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Eight Below

Most people rushed to go see this movie because of the lovable dogs and their very appealing appearances, but I personally went to see the actual survival story. The story wasn't anything out of the ordinary, it was just average and didn't make you feel obligated to feel sorry for this bunch of sled dogs. The story, as most of you might already know, involves a team of Antarctic snow dogs who are abandoned in the middle of an icy hillock. Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker) is the trainer of these endearing pups and is evacuated because of a gargantuan snow storm that is going to hit Antarctica, or as the characters in the movie like to call it, "the bottom of the world." Jerry soon discovers that he cannot return for his sled dogs until late August because it is too dangerous to head down into the aftermath of the storm. The dogs must then try and survive for months on their own in the cold, harsh weather until their trainer can finally reach them and take them back home. The entire movie is inspired by a true story, so I have no problem with it. The only problem I did have with the story is the very unamusing love that Jerry has for his co-worker, Katie (Moon Bloodgood), but tries to hide so he can focus on training his dogs and have more time to spend with them. That entire part of the movie proved to be astonishingly distracting and gave no additional entertainment to the audiences watching. I will have to admit that I am still flabbergasted as to how the makers of this film were able to get this amazing footage, not only of the snowy environment, but of the dogs by their lonesome. This movie deserves a lot of credit for its special cinematography and backgrounds, but otherwise, it tries to hard to succeed in things that it never even could, not to mention the horrible acting. If you have seen commercials for this film or have seen its theatrical trailer, you've seen the entire movie. My Grade: C+

When a Stranger Calls

This remake of the 1979 version, which gave its starring role to Carol Kane as the paranoid babysitter, now features a fresh, new actress who plays a more modernized version of the character, Camilla Belle. I thought that this new actress played her role very well, not only as the eventually crazed babysitter, but also as a caring and loving one who is willing to risk her life for the children she is watching over. Although, overall, the movie was just about a young girl wandering aimlessly throughout a humongous house which is tucked away in a secluded area of wilderness by a rather large pond. The title of the movie is an obvious dead giveaway on what it's about once you know it is a thriller film, so I won't waste my time telling you what leads up to its climax. Now, most people may have went to go see this movie with an already biased opinion about it being just another stupid horror movie about a teenage girl being harassed by a much older man; but this movie isn't really concerning that unoriginal material. I mean, of course, all of the movie isn't completely original because it is a remake, but I thought it was definitely much better than most other horror flicks that you see in this day and age. I think that I liked this movie more than I expected I would because it was really modernized and didn't try to fully copy the original. The thing that I found most specifically modernized was the structure of the house the young girl babysat in and the style in which it was decorated. There is one specific area of the house which I completely loved, it was this little room, almost like a greenhouse, that was inhabited by a small pond and trees and stones in which fish and birds lived. That part of the house was actually amazing. Other than the sets, the movie didn't really have much else to work with so they could grab the audience with interest and intrigue. The ending of the movie will especially make you upset because it doesn't really reveal anything about who the killer is, but more about different characters in the film. A definite more elaborate version of the original classic with a little less absorption for audiences. My Grade: C

Final Destination 3

This movie was absolutely no comparison at all to the other two which famously used Death as their villain and disguised it any many different forms. I think that most people, including myself, went to see this movie because they loved the first two and they wanted to see if the death scenes were as elaborate as the first movie because it is the same director (James Wong). The death scenes, although original, were weak and failed to meet the standards of my personal taste. The plot of the movie is exactly the same as the others, you know, a group of people cheat death and it tries to get even with them and kills them one by one in the order that they would have died. The only thing that is different in this movie is that the group of people are high school seniors and they cheat death by getting off of a roller coaster that is going to crash. I was very surprised that Wong did not succeed in making this last installment of the trilogy as good as the first, which he so passionately directed. One of the things I found most disturbing about the movie was that it seemed to be among the many other unoriginal horror flicks that thinks they are safe with a couple of gory scenes and graphic nudity. I absolutely despise movies like that. Throughout the movie, I could not believe that these high school students could figure out how their roller coaster fiasco was related to the Flight 180 crash that occurred some years ago (or in the first movie). Overall, "Final Destination 3" is just another idiotic horror film that gives you a judgmental look at teenagers and how they socialize with each other, although most of it is, in reality, true. The death scenes were extremely weak, although sometimes original, and were nothing compared to the ones in the other two movies. My Grade: C

