Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
"Imagine the elaborate plan: 'We use the sets left over from Red Riding Hood, add a candy house, throw in some aerial forest shots out of Twilight, keep it cheap. Steampunk it up, and have 'em wear leather, 'specially her. Lotsa cleavage.'"
Movie 43 (2013)
"An execrable waste cooked up by a hell's kitchen of directors and writers. It's death-of-laughter by committee. Its title? Because it's like one of those many asteroids out there--a dismal chunk of rock hurtling through an empty void, without purpose."
56 Up (2013)
Jackie Brown (1997)
"While Jackie Brown can be too languid, drifting like one of Melanie's highs, its wearied, over-40 lows reveal Tarantino as a director who, once upon a crime, could've mined complexity and depth from the cracks and crevices of American genre movies."
"Sniffing into the seams of England's multiculti capital, it's best at showing the grungy, hustling-and-bustling city as a place of slowly uncoiling despair. A hyper-charged, buzzy take on the London night-scene-and one man slipping under it, for no-good."
Gangster Squad (2013)
"Comes off as a hollow masquerade, play-acting at machismo for nearly two hours. Along with the furniture tossed in fits of rage, there are empty flourishes of neo-noir style, rote action sequences, and little danger for our hardboiled heroes."
Les Misérables (2012)
"So many close-ups, it seems better made for TV. Scene transitions are non-existent; the pace is relentless. All this over-the-top selling of emotion makes you look around before exiting-where's the gift shop, hawking more Hugo-not spinoffs and souvenirs?"
This is 40 (2012)
"Apatow's works often involve stand-up riffs on a subject, dropped into a movie. When stress, one of the ingredients of actual film comedy (not a late-night spot at Yuk Yuks), finally crackles along, the story of Pete and Debbie gets funnier and friskier."
"Whenever this movie suffers from lengthy prequel-itis and a weighty sense of expectations, it falls short. Still, for much of its 165 minutes, this epic has enough small moments and deft touches that it tugs you along with the power of a good story."
Playing for Keeps (2012)
"An own-goal shambles of bland characterization, comic shtick, exes-still-in-love clichés and lazy implausibilities, Playing For Keeps plays down to the ugliest American stereotype of soccer-dull to the point of brain-death."
Life of Pi (2012)
"Takes some time to find its flow. The CGI-tiger is the greatest marvel here-the intensity of its stare alone makes it the truest fiction of all. Religious platitudes remain fairly pat; the final allegory's overstated."
Rise of the Guardians (2012)
"There's no genuine discussion by anyone of tactics, ideology and ethics. Even arrogantly reframes the overthrow of Mubarak as an Anonymous-fuelled uprising. Aren't-we-f***in'-awesome! hubris bubbles out of the legion of remarkably inarticulate interviews."
Midnight's Children (2013)
"A series of pretty, disconnected scenes. At worst, it becomes D-movie Dickens, devolving into semi-broad, semi-quirky comedy, poorly sketched-out coincidence, and a bad X-Men plot. The book is drained of its allusive, allegorical and dramatic force."
Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
"Little depth or subtext here. It's tough to care about the fate of a generic, whitebread family and its blonde-in-distress living in an airless, gated-community Nevada. We've seen the creepy kid and freaked-out teens in countless fear-fests before."
Hotel Transylvania (2012)
"From the spooked start, the comic-rhythm dial's set to bulldozer. Whizzes through the superficially amusing conceit without actually taking much time to craft cunning comedy. Like a sugar-rushed Count Chocula-meets-Fawlty-Towers idea. "
"Disney-schmaltz, family-values hokum, and dopey clichés ('anything's possible,' 'different's OK,' etc.), syrup over the intriguing allegory. If only the movie had plunged deeper into its well of meaning and stopped jerking at our heartstrings."
The Watch (2012)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)
"Fossilized in a syrupy, always-stick-by-your-family-and-friends formula. Scrat provides the only constant humour. The surrealism and manic slapstick that animation can do so well are dwarfed by adventures with pirates and a clichéd teen-fitting-in story."
Do the Right Thing (1989)
"Captures a sense of black pride in the late '80s that's caught between essentialism and pop-culture commercialism. Trash-talking racism, distrust, and males' insistence on respect blaze the story along a path that LA would burn with its 1992 riots."
"Brutally empty. Vacant style (including way too many close-ups) is the rule. And there's the double ending: the first reflects just how violence-celebrating and death-enchanted this entire waste of 130 minutes is while the second is a happy-dopey cop-out."
We Have a Pope (2012)
"To its great credit, just before the credits, We Have A Pope slips away from its droll dramedy and offers a sharp anticlimax--a pointed stab at Catholicism now. The declaration of its title turns out to be the emptiest statement of all."
The Forgiveness of Blood (2012)
"Runs deepest as a vicious twist on the coming-of-age teen movie and when it offers up small moments within its near-mythic feud. Here, revenge is a dish served hot-blooded. It's the sharp slaps of betrayal and yearnings for the impossible that chill."
"A pet project padded out to feature-length, bromance-meets-romance predictability. The story beats are so obvious they seem tapped out on a telegraph. If you want to see a Boston bruin who was truly interesting, watch a documentary about Bobby Orr."
"Comes off like a series of forgettable History Channel recreations with some axeman versus vampire video game scenes tossed in. Editing is choppy; some transitions are sloppy. A parchment paper-thin conceit playing at being a feature-length movie."
