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The Duchess
The Duchess
DVD ~ Ralph Fiennes
135 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically Gripping, Compelling and Layered Costume Drama, January 4, 2009
This review is from: The Duchess (DVD)
The Duchess is a superior slice of costume drama which manages to craft interesting, multi dimensional characters and an involving storyline from the well worn confines of the genre.

Keira Knightley plays a very similar role to the one she played in Pride and Prejudice, a feisty, modern woman trapped in a male dominated society. However, whereas Lizzie Bennett's heart and character inspires affection, the Duchess of Devonshire's fosters only reproach and punishment from her traditional and patriarchal husband. Her performance is a standout and demonstrates why she is so highly rated in the face of many disappointing roles in other films. She brings both strength and weakness to the character. Able to deliver withering put downs at her husband and others, whilst showing the pain of her loveless marriage etched into her face.

If Knightley is the lynchpin of the piece then it is Ralph Fiennes that elevates it above a crowded genre. Resisting the temptation to play his character as evil, instead he simply plays him as a man of his times. In Fiennes' hands the Duke feels no need to win any bouts of verbal jousting with his wife as he is secure in the knowledge that, as a husband, he is in complete control of the relationship. The Duke also clearly sees very little wrong in his treatment of his wife and acts, as he sees it, in a logic manner making the whole film feel more believable and, as a result, tragic.

In terms of the cast the only misstep is Dominic Cooper as Charles Grey, who lends the wide eyes of a political dreamer but doesn't have convincing chemistry with Knightley and plays one of the more one dimensional characters in the piece. However Hayley Atwell impresses by playing her character so well it is possible to describe her as scheming, and manipulative as well as sympathetic and loyal without it seeming a contradiction.

The film is deliberately paced so as to give characters and events time to breathe, encouraging the mood that the marriage is a car crash in slow motion, inextricably drawing all the characters further into the muddled mess of their relationships. Overall it's a fully recommended slice of real life costume drama that draws a multi layered drama full of compellingly deep characters from what could easily have been a one note story.


Appaloosa
Appaloosa
DVD ~ Ed Harris
Price: $4.96
313 used & new from $0.01

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Western Rides Tall in the Saddle Again with "Appaloosa", January 4, 2009
This review is from: Appaloosa (DVD)
On the immediate surface "Apaloosa" occurs as an old school Western grounded in the battle of good against evil. For the most part first time director/ writer Ed Harris's "Apaloosa" is the traditional tale of gunslingers hired to protect the town against the malevolent rancher, who terrorizes the town of Apaloosa. This slithery and wily Rancher is Randall Bragg, well played by Academy Award Winner Jeremy Irons. Irons is amazing. In the opening Bragg (Irons) kills the town Marshall and his deputies in cold blood. So there is no question surrounding Bragg's character. Harris and Viggo Mortensen play Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, who are lawmen for hire. The town of Apaloosa signs a contract with Virgil and Everett paying them to protect the town from Bragg. As part of the deal Apaloosa surrenders legal jurisdiction and autonomy to Cole and Hitch. This is pretty straight forward until femme fatale widow Allison French (Renee Zellwegger) arrives in town. Virgil takes a quick fancy to Allison, but her motives are vague and questionable at best. Will she threaten Virgil's partnership with Everett?

First off, I ultimately liked "Apaloosa", because Viggo Mortensen is awesome as Everett. Despite the movie's quirky idiosyncrasies, Mortensen commands the heroic presence as the sensible man of honor. Mortensen is the Western hero in the tradition of Clint Eastwood. As Everett, we always know where Mortensen stands, and he is both charismatic and cool. In a great scene a rival asks Everett about Virgil's gun prowess. Everett says plainly, "I haven't seen anyone as good as Virgil." Mortensen's Virgil salvages the movie's sense of honor.

