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"Harry Potter" Series Finally Finds Its Magic: "Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Saved!" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 15 June 2004 18:00

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter & the Prisoner of AzkabanHARRY POTTER & THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN

Anyone interested in the distinction between routine direction and inspired direction – anyone who has ever wondered what, exactly, it is that a director brings to a movie – should compare Chris Columbus’ first two Harry Potter films with Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban, helmed by Alfonso Cuaron; Columbus’ films are the work of a by-the-numbers craftsman, and Cuaron’s is the work of an artist. (Which isn’t to say that everyone will prefer Cuaron’s style; many people would rather dine on Big Macs than filet mignon.) Cuaron isn’t quite able to overcome the series’ built-in limitations – the familiarity of the storytelling arc, the “surprising” character reversals that aren’t really much of a surprise, the fact that all three movies are too damned long – but for those viewers, like me, who’ve never been overly enamored of the Harry Potter film series, Azkaban is as fine an entertainment as you could hope for, a visually audacious work with moments of true magic, and it improves on Chris Columbus’ vision tenfold.

 
Latest Disaster Flick a Moronic Mess: "The Day After Tomorrow," "Raising Helen," and "This Old Cub" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 08 June 2004 18:00

The Day After TomorrowTHE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

Despite all the hullabaloo about the film re-opening vociferous debate about global warming and its possible effects, Roland Emmerich’s disaster saga The Day After Tomorrow winds up begging exactly one question: Just how much stupidity are mass audiences willing to accept in their summer blockbusters? In any disaster movie, rolling your eyes at the ridiculous onscreen events comes with the territory, but the enjoyable ones temper that reaction with speed and laughs; Emmerich’s cheeky, entertaining Independence Day managed the feat of making the end of the world look like an absolute hoot, and that film, within its sci-fi format, is probably the most sheerly pleasurable disaster flick of the past 20 years.

 
"Shrek 2" Won’t Win New Converts: Also, "Breakin' All the Rules" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 25 May 2004 18:00

Shrek 2SHREK 2

If a sequel manages to make any improvements on the original, it’s usually cause for at least minor celebration, so I was pleased to see a few changes for the better in Dreamworks’ computer-animated Shrek 2.

 
"Troy" Plays Like Greek Bedtime Story: Also, "Touching the Void" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 18 May 2004 18:00

Brad Pitt in TroyTROY

About 100 minutes into Troy – director Wolfgang Petersen’s and screenwriter David Benioff’s very loose adaptation of Homer’s The Iliad, which details the events leading up to and during The Trojan War – there’s a battle sequence that gives the audience a true rush.

 
"Van Helsing" Forgets to Add a Funny Bone: Also, "Laws of Attraction" and "Elephant" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 11 May 2004 18:00

Hugh Jackman in Van HelsingVAN HELSING

Stephen Sommers’ action thriller Van Helsing, the first of 2004’s torrent of summer blockbusters, is big, loud, frenetic, and almost no fun at all. For those who’ve missed the omnipresent previews, the film is a special-effects bonanza featuring Hugh Jackman as the titular character, a taciturn growler who spends 130 minutes attempting to rid his corner of Europe from a series of CGI-created monsters, and it’s all treated with such solemnity that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Henrik Ibsen listed as a screenwriter.

 
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