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Movie review

  • 2006-12-20
Open Water 2: Adrift
Eragon
The Holiday
The Nativity Story

Open Water 2: Adrift
In "Open Water 2: Adrift," a group of old school friends reunite on board a lavish yacht and set sail for a few days of sun and fun. The boat's owner forces his aquaphobe friend into the water to join their swimming comrades. However, he neglects to release the ladder beforehand, effectively stranding them all beside the high-walled boat. Anger leads to panic as fear, fatigue and hypothermia set in. I liked this film and its classic dramatic premise. There are no evil villains, only people in a terrifying predicament battling bad luck, natural elements and inner demons. The first 20 minutes of the film are not very impressive, particularly the over-abundance of frat-boy dialogue. But once the friends are stranded in the water, the drama builds steadily as opportunities are missed and obstacles accrue. Having almost drowned twice, I found watching this film both uncomfortable and riveting.
( Sherwin Das )

"Open Water 2" is essentially a rerun of its terrifying prequel "Open Water" but without the element of novelty that made the first film such a compelling and disturbing experience. A group of old high-school friends hold a party on a luxury yacht off the coast of Mexico which turns horribly wrong when they all go for a swim and the last one off the boat forgets to lower the ship ladder. After realizing their desperate situation, they try to figure out various ways of climbing back on board but none of them work. Plus, there's a crying baby still on the boat to add to the desperation of its aquaphobic mother. While there's a certain amount of interest in watching a group of obnoxious idiots bobbing up and down in the middle of an ocean, the story is simply too shallow to really be involving. The whole thing sinks without a trace. 
( Tim Ochser )

Eragon
"Eragon" is set in the mythical time period of long ago when mighty dragons who once roamed the earth have now disappeared. But when, as fate would have it, one is secretly born to our young hero Eragon (Edward Speleers), he must live up to his destiny as the chosen one and, with the guidance of his teacher Brom (Jeremy Irons) and his dragon Saphira (voiced by Rashel Weisz), lead a group of freedom fighters against the tyranical King Galbatorix (John Malkovich). The film's by-the-numbers plot and corny lines were a little too much for me. But when I have kids, this is perhaps the kind of film I would drag them along to. It's an innocuous adventure story pitting good against evil and throwing in a flying mythical beast at which I imagine children will squeal in delight and about which many curious questions will follow. 
( Sherwin Das )

I'll sum "Eragon" up in one word: embarrassing. This tale of dragons and evil kings and elves and sorcerers is so bad that it could almost be part of the "Scary Movie" series, which are themselves atrociously bad parodies. Despite having Jeremy Irons, Rachel Weisz, John Malkovich and Robert Carlyle in the cast, "Eragon" just doesn't work. I physically groaned at Jeremy Irons' speech about how "men used to sit astride mighty dragons." But that's nothing compared with Rachel Weisz's talking dragon. Children will rightly enjoy this movie for the fanastic tale it is but it has none of the appeal that endeared "Lord of the Rings" to so many adults. The special effects are good and the story is not completely without charm but "Eragon" is such an obvious attempt to create a "Lord of the Rings"-style franchise that you can't help but judge it harshly as you sit astride your mighty movie-theater seat.
( Tim Ochser )

The Holiday
"The Holiday" is intended to be a feel-good romantic comedy about two lovelorn young women, Amanda (Cameron Diaz) from Los Angeles and Iris (Kate Winslet) from the English countryside, who swap houses and end up finding love and romance in their new locales with Graham (Jude Law) and Miles (Jack Black), respectively. There's not much more to it than that I am afraid. If you've seen the trailer, then you're not in for any surprises. The filmmakers aren't trying to do anything exceptional here except sell a lot of movie tickets during the holidays. And I imagine they will. "The Holiday" is as sugary and sweet as holiday punch. If you 
like mushy in your movies, there's plenty here for you. At over two hours in length, thisis a mush marathon.
1/2 ( SherwinDas )

Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Iris (Kate Winslet) swap homes for the Christmas holidays to get away from problems in their love lives. But in L.A. Iris falls in love with Miles (Jack Black), while Amanda falls in love with Iris' brother Graham (Jude Law) in a quaint Cotswolds village. "The Holiday" made me feel slightly queasy after I left the theater. It's just too much in every way, from the impossibly glamorous jobs of the main characters to their impossibly sweet natures. I love a happy ending as much as the next man but not when it has even less relation to reality than a Cosmopolitan horoscope. Kate Winslet is such a fine actress that she imbues her part with some dignity and warmth but unfortunately the story focuses far more on Jude Law and Cameron Diaz. "The Holiday" will doubtless have people weeping in the aisles but for me it's seriously cynical exploitation. 
( Tim Ochser )

The Nativity Story
"The Nativity Story" tells the age-old story of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Mary sees a vision from the Angel Gabriel telling her that she will soon give birth to the son of God. Her betrothed Joseph agrees to call the child his own despite the disapproval of the community. Meanwhile paranoid King Herod, who is determined to crush any rebellion among his people, takes action to find this Messiah. And three slightly comical yet wise astrologers travel from Persia to Bethlehem to greet the newborn babe. What's most noteworthy about "The Nativity Story" is a certain attempt at authenticity. The actors look like the olive-complexioned Semitic peoples from the region rather than white-washed Western interpretations. And Mary and Joseph's surroundings seem humble rather than romanticized. But overall, this is a traditional retelling of a traditional story which, I suspect, is what the audience for this kind of film pretty much wants.
1/2 ( SherwinDas )

After the edgy "Thitreen" and "Lords of Dogtown," it's curious that director Catherine Hardwicke should turn her attention to the most reactionary story of them all. But there is actually something refreshing about "The Nativity Story." Most critics greeted her retelling of the birth of the ultimate superstar with either indifference or mild derision. True, Hardwicke doesn't go in for Mel Gibson-style flagellation. She tells the story much like we all know it, opening with the massacre of innocent babies under Herod's instructions, then going back a year to the marriage of Joseph and Mary. There really aren't any surprises on offer. But "The Nativity Story" almost comes as a welcome surprise after films like "Deck the Halls" and "The Holiday," which represent everything that is superficial about the industry of Christmas. If I had kids this is probably the one movie I would take them to see over the holidays.
( Tim Ochser )
 

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