adudewhoiscool

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Reviews

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
(2007)

Congrats David Yates!
In 1997 JK Rowling introduced to the world a small eleven-year-old boy who discovers that he is a wizard. Fast forward to today (seven books, five films later) this boy, Harry Potter, is one of the biggest phenomenons of today. With an amazing book series and four brilliant films to the résumé, will the newest film, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," still have that "Harry Potter" magic? To this reviewer's surprise, considering that the book was his least favorite, the movie was one of the best of the series.

Harry returns to his fifth year at Hogwarts full of ill fortune. Few of students and parents believe him, or Dumbledore, that Voldemort is back. The Ministry of Magic had decided to step in by appointing a new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, Delores Umbridge, which proves to be the nastiest person Harry has ever encountered. To top it off, Harry is having some mysterious dreams featuring Voldemort. Can Harry Potter survive his toughest year at Hogwarts yet?

If you are a hardcore Harry Potter nerd you will probably trash this movie to pieces. There are a lot of missing subplots but if you have watched any of the Harry Potter movies, or any book adaptations for that matter, you will realize that most adaptations is not 100% the book. Just look at the runtime, 2 Hrs and 18 minutes (the shortest of the films), and you would realize that it would have been impossible to fit all 870 pages. They cut out some good sub plots, for example: zero references to Quidditch, but they kept the theme of the book intact and that is what this reviewer wanted and hoped for as a companion to the book.

The acting was amazing. There should be props given out to David Yates for getting the best performances out of the young actors, especially Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley). For the first time, it felt like Ron Weasley was more then just the butt of the jokes. The veteran actors (Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Garry Oldman, Emma Thompson, and others) are always great. The newest additions: Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix), newcomer, Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonks) were also great. The best was Imelda Staunton as Professor Umbridge. She pulled off her villainous role so well that you hate her more then Voldemort.

This is the most mature of the series. As the book series continues, as well as the movies, it gets darker and the same goes for this film. There are also many themes about how everyone has their own dark side and how you can fight your own dark side. Though it is the most adult of the series, the kids can see it and enjoy it too. If you expect a big action packed film, with many special effects, you might be bored with this movie because it concentrates most on the characters and the story.

The action and the special effects are amazing. They introduce Hagrid's half-brother giant named Grawp. There is also an introduction to Thestrals, which are these skeletal horses with wings. The action is not much until the climax of the story at the Department of Mysteries, so if you expect a big action packed, special effects film, as they showed in the trailers, you will be disappointed. Nonetheless, the climax is very thrilling with all of the wizardry battles and it gave a "Star Wars" type feel.

Overall if you are a fan of the series, you should like it. However, as this reviewer has mentioned earlier, if you are a die hard Harry Potter freak who wants everything in the book and complains when something is different you will not like this. There is very little this reviewer does not like about this movie besides the absence of Quidditch. Go see it because this reviewer is sure you will enjoy it. This reviewer hopes that David Yates will continue his magic on the next installment, "Half Blood Prince." One big warning: if you want to get into Harry Potter, do not start with this film. The story does rely on your knowledge of the previous installments and does not work as a stand-alone film like the others.

Transformers
(2007)

Michael Bay was born to direct this movie
What is this "Transformers?" If you grew up in 1980s, especially if you were a male, the answer would have been part of your daily knowledge. This reviewer grew up in the 1990s, so even though the "Transformers" phenomenon was not as powerful as it was in the 1980s, this reviewer still remembers watching the many reruns on "Cartoon Network." Nonetheless, this reviewer remembers watching the reruns of the television show, along with many other ones from that era. The question will be asked: will fans of the television show like the movie? Will it appeal to the non-fans as well? The answer to those questions is an absolute yes.

Sam Witwicky buys his first car, but, to his surprise, that car was actually Bumblebee, a member of the Autobots, disguised as a Camaro. Through Bumblebee, Sam discovers the secrets about the mysterious "Allspark," a cube that gives machines the gift of life, and the war that is going on between Autobots and Decepticons. Unfortunately, Bumblebee is not the only Transformer to have landed on earth. In Qatar, there was an attack on the US military base, but those attacks were not from any particular human terrorist but two Decepticons. In addition, two other Decepticons attacked Sam and his girlfriend, Mikaela. These Decepticons want the Allspark for their own needs greedy needs, while the Autobots want to destroy it because of its corruptive power. With more and more Decepticons appearing, Bumblebee sends a message for other Autobots to come to Earth. Now the war hits the Earth and it is up to Sam, with the help of the Autobots, to ensure humanities survival.

The special effects, created by Industrial Lights and Magic (ILM), and fight scenes were phenomenal. Every time one of them did their transformations, your jaw will literally hit the floor. Special effects have been amazing over the years, but you have not felt this overwhelmed since seeing the Dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park." Never once did you feel that it was computer generated. It is consistently action packed, and never once during its 144 minutes does it feel boring. Sure there is at times, when the trademark "shaky" cam came into play, making it very difficult to tell what was going on, but there is also times where they would slow down the fights to show you the most important scenes.

There are many references to the cartoon series. Some lines from the original cartoon series are quoted in this. The great Peter Cullen, who was the voice of Optimus in the animated series, voices Optimus Prime in this one too. They do make little tiny tweaks to the designs of the characters, for a more modern look, but it would have looked extremely cheesy if it was left unaltered. If you were a fan of the series, you are going to love the references.

Besides the action, special effects, and many references to the cartoon series, the humor was surprisingly well done. It is surprising how much humor is actually there and even more surprising how much it works. There are some parts where the audiences, and this reviewer, are laughing so hard that you could not even hear what the characters are saying after words. Warning to parents: some of the most humorous scenes are very adult, so if you do not want to explain to your young children some awkward things, do not show them this movie.

The acting is nothing special, but it does the job. The most impressive is Shia LeBeouf as Sam. This role really showed that he can do big budget lead roles, a big step up from his days as Lewis Stevens in "Even Stevens." Megan Fox is in this for nothing else but eye candy. Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel are in this film, but as expected, do not do anything for their roles but play Soldiers. Anthony Anderson and Bernie Mac bring great comedic relief. Peter Cullen shows off his iconic voice as Optimus Prime. John Voight is a great president too!

In conclusion, go see "Transformers" because it is an awesome action movie. Fans of the series are going to love it and the casual fans are going to love it as well. As a fan of the show, this is everything expected, and much more. You should see it as soon as you can to get the full effect. The audience, this reviewer saw it with, loved it. There were many laughs at appropriate times, lots of cheering for great action scenes and the appearances of popular characters like Megatron or Optimus and a big applause at the end credits. It just made the film so much more enjoyable, and that is why you see a big budget "Transformers" movie. It is not "The Godfather," nor should the audience pretend it was. "Transformers" is a movie to have fun viewing, and boy is it!

The Boondock Saints
(1999)

By the end, you are happy it is over
In 1994 Quentin Tarantino made an academy award winning film that would influence many films, even today. Many filmmakers have tried to duplicate Tarantino's style and "Boondock Saints" is another one of those films. Do you know what that original film was? Your right, it was "Pulp Fiction." Regardless of how much "influence" "Pulp Fiction" has had on the making of "Boondock Saints," is "Boondock Saints" a good or a bad film?

Two Irish brothers feel that they have had a mission from God to get rid of evil human beings. FBI agent Paul Smecker, while trying to figure out the murders, discovers that what the boys are doing is right. By fighting for truth and justice, are the Irish brothers accepted by the public or are they considered cold hard murderers?

"Boondock Saints" is a lousy film, and it is not only because it is a "Pulp Fiction" wannabe because throughout history we have seen film, television, and or literature that borrows significantly from something else. "Boondock Saints" had a lot of potential because of the premise but the writing is not very good. Even though they infused many bits from "Pulp Fiction," if this reviewer had a lot of fun of viewing the movie, it would not have mattered.

Like "Pulp Fiction," "Boondock Saints" puts a lot of emphasis on the crime/action genre, sprinkled with comedic elements throughout, but the problem is "Pulp Fiction" was actually funny. This reviewer laughed more unintentionally then intentionally. In fact, the funniest intentional part of the movie was done a lot better in "Pulp Fiction." It got to the point where it felt like an unintentional parody on the genre.

