TheDOMINATOR's Movie Review Thread

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No, it's just between this and Bridge to Terabithia, I thought I saw a pattern, but maybe it's just attractive females.
Cheers for making me "LOL IRL," Mark. I guess I'm just a pretty big fan (or a pretty big sucker) for those sad kind of movies that pack an emotional blow.
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Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven."
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My Movie Review Thread | My Top 100



Terminator Salvation
(McG, 2009)



Judgment Day, the dreaded end of life as all people know it, has come to pass, and now unyielding machines intent on the destruction of the human race threaten to exterminate all of humanity. The “Resistance” is all that is left, its members, in all actuality, comprising of the entire remaining human population. Its leader is a man of legendary status who the machines themselves recognize as the most dangerous man in the world. This man is John Connor, and he’s the human race’s last hope at winning the war against Skynet and its metallic host. He’s mankind’s only hope at salvation.

Christian Bale plays this gritty hero, bringing an entirely new persona to the role. John Connor, having been played by several actors in the Terminator saga’s past, including Edward Furlong (T2) and Nick Stahl (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), has never been so dark, visceral, and, to put it bluntly, purely bad-ass. Although he seemed rather shallow and placid, monotone even, in Terminator Salvation, that’s only to be expected under the circumstances in the film: in T4, Connor and his people are in the middle of a world-wide war against adversaries bent on his destruction; his emotions and outward depth and spirit has likely long left his being. In that light, what we see in the movie is a great portrayal by Christian Bale of this battle-hardened warrior.



Despite Bale’s viscerally unique performance as the great John Connor, the performer and character that really shines in Terminator Salvation is Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright, a man on a journey to discover who he really is—or, rather, what he has become—and to find redemption through acts of loyalty and friendship. This character is an interesting study which may cause some to look at their own lives and where they are in their own life’s journey, making T4 stand out as a film with a heart and soul rather than a mindless action flick. Moon Bloodgood as Blair, Marcus’s romantic interest in the film (if you can call it that, per-se) and Bryce Dallas Howard as John Connor’s perhaps forebodingly pregnant wife also deliver solid performances, providing interesting and relatable characters.

Above all else, however, standing out as the film’s greatest component, is the action. The name “Terminator” is synonymous with words like “explosion,” “action,” and “cyborgs.” Terminator Salvation has it all, and it’s all top-notch; the movie contains battles with Terminators both human-sized and immense, stimulating vehicular chases, and all-out war scenes of epic proportions. It’s all likely to leave you on the edge of your seat while you’re enduring its grand splendor.



When it comes down to it, Terminator Salvation is an excellent addition to the Terminator saga. While its themes and characters were never explored considerably deeply, its action is a spectacle to behold and the new Terminators it presents and the storyline of a post-Judgment Day world it explores are brought to the screen very well. On a personal level, I enjoyed it very much, and while it certainly doesn’t touch T2 or the original Terminator, Terminator Salvation is up there among science fiction/action movies that I really, really like.

(Revisited)



Up
(Pete Docter, 2009)



A wondrous tale of adventure, friendship, and undying love, Up has climbed its way up to a position among my favorite animated/CGI films of all time. This delightful, yet dismally despondent at times, Pixar picture speaks on so many levels, in so many volumes, ranging from displaying tragic sequences that leave me on the verge of tears to vibrant scenes of relentlessly fun action which imprint huge smiles upon my face as they progress. Up touches on a vast constituent of the spectrum of human emotion, and plays with those emotions expertly, working them into the film and its story without a hitch, and as to where it never feels forced or contrived.



Edward Asner provides the voice of Carl Fredricksen, a kind-hearted old man who is Up’s geriatric protagonist. An adventurer, explorer, and inventor at heart, Carl has always dreamed of traveling to a mysterious, tranquil land known as Paradise Falls, having memories of extraordinary stories about its alluring splendor from childhood.

When the construction of some nearby modern establishment threatens the security of his immensely sentimental home, Carl meets a young boy named Russell amidst the ongoing chaos that, perhaps, he sees a bit of himself in; the boy is an explorer of sorts as well, taking great interest in the allure of the “wild.” Whether seeking escape from the imminent destruction of his house, or the boy having struck back interest in some dormant desire of his, Carl finally decides to take up his life of adventure once again; he decides to travel away from his everyday life and soon finds himself—and Russell—on a journey to Paradise Falls.



