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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

CLASH OF THE TITANS

In Clash of the Titans, the ultimate struggle for power pits men against kings and kings against gods. But the war between the gods themselves could destroy the world. Born of a god but raised as a human. Based on the 1981 film of the same name, written by the late Beverley Cross, Clash of the Titans is directed by Louis Leterrier from a screenplay by Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi. Titans stars Sam Worthington in the role of Perseus. Perseus is the child of Zeus (Liam Neeson) whom he seeks to destroy for the killing of his human family. One thing leads to another - including giant scorpions that will make your skin crawl and, well...that's where things start getting interesting.

Without being overly critical, one could expect that remakes often dumb down all moviegoers and the world in general. I mean, how often have your trudged into your wallet, plopped down the thirty bucks it takes for you and your significant other to walk into a theater only to sit through the drivel on the screen? You lose brain cells when this happens and, those with enough verve or gumption often point to the heavens and demand the two hours of their life back. Happens all the time. This remake of the 1981 Harry Hamlin classic wasn't necessary, but neither is two thirds of the other films released every year. You get what you pay for in this picture. The effects are good, the acting is good and the script, well...the script is okay. This is a popcorn flick that will make you chuckle from time to time. Remember - the original was a big old ball of cheese that was fun back at that time and this one is too.

Clash of the Titans
Starring: Sam Worthington & Liam Neeson
Director: Louis Leterrier
Company: Warner
Now Showing: in Theaters
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Grade: B-

WorldFest Houston

It's that time, Houston! Our very own original film festival is here again for all fans of cinema to enjoy! The WorldFest events begin on Friday, April 9 and continue through Saturday, April 17. WorldFest, founded in 1961, is the third oldest International film festival in the United States and the oldest Independent Film Festival in the world. This annual event has evolved into a competitive Independent International film festival showcasing the rising stars of tomorrow! WorldFest is managed by Hunter Todd and Kathleen Haney. The festival has a number of world premiere films as well as a number of other categories of motion pictures for everyone to enjoy. All films within the WorldFest festival will be shown at the AMC Studio 30 on Dunvale in Houston. Ticket information as well as the schedule of films is available online at www.worldfest.org. Here are some snippets of some of the tremendous films available at Worldfest this year that you simply don't want to miss:

In a state known for football, no game is bigger than the annual rivalry between Texas A&M University and the University of Texas. In its 106 year history, no game had more heartfelt emotion than the 1999 contest at Kyle Field. Whether a sports fan of either team or just sports in general, this film will touch your heart and a bring a tear to your eye. The collapse of the bonfire stack at Texas A&M in 1999 is told in a way that will no doubt tug at your heartstrings. The screening will be on Tuesday, April 13th, at 7:00 pm.

An ensemble crew of 11 New Yorkers who are coming to terms with the aftermath of 9/11 find their strength in their musical talents and create this poignant musical. Catchy musical numbers pepper this film. A strong presentation that is sure to please all who see the film. The screening will be on Saturday, April 17th at 9:00 pm.

A Tribute to Dennis Hopper, this is a newly restored 35mm print of the great American Classic Film starring Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. If you have a brain in your head and any interest in film whatsoever, you won't miss this epic showing. There are two screenings of this restored American classic! Sunday, April 18th at 5:00 and 9:00 pm.

When a newly divorced Dad (Paul Wolff) suddenly moves in with his son (Josh Dean) and joins him in the singles scene, comedic complications soon begin to occur. The performances in this film are nearly impeccable. The story is original, believable and it the pacing is outstanding. Have watched it twice already and like it both times. This is a keeper! The screening will take place on Saturday, April 17th at 5:00 pm

For 40 years, this Houston folk and acoustic music venue has nurtured some of the most important musical performers and songwriters in America. (Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, Nancy Griffith, Lucinda Williams plus others.) Fans of music or the nostalgia of an iconic Houston landmark, get out to see the Story of Anderson Fair! The screening will be on Saturday, April 10th at 9:00 pm.

