brentage5000's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Riddick
Riddick(2013)

Although I haven't seen the theatrical cut of this, I feel I can safely call this an unimpressive sequel filled with a lot of cool setpiece moments (they have to outrun the SUN? Seriously?). The story seems like it's trying to make a character who doesn't need redemption redeemable, which feels like a serious betrayal of who and what Riddick is. The new Jack (Alexa Davalos), now going by Kyra, is a major high point, and the whole Crematoria sequence (which includes the aforementioned sun-run) is great, but otherwise the film just kind of falls flat.

The Maze Runner
½

Pretty exciting stuff with more than halfway decent effects and design.

Dracula Untold
½

It's a good movie and a great ride, though to be honest I almost wanted to reach for a joystick most of the time.

Let's Be Cops
½

Not exactly a great movie, but it's still a lot of fun with some good buddy-echemistry between Wayans and Johnson, although the presence of Dobrev and Garcia is eyebrow-raising, as their characters seem to be little more than filler.

Camp X-Ray
Camp X-Ray(2014)

Deliberately vague about character backgrounds and motivations, this film morely asks who we are as people and if it's our actions that define who we are or the other way around.

Exodus: Gods and Kings
½

Basically a high-effects remake of "The Ten Commandments". The acting and cinematography is great and the portrayal of God as an angry child is cool, but otherwise it's the same old story.

The Pyramid
The Pyramid(2014)

Some decent scares and a hella-cool end-reveal. It would've been nice if it could decide whether it wanted to be a found-footage movie or a normal horror film, though.

Interstellar
Interstellar(2014)

Decent effects, great acting, fantastic cinematography. A sure contender come Oscar-time.

Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

This might be yet another case of too much time between movies. While the original stories are good and feature the underused (in the books, anyway) Senator Roark prominently, there's really nothing here that hasn't been seen before. It might be fun for the die-hard fans of the first movie or the books, but for anyone else I'd say just wait until it's available to rent.

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow

For such a limited time frame, this film manages to eke out every conceivable situation in it's 48-hour repeat setting. There's laughs and action aplenty, often resulting from two different paths having been chosen. Blunt is a natural action heroine, and Cruise continues his streak that started way back in Top Gun. With an awesome turn by Bill Paxton as a grouchy commander and some unbelievably eye-popping effects shots, this is one film that should be seen today (not tomorrow).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
½

Still not as good as the first, but better than the second. The script is definitely lacking in corny moments and has a high emphasis on family - specifically, that of the turtles. While the design is still a little muppety, it's not as bad as the second film was, and the sets for the Japan scenes are just beautiful. All told, it's a good spot to end the turtles trilogy.....much like a pizza that's three days old and left in the fridge.

Maleficent
Maleficent(2014)
½

I wasn't too sure what to expect going in, but coming out I was safely blown away. The visuals for both effects and sets were astounding, and the performance of Jolie as Disney's ultimate female baddie was perfect in both casting and execution. Although the story is altered slightly to provide some redemption, the script itself is still awesome. My biggest complaint is that I wish the fairy god-aunts who raised Aurora had been given more character, for as it stands their little more than bumbling idiots who somehow manage not to kill the kid in infancy thanks to their own stupidity. It also would have been good if King Stefan had been given something of a heart, since the early years between him and Maleficent don't exactly match up to what we see when the two grow up. Apart from those quibbles, the movie was still entertaining and is definitely NOT a beauty that should be slept through.

A Million Ways to Die in the West
½

Not much of a plot but plenty of laughs is a good way to describe Seth Macfarlane's ode to westerns. It kind of plays like Blazing Saddles, only instead of racial humor we end up with dick-and-fart jokes. The one really big surprise is that there's nary a cutaway gag to be seen, a thing that is prevalent in nearly all of Macfarlane's other projects (hell, even ted had a few). It's not as good as I hoped and far from as good as Ted, but overall it's still a fun trip....unlike, say, a certain trip that happens in the movie. ;)

The Pretty One

Although there are moments where it borders on inconceivability, at its core The Pretty One is a sweet tale about discovering who you are. The chemistry between Kazan and Johnson (and Kazan and herself, for that matter) really brings the film together. While I do wonder at just how realistic the idea of a twin literally taking over her dead other-half's life is, the reactions of people in the (mostly unsurprising) end do all feel genuine given their characters and relationships with both sisters. Still, the best scenes are the ones where it's just Kazan-as-Laurel, having to deal with the fact that her perfect other half is gone forever, showing just how much hurt and anger there is in that lost twin's body. it's those moments that really anchor the film and make it worth watching all the way to end.

Million Dollar Arm
½

Heavy on the schmaltz and light on non-predictability, Million Dollar Arm does still have a few things going for it. The comic and romantic chemistry between Bell and Hamm is right on target, and the on-location shoots in India are to die for. Likewise with Alan Arkin, who I wish had more to do than the script gave him as an uncaring caring mentor to both the India boys and JB. Still, the movie was touching and I would recommend it to any sports fans who need a sport-light movie.

Oculus
Oculus(2014)

Not since Mirrors ate Keifer Sutherland have I been so scared to check my reflection. With equal parts slow-burn terror, jump scares, and out-and-out horror, this thing may be the best horror movie since Mama (albeit with a weaker - but not weak - ending).

X-Men: Days of Future Past
½

Fantastic! Absolutely fantastic! Even if you do take out the single greatest setpiece I've seen in a while (Quicksilver = the bsst), this is likely the best x-movie, and maybe the best comic book based movie, I've ever seen. The story looks as though it'd be extremely complicated and hard to follow, but the way things are put together and told makes it incredibly simple and easy to follow. Nearly all the cast from each "set" (original and first class) are present and accounted for, and it makes it that much more enjoyable. By the time the final reel has shown, we are given a definite connection between each universe and a definite (perhaps "apocalyptic"?) idea for where each set is going. Oh, and the Quicksilver scene I mentioned? Golden. Absolutely golden.

Frozen
Frozen(2013)

Best animated feature, indeed. This callback to the glory days of Walt Disney's animation department is the best Disney movie to come out in years. The voice work for both the singing and acting is perfectly cast, and the script has a sweet softness that touches and entertains. Most of the songs are good enough with a few memorable melodies but nothing to really stick with you. The sole exception, of course, is "Let It Go," which is every bit as good as you've heard. If this film is the new standard for animated movies by Disney, than they've outdone themselves by a thousand, and I for one applaud it.

That Awkward Moment

Finally, a relationship movie from the guy's point of view. Miles Teller was hilarious and Zac Efron brings a lot of relatable idiocy. best of all, though, was the incredible genuineness of each character, making them seem like actual friends, both of mine and of each other. Definitely a to-see for any guy and a should-see for any girl.

Neighbors
Neighbors(2014)

Not exactly the typical college frat movie. There's plenty of laughs and it's an interesting twist on the fraternity movie formula, but the ending felt a little weak.

Godzilla
Godzilla(2014)
½

While I am one of the few who liked the 1998 effort, this movie starring the REAL Godzilla (albeit only in 20 minutes of screentime, approximately) blows that dressed up T-Rex away. The actors all take their roles seriously, and the design of the monsters is equal to what Toho originally made (updated, of course). The script handles everything properly and leaves room for sequels (I think I caught a couple Mothra hints), and the VFX department should be expecting their Oscar nomination any day now. If this is what Garetrh Edwards has for us with film 1, I eagerly anticipate what comes next.

Godzilla
Godzilla(1998)
½

Not what the king of all monsters deserves, but still an entertaining effort. I figure if there'd been a less Jurassic Park-y design and no French involvement, this movie would have been treated a lot better.

Authors Anonymous
½

A sweet effort to create an office clone set in the world of writing. It's predictable, but it still has some heart to it.

Need For Speed

Given the 'plot' of the game series it's based on, this actually turned out pretty well. There's little character development, Aaron Paul does nothing but scowl throughout the movie, and the script is filled with clichés and predictability, but there's enough outlandishly entertaining action to keep the focus off of how bad a movie it actually is.

TMNT
TMNT(2007)
½

Continuing the story of the turtles fifteen years after we last saw them in feudal Japan, this movie still manages to be enjoyable. There are certain elements about at that give the feeling of "It's animated instead of live-action, so why not", but as far as plot, script, and acting go, things are right there to be enjoyed by any fan of the shell that might want to see this.

I Love You Beth Cooper

Taking cues from every teen movie ever made before it, this adaptation of Larry Doyle's book is painfully hilarious to watch.

Transcendence
½

If you combine the computer trap themes of Tron, the identity questions of a Jekyll & Hyde movie, the layerdness of Inception, the plot of a James Bondian techno-thriller, and the setup of "The Lawnmower Man" (movie, not story), you might get something that closely resembles Transcendence. While the movie itself is only okay and a lot of the characters behave in either stupid or naïve ways, the end result is still remarkably clever, with an ending that hints at either a certain romanticism or a looming yet contained menace.

The Other Woman

Despite the poor picture it paints of men (we're either misogynistic assholes or hunky hunks who are loyal to family and friends alike), it is pretty funny. I foresee a long future of bachelorette party viewings and bored-night-in rentals for this baby.

Draft Day
Draft Day(2014)
½

Possibly one of the best sports films ever made....which is ironic, considering that the actual sport aspect of sports is barely featured. Costner and Garner have some great chemistry, and the script is top-notch. There may be some complaints about it being a little dull and talky, but I found it to be just as engaging and suspenseful as any scene involving two big and tough fighters on a set filled with destructible items. Also....Berman.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II - The Secret of the Ooze

As good as the first one was, this sequel seems to take two steps back for every step forward. The design and animatronicness (??) of the turtles is worse than the first one (which actually had it pretty good), making it harder to take them seriously....although Splinter is just as good as he was, so that balances, I guess. The new actress playing April takes over the role okay, not exactly surpassing Judith Hoag but not doing poorly either. The plot and script both could have used a lot of work to be less cartoony, and the pause in the nightclub fight at the end to do a little dance to a spontaneously and totally-not-planned-why-do-you-ask rap is corny-times-ten. On the flip side, the individual personalities of the turtles are more prominent (particularly Donatello's mechanical aptitude/obsession); David Warner's role is both well-acted and (surprisingly, all else considered) well-written; and the new subway hideout is fitting, beautiful, and painstakingly crafted, giving the turtles a fantastic new base of operations. Despite those few good points, though, this entry in the movie franchise is a definite low point for both the series and the turtles as a whole.

Philomena
Philomena(2013)
½

Extremely well-acted and emotional. Judi Dench manages to make Philomena both extremely uncouth and heart-tuggingly endearing, very often in the same scene.

Extraction
Extraction(2013)

Better than it's limited viewership deserves. The script is mediocre and the action sequences are all interchangeable, but with a little more care and money, this could have been a pretty good theatrical release instead of an internet-exclusive film.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident (Devil's Pass)
½

Renny Harlin returns to the snow covered mountain setting of Cliffhanger, and the results are freaky as hell. Combining elements of The Blair Witch project and Paranormal Activity, this movie takes a real life accident and molds a supernatural thriller around it. Although the script does forget its original purpose, by the time the movie gets to its scary-as-hell ending, you'll have had such a good time that you won't even care.

Divergent
Divergent(2014)

Entertaining but predictable, and despite the chemistry and action sequences there's not a lot here to make me care. Basically, it's Twilight with more action and no love triangles in a post-apocalyptic and vampire-free world.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
½

Possibly the best Spider-Man movie since Tobey Maguire's first foray into the tights (which was only slightly better than the 2012 one). Although Rhino is barely there and way too hammy and Electro misfires a little, Dane DeHaan kills as Harry Osborn-Green Goblin. Also, the more developed relationship between Gwen and Peter is perfect, though it seems to be at the expense of Shailene Woodley, whose scenes as Mary Jane Watson were unfortunately cut. For comic fans, the final fight sequence is gut-wrenching, and even for those not familiar with the lore it's still a roller coaster of emotion and suspense that gives as few answers as the original comic did. It's still a little unfortunate that they can't merge this with other Marvel properties, but all said this film still rocks hard.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

So prim and proper that even the stuff that's not meant to be funny is funny, and the stuff that is supposed to be funny is twice as funny. The all-star cast is a joy to watch, with each character given such a different combination of quirks that it's only possible not to laugh if you're only staring at one character alone on the screen, and even then it's an iffy proposition.

Cube
Cube(1998)

For a film with minimal cast, low budget, and only a few interchangeable sets, this thing is pretty damn awesome.

Network
Network(1976)
½

The film that made all of America mad as hell. There's a lot of good acting (especially by Peter Finch), but the real star is the script, which is cutting even by today's standards.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

No doubt the best Marvel movie to come out, the sequel to CA:TFA takes everything we've learned about the MCU and S.H.I.E.L.D. and shakes it like crazy. There's little to complain about (like, nothing) and newcomers Emily Van Camp and Anthony Mackie go in so smoothly that I can't wait for them to return to screen. The best part, though, is the way that it makes you question everything you've seen in every Marvel Studios project to come before it and makes them difficult to watch in light of what is revealed. If this is the way they end the penultimate chapter of volume two of the MCU, than the ultimate one should leave us all gasping for air.

300: Rise of an Empire
½

Neither an improvement nor a detraction of the orginal, this side-story that takes place a few weeks before and after the original movie is entertainingly fun and a joy to watch and then forget.

Pompeii
Pompeii(2014)

The thing with movies directed by Paul Anderson is that he takes a good idea, surrounds it with either a bad or hammy script, and then gets semi-decent actors needing a break to film it. That story is true again here, with some good people (Sutherland, Harrington, Moss) joining some mid-levels (Browning, Adewale) to try to create an adolescent "Gladiator" set against Mount Vesuvius. The film is still watchable and has decent (if partially inaccurate) volcano destruction effects, but by the end it's just okay.

Noah
Noah(2014)
½

For all it's visual flair and acting excellence, the heavy handed script manages to drag things down and leave us wishing there had been more emotion and less emoting in this story.

3 Days To Kill

Not sure if I liked it or not, but it was definitely entertaining. There was a certain chemistry between Costner and Steinfeld that gave their scenes some weight, and while both Heard and Nielsen seemed to be miscast, they did okay. As for the story itself......a good plot told in a bad way is the best summation I can give.

Dallas Buyers Club
½

While a lot of this movie is made-up, the story and main character aren't. McConaughey does a fantastic job in his award-winning role of Ron Woodroof, a man diagnosed with AIDS at the worst possible time of the epidemic....right at the start of it. Jared Leto is unrecognizable as Ron's eventual close friend Rayon, a transgender who helps Ron help those shunned by the system into getting medication that would actually help them. Both leads give an emotionally charged performance, although to be honest I would give the Oscar to Leto alone. Remarkably, the film is less depressing than it is uplifting, despite the general mood of the final half-hour, and it really is thought-provoking about just how much and how far is the right amount when it comes to helping people.

Non-Stop
Non-Stop(2014)

Not quite a sequel to the Taken movies, but there's definitely a lot in common with them. Despite having a different name and background, Neeson's character may as well be Bryan Mills all over again. Fortunately, the plot is clever enough that one can forgive this slight regeneration, since it is smart enough to not give anything away and keep the viewer wondering about who the real criminal is.

Oldboy
Oldboy(2013)
½

A pretty good version of the original Korean film. Some of the fight scenes and action sequences feel a little overrehearsed, but the story holds up fairly well, as does the acting of Brolin, Olsen, and Copley. Conversely, the gunshot effects (or rather, the impacts) are overdone to the point of being cartoonish and while the actors DO do the best they can, there are parts of the script that strain both credibility and believability. Still, if you can manage to look past all that, you should be able to see a twisted yet good way to kill (no pun intended) a couple hours on a quiet afternoon.

Small Apartments
½

A cst full of lovably eccentric nuts, along with a surprisingly restrained Billy Crystal in one of his best roles. The movie looks like a comedic character study, but is actually a surprisingly touching one, with the comedy being gently pushed to the side in such a way that you don't realize it's happening and don't even miss it when it's gone..

RoboCop
RoboCop(2014)
½

Like many of the recent remakes and reboots of the past few years, RoboCop has gotten a lot of flack. Some say it should never have been made, some say it's okay but not as good as the original, and some say it's just a pathetic cash cow. I, however, disagree. While the film itself is mainly hit-or-miss, the CGI available today is able to make the robots much more believable looking and give some credibility to the bionic/robotic aspect of things. On the same note, the modern applications of synthetic prosthetics also give the film that much more realism. Unfortunately, the CGI is also a downside, as it gets used so much that it nearly pushes the boundaries of believability at some points. Still, the glimpse at the man inside the machine is a nice touhc that was missing from the original and, along with the "modern" glimpses at other robot prosthetics used in the film's world, really helps to keep it grounded, realistic, and above all, good.

The LEGO Movie
½

A brillaint animated film, a nostalgic parents film, an ergetic kids film, a hilariously imaginative film, and a billion other two-word descriptions....they all work, and the all fall short. In what may be the most imaginative and touching toy-based film to come out ever, we get a piece of art that both evokes the childhood memories of anyone who ever snapped a set of Lego bricks together and fies the imaginations of a generation of children who have grown up on animated antics. The cast -- A-listers all around -- all bring life to their characters, and the script is extrmely well-written, especially in its surprising final moments. It's a fanastic film that works for all people on all genres and levels (except maybe for horror fans), and is deserving of all amounts of praise and awards.

The Monuments Men
½

Another heist film with Clooney and Damon, only this one is based on true events. Although the movie does a good job on explaining the characters' motivations and reasons for needing to do this, the personality development of some of the team members could have used a little work. Still, the film itself is interesting and highlights a forgotten moment of World War II in such a way that it makes for an extremely good tale with equal parts levity, pathos, and integrity.

Short Term 12

Given the subject matter of this film, it would have been so easy for it to devolve into a collection of cliches. Instead, the whole thing feels constantly fresh and off-the-cuff, giving it much more of a documentary feel than that of a scripted movie. Brie Larson is phenomenal as Grace, the lead caretaker at a home for children of the court, and the same goes for every other person here, from the most frequently seen costar-cum-love interest (John Gallagher Jr.) to any single-scene Sid-and-Nancys. The whole thing is marvelously put-together, and quite frankly is one of the best films of 2013. Honestly, the only thing I can find wrong regarding it is the fact that it didn't recieve a single Oscar nomination, which in my humble opinion may be one of the biggest crimes against cinema ever.

Afternoon Delight
½

An interesting tale of a thirtysomething mom who after encountering a young girl she recieved a lap dance from at a gentlemen's club decides to try and help her get her life back on track...and maybe her own in the process. The story is pretty good, although the script and characters waver somewhere between mediocre and so-so. If there actually IS a standout, it'd have to be Josh Radnor as Jeff, the put-upon husband of the aforementioned mother. Otherwise, it's a decent movie that is semi-enjoyable while you're watching it and almost entirely forgettable as soon as you're done.

Labor Day
Labor Day(2014)
½

Some great acting in this tale that starts out like a much gentler version of "The Strangers" and quickly (nearly remarkably so) turns into the ultimate case of Stockholm Syndrome. Although Winslet brings a lot of genuine pathos and pain to her role and Brolin is equal parts charismatic and intimidating as the scene requires, I never felt quite sure about how I felt about them as a couple given how quickly they went from coptor/captee to couple. That being said, the film really felt like fall in New England and there was some genuine emotional heft to the story, so overall I'd say it's worth it.

The Lookout
The Lookout(2007)

Some great acting by JGL and Jeff Daniels and a good small-town/big-robbery plot make this one to see. Though parts of the film are reminiscent of Fargo and Isla Fisher's stripper is largely irrelevant to the story, the movie itself is a real piece of work and one more piece of proof in the pile saying how great a young actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

An okay spy movie that serves as both prequel and reboot (prebootquel?) to the Jack Ryan series. There's nothing really memorable about it, so the best thing that could be said is that it's not a complete waste of money (either the filmmaker's or the filmgoer's). The cast are all perfect, but the script doesn't so much twist as it does follow a standard route....an unsurprising fact given that jack Ryan is the sole literary spy with no special gifts (physical or otherwise) helping him out. While I can't see many people having a continued interest in the modernized adventures of a spy made for the Cold War, I can say that it's a fun movie and is worth at least an enthusiastic rental.

I, Frankenstein

In his own words, Adam Frankenstein is "a dozen different parts from eight different bodies." Oddly, that's a pretty accuracte description for the movie he currently finds himself in. There's the secret war and costume and set design from Underworld, the torured loner hero and bladed weaponry from Blade, the creature desigfn from Legion, the character of frankenstein himself from no duh, the science and over-the-top villainy of a James Bond film, and three or four other bits from other movies. In a way, it's really unsurpising that this was based on a graphic novel, since there is a definite comic-book feel to the whole thing. Despite this, there is still a certain entertainment value to be found (the same as comes from a Michael Bay film, I rather think), so while it may not be a great movie, it is still at least a fun one.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

A big step-up from the first, this sequel gives the dwarves more defining individual moments tgo help tell them apart and introduces some new or old characters to this prequel trilogy. Having been a fan of the book, I wasn't surprised about where they left things off for the end, though the exact manner of how they got there was still delightfully surprising, making the whole thing more "Die Hard" than "Return of the King". The new(ish) character of Tauriel gels well, and the inclusion of Legolas only makes sense since the woodland realm IS technically his home. The design of Lake-Town felt a bit uninspired, but given its location the grunginess of it all was very appropriate. Better was the look and feel of Smaug, who bore more than a passing resemblance to the design used in the Bakshi film, but filtered through the lens of Peter Jackson and 21st-century tech. Finally, Benedict Cumberbatch....well, if there's a better voice out there for a giant dragon, it's not born yet. Given how everything has gone so far, I can hardly wait for December to see what the Battle of the Five Armies will look like.

Crossing Over
½

It's not quite Crash, but it's still a great film. harrison Ford is perfect as the main immigration officer, and everyone else is just as magnificent. Alice Braga is underused in a role that could have been played by anyone, even though it pretty much drives a couple characters for the rest of the film. The best plotline goes to a Palestinian (I think, sorry) girl who takes a controversial stance on 9/11 and ends up the subject of some Homeland scrutiny. While the direction is about average and evrything else is give-or-take, but the cast and script help to elevate it enough that while it isn't another melting pot ensemble extravagance, it is a great if conveniently quick moving film.

Out of the Furnace

Gritty and realistic, the film has some great acting that should the have gotten more attention from Oscar and Ms. Globe. The sweeping Pennsylvania landscapes really pull you in, and although the ending could have been improved slightly on an emotional level by a slightly earlier cut-to-black, it's still a great if overlooked tour-de-force.

Her
Her(2013)
½

An emotional performance by Phoenix and possibly the best acting of Scarlett Johanson's career propel this slightly futuristic story of a man who falls in love with an artificial intelligence program. The script is delightfully original and should win the oSCAR for original screenplay, and the chemistry between the two characters of Theodore and Samantha is as good as any standard onscreen couple, despite the two never really being onscreen together, which is a credit to both the power of the script and the capability of Scarjo and Joaquin. The ending is simultaneously sad and hopeful, and if I have one complaint it's that there was missed opportunity for Scarjo herself to appear in a strange scene involving a human surrogate (hard to explain). The movie is one of my favorites of the year and I'll be paying close attention to it during the award shows.

Lone Survivor
½

A hardcore assault of both physical and mental variety, this film constantly barrages with everything imaginable in such a way that you can physically feel evry injury displayed onscreen, giving us a movie that may be the best war film to come out in some time.

Runner Runner

Timberlake does a good job and the script is great, but Affleck really hams it up, Mackie is left to do nothing but scowl and threaten, and the film itself feels incredibly rushed, as though it was determined to live up to its own title.

American Hustle
½

The story is there, and the acting is perfect, but the script kind of overwhelms with trite lines commenting on the seventies leaving it to the actors and the design team to make it good.

The Wolf of Wall Street
½

A surefire Oscar-winner that makes Dicaprio nearly a lock for a best actor nomination. It almost plays like Fight Club in the world of stock trading, except the evil alternate personality is the standard single personality. The script flows nicely despite it's length, the design of everything is smooth, and the story is overwhelmingly great. Jonah Hill is fun as Belfort's partner Donnie Azoff, and relative newcomer Margot Robbie is perfect in the role of second wife Naomi.

47 Ronin
47 Ronin(2013)

Despite the cardboard script and the stilted performances, the film is something of a visual treat. While it certainly won't (or shouldn't) win any awards, it's still a fun not-great movie that -- much like Con Air -- is great in its badness.

The Devil's Advocate

An okay movie. Not sure if dream or time-reset, but still decent and Pacino is a great urban Satan.

21 And Over
21 And Over(2013)
½

Like "Hangover" but in college (and not taking place the morning after), this movie is so funny that I find it hard to believe it wasn't in theaters more. The main characters all do fantastic and the stuff that they get up to is better than anything in the regular hangover movies. Not a second of film is wasted on extraneous side-plot developments, since the side-plot is really just as relevant as the main plot, and the ending epilogue is just as great as the main show.

Beetlejuice
Beetlejuice(1988)
½

Beetlejuice is an offensive, degrading, and abominable piece of work, and the movie bearing his name is just as great. This is Tim Burton at his best.

Inside Man
Inside Man(2006)

One of my more favorite heist movies, with an excellent performance by Clive Owen and a nicely layered script that gives away nothing until the very end.

Ender's Game
Ender's Game(2013)

Less a movie and more a video game without a controller, this thing is still with a modicum of entertainment value. Although the coming-togetherness of the different kids at the end is a little corny, the ultimate reveal of what they're doing is well-played and all of the young actors do a magnificent job. Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley also do some good turns, and the effects are about equal to a modern day Star Wars. I'm not saying that I want this to become a franchise with the other books being adapted, but it's still a decently fun movie.

Scrooged
Scrooged(1988)
½

Pretty effects-heavy and a number of laughs, but it's still a little forced at times. Still not bad, though.

Last Vegas
Last Vegas(2013)

Charming and funny, but ultimately light on meaning and importance. There are some great jokes made at the expense of the actors (and more specifically, their advanced age), so it's basically a Hangover movie for the geriatric set.

12 Years a Slave

Emotional, wrenching, and lifting, this is a sure frontrunner for best picture. Chiwetel Ejiofor does a magnificent job as Solomon Northup, the free black man who is kidnapped into slavery. Holding nothing back, this film shows us the very depths to which some humans could sink in the era of slavery, going so far as to display brutal lashings, harsh beatings, and the results of slavemaster rape ("Hello, my free mixed-race daughter! Go tell your servant-mother that I require her for cleaning this floor!"). While it as at times hard to look at, it's equally hard to look away from and in the end becomes a film that should be seen by all.

Homefront
Homefront(2013)
½

Mostly it feels like Transporter settles down with a daughter, but James Franco is a great baddie and there are some great moments (especially with the daughter - fantastic job, girl) that really make this worth your money.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
½

As good (if not better) as the original, this sequel takes everything that happened in the first film and shows the consequences of it while still building towards the inevitable revolution of it all that will take place in part three. The new additions to the cast bring their A-game, and the comebacks do an even better job.

Thor: The Dark World
½

Possibly the most out there Marvel movie yet, T:TDW pretty much disperses with all Earthly boundaries and instead takes place on Asgard for the most part, among the godaliens and other such creatures that make up Thor's home world. While it's not as good as the original, it does have more of an emotional heft to it and gives some great scenes and lines to Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, and Stellan Skarsgård. That plus a semi-twisty ending and a couple good tease for future movies AND the best unexpected cameo ever keep this a worthy addition to the franchise.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Still funny, despite the obvious and at times tiresome attempt to take one Jackass "character" and turn it into a full movie like SNL did with "Wayne's World" and "A Night at the Roxbury" (among others).

The Counselor

It's basically a decent drug movie that thinks it's an Oscar-caliber treatise on corruption, trust, and (of course) drugs and the drug trade. Cameron Diaz is fantastic and should at least be considered for an Oscar nomination, but everyone else is just okay. The script is a bit all over the place, and the decision to never give the main character a name (other than "Counselor", I mean) just feels lazy. Hell, even his fiancé doesn't call him by his name and she's freaking marrying the guy. As great as both Cormac MacCarthy and Ridley Scott are, I really expected more from them.

Vanishing On 7th Street

One of those low-budget/little-cast movies. It's not horrible, but there's a certain tedium about it and the ending doesn't really feel properly justified.

Escape Plan
Escape Plan(2013)
½

I went into this expecting minimal plot, weak characters, and cliché action sequences. Shockingly, UI was surprised by the complete lack of those things. While it does mostly play out like a normal jailbreak movie, the design of the prison and the performances of all the actors - even Stallone and Schwarzenegger, who basically play either themselves or a combination of all their previous roles - lend it some legitimacy. There's a fairly boring sideplot going on with the employees of the company Stallone works for, but those scenes are over quick and then it's back to the main plot. This is probably one of the most fun movies you'll see this year and should be a model of how to bring aging action stars back to modern action movies.

Captain Phillips

A great script and directing by the man who brought us the similarly-true "United 93" make this a sure-fire winner come award season. The film constantly feels genuine and real, opting to portray Hanks's character not as a reluctant hero but just a common everyman who doesn't want to be any hero, reluctant or otherwise. The action constantly shifts between the seabound pirates and the captain and the rescue efforts of various naval and military agencies, giving a good idea of just how much of a ticking clock the situation was (even if the exact reasoning of WHY they couldn't let the pirates reach the mainland with Phillips was kinda glazed over). Also, special credit goes to Barkhad Abdi in his acting debut as the lead pirate, Muse, a role for which the young man deserves every bit of Oscar buzz being generated. In short, this is one of the best films of 2013, and gets my pick for best picture.

Carrie
Carrie(2013)
½

This movie can best be reviewed in several levels. First off, the performances by Moretz and Moore are fantastic, giving legitimacy both to the mother-daughter relationship between the two and to the extreme religiosity (Moore) and hurt-fueled anger (Moretz) of the two female leads. Second, for Stephen King fans, things do stay quite close to the book, with some updates made for new advances in cyber-bullying. As far as the movie itself goes, it's entertaining enough but doesn't exactly stick with you, so you'll likely be hard-pressed to remember anything major about it once a few hours have passed. The girls bullying Carrie seem to have gotten their degree in sadism given how determined they are and how much they enjoy this (I swear at one point the girl playing Chris actually cackled). Mostly it was a good time, though, so even if it was forgettable I still feel comfortable recommending this to anyone looking for a quick-and-fun run at the theater.

Gravity
Gravity(2013)

Impressive 3-D graphics, dizzying cinematography, and a stunning performance by Bullock make this one to watch for come award season.

World War Z
World War Z(2013)

Once I got past the fact that this thing had only the loosest possible connection to the great piece of zombie literature it's based on, I actually had a pretty good time. There's no real standouts among the cast, but the characters are all well-written and the script manages to fill; them with enough soul to keep you caring about them. The idea of horde zombies is original and the scenes where they amass and come together to get to food (re: us) were great. The ending might have benefitted from a little work (even if they are planning sequels), but overall I'd say this was a good movie inspired by (and not based on) a better book.

Prisoners
Prisoners(2013)

Hugh Jackman must be going for another Best Actor nomination, since his performance here is probably the high point of his career to date (Jean Val-who?). The story is at times both grisly and morose, but it ends up serving the characters well, for this movie is less about the plot and more about the characters and their reactions to it. The final reveal is shocking (in a way), and were it not for an overplayed moment towards the end, the script would be perfect. In the end, it's the dramatic version of a Saw film - something so great and dangerous that you want to look away and cry but can't.

Don Jon
Don Jon(2013)

Some great acting and an original story, but there's few surprising plot twists and the whole guido/porn thing may rub some people the wrong way.

The Family
The Family(2013)
½

A mafia movie starring Robert De Niro that's a comedy. That sound like a sure thing, considering the success of "Analyze This", but instead we get an overly violent and semi-consistent conglomeration that never quite pulls together. There are some fair laughs to be had in each individual story, but when the separate arcs are attempted to be brought together, the whole thing falls apart.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2

First off, I think Michael Emerson may be my new favorite joker voice, at least as far as evil and creepiness go (though Hamill still wins for insanity levels and Ledger combines all three). he manages to instill his Joker with unthought-of levels of fear and crazy which make him both hard to look at and hard to turn away from. With that out of the way, this second half of the TDKRe story feels just slightly removed from the first. The post-nuke scenes feel a little sappy, and the sudden dropping of non-orphan/non-poor Carrie's parents from the world is just pathetic, not to mention the apparent ease with which she gets over (life-shattering semi-spoilery event removed). That said, the uses of Superman and Oliver Queen/Green Arrow in the final act are sublime, and the ending is very satisfying, leaving us with a great movie that apart from one plot hole could stand as one of the best Batman films of all time.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

A great adaptation of Frank Miller's acclaimed graphic novel or a brilliant continuation of the 80s segment of the TAS episode "Legends of the Dark Knight"? Why not both? Massive props go to the casting department for matching what was seen and heard in that segment with what's on display here, although it's not as close together as the episode made it seem. Peter Weller is fantastic as an aging Bruce Wayne, and Ariel Winter (of "Modern Family") is pretty good as Carrie/Robin. The story is well adapted, and the end is a perfect setup for part 2, although fans of Batman Beyond may kick up a fuss about where that fits compared to this (answer: it doesn't, it's a different continuity, shut up). Even the weak Two-Face reveal gets some credit for dramatic impact, which gives this a rating of "Bat-tastic".

