ORBzine - December 2006 Movie Reviews


Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra

Asterix: Mission Cleopatra Cleo [ Monica Bellucci ] makes a bet with Caesar that her architect can build a palace in 3 months. The architect calls in his father's friend, Getafix the Druid, and a couple of Gaulish mercenaries with superhuman strength. They have to build the palace while facing sabotage by the Romans and by rival Egyptians.

This is a wonderful live-action version of the comic-book. The budget is certainly up to the task, with great effects that really do it justice. The humour includes some more modern pop-culture references that weren't in the original, but they certainly don't detract from it. All in all, a very satisfactory effort.

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  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Second film in Peter Jackson 's trilogy, it takes up where LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring left off. Frodo [Elijah Wood] and Sam [Sean Astin] are on their way to Mordor. They are followed by Gollum [Andy Sirkis - Deathwatch ].

    Merry and Pippin [Dominic Monaghan - Lost ] meet the Ents, led by Treebeard [John Rhys Davies - Raiders of the Lost Ark ].

    Aragorn, Gimli and meet the Riders of Rohan, led by Karl Urban [ Xena: Warrior Princess ]. Then they must help Miranda Otto to free the King [Bernard Hill - Gothika ] from the influence of Grima Wormtongue [Brad Dourif - Alien Resurrection ].

    Saruman [Christopher Lee - SW II: Attack of the Clones ] sends a huge army of Orcs to besiege our heroes in the fortress of Helm's Deep. This leads on to one of 3 hugs battles that take place simultaneously!

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  • Lord of the Rings: Return of The King

    Lord of the Rings: Return of The King This is the final part of Peter Jackson 's trilogy, and the one he was awarded the Oscar for.

    Frodo and Sam must face Shelob, a gigantic spider that guards the route to Mordor.

    Merry and Pippin are reunited with Aragorn and the others. Together they must organise the defence of the last Kingdom of Men from the combined forces of all of Sauron's evil.

    Poor Liv Tyler , given such an enlarged role in the first film, now has nothing to do but waste away.

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  • Casino Royale (2006)

    Casino Royale (2006) Martin Campbell kick-started the Bond Franchise back in 1995 when he directed Pierce Brosnan's first Bond film, Goldeneye . Here he introduces the new Bond, Daniel Craig [Layer Cake] - a craggy-faced bit of beefcake, the New Timothy Dalton to Brosnan's New Roger Moore.

    This is totally different from the other Bond films. The familiar trimmings are gone, although the gunshot at the start and Judy Dench as M are both retained. There are no girls in the title sequence, just some CGI men. The gadgets are gone too. Instead, this is like a big-budget version of 24. Bond is now a one-man demolition squad, racing against time to defeat terrorists.

    The plot is taken from the original book by Ian Fleming. Bond must outsmart a Banker who finances terrorists. He is partnered with Vesper Lynde [ Eva Greene ], and they go undercover to a high-stakes poker tournament in the Casino Royale. Jeffrey Wright [Ride with the Devil] is one of the other players.

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  • Clerks II

    Clerks II Kevin Smith brings out his long-awaited sequel to the original movie that made him a name in the industry. There are lots of references to other View Askewniverse films, though technically they were all stand-alones rather than sequels.

    The Clerks, Randal and Dante, are now working in a burger bar. Apart from that, everything else is pretty much the same. Rosario Dawson [probably the most expensive thing in the film] is their boss, with whom Dante has developed a special friendship.

    Unfortunately, Dante is just about to marry someone else and move to Florida. The cosy world they live in is about to be torn apart by this move. Randal books his pal a special show as a going-away present. Predictably, things spiral out of control.

    This is a great film - the comedy is hilarious, the cameos are well-placed [Jason Lee takes his 4th role!], and there's genuine pathos for the characters.

  • Mallrats
  • Dogma
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
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  • Tenacious D: Pick of Destiny

    Tenacious D: Pick of Destiny This is a fictionalised account of the creation of the Heavy Metal Band Tenacious D [Jack Black - Enemy of the State - and Kyle Gass]. They need to win a talent contest to pay their rent, and discover that a certain guitar pick with supernatural powers will guarantee them success.

    This film owes more than a little to the band's music video for their song Tribute To The Best Song in The World. In fact, in that respect the climax is actually a bit disappointing. Jack Black played a similar character in the film School of Rock, which actually turned out to be a better film than this.

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  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

    League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1899, the Steampunk era. A masked villain known as The Phantom is stealing plans for the next generation of super-weapons, and bringing the world's governments ever closer to the First World War. Great White Hunter Allan Quartermain [Sean Connery - Diamonds Are Forever ] is recruited to lead the League. His colleagues include other Victorian literarry characters like Mina Harker [ Peta Wilson and Dorian Gray [Stewart Townsend - Queen of the Damned ]. It turns out that Mr Hyde [AKA Dr Jekyll] has started a murderous rampage in Paris - just like he did in Van Helsing .

    Stephen Norrington directed this, based on the Graphic Novels written by Alan Moore. As with all other adaptions of that author's work, Mr Moore disowned it.

