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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Lang zai ji. / The Warrior and The Wolf

Lang zai ji. / The Warrior and The Wolf
Angrily asserting that men are no better than ferocious beasts, doomed to fall prey eventually to their own victims, celebrated Chinese Fifth Generation director Tian Zhuangzhuang launches into a series of metaphors leading to other metaphors and flashbacks within flashbacks with the Warrior and the Wolf, set in ancient times as the Chinese Empire takes on the rebellions tribes at its borders.

Tian is asking even his most faithful followers to work hard here to unravel the unwieldy knots of his story, based on a short piece by Japanese writer Yasushi Inoue but expanded with numerous brutal battles sequences and several torrid sex scenes. The director’s reputation could secure this arthouse and certainly festival play, but critical support is less than assured.

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Watchmen

Watchmen
Watchmen is a motion picture of uncommon ambition, technical perfectionism, and inspired artistry. It is also based on a beloved story that is not and was never terribly cinematic in nature. While I fully intended to discuss the film as a stand alone product, regardless of its success or failure as a literary adaptation, the finished product is so completely tied to its source that a viewer is almost required to have some understanding of the original book to at least appreciate, if not completely understand the movie. As I watched this epic unfold, I kept unconsciously referencing the original graphic novel for context, to fill in the blanks that the film itself did provide. As a faithful adaptation, it is a success. As an emotional tone poem, it is occasionally powerful. But as a stand alone feature film, intended to draw in and entertain the uninitiated, it's slightly problematic. Complete newbies will likely understand the broad strokes, but the subtleties of the material and the thematic ideologies may be lost under the surface, leaving non fans wondering what all the fuss was about.

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Passion Play

Passion Play
I have no idea why this film was ever made. Centering on a down-on-his-luck trumpet player that falls in love with a carnie with wings, Passion Play is a bunch of silliness that plays out for 91 minutes and then disappears never to be heard from again. This is a film that could have been incredibly entertaining if it had continually built on its stupidity for comedic gain. However, it tries to push some half-assed love story only to try and get all twisty and meaningful in the end. Gimme a break.

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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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Doom
(Insert appropriate remarks about how Doom is the perfect name for this motion picture.)

Although I am not averse to wasting a few hours playing computer games, I have never tried my hand at Doom. Judging by sales figures and testimonials, playing the game has to be an infinitely preferable experience to watching this pathetic excuse for a movie. Otherwise, not only would Doom never have become a phenomenon, but it would have lain gathering dust on store shelves. Doom (the movie) is a dreadful, hackneyed piece of cinema - a D-grade mess that's more a rip-off of Alien than an attempt to tell a compelling story. It's unfathomable how many times Hollywood has struck out in attempts to convert popular video/computer games into movies. This is the kind of misfire that reinforces negative stereotypes.

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Far From Heaven

Far From Heaven
Welcome to the world of "Father Knows Best", white picket fences, and brilliant fall colors. Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven takes us to Hartford, Connecticut, circa 1957. However, unlike most traditional period piece dramas, the intention here isn't just to replicate an American community as it was a half-century ago, but to emulate that community as it would have been portrayed in a movie of the era. One of Haynes' goals in crafting Far From Heaven is to emulate the so-called "women's films" of Douglas Sirk. In terms of style, visual approach, and general thematic content, Haynes has come as close as it's possible to in re-creating a '50s domestic melodrama for '00s consumption.

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The Contractor

The Contractor
A retired CIA-agent named James Dial (Wesley Snipes) is living his life in seclusion on his ranch in Montana when he is offered the chance to redeem himself by his former employer, Jeremy Collins (Ralph Brown). A few years ago, Dial was seconds away from taking down notorious terrorist cell leader Ali Mahmud Jahar (Nikolai Sotirov) when a distraction allowed Jahar to escape, marking the mission as a failure. Now, Collins wants Dial to eliminate Jahar, who has been captured and is now in the custody of the police in London, England.

