Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem

To start off, I am a huge fan of both the Alien and Predator franchaises and have all the films in my DVD collection. That said, I hated this latest film and was even forced to set through it a second time as part of a planned "off-site team meeting" with my department. The issue I have is not with the CGI or creatures themselves but with the complete abscense of a plot and just the stringing together of scenes with explosions that supposedly delivered something watchable. On top of that, the story devolves to a single predator versus alien/predator hybrid that was the ending of the last film. No war, no clash of many predators and many aliens = not worth watching!

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Water Horse: The Legend of the Deep

Ever since I was a child, I was enchanted by the true life mysteries of such things as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster. Jay Russell brings to the screen Dick King-Smith's children's book, The Water Horse, who was also the writer of another favorite movie of mine, Babe. The story deals with the coming of age of a young boy who discovers this fantasical creature that must be saved while dealing with the lost of his father to the country's war effort. King-Smith has an incredible way of dealing with very adult themes and breaking them down to being accesible to children while not diluting their impact or resonance. This is a must see family movie that is enjoyable for everyone in the family and not just the children.

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Juno is this year's Oscar darling and winner of the Best Original Screenplay. Juno is a down-to-earth teenage girl who must deal with an unplanned pregnancy from her one-time sexual encounter to the chagrin of her friends and parents. Ellen Page, who was Oscar nominated as well for her role, does indeed deliver one of the best acting performances of the year and makes the dramaedy a must-see film. The cast is rounded out with stand-out performances by J.K. Simmons, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman. For those of you that need to score points by seeing the next chick flick with you girl, go see this and you will be glad you did even if you don't get the points to bank for later.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Charlie Wilson's War

Aaron Sorkin return's to the big screen with this new film featuring the talents of Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman - you gotta love the actors with the three part names. The film revolves around the covert dealings of a Texas congressman who is trying to do some good with his political power by bring attention and dollars to the orginial Afghanistan conflict with Russia. The film is funny and the the political wrangling down right ridiculous at points. I believe Hoffman could play a turd floating in a toilet bowl and I would still watch because he is that good in any role. If you need proof, check out his villianous role in MI:3 and tell how that film would ever have had legs if he was not in it.

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Alvin and the Chipmunks

Alvin, Simon and Theodore are back on the big screen in all their CGI glory - well maybe not glory. I admit as a child I liked the Chipmunks and that is why I went to see this film. Unfortunately, the joy I got from Alvin and his antics to Dave's chagrin and misfortune seemed to be lacking in this film. I think the film is fine to take the little ones to who will think talking Chipmunks are cool but it will leave us older kids empty and longer for the older days when it was still funny to us. Hopefully you can hold out to see this on DVD or cable and not have to waste your money seeing it on the big screen.

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I Am Legend

Richard Matheson's cult classic novel has finally made it to the big screen featuring the star power of Will Smith. After seeing Smith's performance that captures the fear, isolation and loneliness of the main character as he tries to survive and find a cure for the plague that has destroyed humanity, I cannot imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger pulling it off when he was orginally cast as the lead. Smith appears to be back on the top of his game and has recovered from previous box office misses like Wild Wild West and The Legend of Bagger Vance. Even though the movie is more a sci-fi thriller then a horror film, it still delivers on the scares even if they are not as edgy as they could have been. Definately rent this movie if you did not get a chance to see it on the big screen and keep the lights turned off.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Jerry Bruckheimer and Jon Turteltaub bring back the orginal cast with a few new names for the next chapter in the National Treasure saga. This time around, Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) must reconcile with his immediate family to clear the Gates family name as being principals in the assassination of President Lincoln. Hellen Mirren, a favorite actress of mine, joins the cast as mother Gates with other notable actors like Ed Harris and Bruce Greenwood. The plot and action are great and do not suffer much from the been there, done that effect from the first movie. Bruckheimer stills holds on to the title as the producer who can consistantly deliver the big box office hits - keep it up.

