unicornofbalinor's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)

Review coming soon!

Tangled
Tangled(2010)
½

I know, I know, sucker for Disney. Especially fairy tale musicals. After 5 viewings, I figured it's about time to write something down about why I would possibly spend so much time in a theatre with such dismal sound and video quality. The short answer is characters + music + plot. It's quite appropriate that Disney's 50th animated film contains so many elements of other classics like The Little Mermaid (young, naive maiden and the sassy villainess in black), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the forbidden "road trip" and overprotective parental figure plus the dashingly handsome rogue), and even Beauty and the Beast (seriously - magic glowing flower, amirite?). It gives the characters a familiar feel while throwing them a more modern, snappy script and some fabulous voice actors. (Shout out to Zachary Levi - the man can sing! Who knew?) Same with the plot - some bits seem almost recycled, but tastefully so. And the music. /sigh Alan Menken can do no wrong. Seriously. After seeing it just once, I had "I See the Light" stuck in my head for days. It's all genius, especially the lively, jig-like dance, and never fails to get me emotionally swept up in the moment. And the visuals aren't too shabby either! Rapunzel's hair looks incredible - major kudos there - and the floating lanterns rising above the city never fails to give me chills. So. It's awesome. End of story.

Serenity
Serenity(2005)
½

WHOA. That's some ride. I had the pleasure of watching the series post-run (tHANx da interNetz) so the follow-up was, to my delight, not only an excellent continuation of the story, but also wilder, darker, faster, and more emotionally gripping. Sure, we've had characters in peril in the past, but in this film, every single character is brought to the brink of death... and let's just say some don't return from it. And to see the void through their eyes is both exhilerating and terrifying. The cast is still superb, but Fillion is at his finest. None of the one-liners fall flat, not a single line is out of place, and every shot is cooler than the last. I think it's a fabulous film, but I picked off a half star just for those who had never seen the series. Without all that backstory, you really have no emotional investment in them, which is really what makes this work. So the bottom line is: watch the TV show. It's awesome. Srsly.

Due Date
Due Date(2010)
½

Another could-have-been-awesome movie I saw that weekend (the other being Megamind). I adore RDJ, don't get me wrong, but it's hard to be awesome when the film sort of coasts along and character development is shoddy. All credit due to Galifinakas (phewf what a name) for pulling out all the stops for the bathroom scene - it hit suprisingly hard, in contrast to most of the film, which sort of coasts along. It could be the editing, but there's no real sense of urgency until the last 20 minutes. Regardless, it's lovely to see RDJ and miss Monaghan together again - reminds me of better times. And better comedies.

Megamind
Megamind(2010)
½

A bit of a disappointment, to be honest. As some may know, the title role (once Ubermind) was originally played by Robert Downey, Jr. And I couldn't help but think that it would have been better that way. This is Ferrell at his laziest, unfortunately, relying on his "screechy" voice for humour rather than digging into the sarcastic bits. Not to mention that it's not particuarly well-written. That's the problem - nothing's really well done, but nothing's exceedingly horrible either. Just makes for a bleh kind of experience.

The Trotsky
The Trotsky(2010)

Not usually laugh-out-loud funny but thoroughly entertaining all the same, mostly due to Baruchel and his spot-on portrayal of a young (slightly neurotic) Bronstein. Everything from the bowed shoulders to the stiff, awkward gait to the effortlessly flowery speech is fabulous to watch. The only real issue I had is that the film tends to coast along and the stakes are never really raised until the last half hour or so. There's plenty of historical jokes and nods to be had (if you've studied your modern history recently), which is all very well and clever and funny... but this would never work if you didn't root for our idealistic protagonist. (Can I plug Baruchel again?) Having a whole film rest on the likeability of the main character doesn't sit terribly well with me, but the script is well-written enough so that it never feels too precarious or self-aware. The quirky charm of this film won me over - Netflix or Zip this one!

You Again
You Again(2010)

With only 1 or 2 solid laughs to be had, it really isn't worth your time. Everything about it, from the cookie-cutter characters to the DOA script, is predictable. Trying to add the mommy/daddy issues doesn't add depth, it merely makes them seem even *more* petty. And trust me, the drama is petty. As in high school petty. How ironic. I can't believe I missed out on Easy A for this.

The Doctor
The Doctor(1991)

Hurt. Nuff said. He's simply brilliant here, perfectly cast and at the top of his game. Which is a good thing, seeing as he's pretty much carrying the whole film on his own. While the film does border on the melodramatic, some moments really stuck with me. Our entire med class watched this together and the immediacy really hit us hard. It's believable. You can see yourself falling into those habits of negligence or over-working yourself. All I can say is that if you're in a health-related field, this is pretty much required viewing. Thanks, Will. :)

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

To be brutally honest... I just didn't get it. I was thoroughly entertained at all times, but I was pretty damn confused through the whole thing. Who is this guy? Who's the good guy? What's the point of the film? If you can drop those questions in the first 20 minutes or so, you're set for a riduclous, over-the-top riot. Plus Val Kilmer's in it. Strictly P.S. Seriously, though, Cage is doing it right - the guy's growing on me, what can I say? He's getting close to redeeming himself for Ghost Rider...

Date Night
Date Night(2010)

While the chemistry never worked for me and many gags and character development moments were overly drawn-out, I was usually entertained. In fact, some bits were a riot - mostly on the part of Ms. Fey, but Carell throws in some great chuckles as well. They work well together, but not as well as you might think. The real star of the film, however, is Smoove. He's the one I will remember years from now, screaming incoherently and consequently stealing each and every scene he's in.

Just Buried
Just Buried(2007)

I was disappointed to see so many critics pan this one as overly quirky or gruesome. For once, dear friends of the press, I disagree. While the first 15 or so minutes were dull, to be sure, the pacing picked up (as did the body count) after that. The casting was simply fabulous on all counts, each adding that little dose of "WTF?" to the mood. Not only that, but the plot managed to keep me guessing while keeping me entertained with the various ways you can cover up murder for the sake of a paycheck. Yup. It's morbid. But damn, does that make it charming.

Take the Lead

Points for style and Banderas's classic charm, but definitely lacking in most of the supporting cast and the script. While neither of the latter two are exceptionally bad, neither are memorable in the slightest. The choreography is great when it's not trying too hard (i.e. the last number), which also carries over to the plot. There's only so many life lessons and morals I can learn from ballroom, pretty as it is. Cure cancer it will not.

The Informant!

Entirely different from what I expected. I can't even recall what I *did* expect. What I *got* was a quirky film in that weird twilight zone between comedy and drama. Which worked wonderfully. However, the plot fell victim to the same twilight zone somewhere in the middle. Once it lost its flow, it lost my interest.

Shutter Island

The atmosphere was just right, the acting spot-on, the script snappy... just a touch too predictable.

The Departed
The Departed(2006)

Stellar all around. The cast is the real draw, obviously, and each one gives an absolutely top-notch performance. I was especially impressed by the leads (DiCaprio, Nicholson, Damon, and Wahlberg) and the way they found the tension in every breath, every word, and every silent moment. It makes you hold your breath and lean forward in your seat, let me tell ya. Of course, that makes the payoff moments all the more effective. And boy, if the cast wasn't enough, the direction was also a treat. I can't say enough about it - there's a reason this won that Golden Boy.

The Karate Kid

With so many classic lines and moments, who *wouldn't* love it?

Fanboys
Fanboys(2008)
½

For somebody who's very familiar with all of the classic Star Wars and Star Trek moments, it could be highly entertaining. But I can understand how frustrating it would be to someone who knows nothing. Not only that, but the plot was stretched pretty thin with absolutely no surprises. The cast did a fair job, though the meaty bits in the script were lacking and consequently there wasn't much for them to work with. Being a geek is a prereq to watching this one, folks.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

I'm torn. This might just be the best of the Toy Story films, as much as I loved the first. That Disney magic is in perfect balance with real emotional crises and issues. In fact, the dark or gut-wrenching bits are just as enthralling and entertaining as the light-hearted humour that comes from a movie about toys. I won't say anything else, only that this struck a chord with me and will be in my hot little hands as soon as it's out on DVD.

Eat Pray Love

Pure fluff, plain and simple. Oh, it appears as though it touches on deeper issues and character flaws... but we know what it's really about. Mouth-watering food, incredible scenery, and hot guys. There's nothing else that really holds this together - it just seems like a group of somewhat unrelated (though often entertaining) stories, each designed for a specific purpose. This one is where you learn about drifting from a loved one. This one is where you learn about letting go. This one is where you learn about forgiving yourself. Everything seemed to have a lesson to be learned, but those aren't the moments that really work. It's the happy coincidences, fresh love, and even fresher food that gets our attention. There just wasn't enough of it.

Dark City
Dark City(1998)
½

Sci-fi at its trippiest. A lot of the characters seem a bit too over-the-top to be entirely believable, but it actually doesn't make it less enjoyable. In fact, that's almost the cult-ish sort of appeal it has. There are no big surprises here thanks to an unneccesary intro and a slow, easing-into of the plot. Still, if you can find it, it's worth a look.

Youth in Revolt

Definitely not what I expected. While I struggled with the essentially "random" point the film was trying to make, Cera was busy being awesome as Francois, definitely the best addition to the film. Other than that, everything was a touch too convoluted for me, right down to the seemingly neverending back-and-forth between a lad and his miss. Still, I laughed quite often - enough for me to hesitatingly recommend it to anyone looking for some light-hearted fare.

Valentine's Day

It wasn't much of a film, so I don't have much of an opinion. In fact, there was nothing really memorable about it except that it was exactly what I expected. A sometimes-funny jumble of plotlines and romances lacking a single tone or theme. So prepare to be underwhelmed.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
½

What I thought would be a meandering into kiddie mythology territory actually turned into an exciting (yet kid-friendly) adventure. This was largely due to the A-list help (in the forms of Thurman and a slightly miscast Brosnan) and a killer set of special effects. Surprisingly enjoyable!

She's Out of My League
½

There are some legitimately funny moments here, but they were too few to balance out the predictable plot. Baurchel finds himself in another pigeon-hole character, but plays it off with that likable, geeky smile that usually charms your pants off. Unfortunately, his lady co-star had little to work with - and little to work it with. Oh, the lost rom-com genre.

The Bounty Hunter
½

Yawn. The chemistry wasn't there, the plot was threadbare, the laughs were few, and (worst of all) it was too long. Aniston contributes yet another middling comedy.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)

*Way* too much fun. And completely badass. The violence, while somewhat over-the-top, is a big part of that. I mean, when was the last time you saw a 10 year old wielding dual knives? Even Cage busts out a can of butt-whooping. With a wicked villain, nearly-super hero, and a whole line of outstanding supporting roles, this one's not to be missed.

The Losers
The Losers(2010)

Loud, overbearing, and essentially boring. It follows the standard vets-come-back-to-play routine with a Mission: Impossible sort of flavour. Plus some extra melodrama. The action sequences are fine, but I need a bit more from a film this long.

Robin Hood
Robin Hood(2010)
½

A cool, shiny, historic action-drama. Russell Crowe's in it. So is Cate Blanchett. They're both great. But the plot feels a bit like the last few sentences - disjointed. It's a series of before-and-afters - winning over the lady, being exiled, having an epiphany... you get the idea. Average fare.

The Karate Kid

Disclaimer: I saw this months ago. So whatever opinion you see here is entirely from a vague, fuzzy memory. That said, I liked this nearly as much as the original. While lacking in that single thread that connects the show start to finish, the various threads that get you there are (generally) well-written and honest. Of special note is Jackie Chan, who far surpassed my expectations and became an "actor" in my eyes. Kudos, sir. As well, our young hero also held his own very well. One can't help but sympathize with him as he's having the snot kicked out of him. The highlight is probably the stunt work, which was flawlessly executed. I'd recommend seeing the original first, but still get this one on your list.

Despicable Me
½

It's hard to rate a movie you don't have a strong opinion on. Especially one that you actually enjoyed. While Despicable Me follows the standard kids' film song and dance, it throws in enough humour and plot twists to make it a fun ride. Other than that... I have absolutely nothing constructive to say. So go see it. You'll like it.

Inception
Inception(2010)
½

After all the hype and build-up, it couldn't quite live up to the "mind-bending," "super trippy" film I was expecting. It's really not that mind-bending. But DAMN, is it cool. DiCaprio delivers once again - in fact, every actor gave exceptional performances (special kudos to Watanabe for having to die through the whole thing). Never mind the stellar direction. And I disagree with those who call it a "pointless" ending. I actually found it fairly profound. So much so that my dad actually insisted that it must have been based on a novel - another large nod to Mr. Nolan's talent. To use a cliche, a "must-see."

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

My newest Disney infatuation. Why I can't really explain, except that it must be some wonderful combination of honest humour and awesome special effects. Because it certainly couldn't be the dry, drawn-out exposition or the contrived romances (especially that between Bathlazaar and his love interest). I must confess some of my interest stems from a small crush on Jay Baurchel, whom I applaud for another solid (if standard) performance. Even Cage, who is hardly one of my favorites, delivers in those clever moments scattered throughout the film. It appealed to my geek self in that it brought back the feelings of old adventure-style Disney films of the Renaissance. What can I say? Disney addict through and through.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

2 words: SENSORY OVERLOAD. I would love to give this 5 stars, I really would, but I can hardly remember a damn thing about it. What I do remember is a plethora of sounds and colours wrapped up in a snappy script and cool special effects. I just can't pull the particulars or the message out of it. But I do recall quite enjoying it. If that's unhelpful enough for you.

The Wolfman
The Wolfman(2010)

*Nearly* there. The special effects were almost right (except for the masks - ugh), the story was almost interesting, the characters nearly realized, the ending almost gripping... but a whole lot of "nearly"s turns this viewer off. You stop holding out for what you're hoping for - you essentially give up on the characters. And the instant you stop caring, the magic is gone. Not to say there aren't some really cool, creepy moments, but the drawn-out, dull bits tend to drag. An excellent cast nearly utilized properly.

Legion
Legion(2010)
½

For all that action, it's rather a large snoozle. The ladies run with arms over their heads, the dudes fire big guns at zombies, and our hero makes the ultimate sacrifice. Yawn. And yeah, they're zombies. Don't be fooled by the long-winded exposition on how they're posessed by angels to be the agents of blah blah blah... They. Are. Zombies. The non-zombie bits felt too much like the end of The Terminator to be fresh. Eh. Get Zombieland instead if you're feeling like zombie-fests.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
½

Forgettable but fun. The sense of urgency was missing here, and that's what it really needed to keep your attention and your loyalty. Most roles seemed rather miscast, with the large exceptions of Kingsley and a nearly-unrecognizable Molina. Not much else to tell - without the attachment to the characters, it's an enjoyable, but emotionally dead film.

Funny Girl
Funny Girl(1968)

It's hard to review such a classic film when it's nothing like what you expected. I went in with dreams of a music-laced romp into the wild world of theatre, comedy, and romance. And I was right. Until the intermission. Then things got quite a bit darker and somewhat flatter. The enchanting humour and joy was switched abruptly for a more mature feel, for lack of a better word. It's not better or worse, per say, but much different to the point of it being slightly jarring. That being said, the wonderful Mrs. Streisand was the one thing that held it all together. Her voice is stunning and her comedic timing nothing short of genius. She has that magic factor that not only makes her Oscar well-deserved but *also*, ladies and gents, what makes this a classic.

Shrek Forever After

After a great start, a fun sequel, and a completely unfunny third installment, the last Shrek-y chapter closes with a shrug. While not as horrendous as Shrek the Third, it still feels stale and tired this time around. With a villain that is neither dangerous nor funny and a somewhat recycled script, it was never going to be great, but there were some honest, big laughs to be had. Fiona's reimagined warrior persona works the best of all of them, though the Garfield-like Puss is also quite amusing. The kids will enjoy and adults won't mind - but I'm sorry I couldn't gush more.

Soapdish
Soapdish(1991)

Amusing, in a chuckle-chuckle sort of way. That being said, I wasn't expecting a high-brow comedy, but hey. It's a Downey movie I've never seen and therefore a little treasure. RDJ is wonderful, as usual, and Goldberg matches his character beautifully. On the flip side, Field's manic leading lady errs on the wrong side of caricature and therefore makes her immediately unlikable. The plot twists are probably the best bits - soap opera indeed.

Cabaret
Cabaret(1972)

A great film, without a doubt, but one that I felt went well over my head once in a while. The musical numbers are an absolute smash - the irreverence and grittiness matched with a political undertone are simply fabulous. However, some of the more "artsy" bits, if I may, simply felt too hands-off and self-righteous for me to understand and identify with. The highlight of the film award is a tie between Minnelli's and Grey's performances. It's easy to write one (or both) off as melodramatic and camp, but there's a darkness to both that's anything but camp. Bravo!

