Friday, August 29, 2008

Visiting a College was NEVER this much fun!

First-time director Deb Hagan teams up with first-time screenwriters Dan Callahan and Adam Ellison in the gross-out comedy COLLEGE. Kevin (Drake Bell), Carter (Andrew Caldwell), and Morris (Kevin Covais) are three nerdy high school seniors who need some adventure in their life. After Gina (Alona Tal) breaks up with Kevin, the trio decides to have a wild weekend at Fieldmont University, where Kevin and Morris are planning on going to college in the fall--Morris on an academic scholarship. When their preassigned dorm room is not ready for them for reasons best left unsaid, they turn instead to one of the fraternities, where a cousin of Carter's was a member, hoping to be treated as legacies. But the frat, which is on probation and cannot have a new pledge class, takes advantage of the situation by turning Kevin, Carter, and Morris into pre-frosh pledges for the weekend, torturing them in numerous and disgusting ways, some involving pigs, nitrous oxide, bathrooms, and lots of alcohol. The three nerds try to find solace--and possible sex--with Heather (Camille Mana), Kendall (Haley Bennett), and Amy (Nathalie Walker), but the frat brothers have other plans. And then there's Bearcat (Gary Owen), who just about steals the show as the craziest of all the fraternity brothers.

Kevin Brewer (Drake Bell) is a high school senior unceremoniously dumped by girlfriend Gina (Alona Tal) for living his life on the straight and narrow. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Kevin does something better: he travels with best friends Carter (Andrew Caldwell) and Morris (Kevin Covais) to freshman orientation at prospective school Fieldmont University and vows to make it a weekend none of them will ever forget. Wild frat parties, myriad adventures, and maybe even a little romance ensues, with Kevin finally coming into his own and learning that he likes himself just the way he is. "College" is thin on plot, more of a naturalistic slice-of-life that also happens to include a few genre staples. From the smarmy fraternity guys, led by Teague (Nick Zano), who vow to make the visiting kids' lives hell, to the bad guys' grand-scale climactic comeuppance, to the scenes of T&A (and more) intertwined with a more serious romantic subplot between Kevin and fresh-faced collegiate Kendall (Haley Bennett), to the three friends' temporary falling-out and making up, the movie is a return to the care-free, anything-goes attitude of the '80s teen sex comedies. Deep character exploration will not be located here, but all of the binge drinking, nitrous oxide inhaling, scatological humor, and bumpy bedplay one can imagine is in full force. Indeed, "College" goes overboard on occasion, moving beyond the truth of the rest of the film and into a more outlandish zone (is this the biggest party school on the planet or what?), but it's good-humored even when it's threatening the viewer's gag reflex. As Kevin, Drake Bell is a servicable yet forgettable protagonist when stacked against his more colorful co-stars. Andrew Caldwell is the standout of the trio as the ready and willing Carter—energetic to a fault, uninhibited in his lack of vanity, and lovable even when his character is being sarcastic or shrill. He is someone to definitely keep an eye on. As the reserved Morris, who goes through some changes of his own during the weekend timeframe, former "American Idol" contestant Kevin Covais makes an auspicious acting debut in a role that goes directly against his squeaky-clean persona. It's admirable of Covais to take a chance like this, and he pulls it off. On the female front, Haley Bennett is likeably casual and unforced as Kevin's love interest, Kendall, and Nathalie Walker and Camille Mana offer sunny, humorous support as Amy and Heather. Meanwhile, an extended cameo by Verne Troyer could have, and should have, been cut without any bearing on the story. Quite a lot of laughs to keep me interested, but I have a feeling that many may pass this one up. I'm saying NOT to! This gets a 4 on my "Go See" scale.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

what a Disaster this Movie was

Lionsgate Films' Disaster Movie
Jason Friedberg and Adam Seltzer--the two guys who did EPIC MOVIE, DATE MOVIE, SCARY MOVIE, and MEET THE SPARTANS--bring you DISASTER MOVIE, a compendium of gross-out gags and reference-check quasi-satire bits aping THE INCREDIBLE HULK, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, JUMPER, ENCHANTED, DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN, SEX AND THE CITY, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, and so on. The story is structured via CLOVERFIELD with Will (Matt Lanter), after having a 10,000 B.C.-style dream involving an Amy Winehouse look-a-like (Nicole Parker), races against time to rescue his girlfriend (Vanessa Minnillo) who is trapped in a museum with references to TWISTER; meanwhile kids who look like the teens from SUPERBAD try and score booze. What? Along for the ride are a JUNO-esque slacker girl (Crista Flanagan) and Gary "G-Thang" Johnson; there are take-offs of ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS, and celebrity impersonations of Dr. Phil, Michael Jackson, the real Kim Kardashian, and the ubiquitous Carmen Electra; lots of dances and fights and dance/fights (à la STEP UP and STEP UP 2 THE STREETS). The comedy talent here is mostly imported from MAD TV, particularly Parker, who also does ENCHANTED and a mean Jessica Simpson. The recipe here, as before, is to cram in as many pop-culture references as possible, douse liberally with gross bodily fluids, and serve face forward. In other words, it's the perfect film for loud shouts and inappropriate laughter with a roomful of one's most off-color cohorts.
This one, coming so closely on the heels of Meet The Spartans, has even less going for it than its very average predecessor. It's incremental really. The more times you plough the same ground, the less fertile the soil becomes. Since they have so little material to work with in the first place, Friedberg and Seltzer take each joke well beyond its limits. Disaster Movie nods towards a string of action blockbusters, from Cloverfield to The Hulk and Iron Man to The Dark Knight. But since the big guns don't provide enough comedic color, the story is an explosion of pop culture references - Alvin And The Chipmunks, Kung Fu Panda, Juno, Hannah Montana and Enchanted, to name a few. The latter is represented by a psychotic sewer princess (Nicole Parker), who gives the film what life it has. Even Sex And The City gets a look in - with a transvestite Carrie Bradshaw who rumbles a heavily pregnant Juney (Crista Flanagan). It sounds funnier than it is.
Disaster Movie is one of those rare films that has absolutely nothing to recommend it. It's not bad enough to be good and not even awful enough to offend. A sad 2 on my ""Go See" scale.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cheadle's Performance Saves This Traitor

The next movie I will review is "Traitor" Samir Horn (Don Cheadle), a devout American Muslim, and a former U.S. Army Special Forces expert in explosives, has been mysteriously showing up on the FBI's radar for being in the area of terrorist bombings. FBI agent Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) heads up a task force investigation to link Horn to these bombings. Clayton is able to question Horn after he was arrested in Yemen for attempting to sell explosives to an Islamic terrorist group. The terrorists break out of prison and take Horn with them. With the help of Max Archer (Neal McDonough), Clayton is able to link Horn to a bombing of an American Consulate in Nice, and a failed police raid to capture his top terrorist contact in London. Clayton has been pursuing Horn around the world and has tracked him to the United States. Clayton must capture Horn before he strikes his next target. Samir gets mixed up with the terrorists, becomes a murderer, becomes mixed up with the American government, and eventually has to decide if he wants to continue to destroy innocent lives in order to save many more lives. There is some US bashing on the part of the terrorists but it doesn't crowd out or ruin the larger story. There are good guys & bad guys, with shades of gray in between. Yet the story is a compelling one and Don Cheadle gives an Oscar worthy performance in the lead role as a terrorist/traitor. He has a strong supporting cast, including Guy Peirce, as the lead FBI agent tracking him down, Neal McDonough (from HBO's Band of Brothers") assisting Peirce, Jeff Daniels as an intelligence contractor with a shady persona, and many others, all excellent. The plot is complicated and I won't spend a lot of time re-hashing the movie. The movie begins in the 1970's with the Don Cheadle character as a young boy in Sudan, fast forwards to present day Yemen, with Cheadle grown up and making a weapons sale to Al Qaeda (or a terrorist group, the film never explicitly mentions Al Qaeda), and the location switches between Yemen, London, Paris, and Chicago. The main terrorist plot involves mass bombings in the US, I won't say what the targets are, or how many are targeted. The bombs are all to be detonated at the same time, for maximum impact. The plot is clear at some points and at others you really can't say whats about to happen, I will say that when you find out that Samir will make the bombs, and the detonation switches, your mind will come up with several outcomes. Mine were all wrong. This is a pure message film and makes you think about the world. It's a well acted film, it's very well made, I give traitor a 4 and on my avoidance scale a HUGE 0. This is definitely worth seeing. It's a good action thriller that also provides some realistic international perspective sorely lacking in most of today's spy movies.

