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If there was a movie here, I missed it.
Being from Grand Rapids, MI (where most of the film was shot) I figured I'd see how good of a product Mr. Jackson and his crew turned out.

First, a minor gripe about location. Understandably, just because it was filmed in Grand Rapids doesn't mean that it's set in Grand Rapids-- but at times the movie seems to think it is. "Rich" talks about money and guns coming from the east side of the state (Detroit) to the west (Grand Rapids), and also talks about a proximity to Chicago. That's all GR, along with every street named in the movie (heck, the "44th street slums" would be near my office...if there were any slums on 44th). But then the ending seems to take place in Detroit, with no mention about a police force from one side of the state going to the other side. It's only a gripe because of where I live, but it just showcases a level of confusion on the part of the film.

That confusion runs everywhere else, though. Is "Rich" a good guy or bad? What exactly are the cops trying to do? Is "Angel" good or bad? He goes free at the end, even though he killed just as many people in the movie as "Rich". Ultimately, I'm just left trying to figure out if there was much of a story here at all.

On the plus side, the acting is decent (although it sounded like Mr. Jackson had cotton balls in his mouth the entire time), and it really is shot beautifully. It's just too bad such a nice looking film had nothing else going for it.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Ironic that no one ever complains that these movies disrespect the original cartoons...
I read reviews of movies like Transformers and see people saying that Michael Bay did various bodily functions on their childhood for completely ignoring the cartoon/comics that started it all. Then I read reviews of the Chipmunk movies where people just call them garbage...and almost never mention the original cartoons. And yet I know that many of the reviewers are my age and grew up watching the cartoons in the 80's (or reruns of the originals from the 60's). The source material isn't's a cartoon about singing rodents. Don't ask for too much story.

Both the original movie and the Squeakquel are, IMO, very true to the source. They've got heart, they've got slapstick, and they've got plenty of camp and stupid humor that you should really expect from a movie about talking chipmunks. I enjoyed the Squeakquel even more than the original because Jason Lee's "Dave" was almost completely non-existent. He's simply a terrible choice for the role. After being incapacitated in the first minutes of the Squeakquel, Zachary Levi's "Toby" basically fills in and does a great job. They should have just recast "Dave" with Zachary, instead of keeping Jason Lee but realizing that he's terrible in the role.

Don't go see this and complain that it was an insult to your intelligence. Go to the movie expecting a bunch of over the top (and often totally childish) humor with some cool music and a good (albeit simple and hokey) family story. If you liked the cartoons, you'll like the first movie and the Squeakquel.

Kim Possible

What a cool show--check your brain at the door fun!
Our TiVo just happened to suggest this show to us--what a find. Anyone that was a fan of The Tick would probably fall in love with this show.

The bad guys are over the top, the "heros" seem to look at saving the world as a hobby, and the storylines just keep hopping. Throw in a lot of laughs, some running gags, and a naked mole rat, and you've got yourself a show!

Yeah, the characters are fairly one dimensional. The bad guys plans are absolutely ridiculous. The gadgets are completely impossible. But that's why it's fun! Honestly, anyone that wants character development of a girl whose father is a rocket scientist and whose mother is a brain surgeon, and who goes around saving the planet in her spare time, should really turn off the TV and read a good book. Stop watching cartoons expecting high drama...

The Royal Tenenbaums

What did I miss?
Yeah, this movie had it's moments, and I'm sure, in somebody's mind, the characters were extremely well thought out. What was missing, though, was that person letting the audience in on the secret. What drives each of these people? Angelica Houston and Danny Glover seemed to be there to fill time--we never learn anything about them. Chas is obviously driven, but why? And why is he driven 20 years after our "introduction"--is he still selling spotted mice? Is he doing anything? Are those people setup in his room just for his own ego? And what the heck is up with the sweatsuit? Margot felt rejected as a child, and so never established a real relationship with a man. Tired. I've seen that before. Richie (was that his name? it's never a good sign when I can't remember a primary character's name) played tennis, but was in love with his sister (YUCK!). Apparently that disgusting revelation is supposed to make things interesting. The only character that is fleshed out is Royal. But even he seems to flip flop a lot--there was no definate progression from sleazebag to decent guy.

