Movies: War of the Worlds

We went to see War of the Worlds yesterday. Before going, I read a few reviews. This review hits it right on the head.

Overall, I found the movie really entertaining. Kelsi didn’t find it entertaining at all, and she even cited many of the issues the reviewer in the referenced article hit.

I liked pretty much everything except the ending. It was completely rediculous and typically “Hollywood”.

Movies: Land of the Dead

On Sunday I had said that I would post something up about Land of the Dead, the latest George Romero zombie movie. To be honest, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to write about it and I’m kind of at a loss.

This is the first movie I’ve seen where I just felt flat about the whole thing. I wasn’t interested, but I wasn’t exactly disinterested either. I wasn’t necessarily bored, but I wasn’t engaged in the movie either. As a matter of fact, after sitting through it I’m still not sure I know what it was about.

This was a weird experience. I have absolutely no reaction to the movie at all, good or bad. It’s definitely something that you can wait for video to see.

Movies: Hitch

Hitch (Widescreen Edition)Another Fathers Day present I received last weekend was the movie Hitch, a comedy starring Will Smith. We had seen it in the theaters when it came out and I thought it was probably one of the funniest comedies I had seen released in a while. Watching the movie again on DVD confirmed my original impression of the film.

I haven’t laughed this hard at a movie in a long time.

Will Smith plays Alex Hitchens, the “date doctor”. He is a consultant for men wanting to make women fall in love with them. His business comes from word of mouth. He doesn’t advertise, because he wants to remain anonymous.

His newest client is Albert, played by Kevin James. Hitch’s assignment is to help Albert get socialite Allegra Cole to fall in love with him.

During this time, Hitch also meets Sara, a gossip reporter with the local newspaper. He falls for her and nuttiness ensues as Hitch tries to land the girl of his dreams while nothing goes right for him.

This movie was absolutely hilarious. It is rare that I laugh this hard at a movie and even rarer that it happens twice. Watching this one on video was just as funny as watching it at the theater. Kevin James was absolutely brilliant as Albert, as was Smith in his role. In my opinion they could have found a better Sara, as Eva Mendes turned out just to be annoying to me through the movie.

If you’ve been looking for a really good comedy and want to spend the good part of 118 minutes laughing, pick it up.

Movies: Batman Begins

Saturday we went to see Batman Begins, the newest in the Batman series. To be honest, I was expecting a sub-par movie considering the ways in which the Bat-movies have been done since the original, but this one seems to go back to the darkness and mood of the first Batman film.

The film tells the story about how the Batman came to exist, from the murder of Bruce Waynes parents through Bruces subsequent childhood and quest to understand criminal behavior later in life. It tells the story of where the idea for the Batman came from, where the Batcave came from and how he gets all of those really cool gadgets.

Christian Bale is great as Bruce Wayne, though I have to say he does look kind of weird in the bat suit. Not sure what it is, but he just doesn’t look right in the cowl. This incarnation of the Bat is actually angrier than we’ve seen Batman in the previous movies. While Bale pulled it off, my vote is still for Keaton as the #1 Bat.

From the story line perspective, you can tell that a lot of thought went into it – something you haven’t seen in the Batman movies for years . Everything ties off and makes sense. The criminals, while menacing, are not over stated. They fit in the story, rather than being there for the sake of getting another big star to play a super villain.

One walks out quite satisfied that she has learned everything there is to know about where the Batman came from.

I haven’t walked out of a Batman movie satisfied since 1995 when the first Tim Burton directed Batman hit the theaters. Batman Begins was a refreshing addition to the growing list of super hero related movies coming out in theaters. Action packed and fun, and the really dark Batman we all grew up admiring for his rage against injustice. The best thing about this movie though, is it goes back to the basics about what Batman has always been about : a very angry guy out to make sure justice is served.

Movies: The Machinist

The MachinistYesterday Jonna and I rented The Machinist, a movie starring Christian Bale and Jennifer Jason Leigh and directed by Brad Anderson. We had remembered seeing the preview at the show and it looked like a really dark movie definitely worth a shot on video. It was definitely worth the shot.

The movie is about a machine worker who hasn’t slept in “about a year”. He is not sleeping or eating, and his weight has dropped to under 120 pounds. Christan Bale has never looked worse, choosing to completely emaciate himself for this role. His appearance alone is scary. He doesn’t look healthy at all and one may find themselves distracted with just how bad he looks. It really added a sense of realism to the story, even though it was extremely painful to look at.

The Machinist does a really good job providing a look at the effects that guilt can have on ones mental and physical well being. From this perspective, the movie was an excellent piece of work. The acting was incredible. I had only seen Christian Bale in the movie American Psycho (which I also liked by the way). This movie was a really different kind of movie and showed his versatility as an actor.