What follows is the story of a wonderful voyage across an incredible land shared by two newfound friends. Along the way, strange but friendly creatures are encountered as well as dangerous enemies, adding new elements of comedy and adventure to a story that was already engrossing taking place on the porch of an old man’s house.

Up is funny, clever, and a fantastic addition to Pixar’s collection of films. I’m not their biggest fan, but Pixar may have finally reeled me in with Up. I enjoyed it five times more than I ever expected I would, and I look forward to its DVD (or, better yet, Blu-ray) release; I’m sure Up will stand the test of time and just get better with more viewings.




Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
(Michael Bay, 2009)



In short, Tranformers 2 is one hell of an action movie. It's got giant robots with immense battles and huge explosions, and contains sequences of epic proportions in terms of blissful robot-alien destruction. However, it lacks the essential things that separate it from being a mindless action romp to being a roller-coaster-ride film with a brain: Transformers 2 lacks substance and thoughtful originality to its simple, linear plot.

Taking place roughly a year after the first Transformers concluded, Revenge of the Fallen begins with Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), the saga's young adult protagonist, bound for college, leaving the safety and security of his parents' home. We soon learn that, over the past twelve months, the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, have been traveling around the globe, combating and destroying the remnant survivors of the Decepticon scourge. Wishing to lead a normal life as a normal young man, Sam says his goodbyes to Bumblebee (his personal guardian Autobot)--who had been living in his garage since the end of the first movie--and readies himself for the big move.

Then, it happens: during a conversation over the phone with his insanely hot girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox), he discovers a piece of the all-powerful All-Spark Cube via the tiny shard falling out of a hole (or something) in a shirt he removes from his bedroom closet--the same shirt he had worn during the original battles with the alien robots one year ago.



I literally shook my head. All was well, though, once the action began to commence; as the movie exploded forward, I began to think that the action would make up for that unimportant plot detail. Looking back now, I'm not so sure. Let me explain, but first, I need to do a tiny bit more admiration over the effects and cool explosions and stuff.

Tranformers 2 improved upon the already mind-blowing action sequences and dazzling effects the first film contained; it has more explosions than the first, more fight scenes, and more robots. Many more. Perhaps even too much more, and therein lies one of the movie's biggest problems: its action is too prolonged and even contrived. Two hours into the film, I began to wiggle around in my seat, waiting for a break in the incessant action in order to catch my breath. That break never came. Battle after battle after battle presented itself, and while the epic sequences of war and glorious destruction were spectacles to behold, I needed relief from all of that not in the form of clever one-liners by Sam and his witty pals. I never got such relief.



Overall, Tranformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen presents action and battles of epic proportions between ultra-cool robotic alien races, but its weak plot, poor explanations for the return of the film's antagonists and their goals on Earth, and often too lengthy sequences of action brings it down to something less than what I, along with what I'd guess to be many other fans of the first, had hoped for.

+



I ain't gettin' in no fryer!
Great review, DOM! I'm tempted to see it again simply because I might've been too tired when I went to see it at 12:01, but after reading through everyone's reviews, I don't think it would change anything.
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"I was walking down the street with my friend and he said, "I hear music", as if there is any other way you can take it in. You're not special, that's how I receive it too. I tried to taste it but it did not work." - Mitch Hedberg



Great review, DOM! I'm tempted to see it again simply because I might've been too tired when I went to see it at 12:01, but after reading through everyone's reviews, I don't think it would change anything.
I'm guessing an immediate rewatch wouldn't cause you to alter your opinion much, either. Even if you were sleepy, unless you actually fell asleep, there's not much to catch here during a second time around (I'm guessing; I've only seen it once myself).

Hey, I'll probably eventually get it on Blu-ray (significantly after its release, once it goes down in price), but I can gladly wait until then to watch Transformers 2 a second time.



