recent movies

Some movies I've seen in the last few months:

Code 46:

    I liked this movie a lot. It reminded me a bit of Until the End of the World. It's a weird little detective / love story set in a eugenics-heavy future. The part I liked most about this was how well the science fiction aspects of it were done: there's a ton of backstory and technology in it, but almost no exposition about it. They just dropped you in the middle of this internally consistent future and let you figure out how the world worked as the plot went along. Very well done.


    I liked this a lot. It's a really interesting-looking movie, and it's worth watching for the eye-candy alone. The plot is a little slow, but interesting. The main character is on a sort of quest inside a massively-multiplayer online game, and the division between the game and reality blurs in a Matrix-y way. It's basically a live-action anime, made by a Japanese director in Poland, which adds to its oddness.

Kingdom of Heaven:

    I enjoyed this, but I've already forgotten most of it. I'm sure that by this time next year, this movie, Troy, and Alexander will all be the same movie in my memory (file under "Manly Men With Catapults".)

Crow 3: Salvation:

    In one of my previous movie-review posts, someone commented that, while Crow 2 was horrible, Crow 3 was not bad, and was a decent sequel to the original. Dear whoever-said-that: you're an idiot. This movie was crap.

Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars:

    I was a fan of the Farscape tv series for most of its run, but honestly, I couldn't keep track of half of what was going on in the last couple of seasons. It just got completely incoherent. This ~3 hour miniseries wraps up the cliffhanger and ends the series, but even watching it all at once, I still was halfway between not following the plot, and just not caring. Ok, I was also dozing off a bit, but that's not really a vote in its favor either.

Kung Fu Hustle:

    This was a lot of fun. Goofy slapstick kung-fu. I thought it was a lot funnier than Shaolin Soccer (same director/star).

Revenge of the Sith:

    Utter crap. Less bad than the previous two, I guess. It felt like maybe there was a decent idea or two in there struggling to get out. Maybe ten years after Lucas dies, someone will remake these, and that version won't suck.

Unleashed (aka Danny the Dog):

    This was pretty good. Jet Li plays "innocent simpleton" well. The fights are entertaining, and the comedy's not bad. I kept feeling like I'd seen this movie before, though; "Jet Li, ass-kicking fish-out-of-water in France" is pretty much the same plot as Kiss of the Dragon, isn't it? Maybe I'm thinking of something else.

Batman Begins:

    This was fantastic. It really felt like two movies, back to back: one about Bruce Wayne in the monestary, and then one about Batman. The villains are awesome, and I appreciated the attempts at explaining of where all his toys came from. When Batman dangles a scumbag off a building and asks him a question, he doesn't just grumble at him, he roars. Bale pulls off both roles really well, and the supporting cast are all great (except for the Utterly Forgettable Love Interest who is only there to remind you that yes, the guy in the armor-plated pervert-suit likes girls).

Mr. & Mrs. Smith:

    This was pure fluff, but fun. I've completely forgotten everything happened in it already, but it had the sort of wisecracking relationship that you'd expect in a Cary Grant movie. (Not that it was that good, but that's the kind of target they were aiming for.)

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory:

    This was just a big waste of time. It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't interesting at all either. Johnny Depp plays Michael Jackson, and a bunch of kids play clichés. The title character is about as interesting as tap water.

    However, I'd say the worst part about this movie was simply that it reminded me of the original, since I hated the original: I hated the characters, I hated the acting, and most of all I hated the songs. So, in that I don't remember any of the songs from the remake, the remake must be far superior.

The Island:

    This is a remake of Parts: The Clonus Horror, which I remember seeing when it came out. That movie was a terrible, lower-budget rip-off of Logan's Run and Coma, neither of which were very good to begin with, and this remake shows that, much like multiplying fractions, stupid times stupid times stupid equals really, really, really stupid. (Most people who have seen Clonus probably saw the MST3K version. Warning sign.)

    Pretty much every 5 minutes, this movie had me saying, "Oh my god that's SO STUPID!" and every time, they upped the ante. "Why didn't they just... GAAH!" "They aren't really going to... GAAAH!!" It was so stupid I was still reeling from its stupidity the next day. It was the kind of stupid that sticks to your clothing so that people on the street turn around and stare at you with a "what's that smell?" look on their faces.

    The best part is that the studio neglected to buy the rights to Clonus, and thought nobody would notice that it's the same movie. they were wrong.


