Ninja Assassin (2009)


The Breath I Take After I Kill You Will Be the First Breath of My Life.

Today’s movie was requested by Christie Moscoscomosco.  Today, her Asianness took control of her and caused this request.  It’s a movie that I’ve seen before and currently own on BluRay, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in regards to my feelings about it.  I took a gamble with this movie.  I had not seen it when I purchased it.  I looked at the two words that made up the title to the movie and said, “This seems like it’d be for me.”  The first word was right in my wheelhouse, and I’ve looked to try to find a really awesome movie about this group of people that I had not yet found.  And the second word is usually something I’m down for as well.  Do these two great tastes taste great together?  We’ll find out as I review Ninja Assassin, written by Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski, directed by James McTeigue, and starring Rain, Naomie Harris, Sho Kosugi, Anna Sawai, Rick Yune, Ben Miles, Joon Lee, Randall Duk Kim, and Sung Kang.

Orphans are taken in by Lord Ozuna (Sho Kosugi) of the Ozuna Clan of ninja to undergo brutal training to become the world’s deadliest assassins.  One notable orphan is Raizo (Rain), notable because … he’s the hero of the movie, I guess…  Raizo develops a romantic bond with a kunoichi named Kiriko (Anna Sawai), who is far too nice to be a very good ninja.  She attempts to escape the clan despite Raizo’s pleas and is caught and killed by Raizo’s Ozuna brother Takeshi (Rick Yune).  This action loosens Raizo’s bond with his clan, eventually erupting in him trying to kill Lord Ozuna and inflicting heavy casualties on the clan before eventually being injured and left for dead.  In present day, Europol agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) has been investigating political assassinations that she believes leads back to the Ozuna.  Getting too close, the Ozuna send an assassin after her, but Raizo saves her.  Together they will try to … uh … kill a lot of ninjas…?

For all I said about the title of the movie in the first paragraph, it actually made me nervous about the movie.  With a title as bland as Ninja Assassin, your movie will really have to set itself up as pretty spectacular to overcome it.  This movie did not do that.  It’s fine, but it had much less impact on me than a movie about ninjas should have.  I love ninjas!  But this movie was about half martial arts movie, have love story.  It spends a whole lot of time getting us caught up on Raizo’s story and doesn’t actually jump fully into the story of this movie until about halfway in.  I know we need a little bit of backstory, but the movie makes no forward momentum until Raizo gets together with Mika, and even then they don’t move forward very much.  They try to keep us interested in Raizo’s upbringing by mixing it with ninja glory shots of Raizo training with various weapons in his apartment, but you probably could’ve had the same effect by actually making him fight people for a reason than just scenes of “Look what this guy can do with this knife on the end of a string!”  And I have the same question about this movie as I’ve had with similar movies in the past, but what makes Raizo so much better than the hundreds of Ozuna brethren that he slaughters?  He received the same training as them, and they arguably should be better because they continued to train with the clan well after Raizo departed, but the greater majority of them are just blood-filled fodder for him as he hacks his way to either Takeshi or Lord Ozuna, who are the only two people that can make him put in any effort.  But I guess I can’t really judge as I’m the one who’s so immature that I saw a German sign in the movie that said “Ausfahrt” and I started to giggle.

So there really wasn’t much to the story of this movie, but I can’t imagine they were trying that hard.  This movie really does feel like it was written after they had already filmed the action scenes and were told they needed to hold that together with a story.  But even the action is kind of disappointing.  A lot of it is solid, and most of it tended towards being very stylized, but with as weak a story as this movie had, it really should’ve had a lot more spectacular action.  I guess part of the problem was that they seemed really intent on showing how cool the ninja ability to disappear into the shadows and be cloaked in darkness was.  This is something that needs to come along with a ninja movie, but the problem is that if you’re doing it well, the audience probably can’t see most of what’s going on.  Like the scene when Mika is trying to see Raizo and another ninja fighting in an apartment, and she keeps trying to get the flashlight on them to see what’s happening but can only catch glimpses of what is probably an epic battle.  I imagine this is what two ninja fighting would look like, but I have to use my imagination because the movie isn’t showing me anything.  When you could see, the martial arts were never really all that impressive and they seemed to rely more on gore, which they had a lot of.  Lots of CG red paint and body parts flying around in this movie, but only about two fights in the movie seemed like anything cool was happening.  I liked most of the final fight, especially the part where it’s shown in silhouettes through a paper wall that occasionally got splattered with red blood, but that fight’s ending was boring.  They had this big martial arts duel until Raizo got upset about something, then he just disappears and a black shadow makes the other guy’s body parts fall off.  Then it’s just over.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the performances in this movie.  They were fine.  They didn’t blow any minds, but that probably would’ve been a waste of time when there were some more buckets of blood to fling at the screen.  Rain did a fairly good job in the movie.  At first I was just thinking that he was going to have a really hard time pulling off “badass” and “intimidating” when he was so gangnamed pretty, but I think he did as much as he could.  Sho Kosugi did plenty enough badass and intimidating for the both of them, so I wasn’t really worried about it.  Naomie Harris didn’t bring anything to mind in regards to her performance, but I did spend a lot of time trying to figure out why she looked familiar when I watched the movie the first time.  I eventually figured out that it was because she played Tia Dalma in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.  Then I spent the rest of the movie trying to figure out how she looked so much hotter to me when she looked dirty, sweaty, and had really bad teeth in the Pirates movies than she did as just a normal, pretty girl.  Then I realized that I have mental issues and I moved on with my day.

