Because there just aren't enough movie reviews on the Internet
The newest movies here are a couple of years old. Writing reviews was fun for a while, but I got tired of it. I quit when it started affecting the way I watched movies: I was watching them thinking about how I was going to review them, which began to interfere with enjoying them. I may occasionally write a new review from time to time, but don't count on it.
If this is your first visit here, you might want to take a look at the Introduction to this section. Since I consider the admission price to move theaters an outrageous rip-off, I don't usually review movies until they've been available for rental. If you'd like to me to review a current movie, please send me the name of the movie and a twenty dollar bill to cover admission for me and a friend, and I'll have a review posted for you within a week or so.
The most recent reviews are be added to the top of this page. Older reviews can be found in our movie index. Once they've been here a while they'll be rolled off into an archive.
Reviews on This Page
My Big Fat Greek Wedding Unfaithful We Were Soldiers Road to Perdition One Hour Photo Death to Smoochie Murder By Numbers Collateral Damage Kate and Leopold The Others The Majestic Spiderman Joy Ride Mulholland Dr A Beautiful Mind The Score Sexy Beast The One Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Nurse Betty Planet of The Apes
Index of past THMC Reviews
As a child, I stuck my hand in a flame, learned it burned, and never tried it again. I once banged my head on the wall, discovered it hurt, and never tried it again. So why, oh why, do I subject myself to a Brian DePalma film every five or ten years, hoping that maybe he doesn't still suck? I should know better by now.
He's given up on being an ersatz Hitchcock, and is now trying to create ersatz artsy French films. Three quarters of the first hour is in French, with subtitles. When watching a foreign movie, I prefer subtitles over dubbing, but in an American film it's just one more way for Brian to annoy us.
DePalma does something I've never seen done before: he manages to make a lesbian sex scene boring. It's part of a robbery that goes bad. The heroine escapes the scene with the loot, and has to evade her partners, who want their share. She escapes through a serious of ridiculous, impossible lucky accidents that give new meaning to Dues Ex Machina.
Antonio Banderas stars as the hunk. Of wood. He displays all the charisma of a 2x4. His only purpose in this movie seems to be to make Rebacca Romijin-Stamous' lousy acting look good by comparson.
Half way into the movie I checked the time on my DVD player. It said I had wasted nearly an hour of my life, and would have to waste nearly another hour to finish this thing. I declined. Any director/writer who can't make an audience care about his characters or story in an hour should find another line of work. I didn't think the film could get more pathetic, but then someone told me how it ended. I was wrong.
Ten years ago I worked with someone who got free passes to premiers. Enough passes were given away to fill a theater, and the movie was shown a few days before the official release in order to create a buzz that would sell tickets the first weekend. One show we saw was Raising Cain, another DePalma stinker. On the way out of the theater we heard a woman tell her husband, "We can never, ever, go to a free movie again!" It was that bad. And so is this one. You should never, ever, watch a DePalma movie again, even if it's free.
"Congratulations! You found a boat, in the middle of the ocean."
Stars: Stuff Blowed Up: Plot Holes:
A group of salvage experts, cowboys of the high seas, are led to a derelict ocean liner that's been adrift for forty years. They board it, seeking fortune, and discover that others have been there before them. There's no trace of the original passangers, or of the people who have been on the ship since then.
They see a few ghosts, and then start getting killed in various gruesome ways. In the end we learn just why they are being killed.
This is pretty much your standard haunted house movie, with a few twits. Early on, there's a gory scene that's fairly unique - it's been done before, but never on this scale. The acting is decent, the effects are good, but the story is trite and full of plot holes. Still, it's a fun haunted house flick.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
"What do you mean he don't eat no meat?
That's ok, I make Lamb."
We've seen this story about a million times before. A frumpy girl pretties herself up, meets a cute nice guy, and they fall in love. Their families are from different cultures (in this case, hers are Greek, his are Yuppie) and don't approve of their romance. They overcome their problems and live happily ever after.
This time, it's all handled with a very light touch. The movie is funny and romantic and never gets heavy handed or preachy. This is not a movie that will change your life or your view of the world, it's just a very pleasant way to laugh for an hour and a half. And it's one of those rarest of films: A chick flick that guys will thoroughly enjoy.
