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Friday, March 13, 2009


Watchmen Watchmen
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Starring: Malin Akerman ... Laurie Jupiter / Silk Spectre II

Billy Crudup ... Dr. Manhattan / Jon Osterman

Matthew Goode ... Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias

Jackie Earle Haley ... Walter Kovacs / Rorschach

Jeffrey Dean Morgan ... Edward Blake / The Comedian

Patrick Wilson ... Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl II

Carla Gugino ... Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre

Matt Frewer ... Edgar Jacobi / Moloch the Mystic

Stephen McHattie ... Hollis Mason / Nite Owl

Laura Mennell ... Janey Slater

Rob LaBelle ... Wally Weaver

Gary Houston ... John McLaughlin

James M. Connor ... Pat Buchanan (as James Michael Connor)

Mary Ann Burger ... Eleanor Clift

John Shaw ... Doug Roth

Watchmen Watchmen Watchmen
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Synopsis: In a gritty and alternate 1985 the glory days of costumed vigilantes have been brought to a close by a government crackdown, but after one of the masked veterans is brutally murdered an investigation into the killer is initiated. The reunited heroes set out to prevent their own destruction, but in doing so discover a deeper and far more diabolical plot. Written by evan murphy

"Watchmen" is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the "Doomsday Clock" - which charts the USA's tension with the Soviet Union - is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion - a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers - Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity... but who is watching the Watchmen?" Written by T-Hen

It's the 1980's and it's a different world. Superheroes have been outlawed, the only ones still in operation under direct control of the United States government. Suddenly, those heroes both still in action and retired find themselves targets by an unseen enemy, who wants to kill them one by one Written by Anonymous

A group of heroes, forced into retirement a decade before are called together once again to investigate the murder of one of their own. What they discover an age-old conspiracy to change the balance of power in a world not different from our own. Written by Kent Sanderson

An adaptation of Alan Moore's landmark comic book series, Watchmen is a story set in an alternative 1985, where the world is ticking closer to the brink of nuclear war, and a plot to eliminate a band of ex-crimefighters is instigated, but why? and by whom? It is up to two of those ex-crimefighters to investigate the plot that seems to go beyond the unthinkable.
--Written by Ruckwood

Their mission is to watch over humanity... but who is watching the Watchmen?"

Review: by Kevin Buist Director Zack Snyder has succeeded in doing the impossible: he has adapted the “unfilmable” graphic novel, Watchmen, to the screen. While there’s no doubt that he has made the movie with surprisingly little deviation from the source material, that doesn’t mean he has made a good film. In many ways, Watchmen is a case study in the inherent differences between the comic page and the screen. Success on screen, even if the adaptation is faithful, is not guaranteed.

The story (in case you didn’t piece it together from the constant barrage of trailers and posters clogging the internet since last summer) revolves around a group of costumed super heroes whose fates intertwine with the events of the twentieth century. Set in an alternate 1985, the world is on the brink of nuclear holocaust. The action is set in motion by the murder of The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a retired hero with dubious morals. The outlawed heroes fight to avert impending doom, and spur to action the only one among them with the power to single-handedly save the world, Dr. Manhattan. Played by a blue CGI mock-up of a naked, impossibly ripped Billy Crudup, Dr. Manhattan is the result of an experiment gone wrong. He is the only hero with supernatural powers, which are inconceivably vast, and has become the lynchpin in the United States’ defense strategy against the Soviets. His powers have gradually separated him from the plight of humanity, illustrated by his failing relationship with Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), a sexy, second-generation heroine.

There’s a concern that the web of back-stories and sizable cast of characters could render the film inaccessible to those who haven’t read the graphic novel. On the contrary, I think the Watchmen virgins are at an advantage going into the film. Snyder covers a dizzying amount of material, staying true to the core of the original story even while making some significant cuts. For Watchmen fans, I think the problem is not the cuts, but rather the treatment of some of the material that’s left in. Hollywood seems to assume that comic books are ready-made storyboards, in need only of several million dollars of CGI to come to life. In many ways, Watchmen is a collection of examples which show why the formula is much more complicated than that.

