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The Movie Report
January 2008

#548 - 549
January 11, 2008 - January 25, 2008

all movies are graded out of four stars (****)


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#549 January 25, 2008

In Brief

How She Move poster How She Move (PG-13) **
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This north of the border import shows that there's more to Canadian film than icy introspection, but it also shows they can wallow in formula as thickly as their Yank counterparts. One distinguishing factor of this step show drama is that its lead is a young woman (Rutina Wesley), but she then has to face all the expected chauvinistic opposition to earn a spot in a friend's (Dwain Murphy) crew and thus a chance to win the competition prize money she needs to help fund her med school tuition. There is some decent choreography on display, and it's always good to see some fresh, capable talent like Wesley showcase their undeniable ability and potential in a major showcase spotlight, but director Ian Iqbal Rashid fails to inject the requisite style, energy, and pacing to juice up the painfully by-the-numbers paces. When the climactic step show takes place, one is jolted by how rather suddenly it arrives, for there's no sense of momentum or build-up. But Wesley remains a name to watch, and hopefully this résumé filler will be a solid step toward more worthwhile projects in Canada and the States.

27 Dresses poster 27 Dresses (PG-13) ***
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This formula chick-flick rom-com makes no real bones about it being incredibly derivative--it so closely resembles My Best Friend's Wedding that it might as well have been called instead My Kid Sister's Wedding, with Katherine Heigl in the Julia Roberts role, Malin Akerman continuing her career path as the official Cameron Diaz knockoff, and Edward Burns in for Dermot Mulroney (though, in this case, he plays the boss that Heigl pines for, not her best friend); there is even a big singalong to a classic pop song (here, Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets"). That said, the film is undeniably appealing because of Heigl, and between her turn here and in Knocked Up, she makes a strong argument for "next Julia" status; she has an innate likability and charm that crosses age and gender barriers, not to mention some solid acting chops. James Marsden is also good here as her eventual leading man (to continue the My Best Friend's Wedding analogy, he's the Rupert Everett, but straight), having found his niche in light entertainment between this, Hairspray, and Enchanted.

Untraceable poster Untraceable (R) * 1/2
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For all the would-be with-it cyber/techno-speak, strip that all away, and Gregory Hoblit's film is completely stale and clichéd thriller nonsense. As an FBI agent on the trail of a serial killer who broadcasts his or her handiwork on the Internet, Diane Lane slums it in what is essentially an Ashley Judd role; even so, she's about the only thing in the film approaching some real-world credibility. The rest of the film is been-there, done-that, from the Lane character being ordered off the case at an important juncture and Colin Hanks turning up as the loyal (read: lunchmeat) partner.


The Game Plan DVD The Game Plan (PG) movie review
Movie: **; Disc: ***
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Disney's exercise in grafting their "put a tough guy with kids" Pacifier formula onto WWE superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and the world of pro football is every bit as cloying as it sounds (not to mention its Disney-sanitized portrayal of a pro athlete's life is amusing for the wrong reasons), but the movie was an understandable hit as it is the very definition of fairly harmless, family-safe fluff.

The family audience that made the film one of last fall's biggest moneymakers will likely not really care about the extras on the DVD release, but for those paying attention, there are some nice supplements. In keeping with the sports theme (and making for a forgivable bit of corporate synergy), the ESPN Sportscenter segment on The Rock's Joe Kingman character is here in its entirety, and from the real-world Sportscenter comes a set visit/training piece with the star; in a nice added touch, the obligatory outtake reel is put together as a slick sports blooper package narrated by Marv Albert. Eschewing the sports theme but going a bit deeper than the norm is the behind-the-scenes featurettes, which covers a great deal of the football training the stars had to go through (and Johnson's injury during this phase). The deleted and extended scenes can be viewed with optional introductions by director Andy Fickman, whose obnoxiousness makes one glad he didn't do a commentary. The obligatory kid-friendly features, such as controlling the "mood lighting" or "making over" the apartment-themed menus, rounds out the disc.

Specifications: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen; English 5.1 Surround; English and French Dolby Surround; English, French, and Spanish subtitles. (Walt Disney Home Entertainment)

Zodiac director's cut DVD Zodiac 2-Disc Director's Cut (R)
Movie: ***; Disc: ****
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When David Fincher's drama based on the infamous '60s-'70s serial killer case failed to ignite the box office last spring, some film geeks expressed surprise, but seriously--does a nearly three-hour, fairly cold '70s-style procedural about the obsession over an unsolved crime featuring no marquee draws sound like an easy sell? The film was always destined to be a critically-acclaimed commercial underachiever that would attract a fervent following and a little more widespread appreciation in the home market. Paramount's second DVD release of the film both handsomely rewards those devoted fans and makes a strong case to those experiencing the film for the first time. The new director's cut of the film is only six minutes longer than the theatrical release (two of the minutes being a black screen with shifting audio denoting the passage of time), and while those familiar with the other version will appreciate the added detail and atmosphere, these minutes are not an earth-shattering addition, either positively or negatively--a good thing, as the film is plenty solid as it is.

What is a much more considerable addition is the wealth of supplementary material on the two discs. The first disc features the film proper and two commentary tracks. Fincher appears solo on the first, and he is insightful, informative, and focused without being dry (much like the film itself). The second, more informal commentary is really two spliced-together yak tracks, one with stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr., the other with producer Brad Fischer, screenwriter James Vanderbilt, and famed crime writer James Ellroy looking more at the facts of the case. The documentary features on the second disc are similarly divided between featurettes on the making of the film (the documentary "Zodiac Deciphered," a look at the film's visual effects, and a selection of animatics presented on split screen with actual film footage) and the actual case (a look at prime suspect Arthur Leigh Allen and an all-new feature-length documentary titled This Is the Zodiac Speaking). Between the commentaries, the supplements, and the film itself, this is about as exhaustive a package on Zodiac--the film and the real-life killer--that anyone, both fan and casual viewer alike, could ever want.

Specifications: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen; English 5.1 Surround; English, French, and Spanish subtitles; English closed captioning. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

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#548 January 11, 2008


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