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Updated August 23, 2003

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Castro Valley - (510) 582-2555 Movie Reviews


This movie is unbelievable! The power of this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Tom Cruise will definitely win an academy award for this one.

The Last Samurai is a story about Capt. Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) who fought bravely during the Civil War but in the years after now drinks heavily to drown his nightmares, particularly the ones about his role in murdering the Native American women and children, in the Indian Wars of the 1870s.  Algren heads to Japan to train the newly formed Japanese Army that will force change that will put Japan's ancient customs and values in jeopardy, including the tradition of the fierce and highly respected samurai warriors.  During his first battle against the Samurai warriors, the warriors take him prisoner, to learn more about the white people.  Algren is held prisoner for several months and learns the way of the Samurai. When it is time to go back, he cannot because his heart is with the ancient traditions of the samurai and their people.   

In summery, If you liked Brave Heart, you’ll love this movie. Many battle sense (bloody at times). A man’s man movie, full of honor, guts, tradition, courage and war. For you softies out there, there is also a hint of a love story too. The ending is realistic and believable.

 Reviewer: Robert O’Donnell (16Yr)


Open Water is a ‘scary’ movie.  It isn’t a scary movie because there is a monstrous shark that attacks at will in shallow water.  It isn’t a scary movie because there is a fabled witch haunting the forest. It is a scary movie because it is a frightening tale about what really, can, and does happen.  At one point in Open Water Blanchard Ryan’s character asks her husband (Played by Daniel Travis ) “Can this really be happening?  Can they really have forgotten us?” To this he replies, “Yes.  This happens all the time”. 

And that is what is really at the bottom of this movie, the reality that it could happen to you.  It draws comparisons to Jaws because it plays on the basic fear of water and a more tangible fear of sharks.  It is also compared to the Blair Witch Project as it exploits the fear of being lost.  But it is similar to both movies in the fearful way that being helpless exposes us and makes us powerless to a situation beyond our control.  

The story is simple.  A couple desires to get away for there stress laden lives for a vacation of rest and relaxation in the beautiful Caribbean.  The same couple soon finds themselves stranded in the middle of the ocean, having been forgotten (in a very believable sequence) by the diving boat and the group they had accompanied on a two hour diving excursion.  The couple then drifts lost at sea with their hopes for rescue and survival diminishing in each passing moment of the movie.   

Once the boat has left the couple, there is an unnerving feeling that you are in the water with these people.  You shake your head knowingly as the two initially joke about being left behind, but soon you feel their hopelessness as time passes and the frustration they feel at being helpless.  Your heart stops with theirs each time a dorsal fin pops out of the water unexpectedly, and a second later you are breathing again as you remind yourself that they were told these sharks don’t go after people.   And as their mental capacity and grasp of the situation begins to break down, you feel yourself steadily losing control as well.   

The movie is shot inexpensively with digital cameras.  While some critics have found that to be a distraction I find it to add to the gritty realism of the story.   And in an era where reality television dominates the prime time airwaves, there is definitely a hungry audience for it.

Reviewer: John Tunney     

In Torque Biker Cary Ford (Martin Henderson) returns to town to reunite with his girlfriend, Shane (Monet Mazur). Henry (Matt Schulze), leader of the Hellions gang, is after Cary because he stole some bikes that had drugs stored in the gas tanks. Henry frames Cary for the murder of Junior, the younger brother of Trey (Ice Cube), who  is the head of an another gang, the Reapers. 

If you like "Fast and the Furious" you will love this movie!
Full of an adrenaline rush!
This movie is all about fast bikes and action. No softies here!

Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) strikes an intriguing bargain with the Texas high school baseball team he coaches: If they make the playoffs, he'll try out for a pitcher position with a big league team. The high schoolers hold up their end of the deal, and, against longer odds than Satchel Paige faced during his legendary comeback, Morris makes the team, fulfilling his lifelong dream.

I love baseball and like Quaid, but I only give this DVD  
Good for kids
The CV Web-dude


Vin Diesel reunites with The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen for another high-octane, action-packed thrill ride! Xander "XXX" Cage (Diesel), a notorious underground thrill-seeker heretofore deemed untouchable by the law, is coerced by NSA Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) to cooperate with the government and infiltrate a Russian crime ring; if XXX succeeds, Gibbons promises to keep him out of prison.

You know, some times I like this type of junk. Good action flick. I give it
Not for kids
The CV Web-dude

A beautifully photographed rekindling of the classic Alexandre Dumas story. Edmond Dantès's (Jim Caviezel) life and plans to marry the beautiful Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk) are shattered when his best friend, Fernand (Guy Pearce), deceives him. After spending 13 miserable years in prison, Dantès escapes with the help of a fellow inmate (Richard Harris), cleverly insinuates himself into the French nobility and plots his revenge.

