Empire of the Wolves Movie Review

The Empire of the Wolves
**1/2 out of ****

Part 2 of my Jean Reno movie kick, this is a darker french thriller with Jean Reno sharing the spotlight with Arly Jover (you’d probably recognize her from Blade) and Jocelyn Quivrin (lately of Syriana). This is a decent movie, but nothing special.

Premise: Jocelyn Quivrin is a French detective with a serial killer on his hands who is murdering young women - illegal Turkish immigrant young women, to be exact. Jean Reno is a “retired” cop who used to police Turkish neighborhoods brought in to consult. Arly Jover is a woman whose reality is coming apart at the seams as she loses more and more of her memory - is it a mental illness, or something more sinister? It all ties together in an organization called “The Gray Wolves”.

This movie started out strong. Your interest was especially piqued by Arly Jover’s situation, more so when she finds evidence that she has had complete face altering plastic surgery that she has no memory of. Jean Reno spices up the Jocelyn Quivrin storyline that would otherwise be totally bland. But as the movie wears on, the storyline starts to get pretty convoluted. And it goes on for too long (a common complaint from me, I’m noticing). I’m actually not sure what could have been cut out to make this movie shorter - it was all pretty necessary to even halfway explain the convoluted story.

Biggest problem with this movie is that it went on too long - plus, the story got convoluted and wasn’t as clear as it should have been. Jean Reno and Jocelyn Quivrin’s characters were fairly bland - Reno finally gets interesting towards the end of the movie, but Quivrin is stuck with the bland cute cop persona through the whole film.

Just as a side note, the actor who plays the assassin killing the Turkish women is unbelievably gorgeous. ^_^ Just felt like I needed to point that out.

Anyway, the movie was decent, but nowhere near as good as it could have been. Acting was fine, but suffered because of the writing. There were some great scenes, one of my favorites being towards the end Arly Jover having it out with the beautiful assassin with a wicked claw thing on her hand. ^_^ Worth seeing if you enjoy dark thrillers and Jean Reno. If not, don’t even bother.


Wasabi Movie Review

**1/2 out of ****

I have been on a bit of a Jean Reno kick - in fact, right after I finish this review I’ll be writing one for “The Empire of the Wolves”, and I have more Reno movies coming from Netflix.

Premise: French cop Hubert (who has been reprimanded again and again for his tendency to throw punches when working) gets a surprise call from an attorney from Tokyo telling him that his long lost love has died and left him the sole legetee of her will - and guardian of she and Hubert’s nineteen year old daughter - the daughter Hubert didn’t know existed. Needless to say, Hubert hops on the next flight to Tokyo and into a mess of trouble - organized crime, $200,000 in stolen money, and shopping trips with his nineteen year old daughter.

This is an action comedy. There was nothing about this movie that was meant to be taken seriously. And it is hilarious! It’s actually kind of hard to review - it wasn’t a good movie, but it was definitely fun. Ridiculous, over the top, and fun. Taken for what it is, it’s wonderful, and if you’re in the mood for a silly action movie definitely pick this up. And actually, now that I think about it, I’m not quite sure why it’s rated ‘R’ - there are some shoot-em-up scenes, but no blood/gore. You’ve seen much worse in many a ‘PG-13′ movie.

The highlight of this movie is without a doubt Jean Reno. There is just something totally appealing about that actor, and his character was highly amusing. ^_^ Susprisingly the girl playing Yumi, his daughter, was entertaining as well. Skirting the edge of annoying, but not quite crossing over to the dark side. ^_^ The guy playing Reno’s sidekick was pretty obnoxious, but it didn’t detract from the film too much.

There was nothing different, innovative, or amazing about this movie. It had all the usual elements of an action-comedy. Tired story, cardboard bad guys, semi-decent writing. And like most action-comedies, it totally relies on the charisma of it’s main characters to pull the movie through. Which of course, in this casem, worked admirably. ^_^

Anyway, that’s it. I’m done. ^_^ Rent this movie for good silly action entertainment.


Disgust with Horror Flicks

Before I begin, let’s a take a moment a watch a preview for “Hostel 2″.

Click for Hostel 2 Trailer.

I have three words to say after we have taken in this trailer for a film that will be released widespread as mainstream entertainment, aimed at America’s young men.

What. The. Hell.

Actually, I have been saying what the hell for a long time now as horror movies continue to be released depicting the most graphic torture and violent death as modern special effects can produce. And even that’s not enough - moviemakers now feel that they have to add on top of the gore just flat out grossness that makes you want to throw up. Liquified rotting pig corpses? Why? And of course the entire feel of the Texas Chainsaw Masscre movies leaves you feeling dirty.