When the name of your movie is as boring as Ninja Assassin, you really need to bring it in the action department.  No one is going into your movie with high hopes about story and performances, but that action must be top notch.  And when I refer to top notch action, I don’t mean a couple of decent fights and lots of fake blood thrown around the set.  It’s the difference between a “Scary Movie” and a “Slasher Film”.  One actually intimidates the audience with suspense; the other just makes the audience queasy with lots of red corn syrup.  Altogether this movie was okay and maybe worth a rental if you’re in the mood, but there are better ways to spend your time.  You can skip it.  Ninja Assassin gets “Weakness compels strength.  Betrayal begets blood” out of “I’ll tattoo the ceiling with your fucking brains!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012)


Where Does He Get These Unbreakable Toys?

Today’s game comes as a surprise to even me. I have no idea why I like this game type, but I’ve always been a fan of them. The games are fairly obviously geared towards children, and they’ve also made somewhere in the range of 100 games on the same premise, but I still find them to generally be some goofy fun. But after having played 7,000 games based on the same cute idea, will I feel like I’ve been beaten over the head with them? Will I still enjoy it? And will I be able to follow the story when I missed the first game? We’ll find out as I review Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, written by Jon Burton and David A. Goodman, developed by Traveller’s Tales, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and starring the voices of Troy Baker, Charlie Schlatter, Clancy Brown, Christopher Corey Smith, Travis Willingham, Anna Vocino, Rob Paulsen, Nolan North, Kari Wahlgren, and Fred Tatasciore.

A “Man of the Year” competition in Gotham City is broken up by a group of villains – the Joker (Christopher Corey Smith), Harley Quinn (Laura Bailey), the Riddler (Rob Paulsen), Two-Face (Troy Baker), and the Penguin (Steven Blum). Batman and Robin (Charlie Schlatter) respond to the call. They take out the villains and send them back to Arkham Asylum. Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown) then shows up and frees the Joker with a weapon called “The Deconstructor”, which tears apart objects and is powered by Kryptonite. Luthor and the Joker intend to get Luthor elected as President using the Joker’s laughing gas. With the help of the rest of the Justice League, Batman, Robin, and Superman (Travis Willingham) need to shut that shit right on down.

I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Lego games. Most of them are super easy to come up with since they’re mostly just movies like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Lord of the Rings, retold with Legos and goofiness. This game sets itself apart from the others in the story department, but not always in ways that I appreciate. I thought they did the story fairly well. It was a pretty basic and unsurprising story. It’s basically just Batman and Robin trying to stop the Joker. Then Lex Luthor comes along and Superman joins in. Then things get a little out of hand for them and the rest of the Justice League shows up at the end to clean things up. There’s also a fairly sizeable subplot about Batman’s feelings of inadequacy towards Superman. But I can’t say I expected anything else. It is aimed more at kids, after all. But it also had plenty enough cute little funny moments that I’ve come to expect from the Lego games to make it enjoyable. But along with their slightly more involved original story came something I had not seen in one of the Lego games before: talking. The other games were so good at telling a story and being cute and funny without the use of words, even when they were telling the more epic story of some classic movies like Star Wars. I don’t know if this is the first game where they used the spoken word, but I’d actually prefer them going back to the art of mime. It was cuter and funnier that way, and it’s a little strange to see Lego creatures speaking.

