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Forest Whitaker. Love him. Acting, directing, writing, doing pretty much anything. Katie Holmes. not loving her so much, but at one time (post-Dawson's Creek) she had potential. Marc Blucas. Well, one season of Buffy was enough for you, buddy. (Kidding).
The plot is a what it implies: a pure re-take on popular fairytale of the boy not being able to be with a girl she loves because of other stuff happening around them. Just your no-frills, usual kindergarten variety fairytale. But Forest Whitaker's direction is great to watch. In fact, you should watch this movie twice (I know, it is a worrisome proposition) just to catch nuances in the camera work, angles and shot composition. Whitaker is a terrific director.
But what about the movie itself, on its own merits? It is pretty forgettable as far as teen romcoms go, but there are moments. Katie Holmes is just in that space where a quickly maturing teen actress tries to become a serious actress without entirely forgetting her teen drama roots. You still get a flashback or two of Joey Potter, but all in all there are certain scenes where Holmes conveys emotion without succumbing to her usual mannerisms. And those moments are very nice to watch. Mind you there is almost zero chemistry between her and Blucas and this is where the movie fails.
Come to think of it, this could have been the movie that bridged the gap between the Dawson's Creek and the next serious acting project for Holmes. And sure enough, that serious project was Batman Begins. But then Tom Cruise stepped in and the rest can still be read from the tabloids. It is a shame that we haven't seen more from Katie Holmes yet. This might have been a good start to film career that never was.
The Fast And The Furious Ultimate Collection (3 Discs)
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I would have rated this with zero stars, but seeing that is not an option, I have to give it one. And purely for arguments sake, I'll give it to Vin Diesel. You have to admit, the man is cool.
Everything else here falls short. And how convenient for this review, you can apply any and all of the following comments to any of the three movies: the plot is B-A-D, the acting is missing in action and worst of all the cars defy all physics. Not cool, if you are supposed to depict actual souped-up race cars in high-speed action. And the second instalment of this drivel is sponsored by Hyundai, no less. Enough said.
If you get this "ultimate collection" DVD set and think you are getting all the extras ever made for all three movies, you are badly mistaken. Ultimate it is not and a lot of the bonus material was left out. There are R2 two-disc editions available for both the original installment and Tokyo Drift -- God forbid, if you are interested in buying any of these movies.
If you want to look at high-performance sports cars for several hours, get Gran Turismo 4 for your PS2, Forza Motorsport 2 for your X360 or GTR2 for your PC.
War Of The Worlds (2005) (2 Discs) (5.1/DTS)
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Director Steven Spielberg brings along his usual themes for this rollercoaster ride of a science fiction slash morality play slash special effects extravaganza: the broken family plot; a child acting as the moral compass for an adult; the protagonist's ability of overcoming his own shortcomings. Mixing all this up with an otherworldly plot of aliens invading Earth the end result of fast-paced Sci-Fi action and relationship drama is not half bad.
The plot has holes, yes. However, the action keeps plugging some of the holes the drama leaves behind. You can accept the movie for what it is and choose to ignore some of the inconsistencies. Good films are about suspension of disbelief and Spielberg was always good at delivering that to his audience. The threat of the invaders seems viable, even real (well, in a kinda, sorta videogamish way) and the situation the entire planet is faced with seems hopeless.
But after all is said and done and by the time the credits roll, you are left with a feeling of being slightly cheated. This was it? The ending is abrupt compared to the 1.5 hours of build-up and dramatic events. You could have hoped for a more satisfying resolution. If the ending of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was excessively prolonged, here's your polar opposite. The ending definitely robs one star from this review.
At times the acting, especially the mannerisms of Tom Cruise, is clichéd at best and unbearable at worst. Dakota Fanning still has one the most high-pitched of screams, but the girl can also act. Also, look for some pleasant supporting characters to pop on your screen during the journey.
This is a big-budget movie and it shows. The effects are nice and the picture quality does them justice. The DTS sound encoding on the DVD will give your sound system a run for its money.
Despite all of its shortcomings as a contemporary science fiction movie with ancient heritage, you could spend two hours of your life doing worse things than popping War of the Worlds (Tom Cruise Edition) in your DVD player and watch the apocalypse unfold.
Grey's Anatomy: Series 2 (7 Discs)
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...the titular character.
Watching the show brings back memories of Ally McBeal, doesn't it? Think about it. A workplace setting. Quirky sidekicks and supporting characters. Co-workers tangled in usually messy relationships. The mandatory successful (or unsuccessful) work performances in every epiosode. Authority figures scorning the characters for whatever amoral, illegal etc. activity they are up to at any given time. And finally, an extremely annoying titular character. Hard to look at, even harder to listen to and totally unbelievable. Apart from the supernatural, all the ingredients are there for this to be Ally McBeal's incarnation.
Some would argue the "will they, won't they" jousting of Dr's Grey and McDreamy is what this show is about and, yes, it probably should be. For a season. Not two, three or six. Should they write Meredith Grey off the show, it would still survive, just like ER did without George Clooney, Eric LaSalle and numerous others.
The second season of Grey's Anatomy picks up right where the first one left off (due to the different divison of episodes than seen on US television), but its plotlines tend to become tiresome. There are some new turns of events with each main character -- even deaths they need to deal with -- which suggests sustained growth in the forthcoming seasons. But somehow, season 2 of Grey's Anatomy just falls short of the premium writing we are now used to with in shows such as the Sopranos, Rescue Me or even C.S.I. (insert your favorite city here).
