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Alex Cross

Alex Cross

(2012)
21 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

For those of you familiar with James Patterson novels, Alex Cross should ring a bell. He's the genius detective/psychologist that works with the FBI, profiling psychotically deranged killers that usually target women. He's like a black Sherlock Holmes of the 21st century, using his keen skills of deduction, his training as a profiler and his mental superiority to track down and catch dangerous criminals. However, this "Alex Cross," directed by Rob Cohen and starring Tyler Perry, isn't like that at all. In fact, this film is so far from what cinematic patrons were expecting that since it's release two weeks ago, it hasn't even reached budget.

Here we get a younger, heavier, not so smart, not so skilled Cross that lacks nearly any emotion other than anger and has a far less psychology driven enemy. There's more straight forward action and blind vengeance without the genius detective angle or the methodical thriller aspect that's been the lure to Patterson's novels and the previous two Alex Cross films. There's also a severe absence of human connection between the characters and the audience that ultimately makes the film uninteresting. Furthermore, the writers of the film decided to veer way off track from the novel and take some uncreative licenses of their own.

The cast is almost squandered as well. Mathew Fox - "Party of Five" and "Lost" - is the only actor that seems to fit his role and even he is virtually useless with his delivery of the character. It was a huge waste throwing John C. McGinley - Doctor Perry Cox from "Scrubs" - and international superstar Jean Reno - "Léon: The Professional " and "The Da Vinci Code" - into the picture because neither ever gets the chance to shine. The entire film places emphasis on Tyler Perry and truth be told, he's not that good of an actor, certainly not for a serious character such as this.

We've seen the character Alex Cross in films before. Back in 1997 with "Kiss the Girls" and again in 2001 with "Along Came a Spider." Both times Cross was played by Morgan Freeman and both films were far more successful. And there's a reason for that; Freeman's talent as an actor and years of experience on camera is exactly what the character calls for. Tyler Perry is simply wrong for this role. He should stick to what he does best; writing himself into dime a dozen comedies as a cross dressing elderly woman named Mabel Simmons, commonly known as Madea.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

(2012)
21 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Whether you were the popular kid in high school or the lonely outcast out of place from your fellow class-men, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" finds a way to connect with audience members of all kinds. This is an intelligent and witty film that's cleverly written and directed by Stephen Chbosky and based on his own novel of the same name. Chbosky, known best for his screenplay of the off-Broadway rock musical "RENT," does a phenomenal job capturing the wild emotions and adolescent hardships of misfitted teenagers growing up in white suburbia, most likely taking place in the 80's given the style of clothes and vehicles, as well as the abundant amount of mix tapes being passed around.

The cast here is brilliantly put together and beautifully acted by everyone involved, regardless of how large or small their part may be. The main character Charlie, played by Logan Lerman ("Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief"), is a lonely high school freshmen desperate to find friendship. His world is turned around when he meets seniors Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) who introduce and accept him into a close group of displaced youths. Watson, despite a little frigidness with her portrayal as an American teenager, is delightfully stunning. Accompanying this already talented young group of actors is Paul Rudd as Charlie's English teacher, who recognizes his talent for writing and encourages him to pursue a career.

Rudd, notwithstanding his relatively undersized role, is tremendously poignant and wonderfully spectacular as usual. Dylan McDermott got a little onscreen time as Charlie's father and has one of the funniest and perfectly delivered lines. Tom Savini makes an uncanny appearance as a shop teacher and surprisingly, no one lost so much as a finger. There's also a small cameo appearance by Joan Cusack... need I say more?

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" touches your heart on so many levels. It makes you remember the joys, and pains, of being a teenager in high school, as well as simply being human in the world we live in. For such a low budget indie film, they got the perfect cast to represent each character and such a touching and inspirational story that without a doubt will be a top contender for some very prestigious awards.

