Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Movie Review – Pokémon the Movie 2000

Pokémon the Movie 2000

Directed by Kunohiko Yuyama; English translation directed by Michael Haigney.

Starring the voices of Veronica Taylor, Rachael Lillis, Eric Stuart, Addie Blaustein, and Phillip Bartlett.

When I reviewed Pokémon: the First Movie, I couldn’t help but make comparisons to Transformers: The Movie. Well, all those little Poke-freaks got something we TransFans never did: a sequel. And this time, I decided to pay the full $7 to see it at Silver City.

Like The First Movie, it’s a double feature of sorts. It starts off with Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure, in which Pikachu, Togepi, and the gang tumble into a hidden valley populated with nothing but pokémon, and have a day of fun trying to get out. Then, our main feature starts: Pokemon: The Power Of One. We are introduced to Jirarudan, a pokémon collector with a devious scheme. When the three titans of fire, ice, and lightning are brought together, they will have the pokémon battle to end all battles. And I mean it, their battle will end the world! Fortunately, it is prophecised that Lugia, the titan of water, will rise to quell the fighting, but will only succeed with the help of a chosen one. Jirarudan seeks to capture Lugia to complete his collection. Enter our heroes, Ash, Misty and Tracey. With their new friend Melody, they seek to stop Jirarudan and stop the fighting. And did I mention that Melody openly hits on Ash, much to Misty’s chagrin? Well, she does. Is Ash the chosen one? Can he complete the quest required to help Lugia? Will Misty admit to her true feelings for Ash? Will Team Rocket renounce their evil ways and help to save the world?

Ultimately, two things make this better than The First Movie. 1) It’s not preachy at the end. 2) No sickeningly sweet pop songs underscoring the climax. A lot more of the Pokemon universe has been revealed, so the American translators feel more comfortable making a few in-jokes for fans. Hell, those cards that kids collect even figure into the plot! It has a stronger story than the first, and feels free to take a more jokey attitude. While not destined to be a classic, it’s a treat for fans. And I said this with The First Movie, and I’ll say it again: anime just looks good on a big screen

One final note: I’ve seen X-Men twice, and failed to spot Colossus. I’ve seen Pokémon 2 only once, but managed to spot all 3 of Brock’s cameos!

3 Nibs (although its somewhat biased)

Movie Review – X-Men

X-Men

Directed by Bryan Singer

Starring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, James Marsden, Famke Jannsen, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ian McKellin, Tyler Mane, Ray Park, Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, and Bruce Davison.

It seems, that for the past few years, there has been one summer blockbuster that I await with baited breath. In ’97, it was Batman & Robin (please forgive me). ’99 brought about a near-obsession with Episode I. And now, at the dawn of a new millenium, we have X-Men. I wasn’t too familiar with the X-Men. My only knowledge comes from the cartoon and Cole’s-notes-style breakdowns of major storylines told to me by my friend Kenten. But still, it was enough for me to be primed, and hopefully be enough to erase my guilt over having looked forward to Batman & Robin that eagerly.

In the not to distant future (dontcha just love that setting?) people are born with mutations, giving them super-powers. One such individual is Rouge (Paquin), a teen girl with the ability to suck the life force out of people. When she discovers this power, she runs off to Northern Alberta, where she encounters one of the most well-known mutants in the X-universe, Wolverine (Jackman). Wolverine’s powers are a hightened healing factor (wounds heal instantly), hightened senses, a skeleton laced with the world’s hardest metal, and foot-long claws that pop out of his fists. Soon, these two are brought into the world of Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart), who trains mutants to use their powers, and help humankind adjust to these evolved humans. Among the Professor’s team: Cyclops (Marsden), who shoots energy beams out his eyes, Jean Grey (Jennsen), who’s telekinetic and telepathic, and Storm (Berry) who can control the weather. Soon, this team has to be roused to stop Magneto (McKellan) and his “brotherhood:” Toad (Park), who hops around and has a really long tounge, Sabertooth (Mane), who’s 8 feet tall, cat-like, and nothing but muscle, and Mystique (Romjin-Stamos), a shapeshifter who can look like anyone. Magneto had a diabolical plot afoot to turn all the humans in the world into mutants, and thus force everyone to be treated the same. Can the X-Men stop him? Will Wolverine be able to learn his past? Can they work together as a team?

