Movie Reviews from 2007

ReviewReviewReview Stomp the Yard Mar 11, ’07 12:12 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

After the death of his younger brother (played by Rn’B sensation Chris Brown), a troubled 19-year-old street dancer from Los Angeles (Columbus Short) is able to bypass juvenile hall by enrolling in the historically black, Truth University in Atlanta, Georgia. But his efforts to get an education and woo the girl (Meagan Good) he likes are sidelined when he is courted by the top two campus fraternities, both of which want and need his fierce street-style dance moves to win the highly coveted national step show competition.

Now I’m a sucker for a dance movie – and I usually don’t expect much of a storyline, and this would be one of those movies… I wish I could say that this is one exception, but unfotunately it falls into the area of weak dance movie plots as well… Though not as terrible as last years Take the Lead, there is not much to the plot at all, though I must say the casting was better, and it didn’t smell of self indulgence like You Got Served did with the performances of Omarion and Marques Houston. Seeing though the same choreographer from “served” was on deck here (the great Dave Scott), it definitely drew me to wanna watch this one – and for good reason. The dancing/stomp was great fun to watch…

Drumline meets Step Up… with ALL the cliches… A reasonable dance movie (certainly better than “Honey”) – if you’re a fan of the genre… If not, proceed with caution…

ReviewReviewReviewReview Rocky Balboa Mar 2, ’07 10:04 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Sports

“But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” (wait for this line to emerge from pulpits everywhere… haha!!)

In this new, probably last, installment of the Rocky series, Rocky Balboa returns to the ring to fight the present world champion… It’s been many years since Rocky Balboa has been in the ring. Through that time his wife Adrian died of cancer, and he and his son, Rocky Jr., have been growing apart. Rocky owns his own deli, and people will come in just to hear his stories. Now ESPN is holding these virtual boxing matches pairing up fighters from different eras, it is a competition. And in the end it showed that if there was a match between “Young” Rocky and the champion Mason “The Line” Dixion, Rocky would win. Seeing this virtual fight makes Rocky remember how much he misses being in the ring. He doesn’t miss the winning part, he misses the sport. So he re-registers for his license… This creates a media firestorm, and who should hear about it but Mason himself. Rocky just wants to get back in the ring to satisfy his love for the sport… This triggers what inevitably could become the Battle of the Ages. A true battle of Will v.s. Skill. With the help of Paulie, Tony aka “Duke” (his old trainer), Little Marie and her son Steps, and of course his son Rocky Jr., it is truly, his final countdown.

Now I went in expecting, “OK Rocky 6… hmmm… I don’t think this one will fly… I mean Rocky 5? One of the worst sequels ever…” I was pleasantly surprised…
This definitely is the most heart tugging Rocky since the original. The boxing takes a back seat to the story here, and we’re thankful for that in some senses, though I do think that some of the plot enactment does slow the pace down a bit. Stallone though gives us a great ending (hopefully) 30 years after the original, to what will always be considered the saga of a great American film hero.

(it had Tina and I – punching the air along with Rocky?! Can you believe it?)

ReviewReviewReview The Pursuit of HappYness Feb 23, ’07 11:12 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

This part of my life is called: reviewing this ride of a movie…

Inspired by a true story and set in San Francisco, 1981, Chris Gardner (Will Smith) was a struggling salesman in little needed medical bone density scanners while his wife (Thandie Newton) toiled in double shifts to support the family including their young son, Christopher (Jaden Smith – Will Smith’s son in real life). In the face of this difficult life, Chris has the desperate inspiration to try for a stockbroker internship where one in twenty has a chance of a lucrative full time career. Even when his wife leaves him because of this choice, Chris clings to this dream with his son even when the odds become more daunting by the day. Together, father and son struggle through homelessness, jail time, tax seizure and the overall punishing despair in a quest that would make Gardner a respected millionaire.

Though Will Smith does deliver a great performance here worthy of Oscar nomination – the movie is Murphy’s Law embodied: if anything can go wrong, it will. It’s just one depressing event after leaving the viewer wanting to come up for breath, and that string of annoying events that occur tend to fall almost too perfectly in time, and therefore felt a little over-calculated. Be sure to go to this movie with your happiness already attained – otherwise you may not make it to the end…

ReviewReview Just Follow Law Feb 21, ’07 11:00 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Comedy

Okay admittedly here in my new home of Singapore, I have grown to appreciate some of the local films. Thought Singapore Dreaming was a great “in your face” look at Sing culture, yet “One Leg Kicking” resembled a cross between Bend it like Beckham, Shaolin Soccer and Kicking and Screaming. But I’ve liked Jack Neo, and his I Not Stupid films (I preferred the second one) are a great example of this mans humour and boldness to address the issues of Singaporean culture in a rather blunt yet hilarious fashion.

Enter Just Follow Law: a satirical movie that humorously explores the intricacies of office politics, seen through the eyes of blue-collar worker Shui (One Leg Kicking and PCK star and Singapore Idol host, Gurmit Singh) and Vice President Tanya (renowned glamour media star Fann Wong) who, through a freak accident, swap souls and bodies. They each experience life in the shoes of the other and come to a better understanding of the plights and challenges facing the workforce in Singapore.
In Neo’s latest escapade, resembles an effort more worthy of a Channel 8 tele-movie – the concept shows promise at the start, addressing the issues of the office workplaces: email confrontation, overly meticulous processes etc. It is when Wong and Singh swap personalities, that the movie moves from a film that addressed these issues with a Michael Moore type sarcasm and wit, to an ode to “Freaky Friday”. Wong outshines Singh surprisingly in the transformation as they swap characters, but this movie is such a roller coaster ride of hilarity (some of the laughs were from the rather low budget CG effects) and corn (the “how do you spell “VIP” joke was totally corny!), that one leaves the movie theatre dissatisfied. Also in typical Neo fashion, the comical parts are all thrown into the beginning of the movie, and the preachiness and morals are left for the latter half – but since the movie clocks in at almost 2 hours, it is a long sermon.

Entertaining in parts, drawn out in others – the movie proves to be an uneven one for all involved.

ReviewReviewReviewReview Letters From Iwo Jima Feb 18, ’07 8:31 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

This partnering piece to Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of our Fathers” is set on the island of Iwo Jima which stands between the American military force and the home islands of Japan. Therefore, the Imperial Japanese Army is desperate to prevent it from falling into American hands and providing a launching point for an invasion of Japan. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi is given command of the forces on the island and sets out to prepare for the imminent attack. General Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe), however, does not favor the rigid traditional approach recommended by his subordinates, and resentment and resistance fester among his staff. In the lower echelons, a young soldier, Saigo (Karazuma Ninomiya), a poor baker in civilian life, strives with his friends to survive the harsh regime of the Japanese army itself, all the while knowing that a fierce battle looms. When the American invasion begins, both Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength, honor, courage, amidst horror beyond imagination.

The performances here from the entire cast are great, especially from Watanabe and Ninomiya (particularly loved his character). Though the movie is a little on the long side, and finds itself chasing a few tangents that lead nowhere, it is definitely refreshing to see a Japanese take on the WWII happenings. At times though it feels like a typical American war movie in reverse (where the opposing army are depicted as being mindless savages). To have Eastwood though, an accomplished American director, at the helm of this Japanese view on this, somewhat adds to the powerful statement that is this movie. A good solid movie with solid performances.

ReviewReviewReviewReview Dreamgirls Feb 16, ’07 1:09 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Other

The groundbreaking Tony Award-winning Broadway phenomenon comes to life as an all-new motion picture adaptation written and directed by Academy Award winner Bill Condon. “Dreamgirls,” is a compelling story of love and loyalty, fame and betrayal that tracks the struggle, sacrifices and triumphs of a group of outsiders carrying their landmark sound into mainstream America in the 1960s and ’70s. The musical follows one talented Supremes-like trio of singers, the Dreams, as they get their big break doing backup for James Brown-esque screecher James “Thunder” Early and secure the services of ambitious proto-music mogul Curtis Taylor. The fortunes of some will rise, others will fall, trusts will be betrayed, and beliefs about love and friendship will be tested — basically nothing that can’t be best expressed by a soaring ballad.

