The Dead, helmed by British commercial directors Howard and Jon Ford, was shot in 35-millimeter film in Ghana and Burkina Faso and adheres strictly to George Romero's rules of zombies. You know, the zombies shamble along slowly and aren't all that interested in brains, and the only way to put them down is with a head shot.
Rob Freeman stars as Lt. Brian Murphy, the lone survivor of a plane crash, who's stuck in an Africa populated almost exclusively by the walking dead. He's desperate to return to his family in the U.S., and he eventually teams up with an African soldier, Sgt. Daniel Dembele (Prince David Oseia), who's on the road, looking for his son. There's no shortage of zombies and plenty of blood and gore, though the social commentary Romero has focused on in his recent films is glossed over pretty quickly.
What really sets The Dead apart from most of the current crop of zombie flicks is that it's shot on film, so many of those desolate African vistas look terrific. And the distances the characters have to travel, through hostile territory, is very clear. The movie's also made by professionals, which has its pros and cons. It looks good, but it also takes itself far too seriously, and there are a number of shots that are clearly considered to be of high artistic value. That's great and all, but, at the end of the day, this is a zombie movie, and anyone who signs on for a zombie movie is less interested in camera framing than watching an arm get bitten off.
Still, any walking-dead movie on a big screen is a win for zombie aficionados.
16-Love: A teen tennis romance, some of which was shot in San Diego.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Stephen Daldry's new film about an awkward little boy whose father, Tom Hanks, died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, will polarize audiences, who'll either experience an intense emotional connection or find it sentimental and exploitative. See our review on Page 31.
In the Land of Blood and Honey: Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, set in Bosnia during the conflict in the 1990s, is about a relationship between a Serb officer and the Muslim woman he tries for years to protect.
Haywire: Steven Soderberg goes all Quentin Tarantino with an action film starring former American Gladiator Gina Carano as a Black Ops soldier who goes all medieval after she's betrayed.
Red Tails: George Lucas produced this film, which may be the biggest action film ever with a primarily black cast. Set during WWII, a group of Tuskegee Airmen finds itself oversees, fighting the enemy.
A Separation: Lovely Iranian movie about a couple going through a divorce who have to endure that country's labyrinthine legal system when their housekeeper is injured. Just won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.
Tomboy: Everyone thinks a 10-year-old French girl with short hair is a boy when she moves to a new neighborhood.
Underworld Awakening: The vampire / werewolf conflict continues in 3-D!
The Viral Factor: Asian pop star Jay Chou, who co-starred in The Green hornet, is one of two brothers in this epic action film about crooks and an epidemic of small pox.
One Time Only
Shortbus: After he made Hedwig and the Angry Inch, John Cameron Mitchell put out a call for New York actors willing to actually have sex on camera. That's why the sex scenes in this movie about confused, sex-addled New Yorkers look so real. Presented by FilmOut at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Old School: As far as raunchy R-rated comedies go, this movie now lives up to its name. Still pretty funny, though. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Lezioni di Cioccolato (Lessons in Chocolate): As part of its Foovie series, UCSD's ArtPower! Film presents this romantic comedy about a shady building contractor who attends a chocolate class in place of an injured employee. That, of course, is where he meets a gorgeous girl. The movie screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, at The Loft at UCSD, with an optional accompanying meal.
The Art of Flight: The Pearl Hotel kicks off a monthly documentary series with this flick about snowboarder Travis Rice. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19. Clockers: Spike Lee's crime thriller, set amid the cops and dealers of Brooklyn, is smart and complex, a precursor to The Wire. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
2012 Human Rights Film Festival: Seven films that explore genocide, sex trafficking, Guantanamo and plenty of other important topics. The series runs Friday, Jan. 20, to Monday, Jan. 23, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. Find a schedule at mopa.org. We have details on Page 15.
The Maltese Falcon: A black bird, a dame and Humphrey Bogart, all on the big screen at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, and Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp. Daisy Bates: The First Lady of Little Rock: This documentary about the woman who forced Little Rock's central high school to integrate screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, at the Central Library, Downtown. Borat: Everyone's favorite Kazakh newsman. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Iron Lady: Not even Meryl Streep can solve the problems faced by this ham-handed biopic.
Beauty and the Beast 3D: This 1991 Disney film was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture.
Carnage: Roman Polanski directs the adaptation of a Tony Award-winning play about two couples who get together to discuss a conflict between their children. It stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz and takes place entirely in one New York apartment.
The Conquest: Like Oliver Stone's W. and all those movies about Tony Blair, this French film about the drama surrounding French President Nicholas Sarkozy was made while the little fella was still in office. Ends Jan. 19 at the Ken Cinema.
Contraband: This year's Mark Wahlberg action movie.
Joyful Noise: Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah are rivals who decide to work together to win a choir competition. For the American Idol set.
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress: Gereon Wetzel's documentary about the food experimentation at El Bulli, one of the most influential restaurants in the world, is more observational than narrative, which means that although it's often fascinating, it can get dull. Ends Jan. 19 at the Ken Cinema.