The Fighter
The Fighter(2010)

Powerful performances, a few great boxing sequences, and awesome chemistry between the family members make this film a knockout.

The World's End
½

The science fiction element feels a little strange and the ending is either brilliant or stupid, but overall it's another funny and mindless romp from the creators of Shaun of the Dead.

Lost Boys: The Tribe

If people judge movies on the acting alone, than this thing never should have seen the light of day.....unless it has something in common with its antagonists, in which case, bring on the sun. This isn't so much a sequel to one of the coolest vampire movies ever (although it is) as it is an underfunded and poorly acted fan film that isn't. There's plenty of callouts to the original, such as the redubbed and covered main theme of "Cry, Little Sister" (sounds horrible now) and some hints that Chris and Nicole may be the children of Michael and Star from film 1, but they're all overshadowed by the main event travesty. Even Corey Feldman's appearance as Edgar Frog, acting EXACTLY the same, feels slightly neutered from how he was before, making him a teenager in an adult's body instead of an adult who's been doing this since he was a young teenager. It almost feels as though this was a third film and that the real second film -- one showing the loss of Michael and Star and what happened to Sam -- is out there somewhere, never to see the light of day. Really, it's just an expansion on a franchise that didn't need expanding in an effort to either (A) make some more money, or (B) make Corey Feldman relevant. It didn't do either, though, and instead all we have is a bubbling pile of blood and ash that's gonna be a bitch to clean up.

Insidious: Chapter 2

Delving a bit more into the past mythology, this sequel takes a different route min it's scare tactics, being less "Exorcist" and "Possession" and more "The Shining". The ending sequence gives a new meaning to the word "twisty", and I liked the fact that they didn't try to copy the first film so much, a mistake that ultimately killed the Saw franchise. They do still leave things open for a sequel at the end, but hopefully they have brains enough to not include the Lamberts in that one, since their story is very definitively closed here. If anything, I guess what I take away most from this is that while the story isn't bad, I just hope the book isn't too long.

Drinking Buddies
½

Cute movie following the relationships and interactions of two twentysomethings who work at a brewing company. The movie goes in directions that vary just enough from what you might expect that it leaves you smiling, and the cast (at least the young ones.....no idea what Ron Livingston was doing there) are all terrific. Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson (of TV's "New Girl") are great as the titular buddies that may or may not feel more, and they have some good scenes together that can best be described as "improve-riffic". It's real, it's funny without being a riot, and it's got a good view on the line between relationships, love, and beer, and in the end that's what really matters.

You're Next
You're Next(2013)
½

Based on the trailers and word-of-mouth, I had high hopes for this movie going in. Coming out, I can say that they were met.....mostly. There is an honest chemistry between all the characters that makes them really feel like a family (with the occasional outside wife/girlfriend/husband thrown in), and the kills are delightfully gruesome. There is a bit of genre straddling between straight horror and horror/dark comedy, but that's a minor quibble. A larger wrong is the lack of reasoning given to the main antagonists once they finally reveal themselves (yes, there is more going on than masked killers, sorry to ruin your day). Still, as far as home invasion movies go, this may be the best of the bunch so it should definitely occupy a place on any horror lovers shelf before long.

Rapture-Palooza

Kind of a funny look at a post-apocalypse world in suburbia, although instead of the massive pain and death presented in "This Is The End", this is a much more pedestrian outing that almost looks more like if Canada invaded. Anna Kendrick is sweetly sarcastic and funny as Lindsay, the potential bride of the antichrist, and John Francis Daley brings the dry humor he perfected on Bones as Sweets to the role of Lindsay's boyfriend Ben. The pothead wraiths and demons are a bit one-note, but it's a very funny note so points for that. In fact, the only thing I didn't really like was Craig Robinson's beast, who was just so deliberately offensive with everything he said and did that I wanted to hit him....which is too bad, since Robinson himself can be quite funny (see "The Office" or "Hot Tub Time Machine" for proof). All told, the movie was good enough that I was happy with it and would definitely see it again.

Pitch Black
Pitch Black(2000)

Although it's filled with cliché characters and monsters that act like a combination of hammerhead sharks and the creatures from the Alien movies, it somehow still combines to create one of the best science-fiction/horror blends in recent memory.

Kick-Ass 2
Kick-Ass 2(2013)
½

Not quite as great as the original, but still with plenty of action to fuel fans of the comic miniseries on which it's based.

Spring Breakers
½

Word of advice to people seeing this -- keep a jar of Tylenol on standby. The time-cuts and supposed camera tricks used to make things interesting mostly fall flat and if they were cut out the film's runtime would probably drop by about fifteen minutes. On a similar note, the first thirty (eighteen?) minutes or so are so painstakingly slow that it's hard to really get into it, and it's not until James Franco steps onscreen as the charismatically creepy Alien that things start getting better and a plot presents itself....although even then it's still another ten minutes before that gets off the ground. Despite that, the second half of the film is pretty entertaining and Franco's performance is so hypnotizing it's hard to remember to look away from him. Unfortunately, that's not enough to make up for the what already happened, and that combined with a consequence-free ending makes this movie a just-barely dud.

Insidious
Insidious(2011)
½

More a suspense thriller with ghosts than an actual horror movie, this is basically a possession film without an actual possession. The two halves don't exactly match up and there's a left field twist about one character that feels a little hammed in, but mostly it's still a good excuse to spend some money.

We're The Millers

Looks like a road trip-meets-half-baked kind of film, but really it's the funniest thing I've seen all year. There's some predictability, but most of the time I was laughing too hard to really be bothered by it.

Epic
Epic(2013)
½

Mostly it's a Fern Gully for today's generation (and without all the heavyhanded talk of environmental impact), but the animation is up there and the characters are all deeply memorable, so anyone looking for a simple and fun animation should check this out.

Dirty Girl
Dirty Girl(2011)
½

A hilarious and emotional tale of two loser freaks. Juno Temple and Jeremy Dozier shine in the story of Clarke and Danielle, two misfits who get partnered on a flour child assignment and after blowing off both sets of parents go searching for her biological father and end up finding themselves (it's less corny than I make it sound). Both of the leads show incredible talent, and the script rocks with every emotion conceivable. Special mention needs to go to the costume and makeup designer, who manage to match Danielle's evolving personality to her look in every scene, and to the director.....or at least, to the crew member who had the bright idea to give Joan the flour bag a changing marker face that nearly makes her as much an active character as any human in the cast. Also worth noting are the roles of the parents, played with a unique perfection by Dwight Yoakam (Clarke's dad), Mary Steenburgen (Clarke's mom), William H. Macy (Danielle's stepdad-to-be), and an unexpectedly impressive Milla Jovovich (Danielle's mom) and Tim McGraw (Danielle's absent biological father, who pops up for a brief but heavy role near the end). This is a movie that's so full of love and laughter that you'll be crying tears of pain one minute and joy the next, which makes this one of the best movies that you could hope to see.

Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim(2013)

A moderately entertaining idea that seems like a combination of all of Toho Company's monster movies (Godzilla, Mothra, etc.), the Michael Bay Transformers movies, and Voltron. The script is laughable at the best of times and there's so little chemistry between the leads that the semi-romantic subplot between them feels torturous (and it isn't helped by the tacked on ending), but for the most part the movie stays strong throughout. It isn't until the last ten minutes that it all falls down and gets robbed of any dramatic impact. Still, it's a good ride that while it might not have any lasting impact, it will have you chuckling over the awesomeness involved.

The Heat
The Heat(2013)

While it is possible to make a good female buddy-cop movie, this mess certainly isn't it. Bullock's lines all feel stiff and unamusing, and McCarthy takes her normal brash loudmouth character, amps it up to eleven, and douses it in a vodka of offensiveness.

The Wolverine

Totally making up for Wolverine's last solo outing, this sequel to both that thing and the original x-trilogy has Logan wandering through Japan in a semi-adaptation of the classic Claremont-Miller story from the 1980s. The script has plenty of good beats of both the emotional and action variety, and the cast is awesome everywhere. Best of all, there's a pleasantly unexpected tease at the end for the next X-movie, Days of Future Past. Check it out now.

Elysium
Elysium(2013)
½

Exciting visuals, a good script, and so-so acting mark this latest entry from the director of District 9. It's mainly another commentary on class differentiation, although this time it's set in the future on an Earth that's turned into one big ghetto. Jodie Foster's pseudo-accent got a little annoying, but that was the only real problem I had. The ending is unsurprising, but the effects and other visual shots more than make up for it.

2 Guns
2 Guns(2013)

Like Lethal Weapon for the 21st century, this fast moving action pic doesn't waste time on unnecessary character development and instead gives exactly what the trailers promise -- a bullet filled ride through Mexico courtesy of Mark Whalberg's quip-filled mouth and Denzel Washington's steely stare.

Phantom
Phantom(2013)

A well-acted study of the Russian side of the cold war based on an incident that did happen and events that may have (so it's like Titanic, in other words). The different views expressed by the 'Russian' soldiers about their lot, the Cold War, and the American dogs are as varied as our own were about them at that time....a point that is less than subtle when brought up onscreen. Ed Harris is as commanding a presence as ever, and David Duchovny brings a certain air of suspicious mystery to his secret agentish scientist-soldier. The ending was just sad enough to get me to mist up without an actual tearfall so if you're a fan of Tom Clancy, patriotism, or submarine movies this a film to see.

Red 2
Red 2(2013)
½

A pure popcorn sequel with none of the charm and half the wit of the original. There's some funny parts and the character of Han is a good honorary member of the group, but mostly it feels like an explosion-for-bullet repeat of the first movie, right down to the way it ends.

Despicable Me 2
½

Better than the original and just as heartwarming. The romance between gru and Lucy feels a little unnecessary -- more there for storytelling than anything else -- but the minions are as cute as ever and the plot really does all the characters justice and helps them grow towards both the upcoming minion spinoff and (hopefully) a third movie.

Passion Play
Passion Play(2011)

If you gave me a movie with Megan Fox as Megan Fox with wings, Bill Murray as a gangster, and Mickey Rourke as a down-on-his-luck jazz musician, I'd normally charge into it grinning....which I did. Too bad the fact is a David Lynch directed adaptation of a Dashiell Hammet novel with none of the cool. The acting is generally good, especially by Bill Murray, but it's almost all nearly lost in the script and editing. The romance between Megan and Mickey alternates between sweet and weird, and while the angel thing could have been cool, the effects just make it dumb. Outside of Bill Murray, there's really nothing to recommend here so I'd say this is one film you can safely pass.

Now You See Me

Equal parts heist film and "The Illusionist", it keeps you entertained despite thin characters and a thinner story. There's no real deeper meaning, but fortunately there doesn't need to be. The ending is a little eyebrow-raising, but for the most part I had a lot of fun with this.

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)
½

Chock full of action and excitement, but a little bit of a let down . The big reveal regarding the main villain is simultaneously disappointing and delightful, and while the film is fantastic, it still leaves the viewer wondering what could have been.

Jaws
Jaws(1975)
½

The first horror movie I ever saw and one of (if not the) scariest films I've seen. There's a great brochemistry between the leads, and the shark is amazing to look at and react to.

The Conjuring
½

One of the most well-acted and dramatic horror films I've ever seen, and with none of the bloody excess or gore one would expect from the director of the Saw franchise.

Much Ado About Nothing
½

So graceful and elegant, it's hard to believe that this movie is by the man who brought us "Buffy", "Serenity", "Cabin in the Woods", and "Avengers"....not because those weren't great or well done, but because it's difficult to believe that a man known for butt-kicking females and sharp dialogue could handle a Shakespeare movie. In a way, though, that is exactly what makes him so qualified, at least for "Much Ado About Nothing." The intelligent strength of its females and sarcastic buffoonery of its males practically cry out Whedon's name (as an example, check out Jayne and River in "Firefly"). Everyone gives it their all, treating it just as Shakespeare should be treated, and it comes out shining. The set -- or rather, Whedon's house and front- and backyard -- are beautiful, and the music -- set to Shakespeare's own lyrics and composed by Whedon's brother Jed -- is toe-tappingly addictive. The jazzy nature and subtle care put into this make this film a definite template for future Shakespeare adaptations.

This Is the End

A comedy gem with so much hilarity and crassness in it you'll end up worrying about going to hell for enjoying it so much.

The Hangover Part III

No party, no hangover, and none of what made the first two films so great until the very end with what may be the weakest possible sequel tease I've ever seen.

Star Trek Into Darkness
½

It's hard to make a reboot that's better, or even as good as, the original. It's even harder to create a sequel to the reboot that's better than it. Surprisingly, J.J. Abrams managed to do both, filling the script with a ton of slambangwhizping action yet managing to devote an equal amount of time to the relationships between the characters. The surprise of who the main baddie is isn't such as much, but his performance really makes it his own and the resolution and how they bring everyone together again is also its own sweet thing, leaving fans wide-eyed and anxious for number three-B.

White House Down
½

Unbelievable action sequences (not in the good way), cornball script, and the least presidential president ever, but it's still a fun movie and is actually better than "Olympus Has Fallen".

Identity Thief
½

Predictable enough, but still funny most of the time.

The Purge
The Purge(2013)
½

Well, acted, original, and entertaining. Hollywood needs more horror movies like this.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation
½

It's best if you go in not expecting much. If you do that, things might be okay, since it is fun, even if it does ruin any chance at a sequel and most of the plot is laughable.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)

It's a lot darker than any other Superman, but it's still pretty entertaining and has a brilliant cast. If there is anything wrong with it, it's just the fact that the ending completely forgets about all the destruction that happened less than a month (movie time) prior.

Bikini Girls On Ice

Just this side of the porn/not-porn line. The script and acting are so equally bad that it's hard to tell which one is worse. The only real entertainment value comes from two things - the convenient coincidence factor and the curiosity over what awful thing will happen next (and I don't mean murder, nudge-wink). It's bland, it's formulaic, it's servicey, and it's one project that should have stayed "on ice".

Oblivion
Oblivion(2013)

Looks great and has a fantastic story, but some of the acting is a little stiff.

The East
The East(2013)

Excellently scripted, great setting, and perfectly cast. There is a little disbelief needed to imagine that these guys could do everything they do so easily and not get caught, but other than that the movie's great.

A Good Day To Die Hard
½

I was honestly hoping for more from this, but given what they've done I kinda hope that this installment is the last (which sucks, considering that Mary Elizabth Winsted is great as his daughter, so if she could have been used again somehow....)

The Great Gatsby
½

There's a lot to look at and take in this spectacular spectacle, and both Dicaprio and MaGuire turn in terrific performances, but despite it all the ending feels like you just got out of one of Gatsby's parties - windblown, confused, and trying to remember even the smallest detail of what you just witnessed.

Beautiful Creatures
½

Everything Twilight ever wanted to be but couldn't. Excellently written and cast, if a little off performance-wise in spots. The story was an excellent adaptation despite leaving out a few things that might have further clarified the roles and abilities of some of the people. Even more, the reversal of the normal Twilight formula (there - normal new girl protagonist meets strange local boy; here - normal local boy protagonist meets strange new girl) was welcome. We actually get to see the leads progress through all the typical high school relationship development stages (I hate you, you're strange, you're cool, I like you, let's go out, you're alright, I love you) against a backdrop that actually looks like the deep south with a supporting cast that acts and talks like they belong there and are regular teenagers. It's way better than Twilight, as well-acted as The Vampire Diaries, and has enough story potential to not only keep me interested in what comes next but possibly even to convince me to pick up a copy myself at the local bookstore.

Truth or Die
Truth or Die(2012)
½

Promising British film that despite its whodunit type plot (mixed with psycho killer, torture porn, and cabin in the woods) doesn't quite live up to it's promise. There were a few good performances, but most of the cast just blunders through churning out cliché performances.

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies(2013)
½

A bloody awesome zombie movie that owes more to Romeo and Juliet than George Romero. Nicholas Hoult deserves a lot of recognition for his work as R, the "zombie" who falls in love with a human after eating her boyfriend's brain. Surprisingly sweet and always hilarious, this is worth seeing for both the story and the characters. Teresa Palmer isn't exactly great as an actress, but for her role she does a good job. Definitely fun for anyone.

Dark Skies
Dark Skies(2013)

Well acted and suspensefully creepy, but not really scary.

The Oranges
The Oranges(2012)

A great cast, an original script, and only mild sappiness.

Pitch Perfect
½

Definitely lives up to the hype. The script is standard and mostly predictable (with the exception of one hilariously unexpected and utterly gross scene), but the real strength comes from the chemistry between the actresses and the surprising power from the singing. Original in idea and cute on heart, this is one of those films that you could watch twenty times and not get tired of easily.

Bridesmaids
Bridesmaids(2011)

Enjoyable enough, but not as funny as I was hoping it would be.

42
42(2013)

An extremely and oftentimes overacted tale of the first black major league ball player. The movie practically forces you to cry and/or feel bad for Robinson and there's nothing that truly sticks with you hard after leaving the theater, yet for all that it's still a tale worth seeing.

Batman: Under the Red Hood
½

Extremely intelligent, well-acted, and one of (if not the) the best offerings to come from DC's animation department.

Olympus Has Fallen

The die hard movie that should have been. It's heavy on set-up and ham, but that in no way detracts from the experience. Some of the acting is a little cheesy, but since that's expected given the plot it actually works. There are a few "yeah. right" moments and the movie falls apart on close examination, so so long as you avoid that everything holds up fine.

The Wicked
The Wicked(2013)

surprisingly decent. The makeup on the witch is kinda bad, but the script, acting, and effects are all pretty high caliber for a DTV movie.

Zero Dark Thirty

There are two truly great things about this movie - Jessica Chastain's performance and the entire forty minutes comprising the attack on Bin Laden's compound. Although the middle manages to drag at points while the search for Bin Laden plays out across computers and office desks, Chastain's drive and commitment keep propelling the story forward until the final act which plays out as though they really tagged along with the SEALs on the night it all paid off.

Django Unchained
½

A classic western told through the evil eye of Quentin Tarantino. Great performances (even though Sam Jackson was a bit hammy-cliché) and a hilarious script kept this ride fresh and invigorating all the way through.

Oz the Great and Powerful
½

A fantastic return to Oz that manages to pay homage to the original and build on what came before without feeling like a retread. The reactions of Oz (the character) are what you'd expect from a grown man thrust into this new world, right down to him sort-of recognizing the people he meets in Oz (the land). The cast is all magnificent, although the person who becomes the Wicked Witch turns into a cliché after her transformation, which I found kind of unfortunate, especially given what was done with the same character in Wicked, meaning she could have turned bad without turning hammy. Despite that, everything else about the movie is superb and there's even room for a sequel if the need for that is felt.

Evil Dead
Evil Dead(2013)

While not really better than the original, it's at least as good as. Fede Alvarez doesn't hold anything back in this remake/reboot/sequel (any apply). The cast is run through (literally) pretty quickly and they manage to be more relatable yet slightly less likable than the original quintet. The mythology of the book is expanded upon, and the movie makes it hard to pin down just who the new Ash is going to be (happy to report that my guess was wrong). I have mixed feelings on the rumor that they're going to be merging this with the original series, but overall it's just awesome.

The Evil Dead
½

A solid start to one of cult horrors most beloved franchises. Not as comedic as the sequels, but the effects and makeup are all college project dull, even when compared to other horror movies of the time. Sam Raimi does a great job with his material (literally - everything is his baby), but although the suspense and buildup are good the resultant scares seem to just be excuses to go grisly. Despite that, I did still enjoy myself and would give this a thumb up to anyone looking to expand their horror collection.

Premium Rush
Premium Rush(2012)
½

A great piece of popcorn that harkens back to older chase type movies like The French Connection and Enemy of the State. Michael Shannon initially comes off as annoying and cliché, but by the end of the film he has turned into one of the best villains of the year. The route/consequence bits were a little extraneous (though still fun), and while the movie does play up a LOT of things, so long as you can avoid taking it seriously it's a straight blast from start to finish.

Mama
Mama(2013)
½

It's easy to dismiss Mama as another horror film, but the truth is so much more than that. While it certainly does have it's share of scares, the truth behind it is the story of how cold and unforgiving, as well as how warm and loving, a mother's love can really be. It's almost a drama film, but the creepy visuals and third act jumps easily betray that. The final twist is both heartwarming and horrifying, a combo that few could pull off. and put this as one of the few horror movies that might actually be held up to future generations in a drama class under the heading, "do it like this".

Bernie
Bernie(2012)

Everybody loves Bernie, a real life Texas funeral director who was convicted of the murder of a local affluent widow, and with the performance jack Black gives - the best of his career - it's not hard to see why. Although it does have a lot of laughs, it would probably be better listed as drama, although there's nothing sad in it. Jack Black proves once and for all that he can dramatize with the best of them, Shirley MacLaine is entertaining as the widow in question. The film features some cameos from real life people who knew Bernie, and does an excellent job of showing how difficult upholding the law in court can sometimes be.

The Cottage
The Cottage(2012)

A pretty weak movie that mainly serves as an excuse for David Arquette to act innocent while leering menacingly. Although the plot does avoid being predictable it's less a suspense-thriller and more a good look at what a horror movie would be if the Hallmark or Lifetime channels made it.

Would You Rather

Basically, torture porn and "Ten Little Indians" go on a fancy dinner date. It is fairly original with some interesting characters, but there's also more than a few eyeroll events and no real surprises from the script.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

A good coming of age story that takes place in late eighties Pennsylvania. Logan Lerman does an okay job as the titular wallflower, but the real stars here are Emma Watson and Ezra Miller as his two best friends who are each others stepsibling. The music choices are very of the era and really help propel the story emotionally (key point: David Bowie's "Heroes"), and the script -- especially the last ten to fifteen minutes -- is award-worthy stuff that should have been nominated for an Oscar.

Wreck-it Ralph
½

Predictable yet fun tale set in the world behind the world of video games (or arcade games, anyway). It's full of cameos from classic game characters (my favorites were ken and Ryu going out for a drink after fighting each other). The animation, script, and performances aren't special by themselves, but when combined they manage to achieve some kind of innocent magic.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
½

Okay....not TOTALLY bad. The acting from the other vampires (except from two heavy-accent Eastern Euro-vamps) is acceptable, and the action sequence in the third act is ten to twenty minutes of awesomeness that I've been sorely craving. The trio have gotten the hang of their roles just in time to never play them again, and the casting of Mackenzie Foy as KStew and RPatt's daughter is creepy-accurate. However, the special effects (except for the wolf morphs, which have either improved greatly or I've just stopped noticing) are still less great than what's on the CW, and.....well, remember when I said that Foy is creepy-accurate about what the daughter of those two would look like? Take out the accurate part for seeing Renesmee as a baby and you'll get it right (not to mention Jacob's whole thing with her, but I'm not going there). I might give it a higher rating if the ending was better (I know they have to stick close to the book, but the promise of that action sequence spoiled me), but all in all, all I can say is that it was just entertaining enough for me to like it.

Skyfall
Skyfall(2012)

An excellent wrap-up to the James Bond origin tale that Daniel Craig has been starring in for the past seven years. Beginning with one of the best car-chases in a Bond film (topped with an even better opening sequence oh Adele will you sing for me next?) and ending with some super-sly nods that indicate the coming presence of a negative doctor, this is the Bond to end all. While the film does lose some traction at the start of the third act (Really? THAT'S what Skyfall is?), things recover to bring about a solid - and in one case, perManent - end. Also, Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem? BRILLIANT.

Devil Seed (The Devil in Me)

Creepy as hell, although the script and acting could have used some polish and made this look more like a college post-grad project - which is to say, good by itself but compared to other things, mediocre. Still, once the first fifteen minutes are past and the scares start happening, things move along pretty smoothly despite it all so it's still worth a look-see.

Taken 2
Taken 2(2012)
½

Just....wow. After a great first entry, the producers - prehaps unsurprisingly - felt the need to revisit Bryan Mills a year or two after he rescued his daughter, who is surprisingly upbeat and non-psycholigically damaged for someone who was nearly sold into sex slavery. Although the motivations for the villains follow well, the resultant actions everyone - on both sides - takes are highly suspect, leaving several spots where the viewer is able to think of something that would have made a much better movie. Even with all that, though, that could have been saved by a reworked ending:

1 - Mills doesn't kill the main guy (excellent performance by him, by the way) and after Mills's speech he instead turns the gun on himself instead, giving things a sense of drama and sorrow that could have made the film better than it actually is, or....

2 - After the above scene, there's a bit where Bryan finally meets his daughter's new boyfriend, who has been mentioned but never seen or heard. During the above scene the bad guy mentioned how he still had a son left, and if that son actually happened to be the "boyfriend" of Kim, well....that would explain a few things about the movie and would make for a good last scene too, possibly.

Sadly, they did neither of those, and what we're left with.....is dreck.

Les Misérables
½

I am somewhat pissed at the academy. Why? Because the cutoff date for Oscar nominations was already passed by the time this beauty came out. Granted, that may be for the best, since otherwise Lincoln might lose out on some awards it really deserves, like best supporting actress (Anne Hathaway), best actor (Hugh Jackman, best director (Tom Hooper), best adapted screenplay (duh), best set design, best costume design, and best picture. I was crying at multiple points throughout this thing, despite my best efforts to stay strong. Granted I wasn't a huge fan of his decision to have extreme closeups for the majority of the singing shots since people emote with their body as well as their face, but compared with everything else that's a pretty minor quibble. The whole cast turned in magnificent performances on both singing and acting fronts, and I was pleasantly surprised by Russel Crowe, who managed to not disappoint as Javert, although I still question his singing ability some despite the greatness of his performance. While there are moments that the bombast of the film feels a little overpowering, it never detracts from the performances, especially in such moments as "Master of the House" which has a bunch of little jokes occuring throughout the whole song. The whole production is impeccably mounted and should serve as a model for how Broadway musical adaptations should be done. (talking to you, Rent....)

Flight
Flight(2012)
½

Denzel may be going for another best actor nomination in this riveting drama which is the first live-action film directed by Robert Zemeckis in a good while. The actual crash sequence is fan-freaking-tastic and desrves its own award category (which it will undoubtedly win). Other performances are less impressive, but the script is nicely written and the movie does manage to touch you in that emotional sweet spot, though what emotion it pulls out is debatable.

Hotel Transylvania
½

It's official - Adam Sandler is at his funniest when he's animated and you can't see him....or at least that's the theory that this movie proposes, and it's a damn good one. The whole cast is brilliant and every character gets at least one scene they can shine in, from The Wolfman's clearing of sheep in a road to The Creature's (that being Frankenstein's monster, who really isn't ever named so don't call him Frankenstein cuz that's his creator not him) arguing with his limbs. The songs are all good and performed in-studio, which really helps the performance aspect of them, and even though there's one of those "We're all happy!" big song-and-dance numbers at the end, it feels like a good fit. Andy Samberg's guy does kind of get on your nerves at (frequent) times, but once we enter the home stretch and him and Drac start warming up to each other, that stops and you can just sit back and enjoy this Halloweenie great with or without kids while maybe even watching it accompanied by kids.

Black Death
Black Death(2011)

Highly stylized medieval thriller with long pauses for reflections on god's cruelty and evil interspersed between moments of pretty decent action. Sean bean is great as ever, but the rest of the cast seems to be a bunch of interchangable no-names (except for Eddie Redmayne, a highly professional no-name). It wasn't anything super-special, but it did manage to hook me early and keep me tangled in its lines with a "question what's real" ending and a great villain/villainess. Whether the reason for the plot is chance, luck, or something more sinister, it's still definitely worth a view for those looking for a new take on the old creep-'em-out.

Looper
Looper(2012)

A good movie with an interesting plot and spin on the whole time-travel and resultant paradoxes thing. Both Willis and JGL give stellar performances, even though the prosthetics JGL is wearing do nothing to make him look like Bruce Willis circa Die Hard -- all we get, especially in the "now to then" sequence, is shots of JGL, JGL looking older, Willis looking painfully done up to look younger, and Willis. Other than that (kinda large) quibble, the story was great and closed all loops quite well, with an ending that fixes everything (that for once I appreciate) and a script that promises that greater things are coming from the director/writer of Brick and The Brothers Bloom.

Lincoln
Lincoln(2012)
½

One of the best films of the year, with a performance that is sure to win Daniel Day-Lewis the award for best actor. I'm also calling best costume design and best director, with nominations for supporting actor, supporting actress, picture, adapted screenplay, and set design.

Silver Linings Playbook

Great cast with spectacular performances that more than make up for the occasionally weak script. Cooper and Lawrence - my two favorite modern actors - are phenomenal in this kinda-sorta romantic comedy which is really light on the romance. Robert DeNiro also does good as Pat's father who is struggling to reconnect with his son in the only way he knows - through betting on Philadelphia sports games. The dancing aspect of the plot feels a little tacked on at times and the way Chris Tucker keeps popping upme question the reliability of the movies police system, but overall I really liked this and will be looking forward to the time that Oscar nominations are announced to see if it managed to snag any.

The Words
The Words(2012)

Bradley Cooper does a great job and the ending is interesting, but the stuff with Ben Barnes as a young Jeremy Irons is kind of dull.....ironic, considering that that's the impetus for everything else that happens.

Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher(2012)

What do you get when you cross Ethan Hunt with John McClane and throw in a good dose of Frank Castle for good measure? Probably someone who looks a lot like jack reacher. There's never really any worry about whether or not things will work out for him because he's so badass that things just kind of fall into place for him, logic be damned. Tom Cruise may or may not be the right guy to play him, but he is definitely one of the more awesome characters to come onscreen this year. All the other characters are pretty much reduced to walk-ons by the presence of his greatness, and the idea of a romantic plot is pretty much torn to shreds. There are a few memorable setpieces to keep things interesting, and the story does have you question motivations and sides of some characters, but the sheer badassity of Reacher keeps there from being any concern over him, and in a movie like this, that kinda works against its favor. The script also contains a few laughs at the expense of audience expectations and the final setpiece is almost devoid of music which actually makes it better, but overall, it's basically Die Hard crossed with Mission: Impossible, only not as good as either.

Resident Evil: Retribution

About the only bright spot here is the casting of Kevin Durand as Barry Burton, every RE fans favorite gun-loving teddy bear. Everything else - the script, the settings, the casting, the music - is either an incoherent mess or an illogical travesty up until the final ten minutes, which consistof one awesome epic fight scene....until minute ten, when even that little logic is thrown out the window.

Argo
Argo(2012)
½

A surefire front runner for best picture. Ben Affleck continues to prove that he's a lot better as a director than he is as an actor (not that he's a slouch there, either). The performances are all top-notch and the script is one of the best out there. It's one of those "so unbelievable it must be true" stories that simply begs to be seen. It's beautiful, it's timely, it's amazingly put together, it's well acted, and if you don't like it, then, to quote the characters, "Argo fuck yourself."

Killing Them Softly

Not really a bad movie, but it's so dark and grim and the ending is so abrupt you'll more than likely be left going, ".....huh?"

Dredd
Dredd(2012)
½

A much better adaptation than the Sylvester Stallone vehicle. There's still a few things that don"t follow from the comics, but it's still extremely tough and future-noirish with a lot of awesome special effects and a few hints at potentially upcoming other parts of the Dredd-verse, assuming that there are sequels that get made.

Red Dawn
Red Dawn(2012)
½

Definitely one of those remakes which shouldn't have been released, but since all the stars have now hit it big....why not? Granted, it's okay if you don't take it too seriously and don't ask the big questions of how and why (which they actually do answer in a movie-logic sort of way), but most of the film deserves a raised eyebrow at best and a giant laugh of incredulity at worse. The acting is barely acceptable, and while everything fits and it is worth seeing, compared to the original and even just to other country invasion movies, there really is nothing to be said for this.

Ruby Sparks
Ruby Sparks(2012)

One of the best creation storylines since "Weird Science" (which it more than borrows a little from) combined with an incredibly heartwarming chemistry mixed with a heavy dose of reality. The ending manages to stay true to the world of the movie while managing to keep things real and ask the big question of what would really happen if you had the perfect girl who you could make in your own image.

Friends With Kids
½

Moderately funny yet predictable script. The two leads have some chemistry, though I'm not sure if it's enough to buy them as people in love....which given the plot, might actually be the point. The other characters all have their own little sparks to make them noteworthy, and Megan Fox does a surprisingly good job, considering her acting history and ability. The real star here is Jennifer Westfeldt, who not only has the main female lead role but also wrote and directed, making this entirely her show, a job she carries to the limit.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

A really fantastic ride that while not as great as LOTR is still at least as great as I was hoping. The dwarves are all unique and can be told apart, and I think everyone will get a favorite (me=Dwalin). Scriptwise, Bilbo doesn't get much development pre-quest, but once they get to the caves he really starts to shine....and by the way, Martin Freeman is brilliant as Bilbo, so thank you for that and the idea of starting it 6 hours before the first movie. (Mr. Frodo!) Non-Ringers might feel it's a little padded - and I guess it might be - but the real fans will appreciate the looks at Radagast the Brown, the White Council, and the adventures of Thorin and friends prior to meeting Bilbo, plus the last glimpse of a certain life-form just before the credits roll which makes up for the abruptness of the ending. Otherwise, the 3-D was the best I've seen since "Tron: Legacy" and the setting and music are as good as LOTR ever was and well worthy of the franchise.

The Road
The Road(2012)

Great foreign horror film that really delivers with a budget that's obviouysly not too great. The scares are good and keep you questioning just what is happening and if it's natural or supernatural (as they should), and the story manages to keep looping back on itself and connecting all three or four storylines. While the ending twist probably isn't as surprising as the filmmakers were hoping, it's still a fun ride (heh) getting there.

