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curtman2

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23 reviews in total 
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Hostel (2005)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Blood-soaked revulsion a sadistic fantasy, 17 January 2006
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Another torturous gratuity of some of the most repulsive hacking Jeffrey Dahmer could conceive, "Hostel" plays calculatingly and chillingly well as a gore fest cum revenge flick, with an anarchic signature Tarantino twist to boot. Cautionaries like "not for the squeamish" and "seduction kills" are splattered all over the wall of this malodorous, if irresistible, concept of a film like the mutilated body parts and bloody carnage which inevitably ensue, yet "Hostel", unlike countless other slasher flicks that are impetuous in presenting shock and awe, builds its terror casually and methodically. Allowing plenty of exposure to the clichéd "to-be-mutilated party animal teenagers who unknowingly become seduced by a fatal excursion", and offering up plenty of gorgeous European scenery and babes galore, the film's anticipation of horror is consequentially profound. You anxiously hang around and wonder, "How is this going to play out?". And once the neon ecstasy of the "hostel" becomes the darkest and most blood-curdling dungeons of despair imaginable, if you don't find yourself gagging and shying away from the punishing grotesqueness that eventually blackens the screen, you might want to ask yourself if you're a sadist at heart. And you thank your lucky stars that your life isn't under the knife of one of these trigger- or should I say, "blow-torch, chainsaw, drill"- happy maniacs. At times, it's a bit too excruciating and mind-numbing to absorb, and the pace is a bit drawn-out in places. In the end, there's a sore lack of empathy for any of the so-called characters, the bludgeoned or the bludgeoners, because as usual, the victims play right into their killers' machinations, and the killers are strictly capricious madmen. Just when you think one of them has the heart not to "finish the job" (or the privilege, however you want to put it), it's simply a convulsion of their manic nature, and they turn out to be the ghouls we figured them to be after all. These elements would usually make for tripe horror, and "Hostel" would fall into the category of yet another recycled morass of a gore fest. Yet one has to keep in mind that at the helm of this production is the ever-industrious Quentin Tarantino, and you had better believe that everyone's going to get what's coming to them. This is not so much a chilling and horrifying film as it is a cold and unflinching trip into the darkest places imaginable. For the price of admission, you're going to get gore, gore, and babes galore, and if that isn't enough, the last drop of blood will be shed until the credits roll. "Hostel" is blood-soaked, soberly crafted horror featuring the most gruesome images you won't be soon to forget. Could you expect anything less? *** out of ****

1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Crashers is Cool and Classy Summer Fun, 23 July 2005
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Aside from all of the Hollywood hogwash we've endured throughout the blazes of summer, "Wedding Crashers" falls in a class of its own, and can be welcomed as a bawdy, smart, and often tender fix on romantic antics and mostly classy comedy. Hysterical leads Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn really elevate the film's chaffing premise to grand comedic heights, with their jovial, affable chemistry, and witty deliverance of surprisingly smart one-liners. Rather than resorting to puerile scatological butts, "Crashers" offers clever romantic skylarking for sophisticated crowds, as well as classic raunchy escapades for more demure laughter, working on many comical levels. The story showcases the goofy, albeit charming Wilson- meeting and falling for the dashing and spirited Rachel Adams, who is dying for someone of Wilson's convivial nature to come along and whisk her away from a potentially imprisoning relationship, at Secretary of Treasury Christopher Walken's other daughter's wedding, which Wilson and Vaughn initially scheme to "crash". While Wilson is struggling with a growing affection for Claire Cleary which is tempering his wild-spiritedness by the day, Vince Vaughn is enduring torture of different sorts in the form of an abnormal virgin and a gay nudist art show. Eventually, you'd expect this scenario to cause a clashing between the two "invincible party animals", and you'd be right. The comedy, however, is hardly mired by Wilson and Adams' watery romance, and rather, works in between Wilson's pontifications of "the special somebody" and antique bike venturing along the beach, and you're left with a sweet and slushy romantic comedy. The laughs are pretty consistent throughout, as there always seems to be some comical edge in between inevitable sappiness. You'll have one particularly syrupy scene with Wilson and Adams wandering the hallways "searching the night for one another", immediately followed by Vince Vaughn strapped to a bed in a not-so-pleasant hysterical episode. It's comfortably tender as well as brassily campy, and overcomes many platitudes with its nonstop charms and innuendos. Wilson and Vaughn are perhaps the perfect comedic team, and are totally believable as the shrewd and quirky chick magnets they expertly play. The concept of "one night stands" has never been funnier, and the idea they are game players in "bagging babes" with their "rules of conduct" tunes the comedy quite affably, resulting in a crafty smartness that is often AWOL in other farcical fluff. "Crashers" cruises with charming, jovial, and surprisingly sharp dialog and humor, cool and whimsical characters, and amusing scenarios that provide top of the line comedy for just about any crowd in search of something refreshingly funny to weather down the blazes of the dog days of summer. Wilson and Vaughn are a real comic treat, and "Wedding Crashers" is one terrifically funny showcase of their synergistic savvies. Here's something rare: it's a comedy where you needn't check your brain at the door to have a laughingly good time, while also inviting you to lighten up and enjoy its routinely hilarious antics. ***1/2 out of ****

