movie review

Searching for Answers - Quick Review of Prometheus

Prometheus

The tagline for the movie is: They went looking for our beginning. What they found could be our end.

Synopsis: Ridley Scott does science fiction again. I remember watching Alien at the Old Mill 6 Theaters in Mountain View. My sister took me. I don't recall if I knew what the movie was about before watching it. I think all I knew was that it took place in outer space. Star Wars took place in outer space, so this movie should be cool, right? Well, after the infamous chestbuster scene, I knew this was a different movie.

I heard this started out as a prequel to Alien, but changed to a movie that takes place in the same universe as Alien. Whatever. The film is about going into space to find the answer to the origins of man. Oh, and there are scary aliens in space.

The Good: The general idea of the film, trying to discover the origins of man, is a cool thought. If our creators left signs of where we came from, and perhaps how to find them, wouldn't any reasonable person go looking for them if they had the oppportunity?

The science and design win the day for me in this film. The technology has a sense of realism to it. I can believe they are on the ship Prometheus, and that this ship actually exists.

The aliens (there are more than one type) are interesting without being too foreign. They are familiar yet new. I am not sure how much CGI was done for the aliens, but to me it didn't look like much.

As far as memorable scenes, I must say I enjoyed the operation scene is on par with the chestbuster scene of Alien.

The acting was well done. I especially liked Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba. Noomi Rapace is a great choice for the lead. The character she plays, Elizabeth Shaw, is a strong character in the same vein as Sirgourney Weaver's Ripley.

The Bad: Overall it was a predictable story. An observant film watcher can determine what is going to happen. You could tsee the hidden relationships between characters. There are almost no surprises.

The exploration scenes were good, but I wish they were darker, more tension filled. They were too straightforward and light in comparison to Alien.

There are a few plot hole "huh" moments, like why does one person get affected this way while another is affected another way. The film leaves you with few answers and more questions. Will they be addressed in a sequel if there is one? Who knows.

Overall: The film is worth watching. I don't think you should compare it to Alien. Take that film out of the equation. You will probably enjoy this more if you do.

**My Rating: Matinée

The Avengers

Farrah and I were able to actually watch another movie! Last week we finally saw The Hunger Games - which I would rate Matinee. This week we watched The Avengers.

When filming The Avengers was first announced I was a bit nervous. How could a movie with so many characters do justice to the comic book? I mean, would we just see the team fighting the villians on screen and bits of dialog thrown in. Surely, character developerment - though never a priority in most movies - couldn't happen in a super hero movie of this scale? But wait, Joss Whedon is at the helm. Can he pull it off?

I think he did. I've watched all the related films - Iron Man 1 and 2, Captain America, Thor, all the versions of the Hulk movies. But I think The Avengers can work as a standalone movie. A new viewer can get the sense of each character from this film. I know there isn't deep character motivation-exploration going on here, but these are no cardboard cut-outs either. They make javascript:noop()some attempt at depth given the amount of screen time devoted to each character.

The story was simple enough to follow:

  • Big bad guy steals magic cube that equals ultimate power.
  • Heroes - who normally operate alone - must band together to stop the big bad guy.
  • Heroes don't get along at first, but unite to fight the big bad guy and the aliens who are his allies.
  • Heroes prevail for now.

The story movies along at a good pace, only slowing down just enough to catch your breath, digest the scene you've just watch, and then pick up steam to the next action sequence. The dialog is snappy, with humorous bits here and there to keep the mood light.

The part I disliked, and not by much, is the CGI-based ending battle sequences. They weren't as confusing as a Transformers' film, but they were annoying enough. I'm not a fan of these huge computer generated battles. But if anyone could pull it off, it would be in a Josh Whedon film.

The Avengers may just be a movie I would pay again to see on the big screen.

Rating: Full Admission 

The King's Speech

I upped my Netflix movie discs this month in the hopes of catching up on a few movies. I hope to write a few words on each movie that I was able to view.

I was able to set aside a few moments last weekend to watch an excellent movie The King's Speech. It would have been a good idea to see this movie before the Oscars. But knowing it had won several Oscars, as well as other awards, did not taint my viewing of the movie.

