In the story within a story, Van Dyke and family use their car to take on the evil Baron Blomburst (Gert Frobe - Goldfinger ). They follow the Baron to his fairytale Rhineland castle. Like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom , the town they arrive in does not have any children. But this is a singing, dancing musical instead of a horror film.
Mary and her boyfriend the chimney sweep (Dick Van Dyke - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ) take the kids on magical adventures, courtesy of the Walt Disney corporation. The result is a big-budget 1960s technicolour musical that mixes live-action footage and animation.
Luckily, Emma Thompson arrives with enough make-up on to be an extremely ugly nanny with supernatural powers and a heart of gold. Yes, this is basically Mary Poppins as told in the manner of Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events . Nothing too original, but young kids generally do not like surprising or original things. It was popular enough for a sequel to get made, so the intended audience must have liked it.
The Phantom helps Christine's career, but only because he wants her for himself. Unfortunately, when she falls for the young Aristocrat who owns the Opera Hall the Phantom is greatly offended. He shows that he knows how to use a sword, among other skills.
This is not a crappy slasher or melodrama - it is a musical with wonderful cinematography. It is even in widescreen, to give extra value for money. Miranda Richardson and Jennifer Ellison provide able support.
Joel Schumacher delivers an impressive piece, to say the least. In fact, the Andrew Rice Webber songs are probably the weakest part of it!
Benicio Del Toro ( Licence To Kill ) is the hero. His mother was Spanish and he spent his entire adult life in America, which conveniently explains how he became the most unlikely English Gentleman. When the hero gets word of his brother's death he returns to stay in the family mansion with his father (Anthony Hopkins - Silence of the Lambs ), faithful Sikh manservant Singh (Art Malik - Living Daylights ) and the dead brother's fiance ( Emily Blunt ).
The brother is only one of a string of mutilated corpses. Inspector Abeline of Scotland Yard (Hugo Weaving - The Matrix, Lord of the Rings ) pays a visit. The main suspect is the protagonist himself, of course. And since the curse can be spread by a bite ...
After Dorian takes a 25-year tour of the world, he returns to discover that Henry has a Suffragette daughter ( Rebecca Hall ). But Dorian's shame over his magical portrait of sin is so great that he will kill to protect the secret.
This was adapted from the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde . How ironic that Dorian's so-called sins seem to be mere induldgence in non-vanilla sex, when Wilde himself was famously convicted of homosexuality. More recently, the character of Dorian Gray was used as one of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen .
The story is set in a European country in the Late Victorian era. It's a Steampunk world with a heavy helping of magical realism. The moving Castle of the title is steam-powered, but the steam generator is heated by a fire demon instead of coal!
Sophie ( Emily Mortimer ) befriends a wizard named Howl (Christian Bale - Terminator 4 ). Then she is cursed by the jealous Witch of the Wastelands ( Lauren Bacall ) and is turned into an old lady ( Jean Simmons ). She goes to Howl's castle, amnd works as his cleaning lady until she can be cured.
Meanwhile, the country goes to war. Howl has never stood up for anything in his life, preferring to run away. Now he makes a tough stand ... as a conscientous objector! The thing is that to fight, a wizard must turn into a monster - thus turning to the Dark Side!
Sinden and his colleagues discover a lost island peopled by Vikings, who have not advanced technologically in a thousand years. The plot then proceeds like a Doug McClure film. They must escape through a volcanic wilderness, while pursued by bloodthirsty Vikings.
Napoleon's Governor (Jonathan Pryce - Tomorrow Never Dies ) orders them to save some missing children from an enchanted forest ... Along with their sidekick McKenzie Crook ( Pirates of the Caribbean ), an Italian hit-man and a female rabbit-skinner ( Lena Headey ), they set off into the unknown.
This was directed by Terry Gilliam . It is far cry from his Monty Python stuff - it is closest to Baron Munchausen or Burton's Sleepy Hollow . All the Germans speak with English accents (even Matt Damon!), but the acting performances are all excellent.
Being force-fed sugary goodness turned Hansel into a diabetic. It also seems to have prematurely aged him, because in real life Jeremy Renner ( Avengers Assemble ) is fifteen years older than his supposedly twin sister, Gemma Arterton . Arterton is tougher than one would expect, in a role usually given to the likes of Milla Jovovich . But she does a good job. And she swears more than in any of her mainstream Hollywood roles so far. That said, she did a lot of near-the-knuckle stuff in low-budget Brit thriller Disappearance of Alice Creed a couple of years ago, so her potential should not be underestimated.
A Grand Witch ( Famke Janssen ) has a secret plan.
Writer Christopher McQuarrie and Director Bryan Singer deliver a mediocre CGI-fest. The 3D SPFX are at their best when the characters are swinging around on a giant Beanstalk. But didn't Puss in Boots already do this?
Some people are not impressed with this film, because it is over two hours long and most of the time is spent waiting for something to happen. Well, if a story about Kurt Russell being snowed in for days with a bunch of potential killers sounds familiar, that is because it is the basis for the finest film he has been in - The Thing ! In that tradition, Tarantino has delivered an impressive suspense thriller. Yes, QT is renowned as someone who delivers style over substance, but here (like in the well-plotted literary adaptation Jackie Brown) he delivers a film with depth.
Magic Mike from Haywire puts in an appearance in a flashback. He is Daisy's brother ... although this would make more sense if Daisy was played by the runner-up for that role, Katee Sackhoff . With the age gap, Jennifer Jason Leigh is closer to being his mother. Naturally, Leigh is the only cast member to be nominated for an Academy Award for their work on this film. Had Sackhoff done as good a job with the role, which she could have done easily if one compares Daisy to Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica (2003) , would she have gotten a nomination?
