If I See A Movie Before You : The Review Will Be Here.

6.5/10 STARS

Wow that was a big explosion! Hey what are your names again?

What is it with Wolfgang Petersen and water? The director has given us such ocean-based movies as Das Boot and The Perfect Storm. Now Petersen caps off his soaking-wet trilogy with Poseidon. Poseidon is a big budget remake of the 1972 Irwin Allen disaster flick The Poseidon Adventure. The story is simple. A massive cruise ship capsizes after being hit by a rogue wave and a rag-tag group of survivors must fight to escape from the overturned ship. Like all good disaster movies, Poseidon sticks to the genre conventions - cookie cutter characters, panicky idiots, little or no plot development and as much action as possible. Poseidon certainly doesn't let down in the action department, but it's hard to care about characters you hardly know.

Poseidon will most likely be a breakthrough role for Josh Lucas. Lucas plays a professional gambler traveling on the cruise ship Poseidon, trying to hustle rich people out of their money through high stakes poker. That's all you really know about the character, and then the wave hits. It's not much, but Lucas gives a good performance, the first of many for him, I'm sure. Poseidon is also a second wind of sorts for Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss. Both actors have not starred in Hollywood blockbusters for several decades. They both do well with what they're given. Kurt Russell plays the heroic former firefighter and leader of the survivors. Richard Dreyfuss plays a suicidal man who finds a reason to live in helping the other survivors escape. Again, that is about as much character information as you get from the movie. Lastly, I would be loath to forget the lovely Emmy Rossum, who plays Kurt Russell's daughter in the film. She played Jake Gyllenhaal's love interest in The Day After Tomorrow, so she's no stranger to the disaster movie genre. I'd be lying if I said her cleavage in the film didn't provide a pleasant distraction from all the death and drowning.

The effects and action sequences are top notch. (I would expect no less from a movie budgeted at a rumoured $140 million dollars!) When the rogue wave capsizes the ship, it has to be one of the more impressive effects sequences ever put on film. There is really nothing to complain about in respect to the action - it's the character development that falls flat in Poseidon. If you don't know anything about a character beyond the obvious, you're not likely to care when they meet their untimely demise. Main characters drop like flies in Poseidon, and I found myself unmoved by their always gruesome fates. That being said, you're not going to see Poseidon for deep plot and character development - you're there to see a cruise ship capsize and the survivors deal with the aftermath.

If you enjoyed such original Irwin Allen disaster movies as The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno then you'll love Wolfgang Petersen's Poseidon. If you also enjoy destruction and mayhem on a cruise ship wide scale, you'll like what this movie has to offer. Petersen puts his band of survivors through hell, and it's all for your entertainment. Poseidon is most definitely an entertaining movie. Just don't expect subtle character development and an exacting plot - just a lot of water and explosions.

- Will

The Skeleton Key
4/10 STARS

Kate Hudson doesn't scare me.

The Skeleton Key is yet another film in a long line of sub par horror/thriller films we've seen in the past few years. Kate Hudson stars as Caroline, a disenchanted New Orleans hospice worker. Looking for a change of pace, Caroline takes a job at a rural Louisiana estate caring for Ben Devereaux (John Hurt). Ben has been left totally paralyzed and unable to speak after an apparent stroke. Ben's wife Violet (Gena Rowlands) is a shrewd, old fashioned southern woman, who is suspicious of Caroline right from the get go. Violet gives Caroline a skeleton key that will open almost every door in the stately Louisiana home, except one. When Caroline is not caring for Ben she spends most of her time exploring the massive house, and in the attic she discovers one door her key won't open. After forcing her way into the mysterious room, she is shocked to discover bones, spell books, and other instruments for practicing Hoodoo. Hoodoo is a mysterious southern art used for protection and healing. Caroline questions Violet about the room, and learns that it belonged to the servants of the previous owners of the home. The servants, Papa Justify(Ronald McCall) and Mama Cecile(Jeryl Prescott) were brutally lynched and killed in the 1920's when it was discovered they were practicing Hoodoo. Sensing that the dead servants, the mysterious room in the attic and Ben's condition are somehow related Caroline sets out to unlock the mysteries the house holds.

Considering the acting talent in this movie, the film is a big let down. John Hurt is an excellent actor and does good work here, but Peter Sarsgaard who is also an excellent actor, feels very under used in this movie. To me The Skeleton Key was just a lot of wasted potential. It had an interesting enough premise, but just failed to deliver in nearly every way. Rather than trying something new, the movie sticks to formula, predictable plot devices and scare moments can be seen coming a mile away. Of course the movie wouldn't be a formula thriller if it did not have an amazing twist at the ending, and it naturally it does have a twist. However, when the so -called twist was finally revealed there was a tangible feeling of disappointment in the theatre. The movie desperately wants to be better than it is, and it shows.

What struck me as odd was that Kate Hudson's character became instantly suspicious about the house. She's supposed to be a college drop-out and yet she acts more like a private investigator in the movie. Perhaps the only redeeming factor of The Skeleton Key is that Kate is scantily clad in nearly every scene she's in, running around the house in her underwear, randomly taking showers and the like. I'm not complaining, but it struck me as a little gratuitous at times. I wanted the movie to be good, I really did... But it was so bland and predictable that I couldn't enjoy it. For example, in one scene Caroline stops at run down gas station on her way to the mansion and you just knew that some jittery local was going to come out and warn her about that haunted Devereaux place. I found myself able to tell exactly what was going to happen next. A good movie in this genre should keep you guessing, and The Skeleton Key keeps no secrets from the audience.

