4


Thursday, September 25, 2008


Choke is due out this week. I saw this last January at Sundance. So, instead of doing a new review, I am going to take the lazy route with this one. Here is my review of Choke, from last January on The Mad Scientist blog (of course, with the features here added):

Well, I am going to start off by saying that the book is better than the movie. It always is. This movie is an excellent adaptation however. There were only a few small changes and creative liberties for times sake. The show was pretty much step by step the book. Sam Rockwell did an excellent job as the main character. He channeled Palahniuk’s writing perfectly. The rest of the supporting cast was good as well, with the exception of the mother character. She left a little to be desired. For those of you who are easily offended this movie is not for you. There is a LOT of vulgar/pervasive content. But what would you expect? The movie is about a sex addicts. That is incidental in the story however. The main ideas of the book, mostly the twisted and unusual take on the concept of a ‘savior’. The driving point of the book (one of my favorites by Chuck P.) is where and how do we find a ‘savior’? The main character runs a scam by pretending to choke to death in high-end restaurants, and have the wealthy patrons ‘save’ him. By the old Chinese concept that once you save someone’s life, you are responsible for that person, so they send him money and nice gifts, which he uses to pay for his mother’s mental hospital bills. They become his savior by a sort of twisted means. But that is not the only way this is explored. He has his mother’s doctor translate her diary. She finds that through some weird turn of past events he may be a direct descendant of Jesus. He of course does not want to be the savior of humanity and goes down some paths that he thinks are self destructive, and end up unintentionally parallel to that of Jesus, and craziness ensues as only Chuck P. can produce. The main questions are accurately presented: If we save someone who is pulling a scam, is it still saving? Are we saved in our lives by the highs from our addictions? Do we save ourselves through rehab and sobriety? Is a savior just a religious idea, or can we find them in the most unlikely of places? Can one surrounded by smut and pervasive behavior be saved by love?

All in all: Saviors, Sex and Sarcasm

Lives up to the pre-views? Yes.

Stars (out of five): 4


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Righteous Kill

In reading other reviews for this movie, I was not expecting much going into it. However, with that being the case, I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. I wanted a gritty cop crime drama, and that was exactly what I got. The two actors I thought did an excellent job. They were their normal characters though, Pacino was the normal seeming crazy guy and Deniro was his usual hot-headed mean guy. Not a large step out of the norm for either actor, but always fun to watch.

The movie centers around two cops who are on the trail of a murderer. the problem is, they come to the conclusion that the killer is also a cop, making him very hard to catch. The killer targets bad people who have slipped through the justice system and remain on the street, and most of them are cases that the buddy cops had worked on. Not only that, but the crimes they are investigating drag up some shady and illegal things the two of them had done years before to put a child killer behind bars.

The movie was very entertaining, despite seeming like a long episode of CSI, a plot twist I guessed mid way through the movie, the presence of 50 Cent as supporting cast (quite painful), and the fact that both of them just seemed too old.

All in all: Wrinkles and Wrong-Doers

Lives up to the pre-views? Mostly.

Stars (out of five): 3


Monday, September 8, 2008

Bangkok Dangerous

This movie centers around a hit man (Nicholas Cage) who is hired by a Mafia boss to kill four people who are ‘bad for business’ so to speak. Then violence ensues. But there is not as much action as one might expect- the majority of the movie gravitates around the killer character and the people (two in particular) he interacts with during his job. The movie starts with him describing his routines and “rules” he follows, and how lonely he kind of is. So, basically, it takes a turn from indiscriminant killing to tell a story a guy who is essentially isolated from humanity, and how he breaks some of his “rules” to be a little more on the normal side of life.

The big problem with ‘hit man’ types of movies is setting up the killer to be a protagonist. There are only a few routes that one can take. The most cliché is the ‘I only kill bad people’ type of approach. I applaud this movie for not doing that. Or there is a ‘they needed to be killed, because some other higher power said they did’ type of scenario (a perfect example is Wanted). This show did not take that route either. In fact, it made no apologies for the main character, and what he does. To set him up as a protagonist with that being the case, they give him the guilt of what he has done (yes, even innocent people) to grapple with. Unfortunately for this movie, it was not done enough, nor is it enough material for an entire movie. But the touches on this subject are well done- it just needs more, a lot more. Then it would have been a much better movie. My biggest complaints were: the middle drags, and all of his social interactions have been done before, in these same types of movies nonetheless (and much better). There are spots of action here and there, and the final scene is a bit odd. It is meant to demonstrate how once you go down this kind of path, your life cannot go back to the way it was- I think. Like I said, it’s not that well done.

