I enjoyed the unrated director's cut of King Arthur a fair bit. It's a gritty, fight fest. Lots of big battle scenes with lots of effects and stabbin'. The story isn't the old legend we know from movies. It's got Roman's and Saxons and Sarmatins and Picts and Scots all stabbin' each other. They do have a round table. It's very nice. Antoine Fuqua directed, he seems to go from one different type of project to another. Fuqua is very stylish director who likes color and movement. He started in music videos and his first feature was The Replacement Killers, Chow Yun Fat's American debut, which was a nice revenge flick with the additional bonus of Mira Sorvino in her underwear. Lots of gun shooting, some in underwear. Chow complained his hands were numb from shooting so many rounds. Bait, a nice action comedy with Jamie Foxx followed. Training Day, Denzel Washington's award gathering decent into hell was great. Tears of the Sun took Bruce Willis into Nigeria to rescue a doctor and her group from advancing rebels. His movies get bigger and bigger in scope. A talented director well worth watching.
Insomnia has been sitting for some time, waiting patiently to get watched. It's Christopher Nolan's 2002 remake of a 1997 film with the wonderful Stellan Skarsgård in what would become the Al Pacino role. Skarsgård was also the hulking Cedric in King Arthur. I saw the Norwegian original but I can't remember enough details to be sure how close the two were, but some guy on Amazon mentions a pretty big difference, one I won't mention here. See if you can guess. It's a moody psychological thriller with Robin Williams in a dark bad guy role. He's good, as is the supporting cast, Hillary Swank, Martin Donovan, and a fav of mine, Paul Dooley. This movie is not going to be a favorite of mine but it's still pretty good. Alaska looks nice now, wait until it snows.
A Man Apart wasn't too bad, an average cop revenge movie, with some good action shoot-ups. It's an F. Gary Gray film staring Vin Diesel. Vin's a tough cop who takes down a big drug cartel guy. El Diablo moves in to fill the vacuum and then, somewhere along in there, someone comes knocking to kill Vin. Only Vin's wife dies. After a period of mournin' comes the killin'. A lot of shoot outs in this one. If you look at Gray's film list all of his films are crime films of one sort or another. Just mentioning it. I'm sure there's some crime going on in some of his music videos. If you like Vin, he's ok in this. On the dvd he looks like he could kick my ass. He's got a good intensity. I like the Riddick films and recently The Pacifier. Quite a versatile actor that guy.
Kung Phooey! was pretty much dumb fun, and it does live up to it's no MSG promise. It's a low budget ($500K), but not timely, parody of Kung Fu. Better late than never, I guess. It's a comedy in the Airplane style, lots of gags, some of them related to Asian cultural differences. It's funny at times, there are a few groaners, and the cast is ok. The fights are pretty bad. I just recently saw some of the first episodes of the original Kung Fu tv series and the fights on the show are pretty bad. My mom could bitch slap some of those villians and make it look more realistic. It was still fun to watch, and I'll certainly watch it again, if I get the time.
Shaolin vs Evil Dead carries on the tradition of the Mr. Vampire films, but with out Lam Ching-Ying, who passed away in 1997. Wow, has it been that long. A shaolin monk and his two comic-relief assistants get into some silly vampire chasing and fighting. It's almost as good as the early Mr. Vampire films from the 80's, and Gordon Liu is ok as the monk. It's just an average film, you could skip it.
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D has been ravaged pretty well by all the movie pundits. "Worse thing I ever saw". My ass! I have to discount anyone who says anything at all like that in a review. Obviously haven't seen nearly enough movies, and let me tell ya', after seeing The Turkish Star Wars, there is always a new low in film making. Yet, those wacky low-expectation-havin'-Turkish-motherfuckers sure made me laugh. I'm looking for what's good in a film, and in Sharkboy and Lavagirl there's a nice heartfelt story, some exciting visuals and a few jokes. The kids are cute and the 3-D worked well on my tv, it gave a very good illusion of depth. It looked way better than Spy Kids 3D did on my old tv, which I had out for the Thanksgiving dub-a-thon. I'll have to pull the Spy Kids 3D dvd out and have a gander. The story isn't very original but it was pulled out of the head of Robert Rodriguez's 7 year old son Racer and it's just fine. It's all about dreaming and being creative but still keeping a hold onto reality while making your dreams come true. I would like to see the dream where I get a cookie come true, hardly anyone ever gets shot in that one. No one gets shot in Sharkboy and Lavagirl, and there is a land of milk and cookies. It's a fantasy from a kids POV, and I liked it.
Final Cut was kind of dismal through out and deadly at the end. Robin Williams plays a guy who edits people's memories for funeral memorials. It's a bit in the future and people can have a chip installed at birth that records their memories for playback after death. There's a whole movement against it for invasion of privacy and other things. There's a rich guy who might have done something, something that movement wants to use against him. It's this mix that Robin Williams gets thrown into. He's a pretty fucked up guy who's carrying excessive emotional baggage from his youth. It's not so much a thriller, it's a hard one to sell to regular folks, what with all them sociological implications, an' all. Good but not mainstream. Not for everyone.