A Knight’s Tale
Reviewed By Rebecca Barber and Suze Campagna
If you are looking for a historically accurate period piece, we would advise you to pass on this film. But if you want a rocking good fantasy film with a hero who overcomes the odds, jousting, sword fights, and lots of eye candy (for both males and females), then this is the film for you. When the film opens at a 14th century joust, the crowd is chanting and clapping along with Queen's "We Will Rock You". This is disturbing at first, but when you get your mind set that this is pure fantasy, it is easy to just sit back and enjoy the story.
When William Thatcher, played by Heath Ledger (The Patriot/Ten Things I hate About You) and his fellow squires Roland (Mark Addy -The Full Monty) and Wat (Alan Tudyk - 28 Days/Patch Adams) find their knight's dead body moments before a jousting tournament, they think all is lost. Desperate for the cash prize, Thatcher fills in for the knight. After he gets a taste of victory, he talks the group into continuing to compete under a false name. They are assisted by a scribe named Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany), whom they find sans clothes beside the road, and later a widowed blacksmith, Kate (Laura Frasier). Throw in a love story and a nasty rival and you have a recipe for a great story.
The competition was reminiscent of Gladiator though you feel more for the characters as they attempt to "change their stars". Chaucer was particularly amusing as he made references to several characters that would inspire him later when he would write The Canterbury Tales.
Much of the soundtrack was incidental music by 70's rockers: Rare Earth, Thin Lizzy, Sly and the Family Stone, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and War, but the most enjoyable piece of music was when everyone began to dance to David Bowie's "Golden Years" at the victory banquet after Thatcher’s first victory.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, but most of all you will be entertained. Be sure to sit through all the credits (even if you don't like Robbie Williams), 'cause the surprise at the end is gaseously funny.
Reviewed By Suze Campagna
Have you ever seen Wag the Dog? As they say, there are no original ideas left in Hollywood. Capricorn One is about a mission to Mars that wasn’t. As you may have heard in Apollo 13, the country had lost interest in the space program, and NASA needed something really big to get the audience back. The new mission was to land 3 men on Mars, but because of the President’s cut backs in the programs something went wrong. The company chosen fro life support didn’t do such a good job, but NASA still needed to put on a show for the people. So at the last minute the three astronauts (played by James Brolin, Sam Waterson, and OJ Simpson) were pulled out of the rocket and taken to an undisclosed location, where they would stage the landing on Mars when the time came. When the capsule came back to earth the plan was to load them in before they were picked up by the Navy. Simple plan. (There are those who believe that the missions to the moon were staged in the same way.)
Unfortunately, the capsule disintegrated upon reentry in to the Earth’s atmosphere. Everyone believes the astronauts to be daed; except for one reporter, played by Elliot Gould. He had a friend in NASA who suspected something was up and disappeared, do he dug deeper.
Though the film was made in 1978, it stands the test of time. There was a create cameo by Telly Savalas and a not so great appearance by a rattlesnake. And I must say that Law and Order’s, Sam Waterson looks rather sexy all sweaty. If you have already seen this film, it’s worth a revisit, if you haven’t I think you will enjoy it.
Day of the Triffids
Based on a novel by John Wydham
Reviewed By Suze Campagna
"Beware the triffids...they grow...know...walk...talk...stalk… and kill."
The story begins with a meteor hitting earth and 90% of the population is blinded. With the meteor came plants that grow really big, move around and eat people (Triffids). With only 10% of the population able to see the attack of the oncoming plants it is difficult to defend against them. The rest of the movie follows some of the characters trying to get to a safe place and finding a way to fight the Triffids. Though the 60's special effects are really cheesy, this film is considered classic science fiction. It should be seen at least once, though after all the trials all the characters go through, the film seems to wrap up too quickly.
The Hollow Man
Reviewed by Suze Campagna and diana dougherty
Another one of those movies where the trailers looked exciting and when we found ourselves without anything to do on a Saturday night, it seemed a great choice. Do not trust trailers. The credits were very artistic and pulled you in…then you noticed who directed it. Diana has been disappointed by a majority of the films directed by Verhoeven and didn’t realize until the credits were rolling who directed it. Did you notice his name is absent from almost all of the advertising for this film? In point of fact, none of the cast was heavily played up. The opening scene with a rat scurrying nervously as if his little life depended on it was particularly gruesome. It set the tone for the rest of the film. The actor’s cast seemed to be too young to play scientists that advanced. The invisible man effects were very well done, especially in the first part of the film when one of the invisible animals was brought back but that alone couldn’t save this film. The script was weak throughout and there were plot holes big enough for a ’57 Chevy to fit through. Using every movie cliché possible dragged out the ending. Please note: There was full frontal male nudity, lots of breasts and graphic violence – some committed against animals. It was a hard film to sit through.
