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"qmlhcb" (Michigan)

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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Pixar's best, June 13 2003
Pixar just doesn't seem to get tired of making good films. They are the most reliable makers of animated films today, and "Finding Nemo" is certainly no exception.
My favorite Pixar film has been "Toy Story 2" ever since I first saw it. Somehow it improved on the wonderful original film,, adding additional layers to existing characters and pushing them into even greater events. I think I may have a new favorite now.
I should say I'm a sucker for good "road trip" movies, stories in which the characters are on a quest and must get from point A to point B to do what needs to be done. The plot device allows us to meet many wonderful characters along the way, see many foreign places. It's a great way to constantly keep the viewer fully engaged with the film. As long as it's done right, that is. "Finding Nemo" does it right in spades.
The story follows Marlin, (Albert Brooks) a single parent/clownfish raising his only son, Nemo. When Nemo, tired of his dad?s over-protective nature, disobeys his father, he lands himself in big trouble ? the fish tank of an Australian Dentist. So Marlin, and his newfound friend Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) go on the search for Nemo.
Just like Pixar's other films, it seems the makers cram in every great idea, every funny event or joke, explore every angle in the movie they come up with. There are enough ideas and jokes here for this picture and a sequel. But they don't hold back, they use 'em all in just the one flick.
Also, just as important, are the characters. Where as in most animated films, the characters are drawn a certain way, perhaps given a quirky voice, and that's it for characterization and development. Not so for Pixar and "Finding Nemo." Every character, no matter how minor, is given a motivation, given a living personality. Character's here aren't content to just exist. They want to live. This is what makes a great children's film simultaneously be a great adult film.
And how could I leave out the breathtaking animation. Perhaps "Finding Nemo" is just on par with my former favorite "Toy Story 2" in every other category. But the animation here of the beautiful ocean and tropical landscape is such a joy to watch. Never have I been more smitten with the sheer look of an animated film. The Jellyfish look like they're right out of a National Geographic, the choral reefs so lifelike, everything is just beautiful. It?s the images that we imagine whenever we want to get away to paradise, and since it's all controlled in a computer, we get to see it all and then some.
"Finding Nemo" is certainly proving the good track record rule of Pixar. Can they make a bad film? Let's hope they never give us an answer.

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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but had more potential, June 13 2003
The concept behind "Bruce Almighty" is a universally appreciated one. What would you do if you could be God?
Much of the enjoyment of "Bruce Almighty" comes out of watching Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) do just that, and we get to live vicariously through him. While that concept is enjoyable, the filmmakers failed to fully realize the possibilities. The film starts with a wonderful premise and ends up becoming a clichéd and predictable romantic-comedy/after-school-special-lesson movie.
When Nolan's life begins to go down the tubes and blames God, he gets the chance of a lifetime. He's God while the real guy in white goes on vacation. So what does Nolan do with his newfound power? He does what anyone red-blooded human would do and abuses it. Sure it leads to some great scenes early on in the film - none of which I will spoil here ? but the film seems to gloss over so much of where it could have gone. What if he had goofed up and granted prayers that never should have been granted? What if that one prayer he answered caused cataclysmic events and he had to solve the situation. What about the moral dilemmas that could result from having ultimate power? These are all just some ideas I thought would have been great to explore in the film. Just think of all the great comical events that could have happened with them. But the filmmakers instead took the old and clichéd route of "boy has girl, boy looses girl, boy tries to get girl back." Now why would you resort to that tired route when you're in the middle of a greater story about becoming God?
Perhaps I'm being too hard on "Bruce Almighty." It was enjoyable and had several great moments. It just could have been a lot better then just another Jim Carrey movie. It could have been, but wasn't. I'm sure I'll get some heat for this review, but that's all right. If you want to click that this review wasn't helpful just because I shared my honest reaction, go ahead. But at least I offered an explanation for why I was disappointed with this flick.
If you love Jim Carrey movies, I?m sure you?ve already seen it, and if not you will probably love it. But if you're unsure on whether or not to see "Bruce Almighty," just wait till it hits video. In a summer saturated with many "must see" films, this one doesn't really have anything that won't be just as enjoyable in your own living room six months from now.

