Archive for November, 2007

27 Nov 2007

Enchanted

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AE Enchanted 01
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While “Enchanted“successfully brings back the earlier Disney animation magic with its fairy tale musical plot, its out-of-place ending keeps it from becoming a classic.

The story begins in the animated fairy tale realm of Andalasia, where Princess Giselle (Amy Adams, “Underdog”) has just found her true love in Prince Edward (James Marsden, “Hairspray”). Edward’s evil mother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon, “Barnard and Doris”), fears losing her throne to this perky new redhead and pushes Giselle into a portal that leads to the live action world.

Stumbling through a new and confusing world, Giselle falls into the arms of a handsome lawyer, Robert (Patrick Dempsey, “Freedom Writers”). Now, Giselle is forced to wait until Edward comes to her rescue, while at the same time working to find her true feelings.

From the simple love plot to the toe-tapping musical scenes, everything about “Enchanted”shouts Disney. Director Kevin Lima (“102 Dalmatians”) is able to successfully include spoofs of such classics as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”and “Sleeping Beauty”with poison apples and a thrilling ballroom dance conclusion. Along with other Disney throwbacks, Oscar-winning songwriter Alan Menken graces the audience’s ears with multiple new sing-alongs that even Marilyn Manson could enjoy.

AE Enchanted 02The real magic of the film comes in the form of pure innocence Adams displays with Giselle. In the role she was born for, Adams portrays a princess only animation could create beforehand. Memorable experiences include Giselle creating beautiful dresses from decorative home drapery and provoking an entire park to sing along in a heartwarming musical number. It would be a shock not to see Adams on the list for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars.

Along with the one-of-a-kind performance from Adams, Dempsey makes a great counterpoint for her character. Dempsey, otherwise known as Dr. McDreamy from “Grey’s Anatomy,”uses all his charm to make his otherwise dull character fairly likeable. It may be hard at times to believe that he is really going to help the insane and animal-communicating Giselle, but by the end, it’s hard to deny the chemistry between the two.

Similar to the genie in 1992’s “Aladdin”and the dragon Mushu in 1998’s “Mulan,”Marsden as Prince Edward is able to steal almost any scene he’s in. Playing a perfect fairy tale hero, Marsden is more than believable when thoroughly attacking a giant metro bus. His shining moment comes when abruptly entering into a full-bodied song about Giselle that not even the audience and little girl on screen cannot help but giggle at.

Unfortunately, Adams and her fantastic support could not save this film from an awkward plot change in the finale. Once the happy ending seems to be on the horizon, the evil queen takes her rage a step further and pursues an out-of-place revenge. Even though the main plot has been resolved, the film stretches on and loses momentum.

Still, once the credits begin to roll as Carrie Underwood croons a new Disney classic, it seems almost impossible not to walk out overwhelmed with joy.

‘Enchanted
Release Date: Nov. 21
Director: Kevin Lima
Starring: Amy Adams, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Patrick Dempsey
Genre: Family, Animated, Comedy
Rating: PG for some scary images and mild innuendo
Grade: A-

18 Nov 2007

Beowulf

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beowulf.jpg
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With an extremely cheesy plot and corny, over-the-top dialogue, “Beowulf”is only watchable due to unique special effects.

“Beowulf”is roughly based on the Old English epic poem of the same name. In the film, Beowulf (Ray Winstone, “The Departed”) is called upon by kind King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins, “Fracture”) to kill the monster Grendel (Crispin Glover, “The Wizard of Gore”), who has been terrorizing the king’s new mead hall, Heorot. Once at the hall, Beowulf and his small army fight and disarm the grotesque beast. Grendel, badly hurt, runs back to his cave and dies next to his mother, played by a nude Angelina Jolie (“A Mighty Heart”). Grendel’s mother now must avenge her only son’s death.

In trying to create an epic movie, director Robert Zemeckis (“The Reaping”) has created an overdone and unbelievable mess. The filmmakers’ biggest mistake was altering the original storyline of the poem. In changing one of the major fights into an unnatural love scene between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother, the already confusing plot becomes even more incoherent. The theme of betrayal and dishonesty this affair creates destroys the film and poem’s main theme of heroism.

