Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The first Indiana Jones movie in 19 years is also better than the second and third, is the most action-packed movie in years, and surpasses its predecessors in humor and action. It doesn’t have the classic aura of the first, but it’s fast-paced and definetely isn’t a letdown. And, at least for me, surpassed expectations. And boy, were they high.

Indiana Jones is a franchise amongst the likes of Star Wars in respect and entertainment, and although Harrison Ford is 65, he looks almost exactly like he did in the third one, and in fact has more stuntwork to do here. Steven Spielberg is the best director of all time, and he’s still in prime form here. Unfortunately, the best actress around, Cate Blanchett, has almost nothing to do here as a bad guy (or gal), although her Russian accent is hilarious.

Set in 1957, Indiana Jones is kidnapped by the Russians along with his partner Mac. They want him to help them find a crystal skull, that has psychic powers that make people do what others desire. Mac betrays Indy for the Russians, but Indy escapes to find the Crystal Skull.

Indy meets a young greaser named Mutt, and they decide to find the Crystal Skull together. Along the way a professor and Indy’s old girlfriend tag along, and she has shocking news for Indy…Can they find the Crystal Skull before the Russians do?

The plot isn’t much, but it gives way for some hilarious action sequences. It plays on our old nostalgia for the old movies, and don’t worry – they didn’t mess up the franchise at all. They actually improved it. Vastly. A

Speed Racer

I had a curious experience while seeing Speed Racer. I saw it in IMAX, and it broke down twice. The first time, the managers came out and gave my friends and I popcorn and a Speed Racer poster. The second time it broke down they gave us a free pass to any movie we desire and our money back. So no, I didn’t see the whole thing, but I’ll judge from the 2 hours I did see.

Speed Racer (yes thats his name) is a very talented race-car driver (shock!), and in fact that’s just about his only talent. His family is known for racing, his famous brother died in the dangerous Casa Cristo race, and his girlfriend Trixie isn’t too bad at racing herself.

Speed becomes very famous, so when corrupt industry owner Mr. Royalton shows up and offers him a deal with his company and Speed refuses, Mr. Royalton promises Speed that he will never finish a race again, and enlists many henchman to kill him on the track. Speed gets help in the form of a mysterious rival named Racer X, along the way. Can Speed win the Casa Cristo and expose Mr. Royalton’s corruption?

Words cannot describe how terrible this movie is. In fact, I even thanked the theater for the refund, it was so terrible. The dialogue is wooden, the plot is stupid, and although many great actors star in this movie, none act convincingly. It is a shame, as the Wachowski Brothers (directors) are very talented people, and amongst my favorite directors. The only good thing about the movie is the visual effects. The colors pop in every way, and the races are cool and entertaining. Unfortunately, the actual racing only takes up about 15 minutes out of 140.

So, rest assured that Speed Racer is the worst film so far this year, and rest assured that I won’t see it again if anyone pays me. F

What Happens in Vegas

Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz are charming and hilarious as two strangers who get hitched in Vegas – and must live together by rule of a judge. These two stars have great chemistry together and it’s hilarious to see them go at each other with fury.

Jack is a carpenter who slacks off alot, and subsequently fired from his job. Joy is a stockbroker who is very coordinated and uptight, and is subsequently dumped by her fiancee. Both heartbroken people decide to go to Vegas, where they meet and drunkenly get married. When they wake up they discover how much they hate each other.

Jack steals Joy’s quarter and puts it in a slot machine, and wins $3 million. They argue over which should get it, and then a judge sentences them to forced marriage for 6 months, and if either person is deemed not working on their marriage the other gets the money. They both scheme of ways to get the money, and the results are hilarious.

This is a huge twist on the average romantic comedy, and is a romantic comedy in reverse, sort of. It is driven by how much they hate each other, but in general, it still follows the typical formula for a romantic comedy. It is very funny though, with a hilarious ending. It’s a new genre, in a way: A chick flick that the guys will enjoy even more than the girls. B

Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna)

Under the Same Moon is a touching Spanish drama about the evils of foreign policy, and the touching journey a boy takes to see his mother. It’s very sad, funny, and just plain touching.

Carlitos is a young boy in Mexico who lives with his grandmother. His mother works across the border in California as a nanny, and they haven’t seen each other in four years. So when Carlitos’ grandmother dies, he goes alone on a journey to cross the border, and must hitchhike thousands of miles to be reunited with his mother.

This is the first time I cried in a movie for a very long time. Why? Because so many moments just ring true, and it’s so realistic and original. See it as soon as you can. A

Iron Man

Iron Man is everything Spider-Man 3 wasnt: Action-packed, plot-driven (without a hundred little subplots), serious, organic characters, and really funny. How surprising, given that with Fantastic Four and Spider-Man have become childish little franchises with no plot or weight to anything.

Tony Stark is a billionare arms dealer who is reckless and cynical. He cares about business. So when he develops a deadly weapon in Afghanistan called the Jericho, he is kidnapped by terrorists who demand that he build them the Jericho or they kill him. Stark, in lieu of the missile, decides to build an armored suit that can shoot missiles, has a flamethrower, and best of all, can fly. He blasts his way out of the prison.

When he returns, he stops selling weapons immediately. This angers many in his company, including Obidiah Stone. Instead, he focuses on using his suit for good under the name Iron Man, but also uses it to fly for fun in a hilarious scene. But terrorists build the Jericho and are focused on firing it, and a duplicate of the suit is made and put in the wrong hands…

Iron Man is the most fun, most detailed, and possibly best movie so far this year. A great way to kick off the summer! A

Leatherheads

Leatherheads is a screwball tribute to the old ’20’s comedies, and works great because George Clooney is perhaps the last actor alive with that charisma and timing. It is enjoyable because it is old-fashioned, and is also really funny at times.

Dodge Connolly is a football player in 1920, and he is very talented. But he’s down-on-his-luck, and his football team is closed down for low attendance. Meanwhile, all-star football player/war hero Carter Rutherford has thousands of loyal fans, and so Dodge smooth-talks Carter into joining the team. The two begin to compete for the affections of reporter Lexie Littleton, who is researching a piece on Carter and finds a huge secret…

It comes alive with a great energy and vibe that is great, and George Clooney is great as a director. The only real problem is the pacing, as it simply drags on for too long. Well, its very energetic and ambitious, with good performances. Great props for that. B+