Drake Tsui's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Kubo and the Two Strings
½

Laika's latest Eastern-mythical action adventure may not be a masterpiece but it's more than close and definitely something to remember.

Full of iconic character designs, a unique animation style and a truly bold story with an excellent script, It's probably one of the studio's finest creations to date.

Even though the fairytale follows the "Hero's Journey" formula to a T it is definitely something to behold when themes of family, love, loss, loneliness and the importance of imperfection are all covered in perfect unison.

If there's anything to complain about it's the actual animation, with a lot of action choreography/sequences feeling lackluster that are probably hindered by the medium. Also the pacing of the film felt a little choppy at times and then rushed at others, which I suspect was all due to editing and constraints of the film's running time.

Kubo breathes new life through conventional means and that's what we really need done in a world saturated with remakes & sequels. Look out Dreamworks, Pixar and Disney! Keep slacking off with stuff like Finding Dory and you just might find yourself in Laika's dust.

Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters(2016)
½

With an all star cast of talented comedians the new GB has no trouble bringing the fun. This is both a blessing and a curse as the film has little breathing room between action sets and comedic antics for anything else.

If it's a relentless onslaught of colorful laughs and thrills you'd like then you're in the right place, but if it's convincing character drama/relationships, a sensibly directed horror or a well told multilayered story you might want to look elsewhere.

Still if you're looking to get your ticket's worth in fantastic visuals and popcorn entertainment this will definitely fit that quota.

The Boss
The Boss(2016)
½

It's almost as if the weight of the entire film rested on lead McCarthy and despite her array of zingers and antics that make for some edgy laughs it becomes an exhausting endeavor even for her shoulders. When stripped of this, the Boss lies naked as another comedy with a forgettable story.

There are parts of the premise that set up laughs that stand out (the Girl Scout brawl for one) but despite solid performances from even the supporting cast there are too many thrown-together storytelling elements that inhibit the film from breaking the mold of it's genre.

Money Monster

Money Monster has an all star cast but not the all star story that it deserves. It's not predictable but at the same time, isn't multilayered enough to really captivate it's viewers.

As a suspense thriller it's not very daring, as a character drama there weren't enough depth or complexities. At the end of the road there just wasn't much of a pay off in revelations or truth either.

If only the film had a more cohesive message in regards to investing in the stock market, or a character angle for Clooney or O'Connell. Money Monster would have an identity but it's neither here nor there.

Barbershop: The Next Cut
½

Watching The Next Cut is like browsing aimlessly through the threads in a forum dedicated to black politics in America while having PG/slapstick comedy injected into your skull.

It's not particularly insightful and chalk full of cliché familial and romantic subplots to try and create some semblance of a story.

The film is made with good intentions in mind and meant to promote a positive message but also represents every bit of mediocre filmmaking.

Finding Dory
Finding Dory(2016)

Finding Dory may be a fun, dazzling adventure but when you get down to it the film is just a never ending sequence of cheap thrills. It also has trouble creating its own identity to become more than a Nemo movie.

For the most part there's an apparent lack of real danger or conflict, it's just a whole lot of getting from point A to point B to point C (then back to point A again) and an infinite supply of convenient solutions along the way.

Don't get me started on the questionable mixed bag of messages. "It's my family so I have to find them!", or my favorite "don't think, just do whatever and everything will work out!"

The movie is enjoyable to say the least with a lot of the new supporting cast stealing the show and just enough drama to tug at your heart strings but it really doesn't have the complexities that make it the next step for PIXAR.

With all the makings of a light, hilarious, quest seeking adventure, it's almost like they sold the rights to DREAMWORKS and asked them to make a spinoff for them.

X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse is several steps backwards for the mutant franchise.

Everything that made the reboot interesting is thrown out the window as Singer takes us back to 2005-esque character portrayals and storytelling with a plethora of completely unnecessary fanservice that could only be appreciated by comic book loyalists.

I don't even know where to start with this one to be honest, the tacky villain? The massive cast of opaque characters? Eric's little vacation in fake drama? The hilariously cheesy melodramatic climax? The weak offbeat humour?

It's just everything we hated from the first X-Men trilogy brought back to life. Makes me wish for another reboot in the hands of Marvel.

Midnight Special

Midnight Special has all the makings of a great film but can just as easily be written off as pretentious dribble.

An amazing cast, sensible script and believable dialogue dresses up a seemingly biblical tale that illustrates the existence of a supernatural race and a child's destiny to join them.

Perhaps it's a story about parental love, or the second coming of Christ, or aliens, the list goes on. Whatever it is it's clearly beyond our scope of understanding.

And I suppose that's the point, we're not meant to "get it" but such mythical themes can only be so shrouded before it's seen as senseless.

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is a boring, mechanical, reimagining of a Disney Classic I never found too enticing to begin with.

Despite a commendable effort by Sethi the film just lacks the authentic charm and warmth that it chooses to emulate.

As a result the movie meanders from one over extravagant set piece to the next as we watch the awkward characters play out their roles with unbelievable motive around a child that is obviously being dictated to rather than having any semblance of free will.

By the final acts I was practically begging for the movie to end.

10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane is probably the most original "invasion" film in awhile best described as an unpredictable mosaic of cheap thrills played out by a very talented cast.

The story meanders through a series of subplots strung loosely by the premise of an apocalyptic attack which works largely in the films favour as all unfolds like a multilayered mystery.

However once the thrills have subsided and all has been revealed a very crudely crafted tale lays bare. If not for stellar leads and a careful attention to direction there's really not much to look at here.

Warcraft
Warcraft(2016)
½

Warcraft is simply a huge missed opportunity, it has an interesting story to tell but often gets muddled within its own narrative and falls victim to mechanical storytelling.

Dull leads like Schnetzer (Khadgar) make key roles wildly uninteresting, combined with a lack for compelling character relationships make all the dramatic events in the film fall short.

What little great moments there are to be had (Duotan's sacrifice, Lothar's initial recapture of the king's body, etc.) are betrayed by the film's own narrative coherency.

Warcraft certainly had more than enough content for intrigue, but when you don't spend equally in a developed emotional tale there just isn't enough investment for viewers to care.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
½

WTF may not have the most innovative story to tell; middle aged, bored American woman travels to an "exotic" land to find herself only to realize home was where she left... But still there's a lot to be said for execution.

Accompanied by edgy humour with the premise being early 2000 Afghanistan, the film does paint a colourful spin on things without being overtly insensitive.

There are believable human interactions between the cast and even through the thick coat of laughs there's often a touch of harrowing truth.

The climatic end may feel a little unreal and the melodramatic closure may be a little on the nose with a mixed bag of messages but there's an honest message of self discovery here.

I also really liked how WTF managed to stay largely unpolitical for featuring a fairly touchy subject, it keeps true to the story it was meant to tell.

Burnt
Burnt(2015)

Once you get past the pretence of extreme badassery that it tries to convey in the culinary field, Burnt really picks up as a tense drama with believable dynamic characters.

With an emphasis on edgy direction, well crafted dialogue and a talented cast the film brings together a story of redemption in the seemingly unforgiving "battlefield" of modern cuisine.

Unfortunately as the story speeds through it's edgy montages and thrilling character interactions it just as quickly hits the breaks to slow down to a melodramatic feel good ending. This unexpected shift in tone and storytelling comes off as a stylistic cop out... somewhat unsatisfactory.

Still if there's anything to brag about its the craft of making Burnt that really shines. An extremely well directed, acted and written piece of moviemaking.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
½

Bats vs. Supes is an exhausting endeavor that paints the grim dramatic roots of two iconic but polarizing superheroes. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way between the Shakespearean dramatization and overemphasis on visual cinematography it forgets how to be entertaining.

I don't mean you have to be like a Marvel film and throw in a zinger/one-liner every 5 minutes, but at least give us a compelling reason to invest in the characters on screen?

Not even Eisenberg's talented portrayal of Lex Luthor or an exceedingly articulate script can save this film from deteriorating into a CGI slugfest void of substance.

When the movie raises some interesting questions on ideology and the harrowing consequences of Superman's presence/interventions they're quickly tossed aside in favor of loud action sequences or "beautiful" Snyder-esque direction.

The titular battle becomes laughable. The reason for conflict is neither engaging nor does the fight really emphasize their motifs and can probably be best described as a squabble over a misunderstanding... which in part made room for the impromptu team-up against baddie Doomsday, a fight even less interesting!

At the end of the day, Bats vs Supes is a loud, dull incoherent affair that tries to do too much. An excuse for DC to start setting up their own line of cinematic crossover shenanigans to compete with rival company Marvel.

Zootopia
Zootopia(2016)

A brilliant film by Disney, Zootopia is a topically themed story with an inspiring message and well written plot carried by a riveting duo of protagonists.

That's not mentioning the elaborately creative set pieces exploring environments of different species, smart animorphics of our every day culture and a truly colorful supporting cast.

Direction is top notch as the story transitions between comedic acts and a multi-layered procedural seamlessly through Hops (Goodwin) & Wilde (Bateman). There is never a lack of point for intrigue between their unlikely relationship, the investigation and encompassing commentary on diversity/racism.

There's just so much going on in Zootopia that works, it boasts excelling features from top to bottom making it one of Disney's best productions in a long time.

Deadpool
Deadpool(2016)
½

For all intents and purposes DP is a successful film. It's an origin movie that features a nice little revenge story starring Marvel's most iconic comic relief doing what he does best; killing people and being an idiot.

I don't believe there's a better actor for the job than Reynolds to bring out Wade's particular brand of humor. Sure not all the jokes are exceedingly clever and some of the laughs are cheap even, but it doesn't really try to be more than what it intends to be and that's probably why it's such a good movie.

It's not an ambitious endeavor, knows exactly the sort of popcorn entertainment it has to be and above all else, is hella entertaining.

A fun movie that flawlessly delivers a classic Marvel character, just not something I'd wildly phrase. Then again Deadpool has always garnered too many cheap laughs for me to fully support.

Zoolander 2
Zoolander 2(2016)
½

A missed opportunity, Zoolander 2 squanders the use of its "new" cast, instead trying to ride on the coat tails of a largely forgotten movie.

It's not so much that the story is stupid as it is simply poorly paced with the final acts rushing into what feels like an impromptu reveal through an excess of exposition.

Too much screen time was wasted meandering in Derek and Hansel's self pity rather than setting up an elaborate plot that required a degree of foreshadow.

Cameos become watered down from overuse and much of the humor simply does not feel as fresh or clever as the original.

15 years wasted waiting for what only appears to be a massive disappointment

Kung Fu Panda 3
½

As a third film, KFP3 just doesn't live up to the stakes and complexities that were progressively built up from its previous installments.

If anything the movie was a huge step backwards for the franchise. The script is much less mature, pandering to younger audiences. The message simplistic and the threat of some ancient kung-fu master come-back-to-life turning martial artists into Jade statues just didn't have the grandeur of KFP2; Where all of fictitious China was under threat by a conqueror who didn't blink twice at Panda genocide with an army at his command plus a technological super weapon.

There are less martial art sequences with fights being too few and far in between. With the story's key "epic battles" being a bunch of children and seniors fending off masters in a comical fashion and the final showdown looking more like an overuse of special effects than well thought out choreography.

Po's existential struggles with discovering himself and "who he is" parallels to what was already done in 2, rendering that entire subplot redundant. To top it off, less creative set-pieces and also the Furious 5 were utterly useless, with even Master Shifuu turning into "fodder" for Kai.

However, it is probably one of the most visually stunning animated films I've seen in a long time. Just the sheer bold use of color and 2D stylization was quite a marvel to look at.

A visual spectacle for sure but just a massive narrative disappointment after what we were given in 1 & 2.

The Hateful Eight
½

The movie meanders so long in it's own self interest of so called "dialogue" that one grows tired very quickly of the would-be colorful characters during what seems like a never-ending setup period.

There's just a complete utter lack of tension for too much of the film unlike Tarantino's other works that quickly and relentlessly captivate you even when it's chalk full of dribbling dialogue.

Hateful8 does a disservice to itself by providing no context for a good 2/3 of the film. Maybe there's something to salvage here with some heavy editing because once the film picks up and you realize what's going on it really is quite entertaining.

I agree the payoff is huge but just... isn't worth it. If you're looking for a movie that takes what feels like forever to set itself up for a grand finale then maybe this film is for you. To me, the finale simply wasn't "grand" enough.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
½

I went into TFA with very little expectations, but was pleasantly surprised to see the story borrowing elements from the successful novels in the expanded universe and formula of the original trilogy.

The new characters feel fresh as they do appropriately fitting, the older generation of heroes fill the narrative gap seamlessly while interacting with them. The drama is riveting and the direction/cinematography is nothing short of beautiful. Plus all the glorious Sci fi CGI modern technology can muster!

With none of the shallow dialogue and unlikable characters that plagued the prequels or tackiness and oversimplicity that plagued the originals; TFA is setting up for a very remarkable set of films.

My only criticisms really are that the first movie appears to accomplish too much off the get go leaving little space for growth or conflict escalation. I mean, how can you top a super weapon 4x the size of the death star? Also how was an untrained Rey able to best Kylo Ren, a man trained in the jedi arts since birth? The force is arguably TOO strong with this one.

I also felt they were a little on the nose with the dialogue pertaining to Kylo Ren's identity as a Solo child, they could've made that reveal echoing Vader's identity as Luke's father. At least make it more subtle than having Leia and Han keep saying "Our son" repeatedly.

Then there's Finn, I'm not sure what they're trying to do with his character. He doesn't develop or act like a conditioned soldier who knows little of life outside that of being a trooper. He doesn't seem competent at his job or have any remarkable trait other than constant sweating and heavy mouth breathing? Perhaps he's meant to have dimension but now he's at risk of having no identity.

Only time will tell what's in store for the Star Wars future from here, for now we have a very impressive reboot rivaling if not out classing Star Trek, Jurassic Park and the like!

Sleeping with Other People
½

A great modern rom com that rejects cliches set by the genre while exploring the complexities of platonic love and what sex does, or doesn't mean in a romantic relationship.

With incredibly likable yet unorthodox leads that you probably wouldn't want anything to do with in real life, Sleeping with other people excels at weaving a riveting tale full of situations that aren't only down to earth, but just outright below it.

Yet in their depths Sudeikis and Brie manage to become fairly relatable as victims of circumstance and deliver a compelling narrative. To top it off, it does all this while still being pretty funny! Although most of these laughs are subversive through wit and offbeat dialogue which I prefer more than over-the-top antics anyway.

It's oddly sincere for a rom com and yet that's what makes it really work.

The Good Dinosaur

It's not the Pixar benchmark we've all been waiting for but it's still a good, moving animated feature.

I think the big downfall with TGD is the utter lack of visual iconography. The character designs are dull, the environment is realistic as hell which is also, dull. It just completely wastes the use of its medium.

At the end of the day it just seems like the Visual Development team was either on break or not even trying for this project and that's truly disappointing.

Of course on all other fronts Pixar delivers it's trademark narrative prowess. The emotion is there in a fairly classic coming-of-age, pseudo Western with a largely creative cast (T-Rex's are good guys? Whattttt?)

I just couldn't help but feel a complete disinterest in the world they were trying to build. Unlike Wall-E, The Incredibles or even the most recent Inside Out the visual direction was just not there. Hell, even Dreamwork's original Ice Age had more impact than this.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
½

Fast, fun and full of beautiful people to look at. The Man from UNCLE is an action thriller that is all style over substance. Which isn't a bad thing considering it's worked for many other films before it (Hanna, Red, Pacific Rim etc.)

As far as espionage films go the simplicity of the plot is almost insulting but at the same time it's dressed up with so many charming, humorous moments and extravagant set pieces the former is largely excusable.

Just a little taken back that prominent members of the UNCLE team aren't really "introduced" until 2/3 through the film and the whole American vs Russian chemistry between the male leads does get tiring... Still if you're looking for an entertaining action thriller it'd be daft to argue against the final product.

Hopefully we'll see more from this attempt at a franchise? Cavill is so much more vibrant as Solo than Superman.

Spectre
Spectre(2015)
½

Spectre may not be Craig's most appealing film in the franchise but it's his most successful "Bond" film despite the ridiculous nonsense that makes it so.

My initial criticisms with Craig when he took the helm of our favorite British spy was that it deviated too much from the stylistic establishments of what made "Bond". Everything from Casino Royale to Skyfall made the films more "Bourne" and "Mission Impossible" than anything. The franchise was slowly losing its voice in a world of growing espionage action films.

This is why Spectre shines. It's slick, smooth and sexy again while characters meander around a bloated plot. The film evolves into a suspense thriller, romance first and action film second. The pacing is less go-go-go and slows down for beautiful cinematography as characters take their time to breathe their complexities on screen.

An emphasis on grandeur and classic tropes calls back to earlier Bond works... Not only does it come full circle for previous films but the the key antagonist is his long lost brother and he ties him to a metal torture chair while his villainous white cat sits on his lap!

The extravagance is bewilderingly yet appropriate as it's something you WOULDN'T see done in a Bourne or Mission Impossible film.

While one may not agree with the mediocre action sequences, slow pacing and ridiculous story... Spectre makes a magnificent "Bond" film and should be watched for that reason alone by fans and casual goers alike.

Pixels
Pixels(2015)
½

Pixels is an alien invasion thriller with childlike sensibilities, which makes little sense since the only people who can appreciate 80's arcade games are all adults now. Also, it's just not funny.

The inherit problem is that it doesn't seem to please any demographic. 90% of the humor doesn't appeal to a mature audience, (or anyone with a decent sense of humor) also the story and characterization of cast members much too basic to receive any sort of commendable phrase.

Yet if it were a children's film a lot of the rudimentary themes and formulas used would be acceptable, but we're constantly reminded that this is in fact adult entertainment.

Pixels isn't devoid of creativity and paints an original premise but fails in recognizing the audience that it's meant to capture culturally. Terms and ideas used in the movie are simply dated. Nerd as a derogatory term? Being good at video games is a waste of time? It's 2015, nerds are the new cool and we have e-sports with Pro gamers earning millions in winnings.

It's pretty obvious that the idiots behind this project were just attempting to cash in on the geeky pop culture surge of recent but have no idea what the surge is actually about.

If you're looking for sparkly visuals on the movie screen, sure it might be worth a bit of your time but all in all Pixels is an out of touch would-be children's film mired with irrelevant adult themes and lazy acting by Sandler, squandering the efforts of his talented co-stars.

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'

As a fan of the franchise since childhood, I am once again reminded why DBZ was rightfully cancelled and why Toriyama didn't really want to put out more.

I mean Battle of the Gods was already pretty mediocre but this? This is just garbage.

The storytelling is atrocious, it's like fanfiction by a 12 year old. Even the fighting animation is sub par by today's standards. It just makes little sense to revive something that's so clearly dated and out of touch with even itself.

Gohan is a full blown useless support character, all the past transformations, fusions and story archs are rendered mute because Frieza "never trained a day in his life"

Just because it's a DBZ movie shouldn't excuse it from shoddy irresponsible film making, there have actually been good ones in the past. Now it's like anything they spit out DBZ related is a national treasure thanks to blinding nostalgia goggles.

I'm almost appalled by the franchise's underwhelming revival.

Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland(2015)

Original, funny, entertaining, visually stunning, well acted and above all else, an ambitious film with exceeding creative storytelling that leads to a... well, complicated end.

I see a lot of criticisms for this film that are neither here nor there. Or to be more accurate, critics don't like the film and aren't sure why themselves so they pick and prod at little imperfections.

Truth is, they don't like this film because it made the inexcusable mistake of insulting its viewer. We're told we're the problem, just a bunch of cynical assholes who don't care and that's why the world is ending. The final nail in the coffin is the simplistic solution proposed, just have a positive outlook!

Whether we agree with this idea or not shouldn't decide the quality of the film, but I can see all the butthurt feelings manifesting in the reviews and that's just unfortunate.

A key motif to Tomorrowland is optimism, to dream and look to the future; the movie plays to that theme heavily and flawlessly. Even the character conflicts plays on these ideas as the disillusioned old man comes to terms with his muse being a robot. A young girl who wants nothing but a bright future as the hope to mankind. It all sounds like naive rubbish, but it's sincere.

I think the film is too complex for kids, but too pure and basic for adults to accept whole heartedly, so it ends up sitting in this bizarre middle ground. Personally, I love this film. It takes a basic message and successfully dresses it up with unorthodox leads, creative narrating and gorgeous production values that weave an inspiring tale.

Fantastic Four
½

I went into this expecting complete trash due to initial RT ratings. Frankly speaking, it's got a lot of great ideas but has literally the worst editing/pacing I have seen in a long time in a Hollywood budget action film.

I think Marvel's set a precedent of unnecessarily, colorful, nonstop laugh worthy entertainment to the "super hero" genre that now everyone expects and inadvertently wants. Why? Why does everything have to be sandwiched between glib humor and punchlines? Are we really so incapable of being entertained without a laugh?

Why can't we appreciate a grounded, dark, charmless hard fiction about a bunch of kids who had their lives fucked up?

Ironically what I love about this iteration of Fantastic Four is that the tone of the film is just downright misery. That having cool super powers isn't "fantastic" at all but actually a dreary affair.

That all being said, great ideas don't flourish without the proper execution and F4 just doesn't make a good film. The pacing is all wrong, it's 80% setup, 20% conflict with an abrupt ending. The resolution itself has no build up, none of the characters had time to resonate or interact, cheapening the whole "we're better together" motif. Reed's brilliant master plan to beat Doom was "Make Ben Invisible so he can punch him"? Really? The ending poses a problem too, 4 kids strong arming the US government to give them whatever they want? What? The Franklin kids don't mourn their fathers death, but in fact joke about it when naming the building? What?

F4 felt like a long pilot for a possibly great TV show, one that I would love to watch. Unfortunately it's just not a great film and at the rate people are bashing this movie we're not likely to get any more "episodes".

The Martian
The Martian(2015)
½

Equal parts fun, smart and thrilling. The Martian is a survival story that doesn't ramp up melodrama but instead chooses to humanize Watney's struggle with entertaining laughs.

A love letter from Ridley to fans of the book, it's simply flawless in pacing, dialogue and characterization. The only element missing is visual style, there's nothing iconic to look at that'll let us recall the film in years to come

Still it's beautifully directed and perfectly acted, an exciting ride through and through.

Most definitely a piece of hard fiction that'll leave a mark for 2015 rivaling the success of genre-similar "Interstellar" of 2014 yet completely different in approach of tone.

Inside Out
Inside Out(2015)
½

Pixar is known to be a master at playing the heart strings with their animated ventures, I think it's exceedingly clever of them to tackle the very core of their films; emotion.

Inside Out is boldly creative to say the least, the whole lore/world built up by the story is interesting enough on its own. The adventure on top is just icing on the cake.

I'm just somewhat underwhelmed by the lack of exploration with the other three core "emotion" members (anger, fear and disgust) Like Sadness I think they're a lot more interesting as perceptively "negative" emotions. Instead Joy gets an unprecedented amount of focus that I just don't care for.

Inside Out is a great "journey" adventure, but a missed opportunity to simplify and explore the complexities of its own cast.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

It's official, Ghost Protocol has rebooted MI into a smashing action/espionage success with this follow up.

RN is everything you need in an action film. Great set pieces, smart plot, clever humor, somewhat relateable/humane characters, a robust competent cast, good direction...

I almost feel like it's too similar in quality to GP though. The pacing, action, dialogue, even the way each character moves almost seems surgical now. Don't get me wrong it's a great film and like I said, everything you'd ever NEED but I think we've hit a level of stagnation here.

There's no more wow factor, there's nothing iconic that you would recall for years on down the road. Rogue Nation will be remembered by most as a blur of exceptional action film making...

I believe the next MI film will need more personal, resonating character moments from the IMF crew if it's going to succeed.

Terminator Genisys

Critics simply don't want to give Genisys a chance and here's why, they're tired of Terminator. 3 & 4 were terrible and when you try something that many times without succeeding no one wants to see you try again, even if you finally pull it off.

I have never been a Terminator fan myself but as a SciFi buff who grew up in the 90's I knew of the franchise fairly well. This film in a lot of ways, was the sequel I always wanted but never knew to ask for.

Genisys takes everything that was good about 1&2 and creates a narrative that not only adds on to the original story but does so without butchering the source material.

The leads are likeable and there's a degree of charm and wit in the script that previous installments of the film never had. The action set pieces are great without drowning the story, it builds characters and relationships. Overall, it's an entertaining watch with a very solid foundation.

Obviously Terminator 5 was a bad idea, but when you take a bad idea and make something good out of it... I respect that. I'm sure if Kyle Reese was played by Chris Pratt critics would have very likely seen this as another reboot success or if they had a monopoly on Dinosaurs and weren't just another Sci Fi (Cough Jurassic World Cough)

Or if the film made Kyle a complete support character, rather than sharing the spotlight with Sarah. God knows action films are constantly begging for a strong female lead, why not give it to them?

Kingsman: The Secret Service
½

Kingsman is the smart 80's Bond parody, barebones, style-over-substance approach to action filmmaking you always wanted but never would have asked for.

The script is fun and exceedingly clever, visually speaking it's tremendously well directed. With a cast like Firth, Caine and Jackson actually taking their ridiculous roles seriously their's an interesting degree of professionalism in the air juxtaposing the nonsense on screen.

However, Egerton lacks the charisma and screen presence of Firth and once the film shifts focus onto him he simply doesn't carry the legacy or weight of the story.

It's popcorn entertainment at its best, and truly is a movie to simply be enjoyed.

Paddington
Paddington(2015)

In a lot of ways, Paddington is the epitome of the PG family-feel-good genre. Despite a very basic plot and several familiar archetypes following tried and true formulas its never a dull affair.

Through masterful direction, an exceedingly clever script, imaginative set pieces and a colorful cast it quickly unravels as an undeniably entertaining experience.

But it's more than that, it's friendly and wholesome without being overly sentimental. It's childish, without treating it's viewers like children. Paddington simply wins you over with smiles, laughs, warmth and ultimately, a whole lot of wit.

Jurassic World
½

JW takes all the awe, wonder and exact formula that made the original JP movie so successful and brings it back with new (and old) thrills.

The whole gang of archetypes are back. The visionary (Masrani & Dearing) the rugged, down-to-earth cautionary tale (Grady), the evil military guy (Hoskins)... hell they even brought back a blundering tech dude! (Cruthers)

All these characters embodying themes of man vs nature again, the woes of technology and the sheer hubris of humanity.. everything is dangerously familiar but thrown through a modernized blender.

And isn't that really the only way to make a franchise like Jurassic Park work again? Some may say let sleeping dogs lie, but I'd rather live in a world with enjoyable Jurassic franchise films than let the disgusting aftertaste of JPIII sit in my mouth.

That all being said, JW is not without it's own merits. It does introduce its own concepts that were never really touched upon in previous films like the relationship between man and animal (Hell, the Raptors might even be the most likable characters for some). It also builds on the fundamentals of the original like corporate politics and sponsorship, public opinion/demand and of course, genetic engineering.

Sometimes the film is too obsessed in homage to itself for nostalgia points, like the DNA mascot (yea, I didn't miss that little guy), the ol' Jeep and ultimately bringing back the T-Rex as the original badaass but it still takes enough steps forward to give past audiences something to appreciate.

Jurassic World might have been an unsolicited sequel or remake of a classic but it's a refreshing modernized look for younger generations and an enticing revamp that builds upon the foundations of the original.

Also how can you really say no to a charming lead like Pratt and the undeniably attractive Dallas-Howard? Just sit back and have a easy good time with dinosaurs!

Ex Machina
Ex Machina(2015)
½

Garland takes what some would call a redundant sci fi premise (AI gone bad!) and makes a very harrowing, engaging commentary on what it means to be human through a Frakenstein-esque thriller.

Between the visual direction, phenomenal acting, astute dialogue and overall design there's a level of undeniable finesse to Ex Machina that lends a huge hand in getting poignant ideas across. The toxicity of loneliness in Ava, (or arguably, the whole cast.) creating and understanding life deteriorating Nathan's empathy for it, innocence is not a virtue in Caleb... and so forth.

The beauty is that it manages to have so much to say through the delivery of an intelligent mystery. The suspense rarely leaves your mind between the character studies and interactions of an isolated enigmatic genius, the tragically optimistic average joe and the curiously deceptive android. A perfect balance of commentary and plot.

Ex Machina is an incredibly rewarding film to viewers who can appreciate the science, complex characters and the revealing darker aspects of humanity. To those who can't it's an equally intelligent multi-layered thriller.

One question though, why didn't Nathan simply install an emergency remote off switch on Ava? Seems like the first thing one would do...

Mad Max: Fury Road
½

Considering the wave of terrible 90's Scifi sequels/remakes we've had fired our way in the past few years (Terminator, Robocop, Total Recall etc.) Fury Road's success has been more than a pleasant surprise.

It takes a lot of very 80's dystopian post-apocalyptic sensibilities and puts it in modern context. The relevant storytelling, characterization and heavy play on social themes make it a compelling tale but it's the barebones, relentlessly unforgiving visuals that make it a thrilling ride through and through.

There's more to the world of Mad Max than sand dunes and angry people with automobiles though, with very little screen time Miller manages to convey a very elaborate society full of warrior tribes, caste systems and cultural/religious customs that are intriguing if not visually iconic.

Let's also not forget the cast of characters representing a variety of minorities without feeling like forced tokens. A phenomenal performance by Charlize Theron breathes badassery into Furiosa and the manic Nux played by Hoult! It seems the best way to bring back the "strong silent type" hero is to in fact keep him silent. (who would've guessed?) Hardy skims by as Max with stern looks, grunts and single syllable words and for that we love him.

At the end of the day Fury Road is both a nonsensical, visceral action packed adventure about a bunch of rebels fighting the system but also an intelligent character study with a dab of social commentary. Some of these folks are larger than life (Max) others victims/villains turned heroes (Furiosa, Breeders, Nux) which ever you appreciate more you're both cheering and enamored by the spectacle.

Avengers: Age of Ultron
½

I think the best way to describe Age of Ultron is a lot of "great" moments that come together to simply make a "good" movie.

