Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Movie Review – The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant

Directed by Brad Bird

Starring the voices of Jennifer Aniston, Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick, Jr., Christopher McDonald, and Vin Diesel.

I had to go see this film, simply for the fact that all my movie gossip sites have been raving about this film since November of last year. They kept saying what a grown-up story it had, and how the animation is spellbinding. Well, when my sites started saying how it was suffering from such a bad ad campaign, I’d figure I’d do my part and go see it. Now, I want to tell the whole world to see it.

Our story takes place in a small American coastal town, in the late 1950’s. The Russians have just launched Sputnik, and the entire USA is in the height of cold war paranoia. Things get strange when a fisherman reports that some giant metal monster fell into the sea in front of his boat. This intrigues the young boy Hogarth Hughes (Marienthal), who goes out into the woods in search of this monster. Well, he finds the title Giant (Diesel). It is a 100 foot tall alien robot, who seems to have forgotten his purpose. Hogarth takes the Giant under his wing, looking after it, and trying to hide it from his mother (Aniston). Since the Giant eats metal, Hogarth and the Giant soon befriend Dean (Connick), the local beatnick who runs the local scrapyard. Its not long before government agent Kent (McDonald) is sent to investigate the Giant, and when he discovers it, he is convinced it is a threat that should be blown off the face of the Earth.

This movie is just so amazing. It is the most un-Disney that’s ever been produced. It is so grown-up in thematic matter for an animated film. Unlike so many other animated movies, this one dares to raise questions: do we have to be what others tell us to be? What is life? Do we really have souls? What is our purpose? Why do we fear the unknown? This film had a heart and soul. It raises questions in you about your existence. Someone told me that they saw a film this summer, and it gave them such an emotional overload they felt like they were slugged in the stomach. That’s what I got from this film. It is a powerful experience. It is a film that sticks to your ribs. And that is rare in an animated film. Forget Star Wars: Episode I, this is the best film of the summer. Go see it. And don’t forget, you are who you choose to be.

5 Nibs (The only other movie I ever gave this to was Episode I. Yup, it’s that good.)

Movie Review – Mystery Men

Mystery Men

Directed by Kinka Usher

Starring Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Paul Reubens, Kel Mitchel, Jannine Garafolo, Wes Studi, Geoffery Rush, and Greg Kinnear

It seems August has become the month for superhero movies. Two years ago, we got Spawn at this time, and last year it was Blade. Now, we get Mystery Men. As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for anything based on a comic book. So, when my friends called me up and asked if I wanted to see it, I was there!

The plot: Things are tough for Captain Amazing (Kinnear), the superhero of Champion City. Seems that he’s defeated all his supervillains and reduced the crime rate to zero, so his sponsors have started to pull out. His solution: rig the parole hearing of one of his greatest archenemies, Cassanova Frankenstein (Rush). But, Frankenstein quickly gets the upper hand, and captures the good captain! So, a group of superhero wannabes decide that this is their time to hit the big time. Our heroes: Mr. Furious (Stiller), with his uncontrollable rage, the Shoveler (Macy), who wields a mean shovel, the Blue Raja (Azaria), who throws silverware with deadly accuracy, the Bowler (Garafolo), who hurls her bowling ball at her opponents, the Spleen (Reubens), who has deadly flatulence, the Sphinx (Studi), who’s just so darn mysterious, and the Invisible Boy (Mitchel), who can turn invisible when no one’s looking at him. With the assistance of Dr. Heller, the non-violent weapons designer, they go off to rescue Captain Amazing and save the city!

This movie is just so funny! It is a great action/comedy, and just a great spoof of comics. Kinnear is great as the sell-out Captain Amazing, and our group of heroes is great as a group who just wants to do the right thing. And this film is also great looking! Champion City is a great amalgam of Gotham City, Metropolis, and all those other superhero cities. My favorite of the group: the Shovler. When you think about it, a shovel could be a cool substitute for a lightsaber. This movie rocks! Go see it! And it proves that there’s a little bit of a superhero in all of us.

Oh, and a sidenote: I think I’ve figured out what superhero I am. All summer, when I’ve met up with friends to see a movie, I’ve been the guy with the car. So, I am. . .the Driver! My power: I’m an exceptionally good driver! I’m even working on a catch phrase: “I’ll stay with the car!”

4 Nibs

Movie Review – Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget

Directed by David Kellog

Starring Matthew Broderick, Rupert Everett, Joley Fisher, Michelle Trachtenberg, Dabney Coleman, and the voice of D.L. Hugley.

