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Nicholas Williams "movie, music, and book fan" RSS Feed (Memphis, TN United States)

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most intense Grisham film adaption since "The Firm"!!, November 3, 2003
Based on the bestseller by John Grisham, "Runaway Jury" is, without a doubt, one of the finest and most thrilling Grisham adaptions ever made since "The Firm", "The Pelican Brief", "The Client", "A Time to Kill", "The Chamber", and "The Rainmaker"! "Runaway Jury", to me, is also, by far, a slick and intense thriller that reminds us as to why we go to the movies in the first place! The direction of Gary Fleder ("Don't Say A Word") is brilliant and powerful! The performances of John Cusack ("High Fidelity"), Rachel Weisz (The "Mummy" films), and Academy Award-winners Gene Hackman (Best Supporting Actor, 1992: "Unforgiven") and Dustin Hoffman (Best Actor, 1988: "Rain Man") were top-notch and commanding, especially the performances of Hackman and Hoffman, who, in real life, were former roommates and have known each other since 1956. And, on another note, Hackman is no stranger to Grisham territory, since "Runaway Jury" is his third Grisham film (The other two were 1993's "The Firm" and 1996's "The Chamber").
"Runaway Jury" calls the attention to a case that is involving a major gun manufacturer. When a young widow (Joanna Going) in New Orleans brings a civil suit against the powerful corporate consortium she holds responsible for her husband's (an uncredited Dylan McDermott) murder, she sets in motion a multi-million dollar case. But it's a suit that may be won even before it begins -- based solely on the selection, manipulation, and, ultimately, the attempted "theft" of the jury. Representing the widow is Wendall Rohr (Hoffman), a courtly Southern lawyer with a moral center and a heartfelt passion for the case that he's presenting. His opponent is ostensibly the attorney representing the corporation. But in reality, defense counsel is only the front man for Rankin Fitch (Hackman), a brilliant and ruthless jury consultant. At a high-tech command center set up in an old French Quarter warehouse, Fitch and his team work on the surveillance and assessment of potential jurors. He will know everything about their lives, and strategically manipulate the jury selection process. The only acceptable result is the perfect jury to vote in favor of his client. Fitch and Rohr soon realize that they're not the only ones out to win the jury. One of the jurors, Nick Easter (Cusack), seems to have his own plan for swaying the panel. And a mysterious woman known only as Marlee (Weisz) contacts both Rohr and Fitch telling them the jury's for sale to either of them -- and that the verdict won't come cheap. While the case is argued in court, a cat-and-mouse game begins to play out in New Orleans' French Quarter. Rohr's morality is put to the test, and Fitch is poised to cross the line from selecting a jury to stealing it -- no matter who gets hurt in the process. And, to Fitch, it's all in the name of securing a favorable verdict.
In conclusion, "Runaway Jury" has outstanding performances from Cusack, Hackman, Hoffman, and Weisz, especially the scene-stealing performances of both Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman in a memorable scene together! "Runaway Jury" also has a strong supporting cast, including Bruce Davison (The "X-Men" films), Bruce McGill ("The Sum of All Fears"), Jeremy Piven ("Serendipity"), Jennifer Beals ("Flashdance"), and the two uncredited appearances of Dylan McDermott (TV's "The Practice") and Luis Guzman ("Anger Management"), in which they gave great performances as well. The film also has slick, fast-paced suspense and an excellent and powerful storyline. "Runaway Jury" is John Cusack's best since "Identity"; Gene Hackman's best since "Unforgiven"; Dustin Hoffman's best since "Rain Man"; and Rachel Weisz's best since "Chain Reaction"! A DVD must-own to my John Grisham movie collection when released!

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52 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Mystic River" is Eastwood's finest masterpiece to date!, October 27, 2003
Directed by double Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood (Best Director and Best Picture, "Unforgiven" (1992)) from a screenplay by Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential"), based on a bestseller by ace mystery writer Dennis Lehane, and starring such respected, actorly heavyweights as Sean Penn ("I Am Sam"), Tim Robbins ("Mission to Mars"), Kevin Bacon ("Flatliners"), Laurence Fishburne (The "Matrix" films), Marcia Gay Harden ("Meet Joe Black"), and Laura Linney ("The Mothman Prophecies"), "Mystic River" has as unimpeachable a pedigree as any American studio film in history. And though it may not quite be the masterpiece that the early buzz suggests, it certainly makes the most of the tremendous talents at its disposal. A mournful meditation on revenge and guilt, "Mystic River" is perhaps Eastwood's most mature and moving examination yet of what has always been his great subject: the peculiarly American juxtaposition of vigilante violence and official justice.
