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Well-made adaption of the book
Young soon-to-be wizard Harry Potter lives a dreadful life with his mean step-parents, untill one day when a letter arrives. It says that Harry is a wizard and he should come to a school called Hogwarts to learn more. Eventually, Harry is on his way to the school, where lots of adventures await him.
"Harry Potter" has huge expectations on its shoulders, and I´m happy to say it lives up to them. But it should be added that I´m not a huge fan of the book, I read it and thought it was good, but I couldn´t really understand all the attention it has been given. But I have to say that Chris Columbus has created an excellent adaption, that includes the very best parts of the story and also remains faithful to J.K Rowling´s book. It has the same nice details as the book and it actually takes its time to develop the characters. The effects are mostly top-notch and the set-pieces are awesome. The climax is definitely the Quidditch match, this was made to be seen on the big screen!
If you think of how many child actors we have here, the acting is sensational! Daniel Radcliffe is perfect and just as I imagined Harry. However, he is easily outshined by ginger-haired Rupert Grint, who plays young comedian Ron Weasly, who provides the most laughs. But the real discovery of the kids is Emma Watson as bossy Hermione. You could tell after one minute of Ms Watson that she will be huge in the future! The older actors are perfectly cast as well. Richard Harris, Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith are solid, while Robbie Coltrane and John Hurt provide warmth.
The movie´s few problems is its length, I definitely don´t agree with those who thought it was to short. It loses tempo towards the end, and the finale is a disappointment. Another problem is that the book is not without its flaws from the very beginning. You could forgive it since it takes more than half of the movie to introduce the characters and the environments. Because after that comes a cheap story about a "Philosopher´s Stone" that feels relatively uninteresting. But you have to remember that this is the first episode of a long series. Looking forward to "The Chamber of Secrets" already.
The Mummy Returns (2001)
Bigger doesn´t certainly mean better
In the sequel to the very successful summer-hit of 1999 "The Mummy", director Stephen Sommers has made everything bigger and, according to himself, better. I can´t say that I agree with "The Mummy Returns" being better than its predecessor, but this is still fun stuff.
Several years after their first adventure, Rick and Evelyn are back in Egypt to hunt for treasures. This time they have their ingenious son with them. After some trouble, they get home to London, but they´ve brought something with them that they shouldn´t have taken. Very soon an old friend of theirs is resurrected and the fun begins.
In "The Mummy Returns", lots of the comedy from part one has been removed in favor of more special effects. Because there are lots of those here. Too many, I would say. Sure, they are great to look at (except for one certain effect towards the end, shame on you ILM), and helps the movie to keep the pace up. But it feels like Stephen Sommers should have trusted more on his actors, and less on the effects.
The film has its moments, the Scorpion King not being one, and the fun rarely stops. The actors do a good job with the material they have, and it´s nice to see the beautiful actress Patricia Velasquez in a bigger role this time around. This is one of the better sequels I´ve seen in a long time.
Unlike anything you´ve ever seen
"Memento" is definitely a different experience. Don´t worry about anybody giving the ending away, because in "Memento" that´s where the story begins.
Guy Pearce plays Leonard Shelby, a man that has a short-term memory loss, he can´t remember things that happened only moments ago. That´s why he takes pictures of everyone he gets involved with, and make tattoos all over his body, so that he can remember who he can trust. He does this because his wife has been murdered, and he is determined to track down the killer for vengeance...
As hinted above, the story in "Memento" is told backwards, it begins with the ending and ends with the beginning. It might sound that you can get lost rather easy here, but luckily the whole concept is easier than it sounds to follow. And what a brilliant one it is.
Newcomer Christopher Nolan is clearly a director to watch in the future, he has created one of the most original movies in a very long time, and it´s a very good one too. The acting is also great, Guy Pearce is remarkably good in the leading role. This man is clearly smart when it comes to picking jobs. Carrie-Anne Moss is as brilliant as she is beautiful and Joe Pantoliano more and more stands out as one of the most underrated actors today.
"Memento" has an intriguing story, and the whole backwards-concept makes it even more enjoyable. This is one of those movies which might get better each time you watch them. That´s why I simply can´t wait to see this one again.
Jim Carrey makes it endurable
As I feared, the story didn´t hold. It might work as a 20 minute long cartoon, but not as a full-length motion picture. The plot is simply to thin and drawn-out. It circulates around the Grinch, a green monster who´s terrorising the peculiar citizens of Whoville. He simply doesn´t enjoy Christmas, but a sweet little girl tries to change his mind.
