Watchers by Dean Koontz (****)

Dean Koontz is a great storyteller. I was instroduced to him by a friend (it was her favorite author) a long time ago but did not pick it up until recently and now two of his books occupy spots in my top 5. I never thought that he could top Intensity in my book, but Watchers is a book that to me is a masterpiece of modern literature.

The book explores humanity in a way I have not seen in many books. It uses situations to not only illustrate characters personalities but also mirror them. I am also sure that this book like great songs can have different meaning to different people.

I believe that change is the center theme of the book. The characters transform their inner core value and ways of looking at the world. At times these aspect of the book seems more fictional that the actual genetic manipulation plot. It is scary at times to even consider that our lives are not being life to the fullest and that there is no one else to blame but ourselves.

The love story in the book is not only beautiful but also patient. In a time where dating seems like a romanticized idea from long ago, it makes courtship seem appealing once again. In the time of hook ups and my space it brings a nice to the word relationship.

Another impressive facet of the book is the strong African American character in the book. I was very please with the way his character was explored. It was amazing how accurate the sense of almost innate desperation to prove yourself because of the color or your skin was portrayed. I was also glad that everyone in the end realized that family in the end is the most important thing in life.

Koontz explored God in this book in a subtle way. It was more of a theological discussion about human responsibility than an actual religions statement. It is probably the only thing in the book that kind of let me wanting a little more. I personally believe that responsibility when it comes to research should be looked at from many angles. There is no clear answer to all the moral and ethical questions that genetic research raises.

The characters were all very likeable, the flow of the book was excellent, and I believe that everyone can take a little piece of self-improvement from the change in all of the characters. I believe everyone should read this book, just be warned that by the end of it you might want a brand new puppy.

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Ultraviolet (*)

It is a good thing that I was not a fan of the comic before I went to watch this movie or this review would have been a lot more bitter. Ultraviolet makes you wonder why there is not someone reviewing projects so that the money is saved for the future instead of making a mediocre movie about the future. Director Kurt Wimmer is not to blame for the whole movie, even though I did expect a lot more from the guy that directed Equilibrium, one of my favorite movies in the genre.

Mike Smith was the stunt coordinator for both movies and I was very disappointed by his work here. There was nothing innovative about the martial arts at all. The sword fighting was mediocre at best. My biggest complaint in this department was the implied fighting. When they used this technique the first time, I went “ok, that’s cool.” after that I was almost ready to yell at the screen, “where is the action? How did the killing happen?” While I get that maybe it was supposed to give you a comic book sense, it kind of failed.

The special effects were another mess. I think they ran out of budget during the movie, some of the effects looked very well done and blended with the movie, others gave me a sense of Saturday morning cartoon, Power Ranger kind of feel. Don’t get me wrong, some of it was done very well, the guns and other technology looked good, but then having the last scene being picked apart by my 9 year old as crappy tells you how bad it was. I hate comparing it to Equilibrium, but since both of them have a similar futuristic theme I have to. Equilibrium did not have the best effect either, but they help they story along instead of making you stop and think how crappy they are.

The story was the only thing that you can save here. However they had a comic book to borrow it from. I would love to hear from a fan of the series to see how true to the comic they were. I loved the fact that they did not let you know from the very beginning that this was a movie that had vampires. I felt that was done well.

I would not even recommend you rent this movie. I think that after paying Jovovich to star in the movie they did not have enough money to finish the film effects. If you want to be entertained rent Equilibrium.

*Update*

From The WikiPedia

Screen Gems edited the film from its original length of 120 minutes to 88 minutes, against the wishes of director Kurt Wimmer. He was quite angry with this, and many fans agree that this decision lowered the quality of the film significantly.

It might be worth the wait to see the director’s cut, because to me the film just seemed like a mess.

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Ultraviolet.

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Zathura (****)

Based on the best-selling book by the acclaimed children’s writer Chris Van Allsburg (“The Polar Express,” “Jumanji”), Zathura is a heart-racing sci-fi adventure about two squabbling brothers who are propelled into deepest, darkest space while playing a mysterious game they discovered in the basement of their old house. (Sony Pictures)

Most of the children’s movies that I have seen in recent years seem to want to cater to the adults with a lot of humor that either relates to pop culture, other movies or sexual innuendos. I understand the business mentality behind it, but I think we are giving our children an inferior product when we go to a movie that entertains us more than them. At times I feel like children’s movies have forgotten about the kids all together. Movies like The Sandlot, The Bad News Bears (I cannot wait to see the what they did with the remake), or even E.T. seem to be a thing of the past. I was very excited when I first saw a preview of Zathura and really wanted it to be a good movie, but I was cautious not to see it with over inflated expectations.

Zathura is unrealistic and unapologetic about it. It is predictable and far-fetched… and, I loved every second of it. I have not seen a children’s movie this good in years. The movie uses imagination as a central theme and all the characters really help deliver a great story. The kids that were cast fit the roles perfectly.

The special effects were believable and fit the movie while not making graphics a centerpiece of the movie. The overall message of being nice to your siblings came shinning through as well as parents not having enough time for their kids. Tim Robbins was excellent as the father even though he was only in the movie for the introduction of the characters but he really help set the kids on the roles they would play throughout the movie. The humor was great, the laughs kept on coming and it felt like a true story.

