miken-3

IMDb member since January 2001
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Reviews

Million Dollar Baby
(2004)

A Truly Great Film!
had heard mixed reviews about the movie from sports fans so I held off seeing this film in the movies. I am sorry I waited because it is an excellent film, deserving of all the accolades it received. Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, and Morgan Freeman are all excellent and play characters with a lot of depth.

The supporting characters are good from the wannabees at Eastwood's gym who spend more time heckling a member named Houston than actually doing any real training, to Swank's pathetic "trailer park" family members.

Note: possible spoiler ahead: The only issue I had with the film is the antics of the "dirty" female fighter who does things behind the referee's back (like in a pro wrestling match) but is still caught on TV and she is never charged with any crimes even though her antics go way beyond any dirty stuff I have seen at hockey matches where players were criminally charged.

The Island
(2005)

The Best Summer Movie So Far!
I have seen Star Wars III, Batman Begins, War of the Worlds, and The Fantastic Four. While all those movies were excellent, The Island outshines them all. Scarlett Johansen and Euwene MacGregor are excellent as clones who have lived in an enclosed city with the promise of an ultimate trip to "The Island." This is supposed to be the ultimate reward for their service and those that get chosen to go, do so via a lottery.

MacGregor starts to get haunted by a dream where he is on a boat and being drowned. He tells this dream to the city doctor who appears to be more than intrigued by it, in fact he has a mechanical table violently take hold of MacGregor and inject robot mini probes into the sides of his eyes.

MacGregor's curiosity makes him start to question everything and it is sparked more by a maintenance man (Steve Busemi) who lives outside the enclosed city. (The people are told that the outside was contaminated from a great catastrophe). This curiosity continues to increase when he finds a rather large insect. MacGregor starts to learn the real truth behind the "lottery" and save his lady friend (Johansen) who has won the lottery and is scheduled to go to the supposed island.

The rest of the movie plays out like a super high tech version of Logan's Run. The special effects are amazing especially the futuristic Los Angeles. Even though you can kind of figure what will happen, the movie is compelling mostly due to the excellent acting of the two stars.

War of the Worlds
(2005)

Way Better then Expected!
Spielberg has done a superb job making this movie which is highly original from the 1953 version. In it Tom Cruise is an irresponible divorced father who is given charge of his two children for the weekend. The movie is about how he has to cope with death all around him while keeping his children and himself from becoming mad.

There are some real touching and heart wrenching scenes especially when his young daughter is witnessing the horrors of people being vaporized and hungry mobs attacking their car.

The special effects are phenomenal and the story grips you from start to finish.

There were a few confusing things like what the aliens were actually doing to the humans. It seems like they were mixing the humans' blood with some sort of plant to create vines all over everything. I hope that Spielberg will explain this when the DVD comes out.

Batman Begins
(2005)

Great!
After seeing the last three awful Batman movies I had to be coaxed to see this one. I was very glad that I went. This is not only by far the best Batman movie I have seen but the best comic adaptation film outside of the Spiderman movies! What always bothered me about Batman and my main sticking point with the Michael Keaton film was that he had all this elaborate equipment and this super high-tech batcave and it was never explained how he got it. Also, you wondered how nobody would be able to figure out who he was, especially the person who built the batmobile in that movie. Finally, we have a movie that explains everything and does it well.

Also, Batman doesn't appear till more than halfway through the movie and we don't really care. The character of Bruce Wayne is fascinating and the director did such a good job of telling the murder of Wayne's parents that it was difficult to watch the scene without crying yourself.

Liam Neeson is super in this film as a teacher to a troubled Bruce Wayne, schooling him in Ninjitsu and other fighting arts. Morgan Freeman is excellent as an employee of Wayne Enterprises who was pushed aside after the senior Wayne was murdered and who is in charge of a lot of R&D military equipment that he provides for Bruce. And of course Michael Caine makes a super Alfred! Then there is "Sargent" Gordon, who seems to be one of the few non-corrupt police officers that Batman immediately identifies as someone he can trust for help.

There are many memorable scenes in the film, especially where Bruce is making his first batarang and designing the Batman suit. The city looks a lot more realistic than any of the previous films (even though it doesn't look like the Gotham of the comics) as does the bat signal (it appears in the sky distorted, as it should).

I hope the director can do as well with a sequel and not be tempted to go off on the "camp" road that the other series of Batman films followed.

Shi mian mai fu
(2004)

Absolutely the Best Martial Arts Movie I Have Seen!
I can't say enough about how perfect this movie was made. It was like the director perfected every still with camera angles, "Matrix" effects, and rich colors. I had previously seen Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Hero and those movies seem like experiments that have led up to this perfection of a movie.

