Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Godfather Part II (1974)

Rating: 100%
Yay! We come to it at last ladies and gentlemen. The last pest picture winner for me to review. So let's not say anything more as I finally give you my 500th review: Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part II.

Plot: The movie is split into two stories - one about Michael Corleone and one about his father Vito Corleone a.k.a. The Godfather. It mainly focuses on Michael about a couple of years after the events from the first movie. After a failed assassination attempt on his life, Michael travels to try to hold things together with his business ventures as he believes that one of his father's oldest partners is behind the assassination attempt and that there is someone in the family who helped him. But as that story is going on, we also focus on his father Vito and his life from childhood to when he rose to finding the Corleone family in New York.

What is there to say that isn't already said about this movie? The Godfather Part II is longer, more complex, darker, succeeds where many sequels don't in giving us a completely different kind of story then was the previous film gave us, and it develops very deeply into the characters from the first film while also giving us new characters to enjoy. As a result not only did it win best picture in its year, but it's considered to be one of the world's greatest cinematic achievements in history. It's ranked #1 on TV Guide's 1998 list of the "50 Greatest Movies of All Time on TV and Video", it's featured on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list, it's currently #3 on IMDb's Top 250 movies, below only The Shawshank Redemption and the first Godfather movie, the list goes on and on and on. One of the most common things that are particularly loved about this movie are it's performances. This movie especially had three nomination for best supporting character because it had so many great performances such as Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth and Michael V. Gazzo as Frank "Five Angels" Pentangeli. But in the end it was Robert De Niro who won the oscar for his excellent performance as a young Vito Corleone who went from a young and honest man in Little Italy to one of the most respected Dons in New York City. But what is considered to be one of the biggest oscar screw ups was Al Pacino losing for best actor in a leading role for his performance as Michael Corleone. As who can blame us for feeling that? When I say this film developed very deeply into the characters, I was primarily referring to Michael. From the beginning to the end of this movie, Michael as a character changes dramatically up to the point where AFI even ranked him # 11 in their list of top villains. And Al Pacino does a spectacular job at it. Finally I will point out that people who love the first two Godfather movies are heavily divided over which one is their favorite or which one is truly better. Some say the first one is the best because nothing beats the original and they find the second to be a little too confusing and too long. Other think the second one is best simply because as wonderful as the first one is, The Godfather Part II is a slightly bigger masterpiece -mainly because its performances from Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. As for me, I will admit that I do find the first one to be a bigger classic and a little easier to understand, but that doesn't stop this movie from being any less of an ultimate masterpiece.

And that my friends is my review for The Godfather Part II. It's one of the greatest movies of all time with a sequel that is more complex and darker with a completely new kind of story and characters that are extremely well developed with terrific performances from Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and many other actors. If you haven't seen this movie or its predecessor, go check it out. It make take watching them more then once to understand everything, but it's worth it.

So there you have it. All best picture winners to date and 500 movies reviewed total. With the best pictures I want to conclude in saying that while it's very true that many of these films have not dated well and in some cases had no right whatsoever to win, *glares at Out Of Africa and Shakespeare In Love*  that doesn't mean we don't have great movies that deserved such a title. Movies like All Quiet in the Western Front, The Godfather films, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Million Dollar Baby, Schindler's List, Casablanca and so on still are rightly viewed as the best pictures of their years as well as some of the greatest movies of all time. There may not be a whole lot of movies created today that go that high in the film world, but it's not impossible for there to be more films to come that may yet become some of the greatest. With that said, I also want to thank all of you for reading my reviews. It's been quite a journey going through so many movies good and bad or in between or what have you. And yet there's still plenty more to see just from the remainder of this year alone with The Wolverine, Kick-Ass 2, Thor 2, the next Hobbit film and so on. Until then, this is H.A.K. saying thank you again for reading and here's to more reviews that are yet to come.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Goodfellas (1990)

Rating: 95%
Alright. Now we're at movie review # 499 so let's review the movie everyone feels should've won best picture in 1990 instead of Dances With Wolves: Goodfellas.

Plot: Henry Hill narrates the story of the film saying that he basically always wanted to be a gangster and thus always wanted to be a part of the Lucchese crime family. So he quits school and goes to work for them and eventually is taken under the wing of Paul "Paulie" Cicero and his associates Jimmy "The Gent" Conway and Tommy DeVito. The rest of the film goes through the rise of the Lucchese family and the experiences Henry has between his work, his associates and his life at home with his wife.

Now one of the reasons I decided to finally fully see this movie is that I first saw a really good portion of it at film school and I was really hooked. But sadly I had to stop because I needed to get home, so I kept waiting for a good oppertunity to finally fully see it myself. But from how so many people felt about the movie, I felt I should've tried to stay just long enough for the end of the movie so I can give my honest two cents. The biggest thing everyone says about this movie as I just states in the beginning of this review is that everyone finds it to be a huge Oscar screw up for Goodfellas to be defeated by Dances With Wolves for best picture. Now as I've stated in my review for Dances With Wolves I have to admit that I can understand and can agree that it really just won because of the political statement that it made. And I still stand by it when I say that even if Goodfellas should've won, Dances With Wolves isn't the worst movie it could lose to. But for the most part I do agree with everyone else that it's Goodfellas who should've won. Rather then focus on the main leader of a crime family and his personal family like The Godfather movies, it focuses on just one of the wise guy members who just always wanted to be a gangster because of how you and just about do or be anything. People like Henry would have to rob or rough up people and deliver some goods, but that aside, they would just hang out and live like kings. And this film shows it all with its violence, language and...well just about anything you would expect from a gangster movie. And of coarse you have your memorable performances such as Ray Liotta as Henry, Robert DeNiro as Jimmy and more commonly praised, Joe Pesci as Tommy who won best supporting actor for his performance.

