FilmLover-4

IMDb member since July 2000
    Lifetime Total
    25+
    IMDb Member
    19 years

Reviews

The Haunting of Marsten Manor
(2007)

Incredible movie!
Saw this movie at a film festival in Orem, Utah. Heard the budget was rather low, and the story, quality, and concept -- with redeeming message for a horror film -- blew me away. Make sure you rent this one for a scary movie with a heart.

The main leads are all actors on the rise. They did a great job portraying the emotions involved in the story. One of the supporting actors, Julie Sapp, was convincing as the main "ghost" in the story. She was downright scary! She apparently also was a co-writer, co-director-, co-composer, co-everything on this film with her talented husband, Dave Sapp.

Imagine what will happen the next time this duo gets more of a budget and makes their next film!

Click
(2006)

Surprisingly touching
This movie surprised us. We cried. Yes, we cried. The trailer barely tells you what the movie is about. There were some unfunny dumb things having to do with dogs, etc. (no one in the theater laughed much) and some cheeseball stuff, but the emotional core of the movie delivers a wallop that is unexpected. Along the lines of a sort of combination of "Family Man" and "It's a Wonderful Life" -- more "Family Man" -- this movie didn't just bring tears to eyes, it makes you cry. Because of that, I liked it and give it a thumbs up. The annoying stuff is a relatively small price to pay for the lessons the core stuff teaches. Lastly, Kate Beckinsdale (the epitome of domestic beauty in this movie) is absolutely a dream and the actress that played her grown daughter had eyes that matched -- well done. Enough said.

Elektra
(2005)

Better than you might think
I went to this movie at the dollar theater with my 12-year-old daughter and a couple of her friends. This is a power chick flick that overdelivers on the panned critical reviews. I thought it was a solid B all the way across. The story was interesting, the special effects quite good, and Jennifer Garner in a those outfits is not a bad visual. The "Treasure" Abbey did a very good job, too. Thus, pleasantly surprised.

IMDb requires me to write more lines, though I don't have a lot more to say. I guess the only other thing would be that I would like the "old man" teacher of Elektra to be more defined, to know more about his background and where he came from, etc.

Million Dollar Baby
(2004)

Elements of movie-making shine in this film
This is an almost flawless movie (other than needless profanity from a Catholic priest). Extremely poignant for a movie centered on the boxing world, this movie is a female Rocky for the 2000s.

Of course, it is more multi-dimensional as it takes a hard look from not only the boxer's vantage point, but also that of the trainer-manager, too. The intricacies of the protoypical father-daughter relationship -- and the inferred protectionist attitudes therein -- are juxtaposed with the hard-knock, gritty world of female boxing.

The twist at the end is surprising. The movie may end a bit too abruptly, but it makes one think. It has a strong moral play that goes beyond the bounds of boxing, and raises questions of utility for those possibly discard by the rest of society. I can't say any more or this will be a spoiler.

Almost all of the elements of movie-making shine in this film. None more so than direction and acting. Truly artistry at every turn.

The Wedding Date
(2005)

Wait to see this one at home
I am bothered by this film's casual disregard for morality in terms of male prostitutes, even as highly refined and upper class as the main character in this film. This film could have been better, could have been more. It's OK, but falls flat.

Not the worst date movie, but it lacks a certain charm that other of the genre must have in order to be a memorable movie. This one will be forgotten long before it hits DVD.

D. Messing looks different post having her baby. To be expected. But, I actually think it's an improvement. She seems more real, less Hollywood skinny and more rounded so as to be more believable. She's probably normally thin now instead of scary thin.

Wait to see this one at home for a cheap rental fee instead of full box office. I wish I had.

Ladder 49
(2004)

Homage to the family man
I did not want to see this movie because I thought it would just be another Ron Howardish movie about firefighters. I thought I would be bored. Instead, the story about the making of a family man and hero impressed me. The movie, save on F-word, was entirely appropriate for families.

J. Phoenix did an admirable job in the title role, and the supporting cast, including Travolta, also gave notable performances. However, the real story here is the story. It's engaging, and you want to care. You have to care. And that's what sets this apart. Good job, film makers!

