ToonTownReviews

 See what movies are good and not so good... Reviews are from the perspective of a ToonTown guy and select reviewers. There are hundreds of collectible posters available thru ToonTownReviews! Click on any of the images to order safely and securely! (This is the sister site of 'OZ - The 'Other' Side of the Rainbow) ***If there is a copyright issue, please email me by clicking on 'Email ToonTownReviews!' in the Links section and I will provide credit, change it to a link, or remove the post.***

    

Saturday, February 04, 2006

"Have you checked the children?" - When A Stranger Calls


Starring: Rutanya Alda, Tony Beckley, Colleen Dewhurst, Charles Durning, Carol Kane, Rachel Roberts


When a stranger calls
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PLOT DESCRIPTION

In this thriller, a baby-sitter is terrorized by an anonymous telephone caller who turns out to be a particularly persistent serial killer. When a stranger calls to ask, "Have you checked the children lately?" teenaged sitter Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) is understandably spooked. After a series of increasingly creepy calls culminates in a request for "your blood...all over me," Jill learns from the police operator that the man is calling from inside the house. One narrow escape and two dead children later, the police capture British maniac Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley). Several years later, the killer escapes from a mental institution and plagues Tracy (Colleen Dewhurst), a hard-drinking New Yorker.


When a stranger calls
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Foiled by John Clifford (Charles Durning), the same cop who investigated the original case, Duncan sets his sights back on his original victim, Jill Johnson, who, now married and out to dinner with her husband, has left her own young children at home -- with a baby-sitter. When a Stranger Calls helped inspire Drew Barrymore's famous opening scene in Wes Craven's Scream. Kane, Durning, and director Fred Walton would return for 1993's TV-movie sequel, When a Stranger Calls Back. Beckley died a year after the original film's release. ~ Brian J. Dillard, All Movie Guide


When a stranger callsWhen a stranger callsWhen a stranger calls
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» Read the Full N.Y. Times Review

» Visit the official site


 

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Friday, February 03, 2006

The Corpse Bride - DVD Release


Voice Cast: Johnny Depp - Victor Van Dort, Helena Bonham Carter - Corpse Bride

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is aptly named. While far from perfect, it’s probably the purest example of the director’s vision in recent years. Freed from the pressure of having to make a summer blockbuster or remain faithful to source material, Burton and his co-director Mike Johnson (along with an extremely talented cast and crew) have crafted a beautiful and bittersweet fairytale.


The Corpse Bride
The Corpse Bride
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Taking a Jewish folk tale as its inspiration, the film tells the story of a touching romantic triangle between the nervous Victor, the downtrodden Victoria, and the Corpse Bride herself, Emily. Victoria’s parents only want her married so they can get to Victor’s money, while Victor himself doesn’t seem ready for marriage, as we witness in an amusing rehearsal scene where he almost burns the house down. When Victor goes into the woods to practice his vows and inadvertently proposes to the Corpse Bride, he finds himself whisked away with her to the land of the dead. Victor is terrified at first and just wants to escape, but, as with Halloweentown in The Nightmare Before Christmas, the ghoulish-looking denizens are actually far more lively and loveable than the people in our world. The fast moving plot finds Victor gradually overcoming his fear and falling for the Corpse Bride, while Victoria, believing she has been abandoned, is forced to marry the vile Barkis. The land of the living and the dead come together, and it’s surprisingly touching to see the fear of the living give way to joy at being briefly reunited with their dead loved ones. The Corpse Bride finally finds peace and her murder is avenged (the identity of her murder probably won’t be a surprise to most people). The resolution of the love triangle may not please everyone, but the final scene manages to be more genuinely moving than the rather saccharine ending to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


The Corpse Bride
The Corpse Bride
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There’s nothing too surprising or deep about the story, though it’s refreshing to see a love triangle where both women are decent and arguably more capable than the hero. Corpse Bride may not offer anything really new, but it’s a simple story well told, with all the magic that Burton brings to his best movies. While there are plenty of amusing moments in the film (including an unexpected Gone With the Wind reference), the biggest surprise is that it’s played straight for the most part, with the puppet characters given almost as much weight as flesh and blood actors. There’s also some wonderfully romantic moments, such as when Victor and the Corpse Bride play the piano together.

