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Kristy M. Ross "Kristy" RSS Feed (CT, USA)
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite King but good fun, January 3, 2006
Batman Begins was good, War of the Worlds was impressive, Revenge of the Sith packed in the audiences but not the excitement, and in movie world it's been a fairly duff year as far as continuing 're-imaginings' and prequel-sequels. Which is where Peter Jackson's King Kong comes in. At first I didn't really know what to make of this, so few a few days after I was a little ambigous. The computer effects are incredible, and Adrian Brody and Naomi Watts are good. And any film with dinosaurs in it gains another star. But somehow, I was left with an insubstantial feeling, like something hadn't quite clicked. I hadn't watched the 1933 original, so I bought it and watched it after Peter Jackson's version. I know this is controversial, but I think that despite some flaws, the new remake is better than the original.Frankly, I just wasn't that amazed with Merian C Cooper's film. Fay Wray never really connects with Kong, choosing instead to scream all the way to the Empire state building. But what I loved was that T-Rex/Kong fight, and the 2005 remake upps the ante to an almost unbelievable level. Watch out Industrial Light and Magic, Weta Workshop is the new king.

Being a New Zealander myself, I can't help but support the films that are made by NZ actors and directors: Russel Crowe, Sam Neil, Anna Paquin, Roger Donaldson, Martin Campbell (Legend of Zorro) However I don't blindy accept and promote everything that comes out of our country (Lord of the Rings had it's flaws, y'know) If King Kong isn't the best film of the year, then it's definitly the best REMAKE of the year. But Kong feels like it could have been directed by anyone, there's no instantly identifiable mark that says "Wow! that is so Peter Jackson!" Regardless, it's great entertainment for the easliy-satisfied audiences worldwide, it boasts some of the best action scenes from any movie EVER, and now everyone can finnaly forget the trashy Dino De Laurentiis remake. A technically amazing adventure but actor-wise, it dosn't quite hit the right notes. When you're reaching for material as lofty as this though, it's always difficult. Si if you're looking for a 5-star action movie, watch it and be blown away, but for something more cerebral, check out Kiwi Roger Donaldson's excellent 'World's Fastest Indian'.


Frank Miller's Sin City: The Making of the Movie
Frank Miller's Sin City: The Making of the Movie
by Frank Miller
Edition: Hardcover
54 used & new from $5.23

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank Miller's Sin City : The Making of the Movie, August 27, 2005
Frank Miller is a comic book god, rejuvenating classic stories like Batman and Daredevil while simultaneously conjuring up well-written and provocative tales of sinister film noir and graphic novel impressionist avant-garde violence. One of the most impressive and original movies I've seen for years, SIN CITY blew me away with its knowingly malicious nature, razor-edge script and frenetic action. To have such revolutionary geniuses like Miller and Quentin Tarintino collaborate on a film like this, it's more than welcome for American audiences looking for a non-traditional event that shakes the rule book, rips out all the pages and burns them. This behind the scenes tome, penned by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez is filled to the brim with all the essentials that make a great backstage look at the absorbing world of filmmaking. Containing the entire screenplay for Sin City, a widespread behind the scenes photo collection, cast and filmmakers feelings on the film, nicely presented publicity material for the marketing, and so much more. Lavishly presented and with enough info to satisfy the most ardent fan, what more could you want? This is indispensable material for any film fan, and a great value, it makes this even more appealing. If you don't already have this enthralling manuscript, buy it now!


Lord of Misrule: The Autobiography of Christopher Lee
Lord of Misrule: The Autobiography of Christopher Lee
by Christopher Lee
Edition: Hardcover
36 used & new from $11.20

