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Trailer Reviews for May 4, 2012

THE AVENGERS



I’ve had my tickets for the midnight opening show of this movie for a few weeks now and I’m really really hoping it will be good. I gave good reviews to Iron Man (both of them), Thor, and Captain America. I also liked The Incredible Hulk and am a Jeremy Renner fan. BUT there are several potential problems with this movie. Firstly: how can they possibly balance screen time for all these characters whom we are used to seeing in lead roles? Not everyone can be the main character. Secondly: who am I supposed to dress up as for the premiere? There’s one girl and she doesn’t even have superpowers. Thirdly: it’s set in New York. There is a special place in hell for movies that destroy New York, not because I like New York, but because I hate it and I’m thoroughly sick of looking at it on film screens. I mean, the first few seconds of this trailer could have been from Transformers 3 for crying out loud! But because I liked the other recent Marvel movies, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

DAMSELS IN DISTRESS



Now that I think about it, the title of this movie could be applied to pretty much any entry in the Avengers series. But that’s not what they’re talking about here. It’s actually a pretty hilarious premise: rescuing people from uncoolness and/or suicide as “social work.” The comparison to Woody Allen is not promising (I hate Woody Allen) and I’m not sure why it’s called Damsels in Distress when there are guys in distress too, but it’s got the same kind of deadpan humor I always liked to see from the British, so if this movie came to somewhere near me, I would totally see it. Sadly, that will not happen. Not until it’s out on DVD anyway.

THE DEEP BLUE SEA



That’s two Tom Hiddleston movies coming out this week (he also plays Loki in The Avengers). Searching for this movie online will lead you to a 1999 horror film about Alzheimer’s Disease and sharks (seriously), so make sure to include the words Weisz or 2012. Anyway, as I’ve said before I hate plots about adultery and/or going insane, and this movie deals with both. HOWEVER, it also stars Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston, which mostly makes up for that. What it doesn’t make up for is how slow it is. If it drags this much in a one minute trailer, what’s watching the actual film going to be like? Excruciating is my guess, so I’d stay away from it.

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DVDs for May 1, 2012

New Year’s Eve

It’s a strange holiday-centric movie that doesn’t come out on DVD or in the theaters on the actual holiday it’s representing, but that’s New Year’s Eve for you. It’s an ensemble romantic comedy about a variety of vaguely connected couples getting what they want on the aforementioned holiday. There are too many characters, so even though it’s loaded with cute famous people (Zac Efron, Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Halle Berry) it’s hard to get caught up in their struggles. It is half decently funny, but 200 Cigarettes does it better. Check out the full review for details.

Buy New Year’s Eve on DVD or Blu-Ray.

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Joyful Noise

I can occasionally be convinced to enjoy a musical or music related movie if I’m in the right mood, so I saw this one in theaters. Plot wise it’s not that interesting. The rebellious grandson and the stifled daughter of warring choir directors strike up a relationship which implodes and then repairs the leadership of the choir on the eve of a big competition. What made me like it was the comedy. Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton are funny on their own, but together they’re hysterical. The music’s not bad either if you can ignore the Godness – it’s energetic and catchy. So give it a try.

Buy Joyful Noise on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Haywire

If you haven’t yet had your fill of action movies where governments turn on their top operatives (I sure have) then here comes yet another one to add to your watch list. This one pits MMA fighter Gina Carano against Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, and Ewan McGregor, so there’s plenty of eye candy. Unfortunately there’s no amount of shirtlessness and throat punching that can disguise the tiredness and illogic of the idea of a government would pour money into training a super agent only to turn around and assume they could kill it easily at the first sign of trouble. Skip it.

Buy Haywire on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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W.E.

This movie was written and directed by Madonna and has a rating of 4.6 out of 10 on IMDB. That news has probably sent most of you running in the other direction, but you really should turn around and come back, because it’s actually quite a good historical drama about an interesting period in English history – when King Edward the 8th fell in love with a divorced American woman and gave up the crown to his brother (whom you all know from The King’s Speech). If you liked The King’s Speech, give it a try and see the story from another perspective.