The film, from it's synopsis, seems grand in scope. It tells the story of a man with a speaking issue who would be King one day. But as I sat and watched the movie it felt like a nicely made small film. The movie moved at a good pace, covering a little less than a decade of time very smoothly. It established its characters, their relationships, and their situations with ease.

The interaction between the actors and their characters was a sight to see. In a short period of time, you could recognize the love and patience that Helena Bonham Carter's character has for Firth's. And you could feel the tension, then later admiration and respect Firth and Geoffrey Rush's character shared throughout the film. Yes, there was a montage here and there, but how else would you encapsulate all the speaking exercises Firth's King George VI would go through?

Now, I don't know the historical accuracy of this film. Heck, I don't expect any film to be historically accurate. All I can say is that this film proves to be an inspirational piece worth repeated viewing.

If you like British movies, have two hours to spare, and an opportunity to rent this film, I don't believe you'd be disappointed

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - My Review

Netflix Synopsis:

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and rebellious computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) team up to investigate the unsolved disappearance of wealthy Henrik Vanger’s (Sven-Bertil Taube) teen niece (Ewa Fröling), only to uncover dark secrets about Vanger’s powerful family. Niels Arden Oplev directs this Swedish thriller based on the first novel from Stieg Larsson’s best-selling trilogy.

My Take:

I haven’t read the book, a synopsis of the book, or even a synopsis of the movie before renting it. I thought the title was interesting enough to warrant a rental. What was I expecting? From the title I was expecting an action film a la Angelina Jolie in Salt. What I got instead was an compelling hardcore drama-mystery-thriller.

What was difficult to handle in this film is not the subtitles, but the violence against women. There is graphic violence against the “Girl”, Lisbeth, in the title of the film, as well as referenced violence against several other females. The dialog, descriptions of what happens to certain characters, is also difficult to stomach. It is like watching a hardcore episode of Criminal Minds or Law and Order: SVU. But then Lisbeth is one smart tough girl. She is not afraid of the pain she goes through, and certainly is not shy in dealing out a violent barrage if need be. Her complexity - a product of what she’s been through - is alluded to throught the film. I’m sure it’s dealt with more throughly in the book(s).

I hear they are doing a US remake of this film. I would be hesitant to see it. But then I hear David Fincher is helming the remake. Either he or Christopher Nolan would do a worthy remake worth, at the least, checking out.

Rating: Full Admission

Red Cliff

The Netflix synopsis: When a warmongering prime minister (Fengyi Zhang) advances his armies against two rival kingdoms, he unwittingly prompts his adversaries (Chen Chang and Yong You) to work together in this martial arts action-adventure. The ensuing conflict culminates in the epic battle of Red Cliff, a struggle by the sea involving more than one million soldiers.

My Take:John Woo film without guns isn’t bad. And it doesn’t hurt to have Tony Leung in the cast. I was captivated by the story. But I wished it was fleshed out more. I then realized there is a longer two-part original version available.  Albeit it is four hours long, versus 148 minute for theatrical version I watched. I think the trade-off would be worth the extra effort, especially on blu-ray.

Rating: Matinee

Whiteout

The Netflix synopsis: “The lone U.S. marshal at a research station in Antarctica, Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) stumbles upon the continent’s first murder victim. With only three days left until the sun sets for six months, Carrie races to solve the complex mystery before darkness falls.”

My Take: Unfortunately, Whiteout was a weak mystery-thriller where you could predict the culprit(s) in the first 10 minutes. The only saving grace of the movie has going for it is the Antarctic setting and the Kate Beckinsale shower scene.  I’m guess the latter was added due to the overall dullness of the movie.  The source material must have better.

Rating: Cable TV

My Short Review of Iron Man 2

We were finally able to watch Iron Man 2 the other night in Cupertino.  I know its been out for some time, but we've been a little busy these last few weeks.  The baby fun is just starting, right?

In short, Iron Man 2 is worthy sequel. The movie introduces a few villains and heroes.  Also a character from the first film played by another actor.  It contains as much story depth and deep character development as they first movie - I write sarcastically - and plenty of action sequences.  My favorite sequence was the scene at the race track. 