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lord of Misrule: The Autobiography of Christopher Lee, August 26, 2005
One of my all time favorite actors, the legendary thespian Christopher Lee's autobiography is a fascinating tome filled with countless stories of working with everyone from Errol Flynn to Toshiro Mifune, all the while adopting a self-depreciating tone that permeates the book, Lee's fascinating life encompasses many world events, and he talks in detail about his family life, and the numerous films he's starred in. However noticeably absent are his thoughts on his career making turn as Dracula. But considering the hundreds of fantastic films he has acting in, it is of diminutive consequence. Like Sean Connery with 007, he was given fame by a role that he now wishes to distance himself from. Fair enough, considering films like The Wicker Man (One of Lee's favourites) and Sleepy Hollow altering people's perceptions of the actor. Regaling readers with his thorough tales of on-set antics while filming the James Bond film Man with the Golden Gun, working with Steven Spielberg on 1941, and working with directors like Tim Burton, Guy Hamilton, Terence Fisher, George Lucas and Peter Jackson. Lee warms to memories of his long time on-screen acting partner Peter Cushing and their work together. You realize just how important a role Lee has played in cinema history. And despite his numerous Dracula and monster roles (Which aren't that many despite critics waffling) he has displayed in recent years just how much range he can provide, from serious drama in Jinnah, Science Fiction with the Star Wars prequels and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. What a treat to have the master of movies take time to pen his thoughts. Without this book, there would be a large gap in history. This is a very welcome history lesson in Hollywood movie making, and leave s a lasting impression on readers who discover just how prolific an actor he is. Fantastic stuff.


James Bond Movie Posters: The Official 007 Collection
James Bond Movie Posters: The Official 007 Collection
by Tony Nourmand
Edition: Paperback
50 used & new from $4.72

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent chronical of James Bond movie posters, August 26, 2005
I just received this fantastic James Bond poster collection book and I have to say, this is indispensable stuff, going all the way from Dr NO to Die Another Day, and even including oddities like Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again. Author Tony Nourmand has clearly put a great amount of effort and research into the making of this book, and it shows. Beautifully presented, this has quickly turned out to be one of my preferred movie books. Showcasing classic posters from some of the leading graphic artists of the 1970s and 80s like Robert McGinnis (Live and Let Die and The Man with The Golden Gun are amazing), Bob Peak (Moonraker), Frank McCarthy, Renato Casaro and Randi Braun, their collective works culminate in a lavishly presented masterwork that looks fantastic. Footnotes on subtle changes that were made to some late 70s movie posters are particularly welcome, as are the informative and interesting introductions that accompany the film-based chapters. The Sean Connery films for instance, comprise extensive thoughts from Nourmand talking about discarded poster ideas and how the change of leading man from Connery to George Lazenby caused some marketing concerns. It's not difficult to see why some of the early posters like From Russia With Love are sought after by collectors, these highly prized masterpieces are worth thousands by today's market. Being a poster collector myself, I've found that this is a particularly lucrative hobby. Theses are not just your average, run of the mill images, these are works of art that look beautiful on the wall. Poster layouts for the Roger Moore era are the most elaborate, indicating the change in times, Britain and America's quickly changing tastes, and the myriad of factors that are involved in this particular art. Foreign posters from Japan and Spain display the differential takes on how these particular films should be marketed, and the changes that were made by more conservative global regions to the more sexually suggestive artwork. Reading it, one notices the gradual change from traditional watercolor artwork to photo mosaics and stylish computer-aided photography. Which is, arguably less impressive, but mostly, the posters for the new Pierce Brosnan films do carry on the subtle nuances and certain recognizable M.O that is so popular. This is must-have material for 007 fans and poster fans alike and inspiration for aspiring artists in the field of movies.


Terminator 2 - Judgment Day: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Terminator 2 - Judgment Day: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Offered by Big_Box_Bargains
Price: $33.96
64 used & new from $1.53

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terminator 2 - Judgment Day: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, August 26, 2005
Brad Fiedel's trademark music for James Cameron's fantastic SF thriller TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY is one of my all-time favourite movie soundtracks. Starting off with the instantly recognizable "Terminator" theme, Fiedel eschews traditional techniques in favour of a far more impressive array of techno-rock frenetic tempo lineage that works just as well in the feature film as a stand alone piece. Tracks like "Helicopter Chase" and Hasta La Vista Baby" are the highlights of this impressive disc.In a time when the more favourable choice for movie soundtracks was artsists who used their invovlement with the film's musical department to publicise their latest tune, this is something of an oddity, since all tracks are simply orchestral. Pleasing too, considering this is not the usual decision for films of this genre. Overall, a great score and indisposable for movie composer collectors.


