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Snakes on a Plane

Pure Pop-Corn Fun
The title says everything you need to know. You're in a 200 foot long aluminum tube flying at 35,000 feet with snakes loose everywhere and Sam Jackson is getting very tired of them. I thought that this film, which wasn't screened for critics, lives up to the hype that has buzzed around it. It's entertaining and delivers, unabashedly what it promises. Snakes, some gore and Sam Jackson. The plot is simple enough. A man is witness to a murder by a crime lord and Sam Jackson is an FBI agent protecting the witness until he can get to LA from Hawaii to testify. Snakes are released on the plane in mid-flight and chaos ensues. I would recommend this film. It's fun, funny and extremely entertaining. It's a rare film that delivers straightforward what it promises. A good time, Sam Jackson yelling and lots of snakes on a plane.

The Phantom of the Opera

Fantastic spectacle that almost hits its intended notes
First off let me say that this movie is very lavishly done. The sets, costumes and photography are beautiful to look at. The music is well...if you've seen the stage version or have the original soundtrack then you've heard this shows' music before. That being said, the repetition of the melodies starts to get very monotonous but the movie moves along and provides ample distraction. Gerarld Butler's "Phantom" is very pleasing to look at. His swagger and motions show that this character is in control of himself. Mr. Butler struggles with his singing sometimes but barrels through and forces the notes to have a more primal intensity than would be expected. Emmy Rossum as "Christine" sings wonderfully. Hers is the best voice in the movie. Patrick Wilson as "Rauol" carries his part and his songs well. He doesn't force the notes like Butler but has a very fluid delivery that puts you at ease. All in all, this is a very good attempt to film the stage version of the Phantom. If you've seen the stage show, then you pretty much seen this movie but the sets, costumes and lavish attention to detail and the cast more than make up for the repetition of multiple viewings.

One minor annoyance for me was when the Phantom was unmasked, his bad side in the light made him look like Gerard Depardieu was singing as the Phantom.

Freddy vs. Jason

Good Fun, Bad Puns
There will be little spoilers given so be warned.

Ah Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees...finally together after all these'd think they might be happy to meet each other but no way that's going to happen. Too bad since they have so much in common such as they keep coming back from the dead, they love to kill horny teenagers and people they meet along the way and...that's about it. Come to think of it, this relationship was bound to fail from the start and Freddy vs. Jason does it in spectacular style.

It seems that Freddy is extremely annoyed that his memory is being wiped out in the real world. So, to get his name back in people's heads Freddy coaxes Jason to come back to life to start killing kids in Freddy's hometown to enable him to regain his powers. (Freddy must have the addresses of other mega-killers in a rolodex hidden away with him or something).

The problem for Freddy is, once Jason starts to kill he isn't able to stop himself. And Freddy taunting Jason by impersonating and using Mrs. Voorhees' decapitated head doesn't sit very well with Jason and the fighting starts to get brutal.

I know what you're saying, "Freddy and Jason are going to kick some serious...(You finish the sentence)" and they do just that. That's what I was looking forward to going into the movie and I wasn't disappointed. They both dish out copious amounts of punishment not only to each other but to the teenagers in the film.

That's not the entire movie but it's the most entertaining part of the film. Seeing both legendary slashers wailing on each other is something to behold. Another surprising element of the film are the dreamscapes of both Freddy and Jason. Well done cinematography and effects allow the audience to see Jason's nightmare camp and Freddy's oversized boiler room.

The acting is above par for the most part for a "slasher" film and most of the script is pretty well done with the exception of a tortuous exposition scene with the heroes in a basement. Robert Englund cements this film together with a fresh and energetic portrayal of Freddy with his manic sense of black humor in full swing.

"What about the other actors in the film?" you might ask. They did a fine job with their roles but seemed inconsistent in their intelligence. Their characters go from extremely fast on the uptake of what is happening to going and doing extremely foolish things (most notably with Jason). And well, unfortunately for the actors, they all follow the clichés of the horror film victims. 1. Don't have sex or drink 2. Don't be rude to others 3. Don't wander away alone 4. Don't ask "who's there?" 5. Don't go investigate a strange noise, even if you have a gun. 6. Don't taunt the killer. You'd think these people might've seen a horror film once before but well...

All in all this is a very good film for the two franchises it is pulling together. A surprising amount of humor, brutal violence, gore, pot smoking caterpillars, slight necrophilia on Freddy's part and action make this a very well made installment to both these franchises resumes.


A God Among Insects
There will be some spoilers so be warned. After watching the movie I have to say that I was greatly impressed by the entire movie. The special effects, the additional mutant schoolchildren, the story line and acting are all on a par high above the first X-Men movie. Not to say the first movie wasn't great but with the world of the movie already set up, X2 is able to launch itself into action more quickly.

