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November 2008
Family Dysfunction Takes Center Stage in Four Christmases

Four Christmases seems to have all the right ingredients to be fun, ‘tis-the-season escapist entertainment. Yet for all the effort the protagonists make to be likeable and the carefully-staged gags, the movie still falls horribly flat.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 26, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Bolt Has Plenty of Bark and Comedic Bite

Bolt is probably the best-looking Disney movie in a good long while. Crafted in gorgeous 3-D splendor, it’s a feast for the eyes complete with lavish attention to detail. And the engagingly drawn leads are only further enhanced with stellar vocal talent.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 21, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Moody Twilight Launches a Teen Franchise

For those familiar with Stephenie Meyer’s books and drawn to the buzz around the story, that should be more than enough. But those interested in character motives beyond unspoken physical attraction may find Twilight wanting.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 21, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Complex Story Drives a Spectacular Quantum of Solace

In Quantum of Solace, the complex story is the driving force, especially in the final act when the plot machine takes over so completely that characters become little more than cogs in the wheel—but oh, what a spectacular wheel it is.

 
Vibrant Slumdog Millionaire Reaffirms Boyle's Talent

Slumdog Millionaire, an uplifting story about a young man triumphing on an Indian game show, is a colorful, vibrant film that reaffirms Danny Boyle as one of the more interesting filmmakers working today.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 12, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Boy in the Striped Pajamas Offers an Unusual Perspective

With so much already known about the Holocaust, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ unusual perspective must have seemed like a fresh take on history. But in the end it comes across as misconceived, despite the film’s strengths.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 07, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Zany "Madagascar 2" Far Surpasses Its Predecessor

While not up to the Pixar level yet, the animation is more vivid and vivacious this time around in Madagascar 2 . Rather than flat, one-dimensional drawing, there’s plenty of texture, movement and attention to detail.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 07, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Intense Familial Conflict Portrayed in Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married's title is vaguely misleading, and its ads are borderline deceptive. Based on those alone, one might assume this is a feel-good dramedy with an indie vibe. It’s not and is one of the most intense depictions of familial conflict since Ordinary People.

 
Haunted House Has Much Deeper Meaning

Like typical onscreen haunts, the House created by screenwriters Rob Green and Frank Peretti is creepy. Terrifying, in fact. But, unlike most C-genre blood flicks being churned out by Hollywood, this one has a much deeper meaning.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • November 07, 2008 |
  • comments
October 2008
Hope and Love Drive a Mother’s Search in Changeling

Praise for Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of a working-class mother in 1928 is justified. But it is just one element of Changeling that features lush cinematography, strong performances and potent Christian themes.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 31, 2008 |
  • comments
October 2008
Only Good, Clean Fun in High School Musical 3

Disney’s High School Musical franchise graduates from TV to the big screen for its third installment, and the result is an infectious family film that will satisfy younger viewers and won’t alienate their parents. In short, it is a lot of fun—good, clean fun.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 24, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Pride and Glory Follows a Familiar Family Plot

Men in blue have hearts of black in Gavin O’Connor’s Pride and Glory, a dark film about dirty cops and one man who fights the system—and his family—to break the stranglehold of corruption on the New York Police Department.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 24, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Whimsical Happy-Go-Lucky a Breath of Fresh Air

Everyone needs a Poppy. She is the personification of Happy-Go-Lucky, a breath-of-fresh-air kind of movie that is sure to do more than put smiles on peoples faces (though it will) and actually lift their tired, world-weary spirits.

 
Bees Undercuts Complexity with Contrived Melodrama

The Secret Life of Bees is just the sort of serious/feel-good/weeper chick flick you’d expect it to be. It’s not a bad film, necessarily, but it falls short by emotionally pandering to its core audience rather than reaching beyond it.

 
Stone's W. Neglects Key Elements of Bush Biography

Oliver Stone has now turned his attention to George W. Bush in W., written well before the completion of his second term and rushed into release before the end of his time in office. The perils of such an approach are evident in this entertaining but unresolved account of Bush's life and presidency.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 17, 2008 |
  • comments
 
"Billy" Chronicles the Beginnings of Graham's Legacy

More than just the beginnings of arguably the world’s most well-known and respected evangelist, Billy: The Early Years is the story of two friends, of two roads taken and of two ways to make a biopic.

 
As an Apocalyptic Adventure, City of Ember Shines Bright

Keeping the pace fast, City of Ember plays out like The Goonies meets National Treasure with a twinge of science fiction. The constant twists and turns of the plot, and its inevitable intrigue, will easily hold your attention for an hour.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 10, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Body of Lies Captures Shifting Alliances of a Long War

Body of Lies is not up to Ridley Scott’s best work, but the performances—especially from Leonardo DiCaprio—are strong. The result is a film that seriously examines U.S. foreign policy while still managing to entertain.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 10, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Laugh Level Goes Down and Out in Beverly Hills Chihuahua

Those who are looking for mainly inoffensive entertainment, and don’t mind weak attempts at humor, may enjoy Beverly Hills Chihuahua. But those looking for something better than a retread of themes from better films are advised to stay away.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 03, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Nick and Norah Offers Charming Cast but Weak Story

Michael Cera’s latest role as the Nick of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, floats across the screen like it was written just for him—showcasing his unpretentious charm and carrying an otherwise forgettable movie.

  • Stephen McGarvey |
  • October 03, 2008 |
  • comments
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