Thursday, May 29, 2008

In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008) - Written By Fred [The Wolf]

Uwe Boll

Jason Statham - Farmer Daimon
Ray Liotta - Gallian
Leelee Sobieski - Muriella
Burt Reynolds - King Konreid
Ron Perlman - Norrick
Matthew Lillard - Duke Fallow
Kristanna Loken - Elora
Claire Forlani - Solana
John Rhys Davies - Merick

Year - 2008

Running Time - 124 min

Score - 1 Howl Outta 4

I think it's pretty common knowledge, for those knowledgeable in films and the entertainment world, that Uwe Boll is probably one of the most controversial directors we have right now. It isn't because the material he writes and directs is taboo or offensive on a moral level. It's because Boll seems to be capturing the title of "21st Century Ed Wood" with a smirk on his face. While he's not the worst filmmaker in the world, his track record when it comes to video game adaptations has been bad. Really bad. Chernobyl bad. So why is he allowed to continue to make more films? Why do we even watch them, knowing they'll probably suck ass? It's because Boll revels in his awfulness [even though he doesn't believe he's an awful filmmaker] and will box anyone who thinks he sucks. All those negative reviews are considered nothing but jealousy in his little mind. While totally egotistical, his actions are perversely charming, appealing, and highly entertaining. Too bad HOUSE OF THE DEAD, ALONE IN THE DARK, BLOODRAYNE, and BLOODRAYNE 2 can't be described in the same way.

So I was struggling when it came to watching IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE. I knew it was gonna be bad. But Jason Statham is in it and I'm a fan of the dude. Statham's films may not be the greatest or the most memorable, but he's a good actor and an even better action star that should be bigger than he currently is. So I took the chance and watched this TWO HOUR film based on a game I've never played. To my surprise, it was the best Uwe Boll film I've seen so far. To my unsurprise, it was still subpar and it did a lot of things wrong. But hey, at least the guy's improving right?

In the Kingdom of Ehb, an evil magus named Gallian (Ray Liotta) resurrects some ugly demonic things in order to steal rulership from King Konreid (Burt Reynolds). To gain an advantage, Gallian has seduced the daughter (Leelee Sobieski) of the King's mage (John Rhys Davies). He's also has been given help from the King's nephew (Matthew Lillard), who wants his uncle to die in order to become King himself.

As Gallian begins terrorizing Ehb, a quiet farmer named, um, Farmer (Jason Statham) is forced into stopping these demons after they go after his son and wife, Solana (Claire Forlani). Unfortunately while Farmer is fighting away demons, his son is murdered and his wife gets kidnapped by the Krug demons. Wanting revenge for the destruction of his family, Farmer gathers his friends and meets strange personalities along his quest to find his wife, learning that he may be the only hope for Ehb's survival.

was heavily promoted earlier this year, but with Uwe Boll's name attached and a trailer that shows the best parts of the film [which aren't all that great to begin with - how sad], the film was distributed to maybe 1500 theaters and didn't even crack the Top 10 of the U.S. Box Office, failing right at the start. While the film isn't good, it does deserve an audience - only to show people that there are some idiots out there who still think giving Uwe Boll money to direct a film is a GOOD investment. While IN THE NAME OF THE KING is Boll's best film, really - does that say a whole lot?

Sixty million dollars. That's how much this film cost to make. Really? Sixty million? For THIS? Couldn't that money have gotten some better use? Like for cancer or AIDS research? Maybe to build homes for people who don't have any sort of shelter? Why not use this money to make Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt just go away? It's absolutely ridiculous for any movie studio to give this amount of cash to a man whose track record with successful films is as good as Amy Winehouse's track record with sobriety.

And where did this money go to? None of these actors are what I would call true A-list. The special effects? Like that floating sword fight? You don't mean those strobelights that were around Ray Liotta as he controlled the lead Krug soldier and watched his victims in a blurred, sort of dreamlike point of view? Dude, I can get that same kind of point of view while on ecstasy in a nightclub. And what about those Krugs, huh? Looks like the MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS lost a few villains on the way to the set. Oh, they were really meant for IN THE NAME OF THE KING? Wow, how foolish of me to think otherwise! Seriously, this film looks cheaply made and has a limited vision. It's obvious the money went right into Uwe Boll's bank account for his next few films. Boy, I can't wait for those masterpieces!

I'm being totally sarcastic right now because if the script was tighter and if the budget was used correctly, this could have been a pretty good film worth more than a single watch. All the elements were there: Pretty people, Decent battle sequences, and motivations for each character that could compel the audience into wanting to know and CARE what will happen to them. Instead, all I got was THE LORD OF THE RINGS, except without the epicness of it all, characters you could care about, twists that actually made sense, and special effects that actually worked well and didn't make me laugh. It just feels like such a rip off and it only makes Peter Jackson's work that much better. The story was just so clumsy and just so bland that I wondered how I kept watching this. I appreciated that things were actually happening and leading somewhere, but the ride getting there was boring as hell. The characters weren't developed at all, people would pop in and out without really adding much to the film, and the story's "twist" with Farmer came out of left field. When the reveal occurred, I was like, "Where the fuck did that come from?" I couldn't help but laugh. Even the dialogue is unintentionally funny.