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are back together again to bring the blood-letting musical, Sweeny Todd, to the big screen in all of its gothic and crimson glory. Johnny Depp goes on a limb and sings in this production unlike the lip syncing he did in John Water's cult classic, Cry Baby. One of the best moment's in the film is when Johnny Deep and Helena Bonham Carter are together on the screen and the scene looks like it was lifted directly from the Corpse Bride, Burton's stop-motion animated film that starred Depp and Carter as well. Don't let the fact that this is a musical starring Depp fool you in to bringing the little ones to the show - Pirates of the Caribbean this is not. This is another great collaboration that seems to prove that Burton and Depp together can do no wrong.

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The Golden Compass

In liue of the next Chronicles of Narnia installment this year, New Line Cinema brings the next fantasy franchaise to the screen based on Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy. Even though this is based on a children's fantasy novel, the themes in this movie are pretty dark and "controversial" depending on what religious groups you may be affliated with. In the end it is a good movie but more violent then you might want to expose your small child to - in particular the fight between the two warrior polar bears for leadership of their clan. The movie ends with the required setup for the next installment of the franchaise which I am sorta looking forward to. Parents will want to screen this first and then decide if it is suitable for their kids to watch.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tamburlaine @ Sidney Harman Hall

Avery Brooks return's to Washington's Shakespeare Theater this season at the New Sidney Harman Hall to portray Tamburlaine as part of the Marlowe series. Tamburlaine is the rise and fall of a ferocious and ruthless warrior to emperor. This is my second time seeing Avery Brooks on the stage and man does he own the stage when he is on it. After seeing him on the stage, it is clear that his talents were never even tapped while he was on TV and the screen is such favorites as Deep Space Nine, The Big Hit or even Spencer for Hire. I look forward to seeing what he will be in during the next season should he return again.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007


It seems Walt Disney has finally developed a sense of humor about itself. Enchanted is the story of a fairy tale princess who gets trapped in the real world by her evil stepmother (Susan Sarandon) and must find love. Amy Adams, as Princess Giselle, gives an incredible performance that keeps this hokey premise from falling flat on its face while setting herself up to be the first live action Disney princess that little girls will be adding to their doll collections. The musical numbers and action sequences are entertaining and genuinely funny. I will be adding this to my DVD collection for my neices to watch - and me too.

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No Country for Old Men

Joel and Ethan Cohen are back in fine form with their latest cinema masterpiece since O Brother, Where Art Thou. The film stars Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones in a holy trinity of violence, revenge, greed and fate. Bardem's psychopathic killer is a sight to behold as he chews up the screen and steals all the scenes. Brolin and Jones hold their own but the movie elevates to a completely different level when Bardem unleashes his relentless and methodical evil. A must see rental if you cannot make it to the theater.

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Timothy Olyphant, from such films as Dreamcatcher, The Girl Next Door, and Live Free or Die Hard, finally gets to take the lead in this latest video game turned movie. The action and special effects are top-notch and the plot is actually better than most of the recent crop of big budget movies from gaming franchises. Thank god Uwe Bole did not get his hands on this one. How he gets decent actors to star in his sub-par movies is beyond my comprehension. I am looking forward to the inevitable sequel.

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The Mist

Frank Darabont has gone back to the Stephen King well again for this cool refreshing drink of water. His previous King adaptations include The Green Mile and the TNT staple, The Shawshank Redemption. Thomas Jane and Marcia Gay Harden lead the great ensemble cast tasked with delivering King's vision of a community torn apart and polarized by fear of the unknown and the inescapable. Movies based on King novels and short-stories always work best when they focus on the characters and the crucible of their situation. Darabont delivers a great Lovecraftian inspired tale that is disturbing, engaging and accessible to even the most jaded movie watcher.

Click here to check out the official website.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fred Claus

This holiday feel-good comedy should have everything going for it but falls flat in a mountain of plastic snow. Even with Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Rachel Weisz, Miranda Richardson and Kevin Spacey cast in the film it is lack-luster at best. The comedy is tired and slap-sticky and the story never goes anywhere. I love the Christmas holiday but rarely can find a new holiday film that is worth watching. Is it really surprising that the highest grossing films during the holiday season are now horror films - I don't think so.