As mentioned previously, "Apaloosa" is not really all that traditional just below the surface. And this is not necessarily a good thing. This is not the anti-hero masterpiece of Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven". In one sense, I think Harris would like it to be. For one thing although Harris's Virgil is brave and noble, he is an apparent partial nut job. He goes nonlinear on some hoods in a saloon, among other weird out bursts. Harris's Virgil is not an educated man, and clumsily forces his diction and stumbles through Emerson. Instead of coming off as charmingly eccentric, his Virgil occurs as a little weird. Renee Zellwegger is an amazing actress, but here she struggles to carry off pretty. Her character Allison also has the propensity to have sex with virtually any man with a pulse. Straight and narrow Virgil in love with psycho whore Allison is not the most conventional love story, nor is it the story's most endearing plot line. Again, this may be more artifact of the screenplay by Harris and Robert Knot based on Robert B. Parker's best selling novel.

In spite of its quirkiness and kind of nutty characters, Harris manages to reign in the movie as it concludes-- opting for the more heroic. There is a great scene before one the climatic showdowns where Allison asks Virgil and Everett, "Aren't either of you at all afraid?" Virgil says, "...I guess I don't think about that so much." Also in "Apaloosa" the action is not leveraged for the utmost drama. Director Harris's action sequences lack crispness--the gun fight blocking is mostly single shot, without any interesting angles. Aside from the last gun fight, most of the action is diluted of high drama. The action is well done, just not spectacular.

"Apaloosa" is an amalgamation of the traditional Western with the idiosyncratic melodrama of the new. The overall effect is compelling, and also makes you scratch your head. Viggo Mortensen's strong and charismatic performance as Everett Hitch eventually wins out, and makes "Apaloosa" worth watching.


American Ninja 2 - The Confrontation [VHS]
American Ninja 2 - The Confrontation [VHS]
VHS
Offered by dvdstop
Price: $4.19
15 used & new from $0.01

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap and Cheerful Ninja Fun!, October 11, 2008
Even better than the original. This one provides some true fun as Dudikoff and James go undercover to Probe the mystery why marines are being kidnapped turns out it involves ninjas. American Ninja II is a best bet for a late night action movie festival. Dudikoff and James last movie together (before Steve James sadly died in 1996). American Ninja II is a must see for fans of the genre thanks to some humor and excellent action scenes. Steve James really steals the show as the sidekick who can handle dialog as well as action scenes. The film feels low rent but you can do a lot worse when it comes to this genre. American Ninja II is a likable action romp that rises above it's low budget and entertains.

Steve James originally didn't want to appear in this first sequel, since it was to be shot in South Africa (which was still under apartheid). He later admitted that he had a lot of fun making the movie, which is evident onscreen. Like the first movie, James steals the show from Dudikoff, both in his martial arts skills and with a bouncy performance that makes him a treat to watch. The best that can be said about Dudikoff's performance is that he seems to be a lot more comfortable in front of the camera than he was the first time around. He's still very unemotional, has almost no dialogue, and it's still clear he knows little to nothing about martial arts, seeing how he does pretty simple moves (when not being doubled.)

Despite the movie being weighed down by Dudikoff's presence, it's still a fun movie, certainly better than the first movie. The locations are eye-catching, giving the movie a nice backdrop. The pace is quicker, giving us little chance to be bored between the action sequences. And there's certainly plenty of action, with dozens of ninjas popping up everywhere at any time. Yes, there is a cheesiness to the entire enterprise, from George Clinton's synthesizer score to the ludicrous scheme of the villain... but hey, it's a *fun* kind of cheese, one that makes you smile instead of grit your teeth. Sometimes a little silliness is what the doctor ordered, and it's also a nostalgic blast for those into '80s action flicks.


