12.31.2007

Obsessive Characters.

Okay, so there’s obsessed, and then there’s obsessed. Obsessive characters often make for creepy (and sometimes Oscar-winning) characters. This list will discuss five of the greatest obsessive-to-the-point-of-psychotic characters in cinema (at least that I know of, anyway). Also, this is not a Top 5 list, but just a random listing in no particular order (mostly because the top spot would be way too hard to choose and would be tied… and I don’t like ties).

Warning: This list might contain spoilers if you haven’t seen the movies.


Wedding Crashers

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What? That silly comedy? Oh, right, Isla Fisher’s character.” To that I say, “Nope!”

In fact, the character I’m thinking of would be the crazy little brother, Todd. He’s obsessed with Vince Vaughn’s character. The plot of the movie is really irrelevant here, as this is just a random little sub-plot with no real weight on the rest of the plot, but I thought that Todd would be a humorous way to start off this list.

Creepiest Scene:

When Vince Vaughn is tied to the bed, unable to move, and Todd shows up and begins to basically molest him, then gives him a painting that he did of Vince’s character.

Creepiest Line:

Todd: “I made you a painting. I call it ‘Celebration.’ It's sexual and violent. I thought you might like it.”


The Hole

Most of you are probably asking “what the hell is this movie? I’ve never heard of this.” Well, it’s not known very much, but it is a decent movie all about obsession.

Liz Dunn (Thora Birch) shows up after she and 3 of her peers have been missing for quite some time, and tells the authorities that she’s the only one left alive. Liz and her peers, including Frankie (Keira Knightley), skip a school trip to hang out in an abandoned, underground bunker for three days. But when the three days are up, the friend who got them into the place doesn’t come back, and they’re stuck, locked in. Through different accounts, the truth of what actually happened starts to reveal itself.

When the truth gets out, so does the obsession. Liz was obsessed with one of the boys in the group, but he didn’t even seem to realize she existed, so she gets one of her friends (who is also obsessed with her) to sneak them in to this abandoned bunker so she can try and get closer to him. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the way she planned, so she locks them all in with a spare key until it does. That, however, doesn’t go exactly as planned, either, as the claustrophobia kicks in and starts making them get all crazed with each other, and Frankie gets sick.

Creepiest Scene:

I’d probably have to say the very end, when Liz gives Dr. Horwood the “I just won” look.

Creepiest Line:

Liz: "Have you ever loved anyone so much you didn't care what happened to yourself? You just had to be with them. If they look at you, your heart stops. If you feel their breath on your skin, you just ache. Have you ever craved anyone so much you didn't exist any more?"

Dr. Horwood: "No."

Liz: "I have."


Audition

Audition is a Japanese horror movie with an ending that only true horror fans can stomach.

The premise is that this guy’s friend talks him into doing a fake movie audition in order to audition women to be his future wife. And he finds her, and she’s really young and really hot. And they seem to hit it off, even though the guy’s friend feels odd vibes about her and tells him to call it off. The moral of the story? Always listen to your friends.

The young woman becomes obsessed with the man, waiting every minute of the day for his calls, and cherishing every moment they’re together… but not for the reasons he thinks. Now, I’m actually not going to say the ending is the creepiest scene, because I don’t think it is. It’s the goriest, by far, but not the creepiest. So without further ado…

Creepiest Scene:

The creepiest scene to me is when the young woman is sitting on her floor next to the phone, just staring down at it, unmoving except for the most subtle movements, with a large bag nearby. Then the bag moves.

Creepiest Line:

Oh man, this was tough… almost any line during the ending sequence that she said… from the “kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri” thing to the “This wire can cut through meat and bone easily.”


One Hour Photo

To me, this is, by far, one of the creepiest movies I have ever seen. It's so creepy that I've only been able to watch it a few times (even though I own it).

Sy Parrish (Robin Williams) works at the One Hour Photo department in a local department store. The Yorkin family are his favorite customers, as they have been coming to him for years. He feels like he’s part of their family. I mean, he really feels like he’s a part of their family. Unfortunately, they don’t agree.

I can’t even describe the creepy level of this movie. Sy is the epitome of the words obsessive and stalker. I really can’t sum up a creepy scene or creepy line, as the whole freakin movie is overly creepy. I know I won’t be able to pick just one line, but if I had to pick one scene, it might be the part where you see Sy’s wall o’ family photos… that aren’t of his own family (at least, to anybody that isn’t him). Even still, there are loads of other creepy moments here. You just need to see it for yourself.


Misery

Come on, if you didn’t see this topping off the list, you don’t know your obsessive characters! For any interested, had this been a top 5 list, this and One Hour Photo would have tied for first.

Based on a Stephen King story of the same name, Misery is about author Paul Sheldon (James Caan), famous for his Misery series of novels, who gets in a car wreck during a blizzard. Luckily for him, he’s saved by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates, who won an Oscar for the role), his number 1 fan! With both legs horrendously broken, and him being bedridden for quite some time, he has to be in her loving care. He wasn’t taken to a hospital because the roads were snowed in and the phones were out. But thank God she was stalking him at the time he crashed so she could save him. Well, it was a good thing up until she reads the newest Misery book, in which the title character that she loves and adores dies.

This movie is any celebrity’s nightmare and gives a new chill to “I’m your number 1 fan!” Annie Wilkes jumps from ecstatic to upset church lady to depressed to angry to psychotic and back to ecstatic again, and sometimes all in one scene. Now, I’m sure if you’ve seen or know about this movie, you know easily the creepiest scene (and line) in the movie.

Creepiest Scene:

The hobbling scene: One block of wood, two feet, one sledgehammer.

Creepiest Line:

Right after the hobbling is over, she looks him right in the eye and… “God I love you.”

12.29.2007

NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS.

So I just saw National Treasure: City of Gol….erm… I mean Chamber of…. I mean BOOK of Secrets (and I know Fletch has just been DYING to see this movie…).

First off, let me just say that the movie was actually pretty entertaining. It had a lot of crazy antics and historical alterations that made it enjoyable. And it was rather funny, most of the credit there going to the character of Riley (Justin Bartha). The basic plot is as follows: Some completely random dude (Ed Harris) shows up and gives some random (possibly fake/possibly real) evidence that Ben Gates’ (Nicolas Cage) great great grandfather was involved in the conspiracy to kill President Lincoln. Gates sets off to prove him wrong by finding this long lost uber-treasure (The City of Gold), which was what his great great grandfather was really involved with. And along the way he gets help from his parents (Jon Voight and Helen Mirren)… and the head of the FBI (Harvey Keitel). If you couldn’t tell, this movie has quite a few big names hangin from it.

While the movie was ‘shut-off-your-brain’ entertainment—and while simultaneously teaching you historical facts that may or may not (more likely) be actually accurate—there were a few things that bugged me. The biggest thing was the ending. I won’t spoil it, but there are just a couple things that happened at the end that irked me. One was a completely over-done cliché involving Ed Harris’ character that just didn’t seem to fit right (or make much sense). The second was that it left you totally hanging with one aspect of the story. It builds up this one thing and then gives you nothing. I realize they’re probably setting it up for a third movie, but it just seems to me that even if they do make a third movie (and they probably will), they wouldn’t use that bit of hanging story for the whole movie.

