I’m not a fan of Tom Hanks or Ron Howard and I also hated The Da Vinci Code so to say I wasn’t enthused to see the sequel, Angels and Demons would be an understatement. It starts off a little slow but somehow I found myself getting sucked into the mystery surrounding the disappearance of 4 Cardinals on the night of electing a new Pope. This is where I put in the disclaimer that I’m not a religious person so most of this stuff went completely over my head. But I found it sort of intriguing. The problem with a movie like this is that in the past writers like David Koepp (screenplay) and Akiva Goldsman (screenplay) would do a thriller where the bad guys would have very simple manageable plots that as an audience you can just go with. It’s going to be hard to do this review without spoiling the film.
These days the bad guy has to be a freaking genius to be able to explain all the various plan details. Look at everything that Tony Alameda on 24 would have to know way in advance in order for his Bad “Guyness” and master plot to make any semblance of sense? The same thing occurs here where the bad guy would have to know well in advance that Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) the man the church hates would be called in and if not him, someone else – maybe one of the scientist who helped create it, Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) would be able to put all the pieces together in time to stop an Antimatter bomb from destroying Vatican City. Yes, I said an Antimatter bomb.
Angels and Demons, set some time after Ron Howard’s previous adaptation The Da Vinci Code, finds Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon being summoned to The Vatican in order to help them with an impending crisis. As a new pope is set to be elected, a mysterious organization known as the Illuminati, an old villain to the Catholic Church, threatens to eradicate the holy city and everyone in it by using an unstable substance with bomb-like properties.
When speaking about this movie, I seem to always get the same basic opening question- is it better than The Da Vinci Code? The short answer is yes. Ron Howard has done a much better job on this venture of trimming the fat from the novel and leaving the audience with a far more engaging movie than the first film. Fans of the book should be rest assured that some of the more preposterous events have been wisely omitted. Hanks also fares better by showing much more confidence and comfort in his role as Langdon, which I’m sure is aided partly by a much deserved upgrade in his hairstyle. Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: Angels and Demons Holds Some Improvements and Thrills, But Only Some→
When I heard that Star Trek was going to be on the big screen again, I was excited at first. Unfortunately, when I heard that J.J. Abrams was going to direct it, I was completely stunned. Abrams has given us such wonderful television shows such as “Lost”, “Alias”, and “Fringe”. When it came to his directorial debut with another television series turned movie series, “Mission: Impossible III”, the third movie had lost its luster. So, you can say that I was less than enthusiatic about Abrams making the same mistake with a much more larger fan base such as Star Trek. That was strike one in my book.
Strike two came about when I found out that the new Trek movie was to be a prequel/reboot of the franchise. I was divided between Hollywood remaking the movies that stand the test of time and reimagining the same movies and TV Series to bring in a whole new audience. Keep in mind that Trek has a long history and and legions of fans that span the globe. After 43 years with ten films, five television series, and one Emmy-winning animated series under its belt, the question, “Will Star Trek thrive again?,” remains on the minds of Trek fans. Since the black sheep of Trek left the airwaves in 2005, fans seeked more from the Trek universe in the form of independent productions. Two productions that stood out from the rest are Star Trek: Phase II and Starship Farragut. I highly recommend them both if you want to experience true Trek.
J.J. Abrams is a man who I’ve always thought was way overrated – I’ve hated just about everything that he’s been involved in including Alias, Felicity, Mission Impossible III and that god awful Cloverfield. I’m also not a Trekkie, I’ll watch Star Trek the original series on occasion and Voyager whenever it’s on but I hated the Picard crew with a passion. So for these reasons and more I wasn’t really feeling the new Star Trek prequel movie. I wanted to be the one who comes out hating this movie, but I can’t. Abrams has knocked this one completely out of the park. This is an almost flawless movie. The acting, plot, pacing, cinematography, SFX is almost perfect.
Beyond the reasons listed above I thought all the trailers for this movie were, “Meh” and the casting really awful. But a funny thing happens as you watch, it soaks in that I was completely wrong, this cast is absolutely perfect and spot on. I started to have double vision, I could easily imagine these people 20 or 30 years older with their big stomachs and years of experience being together as a crew. I always say how much I hate prequels, but it’s time to say that when done well they can be a lot of fun. It’s just very rare that it’s done well. Prequels should be more than just “how the big things came to be,” they should be about the characters themselves and the little moments, things and character “ticks” that fans of any given show come to love.
Tyson, by writer and director James Toback, takes an honest and insightful look at Mike Tyson’s triumphs and battles throughout his life both in and out of the boxing ring, narrated by the former fighter himself.
Toback has been a lifelong friend to Mike Tyson, and you can almost feel the heart of that friendship in every frame of this feature. This is not because he has chosen to portray a controversial figure in a biased positive light, but rather because he allows his subject to express himself, and in his own way, directs the audience to listen. Toback never judges or spins, but his part of the deal is that in return, no subject is off-limits to be discussed and explained through Tyson’s own words regarding his turbulent history.
The end result is a fascinating tale. Tyson is a lean 90 minutes long, but in it, you’ll hear deep personal reflections from the former heavyweight champion’s about almost every aspect of his life. If anything, Tyson delivers on giving the audience a very private perspective on a very public individual.
