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Phone Booth

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

A thriller starring Colin Farrell (Minority Report, Miami Vice) as Stu who answers a phone call from a phone booth, apparently the only working phone booth left in New York. The man on the other side who has taken control of Stu’s life is played by the actor I’ve renamed The Actor Formerly Known as Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys, Dark City) after falling in love with his portrayal on the tv show ’24’ as Jack Bauer. Now I just call him Jack Bauer. Stu has two love interests in this movie played by Katie Holmes (Batman Begins, The Gift) & Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black, Man on Fire), the latter being his wife. The cop in charge is played by Forest Whitaker (Vantage Point, Panic Room) who always gives us a good performance, his role in this film is Captain Ed Ramey.

My roommate actually just walked by and said “Would you like to have Jack Bauer hold you hostage in a phone booth?”

The movie plays off the saying “a ringing phone has to be answered”. The movie starts off with a montage of people on their phones and a narrator telling us some facts and the importance of communication in our everyday lives. The movie itself  takes place in one location, a phone booth and its surroundings. Being in a phone booth for basically the entirety of the film gives us that claustrophobic feel and the fear of imprisonment with the tension building from an unseen enemy who has shown you what he is capable of and what he could possibly do to you.

The film is directed well by Joel Schumacher (8MM, A Time to Kill) who has an up & down resume. This movie is done in real-time from beginning to end and it does not last longer than needed. Schumacher does a good job of building the suspense scene after scene and it keeps you focused on how Stu handles each situation “the caller” gives him and what he’s going to do next. The only thing I didn’t care for or could have done without was the split screen showing us different angles of the current situation. Cool idea, but done wrong in this case.

Colin Farrell does a good job in this role which was originally intended for Jim Carrey. This movie made me like him as an actor after first seeing him in American Outlaws portraying Jesse James which was strictly just a fun guilty pleasure western. It’s worth a watch if you’re looking for a quick and short thriller that will keep you entertained in under an hour and a half. To me it didn’t even feel like it was an hour-long. Rating 7/10

Star Wars III – Revenge of The Sith

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The last film in the prequel trilogy. No new human characters are added. Natalie Portman is still beautiful. Hayden Christensen still can’t act. This movie does a good job of explaining a lot of the Star Wars legends we grew up on. The whole deal with “bringing balance to the force” is shown in what would normally be a big twist if not for the original trilogy. This scene alone makes me curious as to what could be if this story was taken out of the Star Wars world and placed a different setting. It’s dark nature and the behavior of its characters could make a very dark R-Rated film that could be controversial.

Yet another lightsaber fight is cut short when Obi-Wan goes up against General Grievous. Which was a little ridiculous to begin with since General Grievous has the ability to use 4 lightsabers up against Obi-Wan’s one. The revelation of newly appointed Chancellor Palpatine’s true identity is revealed. Ian McDiarmid’s performance is great throughout the prequels as you can feel and hear him as the Emperor in the original trilogy. Especially in this particular film where he uses his power to slowly convince Anakin to let the Dark Side take control of him.

One extremely noticeable thing about this movie is the sad but necessary reduction of Natalie Portman’s character. The film focuses more on Anakin’s transition into Darth Vader in which he is anointed to by Palpatine after he assists in the execution of Mace Windu. This scene also lets us see how Palpatine came to be in his appearance in the original films. Followed by the stormtroopers involvement with the Sith and their betrayal of the Jedi which causes Yoda to flee to the Dagobah system where we meet him in The Empire Strikes Back.  This is where the “balance in the force” comes in for there are now only two Jedi to coincide with the Sith. We also see that Yoda knew Chewbacca before Han Solo ever met him. This trilogy also shows us the connection of R2-D2 & C-3PO have with the entire Skywalker family.

We get to see the Chancellor form The Empire in front of the entire council and with Amadala in attendance. Obi-Wan sees for himself, which Yoda is aware of already, that Anakin has turned against them and is the cause of the fall of the Jedi. Amadala is pregnant with the beloved characters we know as Luke Skywalker & Princess Leia. Best of all, and my favorite part of the movie, is we get to see Darth Vader in full wardrobe with the voice that is James Earl Jones.