Another thing that bugged me, and this is just a nit-picky thing, was the title of the movie (if you couldn’t guess from the opening sentence). The Book of Secrets is only about 20 minutes worth of the overall movie (and the movie is over 2 hours long). The main story deals in finding this treasure, and the Book is just one of the pieces of the puzzle in finding it. It would be like calling the first movie “Benjamin Franklin’s Spectacles.” And then the city is just more like a really big chamber with a few really big golden arches (without the hamburgers) and staircases.

Oh, and one last thing that bugged me… my favorite line from the movie trailer was cut out from the movie (the one that has Riley talking about death and despair). I was so disappointed that it wasn’t in there.

But again, it was a fun movie; I laughed, I enjoyed, I was entertained, and that’s what movies are for. I know it might not sound like I enjoyed it from this overly negative review, but I did, I promise. In fact, I’m even going to give it a Keanu ‘Whoa’.

P.S. (I almost forgot!)... how come all of the bad guys were bald, or at least balding so much they were almost completely bald? Seriously, it was like a huge clue. If a character was bald or mostly bald, they had a connection and/or were a bad guy. There wasn't a single bald(or mostly bald) good guy that I can recall.

12.28.2007

Guilty Pleasure Movies... Surf Ninjas.

Guilty pleasure movies... those movies that you really don't want to admit to liking, but could watch over and over again because you just can't get enough of it. Everybody has at least one, and today, for a reason not even I understand (I think boredom), I'm going to talk about one of mine: Surf Ninjas.

This movie has it all... surfer dude brothers who are really long-lost princes of an unknown island and have hidden ninja-like abilities... a half-robotic Leslie Nielsen... rapper Tone Loc... and a young Rob Schneider. How can that formula go wrong? Oh, it can... and it feels so good.

Anyway, as I hinted at, the movie is about these two adopted brothers (Ernie Reyes Jr. and Nicolas Cowan), and they love surfing. They have this goofy friend (Rob Schneider) who can't surf to save his life, but thinks he can control outcomes by starting a sentence with 'What if...'. Well, one day this dude in an eye-patch (Ernie Reyes Sr.) shows up and tells the brothers they're these long-lost princes of the island of Patusan (no, seriously), which has been taken over by the ridicu...er... evil Colonel Chi (Leslie Nielsen). So they must go save the day. Oh, and the little brother can see and/or control the future through his Sega GameGear (remember those?).

What makes this movie good is that it refuses to take itself seriously. It knows what it is, and it exploits it in a grand fashion. There's even a moment when the older brother removes a mystical sword, some angelic music plays, and he stops in a 'what the heck?' fashion, then shrugs and keeps going. It's purely cheesy, actiony, comedic fun and is worth the time if you ever want to watch some pure entertainment without needing your brain. Kwantsu, dudes!

Oh, one last thing... it has one of my favorite movie dialogues ever:


video

12.26.2007

ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM.

The movie wasn’t good. The movie wasn’t God-awful. It was ‘huh…k.’ The basic premise is as follows: Picking up where the last one left off, an Alien born from a Predator (henceforth known as a Predalien) wreaks havoc on the escape ship and makes it crash-land in Colorado. They send out a signal, and a lone Predator, apparently the ‘clean-up guy’, comes to take care of business. The Predalien then wreaks more havoc on the small town by killing and mouth-raping the locals while the lone Predator hunts it and the other Aliens… killing any humans that get in its way.

That’s about the only story, really. There really isn’t any character development, and there’s a decent-sized cast (including a returning army woman and her family, a pizza boy, his ex-con brother, his hot blonde crush (and her jerk of an ex-boyfriend), and the town Sheriff). There are a lot of other characters shown, but the annoying thing is… is that they’re killed off within 5 minutes of being introduced (at the longest). You don’t really care when they die. And a lot of people die. It’s like ‘hey, a new chara…oh, he’s dead. Oh, somebody else! She seems… err… dead.’

There is gore half the time, and half the time they cut away. Why? I dunno. I do admit that some of the stuff was pretty hardcore. And kids, babies, and pregnant women do bite the dust in this movie, so the filmmakers had a few guts to go against typical Hollywood in that fashion.

There could have been more fighting, too. Most of the movie is the Predalien killing people (which you only see happen half the time). There’s some cool fighting toward the end, and the Predator vs. Predalien fight was pretty cool (even if the camera was moving too much for you to tell which was which).

Throughout the movie, you’ll see the lone Predator walking around silently, hunting them… shooting at them… and continually missing them. Surely they had a better ‘clean-up guy’ in the Predator world. I mean, he was good, but it seemed like almost any Predator with all the gadgets he had could have done the job. So why send JUST him?

And like many horror movies, there are other logic flaws, such as ‘Why are they searching for a back door and/or window to escape when an unlocked front door is about twenty feet away with no obstacles in their way?’

Overall, though, it was brainless, Sci-Fi/Horror entertainment, and it did manage to at least entertain. I didn’t understand the ending (and was mostly like ‘what the…?’) until I came online to read up on it. It should make more sense to those of you who are hardcore fans of the Alien series, as it ties into that.

I give it a Stop Saying Okay! Okay.

12.21.2007

Little Known Movies You Need To See... Angel-A.

For this Little Known Movies You Need to See, I’m going to talk about a movie that’s so little known, it almost bypassed me. Over the years, I’ve become wary of buying movies I either haven’t seen or haven’t heard a whole lot about. So when I stumbled upon Angel-A, I wasn’t sure whether or not to get it. I had read a little bit about it online ages ago and had forgotten about it until I saw it in the store. On one hand, it’s completely in French and it’s in black and white. But on the other hand, the most compelling selling point to me for this movie is that it was written and directed by Luc Besson, who was writer/director of one of my all-time favorite movies, Léon (He’s also done movies such as The Fifth Element and La Femme Nikita). So I bought it.

And my God (no pun intended), I’m glad I did. This movie is beautiful, in more than one way. It has a beautiful story. It has beautiful imagery/shots. It’s just a great, beautiful movie. The basic premise would be like if you mixed the more dramatic parts of Léon with It’s a Wonderful Life. And at points, I mean that literally. For instance, the dialogue of “‘stop saying okay!’ ‘okay.’” is used in this movie, just as it was used in Léon. That made me laugh. As for It’s a Wonderful Life, well… the story is about a no-good scam artist (and by that I mean he sucks at it), André, who is really down on his luck and owes a lot of money to a lot of people. He tries to kill himself by jumping off a bridge, but a mysterious woman (with incredibly long legs) shows up and jumps first, prompting André to save her life. She introduces herself as Angela (which is French for both Angel and the name Angela) and promises him that she’ll help him with all his problems in return for saving her life. And then she slowly starts to reveal just what her true nature is.

The story is one of discovering and accepting and loving who you truly are inside. It’s not easy to put into one genre, either. It’s a fine mix of drama, comedy, romance, and supernatural. Without giving too much more away about the plot, let’s just say that this movie should have caught more attention from the Catholic League than The Golden Compass did.

