Monday, December 31, 2007

REVIEW: Blade Runner

Blade Runner

Year: 1982
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, James Hong
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

The film based on Philip K. Dick's novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", grossed an estimated $28 million on a $26 million budget when it debut on theaters in 1982. Its been hyped by many studio executives, but failed to deliver as a box office hit. Its been criticized by many critics as being another SCI-FI thriller that didn't bring anything new to the table. 26 years later, the film has found a warm spot in almost everyone's heart and has been ranked as one of the greatest films ever made. Now the year is 2007 and were embraced with a version of the film which is now being marketed as "The Final Cut", meaning director Ridley Scott's final vision of the film.

Plot Outline:
In the year 2019, Los Angeles is threatened by a gang of dangerous replicants. A replicant is an android who clearly talks and resembles an ordinary human being. The androids are programmed with a maximum lifespan of four years to prevent them from becoming too smart. The leader of this gang, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), wants to force the humans to extend his lifespan. Blade runners are police officers who specialize in retiring replicants. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a blade runner and he is given the task of hunting down the gang of replicants and stopping them. One after another, Deckard confronts the human look alike replicants, but the closer he gets to finishing them, the more humanity he sees in the replicants.

The story is based on Philip K. Dick's novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". Its an engrossing experience that you really need to see for yourself. The story has this film noir type felling to it and is filled with an interesting plot that comes with these characters that you get to know and love. Its like a mystery that slowly unravels itself right in front of you. Director Ridley Scott does an amazing job capturing author Philip K. Dick's vision for this film. Scott's love and care for the project really shows with every little thing being relevant to the story. With all of this said, Blade Runner does have this great story that not everyone is going to enjoy. I know people who criticized the story for being too dark or complex and that's very understandable. This definitely isn't a film for everyone. I have personally always loved the story of Blade Runner and even though I left alittle confused on my first watch, I went back and saw this extraordinary story that isn't really hard to understand.

Harrison Ford plays the role of Rick Deckard as if he was that very same person in real life. He does an outstanding job as Deckard and really has that charm that the character really needed. I enjoyed him as Han Solo in Star Wars and I enjoyed him here as Deckard. Rutger Hauer plays as Roy Batty and he gives an unbelievable performance that is seen only 30 minutes into the film. He easily is the star of the show and makes for an evil opponent opposite Deckard. Sean Young plays the beautiful Rachael. I really enjoyed her presence here and thought she looked great next to Ford. We also have the lovely Daryl Hannah playing the sexy, but crazed Pris. She does a fine job here and I also enjoyed her presence here. James Hong plays as Hannibal Chew and I liked him in this role. He doesn't have much lines, but I still enjoyed his character.

The visual look of Blade Runner is a sight to behold. The special effects for the movie are great for its age. The future city of Los Angeles looks very dark and high tech. We have cars flying all round these wonderful buildings that have digital advertising on them. The film has been wonderfully remastered and restored using some of the advanced computer tools I have seen. The films source is much cleaned up with film grain being very limited. Colors are much more vibrant and lighter. You can now see everything the way it was meant to be. Detail is remarkably good with alot of things now being noticeable. Close up shots reveal good clarity and a good amount of sharpness. Warner Bros. definitely deserves some credit for an amazing video transfer

The music in Blade Runner is phenomenal. The films score is composed by Vangelis and he does an outstanding job. The score goes so well with the films atmosphere and is definitely nice to hear. It easily brings out the SCI-FI elements of this film. The soundtrack in Blade Runner also consists of other music too. We get a mixture of Arabic music and techno that surprisingly goes sounds great. For a film noir film like this, you wouldn't expect much bass. Surprisingly, Blade Runner features a bombastic bass that really delivers. Its not demo worthy, but its definitely great for a film of its age. Warner Bros. also did an excellent job in restoring the music elements of this film.

Blade Runner is considered a masterpiece by many and I cant say I disagree with them. This film is an amazing achievement by director Ridley Scott that people will remember him for. The story is engaging and intense. We get to love and hate these characters that author Philip K. Dick created. The performance of the cast is great and really worth mentioning. The visual image of this city is really remarkable and something people NEED to see. The music breaks barriers with its fascinating, but less used score. This certainly isn't a film for everyone since some people might think its story is dark and boring, As for those who don't mind film noir movies and is looking for some action adventure, Blade Runner is a must.

Grade: A-

Sunday, December 30, 2007

REVIEW: 8 Mile

8 Mile

Year: 2002
Director: Curtis Hanson
Starring: Eminem, Brittany Murphy, Kim Basinger, Mekhi Phifer, Eugene Byrd
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

I didn't know that Eminem was making a movie at the time of this release. I only heard about it when it was coming to DVD due to alot of advertising. The idea of Eminem in a movie made me laugh because hes a rapper, not an actor. Every time their is a movie with a singer or a rapper, it just ends up being pretty bad. So I already had my doubts about 8 Mile, but it still ended up being a huge hit. The film grossed an estimated $242 million worldwide on a budget of $42 million. Not only that, but the films reviews have been mostly positive. This just made me more eager to see it because I was very curious.