Taken 2

Taken 2

(2012)
21 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Here's the problem with sequels; the first is typically so good that Hollywood thinks they can simply repackage it and put a number at the end. When will they ever learn? Movie theater patrons want to see something fresh and new. They want to see the hero's from the last picture do something different in an equally entertaining way. This is not the case with "Taken 2."

Liam Neeson is back as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA field operative who killed 32 bad guys a couple years back in Paris while rescuing his kidnapped teenage daughter from sex slave traders. Now the family members of the dead are back for revenge. Headed up by Rade Serbedzija (best known as Boris "the Blade" in Guy Ritchie's "Snatch."), he and his Albanian brothers attempt a bit of snatching of their own. They go after not only Mills, but ex-wife Lenore - Famke Janssen - and daughter Kim - Maggie Grace - who go to Istanbul for a surprise visit. Their plan almost worked except for one simple truth; Neeson's character is the last person you'd ever want to kidnap. Considering his track record, these bad guys should have known better.

Co-written by Luc Besson, who peaked in the 90's with "Léon: The Professional" and "The Fifth Element." Nearly every other film he's touched since has been mediocre at best. The first "Taken" was good but nothing close to the aforementioned and he hasn't had an original idea that made any sense since then either. Director Olivier Megaton, who's worked with Besson more than a few times since the turn of the century, does a decent job capturing some of the same feelings the original "Taken" gave us. No one can really find fault in his direction since the action and acting met the expectations fans of the first one had.

All around the film felt rushed and uncoordinated. The script seemed too put together to be believable and some of the action was far past the realm of reality. This includes the car chase where Kim, who can't even pass a simple California driving test, can all of a sudden drive like a professional race car stunt driver as long as daddy is in the passenger seat shouting the same few lines over and over and shooting at the pursuing vehicles. I suggest skipping this till it's released on Blu-ray and then watching the special directors edition with the built in kill counter.

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania

(2012)
21 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Animated kid films are huge money makers for Hollywood. Kids want to see them, parents have to take them, and no matter how good or bad they are, a profit will be made. "Hotel Transylvania" is no exception, and regardless of what I, or any other critic says, you folks with children will most likely be seeing it. Director Genndy Tartakovsky ("Dexter's Laboratory," "The Powerpuff Girls" and "Star Wars: Clone Wars") puts his animated skills to use and along with a handful of successful comedic film and television writers, creates a Halloween holiday appropriate kids flick that if anything, will allow a few minutes of distracted silence.

The cast, being all voiced acted, did a respectable job. Adam Sandler plays Count Dracula, the loving, single parent vampire father raising his 118 year old daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) who wants nothing more than to venture out into the world. Dracula, who's built his hotel Transylvania for all the monsters to have a safe haven from the humans of the world, doesn't like the idea of his little girl leaving home and will do whatever he can to keep her protected. Sandler called in a few friends to help him out in this monster adventure; like Steve Buscemi as the Wolfman, Kevin James as Frankenstein, David Spade as the Invisible Man, Ceelo Green as the Mummy, Jon Lovitz as Quasimodo, and a few other SNL celebs to fill in a few of the other cartoon shoes.

Typically, anything with Sandler is either hit or miss (more misses than hits these days) but "Hotel Transylvania" is sort of both; being mildly entertaining and vaguely mind-numbing all at the same time. For kids under the age of 9, they'll be amused from the silly humor and funny animated monster characters. Adults will find a few hidden gems of comedy sporadically thrown throughout the story and it promotes good morals such as the tolerance of other people and their cultures.

For the majority of its 91 minutes, "Hotel Transylvania" does a good job filling that time. However, the hip-hop ending and rap ensemble with Sandler, Green and Gomez (sounds like a law firm) was inappropriate. It wasn't okay to encourage that style of music when I was that age, and it's still not suitable for young kids today. Plus with all this comedic talent, the film should have been a lot funnier than it turned out to be.

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Intel Hollywood Star Program (July 2012 - December 2012)
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