Saturday, June 28, 2008

REVIEW: Wanted


Wanted

Year: 2008
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Thomas Kretschmann, Common
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

Wanted is a movie that I have been craving to see. Ever since that first teaser for the movie, I was stoked for it. You know their are some trailers that you can just tell if the movie is going to be good or not, by what you see in the trailer. There are some that can be misleading, but then some are accurate. This was the one that was accurate. After awhile, Universal released a couple more trailers and the film kept looking more and more interesting. The Matrix type style of fighting mixed with tons of action just made me want to melt in excitement. Its been awhile since The Matrix impressed people with its high technology of fighting and slow motion scenes. I was hoping that Wanted comes and keeps that idea still fresh while creating new ones.

Plot Outline:
Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is an office worker who does not know how to stand up for himself. Wesley's life just seems to be a complete waste, until one night a mysterious woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie) rescues him from an assassin. Fox takes Wesley back to meet her leader, and here Wesley learns that she is a member of a secret Fraternity of Assassins. At the Fraternity's headquarters, Wesley is told that he possesses all of the powers to be in the Fraternity and is convinced by the Fraternity's leader Sloan (Morgan Freeman), to become an assassin. Once Wesley begins his assassin training, he learns that his father was an assassin as well, and that he was killed by the rogue assassin Cross (Thomas Kretschmann). Upon learning this Wesley begins to train harder in order to avenge his father.

Plot:
Wanted is surprisingly deep and good. The movie is loosely based on the comics "Wanted" by author Mark Millar. I searched online to compare the movie to the comics. While the movie does a good job on what made the comics so good, it also changes a few things. I don't want to discuss this when people can search online for comparisons. As for the story, I really enjoyed it. There are many scenes that make you think "oh my god, that was cool" and these are really fun to see. The film starts out with a guy jumping through a building and you might laugh alittle after seeing this, but what this does is give you the feel of the movie. It makes you a custom to the high flying stunts, by letting you witness one in the beginning. You might think some of the scenes can be alittle over the top, but so what. This is based on a comic and shouldn't be taken seriously just like Spider-Man. The plot does drag alittle and the story could have been explained alittle more clearly in a sense that the whole audience can understand, but these little hiccups get overshadowed by the action. The movie also comes with a twist ending that will surprise people who haven't read the comics. I haven't had this much fun watching a movie like this since The Matrix days.

Cast:
The cast for Wanted works really good. James McAvoy plays as Wesley Gibson and he does a great job in his role. McAvoy has done movies like The Last King of Scotland and Atonement in the past so its really nice to see him doing an action packed movie like this. I really enjoyed his work here and wouldn't replace him for anybody. Angelina Jolie plays as Fox and shes just plain good. Shes very sexy in her role and has that right charm of playing someone as rough as Fox. She also looks good next to McAvoy. Morgan Freeman plays as Sloan and hes also good. His character seems to match his voice and charisma perfectly. I couldn't find anything bad about Freeman in this movie. Thomas Kretschmann plays as Cross, but he doesn't really say much in the movie even though hes in it for like the first half and alittle bit of the second. Still, his certain look and natural voice makes him a good choice to be playing Cross.

Picture:
The visual look of Wanted is very straight forward. The movie doesn't feature so many CGI effects like Transformers, but it does have enough to make the action surreal. The movies source is in good shape with only a few grain in some scenes. Colors don't tend to have that vibrancy to them, but are still good. The film has many scenes during the night making the colors seem muted and dark. Blacks are nice and inky. Detail is also good, but not great. Close up shots have good detail in them and reveal alot. They aren't up to the top like I might have wanted, but they still look good none the less. The CGI in the movie seems pretty right and is only used in scenes that really require it. The animations look precise and seem to act like they should. This isn't a movie that's going to blow you away, but it still looks pretty great.

Sound:
The sound design in this film is bombastic. The score is composed by mastermind Danny Elfman who also scored the first two Batman films. His score for this movie is done really well and the music just goes well with the movies theme which is to be baddass. Not only that, but the bass is also done with great attention towards it. The action scenes just explode with thundering bass. There even their when McAvoy's character is having stress attacks. The last 30 mins of the movie is just roaring with cleaver sound that the theater was shaking. This easily marks as demo material and is something I would love to hear with loss less sound. Dialogues are clean and clear to the point where you can hear everything everyone is saying.

Conclusion:
Wanted is a mindless action packed experience. It sets itself to be just baddass and in many ways, it does. The story is based on Miller's Wanted comic and it does a good job of capturing most of his essence from that comic. Its not exactly the same as the comic, but it comes close. The cast is good and their talents really show. I thought everyone gave a good performances that should let the audience down. The visual look of the move is clean and sharp. Its not the best looking movie ever, but its still a good looking movie. The soundtrack is filled with many dazzling bass. Its loud and definitely demo worthy in my opinion. I really enjoyed Wanted and thought it was entertaining. The movie is fun and full of crazy moments. I would recommend this to people who love action movies or just looking for a movie that's going to be worth your theater money.

Grade: B-

Thursday, June 26, 2008

REVIEW: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift


The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Year: 2006
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Lucas Black, Bow Wow, Brian Tee, Nathalie Kelley, Sung Kang
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

Although 2 Fast 2 Furious was successful in terms of money made, the movie in general feel short of the first film. The cheesy dialogue and weak story overshadowed the awesome cars and slick races. Universal Pictures decided to give the series another go after 2 Fast 2 Furious did well at the box office, but they didn't just want to make another one with the same faces and new cars. No, they wanted to start fresh and really focus on the story. In comes Tokyo Drift, a film that carries the logo, but introduces new characters. Now, I personally didn't mind this after the bad result that was the second film. I thought starting over and giving us fresh new faces was the only way to keep this franchise going, but I was going to miss some of the characters from the previous film. So when the movie opened in theaters during the summer, people thought it was pretty good. They obviously liked it better than the second film, but thought it fell short in comparison to the first.

Plot Outline:
Sean Boswell has been in trouble with the law for awhile. Hitting his third strike when racing through a construction site, he's shipped over to Japan to live with his father. Instantly on the wrong side of everything, it's not long before he's back into the racing world, introduced to a different style of racing; drifting. After losing his first race in Japan to DK, a Yakuza type gangster, he is taken under the wing of drift guru Han who helps him greatly. He also falls in love with Neela, who is the girlfriend of DK. Sean must learn to drift if he ever wants to make it to the top.

Plot:
The story of Tokyo Drift is pretty good. Ill admit that I was disappointed in 2 Fast 2 Furious because the story was just weak. Going into Tokyo Drift, I wasn't expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. The plot is also very different compared to the previous films. Theirs no going undercover this time and no FBI. Instead we focus on the main characters struggle to learn to drift and gain respect to reach the top. Their are some cheesy dialogue like any other film in the series, but it isn't blown out of proportion like the second film. While the story isn't perfect and has some minor plot holes, it definitely comes in a close second with the first film still being the best. But like I said with the previous films, these type of movies aren't meant to be taken seriously because in the end, its the cars that count and Tokyo Drift doesn't disappoint. We get a good amount of street racing with exotic import cars that all look really nice. We also get some good explosions and great car crashes.