The acting was okay. Billy Connolly is one of the bright spots as Il Duce. William Dafoe is the main reason to watch this film as a gay FBI agent, Paul Smecker. Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus plays two Irish twins. Though they are twins, the viewer will feel that they are just a bit closer then that (if you know what this reviewer means.) David Della Rocco was just as pointless as his character, Rocco. The biggest error of film is casting Ron Jeremy as a member of the mafia, Vincenzo Lipazzi. Lesson in film, if you want to be taken seriously, never cast Ron Jeremy.

In conclusion, you could watch something a lot better then "Boondock Saints." If Billy Connolly and William Dafoe were not in there, this reviewer would probably say that this film could not have gotten any worse. The whole film felt like it was trying to be too cool. Though just because you say the F-word and fire many bullets, does not mean that you are cool. Unlike "Pulp Fiction," there is not that character or phrases that are very memorable and there are no characters to root for. It was just a mess all together.

4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
(2007)

Certainly an improvement over the first film
In 2005 "Twentieth Century Fox" released "Fantastic Four" to mixed to poor reviews. This reviewer, himself, also was quite disappointed. Now, in the summer of 2007, the sequel is up but is it an improvement over the first film? Well, the good news for you readers is that it is an improvement over the first film but by how much.

Sometime after the first film, the fantastic four believe that life is back to normal. Reed Richards and Sue Storm plan to get married and the four are celebrities. Suddenly their plans are interrupted when the great Galactus plans to destroy planet Earth, by sending his henchman, the Silver Surfer, to the planet. The four have another problem to deal with too; their old enemy, Doctor Von Doom, is still alive and wants his revenge. With their own enemy back and their world in danger, can the fantastic four save the day?

All of the fun aspects of the first film are in the sequel. The relationship between Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) still brings good comic relief. There is a bit more humor in this one as well. The special effects and action scenes are a lot better this time around. They really did not try to do anything more then just make it a quick 92 minute summer comic book movie. Keep your eyes out for the Stan Lee cameo too.

The things the first one was lacking are improved in this one. This reviewer already talked about the better special effects and action scenes, as well as the humor and the Stan Lee cameo. Doctor Doom (Julian McMahon) is back and was given a more menacing, less cheesy role. He is not at the point of where he should be but it was a lot better then the first film. Ioan Gruffudd did a much better job portraying Reed Richards, though he still suffers because of the bad chemistry between the love interest Susan Storm (Jessica Alba) and him.

The real highlight is the Silver Surfer (aka Norrin Radd). The look and design of his is amazing. From the combination of Doug Jones in a motion capture suit, similar to Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and Lawrence Fishburne's voice, the Silver Surfer was everything you would have wanted. While this reviewer will admit that Lawrence Fishburne's voice sounded out of place in the beginning but by the time the film gets rolling you love the voice work. Some may complain that the Silver Surfer looked too much like the T-1000 from "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," but the surfer looked exactly like he did from the comic book so there is no problem. The best scenes in the movie somehow involved the Silver Surfer. WETA really did do a great job bringing him to life.

Now that the positives were discussed it is time for the negatives. Jessica Alba, whose only talent is her looks, is still a lousy actress. It is a weird to think that her character actually had more chemistry between her brother and her then with her own love interest. Another negative, and positive, was the humor. There is more humor but many of the jokes felt too forced, some of them worked and some of them did not. In addition, it took a little while, thirty minutes approximately, for things to get going and actually start picking up. Luckily once the action hit it never slowed down. For those major comic book fans, they do a huge butcher job to the Silver Surfer/ Galactus storyline. It bothered this reviewer a little but not as much as it could for the hardcore fans that grew up with it.

In conclusion, if you are sick of those big epic movies that are over two and a half hours, like "Spider-Man 3" or "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," you might want to check this one out. It is not the greatest movie you will see this summer but it is still a fun time and a big improvement over the first. Is it worth over $9 at the cinema? Well it depends on what you are looking for, but this reviewer got his $9 worth. "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" is recommended!

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
(2007)

Best blockbuster movie since '300'
This summer is the season for threequels. Already we have seen "Spider-Man 3" and "Shrek the Third" hit the theaters and do quite well. Now it time for a new one in "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." Does this movie have a chance at succeeding at the box office? Will it be a success or a failure? Read this review and find out for yourself.

"At World's End" takes place shortly after the events of "Dead Man's Chest." The crew members of the Black Pearl, with the help of Captain Barbossa and Tia Dalma, must set out to "Davy Jones' Locker" in order to save Jack Sparrow. In the mean time, Lord Cutler Beckett and the East India Trading Company has teamed up with Davy Jones to destroy every man, woman and child that has ever had anything to do with piracy. Now these pirates are forced to unite in order to keep living the way they do.

If you are a fan of the first two, you will dig this movie. All of the great elements on the series are still here. The action scenes and special effects were even better this time around. The fantasy elements are still present. Jack Sparrow steals the show with every scene he is in, which is a big sign that his antics have not gone tiresome. Han Zimmer has another brilliant film score. This all means that if you liked the others, you will enjoy this.

The acting was acceptable. Of course, Johnny Depp can play Jack Sparrow in his sleep. It was very nice to see Geoffrey Rush back in action as Caption Barbossa. Keira Knightley has improved a lot since the first film as Elizabeth Swann. Bill Nighy is wonderful as Davy Jones, even with all the CG. Newcomers Chow Yun-Fat (Captain Sao Feng) and Keith Richards (Jack Sparrow's father, Captain Teague) gave great contributions to the movie.

A note to parents: this movie is the darkest and most adult of the series. There are a few scenes, biggest one in the first scene, which seemed strangely placed in a Disney flick. There are also some sexual innuendos in there as well. It definitely deserves the PG-13 rating. This film did not feel like a Disney movie, but then again, none of them do anyway. Nonetheless, if your kids can handle it take them because it is a great family flick.

Overall, if you a fan of the first two, you will love these. This is just as enjoyable as the first two. This is one of the must-see movies on the big screen. If you did not like the other two, do not see it because you will not like it. One small plot hole was brought to this reviewer's attention after the movie ended but it is neither big nor noticeable so it is not a big deal. At the end of the movie, there was a lot of applause from the audience and it truly deserved it. "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" is extremely recommended!

Don't forget to stay for the credits.

Spider-Man 3
(2007)

A great way to continue an excellent film series
In 2002 Sam Raimi, with the help of modern day technology, showed an exceptional and successful comic book adaptation in "Spider-Man." Then in 2004 Sam Raimi outdid himself by directing a sequel that took everything that made the original great and improved upon it. Fast-forward to May 4, 2007 and Sam Raimi is at it again with "Spider-Man 3." With arguably two great, this review believes that they belong in the league of the best of their genre, comic book adaptations under his belt; can Sam Raimi bring a successful third film to the saga?

Peter Parker's life is finally starting to look up. His relationship with Mary Jane Watson is picking up, he is still taking responsibility as Spider-man, and he is a celebrity in NY. Now he faces new challenges. Parker's old friend, Harry Osborn, is out for revenge against Peter; Parker also discovers that his Uncle's real killer, Flint Marko, who is mistakenly transformed into the Sandman, is still out there. Hope seems lost until Peter discovers a black alien organism, aka a symbiote, which turns his suit black but improves his powers significantly. Unfortunately, the side effects of the symbiote show a darker side to Parker's personality. When Peter discovers his wrongdoings, he attempts to get rid of the symbiote suit. Parker successfully gets rid of the symbiote, but it found a new host, Eddie Brock, causing the birth of Venom, Spider-Man's most dangerous foe. Will this be the end of Spider-Man?

The biggest flaw of the movie, which you should realize after reading the synopsis, is that there is too much going on. There are too many plots, too many characters, and too little development. The audience has to watch Spider-man face off with three villains and his inner-demon. In addition Gwen Stacy is added as part of a love triangle. Applause should go to Sam Raimi for attempting to bring it all together but the entire plot and subplots would be better suited for an extra movie. This was a big worry upon this reviewer but Sam does it better then originally thought. It was a lot better then the poor excuse for a director, Brett Ratner, of "X-Men: The Last Stand."

