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Film Prophet's Movie Reviews Page 14

 

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
Voices by Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Ian Abercrombie

Film Prophet's Review...
As an extra part that’s quite passive to the Clone Wars saga, one can't help but compare it to the real life franchise and Genndy Tartakovsky’s earlier televised animated series. Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan learner Ahsoka Tano find themselves on a mission that brings them in a scheme between Jabba the Hutt, Count Dooku, and Asajj Ventress. While that’s going on, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda lead the clone army against the dark side and the droid armies. Over a third of the movie features battle bots and clone troopers fighting each other. It really highlights title of the Clone Wars of wars with clone armies but nothing more. The movie is in fact a steer for an upcoming cartoon television series for the same thing. However, there was already a twenty-five episode series based on the Clone Wars by Genndy Tartakovsky that was super especially the final five episodes that opened up General Grievous, who wasn’t in this movie, leading into the beginning of the Episode III movie. Jabba the Hutt is present instead as he wasn’t in the movies until episode six. This should be a time period where other Jedi’s of the force get some time. However, they are overall unaccomplished without a storyline because they have none and no appearances really so make way for a storyline about rescuing and returning Jabba’s son, yea he has a son as implausible as that sounds. The story offers little to no insight if not then to the relationship between Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano. There was also an absence of Padmé throughout most of the movie until the last twenty or so minutes. Actually, Ahsoka Tano appears as the character who probably got the second most amount of screen time and then third is probably Captain Rex of the clone troopers. Anakin plays out as a master of a character who never did anything in the live-action movies. She is an inexperienced young girl apprentice who is probably there for the young audience of this film, when Anakin was typically treated as one early on. The rest of the majority of characters are already developed so there’s no one new the world hasn't seen yet, except for that one who is Ahsoka Tano. There’s little expository writing here because it's a piece between two movies. It can be further evidence that animation is typically outdone by its original live-action movie counterpart action. No live-action special effects necessary as it’s all done by animation. Tons of pompous shooting by clone troopers and droids are too many at hand. The notable detail of the animation is that of the character models. They are too human like to the actual real life performers but adding a few years younger on their faces with a more cartoon look. The human characters also seem wooden and stiff in movements especially around the head. They say very similar quotes like the real life films, as Mace Windu says for his cameo appearance, ‘this is a dark day for the republic.’ The main sith and apprentice in action are Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress, who is not nearly as striking displayed in Genndy’s version. Both are really stalemates since the fan-based audience knows what happens to them eventually in other pictures. The advice is to go with Genndy Tartakovsky’s series for an impressive, wholesome account of Clone Wars.

Final Grade: C/C+

The Jacket (2005)
Starring Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Daniel Craig, Kelly Lynch

Film Prophet's Review...
The movie centers on a soldier convicted of a murder when during his treatment in a psychiatric hospital, he begins to believe that he is traveling through time when locked in an asylum cabinet. In a nutshell, it’s completely melancholic. It begins with some awkward Iraq war opening that fades with green and black frames and then a continuation after a bloody death. The picture rarely stays still during this beginning and what that means is there are frequent cuts and time lapses when the story visits the past and present. The portrayal of individuals along with the way they dress and the muggy environment is gloomy as it is for everyone in the story. Due to the dismaying surroundings, nothing happy revolves. Brody’s character is a despondent man who isn't sure of himself. There are unresolved dilemmas to trace back the picture but they mostly have upsetting results and confusion. The best times are when it slows down for some real development in current state, which is the future state, between the characters like between Knightley and Brody in a small house together or Brody and anyone else than showing different times too fast. A viewer can't really tell what is current and what could even be fake because Brody’s character’s memory isn't so clear as the story jumps around in his head and it’s messed up in chronological order. It makes more sense as the movie proceeds onwards and improves from a rocky beginning though. The center part settles down and completely blows away how poorly it did for the first twenty minutes as the second and third acts had strong acting. Nevertheless, it muddles with several genres. One can come to a conclusion that the main genre of this film is horror due to the uncomfortable flashing images of his memories, tight dark spaces, and context of haphazard treatment of drugs and needles, but more closer to the psychological kind. It can also be science fiction with the time traveling, and then some romance pieces between two characters still with horror in an asylum. There’s really no action, but not a problem here. It’s appropriately paced, but the story isn’t that logical or new. Still, it's steady and should keep a viewer's attention when it opens up new details of the storyline of the approaching death that always circles around between times.

Final Grade: C+/B-

Tropic Thunder (2008)
Starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Jay Baruchel, Nick Nolte, Bill Hader, Steve Coogan

Film Prophet's Review...
Through a series of freak accidents, a group of actors who pretend to shoot a big-budget war movie becomes a reality on them of the soldiers they are portraying in south east Vietnam. The false war-comedy is a satire on Hollywood and its personalities that really want to make a hit action film. It starts off as a movie adaptation on a book the movie proposes with then makes it out of some gratuitous war gore and profanity slurs looking like a mock on the movie Platoon. There’s an overabundance of disdain male voices in anger. There are lots of loud shooting and over the top swearing as none of it starts off as humorous. So in this case since it's neither that or sincere, it's just hysterical all over the place. It’s an exaggerated vulgar mess of disorderly foul language that attempts to be comical and tries incredibly hard too often at coming up with funny images, lines, and names. The movie doesn't really devolve until a surprise accident when the crew lands and moves on without the director in tact. It settles down on a puzzling aroma and follows the cast as one on a straight course together, but then they go off on tangents too soon and this is when the movie is split into poor pieces. These pieces are long and tedious acts of arguments that weren’t as much fun to watch as it was probably making them. When the crew splits up, notably without Stiller, it falls back down to excessive vulgar lines that were never funny from the start. There are plenty of star appearances from Tom Cruise to Matthew McConaughey, but fewer characters competing for attention was needed. First off, each solider of the crew in the movie is characterized as dimwitted star actors with tracks of flopped movies that lead up to this one they're filming together. The middle of the movie has no goal as it comes with fast transitions to the next loud noises. The panda sequence with Stiller was drawn out and unnecessary also. The comedy all-around was crude and fundamentally unfunny and artificial. The only bits that were the least bit humorous were the substandard entertainment awards dialogue parts. Though all of its comic scenes were vulgar, they lacked intellect and hit low to resound anything gratifying or meaningful. ‘You tell the world what happened here - what happened here - I don't know, but you need to tell them.’

Final Grade: C/C+

Pineapple Express (2008)
Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny R. McBride, Kevin Corrigan, Rosie Perez, Gary Cole

Film Prophet's Review...
A stoner and his buddy dealer are on the run from the cops and a group of hitmen after the stoner witnesses that a cop committed a murder. It's a droll and uncouth show and tell of smoke and weed constantly on screen. If not, usually then there is a discussion about it or a part that leads up to it or ensues. ‘Smell it, enjoy, it's like god's vagina.’ The content of the film is obviously not suitable for younger audiences with its blatant brass humor and soiled language. It’s easily labeled as a stoner comedy without seeing a second of the film and just seeing the poster. This is not a typical don't do drugs kids message, yet there are kids in the movie who are given pot to smoke and do so without hesitation. In certainty, there’s no redeeming quality to take away from this movie. The conversations that take place are uninteresting and irrelevant while smoking. Somehow they enter a short Jeff Goldblum talk that goes nowhere like most things in the film. The shootout and rumble in the drug lord's factory near the end is amateurish. It looks like a parody of drug heist films but the comedy is not reasonably funny, mainly due to the script. The timing of comic antics is not on target because it's flamboyant and flat all the way through and the cast is effortless at it. Everyone acts dumb and then there's a character to say how dumb the dumb one just acted on There's also actually no nudity for producer Judd Apatow this time around. Most of the humor intended isn’t jokes but rather silly accidents where they end up troubled. These accidents are really noisy, like when Rogen tries to explain his complex day of mishaps to his girlfriend's parents at a house dinner. They panic and act edgy, especially on Seth Rogen’s part, combining their mishaps that’ll connect to the next series of misadventures in a distorted story where cops commit an unknown murder and young men who do pot are the leads. The continuity in the movie is unclear as it jumps all over the place even though not much happens especially at a mediocre pace. The comedy is more bloated than it being funny because there are too many absurd situations that don’t have any wit and contain shallow objections and outlandish violence.

Final Grade: C

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
Starring Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, Luke Ford, Michelle Yeoh, John Hannah, Isabella Leong

Film Prophet's Review...
In China, a father and son join with others to unearth the first Emperor who shape-shifts anything but was cursed by a female wizard several centuries ago. It is another needless and dated Hollywood sequel that completes a trilogy of the franchise, excluding The Scorpion King featuring The Rock. This movie didn't improve on anything the first two did and the cast is caught in the surroundings of overblown computer generated graphics. The special effects are one of the reasons what made the first two Mummy films delightful to watch. Large massive battles won't do it anymore and the one here near the end ranks no where high overall and the action sequences were boring. Characters just make a disaster of things in the way and trying to hold on without falling off the ride of a mediocre chase scene. These action parts just moved the story to the next locale and in between them, there’s plenty of mindless rambling about nothing interesting. Movies like these don’t have that novelty anymore when the technical framework is magnified more than it should be than any artistic ability or natural talent from the cast. It is after all taking an adventure-comedy approach, but it is really boring-impractical one. The guy who plays Fraser’s son is about twenty, so the age difference between the father and son is completely far-fetched. The son is given plenty of screen time that he diminishes Fraser’s role as the hero he was in the past two. Here, they share it. Another part that is missing is the playful chemistry between Fraser and Weisz. The cast also includes Jet Li so some expectations are set. Nevertheless, this continues his recent streak of three poor blockbuster movies in a row when he isn't in the main lead role. The Chinese talent and setting in the movie are a squander. Just because they are speaking in Chinese doesn't mean they are fine authentic pieces. They have fighting sequences with elaborate angles and editing and also loud sound and visual effects. An uninteresting prologue about an ambitious past of Chinese warriors through some typical ancient battles commonly seen opens up the story. The only cool parts visually to witness are the grotesque moments with special effects when seeing people melt or burn on fire to death… and maybe the abdominal snowmen, though the avalanche section is unbelievable. When a group of people walk through some unknown prehistoric dark pathways await something miraculous like artifacts that isn't, it’s just plain. There’s essentially little joy, really bland one-liners, and no true tension. The villain dragon emperor was all CGI including anything he did. By moving the setting from Egypt to China, there are no actual mummies to be found but rather zombies, skeletons, and such.