I'll admit, I'm not into dark comedies. Maybe that's what I'm missing. But something definately slipped by me.

Moulin Rouge!

Possibly the best movie I have ever experienced.
You know, somebody commented how, if Ridley Scott could make ancient Rome seem real, why couldn't Baz Luhrmann do the same for 1900's Paris? Let me ask one question--when you read a love story, do you think of the handsome prince and the beautiful princess in their fairy tale castle, or do you think "Boy, I wonder how they run the plumbing in that thing?"

There's three responses to that question. 1. "I don't read love stories." If that's your answer, stay away from Moulin Rouge. 2. "Well, princes and princesses still need to use the facilities, right?" Again, stay away. If you answered "And the castle probably has beautiful tapestries, and the stars always shine directly overhead", then get to the theater now. You won't want to miss this.

Moulin Rouge is a story. We experience the story, just as (in many ways) our imaginations would allow us to experience a story we are read. The imagery is beautiful, captivating, and totally unrealistic. We are immersed in the story, not the nitty-gritty details of the setting. What we see is not Paris, 1900. What we see is what we feel.

Let yourself be captivated. Let yourself be mesmerized. Let yourself feel this story. If you can do that, it will touch your soul.

Wo hu cang long

I know why everyone has such praise for this movie...
If you don't understand it, it must be good. People are afraid to pan this movie, because they think somebody will come along and say how much of a neaderthal they are. Well, face the facts, folks, the movie isn't as good as you are afraid it might have been.

Some have criticized the plot; I'll go to the other end of the spectrum--it's not that beautiful of a movie. Ang seems to be going the way of a sitcom director--focus in close on people's faces. When there is a wide enough shot to actually see the scenery, the action is so hyperfast that you can't enjoy it.

One other thing that really visually distracted me--the poor effects. The wire work wasn't that great--I'm supposed to believe that these people, who have reached such a sense of oneness with the universe that they can fly, are going to be flailing their legs all over the place while flying? If you really want to portray the majesty of flight, let's really get a feel for them flying, not waving their appendages to keep their balance on the wires.

And the infamous plot (I never said I wouldn't criticize it, I just wanted to start somewhere else) was pretty much as bad as people say. In fact, I should say both plots weren't great. On the one side, a man decides to give up his current path in life, only to find that he can't. He's in love with somebody, too (doesn't he have to be?). On the other side, a girl falls in love with the Dread Pirate Roberts--sorry, wrong movie. Same difference, though. At least Princess Bride had some humor. Cookie cutter, all around. Too bad they took two hours to tell it--it was a 15 minute story, at best.

All that said, I'd still give the movie 5 stars out of 10--it's not bad, it just isn't great. Rent it or buy the DVD, and fast forward through chunks of it.

Music of the Heart

A wonderful movie that sometimes just tries too hard to bring you to tears...
As the son of a music teacher, Music of the Heart presented a story that had some very personal connections to my own life. It's definitely a four hankie; unfortunately, it tries too hard to get to that point. To many points in the movie seemed to scream out "We are going to MAKE you cry this time!"

The only technical flaw in this movie was the directing style. It appears that Wes Craven had a difficult time moving from the quick cut horror style he has done for years. To many cuts had discrepancies between them (people standing in places they weren't in a split second before, stuff moving around, facial expressions drastically different). Wes' horror style also managed to squeeze its way in; to many scenes used techniques often used to imply impending doom in horror films.

With that said, I still give this movie a 7 out of 10, and would highly recommend it. Bring some kleenex...

Batman & Robin

The worst part about the movie...
I won't spend the time going over all that is bad with this movie. Hundreds of other people have already done that. There is one thing I want to say about it, though. One thing so horrible, so shattering, that it makes me hang my head in sorrow every time I think about it.

