Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
"A bombast-and-crisis megamovie, rocket-fuelled by gobbledygeek. The pummelling of plot turns and ratcheting of emotion-wrenches rarely relent. Forgets that we mere humans don't yet possess infinite patience for hyper-epic hokum."
St. Vincent (2014)
"St. Vincent has Murray play a Character--in big, heavily scripted letters glowing from a marquee in flickering, sickly neon on a scuzzy strip in a dingy block of town. Never has the courage to be as scruffy and unsentimental as its title character."
The Two Faces of January (2014)
"As complicity, solicitude and self-interest blur and shimmer in the sun, the Highsmith-ian triangle of danger, deceit and desire tightens into a noose. A crisp, elegant throwback to a classic era of character-driven thrillers."
"There's nary a whiff of interesting individuality to any of the spirit-haunted teens here. Scares are heavily stage-managed. 'Ouija' must rhyme with 'squeegee' because you'll want to scrub your mind clean of this splatting damn spot of a flick."
The Book of Life (2014)
"Best when it dives deep into Mexican myth and legend. But when, too often, it gets Hollywooden--sexy-girl figures, love-story moments, pop songs--this afterlife odyssey blends and blands out much of its foreign flavour."
Dracula Untold (2014)
"Vlad's a super-monster. The plot gets jittery. Vlad's relationship with his sweet, fair, lovely wife remains sweetly, fairly, lovingly vapid. And into the 15th-century setting is tossed the modern trope of the father who'll do anything for his family."
The Judge (2014)
"An almost-committed-incest! alarm nearly jolts proceedings into a movie weirdly watch-able for the wrong reason. But that story's vying with a handful of others--family grief, father-son estrangement, hometown return, courtroom showdown--for top billing."
"Clichéd lines and predictable encounters, always signalled by the score, mount. The flick becomes more and more like the Child's Play (Chucky) franchise meets Rosemary's Dolly meets late-period Mad Men."
The Boxtrolls (2014)
"A little thin storywise, but it more than makes up with its scintillating stop-motion style--textured and handcraft-like, it resembles a blend of claymation, Gilliamesque grotesquerie and pop-up book effects--and a strong cup of English eccentricity."
The Zero Theorem (2014)
"Gilliam is reworking past preoccupations and the romance is pretty stale, but the mix of elements in this pop-eyed, Euro-corporate world keeps the film engaging. What also sustains The Zero Theorem is its lingering on solitude."
The Rover (2014)
"The atmosphere usually gets airless as the action doesn't rove so much as drift and slow-zoom from moody moment to straggly episode. Any sharp-eyed insights into these godforsaken characters or their fallen society are few and far-between."
This Is Where I Leave You (2014)
"Pretends to put the fun in dysfunctional-family dramedy when it's not dispensing little bromides in hard-to-swallow bulls**t pablum form. It's all the most sanitized, safe, shticky way to show kidults' lives getting complicated. Sickeningly self-involved."
"Sorrentino wins all bets we'll buy his film's more existential, literary, romantic ambitions because of the sheer ecstasy--the great beauty--of his style. Style becomes substance--the cuts and angles create narrative, the screen's surface opens up depths."
When The Game Stands Tall (2014)
" Mixes bland dialogue, formulaic sports-movie plot points, and vague Christian teachings with some disturbingly naïve racial overtones. The story risks inducing concussion as it pounds and thumps its message home, over and over."
"Given to snarling fits of action, poetic ponderings, and idiosyncratic rumblings. No action-thriller but a dystopian, steampunky class parable for a world careening towards eco-disaster . . . and so the film goes, jarring or lulling or gloriously gonzo."
The November Man (2014)
"Codename: The Spy Who Staggered Up From The Dead. This dismal little affair slops into cynicism and uncaring brutality (to women). Clichés abound; hi-tech's whipped out whenever convenient; chases and showdowns seem genre-formulaic and rote."
"A stone-faced look at the most confounding, fascinating and controversial edifice still being built today, Stefan Haupt's documentary tours Antonio Gaudí's colossal cathedral but never offers the spirit or thrill this weird wonder deserves."
Swearnet: The Movie (2014)
"As the story devolves into disagreements, histrionics, and bloody punch-ups, the writing gets lazier and stupider--'You took a load in the face for me?' Ah, but what a load of unfunny, True North s**t we have to eyeball until this movie runs out of steam."
"No snappy lines; melodrama and vicious violence prevail. Less a pastiche of noir than a hyper-sado-macho parody. There's a scuzzy sense of pointlessness throughout as this noir caricature-slicked franchise goes through its animotions."
Let's Be Cops (2014)
"Pendulums between addle-brained frathouse cops-on-charade shtick and blandly sober let's-pretend-we're-not-in-some-bad-movieland-fantasy. You'll suffer from PTSD (Post-Terrible Story Disorder) and wish you'd worn a s**tproof vest."
The Expendables 3 (2014)
"An A-team of B-stars in a vanity project on steroids. The grand finale has all the air of the old boys' club on a giant playground that's just there to be shot up and fought in and tank-rolled over and bazooka-ed and blown up and 'copter-escaped from."
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
"This sequel masks the tragically personal--loss, grief, guilt--beneath sparking screwball romance. Swings a fine line between comic-book lightness and ever-approaching tragedy ... when time runs out, even for the most wise-cracking young hero."