The visuals are also beautiful, as mentioned before. The movie was shot in Paris, so you get to see a lot of its beautiful scenery (and in black and white, to boot). There are some great cinematic choices, too, such as Angela standing on the other side of the angel statue, so it looks like they’re one and the same. There really isn’t much to complain about with this movie. It even went by very quickly because I was so involved in it.

I give it a Royale with Cheese.

12.20.2007

Most Bizarre Cast And Crew Ever.

Well, first off... the Dragonball movie has been in the works for ages (its been a torrid on-again/off-again affair). But it is now officially underway, and a large chunk of the cast has been revealed. And I must say, it's one of the most bizarre casts I've ever seen... especially when it comes to fitting the characters of the Dragonball universe.

Goku... Justin Chatwin (from The Invisible and War of the Worlds)


Piccolo... James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Yamcha... Joon Park (from the upcoming Speed Racer)


Mai... Eriko Tamura (from Heroes)


Bulma... rumored to be Emmy Rossum (from Phantom of the Opera)

Chi-Chi... Jamie Chung (dunno)


Master Roshi... Chow Yun-Fat (no introduction needed)


And on top of all that, it's being produced by Stephen Chow (of Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle fame) and directed by James Wong (Final Destination).

Random note: I think it's odd that the only white people seem to be the main male and female and the bad guy. Everybody else is Asian. Goku and Piccolo I can understand, seeing they're from different planets... and James Marsters should be/better be covered in green. But Bulma is from the same place everybody else is from... so why is she white? It's just interesting that they make a live action movie based off an anime/manga, and make a half white/half Asian cast. You'd think they'd either go one way or the other.

Anyway, what do y'all think? Or do y 'all even care?

12.19.2007

From the Heart: Best/Great Movies and the Oscars.

The Large Association of Movie Blogs (LAMB) has pulled its members together, myself included, and made up what we believe to be our top 5 movies of the year. Reading through the winners and the picks has made me think a lot about something, so I would like to make a little shpeel of my own onto what I believe makes a great and/or Oscar-worthy movie (which might more explain my list, especially when juxtaposed against some of the others). For instance, a lot of people picked movies like In the Valley of Elah, Michael Clayton, The Assassination of Jesse James, and No Country for Old Men. There is only one major reason as to why I didn't pick these or any of the other 'Oscar-worthy' picks: I live in a small city, so it's very, very rare for movies like that to even show their face in these parts. Hell, even Sweeney Todd is skipping out on us (damnit).

I'm not going to say anything against these films. They actually might be super awesome, and probably are. But even if I had seen them, I still may or may not have included them as my favorite of the year. Why? Because, honestly, most Oscar-worthy pictures are BORING (at least after one viewing). That's right, I said it. But I also said most, not all.

To me, a great movie doesn't have to be made by Eastwood or Scorsese and star Swank or DiCaprio... which too many recent winners have. I'm not saying these guys are awful... no, FAR from it. These people are great in their own respects. But when I watch a movie, I want to be both entertained and want to watch it again. I don't want to be like "Oh my God, that was the most depressing thing I've ever seen... never again." *pause* "THAT WAS OSCAR GOLD!" My brain doesn't really work like that.

That's why I'm ecstatic when movies like Lord of the Rings and Little Miss Sunshine are nominated, and even happier when they win. But don't get me wrong, I'm not against the depressing masterpieces. I love Pan's Labyrinth. It should have been nominated for best picture, though it obviously wasn't going to be, as it was foreign. Again, one of the biggest reasons I'm not all up and for these movies is because I haven't seen them. I just don't think that movies like The Queen would be my cup of tea (bad joke). I'll see it someday eventually anyway... I just believe there are more entertaining movies out there. Because that's all a movie is meant to be, entertaining. If it's not entertaining you, it's not doing its job. And if it isn't doing its job, then why should it get this high praise?

Of course, story isn't the only thing that makes a movie great. Acting, direction, cinematography... they all play their part. A movie can have an enthralling story, but if it looks and feels boring, then it will be. And before you jump on me, I'm not one of those people who just likes the blow-em-up blockbusters that have no depth. I love movies with depth, as well. I love all kinds of movies... almost any and all, for that matter.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that when it comes to Oscar noms, the littler guys should be given a bigger chance than they're ever given, instead of just focusing on all the Scorsese's and such. There's other great movies out there, and they don't all have to be violent and/or depressing to get best picture, as a lot of the winners these days have been. Because honestly, movies are for the average movie goer, and the average movie goer is a lot more likely to see Superbad and Enchanted over Eastern Promises and The Darjeeling Limited. And in the end, it's the people's opinion that matters, not a snob in a suit who sees 30 second clips.

Finally, as to not take up a load of room, here is the link to the winners, which I'm happy to say I believe is a great list and more true to form than what the Oscars are likely to say.

Little Known Movies You Need To See… The Cube Series.

Cube

Alright, time for a new article theme. These will focus on those little known movies that you really need to see (obviously). These movies are those that are really great (in one way or more), but aren’t huge or mainstream, or don’t even have an incredibly major cult following (as like, for instance, the Evil Dead series does). I have a whole slew of movies I can talk about, some better than others, and no, I’m not going to start off with the best of the best. Instead, I’m going to start off with a little known trilogy of movies called Cube. The second two aren’t nearly as great as the first, but as there are three, I figure I might as well let you know how those are just in case you’re curious.

The first movie, Cube, was made back in 1997 by a French-Canadian writer/director Vincenzo Natali (his most recent film is being a part of Paris, je t’aime). It stars a grand total of seven people. The basic premise is that a bunch of random people wake up in strange cube-shaped rooms with no recollection of how they got there or why they are there in the first place. Each room they travel to is a different color. Oh yeah, some are safe and some are trapped.

I must say, this is how a thriller is done. While the traps and such are there for people who like gore, it’s the focus on each characters’ mentality and dip into paranoia and overall loopy-ness that makes the movie great. It’s more of a character study than anything. And it’s cool that each character was named after a prison, and each character has a characteristic or trait that matches the types of people that usually go to the prison they’re named after.

There are a couple twists, and one really sad (and ambiguous) ending… I mean, this was the first movie I had ever really screamed at my TV because of something that happens (not how the movie ends, but something that happens right before it). Still, this movie pulls no punches. If it wasn’t for the crazy CGI of the traps and stuff, this could probably even be turned into a stage play.

The first cube gets a Royale with Cheese from me.


Cube 2: Hypercube

The second in the series is the worst, in my opinion (although it does have the coolest poster). I actually hated it the first time I saw it. However, after a few more viewings of it, it grew on me and I like it a lot more than I did initially. This one, or the next one, are not written or directed by Vincenzo Natali, either. Cube 2 basically reverses the initial point of the first movie. While the first movie had a small cast and the traps were more of just something to add to the situation at hand, this movie has an enormous cast and the traps are a lot more prominent.

