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FEATURE COLUMN

Movie Talk with Greg Malmborg

An Entertainment Column

 


 

Welcome to Movie Talk, my new bi-weekly column. I want to thank all of you again who took the time to e-mail me your thoughts, comments, and ideas. It was very insightful. I also want to encourage more of you to e-mail me any comments on the topics I discuss or any ideas for the column. And as I said before, I will post some reader comments when I feel it is appropriate and I will run contests from time to time (no prizes, just recognition).

 

Incoming Mail

 

I received a lot of mail in regards to the way I approached my last edition of the column. Everyone seemed to like the quick reviews of the in-theater and currently in rental stores movies.

 

“Good column, I really enjoyed your reviews. They were brief, they didn’t give away any of the plot like most reviews, and they were right on.” – Tim

 

“Keep up with the reviews.” – T.J. in San Diego

 

“More reviews, I love that it only takes me a second to breeze through them instead of wasting 5 minutes on one.” – Kim in South Carolina

 

But I also received a lot of mail in regards to my rating system. It seems like everyone liked the way the last edition went and that I gave my rating after each movie, but that they needed some clarification. Like if I said I liked a movie, and then gave it only 2 ½ stars (referred to as 2.5 throughout this edition, and such). So here is a quick reference on how I rate movies:

 

Rating System

 

5 stars – This is a masterpiece, pure and simple. There isn’t one negative thing I could say about it. Not many films even come close (The Godfather, Gladiator, Platoon are a few).

 

4 stars – This would be a great film that just doesn’t quite reach the heights of a masterpiece, but has universal appeal. Meaning there are some negative aspects to it, but the positives completely outweigh those negatives (like Gangs of New York or The Matrix)

 

3 stars – This is an above average film where the positive aspects do outweigh the negatives, but the level of enjoyment and fulfillment depends on how much the individual viewer enjoys that particular genre, actor/actress, or director. Blade 2 would fall into this category for me because I like vampire films as well as action movies, but if you don’t like either of those two genres you would probably hate Blade 2.

 

2 stars – Basically the same logic that goes with three stars, except 2 star films have far more negatives than positives. But you can still quite enjoy a 2 star film if you really love that particular genre, actor/actress, director, etc. Maybe it’s unfair to say because it hasn’t even come out yet, but I’m sure Freddy vs. Jason would be a great example. Probably won’t be any better than a 2 star film but, if you really love those Friday the 13th films or the Nightmare on Elm Street series, you may get some cheap enjoyment out of it.

 

1 star – This rating goes to a film full of problems. Not really any reason to waste your time with it. Maybe rent it or catch on TV if you are really interested. A good example is The Truth About Charlie.

 

No stars – Self-explanatory. Stay away from these films at all cost. There are too many of these to mention.

 

So that’s my rating system. Let me know if you need any more clarification. I’m going to continue where I left off with the last edition, more reviews.

 

Film Quickies at the Movie Theater

 

28 Days Later

 

This is an exciting, thought-provoking film on the madness in all of us. But don’t believe the hype on it being some kind of horrifying zombie film. 28 Days Later is an apocalyptic, survivor film with a zombie spin to it. It has that same manic energy that Trainspotting had, and is much more like that film than any zombie film you’ve seen. It’s about the natural violence infested in us, and what happens when our societal niceties are stripped away. The acting, the dialogue, the camerawork, and the story are all terrific. If you’re a Danny Boyle fan, you’ll love it. Just don’t go into it expecting a normal, zombies-on-the-loose, horror movie.  

 

My rating – 3.5 stars out of 5

 

Hulk

 

You always hear those stories on how the big studios meddle so badly with the director on those big budget, tent-pole movies. Such as, how they force the director to edit out tons of footage to make the film move faster? Something like, less art, more action. Usually this hurts those films and you wish they would have left in more of the character development and secondary storylines.