No Title Available

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great laughs with Wedding Crashers, August 26, 2005
This movie is the latest from the group that has formed over the years of Stiller, Black, the Wilson Bros., Vaughn, and Ferrel. Some of the comedies that have sprung forth from this group have been excellent and the laughs provided have been well worth the ticket price (anchorman, old school), others .... well, not so much (envy, dodgeball). I am happy to report that this is one of the former. Sure, the plot is as predictable and clichéd as any Hollywood machine movie, but this comedy separates itself from those and from the other films from this troupe by being genuinely hilarious. The plot may be formulaic, but the jokes are not. Even in the greatest of the movies featuring these players the jokes have been expected and while funny, not enough to knock you on your ass (although funny enough to quote continuously for months following the initial viewing). This flick has that punch to its jokes and that is exactly what makes it so great. That is what separates it from other movie and that is to what it owes its success. The outline and the previews don't seem at all fresh, but the jokes are crisp. Plus any movie with Christopher Walken is good in my book.


Batman Begins (Two-Disc Deluxe Edition)
Batman Begins (Two-Disc Deluxe Edition)
DVD ~ Christian Bale
Offered by ACE MEDIA DIRECT
Price: $10.01
279 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films of 2005, Batman Begins flies high on DVD, August 24, 2005
As a fan of Tim Burton, I like his Batman films, but as a Batman fan, they couldn't have been further from the Batman flavor. Or that's what I thought till Joel Schumacher killed Batman with his 'films'. It's sad when a cartoon has better writing then FOUR feature films combined, but that's all the real Batman fans were left with if they wanted well told intelligent stories about Batman and his multi-layered villains aside from reading the books. That is until a ballsy director and writer came along, those people being Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, and FIXED Batman. Goyer, I had faith in. I'd just hoped he could retain the characters' personalities. Nolan, has MORE than proved he can deliver a dark and gritty Batman film without turning it into dark camp like Burton,or something so insane and flamboyant it would never happen, like Schumacher. I think that's why this film succeeds where the other films failed miserably, because aside from a man in a rag/mask calling himself Scarecrow, and another man in a Batsuit calling himself Batman, the film is camp free, a first for ANY live action Batman representation.

Nolan gives us a gritty city with slums that echo the worst from around the world, AND he makes it dark enough to be very 'Batman' without making it look unnatural. Gotham City is supposed to be ugly and decayed, a virtual urban cesspool of crime, and a nightmare for the viewer. I loved Burton's Gothic flavor, but he couldn't capture reality. Everything felt like a fantastic set, but what Nolan does, is give us something that exists. Part of the nature of this film is the internal. Fears, primal impulses, what drives us to do the things that we do. How does a well meaning person go down a path of corruption? What is a person willing to do for justice and is it that far away from vengeance? These are the things the other films NEVER touched on, or if they did, it was never done right. This film does that. It's gritty, it's a crime movie. I think it's the first time since Batman'89 where organized crime was touched on at all, which is a large staple of the BATMAN comics. Simply put, a great comic book movie with a fantastic digital presentation and the DVD extras are fantastic.


Hammer Horror Collection (Curse of Frankenstein / Horror of Dracula / The Mummy [1959])
Hammer Horror Collection (Curse of Frankenstein / Horror of Dracula / The Mummy [1959])
DVD ~ Peter Cushing
2 used & new from $55.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Hammer Horror with Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy, August 9, 2005
These three classic Hammer horror movies are essential additions to horror buff DVD collections. Released in the same year as classics Touch of Evil and Vertigo, Dracula (1958) managed to not only stand out as a fantastic piece of artfully contrived entertainment but also saved the studio from some shaky antecedent years. Featuring a powerful performance from Peter Cushing as vampire hunter Van Helsing, Dracula offers plenty of nail-biting suspense and healthy amounts of gore (Surprising, considering the film's release date). And of course, there's the fantastic Christopher Lee in one of his first major movie roles, who turns in one of his best performances as the snarling, hissing count. Melissa Stribling and Michael Gough provide great support amidst the thrills. Under the steady hand of horror veteran Terence Fisher, Dracula is a fan favorite, and an indispensable chapter for the genre.