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The opening credits stride through several decades of alternate history, showing how the Watchmen, and their predecessors the Minutemen, fit into American history. Rather than produce old-looking photos, or depict Dr. Manhattan shaking JFK’s hand in the grainy film of the day, a la Forrest Gump, Snyder sets up nearly still live action scenes. The camera pulls out of these mostly frozen moments, giving a nostalgic feeling of living within the photos. It’s a nice effect, but it’s also extremely fake looking. There’s something very odd about seeing actors you know were told to hold very still, like they’re faking slow motion. At first this really turned me off, but then I began to like it. As the montage went on, it began to feel self-consciously fake, as if these scenes are not depictions of the actual events, but rather glorified memories, existing only in the minds of aging super heroes.

After the credits, the film continues to make drastic jumps in tone and pace. Some of these work quite well, while others do not. About half way into the film, after being pulled in repeatedly by stunning sequences and shunted back out by unsuccessful ones, I found a pattern: the movie works really well when it doesn’t try to be an actual movie. Many passages, the majority of the film even, are a delight to watch. But when the film needs to slow down and just let a scene play, a scene which needs no visual flourishes but is still important, it seems bored with itself. A perfect example is The Comedian’s burial. Rather than inner-cut wide shots of somber figures gathered around the grave with contemplative close-ups, Snyder instead decides to use movie magic to make the camera fly from a tight shot of a stone angel statue back, back, flying over the mourners, cutting through the rain, until the camera itself passes through an impossibly small hole in a wrought-iron sign that reads “Cemetery.” Scenes like this made me wish Snyder could have somehow kept the entire film in music video mode, where it really sings.

For every dramatic visual improvement the film offers, there’s a lack-luster chunk of dialog that sounds as though the actors are reading the comic aloud. There’s plenty of voiceover, the filmic version of comics’ ubiquitous narration boxes, with Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), a grizzled anti-hero with a simmering contempt for the city he’s trying to save, each narrating portions of the film. Alan Moore, who wrote the graphic novel but has distanced himself from the film, penned passages that are now canonical in the graphic novel world. These passages are adhered to where ever possible, which works in certain scenes, but in others the translation to screen feels awkward. Some of Rorschach’s ponderings, which come off as masterpieces of noir prose in the book, feel hokey here. While Dr. Manhattan’s voiceover, with an epic calmness, makes his scenes some of the strongest in the film, due in no small part to Crudup’s stellar voice work.

Plenty of scenes are given the justice they deserve, but others, particularly near the beginning, feel like the abridged version. In particular, a dialog between The Comedian and Dr. Manhattan in a Vietnam bar, a key foreshadowing of the central conflict the blue demi-god faces, plays like a sped-up dress rehearsal. Ozymandias, a hero who has cashed in on his fame and turned his attention toward global energy reform, underscores the futility of placing humanity’s hope in Dr. Manhattan. If the full volley of Soviet nukes come, he explains, “even Dr. Manhattan can’t be everywhere at once.” Watchmen, as thorough an adaptation as it is, suffers from the same fate. It can’t be everywhere at once. In some ways, it’s too complete a retelling of the graphic novel, as it sets itself up for easy panel-to-scene comparison, making the film’s inadequacies that much easier to measure.

It’s clear that Snyder has found a kindred spirit in Dr. Manhattan. As Silk Spectre II distances herself from her big, blue, supernatural lover, she says a line that could just as easily be meant for the director himself, “You know how everything fits together, except people.”



