Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass invites controversy, courts it in fact, as director/co-writer Matthew Vaughn refused to compromise in bringing the comic book series to the big screen. Vaughn went outside the studio system, obtaining his own financing and going through the entire production without knowing whether his hard R-rated film would ever find a home. He kicked up interested in Kick-Ass at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, unspooling clips he hoped would get fanboys and fangirls worked up into a frenzy, and would get the attention of a major studio.
Lionsgate eventually snagged the rights to distribute Kick-Ass and Vaughn was able to release his version of the film without having to delete a major character, something that most likely would have been required had there been studio involvement early on. The fact that major character, Hit Girl (played by the astounding young actress Chloe Moretz), is in the film intact makes Kick-Ass the most kick-ass comic book adaptation in film history. Not the best - I still swear by The Dark Knight - but it's right up there in the ranks of the most memorable, entertaining, and conversation-inspiring comic book adaptations ever made.

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The Storm

The Storm
With Kerry Fox, Stephen Dillane and the Yugoslav conflict at the heart of this judicial thriller, Sturm is a kind of mash-up of Michael Winterbottomís Welcome To Sarajevo twelve years on. While Winterbottomís film was a journalistís search for a bullet and bomb tattered truth, Hans Christian Schmidís court drama is a cogitative quest for real justice, focusing on the human forces turning the cogs inside the International Criminal Court. Responsible for trying those accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, itís shocking so few films have been made about a court with so much at stake, especially in the wake of recent geopolitical thrillers, such as Tom Tykwerís The International or Sydney Pollackís The Interpreter. But following on from Lichterís ruminative border-line stories, Hans-Christian Schmid has uncovered an equally philosophical drama in another European no manís land. Only this time itís justice on trial.

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The Departed

The Departed
After a brief dalliance with aviation and Bob Dylan, super-director Martin Scorsese has returned to his first love: organized crime. This time it's the Irish that are up to no good in The Departed, his remake of the Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs.

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Batman Begins

Batman Begins
Of all the major comic book characters to transition to a less static visual media, none has been more mistreated than the Bat-Man. As originally envisioned by creator Bob Kane in 1939, Batman was a dark character who walked the tightrope between hero and vigilante. That was his image until the 1960s, when the campy TV series starring Adam West transformed the character into a silly-but-likable good guy in gray spandex. Tim Burton re-invented Batman for a surreal (and, at the time, highly anticipated) 1989 feature, but the movie ended up focusing more on The Joker, leaving the titular hero to lick his wounds as a supporting character. By the time that Batman series reached its third movie, it had fallen back to the campy level of its TV predecessor. Now, there's nothing wrong with camp, per se, but, by the 1997 arrival of Batman and Robin, fans had had enough. Batman looked dead, at least until now.

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Flags of Our Fathers

Flags of Our Fathers
Flags of Our Fathers is Clint Eastwood's homage to the honored dead of World War II as well as a meditation upon how an icon is formed. Based on the book by James Bradley and Ron Powers, the movie centers around the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the key late war conflicts in the Pacific Theatre. However, unlike other films that have trodden similar ground (in particular, the John Wayne vehicle The Sands of Iwo Jima), Eastwood's movie does two things differently. First, it uses the Saving Private Ryan approach to battle (not surprising, since Steven Spielberg is a producer) by showing all the blood and viscera older war movies kept hidden. Secondly, it intercuts the Iwo Jima sequences with those happening Stateside several months later, where key events are transpiring.

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Last Mimzy

Last Mimzy
New Line honcho Bob Shaye has been in the news a lot recently, primarily because of an increasingly acrimonious feud with Peter Jackson over profits from The Lord of the Rings. With The Last Mimzy, Shaye steps back into the director's chair for the first time in over a decade-and-a-half, adapting Lewis Pagett's 1943 short story into a family film. The movie's poor focus and scattershot approach, while not without its charms, represents the kind of product that may divert children but will likely puzzle adults with its inconsistency.

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Rescue Dawn

Rescue Dawn
Rescue Dawn, which transpires in southeast Asia during 1965, makes three things perfectly clear. First, director Werner Herzog is obsessed with the story of Dieter Dengler. Second, Herzog loves making movies about men with a tenuous grasp on sanity who are trapped deep in the jungle. Third, lead actor Christian Bale no longer has a stable weight.

