Movie reviews: 11/2014
Movies seen this month: 17
Page # 1
1 | 2
  Title: The Girl from Paris
Genre: Drama, Comedy  Year: 2001  Country: France  Rating: Starring: Michel Serrault, Mathilde Seigner, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Frédéric Pierrot, Marc Berman  Director: Christian Carion

My Review: Written (in part) and directed by Christian Carion (Joyeux Noel, Farewell) French language movie. Director's first feature length movie. Starring Michel Serrault, Mathilde Seigner, Jean-Paul Roussillon and others. Sandrine is a young professional who tires of her white-collar life and yearns for life on the farm (of all things). She leaves her boyfriend, her job, and the city to take a position at an agricultural school. At first the aging owner/instructor/farmer rejects this 'City girl', but eventually they grow to respect each other and eventually become friends. Sandrine moves in to the goat farm, but Adrien can't leave yet. He has to stay - His nephew is staying at the family home, and he can't leave Sandrine alone, because Sandrine surely won't last. She renovates an empty barn, changing it into guest-quarters and soon finds her first tenant. Her ideas are different; like selling goat cheese online, and school tours, but she doesn't seem afraid of hard work. Maybe she'll work out. The film is a great drama, with excellent writing, great performances and beautiful location work. I give it a 4 out of 5.

Summary: Sandrine, a woman in her thirties gets tired of life in Paris and decides to leave her work in computers and become a farmer. She takes the required practice for two years, and after that she buys an isolated farm from Adrien, an old farmer who decides it's time to retire. However, Adrien wants to stay a few more months before moving away from the farm, and the rough winter finds them together...

  Title: True Grit
Genre: Drama, Adventure, Western  Year: 2010  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper  Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

My Review: A remake of a classic western (the original stars John Wayne in the lead role/was directed by Henry Hathaway). I must admit I was quite concerned about a remake of this classic. Most remakes are horrid attempts to cash in on someone else's excellent work. After some hesitation, and numerous reports of accolades, I decided to give True Grit a try. The remake is written (screenplay) and directed by Ethan and Joel Coen. They did an excellent job on the remake. Staying true to period in more than costume, prop and setting, they also managed to get the dialog correct. The dialog is true to the linguistic practices of the setting (Late 1800s), and I found the lack modern language refreshing and intriguing. It definitely contributed to my enjoyment of the movie. The camera work, settings, costumes and dialog definitely took me back and time and convinced me that the events portrayed were actually happening. The acting by Jeff Bridges (U.S. Marshal Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn), Josh Brolin (Drifter/outlaw Tom Chaney), Matt Damon (Texas Ranger LaBoeuf) and Hailee Steinfield (Mattie Ross) was truly exceptional. Especially impressive was Hailee Steinfield - Her performance was outstanding. She really kept up with the veteran cast, the director didn't have to change the style or play down the ability of the other actors in order to make her look better. The story follows the basic plot of the book and original movie. When a former ranch hand murders her father, Mattie Ross leaves home in the dead of winter and sets forth on a quest to make sure that her Father's death is avenged. She's not so much interested in justice, as she is revenge. She wants Tom Chaney to 'pay' for what he did to her family, and she doesn't give a damn about trials. She hires the local Marshal, a gritty no-nonsense lawman/bounty hunter with a track record for getting the job done. Things are complicated when a Texas Ranger insists on accompanying Cogburn to capture this outlaw. Seems Tom is wanted back in Texas for the murder of a politician. When Mattie insists on accompanying the duo, things get even more interesting. The story is quite simple, and the characters charming but well textured. The locations are breathtaking and the camera work splendid. I can't believe I'm doing it, but I actually find this movie superior to the original. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Summary: Following the murder of her father by hired hand Tom Chaney, 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross sets out to capture the killer. To aid her, she hires the toughest U.S. marshal she can find, a man with "true grit," Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn. Mattie insists on accompanying Cogburn, whose drinking, sloth, and generally reprobate character do not augment her faith in him. Against his wishes, she joins him in his trek into the Indian Nations in search of Chaney. They are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, who wants Chaney for his own purposes. The unlikely trio find danger and surprises on the journey, and each has his or her "grit" tested.

