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Repo! The Genetic Opera Review


Good
Repo! The Genetic Opera clearly strives to defy description, which of course makes it fun to describe: It's a futuristic rock musical about organ repossession from the director of Saws II through IV, starring Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Paul Sorvino, and Paris Hilton. But it's also surprisingly fun to sit down and watch, provided you're in the mood for a low-budget musical that swings for the fences rather than Oscar glory.

In the year 2056, Rotti Largo (Sorvino) heads up GeneCo, which offers financing options for organ transplants (both medical and cosmetic), and has no qualms about a gory repossession if a buyer misses a payment. Scientist Nathan (Anthony Stewart Head) moonlights as one such repo man while caring for his sick daughter Shilo (Alexa Vega from the Spy Kids movies), who yearns to break free from the confines of her bedroom. Complicated backstories are illustrated, literally, via half-animated comics-style panels.

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Saw V Review


Grim
At this point in the Saw series, reviews really don't matter. Frankly, this is one of the few fright franchises where audiences don't care about character development, directorial flair, or narrative invention. Instead, they want more Tobin Bell as Jigsaw, more illogical puzzle kills, and a reverse referencing that makes unimportant characters major players in later installments. To that extent, Saw V is definitely no different. Unfortunately, whatever made the first four films tolerable has been whisked away by unimaginative writing and even more pedestrian direction.

Since the death of Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), FBI agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) has been trying to track down his "other" accomplice. With female helper Amanda (Shawnee Smith) also dead, all leads point to Det. Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). New agency head Dan Erickson (Mark Rolston) isn't so sure, however, and becomes suspicious. In the meantime, a new "game" has commenced. Five people -- a fire inspector, a building permit bureaucrat, a trust fund baby/drug addict, an investigative journalist, and a property developer -- find themselves locked in a life or death struggle to see who can survive, and who will be sacrificed. As well, Jigsaw's ex-wife Jill (Betsy Russell) receives a mysterious box.

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Catacombs Review


Terrible
Here's what happens in Catacombs. Shannyn Sossamon plays Victoria, who arrives in Paris to hook up with her bratty sister Carolyn (marking inauspiciously Pink's speaking-role acting debut). After setting her down with some friends who tell her all about a kid who lives in the Paris catacombs, raised on raw meat and wearing a goat head for mask, Carolyn drags Victoria to a rave held in one of those catacombs, just like in The Matrix Reloaded only with nude, underground lake swimming.

Naturally, Victoria gets separated and spends the next hour-plus running around in the catacombs in her boots (has Sossamon ever appeared in a movie in heels? just wondering), being chased by, you guessed it, a dude in a goat-head mask. He doesn't stop, no matter how injured Victoria gets or how many people she encounters get killed... until the end, when one of cinema's most absurd twist endings of all time gets sprung on you.

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Saw IV Review


Grim
Who would've guessed that from the lengthy list of gimmicks employed by the Saw series, the one to try patience in Saw IV would not be its elaborate, torture-happy deathtraps, serial killer Jigsaw's dour sermonizing, or its shamelessly amped-up filmmaking, but rather the filmmakers' insistence on movie-to-movie continuity. Saw IV, like its predecessors, takes places directly after, and in some cases concurrently with, the events of its immediate predecessor. For a time, this attention to detail seemed novel; but now lacking any real forward movement, the series threatens to collapse into a black hole of its own making.

The attachment of the Saw series to even its most inconsequential, dull, poorly-realized characters rivals and maybe surpasses head murderer Jigsaw's own hang-ups; the filmmakers have become serial killers by proxy, obsessed with every minor character who crosses their path. The sinking feeling I got watching Saw IV was not horror-movie dread, or even trepidation about the inevitable Saws five through ten in particular, but that Saw V will feel obligated to feature such dynamic new franchise additions such as that FBI agent guy (Scott Patterson) and that one cop who knew those other cops (Costas Mandylor). Based on series patterns, Joanne Boland and Julian Richings will have major parts in the next sequel, reprising their roles of "crime scene photographer" and "vagrant," respectively.

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Dead Silence Review


Unbearable
Dead Silence sucks. It's as simple as that. I like schlocky horror films as much as the next guy, but there's nothing to like about this one. Not one thing. Warming your hands over a burning ten-dollar bill is preferable to watching this film.

It's the sort of bad movie that makes you wonder how it emerged a winner from the studio production lottery. Surely a surplus of terrible ideas exists in Hollywood, so how did this particular steaming pile get made into a movie? I can't say for sure. The inner workings of Hollywood deal-making are beyond my expertise, so I'll confine my comments on Dead Silence to its general awfulness, resisting the urge to speculate on which member of the film's creative team kidnapped and held for ransom which studio executive's infant child -- the only possible explanation for green-lighting a movie this irredeemably bad. (Here's why: The filmmakers made the studio a lot of cash with the Saw series. -Ed.)

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Saw III Review


OK
The Saw series, like most horror franchises, uses a lot of constants in its formula -- even when those constants don't seem particularly vital to the quality of the series. Saw III, for example, matches its predecessors in the dubious categories of histrionic yelling, equally histrionic smash-editing (often incorporating a generous helping of re-used footage, from the previous films or even from earlier in this one), and plot twists that depend on those histrionics to drown out implausibility.

But Saw III does actually have a plot to twist which, like its predecessors, sets it apart from most slasher films. When we last left Jigsaw (Tobin Bell, the only cast member who doesn't have to scream half his dialogue), he was dying, and taking young Amanda (Shawnee Smith) under his wing to continue his work. Saw III picks up with Jigsaw in even worse shape than before, his body breaking down while his moralizing creepiness remains more or less intact. Amanda brings in an unhappy doctor (Bahar Soomekh) to keep Jigsaw alive along enough to see one of his most elaborate games played all the way through.

