Thursday, May 22, 2003

The Iron Giant

In a Nutshell: Quite good, but not a favorite.

Quick Plot: A fireball falls to earth, prompting a call to the government. In that fireball was a metal man. Hogarth Hughes find him while roaming in the woods. He befriends the giant, feeding him and teaching him to speak (well, sort-of). But the government is after the metal man as well, intent on destroying him.

In Detail: As I said, it really was pretty good. The animation was very well done. The story made its points without being too heavy-handed. It really had everything: laughter, tears, fun, and heart, but it is still missing just a little touch of.... well, something, that prevents it from reaching "great" in my book. Might change my mind when looking for good stuff for my children to watch. I know it was rated PG, but I really think it could have done without the language. There wasn't much, and it was very mild, but it simply wasn't necessary, and the film would have been perfectly fine without it.

Will I Buy It? Maybe. I won't run right out and buy it, but if we need a good movie for the kids, we'll probably pick it up.

I Spy

In a Nutshell: Not good. We had a busy weekend, so we didn't even finish it; not that it was so bad we turned it off, but it just wasn't good enough to keep watching when we had other important things to do (like see The Matrix Reloaded).

Quick Plot: Alex Scott (Owen Wilson) needs to get to Hungary to recover a stolen military prototype for an "invisible" jet. But he needs cover. Enter Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy), the reigning undefeated boxing champion, happens to have a match coming up there. Alex will attend as Robinson's assistant. But Robinson wants in on the "spy stuff," too. Much mayhem ensues.

In Detail: I think my husband summed it up best: Owen Wilson is much better as a sidekick to Jackie Chan (Shanghai Noon, Shanghai Knights) than he is as lead to an Eddie Murphy sidekick. I know Murphy's character was supposed to be arrogant and rude and obnoxious, but it just wasn't funny to me, at all. By almost an hour into the film, we hadn't even laughed, and Murphy was just getting more an more annoying. Even Famke Jansen wasn't enough to make things interesting (sure hope she had a bigger role in the last half of the film than she had in the first). We just turned it off. We had two other rentals to get through, plus The Matrix Reloaded, so we decided not to waste any more time on this movie. It was simply average, with nothing at all exciting about it to recommend. Glad we didn't bother seeing it at the theater.

Will I Buy It? Nope.

The Emperor's Club

In a Nutshell: A perfectly fine movie. Not as good as Dead Poets, IMO.

Quick Plot: Chronicles two slices of the life of Mr. Hundert (Kevin Klein), a history professor at an all-boys Catholic school, and his interactions with students, including one who is more interested in getting into trouble, and taking his classmates down with him.

In Detail: It was quite good, if mostly predictable. (Remember, I don't mind predictable movies, but this one was more predictable than most. I could say lines before they got there.) I did not find it to be as profound, as moving, or as dramatic as Dead Poets Society, for me personally. I wish it had focused a little more on some of the other boys in the group (as opposed to just the main one). Perhaps there was more that got cut. It made the points it wanted to make without browbeating you (except in one place), but it just didn't strike me the way DPS did. Might have something to do with the fact that I consider DPS almost life-changing for me in some ways. Compared with that, how could Emperor's Club possibly measure up? :) But even DH agreed that it was not as good. Still good; not a bad rental.

Will I Buy It? No, it wasn't meaningful enough to me.

The Matrix Reloaded

In a Nutshell: Good, but not as good as the first. Not as consistent or as tightly written as the original. Still manages to throw you for a loop at the end. If you haven't seen it yet, there is a preview for The Matrix Revolutions after all of the credits (but there are a ton of credits (like 8 minutes or so), so be prepared to sit for a while to see it.

Quick Plot: The Machines are attacking Zion, and only Neo can stop them. Along the way, he bumps into some old "friends" (Agent Smith and The Oracle), and a few new ones (you'll see). That about covers it.

In Detail: A touch disappointing, but then again, what film could possibly live up to that kind of hype? But seriously, I simply don't think it was as good of a movie. It was lacking much of the fun philosophy of the first one, IMO, until near the very end. I think there were some fights and effects just for the sake of having them, as opposed to the original where they were purposeful. Due to the restrained budget on the first one, they had to use the effects for just that, maximum effect. Here, they could use them "just because," and I really feel it detracts from the film. I also found the ending quite lame. There were two other places they could have ended it before they actually did. (We were really convinced it would end at the later of those two, but it just kept going.) The "mostly talk" portions of the film dragged on for too long without saying anything important (well, anything important to this movie; might be important later). There were other facts or facets that they just threw out there without much explanation, and they never came back to them. Maybe they will in Revolutions, but if not, they missed some great potential moments and they left us hanging on some aspects. Quite frustrating. Mainly, it was a good action flick, but it lacked the tautness and delightful discoveries of the first. Go with lower expectations, and you might enjoy it more. And I'm serious about having enough time to go to the bathroom during the credits and still make it back for the Revolutions preview; my brother did just that when we saw it with him. I have a slightly more in depth view of what disappointed me about the movie, but it contains spoilers that I don't want to include here. Let me know if you're interested. It also includes some thoughts and opinions about what might happen in the next movie (all personal theories, though; nothing official in any way).

Will I Buy It? Honestly, it depends on the third film (The Matrix Revolutions, opening in November 2003). If I don't like the way the whole series finishes up, then I'll just stick with the original and let the next two pass; it stands alone just fine, IMO. If I like Revolutions, then I'll have to have this one, for the sake of continuity.

Addendum: We didn't care for Revolutions either. As far as we are concerned, there is only the first movie, no sequels.

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

X2: X-Men United

In a Nutshell: WOW! Not sure what else to say, but WOW!

Quick Plot: General Stryker puts a plan in motion to wipe mutants from the face of the earth. He also seems to hold the key to Logan's past. Can the X-Men stop him? What will Logan learn, and at what cost?

In Detail: My oh my. That was a whale of a lot of plot and story to fit into that amount of time and space. And it is a 2.5 hour movie with previews. They sure cover a lot of territory. The budget is noticeably larger, but it's not wasted. The opening scene is just WOW! (I know I keep using that word, but it means *precisely* what I think it means, and it's the only word for it.) It is darker, more violent, and a bit more unsettling than the first film, but WOW! (Okay, okay, I'll try to stop.) Some plot holes, of course, but what do you expect. It is, after all, still a comic book film. I definitely need to see it again, preferably on the big screen. Bring on X3!

Will I Buy It? Yep. WOW! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Ghosts of the Abyss

In a Nutshell: Amazing, too short, and too much yapping.

Quick Plot: James Cameron's 3D IMAX film about the Titanic, the *real* one, at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean.

In Detail: The footage was simply breathtaking, what little it had. The film was about 45 minutes long, and only 20-25 minutes of it was actually footage of the ship. I understand he's proud of the technology, and I understand that lots of people worked hard on the expedition so you want to show them in the movie, but I went to this move to see the ship, not the people! And when people talk, you can have them talk over ship footage; we don't actually need to *see* them speak. But even with these complaints, it was totally worth the experience. What footage they did have of Titanic (both the bow and the stern) was just a wonder to behold. So beautiful, so etherial, so tragic. See it if you are a Titanic fan at all.

Will I Buy It? Many IMAX films are available now, including the first IMAX Titanic feature "Titanica," which I still haven't seen. May or may not buy it when the time comes; would lose a lot without the 3D.