The first lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in the Star Wars world is a rather enjoyable one and my favorite out of these three films. This turns out to be just as important of a scene as the scene the two share in Star Wars: A New Hope. As this battle goes on, it is intertwined with a lightsaber duel between Yoda and Darth Sidious that turns into a one-sided dodgeball tournament involving the seating chambers of the council. At the end of the duel we see how Darth Vader becomes in his bodily state before dawning the suit.

The movie ends with us witnessing the births of Luke & Leia and the rise of Darth Vader. It brings chills and a smile to my face to see the helmet put on and to hear that infamous breath followed by his first words…. “Yes Master.” It comes to our knowledge how Leia becomes on the path to be Princess and how Luke ends up being with his family. We see how R2-D2 & C-3PO come into the ownership of Captain Antilles. The construction of the first Death Star is seen. Why none of these characters seem to remember any of this ever happening in the original trilogy I don’t know.

Overall, this is my favorite of the three but I wish George Lucas had let somebody else direct these films and let someone else have more control over the screenplay. Rating 6/10

Star Wars II – Attack of The Clones

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The movie that brought us Hayden Christensen which just goes to show that looks can get you places in Hollywood since he is just straight up horrible at acting in not just this film but everything else he has done. They always have to make sure there’s something in the movie to draw the teenage girls. (Jumper may be the only exception but nothing was expected out of that film on an acting level and it was handled wrong as it should have been longer and not treated like a test to see if they could expand it into a franchise.) Granted he does portray Anakin in his teenage years and he does give that adolescence feel to his character. But he just comes off as a weakling. He’s suppose to be Darth Vader! Now when we watch the gloriousness that is the original Star Wars Trilogy we are going to have it etched in our mines that he is a pussy.

Movie takes place 10 years later where Obi-Wan and the now apprentice Anakin Skywalker are assigned to the protection of now Senator Amidala, portrayed again by Natalie Portman. Keira Knightley’s character is not carried over into this story and is now replaced by a character named Dormé played by Rose Byrne (Troy, Wicker Park). She’s killed in the opening scene before you even see her face. This is when we get to see the origin of the stormtroopers and the ultimate bounty hunter Boba Fett. That’s the one thing that can be taken from this trilogy, the things we were curious about or wanted to see more of are answered in these films.

The rolling around in the grass scene is ridiculous but Natalie Portman sure is beautiful. Though it seems like she borrowed some of her wardrobe from Britney Spears. There’s a scene on Mos Eisley where the two go to find Anakin’s mother and the mid-riff dress she wears is quite nice and it’s nice to know that even in the future on different planets, Rubbermaid is still around. This scene leads up to our first glimpse of Anakin’s transition to the Dark Side and his path to becoming Darth Vader but of course we don’t see too much of it because bad ass Darth Vader doesn’t exist in this trilogy.

Christopher Lee’s (The Lord of The Rings) performance as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus is one of the few highlights of this installment. Can’t help but recall another brilliant performance of his as Saruman in the The Lord of The Rings. He gets to have the distinct honor of being in one of the most memorable light saber battles in the Star Wars world when he goes up against Master Yoda himself, the first time you ever see him pull out his light saber. I’ve also got to give credit for them having Ian McDiarmid reprise his role as Palpatine who becomes and is better known as the powerful Emperor in the original trilogy.

The visual effects annoy me quite a few times in this as there are long segments throughout the film where everything you see on-screen is CGI. Jar Jar Binks was calmed down in this one after his way over-the-top performance in the first one. Watching this movie right now makes me realize I don’t really remember this movie at all. On a sidenote, I don’t actually own these movies. I’m borrowing them from my roommates collection which is the only reason why I am viewing them now. I’m not going to lie though, the visual effects are a big draw to these films and they are masterfully done by Industrial Light & Magic.

The fight scene that takes place in the coliseum makes me just want to watch Gladiator and see something more believable. I can’t think of any movie or time in my life where seeing a scene made me want to watch one of these movies. But this is when we get to see Mace Windu (Samuel L Jackson, The Negotiator) do his thing for the first time, along with the aid of various other Jedi Knights, as he is the one who kills Jango Fett before the eyes of Boba Fett. This fight sequence is pretty lame and the choreography of the Jedi are pretty weak for the massive force they are up against.

