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As most rabid fans of a comic book series can attest to, you really don’t want anyone screwing with your source material making it lose everything that made it special to being with. There’s a line that must never be crossed, yet is completely obliterated time and time again by greedy studios, hack directors, and ill-informed screenwriters. Watchmen was suppose to be the film that broke that trend, and for the most part, it is going against the most nihilistic expectations of fanboys, but after witnessing Zack Snyder’s ode to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons perennial work, maybe things would have been better off without this adaptation.

There’s a lot to like about Watchmen, the film is oozing style reminiscent of the graphic novel using the carefully drawn frames of the twelve-issue series to frame cinematic exploits of not-quite-super heroes like Rorschach, Night Owl, and Dr. Manhattan, but there’s also a lot of disappointment surrounding the film as well.

As a stand alone film the cinematography is great, the direction is tight; the script is well done and involving. The audience is introduced to the characters and through carefully interwoven bits is introduced to their past as well. However as an adaptation of the graphic novel the film is a big disappointment. Everyone know concessions were going to have to be made to accommodate a movie’s runtime and the dialog heavy graphic novel may have worked better as a miniseries than an actual film. While every scene cut from the film isn’t pivotal, there are bits and pieces, secondary characters, plot points that all build up and give the ending much more impact when the reader realizes what has happened. Here those missing elements are filled in by the minds of those who have read the novelization, but novices will find themselves lost.

The ending itself deserves plenty of talk as it is completely changed as far as the events portrayed. While the basic principles of who lives, who dies, who is to blame, and why they did it are left intact, certain elements that are part of the harrowing climax of the source material are sadly missing or altered beyond recognition here. Those viewers who already had problems with how the comic ended will have even bigger problems now as the vilification of a beloved character just doesn’t fit.

This work was called unfilmable at one point in its decades stuck in development hell and Snyder’s release proves that to be false, there was a film made here, and a pretty good one at that, but all people are going to talk about is what is missing, what is present, and how much of the cut material we’re going to get back in the eventual director’s cut on DVD.

There were a lot of claps during our screening of the film, there were also some groans and giggles by those who can’t handle the sight of a blue ding-a-ling on a 70ft screen, but I didn’t really hear any indifference, people either loved it or hated it, there appears to be no middle ground.

Knowing the development hell this film has gone through, the scrutiny that would follow it up to and after its release this had to be expected, but after all those gushing early reviews from fanboys and comic books geeks you just had to expect and adaptation akin to The Dark Knight instead of the passable interpretation we received.

Every person that reviewed this movie poorly is clinically retarded. Would you believe severely traumatized?

All of you who loved the television series Get Smart should LOVE this movie. It may have quelled some fears if the tag “consultants: Mel Brooks and Buck Henry” came at the beginning of the movie, since these original series co-creators can hardly touch anything without it being comedic genius (I say anything because, I’m sorry, Dracula: Dead and Loving It should have been aborted like a…well put in your own analogy, I don’t want to sound uncaring.)

The movie follows Maxwell Smart (portrayed flawlessly by Steve Carell), a formerly portly analyst for C.O.N.T.R.O.L that has dreams of making it big like his hero, Agent 23 (played by Dwayne Johnson). When K.A.O.S. agents infiltrate the C.O.N.T.R.O.L. HQ and compromise the names of all their agents, it’s up to Max and Agent 99 (sensuously played by Anne Hathaway) to save the President and the city of Los Angeles from destruction.

First off, the casting was spot on. Steve Carell was able to keep the Don Adams sly confidence and dry wit without losing too much of the lovable ineptitude. Anne Hathaway plays 99 deliciously, with a mix of deadly sexuality and bite. The supporting cast does just as well, with notable performances by the ever fantastic Alan Arkin as the Chief, and Terrance Stamp as Siegfried of K.A.O.S. Even at the end we get Hymie, the lovable robot agent played by none other than the hilarious Patrick Warburton.

