Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
It's surprising how under-utilized the legends of Greek mythology have been in modern Hollywood movie-making, considering their potential in terms of whiz-bang visual effects and action-adventure histrionics. Yeah, there's the upcoming Clash of the Titans, which if its anything like its namesake will be very liberal when it comes to fidelity to the original myths, and then there was Troy a few years backů which really wasn't doing Homer (or anyone else) any favors. But beyond that, the big screen has been pretty light on the ancient myths lately. 20th Century Fox, however, is hoping to change that with its new kid's-lit fantasy, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. But is the new film a golden-egg laying goose, or a Pandora's box full of awfulness?

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The Morgue

The Morgue
The Morgue is a silly horror film rated R for violence and for the gratuitous and severe overuse of the worst word that you can use. Lisa Crilley stars as our illustrious and somewhat dimly-lit morgue worker/college student, Margo Dey. How long has she worked there? I wonder to myself, as she hasn't noticed what a bad place this seems to be.

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The Lake House

The Lake House
"The Lake House" tells the story of a romance that spans years but involves only a few kisses. It succeeds despite being based on two paradoxes: time travel, and the ability of two people to have conversations that are, under the terms established by the film, impossible. Neither one of these problems bothered me in the slightest. Take time travel: I used to get distracted by its logical flaws and contradictory time lines. Now in my wisdom I have decided to simply accept it as a premise, no questions asked. A time travel story works on emotional, not temporal, logic.

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White Noise

White Noise
For our cinematic introduction to the year 2005, I can offer an alternative two-word title to the one selected by Universal Pictures: Utter Crap. (There are more colorful possibilities, but I like to think of this website as family-friendly.) At least that moniker sets reasonable expectations for White Noise, which sounds more like the name of Vanilla Ice's successor than moviedom's latest answer to the mystery of death.

The biggest horror about White Noise is that there's no horror to speak of. In the place of scares, we are bombarded with bad melodrama, silly pseudo-science, a storyline that never comes close to making sense, and a creeping malaise of boredom that will put even the most over-caffeinated move-goer to sleep. I could also complain about the ending, but the movie doesn't really have one. It sort of stumbles to a stop before the credits mercifully begin running. The moment this happened, half the people remaining in the audience bolted for the exit. The other half had to be awakened from a long winter's nap.

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Tracey Fragments

Tracey Fragments
The Tracey Fragments uses its non-standard visual style, a split-screen approach that can show from one to sixteen frames at any one time, in a vain attempt to camouflage the paucity of the story. Director Bruce McDonald, working from a script by Maureen Medved, seems to believe that because he's doing something most filmmakers avoid, it qualifies The Tracey Fragments as being interesting and cutting edge. It is neither. This unexceptional and uninteresting story of a self-pitying borderline-personality teenager verges on being unwatchable as a result of McDonald's decision to bombard the audience with extraneous images in lieu of telling the story.

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Fast Food Nation

Fast Food Nation
The idea underlying Fast Food Nation is intriguing: take the premise of the best-selling non-fiction book by Eric Schlosser and convert it into the backstory of a fictional film. Where director Richard Linklater runs into trouble is in the execution stage. The narrative he has fashioned is not only unfocused and rambling, but presents thinly developed characters that have little life or screen presence. The only interesting elements of Fast Food Nation are when it offers insight into the fast food process from slaughter house to Styrofoam container. This argues that the movie might have worked better had the ensemble cast been dumped and the project re-imagined as a documentary.

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Last King of Scotland

Last King of Scotland
The Last King of Scotland, in addition to having one of the most misleading titles of any movie to open this Oscar season, could also be 2006's Hotel Rwanda. Like last year's sadly overlooked feature, this one peers into another troubled African nation: Uganda. The Last King of Scotland explores the turmoil and troubles surrounding the beginning of one of the country's darkest recent periods: the Idi Amin regime, which lasted from 1971 through 1979 and resulted in thousands upon thousands of deaths. (The exact number is unknown, but is estimated to be between 80,000 and 500,000.) Based on actual events, the movie takes us into Amin's inner circle through the eyes of an outsider who is initially charmed by the charismatic leader until Amin's true nature begins to bubble to the surface.

