While jobhunting, I've been watching a few movies a week, on video and in person. So I haven't had the inclination to review them all. I didn't keep a list, so I probably won't even remember them all, but I'll say a word or two about whichever come to mind. :)
First up: Action movies. This has been a great summer for action movies. I don't think I saw any that I didn't at least enjoy, and most of them were sequels, even! Sequels seem to be getting better these days. Oh wow.. I just realized every major action movie this summer has been a sequel of some sort, almost. S.W.A.T. is based on an old 70s TV show, and Pirates was renamed in anticipation of future sequels. :) Sadly, there's only one big action blockbuster left this summer, but it's one I'm rather looking forward to: the sequel to El Mariachi and Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico. (See? Another sequel!) It's due out on September 12, though, which I suppose is technically Fall.
A little menu for ya:
X-Men 2 is as good as or better than the first. The ending is a bit weak, but the characters are really likable and diverse. I especially love what happens to both Magneto and Iceman at the end. They're involved in plot twists, but you understand the characters well enough that both twists seem completely obvious in retrospect. That's how stories should work, no? Characters shouldn't follow the plot; the plot should follow the characters.
I also like how Mystique is a computer hacker and how she exudes an air of intelligence. Her looks seem just a bonus; they didn't define her character. I'm impressed that Rebecca Romijn-Stamos pulls that off so well. From what I've seen in interviews, the actress also seems smarter than what her looks might suggest.
One amusing bit: I watched X2 in Panama, in English with Spanish subtitles. But there's one brief scene in Spanish, and I didn't get any English subtitles for it! :P
Matrix Reloaded shows us that you can try to imitate Matrix effects, but you just can't imitate Matrix style. Unlike some people, I rather like the CG effects in the one hundred Smiths scene. They look plenty real to me! As for the script, I like the random philosophy references more that I did in the first movie. That's partly because cyclical history and meta-simulations and stuff speak to me more than Biblical references. The Oracle's dialogue isn't nearly as well-written this time 'round, but I like how she might be manipulating Neo for her own purposes (which is totally in character, really). My only big complaint about the movie is all the actual dialogue, all that "It is.. YOUR DESTINY!" stuff. :P
T3 is pretty fun too. Just when you thought Matrix: Reloaded ruled out any car chases for the rest of the summer, T3 comes out with giant vehicles smashing stuff for half an hour straight. Sweet! :) And plus with both Terminators being solid metal this time, they take very satisfying crunching noises whenever they throw each other against walls. And throw each other against walls they do. A lot. :) I have two complaints, though:
(1) The bad Terminator is just not menacing enough. The first two movies start with much demonstration of how unstoppable the bad guy is, how lopsided the match is. Here, the T-X just seems like a slightly better version of Arnold. In fact, she doesn't even seem as menacing as the T-1000. In the first two movies, I had a sense of "How are they gonna be able to STOP this thing?" that I don't have here.
(2) I like how the first two movies took themselves seriously, and this one doesn't. It's just a fun action flick with some good jokes. (Arnold is actually quite funny in this movie, which is surprising since he was so not funny while doing promos for it, saying stuff like, "I'm back!" :P) Lightness would be fine except that it doesn't match the tone of the ending. I actually love the ending itself. It meshes very well with what the Terminator films are all about, but I feel like this movie doesn't deserve that ending. Still, I'm looking forward to T4.
2 Fast 2 Furious is everything that its title would make you expect. :) I think you have to watch it in a group, though, so you can make fun of the dialogue afterward. By "dialogue" I mean the "Hey bro!" and "Yeah, bro!" that make of most of what the lead characters say. :) Here are a couple of examples, care of IMDb:
"You still fight like shit, bro!"
"I was made for this, bro!"
Amazingly, 2 Fast 2 Furious actually makes the original seem like it had a plot. :) The original was far more authentic, using real street racers' cars and so forth. This one is more like, "VROOM VROOM!" In fact, I can't even really remember the car chases very well. This movie is so fast and so furious that even the car chases seem irrelevant.
Bad Boys II is exactly what I expected. Pure testosterone-filled glee. In fact, even before the movie started, during the "preshow entertainment", a fight broke out in our theater. :) Really the most appropriate review of this movie comes from Harry Knowles' review:
Does it blow shit up real cool?
Yeah, it blows all sorts of shit up, I'm just shocked that one of the many helicopters didn't get blown to hell.
That pretty much sums it up! There's actually a decent car chase in this one, too, amazingly enough. This has been the summer of sequels with cool car chases.
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle doesn't try to be a normal action movie. It's pure form. The first movie pretended to care about plot. This one does not. It's just shamelessly fun. I particularly love all the ridiculous stunts, like how one Angel's motorcycle would get shot in mid-air, and she would do a mid-air cartwheel out of her bike as it blows up and land on the back of another Angel's bike... also in mid-air. Great stuff. :) In fact, this is the only movie here I'd give 4 slices of toast, not because it's better than the others, but because it excels and what it sets out to do.
What's the deal with that guy from Willard, though? He seems completely out of place in this movie. *shrug*
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Note that the first Tomb Raider was called "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider", so technically this title should have two colons. :) Anyway, it's a watchable if forgettable movie. I like the globe-trotting, though. The rocky coast of Greece... Riding a motorcycle on the Great Wall... I'm a sucker for anything you could describe as "HIGH ADVENTURE!" :) The downside is that it's not quite good enough to be satisfying, so it mostly makes me really impatient for Indy 4.
S.W.A.T. just does't have enough Michelle Rodriguez, is my main complaint. :P But watching it reminded me to rent Girlfight, her debut as a social outcast living in the projects who learns to box. It was surprisingly well-written and didn't feel preachy about its obvious female empowerment theme. I suppose there's a reason why it tied for the Grand Jury Prize and won for Director at Sundance.
Another interesting thing: In S.W.A.T. and The Fast and the Furious, Rodriguez was quite hot as the "tough chick". In Girlfight, though, I didn't think of her that way at all, since her character is younger and not as confident. Instead, I was totally absorbed by her performance. I hope she'll get more roles where she gets to really act.
Speaking of S.W.A.T., I'm supposed to be reviewing that, aren't I? :) It's okay, probably on par with Tomb Raider 2 in terms of enjoyability. Basically, the plot is a snoozer, but it has plenty of good actors to make up for it. Besides, it's hard to go wrong with guys in Kevlar and headsets running around with guns chasing bad guys. :) I guess my main complaint here is how a big part of the main chase takes place in a subway tunnel, which is a much more boring location for a S.W.A.T. team than an office building.
Pirates can only be reviewed as "Arrrr!" :) Oh, I could mention Johnny Depp's amusing performance which you've no doubt already heard about by now... But I know I watched it because it's about pirates! I mean, we're all familiar with pirate cliches, but there hasn't been a real pirate movie in a long time. :) I like this bit from Ebert's review:
"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" is "based on" the theme park ride at Disney World, which I have taken many times. It is also inspired (as the ride no doubt was) by the rich tradition of pirate movies, and excels in such departments as buried treasure, pirates' caves, pet parrots and walking the plank, although there is a shortage of eye patches and hooks.
:) If you haven't already seen it, check out this keyboard for pirates. Also the IMDb trivia page has a list of references to the ride.
Is this to be the future, though? "Be sure take the ride before you watch the movie!" After all, this isn't just a one-off thing. I've already seen trailers for The Haunted Mansion. So what's next?
"In a world... that's small......"