Home | Reviews | Exclusive Writings | Great Links | Miscellaneous | FAQ | Contact Us

Capsule Reviews

By: Danny Baldwin


8 Women (4 Buckets)

thumbnailGlamorously stylish French musical that is both funny and mysterious. The appearance and atmosphere of the entire picture is so scrumptious to look at, we can't keep our eyes off of it for the entire running length. The performances are elegantly beautiful, and all of the veteran actresses on the cast deliver very appreciable work. Director Ozon brilliantly showcases 8 Women as if it were a model; it is both stunning and gorgeous. And the music? It's to die for. While people will only be able to recognize Chicago as the real musical of 2002, 8 Women deserves all of the buzz it can get. This one's truly astounding.

Abandon (1 Bucket)

thumbnailI'm still not really sure that I get what Abandon is trying to say. If I'm taking it the right way, it's one of the most conventionally boring films ever made, and one of the worst of the year. Of course Katie Holmes is charming, as always, but for what (and so what)? This one offers a few cheap thrills, but it never can fully entertain the audience, or even get a grip on reality. If you choose to view this disastrous wreck of a film, you'll leave the theatre, scratching your head. You will not be in any normal state of confusion, however. You will be in a critical one. If Abandon is really as simple and stupid as I think it is, then it's definitely one of the most terrible flicks of all-time.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash (1 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailViewing The Adventures of Pluto Nash is like staring at the invisible atmosphere, which constantly falls before you. There is no plot, no climax, and no ultimate payoff. This is a tragic last resort for the now utterly terrible comedian, who was once funny, known as Eddie Murphy. I grinned once, almost fell asleep on over ten occasions, and played with my thumbs countless times while viewing this abominable cinematic disaster. There is one redeeming character in the entire film. This is the good news. The bad news?  He is a robot, and he only gets a small amount of screen time. The Adventures of Pluto Nash ranks number one on my list of  “Things to do to waste not-so-precious time.”

All About the Benjamins (3 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailAll About The Benjamins is a film that I thought would be wretchedly bland and boring. But I was pleasantly surprised by its subtle innocence. There is a cuss word in every sentence of dialogue, and the film does deal with some rather adult substances, but it’s just plain fun. Epps and Ice Cube have magnificent chemistry together, and should continue to work with each other. With a complicated and unfortunately ridiculed plot, I’m surprised that every would-be plot hole actually healed at the very end. All About The Benjamins is interesting and exciting.

All or Nothing (3 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailRun under a desolate and depressing premise, All or Nothing is an impacting and life-affirming drama, which peeks into the wretched life of a broken British working class family. Beautifully directed by veteran Mike Leigh, this is a beautiful character study, which is both witty and intuitive. Each shot is professionally posed behind a strong crew, and brings out a most emotionally touching result. This is one of the best films of the year. The acting is nearly perfect, the direction and production are astounding, and the screenplay is flawless. If this were put into wide release, the world would definitely be a better place because of it.

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2 Buckets)

thumbnailOther critics really panned Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, and out of curiosity, I decided to see it myself. The result is not nearly as bad as my fellow reviewers had previously said, but the film is still nothing short of mediocre. The Positive: I enjoyed some of Lucy Lui’s kung fu, and was fairly entertained for all of the films short running length. The Negative: Several inaccuracies and flaws in the direction prevent Ballistic from getting a whole lot done in the hour and forty minutes it has to try to amaze us. This is another great candidate for a 99-cent rental, but not a theatre trip. Don’t waste your time just yet.

Birthday Girl (2 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailTo tell you the truth, I’m not sure if I like Birthday Girl or not, so I’ll split the difference. One half of me wants to commend the great performances, primarily Kidman’s, and the oddness of the intriguing premise. The other half of me is the side that most of America agrees with. It, basically, wants to rip apart the film. The basic direction, poor writing, and grim production kill the entire film. Which side do I agree with the most? I haven’t the faintest clue. I shudder to think what would happen if I was forced to make a recommendation, or a warning. With my devotion to the art of cinema I would quite possibly snap.

