Category Archives: Movies

MOVIE REVIEW: X-Files: I Want to Believe this is a Good Movie. Michelle’s take.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe
The X-Files: I Want to Believe

I’m not sure how to describe the type of X-Files fan that I am. The first episode that I remember watching was Anasazi and being blown away. After that I was completely hooked on the show. But the only episodes that I really loved were the Myth episodes. They added depth to Mulder and Scully and a lot happened in those eps. Then after everything that happens, I’d have to slog through 4 or 5 weeks worth of Monster of the Week episodes that sucked the life out of the series. They always felt out of context and there was always this elephant in the room that they wouldn’t acknowledge.  This movie feels exactly like that. Ten years too late, out of season (this is a Winter film, not summer) and sort of perfunctory.

There’s a reason Writer/Director/Creator Chris Carter kept such tight wraps on the story and thus hampered the marketing campaign.  The story is trite, it contains none of the surprises or thrills that the secrecy would lead you to believe are there. The story is actually pretty mundane.

When we last left our heroes Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) were on the run from the Government after Mulder was framed and convicted of murdering a federal Agent.  Six years later, they are still wanted – but not. It appears the FBI just stopped caring. Scully has finally become a Doctor and Mulder is a recluse. When an agent goes missing the Agent In Charge, ASAC Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) offers Scully and Mulder complete amnesty if Mulder helps. This entire beginning is typical MOTW crap.

After everything that happened at the end of the series, we’re supposed to buy that the government just stopped caring. They are wanted criminals, but aren’t exactly hiding. And the govt. does nothing? This film would have worked better if they were hiding and the FBI had to really work to track them down because this case was vital to the country or FBI.  Or deeply personal to a major official, like the kidnapping of The President’s daughter. While tragic and difficult, this case seems too small to warrant bringing Mulder in and forgiving him his past sins. Not just showing up at Scully’s job one day and asking “Do you know how to get in touch with Mulder?” Remember; when we last saw them they gave up EVERYTHING to go on the run.

The movie looks and feels like a cheaply produced episode – not even movie of the week quality. And that’s a shame because one of the things that separated X-Files from any other television show was its high quality production values and unique visual style. Sure they only had $30 million to work with, but they had far better results on TV with far less. This movie showcases almost none of that.  If this were any other movie other than a X-Files film, I would have hated it – or maybe I would have liked it more.  But its saving grace is, that, while, muted, it still feels like the X-Files.

Mulder and Scully still hold your attention, all the little moments that you love from the TV show are there, like the music, Mulder dropping his phone, Scully’s long suffering sigh and her looks that say “You can’t possibly be serious.”  Scully is still one of the most kick ass characters in TV history.  There’s not enough of Mulder’s dry wit.  I sincerely hope this weak installment doesn’t prevent them from giving fans an X-Files film that we deserve. One that wraps up the entire show in a slam bang fashion.

Final Grade C+

EM Review
By Michelle Alexandria
Originally posted

MOVIE REVIEW: The X-Files: I Wanted To Believe!

As an X-Phile who sat through every single episode of the The X-Files [yup, all nine seasons and the first movie], I have to say that it was disheartening to see a mere eighteen people in the theater for the first matinee of The X-Files: I Want To Believe. What was even more disheartening was watching the film unfold to pretty much stony silence from the assembled [I’d hardly call it a crowd].

You don’t need to have watched the television program to understand what’s going on in I Want to Believe, but it certainly helps when it comes to some of the inside jokes and character moments. Even a non-X-Phile can follow the plot – which revolves around a specific urban legend – and the relationship between former FBI agents Fox Mulder [David Duchovny] and Dr. Dana Scully [Gillian Anderson] is apparent even to the uninitiated [though some of their exchanges might not have the same impact for those new to the X-Files experience].

Mulder and Scully

Duchovny and Anderson slip back into their roles so well, it’s like they’ve always been there and there are pleasantly surprising performances from newcomers to the X-Files, Xzibit [as a sceptical FBI Agent who seems like a Skinner-in-training, but without the people skills] and Billy Connolly as a psychic pedophile ex-priest. Amanda Peet, as Agent-in-Charge Dakota Whitney, is merely adequate. Callum Keith Rennie, as the primary villain, brings a suitable menace to his performance.

Unfortunately, the plot is pretty average – to the point where the B-plot [Scully’s efforts to save the life of a boy with a deadly brain disease] is actually more involving. On the plus side, series creator Chris Carter – who co-wrote the script with Frank Spotnitz – does a good job of creating the murky, atmospheric feel that made the series unique to the proceedings. That compensates for many of the film’s flaws.

