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.***

    

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Poseidon


Starring: Kurt Russell, Joshua Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss



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Review: Review by Christy Lemire, Associated Press

(Los Angeles, California) Long before the big wave hits in Poseidon, the first sign of trouble comes from looking at the cast list.

Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Emmy Rossum, Jacinda Barrett - they're all too good-looking. Not an Ernest Borgnine or a Shelley Winters among 'em.

This pretty much tells you all you need to know about director Wolfgang Petersen's remake of the 1972 cult disaster classic The Poseidon Adventure: it's all splash and no substance. Not a single person is physically capable of uttering anything like Winters' famous line, "In the water, I'm a very skinny lady," which she delivered before her character died quite convincingly of a heart attack. Laugh if you will, but the performance earned her an Oscar nomination, one of eight the film received.

Not that you're looking for much meat in an underwater blockbuster to be visually wowed. Here, the effects are so big and shiny and slick they often look completely fake, like some computer-generated promotional video for a cruise line.

Up close in cramped, soaked quarters, though, Petersen does know how to create a visceral sensation of claustrophobia _ which by now seems to be his specialty, having also directed Das Boot and The Perfect Storm.

But it would be helpful to care about whether or not these scrappy passengers on a doomed New Year's voyage drown once the boat capsizes; in this contemporized version, the characters are rendered so shrilly and superficially, they make sympathy nearly impossible.

In retrospect director Ronald Neame's original does look campy, with Borgnine and Gene Hackman sopping wet and screaming at each other, and Carol Lynley, as the ship's lounge singer, traipsing around in short-shorts and go-go boots. But the film cared about character development. You got to know the members of this motley crew as they banded together and climbed frantically through the upside-down vessel, searching for an escape.



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And the film was considered spectacular in its day, so much so that it earned a special-achievement Oscar for visual effects.

This time you have Lucas, in one of the all-time, laugh-out-loud bad performances as smug professional gambler Dylan Johns, competing for control of the group with Russell's Robert Ramsey, who's mocked for his famous bravery as a former firefighter who became New York City mayor. Learning his identity drew unintended guffaws from critics in Manhattan.

Rossum plays Ramsey's spoiled, impudent daughter, who pouts about wanting to marry her boyfriend (blonde pretty-boy Mike Vogel) during some of the most intense moments of crisis. Kevin Dillon plays an obnoxious drunk named Lucky Larry who's almost as pathetic as Dillon's Entourage character.

Richard Dreyfuss, among the strongest actors in this thing, is relegated to whining and sniveling after his character's boyfriend leaves him for another man, then whining and sniveling some more as the situation grows more dire. And Andre Braugher, who was so great for so long on Homicide: Life on the Street, just stands around feebly as the ballroom floods - and he's playing the ship's captain.

The only vaguely likable characters are Barrett's single-mother Maggie and her nine-year-old son, Conor (Jimmy Bennett), but even they're not fleshed out sufficiently in the script from Mark Protosevich to make us feel for them.

Everyone's plight quickly grows repetitive. They climb a bit, they get soaked, someone almost drowns, something explodes, they climb some more - all to the tune of overblown, frenzied music.


Poseidon
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"There's got to be a morning after," went the Oscar-winning song from the original. In Poseidon, daylight can't come soon enough.


 

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Idlewild


Starring: Big Boi, Andre 3000


Idlewild
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Review: The duo OutKast has tried to do something unique with "Idlewild," a musical drama set in the 1930s. It wildly blends genres and eras, featuring a high-class cast and heavy visual tricks.

The film is extraordinarily imaginative, often stylish and fun — what else would you expect from co-stars and co-producers Andre Benjamin and Antwan A. Patton? — and at times it can even be magical.

Ultimately, though, the pervading anachronism is just too jarring. The rich, deep visual texture becomes too overbearing. And the movie feels like it will just never end.


Idlewild

Idlewild Idlewild

Idlewild
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Bryan Barber, who directed OutKast's videos for "Hey Ya!" and "The Way You Move," writes and directs his first feature film here. But don't expect anything like those phenomenally catchy, painfully overplayed hits.

The songs in "Idlewild" (and the recently released accompanying soundtrack disc) include a mystifying mix of rap, swing, jazz and R&B. Maybe they work when you're listening to them on your headphones, but on stage, in film form, they come off as strangely inert. And that's the last word you'd ordinarily use for such a vibrant, dynamic group.

