Saturday, July 30, 2005


Rating: D+

Most of the time, when you leave an action movie where folks drive, fly, swim or whatever fast, you tend to drive a little faster on the way home acting out parts of the movie. After leaving Stealth, I was tired and had a headache and was disappointed. I didn't have that high of expectations entering into this movie, especially after seeing the ads 5,000,000 times.

The big story about this flick was Jamie Foxx, in his first post-Ray appearance. What you might not know is Stealth was filmed before Ray and Jamie doesn't figure too much in the outcome. This is a Josh Lucas/Jessica Biel vehicle all the way. I thought it was going to be the typical, there's the best of the best whatever enter in the new technology that will replace them it goes nuts and the best of the best whatever have to stop it and prove that nothing beats good old American people. I kinda wish it had been. There are a few twists and turns and the story gets bogged down to the point where you really don't care what happens.

I used to think that the new advent of computer generated special effects was a good thing, and it still can be, but at the expense of story and characters? The flying effects here are nice, but they can make those of you prone to sea-sickness a little ill, and it contributed to my headache.

You never really get the feel that the three pilots have bonded as close as should be. It almost seems that the addition of the HAL voiced autopilot Eddie (spelled EDI) is a relief for the tension. Josh Lucas seems uncomfortable in the leading role as the one who 'has a bad feeling' about the new wingman. Jessica Biel is totally over her head as the best woman pilot/face of the Navy. The supposed romance between the two is forced and mostly unwatchable. Foxx just seems bored. EDI is almost immediately dubbed "Tinman" by Lucas, but none of the main stars have thier own callsigns for us to get to know them as. That was one of the fun aspects of Top Gun, a good movie that this one tried really hard to be, but falls flat.

Sam Sheppard plays the commanding officer who is in with a mysterious Washington beaurocrat to make sure the EDI program works no matter what. Joe Morton who is no stranger to out of control technology(see T2) is just kinda there to move the story along.

Overall, for all the hype, this movie was not enjoyable at all. The explosions are pretty and plentiful, but the stars are forgettable, well except for the puberty-enducing bikini scene where Biel really shines. Also, what is with the green apples? They seem to be in every single room on the ship or land piled very nicely in a bowl. It's very sad when a bowl of fruit is the most memorable thing of this movie. Go do something else.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Island

Rating: B-

I'm the type of guy that likes a Michael Bay flick. There are always a few things to count on from Michael Bay, who has brought us such classics as The Rock, Armageddon, Bad Boys I and II, and the upcoming Transformers live-action movie in 2007. You can always find incredible chases featuring cars flying in various directions, slow-mo shoot outs, great special effects, not very deep characters, and a slight story that is there to move things along until the next explosion. He also loves to use a totally hot car in the chase. The Rock - Lamborghini, Bad Boys - Bay's own Porsche, Bad Boys II - Bay's own Ferrari, Transformers - Optimus Prime I guess. We'll get to the cars in this movie in a minute.

The Island does have good intentions with the story starting out. Set in the near future, The Island focuses on the wealthy who want to cheat death by buying insurance policies. Sounds boring right? Well, the policies are actually "products" - cloned folks that are harvested for spare parts. The clones are kept under control in a facility with the story that they are the sole survivors of some sort of horrible disease outbreak. When they are needed for their sponsor, they win a "lottery" and are picked to go to the island, which is advertised as a utopia where the disease hasn't been.

The likeable Ewan McGregor stars as Lincoln 6 Echo, a clone that has always questioned his place in the world. Lincoln starts getting uppity and escapes with Jordan 2 Delta, a full-lipped Scarlett Johansson to discover the truth of his existance. Standing in his way is the lead doctor of the facility, Sean Bean, who always plays a great bad guy, and a miscast Djimon Hounsou, a mercenary bounty hunter type person hired by Bean to get the clones back. The pair are helped out by Bay veteran Steve Buscemi, a tech support/janitor of the facility. Buscemi's Armageddon cohort, a slimmer Michael Clark Duncan, makes a heart wrenching, if not brief, appearance.

There are various slow points and some plot hole such as how McGregor can sneak around so succesfully after we're shown how closely monitored the clones are, but these things are shrugged off after seeing some of the Michael Bay eye candy. There are some humorous parts with McGregor and Johansson adapting to the outside world, and there is a Matrix Reloaded-esqe car chase with Dodge Magnums (yeah!) and Hummers flying all over the place, flying motorcyles, collapsing buildings and lot's of gunfire. Since Detroit is standing in for Los Angeles, there an abundance of Chryler 300's, Corvettes, Dodge Magnums, Chrylser Crossfires, and one very hot Cadillac Cien concept, a 750 hp supercar. Very nice.

