Albert Kim's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Her
Her(2013)

Now as for starters, I am not a big fan of Spike Jonze's pictures. They come off as too weird or too alienating for many ("Being John Malkovich" anyone?). Funnily, "Her" isn't much of a departure in comparison to Jonze's earlier work, but it is, without a doubt, his most captivating.

Let's be real: "Gravity" was just unreal. Quite possibly one of the greatest shot films ever crafted. Well, after being nearly 1 year late watching this movie, I could say, "Her" would sure as hell won for best cinematography if "Gravity" never fell on our laps. It is a gorgeous movie to behold. Every single shot is a respectful homage to "Lost In Translation" with some "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and with a little Wes Anderson peppered in. Colors pop with soft textures throughout but tiptoed in with a subtle melancholy tone. It works marvelously with its comedic but yet love/heartbreak themes.

But even though the cinematography was vibrant, boy, Joaquin Phoenix plays an absolutely magnetic and nuanced performance. I don't care about his past troubles; this guy's talented. Now I've never seen Matthew's best acting performance in "Dallas Buyer's Club" to rightfully say whether his performance in that was any better than Phoenix's in "Her", but in no way should Phoenix be thrown in the back burner. His performance is a work of art.

But the biggest achievement that "Her" feats is the phenomenal narrative powered by a supercharged screenplay/directing on behalf of Spike Jonze himself. Without a doubt, "Her" is more of a quiet piece so you won't find much dialogue here ala "Lost in Translation", but Jonze doesn't impose this method in a swaggering way -- he portrays it with perfection. Emotions such as sadness, laughter, the sense of hope, the desire of love, and confusion are exceedingly palpable but not so much in a way that it's thrown in audiences faces -- it gracefully settles in, making the movie not so much of a viewing but more of an experience. There's no way these emotions would have been portrayed if Jonze didn't utilize the method that he inhabits with this flick. To put it in one word, the film as a whole is beautiful. It's a film crafted and paced so superbly, there seems to be no wrong note Jonze plays with this film. Bravo, Spike Jonze.

"Her" left me floored. Everything from the melancholy tone, to the symbolic imagery, to the captivating and infectious narrative, "Her" was a huge surprise for me. Without a doubt was "12 Years a Slave" the big winner for best picture, but "Her" comes in at a close 2nd or 3rd for me. Fair warning though: "Her" is a bit unsettling and it will leave people extremely weirded out, but "Her" is downright arresting.

Chappie
Chappie(2015)
½

After the refreshing "District 9" and the disappointing "Elysium" comes Blomkamp's third outing, "Chappie". Not much has changed, with the sci-fi elements and all, but my God, is this movie bad or what?

Let's talk about the good before this review turns sour: Blomkamp has the privilege to cast Dev Patel and the Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman in "Chappie" and they pull great performances like usual. With a great forefront cast like this, "Chappie" can't turn out too bad, right? But wait a minute -- this isn't their movie -- it's Ninja and Yolandi Visser's. The duo are marketed as the supporting cast when in fact, they're the face of the movie -- quite possibly even more so than the titular character, Chappie. And boy, what characters they play. They are, hands down, one of the most annoying characters in cinema history. The two are clearly presented as antagonists, always becoming a stumbling block for Dev Patel's character and always steering Chappie in a direction that is clearly destructive. But near the third act of the film, Blomkam forces viewers to have a change of heart, a different perspective, and feel empathy for these two characters when in fact, they have done absolutely nothing to prove otherwise. The duo continue to live a reckless life and have no regard to how much of an annoyance they are to Patel's future endeavors. Blomkamp does the worst possible sin that a filmmaker could make: force a view on viewers without any other choice. To boot, "Chappie" also has none of the spectacular action sequences "District 9" or "Elysium" had and it once again, has a preachy message.

"Chappie" is one of the worst movies I've seen in quite sometime. The storytelling is sloppy with annoying characters and a confusing bait-and-switch that leaves viewers dissatisfied.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
½

It's been a while since I've seen this so let's make this quick, yeah?

For a movie receiving so much hatred towards it that it has led audiences demanding Spider-Man to be freed from Sony's shackles, it really isn't THAT bad of a movie. Yes, there are many issues. As for one, "The Amazing Spider-Man" series continues to feel rushed and bloated thanks to Big Brother Sony. Because of this rush, the script suffers making the entire picture feel much smaller than what its intended vision is.

Let's be real though: Andrew Garfield steals the show as Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Whether it's the big action set-pieces to the quieter and intimate moments, Garfield delivers not only wonderfully but exceeds the expectations of what audiences demand of from a character like Peter Parker. He is THAT good, and so it is a shame that Marvel intends to dish out their own rendition of Spider-Man without Garfield in the picture.

Despite how phenomenal Garfield's performance is, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" still has more to offer. Yes, the overall movie does feel bloated, but the core story arc remains as riveting storytelling. This, coupled with great (albeit forgettable) action set-pieces, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" isn't so much the "Green Lantern" of Marvel movies.

You'll have an entertaining time -- just don't expect it to be the next Avengers film.

It Follows
It Follows(2015)

Dear Horror genre,
Back in the day, nightmares, sleepless nights, and nightlights were invented because of you. Figures were found in my closet and I was left breathing underneath my blanket, sweating, in hopes for "it" to go away because of you. Fast forward to today, nothing has resonated with me. You no longer leave me biting my nails away or pulling me towards the edge of my seat. Perhaps age has gotten the best of me, but "It Follows" is the best horror movie to have come out since "The Cabin in the Woods".

However, there's a huge misconception with "It Follows": this is not particularly a traditional horror movie. Some say it's a terrifying masterpiece and others say this is dreadfully boring. So then, let's bring clarity to this debate: what makes a scary movie scary? If loud jump scares does your bidding, this movie is not scary. But let's be real -- the horror genre lost its traction a long time ago. Why? Horror movies are completely dependent on jump scares. Screw tension, screw a nightmarish premise, let's throw in that good ol' violin screech. This very dependency raped the contemporary horror genre. As a result, audiences have bought the lie that scary movies are terrifying because of how high you jumped at these jump scares. You're calling that horror? That's just loud sounds.

"It Follows" combats traditional horror tropes with inventive devices. Coupled with a slow building tension, it's easy to say that "It Follows" is more closely identified as a more moody and chilling creeper than a fright-fest of jump scares. But there's no denying it, this film gave me the goosebumps. Kudos to director David Robert Mitchell for always making audiences feel claustrophobic with its smart use of its score and camerawork. Everything from its 360 revolving camerawork that shows something new with every angle, to its lingering shots, "It Follows" has perhaps the best cinematography to hit the horror genre ever alongside the impeccable "The Shining". But to be exact, this film does more as a film than a popcorn horror flick will ever do. With ambiguous shots and events that are open for debate, "It Follows" transcends higher than any "Paranormal Activity" movie will ever do. To say the least, I enjoyed this picture more so as an artistic film more so than a horror film.

"It Follows" has an incredibly creepy premise harnessed with fantastic cinematography and a genuine tension that left me breathless and waiting to learn more. It does not quite reinvent the wheel, but it sure did rejuvenate a dying genre.

Foxcatcher
Foxcatcher(2014)
½

There are some movies out there that could be considered slower-paced than most, and then there are those films where they move at such a snail's pace that the likes of caffeinated drinks and a purposeful mentality is needed before embarking on such a cinematic adventure. "Foxcatcher" is the latter.