almost walked away from this Traitor

Overture Films' Traitor
In Traitor, straight arrow FBI agent Roy Clayton heads up the investigation into a dangerous international conspiracy, all clues seem to lead back to former U.S. Special Operations officer, Samir Horn. A mysterious figure with a web of connections to terrorist organizations, Horn has a knack for emerging on the scene just as a major operation goes down. The inter-agency task force looking into the case meets with Carter, a veteran CIA contractor who seemingly has his own agenda and Max Archer, a fellow FBI agent. The task force links Horn to a prison break in Yemen, a bombing in Nice and a raid in London, but a tangle of contradictory evidence emerges, forcing Clayton to question whether his quarry is a disaffected former military operative -- or something far more complicated. Obsessed with discovering the truth, Clayton tracks Horn across the globe as the elusive ex-soldier burrows deeper and deeper into a world of shadows and intrigue.
Traitor is writer/director Jeffrey Nachmanoff's powerful rumination on post-9/11 foreign affairs wrapped up into a taut contemporary spy thriller. Balancing the film's sometimes conflicted ideological heft is Don Cheadle, who turns in a smartly even-keeled performance as Samir Horn, a Sudanese-born, Chicago-raised former U.S. Army Special Forces operative. The action begins with a jarring prologue set in Sudan in 1978, where the young Samir witnesses the murder of his father by car bombing. Jumping swiftly to present day Yemen, Samir, in a dramatically ironic twist, is revealed as a mercenary selling explosives to Muslim extremists. But what is never completely clear throughout TRAITOR's numerous plot-twists is just where Horn's allegiances truly lie: is he an American spy infiltrating a Jihadist plot or a devout Muslim who has traded his sympathies with the West? When an arms sale runs afoul, Samir is jailed in a Yemeni prison where he befriends Omar (Said Taghmaoui), a ringleader of a terrorist organization that is being watched by the F.B.I. A bold prison break is hatched and the pair begins collaborating on a series of bombings throughout Europe. As Samir becomes embroiled in ever-escalating terror plots, it becomes clear that he is duplicitously playing both sides at growing danger to himself and the lives of innocent people. Cut with a breathless, war reportage-styled pace, TRAITOR is an action-packed, suspense-filled thriller whose seemingly equivocal ideological veneer can be summed up as: "In war, there are no winners." Don Cheadle, heart sewn to his sleeve, is badly miscast in this war-on-terror thriller -- not for a moment did I believe that his gentle, soulful character had the stuff to function as a serial mass murderer, let alone gain the confidence of other cold-blooded killers. Cheadle is a cool enough character that this wouldn't necessarily be a deal-breaker, but the transparency of his intentions renders the film's coy guessing games about his allegiance more or less over the top. Guy Pearce is quite good as the agent who suspects that Cheadle might not be the international sociopath the rest of the FBI has him pegged as, but the film isn't as clever as it needs to be to drive the cat-and-mouse storyline. By the time Cheadle's character makes the biggest chump move in the book -- visiting his ex-girlfriend in Chicago even though any terror plotter worth his C4 would know she's under surveillance -- Traitor has proven itself to be about as realistic as any given episode of 24, but not half as much fun. This one actually put me asleep, but what I DID see (which was most of it) wasn't enough to hold my attention. Another good plot that seemed to go nowhere. A disappointing 2 on my "Go See" scale.

Shakespeare Must Be Rolling With This 2ND Hamlet

"Hamlet 2" despite the title is not a sequel to William Shakespeare's famous play, or the many film versions based on the play. Instead, Hamlet 2 is a comedy about a very unorthodox drama teacher named Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan), who after never being able to become a successful actor himself, has later had to settle for being a high school drama teacher. With two dedicated returning drama students, Rand Posin (Skylar Astin) and Epiphany Sellars (Phoebe Strole) and a class full of new faces, who do not really care about acting, Dana is inspired to write a sequel to William Shakespeare's Hamlet and get the class motivated to perform it. Along the way, Dana loses his wife Brie (Catherine Keener) as the somewhat controversial subject matter of the new play gets Dana a lot of publicity, and trouble, Dana insists that the show must go on. The actual stage performance of the play is about as funny as you expect, the students who would rather fight among themselves, find that the play is worth doing. When one of Dana's students tells him he can't do the play Dana takes the boy home so he can speak with the boys parents. The expected Hollywood "troubled teen" cliche doesn't come, another one, the rich intelligent boy cliche is born here. Hamlet 2 is a pretty good satire of the inspirational teacher films that have been big for the last twenty years, or so, and it was kind of a refreshing change to have a film with those elements in it, but also lampooning it and getting as satirical and far fetched with it as they can possibly go. The film also gets the actors involved to act really badly to add camp to this film and further emphasize the satirical nature of it. All the actors are playing B movie versions of themselves, but they still do a really good job of it. Hamlet 2 is a smaller scale film and unfortunately will probably not do as well as some of this summer's other comedies, but for those who were lucky enough to have a theatre near them playing it, I would highly recommend it. Like a lot of independent comedies of recent years, Hamlet 2 is very quirky, offbeat and different. I think that is what I liked so much about it. I do admit that there were some pretty good mainstream comedies that have come out this summer, but the originality and the fact that this film was so over the top, but in a purely entertaining and goofy way I think I may have had just as much fun watching this film as some of the other really good films of this year. There are also some catchy and very humorous musical numbers in the film as well plus a cameo which I will not give away, but is actually written quite brilliantly. I realize that there is some material in this film that some people may find offensive, or consider debatable content, but I personally was not offended by it at all. I don't think that the things it poked fun at were ever done in a really nasty, or in a disrespectful way. I myself thought that yes some things were being parodied, but in almost such an innocent way (it may not seem so, but believe me it's true) that I found it really hard to be offended by this film at all. I really appreciated the offbeat and quirky humour of the film, the overacting that suited the film just fine and the catchy musical numbers which I didn't find offensive for the same reasons as I stated above. This film may be a bit too different for some people's tastes, but like a rare, or exotic treat it will find an audience that will appreciate it for what it is and this was certainly the case for me. One of the most entertaining, original and best comedies of the year so far. I give Hamlet 2 a 3 and on my avoidance scale I give it a 0. Go and see this wonderfully funny movie.

Rock me SEXY JESUS!!

Focus Features' Hamlet 2
Hamlet 2 stars Steve Coogan as Dana Marschz; the last name is pronounced…oh, any attempt is close enough, really. Dana is a failed actor-turned-high-school drama teacher. Shortchanged in the talent department, Dana still harbors ambitions and passions. At work, that is; his personal life, with his dissatisfied wife Brie (Catherine Keener) and their boarder Gary (David Arquette), leaves much to be desired. At Tucson, AZ’s West Mesa High School, Dana sees himself as an inspirational teacher. But his adaptations of popular films, as performed by his top students Rand and Epiphany (Skylar Astin and Phoebe Strole), are not resonating. When his latest – re-creating “Erin Brockovich” – is dismissed by the 9th grade drama critic and his department is targeted for closure, Dana must reach deep into himself for creativity. After much perspiration, he conceives a sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet – a musical-theater extravaganza that will disdain both political correctness and dramatic credibility. Rallying and rousing his class, Dana casts a wider net by recruiting transfer students like Ivonne (Melonie Diaz) for key roles. With rehearsals underway, objections from school officials and the community are soon raised, but Dana will not be denied his freedom of artistic expression. After all, “to thine own self be true.” Dana gets unexpected support from ACLU attorney Cricket Feldstein (Amy Poehler) and his favorite actress, Elisabeth Shue (Academy Award nominee Elisabeth Shue as herself). Above all else, he fervently believes that his opus must be staged, and nothing can break his optimistic spirit.

Many summers produce a late-season surprise at the movies, a sleeper hit that comes out of nowhere. This year it is - or ought to be- "Hamlet 2, " a laugh-out-loud comedy that is a welcome antidote of Hollywood's idea of what's funny, which joins the ranks of this years earlier comedies "Tropic Thunder" and "Pineapple Express". The story focuses the journey of failed actor Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan, who also appeared in "Tropic Thunder"). he's ended up as a drama teacher at an Arizona high school, doing totally unnecessary stage versions of popular film hits. Things are going from bad to worse for him. His drama club has been flooded with kids with no interest in theater but whose extracurricular clubs have been cancelled. His wife (Catherine Keener) seems to have a live-in boyfriend (David Arquette). His worst critic is a pint-size pre-teen who regularly skewers his productions for his school block. Dana, in a fit of creative desperation, creates an original musical sequel to Shakespeare's "Hamlet, " which he believes will raise the money needed to save his job. When it's pointed out that all the principal characters are dead at the end of Shakespeare's play, Dana reveals his great plot device - a time machine. By the time we get to the show itself, complete with a rockin' Jesus, sexually suggestive songs, and more stage special effects than any school should have access to, you can only hang on for the ride. "Hamlet 2" features broken and quirky characters who border on the cartoonish, yet retain a core humanity with which we can identify. When Dana meets a nurse at the fertility clinic who looks like Elisabeth Shue, the joke isn't simply that it really is Shue, playing herself. It's why she's take this job, and what happens to her over the course of the story. Coogan makes Dana a ridiculous figure, but in th end he wants us to be won over by this loser who simply won't stay beaten down. His enthusiasm for his patently ridiculous show becomes infectious. Dana becomes merely the most absurd of lovable losers we find ourselves cheering on. "Hamlet 2" is not going to be for every taste, but it is easily one of the funniest movies to be released this year. A definite 5 on my "Go See" scale.

