An interesting premise (hey, what if Harry had turned into Voldemort?) that doesn't lose it's cool factor thanks to some good scripting and obvious, yet imaginatively shot magical 'what if' scenarios. Radcliffe (and the rest of the cast) are compelling, SPOILERS AHOY but once the eventual unveiling of his demonic powers happens, the scripting fizzles and creates a fastidious (yet, to the movie's credit, still not cliche) wrap-up that can leave some (including almost everyone on RT, yikes) wanting more.
What's to like - Smaug's big scene (did anyone else think Sean Connery should have been Smaug? No one?...ok, moving on...), Gandalf's rescue from the Necromancer, and Martin Freeman's excellent anchoring performance as Bilbo (who gets shuffled around a bit for the sake of other dramatic arcs, but is without a doubt still the heart of the story).
Unfortunately, the CGI is basically what continues to drag this trilogy down, and that's mostly my only gripe - some characters are wholly greenscreen creations, while others are plagued by 'uncanny valley'-esque visages that don't quite look like fantasy characters or real people from either respect (sadly, one of those blobs is Billy Connelly, who really shouldn't need any 'shopping in order to look like a dwarf, amirite). Overall, the intended audience is going to drool over all the epic Orc battling, and hardcore Tolkienites will find some manner of enjoyment (aside from every scene involving Tauriel and Legolas) from within the CGI-laden 'epic'-ness. LotR will always trump this trilogy, no question, but there's a whole movie's worth of warmth and energy to keep this fan afloat.
A cooler (and deeper) take on 'Sliding Doors' that makes for a fun bit of mindfuckery... making for a 'could happen anywhere/anytime' feel that holds on for awhile after the end. What could have been a trite piece of 'low-budget found footage' Hollywood pablum ends up being a solid mystery/thriller that doesn't fall into any of the cliche traps that plague the handicam genre. Highly, highly recommended.
This year's Tom Cruise vehicle boasts enough solid action elements to appease popcorn munchers, as well as a smarter, quicker story that takes a generic concept and spins it into blockbuster gold...well, maybe silver, depending on how well you can tolerate His Cruiseness in another sci-fi epic extravaganza. 4/5 A wild sci-fi romp that doesn't get too over-serious (re: last year's Oblivion) yet packs a serious sequence of good ideas and major action - this is a worthy movie that sits alongside Minority Report in Tom Cruise's belt.
Keanu Reeves may be far from my favorite actor (and his appearance in this film is adequate, if not a little more compelling than his usual fare), but his directing style is spot on - the machismo from this movie doesn't come from posing and 'cool special effects', but from kinetic motion and serious characters that are fighting for real stakes. This is a real version of Street Fighter, where competitors are given extreme amounts of money to compete in an underground circuit - Tiger Chen plays the main contender, and luckily, there's no montage of training sequences where he finds his resolve to take action... he's artful and passionate from the very beginning, and it's his dedication to those strengths within the fights and without, that make this movie. I'll admit, I thought this movie was going to be a cult 'so bad it's good' flick, but it earns a solid 4/5 from me. If it doesn't hook you all the way through, make sure you stay for Keanu's fight at the end - it's bloody and totally worth the wait.
An excellent blending of Singer's past X-films and the new (IMO better) 'past' X-franchise, adding a panoply of fan favorites with a measured pace and passion. Blink and Quicksilver are perfect examples - they're given tons of bad-ass 'moments' but their POV's never get in the way of the bigger picture. Singer is to be commended for making McAvoy and Fassbender the most important pieces in the story, forcing them to serve each other's purposes in order to find a version of the future that doesn't involve their extermination -- sounds needlessly complicated, but the cast (all at the top of their games) and graphics team make more than enough crisp and clear choices to give all the momentous 'existential melodrama' real credence and depth. 5/5 And hey, there's no Stan Lee cameo, but Chris Claremont and Len Wein managed to provide a cool moment for this fanboy. 5 mutated thumbs way up!
