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Old 06-30-2007, 12:46 PM   #121
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Diggers
Directed by Katherine Dieckmann
Written by Ken Marino
Starring Lauren Ambrose, Ron Eldard, Josh Hamilton, Ken Marino, Sarah Paulson, Paul Rudd and Maura Tierney


Critically-acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh was nominated for Best Director at this past year's Independent Spirit Awards for his high-definition flick Bubble. The low-budget picture featuring amateur and unknown actors was released simultaneously in movie theaters and on the cable/satellite television network HDNet Movies, with a DVD release just days later. Many theaters perceived this tactic to be a threat, and banned Bubble from being shown on the big screen. But that hasn't stopped the release of this year's low-budget film Diggers from following the same path of being released to theaters, on cable and on DVD within days of each other.

In 1976 Long Island, a group of four young working-class friends have each decided to follow in the footsteps of their fathers by becoming independent clam diggers. But as the foursome begin to move forward through their adult lives, they each begin to face a ton of hardships, largely brought on by a big fishing corporation that has recently moved into the area and has started to hurt the profits of the local residents. But a number of other personal problems have allowed the gang of guys to start considering altering their course of life.

Clam digger and photographer Hunt (Paul Rudd) just lost his father, and has uncharacteristically sparked a summertime romance with a young Manhattan woman named Zoe (Lauren Ambrose). As Hunt begins to question his life, he is quickly pulled back to reality with the news that his divorced sister Gina (Maura Tierney) has recently started a fling of her own with his friend Jack (Ron Eldard). Hunt's best friend Lozo's (Ken Marino) marital problems with wife Julie (Sarah Paulson) increase with the announcement of her unexpected pregnancy, and his buddy Cons (Josh Hamilton) seems much more concerned with waxing philosophy in a stoned-state than he does tackling life's challenges.

A simple and intimate buddy film, Diggers is a low-key independent production that has a lot to like, but unfortunately, it is all executed in such a poor manner. While it is refreshing to watch a low-budget picture that doesn't need the over-the-top zaniness and off-the-wall, eccentric characters that are usually a staple in these type of coming-of-age stories, Diggers is a rather mundane movie where a lot seems poised to happen, but nothing ever does.

Written by Marino and helmed by music video director Katherine Dieckmann, Diggers never takes itself too seriously and merely invests all of its drama in real-life scenarios that mirror any young adults life. But while you are invested in the characters and their problems, none of them are ever fully developed, and the film sort of bumbles through each scene and potential conflict without no clear direction and without need for any conclusions.

The actors all do a decent job, with strong supporting work on display from Marino (Reno 911!: Miami, Hoodwinked) and Tierney (Welcome to Mooseport, TV's ER). Both manage to steal each scene they are in, giving believable performances, even when the writing and direction makes it hard to comprehend why they say or act in the manner in which they do. The rest of the movie's ensemble keeps ahold of your attention, as well, but they feel about as minor as their character structure.

A likeable movie with an extremely thin script, Diggers is an understated picture that unfortunately fails to provide its great cast or its audience with anything of significance.


*/****


Upcoming Movie Reviews:
Black Snake Moan, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Dead Silence and Gray Matters
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Old 07-03-2007, 03:23 PM   #122
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Black Snake Moan
Directed by Craig Brewer
Written by Craig Brewer
Starring David Banner, John Cothrane Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Michael Raymond-James, Christian Ricci, Kim Richards and Justin Timberlake


Director and writer Craig Brewer found tremendous success in 2005 with his first theatrical release, Hustle & Flow. The story of a Memphis hustler turned aspiring rapper won the Audience Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and landed Terrence Howard his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Now two years later, Brewer returns to Memphis, partners up with Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci, and delivers the interesting bluesy-drama Black Snake Moan.

Rae (Ricci) is a small-town nymphomaniac, who aims to calm her wild ways by settling down with her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake). But when Ronnie leaves on deployment with the National Guard, Rae returns to her dangerous partying habits, including a sexual hook-up with Ronnie's friend Gill (Michael Raymond-James). An angry Gill soon physically abuses Rae, leaving her battered and bruised on the side of the road.

The next morning, her body is discovered by Lazarus (Jackson), a deeply religious and emotional man who is distraught over his recent divorce with his wife. Lazarus takes Rae back to his house and helps to nurse her back to health, before chaining her up and working towards taming her crazy behavior. But while Lazarus works at cleansing Rae's soul, she enables Lazarus to find some much needed strength for himself.