Buy W.E. on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Trailer Reviews for April 27, 2012

THE PIRATES: BAND OF MISFITS



Chicken Run is one of my all-time favorite movies (animated or otherwise) so I always look forward to new movies from Aardman. Their last couple of big movies have been CGI, so it’s cool to see them return to their claymation roots, even if these kinds of movies take for freaking ever to make. I recognized Jeremy Piven’s voice right away, but I never would have guessed that the main pirate was Hugh Grant. I guess that means he’s a good voice actor? I love the leper joke, the monkey with the flash cards, and the Girl Scout joke (though it should be Girl GUIDES, since he’s British). I don’t know where the plot can really go – the whole Pirate of the Year Award thing is pretty vague – but this is Aardman, so I trust them to make a good movie. I can’t wait to go.

THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT



I’m not sure where to start with this movie. First of all, I don’t understand why living in Michigan would prevent them from getting married. Did Michigan make a law against marriages that I haven’t heard about? Secondly, I’m just not feeling any chemistry between the two of them. Usually when you’ve got a pretty woman and a not-so-attractive guy, he’s likeable because he’s the funny one. But Emily Blunt is very funny on her own, so I’m not seeing a need for him in the story other than the whole wedding obstacle gimmick. Thirdly, they totally stole that arrow-in-the-leg joke from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. On the other hand, someone gets doored in this movie, and I’m a HUGE sucker for people getting doored. I don’t know what it is. But that won’t be enough to make me see this movie.

THE RAVEN



I’m sorry, but when I think of Edgar Allan Poe, I do not picture him looking like John Cusack. Probably because I’ve never thought of Edgar Allan Poe as a doofus. But with his hangdog face and his sarcastic sense of humor, that’s what Cusack brings to the role of Poe. Doofusness. (Sorry John Cusack fans, feel free to yell at me if you want). Both Cusack and Luke Evans, who plays the detective, are delivering their lines with all the inflection of depressed wallpaper paste salesmen, so I can only imagine that this movie will be tragically boring in long form. That’s a shame, because I really liked the episodes of Bones and Whitechapel where the killer was basing his murders on books.

SAFE



Oh joy. Another terrible Jason Statham action movie. Is he TRYING to become the next Steven Segal? Because I already think of him this way and it can only be a matter of time before everyone else comes around. I cannot fathom what would possess a bunch of mobsters to show their ultra super secret criminal ledger to a little girl with a photographic memory unless they’re either tragically unintelligent or allergic to electronics. What, they never heard of a camera? Or a scanner? Or a freaking pen and a piece of paper? But of course the REAL answer is that it needed to happen in order for there to be a movie, ergo it was. The girl and her numbers could be replaced by a suitcase full of heroin or a flash drive and the movie would be exactly the same. But of course it’s hard for a flash drive to run away and just HAPPEN to run into the Big Apple’s Biggest Cliché – the hardass cop who was fired for some trumped up (read: totally understandable) reason like throat punching bad guys and blowing up half the city. Clearly I have too many brain cells still living to enjoy this movie.

DETENTION



Oh look, it’s Peeta (or so Josh Hutcherson shall forever be known on account of the Hunger Games). But his name is Clapton, which just sounds too much like a venereal disease for my liking. Here I was thinking that it was one of those smart ass high school comedies, but then WHOOPS, somebody gets murdered, and now it’s a horror film? Or maybe it’s not, I dunno. But I kind of like it. It thinks Torque is a stupid movie (always a sign of good judgment), it makes fun of teen angst and the prom-obsessiveness of other teen movies, and kids are locked in the library like the crew from The Breakfast Club. And yet… axe murdering. This is just weird enough to be interesting. I want to see it!

WEST WIND: THE VISION OF TOM THOMSON



I must not be very cultured, because this looks like one of the most boring things ever put to film. It also looks really cheap, like it should be something libraries get for free from the government, not something released into theaters. I mean, the title-overs are in Times New Roman, for crying out loud!