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Friday, November 16, 2007


Robert Zemekis is back on the big screen with another animated feature thanks to an adaptation by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. The stellar voice casting includes Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, John Malkovich, Crispin Glover, Angelina Jolie and Ray Winstone. The animation is amazing and the dragon is truly a site to behold. I love that Zemekis, Gaiman and Avary were able to take a much dreaded English class reading assignment and give it the epic imagining it deserves. This film is a must-see on the big screen in 3-D or at an IMAX theater.

Click here to check out the official website.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Edward II @ Sidney Harman Hall

Wallace Acton returns to the Shakespeare Theater Company to play the title role in this their latest production. I had not read or seen this play of the Bard's to date and was captivated by Acton's performace of this most bizarre of regal figures. The play was engaging and well produced but not one of my favorites this season. A fine production and worth seeing.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

After Dark Horrorfest 2007: Nightmare Man

A weekend getaway in a cabin home goes awry when the tenants have unexpected guests who are on the run from the Nightmare Man. Richard Moll and Tiffany Shepis, B-horror movie veterans, top out this cast of no-name actors. The plot is sketchy at best and the horror lacking. A rental if you are bored and there is nothing else to choose from on the Blockbuster shelf.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

After Dark Horrorfest 2007: Lake Dead

This movie is a throwback to the 80's Canadian horror classics that were down-right disturbing, badly done and gloriously fun to watch. The film has all the best elements - hot girls, inbred families and ridiculous dialogue. If you liked the films Blood Salvage, Invasion of the Space Preachers, or Humongous then you will love this one. I will be adding this one to my horror collectionwhen the DVD hits the streets.

Click here to check out the official website.

After Dark Horrorfest 2007: Tooth and Nail

Rachel Minor, who starred in the After Dark Horrorfest 2006 installment Penny Dreadful, returns with this post-apocalyptic film where the cannibals are on the prowl. The cast also includes the known talents of Rider Strong, Robert Caradine, Michael Madsen, and Vinnie Jones and does not suffer from any Uwe Boll like direction to screw it up. The film is pretty good and the terror sufficient to keep even a jaded fan interested to see who remains for desert.

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After Dark Horrorfest 2007: Mulberry Street

Nick Damici, writer and lead actor, delivers this year's standout film of the festival. A father's reunion with his daughter just home from the war is derailed when a deadly infection breaks out in Manhattan and wreaks havoc on its denizens. The film is gritty, horrific and the characters are believable in their fight and flight to survive the city falling apart around them. A must-see dark film that does not get derailed in to the realm of comedy farce.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

After Dark Horrorfest 2007: Borderland

This film delivers on the horror and realism that was severely lacking in last year's big screen release of Turistas. Rider Strong, who also appears in Tooth & Nail, gets separated from his friends and pays the price. Sean Astin cameos as a depraved caretaker for the murderous leader of the local Santeria cult our protagonists must escape from. With Help of local hottie Martha Higareda maybe they can survive to get back to American soil and safety. Beware of those native girls and make sure you don't lose you wingman!

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After Dark Horrorfest 2007: The Deaths of Ian Stone

The most interesting entry in this year's film festival and holder of the best special effects title. The story focuses on the recurring death of the lead in parallel and off-kilter lives. It is a combination of the Talisman, Faust, Romeo & Juliet and Death Takes a Holiday. Definitley check this one out if you want to see something new and visually engaging.

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After Dark Horrorfest 2007: Unearthed

Emmauelle Vaugier of Saw II and Painkiller Jane is joined by Luke Goss and Charlie Murphy for this creature run amok film. Archeological digs always seem to be rife with terror and age old beasts that need to be free. A fun film to watch that gets a solid boost with the ever popular Charlie Murphy on board. A good film to rent for a night in on the couch with a pizza and a beer.