Save for American Idol (where she didn’t even place), no one had really heard of Jennifer Hudson, who plays Effie White – the original lead singer of the Dreams. who for the sake of image, is cast in the background when the group begins to make progress in popularity. She blows the audience away with a great performance. Every time Hudson comes on screen, she steals the show from all the already established superstars, in particular: Beyonce who plays the Diana Ross-like Deena Jones. In fact, by the time Beyonce sings “Listen” – one is almost too tired to. Jamie Foxx’s performance as Curtis is somewhat subdued in contrast to the otherwise flamboyant cast, which is almost reminiscent of his Miami Vice take on Philip Michael Thomas’ “Tubbs”.

Probably the biggest surprise is Eddie Murphy as James “Thunder” Early. Here he pulls off the performance that everyone knew he was capable of: a challenging dramatic role – that brings him out of his comedic comfort role.

This movie will make you “turn your wig around” – very entertaining. Worth the ticket price just to hear Hudson sing “And I am Telling You (You’re Gonna Love Me)”… Give Murphy and Hudson their Academy Awards already.

ReviewReviewReviewReview Singapore Dreaming Feb 11, ’07 11:12 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

Rated by a few local critics as being the best movie Singapore has ever produced, I just had to see this movie about my new home town… That’s a big claim – Now, I haven’t seen that many Singapore movies, but I did enjoy the Jack Neo films I’ve seen…

Richard Low (now not the 80’s ear biting former all black) plays the father of the Loh family, an elderly man whose family is getting together to celebrate the return of his son from overseas study. Like any typical Singaporean housewife, mum Siew Luan (Alice Lim) holds and takes care of the family but is usually taken for granted. Being the only graduate, Seng (Dick Su) carries the family’s hopes of making it big, although he in turn carries with him the albatross of having to live up to expectations, and to repay debts of his father and of his live-in girlfriend Irene (Serene Chen), who have used their savings to send him overseas. Then there is Mei Loh (Yeo Yann Yann), the capable secretary but overlooked-by-family who’s expecting their first child with husband CK (Lim Yu Beng), an ex-army worker turned insurance agent. But when we start to chip away at the family’s pleasant surface, we see the problematic demeanor beneath the seemingly happy exterior. We revisit the usual 5Cs we hear of here in Singapore (Car, Credit Card, Cash, Condominium and Country Club? is that right?) preoccupation that most Singaporeans possess, in a refreshing expose.

A great yet sobering look at the materialistic lifestyle in S.E.A. Wonderful perfomances (especially by my good friend Dick Su!!) all around, make this an in your face presentation of Singapore – as if to say “Here we are, deal with it!”

ReviewReviewReview Gridiron Gang Feb 7, ’07 11:40 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

I actually saw this movie in Samoa about 5 months ago… What a great time, with our Every Nation missionaries in Samoa, watching a film featuring the most famous Samoan in the world right now “The Rock” Duane Johnson (come on Body for Life) as it’s star, and mr. “Pimp my Ride” Xzibit as his protege…

In this true story, The Rock plays probation officer Sean Porter. Porter and his colleague Malcolm Moore (Xzibit) are desperately looking for a way to lift these young men out of the desperate circumstances that landed them at the maximum security juvenile compound. That way seems to be Gridiron, where the young men learn discipline, focus and teamwork. Sean Porter does with Gridiron Gang, what was done with ballroom dancing in NYC in Mad Hot Ballroom (see earlier review).

Now I’m personally a big Rock fan. He, to me, is the greatest entertainer that ever got involved in professional wrestling. I stopped watching wrestling when he left – he exuded charisma. And yes, I’ve forgiven him for “Doom”: that was pretty sad. So, of course, with a wrestler and a rapper as your key characters, one would be forgiven not to expect Shakespearean dialogue and Actors Guild performance, but surprisingly – though wooden and corny at times, the Rock plays Sean Porter to a Tee. Yes, a Samoan wrestler playing a white motivational prison guard in a true story.

Entertaining, and generally a good “feelgood” movie, for those who prefer “Remember the Titans” and “Glory Road”, over “Hoosiers”. Personally no one can beat Gene Hackmans coach performance – but I guess to each his own…

SAMOA MO LE ATUA!!

ReviewReviewReview Bobby Feb 5, ’07 7:59 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

Bobby – directed by Emilio Estevez (his seven year quest to get this film done) is the story of the assassination of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, on June 6th, 1968, which centers around 22 people who were at the Ambassador Hotel where he was killed. With a star studded cast – a number of interwoven stories in Robert Altman type fashion, (a la Crash and Babel), are presented that revove around the assasination in the kitchen of the Ambassador hotel. The cast consists of people from Harry Belafonte and Anthony Hopkins, to Demi Moore and Nick Cannon, from Lawrence Fishburne and Helen Hunt, to Ashton Kutcher and, yes, Lindsay Lohan…

One could often drown being in such a sea of great actors – which works to both Emilio Estevezs’ advantage and disadvantage. The stories seem disjointed at best, but still believable. A great performance though by William H Macy, who plays the unfaithful hotel manager and husband of Sharon Stone the hotel stylist.

If you don’t get lost in this movie, and though at the end the idealism of Robert Kennedy rings strong at the conclusion with his quoted speech, Bobby proves to be a good outing for Emilio Estevez, and for the myriad of stars in it.

ReviewReviewReviewReview Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno) Feb 5, ’07 10:10 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

“Pan’s Labyrinth” is the story of the young Ofelia who travels with her pregnant mother to live with her mother’s new husband in a rural area up North in Spain, 1944, after Franco’s victory. The girl lives in an imaginary world of her own creation and faces the real world with much chagrin. Post-war Fascist repression is at its height in rural Spain and the girl must come to terms with that through a fable of her own.

This Academy Award nominated movie is very original in it’s approach, part war movie, part fantasy movie. Made in Mexico, this is a very dark production with some of the most ugly fantasy creatures I’ve ever seen that will scare the young viewers, and a lot of fantasy so it’s not necessarily to appeal to the war movie purists. But that’s what makes this movie good in its approach – one becomes enraptured in the Alice in Wonderland journey that the young Carmen takes you on. No Tweedledum here though, the monstrous looking fawn is still the object of refuge for the war torn Carmen. And oh, the drama going on in Carmen’s life? A pregnant mother and a fascist step father who left his heart with his wallet in El Segundo! He embodies what Grandmaster Melle Mel once said “Don’t push me coz I’m close to the edge”.

Very dark sets, creative twists and great performances all round make this a good movie… Just don’t be fooled, it’s not a kids movie… Viva La Mexico!

ReviewReviewReview Happy Feet Jan 22, ’07 4:00 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Animation

They sing, they dance… they live near the South Pole… no it’s not Danny Devito coming against Batman, these are the real penguins – well as best animated and drawn as they can be! Set deep inside the icy land of Antarctica, two emperor penguins have a baby named Mumble (Elijah Wood). Hatched upon his feet, he has an amazing skill for tap-dancing. However, penguins are not supposed to tap dance. Even worse, he cannot sing. Torn apart from his mom (Nicole Kidman), dad (Hugh Jackman), and best friend, Gloria (Brittany Murphy), as a teenager who still has his adolescent feathers, his ventures off into the icy landscape. He is rescued from a leopard seal from a group of Adelie penguins, whom which the leader is Ramon (Robin Williams). They take Mumble to their home and discover that all of their fish is being taken from an unknown ‘alien’ source. They ask Lovelace (Robin Williams), a non-wise and cocky leader of the Adelies, to help them. Leading on an incredible adventure, they try to discover the threat of their food source and survival. Using courage and bravery, Mumble begins to teach everyone begins to learn that uniqueness isn’t a burden, but is a gift to be treasured.

What would have been a lovely celebration of uniqueness ends up becoming a rather confused film when Mumble ends up on display at a public aquarium. Was this Toy Story or An Inconvenient Truth?

Enjoyable all the same – with moments of fun with Robin Williams doing double duty in this one! And they sing – boy do they sing… Overly long, and trying to do too much, yet still enough entertainment to leave the viewer tapping their toes…

Bluebird chips anyone?

