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Movie Reviews

by Jerry Salisbury

Click on a movie's name to go directly to the review, or scroll down and proceed through them all.

About a Boy, Bandits, Big Trouble, Changing Lanes, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, Death to Smoochy, Frailty, High Crimes, Insomnia, Life as a House,Minority Report, Murder By Numbers, No Man's Land, O, Panic Room, Scooby-Doo, Spider-Man, Star Wars - Episode II: Attack of The Clones , The Sum of All Fears, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, Windtalkers


Sam Raimi's long awaited take on the Spider-Man comic book series is yet another movie that takes on the identity of its primary character. This is two distinct films, tied together rather haphazardly, but still delivered in an honest, playful, sweet and most of all, human way. With a first half, effective creating a human side to things, introducing, setting things up and laying the groundwork, then a fairly obvious shift into comic book mode with all of the characters, their actions, their words and such, becoming almost cartoonish, Spider-Man is entertaining, heartfelt, a bit typical at times, but still a worthy start to what could be a long and prosperous series. What makes this film work so well is that Raimi shows the human side, both good and bad to the web slinger, while not always resorting to the expected reactions, instead having a character that stays true to his morals. Superheroes are not always these happy, gleeful crime fighters ready to save the world, but rather tortured souls who feel like they have not only been blessed, but also cursed as well with their abilities. Raimi shows how Parker feels almost an obligation to what he has been given and it's a tribute to Maguire, how he pulls of giving Parker a believable range of tortured emotions.

Think about how you would react if you woke up one morning and found that all of a sudden, you could see better, sense things before they happened, climb walls with your sticky hands and shoot a cool web-like substance from your hands? Well, you would probably react the same way that Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) does, you would play with it, laugh a silly little "look what I can do" kind of giggle and maybe even use it to your advantage. Parker is a high school science geek and photographer. Typically, he is picked on by the school bullies, lusting after the pretty girl in school (Kirsten Dunst) and fascinated by the little intricacies of the scientific aspect of life. During a field trip to lab, Parker is bitten by a genetically enhanced and awakens to find that things in his life have changed drastically. Meanwhile government officials have scorned his best friend's father (Willem Dafoe), a wealthy businessman, after his experiments in gene enhancement failed miserably and fatally. He decides to demonstrate on himself with disastrous results, driving him mad and turning into a despicable greedy creature that calls himself the Green Goblin. Back to Parker, he is struggling with his newfound blessing/curse, as he becomes a mysterious legend in New York, saving people, preventing crime and even winning a wrestling match (which explains the origin of his costume) The second stanza of the film kicks in after a tragic occurrence in Peter's life and once the slightly clumsy transition is complete, the film shifts into full comic mode. Populated with animated caricatures (namely a scene-stealing newspaper editor), enhanced action sequences, good versus evil and even some typical dialogue, the film transitions into its second identity and cruises home towards an unexpected, but welcome conclusion. The whole ride is an intelligent, heartfelt journey through the actions and emotions of those involved and affected by Parker/Spidey's transformation and realization. The balance of the story and the focus on multiple aspects are what raise the film above the typical run of the mill superhero movie. People often forget that most of the comic book superheroes that we see have their basis in normal everyday people who somehow gain extraordinary powers or abilities. Is this plausible? Most definitely, if the setup is there, likely, not really, but then again, who goes to the movies for realism?

The key to the film's success, along with it's slight misgivings, stem from the casting. Maguire and Dunst are indeed magical as Peter and M.J., showing a definite chemistry together. Maguire is an actor who has always been very adept at showing a playful, yet emotional innocence and then a gleeful, yet shy joy in the discovery of things (as in Pleasantville). In his role as Parker, he gives the character the aspect that is missing from most adaptations, it shows that he is indeed a normal person, who has discovered that he can do extraordinary things, then grapples with how to deal with it morally. Dunst is sweet, cute and adorable, just as she has to be, without ever being distracting or over the top. I believed every one of her scenes, especially with Maguire. There is also a great scene-stealing role as the animated, exaggerated Daily Bugle editor that is quite memorable. Dafoe isn't given as much development or background as to his character and seems to be trying a bit too hard to be mean and nasty at times, without justification. Overall, Raimi has cast his movie perfectly and given them a smart, energetic story that only stumbles mildly while transitioning between tales.