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After Dark Horrorfest 2007: Crazy Eights

Six childhood friends return to the place where they grew up as orphans to relive a dark secret. The plot is transparent and telegraphed from word one. This is even compounded by the painful revelations that the audience got with in the first ten minutes of the film but the actors can not seem to get until the very end. Suspension of disbelief is almost impossible to achieve here. How did the producers get Dina Meyer, George Newbern, Traci Lords, Frank Whaley and Gabrielle Anwar to star in this?

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Sunday, July 15, 2007


A pretty girl does not a good movie make. Outside of the hook of having the hot Elisha Cuthbert , there is nothing but cliche awaiting those who want to see this flick. Oh..and no nudity either. There are three genuinely gross scenes to start out the movie but nothing else after them for the hardcore fan to appreciate. If you want to see a good woman in captivity being terrorized movie, rent the 1986 movie, Fortress, starring Rachel Ward.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Evan Almighty

I like Morgan Freeman and Steve Carell but even they can not make this Ark float. A lack-luster follow up to the genuinely funny Bruce Almighty starring Jim Carrey. Lauren Graham is a likable replacement for Jennifer Aniston but the character goes nowhere. The focus on the production was that it was done all green to protect the environment but I think they forgot it was suppose to be funny too. I wonder if Ester Almighty is on the drawing board for the ladies in the house?

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This movie is where Harry gets pissed off and takes his destiny in his own hands - or so he thinks. This book is my favorite of the series because it deals with the personal development of all of the main characters - especially Harry. It is a shame that a lot of what made the book great did not make it to the screen but the movie delivers on the darkness and the pain to come for our heros in training. Imelda Staunton brings the dreadful Delores Umbridge to spectacular life and steals the show. David Yates hits a grand-slam home run and I can not wait to see what he brings to us with the next film in the series.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007


Shia LaBeouf, the former Disney wonder kid, stars in this new PG-13 thriller that reminds us that real evil is only a neighbor away. A modern update to the classic Hitchcock film, Rear Window, with teens in trouble but with good hearts. David Morse gives a chilling performance while Carrie-Anne Moss seems lost in the scenery. An entertaining movie but nothing worth going out of your way to see. It is tame enough to wait for it to come out on network television without losing anything.

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Hot Fuzz

The creative team behind the cult classic Shaun of the Dead are back with their action movie opus, Hot Fuzz. Simeon Pegg plays the over-achieving and by the book cop while Nick Frost plays his comic foil to perfection. This movie is a send up to the buddy action films we all love. The pinnacle of this is the recreation of the classic scenes from Bad Boys 2 and Point Break. These guys are on a roll and I can not wait to see what genre they get their hands on next.

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Vikings and Indians clash in the comic turned movie from director Marcus Nispel who brought us the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Karl Urban, Eomer from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, takes the lead in this fantasy-like epic with the clashing of swords and shields. This movie is violent and graphic like a World of Warcraft game sans the sorcery. A must see for the fantasy fans but a rental for the rest of us. A good Saturday afternoon matinee outing.

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This tight little thriller stars Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as a young couple whose marriage is ending over a personal loss and they get caught up in a voyeur’s version of the Bates’ motel. Both actors give credible performances without going over board. It is easy to believe that the situation is real because the reactions and self-preservation does not go to the level of being absurd. Frank Whaley is particularly creepy in his role as the motel manager. Rent this movie before planning any long car trips to make sure you do not take any short cuts you will regret later.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Coriolanus @ The Kennedy Center

No one does Shakespeare better then the Royal Shakespeare Company. Upon walking in the Eisenhower Theater at the Kennedy Center you are awestruck by the simplistic beauty of the set design. Each actors performance is nuanced and fully realized no matter the scene or amount of dialogue to be delivered. William Houston , Coriolanus himself, entrances the audience as soon as he walks on the stage and before he even utters a word. Of all the performances I have seen this year, this is by far the finest I have yet to ever witness and can not wait until the RSC returns to Washington to perform other works of the bard.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Titus Andronicus @ The Landsburg Theatre

This is the second to last play for the 2006-2007 Shakespeare Theatre Company’s season in Washington, DC. I had never seen or read this play before this viewing. This play pushed all my horror buttons from the get go and was staged beautifully. It was tragic, violent, well acted and visually stunning. It may not be one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays but man does it deliver on all fronts for any horror fan of the bard’s.