For the story changes that they’ve made, they were mostly unwilling to make any to the gameplay itself. Of course, I like the gameplay. It’s simple and unchallenging, but it’s still enjoyable. The bulk of the game is as simple as pressing X a lot to break things, and occasionally holding B to put things together. That’s how all of the Lego games work. They add a little bit of puzzle solving into the equation by making each character able to do different things, and in the case of this game they make Batman and Robin particularly versatile because they can do many different things by finding special suits, such as Batman’s Power Suit that allows him to shoot explosives, or Robin’s Acrobat Suit that allows him to swing from poles on the wall … and create a giant plastic ball for some reason. This creates a mild level of puzzle solving … at least until Superman joins your team. He exemplifies the reason I hate him: he does almost everything and is immortal. He doesn’t need a Hazard Suit filled with water to put out fire; he’ll just breathe on it. He doesn’t need an Ice Suit to freeze water; his breath will do that too. He can fly and reach places Batman and Robin can’t, and kind of eliminates the need to use the Acrobat Suit to reach those same heights. And what’s more is he can’t be damaged, so the ease of the game up to that point is increased because I can put my controller down and come back later and still not have taken any damage from the hordes of enemies around me. And this pretty much forces me to play as him because I can’t wrap my brain around not playing the immortal character that does everything that’s readily available to me. Once you finish the game and unlock the other characters, the need for Batman and Robin is almost erased entirely, which is weird because this is supposed to be Batman’s game. You don’t need the Bat Suit to break glass because you have Man Bat and Black Canary, you don’t need the Power Suit because the Penguin has explosives, you barely need the Hazard Suit because Aquaman can clean up toxic waste with his water blasts, and you don’t need the Ice Suit with Mr. Freeze around. Why bother finding a suit when I can just hold Y and switch to the character immediately? There were also things in the game that would bother a comic book nerd like myself. First of all is a complaint that some comic nerds got from the first Tim Burton Batman movie: Batman doesn’t use guns! You can’t just throw guns on the Batmobile and the Batwing all willy nilly like! I know that the enemies were just technically breaking up into Lego pieces because this is a kid’s game, but that’s the equivalent of killing in this game, and Batman doesn’t do that either. I was also confused by the fact that Wonder Woman could fly. As far as I knew, Wonder Woman’s version of flight is having a stupid invisible jet plane, and they even put that plane into the game as an unlockable vehicle. Turns out (after some Wikipedia research) they did make Wonder Woman able to fly, but it still stuck out for me as not right. Also, what’s the point with the stupid combo things? Beating enemies in quick succession made multipliers show up on the screen, but they didn’t do anything so I didn’t see the point. All it let you do is a finishing move of sorts that got you an achievement, but besides that it seemed to have no point.

Speaking of achievements and things that have no real point, one of my favorite things about the majority of the Lego games is how easy the achievements are to get. The greater majority of the games that I’ve completed 100% are Lego games, and this one keeps with the same tradition. I was able to get all of the achievements for the game in about 2 days. It’s basically just beating the game and unlocking all of the characters. The only thing that may keep people from going for them is the fact that you have to collect 250 gold bricks in the game, but even that doesn’t take very long. It just requires the patience to collect them.

The look and sound of the game were as good as a Lego game can muster. Around the time of the Pirates of the Caribbean games, they started putting their silly-looking Lego characters into landscapes that were actually very pretty as opposed to Lego backdrops that weren’t that visually compelling. They keep that up here. I also kind of liked the voice acting in the game (even though I didn’t like that there WAS voice acting in the game) because the voices were either of the people that typically voice the characters in the cartoons or they sounded a lot like them. I actually thought the guy doing the Joker’s voice was Mark Hamill for a while, although that thought kind of broke down as time went on. The person that did Harley Quinn’s voice didn’t do a very good job representing that voice, which makes me sad because I really like Harley’s voice. Also, the guy that does the Riddler’s voice? His name is Robert Paulsen. …Or at least Rob Paulsen. Does anyone else get that joke? The music was also nice in the game, particularly when you were flying around the city as that douche nozzle Superman because they used the famous music John Williams made for the movies, and that’s just a kick ass orchestration.

I think that about covers it. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes doesn’t break any new ground, but I still find myself charmed by the series. The story is basic, and it bummed me out that they actually made the characters speak, but it’s still cute and amusing and the gameplay, though very easy, always manages to keep me interested. Plus, it’s super easy achievements, and I’m always on board for that. If you’ve liked the Lego games in the past, or you have kids that you want to play some games that you might enjoy yourself when they’re not playing, or you just want some easy achievements, then Lego Batman 2 gets my seal of approval. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes gets “I can see you smirking in there. X-ray vision” out of “I’d have to be crazy to say no to that offer. Unless you’re just one of the voices in my head. In which case, I’m crazy anyway!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people. Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense. Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated. You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter. Don’t forget to leave me some comments. Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)


Thy Mother Mated With a Scorpion

I feel resentful towards Fabio for the pain that today’s movie put me through. Does that mean it was bad? Not necessarily. But the movie is ridiculously long, and Netflix found a way to make that worse for me. I’ve had bad luck with my Netflix disc service recently. I got this movie from them a long time ago and probably made it about 2 hours into the movie before the disc stopped being playable, and no amount of cleaning seemed to rectify the problem. I had to send it back, and when I received the replacement copy I put it off because of the hefty time investment that it would be. But I finally decided to watch the movie again so that I could present you with my 6 hour investment review into the movie Lawrence of Arabia, based on the life of T.E. Lawrence, written by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson, directed by David Lean, and starring Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quayle, and José Ferrer.

T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) is killed in a motorcycle accident. SPOILER ALERT! Actually that happens right in the opening. Also, it happened in real life. After his death, reporters try to find out more about him at his memorial. Lawrence was a misfit in the British army during World War 1. He gets sent to speak with Prince Faisal (Alec Guinness) of the Arab nation about his revolt against the Turks. During his trek across the desert, his Bedouin guide gets killed by Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) for drinking from his well without permission, leaving Lawrence to finish his trip alone. After meeting with Faisal, Lawrence suggests that they take their army through a treacherous desert to attack Aqaba by surprise. With the help of Howeitat leader Auda abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn), they overthrow the Turkish garrison. Following this, Lawrence leads a guerrilla war against the Turks trying to unify the Arab people.