I love movies that stimulate the imagination of kids in today’s era where videogames and movies at times seem to corral the imagination of kids to confined spaces. I also think that a lot of producers can learn from this movie that adults still have children inside of them and they can reach that adult or teen audience if they have a great product like this movie. I did not have the pleasure of reading the original book but I can only hope that the movie captured the magic. I not only recommend you watch this movie but I urge you to buy the DVD. If you don’t have kids it still makes a great gift.

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Zathura.

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Equilibrium (****)

Some of the best movies I have watched have been recommendations by friends. In some cases those films that did not have any commercial success but still become “cult” classics by simple word of mouth. My best example is the Boondock Saints, a movie that most people that watch it instantly love but was never released in the theaters (more here). I had not heard of Equilibrium until one of my motorcycle friends used a picture from the movie as his avatar. The picture was a guy in a very cool looking white suit holding two guns in an almost martial art like stance. I was intrigued and after asking my friend about it he said it was a must see.

Expectations were not super high, but I did want to see some awesome gunfights. I love John Woo kind of action, so I expected something similar. As the movie began, I started to realize that this was not your typical action flick; it had some images that set the tone for an almost political history channel documentary about the 20th century. Then without slowing the movie too much the the background story is presented. Then the action begins and makes you wish the gunfights would never stop.

The movie makes you think- something I love about any movie. I don’t want to give away too much, but lets just say that it deals with the promise of a perfect society. This futuristic theme has been explored in many movies, but I like the way Equilibrium did it because it really dug into the fundamental thing that makes us human.

The acting was very good. Of the roles that I have seen Christian Bale play, I would say this is the best. I think he did an ok job with Batman begins, but at times he was more of a supporting actor to Liam Neeson in any scene they were together. Bale leads in this movie and does it well. Another good actor is his son in the movie; Matthew Harbour does an excellent job with a character that would have been challenging to most adult actors.

This was not a huge budget movie, and I think most of the budget was spent on the gunfights. It was money well spent because they are all very engaging. The overall scenery works, but it is not a wow factor. The rest of the special effects are not the best, but they help tell the story. Overall the story and drama are the true center stone of the movie and make it work. I think everyone should watch it, and even though it is a little sci-fi don’t let that turn you off. Go rent this movie today you will not regret it.


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Equilibrium.
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Catwoman (*)

Actors have to eat too, that is what I kept on telling myself while I watched this cat box that needed a litter change really bad. The only thing that I thought was somewhat salvageable was the work done by the stunt doubles. Maybe not, there is a possibility that it was all CGI.

I am not sure if the animators were actually proud of their work or not. If I was Halle Berry I would have been insulted by having so much of what I did be CGI work. I mean even a scene where she is just walking down a ledge was clearly CGI work. It was so bad that I spent more time trying to see if a scene was real or not.

Where to begin, it is hard to just start dealing with my anger at this movie, it must be done or I will not be at peace with the ‘movie fairy’. I am quite convinced that this movie was clearly green lighted by a movie troll.

Comic book movies have started flooding the silver screen. I have been very happy with most of the recent renditions from both Marvel and DC. This movie, however, shows us why sometimes a screenplay can be totally butchered and make nonsense out of an otherwise likable character. I am sure someone will come and tell me that this Catwoman was based on something other than the super villain from DC comics. Please don’t waste server space, and do not try to make it more shameful for the actors that had to deal with this piece of work.

I would have to write another review to fit in my thougths on the director and how much he really stinks like cat feces. I will however mention that the camera work was horrendous and his frantic use of angles that did not show any distinguishable action made it difficult to follow the movie. At the same time this could have been just the lead animator’s decision who should probably shared direction credit since more than half of the movie looked like it was CGI.

Lambert Wilson who by the way was born in France, and can be also see in the last two Matrix movies as the Merovingian did a dismal job trying to have a British accent. I am not sure if anyone from Great Britain will be annoyed by something like this, but I do get annoyed when I see actors portraying Colombians in a movie who are obviously of other nationalities. Their use of words never used in the Colombian flavor of Spanish makes me a little irritable because I am sure there are plenty of Colombians that could have played the part as I am sure that there was plenty of British actors that could have played the character in this movie.

Halle Berry is an excellent actress. Even thought at times I have questioned her sanity for some of the roles she has played, she does manage to always make the character the best it can be. This time I am sorry to say that she could not do much to fix the one bipolar nonsense that was Catwoman’s and Patience’s personality. I never even got a clear picture of whether one personality had any sense of the other… the whole plot did not help the story at all, it was just confusing.

Sharon Stone could have almost saved the day, but her lines were so badly written to be predictable that a Max Headroom version of her could have done the job just as well. Benjamin Bratt has never made my best list actors, but I’ve never had much expectation. He did however play an ok cop, but come on after years being a TV cop it would be difficult for him to mess up. He also stinks of cat poo since I blame him for letting them put a LIP PRINT as the evidence for linking Catwoman to Patience.

I do have to make an honorable mention here. This is what makes this movie a one star instead of a zero. Midnight, the at times CGI but sometimes real Egyptian Mau was the best actor in the whole movie.


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