July 29, 2007

Shooter - $2

Shooter is not worth your time.

Shooter is a self indulgent and intellectually bankrupt action movie. The main problem is that it thinks it's a complex, conspiracy-revealing thriller. It is not.

Mark Wahlberg gives a good performance as Bob Lee Swagger, a world renowned sniper hired to find out how someone might kill the president. He is then framed by a US government organization, an organization so absurdly morally bankrupt it is comical. This organization is run by a US Senator who is basically the worst human being who has ever lived. This Senator states at one point that every atrocity in human history was either committed, or allowed to happen by a government somewhere and that if you have to pick a side you might as well pick the one where you make some money.

The portrayal of the villains in Shooter were completely over the top, from the writing to the truly awful performance of Danny Glover as the head of the organization which frames Swagger.

The action in this movie is impressive and combined with Wahlberg's performance it is the only thing keeping this one from getting a $1 rating from me.

I put Shooter on my 'Don't Watch It' list and give it a value of $2.

July 20, 2007

The Prestige - $8

Two rival stage magicians become bitter enemies after a trick goes wrong at a show they are part of. The rivalry turns into a battle as the two become obsessed with outdoing and destroying each other.

The Prestige was a movie I went into with high expectations and I was not disappointed. I'm becoming a big fan of Christopher Nolan, (Memento, Batman Begins) who wrote and directed this movie and once again he has created a great film with solid story telling and wonderful imagery. The look of The Prestige is superb, from the costumes to the sets, it is nearly worth watching for that alone.

There is far more to see however as The Prestige is capped off by a mysterious storyline and great acting performances from Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson. The team of Bale and Nolan is one I will go out of my way to see in the future as I'm sure this is not the last movie they will do together.

My only slight criticism for this otherwise engaging film is the performance of Hugh Jackman. Because Jackman is in one of the lead roles he is pretty much the only factor keeping my rating from being higher than it already is. I've just never understood Jackman; in every movie I see him in all I see is Hugh Jackman and I never feel fully engaged in the character he is portraying. Jackman is not a bad actor, and neither is his performance in this movie all that bad, but he was overshadowed by the other actors and was not quite subtle enough for the role he was playing.

Overall The Prestige is a movie well worth your time, it is an engaging movie that makes you want to see it again to experience it from the beginning with the knowledge you glean during the unfolding of the story.

I put The Prestige on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $8.

July 7, 2007

Transformers - $8

Transformers is everything it should be, action packed, fun, childish and quite funny.

I was worried when I heard Michael Bay was making the live action version of my favorite childhood cartoon, as I'm no fan of his. I find Bay normally sacrifices story for image and leaves his characters with little to do but look good. Transformers may have been just the right project for Bay however as no one can honestly expect this movie - based on a cartoon based on a toy - to tell an epic story or have a moving dramatic back story. Bay provides his audience with just what the cartoon always did, funny dialogue and over the top action.

I'm sure some purists will find the modernization of the Transformers too much to take. I thought it was appropriate and as cheesy as the GMC product shots were the movie makers stayed true to the essence of each character. For me any inconsistencies with the original were overlooked as soon as I heard the familiar sound of Optimus Prime's voice in the opening narration.

I enjoyed Transformers immensely, it was great fun to watch these toys come to life again in a live action movie with some of the best CGI I've ever seen. This movie will win no acting or writing awards but if you have ever been a fan of this implausible story then you shouldn't have any trouble being entertained by the big screen version.

Watch for Shia LaBeouf's career to take off as well, he carries much of the story and especially the comedy in Transformers playing the movie's main character Sam, a teenagers whose Father unwittingly buys him an Autobot from a used car lot. In this modern retelling of the Transformers story all the Autobots are GM vehicles (I can't imagine what GM must have paid for that product placement) and the Camaro Sam buys turns out to be Bumble Bee. As a tribute to the old Bumble Bee he is placed next to a yellow bug in the car lot.

Overall this is not a perfect movie nor is it a movie for those who don't like senseless action and were never fans of the Transformers. It is however wonderful fun and worth seeing. I'm sure there will now be a whole new generation of Transformers fans that will finally understand what all those 30 year old geeks like me are talking about.

I put Transformers on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $8.