Beneath the Darkness: A bunch of high-schoolers have to convince the authorities that a respected member of the community is actually a psycho killer. The hardest part? That guy is played by Dennis Quaid.
The Devil Inside: In order to find out why her mother murdered three people during her own exorcism, a woman in Italy becomes involved in back-alley demonic expulsions.
The Human Body: Get up close and personal with what's going on below your neck—like, IMAX up close and personal—on Fridays through January at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Pariah: Adepero Oduye's performance, as a young African-American lesbian in Brooklyn who has to keep secrets from her family, is amazing, elevating a story we've seen before to new heights.
Players: Bollywood remake of The Italian Job. Probably not set in Italy, though. Showing at Horton Plaza.
Rescue: This IMAX movie looks at first-responders across the globe and includes footage shot during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. It screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Yellowstone: If you look closely, you might catch the cameo from Yogi the Bear in this IMAX nature film, which screens on Fridays through January at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
A Dangerous Method: Michael Fassbender is Jung, Viggo Mortensen is Freud and Keira Knightley is a disturbed young Russian with eyes on the former. Somehow, even under David Cronenberg's direction, it isn't very interesting.
The Adventures of Tin-Tin: Most Americans are unfamiliar with Tin-Tin, the series of Belgian graphic novels about a boy reporter and his heroic dog Snowy. Spielberg's kid-friendly adaptation has some amazing motion capture, but it doesn't truly capture the series.
The Artist: This silent film about a silent-film star (Jean Dujardin) whose world begins to collapse as the talkies take over is a fully realized vision and a legitimate Best Picture contender.
The Darkest Hour: Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby are in Moscow when aliens attack.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Now with more English! David Fincher's reboot is far slicker than the Swedish original, but not, perhaps, particularly necessary.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol: Believe it or not, No. 4 is the best of the bunch, probably because it's the first live-action film from director Brad Bird, the guy behind The Incredibles.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Gary Oldman is great as George Smiley, the semi-retired British spy brought back in to unmask a traitor during the Cold War, but the entire exercise is probably too slow for American audiences.
War Horse: Spielberg's other big holiday film is about a horse that's taken from the boy who raised him, serves as an officer's mount in WWI and ends up seeing action from opposite trenches.
We Bought a Zoo: Native son Cameron Crowe gets seriously PG. Matt Damon stars as a single dad who moves his two kids to an aging zoo conveniently run by Scarlett Johansson. Also starring some very cute animals and kids.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: The sequel is certainly entertaining, as Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) take on the detective's legendary enemy, Professor Moriarty. But there's really no mystery to solve.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked: Squeaky clean.
Young Adult: Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody reteams with director Jason Reitman for this story about a former homecoming queen (Charlize Theron) who returns to her small hometown in Minnesota after a divorce and a mental breakdown of sorts, intending to steal her high-school beau (Patrick Wilson) away from his wife and family.
New Year's Eve: Famous people like Sarah Jessica Parker, Halle Berry, Robert De Niro and Ashton Kutcher get drunk and make out at midnight.
Shame: Michael Fassbender bares body and soul as a sex addict in Steve McQueen's NC-17 drama. It's graphic, emotionally and sexually, but it's also well-made.
The Sitter: Jonah Hill is the college kid suckered into taking care of children who live next door to him.
Hugo: Hell hath apparently frozen over—Martin Scorsese has made a 3-D PG family film.
The Muppets: Jason Segal reboots the franchise. It's time to play the music and light the lights one more time.
My Week with Marilyn: Eddie Redmayne is Colin Clark, an assistant to Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), who has to manage his boss' relationship with Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) during a production of The Prince and the Showgirl.
The Descendants: Alexander Payne's first film since Sideways is more straightforward than his previous work, but just as rewarding. George Clooney's terrific as Matt King, a father trying to reconnect with his daughters after his wife's injured in an accident.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1: You know how Bella and Edward spent the last three movies not getting it on? Well, now they do.
Immortals: Zeus chooses Thesus (played by Henry Cavill, the next Superman) to take on Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) in a film by Tarsem Singh, who made The Cell.
J. Edgar: Leonardo DiCaprio is the longtime head of the FBI in Clint Eastwood's biopic. DiCaprio's pretty good, but the film treats Hoover with kid gloves.
The Way: Emilio Estevez directed his dad, Martin Sheen, in this film about a father who heads to Europe to try to recover the body of his estranged son.
Under the Sea: Go underwater and see some of the planet's most gorgeous ecosystems, before it's too late, since we're gradually destroying pretty much everything. Screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Moneyball: Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's who shook up baseball by reinventing the way players are valued. Sounds like dry stuff, but the last time someone adapted a Michael Lewis sports-business book for the big screen was The Blind Side, which earned Sandra Bullock an Oscar.
Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen's most charming film in years stars Owen Wilson as a Jazz Age-infatuated screenwriter and aspiring novelist who ends up hanging with the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
Boto be Wild 3-D: Despite sounding like yet another animated animal movie, this is an IMAX film about baby elephants and orangutans and the people who love them. Oh, and it's narrated by Morgan Freeman. Collective sigh for the baby monkeys, please.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.