Despite there being too much in the movie, the movie was very entertaining. As far as film-making goes it is not the quality of one or two, but as far as the fun superhero, comic book type of movie, it was everything that it should have been. The visual effects were amazing. The action scenes were the best of the series. The humor was upped a lot as well, though some may complaint about there being too much. The acting was as good as it should be. As far as a "Spider-Man" movie goes this is what you should expect.

Visually this movie was outstanding. The special effects were out of this world but since it is the most expensive movie ever made that is expected. It would be shocking if this movie is not nomiated for special effects. The visual effects that really stood out were the creation of the Sandman and the symbiote. The action scenes were great as usual. This reviewer thought that they were more thrilling then that train scene from "Spider-Man 2."

Besides the visuals, the humor was great. It was just as campy and silly as the first two series but turned up a notch. Bruce Campbell made another cameo, as he has in the last two, as the hilarious Maître d'. There is even homage to both "Saturday Night Fever" and "The Mask." Some may complain that some of these more campy scenes ruin the movie, but this reviewer thinks otherwise. The reviewer loved those scenes; he believes they improved the movie.

The acting was as good as you should hope for in a movie like this. The returning cast was just as good as the other two. The newcomers are also a great addition to the "Spider-Man" cast. Thomas Hayden Church was good as the Sandman/ Flint Marko. Topher Grace, Eric from "That 70's Show," was a huge surprise as Eddie Brock/ Venom. It will be exciting to see what Topher's career choices will be after "That 70's Show." Bryce Dallas Howard was also great as Gwen Stacy. It was very obvious why Peter Parker would like her and why Mary Jane could possibly be jealous of her.

Overall if you liked or loved the first two "Spider-Man" you may like it. The reviewers are very mixed but that is probably because the viewers each had expectations that were too high. The only real defect to the movie was that there was too much happening. Luckily everything else that this reviewer loved made it forgivable. Any other complaints are just very minor nitpicks. Congratulations to "Spider-Man 3" for collecting $151.1 million at the domestic box office it's opening week. "Spider-Man 3" is recommended!

Stranger Than Fiction
(2006)

The ending nearly ruins it
"Stranger Than Fiction" is a pretty good movie. It is not great, but it is not horrible either. The acting is superb and it was well paced and directed. The only problem with the movie is its ending. Without revealing any plot details, this reviewer believes that some may really appreciate the ending, this reviewer believes that it nearly ruined the film because it felt like a sell out.

Karen Effiel is an author writing her latest novel about man named Harold Crick. What she does not know is that her fictionalized character is real. The real Harold Crick is an IRS agent who has lived a dull existence and one day begins to hear Karen's voice as she narrates what she puts on paper to what Harold has and is doing. Because of this, Harold enlists the help of a literary professor to find out what is happening and ends up changing things about his life including attempting to begin a relationship with his IRS client named Ana Pascal. Harold, however, finds trouble when he hears that Karen plans to kill him.

The acting was phenomenal. Will Ferrell is the most surprising, and proves that he can act in something other than a comedy, as Harold Crick. Maggie Gyllenhaal played Harold's love interest, Ana Pascal. Emma Thompson was the narrator named Karen Eiffel. Queen Latifah, who this reviewer is not a fan of, played Karen's assistant named Penny Escher. Dustin Hoffman was Harold's literature professor named Professor Jules Hilbert.

Overall, if you want to see a decent movie, you should see this movie. It was well acted. The pacing was fine, and so was the directing. The only problem was the ending, which nearly ruins the film. Nonetheless, this reviewer still recommends you to view this movie because you will most like enjoy it. It is hard to picture someone hating this film. "Stranger Than Fiction" is recommended!

Pet Sematary
(1989)

Not as good as hoped.
"Pet Sematary" is a disappointing film. From the premise and the fact that the author, Stephen King, was working on the screenplay, this reviewer expected something a little better than the average horror film. Unfortunately, it is just barely an average horror flick. There will not be any comparisons to the novel, because this reviewer has yet to read it. However, judging from the results of the film, this reviewer is not excited to read it.

"Pet Sematary" is based on the novel written by Stephen King. The Creeds have just moved to a new house in the countryside. Their house is perfect, except for two things: the semi-trailers that roar past on the narrow road, and the mysterious cemetery, which is misspelled to spell sematary, in the woods behind the house. The Creed's neighbors are reluctant to talk about the cemetery. Is there really something wrong with the cemetery or is the neighborhood extremely crazy?

There is no question that this movie could have been a lot better. The movie was not exactly horrible. There were some good little creepy moments throughout. Unfortunately, the tension was never consistent until the very end. Sadly, that sequence towards the end felt like the typical 1980's slasher. Not only that, but the film score, which usually is key in this type of movie, is essentially nonexistent.

The acting was very mediocre. Luckily, for this type of movie, the acting is never a necessity. Dale Midkiff played the father, Lois Creed. Fred Gwynne was really the best part of the film, as the neighbor, Jud Crandall. Denise Crosby was Lois' wife, Rachel Creed. Brad Greenquist, along with Fred Gwynee, was the best part as a guardian angel, Victor Pascow. Child star, Miko Hughes, played the youngest son, Gage Creed. Blaze Berdahl played the daughter, Ellie Creed.

Overall, even though this reviewer pointed out some flaws, "Pet Sematary" is still a recommended one-time viewing. Some people loved it, so maybe you might be one of them. Some people consider this underrated and a classic, but this reviewer feels it is not even close. Maybe the 2008 remake will be better. Go rent this flick, see it, and then quickly forget about most of it the next day.

Howard the Duck
(1986)

Somehow enjoyable
Because of the reception that "Howard the Duck" has received, it is very difficult to review a movie of this caliber. After all, the average critic and moviegoer panned this movie. In addition, it was nominated, even won some, for several Razzie awards for not only that year but for the decade as well. If one were to admit that he or she enjoyed "Howard the Duck," that person would have been made fun of. The question is: is "Howard the Duck" as bad as everybody says it is.

A science experiment, gone wrong, brings an extraterrestrial life form to the planet Earth through a laser beam. That extraterrestrial is none other then cigar smoking, beer drinking, duck named Howard. Unfortunately, another experiment brought home an alien life form bent on destroying the human race. Can Howard stop the alien and save the human race?

From viewing this film, this reviewer can see why everybody hates this movie. However, some parts of this movie are actually enjoyable. There were some humorous moments, mostly unintentional, throughout. Boy and the dialog, wow, this reviewer has never heard so much lame duck puns in his life. At some times, there was dialog that would not sound strange in a Mel Brooks movie. It truly was bad, yet, somehow enjoyable. Unfortunately, why there are many things you can really laugh at, there is not enough to make this film a classic though.

The actors, if they were looking back at their role today, would probably be embarrassed. The weird thing was that there were some big names. Lea Thompson plays a women name Beverley Switzler that becomes Howard's friend. Jeffrey Jones was very over the top as Dr. Jennings. Even Tim Robbins is in this film as an annoying scientist named Phil Blumburtt. Not one, not two, but seven little people, in a duck costume, played Howard the Duck.

Overall, if you are into those types of movies, grab a few of your friends, rent it, laugh at it, and forget about it the next day. If you want to see a movie that features an awkward romance with Lea Thompson, at the time she was still attractive, with a great theme song at the end, you cannot go wrong with this title. To answer the question about whether or not "Howard the Duck" is as bad as everybody says, the answer would be yes. However, for the same reason as most of the 1980's, it is somehow enjoyable.

The Prestige
(2006)

Top Notch cast and many plot twists will make this film a must see
In a modern age where most films are either: remakes, sequels, or prequels it is nice to be able to view a modern day original film. Yes, it is an adaptation, from a book, but many viewers will probably not know that until they actually begin to watch the movie, like this reviewer. Rolling Stone magazine (as printed on the DVD cover) said it best, "You want to see it again the second it is over." Christopher Nolan, who last directed one of the best comic book movie adaptations, in "Batman Begins," does it again with "The Prestige."

"The Prestige" is based on a book, of the same title, that was written by Christopher Priest. The story is about two magicians who have been rivals to each other ever since the day they met and throughout the course of time, each of them tries to gain an advantage over the other. Eventually the friendly rivalry becomes an obsession. Their obsessions over trying to discover how the other does the trick, or how to upstage that trick, could turn into something that would kill one another.