Two police officers are told that they have only a short time (I think it was 10 days) to catch or kill the leader of the Flying Daggers an apparent gang that is the enemy of "The General" (I assume he is like the military dictator of the province).

The boss policeman tells the other (Jin) one to pay a visit to a brothel and see if he can find any leads. Jin goes and is told by the madam that they have a new blind girl who has special talents, especially as a dancer. Jin is intrigued and asks to see this girl. It was told that the prior leader of the Flying Daggers had a blind daughter that disappeared. After the girl's performance in dancing, martial arts and swordsmanship, Jin and his boss think the girl may be the same blind girl that was the daughter of the Flying Dagger's leader. They arrest her and then threaten her with torture if she doesn't talk.

She is then rescued from her captivity by a masked Jin who helps her escape into the countryside. It turns out that Jin and his boss had the whole thing plotted, whereby Jin would win her confidence and she will lead him to the Flying Daggers.

The more time Jin spends with her, a romance slowly starts to develop, having Jin question what he needs to do and likewise for the girl. The romance is beautiful, and I put it up there with anything I have seen on film. Likewise the fight scenes are far better than either of the two previously mentioned films (there was no need for flying in this film which I hated about the other films). The kicks and punches look like they really land, unlike other films where you can see that they have really missed by six inches.

As the moods of the film change so do the colors and it seems like the seasons too. The movie has a few unresolved points at the end, so I hope it means a sequel will be made.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
(2005)

A Shame it had to end!
Lucas does a phenomenal job of tying up all the loose ends and showing how Anakin becomes Darth Vader. Natalie Portman is as gorgeous as ever (she didn't look too good in Garden State) and the light saber fights are awesome. There is one scene in particular where Obi Wan fights a robot that has several light sabers in his multiple arms.

The only problem I had was that the Jedi seemed to be defeated too easily after all when they have the force working for them they should be able to know when they will be ambushed. Only Yoda seemed to have this power but I guess he is the most powerful Jedi.

There was a surprise appearance of Chewbacca and some funny parts with R2D2. Should not be missed.

Garden State
(2004)

Very Deep and Very Funny
This is a movie that makes a good try at being "deep meaning" with a little humor thrown in but falls short. Zach Braff plays a displaced New Jersey young man who has moved to California and when he is not playing part-time actor he is wearing "Charlie Chan" make-up in a pretentious Vietnamese restaurant.

Zach gets a call from his father to return home to New Jersey because his mother has drowned in a bathtub accident. The dreamy, kind of insensitive Zach feels it is his duty to go. He kind of day dreams through the ceremony at the cemetery and then goes out partying with heavy drugs with his friends.

Zach complains to his father about sharp headaches and his father sends him to a neurologist to get checked out. While there, two significant things happen. First he meets Natalie Portman who is kind of spaced out herself and then he learns that his problems are probably related to the drugs his psychiatrist father has been proscribing for him.

Zach happens on Natalie later on and the two start hanging out together. There relationship slowly blooms and as there relationship improves they both realize that they are not really losers. Zach's problems relate to both the drugs he was taking and the guilt he had been carrying from a childhood incident involving his mother.

The movie has some really hilarious parts and I understand that Zach was the actual writer/director. Not a lot of action but an enjoyable and very different type of movie.

Robots
(2005)

Very Enjoyable!
really enjoyed this movie. The visual effects are so good that I didn't really care if there was a good story. However, there was! The son of an out-dated dishwasher robot goes to the big city to find the great robot inventor and share some ideas that he has. Along the way he meets up with Robin Williams who is a type of con-man robot with old parts and who is literally falling apart. Williams is excellent in this role and is the first cartoon role where I could understand him without being out of breath.

The trip to the big city parallels for the robot inventor parallels Dorathy's trip to Oz in search of the elusive wizard. In fact there is a door guard that kind of reminds you of the door guard from The Wizard of Oz.

We find that the great inventor has disappeared and an evil robot has taken over and has decided to force all old robots to the scrap heap, in an effort to sell robot upgrades instead of replacement parts.

The movie pokes fun at big business and their constant downsizing and cutbacks in service to increase their bottom line.

There are some amazing scenes such as a spectacular fall of dominoes and the trip that the young robot takes with the Robin Williams robot to the city.

This movie is very different than the usual "taking animal" animations that seem to be mandatory in these types of films these days. With likable characters and some good music and a good feel that kind of reminded me of a souped up version of the old Gumby cartoons.