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The Lucky One Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film The Lucky One

Let me start off this review by saying that I am not a Nicholas Sparks fan. The Notebook made me want to puke, I thought A Walk to Remember was trying way too hard, and if they hadn’t changed the ending of Dear John for the film version I may have burned down the theater. I’m not sure what possessed me to read The Lucky One or to watch the film version (it may have started with Z and ended in ‘Ack Efron’) because it sounds no different than any of his other sapfests.

A Marine finds a lucky picture of a woman in Iraq and returns home to thank her for saving his life but ends up falling for her instead.

All love stories are sapfests to some extent, but what sets Nicholas Sparks sapfests apart from the herd is the fact that he invariably shoehorns in a bunch of secondary characters who bring about tragedy that tears the main characters apart at the end in an irritating attempt to slap tears from the faces of his readers. However, The Lucky One is different, and that’s why I like it.

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Trailer Reviews for April 20, 2012

THE LUCKY ONE



Normally I wouldn’t touch a Nicholas Sparks movie with a 10-foot pole, but I’ve actually read the book for this one, and it doesn’t end in some horribly contrived tragedy scientifically designed to induce weeping and/or vomiting like the rest of his books (normally I wouldn’t touch a Nicholas Sparks novel with a 10-foot pole either, but this one had a soldier in it and I was bored). So the story is okay (probably, unless they changed it) but unfortunately, Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling have the same unfortunate “naughty teacher boning 12-year-old student” dynamic that Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet had in Titanic even though Schilling is only three years older than Efron in real life. I’m determined to support Zac Efron’s efforts to be a grown-up, however, so I have to see this movie. I think it could be okay. I hope it is. I’ll find out soon.

CHIMPANZEE



Don’t forget, it’s Earth Day this weekend, so pack up the kids and drive your gas-guzzling SUV down to the movie theater, which probably uses as much power in an hour as the average housing development uses in a day, and stuff your faces with chemically processed foods while you watch a film about nature and try to convince yourself that means you’re helping the environment. If you see Chimpanzee you actually will be helping a little, because Disneynature is donating some of their opening weekend ticket sales to help the chimps, who, I think we can all agree, are really freaking cute. Especially when they’re orphans who get adopted by big cranky old man chimps. Yup, your little hairless pink chimps should love it.

THE HUNTER



This movie bills itself as a film festival darling, but it’s the same tired old story that they trot out as the motivating factor for badass from The Punisher to video game player-characters like Max Payne and Kratos from the God of War games. “I’m a man who’s adept at violence but I’m completely harmless and innocent until a TERRIBLE TRAGEDY befalls my wife and/or daughter and now WOE TO ANYONE WHOM I PERCIEVE TO BE GUILTY IN THE INCIDENT!” And we’re supposed to support this guy when all he’s doing is sharing the misery with everyone else. Like the soldier in the trailer says: “What happened to you could happen to me” and it will, in three seconds, when our amoral blank-faced hero pumps him full of lead. Well I’m tired of it, so even if this movie wasn’t an extended exercise in screen speed reading I’d still skip it.

THE BULLY



The theater employees have been wearing pink t-shirts in support of bullying (actually in support of ANTI bullying, but let’s not split hairs) which is probably why this film, which is a limited release, is making the rounds. You might think that with all the “zero tolerance” and “anti-bullying” talk you’ve been hearing from schools, youth groups, supper camps, sports teams, and clubs that this is a movie about a dead issue, but I still see kids getting bullied all the time, so I guess it’s not quite dead yet. What I wonder is how they managed to film of bullies in action. Hidden cameras? Bullies are usually pretty crafty around adults.

