The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid
The fact of the matter is it's been 26 years since the first Karate Kid, and given how many other movies have relied on the exact same formula, a full-fledged remake is pretty fair game. By moving things to China and casting 11-year-old Jaden Smith (as opposed to the 25-year-old Ralph Macchio of the original), Sony successfully put a fresh coat of paint on the rickety old story, and despite a gargantuan running time and paper-thin characters, it's kind of nice to see yet another kid learn the crane pose.

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The Express

The Express
Ernie Davis was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. His number is retired by the Cleveland Browns, and heís a member of the College Football Hall Of Fame. Now, heís the recipient of his very own aggressively passable biopic. You can go ahead and order those achievements in any way you see fit.

The latest in a long series of black people breaking down barriers in a new field films, The Express is a B-movie barbeque sauce of been-there-done-that retreads. It borrows from and binges on better motion pictures like Remember the Titans; then again, all that clichéd rehashing isnít necessarily a bad thing. Just because I love a delicately-cooked, rare filet mignon doesnít mean a bacon cheeseburger from Wendyís canít effectively seduce me at one in the morning on a Tuesday.

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Rendition

Rendition
Much as I might like to, I cannot heap praise upon director Gavin Hood's Rendition, a political thriller with aspirations of being so much more that it is. The film treads into the minefield of debate that exists surrounding the question of Constitutional Rights versus National Security. Some day, someone is going to make a very good movie about these issues - one that will take a hard look at the dangers inherent in not walking the fine tightrope that exists. Rendition, however, approaches the subject playing with a stacked anti-National Security deck and a script that is half-baked. Hood has staked out a position and defended it in a shockingly unsubtle way. Instead of experiencing a movie thatís seriously interested in getting into all of the pluses and minuses of the policy of "extreme rendition," we are ambushed by a simplistic storyline thatís more interested in sermonizing and demonizing than existing in the real world where things aren't as clear-cut as the movie would like us to believe. The film's disappointingly black-and-white approach robs characters and situations of badly needed ambiguity.

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Role Models

Role Models
Role Models takes a familiar PG-rated plot and adds enough profanity and nudity to earn it a family unfriendly R. Sadly, an injection of raunchiness does not equate to an increase in quality and, while Role Models can boast the occasionally funny joke, there's little else to recommend this derivative buddy film. In fact, the storyline is so obvious that it needs a heavy dose of hilarity to save it from bouts of tedium, and director David Wain's hit-or-miss comedy lacks the consistency necessary to make Role Models appealing.

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Ballad of Jack and Rose

Ballad of Jack and Rose
The Ballad of Jack and Rose is a low-key character study about a father and daughter whose idyllic lifestyle is interrupted by the arrival of three newcomers. Not much happens in this film beyond the evolution of the characters and their relationships. Certainly, no one is the same at the end as they are at the beginning. This is where writer/director Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity) succeeds - she breathes life into these individuals and allows them to emerge from the screen.

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Cursed

Cursed
Cursed is a good title for this film, which has been beset by problems from the outset. The version finally reaching theaters in February of 2005 likely bears little resemblance to what producer/writer Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven initially envisioned. Both have distanced themselves from the project, which was radically re-edited (with a pair of dull scissors, it seems) to de-gore the R-rated cut into something suitable for PG-13 audiences. And, for a variety of reasons, Cursed has sat on the shelves of Dimension Films, gathering dust until it could be unceremoniously dumped into theaters when no one is looking.

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Murderball

Murderball
As a tale of human courage and personal triumph, Murderball works. As a sports documentary, it falls short of the mark. Fortunately, Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro's crowd-pleasing movie (it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at Sundance) is more about the former than the latter. The failure of the in-game sequences (which amount to only a small percentage of the overall running time) does little to detract from Murderball's most important observations.

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Truth About Charlie

Truth About Charlie
Remaking movies is always a risky endeavor, and remaking a classic can border on the foolhardy. Taken on its own terms, however, Jonathan Demme's The Truth About Charlie, a '00s re-interpretation of the 1963 thriller Charade, is a decent Ė and even engaging Ė motion picture. It's not a great movie, or even a very good one, but, if you try not to compare it too much to the original, it works. Given the option, it's better to see Charade, which easily tops Demme's version for star power, if nothing else, but The Truth About Charlie has its own set of charms, not the least of which is Thandie Newton.

