The Official R#09 Viewing Log - 2007

Started: 04/19/07 * | Last Updated: 07/06/07

The Rating System:
***** Masterpiece.
****½ Fantastic.
**** Great.
***½ Good.
*** Above-average.
**½ Average.
** Mediocre.
*½ Poor.
* Terrible.
½ Abysmal.
0 Hell on Earth.



Transformers (Michael Bay, 2007) ***½ out of *****
I can't really believe it myself, but Bay's "Transformers" was pretty damn awesome. I loved it, both as an action junkie and a fan of the old-school "Transformers." Review

Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2007) **** out of *****
Possible the funniest, sweetest comedy in a decade, this smartly original story of pregnancy and change is just as poignant as it is hilarious. Seth Rogen plays the part of a lovable slacker like he was born for it, and Katherin Heigl is wonderful in her role as well. A strong supporting cast, including the likes of Harold Ramis and Paul Rudd, make this an unmissable flick. Review

The Dark Crystal (Jim Henson & Frank Oz, 1982) **** out of *****
Henson and Oz team up to craft one of the most vividly beautiful fantasies ever put to screen. This is a film as innovative and original as it is enjoyable, dark and sinister at points, bright and gorgeous the next. This film is shot entirely using puppets, and not a single human appears on the screen. A joy to watch. Can't wait for the upcoming sequel.



Live Free or Die Hard (Len Wiseman, 2007) ***½ out of *****
A worthy addition to the franchise, this "Die Hard" flick is the perfect blend of vintage action and state-of-the-art special effects. It's hard to find action like this nowadays, but director Len Wiseman has certainly delivered. Review

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005) ****½ out of *****
A genius blend of comedy and noir, this film is just fantastic. Darkly funny, with great performances from Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer. This is buddy cop meets neo-noir, and it's terrific. One of my more recent faves.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (Tim Story, 2007) **½ out of *****
Superior to the first film, but still lacking in many essential aspects. Corny and campy, but still a fun flick. The action and special affects keep it entertaining at best. Worth a rental, I'd say. Review

Time Bandits (Terry Gilliam, 1981) ***½ out of *****
Remember when Terry Gilliam used to make absolutely fantastic films? Yeah, me too. "Time Bandits" is a twisted fairy tale come to vivid life, stylistically innovative in every way. Branded with Gilliam's patented brand of Python humor and splashed with vibrant fantasy-elements, this as much a movie for adults as it is for children.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell, 2005) ***½ out of *****
The most recent adaptation of J.K. Rowling's Potter franchise doesn't quite stack up with "Prisoner of Azkaban" (partly due to the absence of Gary Oldman and David Thewlis), but it's still a great flick. Brendan Gleeson is great as Mad-Eye Moody, and an aptly cast Ralph Fieness is absolutely fantastic as the sinister Voldemort. Can't wait for #5.

King Kong (Director's Cut) (Peter Jackson, 2005) **** out of *****
Yeah, it's long -- laboriously so. But this really is a brilliant piece of epic cinema from "Lord of the Rings" helmer Pete Jackson. Great action, brilliant special effects and a genuinely touching story of love and loss come together to form what is, to me, a worthy homage and expansion of a classic film.

The Return of the Jedi (Richard Marquand, 1983) ****½ out of *****
Although sub-standard when compared to Empire and Star Wars, Return of the Jedi gets an unwarranted bum-rap. Ewoks and dancing scenes aside, this is a sci-fi adventure with all the darkness of Empire and twice the action of Star Wars. The screenplay doesn't hold a candle to its predecessors, but this exciting conclusion to the Star Wars saga is more than worthy to hold a solid place in my favorite films.

The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980) ***** out of *****
My second favorite film of all time. Just as innovative and adventurous as its predecessor, and darkly sinister to boot. In this one, the bad guys win. Everyone is at the top of their game here. Kershner's fine direction and camerawork bring the Star Wars trilogy out of its camp space opera roots and into the annals of cinema history, firmly entrenching it as a solid, valid piece of art.

Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977) ***** out of *****
Probably the first movie that made me love movies. I absolutely love this film with every fiber of my being. It still holds today as one of the most riveting, ridiculously enjoyable movies out there.

Batman and Robin (Joel Schumacher, 1997) * out of *****
Literally, one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

Plan 9 from Outer Space (Edward D. Wood, Jr., 1959) Transcends star ratings
The absolute worst movie ever -- and one of the most enjoyable to watch with a group of friends. Produced for peanuts by the infamous Ed Wood, "Plan 9" is an epic tale of grave robbers from outer space. With an all-star cast of has-beens including Tor Johnson, Bela Lugosi, Vampira and the aptly-named Dudley Manlove, this is Ed Wood's undisputed masterpiece.