This movie ROCKS!! Australian actor Jackman, making his North American debut, just completely fills the role of Wolverine. When he makes his appearance, he IS Wolverine. Marsden makes a pretty good Cyclops, and I kinda wish we got to see more of him. Stewart just fills the role of the Professor perfectly, and Paquin brings to life the appropriate fear that a person would have when they learn they can suck the life force out of someone. McKellan is great. Magneto is not really a villain, but an ends-justifies-the-means kind of guy. He wants equality now, and will kill for it. Great doses of action, humor, and even a quick mention to home, makes this the perfect summer blockbuster. While not completely perfect, it’s the best there is right now.

3.5 Nibs

Movie Review – The Perfect Storm

The Perfect Storm

Directed by Wolfgang Peterson

Starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, Karen Allen, William Fichtner, Bob Gunton, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

I will confess, I had zero expectations towards The Perfect Storm. The TV spots weren’t grabbing me, and most descriptions I read online made it sound like some kind of lame Titanic wannabe. I was going to skip over it completely this summer, but I’ve seen a few other blockbusters now, and the trailer for The Perfect Storm seemed to be in front of each one. The trailers made it look better than the TV spots, and so I took a “what the hey? I’ll see it” attitude towards it.

Capt. Billy Tyne (Clooney) is the captain of the Andrea Gail, a swordfish boat, and he’s hit the biggest slump of his career. The fish just aren’t biting for him, and the season is coming to a close. His crew, led by a rookie (Wahlberg) is starting to lose faith in their captain. Things just aren’t good for this crew. Out of desperation, Tyne takes his boat out one last time, knowing that the fish are out there, and that this time they’ll bite for him. He takes the boat further out than ever before, and he hits paydirt. They get a hold full of fish, but their ice machine is broke. They’ve got to get home, and quick. It’ll mean plowing through a hurricane, but they’ll do it. But, unbeknownst to them, the hurricane has escalated into a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon known as a “perfect storm.” Can the crew survive this perfect storm? Will the rookie get back home to his girl, who’s weathering the storm at home? Will the coast guard rescue the crew in time?

This is just one damn good movie. I don’t know what life on a real fishing boat is like, but if it’s anything like this, sign me up. The crew are just a bunch of average folks, and reminded me of my time on a gravel crusher all those summers ago. All the advertising seems to be leaving out the sub-plot about the Coast Guard’s search, which is just as good as the main plot. Mastrantonio adds just the right touch as the captain of a rival boat, and a love interest for Clooney. The special effects are just amazing. We get to see cargo ships and supertankers trying to weather the storm. And the ending! It actually made me cry. A few minor quibbles (the score was done by the same guy who did the music for Titanic, and at times it sounds like Titanic leftovers), but don’t let that stop you. SEE THIS MOVIE!

3.5 Nibs

Movie Review – The Patriot

The Patriot

Directed by Roland Emmerich



Starring Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs, Chris Cooper, Tchéky Karyo, and Rene Auberjonois.



“From the creators of Independence Day…. No words in a coming attraction seem to stir my blood more. ID4 still ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite movies. I think I’m the only person on the planet who’ll defend Godzilla. So, when I read that “the creators of Independence Day were teaming-up with the guy who wrote Saving Private Ryan to do an epic about the American Revolution, I could hardly wait. When I was in the theater to see The Patriot, and the lights dimmed, I said to myself, “OK, Roland. Justify my love!”


Mel Gibson is Benjamin Martin, a former soldier who has done terrible things in his past. But, he’s retired now, and focusing on raising his seven children, and tending to his farm. He’s trying to put his past behind him, and move on with his life. But, things are never as easy as they seem. The year is 1776, and the American colonies have just declared their independence. A revolution is brewing, and Martin wants no part of it. But his eldest son Gabriel (Ledger) believes it’s a cause worth fighting for, and joins the militia against his father’s wishes. A few months pass, and soon the war is literally taking place in Martin’s backyard. His second-eldest son is murdered by the cruel Col. Tavington (Issacs) of the Green Dragoons, and Martin is just royaly pissed off. Martin then joins the militia for two reasons: vengeance for his second-eldest son, and to watch over Gabriel. Oh, and along the way, he falls for the sister of his deceesed wife (Richardson), who’s watching over the rest of his kids. Will Martin learn that there is more to this war than vengeance? Will he come home alive?