Cast:
The cast for the movie is also good. Sure we don't get anyone from the previous films coming back for this movie, but what we have here isn't bad by all means. Lucas Black plays as Sean Boswell and hes the main character for this movie. He does a good job in his role and gives a much better performance than Walker did in the second film. Bow Wow plays as Twinkie and hes like Boswell sidekick in a way. He surprisingly does a pretty good job and wasn't distracting like I thought he would be. Brian Tee plays as DK and hes a good choice opposite of Boswell. I thought he gave a good performance here and one that felt good to watch. Nathalie Kelley plays as Neela and I think she gives a better performance here than Eva Mendes in the 2 Fast 2 Furious. Shes pretty hot and fits the movie nicely. I felt the cast in this film gave a better performance than the cast in the second film and your in for a surprise at the end. When I said we don't get anyone from the previous films returning here......I kind of lied.

Picture:
The previous films looked great and truly demo worthy for a DVD. That trend continues here because Tokyo Drift looks wonderful. Being the newest one in the series, Tokyo Drift benefits from a clean source. Their wasn't any grain and everything looked nicely clean. Colors are alittle darker this time around. Tokyo is no Miami and most of the film is during the night. Still the colors look great and the city of Tokyo is lit very good. Lights and building all look good and have color popping out. The color black is very inky the way it should be. I felt like I was watching the game Project Gotham Racing 3 the movie. Detail is great and the city is very much alive. Everything has nice textures in clean form and it looks great. Cars show alot of detail with every single one of them looking awesome. This is another demo material from Universal and one that looks really good for a standard def DVD.

Sound:
The soundtrack in this film is just as great as the picture. The score is composed by Brian Tyler who also did Constantine. I wasn't really blown by the score in the second film and I feel mostly the same way in this film too. I still think the first film had the best score with this film coming in second. The film also has many other music playing through out the movie. These music are mostly consisting of rap and hip hop with alittle more hip hop. They sound good and fitting for this movie, but I think the music is alittle too much in this film. The bass is no disappoint and its just as great as the previous films. Cars driving and crashing roar with the bass and it really is something to behold off. Its nice and dynamic with that special "kick" in it. Its definitely something that's going to put your system to the test. This is easily demo worthy for someone trying to test their surround sound.

Conclusion:
I really wasn't expecting anything after the disappointment that was 2 Fast 2 Furious, but I was pretty surprised. I thought this movie was better than the previous film, but comes a close second compared to the first film. The story feels more real and is something new for the series. The cast is good and doesn't leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. The visual look of the movie is just as great as the previous films, if not more cleaner. The soundtrack is good although the music feels like its been used too much. Bass is top notch and easily makes this demo material. I enjoyed this movie for what its worth, which is a car smashing mindless action ride. I hope the fourth film in the series which is planned to release next year, stays on this path. Id definitely check this film out for fans of the series and those who want some entertainment on a boring Sunday afternoon.

Grade: C

REVIEW: 2 Fast 2 Furious


2 Fast 2 Furious

Year: 2003
Director: John Singleton
Starring: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, James Remar
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

After the success of The Fast and the Furious, it was only natural that a sequel was going to get made. The only question that was to be determined was if the sequel was going to be better than the first film. Now typically, you all know that sequels for movies tend to go downhill and end up being worse than the original. Now not all sequels are bad, I'm looking at you Terminator 2 and Spider-Man 2, but most of them are. That brings up this movie, a sequel to one of the most car racing entertainment fest of all time "The Fast and the Furious". The sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious ended up being another box office hit, grossing over $235 million worldwide for a movie that cost less than $80 million to make. The only problem was, people criticized the movie for its story. Which really isn't a surprise since I knew it wasn't going to be better than the original.

Plot Outline:
Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) has been thrown off the Los Angeles police force, due to his actions from the first movie. He is now spending his free time street racing in Miami for the thrills and the cash. However, that doesn't last as he is arrested by his former boss and says he will clear O'Connor's record if he takes another mission and get the goods on Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), a gangster working with Cuban babe Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), who's also an undercover cop. It won't be an easy task and Brian needs help, so he enlists former friend Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson). It is up to Brian and Roman to bring Carter down before its too late.

Plot:
The story in 2 Fast 2 Furious takes a step back from the original. The movies plot isn't flushed out enough and is filled with some plot holes. I complained in the original saying that the story was pretty good, but had to be more robust. The sequel doesn't even do that and continues the problems the first film had while making more. I was left with unanswered questions when the movie was over. Now I don't mean to act like the movies story wasn't simple because it is. Its just that I didn't find it to be better than the previous film. I mean the story is easy and just about anyone should understand it, but its just not good. On top of that, the movie has some of the cheesiest dialogue I have heard in awhile. Its just terrible and really distracts you from watching the film. Now I did say it was alittle unfair to judge this movie solely on its plot when in fact, its main strong point is its entertainment. Now even though I didn't like the story and thought it was a let down compared to the first film, I did happen to enjoy the car chases.

Cast:
The cast for the movie is somewhat of a let down because most of the characters from the first film don't return. Paul Walker reprises his role as Brian O'Conner. While I liked him in the first film and thought he suited the film right, I think hes bad in this film. His acting just isn't on par with the first film even though hes more relaxed this time around. Tyrese Gibson plays as Roman Pearce. His character made me laugh a few times here and there, but his acting was just as bad as Walker's. He doesn't convince me that hes really acting. Eva Mendes plays as Monica Fuentes and shes pretty sexy in this film, but even that doesn't help her from the bad acting we get. I just wasn't impressed with her performance here. We also have Cole Hauser playing as Carter Verone and I think he gives an average performance here. Its still bad acting, but alittle more interesting than the others.

Picture:
This is a great looking film and also demo worthy of a DVD. The films source is in great condition and we hardly get any grain that was present in the first film. Colors are fantastic and very vibrant. Miami looks simply outstanding with its colors just popping out of the screen. The film is much more colorful than its predecessor mostly because almost every scene is shot in daylight, but even at night, the neon's on the cars look nicely done. Skin tones are accurate and have a warm feeling to them. Detail is really strong and it shows. Facial hair and expressions are full of clarity. You can literally see almost everything on any ones face. Textures on everything are much more clean and focused on. The cars all look really good and very clean. You can spot just about anything on them. Their highly detailed and pretty amazing to look at. This is easily a top notch DVD and beats the first film because of the amount of colors used. Props definitely go to Universal for this one.

