Review: Wanted (dir. Timur Bekmambetov, 2008)

wantedIf no one had told you that Wanted was based on a series of comic books, you probably could have guessed it. The film occupies a very familiar space between the sublimely silly and the oddly profound, using lots of visual razzle-dazzle to trick you into lowering your expectations and settling for little more than a fun ride, and then it hits you with plot twists that make you think, “Whoa.” Or at least, “Huh!”

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Hollywood? No, SHER-wood!

How Sherwood Baptist Church became a hot spot for making Christian movies — including Facing the Giants and the upcoming Fireproof, starring Kirk Cameron.

The regular film world has the Coens, the Wachowskis, and the Farrellys — brothers who collaborate on producing and directing both blockbusters and arthouse flicks.

The Christian film world has the Kendricks — a couple of associate pastors in Albany, Georgia who made a couple of ultra-low-budget movies with a mostly volunteer cast and crew as part of their church’s outreach program, and then hit it big when the second film, Facing the Giants, grossed just over $10 million at the box office.

Now they’re putting the finishing touches on their third film, Fireproof, due for a theatrical release on September 26. The film concerns a firefighter whose marriage is on the rocks, and whose father challenges him to take “the Love Dare” — a series of recommended activities that might, just might, help patch things up.

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Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (dir. Andrew Adamson, 2008)

narnia-princecaspianFor all their talk of staying true to the spirit of C. S. Lewis’s novels, the makers of the Narnia films have frequently deviated from the books in ways both big and small, and the liberties they take with Prince Caspian — which echo but go far, far beyond the liberties they took with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — both help the film and hurt it. They help because you can sense that co-writer and director Andrew Adamson is finally making the big epic fantasy battle movie that he really wanted to make the first time around, and his devotion to that vision holds Prince Caspian together and makes it a more consistent, and consistently entertaining, sort of film than Wardrobe was. But in steering the film closer to his own vision, Adamson steers it away from Lewis’s, and so it loses some of the book’s core spiritual themes.

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Review: Standard Operating Procedure (dir. Errol Morris, 2008)

Errol Morris has been open about his politics at times, not least when he spoke out against the invasion of Iraq while accepting an Oscar for his documentary The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. But until now, his films have never been all that concerned with current events. Instead, they have tended to explore the nature of evidence and the psychological factors that affect how people interpret that evidence. Where some documentaries can come across as works of politically-minded journalism, Morris, a former private detective, tends to be more interested in forensic science, and in the philosophical ambiguities and absurdities that result from people’s investigations of the cold hard facts.

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Interview: Dolph Lundgren (The Final Inquiry, 2006)

finalinquiry-dolphDolph Lundgren made a name for himself in the 1980s, as the villain in films like A View to a Kill, where he tangled with James Bond, and Rocky IV, where he played Russian boxer Ivan Drago. Then he switched to playing heroes in films like Masters of the Universe and the original version of The Punisher.

His films since then have not been so high profile, but he has stayed busy, acting in a steady stream of movies and even directing a few. His newest film as an actor, The Final Inquiry, is a remake of a 1986 film about a Roman soldier who is sent to Palestine to investigate claims that Jesus came back from the dead. Lundgren plays Brixos, a Nordic slave who serves as the Roman tribune’s bodyguard.

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Review: Jumper (dir. Doug Liman, 2008)

When you think about it, teleportation is a natural subject for the movies. You could even say that filmmakers do it all the time, already: in a typical film, when, say, a character walks out the door, it is often the case that the shot inside the house, of the person walking to his or her exit, was filmed on a soundstage, while the shot outside the house, of that same person stepping onto the sidewalk, might very well have been filmed in another city, or even another country. But these images are generally edited together so seamlessly that you don’t have time to notice.

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