ReviewReviewReviewReview Blood Diamond Jan 19, ’07 12:37 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

Edward Zwick directs this great movie, which has the backdrop of the beautiful continent of Africa, yet the topic of discussion is of course the illegal diamond trading industry… The movie begins with Solomon (Djimon Hounsou), a fisherman in a small African village that is ransacked by rebel forces. Solomon manages to save his family from being killed, but he is captured in the process and sent to mine a diamond field. There he finds a gigantic rock, which he hides from his captors. The government raids the mine and throws the workers in jail. Also in jail is Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), an African soldier and diamond smuggler whose latest stash was intercepted en route to Liberia. Danny hears talk about the diamond, and after he’s released he springs Solomon in an attempt to broker a deal that will benefit both men (of course initially with selfish intentions). Meanwhile, at Danny’s favorite drinking hangout, he meets American journalist Maddie (Jennifer Connelly), who’s exploring the illegal diamond-smuggling trade but can’t get any solid proof. Danny brokers yet another deal: her access for his intel and know-how.
Hounsou and Dicaprio give great performances here, and Connelly of course is improving with each performance…

A bit long, and definitely a roller coaster with moments of both boredom and brilliance, sandwich this one between Glory (being the better movie) and The Last Samurai (being not quite as good as this one (Tom Cruise? Whatever…)) This movie is a good awareness piece – a little preachy, but hey… put this next to Kanye’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” and it gets people aware…

It’ll make you think twice about the rock on your engagement ring…

(ps I’d actually rate this one 4 and a half but since there is no capacity… we’ll be conservative…)

ReviewReviewReviewReview Krrish Jan 11, ’07 11:00 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Action & Adventure

The sequel to the first Indian sci fi film that I’ve heard of “Koi… Mil Gaya” – Krrish is the first Indian super hero movie that I’ve heard of… Starring Bollywoods man of the moment Hrithik Roshan who plays a double role here – Krishna Mehra and his father (from the first part) Rohit Mehra… Directed by Rakesh Roshan (Hrithik Roshans father), Krrish is about Krishna who is born with superhuman powers that he inherited from his father, who was visited by an alien when he was younger. Priya (Priyanka Chopra) comes into his life and becomes his world. When she beckons him to Singapore, he follows. In Singapore, Dr.Siddhant Arya, a megalomaniacal scientist who is on the verge of changing the future forever. Only one man stands between Dr.Siddharth Arya and his destructive dreams. To block his ruthless ambitions…Krishna must become KRRISH.

OK – I have to admit something… I like to divulge in Bollywood from time to time – and last year this more than made up for the dissapointments that were X Men 3 and of course the terrible Superman Returns! Light hearted fun, definitely with light hearted moments, and plenty of laughs (mostly unintentional) and great dance moments (I was singing “Dil Na Diya” for many days as I went about my business) – this was my Bollywood movie of 2006.

and YAY this one was shot in SINGAPORE!! a lot of shots around the City Hall area, and of course Sentosa (where my wedding was…)

One question though – WHY DO BOLLYWOOD MOVIES HAVE TO BE SO LONG?

ReviewReviewReview Stranger than Fiction Jan 11, ’07 10:43 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Comedy

Will Farrell plays Harold Crick, an IRS agent who suddenly discovers his life is being narrated and that the narrator (Emma Thompson) seems to know everything that is going on in his life and inevitably his death.

A wonderful cast which includes Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah and Maggie Gyllenhaal help drive this movie that initially seems headed for the head, but instead, tugs at the heart. Will Farrell is in great form – a far cry of a performance from Ricky Bobby, finds his “Eternal Sunshine…” Well directed, puts the brakes on a bit here and there – and the ending left me wanting a little… But all in all, a delightful film…

What a great way to start the year – this being the first movie I have seen this year… This movie is reminiscent of those Charlie Kaufman movies, but easy enough to follow for those who don’t understand Charlie Kaufman, or even better, have never heard of him…

ReviewReviewReviewReviewReview V for Vendetta Jan 7, ’07 10:50 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

“Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.”

Ah V for Vendetta – Remember remember the 5th of November… Based on the – this great adventure is a futuristic tale unfolds in a fascist version of Great Britain. A freedom fighter known as V (Hugo Weaving) uses terrorist tactics to fight the oppressive society. He rescues young Evey Hamoond (Natalie Portman) from the secret police, and she becomes his unlikely ally.

I loved this movie – this one definitely made up for those sad Matrix sequels… Wonderful yet dark themes, and the obvious stabs at current affairs, contemporary politics and philosophy are hilarious yet brilliant. The only downfall is its length at around 2 and a 1/4 hours, it is a bit of a stretch… still a great movie, and one, despite its relevance today, for the ages…

ReviewReviewReviewReview Akeelah and the Bee Jan 7, ’07 10:48 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

Another one of my favourite movies this year which was unfortunately slept on by a lot of people was this gem of a movie… I really enjoyed 2005’s documentary “Spellbound”, and this is a movie that takes something as non-exciting as the Spelling Bee, and turns into a story of hope.

This movie was slept on in the sense that I didn’t expect to see much from it… though it was good to see mum and dad from “Boyz in the Hood” back together again (Lawrence Fishburne and Angela Bassett)… I must say that though these two actors are two of the most slept on actors in our time, they were not the ones who ruled in this movie… Keke Palmer who plays Akeelah does a wonderful job of taking this movie out of the typical hope messaged movie and turns it a great film – her performance is wonderful!

A great family movie – one of the better movies of 2006! Anybody got a dictionary?

ReviewReviewReview The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo) Jun 25, ’07 9:31 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Animation

From the Ghibli styled veteran director (Ghibli brought us Howls Moving Castle and the animated Oscar award winning Spirited Away) Mamoru Hosoda, comes this captivating anime about japanese teenage girl Makoto who is a perpetually late, tomboyish (as befits her masculine name) high school student who doesn’t excel at anything in particular, but enjoys hanging out with two school boys, Chiaki and Kousuke. One day, she discovers an extraordinary ability to leap backwards in time, a talent she uses to erase accidents or awkward social situations for herself–the ultimate avoidance act–until she realizes her sidesteps invariably cause others to suffer in her place.

This is the blessing and curse of “Leapt”… At times the time leaping, like most time travel movies, if used too often, can be so confusing. Thematically the movie plays out like a Korean drama series. There are moments of laughter amidst the time travel, as bumbling Makoto tries to get things right! Although it has the other-worldly feel of “Howls” and “Spirited”, it’s nowhere near as imaginative nor entertaining. Not necessarily a bad thing, because the aforementioned movies have a tendency to feel eerie. As most hip hoppers say – it’s “aiight”…

(By the way, just because it’s animated, doesn’t mean it’s recommended for children – this one deals with death quite a bit, so not a kiddie flick)

ReviewReviewReview Surf’s Up Jun 24, ’07 10:18 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Animation

Ok – first there was the comparison between Bugs Life and the less than desirable Antz (or even worse, Ant Bully). Then there was the comparison between the classic Finding Nemo and the shockingly sunken Shark Tale… But please don’t throw this in this one in the same boat (every pun intended) with last years animated Oscar winner – Happy Feet. This animated mockumentary about the prestigious Penguin World Surfing Championship, is a fun ride! Featuring the voice talent of Shia Lebeouf (Transformers) Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) Jeff Bridges, and the hilarious Diedrich Bader (Rex Kwon Do on Napoleon Dynamite) as the hilarious Tank.

The mockumentary style of filming plays out like a light Christopher Guest take which is entertaining enough for the adults, while the story and great CGI animation makes it wonderful viewing for the families eyes… If you had to pick one animated penguin movie – I’d spend my money on this one…

Definitely a breath of fresh air amongst the wave (again pun intended and pushed) of sequels, remakes and rehashes…

This one is a lot of fun, and is welcome relief for those a little disappointed with the third Shrek outing. Chicken Joe over Prince Charming any day…

ReviewReviewReview Fantastic Four – the Rise of the Silver Surfer Jun 16, ’07 12:22 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

OK – yet another sequel… (somebody make something original) – though I must say, this one I enjoyed!

In this one, our loyal four of Mr Fantastic (played by Ioan Gruffudd aka William Wilberforce in Amazing Grace – see review) Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba – looking as awkward in her blonde hair as she does in the lack of chemistry between her and Gruffudd – she looks more at home with the…) Human Torch (Chris Evans) and of course my man the Thing (Michael Chiklis) battle the Silver Surfer and former nemesis, Von Doom. They have to save the planet from an impending force which is out to destroy life on planets, and has sent Silver Surfer as a guide for the force towards earth.

This is a case of the sequel being a vast improvement on the first (I’d even go as far as to say I liked it better than Spidey 3 – the effects in this one aren’t as good, but it does have an easier plot to follow). With a cool villain in Silver Surfer (who well isn’t really… well I won’t spoil it…) voiced by the ever cool Laurence Fishburne, and some good action sequences: this is a good one for a night out. Even the Marvel (geeks… oops) fans will like this one better than the first (I heard some say the original was an abomination) and for the most part, won’t be disappointed.