Have you seen a horror/thriller movie in the past 5 years? If the answer is yes, then you've already seen The Skeleton Key, nothing new to see here. In fact you've seen it done better in movies like The Sixth Sense and The Gift. I didn't know what to expect from this movie, but having seen it I can say I was soundly underwhelmed.

- Will

9/10 STARS

Hungarian Nimrod Antal's moody thriller Kontroll.

When one thinks of countries that produce good films, Hungary does not often come to mind. The surreal film Kontroll from first time director Nimrod Antal aims to change that perception. Kontroll centres on a rag-tag group of ticket inspectors (kontroll agents) who work under less than ideal conditions in the Budapest subway system. One of these inspectors, a downtrodden young man named Bulcsu (Sandor Csanyi) is homeless and spends 24 hours a day underground, living and working in the subway system. The job of kontroll agent is not an easy one, Bulcsu and his fellow inspectors have to put up with angry superiors, violent hooligans, clueless tourists and rival ticket inspection teams on a daily basis. Through a series of chance encounters, Bulcsu befriends a beautiful young woman Szofi (Eszter Balla), who for whatever reason always wears a giant bear suit while riding the subway. At night, Bulcsu wanders the tunnels and furthest depths of the underground, all the while he is plagued by an ever present shadowy figure, who may or may not be a figment of his imagination. The depression and confusion associated with working and living underground is beginning to take its toll on Bulcsu, he hasn't seen the light of day in months and begins to question the course his life has taken. Things take a turn for the worse after a series of deaths caused by a pusher, Bulcsu is the prime suspect. Immediately, Bulcsu begins to suspect that the shadowy figure who has been stalking him is behind the murders. Bulcsú now has a purpose in life, with the help of Szofi and his fellow kontroll agents he sets out to catch the shadow in the act, and in the process clear his name.

If only all first time directors could be as lucky as Nimrod Antal. Kontroll works so well, in so many ways. The story has a darker tone, but there is definitely a lot of laughs in this movie. The supporting cast is stellar, and work so well you'd swear they really were kontroll agents. As for the two lead characters Bulcsu and Szofi, Sandor Csanyi and Eszter Balla have an on screen chemistry that is very difficult to capture on film, but Antal gets it. Perhaps the strongest character in the film is the location. Shot on location in the Budapest subway system, the tunnels and stations have a life of their own. Antal seems to have found some of the most eerie and crazy underground locales ever put on film. The cinematography was amazing, it helped capture the dreary, vastness of the underground. Also, the soundtrack was very cool and it suits the tone of the film perfectly. One sequence of the film stood out in my mind, the rail run. Bulcsu and a rival inspector attempt to race one another on foot between two subway stations, this bit will have you on the edge of your seats.

My only real qualm with the film was that some of the more abstract elements were not explained as well as they could have been. Nimrod Antal said he did this on purpose to leave things open for interpretation, but sometimes I want a director to tell me what he's really trying to get at. Other than that some people may take issue with the fact that the movie is subtitled, but I don't think I would have liked the movie as much if the voices had been dubbed.

Kontroll is the kind of movie destined for cult status. The movie is dark, moody, serious and funny all at the same time. It is definitely not a movie for everybody. But if you're in the mood for something different this weekend check out Kontroll. You will be in store for a unique film experience, guaranteed.

- Will

6.5/10 STARS

John Constantine(Keanu Reeves) goes to Hell and back in Constantine.

First time movie director Francis Lawrence brings us Constantine. Keanu Reeves stars as the titular John Constantine, a supernatural private eye of sorts on a mission to rid the world of evil and save his soul from the powers of Hell. Based off of the DC/Vertigo comic book Hellblazer, Constantine is set in a world where the forces of Heaven and Hell battle for control of humanity. John Constantine and a select few are the only ones aware of this eternal struggle, and do what they can to keep things in balance. While investigating the mysterious death of her sister, a chance meeting between Detective Angela Dawson (Rachel Weisz) and Constantine starts a mysterious chain of events that threatens to tip the balance in Hell's favour. Stricken with lung cancer, and walking the thin line between good and evil, John Constantine must redeem himself in the eyes of Heaven, or spend an eternity in Hell.

I was very happy to see Keanu Reeves playing an anti-hero. Too often he plays the "Who? What? Why?" protagonist, always guessing and never quite knowing what he's doing. But in Constantine, the character has been around the block, he doesn't like what he does for a living, but he knows it has to be done. Reeves gave a very strong performance as John Constantine, a chain smoking, cancer ridden, loner who has a bone to pick with Lucifer. The bright spot of the movie has to be Rachel Weisz. She plays the newcomer to this strange, hidden battle of good versus evil, the audience is with her character every step of the way, never knowing what to expect next from this unique story.

I also liked Constantine for what it tried to be. A concept like this has a lot of potential, and there were many cool scenes... But it just never seemed to deliver. The movie just failed to convert on the many opportunities for coolness it was afforded by the comic book. The hidden underworld of Angels and Demons was under used, and Hell as a setting was over used, you barely even catch a glimpse of Heaven. The scenes in Hell were horrific at first, but it kept coming into play throughout the movie, After a while you just said to yourself, "Oh... We're back here again are we?." There are other sporadic problems with the movie. The dialogue is mumbling at times, and some of the scenes made little sense. Perhaps this was intentional, but I like to have some idea what is going on by the time the climax rolls around.

