Sanctum

SanctumOne would think that a simple spelunking disaster scenario would be enough to fill the running time of “Sanctum.” After all, the inherent danger of caves and raging waters is a compelling cinematic obstacle course on its own, supplying vital chills and spills needed to mount a successful thriller.

“Sanctum” isn’t satisfied with the visceral basics, instead looking to engage the audience through dramatic cliché, leaving a nifty premise to wither while lifeless actors spout rotten dialogue and an unimaginative director stages substandard action set pieces. While teeming with promise and the marquee value of James Cameron as an executive producer, “Sanctum” is a deathly dull, criminally obvious feature film. In 3D. But of course.

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Wrong Turn at Tahoe

Wrong Turn at Tahoe
Wrong Turn at Tahoe is a fairly dull action film swayed in all directions by the winds of expectation. The movie stars Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding, Jr., once a marquee name but long since relegated to Blockbuster premieres in action movies (for whatever reason), and it's a direct-to-video release, a factor that causes people's hopes to dry up extra quickly. Anyone who reads my reviews frequently will probably have noticed that I'm a lenient guy. First and foremost, I watch movies to be entertained, and my willingness to be entertained is pretty high; I've seen hundreds of movies that weren't very good, but managed to squeak by thanks to one or two elements that I enjoyed even while everything else around it falls as flat as a board. For better or worse, I am also strongly swayed by the expectations that I bring to the movie, and watching Wrong Turn at Tahoe, I began to wonder: what do viewers actually expect out of a direct-to-video film?

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Bad Santa

Bad Santa
Bad Santa's Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is the kind of guy who makes Scrooge look like a generous, mild mannered eccentric. With a character as thoroughly unlikable as this, you know immediately that Bad Santa is not going to be just another modern-day version of A Christmas Carol. It has two modes: dark and darker, and dares to do some things with the Christmas motif that haven't been done since Norman Rene's Reckless. Realistically, however, what else would you expect from a movie directed by Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World) and executive produced by the Coen Brothers?

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Black Book

Black Book
In the 1980s and 1990s, Paul Verhoeven made a name for himself in Hollywood, directing such high-profile films as Robocop, Basic Instinct, and Starship Troopers. Before arriving in America, however, Verhoeven had a flourishing career in the Netherlands, where he cut his filmmaking teeth. For Black Book, a film he has been writing (on and off) for 20 years, he has returned to his roots. The result is a powerful and compelling World War II thriller that features note-perfect performances and an almost flawless screenplay. Verhoeven's sure hand, honed as a result of 15 years of big-budget features, gives Black Book a polished look that few American war movies can exceed. An element of controversy has shadowed Black Book because Verhoeven has the temerity to portray resistance fighters as less-than-heroic and one high ranking Nazi as a nice guy.

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National Treasure: Book of Secrets

National Treasure: Book of Secrets
How to review a movie that's essentially a copy of its predecessor? The temptation is to simply copy what I wrote about the first National Treasure into this space with a few minor edits to account for name and location changes. Everything from the earlier review is valid for this chapter. Not only are the movies so similar as to be largely indistinguishable but they regurgitate identical problems. (The saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." What if it is broke, but no one cares?) In fairness, it should be noted that the original National Treasure developed a surprisingly large following and it's a pretty good bet that those who liked the first movie will probably appreciate the second. After all, it's not much different than popping the older feature in the DVD player.

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Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread Man
Combine the talents of director Robert Altman and actors Kenneth Branagh and Robert Duvall, and you have the apparent recipe for a motion picture worth waiting for. But, although The Gingerbread Man is a finely-tuned example of mainstream entertainment, and holds the audience's interest for most of its running length, it is a little disappointing. Perhaps the problem is that the story was written by John Grisham, and, as one might expect, it doesn't stray far from the standard Grisham formula. Or maybe it's that Altman has gotten lazy recently. Following the less-than-stellar Ready to Wear and Kansas City, The Gingerbread Man (a blatantly commercial effort) isn't likely to appease those questing for the next Altman masterpiece.

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Daytrippers

Daytrippers
Pity poor Eliza (Hope Davis). On the surface, her family seems normal. She lives with her husband, Luis (Stanley Tucci), in a nice, Long Island home only a short distance from her parents' house. Under that roof are her mom, Rita (Anne Meara), dad, Jim (Pat McNamara), sister, Jo (Parker Posey), and her sister's SO, Carl (Liev Schreiber). When Eliza discovers incriminating evidence indicating that Luis could be cheating on her, she is bundled into the car by the rest of her family for a sleuthing day trip to New York City. By the time night falls, Eliza will probably wish she had stayed in bed.