Positive things about the movie are the set-pieces, costumes and the effects, they are well-made. And Jim Carrey, of course. He is perfect as the Grinch, even if his performance reminds a little too much of his role in "The Mask" at times. But the funniest scenes are definitely the ones with Carrey and his charmy dog.
The rest of the characters are extremely irritating and thin, with the possible exception of Taylor Momsen´s Cindy Loo Who. If I got to decide how the movie ended, the citizens of Whoville wouldn´t get any presents at all. But it´s not my call, and here we are with a hopeless movie that claims to be about the true meaning of Christmas. Which is, apparently, the presents.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Angelina Jolie is FANTASTIC!
Based on the popular video games Tomb Raider, about the adventuress Lara Croft. The plot reminds of the games, here Lara finds an ancient clock who lets its user travel through time, if he or she has the right tools. Lara gets a good opportunity to finally see her long dead dad again, and tries to find out how the clock works. But evil forces want to lay their hands on the clock as well.
Director Simon West has said that if Angelina Jolie wouldn´t had accepted the role as Lara Croft, the movie wouldn´t have been made. This is perfectly understandable, as Angelina Jolie is easily the best thing in "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider". I mean, she IS Lara Croft. I am perfectly honest when I say that I think Jolie deserves another Oscar nomination, because this is the strongest performance by a lady I´ve seen all year.
The rest of the cast is, understandably, not as interesting as Lara. So is the plot. Over-complicated and not believable at all, one might think the script was written in an afternoon. The jokes are lame and the drama parts doesn´t convince. The ending is pure rubbish.
But in spite of all this the movie is salvaged, thanks to Angelina Jolie and three magnificent action scenes, where Lara fights a robot, a bunch of bad guys breaking into her mansion and finally a group on stone statues. Wow! And the soundtrack (with acts like Chemical Brothers, U2, Missy Elliot and Basement Jaxx) certainly rocks the house.
It´s just a movie
"Episode I - The Phantom Menace" was almost hyped to death when it came out, and when I look back I realize it was a bit foolish to expect it to be as good as the other three. I´m a huge fan of "Star Wars", "The Empire Strikes Back" (my favorite) and "The Return Of The Jedi", and therefore I wanted this to be as good as them. Of course, I became slightly disappointed with "Episode I" and realized that it´s, after all, just a movie.
As everybody know, the story takes place before the other ones and is the first episode of the classic saga. But somehow I think something is missing when the very beginning involves a taxation dispute between the federations. I would have preferred a prologue which explained how the Jedi Clan and the Sith Clan were born, and how the whole galaxy came to be! A bit like the prologue they had in "The Fellowship Of The Ring", if you catch my drift.
Dialogue has never been George Lucas´ strong side, and here it´s worse than ever. The story isn´t that good either, with slow pacing and it also lacks really spectacular scenes. "The Pod Race" feels extremely drawn-out and something put there only for the very young. The new environments are nowhere near awesome planets like the icy Hoth or the swampy Dagobah.
The actors looked good on paper, but only Liam Neeson and Pernilla August manages to bring warmth to their characters. Ewan McGregor is a disappointment as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jake Lloyd is an unbearably irritating child actor. But one can´t really expect them to perform any miracles with these lines... And then we have the hopeless CGI-characters, i.e. Watto, Boss Nass and Jar Jar Binks. The knowledge that Binks will appear in the next episode scares me. The only new characters I really liked were Darth Maul (and he won´t appear in any more Star Wars-movies, darn) and those cute little battle droids who got smashed up by the Jedis all the time. Their chess-computer voices were just wonderful!
If you don´t compare this to the other movies (but then again, who won´t?) this is actually endurable enough. The action scenes are exciting, especially the sword fights which looks better than ever. Lucas and his men have obviously been ambitious with the movie, and it shows. And since the wrap-up is so nicely made, I actually believe Lucas can fix his band-wagon up for "Episode II - The Attack Of The Clones". I just hope I won´t be disappointed again.
One of the best movies ever made
From the very first frame I was hooked. Starting with an excellent prologue that tells the story of the Ring and how it finally turned up in the hands of Bilbo Baggins. And we´re also told that evil once again is moving, and then we cut to one of the most beautiful pictures I´ve ever seen. Frodo sitting under a tree in the Shire, waiting for Gandalf. So incredibly beautiful.
