Marter's Reviews

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Mr. Wiggles on Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:05 pm

Pararaptor wrote:It's more just a hook than anything else. A rainbow wig in the sea of gingers.



Say what, motherfucker?

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:11 pm

I'm saying gingers are such inherently boring people I'd even be willing to talk to a random in a rainbow wig if it meant a distraction from any gingers around me.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Mr. Wiggles on Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:19 pm

Your dead to me.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:25 pm

I'll put in the mail for you.
Wouldn't mind a please in future.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:52 pm

Girl, Interrupted
Is there any possible way to deny that ingesting an entire bottle of aspirin and a bottle of vodka is a suicide attempt? I questioned that while I watched Girl, Interrupted, and I figured that the answer had to be an emphatic "no," although the film makes no decision one way or the other. That's one of the many reasons that Susanna (Winona Ryder) has been forced into a mental institution, although she claims that she was only trying to get rid of a headache.

Unbeknownst to her, once you sign into a mental hospital, you can't leave until they tell you so. She's now trapped, which may actually be for the best. We see inside her head with a ton of flashbacks near the beginning, and it's probably good that she's getting psychological help. She's diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which quick research tells me is characterized by "impulsiveness, extreme mood swings, and often aggressiveness." The film defines it as sexual promiscuity, among other things.

So Susanna ends up getting stuck in the hospital, with a diagnosis that she doesn't believe in. Do we believe it? I didn't really. She seemed pretty sane to me, although compared to most of the other patients in the hospital, most people would look sane. They're all forced to act as crazy as possible so that Susanna contrasts well with them. They each get a different diagnosis too, because having two mental patients with the same condition would get boring. One of the girls burned her face when she was young, one of them is a compulsive liar and one of them has an eating disorder. Pretty much all other mental disorders are represented here as well, but they don't feature all that prominently. And then there's Lisa (Angelina Jolie), the sociopath who we first meet kicking and screaming.

Susanna and Lisa slowly become friends. As they should. They're both the most sane people in the hospital. Or at least, they both appear to be. Whether or not either is crazy or sane is something that will be revealed later, and I'm not going to spoil that. Their relationship ends up driving the film forward, all while Susanna embarks on a journey of self-discover, while being forced to stay in the hospital. There's nothing better to do, I guess, so she might as well "get better" if there was anything to recover from in the first place.

This is how we spend most of our time. Susanna spends more than a year in this place, and we get to see all of the big moments, as well as some smaller ones, during her time spent there. We get to spend a ton of time with our two lead characters, particularly Susanna, which is a good thing. Lisa plays more of a drifter character, disappearing whenever she feels like, which is passed off as her escape attempts. She's been at the institution for eight years, after all.

By giving us so much time with our main character, we get to watch her grow, while also learning about her past. This isn't done seamlessly, especially not at the beginning, where we get a lot of flashbacks interrupting what's going on. I figure that's supposed to represent her fragile state of mind before entering the facility, but it came across more as a distraction.

After we stop getting flashbacks, things happen without much effort, coming across organically instead of feeling forced. We learn about Susanna, and we start to care about her, even if she's not the greatest person to ever walk the Earth. The same goes for every other person in this movie. We want to see them all overcome their problems by the end, which is important in a drama.

We do occasionally enter melodrama territory, which is too bad. When it feels like your feelings are being manipulated, it's harder to enjoy yourself. Girl, Interrupted was based on a memoir by the real Susanna, but the movie has plot threads that never actually happened. Obviously certain liberties have to be taken, but I've heard that the ones created just for the movie added melodrama that wasn't present in real life.

That's not to say that it doesn't still work for the most part, as we get involved enough with Susanna's life to not care that we're partially being manipulated. Since we end up caring a lot about her, we don't mind having some plot points that didn't actually exist. We're completely involved in the story of Girl, Interrupted, and that immersion makes it a very good film. It also, thankfully, has enough moments of levity, even ending on a mostly happy note, which is something that it has over a certain other mental institution film.

Winona Ryder was a great choice to play the lead, as she manages to tell us exactly what her character is feeling at all times. With a movie that's about the psyche of its characters, this is key. Jolie has a solid performance as the free-spirited Lisa, while supporting cast members come from Brittany Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg and Vanessa Redgrave. They all make their characters seem effortless, which is something to commend.

While I can't exactly say that Girl, Interrupted was a great movie, it was a very good one that made me care deeply for its main character, while showing the inner workings of a mental institution. It shows us in great detail the psyche of Susanna, while leaving enough room for its secondary characters as well. It sometimes slips into melodrama territory, but I didn't mind that much because of how involved I felt with the story.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:23 am

Zoolander
Comedies about stupid people acting just like their intelligence indicates are films that rarely register well with me. Zoolander is such a comedy, although I actually had a good time with it, even if it forgot what it was trying to do for most of the time it was playing. We open up with a group of executives claiming that the Prime Minister of Malaysia will ruin their business because he is trying to abolish child labor laws. They decide that they need someone to assassinate him, and we assume that the plot will revolve around the assassination attempt.

This isn't what happens though. They find their pawn early on; Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is chosen for the job. He's just stupid enough to be brainwashed into do it, although this only happens mid-way through, and the attempted murder only occurs at the very end. Instead, we get a satire of the life of a male model, which probably ends up being funnier than the "plot" (to use the term loosely) would be if stretched out over the entire film, as well as being far more enjoyable than it really has the right to be.

First, we need to have Derek fall from grace, so to speak. He begins the film as "Male Model of the Year", three years running. His only competition comes from Hansel (Owen Wilson). There's an awards show, the results of which I won't disclose, but suffice to say it leads Derek heartbroken, even if he does get to be on-stage. And then his friends are killed, and he announces his retirement from being a male model, citing that he wishes to fund a school called "The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too."

This retirement is short-lived when fashion mogul Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) decides to hire him for a new line inspired by the homeless. It's here where the brainwashing occurs, and the plot begins to move towards the planned assassination, which will happen at a fashion show in a matter of days. There's also a reporter who ends up being Derek's potential love interest played by Ben Stiller's wife Christine Taylor.

This basic plot takes a backstage to most of the time we watch Zoolander. At most, maybe seven scenes end up directly dealing with this plot, with the rest spent making fun of the modeling industry, as well as having a few throwaway gags. Derek has a father played by Jon Voight, although his character had no reason to be included except to make us laugh. And I did laugh, especially when Voight says that he isn't a professional actor, all while attempting not to wink at the camera.

How Ben Stiller managed to become the best male model in the world is still beyond me. His character had apparently been in the industry for a long time, although an even more attractive actor would have been more believable. Fabio makes a cameo appearance at one point, and even he would have been more believable as the top male model. I mean, even switching the roles of Wilson and Stiller would have kept me from wondering as much as I did. This is one film where criticizing an actor's appearance is fair game, and Stiller did not look the part in my eyes.

At least Stiller gives his characters personalities, unique voices, and little subtleties that make them hilarious. While he may not look like a model, Stiller did a good job acting like a moron who can't pronounce any word with more than two syllables. Wilson and Ferrell managed to not make me hate their characters, which I appreciated. There are also a ton of celebrity cameos in Zoolander, even if most of them end up being pointless shout-outs.

But the most important part of a comedy is whether or not I was having fun. And for the most part, I was. I laughed quite a lot with Zoolander, and to me, that means it's a good film. The problems it has end up not being all that important, because each scene was usually good for a laugh or two. I was enjoying watching this film, which is what a comedy is supposed to do, even if it doesn't flow all that well.

The problem with largely ignoring the plot means that there's little to drive your characters, and the pacing feels way off. Many scenes also feel like they are there with the sole intention to make you laugh. While they accomplish that goal, skilled writers and directors manage to work the plot into these types of scenes, instead of having them feel secular.

I also felt like the ending came far too quickly and felt like it should have wrapped things up even better than it did. Some characters needed a bigger conclusion, and even the much talked about assassination ends up leaving us wanting more. Zoolander's runtime was not even 90 minutes, and while I wouldn't claim that it needed to be much more than it is, a few more minutes at the end would have helped.