Final Grade: C-/C

Step Brothers (2008)
Starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn

Film Prophet's Review...
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly cuss each other out and that's the movie, which is also among the most amusing comedies of its decade. They are two immature, overgrown boys who quite haven't grown up to an adult maturity level as they live in the same house with their newlywed parents. Along with their childish antics, they are always eating or drinking even when sleeping. They have a sense of entitlement to specifically ask for food and television demands at certain times from their parents which brings back adolescent tantrums. From the first time the two brothers sleep next to each other in two beds the dialogue and chemistry between these two are a riot. ‘As soon as you close your eyes, I'm gonna punch you square in the face.’ Yes, it is enjoyable to watch them fight and mess up the house from sleepwalking in briefs to creating bunk beds. The writing for impolite quotes was superlative to most comedies around the time of release distinct from stale, dull ones. The sex and anatomical references are top notch and original; also, look out for The Boats N Hoes music video and wearing neighborhood costumes. Mainly for the first third of the film, the brothers toss back and forth funny and totally ingenious verbal abuses and there’s plenty of yelling with the f bombs. There’s a lot of foul language, but anytime a down to earth conversation takes place, it is kept very short and there's all sorts of goofy vile words or actions that soon follow. The comedy goes the distance for an hour and a half for each minute, which is unique these days. In addition, it stays truly funny with a combination of both kid and adult humor all into one. The casting that fills the supporting crew is phenomenal. The parents fit seamlessly so that the brothers in the movie are still the stronger title characters and individual stars. However, Adam Scott and Kathryn Hahn who enter after the third of the movie are show stealers; even Rob Riggle who comes in later. ‘Pow-Pow!’ Adam Scott plays the younger, more successful brother to Ferrell’s character and he was outstanding playing off a cocky, conceited guy. Kathryn Hahn as his unhappy wife can't control her desirability to certain character, as this continues to put forth laughter without ever going sour. There are tons of raunchy sequences that are actually funny bit by bit. The two brothers have juvenile mannerisms and go as outrageous with a backyard burial. When they try to aim for job interviews, they completely throw themselves into oddball outings as they’re all over the place, and remember the name Pam. There are certainly many laughs and that’s what comedies should do, unlike these uprising independent comedies with soft material that try to be serious sometimes. Audiences do must slip away into the ground of hilarity and undo any sort of sophistication or complexity while the happy ending sequence is really amid the most humorous ones to date.

Final Grade: B+/B

The Dark Knight (2008)
Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman

Film Prophet's Review...
Batman, with the help of Lieutenant James Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the Gotham city streets of madness. They soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known as The Joker. Distinctive appearance differences than previous actors who portrayed Batman were a heavier suit, a very husky, deep voice by Bale, and instantaneous flashes of emergence and disappearance that were too swift for anyone to notice. Nevertheless, Bruce Wayne was still Bruce Wayne scrolling around as a playboy with ladies in helicopter entrances and private ship cruises. This Batman movie is the most adult superhero movie ever and the less cartoon type of portrayal of the franchise ever seen, topping Tim Burton’s Batman and even Batman Begins. It’s mature and thoughtful in how to open, act, and complete an action scene not with computer graphics, but by special twists and climatic situations after the next that keep up. There are rarely any quiet periods during the two and a half hours. It wasn't about designing suits and gadgets and spending an hour of that like in The Iron Man - there is none of that. The movie is a restless and invigorating motion picture. Director and writer Christopher Nolan's trick was to operate with multiple summit scenes at the same moment that linked to each other. The way the movie works at an exceptional tempo is through multiple scenes reaching their peak going on simultaneously with that endless musical score behind them. It could have been at least four hours at an average pace probably if it wasn't for that editing technique that made it so vigorous. There are cut scenes that last for no more than a minute and they go back and forth to raise the vivacity and how characters are always involved at every moment that something awful, that is super entertaining, is about to release. Along with that, various plotlines, several character arcs, and plenty of twists and turns keep the engine going as audiences are on constant edge. New characters, like the Joker and his cards and Harvey Dent and his coin flipping, enter effortlessly into the story and they’re developed enough like protagonist Bruce Wayne. To think about it, Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard was the enduring villain in Batman Begins and he was a forgettable villain and Scarecrow in this movie didn't last long here at all. There are so many characters who all receive their share of time from Eric Roberts as Salvatore Maroni to Chin Han as Lau. Every performer in the film brings an elite acting status to their role as they were a true ensemble despite this being a title character's movie. Therefore, when Batman is not around, the development of Harvey Dent or even the unsung hero in James Gordon by Gary Oldman shines through effectively. They all transformed themselves into their roles and no one did it better than Ledger as the Joker. Ledger disappears into the Joker so early and vividly that the audience instantly forgets it is Ledger. When the Joker leaves that hospital alone in daylight on boards a school bus to when he takes punches in the interrogation – his big parts are all brilliant. The image of the Joker from the outside opening from the inside of a side of a circus trailer truck during an underground chase scene with prison transporting mobiles around it was poster perfect. The roundtable with the criminals and the money Asian guy on a television when Joker steps in for the disappearing pencil trick is the best solo scene in the film not interrupted by several action scenes. The only thing that the movie could have done without was that whole spying high-tech monitor thing when Batman’s eyes bright up blue and Lucius Fox could listen and spot anyone for him. High octane energy is accomplished by Hans Zimmer's music score that lasts for about the entire movie. People fall in an instant, the action choreography is clean especially when Batman is beating down guys in a bass of a beat singly and in bunches - look out for that quick scene in the club. Oh, and beat those dogs down, Batman. There are incredible slanted camera views that open parts of the movie from way above the city. What drama movies can do in one hour, this movie did in five minutes each with the bank heist opening and first courtroom scene and they’re more impressive than any others. The script is clever with some of the finest dialogue to date for a comic book film and it's full of foreshadowing metaphors visually and verbally. There’s never one downbeat of a word spoken. "I feel we are destined to do this forever!"

Final Grade: A/A+

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Luke Goss, Doug Jones, Anna Walton, John Hurt

Film Prophet's Review...
Mythological creatures tail between the mythical world and Earth. Prince Nuada attempts to reunite the three pieces of the crown to call forth the magical Golden Army to destroy the humans and reclaim the Earth. Hellboy and his team hold off Prince Nuada and his rebellious creatures before it’s too late. The emphasize of the film is the visual style which brings out the evil graphics of demons striking a hell affect, but falls under a style over substance trap. Guillermo del Toro capitalizes with his illustrious interpretations and fantastic imagination for what is really called eye-candy in movies. His designs were worked into the movie to add a contrast between the human world and the mythical world with trolls and fairies. Everything first-rate in the movie is special effects, sound, and the creature costumes. The computer generated images don't jump out and scream fake; rather people would say that's cool for the allure. They come first and it's so amazingly uncanny that the rest is left behind. There’s not much to say about how it begins. The title character's entrance is fifteen minutes late. The other part of the title - Golden Army – didn’t do anything. Hellboy appears slacking, with a bad temper sometimes, and who acts exhausted, but there’s an adjustment from the dark, sinister tone that Prince Nuada did well with. The script is something the nineties decade would put on screen. It wasn’t wholly written as the main attention was to the visual effects and how action parts would end in a brief pausing moment of relief. None of the action is crazy or outstanding to changing the story, especially when it resorts to fists, artillery, and kicks. When there’s no action, the characters often slow things down from the display of action and the anticipation of it to come. Selma Blair starts off as cardboard until the last half hour when she drags along with Hellboy. Ron Pearlman's performance as Hellboy seems abnormally subdued and didn’t have the same amount of charm he had in the first film. There was little passion or spark, unlike the villain Prince Nuada, played by Luke Goss, who brought some intensity and emotion to his role, but loses his magnetism after his first few scenes. As a whole, the movie lacks continuity throughout and from the original with dry involvement into the story. It never really mixes together. Audiences might not remember where the first left off because all the introductions are just hollow. There’s no reason to continue the movie after an hour because the pacing is uneven. Pacing was a big problem. While the action scenes were fine, what takes between them are dull character inter-plays and none of it really connects with anyone watching. This is applicable from the half hour to hour part. The characters weren't exactly consistent too. At times, characters are either smart or sappy, but then forgotten and useless.

Final Grade: B-

Funny Games U.S. (2008)
Starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearhart

Film Prophet's Review...
The remake intently explores the coercion surrounding a family in a hostage situation at their isolated lakeside home. People who go on vacation can still even find violence in peaceful, but lonely settings. The coercion s is all due to some spilled eggs by two young guys who like golf and end up being repellent psychopaths that torture and kill for no real reason. The audio sometimes sounds like voiceover dubs. This is because most of the actual violence is off-screen during protracted scenes when the audience reacts to violence. The violence though is less ample to the tension and stress that happen. There are plenty of still shots almost every minute of showing something else where the audio isn't coming from. It remains motionless for stationary scenes. In the beginning, this creates that nothing can go wrong, but it begins in a way that it's too quiet and at rest that if anything slightly uneasy happens, it raises a brief alarm. The director is not afraid of using these long takes of exasperating scenes after another. It allows time for audiences to debate what’s going on as they watch unsettling situations where the two guys manipulate the family with utter still kindness. 'It's easier when things are polite.' These moments bring up questions to the audience, such as, how would one react and what would one do differently. The two psychopaths never raise their voices and they’re kind subtle ways. The whole rewind remote control part is very ridiculous too. There’s no loud shrieking music score for the most part and it's all based on the soft and calm ambiance at the start. When there is music, it is an odd selection of heavy metal. The most annoying part in the film happens to be in the background when a race car driving telecast is on for a bit. Naomi Watts is central piece and attraction to the film. The story is straightforward and otherwise bland, but unpredictable. There’s hardly any gore or jump scares as in most horror films allude to with horrific torture. It does what it sets out to do without going under juvenile gore, which is to make it apprehensive and unpleasant. It’s devastation that’s infrequently shown in movies and it's all better when Naomi Watts, who excels in these types of acting situations, is on screen for it. ‘So, the disaster is under control.’ There is nothing funny about Funny Games. The whole agenda to the film is to coldly disturb through a psychological violation of humans as the family of three tries to survive and hold on.

