10 July 2003

Physically Handicapped

The Core: 2.5 Stars. I'll give them credit. They didn't care one whit about physics, or geology, or thermodynamics, or electromagnetics when they made this film. It's like a high-budget 50s sci-fi film. They spout jargon like it's going out of style and have all the cliché characters (the hotshot pilot (Hilary Swank), the good professor (Aaron Eckhart), the evil scientist (Stanley Tucci), the technogeek (D.J. Qualls), the outcast genius (Delroy Lindo), and the token foreigner (Tchéky Karyo)) from any of the schlock epics. They almost make it work, too, but ultimately it fails by being (a) too long and (b) too silly. 135 minutes is just torturous for this kind of movie, unless Michael Bay is at the helm. Go rent Armageddon (not, I repeat, not Deep Impact)to see how it should be done.

09 July 2003

Whale good. Blonde bad.

Whale Rider: 4 Stars. All I knew about this film going in was that everyone loved it. Now I know why. Pretty much a textbook case of a movie with virtually no chance of commercial success, this New Zealand film focuses on the relationship between aging Maori chief Koro (Rawiri Paratene) and his 12-year-old granddaughter Pai (a luminous Keisha Castle-Hughes), set against the backdrop of Western influence and modernization as it affects the Maori tribe. Sounds like a real humdinger, eh? Well, surprise, it's awesome. Koro resents that he doesn't have a grandson to inherit the Chief mantle and is worried that the greatness of the Maori is in the past. Pai (named after Paikea, the male founder of the tribe who arrived in New Zealand on the back of a whale) is frustrated with the role of a woman in her society in the modern world. She also longs to be accepted by her grandfather. What results is ultimately a story about a family in crisis, but writer/director Niki Caro tells it with such skill and fantasy and beauty that it's like watching poetry. If it weren't for City of God, this would be the uncontested best film of the year.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde: 1 Star. Ugh. When is Reese Witherspoon going to stop doing Julia Robertsesque dreck and give us another Pleasantville or Election? This movie is pure crap, especially when compared to the original, which was at least cute. Jennifer Coolidge needs to just go away, or at least just do Chris Guest/Eugene Levy films. Luke Wilson should know better. So should Sally Field and Bruce McGill. Bob Newhart, well, he was a lot of fun...he's the only reason to watch this turkey. I hear there's going to be a third film. I'd rather watch Freddy vs. Jason.

03 July 2003

Dude, you're joking, right?

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: 3.5 Stars. Are you kidding me? T3, good?!? Better than good. Great. Frankly, the only drag in the film is the (seemingly) 30-minute car chase, which was just a little much. I may be rating this higher than it deserves because of low expectations, but I doubt it. Where to start? Jonathan Mostow (who directed the excellent Breakdown) does a worthy job stepping into James Cameron's shoes. You've got a few characters (Nick Stahl and Claire Danes) who are actually likeable (unlike Edward Furlong and Linda Hamilton in T2). Throw in some badass cyborgs (Governor Schwarzenegger and insanely-hot Kristanna Loken). Then finish by actually furthering the story given in the first two films. Basically what we've got here is the "middle chapter" of the Terminator saga, which could (but likely won't) go on for a few more movies. We've seen the Terminators come back through time to kill. We've seen glimpses of the future and know that, somehow, John Connor will lead a victorious resistance. T3 fills in the blanks. Basically what we've got here is the "middle chapter" of the Terminator saga, which could (but likely won't) go on for a few more movies, and I couldn't be more impressed with the result. Special kudos to Kristanna Loken's breasts, which make an extremely swift, but appreciated, cameo.