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THE HOT ROCK, CINDERELLA LIBERTY, ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL and DISTANT VOICES STILL LIVES

Monday, June 18, 2012

THIS MEANS WAR: THREE'S COMPANY


There are tons of movies released every year and the fact is all of them can't be the most stupendous movie ever made. But there are many that fall into the category of fun movies that offer no redeeming value whatsoever and yet are filled with fun and energy. THIS IS WAR is one of those movies, a film that's fun to watch and may be worth watching again and yet it offers no social redeeming value. So what? It's a movie kids!

FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are two CIA agents for whom action comes easily. Both are experts in their field and the best agents around. They're also best friends. When an operation goes from covert to public awareness, the duo finds themselves behind desks at the home office in LA.

FDR is a ladies man, always on the prowl. Tuck is more subtle with a failed marriage and young son he adores. When they find themselves stuck at home, Tuck decides its time to find someone special and pops his info, or the info he creates, on to a dating web site. There he meets Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).

Lauren is an up and coming single in LA as well. Her job has her testing products for a consumer group. Her long time girlfriend Trish (Chelsea Handler) feels that she needs to get out. To give her a nudge, she posts her name and info on the same couple's web site Tuck visits but with info that Lauren isn't quite happy with.

Lauren and Tuck set up a meet but Tuck has FDR as back up, hanging out in a nearby video store. The meeting goes well and ends soon after they meet with the promise of a full fledged date to follow. On the way home, Lauren stops to rent a video at the same store FDR is at. With no clue who she is, he hits on her and through a series of circumstances gets her to go out with him. The result is two best friends dating the same girl with no clue until each shows the other of their latest love interest. What follows is a game of trying to one up each other to see who gets the girl.

Using the resources of the CIA the duo spy on each other's dates as well as gain information on Lauren. Using that information they both treat her to some stupendous dates doing the things she likes. Things go so well that she has a hard time deciding just who she wants to be with.

While all of this unsanctioned surveillance is going on, bad guy Heinrich (Til Schweiger) is trying to find Tuck and FDR. When that opening sequence to the film went bad, the pair had killed Heinrich's brother and he's now set on revenge. Tracking down the pair to LA you know it's just a matter of time before a face off results and the chances of Lauren being in the middle of things is pretty good.

The movie follows the usual Hollywood pattern of mixing comedy and action with comedy being the main focus. The situations that the heroes put themselves in trying to impress this new woman in their lives make for some funny scenes. Each time she mentions something she likes or dislikes about them, they attempt to prove her wrong by either doing what she wants to overcoming the things she might dislike about them. All in all it makes for some funny moments.

Best of all with this film is the ease that the characters and actors bring to the story. It never feels forced of fake even though being fake is what most of their actions involved. I've said before the proof of a good actor is to not feel like they're acting and all three here display that in spades.

More than anything the movie is fun. It delivers the right combination of action, comedy and romance that create an enjoyable watching experience. I wasn't sure what to expect from the trailer for this film and actually thought it would be something light but more mediocre than it was. When I was finished I knew that this was a movie I could watch and enjoy just as much a second or third time around. If you're looking for something fun to watch then make sure you rent this or even pick it up. It's worth watching.

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GOON: HOCKEY WITH BLOOD, GUTS AND HEART


Sean William Scott has had a career filled with ups and downs. It seems for every movie he's made in the past that seemed to launch him into the attention of the press he'd make another movie that would give them pause and cause them to ignore him. The sad thing is that in the good movies and the bad I've always felt that he added more than he took away from those films. COP OUT, one of my least favorite films, is an example of that. So with the release of GOON it looks like it's time for the press to hail him once again and deservedly so.

Scott plays Doug Glatt, a nobody bouncer at a local bar who likes hockey but not as much perhaps as his best friend Ryan (Jay Baruchel who co-wrote the screenplay). Ryan has his own cable program and podcast where he trash talks with the best of them, more often than not in the most lewd language possible. At a game one night after Ryan insults a player, the player hops out of the penalty box to attack Ryan calling him a fag. Not a smart thing to do since Doug's brother is gay and he takes offense to it, smashing the player and knocking him out, attracting the attention of the team manager.

Doug is approached by the manager to come play for the team. With no hockey skills and almost unable to stand on skates, Doug is insulted by the team captain. Of course this results in Doug taking out half of his own team but earning their respect at the same time. Doug becomes the team's "goon", the muscle or bad guy whose job it is to inflict as much physical damage on the other team as possible. He's good at it, enough so that he gets plenty of press and is given the chance to play for the team manager's brother in a league that's a step up.