(Did anyone else notice how many brackets I used in this one?)

ReviewReviewReviewReview Oceans 13 Jun 8, ’07 12:40 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Mystery & Suspense

The sequel to the remake which was based on a French book… Go figure…

But this sequel is the best of the 3’s so far this year (Shrek, Spidey and Pirates have been mediocre at best). The second Ocean’s outing was rather dissapointing, and had me wondering what had happened to the innovative vision that Steven Soderberg had in Oceans 11.

Here comes 13…in this one when Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) makes the mistake of building a hotel with one of Las Vegas’ most hated businessmen, Willy Bank (Al Pacino), he gets cut out of the deal and ends up in the hospital after a heart attack. “He made the right choice,” Willy says, “Roll over and die.” Danny Ocean (George Clooney) tries to help, but Bank dismisses him without any regard.

Six months later, with Bank’s investment thriving as the richest hotel in the city and the hot spot for extravagant punters, Ocean and his gang decide to bring him down. Assisted by their former nemesis, casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia – remember from 11), who is also out to settle issues with Bank, his fierce rival, they plot to bankrupt Bank on his casino’s opening night. This time, it’s not the money, but revenge.

Soderberg restores the magic from the first outing with sharp cinematography, a great soundtrack, a humourous yet simplistic screenplay, and with a stellar cast that play so well off each other. Though not quite a classic like the first, it’s still worth it’s weight in chips.

(I personally wanted to see more from Don Cheadle who is my favourite actor at the moment!)

ReviewReviewReviewReview The Queen Jun 6, ’07 5:17 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Other

Ok this is a late review, as I just saw this one, but still found it worth reviewing. In this historic depiction, we find Queen Elizabeth (played flawlessly by the Oscar award winning Helen Mirren) dealing with the death of Princess Diana, having to juggle public opinion, the demands of newly appointed prime minister of the time – Tony Blair, and her families desires. With clips from real footage interspersed within the movie, the film rides beautifully on the back of Mirren’s solid performance.

A well directed film by Stephen Frears, the film explores real life leadership challenges, particularly in that strange time in last centuries history of the monarchy. A great open ended view of handling the pressure of being divided between historical ritualism and moving forward in modernity. After all, QEII has always been noted as one of the most recognisable figures in society, yet one of the least KNOWN in society. This movie lets down her guard for her…

Does anyone know what QE thought of this movie?

ReviewReviewReviewReview Amazing Grace Jun 1, ’07 1:02 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Education

William Wilberforce: “No one of our age has ever taken power.”
Pitt the Younger: “Which is why we’re too young to realize certain things are impossible. Which is why we will do them anyway.”

With obvious references to one of the most famous and revered choruses of all time, “Amazing Grace” is the true story of the idealist William Wilberforce (Iaon Gruffudd) as he maneuvers his way through Parliament in 19th century England, endeavoring to end the British transatlantic slave trade, battling disloyalty of associates, sickness and the compromise of others.

A beautifully acted historic piece featuring a stellar cast (Y’ossou N’Dour (remember 7 seconds with Neneh Cherry?), Rufus Sewell (The Holiday) and of course Albert Finney as Amazing Grace’s composer John Newton, also shine amongst a great list of renowned stars). The screenplay is often the star in this obviously dialogue driven movie, and although some of the House of Commons scenes in the earlier part of the movie appear dry at first glance, the script throughout is stacked with memorable quips and quotations – often humourous, more often inspirational.

A solid inspirational film, with good performances. Honour God or Change the World? How about BOTH!!

ReviewReviewReviewReview Bridge to Terabithia May 28, ’07 10:26 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Kids & Family

Leslie Burke: You believe it because you have to. I don’t have to believe in Jesus but I think it’s beautiful… I don’t think God goes around damning people to hell. Because He’s too busy enjoying all this!

Based on the classic childrens book – “Terabithia” is about a friendless boy, who is having trouble everywhere in life, is inspired and changed by the new girl at school, who teaches him the importance of fun and imagination.

A taste of home for me – this was shot in good old New Zealand (good to see old Ian Harcourt driving the bus). I enjoyed the imaginative escapades that brought back memories of my childhood – a beautiful story of friendship, childhood hardship and dealing with adults who live in reality. Well acted – especially by the kids on this flick – and the team from Walden Media providing just the right touch of special effects to make this movie real enough to believe.

Thoroughly enjoyable family film – just funny seeing the villain from Terminator 2 playing a loving dad in this one… FREE THE P!!

ReviewReviewReview Shrek the Third May 25, ’07 10:41 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Animation

The gang of Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, Puss N Boots et al are back in the third installment of Shrek. In this one, Shrek is next in line to the throne. When his new father-in-law, King Harold falls ill, Shrek is looked at as the heir to the land of Far, Far Away. Not one to give up his beloved swamp, Shrek recruits his friends Donkey and Puss in Boots to install the rebellious Artie as the new king (voiced by Justin Timberlake). Princess Fiona, however, rallies a band of royal girlfriends to fend off a coup d’etat by the jilted Prince Charming.

A few laugh out loud moments – especially from the female entourage of fairy tale superstars that accompany Fiona. Not quite as hilarious and quick as the first two movies, lacking that magic, yet still good enough to keep one going to see it. Could be that Shrek is running out of creativity? It definitely didn’t appeal to the kids as much as it did to the adults I went to see this one with…

Definitely the better one of the recent “part 3’s” that have come out in recent times… Watch out for the blog on the Thirds!

ReviewReview Pirates of the Caribbean – at Worlds End May 25, ’07 10:33 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Animation

“WELCOME TO SINGAPORE” – Chow Yun Fat in his under-utilized role as the menacing Asian pirate captain Sao Feng opens the movie up with this statement. A statement made in a place that bears no resemblance to the Singapore I call home… That’s because this movie bears no resemblance to the first Pirates movie.

In this episode Captain Barbossa, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann must sail off the edge of the map, navigate treachery and betrayal, and make their final alliances for one last decisive battle. Decisive? The movie feels scattered in some parts, forced in others. By the end of it, a viewer like myself feels exhausted following this ensemble of characters in all their pursuits. I mean Elizabeth is in love with 3 different men, Will goes from bad to good to bad to good, and who exactly is this Calypso?

Some gems with Johnny Depp in monologue as the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow, and a cameo appearance by the apprehensive Keith Richards has one in stiches (How’s mum?)… Other than that a pretty average movie that leaves viewers like me wondering, like the Matrix trilogy, why they poured millions into 2 and 3… Wait a minute, they got my money…

ReviewReviewReview Spiderman 3 May 1, ’07 12:32 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Action & Adventure

Spiderman goes for broke facing 3 enemies this time, the New Goblin, the Sandman, and Venom… 4 if you count the most lethal one – himself. In this encounter we find Spiderman (played effortlessly well by good ol Tobey Macguire in his best Spidey rendition yet) struggling in love and in self pity, when he takes on a different persona after having a chemical reaction from being exposed to meteoric elements. This causes him to him to lose MJ (Kirsten Dunst) and gain a pimped out black suit, which I must say looks great! The power though received when wearing this black suit is similar to that of his lookalike Elijah Wood when he wore that ring… But as we know from part 1 (and many an Evangelical pulpit) “with great power comes great responsibility”. (ironically this was said by his uncle in part 1, moments prior to being rendered powerless after being murdered)

A little weak script wise, and a lot of the movie does sag… I personally wasn’t a fan of the first two, but this one is probably the best one, even though the three villains here don’t match the sinister of the one Doc Ok in part 2. But the groundbreaking effects make this one great ride and well worth the price of admission. Visually this movie is stunning (particularly for those who get to see it in 4K). I liked the deviant Peter Parker that Macguire did midway in this film, this was hilarious. The action sequences are great, and if that’s all you want, is a bit of fast paced action eye candy, then this one is definitely the go! But as this movie clocks in at well over 2 hours, you find that it has its ups and downs like Spidey’s web swinging.

ReviewReview Wild Hogs May 1, ’07 5:16 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Comedy

Wild Hogs is a simple story about four men wanting to ride out into the sunset of the regularity of suburbian mediocrity and experience life. Of course their journey faces troubles when they encounter a “real” motorcycle gang lead by none other than Ray Liotta.

Some fun here and there, but overall a pretty average film with actors who have struggled at the box office as of late. A few genuine laughs sprinkled throughout, but at times it feels forced: somehow, William H Macy is hilarious as expected, but I just couldn’t see Martin Lawrence desiring to go “Wild at Heart” on a motorcycle. Oh and be warned – one too many tasteless “male-bonding” humourous references.

