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Nick's Pics
Nick Nicholson
Film & Home Entertainment Critic
 

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.


 

MOVIE REVIEWS

WHEN IN ROME

Kristen Bell stars in this comedy as a young woman with an enviable problem: she has multiple men after her heart! She takes a trip to Italy to escape New York City, and there she makes the questionable decision to take coins from a fountain of love. Soon, a number of men (played by Danny DeVito, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard, and Will Arnett) are a-wooing, and she doesn’t know what to do. Making things even tougher is the presence of a journalist (Josh Duhamel), who seems to display a real affection for her.

Have you ever had pain? I mean, real pain? You know, the kind of pain you get when you go to the dentist and have a tooth drilled before the novocain worked its magic? Yes, THAT pain. This film was painful from beginning to end. Films are supposed to have direction. The performances should be cohesive and, by golly, have character development. This film is so out there that, when my time comes to move on from this earthly place, I plan to have an argument with my maker that he owes me another two hours and twenty minutes of life that was stolen from me with this drivel. This film is a gimmick whose goal is to get another romantic comedy out in the theaters to make us all feel that our own dysfunctional relationships could be worse...much worse.


Starring: Kristen Bell & Josh Duhamel
Director: Mark
Steven Johnson
Company: Disney
Now Showing: In area Theatres
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Grade: D

DVD REVIEWS

When drug dealers take out his kid brother, ex-CIA agent Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) makes like a karate-chopping dynamo to track them down. Armed with a .44 Magnum, a set of nun chucks, and a sexy ‘stache, Big D starts out in the City of Angels, where his buddies Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson), a hustler, and Bullhorn (Byron Minns), a club owner, offer to lend a hand. The deeper Dynamite digs, the more endangered his life becomes as he uncovers a conspiracy to keep the black man down by flooding the streets with malt liquor and filling the country’s orphanages with smack. Since the smooth operator has a way with the ladies, he also enlists Gloria (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), a socially-conscious soul sister, to aid in his clean-up campaign.

Set in the very near future, eight astronauts from five countries undertake a mysterious six-year international mission on the spaceship Antares. This sexy and provocative sci fi thriller follows 4 men and 4 women through the solar system where their pasts reveal intimate and interconnected secrets that have a strange effect on the present and mysteries yet to be revealed.

Reality star Steven Seagal is not only top-billed but also co wrote this direct-to-video actioner that delivers his patented combination of martial arts and flinty glares. Seagal is a much-decorated cop whose partner tries to kill him over some ill-gotten drug money. But as any Seagal fan already knows, the man is Hard to Kill, so after a quick recuperation, he’s back in action, but now as the bodyguard to the daughter of a wealthy oil magnate. The attempt to forge a thriller along the lines of Man on Fire is commendable, if not entirely achievable, given the film’s threadbare budget and frequent gaffes.

The Stepfather is one of those movies that telegraphs its ending almost as soon as it starts; so, since we already know the destination, the only question involves whether or not we’ll enjoy the journey. When we meet the guy who calls himself David Harris (Dylan Walsh) during the opening credits, he’s stepping over the bodies of the wife and kids he’s just murdered, out the door and on his way to a new life. Sure enough, he’s soon flirting with attractive divorcée Susan Harding (Sela Ward), and six months later they’re engaged and living together with her three children, including prodigal son Michael (Penn Badgley), who has just returned from some kind of military reform school. It doesn’t take long for Michael to begin suspecting that his stepfather-to-be is not all that he seems; Susan’s sister, Jackie (Paige Turco), who hires David as a real estate agent, has her suspicions too, as does a cat-loving old neighbor.

The battles are bigger and the opponents are tougher as Dan and Drago continue to rack up the wins! Drago transforms into the awesomely powerful Delta Dragonoid II, Dan takes on a tricky web master and Alice coaches a new player. But the Brawlers’ loyalty is put to the ultimate test when Masquerade threatens to send the Bakugan to the Doom Dimension once and for all! Watch your kids clamor for the cards. A handful of episodes included and well worth the investment for your kids!

Secrets. Passion. Redemption. Murder. When Jessica moves into The Dante, a historic and eerie building in downtown Los Angeles, she finds an eclectic mix of new neighbors eager to welcome her to their bohemian world. Or are they? As Jessica races to unravel the mystery behind a chain of horrifying deaths that only she seems to see, she’ll come face-to-face with the chilling truth behind her connection to The Dante. Welcome home... welcome into the Circle of Eight. This film is definitely not for the faint of heart! A suspenseful thriller from the get go, it will no doubt leave you on the edge of your seat!

This is an incredible movie of great depth and artistry which always is entertaining and compelling. The themes of family loyalty, revenge, and the machinations of American business are developed within the framework of a great story. Francis Coppolla found his life masterpiece in this movie and it shows his brilliance from the opening scene. Imagine yourself a movie critic about to get your first look at the movie. You would probably expect a fast paced violent opening consistent with traditional mob movies. Instead we get a dark frame gradually illuminated to see the face of the undertaker uttering his famous line: “I believe in America.” What an audacious way to open the film, as he goes on to explain his need for revenge on the men who tried to rape his daughter. The response of the Godfather sets the tone of the film as he requires recognition of his authority before agreeing to dispense justice. (He refuses to kill the men, because “We are not animals.”) The Godfather’s character is immediately established. Easily one of the best films ever made, this is a must own for any film fan with a brain.

This brilliant companion piece to the original The Godfather continues the saga of two generations of successive power within the Corleone family. Coppola tells two stories in Part II: the roots and rise of a young Don Vito, played with uncanny ability by Robert De Niro, and the ascension of Michael (Al Pacino) as the new Don. Reassembling many of the talents who helped make The Godfather, Coppola has produced a movie of staggering magnitude and vision, and undeniably the best sequel ever made. Robert De Niro won an Oscar; the film received six Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 1974.

