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Friday the 13th

I went into this movie not having seen a single Friday the 13th movie all the way through. I originally didn't want to see this one, not because it looked bad, quite the opposite: because I thought it looked genuinely scary. And I scare easily.

As 2/13/09 drew closer and I began watching the trailer more and more I decided that I really did want to see it. Overall, I liked it. I couldn't help but compare it to My Bloody Valentine 3- D which I saw a little less than a month ago, and this was without a doubt a more technically sound movie. The storyline was better, the cast was better, the dialogue was better by a slight margin. That leads me into what I liked. Director Marcus Nispel gave the movie a great atmosphere; things were almost always tense or creepy. Jason was imposing and definitely quite frightening. The situation was believable for the main group of characters.

Now for what I think hurt the movie. First of all, I am not a big fan of the decision to have two sets of characters. I understand it was necessary to introduce Whitney's predicament but I thought it really hurt the main group. The movie is only one hour and thirty-five minutes so the first set of characters drastically depletes the time we have to get to know the second set. We know them for less than a day before they all start getting picked off. I think Willa Ford's character had maybe five lines, the Nolan character less than that. I just really didn't care about the characters that much. The second thing I disliked was the backstory/captivity of Whitney. The Mrs. Voorhees part in the beginning felt jarring and tacked on and then I just felt that the Whitney in captivity part was preposterous and weird. Also, it is simply not feasible for Jason to appear everywhere completely unnoticed. He is a huge guy, there's no way you wouldn't see or hear him coming, yet he appears completely out of nowhere so many times. Jumpy? Yes. Plausible? Not at all. These elements combined unfortunately made the movie not scary. I jumped a lot during it but I was not scared afterward, not at all.

I really did like the movie, for me the detractors were not so bad that I came out hating it. It was well-done in my opinion with effective jump scares and I liked the different take on the series. Now let's see if a sequel comes out in this same vein.

Repo! The Genetic Opera

Everyone Should Go to the Opera Tonight
You generally go into movies like this one with the feeling that it will be genuinely, horribly awful or so horribly awful that it's good. Rarely ever do you expect it to actually be a good movie. Given the awful critical reviews of the movie in conjunction with the rabid approval and overwhelmingly positive moviegoer reviews I was expecting a Rocky Horror-so-bad-it's-good movie. Repo way exceeded my expectations. Right from the opening sequence of comic book frames setting the scene to the climatic blood-bathed opera sequence, it captivated my attention and blew me away. It is an opera so every word is sung, or at least spoken in rhythm. The style is futuristic with soft-edged dark colors that match the mood perfectly. And the performances are all top-notch fantastic. Alexa Vega carries the movie as the main character, Shilo Wallace, proving that she can sing and act quite well. I loved Sarah Brightman as Blind Mag, it was awesome seeing as acclaimed an opera singer as her having a blast in this movie. Contrary to what some may think, Paris Hilton was great, I even found myself wanting to see more of her character. While not understated, she's not a scenery-chewing showboat either, she knows the scope of her part and plays it within those confines very well. The music is fantastic and while the movie is bloody, I (who has a weak stomach) found the violence just sparse enough to not make it hard to watch. This is a fantastic, visionary film that deserves more recognition/publicity/of a release than it's getting right now, please go see it.

Step Brothers

Funny, But Not Great
Step Brothers was basically exactly what I expected it to be. I went in with my expectations set somewhere between good and bad, that way if it exceeded them great, if not oh well. It met them right where I had them. The idea of two forty-year-old men still living at home forced to cohabitate when their single parents marry is interesting, though I thought it played out a bit one-note, I mean there's only so much you can do with the direction they chose to take the plot. I thought Will Ferrell was a bit sub-par, he kind of gets swallowed up and doesn't stand out to me as much as usual. Plus he's doing his umpteenth version of the outrageous man-child. For me he just does better when he's creating a character, like Ron Burgundy, Buddy the Elf, Chazz Michael Michaels, Jackie Moon, etc. Here he's just...Brennan Huff, the unemployed, homebound 39-year-old. John C. Reilly is good and plays off Ferrell well, but like Ferrell he's just not as good on his own in this movie. This all being said, the movie is funny; I was entertained. There were several great lines and situations, though I don't think this is destined to be as quotable as say Anchorman. The movie definitely benefits from its R rating, I don't think a toned-down Step Brothers would work as well. All in all, the movie succeeds as a light, entertaining, and funny adult comedy.