Stars: Chick: Snooze:
The first half of the movie Connie Sumner (Diane Lane) has an affair with a sexy European. There are a few steamy scenes, but not nearly enough gratuitous nudity, and no real action. After an hour of nothing happening, something happens. Ah! Now we'll get some action, right? Wrong. Nothing much happens for another hour. And then, after sucking away two hours of our lives, the movie cheats us an ambiguous ending!
The DVD version contained an alternate ending that was about 30 seconds longer. That ending wasn't ambiguous. It was just stupid.
We Were Soldiers
"Sir, Custer was a pussy. You ain’t."
Stars: Stuff Blowed Up:
Lt. Col. Hal Moore, in the book “We Were Soldiers Once, and Young,” complained that none of the movies about the Vietnam war came close to getting it right. Director Randall Wallace, perhaps embarrassed about the horrible fictions in his movie Pearl Harbor, saw that as a challenge, and spent a considerable amount of time with the real people involved with this story before making the movie. As a result We Were Soldiers feels authentic.
Mel Gibson, as Moore, plays perfectly off of Sam Elliot’s Sergeant Major Basil Plumley, a nasty, crusty hard-assed leader. Greg Kinnear does an outstanding job as helicopter pilot Bruce Crandell. Back at home Madeline Stowe, as Julie Moore, becomes the defacto leader of the women left behind.
The battle scenes are gritty, bloody and realistic. We see the tactical decisions, mistakes, and confusion on the battlefield, and the emotions of the men as their comrades unexpectedly die beside them.
Two things make this movie very different from other war movies, and also make it an outstanding film. A great deal of attention is paid to the soldiers' private lives, the wives and kids who have been left behind. Although the battle scenes are gruesome and wrenching, they don’t pack the emotional wallop of Julie Moore back home, taking on the job of delivering the dreaded telegrams that inform the wives that their husbands have died in battle.
We also see the enemy in a different light. They are not portrayed as evil, or stupid, or crazed with blood lust. They are people too, professional solders just doing their job, and they also have people back home who care about them.
When this was showing in the theaters, a hardened Vietnam vet told he it made him cry. “They finally got it right,” he said. That sentiment was echoed by Hal Moore at the end of one of the DVD features. This may be one of the best war movies ever made.
Road to Perdition
"People always ask me if Michael Sullivan was a good man.
And I always give them the same answer. He was my father."
In Chicago, 1931, Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is the primary hit man (not to be confused with Hittman) for the local crime boss John Rooney (Paul Newman). Neither of Michael's sons knows what their dad does for a living. Michael Jr. hides in the car on one of his dads missions, and not only sees his father in action, but also witnesses a brutal and stupid murder committed by Rooney’s son Connor. Connor tries to cover his ass by killing the boy, but instead kills his brother and his mom. Michael Sullivan and son embark on a trip seeking revenge for the murders and refuge for the boy.
Once again, a movie fails because of casting. The Film Noir look of Road to Perdition is just about perfect. Although it drags a bit in spots, it does a good job of telling a good story. There’s enough action and intrigue to keep us interested. But it’s impossible to accept Tom Hanks as the Gangster With The Heart Of Gold. He just doesn’t quite pull it off.
Seeing the movie lead me to buy the book, a beautifully illustrated graphic novel which tells a better story (especally the ending) and is a fun read. Do yourself a favor and get the book instead.
One Hour Photo
" According to The Oxford English Dictionary,
the word "snapshot" was originally a hunting term "
I saw One Hour Photo with my wife and daughter. They didn’t like it because it really creeped them out. I liked it a lot because it really creeped me out.
It’s usually fun to watch Robin Williams play a character other than Robin Williams. Here he’s Seymour Parrish, a harmless little nebbish who has been working forever in the one hour photo section of a department store. Nina Yorkin is one of his regular customers. She calls him by his first name and makes small talk, never suspecting that he’s so obsessed with her family he always makes an extra set of her prints for himself.
Sy tries to ingratiate himself with the family, and when that fails his obsession slowly turns into madness.
