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TV
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Clive Owen Ioan Gruffudd Mads Mikkelsen Joel Edgerton Hugh Dancy Ray Winstone Ray Stevenson Keira Knightley Stephen Dillane Stellan Skarsgård Til Schweiger Sean Gilder Pat Kinevane Ivano Marescotti Ken Stott Lorenzo De Angelis Stefania Orsola Garello Alan Devine Charlie Creed-Miles Johnny Brennan
Genre: Action & Adventure
Theatrical: 2004   Rated: R
Duration: 138
Summary: It's got a round table, some knights, and a noble warrior who rises to become King Arthur, but everything else about this revisionist legend is pure Hollywood. That's not such a bad thing if you enjoyed Rob Roy, Braveheart, Gladiator, and Troy, and there's some intriguing potential in presenting the "real" Arthur (played by Clive Owen) as a 5th-century soldier of Rome, assigned to defend Roman-imperial England against a hoard of invading Saxons (led by Stellan Skarsgård in hairy villain mode). As revamped history and "archaeological findings" would have us believe, Guinevere (Keira Knightley) is a warrior babe in face-paint and Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) is a nonentity who fades into the woodwork. Never mind! Best to enjoy the harsh, gloomy atmosphere of Irish locations, the ruggedness of Owen and his hearty supporting cast, and the entertaining nonsense of a Jerry Bruckheimer production that strips battle-ready Guinevere down to leather-strap S&M gear while all the men sport full-body armor. Hail to the queen, indeed! --Jeff Shannon


Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Naomi Watts Jack Black
Genre: Action & Adventure
Theatrical: 2005   Rated: PG-13
Duration: 187
Summary: Movies don't come any bigger than Peter Jackson's King Kong, a three-hour remake of the 1933 classic that marries breathtaking visual prowess with a surprising emotional depth. Expanding on the original story of the blonde beauty and the beast who falls for her, Jackson creates a movie spectacle that matches his Lord of the Rings films and even at times evokes their fantasy world while celebrating the glory of '30s Hollywood. Naomi Watts stars as Ann Darrow, a vaudeville actress down on her luck in Depression-era New York until manic filmmaker Carl Denham (a game but miscast Jack Black) entices her with a lead role. Dazzled by the genius of screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody), Ann boards the tramp steamer S.S. Venture, which she--and most of the wary crew--believes is headed for Singapore. Denham, however, is in search of the mythic Skull Island, hoping to capture its wonders on film and make a fortune. What he didn't count on were some scary natives who find that the comely Darrow looks like prime sacrifice material for a mysterious giant creature....
There's no point in rehashing the entire plot, as every movie aficionado is more than familiar with the trajectory of King Kong; the challenge facing Jackson, his screenwriters, and the phenomenal visual-effects team was to breathe new life into an old, familiar story. To that degree, they achieve what could be best called a qualified success. Though they've assembled a crackerjack supporting cast, including Thomas Kretschmann as the Venture's hard-bitten captain and young Jamie Bell as a plucky crewman, the first third of the movie is rather labored, with too much minute detail given over to sumptuous re-creations of '30s New York and the unexciting initial leg of the Venture's sea voyage. However, once the film finds its way to Skull Island (which bears more than a passing resemblance to LOTR's Mordor), Kong turns into a dazzling movie triumph, by turns terrifying and awe-inspiring. The choreography and execution of the action set pieces--including one involving Kong and a trio of Tyrannosaurus Rexes, as well as another that could be charitably described as a bug-phobic's nightmare--is nothing short of landmark filmmaking, and a certain Mr. Spielberg should watch his back, as Kong trumps most anything that has come before it.
Despite the visual challenges of King Kong, the movie's most difficult hurdle is the budding romance between Ann and her simian soulmate. Happily, this is where Jackson unqualifiedly triumphs, as this unorthodox love story is tenderly and humorously drawn, by turns sympathetic and wondrous. Watts, whose accessibility balances out her almost otherworldly loveliness, works wonders with mere glances, and Andy Serkis, who digitally embodies Kong here much as he did Gollum in the LOTR films, breathes vibrant life into the giant star of the film without ever overplaying any emotions. The final, tragic act of the film, set mostly atop the Empire State Building, is where Kong earns its place in movie history as a work that celebrates both the technical and emotional heights that film can reach. --Mark Englehart