There's a lot to love, blatant fanservice aside (Hulkbuster armor, Warmachine/Falcon cameo etc.) there are probably several resonating scenes within the film that you'll absolutely adore. However, when all these little things come together you're almost left with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

Marvel is evolving filmmaking and Age of Ultron isn't really a movie in the traditional sense, it's an episode. It spends roughly 35% of screentime setting up a healthy future for the Marvel franchise from the Infinity Gauntlet, to Civil War and the Avengers initiative to Thor's Ragnarok etc. there's a plethora of nuance that hints at world building material that hinders the quality of a standalone film.

And that I'm actually pretty cool with! It's just that people expecting a movie in what we've come to understand them as may be taken back by this particular approach of filmmaking. For example we aren't given ample time to breath anymore, ever, with the incredibly large cast we're quickly dictated to feel a certain way about a character almost immediately. Relationships rapidly develop and fall, (Natasha x Bruce) identifying backgrounds come out of nowhere (Clint the family man), likeability must be established so we feel something upon their passing (Quicksilver), and it's not that any of it doesn't make sense but directors are going to have to start being careful at the hasty rate they present us all these "mini-stories" or else we'll choke before we can swallow any of them.

Due to this relentless velocity, a lot of the movie does in fact come off contrive. Like cleverly using Wanda's powers to give character development through flashbacks or abruptly revealing Clint the everyday man because a team of "gods" needs someone down-to-earth to keep them relatable or creating a "much needed" romance out of a plot device required to control the Hulk. These are a few examples but you get the idea, when convenience is seen as a writing tool it's quickly interpreted as a sham.

The plot isn't as intelligent as I had hoped, themes of global instability due to the Avengers dominance as a potential military force that were touched upon in "Winter Soldier" wasn't revisited nor were politics like backlash from other countries due to collateral damage from the Hulkbuster vs Hulk fight. Where has the relevant social commentary that made the original "Iron Man" such a hit gone to?

Another issue I personally had with the film was Ultron's portrayal, his familiarity and constant use of humor, an incredibly human trait, was really off-putting! He's not the enigmatic, cold, omnipotent robotic being he was meant to be. There were a lot of stellar moments for the character though, like the scene where he accidentally rips the man's arm off like a child feeling anger for the first time, forgetting the fragility of the human body. It was perfect! Or his final conversation with Vision before his death, also a really well written point that I truly enjoyed.

I also enjoyed Natasha's past with the Red Room and her coming together with Bruce as a couple, Ironman and Warmachine blasting shit out of the sky, Hawkeye helping Wanda overcome her fears, Steve telling Tony how he had come to terms with his past and found his new home...

There really is a never ending list of wonderful moments in Age of Ultron but that's what the movie is. A lot of commendable individual scenes but when they come together to be enjoyed as a coherent story it simply stands as "good" entertainment. Again though, that's not so bad if you accept the fact that Marvel is evolving what defines a movie. They're now episodes of something much larger, a constant growing world that should be viewed subsequently of each other.

It may not have the novelty or grandeur of the original film, but what Age of Ultron tells us is that Avengers movies will always be above-par entertainment. Never forgetting the importance of blending action with emotion and character. They also tell us "Hey you didn't love this movie? Fine we have a lot more in store for you in the future that you'll probably like anyway"

Which y'know, is fucking smart money-making. $__$

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

The film isn't by any means "bad", but there just doesn't feel like there was nearly enough content to really fill a 2 hour film. It's almost like the final 2 parts were shot and they were like "Don't bother editing it, we need all the footage we can get!"

That being said, the film's pacing is always slow. Everything has too much time to breathe and there's a constant atmosphere of heavy drama even through the most basic of scenes.

It works as a 1 hour standalone film, but a 2 hour teaser for the finale? Not so much. I enjoyed the story and her navigation through propaganda/politics but ugh, there's just so much they could've done to keep the viewer from falling asleep. Throw in some scenes with Peeta's POV or elaborate on the scene where she shoots down a bomber with a bow an arrow, just something!

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The film is essentially a 2 hour and 30 min action sequence with the best production values money can buy. Forget having a narrative, lets just throw as many action sequences together and loosely string them together with a premise that we'll call a plot.

The pacing isn't even good either, Smaug's death was underwhelming and completely overshadowed by later events. Rather than "The Battle of Five Armies" why not call it "A Dragon dies and Legolas beats everyone up."?

The Hobbit trilogy started out as a decent set of films but has whole heartedly embraced the fact that it's nothing more than fanservice for the LOTR franchise. Some may love it for that fact but as a film critic I simply can't be so forgiving.

Into the Woods
½

Really makes you wonder why someone would make the conscience decision to adapt a good play into a mediocre film. The genres are separate for a reason and Into the Woods simply illuminates these differences in an unflattering light.

The pacing is unbalanced leading to an awkward story flow and climatic revelations play out in a rather static fashion due to the way staging works in theater.

The film works best when the characters come to grips with themselves and their identity, but these scenes are boring to watch since they tend to be exposition conversations between characters.

The musical numbers are entertaining enough, the actors are brilliant and put a lot of energy into the work but alas, watching a play to be adapted into an incompatible medium is just sheer... AAAAGGGGOOOOOONNNNNYYYYY

Lucy
Lucy(2014)

What... what did I just watch? There's so much nonsense in this ridiculous movie that I don't even know where to begin.

It's hard to describe... like a meandering clusterfuck of pseudo science on a quest for unsolicited philosophical epiphany. There's a plethora of violence and action scenes for the sake of... their being action scenes? I just... I just don't get why someone would make a film that has no evidence of coherency whatsoever.

At the same time though, I like the idea of a character study in immortality. Lucy is very "Superman" in that sense, or a more accurate comparison, Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan. Also reminds me of Akira? I don't know just a lot of Sci Fi shenanigans.

Is it so bad it's good? No. It's just bad. So fucking bad. I mean the Korean with the Bazooka just nails it right into the prehistoric super computer.

Did that not make sense? Good, neither does this movie.

Big Hero 6
Big Hero 6(2014)

I will not deny that BH6 is a successful movie, good even! However, its success has no flavor and If anything is a little too methodical for my palette, everything from the character archetypes to the story just seems like it was concocted in a lab of professional formulaic storytelling for a very specific general/family audience.

The visuals are right on the spot, even for a Disney production there are a lot of improvements here over their recent works though. From environments, to cinematography and character design it does look more refined.

The story is thrilling, touching, imaginative and has all the elements you need to engage your average Joe. It's not the most ambitious endeavor as far as theme exploration goes but it's not very reserved either for a Disney production (characters actually dying and it being recognized? The protagonist briefly seeks murder as vengeance? Uncharacteristically dark and I like it.)

So all in all there's really nothing much to complain about, just nothing to give it praise for either which kind of lands the film in the twilight zone of forgettability. (Not a word, I know) Baymax and Hiro aren't iconic enough to go down as Disney legends with the princess' or Peter Pan. The same goes for the colorful but carefully crafted support characters like Wasabi, Gogo, Honeylemon and Fred. All representing a body/archetype that goes along with pleasing today's modern social guidelines.

It's an exhausting practice that seems to go out of it's way to please as many of today's people as possible, while incapable of having a stylistic hallmark. However it is a step forward from a creatively stagnant studio.

Rush
Rush(2013)
½

Absolutely riveting, Rush pits two drivers with polar personalities against one another but manages to have the audience cheer for both sides equally as their nail biting rivalry grows throughout the film.

Rush isn't just an adrenaline fueled competition between two larger than life racers though, It's more so a poignant character study as they're both sorely flawed yet romantically idolized. Hemsworth and Bruhl are simply magnificent in their roles, truly convincing us that these people lived and breathed.

If you love a great character study and a plot that manages to intertwine it with action packed tension then this film is most definitely for you. It's smart, exciting and a real treat to look at.

Chef
Chef(2014)

A modern telling of a familiar feel-good formula. The film focuses on the familial relationship of Casper and his son while preaching the importance of finding passion in one's life.

It's not ground breaking on any level and the script isn't exactly what I'd call sharp or witty. To be honest all the star power used here for such a.... boring concept just looks like a huge missed opportunity to me.

I love all the actors, but the premise, plot, story in all it's entirety has no substance. It's like hiring a famous actor for a role in a kindergarten play, it makes no sense to me.

Chef is a feel good family film that wouldn't have even caught the blip of anyone's radar if not for the star spangled cast and a script that constantly reminds us how "modern" it is by being inclusive with social networking through and through.

#lookatme #Iknowhowtousetiwttervineandfacebooktoo

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I went in with low expectations and was still stunned by how bad the film was. It's not particularly entertaining on any level and all the characters have no soul.

Fox doesn't exactly make a good April, all the turtles were goofy one-liners, none of the cast had any legitimate weight for the audience to relate or attach themselves to.

The story? I don't even get it. I don't get why they would let such a TERRIBLE plot pass through the final draft.

All in all, a very missed opportunity. Even the 90's live action films were better than this rubbish. The only thing this movie was able to emulate successfully was the comedic banter between the brothers.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
½

It's very Shakespearean and I think that's what truly drove this film to success on many fronts. "Dawn" takes an unquestionably classical story of kings, betrayal, sacrifice, family, etc. and throws it through a modernized blender of dystopian Sci Fi.

The plot although somewhat obvious is intelligently written. Just the sheer amount of underlying themes of racism, the nature of war, mass politics alone can keep you interested for quite awhile but the characters are also relatable and lack of a better word incredibly "human". There's always a core of emotional resonance with every scene so even though we're bombarded with a lot of action at times, we're heavily invested as viewers.

Also I was absolutely astounded by the range of expressions you can get from the Apes, the motion capture and actors flawlessly make Caesar, Blue Eyes, Koba etc. all as readable individuals and it's just something marvellously fascinating to watch.

'Rise" made me crave for more and I'm just so happy that this sequel managed to deliver and more some. Truly a great among the foray of CGI-action-fest films that Hollywood's been churning out in recent years.

RoboCop
RoboCop(2014)

It's not a train wreck, that's for sure. But for every great scene of emotional, moral tension brought by Oldman and Kinnaman it takes several steps back with Jackson, Keaton and Haley's completely unbelievable, overly comical characters.

I did enjoy the satirical political themes explored with the plot, but just the way everything was handled came off painfully juvenile. People may say this remake was more believable, but that just tells me how completely unreal the original must've been.

The action sequences are also pretty subpar for this day and age. Between all the Marvel films, Bay's Transformers and all that business there's just much more to be desired for a Sci Fi franchise.

Bad Words
Bad Words(2014)
½

Funny, edgy, well written and it's refreshing to see Bateman in something good since I was disappointed with a couple of his earlier films (Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief)

To enjoy this film you really have to be able to take things amorally. Otherwise the premise, and even a lot of the humor will just come off as "mean". But really Guy is as "anti" as antiheroes can get.

Unfortunately the film never seems to really take things off the deep end and stumbles into an unexpected area of family-feel good plot points as all the motive and mystery behind Guy's quest are revealed.

Still it never tries too hard to be funny, clever or even insightful and that's really where the beauty lies in the movie. It's just a story friendship, vengeance and closure for a plain, honest, angry guy and a loner kid.

300: Rise of an Empire

If the original 300 were a video game, I would say this was a shitty expansion pack that added a whole galore of unsolicited content for the sake of miking the franchise than a sequel (or prequel, whatever.)

Every time the film made an effort to take a step forward for itself it would take two steps back by making a flash back or reference to the original. This over reliance on the former gave very little room for RoaE to have any voice of its own.

In the end all the visuals and over-the-top CGI shenanigans are but a hollow shell, trying to replicate "legendary" thrills without the substance or context to back it up.

Unfortunate really, Eva Green had a phenomenal performance. If only the script wasn't bound down by an established continuity.

Veronica Mars

Probably shouldn't walk into this one if you're not a fan of the series, I don't know, it just doesn't feel like much of a movie with a relatively tame approach to direction akin to the TV show.

The selling point is really closure for the franchise, while delivering a moderately entertaining crime procedural, fluffy romance and a whee bit of thrill.

It plays it too safe, I was actually hoping to see a time-skipped matured Veronica would give the creators a chance to take the character further but everything about the movie is for better or for worse, just another episode of "Veronica Mars"

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
½

Basically, Hollywood caters to 12 year old boys now. T2 is bigger and dumber in every sense of those words.

The story is silly and overly comical. The characters and relationships are less believable, the villains, battles and explosions are all bigger, clumsier and just an untamed mess of explosive adrenaline.

Everything about this movie is like the first, but proportionally bigger for all the wrong reasons. The drama is contrive, the action is over the top... it's just annoyingly juvenile.

Transformers
Transformers(2007)
½

I'd give this 1 star if I wasn't a sucker for well choreographed action, enticing visuals and seemingly real robots shooting and slicing each other up.

Shia Lebouf was already awful, giving him a script with verbal diarrhea didn't help. Megan Fox's character never felt convincing and I was pretty sure I'd shoot myself if I had to put up with any more pop-comedy and it's pathetic reach for the "young and hip generation"

The story was embarrassingly senseless, with sprawling progressions that seemed about as coherent as a child's imagination. The climatic end is nothing more but a hollow cliche.

All in all, it's a shallow endeavor that's only worth watching for the visuals. Some might argue that's enough but I don't know.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
½

This movie never had a chance with critics. The franchise had an awful start there's no doubt about it and will forever be a CGI action orgy, but DotM actually makes an effort with a coherent sensible story and character intrigue.

Transformers 3 isn't as dumb as its predecessors and definitely boasters enough of a spectacle to be worth every bang of your buck. The story's not as simple and shallow as skeptics claim, with enough twists and turns in the first 1/3 to keep the viewers interested. (but then predictably stumbles into an action-orgy as things draw to an end)

It's nowhere near being a masterpiece, there are some glaring issues with the dialogue/script that needed tightening and quite a few plot holes that weren't addressed. (Why not nuke the city? Where was the entire US army?) but I can forgive a lot of this because many also ignored the issues with Cameron's cliche filled world of "Avatar"

The biggest highlight of this movie is the sheer entertainment value. The visuals are absolutely astounding to the point where I was having a hard time processing the volume of amusement that was being handed to me.

For an alien invasion, action flick, that started with a little boy/frat boy demographic; Transformers 3 exceeds expectations. It's a great watch if you give it a chance rather than letting the first 2 films sour expectations.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Anderson's stylistic approach makes light of and fantasizes often dreary, sophisticated themes creating adult fairytales. The Grand Budapest Hotel is no exception and compartmentalizes a thrilling wondrous adventure into a world and time that's seemingly impossible of such things.

What sticks out in this film is not only how his focus on quirky storytelling juxtaposes many of the darker occurrences of Gustave's tale, but also how it was acknowledged from Zero's recollection as a fantasy. That the beauty, charm, and humor that we were all enjoying was simply in a man... too "civil" for this world.

It's an interesting character study of illusion and one's ability to create a veil of existence that's even contagious to those around him. The idealized romance between Zero and Agatha, successful escape from prison, reclamation of his innocence and rise to fortune was all just so slightly mired with murder, sacrifice, and untimely deaths all around. It's like a careful dance between a dream and actuality.

I recall 2012's "Life of Pi", where I feel that movie failed this succeeded by utilizing a comedic undertone to capture the viewer's imagination before deconstructing it's beauty with harsh realities. There's an endless supply of offbeat laughs and thrills before we're brought to a cathartic conclusion.

After Moonrise Kingdom disappointed me a bit I'm relieved to say The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of Anderson's best and fans of his work will most definitely enjoy it. Those who aren't? Just the same.

Neighbors
Neighbors(2014)

A laugh-heavy title, Neighbors is one, long, frat joke and if you're into that sort of thing then the humor really gets you. It's not particularly clever, no, but the delivery of the jokes really do go a long way and there are some imaginative gags (air bags!) that are definitely commendable.

Still humor can only take you so far. With a simple plot and a contrive, too-little-too-late approach to coming of age themes in character growth everything turns out to be a relatively shallow affair.

Neighbors is a forgettable but fun time to be had, mostly saved by a great cast that knows how to deliver a good punch line.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
½

Easily the best X-men movie to date, granted that's not much of a feat considering the franchises unfortunate run of bad instalments but still. It's quite the impressive movie.

Basically it has everything fans have been waiting for, iconic time-traveling premise, iconic characters, all playing out a very fast paced, respectable, sensible story that's not overdone with tacky CGI. Many of the plot points are soaked in political and social issues, stakes are higher than ever with the end of the world drawing near but this never really builds to anything too preachy or larger than life as we're continually delivered raw character emotions that makes all these conflicts intimate in nature.

Despite coming off as a well written and almost dreary drama it manages to take all those wonderful "Superhero movie" elements that we've come to love and throw it into the mix almost seamlessly. All the immense property damage action, humor, flashy special effects are still there! (Thank your Quicksilver for keeping it light) Just toned down to a level that's reasonable and works coherently with a tension based drama rather than needlessly smashing through our 3D lenses (TAS2, please learn something.)

Xmen: DOFP is a great step in the right direction for the franchise. Here's to hoping for their continued success!

22 Jump Street

Quality, hilarious bromance and a whole lot of clever jokes go a long, long way for this otherwise seemingly uninspired buddy cop franchise.

A core comedy about friendship that masquerades under the largely irrelevant procedural genre. The whole project is very self-referential and deprecating with an air of energy that's simply irresistible.

The laughs will keep coming and the plot, although not groundbreaking, does the job. Tune in to 22 Jump Street for a clever, good time ;]

A Million Ways to Die in the West

It's not very funny, if at all.

No, you don't understand how big of a problem that is for a purely comedic title. Let's forget for a second that it has the most boring, formulaic, romantic, reluctant hero story ever and just focus on how utterly tasteless and witless 70% of the jokes in this film are. All the juvenile gross out humor is just so dated and stupefying.

You'll also have a lot of trouble connecting with Macfarlane's every-day-man persona, Albert because even though he exists as a voice of reason and sensibility you can always tell he has an air of superiority above those that he's surrounded by despite claims of incompetence. His character bleeds arrogance and narcissism for no reason at all!

So already you have no one to root for, except for Theron's Anna who just insultingly becomes another damsel in distress despite her sharpshooter skills and her overall badassery. Why? To assist some god awful formulaic story.

I'm just flabbergasted by all the big names involved in such a flawed, amateur project... there's even a 5 minute long diarrhea shitting-in-a-hat joke. I mean c'mon, are you 12?

How to Train Your Dragon 2

HTTYD2 just seems to be one of those rare franchises that manages to hit the sweet spot despite being a "milking it" sequel.

Visually speaking it's obviously great to look at, what 3D animated films these days aren't? (Disney, Pixar, BlueSky, Dreamworks etc. all doing it right.) but there's a lot of really, really great cinematography and visual development art to appreciate here. Like when his mother reveals herself for the first time, as the dragons illuminate the cave with the fire in their mouths, the giant ice fortress, the gathering of wild dragons reminiscent of tropical birds.... it's all very impressive stuff!

Premise wise the second film has a seemingly dull story of an big evil man gathering a dragon army to take over the world and our young heroes attempts to thwart it, but anyone who's seen the movie will tell you the plot revolves much, much more around the character/family drama of Hiccup than anything.

Between rekindling his relationship with his mother, finding himself, his place in the world and suffering a great loss on a couple of fronts, it's a very rapid emotional ride that resonates with what the protagonist is going through. Every scene is a shot to your heart and why wouldn't it be? They're incredibly well directed with an impressive musical score to really back up that melodrama.

But as with any character driven film often times the rest of the cast plays a fairly two dimensional role and little complexities are given. Unfortunately this held true, other than Hiccup every single character played out like a cliché or stereotype.

So if you love the protagonists, the film is kind of perfect. I only wish that Dreamworks tried a little harder to develop their robust cast instead of writing them off as either comic relief or shallow positions to facilitate Hiccup's progression. The strong father figure, the activist mother who regrets leaving her child, the supportive girlfriend, the villain's side-kick who wasn't actually bad but caught in a difficult situation, the many, many comic reliefs etc. it all looks a little lazy.

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow
½

There have been some pretty forgettable futuristic one-off Sci Fis rolling into theaters these past couple of years (Total Recall, After Earth, Oblivion, Elysium etc.), none of them were absolutely terrible per say but brought nothing new to the genre I wasn't already deathly familiar with. So I went into EoT with minimal expectations and boy, what a delightful surprise.

EoT manages to take a couple of premises and plot devices I've grown weary of (alien invasion and time travel), inject new life into them and deliver an entertaining, thrilling, moving experience all in one neat little package.

One of the most successful things about it is that it doesn't get too obvious but more importantly, never forgets all it's moving parts are human. Cruise makes Cage a very delectable every-day man and his relationship with Blunt's Vrataski really grows on you as they get to know (and un-know?) each other through the course of the film.

To be honest it's surprising how much of their relationship they were able to shove into the movie without making it blatantly overshadow the emergence of stopping an alien invasion. I would even go as far to say it's an equal parts romance as it is a time-travel action-fest. Don't get me wrong though, it never gets in the way of all the explosions, alien slaying and cool exosuits.

I'm just saying in the end, you'll probably be a lot more invested in what happens to Cage and Vrataski than you are with the fate of humanity, and you won't be disappointed either.

If there are any hiccups with the film it's all the high concept shenanigans being thrown at you despite the grounded near-future setting. Your suspense of disbelief will definitely be challenged oh so slightly, as the pseudo science hits the ground hard but keeps running. Almost saying "Keep up, or you'll just fall behind" The movie is a lot less concerned about explaining who or what than it is about the happenings of the here and now.

If you're looking for a great one-off Sci Fi movie to watch this summer that isn't a part of some giant conglomerate franchise (Godzilla, Transformers, Marvel, TMNT etc.) then I most definitely recommend Edge of Tomorrow.

Maleficent
Maleficent(2014)

"The best villains are the ones that do the wrong thing, but for the right reasons."

I went into Maleficent with high expectations on execution, largely because I'm very familiar with the construction of a sympathetic villain. It's a character tragedy at its core and probably one of my most favorite forms of storytelling. If you recognize these themes then you'll probably run into no surprises as Disney tends to follow safe happy-feel-good-endings and working formulas with their narratives. (I'm looking at you, Enchanted)

How does it look? It's a beautiful movie to say the least, granted it is Disney so to not have top notch visuals would be somewhat unexpected. That being said though there are some slight green-screen transitions that could've looked more natural but hey, I'm no SFX technical genius so who am I to nitpick.

Honestly, I've never found Angelina Jolie particularly impressive as an actress (or "hot" individual, lol) but after seeing this movie and all the micro expressions she pulls off, wow. Like when she hears of Aurora's birth? My heart broke as her eyes watered just slightly with the "Oh...", of course the rest of the cast pulled off their roles, but none had the dimension to offer as the titular character played by Jolie.

To be overly critical, I'll say there's a little over narration in the beginning of the film. It seemed like they were in a hurry to get through Maleficent's childhood to get to the "actual story" and a series of montages really downplayed the romance between her and Stefan. This would later on make her final encounters and moments with the King less emotionally dramatic.

This was likely done to make Stefan easier to get rid of though. As I doubt Disney would be willing to kill anyone with remotely redeemable values as the company is known for feel-good cookie cutter morality. This may also be why they opted out on killing Diaval, the Raven when he transformed into a dragon in the climatic moments of the film. It's odd since they set it up kind of perfectly as Maleficent saved him from certain death, it would have been poetic and cathartic for him to give his life at the end to save her and Aurora from what was meant to be his fate all those years ago. But alas, I guess that's just "too dark" for Disney.

It's also unfortunate that they already used the whole "non-romantic love" motif in their recent animated feature "Frozen" almost completely downplaying the surprised of it being used here as she kisses Aurora on the head to awaken her. It was perfect, but talk about bad timing.

If you enjoy complex characters, dealing with inner turmoil, on a road to self redemption and the like then Maleficent is most definitely for you. The rest of the cast feels underdeveloped but they're more or less there as a backdrop to facilitate Jolie's path to redemption from a naive bright eyed girl, to a damaged, betrayed soul and finally, hero. I cannot stress how important it is to recognize that this is an in-depth singular character story and not a retelling of Sleeping Beauty.

It's simply, MALEFICENT.

(I'm probably bias here, but this is probably one of my most favorite Disney films to date. Antiheroes are simply too delicious.)

Godzilla
Godzilla(2014)
½

Godzilla is an old franchise that prided itself on monster brawls, and by monster brawls I mean men in clunky outfits awkwardly hugging and punching each other. To make such an obscure genre work with modern appeal, rather than pounding our faces with special effects (Pacific Rim) the folks behind this remake decided to throw us a character driven story. This worked... but only to a certain extent.

The somewhat sudden demise of Cranston in the first quarter of the film put the character driven elements on the young shoulders of Taylor-Johnson and let's be honest, soldier-boy did not have the depth or appeal to lead. Thankfully Watanabe was around to help with the weight but the lack of focus on either gave us too many subplots to juggle around. In the end, we didn't care nearly enough about either.

An utter lack of humor might also make such a gratuitous story seem dull but the plot/premise plays on themes that are very serious to the origins of Godzilla, the Japanese (Hiroshima) I mean we awaken epic beasts by tampering with radiation and what does the military do? Why we throw every pathetic bullet and bomb we possibly can at the problem. It's embodies everything about the franchise, humanity tampering with forces beyond our control.

I also have to commend the movie for never fully committing to just a big fat Monster Brawl, there's always a human element in play and the special effects are used sparingly relative to other Hollywood action fests.

The film understood the appeal of Godzilla; When the credits roll we walk out of a good movie. It respected the source material, wasn't tacky (Pacific Rim), or a huge joke (1998 Godzilla), delivered some amazing monster brawls and performances from some great actors (Watanbe & Cranston) isn't that enough?

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

TAS2 is a teen drama first and an action flick second (which is okay, that's exactly what Spidey is suppose to be) it's all young angst and romance sandwiched between a whole lot of CGI. Once again the human elements of the story work but as we get down to the battles and villains things start getting juvenile and overly... flamboyant.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really happy to see that TAS2 brings Spidey out of the shadows of realism and grittiness that the predecessor tried to emulate. Spidey isn't Batman, he's suppose to be goofy, fantastical and outrageously colourful but there's a line between tone direction and just outright comical laziness.

I mean the titular villain was forgettable at best (Sorry they wasted you, Jamie Fox) the real star of the show was Dehaan's Harry Osborn. Until of course... they CGI'd him up and gave him "the works". Once he became "evil" there was nothing left but a 2-dimensional face for Spidey to punch. I don't think the film suffered from too many villains that so many claim, it just suffered from making the ones that mattered not feel like authentic people.

But what of the rest of the cast? Well, they were kind of perfect. Which is good because 75% of the movie is in fact about Peter's relationship with Gwen, friendship with Harry and some brooding Parental history. The 25% of shallow action just sticks out because of how outrageously flashy it looks.

To sum it up, TAS2 is an uneven sandwich. The bun is hard and rotten, almost inedible, an over-reliance on tacky CGI and piss poor villain writing. However! The meat, lettuce and cheese inside? Is an absolute delight! This was the character drama and relationships, some very human moments in the film that just outright get you.

At the end of the movie you'll probably walk out on a high note, but can't help feeling there might've been too many downs to go with the ups in film quality.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
½

WS has a really good running start, with great character drama utilizing the "man out of time" theme all over the place to create some very wonderful moments between Evans and the supporting cast. It's an oddly effective coming of age story, for a 95 year old man!

The plot soon develops to typical espionage fair if you're familiar with spy-films, using "big brother" themes on a global scale but loses a lot of its credibility as everything thickens, especially when explained posthumously through a digitized super-villain Swiss accent.

I mean the absurdity of the algorithm alone already raises eyebrows, let alone implementing them in some giant floating autonomous death machines that have no safeguard. Hopefully though you'll be so drunk on the beautifully choreographed action sequences and banter between Evans and Johansson that you just go ahead and accept everything happening is plausible.

This CA sequel possesses everything loveable about Marvel films and more. Great visuals, phenomenal action, quip humour, effective character drama...but the "more" this time is that it manages to capture the political tone and essence of espionage/conspiracy spy films while retaining itself as a fun, action packed adventure lead by a protagonist that clearly has depth. Kudos Marvel!

The Monuments Men
½

I think critics just have ridiculously unreasonable expectations towards a star spangled cast for a film that's ALSO written and directed by Clooney. Or would actually jump at a chance to bash the guy.

The Monuments Men is rich in great comedic moments, a coherent plot with character driven points as well as a rounded score of dramatic turns. However things do get a little predictable to a point of formulaic embarrassment.

I found the light-hearted 90's stylistic approach (indicated as a "stiffly nostalgic tone" by RT) juxtaposed the rather grim, dreaded nature of the WWII setting very well. It created a welcoming contrast that alternatively gave the movie a sense of identity for a 2013 production.

The acting was great but again that's to be expected considering the cast. However what really stuck out was the subplot between Damon and Blanchett. It masterfully draws a line between romance, seclusion and trust through various nuances. Without going into details I just wanted to highlight how well crafted their relationship was.

Unfortunately by comparison similar elements of the film felt diminished, Murray and Balaban's friendship, Goodman and Dujardin's comradary, Bonneville's death... hell even Clooney himself seemed a little watered down by comparison but that's kind of expected considering all the screentime was filled with humor instead and c'mon, there's more than enough charm to deliver in that respect between these guys.

So between the dated stylistic approach (Hell, it even ends in them walking into a sun set) and loads of unsolicited humor it's hard to even consider The Monuments Men a war film. Does that necessarily make it bad though? Definitely not, I found the entire experience to be quite enjoyable and I'd surely recommend it to others.

The LEGO Movie

I was skeptical of RT's 95% for this movie, thinking maybe once again critics were going easy on an animated film but it is actually that amazing.
It's just incredibly smart with sharp humor, a relatively original plot with great ups n' downs, twists and turns and the phenomenal animation style that brings it all together. What's best though is all the themes and motifs explored pretty much embodies everything there is about the LEGO toys and the franchise.

Also lets not forget the amazing cast of actors involved. Some of my personal favorites like Charlie Day (Always Sunny), Elizabeth Banks (Scrubs), Alison Brie (Community), Will Arnett (Arrested Development), Nick Offerman (Parks n' Rec) and the list goes on!