Wall-E (Single-Disc Edition)
Wall-E (Single-Disc Edition)
DVD ~ Ben Burtt
Price: $11.75
32 used & new from $6.34

95 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Imaginative and Heartfelt Masterpiece, October 11, 2008
This review is from: Wall-E (Single-Disc Edition) (DVD)
Though there have been some exceptional movies so far this year there but there have been few which I would call a classic. With WALL-E, things have just changed. WALL-E isn't only the best film of 2008 so far, it is a pure masterpiece. From start to finish, the film wraps you in utterly delightful charm and humanity. WALL-E is a piece of inventive beauty and wonder unlike any other that you will see at the cinema this summer. I absolutely guarantee it.

WALL-E (voiced by Ben Burtt) is the last operating robot on Earth. As for the human race, they left 700 years ago, when the huge amounts of self-produced trash caught up with them. WALL-E's task is to clean up the planet for the return of the humans. However, after being left on his own for so long, WALL-E has developed a personality. He is curious about many of the items that he finds whilst compacting trash, such as an old tape of the musical "Hello Dolly!" But he is also becoming lonely, which is understandable for someone who only has a friendly cockroach for company.

However, all of this changes with the arrival of EVE (voiced by Elissa Knight). Thought EVE is initially hostile towards WALL-E, this doesn't stop him from becoming smitten with her and trying to connect with her. However, EVE has come to Earth on a classified mission. Once that mission has been completed, EVE shuts down and waits to be taken back from whence she came. When her transport arrives, WALL-E can't bear to lose his friend and sneaks aboard. His search for EVE brings him into contact with the remainder of the human race, who have been taking refuge on a huge spaceship and who have become excessively reliable on machines to supply their every need. They don't even walk. However, WALL-E's arrival sets many events in motion which may help the human race to return to normality...

First of all, WALL-E's animation is flawless. However, as with the rest of the film, there is also a sense of risk and bravery which adds extra dimensions to the glorious animation. The first moments in the film, which show us the beauty of the stars before swooping down to gaze upon a barren and deserted Earth, are so detailed and emotionally engaging that you are immediately sucked into the tale without any hesitation. Even when the story becomes more traditional (that is in no way an attack on the film), the creativity and power of the film's visuals never falter.

The main focus of the plot is on the growing affection between WALL-E and EVE. This is one of the most moving romantic relationships in years. No, they're not even human. But watching the initial conflict of EVE's determination and WALL-E's innocence slowly mix into love and companionship is magnificent. The scenes between the two characters on Earth are simply wonderful, perfectly paced and confident in the set-up of this unusual couple. However, the best scene comes in the second half, when WALL-E and EVE dance through space together. Everything in this scene is perfect, the comedy of watching WALL-E propel himself through space by use of a fire extinguisher, the lovely visuals, Thomas Newman's marvelous score and the interaction between the two characters. When WALL-E looks likely to float off into space after the fire extinguisher runs out, EVE flies in and scoops him up in her arms. This scene is pure cinematic genius. Overall, there is a humanity and grace of execution in the relationship between WALL-E and EVE which elevates it far beyond the emotional impact of other romantic relationships.

The term of "cinematic genius" can also be applied to the iconic character of WALL-E and the fantastic direction by Finding Nemo director Andrew Staunton. Staunton shows that he is willing to inject some risk into his movie-making if it makes a better film. This decision pays off magnificently here. Staunton has lovingly constructed this film with invention, depth and bravura, and in doing so has crafted a piece of movie making which is likely to go down as at least a family classic. Not only will children be enthralled by the sheer brilliance of this film, but other audiences will also be open to its bewitching magic.

As for WALL-E himself, he is one of the most original movie creations in years. Speaking in sequences of robotic speech (bleeps, whirs, etc.) with only small moments of mechanical dialogue, the filmmakers have still managed to create one of the most human characters of the year. By mostly using his eyes, the animators are able to flawlessly display WALL-E's emotions. In one scene, his eyes droop with sadness when EVE calls him Wally. When he panics or is happy, his eyes rise in an outburst of emotion. The life that the filmmakers are able to find in such simple mannerisms is incredible. Even the beeps and whirs, provided masterfully by legendary sound designer Ben Burtt, increase an already rich and lovable character to terrific heights. The character of WALL-E is just superb, as is the rest of the movie.

