Thursday, June 30, 2005

Movie Review: War of the Worlds

WotW is not necessarily a bad movie, it's just not a great movie, and with all the buzz surrounding it I was expecting a lot more.

Despite a promising beginning that does a good job setting up the main characters, as well as getting the action started, the middle and end of the picture fall pretty flat. When you look back at the movie in it's entirety you are stuck wondering, what was the point. This is one of those odd action movies where the heroics of the main character does little to affect the outcome. The story would have had essentially the same ending if Cruise had decided to just stay at home and drink beer instead of running around the North East US with his two kids. Being based on the H.G. Wells story, that actual ending was set, but because of that it was up to Spielberg to really develop these characters, something which never quite happens.

There is also an abundance of what I consider nuisance scenes. You know the type, where one character knows something but for some reason refuses to share that knowledge when trying to convince others to do what s/he wants. I always find those scenes annoying, and WotW has far too many of them for my liking. I also had some trouble with the fact that from scene to scene the power blackouts are either present or not. I'd have no problem with that as such except for the fact that the story was written to make them central to creating the limited tension in this movie. I couldn't help but keep asking myself why is it only the electrical things they want at a particular moment (like cars for example) are affected in this scene, while all others appear to be working perfectly.

On the acting front, Cruise puts in a pretty solid effort but almost everyone else is wasted. Dakota Fanning in particular spends most of her time either screaming, crying or sleeping, none of which requires the talents of one of today's most accomplished child stars. The there's Justin Chatwin's rebellious son routine which didn't take long to really get on my nerves. At one point I was expecting Cruise to punch him just to stop his whining (personally I think the movie would have been the better for it). And the less said about Tim Robins part, the better. I don't really want to blame the actors though because it appears pretty obvious that the roles were just so badly written that no matter how much talent was thrown into the mix, the end results was not going to be any different.

Visually, WotW is definitely summer blockbuster material. The alien ships look great and the effects are top shelf but looks cannot save this film from the weak story and blaring inconsistencies.

2.75 out of 5

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wednesday, June 29th

Yes Wednesday. Due to the holiday this Friday and new movies opening mid week this week, we've decided to have our 'meeting' this Wednesday morning, 10:20 at South Keys. The 'topic' of this weeks meeting seems to be unanimous, War of the Worlds. As always, everyone's welcome.

So here are the details:

Movie: War of the Worlds

Time: 10:20
Place: SKC

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Friday June 17th

This is a tough one. Rat's on course and both AJ and Mac are going to the advanced screening of Land of the Dead tonight. This is about as open as it gets. Anything goes.

Just in case I can talk anyone into going to see it a second time I'll still put up Land of the Dead for the vote.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Movie Review: Batman Begins

Didn't get around to writing a review up last week after we went to the midnight showing but I decided better late than never. So here it is.

With Batman Begins, the Batman franchise has been reborn. This is far and away the best Batman movie since the original (and in many ways surpasses even that one). From the get go the look and feel of this Batman is much darker and tormented and more in keeping with the comics.

Bale does a great job as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. My only point of concern is his tendency to over use the famous Batman half whisper voice even as Wayne later in the film. But hey, that's just nit picking. Otherwise he is terrific and I really hope they sign him up to do the inevitable next movie.

They also managed to get a great supporting cast with old pros like Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, etc.. Not a bad part or performance among them. The odd exception to the list is Katie Holmes. While she isn't bad in her role as the young ADA, her part is a little too small. She is essentially wasted in the role and they should have either given her a more involved part or removed her character all together.

As for the action, this is one Batman that does not disappoint. From the opening credits to the finale, the fight and stunt scenes are well choreographed and executed. It's especially nice to see the origins of all of Batman's most trusted gadgets. They even go so far as to help explain how Bruce Wayne manages to get all this equipment without drawing attention to himself. Honestly, haven't we all wondered how no one ever noticed that a part or tool ordered by Bruce Wayne ends up on Batman's belt. They cover that beautifully. While I did have a slight problem with one bit of the story line (it involved humans and their proximity to a microwave gun) that is easily overlooked in light of the bigger picture.