Good Movie, But. . .
"Hancock" elevates itself above the usual summer fare right off the bat with an unusual plot. Imagine a man with superpowers who then decides to become a superhero, but his rotten attitude and penchant for causing more damage to his city than good has the citizens of Los Angeles begging him to go somewhere else. It's an interesting twist on the superhero story. Will Smith plays the titular man as a surly, heavy-drinking, foul-mouthed, unpleasant citizen of L.A. As usual, he is very good, probably the thing I enjoyed most about the movie. He adds several requisite layers to Hancock but manages to make them feel fresh. Coming in a close second to what I enjoyed most was Jason Bateman as a PR exec who wants to make over Hancock's image. Bateman's comedic timing and earnestness compliment's Smith wonderfully. The effects are good and there are several moments that are quite funny. However, the film does have its flaws. The first gripe for me would be that the director, Peter Berg, seems to be an avid fan of the extreme close-up. When two people are talking he often zooms so close in on their faces that you cannot even see their hairline. I found it distracting. I also thought that Charlize Theron was miscast. I like her a lot and I think she's a great actress, but she lacked the comedic timing needed for her part as Jason Bateman's wife who is very skeptical that Hancock can change. She plays one scene in particular, a kitchen confrontation with Hancock, very straight and dour which is a jarring contrast to Smith's light comedy. Next, the story. The premise is unusual and quite good, but it looses steam less than halfway through the movie. The movie is quite short, only an hour and a half, so at least in that respect there isn't much left once the plot starts giving out. It takes an unbelievable turn in the third act that I just didn't buy. I think the screenwriters found it difficult to stretch a simplistic idea to a feature length. Also, the lack of a central villain hurt as well. Pitting Hancock repeatedly against petty criminals just did not work as well as if they had given him a main nemesis.

"Hancock" is good and quite entertaining, there are several reasons to see it. Is it a perfect movie? No, but it has enough redeeming qualities to make it the perfect summer escape.

The Dark Knight

Simply Magnificent
Right from the riveting first moment to the bleak last moment The Dark Knight had me one hundred percent. The story was sound, the acting top notch, and the cinematography wonderfully done. The movie picks up just about where Batman Begins left off and we see Christian Bale masterfully guiding Bruce Wayne/Batman through a moral conflict of sorts. Though definitely not the same level of regret and bitterness that Peter Parker experiences in Spider-Man 2, Batman is experiencing some of the pitfalls and less savory effects of his heroic efforts. Troublesome copycats are risking their lives, but a bigger problem soon manifests itself. Yep, the Joker has arrived in full force and anarchy is the name of the game. Watching Heath Ledger, it was amazingly easy to forget all of the hype and everything I had heard and see the performance for what it really was: amazing. I can truly say that he would be getting as much praise for the role if he was still alive that he is now. He runs the show in the movie. He disappears completely and creates a character that is by turns terrifying and comical. His zaniness is such that it makes you laugh at first glance, but then you realize how truly evil and disturbed the character is and then, suddenly, it's not so funny. Bravo. There are not many characters that make me unsure of whether to laugh at them or hide in fear. Christian Bale tops his Batman Begins performance, doing even better. Aaron Eckhart was fantastic as Harvey Dent. His performance is subtle, layered, nuanced, and so believable, he's a character you initially root for and ultimately feel all of his heartbreak. Maggie Gyllenhaal basically reinvents her character; it's tough because Rachel Dawes has much more screen time in this movie than BB, so watching Maggie is like seeing a whole different character entirely, but she was very good. And of course the rest of the cast was great, even the minor characters. The great triumvirate of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman was fantastic, all three men were amazing. I really liked Eric Roberts as new crime lord Maroni as well. When all is said and done, the movie is a masterpiece. Great writing, directing, acting, and visuals all combine to make the best movie I have seen this year. Bravo, bravo.

27 Dresses

Very cute
For many the plot of this movie feels formulaic and revisited. Jane (Katherine Heigl) is the people-pleaser of the century. A somewhat spineless nice girl who can't say no to anyone, she has been a bridesmaid 27 times, often exceeding her duties in every wedding. For all her romantic yearnings, she can't seem to hook her boss, George (Ed Burns) whom she has been in love with for years. When her self-centered little sister Tess (Malin Akerman) comes in and manages to snag George, Jane once again capitulates to everyone's needs but her own. In comes Kevin (James Marsden), a newspaper columnist stuck covering weddings who yearns to break out and write about more important things. Under the pretense of covering George and Tess's wedding, he really is writing about Jane and her perpetual bridesmaid stints. Complications ensue etc. etc.