Brown Sugar (3 Buckets)

thumbnailA wondrous look inside the romance that falls before the wonderful beats and vibes of hip-hop music, Brown Sugar is a snazzy film, full of well-acted characters. The cast is likeable; a profound group of actors and actresses who make watching the movie easy. The story tells a realistic tale, which makes us feel good and buy into it at the same time. This is a heart-warming alternative to the teen-intended Sweet Home Alabama. There are better films, but there aren’t many as entertaining as this. Brown Sugar is as viewable as ice cream is edible, from beginning to end.

The Country Bears (3 Buckets)

thumbnailThere are some films, intended for children, that are so bad they’re almost good. The Country Bears is easily, one of these movies. Each of the characters are so helplessly inane to their elders, it is hard no to laugh at this full-fledged riot. Surprisingly, this film does have a target audience; the crowd simply taken by the name of “stoners.” In fact, This Country Bears could be deemed a “stoner movie.” Oh, and the kids? While they may be unsafe in the theatre, what with all of the crazy drugged-up college kids in their presence, the film is, nonetheless, enchanting to any youngster. Hey! Why can’t O.D.ed adults have all the fun?

E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (20th Anniversary Edition) (3 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailOver the many years that this film has existed, many pieces have touched audiences everywhere. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial is one of these films. It has been brought back, in a restored, “20th Century Anniversary Edition.” In this version, the extravagant character “ET” has been computerized in several scenes, and the original filmmakers have added in several treats for the newer generation. How is it? In my opinion, it was worse than the flawless original. “When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” or so the old saying goes. ET was never anything short of perfect, until now. It’s still highly proficient, but I prefer the original release. Why did the studio have to go back and play with it for a re-release? The easy answer is that it’s outdated. And it really is in a way, perhaps.

Femme Fatale (1 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailMovies that like to fool and pick with their audiences are usually quite entertaining to watch. I've praised David Lynch time after time for doing just this. Brian De Palma has been in a slump for years, now. Femme Fatale is no exception, it's a completely repulsive and frustrating film. It was made for the sole purpose of helplessly playing with its viewers--there's no intelligent plot, nothing. If it weren't so stylishly made, I would call it porno. This is not a tribute to film's noir, it's just a forgettable, trashy motion picture. It'll attract both the art-house circuit and teenage boys who want to see Rebecca Romijn-Stamos nude. There are many better alternatives to Femme Fatale--that are both fun and well-crafted--two characteristics that this one rarely displays.

The First 20 Million (3 Buckets)

thumbnailI’m just a sucker for movies about computers. No matter how stupid or inaccurate they are, I love them for what they are. The First 20 Million was delightful to watch for me, though it might not be for the rest of the world. I would easily recommend it to other computer geeks or software junkies, but general audiences will deem it stupid.  There are unbreakable clichés and overused myths in The First 20 Million’s content, but nonetheless it is just charming. This type of idea would easily work as a television sitcom. It’s fun, light, and comical.  Purely fascinating.

Green Dragon (3 ½ Buckets)

Movie ImageThe real internment camps, where Green Dragon takes place, are just a few minutes from my house. This is both terrifying and eye opening, for the images depicted in the film are so heart wrenching, it’s hard not to think about. In a beautiful portrait of the camps that held tons and tons of Vietnamese immigrants at Camp Penelton during the war, Green Dragon is a mystifyingly wonderful film. Patrick Swayze and Forrest Whittaker perform to their fullest, while this stunning recreation is brought to life. A sturdy mark in this year’s cinema, Green Dragon is a movie that is both provoking and excellent.

High Crimes (2 Buckets)

thumbnailI would expect more from Ms. Judd and Mr. Freeman, and at that, a lot more. High Crimes is a second-rate, mediocre thriller about the deficiencies of the law. Somewhat unpredictable and well acted, there is only one flaw that completely prevents this film from accomplishing all that it sets out to do. It is boring. This isn’t the type of film that a regular viewer would candidly watch. In fact, it’s not the type of film that a law-school student would watch, either. Lacking this key sense of direction leaves the film at a loss. The story would work better as an original HBO television series.