Ultimately, Spider-Man has all the elements of a summer movie with doses and hints that someone actually put some thought and effort into making something entertaining and smart as well. So often, the summer movie landscape is littered with movies high on action and recognizability but low on brains and insight. Raimi has shown that he can make a campy, fun, playful movie that also taps into emotions, while still staying true to the origins so as to appease the fans. He had a broad range of groups to appease, cinema fans in general, kids who can relate to the visuals, kids at heart who are comics fans and adults who like an entertaining experience. With this effort, he has done a respectable balancing act and come out fairly clean in the end. The upcoming sequels aren't as dreaded as usual and if they have the same spirit and vein of this film, then maybe this will be the franchise juggernaut that it should be. Joel Schumacher are you paying attention?

Star Wars - Episode II: Attack of The Clones

For the love of all things cinematically appealing, someone please keep George Lucas away from a typewriter and behind a camera. Attack of The Clones, Episode 2 in the series of films is dazzling in his use of imagery and effect but painfully unwatchable as he attempts to fill in the spaces in between. Clones is a visual playground that salvages a screenplay apparently pieced together from discarded romance and revenge films. Lucas is a great storyteller, as evident by his interweaving of relevant points to link the future stories, but the path he takes is often hard to watch and listen to. Thankfully, Lucas and company close out the film with a thrilling visual eye candy conclusion complete with battle scenes, showdowns and revelation that recaptures the lost soul of the previous films and partially satiates the bad aftertaste that Episode I left.

I recently went back and watched the Star Wars trilogy again to make sure that they hadn't lost their fascination since those were seen through the eyes of a child and these new ones through more critical eyes. This one falls into the same vein that Empire did, being as it's the middle piece of a trilogy. It is beneficial and necessary to the story, because it can forsake character development and dive right into the story, but also establish the groundwork and links for the final chapter, which must tie this one with the original film. Clones picks up about 10 years after the Phantom Menace. Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen) is now a Jedi in training under his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). Padme Amidala is no longer a queen, but a senator and yes Jar Jar is back thankfully in a much-diminished role this time. There is a conflict arising between the government and a rebellious separatist movement. This does and will give rise to the Clone Wars, a battle between the Alliance and a Rebellion. During a visit from Senator Amidala, Anakin and Obi Wan are assigned to watch over her, since her vote is key in an upcoming referendum. After an assassination attempt, Anakin is assigned to escort Amidala back to her home planet, which results in the painfully executed, but unfortunately necessary, romantic subplot. Kenobi goes in search of the assassins and ends up on a remote planet battling with bounty hunter Jango Fett (father of Bobba from the later films) and his mysterious employer, Count Dooku (or Darth Tyrannus).

The story may be a bit hard to follow for those not familiar with the series. In the beginning I got confused as well, but once it became a dual story, between Kenobi and the Council and Anakin and Amidala, it was a bit easier to follow. Mace Windu and Yoda are given more screen time this time around, as they become pivotal characters in the wars and in the final showdown sequence that ends up saving the movie. The dialogue is clichéd at best and painful at worst, but Lucas realizes this and kicks things up another gear with the effects and conclusion. The story works best whenever McGregor or anyone besides Christiansen and Portman appear. However it falters badly during their supposed romantic interludes on Naboo (which oddly enough, quite resembles the same Italian coastline portrayed in Captain Correlli's Mandolin).

Once again, it appears that Lucas has totally exorcised the acting ability of Natalie Portman. She is completely wooden and unconvincing and is a great distraction to the story and the film. Christiansen doesn't fair much better, but still his natural acting ability and talent for playing egotistical, spoiled and brooding (as in Life As A House) shine through when given a chance. McGregor is very watchable with his playful nature and strong conviction showing through, similar to Samuel L. Jackson who is given more of a role to play with and relishes in it. Mixed together with Christopher Lee, who is having a great year, the supporting cast holds their own, even against strong competition from a certain little green wise one. If they have an award for best performance by a computer-generated character, then win it, Yoda should!

Ultimately, Attack of The Clones is a fitting bridge to what should be rousing, if not complex, conclusion to the first part of the trilogy. When the film isn't distracted by an absurd love story, a cardboard performance from Portman and a complete lack of believable attraction and chemistry between she and Christiansen, it is an occasionally thrilling throwback to science fiction classics, complete with good and bad guys, switched allegiances and moments of humor. It is almost an unwritten rule amongst fans that Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, is by far the best of all the films in this series. I attribute this to the fact that Lucas wrote the basic story idea and then handed the screenwriting duties to in the capable hands of Leigh Braddock and Lawrence Kasdan while he focused on the visuals. The film also benefited from an established development of characters, so that it could dive right into the story. With Clones, the potential existed to do that again, but Lucas, in his egotism, decided to try his hand at writing once again and nearly fails. No one has ever denied Lucas's ability to use his visual acuity to tell a story, he is among the best in the business at it. What does come into question, as previously mentioned, is his consistent inability to match his creativity in his use of dialogue and words to progress the stories.