New Score by Kevin Saunders Hayes
Reviewed by Suze Campagna and diana dougherty
During the Science Fiction Week at the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood, a version of the film classic Metropolis was screened with a rock accompaniment provided by the Kevin Saunders Hayes Rock Orchestra. As it was planned, there was to be one screening on Friday and Saturday but demand was so overwhelming that a second show was added on Saturday night. Although the print was dark in some places and new title cards were used, it was an amazing audio/visual experience. Metropolis has always seemed to be a film that has lent itself well to the music video format. The band consisted of five musicians and six singers. It was mesmerizing from first note to last. You knew the moment the music began that this was a new and unique experience. The program notes said it best: “The ‘silent’ expressionist nature of Lang’s Metropolis naturally lends itself to enhancement by musical accompaniment.” Suze, who had never seen the film before, commented as we were leaving that it felt as though we’d just watched “Metropolis: The Musical” so great was the impact of the vocal interpretation. Whether you’re a fan of the Moroder version or not, the score by Saunders Hayes will blow you away.
The Forsaken DVD
Reviewed by Suze Campagna
I know what you are thinking, “oh great, and other vampire movie.” But The Forsaken is more than that, it is what I classify as a WB movie, which is any movie that has tow or more actors who are/have been on a WB program. It’s an opportunity to see if these young actors can go beyond the teen angst that is so prominent on the network. The Forsaken stars Roswell’s Brendan Fehr and Dawson’s Creek’s Kerr Smith, and they both prove jus that. Smith plays Sean, a young man who is taking a drive-away through the southwestern desert to Miami to attend his sister’s wedding. Along the way he meets Nick, a hitchhiker (Fehr), who, as it turns out, is hunting a vampire (Jonathan Schaech). Sean is reluctant to help at first, but after an unfortunate turn of events he is just as determined to catch the creature of the night.
The film is full of suspense, exciting car chases, and lots of blood. It’s reminiscent of Near Dark starring Bill “Finger Lickin’ Good” Paxton and Lance Hendrickson.
There aren’t too many extras on this DVD, however, the few that are they are wroth watching. There are deleted scenes, of which include lots of nice close ups of the two lead actors. There are two featurettes, one has the two other stars of the film, the Mercedes convertible, which the boys drive and the 1968 Dodge Charger, which the Vampire drives. The other featurette is a spotlight on Brendan Fehr.
This is by no means a classic, but if you want a good Saturday Night Rental, it is certainly worth it.
Tomb Raider (Starring Chris Barrie)
Reviewed by Rebecca Barber, Suze Campagna, diana dougherty and Bruce Rowan
Yes, THAT Chris Barrie. Our favorite smeghead is featured in his first major motion picture. To be honest, he was the major reason we four went to see it. We were pleased to discover that he's in about 1/3 of the film and, of course, he's wonderful. But we digress...
We enjoyed almost everything about the film. The action scenes were exciting, the fight choreography was excellent, the set design was terrific and the special effects were pretty darn impressive (Angelina Jolie's breasts notwithstanding). However, the driving scenes in London, especially those on the motorcycle, were disappointing. They seemed jerky and difficult to follow, especially in light of the energetic yet smooth cinematography of the rest of the film. We thought the soundtrack was amazing - full of thumping bass and pounding beats evoking the feel of the video game and wholly appropriate for the film.
Not that you have to have played the video game to enjoy the film. On the contrary, none of us had played the game and we had no trouble following along. In many ways, it was written for fans of the game. It was as if we were joining the main trio in the middle of their adventures; reminiscent of Buckaroo Banzai.
There was some pretty good groundwork done in terms of the three primary characters - all of the actors we were happy to discover online afterwards had signed for additional films. Lara (Jolie), her butler Hillary (Barrie) and computer whiz Bryce (Noah Taylor, best known in the US for his work in Shine as the middle David Helfgott) all have instant rapport with one another. You feel immediately that these people have spent years together and have an intimate knowledge of one another’s strengths and weaknesses.
