JT Film Review

Cloud Atlas (2012)

Cloud Atlas Review
Review #167

4.5/5 stars

Director –  Lana and Andy Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer

Cast – Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon

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This is a helluva ambitious movie. Helluva.

Written and directed by the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer, it is an adaptation on the 2004 novel of the same name. It consists of six intertwined stories, ranging from the 1800’s to a post apocalyptic future. There are physical links between the stories… letters written in one time period are read by a character in another, a character in one story is worshiped as a deity in another, that sort of thing. The lead actors also all appear in several stories as characters with different ethnicities and even genders.

But the real link between the stories is thematic. The point of the movie is that people’s actions have consequences, and choices we make “reverberate through time”, etc. It’s not a new theme. It could easily be quite corny too, but success is all in the execution.  Cloud Atlas avoids being cheesy,  (more or less), and I would even describe it as inspiring. It easily avoids being boring, too, which seems odd as it’s almost three hours long.

It is definitely what I would call a “lie down movie”, though; one of those long films you can go to in a near-empty theatre, lie down on the seats, and let the movie wash over you. (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was another one.) The movie intrigues us, draws us in, and gets to the point in due time. It drags a bit in the middle, to be sure, but not for long. It’s six stories are all interesting in one way or another. They weave together well, despite the occasional jarring transition, and the actors all commit to their roles one hundred percent.  If you don’t like any of the stories, there’s a new one coming along in a couple of minutes!

I would like to touch on the ridiculous accusations of racism that have surrounded the movie. Many white members of the cast appear in a couple of stories as ethnicities other than their own. This is done with prosthetics and makeup, and has drawn comparisons to black-face. Some people are asking why actors of the ethnicity portrayed were not hired to play those parts, and normally they would have a point. But in a movie like this, where actors of all colours play different parts, the accusation fall flat. You can not say putting Hugh Grant in vaguely Oriental makeup is racist when the next scene features Halle Berry as a white British woman. Context is key here, and there is no racism here. No chance.

OVERALL

Cloud Atlas is huge, audacious, and effective. It’s six stories complement each other wonderfully, and the actors are obviously into the spirit of the thing. It sounds so flippant to say it, but Cloud Atlas is inspiring. It might confuse some and alienate others, but it is much more approachable than some are saying. Highly recommended.

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‘Cloud Atlas’ on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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November 21, 2012 Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Drama, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)

Shoot ‘Em Up Review
Review # 165

3.5/5 stars

Director – Michael Davis

Cast – Clive Owen,Monica Bellucci, Paul Giamatti, Stephen McHattie

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Right from the very first scene, you will know if this movie is for you. Clive Owen (Mr. Smith), an innocent bystander, sees a man threatening to kill a pregnant woman. Mr. Owen then kills this man with a carrot. He is immediately set upon by henchmen/fellow goons of the dead man, and, via a bullet to an oil pan, he creates a makeshift slip and slide to fling himself past them all. In between these two events he finds time to help the lady give birth, and sever the umbilical cord by shooting it.

Need I say more? Do let me continue.

He carries the baby with him through the rest of the movie, because slimy baddie Paul Giamatti wants it dead for some reason. When we are told the reason, we realize it makes no sense and thus we discard it. The plot just doesn’t matter. Luckily the movie knows this, and takes itself exactly as seriously as we take it, that is, not at all. It should also be mentioned that Monica Belucci tags along as a hooker with a heart of gold. She helps hard ass Mr. Smith with such non-manly things as breast-feeding. They also participate in the mandatory sex scene, but one which quickly morphs into a horrific gun fight. You know all you need to know about the tone of the movie when I tell you that they do not stop screwing when the bullets start flying. You get the sense it just spices things up a bit.

Simply put, this movie makes Sin City look like a down-to-earth thriller. Shoot ‘Em Up is preposterous trash, a C-movie with a miraculously high budget. It is lucky to have stars who know the movie is absolute bull shit, and act accordingly. It gets a bit draggy towards the end, but that can be forgiven. The stunts, shootouts, and acrobatics are so absurd we can’t help but giggle, and go along with the fun. And fun it is.

OVERALL

I can not stress this point enough. In Shoot ‘Em Up, Clive Owen kills a man with a carrot. Voila.