If there are any criticism to be had I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe the whole toys coming to life can feel like a tired idea or the message of the film gets a little muddled (It's good to follow instructions, but then it's not?) but honestly to say such things is like trying to take down a dinosaur with a pebble.

The Wolf of Wall Street
½

For a very high energy film the length can takes it's toll and by the 5th "omg I'm so high" funny scene things can get a little exhausting.

Nevertheless the The Wolf is quite good, with some amazing characterizations (Mconaughey? Perfect) and pretty enticing plot points. Unfortunately when all is said and done the life of Belfort is a little too sprawling to really come together in anything very cohesive. It's definitely the dynamic gags that keep our attention which in a way can just come off gimmicky taking the whole style over substance route.

That being said the underlying theme or message appears to be that "what goes up must come down." Whether it be due to character flaws (Dicaprio), the blundering mistakes of your loved ones or having loved ones (Hill and Robbie) or the world order just coming to right itself (Denham).

In the end the poor man's path to power and inevitable fall from it can be a pretty fun watch. Granted, I'd take this over any of "The Hangover" movies for sure.

American Hustle
½

AH unfolds in a way that very few films can replicate. When character relationships are just as exciting or thrilling as its caper plot you know you've got something quite golden.

I mean Lawrence's hysterical performance is perfect, Bale's strained and complex relationship with her, Adams struggle between what is real and what isn't... Everything is written and acted with such finesse that none of the characters ever feel like a stereotype due to their varying complexities. To do all this character work AND have it come together with a cohesive, satisfying plot was really the icing on top.

If anything, the film just lacked accessibility. It's hard to root for anyone when you pass judgement on their inherent flaws and if you don't get the nuanced humor everything can seem quite dreary. A little more edge in direction style could have also helped the relatively mundane setting/genre that AH is pigeonholed in.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Like its predecessor the sequel suffers from an excess of sprawling subplots but this time around things feel a little more cohesive thanks to an established premise from the first movie.

Also where the first film suffered a middle ground between childlike and dark, TDOS has a definitive tone through and through, again making the entire production a little less scattered.

But where the real marvel lies in these movies are the beautiful cinematography, great cast of actors old and new, plus some of the best action choreography I've seen in film. This undeniable accomplishment in visual prowess really brings Tolkien's fantasy world to life. The attention payed to the lore and details truly pushes back any misgivings one may have with the overall narrative.

Monsters
Monsters(2010)
½

I think the real "scary" thing is the misleading title and premise of the movie. At its core "Monsters" is a very human, relationship driven romance and survival/suspense flick last.

The real beauty lies in the synergy of the film's writing as the characters unravel seamlessly with the mysteries and effects surrounding the extraterrestrial presence that lurks within central America.

It's a great movie for many reasons but is more than often crippled by the same fact, it's very character driven. So if you're not interested in the protagonists or convinced by the romantic chemistry between Mcnairy and Able you'll begin to feel the toll of a meandering plot. Everything starts to slow down and pacing issues quickly become apparent.

Nevertheless I can't help but appreciate the themes and character resolutions that come full circle during the films climatic end. Who are the real 'Monsters" indeed :]

Frozen
Frozen(2013)
½

I really wanted to love Frozen but I found it surprisingly uneven. Great animation, voice acting, and overlying concept aside... it's rather underwhelming.

The pacing was heavily rushed at various points, the art direction for many of the character designs seemed lazy, and a lot of the subplots and characters just felt like excess.

The majority of songs were pretty weak and I'm not even comparing it to Disney's "glory days", even Tangled had a much better musical score!

The really great moments were just too few and far apart, the emphasis between Elsa and Anna's relationship should've played a bigger backbone. Instead it only occupied critical moments of the film (The beginning and end) while the rest played as frivolous filler.

Olaf provided nothing but unsolicited comic relief. Hans, Kristoff, The Duke of Weselton... all these roles should have been re-worked and streamlined to create a more cohesive use of themes relative to the Anna / Elsa story.

Maybe I'm being over critical because it's a Disney production, but it's definitely no Lion King, Aladdin or Little Mermaid when it easily could've been.

The overall story and ideas behind Frozen were really solid, the execution was just glaringly unrefined. There was no majesty, no real sense of grandeur, everything was overly comical cushioned by crudely calculated drama... I only hope Pixar doesn't end up going down the same road.

Violet & Daisy

Basically a light, character driven, "Pulp Fiction". It could have been absolutely awful affair if not for stellar performances by Gandolfini, Ronan and at times, even Bledel.

This ultra comical premise is thoroughly contrasted through a series of dark themes and complex character study. The setting may have alluded to a violent action fest but in the end it's a bitter sweet tale about a dying man and the meaning of friendship (or at least what it means for a couple of teen killers)

Despite its somewhat derivative style of Tarantino's it kind of works as a sincere character drama but only as far as your interest in the protagonists would take you in the first place.

Ender's Game
Ender's Game(2013)

It's a good Sci Fi movie, but with so many blockbusters in the genre lately you can't help but feel this whole thing takes place in an underdeveloped universe.

Hood also does a very subpar job handling the passage of time, whether it was through a misuse of montage or the inability to show Ender age throw careful SFX/makeup I can't help but feel the whole thing took place within the span of a couple of weeks.

Then there's the throw-away supporting cast. Other than Petra (and possibly his sister) all supporting characters were largely forgettable despite the use of working archetypes.

With all that said, it boasts an interesting story and with the multiple clans in the training room you almost get a "Sci Fi Harry Potter" effect with the franchise that tweens may enjoy. Although the zero-G skirmishes between the clans did end up feeling rather arbitrary to preparing them to be flawless commanders. The effort to make it seem relevant in the end was almost a stretch.

How I Live Now
½

It's a coming-of-age teen drama but with considerably higher stakes with a notably great use of ambiance and setting, nuclear war.

The premise is reminiscent of Takahata's "Grave of the Fireflies" where innocence and bliss struggles through the woes of war and ultimately, that of reality. They're popular clashing themes for a reason, providing plenty of rich contrast.

I really loved the story and Ronan delivers quite the performance carrying the film on her shoulders but the movie suffers significantly from Macdonald's inability to establish the "cousin-fun-time-utopia" that Daisy strives for once the ashes have fallen. Her shift from apathetic teenager to blissful romantic comes off forced, making the motivations behind her journey somewhat contrive and even cheapening the conclusive ending.

Thor: The Dark World

Everything I wanted out of the original Thor movie and more. Where the first didn't deliver I found TDW to simply thrive in!

The action did not feel lack luster, relationships have weight and the character depths are just a little richer. Even the supporting cast gets their own moments to shine! If you're not cheering for "insert Asgardian name here" being badass then you're moved by Thor/Loki's relationships and conflicts, or laughing at some sort of hilarious antic.

The premise is typical high fantasy fair but the plot is creative enough and character driven material is there to keep one engaged, especially the ending.

The visuals are something to behold, but that should be expected. However there's just something very extra that comes from a high fantasy world that fuses magic and technology. It brings a lot of interesting concepts (blackhole grenades? Awesome) and beautiful cinematography (Sending off the dead Asgardian style, Asgardian architecture, etc.)

It really is one of Marvel's best.

The World's End

It's not as perfect as Hot Fuzz, probably because the Sci Fi element almost comes off as a derailment from the original premise, but despite the stumbling cohesion the themes remain that glue it all together; brotherhood and friendship. Chaos versus order.

I think Pegg and Frost have definitely stepped back up after the disappointment that was "Paul", the personal conflicts between the cast end up mixing very well with the high-concept Sci Fi elements that occupy the latter half. For better or for worse, there's a shock value to this progression as well.

Personally, it was one delightful surprise after another for the geek in me :]

Superman Unbound

Feels like a cheap, almost overly convoluted excuse to watch Superman fly around punching drones and Brainiac in the face.

The emotional aspect of SG's subplot is rather contrive as well, never really hitting a true heartfelt moment and almost comes off as a separate movie altogether in wake of Brainiac's threat.

If you want to watch Supes punch things hard and explosions, sure, watch it. Frankly I see no merits in the movie other than a sub-par animated action-fest with a "War of the Worlds" cop-out ending.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2

Perfectly adapted, there's really very little to complain about. The animation is stellar and just like Part1 the voice acting and dialogue is remarkably well done.

The only gripes anyone would have with the film is in fact the comic-book pacing and division of story archs (The Joker and then finally the showdown with Superman) but I'd rather they stayed loyal to the book than attempt their own retelling.

Superman vs. The Elite
½

It's unfortunate that the art style doesn't fit appropriately with the sophistication of the story because in all honesty, this movie embodies what it is to be "Superman" better than any other animated film featuring the character.

The theme of idealism against the harshness of reality, of overcoming the means to an end with the unwavering hope in principle and morality. This movie's plot defines Clark's character and that's where it really shines.

Unfortunately, there's just something unappealing and generally comical in the presentation of "The Elite" (design & voice acting), this combined with the juvenile art style takes away from the dark themes and ideas presented.

Of course, the fight scenes and animation is still quite stellar. The explosive battles are all very fluid and full of dynamism.

I think in the wake of Batman's popularity and that of vigilantes or dark heroes alike, this movie plays a pivotal role in reminding us that it's just as important to dream and strive for ideals.

Pitch Black
Pitch Black(2000)

A delicious Sci Fi suspense/thriller/action flick. Riddick's characterization of badassery really scores a lot of bonus points and the chemistry between him and the various cast members pulls at some humorous moments.

The plot isn't quite as predictable as one would expect and the premise makes a pretty original survival. The provocative moral struggles in the end are also something to behold. It's no Aliens 1 or 2 but it's definitely good enough for a watch.

Riddick
Riddick(2013)
½

The premise is reminiscent of the first in the franchise, except the cast of whiny innocents are replaced by a bunch of colorful mercs. In fact, I'd go as far to say it's a more humorous, smarter but less dramatic and cohesive Pitch Black.

There are several great original scenes though, like removing the lock from the safe? Hilariously suspenseful. It's unfortunate to see the last few moments stumble into such an anticlimactic end.

The Chronicles of Riddick
½

Whose bright idea was it to put a gritty brawny action hero into some bizarre, convoluted Shakespearean Sci Fi Opera? I seriously can not believe that Pitch Black and this piece of crap was written by the same guy. The style and tone is completely different and not for the better.

I also can't believe the production values on this thing, that's just irresponsible. Not all the badassery in the world could have saved this piece staged rubbish.

DCU: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

A really great movie, incredibly well animated, voiced and directed! Seriously, the stylization, lighting and cinematography is probably the best work I've seen from DC.

Although it feels like the film's in a bit of a hurry (Not a Flash pun) and at times it almost feels like there's too much gore/violence. Like they're going out of their way to be all dark and edgy?

Also it's hard not to have laugh a bit at the plot, the world coming to an end because Aquaman couldn't keep it in his pants? Hahaha.

Elysium
Elysium(2013)

Forgettable dystopian Sci Fi flick, a huge let down considering Blomkamp's District 9 and on its own it's barely passable as a quality film.

The premise, plot and characters all feel like boring recycled archetypes. Even worse when the key antagonist turns out to be some moronic hack n' slash mercenary. People keep praising how it mixes social commentary of the "99% : 1%", but honestly it's the oldest theme in the Sci Fi book and Elysium doesn't even TRY to add anything new to the conversation.

Foster's character was completely squandered and wasted, there were glaring plotholes due to the oversimplification of a clearly complex social structure. The only thing in the film that was commendable was Blomkamp's gritty style/camera work and the actors for making good of what little they had to work with.

The Kids Are All Right

TKAAR is sort of the most perfect dramedy I've seen on the subject of marriage and family values.

The cast of "modern characters" are all incredibly colorful in their own right but through their interactions with each other become truly authentic. Their rounded/layered characterizations is what really makes the film shine, transcending the politically provoking/gimmicky premise.

It's a great story, that manages to map the sophisticated issues and struggles of each character gracefully without feeling staged whilst delivering a satisfying ending that isn't obnoxiously hollywood.

Also I'd like to add, the film is outright hilarious! Which balances very well with the heavy drama explored through and through.

Safety Not Guaranteed

SNG weaves a humorous tale of overcoming seclusion, and the strength it takes to have hope in the most skeptical of places, from the prospects of time travel to the human heart.

One can argue the story is simply a romantic fluff piece, but the beauty is that it never feels like one and it constantly captivates our suspense of belief with it's premise and through authentic conversations.

With great actors to boot, there's very little going wrong here. The only thing that I had gripes with was how loosely the subplots played into the main plot, I understand that they intertwined through their themes but I couldn't help but notice a lack in focus.

Still very little to complain about, a true delight!

The Wolverine

It's a huge improvement over Origins and less campy than the X-men trilogy. Fans of Wolverine will be delighted to find that this movie feels like a geniuine film made for Logan and not a spin-off.

There's a robust story full of well acted characters with great relationships and themes, although the archetypes do feel dated at times. (Princess on top of a tower that needs saving from a lone-Ronin warrior? Evil father-figure who wants eternal life? Complete dick boyfriend that deters you to the protagonist as your love interest? C'mon.) Although I largely forgave these elements due to the fact that the whole movie IS based on a comic-book arch written in the 90's

Also, the plot comes crashing down to nonsensical shenanigans in the closing acts. Why the giant adamantium samurai mech again? Why not just build the contraption into the chair you had him strapped to? Oh right, to force an "iconic" villain into a story he doesn't really fit in.

Adding on to those nonsensical elements was Khodchenkova's Viper who's design and acting felt terribly out of place within the tone of the movie through and through! She reminds us of the embarrassment that was X-3

Also, as an artist and fan of well choreographed action; the final scenes of the movie were genuinely disappointing. The conclusive fight between the ninjas and even the duel with the Silver Samurai were just handled in a surprisingly awkward manner.

The Wolverine is definitely a step in the right direction, it's a good movie but won't go on anyone's "great" list.

R.I.P.D.
R.I.P.D.(2013)
½

I think the highlights are really Parker, Bridges and Reynolds being able to deliver laughs when they have to, but in the end their efforts are squandered by a shallow plot, formulaic progression and really lazy CGI work.

Also, is it just me or was the camera work incredibly dizzying and distracting?

I don't know, the whole project just felt like a lazy "Men In Black" to me.

Despicable Me 2
½

It's fun, light-hearted and presented with splendid animation but the plot is terribly thin in themes and complexity. There's not much in authentic emotion on any level and I feel like the writers completely missed some interesting ideas with the premise once again. (A GOOD super VILLAIN)

Gru is a boring lead, the girls have a frivolous subplot, the new antagonist is bland and as loveable as Lucy & Dr. Nefario can be... they simply don't offer any weight.

Instead we're blasted repeatedly with Minion-gags in an elementary espionage/romance, which is fine, but I really wish the film strived for more than such a shallow, narrow demographic.

Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim(2013)

Pacific Rim is the epitome of style over substance, of brawn over brains.

It's so busy making you go "Wow" with it's visuals that it gets to a point where you just ignore the stifling dialogue, plot holes, contrive drama, derivative story and bland main characters

The violent 12-year-old-boy inside of you comes out and just takes over your mind, body and soul. Every time a Jaeger punches a Kaiju you can't help but cheer, you're at the edge of your seat for every brawl and laughing yourself to death every time they scream one of their "special attacks".

It takes an incredibly boring and moderately intelligent person to hate this movie, but if you know how to throw back a couple of drinks and have a good time? The monstrous amount of fun this movie provides will definitely do it for you.

The Lone Ranger
½

There's a lot to love about the movie than there is to hate, so I'm actually somewhat stumped by RT's incredibly low rating for The Lone Ranger.

The story isn't terribly obvious with a lot of Western sensibilities told in a modern voice that I really appreciated. (Progress vs Tradition/Legend) As usual, Depp does a wonderful job bringing his comic/quirky character to life and even Hammer does a splendid job coming off as an awkward every-day man despite his obvious good looks.

It's less fantastical and wondrous than the PoTC series but I think it was smart of them to move away from the franchise and try something a little more sophisticated and dramatized.

The premise didn't seem to have much to work with in terms of action (Desert, rocks, horses, gunfights, bland stuff) but all the set pieces get pretty creative, especially the final montage of locomotive bonanza.

In the end the movie didn't feel too long for me, granted I'm sure they could've cut some stuff out but it's a pretty robust story. I'm also not one to complain because by the end of it I was thoroughly entertained by Hammer's naive idealist transformed to vigilantism, Tonto's quest for vengeance and reclamation... and a whole lot of fun :]

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

It starts out feeling rather mundane as far as the genre goes (Teen, coming of age) but picks up quickly as Miller and Watson's characters are introduced, their chemistry and quirks are infinitely more appealing than "Wallflower" Lerman.

What I found most impressive was that the plot/story although rather uninspired, feels so incredibly sincere and authentic in it's themes. The drama is surprisingly vivid, all largely in part to Chbosky's direction, and a well written script (courtesy of the book, I assume?)

If there's a coming of age tale worth recommending about passion, loss, miss-opportunities and hope, this is it.

Jack the Giant Slayer
½

If anything, JtGS is somewhat of a baseline for family friendly, modern action-adventure-fairytales.

It's well acted, reasonably fun and although the story is old fashioned and impersonal it also has enough minor twists to not be completely bland.

It's an odd combination of childlike fairytale sensibilities mixed with over the top CGI action that we've come to see in recent years. Unfortunately, like 2010's Alice in Wonderland the movie sort of misses both demographics.

It's not whimsical, comedic or fantastic enough and the realistic gritty CGI action isn't very... realistic and gritty. The whole ordeal is just stuck in some bizarre unsatisfying middle ground.

This Is the End

Absolutely hilarious in every way, it's one of those comedies that you can't help but love.

I mean sure, it's a vanity project but it's masked in so much self-deprecation and endless blundering gags that it really overcomes the concept. Just a really enjoyable experience for anyone who can appreciate a good laugh.

World War Z
World War Z(2013)
½

WWZ's a commendable zombie movie, with the genre in mind it offers refreshing action set-pieces (Israeli wall, Airplane etc.) and a plot that deals with the epidemic in a more robust and global perspective.

Unfortunately, the story which is primarily a mystery/investigation makes a sudden detour in its final acts. The search for patient zero and the source of the virus is abruptly abandoned as Gerry (Pitt) decides to pursue a hunch instead. As a result the closing scenes lose dramatic impact and the "emotion" that follows just comes off heavy-handed.

A major copout! Not to mention Pitt's character progressively acquires a protagonist-syndrome, a hazard when the POV is suppose to be from your everyday-family-man.

Although an enjoyable film WWZ had too much to offer (when the credits rolled I was partially convinced it would be first in a series) the limitations of a single film seems to have weighed down the scale of its premise forcing writers to give us an unsatisfying end.

Still, if your ticket is worth anything it's definitely the thrills and action. :]

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies(2013)

It's stupidly cute and honestly that's all it needs to be.

Warm Bodies is tongue-in-cheek and just a really adorable blend of teen-romance and zombie-fair. As if the script wasn't charming enough you also have Malkovich and Corddry bumping up the appeal!

It's really nice to see there are still successful twists to classic formulas, regardless of how frivolous and harmless of a flick. Turn your brain off for this one, and bring your sweetheart :]

Identity Thief
½

I was fortunate enough to see this film for free on an airplane. It's just sad to see Baleman in another poorly written comedy but I suppose his chemistry and gimmicks with McCarthy deliver enough laughs to trek through this swamp of cliche sentimentality.

It's funny and harmless enough but there's just something wrong with a movie this lazy making it to the big screen through the whole production process.

Epic
Epic(2013)

Epic starts off beautifully, with a degree of elegance in it's visuals that's almost reminiscent of the high-end Anime coming out of Asia... but as the film tinkers on the whole ordeal becomes unimaginatively generic.

All manners of poise are lost as the film stumbles needlessly into another "action adventure" full of parodies and humor. Don't get me wrong, I love comedy! It's what made Disney's "Tangled" so refreshing from their previous Princess-movies. It wasn't bad humor either, in fact the jokes were quite well written.

But the story just isn't there with Epic and as the characters (loveable or hilarious that they are), progress through their journey viewers have very little to hang their hat on.

It's unfortunate, BlueSky created a wonderful foundation to build off of and I could see many possible themes of sophistication that just didn't bear fruit. In the end I left the theater ambivalent... on one hand I enjoyed the film but was clearly disappointed that it wasn't the "something more" I knew it could have been.

PS. Ansari's Mub was stellar.

Star Trek Into Darkness
½

A visually stunning, action packed whirlwind. Into the Darkness is a welcoming sequel to the rebooted Star Trek name.

Fans of the original series will once again be disappointed with the abandonment of philosophical debate and poise of the original but I suppose this is a fine example that, source material doesn't always have to dictate a re-imagining but still respect it.

The plot does come off a little convoluted, to the point where a lot of moments were of prosaic drama & exposition as characters stood around throwing dialogue at each other.

But hey, the content is solid despite the mishandled presentation. With a strong performance from the overall cast accompanied by stellar visuals/action the whole film still manages to come together and make for an enjoyable watch.

It doesn't break ground in any way but as a polished piece of Sci Fi entertainment it hardly fails either.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)
½

MoS is, for better or for worse, an action packed ball of serious melodrama; and in a way, it's a breath of fresh air for the genre.

Where Marvel keeps pounding us with heroes that don't have over-the-top impressive powers (aside from Hulk, I suppose) and marrying it to constant "witty" humor to keep viewers from taking it too seriously. Superman instead, makes the daring attempt of becoming a heavy drama mixed with ludicrous amounts of flawless action.

And you know what? That really worked for me. I'm so tired of Marvel's formula and seeing them treat this film with a degree of elegance really suited Mr. Kent.

I also found a lot of love for main characters, Clark blundering from adolescence to adulthood and making the hard decisions he had to, Lois for being an in-your-face get-out-of-my-way reporter and Zod, for being a man born to care for a world that was meant to die. (YOU STOLE HIS SOOUL)

Granted the film's not perfect but a lot of it is forgiveable. The melodrama feels heavy handed somewhere down the road after the 10th flashback or something and I'm going to assume critics are going to complain about the overuse of jello-building-action.

People may also complain about a lack of romance but at what point of the story did it feel like romance was necessary? Or even at the top of anyone's mind? IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD.

One last thing I have to mention again though, because I absolutely loved it, was the action. Every scene with Faora had me jumping with glee and every fight had me on the edge of my seat. It's a shame very few critics have an appreciation for visual mastery. They see violence and explosions, then automatically assume a shallow product. I'm embarassed for them.

Fast & Furious 6

Fast6 is an entertaining film, albeit with a lot of action that was simply impossible (I'm pretty sure everyone had the durability of Spider-man) and the plot is... well, the plot is there. It's not particularly creative but at the same time who was really expecting something more?

I think what grabbed me most about the movie was the creative action set-pieces. The whole bit with the tank? The airplane finale? There's a level of finesse to it that I really appreciated.

Also the movie wasn't ALL brawns n' explosions, there were attempts of substance with an emphasis on family, men having a "code" and even a dash of romance. All the characters were also given their own little attributes which more than often offered some great comic relief.

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)
½

Judging from IM2, I was expecting another bigger, flashier, instalment in Downey's little escapades of gadgetry. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to find a smaller adventure housed within a complex, flawed lead character accompanied by a cast of rather entertaining individuals.

IM3 goes back to the roots of Tony Stark, a mechanic. Just a man full of ego but still inherently flawed. As a result the action is notably less excessive but the trade-off is worth it as it allows for more character development and relationships. However more than often it feels like comic relief undermines a lot of the drama that it's trying to hold up.

The pacing/plot gets a little clunky around the edges as the twists and turns are thrown in as well, but hey, at least there's suspense and we get to meet Trevor. :]

Finally, I think it was incredibly smart of whoever's in charge to make this movie all about Tony as a character. The plot, although dense is very clearly driven by it's protagonist (evidence in its first-person narration but also the themes of personal redemption and self-discovery). You can't really go wrong building an entire movie around Downey's Stark, he just OOOZES with style, wit and entertainment value.

So all in all, not the flashy-over-the-top craziness I expected but instead I feel like I was given a much healthier, more balanced dose of mystery, humor, character & action.

Oblivion
Oblivion(2013)

I think the biggest flaw with Oblivion started with the fact that it's suspense/mystery married to a painfully predictable plot. So for about 2/3 of the movie the audience is waiting for characters to move through all their motions of "development" while squirming in anxiety.

But frankly, I really enjoyed the last few closing acts before the film ended. There were a lot of key moments that really stood out, filling my love for Sci Fi themes. (Discovering he's a clone and dealing with it, Jack not telling the 2nd Victoria the truth, Jack bringing Malcom rather than Julia etc.)

A lot of critics argue a lack of emotion or that characters are forgotten as soon as the "action" rolls in but that may be because all the players seem like characters in a Victorian play and never really "alive" in the first place.

Finally, let's not forget the top notch visuals. The Scifi concept art team behind this movie did a really wonderful job with the overall designs and as an artist myself, I can't help but appreciate it all.

It's definitely no Minority Report and it's rare for a movie to start off horrible and then get better (as opposed to having a strong start and progressively get worse) but if you love Sci Fi I think it's a pretty enjoyable experience that uses it's tropes effectively more so than falling victim to them.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

TESTOSTERONEEEEEEE! But seriously Bruce Willis needed more screentime. The ninjas were tacky and lame as usual and surprisingly? The action wasn't as good as I thought it'd be. Unsurprising note, the plot was one hell of a joke.

It should be worth mentioning that there were some charming... "human" moments that the first film lacked but then they dropped the over-use of CGI and special effects that the first film had which I missed! I mean, when I pay for a GI Joe ticket I'm expecting Michael-Bay-Transformers-Visuals... I was disappointed to see them tone it all down.

I think the very premise/concept of a GI Joe live-action movie is just.... incredibly hard to pull off without a proper script that seamlessly balances realism, charm and action. I wouldn't say impossible because somehow Marvel pulled it off with the Avengers.

Bottom line? In a sea of shitty loud action movies I would choose the Transformers or The Expendables over this rubbish any day.

Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher(2012)
½

More than often comes off as a vanity project for Cruise but I digress, as a standalone mystery thriller or franchise starter it's not bad at all. It's almost like a modern take on Noir storytelling.

The problem really lies in the fact that it's not inherently good either. There isn't anything about the premise, characters or execution that sticks out from the norm. Sure the plot itself is intricate enough to keep the viewer guessing but the delivery of it all...

More than often I wanted to reach out and inject some more charisma or "edge" into the film, without a defining style it will ultimately be forgotten in a sea of crime thrillers.

Oz the Great and Powerful
½

Unimpressed. I mean really, it's not particularly funny, entertaining or emotional. The art direction fluctuated between tacky and excessive turning the whole ordeal into a very contrive experience.

Maybe it was the script but Franco's character was thinly sculpted, every time he opened his mouth I couldn't quite tell what he was suppose to be delivering in terms of theme or emotion.

I really wish Monkey and China Doll played bigger roles in the long run like Dorothy's companions. Everything they did ended up seeming so frivolous and Williams didn't look or feel much like Glinda.

The only thing that made any sort of impression on me was Kuniz's performance as Theodora, (I guess I'm a sucker for broken hearts) otherwise I just didn't care! The themes were so boring and delivered through such cliche vehicles. Many characters, even the premise had such promise but were completely squandered in its charmless witless execution.

Raimi disappoints.

Wreck-it Ralph
½

In a lot of ways Wreck it Ralph is an outstanding example of modern animated films and here's why, DESPITE the fact that it's soaked in pop culture and parody, there's still an original story that's full of heart played out by a cast of well developed characters.

I'm bias, being a 90's gamer myself the culture was hitting all the right notes for me but honestly it's a fine film regardless. The animation and art direction is incredibly aware of it's source material and does such a wonderful job showing homage.

When I first finished the film I was disappointed to not see more "game hopping" and that the supporting characters could've played more sophisticated roles in the main casts development. However, the former would have just turned the movie into a thoughtless montage of references.

Also, I feel that the theme of Ralph's character, of the world NEEDING there to be a "bad guy" wasn't as well explored as it should have been and was ultimately overshadowed/morphed into more rudimentary/boring themes of loneliness and self actualization that embodied Vanellope.

Sure, he's no Ozymandias from Watchmen but it would have been really nice to see him actually accept villainy as a path to righteousness that was more profound than smashing a go-cart.

PS. PHENOMENAL voice acting, Silverman, Lynch and Brayer were truly, truly amazing.

PPS. The music too! I've never heard such wonderful 16bit based songs, Jackman outdid himself. Skrillex's Bug hunt was great too.

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
½

Still, to this day, my favorite Batman animated movie. There's just something perfect about an aging Bruce Wayne played by Conroy and Hamill as a returning Joker. It's also the magic of Bruce Timm's stylization at it's peak of the 90's DC animated era.

What's really incredible though, is the script! I mean the whole thing was written from scratch and yet the dialogue, tone and characterizations are just as good if not better than a lot of existing dark/gritty Batman comic book storylines.

When Batman Beyond first debuted it was gimmicky, old fans hated the idea of replacing Bruce with a hip, young guy to appeal to a younger audience but over the years it's been finely tuned to become a credible cannon of it's own and this movie is the final hurrah celebrating that.

Full of suspense, action, humor in all the right places. I often come back to this movie when I'm in a Batman mood. :]

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

Unlike "Under the Red Hood" (which was a huge disappointment) TDKR lives up to it's legendary comic-book source. The atmosphere of Miller's work is really emphasized here in the stylization and music.

Weller's also a welcome voice actor to the Batman name! Again no Conroy but there's a distinctness to his voice that Greenwood didn't have that I really enjoyed. I think he makes a phenomenal Bruce but there's a "gentlemen" like quality to his voice that he doesn't really bother compensating for when he dons the hood. I wish he'd lower his tone and growl more at times, I mean, he's an angry old man!

The animation is top notch, I mean, not Japanese good but at least the stylization was nice and dark with a use of bold blacks again reminiscent of Bruce Timm's Batman: TAS.

The dialogue and script is perfect, but that's credible to Miller not so much the studio behind the movie; then again I'm glad to see them not fuck up the pacing. :]

A great watch, can't wait for part 2!

Life of Pi
Life of Pi(2012)
½

Why do we choose to believe in reality when it is illusion that keeps us alive? Life of Pi is an insightful look into the power and weakness of faith.