Final Grade: B

Penelope (2008)
Starring Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, Simon Woods, Peter Dinklage, Reese Witherspoon

Film Prophet's Review...
The fantasy tale is a modern day account about a young woman stuck in a rich family mansion with an appearance curse since birth as she sets out to discover her true self and break the curse. Audiences have seen a similar synopsis like that across many fantasy romance films, so one might ask what separates this from the pile. The way Ricci and McAvoy’s characters communicate initially in separate rooms was unique, but didn’t last that long. The tale is very light and whimsical, but it's no different than Shrek and Beauty and the Beast. Set in a British bright environment that's very detailed to picture, it opens to some confusing narration about family births, affairs, and boys flying out of windows. This opening part, along with the final act, hurt the film the most. The storytelling is a mess in the beginning, but after a half hour, it's actually bearable the rest of the way until the near end. It ends with a slapdash final twenty minutes. There’s plenty of mourning about face defects going on and how male suitors are scared to see her distracting pig nose. Besides that, the girl has a swing set in her bedroom. Nonsense flashbacks occur that take the story out of its existing chapter. Luckily, this only happens in the first twenty minutes from the problematic screenplay. All this is part of the narration centering on an abnormal appearance before McAvoy comes on screen, who appears about twenty minutes late and as for Reese, an hour late. McAvoy helps portions of the film with his carefree, uncaring demeanor his character has as he is about the money at first. He puts a real man aspect into it for a while, but he’s still slightly playful like everyone and everything else in the film. There’s lots of overacting, mainly by O'Hara and Woods, done probably on purpose. Dinklage has an outstanding supporting act with a versatile, but discreet role. He held up his act very well with slight comedy too. Ricci also looked like she aged younger, but the film was made about three years before it was released in the states. The middle parts of the movie has a hide and seek relationship with Ricci and her parents, leaving McAvoy’s part astray and it splits their stories in two and divided during the movie. More hide and seek with Ricci happens and middling characters like Reese and everyone else besides Ricci and McAvoy mainly have little purpose but they still alter. Simple plastic surgery was rarely mentioned and that would change and remove the whole ugly element, but it was a curse. It’s flawed, but not inherently.

Final Grade: B-/C+

Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Voices by Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu

Film Prophet's Review...
The story follows a Panda named Po, the laziest of all the animals in the Valley of Peace, who rises to be a martial arts liberator to save the valley. The masters are shocked to see that this plump panda bears the mark of the one Dragon Warrior. It begins with a history anecdote on ancient Chinese landscapes about martial arts with some wild action sequence then leading into the Panda’s mundane noodle serving life. Jack Black voices the congenial overweight panda. The rest of the characters made up around him are awkward looking animals where some aren't easy to put in a category other than warm-blooded animals. The Panda’s laziness is not funny, cute, or amiable… initially, which is one early attribute noticeable. Sometimes it is, but not often. There are way too many animated movies around the same release time frame with fuzzy cute little animals, so it's nothing that new in that matter in bringing some being or object to life in animation, like toys were instead of bunny rabbits. However, the Kung Fu action and the morals in the story brought the dynamics to the movie. The martial arts fight scenes represent an advance in computer animation. All the fights are really well-choreographed and creative, like when the villain Tai Lung escapes from imprisonment. When the Panda tries out martial arts for the first time on display, he hurts himself doing so and this physical humor continues throughout the film. It’s the kind of fast stuff that the original Looney Tunes would make where most of the action defies all physics laws. What looked like a poor promising start turns into a vibrant tale due to the debut of the villain character, the skilled Furious Five, and Po’s understudy to Master Shifu. After twenty minutes, it builds plenty of momentum and development past the uncertainties about the Panda’s abilities and unfit body and reluctance from the masters. There’s also lots of mystic dialogue with the masters talking about destiny and so on. ‘There are no accidents.’ It presents life lessons to believe in one’s self and Po fits the bill because he tries toward his dream despite his obvious flaws. Another strong aspect to the film is that it’s very family-friendly and tells the story in an orderly ninety minutes and won’t seem bloated. There are no weird jokes or references and no bad martial arts pieces. The movie’s first-rate story's pace works in favor to the film in keeping it brisk and bracing with an interesting story that has heart to morals, vivid situations, and tons of warm features with one of them being relationship between Master Shifu and Po that may bring tears of joy. ‘I'm not dying you idiot, I am simply at peace, finally.’ It ranks up there with any top recent animation storyline. ‘There is no secret ingredient.’

Final Grade: B+/A-

Hancock (2008)
Starring Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Eddie Marsan, David Mattey

Film Prophet's Review...
Hancock, a man with superhero powers and untouchable to the common person, attempts to repair his image to the people with a public relations professional. Convinced to fix his torn image so people feel completely safe and happy, the unsympathetic character slightly transforms to a superhero. The public relations professional shows him random things like video clips and comic books and then watches and listens to the news, media, and other people arguing against Hancock who doesn’t argue at all. Acts of kindness will reward appreciation and demand. Hancock is dressed in street bum attire and appears tired all the time so that's where the sunglasses and liquor bottles come into place. He drinks alcohol in the air and commits haphazard car wrecks and crashes. Cars fly up by the indefinite strength of Hancock and more destruction occurs. Unidentified are his origin of powers for about an hour as he’s a man of a few words. ‘I'm Hancock and I drink, that's all.’ This is a movie about a fictional character without an opening background. Hancock tosses cars to safety or for some other interior motive and that’s it. There are not a lot of words being exchanged with Hancock and viewers aren't sure who he really is or if this is an occupation or who his family is. ‘I don't hate him; I don’t even know the guy.’ It skips any sort of introduction to anyone and mostly opens a new character with Hancock coming to rescue, or dragging or flipping a car with people inside or around it. Solitary moments of him doing nothing for a minute happen and there are often a-hole and juvenile jokes too. There is usually an arch nemesis or villain with equal or similar power as the hero character. For at least an hour, that element is missing and once it arrives, it changes for the better. The movie is divided in two parts. The first is the transition to superhero when he enters some alcohol and anger treatment in prison and the second is when he learns the truth about himself and the past. Theron plays a miserable wife of Bateman to Hancock throughout, but all this changes after about an hour with a surprise one night. This surprise was a much needed change and these surprises keep coming because the first hour or so was so vacant and void of knowing anything about Hancock and the closing half opens to new heights with serendipitous territory than Hancock simply flying and tossing cars up. The rumble in the hospital is the film's tense action piece that follows up on all these abrupt changes and surprises in life or death situations.

Final Grade: B-/C+

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Starring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd

Film Prophet's Review...
‘I’m not looking for anything serious, just sexual activity’ says it all. Devastated Peter, played by Segel, takes a Hawaii vacation to deal with a recent break-up with his television star girlfriend, Sarah Marshall, played by Bell. However, she travels to the same resort along with her new boyfriend. The comedy film is static when it hunches on bawdy sexual content for laughs frequently. All of the comedy surrounds explicit content, even the original songs. It becomes no longer shocking or slightly appealing after a while when the movie opens with a big junk of similar material for a long stretch. The movie then repeats itself. Something reminds Peter of his ex-girlfriend every single minute and she crops up suddenly on video or in person. He either weeps for a moment or follows her. There are other times of him singing a Dracula song he composed several times. This film accurately portrays the movie's title though because he can't forget her due to unfortunate chances to him. Segel puts on a sadly discontent face and his attitude limits any parts of laughter. At one point, he is playing the piano and weeping for about ten seconds. There's only a select few characters that matter, but he receives almost all of the attention. He’s not a funny character, but others around him try to insert themselves he sees at restaurants and beaches. These range from Jonah Hill as a restaurant and hotel host, Paul Rudd as a surfing bum, and Bill Hader as a step-brother. The majority of the people around Segel are Kunis and Bell, the main females, who don't receive anything to laugh about really. Kristen Bell as the title character of Sarah Marshall has the capability for a solid act, but this role has an unremarkable magnitude. In actual fact, the person who garners a few laughs is Russell Brand as the rock singer, about sex of course. ‘It's a metaphor for a crap movie.’ There’s also a satire mock on television attraction with Bell’s character, but still the base is sex for this movie. There are a lot of sex jokes, but they're only that and none of it is funny. Seeing male nudity on screen restricts any innovation on screen or verbally. There are no stirring scores or loud scenes and it remains relatively light and lazy, especially the last half hour. It’s a very similar movie to The Heartbreak Kid which was released a few months before this film. Both follow the same thin and gentle premise of melancholy guy split between an old girl and a new girl on an exotic location, except this one has more raunchiness than romance. While it may be considered a romantic-comedy, it is no way a family type of film.