End of Watch
End of Watch(2012)
½

Really great acting from both actors, but there are times that the main device of just one guy doing the taping seems to be forgotten and I'm not sure if all the shots were supposed to be from his cameras or not. regardless, the story was good and it's nice to see that there are still some new notions that the found footage movement can explore. (he said blindly, expecting one about firemen now)

Bait
Bait(2012)
½

A more than halfway decent combo of Deep Blue Sea and The Mist. There's some good performances from at least some of the cast (Julian mcmahon, Phoebe Tonkin, Xavier Samuel, amd Sharni Vinson stand out), and the script stays just believable enough to keep you centered on what's happening onscreen. There is a problem with the ending in that it requires a lot of disbelief suspension and a character trait addition, and there's an absolutely horrible techno cover of mack the Knife playing over the end credits (It's about a killer, not a shark, dumbass), but otherwise it's an all-around good time.

Lawless
Lawless(2012)

Call it, "The Untouchables: Redneck Edition". This may be a definite contender for best picture with more than one shot at some acting trophies to. Shia Lebouf and Tom Hardy are both fantastic as two of the bondurrant brothers, and while gary Oldman is almost absent, he does a great job too. less pleasing, however, is Guy pearce, who's main directive in this was apparently to "Sneer and impersonate Snidely Whiplash." Other notable mentions would have to go to Mia Wasikowska and Dane DeHaan as two of of Jack's (LeBouf) friends that follow him into trouble. The dirt and heat from the Virginia setting practically radiate off the screen, and the heart of it, however misled, is worn on its sleeve and makes this one hell of a good movie.

Battleship
Battleship(2012)

Feels mainly like a collection of other movies (Crimson Tide, independence Day, Pearl Harbor, Iron Man for mood, transformers for sound, and Tron: Legacy for music) all rolled into one. There are some nice graphics and, admittedly, some decent acting, especially from Rihanna, who turns out to be a better actress than this movie deserves....and it doesn't deserve her. The plot is way more complex than is really needed, and the alien makeup is......it's just bad (although to be fair, the suits they wear are pretty cool). Oddly, the best part of the movie comes about eighty minutes in when the navy people just play a real version of battleship for ten minutes, which is just a bad sign when the best part of your movie is people standing around shouting out coordinates. Really, this is just proof that Hollywood can take a simple concept that doesn't need to be a movie, overcomplicate it from what it could have been (off the top of my head, rogue naval unit with a prototype cloaking system), and just plain ruin it.

The Woman in Black

Super moody and atmospheric (though maybe too much), and there's some great cinematography and set design, but the script leaves a lot of sports where it's basically just Ratcliffe chasing down jump scares up until the third act, when it's just non-stop freakiness. Still, Ratcliffe is at least good enough to prove that he may have a post-Potter film career ahead of him, and Ciaran Hinds manages to serve as a good partner for him. Despite that, though, the film mostly just plods beautifully along in a well-acted way until the final surprise at the end.

The Midnight Meat Train
½

Rolls along smoothly and scary until the climax, at which point things get all twisted and crazy in a way that they didn't really need to be. Bradley Cooper does a great job as night photographer Leon and Vinne Jones is intimidating as baddie Mahogany, which is impressive considering he only has ONE LINE in the whole movie. The gore level is way higher than it needs to be, but all other horror movie aspects are appropriate for the film. By the time the twist ending comes on (and it is a pretty good one), things are almost but not quite nicely summed up and leave us going "Whoa..." at the way they end things in a way that's not exactly complimentary but not exactly disappointing either.

House at the End of the Street

Take the standard after-school special, throw a Norman Bates guy into it, and you end up with this. It is kind of good, but only in that "so-bad-it's-" kind of way. I managed to guess at least part of the ending, although the full twist still surprised me, which I call good. Still, there is almost nothing happening until the final twenty minutes, at which point the movie does become really good. Unfortunately, that's not enough to save it from everything that came before.

How to Make Love to a Woman
½

Funny stuff looking at various types of relationships. Worth a rental if there's nothin else you haven't seen, if for no more than Josh and Krysten's performances.

The Apparition

What happens when you take the plot of Paranormal Activity and take out the found footage aspect? Ideally, you get something that turns out a lot better than this, since that's obviously what they were trying for. Nothing really scary (unless you count Tom Felton's hair), and about the only good thing was the performances and the "merging" effects. Other than that, the only way I can say something good about this is if you get me really drunk and.......no, probably not even then. It's just bad, and I'm just grateful that none of the main three were trying to legitimize themselves with this.

Whip It
Whip It(2009)
½

I honestly enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Ellen Page does great (as always), and although the other characters are basically types, the actors still manage to keep them interesting (especially Bliss's best friend and teammates). The sctipt was moderately predictable, and director Drew seemed to treat things mostly as one big party, but that still didn't detract from the fun. Despite the obvious "grrl power" stuff, it's a good movie with some awesome roller derby sequences that are intense enough to get any sports fan's fist pumping a little.

LOL
LOL(2012)
½

Nothing too great, although god bless it it tries. Miley Cyrus almost breaks through into legitimately good acting, but can't quite make it. The characters are amusing and fun to watch, but despite how much you care while they're onscreen once the show's over you'll more than likely end up going, "What was that?" Really iy's just a sweet, cream-flavored thing that wants to (but can't) be a serious teen romance flick.

Total Recall
Total Recall(2012)

When going to see this movie, people will find themselves in two camps - megafans of the original version, and everybody else (there's also people who actually know the story, but since I doubt they even bothered with either movie, we'll leave them out of it). For those megafans of the original, there is simply no way they'll be able to love this -- they'll see it, complain about how it stinks, cite scenes from the original and how much greater they were -- possibly leaving room to compare them to the throwback scenes producers of this remake threw in -- and then storm off in a huff wishing that they could unremember those two hours of their life.

For everyone else, though, this movie is pretty awesome. Colin Farrel is much more believable as a secret secret agent than Arnold Schwarzenegger could ever be, and the dueling Biel and Beckinsale are great (especially on the level of looking so similar to each other). The special effects in this one are eye-popping (in-joke, enjoy it), although to be honest I'm not sure if that's good or bad, so just take it for whatever. The final fight sequence is, at least, better than the originals, and the question of what exactly is the reality is given a more definitive answer, although that might be more bad than good. In the end, whether or not this movie will register and be remembered as any good depends entirely on the person seeing it and the memories they have (if any) of the original or the story or both.

RoboCop
RoboCop(1987)
½

Great story that's surprisingly touching when you consider what happens to the main character and how much of it he's aware of. While there are a couple things that look pretty crappy by todays standards (Paul McCrane's acid bath and ED-209 whenever it moves), RoboCop himself looks great for today....hell he looks better today than Terminator at any time. In addition, the acting is dead-on and really makes you feel sympathy for the character of Murphy/Robocop. Simply put, it's one of those films from the 80s that still stands today and simply needs to be seen.

Monster
Monster(2004)

Not much in the way of plot or story, but that's more than made up for by the actors. Theron's performance as Wuornos is definitely award-worthy, and the job done to transform her into the killed is frighteningly good (seriously, look at a picture of Aileen and then watch the movie -- it's freaky). Also good was Christina Ricci as her trusting but too intelligent girlfriend Selby (not the real name), bringing a large emotional vulnerability to the role. The journey of this pair on what is essentially (at least for one of them) an extremely skewed road trip through hell is simultaneously gripping and heartbreaking as we see the increased desperation of both of them and what each woman is willing to do in the name of love and survival. In the end, the movie manages to make you feel at least a little sorry for the character of Wuornos shown here (if not the actual person) and gives you a look at the life of one of the most notable serial killers of our time.

The Dark Knight Rises
½

Well, iit's over. After seven years, three films, and about a bajillion dollars, Christopher Nolan's much beloved bat-chise is at an end. The last chapted has been released, and it was....good? Now don't get me wrong, there was a lot to love in this film. The speciall effects were top of the game, and the script could have been written by Shakespeare. The action setpieces were brilliantly executed, and the conclusion was so beautiful it had me laughing through slight tears. In a way, though, that's also the movies weakness - the action, I mean. The setpieces seemed determined to top whatever one came before it, almost as though the movie was built for them instead of the other way around ("Let's blow up a football stadium!" "Okay! Where can we put that that it would make sense?"). Likewise for the script -- although it's a Batman movie, and he is in it, it's mostly Bruce Wayne's story, wherein he deals with the consequences of everything he's done in the previous two films (albeit eight years later). However, the acting was great, Anne Hathaway actually blew me away as Selina Kyle (yeah, I was doubting it, whatareyagonnado?), the ending was a nice wrap up, and Joseph Gordon Levitt was just awesome as Bruce/Batman's "sidekick" cop John Blake (except that's not his real first name wink). In the end, the movie was brilliant despite it's few imperfections, and until they start all over again as a way to make a Justic League movie, I think this might stand as the definitive Batman movie -- one that shows that you can break him, but you can't stop him.

Wrath of the Titans
½

Not quite as good as the original remake. There's a small subplot going on with a son that according to legend he shouldn't even have at this point that never really goes anywhere and some more father issues coming into light through new characters Poseidon and Agenor. Bill Nighy is pretty cool as Hephaestus, the gods' blacksmith, but he gets taken out almost as soon as we're introduced to him. Liam Neeson is still awesome as Zeus (despite being tied up for most of the film), but Ralph Fiennes's Hades has turned into something of a whiner between films. The good news? The fights are still awesome, the creature design is wow, Rosamund Pike kicks ass as the new Andromeda (although she looks nothing like Alexa Davalos....guess they did have plastic surgery in ancient Greece), and the set-piece leading to the underworld is a-maze-ing. I guess my biggest complaint is how far they're straying from the true Perseus myth, and I just hope that the sequel brings it back in line a little.

Hisss
Hisss(2010)
½

Just....bad. Crappy special effects complemented by an excess of gore, mostly mediocre-at-best acting jobs with one or two cases of overacting thrown in, and a script that simply begs for an incinerator. About the only good thing was the girl who actually played the snake goddess, because she spent the whole movie moving just like a snake on two legs (more impressive than I'm making it sound).

The Crow
The Crow(1994)

Dark, lurid, a little bit sexy, and incredibly violent.....like a supernatural revenge flick starring a Batman who kills. If nothing else, the film stands as what would have been one hell of a breakout performance for son-of-Bruce Brandon Lee, who does a fantastic job and pretty much carries the film, although Ernie Hudson (Albrecht) also does a decent job (forget the bad guys, though, especially Bai Ling.....cliches, every one of them).

The Expendables 2

Much like the first movie, this film was an exercise in trashy over-the-top violence and large explosions. The plot was preditable, the action sequences were unbelievable, and the film was rife with self-referential humor.....all of which made it supremely awesome. Once again Sylvester Stallone has managed to gather this crowd of action movie stunners and toss them into a movie which "plays" to all their variouos "strengths". There's a female computer hacker along this time for some reason, but most of the action is focused on Van Damme's French bad guy and the appearance of Chuck Norris (not just a cameo) as Booker and the return of Trench and Church (Schwarzenegger and Willis....and not just for cameos either). It's definitely worth an early showing, and there's even a hint at a third go round towards the end.

Die Hard
Die Hard(1988)
½

Really just a great action movie, filled with memorable moments and some of the most meorable one-liners ever (favorite: "Now I know what a TV dinner feels like..."). Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman are both fantatis as McClane (here in his introductory film) and Hans Gruber (possibly the smoothest evil mastermind ever concieved), and their places in pop culture history are truly well deserved. Reginald Vekl Johnson also does good as Al Powell, McClane's friend on the outside. The whole thing is awesomely put together, and even if there are a few "Oh, come on!" moments, everything else is so great in this series starter that it just doesn't matter.

Leningrad (Attack on Leningrad)

A different and possibly better than usual look at Russia during World War II. Shown in a mix of Russian-with-English-subtitles-assuming-you're-watching-in-an-English-speaking-country and English (with some German thrown in for flavor), the story is surprisingly heartfelt with a great cast led by a better than average (for her) Mira Sorvino. The mainly Russian cast - for it is a Russian made film, after all - all do spectacular, especially Olga Svutlova as Nina and the two children who play Yuma and Sema. The scenery is depressingly fantastic (that's a compliment....I mean, it is Russia during World War II, after all) and the ending is that perfect mix of happy and sad that all art house movies strive for.

Ted
Ted(2012)
½

As dirty and hilarious as a live-action family guy would be (complete with the occasional cutaway and anthropomorphic sidekick), but with enough heart (however hidden) to make it very difficult to resist. Mark Wahlberg and Ted have some excellent chemistry and the various stunts they pull and trouble they get into are equal parts hilarious and oh-my-god-really? (best is a party involving Flash Gordon/Sam Jones......and subsequent things also involving him). There is a kind of useless subplot involving a guy who idolized Ted as a child that only serves to bring about a cli9max, but other than that little bit the film was hilariously and obscenely great.

Elsewhere
Elsewhere(2009)

Excellent cast, although the script could have used a little work. The plotline is basically a James Patterson novel set in a high school (which I;m suroprised he hasn't done already, but regardless...). Kendrick manages to do a great job, but everyone else is trapped by the script. Some great midwest scenery and an ability to hide just who did what make this a worthwhile show.

Man on a Ledge
½

Good script if somewhat predictable. This is probably the most original idea for a heist flick I've seen in a good while. Despite the clever script, banks and Worthington aren't given much to do except talk to each other until the very end, but a neat little semi-twist at the end does make this film worthy of at least a second viewing (along with the little clippings shown during the end credits).

The Kate Logan Affair

An interesting riff on the old psychological-thriller-cum-affair-via-kidnap plotline. Bledel does good in her partr, but only when she's not in uniform, meaning she was better as a mentally damaged sociopath than as a cop. The canadian scenery (when seen) was good, although it really wasn't part of the story so for all you know it could have been anywhere in the northwestern part of North America. Still, the direction was good and there were a couple of neat if tiny twists so overall the movie was good.

Howling: Reborn

Another reboot of a goodish horror franchise that originated around the start of the 1980s. The wolf design here is a blend of underworld (good) and the wolf man 1933 (bad). Acting is TV movie standard, but the music is pretty good, especially the bluesy version of "Don't Fear the Reaper" that plays near the end. The script is pretty decent with some clever one liners and a few guessing games about motive and identity in the first and second acts. The ending sequence has a good "aliens" feel to it and the post credits stuff hints at a possible if not neccessarily needed sequel.

The Devil's Rock
½

Relatively mundane horror film that has some weak acting but good make-up effects and one hell of a creepy atmosphere.

Savages
Savages(2012)
½

A very good story about some very so-so people doing very bad things in the name of something neither good nor bad. There's an excell,ent script, some good torture scenes, and one hell of a supporting performance by Benecio Del Toro (he always does great torturers, it seems). I don't know about the script, but I definitely think Oliver Stone deserves some credit for directing one of his more memorable features. About the only thing wrong here would be the double ending, which may have turned the film a little.

Batman: Year One
½

An excellent animated retelling of the Frank Miller graphic novel. Fantastic voice work throughout that could almost be paving the way for yet another animated series or film sequels based on "The Long Halloween" and "Dark Victory", or perhaps even the other Miller bat-stories (Dark Knight Returens, etc.). Given the story, there's not a huge amount of work for some of the voice artists (Eliza Dushku's work as Catwoman [who she should have played in TDKR] could have been recorded in like a day and a half), but with the possibility for sequels that's not a huge issue. Reall the biggest problem I have with it is the complete faithfulness to the graphic novel, which wouldn't be a bad thing except for the fact that it means a lack of room for fleshing out parts of the GN that could have stood some (the relationship Gordon has with Essen, for example). Other than that, the crew on this did a great job and I look forward to more "bat-ventures" from both them and the cast.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
½

Okay, I'll say the obvious thing first -- the book was better. Way better. Of course, that by no means means that the movie was not also awesome. This thing answers a couple of nagging questions I had (how the hell does the wife not find out?) and even if it is different and ridiculous and absurd and oh-my-god-REALLY?, it's still a hell of a ride that you can't help but enjoy.

Young Adult
Young Adult(2011)

Good movie with some decent writing, but not as good as previous Reitman/Cody colloborations. Theron is marvelous and awardworthy as the stuck-in-the-past bitch protagonist Mavis, although everyone else is basically there to make her look bad/good/better/something, so I'm not sure what to with that knowledge. The music is kind of reminiscent of a grown up and jaded Juno (no surprise), and the scenery is incredibly appropriate for the script (bleak, cold, but still with a little seed of possibility). The ending is best described as depressingly optimistic, and while there is still a little hope for Mavis at the end, the fact is that she's probably gonna keep doing what she is, and you know what? That is just perfect and couldn't make for a better wrap-up.

The Amazing Spider-Man
½

Much truer to the comics than the original and increasingly emo Raimi version, this new take on Spider-Man keeps things grounded in who he really is - a teenager with some serious abandonment issues. Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Dennis Leary all do great performances, keeping things light and real enough when neccessary while still staying close to realism. There's nary a mention of Mary Jane or Harry Osborn, who both came in much later, and, well......it's just awesome.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance

Probably the low point of the series. Jackson is awesome as reluctant civilian partner Zeus, though mcClane in this one isn't quite as....clever....as he is in previous installments. jeremy Irons isn't quite as convincing a villain here as Alan Rickman or William Sadler (or even Timothy Olyphant) were in their films, and he seems to be more german than his "brother", which made that relation hard to believe for me. The action sequences are also lighter (except for the cab sequence), which is disappointing considering McTiernan (the director) also made the original Die Hard and Predator, both of which had some fantastic ones. The plot does pick up a little about a third of the way through the movie is still as enjoyable as the first two, but is it as good? Sorry, but no.

Brave
Brave(2012)

While it's not the best pixar has ever made, it is definitely in the top five, and maybe even the top three. The vistas of 12th or 13th century scotland are as breathtaking as anything James Cameron made for Avatar. The script is pretty standard and held few surprises once the second act twist was shown, but the cast was funny enough to make up for this. More of a mother-daughter story than anything else, this is definitely some high caliber work and is definitely worth a look.

The Sitter
The Sitter(2011)

Kind of a modern male "adventures in babysitting" type deal. There's plenty of laughter once they get out of the house and two of the kids do a remarkable job (the adopted one basically played to every chicano cliche in the screenwriters handbook....for shame, child). Sam Rockwell was hilarious as the super-aggressive drug dealer who just wants to be everybody's friend and may or may not actually be (a) a nice guy, (b) insane, (c) gay, or (d) any or all of the above. The ending is predictable standard, but everything else is so much fun so that's okay.

Men in Black III

Well, there are a few plot holes at the end, but for the most part it's a typical fun romp for the MIB, and Emma Thompson is great as new chief O (I actually do like what they did for Zed). The time travel stuff is funny if a little eyebrow raising, and the method of explaining why for one big question is not entirely outlandish (for the series, I mean....in a normal sense, of course it's outlandish). My complaints are with the difficult to understand antagonist Boris the Animal and the fact that one action at the end doesn't create some kind of bubble effect, but those lost points are gained back by Michael Stuhlbarg's hilarious role of Griffin, the time-seeing alien. Apart from those quibbles, it's a good show.

Snow White and the Huntsman
½

So much better than I had any right to expect.....and I was expecting a lot. The combination of Lord of the Rings style realism with the mythology of Snow White works wonderfully, and the cast all turn in magnificent performasnces. Similarly, while I can understand those who say that there is no way for Kristen Stewart to be fairer than Charlize Theron, I can only say that they're using a different definition of the word since that one word could mean either beautiful, benevolent, or moderate, so.....yeah. At any rate, all three of the mains perform admirably, especially Theron, who has some of the best outfits I've ever seen (Oscar calling....). The design of the creatures and the forest (dark and light) are also great and bring to mind another couple of fantasy directors named Peter and Guillermo. It's not a perfect film -- I couldn't quite buy Snow as a warrior; rebel leader, maybe, but not a warrior -- but it is a great one, with enough mythology left for a possible sequel.

Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows(2012)
½

Less of the dark gothic soap opera it should have been and more a saner and more evil Addams family. While it's clear that Tim Burton definitely has a strong love for the source material, things onscreen play almost as though they're making a tongue-in-cheek version rather than taking it seriously. Johnny Depp does do a fantastic job as Barnabas, but the whole rest of the cast seems to be playacting in their roles and those who revere the collobarations of Depp and Burton (Nightmare before Christmas, Ed Wood, etc.), would be better advised to revisit one of those instead of checking this dog out too.

Piranha 3DD
Piranha 3DD(2012)
½

As I said about the last one, this is another of those "so bad it's good" movies, only this one might actually be better than the original, even if it does leap more logic fences. Ving Rhames and Chris Lloyd are back from the original, and the Hoff is doing a good riff on his celebutard status. There seems to be more of an attempt at plot in this one, but by the halfway point (literally -- the film is 82 minutes, and the gorefest is ready to go at 41), that's all been abandoned. There is plenty of blood and massacring, but unfortunately the plot device of an "adult" water park seems to pave the way for a number of shots of implants jiggling. Flipping back to the plus column, the main characters all seem to take things seriously and even when one of them (Kyle) is a dick you can still kind of relate to him. Again, though, there is still Chet, who is so much of a dick that you're practically begging for him to get gutted by the fish and the sooner the better. The ending is kind of "WTF?" and leaves the door for another so-bad-it's-good entry, so all in all I'd say the movie delivers exactly what it intended to.

Gone
Gone(2012)
½

Good movie, but not as good as it thinks it is. Jill's whiole search for her sister seems to be based on the convenient coinicidence train, since she literally goes exactly where she needs to and everyone automatically believes whatever her latest story is (although she, meaning Seyfried, tries really hard, which is good). The cops are mostly there to be ineffectual roadblocks, and even her one maybe-ally doesn't do much and is completely forgotten about past ther halfway point. Sebastian Stan, one of the few other characters worth anything here, does a great job as the sister's boyfriend who might be helping Jill. The script (despite being full of cliches) does do a good job of keeping you guessing about who the actual kidnapper is (I don't think there was a single person I didn't suspect, including Jill herself), but the end sequence is again another of those convenient cliches that rob it of meaning. Heck, even the final "battle" between Jill and the kidnapper is so abrupt you'll wish it had dragged on for a little more. That really is a shame, since with a better script, ending, and characterization, this thing might have been worth the cost.

Coriolanus
Coriolanus(2011)
½

Very modern, very present, very now, very well-acted, very good. The setting, a disenfranchised modern city calling itself Rome, could have been any modern city in this current time of economic upheavel, and the actions and jobs of the characters reflect such. Fiennes does brilliantly both in front of and behind the camera, as do his costars (though I wish Jessica Chastain had been given more to do, since she's a fine actress -- see "The Help" for more). The sets are dirty, falling apart, and look horrible......which here means they couldn't be more perfect. It's all just so perfect, and I can only hope that this inspires some more military leader Shakespeare epics set in modern times ((President Julius Ceaser, anyone? Could be.....)

Griff the Invisible
½

More of a love story than the trailers make it look, and pretty cute and magical for all that. Ryan Kwanten gets a chance to show how far he can act, and Maeve Dermody is sweet as his girlfriend Melody ("Like the song, right?"). The ending is a little hard to predict at one point, but you'll be smiling fondly through tears of joy and laughter when it comes.

Project X
Project X(2012)

Basically the hangover set in high school and filmed by that freaky A/V goth kid who everyone is sure went to the same school with their older sibling......they think. The jokes are crude and constant and in some cases painful (choose your meaning of that last statement wisely, you won't be wrong regardless). There's very little substance to any of the characters and hardly any character development (I guess it all went to Chronicle), but if you're looking for an NC-17 Hangover featuring minors, here you go.

Prometheus
Prometheus(2012)
½

There's a definite connection to Alien here, but like Ridley Scott kept saying, it's not really a prequel. Moreover, it's a xenomorph-origin story than a "where did that distress signal come from?" story. The performances are good, and Michael Fassbender is amazing as the baby-skinned, angel-faced, semi-devil-minded android David. Charlize Theron is also pretty good, and there are some moments that have you questioning whether or not her character is also an android. There is definitely more to the story than what's been shown here (sequel fodder for sure), but much like Noomi Rapace's determined and frightened archaeologist, anyone looking for answers -- CONCRETE answers, that is -- will be disappointed. There is, however, enough evidence to suggest that they just might be seen in the future (in another movie or on another planet, as it were).

Suck
Suck(2010)

Just....no. If ever a movie were to turn me off vampires, this would be it. McDowell gives (deliberately?) the worst performance of his career, sad to say. The music is generaslly painful to listen to, though there were one or two not-so-bad ones. The main rock band guys actually make things a little fun, but the girl manages to drag things back down by vamping it up at every opportunity (pun mostly not intended). The script makes it difficult to actually give much of one about any of the characters, and although it's neat to see so many rock stars in one place they're not really onscreen long enough for it to make a difference or add to the story (except for Alice Cooper, who rocks).

The Raven
The Raven(2012)
½

Semi-predictable but beautifully put together piece focusing on the last days of Poe. The outfits are beautiful (girls and guys, but especially girls), the scenery is forboding (even for N'Awlins), and the music....well, everyone misses a step somewhere, but it definitely served while the movie was playing, so there is that. The ending was almost a kind of deus ex machina to tie in the fiction with the facts of reality, but otherwise I enjoyed it.

Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction(1994)
½

Intelligent violence has it's day. Some of the most quotable lines in movies with some of the most memorable characters (Vincent Vega, gone but not forgotten). Some of the situations are a little outlandish, but given that it's a Tarantino movie that's almost expected (also, his role of Jimmy in "The Bonnie Situation cracked....me....up).

Marvel's The Avengers
½

Ever since the end of Iron Man, when an eyepatched Sam Jackson appeared in Tony Stark's living room and told him about "The Avenger Initiative", comic fans the world over have been holding their breath for when they would hit the screen. Now, four years and five movies later, that time has come and it has been well worth the wait. Joss Whedon, that perennial comic-loving nerd who dubs himself the ultimate fanboy, has delivered the event movie we fanboys have been waiting for.

Everything here has been handled with extreme care. All characters behave just how they did when handled by other directors (it helps that most of them are helping behind the scenes somewhat), and Whedon is able to take the multiple source and still keep things moving through the marvel Cinematic Universe's "reality blender" at a logical and sensible speed. All open plot points from other movies are covered, and there are enough open threads at the end to pave the way for sequels in both this and the characters' franchises. Heck there's even a couple post-credits sequences, one of which flat-out tells you who the next threat is and the other showing what may be the real reason the Avengers were assembled in the first place. On top of that, Mark Ruffalo -- the lone new guy who wasn't a hero in another movie -- does such an awesome job as both Banner and a Hulk who actually looks like he came from his actor (thank you, Gollum) that he effectictively ensures his place in all Marvel movies as long as he wants to be there. (On a similar note, please let Angie Harmon play his cousin Jennifer Walters, a.k.a. She-Hulk, in an upcoming movie like that one picture she tweeted because oh my god yes)

Now, the movie is not without it's flaws. Things move at lightning speed, leaving little time to catch up with why everybody is suddenly friends ("Here's this guy. He's Crazy. Got it? Okay, this guy's really strong. Okay? Here, have a hammer-wielding brother with issues. Next!"). Granted, the timeline of the movie dictates that things feel rushed, but even still, it left a nagging feeling despite the awesome. Also, for all the time focused on the character of SHIELD agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders oh god I hope I spelled that all right), you would expect her to have a bigger role than (apparently) Nick Fury's gopher. Alas, maybe in the sequel...Those quibbles aside, things were everything a fan of the movies (marvel, that is) could expect, and while it may not be for all moviegoers, it is definitely for all comic fans (even the so-called DC purists, loved your justice league movie by the way oh wait never mind).

Fido
Fido(2007)
½

Possibly the only zombie movie that could actually be called "heartwarming" and "family-friendly". Possibly one of the most orginal comedies I've ever seen with better-than-you'd-first-expect performances by Carrie-Anne Moss and Dylan Baker. Basically, it's Lassie with zombies instead of dogs (heck, the little boy in it is even named Timmy. I know, right?)

Age of the Dragons
½

Interesting twist on the tail of Moby Dick and Danny Glover dioes a not-too-bad job as Captain Ahab (burned here instead of with a ruined leg), but the leads of Ishmael, Queequeg, and Ahab's daughter Rachel (here a foster daughter instead of another ship) could have used some acting and chemistry lessons, the dragon design effects are pretty down there even by straight to DVD/TV standards, and the moral additions to Ahab's character don't exactly improve things.

21 Jump Street

The original 21 jump street series was famous for one thing....,.putting Johnny Depp's name in the public eye. Other than that, the very idea -- that a group of cops who look young enough to be in high school get assigned to pass as high school students in an attempt at a narcotics investigation -- is sheer stupidity. Fortunately, this movie is well aware of that fact and not only embraces the stupidity but actually cops (pun!) to it and runs with it. The filmmakers know how dumb everything is so rather than playing it straight, they play it for laughs while still keeping the plot legitimate. The performances are all great and the cameos from the orignal actors (especially Johnny) are fantastic. It doesn't matter if you loved the show, hated the show, or never heard of the show -- this movie still rocks.

Lockout
Lockout(2012)
½

Hilariously predictable stupidity and amazingly hilarious fun. Despite the utter absurdity of, well, everything, the very illogic of the movie makes it's badness implode onitself and turn the film into something good. It's the kind of film that Michael bay would nominate for an Oscar, and yet it's still great.

Fishtales
Fishtales(2008)
½

Custom built for girls twelve and under. There's a few laughs and the scenery is great, but everything is pretty predictable.

Immortals
Immortals(2011)

Much like Cell, this movie is full of astounding visuals, a not-too-impressive script, and one character who's so bad you can't help but like him a little (Stargher/Hyperion). It's great when you're watching it, but with the exception of a few memorable visuals you'll be struggling to remember why you liked it two weeks later.

The Wild Hunt
½

Tales of a LARP exercise gone horribly wrong in a "Romeo and Juliet" fashion. Great script, some so-so acting with a few notable exceptions, and pretty kick-ass scenery and costumes considering their origins. Definitely worth a look.

The Arrival
The Arrival(1996)

Pretty regular body snatchers stuff, except without the snatching. Sheen spends most of the film running around trying to figure out what's going on. There is one twist at the end that I didn't expect, but other than that it was formulaic, but still good, even with the environmental warning crammed in there.

The Divide
The Divide(2012)

Nine people get trapped in their basement's fallout shelter (built courtesy of a paranoid super played by Michael biehn) and must survive the end of the world, outside forces, and each other. The main plot is nothing that hasn't been seen before -- the original "Saw" comes to mind, as well as "The Day After Tomorrow" to a certain extent -- but most of the performances are good enough, such as Ashton Holmes reluctant-to-get-involved yuppie writer and Michael Biehn's landlord. The ending is predictably bleak, but where the film really shines is in the use of music, with the score being performed by only a simple piano playing increasingly complex variations on the same theme. Definitely worth a look see, even if the end is as visible from the start as a mushroom cloud from a manhattan high-rise.

The Cabin in the Woods
½

Awesome awesome AWESOME!!! Contains nods to every horror film you've ever seen and the basement section is filled with such imagination that the eventual ultimate blu-ray version could contain a choose your own deathventure type deal with that. The variety of monsters present is astounding and the effects and design used to bring them to unlife is great. Joss Whedon definitely knew what he was doing with this, calling upon his experiences from Buffy and Angel to get the look and feel of everything right. As far as humans, the five teenagers (ha!) are all good (although, through no fault of his own, I couldn't stop thinking of Hemsworth as Thor), but the real stars are the secret agent types that the movie keeps cutting back to. The ending is totally awesome and eaves you wanting to know more, which of course we won't get, and if there is ever a prequel for this thing than I will definitely be first in line.

Justice League: Doom

Another good turn by the folks at DC animation. The voice acting is great on almost all counts (sorry, Nathan-as-Hal), and the casting is as well (again, sorry Nate). The script is a relative adaptation of the tower of babel storyline from the JLA comics, which had more heroes originally (Plastic Man, Aquaman...), but the film does good with who it has, leaving a heckuva tale about possible betrayal and certain annihilation with a voice cast that had me giddy (Claudia Black, Tim Daly, Carl Lumbly, Kevin Conroy, Michael Rosenbaum, Alexis Denisof, Juliet Landau.....all that was missing was Summer Glau as someone and i'd have been set for life).

Tomorrow, When the War Began
½

Although it is based on a YA book series (as most everything seems to be these days), there are some definite similarities to Red State, the american "teenagers waging a guerilla war in their invaded homeland" movie (and it's unfortunate remake, natch). That being said, each of the seven leads does a great job, giving solid performances worthy of pretty much any movie. There's rarely a moment that the post-occupation atmosphere isn't fully realized, and their nervous distracting chatter about who's kissing who and such actually felt pretty genuine, as a way of keeping them from thinking too much about the fact that they could die at any moment (much like real soldiers will make plans for when they strike it rich back home). On that point, the script is very serious, never losing sight of the fact that these are still teenagers waging war with their own viewpoints on the situation, rather than a group of specially trained black-ops mercenaries as some reviewers below seem to forget they're not. The ending is extremely open, leaving things very up in the air for the characters should the production team get clearance to film the rest of the series. Even if they don't, the open ending still works well, showing that these kids aren't goping to save everything all at once and that they are still humans prone to failing, making this one excellent film by the time it's all over.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
½

Just....wow. This film, while still following the plot of the book, bears no relation otherwise to the other film adaptations and should thus be judged on its own merits rather than in comparison to the 2009 Swedish adaptation. Rooney Mara gives an awesome performance as Lisbeth, and she definitely should have won the Oscar for her role here (no offense to Meryl, who's a great actress herself, but COME ON, MAN!!). Daniel Craig also did alright, but his performance never really anchored me in the character of Mikael, leaving me to rely on what I knew from the first book and the three Swedish films for that. How this didn't get nominated for Best Picture and best Director at the Oscars is beyond me, since at the very least it deserved the nominations, if not the wins. Finally, in response to something that Niels Arden Oplev, the director of the 2009 version, said when he stated, "Why would they remake something when they can just go see the original?" Well, to that I say, "Why would you adapt something when you can just go read the book, moron?"