It's interesting because it's the corner stone of all religion yet the movie makes attempts to downplay the latter as much as possible almost as if reclaiming it from "undesirable" connotations of fictional nonsense. A task I find truly admirable.

At times the movie feels drawn out, you can stuff it with as much beautiful cinematography as you want but I'd argue it probably could've been cut down 30 minutes and still retain all of it's points of human resilience, the power of faith and the illusion of divinity.

It's an enjoyable film but for all of it's thought provoking grandeur a lot of the energy is lost in a mire of exhausting existentialism and the mysteries of resilience.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The problem with books turned-to-movies (aside from the typical jackass who actually compares the two even though they're completely different forms of media/entertainment and therefore irrelevant to each other) is condensing the sheer volume of content while retaining pacing and overall finesse.

The Hobbit unfortunately failed this process and is the most miserable example of coherent storytelling I've seen in a long time.

It's not so much a movie as it is an extremely long teaser for the rest of the trilogy as it repeatedly lays groundwork for events to come. It's more premise than plot! Which is terrible especially when the character driven aspect was so shallow (I was bleeding generic "reluctant hero" by the end)

As the group moves from one amazing set piece to the next you keep asking yourself, why or who. Let's take a step back and pretend The Hobbit was just a fantasy movie that came out of nowhere. Now come to the realization of how terrible excessive everything was. We have... 3 giant trolls, a Necromancer with giant spiders, White Orc nemesis guy, Invisible evil forces at work that have the Wizard and High elves on alert, random Mountain giant people having a brawl in the rain, an obese Orc king in a cave...

Excessive right? Give us some breathing room or at least do a better job relating all these series of events because as it stands it's a soulless mish-mash of CGI action sequences I really don't care for.

It's also a rather incoherent ordeal. Why didn't they just FLY on the damn eagles all the way to the mountain from the start? Or even in the end? Why didn't Bilbo just threaten Golem with the sword to let him out instead of having a riddle-war? Why can't Gandalf conjure a simple levitation spell if he's a "great wizard"?

I'm sure if I read the book again some of these questions would be answered but guess what? I paid to watch a movie, not a supplementary visual tribute to a book I happened to read in High School.

But I give this movie 3 stars because it did some things phenomenally that I can really appreciate as an illustrator/artist.

1. The characterization and casting was perfect. The quirks of each dwarf, hobbit, even the orcs! So much individuality and fun!

2. Visual design. From costumes to environments I'm sure the concept art team was top notch. I loved the brown Wizard, his house, the Orc cave, the White orc guy... totally amazing.

3. Stunning action choreography and set pieces. Gorgeous work from Peter Jackson right down to use of color/lighting.

So let's recap. It's good to look at and has spot on design, casting and characters. Unfortunately it's more setup than actual story. Pacing doesn't flow at all and feels excessive. Makes you leave the theater thinking "The hell is next?"... which I guess makes the franchise a big win on the money-making department.

Rise of the Guardians
½

Rise of the Guardians is fundamentally simplistic. From it's formulaic story to it's reluctant hero archetype with a "dark mysterious past" there just isn't much wiggle room for imagination in that department.

A lot of the dialogue also comes out heavy handed, which makes the movie feel like it was written by a couple of whining depressed teenagers, patronizing the older audiences.

But lets take a moment to forget all that because... sometimes formulas/archetypes work. (Paranorman) Sometimes simple storylines are there for purity and can resonate when a film makes a huge enough effort to fill it with little bits and pieces that create it's own voice.

So despite the shit dialogue and trite story, RotG was a beautifully designed, fast pace animated action adventure full of epic magical battles. If I was 12 and saw this I'd think it was freaking awesome and would want to be Jack Frost immediately.\

As a 24 year old man I see an action adventure with some of the most amazing character designs, set pieces and well choreographed battles ever from Dreamworks. Also congrats on them for moving away from excessive pop-culture reference jokes in a modern premise, really.

Earlier I mentioned "little things" that give RoTG it's own voice. THERE WERE SO MANY THINGS that did it for me! The way the Tooth fairies were designed, the way each tooth-case opened up with a person's memories, how Santa was a dual sword wielding badass Russian or how his workers were yetis instead of the elves, how they had a "European division" cameo of the tooth mouse, the Easter island/egg type juggernaut walking around... etc. etc. The list can go on.

Granted... I thought Pitch's design was very unimaginative and boring or like how every nightmare was a evil horse. Or that Jack was just wearing a lame blue hoodie and is essentially created to be the biggest Bishonen lady-killer ever.

It's a good movie maybe even great, for sure. But to say it's amazing or has something for everyone? Nah. Only if you're a sucker for great character/environment design and epic magic battles which I am :]

Total Recall
Total Recall(2012)
½

There's only one reason to watch this movie, the beautifully rendered Sci Fi set-pieces and environments. The whole film is quite engaging on a visual level (the tech is pretty awesom too!) but outside of that... seems to simply fall flat.

An entire cast of boring generic characters (surprisingly, considering the actors involved). No chemistry to speak of and just some of the worst dialogue I've ever seen. The complete lack of charm/wit just doesn't help as we're served a main course of sub-par espionage.

It needed a compelling protagonist (Minority Report) or a bigger play on the whole mind-fuck aspect that kept us second guessing the whole reality of the situation (Inception) or just better humor so it wouldn't take itself so damn seriously (The your wife joke? Not funny the first time, won't be the next 3 times)

Seriously though, I wish there was a concept art book I could buy for the film. Loved the look of the slums and such.

Skyfall
Skyfall(2012)
½

Skyfall is a great movie but for the same reasons, not a great "Bond" movie.

As a Bond film it falls flat on certain levels like subpar action, set pieces and a painfully lackluster plot in terms of espionage. Instead we're introduced to an aging hero looking to retirement with dark childhood pasts and emotional character driven content concluded by a "show down at the mansion" that was reminiscent of the "Home Alone" movies.

Bond's relationship with M is the driving force of Skyfall, even the villain plays a poetic role in reflecting the films overall theme, that "the golden age of espionage has passed" so where does that leave everyone? In many ways exploring these relationships and giving them a closure has successfully opened the franchise up to another decade of action packed shenanigans to come.

I mean I get it, everyone wants a humanized character these days. Make them gritty, realistic and relatable! But if we were to take a step back and look at the franchise we would realize that's not what Bond is about, it ends up feeling somewhat contrive, like a gimmick to not only celebrate the franchise's anniversary (all the old-school references, derp!) but to please a more modern generation.

But "selling out" aside I believe a lot of good can come out of what was done here. The villain was interesting, quirky and fun! Bardem delivered a tremendous performance. Same can be said about the new Q!

It's just a little disappointing to see so much entertainment value, action, sex and fun (trademarks of the franchise) sacrificed in the name of unsolicited "character development". I'm sure there could have been a healthier balance.

The Man With the Iron Fists
½

At times it's "so bad it's good" but more than often.. it's just bad.

The plot is just terribly messy, characters were cheese and the dialogue? You can't tell whether RZA was aware of the parody or if he was actually trying.

The film BARELY stands as a martial arts flick, let alone something with substance. Often I wonder how someone with such little talent gets the funding for something with such high production values.

Oh wait I know, be a famous GANGSTA RAPPA FROM THE HOOD.

I give it an extra half star only because I'm a sucker for martial arts and as an artist, I appreciated a lot of the costume design, environments and cinematography. Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe might've also had something to do with it.

Dr Seuss' The Lorax

Talk about bad storytelling, the plot was split down the middle with little to no encompassing relationships. The Lorax played little to no role, the protagonist and his quest for "love" is about as real as the trees littered in the city of whateverthefuck. The theme is delivered with such... heavy handed simplicity you can't help but feel like patronized. (especially after seeing it done so well with Wall-e)

The music? Forgettable. I'm also embarrassed for the attempted "awe" factor with all the annoyingly voiced forest animals.

All in all I feel sorry for the talented animation/art team that had to work on this piece of crap.

Take This Waltz
½

Take This Waltz is, in every way possible, a brutally honest and authentic study of love free of cliches and Hollywood nonsense.

So little is said but the film resonates from one shot to the next as this emotional coaster of uncertainty openly reveals the fleeting desires and looming pains of what it means to chase after something so fantastical.

Margo is inherently annoying, silly even! But she's a believer and if you're going to judge her for that then this film isn't for you. Her entire journey of self discovery, fear, insecurities.... should be free of the viewer's morality but ironically the ambiguity of it is a core theme to her story.

The film's engagingly thought provoking with it's subtleties from start to finish so I had no trouble staying intrigued. But I also found the slow pacing elemental, it reflected what it feels like to endure Margo's position as a tormented seeker.

Also I'd like to note the open ending. I would have felt cheated if an absolute was given to her quest for happiness, because ultimately, it should never end.

Finally, the filmography is simply beautiful. Which is fitting for a subject with such idealized elegance.

ParaNorman
ParaNorman(2012)
½

Paranorman takes a recycled coming-of-age story, a cliche horror premise, a cast of boring archetypes and turns it into fresh heartfelt adventure full of charm and laughs.

Loveable characters, sharp script, and just... and overall feeling of honest heart looms in the air as Norman overcomes loneliness to save his town.

It goes to show that reiteration doesn't necessarily mean a bad product. That formulas are there because they work and that genre bending can never really go wrong.

It also features some of the best character design, animation style, and storyboard work I've seen in a long time. A truly enjoyable experience!

The Cabin in the Woods

Could we just stop to give a round of applause to Whedon & Goddard, for consciously choosing a genre with formulaic constraints of age old cliche and nonsense... then turning it into a clever, hilarious practical joke and quite possibly the best comedic horror ever?

Honestly it's perfect. Even when it's working with existential and profound elements like magic, gods and demons it never ever takes itself remotely seriously enough and let's the distilled cast and themes deliver an entertaining experience.

The mystery, the wonder, the fun! This will be the go to movie I recommend for friends if they ever ask me to suggest a horror for them.

It's sad to see critics actually giving it a higher % than the masses, perhaps it goes over the head of adolescents who can't appreciate a good script, intriguing premise/plot and a fun time.

The Expendables 2
½

A bunch of big dumb old action heroes making a big dumb action movie.

It knows what it is... if anything, I wish the action was better! More creative set pieces and all that. Instead of the whole... straight up point-and-shoot or military-style-hand-to-hand combat from one group of fodder to another.

About halfway through I just got incredibly numb to it all. The guns and explosions. Bad one liners. Self deprecating old guys.

Ugh, snore.

Moonrise Kingdom
½

The whole experience was somewhat disappointing for me, felt far from Anderson's best work and I feel the the camera-style from Fantastic Mr. Fox just didn't do the live action much justice.

The theme of young love and escapism often gets muddled in the relationships of it's supporting cast members. Along with the disjointed pacing I often felt like I was forcing interconnections between all the characters.

There's an air of unconvincing emotion between the lovers that are Gilman and Hayward. Maybe because child actors tend to suck but there was no chemistry between the two. It was like watching awkward robots poke at each other when in reality, young love is all about unnecessary passion; innocence? Please, I know little boys.

It also appeared to bolster half the charm, wit and fun that all his previous works flourished with. By no means a bad film, it's quite sweet and ultimately coherent but c'mon. He's done better.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Everything comes full circle in Ultimatum as we explore the origin of Jason's being.

Those well versed with spy-films will find the plot rather standard boasting muddled moralities, conspiracies and a liberal political tone. It makes most of it's "bangs" again with the franchise's trademark fast-pace action, grand chase scenes and intimate camera work.

However, it's likely the most finely tuned of the trilogy, with a great balance of emotion, drama, thrills and twists. It works tremendously well as a standalone production and even better as a franchise finale.

Scratch James Bond, give me more Jason Bourne!

The Bourne Supremacy
½

A really solid sequel, with a more complex espionage-plot while boasting the same fast-paced set pieces/action that made the first so successful. It's both engaging and thrilling though-and-through.

The characters may feel synthetic only if you haven't seen the first film where a lot of Bourne's self-discovery and humanization took place, I guess the director didn't want to waste time repeating these particular themes.

Supremacy plays out as a revenge-trip-turned-conspiracy film, and in a word? It's great! Extra half a star for the restrictions of the genre (Spy-film) and the fact that it's a sequel.

The Bourne Identity

Bourne is the American Bond.

Not only is this film smart for the genre it's forced to work in, its protagonist has dimension, and the story? Just as mysterious and thrilling as the action. Truly an engaging experience that transcends the average expectations of an "action flick"

The Bourne Legacy
½

Well directed and acted but my god is the plot disgustingly thin in contrast to the earlier films. When the movie ended I was convinced that I was only half-way through. Then suddenly, BAM it was over? What?

It's one drawn out chase scene loosely stitched together with vignettes and flashbacks without the sense of mystery and intrigue that made Damon's run so enjoyable. Disappointing :/

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Easily worse movie of the year. Not only is the story poorly written the humor constantly falls flat. It also recycles themes from the first 3 without so much as blinking.

I almost feel sorry for the art/animation team that had the displeasure of working on this piece of shit. Eesh.

Ted
Ted(2012)
½

It's your run-of-the-mill coming-of-age film for adults. Y'know, 30-40 something year old who needs to grow up for a girl who falls in love with? Like, every Apatow movie ever made? Yea.

Except this one isn't made by Apatow but from our good friend Seth Macfarlane. The man behind Family Guy and the like. Honestly, nothing very spectacular about the film, it doesn't even really play THAT much on it's gimmicky premise (live teddy bear) by using the pretense that no one gives a shit about a LIVE STUFFED ANIMAL BROUGHT ON BY MAGIC.

With the religious and scientific repercussions aside everything is very stereotypical from character portrayal (easy-going "irresponsible" guy who's feeling uneasy about commitment, best-friend who just wants everything to stay the same, and girlfriend who "wants more") to the plot (change for woman or not to change for woman?!) to the resolution (best friend has epiphany, that it's better for everyone to change and be happy)

If the humor and high concept of the bear doesn't keep your interest there's really not much to look forward to.

The Dark Knight Rises
½

It would have been impossible for TDKR to live up to it's predecessor, but even with that weighing on your mind one can still walk away from this film feeling impressed if not thoroughly satisfied.

Unforunately at this point in Nolan's Batman trilogy I have to nitpick in order to deliver any sort of criticism. (it's really, that good)

There's just far too many redemption/conclusive tropes running along the story's overall plot. I know it's meant to be a finale for the trilogy but c'mon, everything stumbles down a highly predictable road of "character development".

And as well written as the script may be, Alfred and Bruce's back-and-forth just gets redundant by their third confrontation where they essentially reiterate their relationship over and over. "BE BRUCE WAYNE, I LOVE YOU.' "NO, I WANT TO BE BATMAN. THE CITY NEEDS BATMAN". It doesn't help that these scenes are delivered with so much excess dialogue that it ends up feeling unnatural.

But in all seriousness, it's a great film and as a Batman comics fan it was rewarding to see that the plot pulled from some of my favorite scenes/plots in the books (No Man's Land story arch, the scene where Bane break's Batman's back, Talia Al Ghul's romantic involvement with Bruce, etc.)

This Batman trilogy went out the door with it's head held high. Great stuff.

Batman: Year One
½

Atrocious voice acting from Mckenzie and numerous support characters completely ruins the experience. Also I've read the books, the film chose to draw out scenes that weren't meant to be drawn out making the pacing quite odd.

After watching this... bland reproduction of mediocrity I had to go back and read the books to remind myself why it's one of the greatest Batman stories ever told.

I don't get how they can mess up something so badly when the template is ALL there to work from.

The Station Agent

People connecting with one another, in the most quaint and mundane of places. I won't deny there's a sweet intrigue between our protagonists, their complex relationships and how they gradually move from point A to B and finally C in their lives.

But honestly, there's nothing about the premise that's genuinely enthralling, it's painfully character driven with no consequence. Perhaps I'm desensitized, but I feel like their story could have been told in a premise of greater grandeur, as it stands it's almost one dimensional.

Oh woe is me! I am a dwarf! Boo hoo I lost my child and I see you as him! My dad and I own a shitty coffee truck but I have a positive outlook on life! Look at us relate to each other in one boring set piece to the next! Please...

Hysteria
Hysteria(2012)
½

Funny and charming but tiresome. Hysteria has an interesting premise but very little hanging from it's coattails.

The film garnishes most of it's laughs by drawing contrast from the audience's 21st century sentimentality. Unfortunately, It's a one trick pony that soon loses it's punch about halfway through.

What we're then left with to enjoy is a most generic period-romance that's sooo formulaic and exhaustingly familiar you can't help but feel little to no effort was put into the movie at all.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Spider-man 1 and 2 were great for their time, and in many ways were the charming, fun embodiment of what Spider-man has always been.

Let's get the facts out of the way, from a creative standpoint a reboot was completely unnecessary. As terrible as Spider-man 3 was the franchise was still salvageable if the producing team had decided to stay with it. But with Raimi and Mcguire leaving the franchise this project was more or less inevitable (assuming the world can't live without a Spidey blockbuster, I know I can't.)

TASM is... a success. As a reboot working within constraints of immediate source material and themes, Webb ended up giving us a product that doesn't just "work" but is actually relatively fresh.

Having re-watched the original trilogy right before seeing TASM, the main difference you will notice is an obviously more gritty or realistic approach to film's entirety. There's also an enhanced sophistication in Parker's growth from adolescence and his interactions with love interest Gwen Stacy appear to carry more dramatic weight.

Yes, the formula, drama, themes, characterizations and all that are all terribly familiar but you simply can't make a Spider-man origin movie without repeating it's key fundamentals. There's is no crime in taking a classic story and polishing it up with darker/modern tones and storytelling, is there?

I don't really know how I feel about taking the colorful, fantastical charm out of the Spider-man-movies to trade in for more of a Nolan-Batman feel... but with Garfield's awkward shenanigans and other aspects of adolescent humor, to say this reiteration is without charm would be a stretch.

I can analyse all day, but when all is said and done there's one truth and that's TASM is an enthralling, fun and visually stunning beginning to what I hope will be a promising franchise.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
½

Madagascar is a sub-par entertainment franchise for children, that being said the third instalment won me over with it's stupidly uplifting themes, well choreographed animation and what can only be described as pure "fun"

Yes it's visually eviscerating, but appropriately so! I don't get why people have a problem with what they would call "sensory overload", I mean really, look at what you signed on for, Madagascar 3. The people that brought you "I like to move it, move it."

I'm sure producers are well aware that it's not some sort of... beautiful, poetic, well-crafted, emotional Pixar production. They grab the fact that it's an obtuse, frantic, explosive fury of pop-culture references, one-liners and constant over the top humor, then throttles it for our pleasure!

And sure, they're marginally cliche but the characters also have plenty of heart in what feels like a very fitting end to their misadventures.

Also, the antagonist? Captain Chantal Dubois? Quite possibly one of the most wonderfully animated villains I've seen in a long time. The way she moves, talks, everything. Just wow.

Brave
Brave(2012)
½

Not the medieval fantasy "epic" I was expecting but works quite well as an emotionally charged family drama. Brave isn't about the grandeur of conquest, slaying beasts or even really magic. It's about the often unspoken love/understanding between parent and child, and really, that's pretty grand in itself.

That being said, it still falls short as a Pixar production (felt more like something out of Dreamworks) There's an excess of sprawling lore, subplots or supporting characters that often come off as add-ons. Many of these aspects needed a more encompassing role that perpetuated the story.

Ah, the story! Brave is very character-relationship driven. It's entire plot plays dress-up around Elinor and Merida. Which begs the question, why isn't the queen on the cover poster as well? Why didn't she get more backstory/development? It's like the writers were torn between a fantasy-adventure from the POV of an attractive, strong teenage lead (for obvious marketing reasons) and a Mother-Daughter fluff piece.

The entire endeavour feels forced, as the studio attempted to stray from formula and combine genres, (which they have pulled off in the past) but what we ended up this time was "Freaky-Friday" + "Scottish medieval fantasy" without a very powerful voice.

As always, top notch loveable characterizations and animation. Really though, I don't expect anything less from Pixar at this point in that particular department.

Brave is very good (great even!) but definitely not Wall-e or UP.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Two words. Production values.

This movie had visual iconography in the bag and is absolutely gorgeous to look at! Mad props to the art team that put this together for us.

However, the final product is ultimately undone by the titular character (Kristen Stewart) and her wooden acting, complete lack of romantic chemistry, sporadic character growth and a rather... unresolved script?

The overall plot treads in a familiar formula that works and many characters have some charm but a lot of subplots and motives of the cast either seem excessive or under developed. For example, what was the point of Claflin's character if not a competing love interest to Hemsworth's? If the dwarves serve as the protectors/guardians then where does that leave the Huntsman and childhood friend?

I also feel that Stewart truly did not deliver her role as the "pure, beautiful messiah" that she was meant to be. Her importance both in magical power and political influence for the rebels was just terribly underplayed.

All in all, there's too many things to complain about. Rather unfortunate as it's a beautiful piece of medieval fantasy to look at.

Prometheus
Prometheus(2012)
½

Ridley proves that less is more, although mired in questions of generic Sci-Fi existentialism you soon realize it's not really about that. It's about suspense and bizarre character motives/contrasts coming together in a mosaic of thrills.

Why were we created? Why did they want to destroy us? Who are they? What's the secret to eternal life? My god, who cares! Just enjoy the ride. In the end, these questions aren't meant to be answered and that's sort of the point. Keep asking the questions.

A well crafted thrill-ride played out by great actors, dazzling effects and gorgeous cinematography. Disappointed? Not me. It's everything I hoped it would be and in some cases? More.

Men in Black III

Not half as witty or hilarious as it thinks it is but by no means a terrible movie, just not a great one.

The problem really lies in the outdated gag-humour which would probably have had me burst out laughing back in the 90's but most of it falls flat and just looks like Smith having verbal diarrhea.

The plot isn't horrible, time-travel is a Scifi staple and for a franchise as outrageously high-concept as MIB, it works! What didn't work was the entire cast of throw-away support characters that were simply underused or forgettable as we move from one set piece to another. The only one that held a remotely pivotal role was Stuhlbarg (Griffin) who was introduced 2/3 through the film!

Also, the thing that made the first MIB so successful was the "oooh" and "aaah" aspect of it's fictitious lore. There really was nothing "new" to look forward to in the world of Alien-Human coexistence here. I would've liked to see something like Alien-Politics or Space-travel/Air-travel parody or Alien-gangs forming in the city or... I don't know, something!

Finally, as a throw-back film you would have expected more cameos (where's the talking pug?) or at least some sort of reference to previous instalments. I don't know, that might just be me and my own cravings of self indulgence.

I nice little pass time, but don't expect your socks to be knocked off.

Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows(2012)
½

Burton's latest live action instalment is more or less a disappointment of disjointed events. It's unfortunate really, as it had all the quirky characters and charming little scenes that you'd expect from the guy (It's silly and fun!) but it was built on none of the poetic or dramatic finesse that made his other works so successful.

I don't know, maybe he just got lazy but there were far too many inconsequential subplots and motives in play making for a lack of cohesion.

The visuals and themes are undoubtedly there, the actors? All very well versed in their roles (especially Green!) and there's a moment where Tim manages to find an awkward happy place between sexy and hilarious.

But yes, despite all these positives there's just too much not working out for this films overall framework of storytelling.

Marvel's The Avengers

I'm a Marvel fan, so when I stepped out of the theater after watching this remarkable movie jumping around like a fanboy... I let myself sleep before writing a coherent review in the morning.

And you know what? It's still five stars in my books. There is no way Whedon could have made a better Avengers movie given the variables of a superhero-team-up premise. The very idea is so silly and cliche that I'm sure anyone else put on the helm would have produced another Michael-Bay-esque tragedy.

It is simply a perfect balance of character development, drama, humor and beautifully well choreographed action. The chemistry between these archetypes simply work and it's time and time accentuated throughout the entire course of the film both in dialogue and physical interaction.

As a Marvel fan I can also tell you that the characters are perfectly acted and depicted by a spectacular script/cast. Every single one of them just hits that perfect note.

If there were ANY gripes or inconsistencies that bugged me was Banner's characterization and how he seemingly went from a suicidal man with self-control issues to a full-blown super-powerhouse with a complete handle on his mind in an instant. Did he have an epiphany off-screen?

This movie is a grand spectacle, a remarkable feat of pure entertainment that still manages to have sufficient "depth" to not feel like a little-boy's wet dream.

The Tourist
The Tourist(2010)
½

Critics have nothing on The Tourist because it seemed to fly right by their heads that at it's core, The Tourist is a fluff of ROMEDY and should be judged as such.

The espionage premise plays a huge backseat role in what is one of the most well acted/scripted romantic comedies I've seen in awhile. The chemistry between Depp's initial awkward persona and Jolie's astute super-spy makes for a really charming watch and simply resonates as they stumble into the oddity that is love.

I mean, let's look at other recent films that tackled this particular genre. There's Cruise's glossy, over-the-top cliche-filled "Knight & Day" and Kutcher's "Killers" which was literally the same product but with even worse execution.

If you can honestly make that comparison and say The Tourist wasn't better then you either have an amateur sense of humor or an unhealthy obsession with explosions/action.

It's cute, romantic, charming and at the same time somewhat elegant in that it plays with very classical spy-themes and archetypes.

The Hunger Games
½

Gary Ross. For the love of god. ZOOM OUT. I don't care if you're trying to emphasize a first-person perspective of the book because you're directing a movie and without fully utilizing things like establishing shots you're diminishing the intimacy and emotion of your close-ups. (which make up 90% of your damn film)

Amateur camera work aside THG is a heavily character driven piece of teen fluff mired with contrive romance, static action, cliche themes of satire and is about as thrilling as it is anti-climatic. If it weren't for Lawrence's stellar performance I just might have stepped out of the theater.

There are so many aspects of this movie that simply wasn't given an opportunity to breathe. (Instead screentime was given to close-ups of Lawrence biting her lip, breathing heavily and other nonsense. We get it, you're nervous.) From the world's fictional lore, to the massive cast of characters to the set-pieces of action... You can really tell that there was a lot of source material from the books that didn't translate very well over.

As an artist I also found major inconsistencies with the art direction. The fashion aesthetics are completely different from those of architecture/technology. The way the Rococo clashes with the Modern palettes and shapes is glaring making the fictional universe even less believable than it already is.

If anything, the film just felt too damn long setting up for the next two movies and I can't wait when actual compelling characters/relationships come in to play.

Ocean's Thirteen
½

Thirteen returns to the boring/safe formula of every heist film ever without the fresh stylish take or all the character driven chemistry that made the first two so enjoyable. Don't fret though, the comedy is still sharp and set pieces more glamorous than ever but there's just no heart to the finale-like project.

With the whole crew coming back to get revenge for an old mate there's not much emotion involved and it's just an unsolicited collection of witty humor at the expense of another Vegas shark.

Don't get me wrong, I love watching the Ocean's crew work but the plot simply didn't have the drama or consequential emotion of the first movie. Insubstantial, mildly amusing, well-acted entertainment

Ocean's Twelve
½

Nay sayers don't dislike the actual movie which is in many ways was just as stylish, hilarious and directed as the first but they seem to be infuriated at the self indulgent nature of the whole ordeal.

Which makes me scratch my head, who gives a shit? What is this, some sort of political emotional debate on the principals of franchises in film making? Get out.

Oceans Twelve is an incredibly, fun, working sequel but it's important to stress that it's not so much an elaborate heist film as it is a mosaic of comedic character driven epilogues.

As smug as it is loosely strung together at times it all eventually comes together and I have to give Nolfi credit for not creating another formulaic heist film about bringing a team together to do "one big job", rather, bringing in this larger than life "Nightfox" character and Europol love interest Lahiri to really shake things up giving the entire plot a sort of unpremeditated fluidity.

I can see how it's lazy, as the audience is finally clued into the events that took place between gaps without so much as a hint that they took place and in the end, these big reveals just feel cheap.

It's hardly perfect but entertaining as hell. The only thing I don't get is how did Matt Damon's character have no idea what was going on when he was shown pulling the egg from the train?

Ocean's Eleven
½

The first of a trilogy of what I believe to be the most revered 21st century heist films, Oceans Eleven is well acted, stylish, unpredictable, witty, hilarious with credible character emotions and chemistry.

It's not just the fact that there's so much star powered included but it gives each character enough screentime to really work their chemistry. It's a smart, fun script working with an escapist premise grounded by real life potentialities.

A whole lot of fun packaged into multiple characters with plenty of personality and back-story further accentuated by a suspenseful well directed story with plenty of style.

Tower Heist
Tower Heist(2011)
½

Pretty solid for a heist film but the humor's not exactly as in your face or outright hilarious as a comedy should feel (especially one with stars like Stiller and Murphy who're both well versed in the genre.)

It's a shame because the film had plenty of heart, drama, a solid story (though not as multi-layered as you'd hope) and a great cast that was grossly underused. (I wanted to see more of Jamaican lady and just everyone!). Still, with films like Oceans Eleven setting the bar you can't help but feel that an iconic, rememberable aspect of the movie just wasn't there.

By no means a terrible movie, it delivers enough laughs and suspense to be worth the watch but just doesn't really carry through with enough gusto/chemistry to leave an impression.

Safe House
Safe House(2012)

I'm not incredibly well versed with the spy/espionage genre but even I wasn't very surprised or taken by the film's painfully obvious story. There wasn't much dimension built on top of the formula either!

I mean, a little halfway through the film and there was still no plot development whatsoever, just unimaginative chase scenes following the next. When things finally start rolling you've pretty much guessed right off the bat who the players are and their motives leaving very little suspense or drama.

In the grand scheme of things, it's a well-acted action film but with a terribly predictable plot, boring set pieces, poorly prioritized pacing and two dimensional characters with no chemistry.

21 Jump Street
½

It's great to see a successful Action Comedy that Jonah Hill took such a huge part in. He has slowly but surely slithered out of supporting roles and is really becoming a staple comedian of our time.

The humor is smart and top notch, working with great cross-generation conventions ("It's cool to like comic books and be eco-aware now?"), with plenty of other jokes that although tasteless in genre feels fresh in the way it's delivered. Not to mention, it tastefully calls back to it's predecessor with Depp making a well executed appearance.