I’m not typically a fan of really long movies, especially ones that I have to watch multiple times because people feed their Netflix discs to their dogs before sending them back. This movie ultimately becomes worth the investment, but it took me a while to realize why I didn’t mind it. It starts off very slow, being mostly talking and riding around a desert on camels. It was slow, but strangely never boring. I was always interested even though nothing significant was happening. I think what kept it so watchable was the scale of the movie. When this movie is referred to as an “epic”, it’s not hyperbole. The desert landscapes are huge, the armies are vast, and the music is awesome. The music did take part in something I found annoying though. I don’t understand the idea of the overtures in the movies. It’s mostly in older movies, but why are they still in the DVD? Do they think I liked the music so much that I want to hear it with no pictures on the screen for 5 minutes in the middle of the movie and right at the beginning? That’s boring. It seems like the orchestra taking a little time to jack themselves off in appreciation for their own talent. I guess I can’t blame them for that; it’s the same reason my reviews take so long to write. I have to stop every time I say something funny. …Hold on a sec… After the intermission, the movie picks up and becomes even more watchable. That’s when the fighting really starts, and it doesn’t really take many breaks from that for the rest of the movie.

The performances in the movie were all fantastic, but not in a way that gave me much to say about them. Peter O’Toole was the main focus of the movie of course, and he carried it on his shoulders with ease. For a while in the movie, I felt like I’d have a lot to say about the effeminate way that he portrayed Lawrence, and I thought I’d have compiled lots of gay jokes, but then I saw on Wikipedia that Lawrence did have to deal with the stigma of being gay, so I had to throw all of that out of the window. The only thing I had left after that was a question of motivation. I didn’t understand why Lawrence would get mad at Sherif for killing his guide. Obviously he probably doesn’t like the idea of not having a guide anymore, and he was probably getting attached (or attracted) to his guide by this point, but that dude had pulled a gun and started aiming it at Sherif. That’s not so much murder as it is self-defense, and it’s a little bold to be throwing around the term “murderer” for someone that’s going to become so coo-coo for killing later in the movie. For another significant thing about this movie that’s not Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness is in this movie! I didn’t recognize him at first because I’ve only ever seen him as an old man being cut down by a lightsaber, but once I saw his name I had to touch myself again.

Though Fabio and Netflix caused me to almost double the length of an already long movie, I felt like Lawrence of Arabia was worth the time investment. Though it was really long and the first half of the movie is fairly uneventful, it remains entirely watchable with fantastic performances and epic scale. Then the second half of the movie is pretty action-packed as a reward for making it that far. The music was also fantastic, though perhaps not fantastic enough for me to enjoy while staring at a blank screen in an intermission. Either way, this is a great movie and I recommend you watch it. Lawrence of Arabia gets “The trick is not minding that it hurts” out of “Do you think I’m just anybody, Ali?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people. Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense. Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated. You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter. Don’t forget to leave me some comments. Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Lorax (2012)


Unless Someone Like You Cares a Whole Lot, Nothing is Going to Get Better. It’s not.

Today’s movie came as a request from my friend Forty, but I’m not entirely sure why. My best guess is that he’s a dad and that means that I, as his single review-writing friend, should be forced to watch the same crap that he must at the behest of his daughter. So I guess that means today’s review came as a request from Eden. Either way, it was a request, and one easy enough to comply with as my roommate Richurd had purchased this movie on Vudu some time ago, so it was ready for me whenever I got around to it. I also get to go into this review relatively clean because I have next to no memory of the Dr. Seuss book that this movie is based on. Something about trees, I think? Well, we’ll find out as I review The Lorax, based on a Dr. Seuss children’s book, written for the screen by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda, and featuring the voices of Zac Efron, Ed Helms, Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, Betty White, Jenny Slate, Nasim Pedrad, Stephen Tobolowsky, Elmarie Wendel, and Danny Cooksey.

Ted Wiggins (Zac Efron) lives in the town of Thneedville, a walled city so surrounded by the pollution of industry that they actually sell air in bottles to people, and everything in the city is artificial, including the plants. Ted has a crush on a girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift), who wants to see a real life tree. In order to impress her, he sets out to find a tree. Under the advice of his grandmother, Grammy Norma (Betty White), he tracks down the Once-ler (Ed Helms), who tells Ted how he is responsible for the deforestation because he broke his promise to The Lorax (Danny DeVito), who speaks for the trees because trees have no tongues of their own.

I can’t really say I was disappointed by The Lorax because I went into it with low expectations, but I didn’t think this was that good of a movie. It wasn’t bad; I just felt like I was wasting my time watching it. It wasn’t without a point, but the point it was trying to make was one that I found tedious and ham-fisted. I knew what the message of the movie was going to be before I started watching it, and it did not take long for me to get sick of being beat over the head with it. Yes, deforestation is bad. Yes, every business ever is bad. Nothing good has ever come from cutting down a tree. Even when they cut those trees down to make paper that could be used to print the words of Dr. Seuss. I’m sure it was all printed on recycled paper. It also wasn’t funny. It gained a couple of minor smirks out of me with a couple of cute and quirky comments, but towards the end it had devolved into, “It’s funny when old people do young things like snowboard, isn’t it?” …No, no it’s not.