WALL-E has just raised the bar for future animated movies. Pixar Animation Studios has already crafted many animated classics. WALL-E joins them without question. The visuals are compelling, the characters are endlessly endearing and the story is told with beauty, wit, imagination and humanity. I couldn't have asked for more.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 1, 2014 9:57 AM PDT


No Title Available

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Burn Before Viewing?, October 11, 2008
"Burn After Reading" shows what happens when a couple of bungling amateurs attempt to beat the big boys of the C.I.A. at their own game.

Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand are the D.C.-based health club workers who stumble across a computer disc that they believe contains top secret, classified information. In actuality, it's the property of Osbourne Cox, a C.I.A. analyst who has recently been let go from the agency, and who is composing his memoirs as an act of retaliation against his former bosses. Tilda Swinton plays Osbourne's harridan wife who's having an affair with a tic-plagued, exercise-obsessed married man embodied by George Clooney. The discovery of the disc leads to a roundelay of false assumptions and comical misunderstandings all wrapped up in an intricately plotted scenario dripping with situational ironies.

"Burn After Reading" is Joel and Ethan Coen's darkly humorous follow-up to their Oscar-winning masterpiece, "No Country for Old Men," a grimly serious work that took little time out for comic relief (and earned them bucket loads of awards for doing so). This new film finds the boys back in the more familiar terrain of "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski," where the laughs outnumber the gasps by a healthy margin. "Burn After Reading" certainly adheres to the customary Coen Brothers formula where a heightened quirkiness and a deliberately disjointed storyline are coupled with sudden flare-ups of violence and the unexpected deaths of major characters.

While the refusal to follow a predictable narrative path is one of the chief selling points of any Coen Brothers film, the fact of the matter is that, in the case of "Burn After Reading," the script probably could have used a few more revisions to bring the disparate elements more satisfactorily in line with one another. Too often it feels as if the movie itself is rambling around pointlessly, without any clear direction or purpose. For one thing, many of the scenes that might have served as the connecting tissue holding the various story lines together seem to have been - perhaps deliberately - left on the cutting-room floor. We're laughing along with the craziness all right, but we're also hoping against hope that the filmmakers will find a way to bring it all together in the end. Instead, what we get is a sit-down synopsis of events that is probably the least successful finale of that sort since the closing scene in "Psycho." For if viewers think they were frustrated by the truncated ending in "No Country," they ain't seen nuttin' yet.

The best thing about "Burn After Reading" is the delicious performances from a cast that any director would give his eyeteeth to work with. Malkovich, McDormand, Clooney, and Swinton all manage to define their characters through individualized quirks without ever going over the top and reducing their characters to caricatures. But it is Pitt who steals every scene he's in as the nerdy, hyper kinetic doofus who fancies himself a double-naught spy fit to stand alongside the James Bonds of the world. Pitt has rarely been this winning.

Now don't get me wrong. "Burn After Reading" is a frequently hilarious film that is vastly preferable to all those cookie-cutter comedies that can be found habitually ensconced in the neighborhood multiplexes. But it's not exactly prime Coen Brothers either, and, for that reason, I have to make this only a halfhearted recommendation. But, then again, even inferior Coen Brothers is better than no Coen Brothers at all.


What Just Happened?
What Just Happened?
DVD ~ Robert De Niro
Price: $8.25
157 used & new from $0.01

31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Satirical Look at Hollywood, October 11, 2008
This review is from: What Just Happened? (DVD)
Director Barry Levinson hasn't had much luck lately - after Bandits, which was a good though not anything very noteworthy comedy caper, he had two colossal duds in a row- Envy and Man of the Year- which, despite an otherwise impressive host of films (i.e. Diner, Rainman, Sleepers, even Toys) could have threatened to throw him off track ala Rob Reiner. But in a way What Just Happened was relatable for Levinson, despite it being the stories of Art Linson, semi-famous producer who's had hits and misses throughout his career, and at the same time gave him some ample material for some sardonic, spot-on satire of the industry. It's not the Player, don't get me wrong, but it gives its winks and nods to the egomania, the preciousness of directors and stars, and how personal lives get caught up in the mix without getting too smug with us common moviegoers.

