Angels and Demons – A Movie Review

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May 172009

angelsanddemons_smallposterWhen Robert Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati — the most powerful underground organization in history — he also faces a deadly threat to the existence of the secret organization’s most despised enemy: the Catholic Church. When Langdon learns that the clock is ticking on an unstoppable Illuminati time bomb, he jets to Rome, where he joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and enigmatic Italian scientist. Embarking on a nonstop hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals and even to the heart of the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra will follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that mark the Vatican’s only hope for survival.

Genres: Thriller, Adaptation, Politics/Religion and Sequel; Running Time: 2 hrs. 18 min.; Release Date: May 15th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Armin Mueller-Stahl

Directed By: Ron Howard

This film delivers well as the book was written in a fashion that reads like a international action thriller touching on the intellectual and spiritual.

The film takes off with the development in sciences that would have significance in proving the big bang theory but a crime is committed and a sample of the proof is stolen from a large lab in Europe. As the story progresses, they realize there may be a tie to a group who claim to be the Illuminati and who are seeking to bring down the Catholic church with the truth of science. This somehow involves deeply delving into the history of the Catholic church, it’s security concerns, hidden treasures and the bits of truth that may be stored away that they don’t want the public to be aware of.

From there, the film just gets thicker and faster. Ewan McGregor does a great job and is a refreshing face in the film along with some other good names that round out the cast, unlike Da Vinci Code which had only one mode to the film. Angels&Demons is much more watchable and theatrical. The performances are much better because the book has many bigger than life characters and events. It followed the book better as in the way it didn’t water down the controversy and graphic details. The Angels&Demons film is definitely worth a watch and will wash out any of the bad taste left from Da Vinci Code.

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Eagle Eye – A Movie Review

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Jan 042009

Eagle Eye Movie PosterJerry Shaw and Rachel Holloman are two strangers thrown together by a mysterious phone call from a woman they have never met. Threatening their lives and family, she pushes Jerry and Rachel into a series of increasingly dangerous situations–using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move. As the situation escalates, these two ordinary people become the country’s most wanted fugitives, who must work together to discover what is really happening–and more importantly, why.

Genres: Drama and Thriller; Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.; Release Date: September 26th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and for language.

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Azizi, Billy Bob Thornton

Directed by: D.J. Caruso

We watched this movie last night after we came home from trying to watch “The Spirit” at the movie theater. I had hoped I’d like this movie, but I was very disappointed. It was an updated HAL from 2001. He had fancier effects, control beyond just a spaceship and a female voice, but it was the same concept exactly. Much of the story did not make a lot of sense, and the assasination attempts were like Rube Goldberg machines that made no sense.  The actors did as well as they could with a poor story. This movie was a waste of time.

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Transsiberian – A Movie Review

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Nov 102008

Transsiberian Movie PosterAn American couple, Roy and Jessie, decide to take the long way home from their recent sojourn in Asia on the legendary Trans-Siberian Express train from Beijing to Moscow. On their way, they meet another couple from the West, Carlos and Abby, with whom they quickly form a familiar bond that often unites fellow travellers away from home. When Roy accidentally gets separated from the group at a stopover, Jessie begins to realize that their compatriots aren’t exactly who or what they seem to be. The real danger begins to surface as a deceitful Russian detective and locals terrorize Jessie in this unforgettable journey.

Genres: Art/Foreign, Drama, Thriller and Crime/Gangster; Running Time: 1 hr. 51 min.; Release Date: July 18th, 2008 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for some violence, including torture and language.

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Kate Mara, Eduardo Noriega, Ben Kingsley

Directed by: Brad Anderson

I honestly don’t remember seeing previews for this film, but I was only in limited release, so I’m guess maybe it wasn’t shown widely here in Tampa. It certainly should have been. It was an excellent story that was well acted and well edited. Anderson even captured a bit of the Hitchcock style in that much of the films suspense, while very palpable, was subtle and just under the surface. This understatement, to me, often offers the most profound effect. The acting was immense, the landscape was immense, it was all great! There are a few graphic scenes which really make a strong point. There is no skirting issue, it is right in front of you. Emily Mortimer fit her role so well it was scary, it could be reality, as with Woody and Ben.

