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Jane Austen Book Club is Mediocre at Best

These days we certainly seem to be mad about Jane … Jane Austen that is. Yet it's hard to imagine either the author or her fans particularly enthusiastic about The Jane Austen Book Club, the latest entry in the ever-growing list of Austen-themed films.

  • Stephen McGarvey |
  • February 05, 2008 |
  • comments
Bleak, Beautiful Jesse James Is Worth a Look

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford examines how entertainment culture exploits historical truth. The result is a beautiful, slow-paced examination of the wages of sin, and the conflicted role of the public and its view of history.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 05, 2008 |
  • comments
Nearly Perfect Elizabeth Ties History to Entertainment

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a fascinating, nearly perfect film. It’s always wonderful to tie history to entertainment, and the history of Europe in the 1500s is very exciting. The movie unfolds the age-old conflict between Protestants and Catholics, and shows how each side is praying for victory.

High School, Debate Team … It's All Rocket Science

This film by writer/director Jeffrey Blitz pulls back the veil on high school debating, showing us the popular rapid-fire speech pattern called “spreading.” He also portrays what it’s like to be in high school, without all the clichés that plague other school films.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • February 01, 2008 |
  • comments
Good Messages, New Cast Can't Rescue This Bad Daddy

With some surprisingly good messages and some decent acting from a new cast, it’s a shame that Daddy Day Camp is such a bad sequel. The plot is predictable, and loaded with the two Hollywood “requirements” for kid films: body humor and bratty children.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • January 30, 2008 |
  • comments
Alien Virus Returns in a Creepy Invasion

What would happen if a space shuttle crashed on earth, carrying an alien virus on the thousands of scattered parts? Answering this question, The Invasion borrows from the old Invasion of the Body Snatchers without totally copying the film. And it’s good and creepy!

Blonde Ambition Achieves Little for Simpson Fans

The target audience for Blonde Ambition is a mystery. With such patently silly production values, it seems geared to young girls and fans of Jessica Simpson. But its language and sexuality make it only appropriate for older teens or adults.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • January 29, 2008 |
  • comments
Trade Is Troubling in More Ways Than One

Trade, an uneven drama about human trafficking, deserves begrudging respect for raising the public’s awareness of troubling subject matter. The film nevertheless suffers from awkward melodrama and feeble dialogue.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 29, 2008 |
  • comments
The Game Plan Lays the Cute on Thick

While bordering on the cheesy and laying the cute on thick, The Game Plan is still a fairly solid choice for amusing family entertainment. What’s refreshing is the noticeable lack of curse words and rude humor typically used to cover up plot holes.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 22, 2008 |
  • comments
Long, Slow and Dull ... This Party Is a Drag

Even with the star power of Richard Gere and Terrence Howard, The Hunting Party is so cynical and profane that it largely fails to entertain or inform. This “hunt” is long, slow and dull—a party full of unlikable people that make a night at home a preferable alternative.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 22, 2008 |
  • comments
No Need to Keep This Blasphemous Ten

Even if you can get past all the blasphemy and disturbing sexual themes that form the bedrock of the “commandments” in The Ten, there’s simply nothing here. It doesn’t convey any message—save that anyone who believes in the Ten Commandments is an idiot.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • January 18, 2008 |
  • comments
Good Luck Chuck Takes Filmmaking to the Gutter

The Greek meaning of entertain is “to inform with delight.” Lord willing, a new generation of filmmakers will begin turning the pendulum and elevating the hearts and minds of their patrons, rather than bringing them further into the gutter with films like Good Luck Chuck.

Plenty of Action, Not Enough Plot in 3:10 to Yuma

Even under the careful eye of director James Mangold, the script for 3:10 to Yuma lacks a focused, coherent plot. And without that, even stellar performances from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale can’t make up the difference.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 08, 2008 |
  • comments
Thoughtful Sunshine Provides Cerebral Sci-Fi

Most contemporary science fiction films opt for mind-numbing special effects over finely crafted plot and characters. Not so with the poignant Sunshine which marries heart-stopping suspense with thought-provoking moral quandaries to create one of the most fascinating space movies in years.

  • Stephen McGarvey |
  • January 08, 2008 |
  • comments
September Dawn Sheds Light on Mormon-Led Slaughter

On their way to California, the Baker-Fincher wagon train made camp in Mountain Meadows, Utah, where the group was brutally attacked by a Latter Day Saint (Mormon) militia disguised as Indians. September Dawn examines this horrific slaughter.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • January 04, 2008 |
  • comments
Shoot 'Em Up a Gratuitous Spectacle of Violence

You wouldn’t think a movie could be this bad with acting talent like Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti and Monica Bellucci. But action-hero movie send-up Shoot 'Em Up gives new meaning to the word “wretched.”

  • Stephen McGarvey |
  • January 01, 2008 |
  • comments
Cultures Clash, Worldviews Collide in The Kingdom

In The Kingdom, the underlying theme is that all people are basically alike with the same loves, hates and desires. The problem is that it tries too hard to make Islam noble and beautiful. A film showing just as many scenes of praying, kneeling and supplication in an American church would never get made.

Rush Far Away from Rush Hour 3

If you’ve seen Rush Hour 1 or 2, then you’ve seen 3. While the first one was clever, edgy and funny, the second paled but managed to hold its own. Now, numero tres is like warmed over scrambled eggs: you can choke it down, but you really hate paying for it.

Marriage, Morality Get a Beating in The Heartbreak Kid

In The Heartbreak Kid, all the Farrelly Brothers seem to be concerned about is pushing the proverbial envelope and taking potshots against marriage, which makes the film merely a rude and crude excuse to exercise the full limits of the “R” rating.

  • Christa Banister |
  • December 26, 2007 |
  • comments
Head the Other Direction from Eastern Promises

With its excessive violence, sex, voyeurism, language and dark worldview, Eastern Promises is a film that takes moviegoers in a very sad direction. All families should walk away from this one. Fast!

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