Maya, a struggling actress get the role of a lifetime in a play, but becomes involved romantically with the director whose notion of her role as the psychiatric patient is very different from her own. This is a very gripping film without much action. Not in a bad way, either. After watching this film, I was exhausted. The tension from the film - all presented from the title character - kept me rooting for her to do the right thing. I felt like I was in the fight of my life, too. Brilliantly cast and performed, I cannot recommend this film more highly. Stunning! There are two opportunities for you to see Maya. Sunday April 11th at 7:00 pm or Monday, April 12th at 7:00 pm

The tale of a down on his luck freeze dried pet salesman and his journey to become the first ever cyber evangelist. The film is absolutely hilarious! Somewhat in the vein of Napoleon Dynamite, the performances click with one another in perfect synchronization. Worth a second viewing and a must see! There is only one shot for you to catch this screening and that will be on Friday, April 16 at 7:00 pm.

What does a man experience when he's reaching his last breath when he's between heaven and hell? Houstonian Corey Seymour's film tells a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat with impressive performances, audacious action and a story that will keep you guessing until the end. Point of Death will screen on Wednesday, April 14th at 9:00 pm.


DVD REVIEWS

Bear Grylls has served with the British Special forces, climbed Mount Everest and explored the Arctic. In this exciting series he shows us how to survive the toughes and most visited environments on the planet by putting himself in the position of a stranded tourist. He parachutes into rain forests, abseils into deserts and lakes, and onto the highest, most inhospitable peaks in America. Using his specialist survival techniques to find his way out of these wildernesses he climbs sheer cliffs, navigates white water and icy crevasses, encounters snakes, spiders and predators and forages for food, from maggots and raw fish, to roots and berries. Excitement abounds in this latest installment of Man vs Wild. Check it out!

To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the historic space mission and the 15th Anniversary of the Academy Award-winning film, Apollo 13 is now available to own on Blu-ray Hi-Def for the first time on April 13. From Academy Award winning director Ron Howard and based on the dramatic events surrounding the real-life Apollo mission, this breathtaking story of survival, determination and hope stars Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris.

Who doesn't love the affable Tom and the comedic Jerry? The hilarious cartoons starring the two hit stores on April 13. Multi episodes with the stories we all grew up with are here for your home entertainment.

Martin Shaw has been one of Britain's top actors for nigh on 30 years now, in fact throughout his career we've never seen him give a duff performance and in his latest series Judge John Deed, Shaw, with just the right amount of gravitas, plays high court Judge JOhn Deed, who with a massively passionate belief in the justice system tends to get rather too involved in the cases he is trying, even if it means treading on people's toes to make sure that justice is served.

Jeff Goldblum stars as the naïve, terminally-square stockbroker Lionel Brown Shoe Whitney, with fantasies of becoming a hard boiled private eye like his fictional hero, investigator Mark Savage. Ben Vereen is the hip, fast-talkin hustler E.L. Tenspeed Turner who is more than happy to string Lionel along in hopes of a big score. Somewhere along the line, the two become friends and open a detective agency in Stephen J. Cannell's entertaining and affectionate homage to the P.I. genre.

Learn the fascinating history and advancements made in the field of war machinery and weaponry. From gunpowder to the Gatling gun, the first Tank to the latest unmanned drones, we review the mechanisms and machinery man has created to wage war. Historical achievements through to modern day technologies are reviewed as we travel Land, Sea and Air in our in-depth, fascinating chronological journey of war machines.

The world has suffered from numerous disasters of varying magnitude over the years. From hurricanes to earthquakes, floods to fires, Mother Nature has unleashed some of the most devastating and catastrophic earth-shattering events taking thousands of lives and costing millions of dollars. This comprehensive documentary collection is composed of 25 riveting and harrowing documentary features chronicling some of the most epic disasters mankind has faced throughout the 20th century.