Now I must say it isn’t EXACTLY like the series. People need to realize that the type of humor Mel Brooks went for in the 60’s is not the type of humor he goes for today (if you’ve seen Robin Hood: Men in Tights, you know what I mean). While there was a lot of over the top humor back in the day, it wasn’t all sight gags, and they weren’t always so banal; it was somewhat more highbrow compared to the over the top sight gags of today. Obviously we have to very quickly get these characters up to speed, as they don’t have a gajillion episodes to flesh out and solidify characters, so we do miss stronger character arcs.

My two main disappointments were the direction they took agent 23’s character at the end (spoiler alert, he’s the bad guy too), and PART of the 86 character. For the Rock’s part, he played the character of suave, cool 23 very well. I just felt that making him a bad guy was a little forced; it didn’t quite feel right at the end of the movie. As for Max, Carell again does a great job getting the audience to like him as he tries to act courageous and knowledgeable, and is of course really just a complete fish out of water. There were parts though where he was actually TOO competent. The Max of the television series would NEVER have been able to actually hit something he aimed at with a gun, let alone several times. There also, and this is funny to gripe about, were not enough accidents.

A lot of the situations that Max got into, or got out of, were completely accidental. Anyone who watched cartoons from the 60’s and 70’s knows Hong Kong Phooey, who would act like he was the shit, but it was really his trusty cat Spot that would get him out of messes. In Get Smart, 86 would find his way into a situation and would either stumble out, or stumble around while Barbara Feldon got him out. That was part of Max’s appeal, that cocky self assuredness that never rubbed you the wrong way because you knew he meant well, and he acted that way because he was making up for the fact that half the time he was just faking it and was hoping to get credit for style points.

All in all it was an incredibly funny movie that paid a great deal of respect to the original series, and while a couple elements did fall under what would be seen as spot on, the overall picture was a joy to watch. I hope that they take note of the couple kinks in the characters and build on that for next time.

Since Batman Begins debuted in 2005 the long standing belief that it was the best, and most faithful, superhero adaptation from comic to screen has been held by many. While Batman’s reboot is still one of the most faithful silver-screen portrayals ever, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man has superseded it as one of the best, if not the best comic to movie transition ever. Iron Man is simply spectacular, reaching heights not seen since Spider-Man 2 and accurately portraying all of the characters involved thanks to spot on casting, a tight script, and the unmatched abilities of star Robert Downey, Jr.

Iron Man, the story of the womanizing, boozing, and tinkering Tony Stark, leaves nothing on the pages of the comic that doesn’t transition here to the big screen. The way the film begins, Stark sitting in a Humvee, with what appears to be scotch on the rocks, and a charismatic, death-dealing personality who makes it almost impossible not to like him, even if his weapons are responsible for possibly hundreds of thousands of deaths.


His life-long ambition is changed when he’s held captive for three months, forced to build a missile of incredible power for a terrorist sect in Afghanistan. The rest of the film provides an origin backdrop for Iron Man and the growth of Tony Stark as someone seeking redemption for all the harm he’s caused in the world. Along with his personal assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and military-backed best friend James Rhodes (Terrence Howard), Stark as Iron Man begins to amaze us.

Really, the most amazing thing about Iron Man is two key elements, the acting of the pitch-perfect Robert Downey, Jr. and the direction of Iron Man fan Jon Favreau. As we saw with Spider-Man (not so much the giant mistake that was Spider-Man 3) a true fan is the best person to adapt a character to a new medium. Sam Raimi’s loving touch really brought Peter Parker to life in a way we’ve never seen before, and didn’t really see again until Christopher Nolan presented us with the excellent reboot of Batman. Favreau is quick with the film, never stopping for two hours, never reaching a lull for the audience to think too hard, but never speeding by important moments needed to further things along. The film does feel a bit rushed at times; the introduction, betrayal, and culmination of Stark’s right-hand-man Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) into Iron Monger seems a bit forced, but only because this isn’t a Lord of the Rings sized adventure.


Downey embodies Stark and makes the audience like the character even when we know what he is, and alcoholic, WMD-crafting, one-night-stand infused genius who actually comes across as a good guy well before his capture and subsequent redemption. There’s an everyman quality to Stark absent from most superheroes because he’s weak both emotionally and physically. He lacks superpowers, and while his motives are good, they’re also selfish in nature as he’s cleaning up a mess he’s caused for decades. Still, you feel for Stark, the emotional rollercoaster that is his life is portrayed so well it’s a shame the Academy pretty much shames any superhero movie from any higher considerations as Downey’s performance is worthy two times over.