For me, what really made this movie was the performances. Katherine Heigl did an absolutely fantastic job playing the woman that I'm sure everyone has felt like at one time. She brought a lot of spice to what could have been a one-note role. James Marsden is also pitch-perfect as the cynical reporter, a foil to Jane. It helps that they have good fight-and-kiss chemistry.

Also, for me the story line was not as tired and recycled as people made it out to be. It had some fresh spin and I really enjoyed it. I also preferred the ending to this movie to many chick-flick comedies which leave things open-ended and almost unrealistic. 27 Dresses wraps up all the plot lines in one neat sequence that is a truly worthy finale.

All in all, as far as romances and rom-coms go, this one shot to the top of my list.

The Kite Runner

Beautiful and Moving Film
Though movies often tend to evoke strong emotions in me, I must admit that I'm rarely ever moved to actual tears. However The Kite Runner, whether during a heartbreakingly sad scene or a joyous one, moved me to tears on several occasions.

The film is just truly well done. It's well-filmed, amazingly directed, very well-written and superbly acted. I fell in love time and time again with the newcomer playing young Hassan. He and the actor playing young Amir have such uncanny talent for expressing pure, raw emotion. They truly were the embodiment of their literary counterparts. The actor playing the adult Amir did an excellent job as well. Amir, as all who have read the book and seen the movie, is an unusual protagonist. He is not that likable and at first seems to possess few redeeming qualities. However there are two scenes that take place when Amir is an adult which finally show him growing up, and this actor did such an amazing job with them, I could feel my heart swelling with pride for his journey. I have to commend the casting directors for their choice for the adult Assef. He has only one big scene but he haunts you long after he is off screen. I was truly terrified the whole time he was on screen. The actor really captures the fanaticism and sheer insanity that is Assef, and he does it all with Assef's most haunting and important feature: his eyes. His eyes were the most frightening thing that I could imagine in a person.

As with any book adaptation, there are some key moments that are trimmed from the film, but I thought the writers did an excellent job. Everything flows and fits together seamlessly. The movie is truly an excellent film. It is so moving and it has a great message about sin and redemption and everything in between. Bravo.


Absolutely Stunning
I have been waiting to see this movie for a very long time and today I finally got to see it. I had been trying not to get too excited in case it didn't live up to my expectations, but I needn't have worried. The movie absolutely blew me away.

First off, it was filmed beautifully. Joe Wright really has a talent for using the natural surroundings to his advantage, I also loved that in Pride and Prejudice. The now-famous Dunkirk scene was just stunning. I was really excited to see that after all I had heard and it was just amazing. Wright really captured the anti-glory of the war when WWI is often characterized by the initial euphoria of all parties involved that war had come, then the steep disillusionment that followed. I was so glad that he did the shot as one long continuous take, it was excellent.

Now, the performances. Starting with the most attention-getting, Keira Knightley did a fabulous job as Cecilia. I've read the novel and I felt that she really embodied the character. Saoirse Ronan was the most perfect young Briony. She's gotten a lot of attention as well and she fully deserves it, she was fantastic as the self-centered, ignorant, spoiled little rich girl. I felt, however, that the movie truly belonged to James McAvoy. He was so heartrending and incredible as Robbie. True, he and Keira Knightley didn't have a ton of crackling chemistry, but his earnestness and her eagerness make you really believe and feel for them.

The writers did a great job adapting Ian McEwan's sprawling novel, and they did an excellent job showing the introspectiveness that the novel conveys. Of course it's hard to get so deeply inside of each character's head the way the novel does, but the movie does an excellent job without feeling rushed or choppy. As with Pride and Prejudice, they clipped the unnecessary but kept the heart of the story.

All in all, it was an excellent, amazing movie, my definite favorite of the year and very worth seeing.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Good, but. . .
I'm in the minority, but I actually didn't like it as much as I was expecting to. It was good and well-done, but I went into it expecting the amazing movie that I'd heard so much about and left feeling disappointed. Maybe if I were to see it again I might appreciate it more. It's hard to finger exactly what disappointed me, but I guess it was just that everything could have been done better, at least to me. In one review I read it stated that the show had been cut from over three hours to just over two without losing anything. I disagree. I felt that a lot of characterization was lost and that everything moved very, very fast. I know Helena Bonham Carter legitimately won the part of Mrs. Lovett, and she was very good, but I couldn't ignore that nagging feeling that other actresses might have been better. And I love, love, love Johnny Depp, but I couldn't help but feel his performance was a little...one note. Yes, it once again displays his chameleon talent and yes he nailed the part, but there wasn't that much to nail. There are several scenes where he's very good, but several where he gets easily overshadowed by others on screen. He also hardly speaks, Mrs. Lovett had a bigger part than him. Judge Turpin's lecherousness could have been fleshed out a lot more.