Continue reading: Saw III Review

Saw III Review


OK
The Saw series, like most horror franchises, uses a lot of constants in its formula -- even when those constants don't seem particularly vital to the quality of the series. Saw III, for example, matches its predecessors in the dubious categories of histrionic yelling, equally histrionic smash-editing (often incorporating a generous helping of re-used footage, from the previous films or even from earlier in this one), and plot twists that depend on those histrionics to drown out implausibility.

But Saw III does actually have a plot to twist which, like its predecessors, sets it apart from most slasher films. When we last left Jigsaw (Tobin Bell, the only cast member who doesn't have to scream half his dialogue), he was dying, and taking young Amanda (Shawnee Smith) under his wing to continue his work. Saw III picks up with Jigsaw in even worse shape than before, his body breaking down while his moralizing creepiness remains more or less intact. Amanda brings in an unhappy doctor (Bahar Soomekh) to keep Jigsaw alive along enough to see one of his most elaborate games played all the way through.

Continue reading: Saw III Review

Saw II Review


Unbearable
When I was living in New York, I had the misfortune of spending a better part of one night in Penn Station. Tired of wandering, I wound up in the men's room around 3:45 AM and was greeted by quite a sight: a homeless man bathing in the sink, another making dreadful noises in a toilet stall, and a janitor sweeping up God know what off the yellow tiled floor. The janitor was smoking and the bathing homeless man asked him for a drag. The janitor requested that the homeless man to show him his teeth and the homeless guy obliged, presenting a sore mouth with maybe two or three black and yellow teeth jutting from obscenely swollen gums. The janitor said, "Alright," shrugged, and then let the guy take a drag of his smoke. After the guy with the rotting mouth took a nice long drag, the janitor took back the cigarette and smoked the rest of it.

Saw II made me feel like I was watching that same thing for 90 odd minutes. It's a picture as revolting as it is needless.

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Saw Review


Weak
You know how some movies have perfect trailers -- so imaginatively cut together that you can't help but have to see the movie when it comes out? And then you see the movie and it kinda sucks?

Saw is that movie.

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John Q Review


Good
It's tough to imagine a movie star of Denzel Washington's stature making a credible beleaguered everyman, but Washington does it in John Q. Unlike, say, Cary Grant, who always looked like the sharpest looking dude in Hollywood even when playing "regular guys," Denzel goes out of his way to ugly himself a bit, letting his hair grow a little unruly and adding on some chunky pounds. It's not necessary in a film with as much big movie sheen as this one, but it shows Washington's dedication - a trait that leaps off the screen, commands the movie, and pulls the entire audience in.

Washington, as John Q. Archibald, is today's blueprint, American blue-collar worker. He's an experienced Chicago machinist, a proud guy only able to work part-time hours due to the lack of work. The resulting scant paychecks lead to embarrassing situations, such as the repossession of his car, leaving his wife pissed off and his young son confused. The timing with today's marketplace couldn't be better in gaining the audience's sympathies.

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Dumb And Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd Review


Unbearable
Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd is without doubt the worst movie I've seen in a long time! It hardly warrants the pity star I have to give it because we don't give anything lower! In fact, this movie is so bad that I should, in retrospect, give a half star bump-up to all of the previous films that I've given one star to because they just don't belong in the same company as this film.

Dumberer is the prequel to the hugely successful comedy Dumb and Dumber, starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as two social misfits on a road trip looking for love in their canine car. This time around, we see just how the pair met, and became friends. After being home schooled for years, Harry (Eric Christian Olsen) and Lloyd (Derek Richardson) are finally ready for public high school (either that or their parents got sick of their childishness). As fate would have it, on their first day of school, Harry and Lloyd literally run into each other. Attracted to the other one's stupidity, they not only become inseparable, they also become the first students of the school's new special needs class.

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Good Advice Review


Good
Filled with witty one-liners and a genuinely credible love story between Charlie Sheen and Angie Harmon, Good Advice is the best direct-to-video flick I've seen in ages.

And what a surprise. It starts out sleepily enough, with a stereotypical Wall Street stockbroker named Ryan (Sheen) who cheats on his advice-columnist girlfriend Cindy (Denise Richards, now engaged to Sheen in real life), and resorts to insider trading to further his career. But he sleeps with the wrong woman and finds his career suddenly ended. Soon after that, Cindy dumps him for another guy and sticks him with the rent when she jets off for Brazil. Very morose so far, with no likable characters -- what a comedy!

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Run Ronnie Run! Review


OK
Based on characters and skits from David Cross and Bob Odenkirk's irreverant/scary Mr. Show series, Run Ronnie Run takes one of their least sustainable bits and turns it into a full-blown feature. Hmmm, okay. Let's play along.

So Ronnie Dobbs (Cross) is such a loser that he's married the same woman three times (he's trying to, anyway), and he's been arrested so often he's become a staple on Fuzz, a show borrowed from the obvious connection. In fact, Ronnie's insane appearances are so popular that he makes a career out of being arrested, thanks to a mamby-pamby infomercial producer (Odenkirk), who crafts a Ronnie-only version of Fuzz. Ronnie gets arrested every week, propositioning undercover cops and so on, and soon he's the kind of Hollywood celebrity that would qualify as the bastard child of Richard Hatch and Kid Rock.

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