Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (dir. Michael Apted, 2010)

narnia3-aThe first Narnia film was a massive hit five years ago; but the second film, Prince Caspian, made only half as much money at the box office when it opened three summers ago, and now it looks like The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will make only about half of that. In truth, it’s not doing much better than The Golden Compass did at this time of year three years ago.

That’s a shame, because Dawn Treader is a pretty decent family film on its own terms. It’s not a particularly faithful adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ original novel, true; but it retains enough of the key themes, and it has a storybook quality that sets it apart from the first two films. It also features one of the most unlikely but appealing friendships ever.

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Review: The Last Exorcism (dir. Daniel Stamm, 2010)

THE BEST movies about demonic possession have always tried to ground themselves in a certain kind of realism. The Exorcist cast real-life doctors and priests as fictitious doctors and priests, while The Exorcism of Emily Rose was loosely inspired by a real-life court case.

So it was probably inevitable that someone would make a movie like The Last Exorcism, using the same pseudo-documentary techniques that have made films like Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project so down-to-earth despite their otherworldly premises.

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Review: Avatar (dir. James Cameron, 2009)

avatarTHERE IS a lot that can — and will — be said about Avatar over the next few months.

The latest sprawling epic from Titanic director James Cameron is a technical marvel and, at times, an awesome thrill ride. It also has the clunky dialogue and simplistic political and philosophical posturing that we have come to expect from his later efforts. And already there is much talk about the film’s chances at the Academy Awards in March.

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Review: Munyurangabo (dir. Lee Isaac Chung, 2007)

IF YOU are reading this paper while it’s still hot off the presses, then here’s a tip: get to the VanCity Theatre as fast as you can and catch Munyurangabo, a stirring independent film, made in Rwanda, that is playing at that theatre for a few days until November 30.

If you miss the film’s Vancouver premiere, don’t worry; the film, which has been making its way around the festival circuit for the past two and a half years, also came out on DVD several weeks ago. So, one way or another, you should be able to find a copy.

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Review: Inglourious Basterds (dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2009)

Seventeen years after he burst onto the scene with the talky, violent crime flick Reservoir Dogs, the films of Quentin Tarantino continue to generate intense debate, even in theological circles.

Just the other day, I heard a prominent Christian professor assert that the hit men played by John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction make evil look attractive, and that those two characters remain “sociopaths” right to the end of the movie.

Many other Christians, however, have argued that Fiction does reflect a moral sensibility of some sort: the Jackson character abandons his criminal ways in the end, after he experiences something he believes to have been a “miracle,” while the Travolta character, who remains a criminal, is eventually killed with his own gun.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (dir. David Yates, 2009)

harrypotter6THE END is near, for Harry Potter and his gang.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth movie to be based on J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally popular books, and like all the previous sequels, it is darker and more mature than the instalments that have preceded it.

But there is only one book left to be adapted, and so this film is filled with a sense that things are coming to a head. Secrets are revealed, the nature of the evil Dark Lord Voldemort’s futile plan to cheat death is finally spelled out, and the film ends on a major cliffhanger that will set the story spinning towards its inevitable climax.

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