The Pink Panther

A definite horrendous mess of a movie that deserves credit only for ruining the reputations of every actor in this film and nothing else. Of course, I was expecting this movie to bomb immensely, as I'm sure most everyone else did, too. My prediction was unfortunately correct, but it also went to a greater degree of being an absolutely horrific movie. The story is, of course, about the robbery of the Pink Panther diamond and the murder of the man who was wearing it, Bizu (William Abadie). A rather pompous Chief of police in Paris, France, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline), wants all of the glory for himself in solving the murder and catching the killer. He would rather make it seem to the public that he is off the case, so his glory can be even greater, so he must hire a moronic Inspector. He finds Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) to work on the case for he has the aptitude of an ostrich and is always unaware of the constant clumsy things he does. The plot then thickens as Clouseau finds out more than he would like to know about a certain crush of his, hip-hop artist Xania (Beyonce Knowles). What I found most increasingly unpleasant about the entire movie was that it was repetitive in dialogue, in the comedy aspect of the movie. Martin does a bit over and over again throughout the movie where he pretends to talk to another person in the room about the lovely weather while he really is trying to check and secure the perimeter. Every time he attempts to be funny with this bit, without fail he predictably whacks his arm against a curtain or a lamp which then shatters into pieces. On the whole, this was an idiotically predictable movie that attempted to be hilarious, but only accomplished the disrespect of every actor in it (especially Jean Reno who does a freakish dance in a skin-tight suit). By far, the absolute worst movie of the year. My Grade: D-

Big Momma's House 2

Hattie Mae Pierce, or Big Momma, is at it again with her rough exterior and her tender love for children on the inside in the southern part of California. I must admit, I didn't have high hopes for this movie at all; I didn't even have low hopes for it. But, it turned out to be surprisingly good, with a lot of flaws, of course. The story, although it makes sense, there is no way possible this lively character portrayed by a man in a fat suit could once again return to cinema. The plot is about Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) who is so desperate to get back on the police force and go under cover again like he did in Georgia some six years back. He is now married to, and having a child with, Sherri Turner (Nia Long), who is the only other returning actor from the first film besides Lawrence. Malcolm listens in on a conference call and discovers that the police department needs someone to go under cover as a nanny. Malcolm looks over at his desk and "coincidentally" finds a picture of Big Momma. He then looks at the camera as if he is saying in his mind, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" As you can see, not a very believable plot. But what else could the makers of this movie think of? Everything was just way too easy to fall into Malcolm's lap within the first ten minutes of the movie. From this point on in the movie, there is nothing but one joke after another as Martin Lawrence serves up his usual shtick that never seems to get tiresome. It was an outrageously funny movie, but everything was just too beyond belief in order to be a good story with excellent comedy. This one wasn't as good as the first one, but I still recommend that you see it for Lawrence's comedic genius. My Grade: C+

Nanny McPhee

Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) is the hideously frightening, yet adorable old nanny who everybody loves, including children and adults. The story takes place in a very colorful part of England where every bit of scenery is set up just perfectly in order to have all of the colors of the rainbow, including a few new ones. A desperate father (Colin Firth) is in need of a very strict nanny, but his kin have drove every single nanny out of town, even the harshest of them all. After going through seventeen different nannies, the father comes across an ad in the newspaper that simply keeps calling out to him, "The person you need is Nanny McPhee." The rest of the story is just that old "single father seeking new mother for children" routine that doesn't really matter in this case. The ultimate is the fairy tale ending of the movie that fills everyones' hearts with the most tender thoughts. The thing I loved most about this movie was the vibrant colors of the background sets that were bursting with great flavor along with the special effects images toward the end that included snowflakes forming into a gorgeous wedding gown; that definitely improved the entire outlook of the movie for me. The rest of the movie was just your average fairy tale that has the happy ending that every little child loves to see. I don't really have much else to say about this movie because the only things I enjoyed about it were the intriguing colors. Everything else was just mediocre; but if you're looking for a movie that will keep you interested because of its amazing multi-colored sets, I highly recommend this movie. If not, then you might as well just avoid seeing it altogether. My Grade: B-

Underworld: Evolution

Kate Beckinsale returns once again with her always squeaky clean and shiny leather outfits. I absolutely hated the first one and would never wish to see it ever again. This one was much better, but still wasn't good enough for my taste. The action is downright amazing and is non-stop throughout the entire movie. One scene in particular that deserves a lot of credit for its imaginative form is when a vampire/lycan hybrid is pushed into spinning and whirring helicopter rotor blades. The story is about as confusing as the first, but, at least, makes a bit of sense, whereas the first one had me totally lost. I think what is most distracting about these two films is the amount of characters that you must keep track of and follow every step they make to try and understand how their actions affect the other characters. This movie included many of the previous characters and added what seemed like new ones to the mix. This movie expects you to walk in to the theatre and already know what happened in the preceding one with only a few minor reminders and flashbacks. All I got from the story was that there were two twin brothers who were the sons of this ancient and powerful man and they both wanted to take over the world together, one more so than the other. If the story had made more sense and had less characters to follow along with, I think I would have been way more impressed with this movie. The action is pretty spectacular and is probably the most creative action you'll come across for a long time. I'd still recommend this movie to somebody even if they didn't see the first one because of the marvelous action, but don't expect too much from the story. A step up from the first one, but not that big of a step. My Grade: C-