Constantine is an entertaining movie. You can't hold it against the movie for trying too hard. The things that work in the film work very well, and those that don't, fall flat but don't weigh too heavily on the rest of the movie. Fans of the comic book will have many qualms with the movie version, but given that John Constantine is not the most well known comic book character, it won't matter to most. The hardcore fans can rest easy knowing that nobody else really cares that Keanu Reeves isn't a wise cracking, blonde, haired Briton, as the character was portrayed in the comics. This isn't The English Patient, but the movie is good entertainment and a lot of fun.

Now I must be away. If I die, you know what to do... It involves dynamite and a lot of patience.

- Will

Hotel Rwanda
9.5/10 STARS

Don Cheadle is Paul Rusesabagina, hotel manager and hero.

Director Terry George brings the brutality of the oft forgotten Rwandan Genocide to the screen in Hotel Rwanda. The film is the very personal story of a man and his family, set against the horrors of an ethnic civil war. Don Cheadle gives a stunning performance as Paul Rusesabagina. Paul is manager of the Hotel Des Milles Collines in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda at the outset of the genocide. With the country descending into chaos, Paul must use his position of authority to safe guard his family and protect the hundreds of refugees now occupying the hotel. The United Nations peace keeping force in Rwanda, lead by Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte) do what they can to help Rusesabagina. Colonel Oliver's hands are tied though, limited by resources, man power, and mired in UN bureaucracy the peace keeping force can do little more than watch the unfolding humanitarian crisis. As the world turns it's back on Rwanda, Paul must act quickly and pull in every favour he has if he and his family are to survive the coming genocide.

The story of Hotel Rwanda had to be told sooner or later. The world literally turned a blind eye to the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 that saw the slaughter of nearly one million people at the hands of machete wielding gangs. Director Terry George gives a documentary feel to the movie, and without it the film may not have worked as well. As for the actors, I really can't speak highly enough of Don Cheadle's performance in this film, he was amazingly believable and should look forward to an Oscar nomination. Nick Nolte's performance varied throughout the movie. His wheezing, muttering performance may have been what the director was looking for or it could have just been Nick Nolte being himself. Surprisingly the film is not as outwardly violent as one would expect in a movie about a genocide. There are a few violent parts, but much of the horror of the genocide is merely alluded to. Hotel Rwanda is able to tell the horrific story of the genocide without getting into gruesome detail.

The movie takes some liberties with names, chronology and events, but in order for the film to work these are necessary changes. Nolte's Colonel Oliver is basically an amalgam of all the top UN military personnel, whereas Cheadle's character is a real person. These minor details won't concern anyone who isn't already familiar with Rwandan Genocide. The personal survival stories like this are incredible, but I would have liked to have seen more of the UN peacekeepers angle on the tragedy. Joaquin Phoenix is in the movie too... For about 5 minutes. His role as a generic news agency cameraman feels almost pointless, like they had to add another big name to add to the marketability of the film.

Hotel Rwanda is one of this year's best movies. It's by no means the feel good movie of the year, but it's very powerful film. Don Cheadle gives the performance of his career and shows what an underrated actor he really is, Hollywood take notice. The world ignored Rwanda in 1994, it's time to pay attention and hear their story. See this movie.

- Will

The Phantom of the Opera
7/10 STARS

"Hideous freak behind you Christine!"

Film musicals have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, the success of 2002's Chicago is largely responsible for the renewed interest in the genre. The Phantom of the Opera is director Joel Schumacher's adaptation of Andrew Llyod Webber's hugely successful stage production of the same name. In this classic tale, the Paris Opera House is being haunted by a disfigured, musical genius known only as the Phantom(Gerard Butler). Christine Daae(Emmy Rossum) is a young chorus girl at the Opera House, who has been learning to sing under the tutelage of the Phantom. He secretly loves Christine, but his disfigurement prevents him from revealing himself to her. Much to the chagrin of the Phantom, the Opera's patron Raoul begins making romantic overtures towards Christine. The Phantom begins terrorizing the Opera House demanding that Christine be given bigger and bigger roles in the opera productions. When the Opera house does not concede to his demands, the Phantom steals Christine away to his lair in the sewers beneath the Opera House, with Raoul in hot pursuit.

I can only recommend The Phantom of the Opera to fans of the original musical, or fans of musicals in general. That being said the film is excellent at what it is. It retains all of the music and spectacle of the original stage production, while adding all the bells and whistles that a movie adaptation entails. The film is beautiful to look at, and it was obvious that a lot of care and effort went into the production. The chandelier scene alone is worth the price of admission. Performance-wise most of the cast was great. Emmy Rossum, (Who apparently can sing.) is beautiful as Christine, and shines in the role. The stand out performance was given by Gerard Butler as the Phantom. While his singing voice is not ideal for the role, Butler gives a great all-around performance, as a tortured genius who just wants to be loved.

The film is long, nearly two and a half hours. Though it has excellent pacing in certain scenes, it really dragged in parts. It is a difficult task adapting a musical for the big screen, there are some things that work on stage, that don't necessarily work all that well on film, in particular the sewer scenes, and the phantom's lair. The singing seemed to begin very randomly in parts, and actually felt out of place in a few scenes. The cast overall was fairly solid, but there were a few wooden performances. Schumacher seems swept up in the vision of the film, but does not pay enough attention to the end result.

I'm no fan of musicals, but The Phantom of the Opera is an exception for me. The choice of director had me worried at first. I honestly didn't know what to expect from this movie, but Joel "I Ruined Batman" Schumacher came through this time. The Phantom of the Opera is quite enjoyable and incredibly well presented. However the length of the film, combined with the fact that it is a musical will limit it's appeal.