The worst thing about Batman and Robin is that it can't be salvaged. I tend to compare B&R to Star Trek V; both had poor stories, awful effects, total lack of continuity to their predecesors. Star Trek V, though, didn't do anything that couldn't be salvaged. You just kinda ignored the fact that it happened, and went on to ST6.

B&R, on the other hand, did so many major things that I lost count. They completely destroyed Mr. Freeze, who I think is one of the best characters in the Batman universe. A villain who really doesn't want to be a villain, but his dark past keeps forcing him. Ahnold played him as the Joker in a flashy suit (Actually, doesn't every villain in all 4 Batman movies play like the Joker in different makeup?). They destroyed the character of Bane; the only villain to ever defeat Batman. And don't even get me started on what they did to Batgirl. How could they ever salvage that?

The only way that a good Batman film could ever be done again is to either wait 10-20 years, and do it as a new franchise, or have Bruce step out of the shower at the beginning, saying how it was all just a dream...

The Matrix

When I got out of the chair at the end of the movie, the arm rests had grip marks in them. I had an almost impossible time resisting the urge to start running up the walls or jumping across multiple aisles in the parking lot. I had to make a cell call after I got to my car, and, as soon as my friend picked up, blurted out "Tank, I need an exit! FAST!"

There's no way a page of comments could describe this movie. Go see it. Go see it now. If you've already seen it, go see it again.

Wing Commander

It's really not that bad...
Well, I've seen it twice now. I'm sure that says something. The one thing that I told myself as I went into the theater was "This isn't the game". Too many people were expecting Mark Hammil, or Biff from Back to the Future, and were miffed that the movie didn't include them, or anyone that looked like them. So far, I haven't heard anyone say complain that Val Kilmer or George Clooney didn't LOOK like Michael Keaton; the portrayal of their character is a different story...

I'll admit, the movie had a cookie-cutter plot. Young guy doesn't realize his potential, young guy is mocked, best friend stands up for him, young guy saves the day. That, and the standard "Have someone how loves and loses, and someone who falls in love at the end." But, then again, how many movies have been made that have a cookie cutter plot?

I was quite impressed with the acting. I'll admit, I haven't been a big fan of the teen slasher movies, so this was my first experience at seeing a lot of these guys. The young Blair was portrayed exactly as I would have expected, not too sure of himself, too willing to scurry into a corner rather than face confrontation. Maniac was great; much better than the poor portrayal in the last 3 iterations of the video game. I mean, let's face it, Maniac's character was completely re-done in WC3, to make him exactly like Biff. And Paladin was excellent. Not anything like the Paladin of the games (it took a while to get used to a non-scottish Paladin), but a very good, dark, but fatherly figure.

The effects were incredible, especially when you consider the (relatively) meager budget the film was done on. Yeah, the NavCom looked like a car battery, and the Kilrathi were lacking. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the original intent was to NOT show the Kilrathi at all; someone decided this would be too artistic of a move, and created some cheesy looking aliens at the last minute.

My favorite aspect of the movie, though, was how it abandons the standard "Everything is bright and pretty and technological in Sci-Fi". The ships were beat on. The cruisers looked like they had to be held together with bailing wire. The bridges of the vessels were dark, cramped, and simple. The ships shot bullets, rather giving us bright and technical laser beams. Also, humanity wasn't portrayed as being perfect; there were factions, and racism, and everything else that we experience on earth today.

I'm just waiting for the DVD...

Star Trek: Insurrection

Not nearly as bad as I was expecting!
I went to the theater last night expecting the usual dreg known as Star Trek ever since Rick Berman took over. I was pleasantly surprised! The movie was, in a word, fun. Good action, great effects, and one liners up the ying yang. I might even consider seeing it again, and it will definitely be a DVD in my collection.

