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Brittany Murphy's 'Something Wicked' To Be Released, Other Posthumous Movie Releases


Brittany Murphy Philip Seymour Hoffman Paul Walker Heath Ledger Richard Harris Oliver Reed

Brittany Murphy’s final movie ‘Something Wicked’ is due to be released over four years since her tragic and ambiguous death. The plot focuses on a young couple who find themselves faced with a past that they had hoped would remain buried. Murphy died in 2009, after allegedly being stricken with acute pneumonia and severe anemia. The same results were found on her husband, Simon Monjack’s post mortum, when he died just five months after her.

brittany murphy something wicked Brittany Murphy looked extraordinarily thin in the months before her death

Over the past 15 years Brittany Murphy is not the only star to die before their latest project is released. Oliver Reed suffered a heart attack whilst filming Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, which came out in 2000. The movie was completed using CGI and a stunt double to finish his scenes.  Those of you who have seen the movie can appreciate quite how flawlessly this was done, it's virtually impossible to tell that Reed isn't in certain scenes.

Continue reading: Brittany Murphy's 'Something Wicked' To Be Released, Other Posthumous Movie Releases

Mutiny On The Bounty (1962) Review


OK
They don't make films like Mutiny on the Bounty anymore. The road show spectacular is a lost art that has disappeared along with 70mm cameras. But in 1962, MGM's remake of the Gable-Laughton Mutiny of the Bounty was the most breathtaking of all the big super-productions coming out of Hollywood. Exciting, colorful, no expense spared (the studio even constructed its own exact copy of the H.M.S. Bounty with craftsmen laboring at wooden hull construction), a cast of thousands (when that really meant a cast of thousands), the pageantry of real Tahitian locations, Mutiny on the Bounty was a massive, awesome extravaganza.

With veteran director Lewis Milestone at the helm (this was to be his final feature), Bounty shoves off in impressive form. As in the 1935 version, the film chronicles the repressive and sadistic Captain Bligh's (Trevor Howard) attempts to corner the market in breadfruit for England by traveling to the South Seas and First Lt. Fletcher Christian's (Marlon Brando) mutiny, casting Bligh to sea in a rickety boat with a handful of allies as the mutineers set sail back to Tahiti.

Continue reading: Mutiny On The Bounty (1962) Review

The Count Of Monte Cristo (2002) Review


Very Good
The classic Monte Cristo sandwich is a rich confection -- almost inedibly so -- composed of layered ham, turkey, swiss cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, and crusty bread, all battered in egg and fried in hot grease. The diner is meant to dip this in jam before shoving it down his gullet.

The 2002 incarnation of The Count of Monte Cristo is a remarkably similar experience, full of pleasing flavors yet probably too rich for everyday consumption -- but, as with all things, I figure you'll eat it if you're hungry enough. Sure enough, in this snail-slow winter movie season, Monte Cristo is just about the best thing going. Like the sandwich, this isn't gourmet fare -- it's a crowd pleaser meant to entertain for a few brief moments, nothing more.

Continue reading: The Count Of Monte Cristo (2002) Review

Muhammad Ali - Through The Eyes Of The World Review


Excellent
Michael Mann don't know nothin'.

If you want the real biopic on Muhammad Ali, look no further than Muhammad Ali - Through the Eyes of the World, a fascinating new documentary that gives a deep and rich overview of the champ's life, while still imbuing it with plenty of star power.

Continue reading: Muhammad Ali - Through The Eyes Of The World Review

Tarzan, The Ape Man (1981) Review


Terrible
Rightfully roasted as one of the worst films of all time, the 1981 reimagination of Tarzan the Ape Man proves that you can take Bo Derek to water, but you can't make her not get naked and play around in it.

I scarcely know where to start dissecting this debacle. The entire purpose of the movie is to show off Bo Derek's body. What happens en route to that is almost incidental. It certainly has nothing to do with the Tarzan story as we know it. Jane (Derek) heads to Africa to visit dad (poor, poor Richard Harris), who's on safari. Soon she encounters a beefcake guy with a waxed chest, and by the time they meet a second time she's encouraging him to grope her under her invariably wet shirt.

Continue reading: Tarzan, The Ape Man (1981) Review

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets Review


Good

Welcome back, Potter.

The beloved Harry Potter returns to screens, a scant year after his most debut, with the film version of book two in the unfathomably popular Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Unfortunately, while the Potter-obsessed will likely find few faults with the film, this sequel captures much less of the original's magic. (And while I've not read the books, I understand the same can be said for the second novel as well.)

Secrets finds Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) back at home with his Muggle family on summer vacation, locked in his room (though no longer under the stairs). Before long, Harry is set to return to Hogwarts -- despite the insistence from his uncle that he is no longer allowed to study magic. But a daring prison break, courtesy of the Weasley family -- including Harry's best bud Ron (Rupert Grint), gets Harry back to school, despite the meddling of a Yoda-like "house elf" named Dobby (very obvious CG). The masochistic Dobby tries to convince Harry that his life is in danger if he returns to Hogwarts -- though in reality his life appears more in danger due to Dobby's "helpful" meddling.

Harry of course does return to Hogwarts, where all his familiar experiences await him. Hermione (Emma Watson) is still the class brain. Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) is still the school clown. Snape (Alan Rickman) is still Snape. The new additions to the cast include a new Dark Arts professor, Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), a narcissistic wizard with questionable ability, as well as the father of Harry's platinum blonde archrival Malfoy, Lucius (Jason Isaacs).