Paranormal Activity
½

Here I was thinking I'd never fall for a film like this. Needless to say, I slept with the lights on for a night or two afterwards. Which isn't exactly comforting, if you've seen the film. Every scene is deliciously ripe with fear, even the first few. I don't want to give too much away, but some of the choices made in depicting the demon were downright disturbing. In a good way. And the ending... who could forget those last few frames? Even watching with a friend in the middle of the day, we were both screaming like pre-pubescent boys playing Halo. If you haven't seen it by now, DO, but don't watch it alone...

Fantastic Mr. Fox
½

*Very* funny. The cast is the real draw here, at least for me - all of the performances are top-notch (and dare I say flawless?). The visuals are also absolutely stunning, with a rich yet familiar style. I was expecting a more paint-by-numbers kids' movie, but the plot was surprisingly satisfying for someone as critical as myself. I don't have much more to add except that this is a wonderful film anybody could enjoy.

A Serious Man

There's not much for me to dissect, honestly. Everything was great. Scout's honor. I just... didn't get it. I suppose I was waiting for that ha-ha funny, rather than the "oh, that's clever" funny. So you could say this isn't a comedy in the conventional sense of the word. Black comedy, yes. But it is often genuinely funny without resorting to patronizing the audience. So watch it, definitely - just be prepared for a weird ride.

Jacob's Ladder
½

This is about as trippy as it gets. The audience is constantly treading that very thin line between fiction and reality - here, to great effect. The imagery is also stellar, though the plot was a little disappointing for my taste. It's definitely a conscious decision to steer clear of precise endings and beginnings, but it's not my style. Stlll, kudos to the solid cast for bringing a concrete feel to a pseudo-supernatural thriller.

Rain Man
Rain Man(1988)

Hoffman ftw. That pretty much sums it up. Seriously, though, his performance is absolutely wonderful to watch - every tiny detail is there right down to the hauntingly vacant eyes. Cruise... well, he's not exactly playing against type. Still fine, though. I don't have much else to comment on, since this is pretty much an actor's film, but I did appreciate the scenery and the sense of newness and joy that Raymond experiences with each new vista. It usually steers clear of any melodrama or cliche, and a few moments really had me properly choked. Well worth watching.

How to Train Your Dragon
½

Easily one of my new favorite kids' movies. The comedy is never overplayed, the drama never erring to the melo- (with one exception), and the cast is absolutely stellar. Kudos to Baruchel, I'm really rooting for my fellow Canuck here. But the real draw for me was the visuals. As I say to everyone who will listen, the flying sequences here are the reason 3D was invented. I got full-body goosebumps more than once. What I thought would be a predictable, paint-by-numbers lecture on the importance of "staying true to yourself," I instead got a well-thought-out, well-executed, entertaining flick.

Alice in Wonderland

Fun, but this version has lost all of the charm and childlike appeal of the original. I even wasn't quite convinced by Depp. [dodges vegetables] Bonham Carter and Hathaway were fabulous, though I could have done with about 3 more hours of Rickman as the caterpillar. ;) The direction is fine, but it feels like Burton is straining his style in order to show off the 3D elements. As well, it was hard for me to get emotionally invested in this Alice - Wasikowska is very pretty, but, again, I wasn't convinced. Everything seemed... well, an act. Ah well. Next time.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon
½

Yikes. Marginally better than Twilight. Which isn't that hard. I had a diffiult time paying attention to the marvellous Italian scenery when the two leads are just as stony and flat as they were in the first installment. I can't count how many times I rolled my eyes at a lame line or a jizz-in-my-pants moment. Probably just as many times as when my eyebrows shot up - they never seemed to miss an opportunity to get Lautner half-naked. Anyway. Avoid, if possible. Or, like me, watch it for the pure melodrama. Helps remind me of what makes films great. Or awful.

American History X

I don't think I have anything negative to say. Seriously, nothing. As far as I'm concerned, this film is untouchable simply due to the fact that this is a testament to Norton's skill. What a superb performance. Furlong was also excellent, but this is Norton's vessel, make no mistake. You might think that, since the acting is top-notch, the direction or script is given little notice. Not so. It's as thought-provoking as it is heartbreaking and as tragic as it is disturbing. Bring a hanky and something to hide behind.

Inglourious Basterds
½

I *almost* bought it. I *almost* bought Pitt's crazy schtick, I *almost* bought the tongue-in-cheek disregard for history, the chunky episode-style, the Bear Jew... almost. The only thing that kept me engrossed was Waltz. God bless that actor. Every scene, he consistently oozed with self-importance and a wicked sense of humour. Massive kudos. The direction was fun to watch, but it mostly existed to serve the all-encompassing power of ultra-violence. In short, you MUST see Waltz kill this, if nothing else. (Pardon the pun.)

The Hurt Locker

What a powerhouse of intensity! It never lets up once, it never gives into cliche, and it never lets us out of its grip. For that feat, I'd have to mostly give credit to Bigelow - she finds those shots and vantage points that create monsters out of shadows and dangers out of wandering eyes, bringing us closer to the everyday fear for survival found in any military man. Speaking of which, Renner *nails* this. We hate his arrogance, we love his compassion, and we identify with his weakness. This film pulled me in, not with slam-bang and glitz ala Avatar, but with the humanity of its characters and the hell they wade through. (P.S. This also contains one of my favorite cameo payoffs ever.) Here's hoping they bring home the little gold man.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

A fascinating and gut-wrenching peek inside the mind of a man entombed in his own body. Amalric is wonderful, as is the supporting cast (with maybe one exception). Visually, it's quite a beautiful piece, with major kudos to the lighting department. I would have liked to see the script go even deeper with our protagonist, but I suppose this film is mostly about the artist and not the man. Still, worth watching if you can get your hands on it.

The Gold Rush
½

One of my favorite Chaplin films to date, (so far) second only to The Kid. I mean, who can resist the dance of the rolls? Or the chicken suit? Or the heartbreak of a New Years alone? Georgia Hale is tremendous, a match even to our Charlie, as the foxy leading lady. The visuals are also very impressive for the time - I dare you to try and find any wires. This is definitely not to be missed.

Whip It
Whip It(2009)

To be fair, I watched this on a plane, half-sleeping through some of it. But anyway. Yeah. So the review. Ms. Page is bang-on, once again, though the character was disappointingly similar to her iconic role in Juno. The supporting cast is fair, though mostly seem like filler. The plot is also fairly predictable - nice girl gets into nasty sport, mommy and daddy don't approve, her nice stuff conflicts with the nasty stuff and she's forced to decide... blah blah blah. Been done, right? Kudos to Barrymore for some solid direction though, the visuals really pop and the action seems very immediate and adreneline-pumped.

The Circus
The Circus(1928)

The definition of a "good-er", as far as I'm concerned. Great character work, and the Tramp's first slips and trips are genius. The storyline tends to drag a bit near the end, but the finale is wonderfully poignant and realistic.

Twilight
Twilight(2008)
½

As I expected, a rather ridiculous film. I was completely prepared for a stupid-fest, so I think I registered suprise when I found the plot was fairly decent. There! Now we've got that out of the way, I'll continue with my bashing. The leads sucked. And I mean *really* sucked. They're just as snigger-worhty as I expected, especially Pattinson and his jizzed-in-my-pants moment. Major LOLZ. Anyway, the visuals were also pretty sloppy (sparkliness with matching music, anyone?) thanks to a tiny budget and the script was pretty much garbage. "Say it... SAY it...!" "You're a CREEPER. Oh, and a vampire. But I guess that makes you sexy. Yeah." Consider this my bitch-slap to the Twi-hards who think this is the be-all and end-all of film. To them, I prescribe Citizen Kane or Moon twice daily until symptoms subside. Call me in the morning.

Moon
Moon(2009)
½

Thoroughly trippy yet philosophically intriguing. What defines our humanity? What defines our identity as individuals? How do we cope with loneliness and what are the consequences of our coping mechanisms? It's all there, in all its meaty glory. Major kudos to Rockwell for holding up the entire film himself - dare I say twice? And Spacey makes for a perfect computer, as it turns out. The visuals are very interesting and complement the plot beautifully. That being said, the bleakness and barrenness can get a little tiring at times - the environment evokes absolutely nothing, so you feel absolutely nothing for a while. I get the point, but it was such a departure from the emotionally-charged, desperate Rockwell that it was a little distracting. Anyway, if you can find this film somewhere, grab it.

Sherlock Holmes

Not outstanding, but very entertaining. An A++ for Mr. Downey, as per usual, for his slick yet conflicted Holmes. The action was actually pretty good... except when it wasn't, of course. Perfect example: What should have been a creative, 4-minute tussle between our heroes and 3 baddies turned into (what felt like) a half-hour dissection of all the ways you can use a hammer and a ship. Still, the film benefits from a smart script (with a few exceptions) and an interesting plot you can't fully predict. In essence: It's *almost* there. *Almost* great. Hopefully, a sequel will give the creative boys and girls a chance to get it really right.

Up in the Air

Very, very nice. The more I think about this film, the more I realize there isn't really anything for me to nitpick. I can't find any huge, outstanding flaws. So there's really not a lot to say. Except that it features several top-notch performances (ex. Clooney, Kendrick) and a gut-wrenching, real storyline. Yeah, that's pretty much it. Go see it, basically. You'll love it.

Funny People
Funny People(2009)

Yeah. So it turns out that Funny People is not that funny. I mean, it is funny when it takes the time to be funny. Otherwise it's a rather melancholy slog through the depression/redemption/take-me-back-please/I-like-my-life-so-no-thanks routine. I would have liked to see the funny people in this film have an opportunity to let their characters *be* more funny instead of just doing funny things. But whatever. Moving on...

The Princess and the Frog

Fun. Just pure Disney fun. Don't look for anything to deep or life-changing here - you won't find it. But you will find a new direction for a Disney princess: One that works several jobs and believes that working hard, not wishing on a star, will get you your dreams. Kudos for that. The characters themselves are great fun, too, and I found myself rather attached to them. So much so that when things got dark (and I mean *really* dark for Disney), I was really choked. But hey, I'm a Disney fan. I don't think this will revitalize the hand-drawn animation industry, but it is a refreshing film, so there's hope yet.

Michael Clayton

I was confused. A lot. And I tried to pay very close attention, honest. So that became a big hurdle for watching this. Besides that, there's a ton of really stellar performances here, especially for Clooney and Wilkinson. I think the mostly-gloomy atmosphere kept me from really trying to understand the plot. And when you spend half the movie trying to figure out what happened 20 minutes ago... not fun. So maybe you'll have better luck than me. If you do, I'm sure you'll enjoy it a hell of a lot more than I did.

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

For what could have been a disaster (a la The Cat in the Hat), this is a ridiculously entertaining kids' flick. I think it comes down to clever writing, great physical comedy, and a set of very likeable characters. It's not perfect, by any means, but the anime bit in the middle gets me every time.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)
½

Not bad, Mr. Cameron. Not bad at all. First, I'd like to take this moment to gush about Zoe Saldana. The babe from Star Trek became the emotional core of Avatar, really giving 110%. I can't say enough about her - we never see her face, but she stole every scene, as far as I'm concerned. Worthington... well, whatever. He didn't impress me in Terminator and didn't impress me here. The visuals are the real strength of the film, obviously. I won't comment further except to say you have to see it to believe it. The direction was very nice - it kept the story really engaging and fresh when the plot was so familiar. Speaking of which, I thought it was a bit preachy, but not excessively so. Just enough for me to roll my eyes once or twice. Anyway. Message: See it. You'll like it. Seriously. (3D is the way to go!)

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Well, it started well, I'll say that. And kudos to the animation department - very nice. But by the end it was a 3D free-for-all that I could really care less about.

Fight Club
Fight Club(1999)

First class in every respect. From the crackling dialogue to the uncompromising violence to the (nearly) mind-bending final twist, it's pure genius. Norton, Pitt, and Bonham Carter are all at the top of their game, delivering really fantastic, nuanced performances. And I can't say enough about the lighting. LAV it. Never mind the direction, also genius... I'll cut my gushing short here and simply say this is a MUST-see.

Goldfinger
Goldfinger(1964)
½

Again, one of those ones I haven't seen in a while. I think this was the first Connery Bond film I saw, and he does a fabulous job. There really isn't anybody who's been able to top that debonair lilt and oh-so-mysterious look. Sure, lots of the film was over-the-top in both plot and action, but that borderline-silliness is what makes it fun.

Jurassic Park

You'll have to forgive me - I haven't seen this beauty in a while. From what I remember, I was thoroughly impressed with (most) of the visual effects and wide shots. That helicopter soaring past jagged mountains and misty waterfalls... wow. However, I'm under the impression that the script was a little lacking, a little preachy. As badass as Jeff Goldblum is, he doesn't make a very convincing tree-hugger. Still, it's a class for a reason, and Spielberg makes it magic.

Disney's A Christmas Carol

Throughout the majority of the film, I couldn't help thinking, "Michael Caine did it better". While Carrey gives a good effort that's usually spot-on, a couple of characters (ex. the ridiculously Irish Ghost of Christmas Past) came off a little weird. The animation was quite good and it allowed for some [ahem] easily-recognized individuals to disappear into their characters more than usual. There were also a few inspired moments that really shook me, and a couple of Oldman's moments that pulled me in. But in the end, the Muppets version is still my favourite - isn't everything more fun when it's sung?

Let the Right One In

To be fair, I went into this one with very high expectations after it was branded "The Best Vampire Movie EVAR" by plenty of people. I was therefore disappointed, which isn't to say it wasn't a great film. The narrative thread is pulled rather thin, with just a few key events dictating the entirety of the plot. That being said, the visuals are just lovely, with an exquisite colour palette. Leandersson really shines as the young she-vampire. In fact, she's probably the reason the film is as popular as it is. So kuods, Lina.

Michael Jackson's This Is It
½

I was incredibly surprised. I had banked on seeing some shots cobbled-together from the video off of someone's camera phone... but this was really well done. This film was meant for Jackson's private library and some moments during the stage show - and he really spared no expense. To see the level of detail paid to all of the visuals, the sound, the lighting, the special effects, it was mind-boggling. And I was delighted to see the film focused much more on Michael the Artist and Michael the Professional after so much media attention given to Michael the Freak and Michael the Pedo. You can tell he really cared deeply about his music, about the messages behind them, and the people performing with him. I realize now the difference between his music and the synthed, uber-mixed music on the radio - Michael infused his music with soul. Mainstream pop now is essentially soulless. So to get inside the professional world of MJ and be given such a fascinating look at the show that never was... it's magic.

Coraline
Coraline(2009)

I didn't get a chance to see this in 3D, but I'm sure I'm not missing a whole lot. This film was surprisingly creepy, but I would have loved it if they'd taken it a step further into the realm of mild horror, rather than trying to still make it accessible to kids. The visuals are *very* cool, love the colour palette they chose for the "alternate" world. Plus the animation is absolutely wonderful - stop-motion never gets old for me. The ending didn't sit quite right with me, couldn't tell you why. Not recommended for kids, but grown-ups should definitely give this one a go.

Waterworld
Waterworld(1995)
½

Considering how long the Lord of the Rings films were, this shouldn't feel this dragged-oiut. To be fair, it's a very exciting idea. The world covered in water? Not too far-fetched, I'd say. However spectacular the visuals are, however, that can't make up for the minimal plot or nonexistent character development. Costner's off his game here - his character feels too stoic and not pirate-ish enough. He's essentially a 22nd century swashbuckler, so why wasn't it written that way? Still, some pretty awesome sets and interesting costume designs puts this one a little higher on my "recommended" list than it otherwise might have been.

Inside Hana's Suitcase

I saw this with Portia, a friend of mine, at the Victoria Film Festival a last year and have been itching to let people know about this fantastic film.

The story of Hana Brady is one that transcends most other documentaries I've seen based on its simplicity and classic story-telling style. The stories of Hana, killed in Auschwitz as a girl, and her brother George are intertwined with that of Fumiko Ishioka, a Japanese school teacher who comes to possess Hana's suitcase. Driven by curiosity, she not only discovers Hana's fate, but also that of George's, who lives in Toronto. He visits her and her class, The Small Wings, to see and touch one of the most precious of Hana's belongings. This blending of past and present is captured in an interesting way, combining both candid interviews with fictional flashbacks.