Plot Outline:
For Jimmy Smith Jr. (Eminem), Detroit has been rough for him. Jimmy has been forced to live with his dead beat mother, Stephanie (Kim Basinger) in a cramped trailer after a breakup with his girlfriend Janeane (Taryn Manning). He works at a dead end job in a stamping factory making bumpers, a place where the money is little, but enough. He needs to escape the violence and desperation of a neighborhood built on dreams that always get broken. The only way he can do that is to gain respect in hip hop.

The story of 8 Mile is supposedly based loosely on rapper Eminem's life. It starts off slow, but gets more fascinating by the minute. Their are a few dull moments here and their, but the film has some great camera work. The plot doesn't sound original and it really isn't. We have heard of this story before with past titles, but that doesn't mean the story sucks. It basically tells the story of this person who has had a rough childhood, trying to make it to the top. I found the plot to fit the mood of the film and its pretty fun to watch Eminem rap on the big screen. The character that we have are fun and somewhat amusing to watch. Their are some scenes where the main character does tend to feel bad for himself and this does kind of happens alittle too much. I thought the ending didn't really provide a set of closure to this story. I think it could have been better and alittle more fleshed out. 8 Mile does have some entertaining scenes and this is usually when the main character Jimmy is rapping. It builds for some cool scenes where two guys exchange some heavy words that is surprisingly cool.

Eminem plays as the main character of the film, Jimmy. You wouldn't expect him to pull off a really convincing role in this film, but damn it, he does. I was really convinced that he was a man struggling to become a rapper. I honestly wasn't expecting much from him, but I left with a smile on my face. Brittany Murphy plays as Alex and she does a fairly good job in her role. I wouldn't call it her best performance, but she puts on a good show. She also shares some chemistry with Eminem that I thought worked pretty good. Kim Basinger plays the mother of Jimmy, Stephanie Smith. I kind of felt that she was somewhat misplaced here. I enjoyed her presence in the film, but I don't think she was the right choice to be playing this part. We also have Mekhi Phifer playing as David "Future" Porter. This is far from being Phifer's best performance, but he makes for a good friends next to Eminem.

The visual look of 8 Mile is pretty great. The film's source is in good shape so we don't get much in the way of film grain. Colors are somewhat muted with a harsh look to them. The city of Detroit is gritty and all washed up. Everything is either dark or grey. Black levels are strong and some of the darker scenes hold up nicely. This isn't a bad thing since all of this seems to fit the mood of the film. Flesh tones are spot on, but they aren't as warm as I would have expected. Detail is surprisingly great for the most part. Since we don't have much color in the film, the level of detail goes great with the black and grey colors. Close up shots show a good amount of clarity and facial detail.

The music in the film had to deliver since the main character of the film is known as a famous rap singer and damn does it deliver. Eminem is the main artist producing songs for this film, the music sounds great. Its the strongest aspect of the film. The films plot features many scenes where music is needed especially the battle rap scenes and they certainly do. Its nicely spread out and never gets in the way of things. Bass is very good and definitely something to watch out for. The film has many music that is loud and crude and yet the bass doesn't disappoint. It easily matches the music punch for punch with its rocking bass. Dynamics hold up well and is spread across all five channels.

8 Mile really surprised me since when I had my doubts. The film has an interesting, yet gritty story that is nicely paced and makes for some fun moments. I came into this film expecting another bad movie with an R&B artist, but I was really surprised to find a pretty good film. The cast is surprisingly good for the most part and Eminem never fails to disappoint me. The visual look of the film is dark and gritty with some good amount of detail. The soundtrack is bombastic and features some good bass work. 8 Mile is definitely worth checking out. I found the film to be enjoyable and pretty entertaining. Maybe you might feel the same.

Grade: B-

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Manchurian Candidate Review

The Manchurian Candidate

Year: 2004
Director: Jonathan Demme
Starring: Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Wright, Kimberly Elise
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

Having missed The Manchurian Candidate in theatres, I was thrilled to watch it on DVD. I haven't seen the original, but I heard so many great things about it so I was more than excited for this remake. Knowing that Denzel, Meryl and Liev were in it, not to mention it being directed by The Silence of the Lambs helmer, Jonathan Demme, I was more than confident this remake wouldn't be a let down, but I guess I was wrong.

During the first Gulf War, a platoon of American soldiers headed by Major Ben Marco (Denzel Washington), is captured by an unknown enemy and is brainwashed. One soldier, a quiet loner named Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), has since been declared a hero and helped along by his demanding, but confident mother, Senator Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep) has become the next vice presidential candidate. Troubled by a string of disturbing dreams, Marco begins to suspect that there is something wrong and cant really remember what actually happened during that war.