Hostel sits on top of this mountain of filth, king of the new depths of depraved “entertainment”, but it has plenty of underlings, and plenty more being made. To name a few: Texas Chansaw Masscre: The Beginning. The Hills Have Eyes. Saw III. And not to forget, we have the upcoming seuqel to Hostel, and a charming film called “Touristas”.

Anyone remember the good ole days when “Scream” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” were the generally accepted model for slasher flicks? How about “Halloween”, “Hellraiser”, and “Nightmare on Elm St”?

As audiences grow more and more desensitized and jaded when it comes to horror movies, it seems filmmakers go further and further to shock. After all, it sells. Did you know that in 2005 “Hostel” made $47,326,473 in box office revenue domestically, and another $32,975,701 in foreign revenue?

That’s $80,302,174 for a movie that should have been spat on when it was released.

I firmly believe that there is something seriously wrong when we live in a society that considers movies like Hostel acceptable entertainment. I’m not kidding. I went to the theater to see Hostel, unfortuntately contributing to that box office revenue and giving the filmmakers more money, there were several people who were laughing throughout the movie. I’ve had aquaintences tell me how great and funny the movie is. My good friend Bob told me that he’s been told the same thing. Just so we’re clear about what we’re talking about, Hostel contained some of the most realistic depictions of torture that I have ever seen, and this is constant almost from beginning to end. There is no comic relief. There are no funny lines. Explain to me how this film could possibly be considered funny. It just made me feel physically sick. I’m still kicking myself for not walking out of that theater in the first half an hour.

So. Here is what our society considers not only acceptable, but amusing. And yet we’re shocked when we find out about American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners.

I believe in holding each individual accountable for the things that they do, and I hesitate to blame media entertainment, whether it be books, music, film, or video games, for crime. After all, I watch violent movies, play violent video games, listen to metal, etc, and I’m not about to go kill or torture someone. But as media entertainment gets worse and worse, more and more graphic, desensitizing people to the point where they can laugh at it…. There’s something very, very, seriously wrong here.

I guess I’ll be done for now - after seeing Saw III last night I guess I just needed to vent. I am now thoroughly disillusioned with the new horror movie. It’s too bad that this is the way horror movies are going. Hell, at least ghost movies aren’t anywhere near as bad. Did Kayako (The Grudge movies) every torture anyone? N0 - she just killed them. Quickly and cleanly, I might add. Yeah, I think I’ll stick with vengeful ghost movies and leave the gore and the torture to people who laugh at it.

Maybe I’ll gather some friends, make signs that say something like ”Don’t Pay to see Filth”, “End Torture In Cinema”, “What The Hell Is Wrong With You Crazy People Who Want To See This Movie”, etc. etc., and sit outside the theater when Hostel 2 comes out. Anyone want to protest with me?


Saw III Movie Review

*1/2 out of ****

I have very much enjoyed the Saw movies, especially the second one, so when the third one came out, obviously I was going to see it. I have to admit that I was a little hesitant. All the new movies that have been coming out featuring brutal torture and realistic, graphic death have made me wary when seeing films like this, especially since I know what the Saw movies are about. The movie ended up being exactly what I expected it to be. Which wasn’t really a good thing.

Premise: The third in the Saw saga finds serial killer “Jigsaw” on his death bed, suffering from a brain tumor. His final “game” focuses on a man consumed with hate for the man who accidentally hit and killed his eight year old son, and teaching him to forgive. Meanwhile, his apprentice is ignoring his credo of “teaching” his victims and offering them a chance to save their own lives. Instead, she is devising traps that are impossible for her victims to get out of. Throw in a doctor kidnapped and brought in to sustain Jigsaw’s life until the end of his final game/test, and you have your story.

First let me just say that the only reason I bothered to give this movie one and a half stars is the twist at the end. It’s clever, and totally in keeping with Jigsaw’s character. Other than that, this movie was just a mire of realistic torture and violent death.

I know what you’re thinking. “DUH!!!”

Now let me explain. The first movie was indeed grim and graphic, but tame compared to the films that are being released now. The second film seemed to play more on people’s “heebie jeebie” feelings than on hardcore graphic violence (not that there wasn’t some of that in the film). Anyone remember that pit of hypodermic needles? I was holding out some hope (stupidly) that the third movie might stay closer oto the second one. No. I was wrong. The third film, following the vein of new movies like this, was gross - full of people being ripped apart, twisted around, and one notable scene where a man was nearly drowned in liquified rotting pig corpses. Even thinking about that makes me want to throw up.

I actually spent some of this movie with my eyes averted. I have never, ever done that. I have just had it up to here with this kind of movie.

To move on to the more technical aspects of the film, the acting was fairly decent, the writing was fine, and the special effects all too good. I don’t really hace much else to say about this film. It’s just another installment in the steady downhill slide of what is considered acceptable entertainment in the media.