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A sweet and loony adventure complete with awes, chimeras, and delights, 16 July 2005
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A marvelously delectable, albeit bizarre and ingratiating concoction, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" assembles enough "freaks and treats" for deliciously satisfying entertainment that will have you scratching your head in bemusement in strange areas and licking your lips in its visual feast. The new "Wonka" tale of the fantastic world of sweet delights is far less "charming" in terms of innocence and conventional in terms of story structure than the Gene Wilder version of Dahl's masterpiece, but rather, it deviates as an eccentric, thrilling, and downright psychedelic adventure into the realms of fruitful imagination and awesome aberration. In some respects, it's still that endearing little tale of a wondrous happening realized for an indigent little boy, Charlie Bucket, who dreams of bigger and better things, yet stays dear and true to his family in any matter. Freddy Highmore instills the adorable innocuous, curious, and faithful nature of Charlie Bucket, and gives us plenty of reason to cheer for his golden day of fun being realized, even after the selfless lad initially declines the "golden ticket", out of concern for his family's living conditions. On the other hand, a child of a different nature, Willy Wonka, is explored on less empathetic terms, and we can only gather from his various reflections that his eccentric, uncanny, and somewhat eerie nature is founded on repression and emotional neglect, leading him to eventually realize that "chocolate is the only thing that makes sense". Willy Wonka, we come to realize, is one strange, unadulterated hermit, who has compassion for his "Oompa-Loompas" and a zealous proclivity for chocolate, but has little concern for anyone or anything else the world over. Perhaps nothing can explain some of his capricious, agitated tendencies, or his ghastly, gleeful countenance, or his mousy articulation, or anything else, for that matter. Through the bizarre and fascinating journey through Willy Wonka's factory, we become immersed in a visual feast of dazzling set designs, gorgeous colors, and marvelous, innovative visual effects that enthrall our senses and compensate for whatever bizarreness we encounter along the way from Depp's "Wonka in Neverland". It's a wickedly gorgeous, thrilling, and freaky adventure of a movie that can be sweet and ravishing, fruitful and wondrous, or bizarre and zany whenever it pleases, and we get a sweet taste of it all throughout. For those who detract and even dismiss the cinematic quality of the film for Depp's "zany, over-the-top, creepy" interpretation of Willy Wonka, I would argue that one can easily get past this weirdness by absorbing all of the visual splendor, or beating to the trippy, zany Danny Elfman score, or appreciating some fantastic talent all around from the adorable cast of children, to enjoy a perfectly delightful film experience. It's wild and crazy, but it's also sweet, thrilling, and fascinating- a real treat for those who can stomach Johnny Depp's bizarre, inexplicable antics, and I can assure you, there are plenty of reasons why you can. I wouldn't entrust my child in this Wonka's hands, but I wouldn't deny my child this wonderful cinematic experience, either. I'll take Tim Burton's crazy and exciting trip in Willy Wonka's wondrous factory any day over flocking to much of the uninspired, banal refuse that's normally hogging multiplexes in the summertime. You don't even need the heart of a child that explodes with joy at the finding of that last golden ticket to enjoy this "Chocolate Factory"- just bring an open mind and a thirst for adventure and visual delight, and you may discover a real treat indeed. Much of it may even dance in your mind long after a regular "sugar rush" and some of the Oompa-Loompa singing numbers are not to be missed or forgotten! ***1/2 out of ****