The film flows from two linked moments of violence, which, in turn, beget other violence -- one moment that pulls three childhood friends apart and another, 30 years later, that brings them back together. "Mystic River" opens in the '70s (the period established by a transistor radio broadcasting a Red Sox game with Luis Tirant on the mound), in a working-class neighborhood, as three boys play street hockey. There's Dave, who seems a little slow, Jimmy, a reckless kid who wants to steal a neighborhood car for joyriding, and Sean, a cautious kid who frowns on Jimmy's plan. Finding a slab of sidewalk where the concrete is still wet, the boys begin writing their names only to be confronted by two older men posing as cops, who take Dave away in the back of their car, where he is kept for several days and sexually abused before escaping. Flashing forward to the same neighborhood decades later, Dave (Robbins) is an introverted husband and father who doesn't seem to have quite recovered from his childhood ordeal. Jimmy (Penn) is an ex-con who runs a corner grocery store in the neighborhood but is still crime-connected. And Sean (Bacon) is now a Boston homicide detective, an outsider in the old neighborhood, working his beat with an astute African-American partner named Whitey (Fishburne). Jimmy and Dave are still friends -- Jimmy's ice-queen wife Annabeth (Linney) is a cousin of Dave's warm but (understandibly) skittish wife Celeste (Harden) -- but all three friends are brought together when Jimmy's 19 year-old daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) turns up missing, and later dead, on the same night that Dave returns home late covered in someone else's blood. A distraught Jimmy, not waiting for the legal system to work, has a couple of his neighborhood goons out looking for the killer, while Sean is assigned to work the case. (The parallel police and underworld investigations might be a nod to Fritz Lang's serial-killer masterpiece 'M', which would only be a beginning to the debt "Mystic River" owes to Lang's artful police procedurals.) As Sean and Whitey investigate the case, dual clues point strongly to two suspects: Dave, one of the last people to see Katie alive, and a neighborhood boy whom she had been dating.
By acclimation, "Mystic River" is Clint Eastwood's finest film since 1992's Oscar-winner "Unforgiven", and you'll find no argument here. A handsome, old-fashioned film, it's so stately, so measured, and so elegant that it acts as a formal rebuke to most other contemporary studio takes on this kind of material. "Mystic River" is a mystery spiked with deep emotion and considerable gravitas. It has a tremendous feel for its location, for this almost tribal old-school neighborhood on the brink of gentrification. It's marked by a tight vocabulary of formal elements -- sure crosscutting and sweeping pans over the film's title waterway. Most of all, it seems intentionally driven by a vast series of doubles and rhymes: two wives, two mute witnesses, two murders, two investigations, two friends whose lives go in opposite directions, two heartbreaking shots -- 30 years apart -- of Dave in the backseat of a car being taken away. And this matches the film's series of actorly one-on-one confrontations: Dave and Celeste, Dave and Jimmy, Celeste and Jimmy, Jimmy and Sean, Jimmy and Annabeth. But Eastwood's precise, conservative direction makes room for occasional visual flourishes, such as the operatic matching aerial shots that show Katie's bloodied, beaten body, found in a park, and nearby Jimmy howling as he's held back by a phalanx of cops.
As one might expect, "Mystic River" is as much an actor's film as it is a director's. Its performances are uniformly excellent, with Sean Penn's and Tim Robbins' showy turns perhaps bested by Marcia Gay Harden, whose doting but doubtful wife is perhaps the film's most tragic figure. "Mystic River" isn't perfect. Laura Linney's underwritten part makes Annabeth's sinister, ruthless late transformation seem awkward and abrupt, and sometimes Eastwood reaches a little too much for effect (or for the Oscar) when the generally understated music swells more than necessary. But these are just quibbles.
"I'm gonna find him. I'm gonna find him before the police do and I'm gonna kill him," Jimmy says as he stands over Katie's lifeless body. His insistence on keeping that promise is the source of Eastwood's most effective critique yet of American vigilante justice. "Mystic River" ends with a patriotic neighborhood parade, all the film's major characters in the crowd. It looks welcoming and friendly, but for one character it's a moment of horror and loss that brings "Mystic River" full circle. In conclusion, a powerful cast and superb direction by Clint Eastwood makes this story of violence and justice an unforgettable one. A DVD must-own when released!