The story for The Manchurian Candidate is kind of a let down. After reading reviews of the original and comparing it to this remake, its pretty obvious that there were some things changed or replaced. I don't want to get into it, but its NOT totally the same as the original, but since I haven't seen the original, I thought the story of this one was decent. At the start of the film, the plot tends to get really interesting with great camera angles, but then it just goes pretty much down hill from there. There are parts of the film that were alittle confusing at first or just weren't right. Not to mention that the film is over 2 hours long which to me feels alittle longer than it should be.

The casting for the film is great. When I mean great, I mean great because everyone is top notch. Obviously Denzel does his thing and its good. I wouldn't say Great as his other performances, but its much better than his most recent performance in Deja Vu. Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep are great together and both perform very good. Overall, I felt the cast was great. Everyone seemed pretty right for their roles.

The music in the film was alright. The beginning introduction to the film is opened with wavy colors that match the music that's playing in the backround. Considering that most of the film is just dialogue, but there are areas where the music comes in. These areas are great because it separates the dialogue while giving the audience some music to keep that tension up. The Manchurian Candidate doesn't have a whole lot of music, but whats there is good.

The film has many great camera angles that are trademark from Jonathan Demme. There are many moments where the camera is straight up in some of the face's of the cast and you can really tell their facial expressions or whats really going on in their minds. I think this works really good because we can get a sense of what these characters in the film are really thinking of.

The Manchurian Candidate isn't considered a great remake because it kind of stays away from the original while still having the same plot. I found the story confusing at times even though it was getting interesting. The ending is done pretty bad with no real explanation what so ever while the acting is good and the cast looks great while the music is dim, but pretty good at the same time. I cant really recommend this film to anyone because its not really a great film. However I can recommend to those who are interested in political thrillers or if your just a very big fan of the cast.

Rating: 6.8 / 10

Thursday, December 27, 2007

xXx Review


Year: 2002
Director: Rob Cohen
Starring: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas, Michael Roof, Samuel L. Jackson
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

When I first heard of xXx, I thought it was going to be another action spy type movie. I mean everything about it made it look like that. Even the tag-line "A new breed of secret agent" made the film look like another James Bond rip off and boy was I right. I was lucky enough not to have seen this movie in theatres, but rather on DVD and even then I am disappointed.

Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is a man who lives on the edge by performing daredevil stunts. Well, this time he gets caught by NSA Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) who recruits him to be an undercover agent for the United States. If he does this then his criminal record will be wiped clean and he is free to go. Cage travels to Czechoslovakia to spy on the group known as Anarchy 99. As he digs deeper and deeper into the organization, he soon learns that millions of lives are on the line and he is the only one that can stop them.

The story of xXx is pretty bad. Its the same old story, theirs a bad guy trying to destroy the world, then comes a good guy and stops him. The story is unoriginal and gets dull in certain areas. There are many parts where I felt the script was written at the last second and wasn't even edited. Their are scenes that make you think "what the fuck", that shouldn't be there and it really brings the film down. Having said all of this, the story is still pretty simple so the audiences shouldn't be lost, but even with it being simple, it still doesn't change the fact that its bad.

The acting is pretty poor. The cast just doesn't look right for this film. I mean, I guess you can say Vin Diesel does an OK job as Xander Cage, but he still doesn't give his best performance. We got the main villain in the film being played by Marton Csokas who honest to god doesn't have that evil that villains should have in them. Then we have Asia Argento who plays the main love romance in the film, but she is dressed up like a New York hooker that it doesn't look right. I cant even say how disappointed I am with Samuel L. Jackson, here we have a wonderful great actor degrading himself by playing a dumb role in the film. I am really disappointed in the cast because no one looks like they belong in this film.

If there is one section where xXx truly shines, its the music. The film has music that goes pretty well with the story and action. I am amazed that it even has a score of some sort, although the score isn't really great, its still nice to see this film gets its own score. The music is mixed between metal and hard rock. There are some out there that have criticized xXx's music for being too metal, but I found it to be good to go with the movie.

A movie like this is bound to have alot of explosions with cool stunts and damn does it have alot. From the early Colombian house to the castle in the high rocks, everything explodes good. There are too many explosions and stunts in the film that it kind of makes me wonder if this is a movie or a 2 hour exploding stunt clip, but none the less, everything explodes pretty well.

In the end, xXx is just another James Bond rip off. The acting is bad, the story isn't great and it just feels like a poorly cheap made film. The only thing keeping this film alive is its good music and cool explosions. I guess I can recommend xXx if your into spy type movies that are kind of fun to watch even though there bad, but even then I would suggest you see a better film like Casino Royale or The Bourne Identity before you go out wanting to see this film.

