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Archive for the ‘2004’ Category

around the worldSo this is the movie that was the beginning of the end of Jackie Chan’s movie career in the US. I always wondered where it started.  Actually back in 2004 I originally wanted to see this film in the movie theater because it had the great one, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in it, while he was the Govenator of California.  It was a cameo appearance but still I had miss seeing Arnold by that point.  However I had missed it and then forgot about it.  After seeing it now for a movie review challenge from Benn Farrell I am glad I missed it back then.  This movie is not very good.  It reminds of the Disney movie’s in the mid to late 70’s like Escape to Witch Mountain, and the Cat from Outer Space.  They were fun when I was 6 but not as an adult.  This movie is a remake of the 1956 “classic” of the same name starring David Niven.

Lau Xing, played by Jackie Chan (Rumble in the Bronx,) is on the run from the London Police as he has stolen an artifact from the Bank of England that was in fact stolen from his village in China.  While he is hiding from the Police he sees inventor Phileas Fogg, played by Steve Coogan (Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian,) who is lamenting the loss of his valet.    In order to hide from the Police Lau takes on the job telling Fogg his name is Passepartout.  Fogg then goes to the Royal Academy of Science to meet Lord Kelvin, played by Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,) who has nothing but disdain for Fogg which Lau notices.  Lau takes advantage of their contempt for each other by starting a rumor that eventually turns into a bet between Fogg and Kelvin that Fogg can travel around the world in 80 days (forgot to mention that this movie takes place in late 1880’s,) and if he does so successfully Kelvin must resign as the leader of the Royal Academy of Science and give it to Fogg, and if Fogg fails, he must tear down his invention shop and vow to never invent anything again.  Fogg doesn’t know that Lau plans to use this bet to travel to China and return the artifact to his village.  What Fogg and Lau don’t know is that Lord Kelvin hired a Chinese war lord  who stole the artifact in the first place and now will be sent to kill both of them during the trip.

So there is a lot going on and yet the movie is every bit of the two hour running time it is and slower than it seems.  The reason why it reminds me of the Disney movies of the late 70’s is the ludicrousness of the story as a whole and the complete lack of any desire to want to make it real. A man peddling hard enough to keep a flying machine in the air is as believable as a cat from outer space talking but I would guess a six year old wouldn’t care.  Also the attention to detail was lacking.  The movie starts in London with a British inventor and he is measuring speed in miles per hour.  A British scientist would NEVER measure speed in miles per hour because the United States is the only country using that measurement for speed.  All the other countries use kilometers per hour.  Little things like this are spread throughout the movie.

While I like most of the actors in the movie it would seem the director gave all of the actors the direction that the phrase over acting shall not be worried about in this movie.  I know it’s a comedy but they all seem to be playing a parody of a parody.  I am used to it with Jackie Chan and humor only added to his martial arts films in the late 90’s but here it seems out of place, as is the rest of the over acting in this movie.

It was also odd for the story in that in the original the lead character was Phileas Fogg while this movie the character lead is split between Fogg and Lau. I found it to be another reason that the movie was slow because since Lau was just as important as Fogg the story had to not only detour to China but stop in the village and have one climatic fight scene between the good guys and the bad guys.  Which it is always fun to watch a Jackie Chan fight scene because the choreography is a wonderful mixture of action and humor, but it slows the movie down.  This can be said about all of the fight scenes in this movie, fun and funny but unnecessary.  As for Fogg’s character not only do we have the wager to think of but Fogg is given a love interest named Monique La Roche, played by Cecile De France (High Tension.)  But there is no real tension in the love story as at no time did I feel that they would not end up together.

I mention the martial arts in the film and it was very tame as it’s PG rating would imply. And that is a PG rating not a PG-13 so the action is so tame a 12 year could see it.  Another thing is that by 2004 we have seen all of Jackie’s moves by now but it is still fun to see.  The big fight scene in the village, which I have said above, is pointless, is classic Jackie Chan fighting so I enjoyed it.

As for the reason why Mr. Farrell had me watch this film, the cameo appearance of the Great One, I can say that I am glad that it is a brief one for Arnold. He plays Prince Hapi who tries to force La Roche to stay in Turkey as one of his seven wives.  Being in this film is by far the worst mistake he has made since his appearance in Batman & Robin.  It’s hard to believe the man with a thick Austrian accent can be a Turkish Prince.  And the wig that Arnold had to wear is God awful.  This movie was a very bad choice for the brilliant man from Austria.