 

Well, Ang Lee must have had clear sailing with the studio. I’ve never seen a film so badly in need of some editing since The Postman. It is at least 40 minutes too long. There are numerous scenes that should have been cut out. Unnecessary character development, far too many scenes foreshadowing events to come, too much explanation in the beginning and almost none at the end, and too many characters staring longingly into the thin air (including Hulk, “awe, Hulk is sensitive, how cute!”).

 

And it really is too bad, because without the ridiculous length and the dragging on of so many scenes, Hulk would have been a great film. The acting is superb, the action scenes are truly spectacular, and the story was perfectly dark and brooding. All that talk on how the Hulk was going to look too cartoony was thankfully wrong. The Hulk and all the action scenes involving him are just breathtaking. Hulk could have been a great one at about 100 minutes (not 138 minutes).

 

My rating – 2.5 stars out of 5    

 

The Italian Job

 

Fun, breezy, exciting heist film. There really isn’t much to this plot. It’s your typical heist film; double-crossed thieves out for payback. But the dialogue snaps, the action amazes, and the energy never lets up. The performances are nothing great. Mark Walberg is his typical one-note self, as is Charlize Theron, and Ed Norton is kind of slumming it in this one. The supporting cast is adequate, with Seth Green as the standout. But together, the cast seems to have a certain chemistry or energy that adds to the action and humor. If you like creative heist films, enjoy action movies, and go to this with low expectations; you will have a great time. You’ll leave with a smile on your face.

 

My rating – 2.5 stars out of 5

 

Hollywood Homicide

 

Talk about a film being just completely all over the place. Horribly dull, action packed, hilarious, uncomfortably unfunny, blazingly stupid dialogue, smart and witty dialogue, and completely miscast. Yeah, exactly. It seems to fall right in line with Harrison Ford’s performance. At times he is just right on. He will nail the jokes and provide the right energy or lack thereof, depending on the scene. This is when Hollywood Homicide is a blast; it’s a great buddy cop movie. But then Harrison Ford is just so damn awful in other scenes you feel terrible for him; like watching his career ending right in front of you. It’s so up and down like this, you feel tired after sitting through it.

 

My rating – 2 stars out of 5

 

2 Fast 2 Furious

 

It’s goofy but genuinely exciting and purely fun. I enjoyed this sequel much more than I thought I would. It was a nice surprise to come out of the theater with a smile on my face, because I went into it thinking the worst. The best parts of it are obviously the action scenes, which are exciting and full of energy. But the most surprising part was the strong repertoire and comic energy from Paul Walker and Tyrese. Now don’t get me wrong here, this is no masterpiece. It is just a very enjoyable film for what it is: popcorn-munching, action nonsense. The supporting cast is horrible, the dialogue between everyone except Tyrese and Walker is atrocious, and the story is just dumb. And if you didn’t enjoy the first one, do not bother with this sequel. But if you know what you’re about to watch and you enjoyed the first movie, you will have a great time with this one.

 

My rating – 2.5 stars out of 5

 

Finding Nemo

 

I think this movie is absolutely impossible not to like. I would love to hear from anyone out there who didn’t completely enjoy every second of this extremely clever, continuously funny, and heartwarming animated film. The animation is not just flawless, it is utterly spectacular. The characters just jump off the screen. It seems like each and every scene was so perfectly written, animated, and cast. They should just give it the Best Animated Film Oscar right now because nothing will even come close. This film is terrific the whole way through.

 

My rating – 4 stars out of 5

 

Wrong Turn

 

This one is a deeply disturbing, creepy little slasher film. Let me say first off, if you are not a fan of slasher films, do not (I repeat DO NOT) see this. But if you enjoy the genre, you’ll enjoy it. The acting is adequate, the dialogue is average, and the story is a bit hazy. Nevertheless, Wrong Turn is a very creepy and scary horror film; mostly due to the super human, deformed creatures form the woods that have a nasty taste for human flesh. There are some truly frightening scenes, like when the main characters are trapped inside the creatures’ house while they sleep. And there are some seriously disturbing scenes as well. Like I said, if you like the slasher genre, check it out, you’ll enjoy it. Otherwise, please don’t.