"We're left looking at a mass cult-gathering of fans paying tribute to commercial idols. Individual stories are under-built after being initially overhyped. We're put in the bleachers to watch a field of American pop-cult dreams, and told to cheer."
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
"At best, Snow White and the Huntsman is pretty but forgettable. At worst, as with its occasionally anachronistic dialogue ('passed away,' 'OK') and its heroine's sadly undeveloped character, there's something rather hollow about these dark woods."
The Kid with a Bike (2012)
"The Dardennes smoothly shift one gear up in the film's coda, offering a sting of humility before a flash of quiet grace. Then we're left watching after one boy on his bike, stubbornly moving, moving, moving, a force to be reckoned with and respected."
Men in Black III (2012)
"Mainly rollicks along, keeping a nice balance between grotesque-alien playfulness and badass secret-agent seriousness. The story doesn't have as much fun with the near-alien weirdnesses of 1969 as it could have but the ending comes with a poignant twist."
Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
"Dialogue is banal, the camerawork's predictable, and any subtext's missing in all the action. The flick's irradiated with a general insensitivity to human tragedy. The place, though, is deeply eerie on its own."
"What we get, at best, are enthralling shots. At worst, most scenes seem out of a stilted chamber-drama, with backstory-burdened dialogue and stiff lines. A soporific languor often takes hold. Certain moments just come off as kitschy."
Mulholland Drive (2001)
"Leads us into our own strange need to untangle the spools of film and dream, fiction and truth, protective fantasy and traumatic reality. Lynch uses the twinkling lights and dazzling stars of superficial LA to warp us into a deeper, stranger surreality."
Dark Shadows (2012)
The Five-Year Engagement (2012)
"Gradually slips from awkward-funny moments to droll dawdling along. While overstaying its welcome by half-an-hour, it becomes clear this is another tale of bourgeois-white-girl-and-boy-who-can't-quite-commit. The charm wears off. "
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)
"Warning to all ye who enter: drollery, Pythonesque absurdity, and some smartly silly swashbuckling with history ahead. The dark corners of wooden ships and buildings ground the zaniness in Victorian atmosphere, so even modern jokes sail smoothly along."
Harold and Maude (1971)
"Unlike claustrophobically cute odd-couple movies, bottles some of the flavour of its time. Harold's fake suicides are a pale defiance and reflection of his cloistered, sapped life. The vital counterculture (Maude) helps Harold avoid the army."
The Three Stooges (2012)
"Not too heavy on the nyuks but a bit light on sustained yuks. As with the originals-devoid of character depth, social satire, or other subtext-there's not enough slap behind the schtick. Heartfelt humour-homage that ends up more like korny komic karaoke."
Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
"It looked back 2000 years for its comic content, but was a decade ahead in provoking Christian controversy. Yet how much hotter would the steaming Pilate of blasphemy-accusations have got if the Pythons had included their scripted mockeries of Zionism?"
The Gold Rush (1925)
"When it hit cinemas in the summer of 1925, the Berlin-premiere audience applauded Chaplin's 'dance of the dinner rolls' for so long that the film was rewound and replayed, while the BBC recorded 10 straight minutes of audience laughter at one screening."
Wrath of the Titans (2012)
"Near-epic in preposterousness. So, swamped by CGI spectacle, wonder: what came first, overblown super-sneezes of action or the tissue-thin plot to wrap them in? Forget gods getting it on with humans; here, non-story meets quasi-show, begets a demi-star."
21 Jump Street (2012)
"A floppy cross of high-school movie and buddy-cop comedy. Overdoses on flaccid penis and vagina 'jokes,' indulges in the ain't-this-cool?!ness of a cop-action flick, and passes out on the cliché-couch of bromance."
American Splendor (2003)
"Channels Pekar's vision of art and life as twinned struggles. One of cinema's great first-date sequences is here. We're splendidly shown how a lower-class nine-to-fiver has his own creative selves and richly expressive life."
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
"Exuberance over violence is mostly reined in. Coiled male panic and ricocheting accusations carry the action. At its best, at a time before Tarantino became all show, Reservoir Dogs reveals masculinity as a bloody, savage, two-faced performance."
Pulp Fiction (1994)
"Some of its strengths still impress. There's the trivial-turned-menacing, the gangster-gone-poppy, and the various sadnesses, poignancies, and tragic pointlessnesses that seep out of the best noirs."
Battle Royale (2000)
"Battle Royale's dystopia reflects a hyper-tech Japan still deeply concerned with social cohesion and the value-gaps between the generations. It's the disturbingly dark social frame, not its bloody canvas, that makes this a battle worth watching."
Dr Seuss' The Lorax (2012)
"And just to make all this Hollywoodization--this snappy, fizzy, poppy enviro-libation, sugar-coated for the ADD-kid generation--even more delicious to swallow, well, the look of it all seems oddly plastic and hollow."
Project X (2012)
"Laughs? Just one or two chuckles. Acting? Pretty flat. X stands for Xcuse to shrug off empty-spectacle moviemaking as awesome partying for Hollywood's coveted teen demographic. X marks that Xtremely cynical profiteering spot atop the box office."
"Usually avoids SNL skit-shtick and wacky-pothead parody, thanks to affectionate humour, sharp cuts and droll dialogue. Still, the story ultimately sides with the bland, loft-closeted couple and gets lazy with guy-gets-back-girl moments down the stretch."
The Secret World of Arrietty (2012)