All in all: Life-taking Lifestyle.

Lives up to the pre-views? No, much less action than one would expect.

Stars (out of five): 3


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tropic Thunder

When I first saw the pre-views for this, my first reaction was: oh, I’ve seen all this crap before. And really, you have. The movie centers around a group of over the top actors filming a war movie, and by a twist of fate and a cruel idea from the director, they are plunged into some real life combat with scary mercenaries working at a heroin refinement plant. Basically, actors thinking bullets and danger are all part of the set, and comedy ensues. Aside from having a less than original plot, it’s quite entertaining. And who goes into a comedy expecting great acting and a superb plot?

There are even fake pre-views and ads at the first for the characters movies, and those are some of the best moments of the film. And Robert Downey Jr’s character transforms himself into an African-American guy, and plays an absolutely hilarious racial stereotype, which steals the comedy thunder of Jack Black and Ben Stiller when they are on camera together. Jack Black and Ben Stiller do their usual comedy routines; Black does the loud and crazy guy, and Stiller does his clueless and illogical dumb guy. That alone carries the first half or so of the movie. Once again, even though you have seen it before, it’s still pretty funny.

The latter half of the show gets a little slow. The funny parts get more and more sparse, and it mostly just spends its time setting up for the end, which has quite a few chuckles, but does not redeem itself for letting you get a little bored. I’m not kidding, there were a few times I thought of listing points in the movie that would be ideal piss breaks.

All in all: Nonsense and nuisance in a neat package.

Lives up to the pre-views? Falls a little short.

Stars (out of five): 3


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pineapple Express

First thing's first: you must go into this movie not expecting typical stoner humor. The humor is mostly conversational sarcasm, with only a bit of over the top type physical comedy. The main character works a government job, dates a high school girl and is constantly smoking pot. When his job puts him into a situation where he accidentally witnesses a murder, he and his burned out hippie dealer must go on the run from a ruthless drug lord and crooked police officers. The typical buddy comedy conflicts arise, and there are parts where I was rolling in laughter. However, be prepared to mostly chuckle at the witty (or wit-less) banter of stoners.

The movie is also surprisingly brutal at times, and makes you laugh at rather harsh violence. There are several fist fights that actually make you cringe when they are hit and slammed into things, but still making you giggle the entire time- especially when lots of silly things are used as weapons. There is one character that gets shot pretty much every time he is in a fight, and just does not seem to die. It's great humor. You just have to be in the right mind-set to be able to get the most out of this movie.

Even though this is great entertainment and I loved watching it- nothing out of the normal plot formulas for this type of flick occurred. The dialogue was great, the little physical comedy was great, the acting was timed for comedy delivery perfectly- it just failed to leap into anything that is original. And it very well could have, just some wasted potential. I would recommend seeing it, but I would not buy the DVD.

Lives up to the pre-views? Falls a little short- or not.

All in all: Stoned banter and stray bullets.

Stars (out of five): 3

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The X Files: I Want To Believe

I grew up on The X Files, but as the series went on, you have to admit- it got a little campy. In fact; very campy. The alien plot got very over the top, almost to the point of silly. Really, it did, with the alien bounty hunters and the oil and the bees and the syndicate and the Lone Gunmen (if not just for comic relief) and the list goes on and on. The thing I always loved about the series though was the fast paced questioning of moral and ethical issues, ant the episodes with ‘stand alone’ plots. Yes, those were campy too, especially as the series went on. However, the best ones were when they left a lot open, and the supernatural elements were merely tools to examine whatever issue that the two sides could disagree on. All in my opinion of course.

When I heard this movie was going to be a ‘stand alone’ type of plot, I got giddy with excitement. And all of the anticipation had paid off. It had everything I loved about the show, and none of the stuff that I even came close to thinking was campy in any sort of way.