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Much more of a courtroom drama than the previous films, but with a good enough script to keep things enjoyable and satisfying.

Boy A
Boy A(2007)
½

A great look at how perception and the world can screw up a man looking for forgiveness. garfield gives a wonderfully understated performance as jack, and the film itself leaves you feeling sorry for the lad in spite of what he did and wishing that he'd been able to find the forgiveness he'd been looking for in spite of what another boy did.

American Reunion

Okay, class, let's have a little history lesson. American Pie? Really funny. American Pie 2? Gross-out hilarity and the best of the series. American Wedding? The bachelor party scenes were awesome enough to rate it, but otherwise it was a tiny bit less good than American Pie. The spin-offs focusing on Stifler's relatives and friends thereof? Funny in their way, but not as good as the originals.

Which brings us back to American Reunion, the eighth piece in the series and the fourth from the main pie. Thirteen years after graduating, the orignal East great Falls gang has their high school reunion. As expected, mishaps (some Stifler-instigated) occur, mistakes are made, junk gets hit, Jim gets embarassed, and by then end of the film things are back on track and the guys have grown a little. The catch here, though, is that it's more of a detour back to a reality than a road to a new and better place. The jokes here feel more tame and predictable than in previous cuts, and the only new storyline worth keeping track of (Jim's Dad and Stifler's Mom) follows an unsurprising route. Even the late addition of a revenge/redemption bit for Stifler himself involving another character's parent can't make this more than a still good slice of comedy that at this point we've had so much of that we really can't stomach any more.

Dr Seuss' The Lorax
½

Given the subject matter of Dr. Seuss's 'The Lorax', one can hardly expect it to be all sunshine and rainbows. The animation design is gorgeous and the script (for at least the first forty minutes) is innocent enough, but once the real story kicks in, things take a very serious turn, and I for one applaud it. The cautionary warning inherent here in the pro-environmentalism, anti-capitalism tale is displayed in full force, which is wonderful considering how easy it would have been for the producers to water it down some. On the productive side of things, DeVito is absolutely perfect as The Lorax, who only wants the trees to be left alone, and Ed Helms is simultaneoulsly naively amusing and innocently diabolical as The Onceler. It's really their story, and anything involving Zac Efron as Ted and Taloy Swift as Audrey is a side note to make things lighter, although I did enjoy Betty White as ted's grandmother/co-conspirator (also, ted and audrey for the kids' names? Genius.). Two sequences, though, were better than the whole rest of the film. First is the introduction of The Lorax, where he comes out of a tree stump, sees what's been done....and silently, with tears in his eyes, builds a grave marker out of any nearby stones with the assistance of the local animals. Second, after the onceler has destroyed everything, the Lorax, realizing that everything's ruined, gathers the remaining animals and leads them to a place that will hopefully be a lot nicer. These two two-minute sequences spaced forty-five minutes apart in the film get the whole point of the movie across better than anything else possibly could.

John Carter
John Carter(2012)

A moderately close adaptation of the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series. Most of the effects and sequences have a "same yet different" feel to them, but the movie is still entertaining enough to watch and recieves bonus points for including the books point of Carter being a relative of Burroughs.

The Hunger Games
½

Helloooooo, oscar-nominated franchise. Everything about this film simply screams perfection. The locations, the shots, the music (I'll admit, I can't get Taylor Swift's soundtrack song out of my head), it all comes together perfectly. Most impressive was Jennifer Lawrence's performance as Katniss -- if she is going for another Oscar nomination, I would not be a bit surprised, since she totally deserves it. Although some people might (like me) dismiss it as Twilight with action, about the only thing in common with that other YA series is the fact that there's a love triangle, which you could say for a lot of movies. In reality, this film has more in common with Mad Max and other post-apocalyptic future movies than with that teen-girlcentric series, and I can't wait for the next installment (and to get my hands on a three-in-one paperback collection of the book series).

Drive
Drive(2011)

Simple and predictable, but with enough action and good acting to give you a good time. The real star here isn't actually Gosling (who does great, don't get me wrong), but Albert brooks, who in a just world would have been nominated for and won a Best Suppoirting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Rose, the most reluctant and most cruel crime boss that I've ever seen on screen.

The Good Student

The perfect movie to exemplify the term "middling". It's not really bad, but there's few things to make it good. The ending was kind of neat, and the way it keeps your mind flipping between potential suspects right up to the last frame was cool, but mostly it's something that looks like a bunch of friends who happen to be famous and better actors filmed over a week between more serious projects.

Lady Death
Lady Death(2004)

Despite some neat visuals and decent characterization, the voice acting was only "meh" and the plot was a mish-mash of all the origin stories from the comics, making this little more than mindless entertainment for Lady Death fanboys to drool over until they realize how much better it could be.

My Week with Marilyn

Fantastically written piece. Branagh is absolutely amazing as Laurence Olivier, and Michelle Williams, while not as impressive as K.B., is sublime as Marilyn Monroe in the later, drug-filled years of her life. Eddie Redmayne is less noteworthy as Colin Clark, but he still does a respectable job as the third assistant director (re: gofer) on The Prince & The Showgirl around whom the titular week (though it's more like a month or three) takes place. Filmed at the same studio where TP&TS was, things really translate magnificently, never letting you doubt just who these people are supposed to be (at least for the main roles). The occasional musical interludes of williams covering some of Monroe's songs were also well done, if a bit cheesily choreographed (unless that was was the point given the era, in which case they're brilliant). Regardless, the film, while not itself a masterpiece, still contains some grand performances (though I'm less certain of an Oscar for Michelle than I am of one for Kenneth) and is a must for all classic film fans and people interested in a certain buxom blonde named Norma Jeane Baker.

Requiem for a Dream
½

Gripping performances, an addictive script, and one of the best scores I've ever heard in a movie mark this tale about four connecte lost souls going through slightly different yet slightly similar tales of addiction. The only downside of it is that the ending is so bleak you might want to kill yourself after watching this otherwise fine piece of film.

The Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll
½

Not exactly original, but still a great piece with an awesome soundtrack and a fantastic performance by Jason Ritter. Kevin Zegers also does an okay job, at least when he's playing "Older Spyder".

The Ides of March

A chilling political drama about just how far some people might go to get their candidate elected, or at least make sure the other guy doesn't get elected. The script is tight, the performances are perfect (can there be a best ensemble Oscar? No?), and although the music is good there were times when it seemed as if it was an action movie soundtrack that got drunk and wandered into the wrong film. Seriously, though, if Clooney had gotten his best actor 2011 nomination for this instead of The Descendants (hell, even if they only called him supporting, since it's really Gosling's story), he would have won without question.

Elvis & Anabelle
½

A surprisingly sweet mix of young romance, light comedy, and light drama. Blake does a great job as Annabelle, the young reluctant beauty queen who wakes up on an embalming table after "dying" onstage, and Joe Mantegna is sweet and tragically charming as the handicapped father of Elvis, the unlicensed mortician who almost embalms Annabelle. For his part, Max Minghella's performance was a little less stellar (I think his main look was "scowl", with an occasional reluctant grin thrown in for variety), and although I did enjoy his and Blake's scenes I thought the chemistry between them could have been improved some. Also, there is one plotline regarding a possible pregnancy from Annabelle's stepfather that gets utterly abandoned about twenty minutes in. Other than that and a couple of eyerollingly almost-cliche moments, the film was incredibly beautisweet and is definitely worth a look, even if it does get somewhat predictable in the end.

Safe House
Safe House(2012)

It's hard to believe that this isn't a Tony Scott movie, since there's so many action scenes and fights throughout the movie that there's barely any time for your blood to stop pumping long enough to let you realize how thin the movie actually is. Washington and Reynolds both do great jobs with their roles and the chemistry between them is great, but even they can't make the script stand up to be better than your average corrupt government movie. By the end of the film, there's little explanation for why Washington's character is suddenly trusting Reynolds enough with his inevitable secret, and the ending is either a great set-up for a sequel or a total cop-out. In short, it's a Diet Government Training Day, only Washington is more up-front about what side of the blurry gray line he's on.

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

Possibly the most well done of the saga, since for once there were no "really?" moments that the characters took as par for the course. Everyone seems to have finally gotten the groove on their roles, which really is a shame since this is the last (alright, second to last) movie. The design of everything was pretty good, and the switch midway through to jacob's POV was welcome, considering how most of what he thought was probably most of what the audience thought too. In any case, both he and Charlie had probably some of the best lines, and the script....well, it worked. There are some quibbles with both the music (which is total bollywood, in that it tells you how to feel flat-out rather than suggesting it) and the pregnancy make-up (is an R rating really that bad? we all know what a pregnant woman looks like, after all). All in all, I would say that it's another more than two-thirds decent entry in the film series.

Best lines....

Charlie: "Are those graduation caps?"
Renee: "Oh! How original!"
Charlie: ".....or weird."

Jacob: "....Reneesme? Really? It's..." (really it takes Taylor Lautner's delivery to make it great)

Jessica: "You think she'll be showing?"
Mike: "Seriously?"
Jessica: "Come on, who else gets married at eighteen?" (FORESHADOWING!!!)

Glengarry Glen Ross
½

Fantastically acted piece based on the mamet play. Nothing too special by itself, which means this work is highly reliant on the actors, and boy do they come through. Alec Baldwin's single scene is possibly better than most of his full-length work, and jack Lemmon is a joy to watch as the much harassed old mentor trying to hang on. Definitely a treat for those who enjoy character studies over plot-driven flicks.

This Means War

A funny new take on the whole "two guys for one girl" conceit. The real value of the film lies not in the script (which is predictable and missed out on a twist) or performances (which are entertaining, but not really noteworthy) but the gags. Every spy movie gadget you've ever seen comes into play here for purposes which would make the DoD shit a brick if they knew about them. There is a terrorist subplot going on that Pine and Hardy are supposed to be working on stopping (I think), but that gets lost in the main story and really serves as nothing more than a climax decision motivator -- neccessary for what it is, but forgettable, unlike the rest of the film. To be honest, I'm kind of surprised that this isn't a remake of a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks/Kevin Kline movie, since if this were the early nineties I could totally see them in the Lauren/FDR/Tuck roles, respectively.

Chatroom
Chatroom(2010)

Excellent lighting and lensing techniques, making the online scenes feel even more present and "there" and the real world scenes more flat and lifeless, which pretty much represents proantagonist (yes, he's both) William's viewpoint throughout. In fact, the presentation of online events is kind of a comedy in itself, taking digs at online predators, trolls, and sexting, among other things, which works to offset the darker and more ominous aspects of the script. The characters, with the exception of William, are all pretty much taken from the Hollywood guidebook to high school friends.....at least on the surface. Once the film gets a little deeper, you start to see just what's huiddden in them that you would never see online. The music is pretty minimal and is just present enough to provide an element of sppookiness, and the occasional animated segemnts (courtesy of William's flash skill, I imagine) are about equal to the standard talking cats video -- stupid, but still kinda funny, which in a way makes what they and the film are saying even creepier. It's a little hard to determine just how what's happening online corresponds to what (private messaging, search engines, etc.), but things move briskly enough that it doesn't matter too much. As for the climax, which plays out in both cyber- and real-space, it's surprisingly tight and well-assembled, with one minor exception that's big enough to drive a train through (hint-hint) which puts an abrupt and semi-confusing end on a not too bad movie.

Chronicle
Chronicle(2012)
½

By this point, nearly every filmmaker in the western hemisphere has taken a stab at some sort of "found footage" film, be it fictional documentary, mockumentary, or THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED BUT NO ONE KNEW AND NOW IT'S TOO LATE TO SAVE ANYONE INVOLVED OH NOES! Lifely within the next couple of years, this particular genre will burn itself out and the "discoverers" will go back to making music videos and whatnot. However, there is one person of this type who might actually have a future beyond the FF movies, and "Chronicle" is his hardcore debut.

The setup is basic comic-book origin. An introverted punching bag, his coolish cousin, and a jock friend of said cousin find a hole in the forest with a strange light coming out of it. Three weeks later, the trio are all developing the ability to move things with their mind. After some experimentation, things quickly go haywire and dark sides begin to be unleashed as previously unthinkable revenge fantasies slowly start coming true...

Part of the fun of found footage films is figuring out just how they did what they did. Most of the time it's easy to say "ball on a stick, next", but here the ball moves around at hyperspeed along with an equally levitating camera. As if that wasn't enough, a near-seamless scene that takes place twenty thousand feet in the air involving a football and an airplane will leave jaws gaping in delight. The climax isn't exactly surprising, but it's still a delight to watch. Some performances are a little weak, but by the end of the movie so much cool stuff has happened that it's easy enough to forgive those players just on principle.

The Son of No One

Two or three decent performances (Holmes, Pacino, Tatum) and an intriguing hook are about the only notable things here. The main story is soon forgotten in favor of a cover up of same, ironically. In fact, the 1986-plot, which tells what actually happened, is much more gripping and would have made a better movie if that was all it was instead of being thrown together with a "16 years later" thing. As for the cast, they are equally muddled. Tracy Morgan tries for a good dramatic debut, but thanks to the script he's reduced mainly to muttered whispers. Juliette Binoche is wasted as a supposedly crusading reporter, and Ray Liotta and Al Pacino are in normal-for-them cop mode, which is good for Pacinon but bad with Liotta. Channing Tatum tries for credibility as a cop -- and succeeds, to a point -- but for the most part all he is allowed to do is glare at people (with vvarying degrees of meanness) who won't tell him what's going on. Sadly, the biggest cast casualty is Katie Holmes, who appears in about fifteen to twenty minutes of the movie as Tatum's abandoned-in-favor-of-the-job wife. She does a terrific job, to be sure, but the actual impact her character has on events is so small that her presence is barely felt when she's offscreen. Music and location are all new York cop rote, and the ending offers no real surprises other than a burning desire for a better movie.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

Testament that Brad Bird is definitely rady to graduate from animated kids to adult live-action, and also showing that Tom Cruise can keep making these films so long as his limbs are in a functioning capacity and his prettiness has not deserted him. Although the plot gets a little out there at points (have these people ever actually seen a real sandstorm? Also, leave the spider-man stuff to spider-man.), the film itself works as a whole and continues to keep the franchise staying strong. Hell, my only disappointment was that Josh Holloway didn't get more time to try and shed the "Lost" cloak, since he was in this one about as much as Keri Russel was in the last one and Anthony Hopkins was in the second. Hell maybe that's the formula: lotta hype for a big star = in it for about eight minutes. If that's the case, here's hoping Alec Baldwin is in the next one.

Horrible Bosses

Darkly humorous, but Jennifer Aniston and Charlie Day make it fun. Kevin Spacey is pretty much playing John Doe from "Se7en" in an expensive suit, but otherwise the script is manic with just enough spots for Bateman's sarcastic humor to come through.

Tower Heist
Tower Heist(2011)
½

Funny, frenetic, and frothy. This working-class version of Ocean's 11 is light on seriousness and heavy on comedy, but it's still a good way to spend money at the movies.

The Grey
The Grey(2012)
½

All the elements of a good film with none of the script.....like Daredevil. Everything was pretty predictable, right down to the order the guys died in, and with the exception of Neeson (who is turning out this kind of film pretty much yearly now..., seriously, first "Taken", then "Unknown", and now this?) and possibly Anderson, none of the characters made mnuch of an impression. In fact, most of my time with the film was spent just trying to figure out who was who, which I wasn't really able to do until there were only three guys and fifteen minutes left. True, the camera work and scenery are brilliant and the encounters with the wolves are well-executed, but for the most part this is another journey throughn the Liam Neeson Meanness Machine.

Napoleon Dynamite

Quietly funny, meaning that while you won't be rolling on the floor, you will first smile then chuckle and finally guffaw at the antics of this lovable loser as he tries to get his Mexican best friend elected class president and fails to realise his friend who's a girl has a crush on him. The characters are all endearing their own dorky fashion (THRILL! as his crazy Uncle Rico tries to use a time machine to get back to his glory days as a high school football quarterback! GASP! as Napoleon's grandmother goes joyriding on a dune buggy! LOVE! as older brother Kip falls in love with a large black girl three times his size! ) and the film's unspoken message of doing what you think is best and not caring what other people think is just great.

Puss in Boots

Spinning off from Shrek in classic Zorro style, the movie we were all expecting is finally here.....except it's more of an angry wet housecat than a tame tiger. Taking the idea of Puss as a crusading Zorro type figure even further than they already had, the minds behind the "Shrek" series here hand the reins of franchise making to the ferocious feline who debuted in Shrek 2. Strangely, his backstory gets played with a little, being modified to include time spent at an orphanage in a mexican-esque town where he meets Humpty Dumpty (played to hilarity by Zach Galifianakis) and encounters with a female tom (Salma Hayek) with dubious loyalties. Although there is room for more Pussy (Heyo!) movies to bring him closer to where he was when Harold hired him in Shrek 2, this film, at the least, feels closer in spirit to Toy Story than the actual Shrek films.

Red State
Red State(2011)

Kevin Smith takes a stab at combining action and horror and this is the result. Although it veers wildly all over the place, killing someone just as you start to root for them, that actually ends up being one of the draws of the film. I would have liked it more if they had kept Smith's original apocalypse ending, I think, but as it stands it makes a pretty good three-quarters done effort at pissing off both church and state (which is good, since if it was all done the film would never have been released).

Ginger Snaps
Ginger Snaps(2001)
½

Acting is kinda b-movie, although Perkins and Isabelle (and to a certain extent, the guy who played Sam) keep things interesting and moving and emotionally investing. It's actually kinda funny in an eye-winkingly sarcastic, "I can't believe this shit but why the fuck not?" kinda way. The gore factor is pretty high for the time and there to seems to be some underhanded metaphor between menustration and becoming a big hairy beast once a month, though that might (yeah right) just be me. In fact, a good twenty minutes of the film seems to be dedicated to talk (re: ramming down your throat) of menustraion, thanks in part to an overbearing mother (Mimi Rogers) who I think was supposed to be comic relief but ended up just making me squirm uncomfortably and wait for her to leave the scene. The rest of it is normal monster in high school territory with tv for research, jocks and prom queens as victims, and drug dealers with hearts of gold for sources of information. All told, it's a pretty fun romp (except for that Must Worship The Period mother I mentioned) that deserves its cult following and gets bonus points for being the only horror movie to make me a little misty at the ending.

Paranormal Activity 3

Kind of a letdown after the first two flicks. It takes away the supernatural mystery surrounding the creatures origins and puts it in control of a more earthly force. Though there are some good scares and the hardcore fans might appreciate it, on the whole we would probably have been better served with an actual sequel instead of this equally-wanted-but-not-quite-filling prequel.

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
½

Kind of a cliche setup. The script is less than Shakespearean, but is just creepy enough to get by at certain infrequent parts. The pattern for the movie seems to be lengthy buildup for big scare moments that are all too infrequent. The characters all play into types -- the disbelieving and overbearing father, the trying to be a friend stepmother, and the wide-eyed and innocent little girl who it all centers around. The music seems to fit the setting, but at the same time it veers back-and-forth between something from a failed Wagnerian opera and an early and forgotten version of the Nightmare on Elm Street theme. Really the best part of this film is the ending, which is not to say that the film is bad, but rather that it's totally worth everything that's built up to it both in levels of creepiness and story beats. In short, the film is definitely worth checking out if you're into its genre, but otherwise it's a tough call as to whether or not it's worth the five-plus bucks admission.

The Holiday
The Holiday(2006)

Funny movie about two women -- one from England, one from LA -- who trade houses for the last few weeks of December (or, a Christmas movie without the Christmas). The romance stuff is predictable and cliched, so the sole unique draw here is for the comedy. Fortunately, there's plenty of it in stock -- enough so that when the ending you know is coming arrives, you'll still be smiling.

Last Holiday
Last Holiday(2006)
½

Funny movie of the misdiagnosis tripe where Queen Latifah takes off for the alps thinking she has only a few weeks to live. Plenty of laughs and a few girl power moments propel this vehicle.

Disney's A Christmas Carol

Not too bad....the animation was brilliant and the (voice)acting was well-done, especially by those (like Oldman and Carrey) who had multiple roles. Really, if there is anything wrong with it, it's just that the animation was a little too cartoony looking and not very realistic (I speak mainly of the human characters here).

Surviving Christmas

Cute enough and funny with a typical predictable holiday ending.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
½

A great sequel that ends things for Holmes and Watson as definitively as the first movie started things. The two remain cinema's most entertaining couple/partnership and Jared Harris gives a rather understated yet no less compelling for that performance as Moriarty. I have mixed feelings on Rapace as Sim, since she is a good actress but there wasn't exactly much for her to do other than provide some info for the boys. Stephen Fry, on the other hand, gives an absoluteley impeccably hilarious show as Holmes' brother Mycroft, which includes posssibly the best nude scene in the history of cinema. Other than that, the script was fantastic and the story and action sequences (the train, a factory yard, a forest chase outside same) were all brillitant and put a great bookend on the story of the world's greatest detective (and don't talk about batman.....holmes could dance circles around that boy).

Crazy, Stupid, Love.
½

Possibly one of the best romance movies out there. Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Kevin bacon, and Emma Stone all do a fantastic job, and each of them has a fantastic chemistry with everybody else in the movie. There's a few surprises in there as far as how people relate to each other, and although the end isn't exactly happy, it will still leave you smiling.

Our Idiot Brother
½

Not entirely bad...there were some laughs in it and it was kind of heartwarming, but at the same time it was fairly predictable with a lack of whatever it is that keeps me invested in it.

The Ward
The Ward(2011)
½

Frankly, I'm surprised that Carpenter isn't more embarssed that his name is actually attacjhed to this. The script was filled with cliches and what few scares there were were totally unoriginal. None of the principals (even Lindsay Fonseca from Nikita! Nay!) give a credible performance and although the ending was a nice cool surprise it still doesn't make up for everything that came before.

Shrooms
Shrooms(2008)

Pretty decent film with an environment that lends it a good scare factor. Five college students (and a sixth from Ireland) travel to number six's homeland to partake of some local fungi, and end up being hunted by a maniac in the woods. The ending wasn't a huge surprise given the content and everything else that happened, but it was still properly effective, which I guess was a plus. There weren't any canned performances from any of the main six, despite the fact that every character was ripped from from Alan Smithee's book of character creation, and the eay things were cut together was eerily like a real shroom trip (I imagine, that is...uh....moving on!). The best part of the whole movie, though? There was a talking cow. Seriously, how can you go wrong with one of those in your movie?

Super
Super(2011)
½

Funny yet disturbing tale of a loser who dresses up as a hero and starts fighting crime with nothing but a wrench after his wife leaves him. Rainn Wilson is perfectykly and pathetically lovable as Frank, the main character, and Kevin Bacon is appealingly appaling as his so-called "nemesis'. There is some violence glorification at a few points, and Ellen Page switches between frightening andf awesome and hot and disturbing so much and so quickly that I have no clue what to think of here. I guess my final opinion is that it's a movie I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend, but if someone asked me about it, I'd still give it an endorsement.

Another Earth

A fantastically original film that manages to focus entirely on the huiman side of the discovery of a parallel earth. Excellent performances are delivered by the main cast, especially Britt Marling who plays Rhoda.

Real Steel
Real Steel(2011)
½

One would think from the trailers that this is basically "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots: The Movie". In a way, one would be right, but this movie actually has more in common with a Richard Matheson short story called "Steel" (which itself was made into an old Twilight Zone episode) than that good old game. Hugh jackman does a terrific job in this semi-futristic Rocky-styl;e tale about the future of boxing. The tech for the robots is extremely well done, bringing to mind the tech that brought dinosaurs to life fifteen years ago for "Jurassic Park". The script doesn't waste time on anything futuristic and instead focuses entirely on the characters, and it's this decision that grounds this movie in realistic drama-tech instead of "Speed Racer"-style future shlock.

In Time
In Time(2011)
½

Interesting concept and it's pulled off well, but the ending doesn't really solve the problems posited by the script, so unless they have a sequel set to do just that, I might have to chalk this up in the "see it once and get it over with" column.

The Thing
The Thing(2011)
½

For once, a prequel that doesn't disappoint. While not quite as good as it's predecessor, this movie delivers in all points, answers every question it proposed, and by the time it's over everything is set up perfectly in order to start the original Thing. The acting and script are both top-form and even though the ending isn't closed, that doesn't detract and might even make the film better (and speaking of the ending, excellent job of tying it in to the start of the last film).

Extreme Ops
Extreme Ops(2002)
½

"Cliffhanger" with half the brains and twice the steroids. It's enjoyable enough, but the the characters are pretty much all predictable all the time. It's basically one of those movies where you don't regret seeing it, but at the same time you can think of plenty of ways it could b e better.

The Help
The Help(2011)
½

A seriously fantastic film that deserves every oscar it's sure to get. Emma Stone does a fantastic job, managing to stay funny while proving that she has some serious dramatic chops on her. The script is by turns funny and moving, and if you walk away unaffected from this you need to trade in your withered old soul for a fresh new one.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil

Not quite as good as the original, but still fun. This almost but not quite as hilarious sequel finds Red and her friends investigating the disappearance of an ancient recipe and the kidnapping of Hansel and gretel in a classic noir plot featuring two related yet separate cases. Hayden does a good job replacing Anne Hathaway and the script is just workable enough for a kids movie that borders on grown-up entertainment.

Tekken
Tekken(2009)
½

Although the setting is off both the general plot and character bios match up in this mish-mash of several of the Tekken games. Fans of the series will appreciate all the detail in each characters look and style, and there are a few nods to classic moments and storylines from the games. There is some setup for a sequel, but it's not really neccessary and might actually make a good movie a really bad series.

See This Movie

It's the story of the making of a movie within a movie about a movie that doesn't actually exist.....and if you followed that you stand a good chance of actually liking this. The script and performances are both funny, and while the end result is basically a college film that managed to get produced by big-time people, that in no way keeps this from being a good film.

Dreamland
Dreamland(2007)
½

So disappointing, which sucks because you can tell that somewhere in here is a great movie just begging to be made.

Apollo 18
Apollo 18(2011)

Paranormal Activity in space, basically. It's hard to predict where it goes, which is definitely a plus, but there's no real scares and by the time the movie ends you're left with that old familiar feeling of "That was it?"

Shark Night 3D

An entertaining if predictable excursion. While it's nice to see that not all the co-eds are from Models Inc. and that the first victim is from that company, the main survivors are exactly who you'd expect and given lines from commercials it's pretty easy to figure out whodunnit.Also, the 3-D-ness of the film? Put it this way -- I saw it in 2-D and know for a fact that I missed exactly nothing.

The Bang Bang Club
½

Another well-acted piece depicting the struggles of post-Apartheid South Africa. This particular film looks at the trials of photographers trying to tell the story for the world. Although Ryan Phillipe's so-called accent can be off-putting at times, the rest of his performance is good enough to make you forget it. The scenery would be considered amazing were it not for the fact thatwith this being the umpteenth P-A film out there it almost seems "been there done that" by now. The film itself is still well-made and worthwhile, but without something special to make it stand out, there's really nothing in it to make a hard recommendation for it.

50/50
50/50(2011)
½

Possibly the best film about cancer out there (I know that sounds weird, go with it). Terrific performances by the three leads (Kendrick, Gordon-Levitt, and Rogen in the perfect mix of a dramatic and comedic supporting performance) and a script that can actually be related to combine to make a dramatic movie that's so funny you'll forget to be sad.

Moneyball
Moneyball(2011)

Some definite Oscar bait here with a possible best actor nod for mr. Pitt. Great ballgame sequences and a terrific script are the highlights for this tale of the GM for the Oakland Athletics who revolutionized the game by choosing players with actual talent instead of just players who lookedgood.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

The biggest, most beloved adaptation comes to a close at last in grand old fashion. Pretty much everyone who was ever in a Harry Potter film returns here in this smash closer which manages to give hope to millions of Potterphiles the world over that our long held dream of seeing Harry and Oscar meet will come true. There are changes made from the book that some fans might get upset over, but with one epilogueic exception those changes are worth it.

Fright Night
Fright Night(2011)

Looking at the poster, my first thought is that this is a remake of a good movie that shouldn't be made. Once I get past that though, I remember how utterly fantastic the movie actually was, updating what needed updating, leaving out what should have been left out, and creating some vamps that look like a cross between 30DoN and the guys from BtVS (series, not movie). The best part of it all is that there's plenty of room for sequels, prequels, and spin-offs gore-lore.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Awesome film. Pretty much the only questionable thing is any scene featuring James Franco actually doing sciencey stuff. Other than that, everything is perfect and makes this a worthy reboot to a classic fuilm franchise (note: the term reboot is used loosely, since I have no idea if this is a prequel or an actual god's honest reboot for the whole series).

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
½

Well, it was bound to happen. Michael Bay made the third transformers movie we knew he would, and as expected it turned out the way we were expecting. It's pretty much routine at this point, so if you liked the first two you'll like this, but I was really hoping for something more to end the series on.

Sanctum
Sanctum(2011)
½

Predictable fun with some awesome visuals. Ioan Gruffudd is especially terriffic.

Just Go with It

A funny yet predictable Adam Sandler flick with Jennifer Ansiton as his destined love interest. No big surprises, but it's still something that you can pick up and enjoy over and over again without getting bored.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Awesome film. Marvel continues to show their know how in the movie business with this piece of awesome that will please Cap fans of all ages. Although the pre-serum Cap is a little freaky looking, everything once he gets juiced is fantastic. The costumes are really genuine and I loved the authenticity of the original costume (the USO one, I mean). Even more, the way things end (or begin ;) ) is great and makes me unable to wait to assemble for a certain movie next year.

Cedar Rapids
Cedar Rapids(2011)

Possibly the funniest film you could imagine about a previously untapped comedy gold mine -- namely, insurance agents. The cast is nothing special, but Ed Helms manages to make this thing hilarious, easily straddling the border between naivete and outrageousness. Although there's few real surprises, the script is heateningly honest and does leave things open for a sequel, should the creators decide to go that route.

Cowboys & Aliens
½

Epically made of awesome win. It would have been so easy to screw things up, but Favreau almost entirely forgets about the aliens and treats the whole thing as more of a traditional western that just happens to have outer space travelers (and ot the friendly kind) in it. Everyone takes their roles seriously, and if there is a flaw it's that the characters barely comment on the super-advanced technology the "demons" are using and just go with what they're presented. Other than that, everything -- the western-style music, the scenery, the traditional western-flavor bookends -- is top-notch and makes this story nothing short of win.

Bad Teacher
Bad Teacher(2011)
½

Funny in spots, but not exactly memorable. There's no real comeuppance for her despite all of her less than legal activities and though she gest the right guy in the end and turns things around (kind of), the way it happens is just kind of cliche and painful for all the other characters involved. Possibly the one bright spot (apart from one eager young female student and the dodgeball teaching method) is The Office's Phyllis Smith as her seemingly only friend and the only one with enough balls to call her out on her shenanigans. Apart from this, pretty much everything else -- Timberlake as a nerdy substitute, the romance subplot, the cheating thing -- can just be forgotten and swept under the rug, making the whole movie the equivalent of one big extra credit assignment that a lot of work was put into and still ended up sucking.

Triangle
Triangle(2009)

Not so much scary as incredibly suspenseful. This latest of films taking place in the Bermuda triangle is both wholly original and fantastically written with an emoitionally creepy final twist that will really take you by surprise. Although it does start off looking like a bad movie, once you reach the twenty minute mark and the first twist starts, you will not want to stop watching.

Boogie Woogie

Good cast, but the script is heavily forced and some of the actors (chiefly Danny huston and Gillian Anderson), good as they are normally, seem to have trouble taking it seriously. Alse strange is the presence of a British accent in Anderson's mouth, which serves no real purpose other than giving her character an extra and unneccessary feature. The plot, a character study set in the artworld, has about six different branches going off in a hundred different directions, and because of this it's extremely difficult to care about anyone in any of them. By the time the final perplexing shot comes up, it seems as though the fillmmakers were trying to be DaVinci but ended up being jackson Pollack.

The Hobbit
The Hobbit(1978)
½

My first introduction to dwarves, dragons, wizards, and most importantly, those wonderful tiny people who live in holes in the ground (though not dirty smelly holes, to be sure). Although it doesn't hold up well, especially in light of everything Peter Jackson has done, Smaug is still bloody terrifying and the story is at least mostly consistent with the book, even if it does leave a few things out and make Gandalf just a tiny bit scarier than he should be. All things considered, the best part is Gollum, and if you're looking for an explanation, just go watch his scene, and if you still want one, compare it to another movie that came out twenty-five years later.