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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

Starring: Zac Efron ... Troy Bolton

Vanessa Hudgens ... Gabriella Montez

Ashley Tisdale ... Sharpay Evans

Lucas Grabeel ... Ryan Evans

Corbin Bleu ... Chad Danforth

Monique Coleman ... Taylor McKessie

Bart Johnson ... Coach Jack Bolton

Alyson Reed ... Ms. Darbus

Olesya Rulin ... Kelsi Nielsen

Chris Warren Jr. ... Zeke Baylor

Ryne Sanborn ... Jason Cross

KayCee Stroh ... Martha Cox

Matt Prokop ... Jimmie Zara

Justin Martin ... Donny Dion

Jemma McKenzie-Brown ... Tiara Gold

High School Musical 3: Senior Year
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Synopsis: It's the end of the Wildcats' championship basketball game against the West High Knights, where team captain Troy (Zac Efron) immediately rallies their spirits ("Now or Never"). With the team’s spirit raised, they win, thanks to the winning shot from their newest team member Jimmie "The Rocket" Zara (Matt Prokop). Later, at Troy's after-match party at his house, Troy and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) are seen thinking about their future and wishing that their last few months at East High would not end ("Right Here, Right Now"). Meanwhile, Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) meets Tiara Gold (Jemma McKenzie-Brown), a British exchange student whom she hires to be her personal assistant...

When drama teacher Ms. Darbus (Alyson Reed) notices that there were so few sign-ups for the spring musical, Sharpay suggests she could do a one-woman show. This alarms Kelsi (Olesya Rulin), who is writing the show, so she signs up almost everyone in the class for it instead. This results in Ms. Darbus announcing they will create a play about their final days at East High. In addition, she reveals that Sharpay, Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), Kelsi, and Troy have all been considered for a scholarship at Juilliard, but only one of them is to be chosen. Sharpay becomes desperate to win the scholarship, and knowing that Kelsi will give the best songs to Troy and Gabriella in the musical, she gets Ryan to try to persuade Kelsi to give them a song, by predicting her (and Ryan's) future ("I Want It All").

The next day, Gabriella and Troy meet on the rooftop and she teaches him how to waltz ("Can I Have This Dance"). Chad (Corbin Bleu) then asks Taylor (Monique Coleman) to go to prom with him. She initially refuses due to his lack of enthusiasm, but later agrees when Chad proves he can put in some effort and asks again in front of everyone in the school. The group rehearses for the musical, a scene about their prom night ("A Night to Remember"). Meanwhile, Ryan walks in on Kelsi composing ("Just Wanna Be with You") in the music room, and performs it with her, and then he asks her to prom halfway through. While Troy and Chad reminisce about their past ("The Boys Are Back"), Sharpay and Tiara discover that Gabriella has a chance to go to college early. Sharpay later convinces Troy that he is the only thing keeping Gabriella from her dream, ("Right Here, Right Now (Reprise)"). Troy talks to Gabriella about this over pizza, and after sharing an awkward goodnight, Gabriella ("Walk Away") leaves for college the next day.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year High School Musical 3: Senior Year
High School Musical 3: Senior Year High School Musical 3: Senior Year
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Troy's dad, Jack (Bart Johnson), talks to him about his academic future. Troy becomes angry, confused, and runs away, storming around East High confused ("Scream") until he finally screams at the top of his lungs in the theatre. Ms. Darbus is in the theatre and reveals that she sent in his application for Juilliard, as she knew how comfortable he was on stage and how much he liked it. Troy takes no offense and thinks about the advice given to him. Troy later gets a call from Gabriella saying she will not return to Albuquerque, as she is too used to being away. However, on the night of prom, Troy visits Gabriella at Stanford and convinces her to return, as everyone is not the same without her, ("Can I Have This Dance (Reprise)").