The biggest issue I took with the movie was its musical numbers. I’ve complained before about musicals forcing their movie to be a musical with pointless and unnecessary musical interludes, but this movie goes even further with that. They give the Once-ler a guitar for no reason other than to make him be able to break into song out of nowhere. Some musicals can get by on this bullshit by having good songs, but the Lorax blew its load in the introduction of the film, as the credits still rolled, and then only gave us mediocre songs or worse.

The thing this movie does right is definitely the look. It captures the wackiness and imagination of Dr. Seuss in a beautiful and colorful CG world. I wouldn’t give much imagination credit to this movie though, since that all came from Seuss, but they captured it well. The settings were evocative and created the mood they wanted. The town was clean and fake, the wilderness before people messed it up was lush and colorful, and the same area after was dark and depressing. They also did a good job of making all the forest creatures overly adorable. The fish were kind of funny and the fat bear made for some easy “This bear likes to eat everything” jokes, but I think my favorite was the tiny duck-like creature that sat around with a dumb look on its face, randomly quacking.

The Lorax isn’t a bad movie. It’s just not a good one. It could get away with beating us over the head with its environmentalist message if it was funny or interesting, but it never really mustered that, try as it might. It also forced itself to be a musical for no good reason, forgetting of course to have some good songs. In its defense, it is a very pretty movie with lots of cute animals, so your kids will probably enjoy it. You, on the other hand, might find it tough to pay attention to, especially numerous times as kids tend to view things. I say skip it. The Lorax gets “You have been warned!” out of “Unless.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people. Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense. Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated. You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter. Don’t forget to leave me some comments. Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Titanic (1997)


Music to Drown by.  Now I Know I’m in First Class.

I was really perplexed by today’s request from my friend Loni.  I typically review movies and video games, and have only rarely reviewed random things like hair dye.  But, I said I’d review anything and I meant it.  Today’s review is for the Titanic, or more officially the RMS Titanic, built by Thomas Andrews and the Harland and Wolff shipyard, and captained by John Smith.  I couldn’t do any personal research on this boat, but everything I’ve read about this boat leads me to decide that I cannot recommend this boat.  Sure, it was big and pretty when it first came out, but it has not held up well.  It’s practically a pile of rust on the bottom of the ocean by now!

I think I drained that joke for all it was worth, and that was not much.  I’m guessing (based mainly on the fact that Loni has a vagina) that she was requesting that I review the MOVIE Titanic.  I had seen this movie already because I’m a member of the human species, and it’s viewed as a requirement.  I was dragged to see this movie because I grew up in a household of women and it could not be avoided.  But, though I had already seen this movie, I really didn’t remember that much about it.  What I remembered about the movie was more accurately what I remembered about the actual Titanic.  So when it was requested of me, the only thing that made me delay the review for as long as I did is not having the desire to dedicate a large fraction of my day to watching a movie.  I finally decided that it’s time had come.  Thus, here is my review of Titanic, written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton, Billy Zane, David Warner, Victor Garber, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Danny Nucci, Jason Barry, Suzy Amis, and Ioan Gruffudd.  Also, it should be noted that I will not entertain the notion that spoilers are possible in this movie.  Even if you’re one of the three people in the world who hasn’t seen this movie, I’m sure you have heard plenty about it.  And if you’ve managed to avoid that, then I’m sure you know about the actual event.  And if you don’t know that, then you’re an idiot and you haven’t understood half of the words I’ve used.

In 1996, Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) and his crew are searching the wreckage of the RMS Titanic, looking for a valuable diamond that was last seen aboard the ship known as Le Coeur de la Mer (the Heart of the Ocean).  They get excited when they find a safe, thinking it would contain the diamond, but find only papers inside.  But, as they are cleaning the papers, they find one of them to be a drawing of a naked chick wearing the diamond.  When it’s shown on the news, 100-year-old Rose Dawson Calvert (Gloria Stuart) sees the picture and calls Lovett, revealing that the girl in the picture was her back when she was young and extremely fuckable.  Lovett flies her and her granddaughter (Suzy Amis) to their boat above the wreckage and Rose unfolds her life story to a group of people that just want to know where she left her jewelry.  The story then turns to Rose back when her name was Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) who boards the Titanic on its maiden voyage with her fiancé Caledon Hockley (Billy Zane) and her mother Ruth DeWitt Bukater (Frances Fisher).  She starts a love affair with a drifter/artist named Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio).  Later, the boat hits an iceberg, Jack dies, and Rose is rescued by Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd).