Dead Space: Aftermath

really cool stuff and a must have for fans of the Dead Space franchise. The whole flashback section (or sections, depending on how you see it) has a definite "Aliens" feel to it, from the chatter of the team to the mood of the Necromorph attack in space happening while all systems are failing. The interrogation sequences leading up to each of those sections are a little less exciting and are basically there to provide a framework for the meat of the story, but since both the flashbacks and the interrogations are equally well-written there's not that much room for complaint. Best of all, the ending is perfectly in keeping with the games and provides a nice sequeway to Dead Space: Ignition and through it, Dead Space 2.

The Mechanic
The Mechanic(2011)
½

To quote an old droog I once knew, this film is a bunch of the good ol' ultra violence. Statham does his usual thing of kicking eighty three kinds of ass and Foster is cool as his stoic apprentice who is also the son of his mentor, whom he killed (everybody got that?). The plot, a remake of a Charles Bronson movie, is almost Shakespearean, and the scenery and action sequences are a lot more dramatic than one normally sees in this kind of flick.

Brick
Brick(2006)

Interesting and appealing take on Dashiell Hammet set in a modern day California high school.

Twelve
Twelve(2010)

Interesting concept and good cast, but the script makes everything fall apart. Also, the constant narration -- even if it is by keifer Sutherland -- is just annyoying.

I Am Number Four
½

"I am number four" reminded me of Twilight in a way, in that it's got the main character torn between two potential partners -- one nice but willing to get rough, and one who's totally badass. Fortunately, the comparisons end there. Here the mythical beings are not vamps and werewolves but aliens and John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is the fourth in a group of nine survivors from his home planet who may be able to set things right (I think....that part's kind of fuzzy). His love interests are played by Dianna Agron (Quinn from Glee) and teresa Palmer. Agron is the human Sarah hart, a cute outcast photographer who ends up being John's life love, and Palmer is Number Six, a fellow alien who is much more interested in blowing up the interchangeable bad guys (their leader is played by Kevin Durand) then....well, anything else. Also present is Timothy Olyphant as John/Four's guardian Henri, which is a basic exposition role somehow made cool. The effects and music are great, and the ending leaves things open for a potential trilogy of a movies (part 2 -- find more numbers; part 3 -- war on the interchangeables).

Red Riding Hood

A dark and gothic yet slightly modern (well, you know...) take on the age-old story of a girl being hunted by a big bad wolf. Amanda Seyfried (Valerie) manages to take a wooden (if unpredictable) script and class it up a fair deal, as does Virgina Madsen (playing her mother). Unfortunately, gary Oldman's hammy turn as a werewolf hunter slash religious zealot drags it back down, as does Shiloh Fernandez, playing the bad boy love interest (the "Jacob" to her "Bella", if you will). Ironically, Seyfried has much better chemistry with Max Irons, who plays the love interest that Valerie neither chooses nor wants (the "good boy" of Edward....hey, wait a minute...). The wolf effects were pretty basic and all the good gore and transformation sequences happened offscreen. The music was odd and out of place, with eighty percent of it sounding like angsty rock in a medieval setting...tjhough to give credit where credit's due, it does work seventy-five percent of the time, so there's that. In short, if you're a fan of Seyfried, new versions of old tales, or Twilight in general and Team Jacob in particular, you should like this.

Green Lantern
½

Probably not as worthy of the bad reviews as one might think. It's kind of like the James McAvoy movie "Wanted", in a way -- could have been better, but definitely awesome and worth seeing at least twice.

X-Men: First Class
½

Rebecca Romjin, Hugh jackman, blue people, Kevin Bacon, and more mutants identified than you can shake an adamantium claw at. This is no doubt the best X film out there and is a great first step in a new x-trilogy, even though nearly 90 percent of the ground work for the original three films has already been laid (how Mystique joined Magneto's squad, how Charlie got wheelchaired, that bitchin' helmet, the big split, a few other things)

The Hangover Part II
½

Absurd, lewd, hilarious, and crude - in other words, a worthy enough follow-up that while it may not be better than the original is still definitely worth seeing.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)

Pretty rad movie, considering all the hoopla. I'd say it's best described as a modern ET, although with more of a suspense vibe and less of a family-friendly feel to it. The kids all do a fantastic job.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Hilarious and full of awesome kung-fu moves and awesomer story that the first one was missing. With great animation and a more in-depth legend, this latest addition expands Po's story and leaves the way open for a Kung Fu Panda 3.

City Island
City Island(2010)

A bit hard to follow at first, but it gets better about halfway through. The humor is mostly ironic and slice of life-type thing, but there's enough situational comedy to keep the average viewer entertained, and the final conffrontation scene where everyone's secrets come out is pure hilarity.

Blue Valentine

A really understated look at a marriage both as it comes together and falls apart. The performances aren't exactly awardworthy, but they're REAL, which in the end almost makes them even better. The use of bolder and brighter colors in the past and more faded colors in the present (likewise with camera saturation) is inspired as a way of representing the state of the marriage and how the two leads feel about each other -- fresh and there at first, and then slowly drifted away.

Never Let Me Go
½

A well-acted film, though I was a little confused about if it's supposed to be an alternate version of our world entirely or just an alternate past. Either way, very dramatic and haunting with some beautiful scenery.

Mirrors
Mirrors(2008)

Freaky original and awesomely assembled. I went in expecting decently acted corn and ended up gettingfanastically acted cake -- always a pleasure.

Alien3
Alien3(1992)

Despite the ne stwps and the idea of fighting with brains and traps instead of brawn (kinda neccessary given the situation), this is probably not as good as it could have been, though it's not really the low point of the series either. The worst offense was the use of modern rock music in a fight scene between Ripley and some of the inmates and over the top victory music at several key scens, all of which it felt out of place in. The best description I can give of it is a movie where everything was going great up until post-rpodcution began (which, if you know the story of the making of the movie, is really pretty accurate).

Aliens
Aliens(1986)

Awesome sequel that's even better than the original, but lacking the same sense of suspense that the small crew and space isolation gave things.

Thor
Thor(2011)

Fan-fucking-tastic. Possibly the best Marvel movie yet, with amazing performances by everyone, a two-scene cameo by a certain archer (yeah, Oliver Queen, you knucklehead. Jeez...), fantastic effects, Shakespearean drama, and a bitch-ass hammer. Rene Russo (Frigga) is kind of underused, with a total of seven (count 'em) lines and appearing in a handful of scenes, and Natalie Portman, for as good a job as she does, always seems just a little uncertain about her presence, but I still liked her. The real credit goes to the effects department and Kenneth branagh for creating such a magnificent Asgard and bifrost Bridge. Those and the costumes on the Asgardians (and, if we're being precise, the non-Asgardian Aesir Hogun) are fantastic and straight out of Norse mythology, and the details are uncanny. The Destroyer and Frost Giant effects are cool (heh...) and the teaser at the end featuring some kind of cube is icing on an already chocolate and strawberry filled cake.

Something Borrowed

Good date movie with some cuteness, but the only real enjoyability in this predictable picture comes from John krasinski and his hilarious commentary on how stupid and insane everyone around him is.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Not quite as good as the original trilogy, but still plenty fun in it's own right. The mermaid effects were great and the fight scene with them was amazingly cool. Sparrow's chemistry with Cruz was palpable and Ian McShane's Blackbeard was spot-on. The missionary guy was a little stuck up and annoying, but no more so than Orlando Bloom in the first two films.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night
½

If "Constantine" was remade as a comedy (leaving out the fact that Alan Moore already thinks it is), than this is what it would look like.....and honestly, it's not half bad. Based on an Italian noir comic, DD:DoN is the story of a private detective who does various odd jobs for the undead races who live in and around New Orleans. With kind of a western flavor (in the sense that "Serenity/Firefly" had one), this film is far from perfect but funny enough that it doesn't matter.

Scream 4
Scream 4(2011)

Just....bad. The casting was good and the idea of a sequel is intriguing but the whole time I saw it I was thinking of ways it could have been so much better. Even when the endgame was revealed there was still another road they could have taken to make it a better movie and pave the way for an awesome new trilogy, but instead it looks like they chose to play it safe and just opt for a traditional good ending, thus eliminating the possibility for an awesome Scream 5. Honestly, I really hope that this is a studi mandated cut and not Wes Craven's vision, beacuse if this is what Craven wanted than that's just sad.

Dorian Gray
Dorian Gray(2009)

Really a great movie, which makes me surprised that so many people are giving it bad reviews. Granted some of the acting is a little stiff (thinking mainly of Rebecca Hall here), but Barnes and Firth both do a terrific job, the script is gripping and well-written, and the film itself is fantastically shot.

The Tourist
The Tourist(2010)
½

Kind of a mix between mistaken identity and spy thriller, only it's not really a mistaken identity. I'd give it a higher rating if the acting was a little better.

Made in Dagenham

A great picture about a little known story. The different women, especially Hawkins, do a terrific job and Hoskins is impressive as one of the few men taking their side in the story.

Water for Elephants
½

Fantastic movie with brilliant performances from Witherspoon, Pattinson (who is doing an excellent job of breaking away from the Edward Cullen typecast), and Waltz.

Tangled
Tangled(2010)
½

A truly fun and enjoyable movie that harkens back to animated Disney films of old but with a modern sense of humor. Mandy moore and Zachary Levi do a fantastic job voicing Rapunzel and Flynn/Eugene, the songs are great, and Maximus and Pascal are hilarious.

I Spit On Your Grave

Uncomfortable film that is slow and boring for the first thirty minutes, extremely uncomfortable for the second twenty-five minutes, strangely intriguing for the third twenty minutes, and relentlessly brutal for the last thirty minutes.

Hanna
Hanna(2011)
½

A spy thriller wherein the spy is a sixteen year old girl, Hanna is Jason Bourne as played by....well, as played by a sixteen year old girl. The script relies solely on action sequences to get by and most of the chazracters are types and forgettable, but the story is still entertertaining enough.

Source Code
Source Code(2011)
½

More like total recall than Back to the Future. The characters could be played by anybody and the story would remain the same, but what story there is is innovative, original, and is told in a way that it constantly makes you question just what is going on. There's one big twist scene near the end, but it is such a doozy that you'll still be thinking about it for weeks afterward.

Your Highness

Like a Mel Brooks directed stoner roadtrip comedy set in medieval times with a lot of magic and dragons thrown in. It's really nothing special, with most of the laughs coming from physical humor rather than a clever script, but there are worse wats to kill two hours.

Soul Surfer
Soul Surfer(2011)

Fantastic movie about surfer Bethany Hamilton (Annasophia Robb), the young surfer who in 2003 lost an arm in a shark attack and still managed ot recover enough to become one of the most renowned surfers in the world today. Although some of the casting is questionable (Carrie Underwood, who although she does a good job looks nothing like her real life counterpart, according to a photo montage at the end), the story itself is fantastic and beautifully shot, especially all the surfing sequences.

Limitless
Limitless(2011)
½

Impressive and entertaining film with a great script, cool visuals, good acting, and stellar performances.

Wild Target
Wild Target(2010)
½

Staggeringly -- staggering! -- hilarious, this film tells the story of Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy), a fifty-four year old assassin who is trying to get out of the business but is forced to change his plans after his latest job -- taking out a would-be art thief (Emily Blunt) goes awry, forcing him to protect her and a teenaged delinquet named Tony (Rupert Grint) from his former client (Rupert Everett and his replacement (Martin Freeman). The script is wild and witty, taking the trio all over England as they attempt to escape and outwit their enemies.

Paul
Paul(2011)
½

Think E.T. as a road trip stoner comedy. Seth Rogen is a comic genius as Paul, the alien who has been helping Earth out behind the scenes for years but has suddenly become expendable, putting him on the run with the assistance of two British comic nerds (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost). The storyline is a lot smarter then it has any right to be, referencing nearly every alien movie that's been made while at the same time being both touching and laugh-out-loud gross. Definitely a movie that deserves to be taken more seriously than it looks.

Sucker Punch
Sucker Punch(2011)
½

Definitely one of the better efforts put forth by Zack Snyder. Though nothing special, this story of a girl who gets commited and is then put into a group of would-be teen strippers has a few surprises and a couple of unexpected twists. The visual effects are pleasing if nothing else and the storyline is entertaining if not unpredictable, leaving a tale that should get everyone riveted.

Battle: Los Angeles
½

Fracking awesome. This is definitely what "Skyline" should have been like and more than makes up for that other movie (although the abductions were still cool). The acting is serious and doesn't require eye-rolling; the characters are worth caring about; the effects are....well, the effects are okay, but nothing's perfect. Basically, this movie is everything that you could hope for, and it even manages to throw in an unexpectedly happy ending. Helll, it even goes the route of not killing Michelle Rodriguez, which, let's face it, does not seem to happen that much with her roles.

Hall Pass
Hall Pass(2011)
½

Hilarious, gross, and worth seeing either alone or with someone.

Rango
Rango(2011)

Cute and funny animated story about a wannaba actor chameleon (Johnny Depp) who finds himself in over his head when he pretends to be the sherriff of a small desert town. The animation was great, the script was hilarious, and the movie references were great and frequent.

Gnomeo and Juliet
½

Hilariously original, this new version of "Romeo & Juliet" is probably one of the best out there. Referencing not just one but many (at least six) Shakespeare plays (and including an appearance by Patrick "I was in The Royal Shakespeare Company in London" Stewart as that worthy), this film is a must see for kids, parents, couples, adults, and Shakespeare-lovers the world over. The laughs are awesomely frequent and the heart is completely natural and feel-good, making this one of my favorite animated movies ever.

Unknown
Unknown(2011)
½

Greatly enjoyable movie with a twist at the end that is one of the best in recent film history.

The King's Speech
½

Brilliantly acted story of King George VI (Colin Firth), this movie deserves at least as many oscars as it got. The casting is spot-on and the script and location shooting are brilliant. Some of the characters could have used a little work, but the main trio of Bertie, Elizabeth (HBC), and speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) were all brilliant and did a fantastic job.

The Adjustment Bureau
½

Think Inception, but with more of a romance angle and less science-fictiony. This story, based on a Phillip K. Dick short story, is the tale of David Norris, a rising politician who after encountering a beautiful dancer discovers that the world is secretly run by a bureau of men whose job it is to make sure people do what they're supposed to. The story's notions of fate versus free will are entertaining, and the implications of the bureau agents actually be angels (although they deny it, sorta) are intriguing. On the flipside, some of the lingo the agents use is a tad confusing and it would have been nice to find out a little more what everything they're saying means. All this pales, though, in comparison to the fervent chemistry between Emily Blunt and Matt Damon, which is so natural that even at the zaniest parts you still want their characters to get together and make it in the end.

The Lost Boys

To hell with the predictability, thin script, and dated references (MTV is the best thing ever! Lori Lemaris is relevant to Superman comics! Billy Idol is current!). This movie is one of the better vampire movies I've seen, and may have even indirectly inspired Buffy, since I'm fairly certain the makeup effects are ninety-nine percent similar and Angel and Spike combine to form David. The adults seem a little out of place (except for Barnard Hughes as the kooky yet awesome grandfather), so this is mainly the kids' show, and boy do they shine. Keifer Sutherland is in his second most identifiable role here as David, the head of a gang of teenage vampires who are busily terrorizing a beach town in California. When his girlfriend Star (Jami Gertz, perfect) falls for new-in-town guy Michael (Jason Patric), David determines to corrupt Michael and turn him, not counting on the interference of Michael's younger brother Sam (Haimster) and two comic-shop runners/would-be vampire hunters, Edgar and Alan Frog (Feldog and Jamison Newlander), who quickly attempt to find and kill the head vampire in town in order to reverse the turning process before it's too late. This movie is kind of like the movie adaptation of the grapohic novel WANTED, in that it's corny and over-the-top and ridiculous and KNOWS IT, which means all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the bloody fireworks. Definitely one of Schumacher's better movies (he has made other things besides BATMAN AND ROBIN, people, give it a rest already), this little gem holds a high place of respect on my shelf of 80s classics and deserves to be enjoyed over and over again.

License to Drive
½

Fun little romp about a teen who doesn't get his license but claims he does in order to impress Heather Graham.

Buried
Buried(2010)

Consideering it's only one character onscreen for ninety-some minutes with a few other people doing voices on the phone, this film was greatly gripping, wel-written, and perfectly put together. Although the opening sequence could have used some work, the rest of the film, even with an ending that I called twenty minutes ahead of time, was everything I could have hoped for.

Malice in Wonderland
½

Incredibly cool and great. The real versions of all the classic wonderland characters are fantastic and funny. The script is weird and twisted and oh-so-perfect, and this may be (for me) the coolest version of Alice in Wonderland ever, with the capper being DJ Felix (as in Felix the Cat) Chester (which sounds sooooo much like Chesire).

Burlesque
Burlesque(2010)
½

Great music sequences and a predictable but entertaining storyline, though there were a few missed opportunities characterwise.

The Rite
The Rite(2011)
½

Not bad....like the Exorcist, only it's the priest who needs exorcising. Anthony Hopkins does a fantastic job, and Colin is great for a guy in his first big movie, and he really holds his own against Hopkins. Worth seeing.

Somewhere
Somewhere(2010)

Really slow start with an open ending, but the middle is extremely well-done with some terrific and heartfelt performances by Fanning and Dorff. There's not much dialogue, but in a way that makes the movie feel more real, since most people don't launch into big monologues explaining how they feel when things are darkest. In short = good performances, decent script, mediocre movie.

Grown Ups
Grown Ups(2010)

Another predictable Adam Sandler flick, but the performances from the huge cast make it better than most.

Despicable Me
½

Hilarious and refreshing. It's nice that for once we get a bad guy protagonist who never really redeems himself and is still kind of a bad guy at the end. The minions were definitely the high point of the film, and although Gru's accent was kind of cliche, it fit the character pretty good. Love to see some more tales featuring this guy.

The Green Hornet

Not too bad. Plenty of action, but it almost seems as if the comedy element is overpplayed. Chou does a great job as Kato, but Diaz is basically eye candy as assistant/secretary Lenore and as for Rogen....well, it's a little hard to take him seriously as Britt Reid, a.k.a. the Green Hornet. The visuals during the fights are awesome, however, and the car is fricking sweet.

The Last Exorcism
½

"Wanted: Movie. Must be quick, easy to shoot, yet intruging enough to pull people in. Horror preferred, but will also take documentary formats if neccessary. Experience with shaky cameras a plus. If interested contact...."

That's pretty much what I imagine the want ad the director place before making this movie read. It is just entertainging enough to keep you watching yet when it's over you don't really feel any better for it. The characters were in serious need of development and the ending with at least three twists left me a little uncertain about what it all meant. Really, the director should have paid closer attention to "Paranormal Activity" or "Cloverfield" for advice on how to make a good mockumentary. As it stands, though, it's merely a halfway good way to pass ninety minutes.

Easy A
Easy A(2010)

Hooooo, yeah. Going by the nominations for People's choice, I would have ot say that this is the one that should have won best comedy. Stone brings a hilarious dryness to Olive, making even the most cruel or heartbreaking turn of phrase a comedy gem (to a point). On the opposite end, Bynes finally gets to play the antagonist as uptight Jesusfreak Marianne, Olive's nemesis (for the most part) who in her own way is just as funny as Olive. Stanley Tucci and Thomas Haden Church both steal whatever scenes they're in, and Lisda Kudrow, well.....that's about all I need to say. The love of John Hughes movies is obvious, partly because of the montage (sixteen candles, Ferris Bueller, say anything, and others) and partly because more than a few scenes seem inspired by scemnes from Hughes films. Best of all, though? The use of "Pocketful of Sunshine". trust me -- you need to see it, for it is classic.

Country Strong

If country music can be defined as one singular movie, than this is it. The singing by all three leads is fantastic (especially Meester, who has a pair of pipes I would not have suspected) and the story, though cliched and predictable, is touching nonetheless. Look for nominations for Best Actress and Best Original Song, if nothing else.

Season of the Witch

Well.....it had a few saving graces, like the switch out for the ending, the scenery, and the chemistry in the bromance between Behmen and Felson (Cage and Perlman). Other than that, it was typical Nic Cage tripe -- worth seeing, but as a rental only.

True Grit
True Grit(2010)
½

Another fantastic modern western by the guys who brought us another one, namely "No Country for Old Men". This more accurate version of the John Wayne film (which was itself based on an old story) is the story of Mattie Ross, a young girl who is determined to track down and bring to justice Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father. Steinfeld does an amazingly fantastic job here, especially considering it's her first film, and I think there's a strong chance that she could be nominated for an Oscar either this year or next, depending on when the cutoff for nominations was. Bridges and Damon are well cast as the two lawmen helping her, although of the two I would have to say that Damon is better as a Texas Ranger tracking down Chaney for reasons all his own (those reasons being mostly monetary) than Bridges is as a drunken U.S. Marshall. That is not to say that Bridges doesn't do a good job -- far from it. He makes the character of Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn so complex and vile that you don't know whether to cheer him on or boo him off. Either way, the guy is Oscar bait for sure, despite the fact that you can only understand about half the things he says. As for Brolin, well....his screentime is mostly in the final reel and totals about 23 minutes at most, and while he does commit to the role and invest himself in it, he is mainly a means to an end. The better antagonist award would have to go to Barry Pepper, who pplays the boss of the gang Chaney hooks up with, Ned Pepper. Although he is more of a supporting role than even Chaney, Pepper (which is to say, Ned Pepper, the guy Pepper plays -- confusing, I know) is rough, cruel, and yet retains a certain nobility that brings to mind Casey Affleck's portrayal of Robert Ford in THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, only more confident. On the other side of the camera, the brothers Coen do a fantasdtic job creating an 1878 old midwest (the story takes place mainly in pre-Oklahoma territory) out of out of the New Mexico desert, with a script that is reportedly a lot more true to the novel than the original film was. The film's dour yet hopeful ending is fitting and perfect, leaving you wondering just what happened in the 25 year period between the time the story took place and the time the film stops, yet forcing you to acknowledge that in the end, some things are just better left unmentioned.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)
½

Confusing, weird, rough acting, no passion (ironically), and drawn out. Strangely, the only thing in it I really liked was the ballet and the special effects used during it.

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden)

Pretty good, but not as good as the first film. The two protagonists don't meet until the very end and it's a little hard to make sense of the plot and why the three were killed, but the acting is good and it serves as a good next chapter in the story.

Extraordinary Measures
½

Fantastically well acted filom about a real-life father who is determined to find a cure for his sick children. Loved the scfript and the setting, and although it did feel a little Lifetime-y, I still enjoyed it.

Jackass 2.5
Jackass 2.5(2007)

Funny, but it's basically deleted scenes, so the whole way through I was thinking, so this is "more deleted scenes" and the deleted scenes section was "even more deleted scenes". Still some funny, though.

The Shawshank Redemption
½

One of the best films ever made, period. Morgan Freeman gives a powerfully quiet performance, the script is perfect, the changes from the original story by Stephen King are minimal and mostly include a date switch here or there, and Tim Robbins is frackin' brilliant.

WarGames (War Games)
½

Pretty good film with a nice script and some good scenes. The tech is obviously dated compared to today's stuff (people talk about a teenaged computer hacker the way cavemen used to talk about people who could make fire), but it's still a fun movie when all's said and done.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)

holyshitholyshitholyshitAWESOME!!!!! The reviews were for once completely right. This was definitely the movie that 3D was made for. The casting for everything was great, and it's hard to believe it but Disney managed to program a perfect sequel to an already great movie. Even better, the marketing for it with the prequel comic and video game really add to the experience, with scenes from the movie featured in the game and parts of the game being referenced in the movie. There's also an especially cool twist in the movie that made me look at that character in the game in a whole new light. I also liked the fact that they had Dillinger/Sark's son on the board of ENCOM in the real world, although I was admittedly a little disappointed that he didn't have a virtual counterpart, since he could have been Clu 2.0's right hand program in the virtual world instead of that Jarvis guy played by Michael Sheen -- more juice for Cillian Murphy, man. That also would have been a nice stroke of irony, since the son's program is the servant of the enemy of his father's program. Also disappointing was the fact that although Boxleitner was playing Tron in the virtual world, we almost didn't realize it was him, so I would have liked something more than that. Other than those two niggling concerns, every bit of this film was fantastic and totally what we could have hoped for.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Good sequel that kinda changes the order of things from the book but doesn't cut anything out and is better for it. Peter and Susan (William Mosely and Anna Popplewell) make cameo appearances about halfway through. The story isn't very surprising for anyone who has read the books, and the kid playing Eustace is perfectly repugnant, making his change at the end betetr able to be felt. In short, it's not an improvement on the series, but it's still a good journey.

Planet Terror (Grindhouse Presents: Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror)

Shameless, over-the-top, and one of the most gruesome movies I've seen. So, awesome.

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)
½

Fantastically shot, brilliantly directed, and grippingly acted. This baby is a lock for some Oscars for sure.

The Next Three Days
½

Great acting from Crowe and Banks and much credit for the double-decoy ending, but I gotta object to the underuse of two great talents like Wilde and Neeson, who could have been used in better ways than they were.

Megamind
Megamind(2010)
½

Funny and entertaining, but mildly predictable. Really your basic redemption tale when all's said and done.

Unstoppable
Unstoppable(2010)

Tony Scott is not Ridley Scott. Ridley makes deep movies that even when they're full of action and violence still leave you pondering the events within. Tony, on the other hand, is all about the action and is willing to leave all the intellectual crap to his brother. That's fine, beacuse regardless of how they do it, both brothers make good movies that are thouroughly enjoyable, at least by me, which is all that matters, since I'm the one writing this review. (Ridley = Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Legend, Matchstick Men; Tony = Spy Game, Man on Fire, Top Gun, Enemy of the State).

UNSTOPPABLE, which is Tony's latest effort, is inspired by a real life 2001 incident in which a train carrying dangerous chemicals was accidentally let at speed out of a railyard with no one at teh controls. Despite the rail company's best efforts, the train is going fast enough to plow through any and all barriers and traps that the company sets up to try and slow it down. It then falls to engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel) and conductor Will Colson (Kirk -- I mean, Pine) to come up with a way to stop the train before it can derail in the middle of a Pennsylvania city, creating an ecological disaster.

With lots of twists and turns and fantastic stuntwork, UNSTOPPABLE may be the second best way to close out the year (Paging Mr. Potter....). The script is great, the cinematography is gorgeous (at least until it's all train, all the time), and the chemistry between Denzel and Pine is ace. UNSTOPPABLE is probably one of my favorite movies of the year and deserves recommending to anyone looking for a hell of a ride.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

Finally! A Harry Potter adaptation that is one hundred percent faithful to the source material! Very little was changed for this first of two releases covering the last book in the series which tells of harry's quest to destroy six objects containing pieces of Lord Voldemort's soul in order to better kill him.

The trio do a fantastic job, finally showing real acting skills, which I guess the bounds of Hogwarts were holding in check (too bad there's not a theatre class there, ha ha). Rupert is finally able to shed the comic sidekick role the movies have relegated Ron to and show real strength and emotion and loyalty -- the qualities that really make up Ron. Emma is given some incredibly difficult scenes to work through which if she were less of an actress could have seemed corny but thanks in part to the relationship these three have built over the years (onscreen and off) worked magnificently. As for Dan, he is strong, determined, tough, willing to sacrifice himself, and really makes you feel everything Harry's going through. Even the backup actors (those we don't see regularly) do fantastic, with the Weasley family showing magnificent chemistry and love, especially in a scene early on where one of them gets gravely injured (just for one example).

The script is almost word for word from the book, and what was changed actually seems better (changes include the kiss between harry and Ginny being moved to the kitchen where they can be observed by a smiling and earless George who has managed to stick a toothbrush in his hole -- hilarious). As for new scenes that weren't in the book (the first scene involving Hermione erasing herself from her parents lives and memories, a scene on the Hogwarts Express between Neville Longbottom and some death eaters) are pretty much inspired by things mentioned briefly in the book, so even those are okay. And as for Ron.....well, they may have given up on the comedic sidekick bit, which I'm grateful for, but he is still Ron and so he does still get a lot of funny moments, and they are good ones.

In the effects department, it's fairly obvious that they really wanted to make this a 3D release. There are multiple points (most involving Voldemort's pet snake, Nagini [say it "Nuh-ghee-nee"]) that look like they were shot to take advantage of a 3D release, and while it matters little that they didn't use them for their intended purpose, it does make you wonder at the reasoning behind making the second half 3D but not the first half (which IS their current plan, I'm told). Otherwise, the usual display of wand pyrotechnics is on display, with explosions and light beams flying every which way but....no, they're flying that way too, actually. The shifting inherent in the use of the transformative potion has finally been perfected from previous movies (Chamber of Secrets, where it was passable, and Goblet of Fire, where it was good), although the fact that it didn't change anyone's voice unlike in GoF was a bit of a snag for me (and really, that would have made the scene of seven harry's so much better if they all sounded like Dan Radcliffe, including the two who are transformed women). The high point of FX, though, is the locket-destroying scene, where a fifty foot column of black smoke (anyone here a Lost fan?) constituting one part of Voldemort's soul erupts from a four inch tall locket, disgorging a mega sized Dan Radcliffe and Emma Watson, who then proceed to get ethereal Adam and Eve style as the real Dan Radcliffe lies nearby.....need I say more?

Deathly hallows is without a doubt the best entry in the series. The characters grow up, the stakes get real, loved ones die, innocent people get hurt, relationships are bound and broken, and the series comes to it's exciting conclusion. Given where part one leaves us -- with Voldemort finding an ultimate weapon and a distraught Harry burying an old friend and clueless as to what to do -- part two can not arrive soon enough for this Potterphile. There is no question in my mind that it will be at least as good as part one was, and if it's not, well.......

AVADA KEDAVRA!!!

Skyline
Skyline(2010)

Visually it's a treat, and conceptually it's the most badass alien invasion ever, but the characters were kind of wooden and ultimately I didn't care that much about what happened to everyone....which is good, considering how predictable the movie is and how pasted on the ending is.

Winter's Bone

Definitely an original film, WINTER'S BONE reminds me mainly of Fargo, only it's about one girl instead of a pair of siblings. The main actress does an amazing job, the script is full of real life, and the story is just good enough to make you think. This is a film that definitely needs to be seen by everyone, despite (or maybe because of) its way of having slipped in under the radar.

Spread
Spread(2009)
½

Ashton Kutcher plays a much more lecherous version of himself mostly for the first part of this movie. The first half could mainly be called soft-core pornography, since it seems as though Kutcher and whatever female co-star he's closest to at the moment are having sex every five minutes. It's not until he gets kicked out and is forced to face up to what his decisions have brought him to (which happens about two-thirds the way through the movie) that he starts to become somewhat likable and sympathetic. The script is forgettable and the acting is too, with the one exception of margarita Levieva as a love interest who uses Kutcher's methods against him and then with him. All told, this movie is much like Kutcher's character himself -- it'll worm its way into your life and then leave you confused and wondering what the point was once it's over.

Due Date
Due Date(2010)

As good as The Hangover and featuring great and hilarious chemistry between RDJ and Galifianakis.

The Social Network
½

Incredible acting, fantastic directing, beautifully written. This baby is definitely a front runner for best picture at the oscars next year.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
½

Although I've never read the books, I can definitely appreciate the greatness of this piece. Even if it is a foreign film with subtitles, the execution of this movie, from it's opening scene to the roll of credits, is so gripping and well-done that you don't even notice the subtitles until halfway through. The casting is perfect and the script is incredible, and everything about this just makes me eager to see the rest of the series.

Night of the Living Dead

A zombie movie classic that paved the way for George Romero to become the most recognized name in zombie filmdom. Although Barbara isn't given much to do in this except whine and cringe, the stellar jobs by everyone else make up for it, especially Duane Jones as hero everyman Ben and Keith Wayne as teen lover Tom. Even more pleasant was the seeing of original moments which were referenced in later zombie films (primarily Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" remake). The weird thing is, even though the zombies aren't really that dessicated or gross (the worst had what appeared to be spaghetti sauce thrown on their face), their singlemindedness and persistance keeps them creepy.

Child's Play
Child's Play(1988)

Possibly one of the best horror movie franchises ever. Chucky is iconic and creepy and fan-fucking-tastic. Although later films make things a little more comedic, here he's at his darkest and scariest. the kid playing Andy does a great job for a six-year-old, and the script, while unsurprising, never really crosses the line into contrived. In short, it's a great horror movie and is prehaps brad Dourif's finest work (when combined with the other four, anyway).

Dolls
Dolls(1987)

A great little horror movie that is pretty much Child's Play only Chucky has about fifteen million buddies with him. Everything about it was just great, especially the scene where Stuart finds Bailey partially dolled up, and the owners of the house were uber-creepy. LOVED. IT.

Saw 3D
Saw 3D(2010)

So...the final chapter in the horror series that has pretty much described the first decade of the 21st century has come and been seen. The traps are screwed up as ever and the plot brings things full-circle, bringing Dr. Gordon back into the mix, but the 3-D is either underused or forgotten about entirely and the ending is almost one of convenience, even if it is pretty good (I vote the other two pigs as being his wife and daughter).

White Zombie
White Zombie(1932)
½

Not too bad considering when it was made. Lugosi gives a super-creepy performance as Mr. Murder and the rest of the cast balances him out nicely, with the setting and atmosphere lending its own spooky presence to the events. The zombies actually behave how I'd expect them to....namely, just kind of standing around unless forced to do something -- none of the running and chasing and eating people that came to characterize later zombie flicks. The plot and ending were a little simplistic (main bad guy dies and everyone's fine again?), but overall I'd say this was a good prime feature-length zombie flick.

