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Matthew J. Virchow RSS Feed (Andover, MN USA)

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Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow
DVD ~ Johnny Depp
Offered by Phase 3, LLC
Price: $12.99
174 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not just the heads on a roll!, December 1, 2001
This review is from: Sleepy Hollow (DVD)
"I made this movie for 12-year olds, because these are the kinds of movies I used to love when I was twelve," says Director Tim Burton.
To get started- this film took me in a completely different direction than I'd assumed I'd be going. Then it struck me; this is Tim Burton! He's as unique and stylish as directors get. Along the film, I noticed the color was off as if the movie were black and white, but having shades of color. It wasn't my TV. He sets the tone for a darkened classic-feeling mystery thriller. Alfred Hitchcock (if he were still alive) would be amazed. A director who seems so opposite in filmmaking is Steven Spielberg. Spielberg wants to build suspense before jumping into the big bagje- like in JAWS or E.T. He builds up our excitment to see the big effect. Tim Burton on the other hand- is genius. He doesn't want his audience saying "Come on! Hurry up! Let's get going!" He jumps right on the wagon with the Headless Horseman. Heads start rolling immediately. It's just his style. In BATMAN, he opened the movie with Batman taking out the trash immediately. Take Spielberg and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. He took ten through fifteen minutes of elderly Ryan sitting at Hanks' gravestone and staring at the flag before we got to the war. Burton wants you to get a slice of dessert before you get the meal deal. It's interesting when you look at similar directors who start off with the big boom and get the audiences' blood running instead of dragging out this whole process of building their anticipation. (George Lucas "Star Wars", James Cameron "Terminator 2", "True Lies")
At one point in the opening scene of SLEEPY HOLLOW, I questioned whether Barry Soneifeld and Burton collided for a similar sequence in the beginning of both their '99 films (Barry's being WILD WILD WEST). Two old guys going along their way, and all of a sudden they're running for their lives, but the blade ends up catching up with them and off goes the head. Though the films are entirely different in story and genre, it is interesting how similar their opening scenes are. (Except it is a flying disk in WILD WILD WEST that cuts the man's head off)
Johnny Depp plays an interesting murder investigator for the recent kills in Sleepy Hollow. His name is Ichabod Crane, a man who's determined to piece together the logical pieces of the everyday crime saga that lurks his world of work. To him, it's just like figuring out how to break a pencil. Yet, he soon learns that these head choppings are done by a force more evil than a psycho. He may have come from hell. He may just be the Headless Horseman. Crane teams with a young boy in hope of solving the crime before the final target of the Horseman is taken out.
Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci and Casper Van Dien co-star. Francis Ford Coppola also produces the film.
What is so fun about this movie is that is carries every aspect of film you need. Whether in the movie you want good visuals, frightening sequences, interesting plot, strong performances, excellent art direction, comedy, action, suspense, drama, horror, and mystery- you have it one way or another. When painting a picture that's going to stand out among other bright colored pieces- you'd probably want to use all the colors you can. SLEEPY HOLLOW does it all.
This "astonishing film" is fun and freakily mysterious. It is toned specifically for a unique ride. Tim Burton is a master of originality. Everything works in the film. Though Tim Burton wanted 12-year olds to enjoy this movie, I doubt that this "R" rated movie will reach too many adolescent eyes, while instead it will be rocking the worlds of every other viewer watching it. Take my word for it: "everything is on a roll for this film". SLEEPY HOLLOW is definetely the perfect film for a fun night.

