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2005

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (2005)

DIRECTOR: Andrew Adamson

CAST:

William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent

voices:

Liam Neeson, Rupert Everett, Ray Winstone, Dawn French, Michael Madsen

REVIEW:

It’s no secret that the massive success and critical acclaim of The Lord of the Rings and run-away Harry Potter mania have revived the fantasy genre as a viable and fertile ground in the eyes of many, and their popularity has inspired any number of films, mostly also adaptations of popular books, to aspire to their heights, but none have managed it. Many of these are inferior flash-in-the-pan wannabes like The Spiderwick Chronicles and Eragon. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, an adaptation of the first in C.S. Lewis’ beloved seven-book series, has a more respectable pedigree than that, but it’s unlikely to threaten Rings or Potter for a few reasons. Continue reading

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

DIRECTOR: Joe Wright

CAST: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Rosamund Pike, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Simon Woods, Tom Hollander, Jena Malone, Carey Mulligan, Talulah Riley, Judi Dench, Kelly Reilly, Rupert Friend

REVIEW:

While some will still consider the three-hour 1995 TV miniseries (starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) to be the definitive onscreen adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel, Joe Wright and screenwriter Deborah Moggach (and uncredited script doctor Emma Thompson, who starred in Ang Lee’s 1995 adaptation of Austen’s Sense & Sensibility) have done about as good of a job as anyone could expect of adapting the dense material into a two hour format. While various subplots and supporting characters have been condensed, Pride & Prejudice remains a handsome and lively adaptation that sacrifices neither the story’s core themes and heart, nor the central romance.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

DIRECTOR: Mike Newell

CAST:

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Timothy Spall, David Tennant, Miranda Richardson, Katie Leung, Robert Hardy, Warwick Davis

REVIEW:

The Harry Potter film series, the cinematic adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally popular books, found a life of its own with 2004’s Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban , and the tone continues to grow darker and more ambitious with Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. Continue reading

Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

DIRECTOR: Liev Schreiber

CAST: Elijah Wood, Eugene Hutz, Boris Leskin

REVIEW:

One could see how actor Liev Schreiber’s directorial debut might strike a cord with him personally (like the film’s protagonist, Schreiber is Jewish), but while Everything Is Illuminated might mean something to Schreiber, that doesn’t mean it translates that meaning to a mainstream audience.  An adaptation of the same-named book by Jonathan Safran Foer, a semi-fictionalized account of his real-life quest into his family’s Holocaust-era background, Everything Is Illuminated has earnest intentions and some humorous and poignant moments, but the overall experience is too muted and too obtuse to reach the illuminating profundities it aims for.  There are bright spots in 110-minute journey, but too much tedium to contend with for insufficient rewards. Continue reading

The Legend of Zorro (2005)

DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell

CAST:

Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell, Nick Chinlund, Adrian Alonso

REVIEW:

Like a depressing number of sequels, The Legend of Zorro, despite reuniting the same director and two of the stars from the original installment, feels like a tired, hollow afterthought that shouldn’t have been made. Despite numerous attempts to recapture the entertainment value of the first Zorro, The Legend of Zorro never comes close to the high energy level and exuberance of its predecessor. Continue reading

The Proposition (2005)

DIRECTOR: John Hillcoat

CAST: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Emily Watson, David Wenham, John Hurt

REVIEW:

With The Proposition, Australian director John Hillcoat and screenwriter/composer Nick Cave have taken the saying “revenge is a dish best served cold” and taken it up—or down, depending on one’s perspective—a notch. The Proposition is considered an unconventional Western, but it doesn’t deal in clear-cut black hats and white hats or simple shoot-em-ups. Brutal, unromanticized, and mercilessly gritty to the point of being disturbing, it’s a grim, haunting odyssey that doesn’t deal in typical crowd-pleasing Western tropes and conventions, at least not straightforwardly.

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An Unfinished Life (2005)

DIRECTOR: Lasse Hallstrom

CAST: Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez, Morgan Freeman, Becca Gardner, Josh Lucas, Camryn Manheim, Damian Lewis

REVIEW:

An Unfinished Life isn’t anything daring or unpredictable; it’s a familiar story, well-told. But director Lasse Hallstrom has a deft touch with these kinds of low-key, down-to-earth character pieces (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules), and for those who appreciate these kinds of quiet dramas, it’s an hour-and-forty-five minutes well-spent.

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Green Street Hooligans (2005)

DIRECTOR: Lexi Alexander

CAST:

Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Claire Forlani, Marc Warren, Leo Gregory, Geoff Bell, Henry Goodman, Terence Jay

REVIEW:

‘Football Hooliganism’ dates back to the late 1800s, with gangs of overzealous football (soccer to us Yanks) club supporters- who came in Britain to be known as firms- intimidating or attacking rival players and clashing with opposing firms. Continue reading

Red Eye (2005)

Red Eye movie review & film summary (2005) | Roger Ebert

DIRECTOR: Wes Craven

CAST: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox, Jayma Mays, Jack Scalia

REVIEW:

Red Eye belongs to that specific subgenre of thriller that takes place (mostly) in one confined setting, and also to that of the “Fridge Movie”, where the filmmakers try to keep the level of tension and engagement high enough to distract from plot holes and the underlying flimsiness of the screenplay. Alfred Hitchcock is perhaps the most iconic filmmaker to color within these lines, and widely-regarded as the most masterful at it; Hitchcock was not above working with scripts riddled with plot holes, but overcame them at least in the moment through sheer directorial prowess. Wes Craven’s Red Eye does a serviceable, if not superlative job at this; running a breezy hour and twenty-five minutes, it’s a brisk, economical battle of wits and wills between two characters, but while there are times when the tension is sufficient to distract us, there’s other times when the seams in the storytelling are too evident. Nonetheless, for those who aren’t too critical, it’s nothing particularly ambitious or original, but a tense little thriller that serves its purpose as a breezy diversion.

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The Island (2005)

DIRECTOR: Michael Bay

CAST:

Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Bean, Djimon Hounsou, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan

REVIEW:

There’s an intriguing idea at the heart of The Island, but the fact that the director’s chair is occupied by Michael Bay instead of, say, Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott should clue one in as to how deeply it’s going to be explored. Bay’s forte isn’t developing fascinating ideas, it’s a lot of whizz-bang flashy action extravaganza that might provide a momentary thrill ride for those who don’t demand too much but has about as much depth as a shallow puddle by the side of the road. The Island initially seems like it might aim a little higher with an intriguing premise, but it’s disappointing how quickly it surrenders to expected Bay form. Continue reading

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