"Foxcatcher" is a peculiar beast; not only is the legendary comedy star Steve Carrell playing quite possibly his first dark figure, but the film itself is a chilling tale that creeps at a lumbering pace. It isn't quite so slow however that progression occurs within an hour into the movie -- it just so happens that Bennett Miller reveals story progression crumb by crumb. By the time the film begins finalizing the final act, the narrative takes only 3 significant turns, revealing that the plot, in its entirety, is very slim in density. So why a whopping 2 hour and 10 minute running time for such a gaunt plot? Miller crafts the film to have the tone -- cold, haunting, and dreariness -- as its focal point. By the final minutes of the film, Miller successfully engulfs the audiences in a sludge of dread, betrayal, and confusion that's hard to shake off way after the film has come to a close.

"Foxcatcher" may not be the most fast-paced movie nor is it the most immersive, but just like "Requiem for a Dream", its subtle tone slithers around -- up the leg, to the neck. It's not quite the greatest movie that has ever hit cinema theaters, but its different approach to convey a dark, dreary, and cold world differ it from many other films.

Avengers: Age of Ultron
½

I was one of the few people that didn't particularly enjoy the first Avengers film. Yes yes, I know. It was enjoyable, but being heralded as one of the comic book movie greats? I beg to differ. With Joss Whedon taking the helm for the second time, "Age of Ultron" improves upon the first but not without its fair share of problems.

The Avengers faces an anomoly. With old and new faces alike, the Marvel universe -- the Avengers in particular -- continues to be a powerhouse because of its cast. From everyone including Robert Downey Jr. to the highly underrated Elizabeth Olsen, it's a feat to see so many great actors on one screen, but this is also the Avengers' greatest vice as well. The narrative, though it does fixate on key characters from time to time, is an absolute mess; it has the daunting task to give each and every character the limelight. It attempts to tell a convincing narrative where every character fulfills their role and convey their motives. Not only that, but the film also needs to leave room to new characters. So once the film takes the time to slow down to portray a character's story arch, it's not very effective. Surprisingly, Joss Whedon manages to make the film not feel bloated as bloated as the film sounds.

The Avengers faces much opposition with its very medium. The biggest sales pitch it provides is the wide array of different superheroes getting together. But its very own allure is also an almost impossible task -- to portray a cohesive, entertaining, immersive film alongside so many characters. There's no way to work around this issue when the very foundation of an Avengers movie is to bring many people together in one showdown.

Despite such an apparent flaw, "Age of Ultron" is a damn good time. Unlike the first film, action set-pieces carry weight. Though it doesn't carry impendent action-set pieces like "Captain America 2: The Winder Soldier", there is a level of tension in the sophomore outing that the first considerably lacked. This alone makes the action all the more exciting, exhilarating, and downright fun. Not only this, but Joss Whedon has a sure knack of writing great comedy bits. "Age of Ultron" is more witty, funny, action-packed, tense, and perhaps even more cohesive than its predecessor.

Yes, "Age of Ultron" hits a huge wall that perhaps can never be vaulted over in future Avengers films. But despite such a shortcoming, there's no denying that it overcomes many of its predecessor's flaws. Hell, it's summertime; enjoy it as it is: a damn good popcorn, action packed movie.

Ex Machina
Ex Machina(2015)

It's safe to say that because the sci-fi genre calls upon grandiose CGI spectacles and imagination, the genre is saturated with many blockbusters, albeit excellent blockbusters. "Ex Machina" comes into the fray with a very different vision that takes everything from a tired genre and humanizes it with very real questions. It's such a refreshing take that it's hard to see the genre the way Hollywood has in the past.

But don't get me wrong -- there's always room for sci-fi blockbusters. Everything from "Terminator 2" to "District 9", this genre alone has contributed to years and years of entertainment for Hollywood. However, "Ex Machina" doesn't seek to wow viewers with life-sized robotics and spectacles -- it challenges viewers, leaves them breathless, sitting at the edge of their seat questioning the characters' motives, analyzing what may happen next. The attention is in the ideals that it presents; the CGI and visionary elements of the sci-fi genre are just a mere backdrop for its compelling narrative. As much as sci-fi flicks has thrown millions of dollars into outstanding CGI set-pieces, "Ex Machina" is a well-rounded machine altogether (Sorry, that pun was too easy) -- breathtaking cinematography, a fascinating script, a pulse-pounding score that hits hard), and excellent performances to boot.

However, "Ex Machina" is not a light film nor is it for the average joe. Though it is intriguing throughout, the pacing does tend to seem slower than the average blockbuster film, but I personally did not have any issues with it. The main faltering factor with "Ex Machina" is that though it is primarily a very thought-provoking movie with very human elements sprinkled evenly across the narrative, too many ideas are thrown in, many left unquestioned -- not unquestioned like an open-ended film, but just as a mere question to jolt the mind. I would understand if there were hints of its answers as symbolism or small nuances as its vehicles, but there were none to be found (or perhaps I was too unaware to spot them). That doesn't say that all ideas are left unanswered, it's just that the film unravels an entire box full of ideas on the drawing board and chooses only a few as its focal point.

"Ex Machina" is an extremely ambitious and stylish thriller that challenges viewers with very real questions. It's broodingly dark, probably one of the most darkest sci-fi films I have seen to date, but an outstanding one that'll leave many breathless.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Matthew Vaughn, quite possibly the most overrated director of all time.
SAY WHAT ALBERT?

I'm sorry if I am speaking blasphemy but there are only a handful of his films that I've found entertaining, to be specific, the latter X-Men films. But when "Kick-Ass" came into the picture, everyone heralded it to be a damn good time. Not only was the direction sloppy, but the action was just downright boring. Now "Kingsman: The Secret Service" pervades into the scene with a swagger like James Bond with the attitude of an angry teenager ready to blow up. In that sense, it is a beast of its own, but everything else falls flat.

Coupled with a 007 like strut, "Kingsman" could have elaborated on a very interesting premise, but what you see in the trailers is what you get. There is nothing in particular that the narrative digs into that makes the world that Vaughn creates interesting. With that aspect of the film lacking, the only thing left for the film to exceed on is the action, and does it succeed? In one particular church scene, it does. With the camera zipping around with low frames per second shots, it can be exhilarating, but all the other action scenes can be summed up in one word: flat. This paired with some of the ugliest green screens, Vaughn once again fails to deliver.

"Kingsman: The Secret Service" has some shining moments to boast, but with an interesting premise to potentially elaborate on, Vaughn doesn't utilize it enough to make the film a resounding one.

Nightcrawler
Nightcrawler(2014)

"Nightcrawler" is one of those movies where you come to appreciate the movie to a high degree of praise, but at the same time, you tell yourself you never want to watch it again.

Yes --- this is a dark movie. Whether it's through the score, the plot, or even the cinematography, this film exudes a thick musk of slime, the kind that exemplifies the power of film in general. Every element to the film is essential to craft its tone and it delivers with flying colors. "Nightcrawler" is an excellently crafted movie.

