Bob the Builder – New to the Crew (2007) Runtime 45 mins. 5 out of 5
I gotta hand it to the folks who make these shows. First, it’s stop-motion animation, which is a pain to do (believe me, I’ve done it). Two, you got to tell a decent story in a short amount of time without it coming off as goofy.
Well, guess what? This Bob the Builder installment nailed it and you get a few great stories out of the deal as well.
However, I do have to admit Sumsy was a little strange, her shouting random numbers and all, but other than that, this volume is an absolute blast. I loved it. My two-year-old loved it. My wife loved it.
Bob the Builder – Muck’s Favorite Adventures (2008) Runtime 35 min. 5 out of 5
Well, we all got to start somewhere, right? This was my first Bob the Builder DVD. Well, not mine, but my two-year-old’s. But it still felt like mine because it dominated our television from morning ’til night, my kid constantly asking, “Watch Bob? Watch Bob?” ’til I put it on for him.
High morals, fun jokes, problems only an experienced builder like Bob can fix—What more can anyone ask?
But the biggest joy was watching my kid smile and raise his arms every time the “Bob the Builder” theme song played.
Undead (2003) Written by The Spierig Brothers Directed by The Spierig Brothers Runtime 97 min. 4 out of 5
After having lost everything, Rene (played by Felicity Mason) tries to leave her hometown of Berkeley but is unable to get out when the town is struck with a meteor shower. Instead of leaving giant craters and demolished buildings in their wake, these meteors leave something else: an infection that transforms humans into zombies.
The town now overrun with the undead, Rene barely survives and meets up with Marion (played by Mungo McKay), the town nut who claimed he was abducted by aliens a long time before. Soon joined by others, the group of survivors find temporary solace in Marion’s cabin before the dead come a’knockin’ and force their way in.
Blood and guts ensue as this band of not-so-merry-men try and fight their way through throngs of the undead and leave town.
They almost make it, too, if not for that giant, spike-laden wall bordering the town, keeping everyone inside.
This flick starts off as your run-of-the-mill zombie movie. Nothing wrong with that. Not at all. The blood, the guts, the guns—ah, yes, everything that makes up a good zombie flick. Even Marion’s Matrix-like fighting style works well in the context of the story (though when that style was first introduced, I had a hard time buying it but quickly got used to it).
What separates this zombie flick from all others I’ve seen is the twist it takes when we find out these aren’t your standard zombies, but instead the product of “something beyond,” namely intergalactic stuff. Toss in a few aliens and you got yourself a unique zombie film that pays more homage to the zombie clichés than actually follows them like a rulebook.
This is an independent film and I only point that out because it being indie really added to the gritty feel of the whole thing, enhancing the movie. This didn’t carry that too-smooth-yet-too-cheap look that B-movies have. Even the directors’ love for the genre really shone through in this and the cast did a fantastic job.
I can understand now why this movie got the cult following it did.
If you dig good solid zombie flicks, check this one out.
I Am Legend (2007) Written by Mark Protosevich, Akiva Goldsman Directed by Francis Lawrence Runtime 101 min. 4 out of 5
Based on the book by Richard Matheson, I Am Legend is the story of Robert Neville (Will Smith), sole survivor of a plague that, originally, was supposed to be a miracle cure for cancer three years before. Instead, most of the world died at the hands of the plague. Others mutated into bloodthirsty vampiric creatures; only a small percentage of humankind remained immune to the disease.
All alone in New York, virologist Neville tries to find a cure and “fix” the problem that stole the lives of everyone he knew and everyone he loved, while also trying to survive in a city infested with the infected and ferocious monsters.
Straight from the start you know you’re in for a ride.
An empty city, overgrown and broken down.
A lone guy speeding through the streets in a fancy car, weapon at his side.
Animals prowling the streets, free of their cages.
The lock up.
Yeah, good stuff.
The intense feeling of atmosphere was what drew me into this flick. Immediately isolation sets in right from the first frame as we see Neville trying to maintain a normal life in a dead city (renting movies, talking to mannequins, keeping a routine), his eyes washed with pain yet underscored with determination to keep going. This is a one-man show and I haven’t seen it done so well since Cast Away (one of my favorite movies) years and years ago.
No complaints about Will Smith here and he’s done a good job over his career to make you forget about the loud-mouthed homeboy he played in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Plus, did you see the guy in this film? He’s ripped! Shredded. But, I guess, you’d have to be if you lived a world where vampire-zombie-human things prowled the streets and your life could be in jeopardy at the drop of a hat if you weren’t too careful.