While Beowulf may be the greatest hero of the age, the almighty conqueror seemed to have an ego bigger than Paris Hilton’s. Whether he is defending himself in a debate, slicing 100-foot fish with a tiny sword or even prancing around in the nude, Beowulf never misses the opportunity to shout, “I am Beowulf!”That may have been a trait of popular men back in the day, but in the film it makes him look like a pompous jerk.

When Beowulf isn’t controlling the screen, the audience is graced with an animated performance by Hopkins and the breathtaking beauty of Jolie. As the cocky king, Hopkins has fun with the role and steals the show while stumbling around drunk off his own mead. In an overly-serious film, Hopkins added much needed humor.

The amazingly talented and sexy Jolie teases moviegoers in her liquid gold, special-effects costume. Besides her costume, it looked like moviemakers barely used any computer generated effects on her character at all.

One of the most spectacular effects of the movie was Grendel’s skin, composed of hundreds of gold scales. This made the insanely grotesque and strangely crotchless character captivating to watch.

“Beowulf”may have reached a new level of computer-added effects, but while watching it in 2-D, it’s easy to tell it was meant for 3-D Imax. Several times, soldiers stuck out their swords as if pointing to the audience, but instead of seeming realistic, the shot looked blurry. During the first fight between Beowulf and Grendel, it’s hard to tell what is happening at times, but the dazzling colors and fast-moving shots keep the interest alive.

With the air of its many epic predecessors, Beowulf fails to engross viewers with its sadly frivolous story, but still manages to provide some visually-pleasing entertainment.

“Beowulf”
Release date: Nov. 16
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Robin Wright Penn, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Crispin Glover, John Malkovich
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Adaptation
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sexual material and nudity
Grade: C-

12 Nov 2007

P2

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P2The horror-flick “P2″has few thrills and even less horror.

On Christmas Eve, businesswoman Angela Bridges (Rachel Nichols, “Resurrecting the Champ”) is stuck working late at her high-rise New York office. When she leaves the office, she finds her car dead in the parking garage. Parking attendant Thomas (Wes Bentley, “The Ungodly”), helps jump her car, but fails and Angela is forced to call a cab. When the cab arrives, all the building doors are locked and there is no way to get to the cab. With all of the security guards missing, she returns to the parking garage only to be drugged by Thomas. Now stuck in a hostage situation, Angela must figure out a way to escape before Thomas’ obsession with her grows violent.

The biggest question “P2″ raises is undoubtedly, “How did this get into theaters?”From the corny shrieking music to the predictable psycho storyline, the entire grueling 98 minutes of this film played out like a straight-to-DVD horror flick.

Nichols plays the stereotypical blonde in peril while displaying more cleavage than any sober woman ever would. The writers try to make Angela a likeable character, but once the plot begins, it’s hard to find many reasons for her to make it through the night alive.

The lackluster character of Angela gives the audience even more reason to like Thomas, the lonely psychotic guard who doesn’t want to spend Christmas alone. Bentley’s performance as the enjoyably evil guard makes this movie entertaining. Whether he’s singing along to Elvis’ “Blue Christmas”or constantly complaining about Angela’s annoying attempts to escape, he adds entertainment to a film that is severely lacking in thrills.

While films like “The Descent”and “1408″created a general aura of creepiness with their settings, “P2″establishes nothing creepier than the dark theater the movie is being shown in. The biggest nail-biting scene comes when Angela is stuck in the garage elevator while Thomas slowly fills it with bone-chilling water.

The biggest surprise of the film is the unintentionally hilarious dialogue. One example is Thomas’ reaction to Angela’s effort to humanize him by saying his name. Thomas erratically shouts, “I know my name is Thomas! Quit calling me Thomas!”

This movie can actually be summed up by Thomas, “Why am I even wasting my time on you?”

‘P2’
Release Date: Nov. 9
Director: Franck Khalfoun
Starring: Wes Bentley, Rachel Nichols
Genre: Horror, thriller
Rating: R for strong violence/gore, terror and language
Grade: D-