Sahara (2005)

Indy might have some serious competition. Not in a direct sense (Indiana Jones franchise is well established and is set in 30s and 40s, way before this movie), but in a “charismatic-hero-who-punches-first-and-asks-questions-later” kinda way. A fast-paced, intelligent adventure movie is difficult to find these days (“The Lord of the Rings” lacked the speed, and “The Rundown” lacked the intelligence), so Sahara is a bit of fresh air in a stale genre.

A few months ago “A National Treasure” made an impressive turn in theaters (and I hope Nicolas Cage comes back in a sequel or two), but he movie ultimately took itself too seriously. The adventure was fun, no doubt, but many of its themes required a little explanation, which slows the pace down, and you don’t want that to happen. What you want is the main character to “save the f***ing day”, never losing a brilliant smile, and getting a few lethal-looking bruises along the way. In this case, the hero Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey), delivers both smiles and bruises with unlimited charisma.
Continue reading “Sahara (2005)”

Sin City (2005)

I’ve drooled in anticipation ever since I saw the trailers, and that makes me biased. However, bias or not, you gotta hand it to Robert Rodriguez – he’s known for pushing the envelope for directing style, editing style, casting decisions. And, at the end of the day, if you only know him from the El Mariachi/Desperado/Once Upon a Time in Mexico trilogy, or from the Spy Kids trilogy, if you only know him as the guy who co-wrote From Dusk til Dawn, you would be drooling with anticipation as well.

The thing about Robert Rodriguez, is he’s either a very convincing person, or he has dirt on everyone in Hollywood – how does he get these actors in his movies – is beyond me. He’s not quite a cult director like Woody Allen, or late Stanley Kubrik, so I cannot imagine actors of all levels and ranges lining up for every one of his projects. Yes movie after movie he lines up people who don’t seem to have anything in common. Except, in his universe, they make a great ensemble cast.
Continue reading “Sin City (2005)”

Constantine (2005)

When I went into the theater to see Constantine I thought I prepared myself for the worst. I didn’t read the graphic novel this movie was based on. I decided not to look it up. I made that mistake before—I looked up The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel before I saw that movie. BIG MISTAKE—I almost walked out of the theater on that one. I wanted to go to the theater with an open mind. I even read a few negative reviews about Constantine, so that I would not expect much and would surprise myself by really enjoying the movie. That didn’t happen.

I was so frustrated with this movie I didn’t want to write a review. I thought, why bother. I would be too negative. I would turn people off when in reality it’s not that bad if you’re a Keanu Reeves fan.

Before I get all over Keanu’s ill-acting ass, let me state for the record that I love movies that deal with the occult. I was a fan of Buffy and Angel. And now that Medium is out I watch it too. Because of my love for the occult I sat though movies far worse—like Lord of Illusions. It was only few years ago when I saw it again I realized how bad this movie really was. Brrr.
Continue reading “Constantine (2005)”

National Treasure (2004)

So I went to see National Treasure today. Why so late – two weeks after it opened? No, my decision had nothing to do with the fact the movie stayed on top of the box office for 2 straight weekends (and possibly will stick around a bit more). I really wanted to see this flick ever since I saw the trailer – which was very recently. In fact, if you think about it, the movie kinda crept under the radar, and boom – big promotion, talk shows, loud trailers, which is all very typical of Bruckheimer. And, before you turn your nose, please remember that while Jerry Bruckheimer has delivered us some stinkers, he’s also been involved with some great movies and TV shows, and I believe, Nicolas Cage has chosen very well this time.

National Treasure is being compared to Mummy and Indiana Jones. I like both franchises, and would feel very protective of anyone trying to cash in on them, or even worse, bring them down by creating an ugly sibling. I went into the theater expecting an admirable homage, but being very worried about a good thing that will any minute turn out boring and plain dumb. I was surprised. First of all – the movie is not like the two big franchises mentioned above. Maybe in spirit, but definitely not in execution. There are parallels, but they are so far away from the originals (and quite far from the last adventure genre fiasco – Tomb Raider), that you cannot think of the movie as homage. It has its own universe, its characters, and as you may have guessed it, an open ending that will result in a sequel.
Continue reading “National Treasure (2004)”

Hellboy (2004)

Another comic book adaptation is brought to the big screen. It’s not a familiar Marvel universe, and things are definitely not “been there, seen that”. Still, the unusual casting, the direction, and quirky geek references make this a worthy entry.

It seems that every comic book out there longs to get on the big screen, open with $50 million, and gain thousands of new readers over the weekend. Sometimes, this works (remember how quickly “Superman” got to $200 million), very rarely it works again (“X-men United” was well-received and it made decent dough). With “Hellboy”, however, I’m a little torn. I would like the saga to continue, and am impressed by character development, but it seems the writers have ended up in a corner. The movie spends so much time establishing the characters and setting up the first showdown (all good by me), by the time it’s over, there’s no setup for the sequel.

Let me restate that – “Hellboy” is open-ended, but there’s no looming conflict there, to threat. We just know the adventures will continue, but have no clue about the villains, only the existing conflicts between the characters. Then again, having never read the comic book, maybe these conflicts are at the core of Hellboy, and the villains are on the side. In this case, the movie worked.

Continue reading “Hellboy (2004)”