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Run for your lives and have a popcorn-munching good time- the world is under attack!, 9 July 2005
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"War of the Worlds" delivers as genuine popcorn, roller-coaster escapist fare, far from monumental or even inspiring, yet hardly derivative and implausible to the extent of unadulterated folly. The effects are nothing short of spectacular, and certainly steal the show here, "mind-blowing" away any plot holes that might undermine the film's dramatic, terrifying atmosphere. From ravaged buildings to gigantic craters to "lightning portals", the visual behemoths throughout the film are enough to leave you gasping with terror and astonishment- gotta hand it to those CGI wizards- the effects are ingeniously devised here. Tom Cruise supplies heartfelt emotion and vigilant resolve to his starring role as a "blue-collar, not-so-committed father", once again "on the run" (read Minority Report), who, as to be expected in a Spielberg film, comes to terms with the important, life-sacrificing values in life (e.g. family), and partially flees for his and his family's life, and partially combats the unidentified foes to mankind, which I suppose, elevates him to heroic status in the film. Dakota Fanning is pitch-perfect as the Cruise's terrified and remarkably wary daughter, who presumably is the heart and soul of the theme of human suffrage. Perhaps the character development is somewhat insufficient and the latter third of the movie gets bogged down in "Spielberg syrup", yet as a summer thriller, "War of the Worlds" is surely a must-see. There are plenty of chills with its conveyance of panic and paranoia- whether it be the destruction shots taking a backstage to the mass hysteria of humans- behaving like selfish ants under the focus of malicious aliens, or the scenes of carnage and wreckage- it seems a reality that this is the end of the world as we know it. The film also succeeds on suspense- the kind of man-being-cornered-by-creatures scenario exhibited in "Jurassic Park" that works so well in evoking the sense of dread in times of crucial survival. In the midst of the panic and chaos, we as the viewers experience the pain and turmoil of death, destruction, separation, and survival, and when we witness the human suffering of this clandestine "war", we are horrified by its monstrous casualties and root for the victory of man over these not-so-friendly extraterrestrials. Spielberg's direction of this bleakness is appropriately gloomy and tremulous, which serves to convey the horror and turmoil in a remarkably effective way.

Though it's far from the definitive, quintessential blockbuster, with enough plot holes to fuel the aliens' spaceships, and especially lacking in sufficient character development and satisfying resolution, "War of the Worlds" is just fun enough, terrifying enough, and dramatic enough, for a definite recommendation. For the most part, this is an end-of-the-world thriller with heart and brains, and it truly delivers as entertainment with awesome, terrifying onslaught. *** out of ****

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Chilling Wax, 15 May 2005
7/10

"House of Wax" traffics plentifully in clichéd, campy territory, with Paris Hilton surprisingly enough sub par to the events at hand, yet isn't mired too much in wax to be dismissed as "another hysterical, implausible" teen horror flick. It has elements of sophomoric hilarity, specifically the awfully lax acting, not confined to wax sculpture Paris Hilton, but virtually the entire cast, as they run around fussing and screaming, and as is the accustom for these kinds of flicks, inexplicably find themselves seeking their own grisly fates with every ludicrous misstep they take. That said, "Wax" is also exceedingly creepy and horrific in many parts, and the sheer grotesque images of human flesh-manufactured wax sculptures as well as the excruciating process of "wax manufacturing" evokes tingling chills down your spine that is hardly gratifying, yet these elements are sufficiently scary enough for a worthy "shriek". There's not much to be made of the premise, which consists of several doting "teenagers" (most of whom are in their mid-20s, by logic) taking a wrong turn on a swamplands road trip and detouring to a terrifying town of their grisly fates- where afflicted, despondent brothers perpetrate gruesome killings and mold their victims' flesh into wax sculptures to boast their literally human, "community of wax". Not to be ignoble, but the "players of death", or the characters who stumble upon the hell of "house of wax", destitute of even the slightest thread of common sense, are almost worthy of their gruesome fates, and Paris Hilton's function and purpose in herself is for the audience to root and eventually cheer for her not-so-heiress demise. The editing work is surprisingly effective here, moreso as the film etches along, and much of the graphic material is actually jolting and unforeseeable, with the shots being exceptionally well orchestrated and encompassing of every action. Surely enough, "Wax"'s respect in the originality department is destitute, as its entire premise has been recycled and burned into wax many times over, almost mimicking exactly "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Yet despite its campy nature, clichéd material, and inept acting, there's enough to be said of "House of Wax" for delivering its fair share of spine-tingling terror and jaw-dropping carnage that makes for a fairly effective horror with some truly horrific elements. Don't take it too seriously, ignore Paris Hilton's minimal annoyances, and stay jolted to your seat with awe at the freakish horror of the scorching, oozing process of wax as it makes wonders out of mortifying human flesh. Sounds creepy? "Wax" transcends the "teen slasher" genre and actually looms some chilling, gory horror. *** out of ****