A villain terrorises a town full of innocent villagers. This town has been relocated from Mexico to the USA, and instead of a bandito the villain is a The main protagonist is Cahill (Denzel Washington - Virtuosity ), a blaxploitation Western hero of the type seen in recent films like Django Unchained, Hateful Eight . He recruits an unscrupulous gambler (Chris Pratt - Guardians of the Galaxy ), a Confederate sharpshooter (Ethan Hawke - Gattacca ) and a burly Mountain Man (Vincent D'Onofrio - Men in Black ). There are also plenty of People of Colour in the team - he hires a stereotypical Latino, Oriental and Native American.
Ethan Hawke is the best actor in the whole thing. In this reviewer's opinion it is not much of an improvement on the original - just a rehash of modern westerns, with trendy modern causes like environmentalism, multiculturism and socialism ...
There is one important question that this movie raises. Are rifle bullets fired at random from a gatling gun more powerful or deadly than those fired from dozens of sharpshooters?
He receives opposition from the local Reverend (Ben Kingsley - Sound of Thunder ), a powerful figure who dominates the film.
The pair started off as friends, working with Ricky Jay (a magician in X-Files ), Michael Caine ( Man Who Would Be King, Goldmember ) and Piper Perabo . But a tragic event pushes them apart, creating a deadly feud between them. Each seeks to best the other at performing a new trick, The Transported Man. Assistant Scarlet Johanssen , engineer Andy Sirkis ( LOTR, Deathwatch ) and Nikolai Tesla himself (David Bowie - The Hunger ) all play a part.
But in a battle of wits between two master illusionists, what is truth and what is illusion?
The first half introduces our protagonists. Instead of the original hero (Richard Francis Burton, Victorian hero of the British Empire) we get a Yankee astronaut from 2009. He teams up with Alice Liddell ( Emily Lloyd ), who is evidently the brains of the operation. They are enslaved by a Vandal horde led by Kevin Smith ( Xena: Warrior Princess ).
In the second half, Sam Clemens (AKA Mark Twain) faces off against the Emperor Nero. Somehow, Nero has gotten older since he died - and a lot better at sword-fighting and military strategy.
This is part comedy of errors, part journey of self-discovery for the Pastor and especially for his wife. There is an undercurrent of magical realism similar to Picnic at Hanging Rock . The magical atmosphere of the Outback, the subtle implication that the artist's models are the seductive sirens of Greek myth ...
If this seems familiar, it is because the film was previously made in 1969. This new version is a re-adaption of the original novel, rather than a straight remake of the John Wayne classic. That said, the dialogue is almost identical to that of the original film. This is grimmer, more brutal and cynical - like Unforgiven with the bookend narration of Titanic. Unfortunately, it is not as hard-hitting as either of those films.
This is a Canadian made-for-TV effort for 2002. The budget is appropriately limited. However, it is quite watchable.
Sherlock Holmes (Matt Frewer - Max Headroom ) and Dr Watson (Kenneth Welsh - Twin Peaks ) are made aware of mysterious goings-on at Baskerville Moor. Holmes has important things to do, so he sends Watson to go and look after Sir Henry Baskerville (Jason London - Mallrats ).
Watson does a pretty good job of running the case single-handedly. He has to investigate a mysterious letter the dead man received. Suspects include the housekeeper ( Leni Parker ).
The real let-down is the hound itself. This is hardly a monstrous beast, merely a dog the size of a domestic house-pet. At least the film-makers did not resort to dodgy CGI, but they could at least have found a bigger dog.
Sherlock Holmes (John Neville - Baron Munchausen ) and his bumbling sidekick Watson receive a mysterious package. It is a doctor's instruments, but one of the scalpels is missing.
Jack the Ripper is menacing the women of Whitechapel, including Barbara Windsor Judy Dench Adrienne Corri . He is instantly recognisable because of his top hat, cape and doctor's bag. Despite this, Inspector Lestrade (Frank Finlay - ) is stumped. The suspects include the local police surgeon (Anthony Quayle - ).
Holmes comes out of this quite well. He is a skilled disguise artist and sword-fighting action hero. That said, he is also a cold-hearted ruthless man who uses unsuspecting people as live bait in a deadly trap. Worse, he always manages to save himself while those around him are not always so lucky.
Rent-a-villain actor Mark Strong ( Tristan and Isolde ) is Lord Blackthorn, a character about as subtle in demeanor as Severus Snape. This wicked Peer of the Realm is plotting to take over the Empire, and thus the civilised world, by means of apparent black magic.
Holmes' lost love Irene Adler ( Rachael McAdams ) is in town, working for a shadowy figure who calls himself The Professor. This sub-plot is an indication that the inevitable sequel might be even better!
Holmes has his sights on Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris - Fringe ).
Moriarty also has another minion to run errands for him - a very unlikely-looking fellow who is supposed to be Colonel Sebastian Moran, finest sharpshooter in the world (lately of Her Majesty's Armed Forces).
Abe's team include a token good vamp, a shopkeeper (Lloyd from Breakout Kings) and a Token black guy. He marries Scream Queen Mary Elizabeth Winstead , who is stuck with a very unflattering look.
The film misleadingly represents Lincoln as being primarily an Abolitionist (not a Federalist, as he was in reality). Worse, it portrays the Confederates as literally being bloodthirsty vamps.
The problem is that this story is a parody of OTT action films. But it is not even the first of its kind - it imitates Pride and Prejudice and Zombies , which had the decency to admit its own comical intent.
The film cannot seem to make its mind up. Bodies pile up, quite literally - but is this linked to Bathory herself? The overall theme of the film is that she was framed by a rival Aristocrat who wanted to seize her lands.