Tuesday, May 27, 2008

REVIEW: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Year: 2008
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

People have been asking director Steven Spielberg for 19 years about another Indiana Jones movie. The fans around the world were somewhat split between liking the idea of another Indy film or just letting this franchise end. I myself wasn't sure which to pick. Isn't Harrison Ford too old now to return as Indy? Will Sean Connery return as Indy's dad? All these questions kept popping up in my head. I mean I thought the ending in the Last Crusade was great and a nice way to end the series. On the other hand, I was kind of excited if we ever saw Indy return again. Well after many many scripts and many years of waiting, Indiana Jones IV is a reality. Spielberg was quoted many times saying he made this film for us. After waiting for 19 years, the film finally opened wide last Thursday and it opened big. The movie has grossed an estimated $311 million worldwide in only 5 days and shows no sign of slowing down.

Plot Outline:
It is the year 1957, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and his friend Mac McHale (Ray Winstone) find their situation compromised in the Roswell desert. Soviet agents, led by psychic Irana Spalko (Cate Blanchett) force them to help locate the whereabouts of a mysterious artifact. Indy manages to escape their clutches and get back to Marshall College, where he learns that he must take an indefinite leave of absence as he's now feared of being a communist sympathizer. When heading for his next destination he's greeted by a young man by the name of Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who asks Jones to help him search for Indy's old friend Harold Oxley (John Hurt), a researcher who had once found a crystal skull of unknown origin in the mountains of Peru. Mutt desperately needs Indy's help, informing him that his mother Marion (Karen Allen) has been kidnapped by those seeking the skull, in a bid to unlock its secret powers and put an end to the cold war. It is up to Indy to rescue Marion, find Oxley and stop the Russians from using the crystal skull.

Plot:
If you were waiting 19 years for another Indy film and walk into this film expecting to be blown away, then your going to be disappointed. The plot is engaging, but not to the level that's going to wow you every minute. Their are some plot holes that really bug you especially if your a fan. Half way through the movie, the story seems to fall apart. Any true Indiana Jones fan will admit this. I want to state the fact that this is an Indy film. That means Indiana Jones looks for things that stay in contact with his world and his time. So the introduction of "BLEEP" (cause I don't want to spoil it for you) is plain wrong. It doesn't go well with the universe that is Indiana Jones. I cant believe this is what they decided on. I'm happy to say that this is still an entertaining movie. The characters are the same as before and Indy is still great as ever. I'm glad the writers kept the humor aspect of what made the Indy films so charming to watch. The stunts and traps are back too. We have alot of traps that Indy encounters through out the movie. Their are also alot of nice references to the past Indy films and this is just wonderful to see. I thought the ending for the movie was also pretty nice. Its not as epic or memorable as the ending in the Last Crusade, but its still pretty nice.

Cast:
Harrison Ford returns one last time as Indiana Jones. For his current age, I was really surprised on how well he performed. He gives a great performance as Indy and I'm just happy to see him back. It takes alot to do the stunts that Indiana Jones does and I'm really surprised Ford did most of it. Karen Allen reprises her role as Marion Ravenwood. Now I have raved about how I enjoyed the character of Marion Ravenwood as a female role in the Indy films more than other girls in the Indy film. She just always that personality that I can always seen beside Indy. With that said, I'm very happy to see Karen Allen back once more in this film. Shia LaBeouf plays as Mutt Williams, I found his role in this film to be alittle enjoyable. His character wasn't annoying or dumb. We also have Cate Blanchett playing as Irina Spalko and here's the part where I really smiled. Blanchett gives a fantastic performance that I very much enjoyed. One look at her character and you can see her playing in an Indy film. I really really enjoyed her performance and thought it was one of the best she has given.

Picture:
We all know that the Indiana films have been these low budget movies that make the special effects look decent. The past Indy films have been mostly done by hand in the visual effect department. Here, most of the effects are digital. Meaning, they can do whatever they want with it. The Indy films have always been about making things look real, not using digital tools to do that. Since the movie has come out a good 19 years after the Last Crusade, the films source is in excellent condition. I wasn't able to detect any grain even though Spielberg didn't shoot the film with HD cameras. Colors are much more vibrant this time around. Their are alot of scenes that feature some beautiful colors that pop at you. The film has many great outdoor scenes that really showcase the movies bold colors. Detail is exceptionally strong. This is the best an Indiana Jones movie has looked. The special effects look wonderful, but they also kind of ruin that Indy feel we have all come to expect. The CGI isn't used heavily like some other films today, but it still their and kind of changes that Indy experience.

Sound:
The soundtrack in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is better than the films story. John Williams who has scored the past Indiana Jones movies and other big hits like Star Wars and Superman, returns once again to score this film. Although most of the music in this film is music that we have heard before, but that's not a bad thing considering that old music sounds better than ever. That same great Indy theme we have all come to love is back and it sounds fantastic. Their are other orchestral work that goes around during the movie, but its Indy's theme that gets the most attention. For a movie like this, bass is seriously needed and I'm happy to say it delivers. I complained about the past Indy films needing remastering in their audio quality because their bass wasn't strong enough, but that's taken to a whole new level here. The bass is full of nice and loud surrounds. I swear, the theater rocked during the explosion scenes. Dialogue is also great with alot of voices sounding clear and clean.

Conclusion:
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a good film. The story is pretty good and starts off strong, but half way through, the story starts to fall apart. Their are some scenes that I would have changed or taken out simply because they ruin the movie. The cast is great with many familiar faces returning to give great performances. The visual effects although impressive is too much digital and not enough simple things. The soundtrack is bombastic, that same Indy theme song has never sounded this good. So in the end, is Kingdom of the Crystal Skull really something we Indy fans have waited 19 years for? Simple answer is, no. It may not be as epic as Raiders or great as the Last Crusade, but I happened to enjoy this movie more than I did Temple of Doom. This is still an Indiana Jones movie and that still means your going to be entertained. I would recommend this to the people who have seen the previous Indy films, but I warn you that Its not as great as It could have been.

Grade: B-

Sunday, May 25, 2008

REVIEW: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Year: 1989
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Denholm Elliott, Alison Doody, John Rhys-Davies
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

What surprised me is would people even care for another Indy movie since Temple of Doom wasn't all that great and fell short at the box office compared to Raiders of the Lost Ark? The answer: yes. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade not only beat the record set by the first film, but it also got positive reviews from most critics around the world. Director Steven Spielberg said that he only made the Last Crusade for two reasons. Reason one was that he wanted to complete the three picture movie deal he made with writer/producer, George Lucas. The second was that he wanted to deal with the criticism he got for the Temple of Doom. Fans who were left bitter from the Temple of Doom aren't going to be disappointed here. Like I mentioned with the previous reviews for the previous Indy films, I've only seen this trilogy late last year so I was still pretty new to it.