First things first, this reviewer will not make any comparisons to the other magic movie, "The Illusionist." What this reviewer will talk about is the plot. The story is fantastic. You cannot help but stay alert, and throughout the film you want to know what will happen next. There are many twists and turns to the plot, which will make you say, "How did I not catch that?" There is a quote in the movie that is used frequently, "Are you watching closely?" You need to be paying close attention in order to catch all of the various twists throughout the film.

Besides all of the various twists, the acting was also fantastic. Hugh Jackman was a big surprise success as Rupert Angier. Christian Bale is always good and the trend continued as Alfred Borden. Michael Cane as always was great as Cutter. Scarlett Johansson was also very good as Olivia Wenscombe. Even David Bowie and Andy Serkis popped up as Nikola Tesla and Alley.

Overall, there is not much to complain about. If you are looking for a movie about magic with a hint of science fiction, you should enjoy this. If you enjoy Christopher Nolan films, you should see this movie. If you enjoy movies in general, you should see this film. It is a shame this movie did not win any academy awards. "The Prestige" is recommended!

300
(2006)

A brilliant film that will not insult Frank Miller's original work.
"300" is a marvelous, visually stunning film that needs to be viewed as soon as possible. The intensity will get your blood pumping. The visuals will keep you in awe. The soundtrack is just as epic as it should be. Everything about this film should keep you on the edge of your seat wanting to cheer on the Spartans for victory. Those familiar with Frank Miller's graphic novel should breathe a huge sigh of relief because it is not at all an insult to the original story.

"300" is based on the graphic novel written by Frank Miller. In 480 BC, the Xerxes, the Persian King, sends an army to conquer Greece. The Greek city of Sparta decides to take action by sending 300 of their soldiers to meet thousands of Persians at Thermopylae. For any normal person this would be considered a mismatch and an instant suicide mission, but not to Leonidas and his Spartan men. Can few stand against many? Find out in this epic showdown.

The intensity of "300" will get any persons blood and heart pumping. The action scenes will have you wanting to cheer aloud for the Spartan army. There are so much limbs and heads chopped up, with lots of blood squirted out similar to his "re-imaging" of "Dawn of the Dead," that you cannot help but feel powered and manly. To get an idea of how intense this film is, you must first picture the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the film, "Gladiator," having a child. "300" is that child injected with steroids. By the end of the film, you will immediately want to see it again.

Another thing that will keep your heart pumping is the visuals. Words cannot describe how awesome they are. Because of them shooting the film in 90% blue screen and 10% green screen, Zack Snyder really gave the film a real unique look to it. Instead of making it look like another "Lord of the Rings" epic or something similar to the typical blockbuster of today, Zack Snyder made the film look as close to the graphic novel as he could. At times, it was hard to tell if the movie was an actual movie or just a moving painting. It would be impossible to make it look closer to Frank Miller's graphic novel then how Snyder showed it.

As visually stunning as this movie was, you cannot have a movie of this kind be as cool without the great soundtrack. As this reviewer has mentioned in his "Eragon" review, a good epic fantasy movie has to have an equally great film score in order to grip you into the story as if it was a supporting character. Tyler Bates, who also collaborated with Zack in the "re-imagining" of "Dawn of the Dead," created an amazing musical score that is complete with a 250 or more person chorus. In addition, occasionally during the battle sequences you would hear a heavy metal sounding guitar. Could you imagine the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy with metal played in the middle of the battle scenes?

Besides the music, the visuals, and overall intensity of the film, the acting was also phenomenal. Gerard Butler should be moving up fairly soon to an A-list actor after this film because his performance as King Leonidas was exceptional. Many of the women in the audience were cheering because Lena Headey's Queen Gorgo gave a performance that screamed "girl power." Rodrigo Santoro gave an amazing performance as the villain, Xerxes. Dominic West gave a performance as the Spartan traitor, Theron. Both West and Santoro were the antagonists that you will love to hate. David Wenham was great as not only a narrator but also a member of the Spartan army, Dilios. Everyone gave exceptional performances.

For those of you who are fans of the graphic novel, as this reviewer is, you should not be disappointed. By re-reading the graphic novel, this reviewer can safely say that Zack Snyder did nothing to insult Frank Miller's original vision. Not only does the film look exactly like book, but there are many instances where the dialog is the same too. There are some minor points left out but it was not at all a distraction. Snyder also added some things to the original story, including a whole subplot that gave a crucial character more screen time, which should not distract the viewer familiar with Frank Miller's original story. If you are one of those that believes that Snyder insulted Frank Miller's creation, you should remember that Frank Miller was the producer and consultant and, because of that, it was Miller who gave Snyder permission to use what was showing on the screen.

Overall, if you love epics or action flicks, you will love this film. Men will crave this film because it is a very testosterone filled film. Women will enjoy all of the actors being so buff and half-naked. Frank Miller fans will also love this. The only ones who should not view this film are those under the age of 14 or 15 because not only are there many graphics fights, which made the battles in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy seem harmless, but also lots of sexual content and nudity.

Raging Bull
(1980)

"Raging Bull" is top-notch film-making
After Martin Scorsese finally won an academy award for directing the Hong Kong remake of "Infernal Affairs" called "The Departed," this reviewer decided to watch one of Scorsese's known classics. That title was "Raging Bull." Is the movie as good as many people have been calling it? Is it overrated? Read this review and find out.

"Raging Bull" is based off of Jack LaMotta's autobiography called "Raging Bull: My Story." This movie focuses on the life and career of boxer Jake LaMotta. Jake's rage and violence made him nearly unstoppable in the boxing ring. Unfortunately, that same anger also drives Jake to beat his wife and his brother Joey and ultimately sends Jake down a self-destructive spiral of paranoia and rage.

"Raging Bull" is an amazing film. Everything about this film just screams classic. Scorsese decision to shoot the film in black and white was genius. It is a shame that it is rare to see a modern day film shot in black and white. Thelma Schoonmaker, who edited many of Scorsese's films, edited this film fabulously, especially during the boxing scenes. What makes the movie so great is that it is not just a boxing movie, like "Rocky," but also a study of humanized flaws created by their own insecurities.

The acting in this film is fantastic. The acting is some of the best this reviewer has seen. Of course, everybody will be talking about Robert De Niro's performance, as Jack LaMotta, and it is for good reason. Another solid performance was from Joe Pesci as Jack's brother, and manager, Joey. The most underrated, and surprising, performance was from, only nineteen years of age at the time, Cathy Moriaty as Vicky.

Overall, if you want to watch one of the best movies of all time, go check this out. If you are looking for a "Rocky" clone, just re-watch "Rocky" again. Martin Scorsese definitely was robbed, as far as an academy award, and it is a shame because this is a fantastic film. See this film; you will probably not be disappointed. "Raging Bull" is top-notch film-making. "Raging Bull" is extremely recommended!

Ghost Rider
(2007)

Leave your inner movie critic, and your brain, at the door
"Ghost Rider" was a fun entertaining film in all the wrong reasons. If a filmmaker like Bryan Singer, Christopher Nolan or Sam Raimi made this film, it would have been more serious and a better quality film. Keep this in mind that this reviewer had not read the comic but is familiar with the character. The comic book could have been as campy as the movie. Nonetheless, this film is amusing in a cheesy 80's action film type way.

In order to save his dying father, young stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze sells his soul to Mephistopheles and sadly parts from the pure-hearted Roxanne Simpson, the love of his life. Years later, Johnny's path crosses again with Roxanne, now a reporter, and with Mephistopheles, who offers to release Johnny's soul if Johnny becomes the fabled, fiery Ghost Rider, a supernatural agent of vengeance and justice. Mephistopheles charges Johnny with defeating the despicable Blackheart, Mephistopheles's nemesis and son, who plans to displace his father and create a new hell even more terrible than the old one.

Is this a great film? No, but most Arnold Schwarzenegger action films are not quality film-making either. Luckily, you forgive because that is not what you watch a Governator movie for anyway. This was exactly what "Ghost Rider" felt like, an 80's action film. There were many cheesy one-liners. Some lame puns were also thrown in there as well. The best parts of the film were the visuals. Ghost Rider was one of the coolest looking comic book characters around, and was someone you could not help but root for. Occasionally it is neat to watch a movie that does not take itself seriously and "Ghost Rider" was that film.