- Will

8/10 STARS

"Come on Hans, You're breaking my balls Hans!"

The creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker bring us Team America : World Police, a political knock out blow featuring an all marionette cast.  Team America is an all American police force dedicated to ridding the world of terrorism... No matter the cost.  As soon as the explosive credits end we find ourselves in Paris.  A group of terrorists has a weapon of mass destruction and is planning to destroy the city.  After an extended action sequence featuring a puppet fist fight and the destruction of numerous Paris landmarks, Team America is victorious and the terrorists have been stopped.  However, an even greater threat is growing.  Soon after, the team enlists the help of actor Gary Johnston.  Gary is a rising Broadway star, and the team needs an actor good enough to infiltrate the terrorists stronghold in Cairo.  He performs his role flawlessly and uncovers the terrorists sinister plan.  North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has been supplying the terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. With the help of left wing Hollywood stars and Michael Moore, the diminutive dictator is hell bent on destroying the world and with it Team America.  With the fate of the planet hanging in the balance, it will be up to Gary to save the day.

Team America is definitely not for everyone.  If you're a fan of South Park, then this movie will be right up your alley.  Much like South Park : Bigger, Longer and Uncut , Stone and Parker up the ante in their never ending quest to skirt the line of good taste.  From the opening ballad "AMERICA! F$*# YEAH!" to the numerous slow motion puppet deaths, the film is a riot.  I've never seen such graphic portrayals of puppet sex or violence in a movie, and probably never will again.  I was amazed at how well the puppets worked in the film.  With all the technology available, hyper-realistic puppets could have been used.  However, Parker and Stone wanted to go for the classic "Thunderbirds" look, and no effort has been made to hide the strings and wires used to move the marionettes.  You are consciously aware that you are watching a puppet movie throughout, and it makes the film even funnier.

The movie doesn't disappoint for the most part.  There are a few weak jokes here and there, but for the most part every funny bit is dead on.  People may be offended by the broad generalizations and stereotypes in the film, if you're looking for a fair and balanced opinion of the world, you're in the wrong movie.  The movie pulls no punches, taking shots at everything from the Kim Jong Il's insane loneliness, to Michael Moore's weight problem.  Also, much of the dialogue is ripped right out of Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay movies.  When the lines are recited by puppets you really see how bad some of the dialogue in those blockbusters really is.

If you object to gratuitous puppet sex, acts of puppet on puppet violence, swearing puppets, drunken puppets or North Korean dictators singing show tunes... Team America is not for you.  But if any of this piques your interest... Go see Team America, and have a good laugh while you're at it.  The movie will offend you, disgust you and shock you, but you'll love it all the same.

- Will

6/10 STARS

Alright... I'll watch your movie... But only if you put the gun down.

Milla Jovovich returns as Alice in Resident Evil : Apocalypse, sequel to the surprisingly successful Resident Evil. Both films have been adapted from the popular Capcom video game series of the same name. Apocalypse starts off right where the first film ended, having survived the Raccoon Forest incident Alice finds herself in downtown Raccoon City, now seemingly devoid of anything living. There are plenty of zombies roaming the streets though. As it turns out the mega-conglomerate Umbrella Corporation accidentally unleashed the T-Virus on the unsuspecting citizens of Raccoon City. The T-Virus is a bio-weapon, it re-animates dead cells; which invariable results in hordes of zombies. What would a zombie movie be without a rag-tag band of heavily armed survivors? Not much of a zombie movie. A mysterious Umbrella scientist, Dr Ashford (Jared Harris) enlists the help of the survivors in an effort to find his young daughter. Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) a beautiful and hard-as-nails cop. Carlos Olivera an abandoned Umbrella mercenary. Terri Morales (Sandrine Holt) a TV weather reporter, and L.J. (Mike Epps) a wise-cracking criminal. Alice and company fight off wave after wave of zombies throughout the city in their search for Dr. Ashford's daughter. All the while the group is being stalked by Umbrella's ultimate bio-weapon: Nemesis, a hulking, mutant behemoth armed with a minigun and rocket launcher. Things get interesting to say the least.

Resident Evil : Apocalypse is better than it's predecessor, but that isn't really saying much. The film is more akin to the Capcom video games, which fans of the series will appreciate. The movie doesn't revolutionize the zombie-movie genre by any means, but it's still a fun ride. I did actually find myself caring about what happened to some of the characters, because for the most part they were generally likeable. Milla Jovovich, having played Alice twice now, really knows her character and does a good job with the role. Mike Epps as L.J., the film's comic relief will have you laughing throughout. The movie doesn't take itself too seriously, so you can laugh at many of the ridiculous and implausible situations the characters find themselves in. This is a zombie movie after all, you're going to have to suspend your disbelief right from the get-go.

Almost all of the movie takes place at night, this can make it difficult to make out exactly what's going on in some scenes. This problem was especially present in the fight scenes. The shaky cameras combined with the blindingly fast martial arts (Yes, karate works on zombies) make it hard enough to tell friend from foe, and the darkness just compounds the problem. The script was written by Paul W.S. Anderson, director of the first Resident Evil, and it's actually pretty good for what it is. Anderson was busy directing Alien vs Predator, so this time the directorial reigns go to Alexander Witt. Witt succeeds with Apocalypse, where the first one failed... Actually making you care to a certain degree. The characters had some time to develop, instead of becoming zombie fodder instantly. No effort was made to disguise the city of Toronto where the film was shot, the cities famous landmark the CN Tower is seen in 2 scenes but never shown again in distant shots of the city. Toronto's City Hall also stood in for Raccoon City Hall. Toronto is the sixth largest city in North America, give people some credit.