ReviewReview Flyboys May 1, ’07 3:19 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

A sweet, fun film about the adventures of the Lafayette Escadrille, young Americans who volunteered for the French military before the U.S. entered World War I, and became the country’s first fighter pilots. Though rather simplistic in it’s plot outline, with reasonable performances, it is a sweet enough war film to take a date to. I went with my father who loved it, more for it’s sentiment than for anything else…

Though you definitely do feel the length (clocking in at around 140 minutes), it is entertaining enough film to please most of it’s audience without wowing a sub culture. If you want a battle movie that will not divide it’s audience like 300 or Pearl Harbour would, then this is a safe movie…

Yet again another shout out to fellow countryman Martin Henderson on this one, definitely improving as an actor (erase that Torque and Bride and Prejudice from our memory bro!!).

ReviewReviewReview Meet the Robinsons (3D) Apr 6, ’07 2:10 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Animation

Keep Moving Forward – the words of Walt Disney personified and brought to life in this fun film – “Meet the Robinsons”. Here in this Walt Disney escapade we find young orphan boy Lewis, who although cannot find suitable foster parents, finds his meaning in life in invention. All goes awry his science project extrodinaire fails and he gives up on inventing, and in reality, life. He then meets Wilbur Robinson, who whisks him into the future, and takes him into a world of creativity and belonging… It’s not that simple, but I don’t want to ruin it for you – it’s worth checking out for yourself.

A fun ride, with a great theme of being set free from the failures of the past and to keep moving forward… Words of Disney, or the apostle Paul – you decide. Great to hear Angela Bassett again, and of course look out for a cameo from Tom Selleck – hilarious! In the end Meet the Robinsons proves to be a good innings from the Disney 3D department…

ReviewReviewReview Sunshine Apr 4, ’07 12:17 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

Danny Boyle directs this fascinating science fiction flick, which has a crew of scientists (great casting – Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, and my countryman Cliff Curtis et al, give good performances) aboard the Icarus 2, heading towards the sun to salvage it by giving it a Uranium injection with a pod the size of Manhattan Island. Simple, get there, eject pod, return… Right?

Boyle then switches things when they encounter a distress signal from the failed mission vessel, Icarus 1, just above the surface of the sun. Do they disregard the signal and carry out the initial mission, or do they kill two birds with one stone? This is one of a few ethical questions that one asks as they are taken on this journey.

Without spoiling it, the movie does take a turn for the worst – towards confusing horror, and this feels awkward. So please be warned, although here in Singapore it had a PG rating, it does have some frightening scenes Some confusing shots as Icarus 1 and 2 interchange at various points in the movie. Apparently physicist Brian Cox from Manchester University was on hand to give scientific advice, although one would ask – where was the gravity from in the ship, and isnt the sun supposed to expire a lot later than this century, like millions of years.

I personally enjoyed this film, though not without flaws, it’s great cast (it’s just cool to see Johnny Blaze from Fantastic 4, the japanese cop from Babel, and white dude from Barbershop actually leading this mission!), and stirring “what would you do in their shoes?” moments make it one descent ride of a movie.

actually it had me going “remember him, he was in…” a lot!!

Review Pathfinder and Mr Beans Holiday (kill two movies with one star) Apr 1, ’07 11:25 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Other

Now before you say – “ooooh critical guy”- and “where’s your movie?”. Please, think of this as a public service announcement. I just saved you a few quid because I warned you about these films.

Firstly, Pathfinder finds NZer Karl Urban (LORD of the Rings, Riddick, Doom) playing Ghost – a young viking boy who is left behind in America to be raised by the Native Americans that his fellow vikings were battling. 15 years later, the vikings return to find Ghost alive and well, raised by the Native Americans. Will Ghost consider himself a Native American, or will he turn back to his viking ways. I know it sounds like it could work, but the story is very disjointed, it’s poorly shot and scripted, and feels like one of those old Arnie movies without the catchy one liners.

I also felt my fellow countryman Karl Urban was out of place in this movie. It may have been the fact I saw him in NZ day after day on Shortland Street playing a nursing orderly, I don’t know. I just kept thinking about what comedian Paul Mooney said one time: First they made Brad Pitt “The Mexican”, then Tom Cruise was “The Last Samurai”… what’s next, Tom Hanks as “The Last Black Man on Earth?”

Then Rowan Atkinson in Mr Beans Holiday. OK, the first 3 episodes of Mr Beans half hour tv specials are classics. But it’s been a while, and it doesn’t take a while (well yes it does – Bean’s better in the half hour dosages) before one realises that this encounter has been emptied of the genius that Mr Atkinson displayed in “Not the 9 O’clock News” and the “Blackadder” series. Bean there, done that (harty har har!), Bean has been rehashed in different movies like “Rat Race” and “Johnny English”. This movie feels more like Mr Magoo than Mr Bean.

Here we find Bean holidaying in the South of France, where he singlehandedly ruins everything in his path on the way from England to Cannes.

I’m sorry Karl Urban and Rowan Atkinson. Mr Urban, the movie was pretty sadly shot, with a plot that didn’t make any sense in it’s unravelling. Mr Atkinson, it’s so sad that someone so ingenious can be put to this sort of torture – both movies were worse than Norbit, that lost Eddie the Oscar for supporting actor. I hope that we can do better next time – I appreciate your performances otherwise and elsewhere, just not here. I guess everyone’s allowed a holiday every now and then…

ReviewReviewReviewReview For Your Consideration Mar 27, ’07 10:05 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Comedy

From the Christopher Guest mockumentary stable (“This is Spinal Tap”, “A Mighty Wind”, “Best in Show”, “Waiting for Guffman” etc.) comes this gem of a flick. This one finds the usual cast of misfits (Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey etc.) filming a period drama called “Home for Purim”, when news hits the web that the actors could be nominated for Oscars. The movie follows the actors, the director, the producer (Coolidge in hilarious form this time), studio representatives (including the funny Ricky Gervais – the Office BBC fame) all gear up for the build up towards Oscar night!

This movie is a breath of fresh air from the comedy currently garnering the cinemas (Norbit or Bean anyone?), and though not quite up to par with the aforementioned Guest movies and plays out less on the Mockumentary and more as an actual narrative, this one definitely is a fun movie, with moments of out loud laughter. A not so good day from this cast and crew, is a great day in most other peoples filmography’s. Now everyone will know where the Office got it’s ideas from.

ReviewReviewReview Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) Mar 25, ’07 11:15 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Animation

The turtles are back! Not that anyone was waiting, right? To all the NZ readers, this brought back memories to when TV 3 started back in the late 80’s and TMNT would come on right after Britney, Christina and Justin on good ol Mickey Mouse Club…

20 years later, our heroes in a half shell come with a lot more action in animation, but with less of the humour and character (particularly from Michelangelo) from the earlier live action movies (I have bad memories of those ones though – that terrible Turtle Power rap? Joey B Ellis anyone?). This one finds the Turtles in disunity, with the Raphael’s jealousy of Leonardo’s leadership. Now, if they can pull it together under the guidance of Splinter (Mako) with the help of April O Neal (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her boyfriend Casey, they must take on the multi zillionaire Max Winters (Patrick Stewart). Featuring the voice talent of a cast which also boasts stars from Kevin Smith (Clerks Silent Bob fame) to Ziyi Zhang (or Zhang Ziyi around here), it was also narrated by the new generation Earl Jones, Mr Lawrence Fishburne.

The April and Casey story has a tendency to drag the story down (glad she ditched the yellow raincoat – that was sooooo Curious George), and not knowing who the villain is leaves one crying for Bebop and Rocksteady to come out of the dark again… Sometimes it plays itself out like a great Saturday Morning escapade. But that’s not neccessarily too bad – I like Saturday mornings…

Good fun – nothing more, nothing less, plus it’s almost retro!
Now what was that Technotronic song that they did on the first movie from 1990? Anyone remember that one?

