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September 2007
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.

 
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 |
  • September 28, 2007 |
  • 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.

 
Into the Wild May Be Penn's Best Yet

Sean Penn is one of the most talented screenwriters and directors in Hollywood, and this film may be his best yet. It’s longwinded and a bit rambling, and he romanticizes what most will consider a reckless, self-indulgent quest. But it’s a very worthy film nonetheless.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • September 21, 2007 |
  • 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 |
  • September 21, 2007 |
  • 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.

 
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 |
  • September 14, 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!

 
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 |
  • September 14, 2007 |
  • comments
 
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 |
  • September 07, 2007 |
  • comments
September 2007
Stephanie Daley Takes a Hard Look at Teen Pregnancy

This film could have easily been melodramatic, which would have relegated it to an “After School Special.” Instead, Stephanie Daley offers an excellent character study and a glimpse into the world of teenage pregnancy—with a powerful message about why it should be avoided at all cost.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • September 07, 2007 |
  • 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 |
  • September 07, 2007 |
  • comments
August 2007
Hollywood Caters to Basest Instinct in Old Skool

Once again, Hollywood caters to its basest instinct with another uninspired, insulting and cheaply-made rip-off—Kickin’ It Old Skool. It’s Big meets The Bad News Bears (remake) meets a very bad skit from Saturday Night Live.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • August 31, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Balls of Fury - an Exercise in Truly Tasteless Humor

Sometimes a low brainpower movie is the perfect escapist entertainment. But even then, ping-pong farce Balls of Fury still doesn’t deliver. After all, the filmmakers’ idea of a good laugh is making fun of an Asian (because he’s Asian), a fat guy (because he’s fat) or an elderly man who swears a lot (because he swears a lot).

 
Redeeming Champ a Knockout Cinematic Choice

Resurrecting the Champ has plenty of redeeming values and will likely be a great choice for families this summer. Josh Hartnett does a fine job as the husband, father and reporter-on-the-ropes, while Samuel L. Jackson is fabulous as the resurrected champ.

 
Parenting, Priorities Get Comedic Due in The Nanny Diaries

Although lacking the whip-smart, satirical edge of the novel it’s adapted from, The Nanny Diaries is still a pleasant surprise. In fact, there’s even a few food-for-thought moments on priorities and parenting that aren’t even patronizing or particularly cloying. Imagine that.

 
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 |
  • August 17, 2007 |
  • 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!

 
Imaginative Stardust Casts a Silly Spell

Stardust is a lot of fun, if inconsequential. Its appeal is limited by some frightening moments and darker characters, but it concludes on a note of hope and love—a storybook ending to an enchanting summer’s tale.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 10, 2007 |
  • comments
 
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 |
  • August 10, 2007 |
  • comments
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