Although Corpse Bride is paced well for the most part, some people might feel shortchanged by the running time. The film is 76 minutes long, and it feels even shorter. It’s disappointing that Warner Bros. didn’t take advantage of this and attach a short animation to the beginning of the film, as Disney did with Nightmare. Aside from that small complaint, and the lack of development of some of the characters, the film is a fine achievement in most areas.


The Corpse Bride
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The voice work is very good across the board. Depp plays a nervous Englishman almost as well as Hugh Grant. Carter is even better as the Corpse Bride, bringing real emotion to the character. Watson is very sweet as Victoria. Christopher Lee’s thunderous voice is put to great effect as an impatient Pastor, and it’s wonderful to hear another Burton regular, 87-year old Michael Gough, voicing Elder Gutknecht, a wise inhabitant of the underworld. On the villainous side, Grant’s Barkis, along with Albert Finney and Joanna Lumley as Mr. and Mrs. Everglot, are all superbly hiss-able. There’s also amusing voice work by British comedians such as Paul Whitehouse (from The Fast Show, one of Depp’s favorite TV series) and Tracy Ullman. Last but not least, Danny Elfman provides the voice for the singing skeleton, Bonejangles.


THe Corpse Bride
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Visually the film is nearly flawless. The contrast between the grey, drab world of the living and the colorful land of the dead works superbly. The stop motion work is as good as any I’ve seen in classic Ray Harryhausen films (watch for an amusing reference to him with the name of the piano Victor is seen playing near the beginning), with only the tiniest of CG enhancements to bring it into the 21st Century. The expressions on the characters are so lifelike it’s easy to forget you’re watching puppets.



*By Arran McDermott

 

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

King Kong


King Kong Starring: Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black
Director: Peter Jackson
Fax: 2005, adventure

As a kid in New Zealand, Peter Jackson caught the original "King Kong" on TV one Friday night and was so blown away, he decided to make movies just like that 1933 classic.

Thank heaven his local station wasn't running a Jerry Lewis marathon.

It was reasonable to figure there was no way Jackson could top his monumental "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Yet Jackson's done so with his spectacular update of the country-ape-meets-city-girl love story, his "King Kong" passionately commemorating the original while adding chills, frills and thrills by the boatload.

Peter Jackson's 'King Kong' Just when it seemed Hollywood had reached a visual-effects plateau where all a film could do was pile on more of the same without distinguishing itself from its computer-generated predecessors, along comes "Kong" to swing to new peaks of dazzling digital storytelling.

Apart from a few curiously phony-looking special effects, "King Kong" presents a fantastic world seamlessly blending live action, computer imagery and miniature sets and props.

Likewise, aside from a couple of absurd moments where "Kong" strains credibility even in a tale of giant apes, insects and dinosaurs, the action sequences are stupendous, some almost visionary in conception and design. We're used to seeing bigger, badder variants of things we've seen before in Hollywood movies, yet "King Kong" is a rare beast that startles again and again, each chase, battle and flurry of motion more intense and innovative than the last.

Certainly, Jackson is guilty of piling on throughout "King Kong," indulging himself in an excess of excess like a famished gorilla turned loose at a farmer's market.

Topping three hours, the film is almost twice as long as the 1933 version and feels like the extended cut studios put out on DVD a year or two after the theatrical release. The overlong Manhattan setup and shipboard journey to Kong's island could have been cut considerably, and even some of the action scenes are longer than they need to be.

Still, when what's on screen is as good as this, three hours pass quickly.

Unlike the woeful 1976 remake, which updated the story to modern times and had Kong climbing the World Trade Center instead of the Empire State Building, Jackson's version takes the story back to 1933.