Deadpan performances from Sandra Oh and T. R. Knight continue and their character development makes this worthwhile watching. If you weren't really blown away by the first season -- and clearly there are many who were -- I don't think you should bother continuing with this one. The rest of you probably own or at least have seen this one already.
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When Jersey Girl first came out, the critics didn't like it, it was conspicuously ignored by the masses who were flooded under the "Bennifer" aftermath from tabloids. It is a shame it didn't gross enough to break even at the box office, because this is a really nice feel-good film.
Kevin Smith, known for his edgy dialogue in most of his movies, retains the edge in writing. However, the setting is more mature, theme of the movie is about love and survival and the characters do not resort to fart jokes all the time. The good-hearted humor is in plain sight for everyone to see, and for some this might be too sappy and too much of a fairytale. Still, the underlying themes are the ones that keep this film well-composed and in check. The loss of a loved one, finding new love, adapting to a new lifestyle, becoming a real parent and family relationships are something we all can relate to and Smith writes about all these things well. The story and characters' actions are poignant but still believable in their own right. There is a clear arc to each character, helped by the fact the movie progresses several years in its timeline. And when the time comes to round things up, there is a moral in the end, which is simple and something you can agree with.
Contrary to Kevin Smith's claims, I wouldn't cast Ben Affleck in just about anything. But he does his romcoms well and Jersey Girl suits him just fine. Liv Tyler reprises another love story with Ben, but this time it is not on Armageddon scale. It is more of a slow burn and well developed by Smith.
Kevin Smith has rounded up a great supporting cast which includes George Carlin as Ben's father and Jason Biggs as Ben's assistant. The cream of the casting crop is young Raquel Castro as Ben's daughter. Almost zero acting experience before Jersey Girl (or since) and the kid lights up the screen whenever she is on it. Phenomenal job.
To this day I don't understand why people piled on this movie, because it performs very well as a genre movie. There is very little to dislike in the casting. The dialogue writing is as witty and sharp as you would expect from Kevin Smith. The story is totally acceptable. It's different from Smith's general body of work and the only movie to date which doesn't happen within the confines of the Viewaskewniverse.
Would Jersey Girl have been better if Jay and Silent had made an appearance? I don't think so. Give this one a chance.
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After Clerks, Kevin Smith was given a budget by Universal Studios and the result is a nice piece of cinematic work. Smith's movies are never about visuals, camera chases or action sequences, but they are about dialogue and character(s) and here they both come in droves.
Both Jay's and Silent Bob's roles are increased from Clerks and Ben Affleck turns in a good performance as a real sleazeball, which oddly suits him well. Shannen Doherty is wonderful and we get a glimpse of what is to come in Chasing Amy by Joey Lauren Adams. And then there is Jason Lee. As one of the most lovable losers in film history, he is always spot on when his verbal jabs slowly increase into a series of controlled outbursts and finally into uncontrollable ranting and raving.
The bigger budget of Mallrats is evident in increased number of sets (Clerks basically had two, the Quick Stop interior and exterior). But that's missing the point. The real key in this film is the apparent coming together of Smith's Viewaskewniverse. While pop culture references are still thrown around in abundance (look out for the Stan Lee cameo), Mallrats is influental in both self-referencing and establishing future storylines and events in Smith's movies. And there is a lot to follow up later on.
Kevin Smith's work surely divides audiences -- the foul language alone puts off many people and they eventually tune out all of Smith's work. The humor which rarely leaves the area between the belly button and upper thighs (well, it sometimes strays to the chest area, too) can be perceived one-dimensional, but that is also missing the point. Juvenile characters do and speak juvenile things, both on film and in real life.
In its core Mallrats is still a love story and a great one at that.
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Cult classic. Just like Verhoeven's Showgirls, this one never attempts to take the subject matter seriously. And anyone who watches Starship Troopers, should keep that in mind.
Wooden acting and stiff line delivery is, in fact, just what the director required from his actors. The powershots of soldiers with their phallic guns and one-liners is comic-book writing at its best. Action sequences are extravagant, over the top and chaotic. The paper-thin chracters are simply cannon fodder, just like they should be. Oddly enough, for a ten year-old movie the special effects are not really half bad and suit the overall look and feel.
Not to be taken too seriously, but there is an underlying theme of governmental oppression and the worry about the big brother watching. How do you validate yourself as a human being, after all the things you have done to the society, environment and your lifestyle in general? What happens when your dreadful existence is at stake by an outside threat? In the end, it is still your misery, you've grown to like it with its faults and all -- and you defend it.
Just like you do this movie.
The Unit: Season 1 (4 Discs)
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As one of those "both sides of the coin" type action and drama shows The Unit stands above the most with a diverse cast of characters, plots within the plots and nowadays more typical separate (remember the coin metaphor?) husbands and wives' storylines. Sure, there are your token character archetypes with their token problems throughout the show, but not to a point where they become a distraction.
The Unit is deals with issues a hypothetical modern day Delta Force unit might actually deal with and while it is not utterly realistic in style, it does not suffer the suspension of disbelief issues as some of the more fantasy-based shows do. And refreshingly, the usual pitfalls of this type of a show -- God, America and apple pie thematics -- are mostly left to the background and the focus is on individuals and their lives. The post 9/11 themes and drama is still there, but not pounded into viewers' skulls with a sledgehammer.
Dennis Haysbert stands out from the cast and Robert Patrick as the unit's CO turns in a respectable performance throughout. He really should be given more work. Overall, this is an entertaining piece of television and worth your money.