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Not bad, just underwhelming
When I go watch film like "X2" I come to it with no expectations. Anything more than that and I usually end up disappointed. The film wasn't bad. The comic fans will surely appreciate the efforts to bring in more of the original characters (even if just for a cameo appearance). The special FX are great, as should be expected. I was slightly turned off by the pace of the film: it could have been much more dynamic. And I guess the biggest disappointment for me (personally) was the almost non-existent role of Kelly Hu as Deathstrike. While hyped up in the commercials and TV specials, on screen she barely said two words, and had maximum of couple minutes of on-screen action. A pity, as I was looking forward to seeing this gorgeous girl in some hard-core ass kicking action.

Overall, not bad 7/10


Great French Kitsch and loving every minute of it!
What can you say about "Wasabi"? It's very Hollywood and very not at the same time. Subtle storyline (translate: the lack thereof), yet not noticably so. Jean Reno's acting and the outlandishness of Ryoko Hirosue makes up what the story lacks. Great humor, but not for everyone (just like esspresso, it takes getting used to). A little action, but when it strikes, it's quite exaggerated.

Verdict: great matinee when you need to run away from work. 8/10


Kitchy "War of the Worlds" meets "Field of Dreams"... M. Night: it's time to retire
"Sixth Sense" was okay, but uninspiring, "Unbreakable" boring... "Signs" is a rather pathetic attempt by M. Night Shamalyan to try to elevate himself to status of Hitchkock (I can't believe this bombastic dork has a gall to compare himself to Spielberg: in the "Signs" special that run on 8/4/02). The beginning credits already spoil the movie by having a very loud, scary, dramatic score overlay. This movie startles, but doesn't scare. It creates tension, but only for a few seconds at a time.

What I see as a biggest problem with the movie is a horribly wasted opportunity to make a good movie. The "War of the Worlds" theme is one of the grandest mistakes I have seen in movie making in the last decade. The director (please retire already: I'm sure you're rich enough) jumps right into the brainless Hollywood mainstream of "bigger is better" mantra. Wouldn't the movie been so much better if we didn't get this idiotic "alien invasion" storyline? I would have been much happier to simply see Mel Gibson being chased by aliens... because they like his corn or something.

Writer, director, actor and producer? Enough is enough. Even George Lucas has gotten help with his writing after "Phantom Menace" was criticized. And as for M. Night's acting... let's just say that Madonna has a leg up on him in the skill department.

3/10 overall, 1/10 story, 6/10 acting (but not M. Night's)

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

Lucas goes back to basics with lots of surprises
In "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones ", Lucas goes back to basics: staying with a simple story and great special effects; ties several loose ends (or rather unanswered questions); and most importantly expands the story and sets up the next and final episode of the prequel trilogy. Reviewers were rather divided on the movie, some screaming "A+" and some screaming "bloody hell". Without a doubt this part is superior to "Episode I", with faster action, more spectacular special effects and more character development. And while I believe that critics nowadays are completely unreliable (consider the Sony Movie Studio's fake critic) and the major ones tend to vote in blocks (Olympic skating comes to mind), I do agree with one of the common arguments from the negative reviews: "this movie will appeal much more to the true fan of "Star Wars" saga"... except that I find nothing NEGATIVE in that comment: Why in the world would anyone who is NOT a fan, ever go see Part II of a series? Even universally praised and accepted movies like "Gone With the Wind" or "Citizen Kane" don't appeal to everyone.

For the true fans, a lot of fun moments await: subtle hints tying the story or re-creating the mood of the original series (for example: a certain theme being played at an appropriate time, a preview of person appearing later in the series or an event which was mentioned in the original series but happened beforehand). I won't spoil anything, except to say: watch everything carefully. Just as in "Phantom Menace", when you notice the Wookies sitting in the Galactic Senate only the second time you see the movie, just so in "Attack of the Clones" there are events and tie-ins that you will certainly miss while watching the movie for the first time. Myself, I intend to wait a couple of weeks until the crowds clear out a bit and will go see the movie for the second time. Good job George, and good luck at the boxoffice (although you most likely won't need it).