Final Grade: C+

WALL·E (2008)
Voices by Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Sigourney Weaver, John Ratzenberger, Fred Willard

Film Prophet's Review...
A robot who collects trash, communicates in beeps, and copes for fondness sends a message to the human race about the environment and physical motivation. This robot is also of its own kind. Wall•E’s creation is unknown, but the humans left behind a robot like this to clean off the planet of pollution and trash as the humans are in a lazy state of instant change via trend advertisements like ‘Cupcake in a cup’ or new colors on a spaceship station. The other robot in the movie is Eve, a female who is gentle and tough at the same time. She ignores the affection that Wall•E shows but there’s no shame in it. Take two lighthearted robots and start them off like little kids or even cavemen playing then send them off as rescuers who make the decisions they make that leave a lasting impact on the world and won't let it crush them. The audience learns about these robots through the couple’s interaction with little moving things they experience for the first time. The tenderness of the movie falls on the two robots. They’re playful robots condensed with poor language and milieu. One can even point out similarities to an animated kids’ version of the Space Odyssey film. The polluted Earth full of garbage and bad soil is reduced to dry colors of orange and brown mostly… that is until the movie heads to a spaceship planet of vibrant colors that Pixar is typically associated with. However, even the dirt on Earth looks gorgeous. There’s great detail in the animation as every object the robots play around with looks sharply rusty and dirty. Since the central two characters are robots, there is a lack of English dialogue. During this time before the robots launch off in space to discover humans, there’s some songs sung in English language and Fred Willard would appear randomly and talk in a holographic form. Actually, the most attempted spoken words are the names of the two robots. Both robots soon grow unconditionally after they cultivate through tiny gestures. They tailgate one another when one is unconscious and moving around by some other vehicle means. This happens for a real long time as they chase each other around the spaceship station with Thomas Newman’s hypnotic and loud music score not letting up. It extends the time of the film that probably could have been made as a short animated film because it’s so simple. Nearly the entire movie is a dash of liberation and comic adventures in a galaxy. The moments cut off from music and finally slow down are the film’s most sensitive areas showing it may be possible that nothing lasts forever… momentarily.

Final Grade: B

Wanted (2008)
Starring James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Common, Thomas Kretschmann, Chris Pratt

Film Prophet's Review...
The movie follows a young man played by McAvoy who is told his long-lost father is a recent deceased assassin who was at the top. He is recruited into a fraternity organization of assassins and trained to follow in his father's footsteps and inherit his ability. As straight as that is, there is no one scene or area that’s dragged or long. It comes with plenty of adrenaline and noise in action sequences of carnage between short conversations. There’s also a case of twists near the final dozens of minutes that a viewer could have thought of but probably won’t since there’s no time to slow down and ponder with all the pounding flashes on screen. It opens with a cynical and sarcastic narration voiceover and shifts to severe, extreme violence. ‘Six weeks ago, I was ordinary and pathetic, just like you.’ He is the character to root for and his transformation from accountant manager to assassin is somewhat believable through the callous training sequences, which is after a standout scene where his attitude swings at his workplace. When he’s ready to start his initiation to the fraternity, the training he receives is physical and aggressive and rough to watch. A big portion of it was his transition from his 'I'm sorry' demeanor to a total valiant man where he meets specialized members of the fraternity to prepare him. The main one is Angelina Jolie’s character who takes McAvoy as her trainee and oozes babe material constantly with her physique and boastful slight smile. The violence is so exaggerated and unrealistic and on top of that, the film decelerates and accelerates moments during action frequently and makes it very perceptible. These are speedy pans, cuts to bullets curving, a mix of noises, bullets countering and hitting each other, and cars going untamed at all sorts of angles. Besides the action, more loud and rapid zooms are on annoyances like anxiety attacks, a boss, waking up to trains, and flies. The enormous array of sound effects is loud and violent, resultant to the fatal conduct smoking bullets, rage, havoc, and Angelina Jolie.

Final Grade: B-

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Starring Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent

Film Prophet's Review...
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg combine their craftsmanship of visual effects and escapades behind the main sight of frame with a nostalgic style dated back to a fifties appeal from an eighties era. Harrison Ford is back as Indiana Jones as a college professor and archaeologist while Shia LaBeouf plays a motorcycle-riding youngster in what appears to be a sidekick role to reel in the teenage audience to the film. The real sidekick always has been John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, who erratically shows up in scenes to dig Indy out of trouble in a quick getaway, but he’s not in this one. Shia's character, with his little knife and comb, proves time after time that he is skilled at combats and getting away from instant danger without verbally saying he can do it. Shia in general is no problem to this film. Some people will even forget he is in the movie after a late introduction. At one moment while he is fighting and defending on top of two moving vehicles in a forest, Indiana even grins and looks marveled. Igor Jijikine steps in as a villainous Russian Colonel, second to Blancett's straightforward Soviet agent. Marion and Ford demonstrate some of the same chemistry they had a couple decades ago. John Hurt's Oxley as an old colleague makes Ford's character feel younger too. Primitive Indians were abundantly featured as background characters in the other films as this time it is weird and small indigenous peoples who get in the way. Set in the late fifties, Indiana Jones with his whip expertise is up against Soviet agents in race to obtain a mysterious crystal skull and its knowledge. There’s a wider area of mythology and science-fiction than what’s in the first three films. Even though the third one’s pursuit was the Holy Grail, it wasn't so much religious. In every Indiana Jones movie, it starts up with an incredible breaking action sequence. In this one, it happens in the Nevada desert warehouse that showed in the end of the first movie. The movie goes from this, roaming around from locations, to legend discussions, to infinite adventures, and then to a display of structural design, in order. Indiana and crew are amazed at what they see as they get further to what's coming at the end. Long-winded discussions about old artifacts do happen near the end of the first third of the film. This goes over the top somewhat, just like the adventures, when Shia and Harrison go over some legends and myths particularly in a prison cell, but no more than what is in the Pirates and Narnia films which are mere copycats of the original Indiana Jones movies. The movie keeps up the adventures because that's what the movie is rather than centering on the main object of pursuit and telling stories about the origin of the Skull mostly. It's apparent that from the first movie to the next and therefore after, more unbelievable maneuvers and escapes happen during high-octane adventures or chase sequences that effortlessly passes by. This forth one continues into that function. It is an Indiana Jones movie as a reminder, therefore is bizarre, fantastic, adventurous, and very spectacular. The level of unbelievably is high, but amazing from improbable acts. Chases and the like stir up for more than half of the movie divided up into spurring parts that all vary in length. The examples are the refrigerator, swinging across vines, riding on a tree, an explosive rocket mobile, and trips down waterfalls. Other features are ancient bone remains, deadly insects, several rope tie ups, poison shooters, and oh yea, snakes. The action is loose and the pursuits under extraordinary circumstances display teasers, but it’s all easily entertaining and finishes up with a pleasing ending.

Final Grade: B+/B

Iron Man (2008)
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir

Film Prophet's Review...
Most comic book series movies deal with transformation from smart human to superpower abilities after a freak accident or experiment and then dealing with the balance of the two egos. This movie takes the route of building and crafting the suit more than any other comic book movie. As for the other definition of comic, there aren't really any comic antics. Entirely, there are none, and it is a film by Jon Favreau who knows something about comic antics. The recipe for comic book movies is all the same, adding in the arch-nemesis and female part who are interested in both personalities. Paltrow has plenty of moments where her conversations are voided out by the audience in unexciting areas in the middle of the movie. There is a very late and puny introduction of Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane who tries to build a replica suit against Iron Man. Not only is he late to do so, but it takes over twenty minutes before any sense or signs of Iron Man to birth. There’s also an underused Terrence Howard who is second billed as he pops up randomly throughout the film. The difference between other comic book characters is the appeal of the real human alter-ego. Tony Stark isn’t very interesting and his playboy story is thin and his romance is generic. Iron Man's real identity is billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, who develops an armored suit that lets him fly and shoot rays. The development in the beginning of the movie is a bit short for something new, original, or shocking, just like in Superman Returns. Here, it displays Tony Stark being rich and ordinary, gaining little history or knowledge about him. It didn’t explain who Tony Stark is, rather just show and skip the tell part, devoid of surprises and big scenes. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, but it isn’t easy to play a character that is selfish and wealthy but still be somewhat likable performed by Downey Jr. The movie is about Tony Stark, as he moves as an engineer for weapons in Afghanistan. The title character executes like a repairman developing and testing his armored suit, and also living like a playboy, than fighting many crimes in the Iron Man suit. The film spends much area on Stark working on his Iron Man suit. Tony hangs around in a desert building missile captures over a half hour and the movie barely has the time to gain momentum. There are a handful of disaster and torture scenes away from the California complex. It kicks in gear when Iron Man is fighting in the suit finally, but that only happens during a brief portion, mainly during one exhilarating one on one battle in the streets before the end. People coming to see Iron Man expect to see an action movie which is the real attraction of the film. Action can not be displayed by loud and fast music scores and having characters raise voices or escaping from violence. When Iron Man first gets together, he smashes a path through fired bullets and artillery. In RoboCop, there were moral dilemmas and corrupted law enforcers and politicians and it had archaic looking machines that were believable and threatening at the same time. The RoboCop movie and character is far better and Iron Man is just below adequate to it. In this movie, Iron Man is a bigger RoboCop who can fly with less justice. The fighting crime occurs late, such as way past the hour mark to the first one, but it’s all too late to matter a great deal to the big screen adaptation.

