Category: Movie Review (page 3 of 9)

Michael Jackson has met his match

Recently, I watched two thrillers that both impressed me. Shutter Island (2010) is more of a brainy thriller, while The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is more of a creepy thriller. Both are very well made films.

Shutter Island stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a U.S. Marshal investigating the disappearance of a patient at Shutter Island mental hospital. Through some pretty creepy happenings and a massive storm, the good marshal finds out some things, though not really what he was looking for…

DiCaprio never lets me down. He is a spectacular, hardworking actor who has a knack for picking good films. The film kept the suspense up until the end. The very end. The last line even. Make sure you watch carefully.

Shutter Island runs 138 minutes and is rated R. Not really a family film. I give it a solid 8 ramheads out of 10.
The Silence of the Lambs stars Jodie Foster as an FBI trainee who was given the task of interviewing the notorious Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a serial killing Psychiatrist cannibal who is locked up in high security prison. Dr. Lecter is exceedingly creepy, very well mannered and really intelligent. Foster’s character is interviewing with the intent of catching another serial killer named Buffalo Bill who likes to skin his victims.

Hopkins and Foster are both brilliant in this classic. The thrill and suspense (and creepiness) never lets up until the end. The Silence of the Lambs runs 118 minutes and is rated R. Also not a family film. I give it 9 ramheads out of 10 for being a “classic” that didn’t let me down.

The American Dream is a Sham

The feeling I get after watching Revolutionary Road (2008) is that of sadness, hopelessness, and warning. Let me explain.

The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (together for the first time since Titanic) as Frank and April Wheeler, a young and “special” couple with two kids living in a suburban neighborhood. They were the couple that the others were always jealous of. Outwardly, they were perfect. Inwardly, they both were quite miserable.

Frank hates his job and is getting little love at home. April fails at acting and isn’t getting much love from Frank. Neither of them are happy and they both just expect the love to come. They live in the remembrance of when they were in love. The excitement is gone, but they just expect it to be there. They think that moving to Paris will save their relationship. Through many regrettable acts, many fights, and much stubbornness, this couple almost makes it. I won’t give any more away.

While watching this film, I couldn’t help but wonder if their relationship with each other would be different if they had faith. Not faith in each other–though that wouldn’t hurt–but faith in God. They both are so selfish, there is no room for love. Faith would change that. Just a thought.

I also noticed that if they really put the effort into loving each other, they both would be better off. They place the blame for their problems on each other and “this place of hopeless emptiness”, while they should really look at themselves and figure out what they each could do for each other. Love is not easy and it is not just feelings.

The film is really brilliant. It was very difficult to watch at times, but it really has a lot of meaning and though it is set in the 50s, has great application to couples today. The acting was phenomenal. DiCaprio and Winslet are two of the best in the business and they work so well together. Their characters are so real. They are not transparent; they are deep and emotional. The music really helps set the mood and is very well written.

Overall, I was impressed. Revolutionary Road runs 118 minutes and is rated R. NOT a family film. I give it 8 ramheads out of 10.

Paranormal Activity: Scary?…eh.

I just finished watching Paranormal Activity (2007) and have to be blunt…it really wasn’t scary. This low budget ($15,000) horror film is the type of film that amplifies your feelings and expectations for it. I was expecting to see some cheap effects and “weird” stuff happening. I got just that. If you expect to be scared, you probably will be. If you aren’t a Christian, you will probably be even worse off because you can’t find comfort in God and His promises.

This film is shot “home video” style. There is no music, no computer generated effects (except for the end–which is really not the original ending), no real script. The actors just got an outline of the story and improvised it along. Because of this movie’s success they made another (and another). I probably won’t see them.

I wasn’t too impressed, but I watched it because of the hype. Paranormal Activity runs 86 minutes and is rated R for language(there is quite a bit of it…). Not really a family film. I give it an “I-could-have-made-it-if-I-wanted-to” 3 ramheads out of 10.