Mean Girls (Mark Waters, 2004) *** out of *****
A surprisingly decent movie that takes a good, hard look at the modern high school girl and the culture that surrounds them. Funny, charming and brilliant at times, it's a well-written teen-bopper of the highest caliber.

Hellboy (Guillermo Del Toro, 2004) **** out of *****
A fantastically faithful adaptation of the cult-favorite Mike Mignola graphic novels, "Hellboy" is a stylistically slick fantasy brimming with colorful characters and awesome monsters. Ron Perlman is perfectly cast as the stoic Hellboy, a demonic paranormal investigator. One of my more recent favorites.

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975) ***** out of *****
Simply put, the film is perfect. One of the most enjoyable flicks out there, period. I love this movie to death, and it shall remain in my top ten 'til the day I die. "You go in the cage. Cage goes in the water. Shark's in the water ... our shark."

The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen, 1998)
**** out of *****
One of the most subtly, genuinely funny films in decades, "The Big Lebowski" tells the endearing tale of a middle-aged slacker, his two best bowling buddies and the rug that "really tied the room together." The Coen brothers' subtle wit shines here in every scene, and the film is bursting at the seams with memorable lines and characters. A movie that warrants multiple viewings for sure.

Apocalypto (Mel Gibson, 2006)
***½ out of *****
Finally got around to watching Gibson's innovative and interesting chase-movie, set in South America during the rise of the Mayan empire. A culturally submersive action film, "Apocalypto" features some excellent cinematography and stunning imagery. Novel for its original theme and setting -- not completely remarkable in every aspect, but a fine piece of work from director Gibson.

The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis, 1955) **** out of *****
I had the distinct pleasure of seeing this lost noir classic on the big screen at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). This is a clear-cut, straight-forward film noir gumshoe flick with strong performances and some phenomenal camerawork. There's also an interesting subplot involving two gay hitmen, though it's not totally apparent at first.

Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess, 2004)
*** out of *****
You know, I'll admit it: when this movie was first released, I loved the hell out of it. I thought it was hilarious. But the odd novelty of its humor was ruined when every high schooler spent the following year repeating lines like "Gosh!" and "Frickin' idiot!" over and over and over again. So, I hadn't watched the film in a good two years. Suffice to say, it wasn't nearly as funny as that first time in the empty mall theater -- but it holds up surprisingly well.

Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994) ***** out of *****
A top-ten favorite of mine. This is Tarantino's masterpiece; an expertly blended crime drama brimming with memorable characters and comedic situations. It's sick and twisted, for sure -- and yet it's one of the most purely enjoyable films out there. Sam Jackson makes the film, while John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Amanda Plummer and Seth Roth all supply great performances.

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972) ***** out of *****
A stirring epic, "The Godfather" follows the rise and near-fall of the powerful Corleone family.This is a pitch-perfect, amazingly re-watchable drama, one that sucessfully balances the family and business lives of Don Vito Corleone and his son, Michael. Marlon Brando gives the most iconic performance of his career, and young Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall all turn excellent work. One of my all-time favorites -- an American classic.



Oldboy (Chan-Wook Park, 2003) ****½ out of *****
An intense and gripping story of vengeance and redemption. Though it does follow a typical "revenge story" plot progression, the film retains its originality through a few incredibly jarring twists and turns. One of my recent favorites, for sure.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Gore Verbinski, 2007) ***½ out of *****
A fitting end to the trilogy, and a much better-made film that "Dead Man's Chest." The plot is tighter, the action is cooler and the laughs are less campy. It's pretty far from perfect, and the first film is still superior, but "At World's End" is still a great summer popcorn flick. Hell, I enjoyed it infinitely more than "Spider-Man 3."

Spider-Man 3 (Sam Raimi, 2007) **½ out of *****
A fun-filled superhero flick, for sure. Still, though ... I found myself tragically disappointed. Too many characters and loose subplots spread the story too thin, and transparent characters contrast starkly with Raimi's developed villains of the first two films. Not at all what it could have been, but I enjoyed it for what it was.

Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962) ***** out of *****
I had the sincerest pleasure of seeing the glorious 70mm print of this film at the Cinerama, my favorite theater in the world. This is not an experience I will soon forget. Breathtaking, simply breathtaking.