Rating: Matinee

Casablanca

Oh Rick.

Casablanca is one of my favorite films. I've seen it on VHS, laser disc, and DVD. I anxiously wanted to see this on blu-ray.  I wasn't disappointed with this rental.  The film looks crisp and clean, and it sounds amazing.  The amount of extras on this small blu-ray disc is astounding.  There are deleted scene, commentary by Roger Ebert, documentaries galore about the making of the film.

Rating: Full Admission

A Review of Juno

The first movie to be reviewed on the "reloaded" web site is Juno. Farrah and I watched Juno about a week ago at the AMC Cupertino Square 16. This theater is becoming our number one place to watch movies. I suppose because it is new, clean, and doesn't smell like feet yet.

We had only heard good things about the movie, so expectations were slightly high. The only aspect I wasn't looking forward to was Jennifer Garner's acting. We bought our Milk Duds and headed into the theater. We were early enough to have our choice of seats. But the place quickly filled up with eager moviegoers. It had been some time since we watched a movie in a crowded theater.

Here is the brief synopsis provided by Netflix:

Facing an unplanned pregnancy, worldly teen Juno (Ellen Page) devises a plan to locate the proverbial perfect parents to adopt her baby. But the seemingly ideal couple Juno chooses appears to still have some growing up to do. Now, everyone in Juno's world must do a little soul-searching. Michael Cera (Superbad) co-stars while Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner play the pair of affluent yuppies anxious for a child in this offbeat coming-of-age comedy.

What I Liked

The movie is a funny and smartly written. Sharing laughter with a large crowd sure makes the movie experience more enjoyable. Juno is one of those movies that has very quotable dialog. You can find yourself quoting lines often throughout the following weeks. The acting is sharp all around, especially from Ellen Page who plays the lead. Yes, I even liked Jennifer Garner.

The film moves at a brisk pace, clocking in at a fast 92 minutes. The seemingly predictable plot points turned out to be refreshingly unpredictable, at least from my standpoint.

A seen from the movie Juno

What I Did Not Enjoy

I can't think of anything I didn't enjoy about Juno. I could say it was short, but it didn't feel too short. I was awaiting an unsatisfying ending; you know the endings where each viewer needs to determine for themselves if the characters found happiness or not? Luckily this did not come to pass.

Some may think the dialog is trying to hard to be memorable, trying hard to be cute and hip. But it works in this movie for both the characters in high school and the adults.

Final Thoughts

Strong movie. Smart script. Strong acting by likable actors. A good way to spend in few hours in a warm theater.

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars

Spider-Man 3

Spider-Man is not one of my favorite comic book characters. I'm more of a Batman guy, but I have enjoyed the Spider-Man movies. I thought the second movie in the series was better than the first. So my expectation of this third installment was very high, even after hearing of the lousy reviews.

The Sandman versus Spidey

As I always start my reviews, here is the Netflix synopsis of Spider-Man 3:

After defeating eight-armed cyborg Doctor Octopus, Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) faces off against a new crop of villains, including the shape-shifting Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), in the third adventure of the comic book series. While Spidey's superpowers are altered by an alien organism, his alter ego, Peter Parker, deals with nemesis Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) and gets caught up in a love triangle. Kirsten Dunst and James Franco co-star.

What I Liked

The actors and the characters they inhabit are likable. The special effects involving the Sandman were cool. Also the "Gwen Stacy rescue scene" was done with just the right amount of intensity. The last battle scene at some moments, but in the end left me unfulfilled.

Kirsten and Toby in a Web

What I Didn't Enjoy

But not all the special effects worked. The first battle slash chase scene looked particularly fake and uninspiring. Subsequent battles were too long and a bit repetitious.

The whiny nice Peter Parker started to get on my nerves. The angry Venom-infected Peter wasn't menacing to be, but over the top hilarious caricature. My guess - Toby Maguire can't pull off this duality bit convincingly. Also, the path the Harry Osborn character takes feels a bit forced.

The film also suffers from too many characters in a movie. Let's see, there's the old gang (Peter/Spidey, Mary Jane, Aunt May, etc.) and the new characters (Gwen Stacy, Ed Brock Jr., Venom, The Sandman, and a few others). To me this problem caused some of the old Batman franchise films to not reach their full potential.