Final Grade: B-/C+

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008)
Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, Rob Corddry, Roger Bart, Neil Patrick Harris, Danneel Harris, Eric Winter

Film Prophet's Review...
The sequel follows the pot-smoking duo as they try to outrun the authorities from one whole ignorant misunderstanding after being suspected as terrorists when they’re on board a flight to Amsterdam. It is a continuation right after the end of the first movie when they decided to head to Amsterdam, except they don't start smoking pot right away; nevertheless, it's still there. This sequel involves more of an attraction of romance agendas than before, talking and dreaming about it, which halts plenty of attempts of a stoner comedy. It goes away from it soon enough by having them combined. However, it's not so much different than the first movie after all with all its stoner misadventures and raucous, graphic content. Even though the first one was somewhat awful on the grotesque jokes and such, it still brought a crazed and admirable status surrounding White Castle. One can’t really say that about Amsterdam since it was featured and discussed for no more than five minutes, but both of the movies shared the same format of misfortunes. Like the first one, they come across eccentric characters. Here, they are inbred southerners, Klansman, an old lady on the plane who fears terrorists, a national security fool, and so on. It can be a movie that people would walk away from. It's not classy so expect no limit of cheapness and sex appeal, but it is rarely profane or vulgar. Dirty and disgusting may be the case between dream fantasies as though the best comes from Neal Patrick Harris and a unicorn. It’s easily raunchy with the drug and adult content on the goofy side. Nudity content is high, for instance, the bottomless party that Harold and Kumar randomly attended. The movie opens a can of outrageous toilet and fart jokes, but nothing to make an instant laughter, like an interruption of ice fishing and Americans on doughnuts. The jokes don't even have to be verbal as some just slide in there for a few seconds that are odd from the flow that can not be named because those are the film's surprises really, aside from the reprised roles. The occurrences of these aren’t much but conversations remain upbeat. Most are planted inside conversations mostly relying on the dialogue from the guys. The comedy is mostly through two sides which are the guys and the Homeland Security mishap. Often, they’re coming from some racial and cultural stereotypes and stoner behavior. In all the jam going on and stereotypes of characters, it is Harold and Kumar’s friendship like the first movie that remains the constant comic.

Final Grade: C+

The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)
Starring Michael Angarano, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Liu Yi Fei, Li Bingbing, Collin Chou

Film Prophet's Review...
A pair of kung-fu screen legends is together for the first time doing their stunts and martial arts performances. Renowned Jackie Chan and Jet Li both have unremarkable secondary parts in shabby stints. It appears more like a picture that Chan would be in rather than Li due to the tasteless humor portrayed in the goofy roles. It incorporates comedy that's grim than funny. As for the combats, the usual slow-down effects mixed with incredibly fast effects where it always seems surreal are there with the green screen work on soundstages that it just doesn’t look like real Chan or Li stunts anymore. It was apparent that the majority of the combats and visuals were heavily done by these effects of men flying in mid-air and there were more combats total than Chan or Li being in them. A discovery made by a kung fu obsessed American teen warps him to feudal China, where he joins up with martial arts warriors so he can free the imprisoned Monkey King. The movie was tossed in all sorts of directions like a fantasy world that acts as tall tales for kids. This pony-tailed teen was being picked on for liking kung fu in current time Boston. It appears that it was coming from some nineties kid show with bullies that's aimed for a male teenage audience only. For the first ten or so minutes, there’s an elderly shop owner who can be barely understood from he's saying for over half of his lines. Not only that, most of the Chinese performers used incomprehensible English dialogue even when the movie is mostly filmed on Chinese locations. The several awaken time-traveling and dream sequences for the kid place the story in several locations not committing to one until it is set with its main crew in China. The action jumps from village torture to the past to making some terrible poignant statements by Chan which all has no real movement. It’s incredibly light on coming with any themes or mature plot devices because it floats around between quick combats with long narrow wooden sticks and change of agendas with a loud music score used for adventure epics. The immortal versus mortal montages are repetitive and annoying. They tell several foretold mythological stories to show some choreographed combat parts at different locales and yet after all of them, the movie was still having horrible character development. The stories were just as mindless as the over-extended combats, like the long one before the end, because neither is issued with proper introductions as everything remains quite shallow. It surrounds the average American loser kid at the beginning becoming cooler because he's gotten himself to be taught martial arts and gets the Asian girl. Both of the female parts in the movie were quite bland, short, and one-sided. If it wasn’t for the white hair on the female assassin of Li Bingbing, she would look very similar to the golden sparrow by Liu Yi Fei. The movie did not engage emotionally, charm, horrify, or humor in any way. Its bad storytelling, unfilled characters, and easily forgettable combats provide a numb and weary encounter.

Final Grade: C-

Jumper (2008)
Starring Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Bell, Diane Lane

Film Prophet's Review...
The movie follows a guy who discovers that he has the abnormal ability to teleport. As he travels around the world, he draws the attention of the Paladins, rivals of the jumpers. Yea, some guys can teleport and others try to kill them. It serves as nothing more for people looking for an escapist kick almost like how the character escapes. What the movie doesn’t escape from is its thin premise and inadequate use of characters. It’s well under ninety minutes in length and there was room to enlighten the audience with these jumpers’ teleportation regulations, but they are left out of the inadequate story which has no development so that the movie can play with them because there's no integrity at all. There’s curiosity to take a character anywhere, literally and physically, and to find out how impenetrable the teleporting happens. The movie goes from exploring the teleporting abilities by traveling around to places straight to not resolving the capability and the origins of it with parts of exploding through walls to various locales constantly. There was enough room to expand the capabilities of what he could do, which took over the first third of Hayden’s scenes. Everything from there goes downhill. Other than seeing how far the character would be pushed to a limitless ability, there's little else going for it. Ideas are flown out, but the only thing is flown is when he moves backwards to teleport that just happens which crumbles and shatters everything around at the point in place. The Paladins use electric weapons and while the jumpers run, or uh, vanish away like a sneaker without needing sneakers, then reappearing in an old bedroom unaccountably. There’s a lot of cutting going back and forth from places during brittle battles with breaking through walls and ceilings and going unharmed in the process. This happens so many times with the same windy sound effect. All the movie does is just cut between locales too fast and the two jumpers save each other sometimes then argue and fight and so on. Rachel Bilson is there as a typical love interest and Jamie Bell is the bizarre, freelancing sidekick. Diane Lane makes infrequent and short appearances for a total of under a minute probably during the movie. The father role was cut brief. The opening credits take over ten minutes of the film with the kids and such and one could forget Hayden was a part of this movie. He is in a typecast to his Anakin role with instant force. He spends time with a confident smirk playing out with his teleportation going around to various places without much responsibility. He even begins with a voiceover about control and questions and this narration quits suddenly. However, he’s also not really a franchise movie character with all the ambiguities going on. Actually, he could be on the side of evil since he steals a whole lot of cash too. The movie fails to sway the audience to care about anything that is going on though. None of what happens is believable or credible for a competent fantasy-action like film.

Final Grade: C-/C

Say Anything... (1989)
Starring John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor, Pamela Adlon

Film Prophet's Review...
Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, the movie follows a summer after students graduate from high school right away. Particularly, the romantic comedy is about two teenagers where one attracts the other partly because he makes her laugh and has guts. The girl discovers she genuinely likes him, even though they have little in common. It influences the whole cliché of boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl back method. The boy is quirky and fast talking, anxious and frantic, but poised and upbeat, but not on the straightforward manner side. ‘I wanna get hurt!’ He’s an average high school senior and when he's talking a lot, others just smile and laugh as he faintly embarrasses himself when he talks about kickboxing. It brings the audience back to the time when teens contacted each other through home telephone calls and messages. Crowe’s writing bonds between the audience and the boy... to the girl. The girl is an unnoticable valedictorian and that’s about it people know. There’s plenty of edgy, youthful rock music where music tries to fulfill voids to their lives. The humor wins in this movie for some parts and it arrives at unpredicted moments that pass, but only for a while in the first half. The second half deals with the girl’s father and his debt. The only conflict between the boy and girl is a protective father with suspect finances. The humor settles down from the pitches of the typical teen territory to an examination between a girl’s boy and her dad with doubts to move forward together. The storyline with the guitar song writing girl was left astray for the second half after it was introduced in several parts in the beginning, just to mention. The movie is an original teenage movie where plenty have took ideas from and copied them. It’s also not filled with crude sex jokes or profanity and it's similar to what Sixteen Candles accomplished to the teen comedy genre. It’s a light and vivid movie with believable teenage situations. It’s believable as the boy and girl are kind and apprehensive, but it is every teen in the story who is just like them with that same simple description. There’s a mix of harmless personalities and the film keeps attentive on every slight facial and bodily move they make, and yes that was Jeremy Piven as one of those four guys by the gas station. The most powerful image, and scene, is when Cusack holds up the boom box above his head next to his car outside the girl’s house playing Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes song to serenade her. ‘I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.’

Final Grade: B-

To Have and Have Not (1944)
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan, Marcel Dalio, Dan Seymour

Film Prophet's Review...
Adapted from an Ernest Hemingway book and directed by Howard Hawks, it is the first teaming of Bogart and Bacall in their first big picture together, as their names will be mentioned a lot together in this review. A jaded American fishing boat captain is insisted to help the French Resistance smuggle people onto the island. To transport the escapists is accident bound for money, as Bogart just gets pushed around verbally by one individual basically, but it's just too easy for Bogart's character to outdo every budge quickly. Bogart's humorous wit shines and comes and goes. ‘Go ahead, slap me.’ This movie was also the start to Lauren Bacall's acting career. Bacall’s appeal was so sultry with her look and her husky voice. Bacall sings some songs which were bound to happen due to the piano playing diner. She is the only female to make a true impact in a movie of several male characters who try to convince Bogart to smuggle people over board by sea. Now together, the chemistry between Bogart and Bacall dominate the movie and much of the forties decade to that extent. Bogart's assured charm is noticeable right away in their first scene together. It is in their scenes they share that are the film's best parts. That is over any storyline developments which are underplayed by the interest between Bogart and Bacall. Their interactions contain quips and a double entendre play on words they exchange at various points in the film keeping their arrivals evenly. ‘No money those guys cleaned me out - I forgot too.’ Looks like this script covered any holes admirably. In the stingiest of moments, excellent dialogue comes at the precise moments. ‘What are your own sympathies - Minding my own business.’ In the unhurried beginning with an absence of Bacall, four men lay around a small boat and fish. On land, they then sit around and drink in a piano diner. Most of the action occurs in the Hotel bar and diner. Bogart movies rarely have violent action and when they do occur in the film, it comes to a surprise with loud gun shots. After the first of the few, the film becomes more interesting to follow, with the slender story instead of just Bogart and Bacall chitchatting. Aside from the Bogart and Bacall parts, the boat sequence in the dark fog picking up the husband and wife passengers, and the gun pulled from an open drawer are other parts to look for. Dan Seymour as Renard is excellent in his first scene too. ‘I'll ask you again, why did you get off.’ Eddie, played by Walter Brennan, drinks a lot of booze and he’s a comedy character. There isn’t much other company or commotion in the film to put in enough input surrounding Bogart and Bacall. Likewise, there isn’t any foul language or real violence despite some gun shots, but that isn’t a bad thing. There’s a lot more humor, chemistry, and interaction than The Big Sleep, though that movie has more of it involving in the story than between just two performers.