Muriella - "Must you always appear suddenly from nowhere?"
Gallian - "I don't. I appear so suddenly from somewhere."


Muriella - "I knew you'd come."
Gallian - "I told you I would."
Muriella - "I mean, I felt. I felt it before you came."

I swear I heard this line in a Jenna Jameson film once.

Norick - "So this is where we pay for our sins?"
Solana - "No. This is where we pay for our virtues. Sins are more than welcome here."

WHAT THE FUCK!? Sigh...let's move on.

Uwe Boll has improved his directorial skills because at least the film was at least watchable for the most part. Too bad it feels too long [2 hours - are you shitting me?] and seems to repeat itself when it comes to pacing its scenes. Even the editing is choppy, especially during battle sequences. Seriously, it felt like watching one of those modern incarnations of POWER RANGERS, where sword swipes doesn't damage the enemy and choregraphy where the people involved had to help each other stick to their choregraphed moves. But at least it was watchable and fun to point out flaws. Boll attempts to make the film feel epic with so many extras, when in reality, there are probably just 20 or 30 of them edited to quadruple that amount. The cinematography is okay at best, although this Kingdom of Ehb looks so depressing that not even the homeless would want to live here. And the last half of the film just felt weaker than the first half when it came to visually keeping up with the story. At least Boll was trying but it's still far from good enough.

The acting is all over the place here. Jason Statham keeps his dignity intact with his protrayal as Farmer. Hands down the best actor in the film, he keeps a straight face through it all. The man is a great actor to pull that off. He's subtle in the role, which is refreshing from all the other clowns in this film. Plus he can do battle choregraphy really well, so it worked for me. I just wish he would have picked a better movie than this one.

Ray Liotta, on the hand, was an embarrassment as the villain Gallian. One, he looked like Liberace. Two, he either underacted or overacted, unsure of which style to maintain throughout the film. I was never really sure what this guy's deal was or why he was so fashion-forward unlike the other people in the cast. When's the last time this actor has made a good film? Someone needs to fire their agent...

Everyone else was just there. Burt Reynolds needed a paycheck and looks uncomfortable playing a really unimpressive and boring King in this film. Will Sanderson and Ron Perlman attempt to be the goofy sidekicks to Statham, but they only look like fools instead. Leelee Sobieski, Claire Forlani, and Kristanna Loken don't do much of anything and pretty much look bored. At least all three are pretty smokin'. John Rhys-Davies, who was actually in THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, is actually pretty good here as the mage. Even with the horrible dialogue he had to spew, it made it classy nonetheless. Quite the feat.

And then we have Matthew Lillard as Duke Fallow, the nephew of the King. Oh. My. God. What an annoying protrayal by an annoying actor. I haven't seen acting this bad in a movie that went straight to the theater, I can't even recall. It's so embarrassing that I honestly don't have the words to describe the level of it. I wanted him dead the moment he started talking like an ass and making really dumb contortions with his goofy face. If he doesn't win an Razzie for Worst Actor of 2008, I'll be shocked. He's that horrible. Stick to SCOOBY-DOO, assmunch!


- Farmer's son was given his first pig. It's great for every farm boy to go through his rite of passage by inserting himself into bacon before inserting bacon into him.

- The women can't get enough of Jason Statham. After all, he knows a thing or two about SNATCH.

- Farmer calls herself "Farmer" because he believes people become what they do. If that's the case, then why isn't Paris Hilton calling herself "Skank Whore"?

- Farmer used a boomerang to ward off some of the Krugs. Looks like those Legend of Zelda games did their job.

- Leelee Sobieski knows how to use a sword extremely well. I'm sure she gets a lot of dates.

- Ray Liotta is dressed like Liberace. I knew he was in GOODFELLAS, but I didn't realize he was looking for some as well!

- A wizard was brought in to see if he could magically save the King from poison. If it were me, I would have brought in Bel Biv Devoe. They seem knowledgeable on the subject.

- The King, after learning his true relationship with Farmer, wonders what tricks the Gods are playing on him. Probably the same trick his plastic surgeon played on his face. Geez!

