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The Terminator (1984)

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Post-apocalyptic 2029.  The world looks pretty dark and gray.  The only thing stopping artificially intelligent beings from completely exterminating the human race is a handful of rebels led by John Connor.  Robots plan of action will execute itself on the battlefield of 1984, where a Cyborg Terminator (Arnold Schwartgenegger) is sent on a deadly mission to eliminate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of the future’s rebel-leader.  Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is sent from the rebel’s side to detail Sarah and keep her safe.

I finally saw James Cameron’s sci-fi magnum opus, and Schwartzenegger’s defining performance as an actor before he became, you know, governor and stuff.  I always thought that Terminator would be one of those movies that gets its awesomeness because it’s nostalgic.. not because it’s actually good.  Well, this movie bears zero nostalgia for me and I absolutely loved it.  So I guess Cameron DID do a few things pre-Titanic.  I don’t know, maybe it’s just my nerdy fixation with sci-fi and dystopian societies.  Actually, that probably is it, but I still think that Terminator is a good movie.

First of all, while I’m not a huge Arnold fan in general, he is pretty boss as the ruthless killing machine.  His lines are few, but weighty.  “I’ll be back.”  He’s got some serious presence.  Annnnnd, he’ll probably be nothing but The Terminator.  The limited speaking fits the limited acting talent.  No offense.  The others are pretty good too – Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn in particular.  They didn’t shine necessarily, but they still were fine in a movie where the acting REALLY doesn’t matter that much.  Their interactions with each other?  Mehh.  Whatever.  Indifferent.

I guess what it boils down to is some serious surpassing of expectations.  Coming into this for the first time (finally, I might add) I was expecting some action-packed explosive kinda movie.  Lots of shooting… lots of blowing up… things like that.  Of course, there was definitely some of that junk.  I guess what I didn’t expect was the intrigue and mystique behind all the action.  The jumping back and forth through time and the detailed machines.  The dark thrill, the fear.  A computerized killing machine, programmed to do nothing but.  Man this crap is awesome.  It makes me proud to be a sci-fi nerd.

A word that keeps coming to mind is convincing.  I feel like the movie believes its own tale.  It believes in this world that we are so unfamiliar with it we hardly know to be scared out of our pants.  It convinces us that this could happen, it sucks us into this land of incredulity.  We’ve got Kyle to explain us the ups and downs (man I love those scenes where someone unfolds every detail for the audience).

And I could rave for days about the music.  Er, the main title anyway.  It’s such a quintessentially deep science fiction feeling.  I… adore it.  There’s nothing quite so captivating as a good score, and this nails that aspect.  The credits are rolling and I’m sitting there wide-eyed and drooling from my open mouth I feel so much from the music.  Yeah, I’m going crazy.  The main theme’s just really cool, okay?

What I found fascinating was how truly apprehensive I felt at the climax.  I am not one to jump or scream, but I was near holding my breath as our heros ran from the killing machine.  His seemingly human appearance is slowly unveiled and with that, the wall between comfort and terror.  His arm inching towards Sarah with such slow tension.  Yeah, I was kinda scared.  That rarely happens – and for it to occur in a freaking action movie with Arny was, well, remarkable.  The camerawork and special effects are also fantastic, as well as James Cameron’s craftsmanship behind the scenes.  I’m AMAZED at the low budget, it’s really top-notch even with the lack of funding.

The Terminator was ahead of its time.  Though one could still recognize it by some rather obvious 80’s labels, it does manage to achieve a level of timelessness still.  It will always be iconic, and it will always be parodied.  It will always be freaking awesome.  8/10

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Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

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The greatest disappointment was the gross lack of Chuck Norris jokes…

David Norris (see what I mean? oh, and Matt Damon), with the charming smile in one pocket and a sketchy past in the other, rises from his grungy upbringing to run for Senator of New York.  Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) is a professional ballet dancer, spunky and sassy.  After Norris is slaughtered in the election, he stumbles upon Elise in the men’s room (oh, it’s cool, she’s just hiding from security after crashing a wedding).  Their chemistry is fizzling instantly, and their spontaneous kiss is magical.  Her fire and spirit inspire David to give the best speech of his career – catapulting him to a lead in the next election.