Yes, I did only decide to tell the entire story of the movie so that I could make a joke about Mr. Fantastic saving Rose.  …WORTH IT!!!  And here’s another thing: this movie is WAAAAAY too long, but ultimately it is also worth it.  I feel like I had a very masculine reaction to this movie, but I was not totally against the female, lovey-dovey parts.  The love story occupied the bulk of the movie, and tended to make the movie feel a little slow and drawn out to me, but I liked that it was vaguely Romeo-and-Juliet-esque in how the two of them were like star-crossed lovers whose status was trying to keep them apart.  Also, we know that their relationship is probably not going to end well.  Speaking of which, though I thought the love story part of the movie was fine, I admittedly didn’t really get interested until things started going wrong and people started dying.  That’s when the movie got exciting and, sometimes, a little funny.  C’mon!  You tellin’ me that you didn’t snicker at all when that CG dude fell off the vertical sinking ship and hit the handrails, sending him into a crazy spin until he hit the water?  If you didn’t laugh, you just don’t know funny when you see it.  I didn’t find that quite as funny as the fact that it seemed as if Cameron was trying to build suspense right before the Titanic hit the iceberg.  Fer real, dude?  You want me to wonder whether or not the boat’s going to hit the iceberg?  I probably knew that was coming before I knew anything else about the movie, including who James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kate Winslet were.  But I suppose it’s what a filmmaker was inclined to do, and I’m not sure just how much of my generation actually paid any attention to what the Titanic was before this movie made it a household name again.  And I can’t deny that I got a little choked up at the end of the movie.  It didn’t reach tears, but it got close.  And I also like the message of the movie.  The bulk of the movie is just about how classes are bad, but that message doesn’t go quite as far with me.  The one that resonated with me was what showed up at the end of the movie as the camera panned over the pictures from Rose’s life that she had endeavored to live to the fullest because of her promise to Jack.  Although it seems like something you should always have on your mind, sometimes I do need a movie to remind me that life is finite and you should really try to live it.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the look of this movie.  It goes for epic and it blows epic out of the water.  The launching and the sinking of the Titanic were both as epic as they should have been.  They even had some impressive transitions, like how they morphed the corroded image of the sunken ship’s bow into the recreation of the brand new ship.  Of course, there’s one thing that cannot be ignored when talking about this movie and that’s that Céline Dion song, “My Heart Will Go On.”  I remember finding that song somewhat annoying around the release of this movie, but it was really more due to the fact that it was entirely overplayed.  I feel prepared to say right now that it is a good song.  And I don’t care how gay it makes me.  It sets a great mood, and it’s actually fairly versatile, which you can tell by how often they used it in the movie.  Sometimes it was the score and sometimes it was the version with Dion singing, played fast and up tempo or slow and melodic.  But it does make me laugh on the few occasions when I see a movie that does this kind of thing.  Some movies just like the song they picked so much that they beat the audience over the head with it, demanding that they like it too.  Armageddon did it with that Aerosmith song, and I think one of the Transformers movies did it with a Linkin Park song.  At least this movie bothered to change the tempo on the song to change the mood.

I couldn’t think of much of anything to say about the performances in the movie.  I didn’t particularly find anyone that mind-blowing, but they all did very well.  And I think we all know the performance that stood out for me.  Was it the Academy Award nominated old broad?  Nah.  She did fine.  Was it Mr. Fantastic in his pivotal tiny cameo role?  Nope.  I’m more of a Human Torch person.  Obviously it was Kate Winslet’s boobs.  I could look at that lady naked all day.  And I have.  I also think there’s a chance that they revealed that Winslet would be nude in the end of the movie early on so that the male audience would sit through all the lovey crap to see the boobs.  It would’ve been off-putting at first because we’d be thinking that the nudity they were hinting at with that sketch was going to be that old lady, but then that old lady turns into Kate Winslet.  Alright, I’ll stick around for an hour or two, but you better deliver, movie!

So there’s a really long review to accompany a really long movie.  I would say Titanic holds up as one of the most watchable chick flick type movies that I know of.  You do have to sit through a good deal of a romance novel (albeit a decently written one) to get to the boobs and mayhem, but if you give it a chance it actually pays off in a way that surprised me with the expectations I had going in.  It’s mainly hindered by its ridiculous length, much like the Titanic itself.  I don’t know if that metaphor makes any sense, but I do know I will be saying that Titanic is a good movie.  Go check it out.  Titanic gets “It’s over a hundred feet longer than the Mauritania, and far more luxurious” out of “That’s one of the good things about Paris: lots of girls willing to take their clothes off.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Heartbreakers (2001)


If I Were a Guy, I’d Do You.

Back from my October Horrorthon, I decided that I needed to try to focus on some outstanding requests that I’ve had building up.  The first one I decided to take a look at was from my friend Grabooski.  A while ago, the ‘Booski requested two movies of me that I kept putting off.  I think I was thrown off by how random the two movies seemed to be, and also put off by the fact that they seemed more like chick flicks.  But I’ve never reviewed a movie for her, so I decided to do one of her movies first.  I knew about the movie that I picked because I saw the poster for it and specifically decided not to ever watch it ever.  But that was before I took requests.  Now that I do, I wouldn’t even bother acting like there is something that I wouldn’t watch.  And so, to expand my horizons, I decided to review Heartbreakers, written by Robert Dunn, Paul Guay, and Stephen Mazur, directed by David Mirkin, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ray Liotta, Jason Lee, Gene Hackman, Nora Dunn, Anne Bancroft, Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, Carrie Fisher, and Kevin Nealon.