- Norick got killed fighting for his freedom. He sure gave those Krugs HELL, BOY.

is one of Uwe Boll's better films, but that's like saying drowning is better than strangulation. This is the kind of film you rent with your friends, get drunk or high to, and then just laugh away at how ridiculous it all is. It's worthy of getting made fun of. At least it somewhat entertained me, but it also took away two hours of my precious time. That can never be forgiven. I sayeth this to thee, IN THE NAME OF THE KING - off with your head and straight into the WTF? Vault with thee!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" movie review by Ben Kenber

Man! I was so frackin’ lucky to see this before I flew out of LAX on Friday. I was afraid I would have to wait a whole week to see this one, and it brought back bad memories of when I was forced to wait to see some of the movies I desperately wanted to view. Fortunately, I managed to get off of work early and haul ass to the nearest movie theater to view a movie 19 years in the making before I had to rush off to the airport.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is another in a long line of films listed as “the most eagerly awaited film in movie history!” However, what the “Star Wars” prequels and “The Matrix” sequels taught us (whatever you thought of them) is that the expectation of something tends to be far more exciting than the actual finished product. That always works against movies like these because we are just soooo excited about them, and they never meet our expectations. Ever since I saw “Star Trek V – The Final Frontier,” I have done my best to keep my expectations at bay. It is way too easy to be disappointed by a movie that you restlessly wait for. I came into the latest adventure of Indiana Jones just wanting to have a good time, and you know what? That’s exactly what I got!

The newest Indiana Jones movie is not without its flaws, as is the case with all the sequels in this franchise. The script at times is rather convoluted, and it’s a little hard to figure out what the whole deal with the crystal skull is (a second viewing may end up rectifying that). It's no “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but to expect it to be is ridiculous. The first adventure of Dr. Jones is such a classic and held so far up in the pantheon of movies that it is impossible to beat it in terms of its entertainment value and freshness. Just seeing Harrison Ford put on that fedora one more time was more than enough for me.

This movie moves Indiana Jones to the 1950’s, and the Nazis are all gone (just as well). In their place are the Russians, the villains of choice back in the 1980’s until US relations with them improved. Indy and his pal 'Mac' George McHale (Ray Winstone, the voice of “Beowulf”) have been captured by the Ruskies and taken over to Area 51 in New Mexico, the warehouse where the US government hides all the things it wants no one else to see (The Ark of the Covenant makes a cameo appearance). This leads to the first big action sequence that gets the movie off to a quick start and has those “whoa” moments that I am always looking for in action movies. Indy’s final escape from the area does seem a bit ridiculous, but these movies deal with death-defying actions, and these are stories that take a place in a reality somewhat removed from our own.

Dr. Henry Jones Jr. (his real name as we learned it from “The Last Crusade”) still teaches archaeology courses at the university he has always taught at, but soon finds himself dismissed as he is under suspicion of being a Communist. Back in the days of the Joseph McCarthy era, you were guilty until proven innocent. Time has certainly for Indy and his university friend Dean Charles Stanforth (Jim Broadbent from “Hot Fuzz”), and they have both lost friends over the years like Indy’s father and Marcus Brody (played by the late Denholm Elliott, who is appropriately acknowledged here years after his death). Just as Indy heads off to go around the world, he is visited by Mutt Williams, a 50’s greaser played by Shia LeBeouf. Mutt informs Indiana that his mother has been kidnapped, and that she needs his help to get to this Crystal Skull. This artifact promises to give one power when it is returned to its rightful place, an immense power that the Russians want every bit as much. It is a little bit hard to describe what the big deal is about the Crystal Skull in words, and it is likely that I will be viewing this movie again soon to be sure.

The Russians are led by Irina Spalko, and she is played with utter relish by Cate Blanchett. She is a cold, steely woman whose interest in psychic powers and education in said subject proves to be more dangerous than anyone can realize. Like all the villains in this franchise, she lusts for ultimate power and will get it at any cost. Of course, her lust and greed will lead to her eventual undoing. You know how these Indiana Jones movies go. Irina may not be the greatest villain in this franchise, but she is still a formidable foe as embodied by Blanchett, one of many actresses out there who can play just about anybody.

The movie features great stunts that, even if they are not entirely believable, still generate a good deal of excitement. Some are ridiculously over the top, like Shia’s character swinging along vines with the monkeys. But then again, not everything in this movie is meant to be completely believable. Spielberg said he would not rely so much on CGI effects in this movie, but you do notice them when you see them, and it does take away from the action a little. In the end, the movie keeps up at a pace which never lets up so that you can catch your breath.

Many have said that Harrison Ford is just too damn old to play this part, or to be in any action movie at all. This was probably brought up more when he did “Firewall” which ended up doing poorly at the box office. Frankly, I am sick of all this talk about him being at the AARP age level. Ford certainly doesn’t look his age, and he still handles the action scenes with a gusto that you never doubt. No one will ever surpass Ford in this iconic role, and I would hate to see anyone else try. God forbid Michael Bay tries to remake any of the other movies here!