On the whole, it was very good, the style was great, the actors as an ensemble were great, but I guess to me, once I start examining the separate parts, it suffers.

I still say it is definitely worth seeing, but I'm not sure I would name it the best movie of the year.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

As a huge fan of the Harry Potter books I always look forward to the movies. I've never been let down with any movie as I was still really young (eleven) when the first one came out so I didn't know any better. However looking back on all of them now I definitely recognize their faults and strengths. I was very excited to see The Order of the Phoenix but a little skeptical since this had been my least favorite book. I was blown away. If I could have kept any director it definitely would have been Alfonso Cuaron, whose style and touches were perfectly suited for the third movie and a welcome change from Chris Columbus's kid-glove style. Mike Newell did a decent job with the fourth movie, though it suffered from plot changes that didn't work well. I did (and still do think) that he had the toughest challenge thus far with staging Voldemort's return and he did do a good job with that. David Yates did an amazing job. I really loved that he kept the movie dark and unsettling, with a few smatters of well-done dry humor here and there. The book is dense and not a pleasant trip and he conveyed that sense beautifully. He also managed to achieve something that none of the other directors, not even Cuaron, could do: he made the movie flow. None of the first four movies flow well at all; they all feel awkward and jerky and you can almost always see when they remove something from the book and try and smooth the transition. By showing the issues of the Daily Prophet as transitions he keeps you informed on what is going on outside the walls of Hogwarts as well as inside. It was a brilliant touch that I loved.

Of course not all of the credit lies with Yates; the acting in this movie was superb. All three of the leads were at their best, although I did sense that the size of Rupert's role took a cut due to the immense popularity of Dan and Emma. Evanna Lynch was a better Luna Lovegood than I could have ever imagined. Helena Bonham Carter creates in Bellatrix Lestrange a villain that you can truly and purely hate. I always have trouble, even with the nastiest of villains, not feeling some sympathy for them or trying to understand them. I had no trouble hating the truly evil character that Bonham Carter paints. Imelda Staunton makes a perfect Dolores Umbridge. If I were asked at almost any time I would say that I much prefer Richard Harris's Dumbledore to Michael Gambon's, yet I felt that Gambon's portrayal was perfect for this movie.

The only gripe I have is that they do cut a lot out. It is the shortest movie whereas the book is the longest in the series. The movie isn't really hindered by this, but purists will be incensed. I feel that the only scene that really suffered from the cuts and changes was the customary Dumbledore explanation at the end. That scene in the book is fraught with important points and raw emotion that is not conveyed properly in the movie.

All in all I definitely felt that this was the best movie of the series and it is my favorite. Go see it.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

A Brave Finish
After a year of anticipation, I finally got to see the final chapter of the Pirates trilogy. As a die-hard fan of the series, I had high expectations, and this one definitely met them. I thought it was visually stunning and had a storyline far superior to Dead Man's Chest. Although At World's End didn't have much new to add, it did have the hefty task of wrapping up all the loose ends (and there were quite a few) that Dead Man's Chest produced. It did this wonderfully. The graphics and visuals, as usual, were stunning. One element of the movie that I really liked was the writers' technique of dividing the audience's sympathies. There wasn't one villain that I could intensely hate in one scene but then feel very sorry for in the next. One thing I didn't like was Keith Richards's cameo. It was so publicized and highly anticipated, but in the end he was given so little to do and some people in my audience didn't know that the man was Jack's father. The writers were definitely brave in writing a bittersweet ending that is definitely not happy or Hollywood-perfect. I also liked that they brought back Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa. He added great comedic presence. All in all, this is my second-favorite of the trilogy and I loved it.