A highly distinct film heavily supported by some fine acting, Black Snake Moan is a movie that will be immensely loved by some, and undeniably loathed by others. The story of an older man and a younger woman both at rough patches in their life and leaning on each other for support is absorbing, but it never quite becomes the movie one would have hoped, relying too much on its trashy exploitation premise before presenting us with an overly forced resolution.

Brewer once again showcases his talents as a director, carefully constructing a movie that has a unique and gritty style to it, providing an appealing dark and moody atmosphere, all the while making great use of its blues soundtrack. But Brewer continues to struggle with the writing in his movies, basing everything in Black Snake Moan around feebly-written characters involved in ridiculous plot occurences and spouting off preachy dialogue.

Much like Hustle & Flow, the main selling point of the film is the lead work of Jackson (Snakes on a Plane, Freedomland) and Ricci (Cursed, Monster). Both take on challenging roles and do a great job at making the audience buy into their characters, even when the script let's them down. Ricci is incredibly daring as Rae, having been filmed in several provocative states of undress, but still managing to command your attention through her strong performance.

A film that evokes curiosity and confers an unparalleled quality on the big screen, in the end, Black Snake Moan is hampered by its lack of developments and lazy writing.


**/****


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Old 07-04-2007, 10:59 AM   #123
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Gray Matters
Directed by Sue Kramer
Written by Sue Kramer
Starring Thomas Cavanagh, Alan Cumming, Heather Graham, Bridget Moynahan, Molly Shannon, Rachel Shelley and Sissy Spacek


Kissing Jessica Stein is the story of a successful and single female journalist in New York City, who forms a budding friendship with a career woman that soon escalates into an unexpected romantic relationship. A surprising, early-year independent hit in 2001, the movie garnered an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay for its writers and stars Heather Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeldt. But even beyond the critical acclaim, Kissing Jessica Stein was also a refreshing romantic comedy in a genre that has been bogged-down with contrived drab for way too long. Now, the same-sex romantic tales have started to become dull, as well, thanks to the release of this year's Gray Matters.

Heather Graham (Bobby, The Oh in Ohio) stars as Gray, herself a successful and single career woman in New York City. Gray is best friends and roommates with her brother Sam (Thomas Cavanagh), but oftentimes the close siblings are mistaken for something much more. So Gray and Sam venture out to a dog park in the city, in an effort to find a woman for Sam.

At the park, the two connect with a zoologist named Charlie (Bridget Moynahan). After only knowing each other for 24 hours, Sam suprises his sister with the news that he and Charlie have decided to head to Las Vegas and elope, with the hopes that Gray will be their witness. But on Charlie's final night out before her wedding day, she and Gray finalize a night of partying with a passionate kiss, threatening Gray's close relationship with her brother and leading Gray to question her sexual orientation.

Unbelievably light and fluffy, Gray Matters doesn't have a lot to it that seems wrong or misplaced, but it also doesn't have any sort of substance involved in its story, either. First-time screenwriter and first-time director Sue Kramer's film calmly strolls through the romantic-comedy-motions and occassional bits of charm manage to find their way to the audience, but most of the film is staged like a television sitcom, with constant quirky and silly scenarios taking place with little reason.

The movie's biggest flaw is Kramer's screenplay, which rushes through the plot and purposely strays away from adding any dramatic depth to the story. The script neglects to build upon the slightest audience intrigue in any possible tension presented, and the story discordantly transitions from Gray's familiar problems with Sam, to her ongoing workplace difficulties and to her discovery of sexual orientation, with none of the stories feeling complete. Kramer packs it all into a 96-minute film, that is heavily equipped with witless and feverish paced Gilmore Girls-style dialogue.

Graham completely submerges herself into the role of Gray, but too often she goes over-the-top with the comedy routines that are hard to bear. Cavanagh (How to Eat Fried Worms, TV's Love Monkey) and Moynahan (Lord of War, TV's Six Degrees) are slightly more subdued than Graham, but take on too much of a secondary role to the other situations plaguing Gray's life.

A harmless romantic comedy that is a breeze to sit through, you could do much worse than watching Gray Matters, but that doesn't make this film anymore worthwhile.


