Just so you know my reviews are not your typical reviews with a complete synopsis.....they are just my "take."
The Ruins - ok, I tried to read this Scott Smith book and bailed about 1/3 of the way through...it just wasn't that interesting of a read. I rented the DVD and this was even less interesting than the book. At least the book took the time to develop the characters and establish their relationships in the beginning. The movie, in which Scott Smith wrote the screenplay, has almost no character development, whatsoever. Scott Smith expects the moviegoer to believe that a group of American vacationers have a random encounter with a foreigner while in Mexico one day who then invites them to look for his friends missing brother who has yet to return from an archaeological dig. The lead up to most scenes and the scene transitions are poor attempts at film making. It is hard to believe this movie was funded...I'm sure they tried to bank on Scot Smith's success with the late 90's hit "A Simple Plan." Here's a simple plan, skip this movie, unless you're getting paid to watch it.
21 - This movie was based on the novel "Bringing Down the House," which is a very loose portrayal of the M.I.T. blackjack team. Although the book and the movie have been significantly fictionalized for Hollywood purposes, they are both very entertaining. The book itself was a very fast read (I finished it in 2 sessions about 4-5 years ago). Kevin Spacey is well cast as the Hollywoodized MIT faculty member who organizes, bankrolls and leads the on-screen team. When watching casino heist movies I always find myself rooting for the bad guys (the bad guys being the robbers, not the casinos)....consider the MIT team the heisters who try to take the casino's money without breaking the law. FYI....the casino backroom beatdown scene is complete fiction but, it does build the antagonism of the casino. I had high expections for this movie and they were exceeded.