The Forgotten
(2004)

Should be Forgotten
I am trying to think of something positive to say about this movie and I can't. The makers couldn't decide what they wanted to do and the movie is a total mishmash that leaves you shaking your head in the end.

A woman remembers seeing her son off on a plane and him dying in a crash with a friend's daughter that she knew from the playground. Nobody else seems to remember him and all traces of his existence seem to have been wiped out.

When she comes upon her "friend" he has also forgotten that both their children ever existed. The woman forces him to remember his daughter and then he decides to help her. The movie implodes from that point on and not even Alfre Woodard can save it. It seems like the director thought he was making another Matrix type movie whereas he was making a mishmash that couldn't decide whether everything was caused by aliens, gods, magic, or what. Don't bother with this one.

Troy
(2004)

Excellent!
If you liked the recent King Arthur or the Lord of the Rings movies, you should like this one. Everything about it was excellent from the cinematography, to the acting, with excellent action. The battle between Hector and Achilles is epic. Peter O'Toole is excellent, in probably his best role in years.

The makers took great liberties changing the story around from the myth with great success. Having known about the Trojan horse and how everything was going to work out in the end did kind of spoil it a little but not enough to take away one of the 9 stars.

Brad Pitt is excellent as Achilles!

Saving Private Ryan
(1998)

The Most Realistic War Movie I Have Ever Seen!
I guess with the age of video games and virtual reality upon us, it was only a matter of time for someone to capture the most realistic war scenes that have ever been depicted in film. The landing and ground fighting shown in the Normandy invasion literally makes the viewer feel like they were transported in time and are actually experiencing the real thing! Tom Hanks is brilliant as a shell-shocked veteran who is asked to perform a special service. That is to go through enemy territory and bring back the last surviving son of the Ryan clan. His other brothers having all recently perished in combat, leaving him the only remaining son.

The movie grips you from the start and there are some well scripted scenes with a lot of surprises in Hanks search for the last Ryan. You go through the movie hoping that Hanks will find him soon and be able to leave the hell of war before his nerves are totally shot.

What made this movie even more dramatic is that it is based on a true story! One of my favorite all-time war movies.

Ghost
(1990)

Great!!!
This is one of my top 50 favorite movies. Everybody is great in it from Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore to Whoppi Goldberg. Even the two villains were excellent though I heard that the actor who played Willie Lopez actually passed away not long after making the film.

Sam Wheat a banker, is murdered during a mugging while coming from a show with his girlfriend Mollie. For some reason Wheat is still walking the Earth, now in ghost form. He follows Mollie and finds that the killer was really after a password that he had to authorize funds transfers through the bank. Now Mollie is also in danger from the killers and Sam feels helpless.

Sam then happens upon Goldberg, who is running a scam as a medium who can communicate with the dead. Apparently, Goldberg can hear Sam talk so Sam uses Goldberg to try to communicate with Mollie and warn her of danger.

Sam then realizes that the only way to protect Mollie is to be able to use some sort of physical force. The only problem is as a ghost he has no physical substance so he cannot touch anything. Or can he? Sam learns that maybe he can touch objects when he encounters another ghost who is able to do just that. The other ghost turns out to be one of the most entertaining characters of the film.

The movie has it all from a love story, to excellent comedy, fairly decent special effects and a great story.

Enough
(2002)

Too Far Fetched!
Lopez as a battered wife who escapes her abusive husband with her daughter and goes into hiding. With huge financial resources and a bunch of mafia like goons behind him it is only a matter of time before the husband tracks Lopez down.

As a last resort, Lopez goes to train with a martial artist who trains her to be able to fight back against whatever attack her husband may throw at her. When her training is complete Lopez goes with the intention of actually beating him to death but later learns that her humanity will not let her do it.

I felt a lot of the movie is a little far-fetched to rate it higher, otherwise I would have given it seven stars. Lopez does toughen up in the movie (a la Linda Hamilton in Terminator II) and gives a totally different persona than she normally shows.

Defending Your Life
(1991)

Excellent!
This extremely entertaining film focuses on Albert Brooks as a man who dies in an accident and ends of in a stop-off point between Earth and Heaven. It turns out that when you die, your life is reviewed and if you merit it, you proceed to Heaven otherwise you are sent back to Earth to live your life again. The problem with Brooks is that he has been sent back so much that this is his last chance or he will be reduced to nothingness.

Defending Brooks' life is his lawyer played brilliantly by Rip Torn against the vicious prosecutor (Lee Grant). While in a restaurant on the first night Brooks meets Meryl Streep who is also there for the same purpose.