    This movie is really great looking, and the plot is kind of dumb, which is to be expected, since that's the case with most of Bilal's comic books too. I enjoyed it for the eye candy, but wow, some of the computer animation was so incredibly bad! Half of the characters were live-action and half were computer generated. It probably would have been easier to take if they had done something like: have the humans be humans and the aliens be graphics, but they didn't; for no sensible reason, half the humans were computer generated too, and since they were animated so badly, they seemed more alien than the aliens.

    I wanted to love it (half-naked blue alien chicks! Flying cars! A giant Egyptian pyramid floating over New York!) but it was just so-so.

    It invites comparisons with The Fifth Element: The Fifth Element has better effects and better acting. Immortel has a better plot, and a complete absence of Chris Tucker. Advantage: Immortel.

Kaena: The Prophecy:

    This was a very odd movie. It's fully computer-generated, and has some pretty interesting critters and character design (talking worms with jetpacks!) but is still well into the uncanny v alley. The design of the world is really interesting; some of the bad guys live in this sort of lake of oil. The animators clearly spent a lot of time working on the fluids, and it shows; much of the movie is very trippy looking. The world is basically this giant tree floating in the clouds, with superstitious hunter-gatherer types living in the branches, which reminded me a bit of Niven's "The Integral Trees".

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37 Responses:

  1. The world is basically this giant tree floating in the clouds, with superstitious hunter-gatherer types living in the branches, which reminded me a bit of Niven's "The Integral Trees".

    I thought I was the only person who managed to get through that book!

    • I read it way way way back when (the mid 80s) and remember enjoying it.

    • I never read the book. The CG film is very, very low budget (as evident in their cpu-cycle-friendly lighting model and stodgy animation). I'd like to see Pixar tackle a remake of this.

      Loved the plot.

      The opening shot of the film is this '' close to brilliant.

  2. krick says:

    A friend drug me to "Sky High" last night. Believe it or not, it was actually quite enjoyable. The acting was good. It was disney family fare without being too sappy. I actually laughed out loud a bunch of times.

    Kurt Russel was excellent as always, and I must say, I never really gave Kelly Preston a second look, but man, she is hot when she's wearing glasses.

    The only really annoying thing was that the entire soundtrack was covers of popular 80's songs, presumably performed by disney recording artists. There was like 30 songs on the soundtrack and they only played about 15 seconds of a song, just enough that you recognized it, before moving to the next one. It seemed someone was trying to win a bet regarding how many different songs they could get in one movie.

    • ammonoid says:

      Kurt Russel was excellent as always

      Please tell me you are joking.

      • krick says:

        Nope. I can't say that I've ever seen a Kurt Russel movie that I didn't like. Big Trouble in Little China, Escape From New York, Stargate, The Thing, etc... Heck, I even liked his disney "Dexter Riley" films way back in the day... The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Strongest Man in the World, and Now You See Him, Now You Don't.

        Well, ok, so 3000 Miles to Graceland was a dog. I don't really blame Kurt though, as Kevin Costner fucks up pretty much every movie he's in.

      • quercus says:

        I think it's explained by the phrase "my friend drug me"

  3. Are you on Netflix? For the first time, I'm thinking I'd check out their friends feature if I could sneak a look at your queue... Avalon is one of my favorite films of recent years, and that was totally a Netflix recommendation (holy shit, maybe this technology stuff sort of works).

    You ever see Suicide Club? There's a freaky Japanese movie that I think you'd probably either love or completely hate. I'm still wobbling on it myself, but the completely strange nature of it does make some parts of it very interesting. Quite surreal as it builds towards the end, too...

    • jwz says:

      No, I pretty much only watch movies in theatres or on DirecTivo. Plus the occasional DVD, but I find that that's relatively rare these days.

      Have not seen Suicide Club.

      • Well, if you see it on any of the pay channels, maybe give it a try. As I say, I think it's a very subjective film, but at least the first half hour of it is totally fascinating... some good bits of psychological horror (along with plenty of over-the-top gore, a mix I don't think you see very often).

        I added Code 46 on Netflix, the IMDB summary sounds interesting. Looks like they don't have "Until The End of The World", which is a film I'm surprised I never did see, I like the soundtrack to it quite a bit.

  4. drstein says:

    That's why I've given up on going to movie theatres and I stick to Netflix. At the very very least, if I get a movie from Netflix, I can just be pissed off that I blew 2 hours of my life. If I go to the theatre, I can be pissed off at the fact that I just blew *over* 2 hours of my life AND paid $20.00 for the 'experience.'