And that's my review for Goodfellas. It's a great movie with a story that keeps you interested, with it's characters that were very well acted and give another violent yet fun take at the world of gangsters. If any film should've won best picture that year instead of Dances With Wolves, it's definitely this one.   

Awakenings (1990)

Ratings: 90%
Here's my review for Awakenings and boy is it quite a movie.

Plot: Dr. Sayer is a dedicated and caring physician at a local hospital where he especially works with Catatonia. Sayer begins to discover certain stimuli that reaches beyond the patients' states except for one particular patient named Leonard who is able to communicate via Ouija board. But when he hears about the L-Dopa drug and what it does for people with Parkinson's disease, Sayer decides to use the drug on Leonard believing that it can be used as a breakthrough for all the patients.

Wow. Just wow. This tells a remarkable story about what it means to be alive and to be free making it very moving and heartwarming. And nowhere is that spectacularly shown then in the performances from Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams. DeNiro did an excellent job with how he spoke, moved reacted to what was happening around him. When I brought up that I finally saw this movie to my brother Tommy, he expressed how this movie expresses that Robin Williams is a very underrated actor. And he's absolutely right. This is a Robin Williams that we should really see more often: a great dramatic actor. In this film he does no voices, says no jokes, just doesn't try to be funny in any way. It's just pure dramatic acting and he does a wonderful job at it to the point where it's just doesn't make sense to me that he wasn't even nominated for his performance at the Oscars that year. This is a side of Robins Williams as an actor that I think we should see much more of. Heck, I recently found out that he's in the upcoming movie The Butler later this year and it looks like he'll be serious in that one too which would be awesome. The rest of the performances are very well done as well, Julie Kavner seems to be the most notable aside from DeNiro and Williams (fun fact; she's Marge Simpsons from The Simpsons.) And of coarse the story just draws you to want to know more about what happened to the character and what is being done today with Cantonia or things related to that.

And that's my review for Awakenings. It tells a dramatic and moving story with wonderful performances from DeNiro and Williams and a message that expresses what it means to be alive and interest you more about what is happening today about a subject like Cantonia. It's a great movie, highly recommended.     

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ghost (1990)

Rating: 75%
So as I am reaching 500 and am almost done with going through all the best picture winners, I decided to get closer to 500 by reviewing most of the best picture nominees from 1990. I'm doing this for three reasons. One, 1990 is the year I was born, so I thought why not make that year the first one where I've reviewed both the winner and all the nominees. Two, I've heard some good/mixed things about some of these nominees to the point where one of the for sure should've won instead of Dances With Wolves. And finally, the last reason you'll just have to find out when I get to the last nominee eventually. But enough talking about that, let's move on with my review for Ghost.

Plot: Sam is a banker who just recently moved in with his girlfriend Molly. But on the way home from a play, an armed thug kills Sam while trying to get his wallet which results in his ghost arising from his body. Eventually Sam finds out that the same thug is now after Molly, so he teams up with a psychic who is able to hear him to try to find out what the thug is after and save Molly.

Okay I'm not completely sure with I would agree this movie would be so good as to be at least nominated for best picture, but at the same time I can see why it would be. The story is very simple in that it doesn't go farther then what happens in the story or what the characters go through. For the most part it just is what it is as a story and as a film as a whole. This also goes for the concept of ghosts in this movie as there isn't a whole lot of things different from what we would mostly think of when we think of ghosts. But for the most part the way they showed us what ghosts can do and how they can do that was well done for the most part. But what seems to really make this films enjoyable are the characters. And while none of my hearts strings were pulled or anything, I will admit that that they were acted pretty well. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore gave very good emotional performances as Sam and Molly. And Whoopi Goldberg did a very good job at being the comedy for the film while also performing some very good dramatic moments herself. I don't think it was so great that she completely deserved to win best supporting actress per say, but it's still neat that she did win.

And that's my review for Ghost. It's a very nice story about love, death and ghosts that generally doesn't really try to be anything more then it really needs to be and has some very good emotional performances from from its star actors. Even if being nominated for best picture might've been much to be, it's still a pretty good film and I think you would have a nice time enjoying. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Rating: 95%
So after I saw The Lone Ranger with my friend Blaine, he realized that I didn't see this film all the way yet. So he decided to fix that by showing me the film and now here's my review for Pan's Labyrinth.

Plot: Set in post- Civil War in Spain, Ofelia is a young girl who travels with her pregnant mother to meet her stepfather, Captain Vidal. During her stay she comes across a fairy who takes her deep into the labyrinth where she meets a fawn. He tells her that he believes that she is actually Princess Moanna of the underworld, who lost her memory due to going to the human world out of curiosity and eventually died. The father of the princess believes that her spirit would return, and so believing that Ofelia is Moanna, send her to these three quests before the full moon so that her essence may stay intact.

