The CW’s new drama Cult premieres tonight (February 19, 2013) and viewers should prepare to expect the ridiculous. It’s not bad-ridiculous, it’s good-ridiculous. But it’s ridiculous, nonetheless. A TV show within a TV show, Cult is a many-layered exploration of not only its own storyline, but the influence of social media on modern audiences, too.
The season debut begins with the story of Kelly Collins (Alona Tal), whose sister Meadow (Shauna Johannesen) has gone missing. Kelly is convinced that Meadow and her husband have been lured into a cult by Billy Grimm, the messianic group leader. Just as the audience is fully enraptured by the story, though, it suddenly becomes apparent that Kelly and Meadow are merely characters within a TV show. The TV show, in Cult, is helpfully named Cult. Easy to remember, for sure, though not necessarily so easy to explain. Oh and just to make it a little more confusing? both shows are aired on the CW. Yep.
In the “real world” of the TV show Cult, Jeff Sefton (Matthew Davis) is trying hard to deal with his paranoid brother Nate (James Pizzinato). Nate is convinced that he’s being stalked by the cult, who are in the TV show. Nate also goes missing and Jeff seeks the help of someone working on the show, hoping that she can help him. It remains to be seen whether or not the gimmick of the show, which is being promoted through social media in the hope to engage geeky viewers even further in its many-layered realities, will prove a success or whether audiences will decide they’d rather just be entertained with something a little less multi-dimensional.
BloodRayne is the story of a red-headed half-vampire vixen (Kristanna Loken), a dhampir, on a mission to take revenge against her vampire father (inexplicably portrayed here by a wooden and probably somewhat disoriented Ben Kingsley) and the kingdom of night stalkers over which he rules. There are some motivations behind all this, and from time to time Kingsley and Loken utter lines apparently intended to illustrate these motivations, but mostly it doesn't make sense at all and it doesn't really matter. What does matter is that Rayne comes equipped with a pair of awkward-looking sword-type things and she knows how to use them. Well, she doesn't really, but a series of quick edits make that a moot point.
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Ironically, this incident, where ship's cook Dorie Miller took charge and shot back during America's worst hour on December 7, 1941, is just about the only true event to be found in the entire, oppressive three-hour film. (And our producers are quick to remind us of just how ripped-from-history this little vignette is. Never mind that Gooding has a pitiful excuse for a role with maybe five minutes of screen time.)
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As possibly the last film to come out from Merchant Ivory Productions before the May 2005 passing away of Ismail Merchant, Heights is a good deal more lively than the stiff-necked product the duo became known for, but still suffers from a certain bloodlessness. Based on a one-act play and stretched to its limit, the film follows a few New Yorkers through their day as they run about Chelsea and downtown, leading artistic lives and holding some very obvious secrets. Somewhere along the way the viewer is supposed to go "ah!" as the disparate elements come clicking together, but they're more likely to have lost interest at that point, as the light comedy is continually interspersed with a leavening of twentysomething lassitude.
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Put the gun to my head, pull the trigger, and put me out of my misery. Better yet, put the horror genre out of its misery. When you've finished watching Urban Legends: Final Cut, you'll share my same grim point of view thanks to the horrible acting, terrible script, and ridiculous directing which has become all too common today.
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Relative newcomer Kate Bosworth plays Anne Marie, unofficial leader of a trio of surfer chicks and the only one who's tasted fame. Three years prior, she aced a teen championship and flirted with the pro circuit, but a head-on collision with the coral reef resulted in a near-death drowning incident that Anne Marie just can't shake. Her reluctance to get back on the board threatens her final shot at the Pipeline Championship, and the sponsorships and recognition that come with the pro surfing tour.
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Joel Schumacher, director of some of the worst films in a generation (8MM, Batman & Robin, Batman Forever), redeems himself with his first really good flick since Falling Down in 1993. A tale of army recruits in their final days of training before heading to Vietnam in 1971, Tigerland is an original and modestly powerful anti-war film that never even goes "in country."
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Blonde, as my UA ticket stub so proudly dubbed it, stars Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, a blonde sorority babe with fashion as a major and cuteness as a minor. But when her boyfriend jumps ship to find a more appropriately intelligent brunette, she sends in a Harvard application and follows him to law school.
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A deft ensemble drama with a hard emotional veracity ref=lectingthe complexity that sexual histories impose on modern relationships, "=Heights"takes place over 24 hours that prove unexpectedly pivotal to each of itsof cross-pollinating Manhattan lives.
At the center of one of the film's concentric social circ=lesis Isabel (Elizabeth Banks, "Seabiscuit,&=quot;"CatchMe If You Can"), an aspiring photographe=r,stuck in a rut of wedding assignments. Her engagement to handsome younglawyer Jonathan (James Marsden) is tempered by subtle undercurrents ofuncertainty that may be tested by a pining ex-boyfriend's offer of a dreamassignment for a prestigious news magazine.
Isabel's mother Diana (Glenn Close) -- a blunt, outwardlyself-confident, highly respected stage actress and theater professor atJulliard -- is the hub of another, upper-crust conclave. Her quite liberalopen marriage has taken its toll on her psychological buoyancy (and herdaughter's views of fidelity), especially in the wake of her husband'scurrent philandering with her own understudy from a Broadway productionof "Macbeth."
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Already packed solid with all the claustrophobic wartime tension a good submarine thriller needs, "Below" squeezes in something more -- a startling, bone-chilling element of the supernatural.
Set onboard an American sub called the USS Tiger Shark, cruising the Atlantic during World War II, the tightly drawn story begins with the boat doubling back on its planned course under orders to rescue the only three survivors of a torpedoed British hospital ship -- a crewman, a badly burned patient and a nurse (Olivia Williams), who causes consternation among the crew. She's pretty, sure. But more importantly, maritime superstition holds that women are bad luck on a submarine.
Director David Twohy ("Pitch Black") wastes no time in building seat-gripping suspense. The Tiger Shark's sonar officer picks up an unknown contact just as the sub is surfacing amongst the sunken steamer's debris, so the rescue becomes a palpably perilous race against time. The scene is nerve-wracking, thanks in no small part to Twohy's touches of tense creativity (all the dread he needs is found in a single shot looking back at the captain's eye from inside the periscope) and a potently unsettling, untraditionally military score by Graeme Revell ("Pitch Black," "Blow," "Tomb Raider").
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The handful of battle scenes that make up a good hour of "Pearl Harbor" are adrenaline-pumping and hyper-realistic on a massive scale.
You feel the impact of every single 7.7mm round from dive-bombing Japanese Zeros as they rip through pavement, planes and people in the infamous attack around which the film in centered. Director Michael Bay's camera goes inside cockpits, rides along on bombs from release to explosion, captures the terror of a torpedo in the water from the deck of a ship and includes some of the best special effects ever put on film.
The money shot is a hull-buckling blast that rips through the USS Arizona. It makes being on a luxury liner hit by an iceberg look like a 25-cent carnival ride.
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