2006 Movie Review Part 1- The Fun Run, Part 1

Okay, in the face of pressure from my family to continue blogging on this here website, with emphasis on movie reviews, it's time for the 2006 Year in Movies review. But since time between class is limited, this is going to come in no less than 3 easy installments. First I'll discuss the fun movies of the year, by which I mean those which had no real shot at Oscar consideration for anything other than visual effects or music. Of that section I will make two posts, one for roughly the first half of the year, and one for the second half. The third section will be for those movies which were more geared towards the awards ceremony crowd (hence there will be fewer).

So here we go.
Note- Each review will include what was good about the movie, what was bad about it, and what was ugly. My rating scale is in cherry Slushees, since I usually get those when I go to the movies.

1) The DaVinci Code

I never read the book, so that immediately shoots down some of my credibility. But I never claimed to have any anyway, so that's that. I thought it was very well done. Tom's hairdo aside, the story was engaging, tense, thrilling, and innovative. Masterful performances accented the intriguing storyline (in a nutshell, is there a conspiracy lasting hundreds of years to hide the supposed marriage of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdelene?). The part I like the most is the neutral yet curious nature of Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) as he uncovers increasingly bizarre clues to the true nature of things like the Knights Templar, the Priory of Scion, Leonardo DaVinci, and those odd little European cars. I also like that there's no claim on the part of the story or author as to the marriage suggestion- as Langdon puts it, "What matters is what you believe." The movie doesn't claim to answer the questions surrounding Jesus' marital status- it does provide intriguing possibilities as to what that information could mean.

Favorite Dramatic Ending Moment- Langdon's little revelatory jaunt at the very end.

The Good: Paul Bettany as the creepy albino killer; Ian McKellen as the eccentric historian; Hans Zimmer's beautiful score (he's the best, what can I say?); all the cool crazy clues and twists.

The Bad: It feels a bit like "National Treasure" on religious steroids; Paul Bettany's butt- great actor, just needs to cover up a bit more.

The Ugly: Tom's haircut. But seriously, if he would have gone for the standard fare, would anyone take him seriously? I'd have been expecting Meg Ryan to show up anytime.

Score- 7.5 Slushees

2) Mission: Impossible 3

It really should be called "part 2" because the second one sucked so bad. A strong addition to the franchise, and Tom has his normal haircut back. It's nice to see that when he's not brainwashing his family and alienating the public he's still a good actor (I recommend "The Last Samurai"). Lots of good action, explosions, gunfights. I liked it a lot, though I still think the first one has the edge on "best episode." The story was better in that one, though the love interest in this one was a lot prettier. One of the best features (aside from the villain) is the romantic involvement- THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE DONE!!!!! Make the guy married! The love plot in the second was lame- leave triangles to geometry and Gray's Anatomy. The love element added a lot to this one. Made me smile.

Favorite Cinematographic Fun-ness- Starting at the end and flashing back.

The Good: Philip Seymour Hoffman- one of the greater actors of our time, he was positively chilling in his ruthlessness- perfect casting job; Ving Rhames, as Luther, back to his good old self, not like in the second one; less look-alike mask removal in this one. That's how it should be.

The Bad: The whole "there's a mole" plot. That was done in the first movie- come up with something else. Why can't they fight terrorists instead of rogue intelligence agents? Oh yeah, because then it would be called "24."

The Ugly: Keri Russell's eyes after her brain explodes.

Score- 7 Slushees

3) X-Men 3

Meh. That was my reaction. Definitely the weakest of the series so far, and I'd like to place some of the blame on Brett Rattner. Oh, don't get me wrong, he did much better than expected. It was just a little blaise. Halle Berry's haircut was the best of all three movies, and I like that Wolverine got to do plenty of skewering. But the whole "people exploding into dust whenever Jean Gray wigs out" was a little disorienting. I won't say who died, but I wasn't happy with the choices. But there's a little redemption in the end. And the odd gang of mischievous

misfit mutants was a little over the top. But it made for a fun fight scene at the end. The biggest problem: story development. Too much showing off of special effects and fighting skills, not enough story. For all the attention Angel got in the previews, he had a really small and random part. Kinda like Cuba G. in Pearl Harbor.

Favorite Mutant Not in the Movie- Gambit

The Good: Patrick Stewart, as always; Colossus was way cool; Wolverine owning; the twists at the end.

The Bad: Brett Rattner; Juggernaut- think immature WWF character. No, more immature than normal; not enough Angel.

The Ugly: That weird mutant who has spikes all over. Let me guess, they named him Sonic.

Score- 6 Slushees

4) Superman Returns

Loved it. A lot. Even more so, since Nicholas Cage didn't end up playing Superman. Have fun with that, Ghost Rider. Picking up where Superman 2 left off, this installment does a great job of bringing it all back together, after a 5 year absence. Brandon Routh is the perfect choice for the Kryptonian hero- he looks enough like Christopher Reeve to make it fit, but different enough to add his own flavor. The emotions depicted, from despair at not having someone like Superman around to bitterness that he wasn't around, to Supe's little identity crisis as he sees a world used to life without him are powerful and well-portrayed. Visually very stunning, and a score to match the excitement of the original. The story is a little weak, but the themes and "morals," if you will, are very masterful- "You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior, Lois. But everyday I hear thousands of people crying out for one."

Favorite Moment that Makes Me Giggle with Glee- A bullet hitting Superman right on his eyeball and crumpling up into a little ball. And Supe's smirk at the villain afterwards.

The Good: Routh's perfect Superman performance; Kevin Spacey's insane and over-the-top Lex Luthor; visually very stunning; Jason (Lois' son) and his hidden talents.

The Bad: Not the biggest fan of Kate Bosworth here, but she's good enough for the role; story is a little weak.

The Ugly: Cannibal dogs.

Score- 8.5 Slushees

More movie madness soon!


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