Star Wars was a film created for the young and young at heart and one that started the love of all things cinematic to a large portion of my generation. It was a simple tale of a farm boy and his adventures to realize his destiny. With these first 3 films, done as a background story to the first film originally, he has the chance to build and solidify the classic status of these films, while ironically playing off of their successes. Phantom came close to obliterating that legacy, but Clones swoops down at the last second to literally keep hope alive. The groundwork has been laid for Episode III and while I know that the relevance of the emphasis on the distracting elements this film may be clarified then, it still makes for a nearly disastrous distraction. I cant help but think though, about how much stronger this could have been with a Kasdan, or Zailian. Clones bridges the gap, fills in some details and tempts us with the potential of bigger and better things to come. My final advice, be patient through the first parts, enjoy McGregor, Jackson and Yoda, pay attention to the details revealed and then buckle in for the conclusion and your faith may be partially restored and a New Hope may indeed be on the horizon.

The Sum of All Fears

It almost seems cliché to say that the silence was deafening, but there is no better way to describe it. About 88 minutes into The Sum of All Fears, director Phil Alden Robinson delivers a chillingly powerful and unexpected sucker punch. Granted, in the wake of September 11th, the imagery has much more impact, but for so many other reasons, it flies in the face of conventional filmmaking. Fears is a masterfully intelligent, if not frighteningly possible, film that succeeds as not only a thriller, but also a reminder of what could be. The film doesn't glorify or patronize but presents things as they could happen. The results are chilling and disturbing, as they are supposed to be. Clancy's novels have always had a knack for presenting plausible scenarios and resolutions that may scare and hopefully awaken the naïve and oblivious. After 9/11, very few of us qualify for that, but for those who forget, this film is a strong wake-up call.

"If we launch and we're wrong, what's left of Russia is gonna launch at us, there will be a nuclear holocaust beyond imagination" - Lt Cmdr Hunter (Denzel Washington), Crimson Tide (1995)

The ideas and actions are reminiscent slightly of what may have been going on above the water during Crimson Tide, although the screenplay is a bit more detail-filled, while the key plot point borrows from Black Sunday. The villains in the film use ideals that they claim Hitler failed to achieve. Instead of trying to attack and conquer both the United States and Russia, why not have them cancel each other out and them swoop in and clean up the remnants. The story originates in the early 70s, when an Israeli jet was shot down and dropped a nuclear bomb into the Egyptian desert. Flashing forward to present day, this bomb has fallen into the wrong hands, but the mystery is whose hands has it fallen into. It is Jack Ryan's (Ben Affleck) job to find this out, along with trying to sort out political tensions. The setup may be a bit tedious and confusing to those unfamiliar with the intricate workings and terminology. But it all pays off and becomes clearer with actions and natural progressions of events that populate the final act. There are additional plotlines and side stories, some of which work (Liev Schreiber as an assassin/operative/informant, using his deep voice and creepy appearance to a tee) and others which don't (the feel-good ending and the presence of Bridget Moynahan as Affleck's girlfriend, which serves one nice joke, but distracts otherwise). These are present to add that touch of both Clancy's insight into the way our government works and the human side of the decisions. They do add a bit of flavor, but may have been able to be lessened a bit in favor of a harder, edgier film.

Affleck takes a step back from his typical pretty boy style and simply follows order both figuratively and literally, not becoming a distraction at all, while Freeman can play the intelligent, calm mentor out of sheer reaction. Their chemistry is believable, while the frustrations and reactions of Cromwell, Rifkin and Hall (as the president and his advisors) are more reminiscent of the madness and emotions that I can imagine would ensue in this type of situation. The characters are numerous and become pawns in Robinson's game as he barks out Clancy's commands. After 9/11, it still may refresh the memories of those who were affected most but as many have correctly stated if we ignore both the event and the possibilities and let it mold our thoughts and then we are letting the bastards win. Robinson delivers an unexpected wallop in the gut (unless you pay attention to the poorly done previews) and has both the nerve and finesse to pull it off. So many times, moves have danced around the topics with near misses, nick of time saves and heroic gestures. Robinson pulls no punches but does it tastefully, believably and successfully so that it doesn't come off as preachy, but rather strong, heartfelt and real.