The tale about the famous Ring has been read by so many, and now the first movie is finally here. It remains pretty faithful to the book, although the whole Tom Bombardill-part has been rightfully cut out. Some characters have also swapped places, everything to the movie´s advantage. It rarely feels slow, and the length is perfect. Luckily, the book´s few women Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) have been given more screen-time here.
Peter Jackson certainly did a smart move when he picked his homeland New Zeeland as camping ground for his masterpiece. The country has everything the movie needs and I don´t think I´ve ever seen such beautiful landscapes. Jackson also proves that he is a superb director when it comes to both emotional dialogue and intense action bits.
The casting is probably the best I´ve ever seen, all the actors fit their roles without any flaws. Elijah Wood simply IS Frodo and Sir Ian McKellen sets the tone perfectly for Gandalf. The relatively unknown actors who portrays the other Hobbits are great, and so are old favorites of mine, Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean as Aragorn respectively Boromir. And there is no doubt that Orlando Bloom will be a superstar, after his awesome turn as cool elf Legolas. But the movie´s most touching performance has to be credited to Ian Holm, as Bilbo Baggins. Perfect casting.
"The Fellowship of the Ring" simply has everything, and if there is any justice in the world it will bag just as many awards at this years Oscars, like "Titanic" did a few years ago. I suggest that the Best Director award should go to Peter Jackson, Best Supporting Actor to Ian Holm, Best Actor to Sir Ian McKellen and, of course, Best Film to the movie itself. I´ve already seen it twice and I can´t wait to see it again. Not only the best movie of 2001, but one of the best I´ve ever seen!
Any Given Sunday (1999)
One of Oliver Stone´s best
Al Pacino plays an aging football coach who has seen better days. His team Florida Sharks are in big trouble, the best player is injured and a new hot-shot is tearing the team apart. And the bitchy team owner (Cameron Diaz) won´t get off his back untill the team start winning again.
In "Any Given Sunday", director Oliver Stone shows us his thoughts about the world of pro football, on and off the field. He has recruited lots of talented actors, Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods and newcomer Jamie Foxx to name a few. Everyone involved does a good job and actually convinces us that they are in the football business.
The film has Oliver Stone printed all over it, with razor-sharp editing and a pumping soundtrack, and it reminds of his controversial movie "Natural Born Killers". This one is just as good as "NBK", because it remains both believable and exciting at the same time. Being a European, I still don´t understand the joy about one of the world´s strangest sports, but the movie did entertain.
My only complains are the movie´s length (162 minutes) which feels a bit too long, and the part of the movie when we get to face Pacino´s personal problems never gets as interesting as the events out on the field.
Runaway Train (1985)
Like "Speed" on a train, only better!
Two dangerous convicts escape a prison in Alaska and jumps onto a train. They think that they´re finally safe, but it turns out the engineer is missing! The train is on a runaway, and there is no way off.
"Runaway Train" has everything! The action scenes are neck-braking, the characters are well-made and it has a touching script. The beautiful and cold environments of Alaska are perfect for the movie. The music is atmospheric and works very well.
One of my all-time favorites Jon Voight makes on of his best performance in his long career, he can make ANY character believable and likeable. He was Oscar nominated for the role, and he definitely should have won it. Eric Roberts (Julia´s brother) is irritating at first, but he gradually grows on you. Also he was nominated for an Oscar. Good performance also by Rebecca De Mornay, here in an almost unrecognizable role.
It´s a rare thing, but Runaway Train actually succeeds with both the action and the sophisticated parts. It´s quite obvious were Speed has got its ideas from. Only this is better!
National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
Chevy Chase at his best
Big time goof Clark Griswold (Chase) decides to take his family on a road trip across America to Wally World (a funny reference to Disney World). But since he is so incredibly dumb, the trip ends in disaster and the poor family runs into trouble everywhere they go. Will they reach Wally World in one piece?
Chevy Chase is brilliant in the role of his life. It´s a pleasure to see him screw up his family´s vacation, but also trying to remain proud and happy. The other family members do good jobs as well, and so does Randy Quaid (hilarious!) as Chase´s brother-in-law. John Candy also turns up towards the end, as a fumbling security guard.
Most jokes are funny, some are just silly. But this lightweight comedy feels like a winner, and something that you can watch several times. It was followed by three sequels, the third "Christmas Vacation" is probably the best, in competition with this one. The other two were just awful.
Lots of athmosphere in this one
Nerdy high-school kid Arnie gets bullied all the time at school. He finds comfort in a ´58 Plymouth, a red beauty called Christine. She´s rather dusty when he discovers her, but he buys her and fixes her up. His friend Dennis discovers that he is becoming obsessed with the car, and he also suspects that Christine might have a life of her own.
