Category Archives: Movie Reviews

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

Movie Review – Blade

Blade

Directed by Stephen Norrington

Starring Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristopherson, and N’Bush Wright

Well, here it is. My first movie review after the return to Camrose. As you could probably guess, the reviews are going to be less and less as school picks up again. But het, the Student’s Union was paying for free films, so who was I to say no? And, from the vast selection of choices at the multiplex, I chose the eagerly anticipated Blade, notable in that it’s the first mega-blockbuster based on a Marvel comics character.

For those who don’t know yet, Wesley Snipes plays Blade. Blade’s mother was bitten by a vampire mere minutes before she gave birth to Blade, and this did something really funky to our hero. He’s now a half-human/half-vampire being, giving him all the powers of a vampire but none of their weaknesses. He was raised by Whistler (Kristopherson) to become the ultimate vampire slayer, and they now battle the ruthless beings of the night. They are joined in the movie by Karen (Wright), a hematologist who has been bitten by a vampire and now searches for a cure before she turns. The villain of the piece is Deacon Frost (Dorff), the vampire who bit Blade’s mother. But our heroes must hurry, for Frost is about to gain ultimate power and go on a blood-thirsty quest for world domination

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This film just plain rocks! Blade is a man who has devoted his whole life to his mission, becoming an ultimate weapon in the battle against evil. Frost comes across as a truly evil man who is just a little on the insane evil. Like every good villain, he enjoys being evil. The martial arts sequences and sword-fights are just mindblowing! This film has such a power and intensity to it that it’s almost impossible to hate. I will warn you, it gets a little gory in the vampire death department, but besides that, this film is highly recommended.

3.5 Nibs

Movie Review – BASEketball

BASEketball

Directed by David Zucker

Starring Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Yasmine Bleeth, Jenny McCarthy, Robert Vaughn, and Ernest Borgnine

I’m sure we’ve all heard the credentials for this movie by now: “From the director of The Naked Gun and starring the creators of South Park.” Being a fan of both, this movie instantly made my “must-see” list of movies for the summer. And let me say, this is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long time.

The plot is simple enough: Coop and Reemer (Parker and Stone, respectively) are two lovable, goofy slackers. In their driveway, they invent a game called BASEketball (a nifty blend of basketball and baseball). The game is an instant hit with the whole neighborhood! Enter a Texas millionaire (Borgnine), and soon the National BASEketball League is formed, with Coop and Reemer star players, and the game sweeps the nation! Unfortunately, our Texas millionaire dies, leaving it to Coop and Reemer to keep the sport pure (in the NBL, it is illegal to trade players, move teams, and have players endorse products). Enter the villains (Vaughn, McCarthy) who want to change these rules and drive Coop and Reemer apart. Yasmine Bleeth plays the head of the Dream Come True Foundation, and Coop’s girlfriend.

That’s the plot. This movie is so funny, at times I was laughing so hard I was crying! As it is with comedies of this kind, though, there aren’t enough jokes to keep you laughing straight from beginning to end, but there are enough. Great set-pieces are the locker room scene, the entire opening shot, and the championship game. But, the best is when our heros go to the hospital to cheer up one of the sick and injured kids in the Dream Come True Foundation. Who knew those heart-paddle thingies could put out that much voltage? This movie is funny, period. Oh, and those lingerie clad cheerleaders aren’t bad either.

3 Nibs

Movie Review – Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, and Tom Sizemore

When every other movie critic started calling this the greatest war movie ever made, that was the first indication that I had to go see this. Secondly, it’s Spielberg, the one whom many have declared the modern day God of movies. Thirdly, Tom Hanks, who is currently revered as the greatest actor of our time. Mix all these elements together, throw in Matt Damon for the pre-teen girls, and you get Saving Private Ryan.