Hart's War (3 Buckets)

thumbnailColin Farrell and Bruce Willis are easily the best duo of the year. This excellent, fast-paced WWII drama is an onscreen knockout. Over the years, war films have improved with age. But, unlike most, Hart’s War does not rely on big-budget explosions to fill its content.  A purely psychological thriller, this dismal feature is made highly viewable by fabulous acting and a great script.  Mediocre direction, however, mars this above-average movie, and prevents it from accomplishing everything it could. But, despite all this, Hart’s War still deserves a positive recommendation, due to the extraordinary redeeming features.

Hey Arnold!: The Movie (1 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailOh my god. When I walked into Hey Arnold!: The Movie, I knew it'd be stupid, but not this stupid. After all, the cartoon, which airs regularly on Nickelodeon, is very charming, despite its dumbness. But, sadly, this is a movie adaptation gone wrong. It's not funny, amusing, or even humane; I was about to kill myself half-way through it. And while I thought it was bad then, after viewing the unbearable end, I almost wished I had committed suicide, when originally contemplating it. I just can't give the characters of one of my my favorite TV shows a worse rating than I am already giving Hey Arnold!: The Movie, though. If I did, I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to live with myself. But, I can say this, to spare you 75 minutes of your life: don't see this one.

Jackass: The Movie (Zero Buckets)

thumbnailI truly believe this is the worst movie of all-time, and the only reason I'm not writing a full review for it, is because that would require me to think about it's torturous wrath even longer. I normally feel a tad bit bad after giving a film zero stars, because it's saying that all the work that was put into it by the cast and crew was completely worthless, but I do not feel a bit of remorse for giving this one the rating that I have. The people in it are stupid, inconsiderate, and idiotic assholes, and do not deserve to be watched, on film, by anyone in the right mind. I laughed once in Jackass: The Movie, for only twenty seconds, at the very beginning of it--the rest of the duration was sheer agony to view. The stunts are lame, sick, conceited, and pointless. This film is awful, just awful.

Jason X (1 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailIt is a known fact now, that the Friday the 13th movies will never be any good. But, nonetheless, I willingly go and see Jason X. Like all of the films in the series, which now holds ten pieces of garbage, this film could’ve been a highly entertaining festival of the genre we like to call horror. But, it falls far shorter than this. Moronic and shaky; Jason X relies on stupid slasher tricks and campy gore to shape and mold its character. These are poignant, terribly done, not involving, and ultimately, laughable. Will the series ever improves is a tremendous question. Each of the films has never been worse than its predecessor. Though, their predecessors aren’t exactly hard acts to follow.

Joe Somebody (2 Buckets)

thumbnailTim Allen needs to bring his career to an end and quit while he’s ahead.  Joe Somebody is... dopey, more than anything.  With the most anticlimactic finish of all time, coupled with unfunny jokes, this film should’ve had a lower budget and gone straight to video from the start.  The acting is despicable, the plot never builds, and the camerawork looks like that of a sitcom. It is an airy, unintelligent work.  Even though I expected worse, when the credits began to roll, a sense of relief came upon me. I’m not even sure that kids will like Joe Somebody. It’s just that dull.

Lovely and Amazing (3 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailTelling the problematic story of four women, all in the same family, Lovely and Amazing provides us with a new outlook on life. Beautifully performed and stunningly directed, this beautiful picture is one of the best of 2002. Calming to watch, this film should’ve been widely released, and explained what the true alternative to Ya-Ya was at the time. Multidimensional writing is what truly makes this film fascinating. Each of the women’s stories are cleverly intertwined, and then reflected upon. They can all relate to each other, yet they are so far away from resolving their goals. Sensationally touching.

Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat (2 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailMartin Lawrence is great to watch when he uses humor that’s fairly clean and all in good fun (Big Momma’s House). In Runteldat, his live comedy concert, we get to see the Martin Lawrence we know and love, but without any restrictions on his comedy. The jokes are funny, but tend to be way too overblown. As Lawrence mouths off about sex, pregnancy, and his taste in vaginas, it’s only natural for a casual viewer to feel uncomfortable. Lawrence’s execution is flawless, typically in his outstanding delivery, but his material is crudely lacking. Martin has had his chance in shows-turned-to-movies. Sadly, he has blown it.