George's honesty and Fumiko's tireless drive are really captured well, as well as giving the audience an unprecedented glimpse into the life of a victim of the Nazis. From the magic tricks their father used to perform to the bottle full of a young girl's frustrations buried in the back yard, the film is incredibly intimate. Yet at the same time, it takes a global scale when Hana's story travels beyond the Brady's home in the Czech Republic to Japan to Canada and all across Europe. It's a tragic story, to be sure, but it's full of hope and loving memory. The music, I felt, really reflected all those tones, though it could be a bit overwhelming in certain scenes.

The message comes through loud and clear: this must never happen again. Because Hana's story is only one of millions.

What really made this film come alive for me was that after the screening, Larry Weinstein, the director, introduced us to George and his daughter, who had attended the premiere. I must admit, seeing him there after being given such a penetrating look into his suffering and his family, I broke down in tears, like many others. It was a complex mix of deep respect, gratitude, and pride in his courage. And it's a feeling I won't forget. I can only hope that Hana's and George's story will continue to touch lives as it has mine.

EDIT: A comment from Mr. Weinstein himself! "What a nice review... thank you. Very few people have seen this film, so the audience reaction in Victoria was very meaningful to me (as was the documentary award that it won there). And so your comments are very much appreciated. LW"

Where the Wild Things Are

Unforgettable visuals combined with a heart-wrenching, melancholy story packs quite the punch. A real testament to Spike Jonze, the visual direction is wonderful, almost as if you could reach into your own imagination and touch what you found. Most of the philosophical tones will be lost on kids, and some adults, I'm sure. But if you do pick up on them, it's a very interesting discussion on moral principles still under construction in a kid's mind. Kudos to the special effects crew - they give the "wild things" a real, tactile feel while using CGI to subtly give life and personality to them. Bring a hankie for the end sequence.

Zombieland
Zombieland(2009)

Shockingly gory, but exceptionally funny. I haven't seen a zom-com this funny since "Shaun of the Dead", honestly. Harrelson is at the top of his game here, clearly having a ton of fun - and it's infectious (pardon the pun). Watch out for a hilarious (but totally unneccessary) cameo by Murray and a kick-ass sequence from inside a midway booth. The direction is familiar (bleak colours with copious amounts of blood red), but it works more often than not. If you can get over the inital splash of gore, this is a see-for-sure flick.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Much more accessible than I had originally anticipated. What I had branded as a kiddie schlump-fest turned out to be a honestly funny, thoroughly entertaining flick. Don't be fooled by the trailer - they were smart enough to keep the best bits out of it ("DAVE!"). When I say "fun for the whole family", I really do mean it.

9
9(2009)

I was rather disappointed with the lack of character development here. By the end, I was literally begging them, "Somebody - SAY SOMETHING!" The plot was also lacking; there was really only one important development. After that, it seemed to stall. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of great things to watch. The design and lighting is absolutely genius, though some of the effects were too simple and predictable. The voice acting was great all around (what little there was), though the script erred on the side of familiarity and redundancy. Very cool to watch, but not as inspired as I had hoped.

The International
½

Surprisingly dull. I simply could not hold my focus over the endless traipsing through various plot twists. Our leads do what they can, but there never seemed to be a solid connection between them. The action sequences are reasonably well thought-out, but tend to drag, just like the rest of the film. The film is really at its best when left to Owen's devices - he does a marvellous job of ramping up the tension and raising the stakes. Kudos. Other than that? There's absolutely nothing to tell.

Australia
Australia(2008)

Obscenely long. But also beautiful to watch. Every shot seems handpicked for gorgeousness and rich colour. Unfortunately, that can't save the wandering plot line that should have ended an hour before it did. Kidman and Jackman's characters seem just a touch over-simplified, just barely deviating from the classic rich-girl, poor-boy routine.. On the up side, Wenham absolutely nails it as the conflicted, brutal cattle-driver. There are lots of other long adventure movies that are better than this one.

Just the Ticket

Another surprising film I've seen lately. You've probably never heard of this one: A ticket scalper (Andy Garcia) going nowhere in life figures he can turn his life around and win back his girlfriend by nabbing tickets to the Pope's address at Yankee Stadium. Yeah, I know. Still, give this one a chance, and you won't regret it. There's a freshness that is usually completely absent in most romantic comedies, ruined in part by an unbelievably bland MacDowell. Kudos to Garcia, though - you can't help but empathize and symapthize with his character. I mean, everybody wants proof that they exist. :)

From Hell
From Hell(2001)

A gruesome, smart thriller, perfect for Hallowe'en. Johnny Depp tries his hand at a druggie investigator, and usually it pans out well. The plot can be a bit hard to follow, but pays off in the end. Ian Holm is brilliant and Heather Graham brings depth to a character that might otherwise have been flat. The gore can be a bit excessive, but it does ring true most of the time. Well done.

Julie & Julia

I really wish I could give this another star, if only for Streep. As a matter of fact, I would have rather watched a whole film on Julia Child. Because Streep has her pigeon-holed, honestly. And Tucci is positively huggable, as usual. Adams does a great job with what she's given, but unfortunately her character is written a shade too whiny and depressed to be accessible and likeable. The blending of the two stories only works sometimes and gives the film a rather choppy feel. The ending is also rather odd. Instead of gracefully drawing both stories to a close, it just seems to end without resolving some conflicts. Still, if you get a chance to see this, do. Streep's delicious performance is not to be missed.

The Devil's Tomb

Let me be clear. I'm giving this one star for Perlman and Winstone, and them *only*. Even Gooding, Jr. falls flat. Hardly his fault, though, seeing as the script was a gigantic mess and the plot even more so. Copious amounts of gore and "Gotcha!" moments won't save a film. *Especially* not this one. [shudder] Avoid at all costs.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Absolutely the best Potter film to date. It was much more satisfying this time around, which I can contribute largely to the young actors. *Finally* they have the chops to really sink their teeth into their respective roles. Felton really surprised me - he brought just the right amount of desperation and pathos to the character, making him much more accessible to the audience. As for the plot, though it did stray from the books for reasons I can't quite understand, it was generally fine, although adding subplots definitely killed the race-to-the-finish breathlessness present in some of the other films. The direction was a relief - it was a "show-but-don't-tell" style, which was refreshing. And in parting, I must geek a bit about Rickman. He absolutely *kills* it. I can't wait to see what he'll do with The Deathly Hallows... ^.^

One Week
One Week(2008)
½

Interesting, though somewhat meandering and overly philosophical. I found a sort of chest-puffing pleasure in pointing out familiar Canadian locales and cities (including my own!), though that served to be the majority of my entertainment. Don't get me wrong, the film is hardly stuffy, but it does have a distinctive artsy, ever-so-slightly-patronizing feel that bothered me. But the character study is fun to watch, if only in an at-arms-length way.

District 9
District 9(2009)

I think... yup. Right here. A little bit of my mind that's been blown out of my head. Man, what a killer movie. Pardon the pun. I was hooked from the first pseudo-documentary shot and the unassuming, bitch of a protagonist. Who single-handedly held up the whole film, I might add. Major kudos. The CG here is amazing - the interaction is incredibly real, another set of kudos to the actors and stuntmen. And with a plot that kept me guessing and grimacing right to the gory end, it felt satisfyingly depressing and hopeful at the same time. This is not a renter, ladies and gents. Find it. Watch it. But I wouldn't recommend going on a full stomach...

I Love You, Man

I saw this a while ago. And I don't have anything to say about it, really. That speak to you about memorability?

The Soloist
The Soloist(2009)
½

So close. Sooooo close. I first had misgivings about this film when Paramount pushed back the release date from Oscar-friendly November to the no-man's-land of April. Some of my misgivings were justified. Most were not. While the narrative thread is strong and well-told by Downey's Lopez, it feels slightly choppy. The story's arc gets lost in a few places, partly because of the directorial decision to insert flashbacks to Ayers' (Foxx) childhood. It does give us a feel for his tumultuous past, but it also disrupts the story somewhat. And speaking of Mr. Foxx, I must admit myself disappointed. I am Sam this is not. Though his delivery seems by-the-book Oscar-worthy, there's no connection to his character, as if he's holding it at arm's length. Just going through the motions of what a paranoid schizophrenic might do. The direction doesn't help, either. What was intented to be a Fantasia-like moment was really just an overly long eyesore. On the other side of the spectrum, Downey's performance is a triumph. And I say that with as little bias as humanly possible for a fan like myself. Compared to Foxx's slightly-overdone character, his understated, desperate portrayal is wonderful to watch. Besides this, the other strong point in the film is the gritty honesty of street life in LA and mental illness. It's frightening and slightly disturbing, offering a nice contrast from Lopez's professional lifestyle. While the melodrama does tend to creep into the script, especially near the end, those moments of immediacy and reality make it all worthwhile. So close to being great.

Away We Go
Away We Go(2009)

Endearing, but not quite as ha-ha funny as the trailer lets on. Though there are plenty of those moments, it was more poignant and desperate than I was expecting. Gyllenhaal is an absolute riot, not to be missed. The plot does tend to drag in places and feels a little self-conscious in the uber-folky direction style. Still, a great little film, recommended for hard laughs and deep thoughts.

The Ugly Truth

I went into this with *very* low expectations and hence was pleasantly surprised. This definitely doesn't deserve the beating it got by the critics, but it definitely has some rather large flaws. For one, the chemistry simply wasn't there; one second they're pining for each other, next they're professing their undying love. Really. And it was predictable, but I had guessed as much going in. But the script was often smart and (less often) witty, so that was enough to keep me entertained.

The Hangover
The Hangover(2009)
½

A raunchy, dirty, hilarious comedy. I had to dock half a star for the lagging bits, but otherwise, I don't really have anything to nitpick. I laughed so hard I cried, I grinned all the way to the parking lot - *watch this*.

Bedtime Stories
½

Paint-by-numbers. With a couple crude jokes thrown in. [yawn]

Alien
Alien(1979)

A true-blue classic in sci-fi history. Genius work, direction-wise, and the atmosphere is always electric, mostly due to some great lighting and sound effects. The plot kind of hiccoughs along for my taste, but it's solid in terms of content. Find it!

A Scanner Darkly

*Seriously* tripped out. I don't even know where to start... Well, the direction was... unique. Yes. Unique. Very interesting. But the plot line moved rather slowly and never got very far. Still, if you're in the right mood, it could be considered... em, interesting?

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I must say, I'm very taken with one British critic's review: "It's like be smashed over the head repeatedly with a very loud, expensive train set." Preeeeetty much sums it up. I wish I could be more favourable, I do. It's just... [sigh] It seems like the entire plot serves the sole purpose of setting up the action sequences. And those moments that could have been funny and witty were delivered at a lightning-fast pace and given no weight at all. Oh, Shia. This is not a very good representation of what you can do. [nods pointedly to A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints] And Fox is there to look nice and take up space, as usual. The new additions to the cast were rather annoying, especially Rodriguez's character. Nasty bits aside, the action is truly eye-popping and well-choreographed, if predictable and pointless. Sorry. Nastiness creeping in there again. That's the problem - the nastiness seems to permeate through the film, leaving one to wonder what its soure might be... then, of course, the answer becomes clear. Bay. Michael Bay. No *wonder* the pacing is so lousy and the weight so unevenly distributed. It was directed and edited that way. So in short, if there is to be another Transformers movie in the future, the Paramount bigwigs better keep the Bay-nastiness well away from it if they want a positive review from *me*. [humph!] Not like they care - with such big box-office bucks, they're bound to give everybody a nice bonus and sign them on for another Bay-driven schlumph-fest. [shakes head]

Outsourced
Outsourced(2007)

What could have been a paint-by-numbers romantic comedy surprised me. A *lot*. The script is fresh and witty, the actors (with the exception of the lead) are wonderful and very real, and even the setting adds a touch of poignancy. That being said, Hamilton... is really not very convincing. It's a real blah moment when you realize that. Consequently, you spend your time focusing on the supporting roles, all giving *very* honest and accurate portrayals of life in rural India. You've probably never heard of this one, so if you see it at your local Blockbuster, snatch it! You won't regret it.

Pufnstuf
Pufnstuf(1970)
½

I never truly understood the meaning of the phrase, "So good, it's bad". Oh God, do I know now. This... jeez, where do I even begin...? I've never seen such a tripped-out children's film. Hippie trees, wacky Technicolour sets, and a dash of "angel dust". Get the idea? Plus H. R. Pufnstuf himself can't seem to keep his eyes from going googly. Veeeeery creepy, I assure you. But Jack Wild is positively wonderful, and the witches' convention is a very cool touch. If someone you love hasn't been exposed to this film... you're doing them a disservice. Just try not to watch this on drugs. I think you might lose your freaking mind.

Year One
Year One(2009)

I went against my will. Let that be noted. I was *supposed* to go to The Hangover. Anyway, as I'm sure you can tell, I was none too thrilled about this disaster. Everything you've heard about it is true. No, it's not funny. Yes, it often mistakes disgusting scenes with humour. Yes, this is a 100% waste of Hank Azaria. No, the same joke is not funny the fifth time. Yes, the "historical" bits are patronizing and often insulting. No, you will not like it. Yes, everyone agrees with me.

The Proposal
The Proposal(2009)
½

Consider me pleasantly surprised. While this does follow the romantic comedy plot arc pretty much verbaitm, the intrinsic charm won me over in the end. In fact, they tried hard to defy the audience's every expectation of the plot - sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The dead-pan humour worked really well and the inner conflict within the characters was both relatable and realistic. On the flip side, it's a forgettable flick. But forgotten or not, it's got heart.

Up
Up(2009)
½

Easily comparable to the rest of Disney-Pixar's wonderful family films. Their first foray into the world of *real* people is successful and magical. One can't help but identify with all of the characters, especially Carl Fredricksen, still clinging desperately to his house, his only link to his passed wife. On the flip side, the humour is great for both kids and adults. I mean, who can resist the charm of lovable Doug and his canine cohorts? And Russell is the very embodiment of the innocence and infuriating honesty of childhood. Highly recommended.

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)
½

What a slam-bang addition to the hefty volume of Star Trek films. It's perfectly compatible with the older series while bringing a much-needed facelift both visually and plot-wise. I have to comment on Nimoy - I was positively tickled to see him there. And that wasn't the only bit of nostalgia - there were tons of little tidbits from the original series ("Damnit, I'm a doctor, not an engineer!") that will delight any long-time fan. For the newcomers, the action is impeccably directed and the artistic direction is memorable and unique. (Lens flares, anyone?) And about those flares, I found them perfectly appropriate. On a brand-new spanking starship, I'd probably be a little star-struck, too (no pun intended). The cast does some really great work here, with special kudos to Quinto, who has really mastered his character and all the intricacies involved. A wonderful film for anyone and everyone.

Terminator Salvation

Not as bad as some people let on. While there are some definite flaws in the way of near-zero character development and churned-out action-adventure lines, there's a lot to be thankful for. Bale, number one. He's very good at bringing the nitty gritty realism to a scene and to his character. The sets were also very cool, kudos to the designers. The direction is a funny thing - the helicopter crash sequence in the beginning was stellar. It blew my mind that I felt so taken in by a single shot. After that, though, things tended to stay pretty predictable. Too bad. Still, the action is really great and the intensity of the performances drive the desperate race of the plot, as thin as it may be. A good summer popcorn movie and nothing else.

Doubt
Doubt(2008)

This is really a testament to the lead actors' skill. For all the long, hefty, dialogue-laden scenes, the actors all kept my rapt attention. The direction was a bit heavy-handed, using the most obvious symbolism possible to be able to reach the most people. Understadably. But it was the subtlety in the script and the acting that really took it home for me. The lightning-fast, perfecty timed changes in mood felt completely natural, drawing you closer to each character, helping you sympathize with them. And trust me, Streep's scowling Sister needs all the help she can get. Adams' work is fabulous here - one scene in particular really put me in awe. A train of thought and the rollercoaster of emotions that follow are positively palpable. A very solid drama, not recommended if you have trouble sleeping...

X-Men Origins - Wolverine
½

Well, kudos for smashing together every cliche in the book. From the script ("I'm not afraid of you." ... ) to the plot ( "NOOOOOOOO!") to the direction (

The Tale of Despereaux

I was genuinely surprised. Entertained. Touched, even. What might have been a slog through the kiddie film routine turned out to be a much more mature, kid-friendly exploration of tough issues like the loss of a loved one, betrayal, turning to anger in grief... not what I expected, clearly. Which is a good thing. It's a *great* thing. Philosophy aside, the script is usually just okay with a few really wonderful lines. In terms of voices, this was a real waste of Hoffman and Lloyd, both of whom I know can really rock animated films (see Kung Fu Panda and The Pagemaster). Weaver is good, but not remarkable or memorable. As well, the animation is quite shoddy as is evident in the flat, expressionless human faces. Which is too bad, really, because the environments have lovely textures and colours. A great romp for the whole family, though it might be a little too dark for kids under 7.