  Title: Gladiator
Genre: Action & Adventure  Year: 2000  Country: USA, UK  Rating: Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris  Director: Ridley Scott

My Review: Written (in part/and based on a novel) by David Franzoni and directed by Ridley Scott (one of my favorite directors / Alien, Blade Runner, Black Rain, 1492: Conquest of Paradise). This movie star Russel Crowe as Maximus the General/Slave/Gladiator, Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus the Roman Emperor, Connie Nielsen as Lucilla, and many others. This movie won five Oscars and many other awards. To say it's a great movie is a bit understated. What we do in life echoes in eternity. An immensely entertaining epic with spectacular cinematography. In the movie Gladiator, Russel Crowe plays Maximus a very popular Roman general who is loved by the people and the aging Emperor (Marcus Aurelius - played by Richard Harris). That's the way the movie starts out. By now most are aware (through the previews) that Maximus ends up enslaved and then becomes a Gladiator. The movie is packed with powerful drama, exciting combat and even a bit of romance. If you haven't seen it yet, tonight would be a good night to experience the spectacle that is 'Gladiator'. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Summary: Maximus is a powerful Roman general, loved by the people and the aging Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge.

  Title: Hart's War
Genre: Drama, War  Year: 2002  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Bruce Willis, Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard, Cole Hauser, Marcel Iures  Director: Gregory Hoblit

My Review: I'm a sucker for the WWII movies, so I was definitely looking forward to this movie. Screenplay written by Billy Ray, based upon a novel (same name) by John Katzenbach, and directed by Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear, Fallen, Frequency). This movie has a great cast. Starring Bruce Willis as Col. William McNamara, Colin Farrel as Lt. Thomas Hart, Terrence Howard, Cole Hauser, Marcel Lures and others. The movie depicts US POWs imprisoned in a German camp. Bruce Willis plays the senior US Officer. He does his best to maintain order, a sense of honor, and plans to escape or resist by all means available. On the other side of the fence is the Luftwaffe veteran, Col. Wilhelm Visser (played by Marcel Lures). The camp Commandant does his best to counter the leadership of Col. McNamara and remind the prisoners that he's in charge, and the Germans will win this war. When one of the prisoners is accused of murder (of another prisoner), Col. McNamara insists on a 'Courts Martial' trial, the Commandant agrees, Lt. Tommy Hart (played by Colin Farrell) is tagged to defend the accused and the movie is set in motion. McNamara is using the trial as a screen to keep the Germans occupied and distracted, while McNamara's escape and sabotage plans are put into motion. A thrilling WWII movie with a great cast, excellent sets and a good story. The best part is the character play and drama created by tension created amongst the different prisoners. Unfortunately, the ending of the movie is something of a let down. It feels rushed and a bit contrived. I give the movie a 3 out of 5.

Summary: Fourth-generation Army Col. William McNamara is imprisoned in a brutal German POW camp. Still, as the senior-ranking American officer, he commands his fellow inmates, keeping a sense of honor alive in a place where honor is easy to destroy, all under the dangerous eye of the Luftwaffe veteran Col. Wilhelm Visser. Never giving up the fight to win the war, McNamara is silently planning, waiting for his moment to strike back at the enemy. A murder in the camp gives him the chance to set a risky plan in motion. With a court martial to keep Visser and the Germans distracted, McNamara orchestrates a cunning scheme to escape and destroy a nearby munitions plant, enlisting the unwitting help of young Lt. Tommy Hart. Together with his men, McNamara uses a hero's resolve to carry out his mission, ultimately forced to weigh the value of his life against the good of his country.

  Title: Wag the Dog
Genre: Comedy, Drama  Year: 1997  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Anne Heche, Woody Harrelson, Denis Leary  Director: Barry Levinson

My Review: Screenplay was written (in part) by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet (one of my favorite writer/directors). Directed by Barry Levinson (The Natural, Tin Men, Good Morning Vietnam, Rain Man). The movie stars Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Anne Heche and many others. It's a great political satire, comedy, commentary on social values, and the media. After the revelation of an underage sex scandal involving the president, the spin masters are called in to distract the public during this crucial election season - What do they come up with to distract the scandal hungry populace? A War! That's right, they 'Produce' a war in order to distract the public from the actual scandal - Don't look over here, there's nothing to see here. Look over there - There's a War! A War I tell you! Our way of life is being threatened, as a matter of fact, they might invade the homeland tomorrow! Before the Clinton Oval Office scandal. Before we went 'back' into Iraq. Before all the current scandals. While written as fiction, it's entirely believable in context and blurs the lines between reality and comedic sarcasm. Laughable, dark (if you think about how the media is actually manipulating us) and entertaining. I give it a 4 out of 5. I've seen the movie before, and I'll probably watch it again.