*/****


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Old 07-04-2007, 12:04 PM   #124
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Geez, a lot of low-rated movies you're seeing. I saw "Live Free or Die Hard" last night. Decent, about what I expected. 3/5 stars.
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Old 07-04-2007, 12:15 PM   #125
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc
Geez, a lot of low-rated movies you're seeing. I saw "Live Free or Die Hard" last night. Decent, about what I expected. 3/5 stars.
I haven't been to the theater for over two-weeks, and I have missed out on some stuff I have been wanting to see (like 1408 and The Wind that Shakes the Barley).

I plan on seeing Evan Almighty, Live Free or Die Hard, Ratatouille, Transformers, Waitress, License to Wed and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in theaters over the next week.

Most of the recent pictures I have seen are the early-year trash that studios dump into theaters following the release of all of their Oscar bait, and they have just been released to DVD.
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Old 07-04-2007, 12:20 PM   #126
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Dead Silence
Directed by James Wan
Written by Leigh Whannell
Starring Michael Fairman, Bob Gunton, Joan Heney, Ryan Kwanten, Laura Regan, Amber Valletta and Donnie Wahlberg


In 2004, director and writer James Wan, along with his collaborative writing partner Leigh Whannell, found tremendous success with their twisted, cult-classic terror film Saw. While the original movie in the series has been the most critically well-received, the movie only grossed a little over $50 million. Its two follow-up sequels having taken the movie franchise to the nearly $100 million level at the box-office. Wan and Whannell have now stepped away from the successful Saw series to create a new horror flick, the overall abysmal Dead Silence.

In the suburban town of Raven's Fair, there is a ghost story about Mary Shaw, a ventriloquist who was killed and buried along with her handmade collection of puppets. The town has since been plagued by death, with people found gruesomely murdered with their tongues torn out and their jaws ripped open. Following the grizzly killing of his wife Lisa (Laura Regan) after receiving a mysterious package containing a ventriloquist dummy, Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) recalls the bad omen in his hometown regarding Mary Shaw.

While being investigated by homicide detective Jim Lipton (Donnie Wahlberg) for the murder of his wife, Jamie returns to Raven's Fair where its discovered that Shaw's collection of buried puppets have been removed from their gravesites. Jamie feverishly works to unravel the mystery behind Lisa's death, to clear his name of any wrongdoing in the case and to also understand the true story behind the deceased Mary Shaw.

A Child's Play for a new generation of horror fans, Dead Silence has a certain appeal brought to light through its settings and cinematography, but its entirely for naught when matched-up against its shallow and superficial narrative. Similar to this year's earlier horror release Thr3e, Dead Silence doesn't go the route of the more recent Saw movies or Hostel by simply shocking the audience with how grotesque its murders can be, but its lack of intrigue or compelling story make it feel similarly deficient.

Wan and Whannell's original Saw nailed the appropriate mechanics in the mystery thriller genre, knowing what to reveal and when to reveal it, with an inspired ending that was the film's main appeal. In Dead Silence, the characters just stumble upon the key plot points in absurd ways, and for the most part, in predictable fashion. The dialogue is rancid, and the ridiculous backstories and tacked-on ending provided will leave an unpleasant taste in the audience's mouth.

Although the puppets play a rather small role in the film, it is humorous to note that the ensemble cast appears to be far more wooden than their artificial co-stars. Kwanten (Flicka, TV's Summerland) is one of the more bland actors to headline a film, and is particularly hard to stomach when regurgitating Whannell's awful dialogue. Wahlberg's (Saw III, Annapolis) straight-laced detective who is clueless to the actual events he is investigating had some potential to be an unnerving character, but since he isn't able to play off of a likeable lead actor, he instead seems insignificant and annoying.

A futile and frivolous flick from start to finish, Dead Silence is a mild and generic ghost tale that leaves a lasting impression for all the wrong reasons.


1/2-a-star/****


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Old 07-05-2007, 12:44 PM   #127
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Live Free or Die Hard
Directed by Len Wiseman
Written by Mark Bomback
Starring Yorgo Constantine, Cliff Curtis, Andrew Friedman, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Jonathan Sadowski, Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis


Even though he won a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for his role as David Adison Jr. on the popular television show Moonlighting, Bruce Willis's career-defining role came in the 1988 action-thriller Die Hard. Willis starred as John McClane, a tough New York City police officer trapped in a Los Angeles hotel that has been overtaken by terrorists. Willis's one-man war against the terrorists became a big action hit, spawning the 1990 sequel Die Hard 2 and 1995's Die Hard: With a Vengeance. A dozen-years later, Willis is back in the role of McClane, in the franchise's fourth film Live Free or Die Hard.

