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Movie Renter's Guide
 

Number 130 - January, 2006

Staff

 


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March of the Penguins The Brothers Grimm
Wedding Crashers The Marksman
The Cave Lord of War
Two for the Money Half Light
Flightplan  

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Warner Brothers

2005, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 25 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Luc Jacquet


Starring the Emperor Penguins of the Antarctic, Narrated by Morgan Freeman

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

Birds mating

Language

No

"March of the Penguins"

Synopsis

This documentary, narrated by Morgan Freeman, tells the story of how penguins of the Antarctic Continent (South Pole) march about 70 miles during the dead of winter to their breeding grounds.

At 700 below zero, the birds form mating pairs, and once the single egg is laid, the females all march back to the sea to feed, while the males stay to keep the eggs warm.

After the eggs hatch, the roles reverse, and the males march to the sea to get food and replace their body fat.

As winter melts into spring, the distance to water decreases until it is only a few hundred yards from the Penguins and their hatchlings. All this time, the males and females have taken turns going to the sea for food.

Now it is time for everyone, adults and offspring, to go back to the sea, and the young penguins begin life on their own.

Commentary

These Emperor Penguins are one variety among seventeen that exist throughout the Southern Hemisphere (none live in the wild in the Northern Hemisphere). There are four varieties in the Antarctic.

This movie reminds me of the True Life Adventure series that Disney produced in the 1960's.

Extras

These include Crittercam (camera on penguins as they dive), of Men and Penguins, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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MGM

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 58 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Terry Gilliam

 

Starring Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Lena Headey, Monica Bellucci, Jonathan Pryce

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

No

"The Brothers Grimm"

Synopsis

Wilhelm (Damon) and Jacob (Ledger) Grimm were two brothers who studied law at the University of Marburg, in Germany. However, they became interested in folk lore, began collecting the stories, and published books based on them.

This particular film tells a tale of how the two brothers go to a village whose children have been kidnapped and taken into a dark forest.

They contract with the village to use their skills to get the children back.

Once in the forest, they find that the strange tales they have collected for their books may actually be true, and now they have to find a hidden tower and destroy an evil queen who is using the children to keep herself young.

Along the way, they meet a beautiful damsel, Angelika (Headey), who is anything but helpless. In fact, she leads the way to the evil queen's tower and helps them get inside.

Unfortunately, Angelika is taken captive by the queen, who hopes to use her as the twelfth and final youngster for her secret potion that will restore her youth.

Commentary

The various tales highlighted in the film include Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and Snow White.

Although it had potential, the film suffers from being too fragmented due to all the classic tales that are intertwined into the Grimm's search for the kidnapped children, and complicated by having the French militia, headed by a slimy character played by Jonathan Pryce, chasing them all the time.

Extras

These include Bringing the Fairytale to Life, Director's Commentary, Deleted Scenes, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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New Line Cinema

2005, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 59 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by David Dobkin


Starring Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, Jane Seymour, Bradley Cooper, Keir O'Donnell, Isla Fisher

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

Bad

"Wedding Crashers"

Synopsis

John Beckwith (Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vaughn) serve as mediators in divorce cases in Washington, D.C. For their pastime, they crash weddings to meet women.

They decide to crash the wedding of the daughter of the US Secretary of the Treasury, William Cleary (Walken).  At the reception, two of the other daughters, Claire (McAdams) and Gloria (Fisher) become interested in them. So, Jeremy heads to the beach with Gloria, and John starts making time with Claire.

The two boys are so popular, they get invited to Secretary Cleary's home for the weekend.

There, they meet mom (Seymour), who makes advances towards John, and Zack Lodge (Cooper), who happens to be Claire's fianc, and who certainly does not like the way John looks at Claire.

The game comes to an end when John and Jeremy find themselves falling in love with the two girls.

