Total Recall

Tuesday, Dec. 23 2014, 12:04 PM

Heading to the cineplex has grown into a Christmas Day tradition over the years, encouraged by a rising tide of December 25 releases that includes some of the more critically acclaimed films of the last few decades -- as well as some of the most infamous stinkers. In honor of the latter tradition, we've sorted through 30 years of Hollywood's Christmas gifts to filmgoers, and arranged a list of the releases that were pelted with the biggest lumps of critical coal. Can't make it to the theater this week? Here are 10 times when staying home for the holidays turned out to be a pretty good idea.

Wednesday, Dec. 17 2014, 03:50 PM

Though he's primarily known for playing guys who have a hard time doing anything right, Ben Stiller is one of the most successful talents in Hollywood -- a writer/director/actor whose occasional wanderings into critically Rotten territory haven't put a dent in his incredible bankability. Stiller's films have grossed more than $2 billion, a total he's poised to add to with Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb arriving in theaters this weekend, so we decided now would be the perfect time to take a look back at his critical highlights. (Spoiler alert: Envy will not be covered.) It's time for another round of Total Recall!

Wednesday, Dec. 17 2014, 11:46 AM

After billions in sales, hours of adventures, and more than a decade of work, Peter Jackson's double-trilogy adaptation of author J.R.R. Tolkien's classic Lord of the Rings and Hobbit books is finally concluded, and now that critics have weighed in on all six films, it's time to look back and see how The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies stacks up against its predecessors. With that in mind, we present an updated list of Jackson's Middle-earth saga that includes his most recent epic, fresh off of a $90 million debut in the US. What did you think of The Battle of the Five Armies, and how do you feel about its place on the list?

Thursday, Dec. 11 2014, 11:04 AM

No surprises here, folks -- other movies are coming out this week, but it's really all about The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and when it came time to figure out who would be the focus of our list, there was only one choice. Yes, we're talking about Peter Jackson, the director whose final(?) venture to Middle-earth is one of 2014's most eagerly awaited sequels -- and whose filmography is about so, so much more than hobbits and orcs. From gory comedies to vulgar puppets and beyond, Jackson has displayed one of the most artfully wandering spirits in Hollywood over the course of his career, and it's high time we took a look at the critical highlights. Get ready for Total Recall!

Wednesday, Dec. 10 2014, 04:20 PM

Sigourney Weaver's distinguished career includes three Oscar nominations, more than $2 billion in lifetime grosses, and roles in a pair of James Cameron-helmed sci-fi franchises -- not to mention an impressively eclectic array of films that runs the gamut from serious dramas to ribald comedies and back again. This weekend, she'll help Ridley Scott usher his biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings onto the big screen, so we decided to pay tribute by taking a fond look back at some of her brightest critical highlights. It's time for Total Recall!

Wednesday, Dec. 03 2014, 04:20 PM

Back in the days when there were fewer channels -- and a lot more variety shows -- TV was pretty much wall-to-wall Christmas specials in December, from singing and dancing and sketch comedy to animated kids and crickets and long-eared donkeys. Cut to the present day where, apart from a handful of specials centered around pop stars performing at the lighting of one Christmas tree or other, the major networks mostly spotlight the blessed foursome -- Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown, and the Grinch -- while relegating the TV of yore to DVD or basic cable. Here's a handful of gems from yesteryear that might make help your season bright.

Wednesday, Nov. 26 2014, 01:25 PM

Everyone has the day off work, there's a big bird on the table, and relatives you haven't seen in awhile are sitting around watching parades and football. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Now, obviously, Thanksgiving doesn't have quite the rich cinematic tradition that certain other holidays have enjoyed, but we've still watched the fourth Thursday in November unfold on the big screen enough times to be able to devote this week's Total Recall to our annual celebration of parades and good eats -- specifically, to some of the most noteworthy not-so-thankful Thanksgivings in movie history. So tuck in your napkins, wait for Sis to say grace, and let's all dig in!

Thursday, Nov. 20 2014, 03:54 AM

In the last five years, Jennifer Lawrence has gone from sitcom star to Oscar-winning thespian and integral component of two top-grossing film franchises -- not to mention the sort of celebrity whose goofy, down-to-earth persona makes her irresistible to meme makers and late-night talk show booking agents. She has a lot to celebrate, in other words, and with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 arriving in theaters this weekend, we decided now would be a perfect time to pay tribute to some of the brighter critical highlights from a filmography that?s only getting started. Watch your step, because it's time to Total Recall Jennifer Lawrence style!

Wednesday, Nov. 12 2014, 04:40 PM

Always an actor first and celebrity second, Jeff Daniels has appeared in scores of films over the last three decades and change without ever commanding a superstar level of attention -- but as even a cursory glance at his filmography makes clear, he has a marvelous knack for choosing projects, one that extends to his work on the stage (where he's earned a Tony nomination) and the small screen (where he won an Emmy for his work on The Newsroom). This weekend, Daniels reunites with his old pal Jim Carrey for the Dumb and Dumber sequel Dumb and Dumber To, and to celebrate, we've decided to turn our attention to his most critically beloved efforts. It's time for Total Recall!

Wednesday, Nov. 05 2014, 03:21 PM

Not so very long ago, Matthew McConaughey appeared doomed to join the Hollywood scrap heap of handsome guys who just don't have a reliable knack for picking the right script, but these days, it seems like everything he touches turns to cinematic gold -- and with a starring role in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar looming on this weekend's horizon, McConaughey's recent hot streak seems safe for at least another blockbuster. With that in mind, we decided to devote this week's list to a look back at his ever-more-impressive filmography, so settle in: all right, all right, all right, it's time for Total Recall!