I know a lot of people who hated ID4 for its blatent Americanism. Well, that team has managed to create a movie that’s even more rah-rah for the red, white and blue. But then, it’s their revolution, so what did you expect? Emmerich proves once again that his forte is with the big explosions and action scenes. The sweeping vistas of battleships in harbours and the battle scenes are breath-taking, but the human stories in between just seem to be lacking something. Mel, as always, is Mel, and manages even to get in some good comic scenes, but there’s nothing specatcular about his performance. But, I do like Rene Auberjonois (Odo on Deep Space Nine), and he pops up in a small role as a preacher. Who knows? Maybe I’ve grown up, but the creators of Independence Day haven’t. Ultimatley, I have the same complaint about this film that I had about Titan A.E.: it’s good, but I so wanted it to be great.

2.5 Nibs

Movie Review – Chicken Run

Chicken Run

Directed by Nick Park and Peter Lord.

Starring the voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Miranda Richardson, Jane Horrocks, and Benjamin Whitrow.

I’ve always been a fan of stop motion animation and it’s sibling, claymation. With the rush to computer animation going on, it’s a medium that’s starting to get overlooked. That’s why I thought it was cool when I first heard about Chicken Run. Here, in this world of CGI shiny things, was a good old fashioned claymation film.

Things aren’t going that well for Ginger (Sawalha). She’s a chicken, and all her life she’s known nothing but imprisonment on Tweedy’s Chicken Farm. She longs for freedom, and dreams of what’s over that hill on the horizon. Sure, she could escape, but she fears what will happen to her fellow chickens who would get left behind: scatterbrained Babs (Horrocks), Scottish engineer Mac, old rooster/soldier Fowler (Whitrow), and all the others. So, all her escape plans involve everyone escaping. Things soon start to seem futile, but then Rocky the Flying Rooster (Gibson) drops in from the sky. Since he’s billed as the flying rooster, it seems that salvation is at hand: he can teach everyone to fly over the fence. Soon, it becomes a race against time. Mrs. Tweedy (Richardson) is frustrated over the dropping price of eggs, and wants to switch to producing the more profitable chicken pies. She has even begun building the pie-making machine. Can Rocky and Ginger save all the chickens before they all become pies?

Only one word describes this film: cute. The entire design of the chicken farm is meant to resemble a World War II POW camp, and there are lots of subtle references to POW films. Even the music is meant to conjure up memories of those films. Gibson does great as the cocky American rooster, and even manages to slip in a subtle reference to Braveheart. The film was mostly made in England, so you’ll find that dry, British wit underlying the whole movie. With cute characters, funny jokes, and a great reference to Star Trek at the climax, it’s hard to hate this film. Truly an animation treat this summer.

3 Nibs

Movie Review – Shaft

Shaft

Directed by John Singleton

Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Christian Bale, Jeffery Wright, Vanessa Williams, Toni Collette, and Richard Roundtree.

Another year older, another year wiser, and another traditional birthday movie. When it comes to the big-time action films of this summer, two were kind of sticking out: Gone In 60 Seconds, and Shaft. Shaft just seemed so much more…cool to me that I knew I had to see it. So, when asked what film to see on my birthday, I ran through the list of what’s been out the longest that I still want to see, and Shaft was at the top of the list. I had a hunch that even my Dad would like, being the kind of old-fashioned detective movie (i.e. Dirty Harry) that he grew up with.


Samuel L. Jackson plays Det. John Shaft, one of the finest on the NYPD. One wintry Christmas, he’s called out to investigate the murder of young black kid by a racist punk/spoiled white kid Walter Wade (Bale). Wade makes bail and skips the country for two long years, while Shaft waits for him to return. When Wade does return, Shaft promptly arrests him and hauls him downtown, where Wade meets up with Peoples Hernandez (Wright), a small-time drug dealer and another nemesis of Shaft’s. When Wade makes bail again, Shaft quits the force in disgust to go after Wade “his own way.” There is one way to bring in Wade once and for all: waitress Diane Palmieri (Collette) saw the whole thing, and only her testimony can put away Wade. But, she was frightened into submission and has been in hiding for the last two years. Wade, then, soon pays of Hernandez to silence Diane permanently, and the race is on between Shaft and Hernandez to find Diane. Of course, Shaft gets help from his former parner, Carmen Vasquez (Williams), and his uncle, the original Shaft (Roundtree).

