James Cameron’s George Lucas’ Avatar

Posted in Reviews at 1:11 pm by Stephen

Two centuries and $75 billion in the making, Avatar has received strong reviews and big box office, though I personally found it to be a bit of a disappointment. It’s an amazing looking movie — especially in 3D — but it seems like director and writer James Cameron spent all that time working on the visuals when he could have taken a few more passes on the script.

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Thoughts on Three Recent Movies

Posted in Reviews at 2:13 pm by Stephen

I’ve been watching a lot of movies this summer, but I haven’t quite had a chance to comment on all of them. Below the jump are my jumbled thoughts on three recent flicks I’ve seen: Superbad, The Simpsons Movie, and Lucky You.

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Harry Potter 5 OK; IMAX 3D Not

Posted in Reviews at 9:44 am by Stephen

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a perfectly decent film, but it’s probably the lowpoint in the film series. As the least cinematic of the novels — at least until its amazing climax — it must have been a tough book to adapt, but the screenplay by Michael Goldenberg does a nice job of cutting the source material. Credit must also be given to editor Mark Day, as it feels like half the movie is told via (very well done) montage.

I made a point of catching the flick in the IMAX format, which features that climax in 3D. As much as I enjoyed the film, I am sorry to report the 3D format is a bust. While there are a few “Wow!” moments, for the most part they are not worth the loss in image clarity that results from it. I found that the process of converting the traditional cinematography into 3D is hardly perfect, as many times we see images that do not resolve correctly using the polarized 3D glasses (often there is a bit of a double vision effect).

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Die Hard 4 Not Very Good

Posted in Reviews at 3:00 am by Stephen

Imagine that somebody made a video game featuring the characters from the Die Hard series. Now imagine that they took this video game and turned it into a movie, and hired the dude from the Apple commercials (”I’m a Mac!”) to play a hip computer hacker, Kevin Smith (”I made Clerks!”) to play a less-hip computer hacker, and Len Wiseman (”I made Underworld AND Underworld Part 2!”) to direct it. Now imagine that they neutered the violence and language to get a PG-13 rating.

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Somehow Transformers Is Not Terrible

Posted in Reviews at 1:11 pm by Stephen

Why did I stand in line for an hour last night at 9 p.m. to watch a Michael Bay movie I expected to hate? Because I’m retarded, that’s why. But you know what? Transformers — and I can’t believe I’m typing these words — isn’t terrible. I don’t know that it’s particularly good, but it’s big, it’s loud, it’s goofy, and it’s even kinda fun. I actually enjoyed a Michael Bay movie about huge robots beating the crap out of each other.

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Ratatouille Exceeds Expectations

Posted in Reviews at 3:17 pm by Stephen

To say I was excited for Ratatouille would be an understatement. As a film from the best American animation house (Pixar) directed by one of the best animated directors working — Brad Bird, whose previous films include The Iron Giant (1999) and The Incredibles (2004) — I was really hoping for something wonderful. I am happy to report that, unlike Live Free or Suck Hard (more on that one later this week), Ratatouille is a masterpiece, a wonderful film that met my expectations and then some.

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1408: A Fun Summer Diversion

Posted in Reviews at 3:44 am by Stephen

So there’s this hotel room in New York City, and anyone who goes in dies in under an hour. Yeah, it sounds silly, but 1408 by director Mikael HÃ¥fström (making his first big-budget film) is a pretty effective one-room horror flick for most of its running time. If it runs out of gas sometime in the third act, at least it was a good ride getting there.

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Grindhouse: Gory, Goofy, Great

Posted in Reviews at 1:12 am by Stephen

If you have any inclination to see Grindhouse, I’d recommend you get out to it quick. It hasn’t done too well at the box office this weekend, meaning it probably won’t last long in the theaters, but it’s a wonderful flick that I think is only really appreciated in a theater. If you’re not sure you’d like it, you probably won’t. But if the idea of Rose McGowan sporting a machine gun in the place of a leg and fighting zombies sounds incredibly awesome instead of incredibly dumb, it’s the movie for you.

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Zodiac Crafty, Well Crafted

Posted in Reviews at 5:44 am by Stephen

Zodiac (2007) is one of the most detailed crime films I’ve ever seen. It was not quite the movie I expected from director David Fincher — whose previous films include Fight Club (1999) and Seven (1995) — but I was very happy with what I got. Rather than a showy thriller, Fincher has delivered a precise and meticulous police procedural that is every bit as interesting and compelling as any of his deeply psychological films.

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Idiocracy Worth Tracking Down

Posted in Reviews at 9:32 am by Stephen

In 1999, writer-director Mike Judge — until that point, best known for creating the cartoons Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill — made a little film called Office Space that was pretty much dumped into theaters by its studio, 20th Century Fox. It received fair reviews and almost no buzz, but its quirky tale of life in a modern workplace resonated on video, and it soon become something of a modern cult classic. Knowing this, what I can’t figure out is why Fox did exactly the same thing to Idiocracy (2006), Judge’s next film.

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