Movie Reviews 27

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
This is the movie that made star Simon Pegg a household name and came along just as the Zombie revival craze was starting up (and is still stronger than ever even now). What set it apart from most of the other zombie flicks preceding it was that it was a comedy, and a darn funny one at that. Shaun is a loser in a dead end job and who has just lost his girlfriend because he practically lives at the local watering hole with his good and even more useless, ever-farting buddy Ed. Overnight, a zombie infestation wreaks havoc around the globe and Shaun hardly notices as he follows his morning routine. When he and Ed finally wake up to the fact that there is a zombie infestation, Shaun makes plans to save his mom and the girlfriend that jilted him. Thus begins an journey through the streets of London where Shaun manages to rescue his mom, step-dad, girlfriend and her two friends. There are plenty of Zombie gags and assortment of other mishaps and miscues that bring the entire gang back to the very same watering hole Shaun always ends up in. But all the fun aside, Shaun learns a lot about his family, friends and his girlfriend. The movie even ends with a happy note despite the fact that most of the group don’t manage to avoid the Zombies.

Double Indemnity (1944)
A friend on a message board suggested that everyone try to watch a particular movie all at the same time so that we could have a groups discussion about the same movie all at once. He picked the classic film-noir Double Indemnity as the first movie to critique. Now I had seen this movie years before when I regularly indulged in PBS and TV Ontario public TV classic movies. I recalled I enjoyed it immensely back then, but aside from the basic movie plot, I didn’t remember much so it was a pleasure to watch it once again. The story is about an insurance salesman, Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), who meets Phyllis, a pretty young wife (Barbara Stanwyck) of one of his clients who non-nonchalantly suggests that she may be plotting to kill her husband in order to recoup his life insurance. He first tells her that not only does he not want to be part of any such scheme, but that he knows that such plans never work out, especially under the vigilance of insurance investigators like his own boss, Barton Keys (Edward G. Robinson), who can sniff out a setup with just a whiff of something out of the ordinary. But as Walter falls for Phyllis, he begins to rationalize murdering her husband, and based on his very knowledge of what he knows will or will not illicit suspicion, sets a plan in motion that he believes will work. Who better than an insurance man to know what investigators will look for? Better yet, his plan entails invoking a double indemnity clause by staging an accidental death. The plan is executed with precision and initially even the mighty senses of Barton dismisses any notion of foul play by the wife. But is the plan really foolproof? This exceptional movie not only boasts the direction of the great Billy Wilder, but also his screenplay writing abilities. The smaller roles doting the scenes are integral to the story as are many of the smaller details. There are a few red herrings thrown in, but viewers will have to wait until the very end to see where the plan failed. One of those movies where everything is just perfect.

Salt (2010)
Angelina Jolie is not just a pretty face and has made some pretty good movies. Unfortunately Salt is not one of them. It starts out interestingly enough with Salt (Jolie) who is a CIA spy interviewing a man claiming to be a defector. While being interviewed, he tells a strange tale of a girl brought up in Russia, raised as a spy and who has been planted in the US. Naturally, he then claims that Salt is that double spy. He also says that Salt will kill the president of Russia in the coming days as the dignitary visits for a state funeral. While denying it all, she makes a spectacular escape ostensibly to rescue her husband who she cannot contact and suspects has been abducted. The movie plays with the question as to whether she really is the double spy or not, but she clearly knows more than she let on. With the exception of her partner, the CIA believes that she is a double spy. While some of her actions support this, other things she does lead one to believe that she is good. Heavy on action to story is a little dry even with an out-of-the-blue twist ending. In the end, it’s just not all that satisfying. But if all you want to see is Jolie and some action, its OK I guess. Just don’t expect more than that.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)
I think pretty much everyone was surprised when this movie was even announced coming so soon on the heals of the failed Ang Lee 2003 The Hulk movie, a mere blink in time by Hollywood standards. I guess the guys at Universal realized that the first movie could have been so much better and considered it a missed opportunity and decided they were going have another go at it to correct the mistakes of the first. So first they hire some top notch acting talent to replace the original cast. Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William Hurt. Heavy guns to be sure. Things are looking good so far. Then they hire Zak Penn to write the damn thing. Zak Penn? Zak Penn who’s writing credits include Elektra, an abomination of a movie that I still struggle with given how great the character and actress (Jennifer Garner) nearly stole Daredevil. Zak Penn who also wrote X Men Last Stand. Zak Penn who wrote Last Action Hero and Inspector Gadget. So you know where this is going. I will admit that the movie was slightly better than The Hulk, but only barely so. The Hulk CGI that looked so cartoonish in the first movie was only slightly better here. The plot which takes place immediately sometime after the first movie in which David Banner is living in South America and continuing research on reversing the effects of the gamma ray which lead to his situation. The military is still chasing him down and also working with another similar super soldier serum. But someone gets to anxious with the new serum and all of sudden the world has to deal with the Hulk and The Abomination another hulk-like creature.

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