The next day, after failing to spill his coffee according to some agenda that a fairly attractive, skinny black man in a hat (Anthony Mackle) is in charge of, he runs into Elise again.  But that wasn’t supposed to happen.  He was never supposed to see her again.  He was never supposed to arrive at work when he did.

More men in hats confront David.  They explain some religious hoo-dah about “men upstairs,” “the chairman,” life-plans that keep the universe in check, human-beings can’t make decisions… stuff like that.  They swear David to secrecy about their existence, otherwise he gets some serious “reset” lobotomy, oh, and he can never have Elise.

Even three years later when chance takes over and he bumps into her again.  It’s not according to plan.  But then this Thompson dude (Terence Stamp) ups the ante.  If they get together, David will never be president, and Elise will never have the dance career that she would have had.  And he decides to show his omnipotence by forcing a sprained ankle on Elise.  David is faced with following his heart vs. following destiny.

Superb premise.  Once things got cooking in the bathroom I was hooked.  Men with hats observing from above, stalking a potential presidential candidate.  The whole thing with the coffee spilling at 7:05 or the world keels over is pretty awesome.  My first question (of many): are we all observed?  The entire bureau seems to focus all efforts on these TWO people.  I mean, that’s cool, that’s a movie, but they barely put forth the effort to make it look like they observed anyone else at all.  The “big reveal” or whatever missed the opportunity to make this look like a universal organization, encompassing every human being who missteps.  Oh well.

Free agency vs. pre-determined destiny.  Being religious myself, these underlying themes are fascinating.  While many believe “the chairman” to be God as we know him, I think of this chairman dude as being a lot more like the devil.  Obviously this isn’t the real world, and in this real world I do choose to believe that God is watching over upstairs.  But he doesn’t intervene in our affairs like those in The Adjustment Bureau do, he gave us choice.  Satan, or whatever, wouldn’t give us that choice.  And that makes us slaves to him.  This is a dystopian society, and things AREN’T supposed to be like that.

Which is where my main problem comes from.  (Sorry for the religious rant in there, bee-tee-dubs.  I couldn’t help it).  Spoilers.  After all their cat and dog antics, David determines his decision.  He wants to be with Elise no matter the cost.  His decision is made and no “chairman” is going to tell him what to do.  So, in an escapade of brilliance, he and Elise depart hand in hand to confront the man who writes the plans, since no one else seems to know why they can’t be together.

Call me a realist, but I wanted there to be a face to the responsibility.  I’m so pleased that this dude came to his humane side and changed the plan just for them to be together.  He’s a real sweetheart.  But, as anticlimactic as it is, I wanted some kind of confrontation between the good guys and the messed-in-the-heads.  Some big speech about letting us choose our destiny, no one can force us to do anything blabbity blah.  But instead, we get some immediate resolution between Elise and David’s story… and nothing for the bigger picture.  What happens to the next person who unknowingly never meets the person of their dreams?  The future remains sadly unaffected and I guess I had a problem with that.

Anyways.

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are a fantastic duo, and I knew that would be so two years ago when I first HEARD about this movie.  I’m not even going to attempt to deny my girl-crush on Emily Blunt, she’s a terribly versatile actress and I’ll bank on any film of hers nowadays.  And, well, who doesn’t love everybody’s man Matt Damon.

The theme and mood of the film is a perfect balance between drama and adventurous excitement.  The music is a wonderful accompaniment to the mood, Thomas Newman is a stud.  The pace too was captivating the entire way (though perhaps with one too many jumps to the future), and I was intrigued until the end with its outcome.  It’s a thinker, and everyone knows that I dig that kind thing.

