This week - Team America:World Policec - The Phantom of the Opera - After the Sunset
***** Excellent. Don't miss it!
**** Very good. See it!
*** Good. It's up to you.
** Average. Nothing special.
* Waste of time. Forget it.
Team America: World Police
Director: Trey Parker
The mission of "Team America" is to thoroughly piss off as many people as possible. This movie is definitely nastier and more profane than the filmmakers' hit-animation "South Park," but it is, I'm sorry to say, not nearly as funny. So much time has been spent looking for ways to gross-out and offend everyone around that comical timing and well-worked jokes come second. Still, the filmmakers have done a good job severely battering both right and left wing Americans with their satire. "Team America" is quite clever in its own self-absorbed and juvenile kind of way. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are a couple of anally fixated kids who love to yell f**k! f**k! f**k! f**k! and then snigger hysterically over their own naughtiness. I say let them have their fun. ** ? (Julie Vinten)
Wow. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of that wacky cult favorite "South Park," are at it again. This time they use puppets to make an irreverent, scandalous and totally irresponsible statement on the current world situation. "Team America: World Police" has to be one of the freakiest films this reviewer has ever seen. A group of gung-ho American superheroes destroy the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids and a lot more in their enthusiasm to save the world from the tyrannical despot Kim Jong Il. This reviewer split his gut laughing during this flick's riotous sex scene, making this the first-ever puppet porno. Everyone who appreciates the absurd, outrageous and skewered will have an enjoyable time. All others stay away. Great laughs from the songs too. F**k yeah! **** (Laimons Juris G)
The Phantom of the Opera
Director: Joel Schumacher
The greatest strength this movie possesses is that the actors in the leading roles can both act and sing tremendously well, and aren't merely a bunch of actors who have been taking some off-set singing-lessons. Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum exorcise their voices and acting skills with power and vigor. However, this screen version of the famous musical is strangely unexciting and unmemorable, and the magnificent sets, splendid costumes and potent score can't change that fact. Though attractive to the eye, the movie has little emotional impact and never takes our breath away. Director Joel Schumacher remains overly faithful to the stage-production nature of the musical, which has done it very little good as a movie. "The Phantom of the Opera" is clearly watchable but lacks some real oomph. ** ? (Julie Vinten)
Earning over $3 billion worldwide, Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" is one of the most successful musicals in theater history. Based on the 1910 Gaston Leroux novel there have been over a dozen film treatments, including a rock 'n' roll "Phantom of the Paradise" in 1974. This Webber-sanctioned version is an impressive, mesmerizing experience possessing a dreamy make-believe quality. Lurking in a labyrinth of caverns beneath the Paris opera, the Phantom (Gerald Butler) has been an unseen mentor and substitute father to Christine (Emmy Rossum). Butler and Rossum are terrific in their roles. Minnie Driver is wonderful to watch as Carlotta, a pernicious, temperamental diva. She is the only cast member not singing herself. The sets are sumptuous and the drama is believable. Romantics get out your hankies. **** (Laimons Juris G)
After the Sunset
Director: Brett Ratner
Brett Ratner has turned out to be a rather dreary director. His latest production does have some entertainment value, but it's overall quite banal and irrelevant. "After the Sunset" focuses on the admiration/annoyance relationship between Pierce Brosnan's jewel thief and Woody Harrelson's FBI agent. The movie's narrative is feeble, but had there been real chemistry between the two actors, the movie would have worked. There is, however, very little of this chemistry. It's a good thing that Salma Hayek is as gorgeous as she is with the immensely unthankful role she plays. This is wannabe Elmore Leonard - without the wit and with only half the fun. That said, the movie has its moments of enjoyable entertainment and you might have fun watching it - five minutes later, it will be forgotten. ** (Julie Vinten)
Long-suffering FBI agent Stanley Lloyd (Woody Harrelson) has been trying to catch two clever jewel-thieving lovers, Max and Lola (Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek). But they always manage to slip away. There is something quite uncomfortable about this commercial endeavor. The entire cast try much too hard to be expressive and natural, but only come across as stiff, pretentious and melodramatic. The one exception is Naomie Harris who plays a local Caribbean policewoman. She adds a bit of fun and spice to the overly familiar plot. Most of your time will be spent admiring the Bahamas background. It's a darn shame, but boring Brosnan peaked as the last incarnation of James Bond. He is not entertaining to watch, nor is Harrelson. Petite Hayek is a luscious eyeful as usual. ** (Laimons Juris G)