The Thin Red Line
The Thin Red Line
DVD ~ Jim Caviezel
Price: $5.91
197 used & new from $0.01

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A HOLLYWOOD achievement, not a filmmaking achievement., November 23, 2001
This review is from: The Thin Red Line (DVD)
This World War II drama suspends its plot on the emotional power of brutality and torture of combat. An American army fighting for survival must take over a force of Japanese soldiers. (In other words, there is barely a plot.)
First off, the film has a point. It wants to look good. It combines actors including: Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, John Travolta, George Clooney, Jim Caviezel, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, and Elias Koteas. What would the problem be with such a star studded cast? The problem is that if focuses on none of them. The film skips from character to character and the audience learns nothing about them. The fact that George Clooney is even credited at all is absurd. He holds a thirty-five second scene in the very end of the film. He gives a tid-tad speech to his band of soldiers and that's the end of him.
Earlier in the film, Nick Nolte and John Cusack form a conversation after the Americans take over a Japanese hill. Finally, you think you are going to learn something about a character. Then "zzzzzzz". Nick Nolte (Lt. Col. Tall) talks about how he's going to make Cusack (Capt. Guff) the star of the war and he is going to give him everything he deserves- then that's the end of Cusack. He exits the movie unknowingly. The same goes for Nick Nolte. Towards the first fifteen minutes, he spits off a few lines that literally mean nothing to the audience. He's the sort-of tough cookie of the film. He orders his men "this and that" and never stops to rest or wait. He's the one who seems as though he constantly saying CHARGE! And he won't take slackers, nor prisoners. Then, when we really want to see him in the ending battle- he is just gone. Where'd he go? It is as though he's just written off the film from there on.
Sean Penn is basically a nonentity in the film. There is nothing to be remembered from his character. He like a solid rock that is just lying at the bottom of the sea. Why is his name credited before the title? He is of no importance to the movie at all. I cannot remember one line that he said throughout the film because his character was so meaningless.
The agreeable performances only include Elias Koteas and Jim Caviezel who actually make something of nothing for this movie. There is actually character with these two. But the terrible thing is- the two heroes of the film... well--- Koteas is discriminated from his army, and Caviezel is killed. Once Director TERRENCE MALICK actually builds something in this film- he throws it out.
Woody Harrelson is barely recognizable. He unclips his own grenade and blows his own body apart, leading up to his memorable line- "I blew my own butt off." Besides the fact that the film has little potential or means to be anything more than an overcasted, mistreated war "drama", it is drawn out to the point of tears.
The film isn't really gory for the battle scenes- you just see bombs and hear little gunshots where, then, people fall to the ground. All these dreams of Caviezel and his wife are so pointless too. She just divorces him and he dies- what does that say? There is no hope or joy in this film. Just because it takes place in war doesn't mean it has to be completely depressing. It's like watching a stormy day when you have no electricity. You sit there in boredom and sadness, waiting for it to pass. That's exactly the way you feel when watching this. The Melanesian people really don't present a purpose either. They're just trying to point something out for Caviezel's past. They want to give him some sort of backround. But why is it the opening sequence? Nothing comes from them being in the film.
Underneath this pig slop, you see something of a film trying to come out. Koteas and Caviezel really try to help that. There is some dramatic war and brief emotion to be rewarded for this film- but 7 1998 Academy Award Award nominations (including Best Picture)... out of the question! SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is obviously much better. If this film had a point- something to look forward to, and not a 10-second clip of big actors who are slapped on the credits to try and promote the film, maybe it would be worth a little something. If you want a depressing time or even some war/drama nonsense... let this one go for the throat. Don't be surprised if you reach the FINAL ending at three hours and say that you wasted your time (or even fall asleep). I only paid a dollar to rent this film at the Anoka County Library, and I still think I deserve my money back. Expect very little from this WAY over hyped film. Because, if you edited this film, and took out all the walking, spitted talk, dreaming, and boredom of the entire thing- and just added together the actual performances and few war scenes- you'd only have a 45 minute to an hour long film. What a waste huh?
To conclude my review- this film could've been brilliant. It had a brilliant idea. It could've been everything. Yet, it's drawn down by big-name actors trying to promote the film when they either carry nothing for the film at all, or are just there for a minute- tops. The boredom and sappy sadness constantly increases which sadly gives the viewer nothing. I believe that if a plot cannot be worked or even be given a point by its own filmmakers- why should the audience bother to care at all? There is no joy to the film, it's just depressing, and it just rows along down that rushing river, reaching its three hours where an audience member says- "OK good its over. Oh hey was that just George Clooney right there?" Then the person sitting next to that person finally wakes up and says, "Huh... what'd you say?"
THE THIN RED LINE is "A Thin Red Line of film".