Sin City (2005)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Grotesquely Gorgeous- A Splendid Cult Classic, 3 May 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Sin City" is a loathsomely gorgeous creation, perhaps the most brutally depraved concept to audaciously deem itself an aesthetic piece of art- it's a harrowing portrait of the decadence of a grotesque criminal underworld, supplanting elements of gore and vengeance for congenial cinematic structure, yet dare I castigate the film for those reasons- rather, it's a disgustingly beautiful contrivance of most ingenious proportions. "Sin City" is a dazzlingly bleak portrait of a truly grimy universe: bang, bang, slash, slash, yeah baby, yeah, bang, bang, etc. Instead of reducing itself to a formulaic, machismo gore fest, "Sin City" transcends its depravity into aesthetic, artistic brilliance- adhering to an atmosphere of darkness with obscure shading, and punctuating elements of ugliness, aberration, and awfulness with assorted hues, and the effect is that the depravity and vileness that constitute "Sin City" are more gorgeous and delectable elements than ever, and one develops a guilty satiation for otherwise deplorable and odious content. In "Pulp Fiction" chronology, it tells three dismal, grotesque stories of vengeance involving many scathing, loathsome people (all of whom are destined to the road to perdition if they haven't already visited there) and as we find ourselves immersed in a decaying world of murder, lust, mayhem, and redemption, there is an undeniable intoxication about the style that makes the entire "grueling" experience nothing less than deadly gorgeous eye candy, and this is sheer cinematic greatness, if nothing else. Make no bones about it, the film is not content to be sensitive to its grisly subject matter, and never compromises vile obscenity and lascivious sexual puns in its dialog, nor mortifying, nauseating violence, nor bare flesh nudity (whether bewitching or bestial), because "Sin City", for better or for worse, is unabashed to its nature, and faithfully exacerbates its graphic content into naked, blemished art for the inquisitive, lustful eye. The grizzly narrative will give you a good idea of the characters' senses as well as the theme, if you haven't already registered that this is about as drably noir as they come. Performances are polished to perfection, and each actor reserves dimensions to otherwise one-dimensional characters (Mickey Rourke is pitch-perfect at conveying angst and machismo, yet mortifying grief and apprehension in his relentless pursuit of vengeance, while Benicio Del Toro (head attached) is sneeringly villainous and charming, and Bruce Willis carries the persona of a hit-man with a heart of gold), in three cleverly united stories of vengeance that all culminate in despair for each. A truly deplorable concept of a film, highlighted by discomposed heads, repulsive flesh, grisly murder and mayhem- all electrified as one uncannily gorgeous creation that solidifies itself as a true cult classic delivering all the luscious eye candy and noir that film buffs will be salivating over, and then some. Who would've imagined a world of ugliness and filth could be so wholesomely glittering with beauty and genius? Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez have realized just that with this marvelous "Sin City", certainly worth an engaging trip to the dark side of humanity- and beauty. **** out of ****