Slither Movie Review

**1/2 out of ****

I have been wanting to see this movie since I first learned that it was being made. The trailers were great, and I love actor Nathan Fillion (of “Firefly” and “Serenity”). Unfortunately I missed my chance to see it in the theater, and had to wait for it to come out on video. Seriously, I had this movie on my Netflix queue before there was even a release date. And after finally seeing it, I can safely say that I was not disappointed. ^_^

Premise: Small, sleepy, southern town celebrating the beginning of deer hunting season. Meteor. Alien worm thing. Need I say more? ^_^ This movie has a very Master of Puppets-like theme. Alien worm thing takes over the body of a prominent citizen, Grant, who uses people as a host for the incubation of all those little slug things. Slug things take over more people, and pretty soon you have a zombie-esque army all connected to good ole Grant. Main characters are Nathan Fillion playing police chief Bill Pardy and Elizabeth Banks playing Grant’s wife, Starla, who spend the bulk of the movie trying to find Grant and end the terror.

I was expecting this movie to be really bad. It wasn’t. It was actually hilarious. The beginning of the film isn’t bad, but it’s nothing special, but as the movie goes on, it gets funnier and funnier. The script is great, and Nathan Fillion is wonderful. Actually, I’ll go so far as to say that Nathan Fillion totally makes the whole movie. The guy who plays the mayor is hilarious too - great supporting character!

This is a James Gunn film, and since James Gunn is the same guy who wrote the newer version of Dawn of the Dead, you would expect some gore, but this movie is gross. I mean seriously gross. Not just gore, though there’s plenty of that, but throw in people eating raw, rotting meat, dead animals, the slimy little slug things themselves, and more in that vein, and you’ve got a disgusting film. Word of advice - don’t eat while watching. I actually think this was the biggest drawback of the movie - the overload of grossness. And actually the overload of swearing, too. Swearing doesn’t bother me at all, but it was constant through this whole movie. When Nathan Fillion says something like “That is some fucked up shit” with his deadpan expression it’s funny, but it would be even more funny if people hadn’t been saying “fuck” every two seconds through the whole movie.

Bottom line, this was actually a pretty good movie. Intentionally funny, good acting, good script, good (but gross!) special effects. Very entertaining, and very worth watching!


Ju-on 2 Movie Review

Ju-on (The Grudge) 2
** out of ****

I very much enjoy watching the original Japanese horror flicks that America likes to remake. Interestingly enough, as much as I like to slam anything that America remakes as being inferior, these Japanese horror movies are actually worse than their American counterparts. Usually the acting and the ghost design are the biggest problems. But I still love watching them anyway, so when I was at Hollywood Video last night (with French film “Empire of the Wolves” already in hand) and passed Ju-on (the grudge) 2, I had to pick it up.

As a side note, this movie was completely different than The Grudge 2. I thought that The Grudge 2 was another remake, especially since Ju-on 2 was made in 2003 and has the same writer, but nope, Ju-on 2 is a completely different movie. So that was a nice surprise - I wasn’t just seeing the Asian version of a movie that I had already seen. Premise: The story follows several characters during and after they film an episode of a popular TV show in a haunted house. If you’ve seen Ju-on, you know exactly which house the idiots chose for their location. ^_^ Angry ghosts cheerfully go after their new targets, causing terror and death wherever they go… except for in one character’s case, where there’s this whole silly (and typical) pregnancy storyline. You know what I’m talking about. The whole “she’s pregnant… but with what?!” storyline.

On the whole, I was entertained by this movie, but completely unimpressed. There were a couple of neat things about two of the storylines, and that was it. Amusingly enough, for the most part the characters seemed content to sit, stare, and make horrified noises as the ghost approaches them at a pace a slug could outrun. Now, I’ve never been in this situation, but I am pretty sure that if a crazy dead lady was inching her way towards me, I would not sit still and scream, I would run away and scream. If the ghosts are really as incapable of quick movement as they seem, then you could stay away from them indefinitely!

The ghosts were, true to form, less impressive than their American counterparts. Although I will say that in the Japanese versions of The Grudge movies the little boy ghost is much more malevolent. Take this scene, for instance. The main ghost has just hung one of the characters (Nori) with her hair, and the character remains suspended from the ceiling. Girlfriend walks in, and the little boy ghost is looking directly at her as he pushes Nori’s legs, causing him to swing back and forth, back and forth, a macabre pendulum.

The movie doesn’t really start to get bad until the last half an hour, twenty minutes or so. Then the pregnancy aspect of the storyline concludes, and it’s just so ridiculous that you’re left rolling your eyes. It’s not even worth laughing at.