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Traitor – A Movie Review

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Sep 062008

The Traitor Movie PosterWhen straight arrow FBI agent Roy Clayton heads up the investigation into a dangerous international conspiracy, all clues seem to lead back to former U.S. Special Operations officer, Samir Horn. A mysterious figure with a web of connections to terrorist organizations, Horn has a knack for emerging on the scene just as a major operation goes down. The inter-agency task force looking into the case meets with Carter, a veteran CIA contractor who seemingly has his own agenda and Max Archer, a fellow FBI agent. The task force links Horn to a prison break in Yemen, a bombing in Nice and a raid in London, but a tangle of contradictory evidence emerges, forcing Clayton to question whether his quarry is a disaffected former military operative — or something far more complicated. Obsessed with discovering the truth, Clayton tracks Horn across the globe as the elusive ex-soldier burrows deeper and deeper into a world of shadows and intrigue.

Genres: Drama, Thriller and Politics/Religion

Running Time: 1 hr. 53 min.; Release Date: August 27th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense violent sequences, thematic material and brief language.

Cast: Don Cheadle, Archie Panjabi, Guy Pearce, Aly Khan, Simon Reynolds

Directed by: Jeffrey Nachmanoff

After having Lay’s nephews over for Saturday night, and the rest of the family for a day of swimming and a cookout Sunday, we relaxed with dinner and a movie Sunday evening of Labor Day Weekend. We both had wanted to see Traitor. Traitor is an intellectual espionage drama that will keep your attention. The director and actors convincingly portrayed a solid storyline centering on religion, terrorism and the government. It was tastefully done and should not offend anyone. Don Cheadle gave a brilliant performance, as usual. It’s one of the better movies of the year, so far.

This isn’t your normal action movie. Neither is it your normal dry political thriller. The acting all around was simply amazing and draws you instantly into the story. The visuals are well presented and done with substance instead of flash. The story is where it really shines. It’s not a mystery but it holds onto you with such a rich and powerful series of events. It may be a bit heavy handed at times, and it did drag a bit in a few places, but was a necessary part of the telling a believable story. It grabs you and makes you think, very nice film.

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The Bank Job – A Movie Review

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Jul 292008

The Bank JobA car dealer with a dodgy past and new family, Terry has always avoided major-league scams. But when Martine, a beautiful model from his old neighborhood, offers him a lead on a foolproof bank hit on London’s Baker Street, Terry recognizes the opportunity of a lifetime. Martine targets a roomful of safe deposit boxes worth millions in cash and jewelry. But Terry and his crew don’t realize the boxes also contain a treasure trove of dirty secrets – secrets that will thrust them into a deadly web of corruption and illicit scandal that spans London’s criminal underworld, the highest echelons of the British government, and the Royal Family itself…the true story of a heist gone wrong…in all the right ways. 

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Thriller and Crime/Gangster; Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.; Release Date: March 7th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, violence and language.

Cast: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner

Directed by: Roger Donaldson

Movies that entertain and are worth the price of admission all have one thing in common,a Good Story! This is an entertaining story that is adequately written, acted and directed. For an almost 2 hour film it keeps your attention. It wasn’t the best bank robbery movie I have ever seen, but if you like these kind of films, this one is worth seeing.

I am not too big a Jason Statham fan, but he is right at home in a film such as this. Donaldson moves his story along with an obvious knowledge of the many heist films of the past, using all the classic elements that worked very well back then and still work now, such as  the double cross, of which there are many, and of course the obligatory characters, all of whom have their own special skills. Saffron Burrows is fantastic as the love interest, and the rest of the cast shines as well. Though it is difficult at first to tell just what exactly is going on, the film quickly kicks into high gear the moment the heist goes underway, and from that point on the film is essentially a very well made and exciting exercise in the classic B movie bank robbery scenario.

