6 - Volcanic
5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smolder
2 - Room Temperature
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished

A - Multiple Viewing Possibilities
B - Deserves Another Look
C - Once Should Suffice


U - 571
With McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi,
Jake Weber, David Keith
Directed by Jonathan Mostow
The definitive submarine movie of all time is obviously Wolfgang Petersen's German classic Das Boot (The Boat). An admirable attempt at giving the film a run for its money,
U-571 is loosely based on actual WWII events where the Allies were having a hard time cracking the Nazi's code because of their complicated Enigma Machine, sending and receiving messages that are indecipherable. When a German sub got stranded in the middle of the ocean, a special Allied military team was sent in the guise of a German rescue sub to intercept one of these devices on board. Tight, tense action and a claustrophobic atmosphere with incredible sound design make up the driving force behind this film, the Hollywood pretty boy and tough guy syndrome a slight factor, but not overpowering the action-suspense intention.
4 / B
- PB

This IMAX film focuses on the extreme sports movement that just gets bigger each year. From high flying daredevil motorcycle tricksters, BMX, skateboards and downhill luge, the awe-inspiring footage and interviews pull you into the energy, excitement, madness and adrenaline. The ESPN X-Games started out with much criticism from those who believed these weren't real sports and real athletes. How wrong were they proven?! The film features the likes of Bob Burnquist, Dave Mirra, Carey Hart, Mat Hoffman, Tony Hawk and other established and rising stars of these alternative but no less relevant sports. While it clocks in at between 30 and 40 minutes, it feels like at least double that running time. Sure, the IMAX experience is incomparable, but that doesn't mean it can't translate amazingly to your small screen. With an ass-kicking soundtrack to boot, there is never a dull moment with this one.
5 / A
- PB

With Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Penn
Directed by M. Knight Shyamalan
It seems as though this film got far less hype than Shyamalan's first runaway hit,
The Sixth Sense. I don't know why, since it is as engaging and intriguing. Here we have Willis as an ordinary joe who might just have a special gift. After a train wreck with no survivors, Willis not only walks away alive, but totally unscathed. He gets approached by a vintage comic book collector with a brittle bone disease (Jackson) who seems to push him to realise this possible gift of physical superiority. Again it climaxes into an amazing finale with a mind blowing exposing conclusion. The slow pace makes the running time feel much longer, but it is well worth it for the pay-off. Don't expect a manic film - in stead prepare yourself for a moderate pace with exposing elements and incredible scenes building up to a cracker of an ending.
5 / B

- PB

With Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Based on an Internet cartoon series, this live action attempt is filled with Black/White cliches. Some of them are actually funny but mostly lean towards the tired and overplayed. Griffin leaps into the jive-ass title role as he assists an underground Black organisation to beat The Man - Whitey trying to un-hip the brothers & sisters. The few laughs are not enough to give this tired recipe a boost.
2 / C
- PB

With Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman
Directed by Stephen Hopkins
What is essentially one long interrogation, this film (based on the book Brainwashed) captures the viewer as it peels off the onionskins. Another Mexico setting (like Traffic, The Mexican and partly Blow), the place seems to be very hip of late - if only to show its underbelly (a tourism pro or con?). Gene hacks his way through the role of the high society lawyer suspected in the murder of two young girls, as we’ve become accustomed to seeing him. His conflicting tales & alibis get the detectives more tense as he seems to incriminate himself with each segment. Freeman, like Hackman, gives his usual performance - which is fair, ‘cause if you want these type of roles, you cast them. Simple. At times the pull slackens a bit, giving the film a slack sense of “who-cares”. Sometimes it feels a like a TV show - although it would make a great play. Even the opening credits looks like a television programme intro. A cool device has the characters walk in on flashbacks and/or possible versions of the events surrounding the deaths. With the young wired detective and Hackman’s young trophy wife making up the other lead characters, many assumptions can also be made exactly how they fit in. Gene is actually pretty cool in his pathetic, jumpy, cowardly portrayal as you guess who did what & why. Hackman & Freeman are also the executive producers.
3 / C
- PB

With Rolf Lassgard, Johan Widerberg, Helena Bergstrom
Directed by Colin Nutley
A touching, lovely little Swedish film about a lonely 40 year old farmer (Olof) who places an advert for a young, attractive housekeeper. A beautiful woman (Ellen) applies for the job, gets it and he falls for her slowly and heavily. His young friend (Erik) is immediately suspicious about her intentions. He claims to be the illiterate Olof’s friend and she also starts to feel for Olof. The truth of both these matters seem evident, yet you’re never quite sure which of the two are sincere or not. This very simple but beautiful film holds far more emotion than you’d think. The actors all outshine in their roles and Bergstrom’s beauty only enhances her marvelous characterization in stead of detracting from it. Under The Sun can serve as visually stunning and cerebral intensity for art house lovers as well as a great family or date film. (Although not many people would want to read subtitles on a first date, it can actually prove to be quite a reflective subject for a couple who’d been together a while). Based on H.E. Bates’s short story The Little Farm.
5 / B
- PB

With Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy
Directed by Len Wiseman
What seems like an obvious match-up that could've been tackled long ago is successfully brought to the screen. The Vampire and Werewolf genres come to a head in this gothic tale of an ancient battle between these two nocturnal species. There are underhanded dealings afoot. A bit of Romeo & Juliet is thrown in with the forbidden romantic possibilities. Beckinsale doesn't look too bad, but lack some voluptuousness. There is an unmistakably strong Manga and Matrix approach in style and costumes (rubber / leather / PVC), but they manage to blend it into this film's own identity. Action packed, the movie plays through without a single hint of daylight.
Crappy moments include the ludicrous and laughable deep voice of one of the lycanthropes and vampire extras over-posing as they're placed in their positions.
4 / A
- PB

With Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy
Directed by Len Wiseman
The original Underworld was quite a blast with rival vampire and werewolf clans battling it out across the centuries into our modern era. While the first movie is not all that old, the flashbacks and explanations proved handy as I'd forgotten most of the more intricate details behind the plot. While movies like
The Matrix pulled the PVC catsuit from the fetish dungeon into the mass market, it still looks damn fine, even on a not-so-buxom, but pretty lass as Beckinsale. Together with her hybrid boyfriend (bitten by both vamp & wolf in the first film), she has to fend off those hunting her for the killing of the ruling Bill Nighy character, but also run from the original resurrected vampire and new force. The origin of the vampires and werewolves (or Lycans) is exposed but at times the pontificating explanations make you glaze over. Our heroin also get more details on her past, her father and how she is an inadvertent key (or deterrent) for the coming of a new evil. Lots of stylized action and cool sets (with over-stylized lighting) make for a fun sequel, but one you would not have missed had it not been made. Loads of blue contact lenses on display.
3 / C
- PB

With Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman
Directed by Clint Eastwood
This brooding modern resurgence of the western in 1992 was met with open arms by fans and critics alike. Clint plays an aging, ex-killer who goes out for one last job, which results in the death of a friend and the unleashing of a serious bit of revenge. With a cast including Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman and Richard Harris, you can’t exactly go wrong. The film racked up 4 Oscars which included best film, best director (for Clint) and best supporting actor (for Gene Hackman).
5 / B
- PB

With Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Big budget director Emmerich’s early eye catching feature about dead soldiers revived in a top secret governmental experiment turning them into unstoppable no-questions-asked fighting machines with regenerating abilities and super efficiency. But, one of them goes rouge, memories of his savagery in Nam flooding back (Lundgren). His opposing comrade of the time also gets flashbacks (Van Damme), and the two go head to head with tons of action and destruction as a result. With a female journalist thrown in as baggage and something better to look at than two sweaty guys kicking and punching the shit out of each other, it does however serve in its purpose, to entertain.
3 / B
- PB

With Jean Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White, Kiana Tom, Bill Goldberg
Directed by Mic Rodgers
Van-Damme is back with Seth, the hardcore computer in charge wanting more power and to transcend, embodying his knowledge from machine to homo sapien. Pro Wrestler Goldberg is more laughable than scary as one of the defiant UniSol’s who assist Seth in transporting into a body (that of Spawn’s Michael Jai White). Ol’ JC has to save the day, his daughter’s life in the balance and the military wanting to blow up the entire compound to destroy the mutinous UniSol’s. Some OK fight sequences but mainly macho tosh for schoolboys.
2 / C
- PB

With Mark Kinsey Stephenson, Charles Klausmeyer, Maria Ford, David Warner
Directed by
Not having had the honour of laying my eyes on the original, all can hope for is that it is a more superior slice of horror in stead of this tiresome joke with no scares, no gore, not even unintended humour. With The Unnamable still on the loose after a night of bloody murders, a (totally annoying) student at the university and a professor go investigate further, finding the creature trapped. They separate the 300 year old (beautiful girl) and creature that was conjured up by her father, subsequently possessing her. They do this by casually deciding insulin will do this trick. Scenes of horror, death or gore (which is few and far between) are treated with total casual boredom. Pathetic. If it wasn’t for Maria Ford’s lengthy periods of nudity (disguised by lengthy hair) this bomb would’ve been switched off after 15 minutes.
1 / C
- PB

With Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Lopez, Billy Bob Thornton, Powers Booth, Jon Voigt
Directed by Oliver Stone
Penn owes a powerful wiseguy in Vegas a fair amount of money. When his car breaks down in a desert town, everything goes wrong. Especially when he falls for the sexy Lopez. Married to the sheriff, the law of the town ends up asking Penn to kill her. He gets tossed from one end to the other, playing all sides while being played. Even the gas station mechanic takes him for a ride. An amazing bit of cinema with a great look, amazing energy and fatality as well as a texture and atmosphere that is irresistable.
6 / A
- PB

U2 - POPMART: Live From Mexico City
The (un)conscious tug of war between U2 and The Stones to put on the biggst show on earth just seems to reach more and more ludicrous proportions. The biggest video screen on earth, a giant swizzlestick & neon olive and enormous lemon are but a few of the crazy setpieces which makes this one of the brightest shows on earth (excluding KISS, of course). Those who missed the SA show and the live broadcast, and idolise these four little Irishmen, can't do without this tape. With no less than 24 tracks and over 2 hours worth of music (and loads of Bono-prancing... in fact, shitloads) the show is a marathon of flash and production. All their best songs are pulled of with ease as the Mexican crowd goes off. Some of it seems a little too rehearsed for my liking, but I guess with such an enormous production, the slightest mess up can dump the whole thing into a shambles - any mistakes here will appear king-size and might just overshadow Bono's ego. I aslo can't help but think whether the enormity is really necessary; just close your eyes and listen to the music, especially their earlier songs which can stand on their own as songs, no props necessary.
4 / B
- PB

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