Never Been Kissed
Never Been Kissed
DVD ~ Drew Barrymore
97 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Second Chance Comedy., November 14, 2001
This review is from: Never Been Kissed (DVD)
First of all, a film that seems to relate in a way to this movie is Superstar. Although, this film isn't dumbed up on purpose to show off Saturday Night Live's actors and actresses (even if this film stars Molly Shannon as well). This is somewhat of an original piece of comic relief and fun that stirs a mix of romance, determination of popularity, cruelness to others, getting a second chance to make something of yourself, and sexual related laughs- including the hilarity given from David Arquette (Rob).
In this film, 25-year old Josie (Drew Barrymore), must go back to high school as an undercover reporter to get a hot sleezy story. Knowing of her past experience in Sr. High, as the school's biggest geek, she tries to fit in by changing her look. Right off the bat, she isn't a big hit (dressing in a chicken suit-looking outfit and spilling milk all over herself), and joins the math club- finding a "nerd" friend who welcomes her in (played by Leelee Sobieski). But after her brother comes back to high school in search of getting a career in baseball, and receiving instant likeness and popularity, he spreads the rumor that Josie rocks, and she is in. She goes from a loser to the Prom Queen. With Guy, that one "guy" who makes high school worth going to for her, "crunching" on her, Josie's dreams come true, until the beans are all spilled at the prom and Josie falls in love with her English teacher.
I think that this is probably one of Drew's best performances, simply because it is the perfect film for teens and couples. She is a character some will relate to, and the basicness of the whole film is easy to follow. It doesn't take really disgusting jokes way to the limit, or fill up with sex, drug-use, and suicide- like many sick comedies do. I must admit, I died laughing when Josie's dream date through an egg at her forehead driving by in the limo! While cruel, it's hilarious. There are many toned-down elements that make this film work. It doesn't go over the top like ROAD TRIP, AMERICAN PIE, HALF BAKED or THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. The performances work, and the ending especially... which literally keeps you on the edge of your seat- regardless of whether or not you can predict it. Molly Shannon's appearance is a delight (for once!), stepping off of roles like A NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY.
For anyone who's dreamed of being the one everyone wants to be like, the popular one... the prom queen (or king), this is the film for you. (Or if you are just looking for a fun comedy or good date movie.)
Simplicity meets Comedy meets Romance meets Dreams. Raja Gonsell's film is a triumph for mostly the whole family. For heartfelt laughs and a "suspenseful" comedy that gives you everything you'd want in a comedic film, Never Been Kissed is one that should Never Be Missed.

Legally Blonde
Legally Blonde
DVD ~ Reese Witherspoon
Price: $8.43
529 used & new from $0.01

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quircky film with a mix of fun while light on intelligence., November 12, 2001
This review is from: Legally Blonde (DVD)
Where do I start? The film starts off when Elle Woods, played by Reese Witherspoon, prepares for her date with the love of her life, Warner, believing that it will finally be the night he pops the big question. When he unexpectedly decides to break up, simply because he's going to Harvard, and he doesn't think Elle is very smart, Elle decides to go to law school too to win Warner back. But the tables turn when Elle finds out he already has a fiancee.
Shortly: This film begins with a clueless type attitude and doesn't totally meet the hype the film has, but the humor eventually grows to be hilarious, and Reese Witherspoon turns out to be a total delight. While the film has a "goofy" everyday teen plot, this film is possibly one of the most charming comedies around. This film is definetely worth a gander.