My only beef might be: Does this much grief enter into the life of an average firefighter in a 8-10 year career? Seemed a little contrived. I can overlook that minor flaw.

Finding Neverland
(2004)

Superber - excellence without need to edit for the family
In this story based on true events, Johnny Depp is outstanding in the lead role. His skills are quite amazing. Though I was not a fan of his earlier work, it obviously serves him well as he matures in his craft and combines his offbeat ways with the subtly and skill that comes with experience and age. Depp is a master. I don't say that lightly.

The movie is heartwarming. The actor who played real-life Peter did a marvelous job with his character. Child actors rarely have that sort of skill express itself so early.

Kate Winslet is well cast.

Bottom line: a winner through and through.

My wife did not want to see this movie thinking it would be a fantasy, etc. She loved the movie and was moved to tears with the poignant ending.

Coach Carter
(2005)

Not formulaic -- outstanding sports movie
Some have criticized this movie as one being too formulaic, following the pattern of other "disadvantaged community sports stories." I disagree. The movie actually breaks the tradition in a way I can't specify (no spoilers here). The success in overcoming the formulaic accusations, and perhaps the basis for those accusations, probably lies in th fact this is based on a true story. An outstanding movie in almost every way.

The only drawback for me is its persistent profanity. Of course, it is probably toned down and about 25% of what the actual personalities, upon which the story is based, would have shown in their everyday speech. The edited version of this movie should be almost flawless.

In Good Company
(2004)

A great movie with exceptional performances
For once, a story that is intelligent, realistic, deals with real life issues, and honors decent people. This was a rewarding movie experience. Lots of payoff. The ending is a little disappointing, but only because you care so much.

Nothing is better than a movie with a good plot and fine acting, and this movie delivers grand slams in both arenas. The beginning of the movie I was worried about production quality as the lighting created washed out color and the picture was grainy and of poor quality. It was almost like a documentary look to it. But, that issue dissipated with the unveiling of the premise and story.

Meet the Fockers
(2004)

Disappointingly poor
This movie was a real letdown. Completely inappropriate for family, kids -- anyone. Weak writing, depending on lewd jokes, cheap jokes. A horrible movie. That is my main complaint -- just bad writing, cheap tricks, dumb plot. A high school screen writing class could do better in one afternoon. No joke.

With a cast like that, it could have been so much more, so funny, but in every way this was a letdown.

There was not even one laugh-out-loud thing, and only a few that even brought out a snicker. Really, really bad.

I should have walked out and asked for my money back. Mad at myself for not doing so.

I, Robot
(2004)

This is better than critics and some are saying!
This is a movie, not literary art. For a blockbuster popcorn movie, it's astonishing. Great technical achievement in having computer generated characters mix with human actors. Years ago an essayist predicted that Hollywood would abandon multi-million-dollar actors and use computer-generated actors instead ... getting close. The script seemed strong to me, adding to Asimov's original idea and premise, turning it into both a thought-provoking and watchable movie. I thought Will Smith was stronger than usual, an increase maturity without losing his sarcastic ways. I think that all-in-all, the Robot "Sonny" really does need to get an agent and increase his movie salary next time. ;)

The Notebook
(2004)

Great movie
This film is a strong romance and love story.

Superb filmmaking, and the acting, especially Rachel McAdams, who was captivating, is of a high caliber.

It would have been nice if the mild nudity had been left out, and if the intense love-making scenes were more left to the imagination, though I admit that the scenes showed the intensity of their attraction.

Everyone has a story to tell, and this was a great story of a lifelong romance started the summer after high school.

*** Not for anyone under 16 or maybe even 18.

Parents should be wary of having children see this film, especially without talking about it afterwards. While the love story was powerful and it turned out well for the main characters, intense teen love can also lead to tragic mistakes that impact a lifetime. There is a certain lack of morality in the main characters (though they may have never been taught the morality), especially considering the time period of the story.

I return to the delight in the movie -- Rachel McAdams performance. Truly an inspiring job. She was perfectly cast. I am not sure about the casting of Ryan Gosling.

The Best Two Years
(2004)

2nd best LDS film ever (so far)
The real difference in LDS Films seems to be two things:

1. Acting. Many LDS films have had poor acting. This film had superb acting. My wife and I were shocked at how good the acting was. We kept waiting for sophomoric acting, and only saw minor glimpses of it a couple times. What a treat!

