Pirates Of The Carribean: At World's End

pirates3.jpgrating-4.0When we last left off in Dead Man's Chest, our titular pirates were scattered and seeking out the dead Jack Sparrow, to be aided by Geoffery Rush's Capt. Barbossa. At least that's what I think happened, as I've forgotten basically the entire plot in the past year. Perhaps that's a sign that the critics were right in pointing out the fact that the movie was busy with spectacle but seemed hollow. I wouldn't agree, but I wouldn't disagree with them. It lacked some of the smart fun of Curse Of The Black Pearl.

Many have begun to refer to PIrates as this generation's Star Wars. In ways, this is true: you have a trilogy of somewhat overhyped movies that see certain diminishing returns in their later sequels on the dividends of fun the first film offered. As long as the Pirates films don't continue on in a painful, inept second trilogy of sequels, then I'll generally disagree with their intimation and assume that anything that's sucessful as a franchise and has three parts will be compared to Star Wars. (Wasn't The Matrix supposed to be this generation's Star Wars? Oh, yeah... The Matrix sequels blew dicks. Nevermind.)

As to the actual quality of the latest iteration, it's more of the same, as it undoubtedly would be. The high quality is there, as are all the flashy effects and spectacle, though this movie seems somewhat more balanced, though scattered, than the last movie, a trait that will surely be more pleasing to a wider audience, though I could be wrong. The movie's 2 hour and 45 minute run time may also be a factor against its favor, but my impression from viewing the film is that the audience enjoyed it very much.

As for the story itself, I had the strange sensation of realizing later that the story had never really mattered to me throughout the trevails of At World's End. Perhaps that's a sign that it truly has become about the spectacle, that I'm not even sure plot itself can be figured into the equation of the movie's enjoyability. To a certain degree, the pieces don't exactly fit together and the second two parts don't exactly make as much sense as they could. But it's big fun...

I still have my doubts that the ending will be exactly pleasing to everyone, but it doesn't feel like there are large holes in the movie's enjoyability and it does manage to be that big summer thrill-ride so often talked about in describing what people refer to as "popcorn movies". Nothing quite displays the promise of that ideal like this trilogy and the final part does not disappoint.

The actors are all excellent and the movie taps just about every amusing background character of the trilogy, giving them all their due and their moment to shine. More movies should have such casts. Depp of course shines in his role as he's allowed to take it beyond the limits of the surreal abandon he's previously inhabited. Keira Knightly leads the film with a strength and grace that turns former doubters, like myself, into her most fervent fanatics. And Rush and the other master players like Bill Nighy, Stellan Skarsgard, Chow Yun-Fat, and even Keith Richards class the movie up like no other, peaking the drama and comedy inherent in the film.

I'm not sure it's brilliant or perfect, but it's a hell of an ejoyable movie and the fans will be pleased with the closing of their favorite story.

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The Holiday

holiday.jpgrating-2.0The Holiday starts off well enough with Kate Winslet, relegated to the sad-sack role of a woman who slept with the boss, was cheated on, and then proceeds to think of nothing but him, hoping of the day that he'll finally come to his senses and fall in love with her. But he decides to marry another woman while giving her as many mixed signals as possible.

Then the crap spews out as Cameron Diaz arrives on the scene. She plays a stupid career-obsessed bitch who is unlikable and has a stick up her ass, much like Cameron Diaz. When she appears on screen, she immediately begins screaming at her boyfriend, who's been sleeping on the couch, goading him into admitting his infidelity... Apparently he's been working late. Despite his eventual admission of cheating, I side with the poor man. My girlfriend can't believe it and wonders why.

1. It's Cameron Diaz. That boney cunt harridan is the most unlikable person on the screen. Not since In Her Shoes (only months before) has Diaz played such a stupid and unlikable waste of skin.

2. As her boyfriend points out, she spends all her time working, has no interest in love or even sex, and her obsession with her career of movie trailer editing (which I have a hard time believing is the 24-hour-per day chore that they make it out to be) prevents her from being anything but a whining bitch machine.

3. She's a manipulative whore who is totally emotionally closed off.

Now, why would I give a damn if this person's being cheated on? I'd be more than likely to give the guy a high-five and congratulate him. This is not a girl I would be friends with. In all liklihood, I would pour gasoline on her face and set it on fire.

Now that we've established that I'm not fond of Cameron, back to the plot: with her cheating man out of the house, Diaz feels the need to escaping her suffocating life of shallow L.A. self-indulgence.

The two women trade their homes over the internet and you arrive at the premise: Winslet lives it up in the L.A. mansion and learns to love; Diaz hates the country cottage until she bones Winslet's brother, Jude Law, and eventually finds love in her own retarded way.

Along the ride, the two each find that part they've been missing of themselves and resist the temptation to fall back into their previous lives, though you never really believe that Cameron could make the 180 with so little effort and actual interest. But she does, despite all logic and the movie careens along in a slow-motion yawn. As you might imagine, everything else is fairly retarded and entirely predictable. Despite the fact that there are plenty of fairly amusing and enjoyable romantic comedies out there, this one paints by the numbers while generally failing in all areas of interest, leaving nothing but a hollow and vapid viewing experience.

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The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift

tokyo_driftrating-2.0A movie so exciting that, the next day, I had a hard time remembering I watched it...

While drastically less bad and stupid than I initially expected, the movie is a void of good writing or acting, though it was nice to see such a broad array of Asian actors in one place. Sadly, it had to be for this. Most of the cast of Better Luck Tomorrow seemed to appear, in one capacity or another, and the movie featured cameos by actual Japanese actors, including Sonny Chiba. Playing Han, Sung Kang was probably the highlight of the film, his blasse charisma being the touch that the movie needed to offset the flat, bland redneck lead, Lucas Black, and the charicature that is (Lil') Bow Wow's Twinkie. You heard me right...