Next (Lee Tamahori, 2007) *½ out of *****
Nicolas Cage really, really, really needs to pull himself out of this terrible rut he's dug for himself. My respect for him is steadily declining. Review

Vacancy (Nimród Antal, 2007) **½ out of *****
Well, it was certainly scary for about 20 minutes ... but it left me wanting a lot more. The opening and ending were pretty terrible, but the middle portion was surprisingly good. Decent flick. Review

Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) **** out of *****
I'm not sure if this one will be as memorable and re-watchable as its predecessor, "Shaun of the Dead," was, but dammit if it wasn't ridiculously fun and hilarious. I hope the "Shaun" team continues producing comedies for many years to come -- they're priceless.

Escape from New York (John Carpenter, 1981) **** out of *****
I'm pretty sure the pure awesomeness of this film can be illustrated perfectly in two lines of dialog. "You gonna kill me now, Snake?" "I'm too tired. Maybe Later." Badass.

Westworld (Michael Chrichton, 1973) **** out of *****
What would happen if "The Terminator" and "Jurassic Park" mated? I'm pretty sure the result would be something like the fantastically awesome "Westworld." Great, great flick.

Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974) ***** out of *****
I still can't decide which is my favorite film noir of all time: this or "The Maltese Falcon."

Deja Vu (Tony Scott, 2006) *** out of *****
A surprisingly strong action thriller. I'm not the biggest Tony Scott fan ("Domino" was nearly unwatchable), but this film isn't bogged down with over-stylization or hyper-active camera work. The premise is a bit too far-fetched for my liking, and the explanation is pretty shoddy -- but the last hour or so of this film is pretty intense. I was pleasantly surprised. Review

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966) ***** out of *****
This timeless film is quite easily the best western of all time, and it holds a firm place in my top ten movies of all time. Better with each viewing, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" is Leone at his very best -- fantastic camera work, compelling characters, intense gunfights ... This film is simply perfect. Cinema at its finest.

Grindhouse (Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez, 2007) ****½ out of *****
A sick, twisted and immeasurably fun theater experience. Two awesome flicks for the price of one ... you just can't beat it. Review



TMNT (Kevin Munroe, 2007) **** out of *****
As a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, going back into my early childhood, "TMNT" is a surprisingly great installment in the Turtles franchise. Slick visuals and smooth animation give this flick a fantastic look, and top-notch voice-work is the icing on the cake. Can't wait for the inevitable sequel. Review

300 (Zack Snyder, 2007) ****½ out of *****
My favorite film of the year thus far. A gratuitously violent and hyper stylistic adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel, "300" is an intensely enjoyable action flick of the highest caliber. A definite must-see. Review

Blake Snake Moan (Craig Brewer, 2007) ***½ out of *****
A bluesy, ballsy hell of a good time. The superb soundtrack and fantastic performances really shine here -- one of the first great films of 2007. Review



Reno 911!:Miami (2007) *** out of *****
The cops of Reno take to the streets of Miami in this mockumentary-style big-screen adaptation of the Comedy Central television series. Hilariously crude humor and some charming cameo appearances by The Rock, Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt make this movie worth a viewing.

Ghost Rider (Mark Steven Johnson, 2007) **½ out of *****
Ugh. One of the weaker comic book films to date, slightly ahead of "Fantastic Four" but miles behind "Batman Begins." Nicolas Cage is horribly miscast, and he spends a majority of the film horribly defacing the character. A few entertaining bits and cool special effects keep it from truly tanking. Review

Hannibal Rising (Peter Webber, 2007) ** out of *****
Hollywood manages, once again, to take a truly frightening character and reduce it down to a dull origin film. The weakest installment in the Hannibal franchise, by far. Review



Smokin' Aces (Joe Carnahan, 2007) **½ out of *****
A terribly sterile action film. Disappointing in almost every aspect. Dull, boring, slow-paced and brimming with a score of useless characters who succeed at nothing other than being killed. Could have been a stylistically cool action flick, and at times, it seems like it's going to be ... just not enough action to keep this flounder afloat. Review


* Note: List is incomplete due to lateness of inception.


  1. I'm excited! This is a way cool idea. You're pretty much awesome.

    And I LOVE your thought of the day. I laughed my ass off.

  2. Oh, come now! Smokin' Aces was great! It delivered everything it promised: senseless action for 1 3/4 hours.


All comments are strictly moderated by this blog's administrator. Obscene, hateful, or otherwise offensive comments will not be tolerated. Racist, sexist, or homophobic remarks have no place on this blog. Spam will be promptly reported and deleted. For more information on R#09's moderation policies, please check the FAQs.