This Bunny Can Rule MY House

Unlike in the stupid scary movies franchise, where she plays plain silly, Anna Faris is a genuine comedic talent that gets her chance to shine in "The House Bunny" a comedy directed by Fred Wolf. When Shelly (Anna Faris), a Playboy bunny, is tossed out of the mansion, on her twenty-seventh birthday, she has nowhere to go. She had lived there for the last nine years, and thought she was one of Hef's Favorites. While wandering around Los Angeles, and sleeping in her car, because she has no essential skills to gain employment, Shelly does eventually fall in with the sorority girls from Zeta Alpha Zeta. The members of the sorority who also have got to be the seven most socially clueless women on the planet, are about to lose their house. They need a dose of what only the eternally bubbly Shelley can provide. The soroity is lead by Natalie (Emma Stone), others include Mona (Kat Dennings), Harmony (Katharine McPhee) and Joanne (Rumor Willis). Shelly does find a love interest, Oliver (Colin Hanks), a Professor at the girls college. The girls offer to help Shelly win Oliver over, Shelly is so inept at a real date that she messes the first try up so bad, ending up in the hospital with burns on her legs. The way she does this is probable the movies funniest scene. Oliver is willing to go out with Shelly because he finds her interesting. With the help of the sorority girls Shelly sees that life outside the Mansion can be fun. Shelly also helps bring the girls out of their shells as well, she makes them one of the most popular sorority's on the campus. In the midst of all the change, we find out the real reason Shelly was thrown out of the Playboy Mansion, jealousy. Hef thinks that Shelly has moved out and Shelly believes she was thrown out. When the truth comes out, Shelly is once again welcomed back to the Mansion, Shelly's one dream is to become the centerfold of the magazine. Hef gives her the opertunity to do so, Shelly goes through the turmoil of thinking the girls she tried so hard to help no longer want her around, so she goes back to the Mansion. Needless to say that Shelly comes to her senses and returns to help the girls try to save their dorm house. The girls go through so many new changes that they at first think they want the changes, then they realize they liked themselves the way they were more. The end is true Hollywood cliche but along the way you may just laugh yourself silly. I give The House Bunny a 3 and on my avoidance scale I give it a 0. Yes thats a 0, go and see this movie.

Faris is a perfect House Bunny

Anna Faris stars in Sony Pictures' The House Bunny
Anna Faris shines in her starring turn in THE HOUSE BUNNY, a hilarious and heartfelt tale of female empowerment. As the film opens, Shelly Darlingson (Farris) is Big Bunny on Campus at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion. With her 27th birthday approaching, Shelly eagerly anticipates fulfilling her dream: to be centerfold of the month. But when she learns that she's being booted from Bunnyland, Shelly finds herself with no family or place to call home. Desperate for both, she lucks across the socially inept sisters of the Zeta Alpha Zeta sorority. With no hope of attracting new pledges and the consequent threat of losing their sorority, the girls of Zeta take in the bubbly Shelly as their new "house mother." Shelly immediately sets to work helping the Zetas bring out their inner glamazons, luring in boys while drawing the ire of rival sorority Phi Iota Mu. Shelly also catches the eye of Oliver (Colin Hanks), who forces her to realize that it will take more her Playboy Mansion ways to win over a good man. Plus, Shelly discovers that her social insights have transformed the Zetas into the very superficial types they once railed against. And when Hugh Hefner calls to offer Shelly her dream centerfold shoot, she must choose between returning to the family that loved her best and saving the family that needs her most. Faris (who co-produced the film) is a comic delight as Shelly, with a perfect blend of sexy charm and sweet-natured cluelessness. Supported by an excellent cast of fresh faces and seasoned veterans, THE HOUSE BUNNY is an irresistible tale of inner beauty and "sisters" sticking together.
Sometimes the casting of a certain actor in a role elevates a movie from ordinary to special. Such is the case with the casting of Anna Farris as “The House Bunny.” This young woman throws herself into the part and wins over the audience with her humor and her heart. The rest of the movie is pretty routine but Farris’ performance is anything but ordinary.Farris plays Shelley Darlingson, a blonde bunny who lives at the Playboy Mansion. She appears to be one of Hugh Hefner’s favorites but on the day after her twenty-seventh birthday she gets a note from him telling her to vacate the premises. It seems twenty-seven is ancient in bunny years. Stumbling around the streets of LA she comes upon a sorority house in need of a house mother. Zeta Alpha Zeta needs to get thirty new pledges or they will lose their house. The girls, led by Natalie (Emma Stone) are won over by Shelley who knows all about making the young women more attractive and fun. The girls of the house include Harmony (“American Idol” finalist Katherine McPhee), Joanne (Rumer Willis), Carrie Mae (Dana Goodman), Mona (Kat Dennings) and Lilly (Kiely Williams). All of the girls start out plain but get total makeovers thanks to Shelley. McPhee is satisfactory in her role though it does not require her to stretch as an actress. Still it is good to see her on screen and at the end of the film she has a song over the credits. Here’s hoping this kicks off her movie career. With Farris channeling the sweetest and dumbest Marilyn Monroe image, who better to play her potential boyfriend than Tom Hanks son Colin. Whoever cast Anna Farris in this film should get a bonus based on the film’s success. She is the right actress for the right role at the right time. Her participation alone lifts this movie out of the ordinary to a level above. For a fun time at the movies watching an actress do everything just right, go see Anna Farris in “The House Bunny.” A solid 4 on my "Go See" scale.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

She's Footballs Passing Longshot

Fred Durst's first turn as a director, wasn't as bad as I would have thought. Not being a fan of his alternative rock band Limp Bizkit, I wasn't expecting much here. "The Longshots" though is both moving and inspiring. Curtis Plummer (Ice Cube) a down-on-his-luck former high school football star, turns his niece, Jasmine, (Keke Palmer) into the quarterback of the local team, the Minden Browns, and gets his stride back when he becomes the team coach. With Curtis as their new leader and their pigtail-wearing star player, this team of misfits wins its way to the Pop Warner Super Bowl and the small city of Minden, Illinois, is ignited with team spirit, town pride and glory. Curtis is asked to watch Jasmine by her mother, Curtis's sister Claire (Tasha Smith). Curtis and Jasmine don't get along at first, she is an outcast at school, one day at school she meets some girls who she thinks want to be her friend but turns out to be just a cruel prank. Jasmine begins to spend more time with her Uncle Curtis, he doesn't really know what to do or how to spend so much time with a girl, one day he asks Jasmine to play catch with him outside. He discovers that she has an arm on her and can throw a football as good as most boys can. Curtis takes Jasmine to the schools football practice to try to convince Coach Fisher (Matt Craven) to give her a shot, at first Curtis is told no way, so he takes Jasmine down the field and has her throw a few passes, they are noticed by Coach Fisher and is given the chance to try out for the team. The current quarter back is one of the boys who pretended to be Jasmines friend. When she wins the starting spot on the team, the team, who had been the joke of the league, starts to win games. This is a cliche filled movie from start to end, when Coach Fisher has a heart attack, Curtis takes over and the teams winning streak adds up. When the team needs to collect its own fares to get to the big game, the town pulls together, led by Reverend Pratt (Garrett Morris), to collect enough money to ensure the team can travel and play the big game. A little side plot comes into the movie at this time, Jasmine's Father comes back to town, he left her and Claire a long to fend for themselves, when he sees all the attention Jasmine is getting, his greed comes out and he decides he wants into her life. After the big game is over the family has a small clash and Jasmine is asked to choose between her Father and Uncle. The choice she makes is not a surprise. Here it is played nice and does work, the cliche ending doesn't really come like I was expecting, and that's why I give The Longshots a 3 and on my avoidance scale a 1.

Far from a Longshot to get to my heart

Dimension Films' The <span class=

Curtis Plummer (Ice Cube) -- a down-on-his-luck former high school football star -- turns his niece, Jasmine (Keke Palmer), into the quarterback of the local team, the Minden Browns, and gets his stride back when he becomes the team coach. With Curtis as their new leader and their pigtail-wearing star player, this team of misfits wins its way to the Pop Warner Super Bowl and the small city of Minden, Illinois, is ignited with team spirit, town pride and the glory it once knew.

The Longshots tells the true story of Jasmine Plummer who, at the age of eleven, became the first female to play in Pop Warner football tournament in its 56-year history, but that's not the biggest surprise here. It's the fact that this pretty good lil football movie was directed by none other than "Limp Bizkit" frontman Fred Durst. That's right! Fred Durst! And the truth of the matter is that he does a pretty damn good job. Keke Palmer shines as Jasmine, the normal bookwormy outcast who just happens to have a good throwing arm. Where most sports movies would make this seem sappy, it was done just right here. When Jasmine's mother (Tasha Smith) needs a babysitter at the last minute she asks Curtis to step up and be the uncle that Jasmine deserves. We've all had a Curtis in our lives at one time or another, grumpy as all hell and just wants to be left alone, but also has a good heart and that comes out when he starts to coach Jasmine. He even loses more of his grumpy exterior when he catches the eye of Jasmine's teacher, Ms. Macer (Jill Marie Jones). Once Jasmine is ready for the team you DO get the little cliche of "Girls don't belong on a football field", but that's to be expected. Once she proves how wrong they are, everyone is gung-ho. It's good to see that Durst didn't follow the sappy football cliches any further, because in the end Jasmine and her teammates (the Minden Browns) don't win the big game. Which is a lot more believable because lets face it, you can't win them all, but this one won my heart. This is one to see, so please do. A hearty 4 on my "Go See" scale.

