28 Days Later (2003)

After seeing the preview for 28 Days Later, those who love violent zombie movies rushed to the theatre hoping for chaotic bloodletting and absurd violence. Most others assumed it would be  just another icky horror film, and they steered around it as if it were typical roadkill. And who can blame them? Derivative, disposable horror movies show up almost every week these days, and those worth discussing are rarities indeed.But Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) had a lot on his mind while he … [Read more...]

Shrek 2 (2004)

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This review was originally published at Christianity Today. - When we bade farewell to the happily honeymooning ogres Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz), it seemed like a "happily ever after" ending. True love had saved Fiona from the curse that bound her in the guise of a human being during the daylight. At last she was free to be her ogre-ly self, 24-7. She had learned to accept who she was, and she had discovered someone who loved her that way. Shrek had overcome his antisocial … [Read more...]

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

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I walked into The Emperor's New Groove expecting another formulaic Disney movie. I came out giddy with joy.For all of the craftsmanship of this year's smash family movie Chicken Run, The Emperor's New Groove is ten times funnier and more creative. It's one of the year's... uh... the year's best... NO! I can't make myself say it! It's a Disney movie! Aren't Disney movies just predictable, made-for-marketing, and drenched in sentiment?Sentimentality has slowly swallowed storytelling in … [Read more...]

A Mighty Wind (2003)

-Christopher Guest’s commitment to “mockumentaries” about community events is a curious thing.All three of his semi-improvisational films — Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and now A Mighty Wind — have explored and celebrated the strange behaviors of human beings as they prepare for a public spectacle. He choreographs comical collisions of ego and inanity, and the results usually cause us to wince, laugh, and groan. And somehow, in the midst of inspired improvisation, he strikes resonan … [Read more...]

Alien: Resurrection (1997)

2012 Update: It's been fifteen years since I posted these first-impressions on Jean-Pierre Jeunet's chapter in the Alien saga. At the time, it was a disappointment. But now that the preposterous Alien v. Predator series had trivialized these creatures and reduced the imaginings of Ridley Scott, H.R. Giger, and James Cameron to juvenile video-game fare, Alien: Resurrection looks like a movie from the good old days. I might even find myself talked into watching it again. I mean, surely a movie … [Read more...]

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

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[This review was first published at the original Looking Closer website in 2002.] -Director Kevin Reynolds, responsible for the bloated Waterworld and the misguided Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, has chosen a strong cast and a solid script for his adaptation of Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. The result is not a great film, by any means, but it reveals that Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line, Frequency) can be a compelling big screen hero and Guy Pearce (Memento, L.A. Confidential) … [Read more...]

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

This review was originally published at Christianity Today in December 2004.-You won't find the word father on the résumé of Steve Zissou.That's because Zissou, an inventive seafaring documentarian, has been too caught up in his own self-perpetuating mythology to settle down and raise a family. But every dream has its price, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, director Wes Anderson's latest melancho-medy, is the story of a visionary who must reckon with the temporality, and the c … [Read more...]

The Incredibles (2004)

This review was originally published at Christianity Today in November 2004. -Kids are going to love The Incredibles, and it's possible their parents will love it even more. I'm betting a lot of dads and moms get action figures of Mr. Incredible and his wife Elastigirl in their stockings this year, and they'll be proud to display them at home or at work. While The Incredibles looks like a movie for the kid in all of us, the storytelling of writer-director Brad Bird is aimed straight at the c … [Read more...]

The Polar Express (2004)

This review was originally published at Christianity Today.-It the beginning of a Seattle screening of The Polar Express, when the locomotive of the title arrived in cacophonous glory, it frightened a girl—probably four years old—near the front of the theatre. She launched from her seat and fled up the aisle, her flustered mother following along. That dazzling train must have been quite a shock for the little tyke, who was probably accustomed to watching cartoons on the family tele … [Read more...]

I ♥ Huckabees (2004)

This review was originally published at ChristianityTodayMovies.com.-I ♥ Huckabees is "all about what it's all about." At least, that's what the studio's summary of David O. Russell's fourth film boasts. If that means that the movie asks, "What's it all about?"… they're correct. We haven't seen a movie so intent on uncovering the meaning of life since Richard Linklater's Waking Life. But anybody who claims Huckabees delivers a satisfactory definition of life's meaning is sorely mis … [Read more...]


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