For what it is, Tokyo Drift features Black's troubled young street-racing miscreant sent to live in Japan with his military father after one too many huge debacles in the States. Once in Tokyo, he immediately does what he isn't supposed to and, after falling in with drifting street racers, finds himself indebted to Han. In paying off the debt, Black get buried in the world of Yakuza crime and competes with a Japanese rival for a woman's affections.

Yeah, pretty much all the earmarks of a disaster.

And, despite its string of cliches and the death of the mentor figure that comes almost as second nature, the film doesn't over-do its motions and it's actually somewhat understated in comparison to the over-the-top spectacle it easily could be. (I get the feeling that this sequel didn't warrant that kind of budget.)

Now that I've written my review, my brain will forget the movie entirely, though I imagine I won't be the only one.

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28 Weeks Later

28_weeksrating-4.0For all their talk of Grindhouse's reinvention of the exploitation style (or, more likely, their feeble attempts to mimic it on a $70 million budget), Tarantino and Rodriguez came up with a day-glo pile of shit forty stories tall. It was their temple built to retardation and featured not a whit of the low-rent style the few good movies they were paying homage to had in their heyday.

A movie like 28 Weeks Later comes along and shames them utterly, showing them how the modern exploitation film has progressed, how a small budget can now wrench excellent effects and fantastic stylistic touches from very little, and how good a fucking gory pseudo-zombie film can be, as opposed to the wretched abortion they birthed into the world.

Bloody exploitation comes of age and is very mature in this well-thought-out reversal of 28 Days Later. While the original was a restrained and insular character drama about finding your way and yourself after a disaster, moving from a scope of tight bleakness toward eventual hope, the sequel is its negative. Opening with a rememberance of the dark and savage past, 28 Weeks Later continues quickly with a brighter world, devoid of its previous horrors, where a guilty father is left to reclaim his two children and rebuild society in London.

But, of course, things are not that simple and, very quickly, things go terribly wrong and the Rage is back. Spreading quickly, the American military, in charge of restoring London, attempts to stamp out the illness with as much force as possible, which goes about as well as you would imagine.

Every turn leads to more death as the children try to escape, carrying with them the secret that may stop the disease. Their army guardians drag them across the bleak and bloody landscape of the city and the nihilistic film moves into its final act of dark fatalism.

Featuring a visceral brutality hinted at more in the intellectual attitudes of its predecessor, 28 Weeks wreaks bloody havoc and uses well its vibrating handheld feel to restrain the audience's view of the diseased humans that double for movie monsters. The film moves as fast as its would-be zombies and its 90-odd minute running time is pure thrift of activity, every moment feeling as full of purpose as possible. The style is as good as any horror movie in recent years and, despite its wealth of jump-scare moments and bloody thrill-ride tone, its heart is still as intelligent as its originator.

Many will surely heap accolades that will make it seem like Citizen Kane or tear and rend at the movie's flesh in angry retribution for not being directed by Danny Boyle or exactly like the original or some other stupid fucking thing. I will not be one of these. The movie was excellent, but it's very different. It's very good, but it's not the best film ever. Nor is it bad in any way. Not for the squeamish, surely, but anyone who tells you anything other than that this movie is a well-crafted film is a shithead.

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Music And Lyrics

music_lyricsrating-2.0I'll admit that I enjoy a good British romantic comedy, in large part because "romantic comedy" in Britain actually means "a comedy about love" and it's not just an excuse for women to watch melodramatic horseshit that reinforces their greviously unrealistic notions about men, relationships, and true love. On top of that, Hugh Grant is an amusing and charming rogue of an actor and people who don't appreciate a little wit really don't deserve the credence to talk about it.
Though Music And Lyrics features a good taste of Grant, it is not a British romantic comedy. It's crafted by Marc Lawrence, creator of Miss Congeniality and Two Weeks Notice, both movies that I enjoyed for their sarcastic humor. Perhaps it was the mix of Sandra Bullock and Grant previously in Two Weeks Notice, but Music And Lyrics falls completely flat, stripping every bit of joy and humor from the bland and unsubtle plot movements.
Perhaps the part was written for Bullock, a drastically better comedianne, instead of Drew Barrymore, a braindead skank whose acting talent is only exceeded by her ability to create world peace with happy thoughts and my own ability to turn into an animal at a whim. Which is to say she is the bane of my moviewatching tastes (closely matched by her twiggy retard slut associate Cameron Diaz) and everything she touches turns to shit.
So, taking the annoyance of Drew's retarded kewpie doll head out of the equation, what you're left with is still a drastically substandard comedy, as a romance or otherwise. Oh, sure, Hugh Grant fights valiantly to make it work, but it's just not happening. The script is a mess and doomed from the start and the only real humor comes from the video and accompanying music for the Wham-like band Grant's character was in, called Pop.
Barrymore plays a shockingly strange and incompetent supposed businesswoman, who is filling in watering Grant's plants as he tries to write a hit song for a Shakira-like pop idol. She can't even manage to water plants properly, which makes me wonder how she survived long enough to appear in the movie. She's a fucking wreck with emotional baggage so retarded and silly it makes you wonder what the fuck Lawrence was thinking in writing the thing in the first place. She is neither a likable or relatable character, just a ball of neuroses linked back to a bad relationship with an English professor who based an unlikable character on her in his bestselling book. Sorry to tell you, Marc, but she's an unlikable character in this film as well.
Brad Garrett and Kristen Johnston do their best to help provide a comedic supporting cast, but, aside from Grant's ass-shaking and delivery of humorously accurate 80's pop, there's very little anyone can do to keep the movie from dying a slow, painful death.
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