The X-Files: I Want To Believe is an adequate way to kill a couple of hours, but it’s not likely to spawn the kind of fervent glee that the best episodes of the series generated. I fear this will be the last new X-Files adventure/investigation. Pity… [Please note, stay through the credits and you’ll see a glimpse of Mulder and Scully that is particularly memorable for Scully fans – two words: black bikini.]

Final Grade: C+

Movie News: MGM Brings RoboCop ‘Back On Line’ for New Movie

Alex Murphy/RoboCop
Alex Murphy/RoboCop

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM) has signed Darren Aronofsky to direct and David Self to write a new installment for its ROBOCOP franchise. Aronofsky, the director of The Fountain, and Self, the writer of Road to Perdition, make a formidable creative team, fast tracking the ROBOCOP motion picture and spotlighting it as one of the most anticipated new films for 2010.

“Darren is undeniably one of the most talented, original and visceral film makers, and David is one of the greatest writers in Hollywood. All of us at MGM couldn’t be more excited,” said Mary Parent Mary Parent, Chairman, Worldwide Motion Picture Group, MGM in statement made to the press to announce this new movie venture for MGM.

The original ROBOCOP, which premiered in 1987 and starred Peter Weller as officer Alex Murphy, was “part man, part machine and all cop.” The film’s storyline focused on the future of law enforcement as a terminally wounded cop Murphy returns to the police force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories. The original film was nominated for two Academy Awards – Best Film Editing and Best Sound. Since the film’s debut, ROBOCOP has become one of the most successful titles in MGM’s vast film library. The franchise continues as a worldwide phenomenon, especially in the U.S., Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom. ROBOCOP, ROBOCOP 2, and ROBOCOP 3 have sold approximately 4.1 million gross DVD units worldwide.

Also on board for this exciting new development project is Phoenix Pictures’ Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer, Brad Fischer and David Thwaites will produce ROBOCOP. Cale Boyter, Executive Vice President Production at MGM will oversee the project for the studio. “After making the first ROBOCOP at Orion more than 20 years ago, I’m thrilled to be helping to return this character to the screen with our partners at MGM and through the eyes of Darren Aronofsky and David Self,” Medavoy stated with enthusiasm over being able to bring RoboCop ‘back on line’ for a new movie.

Phoenix co-presidents Brad Fischer and David Thwaites added: “With a filmmaker of Darren Aronofsky’s vision and imagination and a writer of David Self’s caliber, we are poised to bring to the screen an entertaining and provocative film, which will now be under the creative guidance of two of the best storytellers working in our industry today.”

MOVIE NEWS: Profiles In History To Hold Superhero Costume and Prop Auction

Copyright1977 Lucas Film Ltd.
Copyright1977 Lucas Film Ltd.

On July 31 & August 1, 2008 Profiles In History is going to be holding the ultimate Superhero costume and prop auction featuring the largest collection of film and TV superheroes including Superman, X-Men, Spider-man, and Jurassic Park dinosaurs created by Stan Winston Studio to highlight Three Million Dollar sale of Hollywood Memorabilia.

Founded in 1985 by Joseph Maddalena, Profiles in History is the nation’s leading dealer in guaranteed-authentic original historical autographs, letters, documents, vintage signed photographs and manuscripts. Profiles in History is located in Calabasas Hills, CA- virtually a stone’s throw away from every major Hollywood studio – which ensures a constant flow of fantastic and rare collectibles. With an extensive network of dealers, collectors, and institutions, they are proud to play an important role in the preservation of motion picture history.  Continue reading MOVIE NEWS: Profiles In History To Hold Superhero Costume and Prop Auction

MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Knight is as Brilliant as Everyone Says. Michelle’s Late Review

darkknight9 

In a conversation with Sheldon a few days ago he said he was having trouble writing a review of The Dark Knight because he thought he was going to descend into the depths of hyperbole to the 10th degree. I told him if he thought the movie was that good then go for it. Show no shame, be proud that you fell into the hype machine and sold your soul to the greatness that is The Dark Knight. I wanted to be the one critic who loathed this movie, I really did. In the "blogosphere," you gotta be different. I went into this film with such high expectations that I thought it would be impossible for it to meet them, then I could come home and completely trash this. But you know what? Christopher Nolan has crafted a masterpiece. It certainly has some flaw, but they are fanboish (in my case fangirlish) quibbles. My complaint about Iron-Man earlier this summer was that while it was an amazing adaptation, it missed one important ingredient. Heart.  The Dark Knight has it all, it’s big, complex, dark, brutal, but it leaves you with both a sense of hope and hopelessness at the same time. It plays on all your conflicting emotions throughout the film.