I give it an overall 9 out of 10 ranking it right after "Empire Strikes Back". Story-line and that intangible "feeling" get 7.5, but the action, pace of the movie and special effects get a perfect 10: the best in the series so far.

Quo Vadis

Feels like a hybrid between a Catholic mass and "I, Claudius" TV show
Having read several rather unfavorable reviews of the movie, I went to see it with quite low expectations. I was not disappointed: the movie was not a total loss, but left me with a sense of horrible loss of $18 million (the movie's overinflated budget). The movie's very long and it drags on mercilessly. The editing is the worst I have seen in a long time: the wonderful sets were completely underexposed by the shabby cinematography (or the film edit). Cinematography is very "narrow": it constantly focuses on the close-up action and the actors themselves, and with a complete lack of scenic shots and good panning, leaves the viewer with a sense of watching "I, Claudius" on a big screen. In fact, "Quo Vadis" would watch much better as a TV mini-series than as a big screen feature. The sound effects are underwhelming, the music uninspiring. And most visibly, the visual effects are sub-par, even for Polish cinema. The rubber doll of Glaucus on a burning cross was laughable and the lion scene was quite frankly unmoving. Same clip of a woman being tackled by a lion being repeated at least twice and the the lions sometimes looked like they were toying with the Christians. Where exactly did the $18 million go Mr. Kawalerowicz? There is a debate currently in Poland about "old masters" and their recent superproductions. While I believe that anyone has a right to film anything, I do think it's time to stop subsidizing "lifelong dreams" of the "old masters" and devote the money to younger directors with less egos and more original ideas.


Propaganda and a waste of time
Since the early 90's, America and more notably Americans are on a steep learning curve about the existance of holocaust. Unfortunately, the view is always being told from just one perspective, and this TV-novela is no exception. There are a few good movies about the holocaust: "Schindler's List" while not being the best, tries to be more or less objective; Wajda's "Korczak" does a better job, but does not have enough of the muscle to be well known internationally; and a slew od documentaries (usually found on your local PBS channels), that give the information from all sides without taking on a slant of any sort. "Uprising" is definitely NOT one of the best movies; it belongs in the worst kind, filled with propaganda and inaccuracies. It repeats the same formula used in so many holocaust movies in the recent years: "good Jews, evil Nazis, dumb Soviets, indifferent Poles". It adds nothing of value to the discussion, with the exception of being rather offensive to the Poles and having a higly visible Zionist slant (escape to Palestine). What makes me disenchanted, and not just by this movie, but by countless others before it, is that one group's ignorance (Americans in general) is being replaced by other group's (media tycoons riding the holocaust bandwagon) subjective opinions. WWII in Europe was not JUST about the holocaust, and the holocaust was not JUST about the Jews. I'm still waiting to see a movie that will address ALL of the targets of Nazi persecution in the holocaust: Jews, Roma, gays, Catholic priests, Greeks and countless others. And while there is no denying of the evil and insanity of Hitler's plan, I'd like to see a little more objective analysis of why and how it happened, and not the simplistic view being presented in EVERY Hollywood movie on this subject.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Beautiful and realistic... so much it's almost too Hollywood
I've been eagerly waiting for this release for a while now and for two reasons: I'm a great fan of high-quality, computer rendered animation (CGI, CGM, whatever you want to call it), and I'm a great fan of the "Final Fantasy" video game series (especially VII and IX, which are just gorgeous).

"Final Fantasy" will not disappoint when it comes to computer rendering: the graphics are phenomenal. I'd be willing to say the best I have ever seen in this type of a movie. True... there are some details that could have been worked out a little bit better: at times the characters look like they're biting their lips, and the detail on some characters has been done better than on others. But there are also scenes in which you lose a feeling you're watching an animated feature and feel like you're watching real actors and actresses. Character movements are done exceedingly well, and the scenery is just magnificent.