Left Behind - The Movie
Left Behind - The Movie
DVD ~ Kirk Cameron
Offered by santa clara books
Price: $20.99
163 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but obviously more effort was needed., November 5, 2001
This review is from: Left Behind - The Movie (DVD)
"In the beginning... it's a little late for that."
Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron plays Buck Williams in the film adaption of the Jerry B. Jenkins/Tim LaHaye novel, Left Behind which focuses upon the oncoming events during the rapture, in which the Antichrist will be born, and unite ten kingdoms. Brad Johnson plays Rayford Steele, a husband and father who's wife has been trying to teach him the word of God for years, but he's always ignored her. After millions of people disappear in a blink-of-an-eye vanish, which includes his son and wife, Rayford and his daughter unite with a fallen priest and Buck to try and survive the very destructive future which they are promised to face.
In a film skipping the theatrical release first in order, and going to video first, then to theaters, we realize that this film wants to get some attention. The film seemed to be totally blown off at the box office, and little credibility was given, but as far as it has gone, it is passable. I've never read any of the novels, because I'm not one who can just sit back and read, but I'd say that this film has a lot to show, given such a small budget, and no major actors.
The film opens in the cities, and we sort of gander upon the world today. We then head to a crop field where Buck and a foreign stand, (Buck being a reporter interviewing him) and all of a sudden planes start crashing and exploding in the air. This is one of the signs to the earth's destruction, in which God returns to save all of his Christian followers, and leaves the rapture to those who've turned away from him. So... the visual effects aren't top order, they are credible.
There is a lot put into the acting though. Kirk Cameron and Brad Johnson are great everyday people put into the position of being caught in a world of darkness. Because of all the children and a select few of adult people having been gone, Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia comes to the decision of radiation having killed them off. The world is in complete chaos! People dying and hurt everywhere. In so happening, they are searching for a leader, someone to guide them through these times- Nicolae calls upon himself.
Many readers who've followed the book of Revelation can comply with the film, but those who have no clue of the bible may be totally clueless. yet, this is a great discipling tool for non-christians- looking for an answer that can be put into 21st Century terms.
Director Vic Sarin has an imaginative appeal to create this film. He mixes human emotion and explosive trauma to create this disaster film smuthered in cheapness and with a low balance of creativeness. This proving- that most of the time- the novel is much better than the film. Yet, with great characters we can relate to, and smooth charisma to show something of itself, toppled with bumpy advertising, releasing, and budget- the film does the very best it can to be an everyday motion picture. Maybe if Touchstone or Dreamworks or 20th Century Fox had released it would have 10 times the sharpness, but with the small Cloud Ten Pictures production company, it can't deliver a whole lot.
Left Behind, which I hope is followed with a string of sequels that follow the books, is thunderdome entertainment filled with good performances and story, but presented in such a street trash manner, may intrigue some audiences, but bore others. It is a great discipling tool and good film to see, which I'm sure many will enjoy, but if only a larger production company would distribute it, it would get the praise it deserves. Check this film out for a thought-provoking trip.
Even though it isn't listed on the cover, the MPAA rated this film a PG-13, a rating it really didn't deserve- a PG I'd say. But the reason is for Some Violence.

Pitch Black (Rated Version)
Pitch Black (Rated Version)
DVD ~ Vin Diesel
116 used & new from $0.01