With the exception of the Yorkin child Jacob, the family is rather thinly sketched out, without much depth to the characters, but that’s perfect for this movie. The movie has a very Hitchcock feel to it, especially in the final scenes, and the family serves as the McGuffin.
If you enjoy being creeped out, you’ll like this one.
Death to Smoochie
"Don't tell me how to run my fucking business. I'm Rainbow Fucking Randolph!"
This movie takes satirical shots at children's television, corporate greed, organized crime, star making, celebrity, betrayal, and a half dozen other things, and misses every single time. It comes close often enough that we keep watching, hoping it might score a hit. It never does.
Robin Williams is Rainbow Randolph, sweetness and light in front of the camera, a miserable, greedy bastard behind the scenes. When he's busted in a payola scandal the kids network goes on a frantic search for a replacement. They settle on Smoochy The Rhino (Ed Norton), and turn him into the next big thing in children's programming. Rainbow, incensed, contrives plot after plot to bring down Smoochy.
If this movie involved lesser actors most people would have given up on it within the first half hour. Instead, we keep watching, expecting a payoff that never comes. In the end we're left with the desire to see death, not just to Smoochie, but to everyone else involved in the creation of this miserable movie.
Murder By Numbers
This movie can’t decide if it wants to be a murder mystery about two spoiled teenagers who commit a murder for fun, or a psychological look at a cop (Sandra Bullock) trying to come to grips with her past. It does neither very well, and comes across more like a made for TV movie than a Hollywood production. It’s mildly entertaining in spots, but overall it's pretty pathetic.
“Don't even look at those guys unless you can kill 'em.”.
Stars: Stuff Blowed Up: Plot Holes:
Like all red blooded American males, I love Ahnoooold stuff-blowed-up movies. Most of them consist of thin, laughable plots that are little more than an excuse for explosions. This one is a nice change of pace – a Schwarzenegger move with a real plot and some actual acting from Arnie.
Gordy Brewer (Arnold) is a fireman, devoted to saving lives in dangerous situations. A terrorist bomb kills his wife and son, and when it becomes evident the government isn’t going to do anything about it, he takes matters into his own hands and travels to the terrorist’s Colombian base camp. The terrorists blow up more stuff, he blows up terrorists stuff, and then they all return to America, to blow up more stuff.
This movie has a richer plot than most Arnie action films (in other words, it has one), a few silly plot holes, and the unexpected but plausible plot twists and turns. And of course, lots of stuff gets blowed up. It’s good silly fun.
Kate and Leopold
“We keep buying magazines, joining clubs, and doing therapy and watching movies with hit pop songs played over love montages all in a pathetic attempt to explain why our love Santa keeps getting caught in the chimney.”
Stars: Plot Holes: Chick:
I expect movies to surprise me, and am always disappointed when you know exactly how a flick is going to end before it even gets started.
Meg Ryan is Kate McKay, a up and coming corporate big shot trying to succeed in a man’s world by being as manly as possible. Her brother discovers a rift in time, goes back a hundred years, and returns with Leopold Alexis Elijah Walker Gareth Thomas Mountbatten (well played by Hugh Jackman). In his own time, Leopold's wealthy family has fallen on hard times and wants him to mary a homley, wealthy woman. He wants to be an inventor. The brother announces that the time rift will open again in a week, and then be gone forever. You can now write the rest of the script yourself.
Although the performances are decent, the plot holes are stupid and annoying. For instance, on the day Leopold jumps forwared in time, every elevator in the city breaks, because the elevator was one his inventions. Wait, wouldn’t they cease to exist, instead of just breaking? And if they didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be a hundred story buildings in the city. But no, we’re asked to believe the only result is that they break, get fixed, and everything is OK, except that he has to go back to his own time to invent them. Dumb.
The acting is fine but the script is so weak and the story so predictable that this one isn’t worth the time it takes to see it.
"Sometimes the world of the living gets mixed up with the world of the dead."
The good news is that Nicole Kidman has finally learned to act. It’s about time. The bad news is that this movie, for all it’s stylishness, comes across as trite and goofy instead of scary.