I will argue that the film does lack heart, with many of it's relationships and themes of friendship/romance largely formulaic/cliche, I wasn't really convinced at any point that these characters were genuine human beings.

It's a great buddy-cop film that simply blends into the "High School" premise. Of course, if you hate both of these genres I wouldn't bother with it. However, set your pretentious intellect aside and you'll find something that's simply entertaining.

John Carter
John Carter(2012)
½

I had no expectations walking into the theatre for what seemed to be another run-of-the-mill--clich-action-adventure-epic and I must say, I walked out somewhat satisfied.

First, let's get the bad out of the way.

There are a lot of little things that ultimately bogged down the experience that is "John Carter" the main being... John Carter himself! Taylor Kitsch performed terribly and wasn't able to channel an ounce of charm or charisma no matter what type of emotion or line he was meant to deliver. Considering his role as protagonist this really drove the nail in the coffin for me.

Normally I'm a huge fan of movies that have character driven content but the motives of just about every party in play was a little convoluted, not indecipherable but annoying enough that you'll notice some hiccups in logic. The romance was also meant to be a huge driving force behind the plot and it was absolutely atrocious, like watching Star War's Anakin Skywalker and Padme all over again.

The pacing was all over the place, you can tell someone took all the pivotal parts of a lengthy book and loosely knit them together in a rush. These mosaic of events eventually end up feeling like a series of episodes in a TV show rather than a carefully crafted film. There's no finesse and structure to keep the audience in check.

Finally, the dialogue could have used tightening up. In fact, this probably applies to the entirety of the script as there's a constant "dragging on" feeling. For every moment where something works you'll find two other parts that come off either terribly unconvincing or just tacky.

So what did Stanton do right?

Well, the entire experience is a very nice throwback to 90's live-action fantasies like Hercules and Xena. You'll also notice the bits of humor thrown in that make the cliches and melodrama much, much easier to swallow along the way. From beginning to end if you're not entertained by small chuckles, you're falling in love with the cheeky, somewhat developed supporting cast (Alien-dog, Sola, Tars Tarkas etc.) or you're staring in awe at the visuals.

Ah, the visuals! As an artist I can tell you immediately that the art direction and concepts are stunning and a wonder to look at. From vehicle, environment, cityscape to character design there's just so much that comes together in this fictional universe that's pleasing to the eye.

If you enjoyed the formulaic cliche action adventure shenanigans of early 90's Live-action fantasy TV shows like Hercules or Xena: Warrior Princess, or early Indiana Jones films, or The Mummy franchise, or even James Cameron's Avatar... this is an entertaining watch and may be worth your money.

Let the Right One In

Incredibly fresh and inspiring, Let the Right One In is an intimate character driven piece of supernatural focused on friendship and romance.

Having enjoyed the remake more is not to say that the original didn't have it's own little set of merits

It's definitely less engaging than the remake with more respectable pacing but the most notable difference between the two films was the antagonist, whom in the Swedish original witnessed the death of two close friends before making his way to exact vengeance on the "viscous" little girl. Lacke then becomes the embodiment of justice and conflict that is a result of her monstrous existence.

However, I feel that his additional journey, dimension as a character and subsequent death sends a moral message that's overly provoking with no consequence, not only that but deters from the films core protagonists and their relationship. Something that the remake streamlines, focuses and even builds upon further.

Also, for a 2008 film the horror and suspense was awfully stilted and even felt dated with no real play on lighting or camera dynamics for additional atmosphere. Simply put, it wasn't very frightening visually and as a horror movie... that's kind of a problem.

Let Me In
Let Me In(2010)

People inherently hate remakes, they feel betrayed that someone has to come along to revamp existing material for a younger or different audience to appreciate, as if implying what they loved was now obsolete. Three words, get over it.

For the record, I watch plenty of subtitled foreign works without dismay (Grew up on Anime) and having taken the time to watch both back-to-back I actually prefer this one over the original for various reasons.

Most notably the way Reeve's reproduction unfolds is more enthralling. It commands a much darker, grittier atmosphere and uses more dynamic camera work where necessary all of which helps the horror aspect of the genre substantially. The cast and characters also feel better represented with Mcphee apparently more fragile and sophisticated accompanied by Moretz who's physically smaller and baby-faced for further contrast to her viscous counterpart form. Even the supporting "bullies" were abundantly believable in their aggressive performance! There are many other changes that I found more agreeable to accentuating the films core relationship (The antagonist to a cop, the symbiotic relationship between her former human and how he related to Owen, Abby's aged writing, love for puzzles, lack of shoes, the immediate combustion and dismissal of her turned victim etc.) but I don't want to drone on.

Comparisons accounted, Let Me In is a masterpiece of poetic romance carefully crafted into a well-told horror-suspense of complete, utter tragic beauty. The dark, monstrous themes are perfectly juxtaposed by the fragile innocence that they're contextualized in making for a very bizarre yet fitting watch.

Reeve's focused and intimate camera work concurs with the character driven storyline completely exposing the raw emotion between the leading characters (Moretz and Mcphee), their relationship often transcends what little relevance this film has to do with morality. It's not really even about the supernatural premise though which serves as nothing more than a vehicle for intrigue, the core is about loneliness, friendship and our capacity to really comprehend the "simplicity" of love.

A much needed addition to the "vampire" movement perpetuated by awful media like Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries etc.

Buried
Buried(2010)

I don't get it.

I don't get why a movie should be rewarded for telling a story without actually using the visual potential of it's own medium.

I don't get how anyone can enjoy spending over an hour watching Ryan Reynolds scream, cry and incompetently handle his situation while trying to make me feel sympathetic in every contrive manner possible (I have kids! I'm an innocent contractor! I'm getting fired right before I die! My mom doesn't remember me!)

Maybe it's a film that can only be appreciated by claustrophobics or some sort of political/social allegory for victims in Iraq but I just couldn't get "into" the box with Reynolds on any level.

Honestly, I found the whole ordeal quite funny. It's basically Ryan wiggling in a box and then dying while the audience goes "OMG WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO HIM", like watching an escape artist wiggle his way out of a straight jacket over a shark tank... except that doesn't take over an hour and probably has less political/emotional bullshit connotations.

Seems like critics will praise anything that'll try unconventional stylization or direction.

Wedding Crashers

Stupidly formulaic rom-com full of two dimensional characters. You've got your sensitive guy, your engaged leading female who's not-so-sure about her arrangement and your jerk rival to-be-husband who's a big "bad guy". Complete stranger comes swooping out of no where and "liberates" her from a woeful marriage? Please.

Ugh, just too damn "perfectly" sweet and fake. For what adequate entertainment value it has in the humor department it has even less to offer in emotional depth and character complexities.

The Invincible Iron Man

Too awful to critique, really. Not only is the story a bastardization of his origin but the animation is absolutely awful. There's some unexpected attention to character complexities and relationships, but outside of that this film completely fails in every way possible. Why would Marvel put money on such crap?

30 Minutes or Less
½

Not very funny or smart, 30 min or less is a prime example of mediocre, soulless comedy. It's unfortunate to see Eisenberg work on something so poorly conceived but I guess with McBride in the mix you know you're in for a terrible ride of lowbrow.

The movie cruises along a fine line of slapstick chuckle-gags and petty insults that could have been watchable if the characters had an ounce of emotional substance for us to care about. The core of the film needed better grounding whether it be exploring their frienships, romances, or daddy-issues. Just SOMETHING.

Slightly amusing, but overall? A waste of time.

In Time
In Time(2011)
½

This movie had no idea what it was trying to do with itself, for half of the film there is no real message, theme, or plot; just the blundering character driven shenanigans of Salas's whining existence in a systematic/economically run future .

Then, when it finally hits the ground running the film still isn't quite certain where it wants to run to. A mosaic of loosely and largely irrelevant characters trying to tell us something vague and ultimately obvious, the system is broken; life is unfair and you shouldn't waste any of your 'time' watching this film.

Half a star for trying to tackle a bold concept/premise, but no more for it's appalling execution.

Also, I'm going to have to shoot myself if another "witty" time-pun is made.

The Expendables

Big, dumb and stupid. The only way I could have possibly been entertained was if my IQ went down a notch and I had an unhealthy obsession with testosterone driven men.

As an action film it really barely does the job done, which begs the question as to why so many stars signed up on such a lackluster project.

The humor lacks wit, the action lacks style and the characters are a bunch of outdated archetypes.

Half the movie it should have been.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Good, but not great. There were a LOT of things I disagreed with about this movie. Most notably, stylistic choice, tone, and just an overall lack of sophistication.

It also felt like an overwhelming excuse to perpetuate the hype towards the upcoming 2012 Avengers movie, seemed like little heart and detail was put into this production.

For one, it's set in WWII yet makes no attempt to use many iconic scenes and events to solidify itself. Nor does it approach obvious themes of freedom and liberation, nor does it really engage the relationship between CA and RS, both super soldiers spawned as weapons of war, and nor does it even attempt to embody the serious, dark undertones of the time.

Producers said no, instead we're given a tacky and even generic superhero story with a two dimensional villain that commands a cheesy blue-ray-gun wielding army bent on taking over the world. Or destroying it? Why? Who knows. For a simple minded demographic I suppose. Also, I doubt Hitler put THAT much funding into a project without being really close to RS, what with him running out of resources with the "real"? war. Oh plotholes, I won't start.

Also, I'm not sure if it was poor acting on Evan's part or the script but his growth from "zero-to-hero"? came all too quickly, there could have been significant scenes where he doubted his leadership and his worth after the transformation; especially since Bucky's death. (He didn't have ONE dramatic emotional outburst in the entire movie) Also, how the hell did he become such a good combatant? Did I miss a scene where he received martial arts training?

Just not a very compelling ride that misses a lot of mature possibilities with its setting. I mean, the best part was CA's little ride into mainstream propaganda and back. An amusing and insightful display into the importance of media at the time, it needed more of that, more stuff like that.

The movie barely tickled the "entertainment" center of my brain, with many underwhelming action sequences that are very standard for our time. What's the point of this if it can't even really serve as an outstanding humorous action-flick?

Oh right, a segue for the 2012 Avengers movie. Duh.

The Adventures of Tintin

Disappointing! Stiff dialogue, boring characterizations, static emotion... there's not much going for Tin Tin other than the gloriously directed action sequences that run through a mosaic of carefully planned set-pieces.

It's unfortunate really, all the film needed was a little bit of charm and some generic Spielberg-heartwarming-formula and it could have all come together.

Also, how the hell is this kid so good at everything and a complete straight-shooter to boot? Is he a Barbie doll?

Dazzling visuals won't take you all the way but it does win big points in that category; and hey! Nick Frost/Simon Pegg help.

Red
Red(2010)

For some bizarre reason, when you shove a generic action film through a blender for retired folks and old people it suddenly becomes entertainment gold.

Maybe it's the incredibly wonderful cast/characters or the offbeat humor, but it works! Besides, it's really hard to hate on a film that doesn't even want to be taken seriously with all the necessary leisurely ingredients.

It's smart, fun, exciting, stylish and hilarious. The qualities that any shallow action film should try to embody, a thoroughly great experience.

Rushmore
Rushmore(1998)
½

Being a big fan, I can't believe it took me this long to come around and see Anderson's Rushmore.

Dreaming big and aiming high is a dangerous business but when things go awry it's important to land on one's feet. Coming of age films with teen protagonists seem to be a dime a dozen but obviously not when put in Wes's hands.

Nothing in this film works off of cliches or stereotypes, in fact, you would probably say it's over-the-top-zany. What makes it a truly great film though, is that it's all relentlessly grounded by authentic emotion.

Great cast/characters, romance, off-beat humor and resolutions; to me, probably one of Anderson's more rounded accessible works.

Moneyball
Moneyball(2011)

I wanted to like this film, but the dead-pan pacing, focus on baseball, overall subtle direction and my general lack of interest in Pitt's character (which is the driving force of Moneyball) just didn't cut it for me.

I get the movie, I really do, it just caters to an incredibly niche audience that could have easily been dissolved by exploring another character or two and their struggles with the premise (why wasn't there a more intimate look on Peter Brand or maybe even a deeper relationship between him and Beane?)

Overall, a good film but far from great in my books.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
½

A truly satisfying action film. Creative set pieces, quick relentless action/humor, a plot sophisticated enough to keep you from drooling and fast paced as hell.

The only thing that bugged me was the villain, or at least, complete lack thereof. Whoever he was, stayed merely as "the bad guy" which is rare in this day and age where "everyone has a story"

Perhaps the sacrifice was worth it though, the chemistry between all the team members and their general development most likely got more screen time as a result and boy, was it worth it! Pegg, Cruise, Renner, Patton... each played flawlessly.

The MI series may not have a flawless track record like say... the Bourne films but it's definitely an action-franchise to be reckoned with.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
½

Arguably better than the first in a few ways but as with any film that relies on style and an unorthodox portrayal of a "classic" character it burns itself a bit too quickly by re-regurgitating the exact same substance as the first film that made it "fresh"

A film clearly meant to entertain with it's adrenaline action, humor and overall tone. It gets the job done safely, it's exactly what you'd want/expect if you were a fan of the first film.

It sort of sabotages itself in that way though, Holmes and Watson's pseudo-homosexual tangents with each other, constant giggles... there's no time for the rest of the cast to breath any emotion into the piece and even the great, dramatic ending is abolished for the sake of laughs and potential sequels.

It's a fun movie but soulless and boring at the same time. Also, old-school Holmes fans will probably still be whining at the so-called "bastardization" of their favorite fictional intellect.

Hugo
Hugo(2011)
½

The film seems to stumble a bit before it finally falls into place with its themes of self-discovery and purpose. It also feels to abruptly split into two near the final acts, almost deviously jamming two irrelevant motifs (Butterfield's quest and Kingsley's past) together to force a coherently pieced story. Followed by a large supporting cast that barely perpetuate the core story... Hugo is robbed of a perfect score for me.

However, please don't let any of that deter you from watching this great production. It's actually quite close to what I would imagine to be perfection in a film dealing with "innocence" and "growing up". Not only are all the actors truly impressive (young and old alike), but the script/dialogue, symbolism/allegory are all so very well crafted. Followed by excellent characterizations full of alluring quirks... it all comes together.

Probably one of the best films in its genre, I highly recommend this over Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and all those other highly praised "children's" blockbusters.

Immortals
Immortals(2011)

Wow, I am completely stumped by how terrible this movie was. It is beyond me how a film with such high production values can be approved with a script that seems to be the concoction of a teenage boys first LA assignment.

A serious example of bad storytelling, the pacing was slowed to a crawl until the films big finale which exploded in a fiery of nonsense. Littered with unclear purpose and plotholes, we're left awe struck at the entire ordeal's frivolous attempts at a message.

The entire supporting cast plays little to no role in Theseus's dreary venture of... MORAL RIGHTEOUSNESS. Themes are ignored, relationships are static and character motives are foggy at best.

I'm sorry, all the big extravagant silly hats and random "Holy shit" CGI moments can't save this pathetic excuse for a movie.

I walked in hoping for something similiar to Singh's infamous "300" but was totally met by this abomination. Please give me my two hours back :[

Larry Crowne
Larry Crowne(2011)
½

A delightful formulaic modern fairytale for the middle-aged man. Though it lacks the comedic flare to sustain it's subtlety gentle handling the cast is remarkably well versed in their characters and brings the color back in.

Thanks to Cranston, Hanks, Roberts, Takei and many others this is far from a failure. I really enjoyed this film, regardless of it's lack of ambition.

Puss in Boots
½

Pleasantly surprised by Humpty's character complexities and how Dreamworks didn't flake out by actually killing him off in the end in a poetic manner. Once again proving that the company has what it takes to truly compete with Pixar.

Though, it's still disappointing to see a movie riding the coat tails of an already established franchise no matter how well it was executed. Also, the romance was incredibly shallow, almost an afterthought.

Contagion
Contagion(2011)
½

In the wake of high concept Zombie movies, something as grounded and well directed/acted as Contagion is more than welcoming.

There just might be a few too many subplots going on though, it often felt like none of them had room to breath. As a result you get a series of tightly written short stories about characters and events that any viewer could have trouble attaching to.

Nowhere near perfect but considering the genre and commendable script? I can forgive the plot-holes (doesn't that teenager have INTERNET?) and character-overflow. A thrilling watch :]

The Lovely Bones
½

The story lacks function, offers breath taking style but just might hurt itself with the whole idea that "less is more". The director fails to guide the viewers into any coherent conclusion as the actors prance around with so much contrive reverence.

Unfortunate, as the premise held quite a lot of intrigue for me and I'm always a visual type of guy.

City of Ember

This movie has so much promise for its demographic. The themes, the visuals, the actors... but none of it comes together in a truly compelling manner that would move an older audience.

In the end it's a coming-of-age movie full of obvious metaphors, allegory, themes and a cast of two dimensional characters that represent them.

It's not bad, a pretty decent entry-level into the SciFi genre for younger generations. But I suppose the inaccessibility of the movie for us "old" folks brought about its own demise.

Hanna
Hanna(2011)

Itâ(TM)s not the most original concept (X-23, Cassandra Cain, Hit Girl, etc.) but the style of direction, script, music, acting all comes together so well that you often forget if not forgive its overused premise.

Probably the best coming-of-age/action/revenge movie you'll get in years to come. A truly enjoyable ride. Proof that with enough style, substance can be secondary which is important in an age and time when there's very little but sequels and rehash hitting the entertainment industry.

Princess Mononoke

So chalk full of allegory, symbolism, classical Shakespearean ideas and traditional themes of human vs nature that it doesn't seem to fall short of a masterpiece.

Honestly, Princes Mononoke seems like Miyazaki at his best, there's no other film by the guy that's so well rounded; it's mature, sophisticated, yet completely accessible in it's overall formulaic simplicity.

On top of that, it's visually stimulating. The closing scenes with the Deer God? Crazy animated work even considering the studio's past creations.

The Count of Monte Cristo
½

A somewhat promising first half, but the films "climatic" end unfolds like a terrible TV-drama so convenient in its staging and so static in its direction. YOU ONCE CALLED ME FRIEND, YOU BETRAYED ME, HE IS YOUR SON, BLAAAAAAAH!

Seriously?

The casting was great, but the un-profound script and cliche themes of classicism completely fails to give the story any credible depth. Nothing but a polished period piece of rehash.

Friends With Benefits

Show me a romantic comedy that doesn't follow existing formulas of the genre and I'll let you know when communism finally wins. There's no "new ground" for a movie like FwB to tread but at least it makes due with what little it has to work with.

The stylistically directed choppy pacing works seamlessly with the quick-skit humor but there's so much "witty dialogue" jammed into the script you almost forget that they're actually trying to tell a credible story.

It's not a bad movie, Timberlake and Kunis completely own their characters and deliver laughs. An entertaining watch for those who're in the mood for just another love story of "modern" telling and "witty" verbal diarrhea.

Superman: Doomsday

It's depressing to see all these traditional-outdated critics tackle this film arguing that it's "too dark and violent" for the Superhero cartoon genre, because only Batman's allowed to be taken seriously, am I right? Not.

Superman Doomsday might "try too hard" to achieve levels of unnecessary violence at times but to say that this was a failure is far from the truth. The script could be tighter but the overall story, animation and iconic feel of the plot already wins me over.

I love how it really delves into Lex as a sophisticated, complex,...nut case. His relationship with Superman and his self-destructive nature in attempts to replace it. It also briefly dabbles in what justice means and although handled in an elementary fashion (cat in tree with old lady) is an important theme to the hero. A man with unlimited power.

Great ideas, just, a little weak on the execution.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

I really love how this expands the GL lore with short stories from multiple characters within the Corps. Top that off with some of the BEST animation and character designs I've seen from a non-Asian production... you've got yourself quite the winner.

I came into this with a lot of skepticism as I've never appreciated the title character but the lore presented here really fleshes out the concept with a lot of credible ideas.

I just wish it wasn't loosely strung into one film. Almost cheapens the experience of the short stories along the way.

Amélie
Amélie(2001)
½

Stylistically ravishing, Amelia is a movie that not only charms like no other but also delivers a delightful adventure about finding innocence in otherwise dreary circumstances. Romance, fun, self discovery all delivered with imagination. A good watch.

Battle: Los Angeles
½

Black Hawk Down + War of the Worlds = This movie.

A mildly entertaining Action/Thriller movie for the Call of Duty / HALO generation, but for the rest of us? A dreary, uninspired war film that although has a SciFi premise, borrows none of the genre's elements into play.

The biggest problem is the fact that the films very character driven, but all the characters are either walking cliches or dumb-as-door-nail marines. Largely uninteresting people at the core.

I liked the concept though, the whole "small-platoon-average-joe-POV" execution as opposed to the "One-man-army-larger-than-life" approach that a lot of Alien Invasion media relish in.

By the time we reach the movies climax/end, we're completely exhausted by the action, drama, thrill and like I said, already boring characters. The movie sings one tone, whether you like that particular tone will determine how much you enjoy it.

Your Highness

If I saw this in theaters, I would have walked out. It's beyond me why all these big name actors took part in such a poorly conceived project. I barely chuckled in this raunchy, unwitty, comedy.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

If someone asked me to write/direct a prequel to the Planet of the Apes franchise, I wouldn't really be sure where to start. Especially for this particular generation of "realism" hungry masses.

Considering the premise, this could have been a terrible movie. Absolutely awful. But this movie goes down easy and at some parts, even impresses.

Now to be critical;

Attention to the relationship between Caesar and his "father" Rodman soon runs dry, I wish the huge cast had roots pertaining to the movie's themes. It was almost like a mosaic of complete throw-away side characters as the two protagonists danced on the main stage from one scene to the next.

That and the film's character chemistry seem limited from the Ape-cast's intellect who end up getting most of the screen time. Which absolutely begs for a sequel when they're all developed enough to talk.

A great reboot, can't wait for more.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
½

An improvement on Public Enemies, but the coming-of-age story of Kara really needs to have a stronger voice through all of the smash n' bash pizazz. It's entertaining stuff but doesn't exceed the constraints of its genre.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
½

Essentially the type of JL cross-over event DC fans have waited for to be animated. Full of parallel universeness, Watchmen-themed undertones and smash n' bash action.

Not the most brilliant script/dialogue but in the end it will satisfy anyone who loves the multi-superhero-team-up, just damn, the new voices aren't doing it for me and I was never a fan of the JL.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

A smart premise presented with such stupidity, you constantly feel that DC wasted a potentially great movie. Spends way too much time with over-the-top super vs. super action instead of all the other things that could've fleshed out the film.

Green Lantern: First Flight

I had the "joy" of seeing the live-action GL movie before FF and I have to say, this is an overall improvement for sure. Which only goes to show that DC can't do live-action to save their lives without getting lucky. (Nolan on Batman)

Anyway, First Flight works like a galactic, buddy-cop movie with high SciFi concepts. Overall? Solid animation and an engaging story, with a DBZ-like finale to boot! I just wish more time was spent developing/exploring Hal's character what with this being an origin movie. In fact, it might as well be named "Sinestro's fall"

Batman: Under the Red Hood
½

The most overrated superhero-animated-film of our time revered by people with low expectations.

My biggest concern was the ridiculously poor lighting direction. What Timm's style succeeded in the original Batman:TAS was it's bold use of black shadows to create atmosphere and emotional tone reminiscent of the inking methods used in Batverse comics today.

Sure the stylization/detail is an improvement but the lighting just never does justice to the darker tones of this film that it deserves. Which makes little sense, considering even a bunch of random Japanese studios who worked on Batman Gotham Knight seemed to get it right.

Then there's the unrefined dialogue! Watching Bruce explain what an AMAZO is to a street thug was absolutely silly, then there's Jason's poor attempt at one-liners; "good night for a jog", who laughs at that? Why would he say that? Dear writers, less is more or get better writers.

Finally the poor portrayal of Blackmask and arguably Nightwing. Why were they both reduced to Two dimensional idiots? One's a raging moron and one's a complete clown.

Oh yea voice acting, obviously I'm a Conroy fan but Greenwood managed pretty well, so did the rest of the cast in their respective roles. Except for DiMaggio's Joker. It's not half as good as Hamill's with his trademark laugh and pitch changes or Ledgers with his creepy quirks and use of growls. Just an incredibly bland, forgetful performance.

Batman: UTRH succeeds in the sense where DC is finally showing that's it's not afraid to recreate dark/sophisticated storylines that it's comics have been exploring for decades, echoes of the original Batman:TAS. Unfortunately it just falls short in every other aspect.

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman(2009)

As good as an animated origin Wonder Woman film is going to get. Honestly though, I have very little interest in the idea of a feminazi Utopian island created by Greek gods and the warrior princess who prances around on it.

I just find the idea of Wonder Woman so... obnoxiously obsessed with outdated, elementary, oversimplified "gender wars", but alas, this is a pretty decent animated film.

Not only does it humor and have a good script but it has character development, complexities, and relationships that actually perpetuate the story. I mean sure, it all dwindles down to a stupid smash-and-bash ending but c'mon, it's an animated super-hero film.

Speaking of, the animation is absolutely astounding, some of the best stuff I've seen from the "West" (Japanese still easily step all over this, unfortunately.) which is essentially the highlight of the film. Watching Diana and her gal pals beat shit up is great.

Let's just say, this particular genre's standards have been pretty low. Making this an achievement on DC's part.

Cowboys & Aliens

If it weren't for Craig, Ford and Wilde. I'm not sure if this movie had enough of a spark to come together. Granted it's a ridiculous premise to work with in the first place but in the end the story is inconsequential, has no... lore of grandeur.

It's a dainty character driven picture that simply can't contain the possibilities of its own concepts.

A plus that it retains "Old West" classics/cliches; The director didn't have much of a story to work with but at least really got the "style" down.

The final product is a forgettable action flick that mixes genres, far from mastery but still enjoyable enough to sit through on many levels.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)

Stylishly exhilarating, Kick-Ass is a fusion of teen, superhero, comedy, and action that truly entertains.

Brutally fun, the first half of the film works with serious realistic undertones that really ground the story. Unfortunately, the second half spirals into nonsensical "tongue and cheek" silliness that kind of felt unsolicited.

It's this uneven direction that pulls back the Kick-Ass 'experience", a film that challenged the idea of heroism in real life vs. the comic-book world but shamelessly ditches the idea for a brainless shoot-ehm-up mafia plot.

Source Code
Source Code(2011)

Remember when Inception came out and everyone praised it as a thought provoking, philosophical thriller working with high SciFi concepts and complexities? Even though it turned out to just be a dressed up, big, loud "heist" film?

Well here we have Source Code and it actually lives up to all that.

Not only does this film meet expectations, it exceeds them by engaging every corner of intrigue that the premise explores and throttles it with precision. It asks the big questions but also considers the little ones. It's a thriller and action film, but also an adequate romance. It's also one hell of a SciFi that will leave you from the theater thinking.

I only wish it ended a few minutes sooner; "less is more". The fluff-ending and alternate universe dessert served at the end didn't really make the movie better. In fact, it might have cheapened the concept.

Still, a masterpiece for a 2011 film. A really awesome watch.

The Secret World of Arrietty

Maybe I'm just desensitized by the genre or the studio's work in general but this film tries way too hard to channel the "classic resonance" of previous works without the substance to carry it.

It also felt like the animated direction and overall story boarding wasn't all too impressive. Maybe it's cause I have an artist's background or maybe because I expect a lot from the company but the film never really fully grasped the fact that it was animated, the film just... cruises along though it's painted backgrounds with visual lifelessness!

It also very much ignores its supporting cast who end up playing minor if not no role at all near the final acts of the film's story. This being the case I'm left wondering why they didn't spend more time developing the relationship between Arrietty and Sho.

Also, I'm really tired of Ghibli's ever outdated "classic" character archetypes. They're so BORING. Especially the heroine who lacked any emotional dynamism or defining character quirks. Sho channels the "innocent, gentle, sophisticated but young" appropriately with his health situation but even with that he had an awfully reserved reaction to the whole ordeal of "little people"

It's a quiet, subtle adventure of a dying boy's encounter. Entertaining? Sorta. Beautiful? Not as much as it thinks it is. Exciting? Not really.

Trainspotting

A quaint honest tail of a Scottish Junkie, Trainspotting is a stylistically engaging dark comedy showcasing the lives of a niche community without all the usual judgement and disdain.

But for all its attempts at insight and social complexity there isn't much of a resonating story or message, or at least it's not very clear. Still, it's this open forum of intrigue that really reveals this film to "deep" thinkers.

It's entertaining, fun, and may or may not spark provoking questions. A good watch!

Rango
Rango(2011)
½

A perfect mix of smart/witty comedy and the old western genre. The characters are lovable and fresh without feeling weighed down by their formulaic archetypes.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

For the most part, this was just exhaustingly tasteless humor of slapstick fair. Combined with an unimaginative, formulaic story and we end up with something quite forgettable if not mildly entertaining for the simple minded.

Observe and Report
½

Incredibly disjointed dark comedy that's just a lil' funny despite Rogen's enthusiasm. Also spends a little too much time with people simply screaming "fuck" at each other, I mean, it warrants a chuckle the first 5 times but talk about recycled material. :/

A tighter script and a more coherent story could've saved a lot and made this film much more enjoyable. It also needed time to give its character's relationships to breathe (Ronnie's friendship with Dennis, his alcoholic mother etc.)

Unfortunate, since I liked the themes it tried to tackle and the protagonist's somewhat offbeat, delusional psyche was kind of fun.

The Invention of Lying
½

The high concepts this movie chooses to explore deserves better. The "who gets the girl" plot fails to uphold a truly intriguing premise that barely touched the surface of its own connotations.

Even as a nonsensical comedy it fails to deliver, what with the whole "no lying" humor completely losing it's zing after the first 15 minutes of non-stop insults.

Just an overall disappoint from all stand points.

Ghost Town
Ghost Town(2008)

Great direction and lead performances make an otherwise generic romantic comedy with an absurd premise an enjoyable ride.

In the wrong hands this would've been a forgettable disaster. Something about the protagonist's characterization as a damaged antisocial really resonates with the direction and Gervais's style.

Definitely less accessible than your everyday "All-American" romedy but that's what makes the subtle humor so much better to appreciate. It's smart and honest.

