Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Transformers was a pretty good movie. Some parts of the storyline could have been explained better, but on the whole it was entertaining. Shia LaBouf is one of the best young actors I've seen on the screen since Haylee Joel Osment. He completely owns the film. His acting skills are more than impressive, and I am very, very excited to see his next films.

I must say that the special effects for Transformers were absolutely breathtaking. The animation, the texturing, the lighting, everything. To create and animate one of the transformers would be insane. But to bring to life more than eight and then have them fight is absolutely unbelievable.

Humorous and fun to watch, Transformers is a movie for most of the family. The PG-13 rating is a "DER" to parents that says, don't bring your toddler to see a loud, violent movie. But if you want to see some awesome, awesome action with an all-star cast and robots beating each other up, then you've found the right movie.
Conclusion: Funny and exciting, Transformers is pure entertainment.
Rated: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humor, and language. (Don't bring kids younger than 13 unless you want to deal with some questions regarding the sexual humor.)
  • For the scene where Sam is clinging to a statue at the top of a building, although he wore a safety harness, he was actually on top of the building with no safety net beneath him, so Shia LaBeouf's terror was real.
  • The US government supplied planes and assistance to the production.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard

Willis and Long in
Live Free or Die

The fourth and last of the Die Hard movies has at last arrived. The quadruplogy has always been a much-loved guys movie, filled with Bruce Willis’ character, John McClane, who’s just a regular Joe Schmo cop trying to save his family from the latest terrorist threat. The wisecracking Willis, his macho/family-man character, and his signature yippekayay have become representative of the American action hero. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Live Free is a sequel worthy of the classic series.

This summer’s blockbusters have so far all featured the return of a much-loved character. The same is true of Live Free or Die Hard, in which John McClane is back with a slew of new comebacks. Willis is at last unabashedly bald in this action flick with not much of a plot, but with plenty of kickbutt stunts that totally make up for it.

Cyber-terrorist, Thomas Gabriel, is a hacker with a mission: destroy the U.S. of A., just to prove he can. His plan is to take out all of America’s technology- communications, utilities, etc, and to create chaos in general everywhere. He gets several other hackers to help him and then has them killed to cover his tracks. Meanwhile, John McClane (Willis) has been sent to retrieve the only hacker still left alive, Matt Farrell (who is played by the endearing Justin Long. Aka “the Mac guy”.) McClane must keep the young hacker alive, in spite of many evil henchmen’s best efforts, because he holds the key to saving the world.

Live Free has plenty of redeeming qualities to make up for the imperfect plot. For one, it’s incredibly, and I mean incredibly, entertaining. McClane runs around shooting up bad guys, dodging flaming cars, and blowing up helicopters, I mean come on, it can’t get much better than that. Countless explosions and ridiculous stunts have a way of retaining their entertaining value.

Willis gives a great performance, and expresses his BA-ness whenever he gets the chance. However, Justin Long very nearly steals Willis’ movie right from under him. His skittish hacker/anti-hero character is beautifully played. Many, many kudos to Long. In addition to these performances, Kevin Smith makes a humorous appearance, and Olyphant’s portrayal of Gabriel is well-done.

Although some of the stunts, like McClane wrestling a fighter jet may represent totally unneeded idiocy, they are nonetheless amusing. The film is filled with political messages on everything from national security to Iraq and terrorism. A must-see summer movie for any fan of old westerns of John McClane’s previous adventures. Be sure you can handle the violence and constant profanity.

Conclusion: The explosions are too cool to miss and the political messages easy enough to forget.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and a brief sexual situation.


  • On the traffic monitoring screens showing the created traffic jam ups, some reused footage (armored car turning) from the Italian Job (2003) can be seen.
  • The French title translates as "Die Hard 4.0: Return to Hell".


Premonition would have to be pretty low on any list of movies I’ve ever seen. The plot is not twisting and interesting, but instead is just purely unintelligible.

One day Sandra Bullock wakes up to find that her husband, Jim, has been killed in a horrific car accident. She and her family are devastated. The next day Jim is alive again, so Bullock figures it’s just a nightmare. Or is it? One day he’s dead, then he’s alive, then it’s his funeral, then he’s alive. What is going on? By this point the audience is so confused, they have lost all interest, they just want to figure out how the crap this movie will resolve itself. Sandra Bullock must race against time and defy fate to save her husband’s life.

Unfortunately, what some are calling a “gripping psychological thriller” is nothing but a confusing jumble of random scenes with Sandra Bullock crying and running away from ominous symbolism like dead birds. Messing around with future/present/past silliness can be pretty difficult. Sometimes if the director knows what he’s doing it can work, but Premonition fails miserably and the audience just ends up at the end of the movie going “What the *&%$?” and wishing it really were all a dream.

Premonition is a pathetic mix of Memento and The Lake House. Sandra Bullock does her best and adds her great acting to the cake mix, but without minor ingredients like a plot and an ending, Premonition comes up lacking. This film barely deserves its one out of five stars. Sandra Bullock is the only thing of value Premonition has to offer.

The Conclusion: Just plain skip it, it's just not worth it.

Rated PG-13 for
some violent content, disturbing images, thematic material and brief language.

Friday, July 13, 2007


300 is probably the most violent, the most gory film I've ever seen. Another one of Frank Miller's graphic novels (Sin City ring any bells?), 300 is excellent. The acting is excellent. The visual effects are unbelievable, and the CG is breath-taking. The storyline could be stronger, but on the whole, 300 is a film that will blow your mind.