Lee, Cushing and director Fisher also created the fantastic Curse of Frankenstein in the previous year. One of the best examples in its field, the action is great, James Bernard's chilling music sends a shiver down the spine, and Jack Asher's stunning cinematography is haunting. Like the Bela Lugosi Dracula, Christopher Lee was Hammer's answer to Boris Karloff, a trend he would continue in the 1959 film The Mummy. While perhaps not as resounding as the previous two movies, Lee and Cushing's added gravitas give so much to a fairly standard plot. The standout is Cushing, whose role as the nervous archeologist John Banning provides much of the film's emotion and exposition. Considering that the fully bandaged role for Lee basically means that all you see are his eyes (Except for an excellent flashback explaining how Kharis came to be mummified alive) yet he still manages to give more scares than a bucket load of CGI can muster. Yvonne Furneaux shines in dual roles as Kharis' love Princess Ananka and Banning's wife, Isobel. And that ending? Creepy to say the least. Lee's creature performances outshine Karloff (And that's not easy) and despite the notoriety of the earlier originals, these three classics have stood the test of time to become the cherished horror gems they are today.


Planet of the Apes - The Evolution
Planet of the Apes - The Evolution
DVD ~ Charlton Heston
49 used & new from $2.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cerebral science fiction, August 3, 2005
Franklin J. Schaffner's PLANET OF THE APES remains as powerful and significant as when it was released back in 1968. Derived from Pierre Boulle's fascinating book and written with knowing talent by legendary writer Rod Serling, the premise sees three astronauts crash land on a supposedly future distant world, but when the explorers are captured by apes, the truth slowly dawns on Taylor that this is no alternate planet, rather the world he left, shaken up like a snow globe, delivering a devastating post-apocalyptic civilization where man is treated as the inferior, and the apes reign supreme. From Jerry Goldsmith's chilling music to the amazing creature make up and costumes and Leon Shamroy's fantastic cinematography, the film is a technical marvel. The combination of veterans Roddy McDowall and Maurice Evans add gravitas to the characters. And to end a movie with Chuck Heston damning all humanity was so powerful and stunning, a sequel was inevitable. And while the law of diminishing returns does weigh heavily at times throughout the series, the impact that these films had on Hollywood cannot be denied.

The first sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) takes a decidedly malicious turn when the underground mutant survivors take up arms against the militant ape warriors. Maintaining all the elements that made the first film such a hit, BPOTA is the series' best sequel. Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) carries on the story, with Roddy McDowall reprising his role as Cornelius, where the apes travel back in time. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) is entertaining and intellectual, but sometimes tends to repeat on itself, and the by this point the audience enthusiasm had waned, but not before everything go wrapped up in the aggressive Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). Technically speaking, all the Apes movies are great, but you can just watch the original as a stand-alone film, and marvel at the collective genius that gave the world a true glimpse of humanity gone awry. A fascinating slice of cerebral science fiction.


Ben-Hur (Four-Disc Collector's Edition)
Ben-Hur (Four-Disc Collector's Edition)
DVD ~ Ramon Novarro
Offered by Solo Enterprises
Price: $13.17
124 used & new from $0.97

9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben Hur, July 28, 2005
One of the landmarks of epic and, arguably world cinema, Wyler's 'Ben-Hur' holds up well today. It was conceived by MGM as an eventual follow up to the success of Quo Vadis? (1951). Almost four hours in length, including substantial overture and entr'acte music by the redoubtable Miklos Rozsa, the film garnered 11 Oscars in its year - a feat echoed recently by Scott's 'Gladiator', to which unsurprisingly it bears some resemblances. (The return of the wronged, or the cathartic role of the arena for instance) But there are vital differences, principal of which is the fact that, while Scott's epic is a pagan film predicated around the expectation of glorious death, Wyler's work is deeply Christian: "a Tale of the Christ" as the titles announce, hinging on the acceptance of eternal life.