Max (Sigourney Weaver) and Page Conners (Jennifer Love Hewitt) are a mother-daughter con artist team.  We start our journey with them watching as Max cons small-time Mafioso Dean Cumanno (Ray Liotta) into marrying her, and then getting a divorce on the first day by getting Page to seduce him into cheating on her.  After collecting the settlement, they are confronted by an IRS agent (Anne Bancroft) who informs them that they owe a lot of money in back taxes.  This forces them to head to Palm Beach to find one last big score.  They pick a tobacco baron named William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman), whose addiction to his own product has significantly reduced his time amongst the living.  While Max is working on him, Page finds a bartender named Jack (Jason Lee), who stands to gain a large sum of money if he sells his bar, and Page decides to try to take on this con on her own, behind her mother’s back.

I wouldn’t say Heartbreakers was a bad movie, but I also couldn’t bring myself to act like it was good.  Probably the first thing I noticed about the movie is that it was entirely predictable.  Around the point of the IRS thing in the story, I could’ve guessed how the rest of it was going to turn out.  I guess I couldn’t have predicted that they were going to entirely forget to wrap up the Gene Hackman story though.  Did they get his money?  Did they get nothing?  Did the police suspect the strange woman he had been spending all his time with?  Or are we just going to forget about that storyline and jump back into the Jason Lee love story?  Probably that one.  This could easily be tolerable if the movie was entertaining, but it sadly fell short.  It just wasn’t funny to me.  There were maybe one or two mildly amusing moments in the movie, but one or two will not sustain me for over two hours of movie.  If it had ended about a half hour earlier when it should have … well … I probably still wouldn’t have found it very entertaining.  And I’m always confused about how that happens when they have the good sense to hire some really funny people to act in the movie.  Kevin Nealon, Sarah Silverman, and Zach Galifianakis were all in this movie.  You couldn’t have asked their opinion on punching up a few jokes?  Instead, you have a joke where a guy dies by falling over and hitting his face on a statue’s penis, a penis that then ends up in his mouth while he’s on the floor.  I wrote that same joke once … when I was 10.  It got lots of laughs.  I ended up spending a good portion of the movie focusing on these two women and their abilities as con women.  They did not seem all that great at their job.  When they reveal that they are con women early in the movie, they are super blunt about it, revealing everything at a gas station with all the wig removal and conning a guy into buying their gas.  Was I not supposed to have figured that out a long time ago?  When I saw Jennifer Love Hewitt for the first time, I knew they were con women.  Well, first I touched myself, and THEN I knew they were con women.  Later in the movie, I started to realize that they weren’t that good at it.  Why would they leave their money in a bank, especially if they weren’t going to pay the IRS?  Even though you know they have money and would be afraid of government investigation, why would you con someone in organized crime?  That just seems dangerous.  If you’re going to decide to take on an unnecessary Russian accent to woo your target, shouldn’t you learn more than the word for “Yes” and the lyrics to a Beatles song about the USSR?  Or at least try to stay out of situations where someone might find out that you didn’t do your research and learn the language?  And how did it take them so long to figure out that they should perhaps ask the mobster who shows up in love with Max how they should dispose of the dead body they had created?

All that being said, I’d say the real reason to watch this movie is the performances.  Well, not so much the performances as the performers.  And not so much the performers as Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt being really hot.  I found the movie predictable, a little dumb, and extremely rarely funny, but they were able to keep me watching by having those two lovely ladies wearing some skimpy clothing through the greater majority of the movie.  I spent most of the movie trying to figure out which one I’d rather have.  Physically, JLH is hotter, and almost to a ridiculous extent.  When they were talking about how fast they could get a guy to marry them, I was thinking that 3 months seems like a long time and either woman could probably get me to do it way faster than that.  But I actually think Sigourney could do it faster.  I mean, she’s got way more nerd cred.  She was in the Alien movies AND Ghostbusters.  And did you see the underwear she wore on her honeymoon with Liotta?  Ridiculous.

For as much as I thought Heartbreakers was predictable, too long, and not funny, I didn’t really find the movie painfully bad.  And I think it’s entirely based on Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt’s hotness.  There are people that may find this movie funny.  I wasn’t one of them, but I could see it happening.  But if you’re a guy and you can’t watch a movie with Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt dressed skimpy and hot, then there’s a very good chance you like penis.  You can check this movie out on Netflix streaming if vagina is more to your liking.  Heartbreakers gets “I love a woman who eats raw meat” out of “Isn’t that the same shoe you wanted to jam up my ass?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Shining (1980)


Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!

