Movie reviews

Jul 272003
Authors: Christopher J. Ortiz

28 Days Later

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Let me introduce the Rage, a virus easily contracted by blood and bodily fluids that causes the victim to have zombie-like traits and characteristics; i.e. drunken appearance, a craving for humans, blood-soaked eyes and the ability to scare the crap out of you. We also learn that the virus as an incubation period of about 20 seconds and that is about all you need to know going into this movie.

Our two survivors, Jim (Cillian Murphy) and Selena (Naomie Harris) join up together and their differences are perfectly played out in the movie. Jim, who woke up in a hospital bed from a coma 28 days later, is still trying to make sense of the changed world around him, and Selena, who has survived for a month, has accepted the fact that she will never read another book that has not already been written or see a movie that has not already been shot. When the two meet up with a father and daughter, Selena explains that if they were to slow her down she would leave them but Jim reassures himself and Selena that he would not.

The only downfall in this movie is going to be for people who are expecting another Night of the Living Dead because by definition this movie is not an actual zombie movie; the people who we are suppose to be afraid of are not the walking dead, they are the infected, the term used in the movie for people who have Rage.

The movie becomes a movie more about survival and human nature rather than a running away from zombies and staying away from dark places, but true to horror movies, the characters end up doing things that we know is only going to get them in danger; going through dark tunnels, going into dark buildings for no obvious reasons.

Shot entirely on digital handheld cameras, director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, The Beach) delivers a top-notch script with sharp acting and scary fun. This movie is so scary and so frightening that you will have to go see it a second time to see what you missed with your eyes covered.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Warner Brothers

It’s pretty easy to be a terminator now, with cell phones and the Internet and cool fast cars.

In the first scene with the female terminator (Kristanna Loken) time warping to the present day (yes, she is nude) she hijacks a brand new fancy Lexus then precedes to use a cell phone to access the Internet to locate her targets.

More than 10 years ago when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert Patrick were terminators in T2, those poor guys still had to use pay phones and for some reason did not steal cars that had product placement.

If you go see T3 expecting what you saw in the pervious terminator movies you are going to be disappointed. About the only thing the movies have in common is the name and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Director/ writer James Camron and actors Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong do not come back to reprise their roles so what we are left with are distinct mementos of a classic epic in the shape of a summer blow ’em flick.

If you are going to see T3 because you want to see cars blown up and Arnold doing his job as a terminator and terminating things than you are in a for a ride. The movie boosts one of the most spectactular car scenes ever captured on celluloid.

This movie just could not follow the perfectly executed cat-mouse chase storyline that the pervious movie had. This one was more about impressing you with car chases and cheesy one-liners from Schwarzenegger that will never compare to “I’ll be back” or “Hasta la vista” and that is why this movie just did not work, director Jonathan Mostow (U-571) tried to recreate the last movie without the same elements. It’s like winning the World Series one year than losing half your team and trying to play in October with what you have.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Disney Pictures

I’m going on record right now and saying this is and will be the best movie of the summer. You could not ask for a better summer movie, no – a better movie period.

It almost seemed destined to fail: a movie based on a Disney ride, a movie about pirates, a movie on ships and water (Waterworld, Cutthroat Island anyone?) but this movie absolutely will blow you out of the water – get it, a pirate movie that will…forget it, nevermind!

The real treasure of the movie is Johnny Depp, who gives the performance of his career as pirate Jack Sparrow. To see Depp have fun with his character and deliver such a comic performance and has so much fun that you wish more actors would do that and stop being serious about themselves.

The story begins with pirate captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) who must retrieve 88 pieces of cursed gold to lift the curse of himself and his crew and guess who would have the last piece of gold? Keira Knightley plays Elizabeth Swann who has the final piece of the treasure Barbossa needs. When she is captured, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) turns to Sparrow to save her.

Special effects in the movie are nothing too great. Under moonlight, the cursed pirates become skeletons and it seems that the director did not have too much confidence in the special effects, so he shot scenes with the bony pirates cut back and forth a little too much for the audience to get a sense of what is happening in the scene.

Running at 150 minutes, Pirates never runs out of steam unlike most summer movies and do not be too surprised if this movie comes up during Oscar time.

Bad Boys II

Sony Pictures

Hands down the movie with the most unnecessary violence and the most plotlines holes to make your eyes roll back more than you will laugh.

Did the first movie with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence really garner enough support and following to ask for a sequel?

What can we learn about this movie? Special effects are no longer a medium used to elevate the story; they are simply used as eye candy to fill holes in script shot up by the number of gunshots in the movie. Instead of simply watching a bad guy being shot, we now have the pleasure of watching the bullet slowly enter his forehead and watch detailed CGI blood spurt out.

The movie does have its funny moments between Smith and Lawrence but the jokes do not justify sitting through 150 minutes of explosions and gunfire. The only two characters that were built with any support were the two main characters, everyone else was left to dry like Gabrielle Union’s character, Sydney Burnett, who happens to be dating Mike Lowrey (Smith) and his the sister of Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) but also happens to be a federal agent that is on the same case as Burnett and Lowrey. When she is kidnapped by drug lords, everyone rushes to Cuba to save her, risking the lives of thousands to save one girl – she’s cute but not that cute.

This is a sequel no one asked for except for Smith who needed a hit after Men in Black II failed and for Lawrence who between the Bad Boys movies has been playing the same character in a string of duds – National Security, Blue Streak.


Universal Pictures

The movie that desperately wanted to be the next Spiderman ended up being the next Godzilla.

Based on the Marvel comics, the movie’s first problem was its director Ang Lee (The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Lee is known for bringing life to ordinary characters in a sense that makes those characters extraordinary, something he was not able to do with Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) or is computer generated image ego, Hulk. It’s hard to bring complexity to an imaginary character and the movie suffers with Lee trying.

The title character does not really surface until the third act and when he does he is overdone in size and ability and underdone in appearance and performance (I cannot be the only person who think Hulk looks like Shrek).

When the movie should have had more Hulk and more havoc, the movie is brought down by Lee’s attempt to tell the story of Banner, his relationship with ex-girlfriend Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) and his father played by Nick Nolte and his inner struggle with himself.

Unlike Spiderman’s coming to be, the transition from Banner becoming Hulk is dragged by its claws and is at time painful to watch.

Lee, in an honest attempt to bring strong storytelling and sophisticated characters to a special effects heavy movie, failed to give audiences what they were hoping to see, a cult favorite comic character shine on the silver screen, like Spiderman, and delivered a movie so sunk in character turmoil and mush storytelling, it never surfaces.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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