Paranormal Activity 2
½

Not quite as good as the original, but this sequel-prequel is still hella scary in its own right, filling in plenty of story gaps, adding new twists, and leaving the door slightly ajar for a possible third movie.

Red
Red(2010)
½

Hilarious, witty, and full of awesome action, but there's times when it feels as though some actors are just combining old characters (namely, messrs. Willis and Malkovich).

Jackass 3
Jackass 3(2010)
½

Bungee port-a-poddy. Midget bar fight. A giant high five. Untrained trained not-gorillas. Rocky recreations. Santa climbing a tree. Superglue.

That's pretty much all that needs to be said for this third hilarious installment in the Jackass franchise. See it as many times as possible.

Let Me In
Let Me In(2010)
½

Less a horror movie and more a drama with a few horror elements, LET ME IN may be that rare horror movie that gets nominated for and actually wins some academy awards. Chloe Moretz gives an amazing performance as the eternally young vampire girl who befriends a normal child. The effects for when she's in vampire mode are great and the makeup for her vampire face is as good as the vampires on Buffy (TV series, the previous winner for that, IMHO). Truly, this may be the best vampire film to come out in ever.

*note -- the above was written without having seen the original. Sorry, purists.

30 Days Of Night: Dark Days

Awesome sequel to a great movie. Kiele Sanchez really makes the role of Stella her own, making me think she should have played it in the original as well instead of Melissa george, who was just adequate. Conversely, I was really hoping they'd have Josh Hartnett in a cameo bit, but no dice. The story and scenery are perfect, and Mia Kirshner as the vampire queen Lilith is cake. The rest of the cast was equally cool, the highlight being Ben Cotton as Dane, a vampire who leads Stella and three others in an assault on Lilith before she can instigate another siege above the Arctic Circle. Great script, smooth direction, and input by Steve Niles make this an awesome flick that has me clamoring for an adaptation of "Return to Barrow", the next book in the series.

Trucker
Trucker(2009)
½

Good acting, but kind of slow and an unsurprising ending. In defense of that, though, they do take an unusual route to get there, which is kinda nice.

Frozen
Frozen(2010)
½

Probably the best horror films are the most realistic. Jaws and its shark, Halloween and it's psychologically damaged killer, The Shining and it's cabin fever starved caretaker....all have elements of intense reality that just go a little extra and give it that added touch to make it a hell of a movie. Such is the case here with "Frozen". It takes a premise we're all familiar with -- a ski-lift gets stuck for an unspecified amount of time -- and it just goes farther with it. Much, much farther....

Parker (Emma Bell), Dan (Kevin Zegers), and Lynch (Shawn Ashmore, he of playing "Iceman", and isn't the irony just delicious?) are college students on a ski weekend away from school. After convincing the operator to let them on one last time before they shut down the ski-lift for the night, a mix-up at the bottom results in the teens being left up halfway to the top. As the park closes up for the week and the lights get turned off, the group slowly starts to realize the direness of their situation. When a blizzard hits and wolves come out, though, even the most dire solutions start looking like good escape options...

With such a simple premise, it's easy to get desperate for a means to prolong the situation and make it -- nay, force it -- to become worse. However, the script (by Adam green, who also directed) simply relys on a variation of cabin fever and the environment to move the situation along. The actors all do a fine job, but the real star here is the story, which is so simple and yet so terrifying. It'll truly stick with you, right up until the next time you go skiing....and have the lift stop....and you wait...

It's Kind of a Funny Story
½

Call it the ultimate breakout movie. Pretty much every performance in this, no matter how minor, is given everything by the actors. From the sixteen year old depressed kid who checks himself into a mental clinic (Kier Gilchrist) to the coed he meets who's in for cutting herself (Emma Roberts, in what may very well be her breakout role), and even to Jeremy Davies as a slightly hippie doctor, everyone is just perfect. The script, based on a semiautobiographical novel, is great, cutting between comedy and drama in equal parts and switching back and forth between harsh reality and fantasies that are touching and amusing in equal amounts (the highlight being a performance by the patients of Bowie/Queen's "Under Pressure"). Most impressive of all, though, is Galifanakis as a friend-mentor who guides our protagonist on his journey through treatment more effectively than any doctor. Using both humor and fierce drama, Galifanakis gives his best performance yet, proving that while "The Hangover" may have been his breakout role, "It's Kind of a Funny Story" will be the role that solidifies him in people's minds as the new Will Ferrel -- a comedian who can churn out tough drama with the best of them.

The Experiment

Good and quick film with some pretty disturbing stuff. The imrpessive part is that there's almost no actual violence (in the traditional sense) until the very end, but the psychological violence used is even worse, and makes the film that much better.

Devil
Devil(2010)
½

So...apparently the key to a good M. Night Shamalamadingdong film is that he can have the story idea, but he can neither write nor direct the actual film. Obviously, that's true, since that's the case here. Although the scares are mainly jump scares and the really good stuff happens off-screen or in the dark, the script and acting are good enough and the movie delivers what it promises.

The Town
The Town(2010)

Possibly the best movie of the year, Ben Affleck's latest directorial effort is a tour-de-force of awesomeness. The acting is top-notch, the script has equal amounts of humor and drama (which may sound strange but totally works here, giving the characters an added level of realism), and the locations are all awesome. The ending sequence at Fenway Park is the greatest I've seen, and while the ending was a bit cliche, that by no means made it less great. This thing is definitely headed for a triple-Oscar threat and deserves every bit of it.

The Bounty Hunter
½

Funny movie with an interesting but not exactly original plot. Good leads, decent chemistry.

Resident Evil: Afterlife

Well, it's official -- the movies no longer have anything to do with the games. That being said, the regular marvel universe and the Ultimate one don't have much in common outside of characters either, so i can still review this safely. Having lost her clone army (JOING) while taking down Umbrella headquarters in Tokyo, Alice (Milla Jovovich) heads to Alaska to hook up with the survivors she seperated from at the end of the last film. instead, she finds an abandoned airfield, a feralistic and amnesiac Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) with a ruby on her chest and a lot of nothing. They set off down the coast looking for help, but what they find is just the start of umbrella's revenge.

As always with the Resident Evil flicks, assorted elements from the games (Code Veronica and 5, this time) are thrown together with a bunch of gunfire and ugly killings and explosions and actors who actually look like the game characters (thinking mainly of Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield and boy does he do a good job of sounding like the RE5 version of Chris) and the result is surprisingly appealing fanboy fun. Featured villains include the classic dobermans (who can now open up their bodies to a whole other mouth), Albert Wesker (sexily played by Shawn Roberts), the majini style zombie from number 5, the executioner from 5's early stages, and a lovely and non-jillting twist ( ;) ) at the end that features one more baddie and a setup for a fifth film that I've tentatively titled "Resident Evil: REsurrection"

The Square
The Square(2010)

Pretty good modern noir film about some stolen money and the shit it brings down in an australian neighborhood. The acting was good and the script was nice, but it was a little hard for me to keep up with everything, so it could require multiple viewings in some cases (not a bad thing, though).

2:22
2:22(2010)

Slow start, confusing plot, vague motivations. Maybe if the script had been polished a little more it would have been better but as it stands....forget it.

Abandoned
Abandoned(2010)

The final film of Brittany Murphy isn't horrible, but neither is it as great as she deserves. Her character seems to spend most of the film wibbling and whining about her boyfriend who no one seems to believe exists. It's not until the third act that the ninety-percent cliche-filled script allows her to really cut loose. The hospital setting is eerie enough, but the twist isn't as great as it could have been and despite the good characters, about half of them are reduced to shades due to weak acting (I'm looking at you, Mr. former Superman, and what a shame that is). In short, a decent movie but for a swan song for a fun actress, it should have been a lot better.

500 Days of Summer
½

"This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know up front -- this is NOT a love story."

So begins one of the funniest movies to hit theaters in a while. This piece of celluloid is well worth seeing and is hilarious and endearing from the start. The relationship between the two characters is the most realistic I've ever seen in a movie and reminds me of my last relationship (as someone below me says, the happy ending you get may not be the one you expect). The time jumps that make up the first two-thirds of the movie are confusing at first, but by the end of the film you'll be so glad for them. The characters are incredibly multi-layered and the combination of romance and drawma is beautiful. Finally, I have to say that the sequence following the first sexual encounter between Tom and Summer is possibly the funniest three-minute sequence I've seen in a while.

The Killer Inside Me
½

Possibly one of the best movies of the year. Affleck is equal parts chilling and charming as a west Texas deputy sherrif who slowly turns into a crazed killer. The script is incredibly well thought-out, and the casting of everyone is perfect. The mix of film-noir and dark comedy is great and gives this thing a real old-timey feel that makes it all the more appealing.

Piranha 3-D
Piranha 3-D(2010)
½

Honestly, I was surprised by this film. Don't get me wrong -- it is definitely a bad movie. The surprise comes from the fact that it's also a good movie, at least to a point. The acting is undeservedly good, thanks in some part to the fun genre casting (Christopher Lloyd as a crazy fish expert and Ving Rhames as the gruff deputy sherrif are just the icing on the cake). While the 3-D is used mainly as an excuse to throw stuff at the screen, it doesn't detract from anything and is saved via the fact that it wasn't just a cheap conversion effort ala "Clash of the Titans". Finally, while there are no surprises present(really, the thing was predictable to a fault), this movie was definitely bloodier and more gruesome than any horror movie in a good long while and yes, I am including the Saw films (seriously, one chick who you think just barely survived the attack gets pulled in half by two people who are trying to get her out of the water. It's AWESOME!).

Max Payne
Max Payne(2008)

Well, it went against m,y better judgement, but I saw this movie and guess what? I was right. Visually, the film is a colorized Sin City, but the film is nothing like that. The script is wooden, the ideas are unoriginal, and the characters seem to have forgotten that their faces are capable of movement. Max himself seems to have become a saner version of Frank Castle, and the plot seems to have gone from that of a good noir game to a bad revenge flick. By the end of it, I was left with nothing more than a feeling of "seen it all before, but better."

Takers
Takers(2010)

"Ocean's 11" minus six and multipled by the cover of whatever magazine would have a bunch of under thirty-five hollywood beefcakes on it. That aside, the movie itself was fun and the script didn't pander to the lowest common denominator. There was plenty of gun shooting and punching, and the ending wasn't exactly the normal group getaway, which was nice. All in all, it was a good time.

Resident Evil: Extinction

So....lots of action, a desert setting, Ali Larter, a real-life Albert Wesker who I want to bone endlessly, the guy who played Johnny Cage, and crows. It's still a Resident Evil movie film, but as far as the games....well, I'm not even considering them at this point, since it pretty much tells you in the first minute that this isn't that universe. Dug the ending, though.

The Expendables

By rights, The Expendables should probably be a bad movie, or at least a good bad movie. It's loud, it's violent, there's not much of a plot, and the cast consists mainly of action movie stars from the eighties (Stallone, Lundgren, Rourke) and early nineties (Statham, Li) with some other good actiony names thrown in for good measure (Crews, Couture, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin). Add in some good eye candy for the teenage male hormones (I love you, Charisma Carpenter) and a fair to middlingly hot mexicana, and you've got a movie that is predictable and violent, right?

Wrong.

While all of the above is true, it in no way detracts from the greatness of the film and, in some small fashion, actually makes it better. The film never veers too far from what makes it great (the explosiony actionness), and everything moves so fast that before you realize how little sense it makes, you're swept along for the ride and loving every second of it. Even if afterwards certain things do leave a bad taste in your mouth (Arnold Schwarzenegger's self-depracating cameo, for instance), you'll have had too good a time to be angrey at the movie for long.

Brooklyn's Finest
½

Incredibly well-acted and directed. Hard to believe that this is the first script for the guy who wrote it.

After.Life
After.Life(2010)

Dull acting, interesting script, cool concept, wicked ending.

The Other Guys

Incredibly (and unexpectedly) hilarious stuff, especially what they do with Jackson and The Rock.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
½

A video game/comic paradise of epic awesomeness.

Operation: Endgame

Intellectually, this movie should be bad. It's brutal, predictable, and has about 30,000 gallons of blood. Despite this, though, the movie is nothing short of awesomesauce. It's superfunny, the fights are well-choreographed, the blood just adds to the humor, the script is fast and furious (and not like a certain Vin Diesel movie either), and the fact that they got such high caliber genre talent (Corddry, Rhames, De Ravin, Galiganakis) is icing on the cake. It's nothing special, but hey -- neither are the Saw films, and people still flock to those (myself included).

Dolan's Cadillac
½

Really hard and intense movie, and probably one of the best King adaptations. I haven't read the short story so I don't know that for sure, but I think it's a safe bet. Slater makes the character of Dolan so virile and hateful that you can't help but be drawn to him, and Bentley's intensity in Robinson is so great that by the end of the movie you're left wondering just who the real bad guy is.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

I honestly had a good time at this movie. It wasn't really anything complex (not that you'd expect that from a disney film starring Nicolas Cage and Jay "Dweebking" Baruchel), but I still had a lot of fun. The characters were just interesting enough to care about, the main villain was diabollacally amusing yet masterfully cruel, the love interests were alright, and the script made the whole thing feel like POTC with magic instead of swordfights. Add to that a hilarious little homage to the short that inspired this and a giant iron eagle (and subtract a cardboard performance from Alice Krige [and not Cage, amazingly] ), and you've got a pretty good way to kill an afternoon.

The Yellow Handkerchief

An original script that brings out some great performances from it's incredibly small cast. The movie gets past a slow start and slowly makes you care deeply about each of its characters. Although the ending is a little predictable, it's still touching and worth the journey.

Chloe
Chloe(2010)
½

Fantastic story that goes in every direction at once and keeps you guessing about what's really happening until the very end. The script wasn't exactly original, but what was done with the story was good enough that I'm willing to call it unique anyway, and the multiple twists in the final act really make you think. Perfect cast, especially with Moore and Seyfried, who do more in their roles than I ever could have guessed.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

In 2010, two movies based on previously existing translations of Greek myths were released. One of them, Clash of the Titans, was an update of a movie that had been released back in the sixties. The other, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (hereafter refered to as The Lightning Thief for the sake of my fingers) is almost an update of Clash of the Titans, even if it is based on a book aimed at children (much like twenty other movies that have come out in the past three years).

In TLF, we are introduced to Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), a dyslexic teenager with an affinity for water. During a field trip to a museum, Percy is set upon by a fury, a supposedly mythological being. From there Percy is transported to a world he never imagined. A world where his father is the god of the sea....a world where where greek myths really do exist....a world where he has just ten days to return Zeus's missing lightning bolt to him or face annihilation and war...

As I said, TLF is the first book in a series by Rick Riordan, a former teacher. The movie adaptation is directed ably by Christopher Columbus, late of the first three Harry Potter film adaptations and director of the film version of "Rent". The actors portraying the main trio -- Logan Lerman as Percy; Brandon Jackson as his satyr best friend, Grover; and Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth, daughter of Athena and ass-kicker extraordinare -- all do a good job, and most of the film is perfectly cast. The sole exception (possibly) is Pierce Brosnan as Chiron, the centaur trainer of all young demigods (apparently the gods have been coming down to earth and impregnating or being impregnated by mortals for millenia). Although he tries, Brosnan looks fairly uncomfortable in his horse getup, and while he does a good job in the role, I just could not accept him.

Fortunately, that's the only negative aspect of this film. The casting of the Gods -- Sean Bean (Brosnan's "GoldenEye " costar) as Zeus, Kevin McKidd as Poseidon, Rosario Dawson as Persephone, Steve Coogan as Hades, and all others -- was well-done, proving that whoever did that job knew their stuff when it comes to greek myths. The effects department also had their eye on the ball, keeping the lag between blue-screen and actual-screen almost non-existant. The only time that any difference can be blatntly noticed is when the gods are talking to non-gods in Olympus, as the size difference makes it hard to miss. In conclusion, while the movie is basically a modernized Clash of the Titans for the under-eighteen set, there is still something to be said for it and it's definitely worth checking out.

Dinner for Schmucks
½

Amusing stuff, but fairly predictable with an unsurprising ending. Steve Carrell and Zach galifanakis are great, though. The problem here is that Paul Rudd just can't make a movie work when he's the protagonist, meaning that he ends up relying too much on his costars (which is the main reason he has second billing).

Salt
Salt(2010)

Evelyn Salt is a little bit Jason Bourne, a little bit jack Bauer, and a lotta bit Jiggly Boob (with a dash of macGyver thrown in). When she gets accused of being a russian spy, she goesx on the run in a chase movie that has so many twists you'll feel like you're on a roller coaster. Playing a role originally designed for Tom Cruise (as a girl! [joke....maybe]), Jolie does a good job, combining all the aspects listed above. Schrieber does great as an ally within the CIA who doubts Salt for reasons of his own, and Chiwe is fantastic as a CIA guy who wants Salt brought in at whatever cost. The action sequences aren't anything new, so it's really the reasoning behind them that makes them stand out. The constant twists and turns in the script make it hard to keep track of just who is really working for who and why they're doing whatever they're doing, but, much like the Bourne movies, if you can keep up than this is definitely worth it, and it might even be worth the sequel tease at the end.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
½

As good as the previous two in the series, this is probably the first of them to feature multiple plots handled delicately by a director who knows how to keep you guessing (David Slade, HARD CANDY). First, you have Bella (Kristen Stewart) pressuring a (century) old-fashioned Edward (Robert Pattinson, who is a much better actor than you can believe by seeing these...which IS a compliment, on some level) to move their relationship forward on several levels (Take my virginity, Edward. Make me a vampire, Edward. Trust me completely, Edward.) Second, you got Jacob (the abbed-out Taylor Lautner) the werewolf (well, shapeshifter, really), Bella's friend who is not so secretly in love with her and even less secretly in hate with Edward. Third, you got a pack of newborn (that is, newly made) vampires led by seething redhead Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her new plaything Riley (Xavier Samuel) in an effort to take revenge on and/or kill Edward for killing her boyfriend James waaaaaay back in the original TWILIGHT. Finally, you got four members of the Volturri (vampire leaders) hanging around (Dakota Fanning as Jane, Daniel Cudmore as Felix, Cameron Bright as Alec, Charlie bewley as Demitri), keeping tabs on Bella and the newborns. Everybody does a fantastic job in this, and the chemistry between the three leads is fantastic. The banter between Edward and Jacob makes for some great scenes and lines (My personal favorit? jacob saying he'll keep a sleeping bella warm while they're camped out in a snoyw night because, as he says to Edward, "I'm hotter than you.") and the scens Stewart has with both of them (together and apart) are great. The wolf effects and the dead vampire stuff were cool, and while I still don't like the sparkle thing (really I don't), I've resigned myself to it. In the end, I think that Twilight may be relecting Harry Potter in a way, as each movie gets better the closer we get to the end.

Inception
Inception(2010)
½

Simply amazing, with fantastic effects, multiple plots that go in every direction, and a great ending that harkens back to hose of Alfred Hitchcock, in my opinion. My only real complaint is that they take an actress as good as Ellen Page and give her a (however neccessary) Captain Exposition role that while she does do good in had me crying at how naive she (the character) was.

Alien Resurrection

Definitely the low point of the series, and I'm saying that having only seen this one and the original (and the AVP films, if you wanna include them). The idea of Weyland-Yutani wanting to combine Alien and Human DNA isn't surprising, but still, the way the filmmakers executed that vision along with the acting and the casting of Winona Ryder as Call just really didn't do much for me. Despite that, I still enjoyed parts of it, like the underwater sequence which only ends with them coming up into a room that has eggs on all sides, so I'll say if you've seen the others, you should see this, but otherwise, don't spend the money.

Alien
Alien(1979)
½

In space, everyone can see you make an awesome movie with minimal cast that goes on to become one of the greatest and most memorable movies of all time. This is without a doubt Ridley Scott's best film ever, better even that Gladiator (and no, I'm not just saying that because Sigourney is in this....well, maybe a little). The creature design, the effects, the story, the script, the truth about Ash, the having Ian Holm play Ash....everything is just perfect.

The 'Burbs
The 'Burbs(1989)
½

Forget Goonies (and I can't belive I just said that, so sorry) -- THIS is Feldman's best film, along with Fisher and Hanks. No matter how old it gets, things are still frackin' hilarious -- especially the last half hour -- and this proves that no matter how old some movies are, they can still remain current.

Best lines: "I love this street." "I'm going into that basement and I'm not coming out until I find a dead body." "I think the message to, uh, psychos, fanatics, murderers, nutcases all over the world is, uh, 'do not mess with suburbanites', because, uh, frankly we're just not gonna take it any more."

Aquamarine
Aquamarine(2006)

Predictable teen chick flick, but it's cute and funny.

American Pie Presents: Band Camp
½

Despite only having two characters from the original trilogy, this spin-off (the first of many) is still pretty funny. Returning to the beloved band camp where Alyson Hannigan once stuck a flute up her (OKAY!), the story here revolves around Steve Stifler's younger brother (Eli marienthal in the orignal trilogy, Tad Hilgenbrink here) being sent to band camp as punishment for playing a prank on the entire school band. The laughs are filthy, the jokes are funny, and although I would have liked an appearance by Michelle (even if only vocal), it was still a good film.

American Wedding

Funny stuff for the last true American Pie film.

Eurotrip
Eurotrip(2003)
½

Hilarity, drugs, and a green fairy -- this movie is awesome (and it's also the only movie that has me watch all the credits every time).

American Pie 2

Just as funny as the original, and with scenes that are even grosser. (thinking chiefly of the trumpet-ass scene)

Domain of Murder

Good anime that has a storyline that's better than most normal movies.

Predators
Predators(2010)
½

In 1987, we were introduced to an intergalactic hunter (known in canon as a "Yautja") who tore apart a black ops military team before getting his ass kicked by Arnold Schwarzegovernor. Ten years later (or three years, if you're going by actual time passed and not movie universe time), another one of these lovelies landed in the drug-torn streets of Los Angeles and hunted cops, criminals, and Bill Paxton before engaging in a brutal one-on-one battle with Danny Glover in front of all his friends. Seven-or-fourteen years later, a trio of young hunters landed in Antaractica for a ritualistic battle against some xenomorphs to earn their right to hunt on their own. After all three were killed by aliens and their supervisors left the lone human survivor in peace, a xenomorph hatchling crashed their ship in Colorado, requiring the firebombing of a whole town in order to stop both species.

But that was all on Earth....

In the latest installment of the Predator series, the action moves off-planet as a bunch of murderers, mercenaries, and other miscreants are set loose in a planet-wide Yautja-run game preserve. The goal? Survival. The tools? Whatever you find? The odds? Considering their battling not only the predators but each other and the other delightfully awesome denizens and drop-ins on this rock, not good. The creature effects are as good as ever and there are a bunch of callbacks to the original movie (seven hard guys and one civilian and one local, Long Tall Sally by Little Richard, a final battle with a mud-covered human, a jungle....). The performances by everyone don't once veer into the absurd, and there's no real ending. In short, it's exactly what you'd expect, and more.

Cry of the Owl

An unfoprtunately disappointing film with some suspenseful moments. A bad script overrules good performances, and the directing doesn't really help either. The ending was kind of awkward too.

Remember Me
Remember Me(2010)

Just.....wow. Dark, emotional, romantic, and powerful. The chemistry between all the actors -- not just the rom-leads -- was invigorating. Pattinson proves that he's not just a fanger (to borrow a term from the OTHER current hot vampire series) and completely leaves the role of Inward Sullen behind as he plays an early twenties nonmatriculated college student named Tyler who, after being beaten by a slightly frayed NYPD officer (Cooper) takes up with Ally, the cop's daughter, on a bet with his friend and roommate. The pairing of De Ravin and Pattinson was perfect, and while I was a little disappointed that we didn't get more into Tyler's relationship with his parents and what happened with his brother, all three of them (Brosnan and Olin as the parents, Jerins as the sister) did a wonderful job. Completely realistic and emotional right up until the ending (which had me in denial when I realized what it was leading to), this is the best indie film I've seen in a while and should be tops on Pattinson's resume when people look at what he's done.

Knight & Day
Knight & Day(2010)

Yes, yes, YES! This film was hilarious, action filled, had Cameron Diaz, and was just all around awesomeness. Cruise once more proves that he shouldn't be written off just cause he's a little eccentric in real life by delivering his best comedic performance to date while at the same time poking fun at his mission impossible performance. Diaz is funny and sweet as a girl who bumps into Cruise at an airport and ends up in a situation way over her head. Despite negative reviews, this film is better than a lot of whats out there now and is one of the best summer comedy spy movies I've seen in a while. NOW GO SEE IT!

Days of Thunder

Top Gun for the race track. I'm pretty sure that this movie was only made because of Cruise's rising fame and the success of Top Gun, but it's decent nevertheless. The casting of Nicole Kidman and Cary Elwes is questionable, but Quaid and Duvall make up for it. The car stuff is done great and despite my feelings on racing (borrrr-ing), I got pulled into it.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

Beautiful, sad, funny. It's been eight years since Toy Story 2 and Andy is going off to college. Although Woody gets to come, the rest of the toys are accidentally put to the curb for the garbage truck. Breaking loose, the group stow away in a box of donated toys and end up in a daycare center that's one-third amusement park, one-third nightmare on elm street, and one-third godfather. This is probably Pixar's best film, although considering that each one is better than the one before we'll just let that sit for now. The last ten minutes were among the most emotional I've ever seen in anymovie and make this a surefire nominee for Best Picture (never mind best animated feature, that's in the bag already). If you've seen the first two, you'll love this, and if you haven't (and what the hell is wrong with you if that applies), you'll still love this.

A Few Good Men

Excellent movie with some supreme acting by Cruise and Nicholson.

The Firm
The Firm(1993)
½

Have never read the book, but the movie is darned impressive. This and Top Gun may be my favorite Cruise performances. The storyline is gripping and the acting is superb. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good legal thriller.

Legend
Legend(1985)

Beautiful setting, great effects, wonderful story, Tim Curry as the devil (more or less). Love it.

The Cake Eaters

The best part about this film is Kristen Stewart, who gives what may be the best performance of her career (and I'm including any future projects). Her, Bruce Dern, and Jesse "Collins" martin were definitely the high point in this film for me. The story is touching and beautiful where it could have turned mushy and boring, and the direction was great, even if some of the casting was a little awkward.

The Time Traveler's Wife

A nice little romance with a tiny scifi twist to it. Bana and McAdams are superb, and although it didn't end how I thought it would, it's still a great film.

Youth in Revolt

A quietly hilarious movie that starts off amusing and is crazy by the end. As another reviewer said, this movie is basically Fight Club for teens, but with more of a family-friendlyish vibe (meaning no ballsack cutting). It's equal parts sweetness and comedy, and the animated sequences (whether claymation or handdrawn) are superb. The music also is worthy of a mention, as that's funnycute too. The best part of the whole thing was seeing Michael cera be a total badass, which is decidedly NOT usual.

Jonah Hex
Jonah Hex(2010)
½

Mediocre story, hammy acting by Malkowhich, stiff acting by Fox, and some droll makeup for Brolin. The only part I really liked was Michael Fassbender as crazed irish hitman Burke. Well, that and the dead talking.

Cutlass
Cutlass(2007)

Great short film about daughters wanting what their parents don't want to get them. I love how Robin's (Virginia madsen) daughter (Dakota Fanning) goes in for her guitar all super savvy, which is pretty much the opposite of what young Robin (Kristen Stewart) was with the Cutlass. Great acting and casting, with some good direction by Kate Hudson and a funny cameo by Chevy Chase. Love it.

When in Rome
When in Rome(2010)
½

Cute and funny little tale. Most of the laughs belong to Heder and Shepard as a street magician and a male model who, along with DeVito's investor, Arnett's starving-for-attention artist, and (maybe?) Duhamel's reporter, all fall crazy-in-love with the ambitious yet charming Bell. The movie has plenty of laughs and a cutesy-funny ending, but it's still fairly predictable.

The A-Team
The A-Team(2010)
½

Ho-lee SHIT, was this movie awesome. It managed to take everything that was great about the series, update it by a decade, expand on it slightly, and make it pure awesomeness for todays audiences. The casting of Liam Neeson as Hannibal was pitch perfect, and everyone else did a supreme job, especially Sharlto "District 9" Copley as Murdoch. What's more, we manage to get an origin for BA's fear of flying (naturally, it's brought on by Murdoch). While it won't win any Oscars, the film is definitely one of the best Tv adaptations ever and is well-worth seeing.

From Paris with Love

Despite the romantic sounding title, "From Paris With Love" is really a loud, obnoxious, and hilarious move that plays like a mix of "Austin Powers" and "XXX". Even though it's mostly predictable, this story of a wannabe action agent (Rhys-Meyersa) who gets partnered with the most unorthodox man working for the CIA (Travolta) on a terrorist hunt is pure hilarity, even when it gets serious. There is a small twist in the story that I was able to guess at halfway to the reveal, but the movie itself is still enjoyable and well-worth whatever you end up paying to see it.

The Fourth Kind

Okay, some great acting by Jovovich (aka, the actress with the hardest to pronounce last name in Hollywood) and an interesting concept with some great thrill moments, but the movie ends up being memorably humdrum. Also, the part at the beginning with Milla talking to the audience might have been better if it as just onscreen text, because the conversational aspect of that really took me out of the mood for a second.

Get Him to the Greek
½

Not hilarious, but constantly funny and entertaining, so that's almost the same. Jonah Hill delivers probably my favorite performance of his (topped only by Superbad ["You're like the coolest person I know" "What the FUCK?"] and 40-year-old Virgin ["I'm just trying to get these shoes back to my house so I can wear them."], and Russel Brand and Diddy are hilarious. The songs are semi-decent, but the jokes and the digs at rockstar lifestyle are what really make this worth seeing.

Darkman
Darkman(1990)

Proof that Sam Raimi was directing movies that are comic books (as opposed to comic book movies) loooong before the Spider-Man series came out. The plot -- a doctor is burned and left for dead after an accident leaves him unable to feel and wanting revenge on those who made him that way -- and casting are both good, but the performances are cliche and the movie is fairly predictable.

Shrek Forever After

Making up for the storytelling missteps of number three, Shrek's latest tale finds him having trouble adjusting to civilian life. After a disastrous birthday partty for his kids (said disaster being instigated by Ryan Seacrest and his child who won't rest until he hears Shrek roar), Shrek makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin for one day as a real ogre again....and accidentally undoes all the good he's done since being born, since the contract makes it so he was never born. Now he has just one day to undo the deal, stop Rumpel, and make the newly Xena-esque Fiona fall in love with him all over again.

This movie had me laughing from the first minute. The whole jouyrney of Shrek to make him realize how good he has it is quite well-done -- a relief, considering how close a plot like this could come to killing a franchise dead. All of the actors are great in their old roles, including Banderas, who plays an effectively neutered Puss-in-Boots. The laughs were big, the tears were beautiful, and the story was a great way to close the chapter on everyone's favorite ogre.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Prince of Persia is based on a video game franchise begun in 1989 which details the adventures of a nameless prince determined to rescue a beautiful princess from the plans of a scheming vizier. Fast forward twenty-one years and what you have is a movie adaptation of a franchise that has gone through a few eprmutations and become relatively successful. Dastan (Jake Gyllenhal) is the adopted third son of a Persian king who is framed for the murder of his father by his uncle Nizam (Ben Kinsley), and, with the help of the beautiful and mysterious Princess Tamina and a mysterious (but not beautiful) dagger, the prince sets out to clear his name and avenge his adopted father. For fans of the game series, or video game fans in general, this movie is a killer rush, with so much action that if it weren't for the lack of explosions you could swear that it was Michael Bay directing (although there is enough action to make one wonder if Jerry Bruckheimer is working under an alias) (check that -- I just looked it up, and JB did produce, so....there you go). The acting and casting are surprisingly good and straightforward, which surprised me as I figured there would be some camp acting going on, even with Gyllenhall (Kingsley has no excuse -- at this point, all his characters are the same person with a different accent). Stunts are accomplished in a realistic way with the use of parkour, rather than tying wires to Jake's back and lifting him wherever (although there was probably some of that too -- safety among actors and all). All told, the movie exceeded expectations and while it didn't impress, it was a hell of a ride.

The Road
The Road(2009)

Incredibly well-done adaptation of a surprisingly good novel. The acting was top-notch, despite (or maybe beacuse of) the fact that only two of the actors are in it for any length of time. Most of the major stars (Pearce, Duvall, Dillahunt) are only in it for three or four minute stretches, and even Theron only has ten to fifteen minutes of total screen time, if that. This puts the bulk of the movie in the hands of Viggo and Kodi, and they capably handle the load, showing that this movie is not so much about a post-apocalyptic journey as it is the relationship between a father and his son and morely, what each will do for the other. The only real shame is how easily this got passed over by Oscar, as there is some real quality work going on here.

MacGruber
MacGruber(2010)
½

The biggest surprise with this movie is how funny it ended up being, considering the skit it's based on. Will Forte plays MacGruber, who is pretty much Captain America with a mullet. When his archenemy/former best friend Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer channeling Steven Segal with delight, and ohmygod I love that name) gets his hands on a thermonuclear warhead, the army call grubes out of pretending to be dead retirement and reunites him with his fomrer partner Vicki (Kristen Wiig)and a green around the ears cadt (Ryan Phillipe) and well....we just see what happens (which is apparently different from winging it). This is more on the Wayne's World side of skit-to-movie transitions rather than the "Night At The Roxbury" side, so you can definitely have a good time here and not feel bad later on.....especially during the first three minutes of the last ten minutes.

