Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love
Eat Pray Love was more than just one woman's story from the very beginning-- writer Elizabeth Gilbert funded her year-long trip around the world with a publisher's advance, and experienced her stays in Italy, India and Indonesia with the knowledge that they would go into a book, and hopefully a successful one. The resulting bestseller phenomenon is something no one could have anticipated, but now that we have Eat Pray Love the movie, it's clearer than ever that Liz Gilbert, as played by Julia Roberts, is more avatar for all women than an actual human being. We watch her and her blond highlights and her tasteful clothes travel the globe because we cannot do the same, and whatever story might come along with it needs only to not get in the way of all the wish-fulfillment going on in the theater.

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The Dolphin: Story of a Dreamer

The Dolphin: Story of a Dreamer
The Dolphin: Story of a Dreamer is a relatively cute little animated adventure that tries so hard to be Finding Nemo, that it’s just plain sad. Based on Sergio Bambarén’s children’s book of the same name, this film is charming in some parts yet corny in others. It's a dangerous combination that will most likely win over the young ones but at the same time, repel adults.

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Deck the Halls

Deck the Halls
Think of every bad scene from every bad Christmas movie ever made. Now mix them all together however you like and toss them up on a movie screen. The end result, I promise you, will still be a better film than Deck the Halls, an incredible mess of a film starring Matthew Broderick, Danny DeVito, Kristin Davis and Kristin Chenoweth. The four leads all seem vaguely embarrassed to be seen in this film (and they should be), as if they kind of hope you won't notice it's them up there. If I took all twelve days of Christmas, I still couldn't enumerate all the ways in which this is a truly atrocious movie, but I'll do my best to give you a general idea.

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Mongolian Death Worm

Mongolian Death Worm
Films like Steven R. Monroe’s 2010 SyFy original “Mongolian Death Worm” aren’t very difficult to review. It’s pretty simple stuff: You either like it or you don’t. There isn’t anything to dissect, nothing to chew over. In fact, “Mongolian Death Worm” is even easier to grade than other low-budget creature features, as it falls under what I like to call the “Tremors Technique”. Instead of critiquing the picture in a traditional manner, I assess the situation and score it against “Tremors” and its sequels. Since the installments in that series are automatically arranged from best to worst — “Tremors”, of course, being the high water mark — assigning a sequel to a monster movie like “Mongolian Death Worm” is a relatively easy task to accomplish. After all, just about every post-”Tremors” giant worm movie owes at least one thing or another to Ron Underwood’s camp classic.

That’s not to say that “Mongolian Death Worm” can’t stand on its own two legs, because it certainly can. However, it wouldn’t be wise to expect anything remotely original or surprising from Monroe’s by-the-numbers sci-fi flick, especially if you’re well-versed in the “giant worm” subgenre. In fact, the only thing saving this cinematic invertebrate from sinking to the very bottom of the bargain bin is the tongue-in-cheek stupidity of its script and the unflappable Sean Patrick Flannery. The guy plays his part for all its worth, often chewing so much scenery in one take that his head appears ready to split wide open. When you know that he’s is capable of so much more — take a look at “Powder” or “Suicide Kings” if you need confirmation — it makes you appreciate his manic performance in “Mongolian Death Worm” that much more. He straddles that fine line like a pro.

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Super (2010) Movie

Super (2010) Movie
I must admit that I approached writer/director James Gunn’s quirky action/comedy “Super” with much trepidation. You see, I’m of the belief that Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore’s disturbingly underrated gem “Special” is the end-all, be-all of peculiar, off-beat superhero flicks. It’s a near-perfect blend of action, comedy, and dramatic depth, a mixture that others have attempted to replicate yet failed to achieve. James Gunn comes dangerously close to obtaining this goal, and while he just falls short of the mark, “Super” will definitely have its own unique space in any discerning cult cinema fan’s film collection. Assuming, of course, that you have a high tolerance for Gunn’s style of shock humor. If you don’t, I completely understand. It takes some getting used to.

That having been said, it’s worth stating that “Super” is definitely not for everyone. Gunn pulls absolutely no punches here, stuffing his deranged superhero epic with a wide variety of offensive, expletive-laden rants and subversive, gore-soaked sight gags. Although the veteran director’s penchant for blood, guts, and religious jabs may fool you, Gunn understands that this sort of abrasive, graphically violent comedy requires a heart in order to function properly on-screen. Much to my surprise, this is the area where “Super” shines the brightest. You genuinely want our hero to rescue his estranged wife, wipe out the local drug syndicate, and ride off into the sunset. Instead of being obnoxious, this wannabe do-gooder is extremely easy to identify with.