Femme Fatale (Widescreen)
Femme Fatale (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Rebecca Romijn
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 73.52
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars One of De Palma's best! Four and a half stars!, May 24 2003
This review is from: Femme Fatale (Widescreen) (DVD)
Femme Fatale is a fantastic return to form for director Brian De Palma. Forget what the critics say, this is a wonderful film.
The story follows the titular character of the bad girls from the film noir genre. When we first meet her, she's watching "Double Indemnity" - a classic noir - in a hotel room, almost as though she's picking up pointers before she goes on a planned heist. But when she double crosses her accomplices and runs off with all the loot, she finds herself in trouble, fearful of her life. Or is she? This film continuously plays with the double-crossing that made the stock character of a femme fatale so popular. It will continuously keep you guessing as to the reality of the situation, but in a very fun, entertaining way.
The problem many critics had with it is they felt the film was too over-the-top, with several clichés and many of the conventions of the genre, but that was the whole intent of De Palma's. He wanted to create a sort of exploitation film on the femme fatale character, and in doing so created a fun and highly stylistic film. There is very little dialogue in the film, which instead places a perfect score in its place to move the story along. The result is a film that seems to wash over you, and grabbing you to take you along for the journey. It is all at once a very artistic, exploitative, fun and gratifying experience.
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos is perfectly cast as the femme fatale, it seems it was the role she was meant to play. She captures the deceit, looks, sexual energy and danger that the classic character has always oozed. And she does so, I dare say, better then just about any other actress playing the part.
Femme Fatale gets a high recommendation from me. Not everyone will like it, many won't get what the film is trying to achieve, while for others they may just not appreciate it (to each his own), but if you go in with the right frame of mind, you're in for a fantastic treat.

25th Hour
25th Hour
DVD ~ Edward Norton
Price: CDN$ 9.97
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A very high four stars, May 24 2003
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
25th hour is a fantastic meld of a fictional but realistic story set amidst a background of factual events.
Following drug dealer Montgomery Brogan (Edward Norton) on his last day before starting a seven-year prison term, the film takes place in New York during the aftermath of 9-11, a place and time where it was constantly on the thoughts of every person there. Though some have criticized the inclusion of 9-11 as not having anything to do with the plot, I strongly disagree. In other films released in 2002, (such as Spiderman), the filmmakers have tried to put in something patriotic to pay homage to the event, but in doing so created a scene that seemed out of place with the film, but in 25th Hour, the aftermath of the events of 9-11, and they way people are paying for something that?s already done serves as an analogy to Montgomery dealing with his past crimes, and how he now has to pay for what he's done.
The cast here is fantastic. Edward Norton is his usual brilliant self, with Brian Cox, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Anna Paquin, Rosario Dawson and Berry Pepper filling out supporting roles of people close to Montgomery. There's a fantastic chemistry here that helps to propel the story forward without feeling like the characters are forcing it along. The music is another great accompaniment, telling of the sadness of the characters and city at this time without being too forceful of a presence. Nothing is overdone here, but wonderfully realistic and absorbing.
25th Hour gets a high recommendation from me. Director Spike Lee turned out a powerful story that simultaneously deals with the sorrow of a city and the troubles of a small group of friends.