Overall I really liked the movie and what it was trying to express. However, the movie doesn’t move quickly — at all. You really need to be patient to get to the end of the film. Things plod along at a pretty slow rate and the characters shift locations almost immediately, jostling you into a “what the hell did I miss?” mentality. Later in the movie, the location shifts make sense, but you have to get to the end of the movie. There were definitely a few points where things weren’t moving fast enough that I wanted to just start reading or something just until “something started happening”. So be prepared for some slow story movement.

The thing about this one is, the payoff at the end of the movie ties everything together and makes the time spent well worth watching the movie. Its strange to say that, as I’m normally impatient sitting through slow moving stories, but this one was well worth the time.

Movies: House Of Wax

Yesterday Jonna, Kelsi and I went to see House of Wax, the latest horror movie out in the theaters.

Now, normally I’m the type of person that gets really irritated with movies. If there is no plot, or the movie is just plain stupid, I will walk out of the theater pretty annoyed. Horror movies are one of the genres that I will normally rent, because I just can’t see spending the money to be irritated.

However, yesterday we were looking for something to do and this was the only movie that looked remotely interesting to all three of us, so we went.

Believe it or not, I really liked it. Sure there were extremely slow parts, and sure it was a full on slasher movie, but I walked out satisfied with what I got.

The movie revolves around six kids on their way to a football game. They stop for the night in the woods to camp out. When they wake up the next morning one of the cars has the fan belt cut. Two of the people stay behind to get a ride to the nearest town to pick up a fan belt while the rest of the people go off to try and get to the football game.

Unfortunately, the next town over is relatively abandoned. It winds up that there are a couple of psycho brothers in the town that have systematically killed everyone in the town and coated them with wax and set them up as a huge town sized wax museum. As visitors show up, they are added to the collection.

Now, I know this sounds stupid, but it was actually a pretty entertaining movie to watch. You can think of it as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum — and if you approach it this way you’ll have a lot more fun watching it. I actually walked out of there satisfied that I had seen a decent horror movie.

If you like horror movies, you’ll like this one once it gets going. Be prepared for a really slow start though. For a bit, the movie is painfully slow to watch. Once it heats up though, it’s a lot of fun.

Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars - Episode III, Revenge of the SithWe went to see Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith yesterday afternoon and I have to agree with many of the reviews out there – this is the best Star Wars movie to date. George Lucas has definitely ended with a masterpiece.

The movie is 2 hours and 20 minutes long, but you are so involved you don’t notice it. This is the part of the story you have always wanted to see. What happened to the Jedi’s? How did the emperor come into power? How did he turn Anakin to the dark side? The answers to all of these questions are finally here.

Earlier in the week I had read Jason Kottke’s review of the movie. One of the things he mentioned was that as he walked out of the movie he felt sadness for Darth Vader — that Lucas had made him into a sympathetic character rather than the evil character you find in the first three movies. I wondered how that could be, but after seeing the movie I understood. It really is a tragic story.

I spent a lot of time once we left the theater thinking about this movie. What made it so good? Was it really that good of a story, or is it really that we’ve waited 28 years for the answers to many of the questions that the movie finally answers? Is it the story, or is it the closure we all get when we finally have the full background behind the first trilogy?

I think the answer is both. The story is great, but as I talked to the boys about it yesterday, one of the phrases that kept creeping into my mind was that the “circle was finally closed”. We finally have all of the answers about Darth Vader, Luke and Leia, and the Jedi Council. We finally know everything about the mythological world that Lucas introduced to us in 1977.

The story is complete and we finally, after 28 years, have closure.

Now, while the movie absolutely impressed me, the people around me did not. At a movie of this magnitude, I am still surprised at how rude people can be.

Here’s some advice for those going to the movies in the future:

  • When the previews start, SHUT UP. There are people who like watching them, no matter how irrelevant they are to you.
  • Stop talking when the MOVIE starts. We paid to watch the movie, not listen to you.
  • Figure out which order everyone is going to sit in before the lights go down. Better yet, figure it out before you sit down. Even better, figure it out in the car before you attend the show. It shouldn’t take three attempts to get everyone in the “right spot”. A seat is a seat and all you are doing is bothering the people around you.
  • If your chair squeaks, do not feel you have to demonstrate it to the people around you over and over again. This should be clue to you to sit still.
  • If you are really, really tired and feel you might fall asleep and you have a history of Darth Vader like snoring (your spouse should be able to clue you in on this), wait until you are more refreshed before you attend the film. We don’t want to hear you.

Aside from all of this, this really was the best movie I have seen in a long time. I highly recommend it and cannot wait until it comes out on DVD so that I can watch it again.