Rating: 5.8 / 10

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The 40 Year Old Virgin Review

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Year: 2005
Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

When they started airing trailers for The 40 Year Old Virgin, people started laughing because they recognized Steve Carell from his previous film as funny co-anchor Evan Baxter from Bruce Almighty. So it was nice to see him playing the main role in this film. However I still had my doubts about this film since it was rated R. I didn't think alot of people would go see this film, but boy was I wrong. After grossing over $175,000,000 worldwide on a budget of about $26 million and being well received by critics, I was more than surprised. The 40 Year Old Virgin has now been like a classic with everyone I know having seen it.

Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) is your typical nerdy 40 year old man, who works in a electronics store who also collects action figures. When his three co-workers David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Malco) and Cal (Seth Rogen) find out that Andy is still a virgin. His three buddies will do anything to get him laid, but Andy has to start back from the basics which is how to meet a woman. At first, Andy is embarrassed with the woman he tries to date or have a one night stand with. Things looks bright for Andy when he meets an exciting businesswoman by the name of Trish (Catherine Keener) and she's also a single mother of three. Then things are well enough for Andy to fall into his first relationship, but is too frighten to tell Trish that he is still a virgin.

The story of The 40 Year Old Virgin works really well. Its filled with interesting scenes where the story really gets to you and makes you wonder what where going to see next. The important reason why the story works so well is because its real, the characters experience something we all have been through at some point. Its nothing fake or unrealistic. The story works on so many levels and even ends in a realistic way. This film marked the first time Judd Apatow made his big debut as a funny, but realistic director.

The acting in The 40 Year Old Virgin is also good. We get introduced to these characters that are funny, but also very entertaining at the same time. Steve Carell pulls off the sweet, but dorky Andy Stitzer and its nice to see him getting a major role in a film since we were getting used to him as a side character. In all in all, the cast is great and the acting works. Everyone seems to be in their right roles and I wouldn't change a thing.

A movie like this would have been nothing without its jokes right? This film is alittle weird because I at first didn't know it was rated R until I finally went to go see it. So obviously we wouldn't be getting the typical jokes we got use to getting from PG-13 rated films. This film is filled with jokes that are either funny or plain lousy and I say that because in some parts it just doesn't really go well with the film. However in saying this, there are definitely parts of the film where the laughter truly shines like for example the waxing scene.

There isn't really any music in the film. Whats there are some parts where their some slight music coming in to keep the scenes from falling apart. Its pretty nice because it focuses more on the dialogue with less music. I don't really know if this works best for the film, but I didn't really find it a problem since a typical comedy like this doesn't need a powerful score or anything.

In the end, The 40 Year Old Virgin is a very good film. This film really jump started Judd Apatow's career before he went on to making even better films like Knocked Up. I was really happy to see Steve Carell getting his own major role in the film and just how real the story was. The movie is very funny if you don't mind some occasional dumb sex jokes and is very entertaining. Its a nice romance movie to watch with your friends who I recommend are 18 or over.

Rating: 7.6 / 10

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunshine Review


Year: 2007
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Michelle Yeoh
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

From the director of 28 Days Later comes Danny Boyle's next thriller project, Sunshine. When I first saw the trailer for Sunshine online. I thought it looked pretty cool, but nothing Id spend money on watching. Still, the special effects and the idea of a space thriller intrigued me so I decided to watch it.

The Sun is dying and humanity is facing extinction. In order to save ourselves, we launch the Icarus I which was suppose to drop off a bomb that would restart the sun. That mission failed and now, the crew of the Icarus II, seven years after the failure of the first mission, must save the sun before humanity is extinguished. The Icarus II is a multinational team which each crew member is a specialist in his or her own field. Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sananda) captains the Icarus II. Other crew members include Corazon (Michelle Yeoh), Cassie (Rose Byrne), Trey (Benedict Wong), Harvey (Troy Garity) Searle (Cliff Curtis), Mace (Chris Evans) and Capa (Cillian Murphy). Stuck together on a 16 month mission, tension builds between the crew members of the Icarus II. It is now up to them to save humanity.

The story of Sunshine is pretty slow. The story moves pretty slow, but gets better as we go along. It gets really interesting when the crew is out there and they have to decide what there going to do. Do they stick to the plan or wonder off somewhere else for a detour? There are parts of the movie where it gets pretty predictable like something happening after another and moments like these bring down the tension that this film has. Their are parts where their could have been some character development earlier in the movie that could have helped in the end.

The acting in Sunshine is pretty good. Its nothing too special, but its pretty good. Everyone seems to be right for their roles except Hiroyuki Sanada playing the captain. He seems to be the odd one to play captain since hes not really captain material and most of the time, he seems pretty bored.

The special effect in the film are pretty damn good. I mean pretty damn good because this is a pretty low budget film costing about $40 million to make and it has some cool effects. Since this films plot involves the sun alot, theirs no denying that the sun looks amazing. The ending really showcases what Sunshine is really about.

The disappointing part about the film is its music. Their is barely any music used in the film and it feels pretty bad. Here we have a good movie that doesn't really have any good music to back it up. That being said, Sunshine doesn't really rely on music so I guess its OK, but it would have really been nice if it got atleast its own score.