Valentine's Day

Really a great movie. There's comedy and romance and cuteness, but it's not done in a sappy Meg Ryan movie kind of way. The characters breathe and screw up and while some of them end up alone and none of the plans each character has turns out right, everything ends pretty much as it should, making for one solid movie.

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto
½

Psychotic, hypnotic, violent, lewd, crude, abusive, unapologetic, and just plain FUN! While it comes off as a more kiddy version of the character than that appearing in Zombie's comic series "Spookshow Inernational", that in no way detracts from the fun and in some ways lets the group go even crazier. Sanity is nowhere to be found in this world of zombie newscasters, whiny satanists, talking gorillas with screws in their heads, porno-directing cats, and twister-loving luchadores. Add into that some of the funniest music I've heard since They Might Be Giants and you've got a great piece of crazy.

Survival of the Dead

Picking up almost immediately on the heels of "Diary of the Dead", this film follows a group of national guardsmen (who actually appeared briefly two-thirds through Diary) looking for a zombie-free place to call their own. The script and acting are both great for a Romero film and there are a couple of callbacks to the earlier "Day of the Dead". Nothing happens that can't be guessed at, but all the same I would call this my fave Romero-zombie film.

Diary of the Dead
½

Pretty decent zombie documentary following college film students and their professor. A couple of unexpected twists and turns pop up along the way, but for the most part it's entertaining predictability.

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)
½

It's not easy being rich, smart, and the owner of the most advanced robotic superweapon-cum-high-tech-prosthesis the world has ever known. The government wants the suit, the people want a piece of you, the military wants your weapons, and your best friend wants a suit of his own. To top it off, old friends of your father are coming out of the woodwork with their own little agendas and your mechanical life-saving device is slowly but surely threatening to kill you.

Such is the situation Tony Stark finds himself in in this sequel to the 2008 smash "Iron Man". While not quite as good as the original (which was itself not quite as good as "Star Trek"), the film still moves along at a rapid-fire pace, never boring you and keeping the characters fresh and exciting. Not pausing to recap stuff that happened in the first one, here we jump right in six months post-Iron Man, where we see Tony loving life publicly while in private he's battling embittered senators over property rights for the suit while secretly searching for a cure to the poison slowly seeping through his system as a result of the palladium powered device implanted in his chest.

As I said, the movie moves at a rapid pace, giving you just enough information to keep up with it and identify the various characters as they come in. New additions to the cast include Sam Rockwell as a younger-than-in-the-comics Justin Hammer, a rival weapons developer; Mickey Rourke as Ivan Drago/Whiplash, the son of a former partner of Stark's father who is seeking vengeance against the Stark line for his own father being cast aside; and Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman/natasha Romanoff, an undercover SHIELD agent tasked with keeping tabs on Tony's condition while posing as his secretary-assistant. Also joining things is Don Cheadle, who capably replaces terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes.

Possibly the only real problem with the movie is the rapid pace leaving little time for characters to truly make their mark. The biggest example of this is with Rhodey, where Don Cheadle -- who I would normally say did great in the role -- has almost nothing to do until the third act, where he steals an early version of the Iron Man suit and hijacks it to a military base where it is transformed into the War Machine armor. From then on, his chops shine through and the role is perfect, but up into that point it felt more like a line reading with him rather than anything genuine. On the other end of the scale, though, is Sam Rockwell, who is a much younger and a much more annoying rather than threatening version of Justin Hammer than in the comics. I don't so much mind the decision to make him closer to Tony's age or to increase his cockiness and bravado, but the way the great Sam Rockwell played him unfortunately made him appear as little more than a greedy baby who whines whenever things don't go his way....which is pretty much all the time.

Fortunately, the rest of the cast and the effects department make up for these few oversights. Scarlett Johansson does such an awesome job as Romanoff that the absence of any Russian accent, however slight, goes almost completely unnoticed. Mickey Rourke is toweringly impressive as Drago/Whiplash, which is fantastic given that he's technically playing a combination of two characters. Sam Jackson's return as Nick Fury was great, giving us just enough of him to satisfy while not wearing out his welcome. Paltrow and RDJ were, of course, just as awesome as they were last time, and Favreau as Happy Hogan in an expanded role was icing on the cake. The music, effects, and suit design were all top-notch, and while it wasn't quite as good as I was hoping, it was still an awesome ride worth seeing again.

Also -- Thor's hammer at the end = SCHWING!!!

Shaun of the Dead

Funniest zombie fim ever. Somebody convince these boys to make a sequel.

Land of the Dead
½

Entertaining Romero-zombie film. Dennis Hopper was a bit wasted, but Leguizamo was sweet. I think Big Daddy is the first sympathetic zombie ever, and I really dig him, along with the photo booth zombies played by the Shaun of the Dead boys (Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg).

The Faculty
The Faculty(1998)
½

A fun and freaky alien invasion of a high school. Something you can watch once and predict everything that's gonna happen, but it's still worth watching again and again.

The Descent
The Descent(2006)

Moody and creepy but nothing really special. The ending shot was just stupid.

Feast
Feast(2006)
½

Gross, unpredictable, visceral....and just a tad forgettable.

Slither
Slither(2006)

A great mix of horror and comedy with plenty of gross-out sequences and awesome performances by Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker.

Dawn of the Dead

Although "28 DAys Later" gets credit for reinventing and reenvigorating zomebie films (as it should), this baby is the definitive zombie movie of that year for me. Visceral and hardcore, Zack Snyder's retelling of George Romero's story about people who get rapped in a mall during a zombacolypse is just awesome. Although there's a lot more characters in the original leaving less room for development, the connections that get forged between the characters are believable and the ultimate choices they have to make and what happens to them afterwards leave you breathless. Less an exact remake and more of an homage, this is definitely a movie any zombie fan should own.

The Lovely Bones
½

What an amazing film. Everyone in this movie gives Oscarworthy performances and I have a feeling that it was hell for the academy narrowing down the given nominations to just Tucci for best supporting, an award which he probably would have won had it not been for Mr. Christoph "That's a bingo!" Waltz (not speaking against him, he was definitely better, though not by much). Ronan gives a heartbreaking performance that proves she'll be getting Oscars of her own any year now. Wahlberg and Weisz were equally amazing, with Wahlberg giving the best performance of his career (thus far) and Weisz practically disappearing into her role of the mother so much I forgot there was an actress playing her. Peter Jackson did a fantastic job of directing, the scipt was brilliant and didn't drag, the in-between scenes were beautiful, and the film was just great.

(please note that I haven't read the book [but would now like to] and so can't really speak on what's been changed or upon the relevance of Ruth, who seemed important at first but was barely there until the last few scenes)

A Nightmare on Elm Street
½

Okay, jackie Earle Haley is now the definitive Freddy Kruger. No offense to Robert Englund, but Haley not only made the role of Freddy his own, he took it to a whole new level of crazy. Unfortunately, he was the only goo dthing about the cast. Everyone else, although appropriate, failed to create any kind of concern or belief for their characters. Instead of Jesse, Nancy, Quentin, Kris, and Dean, all I saw was John Connor, drab girl, Quentin (okay, okay), chick from the new bad Melrose, and guy from Twilight. The script was a nice piece of work and the direction was decent, but it's still nothing that will give me nightmares.

Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart(2009)
½

Towards the end of this movie, Jeff bridge's character of Bad Blake tells Maggie Gyllenhall's reporter, Jean, "I'm not bad anymore." That's tru of both the character and Bridge's, who does a phoenomenal job as a country singer performing beyond his era. Everyone -- Gyllenhall, Bridges, Duvall, and even Colin Farrell as a former protege of Bad's -- does a fantastic job, and the script is one of the more heartfelt things I've heard/seen in a while.

The Losers
The Losers(2010)
½

Big, loud, funny, and violent. It makes no apologies and is pretty much an A-Team movie on speed for those not familiar with the A-Team. Great stuff, and Chris Evans and Zoe Saldana are brilliant for hilarity and sex appeal, respectively.

Death at a Funeral

Hilarious movie where pretty much every performance is a memorable one. The story is basically every remotely concievable thing going wrong at a funeral for a beloved patriarch of an LA-based family. James Marsden steals every scene he's in ("Everything is so GREEN!!!") and Danny Glover is at his cantankerous best, even throwing out some lethal weapon callbacks. Luke Wilson was a little bland, but that might have been the part (although considering it's him, probably not). Tracy Morgan and Zoe Saldana were both great, and Chris Rock did an okay straight man, though I would have liked him to generate some hilarity too. Overall, not bad.

Fairy Tale: A True Story

Incredibly magical and beautiful movie. The fairy effects and costumes are the best I've ever seen, and the interactions they have with the girls are great. Despite the title, though, the fairies really take a backseat in the movie, as most of the screentime is devoted to the girls determination to show that they're real. There's some great acting from Paul McGann and Bill Nighy, although Harvey Keitel's Houdini is moderaterly forgettable. Especially notable is Peter O'Toole as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The script holds together splendidly and the ending is one of the kind that just makes you warm all over.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)
½

Super-awesome. For once I wasn't entirely displeased with Nic Cage. The story was fantastic, and the costumes the different characters come up with are all brilliant. Although the movie is about a comic nerd who dons a wetsuit to fight crime, the real star here is Chloe Moretz as the foul-mouthed eleven year old Hit Girl. Definitely worth multiple trips to the theater.

Catacombs
Catacombs(2008)
½

The worst thing is that this had such potential to be a good horror movie but bad acting (especially from Pink), a dumbed-down script, and cardboard characters ruin it. The sole saving grace is the setting, which is creepy enough on it's own that they could have just filmed the walls and floor and ceiling and gotten a good horror movie.

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood

TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER: 4
A twenty minute adaptation of the story within a story from the Watchmen graphic novel. Gerard Butler is awesome and hypnotizing as the isolated sea captain. The animation has a kind of anime feel to it, and the music and sfx are perfect for the story.

UNDER THE HOOD: 3.5
A look at the previous generation of heroes and how masks got started in the Watchmen universe. It's presented in the form of a late seventies documentary, which actually lends some authenticity to it. A lot of the lines are taken right from the graphic novel, and it's fun to watch what happened with the Minutemen, including their fall from grace at this world's version of the McCarthy hearings.

Doctor Who
Doctor Who(1996)
½

Fun doctor, even if he did claim to be half-human. The set-design for inside the TARDIS was good, and I liked Eric Roberts as the master. His blonde doctor companion didn't really do it for me, but I definitely like the romantic and passionate McGann as the doctor and was disappointed that this was all he got, as he's my favorite (although in fairness, I've not seen David tennant's excursions).

The Rocker
The Rocker(2008)
½

Less "School of Rock" and more "Bad News Bears". I picked it up mostly for Rainn Wilson but the movie surprised me into liking it. It's got a lot of laughs and jokes played on eighties hair bands along with some decent music and Jason Sudekis being a hilariously conniving manager. The band is two-thirds cardboard (Stone and Geiger), one-third funny (Gad). Lynch is forgettable, as most of the good parent lines go to either Applegate (Geiger's mom) or Garlin (Gad's dad). Not quite good enough to be as great and lasting as Queen or Kiss, but definitely better than Lou Bega, so on the comparitive scale, we'll give it a Linkin Park with a Lars Ulrich thrown in for good measure.

William Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Real fun with some great casting. Pfieffer is the defininitive Titania and Kline is a magnificent ass as Bottom. Not sure about Everett as Oberon, but Tucci as Puck made up for it. For the humans, most of them were decent, but the standout was Sam Rockwell as Flute, who did some amazing stuff with that persona. The lovers were all decent and did a good job, but except for the big fight in the middle you almost forget they're there between the fairies fighting and the mechanicals flubbing themselves. The bike thing was interesting and it's not as big a move as "A Midsummer Night's Rave" was, so I won't complain...especially because Puck's first interaction with the bike was gold. Costumes and makeup were alright, with the highpoint being Bottom's transformation. In all other aspects, the film stays on its feet and is worth the money spent to watch it.

Sydney White
Sydney White(2007)

Actually a pretty good movie. It's got the usual Bynes mix of humor and cuteness, but that's not really a bad thing. There's a ton of snow White references (the last name of her nemesis being Witchburn, seven dorks she lives with with personalities like the dwarves [one guy sneezes a lot, another is always sleeping, a third is a mad scientists, and so on], the last name of the lead boy is Prince, and -- my favorite -- as the dorks are walking past Rachel Witchburn (Paxton) at one point, they say to her, "Hi, ho."). There's plenty of laughs and it's worth a look, even if you're not in the target 7-17 female demographic.

Thirteen
Thirteen(2003)
½

Brilliant and frightening. The script is extremly well-done, and the acting by Hunter, Wood, and Reed is awardworthy.

Date Night
Date Night(2010)

The funniest movie of 2010, with hilarious performances by everyone and a new definition for the term "sex robot".

Lars and the Real Girl
½

A little strange at first, but beautiful by the end. Ryan Gosling does a magnificent job as the lonely Lars who ends up dating a realdoll as a means of dealing with his emotional problems. Although at first I was smiling, by the end of the movie I found myself filling in some lines for Bianca and crying at the doomed relationship between the two.

Be Kind Rewind
½

Funny and entertaining, but it doesn't really get good until twenty minutes or so into the movie, so if you can make it that long it'll be okay. The best part is the cameo by Sigourney Weaver.

Sherrybaby
Sherrybaby(2006)

Very well-acted by Gyllenhal and Trejo and an excellent story, but some of the actors seemed not to care much about their characters and the ending wasn't really that satisfying.

Clash of the Titans
½

The best part of this - it is nowhere near as laughably bad as the original. Although I saw it in 2D, it was easy enough to tell where the 3D parts were, and it would have definitely been cool. Sam Worthington did a good job, although for a little while I kept thinking of him as Jake Sully, so similar were the plotlines. Liam Neeson was awesome as Zeus, but Ralph Fiennes basically did a less makeup covered Voldemort for Hades. The special effects were good throughout, especially the Kraken and the scorpions, and the script never once devolved into camp. With a few exceptions, most of the cast looked a lot alike and seemed to suffer from RCS -- Rep Company Syndrome (meaning anyone could have played any other character). Otherwise, the direction was tight and the story wrapped up nicely, giving me a real satisfying experience.

Dante's Inferno
½

Great movie tie-in based on a great video game. The movioe adds some things to the games story which makes the plot that much more interesting (eg, a stillborn son of Dante and Beatrice that he didn't know about and encounters in Limbo and Beatrice being beaten by her new "husband" Lucifer). The musi9c is basically the same awesome score from tghe video game and the script, despite some awkward one-liners (one example is Virgil on Gluttony: "I find this circle most unpleasant."), is pitch perfect from scene one. Put simply, this Inferno is one Paradise that I would visit again and again.

Dragon Wars
Dragon Wars(2007)
½

Just...bad. Stiff acting, plenty of cliches, and a weak script abound. There were some cool effects, the music was great, and the last twenty minutes or so were cool, but for the most part the movie was just not as good as it could have been.

The Haunted Airman
½

Extremely weird movie with so-so acting, bland music, and a tacked-on ending that almsot doesn't make sense given everything that came before it. Moderately creepy and a good way to kill 70 minutes, but there's better movies out there.

Hot Tub Time Machine
½

Funnier and better than anything has any right to be. The best part is how close the guy playing 1986-Adam looks like John Cusack circa 1986. Also, Crispin Glover deserves a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for this. In fact, let's just submit this for every category for the 2011 Oscars and see what sticks. If nothing else, see it for Craig Robinson's indescribably awesome performance of "Let's Get It Started".

The Open Road
½

Pretty typical road trip movie with a slight alteration to the formula. Timberlake and Bridges both did great and their relationship was believable to a point...I'm just not sure if I belive that JT could be JB's son. Some nice scenery and decent music help to keep the movie rolling, but the ending is predictable and has no real surprises.

The Skulls
The Skulls(2000)

Good acting, mediocre script, typical ending. Worth a rental.

Assassination of a High School President
½

Mostly stock characters but the script is good and funny, the protagonist is great, and Willis is awesome. Some of the acting (Barton's in particular) was weak, but the movie was mostly funny and is worth watching.

Repo Men
Repo Men(2010)
½

Okay, the worst thing about this is that it borrows from all of the following -- Blade Runner, Repo: The Genetic Opera, and V For Vendetta. That said, it's still a VERY enjoyable film. The ending was, as I said to some other people at the show, "one f*****-up ending", although I mean that in the best possible way, since the ending is a great twist that had me laughing in twisted delight for a while afterwards. Everyone was perfectly cast, although Alice Braga's character of romantic-interest-that-used-to-hate-the-protagonist-but-is-now-helping-him was kind of annoying and bordered on unneccessary. On the other hand, Liev Schrieber was totally awesome as the head of the company and I loved him. Despite the fact that this is really just a non-musical version of Repo: The Genetic Opera (even if this is supposedly based on some book I never hear head of), it's still an awesome film that is surprisingly light on gore and should definitely be seen.

Alpha Dog
Alpha Dog(2007)
½

Amazing performances, brilliant script, and a haunting story made all the more so thanks to the fact that it really happened. The biggest surprise here is Timberlake, who proves once and for all that he can act and look tough (for the record, when I saw this having I'd only experienced him via N'Sync). Definitely worthwhile.

Couples Retreat

Hilarious and with a brilliant cast, though the ending is a little cliche (couldn't at least one or two people have left the island single or divorce-bound?).

The Runaways
The Runaways(2010)

Extremely well-done and superbly acted. The singing/playing of the girls was great and sounded a lot like the real Runaways. Although Stewart does a great job as Jett and Fanning is amazing as Cheri Curry/Cherry Daiquiri, the best job is done by Scout Taylor-Compton, who plays Lita Ford and disappears into the role completely. Some liberties are taken, such as how the group was formed and who the bass players is (strangely, that's how it should be said), but the film is great and worth seeing.

Rendition
Rendition(2007)
½

Clever film that kind of Rashomons the story, although one of the storylines ends up happening a week prior to the others. Great acting by Witherspoon and Gyllenhal and a good script.

Where the Wild Things Are

Cute and touching, but despite the source material it's not really a kids movie, and it takes more than a few liberties with the story. Adults should enjoy it greatly, though.

Thank You for Smoking

Hilariously sctahing and incredibly politically incorrect. Possibly the best casting of Aaron Eckhart ever, and the kid playing his son was superb.

TRON
TRON(1982)
½

Master Control: "I want him in the games until he dies playing."

Wow. Usually when I watch an older movie -- especially one I've been meaning to watch forever -- I can't help but think how much better the effects would be if it had been made today. Given the plot, though, I would say that this thing is perfect as is and, more, is perfectly amazing.

Flynn: "On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy..."

Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is an ex-employee of ENCOM, a corporation whose current manager, Ed Dillinger has stolen all of Flynn's designs for video games and presented them as his own, resulting in profit for Dillinger and termination and relegation to managing a video game arcade for Flynn (where he spends most of his time playing and beating "Dillinger's" games, of course). One night, he and two friends that still work at ENCOM break into the corporation so Flynn can get evidence of Dillinger's activities. In so doing, however, Flynn arouses the wrath of the Master Control Program, which scans him into the system where he has but one option -- to play...

Flynn: [groggily] Did we make it? [Tron nods affirmatively] Hooray for our side...

Put simply, this movie was cycles ahead of it's time, and it still managed to keep up and be impressive despite (for the most part) looking like it was thrown together in someone's basement. The effects are great, the designs are brilliant, and the script is both action-packed and self-referentially funny, filled with tons of computer-themed lines (such as characters that say "End of line" when they finish speaking). The plot is incredibly original, and while the music is a little weak, the rest of the film sparkles like a five thousand gigabyte hard-drive. Very cool.

Lucky Number Slevin

Hilarious and hard-hitting. Possibly the best movie involving hitmen out there.

The Air I Breathe
½

Very good film. Andy Garcia does great gangster work, but that's nothing new. Brendan Fraser's guy was a little stiff and had a plot hole or two in his coat (why's he psychic?) but he had good chemistry with SMG, who fortunately did a good turn here. Emile Hirsch played a cliche wannabe bad boy, so I'm just gonna ignore him completely. The attempt at Rashomoning the story was decent, but it almost didn't make sense until the last few minutes when you see just how everything fit together. All actors were convincing as their characters, though, and the ending is quite satisfying.

Passengers
Passengers(2008)

Not a bad film and it's got a cool double-twist ending that I only guessed the first half of, but the multiple genre combo threw me and the stars are so them that I couldn't think of them as their characters, which always hurts a film and indicates some needed script improvement. Anne Hathaway and David Morse were great, though.

Alice in Wonderland

Okay, first order of business -- Johnny Depp steals the show here once again, thus guaranteeing that Disney will now force Burton to make a movie focusing entirely on The Mad Hatter.

Moving on....

This movie was pretty good, serving as a kind of 3rd Alice, in my opinion. It definitely isn't the original Alice, except for the title, but there isn't enough of "Through The Looking-Glass" in it for it to be an adaptation of that. Instead, we have here a fully-grown Alice, thirteen years after first falling down the rabbit hole and being proposed to. She runs away and sees a rabbit in a coat and tails. She gives chase and falls down the hole again, thus kick-starting another adventure in Underland.

For what it's worth, everyone involved does a great job. Mia does an interesting take on Alice, having her be slightly more real than everyone else on our side of the looking glass. Of course, this may be due to Burton's decision to have her be the only human being capable of wearing something other than black, white, gray, or various shades thereof. Regardless, once she gets to Wonderland, she gets little to do except react for most of the film, with most of her lines being variations on "This is a dream, so what the hell." Once the climax gets close, her performance does become a lot less cardboard. I wouldn't go so far as to say she's a great actress, but she does a good job and is at least believable in the role.

The residents of Wonderland (or Underland, if you don't mind) are equally off-kilter. Anne Hathaway is splendid and creepy as the White Queen, Crispin Glover is impressive as Illosivic Stayn, the Knave of Hearts, despite being nothing like the book version (he's more a personal assassin-slash-piece on the side here). Helena Bonham Carter does a hilarious Red Queen (with a few dashes of the Queen of Hearts), playing her as a spoiled child given the ability to rule everything. Lastly, Johnny Depp is both hilarious and frightening as the Mad Hatter, who seems to have gotten a bit of a crush on Alice over the years, though this goes off during moments of introspection when his voice becomes hoarse and he seems to become more of a frightening figure. This doesn't even cover the voice and CGI created characters of Absalom the blue caterpillar, The March Hare, the Tweeds, Mallymkun (the dormouse), and Chessur, who are the real stars and made the film a lot better.

Switching to the other side of the camera, the "set" designers must have taken the world of Pandora, turned it upside down and shook hard, and then whatever was leftover they combined with creep factors borrowed from the residents of Halloweentown.....and remarkably, it actually works. The costuming and makeup departments outdid themselves, and while the script was a little stiff and the 3-d added nothing to the film, it was still a great trip down the rabbit-hole for me.....so long as I don't have to come back for a fourth visit.

Extract
Extract(2009)

Think Office Space in an extract plant, but not quite as good. Jason Bateman stars as Joel, the owner of his own factory who gets in deep after an accident leaves one of the workers with one testicle and an enterprising con-woman gets the idea to hook up with him and sue the company for one million dollars. Things get worse when while relieving stress through natural remedies (ie, getting high), he and a friend get the idea to send his wife a gigolo/pool boy so he can have a guilt-free affair with said con-woman, who they don't realize is conning him in the first place.

Judging by the trailers, Extract showed a lot of promise...and in some areas, it delivers. The movie is fresh and funny, with memorable characters doing a boatload of zany antics which all end up coming together at the end....just like in Office Space. There is also a fairly straight-laced guy who makes a life mistake and makes everything go to hilarious shit....again, just like in Office Space. The key difference is that while Office Space was neat and original about it, here it feels like it's been done, as though the members of a theatre company are performing the same plot of a play they did ten years ago but with a new playwright and none of the old faces. It's still good for what it is, but it's bad for what it could have been.

A Serious Man
½

A Serious Man is the kind of movie that needs to be watched with patience and a clear man. I know, because the first time I tried watching it I turned it off about twenty minutes in.....which ironically enough is just about the time that the movie starts getting good. It's fairly funny, and has an excellent script with fantastic acting by Stuhlbarg (who probably should have gotten the Best Actor nomination instead of Colin Firth, in my opinion -- I mean, if Christoph Waltz got one for Inglorious Basterds, then why not?). The movie is incredibly original and is definitely a contender for "Best Original Screenplay" come Oscar time.

The Crazies
The Crazies(2010)

Quick and brutal fun. I was silently laughing at some of the stuff in this -- not so much because it was a dumb thing to do, but because it was so crazy. The acting was B-List all the way, so no big things there. The gore was frequent and the MacGuffin was pretty obvious. One complaint was how the government contains it by atomizing the town and the two survivors don't get blinded somehow or recieve radiation poisoning. Otherwise, fun times.

What Just Happened?

A dark comedy aboout the ins and outs of being a hollywood producer. Good acting from DeNiro and a hilarious turn by Bruce Willis (parodying himself), but the script felt a little empty and only DeNiro, Keener, and Willis seemed really invested in the film. Also, the whole subplot about his family/families felt a little tacked on, as though they needed one more angle to look at him from.

X-Men: The Last Stand
½

Good casting, especially with Ellen Page and Kelsey Grammer, but the script needed some more work and there were almost too many mutants, making it hard to really care about what happened.

The Invention of Lying
½

This movie was pretty good. The humor in it was pretty British (which you'll understand if you've seen the original "The Office"). It started off cute but by the time they hit the casino I was roaring. Jennifer Garner's character could have been played by anyone, but the rest of the cast is great, and so is the underlying theme -- namely, that lying is responsible for all the creativity in the world (literature, movies, etc.).

Panic Room
Panic Room(2002)
½

An okay thriller with some great performances (esp. Yoakam and Stewart), but there's better movies out there.

Shutter Island
½

A little bit of a letdown, which sucks considering the phoenomenal talent (Dicaprio, Kingsley, Scorsese, Williams) involved. The ending really works better when read in the book, since in that case it leaves it up in the air for the reader to determine the ultimate state of Teddy's mind (although I do give points to the filmmakers for not changing the ending entirely as so many of them are wont to do, so there's that). Likewise, the song that played over the end credits was really bad and nigh-unbearable to listen to. There were also a few parts of the story which aided in the mystery solving that were cut out from the book, though these were kind of minor and didn't affect the story so I won't complain too much. On the other hand, the performances of everyone (especially Michelle Williams as Dicaprio's wife and a barely-there-but-unforgettable Jackie Earle Haley as a mental patient that has some history with Teddy) were fantastic (if not Oscar-caliber), and both the set designs (interior and exterior) and the music (meaning score) were brilliant and really helped to deliver the sense of mystery and isolation that is so present in the film (a note on the score: the main theme uses a foghorn-like instrument on the opening notes -- extremely effective, even if I did think it was a sound effect at first, and possibly because of that). In the end, I would say that if you go in with no prior knowledge of the story and don't stay through the end credits, you'll have a great time.

Speak
Speak(2004)

A slowly gripping piece with an understated and amazing performance by Kristen Stewart. Very well done (which is not something I was thinking when I started watching, but was at the end).

The Messengers
½

Pretty typical horror movie that play's like a mix of The Amityville Horror, The Birds, and Psycho. Decent performances, forgettable music, standard effects, and a by-the-numbers script define this.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters
½

Real funny shit that plays like a 90 minute version of the show, ala South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut. Not exactly for people who aren't already fans, but if you like the show (and want to know Frylock's real gender), you'll definitely enjoy this.

The Hoax
The Hoax(2007)

Great acting, good script. I had never heard of the story before seeing the movie, but now that I have I have to say that it's incredible how Irving was able to pull it off for so long.

The Blind Side

The best movie I've seen since The Shawshank Redemption and a practical shoo-in for best picture. The script is funnier than I expected and so touching that the person I saw it with (who never cries) was wiping his eyes for a while. Sandra Bullock does a phoenomenal job as Leigh Ann, although Tim McGraw could have been re[;aced with anyone and it wouldn't have mattered too much. The real breakout star here is, of course, Quinton Aaron, who could be great one day if he keeps up with this acting thing. This movie deserves a place with Rudy, Remember the Titans, and Varsity Blues in the "great football movies" section of anyone's home theater collection.

Suspect Zero
Suspect Zero(2004)

Very predictable with bad acting and only the tiniest of twists. The sad thing is it could have been a much better movie if they had just used the altenate extended ending shown on the DVD.

The Wolfman
The Wolfman(2010)

Decent movie with an acceptable script and effects that look like they were done by forties filmmakers who had access to todays technology (not sure if that's good or bad). The acting makes up for any defeciencies, though, and Danny Elfman's musical score seems to be inspired by Wojech Kilar's phenomenal music from Bram Stoker's Dracula (the 1992 one with -- guess who? -- Anthony Hopkins).

Stop-Loss
Stop-Loss(2008)

Decent movie and Phillipe and Levitt are both great but the ending has an almost oedipal feel to it (ie, you can't escape your destiny).

Up in the Air
½

Good acting by Clooney and Kendrick (who I really want to see more of) and a great script but Vera Farmiga's role could have been played by anyone and the ending almost made the rest of the movie feel irrelevant.

Moon
Moon(2009)
½

A nice little character-driven (in a whole new fashion) piece that managed to slip under everyone's radar, which is a real shame considering how awardworthy it is. The story revolves around an isolated miner on the moon who gets into a serious accident and whose unusual replacement arrives ahead of schedule, provoking the miner into wondering just who he is and what he's doing there. The script is fantastic and original with perfect pacing and not a shred of cribbing from somewhere else. The score is equally powerful, hitting all the right emotional notes. The cinematography makes you feel as if you really are on the moon, and Rockwell's acting is better than anything he's ever done before this.

The Machinist
½

Good yet Predictable Story. Extra points should go to Bale, who is either a genius or a madman for making himself look like that and also for giving such an arresting and gripping performance.

The Hurt Locker

Visually it's the third best war film I've ever seen, with great acting and an awesome script. Lilly's character could have been used either a little more (story told in flashbacks, mayhaps) or not at all, but otherwise the film was great.

Fragments
Fragments(2008)

Good movie exploring the effects of trauma on people, what it makes them do, and how those close to them can be thusly affected. Beckinsale's performance was a little weak, but everyone else does great, especially Pearce, Fanning, and Jackie Earle haley, who isn't there much (I think his screen time was about twelve minutes total) but gives one hell of a performance when he is there. The script is top-notch, with the truth of what happened at the diner coming in fragments (get it?) and scenes are expertly paced with a somewhat unexpected payoff coming in the end. The only really bad part is the "Winged Creatures" title, which I don't understand at all -- good thing they changed it. In short, a really good movie that managed to come in under the radar and impress the hell out of me.

I Am Sam
I Am Sam(2001)
½

Good music and performances with an excellent breakout turn by Fanning, but the script felt a little heavy-handed and might have been better with a scene where Sam did endanger Lucya little bit, if only accidentally.

Edge of Darkness
½

Decent movie, albeit fairly predictable. A couple good jump-scenes and some nice acting by Mel Gibson and Ray Winstone.

Legion
Legion(2010)
½

Not bad. Most of the characters were a little cliche and I was hoping to see more angel fights. Paul Bettany and Kevin Durand were awesome as Michael and Gabriel, respectively. Not much of an ending, but otherwise it's okay.

Grace
Grace(2009)
½

Boring at first and it takes too long to get to the hardly-used payoff, but still worth a look if you're into originality in horror films.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
½

Visually astounding, perfectly cast, brilliantly acted, and wonderfully directed. This movie was the most fun I've had at the cinema since "Iron Man" (not that there's anything in common with the two), and it was the perfect swan swong for Heath Ledger. I wouldn't be surprised to see this at Oscars.

My Sister's Keeper

Well-acted, sad, and with a great performance by Joan Cusack in an unusual (for her) role.

The Book of Eli
½

Like Mad Max as made by the Catholic church. Brilliantly acted (Oscar nom for Denzel? Maybe....) and beautifully put together, this thing is worth every penny.

Ratatouille
Ratatouille(2007)

My sixth favorite Pixar movie (beaten by Wall-E, Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc.), this lovable tail has more kitchen and restaurant jokes than you can shake a mousetrap at.

World's Greatest Dad

It looks like a less depressing and more funny movie than it actually is. The acting by everyone is alright, and Williams gets off a few good jokes, but I didn't quite buy the story and except for the main song and a few good scenes was left wanting a lot more.

Children of the Corn

Not too bad. It was definitely more faithful to the original King story. Some character traits were added in for the purposes of fleshing things out, which I actually approved of (Vicky's source of anger at Burt being his willingness to go to Vietnam, along with some possible racial overtones [ie, the stress of being a mixed coupled in the 1970s]). The kid playing Issac was a creepy little bastard, and Malachi/Daniel Newman was a scary-determined yet sympathetic guy (to a point). The script was almost exactly word for word from the story (again, with some extensions). Direction and music were alright, and the woman playing Vicky.....well, let's just say I could understand Burt when he strikes at her. As for Burt (David Anders, lately of Heroes), he did a pretty good job and seemed to fit the role, but there still felt an undefinable something lacking in his performance. Still, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone disappointed with the original film or anyone who loved the film version of Christine.

Daybreakers
Daybreakers(2010)
½

Fun but not exactly worthy, it might have been more comfortable on the SciFi (or however they're spelling it now) network. Nothing really memorable, but there is some originality when it comes to second-stage character design, the consequences of a world full of vamps, and certain other spoilery items.

