Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wall-E Review

Wall-E tells the story of the last robot left behind on Earth after humanity abandons the desecrated planet.

- Wall-E himself is the single cutest and most well-designed animated character I've ever seen. Just the sight of him makes me happy.
- The first 45 minutes of Wall-E, almost dialogue free, are some of the best I've seen in any film...ever. Anyone not moved by Wall-E's near melancholic longing for company, and his pursuit of his I-Pod inspired love interest, Eve, has a heart of stone. I would have been content, no...content is the wrong word, overjoyed is more like it, just watching Wall-E and Eve wander around Earth for three straight hours.
- The film's animation is absolutely gorgeous. The stellar quality of the animation is perhaps best on display in the incredible outer space 'dance' Wall-E and Eve have outside of the humans' spaceship colony.
- Pixar is the most consistently great studio around, even their weakest film, in my opinion, Cars, compares favorably with the best work of most other animation studios. Wall-E is a proud addition to the studios heritage and stands tall in the upper echelon of Pixar's work: Toy Story 1 and 2, The Incredibles and Finding Nemo.

- The film's second half, and the introduction of the humans, seems to sag a little bit. However, I'm quite certain that it feels weaker less because of any real flaws but more because of just how unbelievably good the first half is.

- Wall-E is one of the best animated movies of all time and a shoo-in for my top 10 at the end of the year. Wall-E, himself, is the best designed character I've ever seen and his love story is one of the most touching. I can't recommend this highly enough.

Overall Score: 9/10

Pathology Review

Pathology tells the story of a medical student (Milo Ventimiglia) drawn into a dark game of students killing people as in manners as untraceable as possible.

- Ventimiglia gives a decent enough performance in the lead role.
- The story, surprisingly, manages to keep Ventimiglia's lead character as a much grayer and less heroic character than might have been expected. Generally a movie like this would see the lead as a hero fighting the evil around him, here Ventimiglia's character is far darker and, perhaps, more compelling than the material deserves.

- Nearly every member of the supporting cast, especially lead villain Michael Weston, give performances that are amateurish at best.
- The premise, in and of itself, is really quite stupid.
- There are plot holes you could fly a 747 through.
- Despite Ventimiglia's interesting performance, the film's structure and plotting is so poorly thought out that the film is a labor to get through.
- The direction, editing and general production values are poor.

- Ventimiglia tries (and gives me hope for his career after Heroes) but the material is simply not very good.

Overall Score: 3/10

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Strangers Review

The Strangers, starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, tells the tale of a young couple terrorized by the strangers outside their house

- The acting from both Tyler and Speedman is really quite remarkable. Speedman's difficulty in emotionally deal with Tyler's rejection of his marriage proposal is very believable. Tyler is believably terrified throughout, but she doesn't have as much emotional material to work with.
- Director Bryan Bertino masterfully frames his shots throughout. Bertino also does a tremendous job of ratcheting up the tension to an almost unbearable level by the end of the film. Bertino also wrote the film and his screenplay is not half bad.
- Assuming it is the film's goal, The Strangers did a remarkable job of making me feel uneasy.

- The biggest problem with the film is that it didn't feel scary at all, just mortifying. In the torture porn movies (Saw, Hostel, etc) there is a moment of queasiness just before each disgusting thing happens, The Strangers is like having that feeling stretched out for 90 straight minutes.
- The ending is a letdown.

- The Strangers is surprisingly well made and incredibly tense, but it all just amounts to an exercise in sadism.

Overall Score: 6/10

The Eye Review

Jessica Alba plays a blind woman who begins to see scary things after an eye transplant in this Asian horror remake.
- Jessica Alba actually isn't terrible here (which isn't meant to say she's good).
- It's better than One Missed Call.
- It has some pretty interesting images and a moderately exciting climax.
- Alessandro Nivola is decent in support.

