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We live in such a cynical age, I’m not sure if even toddlers in today’s world truly believe in unicorns, Santa Claus, and rainbows, but you have to hand it to director Lasse Hallström adapting W. Bruce Cameron’s novel about the journey of a sentient and philosophical dog over the course of several owners and lifetimes as if, especially in a live-action form, such notions are everyday occurrences. The workmanlike Swede wallows in sentimentality – see “An Unfinished Life,” “Dear John,” and “Safe Haven” or better yet, don’t – to the point of drowning and drags us all down with him like the captain of a sinking ship who believes we’re all duty-bound to go down with him.




Sometimes going to the movies is all about managing expectations. As a critic, it is easy to sink a film under the anchoring weight of buzz and critical anticipation or allow the experience to be mired by the assumption of mediocrity. Paul WS Anderson’s “Resident Evil” franchise falls squarely in that camp, but with the “Final Chapter” arriving on the heels of the latest mindless “Underworld” installment, I found myself seeking to appreciate the idea of a pair of action-oriented series with super-heroic female leads. And there’s the added bonus that “Resident Evil” understands (and plays to) its videogame roots with a much-needed injection of humor in key moments. Milla Jovovich as the apocalyptic heroine Alice never winks at us, but she’s got the deadpan Schwarzenegger vibe down pat; enough to smell what’s cooking here and not wince when the concoction, six movies in, loses that last ounce of freshness.