The Adventures of Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark / The Temple of Doom / The Last Crusade / Bonus Material)
The Adventures of Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark / The Temple of Doom / The Last Crusade / Bonus Material)
DVD ~ Harrison Ford
Offered by GottaSeeOdyssey
Price: $119.95
133 used & new from $7.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The mother of all trilogies is finally immortalized on DVD!!, October 22, 2003
Before there was ever a "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider", there was only one name..."Indiana Jones"!! It's been 12 years in the making (despite theatrical releases and several video releases), but it was worth the wait! On Oct. 21, Paramount Home Entertainment has finally released "The Adventures of Indiana Jones: The Complete DVD Movie Collection" on DVD! Director Steven Spielberg ("Jaws") and creator George Lucas ("Star Wars") have really outdone themselves this time! And best of all, superstar Harrison Ford gives us not one, not two, but three of his best performances ever in his career that is "Indiana Jones"! Here are my comments on all three films:
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981):
This is the film that started it all. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was released in the summer of 1981 and it quickly became the highest-grossing film of the year and also became one of the greatest adventures of all time. "Raiders" is set in 1936, and the film introduces us to Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. (Ford), a renowned archaeologist, a world-class adventurer, and an expert in the occult, whose quest for rare and priceless antiquities find him constantly running from one bad guy to another. During the film, Indiana (or "Indy") is hired by the U.S. Government to find the Ark of the Covenant, which is believed to still hold the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, agents of Hitler are also after the Ark. So Indy reluctantly teams up with Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), one of Indy's old flames as they search for the Ark while dodging bullets, confronting snakes, and staying one step ahead of the Nazis while traveling on a quest that takes Indy and Marion from Nepal to Cairo. The strong supporting cast (including Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, and Denholm Elliott) really takes "Raiders" to true classic status.
"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984):
This second film in the "Indiana Jones" series is actually a prequel set 10 years before the events of "Raiders of the Lost Ark". "The Temple of Doom" is considered to be the darkest film of the whole series, and it pretty much caused the MPAA to create the rated "PG-13" rating, but that's not a bad thing because "The Temple of Doom" is looser, more imaginative, and more satisfying. "Temple" focuses on Indy teaming up with Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw), a nightclub singer, and a 12 year-old named Short Round (Ke Huy Quan, "The Goonies"). After somewhat of a clean getaway by double-crossing bad guys, Indy, Willie, and Short Round end up in an Indian village, where the people believe that evil spirits have taken their children away after a sacred stone was stolen. Indy agrees to try and retrieve the stone for the villagers. As it turns out, the children are being kidnapped by the evil Thuggee cult, whose leader dabbles with black magic with the stone that Indy is seeking. While watching "The Temple of Doom", look for a brief cameo by Dan Aykroyd at the beginning of the film as he hustles Indy and company into a getaway plane.
"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989):
This third "Indiana Jones" film is, to me, my favorite Indy film of all time because not only does it recapture some of the best elements from "Raiders of the Lost Ark", not only does Harrison Ford do a tremendous job in this film, it also has legendary actor Sean Connery ("The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen") along for the ride as well! "The Last Crusade" focuses on Indy saving the world once again from Nazis. During the film, the Nazis have kidnapped Indy's father, Prof. Henry Jones, Sr. (Connery), for his diary, which contains maps and first-hand accounts of many of the world's most sacred and hidden items. One of these such items, the Holy Grail, is what the Nazis are after, and is the reason they had kidnapped Prof. Jones and his diary. Indy then must make his way into the "lion's den" -- Nazi Germany -- in order to save his father, his diary, and the Holy Grail -- all from the Nazis. This film also has a couple of familiar faces from "Raiders of the Lost Ark": Denholm Elliott as 'Marcus Brody' and John Rhys-Davies as 'Sallah'. And also, while watching "Crusade", look for a cameo appearance at the beginning of the film by the late River Phoenix as the young Indy character.