The acting was fifty-fifty, but it is acceptable because it is not the focal point of the movie. Nicolas Cage was wonderful as the main character, Johnny Blaze. Thank God, he did not play Superman because Ghost Rider is more his thing. The highlight was Sam Eliot, who turns everything into gold simply because of his insanely deep voice, as the caretaker. Peter Fonda was convincing as the devil, Mephistopheles. Donald Logue was also very humorous as Johnny's best friend, Mack.

Unfortunately, there were some poor performances too. Eva Mendez was one of them as Roxanne. Her romance with Johnny was not believable at all. Eva Mendez's character was essentially reduced to her cleavage that was shown in every scene she is in. Another disappointment was Wes Bentley as Blackheart. Wes had only one facial expression, just like Eva Mendez, the whole time, and it was somewhat annoying. Nonetheless, with the way modern technology is, Blackheart still looked like a good villain.

In conclusion, you could do a heck of a lot worse then seeing "Ghost Rider." The only real bad thing about this movie is that it was the opposite of what you would have expected from a "Ghost Rider" movie. "Ghost Rider" is not trying to win any academy awards; it is just one to sit back and relax with a bowl of popcorn. Do yourself a favor; leave your brain at the door. In addition, leave your inner movie critic at the door as well. You are not going to need either of them. "Ghost Rider" is a recommended viewing!

The Devil Wears Prada
(2006)

boring, clichéd, predictable, and unfunny
"The Devil Wears Prada" is an extremely overrated film that should only appeal to women. Heterosexual males should not even give this movie a chance because it is unbearable. "The Devil Wears Prada" is an extremely predictable, formulaic, clichéd film. The biggest problem is that it looks no different from the other movies of that genre. Most women will like it, and ignore the flaws though.

"The Devil Wears Prada" is based on a best selling book written by Lauren Weisberger. Fresh from college, Andy, Andria for short, Sachs comes to New York in hopes of being a journalist. Instead, she accepts a job as a personal assistant to the demanding Miranda Priestly, editor in chief of the fashion magazine Runway. Will Andy survive in the fashion world or will she just end up quitting her job?

One of the very few bright spots of this film is the acting by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci. Meryl Streep was amazing as the boss from Hell, Miranda Priestly. Stanley Tucci, as Nigel, is also the only one who actually had character in this film. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast does not do a convincing job. Anne Hathaway, though very attractive, was a lot more convincing in "The Princess Diaries" then in this movie.

In conclusion, if you are a heterosexual male, do not see "The Devil Wears Prada." It is extremely boring, clichéd, predictable, and at least fifteen minutes too long. This is a comedy movie, yet the comedic aspect is non-existent. If you want to watch a real spoof on the fashion industry, go rent "Zoolander." Watch "The Devil Wears Prada" at your own risk. You have been warned!

The Descent
(2005)

The best horror film in years
If you want to be scared, "The Descent" is a movie for you. This movie is unlike recent horror movies. The recent horror films all seem to rely on either jump scenes or abundances of gore. In "The Descent," Neil Marshal has created a film that actually successfully mixes both gore and jumps, and at the same time gives you a feeling of tension throughout the entire movie. It would not be strange to say that this movie is the best horror film in a long time. Some people may even call it one of the scariest films ever.

A tragic accident occurs, leaving Sarah very traumatized. One year later, six female friends reunite for a caving expedition. Their adventure soon goes horribly wrong when a collapse traps them deep underground. To make things worst, they discover that some bloodthirsty cannibalized creatures are hunting them. As their friendships deteriorate, they find themselves in a desperate struggle to survive from not only the creatures but each other as well. Can all of them make it alive or will they all end up being snacks for the creatures?

This movie is intense. It starts out a little slow, during the first twenty-five minutes, in order to show a little character development, but after that, the roller coaster ride begins and it continues until the end credits. If you pretend that you are in the exact same situation as the females, you will relate to the characters and feel very claustrophobic. The feeling of claustrophobia will make you cheer for the females to escape this cave. Of course, their problem is not just exiting the cave, but also escaping from these cannibalistic creatures that live in the cave. Those creatures do not show up until about fifty minutes into the film but once they do, "The Descent" turns a completely new direction.

Since this movie is an all-female cast, surprisingly, it does not settle on the sex and nudity factor at all. Usually you get a movie that is mostly male dominated or else you usually get something that features the females in very limited clothing and many close up shots of their butts and chests. These women did not just run around screaming throughout the movie, they were tough and could easily take care of themselves. It is weird to see a horror movie that does not feature a women's sexuality. While the women were still very attractive, their looks were not the focal point of the movie.

Overall, "The Descent" was an amazing horror film. There is nothing to complain about in this film. It does not feature many of the typical horror movie clichés you would see in modern day horror films. It does its job in frightening the heck out of you. After viewing this movie, many people will probably take spelunking, or cave diving, off their "things to do before you die" list. "The Descent" is one of the best horror films in years. "The Descent" is extremely recommended!

V for Vendetta
(2005)

"V for Vendetta" is V for Victorious
"V for Vendetta" is an amazing movie. It has everything you would want in a movie: great acting, visually stunning, and it is even thought provoking. "V for Vendetta" will not be compared to the original graphic novel, Alan Moore, because this reviewer had not had a chance to read it. With the writing styles of Andy and Larry Wachowski and the directing of first time director, James McTeigue, this movie is something that cannot be missed.

"V for Vendetta" is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore. This movie tells the story about Evey Hammond and her unlikely but instrumental part in bringing down the fascist government that has taken control of a futuristic Great Britain. Saved from a life-and-death situation by a man in a Guy Fawkes mask, who calls himself V, she learns a general summary of V's past. She then attempts to help him bring down those who committed the atrocities that led to Britain being in the shape it is in.

What makes this movie different from your average Hollywood movie is that "V for Vendetta" is very well written. This movie is so thought provoking that it has the potential for many hours of discussion after viewing the movie. Not many films can do that and still give you enough action to make it not boring. It has a powerful, yet very controversial, realistic message about what could happen in the near future. There will be no more discussions about this film, or its message, in the review, it is something you should view yourself and determine whether you agree with the message they are trying to convey.

The acting was fantastic. Natalie Portman proves that, she can still deliver a strong performance, and she does as Evey Hammond. Her acting ability was definitely not shown in George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequel trilogy. The real star of this movie is Hugo Weaving as the masked V. It is unbelievable how three-dimensional a masked character could be. John Hurt did well, yet at times overacted, as the leader of the country, Adam Sutler. Stephen Rea's character, Finch, was also done very well.

There really is not much bad to say about this movie. If you had to choose some, it would be mainly Natalie Portman's accent. The accent was shaky, at times it was great, but at other times it was horrible. Another complaint you may have is about the films marketing. The trailer made it look like a "Matrix" action type movie, which it is not. There where some good action scenes, especially one near the end, but it did not last throughout the whole movie like the trailers made you think.

Overall, if you want to see a good film done right, go, at least, rent "V for Vendetta." If you do not like this film, it is easier to recommend a movie like "X-Men: The Last Stand." There is not much else say about this movie, without spoilers, so go out and see this. You will love it! "V for Vendetta" is recommended!

Lady in the Water
(2006)

A unique fairytale
"Lady in the Water" was the most underrated film of 2006. Whether you like M. Night or not, you have to appreciate the fact that he is one of the rare original filmmakers in Hollywood today and this movie is no different. If you have enjoyed M. Night Shyamalan's other films, you will like "Lady in the Water." However, if you expect a suspenseful thriller like "The Sixth Sense," you will be disappointed. This movie is a bedtime story/ fairy tale, and that is all you should expect from it.

Cleveland Heep is an ordinary apartment superintendent. Until one day, he discovers a woman named Story swimming in the complex's swimming pool after curfew. Cleveland soon learns that she is a "Narf," who comes from the Blue World and has a message for humanity. Will he be able to help Story complete her mission?