Yoda looks a lot better in this film but I think they got carried away with how he talks. Example: “A perimeter around them, we create”. But I love how Yoda knows Anakin is a douche after sensing his stupidity when he is ordering the ship to be put down to help Amidala instead of helping in ending the war at hand. Thankfully Obi-Wan is there to put him in his place. Now we get  to see a couple one-on-one light saber battles involving Count Dooku, Obi-Wan & Anakin where Anakin loses his left arm before we get to the epic showdown of Yoda vs Dooku. But like a lot of things in this trilogy, it’s cut short so we can see extended scenes of things that don’t matter.

Overall, I believe this is the weakest movie in the prequel trilogy.  Rating 4/10

Star Wars I – The Phantom Menace

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I had the sudden urge to watch the first 3 Star Wars films, don’t know why but there are some parts of these films I really enjoyed. I always enjoy Liam Neeson (Batman Begins, Taken) in any of his roles and I may have to say that he may be my favorite part of this first film.

The visual effects are astounding but nothing beats the real thing which is what made the original Star Wars trilogy so enjoyable for me. Yes some scenes aren’t going to be brought to the screen correctly without CGI, but there is such thing as going overboard and not being believable. I give much more respect to films when people actually put the time into making these ships, droids, and when people wore the alien costumes. It had that realism to it and didn’t have that glossy look  or where it just looked like the human actors were looking into whatever direction they were told to and a CGI creature was inserted later. Like all the scenes with Jar Jar Binks.

In the opening lines of this film, a kid says “With all due respect.” It just made me laugh because all I thought about was Talladega Nights.

Ewan McGregor (Big Fish, Moulin Rouge) does a find job of playing Obi-Wan in this film, but it annoys me everything he had a smirk on his face after a really bad joke or smiled. Alec Guinness never did that in IV-VI to my recollection. I absolutely hated Jake Lloyd in the role of Anakin Skywalker, it may be unfair for him though because I just straight up didn’t care for seeing Darth Vader as a kid. But since this movie is about him, I don’t like him and he annoys me when he talks. We also get Samuel L Jackson (Shaft, Pulp Fiction) as Mace Windu, a Jedi Knight. His role in the trilogy is small in this film but expands in the next two installments. His light saber got the letters BMF inscribed on it, BAD MOTHER F*^*^*.

I remember when I was younger I was so excited to see this film and was glad to hear when Natalie Portman (V for Vendetta) was casted in the movie since I’ve always had a crush on her since first seeing her on film in Heat & Leon: The Professional. But what I also got was seeing Keira Knightley (Pirate of The Caribbean Trilogy) for the first time. She plays Sabé who is  a decoy for Queen Amidala, played by Natalie Portman that sits in her place to protect her.

The biggest part of this movie could arguably be the Pod Race. Now when watching it, it feels like one big commercial for the Nintendo 64 racing game that came out which I probably played just as much as I watched this movie. The announcers for the race annoy me too. At the beginning of the race we see Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick in The Harry Potter Films) who played Willow. I don’t know how much this is common knowledge to the Star Wars fans out there but he played Wicket in Star Wars VI – The Return of The Jedi, the main ewok.

Another actor got his break with this film as well. Ray Park, who plays Darth Maul. Who played the headless horseman in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, Toad in Bryan Singer’s X-Men & Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe: The Rise of  Cobra. So the only time I can remember actually seeing his face in something that I’ve seen is on the tv show ‘Heroes’ where he plays Edgar. Yoda looks horrible. The end is a little ridiculous, Anakin just accidently destroys the main reactor from the inside, that’s convenient. The light saber fight between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon Jinn & Darth Maul was pretty to watch except the final death-blow was weak.

Overall, if this movie along with the two following installments were handled a lot better I would include these films in a day where I would watch all the Star Wars films….. I like to pretend that this trilogy is a stand-alone in the Star Wars universe. Rating 5/10