This was an excellent movie to finally see after hearing so much about it. It has a very sad, and dark story that has all these kinds of symbolism/similarities to other fairy tales and fantasy stories like Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland. But what makes it really unique is how they put all the similarities together to make this story that is different. There are some things that you think will happen, but they might do something else entirely which makes it more original. The actors gave terrific performances, the most memorable would be Ivana Baquero, Sergi López and Doug Jones as Ofelia, Captain Vidal and The Fawn. And this movie is also known for having great cinematography, make up and art direction. And why not? All three of them are great. This film has great shots, the design is very creative, and I just really like how much work they really put into the makeup above everything else. Blaine showed me the special features for this film and that just impressed me all the more with why they deserved the Oscar for that particular category. They did an awful lot to bring a character to life or make a certain cut or wound look very real. And the process that they went through for creating the Fawn and the Pale Man and make them look very creative and unique to creating those certain types of creatures.

And that's my review for Pan's Labyrinth. It's a great movie with a very well written story, excellent acting, and as it's more commonly known, shows a great sense of art with its cinematography, art design and makeup. It's a very enjoyable film despite how particularly sad and dark it can be, but if you haven't seen this movie before, you should check it out.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Flushed Away (2006)

Rating: 85%
This is another film that my friend Meg got me into watching and this one probably surprised me the most. So here's my review for Flushed Away.

Plot: Roddy is a pet rat living in a upper crust Kensington flat who all around enjoys living his life. But while the family that takes care of him is on a vacation, a sewer rat comes in and pushes Roddy into the toilet and flushes him in so he can stay in the house. This leads to Roddy discovering a city of rats in the sewers and meets a female rat named Rita who is trying to get her hands on her father's ruby by her arch enemy, The Toad. So Roddy decides to help her get the ruby back in exchange for Rita helping him get back to his home.

I wasn't really sure what to expect with Flushed Away since I didn't really know an awful lot about the story or anything like that. But what I found from finally seeing the movie, I was surprised with how it was a pretty good movie. It had a really good cast with Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian Mckellen, Bill Nightly and even Andy Serkis. The story while having some cliches here and there, was enjoyable and well told. The characters where fun and were developed very well. I think my favorite character would be The Toad. He was this fun character who had these different sides to him and Ian Mckellen really brought that to life really well. But the best part of the movie is the comedy. The comedy was not only funny, but sometimes it was very creative and used very well. The action was also very fun and exciting which was a very nice touch for me, and the animation was pretty good.

And that's my review for Flushed Away. The story has some cliches, but it otherwise is fun film with a great cast, enjoyable characters, exciting action and some very, very good comedy. It's a very fun film and I would recommend watching it.

The Lion King 1 1/2 (2004)

Rating: 40%
Alright here's another film Meg showed me. Since I have reviewed both the original movie and the sequel, it make sense I guess to review the prequel, parallel film, The Lion King 1 1/2.

Plot: Set before and during the events of the first film, the story begins with Timon turning out to once lived with his mother and Uncle Max in their Meerkat colony. Timon is an outcast to the colony because he screws things up and wants something outside of what the colony does, so he eventually leaves to find that something and eventually meets Pumbaa and tags him along with find out what he's really looking for.

Okay so this is kind of another knock-off of something Shakespeare or Shakespeare related play. Except while the last two films were from actual Shakespeare work like Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, this is based on a play that's outside of Shakespeare that's basically parallel story to Hamlet called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Basically the play went more into the exploits of the two minor character Rosencratz and Guildenstern during the events of Hamlet. The Lion King 1 1/2 is basically doing the same thing but it doesn't always work. It's not to say that none of the times where Timon and Pumbaa somehow were around when major events from the first half of The Lion King were good. Some of them in fact were interesting and even a little bit clever. But he rest of the time didn't work because either it was there just to make the reference to the first film and in some cases mess up the continuity from the first film. The story was... okay. On one hand you could say that it contributes to genuinely getting to know Timon and Pumbaa a little bit more, but not quite in the way where we learn something really important or interesting about them. Timon's mom and Uncle Max were not all that interesting except for the fact that Timon's mom was voiced by Julie Kavner who does the voice of Marge from The Simpsons. The comedy had a couple of moments where the jokes where funny or at least very clever and well thought out, but otherwise where more for kids and otherwise just made references - sometimes not always references to The Lion King. In fact there were point where they would just throw in stuff like the song "Sunrise, Sunset" from The Fiddler on the Roof kind of out of the blue.

And that's my review for The Lion King. It has cute comedy and some clever moments where the story ties into the first film, but it's otherwise a film that just didn't completely work as a parallel story to The Lion King, had new characters that were nothing special and while is not among the absolute worst that Disney has done as far as sequels go, is still not really a good movie and doesn't have a whole lot of importance to any of the characters.

The Lone Ranger (2013)

Rating: 20%
Yeah. I actually decided to see this movie with my friend Blaine...let's just get this over with.

Plot: Lawyer John Reid comes back home to Colby, Texas to visit his older brother who is a Texas Ranger. His brother convinces him to join in arresting outlaw Butch Cavendish so he can be hanged, but the Rangers get ambushed killing all them including his brother. But then an Indian named Tanto finds Reid revived by white spirit horse and convinces him to take part in defeating Butch using a mask and taking the name The Lone Ranger.

