Welcome back (again) to Entertainmentopia, my name is Erich Becker, and I founded this thing nearly 25 years ago. What you'll find here is  one man's opinions and sometimes coherent posts on a number of different topics on a blog that just wants to be a small island, in a big ocean and put words on the screen as a creative outlet. Welcome and enjoy!


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Computer animation has come a long way since the debut of Toy Story in 1995. Since then we have seen Pixar Animation Studios re-up itself four times, with each successive movie getting better and better. We have also seen DreamWorks emerge to try and steal Disney/Pixar’s crown of best in the business. While Shrek and Shrek 2 have the pop-culture references and one-liners to make them stand-out hits, Pixar’s films, like The Incredibles, have the ability to stand the test of time and are destined to be classics for generations to come. This isn’t to say anyone will forget the Shrek series of films, but where Pixar takes a different road and subject with each film, DreamWorks runs the risk of milking Shrek straight into mediocrity.

The Incredibles, from director Brad Bird, lives up to its name. Simply put, the movie is incredible to watch and gives us everything we expect from Pixar’s sixth full-length outing. Like the Toy Story series, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo, The Incredibles relies on a smart, witty script crafted for adults and children alike, although things are a bit different this time around. Pixar’s previous movies seemed to balance the jokes between adults and children, satisfying both groups adequately, but with The Incredibles, the scales seem to be tipped in favor of more adult oriented jokes that will fly right over the heads of children. One example of this is towards the climax of the film when a group of guards prepare to have a drinking game while watching monitors of Syndrome’s (Jason Lee) creation tear apart the city. I laughed, really loud, or so it seemed with no one else making a peep in the theater. Still, parents shouldn’t be hesitant to let their children view the movie, as most of the more “mature” jokes won’t even be noticed.

What will be noticed is the PG rating, and the amount of press it has received in the last couple of weeks. This marks a first for Pixar, who obtained G ratings for all of their previous releases, but it doesn’t hinder the movie in any way, simply because the animated violence, even as realistic as this, is still so cartoon-oriented that no-one will be taking it seriously. Although mostly taking place off-screen, this film has, by far, the highest body count for any animated Disney film.

As with any animated film, the quality of the animation is only one part of a complex puzzle, the other is excellent voice work, and The Incredibles excels just as we thought it would. The cast is headlined by Craig T. Nelson (Coach) as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible and Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl who do an excellent job playing husband and wife, superhero leads. In an underutilized supporting role is Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone. This is one of the parts of the movie that left me a bit disappointed, the lack of exploration of Jackson’s character. He was prominently featured in the trailer, but isn’t on screen for much of the movie. Stepping into the villain role of Buddy/Syndrome is Jason Lee who is his usual marvelous self.

The Incredibles really shows how Pixar has evolved, not only in story telling, but in animation as well. Seeing Toy Story, and then nearly ten years later seeing The Incredibles side by side is an eye candy treat. When I first saw Woody and Buzz hiding under a pick-up truck at the gas station in Toy Story I was amazed. Now I see realistic explosions and a robot tearing apart cities built in a retro-60’s style and my jaw still hits the floor. The animation shouldn’t overshadow the story (something Sky Captain couldn’t overcome) but with Pixar they are six for six when crafting intelligent stories and appeal to all ages.

There isn’t much else I can say about The Incredibles that hasn’t already been said here or on another site. The film is full of life, interesting characters, great animation, humor, action, violence, and pop-culture references. The film has the legs to stand the test of time, and while it may never be the box office success that Shrek 2 has become, the film stands, right now, as the finest film to come out of the uber-talented Pixar Animation Studios. With all the studio’s wrangling with Disney aside, this company can put out an excellent movie worth of the label “Ten Best of the Year.” If you love movies, it is your duty to see The Incredibles, as I’m sure you will be just as entertained as I was.

Broken was released in 1992 after a label change. What better way to give your previous label the proverbial screw-you? You fill an EP full of the most aggressive and angry songs imaginable, of course! Broken is an EP, but don’t let that fool you, it’s still one of Nine Inch Nails biggest releases simply because it contains entirely original material. (Most of their singles and releases are filled with remixes of earlier songs.) These eight songs compose their most guitar-heavy, angry work ever. Drifting a bit from the industrial style, Broken is significantly more metal than Pretty Hate Machine. It still has quite a few interesting synths in it, but they are now a backdrop to the frightening guitar of Robin Finck (later to go onto Guns N’ Roses briefly). These songs are violent, loud, and–at times–downright scary. Because of this, Broken is the most unique Nine Inch Nails release.