The Black Dahlia

Good, Though Definitely Misleading
I wish I had known going into this movie that it wasn't what the trailer makes it out to be. This is definitely one of the cases where the trailer is shaped to draw in the audience by strategically placing scenes together to make the movie something it is not. I was under the impression that this movie would be all about the murder of Elizabeth Short and the events leading up to it. Elizabeth Short and her murder actually play almost minor roles. In fact, it's a good twenty minutes before they even find her body (one of the best scenes in the movie, in my opinion, but more on that later), and you hear nothing of her until that point onwards. The movie is less about the Dahlia than it is about Josh Harntett's character, Dwight "Bucky" Bleichart. There is much backstory in the beginning showing the development of the relationship between Bucky and his soon-to-be partner, Lee Blanchard, played by Aaron Eckhart. Lee is given story and some good scenes, but in the end I felt that I barely got to know his character at all. The same goes for Scarlett Johanssen's Kay Lake. She doesn't receive much development either. I think the main problem is that the film tries to juggle too many characters, plots, and genres for it to work. Granted, everything is all interconnected, but almost to the point of being unbelievable. There are major characters who get minor-character screen time. One of the movie's biggest mistakes is that there are too many times when Bucky makes an immense leap of logic between two or three seemingly isolated events that is explained sometimes right after he comes to a realization and sometimes not until much later and usually in flashback, which only serves to confuse even more. The movie is a drama, thriller, romance, noir-imitation, comedy, and crime story all at once, and in this case those genres don't mix well together. Bucky's incessant voice-over and 40s dialogue give the film a noir-esquire feel, but the scenes it's played over make it hard to take seriously. There was one thing (and not just one, but this one stands out) that I liked a lot. I was very impressed with the discovery of Elizabeth Short's body. The scene is masterful, suspenseful, and interposed with another suspenseful scene so that the actual examination of her body by the police is prolonged enough to mount sufficient tension. Blanchard and Bleichart are doing a stakeout. The camera pans high above the street and buildings from their car to a field one street over from them. A woman is walking with a stroller when she stops and notices something in the grass. The camera is just far enough away and just out of focus enough that you can sort of tell what she's looking at, but can't see it well enough. The camera then pans back over to Bucky and Lee. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, feeling unbelievable frustration that the two LAPD detectives were so close and yet we were going to have to wait a few more minutes to see the body. It was one of the best scenes in any recent movie I've seen. All in all, the movie was good, though not without its flaws. I wouldn't mind seeing it again.


Pretty Bad
I was really excited to see this movie, but I ended up being supremely disappointed. The basic (but not really, this is one of the worst and most convoluted plots I've ever seen) story is that a group of friends stumbles onto a virus-like infection in wireless gadgets that is causing the deaths of them and millions around the country. Kristen Bell as Mattie, along with Ian Somerhalder as Dexter (who form a very, very fast and almost not believable friendship) scramble to beat the virus before it kills them. The acting was pretty sub par at best. Kristen Bell's character is introduced and seems like a lively, fun-loving girl. She quickly turns into an angry, angsty, and bitter character. Granted, the events that precede this sudden change would make anyone do an about-face, but it just didn't seem like she had any of that to begin with. In the beginning there seems to be a tight-knit group of four friends, two guys and two girls. The guys are barely given any screen time, it is only Mattie and Christina Milian as Izzy who matter. The plot twists and turns and never really stops to explain anything that is going on. There are maybe two jump moments in the entire film, but that's it. The creatures coming from the electronics look like demons of some sort, but it is never explained who or what they are and what happens to their victims. The first moment that is supposed to be scary takes so long to build up that you know exactly what is coming so when the clich├ęd thing-jumping-out-loudly-out-of-nowhere happens, you aren't even scared. All in all, this is a skip.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Blew Me Away
The first time I saw this movie, I was forced to sit in the front row (don't ask). I could only take in bits and pieces of it and because of that I thought it was slow and I was disappointed. However, I went again today and was able to sit near the top and take in the whole movie at the same time. I was truly amazed. Granted, there are many plot elements that are never explained and do not make sense. There are many that come from seemingly nowhere and you wish that you knew what they were about. However, all of these moments fit together wonderfully to create a truly worthy sequel to the first Pirates. The tone to this movie is decidedly darker than the first. Bill Nighy plays Davy Jones, the heartbroken (literally) lord of the sea underworld who commands a ship full of ghost pirates that look like the stuff nightmares are made of. For anyone who was creeped out by Captain Barbossa in the first Pirates, Davy Jones makes him look like Pooh Bear. There are sequences in the movie that carry the more lighthearted tone of the first, such as the crew trying to swing to the sides of the cliff in their cages and the epic swordfight atop the water wheel. Johnny Depp is truly in his element as Jack Sparrow, making him even more wacky and hilarious than usual. Orlando Bloom steps back into Will Turner and is given much more to do. Will has done some growing up and it shows. Keira Knightley once again plays the feisty Elizabeth Swann. She is also given much more to do and does a lot with it. She is no longer the helpless damsel in distress, she manages to keep herself out of trouble and out of captivity on pirate ships. I was especially amazed at Tom Hollander, who plays the land villain Lord Cutler Beckett. I loved him as Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice and was delighted to see him and Keira working together again. As a die-hard Pirates fan (I saw the first one six times in the theater), I went into this movie with very high expectations. It didn't meet them, however. It more than exceeded them.

