Movie Trailer: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Guillermo Del Toro has proven himself to be quite the cultural force and one seriously talented filmmaker. He returns to helm this sequel to 2004's Hellboy. The films are based on the graphic novel* of the same name. Ron Perlman also returns as the demonic, cigar chomping hero.

It would seem easy to dismiss this film, and its predecessor, as another example of the decline of our society - great, now the devil is the good guy. Its a fair criticism to an extent, this is well designed spot of post modernism. In a strange way, the play of what Hellboy is (a demon) opposing what he tries to be (a hero) has some interesting subtext going going for it.

Del Toro put a good deal of thought into his first outing and created an enjoyable twist on what should have been a predicable McMovie. This one? Well, Perlman seems made for this role and Del Toro's eye for design is certainly in full effect. If the story is sound it will probably be worth the hassle of seeing it in the theater.


Visit the official site



* - "Graphic novel" eh? How fancy, its a novel but its graphic. It's a comic book with better binding. And while we're at it, action figures are dolls.


Screenwriter: Guillermo del Toro (El Laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth))
Director: Guillermo del Toro (Blade II)
Actors: Ron Perlman (The Ice Pirates), Selma Blair (The Fog), Doug Jones (Lady in the Water), Jeffrey Tambor (Hellboy), Luke Goss (One Night with the King), and John Hurt (V for Vendetta)



El Espinazo del diablo “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001)

Should I see it?
Yes.



Fans of Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth will find familiar ground covered here. This earlier film shows del Toro’s touch and has the same mystical vibe as his international hit. Carlos (Fernando Tielve) is left at an far away orphanage in 1939 Spain. There he discovers the ghost of a boy who holds a secret that haunts the place. The final act gets a little rushed and there are some moments harsh sex and violence. Forgiving these things, the piece is intelligent and worthwhile.


Related Reviews:
Fantasy movies
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
The Brothers Grimm (2005)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Beyond Hollywood
Pop Matters

The Hiding Place (1975)

Should I see it?
Yes.


Short Review:
A deeply moving film that perfectly expresses the reach of God’s grace even in the worst of times.



The film centers on a family of Danish Calvinists, the ten Boom family, during Nazi occupation. Headed by watchmaker abd patriarch Casper ten Boom, the family has their lives and faith thrown out of control by the invasion of deep hatred into their world. Casper takes a firm stand against the Nazi movement. In one case he actually begins wearing the infamous Star of David patch the Jewish population was forced to wear. But as the tides of Nazi hatred rise, Casper and his daughters Corrie and Betsie quietly join an underground movement. They soon find themselves helping their Jewish neighbors escape and allow others to hide in their home. It isn’t long before the family is found out and they are sent to the camps. The remainder of the film is very difficult to watch since the narrative offers an unflinching look at the hellish life Corrie and Betise ten Boom endured in the Ravensbrook concentration camp.

The first portion of the film is sincere and quiet. The ten Boom family are intent on remaining absolute to the faith regardless of what comes. This section is quaint in many places but offers some great insight to Christian morality. The family doesn’t turn from the fight when evil arrives on their doorstep, they do what they can to help beat the darkness away. All of the actions they take, every soul they try to save from the cruel machinations of mankind is an act of love and faith.

When they are sent to the camps, the film changes drastically. The opening with its charming displays of reason and faith is just a kind contrast to the hell that follows. Director James F. Collier offers one of the bleakest and visceral portrayals of life in a concentration camp. A feeling of endless dread soaks the camp scenes. The grungy and soulless look of the camp serves as a sharp conflict to the resilient faith of the sisters as they find God even in the darkest of holes.

It is easy to focus on the camp scenes and look to the bravery of the ten Boom sisters. Their willingness to continue to suffer and risk their lives to profess the power and love of Jesus Christ even in the dank barracks of Ravensbrook is stunning. I believe one of the major points of the film can be found elsewhere. I think the real power of the film is in the opening scenes.

The ten Boom family’s faith instills an immediate revulsion to evil and this drives them to literally sacrifice themselves for others when the time comes. It is made clear in the first act of the film that the family’s faith is so strong that it is second nature for them to step up when they are asked. When the family is destroyed and imprisoned their unyielding faith is inspiring. This film shows that their faith didn’t grow out of the misery. It existed in the good times and it was just as strong. I believe this film shows the importance of working on one’s faith when the times are good as well as the bad. It isn’t enough to plead for God to save you when the storm clouds roll in. To have a firm faith you must also go to him when the sun is shines. The ten Boom’s faith is nearly identical whether they’re resting comfortably in their parlor or shivering in cold hell of the camps.

This is a great film on many levels. I highly recommend it. From my review, my non-Christians readers may want to dismiss this piece. I’m telling you that is a mistake. This film doesn’t shy away from the Christian faith but it doesn’t sermonize either. The characters are committed Christians so they act in kind, but this isn’t a Christian film like the kinds we see today. This film is actually well done.