"At least this comedy goes well beyond the bunch of creative revenge ploys that these next-door nemeses wreak on each other. Neighbors isn't straight-As, bring-down-the-house smart-funny, but it's no drop-out, sprawling, lame block party of a flick either."
"This reboot, for some un-godzilla-y reason, doesn't want to admit it's a creature-feature B-movie. Serious actors seriously try to make their running-down-a-corridor or obsession-with-a-contaminated-site or stares-at-a-monster very dramatic and believable"
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
"The period details and zeitgeist echoes--along with one bravura sequence--make this another entertaining entry, though this rebooted, revised and repopulated franchise is starting to see diminishing returns."
"Blessedly written by someone who's not Sandler--and it's almost passable, even palatable ... until the movie throws in vagina-size jokes. And passes off tomboys as weird non-men. And goes to "Africa.""
"Jolie's devilish best is smothered by a ploddingly safe movie insisting on vague goodness and badness, utterly redeeming a villain, and children being the very cutest-shmoopiest creatures in the world, oh-aren't-they-just?"
Jodorowsky's Dune (2014)
"This hypothetical hype-fest is alternately gonzo and tedious, though Jodorowsky can be an engaging self-promoter. There are some nice touches but it's all a bit much: too much of a muchness; too much hypo-hype; too much obsessing over what will never be."
"More story than testosterone, more time-jump-cuts than spacey filler, and more war-as-hell than war-as-cool. Leaves you pondering if we're 'masters of our fate' or just action-figures going through the emotions in some supreme player's idea of a war game."
The Fault In Our Stars (2014)
"Speaks truth to cancer, only to wade into the puddles of tears it jerks, then bathe there by hyper-eulogizing itself; it even reduces the Anne Frank house to a metaphor for Hazel's struggle and foreplay for the star-crossed lovers' loss of virginity. Ugh."
Sex Tape (2014)
"Blathers on like an unoriginal stand-up's meandering riff on 'Remember when you used to have sex all the time?' Pathetically prudish in its avoidance of frontal nudity and its finale, where Annie and Jay watch their tape, cringing and wincing all the way "
The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
"In its social-warfare parable, The Purge: Anarchy crassly reflects a recognizable 21st-century America--where could-be neighbours would rather be me-first, shooting-sprees are practically sanctioned by the state, and $ often comes before community."
Planes: Fire And Rescue (2014)
"This rotor movie's rote in places, too talky, and overstuffed with characters. Worst of all, one 'copter is a stereotypical Native; second-worst is Dipper, the main female character, a dippy, clingy, quasi-stalker type. "
When I Walk (2013)
"So much of this documentary is like a smattering of poor selfies and vlog entries--context-less, background-less and persistently, frustratingly short on details--that it remains less memorable than your average Hollywood disability biopic."
Jersey Boys (2014)
"At first, it looks so smart that it's easy to miss the emptiness behind the sharp design and snappy patter. In the end, it's a collection of scenes sticking to a simplistic adage: 'You can take the boys out of Jersey but not Jersey out of the boys.'"
Think Like a Man Too (2014)
"Pretends to be a post-racial couples' night gone wild, but it's chock-filled with retrograde gender stereotypes-when the camera's not ogling Vegas. Also offers lazy mocking of foreign accents and a homophobic 'joke' about a short-haired woman in a cell."
"From its stereotypes and endlessly quipping tinpot has-been-bro-heroes to its brazen product placement, pandering to the Chinese market, and incessant bombast, this flick's the nadir of 21st-century F/X blockbusters--no weight or wonder, just clanking off"
Me and You (2014)
"Despite Bertolucci's keen eye, Antinori's wolfish face, Falco's impressive work (watch her mischievous smile turn into a lean, hungry, vengeful stare in a bravura scene), and a few striking moments, a strong sense of going-through-the-motions persists."
"In this echo chamber of fame-for-fame's-sake, real life imitates reel life. There's a lurid, Felliniesque sheen to Garrone's floating camerawork; this is reality tweaked, dialed up to 10.1. And there's a cheeky, sideways satire of Roman Catholicism."
"Addicted to pat lines and clichéd scenes of individual heroism or sentimental nonsense, from the usual battle between alpha males to the Florence Nightingale stereotype of an often weepy but sweet and soothing woman (Keri Russell) cooing over a baby ape."
Earth to Echo (2014)
"A Spielbergian adventure flick targeted at tweens who tweet, this is an intermittently interesting tale about three kids who, mainly, discover that technology is even more really, really awesome and cool than any of us earthlings ever thought."
"Falls into that narrow crevice between cringe comedy and working-class drama. Then, deep underground, long out of the range of humour, it flails where no one can hear it, drawing scenes out into shapeless, squalid things. "
112 Weddings (2013)
"Deftly rips the veil off a day that mainstream culture still sappily proclaims is about 'soulmates' ... when we all know it's about one managed moment, full of statement and purpose and signifying an awful lot, in a life we can't possibly plan for."
Draft Day (2014)
"The longer this picks-pic runs its plays, the safer and more sanitized it seems, until this romanticizing ad is like a crazed safety, covering way more of the backfield (backroom drama, office romance, family drama, etc.) than ever becomes interesting."
Rio 2 (2014)
Nairobi Half Life (2012)