Probably the funniest, as sort of a near running gag, is the latest film that producer Ben (De Niro) is being test-screened for audiences; a rough cut of "Fiercly" starring Sean Penn (who, as with Bruce Willis, plays "Himself" in the film) disturbs the audience because, on top of a bleak end for its hero, a dog is killed on screen (this, for all the wrong reasons, is hysterical funny, if only for the deadpan reaction from DeNiro to the insanely negative response cards). The director, however, a British hipster (brilliantly played by Michael Wincott), doesn't take it lightly that he doesn't have final cut. This brings around what seems like a moment of levity midway... and then back to the start when it comes time for Cannes. On top of this is Willis's 'plot-line' involving a beard he won't shave off. It's almost like a slight reprisal of his part in Four Rooms, only put to a much bigger, aggrandizing maximum. Both of these, much like seeing certain characters in a Christopher Guest movie, elicit laughs anytime they're on screen.

And the rest of the movie is... still very good. Aside from some scenes where Levinson decides to rush things along via the speedy transitions, he provides a style that suits the feel of the material, of Ben trying to balance his personal struggles (an ex-wife he can't totally let go of, and his rebellious teen daughter with a secret) with the eternal BS of getting work done in an industry concerned, a lot more often than not, with the final dollar over artistic integrity. It's not quite reality TV, but it has that unpredictable, on-the-fly hand-held feeling all the same, which is a method much more effective used here than in Man of the Year. And De Niro is also surprisingly good (maybe not a surprise to some, but considering some of his hit-or-miss turns in recent fare), as he doesn't lay too low-key in the part. One can probably see De Niro having studied producers - not just Linson himself but others- for long stretches to get the right steps for each deliberate step in ego-maniacal Hollywood.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy some near classic self-conscious satire on an industry that deserves anything those in it can dish back out.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2011 7:30 PM PDT


No Title Available

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Film Worth A Few Good Laughs, October 11, 2008
I saw Sex Drive at a sneak preview. It's a seemingly typical teen sex comedy in the vein of Superbad meets Road Trip. Zuckerman plays Ian, a young virgin with no luck with the ladies, a crush on his childhood friend Felicia (Crew), a jerk of an older brother (Marsden), and is best friends with an Austin Powers-esquire Casanova by the name of Lance (Duke). On the internet, he poses as a football player while courting a mysterious girl online. When the girl invites him to go "all the way", he steals his brother's GTO and heads to Knoxville with Felicia and Lance. Ian's character has the usual nerdy teen virgin-in-a-movie problems: falls for the wrong girls, takes few risks, gets caught in embarrassing sexual situations. On the road trip, they run into a series of hilarious, awkward, and weird situations. And on the way, they discover that sex isn't the most important thing, and that true love can be found in both odd and familiar places.

It's not exactly stunningly original, but it's still a hilarious film. The three leads do a pretty good job, Lance being a particularly funny character. Marsden and Green steal the show in all the scenes they're in, and all of the characters in the film are interesting, even if most of them are stock characters. The script is also well-connected, with most of the characters being connected to the larger plot, and combines wit, ribaldry, and straight adult humor well. Every gag sequence gets big laughs, and the comedy never slows down or dies out. The internet cutaways are especially hilarious supplements.

It's refreshing to see a genuinely adult comedy not coming from the Apatow crew or McKay and Ferrell. Although it lacks star leads and filmmakers and will probably drop under the radar, I definitely recommend Sex Drive to anyone looking for a big laughs.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2011 8:15 AM PST


No Title Available

62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ridley Scott Does It Again..., October 11, 2008
You really have to admire Ridley Scott's moxie.