25th Hour
25th Hour
DVD ~ Edward Norton
Price: CDN$ 9.97
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A very high four stars, May 24 2003
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
25th hour is a fantastic meld of a fictional but realistic story set amidst a background of factual events.
Following drug dealer Montgomery Brogan (Edward Norton) on his last day before starting a seven-year prison term, the film takes place in New York during the aftermath of 9-11, a place and time where it was constantly on the thoughts of every person there. Though some have criticized the inclusion of 9-11 as not having anything to do with the plot, I strongly disagree. In other films released in 2002, (such as Spiderman), the filmmakers have tried to put in something patriotic to pay homage to the event, but in doing so created a scene that seemed out of place with the film, but in 25th Hour, the aftermath of the events of 9-11, and they way people are paying for something that?s already done serves as an analogy to Montgomery dealing with his past crimes, and how he now has to pay for what he's done.
The cast here is fantastic. Edward Norton is his usual brilliant self, with Brian Cox, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Anna Paquin, Rosario Dawson and Berry Pepper filling out supporting roles of people close to Montgomery. There's a fantastic chemistry here that helps to propel the story forward without feeling like the characters are forcing it along. The music is another great accompaniment, telling of the sadness of the characters and city at this time without being too forceful of a presence. Nothing is overdone here, but wonderfully realistic and absorbing.
25th Hour gets a high recommendation from me. Director Spike Lee turned out a powerful story that simultaneously deals with the sorrow of a city and the troubles of a small group of friends.

X-Men 1.5
X-Men 1.5
DVD ~ Patrick Stewart
Offered by gamerudy
Price: CDN$ 19.95
30 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed start to a greatly-improving francise, May 6 2003
This review is from: X-Men 1.5 (DVD)
"X-Men" is a fun comic book film that despite its flaws, serves as a good start to a new comic movie franchise.
When I first saw it in the theater I enjoyed it but walked out kind of cold from the experience. Sure it was fun, it presented great characterizations of the X-men and had several great moments, but on a whole it felt rather empty. Granted director Bryan Singer had to introduce many mutant characters and the whole X-men world in one movie while introducing a manageable plot, as well as dealing with major studio and monetary problems. However, that doesn't make a decent movie great by default.
The most apparent fault is how the introductions of characters (with most emphasis on Rogue and Wolverine as they become X-men) doesn't balance well with the emerging plot of Magneto (Ian McKellen) planning to turn the world's leaders into mutants. Honestly, if an additional 20 minutes were added to flush this out, it would work much better. The film only clocks in at 104 minutes and as a result feels as though it's short changed a bit (again most likely do to the studio and budget problems). Also, the climax isn't as big and exciting as it could have been.
Despite these problems, the film has many things to admire. First off, the acting and characterization of the mutants are for the most part excellant. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (as Prof. X) both are perfectly cast as the differing ideology heads of two mutant groups. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine also does a great job in carrying this movie as one of the primary characters. His quest to find out who he is begins here, and represents the isolation and confusion that many mutants feel when they realize they have powers which society frown on.
Also, the analogy the film version of X-men provides a great social commentary on the issue of homophobia. When the comics came out, it was during the civil rights movement and the X-men's struggle for acceptance mirrored prejudice against African Americans.
Still, the faults of "X-Men" are too apparent to make it a great film. But it does serve to be a stepping stone to the second film in the series: X2, which is by all means a great film with none of the first one's faults. "X-Men" is definitely recommended as a prologue to a franchise that proves to get better the deeper you go.

The Ring (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
The Ring (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Naomi Watts
Price: CDN$ 10.86
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best recent horror films, April 23 2003
Just when you thought horror films would never be good again, "The Ring" comes about to save the genre.
The story about a video tape that leads the viewers death seven days later could have been hokey, but "The Ring" isn't that at all. The film's strength lies on its mood and atmosphere, with the plot, acting and dialogue all good enough to keep the film afloat without detracting from its creepy fun. With a predominately blue/green tint all throughout the film and plenty of fog, rain and gloom, "The Ring" takes place in an unsettling world. The disturbing images in the videotape alone are enough for nightmare fodder, and perfectly put the viewer's nerve on edge for the film.
Sure the plot may have some holes in it, it's not the films strong point, but it's enough to carry us through to the end without questioning it too much (How often can you say that about any horror film). There's a taste of "The Blair Witch Project" here, taking more of it's creepy mood rather then its fleeting novelty, and barely any gore to speak of (though plenty of frightening visuals).
Anyone tired of the same-old horror retread will find much to be fearful of in "The Ring." And plenty of nightmares that night.