NYPD Police Detective John McClane (Willis) is asked to transport computer hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) from his apartment in Camden, New Jersey, to an FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. But as McClane and Farrell look to exit, the apartment complex is ambushed by henchmen that have been sent to kill Matt. McClane and Farrell manage to escape, but once they arrive in Washington D.C., they are met by more attacks in the midst of an ongoing national crisis.

It turns out that a terrorist group has hacked into the computer and technological infrastructure of the United States, partially using codes that they purchased from Farrell, causing mass chaos and ultimately affecting the economy of the country. With the help of Farrell, McClane tracks down former government employee Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), who appears to be the main behind the ongoing terrorist attacks.

A straight-forward action-flick that feels like a throwback to the summer blockbusters of the early-1990s, Live Free or Die Hard is a refreshing change from the recent comic book capers and convoluted CGI-pics, but it is no less preposterous and carries with it several moments that are so far beyond absurd, you can't help but laugh at the senseless nature of it all. And while this latest film proves to be better than its predecessor Die Hard: With a Vengeance, it is far from being the sharp thriller that the original was.

I can suspend my disbelief enough to buy into the numerous unbelievable action sequences that follow several implausible scenarios, for which there are plenty of nicely captured moments, but there is little excuse for the deplorable, boneheaded dialogue from writer Mark Bomback (Godsend) that ends up accompanying the exciting visuals. And the sub-plot involving McClane and his daughter Lucy feels unneeded, drags the film out longer than it needs to be and does very little towards providing McClane with a moral center.

The movie is simply a vehicle for Willis (Grindhouse, The Astronaut Farmer) to shine in, and Bruce's solid persona is one of the few things that keeps you drawn to the screen. Long (Idiocracy, Accepted) seems suited for the role, but unfortunately that role requires him to spew annoying technical lingo and artificial one-liners that lack a comedic punch. And Olyphant (Catch & Release, TV's Deadwood) is one of the more unbelievable villains in cinema history, brought to life through his overall hammy performance.

Live Free or Die Hard will be a guilty pleasure for those who enjoy over-the-top action movies with likeable heroes, but for most it will seem like another worthless summer sequel that doesn't even strive to hold up to the original film.


*.5/****


Upcoming Movie Reviews:
Ratatouille, Evan Almighty, The Abandoned and Transformers

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Old 07-05-2007, 04:00 PM   #128
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Ratatouille
Directed by Brad Bird
Written by Brad Bird
Starring Will Arnett, Brian Dennehy, Janeane Garofalo, Brad Garrett, Ian Holm, Peter O'Toole, Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano and Peter Sohn


Pixar Animation Studios is one of the leader's in CGI-animated feature films. Their first feature-length production was the 1995 Academy Award winning film Toy Story, which was recently named to the top 100 movies on the American Film Institute's 10th Anniversary Edition. Pixar also received Oscar nominations for its next six productions, including A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo and last year's summer hit, Cars. This year, Pixar rolls out its eighth feature-length film Ratatouille, which ranks beside Toy Story as one of the studio's finest films.

Remy (Patton Oswalt) is a rat that has been born with a keen sense of taste and smell. Separated from his family and friends, Remy finds himself in Paris, France, and outside of the restuarant of deceased world famous chef Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett). Peering through the window of the restuarant and into the kitchen, Remy spots a young employee named Alfredo Linguini (Lou Romano), who is adding unneeded ingredients to the restuarant's soup. Remy decides to use his natural abilities to repair the damaged soup, which turns out to be a surprise success to those dining at the restuarant that evening.

The kitchen staff and the general public assume the great tasting dish was prepared by Linguini, so the young man with a lack of culinary talent enlists the help of Remy in order to maintain his job at Gusteau's. The two work out at a system that leads to unexpected success for the restuarant and for Linguini, who overcomes his shyness in order to date his co-worker Colette (Janeane Garofalo). But the duo soon faces a tough challenge in trying to impress renowned food critic Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole).

The best animation film since 2004's The Incredibles, Ratatouille is a visual masterpiece combined with an engaging story that is a little long and drags a bit in the second act, but never stops being entertaining. Writer and director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant) has once again restored some new vigor to the field of animated movies by taking the gorgeous computer graphics audiences have come to expect, and mixing that together with a wholesome story that will easily appeal to individuals of all ages.

