Ron Perlman IS Hellboy. Not for a single frame in the entire film do you believe that Hellboy is not a living, breathing entity with thoughts and emotions like everyone else. Perlman (with makeup assist by master Rick Baker) does a spectacular job breathing life into a character loved by readers of the Dark Horse comic, created by Mike Mignola. Some of the best scenes in the film are the quiet ones, especially when Hellboy spies on his unrequited love Liz Sherman from a rooftop while discussing relationships with a 9-year-old.

Screenwriter/Director Guillermo Del Toro has crafted an immensely enjoyable film, with well-rounded characters, surreal villians, and detailed set-pieces. After seeing how well he handles "Lovecraftian" beasties in this film, I look forward to seeing his rumored adaption of H.P. Lovecraft's "In the Mountains of Madness."

This is a short review, if only for that fact that there's not much I can say about the film other than GO SEE IT! NOW! ahem, sorry about that there . . .

Final Score:
***** out of *****
Highly Recommended!!

When I first heard about the remake for "Dawn of the Dead," I was skeptical about the idea, to say the least. Actuall y, I hated the idea. The original Dawn is perhaps my favorite horror movie, right up there with The Exorcist, Halloween, and the other films in Romero's Zombie saga. The last thing I wanted to see is my favorite horror film get the Hollywood shaft, with the new creators delivering a film that's all style and no substance. I saw the film with my fellow zombie-lovin' friends on opening night, March 19, and I have to admit - they did a pretty good job.

It's not a bad horror film, and even though I had a few problems with it, I overall enjoyed it. I was even surprised when my friends, who saw it with me and are even bigger fans of horror and Romero's films, came out of the theater liking it, but they also had some of the same problems that I had, most noticeably a lack of characterization for a few of the 'important' characters, such as Sarah Polley (who seems to fade into the background as the movie progresses), Ving Rhames (who could have been an even cooler character given if only given more screen time), and Mekhi Phifer (who undergoes a rather quick an unexplained transformation during the film (if you've seen it, you know what I mean). The only character that gets some development is Jake Weber's 'Michael," and the reasons why come into play at the end. Another audience-pleasing performance was Ty Burrell's "Steve," a sarcastic yuppie-type who steals the show when he enters the mall later in the film.

One thing I really liked was how the style of the direction changed as the film progressed. Shots were looser and more open as they entered and occupied the mall, but as things got worse, the film became more cropped, closing in on the survivors. Also the frenetic, hand-held camera feel during the final act of the film was a nice effect, too, giving the impression that things were happening very fast and quick reflexes were necessary to survive.

The gore was quite impressive - headshots a' plenty, and some unique zombie kills highlight the film. No scenes of zombies chowing down on dead body parts, unfortunately. But that gets redeemed by the "chainsaw girl" scene . . . never saw that coming . . . hoo boy did the audience I saw the film with love that bit, and so did I. Considering 5 minutes of gore was trimmed by the MPAA, I was surprised what did make it in the final cut. It will be curious to see what gets added to the eventual DVD release.

Not as great as the original, but still a fun time at the movies. I would have liked to see more development of a few characters, and there is a logic error or three to be found, but Dawn of the Dead is a worthwhile zombie flick none-the-less.

Final Score:
***1/2 out of *****

I consider myself a fan of Stephen King's work. I've ready many of his earliest stories, but as the years went by, something about his writing didn't appeal to me as much as it did when I first started reading his tales of terror and the unknown. It was during that period when "Four Past Midnight" was released, and in that book of short stories is where we find "Secret Window, Secret Garden," which is now a film starring current it-actor Johnny Depp and John Turturro and adapted and directed by David Koepp. I hadn't read the story when it was originally published, so I was going in not sure what exactly to expect. Those who have read the short story know what happens, but the ending of the film is much different from the original material, as I was informed by a friend of mine, and avid King reader.

Johnny Depp portrays author Mort Rainey, a writer more inclined to nap on his couch than actually work on his next book. Rainey, sporting a rat's nest of dirty-blond locks and a tattered bathrobe, lives in a rustic cabin with his dog Chico while going through a divorce with his wife, played by Maria Bello.

When a mysterious stranger named John Shooter comes to his door (John Turturro) claiming that Rainey stole his story, a story that was written and published many years before Shooter's version, and wants him to fix the ending. Rainey writes him off as an obsessed whack-o, but events soon take place that show Shooter is not someone to be taken lightly. Murder and arson are just two ways that Shooter threatens Rainey into doing what he wants.

If you've read the story before, you know the secret behind John Shooter, and the movie doesn't do too much to hide that from you. There's a red herring in the guise of Rainey's soon-to-be ex-wife's boyfriend, played by Timothy Hutton, but when the "reveal" takes place, it's a bit anti-climactic and any suspense created throughout the film is dropped at that point. I was hoping they were going to do something very different with what they were hinting at, but it just wasn't the case this time.

The acting was good, as you can expect in a film which features Depp, Turturro and Charles Dutton. Depp's portayal of the quickly unraveling author is worth the admission alone, and Turturro's Shooter makes for a quietly terrifying villain who will do what it takes to get his ending.

Not a bad film by any means, but not a great film either. It's worth checking out for the quality of the acting, and the story does keep you involved, even though the ending is a bit telegraphed early on in the film.

Final Score:
*** out of *****

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