Zoolander is a film that needed to tie in its plot more often, cast a different actor than Ben Stiller as its lead, and needed to finish much stronger. Despite all this, it's funny, and that's by far the most important point in a comedy. Since I ended up laughing a lot more than I thought I would with a comedy about a stupid person, I have to give Zoolander a pass. I simply had fun, and that's all you need with this type of film.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Mr. Wiggles on Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:02 am

Did you review Submarine?

I swear someone on here mentioned it maybe a month back. But the search bar is useless and only 8 pages of posts are recorded in stats.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Nov 19, 2011 6:49 am

I haven't, no.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Terria on Sat Nov 19, 2011 11:58 am

That might have been me.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Mr. Wiggles on Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:16 pm

Why have you seen it?

If so what did you think?

Need a more balanced opinion...

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Sat Nov 19, 2011 2:59 pm

Marter wrote:
Goodfellas
"Based on a true story." Great. I love it when films feel the need to tell us this. Why?
Cause it's interesting.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Sat Nov 19, 2011 11:42 pm

HOLY SHIT DRIVE IS A FUCKING AMAZING FILM

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Sun Nov 20, 2011 1:13 am

Really? My dad said he thought it was utter shit. Then again, he and I rarely agree on films and he fell asleep during Hana-bi, so I'm more inclined to trust you.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:05 am

Fight Club
Okay, so there's this guy whose name we don't get to learn, but he's played by Edward Norton. This guy hates his life and is waiting for it to end. He works for a car dealership, and has to fly all over the world, meeting all sorts of "single-serving" people on airplanes. They're "single-serving" because they only serve one purpose, and after you land, you never see them again. "Clever," I thought. So did another passenger.

This other guy is played by Brad Pitt, but he gets a name. Said name is Tyler Durden, a man who makes soap for a living, while also spending time as a waiter. The pair chat, and Tyler gives our protagonist his business card, because that's the friendly thing to do. Our lead, who I'll refer to as "Narrator" from this point forward because he narrates the film, comes home to a burning apartment building. The police speculate that it his oven caused the fire. It sucks for him, but he calls his new-found friend. They go out for drinks, and at the end of the night, wind up in a fight. Not because they were disagreeing about anything, but because they wanted to feel what it was like. Narrator ends up spending the night, and the forthcoming nights, at Tyler's rundown, lousy excuse for a house.

Soon enough, the characters are fighting again, still outside the same bar. This goes on for weeks, we're told. They show up once every week and just have at one another. Spectators even start to appear. One of them asks to join in. Eventually, they're all fighting in the basement of the bar, have rules, and have become a fully blown cult. The leaders of this cult are Narrator and Tyler, although the latter seems to becoming the sole leader, while Narrator just goes about his life.

After a while, this underground fight club has grown into a nationwide phenomenon. Well, at the very least, there are a bunch of other fight clubs starting up all over the country. And the people in the clubs aren't just fighting anymore; instead, they're performing tasks that go part in parcel with Tyler's beliefs about the world. They're essentially becoming terrorists, and listen to their leader with complete obedience without ever giving it a second thought.

This continues for a while and encompasses the rest of the film's runtime. There's also a girl named Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) who drops in whenever she pleases, although her character isn't all that important. This is a two-man show with Norton and Pitt, with Pitt being the charismatic anarchist who doesn't believe in material possessions, and Norton being the depressive one who needs to find out how to really live.

Oh, and there's a twist ending. It's one that I'll admit surprised me, although it didn't really change much of the plot much. It was just kind of there, made just to surprise you, but it doesn't change how you see the earlier portions of the film. You admire that you were deceived for as long as you were, but that's about as deep as the twist goes. If it hadn't occurred, you wouldn't feel differently about the film as a whole, and it doesn't improve it.

For most of the time that Fight Club is playing, I was having a good time. It has an engaging story that deals with some interesting themes, characters and situations, and it kept me from getting bored. The fights that the title implies don't actually show up all that frequently, which I found surprising. The club itself gets more or less forgotten about after the halfway point, with no real fights occurring after this point. That's fine, although I realized that after the club decided to become a simple cult, the film got progressively less interesting.

See, in the earlier parts, Narrator's narrations were humorous, and the characters were all interesting. We wanted to see more of them, and we wanted to learn about them. The script was sharp and the situations fun. Everyone has a good time. But then the members of the fight club end up becoming like brainwashed servants, and the only depth of character comes from Narrator's, who becomes less interesting the more we learn about him. The humor also dies down as we progress through the story and Narrator stops talking directly to us.

The performances are quite good though, with each of the primary actors giving strong performances. I believed that Norton was a depressive insomniac, while Brad Pitt embodied a charming and muscular cool guy. Bonham Carter gives us a performance as a chain-smoking woman with a death wish, while Meat Loaf plays a man who had testicular cancer and -- just see for yourself.

The director is David Fincher, who gives each scene such amazing depth, while also keeping the pacing tight. There aren't moments where you'll be bored, even if some people would argue that the violence he chooses to show goes over-the-top. I'm not in that camp, although there was one scene that seemed a tad unnecessary, where one character pounds another with fists for a good 30 seconds after the victim is already bloodied on the ground.

Fight Club is a well-made, brilliantly paced and superbly acted film that won't leave you bored. While it does get slightly less entertaining as it progresses, the story and performances will keep you interested. There's a lot to take in, and the violence will be unbearable for some, but I found it to be incredibly entertaining, even if I thought the twists ending was a little pointless. Whatever. The point is, it's a fun film that you'll probably want to watch more than once, because of how enjoyable it was the first time, and because you'll probably miss some of the subtleties injected into each scene.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by reg42 on Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:38 am

Fight Club was good, though when you ask most people what they liked about it, they'll talk about the twist, which wasn't that good.

I dunno, maybe I'm just quite apathetic about it because before I saw it everyone was in my face going "YOU MUST WATCH FIGHT CLUB ITS THE BEST MOVIE EVER". Same with Pulp Fiction actually.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:40 am

I feel kinda the same way. It was an okay film.

But I loved Pulp Fiction.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Sun Nov 20, 2011 1:04 pm

I just really like the direction. Nothing really looked the same as Fight Club when it came out.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:12 am

Dude, Where's My Car?
I still can't believe how much fun I had with Dude, Where's My Car?, a movie about stupid people who can't remember what they did the previous night. However, we learn that it was something quite impressive. We meet our two leads, Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott), who manage to escape the travesty of a hangover, but have no recollection of the previous night. They're also fascinated with Animal Planet.

There is a message on their answering machine, which is from their girlfriends, twins named Wilma and Wanda (Marla Sokoloff and Jennifer Garner). It's their anniversary, and last night, our two leads trashed their girlfriends' house, leaving them to clean it up. It's okay though, they figure, because there are awesome presents in Jesse's car. So they go outside to get to the care, but, like the title indicates, it isn't there. The two ask each other questions like "Dude, Where's My Car?" and "Where's your car, dude?" over and over again. I didn't think I'd find that funny, but I did.

The plot revolves around attempting to find the car, figure out just what took place the previous night, while also being pressured into finding other things, like a certain Continuum Transfunctioner that multiple groups claim they know the whereabouts of. Of course, they have no idea, but we're told that such a device could destroy, or save, the universe. A night of binge drinking may end up having dire consequences for us all, and it's up to two slackers to find the device and save us. Oh, and locating that car so they appease their girlfriends might be a good idea too.

The brunt of the jokes come from both the incompetence of our two lead characters, as well as the fact that they don't remember anything about the previous night. There's also a bunch of throwaway and running gags. Both of these styles end up working fairly well, even if the constant repetition of sentences does become tiresome by the time the film ends.

Here's what we do know about the previous night: Jesse ended up having some "fun" with a girl named Christie (Kristy Swanson), time was spent at a strip club, they were given a briefcase containing hundreds of thousands of dollars, they might know where the Continuum Transfunctioner is -- the device that everyone lusts over -- and they got a hole-in-one on the eighteenth hole of a mini golf course. What a night!

If you figured out that this is a juvenile comedy, well, you're not wrong. Those looking for intelligent jokes, or anything that will challenge you mentally, will have to look elsewhere. About the most intelligent thing that this movie has to say is that an ostrich can run at an average speed of 27 miles per hour. But even a quick research trip informs me that it's actually 31 miles per hour, so perhaps the most intelligent thing truly said is "dude" or "sweet" or -- actually, that's about as large a vocabulary as anyone gets here.

