Palo Alto Weekly

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
2.5/4 He Named Me Malala (2015) Susan Tavernetti The many faces of Malala emerge: smart, wise beyond her years, loving, playful, funny, fearless and a fighter. At the same time, it's clear she's also an ordinary girl who has risen to accomplish the extraordinary. EDIT
Posted Oct 19, 2015
3/4 Million Dollar Arm (2014) Susan Tavernetti The art of the deal gives way to matters of the heart, giving viewers a game changer both charming and uplifting. EDIT
Posted Oct 10, 2015
3/4 Finding Vivian Maier (2013) Nick Veronin As the title of the film hints, Maloof's discovery is only half of the story -- and it's only half the fun. EDIT
Posted Oct 10, 2015
3/4 Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010) Susan Tavernetti If you're looking for a popcorn movie, producer-director Tsui has crafted an absurdist fantasy that might cure -- or spontaneously combust -- the summertime blues. But even escapist entertainment can have interesting angles. EDIT
Posted Oct 10, 2015
2.5/4 Lone Survivor (2013) Rachel Metz The unwillingness to "engage" in larger questions disconcertingly reduces a real-life tragedy to an action movie. EDIT
Posted Oct 10, 2015
3.5/4 Leviathan (2014) Susan Tavernetti Cinematographer Mikhail Krichman's stunning images complement the narrative. The cool gray dawns and barren landscapes express Kolya's despair and isolation. EDIT
Posted Aug 12, 2015
2/4 Irrational Man (2015) Susan Tavernetti Sometimes the 79-year-old filmmaker's practice of churning out a film every year results in a miss. EDIT
Posted Aug 12, 2015
2.5/4 White House Down (2013) Tyler Hanley While fun in a harmless, artificial sort of way -- like Pop Rocks or costume jewelry -- White House Down is little more than Die Hard at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2013
4/4 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) Tyler Hanley Smaug ignites the excitement missing from Jackson's sluggish first Hobbit flick, and the stunning visuals -- cinematography, costuming, set design, effects -- set it apart as one of the most impressive fantasy films ever made. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2013
3/4 Homefront (2013) Tyler Hanley This unlikely teaming of Jason Statham and James Franco proves to be a clever blend of action and acting. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2013
3/4 Pacific Rim (2013) Tyler Hanley Guillermo del Toro infuses this monstrous undertaking with just what it needs -- a little heart. EDIT
Posted Jul 15, 2013
3/4 Man of Steel (2013) Tyler Hanley DC still has much to learn from rival Marvel in the filmmaking realm, but Man of Steel at least offers hope. Hope, and a slight headache EDIT
Posted Jun 14, 2013
1/4 After Earth (2013) Tyler Hanley After Earth is the sort of picture the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang would salivate over. EDIT
Posted May 31, 2013
3/4 Iron Man 3 (2013) Tyler Hanley Despite a somewhat slow start and occasional plot missteps, Iron Man 3 ultimately soars thanks to its charismatic leading man and director Shane Black's man-on-wire balancing act of humor and action. EDIT
Posted May 5, 2013
2/4 The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013) Tyler Hanley Wonderstone is an enticing concept but lacks the laughs to back up its potential. EDIT
Posted Mar 16, 2013
3/4 Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) Tyler Hanley Director Bryan Singer, of The Usual Suspects and X-Men fame, infuses the film with just the right balance of action, romance and goofy fun. EDIT
Posted Mar 3, 2013
1.5/4 Bullet to the Head (2012) Tyler Hanley The title itself should deter viewers who favor smart cinema over mindless mayhem. EDIT
Posted Feb 1, 2013
3/4 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Tyler Hanley Fantasy fans hungry for a second breakfast of Tolkien-fueled fare can get their fill with this visually sumptuous feast. EDIT
Posted Dec 14, 2012
3.5/4 Argo (2012) Tyler Hanley A goofy sci-fi film dubbed Argo never got made in 1980. Fortunately for moviegoers, a brilliant, Oscar-worthy drama/thriller of the same name did get made in 2012. EDIT
Posted Oct 12, 2012
3/4 Pitch Perfect (2012) Tyler Hanley Some films make you weep; others make you squirm. Then there are those that simply make you smile. Pitch Perfect falls into the third category thanks to its strong script, charming cast and catchy soundtrack. EDIT
Posted Sep 28, 2012
3.5/4 Looper (2012) Tyler Hanley Looper is a thoughtful genre-bender that brings science-fiction, action and mystery together in one tight package. EDIT
Posted Sep 28, 2012
2/4 Trouble With the Curve (2012) Tyler Hanley Slogging through the first 75 minutes of Trouble with the Curve is akin to watching a scoreless baseball game that doesn't get exciting until the ninth inning. EDIT
Posted Sep 21, 2012
2.5/4 The Campaign (2012) Tyler Hanley The strong cast and topical plot help make for a hilarious first hour. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2012
3/4 The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Tyler Hanley One of Marvel Comics' popular titles in the 1980s was 'The Spectacular Spider-Man,' and that adjective describes this film. Both familiar and fresh, it's a spectacle with enough thrills and humor to satisfy most fans. EDIT
Posted Jul 6, 2012
3/4 People Like Us (2012) Tyler Hanley Solid writing and strong performances by leads Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks propel People Like Us from a maudlin drama to a memorable one. EDIT
Posted Jun 29, 2012