For those who’ve been living in a cave and this is the first website you’ve been to, the plot is a little something like this: shortly after the D-Day invasion, it’s discovered that three of the four Ryan boys have been killed in action. The fourth, James Ryan (Damon) was a paratrooper who was last seen somewhere behind enemy lines. So, the Chief of Staff gives the order that the last Ryan boy is to be brought home to his mother. Enter Capt. John Miller (Hanks), who is selected to lead a squad of men behind enemy lines to find Ryan and take him home. What follows is a trek through the German-occupied French countryside in which the squad questions the logic of risking eight people for one. And when Ryan is found, he refuses to leave his post until his mission is complete.

This is one of the best movies ever made. The opening sequence, recreating the D-Day invasion, is amazing and sure to go down in movie history. In fact, every battle scene in the movie seems frighteningly real. Hanks gives another Oscar-worthy performance as a private man trying to cope with his surroundings. There are no appropriate words I can think of to describe this film. It is an experience, in every sense of the word. Spielberg once again shows why he is a God. Believe me, it will be remembered come Oscar time. Go see it while you can.

5 Nibs

Movie Review – The Mask of Zorro

The Mask of Zorro

Starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stuart Wilson

Directed by Martin Campbell

Who doesn’t like Zorro? An acknowledged inspiration for Batman, this is one of the first, true super-heros. So, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to do a 90’s version of his tale. And, you can tell when the summer is dragging on when your Dad wants to go see a summer blockbuster. My Dad couldn’t wait to see Mask of Zorro with me.

The movie opens with the old Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) going on one last ride. At the end of this ride, Zorro is arrested, his wife is killed, and his only daughter is kidnaped by his old enemy, the Don Raphael (Stuart Wilson). Fast forward 20 years. Old Zorro escapes from prison. Raphael returns to California with a diabolical plot: buy California from Santa Anna using gold from a mine filled with wrongly imprisoned innocents. Along the way, we meet Andreas Muenerto (Antonio Banderas), whose only brother was killed by the head of Raphael’s army. With the old Zorro wanting revenge on Raphael, and Andreas wanting revenge for his brother’s death, they team up to turn Andreas into the new Zorro. Along the way, new Zorro falls in love with old Zorro’s daughter (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whom Raphael has raised as his own.

The Mask of Zorro is one of the best movies this summer. Filled with one great sword fight after another, and brimming with stunts, this is one fast-paced, exciting film. It’s two hours long, but seems a lot shorter. Also, this film is a lot funnier than you’d expect. It has a great sense of humor about it. For example, Andreas may pick up on the swordsmanship of Zorro, but he just can’t ride his horse! And an exciting climax, taking place at the mine, where both old and new Zorros finally have their revenge. If you like any kind of action film, then you must see this! My personal favorite scene: when the new Zorro uses his newly learned abilities to go get himself a horse. It’s funny, action-packed, and a just a good time.

4 Nibs

Movie Review – Armageddon

Armageddon

Starring: Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, and one huge Asteroid

Directed by Michael Bay

Bear with me. It’s been more than a month since I’ve seen this film, so I have to struggle to remember details. It was a couple days after my birthday. There I was in the darkened theater. It was your typical weekday matinee. Only about 6 people. And all I knew about this film was that Entertainment Tonight predicted it to be the big #1 movie of the summer. And, being a devout physics student, I had to see if half of these scientific inaccuracies were true.

I’m sure we all know the plot by now. An asteroid the size of Texas is heading towards earth, and NASA’s solution is to send a crew of deep drillers to land on the asteroid, drill to it’s center, and plant a nuclear bomb to split the asteroid in two. Bruce Willis plays the leader of the top drilling team in the world. Ben Affleck is his right-hand-man/protégé. Liv Tyler is Bruce’s daughter, whom Ben has the hots for. We follow these guys from when they learn they are the world’s last hope, through their training, to those last hurried minutes on the surface of the asteroid. There’s the tension between Bruce and Ben because Bruce doesn’t want Ben dating Liv. And I’ll tell you, as a physics student, I was so caught up in the plot I didn’t care about the scientific inaccuracies.

