Monthly Archives: September 2007

Review: Resident Evil-Extinction

You know, I’ve tried to start this review half a dozen ways. I wanted to talk about the disjointed themes or the unfulfilled promise of revenge. I wanted to look critically at the lovely set design and the interesting acting decisions made by the principles. In the end though, all I can really say is that Resident Evil: Extinction is the cinematic equivalent of blue balls… and that’s never good. Continue reading

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Review: Dragon Wars

dragon_wars_xlgOkay… When you see a film called Dragon Wars, I think you really should get to see, well, Dragons and Wars. Is that too much to ask? Seriously? I don’t want to give away the farm on this one, but really, you only get to see a dragon in the last few minutes and then, there’s only a short battle. Sure there are plenty of CG baddies during the preceding 90 minutes, but giant snakes do not a dragon make. In fact, the most impressive thing on the monster side are the dinosaurs which the ancient, evil Koreans ride when they are attacking a village, looking for the Yeo ui joo, a girl who is the embodiment of a mythical, wish-granting energy. That’s kinda where the plot starts and it doesn’t get any clearer from there. Continue reading

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Review: The Kingdom

Do not go into The Kingdom expecting to come out with a Hollywood version of how the US involvement in Saudi Arabia should end. Peter Berg’s new film is full of hard questions and not so easy answers and sheds a little light into the dark corner that is our understanding of what’s happening in the Middle East. At least, that’s what they want you to think.

The film opens with an incredibly beautiful graphic-based history of oil in Saudi Arabia and the United States’ interest in it. According to the film, we Americans were pretty much there from day one, keeping ourselves vested in the outcome of all the infighting and back-stabbing. We get a brief, simplistic look at how terrorism might have evolved out of the events of the sixties and seventies and how those events led to September 11, 2001. Needless to say, by the time the opening credits are over, the whole audience is in a state of upheaval. We’re tense and anxious and really want some relief. Continue reading

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Review: The Hunting Party

hunting_partyRichard Gere is having a hell of a year, pardon the rhyme. Back in the spring he gave us The Hoax, about a disgruntled journalist who tells a little white lie that gets him in trouble with the United States government. In his new film, The Hunting Party, Gere plays a… well, he plays a disgruntled journalist who tells a little white lie that, ultimately, gets the US government involved. And yet these two films are miles apart in tone, style and message.

The Hunting Party is marketed as a very black comedy and while it has some funny moments, there are some scenes of such brutality that labeling this any kind of comedy seems rather presumptuous. And yet those scenes are crucial to the understanding of Gere’s character Simon, a disenchanted, former hotshot network foreign correspondent. Continue reading

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Review: Death at a Funeral

death_at_a_funeral_ver4Frank Oz is a funny man. He’s also a very smart man. In his latest directorial effort, the man who brought us films like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and In & Out, combines these two traits and brings us Death at a Funeral.

Death at a Funeral, which covers the afternoon funeral of the family patriarch at his English home, is a light, laugh-filled film which never strays too far from the general concept that funny should not be diluted with a deep message. Not to say Oz and writer Dean Craig don’t have an agenda or a point of view, they do, but they understand what makes those points of view funny. Mostly, Oz just lets the film breathe. He doesn’t rush the moments, instead, letting them build on their own energy until his audience finds the humor. True, sometimes that humor comes from uncomfortable places, but hey this is a film about dead people. Continue reading

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Review: Rob Zombie’s Halloween

To paraphrase an old car commercial: This ain’t your father’s Halloween. No indeed. Where John Carpenter’s 1978 film was a modern fairy-tale about the dangers of pre-marital sex, Rob Zombie’s version eliminates the moralizing over-tones and brings in a back story which tries to define, once and for all, how an American psychopath is made.

And it works. Mostly. Continue reading

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Review: Death Sentence

When I go see a Kevin Bacon film, I have come to expect a certain level of quality. Like anything else, most people have expectations when they walk into a film. You’ve seen the trailers and noted the actors and based on those things, there is a certain implied contract between the film and the audience. This is why Adam Sandler or Mike Myers rarely work when cast in a serious film. So when I went to see the new revenge thriller Death Sentence, I expected a thought provoking film, one which ruminated on the topics of death and revenge. And for the first 30 minutes or so, that’s exactly what I got. Continue reading

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