V for Vendetta

Ever since I started reading about this movie I really wanted to see it. Then it got slapped with the R rating. I'm fifteen and my parents kind of have a stricter policy for R rated movies, and I figured that neither of them would want to see it. So last night I went to the theater under the guise of seeing She's the Man and instead went to V for Vendetta. I was utterly blown away. It was stylish, eloquent, funny, suspenseful, well acted, and well done. Hugo Weaving creates a mysterious vigilante in the harlequin-masked V. Natalie Portman does a good job as Evey, who wakes up from her fear upon meeting V. All in all, it was a great movie that I very much enjoyed. I will definitely be going in for a second viewing. It also holds a special place with me, as it is the first R rated movie that I've snuck in to.

Walk the Line

Absolutely Amazing
I was having a few friends over the other day so I went up to my local Blockbuster to see what movies I should get. My mom suggested Walk the Line, so I grabbed it and everyone at the party was very enthusiastic and wanted to watch it. I knew it was rumored to be really good, I'd read a lot about it. I knew Reese had won the Oscar (I had been jockeying for Keira the whole time), so I was eager to see her performance. We started the movie and almost from the very opening shots of Folsom Prison I was enthralled and I never stopped being enthralled throughout the whole movie. Though it does get a bit repetitive in the middle, it's still very good. Joaquin Phoenix was excellent (though I must admit, Johnny Cash was before my time so I've never seen him perform), I thought he gave a great performance, especially with the handle he had on the music. Reese Witherspoon was amazing. Her singing shocked me more than anything, I'd seen her be bubbly and vivacious as well as serious before, so that was nothing knew. I was a little disappointed in the portrayal of Vivian. I have no idea how supportive or unsupportive she really was, but it was hard to empathize with her right from the get go. She seemed like a whiny, spoiled Daddy's Girl, though Ginnifer Goodwin did an amazing job. I had to watch the movie again because the first time I saw it I missed the crucial awards scene in which June is seated behind Johnny and Viv and Johnny insults her and then chases after her. Missing that made the scene in which June meets Johnny's parents and his girls who are with Viv all the more unplesant. All in all, this was an amazing movie. I think I want to buy it. The acting is top notch as well as everything else. I highly recommend this movie.


JoJo Surpises Me
I promised my sister I would take her to a movie for her birthday and buy her popcorn a few weeks ago, and today was the day we settled on. I was pushing for Failure to Launch or She's the Man, but my sister was determined to see Aquamarine. So fifteen dollars later we were all nestled in. The movie starts off extremely slow and was, in my opinion, painful to watch. I must admit I was much more entertained with thinking of ways that I could sneak in to The Hills Have Eyes, which was playing at the theater across from ours. But in the end I stayed for the movie, giving me plenty of time to think over my criticisms. I think Emma Roberts (timid and diminutive Claire) may be a rare star who started out acting fairly well and is getting worse. I thought her early Unfabulous days were good, but now I can barely stand to watch the show. Her over-the-top mugging drives me insane. I wasn't expecting much out of JoJo (bold and strong Hailey) at all. I knew it wasn't exactly fair writing her off for being a singer, but that's what I did. And I was extremely, pleasantly surprised. She did a great job, I thought. I wasn't expecting much from Sara Paxton (the titular mermaid Aquamarine) judging by the painful "I see we're going to have to take this slow: Mer Maid" in the trailers, but she ended up doing okay. All in all, it wasn't a great movie, but it picks up in the second half and finishes well, so it was a pretty decent way to spend almost two hours on a cold Saturday afternoon. Although next time, I think I'll pick the movie.