For the last movie of this year’s Horrorthon, I decided that I would review another classic and fill a void in my reviews.  This is a movie that I had seen before but, as with most things in my life, I seem to have mostly forgotten by now.  But I know a lot of people who love this movie.  My friend Jordan says this movie is his favorite movie, if I remember correctly.  And so, even though it was not requested, I decided I would get this review out of the way already, and end my Horrorthon with a bang.  This movie is The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King, co-written for the screen by Diane Johnson, co-written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Joe Turkel, Philip Stone, Barry Nelson, Anne Jackson, and Lisa and Louise Burns.

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes his family – wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd) – up to the Overlook Hotel to act as its caretaker for the winter, hoping it will give him time to work on his book.  Undeterred by the isolation, talks of a murder/suicide of the last caretaker, and talks of the hotel being buried on an Indian burial ground, he and his family move in to get the hotel all to themselves.  As everyone else is leaving, the chef, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers), talks to Danny about their shared telepathic abilities, that he calls the “shining”, and warns him to be careful in the hotel, especially around Room 237.  With everyone now gone, Jack gets to work.  But too much of that and not enough play has effects on a man, or so I’m told.

I really like this movie.  I wouldn’t call it my favorite movie, or even my favorite horror movie, but that’s mainly just because the pace is a little slow for my tastes.  It still remains very effective, but it’s a bit of source of contention about what makes the movie scary.  The movie portrays itself like a ghost story, but it’s been argued that it’s not a ghost story.  It’s actually a window into Jack’s descent into madness.  Personally, I say it’s both.  It’s clearly more about madness that comes along with the isolation, but I found that even more disturbing.  The reason I found it so disturbing was because I think I would LOVE that setting.  If I could get my Xbox working up there, and possibly get some internet access, I could do that for a few months and be really bummed out that they were making me leave when my time was up.  But I’m already insane, so I assume other people might not handle it that well.  But this movie is also a ghost story.  There’s no way Jack could’ve gotten out of the freezer if a ghost didn’t open it.  That stuff all works well enough too, but it is definitely more about the madness.  There was also not a whole lot to this movie that I took issue with as far as the writing is concerned.  If things in the story didn’t make sense, the quality of the movie usually distracted me from them.  The only one I had was the biggest one, but it would’ve stopped the whole movie from happening.  How did they not notice any of the gigantic stop signs for going to this hotel?  The loneliness makes people crazy, the last guy killed his wife and two kids, and this was on an Indian burial ground.  That’s a trifecta of haunting.  I guess it kind of makes sense because this movie happened before those things were cliché horror movie stuff.  Poltergeist was still two years away to make Indian burial grounds such a big haunting device.

I think Kubrick’s direction caught my attention the most in this viewing of the movie.  He really seemed to go all out with the interesting filming techniques.  He had a lot of really great aerial shots and frequently went to a side-scrolling pan for walking conversations.  He also used some nice jarring angles while Jack was losing his shit.  Early on it was a lot of still shots watching him do something monotonous that would inevitably drive him insane, and later he would go to the more jarring angles.  The first I really noticed was filming Jack from in front of him, looking up as he had his head against the freezer door as he was trying to trick Wendy into letting him out.  Later, of course, is the classic “Here’s Johnny” scene.  He also used sound a lot to drive the audience insane, like the first time when Hallorann communicates with Danny psychically and it’s built up to with what sounds like a tooth drill amping up.  Not a whole lot of noises that will drive someone insane better than that noise.  The only bad thing in the visuals of the movie was the naked old chick.  That was an awful sight to behold, because she was old and naked.  Also, she was supposed to be dead, so that’s bad too.

The performances in this movie are hard for me to talk about.  I respect the actors in the movie and their performances, but sometimes they felt a little over the top.  I guess they were going insane, so they should’ve been over the top, but it threw me off a few times.  Jack Nicholson acted like an insane douche nozzle from the very beginning of the movie, but he probably should’ve been a little more normal from the beginning and slowly turned insane douche.  There’s also a chance that Jack Nicholson cannot have his face and not look insane.  Am I the only person that finds Shelley Duvall really attractive?  I would wreck that!  She spends the first part of this movie being relentlessly kind and a little naïve, and then spends the latter half of the movie screaming a lot.  She perhaps went a little over the top, but I don’t know how I’d act if my husband was trying to kill me with an axe.  I might scream in exactly the same way.  Danny Lloyd I did not like from the very beginning of the movie.  Perhaps I’m spoiled by how many quality child actors are in the business today, but this kid was not very good.  He was rarely convincing, and always looked like a midget going to a Halloween party dressed as Davy Jones from the Monkees.

It’s good to end the Horrorthon with a bang.  The Shining is a classic horror movie that holds up as well today as when it came out.  It’s a great movie about isolation and madness, a pretty good ghost movie, and a fantastic outing for director Stanley Kubrick.  The greater majority of the performances are fantastic, even if they do tread into the bombastic at times.  I could see this movie not being for everyone because the slow pace in parts of the movie makes it a bit of an investment, but I think it’s worth it and everyone should see this movie at least once in their lives.  The Shining gets “Some places are like people: some shine and some don’t” out of “Don’t worry, mom.  I know all about cannibalism.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.