The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet
Michel Gondry directs The Green Hornet, the long-gestating superhero action-comedy based on the classic pulp, TV and radio hero. Seth Rogen plays the title role of dissolute media heir Britt Reid, who finds his true calling after his stern father, Daily Sentinel publisher James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), dies. Partnering with a former employee of his family's estate, the enigmatic and multi-talented Kato (pop star Jay Chou), Britt and Kato don masks to fight crime as The Green Hornet and ... Kato. (His lack of a superhero sobriquet is a running joke in the movie.)

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What Goes Up

What Goes Up
If it's true that what goes up must eventually come down, it could be said, albeit ironically, that What Goes Up either never gets off the ground or crashes with an almost zeppelin-esque lack of grace. It is a film defeated not by the forces of cinematic gravity Ė such as a failed, though admirable, attempt at artistry, or some polarizing subject matter Ė but rather by the weight of its own rather massive ineptitude, like a lead balloon destined for a life at sea-level.

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Adaptation.

Adaptation.
Have you ever tried to write a screenplay? The whole process of writing a screenplay is fascinating to me now that Iíve actually written a few. At first, you convince yourself that you can write a screenplay because youíve seen so many horrible movies and you think you can do better. Then you sit down to write one and the details start to nag on you. The simple act of formatting it weighs on you because everyone has different advice. Then you get sunk with the ideas of your screenplay and all of a sudden, writing a screenplay is no longer fun, itís work. I thought a lot about that process while I watched ADAPTATION.

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Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth
One of the most anticipated releases of the 2006 holiday season is the latest offering from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, whose previous credits include The Devil's Backbone, Blade 2, and Hellboy. With Pan's Labyrinth, del Toro opens a landscape where gothic fantasy elements are infused into the real-life horrors of the second World War. Set in Spain during the days immediately before and after D-Day, the movie provides a window into the mind of a young girl who seeks escape from a life that features a cruel stepfather and a mother whose difficult pregnancy is killing her. But is this girl's method of escape a portal into another reality or is it a conjuration of her fairy tale obsessed imagination?

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Because I Said So

Because I Said So
Because I Said So is a made-to-order romantic comedy of the type "B" variety (that's the one where the heroine is torn between the socially and financially "ideal" guy and the one who really makes her happy). As I have previously written, a formulaic approach is not always a bad thing in a romantic comedy provided the screenplay shows moderate intelligence, the characters are appealing, and there's chemistry between the leads. Fortunately, Because I Said So satisfies these criteria. So, despite being rooted firmly in "chick flick" territory (with a high "cuteness" index), it has the capacity to please to viewers of both genders who appreciate the genre.

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Wah-Wah

Wah-Wah
As coming of age stories go, Wah-Wah does little to distinguish itself. Based on the memories of actor-turned-director/writer Richard E. Grant, the bland film loses its focus early during the proceedings and never gets it back. With the late 1960s independence of Swaziland from Great Britain forming the political backdrop, Wah-Wah takes us through the adolescent struggles of Ralph Compton (played by Zachary Fox at first, then by Nicholas Hoult): his battles with his alcoholic father, Harry (Gabriel Byrne); his love/hate relationship with his absent mother, Lauren (Miranda Richardson); his warming interaction with his American step-mother, Ruby (Emily Watson); and his infatuation with a local girl (Olivia Grant). The problem with so much going on is that nothing gets the development it deserves. Wah-Wah comes across as derivative and perfunctory - a painless but forgettable journey across familiar cinematic territory.

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Choke
Sometimes, the conversion of a novel into a movie can result in a loss or diminution of the author's tone or the book's characters. With Choke, director Clark Gregg has maintained writer Chuck Palahniuk's voice but the men and women populating the film come across as the half-finished constructs of a filmmaker's imagination. It's as if there are scenes missing - not critical scenes that impact the plot or change the narrative's trajectory, but little scenes that get us to accept the protagonists as more than people with a quick wit and a cynical point-of-view.