The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Ahhh, what can I say? McConaughey is permanently trapped in the hollow eye-candy role and no one else takes any chances. For heaven's sake, even Michael Douglas didn't possess his usual charm. There are some hearty laughs and witty moments, but none that stay with you or aren't sexually related. And the monologues? *Seriously*? A great disservice to a Dickens classic.

City Lights
City Lights(1931)
½

A lovely fairy tale, wonderfully conceived and executed. This is another tribute to Chaplin's mastery of all dimensions of film from direction to music composition to acting. Cherrill is quite good, underplaying the role where neccessary and bringing the key moments the perfect weight. This gets an extra half star for the hilarious boxing scene that helped maket this one a classic.

Monsters vs. Aliens

Not exactly the freshest animated film out there, but there's plenty of laughs. In fact, I was often in wonder of how two-faced the script was. At one moment, it was quirky and really quite funny. The next, it was soggy, stale, and insincere. And I just don't know what happened to Colbert - where's the funnyman I know? On another note, the characters simply weren't given the time or the room to develop and change, except for Witherspoon's Susan. Anyway, the kids will love this and the parents will find themselves occasionally amused.

The Kid
The Kid(1921)
½

What a beautiful story - bring a hankie. The only thing costing this half a star is the slight unneccesity of the dream sequence. Other than that, it's a comic gem - but still completely relevant. And I'll restrict my gushing to Chaplin and Jackie Coogan, the kid himself. The scene where the two are forcibly seperated had me incredibly choked and teary just due to the 100% conviction they both give. Please, please, please find this one somewhere.

U.S. Marshals
½

Not too spectacular. It often felt like a scene-for-scene rehash of The Fugitive, borrowing extensively from the original's plot. Jones manages to bring some level of depth, but almost everyone else is perfectly one-dimensional. I'd love to say that Downey, Jr. makes a good villain here, but.... meh. That freshness that usually pulls him through even the most unwieldy of scripts is completely missing. The stunt work is very cool and there's some edge-of-your-seat moments, but nothing at the same calibre of The Fugitive.

The Fugitive
The Fugitive(1993)

Nothing new or particularly noteworthy, but definitely a solid thriller. Ford and Jones *make* this movie, I might add. Not much else to say... there were some moments where I was glued to the screen, others where I was just, well, watching a movie. Worth having in your library.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

A real charmer. While there's a lot of fluff to be had, it's also fairly clever in terms of situational comedy. And the script is delightful, if somewhat familiar. I didn't find any one cast member that stood out - they all did well. Huh. I really don't have much to say about this one, other than it's amusing and will end your day on a nice note.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

An interesting premise delivered in a way I found offensive and sensationalist. The constant stream of insinuations that somehow European film is the be-all and end-all of the art, the suggestion that the tragedy at Columbine was due to the MPAA's poor rating methods, that the Church is and always has been involved in censorship, that I'm somehow too conservative and old fashioned in thinking my child shouldn't be seeing a masturbation scene at 14... I felt very affronted and antagonized. Plus the way the filmmakers went about discovering the "secret identities" of all the MPAA raters seemed rather childish, filming furtively over people's shoulders and such. All that said, I do agree - there needs to be a lot more transparency in the MPAA. But after feeling so indignant, I have a hard time swallowing anything else.

In Bruges
In Bruges(2008)
½

Not what I expected. So sue me, but I find it difficult pegging this as a comedy. Sure, it was funny as hell - the irreverent, politically incorrect humour was well-placed and well-delivered. But it's the tragedy and irony of the piece that really spoke to me. Anyway, the script is wonderfully fluid and natural, even the philosophical bits, and really lends itself well to that dual identity of comedy/tragedy. And of course, each part was spot on, Fiennes of special note for his barely-contained fury that only escapes through his fierce eyes. All right, so I've gushed - why the missing 1/2 star? It's for the ending. It was infuriatingly cut short. I don't usually mind, but for some reason, it really bothered me this time. Still, this is a really great film and well worth your while.

Fargo
Fargo(1996)

I watched this when I couldn't sleep one night. The irony does not escape.
What a brilliant tragedy - carefully woven into a beautiful noose that slowly closes about our "heroes". Speaking of heroes, Macy has officially made my wonder list. His performance is positively stellar - one might even say Oscar-worthy. I just loved the hidden suggestion of an untamed, savage animal hidden deep in the recesses of even the most domesticated, simpering salesman. Not to gush, but really, every cast member was wonderful, McDormand and Buscemi of special note. And I can't say enough about the lighting and set design - again, that surpressed savagery peeks through. Okay, okay, I'll stop gushing... but if you haven't seen this yet, know that there simply isn't a film quite like it. And that should be reason enough.

Restoration
Restoration(1996)

Quite the period piece. To be honest, I found the gaudiness and splendour of the first hour both amusing and disgusting - an odd combination, but nonetheless effective. Note that a large part of my disgust was aimed directly at our hero in his simpering mannerisms and voice. But almost unnoticed, Downey subtly and masterfully creates a man I can both respect and admire in his courage and faith. McKellen is also fabulous, quietly adding a dash of humour and wisdom to every scene he graces. Of course, the film has some downfalls - chiefly the often soggy script and melodrama that tends to creep in at peak moments. I'm also under the impression that it's not entirely historically accurate, but it works with the plot line almost always. I'm glad to have found this one - a film worthwhile of the hunt for it.

Pride and Prejudice

A real stunner. Even though every other shot was a love letter to the set designers/dressers and I missed the first 10 minutes because of annoyingly fast-talking girls... definitely a heartstring-tugger. The big draw for me was MacFadyen. What the man can do with his eyes is unbelievable. Plus Dench and Sutherland were both delightful. Check this one out - your emotional self will thank you.

Jaws
Jaws(1975)
½

Classic. Classic, classic, classic. Pretty much sums it up. This is Spielberg at his best - underwater leg shots, anyone? - and deserving of the title the "First" summer popcorn movie. Sheider, Dreyfuss, and Shaw are all wonderful here, although Shaw's character is the only one given time to develop any backstory. Maybe it was late at night when I watched this, but... I found a lot of it, well, boring. I couldn't help but draw parallels to the novel Moby Dick's boring bits in the middle. I think it may have been the emotional breaks - they were too long. Yes, I realize that you need to reset your brain every 10 minutes or whatever, but the gap was so long that all the tension disappears. But when that tension hits, oi vei. Hold on to your harpoons, ladies and gents.

American Psycho

Fascinating character study. First and foremost, our leading man really brings his A-game here. He has that cower-inducing quality that many only dream of as a man with a psychotic personality (and OCD? Hypochondria?). The star-studded cast also adds nicely, although some parts were mostly wasted space (i.e. Dafoe) used to set off our psycho. The direction is interesting, very unassuming and subtle - a great match to the mood of the piece. Plus that last line... Uber-creepy. After all that gushing, the real film-killer here is the pacing. It felt a bit ragged, which really screws with the tension build-up to Bale's crazy-fest and makes it feel less climactic than it should. Still, a perfectly great thriller.

Snatch
Snatch(2001)

Whoooooa. I needed a day or two to really let this one simmer on the backburner. It was such a hectic, almost panicky ride that I couldn't bring myself to review it right away. That desperately fast pace is both the best and worst quality about this one. It keeps the audience engaged, that's for sure, but the fact that it never lets up makes it difficult to concentrate for that long. And of course, that one moment you stop paying attention and stretch, you miss a gigantic plot point. The script is pure genius, no matter how much you happen to miss due to a brain fart or their ridiculously strong accents. Pitt's was definitely the worst - which is funny for a while, but becomes a little annoying when all you get is "Ya knoh whaaaa mean?" That being said, he's brilliant, as is Del Toro and Jones. But the real star of the film is Guy Ritchie, with every shot working seamlessly in the plot and mood, managing to keep us all informed of a hundred bazillion character backstories. Quite the catch, great for any fan of British humour.

The Count of Monte Cristo

First and foremost, I'd like to say that I went into this movie rather confused. You see, the poster makes our hero look very much like Antonio Banderas. So every time we skipped ahead a few months or did a bottom-to-top pan, my friends and I were all giggling, "Is it Antonio? Is it... oh, damn."
Anyway... this started out rather promising, with Caviezel bringing real grit and fire to the role. Also, kudos to the late Richard Harris for some fine work here, but he isn't given a lot of room for dynamics. The well-woven plan of the "count" seems intricate at first, but after some thought, I found it rather predictable. As well, the count's struggle with the priest's last words is pretty much nonexistent, which was disappointing. Plus the ending ties things up in such a neat little bow that it hardly seems that anything horrible happened at all. Still, an interesting story with some lovely visuals to boot.

Watchmen
Watchmen(2009)
½

First and foremost, I'd like to say that I would love to see this again. The asses sitting with me at the midnight showing thought every frame of nudity and excessive violence deserved a good giggle. Way to go - you kinda sort just ruined it for me.
Anyway... this is a very cynical, dystopian view of a bleak future, but one that also doesn't seem that far removed from what we encounter in today's politics. Who has the biggest guns? The most money? The most strings to pull? The least moral direction? The characters reflect that brilliantly, with every one given his or her moment to develop and grow, even the disconnected Dr. Manhattan. A quick shout out to Haley for his brilliant voiceover work and positively chilling rendition of Rorschach. However, the real draw of the film is its visual spectacle. I spent a good third of the movie in perpetual chills - the Mars landscape is especially thrilling. Even the opening credits effects are fantastic, capturing all the backstory, mood, and themes that the uneducated (like myself) need. The only major complaint I might have is the length - at a whopping 2 hours 40 minutes, it's quite the epic to sit through. That being said, I understand the significance of each scene, I just think some of the sex scenes could be trimmed a bit. They seemed a little superfluous after the first. The script is a bit odd - it flips between the classic comic book-style monologues and the more organic day-to-day speech you might find in an indie drama. And it works. Because that's exactly what this film is - a hybrid between a moral play and a comic book, one that I don't think will come around for a long while.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)

When I went to watch this, I admit I was looking for a bit of an emotional release. And boy, did I get one. Rourke's Randy flies below the radar and steals your heart while you weren't looking. The tragedy of missing out on the rest of his life really hits the sweet spot, with Wood and Tomei bringing the intimacy home. We're given small windows into our hero's life - the ones that we know define not only him but every lost soul we'll ever meet. While it gives the film grit and draws us in, it also gives the film an awkward pace and somewhat jagged edges. That being said, the handheld camera style (a "jagged edge", if you will) really works well, making every scene a touch more organic. Overall, a wonderful portait of a man trapped by his love and others' indifference. Bring a hankie.

Good Bye, Lenin!

Enchanting, if not always engaging. I would just like to say that I was misinformed - I spent the entire movie waiting to laugh. I was told this is a comedy. Not so. Still good, mind you, just not what I expected.
Ahem. While the plot is clearly unrealistic, the biting look at East vs West German idealsim and socialism is not. It gives a very intimate look into a Germany I might not have otherwise known, in a time of great upheaval and renewal. Our hero is perfectly set for the times and his story is one that resonates on many levels from personal to moral. Well-written and well-acted, it's worth your while to find this somewhere.

The Fall
The Fall(2006)

What a visual masterpiece. Shot in literally dozens of absolutely stunning locations with costumes and characters to match, this heartfelt fantasy-drama hybrid works like nothing I've ever seen. Untaru as our heroine is mesmerizingly truthful, as is her hero, played by Pace. The collision of fantasy and gritty reality in a swirl of vivid colour make this one of the most heartbreaking, unique stories I've ever heard.

Chances Are
Chances Are(1989)

What?
What just happened here? I swore... no, that can't be RDJ... no, it's... too... horrible...
Okay, needless to say, this was a giant, f'ing disaster. There were a couple of giggle-worthy moments, but the convoluted plot and wretched script, coupled with flat characters and incomprehensible choices of scenes... yeah. A giant, f'ing disaster. I would say this film suffers from "This scene is here because..." syndrome. I can just imagine the creative crew in a room, discussing, "Well, we need to show these two characters are close. Let's get them dancing on a merry-go-round! We need to show some sort of connection between the two lives. Ooh, let's keep making the same awkward situation fifty times! And don't forget, Cher needs to sing that final tune. Plot relevancy? Phfffft. Who *cares* about that, anyway." This officially makes my "Avoid Like the PLAGUE" list.

Igor
Igor(2008)
½

What starts as a yawn-fest for the ages quickly develops into one of the more entertaining family films I've seen recently. The name-dropping and random allusions to cultural phenomena as well as a dead-on depiction of the modern actress really made this sparkle. Sure, the script can be soggy and the one-liners tired, but often the ride is fun enough for you to forget.

City of Ember
½

There are plenty of family movies that are far more entertaining and well-made than this creaky mess. The special effects are especially distracting. The inconsistency in character motivation is also rather jarring - our herione is no longer really the hero after the first 40 minutes, just a tag-along there to look afraid and look after lil' sis. Too bad, I like Robbins an awful lot. Go for Narnia or even The Spiderwick Chronicles first.

Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider(2007)

Hem. Well, it a star for looking pretty, because, frankly, I laughed through half of it. It was completely overblown and over-acted. Typical, predictable comic movie. A bad thing happened to a good idea...

Stephen King's It
½

Perfectly creepy thriller... Tim Curry shines as Pennywise the clown, and the cast is overall very good, particularly Jonathan Brandis. I must admit, though, I had to take my rating down half a star after seeing the second half, which simply wasn't as good as the first. The kids gave real genuine performances wheras the adults seemed to rely on good camera angles and pretty faces. The ending was quite trite, and I know that couldn't have been a Stephen King ending... and I've never even read the book! Still, all-in-all, a great Halloween flick any day, and ver likely to scare the living "dead lights" out of you.

Tropic Thunder
½

Totally inappropirate. Over-the-top gore. Offensive language. And it's damn funny. The actors relish in such a self-deprecating, abusive script, Downey Jr. in particular having lots of fun. The cameos are priceless with Cruise stealing every scene he's in ("... apple bottom jeans JEANS, boots with the fur WITH THE FUR..."). The action sequences are quite cool and usually tie together nicely with some snappy editing. Stiller's direction is commendable if somewhat predictable, but if I was acting, editing, and directing, I'd probably stick with the familiar. Only thing is, I couldn't understand what they were saying half the time. All deliveries were wickedly fast, often with ridiculous accents or music playing in the background. Maybe it was the theatre, I don't know. Also of mention, I wasn't left with a strong impression of the mood or message. Even now I'm not sure if too much or too little was presented, but in either case, it left the film feeling a little hollow. Still, some great raucous comedy here, definitely worth a watch. Did I mention RDJ makes an excellent blond? <3

Slumdog Millionaire

Wow I can't believe I haven't rated this yet...
Clearly the best film of the year. Hands down. And yes, I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and it was wonderful. But this... this takes everything I've ever loved about the movies and pieces them together in a beautifully woven story. Patel is positively mesmerizing as Jamal; I couldn't take my eyes off him. I'd also like to give a shout to Boyle, the director, for his fantastic work. The score is now on my iTunes. Nuff said. The passion behind this project reaches the audience in a way I thought was a myth - it's been so long since I've been so emotionally invested a single character's story of hope, drive, and the all-encompassing power of love.

A Nightmare on Elm Street
½

Definitely one of the better horror films I've seen. From the wildy-lighted basements to Freddy's signature claws, it's quite the frightening ride. And who doesn't love a little Johnny? ;)

Richard III
Richard III(1995)
½

Visually stunning, perfectly delivered, and one of the best-written scripts I've yet heard. Kudos to the Bard - his biting sarcasm and scalding insinuations never get old. McKellen shines in all his classically-trained glory, bringing humanity and gritty, base desire to one of the greatest villains of all time. In the cons, the American accents floating in and out of scenes was pretty jarring, to be honest, and the pacing was a bit incomprehensible at times. Still, this stellar cast and beautiful visual direction cures all ills, as far as I'm concerned. Find it!

Only You
Only You(1994)
½

Far too many cliches to give this film much credit... but there was some fun to be had. And honestly, only RDJ could deliver such pre-fabbed, sticky sweet lines with any sincerity. Kudos. The plot is often amusing and quirky, though the script is often a bit laboured. Catch this one on TV if you can - if nothing else, you'll giggle at the pure silliness of it.