Okay, okay, you all know the real focus about this movie: Johnny Depp. So let's just start with talking about him. Now as some of you might've read in my review for Dark Shadows back when that was in theaters, I basically summed up the current problem about Depp these days in the words of one critic "How is it possible that a man who just a few years ago stood as one of our most exciting and unconventional actors has now become one of the most predictable?" -Matt Burnson. I say this because he was once an actor that was a very remarkable and unique inspiration to actors everywhere, even to me at times back when I use to want to make a career in acting. But now he's become nothing more then just different versions of Jack Sparrow. In this case, he's an "Indian" Jack Sparrow. Case Closed. He did actually make me chuckle a good amount of times, but that was it. And I know all about how that pissed people off. Almost everyone who expressed their disinterest to this movie basically because they were upset over how a white guy like Depp is playing Tonto, and not an actual Native American. Now I was to state two things if you guys are among those people who are offended or just pissed off over this thing. 1) It's my understanding that Johnny Depp is actually part Native American. So if that's the case, then this is not as dramatically a big of a deal as it seems even if it's probably still offensive. 2) To Depp's somewhat defense, what the heck makes you so sure that ANY Native American would have the nerve to consider playing a role like Tonto? Because we're talking about a character who was originally played by a white guy and was considered totally degrading to the Native American people. So Depp doesn't help, but for heaven sakes everyone, the character is practically a big insult to Native Americans from the moment it existed! That being said, I didn't care for Armie Hammer's Lone Ranger. He wasn't a terrible actor, but the character himself was just bland and not really interesting. And Helena Bonham Carter's character was there just to that Helena Bonham Carter could be in it. Finally, the action was okay, and the story was very predictable and cliche.

And that's my review for The Lone Ranger. It did to it's credit have some amusing jokes. But otherwise, it met my expectations of The Long Ranger being uninteresting, the action is nothing special, and sadly Johnny Depp was being just another predictable version of Jack Sparrow and clearly needs to take a break from acting and rethink things. If you're going to see it, I'd wait until you can rent it on DVD, but in either case, you're not really going to remember it at all.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Godzilla (1998)

Rating: 25%
The main reason why I decided to finally watch this movie again on top of reviewing it is just to find out what I'd think about it compared to when I saw it the first time. Because while everyone talked about how it was crap over the years, I just remembered being scared as heck to go see it. *audience snickers* Hey! I was only 7 years old! *audience goes 'ooooohhhh' and nods at each other going 'that makes a little bit of sense'* But anyway, with one scary memory faced with realizing a movie that was just crap, this in my review for Godzilla.

Plot: A nuclear test in French Polynesia causes a lizard nest to be destroyed from the blast of the atom bomb. But one egg survives only to be mutated causing the baby lizard to to develop atavistic traits of ancestral reptilian species. Eventually this turns it into a giant lizard that attacks a Japanese fishing vessel and eventually New York. So the military is trying to stop it while Dr. Nick Tatopoulos is assigned to try to figure out what it wants and try to stop it.

Okay so here's the thing. Despite how scared I was to even think that my parents would have the nerve to make me see the movie, my oh-so young mind left me to believe that there was some sort of decent characters and storytelling that I saw while being oh so super scared. And yet here I am today almost 23 years old and have seen it for the first time since then and realizing that not only was I wrong about not having any decent characters or storytelling, but all the rough exposition that I did remember was just thrown there and that was kind of it. It turned out that this film focused more on explosions and chases and special effects then anything else. I mean I knew this movie was going to turn out bad, but I figured there would be at least a pretty good amount of character/story development even if it's bad development. I particularly felt that way with the relationship between Nick and Audrey. I thought there was more to their realtionship that I just didn't pay attention to the first time. But it turns out that they barely talked about their past, had only one scene together before they have their moment where one is mad at the other as they're talking in the rain, and aside from one or two moments, the rest of the film was just them running from Godzilla and his kids. All that aside, the action was a little silly with how easily the military kept not hitting Godzilla.  I mean sometimes it made sense because he somehow had some good agility or something like that supposedly, but still. Oh! And this is kind of the kicker. This bad thing is unique but... they do a  really crappy job at what they were trying to do. The makers of the films were also the people who made Stargate and Independence Day which rightfully got bad reviews. But they seemed to be really pissed when famous critics Siskel and Ebert gave it bad reviews. So in response to that, they made satirized versions of both critics as two supporting characters in the movie to try to insult them. But they didn't really take advantage of the oppertunity of making fun of the critics. In fact Siskel himself stated "If you're going to go to the trouble of putting us in a monster movie, why don't you at least take advantage of having the monster either eat and squash us." So the really interesting yet completely messed up thing is that they're trying to get back at these critics, and they do a remarkably sloppy job at even doing that. 

And that's my review for Godzilla. What I thought was a scary movie that might've had decent characters and story, turned out to be a movie focused on just effects and explosions with all the possible exposition just thrown at but never really developed. And it's a movie that's bad in a unique way because they spend a portion of the time trying to get back at Siskel and Ebert for previous bad reviews, but don't really take advantage of it which is both stupid and really sad. It's a very poorly done movie, not worth your time.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

Rating: 70 %
All for the past couple of months, one of my best friends Meg has been showing me a lot of movies that she really feels I "have" to see. So as part of working my way to 500 reviews, I'm going to talk about some of those films that I mostly want to talk about. So let's start that with Badknobs and Broomsticks.

