Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

Every year we take the family out to a movie on the day after Thanksgiving. Usually Disney has some offering that the whole family can enjoy. This year the offerings of Cat in the Hat and Brother Bear we not on anyone’s list. The kids were interested in seeing Looney Tunes but alas it was not playing anymore at the local theater in Palestine where we gathered for Thanksgiving. So we gave up.

Once back in town, we found a theater that was playing it and took just our kids. I resisted going to this movie. Memories of Rocky and Bullwinkie and Space Jam still fresh in my mind.

Boy was I pleasantly surprised. This movie had a plot for the adults and enough slapstick for the kids. This movie really caught the essence of the humor in the old Looney Tunes, brought it up to date, and did so without vulgarity and innuendo of other movies. The movie even makes fun of its own P.C. values. Bugs Bunny is told that a Cross-Dressing rabbit is a little bit creepy now-a-days.

Brendan Frasier is funny – he makes fun of himself without getting into his George of the Jungle act. Many other cameos are to be seen like Heather Locklear, Timothy Dalton, Joan Cusack, Robert Picardo (Voyager Doctor) and Ron Pearman (Beauty and the Beast).

Jenna Elfman (Darma & Greg) did ok in the lead female role. She kind of creaps me out because she looks and sounds like Jamie Lee Curtis.

Steve Martin plays the main bad guy in a very over-the-top (The Jerk) fashion that works. He’s the head of Acme Corporation. At his disposal are a cast of baddies from every B Sci-Fi movie you can think of – think Roger Corman and The Brain that Wouldn’t Die. Robbie the Robot even shows up.
I recommend this movie, at least as a matinee to any adult who grew up in front of Bugs and Daffy — especially if you are a Marvin the Martian fan.

Matrix: Reloaded & Revolutions (2003)

I just got back from seeing The Matrix Revolutions. I did not write up The Matrix Reloaded when it cam out so I guess I can talk about both movies. No such review would be complete without referring to the original movie.

I was slow to see The Matrix when it originally came out in 1999. I first saw it as a bootleg MPEG file before seeing it in the theater. I watched it again later when it came out out on DVD. I liked the movie but do not consider myself finanical about it. I liked the hacker stuff. I also liked all the subtle and not so subtle references to things like Alice in Wonderland. Matrix is of course best known for its computer special effects.

When I heard of the sequels I was excited because they were filmed back-to-back. I knew they would have to out-do themselves. They could not just use bullet time. The audience would want more. In anticipation for the new movies, there were also a series of animated shorts called the Animatrix. These shorts were excellent. Watching these shorts later gave better insight into the coming movies. There was also a video game called Enter the Matrix which included over an hour of new video which further gave you backstory. I have not played this game.

Upon seeing Matrix Reloaded I was impressed with the special effects. They had gone beyond bullet time. The climatic freeway chase is incredible and pushes the boundary of computer special effects. On the other end of the spectrum is a fight scene between Neo and Agent Smith where Smith keeps making copies of himself. Neo fights 10, 50, and then hundreds of copies of himself. The fight scene starts off good. It has some humor in it but as the fight progresses, it begins to look more like a video game than a movie. In the end, it looked so cartoonish as to not really keep ones interest. The action actually became tedious. There were references to ghosts and vampires. It would have been good for them to follow that theme a bit more. The movie has a pretty good story and comes to a satisfactory conclusion before leaving us with a cliffhanger. I have come to enjoy the movie a bit more now that it is out on DVD.

With The Matrix Revolutions, I had hoped that the series could redeem itself from its sophmore stumble. The movie promises to resolve the conflict between man and machine. Since there have only been 6 months since the previous movie, there is not much change in the state-of-the-art. The special effects in the third movie are less impressive than the second. A climatic fight scene takes place at night and in the rain. This must have been done to make it easier to hide the special effects. There was no plot explaination for the rain. The movie did feature minor characters more than the previous movies. This was good. Jada Pinket Smith’s character was especially interesting. Another thing that I liked was the APCs. They were shown in the second movie but we get to see them in action in the third.

If you generally enjoyed the first two movies, you may want to give the third one a pass at a matinee. If you did not like the first Matrix, there’s nothing new here to attract you to the sequels.

Underworld (2003)

This movie had a lot of promise. The case looked good. The special effects are excellent. The story broke down for me when the movie failed to follow its own movie logic. The movie is about a war between Vampires and Warewolves. You have to have suspension of disbelief right there.

That being said, this was probably the best Hungarian/German/American film I have ever seen. I cannot think of another but since they are making a sequel, I’ll have another movie for comparison.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

I saw this last week and was very impressed. The storyline was not what I expected, but every bit of a big budget picture. I was not disappointed at all. I was anticipating a cookie-cutter story, but was very entertained by the realistic approach. I recommend it as a well done realistic epic period piece.

I saw this at a screening on the 20th Century Fox Studios lot where Peter Weir (the director) introduced the picture. It was pretty exciting for those of you interested in a little more background on this picture