PS this is an additional edit due to the comment below from my brother Eric Tee – from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 – Vanilla Ice – Ninja Rap. The epitome of wackness, but hilarious all the same:

ReviewReviewReview Freedom Writers Mar 16, ’07 2:12 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

Based on actual diary accounts of several teenagers following the LA riots, FREEDOM WRITERS is the story of an idealistic teacher’s attempts to make a difference in the lives of her at-risk students. Located in gang-ravaged Long Beach, California, Woodrow Wilson High is a hotbed of violence due to a voluntary integration program which brings Black, Latino, Asian, and White students together. Rather than having the desired effect of creating healthy diversity, this program breeds constant war between all parties involved, the result being daily gun shots, constant racial slurs, and gang violence.
Played largely by young unknowns, the freshman class in question is both naïve and wise beyond its years. While never having heard of the Holocaust, these kids are well-versed in the pain of poverty, the legal system, and death. Despite being up against unthinkable violence, devoted first-time teacher Erin Gruwell (Hillary Swank) never gives up, slowly bonding with her class of at-first unreachable pupils, breaking down their tough exteriors and getting at the real people beneath through requiring the students keep daily journals.

Hillary Swank saves this movie with a gritty yet pretty performance. It’s this performance that saves it from becoming “To Madam with Love”. Swank does a better job than Michelle Pfieffer did in “Dangerous Minds” (where is Ms Pfieffer these days, and Coolio for that matter?). The movie, although based on the actual diaries of these students from South Central Los Angeles, feels rather fictional in it’s retelling… the rather quick transitions in the hate relationship to the “don’t leave us ma!” statements made to Swanks character. Imelda Staunton did a great job playing nemesis here as the jealous teacher wanting to ruin everything that Erin Gruwell laid her hands to, and great performance also from April L Hernandez as the troubled Eva.

Other than that, it was a good enough movie, not really breaking new ground – loved the use of the holocaust references and parallels to what was happening in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots. A shame footage of the real Miep Gies couldn’t be used or somehow intertwined, but I guess we can’t have it all… an extra half a star for the retro look at early – mid 90’s hip hop… was dope to hear Hip Hop Hooray, Keep Your Head Up, Rebirth of Slick, Pharcyde, and even Montell Jordan’s “this is how we do it”…

I’m really suddenly getting the urge to watch “School of Rock” now for some reason… hmmm…

ReviewReview Music and Lyrics Mar 12, ’07 10:17 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Comedy

“That’s wonderfully sensitive… especially from a man who wears such tight pants.”
“It forces all the blood to my heart.”

“Music and Lyrics” is a movie about 80s pop sensation Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who is making a nice, but humiliating, living singing his hit songs on the country fair circuit. He’s a huge draw entertaining at high school 20th reunions. When teen pop sensation Cora (Haley Bennett) approaches Alex to write a song for her and do a duet, he jumps at the chance. Its either this or getting into a boxing ring with A-Ha.

Alex needs a lyricist immediately since Cora has given him a 3-day deadline to deliver a song. Who stumbles into his apartment to splash some water on his plants? Sophie (Drew Barrymore) interrupts Alex’s session with his manager Chris (Brad Garrett) and throws some lines around. Alex has found his lyricist! Except, Sophie would rather work in her big sister’s Rhonda (Kristen Johnston) weight-off store and water plants on the side.

Although rather formulaic and cliche, with pick up lines from Hugh Grants character having one looking for the corn field, and big stadium love declaration song a la Adam Sandler – the film felt like the expression “Sweet Nothings”… It is a sweet enough movie, but there is nothing new about it at all… One credit to it though… I walked out of the theatre with the above song “pop goes my heart” ringing in my head repetitively…

Whatever happened to Andrew Ridgley anyway?

ReviewReviewReview Fred Claus Nov 30, ’07 11:28 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Comedy

Vince Vaughn plays Fred Claus, the big brother of the jolly red guy Nick Claus (played by one of my favourite actors Paul Giamatti). After living in the shadow of his little brother since childhood, Fred finds himself in a downward spiral towards loserville. His girlfriend (Rachel Wiesz) is tired of his games, and he finds himself on the wrong side of the law, only to have his lil brother bail him out under one condition: he comes to the North Pole and works for him.

Enter the rest of the star studded cast which includes the ever shrewd Kevin Spacey (look out for Lex Luthors ironic scene including a certain gift from Santa), Kathy Bates as Mama Claus, and Ludacris as elf DJ Donny… That’s right, in what seems like a regular Christmas funfest stars two Oscar nominees and two Oscar winners.

Though nowhere near a classic (my favourite movies for the holiday season? It’s a Wonderful Life and of course A Christmas Story – “you’ll shoot your eye out”), and although I’m not a big fan of Vince Vaughn, this movie was indeed a fun one to watch, and left me singing “Here Comes Santa Claus” all the way to the car… With it’s great side cast (especially Spacey and Giamatti here…) and a couple of great scenes that surprise (look out for the classic Siblings Anonymous scene), it’s well worth your yuletide ticket money.

If only Will Ferrell turned up as an Elf again – that would’ve made this classic!

ReviewReview Enchanted Nov 26, ’07 8:44 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Kids & Family

Disney decides not to take itself too seriously and have fun with the genre of fantasy cartoon which they pretty much invented – the fantasy animated movie. Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) and Prince Edward (the true star of the movie for me – James Marsden) have their wedding plans interrupted by the Edwards stepmother (Susan Sarandon – who does a wonderful job at being sinister). The movie reverses Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews narrates this by the way) and comes into the real world – and where better? Of course, New York City…

McDreamy himself (Patrick Dempsey) comes in and this time plays uptight divorce lawyer and solo dad Robert Philip who tries to help Giselle back to cartoonland and Edward, only to become caught up in her web of confused musical interludes that reminisce Bollywood episodes at times. Will she return to Edward? Will she want to return? What of the wicked stepmother? and the evil sidekick? Where does that leave Robert Philip? Who himself is attached to a possible fiance – will that still happen? What about his job? Oh – the questions that must be answered…

The movie takes a tailspin towards the end into desparation, and not even Susan Sarandon coming in as a dragon can reignite the potential stirred from the beginning – it clocks in at just under 2 hours, and the movie felt about 25 minutes too long, only to rush the happily ever after at the end. The innovation, the charm from the prince and the chipmunk, and a great musical score (Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz do a great job – and look out for Jon Mclaughlin and Carrie Underwood songs) is not quite enough to sustain this. Great for kids who will enjoy it, but after a few minutes adults with any form of a sense of humour will only be fulfilled ever time Cyplops hits the screen. Othewise, this is pretty much a bedtime story.

ReviewReviewReview The Kingdom Nov 18, ’07 1:43 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Other

Peter Berg directs this action packed Michael Mann production, which has Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman (yes that’s right…) out in Saudi Arabia on a renegade mission as FBI agents out to avenge the death of one of their own, only to find that the issues run a lot deeper than just revenge.

What begins with one of the most informative opening sequences to any film I’ve seen one would not be considered deranged to think that this film was to be a political drama/thriller. But what begins as film that could sway in the “Lions for Lambs/Rendition” vein, ends up becoming more like Rambo – forget about the Arabian oil fiasco backdrop, it’s almost irrelevant – because when it comes down to it, it’s all about the action complete with that Michael Mann “grainyness” that we’ve come to know and love (i loathe it to be honest). Please note though – there is a lot of gunfire, and explosions – so overt violence is definitely on the cards, with quite a fair share of coarse language. The action sequences though are fun to watch, and exhilarating at best – especially towards the end of the film.

If you want a better cinematic picture of affairs in Saudi Arabia, go see Syriana – The Kingdom is entertainment fodder only.

ReviewReviewReview Lions for Lambs Nov 10, ’07 7:56 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Other

This Robert Redford political drama flick poses the question “Do you want to win the war on terrorism” in 3 parallel stories, one which features Redford himself trying as a university lecturer trying to shake off American apathy towards the issues one slacker at a time, another story featuring a journalist (Meryl Streep who does a better job here than she does on the current political drama “Rendition”) interviewing a Republican senator (Tom Cruise) to ask what is going be done about the troops in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan six years after 9/11 only to have the question thrown back in her face, and the two men out in the field (Derek Luke from Antwan Fisher and Michael Pena from Crash who was last seen lying in rubble in World Trade Centre and ironically spends most of this movie lying helplessly) who enter the situation in the middle east to be “do’ers” as opposed to slackers.

The message is more than clear, if not overly in your face. Redfords story is the best one to follow, the other two, though well acted, feel a little disjointed. Although this may not be Redford’s best film of his seven movies, this by far is his boldest, and at 90 minutes it is a speech from a soapbox does leave people with a two word challenge:

“DO SOMETHING!!!”