I don't usually like movies where the characters are as stupid as they come. Usually this means that the plot will be propelled by the stupidity, and that any real person would not have the plot drag on as long as it does. If there is a mystery to be solved, the average person would solve it early on, while the stupid person takes an entire movie, and it's just frustrating to watch.

I was so happy to see that this isn't often the case this time around. See, these people are stupid, charmingly so, but they only act that way when they're interacting with other people. When all they're doing is trying to find out where the car -- or the Continuum Transfunctioner -- is, they act fairly rational, taking realistic steps in order to find them. Because their stupidity is not propelling us forward, or holding us back, we're able to have a lot of fun watching them act like morons.

The plot is very basic, and is more or less summed up in the title. But, Dude, Where's My Car? does end up having a fun save-the-world mission tacked on, which I found a lot of fun. Everything gets tied in nicely, even a lot of jokes you initially assume are on-offs. Having everything get tied together at the end is always a good touch, especially with how much is introduced within the concise 83 minutes that it runs. And there is a lot, especially once the Continuum Transfunctioner gets introduced. I adore that name, by the way. It just sounds great!

Seann William Scott and Ashton Kutcher are charming in their lead roles. You can believe that they're the kind of people who would get so wasted that they can't remember anything about the previous night. You can also believe that they're as stupid as their characters, so much so that you often wonder how much acting was involved. (Why yes, that was a cheap shot. How good of you to notice.) But that doesn't matter, because they work in their roles, and are willing to take some risks in order to make us laugh.

Since I had fun for almost all of the time that Dude, Where's My Car? was on-screen, I didn't notice many problems. It definitely felt low-budget, although that ended up being part of the charm. Some of the jokes did fall flat, although I cannot recall them at this point. Nor can I remember much of the film, except that I was laughing quite a lot, and that is all that matters. It's forgettable, but that just means you can enjoy it again when you decide it's time to watch the adventures of Jesse and Chester.

In the end, I had a really good -- surprisingly good, in fact -- time with Dude, Where's My Car?. Most of the jokes worked, and I ended up laughing out loud, instead of just giggling, a few times. Granted, it's completely forgettable and the low-intelligence jokes will not impress some, but since the plot isn't propelled by stupidity, but instead simply contains stupid, yet charming, people, I had a blast.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:19 am

Insomnia
Like the title indicates, Insomnia is about a man who has difficulty sleeping, although the man is only the person who drives the film. This is a murder-mystery film, one without any big twists and the only thing that it does differently is asking the question "do the ends justify the means" when looking at the plot after it is resolved. Apart from that, and the performance given by Al Pacino in the lead role, it's nothing special.

Insomnia takes place in Alaska, in the middle of the summer. The sun doesn't go down, at least, not for long, and this can be difficult to adjust to when you're sleeping in a hotel room without blinds that close all the way. Detective Will Dormer (Pacino) and his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) have been called up North in order to help in the investigation of a murdered 17-year-old girl named Kay Connell (Crystal Lowe). There are no suspects so far, and, like young local Detective Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank) tells him, most homicides are solved within the first 72 hours, and it's already been 48 hours.

They go to her house, and they look through her stuff. They find out she has a boyfriend, and they talk to him. Will is a smart person, we learn, and he's dealt with a lot of these cases before. He knows what to look for, what to say and who to talk to. I usually like it when our protagonist is an intelligent one, because it means that the film ends up playing to the strengths of that intellect. When the body is looked at, we notice bruises from the murder, but also older ones from before. Boyfriend becomes prime suspect number one.

They decide to watch where she was found. Someone shows up, and they trap him in the cabin. But he manages to escape through the bottom, and a chase ensues. It's foggy, a shot goes off, and Detective Hap Eckhart dies. Pulling the trigger was Will, which is a shame, because his death will look suspicious, due to some deal-cutting down at Internal Affairs which may or may not undermine Will's entire career. Guilt is what causes Will his difficulty in sleeping, although I would guess adjusting to Alaska time and the sun not setting would also be a reason.

At one point, he receives a call, presumably from the murderer. He says that he saw Will shoot his partner, and that he could blow it open at any moment. He wants to cut a deal too, and the film ends up toying with whether or not Will should make a deal, and also trying to actually solve the aforementioned murder, which actually takes a back-seat for most of the film as we deal with the psyche of our main character.

In the end, this is your standard murder-mystery plot where the killer is revealed earlier than you'd think, and also isn't surprising given who is listed in the cast. The only thing it does differently is focusing more on the lead than the plot, although a lot of other films have done this too.

And yet, it's still interesting. Insomnia is an intriguing film that will keep you watching because you want to see what decisions Will makes along the way in order to solve this murder. You don't care who does it, because we're told almost mid-way through. But you want to see whether or not the killer is caught and gets justice done, or if the threats made on the phone will be followed through.

I think that the main reason that all of this works is because of the great work put in by Al Pacino. He owns this part, and he made a very believable cop. The things he relies on that he puts into his performances end up working very well for a sleep-deprived cop, and the supporting cast keeps up with him. Swank does a good job as the novice detective, while Robin Williams managed to not annoy me as a novel writer.

Thankfully, like the main character, Insomnia is not a film to insult its audience's intelligence. While it's not really a film you have to think about all that hard, you do have to pay attention because things are only going to be explained once. After that, the film assumes that you're on-board and ready to play ball. If you're not, you still won't likely get lost, but you'll get far less out of the experience. It's a lot of fun if you keep up, but will lose some of its luster if you get lost.

However, after we find out who the killer is, and what the motivations behind the murder are, we do lose a little bit of interest. We know who did it, or at least, who claims to do it, so the entire reason that Will is in Alaska becomes moot. We are really only watching for one reason at this point, and that's to see the one big choice at the end that we know our lead will have to make. That's it. Other elements become superfluous, and are just padding the runtime and getting in our way of the conclusion.

The whole insomnia portion of the film also feels kind of out of place, and doesn't really impact the story in any way. It pops up a couple of times to put Will's life in danger, but that's it. Apart from almost nodding off, or seeing something tat isn't there, Will seems fine, and is still far smarter than the average human being. (And this is, at the end, not sleeping for 6 nights in a row. Or so he claims.)

Insomnia is a solid murder-mystery that doesn't do anything special, but is an easy watch thanks to the intelligent main character, as well as the moral choice that is asked at the end. It doesn't break the mold, and it doesn't try to be anything more than a fun thrill ride. But for what it is, it's enjoyable and will keep you entertained for a couple of hours.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:41 pm

Furburt wrote:Really? My dad said he thought it was utter shit. Then again, he and I rarely agree on films and he fell asleep during Hana-bi, so I'm more inclined to trust you.
Drive is very much like a Kitano film. It's a slow-paced thriller-drama, where the violence is very sudden, over very quickly, and HOLY SHIT AWESOME.

The director made Bronson as well

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:42 pm

Also Fight Club is the fucking shit because it was THE guy film of the decade. No, of the CENTURY.

All teenage boys need to watch it as a first step into adulthood.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:45 pm

Why, pray tell?
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:47 pm

Simply because it is the first real sophisticated introduction into the male psyche of dominance, non-conformism, animality and love between men. It is intelligent and powerful enough to reach into the soul of almost every young teenage boy that watches it and make them think, think so much more deeper than they ever have thought.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Wed Nov 23, 2011 1:45 am

I think it's a hymn to the generation that never stopped being teenagers.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Walnutman on Wed Nov 23, 2011 1:47 am

Meatloaf bitch tits. That is all.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Nov 23, 2011 2:00 am

Stan Helsing
Despite what a lot of people say about it, I still really enjoyed Van Helsing. It was such a fun movie that I don't honestly understand the hatred for it. Despite that, I know that a lot of people didn't like it. Stan Helsing, just like you'd assume from the title, is a parody of Van Helsing, but only in title and in the lead character. In terms of plot and the majority of the situations, the two are nothing alike.