In this league Doug has a new job. He's not just a goon but he's also there to help with the team's star player Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Gondrin). Laflamme was knocked into a coma by the league's main goon Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) who was suspended afterwards. Now he's lost his mojo and skates more out of fear than skill when on the ice. The team's manager is hoping that with Doug at his side, Laflamme can come out of his fear and take the team to the championship.

Laflamme has taken that road to superstardom that spirals down fast. Fast women, drugs and more are his interest now and he shows no respect for the game, his team and for especially Doug. It's up to Doug to change all that. And before the final reel rolls, the inevitable match up between Doug and Rhea is bound to happen.

The character of Doug Glatt is well thought out and played by Scott. This is a man who isn't the brightest person on this planet and who knows that all too well. His family, all in the medical profession, sees his job as demeaning while Doug realizes that he doesn't have the smarts to go into their field but that he excels at this one. Early on he talks to Ryan about not having a thing in his life that sets him apart from everyone else. Being on this team is the first time he feels he has accomplished anything. Where some actors could have overdone this simplistic seeming character, Scott brings him to life in a way few would be capable of.

A side story involves Doug's romantic life when he becomes involved with a young woman named Eva (Allison Pill). A hockey groupie who has a boyfriend already, Eva finds that her attraction to Doug might be more than she bargained for. Here is another character that Doug, the loser at the beginning of the film, has an effect on.

Being centered in the world of hockey there is plenty of bloodshed seen on screen here as well as enough hardcore language to make a sailor blush. But that's the world that we're being made a part of while watching this film so know it going in. It's the same world we visited once before in the Paul Newman film SLAPSHOT.

The world of movies has given us a number of characters that were the underdogs that we found ourselves rooting for. Here we have another one. Doug Glatt, aka Doug the Thug, is a character who knows his limitations and who attempts to rise above and make something of himself.  He is the perennial nice guy placed in a world where he must hurt people, all the while telling them he's sorry. And he's someone that I think most anyone would love to consider someone they'd want to spend time with. As for now it's worth spending 92 minutes with him by watching this DVD.

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THE WOMAN IN BLACK: HAMMER RETURNS!


If you're like me you grew up watching horror films made by Hammer Studios. These were not your run of the mill horror films but classily made films that featured some of the classic horror icons like Dracula and Frankenstein but in more of a gothic location. This was a world of castles and mansions, of men dressed in fine clothing and women in low cut laced gowns. The horror films made by Hammer had style and class and a certain amount of eeriness to them instead of gore. The studio fell on hard times but is in the midst of a return and their first major entry is a grand one called THE WOMAN IN BLACK.

It's the turn of the century and Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is at his wits end. A solicitor by trade Kipps has fallen on hard times, having great difficulty in dealing with the death of his wife several years earlier during childbirth. His son has grown but Kipps' melancholia remains these years later. So much so that he's fallen on hard times. The firm he works for gives Kipps a last chance to redeem himself by sending him to the small town of Cryphin Gifford to the Eel Marsh House where the estate of Mrs. Drablow, a recently deceased woman, must be settled. Kipps heads out hoping to reunite with his son and his nanny on the weekend.

On his train ride to the town Kipps meets a gentleman by the name of Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds). Sam is also en route to the same location and offers Kipps a ride to the local inn. But what greets Kipps when he enters is not what he expected: a cold shoulder from all but the inn keeper's wife who offers him a small room in the attic. He receives more of the same when he contacts the local solicitor who's been handling the affairs of the estate. Given the brush off and a carriage to take him to the train station, he pays the man to take him to the estate itself.

If the creepy factor weren't already oozing off the screen it does so in spades as Kipps makes his way to the estate. The mansion is located on a small island with a causeway that twists and turns up to it. All along nothing but the marsh can be seen, a gooey water trap if ever there was one, with plenty of sea beyond. The tides rise and close off the causeway throughout the day and the carriage driver agrees to return later to take Kipps to Sam's house for a dinner invitation.

Walking on to the house Kipps is greeted by the best of gothic sights, a mansion in disrepair covered with vines on the outside and cobwebs within. He lights some candles and gathers what paperwork he finds and begins working. But noises within the house cause him to stop and seek what is creating the sounds. As Kipps passes from one room to another, we have the chance to see the woman in black as her spectral image lingers over Kipps without allowing him to see her. She's everywhere yet nowhere in this house and the director of the film does a fine job in creating the atmosphere of her presence without seeing her at all times.