Brokeback Mountain

I think this movie got a lot of good reviews because all of its cast and crew really took a chance to jump out into the open and do something controversial. I, on the other hand, thought it wasn't what every critic has ranted and raved about. It was good, but it wasn't a spectacular tear-jerker. I think that by now most everyone knows the premise of this movie because it has sparked many feuds among political icons and has been an arguable issue in plenty domestic environments. It is an extremely low-key movie that deals with the hardships that some people must face to hide who they really are or what they think they will become. In fact, I think it was a tad bit too quiet of a movie for my taste. The love story represents a true compassion that two people have for one another, but are very much afraid of what others might think of them. Now, although it is a toned-down type of movie, I must give credit not only to the director of the film (Ang Lee), but also to every single person who was involved in creating such a movie that they knew would definitely not sit right with some people. I thought the performances were very well done by the actors who took a chance at the role of a lifetime. Just some things in the movie didn't really make any sense. There were a lot of situations in the movie that left themselves rather undescribed and missing their true essences. Randy Quaid's character had absolutely no point to the movie whatsoever, except that it showed how proper males would like things to be in the 1960s. Another person whose role was not needed was Anna Farris who played a random character that had no bearing at all to the movie. The whole movie, although meaning to send a message about bias to the world, did not fulfill what most people would probably wish for. My Grade: B-

Match Point

After seeing this pointless, yet meaningful, movie, I can most definitely say that famed director Woody Allen should stick to his roots and keep filming his original comedies with a powerful message. "Match Point" gave me the absolutely wrong message. What I got from it was that it's completely fine to cheat on your spouse, and you will most likely get away with it, if you are sly and clever. The story is about Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) who is a tennis professional at a nearby lodge in London. One of the people that he gives private lessons to is a rich boy, Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) who has a sister (Emily Mortimer) that is interested in the tennis player. The two of them eventually hook up and the tennis pro meets the true love of his life, Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson), Hewett's American fiance who is constantly shunned by her mother-in-law, Eleanor Hewett (Penelope Wilton). The rest of the story is a complete and utter unoriginal bore, so I'll just tell you the absolute main plot: There ends up being a total confusing love connection between the four young people and convinces most every person that men are scum (even though not all men are). This movie, although it gives a strong message, also gives the wrong one. Plus, a lot of the movie was altogether unbelievable, you know the usual, "accidentally" running into each other at an art exhibit after a year and a half of breaking up. Although, the whole movie wasn't exactly a complete waste of time. During the climax of the movie, I guarantee that your heart will jump straight through your throat! I think that the end of the movie is definitely worth it to see, but, otherwise, it's an inconsequential film that will waste the time of anybody who walks into the theatre to see it. Except for the ending, the movie doesn't make any sense and is so wild that it is unbelievable. My Grade: C+

Hoodwinked

This is one of those movies that you really want to like because it has a brilliant story, but it just didn't quite give you enough to be satisfied with your viewing of the movie. The plot of the movie was particularly clever, but I couldn't quite grasp what exactly the message of it was. The movie is about the classic, original fairy tale about the little sweet girl who goes off in the forest to give her grandmother treats to make her feel better, "Little Red Riding Hood." But, this movie puts a whole new image into your mind about who the characters really are and gives it a twisted touch of madness. The movie starts at the end and works its way backwards, and then, once again, ventures back to the end to conclude it. Someone has stolen the secret treat recipes in the forest and only one person could have done it, but who exactly could it be. Could it be the little girl (Anne Hathaway) who so nonchalantly travels a journey into the forest to deliver her grandmother her secret recipe book before the recipe bandit steals it. Or could it be the crazed old grandmother (Glenn Close) who likes to perform extreme sports in her spare time but keeps that secret tucked away, hidden, from her family. Or could it be the lonely wolf (Patrick Warburton) who is secretly a reporter for the local forest newspaper and wants to get the dirt on every case in town. Or is it the lovable lumberjack (Jim Belushi) with a funny accent who truly aspires to be an actor but is, instead, a schnitzel salesman. I won't tell you who truly is the bandit, but it is rather a surprise when you find out who is. Anyway, as you can see, the whole plot of the movie is rather clever, but it just didn't have enough entertaining sequences to keep you intrigued. The whole movie was filmed to basically create a spoof on the classic childrens' story, "Little Red Riding Hood," which it was successful in doing, but it just wasn't enough. My Grade: C+