In the end, Sunshine is a pretty good film. I enjoyed the film and thought it was interesting. If your a fan of space movies or those cool thriller films then I recommend Sunshine. I do have to warn people that this film starts pretty slow, but it gets really interesting as you go along.

Rating: 7.5 / 10

Monday, December 24, 2007

Fantastic Four Review

Fantastic Four

Year: 2005
Director: Tim Story
Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
MPAA: Rated PG-13

After the smash hits of previous Marvel comic turned movies like X-Men and Spider-Man, it was only a matter of time before one of our favorite comic book heroes were going to get the big screen treatment. When I first heard of this film getting made, I just kept thinking to myself who they would cast as the famous four. After all the casting and writing, the film made its 2005 debut in theaters and grossing over $300,000,000 million worldwide, but was the film actually any good? In short answer, not really.

Struggling scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and his friend Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), convince Scientist Billionaire Victor Van Doom (Julian McMahon) to go in Space by studying the potential effects of a Cosmic Storm when it's approaching Earth. Along with Reed's ex-girlfriend Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and her daredevil brother Johnny Storm (Chris Evens). But instead, they find themselves caught in the phenomena and affected by receiving unusual special powers. The group gets caught in the news after saving lives and are instantly received popularity by the public. While the group tries to find a cure for their disease, Dr. Doom is using his power for evil and trying to rule the world, but first, he has to destroy the Fantastic Four.

The story of Fantastic Four pretty much sucks. The story isn't actually fun to watch, I mean sure its pretty enjoyable for most people, but die hard fans will be disappointed. They obviously get the introduction of their powers right, but the other part of the story just isn't fun to watch. The whole movie is about them discovering their powers and at the same time, trying to get rid of it. Theirs no interesting plot to keep this movie going and its kind of boring. I'm sure most audiences will probably have a fun time watching the movie, but fans of the comics will be disappointed by its lack of story.

The acting is pretty poor. The cast is just not the right choices to play these characters. Sure Chris Evans plays his role just about right or Ioan Gruffudd looks alot like Reed Richards, but the cast just doesn't show enough emotion. There is absolutely no chemistry between Richards and Storm. Everyone just doesn't look like their really giving any effort in their roles. I don't know about you, but Jessica Alba is the worst choice to play Sue Storm. The only person that actually looks like hes enjoying himself is Julian McMahon, but even hes not that great in his role.

The special effects for the film is decent. I wouldn't say their mind blowing, but their not that bad. I was hoping that after seeing X-Men and Spider-Man that the special effects in Fantastic Four would blow both of those out of the water, but it doesn't. It looks like it wasn't quite finished. I think that it could have easily looked amazing if they had alittle more time, but I guess its not that bad seeing how the budget was only $100,000,000.

The music is not that great either. Fantastic Four doesn't really have its own score. I mean if Spider-Man can have one, why doesn't Fantastic Four? However there is some music in the film that to me mostly feels like a mixture of pop and metal. I was really disappointed that this film didn't have any memorable music that would excite you every time it came on.

In the end, Fantastic Four feels like a cheap Marvel adaption of a comic book to film. I was really disappointed by this movie. It looked like they had some of the things going on, but failed to deliver on its promises. If your a huge fan and that you want to see a Marvel movie no matter how bad the story or cast is, then by all means go ahead and see Fantastic Four. As for everyone else, Id advise you to be warned that your walking into this film with the problems mentioned above.

Rating: 6.4 / 10

Saturday, December 22, 2007

REVIEW: Casino Royale

Casino Royale

Year: 2006
Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

When I heard that MGM was going for a new actor to play 007 instead of Pierce Brosnan, I was alittle worried and angry because I don't like it when actors get re-casted, but what made me more angry was that Daniel Craig got chosen to don the famous tux. Out of all actors, Julian McMahon, Clive Owen and etc. we get Daniel Craig. I can tell you right now that nobody was thinking Craig would be an ideal person to play James Bond. I thought to myself how could they screw up one of the most well known franchises in history by casting a blond actor as Bond. Luckily, I was proven wrong and Casino Royale ended up surprising alot of people including me.

Plot Outline:
After receiving license to kill from the MI-6, the secret agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) follows his leads and avoids the destruction of the greatest airplane in the world in Miami plotted by the evil banker Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) to crash the bonds in the stock market and break the air flight company. The banker loses the funds of international terrorist organizations and organizes a poker game in Casino Royale, in Montenegro, to raise the money of the investors. James Bond travels with the British accountant Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to bet and defeat La Chiffre and force him to look for protection with the MI-6, disclosing the names of the terrorists.