Overall, some bubblegum summer fare that starts with good intentions of live your own life, don't let someone else make your descisions and something about freedom, but melts in the heat into a explosion filled, gunfire rattled, classic action dialoge filled (Go!, Run!, Hang on!) action "product". Not for everyone, but it might be for just enough of the guys out there to make a decent bit of money. My recommendation, wait for DVD, which at the rate they are coming out now, might be in September. It's not horrible, but there are better things to see out there.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Wedding Crashers

Rating: B

I didn't have a lot of expectations for this movie. I knew it was going to be funny with some potty humor, and perhaps there would be some a love story somewhere in there. The one thing it had going for it was the new "Brat Pack" cast members Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, who by the way, can hold his own against actors his own level as well as Hollywood's A-listers like Brad Pitt.

This is the story of two life-long buddies who have a second job crashing various weddings in order to get laid. Plain and simple. We're treated to their crashing techniques such as dancing with the flower girls, making balloon animals, schmoozing with the old folks, faking tears, and cramming food.

All the antics lead to the mother of all weddings. The Secretary of the Treasury's (Christopher Walken) daughter is getting married, and the opportunity is too good to pass up for our heros. Owen falls for the younger sister of the bride (a really really hot Rachel McAdams) and Vaughn meets an even younger sister with a hidden wild streak. It seems the roles in this movie are for Owen to have the romantic, sweet story, while Vaughn is subjected to the sometimes painful, sometimes pleasurable humor. It will keep the guys laughing and the women 'awwing'. The chemistry between the two is fantastic.

The movie runs out of gas about 2/3 of the way through, but picks back up near the end. They could have done without maybe 20 minutes of it, but overall it doesn't really affect the outcome. There are many cameos from Dwight Yoakam, Rebecca DeMornay, the old rapping lady from The Wedding Singer, Jane Seymour as Walken's newly "remodeled" wife, and other Brat Packers.

Not a bad movie. It was definately better than I had expected and I left feeling pretty good about love and life in general. Worth it if you need a good laugh.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Fantastic Four

Rating: B

It's funny to me to see the comic books that we used to read as kids that lead us to be scorned as "geeks" or "dorks" becoming such a money maker for Hollywood. I wonder which comics are going to be made into movies next.

This time around it is the Fantastic Four, the story of four scientists that are exposed to solar radiation with super results. Reed Richards, the "leader" of the group is turned into Mr. Fantastic, who can stretch his body to all kinds of lengths. Susan Storm, Reed's object of affection, becomes the Invisible Woman. Her brother, Johnny Storm, is flaming as the Human Torch, and Ben Grimm gets his rock on as the Thing.

The movie wastes no time getting into space as our four heros along with their benefactor, Victor Von Doom, who has a thing for Susan and much ire for Reed. The purpose of the mission is to study solar radiations in the hopes of curing disease, ending hunger, etc, etc etc. Of course things go horribly wrong and everyone is exposed to the radiation, and the side effects gradually come out. It seems the current trend of superhero movies is to have whatever the powers come out and then the hero(s) have a hard time dealing with it, giving the movie a darker, more realistic tone. Spiderman leads the way with that one followed by Batman Begins. The Fantastic Four tries hard to accomplish this, but doesn't always get it done. While each person has a hard time dealing with their new-found powers, the tone is kept light. It's very fun to see the fighting among the four heros as Johnny Storm has embraced his power and wants fame and fortune, Susan and Reed want a cure, and Ben just wants to be left alone. His story is the most compelling. The only one of the four that is visually different leads to many more challenges in his life, so he ends us having the most to lose. Also, the relationship between the Thing and the Torch is the highlight of the film.

Victor did not escape the effects of the storm and transforms into Dr. Doom, the Four's arch enemy. And of course he wants to take over the world, allthough he really doesn't have a plan other than getting rid of the Fantastic Four, whom he blames for everything (of course). The main battle needed about 10-15 more minutes to really make it worthwhile, and of course, there's room for many sequels.

Everyone does a pretty good job in thie movie. Fans of FX will recognize Michael Chiklis(The Shield) and Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck), and any American male will notice Jessica Alba, who is really really tan this time around. The heart and soul of the movie really is Chiklis' Thing, and it is great to see him make the transition to the big screen.

Overall, not a bad flick. It's worth checking out. Not one to see again like Batman, brush off your $6.50 and head to the theater. It's not Fantastic, but it is good enough for me.