KEYHOLE



The blurb for this movie (which is a limited release) makes it sound like torture porn horror movie, but the trailer does not bear that out. For one thing, it’s loaded with cheesy music. For another, it’s got Kevin MacDonald hamming it up (for those of you who don’t know, Kevin MacDonald is one of the Kids in the Hall). And it’s in black and white, giving it a goofy retro noir feel. I don’t know what that reaching for the toilet handle prophecy was all about, but it’s probably no more bizarre than the rest of this movie. I’m not sure if I’d want to see it. I mean, it’d be a cool gimmick for a short film but two hours of it would probably get annoying. Heck, I wanted to stop watching the trailer before it was halfway through.

COMIC CON IV – A FAN’S HOPE



Ah, Morgan Spurlock. You’re back, are you? And hanging out at Cons. There’s a con near where I live that I go to every year and everything I see in this movie is an amplified version of what I see there – the people who buy too much stuff, the people who design insane costumes and must have no free time ever, the nerds who just want to nerd out with other nerds, and then there’s the people like me who are trying to get established in something. So I probably don’t need to watch this movie, but if you’ve never been to a con, you should. You’ll find it totally fascinating.

And yes, it took me a minute but I did notice the title is playing off Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope. I guess that makes me one of the nerds they’re talking about in this film.

THINK LIKE A MAN



My first reaction to the title: “think like a man” is: “oh, so… not?” but I don’t think that’s what they were going for. And by “they” I mean “some people who are not Tyler Perry.” I know that the poster of a bunch of African American couples crammed together makes it look like a Tyler Perry film, but you can tell that it’s not because his name is neither in the title nor plastered all over the poster. The trailer gets off to a bad start by opening with a scene that looks like it was lifted out of a sports movie for 12 year olds. It goes downhill when they progress to a falling out of bed joke. But the idea… the idea I like. It’s a bit like Down With Love. Though I still think that NOT thinking is how you would go about thinking like a man.

HARD CORE LOGO 2



Hard Core Logo was a Spinal Tap-like mockumentary about the self-destruction of a punk band and is widely regarded as one of the best Canadian films ever. So naturally, they waited sixteen years to make a sequel. It probably took them forever to write the script because they weren’t working off a novel this time. It’s hard to make a sequel to a film where the main character dies, so things necessarily have to get a little Hamlet 2 to make it work, which I guess is where the possession angle (which makes it sound like a low budget horror movie) comes in. I really don’t like documentaries or mockumentaries where the filmmaker is in the film and narrating, though, so I’ll probably just ignore this film as surely as its predecessor.

THE ODDS



Ugh, not only are they irritating teenagers, but they’re irritating teenagers addicted to gambling, which makes them extra unlikeable. I’ve never seen the appeal of gambling, so I’m completely unable to get into a movie where all the tension rides on the outcome of bets made for money. Teenage loan sharks are even less appealing. Pit a loan shark against a gambler in a game of poker? Extra no thanks. I won’t be seeing this movie.

Also, if you live in Sydney (Nova Scotia, not Australia), on Thursday at 7pm the Cape Breton Film Series people are showing Kid with a Bike, a sweet Belgian drama about a kid who is fostered by a young hairdresser after his father abandons him. Check out the trailer on their website to see if you want to go.

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Trailer Reviews for April 13, 2012

CABIN IN THE WOODS



I love how this trailer’s all like: “hey, here we are in a totally stereotypical horror movie, blundering into the creepiest old house in the world like a bunch of big fat dumb lambs ready for slaughter” and then it suddenly turns the tables like BAM! Here’s a forcefield and some weird dudes in a secret room! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it! I was seriously wondering what the hell Chris Hemsworth had been thinking taking this role (hello! He’s Thor!) until the weirdness set in. When they got to the part about Joss Whedon producing, that explained everything, including why the nerdy computer guy from Dollhouse is in this movie. I’m such a massive nerd that I’ll see anything with Joss Whedon’s name on it (though the crazy story twist and Chris Hemsworth would’ve had me anyway) so I guess I’ll see you all on Sunday for the review.

