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    Movie Review: Despite Star Power, Hereafter Is Dead on Arrival

    Bryce Dallas Howard, Matt Damon, Hereafter Warner Bros.

    Review in a Hurry: Matt Damon stars in one-third of this multistory drama on grief and mortality. Directed by Clint Eastwood and penned by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen), Hereafter should have a lot more life, but instead heads mournfully into the white light. Stay away!

    The Bigger Picture: Hereafter raises high hopes with a spectacular opening: a recreation of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, during which French broadcast journalist Marie Lelay (the fetching Cécile de France) has a near-death experience. But nothing that follows the harrowing sequence has any impact. The rest of the pic, ironically enough, feels trapped underwater—a drifting series of languid scenes awash in cool blue tones.

    After her brush with the beyond, Marie—who we know is famous because she keeps glancing at her pic on BlackBerry billboards (shameless product-placement alert!)—has difficulty returning to her broadcasting job. So she takes time off to research and write a nonfiction book about the afterlife.

    Also looking for answers is London schoolboy Marcus (George and Frankie McLaren, neither very convincing), whose identical-twin brother is killed in an automobile accident. Devastated, the kid seeks out mystics who can communicate with the deceased, but finds only charlatans.

    The real deal, former psychic-for-hire George Lonegan (Damon), is a half-world away in San Francisco. Denying his "gift" and hoping for a "normal" life, George drives a forklift at the docks and takes cooking classes, where he meets potential girlfriend Melanie (an annoyingly giggle-prone Bryce Dallas Howard).

    Scripter Morgan and helmer Eastwood, who also provides the familiar jazzy score, weigh down the film with a sense of importance while actually saying surprisingly little about spirituality. The not-so-super supernatural storylines—a mish-mash of Resurrection, Babel and The Dead Zone—eventually intersect, but the convergence of these characters' lives plays less like kismet and more like the heavy hand of the writer moving game pieces into place.

    Hereafter takes an eternity to reach its inevitable conclusion but—without a stronger, steadier dramatic pulse—it flat lines long before.

    The 180—a Second Opinion: Hot to globetrot? Hereafter fills up your passport for the price of a movie ticket, jetting between Paris, London, San Fran and Maui.

    PHOTOS: Totally New Releases!

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