When I heard they were doing a live-action Inspector Gadget, I got so jazzed. I grew up with the cartoon, so I knew that if done right, this would rock. Even though some of the casting choices caught me off guard, I was still jazzed. I finally saw it. Am I still jazzed? Read on.

The plot, in 300 words or less. John Brown (Broderick) is a security guard at a research lab, and he has a little crush on the roboticist Dr. Brenda Bradford (Fisher). When Dr. Bradford’s father is killed one night by the evil Sanford Scolex (Everett), Brown vows to catch the killer. But, Scolex blows up Brown, and Brown crushes Scolex’s hand. So, Dr. Bradford uses her latest technology to re-build Brown into Inspector Gadget. Scolex replaces his hand with a metal claw, and takes on the name Claw. Gadget soon joins the police force, but gets frustrated when Chief Quimby (Coleman) won’t give Gadget real police work. So, Gadget goes against orders and begins investigating the murder he vowed he’d solve. Meanwhile, Claw decides to build an evil RoboGadget to wreak havoc on Riverton! Can Gadget stop his evil double and save Brenda from Claw? Well, he’ll need the help of his niece Penny (Trachtenberg), his dog Brain, and his talking Gadgetmobile (Hugley).

I hate to say it, but this movie is one huge missed opportunity. They didn’t do it right. They took a few deviations from the cartoon that weren’t needed. Gadget’s thought bubbles are too annoying, and why did the Gadgetmobile talk? All in all, it did not live up to its potential. But still, the effects bringing Gadget to life are impressive, and it’s almost worth it to see Fisher in a purple latex outfit. (You see, Claw also builds a RoboBrenda to be his “plaything,” and she wears a purple latex outfit. I’ve got my new obsession of the month!)

2.5 Nibs

Movie Review – South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

Directed by Trey Parker

Starring the voices of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Issac Hayes, Brent Spiner, Dave Foley, George Clooney, Minnie Driver, Eric Idle, and Mike Judge.

A lot of people were fearful when it was first announced that they were doing a feature film version of South Park. I, personally, think that the crudely animated cartoon is one of the best shows on TV. I was greatly looking forward to a movie version. I started getting wary when I started reading about how the creators wanted to use the movie to take the show to “the next level.” So, I went to see the film, curious to know what “the next level” was.

Our story opens with our intrepid gang of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny going off to see the Terrance and Philip movie Asses of Fire. As the gang leaves the film, their parents are horrified to discover that their kids have picked up the high degree of foul language that abounds in that movie. After the school’s failed attempts to rehabilitate the kids, Kyle’s mom decides that true threat to their kids is Canada, the country of origin of Terrance and Phillip. So, she forms the group Mothers Against Canadians, and the group promptly gets enough pull to get Terrance and Phillip arrested, thus leading to war between the United States and Canada. One problem: the United States and Canada going to war is one of the signs of the Apokalypis. So, Satan and his abusive boyfriend Saddam Hussien prepare to take over the world. Can the kids stop the war and free Terrance and Phillip? Can Kenny (who died and went to Hell) give Satan the self-confidence to dump Hussien? See the film!

This is, without a doubt, the funniest movie of the summer! I was laughing so hard I was crying. What it makes it really cool is that the humor does have a point, with a strong message of anti-censorship and parents taking responsibility for their children. And, in the best Disney tradition, this film is a musical! I’ve been singing What Would Brian Boitano Do? for the last 24 hours, and sad but true, the song Unca Fucka is quite a catchy tune. Kenny dies in a most gruesome way, and the entire midsection turns into a spoof of Les Miz. This movie is a must-see at all costs. And remember, always seek out the clitoris. (You’ll get that joke after you see the film).

4 Nibs

Movie Review – Tarzan

Tarzan

Directed by Kevin Lima and Chris Buck

Starring the voices of Tony Goldwin, Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, Lance Henrikson, Brian Blessed, Nigel Hawthorn, Wayne Knight, and Rosie O’Donnel

I saw this film immediatly after I saw The Iron Giant. I almost didn’t want to see it, because I wanted a little more time to digest The Iron Giant. But, Disney has been on the upswing in their animated films in these last few years, so I thought I’d give it a chance.

I’m sure we’re all framiliar with the tale. Tarzan’s human family is shipwrecked off the coast of Africa. His parents, however, are soon killed by a leopard, and Tarzan is adopted by the ape Kala (Close). She raises Tarzan (Goldwyn) as her son, much to the dismay of the leader of the apes, Kerchak (Henrikson). He’s just suspicious of outsiders. Tarzan grows up, befrinding the elephant Tantor (Knight), and the ape Terk (O’Donnel). But soon, man comes to the jungle, in the form of Jane (Driver), her professor father (Hawthorn), and their guide Clayton (Blessed). When Tarzan encounters other humans for the first time, this leads to his inner conflict as to which world he belongs. Sure, the apes are his family, but he’s falling in love with Jane. Oh, and Clayton is a poacher bent on capturing all the apes and selling them to zoos.

