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Blood and Chocolate; Catch and Release; Epic Movie; Funny Money; G.I. Jesus; Salaam-e-Ishq; Seraphim Falls

 

SERAPHIM FALLS
You have to love the casting of Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson—two Irishmen—as Civil War vets sprinting across the Western plains, with Neeson the pursuer and Brosnan the pursued. The whole project, filled with familiar faces (Angie Harmon, Anjelica Huston, other "Hey, it's that guy!" actors) in teensy roles, reeks of old-fashioned Big Studio entertainment—this could have been made sometime between, oh, 1953 and 1978, and danged if you (or your dad) wouldn't watch it on late-night TV. Directed by a maker of—no surprise—TV procedurals (David von Ancken), Seraphim Falls has decent pep in its step until the final 30 minutes, when it's finally revealed why Neeson's bounty hunter is after Brosnan's surly mountain man. The flashback finale and all that comes after (and keeps on comin') drags on so long that even the actors look exhausted. Before that, the movie is yet another replay of The Most Dangerous Game, and Brosnan and Neeson are game for it. My wife suggests that Brosnan, who takes a dip in icy white water and treks from frigid mountaintops to arid deserts among his myriad deeds of derring-do, should have been paid a small fortune, since he "gets the shit beat out of him." Neeson too is a credible hero—or is that villain? See, we're never sure who's who till the end, and even then, von Ancken ain't achin' to pick sides. (Robert Wilonsky) (Century Stadium, Orange)

SMOKIN' ACES
See "Ace Up His Sleeve" (Countywide)

VENUS
See "Exit the King" (Edwards Westpark, Irvine; Mann Rancho Niguel, Laguna Niguel)


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BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE
There's no official rule that says werewolf movies have to be boring, but it doesn't seem like anyone has tried particularly hard in a long, long time to make them anything but. Needless to say, Blood and Chocolate does not buck the trend. Looking about as lethargic as the viewer is likely to feel, Agnes Bruckner goes through the motions as Vivian, a Hungarian-American werewolf in Bucharest, inexplicably falling for a dumb-ass comic-book artist named Aiden (Hugh Dancy) who looks more like a boy-band refugee than your typical geek. Were one able to muster up any kind of energy, there's plenty to laugh at, from the fact that the head werewolf (Olivier Martinez) lives in an absinthe factory, to the circa-1980 transformations via camera dissolve, and the pathetic attempts at faking martial-art-du-jour, Parkour. At one point, Aiden says to Vivian, "If you cared a goddamn thing about me, you'd have left me before we ever met!" And if you care a goddamn thing about your evening's entertainment, you'll walk out of this howler before you ever buy a ticket. (Luke Y. Thompson) (Countywide)

CATCH AND RELEASE
In the small pantheon of successful women screenwriters, Susannah Grant is aristocracy. But the muscular dialogue that fed so many great lines to Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich and Cameron Diaz in In Her Shoes goes AWOL in Grant's directing debut, a slack dramedy about a young woman (Jennifer Garner) whose grief for her dead fiancĂ© is assuaged not by the usual band of earth mothers, but by his three buddies, each of whom suffers in his own strenuously odd way. This mildly fresh premise never takes off, in part because Grant flashes most of her emotional cards in the first half-hour, leaving all the characters to rot in underdeveloped eccentricity. Garner is no more than serviceable as the tightly wound Gray, unwinding in the arms of her fiancĂ©'s lothario friend Fritz, very badly played by Timothy Olyphant (a disconcerting cross between Billy Zane and Sir Cliff Richard with a lot invested in grating raffish charm). Kevin Smith is the good-hearted Fat Friend who stops gabbing only when he's scarfing down left-over pizza, while Juliette Lewis salvages what scraps she can from her role as a new age  LA ditz. Revelations pile up, followed by insight and maturity, and pretty soon there's nothing left to do but go fishing in scenic Colorado and be really, really nice to your friends. (Ella Taylor) (Countywide)


EPIC MOVIE
The speeds of sound and light remain constants, but the speed of crap accelerates like a rocket luge on Crisco Mountain. Seriously, the daddy of the (blank)-movie genre, 1980's Airplane!, stocked its pop culture arsenal with references to 1957's Zero Hour, 1970's Airport, and 1975's Jaws. By contrast, this ostensible parody of big-budget adventures (specifically The Chronicles of Narnia) reaches all the way back to last May's The Da Vinci Code, July's Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and October's Borat. (Borat?!) Just like the filmmakers' previous Date Movie, this feeble fast-buck shitbomb is an amateur-hour game of Spot That Reference, intended for people who crack up simply at the mention of anything topical—sudoku, "Lazy Sunday," Cribs. Which means that by the time this dud drops on NetFlix, it'll be as obsolete as a Chia pet jokebook. The only bright spot: Darrell Hammond's spot-on demolition of Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, uncanny right down to his swashbuckling dying gesture. (Jim Ridley) (Countywide)  

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