Johnny English
½

Spy spoof that dabbles in outdated Mr.Bean-esque humor. We move from one skit to the next as everything is hung loosely on the context of this silly "story". Rarely remarkable and chalk full of cheap laughs.

Atkinson either needs to get some wittier writers or retire.

Horrible Bosses

Considering the cast, not as funny, smart or witty as it could have been. But hey, it was entertaining to watch regardless and I definitely dispensed a chuckle here and there.

Shaun of the Dead

Zombie films up until this point were a dying genre, this is the first truly successful parody/satire film of it before it became a trend. Pegg and Frost have an amazing repertoire, especially when they fit so neatly into their character.

Hilarious and a lot of fun, but upon re-watching I can't help but notice severe pacing issues during the final acts of the film where things almost come to a halting stop as the cast bunkers up in the tavern. Especially with the contrive attempt at drama that left me wondering why it took such a serious and exhausting emotional turn.

Bridesmaids
Bridesmaids(2011)
½

Easily the best comedy of the year. Bridesmaids features an all out amazing cast of characters, plenty of emotional/romantic depth and the best part. Some very well directed humor.

At first I thought it was just another generic Apatow-esque romedy but with female characters but there's something about the entirety of the film that sincerely transcended that formula for me.

A really great watch about a damaged protagonist, friendship and taking charge of one's life.

Bridget Jones's Diary
½

Watching Grant and Firth charm the hell out of Zellweger is thoroughly entertaining. It's a really fun romedy and although I'm not sure of the post-feminist connotations of the character, Jones is a likable quirky heroine.

Has everything a romedy really "needs". Sharp wit, charming leads and a whole lot of fun. 1 hour and 34 min of fluff is about all I can take.

Green Zone
Green Zone(2010)
½

Largely harmless (or not if you're one of "those" Americans) gritty action flick hung on a every day working formula and themes in a successful politically charged plot. Not bad at all, but I wish it didn't feel like I was watching a Jason Bourne spin-off the whole time.

Then again, Jason Bourne was pretty damn good.

Salt
Salt(2010)
½

The plot isn't outlandish or ludicrous at all, in fact, Salt's premise and characters fall straight into comic-book fair. Hmm, that might say something.

Still, it's a decent "spy" movie however you choose to ridicule it. Jolie makes a great femme fatal I just wish the "twists" weren't so damn predictable.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith
½

Mildy entertaining at best, this Action-Romedy isn't just silly, but largely overplayed. Also doesn't help when there's an excess of generic dialogue and overall lack of charm.

Jumper
Jumper(2008)

Did we need further proof that Hayden can't act? Did we need another soulless human-with-super-power film perpetuated by teen angst and two dimensional "villain" organizations?

No, no we did not.

Hancock
Hancock(2008)
½

The premise was promising and the first half really delivers significant intrigue. But then we're given an absurd flimsy "twist" that lacks the character driven properties from the film's beginnings.

What we're left with is an extremely bitter second half that I just couldn't bare to watch. Such a disappointment :/

Men in Black II
½

Not as good as the original but hardly a misfire.

The most entertaining moments are watching Jay and Kay's repertoire with each other. There's also enough fresh material to keep the audience laughing even though a lot of the core elements are recycled from the first.

The story? Well, it's very MiB but why change a working formula?

Men in Black
Men in Black(1997)

Awesome. Just awesome. Action, comedy, scifi that really defines itself with a great cast, script, humor, originality, and art direction. AGH! You just can't complain with entertainment value of this caliber.

Wanted
Wanted(2008)
½

Some great moments, but the end product is hardly defining of the action genre. I'm also not a fan of the crisp, special-effects-driven choreographed action that seems quite popular as of late.

But it definitely beats out it's competitors of similar flashy flare. That being said, for its particular style and the fact that it's a graphic novel adaptation, I see an overall success.

Also, McAvoy is very becoming and Jolie does great as always.

Knight & Day
Knight & Day(2010)
½

Action/Comedy formula, srs spy meets girl, srs spy wants to quit, srs spy becomes less srs and gets with girl. But to say it's a bad movie is a little bitchy. The story flows, the characters charm and the action set pieces/skits are often funny. In the end it rarely exceeds generic "fun" status but hey, at least it was entertaining enough to keep my attention.

Killers
Killers(2010)

Action Romedy that falls flat on it's face. What a bizarre screenplay, it's all so offbeat. One minute it's ridiculously dark, the next it laughs things off without so much as a blink.. There are some chuckles I give you that but barely ever breaks out enough of formula.

Date Night
Date Night(2010)
½

For the most part, disappointing. Date Night rarely utilizes the charisma and quick wit of it's leads. The story itself has trouble gaining any sort of momentum as well, it's a bumpy ride at best.

Still, there are a few scenes that are downright enjoyable but when it's so poorly weaved together you might as well find time for something else like 30 Rock and The Office.

The Tuxedo
The Tuxedo(2002)

Oh wow, why? Why?! I don't even know if this warrants a review. It's like Spy Kids 2 meets Jackie Chan meets... severe overproduction. Who, in their right mind, thought this would be a good idea when it was pitched? Seriously.

Get Smart
Get Smart(2008)
½

Undeniably funny with a likeable cast, Get Smart is a treat if not anything else. The whole Spy-spoof genre is exhausted in other media if not film (hell, this is even a TV remake!) so I'd definitely throw this into the "success" category. Up for a little fun? This is for you :]

300
300(2007)
½

A stylistic visual fantasy infused by non-stop gore filled action. It's a film that's obviously heavy on imagery but even behind all the excessive masculinity there's some credibility to the dialogue.

The archetypes often resonate, the honorable king, the loyal queen, the scheming politician. They may all have been 2-dimensional but rightly so.

What we have is a blockbuster action epic, perhaps nothing more but it's nothing really less either.

Batman Forever

If it weren't for Carrey's Riddler, I would have had a hard time finishing this movie. But I digress, it achieves what it sets out to even though for the most part you can't help but wonder if it was worth it.

It's like a terrible fusion of Adam West Batman with Burton's style fused with new-age technology of neon lights and flare. It's big, loud, but rarely ever fun. Watchable? Sure why not.

Batman & Robin

Just say no. Someone took Adam West Batman (plucked out the charm and nostalgia) and decided to throw it through a neon blender of unbearable nonsense. It's like... Saturday morning cartoon acted out by overpaid actors in a film that has way too large of a budget for it's own good. So awful that I died a little.

I give this half a star extra as an artist for some cool designs/visuals (Mr. Frost's armor for example) and Thurman's portrayal as Ivy.

The Transporter
½

Everything wrong with the Hollywood-action-genre of today. Over the top, clearly staged sequences, blatantly forced badassery, unimaginative (and somewhat incoherent) storytelling.

God it just has so much "in your face" pizazz. Like a teenager with his popped collar slapping on a pair of shades.

Saving grace is Statham and an intriguing premise.

Taken
Taken(2009)
½

I love the larger-than-life BAMF dad approach. Though, the plot is largely an excuse to have Neeson run around and kick people's asses. Extremely brutal, relatively realistic and gritty nonetheless, it's a style of action we rarely see among previous Hollywood takes.

It's this particular approach that really brings "Taken" forward into a brighter light. Like comparing Pierce Bosnan Bond with Daniel Craig Bond. This is Daniel Craig here to get his daughter back.

Also, really hard to deny that Neeson can act during the emotional bits. With that I bump this up half a star for an amazing leading man.

The Hangover Part II

Same thing, different movie. Actually no, Part 2 strives for a coherent story which inadvertently diminishes the "random" humor value of the film's premise. That and of course it's a sequel, so even less surprise is thrown our way in that respect.

In the end, though, it could've have been much better anyway.

Daredevil
Daredevil(2003)

It's a rocky ride from the start when an overuse of monotone voice over is used to narrate DD's contrive "dark childhood" but as the film carries on things just start bordering on "so bad it's good".

I mean, when he first meets Elektra? Or just introducing Bullseye and Fisk? Freakin' hilarious. Such over-the-top-cartoonesque nonsense is rarely achieved on the big screen with so little shame.

Unfortunately for us, it slowly rocks back and fourth between that and a certain degree of seriousness that warrants some credibility from Murdocks time spent on the case.

In the end, it's a series of poor decisions that ultimately bring this film down to an all-time low. Bad music, pandering dialogue, ridiculously staged direction etc. All really disappointing, what with there being so much to play with in complex morality from the whole "lawyer" premise.

Batman Returns
½

I find returns a much more compelling, atmospheric experience than the original.

It also feels like it fleshes out Batman's relationship with Bruce Wayne more to a sophistication that the original just didn't really approach. Anyway, this was TB's Batman at it's best; a political story with love-interest Catwoman and that dark, stylistically propelled Gotham we love.

Despicable Me
½

I wanted to really like this but I didn't. There were just so many exciting themes and ideas I was looking forward to with the premise that the story neglected. In the end it was just another harmless, formulaic kids film with a disgustingly predictable plot fueled by depth-less characters.

It was also heavy on the gag humor as opposed to the witty dialogue that adults are used to for their end of the bargain. Maybe the kids like it but... meh.

Maybe Pixar & Dreamworks have set the industry standards too high but the characters and film in general were just largely forgettable.

Gnomeo and Juliet

A prime example of what a 3D animated feature should NOT be. A huge, unoriginal, derivative so full of formula and cliche acted out by a load of stereotypical 2 dimensional characters.

Obviously the target audience is something like.. oblivious 13 year old girls or younger, but still. What a piece of crap! Not a strike of original charm or wit.

Shutter Island

A deliciously suspenseful psychological thriller, Shutter Island is a great ride for any fan of the genre. Appreciate the craftsmanship, themes of fear, paranoia and Leonardo's performance in a story that's not only mind bending, but strikes the right emotional chords when all the guessing is over.

Repo Men
Repo Men(2010)
½

A largely forgettable action Sci Fi flick with a numbing plot that delivers a twist ending that's... largely inconsequential to the story.

In the end, the film just doesn't leave much of an impression and although the premise is somewhat original the Scifi themes that come along aren't explored rendering the experience down.

There's also a clear over emphasis on action and sex appeal with a story that for the most part, is character driven. What the hell?

Just a combination of poor choices. :[

Zombieland
Zombieland(2009)
½

Not remotely as awful as I thought it'd be, in fact, it was great! There are some genuinely funny skits and dialogue in this zombie-survival movie.

Obviously not the first of its kind but there's enough style, originality to it's characters and bizarrely family-feel-good story that make this film shine. The mash up of comedy/zombie/road-trip/family genres work so well together in this flick it's hard to really not like any of it.

Eisenberg makes the perfect apathetic shut-in by the way.

Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz(2007)

The only time when satire/parody can truly be this disgustingly funny. And with so much style to boot, Hot Fuzz is Pegg and Frost at their best.

There's just so much originality in their particular brand of humor, you'll be laughing constantly at every set piece and every scene. What's more impressive is the genre loyalty, from character archetypes to plot there's very much love for this film.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

A fitting conclusion to the franchise, there were a lot of great things going for it like... thrills, special effects, melodrama, more melodrama and oh, did I mention melodrama?

It felt like Yates was force feeding "epic" down my throat with his overuse of "mushy" music on top of a backdrop of under emphasized Michael-Bay-esque action sequences.

This actually ended up diminishing the experience for me during the siege of Hogwarts. I mean, it's war, why NOT emphasize on the "too loud" for those particular scenes? There sure as hell were enough "quiet" emotional bits to make up for it.

It's also really annoying how Voldemort has turned from cold, calculating, calm being of darkness into a big blundering idiotic super-villain with no presence whatsoever.

But hey, I'm actually really nitpicking here. (don't get me started on spell-breaking plotholes, how hard is it to learn to freaking fly? Shoot water? etc.) all in all this was a very good finale for the HP movie franchise.

Just, it could've been really awesome if the director varied his style more. (And again, if there weren't so many damn plotholes. I know it's suppose to be a novel adaptation but he even split this into two parts! He also had experience with the first 6 movies. No excuses.)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

In a word? Boring. I think the director was convinced that drawing out scenes of contrive strife would make the drama a little stronger. Well, it didn't.

It's called a montage, use it. I can only watch these three for so long whining and crying in a tent. Yates wasted all this screen time for unsolicited angst when he could have instead put in more actual content pertaining to the story.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
½

Everything that was wrong with GoF's teen angst, drama and romance is fixed here in HBP thanks to some well timed comedy, a competent script and a great performance from our leads.

Not only that but it's exploration of the franchise's main antagonist Lord Voldemort and his past is exceedingly gratifying. If only Malfoy was given more screen time to explore his inner conflicts and struggles with being "good" or "evil" as well. IFONLY.

Instead we're forced to watch Hermione x Ron scenes... the end product is still pretty good just not so "brilliant". A satisfying watch and crucial chapter of the HP series.

PS. Rowling needs to stop making plotholes in her own universe. First the time-turners and now lady-luck potions? Beyond me why these weren't used later on to beat Voldemort.

PPS. The ability to "split a soul through killing another being because it's a violation against nature" is absolute rubbish. Killing is completely natural, the idea that it breaks some law of the universe is complete moral arrogance! Absurd.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Finally, the battle against Voldemort begins here with OotP. There were several issues etching away at me, the whole prophecy thing could have had more foreshadowing, the way Black's death was portrayed could have been a little less sudden and in the end the whole ordeal just feels like a segue for events yet to come.

But hey, it's a fairly tolerable first act and the emotions/relationships are handled much better than GoF. I do think the whole political and propaganda angle surrounding Voldemort's return could have fleshed out more, or at least had more serious effects than the perky conservative antics of the "new" head mistress.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
½

It seems the cast and school of Hogwarts isn't immune to the blundering embarrassments of puberty. Although difficult, the subject isn't impossible to present in a respectful credible manner, Newell fails to follow through in that regard.

Also, the story makes little sense. The whole point was to make Harry touch an inanimate object to be transported somewhere? Do you mean to tell me that there wasn't an easier way to get Harry to TOUCH something? Or why not just kidnap him? Could it really be that difficult?

The plot is just a bad excuse for us to watch the "exciting" tri-wizard tournament and a mosaic of scenes treating us to the delectable theme of teen angst! Oh brother.

Perhaps the saving grace of GoF is the tremendous expansion of the HP lore/universe. We're introduced to other schools, wizards from around the world! Types of dragons, mermaids, the Quidditch world cup, etc. A lot of fun worldly ideas, I only wish they were explored in the context of a story that actually made sense.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
½

HP has always been an emotional series but the first few acts (and closing scenes) are directed with such reverence you finally get a real feel of character's inner conflicts.

Unfortunately... once you hit the half mark this movie turns into a mosaic of incoherent events that unfold clumsily like a series of scenes from a High School Play. (like Black & Lupin confronting Pettigrew? So stupidly staged. Or them conveniently stumbling into 30 dementors?)

And the whole time traveling thing... Uh, overpowered magic much? Why wasn't/isn't it abused in future and past movies when they needed to get out of tough situations? Why the hell did a teacher give such a device to a student?! It's all so very, very stupid. Y'know what's also stupid? A Werewolf PROFESSOR who fails to check the calendar to make sure there's no full moon out that particular night.

All these plotholes really kill the "complex story" experience as the events all finally come together and "make sense" in the final acts of the film.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Better than the first, Chamber of Secrets supported a much more involving cast, coherent mystery/story while thoroughly exploring themes of destiny and choice.

Not only that but it successfully expanded existing lore of the HP universe while retaining elements of the previous film. I was also impressed how it approached darker themes of prejudice with "muggles" vs. "pure bloods"

A fun experience! albeit not perfect. I wish the final act wasn't so clumsily directed with a disappointing clash between Potter, the Phoenix and the Basilisk. Also, like the previous film, it's littered with subplots that (although loyal to what happens in the book) don't always directly perpetuate the film. I suppose such are the woes of a closely-adapted novel production.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
½

It's an immersive world of magic and wonder that leaves the viewer in much awe, but how the story unfolds leaves much to be desired. Not only are there too many characters and subplots that muddle the coherency of the story but the actual main climax itself is littered with unanswered plotholes.

For example, why on Earth would you guard the Philosophers Stone with a series of conveniently placed action-adventure themed obstacles? Some of which even a 1st year Hogwarts student has the knowledge of passing? (staying relaxed for the vines) and some that are stage in a manner that just don't make sense (Why didn't Ron just hop off the statue before the Queen SLOWLY moved towards it and destroyed the piece?)

These conveniently placed set pieces just cheapen the experience. For gods sake, I would've just kept it in a chest under a heavy spell in Dumbledore's office that set off an alarm when opened by anyone else.

An enticing fantasy world, too bad it had to hold up such an absurd story.

Die Hard
Die Hard(1988)
½

Fun action flick, really. The best part is Willis's character who embodies the "average joe" and constantly reminds us that he's just not the right guy in the situation he's been thrown in.

The only hiccup I had was the lack of set pieces. Not only was it kind of boring but for a film where everything took place in a single building there SHOULD have been more suspense around every turn. Instead, each encounter was presented quite neatly.

It rocks the "reluctant hero" cliche so well... and the villains? So stereotypically foreign. Haha! A working late 80's action flick.

Die Hard 2
Die Hard 2(1990)
½

It's "bigger" than the first and that's a bonus and still carries the spirit of Cain and his unfortunate stumbles into action-packed situations.

Not sure why people are saying this one's forgettable. I just need to mention "Airport" and "Christmas"; two setting ideas that this sequel shamelessly exploits.

Another action flick that hits the mark. Formulaic? Maybe. But it works for all intents and purposes.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance
½

I actually liked the story of WaV more than others in the franchise, what with the avenging brother, Cain and his drinking problems... the "twist" heist plot turn, the various set pieces that perpetuate the story. Oh, and good ol' Jackson's repertoire with Willis!

Not sure how it deserves 49% when the fourth installment hit 82% with far less compelling villains and a no-brainer story brought on by the "digital" age. But hey, critics usually don't "get" this particular genre anyway.

Live Free or Die Hard

For a FOURTH sequel of an early 90's (late 80's) action flick, LFoDH works. It's entertaining, the plot is "big" but relevant, the action is non-stop jaw dropping, the characters are... well, they HAVE character (but boy do I hate Justin Long)

In the end it's an action packed extravaganza of fun. Fans of previous films won't be disappointed watching their favorite average joe "save the world" one (hopefully) last time.

Sherlock Holmes

It's a refreshingly gritty, fun, stylistic and action based take on the otherwise dreary, monotone, intellectually stifling character.

The end product is a fun, entertaining experience that fans of the original concept may find too "flashy" but hey! I'm all for exciting re-imaginings. Although I do see how turning Holmes into "just another" action-hero somewhat demeaning it never forgets to retain those qualities of wit, charm and "intellect" that pull the film through.

In the end, it's not remotely as dumb and brainless as it could've been. Why remake something if we aren't going to mix it up? A bold and successful move.

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre(2011)

Not as good as I was expecting, although kudos to both Wasikowska and Fassbender.

It felt like Jane's life was just inherently mundane and the director strained to keep it from feeling so. As the story progresses her character is developed in untimely, sudden outbursts that called for some better flow.

Maybe too subtle for me but there just wasn't much in this period romance that particularly grabbed my interest. The acting was great but the players often felt over dramatized in its contrasting monotone background.

Love Actually
½

An irresistibly sweet and charming series of formulaic love stories in a mosaic of storytelling.

There's nothing particularly outstanding about the writing or the romances but I guess that's not the point. The point is, it's overwhelmingly warm and fuzzy despite how often falls into a pit of contrive direction.

That and there's one major saving grace, the cast! Absolutely brilliant, so much enthusiasm and passion thrown into this that it's really not worth the trouble to criticize :/

Ultimate Avengers II

Runs in the same vein as the first film. It's not worse, (or maybe it is depending on what you were looking forward to) but it's definitely not better either.

I should just stop reviewing animated superhero films from Marvel. Clearly their demographic falls in the tweens area.

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie

The Ultimate comics were a great re-imagining of the Avengers in a gritty, more plausible and realistic universe.

Unfortunately, their animated counterparts always lack the sophistication, depth and maturity to communicate any of that.

So here we have this little abomination. It's kind of disheartening to see a cast that has such potential distilled and simplified into a brainless extravaganza of explosions and contrive drama for "young viewers" but here it is.

2 stars instead of 1 because god knows this is as good as an adaptation of these characters in animated form are going to get for decades to come.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

The biggest disappointment I had with this movie was the lack of animated maturity and sophistication that the first thrived with.

It's not so much the animation that I had a problem with but the story-boarding and color palettes. To any trained eye they're clearly sub-par and aimed at an audience who's accepting of TV animations.

Also, it would've helped to have a tighter script. Little things like the majesty of Mufasa's ghost or the credibility of Kovu and Kiara's romance were hindered by some sloppy dialogue.

All these things really diminish the reputation of the first and that, that's just a crime :/

Thor
Thor(2011)

Everything you'd expect from a movie based on a shallow smash n' bash Norse god. For me that's a problem, the whole ordeal was just so mundane. There were no surprises, both in character and plot every step of the way.

I really wish they played more with the culture-clash when he's sent to Midgard and gave a little more screen time for him to develop his character and relationship with Jane. I also hoped the plot would explore possible conflictions between his responsibilities to both worlds or at least the complexities of mortal/immortal views.

Outside of the witty one liners everything was so damn stereotypical of Saturday-morning-cartoons. Oh no! Evil Frost Giant antagonists! Loki lashing out with daddy issues! Give me a break.

Even the fights near the end were disappointing considering the Frost-giant-beat-down he gave off the bat. Still, go for the visuals and special effects I suppose, think Transformers but with Norse Gods instead of Alien Robots.

Inception
Inception(2010)
½

The most conceptually complex and original action/heist flick you'll ever see. What really bugs me is the mass consensus that this film was an "intelligent, psychological" thriller.

It's not! There was nothing psychologically engaging about it, the complexities merely lay in the ideas, obstacles and premise that the plot takes place in. These Scifi elements merely acted as the river for this boat of adrenaline pumping action.

Of course, it's a really great SciFi action flick, don't let anyone tell you otherwise but hardly the "brilliant masterpiece" that people are choosing to believe it to be.

Green Lantern

GL uses very simplified, distilled and at this point, redundant super hero themes and formulas.

No doubt there are some really great visual concepts here butit just lacks the moral complexities you expect from the genre. In the end it just feels relentlessly outdated.

I guess I wouldn't have minded the painfully classic storytelling of Good vs Evil if it just didn't feel so disjointed, one minute we're on Sinestro, the Guardians, the next we're on Hal, constantly changing between the two without really putting them together in an engaging presentation.

The relationships between all the characters were there but never thoroughly explored. I wish they played more between Sinestro and Hal, or even spent more time pulling in the supporting cast's role in the film.

What would have also helped bring the audience into this immersive premise were details. Details on the corp members, their planets, their families, the Guardians, their origins, the various sectors.

ALL of this could have been in the movie if it weren't for all the time we were spoon fed Reynold's shallow romances and epiphanies.

Still, I'm surprised the low RT rating this super hero venture got when we ate up crap like Transformers and Thor. I'd give this 2.5 stars if I wasn't a sucker for the brilliant visuals and Ryan Reynolds...

Cars 2
Cars 2(2011)
½

The first Cars was a piece of garbage. Not emotionally engaging, entertaining or even visually enticing in the least.

Unfortunately, Cars 2 isn't the emotionally charged piece of drama, comedy and action we've come to expect from Pixar either. It's almost just as bad, but for completely different reasons.

I don't know though, maybe I'm weird but it's actually nice to see a lighthearted adventure from the company without all the "adult" accents and exhausting emotional melodrama.

It's a movie definitely for little boys, understanding that demographic will hopefully, make the experience more bearable because behind every breath taking environment set piece, every explosion and every juvenile joke there just isn't much to look forward to.

In the end, it's a beautiful, harmless action flick for kids. Why hate?

King Kong
King Kong(2005)

KK's success rides on one thing, if you're convinced with the CGI monkey's acting. If yes? It's a fairly solid film. If no? You'll probably hate it.

Considering the film's "silly" premise and the fact that it's a remake; this is far from a failure. It has all the necessary action, thrills, and laughs with adequate emotion to place on.

The art direction is gritty, yet fantastical. If there's one complaint it's the ridiculously overplayed ending and the fact that the entire supporting cast is thrown out the window by the final act.

War of the Worlds

What viewers have to acknowledge immediately is that this isn't an Alien-Invasion film. It's a drama, about a dysfunctional family.

But even with that distinction you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who will tell you they liked any of these characters or found any chemistry between them. In the end it's a series of emotionally inconsequential events delivering little to no feeling for its viewers.

Still, you can't deny how Spielberg rocks the disaster-theme in several well directed scenes from the "average Joe's" perspective. It's visually engaging enough to sit through, that's for sure.

Astro Boy (AstroBoy)
½

Astro Boy is a suitable first-entry into the SciFi genre, with all the charm, thrills and fun that its demographic needs in a classic premise of political morality straight from its source material.

However, somewhere along the line when it was thrown through the "Hollywood/Pixar/Dreamworks" blender it comes out the other side as a bit of an emotional derivative for the older audiences.

If anything? It could have (and should have) been hell of a lot darker. I guess the folks at marketing just couldn't bring themselves to making this cute little guy as mature and sophisticated as he was meant to be.

Still, for what it is it's entertaining and more than watchable.

The Iron Giant
½

TIG triumphs by effectively using themes of innocence in consequential, realistic situations while still retaining the much needed charm and fantasy of it's genre.

Though, I do wish the supporting cast had more depth and complexities that surpassed their archetypes. Considering the demographic, I suppose keeping them simple for classical "Spielberg" storytelling wasn't a bad idea either... Hmm, I guess we'll never know.

Introducing mature subject matter to a young audience is no easy task that many animated films strive for, in the end this film is a prime example of how to do it. Good movie.

Be Kind Rewind
½

The film focuses too much on the idea of preserving an obsolete art-form that has an "acquired taste" when instead it should have concentrated more so on the relationship between the characters making the films, bonding and uniting the community.

Conceptually the idea is sound, but the momentum of the film's message lost it's spark after the first half of the film. What followed was a dreary, contrive attempt at emotional impact.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)

The most amazing thing is the POV this movie chooses to tell it's story from, and then proceeds to feature an entire cast of child actors who could, in fact, act.

I really don't see what's up with all this talk about "classic" blockbuster and nostalgia though. I mean sure the premise is the late 70's and it echos a little bit of E.T. but otherwise there's nothing very old school about it.

What's frustrating though, is the character driven storytelling. You either hate the protagonist and his contrive, overly staged, melodramatic romance and grips with depression; or have to just sit back and eat it up to enjoy the entire movie.

In the end, I can't help but feel all these "production values" were wasted on a dwindling final act that although fitting... just wasn't very coherent. Courtney's story is pretty much forced into the monster's quest and vice versa in a coincidental "emotional" mash-up that didn't have the prior chemistry to support.

Either way, an entertaining watch but I'd suggest E.T. or The Iron Giant over this.

Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump(1994)
½

It's an incredibly charming, well-directed, odd, modern-fairy tale of a man's stupidity as it transcends over the bumbling complexities of life.

Most interesting when Gump's seemingly handicapped perspective is suddenly turned into an advantage as our history's mistakes are ridiculed by his particular common sense.

It's true, ignorance is bliss; and it's humanity's inability to be Forest that's the real tragedy of the film. Although I do find it alarming that stupidity is so strongly reinforced with innocence... what's up with that?

Paul
Paul(2011)

Considering Pegg and Frost are in this... I can't bring myself to really like this film. Bah, my expectations were just too high I suppose?

At it's core it's merely a parody, not a really smart one at that. But there are some details to the jokers/humor that are distinctly funny.

An entertaining watch for sure.

Skyline
Skyline(2010)

Not even Scifi enthusiasts can enjoy this terrible movie. It's a poorly directed suspense thriller, on top of completely unlikable characters, played out by a cast of terrible actors all thrown on an absolutely ridiculous premise that only video-game playing children can enjoy.

Just complete utter garbage without so much as an engaging scene to draw you in.

The only redeeming factor are the concept artists behind the alien designs but that hardly makes up for this mess.

The Fifth Element

A staple in comic-book-like SciFi movie making, Fifth element has it all; awesome world-concepts, bizarre futuristic pop culture, over the top elements of grander.

Call it a shallow story, call it formulaic, hell even call it cliche. In the end it's a well directed hero-lead-action-adventure. Very Indiana Jones if you ask me.

Tropic Thunder
½

Too disgustingly hilarious to hate, too shallow to take seriously and too entertaining to critique. Just fun.

Big Fish
Big Fish(2003)

What a man's life isn't what it is, but how he sees it. It's full of whimsical, entertaining, alluring visuals and smart allegory but never actually carries its ideas or plot in coherency.

The beginning is about... living larger than life, going out there and not letting anything hold you back; even the possibility of settling down in the "happiest town possible", but then he falls in superficial love? And spirals back to the allure of a nuclear family? What?!

Crudup's attempts to connect with his father in truth become obsolete because fantastical stories are "better"? Because they immortalize him? Any story about his life told repeatedly could have done that. Why was immortality even important?The story's just all over the place with too many messages/themes to explore, in the end none of these voices sync together in one chorus. It's sloppy.

Fight Club
Fight Club(1999)

One of the few movies out there that I truly believe deserve their cult/classic status.

Full of engaging thrills, explores sophisticated themes of self discovery and purpose, remarkable actors, undeniable visual style, allegory and symbolism, great music... just a masterpiece of film making.

If there's anything to hate, it's the people who see it and don't appreciate its multi-layered complexities and just run around thinking it's cool to start a Fight Club of their own.

500 Days of Summer
½

It's a remarkably stylistic, charming, wonderful film on what is an exhausted genre and formula. Despite the familiarity of these characters they are easily forgivable when such an ecstatic cast plays them. (I'm being bias, I love every single actor/actress taking part in this project.)

The process of finding love in a world where it's more than often unrequited is a theme that has rarely been directed this well with a good script to boot.

Easily goes down as a memorable Romedy.

Mean Girls
Mean Girls(2004)
½

Aside from a few chuckles and some smart writing from Tina Fey, there's nothing worth seeing here.

In fact, it represents everything wrong with the idea of "High School" culture by reinforcing their existence with such shallow, depth-less media. In the end, all these fictitious labels and stereotypes play such large roles into this insufferably pandering story it might as well be made for 12 year old little girls.