Summary: After being caught in a scandalous situation days before the election, the president does not seem to have much of a chance of being re-elected. One of his advisers contacts a top Hollywood producer in order to manufacture a war in Albania that the president can heroically end, all through mass media.

  Title: Avatar
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction  Year: 2009  Country: UK, USA  Rating: Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez  Director: James Cameron

Summary: When his brother is killed in a robbery, paraplegic Marine Jake Sully decides to take his place in a mission on the distant world of Pandora. There he learns of greedy corporate figurehead Parker Selfridge's intentions of driving off the native humanoid "Na'vi" in order to mine for the precious material scattered throughout their rich woodland. In exchange for the spinal surgery that will fix his legs, Jake gathers intel for the cooperating military unit spearheaded by gung-ho Colonel Quaritch, while simultaneously attempting to infiltrate the Na'vi people with the use of an "avatar" identity. While Jake begins to bond with the native tribe and quickly falls in love with the beautiful alien Neytiri, the restless Colonel moves forward with his ruthless extermination tactics, forcing the soldier to take a stand - and fight back in an epic battle for the fate of Pandora.

  Title: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
Genre: Action, Sci Fi, Thriller  Year: 1972  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Roddy McDowall, Don Murray, Ricardo Montalban, Natalie Trundy, Severn Darden  Director: J. Lee Thompson

My Review: Originally produced for television, this film is the fourth feature in the Planet of the Apes saga. Directed by J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone, Cape Fear). Starring Roddy McDowall, Ricardo Montalban and others. Back to the past. Planet Earth in the late 20th century. The history of mankind is revealed before our very eyes. A plague has destroyed all dogs and cats, and humans have turned to apes as pets. As the apes become more intelligent, and highly trained, humans start using them as servants. Servants or slaves? The simians are treated poorly, beaten, provoked, deprived of basic 'human' rights. It's a slave revolt in the making. While Caesar - an intelligent ape from the future - has been hiding out in a circus, now he's forced into hiding amongst the general ape population. As he is sold into slavery, he finds himself in a position to lead the coming revolt. Apes overthrow humans in this sci-fi futuristic thriller. The story is cleverly written to create a time loop which leads to the first film. Despite the production value and timeline problems, the story is engrossing and thrilling. 4 out of 5. 

Summary: Cornelius and Zira's son Caesar leads apes to revolution in this installment of the apes saga. Dogs and cats have been wiped out by a plague and now apes are household pets that are treated like slaves. Caesar has the intelligence to fight this oppression.

  Title: Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Genre: Action, Sci Fi, Drama, TV Movie  Year: 1970  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: James Franciscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison, Paul Richards  Director: Ted Post

My Review: Originally produced for television, here is the sequel to a smash hit - Planet of the Apes (I own it - 5 out of 5). Directed by Ted Post (Hang 'Em High, Go Tell The Spartans (not the comedy), Magnum Force). Starring James Franciscus as Brent (a human astronaut), Charlton Heston as Taylor (in a very small role) and others. This movie picks up just where the original left off. On a lonely stretch of beach in the very far future (What year was it? 3978, 3955?). Taylor and Nova are leaving the apes behind, heading off into the 'Forbidden Zone'. Another space ship has crashed on this future earth. It's surviving crew member - Brent - searches for Taylor. Brent hooks up with Nova and the search is on. Soon the pair discover a group of mutant humans dwelling under the surface. As the apes prepare to attack these mutant humans, the threat of their gods retribution could be total annihilation at the hands of a nuclear bomb! The writing was a mixed bag. No where as good as the first, but it did contain several unique elements. Unfortunately, it seems as if some scenes were patched in afterward. The acting talent was lacking as well. The direction was o.k., but their were some problems with production work. The underground sets were great, but the costume work was lacking. Despite all these flaws, this movie rises above a simple 'like' - I'm still a fan of these Sci-Fi classics. 4 out of 5.

