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Man of the Year

Is it a satire, a comedy, a thriller? I guess it is just a mess.
'Man of the Year' has a lot of ideas thrown into a glass bowl. We see all those ideas through the glass, and then some are picked out. Some of them turn out to be too hot (or actually hard) to handle so they are thrown back. We are left with an unsatisfying movie which could have been a great satire, a funny comedy, a weird romantic film, or maybe even a working thriller (although I do doubt that).

Robin Williams is Tom Dobbs, a host of a television show not unlike Jon Stewart's 'The Daily Show'. He runs for president as an independent in only thirteen states, wins in all of those, and gets enough votes to become the next president of the USA. I would say, take it from there. But then it is apparently necessary for Eleanor Green (Laura Linney) to discover the computer voting system had a glitch which caused Dobbs to win. Nothing was done about that for financial reasons. It also throws in cigarettes, or at least what it can cause. Christopher Walken takes care of that part.

That 'Man of the Year' never finds its focus is not really my problem. But that the film therefore becomes a waste of time kind of is. Robin Williams has the opportunity for improvising and great one-liners, but none of them delivers. His jokes are too much on the territory of a teen comedy, often close to annoying. The thriller part enters with Linney who wants to tell Dobbs about the glitch, and Jeff Goldblum desperately trying to prevent that. It all seems silly.

The film should have followed the "Oprah for President" storyline, without any computer glitch. Since popular faces on television are actually able to win elections, why not have some fun with that. The trailer showed something I was really looking forward to, the film itself is something I have seen before, only better. That said, the jokes in 'The Daily Show' are a lot better than the those heard in the fictional program in this film. Even if you don't like 'The Daily Show' you will see that. The show and this film have Lewis Black in common. They should have had some of the writers in common.

Reno 911!: Miami

Not that bad really
'Reno 911!: Miami' is based on the Comedy Central television series and unfortunately I have never seen a single episode. If I had I would have liked this film a lot better I guess. For those like me, 'Reno 911!' is 'Police Academy', only a lot smarter. Throw in a little 'Super Troopers' and you understand what I am talking about. The camera is used as in the reality shows, following our characters on the missions. Those are in Miami by the way, and they are the only available cops. Why and how is not that important.

There are some hilarious moments, great ideas, a lot of fun, but for some reason it never really worked for me. I had a good enough time, and I am sure fans of the series will love the film as well, but in my opinion there could have been more. The first twenty minutes the film has trouble finding its way with only the occasional laugh. Once they are in Miami it gets better, but seems uneasy about the fact it has to fill an entire film, not just a 20-minute episode. The great ideas take too much time to build, leaving us with little to laugh while we are waiting.

In the end I had a pretty good time watching 'Reno 911!' and it made me quite curious about the series. That alone is reason enough for me to recommend this if you don't really want to see a masterpiece. On the other hand, for those not familiar with the series I could recommend better and funnier films. May be 'Super Troopers' to start with.


Germany's inflation
'Inflation' is a short film depicting Germany's inflation between the two World Wars. With quite some special effects, director Hans Richter compares the US dollar with the Deutsche Mark and shows that in a short period of time the dollar is equal to 50.000.000 DM. The story in this film, which could be seen as a documentary, is just that.

The film is interesting from a technical point of view. The somewhat surrealistic images are created through various kind of special effects and although dated, they still look pretty nice. Although I would sooner recommend a Dziga Vertov film (same time, more different techniques), 'Inflation' is still well worth seeing. After all, it only takes a couple of minutes.

Snakes on a Plane

Mindless fun
The title 'Snakes on a Plane' is the kind of title that makes a story unnecessary. In fact, the film could have done without the first twenty minutes or so; we all know the real film starts once the main characters are all on that plane. Those characters include a lot of poisonous snakes and of course FBI Agent Samuel L. Jackson, who is taking a key witness from Hawaii to Los Angeles.