Final Thoughts

This trilogy hasn't ended on a strong note. Spider-Man 3 is a watchable film. I just don't think I'll care to watch it again.

* 1/2 (out of 5)

Transformers

How do you make a kids movie about talking transforming robots into a live action summer blockbuster? You get Steven Speilberg to produce and Michael Bay to direct the movie, that's how you do it.

The Transformers Throw Down

Transformers is the second movie we watch at the AMC Theaters in Cupertino Square. Does it succeed in starting a new franchise of movies about robots from the planet Cybertron? Or does it sink like a hunk of junk?

The Netfilx synopsis:

Based on the popular toys that transform from machines into giant robots, this live-action movie from Pearl Harbor director Michael Bay finds the planet Cybertron inhabitants engaging in a secret war for control of Earth's natural resources, which they desperately need for fuel. Able to disguise themselves as cars, airplanes, boats and more, the transformers prove a tough enemy in this film starring Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel and Jon Voight.

What I Liked

The movie starts off well. The early action and battle scenes provide plenty of bang for your movie buck. The opening scenes in the desert with American troops fighting a lone Decepticon shows just how tough these robots are. The movie moves at a nice pace through the first half of the film, providing a nice mix of action and information without getting too bogged down in either.

The introduction of our hero, the girl/woman he's destined to be with, and other characters move along at a good clip. Shia LaBeouf isn't your next action star, but you can see he has skills playing the reluctant hero. I'm sure we'll see him in similar parts as his career grows. As the humans and the Autobots start interacting more on a personal level, the film starts to slow a bit. It almost comes to a complete halt when the Autobots go to Shia's home to retrieve an artifact.

Decepticons

What I Didn't Enjoy

The acting is passable, with the robot voices providing as much emotion as their human counterparts. I'm not a big Jon Voight fan, so his Donald Rumsfeld-type role could have been cut out as far as I'm concerned. Anthony Anderson's computer geek character seems to be thrown into the mix out of left field. The relationship between Shai LaBeouf and Meagan Fox's character wasn't believable. Plus believing Megan Fox was a high school student is a big stretch.

There is almost one too many battles in this movie. When the Decepticon and Autobots finally clash, it is difficult to follow who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. And I still didn't understand the deal with the Allspark, as explained in the film.

Autobots

Final Thoughts

This loud live action packed, cgi filled, nonsensical plotted movie proved to be slightly successful as a new action film. I guess I could see it become a franchise, though I'm not sure where it can go from here. The crowd we saw it with seemed to love it. And it did succeed in recapturing the feeling of the afternoon cartoon I enjoyed in my youth.

Transformers: ** (out of 5)

Knocked Up

I am playing catch up on my movie reviews. Knocked Up is the first film Farrah and I watched at the new AMC Theaters in Cupertino Square (formerly Vallco Shopping Center).

Vallco Mall had been dying a slow death. For every open and operating store there is almost twice as many empty spaces. The theater is meant to breath new life into the mall, bringing in people and hopefully other businesses. I suppose the name change is meant to remove the hold stigma of what was and to mark a new beginning.

The movie box office is on the second floor between Macy's and Sears. Once you purchase the tickets, either from the ticket booth or using one of the six self-service kiosks, you head up the escalator to the third floor and sixteen new theaters.

The theaters are nice and clean (for now) with the normal big comfy stadium chairs and wide rows. It can get a bit dark in the theaters making walking into the show an adventure. Before the previews there is a twenty-minute feature / commercial / infomercial. This can be annoying when you are trying to talk to anyone else before the movie.

Well, onto the movie review.

Knocked Up

The Netflix summary on Knocked Up:

A one-night stand results in an unexpected pregnancy for entertainment reporter Alison (Katherine Heigl) in Judd Apatow's romantic comedy. Determined to be a good mom and keep her career on track, Alison decides to try to make things work with the baby's father, slacker Ben (Seth Rogen). It's anything but smooth sailing as the odd couple gets acquainted, but Alison finds there's more to Ben than she originally thought. Paul Rudd also stars.