In Stan Helsing, there's a character of that name who works at a local video store. He has to first deal with a giant cockroach, or his boss tells him he'll be fired. Then, he has to bring some movies to a woman in a town, despite having a party to go to that night. That's about as deep as the plot goes. Stan, and a group of his friends end up getting trapped in a town while going to drop off these videos, and wind up getting trapped in a town with a bunch of psychopaths dressed up as famous monster/slasher movie characters.

Or at least, that's what I assumed was the case. There are poorly costumed versions of Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, Chuckie, Michael Myers, and a couple of others. If Stan Helsing could have gotten one thing right, it should have been the costuming. Even that could have been done just for a few thousand dollars, and would have drastically improved the overall product. Actually, maybe "drastically" is a tad strong. It would have helped though.

Our cast consists of Stan (Steve Howey), a dumb blonde (Desi Lydic) who keeps changing her outfit, a brunette (Diora Baird) who at one point in the past dated Stan, and a chunky man (Kenan Thompson) dressed as Superman. This is also as deep as their characters get. Leslie Nielsen also makes an appearance later on, but is drastically underused and needed much more time on-screen. Or a more prominent character. Or maybe a better script, plot and project, because he deserved better.

Somewhat more important is the lack of anything humorous or clever. If this had been a movie that actually had subtle (or even not so subtle) references to Van Helsing, and they were funny, I probably would have had a lot of fun. Considering how much I enjoyed Van Helsing, and since I'm a good enough sport about these types of things, I would have appreciated having a laugh at it expense. But the few references to Van Helsing are not funny at all.

This is more of a general horror movie parody than anything else. There are a bunch of references to more well-known horror movies, but even those aren't funny. The play between the four characters actually ends up being the most enjoyable part, however, that's not all that fun either. I laughed a handful of times throughout, but I won't remember any of the jokes or humorous moments in a few more minutes.

This is an empty film, one that fails on all levels. It isn't funny, there is no creativity or intelligence to the script, nor are the actors any good in their roles. Here are what they need to do: The girls need to act like idiots and scream when something remotely scary happens, while the guys have to act like idiots and scream whenever something remotely -- you get the idea. Oh, and Stan's actor needs to occasionally try to look heroic, which looks even sillier than you might think.

This doesn't even end up being true enough to Van Helsing to act like a parody. I mean, it's not all that good regardless, but if had at least tried to follow a story that was similar to Van Helsing's, you could at least say that the filmmakers tried to make a parody, and juts failed in the execution. But the attempt doesn't even look like it was there. You don't need to include everything, but putting in some of the bigger moments wouldn't have been too difficult. You don't even need to spend a lot of money to do it, because using bad CGI could be part of the point.

I'm just incredibly frustrated when something like this comes along, promising to be a funny movie making fun of something I really like, but ends up being a terrible movie with barely more than a tangential connection to the source material. I felt defeated by the time Stan Helsing ended, and if that's how I feel after sitting through a comedy, you know it wasn't a good one.

Look, I didn't have any fun with Stan Helsing, and I'm someone who often enjoys so-called "bad" comedies. This is one that definitely deserves the panning that its received, and there's absolutely no reason for you to watch this movie. Just let it go away, and I'll keep hoping for a true parody of Van Helsing. Or at least, something that's fun to watch, has a decent enough story, or is in any possible way enjoyable. Because Stan Helsing certainly wasn't any of those things, and was one of the worst movies I can remember watching.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:24 am

The Invasion
In 1955, a novel called The Body Snatchers was released. As of writing, there have been four film adaptations of that novel, with certain changes being made each iteration. Movies need to keep with the times, after all. The fourth adaptation is titled The Invasion, and it stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, although the latter is only "starring" in the sense that his name gets to be on the poster and advertised in hopes to draw in more viewers.

We begin with a space ship crashing to Earth. For some reason, a virus has attached itself to the destroyed shuttle. It infects one person, and then another, and then a great deal more. You know how these things work. Eventually everyone and their mother are infected. The infected wind up becoming emotionless and -- actually, that's about it. They're exactly the same as they always were, except they don't sweat and don't show emotion. Oh, and then there's also the fact that they'll relentlessly chase anyone who hasn't been infected. How they manage not to break a sweat during a chase scene is beyond me.

We meet Carol Bennell (Kidman), who is a psychiatrist. One of her patients mentions that her husband no longer acts like her husband. We know why, but nobody in the movie does. Carol begins noticing things are wrong, especially when her ex-husband, who she claims she hasn't seen in four years, moves back into town and wants to spend time with her son, Oliver (Jackson Bond). And then more people start becoming infected. Carol and her friend Ben (Craig) see someone get infected firsthand, and that scares them, as it should.

Because all infection movies have different rules, here are the ones this time around. The virus can be spread by any contact with it, meaning that if it gets put in your drink, or if you swap body fluids with someone who has it, you'll become infected. But you won't actually "turn" until you enter REM sleep. If you can stay awake, you'll stay completely human. Of course, one of the prominent characters gets infected at one point, and ends up having to fight to stay awake. Another claims that you can "easily" stay awake for a week. I'm not so sure about that, but I suppose those are comforting words to someone who could fall asleep at any moment.

There are moments in The Invasion that don't make a lot of sense, unless of course you're in a medical profession. If that's the case, there's a good chance you'll know that a lot of things said are actually false, or couldn't work scientifically. That comes with the territory here, especially considering we're talking about an alien virus. It would have been nice for a simpleton version of the science involved though, but we never get that. I still don't know what exactly makes a select number of the population immune. I think it was some variation of chickenpox, but why that makes you immune is only explained in jargon.

For a lot of the time, we watch people going from place to place, trying to avoid the zombies that people become once infected. This isn't much of a threat, considering that they'll only run if they suspect you of being free of infection, and fooling them is as easy as walking slowly and keeping a semi-straight face. They're easy to kill, with a simple shot in the face or heart doing the trick. And if you really want to stop them from turning, wake them up while they sleep; they'll go into anaphylactic shock.

Despite the enemies not being all that terrifying, there's a lot of intense moments scattered throughout The Invasion. My heart was pounding for quite a lot of this film, and it definitely doesn't linger. It doesn't reach two hours in length, and that's a good thing, as it doesn't need to run for a long time. It comes, gives a few tense moments, and then it leaves. Does it have much on its mind? No, not really, which means it doesn't reach the upper echelon of science fiction films, but it's busy enough to keep you entertained for just over an hour and a half.

There are moments, however, that fail to give us anything. No excitement, no thrills, nothing intellectually stimulating -- just there. Whether it be to explain the plot, or to set things up, these moments come around a little too often for my liking. Most movies have some of them, but the good ones don't make them readily apparent. This film comes to a complete stop whenever they pop up, and it takes a while for the momentum to be regained after they do.

The actors give it their all, but apart from Kidman, everyone is underused. Daniel Craig needed a much bigger role, as did Jeffrey Wright. For a child actor, Jackson Bond did a pretty good job, largely because by the end of the film, I wasn't annoyed with him. However, when actors are supposed to be pretending to not have emotions -- and I'm mostly looking at Kidman here -- it was quite apparent that they still did. I would have figured that people infected by an alien virus would be not be fooled so easily, but I guess it isn't that strong a virus anyway.

The Invasion is watchable, but that's about as good as it gets. There are great moments, and ones that really get your heart racing, but every now and then, we come to a screeching halt, and it takes a long time to get the momentum that was building up back. It has a good cast and a good premise, but is predictable, doesn't have great enemies, and doesn't use its cast to the best of its ability.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:56 pm

Little Miss Sunshine
Supposedly, Little Miss Sunshine is a comedy. If so, it's one of the most downtrodden, dank and dark comedies I can remember watch, while also being largely devoid of comedic moments. That alone doesn't make it a bad movie, but apart from a few fun parts and a somewhat happy ending, this isn't a movie you'd watch to make you laugh. Or maybe I just didn't really get the type of humor it was going for; it's not like that hasn't happened before.

The story begins with a dysfunctional family dinner. We get to meet all of the family members right off the bat, and I noticed a lot of characterization, even if none of it is developed upon later. First, is the father, Richard (Greg Kinnear), a failing motivational speaker; Uncle Frank (Steve Carell), a gay scholar who recently tried to kill himself; Grandpa Edwin (Alan Arkin), who fought in World War II and is now a heroin addict; the cheerful Olive (Abigail Breslin) who wants to win a beauty contest; the incredibly depressive, yet silent 15-year-old Dwayne (Paul Dano); and finally, there's the mother, Sheryl (Toni Collette), who is just trying to hold everything together, and also maybe quit smoking.