After The Iron Giant, this film just seemed to ring hollow for me. Sure, it is one of Disney’s best of later years, but it was lacking genuine heart. It has many pluses for it though. Phil Collins’ songs (mostly focusing on jungle drums) are a great asset to the film. These characters have to be some of the most formed in all of Disney’s more recent animated films. And, you know that the animation is top notch. I still recommend it, but not as highly as The Iron Giant.

3.5 Nibs

Movie Review – Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Austin Powers:  The Spy Who Shagged Me

Directed by Jay Roach

Starring Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Seth Green, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe and Verne Troyer.

According to an internet poll, this was the second-most anticipated film of the summer of ’99. And, I will admit that I found the first one to be incredibly funny! It always seems to be that I only see Mike Myers sequels in theaters: I saw Wayne’s World 2 in the theater, but not Wayne’s World. And now, I didn’t see Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery in the theater, but I got to see Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. How odd.

The plot is incredibly simple: Dr. Evil (Myers) is freed from his orbiting Big Boy with a new plot for world domination: go back in time to the 1969 and put a giant laser on the moon to hold the world hostage. And, to keep Austin Powers (also Myers) from stopping him, he has an operative Fat Bastard (also Meyers), a Scotsman who weighs exactly one ton, steal Austin’s mojo from the frozen Austin! So, to preserve the timeline and stop Dr. Evil, the mojo-less Ausin must go back in time to 1969. There, he finds a new female sidekick in the form of CIA Agent Felicity Shagwell (Graham). Plus, Dr. Evil throws off the officials of the 1960’s by acting like a 1990’s villain! Oh, and we can’t forget the clone of Dr. Evil, Mini-me (Troyer). He’s exactly like Dr. Evil, only 1/8 the size, and sibling rivalry evolves between Mini-me and Scott Evil (Green). That about sums it up.

The problem that many critics have with comedy sequels is that they are generally below the original. Austin Powers is not below the original, but it’s not above it either. It is about on par with the original. And, being the second-most anticipated film of the summer, that adds up to this film being a bit of a let-down. Don’t get me wrong, if you loved the first one, you’ll get a kick out of this one, but I was expecting…more. But, the film has a lot of great gags nonetheless. A pretty good way to kill an afternoon.

3 Nibs

Movie Review – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine final episode What You Leave Behind

Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine

Final episode What You Leave Behind
Directed by Allan Kroeker

Starring Avery Brooks, Rene Oberjounois, Nana Visitor, Colm Meaney, Michael Dorn, Alexander Siddig, Nichole deBoer, Armin Shimerman, Cirroc Lofton, and the rest of Deep Space Nine players.

This is one of my dirty, little secrets: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is my favorite Star Trek show. Why? Because it dared to be different. It showed us the darker side of the Federation. It showed us a Federation at war, and officers dealing with secrets from their past. Sisko, as captains go, has been one of the most underrated by the fans, IMHO. Plus, they had the Defiant, which was the most ass-kickingest ship in all of Star Trek. So, with the final episode coming, I was eager, yet sad.

The plot was fairly simple: with the evil Dominion on the run, the Federation was launching one massive offensive to end the war once and for all. They were off to invade Cardassia, and free the Cardassians from the rule of the Dominion, and thus crush the Dominion’s main base in the Alpha Quadrant. Kira, having been stranded on Cardassia in the previous episode, was helping the Cardassians lead a resistance against the Dominion. Of course, the good guys won, but the victory celebration didn’t last for long, as Sisko was called by the Prophets to launch one last battle against the evil Gul Dukat.

For the final episode of my favorite Star Trek, I found this to be a little. . .dissapointing. For a final episode, I was expecting more! But, based upon the episodes before, this just all felt a little anti-climactic. I guess my expectations were to high, and this just didn’t deliver. I also found it depressing that this ended with the crew being broken up! (OK, I’ll spoil it: Sisko goes off to be with the Prophets, Odo goes to the Great Link to teach his people that solids aren’t all bad, O’Brian goes off to teach at the academy, and Worf becomes Federation ambassador to the Klingon Empire.) Who knows, being the darker series, maybe a depressing end was the best way to go. But I didn’t get the big pay-off I’d been hoping for. All in all, it was good, but not as good as All Good Things…, the final episode of The Next Generation.