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“Shoot ‘Em Up” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave your comments below!

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October 25, 2012 Posted by | 3.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Action, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Woman in Black (2012)

The Woman in Black Review
Review #164

4/5 stars

Director – James Watkins

Cast – Daniel Radcliffe, Cirian Hinds, Janet McTeer, Liz White, Roger Allam

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Hammer is back! The infamous production company most famous for Christopher Lee’s Dracula series (and a myriad of other lo-fi British horror films), has been dormant since the 1980’s. About five years ago the company was resurrected, and makes its return to the gothic horror films upon which they made their name.

The Woman in Black is also an attempted resurrection of sorts for its star. Radcliffe is of course best known as the star of the recently finished Harry Potter films, and now presumably wishes to cast that mantle aside. A period-ish piece about supernatural happenings may not seem like a complete 180 turn, but there we have it. Is Radcliffe a bit young for the role? I would argue that yes, he is. But Radcliffe is a very competent (if slightly wooden) actor, and he carries the film capably. Any doubts we may have about his character’s motivations are down to the script, and he actually does more than we could have hoped to help.

But does the movie work?

I think it depends on how you approach it. If you expect a slow burn of a horror movie, with nuanced characters and a solid story, you will be a bit disappointed. However, if you are in the mood for a traditional haunted house movie with tons of jumps and chills running up and down your spine, it will most certainly provide them. And that word, “traditional”, perhaps describes the movie the best. While the cinematography and effects are all shiny and modern, the story would have fit perfectly in the good old Peter Cushing era, or even any of the old Hollywood horror pics. Our lead hears a bump upstairs? Up he goes to investigate! A sunken face appears at an upstairs window? Up we trot!The whole movie is in that tradition. If you can go with it, you will be in for a good time.

(Is there something particularly scary about things being upstairs? Well maybe it’s just this movie… we’ve seen plenty of scantily clad leads going into creepy basements.)

Adding some welcome dramatic weight to the whole thing are veteran Brit’s Cirian Hinds and Janet McTeer. We also see Roger Allam pop up briefly, just to reaffirm the Britishness of the movie. Janet McTeer is the standout I think. Her character is a bit of a mess. She has seen some bad things, has had her son taken from her by the titular spirit, and believes herself to be possessed. She is tortured, and we see it. Radcliffe is supposed to be a tortured soul as well. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of that perhaps.

OVERALL

The Woman in Black is a fun traditional horror film. It features performances that range from solid to excellent, and definitely offers its fair share of scares. Dspite a strangely out-of-place ending, it is a very effective movie. Highly recommended to horror fans.

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“The Woman in Black” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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October 22, 2012 Posted by | 4 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Horror, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review
Review #161

3.5/5 stars

Director – Timur Bekmambetov

Cast – Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Marton Csokas, Jimmi Simpson, Alan Tudyk

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. That’s quite a title. It catches the eye, and does half of the advertising for you. You know right away if you’ll enjoy the movie, whose plot is also perfectly summarized in the title. The president hunts vampires, there you go. The vampires, of course, decide to fight on the side of the south because slavery provides them with cheap, available food. Bring on the boom-boom-pow.

I have to admit that I had a great time watching this movie. While it is tempting to describe the movie as “so  bad it’s good”, I will resist. That term has always bugged me… It implies that despite a movie being very bad, it was enjoyable. While I understand where the term comes from, surely if the movie was enjoyable, it was good! Now I understand that it means that perhaps the story was ludicrous, or production values very poor, or something along those lines. But still…

This particular movie certainly has a ludicrous story, but the production values aren’t that bad. The characterizations are almost non-existent, but wisely actors were cast who could bring a strong sense of character to underwritten roles. But it is the gung-ho attitude and ballsiness of the movie that make it so enjoyable. During one particular fight scene, a vampire starts throwing horses at the hero. Throwing. Horses.

That right there should tell you if the movie is for you or not.

OVERALL

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a gutsy movie that doesn’t cease to entertain. I honestly didn’t expect to like the movie at all. Maybe it has to do with who you see it with, but I had a ball. Just “check your brain in at the door”. Whatever the hell that means any more.