Horror-writer Stephen King teams up with horror-director John Carpenter, but the result feels that it could have been even better. But this is not bad, "Christine" mixes high-school life with horror elements in a nice sort of way. The scenes with Christine has lots of athmosphere, much thanks to the creepy music composed by John Carpenter himself.
The lead trio (Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul) works well, but these days no one has ever heard of them. Solid actors like Harry Dean Stanton and Robert Prosky supports them.
A nice and interesting horror-movie, which doesn´t really offers any scares.
Training Day (2001)
One of this year´s biggest sleeper-hits
In "Training Day", we get to follow young cop Jake Hoyt on his (you guessed it) training day, the day that will decide if he is cut out to be in the narcotic departments, where he so badly wants to be. But his supervisor turns out to be a nightmare, and Jake´s training day becomes a day full of hell.
"Training Day" turned out to be a real surprise for me, as I wasn´t expecting anything special when I walked into the cinema. But it turned out to be one of the better cop-thrillers I have ever seen, with a script that contains many surprises.
The acting is first class all the way. I wouldn´t be surprised if Denzel Washington gets another Oscar nomination, because here he really shines. It´s different from most of his other work, but he´s very confident and believable when he is teaching the viewers the "law of the street" with that lovely accent. Ethan Hawke makes an nice comeback, after a few tough years with not many films worth seeing.
Oldies´ like Tom Berenger, Scott Glenn and Harris Yulin have small but important roles, and it´s fun to see artists like Macy Gray and Snoop Doggy Dog in cameos. The director portrays the ghetto with an interesting touch, and the story is strong and shocking at times.
The ending feels unnecessary violent and something that´s there to please the action fans, who might have trouble to cope with the rather slow pace at times. But all in all, "Training Day" is a rock-solid cop-movie.
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Based on the comic books by William Goldman, "Johnny Mnemonic" takes place in 2021, when the world looks like one big trash can. The title character has a computer chip in his head, which allows him to smuggle important data there, at the expense of his childhood memories. But one time he gets information stored in his head that a big, bad corporation wants badly. So they send some goofs after Johnny to take his head off.
Science-fictions always fascinates me, because they don´t certainly need a strong story to entertain. Impressive special effects might just as well do the job. But they are nowhere to be found in "Johnny Mnemonic", which beside disappointing effects also offers a messy script which doesn´t get anywhere. The action scenes aren´t many, and they aren´t anything to write home about either.
Keanu Reeves has never been an actor who carry films on his shoulders, he needs bombastic productions like "The Matrix" and "Speed" to blend in better. Here he runs around and looks very confused, and he utters his lines with no empathy at all. Dina Meyers is pretty to look at, but she isn´t much of an actor and works much better in smaller roles, and not as the heroine. Supporting actors here are rapper Ice-T and rock star Henry Rollins, and we all know what mostly happens when artists decides to try some acting. Especially when their parts are as badly written as these.
The movie´s only treat is probably Swedish muscle-man Dolph Lundgren, as a fanatic priest. Yes, his acting is as wooden as ever, but I at least found some interesting things with his character. And you can´t do anything but smile when you see Dolph trying to kill Johnny, while bawling embarrassing lines like "Halt sinners!" or "Behold your Saviour!".
Scared me when I was a kid
Five medical students are so fascinated and curious about the life after death, that they kill each other to find out what happens. After a few minutes they revive the dead person and then asks how it was. At first they are very pleased with themselves and even competes in how long they can stay dead. But then they discover that ghosts from their pasts has come back to haunt them.
The actors lined up here are certainly impressive, at least it was back then. These days it is only Julia Roberts who´s a star, although she is indeed bigger than ever. All the actors in "Flatliners" do a job well done, especially old favorites of mine like Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland. Oliver Platt is less irritating than usual as the only sane person in the group and the comic relief. William Baldwin does a good job, he also being better than he normally is.
Director Joel Schumacher has chosen dark environments and slick camerawork, to compensate the somewhat flawed script. I remember watching "Flatliners" as a kid, and it certainly spooked me. The scary scenes are still scary, but as a whole the movie feels a bit unsatisfying. It doesn´t really evolve the whole "life-after-death"-thing after the beginning of the film, which is a bit disappointing.
"Flatliners" is still a well-acted thriller, with an interesting story. And some charming humor as well. "I want to die first!", "No, I want to!" Fun stuff, indeed.