Bird directs the movie with a tremendous amount of subtlety, electing only to move the camera when the action requires and when he wants to astound the viewer with the movie's amazing imagery. Otherwise, Bird lets the story do the majority of the work, and makes each of his movie's characters rich in detail. Straying far away from lame animal gags and asinine pop culture references usually found in today's crop of animated films, Bird delivers a story that isn't laugh-out-loud funny, but contains that same joyous feel you get when you read a classic children's book.

One of the other highlights of Ratatouille is the incredible original music from Michael Giacchino (Mission: Impossible III, TV's Lost). The score stands-out and feels truly connected to the story and the famed city its characters call home. The film doesn't possess a soundtrack filled with today's popular artists like most animated flicks, and Ratatouille goes to great lengths to ensure that the music is only used as a part of the narrative, and not something that has been thrown together and seems rather out of place.

An irresistible film that will leave you with a smile on your face, Ratatouille is not only a great animated movie, but it is one of the best movies of the first-half of 2007.


***/****



Upcoming Movie Reviews:
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Old 07-12-2007, 06:02 PM   #129
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Toby, when are you going to review Harry Potter 5? I saw it yesterday and thought it was pretty good.
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Old 07-14-2007, 09:40 AM   #130
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Evan Almighty
Directed by Tom Shadyac
Written by Steve Oedekerk
Starring Jimmy Bennett, Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, John Goodman, Lauren Graham, John Michael Higgins, Jonah Hill, Graham Phillips, Johnny Simmons and Wanda Sykes


Jim Carey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman teamed up in the summer of 2003 to headline the comedy Bruce Almighty. The movie followed Bruce Nolan, a television reporter prone to complaining about God, that is soon given some almighty powers of his own in order to teach him a lesson in how difficult it is to run the world. A huge box-office hit, Bruce Almighty went on to gross over $242 million and presently ranks as one of the largest grossing films of all-time. Comedian Steve Carell, who played a bit part in the 2003 film, now straps himself into the driver's seat for the follow-up picture Evan Almighty.

Carell (Little Miss Sunshine, TV's The Office) stars as Evan Baxter, one of the co-hosts of a television newscast in Buffalo, New York who was recently elected to the United States Congress after running on a slogan of changing the world. But that campaign promise is unexpectedly put to the test when God (Freeman) appears on Baxter's doorstep, and challenges the politician to build an ark to protect his community from an impending flood.

Baxter laughs off God's appearance and God's unusual request of building an ark, but Evan's life is quickly turned upside down once he starts growing a Noah-like beard and is followed around Washington D.C. by all types of eager animals awaiting to get on the ark. Yet, once Evan starts to devote his time towards changing the world through the construction of the ark, his Congressional career and his marriage begin to suffer.

The most expensive comedy of all-time, Evan Almighty is also one of the more faultier films of the year. The movie carried a $175 million budget for the flick's visual effects, which included the filming of numerous animals separately from each other, before splicing them together on-screen, as well as the imminent flood that God warns of. But despite the large budget, the visual effects still feel cheap, and the climactic portion of the film seems more cartoonish than exciting.

Written by Steve Oedekerk and directed by Tom Shadyac, both the creative forces behind Bruce Almighty, their newest flick wisely tries to become its own picture by never making an effort to connect itself back to the original film, but unfortunately Evan Almighty also ends up lacking the humor, characters and the direction that the original movie contained. The majority of the sequel only finds laughs through watching Baxter get chased around Washington D.C. by the various animals, while the added melodrama fails on an emotional level because the relationship between Evan and his wife Joan (Lauren Graham) is never detailed or understood.

Carell does a fine job in the role, giving a far more subdued performance than he gave in Bruce Almighty. The movie works when Carell plays Baxter as a sweet and relatable guy, but there are several moments that seem specifically to cater to Jim Carrey's typical mannerisms and physical-style of comedy that just don't work in Carell's hands. Freeman (10 Items or Less, Lucky Number Slevin) is used sporadically throughout, never quite matching his role or work in the original film.

Not as bad as one might expect, but still nowhere near the level of good, Evan Almighty joins the growing list of disappointing summer sequels.


*.5/****


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Old 07-15-2007, 05:08 PM   #131
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Going to see I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry Friday. It looks hilarious and I cannot wait!
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Old 07-15-2007, 05:55 PM   #132
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tobynosker you really do a very good job with the reviews. Was wondering what you thought of Shooter, starring mark Wahlberg? I rented it along with The Astronaut Farmer. Im a Billy Bob Thornton fan and thought this was one role he should have turn down. I really like Shooter I found the storyline was really good. And I see a sequel.