In the first few minutes, "Nightcrawler" throws you right into the murky pits of Los Angeles into the slimy shoes of Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Lou Bloom. He's a man desperately looking to make a career; it just so happens that he finds his career as a freelance cameraman, finding financial and reputable success in others' tribulations. It's an interesting premise but "Nightcrawler" is essentially a character study of an exceedingly disturbing man in a cutthroat city. And boy, there would be no way to know this guy was highly disturbing without the magnificent performance by Gyllenhaal. This is his best performance by a huge margin to date.

But because this movie carries such a dingy tone, it's not an easy movie to watch. It's unsettling. You won't be walking out of the theatre ready to party, that's for sure.

"Nightcrawler" may not deserve best picture (and it didn't even get a nomination) but it is one that will haunt audience's minds, whether they'd like it to or not.

Gone Girl
Gone Girl(2014)
½

Ahh David Fincher. Another one of the few directors with little to no stinkers in his filmography. Everything from "Fight Club" to "Se7en" or even the straight-thriller "Panic Room", Fincher has proven to be an incredibly meticulous director. But let me be honest for a second: I am not a big fan of his work. Now, before you grab your pitchforks and torches, let me explain. His narratives for his films have always been solid, but his movies just simply did not stand out amongst the many other films during the 90's. It's only until Fincher delivered, "The Social Network" that I became deeply interested. Alas, Fincher now delivers "Gone Girl", arguably his best film to date.

If you've been keeping up with my personal reviews, It's a no-brainer that I'm not a fan of Affleck's many performances from the past. He has proven that he simply does not have the capacity to act. But couple that actor with Rosamund Pike? The girl from "Die Another Day", the worst movie from the Bond series of all time? That no-named detective that no one cared about in "Jack Reacher"??? Hell, why not throw in Tyler Perry? OMG, they did. And you know what? They were perfectly casted. Let me say that again:
They. Were. Perfectly. Casted.
I'm not gonna go to full lengths and say that they are commendable actors now, but I will say they were phenomenal in their roles here. "Wait, if they were phenomenal, why aren't they now considered triple A actors then?" Because their personalities as actors fit their characters like an old glove. Perhaps if they were casted as different characters, they wouldn't be as effective. Don't be surprised when Oscar season hits and Pike gets a nomination. She was that commanding.

But surprisingly, the real star of the show is not the actors or the original writer from the book. The real star is Fincher himself. Fincher proved in "The Social Network" that he was able to portray a narrative effectively but at the same time, inject emotions at any given moment. Here, Fincher is masterful. First of all, the film has Fincher's signature dark tones and colors, but man, the cinematography was beautiful. But perhaps the best quality that Fincher crafted was how the movie weaves in and out emotions like butter. At one moment, the director injects a genuine moment of curiosity and the next, he's able to make audience's skin curl with real disgust, but then throws in a curve ball by taking audience's breaths away with palpable tension. It's almost like Fincher is holding a belt of emotions and places it in wherever he wants, whenever he pleases. Fincher wields these emotions and plays it like a true puppeteer all the while having symbolism and a narrative that is so engrossing that the 2 hour and 30 minute run-time zipped by like lightning. He will get the nomination for best director once Oscar season hits. If not, it's without a doubt, a snub.

This is quite possibly the best film to have come out so far in 2014. It's absolutely arresting. One minute, you'll love characters, the next you'll hate them and vice versa. Emotions hit monumental levels and fluctuate all over the place as the impeccably told narrative treads along. With all these powerhouse performances and flawless direction by the likes of David Fincher, "Gone Girl" is elevated high up as the director's best film to date.

Interstellar
Interstellar(2014)

I have a confession: I was a Nolan head but am no longer. His earlier films like "Insomnia", "Memento", and "The Prestige", were crafted in Nolan's own distinctive style. But since he dabbled into Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking, he has compromised his fresh vision for an old and redone one. Yes, I admit it: I did not like "Inception" and "The Dark Knight Rises". Out comes another highly ambitious film -- "Interstellar". Much like many of Nolan's films, "Interstellar"'s plot was shrouded in mystery, so I cautiously bought my movie ticket to see if Nolan took some notes. I can say that the 9-time-movie director has crafted possibly his most mature and emotionally arresting movie to date.

Right off the bat, the visuals are extremely reminiscent to the likes of "2001: A Space Odyssey". Drawing inspiration from one of the most beautifully shot films of all time is not a bad thing whatsoever. The sweeping visuals are jaw droppingly gorgeous and what is even more amazing is that most of these sequences are shot primarily with practical effects.

Yes, at heart, "Interstellar" still remains a blockbuster, and hey, I don't have anything against blockbusters, but if a commendable director begins making blockbusters, he or she's gotta stick to their skills and craft it their own way, not Hollywood's way. I believe Nolan has done that with his latest two movies prior to "Interstellar". But surprisingly, Nolan crafts this film to be a slow burn. Gone are the flurry of quick cuts between Alfred opening an elevator and Gordon stopping a mayor and a judge getting blown and Harvey Dent getting rejected. It worked for "The Dark Knight" as it seemingly meshed well with the theme of "chaos", but it absolutely did not work in "The Dark Knight Rises". Here, "Interstellar" starts from beginning to end in chronological order, giving the film a very natural organic, and mature tone.

But by far the biggest achievement that this film succeeds on are not the outer space, mind blowing shots that twirl around with finesse -- it's the emotional tug with the characters. Nolan has never done character development well for any of his films. I repeat -- never. Just take a look back; "Inception" had a puzzling story that dug into multilayered portions of the narrative that made it fascinating, but the entire core of the film that was about Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Mal's relationship had absolutely no weight. Even "Memento", undoubtedly my favorite Christopher Nolan film, had an interesting concept of memory but yet the main character was a character that audiences had no attachment with. Here, Nolan drives the characters home and tugs at the heartstrings so powerfully that I almost choked up. The anchor that hinges this powerful emotional core is Matthew McConaughey's visceral performance. His presence coupled with the superb direction and Hans Zimmers score (quite possibly his best score he's ever made) makes the close-to-3-hour-film zip by super fast.

It's where the 3rd act begins is where many people have issues with "Interstellar". Now as of today, I have rated close to 600 films via Flixster and quite possibly on every single one of my reviews have I never actually talked about the details of the film itself nor have I criticized certain plot turns that films take (other than "The Game" by David Fincher). The plot can take a turn this way or that way but that is not what dictates a good or bad movie. So the common misconception many have is that people are having issues of where the actual narrative takes them. I am here to say regardless of what specifically happened in the 3rd act, it is a design choice. I still believe that the WAY it was told was still excellently crafted. It all comes down to the audience's suspension of disbelief. Yet, I'll have to admit -- "Interstellar"'s 3rd act could've ended 10 minutes shorter. There is a certain part of the movie where if "Interstellar" ran the credits, the movie would be stellar (no pun intended). But because Nolan ties up any kind of loose ends, the ending feels too much like a neatly wrapped present.

Hope has risen once again. After being disappointed by recent Nolan films, I was pleasantly surprised by "Interstellar". It kept me gripped to my seat waiting to see what would happen next. Nolan has proven that he does not need to solely rely on an extremely witty premise for his narrative; he's proven here that he is equipped with the ability to concoct deeply interesting characters in a marvelously mysterious and deeply imaginative universe.

