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Delightful Wonder Emporium Sparks Imagination

This holiday season, Walden Media brings our kids Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium—a delightful movie that, though it contains some faulty worldview elements, will spark their imagination and teach them a few lessons about loving and living.

Truths Are Gained in Things We Lost in the Fire

“Accept the good.” That’s the moral of Things We Lost in the Fire, and although the characters’ ideas of good aren’t consciously grounded in the ultimate Good, director Susanne Bier’s drama is tough to shake.

Subtlety Not Lacking in The Darjeeling Limited

Like most of director Wes Anderson’s films, The Darjeeling Limited is hardly “plot gone wild.” Those looking for a gripping storyline are sure to be disappointed. It’s subtle, Anderson’s style. Very, very subtle.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • February 28, 2008 |
  • comments
Latest Version of The Ten Commandments Comes Up Short

Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 version of The Ten Commandments will always be the classic by which others are judged. Animated versions are likely to be compared to the 1998 film, The Prince of Egypt. Unfortunately, despite an all-star cast, this newest version comes up decidedly short.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • February 28, 2008 |
  • comments
Embellished, Sexed-Up Beowulf Falls Flat

In the hands of screenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, this adaptation of Beowulf adds a large dose of sex, nudity and moral failing to the epic poem’s story of a hero from across the seas who fights monsters at his own peril.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 26, 2008 |
  • comments
Director Pushes Envelope and Agenda in Redacted

Redacted takes its plot from a recent incident in Iraq. Director Brian De Palma loves to push the cinematic envelope, and this project is no different. Here, he toys with the medium in order to make a statement about it. He’s also very, very angry about the war.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • February 22, 2008 |
  • comments
No Joy Found in This Depressing Wedding

Everyone longs for hope beyond the pain of broken relationships in Margot at the Wedding. But watching such a dismal spectacle is like listening to the clamor of a discordant harmony. It’s uncomfortable, depressing, and you just want it to end.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • February 22, 2008 |
  • comments
Polished Michael Clayton Tells Its Story with Panache

Michael Clayton is crisp and propulsive, without being at all alienating. The story tackles clear, documented corporate criminality that will have even the most hardened supporters of Big Business wanting to see justice done.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 19, 2008 |
  • comments
American Gangster Robs Viewers of Time and Money

Two great actors and a great director have teamed up for the not-so-great American Gangster, yet another look at one man’s rise to power and his struggle to maintain hold of that power as the law moves in.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 19, 2008 |
  • comments
Rendition Tortures Viewers with Simplicity and Slow Pacing

While “extraordinary rendition” is certainly a provocative topic in a post 9/11 world, the team behind Rendition doesn’t mind choosing the most simplistic, even manipulative, methods to getting its message across.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 19, 2008 |
  • comments
Unpatriotic Tone Obstructs In the Valley of Elah

This left-wing propaganda film preaches the following message: If you are stupid enough to send your son to war in Iraq, there’s a high chance he will do drugs, torture the enemy for fun and turn so psychotic that he’ll learn to cooly murder his fellow soldiers for no good reason.

  • Eric & Lisa Rice |
  • February 19, 2008 |
  • comments
Why Did I Get Married Proves Dramatic, Uncomfortable

In Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married, not only does Perry offer an important view of wealthy, professional African-Americans, but he also deals with marital woes in a sensitive manner. It’s dramatic, at times, and occasionally uncomfortable to watch.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • February 15, 2008 |
  • comments
Prodigal Son Echoes to Be Found in We Own the Night

Echoes of the prodigal son parable abound in the latest crime film by director-screenwriter James Gray. Although the plot isn’t brilliant and suffers from obvious contrivances, it’s still an engaging spectacle.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • February 14, 2008 |
  • comments
Well-Acted No Reservations Is Pure Comfort Food

Those hoping for a simple boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-and-girl-get-back-together-and-live-happily-ever-after story will get far better comfort food with No Reservations—even if it’s more of a heart-wrenching drama than a by-the-numbers romantic comedy.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 12, 2008 |
  • comments
Lacking History, Becoming Jane Still Charms

Unlike Miss Potter, the whimsical biopic that centered around the little-known love life that inspired Beatrix Potter’s work, Becoming Jane doesn’t have much in the way of actual history to back up its premise.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 12, 2008 |
  • comments
Gritty Gone Baby Gone Begs Tough Decisions

Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, Gone Baby Gone beckons us to play God right along with the protagonist and ask ourselves what hard decision we would make about the life and well-being of a little kidnapped girl.

  • Eric & Lisa Rice |
  • February 12, 2008 |
  • comments
John Cusack Keeps Martian Child Down to Earth

Much like Hugh Grant’s foray into more serious fare with 2002’s About a Boy, John Cusack, another consummate bachelor in real life, proves he’s got dramatic range and emotional gravitas in the otherworldly drama Martian Child.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 12, 2008 |
  • comments
Dysfunctional Family Overstays Its Welcome in The Dwights

Last year’s Little Miss Sunshine proved there was an audience for a quirky indie film about a dysfunctional family. And naturally, when a film like that meets with unexpected success, it’s not long before copycat efforts follow—like the largely unimpressive Introducing the Dwights.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 12, 2008 |
  • comments
Beatles Fans Might Enjoy This Trip Across the Universe

If you’re looking for a straightforward narrative—and musicals aren’t your thing—you’ll want to bypass Across the Universe. But if you’re a big Beatles fan and love all things ‘60s, this is definitely worth the trip. Goo goo g’joob.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • February 07, 2008 |
  • comments
Language, Violence Weaken a Well-Crafted Brave One

With the white-knuckle suspense of Flightplan, the “keep it real” radio host vibe of Talk to Me, and the terrifying psycho-thriller shock effect of Mr. Brooks, The Brave One is a well-crafted, entertaining film marred by excessive foul language, violence and a dark worldview.

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