Guess Who (2005)
13 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Consistently Comic, Cultural "Mac Attack", 30 April 2005
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To be confessional, I didn't have the bar set high for this recent installment of "the comical bridges of the races" Bernie Mac-Ashton Kutcher product. Surprised as I was, "Guess Who" very much surpassed those expectations and worked throughly well as a hilarious comedy that attacks cultural differences with an irreverent, raunchy, and jovial punch. Simply put, here is a film that could have excelled with any number of premises, given the inimitable charisma and comic wit of Bernie Mac, who flat out carries the show on his own piercing, sarcastic own. Ashton Kutcher works well with what he is given, yet his character comes across as a trite, clumsy bumpkin to Mac's ferocious flare, and is merely the butt of every comedic catastrophe, rather than a multi-dimensional character who can hold a candle to thwarting his own preordained chagrin. Kutcher gets involved with "his other half", is initially terrified at meeting her father (he's better with moms), and all hilarity ensues when he and "the father with the bulging eyes and capricious temperament" get uncomfortably and frolically acquainted with one another, eventually realizing that maybe this relationship will require some self-depreciation and frenzy to eventually be accepted. To be certain, much of the comedy adheres to the "racial tension" theme, and there is of course plenty of the proverbial cultural clash that abounds- consummating with, you guessed it, a torrential family dinner scene in which Kutcher's "empowerment" eventually gets the best of him, but "Guess Who" isn't content to strictly deplore racial boundaries, as it also works effectively as a howlingly funny "meet the father from hell" scenario, succeeding solely on Mac's uncannily nimble charisma and wit, who has an aura about him that would make any future son-in-law shrink to his skin, or to a greater extent, be obliged to sleep and "spoon" with the man! Of course, while this is consistently amusing and funny, what we're mostly left with toward the end are the platitudes of mawkish sentimentality, of "rekindling the love we lost" that seem to always hobble the comedy of even the most outrageous of premises, as if the premise has been exhausted enough and becomes more of an "endearing love story" than a convivial comedy... Why is that? Anyhow, I would solidly recommend "Guess Who" for its cutting, raucous comedy and for Bernie Mac's spunky, fleeting charisma that really gives a convincing element to this otherwise wired premise. The laughing stock might not be constant throughout the film, yet there is just enough humor to enjoy and laugh yourself silly. After all, watching Bernie Mac popping a blood vessel over a basketball game, debasing a man's character for not being avid in sports, or keeping a cautious and close body near Kutcher's "nighttime affairs" is certainly worth the price of admission! *** out of ****

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Paramount Pixar- Engineered to Perfection, 28 April 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Incredibles", without question, falls nowhere short of its title: a spectacular pack of dynamite thrills, comical and compelling humor, and stupendously dazzling visuals, an animated masterpiece for both adventure-craving children and cynical, adulterated parents alike, transcending a seemingly trite and cartoonish premise into marvelous entertainment that delivers all the goods that should be the standard for all Hollywood productions. Beginning with the exploits (or lack thereof) of a wrongfully disgraced gargantuan of a superhero Bob Parr (a.k.a. Mr. Incredible), his equally vigorous wife, and quarrelsome, prodigal children, "The Incredibles" could have resorted to strictly a nimble "superheroes saving the day" scenario, supplanting mindless action and explosion for character development and dialog. I am pleased to report that the film instead bypasses this clichéd premise and offers a simple, delightful, and often hilarious tale about a man who once conquered the scum of the earth in a supersuit, mask, and cape, who has now been reduced to intervening in family feuds, grovelling to his uptight boss, and combating the inconveniences of commute, his only escape being nights hanging out with his ex-superhero buddy Frozone ("Where's my supersuit?") and reliving the "golden days"; a perfectly endearing story we could all relate to and appreciate. Cleverly written, and with various cultural jabs (e.g. frivolous lawsuits), this story in and of itself would be plenty to be enjoyed; then again, with Pixar at the helm, it had to live up to its name and succeed as dynamite entertainment, now didn't it? One hilarious escapade leads to another, and soon enough, you guessed it, Bob Parr is once again called to arms as "Mr. Incredible". The dialog here is truly ingenious, offering distinct dimensions to each and every character and giving them their own valuable, memorable traits- with the family, these traits are brilliantly infused into their roles of action, which in effect, elevates all of their actions as superheroes to gratifying heights of excitement. Surprisingly enough, hardly ever is the dialog in this "family-oriented flick" ever bland or cheesy; it's almost entirely fresh and original, and always amusing. The visuals, without mention, are absolutely dazzling: the action mixes richly with the colors, the explosions are sheer dynamite- an amazing feat for "animation", and the characters' facial features and motions very much satisfy their accepted personalities; this is perhaps the most wonderful, ground-breaking animation I've ever seen displayed in film. The manner in which the film somehow achieves the weight of being a perfectly innocuous "family flick", gratifyingly clever and original comedy, and delivering some dynamite bang-for-your-buck, is enough to solidify this Pixar wonder (would you expect anything else from Pixar?) as a masterpiece. "The Incredibles" works ably and incredibly at balancing and surpassing so many expectations, and sustains itself from becoming a clichéd, brainless animated actioner, and rather succeeding as a clever, fresh, and marvelously rollicking entry in both the superhero and animated comedy genres. "Dahling, Dahling... For incredible, eye-popping entertainment, rejoice with "The Incredibles": it offers nearly everything that's been sorely missing in the doldrums of Hollywood entertainment today. **** out of ****