While Brooks' life was plagued with cowardice and failure, Streep was a valiant person that cared deeply for others. We can't figure out what Streep's attraction is for such a loser like Brooks but as their time together progresses, some of Streep's raw nerve start to rub off on Brooks.

There are some really hilarious scenes including a cameo by Shirley MacClaine in the Hall of Memories and the differences in the hotels assigned to Streep and Brooks.

I really loved this movie and can watch it over and over!

Frida
(2002)

Instant Classic!
Salma Hyak looks amazingly like the actual Frida Kahlo in this wonderful testament to one of the most misunderstood and fascinating personalities of the 20th century! Frida was the victim of a bus accident that nearly crippled her and left her in agony throughout her life. As a result, Frida saw the dark side of life and painted some of the most amazing abstract works of art that I have ever seen.

Frida formed a bond with the famous political painter, Diego Rivera. The two share a stormy relationship and eventually marry. Frida overlooks most of Diego's extramarital affairs until Diego goes after Frida's sister. Thus, she feels betrayed and leaves him.

Frida herself is a kinky persona sharing relationships with both men and women. There is a very erotic scene of Frida dancing tango with another woman.

Frida eventually meets Leon Trotsky and the two united by their socialist political views end up having an affair. When Trotsky is murdered, Frida and Rivera are suspected but are later exonerated.

In a touching scene in the movie, an incredibly ill Frida is brought in her bed to attend her own art exhibit at which her talent is expounded to a crowd by Rivera.

This movie should not be missed and anyone with an appreciation for good art would love it!

Lost in America
(1985)

Hilarious!
I loved this movie about a California based adman who gets a transfer to New York and refuses to move. As a result he is fired. Weighing his options with his wife, the couple decides to sell everything and buy a large RV and travel the country for a few years.

At Brooks' insistence the couple decide to stop off in Las Vegas to get remarried. When Brooks goes to sleep, his wife sneaks off and loses everything they have in the casino. With no options the couple are forced to live in a trailer park and take very low paying jobs.

Through it all, Brooks starts to realize that moving to New York might not have been a bad decision after all Gary Marshall makes an hilarious cameo as a casino manager that has to explain to Brooks how his wife lost all there money and then becomes annoyed when Brooks suggests that it would be an advertising boon if the casino gave all the money back.

I loved this movie!

Saturday Night Fever
(1977)

A Classic
This is the ultimate gang movie taken to a new height, that being a dance club or discoteque as the clubs were called in the 70's and 80's. John Travolta was a young actor with a lot of energy, gives a performance of high caliber as as likable street tough (Tony Manero) who works in a paint store by day and goes with his buddies to the 2001 Oddessy club in Brooklyn at night where he transforms into the ultimate club dancer.

One night he meets Stephanie, an older woman who tries to make Tony "grow up" and train to compete with her in an upcoming dance contest. Along the way Tony has to deal with his deadbeat father, his mother who only loves his priest brother, his brother who needs to quit the priesthood and find himself, Annette who is Tony's ultimate "groupie," and Tony's friends who seem to be getting into scrapes with a rival gang.

The movie is full of memorable lines and the clothes that Tony wore, especially the white suit, caused a fashion revolution.

Probably the be movie for getting a feel for life in the late 70's.

Back to School
(1986)

Rodney at his best!
Rodney plays Thornton Mellon, a successful businessman married to Vanessa (Adrienne Barbiou) who fools around with any man she can find. Thornton does not really care because he is worried that his son Jason is failing in college and may drop out.

In order to keep his son in school, Thornton has to go there himself and do something he has never done - study for himself.

Thornton's problems are compounded by Phillip, the know-it-all Business professor who hates the street-smart Mellon. Phillip will do anything in his power to see that Mellon is expelled from school.

Thornton falls hard for his English teacher (Sally Kellerman) who happens to be dating Phillip, causing a bigger rivalry between Thornton and his teacher.

There are side splitting hilarious moments in this movie including a couple of tirades by Sam Kennison as the crazy history professor. One of the funniest movies I have seen!

The Pride of the Yankees
(1942)

My Favorite Baseball Movie!
This may not be the best baseball movie made but it is definitely my favorite! It is a little campy at times but Babe Ruth gives an enjoyable and convincing portrayal of himself and other greats including Bill Dickey also appear.

Teresa Wright and Gary Cooper have great chemistry and their interactions are classic 1940's. The movie does stretch the truth somewhat (Gerhig promising to hit three home runs for a crippled boy and hitting the third in dramatic fashion, never occurred) but it is all in good fun.

