The Scorpion King ably rehashes the plots of the variety of other, better films including Gladiator, the Indiana Jones series, Flash Gordon, Beastmaster, and even The Goonies. Set 5,000 years ago, a warlord named Memnon (Steven Brand), acting on crazed Napoleonic urges, ravages the land and bends its people into totalitarian rule. With the aid of a seer who foretells the future, Memnon stands invincible against all aggressors.
Continue reading: The Scorpion King Review
At a quiet monastery on a vineyard, Brother Anselm (M.E. Hackett) claims to have witnessed a true miracle. He purports to have seen the angel Gabriel himself descend to Earth and initiate a sort of "connection" with Anselm, one that Disney smartly keeps vague. There's further confusion in that Disney actually shows us the encounter, a strangely homoerotic visual that might have worked well in a dream sequence in the Village People's Can't Stop the Music. Toss in the Brother's androgynous look, and Blessed Art Thou is an exciting little mystery right from act one.
Continue reading: Blessed Art Thou (A Question Of Faith) Review
Call it a premature yet promising start to the summer action season. Somehow "The Scorpion King" -- a movie starring a professional wrestler and spun off from a shameful sequel -- has become the most enjoyably, unapologetically jumbo-sized popcorn flick since 1999's remake of "The Mummy," this picture's indirect ascendant.
While "The Scorpion King" aims for a considerably lower brow, it's a vast improvement on its idiotic immediate predecessor. In "The Mummy Returns," WWF wrestler The Rock had a bit part as the movie's second resurrected bad guy, an ancient Akkadian king who sold his soul to a "dark god" in order to win a war. "The Scorpion King" is that character's backstory, a tongue-in-cheek, "Conan the Barbarian"-like, 3000 B.C. adventure packed with over-the-top action and intentionally cheesy catch-phrase dialogue.
The Rock plays Mathayus, a sinewy assassin hired by the assembled remnants of several defeated tribes to kill the sorcerer who serves a powerful tyrant king that decimate their lands and peoples. Without supernatural guidance, the inexplicably interracial tribes (led by colossal Michael Clarke Duncan, "The Green Mile") believe they can defeat the ruthless, psychopathic Memnon (Steven Brand) and his silly mohawk-flattop hair-do.
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Unless you're a "Lord of the Rings" superfan, you'd better brush up on "Fellowship of the Ring" before seeing the sequel "The Two Towers," because director Peter Jackson just jumps right in to the middle of the story without much in the way of introductions or explanations.
He assumes you know who Hobbits Merry and Pippin are and why they've been abducted by the Uruk-Hai, the beastly minions of unseen supernatural villain Sauron (you know all about them, right?). He assumes you recall where "Fellowship" left off with human warrior Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Elfin archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and why they're trying to rescue Merry and Pippin.
He also assumes you know that hero Hobbits Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Austin) are still trying to reach the kingdom of Mordor, where they are to cast the dangerously omnipotent Ring into the volcanic fires of Mount Doom, thus keeping it out of the hands Sauron, who would use its dark psychic powers to lay waste to the world.
Continue reading: Lord Of The Rings:
the Two Towers Review
By the time hobbit hero Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) finally -- finally! -- struggles to the top of Mount Doom, where at the climax of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" he must cast into its volcanic fires the malevolently omnipotent Ring that has been slowly consuming his psyche for three movies now, many of the nit-picky things that have gotten on my nerves throughout all the "Lord of the Rings" flicks had come to a head.
So many times now has Frodo's whiney, obsequious traveling companion Samwise Gamgee (Sean Austin) begun boo-hoo-hooing that I started rooting for him to be chucked into the lava along with the jewelry. One too many times has a lucky coincidence saved our hero, as when in this picture he's captured by the demonic, bad-tempered Orcs, only to be rescued moments later when his two guards -- the only two guards in an entire tower it seems -- are conveniently distracted by fighting with each other.
And once too often has director Peter Jackson assumed that the previous installments will be fresh in minds of the audience. That's a pretty safe bet for his fan base, but for the unobsessed, "Return of the King" -- like "The Two Towers" before it -- has many what-did-I-miss? moments. For example, in one of two climactic battle scenes, a never-identified army of fearsome face-painted foes riding atop gigantic elephants appears on the flank of the protagonists' battalion, prompting the question, "Who the heck are these guys?" (Apparently they were in the second movie too, but pardon me for not having seen it since last year.)
Continue reading: The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King Review
If only screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez had put as much effort into story logic and credible characters as director Mathieu Kassovitz puts into generating seat-grabbing goosebumps in "Gothika," the wannabe-cerebral supernatural horror thriller might have had more going for it than just a few good shudders and jumps.
The first above-the-title starring vehicle for 2002 Oscar winner Halle Berry -- playing a criminal psychologist who blacks out after a car accident and wakes up in her own prison asylum, accused of axe-murdering her husband -- the film begins with a strike against it for its laughable attempts at evocative dialogue in the opening-scene rantings of a wild-eyed inmate (Penelope Cruz).
"He opened me like a flower of pain...and it felt goooood," the pretty Spaniard flares, all dowdied-down in Serious Actress Mode. "(Then) I cut his Adam's apple in half like a soft fruit on a summer day."
Continue reading: Gothika Review
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