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Men in Black

Men in Black
Have you ever seen a tabloid headline like this: "Woman gives birth to son of six-headed alien"? Men in Black, the new science fiction comedy from cinematographer-turned-director Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty), postulates that such stories are not the result of fertile imaginations, but accurate representations of the truth. You see, ever since the 1960s, Earth has become an intergalactic hideout for aliens in need of a place to lie low for a while. Currently, there are over 1500 visitors, most in New York City (based on personal experience, that number may be low), and their ranks include such high-profile names as Sylvester Stallone (he obviously had trouble mastering the language), Newt Gengrich (guess what he looks like in his natural form), and Dennis Rodman (who knew?).

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Crash
It has been called brave, rousing, and shocking. At the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, where it received its world premiere, it was both hailed and booed, and received a special jury prize for "originality, daring, and audacity." Ted Turner, who owns Fine Line Features, labeled it "really weird." Britain's Evening Standard called it "beyond the bounds of depravity." Yet for all the opinions floating around about how ground-breaking and controversial Crash is, I found it to be something of a letdown.

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Jeepers Creepers II

Jeepers Creepers II
The story begins 4 days after the events of the first film, the 22nd day of the Creeper's 23 day cycle. A farmer, Jack Taggart, Sr. (Ray Wise) is trying to put up fence poles while his son, Jack Jr. (Luke Edwards) is working on the car. While his brother and father are busy, Billy Taggert (Shaun Fleming), sets up scarecrows through the farm's cornfield. One of the scarecrows in the field suddenly moves its head. Billy goes to look at it and sees it has talons on its feet. Scared that a psycho must have come to their farm, Billy runs to get his brother. However, the "scarecrow" comes to life and pounces on Billy. Both Jacks hear Billy's screams and carry a rifle out into the field to find the attacker. They chase after Billy and his captor until the "scarecrow" sprouts wings and disappears into the sky with Billy, leaving Billy's family horrified and stunned.

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The Lena Baker Story

The Lena Baker Story
A chronicle of the life of Lena Baker, the first woman to be sent to the electric chair in Georgia for the murder of her employer, who forced her into sexual slavery.

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Turner & Hooch

Turner & Hooch
Scott Turner has 3 days left in the local police department before he moves to a bigger city to get some real cases, not just misdemeanors. Then Amos Reed is murdered, and Scott Turner sets himself on the case. The closest thing to a witness in the case is Amos Reeds dog, Hooch, which Scott Turner has to take care of if its going to avoid being put to sleep.

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Knight and Day

Knight and Day
Knight and Day has action by the boatload, cheeky wit, unexpected double-crossing, sexual tension, and the blinding smile of its star, Tom Cruise. In short, what more could you ask of a rollicking good-time movie?

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Mistress Frankenstein

Mistress Frankenstein
Helena Frankenstein has been basically ignored by her husband, the Baron, whos been too busy with his monster (and I mean the creature hes brought back from the dead). But Helena isnt taking this lying downwell, ok she isshes been cheating with the stable boy who has been tending to the Barons horse. But the Baron needs glue for his project and has the horse killed which messes up the plans of Helena and her lover. In an effort to distract Helena, the stable boy tries to pretend to be the horse and carry Helena around, but this act of tomfoolery only results in Helenas death. Now the love the Baron has for his wife will come to the surface and he decides to bring his wife back to life, at any costeven if that means using the brains of a lesbian nymphomaniac. With a new brain, it is Helena that will ignore her husband as she tries to mate with every woman she encounters. Soon the entire town will erupt because Helena will give new meaning to the phrase Wham, Bam, thank you Maam leaving jilted women sexed-out and dying.

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Moon 44

Moon 44
Year 2038 The mineral resources of the earth are drained, in space there are fights for the last deposits on other planets and satellites. This is the situation when one of the bigger mining corporations has lost all but one mineral moons and many of their fully automatic mining robots are disappearing on their flight home. Since nobody else wants the job, they send prisoners to defend the mining station. Among them undercover agent Stone, who shall clear the whereabouts of the expensive robots. In an atmosphere of corruption, fear and hatred he gets between the fronts of rivaling groups.

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