As mentioned earlier, "Lady in the Water" is a bedtime story/ fairy tale. As a fairy tale, or bedtime story, this movie forces you to suspend belief, which may be a negative thing, depending on who you are. In addition, many things are not explained as well as they could have, thus it forces you to use your imagination in order to fill in the gaps. Nonetheless, if you view "Lady in the Water" through the eyes of a child, you will enjoy it.

The acting was very good. You really do care about the characters and you like them. Bryce Dallas Howard, who was in M. Night's "The Village," was great as a "Narf" named Story. Paul Giamatti was enjoyable as the stuttering Cleveland Heep. In addition, just like in every movie M. Night movie, Shyamalan is in this film, but this time it is a bigger role then a cameo. The rest of the actors did well too.

There are very few negatives to this movie. Some people might complain about how this story causes you to suspend belief. Those same people will probably not like how some things are not explained well. Most people will probably complain about Shyamalan's ego by casting himself as a writer whose work would eventually change the world. The biggest problem with this movie, which is the same problem "The Village" has, is that it was falsely marketed as a horror movie.

Overall, if you are a fan of M. Night, you would probably like this movie. If you want a movie that has great acting, and various plot twists that will keep you guessing throughout the movie, all wrapped up in a bedtime type story, go see this. You will not regret it. Do not listen to the critics and do not expect this to be another version of "The Sixth Sense." "Lady in the Water" is recommended!

The Da Vinci Code
(2006)

interesting, but overwhelming
"The Da Vinci Code" is the most over hyped/disappointing movie, next to "X-Men: The Last Stand," of 2006. That does not mean it is a bad movie, or horrible movie. Unfortunately, it also does not mean it is a good movie. It is just an okay movie. It is worth to watch but you should not expect much from it.

"The Da Vinci Code" is a movie based on the popular novel by Dan Brown. Robert Langdon is in Paris on business when he is summoned to The Louvre. A dead body has been found. Suddenly Langdon, with the help of a Cryptologist and a British Royal Historian, sets off on an adventure to unravel an ancient secret that has been hidden for over two thousand years. Can he decipher that code, well you will just have to read the book or watch the movie to find out.

The main flaw of this movie is the pacing. It is a very slow-paced movie. It was very hard to sit through the 2 hours and 29 minutes runtime. There is an extended cut, not out in the United States, which is 2 hours and 54 minutes long, which would have been even harder to get through. It is so dialog driven that the movie turned from what could have been an interesting mystery thriller to an extended history class you are forced to be a part of. This reviewer had not read the book, so it all felt a little overwhelming.

The saving point of this movie, or at least what made this from getting a lower review, is the acting. As mentioned in the last paragraph, this reviewer had not read the book, so there will not be any comparisons to the characters in the book. Of course, Tom Hanks is always professional, and it is the same with his portrayal of Robert Langdon. Audrey Tautou, while her French accent was very difficult to understand, was good as Sophie Neveau. Ian McKellen was great as Sir Leigh Teabing. Jean Reno was in there too as Captain Bezu Fache. Paul Bettany stole the show as the murderous albino monk, Silas. Alfred Molina as the Bishop, Manuel Aringarosa was also good.

Unfortunately, while there were some good thrilling parts, the information was just too much and it was overwhelming. At least with a book like this, you can pause, write notes, and eventually stop when it gets to be overwhelming. The movie is not as bad as some people has made them out to be, Ron Howard does not even deserve a Razzie for the direction of "The Da Vinci Code," but it was not outstanding either. One thing "The Da Vinci Code" movie does well is makes you, and mainly the people who did not read the book, want to read the novel. Unfortunately, "The Da Vinci Code" is only recommended to those who have read the book!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
(2003)

Do Not Compare To The Original!
There is zero doubt the influence and the effectiveness of Tobe Hopper's "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" has had on the film industry. With that in mind, expecting the same from this "re-imagining" would be silly. Does that mean this version is a bad movie? That answer is not necessarily true. Should you expect a good or a great movie? Well, you just have to see for yourself.

This "re-imagining" is inspired by a true story. A group of college kids, on their way to a Lenard Skynard concert, run into a hitchhiker. They try to help the girl, but in the process end up falling prey to her mysterious fear. That fear is none other then the chainsaw wielding, Leatherface and his cannibalistic family. Does the group escape, or will they end up being the next meal?

First things first, do not compare this to the original "Texas Chain Saw Massacre." This is not even close to the level of that movie. The story, but not the main theme, is very different. Leatherface's family is different and so are all the characters. The only thing that is true to the original is the overall theme of Leatherface chasing and killing teens. If you go to this movie expecting a scene for scene remake, you should skip this and just re-watch the original because you would be disappointed.

The results of this movie are mixed. There were some likable moments, yet there were others that make you think, "What the heck were they thinking?" There were some legitimately scary moments throughout. This was not "watch with light on" scary, nor was it "unable to sleep" scary, but it shows enough gore and tense/disturbing moments to do its job. Unfortunately, there was also plenty, especially during the climax of the story, of cheesy moments, which not only ruined some of the scarier scenes but also made for some unintentional laughter.

The acting was average. It was not horrible, but it was not very good either. It was what is expected from a slasher movie. Jessica Biel played Erin as well as anyone could have. If she chooses her roles well, she could end up being the next Jamie Lee Curtis. The actor who really stood out was R. Lee Ermey as Sheriff Hoyt. Sheriff Hoyt is the main reason to watch this movie. Andrew Bryniarski was a very scary Leatherface, aka, for this movie, Thomas Hewitt. Though the acting is average, you never go see a horror movie for its amazing acting.

Overall, this version of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is entertaining. This is not worth multiple viewings, but it is worth watching. Is it better then the 2004 "re-imagining" of "Dawn of the Dead" or Tobe Hopper's "Texas Chain Saw Massacre?" Nope, but it is still a decent modern day horror movie. Movie lovers should keep their eye out for a severed head of Harry Jay Knowles.

Snakes on a Plane
(2006)

instant cult classic
What should be said about "Snakes on a Plane?" Is it enjoyable? Is it recommended? With arguable the most internet hype ever, is "Snakes on a Plane" worth that hype. Was it a disappointment or an instant cult classic? Well, you will have to read this review to find out.

Sean Jones witnesses a murder at the hands of crime lord, Eddie Kim. After a failed hit on Jones' life, Federal Agent Nelville Flynn convinces Sean to testify in Los Angeles against Kim and help put him behind bars forever. In order to get to that grand jury, Jones and Flynn must fly across the Pacific Ocean, but Kim and his men try to prevent that by taking the plane down with the help of poisonous snakes hidden in the cargo area. Anarchy erupts and blood is splattered. There is now a war of man (and woman) vs. snakes 30,000 feet in the air. Who wins? Watch this movie to find out.

"Snakes on a Plane" was horrible, yet at the same time completely amazing. Your movie experience will be one of the most fun times you will have. The idea of making this movie "so bad it is great" really worked. This film is loaded with as many clichés as you can think of for both action and horror films of the 1980's and 1990's. The visuals were horrible. There are holes in the plot that are so obvious even people who do not look for any will find them. All of the characters were stereotypes. What makes "Snakes on a Plane" stand out so much is that the makers know of all of the films flaws, but instead of trying to correct by pointless explanations, they just add more.

The acting is also very mediocre. Samuel L. Jackson was the star of this film as Neville Flynn. Julianna Margulies was a flight attendant named Claire Miller. This movie also centered on Sean Jones, played by Nathan Phillips. Rachel Blanchard played a Paris Hilton wannabe named Mercedes. Flex Alexander played a rapper named Three G's. David Koechner played one of the flights pilots, Rick. Even Kenan Thompson shows up as Three G's bodyguard, Troy. It truly looks like everyone had a blast making this film!

Overall, if you are up for it, you will love "Snakes on a Plane." "Snakes on a Plane" is an instant cult classic. There is not anything bad to say about this movie. It was everything expected. You should expect snakes, you should expect a plane, you also expected the snakes to be on the plane, and lastly you should expect Samuel L. Jackson. What more could you have asked for? If you want to watch a movie purely for the fun aspect, watch "Snakes on a Plane" with a group of friends. This movie is easily recommended!

Night at the Museum
(2006)

A funny family film
"Night at the Museum" is a great family movie. If you enjoy movies like "Jumanji," you should really enjoy this. Everybody in your family, no matter the age, can enjoy this movie. If you want to see a movie with good humor and visuals, you should consider viewing this. You should not be disappointed, and it is worth your $8.75+! This movie is a great way to end the 2006 movie year positively.

