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September 2007
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
 
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
August 2007
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
 
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.

 
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 |
  • August 08, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Latest Bourne Offers an Uncomfortable Ultimatum

In The Bourne Ultimatum, the identity of Jason Bourne is, at last, resolved, while communicating an uncomfortable message about current events in the post-9/11 world: Those who “volunteer” to “kill the bad guys” are the victims of power-mad warmongers unconcerned about the humanity of their charges.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 03, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Kids Will Root for an Updated Underdog

Based on the TV cartoon series, Underdog has naturally been updated for the big screen. Diehard fans are bound to be disappointed, and parents won’t be mesmerized. The real joy, however, will come from watching this with the kids who will love it.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • August 03, 2007 |
  • 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.

 
Natural Collides with Artificial in Arctic Tale

With so much inherent drama, it’s surprising how artificial Arctic Tale feels. Impressively filmed but driven at times by tension that appears to have been created more in the editing room than by events that actually unfolded on camera, this nature film is a mixed bag.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 03, 2007 |
  • comments
July 2007
Fans, Foes Will Find Plenty of Ammo in The Simpsons Movie

A feature-length movie based on the animated TV series, The Simpsons Movie includes all the antics, both positive and negative, that those familiar with the show expect. Such antics will prove too much for some Christian fans of the show, while others may see them, in context, as meaningful satire.

 
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.

 
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.

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