After some fighting, they realize a message is on the answering machine. Olive, who had entered some sort of beauty pageant before we enter, actually won it (after the real winner was disqualified), and as a result is allowed to compete in an even more prolific pageant held in California. The family doesn't have any money to fly, so they all hop in the Volkswagen T2 Microbus and head out on a road trip. Nobody is all that happy except for Olive, who is happy just to get the chance to compete in this competition. You know how it works from here, although if you haven't experienced a couple of road movies by now, I won't spoil anything more right now.

By my count, there are 5 unhappy people, and one that is cheerful. Or at least, that's how it should be, but Frank doesn't ever seem that upset to me. He recounts his story of why he wanted to depart from the world at the dinner table, but apart from not being allowed to use sharp tools or sleep alone, the suicide attempt is forgotten about most of the time, and I would argue he's the second happiest person in the vehicle. However, that's not saying much, as nobody else cracks so much as a smile for most of their time on-screen.

By the end, yes, some things have changed. You'd expect them to, and it all centers around the little ball of sunshine that is Olive. We eventually get to see the pageant that the family is going toward, and despite not being the fittest or the best looking contestant, she wins over some people with her performance. Unfortunately, this comes far too late for it to leave a real impact, and the end of the film didn't give me the closure that I wanted. It ends abruptly without answering some of the questions I wanted resolved. And since most of the experience isn't all that pleasurable, this is a large misstep.

The so-called "inspiration" from the ending isn't really all that inspiring either. The moments in the film where the father spouts random motivational quotes ended up being more inspiring than the ending, and considering the father isn't exactly supposed to be great at his job, that isn't a good thing. He constantly tells us that being a "winner" is the best possible thing to strive for, while "losers" are people to spit on and insult. I don't recall if he actually specifies how you determine which category you fit into, but he goes so far as to tell Olive that eating ice cream could make you fat, and that would make her a loser.

We feel sad for Olive in this case, and we also think about how terrible it would be to grow up in that environment, especially when you're not the best-looking or slimmest person alive. Being constantly told things like that could do real damage to a developing mind, and I know that I wouldn't have liked to grow up in a home like that. I was thinking about this for a while after that scene, but that was more because my own thoughts were more entertaining than watching the Volkswagen fail to start for the umpteenth time.

The most entertaining character in Little Miss Sunshine is the grandfather, although (spoiler alert) he doesn't make it to the end. He's removed from the picture at around the half-way point, and as a result, we no longer get politically incorrect dialogue whenever he feels like it. This was another misstep in my eyes, because that's where the funniest moments come from. Watching him say things that you don't want a 7-year-old to hear is funny, as you get to watch the shocked faces of everyone around him. But then he leaves and we get to watch the more boring characters travel on their journey doing not much of interest.

I feel like I've been quite hard on Little Miss Sunshine, and truth be told it isn't a bad movie, but there's just nothing here to differentiate it from other road movies or make it a film you need to watch. It's more depressing than funny, the characters aren't all that interesting, and even though it's supposed to end on an inspirational note, I didn't feel inspired. Maybe the humor just didn't mesh well with me, but I honestly didn't find much of this film funny. It has its moments, but if you're taking my advice, I'd say to skip Little Miss Sunshine.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:58 pm

Alice in Wonderland
If I had to sum up Alice in Wonderland in one word, it would be "boring," or one of its synonyms. That's the one word that comes to mind when I think back about the time I spent watching it, although "irritating" is another one that I might use. I was frustrated and bored by Alice in Wonderland, which is a shame, because I had high hopes for it. I like the cast, I've been a fan of some of the director's previous works, and it had a great visual idea.

Unfortunately, it falls apart near the middle, and never puts itself back together again. It's like Humpty-Dumpty in that respect, although now I'm mixing children stories. Anything it had going for it gets removed by the half way point, and by the end, I was sick and tired of everything that was still on-screen. With that said, thanks to how unique it looks, it's a movie that you'll have trouble getting out of your mind or forgetting about. It's definitely a mixed bag, although the plot and characters undermine the visual style and world that's created for us.

Nineteen-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is attending a party, when she is met with a marriage proposal. She's expected to say yes, but instead decides to go chase a rabbit down a hole. I mean, what else would you do in her situation? She ends up finding her way into Underland, a magical place where all animals can talk, people can have heads in any shape, and everything is made of CGI. Alice wanders around for a little while, fights with some of the native creatures, and ends up finding her way to the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), who has very long legs. There are also two queens in the land, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway).

We eventually find out that there's a prophecy involving Alice. The Red Queen is currently in power, and she's evil because she mistreats everyone whenever she gets the opportunity. She owns a dragon-like creature called the Jabberwocky, which is supposedly the reason that nobody has tried to overtake her. The White Queen is the good one, as she always looks like she's stoned out of her mind, and would never hurt a fly. Legend tells that Alice will come along and slay the Jabberwocky for the people of the kingdom.

There are a great deal of other characters too, all voiced by pretty prominent actors. Crispin Glover, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall and Alan Rickman all lend their voices to this production, although who voiced which character isn't all that important. Everything is full of CGI, with Alice being the only fully human character after we get to Underland.

The first red-flag for me went off when I saw the Mad Hatter, who sometimes has a Scottish accent, and sometimes doesn't. I guess that's how the "mad" part is being represented here. He annoyed me, and I wanted him to be a one-off character, so that we could spend more time with Alice. Instead, he essentially becomes the main character, dominating the screen for most of the time he appears.

The next red-flag came when I found out the true plot, involving the prophecy and promised epic battle. There isn't a lot of action throughout the film, so why did it have to end with a battle scene? It does, just as you'd expect, but even that doesn't make a lot of sense. The prophecy -- something that everyone believes in and doesn't doubt for a second -- states that Alice will be the one to set everyone free. Why are other characters following her into battle? They believe in the prophecy, and if so, then Alice won't need help to kill this dragon, because it's been predetermined.

The secondary characters, including Alice, end up getting pushed aside. Alice, despite being in the film's title and the key for the entire plot, gets less time than she should, right up until the end when the inevitable battle with the Jabberwocky, and the Red Queen's army, occurs. Depp is a frequent collaborator with director Tim Burton, and it shows. Once his character is introduced, there are few moments when the Mad Hatter is left alone. When he does disappear, we actually start to pick up momentum and get some mileage out of Alice finding out what Underland is about.

I wanted to learn a lot about this world, and to the film's credit, we explore it a great deal. We learn about its rules, nuances, creatures, and pretty much everything that there is to find out. This works to its advantage, almost enough to make it worth watching. This is a world that is designed so beautifully and imaginatively that you'll remember it after you finish watching Alice in Wonderland. In fact, it might well be only thing you do remember, and rightly so, because everything else isn't worth the effort.

Alice in Wonderland bored and infuriated me, largely because of how much potential is wasted. A great world is crafted for us, but instead of focusing on it, or a character who serves as our liaison to it, we pay more attention to Johnny Depp occasionally putting on a Scottish accent, while being involved in a plot that has no surprises and little reason for you to care. This is a movie where the world is much better than anyone involved in it, and although it does get some focus, there isn't enough there for us to be wholly captivated, nor is there enough to make it worth a watch.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by reg42 on Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:54 am

Such a disappointing movie.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Nov 27, 2011 1:29 am

Die Hard
Die Hard is a film that works because it isn't solely a brainless action film. Oh, it has scenes where the brain isn't needed, but it has a smart villain and a smart hero, and the interactions between the two -- which happen mostly over walkie-talkies -- are brilliant. It also takes its time to tie up any loose ends to the plot threads it begins mid-way, which makes it clock in at just over two hours long. I didn't mind this runtime though, because I was having a really good time.

Our story begins with John McClane (Bruce Willis) on an airplane. He talks to the person sitting beside him, who tells him that the best way to make yourself feel good after a long flight is to take your shoes off and curl up your feet. Of course, this plays a large role later on. John is heading to a Christmas party at his wife's workplace. Her name is Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), although she's now using the surname Gennaro, since she and John, a New York City cop, haven't been living together. They fight just about right when they see one another, although their fighting doesn't get to last very long.