'Ben-Hur' has a very considered structure, following Juden Ben-Hur's life and reconstruction, interposed with scenes from the life of Christ. In the first half we see Ben-Hur's fall from wealth and influence as a merchant, onto his fortunes as galley slave, rescuer and friend of a roman consul Quintus Arrius (Jack Hawkins), then successful charioteer before returning to Judea to claim his vengeance. The second half includes the climactic chariot race between him and his enemy Masala, his confrontation with his mother and sister's leprous condition and, finally, Ben-Hur's witnessing of the crucifixion. Thanks to spectacular scenes such as the galley battle, the entry into Rome and, not least, the 20-minute chariot race (which took three months to film), attention in this mammoth epic rarely flags. Having said that, the first half of 'Ben-Hur' has more energy than the second, an issue primarily springing from the source novel. Wallace, its author, had planned his story so Ben-Hur's bitterness peaked just before the great race. Once the competition set piece is over and Massala dispatched, longer contemplative scenes inevitably follow as Ben-Hur broods on injustices. Like the leprosy of his relatives, he has a sickness albeit not physical, which must be cured, whilst in terms of action his rage has effectively exhausted itself.

As the principal male hero, Ben-Hur is one half of three strong male relationships in turn (Ben-Hur/Masala, Ben-Hur/Arrius and Ben-Hur/Sheik Ilderim). Although the relationships are fraternal, Ben-Hur's unmarried status, as well as the closeness of these associations with other single males (Arrius's wife is dead and Ilderim's several remain curiously unavailable) are enough to raise a vague question mark, at least in the minds of modern audiences. Kubrick would explore the homosexual elements prominent in ancient cultures more explicitly in 'Spartacus' a year later). In the more conservative 'Ben-Hur' the closest we get to the homoerotic torsos - a characteristic of the peplum cycle from Italy born on the back of such successful films as this - is the sight of an oiled and pampered Massala accepting Ilderim's bet with his fellow athletes and colleagues.

Lew Wallace conceived 'Ben-Hur' as a didactic work as much as one of historical adventure, key moments in the life of Christ to be viewed in connection with those of an aggrieved man of action. Understandably, the film makes more of the possibilities of action, and less of the religious message. One result of this is that it is noticeably successful in communicating reverence without boredom, a fault of several other 1950s epics. Always difficult to portray, Christ is never heard speaking directly, his face never seen. Instead we witness the impact he has on people's lives. Instead of Christ the man, we have the events he occasions: the Passion is treated as an event of political significance to Judah and his family. The socializing of the Christian message is in evidence, rather than any crude proselytizing. But once Massala is gone, Christ's continuing 'unavailability' to the viewer reveals a dramatic lack: we miss a necessary balance to Ben-Hur's strengths and convictions, where another rounded character might have stood. Ben-Hur's conscience fights on, but in a campaign vacuum as it were, and because of it he becomes weaker.

Interestingly, although Rome as an invading force is decried by Ben-Hur, apart from the harsh life of slaves and some enforced tax collecting there is very little to criticize in the Imperial occupation of Judea. Messala's twisted sense of justice is clearly a personal aberration, springing from his ambition. Both Tiberius and Pontius Pilate (who offers the Judean his citizenship) appear as reasonable men. Christ's trial is presented very briefly and then seen only at conclusion. One Roman even admits that Christian dogma is "quite profound really." Ben-Hur perhaps implicitly grants the value of Rome as much, accepting the role of Arrius' son, even appearing before Massala in a toga. If not quite a tacit acceptance of 'what the Romans have done for us', Ben-Hur could be far more condemnatory towards those fighting the fledgling religion of the Jews. Truly the film takes Christ's words "they know not what they do" as understood.

'Ben-Hur' then, is that rare creature, the restrained epic. Perhaps because the source is a novel than taken direct from the Bible, it manages to balance the sublime and ridiculous into a still-satisfying whole, balancing great spectacle on the one hand with subtle veneration on the other. Together with Wyler's direction, Heston's tailor-made presence, Rozsa's grand score and a unleaden cliché-free script it still makes 'Ben-Hur' first.


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