Poltergeist
(Tobe Hooper, 1982)



Regarding ghostly aberrational terror and the perseverance of a parent’s will to save their lost child, Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist is as good as it gets. With an engrossing, chilling story, characters with which a strong bond is easily forged, and special effects and music that scream awe and sheer brilliance, this film stands miles above most—or all—titles in its genre and is among my personal favorite movies of all time.

Coupled with Steven Spielberg, who is well acquainted with the horror business with titles such as Jaws under his belt, Hooper, also well versed in horror having directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, delivers a cinematic masterpiece regarding the depiction of otherworldly spirits wreaking havoc upon an innocent suburban family. This success—the level of unrelenting terror and chaos found in Poltergeist—is achieved by Hooper through first acquainting the audience with the film’s very likable family, presenting them in the film’s very pleasant, aesthetically pleasing setting before having this relatively tranquil atmosphere all come crashing down into horrifying disarray once the action presents itself, forcing the audience to feel for the characters throughout their dire turmoil. Without such prior investments in the characters and setting, the emotional impact would not quite have been there, but climax is built up to expertly in this way. In short, this is storytelling of the horror genre at its very best, by two of the very best people to present it.



Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams play Steve and Diane Freeling, the parents of Dana (Dominique Dunn), Robbie (Oliver Robbins), and Carole Anne (Heather O’Rourke) who all, as a family, live in a large suburban community, mountains off in the distance to one side and a vast, ancient graveyard looming ominously overhead on the other, set high up on top of a hill. It’s a town that looks much like any other, but its founders harbor a dark secret that makes itself terrifyingly evident when the Freelings eventually find themselves under assault by otherworldly entities that shouldn’t exist. Once these beings kidnap Carole Anne, the Freeling’s youngest daughter, taking her to their hidden spectral realm, Steve and Diane call paranormal investigators to their home in hopes of ridding their house of the spirits and getting their daughter back. When the investigators find this to be a more difficult task than they ever could have imagined, they bring in Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein), a reportedly powerful psychic.

With Tangina’s presence, the unwelcome inhabitants of the Freeling’s house begin to grow more hostile, and once the psychic reveals several hauntingly dark truths about their malevolent nature, together with the family and the paranormal investigators, she forms a plan to rescue Carole Anne and cleanse the house once and for all. Her plan is both a success and a failure, however, for in successfully bringing back Steven and Diane’s little girl, Tangina fails to rid the house of its ghosts.

What plays out next is a terrifying series of events which brings forth a horrifying revelation about the community’s past, and presents the Freeling family with their most terrifying encounter with the spirits yet.



All performances are spectacular, especially that of JoBeth Williams and the young Heather O’Rourke, and the film’s climax is nothing short of a spectacle. The special effects are outstanding, having watched the movie on Blu-ray format (the ghosts, such as the huge skull and the skeletal dragon, seem to pop right out of the screen), but above all else is the film’s musical score. The music inspires emotion at every end of the spectrum seamlessly, invoking hair-raising terror during sequences of tension and relieving tranquility during sequences of happiness. Poltergeist is a film I can watch again and again, and it will remain just as scary—and just as good—each and every time.




\m/ Fade To Black \m/
Great reviews as always Dom
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N3wt's Movie Reviews New DVD Thread Top-100



District 9
(Neill Blomkamp, 2009)



Only kind of wanting to see it in theaters initially, after reading outstanding reviews here (at MoFo) for District 9, I said “What the hell” and went to my local cinema. And while I feel District 9 didn’t quite live up to the hype, it still proved to be an enjoyable summer movie with some very cool concepts, themes, and sequences of action. Mostly I have two major gripes, one more of a personal complaint and one that I felt was an out-right flaw in the story (which I’ll go into later in the review), and it is these two problems, primarily, that hold District 9 back from being as good as it could have been, but nonetheless, it’s a good film, especially considering this was Neill Blomkamp’s directorial debut.

My biggest gripe (the former of the two complaints I mentioned above) is—pure and simply—I thought the movie started out pretty slow. The hand-held camera type of cinematography and how the film began as a collection of interviews caught me off guard, as I didn’t know District 9 was going to be that kind of movie, style-wise. It took me a little while to settle into that particular feel and atmosphere, but once I finally did, and once the character introductions (etc.) were out of the way, I thought things really picked up; it just took me longer than I’d have liked to get there, to that point. To re-enforce those thoughts, knowing that Peter Jackson had a hand in District 9, my mind couldn’t keep from making comparisons between this and 2005’s King Kong, as I thought King Kong also started out painstakingly slow, but as with District 9, once it picked up, it got exceptionally good.