Marley & Me
Marley & Me(2008)

Often meandering, this film feels like a sucker punch to the emotional gut without any real reason. I mean, they're definitely targeting us dog-owners and -lovers, trying their very hardest to get us to cry. Unlike the book however, there is no pay off for the sorrow for Marley we feel - it seems pointless and almost cruel. The novel at least gave some sense that the cycle contiues and that the owner is responsible for loving the dog come good or bad times... this film just feels too simple for that. Still, there's some cute moments and small laughs here. Wait for the DVD.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Fascinating, thrilling, and moving. A beautifully told and written story about the natural cycle of life and the seemingly insignificant part we play in the world's memory. What can I say for this... it's a masterpiece through and through from the cinematography to the superb script. A little slow at times in terms of pace, but it's engaging right to the last frame. Worth every penny.

Heart and Souls

A surprisingly sweet and "soulful" comedy. Sure, it holds some of the classic cliche's, but I can't help but love this one. So many lovable, memorable characters... maybe I'm just in an overly sentimental mood. Great laughs here along with a few tears. Yeah. I'm feeling *reaaaaaally* mushy.

Home for the Holidays

While the premise is a little much at first, give it time and this'll steal your heart. The bittersweetness of remembering the bliss that was, the deep hurt of unspoken resentment, the guilt of lost chances... it's all here. The pacing isn't very good, but the natural, organic script really works to counteract that. Plust the cast is FAB. Only McDermott comes across a little flat, but that's built into his character a bit. The brother-sister scenes between Hunter and Downey Jr are positively precious, although it was hard for me to overlook how gaunt he seemed... Personal mistakes aside, he steals every scene. The ending is a bit baffling but fairly satisfying in the end. A great Thanksgiving flick - check it out!

Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime)

A great animated flick with fantastic visuals and a meaningful message. Plus the voice cast? Coooool.

Bowfinger
Bowfinger(1999)
½

How could so many good ideas go so wrong? An elitist psychologically-high-minded group where everyone wears pyramids on their heads: nice touch. The uber-paranoid action star who thinks aliens on TSN are trying to sap his brains: tee hee. The no-holds-barred director who shoots the movie unbeknownst to the star: classic. But maybe that's the problem - there are so many great gags that you don't have time to connect with any of them. Each isn't given the weight it needs to make it really funny. Plus the melodramatic acting, appropriate as it is, is annoying after a while. And may I mention what a waste of RDJ this was? Rar. Besides its flaws, there are some laughs to be had, most rather low-brow for my taste. If you like Steven Martin, I'm sure you'll like this, so I'll say no more.

Good Night, And Good Luck
½

A meandering look at the fascinating world behind Ed Murrow. This would have had more relevance had I been alive during this period, but oh well. The top-notch casting was fabulous, although I felt every part besides Murrow's weren't given the room to breathe and stand alone. That being said, Strathairn nails this. Murrow's grace, intensity, and tenacity are brilliantly immortalized here. I couldn't really get my head around the pacing, though, and I felt like it was over before it really got started. Not to say I was bored by any means, but I just couldn't figure out where the arc started and ended. I suppose that may be the point of a historical ficto-docu-drama, but I found it a little baffling. Still, I must commend the music choices here - brilliance. Good stuff, absolutely fascinating, and worth watching.

Bolt
Bolt(2008)

A fun, if somewhat formulaic, joy ride. Firstly, I'd like to congratulate Disney on nailing the score once again. They always seem to pick the right composers, you notice that? Anyway, the voice acting is certainly commendable, although I can't help but compare it to Hoffman's brilliant turn in Kung-Fu Panda. The humour was fine, nothing laugh-out-loud, but there was enough to keep you entertained. The plot is classic Disney through-and-through, which I happen to be a sucker for. Those little heartstring-tugging moments really work well. And I admit, I even got a little teary. Anyway, great stuff here if a little forgettable. Bring your kids!

Risky Business

I admit, it took an awfully long time for me to adjust to such a young, evidently inexperienced Cruise... The pacing was wacky; it felt much longer than it needed to. The first half whizzes by, characterized by those tidbits we usually associate with teen comedies, but the last half is much more dark. So much so that it's a bit of a shock and often doesn't feel like the same film to me. Plus the sex scenes were incredibly drawn-out and slightly melodramatic. On the windowsill with the wind raging around? Check. On the subway with a creeper watching? Check. Awkward? Check. The script is usually very good, very true-to-life and honest, but it seems like a drama interspersed with situational comedy without being black humour. Weird. Cruise grew on me as the film progressed, that boyish charm winning me over by the end. So be like Joel and say "What the f*&$" to this one. You just might like it.

The Usual Suspects

First and foremost: I would like to express that Kevin Spacey knocks my freaking socks off. Hem hem. This film makes for some fabulous characters if the plot is somewhat complicated. The direction is also top-notch, kuods to Singer for making those cool little shots and angles really glow. That being said, I have to admit that I spent the first half hour trying to unravel the timeframes and viewpoints, never mind being introduced to a slew of characters and backstories. If it was the intention to keep the audience feeling rather slow, congratulations, give that boy a gold star. Still, once it got rolling, it was non-stop, edge-of-your-seat jazz. The cast is to be applauded for bringing so many facets to each character, special shout to Postlethwaite for his natural grace and Del Toro for his near-incomprehensible dork. Then of course, there's the finale's twist. Admittedly, I called it halfway through, but the way it was set up and delivered, it left you with that wow-factor. Great work here all around, I just wish they'd play the script to my level. This one goes in anyone's collection.

The 13th Warrior
½

My acting teacher was in this one, although after the director switch, her part was cut down to 3 seconds. :( You can definitely tell that the first director left in the middle - it's like 2 different films. The first is moody and very much a character-driven journey, where the second is a dime-a-dozen action-fest with no real depth. Huh. Sorry, Antonio. We love you, but this sucked.

Fried Green Tomatoes
½

Honestly, I intensely disliked the book, so this is just a matter of my not liking the plot line. One of those ones you dissect in high school Engish, you know? Just a bit too sappy for me.

Casino Royale

Too bad. I'd heard great things about this, but I was a bit disappointed. This was quite possibly the most uneven movie I've ever seen. The fact that this was supposed to be a prequel of sorts - set in 2006? - bugged me. Craig was okay, nothing truly spectacular here, but he did the role justice. I was, however, unimpressed with the lacklustre script and cheesy Bond trademarks like the chases that last 20 minutes and the ridiculously obvious ending. I was confused most of the way through, but I gave it an extra half star for Craig's B-E-A-uuuutiful eyes. I just wish he didn't pout like he was a model or something. Bravo to Judi Dench for added some much needed sparkle. Well, better luck next time.

Ultimate Avengers II
½

Well, not as bad as the first, actually. There's some real emoting going on here, how 'bout that. Other than that, I must say I'm fairly tired of the villains... just a leeetle cliched, no? What can I say. Forgettable - yes. Entertaining - sometimes. Recommended for the die-hards only.

Quantum of Solace

Another Bond for the books. A nice follow-up in terms of character development but completely forgettable in terms of plot. It was a little more angsty than I'm used to seeing in Bond, though I'm glad the martini still made an appearance. The action scenes, while breathless, take it just a step too far, making it extremely difficult to hang on to the thread of storytelling. I noticed the sex was played down quite a bit, can't decide if that's an improvement or not, it's usually just a given in a Bond movie. Dench gives a spot-on performance again and kudos to the stunning Kurylenko for a strong presence. Despite its flaws, the last action sequence left me with chills and that's what really stayed with me. So get out there and get your Bond fix. You won't regret it.

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie

You know, I would love to say that I adored this. But... I was completely unimpressed by the nonexistent character development and "safe" plot. And the villains? Oi vei. The animation is fine, nothing that would stand up in theaters obviously, but just all right. I'll skip this for the Iron Man special features, thanks very much. ;)

Charlie Bartlett
½

Incredibly uneven, but has good intentions. This is a strange hybrid of a high school comedy and a poignant drama, both of which stand well enough on their own but together confuse the message and tone. Good performances all around, Downey Jr. doing what he does best here (have you noticed he always seems to play an ass?) and Yelchin holds his own. The comedy is usually quite good and the script can be snappy in spots, but the "moral" of the story weighs it down, adding a rather cliched take-home message. I also have a beef with the sweet, tie-everything-up-neatly ending, which completely negates the tragic backstory of many characters. Everybody knows that destruction follows redemption, check Shakespeare. Still, the honesty is (usually) there, and that's what you really take home.

Poltergeist
Poltergeist(1982)

A thoroughly chilling movie. Firstly, kudos to Spielberg, the direction is really unforgettable here, every angle perfect to scare the pants off of you. The script tended to be overly monologue-ish, but it suited the tone well, and they were all very well delivered (special note to Rubinstein, great work). The SFX would've been much more frightening if I had seen this 20 years ago, but I still squirmed and even screamed once during a wonderfully scary scene involving a mirror and another involving a clown... The acting had a tendency to get a little melodramatic in the intense scenes, but was otherwise very tactfully handled and realistic on every plane. This is without a doubt a classic thriller and well worth watching.

The Singing Detective
½

A very interesting dip into the tortured, sick mind of a mystery author. Downey Jr. was brilliant, as usual, giving Dark more bite than a bottle of Tabasco and more suppressed rage than a caged tiger. And that he is, caged in his own body - which is a nice contrast to the mesmorizingly charming, self-controlled detective-Dark. That being said, the direction is wonderfully weird and the songs completely inappropriate, adding to the mayhem. The flashbacks and digressions into the novel are treated in the same fasion, leading to the blurring of lines between pulp fiction and reality. The pacing is a bit off and I feel that some of the "detective" scenes aren't as revealing as they could be, but you can't help but forgive that for the stunning cast work, both individually and as an ensemble. Great work here!

Sex and the City

Incredibly long and indescribably boring. I tried. I did. When your friends invite people over for a fun movie night, you join in, no matter what you've heard about it. It was all true, by the by. The complete lack of pacing control and emotion-centered scenes that were anything but angsty... it made it exhausting. There were a few chortles, but mostly some raising of eyebrows at the teenage drama mixed with soft porn. The actresses do what they can with completely one-dimensional, uninspired writing, but it's not enough to drag this out of the let-this-one-die quagmire. Quite likely the worst film I've seen this year.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
½

Wow, a great hard-hitter on every front. The cast definitely drives the movie here, and they're all fantastic top-to-bottom. From Downey Jr.'s surpressed rage to LaBeouf's vulnerability, every cast member brings everything to the table, making each character memorable and multidimensional. Kudos to the writers who really bring street grit and an edgy poetic feel to the film. The direction is often risky and fresh and usually works well, making the atmosphere both familiar and vaguely threatening. The family's struggle to find a way to reconcile differences is what really got me - it's so naturally handled, giving it a raw feeling that encompasses every part of the film. This is one of the few really true-to-life films out there about growing up, running away, and coming home. Highly recommended.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

What a classic. The Spielberg-Lucas duo have really done it. The characters are timeless and memorable, the script is smart, the stunt work is incredible... one of the best action films of all time.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

An interesting premise that gets partially destroyed by its own ego. Two brothers plan to rob their parents' jewelry store when it all goes wrong? Ooh, tell me more. Seymour Hoffman getting it on with a babe in Brazil? Oh GOD, make it stop... The meandering pace and overly philosophical tone take a lot of the edge out of this one. As well, the inner motivation behind each character isn't completely clear until you've thought about it for a good hour or two, which is not one of my favourite things to do after I watch a movie. "But he... but then why... oh, so he kills... but... " I prefer movies that are mostly self-contained with an umbrella message that comes through, thanks very much. Still, the acting here is top-notch on every plane, allowing for a lot of play with the characters. Not one I'd recommend.

Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction(1994)

Wow, a Tarantino film bordering on cheerful... what appears to be a mish-mash of stories is slowly connected through a series of fateful incidents, mostly involving tortue, guns, and drugs. All the actors here are top-notch and give correspondingly top-notch performances. Of special note are Willis and Jackson who both hit a sweet note. This film hits hard - it captures everything from the bittersweetness and tragedy of marriage to the tension of a holdup gone wrong to the panic of watching a person die before your eyes. Mostly funny, often poignant, and always memorable, this is a classic in every way.

The Phantom of the Opera

Fabulous directing and editing - the visuals were amazing! Gerard Butler pulls off a new take on the Phantom (or maybe not so new... how many movies have there been?), and Emmy Rossum struts her stuff as a diva-in-the-making. Minnie Driver... well, she's perfect for the over-the-top diva, that's for sure. I love the musical, and I'm still left wondering why they opted for a whispery, whiny song over the credits instead of a great montage... Still, all-in-all, the acting was commendable and the sets a feast for the eyes. Erik lives!

Eagle Eye
Eagle Eye(2008)

A disappointing thriller. After a slam-bang start with lots of action and the occasional moment of brilliance in characterization, the whole thing falls apart. I think it started with the introduction of the real villain - I felt let down, it's so cliche. The ending was even more so with the reunion of family, a romantic moment (bleh, there's less chemistry here than Gerard Butler and Hilark Swank), and rescuing kids to boot. Still, it's not all bad and the leads do what they can, though they can't save this one. Recommended if only for the trailers. :)

Reservoir Dogs
½

Ah, Tarantino. Nothing better. When it comes to action, anyway. A stellar cast here and a snappy, unpredictable plot mixed with some sadistic humour make this an instant classic. Direction is gritty to match the dark tones and dramatic violence that have come to be Tarantino's trademark. Special kudos to Roth, Keitel, and Buscemi, who are wonderfully memorable and humane. While it seems as though this is a straight shoot-em-up, I feel like it's more of an exploration of human suffering and the varied paths to acceptance from realism to solid faith to utter destruction. The Sounds of the Seventies will never be the same...

Monsters, Inc.

Another fun Disney-Pixar family film. The world the audience become submersed in is vivid and rich, as usual, with memorable characters and interesting animation choices. Plenty of hijinks for the kids with some smarter humour for the adults is nice. However, the familiar plot cliches do tend to creep in as the plot proceeds and the script follows suit, followed by the voice acting, etc, etc. Still, credit where credit is due - this is a fun romp enjoyable by anyone.

Chaplin
Chaplin(1992)
½

"Then must you speak / Of one that lov'd not wisely but too well..."
A passionate life and charismatic figure remembered as both cinematic genius and conflicted soul. Never before have I seen a movie featuring a hero as charming and unlikable who has triumphed and failed in so many arenas. But it's the grace with which he's portrayed that brought me (literally) to tears. Downey Jr. is absolutely riveting, highlighting some of his dance experience and that wonderful ability to make people laugh. The rest of the cast is perfect, of course, and Attenborough really hits the sweet spot, taking unusual shots and making them unforgettable. While the plot is often slow, it's never boring and the philosophical conversations both said and unsaid are poignant and thoughtful. This is a wonderful tribute to a great film legend and MUST be seen by any and all film buffs!

Back to the Future
½

Just watched the entire thing finally... and it's too much damn fun. A fun, witty script and some well-placed goofery place this with some of the best family films out of the 80's. Fox is a little one-dimensional here, but then again, so are most characters, the exception being Glover's excellent rendition of a simpering dad-turned-teenager-turned-dad. And the music - classic stuff. The plot is familiar while tending to avoid most cliches, giving it that oldie-but-goodie feel people love. And that ending... 200 students freezing outdoors in front of a screen cheered. A little too much fluff and "moral" to give it 5 stars, but this is still a definite classic.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
½

In the darkest of the original trilogy, Lucas's ingenuity continues to entertain and amaze. This film took more risks in going deeper in terms of plot and characterization, throwing in some cliches that you hardly notice among the spectacle. "I love you." "I know." Figure THAT, Mr. Pointy Ears. While the cheese only gets in the way once where I invariably lose it ("NOOOOOOWWAAAAHHHOOO!"), this is still a great film and a perfect prep for the best in the series.

The Sixth Sense

Positively chilling. I was pleasantly surprised when I decided to rent this alone one rainy night. The real fun part of this film is the little nuances you miss until you've seen it twice. Kudos to all the actors for great ensemble and solo work and also to the SFX department for keeping it real and tactful. It's in my library, and it should be in yours!

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

The epic finale of this legendary trilogy certainly doesn't disappoint. This sees the best work Lucas has done in the series, combining action sequences, character development, plot points... often at the same time. The delivery is practically flawless on every front, special kudos to McDiarmid for his spookiest work. While I wasn't at all pleased with the "revised" ending including Christensen (my least favourite actor to date), I'll hold the original, old effects and all, close to my heart.

