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Rush Hour 2

The director obviously knew that the formula for the first one worked because he virtually duplicated it here. It still works, though instead of belly laughs, we have mainly chuckles. Chan and Tucker still work well together and there is plenty of time given to each actor's strength, but some of the humor feels forced here. Chan's action sequences are still pretty breathtaking and Tucker's mouth allows the movie to be plenty entertaining. The locales are cool too, with Hong Kong, LA, and Las Vegas being the backdrop for the craziness that ensues. However, like so many other sequels, it lacks the first one's freshness and energy. Being a fan of the first one, though, I knew it would be hard to follow. Maybe Rush Hour 3 will get it right? With the money Rush Hour 2 is making ($67 million in the first weekend), I'm sure we will find out.

B-

 

Planet of the Apes

Tim Burton being my favorite director, I had VERY high hopes for this one because he very seldom makes a bad film. He continues his great work here because above all else, this is a fun movie. I'm not interested in comparing it to the original, I don't think it was meant for that. Mark Wahlberg is fine as the star, but the apes are the focus here and I think Burton knows that. Tim Roth is great as General Thade, as are the other main ape actors (Michael Clarke Duncan, Helena Bonham Carter, etc) who take advantage of the superior costume and set design.The movie is paced nicely and has one of the more kickass battle scenes that I've seen in a long time. However, what follows is a fairly ridiculous ending that didn't need to be in there (should have ended about 5 minutes earlier). So although the ending spoils it just a little, it's still one of the best summer blockbusters this year.

B+

A.I.

This has been the most talked about movie this summer and also the most divided- some love it, some hate it. It's definitely a movie that lends itself to a lot of discussion because it covers a lot of ground. A product of both Kubrick and Spielberg, this one had "special" written all over it ever since it was announced that it would see the light of day. Divided into three main parts (that often don't connect logically), A.I. is all over the place. It's not a perfect movie by any means (the first part is WAY too long), but I still give it the thumbs up. It's one of the more "visual" movies I've ever seen, some of the scenes being fantasically trippy. Whether or not the whole Blue Fairy sequence makes perfect sense or not, it still succeeds in taking the viewer into another world, if only for a little while. You can debate moral issues in this film forever, but why does it have to be looked at as a moral lesson? The fact that it is quite vague and doesn't have a definite "resolution" adds to its mystique. I've only seen it once, so I think it's going to require another viewing to make a more definite opinion, but A.I. was a treat for the eyes and may leave you pondering it long after you leave the theater. In that aspect, Kubrick would be proud.

A-

Final Fantasy

Another movie "based" on a video game, this one has been talked about for a long time. The theme here was making animation so realistic that it looked like real people. Consequently, it cost well over $100 million to bring this technology to life and it is quite the visual treat. The plot is standard sci-fi stuff that not everyone will relate to (including me somewhat), but it's hard to criticize the plot when the visuals and audio are so astounding. If you have any interest in graphics like I do, you will be blown away. So, in this case, I think it is really cool, but I definitely am not in favor of going away from traditional human acting and drama. Let's hope it's just an isolated "achievement" and not a widescale trend of replacing humans with graphics.

B+

The Score

From the previews, this looked like another generic heist flick, but the pairing of Edward Norton and Robert DeNiro require giving it a shot. This seems to be a movie of halfs- the first half being very slow and monotonous and the second half rescuing it and taking it to a great ending. No big action scenes here, it's a "chatty" movie feeding off the talents of the these two actors. Lots of clever twists and turns develop, most which aren't easily predictable. With so much crap being released, it's nice to see a well made movie that doesn't rely on any huge gimmicks...the challenge is to make it through the first half without falling asleep. Staying awake ends up being worth it, though.

B

Tomb Raider

It's a summer movie based on a video game, c'mon, any expectations for a good plot would be crazy. Expectations for good action, cool scenery, and Angelina Jolie kicking ass are warranted, though, and for the most part deliver. Some of the locations are gorgeous and a great backdrop for the action sequences. Jolie is the perfect choice for Lara Croft and she for the most part succeeds in this breakthrough role. Of course, the plot makes very little sense and there are some dumb characters, which hampers the film from being a definite recommendation. However, I can think of many worse ways to spend a couple of hours during a hot summer.

B-

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