If you liked the first film, or you're a fan of the games you'll enjoy this movie. If you didn't see the first one you'll probably be at a loss, though it's not too hard to follow, just a typical zombie flick. Didn't like the first one? Don't see the sequel, it's more of the same. Resident Evil : Apocalypse is a fun zombie movie, that doesn't take itself too seriously. You're in for a good time if you go in with low expectations.

- Will

9/10 STARS

Tom Cruise is Vincent. A ruthless hitman in Collateral.

In Collateral Jamie Foxx plays Max, a veteran Los Angeles cabbie. Max is very good at what he does. He knows LA like the back of his hand, and will get you where you need to go on time. It's a normal enough day, Max starts his shift and picks up his first customer of the night, Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith). Annie is an attorney working on a huge case, she's obviously in need of a break though, and Max provides some respite with an enjoyable conversation. Intrigued by Max, she leaves him her business card hoping to continue their conversation in the future. No sooner does he drop of Annie when his next customer jumps in the taxi. Vincent (Tom Cruise) is in real estate, just in Los Angeles for the night, closing a big deal... Or so he says. He asks Max if he can hire the cab for the night. Max normally doesn't hire out the taxi, but Vincent only has five stops to make, so the six hundred dollars he gives him is all the convincing Max needs. Soon enough they arrive at their first stop, Vincent goes up to an apartment while Max waits for him in the alley behind the building. Max is minding his own business, eating a sandwich when out of nowhere the body of a man crashes onto the roof of his cab. Vincent returns to find Max in a state of panic, and it's soon revealed that Vincent killed the man that fell on the cab. Apparently Vincent is not in real estate, he is in actuality an ex-special forces, hired assassin. Vincent has four more stops to make and Max is now his hostage. It's going to be a long night.

Collateral is director Michael Mann in top form. I was drawn in to this film right from the get-go. The film is intense at times, funny other times, and brutally violent throughout. That's not to say the film is a pure action piece, far from it. There are many action sequences but some of the films best moments are just Cruise and Foxx talking in the cab, both of whom are excellent in the film. For once in a film starring Tom Cruise I didn't look at his character and say "Oh it's Tom Cruise playing a character.", I looked and I saw Vincent, a cold-blooded, charismatic hit-man. This is one of the strongest performances I've seen Cruise give. Jamie Foxx is no slouch in the film either. As was the case with Cruise, Foxx's performance convinced me he was the character, Max the ordinary cab driver put in extraordinary circumstances. Based on his strong performance in Collateral I look forward to seeing Jamie Foxx portray Ray Charles in his next film. Mark Ruffalo who plays the detective tracking the mysterious trail of murders is very good as well. The part was originally intended for Val Kilmer, and I would be curious to see what the film would have been like with him instead, but Ruffalo makes it work. As with all of Mann's films, the criminals and the police are not bumbling amateurs. They are all professional people who are good at what they do, and the actors in Collateral do a great job making you aware of this fact.

Ever present in Collateral is Michael Mann's signature visual flare. Shot on digital video cameras, the picture is crisp and clear even in the darkest scenes. What I really liked about the film was the up close and personal feeling it had. The audience will feel like they're right there riding in the cab with Max and Vincent. The DV cameras, and particularly Mann's shooting style give it that feel. In the tradition of previous Mann ventures like Thief and Miami Vice, Collateral has that dark streets/bright lights mood to it. The ever present glow of lights in LA give the film a really gritty atmosphere. One of the standout scenes in the film takes place in an Asian trance music club. The tension building up to the scene is palpable, and once the action begins you'll be on the edge of your seat. The chaos and confusion caused by this shoot out in the club make you feel like you are there, not knowing what's going to happen next. My only real qualm with the film are some of the soundtrack choices. The music is great for the most part, as you would expect from the man that brought us Miami Vice, but suddenly in the middle of the film the band Creed breaks in and totally takes you out of the scene. Maybe it was just me, I'm not a big fan of Creed.

If you want a taught, well made action-thriller, Collateral is definitely the movie to see. It's well acted and executed. The two leads in the film give the performances of their careers thus far, that alone makes the film worth seeing. It is a bit on the violent side, and not cartoony, funny violence. It's brutal, no holds barred, bone breaking violence. The violence does make sense in the context of the story though, and is not gratuitous at all. Will Cruise finally get his Oscar for this role? Maybe. He's very likely to be nominated for it. Collateral is a smart, entertaining movie and there should be nothing stopping you from seeing it.

- Will

6.5/10 STARS

Boy band gone wrong?
Boy band rejects? Nope, International Rescue.

Thunderbirds are GO! Bill Paxton and Ben Kingsley star in Jonathan Frakes' update of the classic 1960's Supermarionation TV series. Jeff Tracy (Paxton) is a billionaire, retired astronaut and the leader of International Rescue. From their secret island in the south Pacific, Tracy and his four sons are ready to respond to disasters anywhere in the world at any time, thanks to their incredible vehicles - The Thunderbirds! Straight off their latest mission, the Tracy's head home for some well needed rest. Joining them is the fifth Tracy son, Alan (Brady Corbet). As the youngest Tracy, he's constantly living in the shadow of his father and older brothers. He only wants to help out, but his father refuses to let him participate until he finishes school.

