Friday, August 10, 2007

Movie Reviews

Bourne Ultimatum - Don't go into a Paul Greengrass movie if you just ate. I heard Matt Damon quip on the Daily Show that apparently the director has never heard of a steady-cam. I can attest to that. This is two hours of full-bore, globe-hopping, hand-held camera, little dialogue, action. And it's all glued together with a script that they made up as they went along. Most would think that was probably a recipe for a disaster of a movie. But it's anything but.

Jason Bourne continues his trek to discover who he really is and it leads him to America and the CIA. Continuing with the great character actors of the previous movies (Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Joan Allen), David Strathairn, Scott Glenn and Albert Finney are added to the mix. Julia Stiles has a larger role and has a scene that evokes the memory of his lost love from the first two movies (Franka Potente) ... and believe me, that's a good thing. I wish I could see Franka in more stuff. Run Lola Run is fantastic.

The scenery, the chase scenes, and fighting action are all first-rate and the snapshot of the inner workings of espionage are very interesting.

This movie "supposedly" ties up the trilogy and there are no plans for more movies, but without giving too much away, it definitely leaves the door open should they change their minds. Considering how much money this is making, I'm sure they will. Grade: B+

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Despite my accelerated reading schedule so as to read this book by the time the movie came out, I didn't catch up. I read books 2 through 4 in a couple of weeks but had just started Order of the Phoenix when we saw the movie. I had heard indications that this was the shortest movie from the longest book. But, as I said, I hadn't read it yet, so I couldn't be upset by where the biggest cuts were made. My feeling is that there were probably cuts for a good reason. Order of the Phoenix is usually rated as Rowling's poorest (just in comparison) and it's length certainly would make for an unwieldy movie. But the movie that was made certainly doesn't drag. It's dark and it movies fairly quickly. Not a lot of the cutesy, joking around banter of the previous movies. Now that I'm almost done with the book, I can see why. It's pretty dark and Harry Potter is pretty tortured throughout.

If you are not a Harry Potter movie fan or haven't read the books, this movie will probably not be your cup of tea. But, that's OK. You can't reintroduce every character and recap the entire previous movies every time you make one of these. These are movies made for fans. And by the box office of each, that's good enough. The movie (as does the book) does a good job of setting up the books and movies that follow. It's not about your mid-term exams and Hogwarts any more. It's about the end of the free world!

The great British acting talent of these movies (Rickman, Emma Thompson, Gambon, Maggie Smith, Oldman, Gleeson, etc.) is augmented by Helena Bonham Carter. One minor quibble, and this is probably more a criticism of Rowling, is that it seems silly that every book is really about a fight with Voldermort. It's done 7 times and all of us fans keep coming back to drink at the trough. That's like Luke Skywalker fighting Darth Vader in 7 straight movies. Grade: B

Transformers - I find it odd to say so, but those things which are most annoying about Michael Bay's other films -- stylized action, overwrought dialog, corniness, and just a general over-the-top quality -- actually work in this film. Despite my better judgement, I liked Transformers. Shia Lebouf is very likable. And you'll have to forgive my being a male for a second, but the females in this one are very pleasing to the eye. And they're not helpless victim types.

There is very little plot and various holes in the plot there is. But the action and special effects are great and the dialogue is just silly and funny enough to keep you interested in a Terminator-corny-lines sorta way.

I wasn't a huge Transformers fan when I was growing up but I do remember my brother and myself watching most of the episodes. This movie isn't as lame as they were. It's a popcorn movie and I'm OK with that. I certainly wasn't bored. Grade: B-


shrimplate said...

I expect more good things from Shia Lebeouf, and comparisons of him to John Cusack aren't far-fetched.

dbackdad said...

I agree. He's not taking all the obvious roles. He's mixing it up a little bit and making sure that he'll have longer than a 5 minute career.

Jewish Atheist said...

I actually liked Transformers better than Bourne 3, although I love the Bourne series. Transformers was almost a great movie... if it only had an editor. And Megan Fox... wow.

CyberKitten said...

Haven't seen Bourne yet - that's next weeks treat. It's going to be a boys night out - as the girls aren't interested.

Have no intention of seeing Harry Potter - just don't get me started Ok [grin].

I was actually fairly impressed with Transformers despite never being a fan (or ever watching the cartoon series). It didn't make my DVD list - only one film this year has managed that - but was an enjoyable few hours. Agree with everyone on the 'eye candy' too.....

Laura said...

Didn't see Harry Potter, but I liked Bourne (although as Donna pointed out they basically took the title of the book and scrapped the rest of the story to make their own). It was car crashing fun.

Transformers was fun too, but I just don't like Shia Labeouff. There's just something that rubs me the wrong way.