Director: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. Val Kilmer Michelle Monaghan Corbin Bernsen Dash Mihok Larry Miller Rockmond Dunbar Shannyn Sossamon Angela Lindvall Indio Falconer Downey Ariel Winter Duane Carnahan Josh Richman Martha Hackett Nancy Fish Bill McAdams Jr. Tanja Reichert Jake McKinnon Stephanie Pearson Christopher Gilman
Genre: Action & Adventure
Theatrical: 2005   Rated: R
Duration: 103
Summary: As a screenwriter, Shane Black made millions of dollars from screenplays for the big-budget action movies Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout, among others. With his directing debut Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Black mocks and undercuts every cliche he once helped to invent. While fleeing from the cops, small time hood Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr., Wonder Boys) stumbles into an acting audition--and does so well he gets taken to Hollywood, where--pursuing a girl he loved in high school (foxy Michelle Monaghan, North Country)--he gets caught up in twisty murder mystery. His only chance of getting out alive is a private detective named Gay Perry (Val Kilmer, Wonderland, The Doors), who sidelights as a consultant for movies. No plot turn goes untweaked by Black's clever, witty script, and Downey, Kilmer, and Monaghan clearly have a ball playing their screwball variations on action movie stereotypes. There's nothing profound about Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, but it brings back wicked mischief to a genre that all often takes itself too seriously. --Bret Fetzer


Director: Josh Oreck
Starring: Woo-ping Yuen Laurence Fishburne John Gaeta Lorenzo di Bonaventura Hugo Weaving Zach Staenberg Steve Skroce Keanu Reeves Dane A. Davis Carrie-Anne Moss Joel Silver Owen Paterson Don Davis Janek Sirrs Jason Bentley Peter Doyle Andy Wachowski Bill Pope Larry Wachowski Kym Barrett
Genre: Action & Adventure
Theatrical: 2001   Rated: R
Duration: 163
Summary: A fitting supplement to the feature-packed Matrix DVD, The Matrix Revisited provides a wealth of Matrix arcana, delivered by the 1999 blockbuster's principal cast and crew. The main course in this 163-minute feast is a two-hour documentary covering virtually every aspect of production, with teasing glimpses of fight training on the not-yet-released Matrix sequels. Of greater interest is the sheer depth of filmmaking coverage, with intelligent and amusing anecdotes and insights from all the major players (including graphic artist Geof Darrow, given overdue credit for his outstanding conceptual designs). Fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping is also a fascinating subject, and his early action-blocking videos are included for comparative study. Another segment allows obsessive fans to express their fanatical zeal for all things Matrix, and a look at the in-production Matrix anime project gives them another source of inspiration. While you're pondering which pill to take (red or blue?), The Matrix Revisited should help you decide. --Jeff Shannon


Director: Gore Verbinski Hamilton Luske
Starring: Johnny Depp Geoffrey Rush Orlando Bloom Keira Knightley Jack Davenport Jonathan Pryce Lee Arenberg Mackenzie Crook Damian O'Hare Giles New Angus Barnett David Bailie Michael Berry Jr. Isaac C. Singleton Jr. Kevin McNally David Schofield Treva Etienne Zoe Saldana Guy Siner Nej Adamson
Genre: Action & Adventure
Theatrical: 2003   Rated: PG-13
Duration: 143
Summary: You won't need a bottle of rum to enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, especially if you've experienced the Disneyland theme-park ride that inspired it. There's a galleon's worth of fun in watching Johnny Depp's androgynous performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, a roguish pirate who could pass for the illegitimate spawn of rockers Keith Richards and Chrissie Hynde. Depp gets all the good lines and steals the show, recruiting Orlando Bloom (a blacksmith and expert swordsman) and Keira Knightley (a lovely governor's daughter) on an adventurous quest to recapture the notorious Black Pearl, a ghost ship commandeered by Jack's nemesis Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), a mutineer desperate to reverse the curse that left him and his (literally) skeleton crew in a state of eternal, undead damnation. Director Gore Verbinski (The Ring) repeats the redundant mayhem that marred his debut film Mouse Hunt, but with the writers of Shrek he's made Pirates into a special-effects thrill-ride that plays like a Halloween party on the open seas. Aye, matey, we've come a long way since Jason and the Argonauts! --Jeff Shannon