Pinion” opens the EP with simply an edgy guitar belching out a progressively louder broken harmony. When the volume reaches its loudest, “Wish” explodes with its percussion introduction. This song’s lyrics are particularly chilling, with Trent Reznor snapping: “No new tale to tell; 26 years on my way to Hell.” The apathetic and destructive nature of the song’s lyrics also assists its pulsating melody. Reznor yells his line with only the percussion backing him up, then the guitar booms, repeat. These extreme volume changes are unsettling at first, but grow on the listener. There’s no absence of noise in “Last,” however, powered by an extremely heavy guitar riff. “Last” is the pinnacle of anger on the EP, and its lyrics are the most shocking of all. Verses like, “Dress up this rotten carcass just to make it look alive,” and “I want you to throw me away” fuel the song’s self-deprecating and perhaps evil nature. “Last” is still a headbanger, and is still the overlooked classic of Broken. Not completely overlooked, though, as Godsmack did “cover” it on their debut album under the name “Time Bomb.”

Help Me I Am In Hell” is a creepy, little melody driven by nice guitar/bass tracks. It has no lyrics, and under two minutes in length, is largely forgettable after the novelty wears thin. “Happiness in Slavery” is a bizarre industrial song about–obviously–slavery. It features a great bass riff, and interesting synth work. Especially nice is the synth interlude after the verses, and the distorted voice of Reznor dubbing, sounding more disheveled than ever. “Gave Up” is a full-throttle ride for headbangers. It begins as a fragile Reznor whimpers over a fast percussion synth and develops into a complete anthem of apathy.

Once the listener figures out that tracks 7-97 are completely silent and there is indeed 8 songs, they are treated to the Adam Ant cover “Physical.” It’s quite a bit more slower than the rest of the album, but its steady rocking is a fun break from the anger. Wrapping up the album is “Suck,” Reznor’s last shove-off rocker. “Suck” has a nice bass riff, and intriguing verses of lost hope. The chorus is an explosion of guitars and yelling, which reminds of the intense volume shifting of “Wish.”

So, as the chorus in “Suck” goes, “How does it feel?” How does it feel to give the execs keeping you down the finger? If I were Reznor, I’d imagine it’d feel pretty good. Broken is short tour of the disturbing and angry world of Trent Reznor. Its brevity helps its cause, though, and the audience is left shaken and frightened simultaneously. Broken is not only a great EP, but an awesome look at how Nine Inch Nails progressed into The Downward Spiral. For Nine Inch Nails fans and metal fans as well, this is an excellent EP.

After seeing Saw, I certainly know where the producers got their banner name of Twisted Pictures. To put it lightly, the movie is twisted beyond recognition at some parts, but under all the gore and images of dirty, dank surroundings, there is a keen little movie to see. Many early reviews of the film, which has been screened a number of times over the last couple of weeks, made the endless comparison to David Fincher’s Se7en, a film which has a similar storyline.

Se7en focused on John Doe, a serial killer who used the seven deadly sins as his guide. In a unique, intriguing twist, the ending left many very, very surprised. Saw tries to recreate the atmosphere created by Fincher by placing similar characters in similar situations. In Saw, two men wake up in a highly disturbing room chained to polls on opposite sides of the room. After some bantering back and forth, they finally realize that they are the latest victims of the Jigsaw killer. This serial killer, in name only, finds unique ways for his victims to kill themselves, while he watches via video, or a hole in the wall. Jigsaw’s latest players in his twisted game are Adam (Leigh Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes). The killer gives instructions to Dr. Gordon to kill Adam before 6PM or his family will be murdered, to do this task, Jigsaw gives the doctor one bullet and a hacksaw. Lying in the middle of the floor, between the two men, is a body, with a good portion of its head blown off, and in the body’s hand is the gun Gordon needs to complete his task. Conveniently, the gun is just out of his reach.

Saw‘s, directed by James Wan, main appeal comes from its plotline and twisted story. The killer, portrayed via a mechanical doll throughout the film, is, by far, the most interesting of the characters. Elwes and Whannell, as Gordon and Adam respectively, do their best to fit into the roles, but sometimes step over the bounds of believability in their overacting. Surely, we can’t be the ones to judge them based on the fact none of us have been put in a similar situation, but there are times when the actors go a bit over the top. Also featured in the picture is Detective Tapp (Danny Glover), and while his character appears as though he might be going somewhere in the beginning of the film, he really serves no purpose at the film’s climax.