Ultimately, The Sum of All Fears is an intelligent viewer, whose perspective and sensibilities were tragically changed by horrific events. This film adds up to much more than the sum of its parts, while giving a foreshadowing wakeup call. Before 9/11, this still would have been a good movie, because of an intelligent script, a solid focus and non-distracting performances. Unfortunately, it now becomes a somber reminder for those whose guard may have dropped a bit, a reminder film that packs a wallop that hits all to close to home. While the feel good ending is a bit much and the facts are at times hard to follow, the actions, the results and the suspense are undeniable. It is truly frightening to imagine how Clancy knows as much as he does in regards to the intricacies and inner workings of our government. Thankfully, Robinson captures it without convoluting the action, or lessening the repercussions. See this film for what it is and understand and learn, what could be.

Thirteen Conversations About One Thing

Contrary to popular cinematic desire and sentiment, the "one thing" in the title is not in any way, shape or form, sexually related. Nor is it, as Curly stated in the dreadful City Slickers sequel, gold. Defining simply what it is isn't really possible. In its purest form, it's happiness, but thanks to director Jill Sprecher's philosophically based, multi-layered depiction and screenplay (along with sister Karen), the search for and definition of said happiness is a bumpy, complicated road, full of hurdles, complications and the twists and turns that fate has laid out for us. This is not a film for the light hearted filmgoer, nor is it one for the closed minded, there is a lot more going on in this film than just conversation, but everything is relayed via the words, actions and reactions of the characters. Sprecher's choice to use the non-linear storytelling style ala Pulp Fiction is not necessarily inspired by said film, but rather a convenient and necessary method of delivering the movie's message with its strongest impact. This is a film you will want to and should see several times. It should also cause to think about and review your own life, in the context of the characters, decisions and actions shown.

Conversations is not really about a specifically defined story, but rather is an exploration of characters lives, based upon traumatic events that have caused them to reexamine where they stand in the grand scheme. Like Fiction and Amores Perros, the characters from the stories, at first seemingly unrelated, intersect with each other in a very natural and believable manner. We are all victims of our decisions and reactions to other people in our lives. Fate has laid the groundwork and predetermined certain aspects of our lives, but it is our choice as to where things go from there. Ms. Sprecher, a student of not only cinematic history, but philosophy as well, depicts both influences very boldly and realistically. The movie starts with John Turturro, a mugging victim and physics professor who has cracked under the pressure of a life spent living teetering on the edge of happiness. His marriage is crumbling, he's having an affair with a fellow teacher and cracks down on his students in an apparent retaliation for not being able to find or define his happiness. Matthew McConaughey is a hotshot lawyer who has just won a big case and is celebrating at a bar. While there, he encounters an tired, slightly embittered insurance adjustor (Alan Arkin, in the best role he's ever done) who offers some sage advice about happiness "Show me a happy man and I'll show you a disaster waiting to happen" he tells the young lawyer and sure enough, he waxed prophetically. On his way home, the attorney is involved in a hit and run pedestrian accident, that seems to eat and tear away at his already fragile moral fiber. Meanwhile, the young girl he hits, Clea Duvall, is a dreamy eyed housekeeper who suddenly begins to find the happiness in her life, after having her eyes opened from being so close to death.