Why is not important, the snakes are there, killing off every characters that is not introduced including the captain. Now we have both the snakes and the plane out of control. It is to Jackson to save the day. On the ground we follow another FBI Agent, tracking down snake experts and illegal snake holders to help Jackson the best way possible.

'Snakes on a Plane' is a movie that delivers exactly what the title promises it does. It is both fun and thrilling, from time to time at least, and therefore to be recommended for people who were looking up a title like this in the first place. It may be ridiculous, it delivers. If you think the title is silly, I guess you should avoid this film entirely.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

Has some intelligent views, but has chosen the wrong genre to show them
With his comedy 'Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World', a terrific title, Albert Brooks raises some interesting issues, stretching from America's foreign affair policy and how their intervening (no matter what kind) can lead to worser conditions than before. How I will not explain, but since the film still has to be a comedy, it fails completely.

Simply said it is Brooks who is send by the US government to India and Pakistan to find out what makes Muslims laugh. Brooks takes a big swing at himself in the process, which is kind of an achievement since there are other cultures here. He could have made fun of that but he didn't. Still, and again, this is a comedy and the swings at himself are nicely found from time to time, but never funny.

The ending, although not funny, is the strongest point here. It deals with leaving countries you have 'invaded' before the job is done and with having a huge part in causing problems in the world. It does not make the movie worthy of your time, but at least it shows it has intelligence. Not humor though...

Failure to Launch

Another failed romantic comedy, saved by being just that
I a getting tired of the over-confident characters Matthew McConaughey plays. In 'How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days', 'Sahara', 'Two for the Money' and now 'Failure to Launch' we have seen this character. It kind of works in dramatic films, and when done right maybe in a romantic comedy, but not when he has the face of McConaughey. In the end you simply can't see why the female lead falls for this guy. Here it may have something to do with a personal tragedy, which means she feels sorry, not love.

Sarah Jessica Parker is Paula. Her job is to date men who still live with their parents, being a substitute care-taker. Therefore the men will want to leave their parents to join her. Her latest client is Tripp (McConaughey), hired by his parents (including Kathy Bates). We also meet two of his friends, also still living with their parents, and her roommate. She is Kit (Zooey Deschanel), the weird and most interesting character in this film.

Since every romantic comedy as made in Hollywood needs the leads unexpectedly falling in love, a crisis, in the end getting back together, and an interesting story involving the sidekicks. The crisis, since she is hired by the parents, is logical from the start, all of the rest happens too. The sidekicks story is funny enough, also dealing with love, but the film throws in a bunch of animals as extra sidekicks. We have stupid sequences involving chipmunks, dolphins and a mockingbird (well, that one kind of works). To fill time we have the guy stuff sequences including mountain biking, rock climbing and paint balling.

Admittedly, I was able to smile from time to time and I was not bored. It delivers what it promises it will, so complaining seems wrong. Still, the film could have done without McConaughey and the time filling sequences, and maybe the focus should have been on the Deschanel love story. I guess that would have meant a complete other film. I think I might have enjoyed that one more.

Bottle Rocket

The beginning of Anderson & Wilson
'Bottle Rocket' is the first project written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, starring Owen and his brother Luke. This short, shown at Sundance, made sure they got to make the feature film 'Bottle Rocket' (1996). Of course they came with 'Rushmore', 'The Royal Tenenbaums' and 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou' next.

This short, shot in black and white, is sort of the same as the first fifteen minutes of the feature film version. It shows three friends named Dignan (Owen Wilson), Anthony (Luke) and Bob (Robert Musgrave) preparing for a heist, not much more. Before the real deal they practice once, buy guns, and then it's show time.

The dialogue and natural acting makes this an above average short film. The writing is pretty clever and most moments will make you smile. Most of the time it is quite exciting to see one of those "first films" from established directors; 'Bottle Rocket' is no exception.

Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties

Better, but still bad
I did not like the first 'Garfield'-film, and although this sequel is an improvement I didn't care much for this one as well. Too many talking animals and a story involving a mix-up, which is too simple to begin with, make a boring movie out of elements we have seen many times before.