Surprisingly good Swedish horror movie
"Sleepwalker" was marketed in Sweden for almost a year with taglines like: "The year´s scariest film takes place in Sweden" and such. When the result finally arrived, "Sleepwalker" feels a bit disappointing and not as scary as promised. But look beneath the hype, and you will discover a surprisingly good Swedish horror movie.
The movie asks the interesting question: "Can we murder people in our sleep?" If the question is answered or not I will leave untold, but I promise that you will be surprised with the film´s content.
The story takes place in a common residential district when family man Ulrik Hansson goes to sleep with his family. When he wakes up, his wife and kids are gone. And the sheets in his bed are covered in blood. He contacts the police, but also tries to solve the case himself. He has had problems with sleepwalking earlier, and now he suspects that he might be responsible for the disappearances.
"Sleepwalker" contains many interesting scenes, especially those when Ulrik straps on a camcorder to his head, then goes to sleep. Later Ulrik watches the tape and sees what he actually does when he´s sleepwalking. This is definitely the film´s strongest moments, together with the suggestive environments, the editing and the scary music.
The movie has weaknesses, and the screenwriter should be held somewhat responsible. The script contains lots of illogical turns, and the film´s formula tends to be a bit repetitive. The acting is doubtful, but leading man Ralph Carlsson does a good job as Ulrik.
Many arguments after the film will definitely be about the ending. I thought it was excellent, and it actually lifted the whole movie. This is the best Swedish horror movie ever, after "Det Okända", which was released the same year.
Noll tolerans (1999)
More thriller than action
Marketed as one of Sweden´s first real action movies ever, "Noll Tolerans" therefore has a lot to live up to. But in my eyes, this is more of a regular cop-thriller than a heavy action movie.
One problem is that "Noll Tolerans" showcases the biggest action scene five minutes into the movie, and every other action scene later on feels like a step down. The ending feels extremely tired. But you can´t deny that this is still very competent work.
The movie begins shortly before Christmas eve, when policeman Johan Falk (Jacob Eklund) runs into foul business on the street. After a frenetic car chase he is confronted with two jewel-thieves, and after a violent shootout one of the robbers gets killed. Thanks to witnesses the other criminal is later arrested. But he manages to threaten the witnesses to silence, and after a while the police force is after Johan Falk instead. Now he must prove he is innocent.
"Noll Tolerans" is an ambitious movie, but you can´t deny that in the States this would have been a straight to video-release. The story is not interesting enough and the pace is awfully slow. Action fans can´t be too happy with this one, but it did get a sequel called "Livvakterna" two years later.
Bizarre, yes. Funny, rarely.
In this Swedish comedy, we get to meet the looser Zingo, and a whole bunch of other sad and pathetic figures. Zingo wants to settle down and have a nice family life, but it takes money to start a new life. He convinces a producer that he will do a bizarre porn-film for the German market, featuring one of Sweden´s most respected actors and a moose.
All kinds of stereotypes are lined up here: the main character who wants to prove to his dad that he can succeed with his life, his younger girlfriend who just wants to party all night, his aggressive and stupid best friend. We also have the brutal biker who cuts peoples thumbs off, but also enjoys Bergman-films.
With this comes a poor script which is little believable. Björn Kjellman doesn´t succeed with making his character likeable at all, he´s quite the opposite actually. Nor does the other actors. The director clearly wanted to make a fresh and controversial movie with "Zingo", but fails.
Some jokes works, but most of the black humour misses the mark completely. It could have been good, but no. Great soundtrack though.
Proof of Life (2000)
Good acting, poor directing
Russel Crowe´s follow-up to "Gladiator" is marketed as an action-movie, but turns out to be a rather slow kidnaping-drama, with some action in the end. This way, "Proof of Life" loses valuable points from me from the very beginning.
The story circulates around three people, Terry Thorne (an expert with kidnaping-situations), Peter Bowman (an engineer who is kidnaped by the guerilla while visiting South Africa) and Alice Bowman (Peter´s wife, she hires Thorne to save her kidnaped husband). And while Peter is sitting high up in the mountains waiting to be rescued, Terry and Alicia falls in love...
The problem with "Proof of Life" is that there are only some parts of it that are interesting, and those are up in the beautiful mountains when Peter is being moved from place to place by the terrorists, and in the last ten minutes, when Terry and his team are going to save him. But all the other stuff is slow and uninteresting. The love story is tasteless and silly and should have been skipped from the beginning.