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Movie Review: The Amityville Horror (2005)

Friday night as we were out eating, we were deciding what we wanted to do over the weekend. Kelsi and I wanted to see the new Amityville Horror movie. Its not that I thought it would be something cool, I just wanted to see what they would have changed from the 1979 movie, which for some reason I always liked. This was honestly my reasoning for going and I even said out loud to Jonna that I didn’t really care if it sucked, I was just curious.

Well, my friends, I cared.

I had read the book and watched the original movie years ago and while I knew deep down that there were some “creative license” taken in the telling of the story, I always felt that overall both told a pretty realistic story about something that might have happened. The way the original movie was put together things were evenly played out, day by day, and a story was unravelled. It had a pace that was tolerable — and a plot. Whether what happened in the movie really happened or not, you were engaged in the characters and the movie was paced well enough to keep you involved.

One thing thats becoming obvious to me as I see more and more “remakes” of older movies is that something has been lost in movie making these days. Plot and story telling is no longer important, and everything is so fast paced that you can’t follow it. Movie makers nowadays seem to approach the story by the cool things you can do with special effects first and only after they figure all of that out do they focus on the story. The new remake is a prime example. The best way I can explain it is that it is loosely based on the original story (very loosely based) and a cross between that and The Grudge, a movie that I wrote about in February and hated. The effects were that gratuitous.

If I were the person actually previewing the movie before release I would have recommended that they change the name of the movie and the two main characters before release. They changed the name of every other character anyway, and the story was so different from the original that it was obvious that MGM just wanted a tie back to the original movie to guarantee that shmucks like me would hit the theater just based on the name alone.

To give them some credit, it worked.

I went out of pure nostalgia. I liked the first movie and the story it told. It was cheesy, and Margot Kidder was annoying (to give her credit though, she was much more “real” than Melissa George), but the movie was entertaining and realistic enough to make you wonder whether the events could have been possible. I wanted to see how movie making today could do a better job at telling the story. What I got was, for all intents and purposes, a special effects movie that had little in common with the original other than the main two characters and the house. They would have been better off calling this “Amityville 9 – A Completely Different Interpretation”.

I seriously think that my time would have been better served watching Amityville: Dollhouse.

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The Final Cut

The Final Cut On Saturday we rented The Final Cut on DVD. I have to say this was one of the most original movies I’ve seen in a while.

Robin Williams stars as Alan Hakman, a cutter in the future. In the not so distant future setting that the movie is portraying, a new technology has become popular called the “Zoe” chip. This chip is implanted in people and records everything that the person hears and sees. Upon death, it is the job of a “cutter” to take these years of memories and edit them down to a small film called a “rememory” to play at the memorial service and give to the family.

The film was written and directed by Omar Naim. The writing is awesome and the movie sucks you in from the first scene. First, just the thought of everything you do being recorded gives you the “heebie-jeebies”. Secondly, throughout the movie there are people protesting the Zoe chip as a violation of privacy, making the film just that more realistic.

The acting is awesome, the story is great. It had me riveted from start to finish. I’m not a big fan of “futuristic” types of movies (Terminator is the ultimate exception of course), but this one I would call a must see. The movie moves along at a pretty good clip, and Robin Williams, as always, is amazing.

I think the thing that I liked most about the movie was the “big brother-ish” world that it portrayed. Technology is moving at such a clip now that it is not too far from reality to have these implants available. The thought of that really makes you think. Is this something you would purchase for your child to have their life recorded from birth to death?

Just the thought of it is creepy and thats what made the movie so worth it for me. It really makes you think.

The Grudge: Now I have One

We rented The Grudge yesterday. What a waste of time.

The movie is apparently a remake of a Japanese movie called Ju-on: The Grudge. Once we finished the movie, I watched some of the extras so that I could maybe get a clue as to what the hell they were thinking when they put this thing together.

Apparently Sam Raimi had seen this movie and thought it would be cool to have the original director come over and direct an Americanized version of the film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. While his intent was admirable, what we wind up with is this completely random, unscary, movie in which flashbacks seize you like an epileptic fit and you cannot figure out where you are until your not there anymore.

There was nothing scary about the movie, because you could not figure out where you were long enough to get invested in the scene. From the documentary, the film basically assumes you know the concepts that the film is built around so they do not really explain it, aside from one scene where the main cop character blazes through some dialog that explains that when people die they stick around for some reason.

From what I have read and viewed in the documentary, there is supposed to be some deep meaning to all of this to make this movie something worth watching. I must be really shallow, because I don’t get it.

It’s just a really bad haunted house movie. As a matter of fact, this is the first movie we rented from Hollywood Video where I want my dollar credit for bringing it back early!