Commentary

The critics panned this film, but I thought it was pretty funny, and well worth the rent for an evening. This particular version was "Uncorked", meaning it had some scenes that were not at the theater, and to say the least, they are graphic.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Crash Course in Wedding Crashing, Wedding Crashing Game, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Sony Pictures

2005, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 35 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Marcus Adams

 

Starring Wesley Snipes, Emma Samms, William Hope, Serge Soric, Warren Derosa

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Bad

"The Marksman"

Synopsis

Terrorist rebels in Chechnya attempt to reactivate a nuclear facility and threaten to blow it up, to destabilize the Russian Government.

A US Special Ops officer, nicknamed Painter (Snipes), is assigned to go in and mark the reactor for a missile attack so that it can be destroyed before it is reactivated.

Once in the reactor, he finds that escaping was just a little too easy. His comrades are killed when they are leaving in a helicopter, and now Painter discovers that the reactor has already been reactivated and the missile attack will actually set off a nuclear explosion.

The only way to stop the detonation is to find the terrorist leader who wants the reactor to be attacked.

Commentary

This is pretty standard Snipes fare, namely mediocre.

The plot is actually rather novel, but the script is not up to the job of carrying it through.

The title is a little misleading though. By "Marksman", they are referring to the concept that Snipes is the person who "Marks" the target with a radio device which signals the incoming missile, rather than his being a sniper, which is what I thought it was going to be about.

The film was shot in the Czech Republic, obviously on a limited budget, as I could tell some of the jet scenes were stock footage.

Extras

These include only Scene Selections.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Sony Pictures

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 37 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Bruce Hunt

 

Starring Cole Hauser, Morris Chestnut, Piper Perabo, Lena Headey, Vlad Radescu, Eddie Cibrian, Daniel Dae Kim

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Bad

"The Cave"

Synopsis

Under a church in Romania, a huge cave exists, and the church was placed there to hide ancient creatures.

Cave divers from the US decide to explore the cave, not knowing that the creatures await them.

Now several miles below the surface, the dive team suddenly realizes that they would like to be elsewhere, as the creatures make themselves known.

Unfortunately, a rock slide blocks their original entrance, so they have to find another way out, and it is only through the waters where the creatures live that they can go.

Commentary

When the story begins, explorers are excavating the old church, and they die in the cave. The idea is that they become infected and turn into the creatures. This part of the story is run through much too quickly. The Romanian church atmosphere is just as scary as the cave, and it should have been a bigger part of the tale.

The creatures are shown using puppets rather than CG for most of the time, so it is a refreshing change from the less-than-realistic CG monsters of some recent films.

One odd mistake is that the divers are talking to one another while diving, seemingly by radio, but they all have mouthpieces, so this would have been impossible. I am surprised the director might have thought no one would pick up on this obvious error.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, Designing Evolution, Into the Cave, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Lionsgate

2005, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 1 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Andrew Niccol

 

Starring Nicolas Cage, Bridget Moynahan, Jared Leto, Ethan Hawke, Ian Holm

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

Bad

"Lord of War"

Synopsis

Yuri Orlov (Cage) works for his family in Little Odessa, a part of New York City, where immigrants from the eastern block countries live.

He sees an opportunity to sell an automatic weapon, and it excites him so much, he decides to make a career of it. He asks his brother Vitaly (Leto) to be his partner, but this is not to be , and he goes it alone.

Traveling to an Arms Convention, he meets an international (and notorious) arms dealer, Simeon Weisz (Holm), who brushes Yuri off as an amateur.

Nevertheless, Yuri excels at what he does, and incredible success brings incredible wealth. He uses it to win supermodel Ava Fontaine (Moynahan) as his trophy wife.

Now, Simeon Weisz sees Yuri as a dangerous competitor, rather than the amateur he once met. And Yuri continues to take contracts away from Weisz, partially because one of Yuri's uncles is an officer in Russia, where Yuri obtains his favorite weapon for sale, the AK-47 assault rifle.

All the while Yuri is climbing the ladder of arms sales success, Interpol Agent Jack Valentine (Hawke) is trying to catch him selling the weapons. Meanwhile, at home, his wife does not know Yuri is an arms dealer, and Valentine tries to use her to catch him.