The beauty of the script is in the way the story is told. Rather than go straight forward from the time of the victim’s capture, Wan goes back in time to show how they got to where they are today. This is one of the more intriguing parts of the picture as the storylines of each character seem to overlap, making for an interesting, suspenseful time.

Part of the sick-joy, and allure, for Saw is the manner in which Jigsaw’s victims are killed. One man has to escape through a field of razor wire before a certain time or he will be entombed in the room he is in. Perhaps the film’s most demented device can be easily summed up in three words, “reverse-bear-trap.” This apparatus, which looks intimidating just staring at it, has the tendency to blow your head up when it goes off, tearing the jaw apart at the seams.

What Saw does well is deliver a well crafter story that has enough suspense to last for the 110 minute runtime. There are parts where the story becomes a bit thin and slows down due to an attempt at character development, but if you can look past those, you will see the film’s deeper meaning, a cult classic in the making.

Much chagrin has been given to the film’s ending, which I won’t spoil, for been too contrived and for simply being in the film to have the prerequisite trick ending. I, for one, was very surprised by the ending, as was everyone else in the theater I was in judging from the gasping and “no f*$%ing way!” coming behind me. There is definitely some disturbing stuff in Saw, but if you made it through Se7en and have the slightest twisted sensibility to you, then Saw is right up your alley.

With all the hoopla surrounding political films this year, who would have thought that the most powerful political statement would come from the twisted, yet funny, minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park? Their latest film, Team America: World Police is a satirical look at US Foreign Policy while poking fun at the liberal media, liberal members of Hollywood, and a certain leader of a country North of South Korea. In fact, the only people that were spared from Parker and Stones biting wit were those lambasted in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 which debuted earlier this year.

The premise of the film is just about as insane as you can get, but here it goes. In order to infiltrate a terrorist group operating in possession of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction), a Charlie’s Angels like organization called Team America calls upon the services of an actor to go under disguise and find the WMDs. The group is lead by Spottswoode, who rides around in a mechanical chair while watching the action from Headquarters (this leads to one of the movies funniest jokes). The team finally figures out that North Korea is behind the planned attack on the world, and that countries leader, Kim Jong Il enlists the Film Actors Guild in a trick to destroy Team America.

Along the way, there will be puppet sex, loads of violence, singing, dancing, cocktails, and certain “favors.” The film has been labeled an equal opportunity offender, and those with who are portrayed in the movie may not like the way they come across. The fact that Parker and Stone don’t seem to fall into the camp of either Republicans or Democrats leaves the door wide open for both sides to be torn to shreds.

Taking the full brunt of the comedic lambasting are the members of the Film Actors Guild (whose abbreviation leads to many of the movies jokes). One actor, in particular, is reamed again and again, this actor is Alec Baldwin. Joining him in the Guild are Helen Hunt, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, George Clooney, Samuel L. Jackson, and a host of other celebrities who have been outspoken against the war in Iraq. Most are done away with at the hands of Team America, with Robbins, Michael Moore, and Sean Penn getting the worst demises.

Like Parker and Stone’s previous film, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Team America hosts more than a few musical numbers, which are easily the highlight of the film. I found it curious that the soundtrack won’t be released for another two weeks, but that already comes highly recommended. The Team America theme song, simply titled “America, F**K Yeah!” is one of the funniest things you will hear all year. Most of the songs are performed by Trey Parker (or DVDA if you prefer) and show the comic might that both he and Stone possess. Also, remember that freedom costs about $1.05.

Finally, the center piece of the film was the sex scene between two marionette puppets that are no where near anatomically correct. The scene initially caused the film to receive an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, but after some cuts, an R-rating was finally awarded. Most scenes in films that receive such hype are usually a let down in their final form, but not this one. The two puppets engage in what can only be described as one of the funniest scenes in film all year as they switch positions a number of times and caused the audience to be in tears upon conclusion. Unfortunately, the scene is over much sooner than you would like to be, but the shock and awe of it has you rolling.

The use of marionette puppets may be questioned by some, but moving from cardboard cut-outs and computer animation isn’t that big of a step. Now, if the film looked like garbage, I may have a different story to tell, but the settings and miniatures used are beautiful, to say the least. And if you ever wanted to see a puppet spew 78 gallons of puke and then pass out in it, you needn’t wait any longer.