Sound:
The soundtrack in the movie is just as effective as the first film. The score is composed by David Arnold who also did Changing Lanes. Now, I didn't really like the score here compared to the one the first film had. I think they should have sticked to the one the previous film had and just re-tune it to suit this film better. That aside, the movie also features other music. These music are mostly comprised of some hip hop and rap songs. They all sound good and go with the movie. Just like The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious has some of the best bass usage ever. I raved about the bass in the first film and that trend continues here. This movie is just filled with great bass that it rocked my system. I would say its equally great as the first films. The sound department in this film is another winner and another demo worthy DVD.

Conclusion:
2 Fast 2 Furious was bound to crash with the director changing and most cast members not returning. The story isn't good and has some plot holes. It just isn't fleshed out more and the cheesy dialogue doesn't help either. The cast all look pretty right for their parts, but that doesn't help the fact that their acting is just bad. I wouldn't consider any of their performances to be memorable. The visual look of the film is simply outstanding and the vibrant colors make it more better than the first film. The soundtrack doesn't really have a good score, but the amount of music mixed in and the bass make up for it. This is easily another demo worthy DVD to show off your system. While the movie wasn't as good as the first film, its still fun and entertaining. I had just as fun and excitement here as I did in The Fast and the Furious. This is mostly recommended to fans of the first film and if you don't care for some mindless street racing.

Grade: C-

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

REVIEW: The Fast and the Furious


The Fast and the Furious

Year: 2001
Director: Rob Cohen
Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Rick Yune
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

The Fast and the Furious is what started it all. Street racing and car explosions were never really taken to the limit until this movie came out. If it wasn't for this series, you wouldn't be seeing exotic racing cars crashing into other cars which is what we all really want to see. The movie did great at the box office grossing an estimated $207 million worldwide on a mear budget of $38 million. It didn't stop there because the movie went on to become one of Universal Pictures best selling movie title of all time. I cant remember how many times the studio has released this movie on DVD with some in box sets. The movie became very popular that Universal green lighted two sequels, but also a fourth which is being planned to release next year.

Plot Outline:
Police Officer Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) goes undercover to investigate local street racer Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) who served 2 years in prison for racing. There have been hijackers robbing trucks of their merchandise and Dominic is the main suspect. Brian is on the case, but his judgment is clouded when he befriends Dom and falls in love with Dom's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster). It is up to him to make the right decision and end this case.

Plot:
I thought the plot felt alittle too simple and not enough. Don't get me wrong when I say its simple because it just means alot of people wont get lost. With that said, the movie also isn't very deep. Its pretty straight forward and I'm sure just about anyone should feel at home with it. I just wish there was more to the story because it is somewhat interesting. It just doesn't go deep and give us more character development. I can be alittle forgiving on the film's story because after all this movie wasn't meant to have a perfect story or even a great one. It was suppose to have exotic cars and sexy girls and god dam it, it does. The movie is full of some of the best and slickest cars I have ever seen. There all nicely customized and full loaded which really makes for some killer races. Not only that, but the girls in this film are as hot as ever. Seeing them by the beautiful cars really tend to make me jealous at time. I mean cars and chicks....what more can a guy ask for?

Cast:
The cast in this movie is mostly decent. Paul Walker plays as Brian O'Conner and I think he does an average job here. He certainly doesn't give a good performance like he did in Running Scared, but I still enjoyed his character for what he is. Vin Diesel plays as Dominic Toretto and he too gives a pretty average performance. However, I did tend to like his work here more than Walker and he too was also enjoyable to watch. Jordana Brewster plays as Mia Toretto and shes fucking hot in this film and as usual in person. I really thought her and Walker looked good together and had only some chemistry here and there. I still liked her in this film though. Michelle Rodriguez plays as Letty and shes also kind of on the average side. I just wasn't wowed by her work here, but like the others, I still enjoyed her character. Rick Yune plays as Johnny Tran and he too looks like hes not giving much work here. He still has that bad guy feel to him, but his character could have been more better.

Picture:
The visual look for this film is simply fantastic. I have read from many sites stating that this movie is easily demo material for a DVD and I cant argue with that. The movies source is in good shape, but has some small grain here and their, but its certainly not going to be distracting because overall, its pretty clean. Colors are very nicely lit and bold. The colors on some of these cars are just eye candy and make you wanna reach out to touch it. Skin tones are spot on and have a cool warm feeling to them. Detail is very strong with alot of textures being nicely seen. Close up shots of some of the cast members reveal alot of clarity. I can really see everything on sexy Jordana Brewster's face. Not only that, but the cars look even better. The cars look very real and just wonderful to glaze at. This is top notch by the guys at Universal and still stands as demo worthy even to this day.

Sound:
The soundtrack in the film is well balanced and good to hear. The movie has a nice score that is composed by BT. It sounds really good and matches whats on the screen. It even has some other music mixed in here some rap and some hip hop. This is a music focused film by all means and the music sounds real nice. The film also features some very aggressive bass. The sound of cars crashing and exploding as never sounded this good. My rear channels are put to great use because I can hear every car like as if they were driving right near me. This 5.1 set up easily rocked my system and is one of the best I have heard. Dialogue is also very positive and nicely clean. Every dialogue is heard without any hiccups. Its crazy to think that a 7 year old film like this still manages to impress me because this is also demo worthy.

Conclusion:
The Fast and the Furious is pretty damn entertaining. The story isn't deep and robust like I would have hoped for, but its still easy to understand. The cast doesn't give their best performances, but for some reason, I really enjoyed their work on this film. The visual look for the movie is easily demo worthy with alot of detail in the cars that make them look oh so good. The soundtrack has a nice score that goes with the movie and the film features some of the best bass I have heard in a car movie like this. I can literally hear every car screeching and turning, this is easily demo worthy and one that will put your system to good use. This movie wasn't meant to have a great story, it was meant to focus on cars and girls. To my extent, it did just that. I'm glad a movie like this came out because it really put the pressure on all those racing movies to step it up and match the awesomeness of this movie. This is definitely worth a look if your looking for some fun.

Grade: C+

Sunday, June 15, 2008

New Rating System Announced



I have been thinking of a new rating system that will replace the old one. As you all know, my blog is devoted to movie reviews for people to understand. I think switching from numbers to letters can help people to understand the rating system more easier. I have also divided the movie into 6 sections. Well more like 7 if you count the introduction to the movie. I have also decided to add some images of the movies being reviewed in the review. I have gotten a couple emails requesting this so here you go. I cant promise that every review will have pics of the film because some could be hard to obtain, but I will do my best. Starting now, upcoming movie reviews will be based on this new rating system. Old reviews will be slowly updated to go with the current rating system so please be patient.

Section 1: Plot Outline
This section gives a brief summary of the movie

Section 2: Plot
This area actually goes deeper into the story, explaining almost everything.

Section 3: Cast
This part talks about the cast of the movie. Who played what role and where they any good?

Section 4: Picture
This section discusses the visual quality of the movie. How does the movie look?

Section 5: Sound
This area dives deep into the sound quality of the movie. How does the movie sound?

Section 6: Conclusion
Gives you the final thought about the movie. Mentions some of the above sections to wrap it up.


