BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER (**)- Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is exactly the way you would expect a movie titled Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever to be. Like Starship Troopers or the recent Reign of Fire , it’s one of those films that’s so bad it’s actually enjoyable. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this many explosions and gun shots crammed into ninety minutes (actually, if you count XxX it hasn’t really been that long). The plot is an incomprehensible mess; everybody in the movie seems to be simultaneously trying to kill each other and work together to kill someone else. Even after discussing it with several people, I still have no idea what actually happened. Not that it matters in a film like this. If anybody pays to see Ecks vs. Sever it won’t be for the story, it’ll be for the action, and on that front the movie delivers well. The special effects are slick and occasionally even stylish (check out Lucy Liu shooting at the cops with that big machine gun in super slow-motion, a la Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels), and come at us so fast that we hardly have time to catch our breath and realize that the script is ludicrous. I might also mention that the film is directed by a man (I’m assuming it’s a man) who calls himself “Kaos”. Now, I don’t know what he looks like, or if he even speaks English, but with a name that cool he could definitely star in a movie like Ecks vs. Sever and draw a huge crowd. I know I’d go to see it.
BATTLEFIELD EARTH (*1/2)-the rumors trickled in slowly at first. It was bad. Really, really bad. But as more and more people saw it, "Battlefield Earth" quickly became dubbed "the worst movie of the year" by numerous critics and magazine articles. And I hate to follow the crowd, but I'd have to agree. This movie sucks. It is, as they say numerous times throughout the film, "crap lousy". To describe the "plot" would be pointless because there really is none, but I will try. The movie takes place in the year 3000. An evil race of aliens called "Psychlos" have been ruling the Earth for the past 1000 years (meaning they took it over, er... last year)and have killed most of the humans. The ones thy didn't kill have been enslaved, and the ones who haven't been enslaved are all hiding out in the mountains. They look and act like cavemen, but speak english quite well. When the movie opens, one of these cavemen (a guy named "Johnny" who is played by, unless I am mistaken, the same guy who played the sniper in "Saving Private Ryan")decides to leave his tribe and go out to explore the rest of the world. I forget why. Anyway, so he's wandering around and he meets some other cavemen and they take him to this abandoned mall, and then some Psychlos show up and take them as prisoners. Some stuff happens, some more stuff happens, and before long Johnny has organized a revolt among the cavemen slaves. It's pretty dumb. If you really want to find out what else happens, you can go rent the movie, but I wouldn't suggest it. Here are some of my favorite aspects of the film: 1.)the fact that "all the armies of the world put up a measley nine minute fight against the Psychlos before being completley decimated" and yet a rag tag bunch of cavemen with rocks and sticks could defeat them relativley easily. 2.)The part where Johnny is running around suffocating because "there's no air" and yet there is fire all over the place. YOU CAN'T HAVE FIRE WITHOUT AIR! 3.)The part where the cavemen fly around in Harrier jumpjets which have apparently been unharmed by 1000 years of no matinence. And are conveniently fuled. 4.)This quote from the back of the box the video came in, which I am not making up at all: "This original and innovative saga of alien conquest and human rebellion is filled with humor, adventure and jeapordy, mixed with special effects that are completley real, combine for an explosive and highly entertaining movie that will leave you exhausted." Check that out. The special effects are COMPLETLEY REAL! They had real alien spaceships and lazers and stuff! Cool! 5.) The fact that, apparently, this is the type of thing Scientology is all about. The movie is based on a book by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who I am sure must have made up the entire religion on a dare. "Hey, L. Ron! Bet you can't make up your own religion and somehow get many celebrities to follow it!" "Can too!" 6.)John Travolta's goofy accent. It's kind of British, but with a little bit of alien mixed in for good measure. Yeah. Anyway, that's about all I have to say about this movie. It's really, really bad.
BEDAZZLED (***)-Brendan Fraiser plays a loser who signs a contract with the devil (played by Elizabeth Hurley) which says that he can have seven wishes in exchange for his soul. That's pretty much the entire plot. Oh, yeah, the guy has a crush on this woman in his office, but he's never talked to her, yadda yadda yadda. The movie is pretty much just Brendan Fraiser and Elizabeth Hurley dressing up in various costumes and acting silly/sexy (respectivley). The acting and writing are about as good as can be expected from a movie like this, I suppose. Actually, Brendan Fraiser does a pretty convinving job as the pathetic main character, and some of the dialogue isn't too bad. Not enough of the movie is funny enough for me to really reccomend it, though. Also, the end gets a little corny and a little preachy. It's not a bad comedy, overally, but there are certainly better ones out there.
