Tim Burton's first two Batman films were all about this nerd auteur playing with a gigantic train set, so even though the stories were threadbare and superficial, at least Burton brought a highly stylized pop Gothic look. Jack Nicholson hammed it up nicely as the Joker and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman was an unforgettably sexy femme fatale who was able to hold her own in a power struggle with the caped crusader. Say what you will, the films had their moments, and even miscast Michael Keaton was an enjoyable wild card.
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Collateral Damage stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a rough 'n' tough fireman, whose family is murdered in a bombing by notorious Columbian terrorist "The Wolf." Confronted with the inability and unwillingness of the U.S. government to seek justice, our fireman hero decides to take matters into his own hands and heads to Columbia to seek revenge. In one sense, this film is almost uniquely appropriate to the world's post-9/11 environment, presenting as it does such a larger than life hero, who just so happens to be a fireman, a group we are all looking to these days as real-life heroes. Yet, on the other hand, Collateral Damage is clearly the product of a different era. Blatantly and painfully pointing out our pre-9/11 ignorance, never has America's innocence been shown so clearly and by such a poorly made movie.
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A lot can be said for the idea that the setting of a picture thoroughly controls its tone. What we Batman Forever is an attempt to make Gotham more like Los Angeles, full of neon, black lights, and people sporting primary-color wigs. Unfortunately, something has been lost in translation.
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After the obnoxious but popular host Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams) is caught taking bribes from parents who want their kids on television, network head Frank Stokes (Jon Stewart) pulls the plug on his show. An exhaustive search through the downtrodden Barney wannabes to replace Randolph yields a pink, squeaky-clean rhino named Smoochy (Edward Norton), who becomes an overnight success with the kids despite his preachings of bland politically correct messages to children. Despite Smoochy's best wishes, his boss Nora (Catherine Keener) wants to cash in on the show's newfound success by selling Smoochy-sponsored cereals, cola, and string cheese. Randolph, on the other hand, is hell-bent on making life miserable for the rhino, and Smoochy's crooked agent (Danny DeVito) is busy making backdoor deals trying to sell Smoochy out to the mob.
Continue reading: Death To Smoochy Review
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