"Indiana Jones Bonus Material" disc:
Now for the even greater part: Not only do you get all three "Indiana Jones" films on DVD, there is also a 4th disc containing over 3 hours of bonus material, including a feature-length documentary on the making of the Indy trilogy, featurettes on the sound, stunts, and music of Indiana Jones, the light and magic of Indiana Jones, trailers for all three films, and link to the original Indiana Jones website!
In conclusion, this is the trilogy that die-hard Indiana Jones fans like myself have been waiting years for! Paramount has certainly picked the right time to release this boxed set on DVD! A trilogy such as this in my DVD collection is priceless!

The Italian Job
The Italian Job
DVD ~ Donald Sutherland
Offered by booksaremyfriends
Price: $4.63
415 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best crime caper that I've seen since "Ocean's Eleven"!!, October 2, 2003
This review is from: The Italian Job (DVD)
Even though I never really seen the original 1969 version of "The Italian Job" with Michael Caine, this explosive 2003 remake is, hands down, the best crime film that I've seen since the 2001 remake of "Ocean's Eleven", especially since "The Italian Job" has suspense at every twist and turn, compelling and daring escapes, and excellent cinematography! The hard-edged direction of F. Gary Gray ("The Negotiator") was nothing short of excellent! The talents of Mark Wahlberg ("Planet of the Apes"), Charlize Theron ("The Devil's Advocate"), Edward Norton ("The Score"), Seth Green (The "Austin Powers" films), Jason Statham ("The Transporter", "Snatch"), Mos Def ("Brown Sugar"), and Donald Sutherland ("A Time to Kill") were top-notch, powerful, and commanding!
This remake of the 1969 film focuses on career criminal Charlie Croker (Wahlberg) and his team: computer expert Lyle (Green), wheelman Handsome Rob (Statham), explosives expert Left Ear (Mos Def), and inside man Steve (Norton). Along with Charlie's mentor/veteran safecracker John Bridger (Sutherland), the team has successfully pulled off a daring heist at a heavily guarded palazzo in Venice, Italy. The prize: $35 million worth of gold bullion! After a clean getaway, Charlie and the crew experienced a threat that they never saw coming...a double-crosser! As it turns out, Steve just happened to be the double-crosser! And the end result: The death of John Bridger and leaving the rest of the team for dead as well! A year later, Charlie and the team find Steve in Los Angeles and they decide to get some long-awaited revenge, but they couldn't do it alone. This is where John Bridger's daughter, Stella (Theron), comes into the picture. Stella is an expert safecracker with nerves of steel like her father, and the murder of her father provides much of the drive for the conflict of the film. Stella reluctantly joins Charlie and the gang as they come up with a brilliantly smart and devious plan. The plan: To re-steal the gold by tapping into L.A.'s traffic control system and manipulate signals, thus creating one of the biggest traffic jams in L.A.'s history! Also included in the plan is that once they have reclaimed the gold, they can get away in their speedy, but versatile, Mini Cooper automobiles, which are small enough to drive on sidewalks so they can make a clean getaway before the massive traffic jam clears. Like Charlie says in the film, "We'll do it like the Italian Job." Because you see, this isn't about the money. This isn't about payoff. It's about payback!
In conclusion, "The Italian Job" has lots of action, harrowing suspense, brilliant stuntwork, lots of surprises, and outstanding performances from a top-notch cast! This is, by far, a DVD must-have to your crime caper collection! If you love movies such as this, then look no further than "The Italian Job"!

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No one does it better than Kate Beckinsale in "Underworld"!!, September 23, 2003
About a day ago, I managed to see "Underworld" at the theater, and this is what I think about the film...OUTSTANDING!! "Underworld" has so much action, unrelenting suspense, and mind-blowing special effects that make "Blade" seem like a walk to grandma's house! With intense direction by first-time director Len Wiseman, "Underworld" has an excellent cast led by the lovely Kate Beckinsale ("Cold Comfort Farm", "Pearl Harbor") in what is sure to be one of the best performances ever in her career. Joining Kate are Scott Speedman ("Dark Blue", "Duets"), Michael Sheen ("The Four Feathers"), Shane Brolly ("Impostor"), and Bill Nighy ("Love Actually") in which they, too, gave outstanding performances.
