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Hellbinders is a low-budget action/horror crossover flick written, directed, and starred in by martial artists and stuntmen who all have some seriously impressive Hollywood resumes. Ray Park, who plays the European accented mercenary who now operates in the City of Angels, was Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode 1 and Toad in the first X-Men movie.
First there was Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Then there was Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Now we have the famous pairing of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (lovingly referred to as Fity by many) and Val Kilmer (known as Iceman in my household). Who would have thought after one straight to video film in GUN audiences would be so fortunate to see a second straight to video film with the duo in BLOOD OUT? We are truly lucky. Are you picking up on my sarcasm? I hope so, because I’m laying it on pretty thick.
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Rarely has the question "What the hell?" been more appropriate. An uneven amalgamation of the brilliant and the preposterous, Constantine left me by turns intrigued, confused, and wary. The recipe calls for some ingredients that are compelling, others that are audacious, and others that are downright maddening. With a bold, dynamic visual style that fuses film noir elements with traditional horror motifs, Constantine can be considered many things, but dull is not amongst them. This is not a timid film, yet it's not an entirely successful one, either.
Right at Your Door
The apocalyptic scenario is one that nearly everyone born after 1945 has had to consider at one time or another. From the '50s through the '80s, it was the potential of a nuclear holocaust. Now, it's terrorism. Living with the ongoing possibility has a way of desensitizing a person so that when something happens, as it did on September 11, 2001, it's a shock to the system. Like any subject matter spawned in the nightmares of reality, this material offers fertile ground for filmmakers. Some come to exploit while others come to explore. Right at Your Door, the directorial debut of Chris Gorak, falls into the latter category. Its strength is that it feels real. It follows in the footsteps of two '80s movies about nuclear devastation: the overhyped The Day After and the underrated Testament.
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What is the difference between a bad melodrama and a good one? The key lies in the emotional response. If the viewer feels that he or she is being forced into reacting in a particular way because of "button pushing," the film makers have erred. While manipulation is almost always mandatory in a melodrama, it should be accomplished in such a way that no one in the audience is conscious of it at the time. Emotional high points should evolve naturally out of the plot; the storyline should not be constructed around those moments. Movies like Forrest Gump and Titanic capture the finer aspects of melodrama. Failed efforts like Patch Adams spend too much time trying to reduce the audience to tears through a series of cheap, transparent ploys.
This is yet another of those "based on a true story..." feel-good movies that's designed to make us believe that there are two kinds of human beings - free-spirits (who are the good guys) and establishment-types (who are inevitably villains). The title character, played by Robin Williams in one of his familiar dramatic/comedic turns, is a mental patient, who, during his stint in the Fairfax State Psychiatric Ward, decides that he wants to go to school to become a doctor. So, upon his release in 1971, the 40-something year old man enrolls in the Virginia Medical University. However, while the teachers preach book learning and emotional detachment, Patch believes that to treat a disease, the physician should connect with his patients. While his attitude is embraced by some of his fellow students, including a pretty co-ed named Carin Fischer (Monica Potter), Dean Walcott (Bob Gunton) forbids Patch to have contact with real patients, and, when he disobeys, he finds himself in danger of being thrown out of medical school.
The film is directed by Tom Shadyac, who helmed the first Ace Ventura movie, and written by Steve Oedekerk, who was behind the camera for the second (the pair also teamed up on the Eddie Murphy remake of The Nutty Professor). While these two arguably have some skill at comedy, they have little or none when it comes to drama. Patch Adams isn't much more than a series of overdone emotional scenes connected by a conventional plot line. Anyone interested in exploring a better approach to the same basic ideas should check out The Doctor, in which William Hurt plays a surgeon who learns about the coldness of the medical profession when he becomes a patient. In Patch Adams, there are moments of supposed emotional warmth as Patch connects with dying patients, towering sadness as he recites poetry over the coffin of a lost friend, and triumph as he overcomes the forces aligned against him. And, as is seemingly obligatory in this kind of film, there's a big speech at the end - one that makes Al Pacino's tirade in Scent of a Woman seem subtle by comparison. (It is perhaps worth noting, however, that few of the film's jokes involves flatulence, so maybe Shadyac and Oedekerk are trying to display some maturity.)
Robin Williams, who won an Oscar for his beautifully-understated role in Good Will Hunting, wavers between being effective and going over-the-top. From time-to-time, he has genuinely funny moments (when Patch Adams goes for comedy, it's not half bad), but, for the most part, the dramatic aspect of his performance is off. He's forcing the audience's emotional response. And, although attempting to replicate his work in Dead Poets Society, Williams is working with a script that isn't as polished, so some of his scenes come across as overwrought instead of heartbreaking.
The supporting cast is peppered with familiar faces. Monica Potter, most recently seen in the Prefontaine biography, Without Limits, is Patch's much younger girlfriend. Daniel London is the first of his student converts. Philip Seymour Hoffman (the prank phone caller in Happiness) is Patch's straitlaced roommate. Bob Gunton is Dean Walcott, the personification of evil. Michael Jeter is Patch's mental ward cellmate. Irma P.Hall is a nurse at the hospital where Patch works his magic, and Peter Coyote is a cranky cancer patient who becomes one of Patch's greatest successes.