Actual Rating

A+
A
A-

This is a must see. A fantastic film to experience and film making at its best.
_________________________________________________________
B+

B
B-
A Great movie that you should see even thought its not perfect. You will probably like it.
_________________________________________________________
C+
C
C-
An average movie that might be worth checking out if your really into these types of things.
_________________________________________________________
D+
D
D-
A mediocre movie that I don't recommend watching. You should probably skip it.
_________________________________________________________
F
Don't waste your time watching this garbage. Go do something else instead

Saturday, June 14, 2008

REVIEW: The Incredible Hulk


The Incredible Hulk

Year: 2008
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

Hulk fans around the world were left disappointed after the 2003 Ang Lee film "Hulk" bombed pretty badly at the box office. It looked as if we were never going to get a true Hulk film that people actually liked. That changed when Marvel and Universal started talking again. After the announcement that Edward Norton was replacing Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, I didn't know what to expect. I'm not a fan of recasts and this new Hulk movie didn't look like it was bringing back anybody from the first movie. Ang Lee was being replaced by Louis Leterrier who also directed Transporter 2 and Unleashed. Months later, we got our first look at the teaser for The Incredible Hulk. People complained about the movies visual effects criticizing it for looking uglier than the first film. I didn't say anything because I wanted to see the finished product before passing judgement. I knew this movie would be much better than the first Hulk attempt.

Plot Outline:
Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is in Brazil learning Portuguese while working in a bottling plant. He is on the run from General Ross (William Hurt) while trying to figure out a way to rid himself of the startling metamorphosis created by gamma radiation. He does this through the study of Eastern Meditations as well as scientific experiments aided by a mysterious "Mr. Blue" via the Internet. A clue leads Ross into finding Banner in Brazil. They dispatch an elite team with soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). Moving back towards the U.S., he reunites with Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). Blonsky takes a top secret serum that enhances his ability, although nowhere as close to what Hulk can have. He wants that power and chases Banner with more selfish motives.

Plot:
Director Louis Leterrier wanted to stay away from Ang Lee's story version and instead focus more on the TV show series "The Incredible Hulk". You can really tell the guys who wrote the screenplay were fans of the comics because there are so many references to the TV show and Hulk in general. The origin of the Hulk is mostly explained in the opening credits. Their are no flashbacks from the previous film and everthing looks new. This Hulk also looks like the Hulk in the comics. The Abomination is in the movie and he makes such a good opponent against the Hulk that its really fun watching the two of them going at it. The movie also has alot of cameos that are a joy to see. We get a cameo by Lou Ferrigno who played the original Hulk in the TV series, but also voices the Hulk in this film and one by the popular Stan Lee who created the superhero, but that's not all. By now, most of you have heard of Robert Downey Jr. having a cameo in this film as Tony Stark aka Iron Man. His appearance is at the end and I don't want to spoil it for you, but Its very thrilling to see him. Looks like The Avengers is definitely coming, HELL YEAH!


Cast:
Edward Norton plays as Bruce Banner/Hulk. He replaces Eric Bana and while I enjoyed Bana as Banner, I felt Norton did the better job. His comedic and smart performance makes him a good choice to be playing this character. Liv Tyler replaces Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross. I felt Connelly's portrayal of Betty Ross was much more meaningful. Tyler just doesn't come close to Connelly's Ross when you compare the two. Besides, Connelly looked way more sexy than Tyler. Tim Roth plays as Emil Blonsky who later goes onto turn into the Abomination. He gives a great performance that I really liked. He had me convinced he was this ruthless agent out to hunt Hulk and get his power. We also have William Hurt playing as General "Thunderbolt" Ross. He also replaces Sam Elliott and I thought Elliott did a great job as Ross, but I think Hurt does an even better job. Hes look and personality makes him a good choice to be playing this part.

Picture:
The visual effects in this movie are probably going to get the most criticism from. People kept saying the previous Hulk looked more real than this one. I didn't say anything because the movie wasn't finished yet and I didn't want to criticize something that wasn't complete. Than when I finally saw the movie in finished form at the theater, I was really impressed. The animations look nicely done and the fight scenes are wonderfully choreographed. The movie doesn't consist of any grain which comes to as no surprise since it a new release. Colors are very bold and somewhat muted. Its not vibrant like I would have hoped for, but it looks dazzling. Blacks are inky and dark like they should be. Detail is sky high with alot of clarity in peoples faces. Close up shots on Hulk or anybody else in the movie are highly detailed with everything looking great. This movie destroys the other Hulk in the visual department.

Sound:
Danny Elfman scored the previous Hulk movie, but this time composer Craig Armstrong is scoring this movie. Armstrong had previously scored other films such as Ray and World Trade Center. He does a good job here with his score and I liked it better than the one Elfman made. The music in this movie kind of mimics the ones in the TV series. This is good news for those who loved the TV show theme song because its in this movie too. With that all said, the movie doesn't feature a score that I really thought made this film stand out. Bass on the other hand, is just phenomenal. I raved about how the first Hulk movie had strong bass usage, but The Incredible Hulk takes it to another level. The heavy explosions and jaw dropping fight scenes just sound so perfect. This is now my favorite to demo my surround sound.


Conclusion:
The Incredible Hulk is a great movie that any superhero fan will enjoy. I found the story to be really entertaining and full of action. Its much more related to the TV series and the comics compared to Ang Lee's version. The cast is great with alot of them giving good performances. The visual effects are much more improved from the previous film. For those criticizing this movie for its effects, shut up. Lets see you render a 9 feet monster perfectly. The soundtrack is better, but is still lacking a good score that will set this movie aside from other films. The bass will rock you system and is much much more aggressive this time. Louis Leterrier did a great job directing this movie and I hope he sticks around for a sequel. This is the Hulk movie you fans have been craving to see. Marvel is 2 for 2 now. So how does this compare to Iron Man? well there both great. Id say Iron Man wins only by a feather because of the cleaner storyline, but Hulk kills it in the action scenes. Both are great films and Id definitely see both. HULK SMASH!

Grade: B-

Thursday, June 12, 2008

REVIEW: Hulk


Hulk

Year: 2003
Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte, Josh Lucas
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

The first time I heard of Hulk coming to the big screen was when I saw that lame teaser trailer. Now, I say lame because the teaser hardly showed anything and I know it was only a teaser, but I was expecting alittle more. Then slowly new things started coming along with some posters and a great trailer. It was than that I was alittle excited for this movie. Ill admit that I haven't read any of the Hulk comics, but I know enough of what the story is suppose to be. With all of this going, did Hulk turn out successful? short answer: no. The movie kind of bombed at the box office dropping by almost 70% in its second week out. The executives at Universal were expecting alot more from the big green machine yet sadly it didn't turn out the way they wanted it. The movie also received harsh reviews with most critics although some people kind of liked it. I still wanted to see Hulk despite the reviews because I love the character of Bruce Banner/Hulk.

