Rafe Telsch
Former Contributor

WRITTEN BY Rafe Telsch

Dr. No [Blu-ray]

Every franchise has to start somewhere. For James Bond, that beginning came with Dr. No. Looking at the movie forty six years (and twenty two movies) later, it’s pretty evident that the movie may have been a good starting place for Bond back then, but his first adventure doesn’t exactly hold up.

Kung Fu Panda

Po is the perfect character for Jack Black, building on the fanboy fanaticism and bravado he’s shown in the past with his Tenacious D character or School of Rock. Ian McShane continues to be one of the best villains on film these days, even with just his voice. Dustin Hoffman is probably the most unlikely kung fu master ever in the real world, but he makes Master Shifu come alive.

Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five

Each of the warriors had something they had to overcome, or some lesson to learn on their way to becoming a master. Of course, taking that into consideration, you’d think they’d be more understanding of the Panda when he was first getting his kung fu chops, but I don’t think we’re supposed to think about that.

Saw V

Leaving Saw V, I couldn’t help but think that maybe the Saw franchise has run its course, and is now out of decent ideas of where to go with the story. Between the revisionist history, the disconnected storylines, and traps that really don’t feel up to the same disturbed creative level of the previous chapters, Saw V is a disappointing Halloween treat.

An American Carol

An American Carol isn’t likely to ruffle any political feathers and it lacks anything else that might make it stand out. With a release date that fails to capitalize on either the Fourth of July or Christmas, this adaptation of Dickens’ classic is just a little bit of noise during a political season that already has too tight a grip on most people’s attention for a piece of fluff like this to be noticed.

Space Chimps

Every year there are good movies and bad movies; movies we love and movies we wish we had never seen. In between there is a larger category of mediocre movies that we probably won’t remember seeing long after walking out of the theater doors. That’s the kind of movie Space Chimps is. It’s not great, not terrible...

Batman: Gotham Knight (2-Disc Collector's Edition)

There is probably no character in the history of comic books, and specifically comics adapted to other mediums, as open to individual interpretation as Batman. Don’t belive me? Just think of the different versions of Batman that have been committed to film: Adam West’s sillier, multicolored version; Tim Burton’s Gothic hero, flawed as much as his rogues gallery; Joel Shumacher’s nipply super-hero

The Spiderwick Chronicles - 2 Disc Field Guide Edition

For years the blending of the mundane contemporary world with a magical world of mystery has been dominated by the Harry Potter books, movies, underoos, and breakfast cereal. What about those of us who weren’t born to be wizards, but instead are stuck in the ordinary world? The Spiderwick Chronicles shows that we too can enjoy a magical, extraordinary world around us

The Strangers

The Strangers features an antagonist that resembles a poor man’s Ghostface and has an appropriately reduced terror quality about him. While the original Scream’s opening scene with Drew Barrymore made me want to lock the door before the movie moved any farther, The Strangers barely even motivates me to glance and see if my deadbolts are in place.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Since Indy is sometimes referred to as Spielberg and Lucas’s answer to James Bond, it makes sense to have the original James Bond portray his father. Sean Connery brings a delightful sternness to the role, walking a fine line between a fondness for his cinematic son, and remaining detached from emotional attachments.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Part of what has solidified Raiders' status as a classic film is the numerous memorable moments the film carries, leading the picture to be spoofed and parodied quite often. Who can forget Indy’s marketplace battle with the overzealous swordsman, the brawny battle with the German mechanic, and, of course, the abuse Indy takes chasing a simple truck.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

I have seen far too much of Jason Segel’s penis today. Not that I can imagine there’s any day that would be a good day for me to see his penis, or to see it any more than I have seen it today. Regardless, I have seen too much of it, specifically after viewing Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I mention this because it really is the only bad thing I can think to say about the movie

The Mist (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Darabont completely gets what Stephen King was trying to do with his short story and brings all of those ideas perfectly to the big screen for his movie adaptation. While there is a certain terror in the mysterious mist and the horrors it may hold, the movie is at its best when the mist is just the impetus for forcing these varied people together in one building.

Superhero Movie

There’s really nothing I can say here that will make you decide whether you want to see Superhero Movie or not. If you liked the Scary Movie flicks than this is probably right up your alley, since Mazin is responsible for half of that franchise. Just know going in that this isn’t some clever parody of the flood of superhero movies we’ve seen in the past few years. It’s Spider-Man with dick and fart jokes.

Doomsday

A lot of the movies Doomsday borrows heavily from are cult classics and not movies that are in the mainstream consciousness. Truth be told, if Doomsday had brought something original to the table on top of borrowing all of these other ideas, it could probably achieve that same level of a cult following. After all, there’s enough gratuitous bloodshed and gore to appeal to most fans of those kinds of movies

Atonement

In the beginning, Atonement feels like it belongs right alongside Merchant Ivory fare. Its regal environment seems like something out of A Room With a View - something that shouldn’t seem like too much of a surprise considering director Joe Wright’s success with an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Even the characterization seems hoity-toity, as Knightly’s Cecilia strips down to her slip in front of would-be-suitor Robbie without the young lad even blinking an eye.

Shutter

I think I could forgive the endless remaking J-horror flicks if any of them were made decently. Genre fans keep telling me how “this movie” is so good and the remake has a lot of potential. Few of them live up to that potential. Even with decent acting and an interesting, if not overdone, concept, Shutter is another remake that fails to live up to what I’ve heard about the original.

Penelope

As a modern day fairy tale, that’s actually an incredibly good premise for Penelope, the long delayed film from first time feature director Mark Palansky. You would think the movie taking almost a year to hit theaters would be a bad sign, but the truth is Penelope is pretty good, with the few weaker and predictable moments in the script overshadowed by the performances by its talented cast.

The Darjeeling Limited

Anderson’s style is clearly visible with some of the abrupt camera pans and movements, but it adds even more character to the movie as it allows the camera to explore part of the Indian environment than you might see in a different director’s vision, including things like decorative ceilings. The cinematography, including a judicious use of slow motion, definitely helps the movie acquire an “artsy status,” although the film remains accessible thanks to its content

College Road Trip

For College Road Trip, Disney returns to an old concept mined pretty thoroughly by Steve Martin in Father of the Bride: exploring the father and daughter relationship when the time comes for dad to let his daughter go. Martin Lawrence’s character, James Porter, argues that that time doesn’t come at a wedding, however, but when daddy’s little girl heads off for college.

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