Sunday, August 30, 2009

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons was not a huge priority for me so I waited for it to come to the dollar theater before watching it. I saw it last night, and like many of the movies I have seen, I have mixed feelings about it. The novel was a prequel to the Da Vinci Code, but the movie was presented as a sequel. I really liked the set up to the movie and it got off to an exciting start.

I was intrigued with the details about the Vatican, the Swiss Guard, and the procedures for replacing a pope. The movie is fast paced, and I enjoyed the setting as they frantically ran back and forth across Rome to several historical sites while trying to solve several mysteries. This movie also seemed much less critical of the Catholic church than the Da Vinci Code did. I felt it could have been trying to reconcile things from the prior movie. Obviously the Vatican did not want anything to do with another movie, so the movie makers had to build a replica for the scenes in St. Peter's square.

One of the problems I had with this film was the ease with which Langdon was able to decipher codes and solve mysteries the moment he walks into a room. Robert Langdon is the James Bond of Academia and apparently there is nothing he does not know. It made National Treasure look like a documentary. If you are critical of unrealistic details, then I'm afraid the "Yeah, Right" factor is off the charts. There are more secret passages and conveniently placed manhole covers in this movie than in an episode of Scooby Doo. I thought it was an interesting plot with the Illuminati threatening the Church, but I just kept shaking my head in disbelief with the way the details played out. Towards the end of the movie a young kid behind me made a particular comment and I thought to myself, "Don't kids have funny imaginations?" I was shocked, minutes later, when his far-fetched prediction came true.

Despite my criticisms, I still thought the movie was entertaining, and I can't blame Ron Howard for anything because the cast, acting, special effects, and plot were all good, but he had to make a movie based on an unrealistic book. I recommend Angels and Demons as a video rental and I give it 6.9 stars.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Courtroom Movies

There is something exciting about a courtroom setting in a movie. The intensity of a courtroom movie always seems to be ratcheted up when you realize that a sentence is about to be passed and every little detail in one's presentation could make the difference between life and death. Here are some movies that are known for their courtroom drama.

Inherit the Wind
12 Angry Men
On the Waterfront
Erin Brockovich
The Rainmaker
To Kill A Mockingbird
Judgement at Nuremberg
A Few Good Men
Flash of Genius
A Man for All Seasons
Runaway Jury
Kramer vs. Kramer
A Time to Kill
The Hurricane
Paths of Glory
Adams Rib
A Civil Action

Feel free to add any others you have enjoyed that I may have missed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Echelon Conspiracy

I had never even heard about the Echelon Conspiracy, but my Netflix account recommended it to me as a movie I might like. The Netflix computer got it right that I like conspiracy movies but it must have forgotten that I hate crappy movies.

There were several elements in this movie that reminded me of other films. It had some Mission Impossible overtones with Ving Rhames bossing everyone around and much of it taking place in the Czec republic. There were some James Bond wanna be scenes in the casino, but the biggest similarity was the nearly exact same plot as Eagle Eye featuring a young guy getting framed for something he didn't do by a rogue computer giving him orders over a cell phone while being chased the whole time by government agents. Everything bothered me in this movie, even the noise his cell phone made each time a new text message appeared.

The main character really bugged me. This was my first exposure to Shane West and I was not impressed. I've seen better acting Hamburger Helper commercials. My favorite scene was when the lead character and a female spy were together in an apartment. A sniper opened fire on them from the rooftops across the street while two other armed attackers broke in to kill them. The lead character took cover in a bathtub and cowered while the wounded lady fought off the bad guys. He finally got out and helped her but I have never seen such role reversal in a movie before.

I'll admit I was tired while watching this and that didn't help my review any. I wish I would have fallen asleep during the opening credits. I'm sorry for being so critical. I'm sure this will come around full circle someday when I make a movie and it gets bad reviews, but I can only give this 4.9 Stars.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Terminator Salvation

I had been trying to see this movie for about a month, but three weeks ago, Terminator Salvation completely disappeared from the theaters. I know that is a common occurrence right before a movie goes to the dollar theater or comes out on video, but 3 weeks? Anyway, it finally made it to the dollar theater so I am able to give you my review.

I liked the dark serious style to this movie. It kind of reminded me of the bleak feel that The Dark Knight had, but this movie was not nearly as good. I was impressed with the special effects and the battle scenes with the giant machines. I'll admit that a movie can be really crappy but if there are enough cool visual and sound effects I can sometimes still be entertained. At times I was distracted during the movie because I kept wondering "Was this the scene when Christian Bale flipped out during filming?"

I liked the movie overall and I liked Sam Wothington in his role, but towards the end, things just got too hard to take. Overriding a terminator bullet bike with a zip drive, the ease with which he infiltrated Skynet, John Connor being impaled through the chest with a metal pole and surviving, the bad cliches, etc.

Despite the fake parts (most of the movie), I still enjoyed the style, the action, the score, the tribute to Arnold and the special effects. I also give it points for giving me another movie to add to my futuristic time line. I was just looking to relax after a stressful week and didn't have very high expectations so that's probably why I'm not as critical of the movie as others have been. I give Terminator Salvation 7.3 Stars. Seeing all those mean machines ripping the crap out of everything made me want to check Transformers out next week.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Race To Witch Mountain

When I saw that Disney was coming out with a remake of Escape to Witch Mountain, I had no intention of seeing it in the theater, but I decided to rent it for my kids once it was released on video.

I'm such a cool Dad that I not only rented it for my kids, but I also rented the original 1975 Escape to Witch Mountain featuring Tony and Tia and Eddie Albert. We watched the original first and they thought it was kind of lame but they still enjoyed it. I told them we'd watch the new one with better special effects the next night.

The next night we watched Race to Witch Mountain. I knew it was a bad sign when 3 of my kids walked out after 15 minutes into it and said they'd rather go to bed. I fell asleep twenty minutes into the movie so I decided to give the remake a shot again the next day. After watching the movie I thought it was horrible. I really like The Rock, but he was totally wasted in this movie. I know this is a kids movie about aliens but that being said it was still so totally fake and stupid and it made the original look like Schindler's List.

I imagine Disney spent a lot of money on this movie and had plenty of resources at their disposal, but it still seemed like a low budget movie at times. Sorry for being so critical, but it was fake and dumb and I should have known not to rent it. I give it 5.0 stars.
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