Each of these people represent the millions of people wandering through life in search of answers, hoping they will just fall right into their laps rather than actually doing something about it. Their lives are perched precariously on the precipice of collapse, needing only some kind of influence to push it one way or the other. Conversations explores what happens when the characters are given that push via a revelatory occurrence and how their lives change after that. Sprecher has an amazing talent for capturing the deeper emotional side of everyday life, as she did in her debut film, the underrated office classic, Clockwatchers. As in that film, she uses drab surroundings, contrasted with explosions of color to reflect the varying emotions of these people's lives. Her interactions of characters in differing aspects of a similar plight, intersecting and reacting with each other; reminiscent of Altman's Short Cuts and Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia, mixed together with a hint of Todd Solondz. In fact, many may compare this film to Solondz's disturbing dark comedy Happiness (Sprecher, in fact, stated a bit of hesitancy upon hearing about Solondz's film and its premise), but she does what he couldn't; dealing with the subject matter of the search for bliss and the cause and effects of actions. She does this with a meticulously brutal touch and sans the shock value. She simply lets the characters words and insights resonate in your mind and lets your imagination play with what she doesn't show you. She definitely deserves her placement amongst the great independent film directors (like Solondz, Atom Egoyan and Darren Arronofsky) and gives an emotional, but harshly truthful look at the complexity of dealing with the search for something that should be so simple. What lies behind that smiling face that you see on the street? Is that person really happy? Do we really just wander blindly through life, sometimes not even realizing the effect that the littlest thing can have on someone else's life. It's not always the big things that change us, but the little things that come about as a result and this film reflects that to near perfection. A simple wave, a gentle smile, a passing hello on the street, can sometimes hold more power than we realize. Sprecher reflects both aspects, big and small, through her characters. I could go on about the depths, the realizations and the deeper meanings of this movie (which is also held together by different titled sections, usually quotes from the characters, such as "Show me a happy man" or "18 Inches of personal space"), but this is a film to be seen, talked about, examined and then seen again to truly appreciate its complexities. Sprecher uses the gentlest touch to deliver the harshest messages, of loneliness (through a passing glance at a stranger on the street), of common bonding amongst kindred souls who don't know they are (through a simple wave on a train) and through life's fitting ironies (through the use of Turturro's reaction to a student's drastic measures). These are the signs of a confident, intellectual, determined filmmaker.

Like her contemporaries, Altman, PT Anderson and Woody Allen, Sprecher shows a very deft touch at not only balancing a large cast, without becoming excessive or distracting, but also at eliciting the career best performances from some previously underachieving or under appreciated actors. As I stated above, this is arguably the best work that Arkin has ever done. As the story's pained, conflicted and emotional protagonist, Arkin shows his prototype nervous instability, combined with a simmering that frustration that comes out in subtle actions, calm looks and monotones, similar to his role in Glengarry Glen Ross. He has never been better utilized and if this one doesn't garner his third Oscar nod, if not his first win, then the Academy may need to rethink their evaluation procedures. This film is nearly cursed with being out so early, but I beg them to remember it. McConaughey is starting to finally overcome his pretty boy image and take some more daring roles that showcase the potential that so many have been waiting for. He has harnessed his good looks and confidant swagger, but also mixed in a darker, troubled side which oozes painfully from his eyes and makes us nearly cringe in relation as we see and feel what his character does. DuVall's energy and positive outlook even amidst the bleakest of futures and Turturro's anal retentive, know-it-all pessimism delivered to near monotone perfection, subtly, but effectively set the film's mood and hammer home the point. Together they all meld, yet conflict to show a slice of society that does not have a simple resolution as life often doesn't, but also gives a brutally realistic perspective on the never-ending quest for internal, external and eternal bliss.

Ultimately 13 Conversations is an intricate puzzle and solution, reflective of the basic human struggle to find and understand what happiness is as seen through the eyes of several seemingly tortured souls. With this film, Sprecher laughs in the face of the sophomore jinx that befalls many directors after achieving critical acclaim (as she did in Clockwatchers). She stays true to her vision, rooted both in philosophy and love of the art of cinema to create an intricate societal portrait that relates to more of us than we care to admit. Sprecher, a fellow Midwesterner, has stated that this movie sprung from an idea based around Arkin's character and his unintentional antagonist, a perpetually happy person. He seemed to have it all figured out and to paraphrase Monty Python, always looked on the bright side of life. Arkin was not only jealous of that but also introspective about his own bliss and fights to keep his sanity during the journey to find it. Adding in some personal experiences, she and Karen have pieced together a masterpiece of social observation. This is a film that should be seen by every person who has ever complained about various aspects of the major and minor details of their lives. Those of us from every sector of society who are trying to keep up the Joneses, wondering what it takes to be happy, or even making assumptions that those who seem to have it all, really don't and those who seem to have very little who may actually be the richest of all. Each character represents a different aspect, a different battle of the same war. Have we as a people become so disconnected, that we've forgotten that happiness may indeed be found in the most unexpected places and ways? Do we walk around, hustling and bustling to get by, sleepwalking through a routine, then bemoaning when our lives go nowhere? If any of this rings true, then maybe you should take careful notes during this film. Sprecher's keen social observation, yet again, is a philosophical commentary on the simplicity of life, the complication of human emotion and the clarification that can come in unexpected packages.