The Raid 2
The Raid 2(2014)
½

The critically-acclaimed and wildly popular foreign film, "The Raid" was a massive success -- critically acclaimed and wildly popular amongst many moviegoers both American or non-American. So why not make a sequel? Who didn't see this coming? You know, I'm surprised to say it myself, but I was not a fan of the first iteration; for a film that was almost 90% action, the fight choreography was not inventive and extremely repetitive. Well, with a sequel now out receiving huge rave once again, I had to give this soon-to-be trilogy a second chance.

Now one would immediately think that before seeing "The Raid 2", they'd have to watch its predecessor. You're absolutely wrong. The only snippet of story the first iteration has is the beginning 10 minutes of the film. The rest is a knuckle-bashing frenzy. So for a film that is positively reviewed despite being a senseless action flick, one would probably think the sequel wouldn't take any risks and emulate the same formula. What ain't broke, don't fix, am I right? But I'm proud to say that "The Raid 2" not only takes a huge gamble to attempt to portray a compelling crime drama coupled with mixed martial arts action, but it succeeds in doing so.

"The Raid 2" is almost a completely different film to its earlier iteration and it's all for the better. For instance, the cinematography -- its gorgeous, done with purpose, and expertly shot. In times of silence and even in times of lightning fast flurries of kicks, elbows, and punches, the film is stunning to look at. Perhaps the greatest change though is how the entire film caters to its core story of deception and violence. Before? Pff, I wouldn't even be able to tell you the story of the first cause there was hardly ever one. Here, the story works which then is followed up with what everyone's looking forward to -- the martial arts action. It truly delivers especially because the story's tension elevates it to such greater heights than its predecessor ever did. Is there as much action as the first? No, but quality is better than quantity, and boy it's like eating a filet mignon here instead of a cheap steak from Denny's. The fighting choreography still remains somewhat the same from the first but because of the narrative and the camerawork, it carries much more weight and better pacing.

"The Raid 2" was world's better than the first. From the arresting story, to the beautiful camerawork, to the action, I thoroughly enjoyed my time. No longer will this soon-to-be trilogy continue on to be a mindless action franchise. It's won me over.

Godzilla
Godzilla(2014)

Following the surprisingly interesting "Monsters", Gareth Edwards is back for his second outing with a daunting task -- portraying the classic tale of Godzilla in a fresh way. Does he succeed? He certainly does.

Campy, outrageous, and comical are some words that come to mind when thinking of the absurd amount of Godzilla movies that were made. With Edwards' fresh new take on "Godzilla", the mythical beast has once again become a feared and mysterious force. All this is credit to Edwards' smartly built up tension. Perhaps through 45 minutes of the movie do you even see Godzilla, but it keeps audiences gripped and anxious to finally feast their eyes on the monster. And when you do, wow, what a sight to behold. The special effects are absolutely stunning. And as the movie progresses, it continues to reward audiences with more and more with a fire-breathing finale that is nothing short of crowd-pleasing. Funnily, "The Avengers" suffers because it didn't take the same approach "Godzilla" did; what should've been a jaw-dropping union between a handful of comic book superstars becomes a limp and weak get-together. Kudos Edwards.

However, one of the biggest issues monster films tend to get stuck on are the lackluster human stories. "Cloverfield" was superbly effective because the narrative was completely focused on the human side of a monster attack. This is where "Godzilla" stumbles to an extent. For a film that is trying to portray a much grittier tone, the writing was jarringly campy. However, the brilliantly casted Bryan Cranston lifts what is a lackluster script to supreme levels. Yes, his portrayal as Walter White in the "Breaking Bad" series was excellent, but Cranston does a jaw-droppingly phenomenal job here.

"Godzilla" is a breath of fresh air for what was becoming a very stale movie franchise, but it does have many faults such as the writing and the weak human story, but this a very good step in the right direction for what is an iconic monster.

He Got Game
He Got Game(1998)
½

Spike Lee, dare I say, is the first Hollywood spokesman of black culture, and what do you know, Denzel's involved with another one of his projects, "He Got Game".

"He Got Game" may just seem like just another basketball movie but underneath the hood is a compelling story about tension between a father and son. And for the most part, the story sells itself. Coupled with the great Denzel and even Ray Allen, there's a lot of opportunity. However, because this film was made near the beginning of the permeation of black culture into Hollywood, it fails to develop a true tone that encapsulates what black culture is truly about. Don't get me wrong -- Spike Lee vividly portrays the culture through the narrative, but the writing and the score becomes extremely tacky. Raw and gritty scenes occur throughout which is, at times, shocking but it's all paired with a very "Disney" like music. It's extremely jarring.

In the end, it's all about how effective the movie was. And was it? Absolutely. With the sharp direction from the eyes of Spike Lee, to the superb acting from Denzel, "He Got Game" not only sells itself as a captivating story, but also as a solid film.

12 Years a Slave
½

Solomon Northup -- once a free man, next is detained as a slave.

Steve McQueen, with his third directorial outing, crafts a powerful social commentary/biopic about slavery, a topic that's been covered through almost all mediums rigorously, but none is quite as commanding as "12 Years a Slave".

Now, a quick glance at McQueen's filmography can make even the coldest person sigh a sigh of sorrow ("Hunger" or "Shame" anyone?). It's a no brainer that McQueen has delivered dismal films and quite honestly, "12 Years a Slave", which is based on a book named, you guessed it, "12 Years a Slave", is no different. You will be uncomfortable. You will squirm in your seat. You may or may not cry; I'm not judging the macho men out there. It's all a testament to McQueen's incredible expertise in concocting narratives with absurdly palpable emotion. The techniques don't feel cheap, overused, or a ploy to simply stir the audience's heartstrings. McQueen delivers an incredibly powerful narrative -- nothing more, nothing less.

Which is another reason to commend McQueen -- he solely leaves the narrative power to the actors and screenplay. I've always had issues with Chiwetel Ejiofor after his disappointing performance in "Children of Men" or "Four Brothers". But after seeing the quieter moments, as he stared off into space in despair, that's when I knew that this is his best performance to date. McQueen trusted Ejiofor. He was unafraid to leave the camera rolling as Ejiofor conjured up emotions of grief and hurt. And what more can I say about Michael Fassbender? Though I've got to admit that he couldn't quite hold up a Southern accent, he was captivating nonetheless. But the real power came from behind the camera -- Steve McQueen himself. He directed "12 Years a Slave" masterfully, orchestrating and juggling different emotions one after the other. As a result, the ending brought a tear to my eyes, a first for a movie, ever. Yes, I admit it. Don't hate.

On such topics such as this, it's real easy for filmmakers to get lost in the depression of it all. The whippings, the harassment, the yellings, and all the hurt can really get to you and as a whole, make the film just feel like a bash fest. "The Pursuit of Happyness" falls victim to this and ends up becoming a movie that is simply about Will Smith's character going through crap. But perhaps the greatest part about this film is the ending. This is quite possibly one of the greatest endings put to film. All the emotions that generated from the beginning of the film to the end culminate and are fully realized in the last few scenes. It's absolutely overwhelming and one that is bound to move many.

"12 Years a Slave" is arresting, a film that needs to be watched and is easily the best movie that touches on the topic of slavery. Even more so, it is a film that is both informative, extraordinarily emotional, and an incredible eye-opener to slavery's mental destruction to man.

Elysium
Elysium(2013)
½

After the wildly refreshing "District 9", Neil Blomkamp's back to bring yet another gritty vision of a dystopian future ala "Elysium".