The story itself, rooted firmly in longtime showbiz cliches, isn't terribly compelling either.

Childhood friends Percival (Benjamin, aka Andre 3000) and Rooster (Patton, aka Big Boi) have long dreamed of stardom while growing up in small-town Idlewild, Ga. Percival, the quiet one, plays piano and writes songs when he isn't helping his mortician father (Ben Vereen) with the family business. Rooster, the troublemaker, hams it up as a song-and-dance man to the increasing frustration of his wife (Malinda Williams), who'd rather have him stay at home nights with their five children.

Everything changes with the arrival of two people at the Church, the speakeasy where they perform and where dancers take over the floor with awe-inspiring acrobatic choreography, the work of Tony winner Hinton Battle. (Macy Gray plays another of the regular singers at the club, and it is sort of a hoot to see her perform in a slinky, sparkly red evening gown with gloves and pin curls instead of her usual T-shirts and wild-child 'fro.)

One is crime boss Spats (Ving Rhames), who says he's getting out of the business and offers to sell a piece of it to the Church's owner, the bombastic Ace (Faizon Love). Standing alongside Spats is his second-in-command, Trumpy, played with supple, subtle menace by the always-terrific Terrence Howard. ("Idlewild" could use a lot more of him; he helps ground things, provides substance when the whole endeavor feels just too unreal.)

The other is the dazzlingly beautiful Angel Davenport (Paula Patton, no relation to Antwan), a high-maintenance singer who's scheduled to perform for the next four weeks, but who's carrying a big secret. Angel has her sights set on the bright lights of Chicago and New York, naturally, and once she and Percival form a romantic connection through their music, she begs him to ditch his roots and hitch his wagon to her star.

Andre 3000 is nuanced enough to make his shy, conflicted character believable (and ever the dapper dresser in real life, he wears the tailored period clothes flawlessly). But Big Boi is supposed to be the bad boy of the two, and the character just isn't engaging enough for him to make it work. Even a spiritual encounter on a dirt road with Cicely Tyson doesn't help flesh him out.

Percival, borrowing from Shakespeare, repeatedly says throughout the film's prodigious use of voiceover: "All the world's a stage and the men and women merely players." Too often, it feels like the men and women of "Idlewild" are simply playing an elaborate game of dress-up.


*Review by Christy Lemire, Associated Press

 

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

INVINCIBLE


Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Conway, Michael Rispoli, Kirk Acevedo, Dov Davidoff, Michael Kelly


INVINCIBLE
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Synopsis: When the coach (Greg Kinnear) of the beloved hometown football team hosts an unprecedented open tryout, the public consensus was that it was a waste of time -- no one good enough to play professional football was going to be found this way.

Certainly no one like Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg), a down-on-his-luck 30-year-old teacher and part-time bartender who never even played college football. But against these odds, Papale makes the team and lives every fan’s fantasy -- moving from his cheap seats in the stands to standing on the field as a professional football player.

Inspired by a true story.

Review: In the latest Disney true sports story, bartender Vince Papale (Wahlberg) tries out for the Philadelphia Eagles in open tryouts and wins a spot on the team. Even though all his loser friends keep telling him to stop trying, even after he’s made it, he must persevere. Imagine what would happen if he didn’t? There’d be no underdog. Noooooooo!

Disney did well making racism fun to overcome in Remember the Titans, making it cool to neglect your family in The Rookie and by making the most famous sporting event in Olympic history suspenseful in Miracle. Even the golf movie was awesome.

Now they’ve run out of ideas. Glory Road was racism again and Invincible is another average joe joining the team. Audiences are pretty forgiving of formula, but when you start getting into subcategories of knockoffs, it’s too much of a stretch.

The first go-round, you felt there was some heart in discovering these stories. Now they’re pandering so much it’s insulting. First of all, this is Disney’s version of losers. Vince has no work because he lost his teaching job, but he’s still bartending so he’s not a bum. His friends can’t find work either. There’s talk about a strike but strikers can take temp jobs. All they do is talk about being failures. We never see anyone failing because god forbid we might not like one of the characters.

So far, the only obstacle in Vince’s path are the losers badmouthing him. Is that really a great triumph? Yeah, tryouts are hard and the veteran athletes resent him, but dude, what else does he have to do? The Rookie had a family to support so it was a real dilemma. If you’re divorced, alone and jobless, and there are tryouts, and you make the cut, what’s the issue?

--more--

*Review by Fred Topel, CanMag - Movie Reviews

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