And again, the plot itself was original and fantastically enthralling.  Walking through doors, super hats, men in suits nonchalantly controlling everything.  Though it perhaps didn’t achieve its potential, it is still worth the watch and an exciting ride.  7/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 11, 2011 at 9:55 am

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

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Remember when I wrote this and this?  Well, go ahead and get yourself in the mood with those year-old opinions.  My coworker who loves Star Wars even more than I do (if that’s possible) suggested a May tradition of Star Wars lovin’.  I highly approve, and so I’ve been going through them again.  Here’s the next installment that I managed to not write a review of…

*CAUTION* This summary is written under the pretense that, well, all of you know the what’s up of Anakin Skywalker in the Star-verse.  If you don’t know the ending, well, stop reading and join the real world and watch some Star Wars.

K anyways.  Three years after the commencement of the Clone Wars, Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) are still teamed up and kicking Separatist trash.  Aside from the war, Anakin’s got more problems.  His secret marriage with Padme (Natalie Portman) reaches new levels when Padme gets pregnant.  Anakin, after more crazy premonitiondreams, is worried that his wife will suffer a similar fate to his mothers and Emp, I mean Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is still taking a special interest in young Skywalker.  The Jedi army aids the clones across the galaxy on various star systems, and Chancellor Palpatine has his own all-but innocent agenda to seize control.

First of all, III is associated with one of my favorite Star Wars memories.  My mom let me skip SCHOOL to see this on opening day back in ’05, and I have my brother to thank for planting that genius idea in my mother’s head.  It was so exciting, and so sad to see it all come to an end… and a pretty tragic end at that.  I believe I will feel similarly after this next Harry Potter installment is released next month.  But seriously, that was amazing.  And I was enamored with the entire movie.  With perhaps a few flaws, this is by far the best of the new trilogy and my opinion is largely the same (though not quite as obsessed).

Let’s talk Anakin.  And let’s talk HUGE IMPROVEMENT over II.  Allow me to reiterate from my last review – if Anakin hadn’t been such a douche in Attack of the Clones, then this third bit would make so much more sense.  Make Episode II Anakin into a nice though still cocky boy, willing to follow orders and inherently good.  THEN in Episode III he can defy the council, kill sand people and be an overall angry person.  But alas.  I did think that he played a confused, and scared young adult playing with fire very well.  His fall to the dark side, though initially implausible because his relationship with Padme is so unbelievable, is emotionally driven and powerful by the end.  Palpatine is a devilish snake, working Anakin like a puppet.  “Remember what you told me about your mother and the sand people?”  He “sees greatness in Anakin” but still reminds him of past mistakes.  He embodies the dark side of the force in the most literal way I could imagine.  He knows just how to play him, how to build him up and butter his ego, and make him more his servant.  It gives Darth Vader’s relationship to the Emp an entirely new meaning in the later trilogy – DV was never more than a slave.  Did I let the cat out of the bag too early?

Natalie Portman is solid as the mother of the future – rockin’ the princess Leia ‘do and everything.  But how could Anakin and Padme expect to keep their marriage a secret if A) they lived together and B) they were having kids!  Is prego Senators the norm in the Star-verse?  Did that affect her rep AT ALL?  I feel like they didn’t think things through very clearly.  Oh well, Natalie Portman is still good.  And beautiful and stuff (as the boy I was watching the movie with mentioned every few minutes…)

Ewan McGregor manages to emulate Sir Alec Guinness to perfection.  He’s fantastic as the scruffy Jedi-master.  I was pissed when he was tossed about so easily by Count Dooku… just like the last one.  Please don’t mess with one of my favorite characters.  I beg of you.  That’s all irrelevant though, because by the end he’s tossing General GRIEVOUS about like his cough were pneumonia and with more style than Anakin could ever have.  He’s a fantastic leader and you gotta feel his anguish by the end.  Poor guy.  I practically get teary (but not really) when Anakin and Obi-Wan part before their final showdown and Anakin bids the force be with him one last time…  So sad.  Yoda (Frank Oz) too is a bad-A green guy – it doesn’t get any cooler than nonchalantly outing Emperor Palpatine’s familiar red guards at the door.  So cool.  And the battle between the two of them is pretty sick, but I HATED Palpatine’s earlier battle with Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and co.  Seriously? There’s no way that his pathetic swordsmanship could have bested all three of Windu’s buddies.  And Mace is MUCH too cool for the death he was given.  Fail.