Plot Outline:
Bruce Banner is
a well known scientist. Before he was born, his father David (Nick Nolte), who was also a scientist, tested on himself and passed his mutated genes onto Bruce. Now Bruce, thirty-five, and his research partner Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) are performing experiments on animals with beams called "gamma rays". The gamma rays are supposed to help heal wounds and other injuries, but it doesn't work. Once exposed to the gamma, the animals explode. Bruce is accidentally exposed to a dose of gamma rays. He should be dead, but he's just fine. Pretty soon he figures out that he can turn into a muscular 10-foot-tall monster that goes by as the "Hulk".

Plot:
The story kind of follows the way of the comic, but goes off track alittle. It has the main idea of the comic books, but it doesn't follow it all the way. The movie has alot of problems. The movie doesn't feature any major villain and doesn't have any big fights that would wow anybody. I can kind of understand that their wouldn't be any villains in this movie since they want to build on the story first than concentrate on the villains, but instead they give us an enemy (Don't want to spoil anything) that really only shows up in the last 20 min's of the movie. The other issue I want to point out on is Hulk himself. Now, we all know what the Hulk should look like, but for some reason he doesn't look right in this film. The biggest issue I have this film is the camera shots. I don't know if it was the directors choice to do this, but alot of the scenes have parts cut out and put else where kind of like a comic. This works in a few scenes, but mostly, its just stupid. With all of this said, Hulk still has some enjoyable moments and this is mostly in the second half. The scene were hes fighting military tanks looks awesome.

Cast:
The cast for this movie is good. Eric Bana plays as Bruce Banner/Hulk. It's just something about his quite lonely look that makes him pretty good as Banner. Hes definitely not the best choice, but hes also far from being the worse. Jennifer Connelly plays as Betty Ross and shes smoking hot. This girl looks simply ravishing as Betty Ross. She also happens to be the strong point of the cast. She gives a good performance that any Connelly fan will like. Sam Elliott plays as General "Thunderbolt" Ross and he does a pretty good job in this role. He had that great look that makes him pretty much the Ross we know in the comics. I also enjoy Elliott's voice and personally think he sounds great as Ross. Nick Nolte plays as David Banner and he too gives a good performance here. His voice and talent isn't distracted by the bad story and Nolte gives a very believable performance.

Picture:
For a comic book hero like the Hulk, its pretty damn obvious that the studio would use CGI to capture the big green hero. The CGI definitely looks like it was up to the challenge to render the big beast and it did just that. There are some small scenes where the animations look alittle clunky, but for the most part, he acts right. Now as for the actual DVD disc, this movie looks great. Universal has done a great job putting together this disc because this is certainly one fine looking DVD. Its free of any grain or the horrible edge enhancements like some previous Universal DVD's had. Colors look touchable with vibrant strokes of feeling to them. Green is the most used color to no surprise and it looks wonderful. Detail is off the hook with alot of close up shots looking pretty amazing. The scenes where Ross is talking to Betty in the restaurant and that clarity you see in his mustache is unbelievable. This is one great looking disc.

Sound:
The soundtrack for Hulk is very good. The music is composed by the ever so talented Danny Elfman, the man who also scored Batman and Edward Scissorhands. The movie has a good score that I'm not particularly sure is right for this movie, but it sounds very good. I was kind of hoping that the movie has a score that actually sounds right for Hulk, but I guess I couldn't find that here. The music used all around is also good and gives Hulk some meaning. If the music wont kill you than the bass will because Hulk has one excellent use of bass. This movie rocks hard with its powerful bass. Every thump and roar is easily matched with bass that it makes it perfect. I have not heard bass this strong since maybe Iron Man. Hulk's use of bass combined with the very good soundtrack makes this an easy demo material DVD. I would love to show this DVD off to my friends on my surround sound.

Conclusion:
Hulk feels like a movie that was not given the full treatment. The story sucks and isn't very good. I found alot of problems with the plot even though the second half was kind of enjoyable. The cast is good all around with most giving good performances. The visual effects for the movie has its problems, but still manages to look great. The disc itself is easily demo material and something Id look out for in High Def. The soundtrack is very good with Elfman composing a nice score for the film even though it may not sound right for a Hulk movie. The bass is some of the strongest I heard in awhile and will no doubt blow you away. Hulk could have easily been a great fun movie to watch and yet, the first half is pretty boring. I don't really recommend this movie to anybody looking for an action movie, but maybe Hulk fans might like it. I really hope the upcoming The Incredible Hulk which opens wide this Friday, June 13th will turn out better.

Grade: D+

Monday, June 09, 2008

REVIEW: Iron Man


Iron Man

Year: 2008
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Faran Tahir
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

I was the only one in a whole crowd that wanted to see Iron Man get made. This was back in 03 when their were polls showing up online asking what Marvel superhero would you like to see get made? Obviously, the winners were Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men and many more. Iron Man was the last on every poll that asked that same question. My hopes kept falling when each year went by and no Iron Man. That suddenly changed when Paramount Pictures hired director Jon Favreau to direct the film. Soon after that, Robert Downey Jr. was signed on as Tony Stark. Than came May 2nd, the movies release date. It was such a big day for Iron Man fans that have waited so long for this great superhero to finally come to the big screen. Iron Man proved to be a huge success making over $100 million on its opening weekend. Not only that, but the film has been very positive with the reviews averaging a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie to this day has grossed over $537 million worldwide and is still going. I'm laughing my ass off right now to those who ever doubted Iron Man in the first place. Its funny now how, I see comments like "oh, Iron man is my favorite superhero" or "oh, I just love Iron Man". I ask these people, where were you in the last 5 years?

Plot Outline:
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a wealthy billionaire and a brilliant inventor who is captured by terrorists and is forced to look at his weapons company through the other side. Escaping by means of a revolutionary invention, Stark returns to find that his business partners, primarily Obidiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), are concerned about the direction he has the company going in. With the aid of Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow), Jim 'Rhodey' Rhodes (Terrence Howard) and a collection of all sorts of robots, Stark begins to perfect his invention to put a stop to the misery that he helped create.

Plot:
The film is based on the Marvel comics creator Stan Lee made. Now, Ill admit that I didn't read any Iron Man comics, but I did watch alot of the animated series that use to show on TV. I know the whole origin of him and how Tony Stark becomes Iron Man. The story stays faithful to that concept. I'm not sure if every little thing in the movie is true to the comic, but it comes damn close. Sure its not filled with super villains although seeing The Mandarin on screen would have made me piss my pants, but its got this nice telling of how Stark becomes a superhero. The characters that I grew up watching are now in real life form. It was nice to see them in action and to see celebrities portray them. I was alittle disappointed that we don't get to see Stark battling out his alcohol addiction. Iron Man would have been nothing if their weren't any action. We see him in the Iron Man suit in the sky trying to dodge military jets. I don't even have to explain the final battle with Iron Monger. These scenes are baddass and nicely done too. While I did enjoy the action in the movie, I couldn't help, but think how much more action packed the sequel will be.