This movie is…cool. Jackson, as Shaft, just oozes the kind of coolness required for a man to be on the lone pursuit of justice. We’ve got the right blend of typical action-hero one-liners and just plain attitude that makes a great action hero. And I feel that my plot summary does a dis-service to the villain of Hernandez. Hernandez is just so slimy and evil, that when Wade does deal with him, it’s essentially a deal with the devil. For most of the film, it is Hernandez who is the villain, and he’s so good at it. And the film is just so fast-moving! I hardly realized that the whole hour and 45 minutes had gone by! All in all, a very cool summer flick. (And if I say cool one more time, you can do ungodly things to me.)

3 Nibs

Movie Review – Titan A.E.

Titan A.E.

Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman

Starring the voices of Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, Nathan Lane, John Leguazamo, and Jeannine Garofalo.

I’m sure, that like myself, your first exposure to Titan A.E. came during Episode I. Titan A.E. was lucky enough to have it’s teaser attached to Episode I. When we heard Matt Damon’s voice talking about how man had conquered space, and then the animation of Earth being destoyed, we all scratched our heads and went “What the hell was that?” Well, here we are, a year later, and we get to find out.

It’s the dawn of the 31st Century. Earth has been destroyed by an alien race called the Drej, because the Drej determined that humans were on the verge of becoming a threat. The surviving humans now live in giant starships called drifter colonies, are treated like second class citizens of the galaxy, and being hunted by the Drej. We soon meet Cale (Damon). He’s a young, rebellious sort, working in a salvage yard and thinking that there’s not much more to life. But he soon meets a space pirate by the name of Korso (Pullman), who needs Cale. Seems that Cale’s father was in charge of the Titan project, something which could save the human race. Only Cale’s genetic code can read the map to where his father hid the Titan. So, Cale joins Korso’s crew: babealicious pilot Akima (Barrymore), slimy navigator Preed (Lane), nerdy engineer Gune (Leguizamo), and weapons expert Stith (Garofalo), who gets just a touch of the bloodlust in battle. With the Drej hot in pursuit, they go off to find the Titan! Can they do it? Or is there a betrayer in their midst?

This film is something I’ve wanted to see American animators attempt: a hard-core sci-fi. For the most part, it succeeds. There’s this scene on a planet with hydrogen trees, and bat-like aliens that could only be pulled off in a live-action film with a gazilion dollars. And, there’s this game of cat-and-mouse in a planet’s ice rings, which is just beautifully animated. And I must give kudos to Nathan Lane. He’s played a lot of “flamboyant” characters, and he surprised me here by convincingly voicing a slimeball. But…. I found that the characters seemed a little hollow. When the betrayer is revealed, it just kind of came out of left field. The Iron Giant has become the gold standard for which I rate animated films, and compared with that, Titan A.E. just left me wanting more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but I so wanted it to be great. Oh, and I love that final joke.

2.5 Nibs

Movie Review – Mission: Impossible II

Mission: Impossible II

Directed by John Woo

Starring Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Ving Rhames, Richard Roxburgh, and John Polson.

Way back in the summer of 1996, Mission: Impossible was one of the big blockbusters I wanted to see. But, sadly, I did not get to go see it. So, when it came out on video at Christmas 1996, I ran out and rented it. I returned to the floor lounge to find that the woman who hated me, Tara, had already laid claim to the TV and VCR. I begged her to let me watch it, and she said “Oh, like you’ve been dying to see it.” And I said “Actually, yes I have.” And she finally let me watch it. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through that much trouble to see the sequel.

Since a lot of people didn’t understand the plot of the first one, they decided to keep things nice and simple for the sequel. Sean Ambrose (Scott) is an IMF agent who’s gone rouge, and has stolen for himself the world’s most potent virus and it’s antidote, called Chimera and Belleraphon respectively. Ethan Hunt’s (Cruise) mission, if he chooses to accept it, is to get the virus and antidote back. To do this mission, he must first recruit Nyah (Newton), a jewel theif and former love of Sean’s. They hope that she can use her former relationship to infiltrate Sean’s gang. Padding out the team with computer expert Luther Stickwell (Rhames) and pilot Billy Baird (Polson), they go off to save the world! But, complications ensue when Ethan and Nyah fall in love. Can he complete the mission without putting her at risk?

John Woo is one of those directors with a distinct style. The dramatic slo-mo close ups, people letting loose with a gun in each hand, that kind of stuff. That style definatley adds to the film. This movie is all about the stunts. From Ethan’s rock climbing at the start, to the climactic motorcycle chase, it just doesn’t let up. Scott makes an excellent villain, and now I see why he was the original choice to play Wolverine. Cruise, of course, is Cruise. This is just a great way to spend 2.5 hours in an air-conditioned theater. But, if you’re forced to see it on video, I’ll understand.