Team America may very well be the funniest movie of the year. While it lacks the same hard wit that Parker and Stone deliver to public figures on their TV show, it certainly makes up for it in being an original film that spoofs and offends evenly across the board. It’s certainly not for those who are easily offended, but if you enjoy the creator’s previous work, you’ll feel right at home watching puppets blow the brains out of other puppets.

Those crazy Brits have got to be doing something right across the pond. After the success of 28 Days Later in their homeland the film stormed American cinemas and made my top 10 list last year, now another zombie film tried to make it big in the US, but can a romantic comedy with zombies really work? You bet your ass it can.

What Shaun of the Dead (taking its title as an homage to George Romero’s perennial Dawn of the Dead) does really well is be an entertaining film that successfully merges many genres of filmmaking into one, creating a hodgepodge of side-bursting comedy and horror and mixes it all together, with a few scoops of brains, and melds one of the best films of the year. Realistically, I haven’t had a better time at the movies in a very long time. Aside from the “groundbreaking” dramas and the “funniest movies of the year” comedies you rarely get to go to a film that is so enjoyable, you actually don’t want it to end, because you know the real world, with its “real” movies will be waiting just around the corner.

Shaun of the Dead centers around the title character, Shaun (Simon Pegg), and his everyday activities, which are leading him down the road of an eternal loser, and how his seemingly normal life is impacted by the zombie threat. One of the most clever portions of the film’s script is we never get a real cause for the arrival of the zombies. While characters are flipping through channels we get bits and pieces of how the virus might have first come in contact with humans, but a solid explanation is never given. Shaun is struggling to keep his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), interested, and after he recommends his favorite tavern for a romantic dinner things are through. Just as it seems as though things can’t get any worse it does, and the zombies arrive on the scene (although calling them that is bad luck). Shaun is totally oblivious to this fact until a close encounter puts him in the spotlight to save his friends, and escape the undead.

First and foremost think about what a melding of the comedy and horror genres would be like with a dry British wit and none of the Wayan’s brothers within 5000 miles, and this is what you would expect. The jokes are funny, the visual cues are funnier, and the dialog is the best. Shaun of the Dead has a smart, witty, fast script that doesn’t sit around with one joke too long and has life to make even the undead…well…pretty damn lively. Whereas Dawn of the Dead had the underscore of consumerism in our society, Shaun of the Dead follows the same trend in making the everyday, working man look like a mindless fiend bent on getting through the day alive only to plod through another. This joke is alluded to earlier in the film before it is blatantly summarized in the closing montage.

Towards the climax the comedy routine seems to taper off as the horror aspect clearly makes its mark. For a comedy you may not find a more gruesome 90 minutes as far as dismemberment and bloodshed, and no, sitting through Along Came Polly doesn’t count as gruesome, only retarded. For the squeamish there are a few instances they might want to avoid, including the vivid dismemberment of a human at the hands of a gang of zombies. Unlike the walking undead of 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake, these are your standard slow zombies, who are so transfixed on their next helping of brains that they are easy enough to get by in small numbers.

Shaun of the Dead has sleeper hit written all over it, and it would be one if it didn’t shatter the British box office earlier this year. The film is ripe with social commentary, gore, violence, language, and a bit of a relationship troubles for the ladies out there. While the plot itself isn’t anything particularly new, the execution and writing make the film one of the very best of the year and a must see for anyone who has grown tired of traditional cinema and is looking for something that is 99.9% pure entertainment.

We’ve waited an extra few months of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow thinking the worst about the film. After all, with such beautiful looking special effects, and a movie driven by them in all aspects, a delay of this scope could either be a blessing or a curse. In fact, it might have been a little bit of both, if you go by Paramount’s reasoning for delaying the film until September (from the original July release date). For one, you escape from Spider-Man’s shadow and are able to open up in a, nearly, clear field of films. Although, opening in the notoriously slow September month doesn’t guarantee big numbers, especially for such a costly picture. But what really matters is the film itself, and it was an enjoyable time, marred by some problems, but still very enjoyable.

The story focuses on Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) a boundless reporter investigating the disappearance of some of the world’s top scientists. When she gets a clue to the whereabouts of the last remaining man, she soon discovers that it may be too late. Huge, mechanical robots infiltrate New York City causing general havoc and providing some amazing images you wouldn’t think of ever seeing on screen again. After nearly getting herself killed, she calls upon the help of Joe “Sky Captain” Sullivan (Jude Law) to help her get to the bottom of her biggest story. Along the way they run into the still-hot-with-an-eye-patch Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie) who commands a flying fortress and aqua-enabled jets.