If I have a complaint about the film, it’s one I’m wavering on.I wish that I could recommend this movie for everyone to see, but what prevents from doing that is some of the very graphic language used in the film. The reason I waiver is because while it’s crude and may make some people uncomfortable, his language choices are part of his character and so to omit them, or edit him, would take away from fascinating nature of the movie.
What’s most interesting about this documentary is that regardless of what your view is of Mike Tyson- love him, hate him, or don’t know enough to care- your perception of him after the movie will probably be changed from what it was going in. I think I have to recommend this film to most audiences, just on the basis of intrigue and success in portraying an interesting man in a light not yet before seen.
Final Grade A
By Christopher Troilo
Originally Posted 5.07.2009
A brief office encounter between an executive and his new temp turns into one of the well-done stalker movies of our time. Derek Charles has it all. A new house in the suburbs, a lovely wife, a young son, and a great job as an asset manager who has just been promoted within his company. His life could not have been better. That is until one day, a new temp named Lisa was assigned to his office. At first, she adapts quickly to her new office environment and proves to be more efficient than most other secretaries in his office. Then, an evening at the office Christmas party, things start to unravel between Lisa and Derek. Lisa starts to put moves on Derek and begins her deadly obsession with her boss which jeopardizes everything that Derek Charles has worked for. Obsession combines a lot of classic movie elements. It’s the classic new secretary meets her boss.
I originally wasn’t going to write a review this weekend because it was pretty slim pickens at the box office, but I was so bored Sunday that I broke down and caught a matinee of Obsessed. What do you get when you put two of Hollywood’s worst actresses, Beyoncé Knowles and Ali Larter in the same movie? You get a surprisingly decent little paint by the numbers thriller. Now in Beyonce’s defense she’s a great singer who is desperately trying to be an actress, Ali has no defense, she’s beautiful eye-candy but even that wore thin a long time ago. My initial issue with Obsessed is that, based on the trailers I knew exactly what kind of movie this was and there was no way it was going to surprise me, I would probably like it on DVD but to spend real money and time seeing it in a theater. Nah, no way. But like I said it was either this, "Fighting," or nothing. I originally chose nothing.
Once you get past how this is a paint by the numbers affair with an ending that you see a mile away, it is a really nice glossy looking film that clearly had a nice size budget and cool soundtrack. Downtown LA looks as shiny and plastic as ever. Why is it whenever I’m in LA the city looks dirty, dingy, and kind of disgusting? The problem I have with the crazy, delusional woman movie cliché is that I never buy into the obsession. There’s no reason for Lisa (Ali Larter) to instantly become obsessed with Derek (Idris Elba). I mean yeah he’s a great looking, successful Executive Vice President of a major financial institution and an awesome guy on top of everything else, but for her to fall for him the instant she sees him in an elevator? I’m a skeptic, I don’t believe in love at first sight. But again, Lisa’s a crazy…. Which is how writer David Loughery explains every implausible thing Lisa does. After awhile I didn’t question anything, I just said, "Oh yeah, right, Lisa’s a crazy…."
Director Steve Shill (primarily a television show director) takes a big chance resting an entire movie on the performance of Ali Larter and Beyonce Knowles. And both actresses actually rise to the occasion. I don’t think either one of them really have a good on-screen presence but Larter really makes this role work for her. The pacing was just about right, scenes didn’t feel overly long and we didn’t have to put up with long doses of either Knowles or Larter. Just when you start thinking, oh god how much longer is this movie, the scene moves to another character. While Obsessed is about Larter’s character, we get her in "seemingly" small doses. She sashays into a scene and then leaves for awhile but her presence is always felt. Lots of shots of her just standing around in the office and preening before the camera, not much of her actually talking (which is a good thing). The inevitable confrontation between Sharon (Beyonce) and Lisa is a decent catfight. I would have liked it to be more over the top violent, other than that, this movie is exactly what you would expect it to be.
Final Grade B-
EM Review By Michelle Alexandria Originally posted 04.26.09
The summer of the Comic-book movie continues this weekend with the launch of Wanted an adaptation of Mark Miller’s over the top graphic novel about a wimp who gets turned into an amoral, masochistic Super Villain. I had never heard of this book until the movie was announced last year. So I saw the film cold. I walked out of the theater being mixed, on the one hand Russia action director Timur Bekmambetov channels his inner Woo to bring us some amazing action sequences on the other the acting is all over the place. No matter how much Hollywood wants it to be true, James McAvoy doesn’t have the “It” factor. He’s ok in small doses but he just lacks charisma. Last year Timur floored me with the amazing, over the top Day Watch – if you are an action fan, you must see this. But all the elements that made Day watch so amazing, don’t work in Wanted.
I went in to Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem expecting a terrible film. After all, the first one [on which I burned a free DVD rental coupon] was hideous beyond belief [so much so that I couldn’t believe that Uwe Boll hadn’t directed it]. I was in the mood for a big screen bonanza of senseless violence and mayhem – especially since this AvP edition carried an R rating. To my extreme disappointment, it was a decent enough timewaster.