Cast:
The cast is even better than the story. I have to give the studio and creative team behind the casting credit because I enjoyed everyone in this film. Robert Downey Jr. plays as Tony Stark/Iron Man and he gives a fantastic performance in his role. Long ago, I honestly thought Tom Cruise would have been ideal to play Stark, but I can now see I was wrong. Robert Downey Jr. is just spot on as Tony Stark. Hes witty, hes charming and just fun to watch. Jeff Bridges plays as Obadiah Stane. While I didn't enjoy his performance like I did in The Big Lebowski, I still thought it was great. Hes nice clean look and pasture makes him a perfect choice opposite Downey. Terrence Howard plays as Jim Rhodes and he gives a nice performance in his new role. While I didn't enjoy his performance like I did with Robert, but hes still good in a way. He doesn't play War Machine in this film, but you can bet your ass he will in the sequel. We also have Gwyneth Paltrow playing as Pepper Potts. Shes very sexy and nice to see next to Robert. The two of them share some nice chemistry in a few scenes. Her beautiful looks and likable personality makes her perfect for this role.

Picture:
The visual effects in Iron Man are simply stunning. I knew that if this film was ever going to get made, that the special effects would be pushed pretty hard and I was right. Everything in this film looks absolutely gorgeous. The films source is nice and clean with no grain. That's no surprise since the movie only came out about a month ago. Colors are bold and dazzling. Blacks are nice and inky especially during the night scenes. Detail is pretty high with things like the Iron suit being nicely detailed and really standing out. Faces also pact alot of detail with hair being the one very noticeable. Skin tones are also accurate and have a nice warm feeling to them. The animations in the movie all look wonderfully choreographed. Scenes were Tony Stark is in his Iron Man suit really push the animations, but they still manage to look amazing. A movie like this couldn't have been possible a couple years back. Its nice to see technology come this far. Judging from these visual effects, I guess I'm now glad that Iron Man came out later than I would have hoped because this movie is easily demo material.

Sound:
The soundtrack in the movie is not mind blowing, but its good. The original music is done by Ramin Djawadi and he does a good job putting together some good music. The music mostly ranges from techno to some rock which is about right for Iron Man's tone. They all play in good order and sound great. I cant say the soundtrack was amazing as the visuals were, but its pretty good for a superhero movie like this. Bass is were Iron Man truly shows his skill. This movie rocks pretty damn hard. This is some of the best bass I have ever heard in some time. The action scenes sound so loud and really use the bass to its full advantage. Explosions have never sounded this brutal. This is easily demo material in my book. The sheer amount of scenes that I can use to show off my system is really amazing. Dialogue is up their too with some of the best I've heard. Its really crisp and clear that you can really hear everything. I cant fathom how great this movie will sound on your surround system.

Conclusion:
Iron Man is one of the years best films to come out. The story is great with its entertaining plot that brings Tony Stark into becoming Iron Man. Its not perfect, but damn is it fun. The cast is outstanding with alot of them being great performances. Robert Downey Jr. is by far the best Tony Stark I have ever seen. The visual effects for the movie are simply amazing. I cant picture this movie looking any better. Everything is spot on and detail is pretty high up. The soundtrack is pretty good with some mixed music here and their, but its the bass that's going to rock your socks off. Easily demo material in my book. I wouldn't call Iron Man perfect, but its damn great. This is the best Marvel superhero movie I have seen this far. Spider-Man 2, I am so sorry, but Iron Man rules. I cant believe I waited this many years for this film to finally get made, but I can tell you right now that it was well worth the wait. I can easily recommend this movie to anyone who loves superhero movies or is just looking to have some fun and be entertained. Its not perfect, but Iron Man definitely rocks.

Grade: B

Sunday, June 08, 2008

REVIEW: The Strangers


The Strangers

Year: 2008
Director: Bryan Bertino
Starring: Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis, Gemma Ward
Distributor: Rogue Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

Whenever a movie comes out with a tag line mentioning that its based on true events, alot of people tune in. This is somewhat the case with The Strangers. The movie opened last Friday and managed to bring in $20 million on its opening weekend. Now by the look of its trailer, you could think its just another teen horror movie when in fact, it really isn't. Sure its a horror film, but its not your average Saw/Scream type movie. Instead, it actually looks like its got a good concept to use to bring in people to watch the film. I usually don't watch alot of horror movies because its hard for me to get scared. Sure I might jump out of my seat one or two times, but that's about it. I'm never left feeling scared after watching a horror movie. Its just that their was something I liked about the trailer for The Strangers that made me want to watch it.

Plot Outline:
James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) and Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) are a couple undergoing an undefined conflict in the wake of a friend's wedding reception. They stop at their isolated summer home for the night and attempt to work out their problems. Before long, a trio of masked assailants are terrorizing the couple, at first with seemingly pranks like pounding on the front door and escalating to terrifying, life and death extremes.

Plot:
The movies tag line of being inspired by true events makes this film based on something. Now, I haven't read upon the events that this film is based on so I don't know. As for the story, it starts off pretty fast. We already get sunk into this story when the first couple minutes of the movie are actually the real ending for the film. It than pans around and rewinds to an earlier time in the story where the couple are just arriving in the cabin. The creepy atmosphere and pacing of the story really makes for some scary scenes. Ill admit that I jumped out of my seat a couple times. The story is nicely written and we don't get to see the faces of these strangers. The movie keeps our intentions high and makes it look like its going to be a predictable ending and yet, it throws a curve ball at us. I really liked the ending and thought it was kind of original. The thing that ultimately stops The Strangers from becoming perfect is its origin explanation. We don't get the full details on these psychotic killers so were left with wanting more. The film's running time of 90 minutes also doesn't help. I thought the movie could have been alittle longer. Other than these few nitpicks, I thought this was a good film.

Cast:
The cast for this film is really good. Scott Speedman plays as James Hoyt and he gives a nice performance. I don't think I have seen him in alot of movies, but hes very believable here. He wasn't annoying or anything and his character didn't do too much stupid things to distract you from the story. Liv Tyler plays as Kristen McKay and shes gives a great performance. Tyler is every bit as believable as Speedman if not better. Her screaming and tears look and sound great. I know she wasn't really giving much of a performance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but she really goes all out here. I was really convinced she was in this situation instead of just acting like it. If she continues in this path, expect for some fine performances in the future. These strangers consist of Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis, and Gemma Ward. They do a nice job playing as the criminals in the movie. I cant detect their acting because they don't really say anything in the movie. They did manage to scare me a couple times in their character.

Picture:
The visual look for the movie is nice and dark. Being a just released film, the movie benefits from a clean source. Their wasn't any grain I detected and the movie has a nice slick look to it. Colors aren't used a whole lot since the movie is mostly shown at night. Blacks tend to look more darker and bolder than some of the other colors. Detail is on the good side with alot of facial expressions being noticeable. Skin tones are on the accurate side and don't look washed up. The director chose to shoot some scenes in a blur so it shows someone is behind someone else. This makes some of the shots alittle bury, but it doesn't get in the way. This isn't something that's going to blow you away, but it does look really good for a small budget horror film like this.