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Blade: Trinity

Blade: Trinity
If you're going to make a vampire movie, here's a piece of advice: leave Dracula out of it. The character is so iconic that virtually no cinematic interpretation will do him justice. Unfortunately, that's not something that writer/director David S. Goyer recognizes. So, in order to give vampire-hunter Blade a "worthy" adversary for his third outing, Goyer elects to pit the hybrid superhero against his old comic-book nemesis (on the written page, Blade first debuted in "Tomb of Dracula"), with unfortunate results. Take away the film's attitude, and you're left with Son of Van Helsing.

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Shrek 2

Shrek 2
A certain amount of credit must be given to the filmmaking team behind Shrek 2 for overcoming a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and producing an entertaining motion picture. That obstacle is the ending of the original Shrek, which neatly wrapped up every conceivable aspect of the story, leaving little room for a sequel. Originally, Shrek had been designed as a one-off movie, but, when it became a huge hit, Dreamworks decided that a second installment was warranted. However, with Shrek and Princess Fiona married and living happily ever after as ogres, some creative brainstorming had to be done to arrive at a sequel-worthy concept.

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Michael

Michael
Undeterred by the universally hostile reaction to her previous holiday picture, Mixed Nuts, director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle) is back at it again this year with Michael, the second angel-comes-to-Earth feature of the month. While this may not be quite as sweet as The Preacher's Wife, the central theme of redemption is essentially the same. And, even though the script for Michael moderates its sugary flavor with a dash of cynicism, it's no stretch to guess that the film is going for the same audience that's enchanted by such life-affirming classics as A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life.

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Home Alone 3

Home Alone 3
It was a shrewd studio executive who decided that the ''Home Alone'' series didn't require the towheaded, hooded-eyed screen presence of Macaulay Culkin to stay alive and kicking. As ''Home Alone 3'' vigorously demonstrates, all the franchise really needs to keep going is a charismatic child (Alex D. Linz has replaced Mr. Culkin) with no great acting skills but loads of pseudo-innocent chubby-cheeked adorability.

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Superfire

Superfire
A firefighter pilot blames himself for the death of his previous colleagues and gets a new assignment with a raging forest fire in Portland, Oregon, that has the whole city in jeopardy.

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Secret Passage

Secret Passage
Isabel and Clara are growing up in a time of terror. It is 1492, and Spain has decreed that all Jews must either convert to Catholicism, go into exile or face trial and execution. Although forcibly baptized, the sisters are chased through Christendom until they arrive in Venice. It is in this great maritime empire, where opulence rhymes with tolerance, that Isabel organizes secret passages for refugees fleeing the Inquisition while Clara falls in love with a Venetian noble, Paolo Zane. Isabel intends for her family to go to Istanbul, the only place where Jews can live freely, but Clara is reluctant to leave. She challenges Isabels authority and is prepared to break her family ties and sacrifice her faith for love. Caught in this battle of wills is Claras daughter, Victoria, who finds she is about to be married into the same faith that murdered her father.

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An Englishman Abroad

An Englishman Abroad
Actress Coral Browne travels to Moscow, and meets a mysterious Englishman. Turns out hes the notorious spy, Guy Burgess. Based on a true story, with Ms. Browne playing herself.

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Living & Dying

Living & Dying
Two killers turn the tables on a trio of robbers when they find themselves in a hostage situation. Surrounded by the police, the robbers must become the heroes before the killers execute everyone.

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Most Wanted

Most Wanted
Sgt. James Dunn, who is wrongly accused of assassination of the officer he had a row with, is saved from death row and recruited for top-secret special operations squad led by Lt. Col Grant Casey. Their mission is to neutralize criminals who had avoided conventional law enforcement methods. On his first Mission, James is made the fall guy for the assassination of the first lady and everyone is looking for him and Dr. Victoria Constantini who was lucky to videotape what happened. One of the forces looking for him is military, led by Gen. Adam Woodward, which is in fact an alias for Grant Casey.

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