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May 7th, 2007

Spider-man 3

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"Uncle Ben wouldn't want us living with revenge in our hearts, it's like a poison. It can take you over and turn us into something ugly." -- Aunt May

After a long wait by fans everywhere, Spider-man 3 arrived in theatres this past weekend beginning the summer season of big blockbuster sequels. Often the question that enters one's mind is "Is it worth seeing in theatres?" The answer is yes. And I wouldn't be doing my duty if I just ended this review there.

Spider-man 3 opens with Spider-man (and, consequently Peter Parker) feeling on top of the world. The people of New York love Spider-man and it seems to go to Peter's head and he seems a little removed from reality. But, as is typical of comic book movies, the ball gets rolling immediately. Barely five minutes into the movie and Thomas Haden Church's character, Flint Marko, is turned into The Sandman and just as quickly a meteorite strikes near Peter and Mary Jane as they share an intimate moment hanging in a spiderweb that brings that dreaded symbiote to Earth. But the villain buck doesn't stop there. Remember Harry Osborn, son of the billionaire Norman Osborn who died in the first movie. Well, he's still mad at Peter and takes up his father place as a new, more 'hip', Green Goblin.

So how does the movie fare in balancing three different villains? Surprisingly well given the fact that there are movies that can barely handle two villains well (Batman and Robin comes to mind). Even though it is more of a side-note as opposed to the main plot, at times Harry's Green Goblin is more interesting then either Sandman or Venom. Sandman does pose the greatest physical threat, and Venom is just insane. The only problem is Venom is only in the movie briefly, leaving the audience wanting more.

But a movie is more than just villains, it's story as well. The story moves quickly as the producers etc. are trying to cover as much ground as they can with the six movies they intend to make. Each scene is important to the plot and if you aren't paying attention the whole time, you will miss something. That bodes well for a movie with a two and a half hour runtime. The emotional conflict in Spider-man 3 become slightly more psychological thanks to the symbiote which drives Peter to do some rather shocking things.

Critics everywhere have been hailing this movie as the best of the trilogy. This is misleading because they seem to be watching for the emotional content as opposed to what Spider-man movie-goers care for: high-flying action sequences. This movie does have that, but none of the sequences seem to hit it out of the park. They are still fun to watch, just not as exciting as they could be. Spider-man 3 is a very good entry into the franchise, but it didn't beat Spider-man 2. They need to bring back the well-established actors for the role of the villains.

Final Verdict:
7.5 out 10 stars


April 22nd, 2007

Grindhouse

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"This car is 100% death proof, only to get the benefit of it honey, you really need to be sitting my seat!" -- Stuntman Mike, Death Proof

After a rather long break, I am back and reviewing! Just in time too as in two weeks, Spider-man 3 is set to release with Shrek the Third and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End following not too far behind. But to kick off this summer's viewing experiences is none other than the Rodriguez/Tarantino double-bill Grindhouse. It is a roller coaster of thrills, chills, and definitely a whole bunch of spills (yes, I realise that was cheesy, but so is the movie!).

Cheese, however is good -- unless your lactose intolerant. Thankfully, this kind of cheese is lactose free and can be enjoyed by everyone, but everyone failed to do so. For some reason, Grindhouse was overlooked by the average movie-goer. It's a shame because it was an amazingly fun experience.

So let's stop beating around bush and actually get at the trunk of the story. Grindhouse was set up by two movie geeks who grew up frequenting actual grindhouses, theatres that showed nothing but B-movies -- often as a double-bill -- which would exploit sex and violence since they didn't have the big budget to back them up. This movie was an homage to an age gone by, and I feel it was an experiment by Rodriguez and Tarantino. Grindhouse has two, full-length movies back to back; the first by Robert Rodriguez, the second by Quentin Tarantino. In between were fake trailers advertising fake grindhouse movies made by guest directors like Rob Zombie and Eli Roth.

First up, is Planet Terror, the zombie flick by Robert Rodriguez starring Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Marley Shelton and Josh Brolin, with a cameo by Bruce Willis. It follows a group of normal small town folk who are suddenly given the task of fighting off a hoard of zombies. Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), and Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) lead the group of vigilantes against the mindless hoard, one of whom is Doc Block (Josh Brolin) Dakota's husband. Planet Terror is all action. It will make you cheer, it will make cringe, and it will make you jump. Just a warning, if blood and puss (including a combination of the two) make you queasy, its not a good idea to see this movie.

Second on the docket: Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino. This movie is a slasher movie given the Tarantino treatment. Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) loves his cars. He also likes women. Or more specifically, killing them with his car. Death Proof has seen more than its fair share of negative criticisms regarding the extensive dialogue present, but what those folks fail to remember is this movie was made by Tarantino, a dialogue master. He will obviously flaunt what he does well. But what steals the show is Kurt Russell's performance. Now, before seeing Grindhouse I had read the scripts for both movies. Even knowing what was going to happen, Kurt Russell's Stuntman Mike was still a really scary guy. And his random appearances as we followed the two groups of girls around made you go "Hey! There's Stuntman Mike again!" Tarantino made Stuntman Mike a stalker without explicitly telling you, the way information like that should be portrayed.