Jimmy’s Sci-fi Corner: Dinotopia

Remember the last TV mini-series you saw on regular network television? For me, it was Dinotopia (2002), the 4 hour epic originating in James Gurney’s children books. Essentially, two brothers crash a plane, and wash up on shore of an island. The island is filled with dinosaurs coexisting with people in a utopia. But with every utopia comes problems. They eventually travel in a submarine and try to save Dinotopia from the carnivores and the island-wide power outage.

The story is really interesting, the plot is so-so, and the acting is good at times and sub par at times. David Thewlis’s Cyrus Crabb is my favorite character followed closely by Katie Carr’s Marion. The visuals are really cool even though some of the dinosaurs look fake, but if you accept that this is an under funded TV mini-series, you’ll be fine. I mean, some of the visuals in ABC’s Lost looked fake, but we still loved that show to the end, or at least I did.

With all its flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed the Dinotopia miniseries (which ABC made into a horribly written and acted TV series that didn’t last a whole season.) It runs 250 minutes and is a family friendly flick. I give it 7 ramheads out of 10.

Wonderful Classic

My parents watch It’s a Wonderful Life (1947) every single Christmas and for the first time, I watched it all the way through. I was really impressed with the amount of humor, the warmth, and the message…all without color.

George Bailey is a talented, likable, above average guy living in Bedford Falls. Bedford Falls has the opposite of opportunity for a guy like him. Through many different happenings, he is constantly held back from his opportunities. Even through all that he is wonderfully successful, marries a wonderful woman and has wonderful children. But he is tempted to suicide after a horrible mistake is made at his business.

God sends an angel (second class) to save him. This classic is original, heartwarming and shows that one person can have an huge impact on those around him.

It’s a Wonderful Life runs 130 minutes of black and white awesomeness. It is a great family film and shows that the bells and whistles of technology don’t make a movie. I give it 10 ramheads out of 10.

Merry Christmas! 5 Great Christmasy Films Just for you!

Movies are not the “true meaning of Christmas”–of course God sending Jesus to be our Savior is–but many Americans associate certain films with the now commercialized holiday. Christians have no problem with Christmas flicks, as long as we don’t get distracted from the importance of Jesus. I have a few timeless classics that are my favorites at this time of the year:

  1. The Family Man (2000)
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
  4. A Christmas Story (1983)
  5. Elf (2003)

I hope you get to watch them all this Christmas! God’s blessing to you and your family!

P.S. My favorite Christmas TV special is A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). It is 25 minutes and is awesome!

The Chronic(WHAT?)cles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

We’ve all seen “Lazy Sunday“, the Chronicles of Narnia SNL digital short. (If you haven’t, watch it now!) Andy Samberg raves about the Narnia film he’s going to see. I didn’t see it on a Sunday, but I still really enjoyed C.S. Lewis’s Christian themed fantasy novel turned film.

This film isn’t the best film you’ll ever see, but I’ll tell you that it is one of the most exciting family films I’ve seen in a while. There is sword fighting and a battle with a sea monster and more…all with a PG rating.

The exciting musical score is composed by newcomer David Arnold. He incorporated the previous Narnia theme written by Harry Gregson-Williams excellently and added brilliant new characterizations to this salty sea flick. (The Dawn Treader is the ship that the characters spend most of their time.)

This film is really quite eye-popping. I didn’t see it in 3D, because I’m sick of overpriced 3D films and the dimmer picture. I appreciate the beauty of the film and I don’t need gimmicks like 3D to make it entertaining for me. The battle sequences and fight scenes are really well done and visually believable. The story is well told, and the Christian themes definitely come out.

The only complaint I had were the characters/acting. The acting was fine, but I didn’t feel like the story was about the characters and what was going on with them. I felt like the story was being told, and the characters were just kind of there. The only character I really got in to was Eustace, played by newcomer Will Poulter. He will be the lead in the next couple Narnia films, if they get made. Even with some lackluster numbers domestically for the opening weekend, I’m praying that the worldwide totals bring in the profits necessary for another film.

Overall, this is an awesome film for everyone (even little kids). Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader runs 115 minutes and is rate PG. I give 8 ramheads out of 10.