Iron Man equally caters to those unfamiliar with the character and those who grew up with him, watching him change, retconned into many iterations with the changing environment of our world. The insides jokes, surprise cameos (hint: stay after the credits), and excellent special effects from ILM coupled with everything said prior deliver probably the most well rounded comic book movie ever printed and an immediate joy to old and new fans alike. Iron Man is simply one of the best comic book movies ever made, and one of the best movies, in general, to come out this year.

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.

Regardless of when this review is posted it won’t matter too much, you will already have seen the best movie of the summer. No denying it, no refuting it, Spider-Man 2 is the best movie of the season. We can already look forward to being disappointed come Oscar time when the film won’t even be nominated for Best Picture, best Actor, or, most importantly, Best Director. However, we can stand around the water cooler, join up on message boards, and verbally speak out how seeing the next chapter in the Spidey saga brought hope to an otherwise abysmal summer season. Take my hand, its okay.

I had trouble finding the words after seeing Spider-Man 2. Really, how do you explain emotions you haven’t felt in such a long time towards a movie? When a movie brings everything, every genre together into a tight, clean, awesome package, how do you really explain to someone that they should drop what they are doing, get a ticket, and see such an amazing picture?

Spider-Man 2 picks up nearly two years after the first film’s end. The Green Goblin/Norman Osborne (Willem Dafoe) has been killed by Spider-Man, Harry Osborne (James Franco) despises the hero, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) has finally made it as an actress, and Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) must now find a way to balance his life as an average, ordinary persona with that of Spider-Man. With the Green Goblin dead, a new villain must step up to the plate and provide a worthy antagonist. This new villain goes by the name Otto Octavius (aka Doc Ock) and is wonderfully acted and presented by Alfred Molina.

Spider-Man is one of those superhero movies where you aren’t cringing at the bad dialog or the horrible acting. Watching Halle Berry as Storm in X2 was one of the most excruciatingly painful things I’ve ever had to do, but every single member of the cast is strongly represented and wonderfully portrayed. Harry Osborne is the brooding, word-obsessed follower of his father, Peter Parker is the sometimes-reluctant hero who struggles to keep his non-Spidey life together after the woes of the city begins to weight down on him, and Doc Ock is the scientist under the duress control of his mechanical arms. Each of these parts is believably acted and each actor knows what they are doing. Even the supporting cast brings everything they have to the table with a notable standout being J.K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson who nearly doubles his screen time and ups the ante on the laughs.

It’s nice to see a film that has something for everyone. The humor is well placed and well scripted, but just as fast as a joke is delivered the film can switch gears into a serious tone with no problem, and nothing lost on the audience. The action sequences, especially the fights between Spidey and Doc Ock, are amazing. The computer effects, drastically improved from the first film, really portray the look and feel of a comic book with highly stylized camera angles and sets. Never before in a comic book movie have the pages of the graphic novel come to life as accurately as in Spider-Man.

For fans of Spider-Man the script includes many shout-outs to the series and opens the door to sequels to come. In order to keep this review spoiler free I won’t dive into them, but familiar names do make an appearance, and if you are a die hard fan of the comic, you will fine plenty to sink your teeth into. Not to be outdone, fans of director Sam Raimi will find a whole sequence harking back to the days of Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness complete with fast zoom shots onto a chainsaw, a camera moving across the ground just as in Evil Dead and even an appearance by the “King” himself, Bruce Campbell. Like I said before, the pleasure that this film brings to any moviegoer will certainly rival anything else produced this year.

If it seems I strayed away from talking about the actual film in this review, you are correct. Like I said in the opening paragraph, nothing I say here will change your mind about seeing the film, and I wouldn’t want it to. Spider-Man 2 is every bit as good as you have heard, and I honestly can’t find anything I didn’t like about it. Comic book fan or not, Sam Raimi fan or not, Spider-Man fan or not, everyone needs to see this film and have the best time at the movies this year. I don’t think there will be many who disagree with me on this one, see it, no matter what.