Kipps eventually goes to dinner at Sam's and meet's his wife. She begins to tell him things that will lead him to discover the truth behind the town's fright and the reason they want him gone. Her tale and other clues lead Kipps to find out about the sister of the Mrs. Drablow who was sent away while her son was adopted by Drablow and her husband. On a trip home one night, their carriage slid into the marsh and the boy was drowned, his body never recovered. Now when the woman in black is seen a child in the town dies.

Kipps continues his work, dealing with both the house and its foreboding inhabitant and continuing to deal with the loss of his wife. The intrusion of the woman in black in his business as well as the lives of others becomes too much and he seeks a way to appease her and put her soul to rest. This becomes all the more important as he has no way of reaching his son en route to the town to possibly be her next victim.

The movie does a wonderful job of offering us teasing scares that never go over the top. The chilling moments are found from start to finish, the locale's offering the feelings that something bad is going to happen and the acting complements the storytelling that delivers chills rather than one jump scene after another (though there are those). Best of all is seeing Radcliffe in a role other than Harry Potter, proving that there is a chance of his becoming an actor that can handle more than the namesake that brought him to attention.

The movie is one of the old time scare films that doesn't rely on gore, doesn't rely on a hatchet wielding menace or a nightmare creation that sucks out your soul as you sleep. This is good old fashioned ghost story that makes your skin crawl while you wait for the next scare and that's a good thing to see. Welcome back Hammer.

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MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4 GHOST PROTOCOL: DYNAMITE ACTION FLICK!


There are plenty of films turned into franchises in this world whose end results offer lackluster movies that don't make you want to revisit the characters and events unfolding on screen. And then there are movies like this one that make you wish they'd just get on with it and start filming the next one so you could enjoy it just as much.

The film opens with Tom Cruise's character Ethan Hunt in a prison in Russia. His team breaks him out along with a contact he made in prison only to drop him off and then find out what they're next assignment is. Of course it's a near impossible job for them to pull off but that's what they do. A terrorist has the means to launch a full scale nuclear attack on the world if he gets the launch codes. These codes are locked up in the Kremlin and Hunt and his team, should they decided to accept their mission, is to get hold of the launch codes first.

Of course they accept the mission. Would there be a film any other way? Using disguises and some nifty new tech toys, Hunt and compatriot Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) make their way into the Kremlin only to discover the codes have already been lifted. Not only that, Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) the terrorist, has set a bomb inside the Kremlin that explodes just as Ethan and Benji attempt to escape.

Ethan is knocked out by the bomb and wakes to find himself captive of the police who blame him for the attack. He escapes custody and finds himself picked up by the IMF Secretary (Tom Wilkinson) and his assistant William Brandt (Jeremy Renner). The Secretary tells him he will have to turn him over to the authorities. That is unless he suddenly escapes and heads for a secret train equipped with the tools he'll need to find the real culprits. Of course this mission is off the books and unauthorized which is where the term ghost protocol comes up. Before he can finish, the Secretary is killed in the car and Hunt and Brandt escape to head to the train car where they meet up with Benji and Jane Carter (Paula Patton).

Hunt explains the situation to them and offers them the mission. Yes, they accept and things begin to move forward as the team heads to Dubai where they know Hendricks is about to purchase the last of the equipment he needs to launch his attack. In the famous sky reaching hotel located there the assassin who killed the agent with the original codes (and Carter's boyfriend) is about to make her exchange with Hendricks. But the team has a plan to make con both parties and retrieve the information. Of course things don't go as planned and suddenly we get the chance to see Ethan scaling a glass windowed building in an attempt to over ride the hotel elevators.

So you get the idea here? To give all the rest away would be to spoil what happens and the thrills and spills that the makers of this film obviously worked long and hard to bring together. The details offered so far are nothing more than the set up that makes the action sequences that follow all that more spectacular. They ruin nothing so don't fear that a spoiler alert was needed. Much of that information could have been gleaned from the trailer.

With all the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE films the thing is to get into it, to enjoy it, to toss out any concepts of reality and believability and just have a good time. This film offers a fun time at the movies in spades and will make you tear up at the right times, clench your fists when the bad guys seem to get away with things and make your palms sweat as you watch the team almost blow the whole mission on more than one occasion. On top of that you have two underlying stories fomenting beneath the obvious one that wrap themselves into the main plot and then find themselves resolved before the end.

