Reviews


Spider-Man 3

A Movie ReelSpider-Man 3: 5.5 out of 10.

About four years ago I was thanking Sam Raimi in this space. I had just seen Spider-Man 2, and I liked it even better than Spider-Man, a film I thought was great. Here's what I wrote that day.

It would have been so easy for Sam Raimi and the gang to go through the motions, rely heavily on special effects and print money at the box office. Instead, they crafted a tremendous story with exceptional character development that stays true to the vision.

In Spider-Man 3, they sort of go through the motions, rely heavily on special effects and print money at the box office. It's not terrible, but it's a distant third in the franchise and it seems to collapse under the weight of the many villains. There's this Sandman dude, the new Goblin, Venom and the dark side of Spidey himself. That's four freakin' bad guys, at least two too many.

Still, Meatloaf made a good point. 2 outta 3 ain't bad.

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Alpha Dog

A Movie ReelAlpha Dog: 7 out of 10.

I was worried about this one because Justin Timberlake almost single handedly ruined Black Snake Moan on his own, but he didn't suck quite as bad in Alpha Dog. Alpha Dog reminded me a great deal of Bully, another film I enjoyed. They'd make a great 1-2 punch.

Like Bully, this film is based on a real-life incident. It's all about Jesse James Hollywood who is currently awaiting trial in California. Here's his America's Most Wanted profile.

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Reign Over Me

A Movie ReelReign Over Me: 6 out of 10.

My favourite part of Reign Over Me is the music. Charlie Fineman escapes into his iPod and many of the tunes he plays are used as background music. Some of the best belong to Bruce Springsteen and The Who.

The Who's "Love, Reign o'er Me" gave this film its name and acts as the climatic yell. The Who's original version plays near the end and Pearl Jam's wicked cover plays at the conclusion. Damn Eddie kills on this tune.

And speaking of musicians, Adam Sandler looks an awful lot like Bob Dylan in this movie. It's freaky.

The movie itself is promise unfulfilled. It's uneven and convenient at times, even though there's a good film buried in there somewhere. I wanted Reign Over Me to be better than it was. I wanted it to be as good as its soundtrack.

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Sicko

A Movie ReelSicko: 8.5 out of 10.

I actually watched "Sicko" last June when it appeared on Google Video. I didn't review it then, because I just don't like watching movies on my laptop. I find it impossible not to multi-task and I miss the larger screen and bigger sound. I watched "Sicko" again last night with my wife and it's better than I remembered it.

I understand Michael Moore has his detractors, but he puts together compelling and entertaining docs. I've enjoyed everything he's released, but "Sicko" might be his best work to date. Of course, as a product of socialized medicine, I felt drawn to the content like a moth to a CFL light bulb.

Our system ain't perfect, but when one of us gets sick, it's awfully comforting to know that medical expense stress won't interfere with the healing process.

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Dan in Real Life

A Movie ReelDan in Real Life: 8 out of 10.

Right off the bat I want to thank John for sending me this DVD. That's right folks, if you send me stuff, I'll check it out and write about it here. John sent me this flick and "The Game Plan" which I'll watch at some point with the kids.

"Dan in Real Life" came and went in theatres so quickly, you're forgiven if you don't remember it. I didn't know what to expect, but I found it endearing and funny and cute and by the end I was totally digging it.

Steve Carell, who I love in "The Office", plays a character completely different from Michael Scott. There's lots of other recognizable faces in this thing, and it's so damn wholesome, you don't have to wait until the kids are asleep.

"Dan in Real Life" is a pleasant surprise.

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Autism: The Musical

A Movie ReelAutism: The Musical: 8 out of 10.

I'm a lucky SOB. My kids are developing "normally" and are healthy and happy. Autism, once diagnosed in 1 in 10,000 children and now in 1 in 150 children, seems to be everywhere. My mother works with autistic children, and I've been hearing about this disease for years, but I didn't really understand autism until I watched this HBO documentary.

We learn about five autistic children and their involvement in The Miracle Project, a theatre arts program created by Elaine Hall. All five children are afflicted differently, and we're witness to the strain on families and impact an autistic child has on marriages. It's really a must see for parents.

It's on TMN right now. I'm taping it for mom.

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Planet Terror

A Movie ReelPlanet Terror: 6 out of 10.

It only took me three weeks to finish Grindhouse. A bigger fan of Quentin Tarantino than Robert Rodriquez, I opted to watch Death Proof first.

I far preferred Death Proof, which I gave 8 out of 10, but I didn't hate Planet Terror. It was harmless campy fun that reminded me of the days I'd rent Troma films like The Toxic Avenger.

If you only watch one Grindhouse film this year, make it Death Proof, but if you have the time, watching both won't kill ya.

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Enchanted

A Movie ReelEnchanted: 6 out of 10.

If you haven't seen Enchanted, you probably don't have a daughter between the ages of 2 and 12. Enchanted takes the classic Disney fairytales girls know and love and throws it into modern day New York.

If I put on my 3-year old girl glasses, I get the allure. It even opens as a cartoon before Amy Adams hits New York. It's kinda cute and fun... but when I take off my 3-year old girl glasses, I'm bored and I want to turn it off and watch Scarface or 300.

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Away from Her

A Movie ReelAway from Her: 8 out of 10.

Toronto's Sarah Polley's directorial debut is a winner. "Away from Her" is a poignant tale about Alzheimer’s disease, and Polley's subtle touch and Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie's amazing performances gives it class.

It's also a movie that isn't ashamed to take place in Ontario. It references Paris, Ontario and Brantford, focuses upon a Maple Leafs playoff game and Brant County. It's a Canadian film that succeeds on a global scale, like "The Sweet Hereafter" and "The Barbarian Invasions".

See it.

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Fracture

A Movie ReelFracture: 6 out of 10.

I had never heard of Fracture but took a chance on it because it starred Anthony Hopkins and cool Canuck Ryan Gosling.

If you're comfortable with plot holes you could drive a Plymouth through, Fracture is actually a lot of fun. It's full of twists and turns, some plausible, some not, but all entertaining.

Note to self: see Half Nelson.

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