Here, the characters, again, have no idea how they got where they are… well, for the most part. There are a few extra layers to this one, such as a few characters coming into the cube of their own free will. Oh, and the cube is different this time, too. It’s completely white in every room, and it’s a hypercube. A hypercube is like… this 4th dimensional time/space thing. All you really need to know is that it deals with rifts in time and space. This really leads for some really cool special effects. But, again, like I said, any and all character development (and there really is none within this movie) is thrown to the wayside for the special effects and such. However, the movie does give a few more details about who could be behind the cube than the first movie did, and you actually see the outside this time (though it would be different from the first one anyway, as it was all… 4th dimensional this time).

I give this sequel a Stop Saying Okay! Okay.


Cube Zero

Cube Zero goes back to its roots… sort of… and in more ways than one. Cube Zero is a prequel to the first movie. The odd thing is, though, you can’t watch this one before you see Cube, or else the ending of this one will make absolutely no sense to you. Well, it will, but not NEARLY on the same level as it would if you have already seen the first.

Anyway, Cube Zero also returns to its roots by having a relatively smaller cast again. But it does something different than the other two. This time, it focuses on the guys behind the scenes. It still shows stuff within the cube, but that’s almost an afterthought in comparison to what takes place in the watchers’ room. The basic plot is that this super-genius, Eric Wynn, and his partner, Dodd, just have to sit and watch the monitors of people in the cube and document what happens. The people in this cube are told to be criminals and such, having signed a waver to do this cube thing instead of a prison sentence and/or death row. But Eric starts feeling for one of the people within the cube, which makes him discover that not only is she not a criminal (she’s a political), but she didn’t sign the waver. He starts to question the legitimacy, or correctness, of what they’re doing.

It’s hard not to give anything away, because there are numerous twists and turns in the movie (hell, I had to give one of them just to tell you the basic plot). But this movie is the most underrated of the three, I think. If you look at the imdb score, it’s relatively lower than the first movie (though it is, at this point, barely higher than the second).

But you don’t care about imdb scoring, as that’s why you’ve come for my opinion. And in my opinion, this movie is not nearly as good as the first, but it’s a lot better than the second. It gets a Keanu ‘Whoa’ from me.

12.14.2007

Harry Potter: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Well, let’s just come out and say it: I am an avid Harry Potter fan. I love the books. I love the movies (for the most part). I love anything and everything to do with the series. However, the first five movies are already out on DVD, and the sixth isn’t slated for theatrical release until the end of next year. But I don’t care to wait that long to do an HP review, so here’s a nice (long) article that details my feelings for the five movies that are currently out. Because this is an article and not a flat-out review, I’ll do this in a different kind of method (also to save a bit of room, since I will be reviewing 5 different movies). I’ll mix my thoughts together on how I feel about the movies as both a movie and an adaptation, but I’ll separate my thoughts into three categories: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. So here goes (Minor spoilers if you haven’t seen/read them yet)...


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Good: It introduced us to the movie-world of Harry Potter. It gave us a great cast: Alan Rickman is the best Snape imaginable; Emma Watson did a wondrous job in this movie as Hermione; Harry looked like Harry, Hagrid like Hagrid, and Richard Harris’ Dumbledore was awesome. There was an underlying power without forcing it. He was both wise and humorous at times. Overall, the movie was very faithful to the book. It didn’t really stray much at all. Even the Dursley’s were portrayed wickedly awesomely. As an adaptation, it worked.

The Bad: Some of the acting, specifically from Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron (Rupert Grint), was cringe-worthy at times. The special effects, while they might have been great for their time, just look cheesy now (like the Troll… or CG Harry on the Troll or playing Quidditch). Also, the visuals (not the special effects… just normal visuals) were way too bland. The grass was flat and bright green and boring. Their clothes were either school dress robes or itchy sweaters and khaki pants, which looked like it might as well have been school uniform, because nobody really noticed they ever wore muggle clothes until movie 3.

The Ugly: It turned WAY too cheesy at points. For instance, when Harry caught Neville’s Remembrall and came back down on his broom, the whole crowd of first years comes up cheering like he just saved the world.

Overall, Sorcerer’s Stone gets a Keanu ‘Whoa’.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The Good: Again, like the first, it was a great adaptation. New additions to the cast, specifically Christian Coulson (Tom Riddle); Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart); Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy); and Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley), were wonderfully cast and did an excellent job. This movie even has one of my favorite lines from the movies that makes me laugh every time (“Celebrity is as Celebrity does. Remember that.”). Also, the special effects were better than the first movie. The Basilisk was much cooler looking than the Troll. Also, any visual effect that can make a 40 year old woman look 14 or so is amazing (Moaning Myrtle).

The Bad: Again, like the first (as it has the same director), the visuals were boring. Also, Emma Watson’s acting as Hermione starts to deteriorate, though not too bad. Unfortunately, we start to see a lot of Ron’s lines and such coming from Hermione a lot more, and Ron is really turned into a slapstick comedic sidekick. Ron’s supposed to be a brave, loyal friend.

The Ugly: Yet again, way too cheesy at times. For instance, the ‘There isn’t a Hogwarts without you, Hagrid… Cue entire school cheering even though almost nobody actually likes, or really knows, Hagrid.’ And that’s the END of the movie? Come on, seriously?

I give this one a Keanu ‘Whoa’, as well.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The Good: Um… it was pretty? Oh, and Sirius Black is played by Gary Oldman. That dude is awesome. And Hermione punches Malfoy.

The Bad: While some stuff was pretty, it was also pretty pointless. For instance, the giant clocks to symbolize the ‘time’ theme. The Whomping Willow time-sequences. The theme of this book was not TIME. That only played a SMALL part toward the end of the movie. And that brings us to the end. At the end of the book, there is a super-long Shrieking Shack sequence where everything is explained, then followed by a brief time-traveling sequence. So what does the movie do? It flips those around. It focuses everything on the time-traveling and shrinks the Shack scene to maybe 5 minutes or so. And then, after the Shack scene, when they actually do the time-traveling, it’s like ‘okay, let’s just reshow the ENTIRE last 45 minutes of the movie, but from a different perspective’… and that’s exactly what it does. And after the first time you see it, it’s incredibly boring.

Another bad thing would be un-Hermione-ing Emma Watson. She went from bookworm, bushy-haired ‘insufferable know-it-all’ to… for lack of a better word… hot. And that’s it. She lost everything that made her Hermione. They straightened her hair, put some glossy makeup on her, and shoved her in a pink hoodie… then took away all her books. While talking about looks, this movie also made Tom the Barman a hunchback. It also introduced the HP world to Michael Gambon. I can never forgive Cuaron for that. I can say he was actually ‘okay’ in this one… but my God, that’s about it. Finally, there was some bad acting from the likes of Emma Watson and Daniel “He Was Their Friend” Radcliffe.