I gave the movie a 7 out of 10 because of three problems I found with it. 1. Way too much technobabble. Too often, now, Star Trek resolves its problems by coming up with some new technobabble to throw at it. 2. The Enterprise is treated in the same way that most movies treat 1982 Ford sedans--just fodder for the car chase scenes. A long time ago, the Enterprise used to be a character on Star Trek. When the Enterprise died in Star Trek 3, I cried. When the Enterprise was near destruction in First Contact and Insurrection, I shrugged it off. 3. Who on earth came up with the "Manual Steering Column"?!?! This had to be the most incredibly stupid thing I have ever seen in a Star Trek movie. Luckily, it was only there for a second (making me ask again why it was needed), so it didn't grate me like other stupid ideas (like Star Trek 5's elevator shaft)...

All that being said, I felt that those issues were minor in comparison to how much fun the movie was. I'd say it broke the odd number curse, but I never believed in such a thing, since I felt that ST8 was trash, and ST1 and 3 were some of the best films ever made. So, get your ticket, check your brain at the door, set your phaser on stun, and get a good seat!

There's Something About Mary

A couple good laughs, and enough physical humor about a man's privates to make you vomit
Can you say "Waste of $7"? What is so #$%@#$ funny about a guy getting himself stuck in a zipper? I wanted to grab myself and run out crying. Maybe I'm just too intelligent. Maybe my friends are just too intelligent; would it help if I hung out with 5 year olds?

Deep Impact

It's not an action movie, boys and girls!
It isn't an action movie. There are no guns; no chunks of rock falling out of the sky onto bad actors, no mind blowing special effects shots. No tough guy hero, no forbidden romance. To twist around a commonly used phrase, "It's about the story, stupid!"

I found the movie captivating. Perhaps my favorite parts were the scenes aboard the spacecraft with Robert Duvall, and anything with Morgan Freeman. Of course, the best part was the scientific accuracy, maybe because I passed sixth grade science (as opposed to the writers of another big disaster flick this year)...

The only gripes I had with the movie were Elijah Wood's young love (OK, so I don't get into teenage love conquering all odds), and the fact that MSNBC was actually portrayed as a viable network... :)


Almost missed it, but I'm so glad I didn't!
It still amazes me how quickly this movie disappeared from theaters. My fiance and I planned to see it while on vacation, but the theaters there had already pulled it in favor of BASEketball, or some other mindless drivel.

Luckily, we have two 20 screen theaters back home, and had a chance to see it before it moved on. We both agreed it was one of the best movies we had ever seen. The perfect romantic movie. It had humor, drama, and absolutely incredible sets, locations, and costumes. Even if you don't get into romantic movies, the sheer beauty of the film will captivate you.

This is one movie that I am counting down the days till it arrives on DVD...

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

A beautiful work of poetry
Although Star Trek 3 lacked the action that packed Star Trek 2 and 6, it made up for it in the almost poetic dialogue. The lines uttered by the crew are not something you would hear in real life, but they rival the works of some of the best poets and playwrites.

The other wonderful aspect of this movie were the brand new effects. The number of new starships presented in this movie (including my all time favorite, the Grissom), and the incredible view of Spacedock are worth the price of admission alone. I remember when I first saw the previews for this movie years ago on television. I sat in front of my 15" TV and drooled. Unfortunately, I was 8 at the time, and my parents wouldn't allow me to go to the theater. Well, such is life...

Home Fries

The worst movie I have ever seen
Home Fries has to be the worst movie that I have ever seen. Only one other time in my life have I had the urge to simply leave the theater. The movie, presented as a light hearted romantic comedy in the previews, turned out to be some poorly presented black comedy about 2 brothers trying to kill their father and his ex-lover. The plot was hideous, which was most evident in its use of the magic apology at the end, where the main character simply says a couple of nice words, and is magically forgiven for his attempt to murder 3 people.

The movie had potential. Unfortunately, every last bit of that potential was ignored.

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