LOCKOUT



I always think this is a trailer for Prometheus at first, but of course it’s not. It’s just another prison break movie, this time in space. Naturally the place is full of people who are illogical, uninteresting, and evil and there’s some poor, innocent, helpless damsel trapped with them so of course they have to send an assh*** cop to rescue her. They don’t even try to disguise its sameyness. They even use the lines “there’s only one man who…” and “he’s the best there is, but he’s a loose cannon” in the trailer. Give me a break. What a frigging cliché. And no, making it a sci-fi movie doesn’t equal a new and different twist. Sci-fi is a setting, not a story, and this is the same misogynistic action movie crap they’ve been feeding us for decades. Imagine my complete nonsurprise when the trailer announced this movie was from the producers of Taken, otherwise known as that movie where Liam Neeson punches a lot of dudes in the throat.

STREET DANCE 2



Was there a first one of these? I see by running a search (on my own website) that there was, but it was so utterly forgettable and indistinguishable from the Step Up movies that the memory of it fell out of my brain as soon as I took my focus off it. The major difference between this and the other dancing movies is that there’s a crew in this one with a romantic B plot, while in the other movies, the crews are the B plot while the romance takes center stage (to use a dancing/circus metaphor). They assemble all the required dance movie cardboard cutouts: the smarmy handsome douchebag, the smarmy dorky douchebag, the smarmy not-white douchebag, the scary girl, and the pretty girl the handsome douchebag has to fall in love with. Oh, and of course, none of them can act, and the songs only have one line in them. Thanks, but I’ll be skipping it.

THREE STOOGES



I’ve never understood the appeal of the Three Stooges. There. I said it. Feel free to get all indignant about it, but you’re not going to change my mind. I have never smiled even once at any of the stooges clips I’ve seen over the years, and this trailer it so horrifically unfunny that it always makes me want to leave the theater, even at the risk of missing the actually good trailers that might come after it as well as the movie that I paid $11.50 to see. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have no idea whether you should see this or not. My blinding hatred is preventing me from viewing it objectively, so just watch the trailer and decide for yourself whether you’re a stooges fan or not and purchase your tickets accordingly.

Also, if you live in Sydney (Nova Scotia, not Australia), on Thursday at 7pm the Cape Breton Film Series people are showing Monsier Lazhar, a French comedy/drama about an Algerian substitute teacher who doesn’t subscribe to the New Groupthink teaching method. Check out the trailer on their website to see if you want to go.

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Double Feature Review: Wrath of the Titans and Friends With Kids

posters for Wrath of the Titans and Friends With Kids

Since I’m not interested in American Reunion and Titanic is thirteen years old, my original plan for this week was to review Wrath of the Titans. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find my theater had managed to get a copy of Friends With Kids, which you may remember from this interview, so I saw that too. And I found that I had things to say about both films, so instead of flipping a coin, I decided to do a double feature.

Wrath of the Titans
When Zeus is kidnapped and taken to Tartarus as a sacrifice to free the Titan Kronos, reluctant hero Perseus is pressed back into action for a rescue mission.

Friends With Kids
After seeing their friends’ marriages implode from having kids, two friends decide to have a kid together to get it out of the way before finding their soul mates.

The main thing I want to say about Wrath of the Titans was that Sam Worthington was right: it is much better than Clash of the Titans. And the main thing I want to say about Friends With Kids is that it’s soooo cute!

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Trailer Reviews for April 6, 2012

AMERICAN REUNION



I saw but didn’t really identify with American Pie when it came out in 1999, even though I was located squarely in the middle of its target demographic of North American high schoolers. I suppose it was because my social life didn’t revolve around sex and parties like the “typical” teenagers in the film. And I expect I’ll be similarly disinterested in the characters’ lives now that they’ve grown up, because they’re still typical and I’m still not. I haven’t got a toddler demanding all my attention. I don’t work in an office, I definitely don’t live in the suburbs, and I’m still not interested in partying. The trailer for American Reunion doesn’t make me laugh and it doesn’t make me go: “I wish I could do that!” so I’m just going to skip it and see Wrath of the Titans instead. At least there’s some eye candy in that one.