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“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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September 25, 2012 Posted by | 3.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Action, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daredevil – The Director’s Cut (2003)

Daredevil – The Director’s Cut Review
Review #160

3/5 stars

Director – Mark Steven Johnson

Cast – Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau

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A blind Ben Affleck fights crime in 2003’s Daredevil. He is a lawyer, which puts him in an interesting ethical position. By day he defends the down-trodden and upholds justice, and then by night he kicks ass of those he believes are criminals. He isn’t awfully scrupulous about who he beats up, either… in one scene he beats up a whole biker bar to get to someone. He’s a very violent superhero, apparently not as particular about his rules as Batman, for example. Baddies end up kicked off steeples, faces smashed in, and thrown under trains. Hardly in the best tradition of the bar, surely.

Daredevil, or Matt Murdock as he is known at the bench, received his powers as a young boy, after an accident at the dock yards where he is blinded by an unnamed toxic substance. (Smack a “Hazardous Material” sticker on a barrel and it’s amazing what you can get away with.) He finds he is able to “see” with a primitive radar, and finds his other senses greatly enhanced. Soon after, his father, a boxer who is past his prime, is killed after refusing to throw a fight. This spurs Matt on to fight injustice no matter the cost.

On a side note, why the hell does every superhero have to be an orphan? Superman, Spider-man, Batman, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Wolverine… Those whose parents weren’t prematurely killed still have father issues, Iron Man and Thor for example. It seems an oddly specific affliction to give a group of characters. But, I digress.

Daredevil’s life becomes purely dedicated to rooting out evil-doers. His house is full of crime fighting gear and multiple replacement costumes. I sometimes wonder where these people find their tailors. I love it when movies go into a costume origin, ala Spider-man or Batman. Even the Fantastic Four. We don’t get that here, but I suppose we wouldn’t want too much of that. The origin story is (perhaps wisely) whizzed through, gotten out-of-the-way as neatly as possible. That is done well here, and the way Murdocks radar sense is shown is quite interesting. we get right into the story.

The story itself is fairly generic, and I won’t bother repeating it here, especially as its lack of flair really brings the movie down. There are some mildly interesting characters, from Bullseye, an anarchic Irishman with astonishing aim, to Jon Favreau’s character, Matt’s best friend. Some are less interesting, like Jennifer Garner’s Elektra, a rich girl who doesn’t like how her father tries to control her. (More daddy issues…)

The movie works best when delving into the murky side of New York society. There is a great morally ambiguous reporter (played by Joe Pantoliano), who is trying to find out Daredevils identity. The man who “owns the town”, Kingpin, is played excellently by Michael Clarke Duncan, who knows just the right amount of showmanship to bring to the role. There is another great little character, played by Coolio, whom Murdock defends in a murder trial. There is a flashy griminess to the movie that works very well with the source material.

Never in a superhero movie has it been more evident that the superheroes we all know and love are vigilantes, through and through. This is due to the juxtaposition of Murdock’s legal life and his other, extra curricular activities. Does he truly believe that all men deserve a trial by twelve men, good and true? I don’t think he does, and by extension he brings into light that most other superheroes mustn’t either. I suppose the Nolan Batman does bring his catches to the cops… but in general, superheroes seem to be our right-wing feelings brought to the fore. “If we know he’s guilty, just bring him to justice your own way!” The dangerous thing is how right it feels…

OVERALL

Daredevil: The Director’s Cut is an improvement over the original, and has a grimy likability. It’s story falters dramatically, however; it just doesn’t have anything that interesting. The actors bring their best to their parts, but can’t stop some cheesiness that finds its way in. Not an awful movie, but not great. A decent little middle-of-the-roader. I would recommend it to superhero fans, though!

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Up next is X-Men: The Last Stand.

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“Daredevil” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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June 19, 2012 Posted by | 3 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Batman Forever (1995)

Batman Forever Review
Review # 159

2/5 stars

Director – Joel Schumacher

Cast Val Kilmer, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Drew Barrymore, Michael Gough

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– follows Batman Returns

– followed by Batman and Robin

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Batman Forever is a movie of twos. Bruce Wayne struggles with his dual identity of playboy and crime fighter, and he takes on a partner, Robin. There are two villains up against our heroes, The Riddler and, of course, Two-Face (self-explanatory). In a way, it is the start of the second major Batman series. While it technically furthers the continuity of the Burton series, it has a different look and a different Batman. It is also  (if you’ll excuse the near-pun) too much, too long, and too garish.