3.5/4 Brave (2012) Tyler Hanley There is a surprising beauty to Brave that transcends its visual excellence. This one is worth the risk. EDIT
Posted Jun 22, 2012
2/4 Rock of Ages (2012) Tyler Hanley Tom Cruise's magnetic performance almost makes the movie worth the price of admission. Almost. EDIT
Posted Jun 20, 2012
3/4 Men in Black 3 (2012) Tyler Hanley An eclectic cast and stellar visual effects coalesce to make Men in Black 3 a quintessential kernel of summer popcorn cinema. EDIT
Posted May 25, 2012
2/4 Dark Shadows (2012) Tyler Hanley Dark Shadows isn't an abomination, but it falls well short of the high expectations viewers anticipate from two of the industry's top talents. EDIT
Posted May 11, 2012
4/4 Marvel's the Avengers (2012) Tyler Hanley Adjectives used in some of Marvel Comics' iconic titles from the early 1960s through today -- amazing, fantastic, incredible -- also describe director Joss Whedon's superhero epic The Avengers. EDIT
Posted May 4, 2012
3/4 Wrath of the Titans (2012) Tyler Hanley While Wrath of the Titans may not be escapist fantasy entertainment at its finest, the film's strong cast and striking visuals make for a thrilling theatrical ride. EDIT
Posted Mar 30, 2012
3/4 John Carter (2012) Tyler Hanley Fortunately for viewers, the film is directed by Pixar sensation Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E), and the visual effects are, literally, out of this world. EDIT
Posted Mar 9, 2012
2.5/4 The Vow (2012) Tyler Hanley If the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore chuckler 50 First Dates had been recast as a romantic drama and produced by the Oprah Winfrey Network, The Vow might have been the result. EDIT
Posted Feb 10, 2012
2.5/4 The Woman in Black (2012) Tyler Hanley The movie bombards viewers with a host of scare tactics, from barely startling to borderline terrifying. And therein lies the problem. EDIT
Posted Feb 8, 2012
3.5/4 War Horse (2011) Tyler Hanley Expect War Horse, one of the year's best, to earn some accolades at the Academy Awards in February. Oscar always pays attention when Spielberg is in the saddle. EDIT
Posted Dec 23, 2011
3.5/4 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) Tyler Hanley Shadows is like the cinematic equivalent to a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats -- the adult in me likes the thought-provoking mystery, but the kid in me likes seeing Sherlock kick a thug in the sternum. EDIT
Posted Dec 16, 2011
3.5/4 Hugo (2011) Tyler Hanley Director Martin Scorsese's well-documented affection for all things cinema has never been more evident than in the enchanting and imaginative Hugo. EDIT
Posted Nov 29, 2011
2/4 J. Edgar (2011) Tyler Hanley Watching J. Edgar reminded this critic of sitting in a dimly lit history class after tossing back a tablespoon of NyQuil. EDIT
Posted Nov 10, 2011
2.5/4 Real Steel (2011) Tyler Hanley Strong production values and another charismatic performance by triple-threat talent Hugh Jackman help keep this heavy-metal offspring of Rocky and Transformers out of the cinematic junk heap. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2011
3.5/4 Moneyball (2011) Tyler Hanley The unlikely tandem of Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill helps drive what is arguably the most compelling and insightful baseball-themed film since Robert Redford launched a homerun into the stadium lights in The Natural. EDIT
Posted Sep 23, 2011
3/4 Contagion (2011) Tyler Hanley Contagion offers a healthy dose of smart filmmaking while most of Hollywood is serving up cinematic placebos. EDIT
Posted Sep 9, 2011
2.5/4 Cowboys & Aliens (2011) Tyler Hanley Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford make a terrific, no-nonsense tandem, but there is a certain absurdity to the whole affair that makes the picture seem a bit small in scope. EDIT
Posted Jul 29, 2011
4/4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) Tyler Hanley Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 caps the series with visual panache and emotional punch. It's a fitting finale to an unparalleled cinematic accomplishment. EDIT
Posted Jul 15, 2011
3/4 Horrible Bosses (2011) Tyler Hanley Horrible Bosses follows the precedent set by such earlier crime-gone-awry comedies as Ruthless People (1986), Throw Momma from the Train (1987) and Bottle Rocket (1996) with gut-busting gusto. EDIT
Posted Jul 8, 2011
2.5/4 Green Lantern (2011) Tyler Hanley Green Lantern is reminiscent of 2008's The Incredible Hulk, another superhero flick that boasted a strong cast but went overboard on visual stimuli. EDIT
Posted Jun 20, 2011
2.5/4 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) Tyler Hanley Just when you thought a Disney theme-park ride couldn't possibly spawn four feature-length films, here we go again. EDIT
Posted May 20, 2011
3.5/4 Bridesmaids (2011) Tyler Hanley Think of it as a cinematic bouquet -- catch it. EDIT
Posted May 13, 2011
1.5/4 Prom (2011) Tyler Hanley Perhaps the biggest problem with Prom is that there is nothing special about it. Everything feels familiar and rehashed, like eating leftovers that have lingered in the fridge and been picked at for days. EDIT
Posted Apr 29, 2011
1.5/4 Arthur (2011) Tyler Hanley The problem with Arthur is far more about concept than execution. EDIT
Posted Apr 8, 2011
3.5/4 Paul (2011) Tyler Hanley Paul is aimed primarily at comic-book fans and cosmos-loving adults who aren't easily offended. But the phenomenal cast, funny script and solid pacing help make Paul a stellar cinematic excursion for even the most down-to-earth humans. EDIT
Posted Mar 23, 2011