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Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Reaping

The ten plagues of Egypt come to a sleepy little town and it is all the fault of a little girl who is the devil incarnate’s spawn or a lost angel. The movie is a mash up of the best parts of Rosemary’s Baby and the Omen. Hilary Swank phones in her performance as it is her turn to be the next big name star to add a horror film to their resumé. AnnaSophia Robb has graduated from the American Girl films to become an impressive child star on the rise. Short on horror for me but a worthy rental for a night on the couch.

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Blades of Glory

Will Ferrell and Jon Heder hit a home run with this comedy based in the world of competitive figure skating. The cameo appearances of well-know legends and stars from the figure skating world elevates this film by the stars ability to laugh at themselves and their profession. Jenna Fischer is a pleasant surprise in a role that is revealing and a break from her Office roots. Rounding out the cast are comedy sure bets Amy Poehler and Will Arnett who eat up their scenes as the couples skating sister-brother team trying to sabotage Ferrell and Heder. This comedy clicked with me where Talladega Nights left me standing in the cold.

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This movie rocks. The previous live action movies were fun to watch but this animated movie puts them all to shame. It assumes you know who the turtles are and does not regress into a long rehash of their origin that is not needed. My favorite is still Raphael with his anger issues and deep loyalties to his brothers. This film has more than enough story and character to keep the adults interested while the young ones fawn over the action. A must see for turtle fans of all ages.

Click here to check out the official website.

Friday, April 6, 2007


This double-feature movie was made for fans of low budget drive-in fair with all their flaws and inconsistencies gloriously reproduced. Rodriguez and Tarantino hit this one out of the park for the rabid fans who love their work. The imagery is gruesome and beautiful, the violence extensive and comic, and the sexuality of the femme fatales hits you like a swift kick to the balls. This is grindhouse done right. See this movie.

Click here to check out the official website.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

September Dawn

You can ask any of my friends and be told that I am not a religious fellow in actions or deeds. But this movie is a must see for history buffs, conspiracy theorists, and jaded Sunday Church goers. I have always believed, and have yet to see any evidence to the contrary, that the world’s worst evils have always been perpetrated in the name of God or someone who believes himself to be God. The beauty of this film is the cinematography that makes you feel like you are watching a home movie of an event you can not stop from happening. This is a small, powerful film that rates a broader audience then it will end up getting before leaving the theater.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Thanks to my friend Jill I got last minute free passes to get in to an advanced screening of this movie that included a Q & A with the film critic and novelist, Stephen Hunter. I can sum this move up in one quote from Josey Wells - “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.” Mark Wahlberg does a good job of being the pissed of American soldier getting revenge on the government evil doers that screw him over. This movie does go the extra mile and serves up its own justice and revenge delivered at the end of a smoking sniper rifle. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the show but leave the political correctness in the lobby where it belongs

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dead Silence

A new movie from the duo behind the horror powerhouse franchise Saw - James Wan and Leigh Whannell. I met this duo at an advanced screening of Saw and the director waxed poetic on his fear of dolls. Now he has a movie dedicated to nothing but dolls and how evil they can be. This movie is worth a Saturday matinee viewing or at least a night on the couch as a dvd rental. It is an ok sophomore film reminiscent of 2003’s Darkness Falls but a franchise it is not.