Final Grade: B

The Illusionist (2006)
Starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan

Film Prophet's Review...
A magician at the turn of the twentieth century Vienna falls for a woman well above his social standing as she becomes engaged to the Crown Prince. The magician uses his magic tricks to win her back over the monarch that may some get him in criminal trouble. The period piece contains mystery in romance with magic tricks. It is a very brown looking picture quality while omitting blues. Colors are limited to shades of brown, gold, and gray, with white and black. In an early childhood sequence, the edges are darker in each corner of the frames to create a dreamlike experience in the flashback mode. Director Neil Burger does well with the underwritten work he is given, especially with his camera shot techniques. Norton as Eisenheim the magician has others awe around him while no one can figure out or even try how he does it all. He’s not the outrageous type of person and never once gets fully angry. He’s very collected, but has no major goals to achieve until Biel’s character arrives. There's nothing really fascinating about the magician character onwards of his magic stage tricks, again, aside from Biel's take. The tricks are standard coin and card tricks, or elevating something, literally, as one ponders if it is all real, magic, or an illusion. He attempts to astonish the show theatre crowd and the movie audiences at the same time as the crowd is more impressed to see it really happen. The sword in the stone and the spirits are ones that feature. His first tricks may be predictable, except for the rewarding conclusion in the end the inspector ensues. Paul Giamatti as the Chief Inspector plays a big role who is caught up in his magic more than anyone and seems more fascinated with Eisenheim’s magic tricks than himself. However, he is tangled up to decide between politics with a haughty prince and Eisenheim. Rufus Sewell as the prince gives the strongest performance and Biel doesn’t make her mark on the film until beyond twenty minutes lasting till an hour, but remains intact for the central premise. The movie settles down with smug, vain, and corrupt bearded men, like the Crown Prince, and the rest remain speechless. It’s a computer generated show of the movie's magic tricks of Eisenheim's tricks to show that are not fully invigorating. Over three fourths of the characters are there to look astonished from the tricks. The rest of the story and movie are calm and pacified. Still, the movie somewhat delivers lure into any act Eisenheim showcases. There are more big conflicts, full-fledged compassion, and competitiveness in The Prestige though. Viewers will know why certain things were kept vague and unexplained all for the prevailing conclusion from a middling, yet mysterious centerpiece.

Final Grade: B-/B

Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Imogen Stubbs, Harriet Walter

Film Prophet's Review...
Set in nineteenth century England, adapted from Jane Austen novel, three sisters go through trials and tribulations of males and money. The money part, conversely, weighs more to the sisters’ family as whole than the males… more on this later. This is really screenwriter Emma Thompson’s movie as she also stars in the central part of the costume romance piece. It is also directed by Ang Lee. When an elderly husband dies unexpectedly, his estate is passed on by law to his son from his first marriage, but these circumstances leave the husband’s current wife and daughters without a true home and barely any money to live on. More would be expanded, but it would be beyond doubt convoluted to write and comprehend, such as stating that the first marriage son’s wife’s brother captures the heart of one of the three daughters, see. The sisters struggle to find romantic fulfillment in a society smitten with financial pounds, so they must learn to deal between money and men. Complications between the family and the daughters’ ideals of marriage loiter by separating a will. A period piece about an unfortunate family of women gaining any men in their lives to bring in the money to their wealthy living style is what the movie is really about. However, it is difficult to care for any of the sisters to make them sympathetic on numerous reasons. There are short talks about bachelor things blanked by moments of silence and nothing to say, but one can tell there's plenty going on in the minds of the characters. The problem is nothing is released or made apparent. For two and a half hours, there are some stale lines that are very short of dynamism. Quit whispering and speak up. They sit around in dresses that make the women look pregnant and linger for news so that the females and the movie can do something productive by going to a route of a pounding story than females talking about pounds of money. Stop talking about how many pounds a person has or can get. It's all the same about wealth and engagements drawn out with still and unmoving scenes. The acting is standard to minimal and the dialogue is spoken at low, unhurried volumes. Scenes are short and there are many alike by quietness and low-key piano playing in the background. They go around reading excerpts from stories, but the movie is flat of a strong story itself… except that it’s really about money, who has it, and females doing what they can do to get at it, like marrying old men. Scenes are also lackluster of any rushing vivacity. Everyone is quite calm and there's little zeal in anything going on to capture the fullest of one's attention. The characters and situations were a slump on a film perspective as if nothing big happened. Too much subtlety is not always a reasonable feature.

Final Grade: C-/C

Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone, Judi Dench

Film Prophet's Review...
Near the end of eighteenth century England, five young sisters have been raised well aware of their mother’s fixation on finding them husbands and securing set fortunes. The spirited Elizabeth, however, strives for a broader perspective. A wealthy, but unfavorable to some, bachelor named Mr. Bingley takes up the residence in a buzz, just as any male approaches and enters the mansion as suitors, while a Mr. Darcy receives resilient impressions from Elizabeth. The direction by Joe Wright from the Jane Austen novel is soothing with a combination of excellent scenery, music score, and acting. He initiates a comfortable start with beautiful, compound images. The interiors and costumes were also great. The movie evolves from the introduction of young women interested in books, gossiping about naive partnerships of men, and toying around about fanciful things like balls and clothes to spirited jabs and a multifaceted, engaging plot. It’s more enjoyable and lively than one can initially imagine. Wright modernizes the tale of courtship and marriage capturing the intelligence, passion, and misunderstandings in a rural England setting. There's something pure about it all with a youthful sense of growing up past adolescence to marriage based on what Elizabeth and her sisters see while being affirmative about it all. Keira as Elizabeth is delightful and fun displayed by her strong wits and virtue as she’s gripping to care about her affable character. The talkative mother is similar to her daughters by her giddiness they inherit. Scenes of positive greetings, flattering moments, and slight approvals or disapprovals of one another occur. Everything has pleasant, riveting splendor with it. The mother insists her elder daughters to be romantic, but the story has shambles to the characters with burdens of becoming or not of a mistress and the pleasures that can follow or not. Each sister and every other character in the large collection shows their strengths and weaknesses where some may settle for more than a stable scenario. There are plenty of relationships on each side of it. It is a movie where not one of the females gets jealous with revenge and gets mad either. Superb dialogue and comical remarks are short and effective, such as during the dances. There are no long or cliché lines. A scene where Elizabeth looks for a certain someone is shown by sweeping tracking shots across multiple rooms in the same mansion. It is excellent and later it's done shortly again by passing outdoor windows from a home in the evening. The indoor room scene is followed by talking during line dances which move with tremendous, elegant pace by the camera shots. There's only one other movie that pulled off these fluent sequences in a large house of multiple rooms together. Hint it was an early French film. This sequence may be the strongest film work in the movie... and what incredible, eloquent work it was. The story moves like that sequence going to many fascinating places with people in an instant flowing from one to the next superbly. The movie is robust at all points in the story. The strength of Judi Dench's role as Lady Catherine is another one of those parts that keep the film proficient. The writing in the film takes the movie places that are so complex and heavy involving much influence, like this Wickham character who appears in about a couple of scenes as he's mentioned and impacts to many. In a big group of characters, their actions affect the main storyline of Elizabeth’s all at once going so fast. The background characters are an involving bunch. A modern film certainly can not outdo a film with a similar story with many developed characters and a large great cast like this one with fast sudden incidences to a central heroine.

Final Grade: A-/B+

Out of Africa (1985)
Starring Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Michael Kitchen, Malick Bowens

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed by Sydney Pollack, a Danish woman is married to a hunting baron and moves with him to his Kenyan coffee plantation days prior to the First World War. After enduring his womanizing behavior, she eventually meets a British adventurer. Upon her return to Denmark, she becomes a novelist and writes about her romantic adventure. Neither man really charms his way through to her, so the attraction between each one is bewildering. The cinematography focuses on colonial landscapes and isolation from individuals with aristocracy in low dense populated areas. Bureaucratic people hunt and tame the wild in sharp rich clothes while Africans are their loyal servants. The dialogue between women, or really the one Danish woman narrator, and the men is about seducing and money. Streep plays the Danish woman with a heavy Danish accent and narrates back to her farm in Africa of European settlers and local African tribesmen in British East Africa. It’s her standpoint of a noble woman interacting with Africans, who are pretty much all men, and participating in slight irregular changes, like a cattle drive, protecting cattle against a lion, and being sick… all in which is nothing too staggering or demanding to watch or follow... and this is an Oscar winning picture. One can't really relate to any of it, like the hunting and gunning down attacking lions. The vacancy of a middle-class was obvious too as it was either some African servants or middle-aged European aristocrats with lots of dignity where their introductions of a person starts with, ‘Madame, may I present…’ The fact that the movie is nearly three hours long with the same thing of African servants of the white nobles in Kenya or Africans working on the farm while the nobles stroll around on horses and tries to understand some African tribe language is bloated out. The first hour was long enough. There was very, very little hostility, but rather hospitality among everyone in the story. There is no real startling struggle or clash in the flat story. Redford's entrance in the film was a tad late for a leading male character, but satisfies somewhat in the film away from the very delicate manners, but he doesn't have any meat attached to his limited role. There’s no youthful rudeness and they just lounge around and discuss bureaucracy. For the scarce moments between Redford and Streep, they mostly just dine by some fire. It contains these scenes of Streep hanging around for Redford to return from an adventure, so they can reconcile around a campfire to have dull conversations. He then is off the next day on some safari adventure, probably taming the wild or flying a plane. It goes by this scene by scene of Africans servings, lions being tamed, and dinners by the fire. While each one acts with poise, it is Streep who softly dominates the screen time from the vast undistinguished, noble supporting characters. When something different adjusts for her, and finally the movie, she acts serenely confused and rushes to act. Anyone below the standard that Streep sets wouldn't be nearly as effective. For almost every part in the film, she remained the one to pay attention to despite the static and quite stable approach by everything, like in the similar overlong and pointless movies Reds, The African Queen, and Mogambo.

