ORBzine - Unreality 2008 Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth Guillermo Del Toro delivers a film reminiscent of his biggest mainstream success, Hellboy .

It's 1944 in Franco's Spain. A young girl accompanies her sick mother and her wicked stepfather (Captain of Franco's cops) to a new home at a remote village in the mountains. The girl has magical encounters with a Faun and other supernatural creatures.

Meanwhile, the Allied Armies are liberating Europe. But the Communist resistance don't want to risk their lives fighting against the Nazis, so they spend their time harrassing the Spanish police instead.

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    The Village

    The Village This is the annual offering from M Night Shyamalan .

    The Village is a remote, isolated cluster of wooden houses. Its inhabitants are Amish-style folks led by the Elders - Edward Walker [William Hurt - Incredible Hulk ], Alice Hunt [ Sigourney Weaver ] and August Nicholson [Brendan Gleeson - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ]. It's unclear what century this is set in, but the Villagers live in perpetual fear of Monsters that live in the woods.

    Ivy Walker [ Bryce Dallas Howard ] is a blind girl who is in love with Lucius Hunt [Joaquin Phoenix - Gladiator ]. Unfortunately, Noah Percy [Adrien Brody - ] has other ideas.

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    Freaky Friday (1973)

    Freaky Friday (1973) Like most of the films Jodie Foster appeared in during the 1970s, this hinges on her ability to act more mature than she really is. Annabel (Foster) is 13 years old, but swops characters with her mother ( Barbara Harris ). And hilarity ensues.

    This is a typical 1970s family comedy from Disney. The climax has tons of slapstick, with the work done by the actresses' stunt doubles.

  • Freaky Friday (2003)
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    Freaky Friday (2003)

    Freaky Friday (2003) This is a Disney remake of the Jodie Foster remake from 1976. It's basically a generation gap comedy, starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis as mother and daughter. They are body-swopped by a magic fortune cookie, so JLC acts immature (easy to do) and Lohan acts mature. The Buffy S3 ep Band Candy did this much better. But then, one can't really look for inspiration or originality in a remake of a mediocre film.

  • Freaky Friday (1973)
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    Exorcism of Emily Rose

    Exorcism of Emily Rose Catholic lawyer Laura Linney is hired by the local Bishop to defend a priest (Tom ), who is accused of killing a parishioner. The young woman, Emily Rose ( Jennifer Carpenter ) died during an exorcism ...

    The Prosecutor, evidently a devout Atheist, constantly undermines the Defence with his use of medical science and FACTS. However, as Ms Linney gets more involved in the case she believes more and more in the magical monsters ...

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    The Invention of Lying

    The Invention of Lying This is Ricky Gervase delivering an amazing film. It's set in a parallel universe, where nobody ever says anything that is not entirely true. They speak their minds with such blatant lack of care about what anyone thinks that ... well, it's hilarious how the truth can be so cruel and yet so funny at the same time.

    The protagonist is a writer for a film company. They don't use actors, costumes or created dialogue. They just film a narrator reading from the script, listing the proven historical facts.

    Then, one day, Ricky invents the lie. He manages to say something that he wishes were true - and because nobody can even consider the possibility that he might not tell the truth, they all accept it outright.

    This leads on to a wonderful parody of organised religion. Yes, when he invents the lie he also has to invent religion. This is hilarious in itself.

    Jennifer Garner had Ricky as a guest-star on her show Alias , and now he returns the favour by using her as his love interest.

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    Triangle

    Triangle this is a thriller that has a number of predictable twists, it's the new film by the guy behind Creep and Severance so you should know to expect a spec fic story with a certain new take on things.

    Melissa George is a housewife with an autistic son. She goes sailing on a yacht with a bunch of people she barely knows. The yacht is capsized in a freak storm, and the survivors board a seemingly derelict passenger liner. The protagonist gets a strange feeling of deja vu ...

    A masked figure starts killing the survivors. Then the day starts to repeat itself, in an inescapable time loop. This has been done many times before, it's not exactly original, but it's a decently done piece of work.

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    The Lakehouse

    The Lakehouse This is basically science fiction for people who donít like sci-fi. Itís a romance story about two people who communicate by letters not through distance, but through time. Naturally, everyone who knows about time travel stories (you know, sci-fi fans) knows all the cliches and problems that can arise - paradoxes and so on. But since this is a romance for a mainstream audience, the little things are ignored.

    Keanu Reeves ( Bill and Ted - another time travel story!) and Sandra Bullock are the happy couple. Itís actually quite a touching tale, if you like that kind of thing.

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    The Premonition

    The Premonition Sandra Bullock is kinda-happily married to Julian McMahon ( Fantastic Four ). She wakes up one morning and discovers she's skipped almost a week, and that her husband has been killed in a car crash. The next morning, she wakes up and it's still several days before the accident ...

    This lacks the romantic interest of Bullock's previous time travel film, The Lake House , or the thriller aspect of most other Time Travel films. It's basically a slow-moving drama, a time travel film for people who don't like sci-fi.