The Ugly: Everything else. Okay, okay, I’ll give more details. Yes, Cuaron made a visually stunning movie. Besides that, he ruined it. The book was about ONE thing… it had ONE purpose plot wise. That one purpose was the following: Give the backstory of Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, Remus Lupin, and James Potter as best friends, mischief makers (and nuisance to Snape), being known as the Mauraders (also known as Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs), and what occurred between them. What of that did the movie do with this incredibly important part of the book (you know, its purpose?)… it CUT IT OUT. Well, not completely. It IS revealed that Pettigrew backstabbed Harry’s parents and framed Sirius… but it doesn’t reveal HOW. It doesn’t get into the Fidelius Charm or the Secret Keepers or exactly HOW Sirius was framed. It doesn’t tell about how James saved Snape’s life, which is one of the major reasons Snape hated James and therefore hates Harry. It doesn’t even tell us that Sirius, Peter, Lupin, and James were the Marauders, and Harry is lugging around the freakin map the ENTIRE MOVIE… it just never reveals who they are. And Lupin has the PRIME opportunity to do so at the end of the movie when he’s giving the map back to Harry. So what do we have in the end? A pretty/pretty pointless movie. And it has a freeze-frame ending.

This superficial movie gets The Zed Word from me.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Good: It was a cool cinematic movie. It was the first of the bunch to really have a cinematic feel to it. It wasn’t super pretty like the previous… it just had a cool feeling. For the new actors, Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter was dead on. Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody was just about perfect (I didn’t like that eye-strap at first, but I got used to it). The movie was also quite action-packed. Ron also, finally, has a bigger role. He gets to be all upset at Harry for a good chunk of the movie, and Rupert Grint does a great job with it. Neville also gets a boost into the picture, and Matt Lewis does a great job with him.

The Bad: No Dursley’s. It’s not the end of the world, really. Their part in this book wasn’t super important, but it would have been cool for them to be in the movie. They also cut down on the champions a lot. There were about two lines from Krum in the entire movie, a couple screams from Fleur, and a few decent scenes with Cedric, but they had to set him up for obvious reasons. Oh, and this movie also introduced us to Nigel. I have no idea who Nigel is, because he’s not from the books, and they apparently can’t use a canon-character for his part, but there he is. Finally, Emma Watson’s acting sinks into a bottomless pit by this point… too many excessive heavings of air between every word.

The Ugly: Michael Gambon. He’s number one on this list. My God, can you get any LESS like Dumbledore? Throwing Harry into stuff, yelling all the time, being so angry. It was horrible. Gambon only got decent during the ‘eulogy’ and the final speech with Harry in the dorms, but it was already way too late for that. And he didn’t explain Priori Incantatem to Harry! That wasn’t Michael Gambon’s fault, but that annoyed me about as much as not explaining the Marauders in the previous movie.

Another thing was that they cut out too much. The movie was very choppy. It was like they went from big scene to big scene without much middle ground, and they extended what did not need to be extended (like the first task). Too much importance was also placed on the Yule Ball. The entire middle of the movie is dedicated to it. I think there’s maybe one chapter in the book. Rita Skeeter became nothing more than an annoying journalist, and her animagus subplot was cut, which affected what could be done in the next movie with her (she had to be cut out). Dobby was also cut from the movie, which basically messed up the rest of his stuff for the series (I feel bad for who gets stuck with movie 7). All of Dobby’s stuff was given to Neville. And although Neville had a bigger and more important role in this movie, the stuff about his parents was given a throw-away line that you can barely hear over the commotion of the court room… and the blame was placed on Crouch Jr. instead of Bellatrix (as she was cut from this movie, too). I could go on, but let’s just put it this way… the first 200 pages of the book was shortened to the first 15 minutes of the movie. The rest of the movie is like that, too.

But while they did zip and rush through it, they didn’t remove the point of the book, which was Lord Voldemort’s return. They kept important scenes, as well as fan favorites (Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret). So, to me, that makes it a slight improvement (slight) over Prisoner of Azkaban.

This one gets a Stop Saying Okay! Okay.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Before I get into it, I just want to say that I give Michael Goldenberg (the new screenwriter) and David Yates (the director) awesome props for what they did with this movie. Not a lot of people stop to think about what they had to work with, and a lot of the insane fanboys and girls get on my nerves reading some of the things they say about this movie. First of all, they could only work with what they had been given from previous movies, which wasn’t a whole lot. It would have been tough to include Dobby due to Goblet. It would have been confusing to do the Fidelius Charm on Grimmauld Place, as it was cut from Prisoner. There were numerous things that they couldn’t do because the previous movies screwed them over, which now takes me into the review.

The Good: This movie was amazing with its continuity. For once, it felt like it belonged to a series and was connected with the rest of the movies. Not only did Yates use clips from all of the previous movies, but he mentioned them as well in dialogue. It brought back the moving staircases from the early movies. It brought back the giant clock thing from Prisoner. It also brought back the door locks from Prisoner. There were just so many little things that makes you realize how much effort Yates put into making this movie. The movie was also very visually stunning, and it kept the point of the books.

The acting was phenomenal. Newcomer Evanna Lynch EMPITOMIZES Luna Lovegood, and Imelda Staunton as Umbridge was a perfect match, as well. Helena Bonham Carter was also my personal choice for Bellatrix, and she did it amazingly, too. The other characters were done well, too. Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint were pushed to the limit, and Dan especially pulled it off. This was his best performance to date (that possession scene rocked). Emma Watson wasn’t annoying, either. Her hair was a bit bushier again, and her bookwormness was hinted at a bit. Hell, even Alfie Enoch (Dean Thomas), who is normally atrocious in his one or two lines, pulled off a great couple lines in this one. Finally, in the acting, Michael Gambon. For the most part, he was decent. His entrance at the trial was great, and just how I’d imagine it. Though, I do have a few things to say about him, but I’ll save those for later.

While the movie didn’t go in the order that the book did, everything important was still there (for the most part). Yates and Goldenberg were able to mix scenes in the book together to shorten time. Yates was able to relay important information through the newspaper montages without taking up too much time. Overall, he was able to take almost every single important thing from the book and put it into the movie without it feeling too choppy. The one thing that blows my mind is when all the crazy fanboys and girls utterly despise Yates for cutting out Quidditch. It was a HUGE part of the book, but it wasn’t an IMPORTANT part of the book. Cutting out Quidditch cut out at least 300 pages or so from the close-to-900-page book. There was nothing vital about Quidditch in the book that needed to be in the movie. In all honesty, this was a weighty book where almost nothing of vital importance happens.

The Bad: One scene with Dumbledore/Michael Gambon. Right after the Trelawney sacking scene, he yells at the kids “Don’t you have homework to be doing?” or something along those lines. Was that line SERIOUSLY needed? Come on. Another thing would be Mrs. Figg. She was a cute old lady, but that was NOT the Figg in the book. The Figg in the book was yelling all the time and going nuts.

The Ugly: Snape’s Worst Memory. This was a big letdown. They took one of the greatest parts of the book and brought a chainsaw to it. It was literally only about 30 seconds long. That’s gonna come back and bite the 7th movie director in the butt. Also, leaving out the locket (and possibly Mundungus Fletcher) is going to bite the final director in the butt, too. The only other complaint I have is the final ‘Dumbledore’s Office’ scene. It was about 3 minutes long and didn’t explain everything it needed to explain. It didn’t explain much about the Prophecy. It didn’t include Neville’s link to it (which was upsetting, but understandable). And on that note, part of the prophecy was actually CUT OUT. It seriously can’t be THAT much of a pain to include an extra couple lines, can it? Anyway, the office scene could have been much longer and explained a lot more, like it was supposed to.

