Sin City – A Movie Review

I don’t know if I’m getting older or what, but movies like Sin City just don’t do it for me anymore.  I went into this movie thinking I was going to love it.  I mean, it’s based off a comic book, so right there I was pretty excited.  (Yes, I am an unrequited comic book lover.  Have been since the age of four.  Sue me.)  The commercials proved that it was a unique film in terms of visuals.  And it was.  Just one thing bothered me about the movie so much that I can’t bring myself to say, “I liked it.”

The violence.  This movie was about as masochistic as they come.  Yes, rarely did they show red blood.  It was more often than not stylized so that it appeared stark white against the black and white colors of the movie.  But, the beatings, the shootings, the ripping off of body parts, the sawing off of appendages, the ramming of blunt objects through heads, it just got to be too much for me.

I don’t want to sound like a pansy here, but the movie could have been awesome without all those things.  I keep hearing people say it’s a great throwback to the film noir style of decades past.  I have no recollection of people being shot and stabbed in the genitalia of those old films. 

The man who wrote the original graphic novels (a term for a fancy comic book) is Frank Miller.  He is largely considered a genius in the comic book world.  He redefined Batman in the mid-eighties, and the 1989 Batman was based largely off of his vision of the character.  And his comics are violent, for the most part.  But, the movie took it one step farther.

The acting wasn’t great, although I thought Mickey Rourke did a nice job.  I’m glad to see his career may be revived due to this film, like Travolta with Pulp Fiction.  The lines were supposed to be fragmented, which works great in the comics, but not so well in movies.  It’s hard to get the complexity of the character and the moment across with just three words per sentence for the better part of the entire film.  Rourke pulled it off, but I’m afraid that Willis (who I think is a great actor to watch, but not necessarily a great actor; I mean that as a compliment) and Del Toro didn’t.  I do have to say that the movie had a stellar cast.  I think everyone knew this was going to be a milestone in the film world.

The style of the movie was phenomenal.  It was primarily black and white with splashes of color here and there for symbolism or effect.  Very dark, very moody.  It nailed the heart of the comic in that respect.  It had lots of really cool shots and angles, lots of awesome sets, and the costumes (or lack thereof, in many cases) and make-up were top notch. 

So, if you can handle gratuitous violence and enjoy hyper-stylized movies, this is for you.  If you’re not one for lots of violence, guns, knives, razor wire, bombs, swords, and any other killing device you can imagine, this may not be a first choice for your Friday night. 

Ultimately, I respect the work of Frank Miller, and I respect all artists.  Considering he was a co-director of this film (which I think was awesome of the other co-director, Robert Rodriguez, to include him), I have to trust that he got it the way he wanted.  That’s all I ask of artists.  Do it your way, and let the public make its own decisions.

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The Fantastic Four – A Movie Review

Let me begin by stating that while I am a self-admitted comic book fan, I am by no means a die-hard Fantastic Four fan.  I’ve always thought they were a neat team, but I’ve never really been interested in them or their comic. 

Okay, with that out of the way, I think we all understand that I am by no means as critical when it comes to the Fantastic Four as I would be with, say, Batman or the Flash. 

My wife and I went to see the Fantastic Four movie while on vacation from our summer vacation.  I had no expectations whatsoever and I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.  Here we had a film that was exactly what it should have been, a lighthearted movie about a family-like team of superheroes who banter and quibble as most families do.  It was a great deal of fun to see their powers showcased, and the film was nowhere near as campy or cheesy as I thought it would be from what I saw in the previews. 

Was this the dark psychodrama of Batman?  No.  Was this the film noir of Sin City?  Not in the least.  What it was, however, was a movie that was plain and simply put fun to watch.

Sorry if I’m upsetting all the Kirby and Lee fans out there who judge me to be committing Fantastic Four sacrilege, but I liked the movie.  Go check it out if you want to have some good old fashioned summer movie fun!

X-Men: The Last Stand – A Movie Review

So the fanboys and the critics have been telling me that X-Men: The Last Stand is awful, yet the movie going audience has been flocking to this baby.  Like the responsible movie fan I am, I had to see for myself.  Read on for my spoilerific review of X-Men: The Last Stand… 

I have to tell you, when Bryan Singer, the director of the first two X-Films, left to direct Superman Returns, I was a little concerned about the fate of our favorite mutants.  I don’t have any antagonistic feelings toward the replacement director, Brett Ratner, like so many people seemingly do, but I believed the quality would drop just a hair because Singer was so loyal to the source material. 

Ratner, on the other hand, is loyal to making a summer blockbuster.

What I mean by that is that X3 is an entertaining, fast-paced, short, action-filled thrill ride.  What it is not is an in-depth story with well-rounded characters.  In fact, Ratner seemed to feel quite comfortable with breaking routine X-Convention, especially any foundation the first two films laid.

That is part of what made this film so fun, but also part of what made it so frustrating.  Let’s just get a big spoiler out of the way:  Ratner kills off some major, major characters in X3.  So many big characters that an X4 seems pretty unlikely.  The heart of the X-Men are gone, and they were gone pretty early into the film.  That being said, I knew then and there that all bets were off and no one was off-limits.  That certainly increased the tension and suspense for my movie going experience.

But, the deaths of the characters were so out of place, so out of character, they truly seemed forced and rushed.  And that is my ultimate summation of X3-forced and rushed.  It had great moments, some were actually genius, but overall the film had many, many holes.  The sheer number of heroes and villains required four hours of story to avoid any shortcomings, and as the film lasted only an hour and forty-five minutes, well, you can imagine how crammed things got.

However, what worked, and worked wonderfully, were the special effects.  If you want to see these mutants using their powers in all the glory of your wildest imaginings, you will not be disappointed in X3.  It truly felt like a comic book come to life.  You get to see the powers of Iceman, Beast, Phoenix, Colossus, Shadowcat, Pyro, Magneto, and Juggernaut in their full glory, just the way you want to see them.  The only problem is you just don’t get to see enough of them.

Would I recommend this film?  You bet I would.  The spectacle and special effects alone are worth it.  The acting of Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Kelsey Grammar, and Patrick Stewart are top-notch for those moments where they’re actually allowed to act.

I think if you are a hardcore X-Fan you will be very disappointed with the directions they took with some of the characters in X3, but if you look at it as just another summer action movie, you’ll be more than entertained.