You see, this is a special building that has a vault on its 30th floor -- the same floor that the party is happening on. Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his group of "terrorists" decide to crash the party, hold up his new-found hostages, and attempt to break into this safe. John manages to get away from the group, and is now the sole person able to do anything about this situation. He has to figure out how to get the police to help, all while making sure that none of the hostages die. He also has to worry about himself, because he'll spend most of the next hour and a half being chased around this building. He has to do it barefoot too, because he decided to listen to his airplane neighbor.

Eventually, the cops do get involved, and they get to communicate with John via the radio. Hans can talk with them as well, which means that anything John says can be used against him. He doesn't want Hans to know that his wife is down there, and as a result, can't tell the police anything about him personally. His liaison in the force is one Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), a shy cop who is always overshadowed by the Police Chief. In fact, the Police Chief decides to be the contrarian seemingly just to boost his ego, or something like that. Why he acts like such a moron isn't actually explained, and unfortunately, he never got what was coming to him.

Hans is the most interesting character in Die Hard, even if we don't get to learn much about him. How he got into this situation, how he planned everything -- none of it is explained to us. We get what we see on-screen, and that's it. We're okay with that though, because this is an intelligent, witty man that we're dealing with, and we want to watch him for as long as we can. John McClane is less interesting, although he seems just as smart. He always seems to find himself in precarious situations, and instead of shooting in order to escape, he often has to think his way out. They're like puzzles, although if he doesn't solve them in time, he'll be dead. That is motivation for you.

Of the action scenes, we get a few kinds. We get a bunch of shootouts, filled with machine gun and pistol fire. There are also a couple of fist fights, as well as some explosions. Some of them are inventive, and they're always entertaining. There isn't a single dull moment in this film, and that's important in an action film. Even when the only thing that happens is talking, we're captivated largely because of Alan Rickman's performance as Hans Gruber. To call him one of the better villains in action movie history would not require massaging the truth.

I also enjoyed the plot and premise. We start out with a good idea, although the possibilities after that are endless. Anything that you can think of that could happen given the situation could be written into the script, and this means you never run out of things to have happen. I also liked how it ties up all of the plot threads it starts, or, at the very least, it mentions them. Director John McTiernan doesn't often introduce elements without at least touching on them later on, which is a nice touch in my eyes.

The larger set-pieces are also saved until later in the film. Some films open with a bang, but never manage to achieve the same level of greatness afterward. We open strong here, not with explosions, but with the takeover of the building. Then we're able to experience bigger and bigger action scenes as the film progresses, while still giving us time to breathe in between. The pacing is another thing to praise here; it isn't just a film that throws action scene after action scene at you. You get time to get to know the characters, and have them communicate.

Die Hard is an excellent example of how to make an action film. Almost everything works. The plot, premise and execution are all great, the action scenes are inventive and exciting, while the actors do a good job in their roles. The script is sharp, the pacing brilliant, and it all adds up to a great action film that will keep you engaged because it features smart characters. The only thing that needed removing was the awful Police Chief, although that's a flaw that is easily overlooked. If you haven't, definitely give this film a watch.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Sun Nov 27, 2011 1:39 am

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Nov 28, 2011 12:56 am

Die Hard 2
Sometimes, when a film does really well, it gets a sequel that's quite a bit worse. That's the case here with Die Hard 2, a movie that ends up not being all good, especially compared to its predecessor. Here, it follows the same basic plot, except that instead of a tall building, the bad guys take over an airport. The only real difference is that the important character that our hero is trying to save is stuck on an airplane unable to land, and fuel is running out.

It's this key difference that gives Die Hard 2 a sense of urgency. We once again find John McClane (Bruce Willis) as our lead, and he needs to save his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) for a second time. However, we get shots of her in the plane interspersed between John trying to save the day, and it ends up with her character seeming pointless. Even if John's wife wasn't on the plane, he still would have tried to save it, and having her sitting there, sipping champagne, doesn't keep us interested or make us sympathize.

The plan this time around involves a man named Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) deciding that taking over an airport would be fun. There's a plane coming in that is holding Captain Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz), who Stuart wants, although the reasons why aren't made especially clear. Or maybe I had just stopped caring by the point it was described. He shuts down the tower, severs all communication between the airport and the planes, and then, just for good measure, shuts down the runways. The planes are forced to just circulate the airport until power can be restored.

If you guessed that John McClane will be the one to try to restore power and hunt down the villains, you guessed correctly. He begins the film at the airport, sees a couple of suspicious men, and kills one of them, while the other escapes. He then finds himself in police headquarters trying to find out why nothing is being done about them. The police figure that these two people were simple thieves, while John things that the airport is going to be a target. And then it was, because heroes aren't wrong in these types of situations.

In the first Die Hard, the plot had John McClane trapped in a building while trying to save the hostages also trapped. This time, he's free to leave at any moment, and the local police actually try to force him out. One of them is even more unhelpful than the one in the first film, which became increasingly annoying as the film progressed. They've heard of what John did in the previous film, so why not let him help? He is a cop after all. But no, they just decide to push him aside even after he's done something good. It just doesn't make sense, just like in the last film.

John McClane's initial actions don't make all that much sense either. He sees a man with a gun, and instead of alerting the local authorities, he decides to chase the man himself. Why? Is his ego that large after what he did in the first film? A few other characters seem to treat him that way, so maybe that's a possibility. Or maybe he's realized that he's in an action film, and that it's his job to initiate all of the action scenes.

He's also become somewhat self-aware, often wondering how he could get into this type of situation a second time. This happens far too often as well, and even though he did this in the first film, the dialogue was clever. The witis vacant this time around, with character interactions being little more than exposition instead of filled with fun interactions.

The villain this time around is also uninteresting. He's smart, just like the bad guy in the first film, but there's no charm to his personality. His motivations are also not all that clear, or at least, they weren't to me. Okay, so he wants to rescue this guy, but why? Maybe it's explained and I missed it, but to me, it seemed like it was just an excuse to take over the airport and have Bruce Willis kill some guys.

The action scenes also aren't all that entertaining. The "bigger is better" approach to sequel making is used here, but it doesn't achieve a positive result here. There are more explosions, a greater variety in environments, and the action starts out earlier, but the fun from the first film is gone. They're not inventive, and the end up being standard shootouts, or re-hashes from the previous Die Hard.

What I liked most about Die Hard was the way it tied everything together at the end, and how no plot point was forgotten about. This time, things are introduced just for the moment, and then left to leave our memory. For example, there's a point where John and another man secure a walkie-talkie, but it's encoded, or something like that. It has millions of potential combinations to unlock, we're told. But that's the end of that, and I'm left wondering why that was introduced at all.

Die Hard 2 is simply a mediocre movie, and a lackluster sequel. The action isn't all that fun, there isn't any charm to the characters, and the wit in the dialogue is gone. Things are brought up and never mentioned again, while certain aspects just didn't make that much sense to me. It's just not a film that I found all that enjoyable, and as a result, I found myself bored more often than not while watching it.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:47 am

Die Hard with a Vengeance
After Die Hard, which took place in a 40 floor building, came Die Hard 2, which was set in an airport. How do you top that? Well, according to this series, you move to an entire city. That seems like a big jump to me. Was a mall not available for filming? Where are you going to go next? A country? The entire world? After you do an entire city, you're going to have to go pretty big to top it. Thankfully, I'm not in charge and don't have to worry about these kinds of problems.

There's one other area where we've upgraded in Die Hard with a Vengeance. This time, John McClane (Bruce Willis) gets a sidekick in the form of Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson). No, not the Greek god, but instead, a man who saved John from a potentially deadly situation, and who is now lumped in with him. The plot involves Hans Gruber's brother, who goes by the name of "Simon" (Jeremy Irons), commanding the pair to go all over the city obeying his orders and solving riddles. In one case, this involves figuring out how to get exactly four liters of water with only a three and five liter buckets. I remember doing that sort of question in school, but it takes our heroes right up until the last minute to solve it.

