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2007 Features

The Best Movies of 2007 – Bleak, dark and uncompromising, Children of Men presents a terrifying vision of a future where women have become infertile and, without any new births, mankind has slowly started the trek towards extinction.

The Best Television Shows of 2007 – Set in the early 1960s after the boom of the 1950s but before the rise of the counter-culture later that decade, Mad Men shows us in so many ways that while the “good old days” might have been “good” for a segment of the population, it certainly wasn’t so good for everyone.

The Best Movie Posters of 2007 – The best movie poster of 2007 was actually the whole campaign of posters for the movie Grindhouse. These Grindhouse posters perfectly hearken back to a simpler time when low-budget movie studios produced very few posters to promote their films.

Battlestar Galactica: Razor – To call the television series Battlestar Galactica (BSG) a “modern television masterpiece” would not be an understatement. Over the past four years, a mini-series and 53 episodes BSG has examined what it’s like to live on 21st century Earth under the guise of science fiction.

Fall/Winter Movie Season – After a so-so summer movie season passed us by a few weeks back, what does this fall/winter movie season have in store for the viewing public? Unfortunately, out of the dozens of movies all set to open between now and next spring, only a few seem as if they hold much promise.

The Mothman Cometh – Halloween-time is upon us once again and that got me thinking, why aren't most horror movies all-that frightening anymore? Though almost any scary movie can have a few “jump scares” when the killer pops out at an surprising time or when character unexpectedly dies, not many of these movies leave any lasting impact on the viewer.

These Days, Spies Are in Good Company – The series The Company follows the character Jack McCauliffe (Chris O'Donnell), a Yale graduate who finds himself recruited by, and eventually becoming an agent for, the CIA beginning in the early 1950s.

Is Cable TV Finally Worthwhile? – I usually look forward to this time of year. Sure, I'm a sucker for changing leaves and cooler weather, but it's during the fall that the television networks begin premiering their slew of new comedies and dramas. At this time last year there were so many new shows I was interested in I had to carefully schedule my time each weekday evening in order to catch everything I wanted to see.

Wizard World Chicago 2007 – For some reason it's the comic book convention in San Diego gets all the press. Sure, it's the largest convention of the sort in the country, but does it really deserve to be known as the one and only "Comi-Con" when there are literally dozens of other comic-cons that are held across the country each year?

Delightful Dangerous Deadly Deceitful Dexter – The series Dexter follows Miami Police Department blood spatter analyst Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a modern day Jekyll and Hyde that spends his day investigating crime scenes and nights moonlighting as a serial killer. But Dexter's not just any serial killer, he only preys on other serial killers or mass murders who haven't been brought in by the justice system.

Bourne Again and Again – Starring Matt Damon, Franka Potente (Run, Lola, Run), Brian Cox (Zodiac) and featuring Clive Owen (Children of Men) in an early non-UK role, The Bourne Identity follows CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Damon) who's shot during a botched mission, nearly drowns and loses his memory in the process. Wandering Europe looking for clues to his past, Bourne doesn't realize that the agency within the CIA responsible for his creation is out to eliminate him and any chance he might start remembering a bevy of agency secrets hidden away in Bourne’s head.

Surviving the Summer TV Doldrums – Every Summer when the movie cineplexes are kicking into high gear the television networks seem to be shifting into low gear. Over the sweltering Summer months, these networks prefer to burn off the last few episodes of failed drama and comedy series while also releasing a slew of reality and game shows in order to fill their TV schedules. And if you're the type of person that's into these types of shows then good for you, but if you're like me and can't stand even a minute of reality TV there are some alternatives to the Summer television doldrums.

The Lowly Comic Book Movie – Earlier this Summer, the movie Spider-Man 3 opened to huge business, raking in an estimated $300 million in ticket sales in the month of May alone. But the real surprise hit of the year (so far) was the "swords and sandals" epic 300. Released in March, this "little movie that could" cost an estimated $60 million to produce yet managed to take in over $200 million at the box office with a DVD release set for later this Summer.

If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It – Predator – Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse (don't call me "The Body") Ventura, Predator puts a sci-fi twist on the very real brush fire wars of the 1980s in Central and South America. In Predator, a team of American military Special Forces soldiers is sent into a Central American jungle in order to rescue a group of politicians shot down over hostile territory.

