ORBzine - Unreality 2008 Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

The 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 is 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 is 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 do not 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 is the new film by the guy behind Creep and Severance so you should know to expect a speculative fiction 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 is not exactly original, but it is a decently done piece of work.

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    The Lakehouse

    The Lakehouse This is basically science fiction for people who do not like sci-fi. It is 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. It is 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 is 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 is basically a slow-moving drama, a time travel film for people who do not 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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    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.

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

    In Part Two, 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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    Alice In Wonderland

    Alice in Wonderland

    Alice in Wonderland This is a sequel of sorts, set ten years after Alice's initial descent into Wonderland. She is 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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    Alice Through The Looking Glass

    Alice Through The Looking Glass This is a sequel of sorts, set several years after Alice's second descent into Wonderland. She has become a sea-captain, swashbuckling aboard a sailing ship like Keira Knightley did in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Yes, that is now the tone for female protagonists these days.

    Unfortunately the shipping company is owned by Alice's ex-fiance, the poor (well, unfortunate) fool that she spurned at the altar. She sees the blue butterfly, and follows him through a looking glass ...

    The White Queen ( Anne Hathaway ) wants Alice to help restore the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean ), whose OTT insanity has been driven into overdrive. He thinks that Alica can save his family, even though they were killed by the Jabberwocky many years previously.

    Alice descends into the Underland, steals a time-machine from Sasha Baron Cohen and travels back to meet the younger Hatter and his family. Can she save them?

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    Freaky Friday Genre

    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 cannot really look for inspiration or originality in a remake of a mediocre film.

  • Freaky Friday (1973)
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    Big

    Big A thirteen year old boy makes a wish at a magical machine, and gets transformed into Tom Hanks ( Splash ). With some help from his best friend he goes to the big city and gets a job in a toy store run by Robert Loggia ( Lost Highway ). He falls foul of business rival John Heard ( Cat People ), and gets a girlfriend ( Elizabeth Perkins ). Ah, the 1980s were a simpler age - today the female lead would be accused of Statutory rape!

    This came out around the same time as Vice Versa , the Judge Reinhold flick with a similar concept. Hanks worked hard to change his screen persona, choosing supporting roles in dramatic films like A League of Their Own, while Reinhold kept going for comedic roles.

  • Freaky Friday (1973)
  • Freaky Friday (2003)
  • Vice Versa
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    Vice Versa

    Vice Versa This is one of a late-1980s slew of Freaky Friday pastiches. Business executive Judge Reinhold (Beverly Hills Cop) swops minds with his schoolboy son Fred Savage (Wonder Years) thanks to a magic skull.

    In a lightweight thriller subplot, Swoosie Kurtz is hunting for the magic skull. If she steals it, the protagonists will be unable to change back.

    There are a few familiar faces. The boy's mother is a young-looking Lois from Malcolm in the Middle.

  • Big
  • Freaky Friday (1973)
  • Freaky Friday (2003)
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    Shyamalan-A-Ding-Dong

    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 is 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 - Predators ) has other ideas.

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    The Happening

    The Happening This is the annual offering from M Night Shyamalan . It lacks the twist ending that he is famous for, and marks the beginning of his downward slide.

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    Lady in the Water

    Lady in the Water This is the annual offering from M Night Shyamalan . It is the weakest film he has made, based on a bedtime story he made up for his own children and spiced with a heavy dose of self-indulgence.

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    Devil

    Devil This is a supernatural suspense thriller written and produced by M Night Shyamalan , although he did not direct or act in it. It has something of a twist in the ending, too.

    Five people get trapped in an elevator. It turns out that one of them is the devil himself, come to claim the souls of the unwary.

    The blood is mostly off-screen. While one might laud the use of suspense instead of a reliance on gore, the reality is that in this case the film seems anti-climactic as a result.

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    The Visit

    The Visit This is a found footage film about a pair of teenagers who got to spend a week with their motherís estranged parents. However, the maternal grandparents start to behave unusually.