All of us liked Lara as a character. We knew who she was and why she was the way she was. The flashbacks of her father began to feel a little contrived but, as with many first films with a hopefulness for a series of films to follow, the filmmakers try a little bit too hard to get the audience to sympathize with Lara. We enjoyed having a strong female lead. A strong female lead that got dirty, actually sweat and got winded.
If you're reading this, chances are you've watched one or two films or television programs from England. So you'll be able to spot a bad fake accent a mile away. Jolie's wasn't bad, Diana thought that Jon Voight was creepy with an English accent and Noah Taylor is Australian so he sounds just fine.
To wrap it up - we liked this movie and we recommend it. See it in the theatre and just enjoy the ride. You don't want to miss Chris Barrie in bed on the big screen do you? Like THAT'S going to make it in the trailers!
Reviewed by Suze Campagna
Finding Neverland is the story of James M. Barrie, the playwright who wrote Peter Pan. Barrie had been a successful playwright in England, until the point was the movie begins, when he writes a big flop. Undiscouraged he goes to the park with his dog, where he meets the Davies boys and their widowed mother. He befriends the boys and begins to spend more and more time with them and less with his wife. Through this friendship he develops Peter Pan.
Johnny Depp rarely fails in his choice of scripts and again he has succeeded in this film. There is a lot of pulling at your heart strings and the characters are as well developed as the storyline. It was a beautiful tale from start to finish and as entertaining as the actual play.
Scooby Doo-Where are You?
Reviewed by Suze Campagna
When You first heard they were making a live action movie of Scooby Doo, you may have been a bit skeptical. And if you are a huge fan of Scooby and the gang, you may be right. However, if you are just a casual view, this film was made for you.
The movie opens with Scooby and the gang at the end of a chase. In the post interview with the press, Fred takes all the credit, much to the chagrin of Velma. A debate ensues and the Scooby gang is broken up. Two years later each former member receives and invitation to from the owner of Spooky Island. (Wonderfully played by Rowan Atkinson) Spooky Island is a college spring break resort/amusement park. The gang is reluctantly reunited and realizes that they need each other to bring out their own unique skills and that they work best as a team to solve the case.
The story is very Scooby Doo esque, the film is very funny and most of the acting was good. Freddie Prinze Jr. actually did make a decent blond. Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne was great, though at times you could see a bit of Buffy coming out. There is an excellent performance by Matthew Lillard as Shaggy. He really had the voice down and it was easy to forget that he was not the original cartoon Shaggy. The only disappointment was Linda Cardenilli as Velma. Aside from the fact that she was Waaay to skinny, she played the character as annoying and whinny. I don’t recall the cartoon Velma being that bad.
The villain in the story was a pleasant surprise. Which I’m sure everyone will enjoy.
If you miss it on the big screen, it’s not a huge loss, but do rent it, it’s worth a good laugh.
DVD Review By Suze Campagna
For obvious reasons, very rarely is a film made that is true to the book. Even rarer is a film that is better than the book. The book Holes by Louis Sachar is excellent; it would be difficult to make something better than that. But somehow the film performance outshines the written word. Perhaps because Sachar also wrote the screenplay, perhaps the story was written to lend itself to the big screen, perhaps it was “Disney Magic”, or perhaps it was the fantastic performances by the entire cast.
Fairly newcomer to the big screen, Shai LaBoeuf, plays Stanley Yelnats IV, a boy whose family has had a curse on the males for several generations. Stanley is convicted of a crime he did not commit and sentenced to 18 moths at Camp Green Lake, run by Sigourney Weaver as the Warden and Jon Voight as Mr. Sir. At the camp, the boys must dig holes in a dried up lake. The boys of Tent D are a bunch of odd characters and all the actors are close to newcomers and ALL of them turn in fantastic performances. Watch for them, these boys should be up and coming stars.
Patricia Arquette and Dule Hill’s (West Wing’s Charlie Young) performances as Kate Bartlow and Sam the Onion Man will move you to tears.
It does have the expected Disney ending, but in this film, it’s needed, making it a warm film for the whole family.
Reviewed By Suze Campagna
Bill Paxton’s directing debut was described by him as “a good old fashioned ax murder story.” It’s told in flashback by Matthew McConaughhey’s character. He tells the tale to an FBI agent of his childhood, growing up with his only family, being his father (played by Paxton) and his brother. It was a normal life until the day his father claimed to have a vision from God that demons were among them cleverly disguised as humans and it was up to their family to kill the demons and not the innocents.