After the Burton movies (Batman and Batman Returns) Warner Brothers wanted to brighten things up a bit, and Schumacher sure gives us that. Kilmer is quite different from Keaton, but surprisingly he is less humorous. And that’s the thing with the movie… the whole thing is largely humorless. It has none of the charm and off-beat weirdness of Burton’s movies, it’s brighter and more pop-oriented; as a result, the movie feels like just another ’90’s action flick. Visually, it is both gaudy and dull (though granted, Batman and Robin makes this one look quiet and restrained).

Plotwise, we follow Robin’s attempt to join Batman, and Bruce Wayne/Batman’s inner turmoil. He feels guilty about his parents death, and is, well… just plain mopey. This concept doesn’t work as the heart of the movie, especially as it was already done in Batman. It is never really resolved either. There’s no heart here. They attempt to make Robin interesting, but his story (dead parents, must kill the villain for revenge) is also just a retread of Batman. Combined with the cookie cutter feel of the film, we get a very dull movie here indeed.

It just makes me all the more anxious to see The Dark Knight Rises, a movie that looks like it will be one of the few great franchise three-quels. I know it’ll be better than this!

OVERALL

Batman Forever is a surprisingly dull movie. It is overlong and under-stuffed. Visually it is a pale imitation of Burton’s world, and there’s little to no meat in the story. Not really recommended.

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next I will be watching Daredevil.

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“Batman Forever” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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June 18, 2012 Posted by | 2 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 1990-1999 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review
Review #158

3.5/5 stars

Director – Gavin Hood

Cast – Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will i. am, Lynn Collins, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch, Daniel Henney, Ryan Reynolds, Tim Pocock

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– follows (by release date) X-Men: The Last Stand

– followed (by release date) by X-Men: First Class

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And we’re back, with the least successful movie of the X-Men franchise (both critically and, I believe, financially).

I have to admit, this movie was more fun than I had expected. It is an action movie through-and-through, and more of one than any of the other X-Men series. That is actually its biggest strength, but also what pulls it down. There isn’t as much emotional punch as I could have hoped, and the final sequences struggle to maintain consistency. The movie can be a bit unfocused as well, but there are plenty of good moments. Sure it’s not as coherent as we could have hoped, but there is a certain adrenaline pumped energy to the whole thing that keep us going. I enjoyed myself, in a guilty pleasure kind of way.

Plot-wise, we follow Logan (Hugh Jackman) as he grows up with his brother, Victor (Liev Schreiber), and as they learn to deal with certain abilities they have. They can regenerate from seemingly any injury, and have bone-like projections from their hands. They were born in the mid 1800’s, and participate in all the major wars from then on right up to Vietnam. They are “headhunted” by a military man (Danny Huston) who is putting together a secret team (or some such thing) of mutants. They roam the killing, carrying out missions, and doing a lot of killing. This is right up Victor’s alley, but Logan has reservations about all the bloodshed. This leads to disagreements between the pair. Logan eventually finds it all too much, and despite his incredible killing prowess he loses himself in the Canadian wilderness, re-imagining himself as a lumberjack. (Note: as a Canadian I scream “Stereotype!”, but then move on…) While in the Canadian wilderness, Logan falls in love with a woman and they live happily for years, until she is killed by Victor, who is a little pissed at his bro. Logan goes for revenge.

The opening of the movie, showing the death of Logan’s father, is played too fast, and does not give us much emotional impact, but from there the movie segues into an excellent credit sequence. We follow Logan and Victor from the Civil War to WWI, WWII, Korea, and then Vietnam. This is followed by action scenes that are fast and unique. It feels at times like a demo reel of different mutants abilities, and in a good way. One by one we get to see the individual mutants show off their skills, and it’s quite exhilarating. Logan leaves the group, and the movie changes gear. His life is peaceful and he has found love, but then it is all taken from, him and this time… it’s personal. As it always seems to go.