Anakin and Obi-Wan’s battle is arguably the best in the whole series.  Granted, Darth Maul is the best Sith Lord the franchise has seen, but this is so emotional.  The blue on blue, the music oh the music (I could practically write a paper just on the J. Williams himself…), the lava land, the sadness.  Granted, Hayden is a little over the top once he loses his legs, but Ewan manages to keep it smooth and classy.  Overall it’s a fantastic scene and it gives Ep IV an entirely new twist.  III strikes the perfect tone leading into the old trilogy.  It makes you realize that the entire saga is really just a story about Anakin and his path as “the chosen one.”  He just took a little 20-year detour in a bad-A breathing suit.

Other cool things:

  • The order 66 execution.  And just like that, everything turns Darth Sidious’ way.  Pretty cool way to get rid of all the Jedi…
  • The continual expansion of the Star-verse.  Mustafaar, Kashyyk, whatever else.
  • Chewbacca’s cameo.
  • R2D2 further establishes himself as the number one selection for your team against the Zombie Apocalypse.  What can’t that little droid do?  That opening scene is excellent, and almost manages to capture the charm and wit of the original trilogy.  Almost.  But yeah, R2D2 is boss.
  • NO JAR JAR.
  • Awesome special effects.
  • Don’t tell me you didn’t get the chills when Darth Vader drew his first breath.  Or when James Earl Jones spoke his first words.
I’d ALMOST venture to say that this one’s better than Return of the Jedi.  Almost.  I’ll be rewatching that one sometime this week, so I guess I’ll see what my final opinion entails.  But whatever Lucas destroyed in the first two, he redeems in Episode III.  And hey, I’m not a hater of any of them.  This is the perfect bridge to the old trilogy and makes me feel good about being a Star Wars fan…atic.  8/10

Source Code (2011)

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This didn’t blow me out of the water like Inception did, but it was pretty close.

What would you do if you had only 8 minutes left to live?  What would you do if you had 8 minutes left to live… ten times?  Source Code is the government’s latest invention for intervention.  Military pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up one day on a train, in a body that is not his own and sitting across from an attractive woman who apparently knows him.  The last thing he remembers is flying over Afghanistan.  8 minutes later, the train blows up.

He doesn’t die, though.  He winds up in a small isolation chamber – being awoken by a woman’s voice.  Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), after issuing some basic memory tests, explains that he is part of a government operation and that his experience on the train is nothing but a simulation called source code.  Earlier that day, a bomb exploded on the train, and Colter’s mission is to locate the bomb and the bomber to prevent a subsequent terrorist attack later that afternoon that would wipe out the entire population of Chicago.  Every time he lands in the same place with 8 minutes to find out more information about the attack, as well as more information about himself.

Phew!  That was an intense summary.  Don’t worry about it.  I applaud Duncan Jones for repeating an 8 minute situation ten timesish and have it STILL be original and legit.  We can’t always have Bill Murray to entertain us every single repeated Groundhog Day.  I was never once bored.  It’s fast-paced, exciting, but insightful and deep, too.  I loved the trippiness of it, the question of how much saving he can actually do without being limited to changing the future only.

It also manages to throw in some great character development without being overbearingly mushy or distracting from the excitement.  Colter Stevens can’t remember what happened to him, he doesn’t know how he wound up in the Source Code, he hasn’t even made amends with his father since before he went to war.  Apparently he’s on a mission, but he doesn’t know at all what’s up.  On another note, I never thought I could hear the phrase “everything’s going to be okay” as many times as Colter said it without tasting the oozing cheese.  But it works as an emotional backbone to the thrill.