We're soon introduced to all the characters at International Rescue. Brains (Anthony Edwards) the resident genius and social reject. His son Fermat (Soren Fulton), seemingly a clone of his father. The groundskeeper, his wife and daughter Tintin. And of course no Thunderbirds movie would be complete without Lady Penelope (Sophia Myles) and her faithful chauffeur Parker (Ron Cook). All is not as peaceful as it seems though. A mysterious submarine, captained by telekinetic genius The Hood (Ben Kingsley) and his band of British cronies, has been spying on International Rescue, and they've discovered the location of their secret island. The Hood wastes little time putting his sinister plan into action. Using a missile to cripple Thunderbird 5, he forces the Tracy clan to embark on an ill-fated rescue attempt to the space station. Seizing control of the island in their absence, The Hood ends up stranding the members of International Rescue on the damaged Thunderbird 5. It's now up to Alan Tracy, Fermat and Tintin to rescue the rescuers, with a little help from Brains and Lady Penelope.

The film is good for what it is - a kids movie. Taking a page from Spy Kids, Thunderbirds is yet another outing in the kids-with-cool-gadgets genre. That being said, I had a good time with the film. As a fan of the original series I would have rather seen more of a focus on the adults. I didn't find the three main characters (the kids) to be very interesting characters. However because it's a kids film, it works. All of the kids in attendance seemed to love it. Though most of those kids probably enjoyed Scooby-Doo, so maybe that's not saying much. The cast was good for the most part. Bill Paxton did what he could with a relatively small part as the Tracy family patriarch, but some of his lines seemed a bit forced. Ben Kingsley was very good, as would be expected. He elevates The Hood from cartoonish super-villain, to real life megalomaniac. The gorgeous Sophia Myles is very good as Lady Penelope, and Ron Cook is hilarious as Parker. Myles and Cook steal the show. As for the child actors, they could have been better, no real standout performances from them.

The whole film is an homage to the original series. Numerous in-jokes and allusions to puppets are made through out the film. It also looks very good. It has that colourful not-to-distant future feel, and it really works with this movie. The CGI was amazing. The Thunderbirds all look very impressive, but at the same time realistic. I was glad to see that they stayed true to the original design of the vehicles, rather than reimagining them like most new movies would. From a technical standpoint, it's a very slick film.

Is Thunderbirds worth seeing if you don't have kids? Only if you're a fan of the original series. If you are a fan of the original series you might be disappointed because of the adolescent focus of the film, but everything you loved about the TV series is still there. If you have kids, then this is definitely one to take them to. Thunderbirds has all the flare of the classic series, mixed with some Spy Kids-esque scenarios. The film is meant to be a 'fun-for-all-ages' kind of film, and it succeeds at that.

- Will

2/10 STARS

Can Halle Berry in skin tight leather save Catwoman? No, nothing can.

In "Catwoman", Halle Berry stars as Patience Phillips, a shy and reserved artist working as a graphic designer for the behemoth cosmetics company Hedare. Patience is a meek woman, who seems to always be apologizing to people for her own existence. Her mundane life is in for a change the day she spots a mysterious cat outside her apartment window. Seeing that the cat is stranded, she climbs out onto the ledge to rescue it, instead she herself becomes stranded. Enter Tom Lone(Benjamin Bratt) a clean-cut Police Detective. Thinking Patience is suicidal and about to jump he begins trying to talk her down from the ledge and ends up rescuing her just as she's about to fall. Being the fine upstanding Police Officer he is, Tom is compelled to ask Patience out for coffee. She's unsure at first, but spurred on by her man-starved friend Sally(Alex Borstein), she accepts his offer. Patience is a busy woman though, George Hedare(Lambert Wilson) has put Patience in charge of the ad campaign for Beau-Line, Hedare's breakthrough anti-aging product. George Hedare is not an easy man to work for though, he and his aging supermodel wife Laurel (Sharon Stone) are constantly fighting, and this does not improve his mood towards his employees. Unsatisfied with her previous design for the ad campaign he gives Patience until midnight to come up with a new one or be fired. She manages to come up with a new design, but on her way to delivering it to her boss she overhears a conversation between Laurel and Hedare's top scientist. It turns out Beau-Line has horrible side effects if not used on a regular basis, it's the ultimate must have cosmetic product. Of course, she is discovered while eaves-dropping, and after a short lived chase is killed by Laurel's bodyguards. When her body washes up onto shore, the mysterious cat she tried to rescue on her windowsill reappears and coughs on her. In the process Patience is imbued with all the powers and senses of a cat, and before we know it she's jumping from roof-top to roof-top out for revenge in her S&M Catwoman suit.

Catwoman is frighteningly awful film, I use the term film loosely because this is a mess of a movie. I found my mouth hanging wide open at times due to the sheer idiocy of some of the scenarios put forth by Catwoman. Halle Berry is a good actress, she deserved her Academy Award, but she's not very good in this movie. She obviously had fun playing the part, but it just doesn't work. It's like an inside joke, the people involved are entertained, but everyone else has no idea what's going on. Halle does look very good in her Catsuit, but the novelty of it wares off as soon as you realize that you have to sit in the theater for another hour after that. Benjamin Bratt does an okay job as Patience's love interest, and the detective assigned to track down Catwoman. At times the film feels like a really lame romantic comedy, as Bratt and Berry exchange horrible written dialogue. Did they realize what they were saying? Or was it intended to be horribly written? That will be a mystery for the ages. Sharon Stone hams it up in her role as an evil former supermodel with dreams of world domination through cosmetics products. Perhaps Stone was the only one who realized what a stinker this film was going to be, and decided to have fun with the part. Lambert Wilson plays a pompous bastard so well, as we found out in the last two Matrix films, where he played The Merovingian, not much of a stretch for him here. Perhaps the only, truly good performance in the film is that of Midnight, the mysterious Egyptian Mau cat that imbues Patience with her powers. However, the cat is CGI half the time so perhaps the artists should get the credit.