"Underworld" focuses on a thousand-year war between vampires and werewolves. Centered in the middle of the war is Selene (Beckinsale), a beautiful vampire warrior, or "Death Dealer" as she calls herself. She exists solely to slaughter a band of werewolves known as "Lycans" that her clan has been battling for centuries. Although she is aligned with the vampires, Selene falls for a human turned werewolf named Michael Corvin (Speedman) after she discovers a Lycan plot to kidnap him. When the Lycans try to make their next move on Michael, Selene is there to fend off their vicious assault. As Selene races to save Michael and unravel the Lycan plot, Selene then discovers a secret that has terrifying repercussions for both tribes -- a secret which threatens to tip the balance of power in favor of the werewolves who have been on the losing of the struggle for centuries. And as far as Selene goes, she must decide if her future with Michael is worth betraying her own people.
In conclusion, "Underworld" has it all! Great action, a powerful storyline, and a pulsating soundtrack that is sure to please just about anyone looking for a spectacular action film. And I especially can't wait for the sequel, especially since the end of "Underworld" was left wide open for one! "Underworld" is, without a doubt, a DVD must-have to my Kate Beckinsale collection! And all I have to say is "Look out, Angelina Jolie! There's a new girl in town, and her name is Kate Beckinsale!"

DVD ~ Christian Bale
195 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the first "Matrix" film, "Equilibrium" is way better!, September 17, 2003
This review is from: Equilibrium (DVD)
When "Equilibrium" came to theaters on a limited release status on December of last year, I knew that I had to see it, but I never had the time, and it was gone before I even had a chance to see it. Now, fast forward to May 13, 2003. "Equilibrium" was released on DVD that day. I went out and bought it and when I got back home, I put the movie in my DVD player, and I sat back and watched what was to be expected in this film, and man, I was not disappointed at all! "Equilibrium" is, hands down, the best sci-fi action thriller ever made (even if it was on a limited budget) since "The Matrix" back in 1999! The direction by Kurt Wimmer (writer for "The Recruit") was top-notch and unforgettable! The performances by Christian Bale ("Reign of Fire"), Taye Diggs ("Basic"), Emily Watson ("Red Dragon"), Angus MacFadyen ("Warriors of Virtue"), Sean Pertwee ("Soldier"), William Fichtner ("Black Hawk Down"), and Sean Bean ("The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring") were outstanding and flawless!
"Equilibrium" takes place in a future which has gone through a third World War. When the war happened, people from all around the world joined together to create Libria, a society that outlawed emotions, simply because emotions are what caused the war in the first place, and that they have let emotion and feeling control them for way too long. In order for people to not experience any emotions whatsoever, they take a day-in, day-out daily dose of an emotion-altering drug called Prozium. Anyone who triggers an emotion within themselves (they are called "sense offenders"), had to be confronted with extreme prejudice. In order to keep the peace in Libria, these sense offenders are monitored and eradicated by a special breed of law enforcement called the Tetragrammaton Clerics. The main character of the film is John Preston (Bale), the nation's highest-ranking Cleric whose sole purpose is to seek out and destroy all those who refuse to submit to the will of Libria. Preston is the prodigal child of Libria's system of unfeeling. Since childhood, he has been trained in the ways of the gun-martial arts that has made him a tool of destruction. Where he goes, death is never far behind. During the film, Preston finds out that his own partner, Partridge (Bean), has been secretly reading books which, on the other hand, triggered an emotion inside of him. So, Preston dealt with Partridge with the only way of justice for Libria...death. After Partridge's death, Preston is assigned a new partner named Brandt (Diggs), a fellow Cleric who is looking to make a career for himself with Preston, etc. During the film, Preston becomes intrigued of both his way of life and of his victims (not to mention that his own wife was a sense offender). So, one day, Preston decides to skip one of his daily Prozium doses and he begins to see clearly that all is not right with the world as it is, especially when he falls for a fellow sense offender named Mary O'Brien (Watson). Before anyone realized that Preston was "off the interval" (stopped taking his drugs and could feel again), he was chosen for a mission of total importance, to seek out and destroy a movement called the Underground, led by its leader, Jurgen (Fichtner), which is the only organized opposition to the State rule. When they are destroyed, Libria will finally be victorious. But what happens next is a personal struggle that will make us all think a little on what makes us human. As the story goes, the audience is witness to a spectacular form of martial arts called "Gun-Kata" that is as entertaining as it is violent, and you'll see what I mean when you watch this movie!