Unscrupulous filmmaker Carl Denham (Jack Black, showing dramatic chops beyond expectations) is about to get shut down by his financiers on his trek to Skull Island, a lost world where he plans to shoot an adventure epic. Denham unleashes flurry of lies to assemble his equipment and crew aboard the tramp steamer that will carry them to the south seas, hoping to shove off before the money men can stop him.

With his leading lady a no-show, Carl encounters out-of-work vaudevillian Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), who proves she has as good a set of pipes as her "Kong" predecessor Fay Wray). Carl cons Ann into signing on and manages to hijack his screenwriter, playwright Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody, a sturdily heroic presence), to complete the script during the voyage.

The screenplay by Jackson and writing partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens fleshes out the lead players into much richer characters than the 1933 version.

Jackson and company also craft a full-bodied ensemble of shipmates: Steely Capt. Englehorn (Thomas Kretschmann), dauntless first mate Hayes (Evan Parke), impressionable deckhand Jimmy (Jamie Bell), Carl's devoted aide Preston (Colin Hanks) and colorful ship's cook Lumpy (Andy Serkis). Jackson also used Serkis' motions and performance as the foundation for his digitally created Kong, the same way Serkis formed the basis of the computer-generated Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings."

At Skull Island, the natives kidnap Ann as a sacrifice to the feared 25-foot gorilla. Having fallen for Ann, Jack convinces the others to mount a rescue mission, leading them into a land that time forgot overrun with dinosaurs, huge bugs, monstrous bats and other creatures.

When the branches begin to creak and the boughs start to break before Kong's first entrance, it's as big a moment of expectation as today's seen-it-all audiences are likely to experience.

From then on, the action and drama never let up. The island natives are terrifying in a demonic, "Dawn of the Dead" manner. The dinosaurs are even scarier. The giant insects will have you squirming in your seat. Kong's battle with multiple tyrannosaurs in a net of vines is one of the greatest action sequences ever made.

Instead of Kong's love-at-first-sight fixation with Wray in the original, Watts' Ann has to work for the ape's affections, her charms gradually elevating her from battered plaything to cherished trophy girlfriend.

As for Watts, this woman can really scream. With little dialogue and only Serkis in a padded suit to act off of, Watts captures mournful tenderness for the big galoot. The relationship progresses from Watts' "My boyfriend's back and you're gonna be in trouble" smirk when Kong shows up to save her from dinosaurs to her profound despair over the ape's subjugation after he's captured and brought back to New York as a sideshow freak.

The computer-generated Kong is a marvel, his movements and expressions embodying primal rage, bestial bewilderment, even hearty humor. The filmmakers suffuse Kong with majestic melancholy and deepen his sense of loneliness with hints that he once had brethren but now is the last of his kind.

From his king of New York chest-beating atop the Empire State Building to his last tortured glances at Ann, Kong feels like a living, breathing character with old-soul pathos.

Jackson sticks in a clever Fay Wray mention early on and offers a dedication in the end credits to the actress, directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack and other co-stars of the 1933 "King Kong."

But the whole remake reveals Jackson's reverence for the original. Many sequences, shots and even individual dramatic beats are lifted from Cooper and Schoedsack's version and transfigured through the director's personal vision and masterful command of the 72 years of film technology that has come since.

"The whole world will pay to see this," Denham declares, contemplating the fortune he can make putting Kong on display.

Jackson can count on the same reception for his "Kong."