This movie just plain kicks butt in all respects! The special effects rock! The score is rocking! And it’s from the people who gave us The Rock and Con Air, so you know it will deliver. Bruce Willis has always been the action hero in my books ever since I first saw Die Hard. I mean, this movie even has a plot. You’ll even get misty-eyed when one of our heros has to make that heroic sacrifice. I loved it just as much as I loved Godzilla. This is one summer blockbuster that is guaranteed not to disappoint. Go see it today!

4 Nibs

Movie Review – The X-Files

The X-Files

Directed by Rob Bowman

Starring David Duchovney, Gillian Anderson, Martin Landau

OK, I was a little worried going into this film. Although I am an X-Phile, I had fallen behind on keeping up with the conspiracy. But, be aware, that this film does cover its bases pretty well, and I wasn’t that lost. Like Godzilla, this was a movie I was looking forward to ever since I saw those first trailers a few months ago. And when rumors started flying of Scully doing a topless scene, well then I knew I had to be there!

The film, picking up where this season’s finale left off, has Mulder and Scully searching for a bomb in Dallas, seeing as to how the X-Files have been destroyed. The bomb naturally goes off, and now we find Scully and Mulder under investigation for not finding it in time. While drowning his sorrows in a bar, Mulder meets Dr. Alan Kutsweil (Landau), who reveals that the bomb was part of Mulder’s conspiracy. And thus the race for the truth begins. Now, being a fan of the TV show, I knew I was instantly going to like this film. My only fears were that it was going to be like Star Trek: Generations. Sure, it was movie, but it felt like just a two-parter. The X-Files was not like that. It managed to pull off being a big screen epic. And true, not all of our questions about the conspiracy are answered. But hey, they had to save something for next season, right?

So, what questions are answered? We know what the bees are for. We know how the black ooze fits in. We find out a little more about the Syndicate’s Agenda. We don’t find out where Mulder’s sister is. Do Mulder and Scully kiss? Hey, if you haven’t seen it, I’m not telling! And the final confrontation at the alien fortress in Antarctica is spectacular! There have been some complaints about the animatronic alien, but he stays in the shadows most of the time. I just hope that they can keep this momentum going all next season! Oh, and Scully doesn’t have a topless scene.

3.5 Nibs

Movie Review – Mulan

Mulan

Starring the voice of Ming-Na Wen, B.D. Wong, Eddie Murphy, Miguel Ferrer and Pat Morita

Directed by Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft

This film was my annual birthday film. I see a movie every year on my birthday, and this year I picked Mulan. You’ve got to love the Disney animated film. They represent the idealization of society! Every woman is babe, every man is a hunk, and everyone has a goofy sidekick! You instantly know who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy. I mean, if I could live in any fantasy world I would pick Disney animated movies.

I will admit, I was a little worried when I first heard of the plot of Mulan. A woman who disguises herself as a man so she can join the army. Therefore, her ailing father won’t have to. How could this be a musical? Well, Disney pulls their usual charm, and it is indeed a musical. When we first meet Mulan, she’s getting ready to go meet the village matchmaker, and she soon discovers she wants much more to life than simply being a wife. When Shan-Yu and the Huns breach the great wall, the call goes out for one man from each family to join the army. Mulan has no brothers, so her ailing father joins, and so then she disguises herself as a man and takes off to join the army! In order to look out for Mulan, her ancestors send Mushu, a midget dragon who can be a full-blown guardian again if he brings Mulan home alive. Oh, and somewhere along the way Mulan falls in love with her captain, Shang.

That’s pretty much the plot. As with the ususal Disney animated film, the animation is beautiful! The songs, well, they aren’t as good as they could have been. Disney has had trouble doing a decent soundtrack since The Lion King. Mushu, however, with the voice of Eddie Murphy, is the funniest sidekick since the Genie in Aladdin. Every scene he’s in will have you laughing out loud. The best scene, however, is this skinny-dipping scene where Mulan tries to disguise her womanhood while swimming with three other soldiers! The only drawback to this film is the songs. Why can’t Disney have the courage to do a non-musical? But hey, I bought the soundtrack, so I should quit whining. It is Disney’s best animated film since Lion King.

3.5 Nibs