As far as my other problem, it is this (this next bit contains spoilers): toward the end of the movie, when the protagonist (Wikus) forms a shaky alliance with Christopher (the intellectual prawn with a son) in hopes of reaching a cure for the infestation of the alien DNA hybridizing him, one moment we see Wikus knocking Christopher out in an angry rage, taking off in the space shuttle—leaving the poor creature behind without much of a second thought—and then, before we know it, Wikus risks his life for Christopher upon his return, giving up a better shot at freedom by going back to save him from the crazed military soldier. I just couldn’t understand that sudden complete change of character; how one minute Wikus couldn’t care less about Christopher and separating him from his son, and the next minute sacrificing himself to allow Chris the chance to escape to save his people. It left me scratching my head. But the action scenes that followed certainly helped make up for it.



Aside from that, I enjoyed my theatrical experience of watching District 9. I found myself becoming more and more engrossed in District 9’s unique and captivating story as the film progressed, and ended up liking my decision to see it in theaters. It has its flaws, but it also has its good points too, and those lie in the film’s fantastic action, the story (of course), and the movie’s many themes which it explores wonderfully, which range from perseverance of those who have strong will, to redemption achieved through unconventional friendships. Albeit not at full price as a new release, this will be one I eventually pick up on DVD (or Blu-ray).




The Happening
(M. Night Shyamalan, 2008)



Set in the Northeastern United States, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening tells the grisly story of human survival once the plants of the Earth themselves develop mechanisms of defense against people, releasing deadly toxins into the air that cause every person who breathes it in to kill themselves. Like all of Shyamalan’s films, The Happening has a slow-moving—yet suspenseful—atmospheric feel to it that gives its tension a lasting effect, and although this unique style of filmmaking didn’t work with me for some of his earlier films (The Village and Lady in the Water), it does work well here as it did in my favorites of his, Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense.

This tale of “What if the plants fought back” is chilling on a primal level, seemingly silly at first, but the film is well-executed and tells its story in a way that compels the audience, providing suspenseful sequences throughout that almost always leads to a disturbing scene (or two) of grim horror that I find relentlessly pleasurable to watch. The deaths, from people walking into lion cages at zoos, provoking the vicious beasts to attack, to laying down in front of riding lawnmowers are fresh, albeit a bit over-the-top and unrealistic-looking at times.



The Happening’s most noteworthy, memorable component doesn’t lie in the compelling story or in Shyamalan’s unique style of filmmaking, though, but rather in the cast. Mark Wahlberg (Renaissance Man), Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia), and John Leguizamo (The Babysitters) make up the front lines, all of whom I find to be particularly good at what they do. Mark Wahlberg gives the film’s protagonist, Elliot, that wittingly charming personality yet that tough, threatening-when-needed exterior he always brings to his characters on-screen, and although this isn’t her best performance, Zooey Deschanel as Alma, Elliot’s troubled wife, is sweet and radiates an aura of total goo-goo-eyed innocence. John Leguizamo plays Elliot’s caring friend, displaying a personality that you can’t help but become at least somewhat emotionally attached to.

Not the film’s entire cast is as exceptional as these three stars, however; I didn’t care much for Betty Buckley or the character which she plays (the old woman hermit); I feel that she detracted from the story and could have somehow been left out of the movie entirely. Certain actors playing bystanders or insignificant onlookers to the film’s graphic events irritated me as well, sometimes stating a very unconvincing “My God” that nearly spoiled the action at times for me, but I remained focused and gradually pressed on.



Overall, I found The Happening to be a compelling suspense-horror with a fantastic cast, yet containing an undesirable number of unconvincing and/or unrealistic moments throughout, dotting its otherwise engrossing, atmospheric progression. That said, many of its all-too-numerous, dismally poor reviews (not to mention the IMDB’s current rating of 5.2/10) fail to do it justice and, in short, contrary to all that, I find it to be a good film.