*Review by David Germain, Associated Press





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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Big Momma's House 2


Martin Lawrence as Big Momma
Martin Lawrence as Big Momma

Cast:

Malcolm/Big Momma: Martin Lawrence
Sherri: Nia Long
Leah Fuller: Emily Procter
Kevin: Zachary Levi
Tom Fuller: Mark Moses
Molly: Kat Dennings
Carrie: Chloe Grace Moretz
Liliana Morales: Marisol Nichols
Stewart: Josh Flitter
Crawford: Dan Lauria
Trent: Jascha Washington
Andrew: Preston Shores, Trevor Shores
Constance: Sarah Joy Brown


Bottom line: All fat, no substance.
If state-of-the-art cross-gender fat suits and drunken Chihuahuas were the stuff of comic genius, "Big Momma's House 2" still wouldn't be very funny. But as few and far between as the laughs are, this follow-up to the 2000 comedy -- painted in the same broad, no-thinking-required strokes -- is likely to score the same solid business.

Greg Cannom's makeup effects again take center stage, and Martin Lawrence is game as the FBI agent who goes undercover as a very large grandmother. It's the Chihuahua, though, that delivers one of the more committed performances, no doubt because he hadn't read the script.



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After saving Nia Long from the formidable Terrence Howard in the first film, agent Malcolm Turner here merely has to save America from techno-terrorists. He has married Sherri (Long) and traded in his field agent responsibilities for a PR desk job, making local school appearances as a "safety eagle," much to the embarrassment of his stepson (Jascha Washington). But after learning that his first partner has been killed while working on a computer-worm case, Malcolm dons the Big Momma costume and goes undercover without telling the agency or his 8 1/2-months-pregnant wife.

To get to the suspected designer of that worm, which would give its dastardly users access to the U.S. government's intelligence network (assuming the old-school Luddites have created one by now), Big Momma gets herself hired as nanny to the family of an Orange County software exec (Mark Moses). Don Rhymer's screenplay takes some deserved, if obvious, jabs at the new-millennial brand of parenting that churns out overachieving competitors rather than children. But while Emily Procter fits the bill as an activity-obsessed mom, painfully unfunny slapstick takes precedence over would-be satire.

Under the helm of John Whitesell, a veteran of episodic television whose big-screen credits include "Calendar Girl" and "Malibu's Most Wanted," the story unspools with a decided lack of comic energy, wending its way toward the tepid better-parenting message that has plagued more than a few comedies in recent years. Amid some of the lamest FBI maneuvers ever seen, the warmed-over "Mrs. Doubtfire" premise has our hero discovering his maternal instinct while saving the Western world, reconnecting poor little rich kids with their distracted parents, putting the booty in the moves of a clueless white girls' cheerleading squad and helping the grieving family dog find his bliss.

Lawrence has the devilish schoolboy look that makes you wish he'd cut loose more, but the film doesn't embrace the downright ludicrousness of the scenario until the climactic collision with the villains. And then it promptly goes all mushy. Josh Flitter, who made an impression as the mouthy pint-size caddie in "The Greatest Game Ever Played" and who appears to be channeling Jack E. Leonard, injects some oomph as a hacker extraordinaire who helps the hapless FBI agents. Design and other production contributions serve the story in straight-ahead fashion.

*By By Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

**ONE-SHEET

Size: 27" x 41" (typically pre - 1985); 27" x 40" (typically post - 1985)

Type: Printed on paper stock. Before 1985, usually folded; after 1985, usually rolled.

History: Traditionally, the one-sheet (OS) is the "standard" size for movie advertising in North America. The one sheet is undeniably the most popular size for collectors and consumers alike. Most new movie releases since 1985 were advertised using this size


 

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

ToonTownReviews - Special Report - The Oscars


'Brokeback' leads Oscar field with 8 nominations

Brokeback Mountain Tragic cowboy love story Brokeback Mountain grabbed a leading eight nominations for the 78th annual Academy Awards, including best picture and honours for director Ang Lee and star Heath Ledger.


Brokeback Mountain
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Announced Tuesday morning at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif., other nominations for best picture include:

* Capote, a film about celebrated author Truman Capote;
* Crash, a hard-hitting ensemble drama about race relations;
* Good Night, and Good Luck, a story about Edward R. Murrow; and
* Munich, which details the aftermath of the killings of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Brokeback Mountain, potentially the first film with explicit gay themes to claim the Oscars' grand prize, also scored nominations for Jake Gyllenhaal as supporting actor and Michelle Williams as supporting actress. Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana received recognition for their screenplay adaptation Annie Proulx's short story.