Casino Royale marks the reboot of a major franchise and I'm happy to say it doesn't disappoint in terms of its story. The film has an interesting plot that not only gives us an idea of what Bond was like back in the early days, but also giving us a Bond with emotions. A Bond that feels pain and isn't afraid of kicking some ass. The Bourne films from Universal have been giving our MI6 spy some serious competition so its no surprise that MGM went with a more gritty, action oriented Bond kind of like Jason Bourne. This works out fine because it gives us a more believable Bond that we haven't seen before. The film also gives us a villain that doesn't seem so far fetched and actually has an evil plan that isn't over the top. Since the film is a reboot, we don't get any appearances by Q or Miss Moneypenny. This isn't something that's going to kill this film, but long time fans of Bond are going to miss this because its going to feel weird watching this film without having two of the most well known characters in the franchise's history. The only thing I didn't really like about in the film, was its ending. It isn't a bad ending, but it does kind of leave you in a cliff hanger. That and the occasional Sony advertising scattered through out the film that are so obvious to tell are my only grips about the film. Other than that, this is an entertaining film.

Daniel Craig replaces Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in the film. I had serious doubts about Craig when it was first announced that he would be the new Bond. I thought he didn't look right for the part and was no where near what Fleming described Bond to be. So I was really surprised when I saw the final film because Craig actually didn't disappoint. While I still think Connery is the best Bond with Brosnan coming a close second, Craig surely did a good job. Eva Green plays as Bond's main romance, Vesper Lynd. She does a great job in her role and makes for a fine Bond girl. The only thing that bothers me about her casting is that she seems way too young when standing near Craig. It makes Craig look so old compared to her. Mads Mikkelsen plays as the main villain of the film, Le Chiffre. He too does a great job in his role and one that I found to be very enjoyable. Hes a good choice to play this character opposite Craig and I think he did a great job doing it. We also have Judi Dench returning as M. I simply don't understand why shes in this film considering its a reboot to the franchise, but she still gives a solid performances as M.

The visual look of the film is simply great. The film was recently released and shot in mostly HD cameras. The result is an often clean image that doesn't contain much film grain. Colors are very vibrant and natural. Their are a couple of scenes early in the film where we have Bond at a beach and the colors simply leap off the screen. Black levels are also really strong and hold up very well in some of the darker scenes. Flesh tones are accurate and hold up well in almost every shot. Detail is also strong for a Bond film. Close up shots show alot of detail and clarity that really is something worth watching. You can literally see wrinkles on Craig's face.

The theme song is performed by Chris Cornell and in my opinion, the biggest flaw in the movie. The Bond series have all had great theme songs performed by various performers and they were all great with a few that didn't stack up compared to some of the others. Casino Royale's theme song is one of them. The song, although really good and fun to listen to just isn't the right one for a Bond film. It just doesn't feel like a Bond song and doesn't feature any naked ladies dancing in the intro. While I didn't like the theme song for the film, the bass is without a doubt very strong. The film has many scenes where Bond is doing something great and the bass follows through. Every punch is heard loud and hard. Their is an airport scene during the middle half of the film that simply rocks with aggression in the sound department. This is definitely something to keep in terms of demo material for your home theater.

Casino Royale is a great film that's also a pretty good reboot to one of the most popular series in history. In all honesty, Casino Royale feels like a great action movie rather than a James Bond film. The films got a great story that's very interesting to watch, but also very entertaining. The cast is great with almost everyone giving out good performances. The visual look of the film is really good with vibrant colors and strong detail. The soundtrack is a mixed bag because I didn't like the theme song, but I found the bass to be superb. I can recommend this film to the loyal Bond fans out their and to those looking for a good action film. This is a great start for the new reboot, I just hope they can keep up the momentum.

Grade: B

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Click Review


Year: 2006
Director: Frank Coraci
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, David Hasselhoff, Christopher Walken, Henry Winkler
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

As a pretty big Adam Sandler fan going back to his SNL days, I was kind of shocked when I first heard of this film. I thought to myself, Clockstoppers 2? I mean its basically in the same league. Even though this film marks the third time director Frank Coraci teams up with Adam Sandler, I still felt that I was going to be disappointed. When I got the chance to see it, I was pretty surprised that I actually found a pretty good movie.

Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) is a workaholic architect who has been putting his career ahead of his family. While at a Bed Bath & Beyond one night shopping for a universal remote, he meets a man by the name of Morty (Christopher Walken). It's Morty that ends up changing Michael's life with the gift of a remote that not only controls the TV and other household devices, but his own universe. Upon discovering the abilities of the remote. Michael begins to use it to fast forward through parts of his life that he doesn't want to wait around for. Such as fights with his wife and sex. As he does this the remote begins creating it's own memory and eventually starts to automatically choose what to fast forward through. Michael soon realizes the importance of spending time with his family.

The story of Click is an interesting one because it isn't really good. There are minor plot holes that become pretty noticeable when your watching it. The story isn't anything we haven't seen in the past. The climax of the film is pretty poor and pretty much obvious, but then again, I don't really see how they could have done it any other way. The story isn't too bad that you cant watch it, but its pretty distracting. It isn't bad, but its not good either. Id say its decent.