So, bottom line: fun movie, the end sucks. I enjoyed watching it, and I never need to see it again. ^_^


Disappointment in the Female Action Hero

I was just talking to a friend the other day about one of my biggest pet peeves this year: female actresses in action movies. More specifically, their tendancy towards the stick thin image of “beauty” that is so strived for that leaving you wondering, “how the hell did she just throw that guy twenty feet away when her arm looks like a toothpick?!”

There are a few notable exceptions, of course - Linda Hamilton, “Terminator 2″. Sigourney Weaver, “Alien 3″. Jessica Biel (surprisingly!), “Blade Trinity”. These women had a respectable amount of muscle tone. They looked like badasses that you wouldn’t want to mess with.

Now let’s take a look at he other end of the spectrum. Charlize Theron, “Aeon Flux”. Milla Jovovich, “Resident Evil”, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”, “Ultraviolet”. Alexa Davalos, “Chronicles of Riddick”. Oh, and how about this one? Sarah Michelle Gellar. Seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Was it just me, or did she actually lose muscle mass?

I think the whole “toothpick” beauty ideal is disgusting anyway. And it’s a little off topic, but THANK YOU MADRID for banning underweight models from your fashion shows!!! Long live healthy BMIs!!! But, anyway… back to my rant. So not only do these actresses look unhealthy and unattractive, they make themselves completely unbelieveable in the rolls they play. How is it that this continues to be encouraged in the media? My god, when the Tomb Raider movies came out, everyone was talking about how “hardcore” Angelina Jolie’s training had been. Umm… where was her muscle definition? Was it hiding? Did it not like the camera? (Notice I don’t even bother to bring up “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”…)

I wonder who would win: Demi Moore - “G.I. Jane”, or (good lord) Keira Knightly - “King Arthur”. How about these disappointments? Jennifer Garner in ”Elektra”. Actually, I will say that at least Garner isn’t as stick thin as these other examples. Kristanna Loken in ”BloodRayne” was a brutal disappointment to me. She wasn’t rail thin, but she looked kinda like a couch potato. She is a freaking BAD ASS VAMPIRE ACTION HERO! Give her a LITTLE freaking muscle!!! And Anne Parillaud, “La Femme Nikita”? Please. I could break her over my knee. Summer Glau, of “Firefly” and “Serenity”. Yes, I understand that due to tampering of her brain in theory she is supposed to be a badass warrior. Guess what? Physically she’s so frail that she couldn’t possibly do half the things she does on screen. I will conclude with Kate Beckinsdale in the “Underworld” movies. Enough said.

I understand that some of the above mentioned characters have power that negates the need for physical prowess. We’ll use Buffy the Vampire Slayer as an example. But don’t you have to train to get that good? Guess what - All that training, in theory, is going to build muscle.

I’m sick of seeing pathetic stick insects playing badass heroines. I don’t like action heroes who look like they weigh less than my sister’s dog. So let’s hear it for muscle tone! You don’t have to be buff, ripped, weightlifter built… just try not to look like you’re anorexic or don’t do anything but sit on your couch and watch TV, please. It would do wonders for the image of the female action hero in the movies. And it would sure make me enjoy them a hell of a lot more. ^_^

So, in conclusion… are we betting on Sarah Michelle Gellar--

-- or Linda Hamilton?


Lady Vengeance Movie Review

Lady Vengeance
**1/2 out of ****

I am happy to say that the third of Korean director Chan Wook Park’s “vengeance” movies was much, much better than the second. I was exceedingly skeptical that this one would be any good, but I decided to give it a chance, and was rewarded for my faith. ^_^ Still not as good as Oldboy, but as long as it was better than Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance I was going to be happy.

Premise: A woman of nineteen is imprisoned for allegedly murdering a five year old boy. Thirteen years later she’s out of jail, changed from the angelic girl she was in prison to a woman cool and set on her business - looking for vengeance on the man who set her up. She enlists the aid of her former cellmates, each of whom comment on how she has changed, setting into motion a plan thirteen years in the making. During her quest she is reuinited with her daughter, and gets a job at a bakery. ^_^

This seems to be Park’s attempt at dark comedy, and for the most part, he succeeded. The biggest problem with this movie came when it just would not end. Someone did an extremely poor editing job on this film. And there was kind of a stupid side storyline with the main character’s (Guem-Ja) daughter. that could pretty much have been completely cut out.

The movie was pretty funny, which was quite refreshing after watching Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and the core story was well told and very clear. There were a couple of scenes that left you trying to figure out what was going on, but nowhere near as badly as the second in this trilogy. The end, of course, was shockingly brutal. Looks like Park always has to get in his quota of gore and “O_O Holy crap!” scenes. But I have to say, there was something satisfying about the end. It’s always satisfying when the bad guy gets it good. Especially in this case, when the bad guy had murdered four children.

The bottom line - cut away all the extraneous crap, which would probably shorten the movie by at least forty five minutes, and you have a very decent film.


Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Movie Review

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
* out of ****

Wow. BAD MOVIE. This is the second in Korean director Chan Wook Park’s “vengeance” trilogy, and I have to say that after watching Oldboy, which was excellent, this came as a brutal let down.

Premise: A deaf and mute young man (Ryu) sells one of his kidneys on the black market to save his older sister, who is dying and can’t afford an organ transplant surgery. When the black market people rip him off, he and his radical revolutionary girlfriend kidnap the daughter of Ryu’s former boss, who had just recently fired Ryu from his job. **This next section will contain spoilers, so if you want to see this movie (and I don’t see why you would!) don’t read it.**

Okay, this was a decent, if unimaginative, premise. However, Park takes this premise and tries to turn it into some ridiculously dark, desperate, twisted film, with more in the way of brutal and gory scenes. I like dark films and I don’t mind brutal and gory, but it’s got to be done well, and it needs to be something besides utterly pointless. And stupid. Which is what this movie was.

So, here’s the sequence of events: Ryu tries to get his sister a new kidney via black market. Black market guys rip him off. Ryu and girlfriend kidnap a little girl. Ryu’s sister finds out and kills herself. While burying his sister, little girl accidentally drowns. Little girl’s father kills Ryu’s girlfriend. Ryu kills the black market guys. The father kills Ryu. Girlfriend’s revolutionary terrorist group kills the father. The end.

Not only was this whole movie completely pointless, poorly done, and brutal, you hated every single one of the main characters. There were no good guys - everyone was evil. Evil as in torture and brutal murder. Yay. Just what we all want to see. On top of all this, the story was completely disjointed. Half the time you have no idea what’s going on, where characters are, and why they’re doing what they’re doing.

In conclusion, I’ll say again that Chan Wook Park was trying to make a dark, desperate film, and succeeded only in making a twisted, unlikeable movie that has absolutely nothing to appreciate.


Point Defiance Zoo, August 2006

This has been a tale a long time in coming. I have put off the terrible memories for as long as I can, but I must share this story with anyone who will read it. Maybe sharing the terror and pain can finally erase the nightmares that have plagued my sleep since that fateful day.

A few months ago my boyfriend and I decided that we were spending too much time watching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and that we needed to get out and do something. Since it seems that I am always the one forced to come up with something new and interesting to do, I suggested the Point Definace Zoo in Tacoma. This might seem a strange thing to suggest, and I thought at the time that I was suggesting it because it was once again time to get in touch with my inner child and I wanted to see the sharks, but I now believe that there were other forces at work in making that decision.

It started innocently enough. Andrew and I went to my parent’s home so we could look up directions to the zoo and print them out. I do not own a printer, and neither of us was interested in copying the directions out onto a piece of paper. Yes, both of us are very lazy. The trip to my parent’s place probably cost us about twenty minutes, but we didn’t care. It was worth it to be able to utilize the printer. Directions in hand, we were on our way once again. The tip to Tacoma was uneventful, and with the aid of the MapQuest directions we were able to find the zoo with little difficulty. It was a nice day, and we were ready for some relaxing zoo fun. I even told Andrew that before we left we had to ride the recently restored carousel that was set up.

We wandered through a couple of the exhibits, non threatening small animals and fish. There was a special seahorse exhibit in the small aquarium, and we enjoyed ogling at the strange little fish. Then, we made our first mistake. We went to see the sharks.

That section of the aquarium was eerily quiet, and the sharks were circling their tank with silent malevolence. We watched the sharks, agape at their majesty, when the worst thing immaginable happened - the glass cracked, then burst forth with a mighty rush of water, spilling the sharks directly towards us! With my handy waterproof camera I was able to snap the shot you see here of one of the sharks coming right for us, intent on our demise! Andrew and I made a mad dash for the exit, swimming as fast as we could away from the wicked beasts! We forced the door open, and with the help of some of the zookeepers, forced the door closed again as the water forced it’s way through. Fortunately none of the sharks escaped as well, and we were safe once again. We heard one of the zookeepers muttering under his breath, “second time this month”, and decided to get the hell out of the aquarium.

The hot sun dried our sopping clothing quickly, and though all we wanted to do was escape from the hell that the zoo had now become in our eyes, we managed to misread our map and took a wrong turn - right into the jaws of the waiting Siberian tiger!

Terror does not begin to describe what we felt when that tiger looked over us measuringly, then casually leaped over the safety moat and fence with a mighty spring, and came right for us! Andrew threw the map into it’s face, temporarily blinding it and giving us time to escape. Our lives were safe once again, but now we were without a map with no way of navigating the maze of pathways, each one of which could lead to a deadly trap. We gathered our courage, realizing that the only thing to do was to forge onwards, and moved on.