Even with movies like Inception out and popular, this is still a great, original story and gives thrillers a good name again.  It’s also a great mysery, though I’ll admit I wasn’t too surprised with every twist and turn, save the ending of course.  But that doesn’t mean it’s worthless – in fact if I can compare it to Unknown, which I recently saw as well, it doesn’t make the same mistake of trying to confuse the audience TOO much for the sake of being confusing.  In that regard, the suspenseful plot and theme are perfect.  Then again, I could watch these cerebral fantasies all day.  I love Minority Report, Inception and The Matrix.  I love this.  I knew that I was onboard the second Jake Gyllenhaal looked at himself in the mirror and saw another guy looking back at him, then confusedly looking through his wallet to find an alternate identity in a History teacher named Sean.  [And yes, for the record, Inception is definitely my go-to comparison these days.  Man do I love that movie.  I promise to review it soon.  Anyway.]

I warn you, there are questions.  Who’s Sean?  Who’s Christina for that matter? (the attractive girl sitting across from him – played by Michelle Monaghan).  What’s he doing, when is this happening, what is going on… Just don’t worry about the science.  Suspend your disbelief.  Love the ride.  I adored the almost end – Colter pays off a comedian to lighten up everyone’s faces right before they die for the last time.  Perfect touch.

Jake Gyllenhaal is really good as our leading man (oh the charmer he is), as well as the supporting cast.  I particularly enjoyed Vera Farmiga’s performance, though Michelle Monaghan, and Jeffrey Wright are also good.  But I’m applauding Duncan Jones more than anyone.  I’ll get around to seeing Moon one of these days, I’m definitely a fan.  The editing is also excellent.

It’s like a video game on steroids.  This intellectual thriller is worth full price, folks.  8/10

V for Vendetta (2006)

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“Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot.  I know of no reason the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”

Geek fest geek fest geek fest…  I can think of a few movies that I’ve seen in my lifetime where I come home from the theater, or turn off the TV and just sit back and think.  Memento falls under this category as does Inception or actually The Prestige… k so any Christopher Nolan movie AT ALL, but I’ve also had this feeling with On the Waterfront, The Truman Show, Psycho, and The Man in the Moon.  It doesn’t have to be trippy like Nolan’s movies to get me thinking.  These movies all made an impression on me in some way or another, whether it’s crazy good acting, a revealing twist, trippy cinematography, a great script or simply a wonderful story.  V for Vendetta made an impression on me.  I’m not sure exactly what it was, but this movie is freaking amazing.

So there’s this terrorist dude.  He’s got a white mask, a deep impressionable voice, and goes by the name “V.”  (Hugo Weaving, so awesome even without a face).  Dystopian London is a wreck, and he thinks he can set it straight by finishing what Guy Fawkes and co. started in 1605… blow up Parliament.  On the 5th of November, of course.  Though he dons the Fawkes mask as his symbol, V has his own personal vendetta against the government, beginning with his imprisonment at a British concentration camp for homosexuals, blacks, Jews, Muslims, etc.  His face was disfigured in an explosion (also on November 5th) and he seeks revenge over all responsible at the camp.

There’s also a girl named Evey Hammond (played brilliantly and very British-like by Natalie Portman).  She’s a twenty-somethin’ orphan working at the British Television Network.  She crosses paths with V (well, he saved her life or somethin’) and invites her to watch him blow up the Old Bailey.  The government steals his thunder by covering to the public what really happened, so he makes a personal appearance on the TV Network Evey works at, appealing to the people to unite with him the following 5th of November against Parliament.  Evey saves his life… he takes her to his freaking awesome lair where she’s supposed to chill for a year.  And later she shows off her awesome head shape  – very few women could pull off a shaved head like she can.  (“Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head” anyone?)

Okay, so the British government is pretty messed up.  This is dystopian GB, the US is basically destroyed, and totalitarian gov of the fascist Norsefire party led by Adam Sutler (John Hurt) tries to fix the environmental mess that England is in post some war involving biological weapons.  They basically came to power by creating a deadly virus, killing thousands, and then producing a cure.  And they, like, had psycho concentration camps like Nazis.  Sketchy kinda?  So the public might actually pay attention to this “V” man, no one likes the controlled situation they’re under.

Another character of note is Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea) who is investigating the murders of several government officials, all killed by V.