One of the best things is that the film ends without a clue as to another film being made or even considered but left open enough that should they decide to do one they can. As a fan of all four films this is once when I hope a franchise does continue. The films have all offered great entertainment value and enough mystery to keep you guessing until the end of each. GHOST PROTOCOL falls right in line with the earlier offerings.

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CHRONICLE: UP UP AND AWAY!


What would you do if you suddenly had powers that no one else had except two friends? Would you use those powers for good or abuse them? Such becomes the question by the end of the film CHRONICLE.

Andy Dettmer (Dane DeHaan) is the typical high school loser in the midst of his senior year. Abused by his father, he chooses to buy a camcorder and shoot everything that happens in his life including the attacks by his dad. Of course walking around all the time with a camera on your shoulder does little to make him any more popular at school.

The only friend Andy has in his life is his popular cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell). Matt gets along with everyone and though he and Andy haven't chummed around for a while, he still tries to involve him. The latest event he talks him into is going to a rave on the outskirts of town. There Andy discovers that the popular kid in school, Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) actually knows who he is from their time in school together and because he's friends with Matt.

The three of them leave the rave when Matt finds something, a hole in the ground nearby that seems fairly deep. They do a little investigating and find a glowing crystal deep in the ground that seems to have tendrils moving inside of it. As they touch the crystal the camera jerks around and suddenly it's the next day. To their surprise they discover that they have telekinetic powers now.

Their powers progress and where they first start off doing goofy things like making baseballs sway when tossed to hit one another ala JACKASS, they soon discover that by careful manipulation they can fly. Apparently none of them has read or seen Spider-man or they would realize that with great power comes great responsibility.

As the film progresses, we watch Andy's slow collapse. While he has this enormous power, perhaps more so than his two friends, his fragile mind can't handle it when coupled with the abuse he's endured by both his father and the kids at school. He becomes a time bomb waiting to be unleashed and when he does there is no telling what will happen next.

As I watched this film I was reminded of AKIRA, the classic Japanese animated film where a youngster suddenly gains power and has the potential to destroy the world. But instead of a film that spends most of its time showing the main character overflowing with power, this movie tends to uncoil slowly as we watch these characters go from normal teens to potential monsters. You can feel nothing but sympathy for Andy after the physical and mental beatings he endures and at the same time fear him in what he becomes.

The effects are well done and make the whole concept believable. The joy that these three have when they test out their powers makes for moments that are amusing and then fearful. Best of all they seem real.

One note for those who are not fans of the genre. The film is another of those hand held camera movies where the camera jumps most of the time like BLAIR WITCH or CLOVERFIELD. But as Andy's powers increase he begins to stop holding the camera and guide it with his mind instead offering a more fluid movement to the scenes, making the camera motion almost a character as well.

Some will hate this movie while others will love it but on the whole I think it falls into that medium area of being a good movie that you won't watch over and over again. It is worth seeing at least once, but as for multiple viewings I just don't see it happening. Well made, well acted, well directed, but ultimately just a fun film for the moment.

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THE AGRESSION SCALE: HOME ALONE WITH BLOOD


As with the title here, some have called THE AGRESSION SCALE a version of HOME ALONE with the results of the traps seen on screen. That's an apt description. Does it make a good movie? When it comes to originality yes, but in follow through it heads to the mediocre level.

Ray Wise plays a mobster just released from jail. Before he heads out of the country and can stand trial he gives his top man Dana Ashbrook an order: find the person who took $500,000 of his money and kill him and his entire family and do it in 48 hours. With few leads to follow Ashbrook and his team go down the list of names they've been given, each leading them closer to the suspect. Not wanting to leave witnesses, they also kill each person they come into contact with.

So where is this suspect? He's just remarried a woman who brings along with her late teens daughter, a girl who wants nothing to do with this family or with her new step brother. That stepbrother has a bit of a problem and was recently released from a mental hospital. It seems that he has a tendency towards extreme violence, something measured by what they call the aggression scale. His scores far exceed anything seen before but medication seems to be helping.

The bad guys follow their leads until they arrive at the just purchased home of the newly married couple. A combination of torture (not lengthy) and murder leave only the kids left to deal with. But as this team begins to search the house for them, the young boy turns the tables on them, leaving traps and wounding them as he helps his new sister escape.

The team tracks the kids down not just through the house but in the surrounding woods as well. Along the way they have serious wounds inflicted upon them by the resourceful kid, some going so far as to be killed in self defense. He may just be a pre-teen but these goons have no idea who they're up against.