2. Budget for marketing. It seems at least 1/3 to 1/2 the money raised for these low-cost films has to go towards marketing. Not sure this one did that, but hopefully word-of-mouth will spread and build up a decent return for the investors/makers.

I think this film surpasses God's Army because the acting was much more consistent. Many will not agree with me. I still place "Charly" as the #1 LDS film because it had romance (a theme all of these need more of; and not the cynicsim the often have) and a knock-out performance by the title lead, Beery (is that her name?). The actor playing Sam was not as strong, but he held his own most of the time.

Kudos to an unexpectedly good film with "The Two Best Year" just when many people were about to give up on LDS film after the abysmal BoM movie and Pride & Prejudice, which has simply horrible acting.

The Passion of the Christ
(2004)

For LDS viewers
My wife and I decided to go see "The Passion of the Christ" movie despite its "R" rating. This has been much talked about in Utah, with its predominantly LDS population usually shying away from "R" movies. However, many have decided to go.

We were both strongly affected by the movie. For a 2 hr 15 min movie covering familiar territory from the Garden of Gethsemane to the first part of the Resurrection, it was amazing how fast it seemed to go, and that's for a movie in subtitles. At two instances, during the brutal beating of the Savior in Pilate's courtyard and then again the nailing on the cross, I wept. It was that powerful. However, the movie was shockingly brutal -- which could be powerfully moving to some (after all, do we think the beatings and crucifixion were not brutal?) or simply disgusting to others not in that frame of mind. The movie was dark from the start, beginning with the nighttime atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane, with the sweating drops of blood as it were. I personally was positively and spiritually affected, on balance, by the experience. My wife was more horrified and would rather that she had not gone. The movie was well done on many levels, especially considering the difficulty in putting out a subtitled religious movie.

There were only a few minor doctrinal issues I might take with the movie, though the Christ is put forth much more like the LDS image as opposed to the traditional Catholic image.

We would never have our daughters at the ages of 13 and 11 see this movie. Our sons (16 & 18) are a maybe, the oldest probably would be fine. I would put the minimum age at 16 to see the movie. I don't think a 14-year-old, on average, should see it.

I encourage all of you to see it if you are in the right (wanting, not overly affected by the brutality, able to take it in context) frame of mind. If not, skip it and read the New Testament.

Pride and Prejudice
(2003)

Disappointing - could have been so much more
OK ... just saw "Pride and Prejudice" tonight. Disappointing. The cast and crew must have gone to Yahoo movies and imdb.com and loaded the positive comments. I was really hoping for something better. It started off very weak, almost embarrassing. The two leads did OK, but everyone else was a poor actor. Acting has a lot to do with the success of these Mormon genre films - and the pacing of the story was uneven, especially at the beginning. It got a lot stronger at certain parts, but not enough to save it. It seems to me that the production quality was low - much lower than "The Singles Ward" for example.

I have taken straw polls of the LDS movies, and almost across the board the votes from 1 (low to 10 (high) are like this:

Charly ..................... 10

The Other Side of Heaven .... 9

Singles Ward ............... 8

God's Army ................. 8

Johnny Lingo ............... 7

The R.M. ................... 6

Pride and Prejudice ........ 5 (I'd give it lower)

I have not seen the following (but others that have say):

Out of Step ................ 4

Handcart ................... 4

Book of Mormon Movie ....... 2

Did I miss any?

The best quality (production-wise) movie was TOSOH for sure, but "Charly" has such a strong story and such fine acting (what a well-written character) from Heather Beers. Also, I think "Charly" leads in that it is a true love story, triangle, consummated love, and then moving tragedy. I don't know why Mormon genre films want to digress into weird outlaw areas, like the bizarre turn in "The R.M." (arrested while hometeaching and the dumb court scenes) to P&P's Vegas wedding and arrest sequences. This weird stuff doesn't happen to Gentiles let alone members of the Church. Why put unbelievable stuff like that in these movies? It become "theater of the absurd" rather than a good movie.