Heath Ledger’s Joker is what everyone says it is, it’s a brilliant performance. But then he had amazing material to work with. What’s so great about this Joker is, he’s crazy, vile, and evil with a capital E. Jack’s Joker, from Tim Burton’s Batman, while dark, still had a lot of "humanity" in him so you could understand his motivations better. This Joker, there’s no understanding him. There’s no cutesy background information on him, we know nothing about what makes him tick or his even whether the makeup on his face follows canon or if it’s just "war paint."  There is a shot of the Joker without his make-up on when Gordon gets shot, but it’s really quick so if blink you’ll miss it. The Joker is just out for Chaos, which the Crime Families who hire him to take out Batman find out too late. They unleashed an uncontrollable monster onto the city. Alfred (Michael Caine) tells Bruce a story where the point is some men just can’t be reasoned with, all they want to do is watch stuff burn.

The heart of the movie is crusading D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). A man who, on the surface, has it all. Looks, a beautiful girlfriend, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and on the fast track to bigger and better things in politics. Dent is what everyone in the City strives to be, we all want to be better, not be scared of the night. Batman is the Yin to Dent’s yang. Batman. Dent puts a public face to everything that Batman does at night. Only he can’t bring true hope to a desperate city.  Everyone in this film gives a great performance and all have at least one great scene. With the exception of M.G., usually I like her but here she felt weightless and had absolutely no presence on camera. She seemed lost most of the time. And Rachel’s role in this one has been beefed up. I think Katie Holmes got a bad rap in Batman Begins. I would much prefer her to MG. She would have brought the film to a screeching halt if the writing by Jonathan Nolan (screenplay) and Christopher Nolan (screenplay) wasn’t so good. The script for this film is brilliant. Any future writer should study this script.

Certain key scenes towards the end were so perfectly setup by everything that came before it. In any other movie you never would believe that you would get anything other than a happy, ra ra finish to The Joker’s twisted game. Like in Spiderman when the goofy New Yorkers start cheering and throwing rocks at the Green Goblin. No way would that happen here. The Joker gets away with just about everything so why not one of his final attempts to push people over the edge? The other thing about the Joker is, he’s insane, but he’s scary smart. 8 out of 10 times his plans do work and that’s Frightening as hell. But of course it’s the Joker so it’s almost a given that the people would end up destroying themselves. I’m trying my best here not to give spoilers. When you see the movie you’ll understand this paragraph.

While I loved Iron Man, I thought it lacked one key ingredient and that’s heart, a soul. Technically it was brilliant but ultimately felt hollow. The Dark Knight has soul to spare there are several heartbreaking moments in the film. Especially the end sequence between Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Batman (Christian Bale). One of the best closing monologues – or would this be called a "duelogue?" In years. If that moment doesn’t punch you in the gut nothing will. But then the entire 3rd act is absolutely brilliant. I didn’t like where they ultimately took the Dent character. Felt it was too soon, kind of tacked on, rushed and didn’t make any logical sense, but they set it up earlier in the film that Dent was already being ruled by the toss of a coin, so in that respect, yeah you can buy the turn he eventually takes – I’m not talking just about his becoming two-face but his deal with the Joker as well.

Another key point in this film is how the City of Chicago was transformed into Gotham City. Or maybe Gotham became a real, live breathing place in the form of Chicago. Never has Chicago looked more beautiful, vibrant, and dangerous all at the same time. Shooting in real locations added a since of hyper realism to the entire thing. It’s amazing that I’ve done this entire review without mentioning Bale who of course has truly immersed himself in this role. Many people will say this film is about the villains, but I maintain this movie is about Batman’s Journey (where Begins was about Bruce Wayne) to the Dark side and how far the Joker can push him and everyone in Gotham City. While I said the screenplay for this is brilliant, it is an almost Watered down (not much) variation on the legendary Alan Moore story "The Killing Joke."

This truly is the year of the Super Hero movie and Hollywood finally has the formula down where 8 out of 10 times they get the genre right. And hey how about that Watchman Trailer? My other complaint is Director Christopher Nolan does not know how to direct a decent action sequence. The end of Batman Begins has one of the crappiest action endings – ever, but you forgive it because everything else was so amazing. And some of the bigger action pieces in The Dark Knight are poorly shot, but because everything else is so over the top great, you forgive it. And each action scene actually means more than the slam bang, thank you ma’am.

Nolan and company did such an incredible job with this and tied up all the loose ends so well, that it’s hard to fathom what they could do and where they could go with a 3rd film. I sincerely hope there isn’t another Batman film. This is as close to perfection as you can get.  This is really shaping up to be the best crop of summer movies in years.

