Scary Movie 3

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Scary Movie 3 (D). Despite the low grade, I can think of a few nice things to say about this movie. For one, it is only 84 minutes long. For another, it is slightly less crude than the two prior installments. This may be because this sequel was not made by the Wayans brothers, but rather by David Zucker, who was part of the team behind Airplane! and The Naked Gun. I actually laughed a couple of times, but on the whole this was still a pretty lame effort. Why the likes of Queen Latifah (Chicago) and George Carlin (Cars) agreed to be in this movie, I do not know. I still like ol’ Anna Faris (Just Friends), though. She’s game for anything, and she’s unbeatable when you need a look of wide-eyed, open-mouthed air-headedness.

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Dawn of the Dead (2004)

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Dawn of the Dead (B). This is the 2004 version, not the famous 1978 original (which I have never seen). I am not a fan of horror films, so I’m not sure why I picked it up out of the bargain bin at Walmart and bought the thing. Today the ice storm shut Dallas down, so I made wise use of my time by watching this movie. It adheres to what I understand to be the conventions of zombie movies: zombies roam the streets in search of living flesh to eat, and whoever gets bitten by a zombie sooner or later turns into a zombie. In this movie, the wave of zombification seems to swamp the world in a hurry. A nurse (Sarah Polley, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), a cop (Ving Rhames, Entrapment), and several others elude the zombies long enough to barricade themselves into a mall. There they await rescue, make contact with another survivor who’s holed up in a gun shop across the way, and endure various setbacks and zombie incursions. I can’t compare it to the original, but I thought this movie was pretty good for what it was–lots of gruesomeness and gore, and some decent characters to root for as they try fend off the undead horde. By the way, you have to watch past the ending credits if you want to know the whole story…  Directed by Zack Snyder, who would go on to direct 300 and Man of Steel.

The Fires of Vesuvius (book review)

A book review from The Movie Snob

The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found, by Mary Beard (Belknap Press 2008). Having been to Pompeii three times, I needed to read only one good review of this book before running out and buying it. It’s a good book, with lots of pictures and illustrations, but I was still just a teeny bit disappointed. For one, the author debunks, or at least casts doubt on, some of the interesting stories that I have been told by extremely sincere-seeming tour guides. For another, I was surprised to learn just how little we actually know about day-to-day life in Pompeii. Many of our suppositions about Pompeiian life before the city was obliterated by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius are based on very slender archaeological evidence, such as where a particular signet ring or line of graffiti happened to be found. Nevertheless, Beard does a nice job of telling and showing what we have found in Pompeii and what we can reasonably guess about ancient Roman life based on the ruins. Interesting stuff, if you’re into this sort of thing.

The Perfect Man

DVD review from The Movie Snob

The Perfect Man (D). And I’m being generous with the “D” grade here, people. This movie is terrible and ridiculous. Heather Locklear (TV’s Melrose Place) plays Jean Hamilton, a single mother of two daughters of 16, played by Hilary Duff (The Lizzie McGuire Movie), and 7, played by some other girl. Every time Jean breaks up with a guy, she instantly moves her family to a new town, preferably several states away. As our story begins, she uproots her family on a moment’s notice from Wichita, Kansas, in favor of Brooklyn. Yes, she is insane. So Hilary (her character has a different name, but this movie might as well be called The Hilary Duff Vehicle) comes up with the brilliant idea of creating a secret admirer for sad, crazy old mom so that maybe she’ll stay put for a complete semester. So she sends her mom flowers, writes her emails, even instant messages with her for a while, under the pseudonym of “Ben.” The charisma-free Chris Noth (Sex and the City) plays the real Ben, who is Hilary’s friend’s uncle and, just coincidentally, the perfect man for Jean. So many preposterous things happen that there is no point singling any of them out. Just avoid this bad TV episode disguised as a movie. Oh, I just watched this because The Borg Queen had it through Netflix. Gotta make sure I explain that.

The Wrestler

From the desk of The Movie Snob

The Wrestler (A-). By contrast to The Reader, I found the characters in this movie easy to understand and empathize with. Mickey Rourke (Iron Man 2) plays the title character, a broken-down fellow who was a star professional wrestler back in the 80s. Now Randy “The Ram” Robinson can barely pay the rent on his shabby trailer with his meager earnings from a grocery-store job. But he still wrestles for tiny crowds on the weekends, and only there—in the ring and backstage with his wrestling buddies—does he come fully alive. Otherwise, his life is a mess. His health is failing, and his estranged daughter (well acted by Evan Rachel Wood, Thirteen) pretty much hates him. His boss at the grocery store is a mean-spirited little jerk. He genuinely likes a good-hearted stripper (Marisa Tomei, Cyrus) at a bar he frequents, but she’s leery about any involvement with a customer. It is really moving to watch The Ram clumsily try to get his life back on track. I’ll admit it, I shed some tears, and I wasn’t the only one in the theater who was snuffling.

The Reader

A new review from The Movie Snob

The Reader (B+). This movie kind of shook me up; it definitely held my attention from beginning to end. Although I had heard a fair amount about the plot before it saw it, I will endeavor not to commit any spoilers in my review, other than to say that the Holocaust is involved. The “present” is 1995, and in that time frame Ralph Fiennes (The Constant Gardener) plays the main character, an emotionally constricted German lawyer named Michael Berg. But most of the movie is told in flashback. The first flashback is to 1958, when Michael is a fresh-faced 16-year-old lad who gets involved in a torrid affair with Hannah Schmitz, a much older woman played by Kate Winslet (Titanic). Although the affair is brief, Michael is deeply affected. Years later, when he is a law student, Michael’s path crosses Hannah’s again. That’s about all I can say without risking what might be considered spoilers. I’ll just add that as the movie unfolds, I was startled and confused by some of the things the characters did; they seemed to act far differently than I would have. But I’ve read a few other reviews that had theories about their motivations that sort of make sense to me. I don’t think this movie is really best-picture caliber, but it was undeniably absorbing.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (The Complete Series)

The Borg Queen concludes that resistance is futile.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (The Complete Series)

I recently purchased the entire Deep Space Nine (DS9) series on DVD, which I hadn’t seen before. My little brother swore it was as good as, if not better than, The Next Generation (TNG) and Voyager. Over the course of two or three months, I managed to get through all 7 seasons. The first two seasons were a bit slow and were often stand-alone episodes. But somewhere around the middle or end of the third season, the show shifted directions. It essentially became one long, interesting story line furthered by each episode (aside from some stand-alone episodes intermixed). The characters became extremely well developed so you really began to care about them. I always found the Ferengi episodes extremely boring and annoying, but otherwise, I really enjoyed the entire series. You just have to get past the first couple of character-building seasons. I particularly enjoyed an episode where some DS9’ers traveled back in time to the time of Spock and Kirk and got dubbed into an old Star Trek (original series) episode. If you are a Star Trek fan, and haven’t given this show a chance, I definitely recommend watching this series. If not, I’d still recommend watching this series, but skip to Season 3. All that said, I think I like TNG a little better–but I grew up watching TNG, so it has nostalgia giving it an edge.