Plot Outline:
It's the 1930's, the Nazis are after Indiana Jone's Father, Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery), for his little diary that contains maps to an object that is wanted by both parties, the Holy Grail of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) tries to help his father to find the Holy Grail in which his father has spent many years trying to find. The Nazis learn of this and kidnap Henry Jones, in their hopes to find the Holy Grail themselves. Indiana sets out in hope to find his father, who is now missing, but when Indiana Jones receives the diary in the mail, he sets out himself to fulfill his father's dream of finding the Grail. With the help of Dr. Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott), he sets off to the temple at Alexandetta, where the Grail is supposedly located.

Plot:
Like every trilogy of a movie, the first film in the trilogy ends up being the better one with the other ones getting mediocre by each film. That's not the case with this film. Last Crusade is filled with fun moments and actually has a story that's easy to understand. While being the third one in the trilogy, this film is actually the sequel to Raiders which was the first film and Temple of Doom was a prequel to Raiders. Yes, the Nazi's are back. Yes, the traps are back. This was one of the things that Temple of doom lacked and I'm glad their in this film. Everything that was missing in Temple of Doom is here. The story is nicely crafted and has some of that creativity that captured my eyes when I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark. The characters are funny than ever and we get a strong connection between Indy and his dad. Sure the story might have that father and son type thing, but it works well especially since their also on a journey to find the Holy Grail. The movie also has a great ending. I was alittle on the fence with the endings to the previous films and thought they could have been alittle better, but The Last Crusade has a wonderful and memorable ending that really puts a close on this trilogy.

Cast:
Harrison Ford returns once again as the adventure seeking Indiana Jones. He gives a great performance like he did in the previous Indy films. I still to this day have not found anybody that could play this part better than Harrison Ford. Its just something he was born to do. Sean Connery plays as Indy's father, Professor Henry Jones. He too gives a great performance. I loved his funny charming lines and he brings a freshness to this series. Him besides Ford is just perfect. I'm really glad Connery was chosen to play as Indy's father. Denholm Elliott plays as Dr. Marcus Brody and hes a pretty good casting. He does turn out to be alittle dumb in the movie, but I think that's just his character hes playing. Alison Doody plays as Elsa Schneider and shes hot as hell. She does a pretty good job playing the female role in the movie and Id definitely take her instead of Kate Capshaw, but she also fails in comparison to Karen Allen. Their just isn't anybody that goes well with Indiana Jones than Marion Ravenwood.

Picture:
The films budget has been increased by an extra $20 million compared to Temple of Doom and this has resulted in better effects. Just like the previous Indy films, the films source is in pretty good shape, but it does contain grain here and their. Its not too distracting like some of the grain I have seen in other films. The colors are much improved from Temple of Doom. The colors aren't dark like they were in Temple of Doom since most of the scenes are outside in daylight. Detail is improved from Temple of Doom and much cleaner than Raiders. Some of the close up shots look nicely detailed. Their are still some occasional soft shots, but their mostly far away shots. Still this looks mighty good for a film that's now 19 years old. While the Indiana Jones trilogy has been released on DVD along time ago, it was only recently that Paramount decided to release them individually for a special edition version. Those special edition releases have the same picture quality found on the older box set release. This is really disappointing because it's in need of some remastering especially in high definition.

Sound:
The soundtrack in the Last Crusade is equally impressive as the films story. John Williams who composed the score for the past Indy films returns once again to score the Last Crusade. That same great score he composed as the main Indy theme is back sounding much more better. He also makes other music for the film that go so well with the films story. The music is much more engaging than Temple of Doom and really gives you that feeling like you don't want to leave your seat. While the films score is great as ever, like the previous Indy films, the bass isn't all that great. For an action packed movie like this, the bass should have rocked my socks off, but it doesn't. While we still get some bass work, it just isn't as strong as I would have hoped for. This doesn't seem like its the movies fault, but rather a poor encoding onto the DVD. This still has a great soundtrack that really brings this film to life, but It could have sounded much more better had Paramount remastered the sound in 5.1 DTS.

Conclusion:
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a great movie and one that completes the Indiana Jones trilogy. I'm really happy to know that the last one in the series goes out with a bang. The story is great and better than Temple of Doom. The cast is also great with many of the characters from the previous Indy films returning. The visual effects are really good for a movie of its time. The soundtrack is a blast to listen to. The Last Crusade sounds fantastic. So in the end, is the Last Crusade the best Indy film out of the series. In my opinion, no. Raiders of the Lost Ark still keeps that rein, but the Last Crusade comes a dead second. The film is much better than Temple of Doom and is still an entertaining movie just like the previous films. I know some of you were left bitter with the story of Temple of Doom, but trust me. The Last Crusade wont disappoint. Its a great film with a great ending to a great trilogy.

Grade: B

Thursday, May 22, 2008

REVIEW: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Year: 1984
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan, Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG

It was inevitable that the Indiana Jones series would continue with more movies to come. After the first film came out and managed to grab $384 million worldwide, it was only a matter of time before Paramount would green light a sequel. Apparently, it took 3 years for Temple of Doom to come out with shootings and pre-production. It was hotly anticipated and was something fans were waiting to watch. When the film released, it grossed an estimated $333 million worldwide on a budget of $28 million. While the movie definitely passed it budget, it fell short of $51 million compared to the first film. The movie also received some mixed reviews though most were positive. As the same with Raiders, I wasn't able to watch Temple of Doom in theaters because I was still growing up and was too little to watch this.

Plot Outline:
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is back once more who crashes into India after a highly enjoyable Shanghai club brawl. Along for the ride is sidekick Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) and noisy Nightclub singer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw). They end up in a village struck by hardship and famine when their magical sacred stones called the Sankara were stolen by an evil Thuggee Cult. Indy and gang end up trying to save the village, as well as fighting against a wily bunch of evil worshipers and an evil cult leader named Mola Ram (Amrish Puri). Its up to Indy to peace back to the village and stop this evil cult.

Plot:
The first film in a trilogy is always the best out of the three. That same philosophy is apparent here too. While this movie is known as a sequel to many because its the second Indiana Jones movie released, its actually a prequel. The events in this film are before those found in Raiders. The story isn't as imaginative and creative as the first film. The adventure isn't as epic or huge as the one in Raiders. While their are a ton of action scenes that make this a worthy sequel, it just isn't as focused as the first film. I loved the Nazi side of the story in the first film, but here that's missing. While this is still a good story for the movie, its just not as great as the one Raiders had. Jones is back and great as ever, but some of his cast members get pretty annoying and distract you from the story. I praised the first film for having great and creative traps, but that's almost gone here. We get a few traps here and their, but their not as great as the ones in Raiders. The stunts on the other hand are easily as impressive as the previous film. The ending just like Raiders is good. Its nothing shocking, but its what the audience would expect.

