by Kris Katz
Brief spoiler-free entertainment reviews

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ocean's 13 (2007)

While it's certainly more original than the first of this trilogy (being that the first was a remake to begin with), it's still not quite as good, though infinitely better than the dull 2nd film. It's fun to see such a high profile bunch of actors getting together to Rat-Pack-it-up once again, though it's too bad Julia Roberts couldn't make the show, but I suppose Scarface is a decent sub. Fun plot, fun characters (again), and generally fun people having a fun time. I guess what I'm saying is it was fun. And with so many numbers still available... Lets just hope they stop before Ocean's 31.

8 out of 10.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Evan Almighty (2007)

Even having gotten in free, I wanted my money back. Sanctimonious, pseudo-Christian-tailored-to-be-market -friendly BS from start to finish. At least it looks like Sykes and Carell were having a good time. Everyone else was on auto-pilot, including Morgan Freeman cashing in a check as God. This movie would've been a lot better if everyone had drowned like the trailer promised they would.

2 out of 10.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

A fantastic example of a completely missed opportunity, this B-Movie tries to be an A-List summer tent pole, and just collapses in on itself in the process despite its awesome title. Best parts of the movie are the bits the internet wrote for it in the lead-up. Superfluous nudity and graphic violence doesn't serve the movie, and actually only unbalances it. It's a good thing Sam Jackson's career is as bulletproof as Chris Walken's, I doubt we'll hear from anyone else in the movie ever again. Except maybe Anthony Anderson... I'm sure the movie world breathes a sigh of relief at that revelation.

3 out of 10.

Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End (2007)

Probably one of the better threequels to come along in a lengthy span. Packed to the 9's with your above-average assortment of Big Summer Movie action scenes that mostly deliver, special effects good enough to make you forget they're fake, and a cast of eccentric actors who bring it all to their characters. Surprisingly, also has one of the most satisfying love story conclusions I've seen in a mega-budget movie in quite some time. The biggest problem is that it has simply too much plot, even if it all mostly makes sense. Feels like some of the "who are these people really" revelations should've been put into the 2nd film to lighten the load a bit. Still great fun. Nice to see that guitar-playing pirate lord in there. Damn near steals the movie, he does.

8 out of 10.

The Last King of Scotland (2006)

A good movie wrapped around an astonishing performance by Forest Whitaker as Ugandan dictator Edi Amin. As much as the rest of the movie is excellent to watch, it's all completely blown out by Whitaker. Even poor Mr. Tumnus from Narnia, here moonlighting as a womanizing doctor, just can't keep his own. The film itself is a fascinating character study of a man many consider among the most evil of our time, portraying the brutality and also the idealism of Amin while adhering to the framework of a slow-burn thriller. It all works wonders to put you in a state of unease and uncertainty. Most everything here ranges from good to great, but it's Whitaker more than anything else that drives this movie.

8 out of 10.

Knocked Up (2007)

For being a comedy from the writer/director of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, one of the funniest films of recent years, this is a remarkably good drama, and a damn fine comedy too. To be fair, it's not hard to be dramatic in a film about accidental pregnancy, but putting together such a heartfelt, believable, and quirky romance alongside such gloriously foul humor takes some serious know-how. The blame for such sterling results rests with its exceptional cast, including Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd. But it's really Katherine Heigl's film, and every bit of her in this film is a brilliant bit of radiance. While Rogan and Rudd (and a good number of others) provide the laughs, Heigl provides the emotional heart with a frank and sometimes embarrassing honesty unusual in a genre that thrives on dick-and-fart jokes. Actually—and it's almost a flaw—the film works better as a drama than it does as a comedy. While the laughs are hearty, the emotional evolution and journey is the more interesting and developed side of the film. It can cause a problem of expectation clashing with reality throughout its entire length, but the serious business of childbirth is given enough of a smile to make it a complete package. It's a foulmouthed wheelbarrow full of cleverly low-brow humor, with an honest love story at its core.

9 out of 10.

King Kong (2005)

It's Adventure with a big, box letter ! and some stunning special effects. Peter Jackson's followup to his superlative Lord of the Rings films may not have the same emotional depth or spectacular world-building, but it still has a lot of heart and a lot of fun. It's just a shame that it's so damn long. Do we really need a full ninety minutes of build-up to whet our appetites for some extremely big game hunting? As soon as the group gets to the island it's good, classic fun. But getting there is both half the battle and half the movie. Beyond that, there are some amazing effects, a bunch of heart-pounding chase sequences, and Jack Black doing a surprisingly good job at acting. Definitely worth seeing.

8 out of 10.

Hot Fuzz (2007)

Just like Shaun of the Dead is a solid zombie movie and a hilarious comedy, Hot Fuzz is an awesome action movie and a riotous send up of all the cliches that action films hold dear. It's clear from the get-go that Director Edgar Wright and his star Simon Pegg have a love for the material, but the twist is in setting it within a quiet, unassuming British villiage with no conspiracies to speak of, and no law breaking beyond typical youthful indiscretion. Oh, and the occasional villager is mysteriously and brutally torn limb from limb in fairly frequent freak accidents. The sense of humor here is quintessentially British: beautifully understated and hopelessly ironic. The result is a glorious celebration of the action genre; a love note to fans of two-hour explodathons that says that yes, these movies are predictable and often awful, but oh so much fun. Any problems present are simply due to it being what it is—an action film. That means the cliches are true, the plot mostly predictable, and the action is often wildly over the top. If you've any love for the genre it's ripping on, a shred of an inner movie geek, or just like a good spot of British Humour, this is an absolute must-see.

10 out of 10.

Cannibal the Musical (1996)

Also known as Alferd Packer: The Musical.
Should have seen this years ago, but didn't. This is the first feature length film by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, sold to Troma Video in 1993. Best taken with a pound of B-Movie salt and half-a-shoestring-budget expectations, the songs are mostly clever ("When I Was On Top Of You" is a personal favorite), the gags mostly work, and it's just plain fun with a few brews and a few friends around. Pretty much as much fun as a single, average episode of 'South Park' stretched to a feature length film. Still a shame there isn't more... y'know... cannibalism in the film.

7 out of 10.

Blood Diamond (2006)

An almost nauseatingly Hollywood take on the whole Africa Thing. Dicaprio does a decent job in his role, while Jennifer Conneley just exists, and Djimon Hounsou alternates between a pitch-perfect performance and hilarious overacting. For everything this tries to say about the origins of wealth and how unscrupulous an organization or two can be, it feels too safely produced. There is a boldness and outrage that a subject like this demands, and at no point did the film manage to successfully take it on. The sad truth of this picture is that you come out knowing all the most heinous parts are true, and that even the most atrocious bits in the movie are probably a sanitized portrayal of the real situation. Too bad the movie as a whole isn't better.

6 out of 10.

28 Weeks Later (2007)

Not as good as the first, but still pretty damn good. A few glaring gaps of logic, and the problem of focusing the story on 2 intrepid fugee British children keep it from being the mature, thinking man's zombie movie the first managed to somehow be. It still manages to maintain the same sense of visceral urgency and brutality, however. When the limbs start flying the film is at its strongest, giving its exceptionally well-realized post apocalyptic war zone a sense of plausibility and reality few other other movies bother to portray. If only the characters had managed to be as detailed as the settings and the carnage. I guess we'll just have to settle for being almost as good as its predecessor.

7 out of 10.