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Here is a film that wastes its chance., November 4, 2001
This review is from: Pitch Black (Rated Version) (DVD)
PITCH BLACK could've been the ultimate in the sci-fi thriller genre, but it failed to keep up each end it kept on trying to build on. David N. Tworthy, writer of THE FUGITIVE writes and directs this film based on survivors from a crash landing on a strange planets where manhunting aliens stalk at night. This film isn't lit with a descent cast or very great set design, but the concept of the film was meant to literally scare you out of your seat- but it failed to risk it. Pitch Black stays on this balance, probably because of budget, where the acting and special effects don't qualify for what they are trying get across to the audience. The aliens look like blobs with points sticking out of them. There isn't anything real chilling because the film is never dark enough to be "pitch black" and there is never a time in the film where you don't know what is going to happen. The characters come up with some creativity with lighting to stay alive, but the writer constantly keeps you in a forward slow-motion, and there is no tension that grasps you and pulls you into this world of monsters.
Awe-struck, this film is built mostly on its originality of plot working, something most monster films don't contain. The main idea is excellent, but the way it is played out doesn't go with the flow. It is hammered down into the way Hollywood wants to throw it together, and not the way the audience wants to see it portrayed.
Vin Diesel makes no worthy performance, except for his memorable vision which guides the other survivors through the trail of terror in the film. He plays the villian/hero role, who seems more like a Terminator than a man. This film is broadened with unrealistic looking weaponry, strange sets and dramatic events that seem to veer off from a realistic look, and the special effects and alien creatures look like something that could be plumped into a $20 million production. The film needs more meat on its bones to get the audience more excited, and bring more fear to the screen.
The plot is the only thing that holds up to the hype- which really is the most important thing, but when nothing else works... the film is slammed down under a dirty production that needs to go through the motion picture washing machine a few times before its ready for the audiences' attention. The possibility of a sequel being made holds up the question of whether or not the production team can fix up the mistakes a second time around.

DVD ~ Guy Pearce
Offered by megahitrecords
Price: $9.49
272 used & new from $0.01

9 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars First Rate Nonsense., November 4, 2001
This review is from: Memento (DVD)
Christopher Nolan directs this stunningly akward and rather destructable piece of, need I say- waste, about a man who's life changing accident leaves him with a memory disorder- in which he can only remember previously before this accident, but the present and everything afterwards just flies right over his head. He is obcessed with trying to find John G, the man responsible for the murder of his wife. Through taking pictures, writing notes to himself, and tatooing his body to remember things, this man's life gets more confusing as time goes on, because to him- time is nothing, and he can't really feel it. THE MATRIX's Carrie Anne-Moss and Joe Pantoliono star with Guy Pearce in this deranged thriller.
To start off, this plot is so confusing and holds so much, it relies on itself being so non-understandable to make the viewer think there actually is a plot going on. The point of the film is basically to surpass as something very original, which it is, but the problem is that its originality makes no sense whatsoever. Sometimes we never know at what point in the film we are because they are constantly flashing back to the past to try to show us an event that took place that (Guy Pearce) can't remember. Carrie Anne-Moss plays the mistook Natalie, a beaten woman who is trying to help out Leonard (Pierce) solve this case. There is so much strange build around each character, including the odd Teddy, another man who seems to stick around and pretend to be Lenny's friend. The purposterous events that take place over and over- like Leonard waking up in the motel and wondering where he is, looking at himself in the mirror, and questioning who people are- even telling the same people over and over about his condition; it gets to the point where you are tired of hearing it. You are ten times ahead of the film and where the characters are at that you want to just get over with the film.
All of these events lead up to a wonderous conclusion, but the problem is that you can't understand it, and you keep thinking about the strangeness of it after it's over. All of this is topped off with unique acting, disgusting language used constantly- of course because these people can do and say whatever they want to Leonard and he wouldn't remember it fifteen minutes later anyway.
The cruelness of the film, to its nonsense plot, its characters, and audience is enough to plague the whole idea of motion pictures. They are meant to entertain, not to poison the mind with film algebra that has no answer. This technically skilled and wondrous film would work if only it knew when to stop itself, if it could understand the boundaries and tolerances of audiences. The film is highly skilled with an edge to it that the audiences want, but it is overdone with originality that the film doesn't make any sense anymore. If only the plot wasn't like playing catch, going back and forth, when instead it should be keeping us in an orderly fashion of the film's movement, we'd all be able to keep up with it. But as Christopher Nolan has left it, it is a stand-alone which will pit the audience in brain-freeze and they'd rather go see Pootie Tang instead.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 9, 2012 7:55 PM PST