To be honest I don’t know how any children over the age of seven can like this film.  It will forever be, to me, associated with the bad Disney movies of the 1970’s.  But at least I know now what happened to Jackie Chan.  After this he made Rush Hour 3 and the remake of The Karate Kid.  Yuck.

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spartan***This is an review from the old website being transferred over to blog***

Back from the realm of the ‘B’ movies, Val Kilmer stars in this mystery, action thriller written and directed by David Mamet. This movie is very exciting until the last 30 minutes when it spoon feeds you the plot twists instead of letting Kilmer’s character discover them on his own. This movie went from a must see to pretty good because of that problem.

The movie is a story about the apparent abduction of the teenage daughter of the President of the United States, played by Ed O’Neil (that’s right Al Bundy is moving up in the world).  The Secret Service, FBI and everyone else are on the hunt for the missing girl, including a military spy/soldier/secret agent Scott, played by Val Kilmer (Batman Forever,) he and his partner Curtis, played by Derek Luke-Antoine Fisher, follow the pieces to and discover that she was abducted by a overseas prostitution ring.  The story is follows Scott and Curtis finding the clues to find the girl.  Then the movie has its first twist when the daughter is found dead in the ocean even though all the evidence points to her getting shipped off the Arab country of The United Arab Emirates. Then Curtis is killed when he tries to convince Scott that something is not right.  Here we are at the epicenter of tension and drama, and does Mamet take advantage of it?  NO!  Here enters some lame secret service woman that spoon feeds Scott all of the details of what’s going on, and the movie goes from borderline brilliant to ho-hum.  Then Scott finds the daughter, who is played by Kristen Bell who has done nothing but TV shows, and after listening to her for five minutes you wish Val would give her back.  Then William H. Macy (Jurassic Park III) shows up playing a guy named Stoddard who works for the president as a tough guy, which doesn’t work.  Like I said this movie went from great to boring quickly.

The acting in the movie goes from excellent, Val Kilmer, to horrible, Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall,) and everything in between.  This is clearly Val’s show and he takes it and goes strong.  All of the other characters are really not in it long enough to make a impression except for Bell’s annoying, bratty, whore, role of the daughter.  I would like to blame Mamet but I don’t think I can.  Speaking of Mamet, its amazing how writing can go from Brilliance to crap in a matter of 1 ½ hours, but this is the case.  Maybe the production was running out of money and he had to change it, I don’t know but something happened.

Despite all of this, I really like this movie.  I like it so much that it makes me angry what happened in the last 30 minutes.  Watch the movie, its good, it just could have been a WHOLE lot better.

Brian-The Naked Gun

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I love comedies, but I hate when movies make the audience member feel embarrassed as a means of laughter. I know the tag line of the movie was along the lines of “you think your parents are embarrassing,” but it still makes me feel uncomfortable.  If you also add the contrived ending to the movie with the stereo typical hippie parents portrayed by Dustin Hoffman and Babs Streisand, it just was uncomfortable and at times painful.  However, if you love Meet the Parents, which I did not, or if you like embarrassment as a form of amusement, then you will like Meet the Fockers.

The movie basically picks up where we left off after Meet the Parents, Gaylord Focker, played by Ben Stiller (Dodgeball, Starsky & Hutch,) and his fiancé Pam, played by Teri Polo (Meet the Parents, Domestic Disturbance) are taking her parents to meet Gaylord’s parents Bernie and Roz Focker, played by Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees, Finding Neverland,) and in her first role in 8 years Barbara Streisand (The Mirror has two Faces, The Prince of Tides.)  So we have the uptight military family in the Byrnes, (Pam’s Family) Jack and Dina played by Robert De Niro (Godsend, Analyze That) and Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents, Forces of Nature) and the hippie parents of Gaylord with the kids stuck in the middle, wow how original.

I enjoyed Ben Stiller the most in this movie even though it wasn’t a stretch.  Everybody else was almost typecast for the part, especially Barbara who is a hippie sex therapist in the movie.  Jay Roach who directed this movie, who also directed Austin Powers, basically phoned this one in.  The script was boring and unoriginal but did have a few sight gags that Stiller delivered on that provided a few laughs.

Overall, this movie wasn’t that good and there are better things out there, it’s a simple as that.

 

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manonfireIn world of revenge films, there are many good ones and many more horrible ones.  Man On Fire is a very good film starring Denzel Washington and the very young Dakota Fanning.  While Denzel’s character is a rehashed tragic hero character in the beginning his character is allowed to do unspeakable evil to other people to in act his revenge and that is something you do not see in movies that aren’t horror flicks.