For any fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, this is an extended riff on that joke - babies, the elderly, even race officials, are targets in this 'so bad it's good' cult classic. David Carradine (for those less interested in actors, that's Bill from 'Kill Bill' fame) plays Frankenstein, a seemingly pieced together dude who has to wear a full body suit to cover his wounds (mysteriously though, once he takes off his mask his face loses all the scarring and he turns into a handsome beefcake...?) from races past. Sly Stallone also stars, playing a hackjob mobster - basically all the racers are idiotic caricatures of Nazis, cowboys, mobsters, and monsters. As the death rate climbs, this B-movie careens through idiotic effects and terrible dialogue, yet still retains enough tongue-in-cheek jokes (like Frankenstein's hand, which is a grenade... get it... hand grenade?) and blatantly bad plot twists to keep this an entertaining movie for movie buffs of all ages. 4/5
For a bunch of numbskulls, this cast seriously elevates what could have been just another piece of pablum - Dangerfield especially steals the scene, may his soul be getting some respect in peace. 4/5 Hey everybody, we're gonna get laid!
Reaches the insane heights of Wall Street excess, but lacks little of the emotional fall - besides a few of the scenes detailing the derailing of Belfort's relationships with his family, there's really no moral at the end of this story to keep other opportunistic douchebag lying scumsucking asshats from admiring Belfort for daring to go so high in the first place. Instead of focusing on the enormity of Belfort's crimes, Scorcese really does come close to near-deifying the guy in an attempt to give DiCaprio another vehicle to shine in. 4/5 But outside of all that sanctimonious finger wagging, I fucking loved this fucking movie and I'd love to fucking watch it again. Fucking Scorcese, DiCaprio, and Hill pull this crazy madhouse of a story into an enjoyably excessive ride that doesn't have a weak moment for the entirety of it's 3 hr running time. Well done you beautiful fucking bastards. Well fucking done.
This is a tricky movie to pin down: for one, I love the 'stoner' genre (Half Baked was one of the first times I had ever wanted to be friends with 'those guys', now I associate as a bit of a Chong persona myself) and actually support the 'lamebrained slackers with profane wit' cinemovement that Judd Apatow and his crew of 'lovable dorks' have catalyzed... but on the other hand, I don't think this quite helps shake the rampant stereotypes that make these movies so despisable to the people who don't consume massive amounts of weed 24/7. Some of the humor hits the golden Apatow-note, but some falls flat and will no doubt have the GF/BF (or friends who don't get as down with Mary Jane as the intended audience) looking for the remote. 3/5 Not as clever and witty as Apatow's "ouevre", but DGG still gives some of the lackluster comedy a really slick series of action scenes to polish it up.
Try as it might, this movie falls short of scoring two essential goals - 1) making Elijah Wood look tough, and 2) making soccer crews look sympathetic. Except for the few fights that feature Wood getting his face bashed in, there's not much to see amidst all the generic violence and humorless dialogue besides the always-underutilized Claire Forlani. .5/5 Seriously though, why is Claire Forlani ALWAYS in the shittiest movies?
Straightforward revenge porn for the exact same post-college male demographic that keeps putting Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Willis back in lead title roles -- middle-aged fathers will be especially susceptible to this movie's revenge plot. Mindless, yes, but executed specifically to make 'the old guy' look supremely bad-as-fuck - and thanks to a whole lot of gritty sound editing and shaky-cam action sequences, Liam Neeson totally nails the role. Eat your heart out Bruce Willis. 4/5
An interesting look into the Russian mob's presence in London, but not much else. Slow pacing is hardly an issue when it pays off, but not even Mortenson's brimming humanity or Watt's doe eyed (and nice butt) cunning can stop all the beats in the movie from leading to one extremely easy wrap-up. Also, there's only one intensely harrowing scene to be found, and it doesn't make the rest of the mislaid character examinations that lead nowhere (does it matter that Viggo's friend is in the closet?) and ineffective scenes depicting brooding old men any better. All in all, it's not that I require heady hyperviolence in order to enjoy my mob movies, it's just... ok, yeah, there's really no way to ruin a mob movie for me faster than to remove the heady hyperviolence. 2.5/5 Another Cronenberg dud, imho.