The special effects and make-up are extremely well done and there are a lot more than the first X-Men movie most likely due to the fact that it is a "sequel" but they still don't overshadow the story-line and the actors.

Speaking of the actors, Sir Ian McKellen outshines the entire cast, obviously revelling in his role of Magneto. His costume is improved as is the design of his helmet and he gets to show off more of his power than he did in the first X-Men movie. Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Cyclops once again have a strained friendship due to both of their affections for Jean Grey but they manage to get over it at the end, as they are made to by circumstances beyond their control.

Halle Berry's Storm is improved from the first movie as well, given more of a role to play and Alan Cumming's Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner is outstanding. The teleportation effect is extremly well done which adds to his character.

And of course there is Brian Cox's character William Striker. Although a slightly sad character due to his past with his wife and son, Striker is an evil and very manipulative man and wants something to be done for him by Prof. Xavier but I won't say what.

X2 is a very worthy "sequel" to add to the X-Men mantle and is a must see for anyone who is a fan of the comics, the first movie or someone who is just is search of an entertaining, extreamly well done superhero movie.


Should've Been Scrapped
For the love of God why did Hollywood make this? Why did anyone think that this movie was as good as people I've heard talk think it was?

There will be some spoilers so be warned... The premise of the film, punk no-good-nick gets offered spy job in lue of jail time, succeeds in upsetting superiors, doing away with the bad guy and getting his woman seems like an alright idea on paper and the shame is that it could have been good on the screen as well. The script lacked any qualities of being a worthwhile effort for its writer(s) with bad attempts at one-liners and technological spy linguistics. Also, the inconsistancies of the plot shine through without effort. Example: Triple X blows up the bad guys motercycles and a car at his castle/manor after escaping from the underground lab. The bad guys girlfriend (who's actually a secret agent for Russia but the bad guy "knew all along" supposedly) manages to make it from the underground lab (when Triple X is already well on his way on a motercycle) to Triple X's safe-house to save his life by somehow managing her police buddies (The 2 Ivans) and still having time to get to the safe-house less than one min. after he arrives. Another amazing feat is the arrival of snow crawlers seconds after an avalance buried a building and Triple X in a remote mountain location. Simply amazing. Russian special agents and snow crawlers must have transportation magic. Vin Diesel's performance was almost worthwhile. He tries so hard with the material given but neither he nor Samuel L. Jackson can salvage the movie sadly. The movies' makers had their minds stuck on one summer movie formula throughout this film it seems. Blow up a LOT of stuff (i.e. cars, buildings, cocaine fields), get a small army of almost naked women dancing, an actor who looks like Kevin Spacey with long hair to play the villain, a guy with muscles, a decent looking lady, make sure they have some acting talent and you'll have a movie that kids will shell out money for at least once or twice and you can make a sequel or two out of it.

Vin Diesel's last words in the movie as Triple X sum up my feelings for this film "You gotta be kidding."

The Evil Dead

The Dead Are Best Evil
What can be said that hasen't been said already of this movie? It is the most original, and truly frightening movies I have ever seen. Having had the luxury of having seen "The Evil Dead" in the theater with ED enthusiests and on the small screen, I can say that this film works well in both formats. Made on a shoe-string budget of around $350,000 dollars made by Sam, Bruce and Rob from showing thier short film "Within the Woods", the effects are cheesy but are still very well done. The camera angles, lighting, matte composite shots and sound work harmoniously together to create a truly special film which boils down to one man fighting off his recently turned zombie-esque friends in a cabin, all alone in the woods. True, the acting is a little stiff, but keep in mind that Bruce Campbell was only 21 when they shot it in 1979-1980. All of the great props of movie history are in the film such as the 1972 Oldsmobile 88 Supreme, the axe, the out of sequence costuming of artificial blood on the face and clothing, bookcases, mysterious dissappearing floodlights on the cabin roof, and a shovel to name a few.

If you'd like a good scare and a little bit of laughter, get this film, turn off the lights, light a fire in the fireplace and settle in.

The Fog

Pretty Good Scare
John Carpenters follow-up to "Halloween". That's a tough act to follow and I felt that this movie just didn't live up to it. Not that I'm saying this movie is bad, far from it. This movie, which I bought for watching on Halloween one year surprised me for how good it actually was.