Comic book movies are a rather quirky device in Hollywood, because no matter how bad the adaptation is, and no matter how awful the acting, plot, direction, etc. are studios will still make millions of dollars from the die hard fans who have waited decades to see their favorite superheroes on screen for the first time. Enter the curiously named X2: X-Men United as it debuts hot off the heals of Spider-Man’s record breaking opening and following the mediocre showing of Ben Affleck’s dark, yet lacking, Daredevil.

Director Bryan Singer should have a statue at Marvel Studios for what he has done with this series. Bringing the comic book to life with such attention to detail should be inspiring for any director looking to make hordes of fan-boys happy. Singer’s direction is a shinning point burns just a bit brighter than the stellar performances by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Alan Cumming’s amazingly accurate depiction of Nightcrawler. Singer may have had a leg up on older directors who might of found it hard to go back to a comic book and learn about these characters enough not to be disemboweled by fans after the first screening. Where X-Men set up the stage, X2 brings down the house.

X2 skips all of the mandatory introduction of characters and gets right into the action. After a similar opening title sequence to the first movie, we are thrust right into nearly two hours of violent mutant fighting that had everyone on the edge of their seats and clapping each time Wolverine skewered a soldier with his claws. The movie opens with Nightcrawler attacking the President in the oval office of the White House. Through some amazing special effects the stunt and motion capturing work comes to life with a familiar “BAMF!”

X2 is actually an adaptation of the X-Men graphic novel “God Loves, Man Kills” which was re-released earlier this year in preparation of the movie’s debut. The story focuses on William Stryker (Brian Cox) a military veteran who calls upon the President to authorize an infiltration into Professor Charles Xavier’s School for the Gifted. Here one of the film’s best action sequences takes place as Wolverine battles dozens of commandos who take orders from the very man who could hold the key to his past. Although the attack on the school is not Stryker’s motive, he wants cerebro, or pieces of it, for a master plan to wipe out every last mutant on the face of the planet.

As mentioned before Alan Cumming and Hugh Jackman’s performances are amazing, they take the characters of Nightcrawler and Wolverine, respectably, to new heights as the drawings come to life with indiscriminate accuracy. The entire cast from X-Men is back to reprise their roles, for the most part. Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and Pyro (Aaron Stanford) are served up more screen time than in the first movie while Rogue (Anna Paquin), a staple in the first film, is reduced to somewhat of a bit character role. Storm appears on screen with a new wig and minus the annoying accent from the first film, no doubt in part of Halle Berry’s new found ego at the hands of the Academy. Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen), although key to the story, plays a smaller role than the first film while Mystique’s (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) screen time is nearly doubled. Cyclops (James Marsden) and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) are also sent to the back while the story mainly focuses on Wolverine’s quest to learn about his past and Jean Grey’s (Famke Janssen) internal struggle with her increasing power. Several other X-Men make cameo appearances. Colossus, Kitty Pryde, and a few others I won’t mention liven things up a bit and set up a number of characters to appear in a shoe-in sequel.

With such an large cast you may think it would be confusing to keep track of them all but for fans of the series you should have no trouble. Although with so many characters and such a wide range of specific powers the script does pigeon hole some of the action sequences to take advantage of a specific mutant’s powers. “We have six kids stuck in a hole and we don’t have a key, who can teleport them to safety?” Stuff like that proceeds through most of the film but it hardly detracts from anything because you want to see these characters use their powers. The film also suffers from a somewhat lack of plot, but you aren’t going to see this for a deep emotional triumph over adversity, you are seeing it to watch mutants with kick-ass powers kick some ass, and you get what you paid for.

X2 is based on the X-Men comic book, but takes a much more violent and darker role along the lines of Daredevil as opposed to Sony’s Spider-Man. Several reports even indicated the film carried an R rating through the first couple of cuts until a few scenes were shortened.

Regardless of your quips on the lack of plot or convenient devices that further that paper-thin plot X2 serves just what you want to see. Lots of cool mutants that you grew up with, on the big screen, and killer special effects realistic enough to make you believe your graphic novel has taken a new home. I know a sequel is in the cards, I just hope it is sooner rather than later, three years is a long time to see a certain character “reborn.”