Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

I was profoundly disappointed by this. The story itself is a rather nice story that's grown on me over the years, but this version felt sort of like... Pride and Prejudice For Dummies, although that sounds horribly offensive to anyone who liked it. Heh. I felt everyone was very two-dimensional. This wouldn't have bothered me for characters like Lydia or even Jane, who really aren't supposed to have a whole lot to them. But Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are fairly complex characters, and here they were transformed into bland replicas of every feisty girl and strong-and-silent guy in romance movies. Bleh. That rather destroyed it for me.

I'm also disturbed by movies that were supposed to be set in olden times but have pop culture references (see my hatred for Ella Enchanted and Around the World in 80 Days). This didn't do that, but it detracted from the actual story by simply setting modern characters with modern thinking in Victorian dresses. Example: Charlotte's line "Don't you judge me, Lizzie, don't you dare judge me!" That can't have appeared anywhere near the original novel. And for me it zapped me right out of the story into real life where I was thinking, "Gee, that felt out of place." 1.5 stars.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lady in the Water (2006)

I was so, so ready to love this movie, especially given that I loved both Signs and The Village when no one did. I was disappointed with it, but not as disappointed as I would have been had I not known that everyone else hated it. :-)

It's a nice concept, executed nicely. Its main problem on my end was the characters. They were all incredibly flat. The Paul Giamatti character (and the lady in the water herself) became the only one who I could understand. Everyone else seemed like they were randomly selected and thrown in there, even amusing characters like the movie critic. [Slight Spoiler Warning Ahead] So when person after person was selected, and then re-selected to help this girl get back to her world, I kept thinking, "Uh, yeah, so what?" [/Spoiler] I'm thinking it would have made me like it significantly more had it been created as a mini-series (although I seriously doubt the plot could be stretched that far). That way when all the characters came together at the end, it would be an "Oh, now that's cool" moment instead of "Wait, who's that person again? I don't get it." Stretching it out also would have offered opportunities to explore motivations - like why everyone just goes along with the plan. Here it seems random and unbelievable, while there could have been some good exploration of that.

I certainly didn't think this was the dismal failure the critics seemed to think it was. It still has some lovely moments that work, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it was far too jumbled to warrant a high rating. 3.5 stars.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Scanner Darkly (2006)

Plot: An undercover cop in a not-too-distant future becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity as a result.

Wow. This was an interesting movie, although I was really unsure what was actually happening. Heh. Actual plot details baffled me. I'm not sure if this is the same exact animation style they used in Waking Life - if so, I'm getting used to it, because I really liked it here. It felt amazingly real. I kept actually forgetting it was a cartoon. Robert Downey Jr was the most interesting character in the entire movie, no question. It was also one of those movies that even though I wasn't sure what was happening (and no doubt smarter people than me will be able to figure it out) it was still interesting to watch. 3.5 stars.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

I am only the very mildest of Robin Williams fans. I'm seldom annoyed by his antics and occasionally impressed by his actual acting. (Whoa. Random alliteration everywhere.) However, at the beginning of this movie I found him annoying and not in the least entertaining. I was just beginning to think, "Oh, great, this is going to be one of those movies that I can't wait for it to be over." However, as it went on, I reminded myself of WHY I don't mind Robin Williams: when he plays crazysillyzany whatever, he manages to play it with hints that that's not all there is to him. As opposed to some others actors who play like that's the entirety of their characters. And so I felt like it rather redeemed itself at the end, although the story got a bit sappy. Not a fantastic film, but not a terrible one by any means. 3 stars.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

I have a suspicion all these movies are going to be rated around the same. This followed the original book very closely and added nothing new, although it was fun to see the characters come to life once again. Another not-stellar, but certainly fun-for-an-evening watch. (Except for the fact it's quite long - I didn't mind the length but others might if they're not fans of the original books.) 3.5 stars.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

I've never been much of a zombie movie watcher, and am not entirely sure what made me pick up this film. However, it turned out to be quite fun and surprisingly effective, despite some hammy acting and horrid effects. Not too interested in watching the new one, or any other zombie flicks, but this wasn't at all bad. 3 stars.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Country Girl (1954)

This movie was quite well done, and I found it to be a very interesting watch. However, as "real truth" after "real truth" was revealed, I found myself unsure as to whether it was melodramatic and silly, or full of depth. I'm still not entirely sure which way it went. But it was a pretty satisfying movie, either way. 3.5 stars.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Superman Returns (2006)

First off, Superman is certainly iconic, but he's got to be one of the most boring superheroes ever. He's ridiculously perfect, both in character and superhero qualities. But now that I've gotten that minor comment out of the way...