    The visit takes place in a remote farmhouse. This remoteness is part of the standard setting for suspense movies. Naturally, they cannot get cell-phone reception. Surprise, surprise. However, the old-timers actually have broadband internet so the kids can plug in a laptop and use skype to talk to their mother! This is a nice twist on what is becoming a modern clichť, and actually plays an important part in the plot. Also, it illustrates that modern thrillers tend to use 1970s plots, disregarding modern technology (with the notable exception of the 24 television series). The term Techno-Thriller cannot generally apply to most modern thrillers, which is ironic considering that Blade Runner was set only a few years from now.

    M Night Shyamalan was once the master of the twist ending. However, in this effort the structure has been changed - and not for the better. The twist reveal is done at the end of the second act, merely setting up a lacklustre climax.

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    Split

    Split Anna Taylor-Joy is locked in a cell in a basement. No, this is not a sequel of Morgan . Kevin (James MacAvoy - X-Men: First Class ) has almost two dozen multiple personalities. Two of them have conspired together to abduct a trio of teenage girls, and she is one of them.

    This was directed by M Night Shayamalan , although the trailer is careful not to mention that fact. There is a lot of setup for several different amazing twist endings, but somehow the film manages to avoid all of them.

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    Guillermo Del Toro

    Pan's Labyrinth

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

    It is 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 do not want to risk their lives fighting against the Nazis, so they spend their time harrassing the Spanish police instead.

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    Mama

    Mama A man goes postal, then becomes a family annihilator. But when he takes his two daughters into the woods, they discover a remote cabin Ö haunted by the ghost of his female equivalent, a kind of La Llorona. She wants to raise the kids as her own Ö

    Five years later, the girls are discovered. They are nearly feral, but after a few weeks with a shrink they are suitable for suburban living again. Their uncle (Nicolai Coster-Waldaj - Game of Thrones ) gets custody of them. But they spend most of their time with his girlfriend Jessica Chastain . Yes, with a couple of exceptions (men who are quickly written off) the cast is mostly female.

    This was produced by Guillermo Del Torro , and has his trademark creepiness. However, despite being spine-tingling it is actually a PG-13, due to its low body count and lack of gore. Thus it unhappily straddles two worlds (not unlike the ghost herself) - too scary for a family film, too bloodless for a full-on horror.

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    Crimson Peak

    Crimson Peak This is a case of gothic style-over-substance delivered by Guillermo Del Torro . In the 1800s a Mary Shelley wannabe ( Mia Wiasakowska ) is seduced by Baronet Loki (Tom Hiddleston - Thor ). Her father (Jim Beaver - Supernatural ) opposes their relationship, and has a Private Investigator (Burn Gorman - Dark Knight Rises ) investigate the Baronet. Loki's sister ( Jessica Chastain ) does not approve of the match either, but the marriage goes ahead anyway.

    They move to his family home, a massive decrepit pile in rural England. She does not bother to ask what its nickname is before she moves in.

    The problem is that the prologue establishes that the ghostly presence in the film is a death omen. This means that the cliched twist is not a twist, and the story is completely straightforward.

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    Don't Be Afraid Of the Dark (1977)

    Don't Be Afraid Of the Dark (1977) Kim Darby moves into an old abandoned mansion. The handyman, who locked the place up on the orders of her grandmother two decades previously, refuses to help open the bricked-up fireplace. Naturally, the Final Girl chooses to transgress ... unleashing the predictable evil.

    At first the monsters are not shown on-screen, instead portrayed as sinister whispers from the shadows. Later they come out as claymation-looking figures,

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    Donít Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011)

    Donít Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011) This was produced by Guillermo Del Toro , and has his typically suspenseful, supernatural feel. It is a remake of a 1970s low-budget effort that starred Kim Darby .

    A young girl goes to live with her father (Guy Pearse - LA Confidential) and stepmother ( Katie Holmes ) as they renovate an old mansion. However, the basement is infested with Tooth Fairies. These are like evil versions of the Pictsies in Terry Pratchett Ďs Wee Free Men .

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    Soon

    Soon

  • 2000
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