The mix-up is between Garfield and Prince, a London cat who just inherited a whole castle. The inhabitant of that castle, Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly), thought he would have it all. Only after the cat is dead and buried the place will be his. He gets rid off Prince, but the loyal butler Smithee (Ian Abercrombie) finds him back, only it is Garfield instead of Prince. Now owner Jon (Breckin Meyer) finds Prince, thinking it is Garfield. He is in London for a subplot involving his love Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) who he wants to marry.

As in the first film it is Bill Murray as the voice of Garfield who can bring the occasional smile to your face. Again the dancing sequences, one repeating a famous mirror scene from the Marx Brothers, belong to the highlights. 'A Tale of Two Kitties' contains some more laughs than the first film, but should be seen as another failure. I am not sure whether a good film about this character can be made, but better than this seems quite possible.


Interesting but failed experiment
'Destricted' is best described as seven short art-house porn films. None of them really succeeds as an interesting mix between art and porn, although 'Impaled' by director Larry Clark and 'Balkan Erotic Epic' by director Marina Abramovic have some interesting elements. The first shows a casting for a porn film, but not with the insecure women often displayed, but with insecure young men. The second shows myths from the Balkan around the sexual organs which makes a rather funny erotic little film.

'House Call' (from Richard Prince) is a vintage sex scene and comes, together with 'Impaled', closest to pornography. Maybe 'Sync' (Marco Brambilla) as well, but it only exists out of very, very fast cuts from different porn films and plays for about two minutes. 'Hoist' (Matthew Barney) is too much art, which becomes rather ridiculous with the sex, and 'Death Valley' opens with a beautiful shot only to continue with an 8-minute masturbation scene. I guess it does catch the essence of contemporary porn.

I have not mentioned Gaspar Noé's 'We F*ck Alone' where he seems to have made a stylistic sequel to his controversial 'Irréversible'. His use of the strobe makes this one quite hard to watch. The film itself, including a doll as a main character, becomes unintentionally funny. His film feels as a failed experiment, basically like 'Destricted' as a whole. The premise and some elements have their interesting things, but I can not think of a real audience for it.

The Boat

Nice, but does not belong to Keaton's greatest
'The Boat' shows Buster Keaton as a boat builder, taking his wife and two children to the launch of his boat. As the four hit the ocean they learn there are quite some surprises to this boat. That things will not happen as planned is an understatement. Although there are quite some nice gags in this short film, it is only mildly funny.

The first half is so much more entertaining than the second, which seems a little boring. It uses more of the same gags and the new ones play too long. Keaton is able to show his physical a couple of time, using the entire boat as a prop, making this short a nice part in his oeuvre. On the other hand, he could have done without 'The Boat'.

The Critic

Great early Mel Brooks cartoon
'The Critic' shows some sort of modern art cartoon, where figures move and change in all kinds of colours. In the background we hear a man giving his ideas about what he sees, completely without a clue. Apparently the man is old and from Russia. The voice is from Mel Brooks.

Although it is only three minutes long, it contains more laughs than many feature comedies made today. Mel Brooks makes this cartoon hilarious. It is funny to consider that quite some people were actually thinking, when it came to modern art like this, the strange things he says. I highly recommend this Oscar winning cartoon.

The Electric House

No Keaton magic
The Buster Keaton short 'The Electric House' is fun to watch, does not bore, but misses the most important element to make a Buster Keaton short brilliant. The thing I mean is his physical magic, displayed in almost all of his short film, almost completely missing here.

As a fake electric engineer Keaton installs electricity in the house of rich man while he is on vacation. Once the man is back Keaton shows him a lot of electrical surprises. There is an electric snooker table, a train that delivers food, a pool able the empty itself and a lot of other stuff. Of course things do not go as they should, especially when the real electrical engineer arrives.

The problem here is the electricity, almost making a statement: electricity makes men useless. The fun in 'The Electric House' comes from the machines, how they work and at times how they fail to work. This leaves little room for Keaton to show what he does best. It is fun alright, but not much more.

