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Movies This Week (8/24)

Posted 27 August, 2007 at 11:01pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Movies)

During the last couple weeks, I watched Dreamgirls (3.75/5), Perfume (4/5), Pursuit of Happyness (4/5), Letters from Iwo Jima (4.75/5), 3:10 to Yuma [1957] (3/5), The Time Machine [2002] (2/5), Life or Something Like It (2.5/5), The Marine (1.5/5), and Snakes on a Plane (2.5/5).

Dreamgirls (DVD) - This movie port of the Broadway musical of the same name lives up to the hype. Award season was pretty good to Dreamgirls and for good reason - the performances of Jamie Fox, Eddie Murphy, and newcomer Jennifer Hudson are really believable in their roles. The story revolves around Effie (Hudson) who is lead singer of the Dreamgirls. As the trio becomes more and more successful, Deena (Beyonce Knowles) is replaces as the lead singer because of her sexier image. Feeling betrayed, Effie walks out on the trio and struggles to survive in the world where her only talent is singing but no one seems to want to sign her. 4/5

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (DVD) - Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born with a gift and a curse. He has the most incredible sense of smell - sensitive and able to discern individual smells. Unfortunately, everyone that serves as his "master" dies - starting with his mother who discards him as soon as he's born (his cries alert the mob who capture and hang his mother for attempting to murder him). As he grows up, his sense of smell develops until he finds his life changed when he accidentally kills a woman - a woman whose scent is intoxicating. The story then follows Jean-Baptiste as he tries to not only find a way to preserve the essence of a woman, but to produce the most powerful perfume ever - one that captures the notes and undertones of Innocence. Perfume is beautifully shot and has an intriguing story, but there are some problems with the details as the movie proceeds. I also found the casting of Dustin Hoffman as a master perfumer to be fairly odd. 3.75/5

Pursuit of Happyness (DVD) - Will Smith and his son Jaden are excellent in this movie about Chris Gardner, a man down on his luck (who is eventually homeless) who manages to pull himself up from the bottom and become a successful stock broker in order to support his son. The name "Pursuit of Happyness" has special meaning to Chris Gardner - his happiness comes from his ability to be with his son and support him. Many articles have been written about Chris Gardner, almost all of which are focused on the rags to riches story. This movie sets itself apart by telling the story of the love of a father for his son rather than focusing on the chase of money. 4/5

Letters from Iwo Jima (DVD) - This companion piece to Flags of our Fathers is even better than the first movie. Told from the Japanese point of view, the story of Iwo Jima unfolds following three or four main characters. The storyline was more compelling then Flags since the main characters were stuck on Iwo Jima and trying to survive while knowing full well they were on a suicide mission. With the characters split between their code of honor and their desire to survive and return to their families, it's not hard to empathize with the General in charge (played wonderfully by Ken Watanabe), the Olympic equestian tasked with leading a tank brigade with only a few working tanks, and the soldier than was a simple baker. Clint Eastwood has made a nearly flawless film and, although there are only a few battle scenes, Letters from Iwo Jima is one of the best war movies ever made. 4.75/5

3:10 to Yuma (1957) (Cable) - With the upcoming remake of 3:10 to Yuma starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, I had to watch the original. Made just over 50 years ago, the movie is pretty good for that time period, but compared to modern westerns (such as Unforgiven and Tombstone), there are some pacing issues and the music and sound design is (naturally) dated. The plot and outcome of the movie also doesn't seem to work for me. I liked it, but I feel like it needs to be updated to be acceptable to modern audiences - I wonder how the new version will deal with the conclusion of the movie. 3/5

The Time Machine (2002) (HD Cable) - This fun version of the H. G. Wells novel, is, unfortunately, also kind of lame. Guy Pierce can be a great actor, but he comes across as wooden and boring through the whole movie. I also wished the Eloi looked more elfish (like the book) - clearly it wasn't a budget issue since the various Morlock character designs were pretty elaborate. My favorite part was Orlando Jones (for some reason I always like Orlando Jones) as Vox, the electronic librarian. A bit below average. 2/5

Life or Something Like It (DVD) - Angelina Jolie plays Lanie, a news reporter from Seattle, who has a chance at a national network morning show. While covering a homeless soothsayer (Tony Shaloub), the man tells her she will die in one week. When the homeless man's other predictions come true, Lanie begins to freak out alternating between seizing the day and getting completely drunk. During this week, she begins to fall for an arrogant cameraman (Edward Burns) who shows her that it's possible to live life without planning every moment. The whole movie clocks in pretty average - nothing too bad about it (although I disliked the ending), but nothing stood out about it either. 2.5/5

The Marine (HD Cable) - A group of diamond theives, led by Robert Patrick (and yes there was a Terminator reference in this movie), takes the wife of a former Marine Special Forces operator (John Cena from the WWE) as a hostage. Mayhem ensues as do the bad movie cliches. 1.5/5

Snakes on a Plane (HD Cable) - Not as bad as I thought it would be, this movie is pretty simple: the son of the Los Angeles district attorney witnesses his father's brutal murder and agrees to testify. Samuel L. Jackson is the FBI agent who takes it upon himself to protect the witness and has to battle a crateful of poisonous snakes that were released throughout the plane halfway between Hawaii and Los Angeles. The movie, surprisingly, addresses almost all the questions that the viewer scoffs at the screen: why are they on a commercial plane and not a private charter? How come there aren't more passengers? How did the snakes get on the plane? Why are the snakes attacking everything? How did they get from the baggage area to the rest of the plane? 2.5/5

2 comments to Movies This Week (8/24)

Alan, September 12th, 2007 at 11:07 am:

  • Just saw the new 3:10 to Yuma. It had a few moments that require a wiling suspension of disbelief, but overall a good movie. Carried my and my 17 YO son right along, and I continued to think about it for a couple of days, always a good sign.

Michael Chu, September 12th, 2007 at 3:10 pm:

  • Great! I'll probably watch it next week. Man, I'm behind on writing up my reviews…