Final Grade: C

Rambo (2008)
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Paul Schulze, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed and written by Sylvester Stallone, he also plays and returns as the title character. Judging by its title, one could think it is a first of its kind, a sequel, or a remake since there have been three previous ones, so there’s confusion going backwards in the title. The movie follows the former Vietnam veteran John Rambo living solitary as a boatman in guerilla warfare Thailand. There’s a virtually narrow story to Rambo's agenda and mission with some missionaries and a female who tempts and convinces him to return to fighting. The missionaries there that follow him on the path are obvious setups for liabilities and hostages. The movie shows how many things can explode and how body limbs can separate. Sometimes things and people blow without knowing why, who, or what. The explosions in small villages are cyclic and all look the same. They’re a mess of uninformed little massacres with fire and gun artillery. Hardly any of these have Rambo in them. At its eighty minutes of length, the amount of bloodshed and weapon violence is at a staggering high, but without Rambo. Violence won’t solve anything except deaths. All slaughters done to men, women, and children are in explicit detail during several rampages. Innocent peasants are killed and the movie never opens into the lives of any of them to reach a certain height. Bloodshed is the method of expressing one's self in this type of atrocious environment solving purely dismal mindless violence. There’s no joy and it is repellent. Despite that, audiences would want to see Stallone shoot and propel his way through enemies. However, there aren't enough Rambo action moments until the near ending and they are sparse and kept short. There weren’t big moments where he would shoot wildly with rage without aim. He never quite looks angry by anything. It’s just him and his face and stare, see the ending. There are no wisecrack remarks from him or anyone. The English dialogue is shallow and sometimes there are scenes of none at all. ‘Who are you; we came here to stop the killing.’ There’s slowness when there’s nothing important to talk or think about. For example, a profanity dull scene on a slow boat moving on a river after thirty minutes contains guys arguing about gibberish in disgrace and all of the following talks between them are banal. Without that eagerness of a killing instinct that's bound to happen by Rambo, then forget it.

Final Grade: C-/C

Cloverfield (2008)
Starring Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman, T.J. Miller, Lizzy Caplan, Mike Vogel, Jessica Lucas

Film Prophet's Review...
In J. J. Abrams’ produced film attempt at America's version of Japan's Godzilla for an irrepressible monster, it follows a catastrophic night during a monster attack in New York as shown from the point of view of a small group of young adults. In one of the most recent over-hyped movies to date, the movie was essentially a viral marketing project billing clues as to what the monster may be. No background is established for this nameless monster or where it originated from during the movie though. Nothing is revealed about the monster leaving questions unanswered just as they are meant to be in the full perspective of the person recording with the camera. Moving along, the main attraction to the film other than the monster is the destruction of buildings, and the fright and fear of the habitants against an unknown terror. These habitants are young New York City adults throwing their friend a going away party indoors. While most could care less about it, anticipated were chaos, wounds, and deaths upon these people. Some die instantly in a short shock, but little sadness is involved. The amateur acting is practical as if they're the ones really taping it all, which they do by one long-lived battery in a camera. It’s filmed with one hand-held camcorder, which is relevant enough to modern times upon the release date where people are frequently documenting videos and putting them up on the web. Running at no longer than an hour and a half, it starts like an episode of Laguna Beach. The characters are imprudent doing gratuitous things. There’s no fulfilling story especially since none of the dozen or so people at the party are interesting. If someone is wondering when and where the monster first erupts, wait about twenty or so minutes to be interrupted by what at first seems like an earthquake. This is an effective retreat from the boredom to a refreshing catastrophe, as an oxymoron itself. The audience could show up twenty minutes late and not miss a thing. The movie opens on the day of the party and the disaster. The party was also nothing spectacular; just a bunch of people who all fairly blend in with drinks… an ordinary party for an unordinary closing night. One wouldn’t mind what they say during the documentation of the party and farewell messages. Even some of the people there were aloof at the party. Incessantly in motion sickness, the camera stays in the point of view of the person, who happens to be a yuppie, holding the digital mini-cam like the camera is the real and only actor in the film. ‘That's a lot of responsibility.’ The audience only sees what this person shoots and it is badly shot. ‘I don't even know how to work this.’ Making up for a scrawny exposition are tidal waves into the city, flickering lights into darkness, glass exploding, fogging into mayhem, releasing praying mantis critters, being caught in the middle of crossfire, blood splat on the camera lens, and a hectic view from a helicopter. The suspense of not knowing what will crop up next is terrific, as everything shown is captured by this one handheld camcorder. At other later times, the group walks around aimlessly and the destruction lessens up before the final dozen of minutes. They are ordinary individuals with reasonable and average reactions to the crisis from strictly their vision.

Final Grade: B-

Away from Her (2007)
Starring Gordon Pinsent, Julie Christie, Kristen Thomson, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy

Film Prophet's Review...
The movie portrays Julie Christie as the elderly wife, coming down with Alzheimer's, of a retired college professor in a nursing home who turns her affections to another resident during her time there. The husband copes with isolation and loneliness during this period as he frequently visits her to remind her of him. The title is Away from Her but it's more like Away from Her-self. There are evident moments of false cheer to elderly in nursing homes where they have nothing anymore but themselves. This movie is wholly poignant, kind, and gentle for an adult character story with class. This may seem like a weak Lifetime movie in the premise, but it isn’t. The intelligent script and shrewd, philosophical lines come off with ease by the smooth and natural acting. Many of the lines sound graceful and polished from the script. Scenes are balanced and relaxed and the look of each scene is kind at a comfortable pace. A melodious music score and a wintry landscape aids in the sympathy. Still camera positioning stations the camera to watch the facial reactions by the performers to catch onto what they are undergoing. The script contains no outrageous parts, which allows everyone to be so subtle. There are really only two characters that matter to the story and share the priceless moments together and that is the couple to accept this part of aging life. It is pure and so tender, like the very devoted husband. Many of his visits to the nursing home strike with rhythm. It is saddening to forget to recall basics and one’s own personality and past, as the husband deals with this from her wife’s obstacle not in any kind of loud manner, but tenderly and calmly. Julie Christie gives what may be the most emotive leading female performance in a drama-romance of the century to date. She is melancholic at portions to evoke a raw humanity that hits deeply. The moments around the hour mark are tearful affectionate acting. Her character begins to suffer from Alzheimer's and the delicate moments are during her transition after she agrees to move into a nursing home where she loses much memory of her husband and other things. The story is seen through the warm perspective of the husband with grace and the audience sees what he sees on his visits as his wife develops, if that’s the word to use here. Morally to the themes, the husband displays how to be a very loyal person, rekindling his marriage that strikingly gets deprived. Giving someone space can be a terrible thing in a perspective when losing everything one has cared for. It is sincerely a faultless film surrounding the disease to constantly remind a loved one of existence and where the person was from which is all heartrending. ‘I never wear yellow.’

Final Grade: B+/B

Juno (2007)
Starring Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons

Film Prophet's Review...
The movie follows a sixteen year old female teenager who goes on an altering journey when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Addressed moderate and marginal to teenage girls, the unfussy motion picture with general adolescence and naive innocence gives lessons for young women. It kicks off with an already assumed pregnant girl before witnessing any incidences prior to being seasoned. The girl is almost like a tomboy with guy attitudes and speech and liking adulthood items. She is a risk taker, yet still susceptible as a young girl making a big decision. Her parents or any true adult figures don't appear on screen till later due to her late confession and it’s mostly independent decisions foremost. At just about an hour and a half, they discuss pregnancy after tests and who should have the child. Michael Cera is the loyal guy friend and unexpected father responsible for her pregnancy. He could have a few more scenes to show exactly what each of them sees in the each other too. Ellen Page's expressionless performance is strong by means of lackluster, like her relationships with the supporting characters. This is her story and issue from start to finish. She consults many people and the repercussions and also alternatives that could happen after taking a decision. They are too subdued and there’s little charm around. There's no real spectacle of events or witty characters, but just small initial perspectives. When Juno keeps invading the couple's home who ask about adopting the child, these make small awkward conversations which makes awkward character interaction and a derivative movie to Junebug a couple years before this. Everyone speaks in the same consulting manner and it’s apparent that they all blend in to what they say and nothing really stands out… except for Juno’s connection with Jason Bateman's older character who have some common likes during pointless talk about their possessions at home and then Jennifer Garner becomes jealous and worried. The step-mom character of Juno is irksome and none of these supporting characters were really necessary since she still did and decided on what she wanted to. A soft indie soundtrack selection of light songs develops a very bland, melodic mood for the movie. They come by an irritating rate. Music plays as she wanders around downbeat then stops so she can provide some wisecrack voiceover narration by checking out things and offering her opinions from classmates, family, and abortion issues, but it's not enough to remain constant. As a teen comedy, the laughs just aren't present really. Adolescent pregnancy is too receptive of a topic to be joked about or around. That is what the thematic material of the movie is and the genre of it is a teen comedy. Neither is brisk. Therefore, it holds back on any rude humor as Juno the girl has teen sarcasm. The ultimate decision in the end was rather disappointing and depressing at the outset.