Sound:
The soundtrack for The Strangers is also positive. The movie doesn't have its own score, but that doesn't mean its needed. The movie has music playing in the first couple of scenes. Its mostly a record track playing old school music, but it certainly goes well with the movie's atmosphere. The music really makes for some intense moments where your not sure whats going to happen next. Their are some times where the volume of the movie is almost non existent and goes really soft. This makes it kind of obvious that something is about to happen. The movie also has some impressive bass work. Typical horror movies don't consist of alot of bass since it really goes to waste, but here its different. The bass in this film helps make the scary moments even more thrilling. Dialogue is pitched pretty high so you can clearly hear everything. There are times where you can literally hear almost anything in the movie. Some of the scary moments rely to much on this.

Conclusion:
The Strangers is a thrilling horror movie that breaths some fresh air on this tired genre. The story is nicely paced and is sure to give you a jump out of your seat. I think the casting was good and enjoyed every bit of performance that was shown in this movie. The visual look of the movie is your typical horror type film, but this film tends to look very good in alot of parts. The soundtrack is effective and gives this movie some leg. I liked this film and I hardly watch any horror movies. For people who love movies in this genre are sure to be pleased with The Strangers. Its not perfect, but its pretty damn enjoyable.

Grade: C+

Saturday, June 07, 2008

REVIEW: Tideland


Tideland

Year: 2005
Director: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Jodelle Ferland, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Tilly, Janet McTeer, Brendan Fletcher
Distributor: THINKFilm
MPAA: Rated R

Disturbing, bleak, unsettling and dark are just a few words people would use to describe Tideland. The 2005 Terry Gilliam directed fantasy film not only didn't get the critical reception it wanted, but also bombed at the box office. Critics thought it was a horrible film coming from the same director that directed such hits as the 1985 film "Brazil" and the ever so popular Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Now I haven't seen any Terry Gilliam film even though there are so many great ones, but something about Tideland had me interested. Alot of people on the teamxbox.com forums have been discussing this movie and its kind of gotten me alittle curious. Not only that, but the poster for the film also looks very creative and mesmerizing. With these intentions, I had to take a look myself.

Plot Outline:
A young girl by the name of Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) is relocated to an old abandoned farmhouse with her drug addicted father after the girls mother, Queen Gunhilda (Jennifer Tilly) dies. The girls father Noah (Jeff Bridges), is an ex-rocker, still drugging it up with the love and support of his innocent young daughter Jeliza-Rose. What follows is a child like perspective of what the incredibly imaginative Jeliza is experiencing and how she interacts with other bizarre characters. The young girl's world is changing upside down. Where the line between her imagination and reality disappears.

Plot:
The story is somewhat of a mess. Tideland is based on a novel with the same name written by Mitch Cullin. While the movie looks to be the same story as the novel, the story never stays on one topic and keeps moving forward. The film's plot is almost none existence with the whole movie being a strange dark fantasy. The story becomes hard at times that you simply don't know whats going on. Even though the film starts off really slow and continues on that path, you never get answers to whats going on in the movie. The whole movie feels like a bad dream or better yet a nightmare. We hardly get any character development between the characters and the things they interact with. I did however, think the main character Jeliza-Rose was somewhat interesting to listen upon. The things she does and say are pretty crucial to the story since it mostly resolves around her. I wasn't fascinated by the things Jeliza experiences or goes through, but I did find them to be somewhat disturbing. While the movie might have its share of uglyness, I did find the first half to be decent. The second half is where the problems heavily occur. The story turns from decent to just plain creepy. It gets really ugly and distracting that I couldn't really get into it. Not to mention the train wreck conclusion that is the ending. Whats weird is while the story might not interest many viewers, the films got alot of messages that kind of get out to you. Whether its something related to drugs or loneliness, the message is quit clear.

Cast:
The cast is pretty good, but none of them really have their moments in the film. Jodelle Ferland plays as Jeliza-Rose and shes pretty good in her role. Being the main character of the film, its no surprise that she has alot of dialogue. I don't think shes the perfect choice to be playing someone as dark and creative as Jeliza-Rose, but I think Ferland does a good job in a tough role like this. Jeff Bridges plays as Noah and hes good as always. I really enjoyed his performance, but its hardly a breakthrough role for him. I just really wish he had some more screen time because I enjoyed his role in this film. Jennifer Tilly plays as Queen Gunhilda, but shes hardly on screen much that its hard to tell of her performance. Shes dies far too quickly in the beginning of the movie, but the small parts shes in are pretty good, but not great. We also have Brendan Fletcher playing as Dickens and this is a part that is alittle hard to judge. While this is probably hes best role in a movie, but at the same time, he looks likes hes faking it. I just wasn't convinced he was this mentally challenged boy that he was in the movie. That's just my opinion, but a decent cast all round.

Picture:
The visual look of the film is dark and grim. The movie was released in 2005 so its source is pretty clean. I wasn't able to detect much grain in the movie, but the black levels were alittle saturated in some scenes. This is only in a few scenes, but mostly the black levels are stable. The movie has a wonderful imagery that really shows the isolated feeling in the story. This makes for a striking color palette. Some of the outdoor shots looks nicely colored with bold colors. Detail is also pretty high with some great looking objects. Tideland has many scenes that would look great in high def. The movie isn't something Id use to demo off my system, but this DVD has some nice looking visual effects. Overall, this is a solid visual quality because everything is sharp and clean.

Sound:
The soundtrack in the movie is on the weak side. The film doesn't look like it has a score of it own. Their isn't a whole lot of music in the movie, but their are some sound effects that make use of the story. The music is a mix between orchestral or drums and they slowly tune off. The music comes and goes, but its in tact with the movement of the story. Bass work on this film is decent at best. There isn't a whole lot going on so bass isn't necessary. However, the movie still has some bass that usually is good at times. Dialogue is also on the heavy side with alot of the characters talking especially Jeliza-Rose. What good is that the dialogue is clean and clear. You can hear everything everyone is saying. This makes hearing conversation easy and understandable.

Conclusion:
Tideland is a dark fantasy tale that happens with Jeliza-Rose being the center of attention. The story is part disturbing and part confusing. I just wasn't thrilled by it like some other novel to film movies. The cast is somewhat good, but I just wasn't blown by their performances. Some of them could have been replaced by other celebrities. The visual look is nice and sharp. Its not going to blow your socks off, but its nicely transferred here in its full glory on DVD. The soundtrack is mostly missing in action since the movie doesn't have much music in it, but the sound effects sounds good. This isn't a movie Id recommend to kids under 16 since its got alot of strange images. While I was mostly let down by this movie, I did however enjoy some small parts. I really liked its view of objects. Id only recommend this film to those seeking a dark fantasy film, but even than Id strongly think you should go watch Pan's Labyrinth instead.

