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26Jul/04Off

Double Header Movie Review

Since I was frustrated by server problems this weekend, this weekend was a double movie weekend: I went out to see both The Bourne Supremacy and Catwoman. So today you get two brief reviews for the price of one.

The Bourne SupremacyMatt Damon returns in his role as Jason Bourne, a government assassin who is suffering from amnesia. There probably is more back story, but since most of the movie is about the revelation of a small part of the back story, it hardly matters. Bourne was hiding in India, and his cover has been blown. He needs to found out who blew his cover and why. And, to use a tired cliche, this time it's personal.

The plot is actually rather thin in my opinion, but it's pretty well done. There were a couple of things that bothered me: the intelligence operatives move between Moscow, Naples and Berlin seemingly instantaneously and with little rationale, and the entire Russian connection is pretty thin. The plot ultimately reveals very little about Bourne and why he became what he is.

But what the film does have is slickly photographed action and stunt work. While Carmen found the heavy use of hand held cameras to be nauseating, I thought they added a certain gritty realism. In thinking back, it actually probably resembles the kind of imagery you'd expect from high speed video games. I couldn't help thinking that they had a pretty high budget for wrecking Mercedes though. Maybe they should be my next car: if this movie is any indication, they can really take a licking and keep on ticking.

I'd give this movie a solid 7/10 rating. If the plot were a bit more engaging, it could have been quite a bit higher. It generates excitement but not any real tension, which I think is an essential part of the thriller/spy genre, at least when they are at their best.

CatwomanThe always lovely Oscar Winner Halle Berry stars in Catwoman: another summer superhero adventure. Berry plays Patience Prince, a young artist working for an advertising agency who stumbles upon (surprise, suprise) an evil plot. She is killed, but is magically resurrected by a cat, and afterwards suffers a kind of split personality: half the time she is the meek Patience, the other half, Catwoman.

While other reviews have been pretty harsh on this movie, I found lots to like about it. First, Halle shows off considerable skill (we'll get to what else she shows off later) in her feline portrayal. She really does act like a feline: in the way she stretches, moves and walks. I think she does a great job with a rather thin premise.

Ironically, all that grinds to a halt when she dons her final Catwoman costume. First of all, it is just a terrible design. It looks like something a prostitute might wear if you gave her enough money, but most of them would have better sense. Combined with a comical rather than sexy "lead with the pelvis" walk, it makes you lose all sense that she is either a cat or dangerous. It's simply too over the top.

Sadly, it also suffers from a certain amount of computer-generated silliness: later scenes have a great deal of CG, and most of it has her running, jumping and stretching in a very unconvincing fashion. It looks too rubbery. Spiderman suffers a bit from this malady, but they were obviously trying to play this up even more. I hesitate to say this, but while computer generated imagery is fashionable (and probably cost effective) they do not often help the overall believability when pushed to these extremes.

Despite these shortcomings, I still enjoyed the movie. I'll give it a 6/10. It's fluff, it's not really great, but it's fun enough. If you must see it, catch it in a matinee.

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26Jul/04Off

Praying Mantis!

Mantis!As I was wandering into the house this evening, I opened my front door, looked down and saw the fellow on your right on my shoulder. After I stopped screaming like a cheerleader, I fetched my digital camera and tried to snatch some digital photos of him, of which this one was the best. It's hard to photograph an insect that moves around with something that really wants to autofocus. He was probably about three inches long, but when you see him on your shoulder staring at you, he seems much bigger.

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