The movie has three very talented actors in the leading roles, but one of them (Meg Ryan) is just being irritating and not very helpful at all. But David Morse (Peter) and Russel Crowe (Terry) are excellent. David Morse proves why he is being considered as one of the best supporting actors Hollywood has to offer, and Russel Crowe is totally believable as the negotiator. The man, simply, is a star.
But an actiondrama that doesn´t please neither the action-fans or those who enjoy dramas, doesn´t feel that appealing. An okay film to watch at home when it´s raining outside, but it was NOT fun to see it at the cinema, like I did.
* * ½
Not half as fascinating as the videogames
First of all: I´m a HUGE fan of the Final Fantasy-videogames. The best game-series ever, in my opinion. That´s why I expected really good things from this movie. Was I satisfied? Both yes and no, actually.
The story takes places in the future (name a science fiction-movie that doesn´t), when the whole world´s been deserted, after a huge meteorite crashed in the Kaspian area and made killer-phantoms appear. Doctor Aki Ross is determined to find out the reason to why these creatures emerged, and if there is a way to stop them. She´s assisted by a colleague of hers, Doctor Sid and a platoon of modern soldiers, called Deep Eyes. Working against them is crazy General Hein, who believes that nuclear weapons is the right way to end the problems.
Science fiction movies often have confusing storylines, and this is certainly not an exception. I was able to follow the plot almost through the entire movie, but in the end it became way to much unbelievable mumbo-jumbo for me to handle.
"Final Fantasy: Spirits Within" has been much discussed whether it could make real actors out of work, since this is the first entirely CGI-made movie with "real" humans. Yes, the characters look fantastic and very realistic (especially Aki, wow!), but no, the actors do not have to worry a bit about losing their jobs. It´s a rather stupid discussion to start with, I don´t believe any cinema-goer would prefer computer-made humans instead of real ones.
Bad things about the film, besides the rather unfocused story, is the dialogue. Steve Buscemi´s character tried to joke all the time, but none of his efforts hit the spot. And his character Neil´s constant quarrel with Peri Gilpin´s character Jane, was tiresome from the very beginning. The voices were overall okay, but the only really good one belonged the heroine Aki. Very nice vocal work by Ming-Na, she made the character more interesting.
Another thing I disliked was that Hironobu Sakaguchi used too few references to the games in his script. It mostly didn´t feel like Final Fantasy at all, more like Aliens or something. Some people have suggested that the ending feels like Final Fantasy, but I disagree. It feels more like Sakaguchi ran out of ideas.
The music, by Elliot Goldenthal, fits the movie perfectly (his best musical score since the unbeatable score to Alien 3), although it´s not even close to the music from the games, written by genius Nobuo Uematsu. It would have been nice to hear some of his work here, perhaps "Prelude" during the end credits? Oh well, you can´t have everything, sadly.
The movie had it´s exciting moments, with great environments. And the characters are, as mentioned above, fantastic to look at. I do belive you have to be a fan of the videogames to be able to forgive the movie´s flaws. A sequel would be very interesting.
* * *
Jurassic Park III (2001)
This is the real sequel to JP
A mysterious millionaire-couple Paul and Amanda Kirby convinces Dr Alan Grant to return to one of the dinosaur-islands to give them a guided tour. Grant needs money bad to fund his diggings, so he reluctantly accepts the offer. But when they arrive at the island, it turns out the Kirbys had other motives. They have a son who is all alone on the island, and they want to save him at any cost. Grant has to face his worst nightmare once again. Oh, and their plane crashes.
"The Lost World" was a huge disappointment to me, it was too silly, with irritating characters and it had a stinker of an ending. But fortunately, Jurassic Park 3 is everything the sequel should have been. It has bigger and meaner dinosaurs, and more suggestive environments and exciting scenes. The Spinosaur is great to look at (although he was a bit too scary for me), but my favorite dinosaur this time around was definitely the Pteranodon, the "bird-dinosaurs". That scene was more exciting than anything that "The Lost World" had to offer during its whole running-time. Joe Johnston is certainly a good choice if you want action.
The effects have not been modified that much since last time, but they are still spectacular. Of course you can see when it´s CGI-effects and when it´s Stan Winston´s mechanic dinosaurs, but still. My only complaint about the dinosaurs is that the classical T.Rex wasn´t showcased that much. And for the sequel (yes, JP4 is already on its way) it would be cool to see some water-based creatures.