It also unwittingly promotes passive aggressive behavior, with an ending completely wrapped in common sense. High School is nothing like this, and it shouldn't be.

Little Miss Sunshine

The beauty of failure, laid out with honesty and fun in this ridiculously amusing family film of dysfunction.

Every character has their own dreams, their own shortcomings and their own resolutions. When they all come together for each other though, that's where this movie finds its place.

Still, I can't help but wish they pushed the chemistry between the entire family just a little more. Maybe it was too subtle for me but in the long run the only impressionable repertoire was between Carell and Dano.

Megamind
Megamind(2010)
½

Actually less predictable than you'd think because the Superhero genre often treads different ground. But the jokes are so often parody it almost cries for a little more originality.

Its the witty script and honest romance that eventually won it over for me in Megamind and despite my bias against Ferrell he brings great justice to our blue protagonist here.

The end product is tight that utilizes all of it's characters to deliver an emotional, hilarious, relationship provoking feature of fun.

Adaptation
Adaptation(2002)

Effectively explores the often passionless, mundane world of every day existence in an unlikely study and an even more unlikely romance.

Cage's journey towards epiphany is chronicled in a series of emotional outbursts that aren't just engaging but make great juxtaposition with his brother (also Cage)

Streep's parallel venture to find passion in life leads her to fall in love with an unlikely man. When these plots merge seamlessly together in a fitting closure you can't help but appreciate it's clever workings.

Finding Neverland
½

It's a good drama, but a very obvious one. What other themes would you explore in a movie that pays tribute to Barrie finding inspiration to write Peter Pan? How would you resolve it? You probably already know.

Lots of people are praising Depp but it's his repertoire with Highmore's character that's the real center stage of the film. His attempts to show the boys the merits of innocence as reality comes caving in on all sides is handled remarkably gracefully.

The most visually engaging parts were the scene switches between imagination/reality, I wish Forster had the directive courage to really use those elements stronger through out the film than he did.

All in all, a really delicate film that either hits the right emotional notes or comes off as a shallow fluff piece.

Being John Malkovich
½

Incredible originality and "weirdness" doesn't automatically spell for good film making. There's always a constant lack of direction, what are the messages, what are the themes? Is it identity? gender roles? incompetence? love without the confines of physical attraction?

The characters are so transparently played out in this bizarre tale that it often fails to connect with it's audience on any level.

Minority Report
½

For a piece of fiction that borrows so many real-world elements it sometimes has trouble finding solid ground to stand on with it's bold themes/ideologies.

But as this noir SciFi thriller unfolds things just get better. The movie's plot gently rides on top of this fascinating futuristic world in a suspenseful tale of free will.

Easy A
Easy A(2010)

The High School Comedy genre has come a long way. If only "Easy A" wasn't so obnoxiously self aware of itself to try and prove that fact.

The script's wit is a little unsettling with the plot, I can't figure out how Stone's sensible character manages to find herself in the series of events presented.

Still, it's a coherent story about identity in what is one of the most trying social systems of our culture (lolHighschool). The films intelligent banter and cast of fun supporting characters will make this quite a smooth ride.

Paper Man
Paper Man(2010)
½

If the viewer fails to connect or even relate to it's protagonist from the get-go then they'll immediately find little interest in this film. An extremely bold approach but rewarding when it does find the right audience.

Many critics feel it was too "quirky" and "gimmicky" for it's own good. If anything it wasn't enough! Utilizing the duo's imaginary friends should have been the film's focus not as subsidiary premise elements.

Let's take a step back and take out these "weird" "indy" ideas. What do we have? A story about an aged man searching for direction, connecting with a younger teenager who's also damaged; ultimately finding resolution in each other's influence/friendship. HOW UTTERLY BORING AND FAMILIAR.

Unique stylization in execution was key to Paper Man's intrigue, something the directors failed to recognize or were afraid of pursuing.

Despite all this I actually really enjoyed the film (well, the somewhat pandering voice-over at the end almost killed it for me.) and I'd recommend it to close friends.

Funny People
Funny People(2009)

Definitely one of my favorites from Apatow, rather than throwing us an endless stream of raunchy juvenile humor on top of accessible emotional cliches the laughs in this film are garnished in context of its exploration in sophisticated characters and relationships. It's a bittersweet story about burnt bridges, friendship and the consequences of reality.

What's most engaging were the scenes of Sandler's self destructive personality placed in juxtaposition with his character's good intentions and attempts for atonement.

Ultimately works effectively as a drama with enough humor to break what would be a "snorefest" because man, once and for all this proves Apatow has poor pacing skills.

Hook
Hook(1991)

A positive, charming and often memorable "sequel" to the fabled fairytale. The film's premise is possibly it's most alluring element, the prospect of Pan growing up and losing his innocences is a great device for it's theme; the merits of childhood.

It's the character exploration and emotional details that push this would-be mundane family film forward. There's also a hint of sophistication over your every day children's film (Death, Unrequited Love) which is always a good thing.

The problem is that these themes are ultimately sugar coated down for said younger audiences and consequently don't have their expected impact.

Also, Hoffman makes a remarkable Hook. Probably the best pirate on screen until Depp's Jack Sparrow. All in all? Good film.

RUFIO!

Peter Pan
Peter Pan(2003)

Sumpter makes a good Pan on camera but when it comes to emotion all he can do his smile and nod. :/

However, there are a lot of redeeming factors. The gorgeous visuals that rival it's Disney counterpart, Hurd-Wood's impressive child-acting abilities and most notably, its successful approach to sophisticated emotional themes that other reincarnations feared to explore.

Top it off with a rememberable music score and you've got yourself a deliciously magical success.

The Green Hornet

It's unfortunate that the Green Hornet was adapted into this inconsequential comedy. The superhero premise seems to be nothing but an excuse for Rogen's humor and Chou's over-stylized martial arts.

I'll admit Rogen's character is given some quality themes but fall short as a Batman/Kick-Ass derivative with it's glaring similarities and lack of exploration.

In the end, if you don't laugh and can't appreciate the action then you'll be dissapointed.

Planet of the Apes

It's campy, pathetic attempts at humor and lack of social, cultural sophistication makes this SciFi a hell of a let down.

It doesn't appear to excel at any point of the film, especially the visuals, something that anyone would expect far more from Burton.

An interesting piece of fiction without the details, complexities and engaging characters it needs to be a success.

School of Rock

Jack Black carries this film on his back with an exhilarating performance that's more than often absolutely perfect but the plot leaves much to be desired without even so much as a twist.

The formula and cliche injected into this comedy completely overshadows it's attractive premise. Fortunately, the laughs work and anyone who appreciates classic rock have something to relate to.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Not as enlightening or surprising as the tone of the film suggests. The parts with the PI were moderately amusing at best.

In the end you're left with information that you probably already knew about a system that non-filmmakers just ignore and what little information you DIDN'T know; you can't/won't do anything about.

So the real question is, why?

Pineapple Express
½

Pineapple Express rarely delivers the laughs. It's like being the designated driver at a party watching a bunch of your drunk pals getting high and acting like idiots.

The movie then proceeds to spiral into an incredibly generic action film that leaves much to be desired.

The emotional merits of their friendship are ultimately made insignificant, by the end of this film you really, really don't care about these characters.

All in all? huge disappointment from Rogen.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
½

Stoller might as well be an Apatow clone, this is a pretty solid romedy.

Enjoyable characters/cast, gags & jokes that are worth your time and even though the overall plot isn't all too original, there are enough twists and turns and unique devices that make it fresh.

Get Him to the Greek
½

GHtoG works with a tiring theme (lonely rockstar) but Brand and dare-I-say P.Diddy rally up the laughs and personality that make this successful.

I also enjoy the uneven tone of the film, making the otherwise formulaic plot less direct and the emotion/complexities are usually read between the lines on top of Brand's seemingly "random" juvenile antics.

A good watch for any fan of comedy but rarely racks up the swelling emotion that it's meant to.

Art School Confidential

Art is a joke.

This movie successfully embodies the entirety of that statement without sacrificing the true experiences of art school. It's all so utterly authentic that it doesn't even need to make an effort to be viewed as a satire.

Minghella's character completely relates, his frustrations, aspirations, expectations resonate in any first year art student. The best part is the ending, that punches you in the face with such raw hilarity!

For the record, I'm an Art College graduate. I get this film.

Atonement
Atonement(2007)
½

Atonement isn't so much a romance as it is a stylistic, enthralling drama that explores the emotional maturity of a 13 year old girl.

There's an evident amount of uneven pacing that retracts my willingness to give this movie five stars. However you can't help but appreciate this carefully crafted story, full of subtleties that work well as both plot points and foreshadowing.

Combine that with an array of competent actors including Ronan and you've got yourself an incredibly successful adaptation.

Becoming Jane

For the most part it feels like I've seen this movie before, but I suppose there are only so many ways you can expect a romance with period-themes to unfold.

Not saying the script lacks sophistication but you'd also expect more verbally exhausting dialogue in a movie that pays homage to Austen. Pleasantly enough it doesn't overwrite us with conceit but at the same time fans of her novels might be disappointed.

Most of the highlights are the subtle humor and watching McAvoy verbally duel things out with Hathaway; unfortunately both of these aspects die out of the film half way through.

In the end it does the job without becoming an annoying blatant analysis of her literature but barely holds the viewers attention long enough to care for her somewhat generic "life experiences". If this weren't fiction it makes you wonder why there aren't more legendary authors running about.

The Hangover
The Hangover(2009)
½

I'm sorry, what? Are we really convinced that these never ending waves of tasteless, silly, substance-less humor on the whole "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" premise really worth 79% on RT?

It was brilliantly funny on many occasions but so are a lot of other shows/movies that ALSO possess plot, emotion, character depth and originality. The fact that this didn't even bother attempting any of that or more is a testament to bad movie-making.

It's a fuckin' stupid unsolicited movie about a bunch of idiots. Comedy should never serve as a pure stream of gags, there's an art to making a movie despite comedic qualities that other filmmakers like Kevin Smith and Apatow have shown us.

X-Men: First Class

A relative and definite improvement on the franchise, First Class is an X-men movie that not only further explores its themes of fear and prejudice but successfully hangs its emotional character chemistries on a plot that wittingly borrows real historical elements.

The competent script and amazing performances of Mcavoy and Fassbender blast off from these otherwise dreary characters in this charming take on Xavier & Magneto. I believe this was key to the film's success as their relationship becomes the core of the movie and basically, the two ideologies that embody it.

However, as with any superhero film that features a "team" there will always be an excess of characters. It's clear that the director/writers used as much of the actors as they could (Mystique & Beast had significant supporting roles and Emma Frost to a lesser extent) but it'll just never be enough to justify the entire cast's presence.

In the end, Banshee, Angel, Havok etc. are really there for cameo's sake to please X-men fans, (Speaking of cameos, Jackman's is pretty sweet) a source of gag humour, and a backdrop of teenagers to connect to younger target audiences. Not exactly useless in the marketing sense but you get what I mean.

Even worse, Azazel and Riptide are reduced to mute villain fodder (did they even speak at all?) who, like the complete "evil drones" they are, hold hands with Magneto in what is the most bizarrely bland-looking climax.

It's just the way the final act was shot, it left much to be desired on a visual level. How they all ran around and stood on the beach like some sort of conveniently staged high school play, I'm positive Matthew Vaughn could have executed something better if he had really put his head into it.

Of course, I don't even need to address the special effects. It's basically everything you've seen from a high budget Marvel production. (I doubt any of you haven't watched one by now)

So despite the couple of hiccups I had, "First Class" is truly a success that Marvel can pat themselves on the back for along with Iron Man & Spider-man 2. Totally worth your movie ticket.

PS. Is it just me or is it really annoying that the X-men movies all have canonical issues with each other?

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
½

A modern fairytale romance told in the far away land of the NewYork indie music scene.

It never breaks new ground in any field of film making even for its genre but all in all the love story between these two is just a thing of beauty and that's largely in part to its careful execution.

It's a little refreshing from Apatow's in-your-face raunchy and verbally excessive sex talk, NNIP is relatively more subtle in its drama and humor, something young people just need to appreciate and this film ultimately excels at.

You Again
You Again(2010)

Wow, I can't believe how bad this movie was. It doesn't work on any level, even as a basic comedy! So many great actresses completely wasted on this cliche tale of post-High School prepubescent drama that no one should take for a grain of salt.

It's not anything it thinks it is, funny, insightful, emotional, witty; just... no. None of that. The ONLY reason I made it through 1 hour and 45 minutes of this utter garbage is because of my respect for Weaver and Bell.

Burlesque
Burlesque(2010)

I'm sorry, all the cleavage and skin can't save this cliche small-town-girl-to-popstar tale despite Aguilera's booming musical performance and my bias fanboyism for Bell

A waste of musical/visual energy, Burlesque could have really used a story that wasn't predictable every step of the way. In fact, the plot was so poorly conceived that I was actually bewildered by its half baked conclusion.

Across the Universe
½

A musically and visually enticing experience, ATU is a simple classical romance of two young lovers set in the 1960's told through a mosaic of beautifully choreographed performances.

If you don't appreciate the music and art, then you're watching the wrong film.

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (Kaubôi Bibappu: Tengoku no Tobira)

Embodies everything I loved about Cowboy Bebop. The chemistry of the crew, the Scifi elements, Spike's martial arts prowess and delicious animation while still retaining that slick bounty hunter feel.

Someday though I'll have to climb over that lame melodramatic mountain that seems present in all Anime. The main antagonist is such a quack, boohoo everyone died except me! I don't know about my past so I have to kill large amounts of people! Please.

The Matrix Revolutions

Revolutions tries too hard to turn the Matrix franchise into a fantastical epic. What grounded the first two movies in it's accessible idea has suddenly become an explosion of prophecy and impossibility.

The story is muddling if not too overly complex for someone to appreciate the visuals on screen that embody it. Even the visuals weren't the best choices that the Wachowski's could have made if they wanted to hold our suspense of disbelief (Neo vs Smith army, big baby-face-deity-robot, etc.)

An incredibly disappointing conclusion to what was a promising franchise.

The Matrix Reloaded

The first film was brilliant largely in part of it's original premise, although Reloaded has many of it's own ideas beyond that the franchise has definitely lost it's

The Matrix
The Matrix(1999)

A brilliantly conceived and executed SciFi with every crucial "movie" element singing simultaneously with a chore of perfection.

It's not only imaginative in it's premise but has all the original details that it needs to carry the non-stop action that pours out of it. Truly timeless.

Knocked Up
Knocked Up(2007)
½

Apatow's Knocked Up excels as an engaging, credible comedy about adult relationships, new and old.

His effective use of believable dialogue and "relationship problems" between our leads really tones down the hallmark feel of their romance. Not only that but it approaches realistic themes, leaves them open for discussion without letting them drag down the story's weightless charm.

There are times when I feel his deliberate diversion from an obvious issue of its premise (abortion) somewhat cowardly but I guess it wouldn't help the films accessibility to make it a forum for such a heated topic.

Also, Apatow has a tendency of dragging movies on. I'm not sure what it is but he always seems to exhaust a story before finally drawing its conclusions. It's a little annoying but not so much that I can't enjoy his work.

Superbad
Superbad(2007)

A hilarious ride of awkward sexual conquest for two teenagers that ends up becoming a testament to their friendship.

I think Apatow has really got the "coming-of-age" genre down, there's a subtle prepubescent sophistication to it all like Cera's ethical hiccups in taking advantage of a drunk girl or Hill's honesty in the final acts of the film.

For what it sets out to be (A Teen Comedy), Superbad does all things right and considering I'm not even a part of it's target audience and still enjoyed it seems proof enough that this is a "good movie"

The 40 Year Old Virgin

I'd rate this higher if this weren't essentially a coming-of-age story with a complete cast that should have come-of-age already.

It's weird really, Apatow delivers an emotional, mature relationship between Carell and Keener but barely holds it up by giving us the most immature, juvenile bunch of grown men I've ever seen to place the premise on.

It's a film that really makes more sense with a younger setting but I guess the hook of a 20 year old virgin just wouldn't work the same, would it?

I also can't say I found the film thoroughly amusing, the gag comedy of these men trying to "get women" or Carell's "innocence" plays on such redundant "highschool" stereotypes.

The best parts are Lynch and Dennings, one's actually funny and the other plays an actual legitimate support character.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Emotionally, visually and conceptually engaging, the romantic roller coaster of Joel and Mary will resonate in your heart. Even the supporting cast gets to play crucial elements in this beautiful tale of love's imperfections and how it's something to fight for, not something given.

Every time I watch this film I want to fall in love all over again.

Chasing Amy
Chasing Amy(1997)
½

A truly successful and rewarding Romedy, Chasing Amy not only delivers as an emotionally sophisticated charged romance but as a sexually open and gender provoking discussion.

In many ways it feels like Smith's finest hour, too often critics are turned off by his "tasteless" use of raw dialogue and uncivilized humor but here it's completely evident that he always has a plan written between the lines for those of us willing to look for it.

The only problems lie in the chemistry between Affleck and Jones, you're never really convinced with the romance between their characters other than their word.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

A surprisingly well adapted movie on a modern fairytale romance. Considering the amount of story it needed to tell I'm forgiving on the ridiculously fast paced storytelling, even more so when we're delivered brilliantly fun visuals.

I love it for what it is, the embodiment of the 90's Nintendo generation carefully weaved into a tale of real-world romance, with its issues seamlessly allegorized into video-game-boss-fights.

In the end, it's a whole lot of nerd, a whole lot of laughs and most importantly charged with prepubescent emotions.

Mallrats
Mallrats(1995)

A silly romedy that caters to comicbook geeks. If it weren't for Smith's particular brand of style/humor I'm not sure if I could have sit through this bizarrely formulaic and ultimately unimaginative love story.

It's entertaining with it's laughs but with little substance to hang it on I just can't recommend this film to anyone in confidence.

Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction(1994)

The whole mosaic storytelling style really draws you in, each character taking part in this tale is so engagingly entertaining that seeing them all come together becomes a rewarding experience during each passing moment.

Tarantino set out to make a film that just bleeds "I'm so fucking cool" which results in this accessibly fun but witty script.

Clerks II
Clerks II(2006)

More than often feels like a reiteration of the first film with a resolved Hollywood ending. Not that such a statement makes this a bad thing. Everything we loved about the first film is there, Smith's brand of humor, his ability to find insight while delivering the raw vulgarities of our contemporary culture, a rag-tag cast of "failures"...

It's not so much that this was a bad movie, but it diminishes the merits of the first. The fact that this was presented in color as opposed to B&W almost works as an allegory for it's "updated" qualities. Not only is this sequel more accessible in style/character but sacrifices the subtleties of the first that gave it its reverence.

I'm not sure what else Smith could have done to "sequelize" Clerks without presenting a completely new cast. (Which we would hate even more) In the end, considering it's constraints, Clerks 2 is a working, great movie and worthy of the franchise name.

Clerks
Clerks(1994)

Smith commands such excellence in this otherwise boring premise that it really makes the mundane life of these two "deadbeats" incredibly entertaining and more importantly, insightful.

It's a particular brand of down-to-earth vulgar humor that Smith is known for that really holds the viewer's attention but it shines most when he finds maturity and sophistication in characters that often carry themselves with such simplicity we'd often see right through them.

And such is this movie appropriately named and is about; Clerks.

Jet Li's Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) (Legend of a Fighter)
½

Li makes a comeback from his terrible run of Hollywood action flicks with this martial arts epic that not only celebrates the roots of Wushu but embodies every theme about the Asian-movie-genre; honor, wisdom, discipline, and heart.

It's everything it has to be and nothing more, but appropriately so. An incredibly fitting farewell from Jet Li, the man who brought us the Wong Fei Hung films.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

For a movie based on a Disneyland ride, this turned out to be quite the surprise. Redefining the Pirate-movie genre, it's pure entertainment combined with adrenaline pumping action.

Amazing performances by Johny Depp and Geoffry Rush really bring out these fictional characters.

Inglourious Basterds
½

Only Tarantino can deliver in style such a colorful cast in such an absurd premise without killing its experience.

It's a wondrous blend of dramatic tension, romance and all-out gore in this take on the events of WWII and Hitler's demise.

The highlight is watching the tension build in the tavern and Tarantinos treatment of morality in this movie that's clearly about war and the pawns that play in it.

House of Flying Daggers
½

3/4 through the movie and the plot considerably thickens into a Shakespearean romance without so much as a foreshadow. There's so little happening before that other than contrive romance you really have to try and appreciate the action/visuals.

Which was hard, what with the excess use of terrible CGI littered over every action scene possible, but the color palettes and cinematography more than often makes up for it.

This film would have benefit a lot more if Lau's character was given further exploration to justify his feelings towards Mei or reinforce his friendship with Jin. It just felt their love triangle needed to play bigger roles in the grand scheme of things, another layer to stage their romance if you will.

Also, all this talk about the "stunning" visuals is starting to grind my gears. It feels like critics are just freaking out because it's oriental. Eesh.

New Police Story (San ging chaat goo si)
½

Jackie reboots the Police Story franchise and things go awry. The original movies shined because they were a mix of action/comedy that really blends well with Chan's comical acting; a staple style in his work that any fan can vouch for.

The reach for emotional realism might be a good endeavor in theory but the conflicts that take place just get littered with plot holes to a point where you can't take anyone in this film seriously. Combined with a cast of unconvincing villains and support roles, we end up with a poor mix-mash of HK styled drama and silly 1v1 beat-ehm-ups.

Danny the Dog
½

Ignoring the absolutely ridiculous premise...

Is it just me, or is it a little disturbing that Li "performs best" as a socially awkward man-child who has less lines than the entire supporting cast?

Honestly, I'd rather be thrown into another adrenaline pumping "brainless" action flick than watching a humble blind Freeman steal the show as Li tries so painfully to feint innocence in this contrive attempt at "emotional depth"

But hey, the actions still there and grittier than ever. Unfortunately, it happens to explode without the consistency and balance you wish it did throughout the downtime and that? That's just bad storytelling/directing.

Ever After: A Cinderella Story
½

Often lacks the plausibility and seriousness that the premise suggests but the chemistry between Barrymore and Scott just shines with an incredibly well written script. Ultimately it wins us over with it's unrelenting charm and wit.

Where Disney's version relied on actual magic and animated impossibilities, the magic in this film comes from it's fun, emotion and uplifting qualities.

In the end it's a harmless romance that works through n' through despite the fact that many feel it's merely a re-telling. A well made chick-flick.

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)

2009's Star Trek boasts an incredible amount of accessible entertainment. (I can't believe I just said that) From action to humor to casting there are so many things done right here that pleases just about everyone, newcomers and old fans alike.

Although the story lacks originality considering the possibilities of SciFi storytelling but it's quite forgiving since we have the franchise to thank for coming up with those templates, themes and cliches in the first place.

Trekkies might miss the philosophy and debate of the TV show but I dare you not to get distracted by the spectacles and humor.

Titanic
Titanic(1997)
½

Cameron does many things right in this film; iconic scenes, amazing set pieces, thrilling drama... but there are also a lot of things that pull Titanic back.

The first half of the film is hard to swallow, Dicaprio and Winslet seem to have an incredibly hard time finding chemistry with their characters; the result is a couple of self proclaimed "young lovers" clumsily tripping over each other until the ship begins to sink where the thrills take over and distract us from their contrive "relationship"

Also, for a movie that heralds mostly as a romance it's embarrassingly simple. The plot is littered with two dimensional characters that bring little intrigue, is it that much to ask for some sophistication? Zane might as well have been the iceberg.Ultimately it triumphs as a simple, emotionally compelling melodrama dressed up with some great visuals. Surely Cameron is king of the playground, but when will he compete in the real world?

The Land Before Time

A timeless child's tale that teaches intolerance, despite Sharptooth's constant loom of doom that can actually make a thriller for some kids.

The desaturated color pallet and lack of exaggeration in it's animation is what makes this movie pale in comparison to the wondrous magic of Disney productions. It might not have "worked" for TLBT but Bluth rectifys this problem in other films that carry the amount of maturity/sophistication justifying these would-be problems.

Atlantis - The Lost Empire
½

I'm a little bewildered that critics gave Atlantis such a hard time. I guess that's what Disney gets for not following it's formula of boring, pretentious romance/melodrama, overplayed emotional intimacy, periodic sing-song and campy villains.

Maybe it's the apparent change in demographic? This was obviously made for young adults, half of the jokes and themes presented would fly right by a kid's head.

There's so much wit and personality in the dialogue/characters that really makes this generic fantasy-adventure entertain. Not to mention the phenomenal animation and art direction that accompany it.

All this talk about

The Incredibles

Smart, fun, exhilarating family film about a, well, family. The beauty of this was Pixar's use of premise by grounding the Superhero genre with the idea of them getting sued for collateral damage, reminiscent of Marvel's brilliant "Civil War" story arch in concept.

Combined with a villain that literally embodies classics like Lex Luthor coming to gripes with his inherent shortcomings/lack of powers you've got yourself an incredible story to work with.

Then to top it all off, we're delivered Pixar's same brand of awe-striking animation, character design and emotional depth.

A really great movie.

Batman Begins
½

A fitting title, Batman Begins is really the theatrical origin story of Bruce Wayne that comic book fans were all looking forward to and the masses deserved.

A vast improvement on Batman & Robin, this film delivers the seriousness that the dark knight was always meant to be portrayed but rather than Burton's artistic approach of this fantasy world Nolan chooses to bring Gotham into our lives more realistic than ever.

It hardly breaks new ground in the Superhero genre but the tone and gritty approach is certainly an improvement on other origin films hitting Hollywood.

District 9
District 9(2009)
½

District 9 layers it's documentary style storytelling on its rather predictable plot but then covers itself some more with an extreme attention to cultural detail that really brings this fictitious tale to life.

Combined with it's gritty, believable special effects you're easily pulled into the story of an average Joe joining forces with the oppressed alien visitors.

I love how it works as a simple SciFi classic but through stylization and genre mash-up keeps itself just fresh enough to seem original.

For all intents and purposes, D9 works. Just more than often I couldn't believe humanity's lack of fascination/empathy/sympathy with the Prawns even "28 years" after first contact. They're clearly intelligent yet Blokamp decides we treat them worse than we do the homeless of our streets? C'mon.

Ong-Bak (Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior)

From one hopelessly over-the-top stunt to the next strewn together by predictable unimaginative plot typical to Asian cinema.

Not doubting Tony's athletic ability but his action sequences have no context and as a result grow redundant from one flip n' kick to the next in this never-ending display of "look-at-me"

The next Jackie Chan? Please. Jet Li? maybe... after he pulled all those ridiculous Hollywood flicks Tony has a chance of achieving equivalent "excellence".

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

The visuals are so ridiculously outdated, it's really hard for anyone born after the early 90's to enjoy this scifi "epic" without having their suspense of disbelief broken by all the terrible special effects.

I mean even the "legendary" lightsaber battles were a joke. They might as well have given two kids sticks to whack at each other with and that probably would have been just as entertaining if not more.

People often forget that movies are a 2 hour VISUAL medium, to deny that the original SW trilogy falls short in that regard is just plain ignorance!

Don't get me wrong, the ideas are there and I guess that's where it counts. Everything about Lucas's universe started here but it didn't end here either. I won't deny the fact that these films spawned many things after that were far superior in sophistication and storytelling (the expanded universe novels) and that's where SW really shines for me.

Titan A.E.
Titan A.E.(2000)

It's exciting to see Bluth/Goldman tackle an animated Scifi feature. Known for their tendency to break the child-like constraints of their Disney competition and deliver sophistication above the average "cartoon" movie, this was something to look forward to.

And It doesn't disappoint. It's beyond me why critics are so hard on Titan AE. The movie plays on many SciFi themes/templates from existing material, but there's enough original concepts in the designs and ideas to make it more than a mere derivative. It's a perfect entry into the Scifi genre for newcomers and a respectable ride for veterans.

It never actually falls short of anything except for the 90's rock mashed into a few scenes that probably would have benefit more from a traditional approach. (but hey, I'm no music critic!) That and maybe because the technology was new at the time but the 3D work never really meshes that well with the 2D on several occasions.

For the record, Stith is awesome and Gune is deliciously quirky. Intelligent Guard? The best.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
½

Haha RT, really? 46%? I love it when critics just get things wrong.

Sinbad is one of the few animated movies out there to approach the genre with a morally open story/protagonist and a sophisticated, convincing romance.

The film's obviously targeted at young adults, teens unwilling to put up with the patronization of Disney films but still yearn for a beautifully animated and competent fantasy journey.

The biggest folly is the completely one dimensional storytelling, I wish Proteus's point of view played a larger role in the grand scheme of things as Sinbad's journey just seems redundant after the first couple of action sequences.

Also, just watch Eris move, she's meant to be animated.

The King's Speech

Firth is absolutely remarkable in this film, paired with Carter we have two characters that you already immediately fall in love with. Then there's this awesome chemistry between Rush's character and the King that's absolutely golden to watch!

The King's Speech outshines it's seemingly mundane plot with focus on emotion, tension and chemistry within it's characters. It just works.

The Royal Tenenbaums

A movie so rich in style and character, yet never forgets to resonate in it's family feud complexities. It's a masterpiece of quirky oddities that rarely misses it's intended emotional marks while simultaneously hitting all the right comedic chords.

Kiss of the Dragon
½

Worth watching for Li's martial arts but with a story loosely and formulaicly strung together you can't help but feel guilty while you cruise through this action flick.

Oh well, at least it was better than his other film; Unleashed (Danny the dog.)

Anastasia
Anastasia(1997)
½

Easily beats any "Disney Princess Classic" for me. Anastasia often commands more sophistication on many levels: story, characters, themes, animation, dialogue...

It manages to reach a level of majestic beauty that previous attempts at the genre don't simply because it wiggles loose from the child-target-audience-restraints that Disney puts on its productions.

The results are evident, finally a "princess movie" I can say I enjoyed without feeling like a little girl.

If there are any gripes it's the music. Songs like "Under the Sea" and "A Whole New World" stick to you for life but when I remember Anastasia all I can think of are the visuals. The music is subsidiary.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Disney's most adult venture yet but falls short with an unsatisfying end that leaves plotholes and the dark themes it explores answered with hollow echoes.