First of all, V is freaking awesome.  His opening V-alliterated monologue along with Evey’s “Are you, like, a crazy person?” is kind of great.  V kinda has a knife obsession, loves The Count of Monte Cristo, and all things beautiful.  He’s a jack of all trades master at EVERYTHING kind of a guy.  Too bad we only hear Weaving’s voice, but it’s still a good performance balancing brilliance with insanity.

I, personally, think that Natalie Portman is good as well.  Some argue that her accent sucks and that she’s just white noise behind better performances.  But I disagree, I think she’s a very talented actress and her accent is actually quite good.  I enjoyed her performance.

But I’ll be honest, though the acting, cinematography, directing, writing, costumes, technical aspects (freaking sweet in its own right – visually exciting and better than The Matrix in some aspects) and what else have you are all great ‘n’ all… the story makes the movie.  And I’m a sucker for dystopian plot lines.  It’s gotta be my consistently most favorite genre.  I can’t believe I haven’t gotten ahold of the graphic novels yet (it’s on my to-do list now), because just the film itself has sparked a bug in me and I want to know everything I can about this crazy, unfamiliar world.  It’s complex and nuanced, heartbreaking and gripping.  It’s also a kick-A action movie, if you dig that.

I’m sure the Wachowski bros and James McTeigue don’t do Alan Moore justice, but on a strictly movie standpoint – this is hardcore. 9/10

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)

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Spoilers. Just sayin’.

I remember so well when this movie was released.  I was 10-years-old, and i wanted sooo badly to see it – but due to its PG-13 rating my mom wouldn’t let me.  I got over it.  I’m glad, now, that I didn’t see it then because when I finally was able to, I could appreciate it.  At 10-years I already loved movies and knew all about Steven Spielberg; E.T., Close Encounters, Jaws, & Jurrasic Park were favorites from my childhood.  I did not, however, know who Stanley Kubrick was (pretty sure that name came along when I was 12 or 13).  This began as Kubrick’s project and you can see his prints all over it.

Sometime in the future, where the world is starting to freeze over and couples must obtain a license to have children, technology has advanced so much that man can create life.  Artificial intelligence (robots) are hardly distinguishable from human beings.  Scientist Allan Hobby (William Hurt) wants to take it a step further: What if we could create a Robot that could love.  Not physical lust but love like a child would care for his mother.

And so David was created (Haley Joel Osment).  Monica (Frances O’Connor) and Henry (Sam Robards) Swintons – whose child is being held in cryostasis until a cure is found for his disease – decide to test out this new product. (Yeah, I totally stole that from IMDb.  But I didn’t really know what the kid’s problem was.  So sue me).  Henry brings him home and Monica is initially furious.  No “mecha” could replace her own physical child.  Trial period ensues.  Should they choose to keep David, they must perform an irreversable imprint ritual.  Monica spends time with David and they begin to bond.  She decides to do the imprint thing (sadly, this now makes me think of Breaking Dawn…) and David is now in for good.  The transformation is instant – Monica is now Mommy and David wants nothing but to make her happy.

Problems arrive when their “real” son, Martin (Jake Thomas) recovers and comes home.  Suddenly David’s got competition.  Suddenly “Daddy” has changed his mind about the entire ordeal.  Suddenly David is getting in trouble and doesn’t know how to get mommy’s love anymore.  David cuts a lock off Monica’s hair to gain her love but is falsely accused of sinister motives.  Things get worse when he’s found holding Martin at the bottom of a pool… but only because he was frightened seconds earlier and wanted protection.  Monica (sob sob sob) can’t take it anymore, David’s gotta go.

So what does she do?  She drops him in the middle of the woods with nothing but a smart Teddy, some money, and a dismal parting message: “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the world.”  WTF?  He may be artificial, but he’s still a kid.  All he can figure is that his mother must not love him because he isn’t real like Martin.  He decides to search for the Blue Fairy so that he can become a real boy like Pinnochio.

Part two, the story takes a turn and we are introduced to (though we don’t thoroughly explore) this “world.”  Mecha exist everywhere, but humans resent their presence.  “Flesh Fairs” are held to destroy and publicly ridicule mecha, led by Lord Johnson-Johnson (Brendan Gleeson).  Human nature hasn’t degraded far enough for them to ridicule an 8-year-old boy, however, when David is under display.

