A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Movie Reviews

I don't get to very many first-release films these days-- two kids and various other obligations usually makes it difficult to impossible. Plus, movies are expensive. So, most of the films I see are on DVD or just regular old TV. Consequently, only one of these movie reviews is for a current film. Such is life.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

Very well done. I remember the book only vaguely, since the last time I read it was probably back in 3rd or 4th grade, so my expectations of its accuracy relative to the book were very minimal to non-existent. The cast was great-- particularly Edmund (Skandar Pevensie), the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) and Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy)-- and the CGI imagery was excellent without intruding into the story. The beauty of converting the Narnia stories to film, as contrasted with the Lord of the Rings, is that each volume is short (less than 200 pages) by today's standards. I was a little concerned that the battle scenes would be too intense for my 5-year-old son, but they did a good job of making the battles effective and intense without being gory or overy violent. I would strongly recommend the film.

The Mask of Zorro (1998)

All that an action/adventure movie should be. A solid, smartly written script, great believeable action, and an excellent cast. Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins are superb, Catherine Zeta Jones quite good (and very lovely) and Stuart Wilson also quite good as the evil, yet cultured, bad guy, Don Rafael. The combination of two incredibly charismatic actors in Hopkins and Banderas could have been a recipe for trouble, but the two play off each other nicely, and there is sufficient self-depreciating humor in the script to keep things fun. All recent action/adventure films that rely on massive chases and/or huge explosions should take note of this movie-- which has explosions and sword fights galore, but does not rely on them. Rather, the action complements the character interaction and, here's a bizarre concept, the plot. Highly recommended.

Vanilla Sky (2001)
A mess with your mind movie that keeps tweaking Tom Cruise's reality throughout the film until the conclusion where all is explained. Cruise is good, Penelope Cruz is very good, and Jason Lee is terrific as Cruise's best, pretty much only, friend. It took me nearly the whole film to figure out that he was Earl from My Name is Earl. Kurt Russel was a little off, to me, as the psychaitrist/father figure personage, and Cameron Diaz was just spooky as Cruise's girlfriend. I guess Diaz is supposed to be spooky, so maybe it was good acting, but I have to say that it seemed more like art reflecting life. Diaz is just... creepy these days. Anyway, the cinematography is appealing--, but the whole "what the hey is actually going on here" hook got old about half-way through the film. See it if you have some time to kill, but don't spend money renting it, or let it keep you from anything interesting or important.
You need to see King Kong in the theaters.
Sure-- LotR is good on the small screen, but can't hold a candle to seeing it in the theater. I doubt it will happen, though.
No I don't think you understand. :)

You NEED to see King Kong in the theaters. Go. Now.
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