(be warned also, there is some coarse language in this one…)

ReviewReviewReview Bee Movie Nov 10, ’07 6:50 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Animation

Seinfeld gets animated as Barry the Bee who discovers freedom from the mundaneness of honey making, and meets with humans and their overuse of the product of bee living – honey…

With Seinfeld at the helm, you knew this was going to be a hilarious take on bee life, and with a great ensemble voice cast which includes Chris Rock, Jon Goodman, Rip Torn and Renee Zellweger, this one is definitely worth checking out. Though definitely not up to par with the magic that Pixar has brought of late, it was nice to have a family friendly animated pic from the Dreamworks camp. I think that Dreamworks did for animation, what Roseanne did to Cosby back in the late 80’s.

Oh and I took a star off for trying to compare the value of our lives to that of bees… buzz off!!

ReviewReviewReviewReview The Game Plan Nov 8, ’07 10:31 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Kids & Family

Big egotistical nfl football star Joe Kingman(the most famous Samoan in the world – former wrestling orator Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson) finally finds out he has a young daughter, and the daughter turns his life upside down!

Now I know what you’re thinking “4 STARS NELI? ARE YOU PSYCHO??”… this formula has been done time and time again – Big goofy guy + little annoying kids = laughs… The Pacifier with goofy Vin Diesel, Kindergarten Cop and Jingle All the Way with goofy Arnie… Even Bruce Willis who basically plays Jon Maclean with a kid in the movie called… ummm… the Kid?

But the Rock is far from goofy… and it is just great to see my definition of coolness take one for the team. Plus, did I mention he’s Samoan…
Some laugh out loud moments, and even a nice lil twist at the end…

OK this is a very biased review… but this is my review, and I’ll “Never Say No!”
I’m off to the gym to go work on the convictions this movie brought me…

ReviewReviewReviewReview Stardust Nov 2, ’07 3:07 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Action & Adventure

This Matthew Vaughn film based on the Neil Geiman novella of the same name brings to life the fantasy genre. In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he’ll retrieve a fallen star (Claire Danes) by venturing into the magical realm, yet at the very same time a group of elderly witch sisters (led by the hilarious Michelle Pfieffer) are looking for the star as it will restore their youth, and a group of princes are in search of the star because whoever will retrieve it will be the next king.

Add a rather laugh-out-loud performance from Robert De Niro (be prepared to be surprised), and you have the recipe for one of the better fantasy movies this side of the 80’s. Plenty of humour (look out for the cameo from ricky gervais who can never quite shake his typecastness from his character on “the Office”), adventure and scares for everyone (not necessarily good for younger audiences – for the humour and scares…) – and though not quite Princess Bride, it definitely is an adventurous film worth seeing.

ReviewReviewReview Italianetz (The Italian) Oct 15, ’07 12:43 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Foreign

I know – the movie is called the Italian, and it is a Russian film…

The Italian is about Vanya – a 6 year old orphan living in a rundown orphanage in a remote Russian village. For Vanya and the other children, life is without hope, unless, of course, they are adopted by wealthy foreigners. For Vanya, comes prospective adoptive parents – an Italian couple. But while arrangements are being made an incident occurs when the mother of another child appears, seeking her son. Vanya begins to wonder what would happen if his own mother came to meet him, and he had moved to Italy.With the help of older children in the orphanage, Vanya is able to access his records and find the possible whereabouts of his mother.

Though somewhat dull and slow in parts – the stunning performance by young Kolya Spiridonov keeps you enthralled throughout the film. The pursuit scenes take it from what is reminiscent of Dickens “Oliver Twist” to a Harrison Ford vs Tommy Lee Jones engagement, though never quite as intense. The themes in nature are more for mature audiences, and this is definitely not one for the kids. Great directorial debut for Andrei Kravchuk.

ReviewReviewReview No Reservations Sep 24, ’07 12:24 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas plays Kate, a chef at an upscale restaurant in New York, whose life totally revolves around being the best cook in the whole city, when confronted with issues of death, love and the fact that there may be more to life than the perfect Saffron Sauce.

I was told that this movie was a romantic comedy – chick flick, most definitely. But when one is confronted with seeing Kate the chef go through tragic situation after another, it definitely doesn’t warrant laughs. There is one laugh out loud moment – just listen out for the line “you’re leaning on my scarf”.

Aaron Eckhart plays the debonair Nick, who threatens to share the kitchen and share interests in love with Kate, and of course Little Miss Sunshine herself Abigail Breslin presents more tear filled moments than laughs (something inside me was waiting for Rick James music to play again!). Though predictable, definitely harmless, and what lacks in substance, is made up for in style. Fine food film at it’s second best – I’ve still got that Ratatouille aftertaste in my mouth!

ReviewReviewReviewReview SiCKO Sep 18, ’07 2:32 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Documentary

Before I get into the crux of this film, let me just say that this is the third movie in the last month (after Rush Hour 3 and of course Ratatouille) that makes Paris, and France look so appealing. Anyone thinking of moving?

Michael Moore is at it again, after his masterpiece Bowling for Columbine that evoked of generation of little man expose documentary makers (Super Size Me anyone?) to pull out any old video camera and bring down “the Man”. Although there were mixed reviews and accusations that the all provoking Fahrenheit 9/11 was less documentary and more political commentary film (anyone know the difference), it still gave a massive jolt.

Here, Moore deals with something that is a lot more universal that both Republicans and Democrats can identify with – Health, and in particular the U.S. health care system. Moore in his typically sarcastic yet enlightening manner proceeds to uncover the money making rather than caring nature of the health insurance companies of the United States, and then goes north of the border to Canada, then across the Atlantic to England and yes, France (where they apparently government workers to wash your clothes and look after your kids). Then, well – I won’t ruin it, but let me just say three words: CUBA, FREE HEALTHCARE.

Moore leans less on the quick facts and media bites that made “Columbine” such a great film, and swings more for the emotional tug a few times by interviewing a few 9/11 fire fighters whose heroism was celebrated at one time, but are now plagued with life ailments from working in the polluted air of the World Trade Centres’ ruins.

Worth watching – maybe not for younger audiences (opens with a guy stitching himself because the hospital wouldn’t help him).

ReviewReviewReviewReview Jesus Camp Sep 17, ’07 11:49 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Documentary

This riveting Oscar-nominated documentary offers an look at a revivalist subculture where devout Christian youngsters are being primed to deliver religious and political messages. Building an evangelical army of tomorrow, the Kids on Fire summer camp in Devil’s Lake, N.D., is dedicated to deepening the preteens’ spirituality and sowing the seeds of political activism as they’re exhorted to “take back America for Christ.”

As a film this serves as a great conversation piece for people of all walks – definitely provokes emotion, and, for the most part, acts as a platter for all who choose to divulge in this buffet, dealing with the army of evangelical children who have the agenda to take over the nation of the United States.

As a non American Christian watching this film, there were mixed emotions though. I love the zeal that these children had for the cause of Christ, but the political bent towards certain political agendas and so forth (would they have prayed for Clinton as vigourously as they did for Bush in this one?) left me wondering. Then, the inclusion of Ted Haggard with comments about the morality of the U.S. in decline, in light of recent events left a bit of a disturbing after taste. There was though unnecessary radio commentary given by radio host Mike Papantonio a couple of times in the film.

But rather than open up the can of worms here – remembering yet again that I am reviewing the film as a FILM, I thought it was wonderfully shot, and definitely provoking many a conversation with patrons after viewing it. Worth a look – especially at only 85 minutes long – a rarity in 2007.

ReviewReview Evan Almighty Sep 7, ’07 2:24 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Comedy

Yet another sequel, this time of Biblical theme and even proportions – deemed the most expensive comedy ever made. Steve Carrell stars as a Congressman who is looking to work his way up the ladder at Capitol Hill, when he is confronted by Morgan Freeman who plays God who orders him to make an ark and get all the animals into it – two by two. Just like Genesis 6:14… Will he do it, and risk his reputation and marriage on this task?

Carrell picks up where Jim Carrey left off in the funny Bruce Almighty. This movie though (purely from an artistic viewpoint) felt forced in parts, and though there are some laugh out loud moments, and great morals, and if anything, it will get people who are unfamiliar with Scripture reading their Bibles and enquiring about God, as a movie it didn’t quite hold the weight of the first installment. Though a lot more family friendly than the first, and it is a fun ride for the kids – Evan leaves you a little unfulfilled, and the whole A.R.K. (Acts of Random Kindness) thing was a little bit much. (Good to see John Goodman again though as villainous as he was in O Brother Where Art Thou…)

ReviewReviewReviewReviewReview Ratatouille Aug 24, ’07 1:10 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Animation

This is the story of a rat, who happens to be a food connoisseur named Remy and a bumbling teen hopeful named Linguini looking at becoming the best chef in France. How does Remy succeed in letting go of his destiny to become a regular junk eating rat, to becoming a chef extraordinaire? Will Linguini find his identity after losing both parents and coming to wits end working as a garbage boy for a has been restaurant in Paris…

I consider this one another Pixar classic with tasty animation, exquisite story, and a delightful heart at the center of the movie… Even if it does remind me of that UB40 classic “Rat in the Kitchen” quite a bit (‘I’m gonna kill that rat…’).