Metropolis (3 Buckets)

Anime, Japanese animation, is one of the most lavishly beautiful genres of filmmaking in existence today. Metropolis is no excuse. Director Rintaro excels in making scenes, which look absolutely stunning. But, unlike most animes, this film has one obvious flaw. There is simply not enough action. The last scene is mystifyingly shocking, and is full of lively emotion, but the rest of the film lacks this vivid depth. There is an extremely notable psychological impact, but this is not expressed through the animation, rather than atmosphere. I can commend Rintaro for making an accomplished film, about the relationship between machines and men, but Metropolis isn’t anything outstanding.

Monsoon Wedding (3 ½ Buckets)

Colorful and exuberant, Monsoon Wedding is a foreign extravaganza, rich in life and the prospect of happiness. Beautifully acted, and visually enchanting, this is a film both commendable for the way it looks and the way it thinks. Each and every step it takes towards the ending climax is magnificent, and the last few minutes of film are some of the best of the year. This is a gleeful film, with great intentions, ready to bring a grin to the faces of the audience. Monsoon Wedding is a gay, meaningful, and flamboyant alternative to the depravedly boring world of modern cinema.

The Mothman Prophecies (1 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailThe “Mothman” is not scary; the “Mothman” is dumb. The “Mothman” is not at all intellectually provoking; the “Mothman” is actually quite stupid. The “Mothman” is certainly not mysterious, and The Mothman Prophecies is about as predictable as the clerk at McDonalds asking you if you would like fries with your hamburger. This film is terrible. Just downright terrible. What could be a creepy figure, and make a great horror story, is a stupid, and dull effect that makes up a horrible movie. Richard Gere’s role is utterly ridiculous, and so are those of his co-stars. Do I need to say anything more? I think not.

National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (1/2 a Bucket)

thumbnailThis movie is stupid, raunchy, unfunny, badly acted, poorly written, horribly directed, and just downright ugly.  Who the hell would want to watch it? The answer to that question is hopelessly lost teens struck with confusion, who can neither afford nor meet the age requirement to get in.  National Lampoon’s Van Wilder will definitely get the proper buzz on the playgrounds across America, but won’t sell many tickets. If it were released theatrically, unrated (like the DVD), it would’ve done a whole lot better. 

The New Guy (2 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailThere is a distinct look to D.J. Qualls, who plays the lead in The New Guy, that is helplessly hilarious. He is the one who saves this movie, by covering up all of the clichés with raw comedic talent. Realistically, I could call this film another rowdy, teen-stuck drama full of raunchy material. However, there is something unique about The New Guy that makes it pleasant and refreshing to view.  Whether this is D.J. Qualls or the entire cast (maybe even something completely different), is hard to tell. We just have to go with it and enjoy the ride.

Orange County (3 Buckets)

thumbnailEvery once and a while, audiences will come across a comedy, that isn’t a piece of crap. Orange County is one of these movies. Showcasing the hilarious talents of Jack Black, and the debut of Colin Hanks, this film is a fully-fledged riot. Undermining colleges everywhere, and the place we SoCal folk like to call Orange County.  In this movie, a clever script and comedic performances mold Orange Country into a winner. Jack Black + College = Disaster. Disaster + Jack Black = Funny. These are tried and true equations to warm the soul.

Reign of Fire (3 Buckets)

thumbnailSeveral people have called Reign of Fire utterly ridiculous. Now that I’ve seen it, I can understand their point of view. But then again, dragon movies are supposed to be ridiculous. On the positive side of things, this film is a whole lot of fun, with some killer special effects! Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey are excellent as the brave dragon slayers. The visuals are first-rate, and the story pushes things along. This is an entertaining dragon-flick, which will satisfy audiences to a great extent. I can appreciate the delectable cheesiness of this guilty pleasure. It is definitely a fun ride.