It's all really disappointing, 3/4 through the movie I was convinced this was the studios best work yet. It's almost as if they stepped into a world of drama, sophistication and darkness only to immediately hide it's tail between it's legs and return to the recesses of elementary sing song.

What saves this movie are the stunning visuals but honestly? That seems to be an expected Disney trademark by now.

A Bug's Life
A Bug's Life(1998)

It has all the right ingredients and works on that Pixar template but it never truly grabs you on an emotional level, considering what Pixar's capable of you can't help but feel they didn't go the extra mile with this one.

TMNT
TMNT(2007)

This movie gets too much flak from fans of the old trilogy. I'll say it now before anything else, the old movies were not good, in fact, they were embarrassing masses of tactless gag humor.

This TMNT installment did a lot of things right, for one the tension between Ralph and Leo? Beautiful. In fact the drama between the brothers was probably the highlight of the film that all previous installments failed to achieve. Secondly? Thank god they got rid of those clunky live-action suits. As a kid it always bugged me how they never moved like ninjas in the previous movies, it made the action anything but fun. Finally the art direction, I love the design of the turtles and how they're not just a derivative of the live action look; very sleek and stylized.

With all that said it makes you wonder why this warrants 34% on RT, well, it's the witless outdated humor for one. Michaelangelo is a goof-ball but he's rarely funny and the gags/one-liners sing the same tone throughout the movie.

Then there's the premise. It's not necessarily bad in the sense of child-media. Magical immortal warriors that want to conquer the world? Sure I've seen similar ideas that kids gobble up in an instant but I guess that's the problem here, it just doesn't click with enough complexities and maturity that older fans and critics are probably looking for.

All in all, a good ride for a TMNT movie, it just spirals into senseless stupidity in the final act that you should really just watch for the action sequences. The story leaves much to be desired, hopefully they'll remedy that situation next time around.

Snatch
Snatch(2001)
½

A mosaic of unfortunate events happening to unfortunate people carefully weaved into this thrilling, entertaining ball of witty humor.

Ritchie thrives in his style of story telling as we're introduced to a cast of hilariously incompetent characters all simultaneously getting themselves into ridiculous situations. It'a a whole lot of fun, even if there isn't much substance the style easily makes up for it.

Pan's Labyrinth

A gloriously captivating tale of a young girl's innocence as it clashes with the harsh realities of a war torn world and somehow, merges with it in a magical way. Not only is it morally engaging and a suspenseful thriller but also a visual milestone in artistry.

It's so raw, doesn't bother dumbing down or simplifying it's themes but still presents it with such majesty. Easily an all time favorite.

Perfect Blue
Perfect Blue(1999)

Satoshi Kon's mastery in suspense shines here in this psychological thriller that constantly keep's its viewers on their toes. What's really great is the blend of realism into this animated film to the point where the surreal, bizarre portions aren't overwhelmed with suspense of disbelief.

Ghost in the Shell 2 - Innocence
½

I used to think the first film was incredibly complex and therefore, very inaccessible. However, the 2nd film is even more convoluted and theory heavy than the first to the point where you can't help but feel it doesn't steer you in a direction that ultimately serves the story's overlying plot.

And not the look like a brainless twat, but it really needed more action to balance out with the dialogue heavy philosophical referencing. Nevertheless, a worthy sequel to the original GITS; just lacks the balance in execution that the first maintained.

Ghost in the Shell
½

An existential journey through a future that's not only inspiring in visual mastery but thought provoking on many levels for a SciFi fan. Although it works with themes visited by various other media, it works with them in such majesty and respect that it often feels like a classic no matter how you approach it.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Following HTTYD, Dreamworks is finally beginning to barely reach that delicious balance of humor, emotion and aesthetic visual mastery that Pixar seems to achieve in so many of its films.

It sort of bugged me during the first half of the movie that the story didnâ(TM)t leave much to the imagination, but the jokes, gags and visuals keep you distracted long enough for the final couple of acts to finally grab your attention emotionally and then itâ(TM)s a pretty smooth ride from there.

One of the things I try to enjoy most about cliche and formulaic storytelling that seems to be an unavoidable template for the CGI-animated-industry is seeing how directors/script writers/concept artists try to overcome it with witty humor, personality and brilliant character design. Shen? Great villain. Wolf with a scar on his eye? Hilarious. Tigress? Ferocious with heart. I can go on.

Of course those things one can always argue otherwise, but an undeniable fact is that KFP2 is an absolute visual feast and really thatâ(TM)s pretty much all the reason you need to appreciate this colorful martial arts epic. Then again, being an artist Iâ(TM)m a real sucker for well choreographed punchs nâ(TM) kicks and beautiful special effects. Both of which this movie never runs out of.

Speed Racer
Speed Racer(2008)

The Wachowski's were overly ambitious with Speed Racer, stylistically it's either ahead of it's time or completely misses the mark depending on who's watching.

The approach is reminiscent of Tim Burton's Edward Scizzorhands but has a hard time retaining it's magic and innocence simply because its story revolves around adrenaline pumping automobile racing and not whimsical romance.

It's all rather unfortunate, under all the visual aesthetic makeup there's an actual story with heart, emotion and credible themes. The problem is that we're constantly pulled back by gag humor that's obviously targeted at 12 year olds and visuals that are inspired from a cartoon that's also made for 12 year olds.

This back and forth game of silly childish qualities and mature storytelling mixed with non-stop special effects just never seems to click coherently together.

The easy way to go was make the entire film realistic and gritty or completely geared towards children.

Obviously the Wachowski brothers had bigger plans and fell short for the masses.It's not so much style over substance, just... style that doesn't mix with a particular substance. Yet.

Also, laughing at people who say this movie was intended for kids. The story's hell of a lot more complex and involving than Spy Kids.

Enchanted
Enchanted(2007)

Disney ridicules it's own established franchise-cliche's in this fairytale satire hung on a modern romance.

It's really hard not to enjoy this film but it never seems to really address or credit the complexities of the theme it carries; real-life relationships vs the notion of idealized love and storybook romance. Instead it's sweep to the side as we're treated to one sing song to the next. Then, as if completely ignoring it's message it delivers an ending that just falls straight back into formula without so much as blinking.

But what the hell did I expect coming from a film that's clearly "Disney" at its core?

In the end, the songs and actors are so enthusiastic it's really hard to not enjoy this enthralling, often hilarious, romedy. It bleeds charm and personality, so much that this movie really comes together in a way that often transcends it's self-mocking nature.

Jackie Chan's Who Am I? (Wo shi shei) (Who Am I?)

Easily Chan's best film. Solid story telling that keeps the viewer guessing, enough emotion to keep us from sitting in the shallow end and definitely includes the charm of Chan's signature comedy-action.

But where it shines are the set pieces and action sequences that don't feel like a derivative of his Police Story films, there's always something exciting to look forward to as whoami runs around the world "battling" villains one way or another.

Ah the villains, generic and cardboard as always but who expects better from a martial arts / action film from the 90's?

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
½

This was FF's chance to redeem itself from the original but ultimately falls short with a juvenile conclusion that really leaves you feeling dumb for watching it.

The SS/Galactus premise is an age old tale that begs to be modernized, but in the end we're left with a cheesy homage to the super-skrull that only a child would come up with. Combining the powers of the FF into one person? Really? God that's lame. How did no one working on this project realize that?

The emotional-romance between the two to be wed was incredibly strained to a point where you're often convinced these two clearly weren't meant to be together, almost makes me wish for emo-grimm again because at least that was convincing drama.

Also, why do they constantly make Doom out to be an idiot? What's the point of having the surfer's powers if you're just going to parade around and blow things up? What's the point of them if Galactus destroys all life on Earth? Agh it's frustrating.

A slight improvement on the first in entertainment value, but that's really not saying much.

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)
½

When Iron Man came out and I made those complaints about "realistic constraints" I really didn't expect the franchise to take a completely different turn and throw Rockwell's Justin Hammer at us.

Honestly? The guy's a joke. He constantly bleeds comical villain on us, carrying that sleaze-ball businessman archetype while he struts his way from one display of incompetence to another.

As for whiplash, thank god for Micky Rourke because as an actor he already carries the presence.needed to play his character. Good thing he was also barely able to carry Hammer on his back as well in this villain team-up.

Don't get me wrong though, Iron Man is literally "bigger" than the first movie both as a comedy and as a visually enthralling ride of guns n' explosions. Save for the cheesy final battle with Whiplash there are a lot of expected and rewarding scenes in this movie that any Iron Man/Marvel fan should enjoy.

An explosion of fun, give er' a watch!

Iron Man
Iron Man(2008)
½

I'm not surprised that Iron Man manages to come on top of Marvel's line of successful movies, the idea of a man becoming a "superhero" through technological means in a time where all we care about is the next Apple product is hardly alarming.

Another thing this movie did right was taking itself incredibly seriously, most notably during the first quarter of the movie when he's thrown into an active war zone and taken captive by generic anti-American terrorists. Oh wow look at that, it's so REAL.

Combined with a stellar performance from RDJ as Tony Stark, a script littered with witty banter and action that almost always feels grounded by physics and you've got yourself a winner.

The reason for my sarcasm is this, people always flock to realism like bees to honey. It constantly felt like this movie was chained down by the mass's inability to appreciate the "impossible" and as a result, we're all congratulating it for doing so.

Fantastic Four
½

FF defines the words "generic-family-superhero-film".

Everything about it screams average and mundane to a point where you can't help but feel sorry for Marvel's little family of superheroes.

Save for Chris Evan's one-liners and gag's there are very few entertaining moments. I suppose the drama between Grimm and Mr.F was unavoidable what with it being a classic in the comics but the resolution and conflict that arises from it is just cheesy and so childish in nature it's like the film was written by a tween.

It always feels like Doom needed more presence, a bigger plan and just needed to hit threat levels that actually warrants four super powered beings as well.

All in all, disappointing ride.

Sucker Punch
Sucker Punch(2011)

The funny part is, this movie would have excelled tremendously in Japan if it was an Anime-movie.

There are a lot of interesting ideas floating around with this film, the whole dream dance where parallel events occur in action sequences was enticing to say the least and the story actually carries some complexities and twists that don't fall into happy-feel-good cliche. It's all appropriately dark in a story about finding light in the blackest corners of life.

There's a lot of talk about "lack of character development", sure they could have spent more time on the cast but (spoiler) considering most of the cast was killed off in the end it feels that emotional investment into them would have misled the audience's hopes.

It almost feels like critics/reviewers aren't so much hating the actual movie but the audience it caters to. Attractive young women in scantily dressed outfits in epic battles against giant Samurai, Scifi robots and zombie Nazi's? Clearly a reach for the young obnoxiously "hip" generation, but should we condemn a film for the people it's made to appeal to?

All in all, actually not a bad movie. Just... caters to an unpopular crowd.

Cars
Cars(2006)
½

Pixar's first failure. Neither engaging emotionally or visually. (Unless you like watching cars race, but even Tokyo Drift and Speed Racer excelled more in that aspect) Also, where was the humor? I could barely even muster a chuckle.

It's kind of ironic how the simpler-small-town-life-is-better-than-busy-soulless-city-life motif is continuously played here but by the end of the movie you thank god that they finally moved the last couple of acts out of that dreary unimaginative town of cardboard "simple folk" archetypes.

It's impressive what Pixar was able to do with such a poor premise by turning the entire cast into automobiles but at the same time you can't help but feel they could've done hell of a lot more to incorporate our culture into their world to reel us in. Nope, instead we're stuck in that god forsaken Radiator Springs for 3/4 of the movie with nothing to look at.

Blade II
Blade II(2002)
½

It's a good premise and story, it brings some really great ideas with the Reapers and "alliance" with the vampires, but all of it gets bogged down by redundant action sequences that end up delivering an empty beat-ehm-up conclusion that only a 12 year old boy would enjoy.

Blade
Blade(1998)
½

Not exactly a bad story, but the execution of it all felt clumsy with an overdose of action that all starts feeling the same near the end. Another adrenaline pumping super-hero flick that really doesn't warrant much of a watch.

Alien3
Alien3(1992)

Returns to the roots of the original as a suspense/tension building thriller. This was by no means a bad movie, just pales in comparison to it's predecessors. Unfortunate since the premise and first half of the film felt quite promising, but things soon dwindled and a disappointing climax, poor suspense, ruins the experience.

This movie also needed some likeable characters, all these undeveloped half-wit convicts hanging around Ripley did nothing for us.

Alien Resurrection
½

Too many "larger than life" characters for the viewer to take any of this seriously. It also opts out the thrill and suspense of the horror genre with blockbuster action making it a non-stop rollercoaster of adrenaline rushing incoherency.

I mean it had some cool ideas with the Alien/Human hybrid idea but the theme never resonates enough throughout the film for it to play effectively with the overall story. I'd skip this if I weren't an Alien fan.

Starship Troopers
½

A classic and weird blend of "High School" romance, action-flick, comedic war-satire and immersible SciFi. It's all these genre's working seamlessly together that makes this "brainless" movie a real entertaining treat.

All this whining about "excessive gore" in a war movie against massive mutant insects makes me laugh. What's wrong with gore when it's all in the right context?

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

Barely watchable, probably due to budget constraints and an attempt to embrace the "B-movie" genre that the first film mistakenly stepped into.

It has solid plot ideas and carries the style of the first movie but where the first film succeeded was the intimate point of view of "Rico's adventure" and this film completely ignores that.

Instead we get a series of events crudely strewn together, cheesy bullshit elite-marauder suits fighting hordes of aliens in a battle royale of sub-par special effects and an entire cast of characters you care little to nothing about.

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation

Someone decided to take SST and try to turn it into "Alien/Aliens3", a SciFi thriller/suspense/horror.

Not exactly a bad idea, but the fact that the story almost feels parallel to an already existing film calls for some pretty remarkable execution to make itself credible.

Unfortunately, it doesn't meet those requirements either. (maybe due to the fact that this was straight-to-DVD) Atmospheric tension? I wish. Compelling characters? Not a chance. Good special effects? Hardly.

Alien
Alien(1979)
½

A suspenseful thriller that relies heavily on tension build up and atmospheric horror. As a result, if you're not convinced with the now outdated special effects you'll have a hard time getting drawn in by the fear.

Aliens
Aliens(1986)
½

Cameron ditches the slow-thriller genre and turns Aliens into a full on action flick yet retaining vital aspects of the original. It's a prime example of what a high budget special effects can do without drowning other important characteristics of film making.

Definitely a SciFi classic worthy of multiple watchings.

Edward Scissorhands

A visually/stylistically stunning fairytale told in a whimsical "modern" time. It's bizarre how all the elements of this film managed to come together so perfectly.

The purity and simplicity of the character archetypes manage to resonate with originality despite the story's formulaic telling. One of Tim Burton's best.

Season of the Witch
½

The story never makes a substantial effort to draw the viewer in, there's an incredible lack of build up to the final act where 3/4 of the story finally occurs.

Everything beforehand is just dribble combined with action/suspense that does very little to satisfy the plot. Thank god for Perlman's performance as the generic "badass", otherwise I don't think I would've been able to sit through this snorefest.

The Adjustment Bureau

It's a simple, predictable, love story with sc fi/fantasy elements carefully implemented into a modern setting. It doesn't try to flood the dialogue with pretense despite it's existential premise but instead concentrates on the drama of the two "destined" lovers.

Rather enjoyable little romance thriller, just wish Blunt's character was given a little more attention. Felt like she was just a supporting role to Damon's adventure when really it was suppose to be about the both of them.

Machete
Machete(2010)

I was expecting much worse considering the film's genre but this movie ended up being kind of awesome on a few levels.

It often trips over it's own plot, not sure why they strived for the level of complexity that they did. Maybe the times call for it? Who knows? All we really needed was the B-movie-exploitation fun which was all there.

Anyway, a relatively satisfying ride in the world of tongue-in-cheek entertainment.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)
½

It's hard to make movies with a "classic" and "formulaic" story nowadays without failing miserably. The fact that Cameron managed to take that template and create this visual feast of a movie is already something.

Sure, the story is predictable, too happy-feel-good and as a result unable to muster any authentic drama without being squeezed out of a tube of cliche but all the creative conceptual work behind the world, it's creatures and "people" manages to keep its credibility.

A good watch and a solid SciFi

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

A lot of recycled humor but enough new material to still keep things entertaining. POTC 2 doesn't resonate as a standalone film being a setup for the finale, however, it also felt necessary as it develops all the incredibly fascinating pirate-fantasy-myth that really thrusts you into this fictional universe.

All in all, a fun ride and a visually enticing watch regardless of the unsatisfying story. Again, Depp's character steals the show and Bill Nighy, despite being covered with CGI, delivers a great villain.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End
½

A fitting finale for the franchise, it's like everything gets bigger. More magic, more fantasy, more action, more CGI, yet retaining the humor and entertainment value of the first two.

What's really impressive is the creative team behind all the concepts that hold this adventure together in it's own pocket universe. The depiction of Davy Jone's locker, the members of the pirate council, the shipwrecked city etc. Just conceptual work that really grabs you by the throat and pulls you in.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
½

No doubt Jack Sparrow is an entertaining character to watch but I'm not sure what made the producers think he can possibly carry the weight of another movie after dragging the original trilogy across the finish line.

Pales in comparison to the first three anyway; from humor, to villains, to plot, to myth, to visuals, everything feels like a sub-par attempt to recreate the experience. Why bother?

Not going to lie though, Geoffry Rush and Penelope Cruz were a treat.

Bambi
Bambi(1942)

I can't believe how incoherent the story of this movie was. None of the characters actually hold important roles in progressing the plot, conflict occurs simply when the director calls for it and when all is said and done you're left wondering, what the hell was I suppose to take from this movie?

"Man" is evil? Your parents can die? Run away from your problems and everything will be okay? What was the point of Flower and Thumper other than "cute" background noise? Who cares about the High Prince?

Man, the bar sure was set low in 1942. I'd say watch it for the animation but honestly? It's not that impressive by this day and age. If you want a Disney classic worthy of the title grab Lion King or Aladdin.

Rio
Rio(2011)
½

No wonder why Blue Sky kept milking the Ice Age franchise, their latest work is so generic it makes you feel bad for the obviously skilled animators stuck bringing this unimaginative story to life.

If it weren't for Eisenberg's impressive voice acting and colorful visuals I don't know if I would've been able to sit through this predictable children's tale of hollow support characters and villains.

Fast Five
Fast Five(2011)
½

Adrenaline pumping idiocy with more masculinity than Arnold Schwarzenegger on steroids wrestling a shark. Oh yea, there were also cars? Also happened to be an unimaginative heist film.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Shameless pure entertainment for people who like cars, drifting, Asian culture and sexy women.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

If the 2nd movie was a refinement of the first, then this is perfection. What really grabs you is that the franchise grows with it's viewers and doesn't bother sugar coating or "child-proofing" the themes and ideas needed to be addressed in this final chapter.

Full of heart, emotion, depth, witty humor, blahblahblah we all know Pixar's track record. Kudos for delivering a timeless hat-trick.

Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2(1999)
½

More emotional depth than the first without sacrificing the humor and charm. It's almost like they grabbed the first movie, took everything from it and did a hell of a lot of refinement.

Toy Story
Toy Story(1995)

I'd give the movie a higher rating if it weren't so obviously not meant for an older demographic. Most of the points given is the incredibly original idea and how Pixar seems to breath authentic emotion a story about plastic.

How to Train Your Dragon

Dreamworks takes one step closer to Pixar quality film making. Full of heartwarming moments, a great soundtrack and iconic scenes it probably had the makings of perfection.

But no, the story has too many misgiving plot-holes for me to make this a real favorite. It feels as if the Viking vs Dragon culture and history could've been developed rather than just "being there" for the sake of conflict. A lot of similar ideas just didn't feel as fleshed out as they could've been like basic setting, premise, cultural purpose.

Whatever, I'll give Dreamworks the cookie for astounding art direction and a fitting ending quirk that I didn't really expect.

Kung Fu Panda
½

Nothing like a delicious ball of slapstick comedy with animated Kung-Fu. It's nothing new, sure, all quite generic down to the message of self-esteem and "believing in yourself" crap that's littered all over youth media.

But if you want something entertaining, funny and chalk full of astounding visuals to keep you amused... why not?

X-Men: The Last Stand
½

It's a trading game. Would you like a more sensible plot, more emotional depth and character development? Or would you like more characters, special effects, and adrenaline pumping action?

Ratner went with the latter. This movie wasn't actually as bad as many make it out to be. The idea is sound but the execution was a disaster with the whole two sides clashing in the final battle, my god that was lame and idiotic. You'd expect someone like Magneto to come up with a better idea.

Also, the Dark Phoenix subplot was interesting but did very little for the main storyline which is silly since the finale suddenly switches over to it.

One more thing, why give Wolverine the leading role of the team? Clearly Ratner should have taken this opportunity to develop Storm in that respect. In fact, he should developed the hell out of the newbies. (Colossus, Shadowkat, Iceman)

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

This is actually my favorite movie of the franchise for many good reasons. In fact, it feels as if people hated it not because it was a bad movie but because:

A: The idea of something reinventing Star Wars was evil and fans of the original had other ideas in their heads on what this movie

Shrek 2
Shrek 2(2004)

It feels like... it feels like the first movie didn't end. And I mean that in a good way. The humor and quality of jokes are just as good as the original, as is the story. It definitely keeps the integrity of the first or maybe even more? Shrek's relationship with Fiona feels very real.

So really, you'd only hate this if you didn't enjoy the first movie. Otherwise you have no reason to pass this ball of sequential "fun" up.

X2: X-Men United
½

Overall, great stuff. An improvement on the original both in themes and action. There was also sufficient character development to keep us from drowning in the adrenaline, the only real grind I had was Lady Deathstrike being a characterless villain-drone

Aladdin
Aladdin(1992)

Royal romance, colorful magic, derivative themes, childish charm, heart, great animation, remember-able characters, iconic scenes...

Quite possibly THE defining film of the words "Disney Classic".

Shrek Forever After

It all felt like filler. It's like someone wrote a fanfic epilogue and Dreamworks decided to animate it. The gags weren't nearly as inventive as the first 3 and Shrek without fresh humor is well, hollow.

However, I really enjoyed the idea of Shrek coming to terms with uneventful fatherhood and settling down. I guess the franchise could've ended worse.

Shrek the Third
½

Not going to lie, I laughed. A lot.

Sure, it lacks the heart and charm of the first two but it'd be a stretch to say the story felt out of place, it works! If you love the previous movies enough you'd probably give this a watch just to knock out a few more chuckles.

The real question is, do you like cheap laughs? I sometimes do and this is one of those times.

Shrek
Shrek(2001)
½

This movie defines Dreamworks as a company. Accessible animated comedy, gag after gag to keep you laughing and munching popcorn happily with a hint of heart-warming drama to top it all off.

Sure, it never seems to reach the levels of masterful storytelling as Pixar but damn, do they know how to deliver cheap laughs and fun.

The Fox and the Hound

Arguably not for kids, the theme of "growing up" and "time changes" might not be very relatable; but at the same time they're simplified to a point of purity that you wouldn't see in anything but a children's movie. However, it's presented with enough sincerity and heart to wear the "Disney Classic" badge. Worth a watch.

Bolt
Bolt(2008)
½

Before Tangled there was a great movie by Disney's 3D team called Bolt, full of charm, wit and personality with a moving original story.

Unfortunately it was released around the same time as Wall-E and that pretty much kicked it off the radar.

Tangled
Tangled(2010)
½

Not only does it truly adapt Disney's lively 2D animated style into 3D but this is as good as a "Princess" movie is going to get if you release it in this day and age.

Chalk full of charm, personality and witty humor, this movie is far more entertaining than any snorefest "classic" fairytale from Disney's vaults of cliche and formula. Sure, it doesn't resonate like previous princess epics but honestly, who wants to see that bullshit again?

Also, Maximus easily steals the show.

Whip It
Whip It(2009)
½

At times it feels like a classic fairytale told in a contemporary setting. It's so full of charm and enthusiasm that you often forget the cliches of the whole "adolescent finding herself" storyline. Barrymore's debut into direction couldn't have really ended better.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Hilarious and at the same time, full of heart. It's a love story, it's a family film, it's about a disgruntled teenager or a man (fox?) facing his mid-life crisis. It's all of these wonderful things weaved into a brilliant comedy full of retro style goodness.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Everything you love about Wes Anderson's style packed into this quirky comedy about... I'm not even sure what it's about.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)

Does an incredible job exploring the themes of innocence and corruption. Combined with carefully crafted scenes of suspense and allegory; makes for quite the psychological/emotional thriller.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)
½

The movie always felt "lacking" in every aspect, even the visuals which by today's standards wasn't that "wow". If it weren't for Olivia Wilde and the fact that the original was a cult classic this is a forgettable sci fi tale.

Up
Up(2009)

Unlikely heroes, unlikely villains, all in all, and incredibly unlikely story that will grab you by the heart and shake it. Throw in the "Pixar magic" of flawless storytelling, humor, characterization and you've got yourself quite the movie.

The Last Airbender

Poorly acted, cardboard dialogue, lethargic, humorless, few of the words that describe this could-have-been fantasy epic. I thought I'd go for the awesome martial arts and special effects but turns out, even that was poorly adapted.

It's all quite depressing, considering the awesome source material M.Night had to work with.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
½

I love how critics are convinced this is the best of the new trilogy when it's actually the worse. I mean were you all really convinced how Anakin suddenly went all evil and slew a bunch of Jedi children? Or the whole "I've got the highground!" bullshit? Or that Padme died giving birth because "she lost the will to live." in a universe where technology exists that could probably keep people alive for centuries? or "Noooooooooooooooooo"?

I get the feeling it's a pity/relief rating, like oh thank god Anakin's transformation is finally over and we can get on with our lives.

This was a disappointing conclusion to the Sith uprising, the fall of the Jedi and Anakin's turn to the dark side. Felt dirty watching it.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
½

I'm actually embarrassed for Hayden, quite possibly one of the worse actors I've ever seen on screen. Watching Anakin and Padme "falling in love" with each other was incredibly painful and that being an important driving plot was well, not so great for the movie as a whole.

I mean sure, it had all the amazing/cool concepts of every Star Wars movie, lightsaber battles and everyone loves the Fett Bounty Hunters. Does that save this disastrous love story?

True Grit
True Grit(2010)
½

A must watch for those yearning for the days of Old Westerns. The chemistry between the protagonist and her hunter are great and the movie doesn't bother sugar coating anything. Just dirt and salt in your mouth. Yum.

WALL-E
WALL-E(2008)

Pixar manages to breathe a classic love story full of emotion into a sci fi epic about two little robots.

If there's anything to complain about it's that the first 15 minutes of tongueless storytelling was the best part of the film.

Dragonball Evolution

Turned a classic tale of innocence, the struggle between good and evil, into a hollywood CGI fuck fest of stupidity. There are so many things wrong with this film even outside of the fact that it bastardized the source material.

Easily worse movie I have ever seen.

Hercules
Hercules(1997)
½

If it weren't for the glorious stylization, beautiful color pallets and the best two supporting characters in Disney history (Hades & Meg) this movie would've just been a mess of Pop-humor and formulaic storytelling.

But alas, there's enough charm, wit and competent art direction to make this a worthy candidate of the Disney name.

The Dark Knight
½

That perfect blend of drama, action and depth that you would rarely find in a Superhero film.

If there are any gripes with the movie it's the comic-book-esque storytelling that barely fits into the 2-hour visual medium. The plot often feels muddled with constant scene/setting changes, like telling several short stories to compile one larger one.

By comic book standards it's actually not very ground breaking but I suspect most movie-goers and critics alike are basing their reviews on what they've seen so far from the Superhero-MOVIE-genre.

Hopefully TDK isn't the last of it's kind.

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2(2004)

Better than the first, the themes and characters explored feel more mature and there's also a lot more emotion thrust into Peter Parker's character when he comes to terms with being Spidey. Combo'd with state of the art superhero CGI action and you've got yourself a winner.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine
½

The story was weak. So weak I'm convinced that I could've written something better in an hour considering the source material.

I mean Striker's big plan was to create a super-mutant to kill off all mutants as a pre-emptive strike for humanity? Only to have it beaten by just 2?

Sabertooth's portrayal was also a joke, the guy just didn't have the presence or build of the character.

X-Men
X-Men(2000)

The problem here is that X-men is phenomenal source material, there are many ideas that you can come up with plot-wise to really bring out the authenticity and drama of it's setting.

So what kind of ridiculous machine that only Magneto can use changes people into mutants? He can just control metal, I'm not convinced that these powers can't be replicated in a machine that's suppose to activate the "mutant gene"

Let's assume it's very complicated, then how would Rogue know how to do it just by having his powers?

See? Fucking stupid. Ruined the whole movie for me which is a shame because there were a lot of good things happening with the film as well.

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3(2007)

Too many ideas going at once. Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, Sandman and Venom? Pick one and thoroughly develop it, don't go around trying to please the fans by shoving every awesome villain/support character that they demand.

It's the age old "Quality over Quantity" argument.

Spider-Man
Spider-Man(2002)

It's fun, it's entertaining, it's Spider-man. Not much you can do with his origin story but holds enough interest with special effects that were pretty damn good for it's time.

The Lion King

Lion King has reached the status of "perfect" in the genre of animated films targeted at a general audience. Everything about this movie is spot-on; storyboarding, animation, voice acting, music. Absolutely astounding, Disney or any other company has yet to produce a movie of equal quality.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Likable Characters, you need at least one that isn't a talking CGI mouse. As far as fantasy epics go it was pretty standard. Standard sucks.

Thank You for Smoking
½

A brilliant comedy about the truth and how it has nothing to do with being right or wrong. That being judged isn't something to be ashamed of but merely a consequence of social ideologies. All strung together with the story of an average Joe just doing what he does best.

Up in the Air

Clooney is a man bound to a life of delusional elitism, happily living void of morality and finding pleasure in the little things. The movie's about this man trying to change his life becoming more, ultimately, failing because being "more" doesn't exist. It's a state of mind... or is it?

As a comedy it's brilliant, much in the same as Thank You For Smoking but less pretentious and more observational, poking fun at the truth.