The Taiwan-born Lee, who won the Directors Guild of America honour Saturday for Brokeback, is the clear favourite to win the best-director Oscar.

But there was great news nonetheless for London, Ont. native Paul Haggis, who was nominated as best director for Crash. The film won the coveted Screen Actors Guild Award on Sunday for overall cast performance.


Capote
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Canadian auteur David Cronenberg's A History of Violence was also recognized -- with Josh Olson winning a best adapted screenplay nomination and veteran character actor William Hurt receiving a best supporting actor nod for a scene-stealing performance.

George Clooney As far as individual performances go, it was a big day for George Clooney, who picked up nominations for directing and co-writing the original screenplay for Good Night, and Good Luck, as well as a supporting actor nod for his portrayal as a CIA agent in Syriana.

The Johnny Cash biography Walk the Line was shut out from getting a best picture nod, but its two stars Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon earned actor nominations.

Crash Three films were tied with six nominations each: Memoirs of a Geisha, Crash, and Good Night, and Good Luck. Geisha, however, was shut out in the top categories.

Spielberg's Munich, despite a muted advertising campaign and a lukewarm reception, performed well with five nominations, including best director for Steven Spielberg.

Peter Jackson's epic King Kong, meanwhile, was ignored in the major categories, earning only technical nominations.


Crash
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The awards will be handed out March 5 in Hollywood's Kodak Theatre and will be aired live on CTV. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show will host.

Acting categories

There were a mix of old and new faces in the acting categories.

Capote Philip Seymour Hoffman's best-actor nomination came as no surprise. As the category's front-runner, Hoffman has already won a Golden Globe for his uncanny and illuminating portrayal of author Truman Capote in Capote.

Along with Hoffman, Ledger and Phoenix, the other best actor nominees were Terrence Howard as a small-time hood turned rap singer in Hustle & Flow and Strathairn as newsman Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck.

Past best actress winners Judi Dench and Charlize Theron were joined by some notable first-timers.

Along with Witherspoon, Keira Knightley won her first best actress nomination as the romantic heroine of the Jane Austen adaptation Pride & Prejudice. Felicity Huffman, meanwhile, won recognition for her gender-bending role as a man about to undergo sex-change surgery in Transamerica.


Good Night and Good Luck
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Witherspoon beat Huffman on Sunday for the best-actress prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Joining Brokeback's Williams in the best supporting actress category was newcomer Amy Adams, for her hilarious and touching portrayal of a pregnant southern waif in Junebug.

Catherine Keener in Capote, Frances McDormand in North Country, and Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener also won best-supporting actress nominations.

Weisz is considered a favourite for that honour after winning the supporting-actress prize at both the Golden Globes and SAG awards.

Besides Gyllenhaal, Clooney and Hurt, nominees for supporting actor were: Matt Dillon as a racist cop in Crash and character actor Paul Giamatti as boxer Braddock's manager in Cinderella Man.

Hurt's nomination was a bit of surprise since he appears only briefly at the end of the film in his scene-stealing role.

In the best director category, Lee and Haggis are joined by Spielberg, Clooney, and Bennett Miller for Capote.


Munich
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Oscar nominees in most categories are chosen by specific branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, such as directors, actors and writers. The full academy membership of about 5,800 is eligible to vote in all categories for the Oscars themselves.


*CTV.ca News Staff

 

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Firewall


Cast:
Harrison Ford. Paul Bettany, Jimmy Bennett, Virginia Madsen, Beverley Breuer, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Matthew Currie Holmes, Zachary De Wilde, Eric Keenleyside, Jennifer Kitchen



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Summary of Firewall:

Computer security specialist Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) works for the Seattle-based Landrock Pacific Bank. A trusted top-ranking executive, he has built his career and reputation on designing the most effective anti-theft computer systems in the industry, protecting the bank's financial holdings from the constant threat of increasingly sophisticated internet hackers with his complex network of tracers, access codes and firewalls.