Overall, I felt that any real issue with the movie was Michael Goldenberg’s fault, not Yates (since Goldenberg wrote it. Yates just works with what was written). I thought Yates did an amazing job with what he was given, and I’m psyched about the next movie, which he’s tackling, too.

I give this one a Keanu ‘Whoa’.

So all in all, what would I consider my favorites of the series in order?

Order of the Phoenix
Chamber of Secrets
Sorcerer’s Stone
Goblet of Fire
Prisoner of Azkaban

I AM LEGEND.


First of all, this is NOT a remake of The Omega Man or The Last Man on Earth. This is an adaptation from the book I Am Legend, which both Omega and Last Man were based on, as well. There is a difference.

Anyway, this is not going to be a typical book-to-film adaptation review for one very important reason: I’ve never read the book, so I can’t judge. I only know a couple of things about the book: Robert Neville was a white guy and… well… the ending. The first thing was obviously changed.

Anyway, on to the review. From the opening of the movie with a great cameo appearance by Emma Thompson, the movie seems to be heading in a good direction. The abandoned and lonely city of New York looks amazing (and brings me back to the abandoned London of 28 Days Later…, which I believe was also a bit inspired by the book). The movie takes us back and forth between the loneliness and hardships of Robert Neville (Will Smith) and his dog, Sam, and flashbacks of the city’s, as well as his family’s, evacuation. They work together well to move the story along.

Though there really isn’t much of a plot. It’s more of a character study on the sanity of the apparent last man on Earth. You see breaks in his sanity here and there, which Smith portrays amazingly. The ‘Fred’ scene, and what follows it, is one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the entire movie.

But it’s not just a psychological drama. Oh no, there’s monsters and scares galore. The basic premise of the movie is that after finding a cure for cancer and using it on humans, the cure (a fixed-up strand of the Measles) mutates and turns everybody who isn’t immune into a mutant vampire creature. The tense scenes are truly tense. I admit that I did jump a couple of times, as well. You get attached to Robert and his dog and do care for what happens to them (it’s hard not to, since they’re the only two characters on screen for large portions of the movie).

The only downside to the movie is the special effects. Almost everything that wasn’t Robert and Sam were digital effects. All of the animals (deer, lions, rats, dogs, etc.) and all of the vampires weren’t real… and you could tell. Some of them were well done. The lions, for instance, and some of the deer looked really good. The vampires, however… could have used some work. They were kinda similar to the vamps in 30 Days of Night, except digital. There was one vamp that looks okay (I think they showed him the most, assuming it was the same one. I think it was)… but, yeah, overall the effects could have been a bit better… OR they could have just used real people in makeup (*gasp*).

But overall, it was a great character study, and Will Smith’s acting was amazing for the part. He really was able to pull off the psychological deterioration of being alone for three years. There were tense/scary parts that worked, especially for PG-13, there were funny parts, and there were sad parts. It was the special effects parts that could have been better.

I give I Am Legend a Keanu ‘Whoa’.

12.07.2007

THE GOLDEN COMPASS.


As a fan of the book, I will do this review in the fashion I typically do my book-to-film reviews in. I will review it as both a film and an adaptation.

First I guess I should start with the obvious: the controversy. Again, as a fan of the book, I see little reason for controversy. In movie format, there shouldn’t be any whatsoever. There was no mention of ‘the church’ or even ‘original sin’ (and if you’ve read the books, you know how important that is). While on the subject, I have to say I’m quite impressed with the way they handled the religious stuff. They always talked around it, never quite saying it, but giving a good enough reason as to why things were the way they were. Anyway, on to the reviews.

As a movie, it worked pretty well. The second half of the movie was a bit fast-paced, and after the point in Trollesund when Iorek joins the team, it’s just bam, bam, bam with the story points without ever really getting into any character depth or growth. As for the actors, they really should be billing Dakota Blue Richards (Lyra) first instead of Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig (who is barely in the movie). She really steals the show. If I were to pretend I didn’t know any better as to what happens in the story, I would say it ended pretty well with a cliffhanger ending, and I couldn’t wait to see the next.

However, I do know better, so here we go with the book-to-film review. If you’ve not read the book, the following are SPOILERS:

The first half of the movie is great. Right up until Iorek gets his armor back, I would have to say the movie had been a great adaptation. Nearly flawless, really. Then Iorek joins the team and the story moves on… out of order. In the book they head to Bolvangar and then to Svalbard. In the movie, they’re on their way to Svalbard first when Lyra sneaks off with Iorek to find this ‘ghost’ that her alethiometer (golden compass) is telling her about. If you’ve read the book, you should know what happens next… except for the fact that they replaced the original boy with Billy Costa instead. Now, I can understand this. They did it to shorten the character list (there were a ton of them already). But immediately after this scene, upon their return to camp, they’re attacked by the Samoyeds and Lyra is taken to Svalbard… yes, Svalbard, not Bolvangar, which doesn’t make much sense… especially since Svalbard was shown as an island earlier in the movie, and they get there by sled.

Well, once Lyra is at Svalbard, there is no prison sequence and no mention of Lord Asriel, but Lyra immediately makes her plan to trick the king (who is named Ragnar instead of Iofur, to avoid confusion with Iorek). This takes a couple minutes and everybody is ready for the big fight. The fight actually happens a lot like in the book, amazingly enough. The fight ends, Iorek becomes king… then immediately leaves to run Lyra to Bolvangar, where she crosses the ice bridge alone (it happens here instead of at the part where they head for Asriel). The Bolvangar sequence is a lot shorter, too. It’s basically meeting Roger, sneaking to an empty room, overhearing information, being caught, being put in the guillotine machine (which is pretty hardcore), being saved, learning about her parents, escaping, and setting the place on fire. After that is the big fight between the Witches, the Gyptians, and the Tartars (and Iorek). After all that good stuff is done, Lyra meets up with Lee Scoresbee again and sets off into the Northern Lights to find Lord Asriel in Lee’s airship with Roger, Iorek, and Serafina. The end.

No, I’m serious. That’s where the movie ends. The last three chapters are gone, like a lot of other early reviewers have mentioned. I felt cheated, almost. It felt like I just watched a nearly incomplete movie. As for other differences, Lord Asriel is kidnapped by the Tartars and sets up his own workplace under THEIR capture instead of at Svalbard. The Witches are merely a passing mention. Serafina is introduced out of nowhere. There is no Consul or finding of the branch. There’s really no mention of any other Witches or inner struggle between different Witch tribes. There’s also no mention of the ‘you can’t trick a bear unless they act human’ thing, which takes away a lot of the meaning behind Iorek’s win against the king. However, even with these changes, I can see reasoning behind it in the world of adaptation. I can see why they switched Bolvangar and Svalbard, even though you can tell they originally planned to do it in the correct order (Lyra even mentions what occurred at Bolvangar while in Svalbard, even though, in the movie, she hadn't been there yet... and some of the filming was messed up, like the sled trip to an island, or the ice bridge to Bolvangar). I can see why they did the intercission to Billy Costa instead. But that’s about it. They filmed over 200 million dollars worth, and they cut out one of the largest chunks of that change from the movie.