Commentary

This is easily Cage's best work, but it is also just a mesmerizing story regardless of the acting. The introductory scenes, showing how a bullet makes its way from the factory to the killing fields, are worth the price of admission just by themselves.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, Making of, Inside the International Arms Trade, and other things, all spread across the two-disc special edition.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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MCA

2005, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 3 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by D. J. Caruso

 

Starring Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Jaime King, Armand Assante

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

Bad

"Two for the Money"

Synopsis

Brandon Lang (McConaughey) was once a star quarterback on a high school football team, but a leg injury stopped his chances for the bigtime . . .

. . . until a New York sports better, Walter Abrams (Pacino), discovers that Brandon has an incredible ability to pick game winners.

So Walter gives Brandon a job in his company, and begins to build an empire around him, putting him on national TV.

All the while that Walter is having Brandon pick the winners, Walter is fighting his own gambling addiction with the aid of his wife Toni (Russo), who thinks Walter is taking advantage of Brandon and wants him to go home to Las Vegas.

When Walter balks at giving Brandon more than 5% of the winnings, Brandon's skill at picking winners suddenly takes a dive. Walter tries to figure out if Brandon is doing this on purpose or is actually losing his touch.

The stress of losing takes its toll on Walter, and he starts gambling again, borrowing money from gangsters, and now Toni really wants Brandon to leave.

Commentary

The only reason to watch this film is Pacino's incredible acting. It makes the movie. Without him, the story is nothing.

Extras

These include The Making of, Director's Commentary, Insider Interview, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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First Look Pictures

2006, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 44 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Craig Rosenberg

 

Starring Demi Moore, Henry Ian Cusick, Kate Isitt, Beans El-Balawi, Hans Matheson

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

No

"Half Light"

Synopsis

Rachel Carlson (Moore) is a successful novelist living in London with her boyfriend Brian Forester (Cusick), who is a book editor, and her son Thomas (El-Balawi).

When Thomas drowns in a tragic accident, Rachel decides that she needs to get away to a private place where she can be alone to continue her writing.

Her friend arranges for Rachel to rent a cottage on a small island off the coast of England.

So, she goes there, hoping for a rest as well as peace.

This hope is short-lived, as she begins to have spiritual visitations from Thomas, and also meets Angus (Matheson), a lighthouse keeper who was supposed to have died many years before.

The townspeople are not much help, because they believe in ghosts themselves.

Commentary

This is one of those Direct-to-Disc movies that never made it to the theaters. There are reasons for such decisions. The most basic is that they are not very good, and that is the case here, even though Moore does give a top performance. The story is just not very novel. The visitation from a dead family member idea has been beaten to death in the last few years, and that is just not enough to make it now.

Extras

These include only previews for other films, and I would call that "Nuisances" rather than "Extras"

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Touchstone/Disney

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 38 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Robert Schwentke

 

Starring Jodie Foster, Peter Skarsgaard, Sean Bean, Kate Beahan, Marlene Lawston

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

No

"Flightplan"

Synopsis

Kyle Pratt (Foster) decides to go back to the United States when her husband dies in an accident. She arranges for his casket to be taken along.

She boards the jet with her daughter Julia (Lawston) and settles down to sleep when it takes off.

Awakening three hours later, she notices that Julia is not in her seat, so she goes to look for her.

No one remembers Julia boarding the plane, and the roster indicates that she is not a passenger.

Now Kyle panics and starts demanding that the crew search the plane.

At first, the captain (Bean) accommodates her, but when he finds that Kyle's husband has died and that Kyle has been on medication, he begins to wonder if she is delusional. Then, a report comes in that Julia had also died in the accident, so he has an on-board police officer, Carson (Skarsgaard), restrain her in her seat.

However, Kyle knows that Julia was on the jet, and having been a propulsion engineer for this particular aircraft, she knows all the places that Julia might be located.

So, Kyle begins her own search, much to the dismay of the crew and passengers, who try to catch her while she pulls such tricks as turning out all the lights and bringing down the oxygen masks.

Commentary

I thought this movie would be routine, but it is surprisingly good, with a great twist at the end.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, Cabin Pressure, The Making of, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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