Even though the 70-year-old director has long established himself as one of Hollywood's best and most durable directors; having helmed some of the most entertaining films of all time, in virtually every genre (including sci-fi classics like Alien and Blade Runner); and having been nominated no less than three times for the Best Director Oscar (Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down), to decide to take on theme that has produced exactly zero blockbusters thus far - the Middle East and terrorism - takes an incredible amount of chutzpah.

But it does help if you have the help of two of the biggest actors in Hollywood at the moment, those being Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe (who has worked with Scott on two previous films, Gladiator and A Good Year). It's ironic to think that the last time these two actors shared the screen was back in 1995, with the clichéd-but-entertaining oater The Quick and the Dead. Of course, at the time, Crowe was a complete unknown and DiCaprio was a 21-year-old newcomer with only a couple of notable titles under his belt. But oh, how that's all changed now.

It's not easy to describe the plot of Body of Lies without giving too much away. DiCaprio plays CIA operative Roger Ferris, who is trying to flush out a terrorist leader named Al-Saleem in Jordan. He gets his orders from Ed Hoffman (Crowe), a man for whom results are the only satisfactory outcome, delivered with a fair amount of arrogance and a cocky Southern drawl. Ed plays the situation like a kid playing a video game, and has the resources to change the rules anytime he feels like it, dispensing his orders from his office, from his backyard, from his daughter's soccer game, for Pete's sake! This, of course, infuriates Ferris to no end, because he is the one who is in the trenches, chasing the bad guys, dodging bullets, ducking explosions, and procuring the badly-needed intelligence that Hoffman needs. Ferris is also trying to build a productive working relationship with the head of Jordanian Intelligence, Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), a relationship that is made even more tenuous by Hoffman's double-dealings and hidden agendas.

There are so many ways that Scott could have screwed this up. A lesser director might have chosen to ramp up the action, sacrificing intelligence for entertainment. A lesser director could have taken this story of espionage and twisted it into a convoluted and indecipherable Gordian knot. A lesser director would have gotten less convincing performances from his lead actors.

But Ridley Scott is not a lesser director. Though the plot is indeed complex, with many layers and sub-layers, deceit and treachery, Scott never lets you lose sight of the overall picture. He tells a solid, wonderfully entertaining story, without the need to drive home its message with sledgehammer subtlety (after all, very few things are black and white). And most of all, he gets electric performances from Crowe and DiCaprio, whose symbiotic relationship with a thinly-veiled veneer of mutual contempt is a pleasure to watch.

I don't know if Body of Lies will end up breaking through the barrier that every movie in this genre couldn't; but for what it's worth, I hope it does. One thing's for sure... if anybody can, Ridley Scott can.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2011 11:18 AM PDT


Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Three Disc Special Edition)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Three Disc Special Edition)
DVD ~ Ron Perlman
Offered by Media Megalodon
Price: $6.54
118 used & new from $0.01

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hellboy II - Back And Better Than Ever!, October 11, 2008
You know you're not watching a formulaic comic book film when one of the highlights is a drunken rendition of "Can't Smile Without You" by Hellboy and Abe Sapien. "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" is a more confident, assured outing than the first film and while it does not draw from Mignola's comics for its plot it is perhaps better off for it, lacking the usual burden of comparison and expectations. "The Golden Army" is more fantastical than the first film and is less sci-fi oriented but this is the sort of thing Del Toro does exceptionally well as a writer. He never lets the fantasy become the focus of the film, instead concentrating on characters and delivering action scenes that can only be described as, forgive the crass immaturity, kickass.