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Monster's Ball – A Movie Review

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Jul 252008

Monsters Ball PosterHank, an embittered prison guard, lives with his aging racist father, Buck, and his own twenty something son, Sonny. Hank and Sonny work for the local prison where they are preparing the electric chair for a black inmate. After the man is executed, Hank falls in love with Leticia, the inmate’s widow. This emotionally-charged affair forces Hank to re-evaluate how deeply prison work and his father’s infectious hatred have affected his soul.

Genres: Drama, Romance and Thriller; Running Time: 1 hr. 51 min.; Release Date: December 26, 2001 LA/NY; MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, language and violence.

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Peter Boyle, Heath Ledger, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs

Directed by: Marc Forster

I can’t believe it took me this long to get around to watching this movie. This was another movie watched last weekend. Given that I’ve always liked Billy Bob Thornton, I should have watched this movie a long time ago. All the parts were very well played, and the story was extremely well told. Berry won Best Actress, and I can say she certainly earned the award. I felt I could easily see this as a true story.

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Se7en – A Movie Review

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Jul 252008

Movie Poster for Se7enLt. William Somerset, a burnt-out veteran cop, is on the brink of retirement. Forced to train his ambitious and eager replacement, Somerset is teamed with Detective David Mills on an investigation that draws these disparate cops deeper and deeper into the twisted world of a cunning and meticulous criminal. He is methodical, exacting and grotesquely creative. He is known as John Doe and he is the most vicious serial killer alive, fashioning murders based on the seven deadly sins. As each new victim is discovered, the detectives must combine their collective experiences to track the trail of a killer bent on seeking attrition for society’s sins.

Genres: Drama, Thriller and Crime/Gangster; Running Time: 2 hrs. 5 min.; Release Date: September 22nd, 1995; MPAA Rating: R for grisly afterviews of horrific and bizarre killings, and for strong language.

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, Richard Roundtree, Kevin Spacey

Directed by: David Fincher

This was a movie we watched weekend before last. It was better than I expected. I started watching this movie and i couldn’t stop until it was over. This gritty film about a serial killer who is doling out punishments according to The Seven Deadly Sins, and leaving a trail of crumbs that lead two police officers to a final act that will leave you stunned with disbelief. What a great storyline and the acting was pretty good. Freeman played a great cop and an extremely creepy Kevin Spacey is an exceptional demented bad guy. Brad Pitt is much younger then, and some inexperience comes through, but overall he handles the part reasonably well. The ending of this movie will shock you, probably my favorite ending of any movie and it’s not often you see Hollywood end a movie like this. Such a dark movie that it will leave you thinking about it for days after the movie. You have to see this one.

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The Happening – A Movie Review

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Jun 152008

The HappeningA family is on the run from an inexplicable and unstoppable event that threatens not only humankind–but the most basic human instinct of them all: survival.

Genres: Action/Adventure, ThrillerRelease Date: June 13th, 2008 (wide)
MPAA Rating: R for violent and disturbing images.

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Spencer Breslin, Ashlyn Sanchez

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

I thought the Sixth Sense was a good movie with a great plot twist. Shyamalan’s movie Signs was a true horror sci-fi classic, but I’d change the title of this movie “The Not Happening.” I view this as a complete loss of 90 plus minutes of my life.

I’ve even come to like Mark Wahlberg, and he and the other actors did the best they could with the material they had, but there was nothing here. The scariest part of movie involved their interactions with an old lady living alone, and that was only a minor part of the story.

The main message I’d leave you with is, DO NOT see this movie. Don’t even bother to rent it once it comes out on DVD. This movie gets a single star only because you can’t give it a zero.