Far from Heaven (Bilingual) [Import]
Far from Heaven (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Julianne Moore
Price: CDN$ 16.44
52 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Drama with style, April 9 2003
"Far From Heaven" is a surprisingly original form of drama. It tells the story of family secrets, acceptance and love stylistically wrapped up in the techniques of 1950's films.
The story on its own would be enough to make this a wonderful film, but in telling the story of a family in the 1950s at a confusing time (The husband realizes he is gay, and the wife seeks comfort from her black gardener), it captures the essence of older films to help display the older views on homosexuality and interracial relationships. Every detail of this film is like it's counterparts in 1950's melodrama. The old fashioned acting styles are note perfect for both Julienne Moore and Dennis Quaid, the music is wonderfully recreated, the set designs constructed in the same fashion, even the opening title sequence and end credits look authentic. But most importantly, it all worked perfectly with the story.
Lovers of 1950's melodrama will eat this film up, and anyone who can appreciate the guts and talent it took to recreate it so authentically will find much to love. But the story is strong enough on its own to not even need it. Sometimes we forget how harsh mainstream America's views were on some subjects. Sure widespread views homosexuality are still not yet where they should be, but racism and interracial relationships are leagues ahead of where they were 50 years ago.
It's too bad this film wasn't nominated for best picture rather then the enjoyable but greatly flawed Gangs of New York. It would have rounded out a bunch of great films well worthy of their nominations.

Welcome to Collinwood
Welcome to Collinwood
DVD ~ George Clooney
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 6.37
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A smart, fun misfit crime caper, April 2 2003
This review is from: Welcome to Collinwood (DVD)
"Welcome to Collinwood" is a small, simple but fun story of misfit criminals trying to land the heist of a lifetime.
Sure this is a story we've all seen before, but "Welcome to Collinwood" is a wonderfully scripted and acted film that avoids tired clichés. It feels new, like something we've never seen before despite the truth, and that's the mark of a good film.
The excellent cast is what really helps move along the good script treatment. William H. Macy is, as always, a great addition, but it's Sam Rockwell and the late Michael Jeter that really stand out. I happened to watch this for the first time the day I found out Jeter died, and his fantastic off-the-wall character, a trademark of his, made me realize just how much I will miss his film presence.
This is just a smart little indie film that, while not particularly memorable, is plenty of fun and is much better then much of the schlock Hollywood throws together. Definitely worth a rental, and maybe more if you love those quirky little crime films.

Spy Kids (Widescreen) (Bilingual) [Import]
Spy Kids (Widescreen) (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Alexa PenaVega
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 82.20
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A kid's movie for all ages, March 15 2003
It's rare today for a children's movie to be entertaining to both kids and adults. But Robert Rodriquez's "Spy Kids" does just that.
At its heart, it's still a kids flick, but one that is put together well with style, good dialogue, good laughs and lots of fun. It avoids the general kid movie pitfalls of a clichéd plot, flat characters and predictable dialogue. Sure kids don't mind those faults, but they cause films to be quickly forgotten years down the road. But films like "Spy Kids" are ones parents don't mind watching with their kids, and adults can even watch alone to entertain that inner child in them without killing brain cells like most children's fare does.
Nope, Rodriquez's film is fun and fast, telling a kid's version of James Bond, but with heart. The movie's opening is especially wonderful as the mother of the two future spy kids tells the "fabled" story of the two spies who met and fell in love. It sets a wonderful tone of the importance of family and the action quality of the film.
Of course, Rodriquez's usual cast of regulars come back, such as Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo and Antonio Banderas, but the real stars of the film are the two pint-sized spies, who hold the film well enough on their own. Their sibling banter is fun, realistic and wholly enjoyable.
Also, Danny Elfman's score is wonderful, heavy in Mexican-influenced themes. He wrote some wonderfully demented children's songs incorporated in the film that reminded me of his work on the songs for "The Nightmare Before Christmas."
This one's well worth seeing even if you don't have kids. Let it bring back the child in you.

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