Summary: Brent is an American astronaut, part of a team sent to locate missing fellow American astronaut, George Taylor. Following Taylor's known flight trajectory, the search and rescue team crash lands on an unknown planet much like Earth in the year 3955, with Brent being the only survivor of the team. What Brent initially does not know, much like Taylor didn't initially know when he landed here before Brent, is that he has landed back on Earth in the future, in the vicinity of what was New York City. Brent finds evidence that Taylor has been on the planet. In Brent's search for Taylor, he finds that the planet is run by a barbaric race of English speaking apes, whose mission is in part to annihilate the human race. Brent eventually locates some of those humans, who communicate telepathically and who live underground to prevent detection by the apes. These humans, who are in their own way as barbaric as the apes, want in turn to protect their species. Brent has to figure out a way to save ...

  Title: Riddick
Genre: Action, Sci Fi, Thriller  Year: 2013  Country: Canada, USA  Rating: Starring: Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista  Director: David Twohy

My Review: My Review: Riddick - 2013 (Action, sci-fi, thriller) This movie picks up where The Chronicles of Riddick left off. Sometime after Riddick’s reign he’s betrayed, ambushed and attacked on an uninhabited desert planet. Left for dead, he struggles to survive on this inhospitable scorched hell of a planet. Eventually, Riddick finds a way off the planet. He triggers an SOS beacon and waits for the ride to arrive. Unfortunately, the ride turns out to be Bounty Hunters looking to cash in on Riddick’s head. What no one realizes is the real danger on this planet isn’t Riddick it’s the long dormant inhabitants. As the predators awaken, bounty hunters and Riddick both realize that they’re the prey now - Not the hunters. As two different storms converge it’s a survival struggle for all parties. This movie is much more akin to Pitch Black than it is to Chronicles. More horror, adventure, and anti-hero action, than epic space-opera with intrigue, drama and deception. If you liked Pitch Black, you’ll love this monster mayhem. If you liked Chronicles, you’ll dig the bad-ass Riddick as he bows to no man in this tense, thrilling fight for survival. There’s actually some character development here; more so than Pitch Black, but less than the Chronicles. Vin Diesel delivers a breathtaking performance as Riddick, and the supporting cast (Jordi Moll as Santana, Matt Noble as Boss Johns, Kate Sackhoff as Dahl, and many others) complement Vin’s style and the story’s atmosphere. The Writing and Direction by David Twohy was spot on. The only issue I had with the movie was the lack of scope. I found it a bit limiting in story and character. It didn’t expand the Riddick Universe or give us anything new - But it was a kick-ass action flick. I give this movie a 4 out of 5.

Summary: The infamous Riddick has been left for dead on a sun-scorched planet that appears to be lifeless. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against alien predators more lethal than any human he's encountered. The only way off is for Riddick to activate an emergency beacon and alert mercenaries who rapidly descend to the planet in search of their bounty. The first ship to arrive carries a new breed of merc, more lethal and violent, while the second is captained by a man whose pursuit of Riddick is more personal. With time running out and a storm on the horizon that no one could survive, his hunters won't leave the planet without Riddick's head as their trophy.

  Title: The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury
Genre: Animation, Action, Sci Fi, TV Movie  Year: 2004  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Vin Diesel, Rhiana Griffith, Keith David, Roger Jackson, Tress MacNeille  Director: Peter Chung

My Review: An animated prequel by Peter Chung, creator of Aeon Flux anime movie. The action in this movie takes place between Pitch Black and the Chronicles. It isn't much of a story. A crazy comic book throw away story where the villain wants to make frozen statues out of various characters she's captured in her prison ship. The movie features the voices of Vin Diesel (as Riddick) and Keith David (reprising his role as 'Iman' from Pitch Black). The movie serves as a ready excuse for some anime style violent graphics. There is some character development in the Jack and Toombs characters. Their relationships to Riddick are slightly extended, but mostly this movie fails to deliver on any serious level - Story and entertainment are lacking. The mercenary crew of bounty hunters pursues Riddick and his allies as they attempt to escape from a frozen doom. I give it a 2 out of 5. If this movie hadn't been included on my Blu-Ray copy of the Chronicles of Riddick, I might never have watched it.

Summary: This story opens with the new action hero and the two other survivors of Pitch Black already caught by a giant spaceship filled with dread. The sinewy leader has a unique--and creepy--jail for master villains and she has her sights set on Riddick. And Jack as they cross paths with a ship of body hunters and are brought on board. The captain of the ship, Chillingsworth has an interesting hobby - she captures wanted criminals and makes living statues of them.


Created using DVDpedia