The DVD of "Equilibrium" features two commentaries, one by director Kurt Wimmer and the other by Wimmer and producer Lucas Foster, as well as "Finding Equilibrium", a behind-the-scenes documentary, and some sneak peek trailers. In conclusion, "Equilibrium" is a DVD must-have for your action collection. If you did not have a chance to see "Equilibrium" in theaters, then you must pick up this killer DVD, it will blow you away! I haven't liked an action film this much since "The Matrix", and with "Equilibrium"'s powerful storyline and high-energy action, it will keep you entertained from start to finish! If you love action, suspense, Matrix-like special effects, or just an all-out, rockin' good time, then look no further than "Equilibrium"!!

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
Offered by Out of the Box Warehouse
Price: $13.47
815 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "T3"...not better than "T2", but way better than the first!!, September 10, 2003
About a couple of days after its release, I managed to check out the highly anticipated "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" at the theater, and let me tell you that the film blew me away! Especially since "T3" has spectacular action sequences and awesome special effects from start to finish! Yet, to me, "Terminator 3" is not better than "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (which will forever remain one of the best action films of all time), but it is, however, better than the first "Terminator" film from way back in 1984. I do regret them not picking James Cameron to direct "T3", but I do give kudos to director Jonathan Mostow ("U-571") for his intense direction of this film. And guess who's back?! That's right! Superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger ("Collateral Damage") is back in the role that made him a household name..."The Terminator"! Joining him are Nick Stahl ("In The Bedroom"), Claire Danes ("The Hours"), and Kristanna Loken (TV's "Mortal Kombat: Conquest"), in which they gave tremendous performances as well.
"Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" starts out about 12 years after the events of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day". The apocalyptic prediction of Judgment Day was never prevented, only postponed. John Connor (Stahl), now 22, is living "off the grid" (meaning no credit cards, no cell phone, etc.), being totally disconnected from society. During the film, Connor is being pursued by the T-X (Loken), another ruthless killing machine from the future sent by Skynet, the evil supercomputer that controls machines from all around the world. T-X's mission is to pick up where her predecessor (the liquid metal T-1000) left off: to stop Connor from becoming the savior of mankind. Then, soon enough, an obsolete, disadvantaged T-850 Terminator (Schwarzenegger) arrives from the future to protect Connor and Kate Brewster (Danes), a girl from his past, in triumphing over the technologically superior T-X and forestall the looming threat of Judgment Day...or it will be the end of life as we know it!
In conclusion, "Terminator 3" has it all: Action, suspense, a powerful storyline, laugh-out-loud humor that Schwarzenegger can always provide us with, and pulse-pounding special effects! "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" is, without a doubt, one of the best action films that I've seen all summer and will be an unforgettable DVD must-have addition to the first two "Terminator" films!

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars "X2" is way, way better and has more action than the first!!, May 7, 2003
I saw director Bryan Singer's ("The Usual Suspects", "X-Men") highly anticipated "X-Men" sequel "X2" at the theater twice and I just couldn't get enough of it! "X2" has more ground-pounding action and suspense, dynamic fighting scenes, more laugh-out-loud humor, and more awesome special effects than what the first "X-Men" film gave you back in 2000! Director Singer did a tremendous job in making this sequel and I see no reason why they should ever replace him in case there is a script for "X3"! The all-star cast from the first film, including Patrick Stewart (TV's "Star Trek: The Next Generation"), Hugh Jackman ("Swordfish"), Ian McKellen ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy), Oscar winner Halle Berry (007: "Die Another Day"), Famke Janssen (007: "Goldeneye"), James Marsden ("Disturbing Behavior"), Anna Paquin ("Finding Forrester"), Rebecca Romijn-Stamos ("Femme Fatale"), and a brief appearance by Bruce Davison ("X-Men"), gave flawless performances all the way, which makes "X2" the best film in their careers! Joining the original cast are Alan Cumming ("Spy Kids"), Brian Cox ("The Ring"), Kelly Hu ("The Scorpion King"), Shawn Ashmore (seen briefly in "X-Men"), and Aaron Stanford ("Tadpole"), in which they too did an outstanding job with their performances.