The idea of having a troubled teen taking on tough guy gangsters sounds like an interesting one. The traps he makes for them are well thought out and vicious at times. When you add the touch of the aggression scale psychological make up to the mix it makes it even more interesting.

What stops the movie from being great though is the acting. It's not terrible but it's not quite that good either. Worst of all is the step sister who's screaming while attempting to hide from the bad guys makes her one of the stupidest victims of all time. Hint: when you're being chased, never scream to give away your location.

One interesting note among the cast is the coupling of Wise and Ashbrook. Both were part of the now famous series TWIN PEAKS. It's nice to see them reunited here.

As I said, the movie isn't that bad and actually has some decent moments in it. You can tell that this one is a low budget flick but in the end it seems better than several big budget films I've seen in the past few years. It may not be for everyone's taste, but if you're looking for something a little different and don't have a problem with low budget style and acting, then give this one a watch.

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CORIALANUS: MODERN DAY SHAKESPEARE


Ralph Fiennes is a well known actor made more famous for playing the arch enemy of Harry Potter, Lord Vole mort, in that series of films. Surprisingly that's the most famous thing he's remembered for. Forgotten are the roles he played in QUIZ SHOW, THE ENGLISH PATIENT or RED DRAGON. So it's nice to see him return to something away from the Potter universe once more.

CORIALANUS is based on the lesser known Shakespeare play concerning the main character of the same name. But Fiennes has also taken on the role of director here and chosen to situate the story not in Shakespearean times but in the modern world, a world where wars are fought on a daily basis and bloodshed and politics are strange bedfellows. Caius Martius (Fiennes) is a solider of high standing whose escapades inspire his men and who is hailed as the warrior in chief by politicians, especially Menenius (Brian Cox). But not everyone loves this warrior.

Among those who fear and hate him are the rabble rousers whose job it is to do nothing more than stir up trouble against the status quo. This group knows less about what they really want and more about protesting than most. They are represented by politicians whose desire is for nothing more than power while preaching that they have their good will in mind. Martius remains a warrior, a man whose life is pledged to defend his country. At the same time his contempt for those he considers beneath him shines through in his every word.

Leading the rebels is Tullus Aufidious (Gerard Butler), a man who is passionate not about his social standing or the will of politicians but a true leader who wants what is best for his people. While Martius has a respect based on fear from his men, Aufidius has respect based on the love of his people. These two have collided more than once and will do so again and again until only one stands.

After a serious battle Martius is put forward to drop his warrior role and take on that of a statesman. To show their gratitude the politicians rename him Caius Martius Corialanus after the town of his last victory. Menenius sees the potential he has for this role as does his mother (Vanessa Redgrave), an overbearing woman whose own status lies in the role of her son. But Martius doesn't have the skill for politics rather saying what he believes and thinks instead of what they want him to say. His reward for his service to country is to be betrayed by the politicians who sought to use him for their own devices. Martius finds himself banished from his own country and sets out to find his destiny.

That path leads him to Aufidious and the rebels. Martius sees first hand what their life is like. He witnesses what role Aufidious plays in the lives of his people. In so doing he realizes that he must seek revenge on those who did him wrong.

The character of Corialanus is a tragic one as were most of Shakespeare's characters. Here we have a man who has dedicated his life and based his career on the country he loves only to find himself cast out by them. Eventually even the love of his mother is called to question as the film heads for the final reel.

By setting the film in the present, Fiennes has attempted to bring new life into the classic work of its author. Much of the dialogue fits well within this setting, discussions of warrior spirit and the like. The war torn streets seem recognizable as those of European world where fighting continues to this day. It becomes believable. And the actions of politicians who do little more than seek power fits so well into the current world that one wonders how many acts displayed here take place daily in the halls of power.

This may not be enough to gain popularity for the movie or for Shakespeare. But then it might open the world of the author for younger viewers who never seem to want to take a chance on anything considered classic, instead opting only for what's new. But if you enjoy the words and writings of Shakespeare then you'll want to give this one a watch. If not, watch anyway to make a better equipped judgment. Not for all tastes, those who would like something different than usual should seek this one out.

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GHOST RIDER-SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE: DISAPPOINTING SEQUEL


I was a fan of the first GHOST RIDER film that starred Nicholas Cage as the motorcycle rider who sold his soul based on the Marvel comic character. Not many were fans of the film and were disappointed in the direction the film chose to follow. But then fans of an original piece of fiction seeing it come to life on the big screen rarely find it satisfying. Never having been a major fan of the comic, I found the movie well made and entertaining. I can't say the same for GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE.