The creatures we encountered next all seemed to have some evil glint in their eye, even the most innocuous of them. Puffins, reindeer, they all seemed to be planning something cruel. Maybe this was just paranoia on our parts, but I will swear until the day I die that all the zoo was plotting our death that day.

Fleeing the puffins and deer, we found ourselves near the polar bears.

Clearly this was not a good place to be.

Swiftly bypassing the beluga whale who was doing tricks for fish treats, wolves, and several other potentially fatal encounters, we finally found ourselves back at the exit. And the carousel. Determined to get some fun out of our experince, Andrew dragged me to the ticket booth and purchased two tickets. Before I could protest, it was too late, and we were on the carousel as it whirled around the sickening speed, making griding noises that made one start to doubt it’s stability. You can plainly see the terror on Andrew’s face.

When it finally stopped, we bolted out before the entire mechanical structure colapsed on our heads - and headed straight into the gift shop. But even the gift shop, a building that we thought of as a safe haven, wasn’t safe. We were surrounded by danger, even in a room filled with inanimate objects.

We escaped that day safely, with only our scarred souls bearing the marks. I hope that my sharing this experience with the wider public will start to heal those scars. So if you are planning a trip to the zoo any time soon, beware.

Anything can happen.


Oldboy Movie Review

*** out of ****

This Korean action/drama is a somewhat strange piece of work. This is the first in director Chan-wook Park’s “vengeance” trilogy (followed by “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” and “Lady Vengeance”, neither of which I have yet seen).

Premise: A man is kidnapped off the street and imprisoned in one room for fifteen years. Furious and desperate, all his pleas for an explanation ignored, he swears to escape and wreak vengeance on whoever is responsible for his predicament. Suddenly, he is released. Of course the first thing he does is go out and meet a girl, who starts trying to help him discover the mystery of his kidnapping. When he starts to get close to unraveling the knot, the man who imprisoned him shows up and gives five days to discover who his kidnapper is and why he was imprisoned, or the girl he has met and fallen in love with will be killed. Thus the race is on, and with the aid of an old friend and the girl, the main character, Oh Dae Sun, plows headlong for the movie’s shocking conclusion.

If nothing else, this movie is original - I can safely say that I’ve never seen anything quite like it. And I have seen a lot of movies.

When I rented this I was expecting a straight up action movie. I was wrong. The deeper the story goes the more twisted it gets, involving hypnosis, incest, and murder, and ends with a shocking conclusion. The film is also surprisingly visualy artistic, throwing in interesting bits of cinematography and gimics every once in a while. I was taken aback at a few of the scenes (including a lovely little incident where the main character pries out a man’s teeth with the claw end of a hammer), I was pleasantly surprised with the movie, and ended up appreciating it quite a bit.

The acting was good - not spectacular, but not bad, either. The story is excellent, and hard to predict, which is refreshing. The final twist at the end is definitely not something that you’ll guess. For once I don’t really have anything bad to point out about the movie - It’s hard for me to pinpoint specific negative qualities for this particular film. It tells a good story, and it tells it very well with all the mysteries explained at the end, but it doesn’t really start to suck you in for a while. And the bad guy isn’t quite as convincing as you would expect him to be. The actor was fine - I think it was the way the character was written.

Anyway, if you don’t mind your movies a little (or a lot) twisted, this film is definitely worth watching.


The Marine Movie Review

The Marine
** out of ****

All hail the great American Bad Action Movie! Yes, I actually did go see this in the theater. Even my dad refused to go see this film. And not only did I go see it… I enjoyed it. In light of this information you may now faint, gasp, or laugh as needed. If you know me, it’s certainly no secret that I love bad action movies (commonly referred to as “Guy Movies”). I love Rambo, the Terminator, and all the rest. Granted, this movie was worse than most, but it was still a blast!

Premise: The Marine is kicked out of the corps for disobeying a direct order (although the disobediance of which resulted in the saving of American soldiers in Iraq, of course), and after a brief stint (one day) as a security guard, he and his ditz - I mean wife - decide to take a short road trip into the mountains. Disaster! Wife is kidnapped as a hostage by a notorious criminal for no discernable purpose, except for the vague, “we may need a hostage” which is repeated throughout the entire movie. As you may expect, they never actually need a hostage, and actually encounter no one except for The Marine throughout their entire getaway. Through explosions, car chases, bad lines, and silly fights, The Marine dogs their every step, determined to get his woman back!

The first hint as to how bad this movie is should be it’s name - “The Marine”. The second is the lead actor, WWF wrestler John Cena. The third - the actress who plays his wife is Kelly Clarlson. I am of the personal opinion that during auditions for the role of Cena’s wife, they chose the ditziest woman they could find. The only even halfway decent acting came from bad guy Robert Patrick (of Terminator 2 fame).