It was a relief to see Sam Neill again, oh have I waited for his return! He makes a solid performance as Alan Grant, and the supporting actors (William H Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Jeter), do fine jobs as well. Trevor Morgan was a bit too much of a mix of "Young Indiana Jones" and "MacGyver" for me to appreciate, but he wasn´t all bad.
Everything was great with JP3, untill that ending I mean, what was that? Did they run out of money, or ideas perhaps? Yes, it is actually worse than the ending of "The Lost World" (!), which means it´s really, really bad. It ruins the overall impact, sadly.
Still a great roller-coaster for the whole family, and 90 minutes of running time is perfect. Now I´m looking forward to seeing the dinos for a fourth time.
* * * ½
Cast Away (2000)
Tom Hanks plays a man who works for Fed-Ex, and he is always concerned about the time. He says that the time is his worst enemy, but he will soon think otherwise. On a business trip his plane crashes somewhere over the Atlantic, and he is washed ashore a remote island. He tries to think over the situation and decides to attempt on leaving the island. But soon he realize that he will spend a long time here. And back home is girlfriend is waiting for him to come home, like he promised he would.
I just have to say that this movie was fantastic! It´s totally different from anything else I´ve ever seen. And Tom Hanks is, as always, awesome. After a rather slow first half hour, things gets interesting as we see Hanks arrive at the island. There are no dialogue whatsoever for long periods, which feels nice. It wouldn´t as interesting as it is, if Hanks crashed along with a friend, or something. Now he´s completely on his own, and it´s very enjoyable to watch Hanks trying to survive.
The director, Robert Zemeckis, has found the exactly right tone, and the movie never gets boring, well at least not on the island. "Cast Away" is beautifully shot, with majestic environments and all. The film´s score is superb, it touches the heart exactly in the right moments.
As I mentioned above, Hanks is great. He is one of my favorite actors, and I must say that his performance is one of the best he has ever made. Helen Hunt has a rather small part, but she does a fine job with it.
And in the end, even I had problems with keeping the tears away. "Cast Away" is THAT good. If you enjoy the tv-show "Survivor" but want something a bit deeper, this is perfect. Great movie!
* * * * ½
Probably the best Swedish film ever!
A young couple, Sophia (Josefin Nilsson) and Freddie (Jacob Ericsson) has just got their first baby, but this little thing makes their lives way to complicated and difficult for them to handle. They both have jobs, Sophia is an actress and Freddie a balloon-flier, which makes it tough to be home with the baby and such. They also have to deal with Sophia´s family, which includes a depressed dad, a close to senile mother, and two eccentric sisters. The family life is nothing what Sophia and Freddie expected.
This is Hannes Holm´s and Måns Herngren´s first big movie after the incredibly successful "Adam & Eva", which took the Swedish theaters by storm. Some people expected this to be a new "Adam & Eva", but since it´s not they got pretty disappointed. When "Adam & Eva" was a rather simple comedy, about marriage and stuff, this is more serious. It tells a story about family-life, and how to deal with your "old" family and "new" family at the same time. I suppose I´m rather alone with this opinion, but I have to say that "Det blir aldrig som man tänkt sig" was much better than "Adam & Eva".
The script is much tighter and contains funnier jokes than the "predecessor". It has lots of memorable one-liners and the acting is fantastic! The lovely Josefin Nilsson and funny Jacob Ericsson are totally believable as the young couple, and the rest of Sophia´s family is great as well. Especially Gösta Ekman and Bibi Andersson as her parents. There are lots of familiar faces in smaller roles, like Peter Dalle and Peter Wahlbeck. But my personal favorite is definitely Lennart Jähkel, as a sleazy director. He has some great moments here, even if nothing can budge his killer-performance he did in "Jägarna".
This is a beautiful movie in every sort of way. It has sad moments, but happy and funny ones as well. The ending would probably have been treated in a silly way if this was a Hollywood-production, but here it is just perfect. And I have to admit that I had tears in my eyes during the final scene. A great movie, which ranks as one of the best Swedish films I´ve ever seen. It made me really happy, so I will definitely be watching this if I´m feeling down some day.
* * * * ½
End of Days (1999)
Arnold can do much better!
The movie with they year´s coolest title turn out to be a bit of disappointment for us Arnold-fans, and not the big comeback I hoped for. Here he plays an ex-N.Y. cop on the verge of going insane, after a terrible incident some time ago, when his family was brutally murdered. Against his own will he is dragged into a problem that contains a thing as simple as the end of days. The Devil comes to N.Y. at New Year´s Eve 1999 to find his bride, and if he succeeds with impregnating here before the new millennium arrives, the world will go under. Why? I don´t know, the movie didn´t really explain that part.