No Time for Nuts

Another fine piece of from starring Scrat
This Oscar-nominated short film stars Scrat once again, the speechless creature we originally met in 'Ice Age'. Since then he appeared in the brilliant animated short 'Gone Nutty' and was responsible for a lot of laughs in 'Ice Age: The Meltdown'. Here he finds a time machine which puts him in another setting, a lot actually, which is refreshing and a problem at the same time.

After having seen him in three different things basically repeating the same joke the new settings give the creators a lot of possibilities. With the time machine Scrat goes back to ancient times, but also to the far future, all good for at least a smile. But we used to laugh about Scrat and his pursuit of happiness, in his case a nut to eat. Now we laugh less about him and more about the gags created with both the time travel and the new times Scart finds himself in.

Still, 'No Time for Nuts' makes us laugh enough about Scrat himself and with a slightly different approach this is another entertaining thing with his presence.

The Story of Menstruation

Disney's take on menstruation
Here is one of those educational short films made to learn the unknown people out there about facts of life. This time the target audience is preteen girls, the fact of life is menstruation. This animated film, created by Walt Disney Pictures, apparently with some sponsoring from Kotex.

It starts with explaining how hormones make you grow and develop. With the help of animation and a female narrator it shows us how the body, especially the ovaries, uterus and vagina, work and why this all leads to menstruation. It is almost amazing, becoming the comic note here, how the subject of sex is avoided. Even the word is never mentioned although "furtilized" will pass once. I don't really know why I saw this, but since it is one of those rare short films that could give an impression of an innocent time, you might want to give it a try.

Batman: Dead End

Batman vs. The Joker, with extras
'Batman: Dead End' is a short film made by Sandy Collora on a small budget and considering that he has done a nice job. We see Batman (Clark Bartram) putting on his suit, as a Batman-film should begin, before going after The Joker (Andrew Koenig), escaped from Arkham Asylum once again. They fight, have some dialogue together, and then you should stop reading if you do not want to know who will enter this short film next.

The Joker gets destroyed by Predator, the alien character from the Arnold Schwarzenegger film with the same name ('Predator', not 'Schwarzenegger') before Batman is attacked by an Alien, known from the 'Alien'-series starring Sigourney Weaver. How it all ends up exactly you should see for yourself in this dark but nicely made short film which almost could be considered as a little preview for the 2004 film 'Alien vs. Predator'. On entertaining values I would choose to see 'Batman: Dead End' and leave it at that.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Flawed, but highly recommended
'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' is a faithful book adaptation which is both a good and a bad thing. For people who have read the book, written by Patrick Süskind, and liked it this is a film they are quite likely to like as well. They think of a passage from the book and how it could look, and director Tom Tykwer and his crew have made it look probably close to their imagination. The visuals, especially in the second half of the film truly are extraordinary. But film is another medium than books and in my opinion some minor changes would have helped the film.

One important thing is its pacing. If you know nothing about the story there is a good chance you will find the middle part quite dull and the final act going too fast. Let's start at the beginning. We meet Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, being born on the fish market in Paris in the 18th century. The boy, who has no scent of his own, has a sense of smell that could lead him anywhere in the dark. To collect different scents becomes an obsession until, after I have skipped quite a bit from the story, as an adolescent (played by Ben Whishaw) he smells a woman in the way he has never smelled it. For the first time he sees, or actually smells, beauty. Sort of by accident he kills the woman and then tries to capture the scent, in which he fails to do so. This changes a couple of things.

First of all he decides he wants to be a perfumer and he chooses Baldini (Dustin Hoffman) as his teacher. He wants to be this so he can learn how to keep the essence of a scent. All this leads him to Grasse, the perfume capital of the world where he learns a technique which he is about to try on different women. Since Jean-Baptiste has no feeling whatsoever, killing the woman first seems most easy. He needs thirteen samples to create his masterpiece and we learn quite early in the film that Laura (Rachel Hurd-Wood) will be his final victim. She is the daughter of the powerful Antoine Richis (Alan Rickman).

