July 2005

Stealth

by Alan Rapp on July 29, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Stealth
  • IMDB: link

stealth-posterEver wonder what would happen if you took half the script for Iron Eagle 2 and half the script for Short Circuit and removed anything remotely good, or funny, or interesting?  I didn’t either, but obviously the makers of this film needed to solve this philosophical dilemma.

Stealth is the worst type of summer movie: a summer action adventure film that breaks all the rules of reality and the world in which it takes place indiscriminately.  The movie steals plot, story, scenes, and characters from everything from 2001: A Space Odyssey to War Games to Firefox, and yet can’t seem to capture any single moment of believability, fun, or excitement.

Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, and Josh Lucas play Navy pilots who have been specially trained to fly a new jet fighter.  The commander of this project (Sam Shepard) shows up to introduce them to their new team member.  EDI (who will be referred to as Johnny Number Five for the rest of this review)  is a new jet that is controlled completely by a state of the art computer intelligence.  The crew is uneasy about letting a computer into the squad, and even more so after Johnny Number Five is hit by lightning and starts to think for himself.

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Must Love Dogs Tries To Defy Summer Fluff

by Marion M. Merritt on July 29, 2005

in Uncategorized

Must Love Dogs Tries to Defy Summer Fluff but it falls short, despite a stellar cast of seasoned, comic actors.
Wasn’t it only three years ago that Oscar nominated , Diane Lane, was in her full, sensuous glory, creating steamy, screen heat with hunky Olivier Martinez and driving a tame, detached Richard Gere to murder, in order to keep her, in “Unfaithful?” Still graced with the that rare kind of natural beauty that would turn both men and women’s heads, as she entered any room, we now have to watch as Diane Lane is cast as a woman who can’t get a date, on her own, in an easy to digest, romantic comedy, Must Love Dogs. The hard part is that we have to believe in her struggles to find a date, then love, in order for this film to work at all.

It has been eight months since pre-school teacher, Sarah’s (Diane Lane) divorce. Her large, close-knit, Irish-Catholic family is determined to help her get out of her pajamas and into someone else’s. We first meet this interfering clan, crowded in Sarah’s kitchen, all bearing photos of their idea of a perfect man for her. It doesn’t matter if he is married, divorced, gay, an anonymous model from a magazine, the main criteria is that they are male and a potential date and will get Sarah back into the living and loving segment of society.
Sarah’s glib sister, Carol (Elizabeth Perkins, who throws out some funny, pointed lines, a la Eve Arden at her gal pal best) decides to create an online profile and set Sarah up on potential dates, all without her prior knowledge. With too little prodding, Sarah dives into her love assignment, setting up a sometimes funny montage of stereotypical, bad first dates. We get a look of what is out there for single women over forty : someone who is too close for comfort, a jerk who tells her to her radiant face that she is too old, he likes them around 18 (so why did he answer her ad), a depressed crybaby and one who is looking for a some mild, kinky action.
At the same time we watch Sarah’s searches unfold, we are introduced to freshly divorced, Jake (John Cusack), a sensitive renaissance man, who designs and builds wood rowing skulls, the old world way. He is also reluctant to get back into the dating world and would rather watch Doctor Zhivago for the millionth time.
Sarah’s sister, Carol, has not given up, despite never having to go on any of the bad dates and places a new ad and a new criteria. The potential suitor must love dogs. This is the ad that catches a non dog owning Jake’s eye. Oh, Sarah doesn’t own a dog either, so both “rent” a pooch for the date. Of course, this first meeting has to go badly because neither are honest and Carol has added some extra breast tissue to Sarah that just isn’t there and Jake calls her on her breast reduction. It is a combination of first date nerves, fear of acknowledging chemistry and confronting each other’s dishonesty that convinces Sarah to cut it short and flee.
Yes, these two are meant to be together, but, before this can happen, we are must go through a land mind of misunderstandings, road blocks, missed meetings and a side sexual attraction between Sarah and one of her student’s separated father, a pseudo-quasi-renaissance man, Bobby (Dermot Mulroney).
Meanwhile, Sarah’s suave, handsome, refined, widowed father, Bill (Christopher Plummer) is involved in his own online dating entanglements. Unlike his gun shy daughter, Bill wants to date as many women as possible. One of the three of his steady dates is the flamboyant, trailer park-living, Dolly (Stockard Channing in the film’s most honest character). We discover that there is a huge heart underneath all the make up and turquoise jewelry .
By coincidence, the handsome Bobby and his cute son, also live in the same trailer park as Dolly, so he and Sarah can conveniently run into each other outside the preschool and explore their mutual heat for each other.
Even though Sarah has found two interesting possibilities in both Jake and Billy, she continues her online search, this time with confidence and on her own, setting up another round of not so amusing bad-date montages.
Sarah is constantly being bombarded with advice and interference from her well-meaning family, but, luckily she has the now standard, gay best friend and co-worker, Leo (Brad William Henke) who represents the voice of reason.
Will Sarah chose the sensitive Jake or the dangerously handsome Bobby? Will her family leave her alone long enough for her to choose? Will we even care?

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Constantine

by December Lambeth on July 28, 2005

in DVD Reviews 

Imagine we are all chess pieces that the forces of good and evil use to play with. Constantine takes the depths of hell and brings it to our T.V. as if LA was on fire and the freeway is Hell Central. Based on the characters from Vertigo “Hellblazer” a comic book, Constantine takes the audience from the illustrated page directly to a dark, gothic, and somewhat comedic cinematic experience. Some of the scenes could easily be turned into a vivid graphic novel that captivates its readers and puts them into a trance.