While the cast is still in fine form (the exception being a shockingly haggard Richard Harris as headmaster Dumbledore; Harris died a few weeks before the film's release), it's the story that is decidedly lacking in this episode. The titular Chamber of Secrets is a legendary room inside Hogwarts fabled to hold a menacing creature. It can only be opened, we're told, by an heir to the Slytherin family. When a mysterious message appears on the Hogwarts walls in blood, Harry begins hearing hissing voices, and students begin to turn up paralyzed. It appears the Chamber of Secrets has been opened -- and suspicions fall on Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) as the heir. Or is it Harry?

What follows is another nearly-three hours of exposition as Harry, Ron, and Hermione attempt to crack this riddle, Nancy Drew-style, while the body count at Hogwarts keeps rising. Mercilessly padded, the movie drags us through ages of all-too-familiar territory: a Quidditch match ends predictably; spells go awry; the trio works on a potion together; one-note characters appear only to say their line and soon exit the story. Finally, invariably first-on-the-scene Harry coincidentally discovers a blank diary -- it's amazing how much coincidence drives the plot -- that leads him on a circuitous path to discover the Chamber, just in time for a final showdown with what looks astonishingly like a miniature-golf hazard.

Jeez, I'm bored just writing about it. So much of Secrets is so unnecessary that my audience was way ahead of the circuitous yet ultimately very simplistic story. Kids spent the three hours running up and down the aisles -- only their parents had the fortitude to stay with the plot. That said, this installment is much funnier than the original, and it has a bit more of a grown-up sentiment to it. Still, it's going to take more than an ominous voice in the walls and a flying car to keep even the most patient adults interested in a three-hour movie.

Chamber of Secrets is enjoyable for many of its stretches, and it's unfortunate that director Chris Columbus (giving up the reins for episode 3) didn't take more chances with the source material, excising the many irrelevant parts and adding in a bit of his own vision. As such, we have a movie that plays out in fits and starts of fun alternating with boredom. Sad to say, the kids will probably want to leave midway through this one and ask you to replay the original on DVD when you get home. Poor Harry, when we see you again (in two years' time), I hope you'll have regained a bit of your magic.

As with Potter #1, the film comes to DVD in an exhaustive and impressive two-disc package, headlined by one of the most aggressive 6.1 channel audio tracks I've ever had the privilege to hear on DVD. This film thankfully makes it much easier to find the deleted/extended scenes, all of which are well worth checking out and add a bit of depth and flavor to an otherwise so-so movie. There are also tons of games for the kids and a few interviews for the adults, including one with J.K. Rowling.

Try putting right down the middle of the course.

Orca Review


Weak
Jaws may have had a profound effect at the beaches, sending vacationers out of the water in fear of their lives... but it had the opposite effect for the hack filmmakers of the world, sending them in to the water to make cheap knockoffs.

In addition to the Jaws sequels, Orca stands at the very nadir of these "nature's killers from the sea." In its opening scenes, Orca tries to tell us that Jaws was a wuss: A killer whale smashes into a great white shark, sending him shooting 20 feet into the sky and devouring him in a foaming mess of blood. Ooh, that killer whale's one to be reckoned with, ain't he?

Continue reading: Orca Review

The Guns Of Navarone Review


Excellent
A former-day Saving Private Ryan, Gregory Peck and David Niven burn in this war epic, about a gang of neo-mercenaries sent to destroy the titular German guns. Will they save the day? Use your postwar patriotism of 1961 to make a guess.

The Count Of Monte Cristo Review


Good

The latest big screen adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo" has such a conspicuously clean Hollywood ending that, even though I've never read the book, I was suspicious and went online to bone up a little before writing this review.

Sure enough, even the central act of revenge that motivates this classic tale of obstinate, meticulous reprisal has been unduly rewritten to make for a cinematic and action-packed climax. The hero has been acquitted of his less honorable acts, the fates of characters have been drastically altered (those that haven't been dropped completely, that is), and comic relief has been shoehorned into the story so crudely you can almost see the impatient studio suit tapping his foot on the set and saying, "Can't this be funnier?"

Yet even with these gross departures, this "Count" has such a flavorful, popcorn-literature air about it that at its worst it still recalls the best of Golden Era swashbuckler flicks.

Continue reading: The Count Of Monte Cristo Review

Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone Review


OK

Overly self-indulgent director Chris Columbus could have cut out the entire middle hour of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and if you hadn't read the popular children's book, you'd never know the difference.

A good 70 percent of the picture consists of showy set pieces that don't service the plot (which we'll get to in a minute) so much as obligingly recreate unrelated passages that would be missed by the boy wizard's enthusiastic and possessive fan base had they been omitted.

One 10-minute episode is spent watching a sport called Quidditch, sort of a flying-broom version of field hockey with more than one puck and incredibly intricate rules that go largely unexplained. It's a lot like the pod race scene in "The Phantom Menace" -- irrelevant but spirited -- although with 1/10th the special effects budget. (Oh, that blatant blue-screening!)

Continue reading: Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone Review

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Richard Harris Movies

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) Movie Review

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) Movie Review

The classic Monte Cristo sandwich is a rich confection -- almost inedibly so -- composed...

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Movie Review

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Movie Review

Welcome back, Potter.The beloved Harry Potter returns to screens, a scant year after his most...

The Count of Monte Cristo Movie Review

The Count of Monte Cristo Movie Review

The classic Monte Cristo sandwich is a rich confection -- almost inedibly so -- composed...

Gladiator Movie Review

Gladiator Movie Review

"Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?" Hey, who doesn't!?The awe-inspiring trailers for Gladiator...

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