But one of the real masterstrokes that Spielberg and Lucas did hear was bring back Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, Indiana’s love from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It is so great to see her again as she matches wits with Indiana at every step of the way. Marion also turns out to be Mutt’s mother, and this leads to other revelations that I invite you to see for yourself. There is a line in the movie where Marion and Indy are in the back of a truck trying to escape, and she asks Indy why his other relationships didn’t last, and Indy says:

“Because they weren’t you Marion.”

This points the obvious of how the other heroines of these movies didn’t even come close to matching the wonderful presence of this character, and Karen continues to be such an immensely engaging presence in this and other movies she does. Her character is not like the whiny bitch Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) from “Temple of Doom,” nor is she the underwritten cold character played by Allison Doody from “The Last Crusade.” It is clear that everyone involved knew that they could do no worse than to bring Karen back. I am very glad that they did.

The big surprise I got from watching this movie was the performance of Shia LeBeouf. I expected him to be an annoying sidekick a la Short Round from “Temple Of Doom,” and essentially give us the same performance as he did in “Transformers.” That was not the case at all as he perfectly slipped into the mold of a 50’s greaser out to save his mother. He matches wits well with Harrison Ford as they journey together to other countries on a search and rescue mission. Thus, we get another one of those scenes where we see a map and a red line showing where our heroes are going, silhouetted against the planes and other transportation they use to get to their final destination. Shia is very good here, even if he does end up on the verge of some Wesley Crusher-like moments.

Ray Winstone is also very good here, as he is in just about everything he does. At first, I started to think that his character was somewhat unnecessary, and was basically there as a foil for both Indy and the plot of the movie. However, Ray’s performance helps to make some of the more implausible moments in the film actually believable as he sucks us into what his character wants, and he convinces us of this as much as he does Indiana Jones.

I have to give the filmmakers some credit as they took their iconic hero and placed him in another period of time. To have Indy fighting the Nazis would have been overkill, and we already know what happened to them. Having Dr. Jones go up against the Russians showed that at least the filmmakers were trying something a little bit different instead of just giving the audience the same old thing. There are a lot of moments where Spielberg and Lucas pay homage to the earlier Indy movies as well as to other Spielberg movies like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” There is a big sci-fi element to this movie in particular which was not as big as in the other movies, but these movies have always indulged in the world of fantasies be it real or imagined.

There is actually a surprising lack of snakes in this sequel, but one does make a memorable cameo appearance. The main animals to fear here are red ants who, even in their CGI form, are terrifying man and woman eaters. We even worry about them devouring the bad guys. Even if the angry red ants do look a bit fake, they still left me unnerved like all the dangerous animals in an Indiana Jones do.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is by no means a perfect movie, but then again, we had no right to expect it to be. None of the sequels in this series were perfect either, but whatever flaws they had were eventually redeemed by their entertainment factor which was far above most other action films you see. The only movie in this franchise that has any right to be called perfect is “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and nothing is ever going to top that. Ever.

I would probably rate this particular sequel just right above “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” While that one may have been a little more entertaining, it also had a first half and characters that drove me up the wall. It doesn’t have the same amount of heart and character as did the 1st or 3rd movies in this franchise, but those characters still remain true to their origins and they keep us engaged in the action. In the end, it is pointless to get too critical on the Indiana Jones movies, let alone this one. To take it apart limb from limb would take the fun out of it, and these movies are really made for the moviegoers more than anyone else. No one should ever come into any movie expecting it to be a classic, and it certainly goes with this one.

In terms of the summer movies released so far, “Iron Man” is still the movie to beat. “Indiana Jones 4” is not able to beat it out there, but “Iron Man” is a strong movie for more or less the same reasons that “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was when it was first released. They both brought a freshness and energy to their genres that had felt somewhat dormant, and they were created by filmmakers who cared about the stories and the characters that they were bringing to the screen. “Iron Man” will eventually lead to a number of sequels, most of which will probably not hold a candle to the original. While we want some of the same old stuff, we also want something new that brings a new edge to what we saw before. With the latest adventure of Indiana Jones, it was business as usual, and that was more than enough for me.

And stop telling me that Harrison Ford is too old to be doing movies like this because frankly, I don’t give a shit!

*** out of ****

Monday, May 19, 2008

One Missed Call Review

Genres: Comedy....Oh Wait I Mean Horror

Running Time: 1Hr & 25 Mins

Release Date: January 4th, 2008

MPAA Rating: G anyone can watch this shit stain of a movie but really you don't want to watch it so stay away.

Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

U.S. Box Office: 26,876,529 Million To Much

Beth Raymond is traumatized when she witnesses the gruesome deaths of two friends just days apart. Even more disturbing, she knows that both of them had received chilling cell phone messages--actual recordings of their own horrifying last moments. Impossibly, the calls were received days before they died, but each death occurred precisely when and how the messages foretold. The police think Beth is delusional--except for Detective Jack Andrews, whose own sister was killed in a freak accident that bears a strange similarity to the deaths of Beth's friends. Together, Jack and Beth work feverishly to unravel the mystery behind the ominous calls. But even as they get closer to the truth, Beth's cell phone begins to ring with an eerie tune, and the readout displays: "One Missed Call."