The acting started off rather poorly, especially with the two boys, but as the story progressed it improved dramatically (No pun intended). The story captured interest, but moved slowly even with the twist at the end. It left you feeling like you have just watched a really long, not very good X-Files episode where you weren’t really sure what the truth is. I’m sure the truth is out there, but this film is a renter.
The Whole Wide World
DVD Review by Suze Campagna
A couple months ago during some big awards ceremony in Hollywood between the word, “And the Oscar goes to Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, we heard the words, “and the Oscar for the best Actress in a Supporting Role goes to Renee Zellweger.” And if you weren’t still reeling for the Lord of the Rings sweep, you may have heard her thank Vincent D’Onofrio. If you what to know why, I suggest you get offline right now and go rent The Whole Wide World. In fact, I don't care why, just rent it anyway.
The film is based on the autobiographical book, The One Who Walked Alone; The story of Novalyne Price’s two year relationship with Robert E. Howard, the pulp writer of the 20’s and 30’s best known for creating Conan The Barbarian, Red Sonja, and Kull the Conqueror, among others. He also wrote poetry and is credited with creating the fantasy sub-genre of swords and sorcery.
The screenplay was written with the help of Mrs. Price. First time director Dan Ireland believed Vincent D’Onofrio was the only actor who could play Howard and he was correct; Novalyne Price agreed when she saw his performance. Renee Zellweger portrays Price, a strong willed and intelligent who may have been the only female who could have had a relationship with Howard, besides his mother.
The film takes us on a journey of love and the madness of the writer. D’Onofrio explains in the commentary, that he believes Howard would be declared bi-polar if he were alive today.
Both actors give a fantastic performance and say a lot not in words but in actions. Just watching Zellweger you can see all the mixed emotions Price must have gone through and D’Onofrio displays the madness and tenderness of Howard with great passion.
I you can get through the gushing of D’Onofrio and Ireland over Renee, the commentary is well worth listening to. There is a lot of interesting tid bits and insight. If you can’t get past the gushing, there is a wonderful interview with Renee herself, which is very enjoyable.
Even if you don’t care for romances, Robert E. Howard’s to the fantasy genre alone make this film worth watching.
Ghost of the Abyss
Review by Suze Campagna and diana dougherty
There are so many movies out in the theater right now that you would probably enjoy in the comfort of your home, then a movie theater. This film is not one of them.
Originally out review for this hour long picture was going to be direct and to the point: Bill Paxton in 3-d on s seven story tall IMAX screen…sigh. But this film filled us with such emotion we knew that it deserves something closer to a proper review.
Ghost of the Abyss, the new film from Academy Award winner James Cameron is an IMAX 3-d extravaganza. Cameron, is still obviously obsessed with the Titanic, convinces Titanic Star and long time friend, Bill Paxton, to come along for this trip of a life time.
He wasn’t kidding, Paxton was the perfect choice for the narrator, as he played the archeologist in the film Titanic.
In the mysterious depths of the Atlantic Ocean, in two small submarines, Cameron, Paxton and a plethora of scientist and Titanic scholars make a number of dives to the site were the mighty ship lays. The IMAX 3-D enhances the experience to the point were you begin to feel like you are almost there with them, particularly during the team meetings. And when Bill looks scared, you felt scared too, and when he pulled out a barf bag during a resurface…well. (Indeed, an usher, prior to the start of the film, made an announcement that if you start to feel woozy you should take off your 3-D glasses until you feel better.)
As with all of his cinematic work, Cameron wasn’t satisfied until he was able to push the bounders as far as he could. He brought with him, a HUGE submersible light in order to light the ship to get better shots and he brought two smaller remote controlled bots with a camera, which the crew dubbed as Jake and Elwood. To go into places inside the ship that no other filmmaker or researcher was able to go.
In addition, he later added ghostly figures walking through the ship superimposed over photos taken before her departure, to give the audience a better sense of the story of those who lost their lives, the beauty and grace of the Titanic itself and her story, which will be remembered for generations.
Perhaps the most poignant moment in the film came on September 11th –the crew was excited about a recent find on the ship when the news came about the horrendous terrorist attacks. Cameron had been on a dive when the event occurred; it brought back a flood of memories, as Paxton tried to explain to Cameron what had happened. They began to question their own quest for finding answers about the historic liner; and in the end they seemed to have not only more respect for the loss of life in 1912, but also a better understanding of the devastating g loss of life in an unexpected and sudden way.