Glad The Year Wasn't As Bad As This Sixty-Six

The next movie is "Sixty Six" This is the coming of age story with a sports twist. It is the summer of '66, and England is about to be consumed by World Cup Fever. For 12 year-old Bernie (Gregg Sulkin) though, the biggest day of his life is looming: his Bar Mitzvah, the day he becomes a man. However, Bernie's family are increasingly distracted by the threat of losing their business and their wayward older son, that the scale of Bernie's Bar Mitzvah diminishes daily. Esther (Helena Bonham Carter) and Manny (Eddie Marsan) try to convince Bernie that his day is still important to them. Worst of all the Soccor Cup Final is scheduled to take place on the same day and when England makes it through the qualifying rounds, Bernie's longed-for Bar Mitzvah looks set to be a complete disaster. There is little humor here, I found this movie to be very sad, not the plot, but the movie in general. I tried to feel for the family, but there was something that wouldn't let me. When disaster strikes the family Manny seems to withdraw and his family is left to clean up. I can say that this is a movie suitable for children that is funny, compassionate and resonates with their problems. No animation, no talking animals, just a boy and his family, He gets picked on, ignored, yet he teaches himself to grow up. At times Bernie seems like the only adult, as he goes through his Bar Mitzvah classes alone, he learns that life won't always be easy. The scenes where Bernie performs black magic to keep England out of the Cup Finals seems both weird and creepy. Bernie spends a lot of time visiting Dr. Barrie (Stephen Rea) they play some games, talk and generally hang out. Bernie invites Dr. Barrie to attend his Bar Mitzvah, but Dr. Barrie is having his own troubles at home. The end of the movie is typical Hollywood cliche, the father realizes how important bernie is and they spend time together doing the one thing no one expected, going to the Cup Finals. I give Sixty Six a 2 and on my avoidance scale I give it a 2.

It's the summer of '66 all over again

First Independent Pictures' Sixty Six

In Sixty Six, it is the summer of '66, and England is about to be consumed by World Cup Fever. For 12 year-old Bernie though, the biggest day of his life is looming: his Bar Mitzvah, the day he becomes a man. However, Bernie's family are increasingly distracted by the threat of losing their business and their wayward older son, that the scale of Bernie's Bar Mitzvah diminishes daily. Worst of all the Cup Final is scheduled to take place on the same day and when England makes it through the qualifying rounds, Bernie's longed-for Bar Mitzvah looks set to be a complete disaster.

You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy “Sixty Six,” but it probably wouldn’t hurt. This British movie centers on a boy preparing for his bar mitzvah at the same time that England is competing for the soccer championship in 1966. As bad luck would have it, Bernie’s rite of passage is set for the exact same day as the World Cup finals. If England makes it to the finals, will anyone show up to help Bernie celebrate? Bernie (Gregg Sulkin) has many problems besides bar mitzvah blues. Bernie’s father, Manny (Eddie Marsan), is losing the business he runs with his brother Jimmy (Peter Serafinowicz), and this adds to the stress everyone feels as the big day approaches. In her supporting turn as Bernie’s exasperated mother Esther, Helena Bonham Carter blends seamlessly into the ensemble. Stephen Rea as an asthma specialist and Richard Katz as a blind rabbi contribute juicy portrayals. But all hinges on the performance of young Sulkin, and he wears his air of sadness with just the right note of hesitant charm. Preteen years can be so awkward, especially when you're in the shadow of a bully big brother. And an obsessive-compulsive father. And a blind rabbi preparing you for your Bar Mitzvah. This is the sweet, goofy story of North London's Bernie Rubens, a non-athletic, bespectacled boy waiting excitedly for his Jewish transition into manhood. But the year is 1966 (thus, the title), and as any Brit knows, there was something else going on that year. That "something else" was the presence of the underdog England soccer club in the World Cup Final. With a final match scheduled for the same day as poor Bernie's Bar Mitzvah celebration. In director Paul Weiland's "true-ish story" (a good establishing joke there), our slight hero carefully prepares, with Martha Stewart-like precision, to finally take his place as the center of attention. But there's that pesky football squad everyone is rooting for.

I really enjoyed this movie. As Bernie prepared for his bar mitzvah i was right there beside him. It was nice to see this younger man eagerly prepare to become an adult. Then that darn soccer championship game took a hold of everyones attention. It kept me laughing and even with Helen Bonham Carter as a supporting character, I really enjoyed her here. I'm not jewish, but i wish that I was now. I want a bar mitzvah, just don't let and sports game ruin MY day. A hefty 4 on my "Go See" scale.

Plot Seen Clear As Day Through These Mirrors

The next movie I will review is "Mirrors" The movie begins as we all meet a security guard running for his life into a locker room. He looks in a large mirror and his reflection cuts it's throat. The security guard collapses bleeding from a real neck wound. Next we meet Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) as he starts his first day of work in a large mall that looks like a federal museum with giant ceilings and Greek columns. The mall burnt and is currently vacant only occupied by some leftovers from the stores mainly mannequins, furniture, and huge mirrors. The mirrors are squeaky clean. We are told the Kiefer's predecessor obsessed about keeping them clean. Ben's life is a mess. Out of a job from the police department, he shot and killed a fellow officer, divorced and in trouble with his lovely wife Amy (Paula Patton) over their two kids, Michael (Cameron Boyce) and Daisy (Erica Gluck), sleeping on his sister Angela's (Amy Smart) couch, and apparently with some type of a prescription drug problem. One night during his rounds at his new job he discovers something odd. A hand print on a mirror. The print can't be removed. It's on the other side of the mirror. He also discovers a flooded basement. Back at home he starts seeing things in the mirror. And starts an investigation into the store, and the security guard who he replaced. He suspects that it is not just in his head as others tell him but that something is not right with this building and the mirrors. It turns out, next to the mall was a hospital where strange treatments took place in the psychiatric unit. As a result of what happened there to a young girl, the mirrors in the mall are trying to convey a message. Kiefer continues with the investigation tracking down the girl. In the meantime the mirrors start attacking his loved ones. There are a couple of twists near the end. Also the end is a surprise. Aja knows how to direct horror and actors. And this movie is nicely photographed and has great camera work. There are a few good scary and gory scenes. And the story itself is good. The only problem I found is that it's too long at nearly two hours and could have used a re-editing for tightness. The mirrors are as much a character as Kiefer, who himself is not a very approachable guy in this movie. Overall a watchable mild horror film that could use either more horror or a few more deleted scenes to make it tighter and more action-packed. I give Mirrors a 2 and on my avoidance scale I also give it a 2. This is the type of stay at home movie, that makes Friday nights better.

I would've glady taken the seven years back luck to break this Mirror

20th Century Fox's Mirrors

In Mirrors, it's been nearly a year since volatile detective Ben Carson (Keifer Sutherland) was suspended from the NYPD for fatally shooting another undercover officer, an accident that not only cost him his job, but fueled the alcoholism and anger that has alienated his wife and kids and left him crashing on his sister's couch in Queens. Desperate to pull his life together, Carson takes a job as a night watchman at the burned-out ruins of the Mayflower department store, which was destroyed by a massive fire that devoured numerous innocent lives. As Carson patrols the eerie, charred remains of the store, he begins to notice something sinister about the ornate mirrors that adorn the Mayflower walls. Reflected in the gigantic shimmering glass are horrific images that stun Carson. Beyond projecting gruesome images of the past, the mirrors appear to be manipulating reality as well. When Carson sees his own reflection being tortured, he suffers the physical effects of his fractured visions. His sympathetic but skeptical sister Angela dismisses these bizarre as nightmares as a consequence of his stress and guilt over the accidental shooting, but Carson'ss estranged wife Amy (Paula Patton) , a no-nonsense NYPD medical 2 examiner, is less forgiving. Her husbands increasingly erratic behavior frightens her, pushing his family farther away--and, she fears, its putting their children in danger. As Carson investigates the mysterious disappearance of a Mayflower security guard and its possible connection to his ghastly visions, he realizes that a malevolent, otherworldly force is using reflections as a gateway to terrorize him and his family. Carson must somehow uncover the truth behind the mirrors--and convince Amy to help him battle the greatest evil he has ever faced.

Kiefer Sutherland in 20th Century Fox's Mirrors

Hmmm...what can I say about Mirrors? I like Keifer Sutherland. I like the idea of creepy happenings involving mirrors, but the fact is that it didn't really hold my attention. I WILL say that the special effects were pretty good. Keifer is cool, but his yelling made him sound too much like his 24 character, Jack Bauer. Sorry Keifer, this has nothing to do with CTU. Give it a rest. so, on the whole I can't really reccommend this one to anyone. Wait until it reaches DVD and decide for yourself. A saddened 2 on my "Go See" scale. It gets this high a grade for the special effects alone.