Grade: C-

Sunday, June 01, 2008

REVIEW: Walk the Line


Walk the Line

Year: 2005
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick, Shelby Lynne
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
MPAA: Rated PG-13

After reviewing the great, but exhausting Indiana Jones trilogy, I thought id review something alittle less big. That's when I stumbled upon Walk the Line. The movie was always in my review basket, but it wasn't until today that I decided to give it a look. After the 2004 biopic hit "Ray", it was a given that we would see more musical biopics in the future. That's where Walk the Line walks in. The movie that many movie studios passed up on until Fox finally gave a look at it. It took over 4 years for this project to finally get green lighted for production. I personally haven't seen any musical biopics even Taylor Hackford's 2004 hit, Ray. I didn't even know who Johnny Cash was or haven't heard of any of his songs. So when this film opened wide in 2005, I just didn't care about it. I mean why should I go see a movie that I'm not even a fan of. That was my reason for not giving this film a chance. That changed when I started seeing this film getting rave reviews across the critics and making millions of dollars around the world. I couldn't just sit there while everybody was talking about it. So I decided to look into this movie and see what everyone's been fussing about.

Plot Outline:
As a young boy Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) lived a hard life in Arkansas in a farm house with his hard working family. Hes had a close bond with his older brother Jack (Lucas Till). When his brother died in a accident. Johnny's father Ray (Robert Patrick) blames his son on the incident for not being there for his older brother. Johhny grows up and comes back to marry his girlfriend Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin) and start a family. Johnny is unhappy with his salesman job and decides to start a band with his friend Luther Perkins (Dan John Miller) and Marshall Grant (Larry Bagby) to find work as musicians. He meets a music producer who gives Johnny and his band a chance. When their song becomes a hit on the radio, Johnny and his band are traveling with other musicians like Elvis Presley (Tyler Hilton), Jerry Lee Lewis (Waylon Malloy Payne), Roy Orbinson (Johnny Holiday) and June Carter (Resse Witherspoon), a woman which Johnny respects her talented beautiful voice. His wife feels lost without her husband and she doesn't seems to support his music abilities or doesn't care for his talent. Johnny has strong feelings for June, while his marriage is falling apart and his drug habit is starting to show.

Plot:
The story is great with many moments that really capture the feeling of Johnny Cash. Now I'm not the biggest Johnny Cash fan nor have I listened to his songs. So this was the first time ever experiencing anything released to Cash. The plot is very interesting and satisfying. I'm not surprised the movie was nominated for alot of Awards. I never thought a biopic about Johnny Cash would actually be this good, but it is. The story has alot of key elements that made me sit their and grasp all this information about the famous artist without getting too technical. The story isn't original by all means, but it does work. It kind of resembles that of Ray, but its something that the real Johnny Cash went through so I cant complain. My only let down about the story is that it kind of starts off slow in the beginning. Its not long before the story picks up, but that slow start kind of bugs me. Walk the Line also tends to get alittle melodramatic at parts, but its nothing that's going to annoy you. The characters are all great and have many problems of their own in the story. Johnny Cash is very creative and very talented in the movie just like he is in real life. For a movie that took over 4 years to make, Walk the Line isn't really the movie we have been expecting it to be, but it comes damn near close.

Cast:
The cast is also great. For a movie about a specific person's life, its pretty hard these days to find actors trying to fill in the main characters role. I'm happy to say this is great casting by the studio. Joaquin Phoenix plays the main title Johnny Cash and he gives an Oscar worthy performance. I cant believe that Joaquin Phoenix did not get an Oscar for his role as Cash. He whole heartily deserved it. Its not easy playing Cash especially since your going to have to sing his songs in the movie and I cant believe Phoenix did. He sang all his songs and did nit lip sync which is really impressive. Reese Witherspoon plays as June Carter and she also does a good job in her role. Witherspoon got an Oscar for her role as June, but in my opinion, I'm not sure she should have. Don't get me wrong, but I think Phoenix deserved an Oscar more, but I'm not complaining that Witherspoon got one. She also sang all her songs which is really impressive. Ginnifer Goodwin plays as Vivian Cash and she gives a good performance. I wasn't expecting the supporting cast to be as good as the main characters, but they actually come pretty close. We also have Robert Patrick playing as Ray Cash and he too gives a good performance. I really enjoyed his role in this film. Its been awhile since we have seen him in a major movie and I'm really he was in this film.

Picture:
The visual look of Walk the Line is somewhat of a mixed bag. The movie has been released 2 or 3 times on DVD with the newest one being the extended version, but it doesn't look like the folks at Fox have remastered Walk the Line for the extended version which is a shame. The film was released in 2005, but the source doesn't hold up well. There is grain that is present through out the film. Its not a big issue and not huge like some other films, but its still their. The movie also has some muted colors. While the colors are their, they just ain't vibrant as I would have liked. They are nice and bright especially the stage scenes, but that's about it. Detail is also on the soft side with the movie not really showing what DVD can achieve in detail. While the movie has soft spots, there are some scenes that kind of benefit from detail. Close up shots show some detail on Joaquin Phoenix's face, but that's about it. The movies video quality is about average, but nothing impressive. While the movie's video quality might not be as great as I would have hope, the film does have some really nice cinematography. There are many shots that look nicely taken so props to that.

Sound:
The soundtrack in Walk the Line is more impressive than the films story and visual aspects put together. Since this movie is a biopic about Johnny Cash, their is no doubt that the film features some great music. We get many great Johnny Cash music ranging from "Get Rhythm" to "I Walk the Line". This film is filled with many Cash songs and they all sound great. A movie like this is bound to have some serious bass work and I'm happy to say it does. The movie has some great 5.1 usage with its dynamic bass. The songs all sound great with the bass cranked up high. Dialogue is very good with everything being very clear and crisp. The fact that Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon had to sing all of their songs and not lip sync is very impressive. The fact that Phoenix and Witherspoon's voices sound somewhat similar to their real life counter parts. This is easily the best part about the movie. A very solid soundtrack that's definitely up their with some of the best.

Conclusion:
Walk the Line is a great movie that's also a great biopic. The movies story is very satisfying and strong. Sure its not very original and starts off pretty slow, but its still a great movie that captures most of Johnny Cash's moments in life. The cast is top notch with Joaquin Phoenix giving a performance that should have easily gotten him an Oscar. The visual look of the movie is somewhat of a mixed bag with soft spots here and their, but still an average DVD by today's standard. The soundtrack is off the hook with many of Cash's songs appearing here and sounding better than ever. The films bass is nicely used and makes for some great 5.1 music. I really didn't expect this film to impress me this much because I have never seen a biopic about someone, but I was proven wrong. This is a great movie with some fine performances that is easily something I can recommend. I should point out that the story starts off kind of slow, but it picks up soon enough.

Grade: B