Unfortunately, fans of Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, and Garth Ennis’s might be a little disappointed with Constantine’s punchy plot, freakish monsters, and stiff main actor Keanu Reeves as the antihero John Constantine.

Constantine
3 Stars

Imagine we are all chess pieces that the forces of good and evil use to play with. Constantine takes the depths of hell and brings it to our T.V. as if LA was on fire and the freeway is Hell Central. Based on the characters from Vertigo “Hellblazer” a comic book, Constantine takes the audience from the illustrated page directly to a dark, gothic, and somewhat comedic cinematic experience. Some of the scenes could easily be turned into a vivid graphic novel that captivates its readers and puts them into a trance.

Unfortunately, fans of Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, and Garth Ennis’s might be a little disappointed with Constantine’s punchy plot, freakish monsters, and stiff main actor Keanu Reeves as the antihero John Constantine.

Constantine starts out with a true bang. Homeless people are digging for “treasures” under an old bridge, one of them run across the Spear of Destiny, known to be the blade to have pierced Christ’s side during the Crucifixion. This is where it gets good, as the guy is crossing the street BAM a car runs smack into him. The technical brilliance behind this massive crushed wreck and the guy getting up and walking away is absolutely awe-inspiring and a real chair clincher. Next scene is a moment out of The Exorcist, a little girl climbing the walls needing a little help from John Constantine. He pulls a demon out of her, only to realize there is something drastically wrong, this is a soldier demon trying to come over onto our plane in corporeal form.

John spends his days trying to buy back his salvation, by hunting for that one thing that will put him back into the Lord’s good graces. As a youth he had committed suicide, a mortal sin in they eyes of God, and spent a few seconds in Hell before being spat back out by mere luck of life. John runs across the path of Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz), a cop who is investigating the death of her twin sister who had jumped off of the roof of a crazy ward and Angela won’t accept her death as a suicide. She recruits a reluctant Constantine to help her solve the mystery behind her sister’s death. John realizes that there is something special about Angela; she has the same visual abilities as he does, and she can see half-breeds and other spooky elements that most do not. John with the assistance of Papa Midnite (Djimon Hounson), a sorcerer and club owner for half-breeds, demonic and angelic, Beeman (Max Baker) his nervous supplier of occult tools and his apprentice Chas Kramer (Shia LaBeouf) the comic relief, start to collect and organize the clues to Angela’s sister’s death. Along the way they meet up with a little resistance from Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) an androgynous, half-breed angel and Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale) a creepy half-breed demon.

John had accidentally given the half-breeds exactly what they wanted, Angela, a powerful psychic. Balthazar had trapped John and handed Angela over to Gabriel to perform the ritual to bring Satan’s son to our plane. John and Chas rush to the mental ward to stop the transformation, but show up a bit too late. John takes his life again, knowing he would need a very powerful force to stop what was going to happen and that Satan disparately wanted him back in Hell. Here comes the best part to the film, Lucifer (Peter Stormore) appears. This character truly gave me the creeps and I would imagine if Lucifer existed, this is exactly how he would be. Pissing him off wasn’t a good idea, but John figure what’s left to loose. He had asked for Angela’s sister’s life in replace for his and stopping his son from coming aboard. Well, of course, this was the one act of redemption that God would forgive all his sins and allow John to enter the pearly gates. Lucifer is livid and takes John’s lung cancer away and makes him go back to his existence on earth trying to tempt him into another mortal sin so he can have him back in Hell.

 

Constantine shows some worthy talent and a great premise for a story, but shies away from the adventure it could have been. I think it should have went a great deal further, really pushing the lines of right and wrong and giving the audience a true thrill ride. First time director Francis Lawrence did a great job, he had only worked on music videos prior to this project and it shows. The edgy and sinister dark sets truly bring the audience into the scenes, but sadly the plot comes up shallow and muddled leaving the audience wanting a little more. If you are in for the talent and a little Keanu Reeves action, then Constantine is the film for you. You are not going to get any true depth or find the meaning to life here, but if you watch Constantine with a light and less serious approach, you might find it quite entertaining and visually stimulating.

Tron

by Alan Rapp on July 28, 2005

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Tron
  • IMDB: link

Remember when Frisbees were Cool?

Tron is something of a novelty.  The film was the first to rely heavily on CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) during a time when no one used computers in movies.  The technology was new and limited, but because the film was made at such a time the movie has a look and feel that no other film is likely to duplicate.  The way the the film was colored and backlight by hand frame by frame, is too labor intensive for our Star Wars / Jurassic Park world.  Rather than using CGI to create more believable images or other worlds, the creators of Tron realized the limitations of the technology and instead focused on using light against the black background to produce a one of a kind art form.  The difference is important.  Even after 20 years have passed the movie still holds up even though the technology used to create it has been passed by.

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Welcome to Fantasy Island

by Alan Rapp on July 25, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Island
  • IMDB: link

So…how much for a clone of Scarlett Johansson?

There are two ways to review a film:  The first is to judge it on whether it met your expectations going in and the second is to look at the film and ask if it still works despite its flaws.  Under the first category The Island fails early on, but under the second it succeeds spectacularly.  I went to see what I thought was going to be a big budget high-thinking moral sci-fi tale about cloning, but what I got was a huge summer action adventure chase movie inside a sci-fi structure that just blew me away for two hours.  Does it deal with the moral issues?  Kinda’.  Would I have liked to see them develop the philosophical and ethical implications more deeply?  Probably.  But did I enjoy the movie?  You better damn believe I did.  I had a blast.

Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) is unhappy.  He’s one of the lucky ones; he survived the cataclysm and radiation that devastated the earth and lives in relative comfort with the other survivors who hope every night that they can win a chance to live outside on the island, the last free uncontaminated zone on the planet.

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