Notes from The Back Row 

Cat puke and recycled ideas

Hollywood is running out of original ideas and I’m convinced it’s making my cat puke. Not shit, I used to think the cat was just useless but now I’ve unlocked the puzzle. The cat is so sick of remakes like The Fog and so tired of films with taglines like, "Based on a true story," or "Inspired by true events" that it can’t help but unleash a half-cup of warm, viscous spew every time I sit down to write the movie reviews. Honestly I can’t really blame it; this week we’ve got two "inspired by…" flicks and a big screen adaptation of a video game, which just might be the best of the week.

Doom , a shoot-em-up space marine movie based on the popular ’90s videogame of the same name is juvenile, silly and actually pretty funny. Starring The Rock, who’s as engaging and personable as ever, as the leader of a band of single-traited characters sent to Mars to fight a bunch of genetically altered monsters, Doom is simple and straightforward but somehow manages to stay entertaining (kind of), mainly due to its sense of humour and the fact that the filmmakers understand and pander to their target audience (kids and mid-20s video game dorks). Still, The Rock proves he’s the best action star out there these days and if a weapon named the "BFG-Big F___in’ Gun" doesn’t make you snicker then perhaps you will when a character dies and gets a free life. Semi-crappy CGI effects abound but Doom fleshes that out with lots of gore and a decent sense of the claustrophobic unnerviness of wandering dark halls waiting for things to jump out at you. Sure it bites from Predator and Aliens but Doom is probably the best video game adaptation out there, which isn’t saying much.

Speaking of keeping quiet, or rather voicing your opinion, North Country opens Friday and since it’s "Inspired by a true story" the Oscar hype is already rising. So is the bile in my throat.

Charlize Theron stars as Josey Aimes in this Erin Brockovich -esque tale of one woman’s struggle against a rigid corporation and a lecherous society in a Minnesota iron mine. Aimes is an abused single mother, raped as a teen, who moves to her parents’ home to raise her family. Rather than make a crap wage in a hair salon, Josey and her chum, (Frances McDormand, redoing her Fargo accent) get jobs at the mine, where the male workers instantly hate them for "taking jobs from men." After some of the most vile workplace abuse imaginable Aimes gets a lawyer and takes her fight to court. It’s an uplifiting and inspirational movie with a stand-up-and-cheer, tearjerker ending but the court scenes are a bit weak and the fact that all the men in the picture, even Aimes’s son, are portrayed as total sadists waters the picture down a bit and dips it into soap opera territory at times. Solid acting and a nice (true don’t ya know) message will make North Country a hit with the womenfolk but it’s a bit melodramatic for me.

Also opening this week is Dreamer , an inspired-by-truth, girl-and-her-horse movie that’s so full of cheese and corn it actually resembles a pile of my cat’s puke. Seven-year-olds from Pemberton might like this movie but I’m gonna have to go with my cat on this one. Blllaaaggggghhhh.

What I do recommend is Howl’s Moving Castle an animated flick by Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki that is part of the Tuesday films series. This movie is surreal, magical and the best animated feature to hit screens in years. If it weren’t for this movie my cat would’ve probably taken a dump on the carpet too.

AT VILLAGE 8 Oct. 21-27: Serenity; North Country; Dreamer; The Fog; Elizabethtown; A History of Violence; Flight Plan; Wallace and Grommit. On Tuesday, Oct. 25: Howl’s Moving Castle.

AT RAINBOW THEATRE Oct. 21-27: Wedding Crashers .

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