The critics weren´t really nice to Schwarzenegger and his movie when it came out, but it´s not all bad. It contains some decent effects, lots of action and a rather good performance by Arnold. It´s a very dark film, in the same spirit as "Se7en" for example, when the whole world seem to be going downhill. Is it really worth saving? Unfortunately, the movie doesn´t really treat this subject that much, because Arnold´s character doesn´t really want to save the world since he is so depressed himself.
The Devil reminded me a bit about Arnold´s nemesis in "Terminator 2". He is impossible to kill and just keeps on going, even if you shoot him numerous times. The difference is that the Devil and Gabriel Byrne aren´t half as cool as T-1000 and Robert Patrick were in T2. It feels a bit like Arnold´s trying to repeat the successful formula that was T2. But "End of Days" is nowhere near the classic James Cameron-epic.
Schwarzenegger tried to make his comeback with the science fiction "6th Day" instead, and once again he didn´t succeed. Even if that movie is definitely underrated and far better than this, but that´s not the case here.
"End of Days" is okay, but not more. Arnold can do much better!
* * ½
The Last Days of Disco (1998)
Great music, unsatisfying movie
Two New York chicks, Alice (Chloë Sevigny) and Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale), live in New York at the time when disco was extremely popular. Almost everyone went to clubs to dance to disco in the evenings, but somehow the era is going towards an end. Meanwhile, Alice and Charlotte try to find love and earn enough money so that they can keep living in that lovely apartment of theirs.
The biggest problem with "The Last days of disco" is that the characters aren´t interesting enough, except for Alice and Charlotte. All the men are too anonymous and unappealing, I couldn´t even keep them apart. The movie tries to follow many people and their lives ala Pulp Fiction, but fails.
There is lots of talking and little dancing in this. And what kind of clubs are these anyway, when you can hear each other perfectly clear without shouting. Because of the high music, you wouldn´t be hearing each other at all, but since it´s a disco-movie I guess that´s okay.
Lots of talking, yes. And the dialogue doesn´t really sparkle. The only time it became really interesting was when the group discussed what the Disney movie "Lady and the Tramp" was really about. This could have been in any of Quentin Tarantino´s pictures, but otherwise the script contains way too much plainness chatter.
The movie also jumps between different time periods without telling the viewer, which makes it difficult to follow. And it doesn´t explain that well why the disco era ended, more than a simple "People just stopped go out on the evenings", which didn´t satisfy me at all. This could have been given more time, and made the movie more interesting.
Good things with the film are the gals. Sevigny and Beckinsale both look marvellous in their dresses out on the dancefloor. It was mainly thanks to them I decided to see this, since I was curious on two of Hollywood´s most promising actresses. Chloë Sevigny is gradually starting to be a favorite actress of mine, with good performances both here and in "American Psycho". And the music was great! All those great disco-songs were in here, which was a real treat.
But the music doesn´t save a movie, that contains way to much uninteresting dialogue for it´s own good.
* * ½
A good romantic comedy (!)
Rich girl Emma Woodhouse (Paltrow) feels very unsecure about life when her nanny, and best friend, gets married and has to move away. Emma doesn´t really now who to talk to about her problems with her love life. Instead she tries to be a matchmaker for her friend Harriet (Collette). She tries to get her together with the nice young reverend Elton (Cumming), but it turns out he was only interested in Emma! Problems ahead for everyone involved.
I normally don´t enjoy romantic comedies, especially not those which take place in the 19th century, with costumes and everything that comes with it. But Emma was different. After a slow first half-hour, the story got started and I found that this was actually a funny, smart and beautiful tale.
The main reason I liked this movie must be Gwyneth Paltrow. She looked lovely and did her best performance yet. She´s actually better here than in `Shakesphere in Love', which gave her an Oscar. Every scene she´s in is a pleasure to watch, especially since she nails that English accent perfectly! The supporting actors and actresses are superb as well. Jeremy Northam is in his best role yet, and Toni Collette and Alan Cumming are perfectly cast.
I actually tried to read the book by Jane Austen at first, but I got tired of the slow pace and watched the movie instead. Which saved me a lot of time, and it was way above expectation.
The story is a bit slow, yes. But in the end Emma still feels like a winner. I usually don't like these kind of movies, but I liked this. Which means it must be above average.
* * * ½