In today's Hollywood, one never knows what they are going to get. As I've been rather lax lately about writing up my reviews, I have stumbled upon five films that deserve a review but none that makes me want to hurry to my computer and share them with the world. So what we have here is a mini-review of sorts, somewhat similar to my horror movie review. First up...
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
In all seriousness, what did I really expect of this movie? Some action scenes, Arnold playing the old familiar role and perhaps a bit more exposition on the Terminator back story (or future depending on how you want to look at it.) The fact that James Cameron is missing is key. It's really not a Terminator movie without him. I wish I could say the story is in good hands with Jonathan Mostow, but that would be a lie. I was led to believe there were at least some great action sequences, but even they let me down, especially when compared to some incredible sequences from the previous two films, especially T2. Hell, even Schwartzenegger phones it in. Nick Stahl does a decent job as the older John Conner, but one wonders what the hell Eddie Furlong was doing. No, he was not spectacular in T2, but if you are going to try and build some continuity (Christ, the doctor is back), why not give the boy some work? Claire Danes is very pretty, but her character is really unnecessary and has very little to work with here, and the Terminatrix (played by Kristanna Loken) can't even act. At least Robert Patrick was able to bring something new to the Terminator mentality. Loken is the most deadly manikin ever put on film. This terminator is simply boring. Hell, even the special effects were lame. There was one sequence that had promise. It looked as though Arnold might reprise the evil Terminator from the first film, but they screw the pooch on execution and the film finally falls flat. All in all, a major disappointment.
From the opening credits with AC-DC howling in the background, this movie looked to be promising. It's a smaller budget film starring Bryan Brown as an Australian mobster who must hook up with a couple of Chicago hoods, one of which was played by the always enjoyable John Goodman. Throw in a little Sam Neill and Toni Collette, and you at least have a great cast. The script was admirable and the work done by the actors was very strong, especially Brown. He perfectly inhabits his role as a tough and sometimes brutal mobster. The editing was a bit choppy; surely to enhance the story, but it did take away somewhat from the action on screen. And I must applaud Sam Worthington who takes a smaller role and builds on it. He, like Collette, has something that makes you watch him whenever he is on screen. This is a pretty decent film that you might consider if you are looking for something a bit different the next time you visit the video store.
Not to be confused with the 1979 Arthur Hiller classic, this is the remake by Andrew Fleming. I don't want to get off on a rant here, but why is it that Hollywood feels the need to take really great movies and fuck them up? It makes no sense to me. Look, I love Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas is a Hollywood legend by now, but surely they had better offers on their plates than to trash this perfectly good premise. I will admit, there are some new twists to the story, but one cannot top Peter Falk and Alan Arkin from the original, so why try? I laughed a few times, but in the end, I kept wanting to see Alan Arkin zigzag on the tarmac or marvel at Falk's lazy eye. Note to idiots in Hollywood - find some new material...PLEASE!
Now were talking. From the man that brought you The Fugitive comes this tale of several young boys assigned to a work camp in the middle of nowhere. Their job? Dig holes. It builds character, they say. But what the Warden (Sigourney Weaver) really wants is to find treasure that her family lost many years before. There is an entire back-story to this movie and it tells much of the story through flashbacks, starring the beautiful Patricia Arquette, she of the crooked teeth. I found those parts to be somewhat boring, but the main action takes place in the present and much of it including a wonderful performance by Jon Voight. His career has been a little sketchy lately, but he shows that he still has it with this one. I believe this film was marketed towards the kids, and I'm sure they enjoyed it, but it has enough for the adults too, and it was a refreshing look after so much crap that I usually end up watching. I won't say you must watch this movie, but you will not be disappointed if you do.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Speaking of Jon Voight, here is a film starring his daughter's absolutely beautiful breasts. She does well herself, but don't be misled - they are the star of the show. There is no acting to really speak about in this one, though Gerard Butler holds his own against Angelina Jolie. I was impressed by some of the action, though I guess I've seen too many Jackie Chan movies - it's kind of nice to see the different moves an actor does when doing a fight scene. In this one, the action is so choppy; it's difficult to figure out what’s really happening at times. I will say that Jolie has made this a good character. She has developed a female Indiana Jones and I will continue watching subsequent films starring Lara Croft, though recognizing it will never rise to the heights that Raiders of the Lost Ark reached. I was also impressed that Jan de Bont did not fall for the "quick cut to a million locals" ploy that the James Bond series has become. They do linger in the different areas and the cinematography looks very nice. This is a decent action/adventure, but I would wait for it to play on cable rather than renting it.
Well, there you have it. Quick and easy movies deserve quick and easy reviews and that's unfortunately what I have watched recently. I promise to be back with some longer reviews if I can find some Hollywood fare that lives up to it's marketing campaign - though usually you have seen all the good parts anyway in the previews. I love film and will watch almost anything, but it does tend to get tiring after awhile. Here's to something better in the future. One can always hold out hope. That is all.