Back to what makes a good LDS genre movie ... I think "Charly" exploits the romantic notion of eternal marriage well, and scores big with it. "Singles Ward" slightly exploited it for comedic benefit. And these are the genre's best output so far.

How to Deal
(2003)

PARENTAL WARNING - Read this if you want to take youth to this movie
My wife and I think "A Walk to Remember" is one of the best teen films ever made. We purchased the DVD and have watched it numerous times, treating guests to the movie and it NEVER fails to deliver. Best of all, it has a moral and we see the main character truly changed from a sort of "bad boy" to a decent, caring young man. Mandy Moore did a great job in that movie and almost branded a "Mandy Moore Movie" as one we could trust our pre-teen and teen daughters to go see and teach them a little something.

The foregoing is exactly why this movie was such a violation of our trust in Mandy Moore. The movie is full of gratuitous bad humor and sexuality with not a lot of plot. It runs superficial and comes nowhere near the depth and true caring that comes across in "A Walk to Remember." But, back to the unneeded scenes. We get what they are trying to do, but the ends do not justify the means. From the use of the F-word to the humping dog scene to the taking of the clothes scenes to the ridiculous treatment of teen pregnancy and even downright closeups of Mandy Moore wearing tight clothing and perfoming stretching exercises. It goes on and on, and I can't even comment on the last 45 minutes of the movie because WE WALKED OUT. Only the second time in our entire lives -- the other being Johnny Depp's "Cry Baby" over 15 years ago.

And we were ot the only ones to walk out. We wanted to walk out early, but stuck with it. Other families -- and mostly families were at this movie -- walked out before us. And when we walked out, at least two or three other groups walked out. Two teenage girls (age 16-19, we couldn't tell) walked out and we talked to them. They couldn't believe it and felt just as let down and cheated by Mandy Moore as we did. They couldn't believe how bad the movie was from the perspective of decency. Again, we understand the point, and we trust in the final 45 minutesof the movie it resolved itself and some moral came across, but getting there was all wrong.

Mandy Moore, we were huge fans and big believers in you, and even liked your attitude on your DVD commentary on "A Walk to Remember" -- but this ruined you for us. Now a Mandy Moore movie will not be seen without severe editing -- thank goodness there are companies beginning to edit movies of this kind of unneeded content. But, maybe, we'll just stay away from Mandy Moore altogether. What a bad career move for her.

The Ring
(2002)

Ingenious use of videotape and DVD adds to intensity
The ingenious use of a videotape, an object the moviegoer is very familiar with and may even be using when first experiencing the film, draws the viewer into the film in a unique manner. If the viewer see the film for the first time on DVD, going to the "Don't Watch This" section of the special features may absolutely freak them out. This is a monumental combination of screenwriting, packaging, media use, and marketing. This was well done. And, has Naomi Watts ever looked this good?

Charly
(2002)

Best LDS Film to Date since Genre's Birth with God's Army
Charly is the best LDS film since God's Army opened up a new niche and made LDS film a viable product. Charly is literally a Mormon "Brian's Song" -- it will be a movie that 20 years from now families will pull out to see for its ability to tug at the heartstrings.

I would echo many of the positive comments made in previous posts, but will spare the reader a dose of redundancy - except in the case of Heather Beers. She was indeed perfect casting for the character of Charly and she delivered a knock-out performance. Jeremy Elliott (Sam) was competent, but he was outshone by Heather, someone with real star potential.

The movie surpasses the book (which I read 20 years ago) in greatness. There are some special moments -- about 3 or 4 -- where the comments by the characters are profound and penetrating. There is not a LDS couple who are truly in love with each other that will not feel that Charly and Sam could be them.

From purely academic and cinematic perspectives there were weaknesses, but these are overshadowed -- perhaps even forgotten -- by the sheer power of the story, and most of all the impeccable accuracy with which Heather Beers brings to the title character -- again, kudos to the casting director and Heather whom I hope gets a real breakthrough if that is what she wants (no telling if that would be the best thing for her as an individual and her family).

Lastly, it was also a very wise move to update the story from circa 1970s to circa 2000+.