How the story unfolds is for you to see, but to say it is interesting is an understatement. The ending feels oddly out of tone with the rest of the film, although it was done how it probably should have been. If Tykwer had chosen another approach he would have made a lot of readers upset. The screenplay part here might not please some, but read the novel to understand Tykwer's choices.

The feeling of watching some problems with translating things from text to images was always there. Especially the voice over, done superbly by John Hurt, emphasized this thought. I was often amazed, impressed by the visuals, the Whishaw-performance and most of all by Tykwer's brave attempt to make a film out of a book that was considered unfilmable. On the other hand I was never impressed by the film itself. Almost, most of all in the end, but I never really got there. Still, 'Perfume' is a unique film which deserves praise on a lot of levels.

Little Red Riding Rabbit

Fine Bugs Bunny cartoon
In 'Little Red Riding Rabbit' we follow Little Red Riding Hood on her way to grandma. She brings him a bunny rabbit, Bugs Bunny of course. This time the wolf, hiding in grandmas bed, is not interested in the little girl (presented slightly more mature than you might expect), but in the rabbit. While the wolf is chasing Bugs, the girl interrupts them from time to time.

This cartoon, the first to credit Mel Blanc for his voice work, has a great start and ending, both good for some great laughs. The middle part is pretty standard with the chasing moments, although I liked it when they were interrupted by a very annoying Little Red Riding Hood. Maybe this cartoon does not belong to the greatest, it is entertaining nonetheless.

Big Heel-Watha

'Big Heel-Watha' tells the story of an Indian with only one feather, hunting down the Screwball Squirrel. The chief has ordered every Indian to try to get some food; he who succeeds can marry his daughter. After the one-feathered Indian found some animals his mind is set on the squirrel, leading us to a couple of funny surprises in the end.

This cartoon is very funny from start to finish. The Indian village is seen as some kind of modern corporation, the Indian knows he is in a cartoon and comments on it, the scene where he chases the squirrel on water is hilarious and the ending, especially the moment between the chief and his daughter, is perfect. I highly recommend this great cartoon.

DOA: Dead or Alive

Mindless fun, for some
Apparently there is a video game named "DOA" where the best martial art fighters decide who is the best on a secret island where things are a little different than in the rest of the world. I thought this game was called "Mortal Kombat", getting its movie in 1995 being one of my guilty pleasures. So apparently the game "DOA" is not that original which leaves close to nothing for the movie, I thought.

We start with the introducing of the three leading characters, babes I should say, played by Devon Aoki, Jaime Pressly and Holly Valance. They all have their own qualities which we learn before they meet. On the island they have to work together to make it to the tournament in time and so the story, sort of, can start. The three leads all have their own sidekick, also in the tournament for whatever reason. One even has two! The last important characters are the host of the tournament Donovan (Eric Roberts, who looks a lot like Christopher Lambert in 'MK') and his sidekick Helena (Sarah Carter), also participating in the tournament.

In the way the story develops my thought were right. If you have seen 'Mortal Kombat' you know it all, including subplots involving dead relatives and romance. But there are some things 'DOA' has to offer and you might enjoy it. The movie finds enough opportunities to show us the PG-13 parts of breasts and buttocks, which could be entertaining for some, but is funny for most. I enjoyed the kinetic energy from time to time and most of the time the martial arts looked good, especially when the ladies were not involved (since then the b&b's as stated above were prioritized). I also enjoyed how it was shameless in borrowing inventions from other movies, most obvious from 'House of Flying Daggers' and 'Kill Bill' (that other film that borrowed quite a lot). Of course both movies have a completely different target audience, so who cares, right?

As a simple action comedy I simply have to admit this movie kind of works. It is more interested in showing babes than in anything else, but it does not try to hide that. Most of the comedy, no matter how stupid it is, brings a smile. I would not really recommend this film, but if you are able to enjoy loud action films, this time with a good enough choreography and comedy, this might entertain you.