This was only meh. There were some nice moments, but overall none of it struck a chord with me. And the dialogue... goodness. I about lost it when Lex Luthor yelled, "BRING IT ON!" because it was such a drastic break from the tone of the entire rest of the movie. Nah, that didn't work for me at all. So definite moments of coolness, followed, unfortunately, by moments of campiness and bizarrity. I also probably would have liked this if I liked the original movies and superhero more. 3 stars.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Wordplay (2006)

This is definitely going to be more of interest to people who enjoy crossword puzzles. My family and I sat around trying to solve the clues as the contestants did. :-) I did find it genuinely interesting though, especially in the last half of the movie as we got into the competition and watched the people we'd met earlier competing for the champion title. Not stellar, but rather fun, especially if you're a crossword enthusiast. 3 stars.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Machinist (2004)

Dang, Christian Bale is freaky looking in this. But anyway. Really interesting movie. Dark and creepy and did keep me interested until the end. However, the ending would be much more impressive if it hadn't beent done in various forms by every psychological thriller of the last ten or fifteen years. Probably still worth watching if you liked Memento, although it's much bleaker throughout than Memento was. (In feel it's more like The Butterfly Effect. But this doesn't have Ashton Kutcher in it so that automatically makes it better than that movie.) 3 stars.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Sybil (1976)

Wow, this was a fascinating movie. I'm fascinated by multiple personality disorder anyway, and this story just completely engrossed me. Sally Field was absolutely amazing in this role, embodying each one of the personalities in a completely convincing way. I was just blown away by her performance. Although this movie is really long, it didn't feel too long at all. It wound up just exactly when I wanted it to. This movie is really, really interesting - definitely worth watching. 4.5 stars.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Cars (2006)

I was pretty disappointed in this movie. The Pixar/Disney team has always put out quality films, and I suppose this is quality as far as there not being anything outright WRONG with it, but I found it incredibly bland. Telling an old, worn-out story (this is pretty much every "sports star" movie ever made) and just making the main character cars doesn't make it a good movie. Too bad, because this could have been much better. 2.5 stars.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

No, I do not anticipate turning into a Harry Potter fanatic. I'm not into fantasy as a rule, but I decided I'd give the books a try and see what I thought of them. The first one was nothing fantastic, but a fairly satisfying read, so I decided I'd test out the movie, too. I thought it was quite a good movie adaptation of the book, capturing the spirit of the story... and therefore I had the same reaction to it. A very satisfying watch with interesting characters and only a few moments that didn't quite work. Probably worth watching. 3.5 stars.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

A Christmas Story (1983)

Plot: Ralphie has to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940's.

I had never really wanted to see this movie, but then a bunch of people whose movie opinions I respect highly started raving about how great a movie it was, so I sat down and watched it. To my surprise, it was quite charming. Nostalgic without being sappy, down-to-earth while still maintaining Christmas cheer... even a few moments that made me laugh out loud. Definitely a worthy addition to my Christmas movie collection. 4 stars.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Scoop (2006)

This movie was so much fun! I've already discovered I'm a Woody Allen fan - I've liked all of his movies that I've seen. I'm also more and more impressed with Scarlett Johansson as an actress. I've seen her in three very, very different roles now and she managed to play them all really well. The movie lagged a little bit in the middle, feeling like it was kind of dragging itself along, but then it picked up quite a bit and finished up with a very satisfying ending. Not terribly original but great fun. And it has the honor of being the first movie I saw in 2007. 4 stars.