Plot: During the London Blitz in 1940, these three siblings named Charlie, Carrie and Paul are sent to the care of Eglantine Price much to her displeasure of taking them to her home. But when the children discover that Eglantine is an apprentice witch who is practicing to take part in the war effort, they convince her to tag them along as she being to find the headteacher of her school to begin perfecting her spells.

Okay now while this movie is quite frankly one that I’m sure I would not have enjoyed when I was a kid, watching it grown up, I would say that I was fairly entertained. It was funny, it had some charm, the story was nice, some characters were memorable (but maybe not completely memorable as far as Disney goes), while most songs weren’t too different from each other in some ways, a couple did stand out like “Portobello Road” and “Substitutiary Locomotion”, and it gave us a unique look at things like witches and magic. But it ultimately worked best when it was funny. With scenes like when the main characters went to that cartoon island and the battle in the climax of the film, they really gave us some humorous moment that left me chuckling quite a bit. It wasn't downright hilarious, but it was really enjoyable family humor.

And that's my review for Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Is this a super underrated Disney film? Eh... maybe. I can't really say for sure. But while I wouldn’t say that it’s one of the greatest Disney has given us, it was light, whimsical, funny, and gave us at least some animation to boot, which doesn’t make it great but least was still entertaining to say the least. If you haven't seen it, I'd say it's worth at least giving  it a try for its good songs, fun animation and pretty enjoyable family comedy.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

All The King's Men (1949)

Rating: 90%
Okay before I begin, I just want to say you won't believe how weirdly hard it was to finally be able to watch this movie. For a while when I trying to find the movie on the internet or the library, I would just about always get the 2006 version as a response...which as an 11% on rotten tomatoes or something...yeah...that's just not right. But anyway, here we are with the second to last best picture winner to review and the last one to review from the 40's. Here is finally my review for All the King's Men.

Plot: The story begins with reporter Jack Burden who is assigned to write a story about Willie Stark: a man who taught himself law and become a lawyer while also attempting to go into politics. His efforts go horribly wrong at first due to how he's more honest and innocent compared to the corrupted politicians he's fighting against, but eventually he figures things out and eventually goes as far as becoming the governor of the state is loved by everybody. But things start to go wrong when people around begin to feel that he's becoming corrupted by the power he is given.

Okay now I understand why some people seem to think it doesn't hold out as much as it did in '49. Because let's be honest, the story about people being corrupted by power is becoming a more common and therefore becoming a bit more of a cliche then it was back then. But that doesn't necessarily stop it from being a good movie for what it was. The story was told very well, the acting was very well done, heck it was interesting to know that this movie was basically based off a real Louisiana governor from the mid 30's where apparently everything that happens in this movie pretty much happened back then. On a whole, it's a movie that goes into what happens when power really corrupts and it gives a very good idea at what it can really do to people. Plus this film also focuses on what happens to the people around Willie Stark when he become corrupted and reckless in some ways which is good. But I think what interests be the most from watching this movie again is not just how Broderick Crawford's performance gave us a man who completely lost his innocence throughout the film (although it is the main factor as to why he deserved to win Best Actor for it), but also how it was hinted that he was going to be corrupt. Maybe I"m just taking his performance a completely different way then how I should, but watching roughly the first half of the movie again, I realized that even when he was down on his luck, there seemed to be hints that he's not quite as good as you'd expect. That these moments showed how maybe he wasn't 100% on the focus of the people and possibly focused on things just to get the power and be loved and that made it easier for him to be corrupted. Again, I might've read too much into that, but if that's the case, then that's a little interesting that the character Willie Stark and what happens to him may not be quite as black and white as I remembered. Anything else to say, I didn't quite care much for Jack and Anne during the second half because of how they would still be loyal to Stark despite what happens that makes everyone unsure/hate him.

And that's my review for All The King's Men. If you don't like it because of some of the characters or how the moral is more of a cliche then it was before, that's understandable. But otherwise, it's a very well done movie with a good story, well done acting, a main character that was not only well acted, but maybe was not quite as black and white and you might think making him a little more intriguing. It's a very enjoyable film and considering its time at the very least, it's little wonder that it won best picture.

So that's every single best picture winner I have reviewed...except for one. What in the world could that possibly be? Well you are going to find out soon as you might have noticed that I'm not very far away from reaching 500 reviews. So stick around for more as I work my way all the way to my 499th review and I shall finish going through the final one to review as my 500th review. See you then!   

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Skyfall (2012)

Rating: 95%
Alright everyone, now it's time for the film that I've been going through 22 films to prepare myself for, the one that practically everyone really loves. Here at last is my review for Skyfall!

Plot: After Bond is believed to be dead when M tells one of the agent to take the shot what would injure both Bond and the person they were trying to catch, MI6 is being hacked and bombed by Raoul Silva. So when Bond eventually return to London turning out to be alive, M retrains him at another MI6 location and sends him to find Silva and try to capture him before he uses his knowledge about MI6 to reveal the identities of other agents that are out in the fiend thereby blowing their covers and getting captured or killed.

