High Crimes

High Crimes stars Ashley Judd as Claire Kubik, an uber lawyer who finds herself having to defend her husband Tom, played by James Caviezel, also known as Jesus, in a military court after he is arrested for murder and found to be living under a false identity. Kubik has to recruit the help of Charlie Grimes, played by Morgan Freeman, to aid with the court marshal defense due to her inexperience with the different world of military courts. Conveniently enough, all material witnesses seem to have died, and the official defense lawyer for her husband is an inept twit freshly freed of his umbilical cord. From the onset, it appears that Claire’s husband’s fate has already been sealed. Continue reading “High Crimes”

Hostage

Hostage is about Jeff Talley, a former S.W.A.T. leader and hostage negotiator with the Los Angeles Police Department turned small town cop after a job goes bad. If you are making a film about a cop who is down on their luck, who has to star in your movie? That’s right, Bruce Willis, and that is just the case here. So sergeant John McClane, er I mean Jeff Talley, takes a position as Chief of a small uppity low crime California city. During a routine “low crime Monday” a trio kids from out of town decide to break into local rich man Walter Smith’s house to steal his car. Of course the kids are inept, the silent alarm goes off and the cops show up. Being inept white trash, they take the family hostage and the loose cannon of the three kills the first cop on the scene. Enter John McClain, er Jeff Talley. As a down on his luck cop with a failing marriage and a kid who hates him, Talley is quick to push the hostage situation onto the local Sheriff’s department since his department would have a hard time taking down a donut shop. Now what no one realizes is that Walter Smith is an accountant for the mob, and is scheduled to make a delivery to them later that night. The mob, apparently not having any stroke with the local sheriff decides to take Talley’s family hostage and force him to save the Smith family following their rules to save his own family.

If that sounds overly complicated, that’s the case because, well it is! The setup for this movie is overly drawn out and yet completely obvious at the same time. Ironically enough, with all the setup this movie has to go through, the resolution just falls flat. McClain, er Tally, saves both the Smith family and his own, but does so in his own rebellious super cop way. We’re also to assume he re-finds the passion or drive as a cop that he once had while working for the L.A.P.D. If you think that is a spoiler, you are an idiot because you could have gotten that out of using a little common sense and reading the back of the DVD.

This movie is based on a novel by Robert Crais that I haven’t read and probably never will. One thing of note about this fairly unremarkable movie is the opening credits. Maybe the credit style was true to elements of the book, or maybe they were suffering from a lack of originality. If you were watching the opening credits, you might think you were watching a far superior movie where Bruce Willis plays another down on his luck cop, Sin City. While the opening credits / title sequence wasn’t a direct rip off, it certainly felt very reminiscent. This problem is only exacerbated by the fact that the very first thing you see when you pop this disc in your DVD player is a preview for the DVD of Sin City. Go figure.

If you like Bruce Willis or just want to watch a fairly run of the mill action flick and have a couple of hours to really suspend your disbelief, check this movie out. Or maybe you could grab Die Hard, The Last Boy Scout, and Striking Distance, put them in a disc changer, hit shuffle and call it good enough – because you probably won’t see anything you haven’t already seen before – except maybe Bruce Willis with a shaggy beard for the first five minutes of the film. Worth a rent, sure – worth buying? Well, it’s better than Hudson Hawk.

D.E.B.S.

D.E.B.S. is about a quartet of schoolgirls who double as government agents, picked by their performance on a test hidden inside the S.A.T.s. It is also based on a comic of some sort that I have never seen and kind of a spoof on the whole Charlie’s Angels thing. The D.E.B.S. are Amy, Max, Dominique and Janet, fairly typical school girls worried about love and school only they are also highly trained government agent crime fighters. Their nemesis is Lucy Diamond (aah, ahh…), who appears to only be interested in finding love and not the conquering and plundering she is known for. While the D.E.B.S. are spying on Lucy, things get a little crazy and Amy and Lucy end up meeting. Lucy and Amy end up falling for each other and find themselves divided in a Romeo and Juliet way, only they’re both girls. Continue reading “D.E.B.S.”

A Dirty Shame

A Dirty Shame is about a Baltimore, MD neighborhood whose residents are divided into two separate groups. On one side, you have the Neuters, who are all about decency and are disgusted at the depravity going on in the streets. On the other side, you have the concussed sex addicts, all of whom have suffered head injury and just want to be free with their sexual desires. One small family finds itself split across both sides. With a plot like that, it should be no surprise the original cut of the movie was rated NC-17. The movie gets going pretty quickly, Tracy Ullman’s character Sylvia suffers an accidental bump to the head, and Johnny Knoxville’s character Ray Ray is there to release her inner sexual desires. With all this, she finds a way to relate to her daughter Caprice/Ursula Udders (I can’t make this shit up) played by Selma Blair – who is probably one of the few actresses bad enough to pull this role off right. This happens all while Sylvia’s own mother, Big Ethel, is the leader of the Neuters and is leading the crusade of morality.