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Shrek
Dreamworks Pictures' wonderful, whimsical Shrek proves to be the latest family film to live up to its billing. With its blend of high adventure, light romance, and double-layered dialogue (which will take on a slightly different meaning for the under- and over-12 crowd), Shrek is capable of enthralling both children and their parents. In fact, this movie is so good that adults unaccompanied by offspring can venture into a theater without having to dress up in a disguise. Shrek is not a guilty pleasure for sophisticated movie-goers; it is, purely and simply, a pleasure.

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King Kong

King Kong
Spoiler Alert: This review assumes that the reader is familiar with the story of King Kong, including the ending. If you're not, and don't want to be spoiled, it's best to stop reading after the fourth paragraph and return once you have seen the movie.

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Bound
Bound appears to be ripe with all the elements necessary for a top-notch exploitation flick: leather, guns, gangsters, blood, and a couple of hot-to-trot lesbians. From the first scene, however, it's obvious that the writing/directing team of Andy and Larry Wachowski are aiming for something considerably higher than rudimentary titillation. And, by taking chances and twisting conventions, they have hit paydirt. Bound is among the best film noir entries of the decade; from beginning to end, it's solidly entertaining.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, a 1987 feature from John Hughes, represented something of a watershed in the career of the prolific writer/director/producer. Prior to this film, Hughes had been known for his contribution to the popular '80s genre of "the teen movie." Unlike most film makers working in that arena, Hughes eschewed the cheap T&A exploitation of flicks like Porky's in favor of surprisingly sensitive character interaction and relationship building. Hughes made his early reputation with pictures like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. By the time Planes, Trains, and Automobiles arrived, Hughes had abandoned the teen genre, and was searching for something new. He would find it two years later when he wrote and produced Home Alone. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles was a bridge between the two phases of his career, containing elements of both character development and physical comedy.

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Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis
In the Seventeenth Century, while Hungary is fighting the Turks, the population of a small village in the Carpathian Mountains faces the evil Countess Elizabeth Bathory, accused of drinking and bathing in blood of virgin women. Count Thurzo imprisons the Countess in the tower of a monastery and brings her daughter to live with him. In the present days, Keith is writing a book about Countess Elizabeth Bathory and traveling through Hungary with his friends J.J. and Kim researching her life. While trying to find the monastery, he meets the gorgeous and seductive Elizabeth, who guides the trio to the place. Keith and Elizabeth fall in love for each other, and after a car accident, they have a supernatural journey with revelations and fatalities.

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Hallettsville

Hallettsville
Something awaits Tyler Jensen and his friends in the Hallettsville house. When Tylers lifelong friends start dying, he must figure out a way to save himself, his girlfriend and the rest of the crew before the demons come.

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Dust Devil

Dust Devil
A shape shifter (Burke) comes from the desert in search of victims, a spirit the locals call The Dust Devil. He prays on the lonely and the unloved, those that have already lost everything but life itself. Wendy (Field) has broken up with her husband and wanders aimlessly in her car. She picks up a stranger and begins having misgivings about picking him up when strange things begin to occur. Meanwhile a local police officer (Mokae) tracks the killer. Aided by a shamans admonishments about witchcraft he sets off to try and stop the beast before it can complete its grisly task.

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Mayflower! aka Date For Hire

Mayflower! aka Date For Hire
No game Marcus makes a bet that hell go out with the next girl who walks through the Mayflower! bar doors. She just happens to be the gorgeous Rhonda and costs 1000 to take him around the world. Youll never believe what happens next on Marcus and Lamonts adventure to get the money. Theyre not crossing the Atlantic, but be prepared for the voyage... a lot can happen in one day at the Mayflower! Bar.

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Mortuary

Mortuary
The Doyle family moves to rural California to start a new life perhaps a strange choice because their new life takes on the form of running the long abandoned Fowler Brothers Funeral Home. The locals fear the place, and there are whispers around town that the land the home lies on is haunted. The Doyle family will soon discover that something lurks beneath the soil-something that raises rotten corpses from their long forgotten graves and feeds on death itself.

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