Alright i have One Missed Call or like it should have been called One Missed Plot Cause this movie makes barely any sense what so ever. It pisses me off when you see almost the same thing as a superior horror movie (The Ring) with the same PG-13 rating(obviously i was kidding about the G rating) done not just bad but terribly.

Some of my friends claim this movie was smart as hell and all the imagery was great but man this imagery looks like shit and these are the same guys that said Iron Man and Golden Compass looked to fake. There was a part where there was some kind of insect crawling on some girls hand and I'm sorry ill tell you guys right now that this shit should have been a direct to dvd release. At least if it was a direct to dvd release i would know why it is this bad, but really you can't get any worse then this movie.

Now here is where we get into things, ok so we have a girl (Shannyn Sossamon) who's friends start getting killed, but before they die they pretty much get a notice but its in a form of a One Missed Call. It works like this, ok say it says one missed call on Friday at 3:00 P.M. even when it only Tuesday, then thats the time and day you are going to get killed, doesn't matter where......your going to die.

Now it sounds cool but after that it starts getting really really stupid (not like it isn't already). Theres a story about some girl that was trapped in a fire a little while ago and here mother died in the fire, hold on, later on in the movie you see here toasty ass body right there. So no one thought well maybe we should get her out of there. Anyway that actually what starts this, everyone thinks its the mother when well it wasn't (BIG FUCKING SURPRISE HUH!!!!) it was actually the older sister of the little girl who died of a asthma attack.

I don't know why see came back and started killing these people who she doesn't even know, who have no relation to anyone in here family what so ever. So theres the little insect things again which have no reason in the movie and why there in a jar at the little girls house i really don't know.

Anyway the CGI was terrible in this movie( i already told you guys before) and if there is a good thing about this movie is that it comes from 2008 so i have another movie for the worst of 08 so thank you One Missed Call for sucking so much balls. One thing i didn't talk about was Ed Burns which of course he's going to be the cop who gets his ass killed at the end. But really we know that Ed Burns is a really good actor and he did good with what he had to work with.

So really One Missed Call could have been a great movie if they did the same thing but make it Rated R and have a whole lot of gore. This movie would have been great for that cause there was some bitch hit by a train, i guy got impaled by a pole, and some other great got the worst death of all of them, she got a hand in the back of the neck. See that would have been great for this movie.

So really this is a call you guys really shouldn't mind missing and if you check out a horror movie now that is in the theaters or are on dvd then go and check out The Ruins, its a pretty decent movie and best thing of all its RATED R!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

.5 Hard Edged Detectives Out Of 5

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Iron Man" movie review by Ben Kenber

Alright folks, the Summer 2008 movie season has now begun! Not only that, but it has started off with a highly entertaining bang with the long awaited release of “Iron Man” which stars Robert Downey Jr. as the egocentric weapons maker turned world protector Tony Stark. Here’s hoping the rest of this summer’s releases can keep up with this movie which has now set the bar high for the rest of the blockbusters. It makes me remember how much fun a movie like this can be, and it also makes me realize just how much “Daredevil” sucked. I thought it was okay when I first saw it a while ago. I now stand corrected.

The movie starts with Tony Stark traveling along the Afghanistan desert with a military convoy which is soon attacked by terrorists. Tony flees the hummer transporting him, and almost gets killed by one of the missiles he designed. When he comes to, he is held captive in a cave, kept alive by an electromagnet attached to his torso which keeps whatever shrapnel in his body from going into his heart. The terrorists, led by Raza (Faran Tahir) force Tony to build them one of his most destructive missiles on pain of death. Of course, the terrorists will end up killing Stark when he is finished, so he instead takes the parts they give him, and he creates a suit that is bulletproof and which allows him to escape his captors in spectacular fashion.

When he gets back home in America, he has a press conference where he says that he will turn his company from a weapons making factory into something that doesn’t promote endless destruction. Having seen what his weapons of mass destruction have done to others, he has had a change of heart and works to protect those from the weapons he has created. Having saved himself with his iron suit, he works at perfecting it into something strong and seemingly indestructible. It gives him the ability to fly, and to get back at all of those who foolishly took advantage of his destructive creations.

“Iron Man” is a tricky movie to make because it is the type of movie that is meant primarily to set up this particular superhero, and then move on to the inevitable sequels which never come soon enough. This is what typically drives me crazy with these types of movies; they are all set up, and the payoff doesn’t come until the sequel comes out. It is a credit to director Jon Favreau (“Swingers”) that the characters are as interesting as the action is exciting. Unlike some of the more recent comic book adaptations, this story feels much more grounded in reality, and it is not subject to characters that seem anything but real. Unlike Peter Parker who got way too emo for those who remember him from “Spider-Man 3,” we have a hero who is not wasting time feeling sorry for himself when he sees so clearly what he needs to do.