For a movie purportedly about the bond created in overcoming cultural and linguistic differences of cultures, John Woo's Windtalkers fails to translate any of its dialogue into anything unique, creative or entertaining. Expectedly, the film is beautifully and brutally shot with Woo's trademark multi-angle camera movement (are you paying attention Michael Bay) combined with Saving Private Ryan-style gruesomeness. But the screenplay and story are littered with just about every war movie cliché known to anyone who has ever seen this type of film. It tries to be so many things, but fails to amount to much of anything. When it tries to be introspective about the horrors of war, it retreads the worst interpretations and translations of Platoon. When it tries to be about the horrors of war and its effects on common people, it mocks Private Ryan. And when it tries to be about loyalty, friendship and honor, it cowers in the shadows of We Were Soldiers. By the time the credits mercifully role, we are left with a visually stunning mess.

Woo misses out on a great chance to tell one of the greatest and basically unknown, aspects of American History. The tale of the Navajo Indians who were used to communicate message during World War II's Pacific campaign, deserved much better than what is given to us here. The movie starts with Nicholas Cage's character being pinned down and ultimately losing his entire unit in a battle. He then suffers an injury and is sent to a hospital where he meets a pretty young nurse (Francis O'Connor) I tell you these things as forewarning and to help me understand the purpose of them. While there, he is assigned the special duty of protecting these Indian linguists, so that the "code" could not be broken. He is assigned to protect Ben, while his partner (Christian Slater) is assigned to protect Charlie. Ben and Charlie are among a group of Navajo's recruited off of the reservation to serve their country by utilizing their language to confuse the Japanese. The American's seem to be a bit resentful and hesitant to accept them though. Of course they are going to clash, culturally and personally, then they are going to bond. Since it's apparently a requirement for Cage to look sad, troubled and conflicted, too much of the focus of the movie becomes him and his characters development. We are shown him being moody, shown him reliving his past and shown him attempting to overcome the demons haunting him. One of the major problems I had with this movie was a repeated focus on his loss of hearing (which he hides thanks to the nurse) and then his subsequent exposure to no less than 5 explosions within a very dangerous range, which obviously had little to no effect at all. It may be petty of me to notice this, but when the dialogue is painful to listen to as it is here, it is difficult not to. The main part of this story should have been the code talkers and how they affected the war effort. The code was created based upon the Navajo language and was never decoded by the Japanese resulting in great successes and ultimate victory. In the film however it is relegated to another plot point that Cage's character must deal with. The best scenes in the movie occur when the Indians are talking amongst themselves in code, be it war related, or not. Unfortunately though, these are very few and far between and the remainder is just a glorified distraction. The only thing that saves this film from total disaster is Woo's beautiful visuals and effects. Although he borrows from Ryan for the action sequences, he still has a skill for giving the sequences a life of their own. Were it not for these, Windtalkers truly would have fallen flatter than it already does.

Outside of Cage, the performances are nearly indistinguishable and I say that not because they are all wearing uniforms working as a team, or because the Indians all look alike (which they don't) but because they are all a conglomerate and collection of characters from much better war films. Slater disappears yet again, showing (as he did in The Contender) that he is not at his best when the spotlight isn't on him and his sneering sarcasm. Beach, who was so good in Smoke Signals, does his best with the role, but looks uncomfortable at times for some of the words he has to utter. Emmerech gets dumbed down as the lummox of the group who will of course make insensitive comments, but come to a realization later. But the biggest and most representative waste is that of a nearly unrecognizable Mark Ruffalo (hiding behind a mustache, luckily). Cast as the Italian/Greek of the group (for the requisite "What did/will we do back in the States sequence) Mark Ruffalo never gets a chance to flex his considerable talents in this role. Like the film, the potential is there, but gets buried in bad dialogue and finally drowned in cliché's. For shame Mr. Woo, the forgotten heroes and this nation, deserved much better.

Ultimately, Windtalkers is a copycat war movie, thinly disguised as a historically relevant story. There are so many little parts of history that are not told in books for one reason or another and films are the perfect avenues for telling them. But like so many others before it, Windtalkers gets bogged down in trying be an important movie about the proud men, the issues they dealt with and what they went through and loses focus on the aspect that it should be concentrating on. Woo is a master of diagramming visuals and action sequences, choreographing them like the most intricate, beautiful dance sequence. Unfortunately, he seems to have trouble finding a vehicle worthy of his visions. It is truly sad that these long forgotten heroes of American history didn't get the movie they truly deserve and hopefully in his future efforts, Woo can find someone to decode a palatable script and stop trying to Americanize his art form.

Check out other reviews by Jerry at his own site, The Reel Rambler

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