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Dances with Wolves

Dances with Wolves
There was a time when the western was one of Hollywood's most popular genres. Whether it was Gary Cooper standing tall in High Noon, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas taking out the Clantons in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, John Wayne fighting the Apaches in Rio Grande, or Clint Eastwood looking more bad than good or ugly in Sergio Leone's trilogy, the Old West was a sure way to break into the black at the box office. But that was during the '50s and '60s. Since then, another cinematic generation has taken over and the western has gone the way of the musical. In 1990, while it wasn't yet as extinct as the Sabertooth Tiger, it was definitely on the endangered species list - until Kevin Costner came along and singlehandedly breathed new life into the genre. Suddenly, in the span of three years, two westerns had captured the Best Picture Oscar (Dances with Wolves and Unforgiven). And, while this newfound popularity didn't come close to challenging what had once been, film makers could take solace that they would not be summarily denied funding the moment they mentioned the words "Old West."

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Fear of the Dark

Fear of the Dark
Twelve year old Ryan Billings has been diagnosed with an acute fear of the dark. He spends each night lying awake in torment, waiting and watching as the evil in the darkness grows stronger, feeding off his fear. His older brother Dale, suspects that there is nothing wrong with Ryan and that this is just a ploy for more attention. Regardless, he promises to watch over his little brother as their parents head off to a party for the night. Outside a storm rages and when the power goes out, darkness envelops the house. Ryan knows that tonight the evil has finally come to claim him. Dale desperately tries everything to try and calm him down, until the horrors in the dark make him realize Ryan had good reason to be so afraid!

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Metrosexual

Metrosexual
Four friends each receive phone calls to meet a fifth friend for lunch at MK Restaurant, a popular hot pot chain in Bangkok. The friends are:

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Taking 5

Taking 5
This upbeat story features the crazy escapades of two teen-idol worshipers, Gabby and Devon. These best friends are also the ultimate fans of mega-boy band 5 Leo Rise (played by real band The Click Five). When they botch their high schools chance to win a free concert, the desperate pair cooks up a juicy plan.

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Keeping the Faith

Keeping the Faith
Father Brian Finn (Edward Norton) has been dedicated to his calling since he was a child and now shares the duties of a New York parish with an older priest, Fr. Havel (Miloš Forman). Rabbi Jacob "Jake" Schram (Ben Stiller), best friends with Brian since childhood, is the youngest rabbi at his Reform synagogue; his lack of effort to find a wife often results in his mother (Anne Bancroft) and other women of his congregation setting him up on blind dates, much to his dismay. The two men show a close bond, even in their professions, where the two are planning the opening of a jointly sponsored community center. In its earlier days, the friendship included a third party. Via flashbacks and reminiscent musings, Anna Reilly (Jenna Elfman) is introduced: she met Jake and Brian in middle school, after beating up a bully who was picking on them. The three enjoyed attending ballgames, playing sports, and riding the subway around the city together, as well as getting into typical mischief. Unfortunately, Anna's father got a new job that resulted in the Reillys moving cross-country to California.

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Forever Strong

Forever Strong
A talented-but-troubled rugby player must play against the team his father coaches at the national championship.

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Jump!
Police in 1928 Austria arrest Phillippe Halsman, of Jewish origin, for Patricide and allege that he killed his father, Morduch, while on a hiking trip. Phillippe is defended by a Jewish lawyer, Richard Pressburger, who quickly comes to the conclusion that Judge Larcher is prejudiced against his client. This allegation prompts Larcher to warn Richard to continue defending his client - or join him in the cell for contempt charges. The question remains will Richard continue to defend his client or give up this case as he probably realizes that there is no chance of a fair trial.

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Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In
Oskar, a bullied 12-year old, dreams of revenge. He falls in love with Eli, a peculiar girl. She cant stand the sun or food and to come into a room she needs to be invited. Eli gives Oskar the strength to hit back but when he realizes that Eli needs to drink other peoples blood to live hes faced with a choice. How much can love forgive? Set in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1982.

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