The Devil Wears Prada

Average comedy, lifted by performances
In a way 'The Devil Wears Prada' is a very recommendable film. It contains enough laughs for a comedy and is build around a perfect performance from Meryl Streep. On the other hand the film always feels fabricated, with scenes both predictable and unnecessary. We follow a young girl, just graduated, named Andy (Anne Hathaway) who takes the job of Miranda Priestly's assistant. Priestly is the chief editor of a fashion magazine and although Andy gives nothing about fashion, it will help her to get a job for any magazine later in life. Miranda (Streep) is the devil from the title, driving most people around her crazy. Of course Andy's personal life, especially dealing with boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier), will be messed up. Close to Miranda are her first assistant Emily and fashion man Nigel, superbly played by Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci.

Reading the above gives you probably an idea of how the screenplay will continue. But the film does not really care for its own story and why should it? It has Meryl Streep. Every single scene is made entertaining by her, and admittedly, Blunt does the same things with her scenes. For some reason it is always fun to see mean people as long as you are able to realize they probably have a good heart. Hathaway is the sweet girl and she is good in playing sweet girls. That said 'The Devil Wears Prada' is basically just another comedy, elevated by performances. Worth seeing, most definitely, but don't expect too much because then it might disappoint you.

True Grit

It's a western alright
I can't help it, but when I see a character played by John Wayne I always keep seeing John Wayne. That is not necessarily a bad thing; I keep seeing Julia Roberts in her performances, but some of her versions do the job quite good. I have to say, after his performance in 'The Searchers' I think this is his best. Maybe not Oscar-worthy, although he did win, but good enough.

Here he is a marshal who teams up with the girl who hired him and a Texas ranger (Glen Campbell) to find Tom Chaney, a man who killed the girl's father and a Senator. The girl, named Mattie Ross (Kim Darby), insists on coming along on the road which leads us to many pretty sights. The story itself is western in its purest form, with the law against the outlaw and a woman to keep things interesting.

'True Grit' is beautifully shot and it does almost everything right on other aspects, puts in some minor surprises at the right times, is well acted (Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper also turn up), but for some reason I thought of it as "just another western". Maybe by now, which could be considered 1969 as well, we have seen too many of these classic westerns. I love most of them starring Wayne, from 'Stagecoach' to 'The Searchers' and from 'Red River' to 'El Dorado', but most of the time they are directed by John Ford or Howard Hawks. (I could go on with 'Fort Apache', 'Rio Bravo', 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' and even 'Rio Lobo'.) Director Henry Hathaway's contributions to The Duke's oeuvre are nice, 'True Grit' being the best, but for me it ends there.

What's Cookin' Doc?

Nice Bugs Bunny
'What's Cookin' Doc' is partly cartoon, partly live action. First we get a live action introduction to the Academy Awards. Then we go inside and meet Bugs Bunny who thinks he is up for the Best Actor award. When the winner is revealed it is not Bugs but James Cagney who takes the honors. Then we see Bugs explaining why he should have win the award. To make his point he shows a piece from a cartoon he starred in.

I liked this short film, although there were no real laughs. A lot of smiles and chuckles, especially in how Bugs is mocking the Academy. There is quite some truth in what is said. The cartoon is one of the censored (which basically means banned) cartoons since it depicts Native Americans in an offensive way. I understand why that is, but on the other hand it is quite innocent. Judge for yourself.

Fifty Percent Grey

Three nice minutes of your time
'Fifty Percent Grey' takes only three minutes of your time to watch and you might as well give it that. It shows a soldier waking up in a grey area, empty except for a television and a video recorder. He plays the tape which tells him he is dead and the place he is seeing is heaven. He decides to shoot himself waking up in the same place, although the television and video recorder have changed a little. I will leave the clue for you to discover.

This may not be a great animated short, it definitely works. There even seems a little hidden theme in the way the place looks like, especially when he wakes up two more times after he has shot himself. The animation is good, the Oscar nominated film itself quite entertaining.