The Simpsons: Season 26
Thursday, Oct. 30 2014, 04:11 PM

This month, The Simpsons aired its 25th "Treehouse of Horror" episode, marking 75 spooktacular shorts of Springfield's favorite dysfunctional family. See which Halloween segments are critics' favorites and why!

Thursday, Oct. 23 2014, 11:11 AM

Watch enough TV, and the programming landscape can start to feel a bit repetitive after a while; if you've seen a handful of sitcoms, soaps, procedurals, or reality shows, sometimes it's easy to assume you've seen them all. But this is not to say that every so often, network execs aren't capable of indulging the occasional flight of fancy. In fact, the dial is often littered with memorably idiosyncratic shows -- some of which we later look back on with befuddled bemusement and wonder what the people behind the scenes could have been thinking. This week, we raise a glass to those not-so-noble failures, so start practicing your most quizzical facial expressions -- it's time for Total Recall!

Wednesday, Oct. 15 2014, 04:15 PM

Today he's one of the most bankable movie stars in Hollywood, and one of the few actors audiences will pay to see no matter what sort of role he's playing ? whether it's action, drama, or comedy the script calls for, having Brad Pitt's name above the title is about as close as anyone can come to a guarantee for a hit film. Not so long ago, however, Pitt was just another good-looking dude with enough gumption to work his way into a steady stream of TV shows and bit parts in movies. He's come a long way, for sure, and to celebrate his latest starring role -- in David Ayer's Fury, opening this weekend -- we decided the time was right for a brand new Brad Pitt edition of Total Recall.

The Flash: Season 1
Thursday, Oct. 09 2014, 02:01 PM

The Flash raced onto TV last night, but viewers with long memories may recall that this isn't the DC speedster's first foray onto the small screen. John Wesley Shipp first donned the red-and-gold suit in 1990, but it was gone after a single season -- and remembering that first Flash in the pan got us thinking about other superhero who came and went, so we decided to dedicate this week's list to long-forgotten TV superheroes. Don those masks, readers -- it's time for Total Recall!

The Vampire Diaries: Season 6
Thursday, Oct. 02 2014, 02:36 PM

TV vampire fans suffered a painful loss in August, when HBO's True Blood aired its series finale after seven sudsy seasons of sharp-fanged melodrama. All is not lost, however; the CW's The Vampire Diaries begins its sixth season on October 2, and in honor of its return, we decided to dedicate this week's list to a look back at some of the small screen's most noteworthy nosferatus. It's time for Total Recall!

Wednesday, Sep. 24 2014, 03:20 PM

Over the course of his more than 30 years in show business, Denzel Washington has done pretty much everything -- he's played cops (good and bad), lawyers, reporters, educators, doctors, mobsters, and more, earning two Academy Awards and more than a billion dollars in box office grosses along the way. In this weekend's The Equalizer, Washington reunites with his old pal, director Antoine Fuqua, to deliver one more lethally effective variation on the timeless tale of a mysterious vigilante who brings the pain to a cadre of nasty Russian gangsters in order to protect one of their young victims (ChloŽ Grace Moretz), and we thought it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a fresh look back at his brightest critical highlights. It's time for Total Recall!

True Detective : Season 1
Thursday, Sep. 18 2014, 01:58 PM

It's hard to stand out on a crowded programming dial, and that's probably always been especially true for the stars of crime procedurals; often, making one's mark isn't as easy as simply lowering one's shades while Roger Daltrey screams on the soundtrack. In order to rise above the fray, detective shows sometimes resort to adding the odd wrinkle or two in order to get our attention -- and although this tactic isn't always successful, sometimes it really, really works. In honor of all those offbeat gumshoes, this week, we're devoting Total Recall to an appreciative look back at some of the quirkiest crime-solvers in TV history. Join us, won't you?

Thursday, Sep. 11 2014, 08:55 PM

The journey between arthouse and IMAX can be a treacherous trip for an actor, but Liam Neeson has navigated it more nimbly than most over the course of his lengthy career, booking major roles in Serious Movies (Schindler's List) while leaving room for horror (The Haunting), romance (Love Actually), and blockbuster franchises (The Phantom Menace, Batman Begins) -- not to mention a recent string of action thrillers that, with this weekend's Non-Stop, finds Mr. Neeson kicking bad-guy butt on a crowded transatlantic flight. What better way to celebrate his accomplishments than a look at his best-reviewed movies? Here's Total Recall!

Wednesday, Sep. 10 2014, 03:50 PM

If you were asked to name one actor capable of playing ex-cons, hitmen, and God, you'd be hard pressed to do any better than Morgan Freeman -- which is, probably not coincidentally, why he's played all those characters (among many others) over the course of his distinguished, nearly 50-year career. And even as he reaches the half-century mark as a professional actor, Freeman shows no signs of slowing down; in fact, this weekend's Dolphin Tale 2 is just one of an incredible six films he's slated to appear in this year. All of which explains why we were shocked and appalled to realize Mr. Freeman was overdue for the Total Recall treatment, and knew we needed to seize upon this opportunity to repent. Hey you guys, it's time for Total Recall!

Thursday, Sep. 04 2014, 03:07 PM

We're entering another TV season, which means dozens of optimistic new shows are lined up to make their premieres -- and unfortunately, it also means that most of those fresh additions will be gone by summer. To celebrate their stars' and creators' bravery in the face of all-but-insurmountable odds, we decided to dedicate this week's feature to a selection of programs who were sacrificed to the television gods after only a single airing, and came up with an eclectic list of overnight sensations culled from across several decades of abrupt failure. Don't change that dial -- it's time for Total Recall!


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