-



I liked The Happening (yes, I'm one of the few) but I can't agree with you about the performances Dom, they were horrible. Truly, truly, horrible. I don't blame the actors, I blame the director because, I assume, they were giving him what he asked for. They must've, because they're all a lot better than that. Maybe there's a method to it that I didn't notice, which makes the performances make sense, but I thought they were dreadful and I'd recommend this film only to those who enjoy 'end of the world/mankind' films.

and I'm being really kind because I did enjoy it.



I liked The Happening (yes, I'm one of the few) but I can't agree with you about the performances Dom, they were horrible. Truly, truly, horrible. I don't blame the actors, I blame the director because, I assume, they were giving him what he asked for. They must've, because they're all a lot better than that. Maybe there's a method to it that I didn't notice, which makes the performances make sense, but I thought they were dreadful and I'd recommend this film only to those who enjoy 'end of the world/mankind' films.

and I'm being really kind because I did enjoy it.
Perhaps I'm being a bit biased because I'm a big fan of all three main stars, but I liked their performances. I did say in my review, though, that Zooey didn't exactly deliver her best performance here; she was rather monotone at times, and her facial expressions during some scenes overdid what was really necessary.

This was my first viewing, and my ratings fairly often shift a half-a-point (or more in some cases) between first-time watches and rewatches, so we'll see. As for now, though, I like The Happening enough (and think it's good enough) to be a weak
.

And thank you, HK, for actually bringing discussion to my thread. I greatly appreciate quick compliments and the rep, but the actual discussions are what it's all about, and that's what my thread's severely lacking for whatever reason.



You're welcome, Dom.

I can't speak for other people but, firstly, I don't see review threads as threads for lengthy discussion, so I'm less likely to comment anything that could/will develop into anything beyond a couple of comments.

Secondly, again just speaking for myself, I either haven't seen the films you've reviewed (that's usually the case) or it's so long since I saw them that I can't bring the specifics to mind readily enough to, again, post much more than a broad comment. Which is pretty much what I did after your review of The Happening, which I've only seen once and that was last year when it was released.

In reply to what you said, while I agree that Zooey Deschanel was quite monotone, she wasn't the worst offender, IMO. I thought Wahlberg was the worst performance, however, in terms of what I think they're capable of, John Leguizamo was awful. I think he's got real talent and that was the worst performance I've seen him give.



You're welcome, Dom.

I can't speak for other people but, firstly, I don't see review threads as threads for lengthy discussion, so I'm less likely to comment anything that could/will develop into anything beyond a couple of comments.

Secondly, again just speaking for myself, I either haven't seen the films you've reviewed (that's usually the case) or it's so long since I saw them that I can't bring the specifics to mind readily enough to, again, post much more than a broad comment. Which is pretty much what I did after your review of The Happening, which I've only seen once and that was last year when it was released.

In reply to what you said, while I agree that Zooey Deschanel was quite monotone, she wasn't the worst offender, IMO. I thought Wahlberg was the worst performance, however, in terms of what I think they're capable of, John Leguizamo was awful. I think he's got real talent and that was the worst performance I've seen him give.
Fair enough, and understood about the leaving of comments. At least we agree that Mark Wahlberg, Zooey, and John Leguizamo are talented to begin with, even if they don't show it to their utmost in this movie.



I don't know what it was-it could have been the writing or it could have been the director requiring the actors to deliver their lines a certain way, but there were some scenes that I am assuming were supposed to be serious and I was laughing because of the delivery of the lines-Mark W. was the most noticeable. I lean towards the idea he was doing it on purpose.



I don't know what it was-it could have been the writing or it could have been the director requiring the actors to deliver their lines a certain way, but there were some scenes that I am assuming were supposed to be serious and I was laughing because of the delivery of the lines-Mark W. was the most noticeable. I lean towards the idea he was doing it on purpose.
I assume he was doing what he was asked too. If, for no other reason, that I think that Shyalaman is a good enough director to get the performances he wants. I'm not a big fan of his (I like his first two films and The Happening) but I think he has talent and, therefore, must've liked what he was seeing.