Cast:
Harrison Ford returns as the famous adventure seeking Indiana Jones. He does a great job just like he did with the first Indy film. Hes also more open this time around and more funny. Hes probably the only good casting in this film. Kate Capshaw plays as Wilhelmina 'Willie' Scott and she is terrible when you compare her to Karen Allen's Marion Ravenwood from the first film. Kate Capshaw's character is just too annoying and not funny at all. I really missed the character of Marion. The chemistry she and Indy had was really strong so its a shame shes not in this film. Jonathan Ke Quan plays as Short Round and this is the worst casting in this whole film. I cant believe the writers wrote this kid in because hes pointless. He isn't needed and is easily the weakest aspect of the film in my opinion. We also have Amrish Puri playing as Mola Ram and hes really good. This is the second great casting behind Ford. Puri does a nice job acting his character out. His look and voice is is just great for his character.

Picture:
Just like Raiders, the films source is in pretty good shape, but their is grain here and their. Its nothing that's going to distract you alot. Colors are pretty saturated with with an orange tint. While Raiders was a colorful film, Temple of Doom is sort of dark. Their are alot of scenes that are mostly at night or in bad lit areas. Detail is improved from the first film due to the budget being alittle more, but that doesn't mean its going to knock you off your socks off. Close up shots look really good and detailed, but some far away shots can look soft. The special effects look pretty good for a movie of its time. While the Indiana Jones trilogy has been released on DVD along time ago, it was only recently that Paramount decided to release them individually for a special edition version of each of the three films. Those special edition releases have the same picture quality found on the older box set release. This is really disappointing because it's in need of some remastering especially in high definition.

Sound:
The soundtrack for Temple of Doom is just as impressive here as it was in the first film. John Williams who composed the score for the first Indiana Jones movie returns here to score this film. I was really impressed with the score he did for the first film and that same score is present here too. Williams also composes other music for the films story. It isn't was great as the movies score, but it makes the movie feel so much better. While the movies score is fantastic, its bass isn't too great. Just like Raiders, the bass seems alittle outdated. A movie like this is suppose to sound smashing with great rumble effects, but it just doesn't. The bass is still their , but its not full or loud enough. This isn't the movies problem, but rather the poor DVD encoding. This still has a great soundtrack, but It could have sounded much better had Paramount remastered the sound in 5.1 DTS.

Conclusion:
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a good movie and entertaining just like Raiders was. The story is fun to watch, but it falls short if you compare it to Raiders of the Lost Ark. The cast is good, but some of the characters can get really irritating. The visual effects are much better than Raiders, but that doesn't mean much. It still has some soft spots and really does need a remastering. The soundtrack is impressive and just as epic as it was in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Like the picture quality, the music would have sounded better if it was remastered. Temple of Doom is a fun movie that's suppose to be the sequel to Raiders when in fact, its actually a prequel. The story is fun and all, but it doesn't match that of Raiders. The whole movie feels alittle bit rushed. I still enjoyed this movie and can recommend this to those who have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark. I may not be as great as Raiders, but its still entertaining.

Grade: C+

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

REVIEW: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark


Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Year: 1981
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies, Ronald Lacey
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG

Raiders of the Lost Ark came out after Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was another bold effort from director Steven Spielberg and one that worked perfectly. When Raiders release, it drew in alot of crowd. People were excited for this film simply because Spielberg was behind the directors chair and many were eager to see what new things he brings to the table. So when the film released in the summer of 1981 its no surprise that it was a box office hit. The film grossed an estimated $384 million worldwide on a budget of only $18 million. It made more than enough to warrant sequels, but Ill talk about that another time. The movie was also was well received by many critics averaging an 80% on rotten tomatoes.

Plot Outline:
It's 1935 and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is a professor of archaeology. Jones is a globe hopper who has a unique talent for acquiring rare artifacts. Jones' talents come to the attention of U.S. Army intelligence, who just happen to require a little assistance. It seems that Hitler and his Nazis have set out to recover the long lost Ark of the Covenant. According to legend the Ark will bring incredible power to those who possess it. To find it first, Jones goes to to Nepal to claim an ancient medallion that is said to point out the location of the Ark. Jones' problem is that his ex-girlfriend, Marion (Karen Allen), has it and she isn't so sure she wants to give it to her heart breaker. This changes when a Nazi named Toht (Ronald Lacey) shows up threatening her for the same medallion. Jones rushes in and temporarily saves the day leading to Marion becoming his partner as they travel to Cairo, the site of the dig, to win the race to the Ark.

Plot:
The story of Raiders of the Lost Ark is fantastically entertaining. Raiders is almost 27 years old, but that doesn't change the fact that the films story is still a blast to watch even to this day. The movie has a wonderful plot that's filled with twists and action. The movie starts off with an intriguing introduction that shows Indy moving through the jungle with some other people. Don't let this be a problem because a good 6 - 7 minutes into the film, the movie picks up. I couldn't find one person that annoyed me or got in the way of the story. Whats another plus about the movie is that its got very elaborate stunts and traps. This is what Indiana Jones has been know for, the traps. Their all made wonderfully and are very creative. I was amazed on some of the things that go down in this movie. I also thought the ending to Raiders of the Lost Ark was nicely done. I wouldn't go as far as to call it impressive, but it works. Spielberg surprised me and the many fans out their when he directed this film. His directing and imaginative thoughts really makes this film a home runner. This film is nothing more than pure enjoyment and one that really works.

Cast:
The cast of Raiders of the Lost Ark is just as impressive as the film's story. I found everyone to be perfect in this film. I hardly ever mention a film's cast ever being perfect because I always find something that bothers me, but I looked hard and found nothing wrong. Harrison Ford plays the smart and talented Indiana Jones. He does a fantastic job in his role and gives the audience the enjoyment they so deserve. I honestly cant imagine anyone else filling Indy's shoes rather than Ford. Karen Allen plays the beautiful Marion Ravenwood. Her character is so perfect next to Indy and the two of them have great chemistry together. Paul Freeman plays the evil nemesis Dr. Rene Belloq. I'm happy to say its three for three because this guy gives an enjoyable character. Playing opposite Indiana Jones isn't an easy task, but he certainly delivers. His smart and witty dialogue really pays into the story. We also have John Rhys-Davies playing as Sallah and I really liked his work here. I have never enjoyed this much from a cast of a movie since Pulp Fiction.