Which brings me to the monsters in question. Overall, well done. Creepy skin, no hair, loud growls, amazing agility and intensely vicious. Yeah, killer. Obviously they were CGI so they did look a tad rubbery and there were a few moments where it felt I was looking at a cartoon. Thankfully, those moments happened so fast and the action was so intense that I quickly forgot my quibble and moved on.
My only thing was the ending. Now, I never read the book so I can’t compare, but it ended too abruptly and really lost its post-apocalyptic feel in the last five minutes or so. Sort of a Disney ending, which didn’t fit in with what was a gloomy story up until that point.
Regardless, if someone asked me what I thought of this film, I’d tell them to go see it.
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009) Written by Jack Perez (as Ace Hannah) Directed by Jack Perez (as Ace Hannah) Runtime 88 min. 3 out of 5
Watched this thing last night.
Okay, let’s see . . .
Cool premise. I mean, really, a big shark versus a massive octopus? That just reeks cool.
The story was more or less solid. Some parts were predictable, especially the “how to get rid of them” part.
The acting . . . well, aside from Deborah Gibson, who I thought was the most believable in terms of how she presented her character (except when she screwed around with Vic Chao, which seemed really out of the blue), needed lots of work. Seemed forced in a lot of ways, but this is a B-movie we’re talking about so I was willing to not nitpick the acting because I just wanted to see shark vs octopus action.
The special FX were okay, a 6 or so on a scale of 1-10. Some stuff looked super fake. Others, namely the underwater sequences, looked real. My only issue with the underwater stuff was that you lost all sense of scale because there was nothing to compare these guys to (as compared to when the shark took a huge bite out of the Golden Gate Bridge). However, you did get your sense of scale when the submarines tried to take the shark on.
The shark vs octopus fight was pretty good. How often do you see a giant octopus wrap its tentacles around a shark’s entire body? I just wish, though, there was the budget to drag it out because the fight was kind of short-lived and was very simple in terms of the “fight moves” from each creature. Likewise, other shots of the creatures throughout the movie were just a glimpse here and there.
On a fun scale, this gets an 7 out of 10, but my official rating is a 5. I think there was better acting in Transmorphers, and, well, guess I am nitpicking a little.
Jurassic Park III (2001) Written by Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor Directed by Joe Johnston Runtime 92 min. 3 out of 5
When Erik Kirby goes missing on Isla Sorna (InGen’s Site B), his parents, Paul and Amanda, hire Dr. Alan Grant under the pretense of a “tour” in order to find him.
The plane crashes and Alan finds himself back in the same situation he’s been trying so hard to forget: being trapped in Jurassic Park.
Sam Neill as Alan Grant is one of my favorite performances ever. There’s such an air of seriousness and intensity that Sam brings to the role every time. He can be funny, sure, but his character presentation commands a respect from his fellow actors that you don’t see that often in film.
William H. Macy, another favorite of mine, plays Paul Kirby, the bumbling yet-trying-to-be-cool dad. Terrific. He was serious, clumsy, just fantastic. Every film Macy’s in has never let me down and this movie delivers a wonderful Macy performance. There’s something about the pacing of his line delivery that gets to me, too. It’s a guy who’s insecure but tries his best to put a confident spin on things no matter what.
The dinosaurs, as always, look real. They’re huge, they’re scary, they’re loud. The only problem with these Jurassic sequels is the dinosaurs aren’t new and terrifying anymore. They were in the first movie, not so much now. However, there are a few dino attacks in Jurassic Park 3 that weren’t in the others, making the viewing of this film worthwhile.
Michael Jeter (The Green Mile), Laura Dern (Jurassic Park), John Diehl (Pearl Harbor) and Téa Leoni (A League of Their Own) also star.
Canister X Movie Review #108: Sailor Moon R (2000) Runtime 60 min. 3 out of 5
When Darien’s/Tuxedo Mask’s lost friend, Fiore, resurfaces, trouble abounds and it’s up to the Sailor Scouts to come to the rescue.
To make matters worse, Fiore kidnaps Darien. He is also responsible for the massive meteor/flower-planet that’s on a collision course for Earth.
Testing the bonds of friendship and reaching deep inside to find their inner strengths, the Sailor Scouts must come together to thwart the threat before it’s too late.
The story’s straight forward, basically a bad guy coming to get his friend back but causes trouble because he’s under the influence of an evil flower so Sailor Moon and the gang need to stop him. But the simplicity works for the film.
This was a fun anime—light, cute, even, um, flowery. It’s loaded with sparkles and glitters and shiny objects, very “happy” compared to most anime this reviewer’s seen.