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No Country for Old Men-Reviewed

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Mar 292008

No Country For Old MenSet in West Texas, a man on the run with a suitcase full of money is pursued by a number of individuals.

Director: Joel and Ethan Cohen

Genres: Drama, Thriller, Western and Adaptation

Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Beth Grant, Garret Dillahunt

For the first nine-tenths of the movie, this has it all, a good story line, great acting, and drama that holds your interest. Then ten minutes before the end, it seems to wander aimlessly, unsure of its next move. This ending will disappoint most movie-goers…and with good reason. Maybe they are setting it up for a sequel. Either way, its no way to finish.

Acting-wise, I have nothing but admiration for every member of the cast, including those who played Chigurh’s victims. But the pairing of Jones, Bardem, and Brolin is brilliant. Jones, like John Wayne before him, plays one note so well that it doesn’t need to change it. And yet he allows us to really look into this disillusioned lawman who cannot understand what he sees to be a more violent world evolving away from his ideas of civility. If I could, I would nominate both Brolin and Bardem for Best Actor. Bardem would easily win since his character has more to play with, more charisma, and more interest. But I loved how Brolin allowed his character to come off as fully dimensional without saying much. Special mention must be made to Garrett Delahunt who plays the thankless part of Jones’ deputy. He’s partially comic relief, but not at the expense of the character as so many deputies in films.

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Vantage Point

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Mar 142008

Movie Poster for Vantage PointEight strangers with eight different points of view try to unlock the one truth behind an assassination attempt on the president of the United States.

Director: Pete Travis

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Cast: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Edgar Ramirez, Zoe Saldana

I took about half the day off to make up for a holiday I wasn’t able to take because of a training class. It’s been sprinkling rain since about 11 a.m., which is actually pretty nice, so I decided to see an afternoon movie. I find that’s a great way to really feel like you’re playing hooky.

Obviously, the movie I selected was Vantage Point. These sorts of political thriller, terrorism plot films are generally fairly formulaic. Vantage Point took something of a unique approach to presenting the complete story. The story actually starts at what might be considered the middle of the film, and then telling it from eight different points of view. Be warned, this could be mildly irritating for some people because after you see one point of view everything is suddenly rewound and shown from the next person’s point of view (this is done six times) before they all converge into a finale filled with one adrenaline-fuelled car/chase sequence.

I admit it was a bit cumbersome, and I was growing impatient, but by the fourth “rewind,” I was totally into the story, and it did have a lesson about how we each perceive what is going on around us. I’m rating the move about a seven.

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Shoot Em Up

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Jan 192008

Shoot em UpMr. Smith, the angriest, most hardboiled man in the world, finds himself entrusted to protect the most innocent thing of all–a newborn child. When Smith delivers the baby in the middle of a gunfight, he soon discovers that the infant is the target of a shadowy force that has sent a team of mysterious and endless assailants, led by Hertz, to erase all traces of the baby. Amid a hail of bullets and facing every conceivable permutation of gunfight, Smith teams up with a prostitute named DQ to solve the mystery as to why the baby’s life is being threatened before this makeshift family all ends up on the wrong side of a bullet. Everyone wants the baby dead. The big question is why?

Director: Michael Davis

Genres: Action/Adventure and Thriller

Other: Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min. Release Date: September 7th, 2007 (wide) MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong bloody violence, sexuality and some language

Cast: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Greg Bryk, Jane McLean

Lay and I both had a little trouble with this movie. We expecting a serious action movie. With that expectation, we were disappointed. Once you come to realize this is tongue in cheek action, you can enjoy it a bit more. I consider it proof of why Clive Owen would have made a better Bond than Daniel Craig, but thats a personal opinion. The action and the fun never cease. Its campy, its cheesy, it doesn’t ever try for realism. (for instance, in reality, Mr Smith ought to be orange considering the quantity of carrots he consumes on a daily basis.)

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