What I liked:

Going into this movie I had no expectations. I didn't hear whether it was good or bad, and this was several weeks after it had opened. I found the movie both smart and funny. The dialogue and situations ring true to life, with all the comedic and dramatic twists and turns. I was pleasantly surprised that Seth Rogen could pull off the leading man role. Paul Rudd is golden as ever, especially during the trip to Las Vegas scene.

Leslie Mann and Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up

Katherine Heigl and Leslie Mann put in strong performances as well. Mann's acting chops don't seem to be there for me, bordering on a bit amateurish, but it works for this role.

What I Didn't Like:

The ending seemed a bit rushed to me. I wouldn't have mind if the movie was longer just to provide a more satisfying resolution. The juvenile antics of some of the secondary characters wore thin after awhile.

Final Thoughts

This is a good comedy with likable characters. Katherine Heigl does well doing light comedy, and Paul Rudd is funny as heck. I wouldn't mind seeing where these characters end up ten years from now.

Knocked Up: **** (out of 5)

Movie Review - Brick

Look, I did what she said with the brick.  I didn't know it was bad, but The Pin's on it now for poor Frisco, and they're playing it all on me.  -- Emily from the movie Brick.

Brick

farrah and I watched this movie last weekend.  I've wanted to see it ever since I saw it's preview during another DVD we watched several months ago.  It looked like classic film noir set in high school. 

It took a while to get into the nuances in the the dialog, but once you got into the rythym it was easy to follow.  In a way it was sort of like watching Trainspotting for the first time, not knowing what is being said.

I enjoyed the movie overall, giving it four stars.  I like the characters and the look of the film.  The pace of the story was spot on, moving from scene to scene at a good clip.  I figure if Sam Spade went to high school, he Brendan, the lead character in the film.

Go add this movie to your Netflix queue (or rent it at Blockbuster if you must).

Aeon Flux

I have an observation that seems to rarely fail me: action movies that are around ninety minutes in length rarely work.  The problem I have with this timeframe, in this genre, is the fact that there is usually more action then story development.  I like to be entertained as much as the next guy, but at least put a coherent story together, ok?

The only movie that comes to mind that works within this criteria is Under Siege. Yes, this film does star Steven Segal, but he is only on screen for half of the movie.  The other half is taken up by Tommy Lee Jones, who eats up each scene he is in.  There is also Big Trouble in Little China with Kurt Russell.  Big Trouble's major problem for me was too much story in 99 minutes, but it was an entertaining film.

But now on to Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux.

Aeon Flux

The Netflix summary:

In the 25th century, a rampaging virus has forced the remnants of humanity into the seclusion of a last redoubt. But political conflict swirls within, and the climate is ripe for revolution. Aiming to hasten an uprising, the leader of the underground rebellion (Frances McDormand) dispatches acrobatic assassin Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) to eliminate the government's top leader in this futuristic thriller based on the popular animated MTV show.

What I liked about the movie: The sci-fi / future slant.  I probably only watched one episode of the MTV cartoon, so I am by no means a Aeon Flux expert.  But I found the setting, and the sparse sets, to be beneficial to the movie's flow.  Oh, it also doesn't hurt the film seeing Charlize Theron in several tight-fitting costumes.

What I didn't like about the movie: Very predictable.  After the first 15 minutes you are able to tell where certain characters are going to end up, and of course, what the eventual outcome will be.

Aeon Flux: ** out of 5

Serenity

"She is startin' to damage my calm."
-- Jayne Cobb from the movie Serenity

We are constantly threatened with television shows being re-conceived and passed off as movies.  Most threats are in the form of remakes, such as S.W.A.T., Bewitched, and Dukes of Hazzard, trying to get a few bucks in the name of nostalgia.  There are a few attempts to extend the magic of a successful series onto the big screen.  There has been talk of putting Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and even The Simpsons on the big screen.

One attempt at extending a series into movie format was the X-Files. I only watched a few episode of the X-Files, so watching it translated to film format wasn't as an exciting prospect for me as it would be for some.  To me, X-Files: The Movie didn't work for me on a lot of levels.  The main problem I had with that film was it was drew a lot from the show's mythos,  which other viewers were aware of but I was not.  This left me feeling out of the inner circle. Oh well, not much of a loss in my opinion.

