Wednesday, September 5, 2007

From the Archive: Summer 2007 Review Round-up Feature (Die Hard 4, Ratatouille, and Sunshine)

Welcome to The Archive, a comprehensive collection of reviews dating back to 2007, originally written for The Denver Post’s YourHub.Com website and print edition!  In the archive, you’ll find hundreds of movie, DVD, Blu-Ray, and TV reviews, along with other special features.  You can access the complete Archive Collection by clicking here, and read about the archive project by clicking here. 

This is a special feature I published in the summer of 2007 to round-up brief reviews of several movies I hadn't yet written about.  

Continue reading after the jump to access my 2007 "Summer Movie Review Round-Up"

From the Jonathan R. Lack Review Archives:
"Summer Review Round-Up”
Originally published September 5th, 2007

There have been a lot of movies this summer.  A LOT.  It’s been busy, trying to pump out reviews for all of them, but alas, some of them got caught in the current and I never got the chance to scribble up a review for them.  With the end of the summer movie season here, it’s time to rectify that.  Here are some brief reviews of 3 movies that re-define the respective genres they belong to.

Live Free or Die Hard
Film Rating: A-

It’s been 12 years since John McClane last graced the silver screen, and when a period of time that long has passed, it would seem like a bad idea to do another sequel.  But the rules of the world don’t really matter in the Die Hard series, and John defies all logic, pumping out what is, in my opinion, the most satisfying sequel of the year.  Packed to the gills with action sequences that literally left me on the edge of my seat and breathless, Live Free or Die Hard reminds us what a real action movie is.  While modern action movies use huge special effects and giant battles to impress us, Live Free or Die Hard goes back to the basics of the genre; the basics defined by the original Die Hard.

It’s all about coming up with a good, solid plot, filling it with scenarios that seem impossible to escape from, and then having the main hero defy the odds and get out.  From the first action scene in an apartment to a scene in which John takes on an F-35 jet using a truck, Live Free or Die Hard succeeds in every area.  Bruce Willis’ choice of movies has not been brilliant as of late, but this movie shows he’s still got it.

Film Rating: A

In my opinion, Pixar is the only studio still pumping out first-rate animated films.  Disney, Dreamworks and Fox seem to have forgotten what a good animated film is, but Pixar is always on the ball.  I didn’t much care for “The Incredibles” (though I think I’m the only person on the planet with that opinion) but Ratatouille just might be the best Pixar film yet, and one my favorite overall films of the year.  Ratatouille takes animated movie back to their core; a good story about a young hero who must go through an experience that will change his life, as well as the people around him.  In Ratatouille, Remy the rat does this, and the result is an animated film that not only feels genuine, but also feels more akin to the classic animated films like Aladdin and The Lion King then to the modern animated era.

The humor never resorts to being gross for laughs; it’s all very sophisticated, but with some levels of humor that will makes kids laugh too.  The whole movie is like this; layered.  There are some layers of the film that kids will love, but also layers that teens and adults will enjoy.  That’s what a real animated film does.  Little kids watching it now will find more to experience in it as they get older, making it timeless.  Ratatouille is as close as it gets to a perfect animated film.

Film Rating: A

I kind of doubt most of you reading this know what Sunshine is, but that’s why I’m here to help.  Sunshine is an end-of-the-world sci-fi story about a crew of eight astronauts who must go and re-ignite the earth’s dying sun.  At face value, this doesn’t seem like a very original concept, but the movie executes this premise so originally that you quickly forget this.  Sunshine dispenses with what other films in the genre have done, and starts in space.  There’s no hour-long opening on earth where they get ready to launch.  The movie just starts near the end of the voyage, and traces the crew’s journey to the epic finale.  It never cuts back to show what its like on Earth, and it gives the movie a creepy, claustrophobic feel.  You won’t realize it at first, but about halfway through, you’ll find that you’re scared out of you’re wits. 

The acting is brilliant.  The cinematography is inspired.  The music is haunting.  The effects are awe-inspiring.  The plot is full of great twists and turns.  But the thing that REALLY sets Sunshine apart from other movie in the end-of-the-world genre is the science of the space vehicle.  It feels so real.  Every doubt you’d have about astronauts being able to get to the sun is addressed, but the movie doesn’t have long exposition scenes.  Instead, it lets you figure out what’s going on.  The movie absolutely nails the believability factory, and all the other cubes fall into place to make a movie that is lightyears ahead of the competition. 

Let’s put it this way: since seeing the movie, I haven’t been able to go outside and look at the sunlight without being reminded of this film. 

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