"X2", in a nutshell, focuses on Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart) and his team of X-Men: Storm (Berry), Cyclops (Marsden), Jean Grey (Janssen), Rogue (Paquin), and last, definitely not least, Wolverine (Jackman), as they and their enemies Magneto (McKellen) and Mystique (Romijn-Stamos) team up against a common enemy. The common enemy: General William Stryker (Cox), a renegade military leader with only one purpose in mind: mutant genocide by way of the Anti-Mutant Registration Act. During the film, "X2" also introduces us to some new characters, including Nightcrawler (Cumming), a.k.a. Kurt Wagner (pronounced "Vagner"), who has the ability to teleport through walls and other objects in no time flat, Iceman (Ashmore), a.k.a. Bobby Drake, who has the ability to freeze anyone or anything he touches, Pyro (Stanford), a.k.a. John, who has the ability to manipulate fire, and Deathstrike (Hu), a.k.a. Yuriko Oyama, who has the same amount of abilities as Wolverine has, but different. And you'll see what I mean when she and Wolverine go head-to-head against each other! The film also talks about Wolverine trying to piece together some answers about his shadowy past that made him what he is right now. And, as with any comic-based film adaptation, there will definitely be some surprises along the way!
In conclusion, "X2", without a doubt, will easily be one of the best summer films ever made (although "X2" will be in competition with "The Matrix: Reloaded", "The Hulk", and "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines"), not to mention that it will be one of the best films of 2003! With powerful storytelling, top-notch performances, suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and special effects that will blow you away, "X2" will be among one of those films that reminds us as to why we go to the movies in the first place! "X2" is a film that you'll want to watch over and over again, and you'll see why when it is released on DVD! And all I have to say is...bring on "X3"!

No Title Available

18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most intelligent slasher films in years!!, April 30, 2003
I finally got the chance to check out "Identity" at the theater, and I just have to say that this is a film that will not only leave you on the edge of your seat, but it's also just as frightening as other thrillers like "The Ring" and "The Sixth Sense"! With intense direction by James Mangold ("Cop Land", "Kate & Leopold", "Girl, Interrupted"), "Identity" has a brilliant all-star cast led by John Cusack ("Grosse Pointe Blank", "Con Air"), one of the most versatile and distinguished actors ever seen on film, in one of his finest performances yet!
"Identity" takes place on a dark and stormy night. By mysterious circumstances, 11 strangers are thrown together at a decaying hotel, trapped between flooded roads and hindered by downed phone lines. Included are: Ed (Cusack), an ex-cop turned bodyguard/chauffeur for an aging movie starlet named Caroline Suzanne (Rebecca DeMornay), Ginny (Clea DuVall) and Lou (William Lee Scott), a quarreling young newlywed couple, a convicted killer (Jake Busey) on his way to prison and his police escort named Rhodes (Ray Liotta), Paris (Amanda Peet), the prostitute with a heart of gold, and a young boy (Bret Loehr) with his mother (Leila Kenzle) and stepfather (John C. McGinley). Oh, and the buggish hotel clerk named Larry (John Hawkes). Everyone has a secret and a problem that complicates their otherwise nighmarish stay at this generically dismal hotel. The young mother, while fixing a flat tire, gets hit by the movie star's limo, with no hospital in sight and no way to call for help. The convict is being transported to a higher-security prison and must spend the night handcuffed to a toilet. But, as with almost all assemblies of wildly disparate individuals, people start dying horribly. Meanwhile, in another part of the state, a judge awaits the arrival of a mentally ill death-row convict who is contesting his death sentence. The storm outside provides the backdrop fro some scary stories and is the odd connection between the killer in the judge's office and the unknown murderer stalking the hotel where the guests check in...but don't check out!
Director James Mangold, once again, has assembled a fine cast. John Cusack emerges from the pack as the central figure in the fight to stay alive. At 37 years old, Cusack is finally maturing vocally and physically into more of a grown-up. And that's one of the things that I like about Cusack and his films. Ray Liotta, however, carries with him the predestination of scariness. In other words, you would love to hate his character in the film. If he's not in a simpy comedy ("Operation Dumbo Drop", "Corrina Corrina"), chances are he's going to scare the living daylights out of you. There's a twist here, and he's not the villain one would expect from a Liotta-laden film, but it's not very long before he peers those "Clockwork Orange"-y eyes into the sight of an impending kill. Rebecca DeMornay amuses briefly as the washed-up starlet. Upon checking in, the hotel clerk observes, "Hey, didn't you use to be that actress?" The same could be said of DeMornay, who spent the late '80s and early '90s getting A-list work in titles like "Risky Business", "Feds", "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle", "Guilty As Sin", and "Backdraft", but disappeared from prominence and into TV and straight-to-video film. Very sad, but nice to see her back in a major release. In addition to the other supporting players are Alfred Molina (upcoming "The Amazing Spider-Man") and Pruitt Taylor Vince ("Trapped"), in which they gave great performances as well.