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The Little Polar Bear

The Little Polar Bear
Set in the snowy wastes of the Arctic, and featuring a cast of lovable animal characters, "The Little Polar Bear" is a kids movie with an ecological message and plenty of rather obvious lessons about making friends with people who are different. Which is fair enough since the movie's target audience are pre-school toddlers.

Lars (voice of Wesley Singerman), the short-ass of the title, runs into trouble when he becomes best mates with a seal pup named Robby (Brianne Siddall). Inviting his friend home for dinner (as a guest rather than the entrée), Lars discovers that his carnivore community don't take too kindly to strangers of the flippered variety. At least not until Robby helps his fluffy friend solve the mystery of the sea's dwindling fish stocks.

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Firestarter 2: Rekindled

Firestarter 2: Rekindled
Vincent Sforza (Danny Nucci) works for a large, influential research firm, and he has been put in charge of locating several people who were part of an old experiment from the 1970s -- an experiment in which a group of college students were given a dose of a chemical called LOT-6.

Apparently, the victims of the experiment have won a class action lawsuit and need to be found so that a check can be issued. Included on the list is Charlene "Charlie" McGee (Marguerite Moreau), the offspring of two of the participants in the experiment.

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Uptown Girls

Uptown Girls
Molly Gunn (Brittany Murphy) is a carefree and fun-spirited girl, living as if she was a princess in a fairy tale. Her father was a popular rock-and-roll guitar player, who died in a plane crash with Molly's mother when she was a little girl. On her birthday in a nightclub, she meets Larraine "Ray" Schleine (Dakota Fanning), a hypochondriac and uptight young girl in a bathroom. Ray turns out to be the daughter of Roma Schleine (Heather Locklear), a well-known record company owner. There she also meets an ambitious Australian singer Neal (Jesse Spencer), who is trying to get Roma to sign him a record deal. Molly immediately falls for him and invites him to her apartment after the party. When at her apartment, Molly shows an amazed Neal the collection of guitars that her father left behind when he died. Bored by watching strange acts of Molly, such as owning a pet pig named Mu, eating Pez, speaking French, and various other things, he eventually leaves her for his career, but she doesn't give up on him.

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Slaughter

Slaughter
Faith heads to Atlanta with her friend Cathy, fleeing from her abusive and violent boyfriend Jimmy. They go to a night-club to celebrate the beginning of a new life for Faith, and there she helps a girl called Lola who is harassed by her date. Faith and Lola become friends and Lola invites Faith to move to her house, on a farm nearby the city. There she lives with her father, with whom she does not have a good relationship, and her two brothers. Faith agrees to move in and soon becomes curious about the slaughterhouse close to the barn which is always locked. This seems to also relate to Lola and she decides to investigate the matter further.

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Shirley Valentine

Shirley Valentine
Shirleys a middle-aged Liverpool housewife, who finds herself talking to the wall while she prepares her husbands chipnegg, wondering what happened to her life. She compares scenes in her current life with what she used to be like and feels shes stagnated and in a rut. But when her best friend wins an all-expenses-paid vacation to Greece for two, Shirley begins to see the world, and herself, in a different light.

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Goodnight for Justice

Goodnight for Justice
After losing his family to murderous criminals as a youth, John Goodnight (Luke Perry) takes up the law as an adult -- eventually becoming a circuit judge in the wild Wyoming Territory of the late 19th-century frontier. Dedicated to seeing that justice is served for the innocent and victimized, Judge Goodnight relies on his skills with both words and weapons to defend the law in a harsh and often lethal landscape.

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Graveyard Shift

Graveyard Shift
Based on Stephen Kings short story about a Maine textile mill, where its workers come into contact with something far more gruesome than anyone might expect.

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Johnny Gruesome

Johnny Gruesome
Based on Gregory Lambersons novel JOHNNY GRUESOME When high school heavy metal rebel Johnny Grissom is murdered by a coke head, he returns from the grave as Johnny Gruesome, the Headbanger from Hell!

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