There’s an air of wonder to this film, most notably when the Sailor Scouts activate their powers and Sailor Moon calls out, “Mooon Crystaaalll Poweeeerrr!”
This is an anime to watch if you’re looking for something with razzle-dazzle, cute humor and a whole lot of girl power.
Black Cat Vol. 2: The Catastrophe (2007) Run time 100 min. 5 out of 5
# 05: The Departing Cat
Black Cat leaves Chronos. Creed approaches him with an interesting opportunity. Sephira shows up to make sure Black Cat’s departure is permanent.
# 06: The Cat Under Fire
Sven and Eve’s hiding place is discovered. Saya goes to meet Black Cat at a carnival only to run into Creed instead. Black Cat’s life changes forever.
# 07: The Wounded Cat
Black Cat is laid up in Sven’s hideout, healing. Eve offers Black Cat a very special gift. Business isn’t finished with Chronos, who has just sent No. 7 to kill Eve.
# 08: The Sweeping Cat
Black Cat, Sven and Eve go after the bounty on Igor Planter, but before they do, they run into an old friend.
This volume packs a wallop in the emotional department, especially in the episode, “The Cat Under Fire.” All time seemed to stop during one of its scenes. This is the DVD where things change in the series, both in character and in flow and becomes even more so in line with Kentaro Yabuki’s manga.
The humor, mostly coming from Sven, is laugh-out-loud funny. Each character also has their moment under the spotlight to give their witty observation of the situation or an outlandish complaint to make you chuckle.
The “manga moments” return in this DVD, moments where the characters go from being drawn standard anime style to very cartoony to emphasize an emotion then back to normal again.
Groundwork for further storytelling was also laid in this volume while a couple other threads were wrapped up.
The Number 23 (2007) Written by Fernley Phillips Directed by Joel Schumacher Runtime 101 min. 3 out of 5
They say it is just a number. They say it doesn’t mean anything, but for Walter Sparrow, the number 23 quickly becomes his whole world and he begins seeing it in everything he sets his eyes on.
At first things appear to be mere coincidence—the numerical value of his name (23), his birthday (2/3), but as time goes on, the number seems to take on a life of its own and leads him down a pathway to darkness and psychosis.
Jim Carrey stars as Walter Sparrow in this Joel Schumacher-directed flick and once again Carrey proves he’s more than just a goofball actor. Carrey plays the serious role well. He blew me away in Man on the Moon. I loved him in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. If anything, I prefer him in his more dramatic roles than playing the funny man.
Virginia Madsen did an excellent job portraying Sparrow’s wife. The unconditional love she had for her husband was in every scene even when things got crazy.
My first reaction as to how it all wrapped up left me wanting more, then, after thinking about it prior to writing this review, the way it all came together in the end worked perfectly.
This is a movie for those who enjoy intrigue, the hidden threads of Reality and how exploring those threads leads a person down the dangerous and dark path of obsession and skewed perception of the world around them.
Numerology, which plays a part in the Reality you and I live in, is dangerous and this movie shows why. Though this was a work of fiction, the dangers of getting into numerology are real. It has the potential to control you. Be careful.
The only reason for the lower rating was because, despite its detailed plot, I still felt I was only getting part of the story and not a deep submergence into Sparrow’s psyche.
Aeon Flux (2005) Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi Directed by Karyn Kusama Runtime 93 min. 4 out of 5
In the early twenty-first century, a deadly virus wiped out 99% of the Earth’s population. Now, four hundred years later, all of humanity lives in a walled-in city named Bregna and are led and monitored by a group of scientists. But not all are happy with this arrangement and a rebel group called Monicans have risen to oppose those in charge.
And Aeon is one of them.
At first glance, the main story of this movie is like many others that have come before it: a small band of rebels going up against an oppressive government. But this movie isn’t that simple and the aforementioned plot is just what gets us from Point A to B. There are other factors that play into the story, complicated ones, taking what could have just been a B-sci-fi movie all the way to A-level.
Charlize Theron stars as Aeon, the Monicans’s cold, stick-to-business top assassin. The intensity she brings to the role drags you in and makes you want to discover what makes her tick. Yet she also has a warm side, but one hidden and numbed by years of training and running top secret errands for her team. Theron put on a wonderful show in the lead.
The supporting cast, though they all did a good job and their characters were believable, were just that: a supporting cast. No one’s performance really stood out except maybe Sophie Okonedo as Sithandra (the girl with the hands for feet). She was just plain cold (in that good way).
The special effects are astonishing. There is not a single element in this film that is “everyday.” Everything was built for it, whether physically or via CGI. The action is astounding, part Matrix and part Underworld.
Action and sci-fi fans should really get into this movie.