"Elysium" consists of the same bread and butter formula of "District 9": Cathartic, entertaining action coupled with a cautionary tale that's relevant with today's world issues. And what breathtaking action it is; it's quick, blunt, and visceral. Where action flicks like the James Bond films entertain audiences by harmoniously balancing the fisticuffs action, gunplay, and the cunning use of environmental dangers, "Elysium"'s action is best when it displays the imaginative weaponry of its universe -- it's that simple. Of course, it wouldn't be as entertaining as it is if it weren't for its dazzling special effects.

But what helps "Elysium" stand on its own amongst its competition within the action/sci-fi genre is its message -- a message that's relevant to contemporary times. The future, much like "District 9", is dark, dreary, and left with even more problems than we have it in 2014. Despite the rawness and dizzying violence that Blomkamp portrays, the cathartic action and ingeniously crafted weaponry envisioned by the crafty mind of Blomkamp interestingly shows Blomkamp's inner child -- a sucker for cool guns and awesome exploding bodies which helps tone down the dreariness of its narrative. For the most part, the message is clear and direct, easy enough for the average joe to spot, but this message and the cathartic action is all "Elysium" devotes to. Audiences soon realize that the characters are crafted as mere cogs in a machine, all in the name conveying a message relevant to contemporary times. Yes, the characters undergo the same emotional tropes a real person may feel, but their side of the story gets lost in the dust.

Where "District 9" had an incredibly captivating universe, a relevant message, and character development that was truly commanding, "Elysium" has all but the latter. Thus, "Elysium"'s lasting effect is a bludgeoning one -- one that will be quickly forgotten especially when Oscar season hits. Don't get me wrong: "Elysium" was fantastic fun, but even though the message had good intentions and may be relevant with our times, it's simply not relevant on a personal level.

Back to the Future

Oh yes, an 80's classic that still is the talk of the town whenever words like best blockbuster flicks of all time are thrown into a conversation. Quite honestly, I remember seeing snippets of "Back to the Future" when I was younger, but never did I sit through from the opening scene to the ending credits. Finally in the year 2013, after 28 memorable years of movies, I can proudly say that I have finally seen one of the greatest blockbusters of all time.

28 years... it's really been that long? Undoubtedly, "Back to the Future" shows some age: Michael J. Fox is extremely young, the special effects look dated, and the camerawork isn't on the same caliber as today's standards. But those are only just minor complaints for an otherwise impeccably well-made film. What holds it up after the test of time? It's the interesting premise involving the paradox of time travel that still continues to be mimicked by multiple other Sci-fi flicks. Premise alone is nothing, but with effective drama, real tension, and entertaining narrative dips and dives, "Back to the Future" manages to be a well-rounded blockbuster movie. "Back to the Future" was and still is a one-of-a-kind.

With a new generation of film lovers coming our way, I'm afraid that "Back to the Future"'s gonna be forgotten in a pile of other movies that were directly influenced by "Back to the Future" itself. Don't let its age scare you. It is worth your time and is one of those few rare flicks that is rewatchable time and time again.

Jack the Giant Slayer

"Fe-fi-fo-fum"

Ahh yes, time for Hollywood to once again churn out yet another rendition to an old fairy-tale and give it that desperately needed "Hollywood flavor".
...Kidding.
The victim to Hollywood's incessant attempt to destroy yet another classic tale: Jack and the Beanstalk.
It's everything that I was coming to expect: gratuitous on CGI, poor screenplay, and a trade-off of stellar storytelling for heavy action. "Jack the Giant Slayer" looks like one of those movies that, sure, has Hollywood's backing, but neither would be a good movie or a box-office powerhouse. Especially after seeing the ratings hitting just near-shy of fresh, this live action rendition of a classic folk tale never caught my attention, but to my surprise, "Jack the Giant Slayer" is 2013's guilty pleasure.

Unfortunately, that's where all the surprises come to a screeching halt. You can't get a much more Hollywood movie than "Jack the Giant Slayer", and you know what? That's perfectly fine. Don't expect Oscar-worthy performances even when we got the likes of acting veterans Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci. But what truly makes "Jack the Giant Slayer" shine is that though the film is hefty on CGI, the story itself has just enough action injected into the source material's narrative that brings a quality of an entertaining adventure movie into life. It's not too much and not too little. And because the original source material remains a classic fairy tale because of its compelling storytelling nature, "Jack the Giant Slayer" seemingly manages to stand on its own two feet when the action dies down.

I'm not saying that you should go out and watch it immediately. "Jack the Giant Slayer" is a passable cable movie viewing because of its entertaining nature -- just don't come with high expectations. I could shred this movie to pieces of all the things it doesn't do right, but what it does do right is entertain audiences, whether through the cathartic action or when it unravels the universe of the fairy tale. Perhaps that's all the average joe may be looking for at the movies.

Gravity
Gravity(2013)
½

Text slowly fades in and out on a blank, dark screen, revealing the cold harsh rules of space. A gradual crescendo of ringing resonates throughout the theater as we're again met with a blank screen. The ringing escalates more and more. By now, it's unbearable. The title of the film fades in: "Gravity". Suddenly, everything cuts. Silence. You could hear the projector rolling in the back. Canvased on screen is a drop-dead gorgeous shot of Earth out in expansive blackness of space. That's when I knew, I was in for a treat.

Alfonso Cuaron, the director of "Children of Men", crafts a film 4 years in the making, and boy do you see it. "Gravity" has some of the most stunning visuals America has seen since "2001: A Space Odyssey" with a narrative that's brimming with unequivocally palpable tension that hasn't been witnessed since "No Country for Old Men". "Gravity" is the definition of masterful directing.

First off, it doesn't get much deeper than what the title of the film presupposes. It's about astronauts caught in a "Cast Away"-like scenario except in space. So for the short running time of an hour and 30 minutes, you're expecting a narrative that's not much deeper than "nature vs. man". But Alfonso goes further, bringing just enough depth to the central protagonist, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) via imagery and symbolism that is subtle and unobtrusive. But that's not what the heart of "Gravity"'s at, right? "Gravity" is a survival movie. Well, from left to right, Alfonso delivers haymaker after haymaker with armrest-gripping tension that separates "Gravity" from 95% of other thrillers. With such high praises, "Gravity" already stands alone with the few other great movies out there, but what escalates "Gravity" to masterful levels is the superb use of sound, immaculate cinematography, and jaw-droppingly impeccable camerawork.

Still to this day, "Children of Men" is regarded as a movie with the 2nd best cinematography of all time by AFI, just nearly being outdone by the visually impeccable, "Amelie". Personally, "Children of Men" still makes my jaw drop especially during those breathtaking one-take shots. "Gravity" arguably hits new levels. The cinematography is absolutely stunning -- I'm talking masterpiece level. And just like Alfonso's previous movie, there are some one-take shots in "Gravity" that led me to stand up and applaud (I'm sure many were just as impressed as I was, but there I was alone, clapping away like an idiot). Even in moments of seemingly-eerie peace, "Gravity" hits levels of some of the best cinematography cinema has ever graced. What a monumental achievement to have such superb cinematography even when CGI comprises most of the film.

"Gravity" may not have a groundbreaking or an innovative narrative, but man, Alfonso sure takes the material he has to eye-widening limits. "Gravity" is nothing short of a masterpiece, a monumental stepping stone that brings Alfonso that much closer to being regarded as one of Hollywood's greats. This is, by a long run, the best movie of 2013 so far.