Trouble Abound On This Transsibearn Ride

The next movie I will review is "Transsiberian" This is a thriller set on the legendary train that links the Far East and Europe, running from China and Mongolia to Russia. Following a stay in Beijing, Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer), a couple who are going through a rocky patch, decide to give their relationship one last go and have another adventure together, traveling on the Transsiberian from China to Moscow through exotic, wild and snow-laden places. On the train, Roy and Jessie discover that the days of the Transsiberian's glorious luxury have faded since the fall of the U.S.S.R. The famous trains former glamor has disappeared, leaving cold steel carriages and taciturn fellow passengers, reputed to include drug traffickers. They take refuge in the company of a fellow western couple who arrive in their shared compartment, Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) and Abby (Kate Mara), who travel throughout the world giving language classes and re-selling handcrafts, such as, on this occasion, Russian Matryoshka dolls. Everything is going well until the four decide to get off the train at one stop. Roy gets separated from the rest of the group and the train carries on with the other three already back on board. Jessie, by now extremely worried, has no other option but to get off at the next station and wait until Roy comes on the following train. Abby and Carlos offer to wait with her. However, while they wait for him, Carlos tries to take advantage of Jessie and, in trying to defend herself, she ends up accidentally killing him. Terrified, she leaves the corpse in the snow. She then returns to the station, where Roy has finally arrived. Back together at last, Jessie tries to forget about what has happened. But the nightmare is only just beginning. She soon discovers that Carlos was in fact a drug dealer who was being pursued by corrupt police officers, led by Grinko (Ben Kingsley), and they are now chasing her. Unwittingly, Roy and Jessie get caught up in the dark world of smuggling and betrayal. And they know that while the train is in motion, there is no means of escape! The movie is a sadly average and underwhelming thriller. It begins with a long set-up where we discover the characters have marital problems and shady past lives. We're meant to wonder who Abby and Carlos are, what do they want, and will Carlos and Jessie wind up cheating on their partners with each other. But its so easy to see who the red herrings are and what the plot devices will be that this movie is less about suspense than about sitting back and waiting for it to finally happen already. Then when it finally does, we're left with Jessie reacting in supremely silly and just downright insane ways, she's running through the train like a crazy person trying to get rid of a bag full of drugs, she's lying to cops and her husband when honestly doing the exact opposite would be more beneficial, she's protecting a young girl she barely knows, she's deleting pictures that could possibly prove her case in the end. It's just one dumb move after another. The last 20 minutes of the movie goes off on a violent tangent but its still the best part of this otherwise lackluster screenplay. There were some things I did enjoy. The atmosphere with snow-laden landscapes and trees is phenomenal and the actors do their best to keep things at a high-pace, especially Emily Mortimer. Her character doesn't exactly work but Mortimer's emotional connection to her does. She begins the movie seeming suspiciously shady only later to layer on the dread and desperate panic of someone plunged into an extremely serious situation. And this is the type of role Harrelson could do in his sleep, playing a straight-laced, "golly-gee" type of American. His character is someone willing to be adventurous but also cautious and average at the same time. Noriega and Mara do nice work being deceptively dangerous, and Noriega in particular is suspiciously charming. And then you have Ben Kingsley, nailing the Russian accent while throwing in some hidden agenda behind the eyes as well. The movie is obvious at most points, you can clearly tell what is going to happen in many of the story's plot lines, and the agenda of Grinko is so clear, he should have just wore a neon sign around his neck. I give Transsiberian a 3 and on my avoidance scale I give it a 1.

You go ahead and ride the Trassiberian. I'm staying home.

First Look Studios' Transsiberian

In Trassiberian an American couple, Roy and Jessie (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer), decide to take the long way home from their recent sojourn in Asia on the legendary Trans-siberian Express train from Beijing to Moscow. On their way, they meet another couple from the West, Carlos and Abby (Eduadro Noriega and Kate Mara), with whom they quickly form a familiar bond that often unites fellow travellers away from home. When Roy accidentally gets separated from the group at a stopover, Jessie begins to realize that their compatriots aren't exactly who or what they seem to be. The real danger begins to surface as a deceitful Russian detective (Ben Kingsley) and locals terrorize Jessie in this unforgettable journey.

The train ride from hell? Pretty darn close. It starts off nicely enough. A lovely 8 day trip on the Transsiberian Express from Beijing to Moscow sounds like a great idea, right? It sounded good to Roy and Jessie. They
are going through a rocky patch, decide to give their relationship one last go and have another adventure together, traveling on the Transsiberian from China to Moscow through exotic, wild and snow-laden places. On the train, Roy and Jessie discover that the days of the Transsiberian's glorious luxury have faded since the fall of the U.S.S.R. The famous train's former glamor has disappeared, leaving cold steel carriages and taciturn fellow passengers, reputed to include drug traffickers. They take refuge in the company of a fellow western couple who arrive in their shared compartment, Carlos and Abby, who travel throughout the world giving language classes and re-selling handcraft, such as, on this occasion, Russian Matryoshka dolls. Everything is going well until the four decide to get off the train at one stop. The guys go one way and the girls go another. Roy then gets separated from the rest of the group and the train carries on with the other three already back on board ( this is really intense because for awhile we think that something has happened to Roy while out with the shady Carlos). Jessie, by now extremely worried, has no other option but to get off at the next station and wait until Roy comes on the following train. Abby and Carlos offer to wait with her. However, while they wait for him, Carlos tries to take advantage of Jessie and, in trying to defend herself, she ends up accidentally killing him. Terrified, she left the corpse in the snow. She then returns to the station, where Roy has finally arrived. Back together at last, Jessie tries to forget about what has happened. But the nightmare is only just beginning. She soon discovers that Carlos was in fact a drug dealer who was being pursued by corrupt police officers, and they are now chasing her because during one of his little flirtations he places the Russian Matryoshka dolls in with her luggage. By now Agent Grinko has caught on to them after he figures out that Jessie has a hard time keeping her story straight. After being tortured a little bit for information they get away and make their way back to the train, which Roy controls. Unwittingly, Roy and Jessie get caught up in the dark world of smuggling and betrayal. And they know that while the train is in motion, there is no means of escape! Soon all is revealed on this runaway train in the end Roy and Jessie are never truly the same again. I really enjoyed this one with powerful performances from Harrelson, Mortimer, and Kingsley (in his best performance this year), this one keeps you on your toes even after the slow start, but once it gets going it's like a speeding train. This is a definite must see. A smart 4 on my "Go See" scale.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One Mans (Swing) Vote proves Nothing Works

The next movie I will review is "Swing Vote" It sounds implausible and impossible, that a accidental flub-up in the voting booth causes one man's vote to stall the election and coincidentally determine the next U.S. President. But Swing Vote has a great time using that as a platform to tell a really cool tale. Swing Vote isn't necessarily about the likelihood of the above-mentioned phenomenon occurring; it's about bigger things, things like the nature of freedom in America, the right to vote, politicians and their campaigns, and various issues that unite and divide America as a nation. Ernest "Bud" Johnson (Kevin Costner) is a beer-drinking, blue-collar simpleton whose wife left both him and his daughter, Molly, for a Nashville singing career. Molly (Madeline Carroll), a precocious little girl who is passionate about politics and the preservation of her country, and unfortunately for her, Bud couldn't care less, even if he were sober. Molly seems to be the parent in the relationship, taking care of Bud's daily hangovers and prodding him to get up for work. Molly is in constant frustration with her father's apathy toward life and her interests, and is perturbed when she seemingly sets in motion an ironic, history-making turn of events where Bud's vote actually ends up being the deciding factor in the election. This forces the Presidential candidates to campaign only to win Bud's vote. Along the way we are treated to a satirical look at the lengths campaign managers and the candidates will go simply to get a vote. How this plays out is both hilarious and sobering, as well as inspiring and totally enjoyable, thanks to some good storytelling and direction, as well as an excellent cast of talented actors who make this movie shine. President Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and his opponent, Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper) are just two of the movies stars. However, Swing Vote is careful not to play too much on the emotional arguments regarding various issues like abortion, immigration and gay marriage, making the movie all the more charming. There are a few emotionally charged scenes in the movie that give weight to the hilarity throughout, but within the context of the film, the story never speaks in self-righteousness. At one point, Molly makes a simple yet convincing commentary about how much she appreciates her father at a "Bring Your Father to School" Day. Molly's emotional message about her father is a hopeful and heart-wrenching commentary about the beauty and freedom of America, along with the tragic complacency and apathy of its people. And rather than going down the typical Hollywood route and picking a more liberal stance, Swing Vote instead manages to poke fun at everyone on both "sides" of various issues. It carefully gives respect to all Americans, while pointing out absurdities in America's political process. Although the mockery is at times absolutely hilarious, the film's humor never ventures into the vile and mean-spirited. There is purpose behind all the fun, and it is carefully crafted into the story, with the goal of giving a message of hope and focusing on the (hopefully) common goal of compassion, care, peace, and freedom to all people (to all Americans, anyway). I give Swing Vote a 3 and on my avoidance scale I give it a 1, this is a cute family movie that should be enjoyed with kid's of all ages.

One good Vote deserves another

Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner), an apathetic, beer-slinging, lovable loser, is coasting through a life that has passed him by. The one bright spot is his precocious, over-achieving twelve year-old daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll). She takes care of both of them, until one mischievous moment on Election Day, when she accidentally sets off a chain of events which culminates in the election coming down to one vote... her dad's.Bud is a dull-witted man-child, drinking and sleeping through his life, barely making ends meet and failing at his blue-collar job. The audience is presumably supposed to identify with him, and if it were any other actor than the affable Costner that might be an insurmountable obstacle to the success of the film.Costner's Bud finds himself thrust into the national spotlight through a series of unlikely events surrounding the outcome of a fictional presidential election. When Bud's civically responsible daughter tries to cast a vote for him (he's too drunk to make it to the polls), a mishap with an electronic voting machine causes her/his vote to not be counted. Naturally, the election comes down a single state, a single county, a single town and a single vote… his. By law, he is given 10 days to recast his vote, which will ultimately decide who will become the next president of the United States. And he doesn't even know who's running. Soon, the small town of Texico, N.M. is buzzing with political operatives, reporters and activists, all trying to influence Bud's decision. He becomes a one-man target demographic for the candidates -- Republican President Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and Democratic challenger Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper). As they each modify their personalities to appeal to Bud's specific blue-collar tastes (football, NASCAR, Willie Nelson, beer), they also contort their positions to match his vague political stances, often in counter-intuitive ways. Based on Bud's offhand comments to a reporter, the Republican finds himself supporting issues such as the environment and gay marriage, while the Democrat films pro-life and anti-immigration campaign ads addressed directly to Bud.