And one last gripe: Sisko’s original mission was to oversee the restoration of Bajor, and it’s eventual entry into the Federation. I had always hoped that the final shot would be some grand ceremony in which Bajor was finally admitted into the Federation; kind of like the medal ceremony at the end of Star Wars. Oh, well, as Spock said, having something is not as pleasureable as wanting something.

3 Nibs

Movie Review – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode I:  The Phantom Menace

Written and Directed by George Lucas

Starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Jake Lloyd, Natalie Portman, Ahmed Best, Ray Parks, and Ian McDiarmand

The most anticipated movie of all time, and I was third in line for tickets! This was like the grad party for all of my college friends, as we all got together 3 days after grad to go see this. Not only was it a film, it was a communal experience. Third in line for tickets, second for seats. Just getting to the theater was a blast!

Since there are like three people on Earth who haven’t seen it, I will try to keep this spoiler-free. Obi-Wan Kenobi and his mentor Qui-Gon Jinn (McGregor and Neeson) are sent to settle a dispute when the Trade Federation invades the peaceful planet of Naboo. Before long, all hell breaks loose, and our intrepid Jedis meet up with Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best). Soon, they escape from the planet with its ruler, Queen Amidala (Portman), but they are forced to set down and make repairs on the planet of Tatooine. Here, they meet a child with whom the Force is stong, young Anakin Skywalker (Lloyd). After rescuing the child from bondage, they continue on their way to free Naboo. But, they are pursued by the true evil of the Trade Federation, a Sith Lord by the name of Darth Maul (Parks).

In my mind, there are 2 kinds of Star Wars fans: those who like the Ewoks, and those who didn’t. If you liked the Ewoks, then you will be more receptive to Jar Jar, and thus the film as a whole. I liked the Ewoks. I LOVED Jar Jar! He was just so silly! I think deep down inside, we are all a little Jar Jar. But enough about JJ! Coming back from a 22 year break from making films, George Lucas shows he’s still got it. McGregor pulled off a great young Obi-Wan, and Neeson was a wonderful mentor. Why couldn’t I have had more professors like that? The lightsabre battles were beyond belief! And who doesn’t love Natalie Portman? There are just so many good things about this film, I can’t say them all. Just go see it for yourself! Me, I hope to be seeing it again soon.

5 Nibs

Movie Review – The Mummy

The Mummy

Directed by Stephen Sommers

Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, and Arnold Vosloo

This is the last movie I see before Episode I, and the first movie of my summer vacation. I hooked up with a group of friends in the big city to see this, and it’s a great way to kick off the summer.

The plot is fairly simple: a brother and sister team of Egyptologists want to travel to the middle of the desert to seek the City of the Dead. The sister wants to do it as an archeological find, but the brother comes along because the place is a huge treasure trove. To guide them, they enlist a Foreign Legion officer, (Fraser), and the only man ever to return alive from the place. When there, they unwittingly release the mummy Imhotep, who seeks to first re-generate his body, and then resuurect his beloved from the dead.

This film, depsite how it’s being billed, is not that much of a horror movie. It is more of an action/adventure, with plenty of doses of humor thrown in for good measure. Fraser makes a good leading-man and Indiana Jones wannabe, and Weisz is OK as the woman who starts the whole adventure. And the climax, with all the warrior mummies is truly cool! My only complaint: too many flesh-eating beetles. Oh, and the effects were fantastic! (This is the last film ILM worked on before starting work on Episode I.)

3 Nibs

Movie Review – The Matrix

The Matrix

Directed by The Wachowski Brothers

Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Ann Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Jon Cypher.

Wow! My first movie review in a dog’s age! I hope I haven’t gotten rusty! Anyway, my parents let me the family car for a week, so a couple of buddies and I went on cheap Tuesday to see The Matrix, the latest visual effects filled extravaganza!

With growing fears over spoilers, I’ll try to keep the plot summary as brief as possible. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, computer programmer by day, hacker by night. He is soon contacted by super-hacker Morpheius (Fishburne), who reveals to Neo that humanity has been enslaved by an artificial intelligence, and that all of reality is a VR program called “The Matrix” designed to keep us docile. Morphius and his followers believe that Neo is “the chosen one,” who will lead humanity out of bondage and into freedom. So, is Neo the chosen one? Can they free humanity from the AI agents who police the Matrix?

First off, the visual effects just rock! They were mind-blowing! How they serve the plot is, well, since reality is a computer program, they do little re-programming to reality. Unlike most visual effects extravaganzas, this one actually has a plot that makes you think. Is what we call real real? And Trinity (Moss), one of the followers of Morpheius, is just so hot! All in all, a great film, and a shway warm-up to Episode I.

4 Nibs