Final Grade A+

EM Review by
Michelle Alexandria

Originally Posted 7.21.08

BOX OFFICE NEWS: The Dark Knight and Audiences Gets The Joke!

The Dark Knight

You’ve been reading about it all day, now comes the official press release from Warner on The Dark Knight’s amazing box office performance to the tune of 158 million smackers. There’s some chest beating going on in Burbank this week and I’m sure quite a few bonus checks and cars going around in the next few weeks. Usually I don’t care if a film does boffo box office numbers, but in this case since we did the promo for it I like to take a little credit. Not to mention it’s a kick ass movie. Not like when Pirates 2 was smashing records and screaming at anyone who would listen that "It’s not a good movie! What’s wrong with you people."  This time you guys are all right. Here’s the official fist pounding. Or as Faux News calls it Terrorist Fist Bumping. But with Hollywood’s creative accounting, I’m sure somehow WB lost their shirt on this and Christopher Nolan owes them.

Continue reading BOX OFFICE NEWS: The Dark Knight and Audiences Gets The Joke!

MOVIE NEWS: HollyShorts Unveils Lineup for 2008 Film Festival

The 4th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival (HSFF) will kick off it’s 2008 four day short film gala on Thursday, August 7, 2008 with a marquee opening night celebration featuring a number of high profile short film projects. The opening night event, which takes place at the Egyptian Theatre in conjunction with the American Cinematheque, will feature director Bill Purple’s short film “Hole in the Paper Sky,” which stars Jessica Biel (“I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”), and Gary Marshall (“The Other Sister”); Wireimage co-founder Jeff Vespa’s short “Nosebleed,” which stars David Arquette (“Scream”).  Continue reading MOVIE NEWS: HollyShorts Unveils Lineup for 2008 Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Knight: Nolan’s Masterpiece!

By now you will have read reviews that say The Dark Knight is The Godfather of summer movies; The Untouchables with Batman as Elliot Ness and The Joker as Al Capone; The Silence of the Lambs with The Joker out-scaring Hannibal Lecter. You will have also read that Heath Ledger’s final performance equals – or betters – performances like Sir Anthony Hopkins as Lecter and that Mr. Nicholson has left the building, ‘cause, baby, there’s a new Joker in town!

These claims are not hyperbole. The Dark Knight – and Ledger’s performance as The Clown Prince of Crime [or in this case, Chaos] – are really that good.

The main reason that The Dark Knight works is that director/co-writer Christopher Nolan has treated the film not like a superhero movie [which, technically it isn’t, since Bruce Wayne/Batman has no superpowers – only superb training and determination, along with those fabulous toys] but as a crime thriller that poses questions that we all face to some small degree in life: is there such a thing as evil; why are there rules; how far are we – any of us – from turning into savages?

The Dark Knight

There are a good many other questions posed in what should be merely a summer extravaganza, but that is precisely why The Dark Knight is special. Just because a movie blockbuster comes out in the summer months, is there really any good reason why it shouldn’t be intelligent and thought-provoking? Of course not. We’ve already had one intelligent, thoughtful summer blockbuster on PIXAR’s WALL*E, so it’s not like the summer has been totally bereft of quality. By the same token, while WALL*E was simply the best film of the year when it was released [can it only be three weeks ago?], The Dark Knight raises the bar to the next –stratospheric – level.

For the rest of the year, every major release – whether it be the next comic book movie or the next “serious drama” – will have to contend with what is the best film Christopher Nolan has made, thus far.

While we could talk about the crisply choreographed action sequences and stunts [the flipped semi? A practical effect], or the fight sequences where we actually see Batman beat down hordes of the ungodly with surprising ease – and savagery; while we could talk about superb performances [Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman and the rest cast are all in top form] or debate the questions raised by the film for hours, and/or the film’s achievement purely on an entertainment level, what makes it a masterpiece is that it is all of these things and more.

The Dark Knight is worth your ten bucks [twelve-fifty in much of Canada] a dozen times over. It is a film to be experienced rather than merely viewed; a film to be savoured. You can’t say that about many films at any time of the year.

Final Grade: A+

MOVIES: The Dark Knight Talkback

darkknight3

So you attended last night’ fabulous, stumpendous, special Advanced screening of The Dark Knight, I wasn’t able to attend (I cried myself to sleep) and will have to see it this weekend with the great unwashed. I have it on good authority that some folks from Nolan’s production office and movie actually read the site sometimes so let them and Warner Brothers know what you think. I may give a lucky poster a prize.