King Xerxes of Persia has conquered all of the known world. All of it except Sparta. King Leonides and 300 Spartans are all that stand in the way of over a million Persians destroying Sparta forever. The Persians descend upon the Spartans, but how long can only 300 soldiers, the world best warriors though they may be, hold up against Persia's millions? Meanwhile, Leonides' wife attempts to convince the counsel to send reinforcements to Leonides.

Based on Frank Miller's graphic novel, the movie depicts the epic legend of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., in which 300 soldiers stood against a vast force of millions. As the legend goes, the 300 inflicted such losses on the Persians, while sustaining minimal damage to their own force, that the Persians gave up.

No hesitation, no retreat, no mercy. For honor, for glory.

King Leonides is played by Gerard Butler, best known for playing the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera with Emmy Rossum. Butler is phenomenal as Leonides, and is probably one of the best, least known actors in the business. Lena Headey plays the Queen and she too is absolutely spectacular. Dominic West is a scheming counsel man, also excellent, and David Wenham is Dilios, equally fantastic. I'm running out of synonyms for "amazing".

Conclusion: If you can stomach the gore and violence, 300 is and absolute MUST-SEE.

Rated R for graphic battle sequences throughout and some sexuality/nudity.

Interesting Trivia:

  • The filmmakers used bluescreen 90% of the time, and greenscreen for 10%. They chose blue because it better matched the lighting paradigm (green would have been too bright) and because red garments (a la spartan capes) look better when shot over blue.

  • There were two days of location shooting, which were for the horses that were shot for the 'approaching Sparta' scene.

Legend of the Red Dragon

Probably one of the worst movies I have ever seen, Legend of the Red Dragon is a horribly bad movie for such a talented martial artist as Jet Li. The effects were terrible, the dubbing was bad, and the acting was ridiculously idiotic. The script was awful and the storyline and plot were laughable. The martial arts were horrible. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon used stylized martial arts. This movie uses silly moves and magic spears. Jet Li doesn't get to do anything cool. The editing is horrible. And whatever the tagline says, the story is in no way epic. I have nothing more to say except that this movie doesn't even deserve to be called a film.

Conclusion: see this if you're so bored and so sad that you need something pathetic to laugh at.

Rated R for graphic violence and gore.


Troy is a difficult movie to judge. On the one hand, the visual effects are stunning, the stunts and athleticism are incredible, and the sheer scale of the film is spectacular. On the other, some of the acting is not so great, and the story has been changed quite a bit from Homer's The Iliad, to focus more on other characters.

The story begins with a young prince of Troy named Paris, played by Orlando Bloom. Paris falls in love with a woman whom some call the most beautiful woman on earth, Helen of Sparta. Unfortunately, Helen happens to be the wife of a powerful warlord named Menelaus. Helen and Paris escape Sparta together the day after a peace treaty has just been signed between Troy and Sparta. Paris brings Helen back to Troy with him, and they prepare to live happily ever after.

Unfortunately for them, the gods have a different plan. Menelaus, enraged and insulted, turns to his brother, Agamemnon, leader of the largest army in the world. With 1,000 ships and 50,000 men, the Spartans set sail for Troy. Accompanying this force is Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever known. He fights, not for honor, not for power, but for glory. Achilles wants his name to be remember throughout history, and with his godlike fighting ability, he should have no trouble doing so. Achilles is portrayed by Brad Pitt, who does an excellent job of getting Achilles' character across. The warrior is egotistical, proud, and he lets his emotions govern his sword.

Protecting Troy is Paris' big brother, Hector. Eric Bana plays Prince Hector, who is honorable and noble. Peter O'Toole is excellent as Priam, father of Hector and Paris, and king of Troy. Helen is played by the smashing Diane Kruger, who has the looks and the acting ability to portray Helen very well. Brenden Gleeson is Menelaus and he is certainly good at yelling and being angry. Brian Cox plays Agamemnon and does a great job yelling and being angry. The part of Paris, the girly lover boy, is perfect for the feminine Orlando Bloom.

Again, the visual effects of Troy are just phenomenal. Realizing that not all of the stunts are blue screened, and not all of the sets are computer generated, is almost unbelievable. A full scale model of the city of Troy, and its gate was actually built. The massive Trojan horse was constructed full scale and rolled through the city. Eric Bana and Brad Pitt did not have stuntmen do their stunts, which is impressive, considering the muscle necessary to perform said stunts. The fighting scenes are magnificent and the editing is very well done.

Pitt does an overall good job as Achilles. Some scenes could have been better, some of the acting wasn't top-notch. However, in other parts of the movie, Achilles is played beautifully. Achilles is a prime example of a human being. He tries to be a glorious hero, someone people will remember. He is not particularly merciful, and he is not perfect. But he is vulnerable and Brad Pitt does a great job depicting this vulnerability.

"Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone, and wonder who we were, how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved?"

This quote just about sums up the purpose of the movie.

Conclusion: See it if you don't mind violence and a few cheesy lines. Achilles' fighting scenes make up for the acting.

Rating: R for graphic violence and some sexuality/nudity

Interesting Trivia:
  • Brad Pitt and Eric Bana made an agreement that they would pay for every hit they accidentally made. The costs were $50 for a lighter blow and $100 for a hard blow. Pitt ended up paying $750 to Bana, who didn't have to pay Pitt anything.
  • A hurricane destroyed much of the Troy set and damaged Brad Pitt's house. Pitt was so tired from the filming the night before he slept through the hurricane.


Find out which films to absolutely skip and which you can't miss. THese are my opinions on current films and timeless classics