Yeah, I can pretty much see why people love this movie so much. In fact Jeremy Jahns described it in his review for the movie as basically The Dark Knight for James Bond. And I have to agree with him with not just Skyfall, but also Casino Royale and kind of sort of Quantum of Solace. Just from hearing his opinion about this movie I started to really realize part of what makes Craig's first and third movies so good. Just like with The Dark Knight trilogy, Casino Royale and Skyfall are darker takes of Bond that have gadgets that are not seen all that much and are also a little more realistic then what the previous films brought.  It's also very story and character heavy in terms of development. The last two film seem to really build up to this film as far as the relationship between Bond and M. With this film their relationship is clear and more personal then it has ever been before. We also get a new Q with whom we also see get a little close with Bond. The only issue I had with the guy was that he didn't introduce the gadgets he gave Bond by saying "Now pay attention 007." like all the other Qs. But I digress. While darker this movie did slip in a very small amount of comedy into this movie. Now I know it seems like I'm completely done with comedy when it comes to James Bond after I said that I really wanted Bond to be more serious in my The Living Daylights review because of all the attempted comedy from most of Roger Moore's films, but this comedy works. It's not used a lot, it's not trying to get the main attention to the audience, it's just small jokes here and there to make us have a good chuckle here and there as the film goes on. We also surprisingly got into Bond's past which was cool...but kind of half done. I mean it was nice to see where he lived (even though it's a little questionable) and even learn itty bitty things about his parents, but I honestly feel that for the most part it was just thrown in and not really have any purpose aside from being the location for a good portion of the second half. Other then that, the villain was pretty good, the action of coarse was great, and the ending just left a lot of things open leaving you excited for the next film to find out what they do next. Finally the title sequence and the song was awesome. I didn't think too much about the song when I first heard it while watching the Academy Awards earlier this year, but when I heard it again during this title sequence with surround sound on Blue-Ray with a plasma screen TV in Blaine's room, I was left really seeing why it won an Oscar for that song.

And that's my review for Skyfall. despite whatever minor issues I had, it had an excellent story, spectacular characters, an awesome song and title sequence, and leaves you excited to see what they do next at the end of the film. It's one of the best Bond films, I recommend it like so many people did to me long before I did this marathon, it's a very good movie. 

Whew. So there you go. All 23 movies of 007 a.k.a. James Bond seen and reviewed. And in conclusion, it's a very enjoyable franchise...but not what I expected in both good and bad ways. I mean I expected way more gadgets then I got throughout the franchise as I stated in my Die Another Day review, heck it was really surprising to find that there was some that didn't really have any gadgets at all. But at the same time, it can at times have interesting villains and Bond girls such as Goldfinger and Tracy (still wished they went a lot more into her character by the way.) It can be light and silly resulting in mostly being stupid, it can be dark and serious which can be awesome to me and other people but upsetting for everyone else, but it is probably best when it's in between ish and is very creative with its stories and villains. In fact, one of the biggest issues I have with this franchise is how a lot of the villains turn out to really be just robbers and smugglers. I mean I get that not every single film has to be about stopping people who are trying to destroy the world or cause World War III, but...seriously? Drug lords and diamond smugglers? That's kind of pathetic to me quite frankly. In fact, I think that's part of what makes Goldfinger the most memorable villain in the series in a manner that's...possibly too easy. While I didn't find him completely menacing or anything, he still was ruthless and in control and his evil plan was very unique compared to what you would more or less expect from a villain in general. Which is where it makes sense to me why AFI would rank him among the top 50 villains in film history. It just honestly seemed like they kind of gave up in giving us truly interesting and creative villains after that under the exception of  Ernst Starvo and maybe Emilio Largo. But I feel there is hope yet after seeing the villain in Skyfall so we'll just have to see what villain they will come up with in the future. Top Bond girls would have to be Tracy, Vesper, and kind of sort of Moneypenny. My personal top 5 Bond films in order of when they came out would be From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, License to Kill, Casino Royale and Skyfall. As for Bond himself, I will rank the actors from best to worst: 1) Connery 2) Craig 3) Brosnan 4) Dalton 5) Lazenby and 6) Moore. But please let the record be clear that the only one that I actually dislike is Moore. Again, he's not a bad actor, he was just a guy who was really just a Bond impersonator and under two exceptions made decent to bad movies and overstayed his welcome because all of his films made an awful lot of money...or at least in my point of view. So the Bond franchise is an enjoyable franchise, but it definitely has its bad moments throughout the past 50 years. What other great adventures, villains and Bond girls they'll give us next, only time will tell. So thank you for reading as I went through all of these films and I'll see you in my next review.

Quantum of Solace (2008)

Rating: 65%
Okay the second Bond film for Daniel Craig, here's my review for Quantum of Solace.

Plot: Basically starting right after the end of Casino Royale, Bond takes Mr. White to be questioned by MI6. But during the questioning, White reveals that he's part of an organization that they are completely unaware of; Quantum. This leads to M's bodyguard turning out to be a double agent as he helps White escape by attacking M. After killing the kills the bodyguard, Bond tracks down his contact leading him to Dominic Greene who is helping an exiled Bolivian General to overthrow his government.

