"We know that the road to freedom has always been stalked by death." ---HL Staff that went to Rome---

Texas Rangers

This movie sucks. I'm gonna say that right now, to spare y'all the time of reading this review if your biases mirrored mine. The fact that this movie sucks was not a big surprise to me - nor should it be to you - but rather an affirmation on some of the vagaries of Hollywood (mis)marketing. If a movie 1) is moved more times than Michael Jackson's nose; 2) has a boatload of TV stars who have yet to have a big screen hit; and 3) gets buried in a busy holiday release schedule without ANY kind of promotion, publicity, nor advance screenings for critics, what do you have? A film that sucks.

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Behind Enemy Lines

Owen Wilson is not what you would call your traditional leading man. With average good looks, a laid back, Texan drawl, and a face that sports a broken looking nose (it has been broken - twice), he would not be most producers' first choice for leading man in this $40 million Navy recruitment ad/film. Luckily for us, and the film, first time feature director John Moore made Wilson, in his first leading man role, his.

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The Heist

You know when you're watching a David Mamet film. The speech is clipped. Witty banter abounds. So does the F word. And actors who have been cashing checks for decades suddenly come to life. Such is the case with "Heist," a solid flick that differentiates itself from "The Score" only by the Mamet-man himself. And that in itself is quite a difference.

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The Black Knight

When was the last time Martin Lawrence was funny? Take a long second to think about that one. The closest thing to it was his amusing turn in "Blue Streak," but more honestly, Martin was last funny in 1999's "Life" with Eddie Murphy. Funny thing is that Martin has NOT been genuinely funny since he started making eight figures per movie (he earned $8.5 mil for "Life"). Not coincidentally, Martin has starred in a lot of high-concept, low comedy crap ever since. "Black Knight" does not break this tradition - and I am mad as hell about it.

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The Domestic Disturbance

Upon first hearing six months ago about the pairing of John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, and Steve Buscemi in a major motion picture, I was excited. Three different styles, three red hot talents. When I heard about the premise, I was a little iffy but still awed by the potential of all that talent in a film. So with all this anticipation built up despite the ordinary looking trailers, I went into "Domestic Disturbance" with an optimism this movie neither deserved nor earned. Like people most of the time, this movie was incredibly disappointing.

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Shallow Hal



Inside every fat woman, there's a thin woman dying to get out. Or at least that's what the Farrelly Brothers would like to have you believe. If you're okay with that basic premise, then you'll adore "Shallow Hal." Even though they (have to) promote seeing someone for their inner beauty, the Farrellys walk a slippery slope of comic and moral rectitude that makes you wonder - along with the rest of the film - just what exactly are you laughing at.

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Legally Blond

Elle Woods (Witherspoon) just might be the blondest girl in America. Homecoming queen, president of her sorority, rich Ken doll boyfriend Warner (Matthew Davis), she seems to have it all going into the summer after her senior year at college. But when Warner dumps her for a "serious" career at Harvard Law School, Elle decides that in order to win him back, she's gotta make it into Harvard Law, too. Armed with a degree in fashion merchandising, a 4.0, off the charts LSATs, and an innovative entrance essay-video, Elle bogards into Harvard Law's severe learning environment in pursuit of Warner, but ends up finding herself.
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Spy Game

Life isn't a game. Rules are frequently broken, there are no do-overs, and there's rarely a clear winner. For our entertainment, Tony Scott & company present the espionage industry in "Spy Game" as a game, one where rules need to be followed, the nimble and savvy can fix mistakes, and the clear winner is he who survives long enough to "die someplace warm." Fortunately, for our entertainment, watching the game unfold in "Spy Game" makes the audience the clear winner.

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From Hell

To hear the Hugheses tell it, they ain't mad. I mean who would be mad after New Line raped them for only $45,000 apiece for their white hot directing debut "Menace 2 Society," a film that grossed some $29 million at the box office alone? Who would be mad after not having worked for some four years, as they didn't? Who would be mad that they have had their career pigeon-holed as "boyz n the hood"-like directors? Certainly not the Hugheses. Instead with "From Hell," they took their rep and turned it upside its head - to some grisly, exciting, but ultimately unrewarding results.

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Harry Potter

A movie like "Harry Potter" is wasted on me. Didn't read the book, not a big kiddie flick fan, and cannot STAND being in a theater full of chatty, prepubescent child-things. As an author myself, I can respect that the movie stayed pretty close to the book (so I'm told). But, in doing so, the filmmakers made "Harry Potter" a movie experience only for those who have read the book, are easily wowed by special effects or, even worse, have yet to kiss a girl.

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Zoolander

The tagline goes "Three percent body fat. One percent brain activity." One percent brain activity may be giving "Zoolander" too much credit. A movie that is intelligent in its mindlessness, skewering just about every inside and outside joke there is to male modeling, "Zoolander" is ninety-five percent wack-free.

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HardBall


Y'all ready? Here we go. Once again we trek into the heart of darkness, another white person who finds redemption and himself in the ghetto. "Dangerous Minds," "Finding Forrester," "Save the Last Dance," blah, blah, blah. Do I sound jaded? Hell yeah I'm jaded. It's a tired formula that Hollywood, most likely drowning in its own white liberal guilt, is strangely attracted to. In "Hardball," Hollywood's latest paean to this played out genre, you have a little bit of originality with a lot of heart that still can't overcome the trappings of its clichéd formula.

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THE MUSKETEER


Imagine a movie where the fight choreographer gets top billing. Little mystery what market the Universal/Miramax publicity departments are gunning for (ME!!). After watching those trailers filled with inventive, Asian style fight choreography grafted onto the 17th century tale of the Three Musketeers, I was ready to be entertained. With those expectations in mind, "The Musketeer" does not disappoint.

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Training Day

I am a Denzel NUT. I believe he is the best actor, bar none. I have read his unauthorized filmography/biography and his picture hangs on my living room wall. I own all of his movies, save four. So you can imagine my excitement for "Training Day." And, thankfully, one of the most heavily hyped films of the fall delivers in unexpectedly solid fashion, due, in no small part, to my main man Denzel.

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Serendipity

What is serendipity? As defined in this movie, serendipity is "a fortunate accident." The same can be applied to this movie, one that should have been mediocre by all accounts in treading into one of the trickiest genres to market to our increasingly jaded, cynical audiences, the romantic comedy. The result is downright serendipitous.

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Bandits


Ever had bad Chinese food? You know, the kind that you eat and then two hours later you're hungry again? Yep, you guessed it - "Bandits" is like bad Chinese food. Despite a quirky, interesting script and capable direction, "Bandits" will leave you hungry for something more filling.

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