Red Planet
Red Planet
DVD ~ Val Kilmer
216 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mars is overrated., November 1, 2001
This review is from: Red Planet (DVD)
I'm getting tired or Mars movies now. Technology has finally reached the pinacle where Mars can actually seem really realistic, and special effects are higher than ever. Now, all of a sudden we're getting Mission To Mars, Ghosts of Mars, and Red Planet. Why Mars? Total Recall was an original awesome plotted film about Mars... but now we are drifting away and just counting on the special effects to do the talking. Why does Hollywood always picks MARS anyway? Why not Neptune or Saturn? It would at least be something original...
This film takes to the world in about forty-fifty years in the future. A shuttle crew stumbles upon the fact that there is algae and oxygen on Mars- or in other words: They can breathe and live in bearable temperatures. It's because of these bugs- you see. They can take stuff in and spit out oxygen.
And so on, their robot AMEE goes out of control and starts hunting down the crew, and eventually the crew is being hacked off and VAL KILMER must destroy it, then get back to his spaceship. TRASH????!!!!!
The effects aren't very realistic anyway! There isn't anything really cool or fun about the film. It is the year's competitor for Brain De Palma's MISSION TO MARS- which at least had plot to it.
The performances are acceptable, it is just the way the film moves- it's too strange. It seems hard to follow- because you simply feel so bored, and when you reach the end you don't even care anymore. It is very predictible anyway. Most audiences can easily guess the ending.
Of course, this is Antony Hoffman (the Director)- the debut film that tries to get him some recognizability. So, as you know, the film isn't to its full potential already.
This is a definite "pass on it". Get something better. Why do you think it's selling cheap- and it is barely a year old!
CARRIE ANNE-MOSS, VAL KILMER and TOM SIZEMORE star this this sci-fi flick that might as well be thrown out with Battlefield Earth. Try something else- I warned you.

Bride of Chucky
Bride of Chucky
DVD ~ Jennifer Tilly
Offered by Paint it Orange
Price: $6.82
89 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Why is the film veering off?", October 31, 2001
This review is from: Bride of Chucky (DVD)
To start off, I've never been a fan of the Child's Play films anyways. But besides the point, I saw this film a few days ago- what the heck is this?????
When did Child's Play become a comedy? There is nothing scary at all in this film anymore. Back when Chucky was out hunting for Andy- it was scary, now it is just a waste. Sure, I laughed a lot, but is that what this film was meant for?
Another point- After Chucky and Tiffany did "their thing" (how is that possible for plastic dolls???), how could the Tiffany doll produce a baby in less that a day??? STRANGE.
The acting wreaked- (the human people), and even the visual effects sucked. From Chucky crawling on the sidewalk, to Jennifer Tilly getting electricuted in the bathtub- it was all bad.
The only stars for this film go to how stupidly funny it was, and Chucky's voice.
"Hi, I'm Chucky... I wouldn't see this if I were you."

Bride of Chucky
Bride of Chucky
DVD ~ Jennifer Tilly
Offered by Paint it Orange
Price: $6.82
89 used & new from $0.01

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Why is the film veering off?", October 31, 2001
This review is from: Bride of Chucky (DVD)
To start off, I've never been a fan of the Child's Play films anyways. But besides the point, I saw this film a few days ago- what the heck is this?????
When did Child's Play become a comedy? There is nothing scary at all in this film anymore. Back when Chucky was out hunting for Andy- it was scary, now it is just a waste. Sure, I laughed a lot, but is that what this film was meant for?
Another point- After Chucky and Tiffany did "their thing" (how is that possible for plastic dolls???), how could the Tiffany doll produce a baby in less that a day??? STRANGE.
The acting wreaked- (the human people), and even the visual effects sucked. From Chucky crawling on the sidewalk, to Jennifer Tilly getting electricuted in the bathtub- it was all bad.
The only stars for this film go to how stupidly funny it was, and Chucky's voice.
"Hi, I'm Chucky... I wouldn't see this if I were you."

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