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Old 07-16-2007, 07:07 PM   #133
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The shooter was awesome! :thumbup:
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Old 07-17-2007, 07:27 AM   #134
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dano
tobynosker you really do a very good job with the reviews. Was wondering what you thought of Shooter, starring mark Wahlberg? I rented it along with The Astronaut Farmer. Im a Billy Bob Thornton fan and thought this was one role he should have turn down. I really like Shooter I found the storyline was really good. And I see a sequel.
Thanks, Dano.

I really enjoyed Shooter. It felt like a two-hour episode of 24, but I thought the cast was top-notch and made it far more enjoyable than it should have been.

I can do nothing but sing the praises of Michael Pena, who turned out to be one of the best things in both Crash and World Trade Center. He doesn't disappoint in Shooter, and he is one of the reasons I am anticipating Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs.

The real star of the movie was Mark Wahlberg, who I think could do really well in Matt Damon-Jason Bourne-type movies. I don't know if Shooter deserves a sequel, though.

As for The Astronaut Farmer, it was far better than I expected and it was a well-shot and well-acted family movie. It wasn't Billy Bob Thornton's best movie, but I did enjoy it more than his recent films like School for Scoundrels, Bad News Bears and The Alamo.

And because I love lists...

Top Five Billy Bob Thornton Performances
1.) Karl Childers in Sling Blade
2.) Willie in Bad Santa
3.) Ed in The Man Who Wasn't There
4.) Hank Grotowski in Monster's Ball
5.) Coach Gary Gaines in Friday Night Lights
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Old 07-19-2007, 02:37 PM   #135
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Transformers
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci
Starring Anthony Anderson, Josh Duhamel, Megan Fox, Tyrese Gibson, Shia LaBeouf, Rachael Taylor, John Turturro and Jon Voigt


The Transformers are a line of robot toys that are able to to transform, or reconstruct themselves, into a common and innocuous form. The Transformers toyline was developed by Hasbro in the United States, and its spin-offs include a Marvel comic book series, an animated television series and the 1986 animated film The Transformers: The Movie. Now, big-budget director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg have once again brought the robots back to the pop-culture landscape through this year's live-action flick Transformers.

High school student Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) has recently purchased his first car, but is unaware that his 1977 Chevy Camaro is actually an autonomous robotic life form in disguise. Sam has constant struggles with his vehicle and soon discovers that his Camaro has a mind of its own, as it transforms into its natural giant-sized, robotic state in order to fend off one of the members of the villanous group The Decepticons.

It turns out that the Camaro, named Bumblebee, and the rest of The Autobots -- Optimus Prime, Jazz, Ironhead and Ratchet -- are trying to find a magical cube called the AllSpark, which if found, could grant either The Autobots or The Decepticons power over mechanical life. The Autobots need Sam's help in finding the eye glasses of his relative Captain Archibald Witwicky, which has a map imprinted on them with the location of the AllSpark.

A loud, visual and overloaded summer spectacle, Transformers seems like a film that is perfectly suited for director Bay (The Island, Bad Boys II), but much like his previous blockbuster outings of Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, the only true compelling part of the film is its astonishing special effects. The visual effects are top-notch and will certainly rank as some of the best CGI-work in film this year. Along with the visual effects, the movie's incredible sound design and the strong action sequences also manage to keep you involved in the film.

But in the end, the movie is entirely misguided and never able to find a satisfying place between its drawn-out action scenes, its insulting use of exposition for dialogue and its numerous moments of forced sitcom gags. The narrative is sprawled across several uninvolving subplots with one-note characters that become too much to take in, and with all of the stories still underdeveloped in what is a two hour and 24-minute movie.

It's entirely impossible to take movies like Transformers seriously, which is why the film faulters amidst stories of destroyed military bases in Qatar and super secret government agencies, and why the film succeeds when placed in the hands of the talented and witty LaBeouf (Surf's Up, Bobby). Much like this year's earlier film Disturbia, it's LaBeouf's charisma, delivery and overall presence that keeps you invested in the preposterous and sometimes droll ongoings of the picture.

A shining technical achievement that has its share of fun and exciting elements, Transformers still possesses way too many over-the-top and redundant moments to make it truly stand-out from the rest of the typical summer fare.


**/****


Upcoming Movie Reviews:
Waitress, License to Wed, The Abandoned and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
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