Fantastic Four

Entertaining enough
There is something in 'Fantastic Four' I have been waiting for: a superhero who thinks his superpowers are really cool, even calling his new fitting suit a "costume". I know that Robin from 'Batman Forever' had the same thought, but he had no superpowers, just a lot of gadgets, a mask and a cape. Some x-men maybe shared the thought as well, but the negativity against mutants made it different there. So, back to 'Fantastic Four' and the reason I bring this little thing up at the start of this review. Although this may not be a flawless entry in the superhero-genre, it is one that has some new ideas. Together with entertaining characters and story, some humor and nice visual effects what can go wrong in a superhero movie?

Nothing really, as 'Fantastic Four' proves. As did 'Blade', 'X-Men', 'Spider-Man', 'Hellboy' and even 'Daredevil'. These films are not flawless but made in the right way, finding out not only how to work as a comic book but also as a movie. 'Blade', 'X-Men' and 'Spider-Man' all got sequels that were better, showing they had learned. For a first film 'Fantastic Four' brings the right stuff, for its sequel it has to improve. But that's for later.

The story centers around four heroes all with their own power, which they got from radiation while being in outer space. I spare you the details. The leader is Reed (Ioan Gruffudd) who is elastic. His love interest is Sue (Jessica Alba), the invisible girl with some extra powers. Her brother is Johnny (Chris Evans), who can turn into a fireball. Last but not least there is Ben (Michael Chiklis) who has turned into a man made out of rock. He is the muscles from the group. The villain is Doom, once named Victor Von Doom (Julian McMhaon), once lover of Sue, also infected with the radiation. I guess that is all you need to know.

The powers and villain are interesting enough to keep our attention while the human story behind the heroes makes it more interesting than it could have been. I could have done without the love story between Reed and Sua, but you simply got to have it these days. Near the end the film is rushing a little, but they took quite the time to get the story underway. To keep the movie withing the two hours it seems like a wise decision. Further than these things I have little complaints, especially considering this is the first 'Fantastic Four'-effort. If the characters develop and the humor stays the same, we might have something here when the sequel arrives.

The Truth About Charlie

A terrible remake of a great classic
'The Truth About Charlie' is not worthy to be a remake of the great 'Charade'. To be honest, I don't even get why they had to remake that film since it still works today, both as a Hitchcockian thriller and as comedy. But they did remake it, and where the original film stars Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, two of the greatest stars in the movies, this film gives us Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton. Personally I like Wahlberg, especially in 'Boogie Nights', 'Three Kings' and later film 'The Departed', but apparently this role was for Grant only; Wahlberg does not pull it off. For me personally Newton ruined the film. I never understood whether this film contained the comedic elements as they were in 'Charade' or not, but whatever it was, it felt weird and out of place. Mainly, Newton's performance was the cause of this.

The second distraction comes from Paris as the setting. Director Jonathan Demme, who has lost most of his 'The Silence of the Lambs'-touch, is too much in love with it. By now the world has seen the Eiffel Tower, and for that matter has heard Charles Aznavour (who appears from time to time), and the film does not realize this. If the story is only a backdrop for a place and an atmosphere, at least show us elements of both things we are not acquainted with. The story, by the way, deals with Newton as Regina Lambert who finds out Charlie, her husband for three months, now dead, used to lead more than one life. Apparently he had six million dollars in diamonds and now the French police, a couple of former soldiers who fought with Charlie, and a character played by Tim Robbins are after it. Mark Wahlberg's character named Joshua Peters pops up everywhere Newton seems to need him, meaning his role will stay vague as long as the film wants it to be.

When the closing scenes finally arrived I did not care anymore. Who was who and why and for what reason; it didn't matter to me, I was just glad the film was over. The final scenes were supposed to have some suspense in it, but even that was spoiled by annoying close-ups and many cuts. I have seen quite some bad films over the years but this time I was really amazed with such good material wasted in such a complete way.

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