Grindhouse was truly an event. An event that only a few have experienced and ever will. Rumour has it that Death Proof and Planet Terror will be released on separate DVD's instead of on Grindhouse DVD. If this is the case, many people will miss out, and have missed out, on a unique movie experience.

My verdict: 4 out of 5 stars


February 16th, 2007

Lucky Number Slevin

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Mistaken identity is something people encounter all the time. It's natural to think someone is one person when they are really another, but usually, the mistaken one figures out their error. Lucky Number Slevin is a film about mistaken identity, but in this case those in the wrong don't care that they made a mistake.

Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) is at his friend Nick Fisher's apartment when he meets Sloe and Elvis, two guys who work for The Boss (Morgan Freeman). Sloe and Elvis mistake Slevin for Nick Fisher and take him to see The Boss, which places Slevin in a war between crime lords: The Boss versus The Rabbi (Sir Ben Kingsley).

When I sat down to view this movie, I was expecting a simple crime thriller involving many assassins killing each other (a la Smokin' Aces) but what I got was much, much better. Yes it had assassins, and yes there was killing, but the story kept you on your toes the whole time and kept smacking you in the face with intriguing twist after intriguing twist. It is the most relentless crime thriller I have seen since The Departed and it ranks right up there in my list of favourite crime movies.

Lucky Number Slevin is a lot of fun, especially once you throw Bruce Willis' character into the mix: Goodkat. He is a world renowned assassin, but no one knows what he looks like and he takes a deep interest in Slevin's activities. And that's all I'm going to say. You'll have to see it yourself.

Final Verdict:
3.5 out of 5 stars

January 22nd, 2007

Okay, so I apologize for missing last week. I had a lot on my mind and completely forgot about this. Let's get back on track, shall we?

This past weekend, Jan 19 to 21, Stomp the Yard took the box office once more. Will it hold its spot once more or will it finally step on down from the podium? Let's take a look at the competition.

Opening This Week
Blood and Chocolate
Catch and Release
Epic Movie
Smokin' Aces


My Pick of the Week
This week, I'll be able to pick out of the selection of opening movies. The only two movies that seem worth my time would be Blood and Chocolate and Smokin' Aces. The only problem I foresee with Blood and Chocolate is it seems too close to Underworld to merit dropping $10 for it. Therefore, I would go see Smokin' Aces.

Smokin' Aces stars Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, and Ryan Reynolds. Buddy "Aces" Israel, a Las Vegas performer, has ticked off a lot of people in his move to testify against the mob. Just before he is placed under witness protection, he decides to have one last run at the tables, when the mobs moves in.

Hilarity ensues. And by hilarity I mean assassins bent on murdering Buddy Israel.

Box Office Prediction
Given the opening movies, I'd say it would be a safe bet that we have seen Night at the Museum's last stand as box office tops. Either Blood and Chocolate or Smokin' Aces will do the job. Judging by the trailers for each movie, Blood and Chocolate will probably draw the college crowd, so I'm going to say Blood and Chocolate will take the box office followed by Smokin' Aces. If it is the other way around I will not be shocked.

As a side not, let's hope Epic Movie crashes and burns like the piece of crap it is.

January 13th, 2007

Children of Men

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I can't really remember when I last had any hope, and I certainly can't remember when anyone else did either. Because really, since women stopped being able to have babies, what's left to hope for?

Hope. That's all these people have left to hold on to. The year is 2027, 18 years after the youngest person on Earth was born. The year is 2027 when the youngest person on Earth dies. The people in this movie's world are desparate as all of man kind is heading straight to extinction. Not because they are being killed off by some superior race, but because women can't get pregnant.

From this synopsis, you would think main character Theo and those helping him would be trying to find the solution to this problem. But it's not. The movie is about survival; the survival of one person, one girl named Kee.

Clive Owen, Michael Caine, and Julianne Moore star in this dramatic thriller of humanity's downfall. It is a gripping, unrelenting tale of survival. Clive Owen (Theo) reluctantly has to escort Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) to something called The Human Project out at sea. But they have to get there first.

While this is going on around Theo, the government are cracking down on illegal immigrants, which Kee just happens to be. Illegal immigrants, however, often end up dead.

The whole movie is exciting and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The whole human race has become incredibly desparate, the level of which was demonstrated through a single newscast covering the death of Diego Ricardo, Earth's youngest person. He was regarded as a celebrity not because of what he did, but because of what he was. When they announced how old he was, they didn't stop at saying 18 years old; they went right down to "18 years, 4 months, 20 days, 16 hours and 8 minutes old". It's all in these little details of the movie when you really, truly understand the state of affairs in Children of Men.

But what I enjoyed most were the technicalities of the film. In the past, we have had many, many films full of CGI and special effects making movies more visually impressive. Now, movies like Children of Men have chosen the minimalist route. People want to share the story, they want to feel it. This film has done it spectacularly. There is next to no CGI, save for some minor details in the background which is how CGI should be used. Where the movie really stand out though, is the camera work. The camera work places you right in the action and doesn't let you go until it is done. This is done by shooting entire action sequences in one take, the most impressive take lasting probably around 10 minutes. This technique is incredibly original and has only been used by the really artsy-fartsy directors to make visually neat music videos. When applied as it has in Children of Men it makes for a very exciting, very real experience. The audience no longer feels like passive observer watching a gun fight, they are a part of the gun fight.

