Revenge of the Sith
Kevin Smith was right--this is the Star Wars prequel we've been waiting for. OK, so some of the dialogue--especially the parts involving Padme and Anakin's relationship--is pretty wooden. But, come on now, you aren't looking for a great love story in this movie. You're here to see Anakin become Darth Vader, and you won't be disappointed. Hayden Christenson got a lot of criticism for being too whiney in Attack of the Clones, but his portrayal of Anakin's fall is excellent. Of course, the real stars of this one are Ian McDiarmid and Ewan McGregor. McDiarmid pushes the villain angle to its limits in every direction and never goes over the top. And as for McGregor, well, I don't mind telling you that the last scene between Obi-Wan and Anakin brought tears to my eyes. I don't know if I can honestly say that this is my favorite Star Wars movie--the original trilogy was just such a big part of my childhood--but I can say that Revenge of the Sith is, without doubt, the most powerful, intense, and moving film of the entire series.
Viewed: 5/20/2005 | Released: 5/18/2005 | Score: A
Kingdom of Heaven
I didn't think there'd ever be an Orlando Bloom performance that didn't make me cringe every time he opened his mouth, but I guess I was wrong. While he was by no means spectacular in this movie, it was definitely a huge step up for him in terms of acting. As for the film itself, Kingdom of Heaven is long on setting, if a little short on plot. The audience is treated to a visually beautiful movie full of panoramic scenes of city and desert. Not much really happens, though--in fact, Juliette fell asleep. Even if there wasn't much to the story, though, I still liked it. Ultimately, Kingdom of Heaven can be viewed in two ways. On the one hand, it's about a transition from one world to another--out with the old and in with the new--and I've always found those points in history to be intensely intriguing. Jeremy Irons, in particular, does a great job of portraying a man caught up in that change. On the other hand, it's a story of personal redemption--Balion goes to the Holy Land to atone for his sins and find peace from the pain of his life--and while a better actor than Bloom could have done more with this part of the story, it still worked out well enough for me.
Viewed: 5/12/2005 | Released: 5/5/2005 | Score: B
A Lot Like Love
I had been mildly interested in seeing this one, but Juliette really wanted to, so of course we saw it. It was pretty good. Juliette compared it to When Harry Met Sally, and in some ways it is similar. Both movies follow the development of a relationship between a man and a woman over a number of years, giving us scenes that are separated in time by months or years. The main difference is that Harry and Sally are platonic friends for much of their film, while Emily and Oliver--the main characters of A Lot Like Love--are hardly more than acquaintances. I think if you like the one, though, you'll like the other. Amanda Peet and Ashton Kutcher had very good chemistry, which was really what made the movie so cute. Kutcher, especially, was notable for pretty much completely leaving behind the type of antics he became known for in That 70's Show and Dude, Where's My Car? (both of which, incidentally, I think are quite funny) for a more subtle, realistic, touching performance. The supporting cast was also pretty good, and it was fun to see Kal Penn as Kutcher's business partner.
Viewed: 4/30/2005 | Released: 4/21/2005 | Score: B
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The film version of Douglas Adams' classic stood up pretty well to the novel, but as I left the theater I realized that the movie didn't really add anything to the Hitchhiker's Guide experience for me. Sometimes a movie adaptation really draws me in--the Harry Potter films, for example. But even though I thought Martin Freeman and Mos Def were very good as Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, and even though I thought the film did a pretty good job of capturing the lighthearted spirit of the book, it didn't do much for me. Part of it may have been that the nature of film doesn't allow for quite as much digression as print does--and Adams' tangents were really the best part of his writing--but it may just be that I don't care as much about the books as I did when I first read them. Fun movie, though, so don't let my reaction stop you from seeing it.
Viewed: 4/29/2005 | Released: 4/28/2005 | Score: B
Kung Fu Hustle
If you like kung fu movies, you'll like Kung Fu Hustle. Stephen Chow, the director and star, understands the genre very well; well enough to make a movie that is conscious of all of the ways that they are ridiculous. Kung Fu Hustle walks a fine line between being a full-on spoof and a solid member of the genre, and succeeds brilliantly. The funny parts made me laugh harder than any movie in years, and yet it was also not without serious moments. Go see it.
Viewed: 4/26/2005 | Released: 4/21/2005 | Score: A