Is timing everything? That’s the premise of the sweet and frothy Love Happens, a satisfying romantic comedy starring two of America’s most versatile and attractive actors, Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart. Love has the power, as viewers secretly know, to swoop in and change lives--even at the most inopportune times. And Eckhart and Aniston are achingly believable, as the two who would fight the fates. Eckhart plays Dr. Burke Ryan, a motivational guru whose bestselling books and seminars purportedly are to help the masses deal with their feelings of grief and loss--but he also finds he uses his massive success as an excellent device to distance himself from his own feelings. Aniston is a successful florist, who, after a string of really bad relationships, has sworn off men. The two meet cute when they literally bump into each other in the Seattle hotel where Eckhart is holding a seminar. It’s to both actors’ great credit that what seems like an instant connection is really quite believable, though of course the characters’ first instinct is to each run the other way. Eckhart and Aniston have believable, adult chemistry, something often missing from contemporary American film. Their emotional baggage has shaped them, and must be opened, organized, and then properly stowed for takeoff; Love Happens gives careful attention to that all-too-necessary process.

Robert Urich’s vehicle to stardom in this popular series, handsome, fun loving, private eye, Dan Tanna, drives around Las Vegas in his vintage Thunderbird solving private cases but is also on retainer to a wealthy casino owner to keep crime out of his hotels. He is helped by his smart and sexy assistant, a sexy and not too smart chorus girl who takes messages for him, and his enthusiastic, yet inept, legman. Typical of the Spelling universe, the show is full of fist fights, shootouts, car chases and explosions that are sure to keep your focus.

By its fourth season, the Dynasty express was nearing the peak of its popularity ranking at season’s end as the third most popular show on television. and the plethora of Machiavellian plots against as many Carringtons and Colbys as could be squeezed into a season of episodes continued unabated. Much of the high drama of the show as seen in retrospect is actually funny rather than dramatic, but there are themes of familial love and the ever-boiling passions that can still involve the viewer, and the show is also a glamorous guilty pleasure treat to watch just for the Nolan Miller fashions and the opulent lifestyle that is always on display. Everyone looks fabulous in whatever they’ve been given to wear, that is, when they choose to leave their clothes on. Even more than in previous seasons, the show features quite a bit of bedroom, shower, hot tub, and gym action.

A one-hour, dramatic series JAG (military terminology for Judge Advocate General) is an adventure drama about an elite legal wing of officers trained as lawyers who investigate, prosecute and defend those accused of crimes in the military, including murder, treason and terrorism. A Navy Commander ace pilot turned lawyer Harmon “Harm” Rabb, Jr. (David James Elliott) and by-the-book Marine Lieutenant Colonel Sarah “Mac” MacKenzie (Catherine Bell) find themselves clashing as they traverse the globe together to search for and discover the truth.

Liza Minnelli is one of the greatest cabaret singers of all time! The full two-hour performance of Liza Minnelli’s 2009 Tony Award-winning concert, Liza’s at the Palace, is available only on this special collector’s edition. This exciting midnight performance was recorded at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on October 1, 2009. Act One features favorite songs by Ms. Minnelli, including Cabaret, Maybe This Time, What Makes a Man a Man, and My Own Best Friend. A first act highlight is Liza’s special rendition of the Palace Medley, originally sung by her mother, Judy Garland, at the Palace Theatre in 1951. Liza adds a new personal musical introduction to the fond remembrance of famous vaudevillians. Act Two is very special tribute to Liza’s godmother, Kay Thompson, a groundbreaking singer-dancer, songwriter, and vocal arranger/coach at the MGM studios in the 1940s.

Planet Hulk proves to be a credible adaptation of the popular storyline as well as an entertaining Battle Royale on its on terms. It gives us all of the fights and destruction we have come to expect, but also an off-beat scenario which allows a character who is usually portrayed as the id personified to be a hero and liberator. Planet Hulk surrounds the title character with a gallery of colorful supporting players, each with their own internal and external dilemmas. Though the running time doesn’t allow for any of this to be explored with depth, we get just enough information to involve us in the story. Kevin Michael Richardson infuses the rock-like Korg with a gravelly rasp that suits his appearance. Mark Hildreth plays the Red King as a pampered and petulant man-child, concerned only with maintaining his iron-fisted rule.

Now you can kick off all-star family fun with the heartwarming Air Bud: Golden Receiver Special Edition, featuring exclusive all-new bonus action: Sports Channel play-by-play quarterbacked by the Buddies! This time out, Buddy, the hoop-shooting, hotshot canine, tackles a new sport—football. When his teenage owner reluctantly becomes the school’s new quarterback, Buddy catches the spirit and joins the team. Soon, the two find themselves leading the Timberwolves to the state championship. But victory hopes are sidelined when two sinister Russian circus owners take a bite out of everyone’s plans and dog nap Buddy for their star attraction. Give three cheers for Disney’s hilarious hit that goes the whole nine yards for outrageous fun and adventure.

Beautiful, fashionable and fun, Clarissa Alpert is a shallow socialite whose speed dial is a veritable Rolodex of Hollywood power players. Staring her 32nd birthday directly in the eyes - though she will admit only to being 28 - the spoiled daddy’s girl is in a panic because she is still single. Clarissa, though, always gets what she wants - even if he’s Aaron Mason (Philip Winchester), the hottest new producer in town. With the help of her family and friends, Clarissa sets into motion an elaborate plan to lasso the dashing filmmaker who will, she hopes, be the man to put a ring on her finger.

 

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