Picture:
The visual effects in Raiders of the Lost Ark are pretty great. The films source is pretty good for the most part although I did notice grain here and their, but its nothing that's going to get in the way too much. Colors seem very saturated and kind of orange at time, but I think that's mainly to do with the films dessert settings. Detail seems good, but can also be pretty disappointing. Their are some occasional soft looks to the image. The special effects on the other look pretty great for the most part. For a movie that came out in 1981 and had a budget of only $18 million, the effects look wonderful. Some of the effects do look alittle clunky at times, but I cant complain. While the Indiana Jones trilogy has been released on DVD along time ago, it was only recently that Paramount decided to release them individually for a special edition version of each of the three films. Those special edition releases have the same picture quality found on the older box set release. This is really disappointing because it's in need of some remastering especially in high definition.

Sound:
The soundtrack of Raiders of the Lost Ark is utterly fantastic. The films epic score is composed by John Williams who also composed great films such as Star Wars and Jaws. I honestly cant say anything bad about the music. I have praised Williams in the past for his beloved talent in coming up with some of the best scores I have ever heard for movies and he manages to surprise me once again. This is something people will remember Indiana Jones for. While the score is near perfect, the films bass isn't all that great. Again, I don't think it has anything to do with the movie itself, but rather the poor encoding on the DVD's. A film like this should have mopped the floor with anything else, but it just isn't as loud and full as I would have hoped for. This still has a great soundtrack, but It could have sounded much more better had Paramount remastered the sound in 5.1 DTS.

Conclusion:
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is an outstanding film. It introduced us into this universe of Dr. Jones, an archaeologist that goes out looking for adventures. This is a great film that worked really well in 1981. The story is imaginative and creative while being fun along the way. The cast is perfect with everyone giving a great performance that's sure to please you. The visual effects look wonderful for a movie of its age with bright colors and with occasionally fine detail. The soundtrack is amazing with John Williams impressing me once again with a score that's surely to be remembered. I cant say I have had this much fun with a movie in along time. Its full of laughs and excitement that makes for one hell of a ride. I was more than entertained with this movie and I can highly recommend it if your looking for some fun.

Grade: A-

Thursday, May 15, 2008

REVIEW: Along Came Polly


Along Came Polly

Year: 2004
Director: John Hamburg
Starring: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing, Alec Baldwin
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

I was bored this one day and decided to go see a movie. I looked online to see if any good movies were out that are worth watching and I stumbled upon Along Came Polly. I checked the trailer out online and it looked pretty funny. It was the only thing that looked like it was worth the time watching so me and my friend went. I really wasn't expecting much from this movie, but it actually turned out pretty good. My friend and I enjoyed the time and thought the movie was pretty funny. Apparently I wasn't the only one that saw the movie because Along Came Polly did pretty decent in theaters. It grossed an estimated $172 million worldwide on a budget of $42 million. It definitely made its budget and plus more. I usually enjoy Ben Stiller movies and this wasn't any different.

Plot Outline:
Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) is an insurance risk manager who finds his new wife Lisa (Debra Messing) cheating on him with a scuba instructor named Claude (Hank Azaria) after only one day on their honeymoon. Upon returning home Reuben and his best friend Sandy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) go to a party and run into Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston) whom they went to school with years earlier. She lives an extremely different life then him, but he feels that the relationship with Polly would work.

Plot:
The story of Along Came Polly is pretty average at best. While I did comment above that I enjoyed the movie when I saw it in theaters, but that doesn't mean the movie doesn't have flaws. I found the plot to be alittle too skeptical and not something you can really take seriously. While the story does have some fun scenes and the movie starts off pretty nicely, but I just couldn't dig the story too much. It felt alittle weak in my opinion. Its not engaging and doesn't let the audience into a story that's better than some of today's comedies. That being said, the movie is still pretty damn funny. Its so funny that I sometimes forgot about the decent story and payed more attention to the jokes. The characters that we get introduced to are all funny and enjoyable to see perform. Everybody has a funny line here and their that makes this movie pretty enjoyable. This might not be funny and good like Ben Stiller's Meet the Parents, but its still a comedy that just about any teen or adult could enjoy.

Cast:
The cast of Along Came Polly is pretty good in a way. I wasn't expecting this movie to have alot of high profile names in the movie, but I guess I was wrong. Ben Stiller plays as the main character of the movie, Reuben Feffer. He does his usual thing and its very much enjoyable. He seems more open and not afraid to do something stupid to please the crowd. This is something I find pretty funny. Jennifer Aniston plays as Polly Prince and she in my opinion is probably the weak point in this movie. She just doesn't look like shes really trying hard enough. I enjoyed her roles in Bruce Almighty or in the popular TV show, Friends. Its just that she seems kind of misplaced or something. I'm pretty sure someone else could have done her role much better. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays as Sandy Lyle and hes just hilarious in this film. He gets the job done and really looks like he belongs in this movie. I very much laughed at his parts especially when he kept missing those basketball shots. We also have Debra Messing playing as Lisa Kramer. Now she does a decent job in her role, but her role isn't that big anyway. Shes mostly in the beginning of the movie and alittle bit near the end, but she does an OK job in the parts we see her in.

Picture:
The visual look of the movie is solid. This movie is only 4 years old so the source is in great shape. I didn't notice any grain, but maybe that's just on my TV. The movie has many outdoor shots that look really nice and clean. Colors are on the soft side with some sharpness to them. While they are not as colorful as I would have liked, they do the job well. Although some scenes are alittle muted in terms of color. Detail is also on the good side with alot of shots looking wonderfully detailed. Close up shots look very solid and crisp. I did notice some slight edge enhancements that become alittle visible during the interior scenes. While this movie looks pretty good, its nothing that's going to blow you away. I have seen much better work then this, but this movie is still solid enough to watch and enjoy.

Sound:
The soundtrack in Along Came Polly is also a solid one. The music is composed by Theodore Shapiro who also scored Old School. The movie doesn't really have its own score, but has music that comes off really good. A typical comedy like this is bound to have different music here and their and it does. Their are various music ranging from pop to country and these all sound good with the story. I'm happy that this movie has many music playing in the right places that just gives this movie some leg. Bass is slightly on the downside with not much to pump out into your system. A comedy film like this is not bound to have aggressive bass so I'm not going to mark it down for this. Dialogue is done pretty well. Its much clean and clear as it should sound.

Conclusion:
Along Came Polly is a pretty entertaining flick if your just looking to have fun, but if your looking for some serious memorable story than this wont be it. The story is pretty good, but it has flaws. I didn't find it to be realistic and I couldn't get in to it, but it does have funny moments that will crack you up. The cast is pretty solid and everyone is funny, but I'm sure Jennifer Aniston could have given a better performance. The visual look of the movie is great for the most part, but its not something that your going to be blown by. Its better than most comedy movies today. The soundtrack is very good with alot of music here and their even though the movie doesn't have a memorable score. I walked into Along Came Polly to have fun and I really did. Sure the story isn't special, but the movie is just funny that sometimes I tuned out of the story and payed more attention to the jokes. So if your looking for a movie just to have a good time and not focus too much on the story then I can recommend this movie to you. Its not the best Ben Stiller movie, but its still funny.