Lori Cranston (Sophie Traub) is a confused fifteen-year-old dreamer in search of an escape from her troubled home life. She discovers and becomes enthralled with Eric (Jon Foster), a young man with a violent past. As they embark on a harrowing journey, a hardened local cop (Russell Crowe), who has been following Eric for years, is intent on exposing him as a serial killer before Lori’s fate is determined.

All 8 films of the 4th installment of After Dark Horrorfest in one gift set. Films include Dread, The Final, The Graves, Hidden, Kill Theory, Lake Mungo, The Reeds, and Zombies of Mass Destruction. Kill Theory: This is an above average slasher, with a sort of "Saw" flavoring (though nowhere near as gory). A group of graduating college kids holed up in a cabin are told only one of them can survive till the morning or they'll all be killed. The rare slasher where the character development actually pays off. The Graves: Mal-direction and less-than-tight editing make the actors look bad (even Tony Todd!) in this "Texas Chainsaw" meets "The Devil's Rain" story. Two girls are stalked by maniacs in mining town, then by crazy culty townsfolk. Standout performance by Bill Moseley. The Grave sisters themselves are easy on the eyes and had good chemistry. Marred by run-of-the-mill-ishness and some unbelievably bad choices. Zombies of Mass Destruction: Sharp, funny, campy, gory, and fast-paced for the first two thirds. A Persian-American woman and a gay couple return to their hometown in time for a zombie invasion. Very left politically, but okay until political bent takes over last third, when movie bogs down with torture scenes, and a church confrontation. With "Dread", Best in Show.

Get set for out-of-this-world excitement when Pooh, Tigger, Darby and Buster embark on a thrilling full-length adventure! After a mysterious shooting star falls in Rabbit’s garden, his vegetables suddenly become gigantic. And when our heroes eat the super-veggies, they get incredible superpowers! Packed with delightful songs, surprises and good friends working together to save the day, Super Duper Super Sleuths is fantastic fun for everyone!

Robert Downey Jr. is an intriguing choice for the Great Detective, and if he occasionally murmurs his lines a pitch or two out of hearing range, his trademark bristling energy and off-kilter humor do much to sell Ritchie's notion of Holmes. Jude Law is equally well-equipped as a more active Dr. Watson--he's closer to Robert Duvall's vigorous portrayal in The Seven Per-Cent Solution than to Nigel Bruce--and together, they make for an engaging team. Too bad the plot they're thrust into is such a mess--a bustling and disorganized flurry of martial arts, black magic, and overwhelming set pieces centered around Mark Strong's Crowley-esque cult leader (no Professor Moriarty, he), who returns from the grave to exact revenge.

The visually ravishing animated movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox follows a fox, voiced by George Clooney and dressed in a natty brown corduroy suit, as he cheerfully and recklessly takes his thieving ways a little too far and brings down the wrath of some sour-faced poultry farmers on his family and friends. Based on a lesser-known book by children's author Roald Dahl (who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach), the movie is the work of Wes Anderson (writer-director of Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums), who expanded and elaborated on the original story; the combination is inspired.

Wes Craven's 1984 horror film is a better movie than it is generally credited for being. Forget the tawdry sequels; this highly original, almost surrealist work stars Robert Englund as a mutilated monster who kills teenagers during their dreams. Craven, who only directed one Elm Street sequel (Wes Craven's New Nightmare), takes the Hitchcockian step of layering in psychological explanations for the terror and then proving them all irrelevant in the face of mindless evil.

Who’s on first? Featuring the routines that made them comedy legends, this special collector’s set includes all 52 episodes from the hilarious Abbott and Costello Show. Digitally restored and re-mastered, this complete collection is filled with DVD extras and never-before available bonus material.