    And theatres wonder why they're not making any money this year. The idea that the current crop of movies all suck ass hasn't occured to them.

    "The Island" = crap. Thanks, jwz, you've just saved me $20. :)

    • I find what has happened is that I just never think of going to the movies now. I've even missed some movies I wish I had seen, like Sin City, just because going to the movies has fallen off my "social stuff to do" list. Other than the local art theatre, which at least has movies I'm not going to see anywhere else, there's only one place I actually find I enjoy going to, and that's only because it has damn comfortable seats and only costs $0.50 more than the other places in town (I think tickets there are $8.50, compared to $8.00 elsewhere in Metro Detroit). Also, that place has almost zero annoying mallrats at it, which is what drives me nuts everyplace else.

      Well, no, wait. Sometimes I like the discount theatre. For $2.00, it's like community theater, because the cheap-ass crowd loves to talk to the screen, so I feel like it's some sort of collaborative work.

      • Here in Los Angeles most theaters are about $10. The Arclight which is by far the best movie theater experience in town is $11 or $14 depending on the day of the week...

        - ask

        • OK, score one for D-Town! We have cheap tickets! :-)

        • capo_mojo says:

          Lemme haven't yet succumbed to the urge to inflict your genetic stamp on an unsuspecting future yet, have you? Once you jump off that cliff, you'll find that the cost of the ticket itself is only a miniscule portion of the tab for an evening out...

      • simmonmt says:

        Out of idle curiosity, what's the name of the enjoyable 8.50 theatre? I was a fan of Star John R when it first opened, though the proximity to Oakland Mall was always a minus. 'Twas either that or the truly vile AMC Pontiac (or whatever the hell it was called) at Telegraph & Square Lake.

        • Birmingham Palladium 12. The Birmingham Palladium 8 down the street (yes, we have 20 screens within a block of each other, it's kind of nutty that way, but better than a single megaplex) has OK seats, but the ones at the 12 kind of cup your ass in a loving-yet-totally-hetero way.

          Oh, and you can have dinner + a movie at their dinner screening room, which I've never done but various people recommend highly.

          The Star John R and Star Southfield both suffer from the previously mentioned "mallrat" problem. The AMC Livonia 20 (30? God, I forget how huge it might be) is just plain stuffed with annoying people from Novi and Livonia, I try to avoid that one.

          The Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak is, of course, the aforementioned "art theatre". It's pretty cool, but now that they are building a six-story condo to sit next to that dinky one-story, 5 screen, building, it does seem a little strange. I imagine it will go bye-bye and be replaced by... more condos! (yay!). At that point, the DIA and the Maple Art are the only indie-film places in the Metro area.

          • simmonmt says:

            Ah yes, the Palladium. Quite possibly the last theatre I'd ever have expected to have reasonably cheap tickets. I saw one of the LotR's there, and agree about the seats. I still can't believe it took them so long to put a movie theatre in Birmingham.

      • darkengobot says:

        Netflix has changed my habits as well. I add movies that I hear are interesting to the queue rather than go see them. Sometimes it puts me way behind the "now", but who cares. I'd never heard of Immortel, but I've added it because it sounds interesting.

        I'll return to the actual theater when they discover the wonders of giving each chair an independent set of arm rests. At home I'm not treated like wallet-bearing cattle, and I always have the option of drinking until a bad movie becomes entertaining.

  5. causticjb says:

    Oddly enough, I wanted to see Immortel since it was (is?) based on a graphic novel I picked up as a kid. Hell, I found it in english a while back, and managed to misplace it in storage.

    Damn me, but that thing was a bitch to follow in english and german. Maybe the flick would make it easier.

  6. decklin says:

    who is only there to remind you that yes, the guy in the armor-plated pervert-suit likes girls.

    I am utterly kicking myself for not noticing and pointing that out back when this was coming to theaters. Art imitates life! It's brilliant!

    • I feel it's important to note that that love interest has been drinking the koolade and, more importantly, has a total of 4 teets in a pivotal love-interest scene at the end of the film.

      (Yes, I know it's a wire-supported bra. It still looks freakish.)

  7. guyver3 says:

    I 'm going to have to warn against watching Returner if you ever stumble across it and consider. Not particularly good Japanese scifi. Recycled plotstuffs from generic scifi.