Roger & Me (2 ½ Buckets)

Movie ImageEven though I never can agree with him on anything, I would really, truly, like to see Michael Moore make a good movie. In one way or another, Roger & Me and his other, latest film, Bowling for Columbine, come up short. During both of their durations, Moore gets onto things, and shows the audience some effective material. But while Bowling was at loss because of his inconsiderate approach, this film doesn't work, because Moore can't find enough interesting and controversial substance to showcase. When he's good, he's good, but when he's bad, it's not pretty. In Roger & Me, Moore can't get enough interviews (many normal people won't even talk to him), and the result of that is a shaky, bland first half. In the end, this one turns out to be just okay. Now that he's established himself as a filmmaker (Bowling for Columbine grossed over twenty million dollars, a lot for a movie of such a nature), Moore's next film has the potential to be killer, and I believe many will actually want to talk to him (even though all he's really trying to do is humiliate most of his subjects). Bottom line: Roger & Me is a worthy low-key rental; even though I'm giving it the same rating as Bowling, it's definitely not nearly as entertaining, movie-wise.

Snow Dogs (2 Buckets)

thumbnailHas there really ever been a really good Disney live-action film? Maybe a few, but I can’t recall any off of the top of my head. Snow Dogs is no exception. There are a few good scenes, it has its moments, and it ultimately makes us feel good. But, there are no sparks, thrills, or laughs - what every kid wants to experience when seeing a film. Cuba Gooding Jr. does a handsome job at playing this role fairly well, but should stick to adult-intended films. With nothing to rave about, and much to want, Snow Dogs is instantly forgettable. Its biggest mistake was not going directly to video, like most other Disney reject.

Super Troopers (2 Buckets)

thumbnailObnoxious, crude, and just plain stupid; Super Troopers is awful most of the time. However, some of the comedy is genuinely hilarious, due to the wonderful facial expressions and overly dramatic voices supplied by the actors. It does, indeed, come to my surprise that several of the jokes are well written and well executed. But, on the negative side, the last half-hour is ridiculous. It throws away all of the comedy that the ensemble had worked for previously in the film. It’s a good rental, but does not pass as a film. Wait for it to come out on video.

Trapped (2 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailTrapped builds and builds on quality material, and is well performed, but has a silly ending that completely kills the entire movie. Thank goodness for Charlize Theron, Kevin Bacon, and Dakota Fanning who help this movie remain tolerable. But, still, it is unbelievable that anyone of any intelligence could stare at it, without shaking his or her head. We can’t help but feel insulted, when we are to watch a film for over an hour, honestly mesmerized, and then have it be ruined by a bad ending. This just doesn’t work in the world of Hollywood.

The Tuxedo (1 ½ Buckets)

thumbnailWhen a film opens up to the wonderful sight of a deer urinating, something has to be very wrong. The Tuxedo proves that Jackie Chan has just dug himself into one big pile of shit. There is nothing to be commended in this obnoxious film, full of one-dimensional characters comprised of no talent whatsoever. Mr. Chan doesn’t do what he does best, the art of kung fu, while Jennifer Love Hewitt desperately attempts to. The Tuxedo is both poorly written and terribly cast. This is a despicable flick, which not even the lowest brow of society will be able to enjoy. This piece of crap is a waste of everyone’s time and money.

We Were Soldiers (3 Buckets)

thumbnailTruly touching, and realistically heartbreaking, We Were Soldiers is one of the best war films of the year. It is also one of the most well-done movies about the Vietnam war in recent times. Mel Gibson provides an astounding performance, and Randall Wallace’s beautiful direction is inspiring. The special effects and sound deserve to win Academy Awards, and in my book, they are the best of 2002. It might not be as qualified as some other flicks to be called one of the year’s greatest, but certainly is an Honorable Mention on my list. We Were Soldiers is a definite must-see movie.

Who is Cletis Tout? (3 Buckets)

thumbnailSimplistic, but original, Who is Cletis Tout? makes a worthy watch. I was amazed at the vividly written story; full of inspiring creativity. This is an independent film, which is simply beautiful for its outlook on the way that films should be made. With a thoughtful screenplay that acts as a model for all other films in the genre, this is one of the year’s most respectable films. But, sadly, other than the good writing, Who is Cletis Tout? has nothing. I can appreciate its strength in this one area, but can’t respect it to the fullest because of what’s missing. This film is halfway there, and is definitely worth seeing, but it most definitely doesn’t have it all.

Back to Home
The Bucket Review's Rating Scale