I sort of expected this film to beat me over the head with an anti-religious message, but it surprised me by being more complex than I thought it would be. I imagine that there are any number of people out there who would find Saved! very offensive, but I don't see it as a condemnation of all religion, not even of all Christianity. There were too many sympathetic Christian characters for me to take the film in that way. Even so, it was rather heavy-handed in the delivery of its message, which turned me off. Macaulay Culkin was the only actor that I found memorable, and he seems to have matured well. I'm interested to see more from him.

Viewed: 6/25/2004 | Released: 1/20/2004 | Score: C

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The Stepford Wives

I've never seen the original film, nor have I read the book, but I have to believe that both were better than this latest version. To begin with, casting Nicole Kidman--who has all the personality and acting talent of a wet blanket--in the lead role was just ridiculous. This is a role that should be--in my opinion, anyway--played by a woman with great charisma and a normal-looking physique. Kidman just didn't cut it for me. Unfortunately, Kidman seemed to fit right into the campy tone of the film. Granted, some of the scenes and characters are meant to be cheesy, but there were also parts that were probably supposed to be edgy or suspenseful or thought-provoking, and they failed miserably. The sympathy star is awarded to Bette Midler and Roger Bart for managing reasonably good chemistry.

Viewed: 6/23/2004 | Released: 6/5/2004 | Score: D

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The Terminal

Tom Hanks is probably Hollywood's most likeable leading man. He's so well-liked and so popular that I think it can be easy to overlook the fact that he is also an exceptionally talented actor with a good eye for picking winning scripts. And, in my opinion anyway, The Terminal is a winner. The supporting cast was great. Diego Luna, Chi McBride, and Kumar Pallana made a great team, and Catherine Zeta-Jones even managed not to irritate me. Stanley Tucci was, as usual, great; he has such a natural style that you forget he's even acting. But, really, this movie was all about Tom Hanks. His performance was incredibly nuanced. I mean, how many other actors can you think of that can be both funny and heartbreaking at the same time? I'm not sure that Hanks will get an Oscar nod for this film because the tone of the movie was a little lighter than I expect the Academy to like. Even so, I expect this one will be on the list for the next Sakeriver Movie Awards.

Viewed: 6/19/2004 | Released: 6/8/2004 | Score: A

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Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

So far, Dodgeball is the funniest movie I've seen this year. Vince Vaughan's low-key, cool vibe worked very well in this movie, and I think Stephen Root and Alan Tudyk are two of the best comedic character actors in the business. What really made the movie, though, was the writing. There were just so many jokes, and so many of them worked. At times it was hard to catch a breath between laughs. Indeed, Dodgeball was one of the few movies I've seen recently that managed to be consistently funny all the way through.

Viewed: 6/18/2004 | Released: 6/17/2004 | Score: B

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I think this may be the best Harry Potter film so far. The only reason I say "may" is because despite the fact that I loved it, I have to wonder whether a person who hasn't read the book would be able to follow it. At 142 minutes, Prisoner of Azkaban is a long movie, but it doesn't feel like it when you're watching it. On the contrary, there is so much to cover that the film feels rushed. With Goblet of Fire weighing in at over 700 pages (as compared to about 430 pages for the third book and 340 for the second) I have to wonder how they're going to maintain the plotline and still keep the movie to a reasonable length. But back to the film at hand. As I'm sure most people know, this installment of the series featured a different director, Alfonso Cuarón. Cuarón is a much more artistic director than Chris Columbus was, and I think that really helped this film, especially given the darker nature of the story. As far as the acting goes, Gary Oldman was, as usual, great, but the ones I find myself really thinking about are the three leads: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. They really are perfect for the roles, and they seem to have more than ample skill for portraying their maturing characters.

Viewed: 6/3/2004 | Released: 6/3/2004 | Score: A

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