If only there were some positive aspects to this film, I find myself at a complete loss when I try to think of any redeeming qualities. The frantic pace and editing of all the fight scenes in the film make them nearly impossible to watch or make sense of, you'll literally have no idea what's going on. Also, Catwoman's music is one of it's most annoying elements of the movie. Nearly every scene is punctuated with a lame rhythm and blues score, made all the more ridiculous by the constant Oooh's and Yeah's of some Mariah Carey-esque singer. The special effects would have been good 2 years ago, but they're just not believable. If you've seen Spider-man 2, you don't really notice the effects much, this is due to the seamless transition between CGI Spider-man and Tobey-Maguire-in-a-suit Spider-man. In Catwoman, the transition is anything but seamless. You can tell the instant Catwoman becomes a CGI character, Halle seems to turn into plastic version of herself and then back. The effects will really take you out of the film. You would think the director, Pitof, would have demanded more of the visual effects team considering the he himself has been the Visual Effects Supervisor on more than a dozen films.

Overall, the film was just poorly acted, written, directed and executed. With all these factors working against it, is it even worth seeing? No. Even Halle Berry in skin tight leather can't save this flick. Do yourself a favor and avoid this film, avoid it like the plague. Go see The Bourne Supremacy, I haven't seen it but I know it's a far superior film.

- Will

ANCHORMAN : The Legend of Ron Burgundy
8/10 STARS

News Team 4 at it's finest.

In "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy", Will Ferrell stars as Ron Burgundy, a pompous news anchor at Channel 4 in 1970's San Diego. Burgundy and his Team 4 are legendary party animals and womanizers. Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), field reporter and resident man-whore. Brick Tamland (Steven Carell) weatherman and certified moron. Champ Kind (David Koechner) sports guy and filthy drunk. Channel 4 is #1 in the ratings and Team 4 are veritable kings among men in San Diego. Things run smoothly at Channel 4 thanks to the efforts of Station Manager Ed Harken (Fred Willard) who is more of a father figure to Team 4, than his own troublesome son. All is well at the station until an ambitious newswoman named Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) joins the news team, much to the chagrin of Burgundy and his male colleagues. Burgundy is more interested in pursuing a relationship with Veronica than taking her seriously as a newsperson. Corningstone quickly makes a name for herself, and is soon promoted to Co-Anchor. Ron Burgundy will not be upstaged so he and Team 4 do everything in their sexist, chauvinistic power to embarrass and humiliate Veronica both on and off the air. However, since their combined IQ's are that of a small child, it's a losing fight. Burgundy realizes that maybe he'll need more than his perfectly coiffed hair and the ability to read a teleprompter to upstage Veronica.

Anchorman has to be one of the funniest movies made in the past few years. I was laughing constantly, so hard it brought tears to my eyes several times. Elf proved a Will Ferrell movie could do well, Anchorman will cement his well deserved position as the latest successful former SNL alumni. Ferrell doesn't star as Ron Burgundy, he is Ron Burgundy in this movie. I didn't feel like I was watching Will Ferrell on the screen, I was watching Ron Burgundy. He's playing a literal amalgam of all the cheesy anchormen from yester-year. From the strange random comments Burgundy makes, to the constant ad-libbing, Ferrell is top notch. The rest of the cast is great as well. Paul Rudd, who has yet to have a breakthrough role, really impressed me with his comedy. Also, Steven Carell of Daily Show fame nearly steals the show from Ferrell and the others at times. Much like her character in the movie Christina Applegate proves once again that she's not just another pretty face, she and Will Ferrell's comedic chemistry is what really makes this film work. Main cast aside, the cameos in Anchorman are almost worth the price of admission. The entire "Frat Pack" shows up for a climactic gladitorial battle of the TV News Teams. Tim Robbins and Jack Black also make hilarious appearances.

Imagine the best SNL sketch you've ever seen - Now multiply that by 10 and you have Anchorman. For some this is a good thing, and others... Not so good. Whether you're a fan or not of SNL, you'll like this film. Anchorman is by no means a perfect film, but you'll literally be laughing too hard to care about the very few problems that show up. It has all the camp and capers of a classic Mel Brooks movie, and is just as silly. It is ridiculous at times, it is stupid at times, and confusingly random at times - but it works. It's so silly it works.

If you're in the mood for a good laugh, Anchorman is the perfect movie to see. It doesn't take itself seriously, and neither should you. The director, Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell must have had a blast writing this film, almost as much as they did making it... And it shows. Definitely worth the price of the ticket, and with out a doubt the funniest movie of the year so far.

- Will


Get a real job.

An Exercise in Heavy Metal and Vampire/Lycan Love.

Half the fun of a film festival is the experience. The people you meet, and the good times in line.

The other half of the fun are the films.

Underworld is an example of a fun film. Not bad, Not Great. But entertaining none the less.