The movie is fast paced, and this helps hide the lack of a real story. It’s a revenge pic, but it smartly does not try to be much more than that. The action scenes are surprisingly effective. We feel the power of these mutants as they tear into both each other and their opponents. Hugh Jackman proudly stalks his way through the movie, and Liev Schreiber growls like no tomorrow. He in particular transforms from how we’ve seen him before. He always seems to be prowling low to the ground, feral and dangerous. Other mutants appear throughout the movie. Too many really, it starts to get cluttered.  And we start to notice similarities… besides their main abilities (regeneration, teleportation, etc.) they all seem to have super strength too. Still, that is the way with super heroes.

There has been much talk (mainly online, of course) of how certain characters have been changed. Apparently Deadpool’s character is different in the comics, or something like that. There are also some discrepancies with a cameo character at the end of the movie, (discrepancies mainly created in X-Men: First Class). I can’t comment on Deadpool (as I now nothing of the comic books), but other problems to exist and they can’t really be ignored. But I feel that they are made up for by the sheer energy of the movie.

OVERALL

I feel surprisingly positive about this movie. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is no great movie, not by a long shot, but it gets the job done, and does a moderately good job of showing more of a character we all love. It is fast-moving, stylish, and fairly fun; although it can certainly hit a cliché or two now and then. Recommended to the comic book type of folks, and even to those who enjoy a bit of action.

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next up on the list is Batman Forever, if I can get through it…

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“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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June 3, 2012 Posted by | 3.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fantastic Four (2005)

Fantastic Four Review
Review #157

1.5/5 stars

Director – Tim Story

Cast – Ioan Grufuud, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon

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– followed by Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

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From Ghost Rider, which had a boring story but unique tone, we go to Fantastic Four, which has both a tremendously boring story and tone. With any movie this is a deadly combination, and this is no exception.

The heroes in this film get their powers after they are exposed to a cosmic storm, encountered while doing some very very sciencey stuff on a space station. (The science in this movie seem even more balderdash than usual, even for a superhero movie.) They all find themselves able to do some, well, fantastic things. One can turn invisible, one can stretch, one can fly and burst into flame, and the last guy… well, he gets the short end of the stick. While he finds himself with superhuman strength, his body is hardened and enlarged into a grotesque, rock-monster appearance.

It is this character, The Thing, that the movie centers around. Smartly so. Unlike the others, he cannot go out into public as “normal”, and his wife cannot deal with the physical changes to her husband. He finds himself isolated, and alone. This is the key to a good story line. A big reason superheroes can work dramatically is that their ability to do amazing things is undercut by the distance this creates between them and everyone else. When done well, this can work (some of the Superman movies, for example). It doesn’t quite work here; it’s clumsy and heavy handed. It’s still the best dramatic thing about the movie, which is a sad thing, really.

I wanted to like the characters, and if anything is redeemable about the movie it is that. Ioan Gruffuud brings a good quality to his character, the leader of the group, and Michael Chiklis is both affecting and humorous as needed. Jessica Alba doesn’t come out quite so well, she does her best, but her character is just boring. But Chris Evans… now he makes a great impression. This is one of his earliest hits, and we see glimpses of the star that he would become. He is cocky, funny, and is a highlight of the movie. In the end, if we needed to have Fantastic Four to have the Chris Evans we have today, I’m happy. Well, almost.

OVERALL

Fantastic Four is one of the most generic movies I have ever seen. Save for Chris Evans the cast is adequate, but rarely anything more. The story is deadly dull, and the movie’s cinematography is bight and cheap looking. It reeks of the corporate mindset… “Comic book movies are popular? Let’s make one of those. Just hire somebody, anybody.” It’s just all so adequate, and thus, dull.

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next we bring the Snikt! with X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

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“Fantastic Four” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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June 2, 2012 Posted by | 1.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghost Rider (2007)

Ghost Rider Review
Review #156

2/5 stars

Director – Mark Steven Johnson

Cast – Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Sam Elliott, Donal Logue, Peter Fonda

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– followed by Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

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Who’d have thought that Nicholas Cages’ most subdued performance in years is as the guy with the flaming skull head…

Ghost Rider is, of course, based on the Marvel comic book of the same name. This particular super hero (who is not as firmly imbedded in the public consciousness as Superman or Batman) is the alter ego of motorcycle stunt driver Johnny Blaze. When angry, or in the presence of evil, he transforms into a skeleton with a flaming motor bike, black leather outfit (with spikes), and of course the aforementioned flaming-skull head. He whips a chain around, can light random things on fire, and is general a goth’s wet dream.

