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Editor's rating: 
Monday, 14 June 2004 ,  Written by Bill Warren
Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
Jules Verne’s novel “Around the World in 80 Days” has turned up a couple of times as a TV miniseries, both here and in Europe, and once as a big-budget, lavishly-produced (by Mike Todd) epic back in 1956. That’s the one with David Niven, Cantinflas, Shirley MacLaine and what seemed like cameos (a usage devised for that movie) by every movie actor then alive. This new version is, to a degree, a Jackie Chan vehicle—and would have been better had it been even more of a Chan outing, with only a handful of cameos, though one is sure to get the movie plenty of notice. It’s erratic entertainment, probably pleasing to most audiences—certainly the preview audience kept laughing all the way through, with applause at the end. On the other hand, some viewers sat quietly, stone-faced and grumpy, as the wretched ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 11 June 2004 ,  Written by Abbie Bernstein
In audio/visual terms, “The Chronicles of Riddick” is a winner – it’s got a look that borrows a bit from everywhere (Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” is one clear point of reference) but is nevertheless quite cool, and plenty of heft in the impacts of blows and explosions. However, in terms of normal movie attributes – story, characterization, dialogue, emotion – this is disappointing. “Chronicles” is a sequel to 2000’s “Pitch Black,” a nicely tense outer space horror film about a group of stranded travelers who crash-land on a planet filled with nocturnal monsters. Among the group is a prisoner, Riddick (Vin Diesel), who overcomes his cranky loner’s nature to come to the aid of his fellows. Diesel struck the right balance of menace and sensitivity and the monsters were very cool. Writer/director David Twohy (working from a story he’d crafted with Ken ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 04 June 2004 ,  Written by Abbie Bernstein
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is the best yet of the filmed versions of novelist J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, about a young orphan, living with hateful relatives, who discovers on his eleventh birthday that he has a literally magical heritage when he’s whisked away to Hogwarts, a school for young wizards and witches. The previous screen incarnations of “Harry” were charming, but “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” with its characters and cast both entering their teens and slightly more complex and dark story, feels at last like a movie genuinely aimed as much at adults as youngsters. It resonates in ways the earlier films did not attempt to do – and it has some of the most astounding special effects imaginable. Azkaban is the name of the wizarding-world prison. Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), who is notorious for ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 28 May 2004 ,  Written by Bill Warren
This summer action movie has, surprisingly, stirred up a storm of protest, mostly from the right. There are complaints that this is propaganda for John Kerry, which must have come as a big surprise to Kerry. The producers would have had to know more than two years ago that Kerry would be a presidential candidate in order for it to be a campaign movie for him. It’s left-wing only in that it takes the threat of global warming very seriously—as do all industrialized nations in the world, whether their governments be left or right. All, that is, except the current U.S. administration. However, the movie itself simply uses the idea of global warming, and recent theories about the potential suddenness of ice ages, as a thesis for special effects action sequences. It comes out foursquare against global warming—but who in heck ...
Editor's rating: 
Wednesday, 19 May 2004 ,  Written by Abbie Bernstein
As “Shrek” viewers recall, that film ended with the title green ogre hero (voiced by Mike Myers) marrying Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz), a regular fairytale type who was under a curse that caused her to become an ogress every night when the sun went down. The twist in the story was that Fiona discovered that she was actually happier being in love with Shrek and being an ogress – for her, the end of the curse means she’s an ogress full-time instead of just at night. In “Shrek 2,” the happy couple enjoys a comically scenic honeymoon, then return home to the pestering of their loyal if annoying pal Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy). However, domestic bliss is short-lived – Fiona’s parents, the King (voiced by John Cleese) and Queen (voiced by Julie Andrews) of the kingdom of ...
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