Grade: C-

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

REVIEW: The Matrix Revolutions


The Matrix Revolutions

Year: 2003
Director: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

The Matrix Revolutions was shot back to back with The Matrix Reloaded which is why it took 4 years for it to come out. After I had seen The Matrix Reloaded in theaters and saw the cliffhanger ending, I wanted to see Revolutions to finish off the trilogy. I thought it was smart for the Wachowski brother's to film this and Reloaded back to back so we don't have to wait much longer to see the series end. The Matrix Revolutions grossed an estimated $424 million worldwide on a budget of $150 million. While the movie certainly passed its budget worldwide, it fell short of about $314 million compared to Reloaded. Now, I knew how Revolutions was mostly going to end since it was mentioned in Reloaded, but that didn't stop me from going to see it.

Plot Outline:
Picking up right were we left in Reloaded, the machines are about to breach Zion, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is in a mysterious coma stuck between the matrix and the real world, Zion's defenses are being prepared and finally Bane (Ian Bliss) awakens, but in a very hostile manner. When Neo awakens, he realises that he has to confront the source of the matrix and finally confront Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) if Zion and all the people are to survive. While he and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) both go to the Machine City, the others; Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Link (Harold Perrineau), Niobi (Jada Pinkett Smith) and the crew of the Hammer go back to Zion to help its defenses. Inside the dock of Zion, its an all out war. The machine diggers have breached the walls and thousands of sentinels are ready to kill all its inhabitants.

Plot:
After reviewing Reloaded a couple days ago, I already knew what was going to happen in Revolutions. I think this was a big problem that the Wachowski brother's made a mistake with. They made it so obvious on how Revolutions was going to end. This in my opinion was the biggest reason for Revolutions somewhat average box office numbers. That aside, the plot is much darker this time around. Revolutions is the darkest in the trilogy probably because its the last in the series. Sure we get a huge Smith vs. Neo fight scene at the end, but It doesn't come close to the awesomeness that we got when Neo was fighting 100 Smiths in Reloaded. When you usually see a Matrix movie, you obviously get left with unanswered questions, but Revolutions really pushes this with parts of the story that are not even explained. You would have had to seen the Animatrix and have played the Xbox game, Enter the Matrix to fully understand the plot elements in Revolutions. The ending in Revolutions is pretty good and conclusive, but I would love to see an alternative ending in a future ultimate special DVD edition.

Cast:
Mostly everyone from the second film returns for this last and final film in the illustrious Matrix trilogy. Whats even better is that most of them give great performances. Keanu Reeves returns once more as the main character Neo. He gives a very good performance that very much makes up for the decent one he gave in Reloaded. Laurence Fishburne also returns as Morpheus and he too gives a good performance. The bad thing about his performance here is that his character isn't used much. He had much bigger roles in the previous films, but their somewhat limited here. Carrie-Anne Moss reprises her role as the sexy Trinity and she too does a great job in her role. She gives a more believable performance here than she did in Reloaded. Hugo Weaving also returns as Agent Smith. He gives a performance that puts the one he gave in the first 2 films to shame. I thought he was the star of the show and really marked the first time I have seen him give an above average performance.

Picture:
The visual effects in The Matrix Revolutions are just plain phenomenal. I have never seen such a movie that blends such cool artwork, background and detail in the machines together. I raved about how great Reloaded looked, but Revolutions is a huge step up from that. Just released 5 years ago, the movies source is in great shape and really clean for a movie like this. Since the movie is much darker than the first 2 Matrix films, the color palate isn't something to brag about, but it does have moments where the color truly shows its vibrancy for example the 2nd half of the movie when the machines attack Zion. Detail is pretty outstanding and much improved from Reloaded. Detail on Neo's face is just outstanding. This upscaled on a very good DVD upconverter can easily be mistaken for a High Def release. I have said it before on previous Matrix films and Ill say it here again, The Matrix Revolutions is an easy contender for being one of those titles you cannot miss on High Def. I cant imagine how amazing this movie can look on High Def if it already looks this damn good on DVD.

Sound:
Composer Don Davis who scored the first 2 Matrix films returns once again to create a powerful score that really shows that this movie means business. We don't really get an great music from Rob Dougan though since we don't have too much epic fight scenes that we had in Reloaded. Although some music from him would have totally rocked this out, but even without it, the music is still great. We get some mixed music mostly when Neo fights Smith, but whats their is great. Bass sounds even more fuller than ever. I have praised the Matrix films for having amazing bass usage and this one is no slouch. The bass in Revolutions sounds even better than the previous films. Watch out Cloverfield because Revolutions easily tops yours by a milestone. I noted that Reloaded had some quite dialogue in some scenes, but Revolutions hardly has anything that's quite. This soundtrack is easily a solid one and easily demo material.

Conclusion:
The Matrix Revolutions is the epic conclusion to the Matrix trilogy. It wraps up this story that started in the first Matrix. While the story is good, its got flaws. Its too predictable and it leaves out information that becomes crucial to fully understand the story of this universe. I also think their could have been an another ending made. The cast is be all means great and they really shine in this movie compared to the previous films. Hugo Weaving really puts on a performance that's going to surprise you. The visual effects of the movie are just flat out amazing. This movie stands even to this day as one of those movies that really showcase how far technology goes. The soundtrack easily matches the visuals and is definitely something I would use to demo my surround sound. I'm somewhat happy and saddened by the end of the Matrix trilogy. It might not be as imaginative as the first Matrix or have insane fight scenes like Reloaded, but its certainly enjoyable.

Grade: C+

Monday, May 12, 2008

REVIEW: The Matrix Reloaded


The Matrix Reloaded

Year: 2003
Director: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

After being in development for 4 years, The Matrix Reloaded is finally a reality. After the successful first film in 1999, It was only a matter of time before we got the inevitable sequels. I loved the first one and while I was watching it, I just didn't want it to end. So when I heard that the sequels were in production and after laying my eyes on the very first teaser for the films, I was seriously about to have a heart attack. I waited patiently day by day for the movies release. The more trailers that Warner Bros. threw at me, the more hyped up I got. I marked my calender and made this the most anticipated movie of the year. Well the wait was definitely worth it because The Matrix Reloaded was a box office smash hit grossing an estimated $738 million worldwide on a budget of $150 million.

