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Movie Reviews


Jan 2006

Hostel

Hostel
Director: Eli Roth
Stars: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson
Studio: Lions Gate Films Inc.

The Plot: Three backpackers head to a Slovakian city that promises to meet their hedonistic expectations, with no idea of the hell that awaits them.

THE BUZZ: Eli Roth, you lost us with this one ... Oh well. The Cabin Fever director's hotly anticipated (?) latest project is reportedly one of the sickest films to be put into wide release; we're talking more ill than both Kill Bills combined. No wonder QT's executive producer. Happy Post-Holidays!

Review

 

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Director: Andrew Adamson
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Georgie Henley, William Moseley
Studio: Buena Vista Pictures

The Plot: The four Pevensie children travel through their wardrobe to the land of Narnia, where they learn of their destiny from a lion messiah.

THE BUZZ: Swinton as the White Witch? I could die a happy man right now. Five bucks says the same's true for Shrek writer-director Adamson, who jumps from DreamWorks to Disney to pilot his first live-action solo project. Obviously, Disney's eyeing this as the first in a potential franchise of seven films, though Wardrobe is the only book that has been optioned to date. Over the summer, the marketing forces behind The Passion of the Christ's global success signed up to work the film; the classy, omni-present campaign will be enough for Narnia to reign supreme until Kong comes to town.

Review: 7 out of 10 stars: Though the effects are impressive and the intent noble, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a stumble-bum of a film. It succeeds neither as a children's film (though more on that later) nor, more importantly, as an epic fantasy, on the order of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. As this is the strongest property in Christian apologist

Review

 

King Kong

King Kong
Director: Peter Jackson Bryan Singer
Stars: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody
Studio: Universal Pictures

The Plot: A filmmaking crew searches for a mythic monster on a far-away island.

THE BUZZ: Facing the unenviable task of following-up his beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy and delivering one of the most questioned remakes to date, Peter Jackson seems to be taking a humble, I'm just a filmmaker from New Zealand approach to his latest project. And he wants fans and the press on his side, so the former's were given lots of production updates while the latter were granted interviews and always welcome on set. His graciousness looks to pay off in historical fashion, as Kong has been heralded as a landmark achievement, and possibly the only film able to reach, or surpass, Titanic's worldwide success.

Review: 8 out of 10 stars: Though not perfect, King Kong is a grand entertainment. Once the big ape shows up it is a nonstop adventure, jam-packed with action and the best realization of a prehistoric world captured on film to date. It's a movie that, like another one of director Peter Jackson's best efforts, Forgotten Silver..

Review

 

Fun with Dick and Jane

Fun with Dick and Jane
Director: Dean Parisot
Stars: Jim Carrey, Téa Leon
Studio: Columbia Pictures

The Plot: When well-to-do marrieds Dick and Jane Harper (Carrey and Leoni) find themselves unemployed and in the red, they turn to armed robbery to pay the bills.

THE BUZZ: Secretly we're happy that Cameron D. opted out of FwDaJ. Ditto director Barry Sonnenfeld. As we said with Spanglish, it's about time that a studio realized Leoni's potential ... oh, wait, we just watched the trailer and take that last part back.

Review

 

Cheaper by the Dozen 2

Cheaper by the Dozen 2
Director: Adam Shankman
Stars: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

The Plot: While on vacation at Lake Winnetaka, The Baker family encounters The Murtaughs, and what should be a peaceful retreat for the two families turns into fierce competition for supremacy on the water.

THE BUZZ: The Bakers are back in what seems to be a Meatballs-style comedy rinsed clean for family consumption. With all the same stars on board and the crowd-pleasing Euegene Levy playing the heavy, this second Dozen should have no trouble surpassing the success of its predecessor.

Review: 4 out of 10 stars: Twelve observations about Cheaper by the Dozen 2:

1. Steve Martin is starting to become really irritating. It's one thing to subsidize your New Yorker-appearing, novella-writing, Shopgirl-starring, Oscar-hosting, Algonquin Round Table-esque intellectual career by appearing in high-grossing..

Review

 

Munich

Munich
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Marie-Josée Croze
Studio: Universal Pictures

The Plot: In the tragic aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics, a Mossad agent (Bana) tracks Palestinian terrorists who assassinated Israeli athletes.

THE BUZZ: When Spielberg tasked Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner to do a script rewrite, production on this project (also known as Vengeance) was postponed, and Spielberg dashed off to make War of the Worlds. Driven to have the film ready by year's end, Spielberg's toughest competition has to be his own ambition. Interestingly, with Brokeback Mountain and Jarhead in the mix, the film doesn't necessarily have Oscar Sweep written all over it. If this were, say, 2004, it'd be an entirely different picture.

Review

 

Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha
Director: Rob Marshall
Stars: Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh
Studio: Columbia Pictures

The Plot: A nine-year old girl from a Japanese fishing village is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto. Able to survive the harsh treatment and training, she transforms herself into one of the most desirable geishas in the land, just as World War II begins to rear its head. Based on the runaway bestseller by Arthur Golden.

THE BUZZ: Steven Spielberg was once attached to direct, but ultimately gave the reins over to Rob Marshall, who made this his follow-up to Chicago. No less than four screenwriters are attached to the film, but they're all top notch, including Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind). The cast reunites Crouching Tiger stars Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh, and also features Ken Watanabe and Gong Li (never mind that they're all from different countries). With all these elements, Geisha is primed as this year's biggest Oscar bait, but will it sink under the weight of all this A-list talent, or take it and run with it all the way to the podium at the Kodak Theater? In ultra-limited release (4 North American cities), the film scored the second highest per-screen take of 2005 (Brokeback Mountain holds the per-screen record).

Reivew

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