One last thing that’s annoying me about other reviews for this film. Everyone’s saying it was written by Robert Towne. But, there were two other writers on this film: Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga. Why are they being left out? Because the only other thing they did before this was Star Trek. So do me a favour. When you see this, cheer when their names come on screen.

3.5 Nibs

Movie Review – Dinosaur

Dinosaur

Directed by Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton

Starring the voices of D.B. Sweeney, Julianna Margulies, Samuel E. Wright, Ozzie Davis, Alfrie Woodard, Della Reese, Max Cassela, and Joan Plowright.

You’ve got to hand it to Disney. Not content to let Pixar make animated movies for them, they had to go and make their own 100% computer animated film. What’s confused me though is, is Dinosaur really an animated film? I mean, the dinosaurs are animated, but all the backgrounds are real. So, is it animated, or special effects? I let you debate that while you read the review.

A long, long, time ago, the egg of a baby iguanadon was taken from its nest, and this baby was raised by a family of lemurs (voices of Woodard, Davis, and Cassela). This baby grows up to become Aladar (voice of Sweeney), a happy, laid back iguanadon. But soon, tragedy strikes. The first of those planet killers strikes, and the island that Aladar and the lemurs call home is wiped out. After treking through the mainland desert, they soon encounter a herd of dinosaurs of all kinds. It’s rumored that the breeding grounds are still untouched, and that they may find refuge there. Aladar and the lemurs soon befriend Eesa (Reese), a triceratops, and Baylene (Plowright), a brachiosaur. They are old, and bringing up the rear. Kron (Wright) who’s leading the herd, is a vicious dictator. His word is law, and if the weak can’t keep up, then their bones will feed the predators stalking them. Aladar’s work-together mentality doesn’t mesh with Kron’s survival-of-the- strongest, and they don’t like each other. Things even get more complicated when Aladar falls in love with Neera (Margulies), Kron’s sister. Can the herd outrun the carnotaurs to the breeding grounds? Will Kron’s attitude kill them all? Or will Aladar be able to save them all?

One thing’s for sure, the animated dinosaurs are good. I wouldn’t say “10 times better than the ones in Jurassic Park“, but just a smidge better. And at least they didn’t go with the Jurassic Park standard villains: velaciraptors and t-rexes. No, here we get carnotaurs. Think a smaller T-Rex with horns. At first, the mesh of real backgrounds and animated dinosaurs is a bit distracting, but it becomes less noticable as the movie goes on. The characters are good, if a little typical of Disney. And the story’s familiar, if you’ve ever seen The Land Before Time or read the Bible. But all in all, it’s a fairly entertaining film. Check it out.

3 Nibs

Movie Review – Gladiator

Gladiator

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Russel Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, and Richard Harris.

Now that I have a job, and tend to get just about every Thursday off, I figure it was time to do one of my double-feature days. And what better way to kick off this summer of double-features than with the first big summer blockbuster, Gladiator?

Maximus (Crowe) is the best general in the Roman Empire. But, he is also a man of simple tastes. He longs for his tour of duty to end so he can return home to his wife and son. But, things don’t go as planned. Marcus Aurelius (Harris), ruler of the empire, is dying. His son Commodus (Phoenix) is too corrupt, so he asks Maximus to make sure that rule is restored to the senate in a safe and orderly fashion. Commodus doesn’t like this idea one bit, so Commodus murders his father, and then orders the death of Maximus and his family. Maximus escapes, but is too late to save his family. He is soon picked up by wanderers, and sold as a slave to Proximo (Reed), who seeks to train Maximus as a gladiator. Maximus soon rises to be the best, and with the help of Commodus’ sister, Lucilla (Nielsen), soon seeks to gain vengeance for his family, and fulfill the final wish of Marcus Aurelius.

This movie is pretty good. The battle scenes are some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen (and definitely some of the bloodiest). Even the special effects are amazing! There’s this one shot of ancient Rome that looks like they actually flew a helicopter over ancient Rome to get it! Crowe, as Maximus, is everything a hero should be: devoted to his cause and family, and always fighting for what’s right. Phoenix makes Commodus a particularly slimy villain, one who’ll scheme and plot and just do whatever it takes to get the throne. All in all, a great way to start the summer.

3 Nibs