If there has ever been a film built completely on eye candy, and eye candy alone, this is certainly it. From the very beginning you are overwhelmed with the style of the fantastic looking special effects. They don’t look real, and they aren’t intended to, but what they do look like is an amazing throwback to the 1940’s sci-fi serials that had wondrous visions of the future. From mechanical robots to un-earthly creatures, your eyes are the most important part of your body during this film. The technology used by the characters in the film is certainly science fiction, even today, but there is something about seeing a fighter jet retract its propeller in mid-flight, and submerge below the ocean to do battle with giant robots. How many films give you that experience?

Although, with the all special effects you certainly get felling that they may have let some of the writers go as Sky Captain brings in some cringe worthy lines, and even manages to make some Hollywood’s power players almost unwatchable at times. Sitting with most of the Entopia staff through the film I could see Senior Editor entopia_john flinching at nearly every line Gwyneth Paltrow delivered. At times I thought it was funny, but the more I listened to the lines and forgot about the pleasing special effects, I heard what he was hearing. The dialog isn’t all that good, and it only servers to bring upon the next scene, and the next problem for our heroes to deal with. You have to wonder if they went back in at the last minute and decided to actually write a script for the film, or just release a bunch of cool looking clips with the actors just staring at the camera.

Shot in front of a blue screen, the actors do a very good job of interacting with their “environment.” Its one thing to act, but to act without any props or visual cues from a background has to be much, much harder. The highlight of the bunch is Jolie’s Franky who is underused in the film, but it gets her out of starring in a serious of commercial and critical duds that have plagued actors and consumers alike this year.

In the end, genre fans will be all too pleased by the visual effects and style of the film, but serious movie-goers will find much to fault in the 2D story and poorly done script. If only they had taken the time to flesh out the characters a bit more and the story in general we could be looking at one of the best movies of the year. As it stands now, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a visual effects achievement that is able to bring a smile to even the most jaded sci-fi fan’s face, but only those needing some visual assurance of its dominance need apply.

The prerequisite requirement for any movie based on a video game is that it actually contains references to the source material. The original Resident Evil did this, while setting up a story of its own and introducing new characters. The less fortunate video game movies failed this aspect, which made House of the Dead one of the most unbearable movies in recent memory. I swear that I still have nightmares about seeing that film again. Now, two years after the original’s release, another Resident Evil movie hits the scene basically picking up right where the first left off and successfully bridging the gap between the movie and video game franchises.

For the uninformed, Resident Evil is the multimillion dollar franchise created in the mid-90s and debuting on Sony’s PlayStation. The first game, which was disregarded in the first film adaptation had two teams of specially trained police officers (called S.T.A.R.S.) stumbling upon a mansion deep in the mountains. To make a long story short five members of the team survived only to face a new nightmare soon thereafter. The second and third games in the series, to which the movie references, take place inside Raccoon City where the T-Virus has been unleashed and is turning Raccoon into a city of the dead.

Fresh off of her survival in Resident Evil, Alice (Milla Jovovich) has been captured and experimented on by Umbrella, the evil corporation at the forefront of this outbreak. She will eventually run into Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), and a few other survivors. Also making an appearance from the video game series is Nemesis a Tyrant-class bio-weapon who sports a mean rocket launcher and mini-gun and turns S.T.A.R.S. into mincemeat.

To enjoy Resident Evil: Apocalypse you need to put yourself in the right mind frame. Essentially the game’s installed fan-base makes this movie equally critic-proof while enjoyable only because first week sales will be driven by fans, such as me, who enjoy the series. Sure, the first film, and now the second, isn’t perfect in any way, in fact I can find a lot of things they did wrong, but when I also look at what they did right a smile comes to my face and I want to see it again.

The most obvious change from the first film to the second is the video game references are handed out in droves this time. The most obvious of which, is the appearance of Jill Valentine in nearly a picture-perfect costume and attitude and Nemesis which both come form Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. If you look hard enough, and believe me, I have, you can also find references to every RE game including the amazing intro to Resident Evil CODE: Veronica complete with helicopter chase and shoot-out. Not only will you find RE references, but there are also shout-outs to other video games including Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto which very few people understood, but had me giddy with glee.