5 Scenes that I would have liked to see in Deathly Hallows part 1

If you haven’t seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, you may not want to read this, as I talk about what is and isn’t in the film. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll be confused.

5. Phineas Nigellus in the beaded bag

4. Harry stealing and eventually burying Mad-Eye Moody’s magical eye

3. Harry, Ron, and Hermione listening to their friends on Potterwatch radio

2. Dudley’s heartfelt goodbye with Harry

1. Harry telling off Lupin at Grimmauld place

To make room for some or all of these scenes I could have gone without the Harry-Hermione dance. It was a little weird and didn’t really go with the flow of the movie. I didn’t hate it, but I could have gone without it.

What do you think? What scenes did you want or did you not like?

The Half that is more whole than what a whole would have been: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Review

About 12 hours ago I got home after a great night at the Movie. The Movie that millions have waited for. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1. This movie wasn’t a whole movie, but it was a whole half.

Part 1 will please the most fans of the books since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in its true-ness to the books. It was exceedingly true to the books, it was more naturally adapted than some of the recent Harry Potter films, and it was very well paced. This is mostly to do with the wise decision that Warner Bros. made to split Hallows into two films. WB’s decision was good for them (more $$$) and good for fans (fewer fans angry about what they left out).

The pace of this film is what made me really happy. In the past 3 films the plot just seemed rushed and I was disappointed about certain things that were missing (especially the key plot points that are now plot holes.) In the Hallows book, the first half is mostly fearful, figuring-out-what-to-do-next camping. It is a little slow and anxious feeling. I believe that the filmmakers did an excellent job creating this feeling and pace onscreen. They really set the tone for the film right at the beginning with Voldemort and his disregard for life. He is really evil.

The acting was phenomenal. Rupert Grint gave us an outstanding emotional performance of Ron. Radcliffe is excellent and Watson is completely rid of her trying-too-hard facial expressions. The amount of care and effort is definitely visible. Also, while watching the credits I got to realize how many top-notch actors this franchise has, all of which are British (of course).

The cinematography is amazing. This film was very beautiful and the scenes were very visually pleasing. New composer for Harry Potter Alexandre Desplat’s score is superb. The only thing I wish would have been included was some more of Hedwig’s theme from John Williams’ original score. There was a little, but I would have like a little more. Other than that little detail, I loved Desplat’s work. (I’m listening to it as I type this.)

There are a few scenes from the book I wish would have been included, but I will wait until my next post to divulge.

As a story, it was incomplete. But since that is what the filmmakers were intending, I’m fine with it. It was much better than the split between Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3 as the film was just better. For those people who haven’t read the books and are casual fans of the films, this one might be a little tough to follow. That is because it isn’t shallow or flaky, it is pure plot meat. Mmm….meat. To the die hard fans, you will be pleased.

Part 1 runs 146 minutes and is rated PG-13. Definitely not a kid’s movie. I give it 10 ramheads out of 10.

She took a giant s*** on my face. Literally.

-Literally?

-Well, no, not literally. That’s disgusting.

The Indy flick gone mainstream (500) Days of Summer (2009) features many of these hilarious, random lines. There are a lot of things going for this movie.

First off, the film has a lot of acting talent. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are both excellent and perfect for the roles.

The film really has no plot. It is kind of like Up in the Air in that way. In a lot of ways. This film is real. Well, no. Not really. But it does have to do with real (in the movie) characters that are not idealistic or extraordinary. This film is not like most films. It isn’t what you’d expect. The characters aren’t what you’d expect.

I was actually a little confused with some of the happenings. The characters aren’t predictable. They are just like us; they are human. This is what makes this film something different and something special. It is brilliantly written.

There was this really funny scene that reminded me of a scene from Spiderman 3. It was really cheesy and awesome. I like cheesy and awesome in ways like this.

(500) Days of Summer runs 95 minutes and is rated PG-13. (I would definitely abide by the 13-year-old-and-up rule). I give it a pleasantly surprising 8 ramheads out of 10.


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