Patch Adams is slated for a Christmas Day release, presumably because Universal Pictures believes audiences are more susceptible to this kind of half-baked storytelling during the season of good will. However, with the even more cloying Stepmom arriving on the same day, there's bound to be a run on Kleenexes. Patch Adams is the kind of film that will work for an audience that's just interested in having an emotional experience (with a happy ending) without caring how obviously or clumsily they are manipulated. I find this sort of sledgehammer film making to be offensive, but there are those who enjoy it. Somehow, though, I don't think there are enough viewers with such a low quality threshold to right Universal Pictures' floundering financial ship. Patch Adams is another miscalculation by a studio that hasn't done much right all year
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Credit the marketing masters at Twentieth Century Fox -- they've managed to make Independence Day the most eagerly-anticipated motion picture of a potentially record- breaking summer. Tantalizing shots of the White House and Empire State Building being destroyed by alien ships have been shown in multiplexes since last Christmas. It's a saturation philosophy: show the previews before every movie and tell people that this is "the event" of 1996, and they will come. Whether Independence Day takes in $30 million, $50 million, or $80 million during its first weekend is irrelevant -- it will make a huge splash. Unfortunately, and perhaps not unexpectedly, it doesn't live up to the hype.
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Sometimes, it's all about the cast. That comment isn't meant to disparage the scriptwriting of Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan Goldstein, who offer their share of amusing situations and snappy one-liners, or the direction of Seth Gordon, which is crisp. But for something like Horrible Bosses to sparkle, the actors have to shine... and shine they do. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis are funny and sympathetic as the underappreciated workers turned inept criminals. Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, and Colin Farrell bare their teeth (and, in Aniston's case, a bit more) as the title characters. And, lurking in the background, Jamie Foxx plays a hit man with the unlikely moniker of Motherfucker Jones. With a name like that, you know this isn't going to be PG-13.
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Puppet Master 7: Retro Puppet Master
Storyline Its 1892 and Sutekh is hopping mad. It seems a 3,000 year old Egyptian sorcerer has stolen one of the Gods secrets of life - that of instilling the souls of the dying into inanimate things. Sutekh raises three mummified former high priests, led by the villainous First Servant, and charges them with recovering both the Sorceror and his secret.
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House of the Wolf Man
Five strangers are invited to a castle under the pretense that one may inherit it. Little do they know what dangers await at the House of the Wolfman.
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Alexis "Lexie" Winston (Lynn-Holly Johnson) is a young girl from a small town who dreams of becoming a champion figure skater. Her high-school sweetheart, Nick (Robby Benson), dreams of being a hockey player.
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Underwater deep-sea miners encounter a Soviet wreck and bring back a dangerous cargo to their base on the ocean floor with horrifying results. In a story owing a lot to Alien and The Thing, the crew of the mining base must fight to survive against a genetic mutation that hunts them down one by one. Part of a wave of underwater movies including The Abyss and Deep Star Six.
Dear Diary Veronica Sawyer is sick of being part of the Heathers, the most powerful clic of Westerberg High making fun of Martha Dunnstock (Dumptruck), the fat girl, or doing some stupid polls is something shell never get used to. Meanwhile she meets JD, a cool rebel guy who wouldnt mind shooting a gun at school just to make his point. Remington Universitys party is where Veronica has to go as a Heather, and theres where she gets her ultimatum as a Heather from Heather Chandler, the head of the Heathers. So Veronica and her lover JD accidentally kill Heather Chandler and manage to cover it up by making a suicide note. Will this be just the beginning of the assasination-turned-suicide serie of Westerberg High which nor the FBI, the CIA or the PTA would be able to stop? Or will Veronica be able to pull herself together and stop her psychotic lover from killing absolutely EVERYONE at school?
In the 22nd century, Dr. Paul Merchant has created the ultimate space station for a special purpose to destroy the Lament Configuration, which has brought silent shame to his family for centuries. In the 18th century, French toy maker Phillip LMerchant built the first puzzle box, which was used by magician de LIsle to create a beautiful demon named Angelique, the daughter of Leviathan, the lord of Hells Labyrinth. As the generations passed, LMerchants descendants began the work to create the Elysium Configuration - a box that would destroy the Lament Configuration, until 1996, when one of them, John nearly fell to the power of the box through Angelique. Of course, Pinhead and his Cenobites arent happy about the fact that the gateway to Hell will by destroyed...
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In Love and War
Reporter Ernest Hemingway is an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I. While bravely risking his life in the line of duty, he is injured and ends up in the hospital, where he falls in love with his nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky.
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On a dark winters night, a pregnant cow screams out in agony on Dans Farm. Dan is trying to deliver he calf but there is a problem. Something has gone terribly wrong with the calf inside the cow. And Dan is terrified. Over the next 35 hours we slowly learn the shocking truth of what is happening on the farm the biotech experiment gone wrong the awful reality of what has been done to the cattle and the physical danger that the five people on the farm find themselves in.
Maata meren alla (Ground Under Water)
Ida is a woman who was adopted to Finland from Africa as a child. Ida is an unemployed seamstress approaching her thirties and still lives at home with her activist mother Kati. Kati wants to fix her daughters life and offers her a job at her work. Encouraged by her new friend Ville, Ida, however, sets out for Berlin in order to find a job and to prove to her mother that she can manage on her own. Meanwhile, Kati has been told that she is seriously ill, but she does not want to mention it to Ida in fear of standing in the way of her daughters struggle for independence. Ida wants to have a life of her own, but what will she have left at the end of the day?
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