The movie starts off with both of them having left the FBI, and Scully is now a doctor at a Catholic hospital, and Moulder is on the run from the FBI. The two of them get asked to come back by some new agents to assist on a case involving a missing agent. The reason they asked for Moulder specifically is that their only lead in the case is a pedophile priest who is claiming to be a psychic, and leading them to all kinds of gruesome evidence. That is all I am going to tell you. The rest will be up to you to enjoy in this fantastic new adventure.

Here’s a bit of caution: do not go in expecting any aliens, explosions or CGI. Expect a thriller of moderate scale, a fast paced ethical discussion. And when you come out, there are two questions you should ask yourself: Do you believe? And more importantly to the point of the film: what cost would you pay to save a persons life?

Lives up to the pre-views? Above and beyond them.

All in all: Thinker’s Thriller

Worthy sequel? Oh yes. Yes, YES!

Stars (out of five): 4.5


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


If you like Beauty And The Beast fairy tale type movies, then this one is right up your alley. I am not a particular fan of this type, because no matter what, you know how it is going to end. The differences in these types of movies is purely cosmetic. Despite having such great talent, including but not limited to: Christina Ricci, Reese Witherspoon and James McAvoy, it was indeed the average 'what you would expect' type if Disney-esqe barf.

However, even though it is not something I would usually see, I would definitely say that it does indeed deliver what it promises. To really enjoy this and get the most out of it, you must really like this kind of movie, or be a girl under the age of 9. I will grudgingly admit though, I was entertained at some points, and laughed a bit.

All in all: Princess Paradise-ish.

Lives up to the pre-views? Yes. Yes it does.

Stars (out of five): 3.5


Sunday, July 20, 2008


This movie seemed right from the start to be a mix between The Matrix and Fight Club. And that is exactly what it was through out the duration of the movie. Not that that is a bad thing though, it was thoroughly entertaining, fun action and lots of slow motion shots of bullets going through people’s heads. Mostly what you would expect from a graphic novel turned movie, the characters were a little shallow, and I hate to say, but there was not a lot of chemistry between the leading man and Jolie’s character (I don’t think there was supposed to be a lot anyway). It also got a little ‘bizarre’, when you figure out where they get the orders of who to kill from, and pretty much everything in the textile mill. But again, it is a comic book turned movie.

The films saving grace was the tremendous amounts of action- including excellent car chases, lots of guns, physically impossible bullet tricks, good knife fights, a very tense scene on a train, and of course Morgan Freeman in a pretty cool role (he has an absolutely hilarious line at one point).

The message from the main character at the end is worth the price of the ticket alone. It makes you want to get out and do something with your life. That is something that we could all use at one time or another, and in any amount.

All in all: Action and Gore Galore

Lives up to the pre-views? Mostly, it’s a little more ‘odd’ than you would expect.

Stars (out of five): 3


Monday, July 14, 2008

The Dark Knight

I think I will start first with the elephant in the room: every one wants to know about the Joker. I will just say that Heath Ledger is spectacular. He is to The Dark Knight as Anthony Hopkins is to The Silence Of The Lambs. I had my doubts about Heath when he was first cast for the role. He did not disappoint. He has given us a Joker for the ages, and he did not simply expand on Jack Nicholson's role, but made it into something all his own, and it is top notch.

The thing that was my favorite about the first movie was the fact that it was actually about Batman, and not just about the villains. This one has enough of a balance between the two, and enough story and interest on both sides, that you simply do not want this movie to end. It will be the fastest 2.5 hours you will spend in the theatre, and you will wish it was more.

One thing I might suggest: do not go to this movie just for the Joker. Yes, he is spectacular, but there is so much rich talent throughout this movie, even the scenes he is not in are captivating. Christian Bale does the usual Bruce Wayne/Batman from the first movie, and does an excellent job with his character facing the new circumstances. The character of Harvey Dent was much richer than that of the Joker, and could easily carry the film in his absence.

Beware! Even for a comic book movie, this may be too dark and disturbing for children. The PG-13 rating cannot be stressed enough, it can be very brutal and disturbing at times. And if you are not a fan of comic book super hero movies, this one is not to be missed. If you have any doubts, just go see it any way. You will be glad you did (just leave the kiddies at home)!

All in all: Best of the best

Lives up to the pre-views? YES!