Johnny Blaze (Cage) is still possessed as the devil's spirit of vengeance, a wraith like character that searches the globe to collect the souls owed to the demon. Looking for a way to void the contract he signed when he was young, a contract that tricked him as the devil is wont to do, Blaze is told of an opportunity to break free. 

Approached by a monk named Moreau (Idris Elba), he's told there is a young boy who needs his help. For his protection Moreau agrees to assist Blaze find release from his contract and the chance to be completely human once more. Of course he takes the offer.

The story follows the two trying to protect the boy along with his mother. Along the way we get bits and pieces of just who the boy is and why he needs protecting. Comic fans will know right away that this character is important to the Ghost Rider mythology. The boy's name is Danny Ketch and in the comics he too became the Ghost Rider. But none of that comes up in this film, just that he is the offspring of someone completely evil who has come to collect before his next birthday.

So what's good about this movie? Some of the special effects are good while others are lackluster. The story seems weak. The worst of it all is twofold. First there is Cage's acting. I like Cage. I've enjoyed many of the movies that critics have hated. But here he overacts to such an extreme that it's noticeable. It's as if he showed up and staggered through the role just to get a paycheck. Watching this made me realize just how bad he could have been had they chosen him to play Superman like they considered some years ago.

The second worst thing is the direction. A director should be able to coax a decent performance from each and every actor in a film. Here the acting is negligible. But worse than that are the attempts to show action that don't work in the least. I'm not a fan of the whole hand held camera that gets tossed around technique. It's used to extremes here. A word to all directors and cinematographers: if you just make a camera jump around and look sloppy it doesn't make a scene look like its action packed. It just makes it look like you can't hold a camera steady. Stop doing it. We paid money to watch a movie and would enjoy being able to tell what we are looking at rather than some stupid attempt to look artsy.

There is no way I can recommend this movie, even for Cage or Marvel Comic fans. The best moment in the movie revolves around a rather tasteless joke that is still funny. When asked what happens when he pees while being the Ghost Rider we get a glimpse from behind of him shooting out flames. If that's the best thing to be found here, you can imagine just how bad the film is.

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BETTY WHITE: CHAMPION FOR ANIMALS


Another short review, not because what is offered is bad but because there it little to say about it. There is no plot and Betty White whose name appears loud and clear on the front has little to do with the end product.

Snippets of interviews with White as she talks about her love of animals are mingled with documentary styled footage taken at various locales around the world. Beginning with some of the greatest National Parks in the US, the film shows wildlife from all of the countries and attempts to have the viewer realize the importance of preserving some of these areas. The best part about that is that it doesn't do so in an abrasive manner but shows each area and discusses the wild life located there. The viewer has the chance to make their own mind up about the importance of these areas.

White is on hand to discuss her love of the animals and some of the areas, even relating her own personal experiences with her family when she was a child visiting Yellowstone every summer. She also discusses a project she's involved in that connects disabled children with horses.

The DVD is an enjoyable entertainment for fans of channels like NatGEO or Animal Planet. It's something that the kids can watch and hopefully get a feel of the importance of nature. Fans of animal films will want to add this to their collection.

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KING OF TRIADS: BLAND MARTIAL ARTS


There are great martial arts films, there as so so martial arts films and there are the truly bad martial arts films that make fans turn their DVD discs into shuriken. KING OF TRIADS falls into that last category. Try as I might I wanted to write something at least respective of those involved but I couldn't do so.

Taking place in present time a gang leader dies and leaves his empire to his two children. But this doesn't set well with members of the gang who pretty much run things on their own, trying to take money and power from the siblings. Little do they realize who they're dealing with. And that about sums up the plot for this movie.

Yes, there is a twist in the story that I won't spoil here for those who want to take the time to watch every martial arts film ever made, but it's not much of a surprise twist and it's not that satisfying as well. I'm not student of the genre but I've read reports that many of the stars in this film are some of the best in martial arts films but highly underused here. I don't think that's difficult to believe.

A few of the action sequences are well done with a several decent fight sequences. But on the whole this film leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps there was much lost in translation when this film was dubbed but my guess is that's not the reason I didn't enjoy it that much. With the number of really good martial arts films out there to be seen from the classics to new releases, my advice would be to pass this one by. Short review? Yep it is but then something like this deserves it.

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