I liked this movie, but barely, due to Costner´s performance.
Once you get past the far-fetched premise and realize that this film isn't intended to be at all realistic, the message is clear. Writer/director Joshua Michael Stern wants us to see ourselves in Bud. Bud is a screw-up and not that bright. Towards the end of the film, he lays it all out in a speech in which Bud basically admits the he (and thus, we) is the one who let this happen. Finally, it must be said that the hidden gem in this film is the 12-year-old Carroll, who plays Molly. As the responsible member of the Johnson household, she represents the idealized citizen we should all aspire to be. Molly is a tough cookie -- she's had to be, living with a dad as useless as Bud -- but she also has a vulnerable side. And in the scenes when that side comes out, it's heartbreaking. Carroll manages to capture both sides of Molly's personality without ever being too cloying or cute. At times she even outshines Costner, and that's no easy task. A strong 3 on my ¨Go See¨ scale.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Star Wars franchise Keeps Cranking Out Tired Retreads

The next movie is "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" This is a dull fully animated version of the now famous Science Fiction trilogy, new characters are added for the sole purpose of income from toy sales. The plot was too simplistic for a Star Wars film because the whole entire movie is about Anakin and his new padawan, Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) trying to rescue Jabba the Hutt's son. Yoda ( Tom Kane) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) seem as after thoughts they have so few scenes in the movie. The fight scenes definitely pulled the movie up from being utter garbage, but so few scenes worth mentioning here. The Jedi are being blamed for the kidnapping of Jabba's son, so they feel the only way to convince Jabba of their innocence is to find and return the child. This cartoon crawls in spots, the animation looks second tier and the vocals all come out but they don't stand out. Once Skywalker and Ahsoka rescue the child the pair are tasked with returning him to Jabba. This seems far fetched and silly, the movie is garnered to pre teens and young children, I couldn't get into this movie and I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. I give Star Wars The Clone Wars a 2, and on my avoidance scale it gets a 2 as well. Sorry George.

Star Wars adds a new episode....kind of

Warner Bros. Pictures' Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars : The Clone Wars is today's movie of choice....
In a galaxy far, far away on the front lines of an intergalactic struggle between good and evil, fans young and old joined such favorite characters as Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Padme Amidala, along with brand-new heroes like Anakin's padawan learner, Ahsoka. Sinister vilians--led by Palpatine, Count Dooku, and General Grievous--are poised to rule the galaxy. Stakes are high, and the fate of the Star Wars universe rests in the hands of the daring Jedi Knights. Their exploits lead to the action-packed battles and astonishing new revelations.

But this Clone Wars big-screen preview of the new fall TV series is actually better than expected. Action-packed computer animation with long, lean, gaunt characters, it brings familiar characters (Anakin, Obi Wan, Jabba, Count Dooku, Padme, Mace, Yoda) into the middle of the wars that earlier movies and a TV series touched on -- the war between the Clone soldiers of the Republic and the Droid soldiers of the Sith. Jabba the Hutt's slimy little larvae (his son) has been larvae-napped. And since he is the "all wise and powerful Jabba" who controls the trade routes to the outer rim of the galaxy "far far away," both the Jedi and the Sith want to be the ones to rescue the kid. This well-financed rebellion is able to mount major space battles, enlist (or enslave) new star systems and stage planet-by-planet invasions, which the Republic and its Jedi generals fend off one by one. The combat animation here is vivid, and the animation in general is almost lifelike at times. New grace notes to the series? For the first time in memory, the shootouts show soldiers actually running out of electronic laser blast ammo. Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee and Anthony Daniels reprise their roles, as voices. The rest? Impersonators of Ewan McGregor, Frank Oz et al. And some of the dialogue they utter is clunky in the extreme.

"Have her meet with an accident with extreme prejudice." Harrison Ford's insult to Lucas while shooting the first Star Wars movie still applies:

"Who talks like this, man?"

But what kid won't root for Ahsoka Tano, the tube-topped, tight-skirt teen padewan that Anakin must bicker with and train for her days as a Jedi? A solid 3 on my "Go See" scale.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The French Get (Bottle) Shocked

The next movie I will review is called "Bottle Shock" This is a smaller movie released among the summer giants and it can hold it's own. With an incredibly strong cast, the beauty of the California wine country, and a great collection of 70's music to compliment the musical score, Bottle Shock is a pleasure to watch. The movie is based on the true story of how a Napa winery's 1973 Chardonnay won a French tasting contest that sent the wine world into a frenzy. The Barrett Family of Montelena, Jim (Bill Pullman) and his hippie son Bo (Chris Pine) have a small little winery in the hills of sunny California. When Sam (Rachael Taylor) comes to work for the summer at their winery she starts a small conflict between Bo and another field hand, Gustavo Brambila (Freddy Rodríguez) who is secretly developing his own label of wines. Both men fall for her, Bo falls the hardest, the one very negative aspect is that the love plot is totally weird and seems an afterthought, the movie would have been a lot better without it. One day in France, a wine seller fed up with how slow his business is talks a politician into letting him hold a wine tasting. Once he gets the ok, Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) travels to California, because another American business man Maurice (Dennis Farina) had told Steven, he heard that wines from California were the next best thing. Dennis Farina is an amusing and welcome addition because of his scenes with Rickman. Spurrier seems to cause problems where ever he travels once in California. Jim Barrett questions Bo on his every move, and when Bo takes it upon himself to take Spurrier a bottle of their wine, one of the funniest scenes ensues. Once their wine is chosen to participate in the tasting, the towns people come together to ensure that Bo can travel to France. Bo flies to France to represent the Americans. The outcome of the tasting doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who has read George Taber's book, Judgment of Paris. The movie is loosely based on this book, Hollywood has almost perfected this type of movie, although this one isn't great it is good enough to recommend. I give Bottle Shock a 3 and on my avoidance scale I give it a 1.

Bottle Shock gave the french a kick in the teeth!

Freestyle Releasing's Bottle Shock

The birth of California's Napa wine industry, and their triumph over the French at the 1976 Paris Tastings takes place in the comedy-drama Bottle Shock. Based on a true story, Bottle Shock chronicles the events leading up to the famous "Judgement of Paris" tastings, told through the lives of father and son, Jim and Bo Barrett (Bill Pullman and Chris Pine). A former real estate attorney, Jim sacrificed everything to realize his dream of creating the perfect hand-crafted chardonnay. His business however, is struggling, and he's not only trying to overcome differences with his slacker son, but is also fighting off the creditors. Meanwhile in Paris, unwitting British wine shop owner Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) hopes to revive his failing business by sponsoring a competition which will pit the tradiotional French powerhouse against the California upstarts.

"Bottle Shock" begins with floundering expatriate wine seller Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) looking for publicity and a Sonoma winemaker Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) looking for some customers.While Barrett struggles to make the best chardonnay on earth, his patience is being tested by wild-man son Bo (Chris Pine), who's having crises all his own: Their winery's beautiful intern, Sam (Rachael Taylor) is falling for wine prodigy Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez) rather than Bo. The young people are fine, but Pullman is in the midst of proving himself one of America's most versatile actors and Rickman's supercilious Spurrier is hilarious. (So is Dennis Farina, as an American in Paris who hangs around Spurrier's wine shop waiting for free tastings). A winning cast and a magnum's worth of subplots make "Bottle Shock" extremely watchable, perhaps a bit fruity, with grace notes of leather, oak and no ham. A strong 4 on my "Go See" scale.

English Nobilty? Not At Brideshead

The next movie I will review is "Brideshead Revisited" The movie brings in a strong homosexual element between Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode) and Sebastian Flyte (BenWhishaw), the two meet at school and become quick friends, the lust coming from Sebastian for Charles is palpable, and leaves you wondering if the story will delve that deep. There is an early sexual attraction between Charles Ryder and Miss Flyte (Hayley Atwell) With that everything becomes unbalanced. Motivations change and friends become outcasts.The movie is typical English fair, its long, stylish and seamy. When Sebastian takes Charles into his friendship, you can almost see the wheels spinning in young Charle's head, what can he get out of this?, how far will he have to go to achieve it?, and is he willing to do it? Sebastian is so overtaken by Charles that he quickly brings him to his home, Brideshead Manor. The two men start to spend long days together, getting closer and closer, when Charles goes home, after the school semester, Sebastian sends him a letter telling of an accident he was in, Charles goes running back to Brideshead, where he is picked up at the train station by Julia Flyte. Julia tells Charles that Sebastians "accident" wasn't serious at all, but that he did break a bone in his foot "so small it doesn't have a name". Charles spends several days at Brideshead with the Flyteclan, that when their mother, Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson) arrives, she invites him to stay for dinner. Here is where the Catholic awareness of the family becomes overly evident, so much so it almost takes on it's own character. Charles accompanies the two young Flytechildren to Venice, so that the children can be with their father, Lord Marchmain (MichaelGambon), it is here that Charles lets his emotions run away, he follows Julia and is seen kissing her. Sebastian delves deeper into his one other obsession at this point. Charles does try on several attempts to get close with Sebastian again after Venice, but it is never the same, Julia marries a wealthy American Rex Mottram (Jonathan Cake) Charles becomes a famous painter and he bargains with Rex for Julia's hand. The two run off but return to Brideshead for the death of their matriarch.The movie does transpose a very complicated emotional and intellectual book into one that does work, it is good enough that one doesn't feel cheated, most of the stories arcs are dealt with, and the conclusion does seem to be apt. I give Brideshead Revisited a 3 and on my avoidance scale I give it a 1.