BEING JOHN MALKOVITCH (****1/2)-crazy, man. This is a crazy movie, but it's really good. The plot is kind of difficult to explain, but it's basically about this grungy pupeteer (John Cusack) who finds a portal in his office that leads to the inside of John Malkovitch's head. Lots of weird humor and characters make this a memorable, enjoyable movie. Well, I thought it was enjoyable anyway. Check it out and see what you think.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI (****1/2)- this is a really good movie from the Coen Brothers (the guys who made "Fargo"). Jeff Bridges plays "The Dude", a slacker among slackers who lives in Los Angeles and ends up having to track down a million dollars. Very funny, but also with some pretty serious parts (but not many). Artisticly done, but not in a stupid way. My favorite character is the cowboy. Check it out.
BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE(***)/ BOGUS JOURNEY(***)- I love these two movies. They're really funny. Actually, I haven't seen either of them for quite a while, so I don't remember exactly why I liked them... I just did. Watch them, if you get the chance. (wait! read the next review for a more in-depth discussion on "Bogous Journey").
BILL AND TED"S BOGOUS JOURNEY (****)- I am probably compromising my role as a reliable critic (as if I ever had that role) by giving this film such a high rating, but oh well. I love the Bill and Ted movies, especially "Bogous Journey". How could they top sending the clueless duo back in time? By sending them to the afterlife, of course! It's pure genius! The plot of this film involves Bill and Ted (who were established previously in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" as being two less-than average "dudes" who are in a band called "Wyld Stallyns" and live in the town of "San Diemas, California") battling evil robot clones of themselves. The robots were sent from the future by the villian, who's name I forget (probably "Malcor") to destroy the REAL Bill and Ted, take over their lives, and then ruin everything for the future (because, see, it turns out that in the future, the world is perfect because of Bill and Ted and thier Wyld Stalyans' music). I'm doing a pretty poor job explaining this plot. Anyway, it dosen't give too much away to say that the robots do in fact kill Bill and Ted. The duo then face Death, and have to travel through the afterlife in an attempt to stop the robots and save their girlfriends/the future. The entire thing, if you ask me, is hilarious. The guy who plays Death, especially, is worth renting the video just to see. This movie also features Kanu Reeves before he was really famous, playing Ted (or maybe Bill, I always forget). Anyway, I would highly, highly suggest this movie. AND, something I just noticed when I was watching the credits, Alex Winter (who plays Bill... or maybe Ted) actually plays his own grandmother in the Hell scene! It's great! So, yeah... go rent this movie. It's (lame joke coming up) "excellent".
THE BOURNE IDENTITY (***1/2)- one part Mission: Impossible, one part Memento, and two parts Ronin. Matt Damon stars in this international spy flick about a man who doesn’t know who he is, but does know that a lot of people want to kill him. Now I know what you’re thinking: “It’s just The Long Kiss Goodnight but with a dude.” Well, it’s not, really. For one thing, The Bourne Identity is way better than that movie, and, in fact, way better than a lot of the action films out there right now. For one thing, it has a plot. And not just some thin, no-brainer of a thing that only serves as a bridge between explosions and car chases… The Bourne Identity is deeper and more complex, and the action sequences actually seem as if they help the story move along, rather than being tacked on for amusement. For another thing, the acting isn’t all that bad. For once, it’s nice to see a movie about two rather average-looking people doing things you might, if you suspend your disbelief occasionally, believe they might actually do, and do it without sounding as if they’re reading one-liners. Now, this isn’t to say that The Bourne Identity is a great movie. It’s good, and it’s well-made, but it’s nothing that will blow you away or make you think very much after you leave the theater. Which it shouldn’t. After all, this is summer, the season of “sit back and be entertained”, and this movie lets you do just that. For what it is, The Bourne Identity is a good movie, but what it is isn’t much. Check it out if you’re looking for a fun movie which is a step above the rest, but a step below a classic.
BLACK HAWK DOWN (***)- I’ve often wondered how they write the scripts for war movies. There is so little dialogue that is acually audible over the explosions and gunshots, and even when you can hear what the characters are saying, it’s usually just unintlligible military-lingo. “Code red! Drop point cradenza half past the bogey at oh-eight hundred! Go go go!”. That said, I would really like to see the script for ‘Black Hawk Down’ a movie “based on a real event” that took place approximatley ten years ago in Somalia. I imagine there are about twenty pages of real writing, to establish the characters and whatnot (here’s “the young, cockey one” and here’s “the stalwart veteran” and here’s “the unwavering commander”), and then just a single note: ‘Lots of shooting enuses’. Maybe a few more notes about who gets shot, and where, and how much blood, but I don’t imagine there’s much else. And that, my friends, is my real problem with this film. Though there are a lot of cool special effects, and the way the fighting is filmes all seems very “real”, there’s just not much of a story to back it up. All of the characters look like slight deviations of Josh Hartnett (who you may remember from another, not-as-good war movie that came out earlier this year; the notorious “Peral Harbor”). Not to mention that the “enimies” these characters are shooting (and they shoot a LOT) all look so undernourished, it’s like making a video game out of a National Geographic article. I don’t know. This movie is good on the level of mindless, cool-looking entertainment for guys of all ages, but not on many other levels. I’d suggest it if you have an extra seven bucks lying around, and there isn’t anything better playing.