Basically, go see this movie while you can.

Final Verdict:

4.5 out of 5 stars.


January 12th, 2007

After a short break for the holidays, it's time I return to do my duty: help decide on which movie to see. Due to popular demand I am going to start writing reviews to the movies I see, my first starting tomorrow. But tonight, I shall restart my Box Office Predictions segment.

My last prediction said Apocalypto would receive top honours at the box office. It did on it opening week. Let's stop looking to the past and place our attention on the present.

Opening Week of Jan 12
In wide release...
Alpha Dog
Primeval
Stomp the Yard


My Recommendation
Out of the three wide release movies, I would suggest Alpha Dog. There has been a lot of buzz surrounding this movie as it is Justin Timberlake's premiere on the big screen. This is not why I am recommending it. Base on a true story, this movie is about Jesse James Hollywood and the youngest men ever to be on the FBI's most wanted list. Other than that, I don't expect much from this movie.

Box Office Prediction
Last week, Night at the Museum was number one in the box office. There hasn't really been a whole lot of buzz surrounding any of the three movies out this week, save for Alpha Dog. However, I don't think Alpha Dog will do too well. Therefore, I'd have to say Night at the Mueseum.

December 16th, 2006

ANNOUNCEMENT

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FOr the next few weeks, the box office predictions will be down as I will be nowhere near my computer. So just to recap the last actual Box Office Predictions, I said Apocalypto would bring in the big money on the weekend, and I was right once again. Ever since my switch of sources, my predictions have been right on the money.

"Every penny of it."

Sorry, had a Casino Royale moment there.

BUt of course now that I've pointed that out, I'm going to start the new year with a bad prediction. Oh well.

For those on holiday, happy holidays. For those who aren't, see you in the new year.

December 5th, 2006

Last week, I had announced I would be using a new source, and so far it has been paying off. Happy Feet and Casino Royale were my picks for number 1 and number 2 spot in the box office, respectively. I was right. Once again, Casino Royale is riding the tails of a bunch of happy penguins in the box office. They were followed by Deja Vu in third place. Nativity Story came in fourth.

Now since the synopsis is complete...
Opening This Week
Apocalypto
Blood Diamond
The Holiday
Unaccompanied Minors


My Pick of the Week
For those already into the holiday spirit, The Holiday is an obvious choice. The only problem, I'm not that big into romantic comedies, thought that one does look entertaining. It stars Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Jack Black. An odd cast mix, but it does actually look rather amusing. Though, if I were going to the theatres to watch one of the opening movies, I would go see Blood Diamond. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly. Exactly what this movie is about, I'm not completely sure, but it does pique my interest.

Box Office Prediction
This weekend I believe will be the weekend we see either Happy Feet or Casino Royale drop out of the top 2, but not both. The battle will be between Apocalypto and Blood Diamond. It's a tough call this week because Happy Feet and Casino Royale are still highly popular, but Apocalypto is directed by Mel Gibson. Here's where it gets tough. With his recent drunken antics, that may hurt his popularity. But will it damage it enough to cost him the box office, I don't know. I'm going to cautiously say Apocalypto will take tops, but if it doesn't, the charts won't change a whole lot.

November 27th, 2006

Right, so, to cap off the last BOP (Box Office Prediction) I did, which I do believe was on the 17th, I had predicted Casino Royale would be the big one out of the box. Apparently, people want penguins seeing as Happy Feet took the top spot, but not by much! In fact, in terms of box office, it was so close, I would even call it a semi-tie. But let's see what happens this week.

Opening This Week!!!
National Lampoon's Van Wilder: Rise of Taj
The Nativity Story
Turistas


My Pick!
Once again, this week there are no movies releasing that I really care to see. Of the movies already in theatres, I'd like to see either Deja Vu or Casino Royale. Seeing as this weekend I am actually going to see Casino Royale again, I am going to have to go with Casino Royale. It was an amazing movie and definitely a worthy addition to the Bond franchise.

The Box Office Prediction
If there is a box office race this weekend, it will be between National Lampoon's Van Wilder: Rise of Taj and Turistas. With the previous top two still making $30 million+ a week, I honestly do not think either Van Wilder or Turistas will beat out Happy Feet or Casino Royale as the latter still has yet to open in many places in the world. I think Happy Feet will hold steady at number one and Casino Royale will remain number 2.

November 26th, 2006

New sources!!!

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If you have been wondering why my weekly feature, Box Office Predictions, hasn't been so weekly lately it is because I've been having some source problems. The original site I was using for my entries was letting me down, saying some movies released when in fact they haven't and vice versa. But, after some searching I have found a new source for the feature and I should be getting things back on track.

Expect the new, more accurate, Box Office Predictions segment premiering this week!!!


P.S. Coming Soon! A brand new feature to the Inner Sanctum! Stay tuned for details.
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