MOVIE REVIEW: Hellboy II: The Golden Army Is Glorious Fun!

Although technically not a superhero movie, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is one of the most beautifully visual films of this or any other year. It’s also a combination of a lot of genres: comic book movie, action flick, fairytale, horror story, eco-fable, romantic drama, pulpy noir, FX flick. The thing is, because of writer/director Guillermo Del Toro’s love of the characters, and his amazing visual sense, all of these genres fuse into a whole that is ever-so-slightly greater than the sum of its parts.

Hellboy [Ron Perlman] and Liz Sherman [Selma Blair are together in this film – a situation that is more a bit awkward. As Abe Sapien [Doug Jones] puts it, “They have their good days and their bad days… and their really bad days. Complicating matters are Hellboy’s longings to go public – FBI liaison Tom Manning [a woefully underused Jeffrey Tambor] is particularly put out by a photo which the big guy posed for… and autographed!

Into this chipper little situation comes an elvish prince named Nuada [Luke Goss], who wants to raise the legendary Golden Army to destroy mankind as mankind has been replacing nature with shopping malls and parking lots. His twin sister, Nuala [Anna Walton] is dead set against this and flees – encountering Abe in the Troll Market [think a fusion of the Star Wars Cantina and the Floating Market from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere], where he helps save her from a troll. Everything escalates from there.

HB vs. Golden Army

Perhaps The Golden Army’s greatest asset is Del Toro’s amazing visuals. All of the film’s creatures are beautiful [sometimes in very disturbing ways] and the sets are enthralling. The creatures are mostly practical and the prostheses and animatronics are absolutely state of the art. Of course, they wouldn’t mean anything if the story and the characters didn’t support them – but they do.

The film is probably hardest on Abe, who encounters romance for the first time in his life, but the Hellboy/Liz relationship takes some interesting and powerful turns as well. Then there’s the new kid on the block, Johann Strauss [voiced by Seth McFarlane], a Teutonic being of ectoplasm housed in an encounter suit that resembles the old spider-Man villain, Mysterio. Brought in to bring Hellboy to heal, Strauss shows some unique abilities, but can’t contain the curmudgeonly demon.

Del Toro shows that Pan’s Labyrinth was no fluke as he sets up action sequences and emotional situations that are simultaneously larger than life and as real as oxygen. He puts his characters through trials of epic proportion, while keeping their feet firmly on the metaphoric ground. The only real flaw of the film is that it may be too rich, too full. There’s so much going on – on every level – that it’s hard to get it all in one viewing. The cliché, “I laughed. I cried. It became part of me,” may actually apply here – Hellboy II: The Golden Army has an effect that lingers long after you’ve left the theater.

Final Grade: A

MOVIE REVIEW: Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3D: More Fun Than It Has Any Right To Be!

New Line’s Journey to the Center of the Earth is a flimsy plot – loosely based on Jules Verne’s novel of the same name – used to set up a string of wild [and at times gross and/or grotesque] 3D effects. The good news is that the combination of cast and CG effects make it – literally – a great ride.

Trevor Anderson’s [Brendan Fraser] work on seismic effects is threatened by a lack of results. When his nephew, Sean [Josh Hutcherson], comes to visit, a comment on his dad’s favorite book [guess…] leads to the discovery that seismic shifts lead to an unexpected location – and the figures match, precisely, those from the time when Trevor’s brother, Max, disappeared. The figures lead Trevor and Sean to Iceland and a mountain guide, Hannah Ásgeirsson [Anita Briem], whose father was a colleague of Max’s. Before you know it, the three are at the center of the planet!

center of the earth

Outside of encounters with luminescent birds, extinct dinosaurs, piranha the size of Great Danes and other odd occurrences, that’s all there is to it. What makes it work is that Fraser, Hutcherson and Briem give themselves over to the thrill ride completely. The screenplay, by Michael Weiss, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, gives our heroes plenty of exciting situations to deal with – and a number of good [if not terribly memorable] lines to keep us the edges of our seats. Eric Brevig’s direction is frenetic enough that, even with a few pauses for breath and a bit of emotional interplay, the film zips by in a compact ninety-three minutes – without feeling too short. The 3D is generally very good, though there are a few places where it is outstanding. My personal favorite [which is to say, the one that made me jump the highest] involves a piranha – and I guarantee you won’t see it coming [sorry…].

It’s a pity that Journey to the Center of the Earth opens the same weekend as Hellboy II and the new Eddie Murphy movie [which is likely not half as much fun]. It would be a shame to see it get lost in the box office shuffle. It’s far too much pure fun for that.

Final Grade: B