Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum

Two posts in one day: that's a rare thing to find from me. But I just got back from seeing Ultimatum, and I figured I might as well get it out of the way, especially since I just wrote an article about summer movies.


Surprisingly, I didn't hate it as much as I thought I would. I had really low expectations coming in because of my bad experience with The Bourne Supremacy and its style, and I heard that Paul Greengrass was back again to direct this one. Naturally, I thought Ultimatum would be completely hand held and shaky. I was wrong. Only about 60% of it was hand held. So that actually wound up as a nice surprise for me, and made for a more enjoyable movie watching experience.

The action was awesome in this installment, and (dare I say it) this was one of my favorite sequels of the summer. I didn't want to get into this topic since it's seemingly being talked about all over the internet, but after seeing this movie I think I should at least post my thoughts on the matter: Bourne would destroy Bond in hand to hand combat, no question about it. In this flick, Bourne's fighting with some assassin in a bathroom and it's the most bone-crunching intense fight scene I've seen since The Protector. Don't get me wrong, I love Bond and I really like where they're going with the tougher Daniel Craig stepping in to renovate the franchise, but Bourne would definitely take him to the house.

(Spoiler Alert in Next Paragraph.)

The story was pretty good, but tell me what OTHER film you've seen all that uses all these elements: A lone soldier-like figure who doesn't like authority, being used as a weapon, brain washing, amnesia, the return to the place it started in a search for the truth behind it all, only to discover that he volunteered for the procedure himself, and Brian Cox is involved. If you said X-Men 2, you're absolutely right. It seemed to me that the plot was ripped directly from the origins of Wolverine, but I haven't taken the time to research whether Robert Ludlam's (the author whose works are the basis for the Bourne movies) books came out before or after that part of Wolverine's history was revealed in the comics. I don't have the resources (and more importantly, the patience) for that kind of research. So I'm merely pointing out the plot similarities.

As my dad pointed out, the editors did a good job keeping the shots really tight and the pacing of the film was fantastic. If I was going to sit through those dizzying hand held shots, I was happy each one didn't last too long on screen. Yes, I understand that's the look and feel the filmmakers are trying to achieve, and I appreciate what they're trying to do (make us feel as if we, the audience, are in Bourne's shoes) but I'm just not a fan of that particular aesthetic on screen. And of course, it leaves the ending open with the possibility for more sequels. (Sigh.) Why can't series just end anymore? If you're like me and are hesitant about seeing this, I'd say give it a shot and take a chance. If you can get past the shaky camera, then you'll be fine and you'll definitely be entertained for two hours. Until next time...

Summer 2007

I've been to the movies a lot this summer, and the amount of posting I've done has been pathetic. So I'm going to go through each movie I've seen in the past few months and give you my brief thoughts for each one. Here we go...

Spider-Man 3: Way too much going on in this sequel. Too many villains, not enough action, too much emo. Bryce Dallas Howard was a nice addition to the cast, but only if she replaced Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane would I truly have been happy with this movie. Check out my full review of it here. Sam Raimi is in talks to produce (and possibly direct) the fourth film, whenever that goes into production, but none of the other cast members have signed on yet.

Pirates of the Carribbean: At World's End: I hated it. It was insanely long and, aside from some cool special effects that we've already seen in Dead Man's Chest, not worth the pay off. The ending was incredibly unsatisfying, and I shudder to think that they're talking about making spin-offs and even more sequels to this franchise that should have quit while they were ahead after Curse of the Black Pearl (which I loved, by the way).

Knocked Up: Really funny. I got some free tickets to see this one from my hookups with the CW, and I almost wish I would have paid for it to support the guys who made this. Although, with Superbad, The Pineapple Express, Drillbit Taylor, and more heading to theaters soon, Judd Apatow and his "Jew-Tang Clan" (a phrase coined by Seth Rogen - the star of Knocked Up - referring to the group of actors Apatow uses in his films) will be more than compensated for their comedic efforts.