Pride & Prejudice

Wondrous Adaptation
I first heard that this movie was being made about a year ago, when it was first being reported that Keira Knightley had been cast. I had little interest, being only fourteen at the time. The next summer came around and I turned fifteen and still had very little interest, although it was a little more piqued since Pride and Prejudice would be one of the books that I would be reading in my British Literature English course once classes started up in August. After plodding through Jane Eyre (not really to my liking), we reached Pride and Prejudice, and almost from the moment I started the book my interest in the upcoming movie reached a boiling point. I loved the book from start to finish and couldn't wait the arrival of the movie (luckily I only had to wait about four weeks from the time I started the book to the time when the movie came out). In my class we watched the 1965 version with Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul, which I thought was very good. In the weeks leading up to the movie's release I greedily watched and re-watched every clip I could find and also rented the Colin Firth version and Bride and Prejudice. I was expecting so much from this movie. November 11 rolled around and I was ecstatic. Well, the movie didn't meet my expectations at all. It more than exceeded them. Pride and Prejudice became my favorite movie of the year and it is definitely in the top ten. I absolutely loved it. I thought Keira Knightley did an excellent job, even if she was a bit too giggly at times. I thought that Matthew Macfadyen was amazing as Mr. Darcy. I liked him better than Colin Firth. The acting was superb and the story was amazing for being condensed by so much. The costumes and cinematography were amazingly done as well. I love the soundtrack, it was so beautifully done. In short, I loved everything about this movie, and it is one that I will watch a million times over.

Date Movie

In a Word: Awful
I took my sister to see this movie on President's Day when we both had the day off. I was expecting a funny movie in Scary Movie fashion. What I got was this piece of crap that was a complete waste of an hour and a half and my 6.50. What's the problem? Oh where to begin...first of all, the plot is stupid. It's simple enough, I guess, but there's so many random things that just don't make sense (the random weird flashbacks during the Kill Bill sequence, for one). I don't know if it's just that the parody genre is being stretched so thin that there isn't anything left anymore, or if this movie was just bad writing. The acting isn't terrible, though some is cringe worthy. I think they tried so hard for going over the top that the jokes turn out disgusting, offensive, gratuitous, and just plain not funny. Nearly every sequence with "Jinxers", the Jones family cat, are horrid and disgusting. Nearly 98% of the jokes I had to tell my sister I would explain to her when she was older. And to complete it all, I was in a theater full of teenage boys, and not one of them laughed once, which goes to show how much the film falls on its face. The only time the audience gave a half-hearted chuckle was during the Mr. and Mrs. Smith sequence. So save yourself the time and money. Skip this absolute zero.

When a Stranger Calls

Personally, I was scared out of my mind
I'm probably going to get a lot of grief for this, but I was personally scared witless. Right from the get-go, from the terrifying opening I wasn't expecting to the chilling ending, the suspense kicks in and doesn't let up. Though it was fairly easy to predict who was going to die and who wasn't, it didn't make the deaths any less scarier or shocking. The story is simple enough: Jill Johnson is your every-day, average sixteen-year-old girl going through a rough time with her friend and boyfriend which caused her to go so far over her cell phone minutes that her parents grounded her for a month, taking away her cell phone and her car. She must pay them back by babysitting for Dr. Mandrakis and his wife at their enormous hill-set home. When she arrives it's obvious that it will be an easy night: the kids are already asleep and she has access to everything that the house has to offer, including a well-stocked fridge, TV and stereo, and a koi pond/aviary in the middle of the house. However, it isn't long before the phone calls start. Sometimes it's just heavy breathing, sometimes it's a little talking, but they don't last for more than a few seconds. Jill finally gets exasperated and calls the police, but calms down when she realizes that the family's maid is still in the house. However, when the caller asks, "Have you checked the children?" Jill gets annoyed and treks upstairs to find the kids safe in their bed. It's not until two seconds later that the phone rings asking, "How were the children?" that Jill really starts to freak out. The twist about the caller is revealed in the trailer, but it doesn't take from the suspense at all. A feature that the house has is motion-sensitive lights, which turn on upon entry in the room. I thought this would take away from the suspense because you'd know where someone was at all times, but it doesn't at all, and is in fact used in one extremely suspenseful scene very masterfully. All in all, I thought the movie was very well made, and I will definitely go see it again. I highly recommend it, if you can let go of the improbable premise, which maybe isn't so improbable after all...