BLADE RUNNER (***1/2)- perhaps you have heard of this movie. People refer to it quite frequently, mostly in magazines and such. I had never seen it before, so when I rented it I was giddy with anticipation. However, by the end I couldn't help but think, "What's the big deal?" (I also had this same problem with "Fargo"). Sure, the special effects are pretty good (even by today's standards) and the acting isn't bad, but... I don't know. It just seemed kind of dumb. Maybe I was expecting too much. If you didn't know, the movie stars Harrison Ford as a retired "Blade Runner" (which is like a police man who has to kill the robot things called Replicants). Anyway, it is set in "Los Angeles, November, 2019" and has your standard futuristic sets... you know, flying cars, weird looking people. Anyway, it attempts to examine human nature, and it actually does a pretty good job. Some parts are kind of violent, but most of the movie is pretty tame. Anyway, I can't say that I really suggest this movie to anyone, but I'm not saying that you shouldn't see it either. Aren't I a good critic?
BLOW (****)- an interesting thing happened to me today. I was talking to a friend of mine, a freind who, on occasion, will engage in rather illegal activities involving drugs, and she said, "So, what did you think of the movie Blow?" And I, who you must understand, does not do drugs ever, and in fact finds them disgusting on a variety of levels, said, "Oh, I thought it was quite good." She looked at me somewhat quizically and then said, "Hm... I thought you wouldn't like it because... you know... you don't like drugs." or something to that effect. The basic point was, she thought that because the movie involved people selling and taking drugs, I would think of it as being bad. This is not the case at all, of course. When I watch a movie, and when I'm trying to judge how good it is, the actions the characters take rarley, if ever, determine how much I like it. There is a difference between how good a movie is, and how good the things the characters in the movie do, is what I mean. I think. "Blow" is a good example of this. It's a really good movie. The script, the acting, the cinematography... all are very impressive. But would I want to hang out with any of the characters portrayed in the film in real life? No, of course not. They are all crazy, and greedy, and pumping themselves full of drugs at every available moment. (Actually, thinking about it, most of the friends I have now are pretty much just like that, only without being greedy. But that's beside the point). So, yes, it's a good movie. It's based on a true story. Johnny Depp plays the main character, and the plot is esentially about his rise and fall as a drug dealer. The acting, as mentioned previously, is very good, especially Paul Rubens (a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman) as a drug-selling hairdresser. Also notable is Johnny Depp's makeup. And the costumes. And although much of the movie is centered around cocaine and marijuana, it does not really condone the use of drugs. I would definatley suggest it.
THE BLUE LAGOON (*)- quite possibly the worst movie I have ever seen. Worse than Battlefield Earth. Worse than Godzilla 2000. Even worse than the origional Mad Max movie. Why is it worse than all these movies? Because it's not even funny. At least with Godzilla and Battle Field Earth you could sort of make fun of the goofy action sequences and the bad special effects. Blue Lagoon has nothing! Just two stupid kids stuck on an island. They have sex a lot. Then they have a baby. There are numerous clips of wildlife interspersed between the scenes which have nothing to do with the rest of the film, and are at first humorous for their randomness, but quickly become annoying. THe writing is bad. The acting is bad. Everything is bad. This movie has Brooke Shileds in it, if anyone cares. She's bad too. Do not rent this movie. Do not even mention it's name, for it is like an oil spill on the sea of filmmaking. It's an Exxon tanker, and the movie industry is an Alaskan shoreline. That's enough of that. Stay away!
BRAVEHEART (****1/2)- apparently midevil Scottish people were very dirty much of the time. Also, long hair and skirts were all the rage among men. This is a movie which has been described by critics as "epic" and "a masterpiece". As for me, I thought it was "pretty good". The main problem I had was that all their crazy accents made it difficult to understand the characters a lot of the time. Also, much of the film was quite low-lit, but i can't really complain too much about that. I mean, look at Fight Club! Anyway, this is a good movie, and you should probably see it, if you have time. I think William Wallace should say, "Catch me Lucky Charms!"
BULWORTH (****)-Warren Beatty plays a California senator running for re-election named Jay Bulworth. In a sleep-deprived daze, he takes out a contract on his own life with only days until the people vote. Realizing that he now has nothing to lose, Bulworth starts giving scadalous speeches, free-style rapping, and dressing like a "gangsta". He also falls in love with a woman named Nina (played by Halle Berry), and this love inspirses him to keep on living. Now he must avoid the hit-man and continue his ghetto-style campaign. The acting and writing in this movie are quite good, especially Warren Beatty's performance. Interestingly, the screen play was also co-written by Beatty, who is pretty active in politics when he is not working on movies (or so I am told). The speeches he gives in "Bulworth" are quite funny, if you don't mind the excessive "dirty words". Actually, the same can be said for the entire movie. Check it out.