Peter O’Toole steals the show as the pompous English food critic Mr. Ego! The one scene where he recalls tasting Ratatouille is hilarious! You have to see it to get what I mean…

It made me hungry – I was looking forward to trying my hand in the kitchen when I got home: I ended up warming up L.O’s in the microwave…
This movie will either make you wanna cook, or make you wanna eat! Either way, although heartwarming – I still don’t like vermin anywhere near my food!

ReviewReviewReview Hairspray Aug 24, ’07 1:31 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Other

Yes another remake, this time of the offbeat 1988 musical that starred Ricki Lake (then unknown, before “Go Ricki, go Ricki), that was then taken to Broadway. Now 19 years later, this story of the struggle against segregation because of race and size receives rescucitation, body and vitality in this treatment…

Set in the 1960’s Baltimore – positive plump teen Tracy Turnblad (played somewhat flawlessly by newcomer Nikki Blonsky) struggles through school life encountering everything from parents not understanding (played by the cool Christopher Walken, and the cross dressing John Travolta who looks like the white version of Big Momma – is it an idea from Wild Hogs conversations?), to fulfilling dreams, to fighting racism.
Michelle Pfieffer does a great job of irritating you as the villanous Velma Von Tussle who attempts to corrupt the system so that her equally menacing daughter Amber (Brittany Snow) can take the spotlight in the hottest teen tv show in town, The Corny Collins Show… Throw in her dreamboat Link Larkin (Mr “High School Musical” Zac Efren) and of course the black cast of the show headed by Queen Latifah, and you see we’re in for a ride!

There are some bumps along the way as some of the issues are tackled with less tact than others, but musically, as it is overall – it’s a vibrant fun ride! Though there are some tactless innuendo puns, and of course John Travolta playing the hilarious yet disturbing Edna – overall I enjoyed this one. My mum even liked it – probably more than I did! IN YOUR FACE FUN…

ReviewReviewReviewReview The Bourne Ultimatum Aug 8, ’07 2:43 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Action & Adventure

Let me start this review by saying this: SOMEBODY GET PAUL GREENGRASS A STEADYCAM!!

The end of another trilogy, this time the final installment based on Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series. Definitely the best of the three for me, Matt Damon flawlessly plays Bourne, who is still trying to discover who he is, and has the whole CIA chasing him down… Is he going to be able to uncover the conspiracy? Will anyone side with him? Who really is crooked?

Paul Greengrass (also known for his shaky cam antics on the second installment, and of course my movie for last year United 93) provides the direction for this action packed spy thriller, and does a phenomenal job connecting the dots. With a mega budget of $125 million US, it’s not a wonder Bourne is seen hopping in four different European countries, in Africa, and of course like every other high budget action film, NYC…

Definitely is my “Part 3” of the year thus far, and breaks the trend with this series improving with each installment. But be warned, more action = more Greengrass shakiness.

(actually a four and a half stars – come on multiply – half the stars!!)

ReviewReviewReview Rush Hour 3 Aug 8, ’07 2:31 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Comedy

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in his first role since the second one, revive the Lee and Carter duo in Rush Hour 3. Can Tucker come back? Well in this episode, we find Lee discovering… well the story bridges from the first installment as Soo Yung is now grown up from… and then they’re in Paris busting a Chinese triad gang… Confused? Well so was I…

Anyway that’s not why we watch these formulaic action comedies, storylines? Forget em… Just enjoy as Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker do what they do best, roundhouse kick opponents and drop one-liners with a voice that seems to be constantly inhaling helium. Though enjoyable and hilarious in parts, the formula for Rush Hour 3 is tired and stuck in traffic, the ending (though I won’t ruin it) is very sudden, the humour is very wry in parts, and director Brett Ratner finishes this trilogy like he did with the X Men… or did someone say Rush Hour 4? Let me just say, it wasn’t me that suggested it…

(a couple of suggestive scenes so be prewarned)

ReviewReviewReview Invisible Target – (Nan Er Ben Se) Jul 28, ’07 11:41 AM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Action & Adventure

This latest Benny Chan film (the New Police Story – Jackie Chan) has Nicolas Tse, Jaycee Chan, and Shawn Yue moving in familiar John Woo “Hard Boiled” territory – mole vs mole. What makes this fun, is that it replaces the guns with stylized martial arts in the streets of HK, as all three men take on a syndicate of vengeful killers and crooked cops who have all banded in illegal activity to get justice – well, so it seems in their subjective eyes.

I must warn the viewer, though the violence in the fights is non stop and at times extreme (it has been named by another reviewer as GLASS TARGET, as there are so many smashed windows in this movie), and the screenplay takes its merry time introducing and developing the characters of the three stars – the stunts are breathtaking at times as we come to expect from Benny Chan, and all in all, this makes for an exhilarating ride… Good to see Nicolas and Shawn back together again after “Dragon Tiger Gate” which was another enjoyable HK flick. Though “Target” presents nothing new, it definitely still is a fun night out for the lads.

ReviewReviewReviewReview Die Hard 4.0 – Live Free or Die Hard Jul 2, ’07 1:00 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Action & Adventure

John McClane is back in this rip roaring visceral feast of a movie in Die Hard 4. In this one, McClane (Bruce Willis) is protecting champion hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) from a plot to kill him in fear that he may be able to foil a cyber-terrorist plan to take all of the funds and resources, and funnel them out of the U.S.

Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) and vicious femme fatale Mai Lihn (Maggie Q) play the bitter villains out for revenge on the U.S. governemnt for rejecting them from a previous project that could’ve saved the nation from 9/11. Rounding out the cast is kiwi actor Cliff Curtis (“Mean Maori MEAN!!”) who plays the FBI Liutenant Bowman, and of course the cameo from the Warlord – Kevin Smith.

This movie is non stop action, and has some of the most exhilarating action sequences i’ve seen in a while (keep in mind I saw Transformers three days ago!). These Die Hard films have evolved, with the third one being heavily criticized for being a far cry from the first two (I actually was delighted with the third installment! Took me a long time trying to figure out that water jar and fountain thing). This one feels a lot more like the a good combination of the three movies, though the villain is not as menacing as the ones have been in the past!

Still if you like your action movies with a little less CGI and a little more human this is your movie. Though sometimes you have to wonder, whether McClane would really be able to survive some of the knocks he endures in this one… Edge of your seat stuff!!

(be aware of the language as well – is a little rough in parts… not recommended for children)

ReviewReviewReview Transformers Jun 29, ’07 2:50 PM
for everyone

Category: Movies
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

Michael Bay directs this fun filled, action packed fest which has our friends the autobots and decepticons still at war, and the fate of the universe is at stake. As the war descends onto the planet earth, the ultimate power is a possible lead held by young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). A normal teen, Sam is consumed with your average teen concerns about school, friends, cars and girls. Unaware that he alone is humanity’s remedy for extinction, Sam and his “friend” Mikaela (Megan Fox) find themselves in between the Autobots and Decepticons. With the world at stake, Sam recognises the true meaning behind the Witwicky family mantra -– “No sacrifice, no victory!”

Though everything on this movie is on a grand scale except the plot and screenplay which is sometimes confusing, it’s Lebeouf’s witty performance and the second to none effects that make this a stimulating watch. It’s these points alone that make it an above average film. If you’re going for the dialogue, see something else. At around two and a half hours, unlike some of the more recent lengthy features, this one keeps you stimulated with all the eye candy, and will bring out the 8 year old boy in any viewer!

Fella’s remember the first time you saw Terminator 2 and were wowed by the CGI… This is that for the new millenium. Michael Bay heralds every action movie from Independence Day, to his own the Rock, Pearl Harbour and Bad Boys (check out the circling ascending shots of the heroes…).

(I did feel a bit conned in the product placement though… mind you, it was a 150million dollar commercial for Hasbro – I know there was MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE… (barf))

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