© 2004 Jamie Zawinski <email@example.com>
For posterity, here are the movie reviews that I posted to my blog in 2004. This isn't a "best of", "worst of", or even, "list of everything I've seen." These are just the few that I happened to write about for whatever reason. (See also: 2005.)
Alien vs. Predator:
First, I note with surprise that there are only 12 hits for "alien vs predator" "slash fiction".
The effects are good. When Alienses are actually fighting Predators, it's pretty spiffy. Pretty much everything else sucks. They waste 30 minutes introducing you to boring characters who won't ever get another useful thing to say or do for the rest of the movie; the setup is contrived, the ending is stupid. Run towards the camera in slow motion!
I haven't read the Alien vs. Predator comics (I could smell the stink on that shit from a mile away) so maybe some of this made more sense there (but I doubt it.)
I enjoyed it while it was on, because big monsters hitting each other are cool, but it left a really nasty aftertaste. This is no Freddy vs. Jason. Hell, it's not even as good as Alien 3. It's probably better than Predator 2, though.
This is the worst movie I've seen in a long, long time. And I went into it with rock bottom expectations. It's been a decade since I've seen it, but I'm pretty sure that the Dolph Lundgren version was better. At least that one had ninjas.
However, there was one brief scene (maybe 6 minutes long) of sheer unadulterated brilliance: it's best described as "The Punisher Versus Johnny Cash." That should have been the whole movie, right there, but no.
This was really a great movie: I was surprised how much I liked it. Normally I avoid remakes, because they're usually just pointless, stripped down, point-missing retreads, especially if the original movie was any good. And the original is absolutely fantastic, so my first thoughts were "how dare they", followed quickly by, "how in the world are they going to make it make any sense post-Cold War?"
Well, they did it by making it be about Halliburton instead the Chinese and Russians, and borrowing liberally from Jacob's Ladder. It worked. I think the original is a better movie, but this version is definitely worth seeing.
See it immediately. The plot is... well, kind of dumb, and loaded with holes and nonsense, but it's so very, very pretty. The giant robots, ray guns, and amphibian amazon fighter pilots left me not caring so much about the plot. It's dense: there's so much going on in the background that I felt like the scenery was going by too fast, I kept wanting to just stop and look around. The look of the movie reminded me of the kind of look that photo-comics often have (a good example is this classic Mister X cover and poster, of which I was constantly reminded.)
There were also hints at a very odd backstory; the world in which this movie is set differs from ours in a whole lot of ways that I kept wanting to know more about. I guess "wait, how did we get from A to B?" was kind of a running theme in my head while I was watching it; e.g., a number of the plot holes might not have been so gaping if there was more exposition about them.
It was emulating the style of the old serials, yet it felt like it should have been multiple episodes; like a 20 part series had been condensed into one movie, leaving out a whole lot.
See it immediately. (But see it second.) I am a huge, huge fan of the first Ghost in the Shell; it's one of my favorite movies, and by far my favorite anime. (For the record, I think almost all anime is crap, but there are a dozen or so true gems in there.)
Well, now it's my second favorite. The sequel is just mind-blowingly good.
Again I have to use the word dense. Except this time not only visually, but plot-wise as well. The level of detail in every frame is just astounding; through the whole movie I kept wanting to pause and single-step it, because there's just so much going on. On the surface, the plot is a detective story ("why are robots going nuts and killing people?") but that's just an excuse for a pair of cops to spend the movie talking about the nature of humanity (oh, and also blowing things up. Blowing things up real good.) It covers a lot of the same ground as the first GITS as well as Blade Runner, but covers it very well.
I really hope that when the DVD comes out, they have good voice actors for the dubbed version, because I felt like I missed half the movie by having to read the subtitles. With a movie this dense, you need more bandwidth; I wanted to be looking and listening at the same time instead of having to split my visual attention between the dialog and the visuals.
This movie is just packed to the gills with the awesome. Jennifer Tilly is hilarious, John Waters gets his face melted off, and at this moment in time, I can't think of anything quite as funny as a plastic doll jerking off. "God bless the little people." Go see it immediately.
This was ok, but it had entirely too many spring-loaded cats, where nothing's actually going on, but they try to spook you with a flash and a loud noise anyway. This was a shame, because the movie did have some genuinely scary moments, and the fake scares really took away from that. Still, it was worth seeing.
I felt like I'd seen it before, though: I saw a movie earlier this year at IndieFest called Inner Senses that was very, very similar, not only in plot, but in the whole look of the movie. I vaguely remembered hearing that The Grudge was a remake, and so by about halfway through, I was assuming it was a (dumbed-down) remake of Inner Senses -- but it turns out it's not, the original was called The Grudge too.
It's also really an awful lot like The Ring. What is it with wide-eyed Japanese drowned-children vengeance-ghosts? Not that I've got a problem with that, because they're super creepy, but they're fuckin' everywhere now! Is this some old cliché that has only just now been imported to the US market, or are drowned kids the new zombies?