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Signal

Signal
To say that The Signal has major tone problems is to understate the problem. While it's possible for a movie to function simultaneously as a horror movie and a parody of the genre, it's not the easiest trick to pull off and first-time feature directors David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry, and Dan Bush miss the mark badly. The film's wild swings from atmospheric apocalypse to ultra-gory horror to boldfaced camp to outright comedy are both dizzying and off-putting. It doesn't take long for the The Signal's promising beginning to fade into a haze that leaves the viewer exhausted and irritated. And the sense that events are building to a big "reveal" results in a letdown when the film ends conventionally without fulfilling the implicit promise.

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I Heart Huckabees

I Heart Huckabees
After seeing two previews for David O. Russell's I Heart Huckabees, I had no idea what it was about. Now, having seen the movie, I still feel like I'm on the outside looking in. I certainly realize why the preview is so obtuse. There's no way that two minutes of snippets can begin to convey what this film is trying to do. In fact, in order to understand what's going on, you have to sit through all 105 minutes of the running time, and that's an experience that will try the patience of many mainstream movie-goers. It's no exaggeration to say that this movie is not for everyone.

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Live Flesh

Live Flesh
Almodovar. To those familiar with his body of work, that name is more than just a way to identify one of today's premiere directors -- it offers valuable insight into the scope and intent of a movie. Since his debut in 1980 with Pepi, Luci, Bom, Almodovar has been the "bad boy" of Spanish cinema. His films have been offbeat, energetic, and wildly stylistic (often to the point of garishness). With titles like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, and Kika, Almodovar has constantly challenged his audience about some of the essential themes of life: sex, love, and violence. He pushes the envelope in a way that many film makers are uncomfortable even attempting. Watch Tie Me Up! if you doubt this statement.

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Dave Chappelle: For What It's Worth

Dave Chappelle: For What It's Worth
Comedian Dave Chappelle does what he does best in this outrageous and hilarious standup performance, which allows him to really push the envelope and go even farther than he does on his TV show. Taped in San Francisco at the famed Fillmore, Chappelle lets loose on such topics as black celebrities, what its like to have raunchy fans of his TV show approach him while hes trying to enjoy Disneyland with his kids, Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant and crackheads, of course.

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Neowolf

Neowolf
When an aspiring rock musician TONY returns to his college town to make up with his estranged girlfriend ROSEMARY, he finds his life taking an unexpected turn to the dark side when he encounters a mysterious rock band NEOWOLF led by rocker VINCE and the alluring band girl PAULA. When Rosemarys best friend KEVIN turns up dead, Rosemary seeks out a Nursery owner MRS. BELAKOV who knows the secrets of an ancient evil.

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Undefeatable

Undefeatable
The film follows Kristi Jones (Rothrock) who, along with her gang, take part in Mafia-run street fights to earn money for her sister's college education. Kristi's sister hopes to become a doctor and pay for Kristi's education.

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Harriet the Spy

Harriet the Spy
Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. But when Harriets friends find her secret notebook the tables are turned on her. Can she win her friends back and still keep on going with the spy buisness?

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Living Death

Living Death
Victor Harris is a spoiled playboy who can only feel when hes brutalizing others. Victors wife, Elizabeth, thinks hes a monster, but cant divorce him. Roman, Victors lawyer, plots the perfect solution - poison Victor and blame his death on drugs. Unfortunately, the poison fails and and only places Victor in a death-like coma. He can see , hear and feel everything but cant move - even during his autopsy. Its enough to drive him insane and out of his coma. When Victor escapes his grave he traps Elizabeth and Roman in his mansions secret chamber so he can exact his tortuous revenge.

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Left Behind III: World at War

Left Behind III: World at War
Its been eighteen months since Nicolae Carpathias rise to power, and has been captivating the whole world, including President Fitzhugh. There are some far away, who suspect hes something more, the prophesied Antichrist. After a failed attempt on the Presidents life, Fitzhugh must call on Buck and Carolyn Miller to uncover the mystery. Meanwhile, the rest of the Trib Force group Rayford Steele, daughter (and now Bucks wife) Chloe, Pastor Bruce Barnes and the newest member Amanda White to uncover the mystery. Soon the lives of President Fitzhugh and the Tribulation Force will be connected in ways they couldnt have imagined.

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