David still searches for the Blue Fairy, still accompanied by Teddy and newly accompanied by Gigolo Joe – Hey Joe what do you know? (Jude Law).  He is led (guided by Dr. Know (Robin Williams)) to an underwater Manhattan.

The end to this film is an end for discussion, and I must admit I have a few issues with it myself.

David is reunited with Dr. Hobby, creator.  We learn that David is the new frontier.  Soon he will be available to anyone who wants a child that can love.  Suddeny, though, David leaves.  Hey Joe what do you know is taken by the police.  David finds the remains of a Pinnochio exhibit on an underwater Coney Island.  David and Teddy stay in the helicopter thing for, wait for it, two thousand years praying to the Blue Fairy.  After those two thousand years – the Mecha of the future and some sort of real Blue Fairy (Meryl Streep) find David and are able to reunite him with his mother for a day only.  The film ends after a perfect day spent with Monica.

I’m not in the habit of writing an entire synopsis for a simple review, that’s not my thing.  But I’ve been thinking about this movie so much that it helps me to sort it all out.  I’m even having difficulty throwing in sarcastic comments, made-up words and dumb jokes I’m thinking about this so hard.  Allow me to interject now with a big WTfreakingF???  Like, seriously.  I don’t even know what to think.  But now that I’ve gotten this out of my system, thanks for listening to that really boring summary instead of our usual review format.  I feel much better now, folks.  Anyway, there are the little things that bug me… for example though I liked Jude Law’s character I found the sexual innuendos unnecessary.  It gave an interesting perspective to David’s unique ability to truly love, but in the end it contributed nothing.  I also wonder what the point is of owning a perpetual 8-year-old.  But those are small things.

Many complain about the end.  Many are convinced that Spielberg took this film a completely different direction than was the intention of Kubrick.  (Spielberg has been quoted to say that this is false, Kubrick’s intentions were met in the finished product.  Apparently).  Granted, I had a WTF moment myself and it took two viewings to really place it but seeing as mecha cannot become human, this is sci-fi not fantasy, I found the ending appropriate.  David found closure.  His wish essentially came true.  He was able to spend a perfect day with his mother and do the things he wanted to.  Who knows what his future holds – he is one of a kind, now.

My issue concerns the almost-end.  Apparently he was led to Manhattan as part of a plan.  Apparently he was special.  Apparently the fellow scientists (including Miles from Lost!)  were dying to meet him.  He was made in the image of Doctor Hobby’s son for crying out loud!  Yet…. nothing else happens?  David… gets left?  Did they search for him?  What would have happened next?  Now do their Davids and Darlenes get shipped to the world?  We are led to this moment and nothing happens.  That threw me.  And really bothers me.

My admiration for this film outweighs my contempt for its faults, and although I was thrown by the ending it adds to my appreciation.  Though I love Spielberg and Sci-Fi always – the selling point is Haley Joel Osment.  He may be the very best child actor to have passed through cinema, and yeah I’m being serious.  It’s not easy for an adult to correctly display artificial emotions, yet he does it without a single misstep.  His eyes tell the story.  His performance could not be duplicated.  If anything, the film is worth it for him.

It is unique.  It is fascinating.  I was invested every second.  As with all works of art, it’s now left to interpretation, so do what you will with the ending.  I, however, highly recommend the film.  It must have been worth it if I’m already eager to watch it again. 🙂 8/10

On a side note – I want a Teddy.  That’s my kind of companion!

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

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Attack of the Clones picks up ten years after little Ani Skywalker became Obi Wan Kenobi’s padawan learner.  The galaxy is on the brink of a civil war.  There are still Sith lords on the loose, and star systems are threatening to leave the Republic.  After multiple assassination attempts on Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), team Anakin (who’s no longer a baby-faced kid but an angsty nineteen/twenty something year old – played, well, pretty awfully by Hayden Christensen) is on Padme’s detail and Team Obi Wan (Ewan McGregor) leaves to investigate the who and what behind the assassination attempts.

