Land of the Lost

Land of the Lost
Sid & Marty Krofft's 1970s cult classic TV series Land of the Lost has been brought to big screen life courtesy of director Brad Silberling and star Will Ferrell. The movie keeps the basic premise of the show -- two males and a female find themselves transported through a space-time vortex into an inter-dimensional world populated by aliens and dinosaurs -- but changes the main characters from a scientist-dad and his two kids to a scientist and two adult companions.

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Dead Man Running

Dead Man Running
When illness causes his mother (Brenda Blethyn) to need a wheelchair, doting con Nick Kane (Tamer Hassan) goes straight, opening a travel agency with a £100,000 loan from sinister gangster, Mr Thigo (50 Cent). But when the credit crunch bites, mean-spirited Mr Thigo calls in his loan and gives Nick 24 hours to pay – or his mum gets it. With best mate Bing (Danny Dyer) in tow, Nick first tries to raise the readies legally but soon slips back into his old ways of intimidation and violence.

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Big Stan

Big Stan
BIG STAN is about a nasty little Los Angeles conman who's convicted of fraud. He's so scared of being raped in jail that he turns to martial arts so he can be the baddest dude in the penitentiary.

Once upon a time, this might have been the kind of stupid premise that someone like Richard Pryor could have made funny ( Stir Crazy comes to mind). He would have been a cunning coward, dodging the hits and disarming his attackers with speedy one-liners and sneaky kicks. Rob Schneider takes a more contemporary comic approach: he first learns to beat people up, then delivers his one-liners. "Now pick up your gold teeth. I'm gonna let you keep 'em this time but if you come at me again, I'm gonna hang on to them like a Swiss banker."

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Shutter

Shutter
I think I could forgive the endless remaking J-horror flicks if any of them were made decently. Genre fans keep telling me how “this movie” is so good and the remake has a lot of potential. Few of them live up to that potential. Even with decent acting and an interesting, if not overdone, concept, Shutter is another remake that fails to live up to what I’ve heard about the original, and has a good chance of leaving the audience yawning throughout.

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Second Skin

Second Skin
A few days ago I had a chance to get an advance screening of a new film documentary about MMORPG gamers called Second Skin.

When the film started I got a sense that it was going to be more about the business aspect of MMO games, how they’ve effected our lives and how they will change them in the future. However it quickly became a sort of MTV True Life episode where we just follow 3 different group of gamers through their lives.

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Boys Are Back

Boys Are Back
It is said that films are not made about fully functional families because their stories are inherently uninteresting. The Boys Are Back shows that dysfunction doesn't necessarily equate to compelling. There's nothing terribly wrong with this leisurely paced chronicle of a single father's struggles parenting his two sons, but there's nothing terribly right with it, either. It's well-acted, competently directed, and features some beautiful cinematography (Greig Fraser provides breathtaking shots, especially one of tall grass being prompted by a strong breeze), but the story is ordinary and the emotional involvement is limited. It is often said that melodrama can ruin a motion picture, but that comment typically refers to an excess. The Boys Are Back could benefit from an injection of a little. This is the kind of movie that works best when one relates to it on a primal level more than on a purely intellectual one. Director Scott Hicks, who showed an uncanny ability to walk the line between too much and too little melodrama in Shine, is arguably too reticent in his treatment of this father/sons story.

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What Planet Are You From?

What Planet Are You From?
Ever had the feeling that you're not getting the whole story? That's what it's like to watch What Planet Are You From?, which suffers from the kind of editing job that indicates a cluttered cutting room floor. The product that survived appears to be held together with glue and staples - significant chunks of the plot have been excised, characters come and go with little rhyme or reason, and subplots vanish into thin air. Making sense of this movie is a feat that requires a nimble mind and a fertile imagination.