END SPOILERS.

So, as a movie, it was pretty good. As an adaptation, it started great, then kinda went downhill. The acting from Dakota Blue Richards and Nicole Kidman was great. They couldn’t have found a better Lyra. The visual effects were beyond stunning. The Armored Bears were amazing to watch. However, the last half was too speedy, and the ending left something more to be wanted. There could have been a bit more character development, and the movie could have been a tad longer to incorporate some of this stuff. So, my final ratings are as follows:

As a movie… A Keanu ‘Whoa’.
As an adaptation… Stop Saying Okay! Okay.

12.02.2007

Top 10 Twist Endings in Movies (SPOILERS).

I figured I'd start off this blog by putting up an article I wrote a while back.

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Alright, after recently seeing a few new twist-laden movies (only 1 of which is on this list, but still...), I got the idea to do this. It's a Top 10 review of my personal favorite twist endings. Keep in mind, this is a very spoiler-heavy article, so if you haven't seen a movie on this list and you care to see the movie at some point in the future, you might want to skip over it or something. I don't know about you, but I hate spoiled twists (*grumbles about Saw 4 and HP6 (which is a book, but I don't care)*). Anyway, here you go:

My Top 10 Twist Endings in Movies

Okay, for me (like with a lot of other people), twist endings can make or break a movie. There are a ton of lists out there that dictate what the best twists of cinema are. I don't care about those lists. This list is a bit different. This list is going to countdown the top 10 movie twists that surprised me and brought a smile to my face (some more than others, which is why it's a countdown to the best). So I am giving fair warning now that the following movies will not be on my list so you can get it out of your system before we begin: The Usual Suspects, The Empire Strikes Back, American Beauty, Identity, and The Others. The reason that the first three are not on my list is because I knew about the twists before I saw the movies, so the ending wasn't a huge shock. The reason the second two are not on my list is because I figured Identity out before I even saw the movie, and I figured The Others out about halfway through. Granted, there is one movie on this list that I figured out, as well, but it is way too good to leave off. So now that your kicking and screaming for my leaving out some good twist movies is over with, I will proceed with my top 10.


10. Fight Club

The Plot: The Narrator (Edward Norton) is a boring office worker. Suffering from insomnia, he begins visiting support groups, for conditions he obviously doesn't have, because he ends up crying like a baby in each one which, in turn, lets him have a good night sleep. Meanwhile, on a business trip, he meets the charismatic Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a soap salesman, on a plane. But upon returning home, The Narrator's apartment (and all his things) have gone up in flames, quite literally. When confronted with calling somebody for a place to stay, he randomly decides to call Tyler. Tyler ends up agreeing, but under one condition: The Narrator must punch him as hard as he can. He does, and it all spirals into a huge gathering of men who create Fight Club, an underground fighting club where rule number one is that you do not talk about Fight Club.

The Twist: The Narrator and Tyler Durden turn out to be the same person. Okay, Fight Club is the movie on my list that I figured out before it was revealed… but honestly, who didn't? It doesn't matter either way, because the twist was still cool. Who doesn't love it at the end when Brad Pitt is yelling at Edward Norton that he's firing a gun his imaginary friend and an entire van full of nitroglycerin? The only reason this movie is number 10 on my list is because I was able to figure it out about halfway through, but, again, who didn't? It still rocks.


9. Lucky Number Slevin

The Plot: When Slevin (Josh Hartnett) goes to visit his friend, and finds his friend isn't there, he meets hyper Lindsey (Lucy Liu) instead. But suddenly, in a case of mistaken identity, Slevin finds himself in a battle between the city's two biggest rival mob bosses: The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and The Boss (Morgan Freeman). Meanwhile, Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat (Bruce Willis) and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to get them before they get him

The Twist: Slevin and Goodkat are on the same side. The Rabbi and The Boss killed Slevin's father over a gambling bet he couldn't pay years earlier. When Goodkat was sent to kill off Slevin, he couldn't do it and instead took the boy in on his own. Oh, and by the way, Lucky Number Slevin was the name of the horse that his dad bet on. This twist was really cool, though it hadn't really floored me by any means. It's like I was expecting it to happen, though I don't believe I actually guessed it.


8. Fallen

The Plot: Narrated by Detective John Hobbes (Denzel Washington), Fallen tells the story of said detective after he witnesses the execution of a deranged serial killer named Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas). After the execution, there seems to be a string of murders that is in the same style as Reese. Along with his partner, Detective Jonesy (John Goodman), Det. Hobbes start to investigate the crimes and Hobbes, who hears the same tune that Reese often sang coming from numerous other people, starts realizing that an evil, murderous force is able to pass onto anybody, just by being touched.

The Twist: At the beginning of the movie, the narrating Denzel tells viewers he is going to tell about the time he almost died. At the end of the movie, you realize that the narration is that of the evil force and not Hobbes. Everybody dies and the evil force (Fallen angel Azaezel, if you want to get specific, hence the title) inhabits a cat. This was a neat little trick, and it brought a smile to my face when I first saw it.


7. Se7en

(Ironic numbering, I know)

The Plot: When Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is about to retire, he partners up with a brand new detective to take his place, Detective Mills (Brad Pitt). Both of them end up on a case in which a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) is killing people based on the seven deadly sins.

The Twist: Out in the middle of nowhere to find Kevin Spacey's final victim, Morgan Freeman gets delivered a box that contains the head of Brad Pitt's wife (Gwyneth Paltrow). This spirals into a big speech from Spacey to reveal that Pitt is actually the last deadly sin, Wrath. I don't believe I saw that coming the first time I saw this movie, but you've got to admit that's a pretty cool twist. As disturbing as this movie is (and it can be pretty disturbing… Gluttony, anyone?), the twist is well worth it… even if it ends on a downer. But hey, the bad guy wins. That's rare in movies.


6. The Game

The Plot: Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglass) gets a strange birthday present from his brother Conrad (Sean Penn): a dangerous real-life game that begins to take over his entire life. Nicholas is constantly attacked and nearly killed numerous times all while trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

The Twist: Nicholas is up on a roof, shoots his brother, and jumps off to kill himself… only to land on a huge landing cushion that they use in movies for stunts, and finds out that his brother is still alive and everything that happened had, indeed, just been a huge game. Seriously, you have to give props to a movie that can set up a premise, make you disbelieve that the premise is true, and then have a huge twist at the end that basically says "Ha! We told you from the very beginning this was just a freakin game! You should have just listened." If you aren't confused by the end of the movie as to what the heck is going on, and then you don't get a huge smile on your face when he lands on the big cushion, then something is wrong with you!