Related Reviews:
Other Inspiration WWII Movies
I am David (2003)
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Decent Films Guide
Rotten Tomatoes



The Carnival of Cinema: Episode 80 - The Blog Guru

Welcome to the Carnival of Cinema, a weekly roundup of the web's best posts about film. Movie reviews, film news and industry commentary, we have it all.


Starting us out this week, Poornimaa Krishnan says there's a phenomina sweeping across Southern India for the past few months - Sivaji. Have no idea what the heck Sivaji is? Fix your ignorance and click over to SHATTEREDGLASS and find out.


Next up, Jeffrey Stingerstein of DISILLUSIONED WORDS has a post about the future of film. He offers a brief but interesting view on film history and his opinion on where we are headed.


If this summer's flock of films and the release schedule I'm seeing for next year is any indication, it looks like we're going to hell in a hand basket.


Remakes, cartoons and superheros, oh my!


Fresh to the new release shelf is the Steve Carell vehicle Get Smart. Vaprak reviews the completely unnecessary flick over at one of my favorite sites, THE CRITICAL CRITICS.


Next, Toni explains the lessons that can be learned by watching Kung-Fu Panda. Click over to Toni's site HAPPY NEST for more.


And now the superheroes. Remember back in the old days when summer movies actually were based on new content and not rehashed, derivative stuff based on other stuff?


Newman says of The Incredible Hulk, "Entertaining enough, but plays it too safe coming off of Ang Lee's more experimental film." Which Ang Lee experimental film? How is to "too safe"? These questions and more are answered over at NEWMAN'S OWN MOVIE CORNER.


On S. Andrew Swann's site GENREWONK, he looks at the summer's big hit Iron Man.


The final superhero of the week is good ol' Batman. Alex Villalba writes about Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and how they tie into The War on Terror. Head over to TODAY'S SHENANIGANS for an interesting bit of writing.


Moving on, we have two posts about Angelina Jolie's latest, Wanted.


First MANNY THE MOVIE GUY offers to explain why it's one of the smartest, pulse-pounding thrillers this summer.


Need to know more about Timur Bekmambetov's big fat McMovie? Matt Adcock reviews the film on his site DARKMATTERS: THE MIND OF MATT.


If you need to know more about Mike Myers' latest comedic deposit The Love Guru? Check out the review on ENTERTAINMENT BUFF. Jimmy will give you the latest on this film that appears to have the shelf life of cottage cheese.



Next on the review front we have Gracchi coming in this week with a look at Robert Bresson's classic film Mouchette. For this, and lots of other brainy stuff, head over to WESTMINSTER WISDOM.


For lots of bloody stuff head over to THE REVIEWER this week who looks at the horror flick The Signal.


For a different kind of horror film - John Travolta in drag = horror, at least in my book; Michael talks about the recent version of Hairspray on his site FREE REVIEW BLOG.


Moving along as fast as we can from the image of Travolta in a dress...


CONAN STEVENS is announcing that the Som Tum movie has launched in Thai cinemas along with a massive publicity campaign. He's now a big shot famous actor - he's also a darn good blogger, head over to his site and see for yourself.


On a different note, on his site BROKEN PROJECTOR, Carnival regular Gautam Valluri discusses Goddard's film Le Chinoise.


Veering about as far from classic cinema as we can, The Transporter is released on Blu-Ray. Head over to Christopher Swenson's HIGH DEF DELIGHT for more.


Go low-def and head outdoors with THE SEATTLE TRAVELER Mary Jo Manzanares. She posts about outdoor movies Saturday nights in Fremont.


Multiplexes have a grand plan to save themselves. No really, just ask Steve Anderson of SOCIAL TRIVIA GAMES - he has the news.


If they're not doing well, maybe multiplexes can beg the studios to stop making such crappy movies.


Closing up the shop this week is another post from Alex Villalba of TODAY'S SHENANIGANS. Alex says of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:

"As one of the best examples to use as the type of influence and impact the Indiana Jones franchise has had, the Pirates films from Johnny Depp’s character, Jack Sparrow, certainly would serve as a great example to discuss (since it’s one of the few that isn’t a blunt copy of it), as it contains a parallel formula that made the Indiana series popular, from the mythological characters to even the extreme adventures around the world."



…and CUT!…and PRINT!


Thanks to everyone for their submissions.




Other carnival editions:
Carnival of Cinema: Episode I
Carnival of Cinema: Episode II
Carnival of Cinema: Episode III
Carnival of Cinema: Episode IV

Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Should I see it?
Sure, but only if you’re a kid.


It is a kid's movie that doesn't have scatological jokes (pee and poop humor), sex references or a political agenda - in other words, it probably deserves a Best Picture Oscar.

This inoffensive film is hardly perfect. The central plot following orphaned inventor Lewis as he travels through time to search for his birth mother is quite solid. The animation is passable. The acting is good. The problem with the film comes with the somewhat irritating series of absurd (and unfunny) jokes that come a mile a minute and distract from the story. Most kids will probably enjoy the movie, most parents will probably have to leave the room and find something else to do.


Related Reviews:
Animated moviesBambi (1942)
Rataouille (2007)

Other Critic's Reviews:
ScreenIt!
Dark Matters


Movie Trailer: Eagle Eye

The trailer is entertaining but I fear it will be the best thing about the production. The film is about a young guy who is dragged into an assassination plot along with a mother. The two join together to get to the bottom of the conspiracy.

Some reasons why this will probably stink to high Heaven:

1. Its directed by D.J. Caruso who is responsible for duds like Disturbia, Two for the Money, and Taking Lives. This is not the track record of someone who's interested in making quality works.

2. It took four people to write the script - it took less people to man a ship to the moon.

3. The title - Eagle Eye? Why is this called Eagle Eye? It tells me nothing about the movie. It's not provocative, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the plot.

Enjoy the trailer, its stupid but put together well.


Screenwriters: John Glenn, Travis Wright, Hillary Seitz (Insomnia), and Dan McDermott
Director: D.J. Caruso (Disturbia)
Actors: Shia LeBeouf (Transformers), Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone), Rosario Dawson (Sin City), Billy Bob Thornton (Primary Colors), William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption), and Michael Chiklis (Fantastic 4)


Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)

Should I see it?
Yes.



A forgotten gem of a film that never received the attention it deserves. Jeff Bridges provides a lively performance as the car designer who ran with the big dogs for a while. Well crafted and beautifully shot, this is certain worth the price of a rental if what you’re looking for is not available.


Related Reviews:
Jeff Bridges movies
Seabiscuit (2003)
The Door in the Floor (2004)


Other Critic's Reviews:
DVD Verdict
Roger Ebert

Babette's Feast (1987)

Reviewer: Scott Nehring


Babettes FeastShould I see it?
Absolutely.

Director: Gabriel Axel
Written by: Gabriel Axel
Starring: St├ęphane Audran, Bodil Kjer and Birgitte Federspiel

Rated G


This should be a boring film. The greatest events in the film are internalized, the characters only speak when needed and the whole piece is symbolic. The story revolves around the lives of two deeply religious sisters who restrict their lives to serving their fellow man in the name of God. The two sisters and the citizens of their small, isolated Danish village sustain themselves on a pale diet of boiled fish and bread. They also survive on the memory of the sister’s dead father, a charismatic pastor who bonded the citizens of the village with teachings of Christian piety and sacrifice.

When a French woman named Babette arrives as a refugee from the French Revolution, the two sisters must adjust to the new addition in their lives. When Babette wins the French lottery and demands to spend her winnings serving a real French feast to the aging members of the community the world is turned upside down.

The introduction of pleasure into the village has some amazing results. With this timid plot in addition to the fact that this is non-English language film, most Americans will instinctively move on.

Don’t move on.

This is a beautiful movie and is another perfect example of how film is an art form to be used to move emotions and ignite the mind. It also proves that a story does not need insane plot twists, nudity or violence to be interesting. If a filmmaker takes care to develop characters with firmly set internal conflicts as director Gabriel Axel does in this story, the tale will excite the audience and speak to world.

This film handles Christian belief and theology with concern. The sacrifice of Christ informs each character in this story and raises each from their base selves. It is obvious when someone acts in a negative way in this film that they have taken a step away from Jesus. The handling of Christianity is rarely as endearing as in this film.

Babettes FeastBeyond the direct Christian elements, there are the scenes of Earthly pleasure. The massive feast Babette sets for the townsfolk is stunning. You can't watch the consumption of this meal without wanting to partake yourself. The presentation of the feast is perfectly delivered and defines indulgence.

Earlier in the film there is a scene of seduction that may be the most erotic scene of a man and woman fully dressed and just singing to one another. It is remarkable how much eroticism is produced in this scene simply by playing off a character’s desire NOT to be seduced and remain committed to Christ. These moments of pleasure are so effective because the characters are so restricted in their lives. By playing against the conflict inside the characters Axel is able to create such scenes of unforgettable excess using such simple visual tools.

If you haven’t seen this film, you must. Despite the subtitles, despite the quiet tone, this is a great film that inspires the audience into thought and filmmakers to produce higher quality works.



Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews





Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

30 Days of Night (2007)

Should I see it?
No.


Short Review: 90 minutes of boredom.

The premise of the film is an Alaskan town that experiences a month of night is attacked by a raging gang of vampires. This is a good premise for a straight-forward pick 'em off movie, its easy to understand and easy to sell. The problem here is that the film has nothing going on besides its approachable premise.

For those of you not familiar with my terminology, a "pick 'em off" is a film that focuses on an ensemble of one-dimensional characters (The Tough Guy, The Determined Heroine With Thin Hips, The Greedy Guy, The Useful Nerd, etc.) and then introduces a mindless killing machine (an alien, zombies, or in this case a bunch of vampires.) The story then progresses to violently pick off the cast of characters one at a time. This is the basis for all zombie movies and slasher films.

Eve
n having low expectations because they're following the pick em' off template, this film still disappoints. There two main reasons for this, first and foremost, Josh Hartnett is in the lead role. Hartnett may seem like a good bet on paper but in reality he lacks sufficient charisma to carry a film. In this instance, he's supposed to be a leader, a tough guy people listen to in a small Alaskan town. He looks more like the former high school quarterback who should have middle management job than someone who can break up a bar fight. When the vampires attack, his lack of masculine presence hollows out the whole production. When you're watching a movie where people are fighting for their lives you want more Charles Bronson and less Alan Alda.

On the other side of things, the villains are equally as pathetic. I understand vampires are supposed to be creepy white guys who mince around sucking on people. This production offers nothing inventive in their presentation of vampires. The whole gang looks like extras from the Blade series. If they're going to keep the traditional look and feel of vampires, fine, it makes sense to keep with the familiar for a dimwit piece like this. It would have been nice if the screenwriters would have given them a little depth. As it is the vampires are all just stock vampire characters without any dimension or purpose. Without properly developed villains the film is drained of any drama beyond the occasional gory death scene. If the vampires had been treated with a bit of flair or given some depth, it could have pushed this movie above just being a predictable bore.


Given that this movie takes itself far too seriously for something that offers its audience so little, I can't recommend anyone see it under any circumstances. This is a waste of time.


Related Reviews:
Vampire movies
Innocent Blood (1992)
Dracula 2000 (2000)

Other Critic's Reviews:
Hollywood Jesus
Culture Dogs


Movie Trailer: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Releasing in December, the latest film from David Fincher (Zodiac, Fight Club) looks great. They've finally released the trailer in English. Check it out below.


video


Screenwriter: Eric Roth (Forrest Gump)
Director: David Fincher (Fight Club)
Actors: Brad Pitt (12 Monkeys), Cate Blanchett (Babel), Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton), Elle Fanning (Deja Vu), and Julia Ormond (Legends of the Fall)

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

Should I see it?
No.


Short Review:
Go find the trailer of the film and play it over and over for two hours. Essentially, this is what the director has done.




***Spoiler Alert***
Its Brad and Angelina, it’s not like you’re supposed to get a good story in the first place. That said, the story, such as it is, is ruined in this review.



The movie is almost exactly one-half good, one-half bad. The meat (or should I say beefcake) of the movie is Pothead Brad Pitt and Angelina “No, I’m not crazy, trust me, I’m sane now, honest!” Jolie as an unhappily married couple who are actually fantastic international spies who end up having to kill one another…or something like that, Jolie kept distracting me and I lost a couple of the plot points. Once the two join forces and they blow up their home the film is actually over. Unfortunately, moderately talented director Doug Liman (the man responsible for having the world pretend the puggish Matt Damon is a tough guy in the sleepy Bourne movies) is too limited to understand this wholly obvious point. The film drags on for another hour after this point.

Here’s a clue for Hollywood directors and writers, have a bad guy. Have a breathing, talking, visible bad guy. In this film, Pothead Brad and Human Lipgloss Ad Angelina are the good and bad guys and their respective agencies are their backdrops. Once the two come together the central conflict and the reason for watching the film evaporates. They are left battling faceless minions of an unknown evil for the remainder of the film. This is why the film goes from a mindless but enjoyable Hollywood flick to brainless and horrid shoot-em up.

The first half of the film is very tongue-in-cheek and well written for having the depth of a Bally’s Ad. This part of the movie is pure fluff but relatively harmless in its own little post-modern way. Pothead Brad Pitt is a charismatic actor and Angelina’s surgeons and make-up artists should be proud. Brad offers some endearing quirky moments and Angelina provides her “turn my head to the left and look out of the corner of eyes at the camera while offering a come hither look” look. Perpetual second-banana Vince Vaughn injects his unique brand of buddy character acting that makes me wonder which beer commercial he’s escaped from. Overall, this is just a plain ol’ stupid Hollywood movie, but a passable one.

The second half is a cartoon based on the first half of the film. Pothead and Lipgloss spend their time being chased by their former compatriots in tedious battles. In the final big battle the two models shoot roughly 6,893,886 ½ bad guys while not messing up their hair. This portion is so mindless and slapped together, Pothead is stabbed in the leg by Lipgloss and he doesn’t even yelp. He pulls the offending knife from his thigh and continues to slaughter bad guys. To make things worse for those of us who can’t help but pay attention, Pothead keeps forgetting to limp for the rest of the film.

Here is my advice, watch until their house gets blown up. That is the movie. The rest is just filler.


Related Reviews:
Films with Pothead or Lipgloss

Meet Joe Black (1996)
Troy (2004)
Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow (2004)



Other Critic's Reviews:
FilmCritic.com
Movie Gazette



Mephisto (1981)

Should I see it?
Yes.


Klaus Maria Brandauer's performance as actor Hendrik Hoefgen who comes to prominence playing Mephistopheles during pre-World War II Germany is powerful and is considered by many to be one of the great screen performances. His performance is striking to be certain, the film itself however, does suffer from being slightly boring. Much of the punch of the film is watching Hoefgen implode under the weight of his own corruption. Even though he only has meager talents, he knows how to play to the Nazis and is given rewards for his efforts. He performs for the rising regime that tramples his colleagues under its heel. The obvious connection here is that he is making a Faustian deal with the devil (Nazis) and he pays with his soul.


There's plenty to recommend this film, a brilliant piece of acting, a strong script and probably the most detailed view of pre-World War II Germany ever put to film. If you're a fan of haughty cinema, you will get your fill here. If you're more into traditional Hollywood fare, you'll be best adised to skip this one.

Be advised that this is a film for adults and it contains adult material - not for the kids to see.


Related Reviews:
Another film about pre-WWII Germany
M (1931)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Roger Ebert
Film Fanatic

Movie Trailer: X Files: I Want to Believe

Hey, someone pulled the X Files out of storage.

Every nerd in their late thirties, early forties is all giddy now.

For all of you kids out there, X Files was essentially the Star Trek of Generation X...you know, Generation X? No...they're the middle management people at work - the ones who are grown adults and have kids but still play video games and still think they have a clue...right, them. Well, this show sold a large amount of marketing crap at Barnes and Noble and was called a "phenomena" a couple times by Newsweek.

In truth, the show was good but not great (except three or four episodes). The show failed to translate to the big screen and suffered a sputtering, miserable death after its lead, David Duchovny, left the show to start a not wildly successful film career.

The fans of the show will be excited. Beyond them, they're going to have to reestablish an wide audience for this. People know the name and know the faces, but can that many people still remember too much about the show to drag themselves to the multiplex? I've been wrong before but looking at this trailer, its not dramatic enough to make me want to see it. I imagine that will be the case for others as well.

Let me know what you think about this. Is this something you're really interested in seeing?


video


Screenwriters: Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter
Director: Chris Carter (The X Files)
Actors: David Duchovny (The Rapture), Gillian Anderson (The House of Mirth), and Amanda Peet (Identity)



The Incredibles (2004)

Should I see it?
Yes.

Short Review:
One of the cleverest films in years. A must see if you have kids.




I loved it. My son loved it. Even my long-suffering wife loved it.
Pixar is making the best movies out there right now. This is sad but true. I wish we didn’t have cartoons beating out live-action pieces, but I have to come to that conclusion. It is stunning when one looks at this film along with the structurally perfect Finding Nemo and Monster’s Inc. and the charming Ratatouille and Cars, in comparison to what the other production companies have been submitting for public consumption. The bulk of Hollywood is being beaten a fat superhero a talking fish.

Disney, who has become the funny uncle of the American cultural family over the past few decades, has their fingers in this pie. Luckily, Pixar was been able to keep the creeping immorality of Disney out of their work. The agendized goons at Disney have turn Wonderland into Sodom and Gomorrah while Pixar has kept their eyes on what truly matters – the family and the stories they want.

It’s just wonderful to see family fare that is actually family friendly. In a time when Robin Williams and Mike Myers doing butt and erection jokes is fair game in kid’s movies, a film such as this is a relief.
The best recommendation I can give to this movie is that when it was done I actually hoped that they had plans for a sequel.

Related Reviews:
Animated movies
The Polar Express (2005)
Cars (2006)
Finding Nemo (2003)

Other Critic's Reviews:A Nutshell Review
Cinema Blend


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Should I see it?
No.



Sure it has style and some people may like the music, but like the original source material, this is just an ugly piece of work. Slathered in sanguine scenes of low lives getting their arteries let out, this musical tells the dark tale of a man bent on revenge. Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) is torn from his loved ones and imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit. He survives jail and returns to exact revenge on those who did him wrong. He joins forces with the sneering Mrs Lovett (Helen Bonham Carter), who runs the worst bakery in London. Todd opens a barber shop above her and begins to slit the throats of his victims who's corpses are sent below to be cooked into her meat pies. This is hideous stuff.

I know since this is a big budget rendition of a Broadway hit, I'm supposed to bend over backward in my praise. The fact is that, other than a humorous appearance by Sacha Baron Cohen, the film has very little personality and even less purpose. The violence is over-the-top and the moral decrepitude of the characters is barely studied. This is just a premise worked out on screen with no meaningful result.

Tim Burton's Mall-Rat Goth style fits well with the subject but his inability to produce three-dimensional characters really makes this film insufferable. Like in his other movies, the people on screen are scribbles of characters who linger far beyond their initial charm and eventually become props to Burton's design work.


Related Reviews:
Tim Burton movies
Big Fish (2003)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)


Other Critic's Reviews:
A Nutshell Review
2 Reels


Just Friends (2005)

Should I see it?
Sure - with cautions.



It is a great deal better than it looks. Not given much of a plot to work with, the cast and crew end with a surprisingly entertaining comedy. A young man returning to his hometown, having left years ago fat and heartbroken, is now successful and fit. He tries to lure his old high school crush. Ryan Reynolds and Anna Faris provide their best work. He plays off his natural charm, she pulls off a hilarious mockery of Britney Spears. Not a brilliant film but good if you're looking to turn your brain off for a while.

Please note, for those who are sensitive to coarse material, there is plenty of low brow jokes littered throughout this movie. Consider yourself warned. The crudity is well played and clever, but crude just the same.


Related Reviews:
Ryan Reynolds movies
Blade: Trinity (2004)
The Amityville Horror (2005)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Reel.com
A Nutshell Review

Movie Trailer: Transsiberian

I like how this looks and the setting, a trans-Siberian train ride, is refreshing. The casting of Woody Harrelson in the lead is a huge red flag that bad filmmaking awaits. On top of this, Ben Kingsley's inclusion doesn't help matters. Sure Kingsley has made some great films (Schindler's List, Gandhi) but is also known for making films so bad its shocking he didn't sue to have his name removed from the credits (BloodRayne, The Assignment, The Last Legion, Species)

Time will tell, but I'd approach this one with some caution.


video



Screenwriters: Brad Anderson (Session 9), and Will Conroy
Director: Brad Anderson
Actors: Woody Harrelson (White Men Can't Jump). Sir Ben Kingsley (Suspect Zero), Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl), Kate Mara (Shooter), Eduardo Noriega (El Espinazo del Diablo (The Devil's Backbone)) and Thomas Kretschmann (King Kong)

Sorcerer (1977)

Should I see it?
No.


William Friedkin's remake of Wages of Fear starts out strongly and then drifts into a series of high tension scenes that fail to impress. Starring Roy Schneider, this film follows a group of distraught men who take a job delivering nitroglycerin across rough South American terrain. Unlike the original, this film does a fantastic job setting up why these men would take such a job, but it loses much of its steam when the men leave to perform their job. This lukewarm production may be worth stopping on if you see it, but it is not worth hunting down.


Related Reviews:
Movies in South America
Aguirre: The Wraith of God (1972)
Le Salaire de a Peur (Wages of Fear) (1954)


Other Critic's Reviews:
The Film Journal
DVD Authority


The Carnival of Cinema: Episode 79 - I Blog on Your Grave

Salutations, and welcome to the Carnival of Cinema, a weekly round-up of the web's best cinema-related posts. Every week people submit their film posts to us and we bring you the best and the brightest.
If you're interested in submitting your movie review, piece of film commentary , post about film news or have industry advice, click on the crazy Melvin below to find the submission form.



And now, on with the show.

Getting things started is CancerKitty from DELSQUACHO who claims that "Asking for a refund after sitting through the entire movie is no different than asking for your money back after finishing a meal at a restaurant." Particularly if that restaurant is serving freshing rehashed crap.


For those who gorge themselves on said crap...and the vomit it up because, let's face it, you're a pathetic fatty (or at least that's what you tell yourself); check out EVERYONE NEEDS THERAPY this week. TherapyDoc uses the film Super Size Me to launch into an interesting post on eating disorders.


"Waiter, take this movie back to M. Night Shyamalan, its undercooked."

Over at MCF'S NEXUS OF IMPROBABILITY, MCF reviews a nexus of insufferably bad cinema - M. Night Shyamalan continues his life long crusade to prove The Sixth Sense was a fluke with the release of his latest atmospheric trip to nowhere The Happening.

Ironic naming something The Happening when nothing happens.

On the subject of nothing happening, Jumper's box office receipts were less than stellar. On OBSERVATIONS FROM MISSY'S WINDOW, Missy observes the lameness of the film.


Steve Anderson observes the lameness of Disney offering some of their films online. How could Disney releasing movies free online be lame? Click over to SOCIAL TRIVIA GAMES to find out.


On the animation front, Kung Fu Panda is doing well in theaters, but that doesn't mean its any good. To find out if it stinks and should have been named Kung Poo Panda head over to see Riley's review at ALL RILEYED UP.


Let's check out this week's reviews:

The first of the bunch is Joe's review of The Incredible Hulk at his site INTERMISSION AT WORK. See if the green guy gets his due or if all of this hype is just leading to another Hulk cinematic disaster.


Next up, Michael from ONLINE REVIEW BLOG takes a look at Iron Man.


If you're sick of superheros bounding around kicking the stuffing out of ominous villains, perhaps you'd be satisfied by watching another cinema/television conglomeration. Get Smart hits theaters, check with Jean Brunet of SIZZLING POPCORN to see if you should hit the theater seats or stay at home.


One of the other big deals in the marketing stream this week is last week's release d'jour Wanted. MANNY THE MOVIE GUY shows up with the goods once again. This time out, Manny has an interview with the film's actors James McAvoy, Common and Thomas Kretschmann. Manny also reviews one of this week's releases The Love Guru.


Since there's nothing good being released this week, its probably good to look to the past for some cinematic gems.

Over at CRITICAL CULTURE, PM posts about Michelangelo Antonioni's Cronaca di un Amore.


Some old cinema gems are really cubic zirconium.


Forbidden Planet may be old and it may be less than brilliant but it still gets the works over at CHAOSGONE.


If you're still looking for things off of the new release shelf and you're primed for a good horror movie, check out Vaprak's list of the top ten horror films from the last 10 years on his site THE CRITICAL CRITICS.

I agree with putting 5 and 8 on the list and number 1 is a good choice - not so sure about the rest.


When you're done watching your little horror movie and need to clear your mind of all of that violence maybe you need to cleanse your palette with something calmer, and kinder...


Martin Scorsese is just the ticket for those wanting to see something soothing and happy. Mark Oppenheimer has the goods on his site LIBERTY ADDICTION with a collection of ol' Marty's short films.


It ain't over til the menstruating woman sings.

Huh?


This week at MENSTRUAL POETRY, Holly Ord kicks around the Tammy Fae corporate vehicle Baby Mama.


…and CUT!…and PRINT!

Thanks to everyone for their submissions.

FEATURE THIS CARNIVAL ON YOUR BLOG



The Reaping (2007)

Should I see it?
No.


Short Review:
The reeking.


Hilary Swank portrays Katherine, an ex-Christian missionary, who spends her time debunking claims of miracles with scientific explanations. Katherine is called to a small southern town that is being inundated with what appears to be replicas of the 10 plagues from Exodus. Sure, there’s lice instead of gnats and the plagues occur in the wrong order but the point is made. Katherine, who has left her faith, is forced to confront her disbelief as each plague ticks off one by one.

Yawn.

The thing about the plot is that it relies on the the stupidity (or arrogance) of its main character. Katherine is shown to be an intellectually aggressive woman with a sharp mind. She travels around the world and is capable of exposing miracles as bunk with ease. All this and she’s still incapable of the intellectual jump that although if she can explain the scientific reasons for the ten plagues that these reasons don't deny the existence of God. Just because you can explain how something happened doesn't mean you've excluded the hand of the Almighty. If she were a missionary, given to the faith she claims to have had, this logical connection would have already been made.

Unfortunately, it is not remarkable to report that a mainstream film places theological concerns on the back burner in order to promote a sophomoric plot. It also isn't shocking that this film doesn't have a deep regard for its Christian characters or the its Biblical source material. Most Christians in the film are shown to be cruel southern booger eaters who spit out condemnations every time they speak. They even go so far as to have the Christian leader be a sweaty, pig-faced Boss Hogg type (complete with all white suit). They’re all thoughtless, impulsive, gun-toting morons who will believe anything – they also don’t pray, mention Jesus or show any reverence towards God at all. Since I’m on the subject of the townsfolk, I’ll also mention they’re all white. You know, just like the real south. It’s nothing but a bunch of angry white Christians sweating on their shotguns waiting to string someone up.

What’s interesting is that this film begins with a depiction of the city of Concepcion in Chile. The city is shown to be a horrid third-world toilet which is being poisoned by an evil corporation. This depiction has nothing to do with the real Concepcion which is modern, clean and apparently free of toxic waste. Did the filmmakers bother to investigate any of the peoples or locations they decided to show in this film?

At least they spread their ineptness equally.

This film also abuses Biblical text for cheap thrills. The plagues don't have a Biblical foundation, and Exodus isn't even quoted. This nonsensical flick offers no connection between the original plagues and the mess this film prattles on about. I’m not against the use of the plagues, but if you’re going to pull from the Bible you better have some context that makes sense IN LIGHT OF YOUR SOURCE MATERIAL. Some of us take this is the word of God after all.

Even forgiving the rather offensive disregard the filmmakers have for the Bible, this film is still an unmitigated disaster. The clunky script doesn’t provide any suspense or mystery. The dialog is functional but doesn’t have any depth or interest. The plagues themselves aren’t visually arresting and aren’t handled to their maximum effect. We’re looking at Biblical plagues and its boring – they actually make them boring.

It’s my recommendation that you skip this film. It doesn’t have the intellectual weight that it should and since it also doesn’t offer any guttural thrills, it can only waste your time.


Related Reviews:Another Hilary Swank movieThe Gift (2000)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Cinema de Merde
Reel.com

Le Salaire de la peur "Wages of Fear" (1953)

Should I see it?
No.



Henri-Georges Clouzot's classic film is a drab, drifting bore, at least for the first half. The storyline of a gang of tough guys who are hired to deliver a delicate shipment of nitroglycerin , which can blow up with the slightest bump, over impossible terrain, promises an effective thriller. It's actually a slow moving, self aware dud. Fleeting moments of suspense (and were probably something in their time) do exist but they come too few and too late. Don't let expectations get the better of you, avoid this one.


Related Review:
Movies in South America
Aguirre: the Wraith of God (1972)
Sorcerer (1977)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Roger Ebert
ReelViews





Movie Trailer: Ben-Hur

Charlton Heston is perfectly cast in this film about a Jewish prince who fights for his freedom after being betrayed by his Roman friend. Gladiator is a descendant of this brilliant and epic classic. Enjoy the trailer.

Click here to read the review

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Screenwriter: Karl Tunberg (The 7th Dawn)
Director: William Wyler (Roman Holiday)
Actors: Charlton Heston (Soylent Green), Jack Hawkins (Lawrence of Arabia),
Haya Haraeet (The Secret Partner), and Stephen Boyd (Fantastic Voyage)

John Adams (2008)

Should I see it?
Absolutely.




Short Review: For some strange reason I kept expecting Adams to scream out at the Congress that he wasn't going to drink any %$#@ merlot.


HBO for all of its lowbrow content and stupid programming does distribute some very good films every once in a while. This seven-part mini-series is an absolute joy. Like
Band of Brothers, another series released by HBO, this production is awe-inspiring in its scope and more importantly, its quality. Across the board this series is an impressive achievement that I can't recommend strongly enough.

The series follows the life of founding father John Adams (Paul Giamatti) from his days as an upstart lawyer in Boston to his final days, decades later, on his farm with his children. What this series is a very strong defense of the man. History hasn't been generous to Adams, who spends his time in the shadow of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin (which is how he spent good portions of his life). This series serves to concentrate on his sacrifice, his ideals and his hand in the creation of the most prosperous and generous country in the world. The film also serves to promote his wife Abigail Adams (Laura Linney) as a foundation figure during this time. Abigail, the first second lady and second first lady of the country, is presented as the "woman behind the man" who not only keeps the overly emotional Adams in line but guides his policies as well.

The sense of reality in the series is what struck me. The portrayal of John Adams is not flattering. He is shown to be an bitter and generally unpleasant man who is the victim of his colleagues' embarrassment and political plotting. He's like the guy at the office who known as the workhorse who everyone dumps work on knowing he'll do it. Sure he grumbles but he'll get it done. Then everyone forgets to invite him out to drinks after work. Adams was abused by his cohorts, then again, the film makes it difficult to find too much sympathy for him, after all, he was rather abrasive.

Kirk Ellis' scripts are hands down brilliant and he should get the credit he deserves. His handling of this epic tale is impressive. He spans huge tracts of time without stumbling or breaking his pacing. His dialog is at once rich and literate while also not being above the head of the average audience. He knows how to use the spoken word to deliver layered scenes and how to use them to establish character. Ellis has a very sharp ear for dialog. His talent is on full display throughout this production.


Given the vibrant scripts, the actors are given rich ground in which to do their work. Paul Giamatti proves himself in the titular role. Giamatti (Howard Stern's Private Parts, The Lady in the Water, Sideways) is absolutely commanding in his role. Easily the best performance of his career thus far, Giamatti presents a man who is brilliant, but tormented by his own personality. Adams' midlife is so consumed by panics of insecurity it would have been easy for Giamatti to become melodramatic in his presentation. Buttressed by Ellis' writing, Giamatti navigates the emotional roller coaster of Adam's life with apparent ease. Alongside Giamatti, Laura Linney (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Breach, Kinsey) gives an equally striking performance as Abigail. Linney's performance is far more subdued, more controlled but nonetheless enthralling. She is the perfect match to Giamatti's big on screen presence. Where Giamatti is a broad performer, Linney is more refined, able to express quite a bit with a well placed smile or turn. The pairing of the two in the specific roles is at the center of this series' success.

Overall, this is worth the investment of seven hours. This series should be shown at schools. It plainly shows the common lives of the founding fathers, shows how they were real men and not just iconic figures. It also presents the birth of our nation in an even light. Most importantly, it is a reminder that this country was founded to be a land of freedom FROM government not a bloated welfare state for the world. The qualities of personal, individual freedom, which are under attack by both political parties, is defended by this production and anything that makes the argument for personal liberty deserves all the attention it can get.


Cautions: There is a scene with frontal male nudity. A man is being tarred and feathered and he is one full display during this torment. Other than this exception, the series is very restrained in its violence and sexuality. The language is not strong and most off color comments are buried in flowery language.


Worldview: This series, as any look at the founding fathers, confirms the hand of God in the birth of the United States. Those men brought together under those circumstances at that time is mind boggling. Throughout the film the hand of provenience is credited. It is remarkable that Adams, Jefferson and particularly Franklin were so flawed as men but were still selected to be the devices which created this land. These men, each remarkable in their own right, combined to create a great country that spawned an ever greater people.


Related Reviews:
The Crossing (2001)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Beyond Hollywood
Movie Hamlet



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