Washington plays Creasy, which is his last name, a retired Special Forces man whose job was counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism (a hot new job that or tragic heroes have in Hollywood these days.)  Creasy is hired by Samuel and Lisa (Marc Anthony (J-Lo’s most current husband) and Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black, Phone Booth)) to protect their daughter Pita (Dakota Fanning.)  They live in Mexico City and Samuel is rich and people would do anything to get his money.

At first Creasy is cold to Pita and wants to treat her as a package to protect.  At this point in the film he is still drinking heavily and his not able to cope with the fact he has killed many people.  But Pita being as cute as she is, warms his heart and eventually he becomes a protector and her “Creasy Bear.”  To quote Christopher Walken, who plays Creasy’s military buddy, Rayburn, said of Creasy, “She gave him a reason to live again.”

Well Pita gets kidnapped and Creasy almost gets shot to death during the kidnapping.  While Creasy is recovering, Samuel uses his lawyer, Jordan, played by Mickey Rourke, to try and negotiate for her release which involves money.  At the money transfer, the plan backfires and the kidnapper’s nephew is killed.  In turn it appears Pita is also killed in retaliation.

When Creasy wakes up and discovers what has happened he promises Lisa that he will kill all those responsible for the kidnapping.  Again to quote Walken’s character, “Death is his art, and he is about to create his masterpiece.”

This movie I found to be very good.  Denzel Washington continues to show how much he deserves his Oscar by creating yet another great character out of an over used Hollywood stereotype.  Dakota Fanning also stole the show as the adorable Pita, who is much smarter than her age.  I also enjoyed Mickey Rourke and Christopher Walken.  Marc Anthony and Radha Mitchell do an adequate job but they could have been better.

The one aspect I do find enjoyable in the sense that Hollywood almost never does this is the complete and realistic violence that Creasy creates when trying to get to the bottom of the kidnapping.  Quite often in these revenge movies, the violence is not realistic, see the movie Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger, or the violence isn’t that violent.  This movie goes out of its way to show the inhumanity of Creasy’s job when he was in the military.  I found that to be interesting and the animal in me enjoyed what he was doing to characters that deserved it.

This movie is very good and I wish I had seen it in the movie theaters.  I hope you enjoy it too.

 

Brian – The Naked Gun

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This is another interesting offering from the people who brought you “The Royal Tenenbaums.” “The Life Aquatic” is about a Jacques Cousteau type oceanographer trying to recapture the glory days which made him so famous. The movie is funny and touching. However, if you do not like Wes Anderson movies, you should probably steer clear of this one.

Steve Zissou, played by Bill Murray (Lost in Translation), makes documentaries on his exploration in the deep sea. However, his most recent projects have been flops, and his money as well as producers are starting to run low. His most recent documentary is split into two parts, because he thinks his partner is eaten by the dreaded Jaguar Shark.

While at the premier party, his son–maybe, Ned Plimpton, played by Owen Wilson (Starsky & Hutch), visits him and joins the Life Aquaticteam. Zissou, with his son, now must fight pirates, his wife Eleanor, played by Anjelica Houston (Royal Tenenbaums), and a newspaper reporter whom he has a crush on but at the same time doesn’t trust named Jane Winslett, played by Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings trilogy).

In its most simple form, this movie can best be described as a British comedy, very dry humor. However, it does go into greater detail about the lack of a farther-son relationship between Steve and Ned. Ned, of course, falls in love with Jane, creating tension between father and son. The larger story shows the total lack of confidence Steve Zissou has with life outside the ocean, and now between the loss of his friend and his failures, he begins to show his lack of confidence with the ocean.

Director Wes Anderson (Rushmore, Bottle Rockets) must have some issues with his father or conversely none at all, because both this movie and “The Royal Tenenbaums” stories are based on questionable father figures. I found this movie to be quite entertaining, and maybe just a bit too long. There was a part about ocean pirates which didn’t make sense, providing conflict between Steve and his crew. Maybe the sequence could have been done another way, but I didn’t find it too distracting. I also dont know why all of the animals in the movie are fake except for the Killer Whale; doesn’t make sense.

I hope Bill Murray gets another nod for an Academy Award® nomination. I felt he did an outstanding job playing a difficult character. Owen Wilson is also good in this type of movie, since this style of humor is made for him. I will ask Wes Anderson not cast Anjelica Houston for a while. She looks too much like her father, and sometimes I can’t get past that. However, she is a fine actress.