Plot Outline:
Neo (Keanu Reeves) had proven himself to be The One destined to free the human race from the Matrix, an artificial intelligence that has most of the population unknowingly trapped in a dream world. Those who escaped the fantasy settled to a city called Zion, where they're in preparation for a war against the invading machines. Neo still has his doubts, but none are shared by his lover and companion, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), nor Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), the man who discovered him. But Neo, curious to discover what further action he should take, heads into the virtual world to search for the Oracle, who tells him to search for the Keymaker. Meanwhile, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), formerly one of the Matrix's prime enforcers, has become a rogue program, slowly taking over the system with an interesting reproducing technique. Now the machines are digging and it wont be too long before they reach Zion.

Plot:
After reviewing the first Matrix only a couple days ago, I knew that the Wachowski brothers have set the bar too high for this sequel to triumph its predecessor. The plot in the film is much more deeper than the first film. Their were alot of un-answered questions in the first film that get answered in this film. The first one was great, but it didn't really give us alot of detail and Reloaded really excels in this area. We now know more about the Matrix than we first knew. The films tone also is alittle more darker in this sequel. The characters are much more matured in this film. We get introduced to too many characters that it tend to leave some people alittle confused on whats really going on. Their are many big scenes in the movie, but none is bigger than the fight between Neo and 100 Smiths. If their is a downside to this movie, its that the movie ends with a surprising cliff hanger. A cliff hanger that no one saw coming, but one that really leaves the audience hanging.

Cast:
Mostly everyone from the first film return in their roles and I'm happy about this because I would have seriously not gone to see this movie if Neo or anyone else was played by someone else. Keanu Reeves reprises his role as the main character Neo and he gives a good performance. I wasn't generally impressed with his performance here compared to the first one, but its still pretty good. Laurence Fishburne returns as Morpheus and he does a good job in his role. He gets a much bigger role in this film and gets to talk more than he did in the first film. Carrie-Anne Moss reprises her role as the sexy leathered Trinity and she does a good job in her role as well. She definitely has a much bigger role in this film compared to the first one and shes more close to Neo than ever. Hugo Weaving returns as the sinister Agent Smith and he gives a great performance. I very much enjoyed his performance in the first film, but I always felt he didn't give it his best. He certainly shines in this sequel.

Picture:
Whether its the fight scene between Neo and Agent Smith or the intense car chase near the end, this movie looks fucking amazing. With a 4 years gap between the first one and this film, the technology definitely increased. I can honestly pick about any scene in the film that I would use to demo off to friends. Zion looks absolutely breathtaking. Their are more slow motion sequences that look great and much more polished this time around. Having release much later than the first film, the movies source is much more cleaned up. The films color palate looks more darkish greenish rather than the blue overcast we had in the first film. Just like the first film, I couldn't detect any grain. Detail is also on the plus side with the film looking quite good on this DVD. I said it with the first film and Ill say it with this one too, The Matrix Reloaded is something you should definitely keep your eyes on when it eventually hits High Def.

Sound:
Composer Don Davis returns to score this sequel and it sounds great. I already thought the score he composed for the first film was great, but it sounds even better here. Theirs also more music he created for The Matrix Reloaded and they all sound wonderful. For those who enjoyed the Rob Dougan music you heard from the first will be pleased to hear that there's even more music from him in this sequel and believe me when I say this, their all great. They usually appear during fight scenes, but the music matches so well with the fighting that I couldn't care much. Since their is more action this time around, the bass gets used more thus resulting in some serious house shaking rumble. The bass is so crisp and loud that it makes watching the movie oh so sweet. Dialogue in this film is slightly on the downside. While its not as bad as you might think, but it certainly could have been much louder.

Conclusion:
The Matrix Reloaded is a great sequel to the 1999 smash hit, The Matrix. The story is good and much more deeper than the first film, but it doesn't capture that same feeling I had watching the first film. The concept of agents chasing you isn't used much since now Neo is "the one". The cast is great for the most part, but Keanu Reeves could have been alittle more excited for this film seeing as how it helped his career alot. The visual effects are hands down amazing. It makes the first film look like child's play. The soundtrack in Reloaded is much more engaging than the first film with the score returning and sounding better than ever. The bass work is also very impressive and easily gets my vote for being demo material. I knew from the start that this movie wasn't going to be better than the first film, but that doesn't mean I don't like it. I give my props to the Wachowski brothers for giving their best and making this film a worthy sequel. I can recommend this movie to anyone who's seen the first film.

Grade: B-

Friday, May 09, 2008

REVIEW: The Matrix


The Matrix

Year: 1999
Director: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Marcus Chong
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

The year 1999 had a great selection of movies that really gave people a run for their money. From Toy Story 2 to Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace to The Sixth Sense, the year was full of great movies, but none was as groundbreaking and revolutionary as the mega popular hit "The Matrix". The movie opened peoples eyes to slow motion special effects and awesome fight scenes. I believe this was the first motion picture to feature extensive slow motion effects that are now widely used today because of this film. Now everyone I talk to mentions The Matrix when I bring up things about slow motion. The film also did great at the box office grossing an estimated $460 million worldwide on budget of only $60 million. Their was no doubt that their would be sequels, but will get to that another day.

Plot Outline:
Thomas A. Anderson (Keanu Reeves), exists as a software program writer by day and as Neo, an infamous computer hacker, at night. Following his curiosity and the instructions of Trinity (Carrie Anne Moss) a lady in black leather, Neo is lead to Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne), the leader of a small band of freedom fighters. Danger lurks in the form of Sentinels and Agents, both programmed by The Matrix to seek out and destroy free human life. Under the guidance of Morpheus, Neo begins to explore a life of dual existence, discovering the truth about himself and the surrounding world. He learns that life as he knows it is simply a computer program called The Matrix, made by Machines to keep human beings-their sole power source-in check. Machines have ruled the real world since the early 21st century and now a small group, the only humans to awaken from the Matrix, are leading a revolution against the sadistic mechanical beings.

Plot:
Their is a reason why I have seen this movie more than 9 times and its not because they had a marathon going on. No, its because of the story. The plot has so many interesting levels to it that I can sit here all day telling you how great they are. The idea of this world created to blind us from reality, reality that the world we know of is not real is just mind boggling. The thought of being chased by agents and trying to find an exit out of the Matrix is also very cool to see. The story doesn't drag and only goes deeper and deeper giving you more answers. Off course the movies doesn't give you ALL the answers that your looking for, but honestly what movie does? The characters in the movie are all very likable too. The movie doesn't just make Neo the only person in the movie that enjoyable to watch, but rather other ones too. The movie also doesn't let the audience be bored as it contains some of the best fight scenes I have ever seen. The fights that go on are very well choreographed and exciting to see. I dare someone to tell me that they didn't enjoy watching Neo fight Morpheus in the training room. The more you dig deep into The Matrix, the more you get out of it. Just like the slogan, "The Matrix has you".