Len Wiseman's first directorial effort is a success at what it is. A Romeo and Juliet-esqe tale about a war that has been raging between vampires and werewolves for hundreds of years. Best desribed as a mix of Blade 2 and The Matrix, it has all the makings of good summer entertainment.... but wait it's September, seems like it should have been out a few months ago.

Kate Beckinsale does a bang up job as Selene. A vampire death dealer who's obsessed with wiping out the Lycans(werewolves) who killed her family hundreds of years prior. Scott Speedman is decent as the confused human caught in the middle. He spends most of his time writhing around, he's either tied down, being bitten by someone, or chained to something for most of the movie.

Good god though... Shane Brolly who plays Kraven ... is terrible. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but his acting is pretty mediocre in this film. He sticks out like a sore thumb.

The action scenes are pretty good. Very remincent of The Matrix. Lots of slow-mo, jumping and gunplay.... just not done as well as The Matrix.

Overall I thought it was... okay.

I would give it a 4/10 Stars.

God damn ultra-nerds who stayed for the Q&A... ask a fucking relevant question instead of badgering the director about why the vampires had reflections.

Will "RoninKengo" Perkins


Beat Takeshi is Zatoichi.

I was so psyched to see this movie, I woke up at 8 AM. It was Saturday and this was an unusual occurance for me.

I was going to see Zatoichi at 2:30 PM at the Elgin Theatre in the heart of downtown Toronto. Yes, it would be a good day.

I arrived at the Elgin at 12:15 PM, and was pleased to discover I was the first person in line. For anyone who was there, I was the fly bastard in the Scarface T-shirt and aviators. Several hours of waiting and some poutine later, they opened the doors.

Though I was first in line I still sprinted down the hallways of the Elgin, afraid some usurper fanboy would rob me of my rightful seat. Thankfully this did not happen, and I wasn't forced to drop kick anyone off the balcony. Front row centre on the balcony, perfect view, truly the best seats in the house.

After a short introduction, and a word from our sponsors the film began.

I don't want to give you a plot synopsis, instead I'll outline some of the reasons you should see this flick.

If you are a fan of Japanese cinema, samurai flicks, the original Zatoichi or Takeshi Kitano ... it is your duty to see this movie. I went to see it with two guys (Craig and Chris) who'd never seen a Kitano film, and little... if any Japanese cinema... and they were floored by the movie.

The action scenes are some of the coolest sword fights EVER put on film. Remember to bring water because your jaw will be on the floor during every fight scene. That's the only way they can be described JAW DROPPING.

The swordplay is lightning fast, bloody as hell and incredible to behold. You really get to see what a sword is capable of in the hands of a master like Zatoichi. Get ready for flying limbs and the sound of steel cutting through flesh and bone. The violence is by no means cartoony; but stylized and brutally realistic. Ah the Japanese and stylized violence... they're so good at it. I found myself disturbed and in awe all at once.

Brilliant action sequencecs aside, this movie will also have you laughing your ass off throughout. The humor is subtle at times, and slapstick at others. Kitano's deadpan wit as Zatoichi is classic. There is also an excellent comedic performance by Taka Gadarukanaru who plays the gambling addicted nephew of Oume.

The plot ain't bad either... dare I say a little Yojimbo/Sanjuro-esque. But hey it's a good example to follow. Rival gangs bossing meak townspeople and farmers around, Two mysterious and incredibly skilled swordsmen find themselves embroiled in the conflict and on opposite sides. With the entire film building up to their climactic duel. This is essentially the plot, but there are many twists and substories that make it more than standard fare. The premise may seem a little formulaic but it's execution is far from it.

With several subplots involving everything from revenge, honor, family and even sexual identity the movie is far from boring. Information about characters is revealed through slick flashbacks that work well with the rest of the film.

Takeshi Kitano is a very gifted director, but you don't need me to tell you that. Many scenes have little or no dialogue and instead the audience is given a simple beat or rhythm that builds into a full fledged score. Kitano's use of sound in this movie is superb.

The farmers pound the field as Zatoichi slowly trundles by, the beat of the farmers pounding continues and adds to the clang of armor and weapons as a group of soldiers marches past.

These rhythms then evolve into music and so on and so forth. It's a very cool effect, and Kitano uses it well in many scenes.

I also must mention the stellar badass that Tadanobu Asano (Who aslo stars with 'Beat' in Taboo, for those of you who didn't see it because you were afraid of gay samurai) plays in this film. The stoic ronin Gennosuke Hattori is a good man who has just had a streak of misfortune. He is a dishonored masterless samurai, with a sick wife and no means to support her. He is forced to do bodyguard work for the local gang. He doesn't want to do it, but if he has to kill a few people to help his wife get better... so be it. A stand out performance by Asano in this film.

A few criticisms though... The CGI used during the fight scenes is amazing for the most part, but there are a few instances where you can really tell it's a fake sword blowing through some hapless bastards chest cavity. Most of the time though the action is too fast to notice these small problems anyways.

As well... the big dance number at the end... went on a little too long I think. But that's just me... I'm not a song and dance guy... so sue me.

A few points of interest: WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD.

One of the Geisha assassins is a man, baby ! If you couldn't tell pretty quickly... well maybe it's time you reevaluate where you stand sexually.

They don't call Pops and Gramps... Pops and Gramps for nothing.

The final confronation between Zatoichi and Gennosuke is lightning fast and Gennosuke gets his ass whooped !

END Spoilers

This movie was so much fun... I highly recommend you catch it if you can.

10/10 Stars Excellent Film

Will "RoninKengo" Perkins

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