The real masterstroke of “Iron Man” though (and we all must have seen this coming) is the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. Robert is without a doubt one of the best actors working in film today, and it is impossible to picture anyone else in this role after seeing this movie. When he first appears, he clearly acts like the man Weird Al Yankovic was talking about when he sang the song “I’m Such A Groovy Guy.” Both brilliant and sexy (and all the more aware of those facts), you would almost believe that Robert is playing himself to a certain extent. But in the end, that would be an unfair criticism. Robert makes the character’s transition from selfish egomaniac to protector seem almost seamless and never less than believable. He gets at the heart of his character and plays it out from there. Inside that cool and ever so confident exterior, there lies a man who is taking his life and company in a direction which may kill it completely. No one could play the role of Tony Stark better than Downey Jr. No one.

That brings me to another thing; Tony Stark is one of coolest comic book heroes I have seen in a long time. Most of the comic book heroes we have grown up with are emotional wrecks and understandably so. Batman saw his parents murdered in front of him, Superman only got to see his parents at that Crystal Palace and lost his human father earlier than he should have, Spiderman lost his Uncle when he was murdered, and Daredevil… I’ll just leave him out of this for now. I can’t even remember what his deal was.

But Tony isn’t necessarily waylaid by a series of emotional disasters the way all those characters were, not at the start of the movie anyway. While many of us want to spit on those who look like they had everything handed to them on a silver platter (George W. Bush), Tony more than earns his confidence, and you never doubt his abilities as a creator of things extraordinary.

Also, Tony has quite the lifestyle for himself that most guys will definitely be envious of. He has one hell of a mansion up in the hills of Malibu, California that has the most incredible view you could ever hope for. His own personal jet is equipped with a pole that comes out of the floor for his very lovely stewardesses to take advantage of. I saw this movie in a theater with some friends of mine at work in a theater we thought wouldn’t be as crowded as the others (it was though), and one of them leaned over to me and said:

“This is the only way to live!”

In retrospect, this kind of character is a relief of all those other male superheroes who turn into whiny crybabies that remind me too much of myself. You notice that the female superheroes don’t fall into this category much at all, so it does make you wonder what gender is truly the stronger one. I guess all reached a peak last summer when we had the tremendous disappointment that was “Spider-Man 3” (I guess we’re all still recovering from that one). Peter Parker’s moaning and groaning about how way too complicated his life is finally got on a lot of people’s nerves. My friend Pam, who despised this movie to no end, said it best:


Aside from Robert, the rest of the “Iron Man” cast is perfectly chosen. Jeff Bridges remains after all these years one of the most underappreciated actors working in film today. His character of Obadiah Stane, one of the main heads of Stark Industries, is slimy corporate executive whose outer exterior projects a man of kindness and trust that Stark relies. That trust is utterly betrayed when Stane files an injunction against Stark to gain control of the company, and to put it back in the direction it was going before Stark started changing his ways. Unlike Stark, Obadiah has no creativity or brilliance of mind to rely on. All Obadiah has is selfish desires, and a misplaced loyalty to Stark’s father who helped build the world’s first atomic bomb. Although he may have the makings of another villain whose sole interest (other than sex) is world domination, Stane represents those who are all too easily threatened by the winds of change. Sounds like some of our country’s leaders now, doesn’t it?

Jeff, like Robert, gives this character some dimensions you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find in this character. This is not just some one-dimensional bad guy like some of the others in the film, and it is a credit to the brilliance of Jeff Bridges that he makes this all the more clear. Trust me, there is so much more to Jeff Bridges than just The Dude (not to take away from “The Big Lebowski,” which was a great movie).

Also on board for “Iron Man” duty is Gwenyth Paltrow who is a wonderful presence here as Tony’s longtime assistant, Virginia 'Pepper' Potts. Although it may seem weird for Gwenyth to playing assistant to a man, and it almost does seem like a role that is beneath her, she imbues her role with beauty, smarts, intelligence, and heart which Tony more than depends on his life for. She also shares great chemistry with Robert (what actress doesn’t?), and their relationship is key, and probably will be for the inevitable sequels. Gwenyth also has one of the movie’s best lines as she meets up with a writer from Vanity Fair that Tony made out with the night before:

“So you just spend your time taking care of everything Tony asks you to do?

“I take care of all duties that Tony asks of me to do. That includes taking out the garbage.”

We also have the great Terence Howard as Tony’s military consultant and close friend, Jim Rhodes. Jim is the one who tries to keep Tony grounded in reality, but he never really succeeds. Terence is great here, even if he is a bit underused here. Plus, this is the second movie I have seen where he plays a character constantly giving press conferences (“The Brave One” was the other one). Terence, if you’re reading this, you might want to steer clear of scenes like these for your next couple of movies. Judging from the way he looks at one of Iron Man’s suits, I think we can expect Jim Rhodes to become an even bigger player the next time around.