The acting in parts, along with the dialogue got on my nerves as to the poor quality at times, but the camera work and lighting made up for the low points. One last gripe is the character of the radio DJ Adrienne Barbeau (Stevie Wayne). Whenever she was on the "airwaves" I lost interest in the movie. The shots of the fog rolling through the town and the barely visible ghosts heighten the tension of the movie. The fog is a life-force onto itself which you don't want to go near it if you see it. All in all, "The Fog" was a successful movie for me but it would have been better if the backstory would have been fleshed out a bit more, and if the script were a bit more polished. See this film if you'd like a good scare and allow me to pass on a kernel of information...don't go into the fog!

Mahô shôjo Pretty Sammy

Often Hilarious Magical Girl Parody
Another spin-off of the Tenchi Muyo! cast, this is a bit different. It's a spin-off of a spin-off! Sasami appeared first as Pretty Sammy in the Mihoshi Special for a couple of minutes and now she has her own show. The voice acting is superb and the story line is well done. The show doesn't take itself too seriously at times (ex. Pixy Misa yelling "Strike the set!" after her dramatic entrance and the background returns to normal). Her name is Sasami Kawaii and she is recruted by Tsunami to create peace on Earth to help restore balance of Gemini so Tsunami can become queen of Jurihelm. The 2nd in line candidate for queen, Ramia, tries to sabotage Tsunami and Pretty Sammy by sending her little brother Rumiya to transform Sasami's best friend Misao into the Magical Girl Pixy Misa!

All of the regular Tenchi Muyo cast makes an appearance during the series. Examples are Tenchi as a filmmaker, Ryoko as royal guard to the queen, Aeka as the far end-of-the-line candidate for queen bent on destroying the Earth and Washu as a very eccentric and energetic genius who is teaching the science class at Sasami's school as a pretext to study magic.

A very funny and occasionally touching story fills this series and keeps you wanting to watch more and then watch it over again. Almost all of the characters have a comedic moment at one point or another but Pixy Misa steals the show whenever she decides to turn up to cause trouble for Sammy. Close on Misa's heels is Rumia as the scene stealer of the show. Whenever these two are on, the show takes off. I'm not an expert on "Magical Girl" types of shows but "Magical Girl Pretty Sammy" makes fun of them whenever it can and does it very well. A must see for a good laugh and it will lift your spirits on a dreary day.

Tenchi Muyô! GXP

Another Tenchi Spin-off Succeeds!
Tenchi Muyo! GXP is yet another spin-off series from the original Tenchi Muyo! GXP centers around Yamada Seina, a nephew of Tenchi (the main character of the original series). Seina is the unluckiest person on Earth and woe be to anyone who is within his sphere of influence. To avoid any big spoilers, here's a very brief summery... Seina gets mistaken for a strong person (due to his extensive bruises) by GXP officer Amane who crashed her ship (in typical Mihoshi style)into the lake in front of Tenchi's home. Amane offers Seina a pamphlet for the GXP acadamy and his family makes him fill it out thinking it's a joke but that they might get a prize out of it. Seina wakes up on a GXP control ship, and his adventures, the misadventures of the people around him ,and the series, get started. Another top-notch entry, GXP continues the idea of action, love triangles and hilarious comedy that defines Tenchi-Muyo! A must see for fans.

Tenchi Muyô!

My First Love
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki was the first anime series that I had watched ever in my life. The story centers basically around Tenchi Masaki, a 16 or so old boy in Japan, and the love triangle between him, Ryoko, the "demon" ex-space pirate that Tenchi accidentally woke up and Aeka, the 1st princess of planet Jurai. The action of the series, unfortunatly only 13 1/2 episodes worth, is very captivating and it held my attention all the way through. Among the action of the series is a large vein of comedy that all of the characters show off at one time or another. One of the funniest bits I've ever seen on television is an exchange between the characters Washu (also spelled Washyu and Washuu) and Dr. Clay but I won't tell you what it is to avoid any spoilers. Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki is a show derived from manga (japanese comics)so if you read those you have a better sense of who is who with another generous dose of comedy and love triangles abound. This is a very good series and a definite must see. You will not be dissapointed.

Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no tobira

A Heavenly Door
I have to disagree with anyone who says that Knockin' on Heavens Door (Tengoku no tobira) is a throw-away movie version of a popular anime series.

I have seen this movie and I loved it. The plot is involving and keeps the viewer involved in the story.

The aspect of Vincent being the one who is searching for a way to see if he is really dreaming or awake is a nice twist from it just being Spike who wonders the question. The soundtrack fits well with the action in the movie and heightens the action and suspense.

The scenery is dynamic and the characters, the main cast as well as the new additions, carry the weight (yes, yes, I know they're not real) of the movie and the script which is well written and very Bebopish.

This movie is a perfect addition to the Cowboy Bebop series and is definitely not a throw-away.

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