Cast:
Keanu Reeves plays as the main character Neo and he gives a good performance. I thought he was a good casting for the role of Neo. He looked the part and very much acted like it. I just cant imagine anyone else playing this part than Keanu Reeves. Laurence Fishburne plays as the famous Morpheus and he too gives a good performance. He looked and sounded very much how Morpheus should sound. Just like Keanu Reeves, I cant possibly imagine anyone else playing this part than Fishburne. Carrie-Anne Moss plays the leather lady Trinity and shes just perfect for this role. This movie really launched her career into stardom. She looks very sexy next to Neo and I'm glad the studio went with her and not some other girl. We also have Hugo Weaving playing as the intelligent, but crazy Agent Smith. Hugo gives a great performance here and I really enjoyed his work on this movie. His Smith character is an interesting being and someone that really plays a crucial role in this film. I'm happy to inform you that he has a much bigger role in the sequels.

Picture:
The visual effects of The Matrix is just jaw dropping. The movie features muted colors that aren't very colorful, but still have some color to them. The movie is also dark and somewhat gritty with many of the environments sectioned indoors. The special effects look wonderful and it amazes me to see the budget on this film is only $60 million. I cant imagine how much more amazing it could have looked if they had more money. Thankfully the sequel does and again, Ill get to that another time. Their doesn't seem to be any grain and the movie looks as if it were released just last year when in fact its nearly 9 years old. The Sentinels also look very wonderfully done. They have a very creative look to them that makes them seem very dangerous. Detail is pretty remarkable on this DVD and I think Warner Bros. did this film justice because it looks marvelous. This is easily demo material and is something you should watch out for in High Def.

Sound:
The music is composed by Don Davis who also composed the Wachowski's Bound. He does a great job scoring this movie because The Matrix has a very engaging score that makes it a killer when combined with the films story. I was very pleased with how well everything transitioned from one scene to another with the score being just as great each time. The score isn't the only music we have as we also have other music from people like Rob Dougan, Rage Against the Machine and many more. The music particularly the ones by Rob Dougan are very impressive and well used. They make the movie look and sound so cool while keeping up with the action. Great music by Dougan folks, you should definitely check them out. What kind of movie would this be without some hard bass usage and in short answer, nothing. This movie was meant for heavy bass work and you can right of the bat tell when the movie starts. Bass is really loud and very full. This is easily demo material for your surround sound.

Conclusion:
The Matrix is a movie that everyone has to see at least once in their life. If you haven't seen the Matrix yet, then you should be shot. The movie has a very fascinating story that engages you into this world that you may think is real, but it isn't. The cast is blooming with celebs that are more than worthy for their roles. The visual effects are astonishing and really eye candy to watch. I'm happy that this movie set a benchmark for special effects with its slow motion degree effects. The soundtrack easily matches the visual toe to toe with impressive music from Rob Dougan and the engaging score. Its bass work makes this demo material and something you can easily whip out to demonstrate to friends. The Matrix was great when it released in 1999 and it still is one of the best movies of all time. The Wachowski brother should be proud to have made a wonderful movie that really changed the way people make movies now. This is easily recommended by me if you love action packed movies with a great story.

Grade: A-

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

REVIEW: In Good Company


In Good Company

Year: 2004
Director: Paul Weitz
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Marg Helgenberger, Selma Blair
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

In Good Company is a movie I have been wanting to see for awhile now. I haven't known of its existence only until a couple days ago when I saw it airing on the USA channel. I immediately stopped myself from watching it because it was already half way through the movie and I didn't want to spoil the movie so I waited. I waited until the next day I rented the movie so I can view it from start to finish and write a review for it. Now In Good Company isn't your typical comedy movie. The movie actually did good in theaters when it released in 2004. Grossing an estimated $61 million worldwide on a budget of $15 million. It made more than enough to pay back the studio for its budget. Now being a pretty good Topher Grace fan from watching That '70s Show, it was only natural that I give this movie a look. After just having seen the film, I'm happy to say the movie turned out to be surprisingly good.

Plot Outline:
Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) is a middle aged ad executive who works for a sports magazine called Sports America. When the company is sold off in a corporate takeover, he is demoted to a lower position, now working under Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), who is half his age. Add to this the fact that his wife Ann (Marg Helgenberger) is expecting a child and his daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson) has switched from a relatively cheap college to a more expensive one while also dating Dan's boss Carter. Its become a rather stressful time in Dan's life.

Plot:
The story of In Good Company is surprisingly good. Even though I'm a Topher Grace fan, I honestly wasn't expecting too much from this film, but it delivered. Paul Weitz who directed the wonderful 2002 movie "About a Boy" hits gold again with this film. The movies plot is rather interesting. I thought the characters in the movie where very likable and enjoyable. From watching the first 25 minutes of the movie, it might give you the impression that its a pretty straight forward movie, but its surprisingly not. The final act is not what I had expected and the movie definitely threw a curve ball at me. While some might say the ending was good and conclusive, I'm still not sure on it.. I thought it was good, but I kind of wanted it the other way around where everyone is happy. I don't know, maybe because I thought the story was going that way. I'm sure people would have thought it to be predictable had it gone the way I wanted, but so what. I'm sure the movie still would have been great with or with out it. This is still a good movie and much better than I had originally expected.

Cast:
The cast of In Good Company is also quite good. Dennis Quaid plays as Dan Foreman who is the main focus of our film. He does a good job in his role and I very much enjoyed his performance. I thought he was great casting for this movie. Topher Grace plays as Carter Duryea and he too does a good job in his role. I really thought he wasn't going to fit too well with this cast, but I was convinced he was. He gives a very energetic performance that I haven't seen since his days on That '70s Show. Scarlett Johansson plays as Alex Foreman and she gives an average performance. Its nothing special like the one she gave in Lost in Translation, but it still works. We also have Marg Helgenberger playing as Ann Foreman and she does a pretty decent job. The only problem is that she isn't in many scenes so its kind of hard to judge her, but the scenes shes in are good. Overall, I thought the cast was good in every way. I really enjoyed every ones performances and thought they did a good job in their roles.

Picture:
The visual look of In Good Company is kind of a mixed bag. Being now only 4 years old, the movies source seems clean to me. The movie definitely has that look where it makes you think it was filmed yesterday or something. I wasn't able to detect any film grain, but I could be wrong on this one. Colors seem alittle muted, but I think that's the way director chose to shot the film. The only problem with this DVD version of In Good Company is the damn edge enhancements. This tries to make the film more detailed and sharp. This sometimes works with old films, but if its applied too much, it becomes very visible and ugly. Now I have seen other film that had edge enhancements on them, but this is probably the worst of them. Its really a shame because this is a wonderful film that I would have loved to see in great condition. Now the movie doesn't look bad as in its unwatchable, but it doesn't look as good as it could have been.