Walter Brennen is phenomenal as the friendly reporter who follows Gehrig from city to city and chronicles his career.

There are priceless scenes on trains as the Yankees traveled from city to city (this has been replaced by corporate and charter jets) especially when the player try to make Babe Ruth angry! The re-creation of Gehrig's farewell at Yankee Stadium is one of the most heart warming scenes in movie history!

It's a Wonderful Life
(1946)

It's a Wonderful Movie!
This rates up with my top 5 favorite movies of all time. I grew up on the Donna Reed show and remember that this was the movie I always saw her in and she was a lot more beautiful then. James Stewart is great as George Baily, the guy who wanted to help everybody and sacrificed his own financial success.

The idea that one doesn't realize one's worth until you are removed from the equation has been copied hundreds of times since but never as well as this movie.

Clarence is probably the most enjoyable bumbling character that I have ever seen. There is a cameo by an adult Alfalfa Sweitzer (for the Our Gang series) and the characters of Bert and Ernie later were immortalized by Sesame Street.

The ending of this movie is the "feel good" ending of all-time!

When the Party's Over
(1992)

Forgettable
Other than seeing a young Sandra Bullock looking cute in a film that was made before she was a star, there is not a lot of positive things I can say. Several young people share an apartment, joined together by Rae Dawn Chong's character, MJ (that in itself should be a tipoff because I cannot remember a Chong movie post-Commando). Tensions mount at the big party and MJ's self-destructive personality causes the friends to break up when the party ends including a couple that just got engaged during the party.

There are some uncomfortable scenes such as when Bullock's 16 year old brother jumps into bed with MJ and says that she will be the one to "deflower" him and then immediately falls asleep. Basically, the movie had the same effect on me!

The Terminator
(1984)

Possible the Best Action/Sci Flick of all time!
I remember going to this movie thinking it would put me to sleep. After all, back then Arnold was just a muscle guy who had made Pumping Iron and then the not too good, Conan the Barbarian. Boy was I wrong! This movie hooked me from the opening scene and even Arnold's stiff sounding dialogue was perfect for the cyborg he was playing! The chase scenes and narrow escapes had my heart pounding throughout the film! There were many scenes in this film that were firsts for movies such as Arnold removing a damaged robotic eyeball, seeing how the robot mind decided on what dialogue to say and having a robot disguise their voice to sound exactly like a dead human! The other Terminator films may have had the computer enhanced special effects, but they could not match the storyline of this action/SciFi classic that is probably the best all time of its genre!

That Thing You Do!
(1996)

Excellent!
Tom Hanks gives another brilliant performance, this time as a band manager for a fictional record company.

A group of small town teens from Erie Pennsylvania have an amazing sound and a catchy song that gets Hanks attention. He weans them along slowly while the lead singer thinks it is too slow. As their popularity grows (and they take the name The Wonders), the lead singer's patience wanes and he feels too big for his girlfriend (Liv Tyler), who has stood by him through the band's struggles to get to the top. As he pushes her away, she drifts more towards the band's drummer, who seems to be the most caring of the group.

The movie has an amazing scene where the drummer goes to a "jazz" club and meets his all time idol, who turns out to be a regular guy and not the prima donna that the Wonders' lead singer is.

Though the groups and the songs were made for the movie, they all sound like they could have been made in the 60's and would have been definite hits! I am surprised that this movie was not a mega-hit because it is really that good.

Flatliners
(1990)

Excellent!
This movie is great from start to finish about a group of med students that get together and literally kill each other by stopping their hearts and then revive themselves. They then research what happens from the "near death" experiences. As each one goes through the experience, they become haunted by their deepest fears that seem to materialize as reality. This ranges from dead kids with hockey sticks to dead fathers that seem to be upstairs.

The cast is first rate and Oliver Platt is hilarious in one of the best roles of his career. I am not a big Keifer Sutherland fan but even he does an excellent job. This is a movie that I can watch over and over!

Dying Young
(1991)

Painful to watch because of content!
had a real hard-time viewing this film. It is hard to watch a movie about someone going through chemotherapy. That is why I rated the movie low. If it doesn't bother you, you may give the movie a higher rating. I also was not convinced by Julia Roberts performance and saw no reason for her to gradually fall in love with the gentleman that is going through the ordeal. He seemed to be very obnoxious the whole time!

The scenes where he goes through his painful chemotherapy are very difficult to watch and one wonders why Roberts is willing to stay with him.

If you want to see a really moving story with Julia Roberts about death, I highly recommend the movie Flatliners. Roberts gave a much better performance in that one.

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