The plot is not unlike Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Indians' (political correctness has swept the play version of this story into a new name that hints at its story: 'And Then There Were None') where characters drop off one by one until the murderer is revealed. This is the same device used in just about every horror movie, though more obviously adhered to here than most: The killer's trademark is to leave the victim's hotel key under (or in or around) the body. It's a countdown--10, 9, 8, 7... And like "The Sixth Sense", "Identity" lulls you into thinking how exactly everything works and then turns you upside down until you are fooled again into thinking that you've figured it all out.
In conclusion, "Identity" is refreshing in that sense. It's a slasher movie, yes; but an intelligent one and one that both frightens and provokes. Not in a "Sixth Sense" way, as there are no heartstrings to pull, but just on the right level that will make you think (though not too hard) and scare you witless without giving you nightmares. It may, however, give you pause when considering where to stay for the night when you have a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, standed in front of a Bates-y motel. Call Triple-A. "Identity" is, without a doubt, a great DVD addition when released!

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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Core" is in the same thrilling spirit as "Armageddon"!!, April 14, 2003
"The Core" is, hands down, the best natural disaster action film that reminds us as to why we go to the movies in the first place! It is also one of the best earth-shattering thrillers since 1998's blockbuster, "Armageddon"! On another note, "The Core" was supposed to come out on Nov. 1 of last year, but got pushed up to March 28 due to better special effects, and man, it was worth the wait! The special effects of "The Core" was outstanding from start to finish! Directed with sheer intensity by Jon Amiel ("Entrapment", "Copycat"), "The Core" stars the explosive talents of Aaron Eckhart ("Possession"), Hilary Swank ("Insomnia"), Delroy Lindo ("Get Shorty"), Stanley Tucci ("Maid in Manhattan"), D.J. Qualls ("The New Guy"), Tcheky Karyo ("Wing Commander"), Richard Jenkins ("Changing Lanes"), Bruce Greenwood ("Double Jeopardy"), and Alfre Woodard ("Star Trek: First Contact") in their finest performances ever!
"The Core" turns the attention to a geophysics professor named Josh Keyes (Eckhart), who is called by the government in order to investigate some strange goings-on in the Earth. And sure enough, the Earth's core has stopped spinning, causing, for example, birds to destroy a neighborhood in England, the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and the Colosseum in Rome being destroyed, and the space shuttle 'Endeavour' being forced to make a crash landing. During the movie, Josh enlists the help of a Carl Sagan-like celebrity named Dr. Conrad Zimsky (Tucci) in order to find a solution for the problem. The solution: To go into the center of the Earth with some nuclear weapons and give the core a jumpstart...or everyone on earth is dead within a year. For the mission, a team is selected, including Josh, Dr. Zimsky, Major Rebecca "Beck" Childs (Swank), from the salvaged space shuttle, Dr. Serge Leveque (Karyo), French scientist and Josh's best friend, Commander Robert Iverson (Greenwood), Beck's mentor/shuttle commander, Taz "Rat" Finch (Qualls), a young computer hacker, and Dr. Edward "Braz" Brazzelton (Lindo), a reclusive scientist and Zimsky's former colleague. Brazzelton has developed a weapon that will cut a hole into a giant rock in a matter of seconds, etc. Much to the approval of everyone, the weapon is placed onto a ship that is designed to tunnel into the earth, etc. The lives of many will depend on a team of scientists and astronauts, dubbed "terranauts", as they take on the biggest challenge of their lives as they go on a white-knuckle voyage into...the core!
In conclusion, "The Core" has it all! An outstanding cast (hey, even Tucci's character is fun to hate!), powerful storytelling, action, suspense, and special effects that will keep you on the edge of your seat! 50% "Armageddon" + 50% "Deep Impact" = 100% pure excitement! "The Core" is not better than "Armageddon", but it is better than 1998's other blockbuster, "Deep Impact"! Yet, "The Core" is just as effective as "Armageddon". "The Core" is,without a doubt, a DVD-must have when released!

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