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June 2008

DVD Review: Cinematic Titanic - Doomsday Machine

CT - Doomsday

It certainly took the gang at Cinematic Titanic enough time to regroup, but the six-month wait between episodes was worth the unbearable impatience. Backing away after the release of “The Oozing Skull” to reassess their strengths and weaknesses, Titanic storms back with “Doomsday Machine,” and while the series is starting to solidify pleasingly, the movie selection for this outing is perhaps too formidable for even this squad of ace comedians to conquer with quips.

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DVD Review: Xanadu - Magical Music Edition

XANADU - Olivia Singing

Someone somewhere had the nutty idea to connect the music from the 1940s to the music of the late 1970s, and explore that combustible relationship to fashion the ultimate disco movie of 1980. It was the year that gave us “Flash Gordon,” “Can’t Stop the Music,” and “The Apple,” yet “Xanadu” trumped them all with its pageantry of glitter, roller skating, and yearning to put on a show larger than life to kick off the new decade on a skyrocketing fantastical note of nylon-jumpsuited ecstasy.

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Film Review: Wall-E

WALL-E still

Pixar as a formidable storytelling machine is not an entity I’m entirely comfortable with. The studio has turned itself into a faceless animation brand name, and while I can’t argue the box office numbers, I’m not buying the artistic results. “Wall-E” is Pixar’s biggest creative gamble in over a decade; a genuine cinematic leap of faith. However, the ambition doesn’t match the outcome, and while “Wall-E” dances whimsically, it’s a plodding, frighteningly hypocritical, and forbidding film that trips over its fogged intentions at every dreary turn.

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DVD Review: Mama's Boy


Contractually dumped into a handful of movie theaters late last year without a wisp of promotion or pride, “Mama’s Boy” has finally arrived on DVD where it rightfully belongs. A witless, awkwardly constructed comedy, “Boy” bungles its comedic potential at every step, turning what should’ve been a jolly 90 minute diversion into a master class on miscasting.

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Film Review: The Love Guru

GURU still

There was a character in the last “Austin Powers” film named, appropriately, Goldmember; he was a mischievous creation from star Mike Myers, performed with a goofy voice and an eye toward grossing out the room, but he ran out of entertainment steam early. “The Love Guru” is a cinematic equivalent of Goldmember: a semi-hilarious movie that corners itself too easily and grows tiresome quickly.

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Film Review: Kit Kittredge: An American Girl


It’s easy to see that “Kit Kittredge” is after family audiences. It’s a harmless tale told without a lick of objectionable content, sure to offer relief to many parents unwilling to subject their children to the heated warfare of lowbrow summer entertainment. However, as generous in spirit as “Kittredge” is, it’s an absolute chore to sit through for anyone not plugged into the “American Girl” franchise hoedown.

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Film Review: The Foot Fist Way


Actor Danny McBride has stumbled his way into several supporting slots in recent years, prompting the nation to cry: who the hell is this guy? “The Foot Fist Way” is to blame, folks: a low-budget wannabe cult comedy shot three years ago, only recently graduating from underground DVD circulation to a small theatrical release. It should’ve stayed in obscurity.

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Brian Visits Star Wars Weekends 2008 at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Sign 2

During the clammy weekends of June, Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) puts on a show. Mind you, it’s not just any old show, but a “Star Wars” show: virtual catnip to families and nerdly shut-ins everywhere. It beams out like a siren song across the world, calling the Lucas-faithful to Orlando to partake in 12 days of the most Jedi-approved merriment a mere human can handle.

These are the “Star Wars Weekends.”

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The Incredible Hulk Donut at 7-Eleven


The Incredible Hulk is big and green, but his promotional tie-in assault has been rather petite and more off-white in hue. My old friends at 7-Eleven have tried to drum up interest for the new Edward Norton-powered “Incredible Hulk” film by trotting out a new round of lenticular Slurpee cups, preferably filled with the “Radiation Rush” ice drink. Because nothing says dee-lish quite like a mouthful of freezing green slush intended to represent one of the most poisonous substances known to humankind.

Oh, and there’s a donut too.

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Film Review: The Incredible Hulk

HULK still

HULK SMASH! And he does in a big way in “The Incredible Hulk,” a Hollywood patch job of sorts; a production aiming to realign the comic book chi lost to Ang Lee’s angst-riddled “Hulk” back in 2003. Now, instead of heavy characterization and a glum attitude, “Incredible” reinstates the basics of the big green hero: destruction and solitude.

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Film Review: You Don't Mess with the Zohan

ZOHAN still

There’s much to celebrate in “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” which marks the return of Adam Sandler to an unhinged level of farce he’s been trying to stifle recently in his career. However, “Zohan” is like a second piece of birthday cake: it looks and tastes terrific, but it’s just too much indulgence. Hey, I’m just thrilled Sandler has stopped trying to pluck heartstrings for the first time in a long time.

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Film Review: Mother of Tears


If there’s any filmmaker working today who defines the concept of “an acquired taste,” it would certainly be Dario Argento. Floundering in the industry for the last 20 years, Argento finally arrives to complete his “Three Mothers” trilogy that was last heard from with 1980’s baffling “Inferno.” It’s a blood-soaked homecoming of sorts for the director, and “Mother of Tears” reawakens his mischievous spirit. It’s pure insanity, but it’s a welcome restoration of Argento’s once Kong-sized chutzpah.

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