New Bionic Cavemen Anatomy Chronicles – A few weeks back, with much glitz and glamour, the television networks debuted their schedules for the 2007-08 Fall season. Though next season, much like every other television season the last 20 years, has its share of wacky sitcoms, "rebellious defense attorneys" and "rogue cop" dramas, there are a few interesting and unique series set to debut next Fall.

Return of Dream of a Big, Huge Turtle – Some people are obsessed with cars, others with comic books but for 20 years Fort Wayne Reader publisher Michael Summers was obsessed with a made-for-television movie that aired a few times in the late 1970s before slipping into obscurity.

Corpse Cinema – Is it just me, or does it seem as if America is under the spell of some zombie-fetish movement? By my count, there will be five major films out this year, not to mention a slew of books, books and even a television series in the works for next fall that all feature the walking dead.

The Venture Bros. – Love Never Blows Up and Gets Killed – I've been somewhat of a casual observer of the Adult Swim line-up on The Cartoon Network over the last few years, but wouldn't call myself a fan of most Adult Swim shows. I'm not all that interested in their slew of series that seemed to be marketed to buzzed college dropouts with nothing better to do than watch goofy cartoons at 2:01 A.M. on a Monday morning. I guess I find the concept of Adult Swim (animated media and content for adults) more interesting than the results.

The Black Donnellys – The Best Drama on Television? If you've never seen The Black Donnellys, and the low Nielson Ratings the series receives on a weekly basis tells me that you're probably not watching, the series follows the four Donnelly brothers; Tommy, Jimmy, Kevin and Sean. These "Black Irish" brothers grew up in a rough New York City neighborhood and as children raised hell stealing whatever they could get their hands on. After a hit and run driver left brother Jimmy crippled, Tommy (Jonathan Tucker) vowed, and was able, in turning his life around.

Titillation at the Grindhouse! – Before DVDs, even before VHS, people had to go to movie theaters to see movies, even bad ones. Though popular movie theaters would show traditional films, there was a market for, shall we say, "untraditional" movies. Be it an ultra-violent gore-fest flick too bloody to run in a conventional theater or a sexy comedy featuring loads of bodacious cheerleader vixens and their shapely pom-poms. Today, these movies might premiere on DVD or late-night Cinemax, but 30 or more years ago, these movies could have premiered at the grindhouse.

The Best Television Series of the 1970s – Filmed and set in the 1970s, the series followed the exploits of British Intelligence agents known as "Sandbaggers" who acted as real life "James Bonds" minus the suave social skills, gadgets, gizmos and flashy tuxedos. Whereas Bond was shown constantly in motion around the globe, part of the Sandbagger job description included sitting behind a desk writing reports and shuffling paperwork.

David Fincher, A Career in the Shadows – You may not recognize the name David Fincher, but I can almost guarantee that you've seen at least one of the movies he's directed. Though Fincher started his career overseeing music videos in the late 1980s and early 1990s, many consider several of the feature films he’s directed since, me included, as modern-masterpieces.

Lost on the Decline? – I've been a big fan of the television series Lost ever since I saw the pilot episode of the show back in the summer of 2004. Lately though, this excitement has begun to be replaced with questions about the series. My main question? Where is Lost heading? I hate to admit that over the last few months I've found myself liking new episodes of Lost less and less.

Summer Movie Preview– As I began to write this column on movies due out next summer, I had no idea that just about every major film I was about to preview would be a sequel to a previous one. I can understand the tendency of movie studios to release sequels – they usually represent a guaranteed payday – but are TEN sequels in one summer too many? In 2007, have the movie studios gone” a sequel too far?”

Starship Troopers: A Primer– Over the last decade, I've taken a lot of flack for my unwavering admiration of the movie Starship Troopers. Most see this movie as little more than a mindless monster "shoot-'em-up," but I see, and have always seen, Starship Troopers as having deeper elements, not completely apparent upon first viewing.

The Best Movies of 2006 – I seriously considered listing 2006 as one of the most uninteresting and dull years at the cineplexes in recent memory. In a year when the four top-grossing movies this summer earned something like a combined total of $1.3 billion, there weren't too many movies that seemed to have artistically deserved this box office plunder.