Good-hearted dreamer Larry Daley thinks he is destined for something big, but unfortunately he has not been able to hold a real job. He is then hired as a night guard for a museum. Larry only took the job to impress his son; he never expected this job to bring out any excitement, but that was before his discovery. Daley discovers that everything in the museum, literally, comes to life when the sun comes down. Once the sun comes down, the fun begins.

The cast is the best part of "Night at the Museum." Ben Stiller is funny, as always, as Larry Daley. Joining Stiller are three comedic legends (Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs) as the museum's former night guards. Robin Williams is also there as a likable Teddy Roosevelt. The highlights of this film came from a roman miniature named Octavius, played by Steve Coogan, and cowboy miniature named Jedidiah, played by Owen Wilson. Also in this all-star cast is Ricky Gervais as Mr. McPhee.

With that big cast, you should expect some big laughs, and you get them. The humor maybe a little childish and silly, but it is a guarantee to make any age group laugh aloud at least once. Everybody in the theater was laughing frequently. Besides the special effects, the jokes and the humor involved with all the characters was the highlight of this fun family movie. This movie may not be the funniest movie ever made, but it did its job to contain enough laughs for a whole family.

The special effects were surprising good. It is not surprising because every recent movie has been impressive as far as the special effects aspects go. The look of the fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex was extremely cool. It was the most realistic fossilized T-Rex this reviewer has seen in a family movie. These special effects may not compare to some of the bigger budget films, but they do the job. They are certainly a big improvement over the 1996 movie, "Jumanji."

There are still some negatives. There are some lapses of logic and other plot holes scattered through this movie. Luckily, considering the premise and the silliness of the movie, those minor things can be ignored. Film critics probably will not ignore them, because it is their duty is to tear every single movie apart, regardless of its quality. Luckily, the average moviegoer is smart enough to ignore those minor things that take away from the enjoyment of this picture. The only real complaint is at the beginning of the end credits, they start out with a rap song. It did not fit in to the rest of the movie and, because of that, it felt out of place.

Overall, if you want to take the family out to a nice, clean movie goes see this. It has all the elements needed to make everybody from the family smile. With the price of admission to the cinema these days, do not worry about the price because it is worth it. Do yourself the favor, ignore the critics who have trashed this movie, and make your own opinion. It is recommended for everybody who is just looking for good entertainment. It is also a recommend viewing at your local IMAX.

Dawn of the Dead
(2004)

A true zombie flick
The 2004 "re-imagining" of "Dawn of the Dead" is an impressive zombie movie. There will be zero comparing to the original George A. Romero movie because this reviewer had only see bits and pieces (lame pun) of that one. There will be no comparisons between the unrated edition and the theatrical cut because this reviewer never saw the theatrical version. If you decide to watch this version of "Dawn of the Dead," expect lots of gore, and action, mixed in with plenty of suspense. If you expect those, you should be very pleased.

A young female nurse, named Anna, is caught in the middle of a worldwide chaos as flesh-eating zombies begin taking over the world by attacking the living. She escapes into the streets and is rescued by a police officer named Kenneth. Together they find shelter in a mall, along with a group of other survivors. For a while everything is OK, but then they start running out of food, the power goes out, and the dead keep finding ways to break through their defenses. Realizing this, they must make a plan for escape. Will they find a way to survive or is the human race doomed?

The first 15 minutes of this movie was one of the best introductions this reviewer had seen, not only for a horror movie but also for any type. The idea of putting a Johnny Cash song, "The Man Comes Around," in the opening credits, may seem strange in a horror movie, but because of the songs post-apocalyptic feel, it fits well. It was a bold move, but it worked well. After watching the movie, you discover that putting that the addition of that Johnny Cash song was pure genius.

From beginning to end, this movie grabs you by the throat and never lets you go. It starts with a creepy introduction and continues that pace throughout. This is a zombie movie, so you should expect gore and plenty of it. While this movie is advertised as a pure horror movie, it should be considered more of an action movie with elements of suspense and horror. Another great factor was that they never took this movie too seriously by adding some dark comedy to it. You also need to watch the end credits to see what happens to the remaining survivors.

Throughout this movie, the main stars are the zombies. These zombies are different then the normal zombies seen in video games, movies, books, and television shows. These zombies are more realistic looking, which made them scarier. The make up was amazing and a huge improvement over the zombies in the original "Dawn of the Dead." Zombies could not get very much more realistic then what is shown in the 2004 version of "Dawn of the Dead." Another difference is the speed of the zombies. These zombies can run and will be able to catch you if you do not run fast enough. That made it scarier simply because you do not think the human race has a chance of survival.

The actors do a decent job in making you care for their survival, even though majority of the movie was focused on the action and suspense. None of the actors did an award winning performance, but it did their jobs. Sarah Polley played Anna, the main woman who was given the most time and development. Ving Rhames plays Kenneth, a cop fighting for his survival. Mekhi Phifer plays Andre, a man having a tough time realizing that his wife, Luda (played by Inna Korobkina), may be turning into a zombie. Jake Webber plays Michael, a person you do not like at first but by the end you end up liking him.

The only real defect to this version of "Dawn of the Dead" is the writing. This is not very surprising since this is not only an action/horror movie, but also a zombie movie. There were plot holes and some things were not explained well. Some of the characters could have been expanded a little bit. Some people may complain about that, but this reviewer did not seem to mind it at all. After all, the unrated cut is 110 minutes long, which is almost two hours; no zombie movie needs to be over two hours long.

Overall, this is an entertaining movie. With a $28 million budget, you should expect lots of blood and gore, realistic zombie make up, explosions with great action scenes involving: guns, saws, and other weapons. The results make this an entertaining popcorn movie you can turn your brain off to. With action, horror, and some comedy mixed in, there was everything you should expect in a zombie movie. The 2004 version of "Dawn of the Dead" is very recommend!

Predator 2
(1990)

Pointless but entertaining sequel
"Predator 2" is an entertaining movie. Unfortunately, it was not to the level of the first "Predator," but that was expected because most sequels are worst then the previous movie. You will enjoy this film more if you had not seen the first one. If you had seen the first one, you should still enjoy this but not as much as the other. Nonetheless, "Predator 2" is a pointless but entertaining sequel.

"Predator 2" takes place ten years, 1997, after the first "Predator." Lt. Harrigan (Danny Glover) is a cop fighting the good war against drugs. Unfortunately, the major drug lords have been killed in a very brutal fashion. Harrigan's superiors tell him to stay out of it, but he knows something is wrong. His instincts are right when he discovers the person behind the murders is none other than the Predator, a human-hunting alien who likes to make trophies out of his victims' skulls. Can Harrigan stop the Predator?

The biggest problem with this movie is its silly premise. The first "Predator" was fun with a Predator in the jungle stalking his prey. This one involves the Predator stalking its prey in the city of Los Angeles. Some people may enjoy this factor, but this reviewer was not one of them. It is much more exciting in the jungle of Central America. Arnold Schwarzenegger also rejected the opportunity to reprise his role as Dutch because he thought the premise was too ridiculous. You should not blame him because if you had read the script, you would have probably turned it down too.

A minor problem is Danny Glover. As everyone should know, Danny Glover is no Arnold Schwarzenegger. In addition, as everyone should think, it is a lot less fun thinking of Danny Glover kicking a Predator's butt then it is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Danny Glover was not bad, but he just does not have that instant coolness that Arnold has. It would have been more entertaining if "The Governator," aka Arnold Schwarzenegger, was in "Predator 2" instead.

There are some positives though. Many of these positives were improved from the previous "Predator." The special effects were an improvement from the first "Predator." The action, the violence, and the gore factor are also improved from the previous film. The way they expanded on the Predator by giving him more gadgets and weapons was very interesting. Bill Paxton is always enjoyable in his supporting roles.

Overall, this is a decent film. This is not anything worthy of owning, but it is still entertaining. This would have been better if three things happened: the first reason would be if the first did not exist, the second would be if you had never seen the first one, and the third would have been if you had seen the first one but were not comparing the two. This reviewer made a comparison to the first and that was his mistake. If you had not seen this film in a while, or would like to see it, you should rent it because it is still entertaining.