 

My rating – 2.5 stars out of 5

 

Film Quickies at the Video Store

 

Below – A wasted opportunity. This could have been a taut, tense horror film but, unfortunately, Below misses so many opportunities to be truly scary it drags down the smart story. The near-disaster sequences on board the submarine are very intense and exciting, and the acting is all around superb (especially Bruce Greenwood). The last twenty minutes of the film are where the film really starts to fall apart.

 

My rating – 2 stars out of 5

 

They – This is one of the worst horror movies I ever sat through. I almost turned it off five or six times but decided to stick it out for my own morbid curiosity. It has an incomprehensible story, horrid acting (I mean really horrid), ridiculous looking CGI creatures that aren’t the least bit scary, and no nudity (I mean give me something!).  It’s as if a kid in middle school made this. Oh wait—now I’m knocking on middle schoolers.

 

My rating – 0 stars out of 5

 

Invincible – OK, I’ll admit it. I rented this horrible film based on the critical acclaim on the DVD cover. Don’t ever do that. This was one of the worst acted films I’ve seen in a long time (save for Tim Roth’s very brief performance). The story was actually interesting and it had the potential to be a decent film. But the acting had me laughing hysterically at supposedly serious parts. What a shame to waste such a talented actor like Tim Roth on this garbage.

 

My rating – 1 star out of 5

 

Narc – Intense, gritty, disturbingly realistic undercover cop thriller. It stars two of the most underrated actors around: Jason Patric and Ray Liotta. And they both give ferociously great performances. Liotta is amazing; he is like a lit firecracker ready to explode at any second. And Patric is mesmerizing; you can’t take your eyes of this great performance. They both should have been nominated for Oscars. They are that good. The story itself is a little familiar and the supporting cast is only adequate, but the two leads make this film rise far above average.

 

My rating – 3.5 stars out of 5

 

Pipe Dream – A very funny and original independent film. The first hour or so of Pipe Dream is so clever, so well acted, and so funny that the final 30 minutes feel like a let down. The story is so cleverly worked out that the implausible elements of it seem possible. A plumber faking his way through directing a movie is actually believable. The screenplay gets all the details right and the actors are all great. If it weren’t for the final act let down, this would be high on my list of recommendations.

 

My rating – 2.5 stars out of 5

 

 

Just Married – It’s a consistently unfunny sitcom-like farce based solely around a bad honeymoon. And yet the honeymoon isn’t even all that bad. The screenplay just didn’t take it as far as it could. Also, the dialogue was just so atrociously bad—I was feeling for the actors. Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy have a little chemistry, and if the screenplay was good I think they could have pulled off the comedic parts well. There are maybe two scenes were you see that potential. They just never get that chance with this horrid film.

 

My rating – 2 stars out of 5

 

Deliver Us From Eva – Oh please, oh please deliver me from this horrible piece of trash. Every single aspect (acting, directing, screenplay, etc.) of this film is so bad I don’t even want to get into it. Just do not waste your time with crap like this, period.

 

My rating – 0 stars out of 5

 

I’ll leave off every column with a movie recommendation (either currently in theaters or on the video shelf).

 

My recommendation for today: 

 

The Good Thief – Currently sitting in that black hole between theater release and video, this is one of the best films of 2003. Rent it as soon as it comes out. Of all the hundreds of movies out there about thieves and heists, this is definitely in the top ten. Nick Nolte is pitch perfect as the aging, drug addled, reluctant thief who is pulled back into it for one more job. And the supporting cast is spot on perfect. But as good as the acting is, it’s the story itself and the witty, intelligent dialogue that truly makes The Good Thief a great film. You leave this movie on a high. It should be considered at awards time next year.

 

Talk to you again soon,

 

Greg Malmborg

gregm99@hotmail.com

 


 

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MovieTalk

Edition #6

 

Article Posted: July 10, 2003

 

Past Editions:

May 17, 2003

Apr 23, 2003

Mar 21, 2003

Mar 11, 2003

Feb 25, 2003

 

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