Whats an Adam Sandler movie without laughs right. Well, I can tell you that the movie is pretty funny...for the first half. There are many laugh out loud moments like this one scene where Sandler changes his bosses language to Spanish at a very important meeting. Half way through the movie, it stops with the jokes. The story becomes more serious and focused that there are hardly any jokes what so ever. This is kind of stupid because this film was marketed as a comedy and the trailers made it look like its funny as heck, but then during the middle of the film, all this drama kicks in and the jokes stop coming.

The music is pretty good. It captures the moments when the film turns serious and display this very good. The music is right where it should belong even the credits have pretty good music that fits the movie just right.

So with all this said, is Click still a pretty good movie to watch? yes. I was expecting this film to disappoint big time, but I actually kind of liked it. I mean sure the story ain't great, but its still watchable. It may not be the best Adam Sandler movie, but its pretty good. I do however must warn you that the Sandler fans hoping for some good laughs will probably ONLY enjoy the first half of the film as the second half is geared more towards drama fanatics.

Rating: 7.3 / 10

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Deja Vu Review

Deja Vu

Year: 2006
Director: Tony Scott
Starring: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, James Caviezel, Val Kilmer, Adam Goldberg
Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

Deja Vu marks Tony Scott and Denzel Washington's third collaboration together and it is not really the adrenaline charged, intense thriller that many were expecting from the "Man on Fire" director, but it is a very interesting film.

Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington), a dedicated ATF agent who must investigate the horrific terrorist bombing of a New Orleans ship, a disaster that cost over 500 lives including his very own partner. An intriguing FBI agent, Andrew Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer), recruits Carlin into his special task force, a team which scans the images produced by a futuristic surveillance device, capable of observing anything within a wide radius of four days and six hours into the past. Carlin decides that the most effective course of action would be to study a woman named Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton), whose murdered body was dumped in the water two hours before the actual explosion, meaning that her killer knew of the inevitable disaster and intended on passing her off as just another unfortunate victim. However, throughout her surveillance, Carlin receives the disturbing impression that Claire can sense that she is being watched, despite her life playing by four days and six hours in the past.

I felt Deja Vu's story was alittle bad. I mean the opening intro took off to a good start, but then it kind of got alittle hectic. If you looked at the actual trailer for the movie, you wouldn't suspect that this film is actually about time travel. When you look at movies that have had time travel experiences, you would see that there aren't alot of movies that can incorporate that factor into a movie without the film being bad. The only one I can think of that pulled this of really good was the 1985 success, "Back to the Future". I mean a machine that can look into the past 4 days, but also send you there? It just doesn't go well together. People aren't interested in seeing time travel movies since their have been a billion films just like that in the past. With all this said, Deja Vu is still pretty entertaining. The timing and paste is perfect and really interests the viewer making them wonder whats going to happen next.

The acting is sub-par and nothing too special. It isn't bad, but it isn't great either. You wouldn't expect a 2 time Oscar winner like Denzel Washington to be playing a role in this film, but none the less hes in it. Denzel gives a performance that really isn't up to his standards especially after coming off a great film like Inside Man. He still pulls off the cop like character that is Doug Carlin, but anyone can notice that hes not really trying. The other actors are the same and I don't know if its just me, but in certain scenes, Jim Caviezel looks high off his ass. Maybe its just me.

The thing that really shines in this movie is its music. I mean the dialogue is crisp and clear, but also very straight forward. The beats and strong music really makes this film worth watching. In some scenes, its really heavily focused on the action and intensiveness of that moment. It really makes the film a whole lot better hearing it especially on surround sound.

In the end, Deja Vu is just another action thriller that has what its going for, but loses it during transition. Its not perfect, but its pretty entertaining if your open to some action that doesn't really have a strong story, but makes up for it in its intense moments. Deja Vu could have been alot better, but some how it lost it when it went back in time.

Rating: 7.0 / 10

Monday, December 17, 2007

King Kong Review

King Kong

Year: 2005
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black, Colin Hanks, Andy Serkis
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

When there was word that Universal Pictures was doing a remake of the classic "King Kong", I was kind of excited. I mean I never saw the original even though I knew what King Kong was, but what made me more happy was that Peter Jackson was doing it. I mean the director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy is making a King Kong remake? It almost made me faint because I became a huge Lord of the Rings fan once I saw Peter Jackson's take on J.R.R. Tolkien's epic trilogy. I personally would have not seen this remake if it weren't for Peter Jackson's name being flashed upon in the trailer and neither would anyone else. The people have trusted Peter Jackson so much that this film was a box office smash, grossing over $500,000,000 worldwide, but was the movie any good? In short answer, yes.