This is viewed to very easily be Craig's weakest Bond film so far and is even viewed by a lot of fans - at least according to Jeremy Jahns, as a Bond movie that doesn't even exist. And while I wouldn't completely go as far as treating it like it doesn't exist, I can really understand way. Now first off, it's not completely bad. Craig for the most part is still starting to give us a new kind of Bond, we begin to see the relationship between him and M more, the action was good and we sort of got a little more of the story behind what we learned about Vesper in the end of the previous film. Unfortunately, the villain and the bond girls were bland for the most part, some of the things that Bond does is kind of stupid, and while I do more or less mean it when I say it's a good thing we got a little more about the story behind Vesper, it was unnecessary at the same time. There isn't a whole lot more to say about the villain or the bond girls, but how Bond acted was kind of stupid. He was more reckless because of how he's in total rage about what happened to Vesper. And how he and M keep talking about how he keeps killing his leads without a care because of it kind of made what was happening between them act more like something you'd expect from some TV show or something where they focus on just one episode just on the hero learning one simple lesson, only that it's done in one entire movie. I can understand how some people like this movie because of it with how that shows how he's still learning as he goes, but sadly that doesn't seem to be how everybody feels about this movie. Finally, when I thought more about this film after watching it, I felt that we didn't completely need a story to follow up Casino Royale. I mean granted the previous film left out what officially happened to the boyfriend Vesper had, but that's barely even mentioned. In fact, the guy isn't really seen until around the very end. Most of this film is just getting rid of everyone else in the organization which I kind of felt they didn't need to do that either. I guess personally for me when Bond captured Mr. White in the end of Casino Royale, I thought that there was no need to give up anything else necessarily. The man behind the whole thing and also has the money is captured, and so we didn't really need to focus an hour and 46 minutes on the next film (which makes it the shortest Bond film to date by the way), on just finishing off the remaining bad guys that they just introduced us to this film. So really when you think about it, Quantum of Solace was really a film that was just about wrapping little things up from what remained after Casino Royale, and not really anything else. All of which is not really needed considering the only thing I think they really needed to go into if anything after the previous film was the boyfriend and he's close to never even mentioned in this movie at all.

And that's my review for Quantum of Solace. It has bland bond girls and an even less interesting villain and the story and the motivation to what Bond does was kind of interesting but not entirely necessary. But it otherwise has good action, develops Bond and M a little more making it an okay movie that you're probably not going to remember as well as a lot of the other Bond films.     

Casino Royale (2006)

Rating: 90%
Okay so roughly right after we saw Cloud Atlas, Blaine and I watched all of Daniel Craig's Bond films so with that done, let's begin to wrap up this James Bond movie marathon with Casino Royale.

Plot: After getting his 00 status back, Bond kills a bomb-maker in Madagascar and takes his phone and tries to track it to find out who he's working for. Eventually, his lead leads him to a terrorist financier named Le Chiffre. So Bond is assigned to bankrupt Chiffre in a high-stakes poker game with the help of the treasury employee assigned to provide the money, Vesper Lynd.

As soon as Blaine and I got to the beginning of the title sequence to this film, I was hooked. This film isn't even meant to precede or succeed any of the other Bond films, it's basically a reboot of the whole franchise. And the result is a film that is very smartly written. The story is very different from the other Bond films and is more realistic and more thought out. In fact it's a very character and story heavy movie - there wasn't a whole lot of action compared to a lot of the other films in my opinion. When I was only planning to get to Craig's films, my brother who has seen this movie and Skyfall said that Craig is viewed to be a very, very different kind of Bond. And he's turning out so far to be absolutely right. Craig's Bond is much more darker and gritty as Bond which is similar to Timothy Dalton as Bond, but he's more reckless, brutal and cold with how he's very focused on the mission, but he's also vulnerable in a couple of ways. Also he and M and kind of starting to be a little more personal around each other which is starting to make her much more interesting. And then you have Vesper who is less of a sex object then probably any of the other Bond girls. In fact she's probably the more human then most of the characters in probably any James Bond film in general. She's very smart and focused on the mission but when it comes down to witnessing Bond fighting the bad guys she can be very vulnerable in a much more believable and realistic way rather then just follow Bond around and look pretty. In fact she's probably one of the very best Bond girls because of how she's much more of an actual person to care for just like Tracy in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Also there was at least some gadgets while not really shown majorly like Die Another Day which was really nice, and the title sequence was just awesome. Finally while the ending may have taken longer then some people felt it should've been, it was done very well and is altogether a great example at how Craig's Bond is starting to go a very different route from the Bond movies in a lot of ways.

And that's my review for Casino Royale, while dying down from gadgets and action for the most part, we seem them replaced with a whole new kind of Bond that is smarter, more edgy, very character and story heavy and is altogether very different from the Bond films making this a great Bond film and a great movie in general.  

Cloud Atlas (2012)

Rating: 75%While I hardly knew a thing about this movie, one of my best friends Blaine would talk about it a lot for the past few months really being curious if I have seen it/getting me to see it because it's one of his favorite movies. As of early this afternoon, I finally came to his place and settled the matter once and for all, so here's what I thought of Cloud Atlas.

Plot: The films goes back and fourth between six different stories that occur in several different time periods. Each one telling a story from different reincarnations of various people. As it progresses, it explains how they are connected and how their lives affect their reincarnations.