Jack's position affords a comfortable life for him, his architect wife Beth (Virginia Madsen) and their two young children - a standard of living that includes a beautiful home in a residential community just outside the city.

But there's a vulnerability in Jack's system that he has not accounted for: himself. It's a vulnerability that one very ruthless and resourceful thief is poised to exploit.

Harrison Ford in Firewall Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) has been studying Jack and his family for many months; monitoring their online activity, listening to their calls and learning their daily routines with an arsenal of digital and video recorders and parabolic microphones that tap into the most personal of information. He knows the names of their children's friends, their medical histories, and the I.D. code for the security station that guards their neighborhood.

Having spent the better part of a year methodically infiltrating every aspect of Jack's identity, Cox is now ready to make good on his investment.

Leading a tight team of mercenary accomplices, he seizes control of the Stanfield house, making Beth and the kids terrified hostages in their own home and Jack his unwilling pawn in a scheme to steal $100 million from the Landrock Pacific Bank.

With every possible escape route shrewdly anticipated and blocked by Cox, every potential ally out of reach and the lives of his wife and children at stake, Jack is forced to find a breach in his own formidable security system to siphon funds into his captor's offshore account - incriminating himself in the process and eradicating any electronic evidence that Cox ever existed.

Under constant surveillance, he has only hours to accomplish the risky transactions while desperately hunting for a loophole in the thief's own impenetrable wall of subterfuge and false identities to save his family and beat Cox at his own game.

Official Site


 

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Monday, January 30, 2006

"Annapolis"


James Franco's Down for the Count With This Military Boxing Movie

“Annapolis” is just one big clichéd mess. This rip-off of a half dozen better military-themed movies succeeds only in putting itself out there as a potential candidate for the Worst Movie of 2006 title (and the year’s just started).

The poster may evoke an “An Officer and a Gentleman” vibe**, but don’t let that marketing ploy fool you. “Annapolis” is definitely not in any way, shape or form able to pull off even a smidgeon of what “An Officer and a Gentleman” accomplished. While it’s not a remake of that specific film, “Annapolis” does borrow liberally from “An Officer and a Gentleman’s” plot, right down to a suicide attempt which, by the way, generated laughs from the preview audience.

In truth, “Annapolis” reminded me of a junior high production of “An Officer and a Gentleman” retold by cast members who could only recall bits and pieces of the original film.

In this weakly scripted military movie, local boy Jake Huard (James Franco) dreams of going to Annapolis but with a C average it’s not likely he’ll get in. But this is a movie – and a Disney one at that – so of course a spot opens up at the prestigious United States Naval Academy at Annapolis right across the river from the shipyard where Jake toils away with his stereotypical dad.

At Annapolis, Jake’s not accepted by the other plebes and we’re supposed to believe this is because he’s an outsider. It’s actually because he’s just an unfriendly, standoff-ish guy who has a crush on one of his superiors. No, not Tyrese Gibson as Midshipman Lt Cole – remember this is a Disney film. He lusts after Ali (Jordana Brewster), a higher up who he thought was a prostitute when he met her in a bar. Nice…



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Since Jake’s the film’s hero, all the other students who seem to be decent people with normal personalities come around to supporting him. He continues to be obnoxious and more often a jerk than not, but everyone begins to respect his determination to overcome the odds of being a working class, average student who somehow earned a spot at one of the most sought after educational establishments in America.

“Annapolis” employs all the standard military film gimmicks. Don’t know what to do next? Punish the newbies. Run out of anything resembling a real conversation? Scream in someone’s face. Can’t figure out how to move the plot forward? Have a character do a complete about-face personality-wise. It happens time and again in “Annapolis” and the filmmakers don’t seem to have been worried that it doesn’t make sense or that their characters’ personality shifts were so blatantly obvious and nonsensical.

