Movie preview

  • 2004-12-01
This week - Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement - Cellular - Madhouse

Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement

Director: Gary Marshall

This sappy sequel is made of unnecessary fluff and a lot of royal BS. Anne Hathaway is a charming actress, but this comedy isn't appealing or sweet like her previous outing "Ella Enchanted," in which she played basically the same character. "Princess Diaries 2" sometimes knowingly satirizes the stereotypes and cliches of its genre, but unfortunately, it's also a helpless slave to them making the movie predictable and bland. Sure, the film has a good heart, but that doesn't stop it from being nauseatingly saccharine and hysterical. It doesn't understand the concept of comic timing and goes for absurd slapstick rather than solid jokes. Young girls with royal dreams will possibly like it, but there is no guarantee they won't actually find it as terribly unbearable as their parents. (Julie Vinten)

Five years have passed since Mia (Anne Hathaway) learned she was next in line to the royal throne of Genovia. Her grandmother, Clarisse (Julie Andrews), is the current queen of that tiny kingdom. There are a lot more groans than laughs in this trite and sugarcoated sequel. The luxuriant sets, costumes and photography are totally wasted in this dull bit of commercial fluff. If you are well over the age of 9, there is nothing of interest in this overindulgent cliche directed by 70-year-old Garry Marshall. However, if you are a pubescent princess at heart then this will definitely send you to seventh heaven. The only tolerable scene is a duet sung by Andrews and Disney channel pop star Raven. Otherwise it's reminiscent of a third-rate TV program. (Laimons Juris G)


Director: David R. Ellis

"Cellular" is a simple and straightforward B-movie. It never wants to be anything else, and that is precisely why it works. Both silly and clever, but most of all unpretentious, this fast-paced, engaging little flick is high on entertainment, boasting energetic car chases and a number of surprising laughs. We race ahead for 94 minutes without any real character development and without being told any background detail. However, you will easily forgive this and the story's many implausible elements because the filmmakers haven't forgotten why they made the movie: to entertain. They don't try to add some deeper meaning to the story, which would probably have ruined it all together anyway. Though you will soon forget ever watching "Cellular," you will have a splendid time watching it. (Julie Vinten)

Without a proper introduction, barely five minutes into this film, Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger) is kidnapped. She is thrown into an attic where head-honcho bad-guy Greer (Jason Statham) smashes an old wall-phone there. And before you can say "MacGyver," Jessica manages to assemble the broken pieces. College student Ryan (Chris Evans) happens to answer her one and only call. If you can suspend your belief in logic and the laws of reality, then you'll thoroughly enjoy this comedy parody of every thriller ever made. An impressive cast, which includes William H. Macy, does its best to help you enjoy the action-packed ride. Newcomer Evans is fun to watch, while Basinger's hyperventilating, lip-quivering antics are a riot. The 51-year-old actress can proudly claim her title as the Queen of Camp. (Laimons Juris G)


Director: William Butler

When Clark (Joshua Leonard) arrives to serve his internship at the Cunningham Hall mental health facility, he quickly realizes that ghastly things are happening there. Don't expect any suspense, surprises or scares from this mundane horror-thriller, which is quite cheesy, but hasn't enough humor to make the cheesiness more palatable. The story is riddled with loose ends, and things that weren't clear to begin with make less and less sense the more you think about them. It's one of those annoying movies with a twist ending that's so obvious you guess it within the first 10 minutes. When the ending comes, you just hope that you guessed wrong, and when it turns out you haven't, you feel fiercely cheated for wasting your time on something so completely banal and pointless. (Julie Vinten)

What could be more innovative than a horror film set in a mental institution? Gee, do you think William Butler ("Black Velvet Pantsuit") will be nominated for an Oscar as best director next year? Seriously folks, you have to be a legitimate fanatic of the genre in order to watch this film even once. The lead actors are actually likable as well as sympathetic, though completely unfamiliar. The movie manages to convey an undercurrent of creepiness, leaving you feeling quite uncomfortable. Everything about the production is professionally done, paying special attention to every gory detail. How did it become just another dreary dud in the discarded pile of wasted celluloid, instead of a moneymaking blockbuster? As a flick "Madhouse" isn't one of the worst, nor one of the best. (Laimons Juris G)