Despite all the action and violence there is also an underlying current of humor, especially obvious in Michael Caine's, Alfred, that helps keep the movie entertaining for everyone.

A great movie for a great comic character.

4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Batman Begins

So the movie this week is Batman Begins (no debate there).

The only issue is when to see it.

Due to scheduling conflicts (some of us still have work related duties) we cannot go to the Wednesday morning show as Mac had hoped, but there are a lot of times still open. Even though it is way outside of the groups normal meeting times, there is a midnight showing tonight that at least Rat and I are available for (any other takers?). Otherwise we'll probably have to wait for the regular Friday morning showing.

So any ideas, suggestions, etc..

Update: Well, Mac cracked after some well applied pressure from Rat and we went to the midnight showing. We even managed to get the Mr. D to join us (although I think he had his heart set on seeing 'The Perfect Man' on Friday).

Friday, June 10, 2005

Movie Review: Mr. and Mrs. Smith

If you've ever wanted an example of a summer 'popcorn movie' this is it. Despite it's 2 hour running time, very little is actually accomplished. Sure, you get to see some cool gadgets, a lot of gun fights and even an interesting car chase involving a minivan but after everything is through you are left pretty much where you started. Oddly enough, I was fine with that.

There is nothing here that hasn't been done before in one movie or another but this is not a movie that relies on a strong story. This is a picture solely driven by the star power of it's two leads. Sure there is some action and some laughs but without two very big names attached to the project, this movie would most likely never had been made. Both Pitt and Jolie are perfect in their roles as the husband and wife contract killers totally oblivious to the others activities. Their acting, as usual, is well above average, and of course it doesn't hurt that they look the way they do. Their on screen chemistry is unmistakable and is central to the movie. It may have been interesting to see Nicole Kidman play the role of Mrs. Smith, as originally cast, but I have to say that the part, at least as it was done, seems to fit Jolie to a tee (and a tight white tee at that).

This is not the type of movie that you should worry about trying to analyze after the fact. The plot holes are so large that you could drive an entire convoy through them, but that just doesn't matter. If you like Pitt or Jolie, you will probably find yourself enjoying Mr. and Mrs. Smith, despite all it's flaws. If you are not a fan or either of them, then it's safe to say that there is nothing in this story to win you over.

3.5 out of 5 (the extra .5 is just for great job by the wardrobe dept. for Angelina's various outfits)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Friday June 10th

This week there seems to be only two real choices (although write-ins are still welcome):

1) Mr. and Mrs. Smith
2) High Tension (guess High Tension is out since it doesn't appear to be coming to Ottawa)

(Although Rat mentioned as a tie break option we could go see The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D. I'm hoping he was kidding.)

Here are the final details for todays pic (just in case AJ or Mac decide to go)

Movie: Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Time: 12:30
Place: SC

Movie Review: Cinderella Man

Well since Randy buckled under the boredom and we went to see this Friday afternoon I guess it still counts as a movie club movie. So here's my review:

Ron Howard once again shows why he is a master at making movies based on real life events. With 'Cinderella Man' he continues in the tradition of 'Apollo' and 'A Beautiful Mind' in making a historical movie that no only recounts the big events that became famous, but also adds all the little touches that make it all seem more real.

Not only is this a great story about a depression era boxer, but it also gives great insight into an time in history that is not usually given too much attention. Watching this movie you really get a feel for what life must have been like back then.

The acting throughout the film is terrific. From Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger (the two Hollywood heavy hitters) to another in a long line of strong performances from Paul Giamatti, everyone seems to play their parts to perfection. Everyone down to the three child actors, though in their cases with relatively limited screen time, just does a great job.

For those worried about this turning into another 'Rocky' style picture, do not worry. While boxing is one of the central ideas of the film, the majority of the movie happens far away from an actual ring. This is a picture that is much more about the family life and perseverance of a depression era man named James J Braddock, who just happens to box.

Probably one of, if not the best film of the year so far.

4.5 out of 5