Don Jon
Don Jon(2013)

"All aboard the Gordon-Levitt train!" they said.
I said, "No."

Just look at this with a sober mind: Joseph Gordon-Levitt's undoubtedly a solid and consistent actor, but don't you think he's being praised too highly? C'mon now -- some are praising him as the actor of our age. A bit too excessive, don't you think? If you're talking that talk, then let's recall back to his previous outings: "50/50", "500 Days of Summer", "The Outlook", "Looper". He certainly had shining moments of glory, but for the most part, he plays his roles adequately, not superbly. Well here we are with his directorial debut, "Don Jon". Just like his acting career, he does a fine job -- nothing more, nothing less.

I'll give it this: "Don Jon" has a unique style straight from the mind of Gordon-Levitt. With quick cuts, Italian shlock-like dialogue, and snappy camerawork, "Don Jon" is slick around the edges. On a technical level, "Don Jon" is a solid flick. You can't help but to see because of the amount of experience Gordon-Levitt's been under, it's really propelled "Don Jon" to be not only an entertaining flick, but a technical achievement as well, especially for his first outing as writer and director. So what's the problem? It just about dabbles into several genres without mastering one. It's a comedy/romance/drama but none of these genres within the narrative is compelling enough. More so than the other genres, "Don Jon" is more of a comedy, especially when coupled with the dialogue and editing style, but never do you laugh out loud. More so, the romance and the drama are merely scratched. So by the end of the film, though you were entertained, none of it resonates with you.

Undeniably, this is a strong outing for first-time director, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's confident, snappy, and filled with energy; just don't expect to be wowed, praising the movie to be one of the best films of the year. It'll be a fun time (maybe uncomfortable especially for a first-time date) at the movies, but that's all "Don Jon" extends to.

Only God Forgives

What in the F did I just watch?

After the wildly successful and critically-acclaimed "Drive", Refn crafts yet another visually impeccable film, "Only God Forgives". With Gosling going on-board for yet another outing, it seemed like "Only God Forgives" would be, once again, another smash hit. But after hearing about how the film was booed at the Cannes festival, and how low it hit on the tomatometer, I became cautious but reserved. Let me get this out of the way: If you thought "Drive" was confusing, "Only God Forgives" is gonna leave you in the dust.

The narrative of Drive was very linear and simple to follow, but it was coupled with an art-house style that, one way or the other, left viewers puzzled. You could almost say that though "Drive" was an art house film, it leaned more towards a linear type of storytelling. On the other hand, "Only God Forgives"'s narrative is a confusing one. It's married with out-of-the-blue-esque scenes and extremely confusing characters. It's pretty easy to say that "Only God Forgives" is very much an art house film in nature. I'm all for art-house films, and of all the extreme art-house films I have seen, I would have to say that "Only God Forgives" is the easiest to interpret, but all in all, was it a good time? No. It's a little too confusing, a bit too pretentious, a bit soulless and the story must be meticulously studied to be understood. By the time it's fully interpreted, the message of the movie just doesn't have the power as it should because of how it had to be studied. It's in the revelations that viewers go through that makes "Only God Forgives" an entertaining experience.

Overall, "Only God Forgives" is one of the most stylish looking films I've seen all year long, and the direction is top-notch, but because of how hidden the messages and themes are, the impact that the filmmaker wants to tell loses its power.

This Is the End
½

Witty punchlines was Seth Rogen's bread and butter for his comedic career. So why not write the script of a movie filled with a legendary comedic cast? Sounds like a win-win situation. But "This is the End" is a prime example of Seth Rogen's lack of writing experience. Though "This is the End" is brash, crude, and plain raunchy, from beginning to end, it was not funny -- it's as simple as that.

I'm all up for comedies driven by strong writing, and for the most part, "This is the End" flows like a dialogue-driven film. But as minutes go by, you soon realize that the writing is underwhelming, and by the end of the film, you realize that you didn't laugh too much. Acting's surprisingly great for the most part, and the charisma put into this project is nothing short of commendable. In the end, it all comes crashing down when its missing the meat of what "This is the End" should have: comedy.

As a big fan of Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson, I'm sad to say that I was sorely disappointed with "This is the End". Hey, maybe you'll have your insides bursting with laughter with this one, for I was one of the few that disliked "Ted", but "This is the End" didn't cut the deal for me.

Fast & Furious 6
½

With the series on its 6th iteration, it's pretty easy to quickly assume that it's running on fumes like the rest of the redundant sequels churning out of Hollywood. "Fast & Furious 6" blows all of its previous iterations out of the water with the, you could say, reboot of the franchise with "Fast Five".

Let's get this straight -- this is a stupid action flick, as were all the other Fast & Furious movies. Horrible dialogue: check. Over-the-top action sequences: check. Horrendous acting: check (I'm still looking at you Paul Walker... how you still have a career in Hollywood, I don't know). Nevertheless, "Fast & Furious 6" is simply an incredibly enjoyable time all due to really solid direction in the action sequences. Now, I'm one of the few folks that though I enjoyed "Fast Five", felt like the film itself was hampered by the times it slowed down and got into the story. But once the mouths shut and the action did the talking, it was a blast; I can't say that for many action movies nowadays. "Fast & Furious 6" may not have a set-piece as astounding as the finale of "Fast Five", but it fixes the problems Five had. This flick leaves little room for dialogue and is essentially 2 hours of pure action. I know what you're saying: "You're a pure adrenaline junkie." No, I agree; movies with too much action is boring and soulless. But like I said, "Fast & Furious 6" is purely held up all due to its excellent direction.

Looking for a stupid mindless flick? Watch Expendables 2. Looking for a stupid mindless flick that is ACTUALLY A LOT OF FUN? Watch "Fast & Furious 6".

Trance
Trance(2013)
½

Michael Mann's forte is crime dramas; Steven Spielberg's forte is blockbuster flicks; Nicolas Winding Refn's forte is art-house, violent pictures. Danny Boyle's is... what is it? Boyle's really stretched himself to be a director that tackles a variety of differing genres. Everything from sci-fi to a children's fantasy flick, Boyle has really built up not only a colorful filmography, but a truly impressive one as well. Following the aftermath of the commendable "Slumdog Millionaire" and "127 Hours" comes "Trance", a mind-trip ala "Inception", but even more imaginative and mind-boggling. Overall, it's a much more enjoyable and bigger mind tease compared to Nolan's lackluster dream flick, but by the time the 3rd act hits, the narrative becomes way too far-fetched to keep viewers engaged.

Boyle is a masterful storyteller. You could say that "Trance" is one of his more lighter projects compared to his other ambitious efforts, but it's not to say that this film wasn't crafted with the same amount of finesse as his other films. Everything from the storytelling, cinematography, and dialogue, Boyle sweeps viewers in along the ride. Everything's smooth sailing until the story begins to reveal its inevitable "twist" at the end. It's in the 3rd act when "Trance" begins to break its suspension of disbelief and begins to rear its ugly head, but albeit, it's not as ridiculously far-fetched like "Now You See Me". You could almost say, the twist took me out of its trance. YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

Overall, "Trance" is a truly entertaining, mind-boggling trip that is imaginative, suspenseful, and truly engaging. Though the finale does take viewers of the experience, "Trance" still manages to remain a commendable film to watch.