As entertaining as many comic book-to-film adaptations are it is a rare event when one can call one of these films a true artistic achievement. I am convinced without a shadow of a doubt that Guillermo Del Toro's entire career has been leading up to this film, particularly regarding his work as screenwriter here. The comedy feels less forced and is worked incredibly well into the script here, so much so that it doesn't feel remotely unnatural when the scene of comic drunken singing leads directly without a break into one of the film's most intensely dramatic sequences. Del Toro's handling of character has never been better, not even with "The Devil's Backbone", which is still my favorite of his films, and his sheer skill and ability when it comes to telling a fairytale-esquire fantasy is astonishing, as proved in the prologue to this film. In short this is Del Toro at the top of his game and providing artistry the likes of which we rarely if ever see in summer blockbusters. It's only fair that an astonishingly brilliant comic like "Hellboy" by an astonishingly brilliant artist like Mike Mignola is adapted this well and by someone as talented at what they do as he is.

How refreshing it is, a week after the release of "Hancock", which to me epitomizes everything wrong with action film-making today, that we get "The Golden Army" which features hands down some of the finest action scenes we have ever seen in this sort of film. Just stunningly beautiful, well-shot, well-crafted, the sort of thing that leaves one wondering how much time and effort went into it and endlessly thankful that some really talented people went to the trouble of making the film.

The film is generally just superb on a technical level. Why am I even saying this? Of course it is. Danny Elfman composing, Guillermo Navarro serving as cinematographer, top-notch editors, fantastic special effects wizards. It's a world-class crew that made this film. I shouldn't be surprised at its quality but "The Golden Army" really just floored and astonished me with how good it is. The cast is also excellent, proving once again that you don't need 'big names' to carry a movie. Just about everyone here is excellent, particularly Perlman with another excellent turn as Hellboy and the underrated Selma Blair as Liz Sherman.

"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" provides essentially everything a Del Toro or Mignola fan would want. I imagine it will entertain and charm many outside those circles as well with its fantastic action sequences, engaging characters, and wonderful sense of humor. I would personally go as far as calling "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" one of the top five or so comic book movies ever made.


Kung Fu Panda  (Widescreen Edition)
Kung Fu Panda (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Jack Black
Price: $8.76
198 used & new from $0.01

67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cute Animated Comedy That Inspires Lessons in Life, October 11, 2008
From the very beginning, Kung Fu Panda had me practically falling out of my seat --- laughing. It was the perfect blend of comedy, heart, and action, all necessary elements in a successful and great animation/CGI film, in the tradition of The Incredibles and (less action, but containing the heart and laughter) Ratatouille, Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc.

I was laughing, smiling, and guffawing at Po, the main protagonist (voiced by Jack Black) and his misadventures at becoming a Kung Fu expert. This was certainly a flawed character, one that a lot of people can relate to because he dreams, he's funny, and he can laugh at himself. Also, the story was pretty clear and easy to follow because the storytelling was well crafted, and the animation was paired well with characters brought vividly to life by some of the most famous names in Hollywood.

Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman are downright excellent as the main characters, and Ian McShane as the bad dude gave it the right fearful presence. Other big name stars don't shine as much, but that's because their roles are rather limited in the film. But that's still okay because the animators should be given equal credit (if not more) for delivering the funny, action and heart elements of this movie in an effective, amazing and (I've got to use this) AWESOME manner. Visually, this movie is stunning (notice all those scenic shots of the Chinese mountains, bodies of water, and the bridge scene; not to mention the action animation version of "The Matrix" with slow-mo)... simply a delight to watch.

It's clear that Dreamworks has gotten back in the animation game with Kung Fu Panda, after slight ho-hums in Shrek 3 and Bee Movie (call me crazy, but I liked Over The Hedge more than those two). Hopefully, it should earn well over $500M worldwide because it is so good.

This movie rightfully belongs in the top animation movies of all time (okay, let's not include the classic fairy tales of old; let's begin with the 90's onwards), alongside my faves "The Incredibles" "Finding Nemo" and "Beauty & The Beast." Has the makings of being a classic.

Enjoy!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2012 4:18 PM PDT


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