Thursday, June 30, 2005

War of the Worlds

Rating: D

Oh man, this movie was awful. Sure the special effects are great, but too much eye candy can make you sick.

Tom Cruise stars as a dead-beat dad who has his kids for the weekend from his exwife and her rich new husband. There are minor estranged dad fireworks between Cruise and his kids, and then the real fireworks start when the aliens show up and start blasting the crap out of everything. I was under the impression that this movie was about the aliens attacking, people running away, and then fighting back. This movie seems to be more interested in following Cruise and his kids as they run about the countryside, hiding in basements all over, and then it's over. It seems rather quick, but the pace of this film is extremely slow. I just wanted it to be over so I could find out what the heck is going on with the invaders. Information is given out in sparse bundles to the audience as the movie chugs along. It also seems that Spielberg's vision of humanity is that in the face of adversity, everybody will turn on each other and care only about themselves. I share a more optimistic viewpoint.

Cruise is ok in this role. He seems very angry about something and apparently doesn't like his kids all that much. Maybe it is Dakota Fanning's incessent questions. That caused me not to like her that much.

Seems to me that War of the Worlds is more like Independence Day but without all the excitement and most of the explosions and enjoyable characters. It stays pretty close to Orsen Wells' vision, but might not be up for today's movie-goer. Stay at home and hide in your basement from this one.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Cinderella Man

Rating: C

I was extremely excited about this movie. I mean, how could I not be? It's Ron Howard and Russell Crowe? Both are very good at what they do. They just miss the mark with this based on a true story. I think that the fact that this is a true story actually hurts this movie. If it was a fictional story, I think that I would have enjoyed it more. I'll get into that in a minute.

Cinderella Man is the story of James J Braddock, a Depresson-era boxer that had an incredible and unlikely comback series of fights in and around New York City in 1935. The story unfolds with Braddock at the top of his game in 1928. Following the stock market crash of 1929, Braddock's career hits the skids and he and his family are struggling to even stay warm. This is were the movie's best moments happen. Howard really captures the desperation felt by Braddock and his wife (Renee Zellweger Chesney - at her pouty best) and their 3 kids. Some of the film's most heartfelt moments are here when you see what Braddock does to try to provide for his family. If the film had stopped here, it would have been fine, but of course it wouldn't be a complete look at Braddock if we didn't see his comeback fights and his rise to being an unlikely champion.

You don't really get a sense of excitement during the fights like you did during say, Million Dollar Baby. The fights are shot very well, but there really is no umph to them. It's all most Rocky-esque with all the heavy blows landing on each fighter.

Russell Crowe does a fine job as usual, but the person who really steals this flick is Paul Giamatti. He has really come into his own as Braddock's pudgey manager Joe Gould. His emotion is right up there, and it really is a pleasure to watch. I am looking forward to seeing him in more work as the years go by.

To be honest with you, I liked the trailer for this more than the actual film. They did cut out one of the best parts of the trailer, which is always disappointing. I would probably wait for this to come out on DVD and then watch it when it comes out on cable. This movie will undoubtedly get Oscar consideration, but for me, the statue and your money should reside somewhere else.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Rating: A-

You think your marriage is tough. Mr. & Mrs. Smith is the story of two hitmen, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who are married but are unaware that each are having an affair with murder for hire on the side. The film is rather stiff during the beginning to set the mood of how bad the marriage has gotten between the two stars. Once all secrets are out in the open, the movie really shines. The chemistry between Pitt and Jolie is fantastic as they do what most married couples would like to do at one point or another, beat the crap out of each other.

What follows is a battle of wills and weapons between the two impossibly hot stars much in the same vein as War Of The Roses. There are many funny parts that will leave you just smiling and enjoying the ride. You will find yourself several times just grinning waiting to see how the Smiths deal with the next challenge, and you will be rarely disappointed. The ending is a little trite and expected, but overall easy to swallow.

It's a shame that all the tabloid hype surrounding Pitt and Jolie has somewhat overshadowed this dandy of a film. Just put your National Enquirer or People Magazine down and enjoy this movie.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Batman Begins

Rating: A-

Finally I get to see a movie on opening day. Went to a early afternoon show, and there was a sizeable crowd on hand. After suffering through the Dukes of Hazzard preview, it began.

I have to say I am a little biased because Batman is my favorite comic character over Superman, Spiderman, X-Men, or anyone else. I've always enjoyed his darker, more brooding side, and this movie has it in spades. For sticking true to the comic premise, this is my favorite of all the Batman movies. The franchise got way off track with the last couple of movies. Lots of Bat-bling on the Batmobile and too cheesy Bruce Waynes for my taste.

Batman Begins is obviously an origin story of the dark knight. Scenes of first terrifying experiences with bats and the deaths of Wayne's parents are told in flashback while Bruce trains high in the mountians far away from Gotham and all it's problems. Wayne eventually returns to Gotham to deal out some justice to the corrupt city and it's bad cops, judges, and crime bosses. His goal is to strike fear into the hearts of the criminals. He settles on the image of the bat because according to Wayne, he fears bats and wants to turn that fear outward. Aided by a younger and tougher Alfred (played wonderfully by Michael Caine), an unwitting police sargent named Gordon(underrated Gary Oldman), and Batman's version of Q, Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman), Bruce Wayne gets busy on the criminals of Gotham. The movie really picks up at this point, with Batman learning his new equipment, very much along the lines of Spiderman. Batman fights the big crime boss only to uncover a larger evil, dealing mostly with the Scarecrow and Ra's Al Ghul.

There is just enough humor included from time to time to make this movie flow nicely. I personally like the new Batmobile which is a black tank/hummer/jet/stealth fighter. It's not for everyone though. Christain Bale is what Batman should be. Suave as Bruce Wayne, pissed off as Batman. Bravo, and I can't wait to see him in the sequel, which he has signed on for.

Overall, very enjoyable and highly recommended. Batman Begins certianly will revive a franchise that was off of life support and waiting to die. Check it out and you won't be disappointed.