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  • Looker

    Looker Writer-director Michael Crichton delivered this hi-tech 1970s-looking thriller in 1981. Albert Finney [ Wolfen ] and Susan Dey must uncover a conspiracy.

    Villainous MegaCorp boss James Coburn has developed a system of subliminal advertising for brainwashing people. This has a practical application - a gun that makes people black out for a few moments. The hypnotism/invisibility/time-freeze thing leads to some rather surreal scenes ...

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  • Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

    Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Director McG delivers a mega-budget OTT effort. The Angels [ Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu ] start with an unbelievable take-off in the intro to Bond Film Goldeneye . This sets the tone for the entire film - it's completely OTT, full of references to famous [and original] films. Basically, McG has delivered a mega-budget music video!

    Someone steals the US Witness Protection files from Robert Patrick [ T2 ] and Bruce Willis [ Fifth Element ]. The Angels are hired by US Government Agent Robert Forster [Jackie Brown] to retrieve the files - which are digitally encoded on magical rings ...

    When the protagonists are super-powerful and unkillable, it's hard to empathise with them. However It turns out that one of the villains is O'Grady [Justin Theroux], an Irish-American thug with a wandering accent - and the ex-BF of one of the Angels! The Creepy Thin Man [Crispin Glover] makes a re-appearance. And Demi Moore plays a former Angel ...

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  • Hogfather

    hogfather Terry Pratchett long struggled to get decent movie adaptions of his books. There have been cartoons and audio-books, but this is the first proper big-screen outing. Well, actually it's made for UK TV, but it seems very good for something on a supposedly limited budget.

    Mr Teatime [Marc Warren - Dr Who: Love and Monsters ] is hired to assassinate the Hogfather - Discworld's version of Santa. Warren stated that his performance was based on Johnny Depp's in Willie Wonka . However, he seems to have developed an Ulster accent!

    Death [Ian Richardson ] and his manservant, Albert [David Jason] have to take over from the Hogfather, so that children still believe in him. Death's grandaughter Susan [theatre actress Michelle Dockery ] looks a bit old for a teenager, but in Discworld anything's possible.

    Joss Ackland [Lethal Weapon II] is Ridcully, chief wizard, while Nigel Planer and Tony Robinson both pop up as well. Really an amazing cast, for a 2-part TV movie. It's shown in 2 parts of 2 hours each, although the advert-breaks seem extra-long for some reason ...

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  • Van Helsing

    Van Helsing Poor old Bram Stoker . Back in the 1920s his widow refused to allow celebrated director FW Murnau the rights to make a movie adaption, which led to the creation of Nosferatu . But now that the copyright has elapsed, his work is butchered by Stephen Somers . The tragic thing is that Somers' work has been going downhill ever since The Mummy - which really was an extraordinarily good work [albeit cobbled together from other films].

    The film starts with gun-toting cowboy-impersonator Van Helsing [Hugh Jackman - X-Men ] confronting the Hunchback of Notre Dame. It turns out that Mr Hyde [AKA Dr Jekyll] has started a murderous rampage in Paris - just like he did in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen . Yes, that's the kind of film this tries to be, though LXG is the superior. And that's a terrible thing to say about any film, considering how LXG has been slammed by fans and critics alike.

    VH is a hitman for the Catholic Church, hunting down monsters - probably a code-word for Jews, heretics and people who eat meat on a Friday. He goes to Transylvania and teams up with sexy gypsy princess Kate Beckinsale , best known as a sexy vamp in Underworld . Together they take on the biggest characters from the black-and-white monster movies - Dracula and the wolf-man!

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  • She

    She In the good old days of the British Empire, 3 explorers journey across the African desert to find a lost city. Peter Cushing [ Star Wars: ANH ] is the elderly mentor, Bernard Cribbins [ Daleks Invasion Earth: 2150 AD ] is the comic relief and John Richardson [ One Million Years BC ] is the handsome heroic one.

    The city is ruled by the undying Ayesha, She Who Must be Obeyed [Bond babe Ursula Andress ] and her High Priest Christopher Lee [ Dracula ].

    This is a Hammer version of the Victorian adventure book by H. Rider Haggard . The thing is, the original book is more about exploration than action.

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  • Dracula (2006)

    Dracula (2006) Marc Warren played the OTT villain in Hogfather , but here he gives a far more subdued and subtle performance as the title character.

    Stoker's rather thick book has been compressed into 90 minutes, and as a result many things have been lost. The character of Renfield has been done away with. Instead, a couple of Satanists hire Van Helsing [David Suchet] to visit Transylvania. Later, the Lord of Yorkshire hires them to import Drac to cure his inherited syphilis!!!

    Once in England, Drac makes after Lucy [ Sophia Myles ] and Mina [ Stephanie Leonidas ]. This allows the actors to do their job - and they are much better at it than the writers were!

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  • Son of the Dragon

    Son of the Dragon This was produced by Robert Halmi Snr and Jnr, and shot entirely in China.

    A Heath Ledger look-alike is the master-thief of old Shanghai. David Carradine [ Alias ] is his mentor.

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