Monday, August 12, 2002

x X x

In a Nutshell: A surprisingly good (but certainly not deep) action flick.

Quick Plot: Xander Cage is given the choice to serve time for his latest X-games type crime, or work off his sentence by becoming a spy for the US government. Throw in scuzzy bad guys, a slinky girl with an accent, a plot to take over the world, and about a million gallons each of adrenaline and testosterone, and you've got yourself x X x.

In Detail: I'm sure the fact that I even went to see this movie has raised eyebrows among some of you. I wasn't sure if I wanted to or not, but it was the only thing out I was even remotely interested in seeing. Mr. Diesel (couldn't even type that with a straight face) struck me as merely a no-neck thug who couldn't act his way out of a paper bag, and I had absolutely zero expectations for this movie. It is a totally brainless adrenaline film, and there's nothing wrong with that! (Speed is one of my favorite films, and it's pretty brainless.) I knew that going in, and it certainly didn't disappoint. The stunts are simply amazing (and occasionally believable), and the action (along with the deafening music) is non-stop. Vin Diesel even manages to convince you he might have a few of brain cells to rub together, which was a pleasant surprise. Occasionally, some of the dialog/acting was laughable, but what do you expect from such a genre? Some of the song lyrics were a little too, um, "much" for me, and I'm always slightly irked by putting in a girl just so the male lead has someone to oogle. "Gadget guy" (think Q, for Bond fans) is way fun, and definitely my favorite character. A deep movie? No. Predictable? Yes. But I still had a fabulously fun time!! Looking forward to the next installment in the franchise.

Will I Buy It? Mmmm.... I'd say it's on the "yes" side of maybe. I think I'll have to see it again to decide if there's enough in there to warrant watching over and over, but it was certainly fun enough to make me seriously consider it.

Monday, August 5, 2002


In a Nutshell: Quite different, quite funny; worth seeing.

Quick Plot: Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton escape from prison and decide to knock off a bank to get the cash needed to flee to Mexico. They become dubbed "The Sleepover Bandits" due to their tactic of holding the bank manager hostage over night, then accompanying him/her to the vault the next morning. Throw in Kate Blanchett as a hostage/love interest (and the inevitable love triangle), and you've got quite a mix.

In Detail: It's different. Not really what I was expecting, but still very good. I thought it would be more of a straight comedy, but there was quite a bit of drama to it. Plenty of laughs as well, though. Willis is the delightfully slightly-psycho action man of the group, and never ceases to amaze with his wild notions. Thornton is fantastic as the hypochondriac brain of the operation. Blanchett is kooky as the disgruntled wife/hostage/borderline nutcase and amazing to watch. The way the pieces fit together in the end is great!

Will I Buy It? Probably not. I liked the movie, but I didn't love it. A great rental, though.

3000 Miles to Graceland

In a Nutshell: Grade F; so bad, we didn't even finish it.

Quick Plot: Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, and others enter a Las Vegas casino dressed as Elvis impersonators. A heist (and lots of carnage) ensues, followed by bickering among the group members. What happens after that? I don't know, and I don't care.

In Detail: This movie was not what I was expecting, and if I had known what to expect, we wouldn't have rented it. I had wanted to see it for a while, thinking it was a comedy about the heist pulled by Elvis impersonators. Maybe more along the lines of "Ocean's 11," but totally different in tone and style. NOT! The heist takes place in the first 20 minutes or so, and I think it was trying to imitate John Woo. It was violent and bloody, though not really gory per se. After 40 minutes, we had smiled once, not laughed at all, and were totally unimpressed. We still had two other rentals to get through in the weekend, and we didn't want to waste any more time on this one, so we pushed stop. I should have known better, since it had David Arquette in it (there is only one film with him in it that I like, and that is in spite of his role). If you like his style plus dark black humor (if you can call it that), you might like this; perhaps Quentin Tarantino fans? Personally, I can't recommend this film to anyone for any reason.

Will I Buy It? Do you really even need to ask? NO!

K-19: The Widowmaker

In a Nutshell: Very good movie, borders on greatness; definitely worth seeing.

Quick Plot: The Soviet Union launches the world's most elite nuclear submarine, K-19, in the middle of the Cold War. During the first sea trials, the crew is faced with multiple malfunctions, including a potential core meltdown.

In Detail: Wow; what a powerful film! A word of warning: do not go to see this movie with the expectation of a lot of action. It is very dialog, character, and situation driven. There's nothing wrong with that! I like those kinds of movies. From that perspective, it is a very adult film. Don't take younger kids who are only interested in fights and chases; none are to be found here. It is tense, taught, and heart-wrenching, possibly too much so for the young. Makes me all the more frightened for our nuclear sub sailors, including my brother-in-law, who is a nuclear engine tech (sorry Mike, I know that's not your technical title). I thought the counterpoint between Harrison Ford's grizzled old veteran and Liam Neeson's protective fatherly type was excellent. Ford is showing his age, but it gives him even more presence. A genuinely good-to-great movie, made all the more powerful by knowing it is based on a real event.

Will I Buy It? I'm not sure that we would watch it enough to make it worth buying, but it's definitely worth seeing.