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Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy
Computer gaming fans have two reasons to rejoice during the summer of 2001: Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. However, although both are based on best-selling software, the approach taken by the filmmakers (Simon West for Tomb Raider; Hironobu Sakaguchi for Final Fantasy) are divergent. While Tomb Raider is a live-action, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style action/adventure movie, Final Fantasy is a computer animated science fiction action film that borrows heavily from Aliens and Star Trek. The result, despite lacking in originality, is fast-paced and highly watchable.

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Catch and Release

Catch and Release
Catch and Release is a confused, disjointed motion picture that tries to be many things and succeeds in being none. In less than two hours (although it feels considerably longer), writer/director Susannah Grant cobbles together nearly every imaginable plot, element, and device except the kitchen sink (although she manages to get the bathtub in there). Despite possessing a few effective and affecting scenes, Catch and Release is a mess and the methods it uses to bring closure to its diverse storylines feel trite and contrived. Leaving the theater, I was struck with a sense that the movie not only could have been better, but it should have been so.

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Hills Have Eyes II

Hills Have Eyes II
The Hills Have Eyes II is a sequel to a remake but not a remake of a sequel. Curiously, Horrormeister Wes Craven has been involved in all four movies featuring the words "hills" and "eyes" in the title. He wrote and directed the 1977 original and its 1985 sequel. He produced the 2006 remake and now he has added writer/producer credits for this movie to his resume. However, whatever optimism I may have had for the movie considering Craven's involvement evaporated quickly once in the theater. Whatever contribution Craven made to the screenplay must have occurred in the middle of the night while he was blindfolded. The hills might have eyes but this is one of those times I wish I didn't; then I could have been spared the headache and boredom inducing experience of sitting through this.

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Layer Cake

Layer Cake
Layer Cake is the latest in the recent cluster of British gangster/caper films begun by Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Matthew Vaughn, the director and co-producer of Layer Cake, held the producing credit for Lock and Ritchie's follow-up, Snatch. As such, it's no surprise that Layer Cake borrows aspects of the "feel" of those films. There's the same morbid sense of black humor, although Layer Cake is more character driven and less gruesome than the earlier productions. And, for pure shock value, it contains a "didn't see that one coming" moment unlike anything in either of Ritchie's ventures into this genre.

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The Odyssey

The Odyssey
The Odyssey, a high budget made-for-TV adaptation of Homer's epic adventure, is, by television standards, a monumental achievement. By theatrical standards, the special effects are ambitious but not overwhelming. Yet it's hard to deny that it captures the sweeping spirit of Homer's original poem with color and verve.

Armand Assante plays Odysseus, flawed hero of the Trojan War. When victory is won, he defies the gods with the sin of pride. Poseidon is angered and punishes him with the curse that he will never return home to his family and heritage. So he and his men are doomed to wander the Mediterranean Sea, bumping into powerful and deadly creatures that hamper his journey. Most of the episodes of Homer's poem are incorporated in some fashion. But one of the great ironies of the poem is that these adventures are told in flashback, Odysseus relating them to Telemachus, his son, after the fact. With what we know about Odysseus' character -- smart but devious -- it's entirely possible that his "real" adventures in the Mediterranean were fabricated in whole or in part. This television production adopts a more conventional storytelling style and has the adventures occur on scene such that there is no such doubt. Not necessarily a flaw in the show, but an interesting point to note.

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Intersection

Intersection
Vincent Eastman has to choose between his wife of 16 years, Sally, or his new love, Olivia. Frequent flashbacks explain the background to the marriage and the affair.

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Krews
A botched car-jacking forces two white-collar criminals to take refuge in the home of the thugs that accosted them. Over the course of one explosive, unpredictable night, worlds collide, fortunes shift, lives are cast aside and the most unsuspecting of heroes walks away with a multimillion dollar score.

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Memoirs of an Invisible Man

Memoirs of an Invisible Man
Nick Halloway is accidentally made invisible during an accident. When Jenkins finds out about Nick, he set out to recruit him into the world of espionage, seeing the potential for an invisible CIA agent. When Alice Monroe falls in love with Nick, they are forced to flee the attentions of Jenkins. Nick also has the problem of living invisibly whilst trying to find a cure.

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