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Reviews for the Week of 1/11:

Big Fish




Rated PG-13 | 125 mins


     So itís called Big Fish and itís about a guy named Ed Bloom (Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney), who tells wild stories about his life to just about everyone heís ever come in contact with. No one believes that the tales he claims to be true are entirely real, and that he really experienced them throughout the many years heís lived on earth, but rather choose to recognize him as a dandy storyteller. And while this may seem to be just fine, a problem arises as a result of it. Not one person knows the real Ed, for his whole life seems to just be one giant story. Itís impossible for anyone to separate the fact from the fiction, and understand the true man. This becomes especially tormenting for his son, Will, after heís grown up. So, we take a trip to the point in time in which Ed is about to die, and Will has one last chance to learn the truth about his father. Are Edís tales actually real accounts of the events that have occurred in his lifetime, or just mere pieces of entertainment for his friends and family to be temporarily amused by?

     Now, with an average director, thereís probably some way that Big Fish couldíve been told in a fairly ďregularĒ fashion, but this is a Tim Burton movie. Tim Burton doesnít do ďregular.Ē In this picture, the gifted oddball shows us everything from gigantic people to undiscovered towns comprised of only peaceful folk to, well, big fishes, and there and back again. In fact, the oddness of this film, the sheer beauty of watching the wild images being projected onto a big screen, is fascinating. The audience wonít even be able to take most of it. How the hell are we supposed to react to such craziness? The bewildering, but joyous shock that Big Fish provokes is indescribable. This is a colorful and outlandish, but sympathetically down-to-earth film, undeniably one to cherish for years to come. It may be filled with obvious flaws, and is, by no means, a great movie, but I couldnít care any less. For a film to be able to stand out amongst all the other films of its kind, and keep the audience captive, it has to be different. Big Fish invents an entirely new genre, and because of this, it certainly doesnít even need to worry about being different. If that doesnít distinguish a trip worth taking, I donít know what does.

     Iím quite unsure how mainstream moviegoers will respond to Big Fish, even though Iím definitely not opposed to them seeing it. A better question is: what does Burton want viewers to get out of his film? I suppose Iím a bit of a hypocrite, since I donít even really know myself, and all Iíve done in this review is praised it. I enjoyed Big Fish simply because of the wondrous awe I was struck with when viewing it. And even though I hope this is enough to keep others satisfied, it, sadly, may not be.






Rated R | 121 mins


     Vampires, meet the werewolves. Werewolves, meet the vampires. Now, you two, fight. Fight. Fight.

     Thatís the formula that I expected that Underworld would follow, walking into it. Thankfully, itís a lot more creative and ingenious than that. The story is like a Shakespearean throwback plus the jumpy feel of a video game, a psychologically violent and grim tale of a long-lasting war between two different types of monsters, chocked full of action. It may sound silly, but hey, I liked it for what it was.

     After a conventional opening skit, weíre introduced to our heroine, Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a female death-dealer, helping the vampires in trying to exterminate the race of lycans, also known as werewolves. The two different species have actually been battling for 1,000 years, to be exact. She soon becomes interested in Michael (Scott Speedman), a human who the lycan and vampire leaders are conspiring to capture. However, when she develops feelings for him and objects to what the two leaders are trying to do, she prematurely awakens the ancient vampire head Viktor (Bill Nighy). Whatís admirable about Underworld is that thereís quite a bit of plotting involved in its contents. Itís not completely about the incoherent action, and this is pleasant, to say the least.

     The thing that I find most amazing about it is that the script is actually pretty solid, even though it does contain some pretty lame dialogue. Thereís true potential here, and for the most part, itís acted upon. The problem with Underworld lies in its running length. Clocking in at just over two hours, it could stand to lose thirty minutes of excess material, easily.

     For Kate Beckinsale, this role has blown her up. Even though sheís not particularly profound in the movie, it will land her the successful career that she deserves.

     A sequel and a prequel to Underworld will be released in 2005. We can only hope that they will be an improvement on this divertingly fun and interesting, but overly long and uneasy original. I am excited for their releases, with some reservations.


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