Grace Stewart lives in a large house with her two children. They suffer from photosensivity, and must be protected from the light. All the servants have mysteriously vanished, but a new trio show up on her doorstep looking for work. All the while there is growing evidence that the house is haunted, evidence that Grace insists on ignoring.
The surprise shock ending, much touted by the promoters, is neither a surprise or a shock. In fact, you’ve seen it before in a much more popular and better done movie. (Mentioning the name of the movie would be a spoiler.) When the credits roll you’re likely to say to yourself “I waited for that?”
"I'll tell you, in a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it."
The Majestic is not only set in the fifties, it has the soul of a fifties style movie. It moves along slowly, deliberately, taking its time to tell the story.
Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) is a screenwriter who is on top of the world until he becomes a victim of McCarthyism. He suddenly finds himself without a job, abandoned by his friends (including his girlfriend). He gets good and drunk, and then decides to just go on a long drive to no place in particular. The resulting car accident leaves him with no memory of who he is.
He wakes up in a small town that hasn’t yet recovered from WWII. Every family has lost sons to the war, including Harry Trimble, played magnificently by Martin Landau. Harry’s son Luke has been missing in action. Soon everyone is convinced that Peter is Luke, and most of them welcome him with open arms. He eventually starts believing it himself, and convinces his “father” to reopen his rundown theater, The Majestic. Meanwhile, the Evil Bad Guys are trying to hunt down Peter to bring him to justice. And they’re closing in.
This movie is heavy on the corn, and contains quite a few unbelievable plot twists. It’s also a bit on the long side. But if you like fifties movies (and I do) you’ll like this one.
"Follow the cold shiver running down your spine"
Stars: Stuff Blowed Up:
When I was a teenager, Spiderman was my favorite superhero. Superman was too super, the Fantastic Four were too fantastic, and Batman didn't appeal to me until I got older. But I could identify with Peter Parker. Before he got his super powers he was a slightly geeky kid who had trouble with girls, had trouble with his guardians, and was as miserable as most kids are in high school. After he became a superhero he still had the same troubles, with the added complications of a secret life he didn't dare reveal.
Casting makes or breaks comic book movies. Christopher Reeve was perfect for Superman. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen were a great combination for X-Men. Batman never recovered from casting Michael Keaton in the title role. Tobey Maguire was the perfect pick for the likable loser Peter Parker, experimenting alone in his bedroom, trying to control the sticky stuff squirting out of his body. Add Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, and the movie was almost guaranteed to work.
The effects, as expected, were terrific. Some of the action scenes looked a little cartoony, but hey, it's a comic book! Danny Elfman's score was especially well done, heightening the action without ever getting in the way.
Spiderman broke all box office records for a film's first weekend of release – it earned $115 million dollars. That record stood for a whole week before Star Wars blew it out of the water. You don't get that kind of response without a lot of buzz generated with a lot of hype. Fortunately, this film lives up to the expectations generated by it's marketers.
Stars: Stuff Blowed Up:
Stephen Spielberg's first film was Duel, a made for TV movie about a lone businessman being chased by a trucker. Joy Ride uses the same formula, right down to the fact that we never see the truckers face. And it's just as effective this time around.
Brothers Lewis and Fuller Thomas play a rather nasty trick on a trucker. It doesn't work out quite like they planned, and the trucker, bent on revenge, hunts them down and nearly kills them. But he backs off, and seems to disappear, while they pick up Verna (Leelee Sobieski ) and continue their cross-country trip. Of course, the unseen trucker comes back for even more revenge.
This movie comes under the “guilty pleasures” category. Yes, it's cheesy and obvious, but it will have you gripping the armrests of your couch and jumping in your seat.
Stars: Gratuitous Nudity:
There is an implicit contract between a movie viewer and the writer. The viewer will accept loose ends, mysteries and unanswered questions, trusting that the writer to explain things by the movie's end. The loose ends should be tied up, mysteries solved and questions answered before the final credits roll. David Lynch evidently hates his audiences. He gives us mystery after mystery, loose end after loose end, and never once resolves a single one of them.