Visit Brideshead, you'll be amazed

Click Image to Enlarge

Next up on the list to be reviewed is the limited released Brideshead Revisited. This adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's classic novel, focuses on the doomed love affair between Charles and Julia Flyte and how Catholicism destroys their relationship and their families.

A provocative and suspenseful drama, it tells an evocative story of forbidden love and the loss of innocence set in the pre-WWII era. In the film, Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode) becomes entranced with the noble Marchmain family, first through the charming and provocative Sebastian (Ben Whishaw), and then his sophisticated sister, Julia (Hayley Atwell). The very protective mother, Lady Marchmain is played by Emma Thompson. The rise and fall of Charles' infatuations reflect the decline of a decadent era in England between the wars. I wasn't too sure if i would like this one honestly, but the story was very intriguing. The relationship between Charles and Sebastian was not in the least surprising, but the addition of Julia to the equation put a stop to whatever love affair that could have transpired. Charles and Julia quickly far for one another, but alas Julia is set to marry another. The ups and downs of these love affairs is quite compelling and it turned out better than I thought it would. It did have one fault. I did feel that it was a tad too long. With that one problem, this is still one to see. A 4 on my "Go See" scale.

All aboard Pineapple Express!!

Seth Rogen and James Franco star in Columbia Pictures' Pineapple Express

Recently, I took a ride on the Pineapple Express. And I enjoyed it! Lazy court-process clerk stoner Dale Denton has only one reason to visit dealer Saul Silver: to purchase weed, where he finds out about a new rare strain called Pineapple Express. But when Dale becomes the only witness to a murder by a crooked cop and the citys most dangerous drug lord, he panics and dumps his roach of Pinapple Express at the scene. Dale now has another reason to visit Saul: to find out if the weed is so rare that it can be traced back to him--and it is. As Dale and Saul run for there lives, they quickly discover that they're not sufferinig from weed-feuled paranoia: incredibly, the bad guys really are hot on their trail and trying to figure out the fastest way to kill them.

Don't be afraid to see this. Yes, it's a stoner movie, but you DON'T have to be stoned to enjoy it. I'm not a stoner, but Rogen and Franco made me want to be one. Seth Rogen plays Dale Denton, a process clerk who loves to get high to get through the day, while James Franco takes this chance to play a comedic role as Saul Silver, Dale's weed man. Danny McBride makes another classic return to play Red, the buddy that has a problem with his conscience. Kevin Corrigan and Craig Robinson are the hitmen Budlofsky and Matheson sent to dispose of Dale and Saul. Gary Cole is big druglord and Rosie Perez makes a return to movies as Carol, Cole's corrupt cop/lover. All of these put together make Pineapple Express worthwhile. I wasn't too sure if Franco could pull off the stoner role, but he did and did it exceptionally well. Thumbs up to actors stepping outside of their comfort zones. You'll laugh at the antics of Dale and Saul and cheer with delight at the seemingly unstoppable Red. Stoners will stare in awe at the warehouse full of weed and then cry like babies when it's all burned down. Then watch how a stoner and a weed man become BFFF's (Best Fuckin' Friends Forever) A laugh riot 100%. Definitely go and see this. A hearty 4 on my "Go See" scale.

This Mummy should have stayed buried

Recently my partner and I went to see The Mummy : Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
The "Mummy" franchise takes a crazy turn as the action shifts to Asia for the next chapter in the adventure series. Brendan Fraser returns as explorer Rick O'Connell to combat the resurrected Han Emperor (Jet Li) in an epic that races from the catacombs of ancient China high into the frigid Himalayas. Rick joined by his wife Evelyn (this time played poorly by Maria Bello) , now grown son Alex (Luke Ford) and brother-in-law, Jonathan (John Hannah). And this time , the O'Connells must stop a mummy awoken from a 2,000 year old curse who threatens to plunge the world into his merciless, unending service.

When I went in, I had high hopes for this movie. 1) I loved the first 2 "Mummy" movies, 2) Jet Li, and I LOVE Jet Li and 3) a new mummy. But my hopes were quickly smached to bits when I sat through this movie. it just wasn't worth it. First of all Rachel Weisz doesn't return to play the wife, which after seeing the movie I can see why. Next, Jet Li. Cool guy, I love his work, but i just didn't care for him in this one. Although, I did like that every time he got really upset his face would crumble. And, what was the deal with the son now being grown? The only good things about the movie were Michelle Yeoh, who plays a great sorceress and the best scene of the movie with the Yetis. Yes, i said yetis, in a very cool scene when the sorceress Zi Juan (Yeoh) calls upon the yetis for help when battling the Emporer. Other than those highlights, this was straight pointless. If you liked the first two as i did, you will be very disappointed. Avoid this one at all costs. A 2 on my "Go See" scale and that being generous.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Elegy just wasn't worth it


Next on the list for review is Elegy. Based on the novel "The Dying Animal" by Philip Roth, Ben Kingsley plays charismatic professor David Kepesh who glories in the pursuit of adventurous female students but never lets any woman get too close... until he meets Consuela. Penelope Cruz plays Consuela Castillo who gets Kepesh to drop his protecyive veneer with her raven-haired beauty. She captivates and unsettles him. When these two connect on a romantic level they click like none other before and then things go downhill. They break up and then reconnect again two years later when tragedy strikes. 

 Going in, I truly thought that I would like this movie 'cause trailers never lie, right? Well I was deceived this time. The story was just ok for me, but it seemed to drag along. It felt longer than it actually was, which is quite disappointing. I like Ben Kingsley and I even like Penelope Cruz (somewhat), but this one tired me out. It just went on and on with no real resolution. I couldn't really feel for the characters. I was really saddened after this movie. Not because of the story, but because I felt like I wasted my time. I'm not gonna go into great detail because I don't want to bore you, so I'll just leave it at that. A strong 2 on my "Go See" scale.