Now to be honest, I didn't have a whole lot of hopes with this film. I had no idea what happens in it, I just kind of recalled it not having spectacular reviews or something like that. But surprisingly, I ended up genuinely liking the movie. It took until Blaine and I were a little over 1/3rd into the movie, but with a little help from him while paying attention and keeping an open mind as best as I can, the stories and the characters started to grow on me. That is the thing about this movie, you have to pay very close attention to what is happening as it goes on or at least have someone who has seen it and likes it to guide you like Blaine did for me. The main reason why there are people who don't like this movie is because they find it confusing and that there was too many stories to focus on and how it's 2 hours and 45 minutes long. I have to admit that it was starting to really feel that way until I started to see the connections and the stories started to develop more and more. Granted maybe not everything was completely needed, so sometimes they would show something from one story for no real reason while moving on to the other one. But on a grand scale, if you are patient and do pay attention and keep an open mind, eventually the results come out very rewarding as all the stories come together. Also the acting was very well done, it had such a big cast; Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, and so on and so forth. And all the main cast members are playing around 4-6 roles give a take, and they do such a great job acting in these very different roles. Some of them you may not notice due to the makeup and things like that, which is where I encourage you to stay for the credits if you see this movie because it's very interesting and yet messed up when you find out who is who at some points. I'm not a know-it-all or anything when it comes to make up, but what they did with these actors for some of there characters was very impressive, making it mind-blowing when you find out that it's that actor playing that specific character. Other then that, the film as a whole is very emotional, somewhat complex, visually impressive and pretty creative.

And that's my review for Cloud Atlas. If you don't like the movie because of how it's juggling so many stories and is almost 3 hours long, that's okay. But for what is, Cloud Atlas has very enjoyable stories with great visuals, excellent acting, and I for one turned out having a very good time watching it with Blaine. Whether you like it or not is up to you, but if you haven't seen it, I think it's at least worth giving it a try. If you don't like it then fine, but otherwise you just might end up pretty entertained if you do.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Die Another Day (2002)

Rating: 60%
Okay so now we're at the fourth and last of Brosnan's Bond film and the 20th Bond film in general. This is my review for Die Another Day.

Plot: The film begins with Bond going undercover in a North Korean military base where a rouge Colonel named Tan-Sun Moon is illegally trading African conflict diamonds for weaponry. Bond's cover is blown and so they fight each other resulting in Moon's apparent death leading his father, General Moon to imprison Bond. Bond is released 14 months later for a prison exchange but is suspended from his 00 status due to M believing that he leaked information during his imprisonment. So Bond escapes from MI6 security and goes off to clear his name and find the real traitor.

This is kind of another Bond film that I think is a decent flick, but I definitely get why some people disliked it. What most people say about it is that this one had way too many CGI and explosions and gadgets and that really hurt the plot. I completely agree with that, but that doesn't mean I doesn't mean I thought it was all that bad. Part of why I say this kind of has to do with how I feel so far about the Bond film in general so far. And that is I'm surprised the amount of gadgets in this film was practically in every single film of James Bond. I guess from seeing the last third of this movie once on TV years ago and from what I got out of all the parodies and knock-offs from the James Bond franchise, I did start this marathon believing that there was going to be an awful lot of gadgets from the very start, because all that other stuff lead me to believe that, that is supposedly a total must have in a Bond film. That's actually a small part of why From Russia With Love is one of my favorite Bond films so far; because we actually got into Q and his gadgets unlike Dr. No. Now I've gotten over how there's a lack of gadgets considering how they make up for it with still having good action and also focusing a little more on the story or stuff like that, which is where Bond films like From Her Majesty's Secret Service are really good. But in the case of Die Another Day, I can honestly say that I liked that they had a lot of gadgets and that most of them were really good to begin with. But everything else that they had too much of, I can agree with. There was a lot of CGI and in some cases a lot of explosions. And when I think more about the plot and the characters, a really big chuck of all that stuff was rather underdone. Like Halle Berry's character, Jinx; how people felt about her acting is a whole other argument since I'm not very familiar about her outside of this film and the X-Men movies, but I did find her character to be really underdeveloped. This was particularly sad because from what little I saw years ago, I was lead to believe there was a really good amount of development and maybe even complexity to her character. But as it turns out as one guy puts it (I don't remember who it was or where online), there seemed to be more development in Miranda Frost then Jinx even though she's the female star. As for the plot, while it did start of strong with Bond getting imprisoned and once again kind of going rouge against MI6 is a rare/different take from a Bond film which is always a good thing, it sadly did start to get a little confusing and leaving me not completely sure what was happening. But despite this, we do get more great action to go with the gadgets and I particularly enjoyed the third act for the most part despite it really not turning out as I remembered. Plus this is when we start to have John Cleese officially be the new Q. I completely forgot to mentioned that he started popping up as R in my The World Is Not Enough review in amidst of  the whole Denise Richards thing. I am sorry about that everyone.

And that's my review for Die Another Day. It does focus too much on explosions and CGI to the point of leaving some characters like Jinx underdeveloped, but it still is enjoyable at least to be with its action and lots of particularly cool gadgets make it a decent film for otherwise just mindless entertainment while thinking of how it could've been a lot better.