Back at East High, Jimmie receives a text from Troy to tell him to cover for him onstage because he is going to be late. The Juilliard representatives are there, and watch as the show seems to go well, ("Senior Year Spring Musical"). During the opening number, Kelsi and Ryan debut. While during the second number, Chad, Jason (Ryne Sanborn), Zeke (Chris Warren Jr.) and Martha (Kaycee Stroh) debut, Ryan does his number with the many chorus girls; Jimmie then performs with Sharpay, receiving his own standing ovation. Troy and Gabriella appear during the second half of the show and sing their duet together. Tiara then betrays Sharpay and tells her how she is going to take over next year in the drama department. Sharpay finally learns how it feels to be humiliated, but does not wish to go down. While Tiara performs, Sharpay immediately crashes her performance and shows her up.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year
High School Musical 3: Senior Year
High School Musical 3: Senior Year
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Ms. Darbus reveals that both Kelsi and Ryan have won the Juilliard scholarship ("We're All in This Together (Graduation Mix)"). Taylor will go to Yale University; Sharpay will go to University of Albuquerque along with that she will also assist Ms. Darbus in running the drama department in the fall. Troy decides to go to the University of California, Berkeley, where he can play basketball, study drama, and be close to Gabriella. After learning about Troy's decision, Chad runs offstage and into the school gym. There he and Troy work things out and learn that their college's basketball teams will play each other the upcoming fall.

At the graduation ceremony, Troy gives the class speech. Throwing their caps in the air, the graduates form a giant wildcat before breaking out into song and dance ("High School Musical"). The six friends walk down the field where a curtain closes off the graduation ceremony and turns into a stage. The six stars do their signature jump and then the camera does a close up of each actor. They take their final bow as the curtain closes.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year
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Review: By Staff Writer,

If you aren't aware of the phenomenon that is High School Musical, it's a safe bet that you're over the age of 15 and don't yet have any children or grandchildren under that age. For its target demographic – mostly girls in their "tweens" (roughly 8-14) – High School Musical is like Harry Potter, Barbie and Pokémon all mixed together and combined with a serious sugar rush. It seems that they just can't get enough of this wholesome franchise of sickly-sweet, unbelievably innocent films, where pristine teenagers sing and dance about the joys of young love, close friendship, and being true to yourself.

With such themes at its heart, you can probably guess which company masterminded this new form of kiddie catnip – yep, good old Disney. It's yet another re-jigging of the tried and tested Disney themes that we've seen countless times down the years – only this time successfully updated for the modern age.

Perhaps it's an indication of Disney's own loss of confidence in the relevance of its old product that the first High School Musical movie, which only came out less than three years ago, was never intended for the big screen. That's right – the original film was a TV movie, made for the Disney Channel and first screened back in January 2006. Disney, it seemed, had been reading too many tabloid newspaper tales of feral youngsters roaming the streets in gangs, getting in fights, smoking, drinking, having underage sex, and generally going to the dogs. Surely the children of today wouldn't be interested in anything as old-fashioned and uncool as Disney's traditional brand of family values and decency?

Well, Disney was wrong. The film pulled in an impressive 7.7 million viewers for its premiere, despite only being available on cable TV. By the end of the year, it had been shown repeatedly on the Disney Channel worldwide, even making it on to the BBC during the key Christmas season, winning over legions of new British fans, while its soundtrack became the best-selling album of the year in the US in 2006. Somehow the old Disney magic had returned without them even realizing it. DVD sales, in turn, were immense – with 1.2 million copies sold in its first six days, the first set a sales record.

And so, in the last three years, High School Musical has snowballed. A concert tour of the Americas was running by the end of 2006, there were numerous singles released, a stage play version, a version done on ice, swiftly followed by a TV movie sequel (which has in turn spawned a stage play), not to mention the six computer games and countless books and other bits of merchandise that the franchise has spawned to date. Not bad for a film whose budget was only $4.2 million.

In other words, it was only a matter of time before the phenomenon hit the big screen – and now, with the third movie, it has. The only odd thing is that the cast – and characters – are now getting a bit old for High School, so this latest outing revolves around their hopes and fears for the future as they approach their move to university. How to deal with such worries? Why – let's put on a show! It's hardly original, but fans of the series are unlikely to care. And though it would be easy to criticise a film that's so sickly sweet and, well, nice, let's face it – if they enjoy it, why not let the kids maintain their innocence while they can? Rather this than all the sex and violence that's so endemic everywhere else.


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