Life of Pi
Life of Pi(2012)

An incredibly captivating story of the titular character, Pi, that ingeniously thrusts audiences so closely with the main message of the movie. I don't think any movie has questioned and talked to me in such a direct but powerful way like "Life of Pi" did.

At the heart of it, "Life of Pi" is a drama/survival flick. With a movie so grounded thematically, people quickly assume that this is an art-house film. I respond with a resounding no. "Life of Pi" is crafted with such cohesion; everything to the plot, actors, script, and cinematography mesh together to bring an entertaining but thoughtful piece of art. Let me tell you, the visuals are absolutely gorgeous. I still think best cinematography should've went to "Skyfall", but that doesn't make "Life of Pi" an ugly one though; the art direction and the colors truly pop off the screen here.

"Life of Pi" is, in my opinion, what should've taken the cake for best picture. Yeah, I enjoyed "Django Unchained" and "Skyfall" more, but as a whole, "Life of Pi" covers all the bases of what makes a real solid film.

Now You See Me

No, I don't see you.

"Now You See Me" is one of those films that aspires to baffle audience's minds with a grand twist that no one is able to predict, but it's done in such over-exaggerated fashion; reminds me of "Lucky Number Slevin".

The premise is a strange one: magicians pulling off a real heist in front of an audience to have them marvel over the mysterious qualities of magic. If there was a plot that broke all suspension of disbelief, here it is. Oh, and you can see that this movie wants to throw a game-changing twist at the end that'll leave audiences with their jaws dropped to the floor. But by the end of the movie, you can't help but think that filmmakers made too many compromises with the plot just for the element of surprise. Undeniably, you won't see the twist, but that's because the twist is just too far-fetched. Okay, so let's say that the twist wasn't as compelling as the movie wanted it to be. How's the plot? Well, because everything's riding on the twist to be a haymaker, everything else is basically foreplay for the ending. And you know what? Movies that do that are usually pretty entertaining. I'm sad to say that "Now You See Me" lands pretty low on that list.

"Now You See Me" is pretentious, flamboyantly squaking away, making promises that are never fulfilled. "Now You See Me", I'm sorry but I don't see you.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)

What's up Goku?

Complaints were thrown all over the place after the disappointing "Superman Returns" hit the silver screen.
"Where's the action?"
"This Superman movie is boring."
"All Superman does is lift things."
Blah, blah, blah.

I, too, was disappointed with "Superman Returns". But I'll give it this: that film was the truer form of the comic book superhero compared to "Man of Steel".

Running off the fumes of the successful Dark Knight trilogy, "Man of Steel" attempts to carry the same tone as that trilogy, but it only serves as tone. The dark tone doesn't cohesively mesh with the plot, especially because the Superman saga is essentially a sci-fi action flick. "That's alright," I thought. As long as "Man of Steel" portrays an entertaining rendition of the rise of Superman, I'm good. Nope. "Man of Steel" adds nothing fresh or new to the old tale. Doesn't matter still -- as long as the drama for an old tale works, I'm sold. "Man of Steel" still comes out stilted. It makes me wonder why a film about the genesis of Superman was needed in the first place, and this is coming from someone that has not seen one Superman movie that starred Christopher Reeves.

It clicked: This movie was made purely to address the complaints of "Superman Returns". Oh, and it tried to redeem Superman's reputation, alright. What is, for the first half of the film, a somber and brooding film, explodes out into a Dragon Ball Z-esque, face smashing, concrete-breaking, building-exploding frenzy of quick cuts. Hey, if you thought "Superman Returns" was boring for Superman's lack of aggression, you sure get the complete opposite side of him in "Man of Steel". For the most part, the action is somewhat entertaining, but it's all cathartic violence with over-the-top set-pieces. In a crux, it's all mindless and forgetful. Possibly for that split second, you'll find yourself entertained, but once you walk to your car from the movie theater, you'll instantly forget. Albeit, you've never seen Superman action like this before. Gone are the weak-sauce green screen Superman action scenes. "Man of Steel" is rife with bodies being thrown through multiple stories of buildings, complete with skyscrapers falling on larger-than-life characters. You've never seen action in a live action movie like it. Still doesn't make it a marvelous achievement though.

All in all, "Man of Steel" is jarringly disappointing. The beginning half is a drama that never seems to stand on its two feet and the last half is an over-the-top action flick that doesn't exactly coexist with its tone. It's Zack Snyder's best movie, but that's not exactly saying much.

The Place Beyond The Pines

What may come off as a small tale about a group of characters turns out to be an incredibly ambitious epic drama. Sounds great, right? Wrong. "The Place Beyond the Pines" is the perfect example of a film that's extremely ambitious -- perhaps too ambitious that it becomes over-bloated with themes and messages.

Without getting into the meat of the plot for spoiler's sake, "The Place Beyond the Pines" cuts right down to three different acts. Undoubtedly, each act is especially effective in delivering riveting drama complete with its own themes, messages, and downright brutal questions it asks audiences. But clocking in at 2 hours and 21 minutes, "The Place Beyond the Pines" has a hard time keeping audiences emotionally involved with all of its characters as the story transitions from one act to the other. So then by the end of the movie, there's so many messages, themes, and characters that "The Place Beyond the Pines" embodies that you can't help but feel distant from the movie.

If "The Place Beyond the Pines" were split into a trilogy or a TV miniseries, it would work, but it unfortunately falls under its own roof for its ambitious expectations.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Retaliation's a confusing one; it's a sequel AND a reboot. I don't see the need for a reboot; the first one was, albeit, a forgettable flick, but it wasn't such a stinkball. Regardless, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" dropped into theaters and it delivered exactly what it intended to do: mind-numbing, over-the-top action. Yet, it was so unfulfilling.

I think action directors need to understand something here. Though many old-school action flicks may not have the production value, over-the-top spectacle, or the creativity within its action scenes, audiences still left theaters thoroughly pleased. They resonated with the film and there was, for the most part, positive feedback. But why is it nowadays when we see even grander, more epic, and larger-than-life looking explosions and set-pieces that we leave extremely disappointed even when the exact purpose of watching that particular flick was for mindless action? I think it's the lack of magnetic characters and the director's lack of understanding the art of shooting not only engaging but memorable action set-pieces. Retaliation misses it's mark exactly for those two reasons.

Hey, I'll be the first to admit: its predecessor had a horrible story, but there ain't much to draw up from its source material, and that's completely fine. In fact, the first live-action outing of G.I. Joe was perhaps more faithful to the show than Retaliation ever was, tonally that is. Right from the start, the film decides to throw in a screwball into the narrative, which admittedly surprised me, but right afterwards, the story lacks any sort of an engaging plot, heart, and the cartoon-y tone. Let's just put it like this: you just don't care what happens.

Alright, so let's just brush that aside and admit that Retaliation's story sucks -- how's the action? It's bigger, it's shot with precision, but even more forgettable than "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra". Don't get me wrong: from the moment you set your eyes on action-packed galore, it fills your senses. You're enamored and almost hypnotized by the endless explosion flurry. The second it ends, the second it leaves your mind.

Retaliation's just another big budget, mindless action movie. Nothing new here. Just another forgettable, testosterone-packed flick thrown on top of an entire decade bloated with movies just as forgettable. The ninja cliffhanger-esque scene was pretty badass though.

