Mail Vol. 2

Dear Brent,

What's the deal with the movie reviews? I know you've seen stuff you haven't put on the site... SLACKER!

Love, Mr. Chimpers

Mr. Chimpers, I presume, is one of those super-intelligent monkeys that knows sign language, and apparently how to send e-mail. I don't know why he's so interested in movie reviews, since monkeys aren't allowed in most theaters, but s'ok, I get the point. My last e-mail kinda goes along with this one, but for you sticklers out there, here are some brief reviews of movies I've seen recently.

The Ring 2

See how easy that was? Why couldn't I have done that weeks ago? Oh, you want more... sigh... fine...

The Ring 2

While The Ring is one of my favorite horror movies of all time, I had doubts going into its sequel that it would even come close. Horror sequels, on the whole, are pretty bad, as it's a hard task to recapture the excitement and the unknown of the first movie. A great example of this is the Alien series. During the first movie, you barely get to see the creature at all, and when you do, it's terrifying in a very real way, even though you can pretty much tell it's just a guy in a suit. And along the way, as Aliens, Alien3 and Alien: Resurrection came along, you saw more and more of the aliens, and you were less and less scared. The movies, especially with AVP, became more sci-fi action than sci-fi horror, as the creature lost its visceral impact, and the audience, in some strange way, accepted it as a hero, not a villain. OK, off topic there, but you get the point. Once you've shocked the audience once, they're not going to fall for it again. Yet, that's exactly what Ring 2 tries to pull off. There is nothing here we haven't seen before. The only new twist on the story is that Samara tries to possess Aidan, instead of just killing everyone. Big deal. I give it a D.

Sin City

This is one of the coolest flicks I've seen in quite some time, and further proof that I was right to choose Robert Rodriguez as a favorite director. (I had begun doubting myself with all those Spy Kids movies.) He literally brings the Sin City graphic novels to life, using the same dialogue, shots, colors and jaw lines, in Marv's case. I can't wait for the DVD of this to come out, since the making of has gotta be spectacular. Like Sky Captain, this was entirely shot in front of a green screen, but that's where the similarities end. Hyper-violent and the most true-to-source comic book movie ever made, Sin City embraces the inner geek, and says "This one's for you, bub." Throw in a cast that looks like some fanboy's wish list, and you've got me wishing for a sequel. Do Family Values so Miho can be a rollerblade ninja! This one gets an A.

Raging Bull

I don't think I need to go too in-depth on the story of Raging Bull, as most people have probably already seen it. In short, based on a true story, Raging Bull tells the story of the rise and fall of boxer Jake LaMotta, both his athletic career and his personal life. Robert De Niro famously went through a physical transformation for this role, developing, over the course of two hours, from a muscle-bound boxer to an overweight comedian. That he was willing to commit himself that much to the film is definitely a testament to De Niro's respect for the craft, as well as his respect for Scorcese. And for everything he has done, this is one of De Niro's most iconic roles, right up there with Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Part II. He runs the gamut of emotion, from the ecstasy of winning a title belt, to the agony of being forced to throw a fight, after which he breaks down into a sobbing fit of such raw emotion that I was surprised it was De Niro. Our caricature perception of De Niro these days is heavily influenced by impressions of him, ((squints) You talkin' to me? I heard things. Lil bit.) so it's easy to forget that when he tries, he is probably the greatest living American actor. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong, though. I don't know, I'm not in charge of these things. I was most taken by the choreography of the fight scenes. Scorcese said that he blocked them like dance numbers in a musical, and I can see that come through. It?s fascinating to watch. Raging Bull obviously gets an A.

Kung Fu Hustle

Stephen Chow is awesome. I've seen Shaolin Soccer, and now this, and I am convinced that he is making the best live-action anime the world has ever seen. He understands, unlike so many other filmmakers and action stars, that a lot of kung-fu flicks are like Bugs Bunny cartoons: unrealistically violent, yet essentially harmless. He understands that, and accepts it, and even flaunts it. When he performs a Buddhist Palm move that blows a hole in a building in the shape of a three-story palm, we are seeing Dragon Ball Z brought to life. Two assassins in this movie attack their targets by playing a harp, and the audience accepts it as fact, since the whole movie is like on big episode of Trigun. And it's great! Chow does fall into the plot trap of most of these movies, though, by introducing way too many masters, and a character in desperate need of redemption, and a love story. It's too complicated. Kung Fu Hustle is still the most FUN I've had watching a movie since Anchorman last summer, but it gets a B, for plot clich�s.

And more to come, such as Hitchhiker's Guide.


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