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Elektra

Elektra
I have never understood the appeal of Jennifer Garner as an action/adventure star. Based on my limited exposure to her work, she's better in comedic or lightly dramatic roles (such as her turn in 13 Going on 30). Nothing that happens in Elektra has changed my mind. Although Garner was arguably the best thing about the lukewarm comic book adaptation of Daredevil, her character had limited screen-time, playing fourth fiddle to Ben Affleck, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Colin Farrell. The translation from supporting character to lead doesn't go smoothly. Garner has difficulty carrying this movie, although the weakness of the script could be part of the reason.

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Funny Games

Funny Games
We've seen the set-up before: a nice middle-class family held captive by a pair of psychopaths. This time, however, things aren't going to turn out as Hollywood has primed us to expect. In his remake of his own 1997 feature, writer/director Michael Haneke uses the viewer's expectations against him or her. He makes a bold statement about how the indoctrination of mainstream thrillers has made violence and terror acceptable for entertainment by crafting a motion picture that is anything but entertaining. Funny Games is openly, intentionally unpleasant and is not for anyone in search of light fare. This is tough movie that sticks the knife in, twists it, then leaves it there. It's thought-provoking material but I suspect the audience is small that won't be repulsed by what's on screen.

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Deal
Poker is one of those games that, unless you're a die-hard, is a lot more fun to play than to watch. Nevertheless, because on-line poker sites have become so popular in recent years, there has been a upsurge in TV poker shows. The unfortunate byproduct of this "poker revolution" is that Hollywood has decided to get into the mix and, in true big studio fashion, filmmakers have nailed down the formula (which is loosely based on the long-standing one for the sports movie) and don't deviate from the template. Deal is the kind of mess that results from this slavish lack of creativity. The film has more of a checklist of clichés than an actual script and, when it comes to the cast, director Gil Cates Jr. is scraping the bottom of the barrel. There's no compelling reason to see Deal. Everything it offers is familiar to the extent where even though it's not a remake, it feels like one.

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Lethal Weapon 4

Lethal Weapon 4
Since 1992, when Lethal Weapon 3 became an undisputed box office hit, there has been talk about a follow-up. With the possible exception of the still-unconfirmed Die Hard 4, Lethal Weapon 4 has been the subject of more (often inaccurate) rumors than any other action movie. Creatively, there was no reason to re-assemble the cast, but Hollywood productions are driven by money, not artistic impulses. As a result, it was just a matter of time before Lethal Weapon 4 made the transition from rumors to reality. Once the hurdle of signing Mel Gibson was cleared via a huge pay check, the film was rushed into production.

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Shadow Man

Shadow Man
I always find reviewing short films difficult because there isn't that much to talk about- but occasionally one comes along that's so superb that you can find just enough to say to fully justify your feelings towards it.

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China Strike Force

China Strike Force
A young Chinese Security Officer, Darren, is called for Team 808, which fights against the smuggling of drugs and corruption. Noriko, a Japanese Interpol officer, collaborates with Darren for the destruction of a large international drug cartel. At the same time, a senior government officers daughter is suspected of corruption.

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Hellraiser: Inferno

Hellraiser: Inferno
Supernatural villain Pinhead finds himself on the wrong side of the law in this, the fifth film in the Hellraiser franchise. Joseph (Craig Sheffer) is a detective with the LAPD who one morning discovers he's no longer living in California -- he's been exiled to Hades, and the only way to escape is by solving the mystery of the all-powerful puzzle box.

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The Last American Virgin

The Last American Virgin
The friendship of a group of young friends struggling with teen sex, drugs, and work is jeopardized by a romantic interest which may turn pals into bitter rivals.

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Feed the Fish

Feed the Fish
Joe is a childrens book writer and illustrator in L.A. in the second year of major writers block. His girlfriend, impatient with his lack of progress, gets bitchy, so he breaks off the relationship and agrees to accompany her brother to a small town in Wisconsin where stalwarts jump in Lake Michigan on Christmas morning. The house where they stay is isolated, and when Joes pal is hospitalized with a badger bite, Joe is on his own. He befriends a local hermit, is attracted to the mans granddaughter, and must deal with the local sheriffs dislike of anyone from out of town. Plus, the sheriff is the young womans dad - with a gun. Christmas approaches and things get complicated.

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Gung Ho: Working Class Man

Gung Ho: Working Class Man
Hunt Stevenson works for a large car manufacturer that has just been bought out by a Japanese firm. Suddenly finding himself having to justify his own job, hes forced to choose between redundancy or the seemingly inhuman Japanese work ethic that the new owners have brought with them.

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Mystery Team

Mystery Team
They were kid detectives. Now theyre eighteen and still solving child crimes. But when the Mystery Team is challenged to solve a murder, they see an opportunity to prove theyre real detectives and to save the world of sex, crime and swear words. From Derrick Comedy, the Internet sensation whose short films have been viewed over 100 million times, comes this strangely hilarious, completely unique film thats been called Encyclopedia Brown meets NAPOLEON DYNAMITE meets ACE VENTURA.

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