Worthy sequel? YES! YES!

Stars (out of five):5


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I loved the first Hellboy. It is one of my favorite movies in this genre. The main reason being the narration and the message at the end of the film. I went into this movie not really expecting much more of that, being that I couldn't see how they could do something similar, and they did not. This film was not as dark and did not have as strong of a message as the first, but this one delivered all of the action that the first one had lacked. Granted- the first one packed a solid punch, but admit it, you got tired of him fighting those dog-monster things all the time. The new one has much more action, and more humor. I won't give anything away, but I was rolling in laughter at one point.

Be prepared however. A lot of movie sequels of this type have a tendency to get much weirder that you might expect (think Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3), I don't know if it's just a temptation that the director can't resist or they are just trying to go above and beyond in some way. This one is no exception. But unlike others of this type, it comes off well. The 'extras' don't get in the way of the story, unlike most others that throw them in there just for the sake of doing it. So, if you want a good ride with all the action that the first may have lacked, this is a must see. Even if you were not a fan of the first, or have never seen the first, this will definitely not disappoint.

Stars (out of five): 4

All in all: Action & comedy smoothie

Lives up to the pre-views? Yup.

Worthy sequel? Oh yes.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008


You will go in expecting the story of a superhero that is a bit of a slob and a screw up, and he makes himself into kind of a Superman character (that is what the pre-views lead to). And for the most part, that is what this movie is about. There are a couple of twists however, that make it much more than just that. I do applaud the writers for not going into the ‘origins’ story to great detail, because when watching the movie, it would have distracted from the entire tone of the film. And as the movie goes on, the middle part drags a bit, but the beginning and end are superb, despite being a little predictable. The movie was filmed well enough that you really don’t mind that you see a few of the plot points coming a mile away.

The popcorn rating is high: there is enough action in the beginning and end (especially the end) that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and enough comedy to keep you chuckling there. Charlize Theron’s character is also a surprisingly vital role (she was barely seen in the pre-views) and she does a ‘goood…job…’. But like I said before, the middle part drags a bit, so be prepared for small amounts of boredom. Once again, like I Am Legend, Will Smith is great- the story in this movie just gets ‘love handles’ around the mid-section, and the bad film making is not his fault. For the record: I am usually not a big Will Smith fan because a lot of what you expect when you see him is a Men In Black kind of character, but he is proving himself to be quite a good actor.

All in all: Action & Comedy Smoothie.

Stars (out of five): 3.5

Lives up to the pre-views? Yup.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs

The plot of this show sounds like a great comedy in the making. Basically, a rip in space opens up a gateway to another dimension, and a planet sized monster with giant tentacles creeps its way through. The monster is not any kind of “evil, conquer all” type of beast- it’s just lonely! And in ‘the mood’ (you know what mood I mean)!

With all of that hype and promise of hilarity that synopsis brings, you would think that the delivery would be difficult. And it is. The Futurama team did an excellent job filling the shoes however- there was a little left to be desired, but that is to be expected from a TV Show to Movie type of thing… and a cartoon at that.

The main plot does not begin until about 45 minutes into the move though. That is something that you may need to keep in mind when watching this. The monster makes a brief appearance in the first part, and the ‘rip’ is there throughout. But the first 45 minutes or so are almost an entirely different movie. But that does not make it any less hilarious! In fact, it makes it better I think, because there is more of a stage to bring in other elements and sub-plots that are laugh out loud funny (to me anyway). the comedy is the usual Futurama wit, meaning that you may not laugh at first, but when you go back and think about what you just watched, you can not help but chuckle.

All in all: Fantastic and witty.

Stars (out of 5): 4


Friday, June 27, 2008


This movie was Pixar’s best since The Incredibles if you ask me (and that is exactly what you are doing if you are reading this). Lots of the fun, adventure and the usual Disney stuff come out the ears. If you are looking for a good date movie, this would be ideal. However, you must like physical comedy, because for the first part of the movie, there is virtually no dialogue (the robots don’t talk much). The animation is also quite spectacular. It just gets more and more realistic (the robots anyway). There are a few live action people in this one (including Fred Willard, a personal favorite of mine). There is also a strong hint to get off your butt and go do something.

All in all: Good Entertainment.

Stars (out of five): 4