Invictus
Invictus(2009)
½

Great script and camera work with some phenomenal acting by Damon. The only disapointment is that I couldn't get into Morgan Freeman's Nelson Mandela.

The Answer Man (Arlen Faber)
½

Pretty goood. The acting was decent, and Jeff Daniels was superb as always. There weren't any big surpises or twists (if you've seen the trailer you can pretty much deduce the ending). All in all, it's a nice way to spend the evening.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
½

It's entertaining enough, but I'm not as crazy about it as some. Still fun to dress up to, though.

Sherlock Holmes
½

Flashy and impressive, with great performances by RDJ and Jude Law. McAdams was alright, but her character was nothing special. The real surprise is the director, who comes from near-music video roots to create a masterpiece combination of classic story and current technique.

A Christmas Story

Cute and endearing, with a story that spans generations.

Four Christmases

Gets a little funny halfway through, but there's a lot better christmas movies.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)

Words cannot describe this visual feast. James Cameron has taken existing motion capture technology (which reached its zenith in Renaissance, IMO) and improved and rewritten all the rules for it. This is not so much a movie as it is a theme park journey to another world (technically, a moon), and the story is so well-written and the visuals so well done that there is no chance of you letting go of your seat until the last frame is shown.

Brothers
Brothers(2009)

Decent movie. Predictable and with some scenes that might have worked better as flasbacks. Portman is heavily restrained by the script (she's a much better actress than the script allows her to be), but the real highlight is Tobey Maguire's performance, which turns out to be the highlight of his career and could be the thing that gets him an Oscar nomination.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Let's look at the trail of Alan Moore in film. From Hell? Brilliant, but off-source slightly. Constantine? Fluff that could not be more different from it's origin. Watchmen? Ultra-faithful to the point of stagnation. Swamp-Thing? A misstep, but given the technological limitations of the time that can be forgiven. V For Vendetta? Great film, so long as you don't mind that the politics have been distorted to an anti-terrorist message by American filmmakers (I don't, so ha).

So now I come to this, the last film based on an Alan Moore work that I haven't seen. Given the reaction of most people, I went in expecting not much, and I wasn't disappointed (or maybe I was, but this isn't the place for a semantics argument). Most of the problems with the movie can be traced to studio interference, who put too much pressure on Norrington and made some calls that forced him to stray from the source material, such as altering the story behind Moriarty and dropping Dr. Fu Manchu from the script (one conceit -- I really did enjoy the presence of Tom Sawyer, and thought he was introduced with a history and in a way that Alan Moore would have used had he thought to put him in the novel).

Sadly, rushed direction cannot be the only fault in this movie. The hole-filled script heavily alters the leagues most important players -- Nemo, Quatermain, and Mina Murray (who is NOT known by Harker and whose husband is NOT dead, thank you very much) -- making them almost unrecognizable from the comic. Also, some of the effects, while spectacular, border on improbable (a 300+ foot submarine cruising through venetian canals with ease? really?), and the ending is cliche in the extreme. I will say that, in addition to good effects, the set design and costuming were great, but the lighting was at times too dark to see anything and the music was only standard at best. In the end, despite Alan Moore's efforts, another bad film based on one of his greatest works got made and wasted a few more reels of celluloid.

American Gangster

Good acting and a decent script, but ultimately this otherwise good gangster movie left me wanting more out of it.

Armored
Armored(2009)

Predictable heist movie with the standard players for that type of show (Dillon, Reno, Fisburne, Nolasco).

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Way better than the original, T:NM delves deeper into the vampiric existence while also introducing werewolves into the series. Everything about the series gets improved, and for a wonder I didn't find myself ashamed or embarssed to be seeing this. Heck, I'm even willing to see it a second time -- how's that for shocking?

The Last Mimzy

Cute kids movie. The kids gave great performances, and Rainn Wilson was a delight as the science teacher

Saved!
Saved!(2004)
½

Kinda cliche at parts, but no less touching and amusing for that. Mandy Moore and Macauley Culkin both do excellent performances, and the script is really quite original.

Life as a House

Really touching movie. Hayden Christensen does an okay job as the son, but considering that he's a central character that's not good enough, IMO. The script is fabulous, though, and the payoff is pretty good.

The Ruins
The Ruins(2008)

(before we get to the review...)

YEAH! MAX IS IN THIS! FROM ACROSS THE UNIVERSE! AND HE DOES AWESOME! WOOO!!!

Sorry. Anyway, once they enter the jungle the movie gets pretty good. The effects aren't great, but they don't really ned to be, so that's fine. All actors do a great and believable job, behaving exactly how one would expect them to in that situation. It really makes me wanna read the book it's based on, and was a great hour and a half that didn't turn out like I was expecting at all.

edit: Having now read the book, I can say that the movie is as good as it ever was, but is not quite as creepy as the book. It's still good, though. (edit date: 11/30/9)

Still Waiting...
½

Better than you would expect, though not better than the first. It shows how some characters from the original have changed, and really communicates how tough life can be. Either that, or it's just a damn funny flick. Either way, it's good.

Waiting
Waiting(2005)
½

Hilarious and gross with some fabulously memorable lines.

"If you two gangster wannabes don't quit smoking and get back inside I'm gonna fire you faster than you can say Yo MTV raps!"

"We almost had to switch to the ten-second rule!"

"Hey Monty? I'm only a minor for another week."

Fantastic Mr. Fox
½

Amusing and innovative claymation film based on a book by the man behind Willy Wonka. The cast is fabulous and the script is hilarious. It can speak to both kids and adults, and I might even say that it's this year's Toy Story.

Surf's Up
Surf's Up(2007)
½

The idea of this movie isn't exactly original -- throw a so-called documentary crew into the midst of a surfing contest and have them follow the rookie around as he works his way towards winning the championship. Similar movies have come out before this was made and after, with varying degrees of success. What makes this work is the penguins. Seeing their cute and stubby bodies moving and curling on the waves made this movie. It was hilarious, it was lovable, it was touching, it was cast perfectly, it didn't succumb to pressure by having Keanu Reeves in it as either a mockery or a straight role, and at one point it even had me on the edge of my seat with anticipation during an especially intense sequence. Add to that some great wav effects and awesome current music (including multiple Green Day tracks) and you've got a perfect movie.

The Astronaut's Wife
½

Kinda creepy with an interesting twist at the end, but ultimately it's something of a let-down.

Nobel Son
Nobel Son(2008)

An alright movie. Alan Rickman plays a perfect dick (ie., he plays a dick perfectly) and has some great lines. The plot is fairly predictable, and the so-called twists don't really surprise that much. The cast has a huge range of great actors, although most of them aren't really given much to do (specifically DeVito and Danson). Finally, the title song wasn't that great, and ditto for the rest of the music. In short: a caper film that thinks it's a better movie than it is when it's really just a collection of connected jokes.

The Brothers Bloom

Great writing, great acting, great scenery, and a beautiful ending.Also, Bang Bang was the bomb.

The Men Who Stare at Goats

Funny, off-kilter, and just plain weird. Clooney gives a great performance, although Bridges just recreates The Dude for the army and Spacey is his standard tightwad jerk role. McGregor does great, but I couldn't stop making Jedi jokes to myself long enough to truly enjoy his performance (not that it deserved that). The plot and music are perfect, and the ending really makes you laugh and smile at the same time.

Hard Candy
Hard Candy(2006)
½

Excellently written and wonderfully acted. It really keeps you guessing about the two characters right up until the end, and even after the credits roll you might still be wondering about them.

Adventureland

Great movie that gives an accurate portrayal of what it's like to be a college grad with no real prospects. All the actors give great performences, especially Stewart and Reynolds, and everything is era-appropriate. Proof that comic actors (of which most of the cast is) can easily do medium drama. A great film.

In the Land of Women
½

Well-acted and realistic, but not exactly memorable.

Bobby
Bobby(2006)
½

Fantastic film dealing with the ways Bobby Kennedy touched the lives of so many people, even on his last day on earth. The film has more stars than you could shake a galaxy at and is in my opinion impossible to watch without feeling connected to at least one of the many protagonists (in my case, it was the Elijah Wood character). The last fifteen minutes when Bobby is shot and his speech "On the mindless menace of violence" plays over a montage of the characters and their reactions to the tragedy are especially moving and had silent tears running down my face. Granted, all of the characters besides Bobby are fictional or fictional versions of real people that have had the names changed (for instance, not one of the people wounded in the kitchen in the movie was there, if they even existed in the first place), but that's a little thing and should in no way detract from the power of this movie.

The Station Agent
½

Touching story about a man with dwarfism who comes out of his self-imposed isolation while living at an old railway station. Good acting and good scenery, but not exactly Oscarworthy.

Beowulf
Beowulf(2007)

Good graphics and great motion capture, as is to be expected when Robert Zemekis (Polar Express) is involved. The characters all bear more than a superficial resemblence to their players (and that includes Beowulf himself, who physically looks more like Thomas-Jane-times-Arnold-Schwarzenegger), and there is incredibly detailed design on everything, especially Grendel (I swear, I think I actually saw pus dripping from him at one point) and the dragon fight at the end. The voice-acting (if it can be called that) was top notch, and the inclusion of old English language was a great idea (bless you, Neil Gaiman). The only bad thing I can really say is that it's a little hard to get into at first, but if you can stick it out you'll be hooked from the moment that Grendel first starts tearing shit up (literally....I mean, the guy sticks a persons head in his mouth and bites it off like it's a candy bar) until the pyre at the end and it's slightly ominous aftermath. Make no mistake, this is a movie you HAVE to see.

2012
2012(2009)
½

Standard Emmerich stuff -- imminent global diaster is discovered, people at several locations find out about it, chance meetings occur, the crazy and lovable guy gets killed, everyone comes together to fight it, the president gets killed, the haughty guy gets humbled, and the genius with an estranged lover gets reunited with her. It was a better ride than most of his stuff, though (only Stargate and Independence Day were better), and it delivers exactly what it promises, so there's not much chance of disappointment. Oddly, there actually is a pleasant surprise/twist in the film that I didn't really see coming but made sense in retrospect. In conclusion, it's a fun movie that's good for a couple viewings. Now, let's hope the sequel TV series is as good for this as SG-1 was for Stargate.

What? You laugh like I'm making that last part up. --> http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2009/11/04/2012-tv-planned/

Into the Wild

Filled with sheer beauty and greatly moving. It really lets you see what McCandless saw when he made his own journey through the wild. Emile Hirsch pretty much runs the emotional gamut as Chris, managing to convey every emotion across the screen as though he was right next to you. The relationships between the characters are portrayed wonderfully and the locations are breathtaking, with poignantly appropriate music peppered throughout every scene.

Fallen
Fallen(1997)
½

A great cop movie with supernatural elements, rather than the other way around, like I was expecting. Denzel and Goodman give great performances, but Sutherland just does his usual surlygrumpy boss bit. The villain -- and more particularly, how he was portrayed -- was great, and the music and ending get this thing a whole star all by theirself, with one of the best twists I've seen (actually, the ending got it an extra half-star higher than I was originally gonna give it).

"Tiiiiiiiiiiiiime is on my siiiiide......yes it is."

Charlie Bartlett

Good acting, funny writing, and Robert Downey Jr waving a pistol around drunk while doing good drama -- that's all you need. Basically, Ferris Bueller from private school transferred to high school.

12 Rounds
12 Rounds(2009)
½

Not a bad action film, but it could have been a lot better. Probably the biggest weak point was the hamminess of the villain.

The Box
The Box(2009)

Very weird but not too hard to follow. It twists things around with the ending (changing it from Matheson's story) and tries to be too much like Donnie Darko when it would have been cooler to fit the whole search and everything else involved into a single day like the story has it. The one thing that really bugged me that I can't get past was Cameron Diaz's southern belle accent. Not only did it feel unneccessary and tacked on, but it didn't come close to appearing genuine and even disappeared entirely in some scenes as though there was another version of the movie without it and small scenes from that one accidentally got spliced into this one. Still, it is worht a look, but I would recommend waiting for DVD instead of seeing it in the theater.

Neverwas
Neverwas(2005)
½

A little disappointing. The way it's set up has you thinking that it's going to be an adult version of Chronicles of Narnia or something along those lines, but instead it's closer to Bridge to Terabithia. There is good acting from all involved, although the chemistry between Murphy and Eckhart fizzles some and the ending -- for me, anyway -- leaves something to be desired.

Twilight
Twilight(2008)

Alright, I'll be honest: I hate Twilight. It's cheesy, it's boring, and it's basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer for prepubescent girls minus every ounce of action and watered down so that there can be no appeal whatsoever for anyone outside of the aforementioned target audience.

At least, that was my attitude before seeing this.

Now, my opinion has changed a little (emphasizing little). Don't get me wrong, this hasn't been for me what Harry Potter was. I don't have an intense desire to read the books now that the movie has shown me the world. I don't suddenly identify with a certain character and I certainly aren't on pins and needles waiting for Stephanie Meyer to reveal a new detail about the saga. That said, I did enjoy this movie to a point.

Now, as I expected going in, there were a few things wrong. Some of the dialogue came off as cheesy and bland, especially Edward's hissy fit (really, there's no other term for it) when Bella yanks him out of the closet/coffin/whatever and calls him on what he is. The humans (except for Bella and -- occasionally -- Charlie) are dumb, forgettable, and (in some cases) a little creepy. On a similar note, Edward's also a little weird/creepy at first, though that might actually be part of the plan, since he is supposed to be trying to turn Bella off of him.

Now for what I liked. First, the sparkle effect when Edward's in the sun didn't look quite as bad as I imagined it would. Likewise for that whole lion/lamb thing, which surprisingly did NOT have me rolling my eyes, since Edward said the first bit (pun intended? you decide) and since he's supposed to be from the early 1900s, it sounded okay. The chemistry between him and Bella (Kristen Stewart) was great, and the location shots and setting were sweet. The music and the effects were pretty basic, but there wasn't anything that made me laugh out loud at the absurdity. To summarize, this hasn't converted me all the way like HP1 did, but I did like it and am now willing to see the other movies in this series with far less hesitancy than I did this one.

Just keep the books away from me.

Up
Up(2009)

Fantastic and funny. Ed Asner is awesome as Carl, and the dogs are worthy of their own movie/spin-off series.

Riding the Bullet

Decent adaptation of a Stephen King novella that expands upon the main character's story a little bit. I liked David Arquette's performance as Staub (he needs to be a bad guy more, I think now) and the idea of giving Alan's inner voice it's own body was cool. Also good was Barbara Hershey playing his mom. The only thing I didn't really like was the decision to make his mom's nurse Annie Wilkes, since that just seems like pandering to King fans. All in all, though, a great film.

The Invisible
½

Pretty good, despite what some ratings say. While there's nothing unobvious (new word?) or scary in it, it does work good as a ghostly drama and is worth seeing if you're looking for a Halloween flick that doesn't really frighten you.

Paranormal Activity
½

Scariest halloween movie ever with a wicked freaky ending.

Trick 'r Treat
½

Rashomon for Halloween lovers, this is probably the most fun Halloween movie I've ever seen. Sam is my new favorite Halloween staple, and I really wish that this had gotten a wider theatrical release instead of a limited direct-to-DVD release.

Repo! The Genetic Opera
½

"A mix of Rocky Horror and Saw: The Musical", is what I was thinking throughout this. It kind of grew on me the longer I watched it, and I surprised myself by wanting to watch it again, if only to see the character of Grave Robber again. Paul Sorvino seems to think he's the best thing about this movie, and Paris Hilton has no clue what she's doing, although her singing is alright (did I really just say that?). In short, a fun movie, but you could do better.

The Eye
The Eye(2008)

Managed to do the job of making Jessica Alba look like Plain Jane. It was an okay way to kill an hour and a half, but there's nothing really special about it. Put simply, if you want to see a good american remake of a japanese movie, stick with The Grudge.

Renaissance
Renaissance(2006)
½

The best mocap movie I've ever seen

Saw VI
Saw VI(2009)

If they really are wrapping up the series with this one, it's a great way to go out. The twist was tiny but nice, and it was cool to see what became of Hoffman and what his role in Saw III was. My only complaint has to do with the casting of the son and the wife, but other than that this one was great and is my new favorite of the series.

O
O(2001)
½

Hugo: I did what I did, and that's all you need to know. From here on out I'll say nothing.

First off, I saw this fresh on the heels of seeing a performance of Othello, so I was literally giggling throughout the first three-quarters of it enjoying all the little parallels and setups, such as Rodrigo/Roger being Iago/Hugo's roommate, and Michael "Big Mike" Cassio being the co-captain on Odin's team, coached by Duke (sic) Goulding, the father of Iago/Hugo, who is dating Amelia/Emily, the roomate-best friend of Desdemona/Desi.

Desi Brable: If you're asking me if I'm cheating on you, get some balls and ask! Michael? You're the only person I've ever been with and you're the only person I want to be with! And if you want to be with me you never talk to me like that again, ever!

The casting and portrayal of all the different characters was fantastic, and Tim Blake Nelson is to be commended for that above all else, because if he'd chosen different people, this movie would have been nowhere near as good, I'm sure. Josh Hartnett's portrayal of Hugo's seething hatred of Odin is chilling, making me realize just how sociopathic the character really is. Likewise, the descent of Odin (Mekhi Phifer) from king-of-the-world to a drugged-up jealous rageaholic is beautiful, as is the sweet and loyal yet strong-willed confusion shown by Desi (Julia Stiles) in the face of all this. Again, well done.

Odin: My life is over, that's it. But while all ya'll out here livin' yours, sitting around talking about the nigger who lost it back in high school, you make sure you tell them the truth. You tell them I loved that girl, I did but, I got played. He twisted my head up. He fucked it up. I ain't no different than none of ya'll. My mom's ain't no crack head, I wasn't no gang banger, it wasn't some hood rat drug dealer that trip me up. It was this white prep school motha fucka standing right there. You tell them where I'm from didn't make me do this.

The cast isn't the only thing that makes this movie, though. What really helps make it work is the utter faithfulness to the original play and how much thought went into updating it to a modern private high school. It would have been so easy for the writers and producers to screw up somewhere along the way and make it less than it was (10 things I hate about you) or lessen the impact of the story by having the cool modernness be ruined by having the characters speak in imabic pentameter (which worked in Romeo + Juliet, but hurt things in Hamlet), but thankfully neither of those happened, and the movie is that much better for it.

Hugo: All my life I always wanted to fly. I always wanted to live like a hawk. I know you're not supposed to be jealous of anything, but... to take flight, to soar above everything and everyone, now that's living. But a hawk is no good around normal birds. It can't fit in. Even though all the other birds probably wanna be hawks; they hate him for what they can't be. Proud. Powerful. Determined. Dark. Odin is a hawk. He soars above us. He can fly. One of these days, everyone's gonna pay attention to me. Because I'm gonna fly too.

Office Space
Office Space(1999)

Hilarious and awesome -- does what every white-collar shmoe dreams of doing. It's almost like a live-action Dilbert.

Law Abiding Citizen

Pretty good -- the guy in it is like a cross between Frank Castle (motive) and Jigsaw (methods).

House of Wax
House of Wax(2005)

Yeah, it was cool. Paris, who producers probably felt would be the main draw, was nothing special (big surprise), but the kills were alright and I had some fun.

Appleseed: Ex Machina

(Okay, apparently there's more than one in this series, so this review is written having only heard of and seen this one)

Good movie that for the uninitiated takes a little while to get into, but once it has you it doesn't let up until the end. It kind of made me think of "A Scanner Darkly" (the semi-animated Keanu Reeves movie) animation-wise and a cross between Judge Dredd, Terminator: Salvation, and Resident Evil 3 (video game) story-wise.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Funny and sweet movie with a good soundtrack. The best parts are any scenes involving Ari Graynor as Norah's drunkaholiic best friend.

The Informant!
½

Seventies style shooting and graphics for a story set in the nineties = works. Damon as a bumbling informant who thinks he's more important than he is = good. Occasional interruptions for looks at Whitacres thoughts that have nothing whatever to do with anything onscreen = hilarious. The movie = decent.

Observe and Report

It made me laugh, but some parts were kinda stupid and I was really hoping it would be both better and funnier, and Anna Faris's character made me want to punch her.

Teeth
Teeth(2007)

Grossly funny, but otherwise kinda dumb.

Choke
Choke(2008)

Good movie by the guy who wrote the Fight Club novel. Basically, I think the protagonist here is what Jack would have been if he'd been more asctive instead of passive. Well written and funny.

Zombieland
Zombieland(2009)
½

Fricking hilarious, especially the stuff with Bill Murray. See it, I command you.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas)
½

Hauntingly good (not in a horror movie way). By the end of the film, I couldn't help but feel a kind of pity for the whole family and the situation they found themselves in.

S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale
½

Not as bad as I thought it would be. To put it in relation to the first movie, it goes from the point of view of what would be Donnie's older younger sister's boyfriend. Worth a look, but if you're a real Donnie purist, you'll probably not like it. Try not to let that stop you, though.

Sunshine Cleaning

Funny chick flick with surprisingly good guest turns by Steve Zahn and Mary Lynn Rasjkub. I liked it.

Pandorum
Pandorum(2009)
½

Hell yeah. Event Horizon, only without demons, and not neccessarily with aliens either.

Surrogates
Surrogates(2009)
½

Pretty good, but it seems like it'd be more appropriate on the SciFi channel. Worth seeing.

Gamer
Gamer(2009)
½

Good concept, decent execution. Plays a mix of Tron, Doom (the video game, not the movie), and The Matrix. Only really bad part was Milo Ventimiglia's role.

Fanboys
Fanboys(2008)

Hilarious, but contains a much deeper meaning. Not Oscar-worthy, sure, but maybe some smaller award would be nice. Also, I loved the celebrity cameos. ("I'm William Shatner. I can get anything. ANYTHING!")

H2: Halloween II
½

Just the right mix of creepy, scary, and sad (not a lot of sad, don't worry). Scout and Malcolm really got chances to shine, and I liked how Rob brought Daeg back to continue playing young Michael Myers (I wondered what his reaction to news of mom's suicide would be in the first one). Plus, that ending gave me chills, dude. Seriously.

Halloween
Halloween(2007)
½

Much better than Zombie's other films. I love what he brought to Halloween and the way he introed/included the mask.

Jennifer's Body

All I can say is, "Hell, yeah." :)

Inglourious Basterds
½

Pretty good, but the subtitles confused me a little

9
9(2009)

Visually fantastic, but the script is kinda weak and predictible.

District 9
District 9(2009)
½

Flackin' shweet!!! I lov how the whole thing was filmed like a documentary, and I mean that in the Michael-Moore sense, not the Cloverfield sense. The kind of misdirection it gives you about a certain element is great, and....well, I can't really describe it, so just....see it.

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
½

Funny, but not trashy. Good to see if you've got the bucks, but you can wait until DVD and it'll still be good.

The Collector
½

Not really a bad movie and with a lot of gross moments that made me cringe, the only real flaw is that after you leave the theater, you remember it for only about a couple hours.

Funny People
Funny People(2009)
½

A funny movie, sure, but really it's almost more of a drama. Still pretty good, though.

Orphan
Orphan(2009)

Super creepy and with a twist ending I did NOT see coming, this baby shows that there is still some originality left in Hollywood.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
½

Simply put, the best potter film ever. I love how they give Ginny (Bonnie Wright) more to do, and my only complaint was the cutting out of some of the memories of Voldemort.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
½

Inside Man meets Speed, like another guy said. Several characters from the book are combined into a new character in two sperate cases and all of the hijackers are renamed (though in one case it's not so obvious), but it's still fun.

The Black Dahlia
½

Good film noir, but it might have been better if the roles of Eckhart and Harnett were reversed.

Public Enemies
½

Great music and superb design prevail as Bale successfully (and finally) drops the cowl and Depp goes for another Oscar nomination.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
½

Just as good as the first one, with more bots and more lines for them. The twins were hilarious, and Alice was fantastic. Can't wait to see it again.

Year One
Year One(2009)

Honestly, I was a little let down with this. It was funny though....just not as good as I was hoping.

Training Day
Training Day(2001)

Unbelievably fantastic. Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke make a great team, even when they're not a team. The way it starts and with the people cast in it you might not expect so much, but the way it all comes together is nothing short of magic.

Duplicity
Duplicity(2009)
½

Not as good as I was hoping. The Macguffin they were all after was pretty amusing, but by the time it was revealed I was so confused by everything that had happened before it almost didn't matter. Some nice scenery and clever writing do little to give this a better rating.

Drag Me to Hell

Really not as good as I was hoping. It went more for gross-out scares than real scares, and the marketing campaign kinda gave the ending away, especially in the final minutes when there would have been such an easy out and a great ending to throw everytbody off and have them screaming "WHAT THE HELL?!" but instead they go obvious. Le sigh...

I, Robot
I, Robot(2004)
½

Enjoyable but forgettable, although the robot rebellion at the end was cool.

Charlie's Angels

Funny, actiony, not boring, and with a lot of hotness and Cameron Diaz butt-shaking. Basically, a good way to kill an hour and a half....although I still wonder how Cameron's character got on Jeopardy from being a punk whatever. Also, Creepy Thin Guy was so cool.

Charlie's Angels - Full Throttle

No! No! Bad McG! Bad McG! Bad!

Not really the worst movie I've ever seen, but it's definitely in the bottom 25. Avoid if at all possible, and if you have to get a mcG Angels fix, just watch the first one again -- that one was at least decent.

Constantine
Constantine(2005)

Better than people and Alan Moore give it credit for. Sure, it really waters down what John is all about, but it's still got awesome effects, a good plot with few holes, no self-referential jokes, and an open-ended conclusion that gives the possibility for a sequel (although I honestly doubt that will happen).

Terminator Salvation
½

Anton Yelchin is Michael Biehn -- that's the first thing I have to say. Seriously, you can't watch him play Kyle Reese and not think of how much he resembles Biehn from 1984's "The Terminator". next, Bryce Dallas Howard did a great job as Kate Connor, although I thought that they were ignoring everything about T3 -- oh well, guess not. Moon Bloodgood was hot and awesome, but she was underused so i can't really comment too much on her except to say that she had great chemistry with Sam Worthington. For his part, Sam was a fantastic addirion and I really hope he appears in future installments for this new trilogy they have going. The appearance of Linda Hamilton's voice was well-used, and Helena Bonham Carter had a neat cameo as the face of Skynet (not a spoiler, calm down). As for the savior of the human race, Christian Bale, he....should only play Batman in Batman movies, not Terminator movies. That aside, he was pretty good.

Technical-wise, the movie looks pretty much how it was promised -- a rough draft of how the future war will look, which is to say that it serves as a decent bridge between now and how things look when Kyle and Uncle Bob (Arnie in T2) get sent back. There were plenty of action sequences....almost too many, in fact. Despite that, McG managed to be closer to the We-Are-Marshall (good) school of thought for him than the Charlie's-Angels-Full-Throttle (bad) school of thought. The new and varied skynet bots were all awesome, with my favorite being the hydrobots (think cyborg eel/pirahna hybrids). As for the terminators themselves, they seemed to be chunkier versions of the ones that have been seen previously, which I guess is the point, so I'll accept that.

Overall, I would say that T:S delivers on all promises, but could still be improved in a couple rusty areas. And if you disagree.....you will be terminated.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine

Needs more Dominic Monaghan, but it filled in all gaps nicely and Liev Schrieber was a great Sabertooth. Also, Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool = teh awezome.

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)

Awesome, awesome, AWESOME!!! So great, can't wait to see it again! AWESOME!!!!! I absolutely giggled when Karl Urban said, "Damn it, man..." and Simon Pegg did a great Scotty. Eric Bana was a superb villain, and Zachary Quinto is now "the new Spock" in addition to being "Sylar". In short -- awesome.

The Soloist
The Soloist(2009)
½

Sure-fire oscar winner with a beautiful story and an amazing performance by Downey Jr.

I Love You, Man
½

Beautiful balance between absolute hilarity and touching drama. Paul Rudd continues to be awesome at comedy, and Jason Segal is downright hilarious as Sydney, his partner in their little "bromance". The jokes, especially those revolving around Peter's (Rudd) lack of male social skills, were great, and the script (when it was serious) was too. I also loved the greatness of Ferrigno and the hotness/presence of Jamiie Pressly -- they both helped make this flick uber-enjoyable.

Also: FAVREAU!!! WOO!!! Two words -- Projectile. Vomit. Gross and hilarious, it was.

Gran Torino
Gran Torino(2009)
½

Not what I was expecting and better than I expected. Clint Eastwood proves further that he can do no wrong in this tale of a Detroit widower who slowly befriends his gang-besieged Samoan neighors. I was actually a little reluctant to see it since the previews made it look like a senior-citizen "Punisher", but that is so not what this is. I was still slow to like it, since Eastwood's character isn't exactly likeable, but by the halfway point and with the help of his persistant and attractive young girl neighbor, I was totally invested in the movie. Look for this come Oscar season (assuming that it wouldn't have to qualify for the ones that already aired this year).

Monsters vs. Aliens

Good stuff and funny, especially the blob played by Seth Rogen. Keifer Sutherland's general seems to be a combo of Jack Bauer and Larry the Cable Guy, which is fantastic, and Reese Witherspoon can do anything, so I don't even need to comment. They could have done a little more with the monsters (wolfman type deals and such), but the references to old horror movies were good. Still, it was really funny and worth seeing.

Race to Witch Mountain

Ah, yes.....a kid movie that appeals to adults that does not disappoint. Definitely the most actiony disney film I've ever seen, this thing was a rollercoaster from start to finish, and almost could have been typical science fiction tripe, but in the hands of this director was a lot more. I'm pleased that The Rock is doing so well in comedic roles that are edged with seriousness, and Carla Gugino did a nice job as a doctor who gets taken along for the ride. The real treat here was the kids, who carry the whole movie perfectly.Especially great is AnnaSophia Robb, who continues to turn out great performances from roles that could just be mediocre on page. As for the boy....well, he wasn't given much to do besides protect his sister and complain about humans, but he still made you feel for him and his concern for his "sister" was obvious. It's a perfect movie for any age

Knowing
Knowing(2009)

Another psuedo-religious psuedo-thriller, only this one stars the acting inability of Nicolas Cage. Might have been good with another actor, but probably not. Also, they made Rose Bryne plain and unattractive without even a hint of appeal, which is a crime against nature. The worst part was that the suppoised angels seem to have heavily embraced technology in recent years. Either that or they're aliens that were trying to be angels. Either way, boring. The only good spots came from the kid actors playing the children of Nic and Rose -- they got along great and it would have been interesting to see more of them.

The Last House on the Left
½

Some creative kill battles, although the very last one felt a little unrealistic. I was never really sure if the parents were supposed to be nearing a divorce (like i had heard) or not, and nothing that was said clarified that (though their first scene together supports this). Individually, Tony Goldwyn has a quiet kind of cool that's as tough as what he did in "Ghost", which really lends some believability when the shit goes down and is at its best in his final scene with the main bad guy, Krug. Monica Potter, on the other hand, seems to just barely be getting into her role, and she may have been miscast, since her relationship with the other two feels forced. As their daughter, Paxton does a good job, despite having nothing to do but be an adorable puppy for the first half and a wounded puppy for the second. I was especially impressed and discomforted (which takes a lot, trust me) with her performance in the rape scene, which doesn't cut away for one instant except to change camera focus (actually, from the moment her and her friend get captured, it stays with them for like thirty minutes -- kudos to all involved there). For the villains, I was really freaked out by the lead villain's brother, so bonus points there, and Cromartie's (Garret Dillahunt, natch) performance as Krug had a sweet kind of understated menace (except when he was raging.....no understatement there). The only definite annoyances come from Krugmartie's wife and kid, who are only there to complete the family and kick-start the plot and conflict. The direction is dedicated and the music is appropriate (if not memorable), and the cinematography is just awesome, really giving you that sense of isolation one needs for a movie set where this one is. In the end, I would say it's not a bad film, but there's still some room for improvement.

Except in the methods of murder and torture. I friggin' love that garbage disposal...

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Well, I did like the movie, and the animation was great, but some of the writing was mediocre and it felt more like a science fiction movie than a Final Fantasy movie.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Possibly the best animated movie I've ever seen. The only caveat I'll make to that is that unless you've played the game, some things just won't make sense or will be a little hard to understand. Still, great casting and....well, everything -- basically, it's what FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN said it would be. The best part is that the voice actors are the same as the ones cast in the video games (e.g., Kingdom Hearts).

Wing Commander

WORST. MOVIE. EVER. The only reason I went was because I was a HUGE fan of the games and thought it would serve as a good prequel to the series. How wrong I was...seriously, this was the kind of movie that Ed Wood would look at and go, "Lord, that's a piece of shit." It only gets half a star because I don't think it's possible to give a rating of zero stars. Terrible.

March 2009 edit -- After some thought and comparing it to the sequel to Mortal Kombat, I realized it's not the worst movie ever and did have some decent sets and effects. Still, the makeup on the Kilrathi, some of the acting, the design of the ships....not good times.

Double Dragon

So bad. Nothing to do with the game. The movie that made Alyssa Milano look ugly and got rid of my crush on her for four years ("Charmed" brought it back). The only thing I like is Robert Patrick, who's a great bad guy, even though hiss character is just not that good (script-wise, not personality-wise). I blame the existence of this (retrospectively, of course) on Super Mario and Street Fighter coming out the same year and making producers think there was a market for it. If only they'd known....