- Horrifyingly stupid explanation.
- Why are mediocre Asian horror movies remade into poor American horror movies so frequently?
- Parker Posey gives one of the worst performances of an otherwise strong career (but is still better than Alba).
- Rade Serbidzija embarrasses himself, though the material does him no favors.

- Certainly not the worst you'll see in the genre, The Eye is almost competently acted and directed, though its silly plot and dumb explanations make for a pretty middling movie.

Overall Score: 4/10

The Happening Review

M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening concerns a mysterious ailment afflicting humanity wherein people across the country mysteriously begin committing suicide.
- There some beautiful and haunting images here especially in the early segments.
- John Leguizamo gives an alright performance in support.
- At least it's more tolerable than Lady in the Water, perhaps because of the copious unintentional comedy. I couldn't stop laughing when the zoo employee feeds himself to his lions.

- The story (and explanation) is TREMENDOUSLY stupid
- Mark Wahlberg gives easily the worst performance of his career, his pronunciation of words is unnervingly incompetent.
- Zooey Deschannel is terrible here.
- I hate M. Night Shyamalan's writing an unbelievable amount.
- To say that there are a plotholes is an understatement akin to saying a handful of people died in World War II.

- I really can't stand Night nor his films. He is a pretentious ass in interviews and his work has been on a steady decline throughout his career. I think it's fair at this point to say that Sixth Sense was an aberration and Lady in the Water, The Village and The Happening are the sort of work we should expect in Night's future.

Overall Score: 3/10

The Incredible Hulk Review

- It's much better than Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk mess.
- Edward Norton makes a nice replacement for Eric Bana, he's one of the finest actors working today and does good work here.
- Tim Roth is a big time change of pace from the usual comic book villain and I think his Abomination really works.
- The film has a nice sense of humor and a suitable (but not slavish) devotion and appreciation for the source material.
- I love the Tony Stark cameo and the continued efforts (started with the Nick Fury cameo in Iron Man) to integrate the whole Marvel universe and build towards The Avengers in 2011. I also appreciate, like in Iron Man, subtle hints were dropped to open the way for a sequel.

- Liv Tyler's Betty Ross is a really vanilla character.
- Poor William Hurt hasn't given a particularly good performance in a long time, this is no exception.
- I hate CGI, there's WAY too much of it here.
- The movie feels kind of cheaply made and it's disturbing that it has a bigger budget than significantly more impressive event movies like Iron Man or Transformers.

- While it's no Iron Man, Incredible Hulk is a solid but unspectacular comic book movie that has at least managed to restore my faith that the big green fella CAN make for an effective film.
- I'm EXTREMELY curious to see the less commercial more introspective cut that Norton had wanted and the hour longer director's cut that will appear on the DVD/Blu-Rays. Marvel had mandated they release this present, more commercial, version.

Overall Score: 7/10

You Don't Mess with the Zohan Review

- Surprisingly funny
- Really funny riff on political wives
- It's sad that Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow's political 'unity' messages feel less forced than most of the political focused movies we see lately.
- Solid (but predictable) Adam Sandler performance and decent supporting work by John Turturro and Emmanuelle Chiriqui

- Very very dumb
- I feel somewhat guilty recommending this

- Not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but for something so dumb I sure did laugh a lot...

Overall Score: 6/10

Kung Fu Panda Review

- Gorgeously animated in a wonderfully designed setting
- The humor is, thankfully, timeless and universal instead of based largely on pop culture references like many of the previous Dreamworks CGI movies (the Shreks, Shark Tale, Bee Movie, Madagascar)
- Great voice work from a truly impressive assemblage of talent (Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Ian McShane, David Cross, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogan and Lucy Liu)
- Beautiful score

- By-the-numbers and uncompelling story
- Some of the impressive voice acting cast is criminally underused, especially Jackie Chan and Seth Rogan

- Not the best animated movie you'll ever see but Kung Fu Panda is definitely funny and beautiful to look at.

Overall Score: 7/10