The Other Side of Heaven
(2001)

This is the way the art of film should be employed
The film was an excellent portrayal of a Mormon mission to a far-away land. I know, because I served a similar mission and, in fact, had similar experiences. The sincere love and care, at the most fundamental, spiritual level, was communicated well. This is a family film that should transcend the genre and be a beacon to youth and young adults who look for a way to find themselves -- as He taught us, you find yourself as you lose yourself in the service of others.

Christopher Gorham did an excellent job. I felt he was a real Mormon missionary. The supporting cast was superb, especially Joe Folau. Anne Hathaway was underutilized, but there was no way to avoid it given the limitations placed on her by the story.

The most congratulations goes to Mitch Davis, who persevered obstacles in career and life to make his film. We are all blessed.

America's Sweethearts
(2001)

How could so much talent make such a bad movie?
After My Best Friend's Wedding, Notting Hill, and Runaway Bride, all in descending order of quality, how could this turn out so bad? Maybe it was too much talent and ego in one place? This movie dipped very low on the taste scale. It's overuse of crude humor (which didn't work) is a sign of desperation. The writers really failed on this one. The characters never developed well, and the romance was cardboard at best. Very strange how this one turned out as badly as it did. Not since "Crybaby" have I wanted to leave a movie more because it was just bad and disappointing.

The Family Man
(2000)

Very poignant and makes you think
Just saw the movie tonight (national opening night). My wife and I both felt this movie hit a home run, though maybe not a grand slam. Cage and Leoni showed a wide range of emotion and comedic timing, respectively. But, for me, the best part was how it reminded me of how much I love my wife and the feelings it brought to the surface. Now, that's a movie that works! The only major weakness may have been the ending - I'd like the story to have concluded more - though it may have left the viewer's imagination provide the ending, which may be the best of all. This is a real thumbs up. I appreciated the scenes that made me think a gratuitous sex scene was coming, and then it paused. Wish the lone f-word would have been left out. Overall: a winner. 9 of 10.

The Others
(2001)

Complete rip-off (plagiarism) of The Sixth Sense
Possible plot revelations ... warning.

This movie is an anemic rip-off of "The Sixth Sense." While "The Sixth Sense" was original in its mood, plot, and shocking twist at the end, this movie robs that same device with a plodding, slow development and too quick wrap up at the end. It is incredible that someone would even try to make this and open themselves up to such criticism. "The Sixth Sense" also explained the "doctrine" behind the parallel spirit world while "The Others" fails to explain the "why" at all. For instance, we know why the main character in "The Sixth Sense" could not tell he was the dead person, because "dead people only see what they want to see." There is no such explanations for anything in "The Others" -- and then to top it all off the movie attempts to create sympathy for a paranoid schizophrenic child murderer. Huh?! Disappointing on many levels. One positive note: the acting was above average by all players, which was appreciated.

Christmas Mission
(1999)

Superb film on LDS mission experience; Christmas classic
We watch this every Christmas inviting many families to our home. Surprisingly unknown even in LDS circles. The acting is well done by most of the leads, and some of them may be seen in other productions. The film never fails to touch at the end during the baptism scene.

Unbreakable
(2000)

Respectable but not on the same level as The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense was a masterpiece for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that all movie goers, from the young and uninitiated to the action flick fan to the sophisticated fan of art films, could enjoy the movie. It crossed all boundaries. Unbrakable is nowhere near that type of film, and was actually quite slow to develop, almost excruciatingly slow. The last half hour except for the abrupt and unfulfilling ending was much better. Lots of skill but it didn't come together the was The Sixth Sense did. Of course, a director/writer could go an entire career and not even have one The Sixth Sense. It is probably too much to expect a repeat.

The Family Man
(2000)

Very poignant and makes you think
Just saw the movie tonight (national opening night). My wife and I both felt this movie hit a home run, though maybe not a grand slam. Cage and Leoni showed a wide range of emotion and comedic timing, respectively. But, for me, the best part was how it reminded me of how much I love my wife and the feelings it brought to the surface. Now, that's a movie that works! The only major weakness may have been the ending - I'd like the story to have concluded more - though it may have left the viewer's imagination provide the ending, which may be the best of all. This is a real thumbs up. I appreciated the scenes that made me think a gratuitous sex scene was coming, and then it paused. Wish the lone f-word would have been left out. Overall: a winner. 9 of 10.

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