The movie has a lot of great action scenes where you are justified in saying, “that’s cool man!” When he fights off terrorists in a war torn country, it is an entertaining sequence where Iron Man finds creative ways to dispatch of his enemies (they’re too good to reveal here). Also, there are scenes where Robert Downey Jr. is shown testing out different parts of the suit. This can usually be seen as the boring set up part for the superhero, but there are moments that make you jump out of your seat because you end up laughing out loud. Suffice to say, there is never a boring minute to found in this movie. The ending is a little disappointing in that does quite give the movie the full climax it deserves, but that may be because the makers of the movie are more interested in the characters then they are in creating totally original action scenes (if such a thing is still possible).

“Iron Man” is a great way to kick off the summer movie season in high style, and it quickly raises the entertainment bar for the rest of the movies you can expect to see this summer. But the one guy who really makes this movie a success is Robert Downey Jr. who gives us more than the average super hero. Robert gives us one with brains, smarts, and most importantly a soul. It doesn’t matter if you have great special effects if you don’t have the story or the characters to match up with it. “Iron Man” has that, and it has the acting demigod that is Robert Downey Jr.

***1/2 out of ****

"Speed Racer" movie review by Ben Kenber

I’m not sure I watched the original “Speed Racer” cartoon or not, but I can’t help but feel like I have. Maybe it’s because that darn theme song can be so hard to get out of your head. If you are not aware of the show (and most everyone is), you probably hear the “Speed Racer” mentioned in every other sentence. It’s one of those characters that has permanently engrained itself into pop culture for all time. Now the Wachowski Brothers have brought this popular cartoon that is credited for bringing the world of anime into full focus onto the big screen in a live action version that is bursting at the seams with the most vibrant colors imaginable. In short, “Speed Racer” is a visual splendor to behold, and also kind of an endurance to sit through. At over 2 hours, this movie is way too long. I usually don’t complain about the length of a movie, but I can’t resist bitching about it here because I kept yawning in the 2nd half and checking my watch. When I check my watch during a movie, then that is NOT a good sign.

“Speed Racer” starts off innocently enough as we see Young Speed (Nicholas Elia) daydreaming about someday being a great racecar driver like his brother Rex (Scott Porter). Speed comes from a family weaned on race cars and building them. His father Pops (the always dependable John Goodman) runs Rex’s race team along with Speed’s brother Sparky (Kick Gurry), until Rex ends up walking out on the family and their cars. No real reason is giving by Rex to his dad, but he warns Young Speed to not believe all the bad things that people are going to end up saying about him. Soon enough, Rex is slammed with a bad reputation that is not really of his own doing, and he later perishes in a tragic car crash which haunts the family to the point where Pops won’t go into his garage to do any mechanic work.

Fast forward several years later, and we see Speed all grown up and as a good a racer as his brother Rex. Speed amazes everyone with his skills on the track to the delight of his fans and his ever loving family. Pops has come back into working on cars again along with Sparky, and Speed also has a great mother in Susan Sarandon who I can’t help but say is quite a sexy mom. She threatens to bring out the Benjamin Braddock in me… Anyway, back to the movie. Speed also has a loyal girlfriend in Trixie (Christina Ricci, almost as sexy as she was in “Black Snake Moan”) who flies her pink helicopter in the most alluring miniskirts ever to make their way into a PG-rated movie. And there is also Speed’s annoying younger brother (is there any other kind?) Spritle (Paulie Litt) and his chimp friend Chim Chim. Speed could not have asked for a better family.

Then into the picture comes Mr. Royalton (Roger Allam), a spiffy CEO of one the largest auto industries in the world who offers Speed a chance to sign up with him to represent his corporation. Royalton is basically a man with the mind of a used car salesman (I’ve been dealing with a lot of these lately) with an extravagant attire. This man wants to seduce Speed into a world where he can have everything he could ever possibly want, but Speed would rather stick with his family as he finds these corporations a little too scary to deal with. This ends up bringing out the devil in Royalton as he gives Speed lessons in how the world really works, and how he will never win a race from now on. The movie then becomes a journey to showing that one racecar driver can change the world for the better, and can succeed in blowing apart the corrupt corporations that threaten to destroy the world of racing.

The movie is deliberately campy, and that’s fine. I imagine the show was too. The beginning of the movie was fun as it introduced us to the world of Speed Racer and the people who inhabit this place. There is an innocence that was quite infectious as we see Speed daydreaming about the life he wants to lead. Who hasn’t had moments like that in their life? There was a good reason why I wasn’t always paying attention in Spanish class. Had the movie contained more of an innocent feel like that, then I imagine I would have liked it a lot more. There’s nothing wrong with a good throwback to the past, and it always brings back good memories that are always welcome.

