Dean Georgaris

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The Crazies Review


Good
As far as unnecessary remakes go, this revamp of the 1973 George A Romero B-movie thriller is actually pretty good fun, thanks to sharp direction, a strong cast and some extremely unnerving touches.

In a small Iowa farming community, Sheriff David (Olyphant) and his pregnant wife Dr Judy (Mitchell) are perplexed by the odd behaviour of the townsfolk, who begin losing their minds and acting out violently against each other. Then David and his deputy (Anderson) discover a mysterious crashed plane nearby, followed by an invasion of government containment officials who round up the residents and separate them into groups of infected and healthy. But something's still not right, and the craziness only escalates.

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What Happens in Vegas... Review


Terrible
The battle for the human heart has official morphed from witty, sophisticated banter between star-crossed lovers to something akin to mixed martial arts. Or, in the case of the new Ashton Kutcher/Cameron Diaz romcom What Happens in Vegas..., dull marital artifice. In this cloying, created-by-committee exercise in screaming and facial mugging, personal humanity is reduced down to five or six of the seven deadly sins -- particularly: greed, sloth, and... no wait, that's about it. As a result, we witness gender dynamics as primitive pandering.

After getting dumped by her stiff-collared fiancé, efficient New York securities trader Joy McNally (Diaz) gets talked into a trip to Sin City by her best friend, slutty bartender Tipper (Lake Bell). A mix up at the front desk finds recently fired NYC furniture builder Jack Fuller (Kutcher) and his shyster slacker pal Hater (Rob Corddry) sharing the same room. A night of drunken debauchery finds Joy and Jack married. As they discuss divorce, the random pull of a slot machine sees the pair win $3 million. Taking the matter to court, a defiant judge (Dennis Miller) orders the pair to actually live as husband and wife for six months. If they survive, they'll split the money. But if one fails, it's an unexpected windfall for the other.

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Tristan & Isolde Review


Excellent
Kevin Reynolds is one of Hollywood's most unjustly maligned filmmakers. I'm frequently astounded by the fact that his superior craftsmanship is not more widely recognized. Surely his attention to detail and sensual prowess is equal that of championed filmmakers like Ridley and Tony Scott (who both produced this film).

I suspect that most of this disregard is due to the fact that more often than not Reynolds' films are burdened with clunky and sentimental scripts. Films like Rapa Nui and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves were gorgeously shot and produced but weighed down by melodrama and hobbled by sentimentality. And then there was the whole Waterworld debacle from which it seems Reynolds has never really recovered. The Count of Monte Cristo was a start, but this is the film that should bring Reynolds back to the table. (I happen to think Waterworld is fantastically accomplished and enormously entertaining but don't tell anyone I said that.)

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The Manchurian Candidate (2004) Review


Extraordinary
I'm a huge fan of the original Manchurian Candidate, so naturally I approached Jonathan Demme's redo with some amount of trepidation. In this, the year of the shoddy remake, we've already seen such hack jobs as The Stepford Wives, The Big Bounce, and The Punisher, among a half-dozen or so updates. The catch of course is that the original Manchurian is a classic. If Demme screwed it up, it wouldn't be the same as if he'd botched a Dolph Lundgren movie.

With a heavy sigh of relief I'm happy to report that Demme's done right by the original. Demme takes the best of the 1962 movie, updates it appropriately for the corporate power-trip of the 2000s, and puts some spin into the plot, so even if you watched the original on DVD last week, you still won't be able to guess how this one will end.

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Paycheck Review


Weak
Sci-fi fans will see clear similarities between John Woo's action/thriller Paycheck and Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall (1991). Both deal with memory and identity, as adapted from stories by author Philip K. Dick. Both star thousand-watt Hollywood celebrities (Ben Affleck here, Governor Schwarzenegger in Recall) in roles that ask little from them. And, most disappointingly, both shun an intellectual and sturdy drama that would fit the subject matter perfectly, choosing action and cornball dialogue instead.

"My life is nothing but highlights," confesses Mike Jennings (Affleck), a genius computer hacker who trades big cash for small chunks of his own memory. Jennings gets rich by dissecting massive programs and passing the goods onto rival companies - at which point, all recent activity is erased from his brain.

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Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life Review


Grim
What is it about archaeology that makes us want to go to the movies? Is it the magic of being able to breathe life into ancient legends, like the riddle of the Sphinx and the lost city of Atlantis? Is it the illusion of uncovering the secrets behind grand and mystical artifacts, like the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail? Or is it simply the white bodysuit that fits Angelina Jolie so tightly that you can't possibly avoid looking at her nipples?

If you chose the latter, you'll definitely want to arrive on time to see Tomb Raider sequel Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, for the first twenty minutes are packed with plenty to gawk at. There's Jolie -- er, Croft -- riding in on a jet ski wearing a black sports bra and soaking wet shorts. There's Croft climbing aboard a ship as seductively as possible while two deckhands watch greedily. There's Croft appearing on deck in the all-too-critical bodysuit, ready to dive into the water and fight a shark one-on-one. And there's even Croft doing some unnecessary splits in mid-air as she rolls her way toward the mysterious "orb" -- an object that soon becomes the focus of the movie due to the fact that it holds the map to the legendary Pandora's box.

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