The movie starts with a well-dressed woman being forced out of a limousine in a wooded area. Before she can leave the vehicle, partying teenagers crash their car into hers. The accident kills her abductors and sets her free. Suffering from amnesia (is there any device more hackneyed that amnesia?) she wanders down into LA and fakes her way into a house where she doesn't belong. She and the woman who lives there discover huge wads of cash in her purse.
Then nothing happens. More nothing happens, and then more nothing, until about 45 minutes have passed. Then someone spits espresso into a napkin and tells a movie director that he will put a certain woman in a certain role in his movie or horrible things will happen to him. Horrible things then start happening to him.
We're treated to scene after scene where more and more questions are raised, and none are answered. Some of these scenes are very entertaining, but the movie never goes anywhere. And just about the time you expect the writer to start explaining things, the reality shifts entirely. Characters change personalities, relationships between characters change for no apparent reason, a dead body becomes a different, live person, and no explanations are given or even hinted at. Evidently some of the previous scenes are supposed to be dreams (the only device more hackneyed than amnesia) but we're not given any clues to which ones.
When the Beatles chopped up recording tape, threw it in the air, and then spliced it together randomly, the result was an interesting hodgepodge of sound. But they were smart enough to limit it to part of one short song. Lynch has evidently used the same method with an two hour movie, and the result is a mess.
Critics loved this film. 80% of them gave it a positive review, proving beyond any doubt that they are completely out of touch with the general public. The film cheats the audience from beginning to end.
Stars: Good photography and some good scenes keep this from getting the dreaded null star. Gratuitous Nudity: Some lesbian sex kicks the movie up a notch just as we're about to give up in frustration. Unfortunately, on the one full frontal nudity shot of Laura Harring her genitalia are blurred out - at least they were on my Hollywood Video tape.
A Beautiful Mind
It is only in the mysterious equations of love that logic or reason can be found
Very loosely based on the life of John Nash, A Beautiful Mind tells the story of a genius who crosses the line into madness, creating an entire world for himself, complete with people and places that don't really exist.
As a student, Nash blows off his classes, convinced that he's destined to discover something amazing in the world of mathematics. He does, by applying math to the problem of getting laid. This leads him to create the Nash Equilibrium, a principle widely used in science and economics. But as his fame spreads, so does his schizophrenia.
The movie does a superb job of bringing us into Nash's world. We're engrossed in what he's doing, and taken by surprise when we find out just how much of it is completely imaginary. The movie is a well done portrayal of genius and madness, but at it's heart it's a love story. Jennifer Connelly, as Alicia Nash, stays with him through his madness, until he eventually rationalizes his own way out of it.
The real Nash didn't start hearing voices until he was 30. In the movie his insanity starts much earlier. The movie Nash doesn't hear from aliens who want him to lead the world in a unified government, the real one did. But this is not a documentary, nor does it pretend to be one. It's just a damn good film.
When was it you started thinking you were better than me?
We've seen this story a thousand times before. Some rare artifact is stored under tight security. It's impossible to steal it. The master thief wants to retire, but another crook won't take no for an answer, so Master Thief decides this will be his One Last Job. Boring, right?
Not in this case. The casting keeps this movie from being just another impossible robbery flick Robert DeNiro is as excellent as always. Edward Norton turns in a masterful performance. And Marlon Brando, as Jabba the Hut, still manages to own the screen whenever he's in a scene.
Brando, DiNero and Norton – need I say more? Rent this one.
To be fair, a reviewer should watch an entire movie before writing a review. But I after an hour I couldn't bear any more of this one.
It starts with Dove, a retired gangster, nearly getting hit with a boulder, which misses him and lands in his swimming pool. After too long a wait Don (Ben Kingsly) shows up, cursing and swearing and demanding that Dove join him in a heist. Dove wants no part of it, but Don won't take no for an answer.
The characters are so miserable, and unlikable, and unbelievable, that I gave up on the mess. Don may want you to rent this movie, but I'd recommend you say no to him.
Stars: Stuff Blowed Up: Plot Holes:
There are 125 different parallel universes out there, with 125 of you and me and everyone else in them. When someone is killed in one of these universes the dead man's power is redistributed to the remaining 124, making them all a bit stronger.