Sound:
The soundtrack in In Good Company is pretty great. The music is composed by Damien Rice and Stephen Trask. I wasn't able to notice a score that the movie has for its self, but it does contain many other music that sound wonderful all together. I wasn't expecting the music in this movie to be good or go with the movie, but I was really happy that it does. Its mostly a mixture between some rock and some melody's. A movie like this is not the right choice to demo your bass. Its not going to blow your socks off with its bass because it hardly has any. A film like this isn't meant to have a full blown bass system like Cloverfield so I cant say I'm disappointed. The film does have some clean dialogue which is a good thing since this is a heavily dialogue film.

Conclusion:
In Good Company is a wonderful film that I actually enjoyed. Its one of those films that you keep in your DVD collection and watch it when you feel like it. The story is smart and interesting although I wish their was an alternative ending filmed so I could compare which one I like. The cast is good with everyone fitting their roles nicely and giving enjoyable performances. The visual look of the movie is pretty good, but is plagued with edge enhancements that are very noticeable to some degree. The soundtrack doesn't contain any score for the movie, but it does have alot of songs that go well with the movies story. I walked into this movie expecting nothing much, but I found it to be surprisingly good. I enjoyed it very much and will stay close to my collection. I recommend this movie to those who are interested in these types of movies or those who have a day off and is willing to give this a try.

Grade: B-

Thursday, May 01, 2008

REVIEW: Southland Tales


Southland Tales

Year: 2007
Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mandy Moore, Justin Timberlake
Distributor: Sony Pictures Entertainment
MPAA: Rated R

After the cult popular hit Donnie Darko, people were expecting director Richard Kelly's next film to be another great hit. In enters Southland Tales. Grossing an estimated $366 thousand on a budget of $17 million, Southland Tales wasn't the type of film the studio thought it would be. It also wasn't well received by critics too, with many of them criticizing the movies story to be too complex and un-interesting. To me, this was something that kind of got me to watch the film. I like to watch movies that alot of people complain about because I would like to know if I would feel the same. Out of ten people I asked, one said they liked it, five said they didn't and the other four didn't even know about it so this only got me more tempted. Since I enjoyed Kelly's Donnie Darko, I thought I owe it to myself to gamble and give this movie a chance, but now I regret it so much.

Plot Outline:
Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson) is an action film superstar who is married to Madeline Frost (Mandy Moore), the daughter of Senator Bobby Frost (Holmes Osborne) and wife Nana Mae (Miranda Richardson), who hopes to use their development of the USIDent programs Bobby's ticket to the White House as the Republican vice presidential candidate. A couple of days earlier, Boxer disappeared into the desert. It transpires that Boxer, now with a case of amnesia, is currently with Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar) a porn star with whom he has co-written a screenplay about the end of the world that appears to be accurate about whats going to happen.

Plot:
The story of Southland Tales is terrible. I walked into this movie expecting much more, but I was seriously let down. The plot goes no where and is full of shit in my opinion. At times, it can be really complex with one event happening then another coming out of nowhere. This makes focusing on one part extremely difficult because we are getting introduced to new things that we cant really pay attention to one thing without looking away. Writer and director Richard Kelly just couldn't convince me this was a movie that's worth watching. After watching the movie and trying to follow the story, I just couldn't believe this was the guy who made Donnie Darko, a movie that I very much enjoyed. The characters in the movie are also a let down. I couldn't find one person that I liked or enjoyed watching for more than two minutes. Everyone just seems whack and lacks emotion. I know their are some out their that might have enjoyed this movie and believe in Kelly's vision for the movie, but I'm certainly not one of them.

Cast:
The cast of Southland Tales is just as bad as the story. Its as almost everyone plays two roles instead of one and we get a cast full of SNL people that hardly go well with the films mood. Dwayne Johnson plays as Boxer Santaros/Jericho Cane. He portrays a character that seems way to of a coward to be writing a screenplay about the end of the world. I see him more of a action star rather than a quite scared writer. Seann William Scott plays as Roland Taverner/Ronald Taverner. He also doesn't give the performance I was expecting from him. Now, I know Scott isn't the best actor, but he can try to be when he really tries. In this movie, it doesn't look like he gave his best effort. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays as Krysta Kapowski a.k.a. Krysta Now and she seems so plain. She feels so plastic with no emotion. I know she was suppose to be playing as a porn star in the movie, but come on. This is just sad. Mandy Moore plays as Madeline Frost Santaros. I cant believe shes in an R rated movie like this when her role isn't even as big as it should have been.

Picture:
The visual look of Southland Tales is probably the movies best strength. While I can complain about its complex plot or the poor casting, but the visual look of the movie is something that I cant really pick a bone with. The movie benefits from pristine source since the movie was released only a year and a half ago. Their is some grain, but I'm pretty sure that's the directors intent and not the quality of the DVD. Detail is very good with alot of close ups looking nicely clear and full of rich color. The movies color palette is somewhat interesting because a futuristic movie like this shouldn't be color friendly just look at I, Robot, but surprisingly it is. The movie has pretty bold colors that seem well saturated and well used. The movie also features some wonderful cinematography with alot of the outdoor shots looking beautiful.

Sound:
The soundtrack in Southland Tales is not as impressive as the visual look of the movie, but its certainly much better than its story. The music is composed by Moby who is a popular artist that made one of my favorite songs ever, "Extreme Ways". Since Moby isn't really use to composing music for movies, his soundtrack doesn't live up to be all that memorable. I mean its still good, but its hardly anything that's going to blow me away. Dialogue is heavily used in this film and it was important for that aspect of the film to be really good and clear. Luckily it is and I'm happy to say the dialogue is as crisp as a razor blade. Bass is somewhat on the low side, but it certainly their. Its nothing that's going to bring your neighbors down to complain at you, but it definitely gets the job down. I do however wish it was alittle more stronger and fuller, but that's just me.

Conclusion:
Southland Tales is definitely a film that I was really let down by. I haven't seen a film this bad since the 2006 film, Ultraviolet. While this movies isn't as bad as Ultraviolet, its still in the same ballpark. The movies story is too complex to fully understand even if you re-watch it as many times as you want. Its definitely not in the same league as Kelly's 2001 hit, Donnie Darko. The cast is a joke and everyone will most likely annoy you. Justin Timberlake narrating the movie doesn't help either. The visual look of the movie is great with alot of shots looking nicely detailed and filled with color. The soundtrack is good for the most part, but isn't something that's really memorable.Their are some people that have had a different experience with this film than I did and they ended up liking it. I for one don't recommend this movie to those expecting an action packed movie with a good story. It wasn't my cup of tea and I'm sure it wont be yours either.

Grade: D-