First time feature film director Alexander Witt’s direction is stylistic at times, but also hard to follow. Hollywood’s reliance on the “x-treme camera” during fight scenes is fast becoming tiresome as it makes it harder and harder to appreciate fight scenes when all you see is a big blur from frame to frame. When you do actually get to see some fisticuffs they are well worth the wait. Jovovich’s Alice, who sees herself as the enemy should Sony green-light a third film, is fun to watch kicking zombie butt and taking on Nemesis but the “emotional” attachment left over from the first film leaves the climatic fight scene between the two severely muted. The Nemesis isn’t nearly as imposing as you would believe if you have played the game.

Aside form the questionable camerawork, you aren’t getting award-winning cinema here people, and you need to understand that before you enter the theater. This isn’t the Dawn of the Dead remake or 28 Days Later, this is a video game movie come to life, with bits and pieces of game elements mixed in with original movie franchise pieces placed together in a cohesive mix. Sure there are going to be a lot of people who simply don’t understand the film (one look on Rotten Tomatoes can alert you to that fact) but are aware that a majority of them are simply looking at the film from the same perspective we judge Lord of the Rings or the latest art-house sensation. Resident Evil: Apocalypse simply isn’t that type of film, and after the core audience is satisfied the film will fade away from the box office, but those core fans will be pleased in what they saw, and, in the end, that’s all that really matters when it comes to video game movies. Those expecting full mass-market penetration are simply misled. If you have ever enjoyed a Resident Evil game you will enjoy this film, no doubt about it. RE: A is not a good movie in the sense it creates memorable characters and contains a detailed plot, but it is a good movie by staying close to the source material and providing an outlet to fans starving for the next entry in the series debuting early next year, and, in the end, that’s all I was expecting.

Normally I loath any film that makes you read. It isn’t because I don’t like to think while I’m at the movies, it’s because I go to the movies to enjoy a visually stunning experience, and dividing my time between subtitles and the action on screen usually proves futile. While many diehard international film fans may call me out on heresy charges, I always prefer a good international film dubbed rather than subbed. Call me new-school, old-school, or just plain crazy, that’s simply how I like my movies. Yimou Zhang’s Hero is one of those movies that is so visually stunning that you forget you are reading subtitles, and enjoy the film for what it is, a movie that should open the door a bit further for more Chinese and Japanese films to be openly released in the US.

Hero stars Jet Li as a nameless hero who meets with the King of Qin (Daoming Chen) after supposedly killing off three highly skilled assassins who want the King dead. The King is attempting to take over all the kingdoms of China with his sights set on becoming the first Emperor. Nameless retells his story of how he did away with Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung), and Long Sky (Donnie Yen). To see Jet Li and Donnie Yen fight head-to-head was a real treat, even though their “battle” was relatively short.


The story is told a number of times after the King accuses Nameless of lying. Each time the story is told, certain elements evolve into truth and the more exotic elements are broken away revealing the true reason for the Hero’s visit to the King’s temple. The entire story breaks down to a revenge story, in which Nameless vows to kill the King who gave the order to slay his people. Unfortunately most of the film’s “twists” are not well kept and can be seen almost from the beginning of the film. Still, viewing the intricate martial-arts battles over and over again is a rewarding experience when compared to the cookie-cutter plot.


The cinematography of the film is excellent with bright, vibrant colors accentuating each scene and excellent wire work, which, apparently, many patrons in the theater where I viewed the film though this was funny. The technical aspects are unrivaled by anything to cross the ocean in recent memory. Not even the highly-regarded Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon can match up to Hero.

There are parts of the film which are purely “foreign” to American audiences, including a laugh-out-loud “love scene” which is suppose to be serious but ends up like something out of a Western comedy (albeit, not a very good one). The acting is hard to judge by viewing the film in its native language, but reports have indicated that Hero is the “Ocean’s 11 of Chinese cinema.” Even though the film was originally released in 2002, it is nice to see Jet Li in something other than a Western movie cracking jokes or trying to become the next Jackie Chan. Nothing against either of the two physical actors, but Chan is good at what he does (buddy comedies) and Li is good at what he does (kicking some major ass).

The film has a few lighthearted moments, but the main attraction is the martial arts fights and special effects which liven up the screen and allow the viewer to seep into the film. Since there isn’t any dialog during these bouts, it makes it all the much easier to concentrate on the physical agility of the actors, rather than reading subtitles.

Hero is not a ground breaking experience, but it isn’t an average movie either. It is simply a well constructed, well filmed movie that suffers from some problems relating to a shallow plot, but quickly recovers with eye-candy visuals and fight sequences. Even non-fans of foreign film, or subtitles (like me) will enjoy the film based on its technical merits. Everything else is just toppings on a sweet, sweet cake.

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