High School Musical

What can I say? The only redeeming feature I can see is the snappy choreography. The acting is completely overblown, the music is sickeningly cliched, and the storyline is both boring and tedious. In my opinion, the word "Musical" should be stripped from the title - it's a disgrace to the excellent ones out there.

Transformers
Transformers(2007)
½

I'm glad I went! This was a really great, really fun romp spiked with witty one-liners and a healthy dose of adult humour. LaBeouf is really coming into his own - I was impressed with his comedic timing especially. All in all, definitely recommended.

Less Than Zero

A fantastically depressing film highlighting the excess of the 80's. I can see why this was Downey Jr.'s big break - he steals every scene he's in, taking more risks and going deeper than any one else. The character's arc was played so flawlessly, I cried, laughed, and felt breathtaking despair just when I was supposed to. That being said, the other performances are just "good" and the script lags at certain points, covering the same material needlessly. However, this is a great heartstring-puller (if only due to one character) and highly recommended.

Natural Born Killers
½

A wonderfully sadistic, pessimistic view of the media and violence. While brutal, the violence never seems too gory - just realistic. Major kudos here to Harrelson, Lewis, and Downey Jr. (of course <3) for pulling off some bad-ass characters with depth and grit. Brilliant stuff. In terms of direction, this is a masterpiece, in my humble opinion. The melodramatic lighting, the ridiculously weird backdrops... pitch perfect. It leaves you with a permanent "WTF?!" written on your face. I could have done with a little less raciness and a little more political edge, but that's a personal preference. This belongs in your DVD library 5 minutes ago.

Penelope
Penelope(2006)
½

A fun fantasy that's a little too heavy on the moral. Ricci is mostly wasted here with little/no development and McAvoy does a bang-up job. The pacing is uneven, but the character spotlight moments make up for it - Dinklage steals ever scene he's in. Worth a rent.

Weird Science

Wow. The excess of the 80's... Anyway, the story of the two geeks who create the uber-woman is often charming, often amusing, and often cringe-worthy. LeBrock is stunning and smart in a strange role and our heroes are painfully cute. However, the misplaced music, odd SFX, and awkward acting moments drag this to the B-list. It was odd to see a 20-something Downey Jr. in one of the least inspired moments of his career. Thank God for Iron Man or you'd never know...

Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia!(2008)

I love musicals. Seriously. Truly, madly, deeply, I love musicals. But this one is a bit of a dive from the ones I've seen recently (Spamalot, Young Frankenstein, etc.). The enthusiasm, while commendable, is totally over-the-top and chokingly sweet. Streep does what she can with the little space and script she's given while Brosnan's singing facial expressions are snigger-worthy. Still, the songs are incredibly catchy and the singing is usually okay. The direction was also very odd with incomprehensible use of slow-mo and fuzzy close-ups. Mind you, it's hard to compare this to the stage production with fabulous dancers and singers. As far as I'm concerned, it may have been better that it stayed that way.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Wow. What a bore-fest. I quite liked The Mummy Returns what with its quirky humour and snappy dialogue. Neither of which this has. It doesn't really have anything, honestly. The acting was mediocre at best, with Bello at her worst as an anemically simpering heroine. The SFX are hardly passable and the plot is positively predicatble. Character development is pretty much nil with the occasional emotionally honest moment being ruined by a) Maria Bello, b) a barfing yak, or c) Maria Bello. A fantastic waste of film - do yourself a favour and rent The Mummy Returns again instead.

The Orphanage
½

Very odd, very creepy. Just when you think you've got the mystery figured out, they throw something unexpected at you, which is the real strong point here. The direction is usually impeccable, though the editing makes it feel hours long. It was almost Blade-Runner-ish in the choices made such as pointing out an obvious symbol. "Look at the lighthouse. Looooook. It's a symbol. Look some mooooore." Gah. Anyway, the acting was quite well done and the scary moments were well-spaced and effective. An interesting horror-mystery mix.

Swing Vote
Swing Vote(2008)
½

Better than I anticipated. While still not up to my (admittedly high) standards of political humour, I did laugh quite hard a few times. The poignant moments came as a bit of a surprise in their honesty and bittersweetness, thanks to an amazing Carroll in a stellar debut. I did find it decidedly difficult to identify with a protagonist I didn't like, however well Costner plays him. The overall story arch also suffered due to some choppy editing and the ending... Bleh. I thought of a better one the second it was over, but they wouldn't pay me the big bucks. ;)

Gothika
Gothika(2003)
½

Very creepy stuff. And that's pretty much it. Berry and Downey Jr. do wonders with what they're given, but it's not much. The plot is completely confused in terms of tone and message and I was pretty sick of waiting for the blond chick to jump at me. Some of it worked, a lot didn't. Still, one for the late-night renters.

Hancock
Hancock(2008)

Loverly SFX, but mostly confused plot. Smith and Theron do what they can with such a goofy storyline, but the final kicker is what kills what could have been a good movie on an interesting premise.

21
21(2008)

Highly entertaining, if somewhat predictable. The cast is first-rate, though many of the supporting cast members are wasted. The story does follow a familiar formula, but throws in a couple twists and an interesting premise to help you forget. All in all, recommended as a renter.

The Dark Knight
½

Another slam-dunk in the spanking new series. This features some of the moral wanderings and wonderings seen in Batman Begins, one of my favourite features. As well, the action sequences are stunning in every respect from the timing to the nifty tricks to the "wow-factor" explosions. Special kudos to newcomers in the cast, especially Ledger and Gyllenhaal, for giving depth and realism to their characters. This is true more so of the Joker than anyone. I have such respect for the actor that can take such a comical, easily over-the-top character and take it to darker levels and more realistic roots. Well done, Heath. And it doesn't hurt that he has some of the best lines in the film... Another nod to the fantastic direction and photography. The plot was somewhat unneccesarily involved for me, but that's a matter of opinion. Essentially, the morality play is the center of the story and is completely engrossing. A classic crime tragedy in a fantastic series.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Hellboy 2)

Entertaining. This one tends to avoid the nasty pitfalls of action for action's sake while adding the occasional moment of depth. Often, it fails at this, but the light at the end of the tunnel is promising. I also had a problem with the character development. While interesting and cute... Hellboy doesn't really have much part in it. Anyway, the storyline is generally fresh and the humour is effective, for me, anyway. Worth a look.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Meh. I didn't get to see this in 3D but I was still rolling my eyes at the cheap tricks. Let me blooooow this dandelion at the camera. Jeez. The story was pretty much formula and the acting no better than par for the course. Flow was pretty awful and special effects were passable. A renter for sure (if your eardrums can withstand Fraser screaming "SEAAAAAAAAAN!" repeatedly).

Hellboy
Hellboy(2004)
½

An interesting concept and fantastic vision in terms of direction, but the story tends to fall flat. Lots of entertaining one-liners in the script department plus some very cool characters, played by a wonderful cast. Then again, despite the fantasy-against-grittiness feel, it fails to deliver on the reality. Still, worth watching.

Mission: Impossible
½

A snappy, fast-paced action flick for the decade. And that MUSIC... oi vei, it's amazing. Cruise delivers the angst and the toughness of Ethan Hunt to a T, with the supporting cast giving a phenomenal performance. There was never a dull moment here, though the plot tended to get rushed in places. And the action sequences... wow. From the train to CIA headquarters, everything was pitch-perfect. A must-have for every collection.

Wanted
Wanted(2008)
½

An interesting piece with plenty of surprises and twists. The action sequences are breathtaking and just gory enough to be edgy but not overly disgusting. However, it tends to fall into the pitfalls so often frequented by its familiars, such as not giving enough time for character development and change. The focus is all on the beginning and end product, which is why films like The Lord of the Rings are so successful - they give the reins over to the actor and give them the space and time for character change. Anyway, it was still well-shot and well-edited. Good for that night out with buddies.

WALL-E
WALL-E(2008)

What a fantastic film, start to finish. Often poignant and thoughtful, very funny, and so rich in its detail and exploration of a future Earth. Wall-E is a completely lovable hero - and I love the school of thought here that one life can be the catalyst for a new world and a new way of thinking. All the characters are weighted perfectly and the visuals are expertly done from the arid 2700-Earth to the artificial sweetness of Axiom. This film brings much honesty and insight into human behaviour and lifestyle while sprinkling it with fantasy and a touch of hope. The must-see of the year - another Pixar classic!

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
½

WOW! What a snappy, fun flick. Every cast member nails their role, special kudos to Downey Jr. for his impeccable comedic timing. The directing style is simultaneously fresh and nostalgic, with lots of nods to the familiar cliches of the old-school detective genre. The plot moved a bit too fast for me to absorb everything, but the hectic pace only added to the ride. With lots of twists and an entertaining narrator (wink), this is a must-see!

Iron Man
Iron Man(2008)

What a blast! This film does what few action movies can - balance SFX with humanity. Downey Jr. does an excellent job in the transformation of Stark from a self-serving billionaire to a defender of the defenseless. His comedic timing is impeccable and the script is relatively snappy. There's plenty of popcorn fun here mixed with modern-day issues and political flavours, giving the audience a memorable thrill-ride. A must-see!

Get Smart
Get Smart(2008)

Very nicely done, mature comedy. I must admit, I wasn't prepared at all for the adult content thanks to decieving marketing. Still, Carell is right on target as Max and Hathaway is relatively good as 99. The nods to the TV series were entertaining, though continuity sometimes suffered for it. Some action moments were breathtaking, while others were rather tame, unfortunately. Still, the one-liners are usually great and most actors are spot-on for their comedic timing. Worth seeing.

Batman Begins

Wow, what a completely surprising, thoughtful film. The philosophical element took me completely by surprise, mixed evenly with spectacular, thrilling action sequences. Bale is commendable, accompanied by a first-rate cast, Neeson and Caine of note. The message was meaningful, the characters memorable, and the ending a great taster of what is to come. Congratulations on a film that puts other superhero movies to shame. (And I doubt I'll ever see another fickle Spider-Man movie the same way.)

Mean Girls
Mean Girls(2004)
½

Extremely unrealistic, not even a little funny. Plus Lohan. Nuff said.

The Matrix
The Matrix(1999)
½

The Wachowski brothers' vision is pitch-perfect here. This stunning CGI-fest has become legendary, hampered only by Reeves bland performance, as usual.

Bruce Almighty

Quite generic, but spiced with some genuinely funny moments.

School of Rock

A charming, fresh comedy featuring the ever over-the-top Black. But here, it really works.

Meet the Fockers

The premise is cheesy, the script is pretty lame, and the comedy is extremely low-brow. Bleh.

Shrek 2
Shrek 2(2004)

Though not as fresh as the original, it serves up some genuinely funny moments with some great new additions to the cast.

Shrek the Third

Definitely not as good as the first two. Sure, it had the occasional good laugh, but the script was absolutely pathetic and weak... not to mention the glaringly obvious, signposting MORAL. Timberlake surprised me - it was pretty decent... if his lines hadn't been so drab. Still, fun for the kiddies and worth a laugh or two.

Spider-Man
Spider-Man(2002)
½

A great origins story, kudos to Dunst for a sensitive performance. A little cliched at times, but the special effects are excellent.

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2(2004)

An excellent villain saves some over-the-top performances and a slightly soggy script.

King Kong
King Kong(2005)
½

A visual feast, although extremely lengthy. Great performances all around, and another great directing feat by Jackson.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
½

A disappointment. Not only was the script as lame as Episode II, Christensen continues his one-dimensional, appalling performance. Thank God for Christopher Lee and Yoda.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

A true masterpiece of filmmaking. The directing is flawless, the special effects are incredible, and each actor gives the performance of his or her lives. Breathtaking.

Kung Fu Panda

Genuinely (surprisingly) good! This fun flick takes the cliches of the genre and twists them, intertwining each one to create a great sense of flow and unity. Special kudos to Hoffman; he really nails this one on the head. The opening sequence was excellent and the special effects were usually nice. Some misplaced hoke kills the finale, but a great movie for kids and adults.

The Incredible Hulk
½

A visual feast, although somewhat lacking in the character development department. I felt like Banner didn't actually do any changing until the very last shot. Still, Norton does extremely well, aided by a decent (if somewhat one-dimensional) backup cast. The action sequences were incredible, no doubt about it - well-paced, well-detailed, and appropriate for each scene's arc. However, where the film falls apart is in the overarching storyline. It feels like a mashing together of "character moments" and individual scenes while not giving a general sense of flow. There are also a couple of plot holes and questions, but nothing major. But I have to say... it's worth seeing just for the very last scene. My geek heart skipped a beat - and that's all I'll say. :D

Death at a Funeral
½

Wow, what a gem. Kudos to all players involved here from the excellent, snappy script to the pitch-perfect comedic timing to the good pacing and development. The ending was a little anti-climactic and some jinks were a little over-the-top, but the situational comedy was insanely hysterical. Recommended to anyone who needs a good laugh.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Well, well, well... Indiana Jones... I always knew you'd come walking back into my theatre.
(SPOILERS AHOY!) First and foremost, kudos to the entire cast and their excellent performances. Ford as dead-pan as ever, Allen still firey and radiant, and LaBeouf showing some surprising depth and range. The plot was somewhat predictable, but not without some twists. The ending may be a little chintzy, but aren't all the films? (i.e. riding high in the saddle) Personally, I don't have a problem with the aliens. They've done a lot with religious artifacts, so it's rather refreshing, actually. The stunts and chases were thrilling, with the monkey scene trying a bit too hard. The pace was a little slower than I'd have liked, but the Indy-Mutt bond really kept it grounded and interesting. I just don't understand what fans are bemoaning. Of course it's not Raiders. This is a new Indy for a new era, and it handles the change with maturity, as seen in the great Cold War scenes. Indy's all grown up. But some griping fans apparantly fail to do so.
A great, fun flick for everybody. A must-see!!!

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
½

A great, emotionally satisfying adventure. Though somewhat long, the pace is generally good with lots of visuals to keep you interested. Performances are still commendable and I felt more emotionally invested in the characters this time around. Dare I say it, I even cried. However, I couldn't help but draw far too many parallels to the Lord of the Rings trilogy in terms of visuals and moral themes. Still, very well done, recommended to everyone except young kids, who might be frightened by the more mature themes.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

A great tribute to Lewis's classic. I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle played against the quieter, more human (I use that term loosely :D) moments. Great performances all around, special kudos to Neeson, McAvoy, Swinton, and Georgie Henley. The visuals were great and the storyline is classic. A must-have for everyone's collection.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Not too dazzling. It inexplicably harps on the depressing nature of death and being a loner. The character development is completely missing and the performances are only okay, with the exception of Portman, who grounds the whole thing. Not particularly recommended.

Dan in Real Life

A charming, yet somewhat sluggish real-life film. Carell does admirably and some scenes are precious, but the film never seems to take off in terms of pacing or character development. Still, a movie for a free night.

When Harry Met Sally
½

Loved it. I just loved it. The characters were unique and always compelling, thanks to some great performances by the whole cast. The script was also very well done - it took the classic romantic comedy bits and transformed them into something poignant. I found myself being swept up in the story, the pace was so lovely. A must-see for everyone!

Spaceballs
Spaceballs(1987)
½

A satirical masterpiece. I love Star Wars, don't get me wrong, but Mel Brooks takes everything even remotely ridiculous and makes it hilarious! Wasn't really impressed by Candy's performance, and the script did lag in some spots, but the humour throughout was witty and sometimes pee-your-pants funny, especially for a Star Wars lover like myself. Well done!

Disturbia
Disturbia(2007)
½

A surprisingly good thriller. While somewhat slow, LaBeouf does very well in terms of holding up the show. The villain is far too one-dimensional to be believable (or scary), but the concept is fine. Worth watching.

A Clockwork Orange

A masterpiece of uber-creepiness and futuristic disturbance. Kudos to the whole cast for fantastic performances as well as set designers for the not-too-futuristicness. The script was generally well-written and some of the imagery is completely unforgettable. Not quite as exciting as it should have been, it was still a great film. A classic for anybody's collection.

Sin City
Sin City(2005)

Wow! What a visual feast, full of spectacular effects and deep inner meanings. The performances are excellent all around (with the exception of Alba who comes across extremely flat) with special kudos to Willis and Dawson. And who knew Elijah Wood was a ninja in his spare time? ;) Very well done, recommended to anyone.

Live Free or Die Hard

Ooh! Aah! Whoa! This was filled with plenty of those... and not much else. I really prefer the human, vulnerable McClane to this mechanical, hardened one. The plot is fair, but most of the one-liners fall flat. Still, worth watching if you have a couple hours to kill.