Of course, it’s not about the acting when it comes to movies like this - It’s about the explosions, the fighting, and the cheesy lines you quote to your friends for days afterwards! And this movie had explosions, fighting, and cheesy lines galore. I went and saw this movie with the only person who will see these terrible movies with me - Bob. Bob and I were laughing through the entire film. It was wonderful!

It’s hard to break down the good and the bad in this movie, because it was pretty much all bad. And it was great!

“They have a hostage. It’s my wife!


The Grudge 2 Movie Review

The Grudge 2
**1/2 out of ****

First off, I want to say that this was a sequel that was much better than the first installment. The Grudge was mostly laughable. I am mostly alone in thinking this - my friends who have watched this movie somehow managed to find parts of it creepy. That is not to say that I don’t like The Grudge because I do, very much, and am completely entertained whenever I watch it. I was expecting more off the same from the sequel, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually less unintentionally humorous than the first one, almost unheard of for sequels to horror movies.

This time around, the movie follows three separate storylines - Sarah Michelle Gellar’s sister Aubrey, come to Tokyo to investigate Gellar’s death, an international private Tokyo high school student, and a family in Chicago. It’s obvious what the first two stories have to do with the ghosts featured in the Grudge, since both characters featured in those storylines enter the house (thus incurring the wrath of the disgruntled spirit) but the reasons behind the family in Chicago remains a mystery until the end. It’s actually a delightful twist (even if it doesn’t make all that much sense when you think about it).

There was good and bad about this movie. Plenty of bad, in fact (after all, it IS a sequel to the Grudge!!). The good: All three storylines were entertaining, and surprisingly enough, for the most part acting was fairly decent. There were a few ghost scenes that were genuinely chilling. Not scary - I honestly do not get scared when I watch horror movies - but nicely chilling. You definitely don’t get that with every ghost movie these days. I mean, come on, look at Pulse. That was ridiculous beginning to end. And I’ve already mentioned this, but the twist at the end was really cool, even though it doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny.

The bad: First and foremost was Ghost Overload. I’m not kidding - it felt like every two seconds you were seeing one of the ghosts. An overload like that takes away from the chill factor. You end up just thinking, “oh, there she is again…”. And I really think that the little boy ghost is really just in the game for kicks - he IS a little boy, and all he really does is sit in corners and sometimes make cat yowling noises. Why? Because he’s not a disgruntled spirit, he just gets a kick out of scaring people. Probably played lots of pranks when he was alive. The acting was mostly decent, like I said, but there were definitely a few people in that movie who need to go back to acting school. Again, I’ll bring up the twist at the end. Cool, but really, could have been better. It just doesn’t really make sense. After the initial, “SWEET!” moment you have when all is revealed, you start thinking “…wait a second….”.

And one more thing….

If the ghost is physical enough to grab you like this, why don’t you just punch her or something? Come on!


New Kitten

Saturday morning my friend Bob and I sent out on a journey far to the east, traversing foggy, rainy highways, great bodies of water, perilous mountains, and arid lands.... all the way to Ellensburg. The object of this daring adventure was the aquisition of the most precious of household companions... the KITTEN!

We started out early in the morning for the 9:40 ferry to Seattle where we acquired Andrew and food from Safeway to keep us alive on the long road ahead. Such delicacies as "Fruit by the Foot", kettle chips, power bars, other such snacks, and one caeser salad were purchased and consumed over the course of our journey, which we would discover later would barely sustain our strength. The road was long, but we girded our strength and forged onwards. Our goal was not one to be abandoned lightly.

We flew along the express lanes heading for I-90 to get out of Seattle when we ran into our first obstacle - Traffic! After sharing the express lanes with only our shadow, our progress came to a screeching halt as we found ourselves entangled in the dreaded Traffic Jam. Andrew bemoaned his ill advised instructions to take the express lanes as we watched cars passing freely on the freeways to either side of us. We turned on the radio in the hopes that we might be enlightened as to the cause of this situation. We eventually heard that it was a car fire that had caused the nightmare, and our thirst for knowledge thus sated, we proceeded to sit and twiddle our thumbs for what seemed like an eternity, realizing that our newly acquired information would really do us no good. Finally moving again, we passed the burned out shell of what had been a car - windows shattered, tires melted, the frame blackened - and with a quick statement of hope that the occupants of the car were uninjured and gratitude that it wasn't our car, we continued.

We quickly realized that the route we were taking was not going to get us to I-90 and the next leg of our journey, so we took the next exit and made a stop at a gas station. The car was hungry and unprepared to carry us to our destination far to the east without a good meal, so I filled the beast with gasoline as Andrew ventured into the station to ask for directions to I-90, proving once again that the statement "men never ask for directions" is false (a fact which never ceases to amaze me). In short order we were back on the road, and headed towards that long strip of asphalt that would take us to our destination.