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    Men Who Stare At Goats, The

    Men Who Stare At Goats Ewan McGregor ( Star Wars: Phantom Menace ) is a wannabe War Correspondent who teams up with George Clooney ( Solaris ), a seemingly deranged war veteran who claims to be a member of the elite US Army Special Forces First Earth Army unit. Of course, Clooney makes the necessary cultural reference by calling his unit Jedi Warriors - quite ironic, considering who his co-star is!

    As they journey into the heart of darkness in Iraq, their lives get hilariously complicated. Kevin Spacey ( A Bug's life ) is a villainous counterpart to Clooney.

    Directed by Grant Heslov (token Arab good guy in True Lies ), this is a hilarious comedy-adventure with an all-star cast, a great soundtrack ... And Goats!

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    Alice in Wonderland

    Alice in Wonderland This is a sequel of sorts, set ten years after Alice's initial descent into Wonderland. She's nineteen years old, about to be engaged, and has forgotten all about her childhood adventure. But once again she sees the white rabbit, and follows him ...

    This film was much-awaited, with fans clamouring for cult director Tim Burton to do a 3-D rehash of Lewis Carroll's classic (i.e. Public Domain!) childrens' novel. However, the biggest fans seem quite disappointed. The Film seems to be making its money based on the visuals - the CGI and 3-D effects are magnificent, but expensive - and thus a ticket for this will add more to Box Office Takings than a ticket of a 2-D film would. The problem is that the story is quite simplistic. Earth-person goes to alien landscape and helps local rebels overthrow dictatorial usurper. Sound familiar?

    Alice is pursued by the Creepy Thin Man (Crispin Glover) from Charlie's Angels . He serves the Red Queen ( Helena Bonham Carter ), who seems to be channelling Miranda Richardson 's portrayal of Elizabeth Tudor in Blackadder 2.

    The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean ) is a leader of the Resistance, with flashes of Braveheart emerging sporadically through his OTT insanity. He wants Alice to help restore the White Queen ( Anne Hathaway ).

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    5 Days to Midnight

    5 Days to Midnight Physics Professor Timothy Hutton will be murdered. Five days earlier, he discovers the police investigation file. He must pre-solve the murder (like in classic film Noir D.O.A.).

    Suspects include Police Detective Randy Quaid, GF Kari Matchett and Publisher Giancarlo Esposito. Nikki DeBoer is the protagonist's sister, but her husband is a suspect! At least she wears flimsy silk Ö

    This is divided into 5 chapters, each covering a one-hour segment.

    In part 2, gangster Hamish Linklater (Angus McFadyen - Braveheart and the Skeet Ulrich TV show Miracles ) appears.

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    Neverending Story 3

    Neverending Story 3 The land is taken over by a Nasty. Tony Robinson (Blackadder) pops up as a Gnome.

    Sebastian faces off with a school bully (Jack Black - Pick of Destiny ) in LA.

    There are few sets, and the whole thing looks very cheap.

  • Neverending Story, The
  • Neverending Story 2, The
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    Shutter Island

    Shutter Island Leonardo DiCaprio ( Man in the Iron Mask ) and Mark Ruffalo ( 13 Going On 30 ) are a pair of US Federal Marshals sent to assist in the recapture of an inmate who escaped from a mental asylum.

    Psychiatrists Ben Kingsley ( Sound of Thunder ) and Max Von Sydow ( Flash Gordon, Judge Dredd ) run the place, which creates an element of suspicion and suspense throughout the film.

    Martin Scorsese delivers an above-average suspense thriller based on a novel by best-selling writer Denis Lehane. However, despite the mainstream critics saying how good the twist is ... it's pretty predictable. Been done better a lot of times, in fact. P>

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    Shelter

    Shelter Julianne Moore is a psychologist who debunks multiple personality syndrome. She is presented with a patient (Jonathan Rhys Myers - The Tudors ) who seems to have multiple personalities. As she investigates, she discovers a supernatural origin to his condition.

    This is a typical Hollywood example of the supernatural suspense thriller, delivered by the producers of The Ring and the writer of Identity . They evidently wished to emulate the success of their earlier, far superior films. The Director is as much to blame as anyone, relying on the typical array of camera tricks in order to artificially generate suspense.

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    Black Swan

    Black Swan This is a classic tale of how loneliness and social isolation can dead to mental illness and despair. Just the sort of thing to watch by yourself on St Valentine's day!

    This is the story of Swan Lake, adapted in the traditional manner of showing the process of adaptation itself. Naturally, the protagonist becomes emeshed in the story, and begins to live it out.

    Nina the Ballerina ( Natalie Portman ) finds herself turning into a swan (like Jeff Goldblum in the David Cronenberg version of The Fly ). She is trapped in a stiffling relationship with her control-freak mother ( Barbara Hershey ), which accounts for her immaturity and anal retentive behaviour. Her director (Vincent Cassell - Brotherhood of the Wolf ) and a friendly rival ( Mila Kunis ) try to get her to loosen up and unleash her dark side ...

    This, of course, leads to the predictable halucinations and tragic decline into insanity that we have seen in so many other films. Darren Aronofsky may have seemed original when he delivered Requiem for a Dream a decade ago, but there is nothing new here.

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