Maybe it's the reality of the movie that accents it's biggest weakness: lousy voice-overs. For all the high paid cast like Ming-Na, Baldwin and Suderland, the emotion just isn't there. A lot of times listening to the characters is like listening to a second-rate radio show. I don't know if the movie will come out in Japan with a Japanese voice-over, but if it does: I'll have to check it out and hope that it's better than the American version (It is almost a pattern with Hollywood animated features: voice-overs usually suck). Another slight weakness is that the movie comes out too... Hollywood style at times. I'm not sure if it's the voice talents, or the movie action. It seems hard to tell sometimes.

Storyline is pretty original, at least for a movie. To those who say that there is no connection to the "Final Fantasy" series, I say: you haven't been paying any attention. There is an underlying theme in FFVII and somewhat in FFVIII and FFIX that is almost identical to the movie. But I won't give away any spoilers. Ending... not too Hollywood and for the best; otherwise I'd have to deduct another 2 or 3 points from the rating.

Go see it! It's truly eye-candy!

Oh! Soo-jung

This movie watches almost like a diary
I really enjoy movies shot in black & white, because they don't divert the viewer's attention too much from what actually is going on. I felt the movie was rather slow, but nonetheless makes some interesting social commentaries on dating in Korea. Whether they are true or not... beats me. Someone said that they felt the movie shows 7 days of courtship from two points of view. I almost felt like this was the "Sliding Doors"-like alternative time lines, but I suppose either one would work. Either way, not a bad movie.

The Art of War

It's WAY better than critics would let us believe
As usual, those fat and out of style critics miss a point. The reviews state that the movie is full of cliches and pointless script, yet these are the same critics that gave the 'X-men' thumbs up??? The movie has a fast story line and unlike most of the action movies this summer, this one actually kept me in suspense. Now of course it has some BAD lines, and parts of the story are a little hard to believe, but for the most part it kept me in the seat, and not looking at my watch thinking "when is this crap going to end". Wesley Snipes does his usual tough-guy act: it's not an Oscar caliber performance, but we'd never expect it from him. The movie also has some fresh faces on the screen that I found quite refreshing. Marie Matiko is very cute. If any performance that wasn't up to the par it was that of Donald Sutherland. Sorry... I'd rather see Sly Stallone as the Secretary General of the UN. So go on ditching the movie, oh God-like critics, but it will make its millions of dollars even without your help.


Masterpiece! A sweet love story turns into a horrifying, sadistic nightmare.
I've seen many Japanese horror movies, but by far this one ranks as the number one of all time. In a style reminiscent of David Cronenberg, Miike sets us up (the viewers) with a lovely, charming story of loneliness and love and we are lulled into a sense of security and comfort and then... we are torn out of our seats with excruciatingly painful scenes that made the audience at Seattle International Film Festival run towards the exits. I'm glad I stayed through the movie, since it proved to be a real masterpiece until the end. In a very un-Hollywood style, Miike doesn't give us a set, direct ending either. AUDITION leaves you with a sense of confusion that is exquisitely painful. Eihi Shiina's performance is absolutely fantastic: you'll never look at a Japanese women the same way again!


Chilling and psychologically painful
This is a masterpiece of a movie that will make you think twice about trusting your "friends". The fact that it is based upon a true story adds a whole other dimension to it. Interestingly enough, I read that the movie moved the Polish courts to reopen the criminal case upon which it was based. Truly a pity that it was not submitted to Cannes or Oscars, because it had a good shot for both.

Pitch Black

Good twist on standard "human meets alien monster" story
Cinematography in the beginning of the movie is really impressive. Shooting in almost one-color monotones really added to the feeling of the movie. Applause to the ending, which really ended up being unpredictable. Not very original otherwise and could have used a little more character development.

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