We can understand the resurrections of Leatherface Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. But one-hit wonder the Miner? Yes pickaxe-wielding mad miner Harry Warden appears to be on the rampage again. The residents of Harmony believe police fatally shot Warden after he picked off kids partying in the mine. But his body was never found. If Warden really is dead who’s now driving his pickaxe through the heads of those connected with all the mine murders? Could it be Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) the mine owner’s son responsible for the accident that turned Harry into a homicidal maniac? Or could it be Sheriff Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith)? Caught in the middle is Sarah (Jamie King) who married Axel after Tom dumped her and fled Harmony. Worse the killer set his sights on Sarah so he can finished what was started long ago down in Tunnel No. 5. Bearing in mind the damsel in distress must remain standing it’s more important that King can bust some moves than explore the emotional and psychological toll of being victimized by an unstoppable force of evil. Luckily King prevails over her initial jitters in order to swing a mean shovel when under attack. On the other hand wimps Ackles (Supernatural) wears nothing but a pained expression on his face while Smith (Dawson’s Creek) is all bark and no bite. Horror fans though will get a kick out of seeing ageless tough-guy Tom Atkins take on the Miner. Oh and as for that glasses-fogging moment that’s mandatory for a 3-D chiller it’s Betsy Rue’s unenviable task to strip down to her birthday suit as Palmer’s high school sweetheart and rub what she’s got right in our faces. Does it matter that this My Bloody Valentine redo fails miserably as a whodunit? Or that the only time you’re on the edge of your seat is during a tense supermarket confrontation between King and the Miner? This remake exists solely to gross you out by throwing anything and everything at you in 3-D. Eyeballs pop out body parts drop to the floor blood and pieces of bone cover the screen -- to that end director Patrick Lussier doesn’t disappoint. Props to him for not giving us a scene-by-scene carbon copy of one of the earliest holiday-themed Halloween knockoff but the director falls short whenever he attempts to recreate his source material’s most nail-biting moments. So if its gore you want you got it; but if you want to be scared out of your wits give My Bloody Valentine the kiss off.
Based on E.B. White’s enduring children’s story we meet Wilbur the Pig (Dominic Scott Kay) a runt who is saved from the axe by a little farm girl named Fern (Dakota Fanning). She raises Wilbur from infancy but eventually she has to send Wilbur over to her uncle’s neighboring farm since there’s no room for a pig in her house. There in the barn Wilbur meets the assortment of colorful animal characters: Betsy (Reba McEntire) and Bitsy (Kathy Bates) two pessimistic cows; motherly goose Gussy (Oprah Winfrey) and her henpecked hubby Golly (Cedric the Entertainer); Samuel (John Cleese) an uptight sheep; the skittish horse Ike (Robert Redford); the self-serving rat Templeton (Steve Buscemi); and of course sweet Charlotte (Julia Roberts) a spider with a heart of gold. When the naïve Wilbur finds out he might be Christmas dinner Charlotte makes a promise to her new friend that she’ll do everything in her power to make sure Wilbur sees the Christmas snow—and everyone ends up helping her out. What could be more fun than to voice a barnyard animal? Winfrey and Cedric’s geese banter is like an old married couple. Cleese gives Samuel the sheep a certain upper-crustiness. Redford is actually pretty funny as a horse who’s deathly afraid of spiders (“I’ll listen to you but I just can’t look at you”). Buscemi is a particularly nice choice as the sneaky rat Templeton who only thinks about filling his belly with food (no typecasting there we swear). For pure comic relief there are also two crows voiced by Andre Benjamin and Thomas Haden Church who just can’t quite get around the whole scarecrow thing. And as Charlotte Roberts has a truly soothing and loving tone sort of how you’d imagine it from the book. As for the human aspect Fanning continues to do what she does best playing Fern with the right amount of youthful innocence spunkiness and determination. Just wondering how we are going to handle it when this amazing little actress grows up and starts doing like adult things. Actually it is sort of a shame they couldn’t get a live-action version of Charlotte's Web made before Babe. Sure there was the 1973 animated cutesy film but a live-action adaptation of this timeless tale really should have been the standard by which all computer-generated talking farm animal movies would follow don’t you think? Instead Charlotte's Web pales ever so slightly in comparison. Oh well water under the bridge. Director Gary Winick (13 Going on 30) still manages to invoke the wonderful and uplifting spirit of the novel keeping faithful to the text in all ways. Visually the film is crisp and flawless in its execution particularly in the beauty and splendor of how Charlotte spins her webs and emotionally hearts will indeed swell and tears will flow. Charlotte's Web is the perfect family movie to inspire the next generation of young readers and viewers as well as for the rest of us who fondly remember the childhood classic.