Phantom of the Megaplex

One of My Favorite Disney Movies
I really enjoyed this movie back when it came out and am so sad that Disney insists on making new movies every month while completely forgetting their classic older ones, which are much more enjoyable than the new cheesy ones. The plot is simple enough: A big movieplex is playing home to a huge Hollywood premier. They are still showing films (a little odd) right up until the second of the premier, but someone (a mysterious phantom...) is thwarting everything and causing general mayhem. Who is this phantom? Why is he doing this? A cute film that is predictable but plays out well, the characters are good and relatable to everyone. This film seems to have really captured what it is like working in a theater, which I am now thinking twice about doing. I loved the contemporary take on Phantom of the Opera as well. I wish they would show this more on Disney, it really is a great movie for everyone of all ages. The footage from the original Phantom movie was a nice touch.

Batman Begins

Great Movie
This is, in my opinion, the best of all the Batman movies. Under Christopher Nolan, director of the dark movie Memento, the franchise enjoys a successful revival. Nolan is sure-handed with is script and direction, and it shows. The performances are top-notch, and Gotham City is very dark and in trouble. The movie begins with Bruce Wayne's(Christian Bale) childhood, from the incident that causes him to fear bats to seeing his parents killed before his eyes by a robber. It also shows his recruitment from a prison by the enigmatic Henri Ducard and subsequent training so that he may join the League of Shadows, a mysterious group bent on justice, led by the ever-scowling Ra's Al Ghul(Ken Watanabe). Bruce returns to Gotham, ready to fight injustice. Gotham is unknowingly gearing up for their first villain, the creepy, extremely frightening Scarecrow, who plans to use the citizens' fear against them. But there is a bigger villain at large, and nothing is as it seems. Bruce also runs into his childhood sweetheart, incorruptible assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes(Katie Holmes). He suits up as Batman to begin the fight to save Gotham. Overall a dark and scary film, but very good with a believable story and excellent performances.

The Phantom of the Opera

Excellent Movie (p.s., I only tell the plot, there aren't any big spoilers)
Okay, before you skip my comment because of the spoilers, there really aren't any, I just tell the plot

I saw the stage version of this show four years ago when it came to my hometown, and I fell in love with it. We bought the original cast soundtrack, and I listened to it over and over again prior to seeing this movie on Tuesday. I thought it was fairly faithful to the stage version, although my experience may have been clouded since I was only ten when I saw it. I had heard that the ending was changed, but I couldn't remember the original one anyway, so that was okay.

The plot, for those who do not know, is this: The movie is set in the late 1800s in Paris's Opera Populaire, where the Phantom (Gerard Butler) is occupying the labyrinth-like basement and causing general mayhem for all those who are in the theater. When young Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum) is orphaned after her father dies, she is brought by Madame Giry (Miranda Richardson) to live and study ballet in the theater. However, she is harboring extraordinary vocal talent that all but the Phantom and Madame Giry fail to see. So the Phantom tutors Christine, always staying out of sight, but never out of mind. Flash forward several years and the theater has new managers and a star temperamental Italian diva, La Carlotta (Minnie Driver). When the Phantom pulls a trick that causes Carlotta to snap, she storms out, leaving the show without a star. Christine steps up, sings the song, and is recast in the lead. She is perfect, and everyone loves her, including her childhood sweetheart, the dashing Raoul (Patrick Wilson) who has resurfaced as a benefactor of sorts for the Opera Populaire. They meet again and fall in love again. There's just one problem: the Phantom has fallen madly in love with Christine and flies into a jealous rage when she appears to be in love with Raoul and not him. He kidnaps her and takes her down once more to his lair (she's already been once out of her own, however weak,free will). You see, the Phantom, being as sensual and raw and charismatic as he is, has a definite power over Christine, and she can't resist him when he sings with her. Will this come into play when she is forced to make a choice in the depths of the Opera Populaire...?

I thought that this movie was excellent, and that all the actors did a wonderful job. Gerard Butler was great as the phantom, he was raw and emotional and charismatic and sensual. It was easy to see why Christine lost it around him. Sometimes his singing was a little harsher than it should have been, but he did a very competent job with it for only having had a few singing lessons and not being professionally trained. Emmy Rossum was amazing as Christine, she has a beautiful voice that was just right for the part. She gave a lot to Christine, playing out her weaknesses and eventual strength perfectly. She is a very good actress and role model, one of my favorites. After hearing Sarah Brightman and her, I prefer Emmy's voice, though Sarah Brightman is a very good singer. Patrick Wilson has a very good voice and did very well with such a limited character. The costumes were amazing and the sets were mind-blowing. I hope that this movie continues to get nominated for and receive awards. In conclusion, I loved this movie.

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