At the outset, Simon seems like he's just out for revenge. After all, his brother was killed in the first Die Hard, and wanting revenge seems like a fun plan. Why didn't he do this earlier though? There was a film before this, called Die Hard 2, although Die Hard with a Vengeance seems to completely ignore that film. That's probably for the best, because it wasn't all that good anyway. Instead, this plays out more like a direct sequel to the first film, just taking place a few years later, where John McClane is "one step" away from being an alcoholic.

Not that his potential alcoholism ever comes into play, except for a running gag involving John claiming he has a really bad headache. It seems that we've officially passed into the territory where we're not taking ourselves too seriously, as lines like this appear early and often here. There isn't much seriousness here, except for when Simon declares that he's hidden a bomb in one of the Manhattan schools, and if our two heroes don't follow his directions exactly, he'll blow it. At one point, police find the school in question, and have to decide what to do. (We've been told that evacuating the school will activate the bomb too.) The film is series in any scene involving children, but otherwise, Willis and Jackson seem to laugh through most of their action scenes.

There are plenty of action scenes in this film, and they're creative enough to hold interest. Having the film take place in a city seems like a good idea, because it allows you to use things that weren't in the last film: Cars. And they are milked for all they're worth, with cars being the main source of transportation, as well as the obligatory chase sequence that seems to creep into every action movie.

There's also a lot of racist talk in this film, although not much is done with it apart from bringing attention to this issue. Zeus, whenever possible, asks John if he's a racist. But that's as far as it goes. There's no point made to doing this, and nothing ever comes from it. I'm unsure why it's brought up at all, except to add to "realism", something that rarely appears in action movies in the first place. It certainly doesn't appear often in this film. Or maybe it was there to give Jackson's character more depth. Sure, let's go with that.

Like Alan Rickman before him, Jeremy Irons does a good job with his role as the villain. I still don't understand why the family was made German, but I suspect that it just makes them sound more "evil." Regardless, Irons gives his role a similar feel to Rickman's, all the way down to the true motive of his crimes. We still don't know a lot about them, but both characters have a fearsome screen presence. Jackson and Willis end up having a good chemistry, and their dialogue is reminiscent of John McClane and the police officer from the first film -- sharp, witty, and not all exposition.

While the action scenes may be inventive, the plot is not. The initially set-up of what Simon plans to do is intriguing, but the plot eventually degenerates into having our main characters chasing the bad guys, all while someone else tries to disarm a bomb. It's predictable and cliché, and even the final twist near the end won't even make you bat an eye. The twist also serves to extend the running time, leading to what should be a twenty-minute action scene ends up lasting only five.

All things considered, this feels like a much better sequel to the first Die Hard than what we got with Die Hard 2. It has the same type of tone and nature, and it doesn't have a plot that's basically retreading old ground. It simply feels more like a sequel than what we initially got was, and it seems like the filmmakers knew that, because no references are made to Die Hard 2. Again, I think that's for the best, because I didn't enjoy Die Hard 2 all that much.

Die Hard with a Vengeance is a pretty good film, one that ends up being a good sequel to the spectacular Die Hard. It has wit, charm, charismatic characters and fun action scenes. It also has another great villain from Jeremy Irons. The plot is where it starts to get weak, thanks to typical action movie clichés, but it's still a fun ride that you'll probably enjoy if you liked the first Die Hard.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:04 am

Live Free or Die Hard
Live Free or Die Hard marks the fourth installment in the Die Hard franchise. Each one has starred Bruce Willis as John McClane, and each previous film has had a central villain that John has to go after. This is no different, except this time the bad guy isn't going after John directly. Instead, the target is Matt Farrell (Justin Long), a computer hacker.

At the beginning of the film, John is told to transport Matt to Washington, DC, and that's it. At Matt's house, they both get shot at, and a couple of people wind up dead. This is John McClane we're talking about -- a man who has no problem killing. They escape, go to DC, but are shot at again. And then the televisions start going haywire, traffic lights turn off, and all communications systems go down. Something is up, and Matt seems to be a key to solving it, or at least figuring out how to solve it. So we are lead to believe.

For reasons I'm not going to get into, America is about to be faced with a crisis, something that Matt dubs a "fire sale." Essentially what could happen is that all of America could go back to the stone age in terms of its finances and communications, although the people behind it aren't asking for demands. Their motivation isn't made clear until quite late in the film, although if you've seen one or two Die Hard movies before, you'll be unsurprised at their reasoning.

Oh, and there's a scene really early on -- actually, it's the very first one in the film -- where John is trying to get in touch with his estranged daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). She tells him that she'll contact him one her terms. That's the only time we'll see her before things start going wrong, and it was clear at this point that she's there just to get captured and give John even more reason to stop the antagonist from winning.

However, her inclusion makes little sense to me. Before she gets captured, John is already dead-set on stopping the man we later learn is named Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). There's even an entire speech that he gives to Matt about how nobody else will do his job, and he does it for this reason. But adding his daughter into the equation is redundant at this point. I'm not complaining about having Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a movie, but her character definitely needed more purpose.

I also don't think we needed some computer hacker to tag along with John McClane. He does play an important role, but I wished that he'd just go away for most of the time he's on-screen. There are some humorous moments that come out of John being technologically obsolete, (a trait he has exhibited before), but that's about it. At one point, John tells Matt to stay away, because he's going to complete this mission solo. I was cheering, hoping that Matt would run into the house and let John McClane do what he does best. But no, Matt had to tag along for this one too. How disappointing.

Honestly, at this point, this is a series about John going around, beating people up, and saving a select group of people from something unpleasant. We don't need a tag-along partner, especially one that can't do much in the way of helping. I liked Samuel L. Jackson as Willis' partner in Die Hard With A Vengeance, but that was because he was a help, an equal, instead of an inconvenience.

After the third film, I guessed that in order to go bigger, they'd have to have it take place over the entire country. It turns out, I wasn't far off. They go all over the East Coast -- I'm guessing they're saving the rest of America for a potential fifth film. The locations are all varied, and it was nice to see a bunch of different environments, even if too much of our time is spent looking at various computer screens.

The action scenes are still fun, and they go even bigger than the previous films. Most of them end up at a smaller level though, with our heroes taking most of the brunt, instead of, say, an entire subway system. But there are a couple of explosions that are big enough to take out a large area, as well as one that involves a car and a helicopter that, while improbable (impossible?), is the highlight of the film, just because of how amazing it looks. There's also a couple of fist fights, one involving an enemy that is a parkour enthusiast, so you'll get that fix too.

Unfortunately, Timothy Olyphant's mild-mannered villain is probably the weakest in the entire series. Well, Die Hard 2's big bad was pretty pathetic too, but this one just doesn't seem all that fierce. How he could cause fear in anyone is beyond me, likely because of how gentle and sweet Olyphant plays him. Right when we meet him, you don't think that he'll be able to take out Bruce Willis, because nice people can never take out Bruce Willis. Granted, you know he'll put up a good fight, but can you really expect him to win? I couldn't, and although I won't give away how this film ends, (hey, they could be prepping John's daughter to take over, couldn't they?), I'll say that he puts up a very good fight, and lives are most certainly put in peril.

Live Free or Die Hard is a solid action film, even if the villain seems like a big joke. The set-pieces are grand and fun, Bruce Willis still seems to love his role of John McClane, and you're rarely bored while watching it. It has problems, but it's still worth a watch for any fans of the series, especially if you want to see an older Bruce Willis have an even more physically demanding role than any of the previous films. (Or at least, it certainly looks that way.)
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Xandy on Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:24 am

Review Pi.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:15 am

Review of Pi is typed and ready to go, actually.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:08 am

Suburban Mayhem
Suburban Mayhem is the type of movie you watch, feel disgusted with, absolutely despise, and then completely forget what happened after it's over. At least, that's how I experienced it. I remember how I felt while it was playing -- although I also remember being bored quite often -- but I have trouble recalling specific moments that made me feel that way. I'd think about re-watching it if it wasn't such a mundane experience, which is saying a lot when your main characters is as random and sporadic as they come.