    I recommend trying the Korean movie Oldboy. And it looks like there is an IMDB entry for possibly an US remake, but there isn't a whole lot of information in IMDB.

    I think only anime I've enjoyed in the last year of not watching any has been the redone Appleseed. Odd mix of CG and cel shading, but has an ok soundtrack and the plot gets to the point. If you haven't seen it, I'd say rent or borrow a copy, as its already on dvd, and I don't know what happened to the US theatrical release.

    TV-wise, have you seen any of this season's SG-1 yet? If so, thoughts?

  8. I went to see this movie because a friend wanted to see "a summer action movie". I really had no clue what I was getting into. But, remake or no, I think the timing of this release is... moderately questionable. What with challenges, both nationally and in CA specifically, to stem cell research.

    I felt like I was being bludgeoned repeatedly with a pro-life 2x4.


  9. davidmccabe says:

    Not only was I forced to watch Willie Wanka repeatedly as a child, but my sister cheerfully sings her favorite songs to this very day.

    I feel your pain.

  10. mbravo says:

    Regarding Avalon, you might want to note that it's not A japanese director, but in fact THE director of Ghost In The Shell/GITS2: Innocence who made this film :) (note the basset-hound theme)

  11. rodgerd says:

    They just dropped you in the middle of this internally consistent future and let you figure out how the world worked as the plot went along.

    I love it when people are secure enough in their work to do that. Little irritates me more than authors et al who can't stop reminding us how clever they are (I'm looking at you, Neal Stephenson), especially when they get it wrong (agglutinative languages, Mr Stephenson).

  12. telecart says:

    Immortel Ad Vitam could (and sho0uld) have been summarized in the trailer.

    Wow, what an awesome trailer.

    Wow, what a crumby flic.

    I read the Nikopol trilogy. The comics is boring and incoherent too.

  13. waider says:

    I fear I may have been the, ah, idiot who recommended Crow 3, although I can't immediately find any proof of that. I do know that I thought it looked as if the cast and crew had actually watched the original movie and tried to riff off it with varying degrees of success - there were whole sequences that down to the camera angles chosen recalled the original, and I don't remember Crow 2 doing any of that. Perhaps my senses had been so numbed by catching a glimpse of "The Crow: Stairway to Heaven" that I had lowered expectations for 3 when I saw it.

    Re: The Island: is there a connection to Michael Marshall Smith that I'm missing here? Every time I've seen the trailer for The Island I've thought, "hey, they turned Spares into a movie". Of course, I've not seen The Island, and it's been so long since I read Spares that I can barely remember any of the story, so I could be on a completely wrong track here. Maybe there's an entire clones-as-backups-for-humans genre that I've missed.

  14. nomenklatura says:

    Yes, I liked Batman, even though I didn't want to admit it to myself.
    As far as I could work out, any scene which involved Katie Holmes and/or Cillian Murphy was filmed in Senate House, home of the University of London, and well known to Londoners to look "as if it could be in Gotham city".


  15. much like multiplying fractions, stupid times stupid times stupid equals really, really, really stupid.

    Ha. I'll have to remember that.

  16. strspn says:

    I strongly recommend Primer, written and directed by Shane Carruth. Low budget, but a great movie. Anyone here seen it yet?

    • wfaulk says:

      Yup. I bought it (fairly cheap) based on a strong recommendation.


      I'm still waiting for my first watching to clear out of my mind more to rewatch it to figure out if it was really that complicated, if it's intentionally obfuscated to make it appear more complicated, or if it's just really poorly edited.

      I don't mind (in fact, I actively like) movies that require some intelligence to follow the plot, and I really enjoy the device whereby the same actions mean different things when viewed again with new knowledge (basically having the audience become part of the dramatic irony), but it appeared to me as if Primer was just an exercise in confusing the audience. I'm not saying it doesn't make sense if you sit down and plot it all out, but it's obviously intended to tell a story (that is, it's not just a pastiche) and it does a poor job of actually relaying that story to the audience.

      Then again, maybe I'm just simple.

    • pmb says:

      It was awesome. After viewing #2, I am convinced that it all comes together, but I can't articulate exactly how...

    • rnb says:

      Primer was my favorite movie of 2004. I didn't understand what the hell happened after the first viewing, only that something serious had gone down and I really wanted to see it again. I bought it on DVD when it came out. Great movie.