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Mark Palermo is a hero ona half-shell.

The recently opened 300's effort to faithfully reproduce the visual storytelling of Frank Miller's comic in movie form just becomes even more CG-ridden and soulless than Troy. Trying to stay on the good side of Miller's fanbase, Snyder's devotion to comic panels forsakes basic film grammar—one shot doesn't follow geometrically with the next.

There's more elasticity and excitement in TMNT. It's in the unique visual design that the return of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stands high as a comic-book movie. The animated film's striking use of image and motion allows each of its action sequences to leave an impression. Nighttime Manhattan, with its dark alleys and towering skyscrapers, is presented in a stylized manner that suggests reality without becoming it.

This care wasn't necessary: A new Ninja Turtles movie is an easy cash-grab from nostalgic 20-somethings. When the first-live action movie hit in early 1990, the Turtles were an established property through action figures, the animated series, video games and the Eastman and Laird comic that started it all. It helped that kids had superheroes on their minds with the recent Batman movie, though many grownups scoffed at the franchise's worth. For one thing, the Ninja Turtles' behaviour bears little connection to their mutation from slow-moving aquatic reptiles. But some girls admitted to having crushes on them and boys wanted to emulate them. These were, after all, "cool" outsiders. They made sarcastic quips, loved pizza and lusted after a hot news journalist. The new movie succeeds dually for old-school fans wanting their innocence back and for kids pacified by Saturday morning fare.

If it isn't the ultimate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie (the first film is also worthwhile), it's because it excels in unexpected ways and falls short in expected ones. Having defeated Shredder, the sewer-dwellers' effort to defeat stone-encrusted warriors bent on immortality and world disorder is sometimes painful to listen to, especially when it tries to be funny. Making loyalty and companionship its noble theme doesn't stop director Kevin Munroe from reducing human characters April O'Neil and Casey Jones to slacker 20-year-olds who hang out on the sidelines of the action. But it's the propensity and skill of the action that really brings TMNT alive, particularly in its last half. Leonardo's rooftop confrontation with an anguished Raphael has a rain-slick gleam, giving the film's emotional centrepiece an enduring visual stamp. It's an accomplished, unpretentious restart to this franchise.


The present vogue of zombie cinema was inevitably going to produce a light suburban comedy. School kid Timmy Robinson (K'Sun Ray) breaks 1950s repressive social expectations when he befriends the family zombie. The walking dead in Andrew Currie's Canadian feature represent the unknown enemy, servants, anything the white bourgeois treats as less than human. Timmy at least has friendship on his mind when he names his zombie (Billy Connolly) Fido and walks him like a dog. The cleverness of Fido's concept maintains enough charm to want to disregard that its satire is pretty thin. The played- out target of the conformity and ignorance of the '50s melds Far From Heaven's tongue-in-cheek melodrama with the boy-and-his-monster glee of Frankenweenie. The good-natured aura sells Fido, but also holds it back whenever it could risk taking more dangerous aim.

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