Now for the first time you can own all five seasons of this groundbreaking science-fiction series in this 26-disc set, including a bonus disc with exclusive, all new special features. Atlantis build thousands of years ago by the highly evolved Ancients, is home base for an elite expedition team from Earth. These courageous military commanders and scientists leap through the city’s Stargate to explore the wondrous Pegasus Galaxy and battle the treacherous Wraith, who seek control of Atlantis – at any cost. Includes all the bonus features from the season set DVD releases PLUS a bonus disc with two all new behind-the-scenes features and the broadcast version of the last two episodes of the series.

Uncork the complete first season of Falcon Crest, the popular, long-running series centered on the rich vineyards and richer people of Northern California's wine country. Academy Award winner Jane Wyman stars as winery matriarch Angela Channing, who will let nothing--family, honor, the law--stand between her and power. Co-stars include Robert Foxworth as Chase Gioberti, Angela's upstanding nephew and rival, and Lorenzo Lamas as Lance Cumson, Angela’s scheming, playboy grandson. Meet the characters... indulge in the lifestyle... savor the first of nine seasons of vintage television melodrama.

Pirate Radio recalls American teen exploitation films of the 1950s, in which square authority figures wanted to keep rock 'n' roll's corrupting influence from children, who just wanted to dance. Though set in 1966 Great Britain, this high-spirited comedy will strike a resonant chord in anyone who ever snuck their transistor radio under their pillow at night to have their world rocked. Musically, 1966 was the best of times (the killer soundtrack spins a Who's Who of vintage vinyl, including the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, and, yes, the Who). But the kids weren't alright. The BBC broadcast less than an hour of rock music a day. Pirate radio stations broadcasting from ships anchored off the coast exemplified rock's rebellious spirit. Like Almost Famous, Pirate Radio views this outlaw world through the eyes of an innocent, Carl (Tom Sturridge), sent by his mother (Emma Thompson in a saucy cameo) to the good ship Radio Rock, operated by his godfather (a dapper Bill Nighy). He comes aboard a "posh tosser," but he gradually forges a bond with these fellow misfits who have dedicated their lives to making musical waves.

Danny Schechter's latest project takes a hard look on all of the behind the scenes activity that allowed the banks and hedge fund managers to develop and utilize mortgage backed securities. These securities are the reason we are in a financial free fall as a country. From government deregulation through the greed of the housing market, this DVD will explain and outline everything to the point that a mere novice could understand it.

From the sun-dappled heartland, a young man (Robert Redford, in soft lighting) emerges as maybe the best baseball player anybody's ever seen. On his way to the majors, he is cut down by an enigmatic black widow (Barbara Hershey) and vanishes for many years. When he reemerges, a silent mystery, he lands a spot with the New York team and begins tearing up the league--he's still the natural. Fans of the Bernard Malamud novel will be dismayed at the pure mythical hokum of this film, but baseball fanatics have been known to watch and rewatch this one; after all, it's constructed as a kind of shrine to the national pastime.

Ray Winstone stars as Colin Diamond, a gangster with some fiercely protective friends. There's mercurial Mal (Stephen Dillane), mama's boy Archie (Tom Wilkinson), velvet-voiced Meredith (Ian McShane), and a misanthropic, marble-mouthed piece of work named Old Man Peanut (John Hurt). When Liz (Joanne Whalley), Colin's wife of 21 years, reveals that she's leaving him for French waiter Loverboy (Melvil Poupaud), Colin's pals decide to teach the lad a lesson. After they kidnap Loverboy, lock him in a wardrobe, and encourage Diamond to do his worst, photographer-turned-filmmaker Malcolm Venville flashes back to the previous evening's events.

As the epic second season begins, the fight to save humanity rages on. Relive all the intensity and excitement aboard the Galactica as the ongoing battle of President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) and Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos) continues in their heart-pounding crusade to save humanity from the deadly robot Cylons – even as civil war looms within the fleet between their followers. Featuring an extended version of the cliffhanger episode “Pegasus,” and packed with special features, including deleted scenes, podcasts and Producer David Eick’s video blog. It’s an explosive thrill-ride you can’t afford to miss!

 

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