Final Grade: C+/B-

There Will Be Blood (2007)
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier, Kevin J. O'Connor

Film Prophet's Review...
Paul Thomas Anderson directs a story about family, greed, and religion around oil digging at the turn of the century centered on a Texas to California prospector and businessman. Oil, greed, business, money, land, and family merge on the basics of creating a false self-image. There’s a fascination to watch a man’s own greed transpire who has no real friends or family and just has his ego and greed. He knows how to manipulate situations to his gain to his oil reign. This is Daniel Plainview and the movie is menacing just as the leader character is. It is sinister like the eerie music score with string instruments that goes to work to create a variety of luring styles. The film opens when a man mines in the dark to strike oil and the first words aren’t spoken until later. It focuses on the struggles of a man alone in a deep and narrow mining construction. There’s persistence and growth of individuals through time where the movie shows short stints captured during so, which would be assumed as a mundane time copying over those scenes until they strike oil. For a film running over two hours, it nearly shows a lifespan of Plainview after this. This is the first sequence and one can be fascinated by picturing a boundless saga of an oil digging progression. The gripping, yet undemanding storyline approach around a shrewd businessman who gets what he wants, his little boy, and a young Christian preacher converges solely on drilling wells and persuasive business personal communication by Day-Lewis' character by bringing up family in the midst and savoring in it by encouraging family and education. Paul Dano plays a duel role where one is the Christian preacher providing the movie with biblical undertones mashed with blessing and healing. Plainview is straightforward like nothing is wrong, but he is manipulative on confiscating lands and oil from the ground. The story is driven by men despite mentioning the values of a family. Again, it’s false actuality, essentially making Plainview a hypocrite when he doesn't begin so. He starts out telling people what appear to be regular truthful things and easily connives his way to others that he is a family man to boost his ego and oil empire. The assumed son, like the oil, he claims and maneuvers at to move forward with his greed. The forthright manners and appearances later become evident they've been shaped under this man's control. It warps the viewer's mind so casually because the events and scenes in the film are not played up. It is difficult to tell whether anyone or anything is frank in a clear-cut manner because later it might bite back. ‘If I travel all the way up there and find that you've been lying to me, I'm going to find you and take more than my money back.’ The earnestness acting pulls it off also, along with the musical scores composed by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood piercing right through the mood of the film. The photography is stark and grainy in an underplayed art form as the movie is steady and patient. Plainview's mad consciousness takes over the later portions of the film though these parts are not pumping with incendiary as the first hour does. It appeared little is faulty with the central character in the first half and the viewer wants to believe him as that music score rides over his convincing dialogue to townsfolk. The strange third act stays in the moral tainted conscious of Plainview as he seeks out to buy land that was not his because his greed acquires things his soul doesn’t need. For instance, the restaurant table interruption with his son and some other men come by at another table… the ‘you don't tell me how to raise my family’ part which is basically redemption for taking care of a boy and proving it to others he’s not all about oil money. Day-Lewis makes this character look fundamental and uncomplicated who doesn't want to deal with confusion or fuss. Just look at his face after Paul Dano attempts to cure a woman and says, 'And it left!'

Final Grade: A-/B+

Lust, Caution (2007)
Starring Tony Leung, Wei Tang, Joan Chen

Film Prophet's Review...
Set in World War II Shanghai, Leung is a political figure in the forties, while Tang plays a young woman who gets swept up in a game of trickery... and the boring game of mahjong. The movie spends many scenes displaying four Chinese married women playing mahjong chugging at a cyclical rate. No matter how many times the women play it and discuss anything wearisomely, the game is still ambiguous. The mindless conversations between the women as mistresses are to no involvement to anything going on or leading up to anything. It begins like this as a lackluster beginning and a flat exposition and then the rest of the scenes after raise no depth or pondering situations. Everything is tedious and empty and nothing really goes on… only a sex scene can change that. The movie is notorious for its NC-17 rating and vicious sex scenes that are like a couple at no more than ten minutes of a movie over two hours in length. Director Ang Lee’s erotic espionage film has a cast of all Chinese who speak Chinese. Wei Tang's first movie role in this picture has little meat to the movie and more skin to show by exterior. There is no moment where she rages out in any scene despite being in most of the scenes and remains adorable and yet still. The story is long and trivial dragging without strong dialogue. It switches between time periods captured with set pieces as really the only cinematic displays. The movie cuts in and out of scenes that last for no more than a minute and don't contain anything to advance the movie with detail. Due to this, there is nothing much to review in the film that's well over two hours long for being completely slim, empty, and pointless. The movie stutters an obligation to focus on something which results in more female gossip around the table playing mahjong in the same place, glancing and gazing at each other. Without any conditions and circumstances, it remains hollow offering nothing to care, think, engage, or wonder about, or what happens to the characters. There’s little character development or much tension among them all. Therefore, the movie won’t fuel up anyone. It has traitors and identity changes, but so what. In the end, the principles of the game of trickery in espionage, and mahjong, are never grasped.

Final Grade: C-

Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
Starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Shiri Appleby

Film Prophet's Review...
The movie follows Charlie Wilson in the eighties as a Democratic Texas congressman who oversaw the covert funding of the Afghan rebels in their battle against the Soviet Union. The direction by veteran Mike Nichols is soft and light on the film’s true story. The violence when shooting down helicopters is portrayed to a minimal or even none by playing a giddy music score. Political movies are often dry, but this movie is an exception because it's very jolly with flamboyant characters. The politics of situations are merry and the movie is filled with delightfully comedic lines. The audience sees it in the faces of a high-profiled cast that they believe in their characters. Half of the movie is delight humor and the other half is serious material to some extent. Charlie Wilson is flirtatious and likable, womanizing sassy socialites. He’s probably known for the women tailing him. It begins with crude behavior with adults as they’re unclothed in a hot tub drinking booze with lady models. This is what to expect the rest of the way with energy in talks which is a solid thing. There are a bunch of attractive looking women following the congressman and the movie depends broadly on Wilson's discourse antics in a thin plotted, fast-paced film. It’s sometimes more fretful when showcasing striking women around Hanks. This is the way to make dull congress politics and diplomatic talks in a movie attentive to the audience by adding in distractions with cutesy jesting and appealing women. Furthermore, this is how to spice up a politically perspective story by adding more detail to production quality and heavy makeup and putting the story on a side dish when it can be the main course. Charlie’s staff of these women helps compose and put out statements for him when in trouble. The movie is almost like a satire on winning politics with the way the delicate wit lets out surrounding Wilson with everyone. Charlie and the people around him have fun by partying and get the job done effortlessly taking the serious matter with joy and incredibly lighthearted. Philip Seymour Hoffman is among the finest voice actors during this time and pulls over many voices excellently like the one in this film. The audience would wait about forty minutes until Hanks and Hoffman grace the screen together. They share equal power on screen and the acting feature scenes in the film are their early scenes together. For instance, the enjoyable one in Wilson’s office, then in the park… ‘See he's playing without even looking at the board.’ On that side dish that Charlie pulls easily, he works at rounding up support for the Soviet-Afghan War with Afghanistan trips and lobbying when the schmoozing and wit approach stops for a bit and lines become sophisticated. When the movie is finished, it prompts the audience how short, impassive, and flippant the movie was because the majority of it dealt with careless problems from a left-wing standpoint with effortless, jolly solutions.

Final Grade: B

Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris, Amy Ryan, Morgan Freeman, John Ashton

Film Prophet's Review...
This is what a noble crime-drama television show premise would look like as a movie, including some extra vulgarity, a downbeat environment, and examining issues and moral dilemmas. The movie follows a pair of young-looking private detectives in a Boston neighborhood who are hired to search for a missing four-year-old girl. The beginning of the movie puts a focus on people's roots in their vulnerable neighboring settings with a kind melodramatic opening right away to reporters about a missing girl. Written by the same author of Mystic River, the film contains the same type of tension and society fear probing what is lawful as the right decision for the right reasons, but no matter what, they are always subjective to the person with ‘better off’ statements. Ethical dilemmas compel the lead investigator, performed by Casey Affleck, to question what truly is right. Moral preferences from all sides and roles are involved; the investigators, cops, family members, neighborhoods, and so on participate in the unsolved arguments and present them to the audience. They all come together and mingle because of one missing person. It's like a gigantic lost and a huge ordeal for the neighborhood where everyone seems to have gone to high school together and knows each other. They have one-sided attitudes, look angry, and act smart-alecky, as everyone has their moment. They offer their sorrows by distressing how they don't know where the girl is. How would one person hire private investigators in the first place… where can they be found out if they're so secret… the two investigators go around and talk to anyone anywhere and it seems as these people appear for just those parts sometimes and aren't seen again. Whether they give valuable information to the investigators is questionable because the viewer isn't sure to believe everything a character says. 'Don't talk about people you don't know.' For instance, people who think they are being accused of the missing person like at the end of the bar scene full of men which was fantastic. Everyone pretends as informers who have an opinion and try to justify what to do and how to cooperate. ‘As strange as it might seem, I believe the police when they tell me something.’ The cops mostly just stand around in uniforms not doing anything… instead of watching the typical cop on chase and gun violence scenes to catch clues. This is not how the movie rolls for the most part. It is well above a typical police investigation film. It rides on a colossal and tidy script, so when that scene of gun action occurs, it is excitement to ecstasy. When it settles down, somewhere it rivets back up to another peak of excitement… full of many twists, moles, and conspiracies. There are many underlying crime responses with perceptiveness that could lead up to anything to anyone, like drugs and money… as those twists, moles, and conspiracies attack back. The direction by Ben Affleck shows his affection for Boston and he works the camera like a mature director keeping the mystery in the aura. All the performances are great, especially Ed Harris, Amy Ryan, and Edi Gathegi. The missing girl case also appears to end after the hour mark dividing the film into main pieces where the second is more eerie joining several wrenching plots after another.

Final Grade: A-/B+