5. 11:14

The Plot: A story is told from five different perspectives that revolves around the events that occur at 11:14 PM. 1) Jack (Henry Thomas) is driving down the road talking on a phone. The next thing he knows, a human body lands on his windshield from out of nowhere. 2) A group of misfits (Stark Strands, Colin Hanks, Ben Foster) is driving down the road when they accidentally hit a girl. 3) Duffy (Shawn Hatosy) wants to rob the convenient store that he and his friend Buzzy (Hilary Swank) work at so he can give his girlfriend Cheri (Rachel Leigh Cook) money for an abortion. 4) Frank (Patrick Swayze) is Cheri's dad, and goes out to try and protect her when he stumbles upon the dead body of Aaron (Blake Heron), the guy Cheri went out with that night. 5) Cheri's story.

The Twist: Cheri is pretending to date two guys, Aaron and Duffy, and tells both of them she's pregnant and needs money for an abortion. However, she's really seeing Jack (who she was talking on the phone to at the very beginning of the movie) and is ripping both guys off to leave with Jack and the money. However, during a moment of ecstasy, Aaron is killed on accident. Frank finds the body and disposes it over a bridge, causing it to land on Jack's car. Meanwhile, the group of misfits accidentally do a hit-and-run on Cheri, who was walking across the street after her car stalled. This complicated twist caught me completely off-guard. Seriously, and you see all the events FOUR times before you get Cheri's side of it, which reveals everything. This movie was done masterfully.


4. The Sixth Sense

The Plot: After child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is attacked by a deranged old patient (Donnie Wahlberg), his marriage begins to fall apart. He then begins meeting with Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a young boy who ends up proclaiming the famous line, "I see dead people."

The Twist: Bruce Willis is dead. That about says it all. He died at the beginning of the movie when he was shot by Donnie Wahlberg. There's a bunch of clues pointing to it. This movie did numerous things: It popularized the twist ending in Hollywood thrillers; it shocked audiences everywhere, as almost nobody figured it out beforehand; it ruined the rest of M. Night Shyamalan's career, as he was never able to match the greatness of this twist again.


3. Oldboy

The Plot: Oh Dae-su (Min-sik Choi), a normal Korean businessman, is kidnapped and kept imprisoned in a bedroom for 15 years. Then he's released with a new suit and a cell phone. He meets the young and beautiful sushi chef Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang) and they quickly fall in love. Oh Dae-su is then told he has 5 days to find out why he had been captured in the first place or Mi-do will be killed.

The Twist: Out of all the twists in this list, this one is probably the most twisted: As a school child, Oh Dae-su had witnessed a classmate, Woo-jin, basically getting it on with his own sister. He then told his friend about it, but then threatened him not to tell anybody. But, of course, his friend began spreading rumors that the sister was quite promiscuous and got pregnant. In shame that she could be mothering the child of her own brother, the sister kills herself. Woo-jin then grows up wanting revenge and sets up an elaborate plan. He has Oh Dae-su kidnapped and kept imprisoned. He then kills Oh Dae-su's wife and has him framed for doing it, then he takes in his daughter to raise as his own. But what he does during this entire time is hypnotize the both of them. Long story short… Mi-do is Oh Dae-su's daughter, and he had sex with her and is in love with her. I was confused as to what was going on at first (I mean, the movie is in Korean, so it took me a minute to figure it out), but I got it shortly after and my jaw was hanging open. The only reason this is number three on the list instead of number two is because I actually pondered if Mi-do was his daughter at the beginning of the movie, so it wasn't the COMPLETE surprise it could have been.


2. The Illusionist

The Plot: Eisenheim (Edward Norton) and Sophie (Jessica Biel) were childhood friends that should never have been. Sophie was upper class while Eisenheim (not his real name, mind you) was lower class. However, Eisenheim grows older and becomes a famous magician/illusionist and comes back into town to win over Sophie back from the abusive Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). But after Sophie dies, supposedly by Leopold's hands, Eisenheim begins obsessing with a darker illusion in which he brings dead spirits onto the stage to speak from the grave. But when he starts to bring Sophie back to ask who killed her, Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) is forced to enforce law to have Eisenheim arrested if he ever tries to do this illusion again.

The Twist: Sophie isn't actually dead, and it was all an elaborate plot to get Leopold what's been coming to him and have Sophie and Eisenheim escape together and live happily ever after. When I was first watching this movie, I thought it was just 'okay'. But then, because I wasn't even expecting a twist, the last three minutes blew me away. When Paul Giamatti begins realizing everything was a total setup and that Jessica Biel was still alive and they were leaving together, I was blown away. The twist, in every way, made this movie great for me.


1. Saw

The Plot: Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Adam (Leigh Whannell) wake up on opposite sides of an incredibly dirty and dilapidated bathroom with their ankles chained to the pipes. There's a dead body lying in a puddle of blood in the middle of the floor between them with a gun in one hand and a tape recorder in the other. They get the tape recorder and listen to their respective tapes. Dr. Gordon and Adam realize that they're playing a game by a man called Jigsaw. Jigsaw likes to put morally corrupted people in incredibly painful situations (that they CAN get out of) to see if they have what it takes to survive and appreciate life. Their game? Dr. Gordon must kill Adam somehow before a certain time (there's a clock on the wall), or his family dies and they're stuck in the bathroom to die. Adam just has to escape somehow. Things get interesting, however, when Adam finds a pair of hacksaws and Dr. Gordon realizes the only way to escape their chains is to saw their foot off.

The Twist: Okay, so the whole movie builds up you believing that the killer is just this hospital orderly named Zepp. I mean, it's completely obvious. Even I thought I had it pegged from the SECOND Zepp showed his face on screen. It was so obvious I thought this was going to be one of those movies where the twist 'breaks' the movie. But then time runs out. Zepp goes to kill the family, but the family escapes, so Zepp goes to the bathroom to finish off the two of them (he also kills Detective Tapp, played by Danny Glover, in the process). Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon saws off his foot and shoots Adam a bit too late. Zepp comes in, Adam grabs him after faking dead, and starts to beat his head in with a bit of the toilet. Dr. Gordon crawls over and stops Adam from beating Zepp's head into nothingness (which it mostly already was at that point). Following this event, Gordon crawls from the bathroom to either get help or bleed to death. Now, Adam is left behind to search for a key in Zepp's pocket but instead finds another tape recorder. This begins the amazing twist: Zepp is not Jigsaw, but was just another player in the game. So who the heck is Jigsaw? Well, that's quickly revealed as a really cool orchestral theme plays along with a bunch of flashbacks to give a bunch of clues revealed previously in the movie, and the dead body in the middle of the bathroom floor STANDS UP. Also, the key to their escape was shown in the very first scene of the movie to have gone down the drain of the bathtub when Adam woke up.

Never before, and never since, has a movie twist had me in that much shock and awe. I was completely and utterly blown away. They almost needed to surgically remove my jaw from the floor. So yes, Saw has my number one spot for best movie twist in my book.


Honorable Mentions:

Saw II – not the recording twist or that Amanda was a bad guy (I called those), but the fact that Daniel was in the safe right next to Detective Matthews the entire time. I never saw that one coming.

Memento – This was just a brilliant movie to begin with, but the twist that showed Leonard having already killed a bunch of people and refusing to believe it (as he has short-term memory loss), so he decides to burn evidence and keep killing people… is just brilliant, too.