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Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

I had not heard about this movie until I was trolling MovieTickets.com to see what was on tap at my local theater. This movie is a treasure for the horror fan - especially fans of Michael, Jason, and Freddy. This indie festival favorite is one of the best horror films I have seen yet this year. The film features cameos by genre favorites that are subtle and delivers an interesting take on the making of a slasher serial killer. All documentaries should be this fun.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

The Host (Gwoemul)

A friend of mine sent me a link to check out the trailer for a new monster picture coming out of South Korea that was going to get a wide release in the States. The trailer held great promise featuring Asians running for their lives, a cool looking monster straight out of Lovecraft, evil scientists and a government sponsored hysteria. Image my surprise when I saw the movie that was going to be in theaters the next week on sale at the foreign film DVD stand in a local mall. I picked it up and popped it in my trusty code-free DVD player. This movie delivers all the fun scares, cool effects and comedy you would want from a giant creature run amuck film.

Click here to check out the official website.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


This movie is a video tribute to the core elements of any Frank Miller work - violence, stunning imagery, and sexuality. Unfortunately, the over the top effects and non-stop use of slow motion keep this movie at the level of a digital version of Heavy Metal magazine or a CGI cartoon. The plot is straight forward but the emotional connection between the core characters is lacking. This is a beautifully shot gothic epic but I wanted more from the acting than I am Sparta hear me roar. Let’s hope the director’s next outing does not fore go the acting in lieu of visual effects.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Curtains is a musical comedy set in the Boston Globe theater involving the murder of the female lead while performing her latest production of a westernized version of Robin Hood. David Hyde Pierce is the detective who sequesters the cast in the theatre while he solves the murder(s) and makes suggestions to improving the production as he is stage struck. This production is a perfect example of a Broadway show that delivers with a great ensemble cast who has great chemistry and obviously is having as much fun on stage performing as the audience is watching. David Hyde Pierce has came a long way from playing Myles Fraiser and is a true triple threat on the stage. Tony Awards are definitely in his future

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The Zodiac murders is one of greatest unresolved serial murder sprees in U.S. history. David Fincher’s direction gives us a detailed retelling of the events with an all star supporting cast. The twist of this movie is that the facts of the case are the star of the movie and keep you engaged for its two hour and fifteen minute run. The cast are there to give the facts life and no one actor stands out from the ensemble as the star of the film. A must see for anyone who is fascinated with murder mysteries and serial killer psychology.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno)

I have been waiting to see this movie ever since I saw the teaser trailer at the San Diego Comicon last July. I had the double please of being able to see this movie at an advanced screening at E Street theatre in DC with del Toro present for a director’s Q & A session. This movie is a masterpiece for all to see. It should have been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar but will have to settle for Best Foreign Film. Guillermo del Toro is an extraordinary talent and delivers a knockout punch to the senses that fans and movie goers will be reeling from for the remainder of the Oscar season.

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Eddie Murphy goes back to the gravy boat again for The Klumps 3...uh... Norbit. Eddie Murphy does do the man in makeup schtick well but there needs to be more then this to base a film on. The magic of first seeing the Klumps at the dinner table does not transfer over to this production. The love interest is present as required to make Norbit almost interesting as a character but nothing more. The movie does have laughs but I would liked to have seen something more inspired that we all believe Eddie Murphy to be capable of.

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The Messengers

Sam Raimi’s Ghost Pictures has turned out another fine installment in their line of low budget horror films. You have your typical family in distress who is having to move to a new remote location to get a “fresh start”. The plot is cliched I kid you not but it does get a boost from the duo direction of the Pang Brothers. The ghosts on screen are uniquely realized and do generate the spine crawling creepiness that these types of films require. This film may be worth a trip to the multiplex for the horror fan but most would be satisfied with a rental from the internet or the local video store.

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Hannibal Rising

I will just say it to get it out of the way, Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal Lecter on the big screen. With no previous knowledge of the character or reading the novel, which was released just a scant four weeks before the film, I may have liked this film. The book was skimpy to say the least and absolutely only written to get another movie in the franchise made. Unfortunately, in the process of making the movie, the film makers left out anything from the novel that made Hannibal even remotely interesting or tolerable. This is even confounded by the fact that Thomas Harris wrote the screenplay.

Click here to check out the official website.