Stiller's Thunder Is Funny As Hell

The next movie I will review is "Tropic Thunder" This movie is as funny as the previews make it seem, I laughed from the opening credits until the very end. Despite my somewhat indifference, bordering on dislike, of Ben Stiller and most of what he does, Tropic Thunder has been on my much-anticipated list for some time now. The audacity of what he was attempting, spoofing the industry that was giving him the money to do so, blatantly and lovingly, was too great to ignore. And then there is the cast of stars with cameo after cameo of surprise faces joining in on the fun, but when you get down to it, the entertainment value is off the charts, the one-liners are going to be quoted for years to come, and the laughs come often and hard. Something about movies within movies intrigue the heck out of me, and this one having actors within actors just played up my interest more. There was truly no better way to start this movie then how was done: the playing of Alpa Chino's rap music, a consumerism selling commercial and trailers for our three leads' previous films. The first trailer shows action star Tugg Speedman's (Ben Stiller) latest film, 'Scorcher VI: Global Meltdown', a film so repetitive of it's five predecessors that even the trailer narrator sounds shaky about it. Another trailer features funnyman Jeff "Fatty" Portnoy (Jack Black), playing the entirety of "America's favorite obese family" in the highly flautlent 'The Fatties: Fart 2'. The final trailer, entitled 'Satan's Alley', features Australian "five-time Oscar winner" Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) and Tobey Maguire as two monks who begin an empassioned affair. What better way to be introduced to our action star, our funnyman, and our award winning thespian? Knowing full well the extent of satire going on, each spot delivers, giving a little background into the work these men have done in the past. Directly connecting with the subsequent shot, a live scene from the film at hand, the egos finally come out and show face. Jack Black's Jeff Portney reins in his comedian schtick to portray a hardened solider, voice rasping as he shows his serious side; Stiller's Tugg Speedman attempts to revive the action cred he tried to leave behind with his Oscar-bait turn as a mentally handicapped man in Simple Jack, where he went "full retarded, no one ever comes back from that"; and Robert Downey Jr.'s Kirk Lazarus, Australian genius at his craft, playing a black man like he was born one. The scenes continues without a hitch, explosions everywhere, screams heard in the distance, and a heartfelt death about to be delivered, until the men show their true colors. Tugg can't make himself cry, (he's just not that good), and Kirk's blubbering and drooling is just so real that the two must partake in a pissing match, while effects guru Cody, (Danny McBride), let's loose the one-take only scorched earth fire storm. It's all falling apart when the script-writer/former soldier Four Leaf, (Nick Nolte), gets the director, (Steve Coogan) with one of the best film exits I've ever seen, to agree on guerrilla filming, deep in the jungle of foreign lands. Speedman, Lazarus, Chino, Portnoy and Sandusky are dropped off with Cockburn in the middle of the jungle who sternly explains that he's going to use hidden cameras to capture real fear as they survive the real jungle. The actors are only given a map and a scene listing to guide them to the helicopter waiting at the end of the jungle. Here is where the fun begins and where the movie inside the movie becomes real, or, in effect, the actual movie—kind of like "the dude playing the dude, disguised as another dude". Unbeknownst to the actors, they were dropped in the middle of the Golden Triangle, the home of the heroin-producing Flaming Dragon gang. The Dragons believe the actors to be DEA agents and are put off to see Speedman, trying to convince the others that Cockburn's exit is a trick, Believing the Dragons to be actors playing Vietcong, the actors engage them in a gunfight (though the actors only have blank rounds). Tayback and Cody, waiting on a nearby ridge are unaware of the real dangers below, blow a large explosive that causes the Dragons to retreat. After the "fight scene", the actors continue into the jungle to continue the "shoot". As the actors continue their rigorous trek through the jungle, it is revealed that Portnoy is a heroin addict, a drug which he disguises from the others as candy. Speedman's sanity seems to be slipping as he continues to act scenes from the film and even, much to his own distress, kills a Giant Panda one night. Speedman is soon captured by the Dragons and taken back to their camp. When he is tormented by the gang's prepubescent leader, Speedman stutters and is soon recognized as the star of 'Simple Jack'. This turns out to be the only film the Dragons have seen and they are in awe. They force Speedman to perform the film many times a day. Speedman even gets a young hanger-on, a "son" of sorts. The Dragons call Peck, Speedman's agent, and explain that they are holding Speedman ransom. Peck brings this to Les Grossman, who rabidly curses at the Dragon on the other end of the line. He later tells Peck that they can benefit more by collecting the insurance claim on Speedman's death, offering the torn agent a share of the profits. Meanwhile, among the actors, tension grows between Lazarus and Chino. Portnoy has begun to hallucinate due to his withdrawal, and has to be tied to a water buffalo and then, at his own insistance, a concrete column. Soon, Portnoy is pleading with others to untie him. During a conversation about women "back home", Sandusky expresses envy of Lazarus having dated Jennifer Love Hewitt. In the course of the conversation, Chino is revealed to be a closet homosexual, he is in love with someone named "Lance". They soon stumble upon the Flaming Dragon's heroin factory. After seeing Speedman being tortured, they plan an ambush based on the film's plot line, Lazarus impersonates a farmer who has caught Portnoy, again tied to his water buffalo, on his farm, distracting the armed guards as Chino and Sandusky sneak into the building the captives are held in. After the gang notices inconsistencies in Lazarus' story, the actors open fire on the gang, temporarily subduing them despite being armed with only special effects blanks. Portnoy kidnaps the gang's child leader from the fray in order to be led to the drugs. After barely defeating the young crime lord in combat, he finds an enormous mound of heroin; however, reflecting upon his failing low-brow movie career, he rejects the heroin and uses it instead to knock out two guards. Tayback and Cody join the fighting, using Cody's flamethrower and explosives against the Dragons. However, Portnoy, Chino, and Lazarus find Speedman brainwashed. After he's been performing to an approving crowd several times a day, he now believes he is home. Before they can snap him out of it, Lazarus breaks down, revealing his similar inner-struggle with his own identity. With Chino and Sandusky's help, Lazarus drops the Sgt. Osiris character, in both make-up and accent, and becomes his Australian self. However, even Sandusky's inspiring words cannot break Speedman's trance and they have to drag him away as they attempt to escape in Cody and Tayback's recaptured helicopter. The Dragons quickly regroup, chasing the actors across a bridge which is rigged to detonate by Cody. Speedman asks to remain behind with his "family", but quickly returns with his "son" stabbing him in the neck and the murderous Dragons in pursuit. Tayback detonates the bridge just in time for Speedman to get across. Lazarus goes to rescue Speedman from the rubble. They swear each other's friendship and Speedman is finally able to cry. The levels at play here are just too many to mention. Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) shines as the only non-celebrity involved, the guy who went to boot camp, read the novel and the script, and idolizes the men he is working with, the back and forth between Downey Jr. and Brandon T. Jackson's Alpa never gets old. The whole dynamic of real black man versus fake was unceasingly funny. Downey Jr stole every scene that he was in, but what really was an absolutely brilliant cameo was Tom Cruise. His studio executive, was pompously crass, loud-mouth and arrogant. A documentary of the botched production is made from the hidden camera footage, and results in a multiple Academy Award-winning blockbuster film. The film breaks Speedman's streak of flops and he wins the award for Best Actor, presented by his friend Lazarus. Along with Portnoy, Sandusky is present with Jennifer Love Hewitt on his arm and Chino is present with his Lance. I give Tropic Thunder a 4 and on my avoidance scale a huge 0. GO see this movie.

This Thunder had me rolling in the aisles!

I recently went the pre-screening of Tropic Thunder, which is set to be released on Aug 13th. In the action-comedy "Tropic Thunder," Ben Stiller plays pampered action superstar Tugg Speedman, who is cast in the biggest, most expensive war movie ever produced. He sets out to Southeast Asia with a "Who's Who" of celebrity co-stars. They include Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), an intense, three-time Oscar winning actor; Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), star of the popular gross-out comedy franchise "The Fatties"; multi-platinum hip-hop-star-turned-entrepreneur-turned-actor Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson); and first-timer Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel). Soon after the production begins the actors are thrown into a real-life situation and are forced to become the fighting unit they're portraying, in order to find a way out of the jungle in one piece.

  The movie was HILARIOUS!! It starts with the laughs and keeps them coming. First with teaser trailers featuring the movies stars. First up is Alpa Chino's commercial for his energy drink (Booty Sweat) and candy bar (Busta Nut). Next are the three trailers starring Tugg Speedman, Kirk Lazarus, and Jeff Portnoy. If you're not laughing hard after these, something's wrong with you. Now to the movie, Speedman is a pampered movie star and after his latest box office flop, he hopes that "Tropic Thunder" puts him back on top. Lazarus is a Australian 3 time Oscar winner who is known for immersing himself fully into every character that he plays. Portnoy is the comedian who uses this movie as his chance to do something dramatic. Alpa Chino is the Hip-Hop star who decides to try out his acting chops. While Sandusky is the newcomer of the bunch. Each actor seems to bump heads on set and causes the film to go way off schedule. The director (Steve Coogan) decides to take the rowdy actors on a journey that they will never forget to get the movie finished.  Once in the jungle things turn all too real when they come across a massive drug ring. It then turns into a rescue mission with hilarious results. 

I LOVED this movie. The biggest surprise was Robert Downey Jr. as the "dude playing another dude..." in the most talked about and controversial role ever. His character goes through a skin augmentation procedure to play the platoons African American Sergeant. Downey's role is the most hilarious thing that I've seen in years. You simply won't find this many laughs in any other movie this year. I guarantee it!  Another surprise comes from Tom Cruise who is almost unrecognizable as the stocky, hairy studio executive. I don't want to give too much of the movie away, but it'll have you laughing. Ben Stiller struck gold with this one. A great script and a hilarious cast created a movie full of surprises. Definitely see this movie and laugh your ass off. A definite 5 on my "Go See" scale.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Let's Put A Smile On That Face!!

The Dark Knight 07 by Nick Slide.

We have finally made it back folks, and for our first review it will be this summer's (and most likely this year's) biggest blockbuster The Dark Knight. Well into it's fourth week in theatres, Batman does not seem like he'll be slowing down anytime soon. Already making $395 million dollars at the Box Office, it's looking to be the biggest money maker this year and here's why...

Christian Bale returns for this brilliantly done sequel to "Batman Begins" as billionaire Bruce Wayne dresses up at night to fight crime as the Caped Crusader, Batman. It's been a year since this first movie and quite a few things have changed. This time with the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and the new District Attorney Harvey Dent ( Played by Gary Oldman & Aaron Eckhart respectively), Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham City for good. This proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known only as The Joker (Played flawlessly by the late Heath Ledger), who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces the Dark Knight ever closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.

Christopher Nolan proved that sequels can actually surpass the original. Nolan took this one up a notch by putting together a great script and bringing in the actors to pull it off, namely Heath Ledger. If he doesn't get SOME kind of an award for his performance as the Joker I'd be very upset. He dove head first into this role and pulled no punches. He actually made me believe that someone could truly be this crazy. In all seriousness, this second trip to Gotham is a bit darker, but it's to be expected. Filmed partly in the great city of Chicago (yes, my home, sweet home), I found myself wondering if I were already living in Gotham City. I can walk around the Loop and go "that's where the Joker tried to kill Harvey Dent!" The sites were so beautiful that it makes me want to go out at night hoping to run into Batman.

Seen best at an IMAX Theatre, you can get the full experience of Gotham City, where we meet the new D.A. Harvey Dent. The city's white night, the other side of the coin (?) opposite the Dark Knight. He steps up to do what Batman couldn't. He takes down the biggest mob ring in history. Which ultimately puts a price on his head and gets him kidnapped by the new guy in town, the Joker. Painted up like a clown, his scarred face has a permanent smile on it. He's happy spreading anarchy and he wants everyone to know it (especially Batman). He robs mob bosses, blows up a hospital and takes two boat loads of Gothamites hostage in hopes that one will blow up the other simply for the fun of it. He enjoys finding out what the Dark Knight will do. And so did I. We later on get a new villain after Dent loses Rachel Dawes, the girl of his dreams (and half of his face in the process). With a little push from the Joker, Dent becomes the hideous looking Two Face. He then proceeds to kidnap Jim Gordon's (now the new Commissioner) family to seek justice, only to be stopped by who else but Batman.

This movie is so much fun that I've already seen it 4 times. Ledger's one liners alone keep me coming back. This movie is a treat for all Batman fans (and Joker fans alike). You will not see another superhero movie done this good for awhile.... at least until the Batman movie is released. Go and see this movie. I highly recommend it. This gets a solid 5 on my "Go See" scale. Go see it, see it again, then get the DVD when it's released.