TITANIC 3D



This April marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. In order to commemorate the lives and deaths of the 1,514 victims and 710 survivors of one of the worst maritime disasters in history, many cities are holding building memorials, holding religious services, and creating special museum exhibits. James Cameron has decided to make more money by slapping aftermarket 3D on what is already the second highest grossing film on record. I think that’s all I need to say about that.

Also, if you live in Sydney (Nova Scotia, not Australia), on Thursday at 7pm the Cape Breton Film Series people are showing Carnage, an independent comedy about parents going after each other over a fight between their kids. You can check out the trailer review here.

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DVDs for April 3, 2012

War Horse

Don’t believe the hype that claims this movie is one of the best of 2011. I went to it fully expecting to be moved but I just… wasn’t. Sure it looks pretty, but because it mostly follows a horse who has no facial expressions rather than the farmer boy who’s trying to find him and rescue him from being in World War I, it’s hard to get emotionally invested. Not that it doesn’t try hard to wring emotions from you, because it does. It tries really, really, hard. It just didn’t work on me. Maybe it will work on you if you have a thing for horses. Check out my full review for more details.

Buy War Horse on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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We Bought a Zoo

Every year the pipes are clogged with quirky family comedy dramas about reconnecting and/or grieving the loss of a parent. So far, this is the only one where the family in question buys a wildlife park. If you’re thinking it’s in the talking animal vein like Zookeeper, you’re wrong. The animals don’t talk, sign, or do anything non-animal. This movie is all about the people adapting to their new lives in a zoo. There’s your obligatory cast: the struggling parent, the cute little girl, the cranky teen, and the local love interest. You pretty much know where this is going, so rent it if you like the formula.

Buy We Bought a Zoo on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Tyrannosaur

Just to let you know: the DVD box for this movie is lying to you. There are no actual tyrannosaurs in this movie, in fossil form or otherwise. It’s actually about a man with a lot of buried anger (see what they did there? That’s called a METAPHOR). Anyway he’s angry but he meets a woman who works in a charity shop. She’s nice to him for no reason and there’s hope that he can maybe be a little bit less angry. And they’re Irish. So if you like character dramas with accents that may or may not end in total disaster, this is the movie for you. If you like dinosaurs, this is not the movie for you.

Buy Tyrannosaur on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Being Elmo

How often do you think about the fact that there is a hand up Elmo’s butt? If you’re like me, the answer is probably: as little as possible. But there is a hand, and it’s attached to a person named Kevin Clash who makes his career out of puppeting and voicing Elmo. And this movie gives you a chance to meet him. Whether this will ruin Sesame Street for you forever, I don’t know. “Will I be able to look at the puppet afterward and still ignore the hand?” is something you’ll have to ask yourself. But it is a fascinating movie about a fun job that hardly anyone knows anything about, so I’d recommend you watch it.

Buy Being Elmo on DVD.
.

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Mirror Mirror Review

poster from the Relativity Media film Mirror Mirror

Up until it was actually time to go to the theater, debate raged in my brain. Do I see Mirror Mirror or Wrath of the Titans? Do I want to be happy or tense? Comedy or action? Comedy won out this week, but all that means is that Wrath of the Titans will have to wait an extra week, because I’m sure as hell not reviewing the 3D re-release of Titanic next week. Anyway, I digress. Mirror Mirror is a Snow White adaptation:

After her evil stepmother steals her prince and her throne and tries to kill her, a shut-in princess joins a band of thieving dwarves who help her fight back.

In previous versions of Snow White, the princess is a pretty moron who gets fooled and almost killed by the evil queen not once, not twice, but FOUR TIMES before she is eventually rescued by a prince who marries her for her body. Obviously this kind of thing wouldn’t go over well today, so Tarsem Signh’s version is much more fun – full of girl power, snappy dialogue, and a Bollywood dance number.

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