Her name is Katrina (Emily Barclay), and she's a woman out-of-control. At the young age of 19, she's already had one child, and could easily be pregnant with another. Her brother is in jail for slicing the head off a convenience store employee, her father is struggling with her bad habits, and her baby is probably getting lung problems from all the second-hand smoke from Katrina and her boyfriend, Rusty (Michael Dorman). She's found out the life isn't easy, although she isn't helping gain anyone's favor with her antics.

We find out that her father has been killed, and Katrina is suspect number one. The film has a bunch of interviews with family, friends and other contacts, that's supposed to give us insight into her life. We see the funeral for her father, and we learn that we also have an interview with our lead character to listen to. And then we get a ton of dramatizations of the events leading up to her father's death, finding out exactly what happened to bring us to this point in Katrina's life.

What you see likely won't surprise you, but it might revolt and repel you. What Katrina does with her life isn't something that most people aspire for, except for getting out of work whenever possible. She's a lazy narcissist as far as I can work out, using everyone she can in order to get what she wants: Drugs, sexual pleasure, cigarettes, baby supplies and her brother out of jail. Her motivations couldn't be more basic, although the life she lives would likely lead to her being imprisoned just like her brother is.

That is, if the police would actually do something about it. Despite the fact that everyone knows what she's doing, and a lot of people are trying to help her, the police rarely get involved. We meet a Detective named Andretti (Steve Bastoni), but he mostly just sits around getting verbally abused by Katrina. He also provides footage for the interview segments, where he details how Katrina decided to target his family, and not just him.

That's about as much as I can recall, and it's also all that really matters. We already have the end told to us: Her father is dead, and she is who everyone thinks did it. Would her saying that she didn't make any difference? Even if we get to see what truly happened, surely the police wouldn't have the technology to enter her mind like we can. And then there's also the unreliable narrator storytelling technique to think about. Can we, and can the characters, believe anything that she says? Or anything that other people say? I'm not so sure.

What this leads to is not caring much about anything that's going on. We don't really get to see Katrina's decline into the degenerate that she becomes, instead seeing her for a while as a slightly innocent child, and then she becomes awful. She's not a likable character, but more importantly, she's also not an interesting one. She's a one-trick pony, and that trick isn't all that impressive to begin with.

Because there's no reason to want to watch the lead character, I found myself drifting off while watching Suburban Mayhem. I had trouble concentrating on watching this person destroy her life, as well as the lives of people close to her. She's the worst kind of person -- one who abuses the goodwill of other people, causing them to suffer -- and it's because of this that she would get caught at every turn, or that those close to her would just stop helping. But because she's good at being manipulative, people just allow her to be, while fueling her bad habits. They're what psychologists call "enablers," which means we can't really sympathize with them either.

The saddest part about Suburban Mayhem is the fact that stories like Katrina's really do occur in real life. While I doubt this is supposed to be a biopic, I'm sure that it rings true to the lives of a lot of people. With that said, do we really need a movie adaptation of it? This is an especially pressing question when we don't get any reason to care about the characters. Movies about lives being destroyed can be very good, but you need something to make you care. This is a film without any such reason, and as a result, I wanted to stop watching.

I didn't enjoy Suburban Mayhem, but it wasn't even a memorable displeasure. It's far blander than a film with this kind of content should be, and since I didn't care about the character, and the story is already finished by the time we enter, with us only getting possibly untrue flashbacks, there wasn't anything to hold my attention. I was simply bored, while also revolted by the fact that the story told here could actually take place. At least in real life, characters have more depth than shown here. Real life would be more fun to watch.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:54 pm

Good Luck Chuck
Good Luck Chuck attempts to shock us and tries to make us laugh, when all it really is able to do is bore us. It takes a potentially interesting premise and drags it through the mud of romantic comedy clichés until there's nothing left to laugh at. If you want to be offended by a movie, watch something else. If you want to have a few side-splitting moments, again, watch something else. I can't think of a reason to see Good Luck Chuck.

The potentially interesting premise I mentioned above is this: Charlie (Dane Cook in present day) was hexed when he was a young lad. The local goth girl, who after getting chosen during a game of Spin the Bottle, professed her love for him, but since he was 10 and therefore shy around girls, he refused to show her anything below the waist once the pair went into the closet. So she puts that curse on him, although everyone at the party just kind of stares at her when she does it.

Fast-forward to present day, when Charlie is in his thirties. As it turns out, every time he has sex with a woman, she'll eventually dump him and fall in love with the next guy she meets. That's the curse that was put on him. Not a problem to begin with, as Charlie doesn't easily fall in love. In fact, for a while, he lets his best friend, Stu (Dan Fogler), convince him that he's doing these women a public service. It catches on, and even internet sites begin reporting on Charlie being a good luck charm. What could go wrong?

Well, love, I guess. At a wedding of one of his former lovers, Charlie meets Cam (Jessica Alba), who makes her entrance by running into someone. She's a klutz who also is enamored with penguins. As she puts it, the word "obsessed" doesn't even come close to describing her love for them. As a result, she works at Aqua World feeding and taking care of the penguins there. Putting a clumsy person in an icy enclosure sounds like it could lead to some funny situations, but she only slips on the ice once, and it's not even her fault when it happens.

The kicker is that he knows that he can't sleep with her, because it means that she'll leave him and that she'll love the next guy to ask her out, and she also doesn't want to sleep with him because he's now considered "sport" in her, and many other women's, eyes. So, he has to win her over, while making sure not to have sex with her. I can see how that type of situation could end up being funny. It wasn't here, but I can see what the initial premise could have offered us.

What we get instead is a film held together only by rom-com clichés, and some one-off jokes that you won't remember at any point in the future. Cam loves penguins, so there are a couple of penguin jokes, and she also bumps into things a great deal. Charlie is the guy who just kind of goes along with whatever she wants to do, because, well, he's in love, that's why. And Stu shows up whenever director Mark Helfrich thinks we might be getting bored, which is apparently quite often with how often Stu decides to bother us.

It also seems as if breasts were used to supplement the lack of plot or character growth, so they appear frequently as well. So often, in fact, that the screen occasionally has to split into multiple panels in order to fit them in. Charlie has sex with many women, after all, so why not show all of those encounters? I think maybe because good taste would tell you otherwise, but that was not the thought that the filmmakers went through in creating this film. No, they show whatever they want, as many times as they want, and if you don't like it, you don't have to watch.

That's probably the best advice you can take: Don't watch Good Luck Chuck. When you get all of the nudity as well as the nasty situations out of the way, what you're left with is a generic romantic comedy with nothing to offer us in terms of plot, characters or even any real jokes. You'll laugh a couple of times, sure, but the script lacks the sharpness required for them to stick with you, and since they're not coming from anyone you care about, you'll forget just as quickly as Charlie realizes that having sex with women you don't care about eventually becomes monotonous. (It takes him about one and a half minutes, if you're really wondering.)

The pacing is off. Moments of the film jump around and you're not quite sure why. Times when you think that the scene will linger a while longer end up getting cut, and any character development along with them. The resolution comes from two characters going into another character's house and him arbitrarily realizing what he needs to do. He was sitting there playing his Xbox, moping about how his life has turned out, before he gets a wake up call from a woman with three breasts (which are surprisingly not shown to us, at least, not until the end credits). Actions happen with little reason or time for the characters to think about them. You could argue that all of the characters just act spontaneously, but you'd be wrong, as we see Charlie plan things before, while Cam doesn't seem entirely dimwitted herself.

Before all is said and done, I actually hoped that Cam and Charlie wouldn't get together at the end. Not just because we'd avoid that final cliché, but because Dane Cook doesn't play his character how we're supposed to view him. He's supposed to be suave, sexy and the good guy, but he comes across as a creep. He's always staring in a manner that reminded me of the way a red herring will stare at the main character in a noir film. Although he does it with supposed love in his mind, while I'm just thinking that Cam might turn up dead in a week or two.

Good Luck Chuck is a bad romantic comedy full of cliché and utter nonsense. But it has a lot of breasts in it, so some of the people who plan to watch it will be happy and distracted by the simple fact that it isn't any good. It's jumpy, the jokes aren't memorable or even all that funny in the moment, and Dane Cook doesn’t seem able to play the straight man. I didn't have fun, and that's the simple fact of the matter here.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Hubilub on Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:21 am

Now do Freddy got Fingered

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Re: Marter's Reviews

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