King of California
½

A fun, bittersweet journey. Wood comes across a little flat, but Douglas gives a great performance as her crazy dad. The plot is just as wild, and there's just something of the little kid in us that wishes we could search for buried treasure, too.

The Invisible

A passable concept turns into a bit of a disaster thanks to some less-than-shining acting. Trying to be high art here comes out looking a little childish.

Step Up
Step Up(2006)

A couple stars for excellent choreographing and dance talent. Otherwise, a somewhat lame script, a completely unlikable main character, and far too much teen angst drags this into the "wasted time" pile.

27 Dresses
27 Dresses(2008)

Nothing special here, but a solid performance by Heigl. Charming idea but a bit of a lame script, Marsden as charming as ever. Nothing to write home about.

Across the Universe
½

I understand that the intention was to keep the feel psychadelic, but after a while it felt a little self-indulgent. Revelling in its weirdness, so to speak. Still, the music is timeless and all the actors put up a great show with some awesome pipes to boot.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Very well done. Depp surprised me - he nearly has the pipes for this, a big accomplishment for someone with no training. Mind you, I still wish they'd picked a real baritone, but never mind. But I DID have an issue with Bonham Carter. I'm sorry, if you nominate someone for best actress in a MUSICAL/comedy, make sure she can sing. The wimpy whispering is not how I pictured the ever-practical Mrs. Lovett. Baron Cohen is a hoot; I loved every second he was on screen. Our young Anthony and Johanna were younger than I pictured, but it worked well. The vision is monochromatic with spatters of red, very Burton. The gore was a little excessive for my taste, however. And I was very disappointed that they cut the Ballad - it really set the scene for me. Overall, a great picture, and a great musical.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

What a brilliant production - the set, the cast, and that music... The Ballad of Sweeney Todd is one song I will never forget. For me, it lost a star for a completely annoying Johanna, not innocent and sweet. It distracted me that much. But Lansbury and Hearn and brilliant. Kudos all around!

Juno
Juno(2007)
½

Wow! Page puts on a marvelous performance thanks to a snappy, cute, witty, and often bittersweet script. Every character is developed and realistic, and the plot is, on the surface, simple, but intrinsically complex. Bravo!

The Dark Crystal

I give this one 3 for the great vision and fantastic environments. However, this also has to be one of the slowest-moving movies I've seen in a very long time. Too bad, Oz is a real genius with puppetry - they're gorgeous. But that doesn't really help with the unfinished side-plots or the simplistic story. Still, worth watching.

Shattered (Butterfly on a Wheel)

A decent thriller with a big name holding the money together... and not much else. I was slightly disappointed with Brosnan - don't get me wrong, it was commendable, but it got a little monotonous. The final twist was pretty good but somewhat predictable. Good for a renter.

Singin' in the Rain

Easily one of my favorite movies of all time. The humour is quick and cutting with plenty of side-splitting moments. Credit not only goes to each individual performance, all of which are superb, but also to the ensemble. Every actor clicks perfectly into his niche, creating a colourful, vibrant cast. The music is unforgettable and the choreography is lively and fresh. I can't say enough about this fantastic film.

Knocked Up
Knocked Up(2007)

Sometimes hilarious, sometimes just a bunch of slurs and swears lined up in a row. The improv was great, however, and the characters were superb. I felt I could relate to each side of the gender fence, which is constantly played on. Still, I think they could have toned down the profanities and explicitness and kept it funny.

P.S. I Love You
½

I love Gerry, really, but this was not a great one for him. The plot tended to wander a LOT in the middle, which completely undermined any emotional connection to Swank's character. After a while, you DO wish she would stop MOPING and get ON with her life. Which is not the intention. Ah well. We love you anyway, Gerry. ;)

I Am Legend
I Am Legend(2007)

I have to agree with the critics on this one. Will Smith puts on a very good show and does a great job of holding it together all on his own. Some scenes are particularly intense - I was shaking and crying during one in his lab (won't ruin it for anyone). Kudos there. Otherwise, all the "cheap tricks", as they've been coined, are far too many and obvious. If one more butt-ugly monster was gonna jump out at me, I was gonna puke. For me, that ruined a lot of the scenes. Still, the essence of the film was fairly solid with its roots in modern science. Better luck next time.

The Golden Compass
½

Very nice. The SFX were slick, but it felt like they weren't the focus. I'm especially fond of the daemons - the switching that goes on is subtle and each daemon has a natural character. The acting was very nice; Kidman is fairly creepy yet stunningly beautiful, but it feels like Craig doesn't have nearly enough screen tme to warrant a big pic to himself. I have to say, the ending was quite disappointing.
(SPOILERS AHEAD)
The cliffhanger was justified, I suppose, but I didn't see any problem with taking it to the length of the novel - it would have still been a cliffhanger, but at least there was a sense of completion of this leg of the journey. I know they shot it, according to the trailers - why didn't they use it?

The Terminator
½

I was extremely disappointed with this. I remember watching Terminator 2 as a little kid and very much enjoying it, but this is inexcusable. The SFX were decent, but the plot was extremely disjointed and seemed derived. A guy falling in love with a woman he's never met... from the past? Gimme a break. I can deal with a lot of sci fi, but this is too much. Plus the ending was a little too Chucky-esque for my taste. I'll try to get a hold of T2 so the Terminator franchise doesn't leave such a bad taste in my mouth.

Enchanted
Enchanted(2007)

A surprising fun romp. Although the audience is sometimes left wondering if the cutsey-pie stuff is for real or just a giant joke, the premise is entertaining enough. Idina Menzel's cameo was a lovely surprise, as was Adams' voice. The best thing about this film was seeing old-school Disney animation for the first time in a LONG time. The performances were usaully quite good, and Giselle's transformation was subtly done and handled very well. You'll smile for an hour after you watch this! Recommended.

Bee Movie
Bee Movie(2007)

What could have been a cliched, nonsensical disaster surprised me. It usually avoided any oversimplification and typical plot structure, but this also made it feel quite uneven at some points. And there`s just something disturbing about a bee having a romantic relationship with a florist... Still, the voice acting was commendable and the visuals fun and colourful. There was plenty of humour in for the big kids to make this a great family flick everyone will enjoy.

Children of Men
½

Brilliant stuff. Due to some techincal issues, I missed a lot of the dialogue, but what I saw was raw, real, and very nice. The direction (in my infinite experience, of course) was fantastic - every shot was gritty and perfectly timed. Owen and Caine are the real sparks here with Moore making a strong appearance. VERY well done, reccommended to anyone.

Howl's Moving Castle

Wow, I'm impressed. As with a lot of the movies I see now that I'm at university, the quality of the video was a little shabby, but the story still strikes hard. Thanks to some colourful voice acting, this unique cartoon really grabbed my attention from the get-go. The imagery is striking and the animation is top-notch. It was a little bit of a rough intro to such a strange idea, but it grows on you. The script usually steered clear of most cliches, but was not always successful, especially in the script. Still, the characters are likable and fresh and the action is fast-paced and fun. Great for the whole family.

Surf's Up
Surf's Up(2007)
½

I listed this one as "Not Interested', but I'm happy to announce that I was mostly mistaken. This is a fun kids' flick that holds some appeal to the older crowd in the form of great comedic timing and voice acting. LaBeouf brings teenage wile and spirit to what could have been a run-of-the-mill performance, with Deschanel and Woods bringing extra colour. There were some all-too-familiar cliches (how many times must we endure the Pirates/Madagascar style cannibals?!) and tired-and-true formulas (i.e. the washed-out champ returning to glory through a youngster) but it feels fresh. On the whole, this was much more fun than it should have been.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Hanky, anyone? I must admit, outside influences (aka noisy neighbours) prevented me from keeping up with the plot at the beginning, but I think my view is fairly accurate. Hepburn is fabulous as the melodramatic, confused, life escape-artist. The plot, though slightly predictable, is emotionally gripping, and you find yourself identifying with Holly, odd as she is, on more than one level. Who doesn't wish for another life? Who doesn't wish they could pack up and be anyone they wanted? The angst was definitely played up, perhaps a tad too much so, but was nonetheless effective. A classic for any collection. P.S. - (When did they have breakfast at Tiffany's?) ;D

Blade Runner
Blade Runner(1982)

Symbolic, deeply intelligent, morally intriguing... but my goodness, oh-so strange. It felt somewhat belittling when they give you extra time as if to say, "Here's a symbol, moron, if you didn't catch that 3 scenes ago." The performances are strong all around with kudos to Hauer. However, the average viewer (i.e. me) needs to be fed a few more hints as to the deeper meaning of many of the plot points - they were very much left to interpretation. The message was somewhat confused and ambiguous with 4 or 5 images coming across instead of 1 clear one. However, the visuals are nice and the mood is perfectly set with some uber-creepy moments to boot. Overall, fairly well-done, just a little over my head.

Rock-a-Doodle

A fun, made-for-TV kid's classic, at least for me. If you can find it, it's a fun romp - definitely a throwback. ;)

3:10 to Yuma
3:10 to Yuma(2007)

A fantastic welcome-back to great Westerns. Crowe puts up a superb performance as a wily, yet strangely animalistic criminal. Oscars on the horizon? We'll see... Bale also holds his own as the strong-willed, morally-resilient rancher dad. The plot is rich in intense moments both visually and emotionally. The moral plot is complex and intelligent, and, ultimately, very tragic. A must-see for every movie-goer!

Blood Diamond
½

Very nicely done, though the version I saw had very poor graphics, so the fast-paced sections were choppy and hard to follow. DiCaprio and Hounsou put up very strong performances, though the vulnerability in each seemed a little forced for a moment or two. Again, the poor quality I saw made the plot a little difficult to follow, so I can't really comment on that. Connelly was decent, nothing Oscar-worthy, but still decent. The action sequences were well-told and used as part of the plot and character development instead of action strictly for the sake of action. Overall, very impressive.

Inside Man
Inside Man(2006)
½

Riveting plot and razor-sharp acting make this a definte keeper. Owen had the perfect touch of creep, genius, and cool-handed criminal. Mixed with plenty of smart, plot-oriented action and lots of A-list actors, it's the perfect formula for a great thriller.

Dinosaur
Dinosaur(2000)

Watching this again years after my first time, I was shocked at the CG quality of this film. I had to look again to see that this really came out 7 years ago, when films today like Hoodwinked are lightyears away from the layering and detailed texturing. Some bits and pieces tend to drag, but the performances are generally heartfelt and believable, given you buy into talking dinosaurs. ;)

Die Hard 2
Die Hard 2(1990)
½

While another testosterone-stuffed romp, this was a little too reminiscent of the first for me to give it any more credit. Willis continues his commendable performance, but his panic and realistic bits seem a little tired and overused. Again, great FX and a gripping story to the last.

Stardust
Stardust(2007)

A fun ride from start to finish! It avoids most of the pitfalls that fantasies often fall into, positively bursting with surprises and twists. The star-studded cameos all added some extra glitter, and Cox makes a convincing debut. De Niro was an especial treat. The action is very glossy and the effects somewhat familiar. Very enjoyable and a crowd-pleaser.

Saving Private Ryan
½

Very gritty, very emotionally enthralling. I can't find one performance that I didn't thoroughly enjoy and Hanks's final scene even made me cry for the first time in a while. The filming was very nice, giving everything a nasty edge and sense of vulnerability and intimacy with the soldiers. Why would a stellar film lose half a star? Just as a personal preference, it was a little too grisly for me. I understand the motivation and purpose, but it was often a tad distracting from following the characters. Overall an absolutely stellar film and worthy of a place of honour in any collection.

Fracture
Fracture(2007)

Very interesting, but, like I said, somewhat redundant for anyone who's seen the creepy Hopkins before. The plot is very nice and neat with plenty of great twists.... but it seemed to be missing something for me. For once, I couldn't tell you what it was, maybe I was a little tired or bored with whatever. But it lacked that shine that I was hoping for.

The Man Who Knew Too Much

A Hitchcock classic. Despite the somewhat shabby sound, the plot was crackling with tension, even if Banks wasn't. The British personas tended to curb the emotional heights with their dry, somewhat stoic mannerisms. However, there were some geniune moments where I gasped, winced, and kept my eyes glued to the screen. Kudos!

The Bourne Ultimatum
½

Excellent film! Having never seen Identity, I was pleased to find I wasn't completely lost. The plot was instantly clear, and the characters' roles obvious. The action was very commendable, kudos to Damon for not falling into the macho-action-man trap and showing some genuine vulnerability. This one's a keeper!

Die Hard
Die Hard(1988)

WOW!!! It's been a while since I've experienced an action flick with so much character and unpredictability. The personalities were vivid and fresh and the script was zingy, never mind the cursing. Willis really convinced me and Rickman was brilliant as usual, except... okay, what was up with the weird accent? Is he British? Is he German? I think I could sum this up in one Die Hard phrase: "Yippie kay yay, mother..." em, father.

Bridge to Terabithia

Much more faithful to the novel than the previews show. Robb brings a great spark of innocence and wisdom to her role - very effective. However, the plot is extremely uneven and loses a sense of flow. The CG creatures are reasonably done, but aren't really showcased until the end, keeping the fantasy element in check. Never been a fan of the book, but still worth watching.

The Last Mimzy
½

The beginning is quite riveting, but the mystery of Mimzy turns out to be the best part. The solution is a bit cliched and the film becomes a little too interested in being politically correct and give a hey-kids-save-the-environment message. Even this is lost sometimes when the plot gets uneccessarily complicated without giving the audience a heads-up. Still, the FX are very nice, especially watch for the sound FX - ethereal yet natural.

The Running Man
½

Starts as a cool sci-fi thriller, but becomes a little too interested in its political messages.

Meet the Robinsons

What starts as a cute adventure of a kid trying to find his past turns into a somewhat overly-complicated, not-so-funny kiddie ride.

Man of the Year

This film starts with absolute hilarity and barbed political jokes. However, it then tries to become a drama... and a thriller... and a romantic comedy... Good, but a little too much for just one film. The ending is only slightly satisfying - a lot more (and less) could have been done here.

The Mummy
The Mummy(1999)
½

Not sure why I rated this before I saw it... anyway, this was a fun flick full of really great SFX. I was a little distracted at first - this is not the G-rated Fraser I was used to. It fell into a Indiana Jones-type story after a while and tried a little too hard for those quick one-liners. Still, a good movie worthy of any collection.

Hairspray
Hairspray(2007)
½

The most fun you'll have this summer!!! Right from it's toe-tappin' intro to the cutesy emotional stories, it's a great film. Travolta is a little distracting, but Blonsky is proving herself to be a star to match the ones around her. The ironic up-beat music coupled with the heavy message is sensitively handled - bravo!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

My fav of the 3 Jones films, mostly due to the fabulous, sharp script and Sean Connery's great comedic performance. Sure, the Nazis are definitely old hat when it comes to action-adventure, but it still gives you that savage pleasure to see them get what's coming to them. ;)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

For reasons I can't quite explain, I was a little disappointed in this one. The pace did lag a little and the story is somewhat fickle - save the girl and the little kids from the evil cannibal tyrants. Riiiiiight. Still, definitely worth adding to the collection.

The Village
The Village(2004)

The first half was absolutely intriguing. Do yourself a favour: skip the last half and make up your own ending. It's bound to be more satisfying and surprising than what is delivered here.

Gladiator
Gladiator(2000)
½

From the opening moments, I was slightly bored with the endless violence. It was stylish, it was polished, but it tended to rely heavily on the SFX. Still, Crowe gives a great performance and gives real-life grit and simplicity to some of the more flowery lines. Overall, well done.

Flight of the Phoenix

It would be far more interesting if I actually CARED about any of the characters' fate. However, Ribisi was absolutely entrancing as the quirky engineer/designer. Prepare to crack up during a 2-minute shouting match.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
½

VERY nicely done, indeed! The fact that the film moved along at a fair clip is a nod at the writers who had the monumental task of condensing nearly 800 pages to less than 2 1/2 hours. Fiennes is still creepy, and the trio are showing some real depth and emotional honesty now - this one's a keeper, fellas.

Bowling for Columbine
½

Very insightful and witty with more than a small dose of sarcasm and pathos.

Fahrenheit 9/11

What I originally thought to be a thought-provoking joyride at the expense of the Bush administration turned out to be one man's rant, drawing many incorrect conclusions from incorrect facts. I spoke with a gentleman in the oil and gas business, who shot down each and every point I brought up. It makes me wonder how much bias he brought to Bowling for Columbine.