A logical plot was definitely not a requirement for getting Disney to say yes to “Annapolis.” Franco’s character hits a superior officer after a fight’s over – after the bell rings and Lt Cole is exiting the ring. It’s a cheap shot and one that should have made Jake into a target of derision for being such a dirty fighter. But that doesn’t happen. In fact, later in the film he hits the same officer again. Logic dictates either of these two acts would get him booted out of the Academy. However it’s Jake’s roommate who gets kicked out after lying about taking a shower. Now that makes a lot of sense.

This is a boxing movie where we only briefly see any actual exchanges of blows in the boxing ring. The camera work focuses too intensely on one fighter at a time or the boxers’ arms or other fancy tricks. Personally I prefer to be able to watch a boxing match unfold, like was done so well recently in “Cinderella Man,” rather than a mass of choppy trick shots.

“The Great Raid,” “Tristan & Isolde,” and now “Annapolis” have made me lose faith in James Franco. Three strikes and he’s out of there. I’d like to suggest he drop the method acting and get back to simply playing a character. He did it so well in the TV James Dean biopic and much earlier than that in “Freaks and Geeks.” Now it’s all about pouting and brooding and it’s just too much. Looking sullen isn’t interesting so please stop it.

Horribly miscast as James Franco’s military superior, Jordana Brewster does however look fabulous in military garb. And that's the best you can say about this bit of casting. Even after running around a track or stepping into the ring, her hair and make-up remain remarkably in place.

Tyrese Gibson’s not bad as Franco’s nemesis and in fact may be the best thing about “Annapolis.” Donnie Wahlberg’s walk-on role is wasted and supporting players Roger Fan, Macka Foley, McCaleb Burnett, and Chi McBride simply aren’t given anything to work with.

There’s a well-meaning story deeply hidden inside “Annapolis.” An outsider comes into an uncomfortable situation, makes the best of it, persuades people to rethink their opinions, and then wins the girl. I’m assuming that’s what we’re supposed to get out of “Annapolis.” It’s too bad the dialogue, acting, direction, and even the set design and costumes had to get in the way of the film’s ‘little guy follows his dream’ theme.

GRADE: D


*By Rebecca Murray

**The movie may not be so good but the poster rocks!

 

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Pink Panther


The Pink Panther
Starring: Henry Czerny, Kevin Kline, Jean Reno, Steve Martin, Emily Mortimer, Beyoncé Knowles

Directed by: Shawn Levy

Trailers: Click here.



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A world-famous soccer coach has been murdered and his priceless ring has been stolen - a ring set with the stunning diamond known as the Pink Panther. The French government needs a master detective to solve the crime and recover the gem...but he's not available, so they recruit Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Comic superstar Steve Martin stars as Clouseau in an all-new adventure of The Pink Panther.



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A stunning pop star (Beyoncé), a soccer player, a Chinese assassin - who committed the crime? And can anyone solve the case? Clouseau and his partner, Ponton (Reno), must unmask the murderer and keep their boss, Dreyfus (Kline), from taking credit for the victory, all without bringing the French legal system to a screeching halt. Get ready to be tickled pink.

On the list of movies that did not need to be remade, The Pink Panther is close to the top, somewhere below Willy Wonka and maybe a step or two above Sam Raimi’s confusing proposal to remake his own movie, but have no real involvement in it . Of course since most remakes are generally a bad idea, the greatness of the original movie means nothing if someone thinks there’s money to be made. At least with Willy Wonka Burton can throw around the excuse that it’s a new adaptation of the book, not a remake of the original movie. The Pink Panther can make no such claim.



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But, if you’re dead set on making The Pink Panther, at least get talented people involved. Were this 1995, they’d have done that, since in addition to playing Inspector Clouseau Steve Martin also helped write the film’s new screenplay. However it is in fact not 1995, it is 2006, a good ten years since Steve Martin has been funny or relevant. That realization is frankly a bit depressing.


 

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