Eragon
(2006)

A poor book adaptation
"Eragon" is an extremely disappointing movie. As a fan of the book, this reviewer wanted to love this movie, but it just did not live up to its potential. With all of the hype, you would expect "Eragon" to be great, maybe not the level of "Lord of the Rings," "Harry Potter," or "Chronicles of Narnia," but just a notch below those. It is a shame that something so hyped up could be so disappointing. It would more logical to save your $8.75+ and either watch "Casino Royale" or spend a little more and buy the book, "Eragon."

King Galbatorix has slaughtered all the legendary dragons and their riders, driving the rebels into hiding. Luckily, hope still is possible because Princess Arya is able to export the last remaining dragon egg from Galbatorix. This egg ends up in the possession of Eragon. This dragon, named Saphira, has immediately bonded with Eragon. Sadly, this makes Eragon a target for King Galbatorix and his sorcerer henchman, Durza. Eragon soon finds his family under attack. To his luck, a man named Brom is there to rescue him. Brom leads him on a journey that teaches him the ways of dragons and magic. Is Eragon ready to face these dangers?

If you enjoyed the book, you will not like this movie. Many of the key characters are nonexistent. Many of the locations were not there either. They even left out some key plots in the book. It almost seems like the screenwriters just skimmed the book, and put only the "key" elements. It almost felt like the makers only cared about the buck and not the film itself. It is difficult to fit a whole book into just one movie, but they could have done some modification here and there in order to do that. If you look at recent films like "Lord of the Rings," "Harry Potter," "Spiderman," and "X-Men" (before "The Last Stand") those movies were not 100% perfect to the book, but there was enough modification for people to not mind.

The most bothersome part of this movie was the length. It is a known fact that you cannot make an epic fantasy with a runtime of only 99 minutes long. "Dumb and Dumber" was seven minutes longer. What were they thinking making a fantasy movie that was shorter then a buddy comedy? They should have increased the run time by 60 minutes. This reviewer would have no problems sitting through a 150-minute movie and fans of the book would probably not mind either. This proves that they cared more about the number of screening then the quality of the movie.

Due to the short runtime, there are many plot holes and very little character development. You have a hard time caring for any of the characters on the screen. Everything seemed rushed when it never needed it to be. Some things were not explained very well. If you had not read the book, you might have been confused. The blame should be going to the screenwriters and the director, Stefen Fangmeier. This is more proof that the makers did not care enough.

The acting was mediocre at best. When you have a cast with names like: Jeremy Irons (as Brom), John Malkovich (as King Galbatorix), Djimon Hounsou (as Ajihad), Rachel Weis (as Saphira), and among others, you would expect at least better then average. This reviewer's friend said it best, "When the actors weren't acting like robots, they were overacting." All of the blame should be going to the screenwriters because there is no other way you can look at that. The only actors to do a better then mediocre job were Jeremy Irons as Brom and Rachel Weis as the telepathic voice of Saphira.

Another problem was the music. A good movie has an amazing film score that draws you into the movie as it were another character. You should not expect "Lord of the Rings" quality, but you should at least hope for something that could draw you into the story and make you care a bit more. An Avril Lavigne song, "Keep Holding On," is played at the beginning of the end credits. This reviewer has nothing against Avril, but it makes you wonder what "20th Century Fox" was thinking deciding to put a mainstream teenybopper song in a fantasy movie.

The movie was not all disappointment. The visuals were amazing, especially Saphira. This Saphira, with the scales and feathers, was a unique dragon to look at. Whenever Saphira and Eragon were in flight, you should be in awe. This is not surprising considering that Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a visual effects company created by George Lucas, were in charge for all the special effects. Plus when you have a $100 million budgeted fantasy movie, you better expect some great special effects.

Overall, this movie was a disappointment. Sure the visuals were amazing and Jeremy Irons and Rachel Weis tried their best to save this movie, but unfortunately the makers did not seem to care about the quality of the film. While reading the book, "Eragon," it was obvious that Christopher Paolini was no JRR Tolkien, it is also clear that Stefen Fangmeier is no Peter Jackson. "Eragon" probably would be more enjoyable if you do read the book, but it is extremely doubtful. Skip this title but if you have to see it, wait for the DVD rental.

Casino Royale
(2006)

A more humanized James Bond
Bond is back in "Casino Royale!" This twenty-first edition, or first depending on the way you look at it, brings James Bond back to the beginning, much like "Batman Begins." There will be zero comparisons to the ones before the Pierce Brosnan era, since this reviewer has only seen bits and pieces of the Bonds before "Goldeneye." The director, Martin Campbell, who was also the director of "Goldeneye," did an amazing job. It is much better then the last James Bond, "Die Another Day."

James Bond, soon after obtaining his 007 'license to kill' status, finds himself in the middle of an international incident when he kills an unarmed bomber on embassy grounds. Despite drawing the wrath of his superiors, Bond continues to track the known associates of the bomber. Bond's investigation leads him to Le Chiffre, a banker for international terrorists. Bond and the British Secret Service discover that Le Chiffre will be playing in a high stakes card game, Texas Hold 'Em, at Casino Royale. Bond decides to enter the game with millions on the line. Will James Bond's ego keep him from winning the game?

This is not your traditional James Bond. The obvious is the look of Bond, Bond has blonde hair, which may cause some unnecessary complaints, and Daniel Craig is not a very handsome Bond. The enjoyable aspect of Daniel Craig's bond was that he had a human element. He made mistakes and did not win every time. He never had to rely on silly over-the-top gadgets, like the invisible car in "Die Another Day," in fact he only relied on a gadget once in the movie. The most enjoyable aspect of "Casino Royale" was that this bond did not seem like a superhero. The problem with most of the Brosnan movies is that bond seemed less like a human being and more like a superhuman. If you need to watch a superhero, watch "Spiderman" or "X-Men."

The casting was great. Daniel Craig played a Bond who not only could be hurt physically but mentally too. Eva Green played the main Bond girl, named Vesper Lynd, who had excellent chemistry with Craig. It is better they went with someone less known, unlike the last two Bond movies, "Die Another Day" with Halle Berry and "The World Is Not Enough" with Denise Richards. Mads Mikkelsen, as the villain, Le Chiffre, had a more realistic agenda then the typical Bond villain, and that was more enjoyable because it was more real. Judi Dench is back as M and is always enjoyable in that role.

There cannot be a Bond movie without the action. What was really enjoyable about the action in "Casino Royale," which was something that has plagued that last couple Bonds, is that it did not really too much on CGI. Most of the action and the stunts looked realistic, which made it seem less like a realistic video game, unlike "Die Another Day." This movie did not rely on too much gadgets. The last couple of movies simply went overboard on the gadgets and it was better to see this movie use as little gadgets as Bond could. Unfortunately, there was a scene with a lot of obvious CGI, an action sequence in Madagascar, which would not seem out of place in the "Matrix" trilogy. Normally, CGI does not bother this reviewer but since the other action scenes were not as obvious, it bothered this reviewer more then it should have.

The end credits were great. The theme song, "You Know My Name" by Chris Cornell, is amazing because it sets the gritty dark mood of the movie. "You Know My Name" is much better then Madonna's "Die Another Day." The opening graphics that feature poker cards is a nice change, might be the first time used differently, from the normal naked women silhouettes. After watching the whole movie, besides all of the characters, it did not seem like a James Bond movie.

There are some negatives though. First off, as mentioned earlier, there was one action scene in Madagascar, which was bothersome because normal people do not run and jump like that. Another complaint is the song, "You Know My Name," it is a good song but it is much better without the orchestra added. At 144 minutes, this movie was a little to long and dragged a little. It would have been better if they had trimmed about 10 to 15 minutes off from the run time. Besides those three negatives, this movie is almost flawless.

In conclusion, "Casino Royale" is a fun movie. It had flaws but every movie does. This movie is recommended to anybody who prefers a movie like "Bourne Identity," or a show like "24," to a movie like "XXX." This may not win any academy awards, but it is one of the more entertaining movies this winter. Bond is back and this time his name is Craig, Daniel Craig! See this before it leaves the theaters!

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