Sunday, March 19, 2006

V For Vendetta

Rating: B-

V for Vendetta raises many moral questions. It's one of those movies you might have to see at least twice in order to keep all the names straight, and just so you can really get a grip on what's going on. It's brought to you by the Wachowski Brothers that brought you the mind bending Matrix Trilogy. V for Vendetta is the story of the mysterious V (Hugo Weaving), who uses terrorist tactics to fight back at the year 2020 totalitarian British society. John Hurt is the ruler of the country, and he envokes Adolf Hitler very well. There is a very apparent social commetary throughout the film. The "mainstream media" is used to spread disinformation to the public. The rulers want control over the people, and V represents the ideal that will shake that control. He rescues a woman (Natalie Portman) and decides that she could be his greatest ally, if he can trust her.

The questions the film raises are about V's methods of bringing about change. No question, the dictator is not the way to go, but blowing up buildings and killing folks is not exactly the way to do things, but then you start to harken back the beginnings of this country, and you start to wonder, if our forefathers hadn't been "terrorists", would we be free now? It's the type of delimma that will have you tossing and turning the night after you see the movie.

Hugo Weaving does a great job behind the Guy Fawkes mask. His voice is very distictive, and his work with is daggers is stuff of legend. Portman is extremely strong in this role. Yes, they shave her head. Get over it. There's much more to her character than just razor stubble. She's small and fragile like a child in V's arms, but when she stands for her beliefs, she towers.

While not for the kiddies (a good bit of violence, the bright red blood sprays liberally during the fight sequences), V for Vendetta is a good film for most of the family to see and then discuss afterwards. Pay attention as the story unfolds. There are a few points that are breezed over, but there are important points that will be missed by the casual observer.

The first "big" movie of 2006, V for Vendetta stands up well to the spring movie scrutiny that preceeds the May movie blowout. A good start to the 2006 movie season.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Box Office Report March 3-5, 2006

1. Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion - $13,000,000
2. *16 Blocks - $11,655,000
3. Eight Below - $10,268,000
4. *Ultraviolet - $9,000,000
5. *Aquamarine - $7,500,000
6. The Pink Panther - $7,000,000
7. *Dave Chappelle's Block Party - $6,516,000
8. Date Movie - $5,125,000
9. Curious George -$4,444,000
10. Firewall - 3,605,000

* - New Movie


Rating: D

Ultraviolet is my first really bad movie of 2006, and I am very sad that it is. I had decent hopes for it, I mean Mila Jovovich is really hot, but it was just so bad.

Some time in the future, the government discovered some virus and tried (of course) to use it to make people faster, stronger, etc. It backfires (of course) and creates a subrace of folks called hemophages. Presumeably, these people are like vampires, but they never are seen drinking blood, but they are referred to as vampires and well, they've got the teeth. Anyway, the government, paranoid about germs, wants to kill all the hemophages. Jovovich plays Violet, a hemophage that is transporting a case that contains a weapon that will "kill us all!" Turns out the weapon is a kid (creepier Cameron Bright - see Running Scared) named Six, who Violet develops a soft spot for and vows to protect even though his could "kill us all!"

The fighting and gunplay goes from there in typical action, manga fashion. Most of the fight sequences are laughable and filled with so much CGI it makes your head spin. There is a feel of the Matrix in this movie, but it never even gets close. Jovovich is wooden in the role. The dialouge is some of the worst I have ever seen. During the final fight, Violent smacks the baddie, and he pauses and says, "It is so on". Ugh.

You never get into the movie. You don't care about any of the characters and if they live or die. Actually you want all of them to die so you can go do something else. Most of the folks in the theater were bored right along with me.

At least Ultraviolet excells at one thing. It makes time travel possible by making an hour and a half seems like 3 weeks.

Running Scared

Rating: B-

Here's usually the way this goes: Mike sees a trailer for a Paul Walker movie, Mike gets interested, Mike sees new Paul Walker movie, Mike terribly disappointed in movie and himself for falling for it yet again (see Too Fast Too Furious, Into the Blue, Joy Ride).

This time is different. Running Scared, the second big movie for The Cooler director Wayne Kramer, is actually not as bad as Walker's other attempts at film.

Running Scared follows Joey (Walker), a mob flunky who's main job it seems is to clean up evidence for his fellow mob buddies. As we find out, Joey actually just stashes all of it in his basement presumably for insurance down the road if anything was to go bad. Things are going relatively well in Joey's life with his wife, son, disabled father, and his meth cooking, wife and son abusing, John Wayne worshiping, Russian next door. It's the Russian son Oleg (creepy Cameron Bright) who snatches a particular chrome snub nosed pistol to blast his father. From there, the running begins. Oleg takes off with the gun, and Joey's gotta get it back or else he's gonna get it.

It's a good premise and could have lead to some great tension, but the movie never quite embraces a true suspense and a honest feeling of well, running scared. You want him to get the gun back, but there is never the sense of the baddies right on his trail and any moment he's about to get caught and has to worm out of situations leaving you wondering if he's gonna make it. Joey runs all over the place dealing with pimps, blow torch wielding mechanics, whacked out crack heads, and pedophiles.

Running Scared revels in it's violence, and there is plenty of it. Blood flows freely from just about everyone. Heads get blown off, ears bitten off, and the torture scene on a hockey rink is particulary flinch inducing. Walker does a decent job playing up his bad side in his frantic search for the missing gun.

Overall, it's not a great movie, but by Paul Walker standards, it's right up there near the top.