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The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Keep your expectations low and have fun
This movie greatly exceeded my expectations, but that is because they were low. I've read and enjoyed all of the books but it is really an exception to my movie going/reading habits. When Edward enters the screen for the first time they film it in slow motion, while he gives a bit of a swagger, and super-cheesy music plays. Bwahahaha! Love it.

It does not significantly differ from the books. The wolves, well, they're okay, not fab but not so realistic either. I recall seeing the Golden Compass (which Weitz BOMBED) and the daemons were similar. Fortunately they don't talk or tap dance.

I'm disappointed in Robert Pattinson. He actually can act, but for some reason he decided to adopt a mono-expression of pain and suffering from the very beginning until the end. Stewart is okay, I have actually always enjoyed her Bella, who is very introverted. Taylor vastly improves upon the book character, who I find to be a cocky little git.

So with all this bad stuff, why did I enjoy the movie? Because it was campy and fun, and I didn't take it too seriously. I recommend large amounts of audience participation and to go when there are a maximum levels of gushy teenage girls around you, so that they squeal when the trailer for "Remember Me" comes on.

The Golden Compass

Enjoyable, but falling short of expectations
For all of you who are fans of the book, I'll go there. I am also a fan, but I tracked the production of this movie obsessively for years, so I knew what changes to the story were coming. I do not think that by themselves they amount to cutting the soul of the story out. It is my opinion that in order to do a wonderful job capturing the story you would have needed a lot more time in this movie, something like Lord-of-the-Rings-esquire three hours, and no kid is going to sit through that happily. Many of the almost-major characters (Lee Scoresby, Serafina Pekkala, Iorek Byrnison) follow our protagonist for unclear reasons. Iorek is a disappointment, and Ian McKellen was a terrible choice for his voice (and normally I love Ian McKellen, but he is no bear!) The daemons are AMAZING.

But most important thing to be aware of is how this stands as a movie in itself, and I am sad to say that it does not. True, it does not make many of the mistakes that films aimed at children make. There is no moral that they beat you over the head with throughout the film. The acting is superb - Nicole Kidman and Dakota Blue Richards were spot-on choices for their roles and they do an incredible job. The special effects are well done.

The biggest problem is the script. It shows that Chris Weitz's ego got in the way of his better senses when he decided to write the screenplay. Many of the events are disjointed and feel like they were thrown in there for the benefit of following the book but NOT for the benefit of crafting a good movie story. I went to the cinema with friends who had not read the books and they did not particularly care for the movie. There is no doubt that it shows many of the elements that made the book incredible. But what it lacks is the wry humor and master storytelling that made these books more than just your ordinary fantasy series. There are many mediocre fantasy books and movies that feature incredible creatures - witches, multiple worlds, aliens, talking animals etc - but Pullman's tale was one of growing up, told with wisdom. It has disappeared, you might say that it has undergone intercision.

X-Men: The Last Stand

ridiculousity incarnate
This movie isn't the horror that some would make it out to be, but it does have some fairly annoying holes in its story and certainly isn't as good as the last X-men movie was. This one gets caught up in its own eye candy too much, skimps on logic, and flies in the face of much of the comics themselves. Now #3 might not be a reason to dislike this movie if you're not a comic book fan, but #1 and #2 would probably do it. It is one of those movies which is awesome on one level (re: Kaboom! Awesome action! Woooow) and totally ridiculous on every other level. Enjoyable with friends, but I'd recommend sitting in a part of the theatre where you can easily chuckle.


SO ridiculous
Utterly implausible at every turn, the MST3K robots would have a field day with this movie. I don't know what I find the silliest, that in the future we still send in troops without helmets and armor, the lack of intranet, that every military man doesn't know "big words" but does know how to perform resuscitation...really there is too much that is stupid about this movie to go into all of it. Of course, if you're in it for laughs, have a blast. But this is low even as action movies are concerned. Nothing really neat to look at goes on - half the time is spent in "tension" while you simply hear nasty noises. Oh, and good luck trying to find a reason to care about your "characters".

There is only one redeeming factor: the last scene where the Rock fights Karl Urban while they're both souped-up on the special chromosome is awesome. Hey, even a dog has its moments.

Shrek 2

Excellent sequel, as good as the original
After coming out of the screening of Shrek 2 today with my roommate, who writes movie reviews for a local paper, she sighed "I can't think of anything to say. It's so hard to write reviews of the good movies. It is much easier to trash the bad ones."