Serenity Movie Poster

Now comes Serenity.  The movie is based on a cancelled television show called Firefly. As I understand it, this was not any ordinary cancelled series, but one with a huge fanatic fan base.  Here's the //Netflix summary:

Picking up where his cult show "Firefly" left off, writer-director Joss Whedon's tale of galactic unrest follows Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), captain of the transport ship Serenity, and his scrappy but loyal crew. When the ship picks up two new passengers -- fugitives from the powerful coalition ruling the universe -- "Mal" and his mates find themselves at the center of a cosmic conflict, pursued by military forces and space-roaming savages.

What I liked about the movie: The movie is very well written.  The characters are well rounded, dispensing smart and witty dialog in tense and quite moments,  never slowing down the movie.  It is a testament to Joss Whedon's writing skills that I was able to identify with the characters, and follow the story, even though I was not a viewer of the television show.  It's clear that "Mal" is molded after Han Solo of Star Wars, but that's forgivable.  It makes it easier for the uninitiated to identify with the character quickly.  The space combat scenes, even though at times they involved large amount of ships, wasn't as disorienting as those in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  George Lucas should take note.

What I didn't like: Acutally, I couldn't find much fault with the movie, other than I wish it wouldn't have ended.  I would like to see where the characters can go from here.  But I do not think the movie was successful enough to spawn a sequel, which is a shame.  We get sequels to some pretty crappy movies (e.g. Bad Boys II), but not to well made films such as Serenity. Oh well, such is the wisdom of Hollywood.

Serenity: **** (out of 5)

"Saving Face" & "Rent"

Saving Face

The //Netflix summary for Saving Face:

Dutiful daughter Wil (Michelle Krusiec) sidesteps her mother's (Joan Chen) attempts to marry her off in Alice Wu's romantic comedy set in New York. At 28, Wil's the old maid of her traditional Chinese family, so there's no way she can tell them about her budding romance with Vivian (Lynn Chen). But there's no avoiding mom's meddling matchmaking when she shows up on Wil's doorstep looking for a place to stay.

What I liked about the movie: The acting is very well done, cast with very attractive leads in Lynn Chen, Michelle Krusiec, and Joan Chen.  The story is as tight as it can be, moving at a brisk pace at 91 minutes.

What I didn't like: I would have liked to see more character development between male and female characters, to help underscore the role of women in Chinese culture.

Rent

The Netflix summary for Rent:

Members of the original 1996 Broadway cast star in Chris Columbus's adaptation of the award-winning musical set in New York's East Village. Based on Puccini's "La Boheme," the story follows a group of bohemians through life's ups and down as they face true love, broken hearts, HIV, drug addiction … and of course, paying the rent.

What I liked about the movie: The music done by the original cast members.  Chris Columbus does a fine job of adapting the play to film.

What I didn't like: Rosario Dawson appeared to be out of her league compared to the other performers.  It appears that the studio wanted a named actor or actress in one of the roles.  Unfortunately, her signing is only as good as an American Idol semi-finalist.

Saving Face:*** (out of 5)

Rent: ***

"Just Like Heaven" & "Elizabethtown"

I don't know if other people have the same problem I have, but I sometimes get Reese Witherspoon and Kirsten Dundst mixed up.  I don't get confused when I see a photo of either of them.  The mixup happens when recalling movies they may have done.  I know the Reese Witherspoon has had memorable roles in Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama, Highway, and the recent Walk the Line. I know Kirsten Dundst is known for the Spider-man movies, Jumanji, and Bring It On.  Come to think of it, maybe I don't have a problem recalling what roles they have done.  I think I just may have had a blonde moment or I'm not sure how to start a review for two of their movies Farrah and I just watched on DVD.

The first movie is the light romantic comedy featuring Reese W. called Just Like Heaven. The //Netflix summary is:

Shortly after David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo) moves into his new San Francisco digs, he has an unwelcome visitor on his hands: winsome Elizabeth Martinson (Reese Witherspoon), who asserts that the apartment is hers -- and promptly vanishes. When she starts appearing and disappearing at will, David thinks she's a ghost, while Elizabeth is convinced she's alive. Their quest for the truth ultimately leads to love in this spectral romantic comedy.