The movie starts off like it has a direction. There are some amusing parallels between the neuters and the addicts and other groups divided over controversial topics, but it really fails to capitalize on that for either any point of the movie or even a laugh. While there are plenty of memorable quotes in this movie, many of which might get you banned from various public establishments if they had any idea of what you were talking about, but that is about it. The movie hits its peak at about an hour in and then just sort of drags on to the end. The movie ends with no real resolution nor satisfaction for the viewer. I guess the addicts win and get to go on freeing the world or something, or they just sit in a big pile and hump each other. I don’t think it really matters anyway. Continue reading “A Dirty Shame”

Ultraviolet (TV Series)

If you only watch U.S. television you will likely miss some great shows from the U.K. and other countries. Ultraviolet is one of those excellent TV series from outside the United States. This British mini-series is about vampires, but it has class, mystery, and style many other vampire stories lack. You will never hear the word “vampire” in the series which helps the viewer avoid creating certain expectations and assumptions about the content of the show. Read more to read the whole review.

Set in modern day England, the audience is dropped into a world where a special branch of government is in a constant battle with Code V’s, or vampires. The story follows Jack Davenport who is being recruited by both sides in the war. Vampires are worried the human race will destroy itself which would eliminate their food supply, and the humans do not want to be ruled by vampires, but everything it not as simple as that. The vampires are sometimes smart, cunning, even charming and at times the Special Branch officers are violent, rash, and destructive causing both Jack Davenport, and the audience to wonder which side they really should support.

The six part series not only brings new ideas to the table about vampires, but also challenges the viewer to really think about the code V’s as another race instead of immediately attaching the label of demonic soulless creatures set on destroying the world. The filmmakers make sure most things cannot be taken at face value, making for a great mystery and stylish vampire story not seen before.

Birth

Birth, starring Nicole Kidman, fails to deliver a cohesive movie to its audience. The idea is an interesting one and probably the reason most people watched the film. After losing her husband ten years ago, Anna (Kidman) plans to remarry. She begins to have doubts when a ten-year-old boy appears, claiming to be her dead husband. While this is a promising start to the movie, it quickly slows to an unbearable pace and at some points, nearly stops. Continue reading “Birth”

Space Cowboys

Academy Award winning director Clint Eastwood stars and directs the ultimate cast of Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, James Garner, and James Cromwell! This space adventure is sure to please all ages while infusing patriotism and American pride into all that watch.

At least, that is what some critics think.

A big, star-studded cast does not make a great movie (as proven by Batman and Robin) and Space Cowboys helps to reinforce that statement.

I know this movie was released in 2000, but I never thought it really got the panning review it deserved. This movie is bad. So bad that I frequently use it to counter anyone’s claim that [movie of the moment] is the worst movie they have seen. With the rare exception of Dungeons and Dragons, Space Cowboys is probably one of the worst movies of the late 90’s through 2005.

The plot may well have been written ten minutes before they started filming. It has that sickly feel of those “oh wouldn’t it be cool if…” stories that always sound better in your head than when you are telling them to other people. Unfortunately in this case, Clint Eastwood also thought it was a great idea.

Spoilers: Russians build a satellite containing not one but twelve nuclear missiles aimed at the U.S.A. Spectacularly stupid writing makes this satellite launch it’s weapons if it starts to fall out of orbit. While S.P.E.C.T.R.E. from James Bond might be dumb enough to build in that feature, I highly doubt the Russians would. Continue reading “Space Cowboys”

Donnie Darko Director’s Cut

Donnie Darko is a movie you will have to see at least twice to absorb its full effect. The first time you take in the settings, mood, and characters and subsequent times you get to try and figure out what everything means. Nothing is really predictable except what the filmmakers blatantly tell you. The second time you watch it to try and pay attention to the details the director slips in and how those details relate to the rest of the story. Donnie Darko does an excellent job of keeping your mind running well after the movie has ended.

What is Donnie Darko? A superhero? Severe schizophrenic? Time traveler? The answer could be all three; it all depends on how you interpret the movie. I think the filmmakers push the audience, with the director’s cut, towards a science fiction explanation.  There a lot of other valid explanations, but it’s hard to explain the end of the movie solely based on Donnie’s possible schizophrenia.

The original cut of the film definitely moves much quicker than the director’s cut, so if slow movies are not your thing then you may want to stick with the original. The director’s cut adds music the filmmakers originally wanted, and some added footage including helpful excerpts from the Philosophy Of Time Travel. I did not like the random computer noises and visuals they added to the transitions in the director’s cut. They felt out of place and unfinished, but this is the only negative I see in this version of the film.

In terms of the features, I was hoping they would include the entire Philosophy Of Time Travel book, but you still have to go online to read it, and while that is a neat tie-in, the site is probably not going to be around forever. Other features include a production diary, commentary with director and Kevin Smith, and a fan made film about being the number one fan of the movie.

I am glad they released the director’s cut of Donnie Darko.  The movie’s pace is different than the original, but it’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. I think this version helps support the mood and mystery the filmmakers had developed in the original.