But towards the last half of the movie, I was really getting restless. Just when you think the movie has reached its climax, there is a whole other part and feels dragged out. Maybe it’s because we all know how this movie ends, and the depressing part is that there is no excitement in it. The movie has heart, but not enough to fully envelop us into its gloriously colorful world. Because the movie is all CGI and practically all shot in front of a blue screen, we know everything is precise in movement and direction. This is nothing you can really improvise around. This makes the race scenes all the more disappointing because there is no real thrill in watching them. By the end, I was ready for it to be over. It didn’t matter how brilliant the visuals were. They don’t mean anything without soul.

This is the first movie the Wachowski Brothers have directed since the “The Matrix” sequels. They still have a knack for groundbreaking visual effects, and of following that one character who is “the one.” If it’s not Neo, then it’s Speed Racer himself. They do surround this film with good actors like John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Christina Ricci, and Emile Hirsch who is coming off a plethora of praise for his work in “Into The Wild,” a movie which I still need to see. But the story and the characters are not enough here like they were in “The Matrix.” Maybe it’s because we have seen this story so many times before; the one man on a mission to stop the ones who control everything and who blind us to the truth of the world we live in. With “The Matrix,” that story was revolutionary and ground breaking. But with “Speed Racer,” there is nothing revolutionary except the visual spectrum of what’s on display, and it doesn’t change the fact that the story about a man going against the corporate world is old, old, old. There is also the sheer irony of the corporate world funding a movie where the independent people go against the corporations to win the day. That never is lost on me these days.

I didn’t hate “Speed Racer.” There is a lot to admire about it. It’s not really an actor’s movie, but then again these movies never really are (not these days anyway). I guess I’m sad that this movie, despite the amount of money put into it, didn’t excite me the way that it should. And I am sick of being forgiving to movies like these. The Wachowski Brothers may forever be imprisoned by the success of “The Matrix” movies, but they are better filmmakers and storytellers than this.

** out of ****

Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle Review

Genres: Comedy

Running Time: 1Hr And 27 Mins

Release Date: July 30th, 2004

MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong language, sexual content, drug use, crude humor

Distributors: New Line Cinema

U.S. Box Office: $18,225,165

John Cho, Kal Penn, Steve Braun, Brooke D'Orsey, Neil Patrick Harris

Two likeable underdogs, Harold and Kumar, set out on a Friday night quest to satisfy their craving for White Castle hamburgers and end up on an epic journey of deep thoughts, deeper inhaling and a wild road trip as "un-PC" as it gets.

One word describes Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle and that word my friends is Smart. Why cause you have a 2 stoners just laying around one wants to be something in his life and the other just doesn't give a shit. Harold (John Cho) gets back from work knowing he has a ass load of work he has to get done. Now Kumar just came back from one stupid ass interview with Fred Willard (don't know his name in the movie) and his just kicking back with Harold until they fell the munchies coming in. So there deciding what to get when they see a ad on tv about White Castle's and then thinking they haven't had White Castle in the longest time they decide to go and there is where the movie just kicks off.

John Cho as Harold and Kal Penn as Kumar in New Line's Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

A Special Moment In The Movie

Now i said smart cause no one in there right mind would think of this. But thank good the director (Danny Leiner) was on his wrong mind when he said lets make a stoner movie where the characters ride a cheetah to White Castle. Which is one of the funniest things i have ever seen in a movie. The movie was just the right time so i can watch and then go and see something else. It doesn't really have much of a budget and you can tell from the cheetah part really.

Kal Penn as Kumar in New Line's Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

What Would Neil Patrick Harris Do?

Now the acting was really funny and stupid and you can tell the guys were just having the time of there life when they made this. There was so many things in this movie that were trippy as Fuck and funny as Hell. I highly recommend you see Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle and then when you are done go watch the 2nd one in the theaters before its gone and you have to watch on the boring as DVD.

Overall I Give it 4.5 Druged Up Cheetah's Out Of 5

"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian"

When the first film The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe came out in 2005, I gave the film an A. I was so looking forward to the sequel that I went and saw it right away. So far in my book, it's still a better fantasy series than The Lord of the Rings.


CON: Prince Caspian starts off a year later in England where the four siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are summoned back to Narnia by Susan's Horn that Caspian uses to seek help against his evil uncle who wants Caspian dead for his own reasons. With the help of hidden Narnians, new friends, and of course the lovable lion Aslan, the siblings are the only hope in restoring Narnia from extinction.

While not as great as the first, this film film still has its moments. Great war and fighting sequences, beautiful CGI, and colorful characters make this film great to watch. The only downsides to the film is some scenes where a little too dark and the movie ran a little too long. Overall, I still recommend this film. B+