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The Eagle is a reassuringly old-fashioned 'swords and sandals' romp directed by Last King of Scotland-helmer Kevin Macdonald. Shot at the same time as 2010's similarly-themed Centurion, the studio held onto The Eagle for nearly a year to avoid a schedule clash, and for good reason, as both films share similar DNA.
Inspired by 'The Eagle of the Ninth', a much-loved kid's historical adventure novel by Rosemary Sutcliff, both The Eagle and Centurion feature the mysterious disappearance of a Roman legion in northern Britain at the heart of their tales - but told from different angles - with The Eagle being more of a direct adaptation of the source material.
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Call me old school, but I like my children's films to actually be written for children. With the glut of animated films flooding the kiddie film market, it seems that studios -- and the people they hire to write the scripts for them -- are convinced that the only way to get parents to take their tykes to the theater to see a kids' movie is to fill them to overflow with adult references, and Happy Feet is the latest offender. The film opens with a female penguin, Norma Jean (voiced by Nicole Kidman), swaying seductively through a crowd of male penguins. The female is drawn with an inflated chest, presumably to simulate a large bosom. Real female Empire Penguins don't have boobies, of course, but I suppose the filmmakers thought that real men can't manage to sit through a 90-minute film with their kids without some simulated penguin cleavage to keep their attention. Norma Jean moves through the males, singing, until her attention is caught by Memphis (Hugh Jackman), who channels Elvis and says things like, "Whoa, Mama" a lot.
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Pride is one of those generic inspirational sports movies that has been cobbled together from spare parts left to rust on Hollywood's shelf of clichés and stereotypes. Take a little '70s racism, add the guidance of a strong coach, throw in minor subplots about the players, and stir. Yet , despite the stale odor of the broth, lack of originality isn't Pride's stumbling point - it's that the familiar story is not well presented. The manipulation is clumsy and obvious and none of the characters attains a semblance of three-dimensionality. Even a solid performance by Terrence Howard can't keep Coach Jim Ellis from seeming like a shadow of the many more interesting men in whose footsteps he treads.
A well-known saying goes something like, "In for a penny, in for a pound," and that seems to be an appropriate way to begin a discussion of John Maybury's The Jacket. A moody psychological thriller tinged with science fiction elements, The Jacket demands not only a viewer's attention, but his or her belief. Unless you accept the premise, completely and unconditionally, this movie will come across as a load of silly, incoherent rubbish. While not as far out on the limb of paradoxes as films like Jacob's Ladder and The Butterfly Effect, The Jacket nevertheless has the capacity to provoke thought and consternation.
Dreamgirls is a wonderful entertainment: a musical that, while not skimping on the music, delivers a multi-layered storyline featuring complex characters. The average Hollywood musical focuses on spectacle and, while there's some of that to be found in Dreamgirls, the movie has loftier goals, many of which it successfully achieves. If there's one weakness in the film, it's the music. While effective within the context of the picture, the songs have a generic quality. Even the standouts are not memorable. Leaving the theater, I was not seized with the desire to stop at a music store and purchase the soundtrack. However, this is a minor quibble, and it does little to impact the viewer's enjoyment of what is sure to be a huge crowd-pleaser.
Like most intelligent movies that dare to demand that the movie viewer think by pondering the question of predestination versus self-determination, First Snow is a downbeat affair. The interest here isn't whether the main character will circumvent fate (not something likely to happen since such an occurrence would violate one of the movie's themes) but how he will greet the inevitable. Will he embrace it or, like Dylan Thomas, rage against the dying of the light? Is knowing the timing of one's end a gift or a curse? Does it allow us to make peace with our existence and leave it on our own terms or does it turn the chambers of life into the waiting room of death?
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Going into Stay, I was aware that the director was Marc Forster, the man who made Monster's Ball and Finding Neverland. However, even with that knowledge, it wouldn't have surprised me to see David Lynch's name during the closing credits. Stay is the kind of dreamy, surreal motion picture that delights in messing with its viewers' minds. Ultimately, it's less cryptic than any of Lynch's recent films, since everything is explained (sort of) at the end. The outstanding question, however, is whether or not the resolution satisfies. Forster includes enough clues in the way he presents the narrative for audience members to intuitively figure out the secret, but I couldn't help feeling a little let down when the truth was unveiled. I have seen it before, and on more than one occasion. (I won't mention specific titles here because those who have seen the movie will immediately suspect the twist.)
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
It's been more than fifteen years since the release of John Carpenter's Halloween, and ten since Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street. Each, in its own way, was a top-of-the-line horror flick -- a film that relied more on chills and thrills than on graphic displays of butchery. Those movies had unique visions of what was required to scare an audience, and neither resorted to the pointless and grotesque displays of gratuitous gore that permeated the other "big" entry of the time (Friday the 13th).
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The story follows Jerry Welbach (Brad Pitt) as he travels through Mexico to find an antique gun, The Mexican, and smuggle it into the United States. Five years earlier, Welbach had caused a traffic accident in which he hit the car of local mobster Arnold Margolese (Gene Hackman), who was jailed for five years after the police searched his car following the crash, finding someone tied up in his trunk. In compensation for the jail time,
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All the Pretty Horses
Why Did I Get Married Too?
The film opens with Terry's (Tyler Perry) and Dianne's (Sharon Leal) son playing with a ball and Terry takes him to the living room. Dianne and Terry leave to go to their marriage retreat. They arrive at the airport and a loud argument signals Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus' (Michael Jai White) arrival. Terry and Marcus go to get information about their delayed flight. The woman at the desk recognizes Marcus and Angela embarrasses him by making a scene, screaming at Marcus about flirting with the clerk. Sheila (Jill Scott) and Troy (Lamman Rucker) first arrive at the resort, revealing through conversation that Troy cannot find a job since they moved and they are broke, and that they have a newborn son.
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The Indian in the Cupboard
On his ninth birthday, Omri (Hal Scardino) receives an old cupboard from his brother and a little Indian figure made of plastic from his best friend (Rishi Bhat). That night, Omri goes through his mom's box of old keys and finds that a gold colored key with a red ribbon tied to it (given to his mother by her grandmother) actually
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Edmond Burke is a city businessman who visits a Tarot fortune teller on the way home. She claims Edmond "is not where [he] belongs." He decides to make changes in his life, beginning by leaving his wife.
At a bar, Edmond tells a fellow patron he hasn't had sex in a while and that marriage took away his masculinity. The man gives him the address to a strip club, where Edmond is kicked out by a bouncer for not paying for a stripper's drink.
Bullied at school and ignored and abused at home by his indifferent mother and older brother, Billy Casper (David Bradley), a 15-year-old working-class Yorkshire boy, tames and trains his pet kestrel falcon whom he names Kes. Helped and encouraged by his English teacher Mr. Farthing (Colin Welland) and his fellow students, Billy finally finds a positive purpose to his unhappy existence, until tragedy strikes.
End of the Line
In this unsettling and creepy thriller, Karen (Ilona Elkin), a young nurse who works in a psychiatric ward, boards the last subway train of the night only to have it stop suddenly in the middle of the tunnel. As those around her are brutally murdered, Karen and a handful of survivors must face supernatural forces, homicidal religious cult members, as well as their own fears and suspicions of Armageddon, in order to survive.
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Love and a .45
Watty has made a living out of robbing convenience stores, but after one of these job turned into murder by his partner, the psychopath Billy Mack, he is on the run with his fianc Starlene and with both Billy Mack, the police and some loansharks on his trail. Their plan is to go to Mexico but before they do that they want to get married and visit Starlenes parents.
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