She has her work cut out for her. Shrek 2 is smart, extremely funny and comes across with just as strong a message as the first movie. Shrek and Princess Fiona are invited to her parent's castle in the kingdom of Far Far Away so that they can meet her new husband. The entire kingdom is astonished and upset to find that their little princess has grown up to be a happily married ogre. Shrek and her father face off, and Fiona is hurt by how little Shrek is willing to change to make her happy. It takes off from there.

The spoofs in the movie are marvelous, the old characters return in great form, and the new ones are just as entertaining. Especially good is Puss in Boots, who gets some of the best lines in this movie.

Shrek 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor as an animated movie that offers as much - if not more - for the adults in the audience. All the inside jokes and references make it a wonderful movie for any group of people to see. Full marks all the way!

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Lives down to its low expectations
I doubt that anyone is expecting much out of a movie called "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians". The plot is utterly ridiculous. Santa brings Christmas Spirit to Martians? Bad filming. Ridiculous script. However, the main problem that I have with this movie is that it is even difficult to make fun of, thereby denying the only joy you may have gotten from it. I doubt you are really interested in this review unless you have seen this on MST3K. If you aren't watching the MST3K version, don't watch this movie.

Freaky Friday

Amusing enough, but not brilliant
This is basically an all right movie. Mixed up and distraught teen Anna is at sixes and sevens with her mom, Dr. Tess Coleman. Anna sees that her mom seems to have a perfect an under control life, and she is "ruining" her own life, which is incredibly difficult. Her mom only sees that Anna is seeming to slip at school and is confident that her life is nothing that she couldn't deal with. Neither can see that each other's lives are anything but easy. But a mischeivous Chinese restaurant owner changes all of that when she gives them fortune cookies that switch their minds with their bodies!

So that's the basic idea of the movie. If you can get past the ridiculousness of the switch and the fact that instead of taking sick days, mom and daughter decide to take charge of eachother's lives(even though mom is getting MARRIED tomorrow), you'll have fun. This is a cute movie - there were times when everyone in the theatre laughed out loud. It is good to see with kids, but not brilliant. Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan(who has proved to be a very good actress in The Parent Trap) are both mostly believable trying to stretch across the years, and the side characters in the movie are amusing but no one is particularly stand-out. As a remake, the challenges presented to mother and daughter are updated for this time period(instead of facing a swim challenge, mom must deal with a rock solo). All in all, this is a decent movie and amusing enough.


A good idea buried in 4000 miles of bad ideas
This movie seems to be a common thriller, but there is something novel in it. A good plot twist saves it, but it cannot save the annoyingly predictable thriller bits before it. Many people meet in a motel...and madness ensues. Things twist upon their own stakes about a million times. That is not meant to be taken literally. You will be surprised, but this move is in the end only okay, and my guess is that if you show this movie to a lot of people, that will be their reaction.


A Good Bad Movie
Can you have a good bad movie? That's what this is. Sometimes(especially in the beginning) this movie literally REEKS of cheese. Like making out under a tree that is hung with dead bodies. Romantic, huh? But then the film turns more serious, and it becomes harder to mock. You start wondering who will live and who will die. And you don't really know who to root for, because all the characters act like total b******s at various points in the movie. But it was entertaining anyway.

Ash Wednesday

Not good at all
Not good at all. This movie was boring despite my best efforts to like it. You know the story from reading summaries, but let me say this: Elijah Wood is not at all convincing as someone from the Bronyx living amongst mobsters and murders. The movie drags on and on, endlessly repeating the same dull concepts. One is left thinking of ten million ways that the characters could be smarter. Sorry for the horridness: but this was quite bad.

Six Degrees of Separation

Chao... Control. Chaos... Control. You like, you like?
My sister and I went to the video store to rent a movie called "The Six Degrees of Separation." She hadn't seen it, but said that it was something that just kept coming up in conversations, people referring to this film. "I think it's about this guy who wines and dines his way into rich people's lives," she said. We asked the video store owner(who has impeccable taste in movies) to add to this summarization. "That's about right, " he began, then paused. "Hmmm...well, just watch it. I can't explain."

Neither can I, after watching this movie again and again, explain it any better. It is impossible to right a spoiler review for the movie, because the movie is utterly impossible to explain.