Once Upon a Forest

Oi vei. The animation is fairly shoddy, mixed with a mind-numbing script and Michael Crawford's RIDICULOUS "r"-rolling = avoid if at all possible.

Stargate
Stargate(1994)

A great sci-fi romp featuring some fun characters, though a fairly simple story. It was a bit of a bummer for me... I had no subtitles that I had the feeling were supposed to be there, so I admit that I missed a lot. Still, definitely worth a rent.

Ratatouille
Ratatouille(2007)
½

Lovable and entertaining. Brad Bird hatches another success, with quirky characters and a smart, witty storyline. Ladies and gentlemen, it's been a while since we saw a 3D kids show this good.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie
½

Pathetic, really. The fighting is somewhat buyable, but the plot moves at a snail's pace.

Evan Almighty
½

Formulaic, but some entertaining moments thanks to Carell and Freeman.

Spirited Away

Very odd, but very interesting. I suppose I would probably understand it a little better if I knew more about Japanese culture. Still, the animation is beautiful and the story is compelling.

Thirteen Days
½

Fantastic film, positively engrossing. Being Canadian, it was very interesting to really get inside the minds of the leaders that helped steer the world from nuclear war. Greenwood gives a strong, dignified performance worth noting. Definitely recommended, just make sure you're prepared to think.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Somewhat complicated, but a good romp. Depp's Captain Jack seemed a bit overwrought this time around, but Bill Nighy was mesmerizing as Davy Jones. The things the man can do with his eyes... Visuals very nice once again, but the Kraken song-and-dance got a bit old after the first, oh, ten times.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End

Nicely done, keeps you giggling and gasping. The visuals were absolutely spectacular and every scene with Bill Nighy (and/or his octopus-ish counterpart) had me glued to the screen. However, it was needlessly complicated and involved and the ending was a bit unfulfilling. No offense guys, but I came to see a Disney movie and I want to see a sappy happy ending, dammit!

Babel
Babel(2006)

Hmmm.... sorry, excuse me, I'm still figuring this one out.

Music and Lyrics
½

A relatively dull script and absolutely no momentum bring down this otherwise endearing comedy. Grant and Barrymore's characters are good, but often very 2D. It's extremely choppy and abrupt, but still okay to watch.

The Holiday
The Holiday(2006)

Very enjoyable. Given, you have to be in the right mood to really appreciate it. Probably not a hit with the guys, but Winslet, Black, and Law give fairly solid performances. Diaz comes off a little flighty and silly sometimes, but overall a heartstring-tugger.

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3(2007)

A good attempt. It was a good idea that was simply taken too far. The "dark" side of Peter Parker simply came across as silly and over-the-top. The action sequences were spectacular as usual, but the emotional story was fickle and cliche. Ah well. Better luck next time?

The Great Mouse Detective
½

HURRAH!!! This is one of the most ignored of the Disney classics and definitely one of my favourites. Vincent Price makes a beautiful Disney villain and the music (Mancini) is wonderful. Check this one out!

Life Is Beautiful (La Vita  bella)

EXCELLENT! An extremely touching movie full of stellar performances and stuffed with visual goodies. Benigni is absolutely riveting as Guido adding just the right amount of humour to the pathos. I don't care if you're a guy or girl, you WILL be touched by this movie. Fantastic!

TMNT
TMNT(2007)

Nicely done! One of the most entertaining flicks I've seen in a while. It was refreshing to revisit some of my favourite Saturday morning cartoon characters - just cooler. The plot is surprisingly complex for a kids' movie, but it works. The visuals are actually quite good (look for the battle in the rain - very nice). Honest opinion - if you care about the characters, it's great. And I do. So it was VERY enjoyable, definitely recommended.

Stranger Than Fiction

VERY funny, very original. Will Ferrell is completely convincing as an average joe and Emma Thompson is positively radiant as a half-crazy author. The plot moves along at a pretty good clip with lots of witty dialogue. The ending is satisfying, but a bit of a lose-lose situation from a critic's point of view. Well done all around.

Premonition
Premonition(2007)

Oh DEAR. Well, Bullock wasn't TERRIBLE, but for me, she wasn't a smidge believable, either. The idea is smart and could have been a cutting thriller, but the script lags and ultimately, the movie is rendered completely pointless by the ending. Really, the only interesting plot points were given away in the ads. Completely forgettable.

300
300(2007)
½

Good, good... The reviews I've read either love it or hate it... I'm somewhere in the middle. The visuals were absolutely stunning and stylish, and the music, though modern, did give it the edge it needed. However... it DID spend a little too much time on the fighting and not enough on character development. It was there, but in bits and pieces, not really enough for the actors to sink their teeth into. It was lovely to see Daisy Wenham and Gerry really bring power and grit to their characters. Overall, nicely done.

Misery
Misery(1990)

Delightfully creepy, Kathy Bates is a treat in this morbid thriller. I've never seen a movie truly do Stephen King's novels justice, but this one came the closest.

Employee of the Month
½

Oh DEAR. Here's 2 hours of my life I'll never get back. I was aghast at the God-awful script, and though Ms Simpson seems to give it a good effort, she's still as pitiful as ever. Good thing Dane Cook's cute, or this would have been a total waste of money.

Much Ado About Nothing
½

FANTASTIC! Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson shine as Benedick and Beatrice. Shakespeare is honoured perfectly in the stunning Tuscan landscape. Michael Keaton is a joy as the sheriff. It would have been perfect... if not for two actors: Keanu Reeves and Robert Sean Leonard. Reeves is totally monotone and boring. Leonard simply doesn't know how to deliver Shakespeare properly. Or act, for that matter. Still, 'tis but a tiny stain on that perfect page. Very, very good and highly recommended for those leerly of Shakespeare. This accessible film will have you rolling in the aisles.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

A fun fantasy from a fantastic novel. Luckily, it's well-cast, especially with Tom Felton who is positively oozing ego and evil. The film moves in leaps and bounds, but it's a great film for kids and is well worth watching.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

An improvement from Azkaban, though it does betray the book in some aspects, playing up the Hollywood moments, which is really too bad. The three leads are definitely coming into their own as actors, but have a ways to go yet. Ralph Fiennes is deliciously evil as Voldemort - his prescence is unmistakably powerful. Though some parts were cut, I would agree with most of them. Slightly overdone, but the initmate moments like the dance classes bring an earthiness to it. Now we await the next chapter...

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Interesting... it was my least favourite novel, but the film actually made me like it more. The effects are impressive and all the actors improving. Though some melodrama is present that neccesarily needn't be, it usually is a fun romp through Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Well, Radcliffe has some improving to do, but overall a fairly good flick. David Thewlis brings some fresh air to some of the stale bits, but the film moves along at a fairly good clip. Overall, a good effort that gives out a good film.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

A little odd... off the beaten path, to be sure, but is somewhat enjoyable. Jim Carrey opens up more to drama and usually pulls it off. Worth renting.

Little Miss Sunshine

A thoroughly enjoyable, fresh comedy. Abigail Breslin is a treat and Steve Carell shows some great versatility as the suicidal, gay uncle. It shines a painfully clear light on the vanity of today's society. Kudos to a crisp script, great acting, and hilarious plot.

Pan's Labyrinth
½

Fantastic! This is really a work of art, with its stunning visuals and gripping story. The actors are all compelling, and even the smaller parts make their definitive mark, which is rare. The subtitles were a little distracting, but not usually too much. The gore did seem a bit excessive, but it definitely made for a wonderful contrast to the fantasy world. Kudos to Guillermo del Toro for this ingenious idea. It's stuffed with imagery and symbolism if you were looking for it, so that was nicely done. The faun was an especially nice touch. Brava, mes amis!

Dreamgirls
Dreamgirls(2006)

Completely uneven and lopsided, but a good flick. Jennifer Hudson shines, but I still don't get what the big deal is about Eddie Murphy in this film. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised by Beyonce. She showed some real depth and honesty as an actress, so kudos. Visuals were spectacular, though some of the songs were a bit overwrought. Well done.

Night at the Museum

Very entertaining, though extremely formulaic. Ben Stiller didn't serve much up that was new, and same goes for Robin Williams. Still, it was a delight to see Mickey Rooney and Dick Van Dyke as villains! Somewhat insightful, and worth watching.

Eragon
Eragon(2006)

Though fairly uneven and (so I'm told) completely indifferent to the novels, this is an entertaining and fun flick. Excellent acting really saves the day here, especially in the forms of Jeremy Irons and the young Ed Speelers as Eragon. Though the script is a bit flighty (pardon the pun) the visuals are spectacular and the film sometimes accidentally hits upon very touching moments. Kudos to the cast! To the writers... better luck with the sequel...

Mission: Impossible III

Well, I can honestly say I was pleasantly suprised. Cruise actually puts out a very nice Ethan, adding some much needed vulnerability to the part. The supporting cast was definitely good, and Ving Rhames was perfect. However, Hoffman stole the show and turns out to be a very nice cold, calculating villain. His versatility astounds me. The visuals were great and the plot was easy to follow, if a bit predictable at times. A very well done flick and recommended - this one's a keeper!

Hamlet
Hamlet(1990)
½

Mel Gibson fails to hold up this wonderful play in a less-than-sparkling version. Oh come on, who are we kidding? After seeing the Laurence Olivier version, there really is no comparison. Still, the supporting actors hold their own, the scenery is spectacular, but Gibson sometimes goes too far and creates a rather melodramatic teenager, rather than a brooding intellectual. Still, Shakespeare's eloquence really comes through and saves the day, and Gibson does a fine job in the infamous "To be or not to be" speech.

Elf
Elf(2003)
½

I must confess, I'm not a particularly avid Will Ferrell fan, and yet... his demeanour is so perfectly childish and charming, I was completely won over from the get-go. Though Deschanel seems a little flat, James Caan adds the perfect bit of sarcasm to the kid humour. Come on, who wouldn't love Buddy? A modern twist on an age-old moral - highly recommended, one of the best Christmas movies ever!

The Illusionist

Surprisingly intelligent and witty flick. Minus the annoying mike that showed up for 5 minutes and Biel's lacklustre performance, it's a noteworthy piece. Paul Giamatti shines, once again showing off his complete understanding of complex characters. The plot is very intricate, but if you can keep up, the finale is worth every minute. Well done.

Edward Scissorhands

FANTASTIC!!! Honestly, I'm beginning to think Mr. Depp can do no wrong. This is a wonderfully moving, charming, and enlightening picture. Winona Ryder sometimes falls short of the mark, but otherwise, the acting is superb. The script is both funny and insightful and the visuals are completely Burton-esque, which really works here. Vincent Prince steals the spotlight and adds a splash of humour and sparkle to the plot. As the author once said, Edward Scissorhands is a fable. People may not necessarily believe it, but they understand it. VERY well done, a film masterpiece!

Labyrinth
Labyrinth(1986)

Good movie, though most of it seems like a David Bowie commercial. Coincidence? I think not. And when it's not, it's like the casting director is congratulating himself/herself on casting the beautiful Jennifer Connelly. Yeah, she's cute. Yeah, he's a pretty good singer. Let's get over ourselves, shall we?

Legend
Legend(1985)

Great fantasy classic. Tim Curry is delightfully evil as usual, though Tom Cruise comes across as shallow in comparison. Still, very entertaining and worth watching.

Sahara
Sahara(2005)

Unoriginal and rather dull for an action flick. Totally formulaic and doesn't bring anything new to the table except fresh explosions. Oh well, it's always nice to see William H. Macy.

Gattaca
Gattaca(1997)
½

Meaningful and thought-provoking. Science fiction is dished up with a new intelligent spin, full of suspense and depth. There are many great moments here I will never forget. Jude Law is an especial treat. Original and intriguing.

My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady(1964)

Bravo! Audrey Hepburn shines as Eliza Doolitte in this marvelous musical. The music is unforgettable and the characters colourful, not without a touch of romance and wit. Highly recommended!!!

Happy Feet
Happy Feet(2006)
½

A good movie made from good intentions. I must admit, I was a little disappointed. The film seemed to rely more on the visuals and so the plot sufferd, which seemed very disjointed and awkward. However, Hugh Jackman was a treat as Mumble's rock'n'roll dad and Robin Williams was hilarious as usual, but the rest of the cast seemed a little flat. Still, a great family flick especially if you've seen March of the Penguins. Recommended!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I LOVE Disney music! Honestly, though, the voice acting is superb and the great, moving plotline really move this to one of my Disney favs. It's surprising what an emotionally hard-hitting piece Disney can come up with. The cheesiness usually pervading in this style is completely absent, replaced with heart-felt song and believable characters with a witty, crisp script to boot. And come on, who wouldn't love Clopin? Brava!

The Road to El Dorado
½

Another one of my animated favs. The colourful characters and great soundtrack really drive this film forward. The script is witty and sharp with a dash of silly humour - just perfect for the whole family. All-in-all, a very enjoyable, very watchable, very fun movie.

The Producers
½

Very good... Gene Wilder is certainly amusing in this flick. Though not quite entertaining as the musical, still worth watching.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame II

Cute, but it seems most of the old charm is gone, replaced with more typical kiddy-style romance. Victor Hugo never meant for Quasimodo to have a girlfriend - that's what bugs me the most. I tried to watch it again to update my rating... I couldn't do it. After seeing the first, it was like sacrilige. The animation is just awful comparitavely, the music is cheesy beyond words and the script is totally lack-lustre. Unfortunate... the actors do what little they can, but it can't save this disappointing sequel.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Stunning visuals, swashbuckling, theivery, treachery, mutiny... oh, and did I mention cursed treasure? Disney takes a classic idea and really makes it shine in the epic flick. After all, this is the role that brought Johnny Depp into the public eye and kids' hearts. This one's a keeper!

Flushed Away
Flushed Away(2006)

A surprisingly good flick. McKellen and Serkis bring real colour to the voice acting, but overall I was quite impressed with the calibre. Like I say, A-listers aren't always very good voice actors, but I'm glad to report this one breaks the rules. And I mean, COME ON, who wouldn't love singing slugs? Here's to British humour at its finest.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

A real milestone in animation-live action shooting, it really pulls off a great show for entertainment. I mean, what can I say? As a little kid, I had nightmares about the villain for months.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
½

Such a holiday classic! I can have "You're a mean one, mister Grinch..." stuck in my head for hours! Seuss is a legend we'll never forget, no doubt about it.

The Omen
The Omen(2006)
½

I ended up watching this out of boredom. It's really not that scary, the script is soggy, and some of the acting is pretty pathetic ( Stiles... ). Still, good effort, though it brings nothing new to the table.

V for Vendetta

It's not often we get to see a film that incorporates an intricate, intelligent plot, a disfigured genius, a hard-hitting message, and superb acting to boot! Never mind the gorgeous 1812 Overture... Hugo Weaving definitely stole the show, and Stephen Rea did more than shine as the inspector. I'm neither here nor there about Natalie Portman, but as far as I'm concerned, a flim that has a villian/hero who spouts Shakespeare and vindictive, viable virtues (very viciously!) is a film worth watching.

Click
Click(2006)
½

Better than average. The core of the story was fairly meaningful, and Walken makes a great little cameo. I've never been an Adam Sandler fan, so this is just another disfunctional dude trying to get along. My question is, how in hell did this get a PG rating?

The Break-Up
The Break-Up(2006)
½

Just a meh show. Funny thing is, it's marketed as the classic romanitc comedy, yet comes off as serious as "A Beautiful Mind". Tries to do too much with too little, unfortunately. Better luck next time.

Over the Hedge

Not bad, all in all. The kiddy moral was a bit trite and the voice acting was a little sketchy at times, but it's got some heart.

The Prestige
The Prestige(2006)
½

Bit of a disappointment. A word to the wise: don't watch this when you're tired. True, very clever, very interesting... that is, if you pay attention. Trouble is, I had to think awfully hard about everything and nothing really made sense until they spelled it out anyway. And so the point is...?

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

Just seeing the poster brings back so many memories as a kid, watching Star Wars with mom and dad, wishing I could have seen it in theatres like they did. Ah, the classic Star Wars one-liners. It was a springboard for so many geeks to come out and show their nerdiness for all the world to see! Really, though? Star Wars is a classic, no doubt about it, and I only wish they hadn't ruined this great trilogy with a mediocre follow-up. Here's to Star Wars, the best sci-fi film ever made.

Sleepy Hollow
½

Some startling imagery really make the film, though Johnny Depp takes the cake as an intelligent yet inept Ichabod Crane. Ricci is a little simpering, but not too pathetic. Walken and Lee make great cameos, and Richardson once again pulls off a wonderful performance. Great film, highly recommended!