Is he the bad guy? Well, not really, though the movie certainly want us to think he is bad-ass. I mean, he wears leather after all. In practice he is nothing more than a reckless Spider-Man. But he has no unique world view, no over-riding idea to set him apart from any other superheroes. The best we are given is int he movies final lines, where he says he will keep his powers to be a “spirit of vengeance”, wandering around being good. Ghost Rider is so generic and dull in his powers (or at least as he is presented here) that he needs the hellfire and damnation angle just to make him interesting. The same is true of the movie itself. There is a neat little edge to the movie (it is essentially a gothic western, if that is even a term), but without that it is just another origin story of another frikin’ superhero. It has the same plot beats, the same ideas, and we get the same result.

Even Peter Fonda (as the devil) and Wes Bentley (the devil’s son) phone it in. Peter Fonda in particular looks plain bored, and I don’t blame him. He strides into a scene, looks vaguely ominous and then strides out. And it’s always “…blabla the Devil Himself.” Have you noticed that?

OVERALL

Ghost Rider tries for something new in its tone, but forgets to have an interesting story. Combine that with a hammy yet bored-looking cast, and we get a strange mix of dull and bizarre. Not really recommended.

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next up is Fantastic Four.

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“Ghost Rider” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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June 2, 2012 Posted by | 2 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Superman III (1983)

Superman III Review
Review #155

2.5/5 stars

Director – Richard Lester

Cast – Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, Annette O’Toole, Annie Ross, Pamela Stephenson, Robert Vaughn, Margot Kidder

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– follows Superman II

– followed by Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

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And, we’re back to Superman! This article is part of the series Superheroes: Bottom to Top, where I watch all the superhero movies I own, from worst rated to best (according to Rotten Tomatoes).

First, a small bit of background. Superman: The Movie was directed by Richard Donner, and released to critical acclaim. Come Superman II, Donner was fired halfway through filming, and replaced by Richard Lester, who re-shot some scenes, and shoehorned in a lot of awkward humour. While the movie was still received well, many people noticed the clash of styles, and weren’t too happy. And then, Richard Lester was given full control over Superman III. Comedian Richard Pryor was given the lead, the opening credits sequence was full of Marx Bros.-esque slapstick and didn’t even feature Superman… and fans were pissed.

Their Superman was noble and grand. He fought evil interplanetary beings, and vicious madmen, not a tycoon who wants to buy more coffee. Now personaly, and this is where I come into disagreement with most people, I was glad to see some comedy in this movie. Now it does go over the top a bit, and Richard Pryor is in way too much of the movie, but it felt right to me. The main reason is the ridiculousness of Superman’s character. His disguise is a pair of glasses. His co-worker is in love with his alter ego, yet does not notice the similarity between Kent and Superman. It’s absurd, really, and this movie recognizes that. So in that respect, I will defend the comedic aspects of Superman III.

Having said that, it does end up hurting the movie. By the half way point we stop caring about the characters, and we start getting sick off gags. It doesn’t help that the rest of the movie isn’t that great, either. The plot is draggy and unfocused, and as I said before, Richard Pryor’s hacker character drags the whole movie down. While it might have been an interesting idea to see a the typical superhero movie through the eyes of a man sucked up in the villain’s clutches, it doesn’t work here.

What does work? The special effects for one, which are definitely the best of the series. There is a sub plot involving Superman being infected (?) by some faux Kryptonite. He starts behaving erratically, and even turns evil for a bit. This story line doesn’t really work, but Reeves is very convincing as baddie Supes. I think Reeves is a better actor than he is usually given credit for.

Is the movie worth watching? I’ll go out on a  limb and say it pretty much is, but just for Superman complete-ists. It’s nothing special, and has a lot of flaws, but I found it curiously watchable. Not a ringing endorsement to be sure, but there it is.

OVERALL

Superman III is not a great movie, it really isn’t. The storyline is unfocused, and Richard Pryor is way too prominent. Having said that, Superman complete-ists may find something to enjoy here. Everyone else should steer clear.

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next up, Nic Cage and Ghost Rider!

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“Superman III” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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May 28, 2012 Posted by | 2.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 1980-1989 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment