Movie Trailer: Facing the Giants

Some parts succeed while others fail. It pushes its agenda way too hard and many non-Christians will turn up their noses up at the heavy handed dialog. A good film for Christians however.








Click on the romping Christians to read the review


Screenwriter: Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick
Director: Alex Kendrick
Actors: Alex Kendrick

Movie Trailer: The Ugly Truth

Usually celebrity gossip and news doesn't play much into what I think of an upcoming movie. In the case of Katherine Heigl I find myself making an exception. Every time I see her now I am reminded of her spoiled-rotten comments when she refused to partake in the Emmys because "I do not feel I was given the material this season to warrant a nomination." If the woman were busy making Shakespeare or working with Paul Thomas Anderson or Martin Scorsese, but she's just another cog in the Hollywood machine kicking out disposable chick flicks like this. Anyway, when I see her I cringe. Its one thing to make crap, its another to make it and then act like you're above it all.

The trailer? Its effective, gets its points across. Its not my cup of tea but I'm sure Heigl and Gerard Butler will make for a good on screen couple.





Screenwriters: Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz (The House Bunny) and Kirsten Smith (Ella Enchanted)
Director:
Robert Luketic (21)
Actors: Gerard Butler (300), Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up) and Cheryl Hines (Henry Poole is Here)

Movie Trailer: Apocalypto

By watching this you may think this was a great work investigating the fall of the Mayan Civilization. with a look at the stark connections between the all consuming empires of old and that of the West today. What you really get is a common chase movie dressed up with Jungle Book backdrops.

Visit the official site





Return to the movie trailers page


Screenwriter: Mel Gibson (Passion of the Christ) and Farhad Safinia
Director: Mel Gibson (Braveheart)
Actors: Rudy Youngblood and Dalia Hernández



Movie Trailer: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

This certainly looks interesting and it is directed by David Fincher (Zodiac, Fight Club), one of the better directors of his generation. I have high hopes for this one but the presence of Tilda Swinton gives me pause. Don't get me wrong, Swinton is a solid actress, she's a red flag because she seems drawn to pompous films (Orlando, Adaptation, Edward II, Thumbsucker, Vanilla Sky, The Beach). She's not Nicole Kidman, her presence doesn't guaranty the film will be lousy (Kidman, to my knowledge, has the worst project picking skills of anyone since Dan Ackroyd). Swinton does have some good marks on her resume (Michael Clayton, The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) its just that her tendency is to pick insufferable projects. Toss in one of the Fanning kids and Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett working together again, (please let this be more watchable than Babel) and you have some reasons to be concerned its not as good as it looks.





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)


Guest Review: City of Ember (2008)

Thanks to Jeff Burton of BURTONIA for this quick review.

Short Review: This story has more leaks than a 200 year old pipe.


City of Ember is a weak adaptation of Jean DuPrau's children's novel of the same title. Set in an underground city built to escape some unnamed apocalypse, two children attempt to escape Ember's inevitable collapse into darkness as the main generator begins to fail. The story is plagued with ridiculous contrivance and numerous loose ends. Its primary failing, however, is a missing connection between the villain and the main conflict. Bill Murray's performance as the machinating mayor is too laid back to menace, and too serious to amuse. The two lead performances are adequate, but I think the delightfully elfin Saoirse Ronan would be better cast as a genuine elf.

In spite of its shortcomings, this production succeeds spectacularly in the visual department. The set design perfectly convinces that Ember has seen two centuries of decay. There is enough detail and visual interest to make us want the camera to slowdown so we can take in more of it.

But then the silliness reasserts itself and we are treated to a tacked-on monster sub-plot, a father-son conflict that goes nowhere, and the final escape sequence, whose geometry much like an Escher drawing in its logic. In sum, it's a mediocrity unworthy of popular kid fiction.


Click on Bill to view the trailer


Related Reviews:
Other Adaptations
Five People You Meet in Heaven (2004)
Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)


Other Critic's Reviews:
SpoutBlog
Roger Ebert

Movie Trailer: 300

Unequivocally the only movie ever made worth seeing about screaming, half-naked, greased up men.









Screenwriter: Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead), Michael Gordon and Kurt Johnstad
Director: Zack Snyder (Watchmen)
Actors: Gerald Butler (Reign of Fire), Lena Headey (The Brothers Grimm), Dominic West (The Forgotten) and David Wenham (Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)



Carnival of Cinema: Episode 102 - Escape to Blog Mountain

Welcome to the Carnival of Cinema a weekly display of film and bad grammar.

Each week we bring to you the best submitted posts on film from around the world. If you're looking for movie reviews, commentary or industry advice, we've got you covered.


We begin this week with the obvious topic, a teenage girl falling in love with a vampire.


Keira opens up our gaggle of Twilight posts with her views on the film and its casting. Click over to LOVE ROMANCE PASSION to read what she has to say.


For more on Twilight, Toni of WIFELY STEPS lets you know all about it - no literally, she has spoilers so don't read the whole post if you don't want the movie ruined for you.


And for an opposing point-of-view we have POINTLESS BANTER's Bobby Finstock who doesn't mince words and strongly claims "If you're an adult and you're excited to see Twilight, you are an idiot."


Okay...awkward...apparently Keira, Toni and Bobby won't be hanging around together any time soon.


If a vampire flick made for suburban white girls ain't your thing maybe you'll be more impressed with a critically acclaimed Norwegian vampire movie.

Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) is getting great praise. Learn more about the film head over to NEWMAN'S OWN MOVIE CORNER for a review.

video


While we still have the thoughts of sharing a theater with hundreds of screaming teenage girls watching Twilight rumbling around in our heads, let's move on to ZOMBIE CHATTER where Scott Davis exclaims "movie talkers should burn in Hell." (language warning)

Having them cursed to bake in the freshly toked ovens of Hades may be a bit strong, let's start with just kicking them out of the theater and see if that stops it.

Scott also has a look at the Screaming Pumpkins documentary If All Go Wrong.

If that isn't enough for you Scott also has a review of the documentary documenting the life and work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.


We celebrated Thanksgiving this week here in America. In honor of that great day the folks over at BRITANNICA BLOG have reposted Gregory McNamee's Thanksgiving movie article.


MANNY THE MOVIE GUY is likewise getting in on the turkey action with his own list of the best Thanksgiving movies of all time. His site is also sporting interviews with the cast of Milk, including James Franco, and a review of the new film Australia.


At the same time Harvey Milk gets a biopic, ol' Dick Nixon gets another film tossed his general direction as well.

Frost/Nixon, Ron Howard's film about the post-Watergate interviews of Nixon conducted by David Frost gets a write up by Jimbo the ENTERTAINMENT BUFF.


From Nixon and Frost to Seagal and Statham.

Over at OBSERVATIONS FROM MISSY'S WINDOW, Missy compares the action film heroes Jason Statham and Steven Seagal (we assume she's talking about the pre-potbelly & weeping over baby seals version.)


And on the subject of people who kick other people in the face, go see a list of the best martial arts movies of 2008 over at MARTIAL DEVELOPMENT. Personally, my pick from Chris' list is Redbelt.


From butt-kicking to butt-kissing...


Conan Stevens is great at giving a realistic view of life as an actor. This week he offers up his observations on fans, or pretend fans as is usually the case, who flock to pucker up to actors. Good post, go check it out at CONAN STEVENS ONLINE.


In Conan's post he details a moment when he saw Jean-Claude Van Damme cornered by a gaggle of adoring "fans". Sean Kelly also has a take on the Muscles from Brussels.


The new film JCVD (standing for Jean-Claude Van Damme) gets reviewed over at SEAN KELLY ON MOVIES. Click over to see if its better than Universal Soldier.


Had enough of butt-kicking action stars? Okay, let's balance things out with a screenplay analysis of Moulin Rouge. Head over to ZEE SAYS=FILM ADDICT + TEEN LIBRARIAN for more.


...and now for something completely different.


Gracchi offers a post discussing the differences between Hollywood and cinema and another one reviewing The Baader Meinhof Complex, a new film about the German RAF terrorists from the 1970's. Check out both posts on WESTMINSTER WISDOM.



Next up, Audrey Berger has posted an interview with Gail Currey, Vice President/General Manager of Lucasfilm Animation Ltd. To check out the article, click over to her site CRACKS IN THE SIDEWALK.


We close this week with a duo of posts covering the latest Bond.


At RIDING WITH RICKEY, Rickey Henderson takes on Quantum of Solace.


Finally, Liz N. over at KAWNZOO/SOCIAL TRIVA also takes a look at the James Blond flick.


...and CUT and PRINT.


Thanks to everyone for their submissions. Next week the Carnival of Cinema goes on the road. Jonathan Pacheco of BOHEMIAN CINEMA will be hosting the Carnival on his site. To submit your film-related post to his edition, FOLLOW THIS LINK. Thanks to Jonathan for helping out.


The Spiderwick Chronicles (2007)

Should I see it?
No.

The Spiderwick Chronicles

If you enjoyed Bridge to Terabithia you'll probably like this.

I didn't like either.

This isn't a bad movie, but it's not a good one. The plot revolving around some two-dimensional kids who discover a secret magical book. Before too long mythological creatures show up and predictable plot complications ensue. It's not that I don't recommend this movie. It's that it doesn't give me a reason to recommend it.


Related Reviews:
Family movies
The Incredibles (2005)
Bambi (1942)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Creative Loafing
Cinema Dave

Stigmata (1999)

Should I see it?
No.



Catholic bigotry at it feverish worst. The Catholic Church is convicted of carrying on an international conspiracy to keep the world from knowing the true path to God by burying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Based on loopy Gnostic texts and half-truths this film is a shameful attack on Christianity. Even if you hate Christians and don’t mind the bigotry in the piece, you should still steer clear. This is simply a poorly made movie.


Related Reviews:
Anti-Christian films
Will Penny (1968)
Casanova (2005)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Reviews by John
FilmHead



Movie Watching Tip: The Antihero

The Antihero is not a new phenomena (go read Macbeth) but it has become more prevalent. An Antihero is a heroic character sans heroic qualities. He's the lead of the story and may even have a respectable goal but the man himself is a villain. He's a crook (Danny Ocean in Ocean's 11), a vigilante (Dirty Harry), or even a serial killer (Hannibal). With an antihero set in the center of a story a filmmaker can delve into the darker sides of human nature without being encumbered by common decency connected to normal heroic figures. Today's more nihilistic filmmakers have a tendency to want to explore these spots and use the antihero as a vehicle.

The problem with antiheroes is that they inherently propose bad morality to the audience and ask for us to accept their ill behavior as being acceptable. When watching a movie that is fronted by a criminal or other lowlife, be mindful of what messages the film is selling to you.

Left Behind (2000)

Should I see it?
No.



There is a reason why those who complain about the goofiness of “Christian film” cite this production. Based on the silly but yet unbelievably successful novels, this movie does little to impress. Kirk Cameron stars as Buck Williams, a journalist stuck in the middle of the Apocalypse. I was hoping the End Times would come so I wouldn't have to sit through the rest of this very bad movie.


Related Reviews:
Christian films
The Second Chance (2006)
The Omega Code (1999)


Other Critic's Reviews:
PopMatters
Hollywood Jesus


Movie Recommendations #14: Movies with Thanksgiving Scenes

Since it's dang near impossible to find Thanksgiving movies made the same way Christmas movies are made, I thought I'd celebrate the holiday by offering up some recommendations that involve at least one scene of people eating the big meal.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles (1987)

This film, starring Steve Martin and John Candy, reworks The Odd Couple template pitting one clean, finicky character with a slovenly partner. Neal Page (Martin) yearns to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving dinner. Along the way, his life gets entangled with the bumbling but likable shower curtain ring salesman Del Griffith (Candy). There is little about this movie that is complicated or multidimensional. Hughes’ script is little more than a well crafted situation comedy. This understood, the key to why this film is so successful is Hughes’ talent for character and Martin and Candy’s undeniable perfect on screen pairing.


Raising Arizona (1987)

The Thanksgiving scene is at the end of the film during a dream sequence.

A broad audience was introduced to the Coen Brothers with the release of this perfect comedy. I always felt this film never received the credit it deserved. Wonderfully written and cleverly acted, this movie delivers on every level. The wacky plot involves a unreformed thief (Nicholas Cage, in what I consider to be his best performance) and his cop wife (Holly Hunter) who kidnap a rich man's baby son when they realize they're infertile. The plot doesn't sound fun but the movie is one of the great comedic thrills available. This is one of those movies I'd love to be able to go back and watch for the first time again just for the sheer enjoyment of it.


Spider-Man (2002)

The Thanksgiving scene is in the middle of the film where Norman Osborn finally identifies Peter Parker as the webslinger.

Possibly the best super hero movie of all time. Sam Raimi's controlled direction along with the tight script from David Koepp (Panic Room) centers this movie and keeps it from teetering into being a ridiculous joke like Tim Burton's Batman. Thanks to Koepp's sharp writing, Raimi is able to treat his subject with a wink but otherwise seriously. Raimi's goofy inclinations come through in a bombastic performance by J. K. Simmons as the bellowing J. Jonah Jameson but otherwise he keeps his quirkiness at bay.

Spider-Man may not be the coolest of superheroes but he is easily the most likable. Tobey Maguire trades in on this charisma and gives an "aw shucks" vibe to the young hero.

This is a movie that is good for the whole family. Spider-Man isn't cursed by depression (The Dark Knight) or a violent temperament (X-Men). He's just a confused young man with some sorrows to deal with. Thanks to this, of all super heroes, he's probably the most human.

Thr3e (2006)

Should I see it?
No.


Short Review:
It’s the film Saw, but for Christians.


This is a lowly derivative of the film Saw. Since Saw and its subsequent films are a derivative of the far superior Se7en, this movie can trace its lineage there as well. Its not shocking to discover that Thr3e is less than Se7en.

The story has a psycho who forces his victims into deadly games like Saw and does so out of moral conviction, like Se7en. If my continual referencing to Saw and Se7en is a bit monotonous, wait until you see this film. The only thing new to be found with this retread work is the level of tediousness it reaches.

Director Robby Henson (The Visitation) along with Alan B. McElroy (Left Behind) saps any tension from the piece. What we’re left with is a series of poorly shot scenes of dialog and mood lighting. There’s no character development, plot work or tone. One could have taken random scenes of suspense from a dozen network shows, strung them together with discount background music and have achieved the same result.

Do yourself the favor, forget this film was ever made. Go back to the source, David Fincher’s Se7en. It is a high quality film that does its job. It holds a stunningly powerful moral message, while it also entertains. Yes, it is full of ugliness and gore but all of that is in context. I’ll take appropriate ugliness and gore over inept foolishness any day.


Related Reviews:Serial killer movies
Mr. Brooks (2007)
L'Empire des loups “Empire of the Wolves" (2005)

Other Critic's Reviews:
eFilmCritic
Hollywood Jesus


Funny Games (2007)

Should I see it?
No.

Funny Games

Michael Haneke's Americanized remake of his own film doesn't add to the original production. The film is an obtuse social commentary on violence in our culture. Haneke avoids any subterfuge or symbolism and just puts it out there. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth star as a wealthy couple who are visited by a pair of clean, blond, young men dressed in white tennis clothes. The young men, Peter and Paul, (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet) isolate the couple and their adolescent son in their home and torture them by playing "funny games". The film plays off the fear of home invasion effectively but, as it does with the original, it goes too far and becomes almost tedious in it's level of brutality - which is basically the point. At one point one of the young psychos turns to the camera, smiles and asks the audience if they've had enough. The psychos refer to each other as Beavis and Butthead and at one point, when things don't go their way, picks up a remote and rewinds so they can replay a scene to their favor. The killers are there to kill and the victims are their to be sacrificed for our pleasure.

Ann: Why don't you just kill us?
Peter: [smiling] You shouldn't forget the importance of entertainment.

As cruel as this film is and as hard as it is to watch it should be noted that Haneke, unlike the over-rated Oliver Stone and his Natural Born Killers (which takes on the same topics), avoids showing violence whenever possible. He has a remarkable low amount of onscreen violence and there's little gore. Heneke turns his camera away from the "money shots" at the last moment to avoid the salacious film making he's criticizing. He plays on the threat of violence and the reaction to those threats. Of course, it is in many ways harder to watch someone suffer their fear than to see them delivered from it via a beating, stabbing, shooting, etc. This is particularly true of the mortified adolescent son.

I see what Haneke is doing here, and I strongly agree with his overall point. The problem with delivering the message in this way is that it ends up feeding the beast. The film doesn't elevate itself above it's content and this being the case, it will only serve to harm those watching it. Those who would get the message don't need to see it delivered in such a blunt fashion. Those who are not inclined to see the message will only get a rush from seeing all the cruelty.


Related Reviews:
Naomi Watts movies
Eastern Promises (2007)
I "Heart" "Huckabees (2004)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Rightwing Film Geek
Matte Havoc

Movie Watching Tip: Don't Let Film Snobs Get You Down

Film is a lot like cuisine. There are plenty of choices from around the world to match any taste. There are easy to swallow, simple courses and there are more refined selections for those with complex palates. Like you will find with food geeks, film geeks can be an insufferably arrogant lot who take their passion for cinema and use it to make themselves feel superior.

If you don't like Goddard, Fellini, Kurosawa, Tarkovsky or even Hitchcock or Woody Allen, don't let film snobs make you feel stupid. To be honest, while these guys have made some great works, many of their films are deathly boring or confusing when taken out of the context of film history. I've seen far too many film snobs snit at average people who don't "get it" and hear them call them moronic for not troubling themselves with learning about the intricacies of cinema. Listen, films are wonderful and learning about them is one of the pleasures of my life. If they're not your thing then so be it. Just because I know something or "get" a work of art, big deal. I can't fix my car and I know nothing of physics. Never let film geeks snort at you for not wanting to gulp down films that are acquired tastes.

If a film geek really gets in your face threaten him. Almost all of us have no upper body strength and shrink at the first sign of a fight.


V for Vendetta (2005)

Should I see it?
No.


SHORT REVIEW:
B.S. is for…



This film is worth seeing. It is worth seeing twice.

Many critics who are affiliated with the "capitulate at any cost" left proudly speak of this film. They think this to be a powerful political statement. They have it right when they claim this is a strong political film inasmuch as the opinions are yelled loudly and cannot be ignored. Skunks have a strong and memorable smell as well. That doesn’t mean you want to dab some of the stink behind your ear.

The reason I believe this film is worth seeing is because to date there hasn’t been any other product which documents the bed-wetting left’s real view on America and its political conservatives. Christians are seething and angry malcontents who look to oppress and humiliate all whom fall under their whim. Right-wingers search for ways to undermine the human spirit and will consume freedom at every turn. We’ve heard the left blather bromides that imply these things for forty-odd years. This film is a stellar example of how the left actually sees the world. It shows why these delusional saps react so irrationally to what used to be common sense.

Created by the Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix) this film literally promotes terrorism. Evil conservatives have taken over England and now run the place with wild abandon. America has imploded and is no longer a relevant world player. All things liberal, such as deviant morals and sexual acts along with enjoying the fruits of the enemy’s efforts at the expense of your neighbor’s lives are outlawed. In this terrible and dark world we find Evey Hammond (Evey Hammond – EVERY HUMAN! OH, I GET IT! HOW DELIGHTFULLY CLEVER! OHHH! IT’S LIKE EVERYMAN BUT IT’S DIFFERENT! OHHH! HOW SHARP!) Milquetoast in heels, Natalie Portman, portrays the philosophically pliable Evey. Portman, who is apparently trying to making slouching look sexy, offers one of her usual flat and distant performances. When she is at her best she looks and sounds like she is reading the script for the first time. Every time I see her I expect her to stop and ask for her lines. Evey is our avenue into this terrible world where conservatives hold sway. Thankfully, the world’s chattiest superhero, “V” comes to her rescue. “V”, which I believe actually stands for "vacuous", is a potent terrorist who bombs government buildings in protest of the cruel government. He also has a penchant for over-written dialog and self-important political blathering.

The film itself would be rather boring if it weren’t for its insidious political bent. the Wachowskis, in their scramble to seem smart, end up once again looking like fools. They want to smear the Bush Administration but do not have the seeds to follow through. Despite what these privileged degenerates tell themselves, we have free speech in our country and they are open to say what they want. Like a kid who kicks his dog instead of confronting his parents, the Wachowskis move the object of their anger off shore. The child/parent analogy works for this film quite well. This whole film has the breathless antagonism of a teenager’s logic when they can’t get what they want. “You won’t lend me the car, you never loved me and you never will!”

Overall, there is plenty to keep me from really recommending this film. It is blotchy and poorly written. The pacing gets broken constantly by a slurry of sophomoric rants. It is as if the Wachowskis have taken all of the meandering ideas coming from a college dorm ten minutes after all the bongs emptied out. It would have help if they had passed their script on to an adult for corrections before heading into production.

People have been killed and maimed by terrorists and these privileged low lives are snickering in their towers. This said, they don’t have the conviction to be forthright in their attacks. It has been said before and I will say it here, these people are cowards. If things were as bad as they tell themselves, then it is a treason against humanity for them not to speak up clearly and forcefully against the perceived evil. If we’ve been headed into a dark age of fascist hell, isn’t it just as evil to avoid confronting the fascists in plain sight? The Wachowskis, much like “V” are happy to slip bombs under people’s doors rather than to stand up and fight with any real courage.


Related Reviews:
Other B.D.S. movies
Fahrenheit 9/11
Death of a President (2006)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Creative Loafing
Movie Nook


WALL-E (2008)

Should I see it?
Yes.




WALL-E


To be honest, I had mixed feelings about this film. I wasn't as impressed with it as everyone else around me appeared to be. This is a good movie. It has a good script, interesting visuals and it is fun. I thought it was missing an emotional center however. Now, having expressed this concern to others I have found that I am absolutely alone in my criticism. Those around me find this to be an emotionally satisfying love story and a dang good family movie.

Given the overwhelming response from friends and family, I have to admit that it is likely I just didn't click with this one and have missed something.

The film follows WALL-E, a trash compacting robot who has been left on Earth to clean up the trash humans have left behind. He comes across Eve, a sleek robot sent to scout out the planet for plant life. The two robots fall in love. Finding a piece of greenery leave the planet and to deliver the plant to the humans drifting aimlessly out in space. Humans, after being sedentary for generations slurping down Big Gulps and watching TV have become physically gelatinous and mentally disabled. A car and mouse plot erupts as the robots enter the ship between them, the ship's captain and the ship's robotic wheel - it makes sense when you see it.

The plot is good, even with the change in scope half way through. I just didn't connect with a couple of beeping robots. Not being able to get into their, what I considered to be contrived, love story made it hard to really get behind the rest of the tale. Again, it has been made vividly clear to me that I am alone on this take on the movie.

What I did like was the commentary on our disposable culture and the wasteful fashion most of us twiddle away our lives consuming and watching screens. The social commentary of the movie is dead-on and very funny.

While I am a big enough jerk to stand against popular opinion in most cases and call a spade a spade, in this instance I am going recommend this movie not based on my own reaction but on the reactions of others. I have two reasons to do this. First, this is Pixar and they simply just do not make bad movies. Given their catalog, I have to assume I'm the odd one out. Second, everyone I know would chase after me with pitchforks and torches if I went against them on this one.

What can I say, I'm a big wuss at heart.




Related Reviews:
Pixar Movies
The Incredibles (2004)
Finding Nemo (2003)


Other Critic's Reviews:
ReelViews
Dear Cinema


16 Blocks (2006)

Should I see it?
No.


Short Review:
It's like everyone made this film while waiting to make something better.

16 Blocks

It certainly seems like Bruce Willis sometimes makes movies just to be in movies. He has makes blockbuster Hollywood films (Die Hard, Armageddon,) and fields more high-concept fare (Pulp Fiction, The Sixth Sense, Sin City, 12 Monkeys.) Then there is a third pillar of work that acts career filler, a line of tin eared guy movies with a heart of gold (Hostage, Tears of The Sun, Hart’s War) that are neither dreadful or successful. It is as if Willis wants to be seen as sensitive while he kills people. This third type of film tries to have a message but isn’t cooked enough to be served that hot. In most cases, these films are bland, wishy-washy pieces without the potency of neither a message nor the attraction of lots of explosions. Most actors of Willis’ drawing power would probably pass on such projects and keep to making the big-ticket, sure-fire productions. Perhaps he signs on to these projects because he can’t stand the idea of Michael Chiklis getting more roles. Obviously, I have gone down this road because this film is one of Willis’ empty-calorie efforts.

This film has some moments to save it from wasting all of your time but not enough to make you want to see it twice. The film tells the story of weary, drunk cop Jack Mosley (Willis) who runs into a spot of trouble while trying to get witness Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to court. A collection of corrupt cops need to have Bunker killed and proceed to shoot up sixteen, well populated, urban blocks in their effort. This is the kind of plot that works great during fanciful talks over drinks but falls apart when it meets the paper. Since cops aren’t given to starting running gun battles in busy city streets, even to save their own hides, the story never gets beyond feeling like a cheap movie. With a better-developed script and a more realistic path for the plot to expand, this could have been a far better movie. Then again, with better grammar, more patience and better connections, I’d be a better reviewer so I guess life ain’t fair.

Willis gives a stock performance. He replays his role from Hostage but with different clothes. Tired old cop with a history and a failed personal life gets a final chance at redemption. Yawn. He’s involved to pick up a paycheck, not explore the depths of the art of acting. He there’s to be Bruce Willis and little else and in that role he succeeds. His supporting cast is built with two very good actors who don’t do much. Mos Def is the most vibrant person in the film but is also the most annoying. Mos Def is a fine actor who still needs his big break, so he really pulls out the stops, too bad his voice is so irritating in this piece you’ll just ask for him to stop. Doing his best impression of Flavor Flav, Mos Def gives a great performance that is nearly unbearable to listen to. His high-pitched and garbled dialog is not terribly different than listening to a cat being tortured for ninety minutes. The other heavy hitter in the film is David Morse who pulls out his usual tough-guy character. Morse is a talented actor deserving of respect, but there are some films where he seems to know no one will be seeing his performance and just glides through the piece.

The film itself is not visually interesting. The script is in need of a rewrite. The acting meets the requirements of the production. If your settling down an evening of doing nothing, this film will consume your time. If you’re looking for good entertainment or something of value, this will waste your time. Your circumstances should determine your choice to see the film. It's not terrible but it's not that good either.


Related Reviews:
Other Bruce Willis Films
The Sixth Sense (1999)

Hostage (2005)


Other Critic's Reviews:
FilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic


Movie Trailer: Coraline

"From Henry Selick, visionary director of The Nightmare Before Christmas" Yeah, but that can also read "From Henry Selick, visionary director of Monkeybone"

I can't imagine letting my kids watch this. If for no other reason (and there appears to be plenty) I wouldn't want to listen to them cry because they're scared by the imagery.





Screenwriters: Henry Selick
Director: Henry Selick (James and the Giant Peach)
Actors: Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds), Ian McShane (Hot Rod), Teri Hatcher (Resurrecting the Champ), Keith David (The Chronicles of Riddick) and Jennifer Saunders (Shrek 2)

Movie Trailer: First Snow

Jimmy Starks had everything - except a good haircut. Hey, I loved the nineties as much as the next guy but c'mon.

Cool, collected urban guy gets stranded in the scary, unknown world of the Midwest and a fortune teller lets it slip cool, collected urban guy is going to die at the first snow. Cool, collected urban guy ain't so cool and collected no more. Not the most original idea but time based plots lend themselves to tension filled scenes. I like the cast, Guy Pearce, J.K. Simmons and William Fichtner but it's a debut in the director's chair for a screenwriter (Mark Fergus (Iron Man) so that's a strike against it. That's the thing about screenwriters, they all want to be directors.











Screenwriter: Mark Fergus (Children of Men) and Hawk Otsby (Iron Man)Director: Mark FergusActors: Guy Pearce (Memento), J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man 3) and William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)

Movie Trailer: Race to Witch Mountain

Could be good - certainly not great, but good. In many remakes the producers feel it necessary to shoehorn in social/political agendas (The Day the Earth Stood Still is a fresh example) and I was expecting to see that happen here. Looks like they may have avoided that trap. I remember enjoying Escape to Witch Mountain as a kid, hopefully this will be as entertaining for my children.








Screenwriters: Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard)
Director:
Andy Flickman (Who's Your Daddy)
Actors: Carla Gugino (Watchmen), Dwayne Johnson (Walking Tall), AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia), Tom Everett Scott (Boiler Room), Ciaran Hinds (There Will Be Blood) and Cheech Marin (Desperado)

Movie Trailer: Twilight

Why do vampires always have to look like the losers who hang out down at the food court at the mall?

Hey, no sex and violence and it's still doing well.






Screenwriter: Melissa Rosenberg
Director: Catherine Hardwicke (The Nativity Story)
Actors: Kristen Stewart (The Messengers), Robert Pattinson (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), Taylor Lautner (Cheaper by the Dozen 2) and Billy Burke (Fracture)


Movie Trailer: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs



Director:
Carlos Saldanha (Robots)
Actors: John Leguizamo (Land of the Dead), Queen Latifah (Taxi), Denis Leary (Wag the Dog) and Ray Romano (The Grand)


Movie Trailer: Astro Boy

So, how much money do they have to pay to the Big Boy Restaurant chain for lifting their look?*
A boy who's built for adventure...and an all-you-cat-eat breakfast and fruit bar.


Screenwriters: Timothy Harris (Space Jam)
Director: David Bowers (Flushed Away)
Actors: Freddie Highmore (The Golden Compass), Kristen Bell (Heroes), Bill Nighy (Underworld), Nicholas Cage (Ghost Rider) and Donald Sutherland (An American Haunting)

Movie Trailer: American History X

Because we all know that being against race-based preferences is akin to flaming racism.

Looking beyond the obligatory kick in the clackers of the political right and the obtuse display of American flags (and thus making them a symbol of white racism), this movie has plenty going for it. The story of a neo-Nazi who reforms in prison and is then released to find his beloved younger brother heading down the same path is a riveting conflict to watch unfold. At the center of the production, Edward Norton gives one of the better performances of his career. If you can ignore the clumsy attachments director Tony Kaye makes between Nazism and pro-American conservative thought (not an easy concession to make in the final moments of the film) then you will find a interesting drama.


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Screenwriter: David McKeanna (Blow)
Director: Tony Kane (Snow Blind)
Actors: Edward Norton (The Illusionist), Edward Furlong (The Visitation), Beverly D'Angelo (National Lampoon's Vacation), Avery Brooks, Elliott Gould (M*A*S*H) and Stacy Keach (Mercy Streets)



Movie Trailer: The Wrestler

I've been hearing nothing but great things about this, in particular Mickey Rourke's performance. Darren Aronofsky is a very deliberate and clever filmmaker. He tends to drift into the esoteric and borders on being boring are times. Its like he has brainy Tourette's, he's cooking along and then blurts out clips of philosophy or quantum mechanics. Despite his feeding these urges, he has made some wonderfully crafted films (Pi, Requiem for a Dream). This is one of those films that has a certain gravity to it. The trailer is an ad and like most commercials for movies it claims this is a great film. Usually when I hear these claims I ignore them. My gut is telling me otherwise here.

Time will tell.





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Screenwriters: Robert D. Siegel (The Onion Movie)
Director:
Darren Aronofsky (Pi)
Actors: Mickey Rourke (Sin City), Marisa Tomei (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead), Evan Rachel Wood (Across the Universe) and Mark Margolis (Gone Baby Gone)
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