This is one of the finest films we’ve seen in ages and seriously recommend that you see it in the IMAX Theater.
Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
Reviewed by Suze Campagna
Lots of action, lots of narrow escapes, lots of chicks kicking butt, lots of cameos, and lots of skimpy cloths. Not bad for two hours of mindless entertainment.
The film was enjoyable to watch, and Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu looked like they had a great time making the film. In fact the Angels seem to have more fin than the audience. The humor was not up to par with the last film, but it did have its moments, particularly Bernie Mac as Bosley (Bill Murray fans, no worries, the oddity is explained.) Matt LaBlanc’s Character, Jason, has become an action hero superstar, and John Cleese is Alex’s father. Also returning is Luke Wilson as Pete, Natalie’s boyfriend and of course John Forsythe as the voice of Charlie.
Demi Moore played an excellent former Angel turned villain and at 41 looked as good as the younger Angels. Her performance was also equal to her younger counterparts.
The plot was not as strong as it could have been and many scenes seemed contrived, basically to put the Angels in tight clothing, though it really didn’t move the plot along. The premise it that two rings, each carried by a different FBI agent, that contain information of people in witness protection. The information can only be downloaded if the two rings are together. The first ring is carried by Robert Patrick and the second is carried by Bruce Willis. The FBI has taken the rings and I selling the information off to various mobs. It’s up to the Angels to recover the rings before the witnesses are killed. There are a couple of plot twists, which are enough to keep your attention.
There were a few of unexpected cameos, including the Olsen twins as future Angels, Jaclyn Smith advising Dylan in her identity crisis, Crispen Glover as the mysterious “Thin Man”, Carrie Fisher as a nun, Rap star Eve as herself and several motor cross racers as well as Carey Harts fiancée, Pink.
So, despite the weak plot and contrived scenes, there is still enough to make this film worth your while.
Reviewed by Suze Campagna and Scott Busman
This is the best snow movie since Vertical Limit. Ok, we know what some of you are thinking, “That wouldn’t take much.” Seriously though, film is a mixture of Stand by Me, Aliens, Outbreak and The X-Files. Sounds strange, but it was actually good. The first 20 minutes of set up you couldn’t tell where the story was going, but it didn’t matter, our attention was with the getting to know and care about the characters and their history. Then it got creepy and icky and made you think you really don’t ever want to be in the mind of Stephen King.
It is best to see the film with few expectations because the surprises are and will keep you on the edge of your seat biting your nails. The acting is good as well, a very subdued Jason Lee, and almost unrecognizable Donnie Walhburg, and the brilliant Morgan Freeman, who was sadly cursed with bad hair.
We did learn several lessons, which we will now share in case you missed the film.
1. Don’t eat berries in the dark.
2. Boys, writing your name in the snow, may be a mistake
3. If you have something moving trapped in your toilet, just focus on keeping the lid down.
4. Duct tape should always be kept in a reachable and visible place.
5. Watch out for bloody trails in the snow.
6. When all the animals seem to be running away, follow the fleeing bunnies.
7. In case you haven’t learned this from The X-Files, men in black helicopters are NOT your friends.
So if you like to be scared, this is a good and useful film. And we will end with this thought: we both ordered white sauce for dinner.
Big Dimb Fun
Reviewed by Suze Campagna and diana dougherty
This was an enjoyable ride from start to finish. We went into the film knowing that we would at least like the scenes that were in the trailer, but we were delightfully surprised how much we enjoyed the film overall. It is pure escapist fun. It opens with a spectacular (and very funny) action sequence and doesn’t slow down from there.
The format is still very much the same from the television series, and it’s obvious the writers have great affection for it and remain true to the spirit of it in the film while giving something new at the same time.
The three new Angels: Dylan (Drew Barrymore), Natalie (Cameron Diaz), and Alex (Lucy Liu) feel more three dimensional that their television counterparts as we are given glimpses into their personal lives, which makes you care about them even more. The actresses weren’t afraid to have fun with their roles and appeared to be having the time of their lives making the film. Bill Murray as Bosley has several wonderful scenes-our two favorites being the sumo wrestling with Tim Curry and his jail sequence.
The entire supporting cast was wonderful from villains to boyfriends, all were superb. We especially loved Luke Wilson and Tom Green.
The soundtrack seemed to consist of every pop song that had to do with angels, which was a running gag throughout the film.
This is one of those increasingly rare instances where you should see it on the big screen with an audience. You won’t be disappointed.
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