We didn't stop again until we reached the tiny town of Cle Elum. This was a perilous stop, as we were deep in the sparsely populated eastern lands, and had sighted pickup trucks and men wearing orange camoflage who would quite likely turn on us if they happened to see the "Frodo Failed, Bush Has The Ring" bumper sticker on my car. It was a tiny town, but we stopped at the Safeway for a much needed (some might say desperately needed) trip to the restroom, and went next door to a cafe where Bob, the valiant driver of my car, purchased coffee in an attempt to maintain his flagging energy. Andrew purchased a chai, and someone must have seen the bumper sticker because they tried to poison him - the chai was overwhelmingly sweet.

On the road again (safely away from both men in orange camoflage and vindictive baristas), and it wasn't long before we reached Ellensburg. We navigated our way through roads with names such as "Uptanum" and "Manastash", passing 90 acre farms with huge fields of various vegetation and livestock. We turned down one wrong driveway and were stared down by a vicious bull with burning red eyes surrounded by his harem of meek cows before we were on the right track again. Finally we reached our destination - a small yellow and brown house with a large brown barn behind it. We were welcomed by the sight of the friendly elderly cat breeder holding the precious orange and white bundle of fur we had come to acquire.

Barbara offered us refreshments and invitied us to sit down, taking pity on our obviously weary selves, faced with the fact that we were only halfway finished with our trip. After allowing us to sit and talk for a bit, she introduced us to all of her lovely cats. On the way to visit the cats in the barn there was an alarming cloud of wasps that we were forced to walk by, but the wasps took mercy on us after our long journey an allowed us to pass unmolested. The cats were Siberians and Norwegians. Orange, black, seal point, torbies... all beautiful, all friendly. After much fawning over the cats, Barbara sent us on our way with the tiny kitten and a bag of apples from her apple trees.

The ride home was uneventful. The kitten was named "Stella" (if you ask me, I'll tell you she was named after a character from Anne Rice's "The Witching Hour" and if you ask Bob and Andrew, they'll tell you she was named after the beer Stella Artois). Stella slept through much of the return journey and caused no trouble. Valiant Bob, drained of energy at last, turned the wheel over to Andrew and had a well earned nap. I sat in the back with my new kitten and read my book, and the hours flew past. Finally, I took the wheel while on the ferry, and got us the rest of the way home.

Ah, home at last. After such a grueling journey it was like heaven. The kitten, Stella, was turned loose, and unafraid, she proceeded to thoroughly explore everything. She is affectionate, friendly, and adventurous. Playful, energetic, and sleepy. She's wonderful. Our journey was more than worth it. ^_^

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Lucky # Slevin Movie Review

Lucky # Slevin
***1/2 our of ****

Rarely am I priviledged enough to watch a really, really good movie. That's they way with most of us, I imagine, unless most movie watchers are a lot more discerning that I am. ^_^ Anyway, Lucky # Slevin was just that - a really, really good movie. It had a great cast who can actually act (novel concept!), sharp writing, an entertaining store with a nice little twist (if slightly predictable) at the end, and did I mention the great cast?

Okay, here we go:

Hapless Josh Hartnett plays Slevin Iforgetthelastname who goes to visit a friend, Nick. First person he runs into is an adorable Lucy Lui:

And just so we're all clear, I do not often like Lucy Lui, but she was good in this movie.

And due to a case of mistaken identity, Slevin is promptly hauled off to meet with mob boss #1, Morgan Freeman! Guess what! Nick owes Freeman money, and Freeman thinks Slevin is Nick! How can things get any worse?

THEN he gets hauled off to see mob boss #2, Sir Ben Kingsley! More owed money! Things are worse!

Throw in slithery hitman Bruce Willis, and you've got a real mess!

Oh NO! Poor hapless Slevin and Adorable Lucy Lui must now figure out what to do!

But wait! Are things truly as they seem?

And that was the severely abbreviated version of the plot. ^_^

The acting is great, and the banter between characters was wonderful. I love it when movies pull off that light, constant, tit for tat banter. And like I said before, the casting is great. I mean, how much more perfect can you get than Freeman and Kingsley as mob bosses? And we all know how badass Bruce Willis is as a hitman. Like we've never seen that before. ^_^ Stanley Tucci has a smaller part, but he's still great. When Josh Hartnett isn't in terrible chick flicks he's a good actor, and this movie even made me like Lucy Lui. The whole movie is worth watching just for the end-- even if you do guess the twist, it's infinitely satisfying. The movie also a bit more violent than you might expect, so if you don't like a bit of graphic violence with your gangster movies you should probably avoid it.

And in conclusion...

This movie is awesome.

That's it. ^_^ I'm done!