While I'm surprised/glad that Hollywood was forced to wait a few decades to adapt the books, the movie (more so than almost any book adaptation I've seen lately) skips over the most important aspects of Card's novel, completely squandering Ender's big decision in the final act - without Valentine's subplot/no family background explained whatsoever, the realization that leads Ender through his emotional shift ...well, suffice it to say any non-fan of the books would be about as left in the dark as a non-fan of the book can get. Not a good move Hollywood. 2/5 And, on a related note, Card's anti-homosexual agenda certainly does provide a shaky foundation for the books, but there are plenty of batshit authors that everyone blindly supports - did you know Dr. Suess had cheated on his wife when she was terminally ill, and went on to marry his mistress after she died? Does this affect your view of Hop On Pop?... not trying to be an apologist, but give the books a look if you want some excellent sci-fi adventure escapism for kids/adults alike.
A solid (if a tad bit goofy) new chapter in the Marvel mythos - while cementing Jane Foster and Thor's somewhat played out romantic status, Yost & Co. also manage to bring Loki's heritage into the mix, keep Anthony Hopkins looking BA, and (though the quipping sometimes got out of hand) deftly blend lighter character moments alongside the colossal action scenes (Hogun's cameo, Volstagg's mimicry of Thor's "Another!" moment from the first film, etc etc). 4/5 Too bad Malekith and his evil army pretty much have as much malice as evil Teletubbies... not that that's not terrifying... but I doubt there's anyone out there (above the age of 5) that would be the slightest bit frightened of those faceless masks.
Though some may denigrate this movie for playing more towards highschool civil history classes, it doesn't make the story and performances any less strong. In fact, I wish I'd been shown this in my U.S. History class - so little is said of the slave trade before the Civil War that most people in America wouldn't be able to note how important the mutiny aboard the Amistad was in building the legal precedents that created the violent divide between the North and South. 4/5 Powerful without being histrionic (check Anthony Hopkins' speech before the Supreme Court for a great example), this movie boasts an impeccable cast (led by the inimitable Djimon Hounsou) that even includes Chiwetl Ejiofor who starred in last year's remarkable abolitionist drama, 12 Years A Slave.
If Cohen's "targets" seem too obvious to some of the comic/actor's fans, just remember that his notoriety has spread pretty far throughout the world as Ali G/Borat (not only because those are considered pretty damn good comedy, but mostly bc they're both tremendously quotable) and yet his knack for finding unsuspecting patsies (ie Ron Paul) is just as good as ever. 4/5 Pushes the envelope in myriad ways - whether it's in a good or bad direction is your call, but it's hard to deny that Cohen's commitment remains undeniably funny. God....Ron Paul...comedy gold. *cracks up*
Clive Barker's original short story comes to limited release screens in this straight-forward splatterfest. Yes, it sacrifices it's 'whodunit?' mystery by not lingering too long on the pyschological breakdown of Cooper's character (in favor of lots of shots of meat hooks and some questionably dumb dialogue), but there are still a good amount of outrageous scenes to entertain horror enthusiasts alike until its sublimely ridiculous ending. 2.5/5 Frankly, it's worth watching just for Vinnie Jones' granite-faced performance... is there any movie this guy doesn't completely rock in?
Yeah it's a chic and glossy flick starring Hollywood's new favorite heartbreaker, and yet... behind all the exciting chases and gratuitous violence there's nothing about 'Driver' that went beyond his name - the character is so damnably quiet and completely devoid of emotion that it's obvious Gosling had to employ about as much energy to 'acting' this role as a goldfish does to swimming... the plot just kind of happens around him as he sits and ...contemplates life or something, I dunno. *throws up hands* 4/5 Still, the soundtrack/cinematography combo is stunning, and that's really all that Amini was going for (I think).