Jet Li plays Yulaw, the evil villain in this movie. He's hopping from universe to universe killing off his various selves in order to become more and more powerful. In the process, of course, each of his remaining selves also get stronger, faster, and better at martial arts. Fortunately for him, they don't get any smarter, and he kills them off with ease until it comes down to the final battle: a fight between himself and himself, also played by (surprise!) Jet Li. Gabriel Law, the good guy, doesn't know what's going on at first, but learns if the doesn't defeat Yulaw, Yulaw will kill him, become a god, and make more movies like this.
There's little emphasis on story or character – this is a pure popcorn film, an excuse to stage lots of fights. The final fight takes place in a factory that evidently manufactures sparks, which fly around for the sole purpose of adding pretty special effects. There's nothing very new or unpredictable in the fight scenes, (Does it happen on a catwalk? Do you have to ask?), but this is an enjoyable enough movie if you're looking for some brain dead entertainment.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
(If you're A
Kevin Smith Fan)
(If you're not)
It's been great fun watching Kevin Smith grow as a writer/director. Clerks, created for a mere $27,000, featured bad acting, miserable photography, unforgettable characters and a terrific script. His production values improved tremendously with Mallrats, a rather forgettable John Hughes style movie. He really started to shine with Chasing Amy, a unique love story. And Dogma was a minor masterpiece.
So after doing the amateur movie, the teen movie, the love movie, and the religious movie, what's next? The Dumb Movie. All of Smiths movies are crude, rude and lewd (that's part of their appeal) but they've also told stories, stories that made a point or two. The crudeness, lewdness and rudeness are still there in J&SBSB, but the story is stupid and pointless.
The humor is inconsistant. The sequel of Good Will Hunting - in which Matt Damon really hunts, was hilarious, the Scoobee Doo bit was great, and the...no wait, that's it. Most of the jokes were predictable (did anyone not see ET coming the moment he put the monkey in the bicycle basket?) and/or stale.
If you've never seen a Kevin Smith film, skip this one and rent Chasing Amy or Dogma. If you're a fan, like me, you'll want to see it, but you may be disappointed. I don't have anything against Dumb Movies, but I've come to expect a lot more from Smith.
Betty Sizemore waits tables in a diner, stuck in a dead end job with a dead end marriage. Her only escape is soap opera that she watches religiously. After witnessing a brutal murder she snaps, and becomes convinced that she is Nurse Betty, the ex-lover of the soap's Dr. David Ravell. She drives off in her husband's car to find him, unaware that it contains the treasure the murderers are searching for.
She travels across the country unaware that she's being perused by both the murders and her friends. She eventually finds her dream doctor about the same time everyone finds her, leading to a somewhat implausible but satisfying ending.
Most of the performances are very good, and a few are outstanding. Renee Zellweger somehow manages to make Betty naive and vulnerable without ever being weak. Chris Rock and Morgan Freeman, as the hitmen, play off each other well. Chris is impulsive to the point of being stupid, while Freeman is the wise old bull, laid back, taking one thing at a time.
Despite the silly ending, the ride there is great fun.
Planet of The Apes
Stars: (Movie) Stars: (DVD) Stuff Blowed Up:
As expected, the effects for “The Planet of The Apes” are considerably improved over the original, but the changes to the story remove most of the elements that made the original a classic. The conflict between science and religion is gone – Dr. Zaus would have made this a better movie. Ari's concern for the humans is meant to be compassionate, but mostly cones across as being politically correct. And the much discussed surprise ending first looks like it's going to be a reset-to-zero copout, then turns to something that's just goofy.
The apes do lots of acrobatics, and their unreal swoops and massive jumps will have you looking for the wires. It gives the movie and “Crouching Monkey, Hidden Chimp” feel.
The DVD offers lots of fascinating extras. There are a half dozen detailed documentaries discussing everything including makeup (of course) how the made the apes outrun horses at full gallop, Ape School, where humans learned to be more apelike and apes got lesions in being human. The result is a disk where the “making of” stories are more interesting than the movie itself.
© 2002-2003 Dave Hitt
| Home Page | Table of Contents |