Struggling actress, Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), who is being faced by the New York depression era. After having lost her acting job, she encounters ambitious film maker Carl Denham (Jack Black), who is desperately seeking a woman for a role on his next film. Carl lures Ann into accepting the role when he informs the actress that his film is written by New York play writer, Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody). The actress accepts Carl's offer and sets sail on The Venture to a fateful destiny that awaits her. While working on Carl's film during their long sea voyage, Ann and Jack build a close, but loving relationship that is later tested when the blonde beauty is kidnapped by the natives of Skull Island who without thinking, sacrifice her to the mighty Kong. It is now up to the crew of The Venture to rescue the damsel in distress from the many horrors of the island.

The story is great and charming. Peter Jackson creates a world that's full of detail and love. The chemistry between Ann and Kong is amazing, he shows us that a raged beast like Kong can be gentle and loving at times. Jackson also doesn't show us the mighty beast until 1 hour into the film, teasing the audience and keeping the excitement going. He follows the same foot steps as veteran Steven Spielberg when Mr. Spielberg didn't show us the great white shark in Jaws until later on.

The acting is great and everybody does their job pretty well. I mean you would think a funny man like Jack black wouldn't fit in this movie, but he proved me wrong. Naomi Watts does a wonderful job as Ann Darrow, I couldn't imagine anyone else playing her part. This movie would have been something else if it wasn't for Peter Jackson's passion for this film. His love for Kong and creativeness for the movie makes this a great film.

The special effects for the film is outstanding. From the detail in the leafs on the trees to the furriness of Kong is amazing. Even the facial expression Kong has is so touching and surprising. The T-Rex battles that Kong encounters during the film is breath-taking. Everything just goes the way it should be. If there is one movie out there that you should see in high def on HD DVD, its definitely King Kong.

The music in the film is lovable. The sweet melody that comes and goes is a daring touch. It makes the movie so much enjoyable that with these intense action scenes that there is moments where everything is pretty calm. The music really makes the film shine so much more.

What ultimately brings King Kong down is its length. By all means, this is not a short film. Clocking in at 187 minutes, King Kong can get alittle tedious. The people at the theatre felt it when this film was in theatres and even I felt it. I'm sure there are ways that King Kong could have been slimmed down, but I don't think it would have given us the complete experience that we got in this 187 minutes.

So in the end, is King Kong a perfect film? no, but is it a great film? yes. What Peter Jackson did with Kong is give us 187 minutes of dialogue, action and love. It showed us that he not only was great with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but that he can do other things too. I think King Kong was a great remake to the 1933 classic and I cant wait to see what Jackson is cooking up next.

Rating: 8.0 / 10

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Eastern Promises Review

Eastern Promises

Year: 2007
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Naomi Watts, Jerzy Skolimowski
Distributor: Focus Features
MPAA: Rated R

As my first movie review for this blog, its going to be Eastern Promises. This is Director David Cronenberg's follow up to "A History of Violence." I didn't get the chance to see A History of Violence or any other Cronenberg film except his 1986 film, "The Fly" which I thought was an entertainingly good film.

This time around, Cronenberg brings us into the world of the Russian crime organizations in London. We are taken there by Anna (Naomi Watts) a sweet girl, as she looks for relatives of a 14 year old girl who dies in childbirth under her care. The girl leaves a diary written in Russian which leads Anna into trying to translate just whats in the diary. Through Anna, we meet the major players in that Russian underground: a calm restaurant owner and crime boss, Semyon (Armin Mueller Stahl), his disturbed son (Vincent Cassel) and their strange, but secretive driver Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen). With this story as background, the movie proceeds to dive right into the action of this well written script where these characters live their everyday lives.

The acting is very top notch. Armin Mueller Stahl was once nominated for Best Supporting Actor in "Shine", but I haven't really seen him in a film before. This is a showcase role for him and in my opinion, enough to get him another nomination at least. Vincent Cassel does his thing too adding this film with his other powerful films such as the 1998 Elizabeth and the 2002 Irréversible. Naomi Watts downplays her great role and lets the actors outshine her, yet she is wonderfully effective in her own way. But the star of the film is really Viggo Mortensen. He is really convincing as the strange and confident driver who climbs up the ranks in the Russian mafia. He was as effective in all of his scenes including a rough, but bloody bathhouse scene near the end where he is completely nude, which to my surprise didn't distract me one bit. He is also very genuine in his scenes with Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel. As if he knows when he senses trouble, but can also show sincerity and concern.

The film's blue overcast atmosphere blends in amazingly well. The buildings and cars look wonderful in scenes where they appear. The timing and location keeps the films gritty, but stylized look.

This film is not going to be easy to watch. The blood and violence is very high which is surprising since the trailer for it, obviously didn't show enough. But being a very interesting trip down the Russian underground and the high quality acting makes this a great film. My only complaint about the film would be its ending. I mean by all means, it isn't a bad one, but its certainly short. This film could have easily gone on for 20 more minutes to say the least. I mean the 1hr 40 minutes of this film just isn't enough, it could have finished off real nicely if given the extra time.

Rating: 7.8 / 10