I will sum up by saying, again, this movie is not going to be for everyone just because of the style Anderson has in filming and writing. My own personal fear is I am beginning to tire of this style myself, and because of it, I may not like his next offering. I may be jumping ahead of myself. If you haven’t seen a Wes Anderson movie, go ahead and watch this one. You just might enjoy it.

Brian

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This is an incredibly gloomy movie, and I for one am not sure it’s a children’s movie, even though I went during the day and the majority of the audience was children. From the previews, I thought “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” would be a dark comedy. Well, I was half right. It was dark, but I did not laugh a lot.

The movie is based on famous children’s books written by Daniel Handler. I have never read the books, so I don’t know how close the movie follows them. However, after watching the movie, it would appear the books do not transfer well onto film.

The premise of the story is, three children, whose parents are killed in a mysterious fire, are turned over to their cousin, an actor, named Count Olaf, played by Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty). Olaf does not hide the fact he is trying to get rid of the children in order to inherit the enormous wealth left by their parents.

After trying to get them killed in a car/train “accident,” the kids get transferred to another relative, an Uncle Monty, played by Billy Connolly (The Last Samurai). However, he is killed by Count Olaf disguised as a scientist. The kids are then turned over to their Aunt, Josephine, played by Meryl Streep (The Manchurian Candidate). Yes, you guessed right. She too is also killed by Count Olaf.

The climatic scene of the movie is when Olaf discovers, if he marries the oldest of the three children, being 14-year old Violet, played by Emily Browning (Ned Kelly), he will inherit the parents’ wealth. So, he produces a play in which he will marry Violet, while all those watching think the wedding is not real. See what I mean? Dark, but not very funny.

I would like to give kudos to director Brad Siberling, who has also directed “City of Angeles.” He did a nice job of mixing in the narrator of the story, being Lemony Snicket, voiced by Jude Law (Alfie–and every movie that came out this year), in such a way to help explain the story.

The acting was nice, but since all adult characters were written over the top, especially Count Olaf, I did not find any of them enjoyable. I feel Carrey did the best he could with the role of Count Olaf, but it appears to be such a difficult role, I don’t know if anybody could have pulled it off. I would liked to have seen Robin Williams in the part. The two child actors, Emily Browning and Liam Aiken (Road to Perdition), who played the middle child Klaus, were quite enjoyable.

From what I have been told by a friend, the movie stays pretty close to the books. So, if you like the books, by all means go see the movie. If you haven’t, I think there are better movies out there.

Brian – the Naked Gun

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kingaThe legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table is amazing because of its story, the lady of the lake, the Guinevere and Lancelot affair and etc. However, all good legends have a history to it, which is usually quite boring compared to the legend. I don’t know if the history of the Arthur legend, which the movie “King Arthur” presents, is accurate, but it is one of the better movies made about King Arthur.

“King Arthur” revolves around six men forced into the Roman Army for 15 years and fighting the native British people, called Woad’s, in the Roman part of the British Isles. Five men come from continental Europe, somewhere in modern day southern Russia, a province called Samaria. The leader comes from Rome name Arturious–forgive the misspelling, or Arthur.

He and his Sumatran Knights have never lost a battle, although they have lost men. Before they are allowed to leave, the Knights are asked by a Roman Bishop to go north of the Hadrian Wall, find the Godson of the Pope and bring him and his family back on the other side of the wall to join the rest of the Romans leaving Britain. This is because the Romans did not want to fight the Saxon Army arriving from the north. So, Arthur, played by Clive Owen (Closer), leads Lancelot, played by Ioan Gruffudd (Black Hawk Down), and the others on a mission of mercy through Woads and Saxons.

Director Antoine Fuqua (Tears of the Sun, Training Day) does a nice job of balancing the action, suspense and drama. David Franzoni wrote the story, and he has previously done “Amistad” and “Gladiator.” His touch definitely showed, because the fight scenes are as excellent as the ones in “Gladiator,” just not as bloody to nab its PG-13 rating.

All of the actors I noticed were from Europe, including Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean) who played Guinevere and Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting) who plays Cerdic, the leader of the Saxons. All of them did a good, not spectacular, job. One character from the Arthur legend, Merlin, had such a small role in this movie, it isn’t really worth mentioning. Considering previous movies and the legend of Merlin, it is somewhat surprising.

Overall, this movie was a pleasant surprise, but I fear, since “King Arthur” is not the same kind of movie the other legendaryfilms are like, this probably wont last long in the movie theater, and that is too bad. This movie is a definite must see, especially at the cinemas.

 

Brian – the Naked Gun

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