I loved this action movie and you will too! I give it
Good for kids
The CV Web-dude

This claustrophobic thriller centers on a divorcee (Jodie Foster) and her daughter (Kristen Stewart) who play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with three burglars in their New York City brownstone. Retreating to the vaultlike safety of the aptly named panic room, the embattled duo must keep one step ahead of Forest Whitaker and his cohorts as they try to penetrate its security.

Plot sounds boring (been done), but the characters are believable and not dumb.
Worth renting. I give it

Not for kids
The CV Web-dude




Finding Nemo (G)

Alexander Gould, Erica Beck, Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Geoffrey Rush - 101 minutes
(Comedy, Kids/Family and Animation) The Academy Award®-winning creators of TOY STORY, A BUG'S LIFE, and MONSTERS, INC. dive into a whole new world with this underwater adventure. The film follows the comedic and eventful journeys of two fish - Marlin and his son Nemo - who become separated in the Great Barrier Reef when Nemo is unexpectedly taken far from home and thrust into a fish tank in a dentist's office overlooking Sydney harbor. Buoyed by the companionship of a friendly-but-forgetful fish named Dory, the overly cautious father embarks on a dangerous trek and finds himself the unlikely hero of an epic journey to rescue his son - who hatches a few daring plans of his own to return safely home.
The Italian Job

Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Christina Cabot, Mos Def
A band of thieves, led by Charlie Croker, pulls off the ultimate heist by rigging the stoplights of the city of Los Angeles so that they can drive right out of the city with a carful of gold (in a safe that they're stealing back after Croker's double-crossing ex-partner, played by Edward Norton, stole it from Croker first), with nothing but green lights, while everyone else gets red lights, thus keeping the roads plugged with the largest traffic jam in L.A. history, and the police from pursuing them.



June 6
2 Fast 2 Furious
Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Devon Aoki
(Crime/Gangster and Action/Adventure) Former cop Brian O'Conner teams up with his ex-con pal Roman Pearce to transport a shipment of "dirty" money for shady Miami-based import-export dealer Carter Verone, while actually working with undercover agent Monica Clemente to bring Verone down.



June 6
Prozac Nation
(Drama) Elizabeth,

Elizabeth, a prize-winning student, is headed for a prestigious college. As she's packing to leave, her mother harangues her about her choice of school, establishing the modus operandi for what will prove to be the turbulent core of their relationship: An ongoing game of emotional extortion. When Elizabeth arrives at university, she quickly befriends her roommate Ruby and almost immediately recreates the same powder keg she has just left behind. The situation is exacerbated by her visits to a rather suspicious psychiatrist. Matters deteriorate further when Elizabeth runs into her father and when she decides that her most recent boyfriend Rafe represents deliverance. Her only choice, ultimately, is Prozac - the wonder drug of the nineties - but before long, Elizabeth is wondering whether the drug is running her life. Starring: Jessica Lange, Christina Ricci, Jason Biggs, Anne Heche, Michelle Williams. Miramax Films. Rated R for language, drug content, sexuality/nudity and some disturbing images. 99 min.


June 13
Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson, Luis Guzman, Eugene Levy, Rachel Nichols - 102 minutes
(Comedy) Set in 1986 when mentally challenged best friends Harry and Lloyd were teenagers, this is the madcap comic tale of their attempt to get out of the "special needs" department and into regular high school life.


June 13
From Justin to Kelly (PG)
Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, Greg Siff, Brandon Henschel, Lavi Rubinstein - 95 minutes

Drama and Musical/Performing Arts) "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson and the top runner-up, Justin Guarini, play themselves in a story that mixes real-life adventures with scripted hijinks.



June 13
Hollywood Homicide
Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Keith David, Lolita Davidovich, Bruce Greenwood - 111 minutes

Hollywood HomicideTwo LAPD homicide detectives who moonlight in other fields, Joe Gavilian (a real estate agent) and K.C. Calden (a yoga instructor and wannabe actor), investigate the slaying of a rap group on stage that is possibly orchestrated by Sartain, a notorious rap label boss who is rumored to have arranged the death of rap artists in the past who wanted to get out of their contracts, and whose head of security is himself a former LAPD officer.


Drama, Western-
This movie will make groan men cry

Following the day-to-day encounters of four cattle herders who roam the countryside without owning a particular piece of land, or "freegrazers" , living in the final years of the Wild West, this film tells the story of how they eventually team up to rid a burgeoning remote town, Harmonville, from the machinations of a ruthlessly evil rancher, Baxter who forms a sort of "outlaw state" where he makes the laws and rules, and enforces them using scare tactics and brute force. Rated R for violence, but not much blood.



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