The city streets explode into violence when "The Man" kills Black Dynamite's (Michael Jai White) brother in this seamless recreation of the blaxploitation classics of the 1970s. He was the best agent that the CIA ever had, but these days Black Dynamite only answers to one boss -- himself. When "The Man" ices Black Dynamite's brother, starts pumping heroin into the local orphanage, and floods the ghetto with a secret weapon disguised as common malt liquor, the car chases, gunfights, and shirtless brawls that follow prove wild enough to make even Dolemite green with envy.
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST depicts the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus of Nazareth (Jim Caviezel), beginning with his betrayal by Judas Iscariot (Luca Lionello) and ending with his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Directed by Mel Gibson (BRAVEHEART)--who funded the film himself and co-wrote the screenplay--PASSION uses flashbacks to substantiate a handful of pertinent moments in Jesus' life and teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the Last Supper, as well as his relationships with his mother and his disciples. Still, the drama focuses on the seemingly endless torture inflicted upon Jesus by Roman soldiers at the urging of the Jewish crowd that considers him a blasphemer, despite the attempts of a sympathetic Pontius Pilate (Hristo Naumov Shopov) to spare him from death. The faint of heart should be prepared for the brutal, barbaric beatings that Christ endures. Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, and Hristo Jivkov are touching as Mary, Magdalene, and John respectively, who are devastated by Jesus' fate yet aware that they can do nothing to change it. Performed in Aramaic and Latin with English subtitles, Gibson's labor of love is sure to prompt discussion and debate as to historical and Biblical fact.
This star-laden version of Lewis Carroll's novel combines elements of both the title novel and Carroll's sequel, Through the Looking Glass. In England of the 19th century, young Alice finds that the mirror over the library fireplace opens into a strange world. She has odd adventures and changes size several times both before and after she follows a time-obsessed White Rabbit (Skeets Gallagher). Soaked after nearly drowning in a pool of tears, Alice is helped to dry off by a Dodo (Polly Moran), and encounters a caterpillar (Ned Sparks), whose mushroom also changes Alice's size. In a noisy home where the Cook (Lillian Harmer) and the Duchess (Alison Skipworth) are always fighting, Alice takes care of the Duchess' baby, but it turns into a pig and runs away. Asking directions of the Cheshire Cat (Richard Arlen) is no help, and a tea party with the Mad Hatter (Edward Everett Horton), the March Hare (Charlie Ruggles) and the Dormouse (Jackie Searl) is confusing and annoying.
Heroic earthling Flash Gordon saves the world from the nefarious Ming the Merciless in this lavish, intentionally campy adaptation of the famous sci-fi comic strip. The story is as basic as space operas get: Ming (Max von Sydow) has developed a plan to destroy the Earth, and Flash (Sam J. Jones) and his attractive companion, Dale Arden (Melody Anderson), are called upon to stop him. Along the way, Flash must battle Ming's goons and the temptations of a luscious space princess. Previously the basis for a more straight-faced 1930s adventure serial, Flash's story is mined here for exaggerated, cartoon humor by screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr., a central figure in the similarly campy '60s Batman television series. The simplistic plot mainly serves as an excuse for spectacular sets and cartoonish action sequences, all set to an appropriately over-the-top rock score by Queen. Certainly not a film to turn to for serious excitement, fine performances, or character development, Flash Gordon has nevertheless developed an appreciative cult of fans who admire the film's humorous approach and the detailed, colorful production design.
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