What I liked about the movie: Reese Witherspoon did a fine job as the career driven, yet lovable, doctor.  I also liked the fact the story was set in San Francisco, though it didn't really play any major role in the film expect some shots of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Just Like Heaven

What I didn't like: Mark Ruffalo isn't romantic lead material.  I think he's more suited for dramatic roles.  He reminds me of Vincent D'Onofrio, who isn't romantic lead material as well, though he is a very fine actor.

The story follows the romantic comedy formula to the "t".  How can you have a romance when one of the character's is dead?  Well, you'll have to watch the movie to find out.

For Elizabethtown, the //Netflix summary goes:

Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) is fired after causing his shoe company to lose hundreds of millions of dollars. To make matters worse, he's also dumped by his girlfriend (Jessica Biel). On the verge of ending it all, Drew gets a new lease on life when he returns to his family's small Kentucky hometown after his father dies. Along the way, he meets a flight attendant (Kirsten Dunst) with whom he falls in love. Cameron Crowe directs.

What I liked about the movie: The actors are very likable, with good supporting roles for Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon.  You can recognize Cameron Crowe's words, who has a good ear for dialog, coming out of the actors' mouths.  He captures a portion of America I've never personally experienced, and one that Orlando Bloom's Drew hasn't either, and manages to make the discovery a shared experience.  I enjoyed the road trip portion of the movie.  The music is on par with other Crowe movies.  He writes so well, though....

Elizabethtown

What I didn't like: ...some of the editing in the movie I didn't like.  I understood, as I was watching the movie, that there was more to background on why the shoe failed and was recalled.  This bugged me throughout the movie, even though I understand the specific fact of why it failed wasn't important as much as the failure itself.  There also didn't seem to be enough development in some characters, such as Jessica Biel's as the girlfriend, and development in relationships, such as between Orlando Bloom's Drew and his mother played by Susan Sarandon.

Just Like Heaven: ** (out of five)

Elizabethtown: ***1/2

"Hitch" & "Must Love Dogs"

Just finished watching [Hitch] on DVD.  The movie stars the likeable Will Smith as a matchmaker for men.  Hitch puts his clients in the best possible situation to succeed in having the women of their dreams fall in love with them.  "The rest is up to you", he says.

Hitch Movie Poster

The movie has some pretty good pacing the cast (Smith, Kevin James, Eva Mendes, and Amber Valletta) are very likeable and funny in their own way.  There are predictable portions of the movie, but they are pulled off well.

[Must Love Dogs] on the other hand has two likeable actors in a poorly scripted movie.  We find Diane Lane playing a recently divorced woman who is being pushed by her family into the dating scene.  To help her along, one of her sisters posts Lane's character's profile on an online dating service.  It is through there she meets a slew of men, including the recently divorced John Cusack.  From there the fun begins.

Must Love Dogs Movie Poster

What doesn't work in this movie is the writing.  The actors are likeable enough, oozing charisma off the screen.  If only they had some smart words to say, as they would in real life, and not the dribble that pours out of their mouths, it would make this film a much more pleasant experience.

Hitch: B+

Must Love Dogs: D-

Batman Begins

Batman Begins

Rating: **** out of 5

Quick shot: The movie chronicles the Batman's beginnings.

What I liked about the move:

It's back to the serious Batman.  The storyline is very well structured, good acting all around, and Gotham City looks like an actual city.  Plus Batman's toys are pretty cool as well.

What I didn't like: 

Bale's Batman voice didn't do it for me, except for one scene where he was very effective.  Go catch this movie either in primetime or a matinee.  Worth seeing!

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Rating: *** out of five

Quick shot: Boy and girl meet. Boy and girl get married. Boy and girl are spies for competing agencies and don't know it. Boy and girl must kill each other, or die trying. Will this have a happy ending

What I liked about the movie: Good action - gun play, hand-to-hand combat, and car chases. Good chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Fair and snappy dialog

What I didn't like: The distracting choice of hand held camera movement during some quiet moments during the film. The latter third of the film had issues resolved suddenly.

Overall a good matinee movie.