Anything else?  Oh yeah.  Anakin and Padme fall in love.

While Attack of the Clones is leagues ahead of Phantom Menace in most respects… it still has two issues.  Just two – no big deal, right?  Wrong.  Those two things are sort of, like, central to the entire prequel trilogy.  They’re really unfortunate things to mess up on:

Number 1?  Yeah.  Anakin.   I’m not sure who’s more to blame, Christensen or George Lucas.  Hayden aside, what kind of character do we have?  Some idiot who complains all the freaking time about things like sand and life being super unfair.  Unfair?  This is coming from a nobody who was literally brought out of the boonies to become an incredible somebody – all out of the goodness of a Jedi master’s heart.  Man, I wish he’d shut up.  I’ll give him some things, though.  I like him all right when he’s with Obi Wan.  His recklessness and cocky attitude are fitting and keep Obi in check.  I really like their relationship, actually.  (“If you spent as much time practicing your saber techniques as you did your wit you would rival Master Yoda as a swordsman.” “I thought I already did.” “Only in your mind, my very young apprentice.”)

Number 2?  That freakin’ romance.  Natalie Portman’s much better this time around, but I just couldn’t buy their relationship.  Zero chemistry.  And really, why the heck is she attracted to someone who’s so whiny and unlikeable anyway?  Right, I too get turned on by sandpeople slaughterin’ macho men… ?  She started out fine with her initial older sister-like disdain for Ani and the I-think-you-should-shut-up-kid look, but the next minute they’re frollicking in the grass.  Sheesh, man.  It’s all pretty dismissable, except the whole grab-a-quick-kiss-on-a-rhino’s-back thing. Now that really got me laughing.  Could you get any cheesier?

With those major bits out of the way let’s get to the good bits.

Love the Jar-Jar shut-down.  But did anyone else notice that he was the one who granted Palpatine emergency powers?  So he’s responsible for every… nevermind.  Limited Jar Jar is good.

This installment is full of “aha!” moments.  Such as…

  • Jango Fett is a stormtrooper.  Sorta.  At least, they all look like him.  Like father, like son – he too was a bounty hunter.
  • With that – stormtroopers used to be good!  The clones were on our side in The Clone Wars.
  • Owen and Beru get screen time.  Owen’s actually Anakin’s step brother through Shmi’s second (first?) marriage.  Great choices, they look like their future selves.
  • Death star plans? Yessss.

Being the SW nerd that I am, I dig any freaking second on other star systems.  Kamino, Coruscant, not s’much Tattooine, Geonosis, and Naboo (I’d live there!)  The galaxy-expansion is very exciting.  I’m also totally into the political intrigue that went behind the birth of the Empire.

I’m not gonna lie, I get a major adrenaline rush when all those jedi rush out with their lightsabers on Geonosis.  It’s the first time there has been more than three lightsabers present at any given time in the franchise, so that was freaking legit.  This is the golden age of the jedis – to see them in action is such a thrill.  It’s also pretty great to see Mace Windu (Sam’s the man L. Jackson) kick major trash.  The Yoda (Frank Oz) battle is pretty sweet too, what a mean green fighting machine.  Frankly though, I prefer his throw things at you with eyes closed approach better than lightsaberin’ it up.  He flips around so much, you’d think he could just chop his legs off being so small but whatev.  Yoda rocks no matter what.

Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) is pretty sweet, though Maul still rocks the ceiling off.  My personal favorite aspect of AotC is Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan.  What a dog, he’s jumping out of buildings, getting in more bar fights, and talking back to his apprentice.  A great character, he is.

The redeeming factors outweigh the major flaws.  This is a much better movie than Episode I, but I think it’s weaker regarding the bigger picture.  After watching Revenge of the Sith where Hayden isn’t quite so bad, if only he could’ve just been likeable in this one… it would have saved the entire trilogy.  If Anakin and Padme had been believable together in this one, Ep. III would make much more sense.  It’s the weakest link; it doesn’t tie the two together like it should.  Thank goodness for kick-A lightsaber battles. 7/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

August 7, 2010 at 11:34 am