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Abysmal, Derivative Mess of Horrifying Proportions, 27 April 2005
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Apparently the standard for horror films these days is all shock and no suspense, mind-numbing contrivance over crucial plot development: "The Amityville Horror" is yet another abysmal failure that is more content to provide a cheap thrill here and there than it is to adhere to the conventions of suspense-crafting and any cinematic development whatsoever. Rather than immersing us into the psyches of the inhabitants of the estate, "Amityville" plunges us into a catastrophically disheveling, incoherent frenzy of camera distortions and grotesque facades, desperately plodding for one shocking sequence after another, entirely lacking the psychological/character development of nay, a classic for the genre, "The Shining". And what's even more insulting to a viewer with any expectations whatsoever for a decent horror picture is that here is a film that is ostensibly derived from a myriad of far superior horror pictures (that it is a remake of a mediocre horror is enough to be said), while supplanting the most awfully banal and contrived "scares" (bathtub horrors, closet snatching, etc.) for a potentially engaging story of a family demonized by a possessed house that, if handled even at modest cinematic value, could've made for a psychologically exciting horror. Instead, what we're left with in this "Amityville Horror" is cardboard, barren acting (Ryan Reynolds, unlike Jack Nicholson in a much similar, yet significantly more evolved horror, is astonishingly unconvincing as a man being driven to madness, and his character is hardly developed enough to appreciate this descension), while Melissa George is equally impassioned as his much-too placid wife who can't even carry a shriek for a scare. I can hardly decide which is more maddening: the agony of standing scene after scene crashing and burning into dire implausibility and predictability, or the inanity of the characters, perhaps casualties of a platitudinous screenplay, who haven't the acuity to discern right away that they have entered ground zero into a world of hell. Perhaps the only workings of this abysmal, derivative, and pathetically predictable mess are some clever editing work in scarce areas. Otherwise, what can be said about "Amityville" that hasn't been exhausted in countless other disappointing attempts at shock without suspense; a bang and a shriek around every corner, albeit not a scintilla of plot or character development. I don't typically weigh horror films as great as serious cinematic pieces, yet I do expect the film to provide me a reason to shriek at its scares; "Amityville" is unfortunately, a "scarefest" without coherence or reason. "Get out while you still have a chance", out of seeing "Amityville", that is... *1/2 out of ****

0 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Visually outstanding, yet drab and underwhelming, 1 March 2005
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At times dark and brooding, at times edgy and fun, and at times drab and floundering, "Constantine" is a decent outing, yet doesn't quite live up to its rollicking and intriguing premise. Keanu Reeves breezes through his role as an energetic, yet ailing, supernatural detective, who has ventured to the depths of hell (and even plunges into hell in consciousness) and decides to abet a confused, agnostic fellow detective (the gorgeous Rachel Weisz) in her sister's mysterious suicide. By the numbers action ensues, with the eerie visual effects confounding and the drab, cloyingly ponderous dialog compromising an otherwise arresting and exhilarating piece of entertainment. Instead, what with Reeves' typical wooden acting and some bedraggled, destitute dialog ("Welcome to my life"; "Not like in the movies, huh?"), "Constantine" is scarcely engaging, or much convincing, in the absence of its outstanding visuals, often coming across as a tedious visit to the "dark side" whose menacing premise can hardly be complimented by factors gone awry. Is it faithful to the comic book of its inspiration? I wouldn't know. Does this sound uncannily familiar: brazen, glum "hero" repels invisible evil threatening war upon mankind? Hint: "Whoa..." It's seldomly inventive, and the surprise twist is as befuddling and "so what" as Reeves' signature dismal performance. Hey, if you're into "Keanu condemnation", supernatural drivel, or fascinated by a lavishing Rachel Weisz, then you might thoroughly enjoy "Constantine" for what it's worth. For me, it's a bit ponderous and grim to be action dynamite, another squandered premise with hackneyed and lifeless execution. Nothing more than a bang-bang, snooze-snooze action/horror rehash, akin to a lame version of "The Matrix" meets "The Terminator" meets "The Punisher". **1/2 out of ****


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