Mr. Brooks: Kevin Costner and William Hurt did a good job with their dark psychological battling, but the thing everyone was talking about was how phenomenal Dane Cook was in his first dramatic role. Honestly, I thought that he could have been interchanged with any one of 40 different male actors his age in Hollywood and the film would have had exactly the same impact. I didn't really think he was that great. The whole concept of this movie is WAY better executed (on every level, from acting to cinematography to story) in the Showtime TV series Dexter. I'd highly recommend it, although it IS about a serial killer, so be warned: language and blood can be found in high quantities.

Ocean's Thirteen: These guys aren't even trying anymore. It's the same cool, breezy, jazz music-filled heist caper as the first two films, but with Pacino as the main bad guy. If you like the other two, you'll like this one. They seem like they have fun making these movies, and I'm a fan of them, so I'm fine with them pumping out one every couple of years as long as they keep bringing on cool "guest stars" like Pacino and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Perhaps Robert DeNiro will make an appearance by the time Ocean's 15 rolls around.

1408: This was one of my favorite movies of the summer. John Cusack was fantastic, the story was good, and it has Samuel L. Jackson in it. What else could you ask for? Oh yeah, and it was intense as hell. I loved it. I haven't gripped my seat like that in the theater in years. Highly recommend it.

Live Free or Die Hard: Awesome stuff. Bruce Willis does it again, and the action was superb. I have to admit, I doubted the idea when I first heard they were going to make a Die Hard sequel this late in the game, but it proved me wrong on every level. I just hope that John Rambo can have the same success when that hits theaters. The director, Len Wiseman, has just been tapped to make a "Gears of War" film based on the XBox video game and also a remake of John Carpenter's Escape From New York, so we'll see if either of those do half as well as LFoDH.

Transformers: Another summer favorite. Extremely hyped, but lived up to it thanks to a good performance from Shia LaBeouf, the action debut of Megan Fox, and some stellar computer graphics. Check out my comparison with Live Free or Die Hard here.

License to Wed: Pretty average romantic comedy. I saw this for the same reason that anyone else saw it: I'm a fan of The Office. This was one of John Krasinski's first movies, so I figured I'd see what he was like in a role that wasn't "Jim." Little did I know, he was practically the same character. And you know what? I wasn't too mad about it. Mandy Moore, Robin Williams, and some cast members from The Office rounded out the rest of the cast for this predictably formulaic film. But Mandy Moore is pretty awesome in my book, so we'll leave it at that.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry: Abysmal. I can't express to you how little I thought of this film. I didn't want to see it in the first place, but I pulled "wingman" duty for a friend, and it was one of the worst mistakes of my life. Did you ever see the Pink Panther remake with Steve Martin? I literally did not crack a smile in that whole movie, and this one was almost as bad. I laughed maybe three times. Pitiful. I don't even want to talk about it any more. I'm getting pissed off just typing about it.

The Simpsons Movie: I've only seen about two or three episodes of The Simpsons in my life, so I wasn't expecting much when I inexplicably saw the midnight showing of this movie in the theater. It surprised me, though - it was pretty funny. Average, but funny. I laughed a lot more than I did in Chuck and Larry, I'll tell you that much. Keep in mind that I wasn't necessarily privy to the inside jokes specifically for those who have watched the show for years, so I didn't really get the full effect. But I thought it did a good job of entertaining me even though I wasn't a die hard fan. (Did you know that show has been around since 1989 and has aired 400 episodes?? Ridiculous.)

Summer's not quite over yet, but it's hard to draw the line where "summer" really ends (back to school, the real end of the season, blah blah blah). So that's all I've got for now. But I plan on seeing all of the movies listed in the "Trailers" section of this page, so hopefully I'll be able to write a little something about each one of them when the time comes. Stay tuned, and I hope you had a great summer. Until next time...