It is an experience, the Kandinsky featured in the movie. It is thought-provoking, beautifully written, touching and funny. Knowing what "happens" in the movie does not express the meaning of the movie. It is a struggle to capture the imagination in our lives and hold onto the experience. And Stockard Channing is fantastic: the only one in the movie who realizes anything.

Don't worry, it's a good movie. Just watch it.

Moulin Rouge!

Did I miss something?
I don't usually comment on movies just to trash them, but the popularity of Moulin Rouge has always baffled me. Besides the later arrivals, the movie seasons of 2000-2002 had been dismal(Jennifer Lopez was up for an Oscar for "The Cell", Julia Roberts actually won an Oscar). I went to see Moulin Rouge because it looked interesting and I liked the actors involved, and, frankly, because there was nothing else to see.

Moulin Rouge is a melodramatic, sometimes funny musical. The storyline is sappy, sagging, and cheesy; reminiscent of Gothic literature. Nicole Kidman does a fine job as Satine, but even her genuine emotion can't save this musical from seeming corny. The music is decent, but not heart-wrenching. There are a few appropriate songs (Elton John's "How Wonderful Life Is" is used endearingly), but the most memorable moments come from the comic numbers (See "Like a Virgin"), and the unintentionally comic numbers (See "Roxeanne".) A standout is Jim Broadbent, who is absolutely fantastic as the Moulin Rouge's manager, approaching the performance level set by Joel Grey in "Cabaret".

Don't expect a heartbreakingly poignant movie, but if singing star-cross'd lovers guided by fate and fortune are your specialty, you'll be pleased. For everyone else, you can expect to be sufficiently entertained.

Wild West

Well, there was nothing else on TV, so...
Hmmm.. Pakistanis in London...want to become ...country singers. Sounds interesting. About a million things are happening at once in this dizzying movie, so its hard to follow. It is funny betimes, but confusing the rest of the time. It just doesn't seem to gel. I don't recommend this movie if you want to be entertained, because there is a good chance you will not be. Especially because the music is country. Bad country. Rainy Day Movie.


Dune for those with delicate nerves
The movie is okay, but the characters are soft. Alec Newman makes a wimpy Paul. The Duke Leto Atreides is a pansy, not a sharp-faced severe man. The portrayal of Fremen culture is pretty good. Some sensual tripe is added in to make Irulan a more important character. The movie overall fails to convey the themes of survival and terrible purpose that are so prevalent in the book, and this is the true flaw in this otherwise well-rounded film.

However, if you're going to choose between this series and the 1984 version, this is by far the more understandable work to those who have not read the book. For those who have read the book, the 1984 version is more aesthetically pleasing in vision.

A Room with a View

Dazzling Comedy of Manners
A room with a view is a tale of passion hidden as a comedy of manners. Helena Bonham-Carter is gorgeous as Lucy, a constrained English girl who is vacationing in Italy, closely guarded by her pathetically uppity elder cousin Charlotte. Everything is dazzling in this film from the sumptuous Italian setting to classical music to the Victorian costumes(and Helena Bonham-Carter's hair). The characters are all hilarious in their individual parts, but Daniel Day-Lewis absolutely steals the show with his portrayal of Cecil Vyse, an insufferably narcissistic gentleman of birth and breeding.

The film can best be summarized by the Rev. Mr. Beebe's comment, that if Ms. Honeychurch ever takes to living as she plays[the piano], "it will be very exciting". Like a work of Beethoven among music is "A Room with a View" among movies. Please watch.

Performance: King Lear
Episode 1, Season 6

Interesting Lear, if only I could hear him...
Ian Holm did an outstanding job portraying King Lear in this TV film version. He plays the part with a virile energy that comes at first as shocking, by turns cursing and childlike. He does engender the viewer's sympathy as being misused, but the supporting cast is not equal. Edgar comes across as pathetic and stupid, not misused. The sisters are decently evil, and Gloucester is fairly deceived, but the action is hard to understand and not assisted by directing. The set and costumes are used sparingly, which may hold accordance with the sparse means of Shakespeare's day but fails to entertain a filmgoer's eye. One might question why a movie was made at all, if the advantages of the art would not be put to use. Know the plot well before you watch it, for the sound suffers in the storm scene so much that you might as well fast forward or be content with watching. Maybe I've been spoiled by Kenneth Branagh, but I come to expect more watchable stuff out of such an excellent play.

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