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

I commend Dr. Seuss for his creative writing that intertwines silly and ingenious rhyming with a heartfelt message and story. In Hollywood, you can't just let talent like that be untouched, so what's Hollywood gonna do? They've gotta transform his book into a movie, and you know what? Surprisingly, this animated adaptation stays true to the source material... to an extent. Let's set this on a scale: the movie's an hour and 26 minutes long while the masterfully written counterpart hits less than 50 pages. An adaptation of the book would hit a mere 20 minutes. So, to prolong the running time, the creators of the adaptation decided to bring on additional writers to fill in the gaps. Let's say this: these writers hardly compare to Dr. Seuss. It's the same old "MTV-esque" jokes and pop culture references thrown in just so kids could get a quick laugh. Don't get me wrong though, the movie follows the same twists and turns as the book, but in between those turns are prolonged sequences of average dialogue. And the quality of this dialogue sticks out like a sore thumb especially when the film itself has sequences of Dr. Seuss' own writing within the mix. As you can see, there's two jarringly different types of dialogue within the film: one is witty, sharp, and smooth while the other is like any other average everyday type of banter. It gives the entire film an inconsistent tone. The original story had an incredibly pure and powerful message that was both direct and deeply moving. Fortunately, Hollywood didn't strip it out, but because of these tonal inconsistencies, by the time the film reveals its message, it isn't as powerful. As a matter of fact, even the 1970 TV adaptation of "Horton Hears a Who" executes its message and story more cohesively than this film.

All in all, Dr. Seuss' writing was so creative and influential that in fact, it brings out the rough edges to what may seem like Hollywood's attempt to revive a "non-relatable children's book", when in fact, the original children's book is the best version of the story. But, there's no doubt that if you haven't even touched the original story, this version'll suffice.

Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher(2012)

I was surprised -- I didn't expect it to be so much of a mystery movie instead of a balls-to-the-wall action flick like the trailers made it out to be. Sadly, that's where all the surprises comes to a screeching halt. "Jack Reacher"'s a film that -- yes, is very formulaic -- does everything without delivering the goods of a formulaic flick. It's entertaining, I'll give it that, but it doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, nor does it try to add flavor to the cards it's dealt with (except for one scene).

I don't know too much about the details of its production, but all I know is that it's based off a series of books on a character named Jack Reacher. I don't mind that Tom Cruise doesn't fit the physical build of what Reacher was described to be, or if it follows the book to the T -- I just mind if this is a good movie or not, and for the most part, it failed to deliver a narrative worthy enough to be written (based off of the movie of course). It goes somewhere along the lines of Reacher, a badass who takes the law-by-the-balls with no sensitivity for upholders, finding the hardline truths behind a homicide scene. From here, the film takes the linear route of point A to B, which I don't mind at all. It's not a character-study; it's not a compelling art-house flick with idiosyncratic shots; this is a mystery-thriller. Hey, as long as this journey to point B is a palpable journey for the audience members, I'm all ears. Unfortunately, "Jack Reacher" -- though entertaining for its action sequences -- is a generic mystery movie with flatline characters at best -- so flat in fact, that it makes me wonder why Jack Reacher is such a compelling character worthy enough to have a book series lined up for him. I understand that these are merely problems from this movie itself and not the books.

I get it: Jack Reacher is a bad ass. Omg, Tom Cruise is such a bad ass. Why's he so baaad? He makes me tremble in fear before him... NOT. "Jack Reacher" falls under the same problem "John Q" had: the characters on-screen talk too much about how Reacher is a force to be reckoned with. How 'bout show the audience how he's such a "ghost" that stays off the grid? How 'bout show the audience his unique skill to take anybody out and how he is a reckless outlaw fixated on doing his own thing? Unfortunately, the problem is because the script is mediocre and Tom Cruise doesn't bring enough to make the character, Jack Reacher, the interesting character he's made out to be. Cruise does a fine enough performance, but he's merely playing himself. What I'm trying to say is that I watched Tom Cruise kick ass -- not Jack Reacher. But hey, I'm not making Tom Cruise the punching bag here -- the rest of the cast fails to bring flair to their characters, especially David Oyelowo who played as the detective named Emerson.

As for the technical aspects, it does the bare minimum. Camerawork shows what's going on and the editing is fine. What's not fine is the dialogue. Wow, some jokes fall way flat with some of the worst one-liners from recent memory. It's not that the delivery was bad, but it's just that the humor is way too silly for its cause.

I'm tearing "Jack Reacher" a new butthole, but I've gotta hand it something: The car chase scene and the shooting sequences are done superbly with incredible crane shots. There's no fast editing to hide the blemishes and in fact, it was breathtaking to see all the stunts were not done by a stunt-double look-alike for Tom Cruise -- it was literally Tom Cruise behind the wheel. These sequences aren't afraid to slow down and take a breath nor is it trying to shove down explosions in your throat -- it just manages to carry a good amount of tension to make it an entertaining set-piece to help "Jack Reacher" stand out just a bit from the rest of the generic action flicks.

No matter how great the action set-pieces are, it isn't enough to call "Jack Reacher" an above-average thriller. There's just too many problems to claim and though it seemed like I tore this film apart, it's merely an average movie and an average movie gets a 2 1/2 stars out of 5. For the average Joe, the average movie will do enough to entertain, and that's what it did for me -- it entertains, nothing more, nothing less.

The Wedding Singer

Get some cheese balls, dunk it in cheese whizz, throw sharp cheddar cheese on top and you get "The Wedding Singer". Yup. So cheesy... everything within this movie is a recipe for disaster, yet the romance works -- what the hell? The comedy falls flat almost every single time and Drew Barrymore is one horrible actress, yet at the end of the day, you'll find "The Wedding Singer" somewhat pulling on your heartstrings.

The Watch
The Watch(2012)
½

Don't expect big laughs and you'll get a somewhat entertaining premise.

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)
½

Imma tell this straight up: I wasn't a fan of the original Iron Man. The sequel comes around and tries to throw the same formula and charm the first one had; it didn't work. What really angered me was the fact that this movie dared to pitch in a subplot to support another Marvel movie that is in the works. Please, stop marketing and let the movie play out. Absolutely disappointed with this weak and uninteresting movie.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

If you're jumping into this movie to be emotionally invested into the characters and plot, don't watch this. Now I am one that hates "Transformers 2" with a passion because it didn't exactly understand what direction it wanted to go. "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra" is just as mindless, but has some life in it. The character's dialogue isn't only there to drive the action to a different locale. Some action scenes are spectacular to see, except for the last one. If you wanna see a scene just like the ending, watch Star Wars... you'll get what I mean. I recommend watching it though. It's a fun time.

Walking Tall
Walking Tall(2004)

It's the early years of the The Rock stepping out of the ring into the Hollywood silver screen, and surprisingly, he brought enough charisma to elevate a mediocre film to higher heights, and so he did with "Walking Tall". The story: out of whack for sure. The dialogue: horrible. And the movie as a whole is rife with cliches, but it's easy to relax and enjoy a flick like this all due to the electrifying energy that Dwayne Johnson throws onto the screen. It's just another cable television guilty pleasure that'll surprisingly keep you interested throughout.

Silver Linings Playbook

Flixster states that "Silver Linings Playbook"'s genre is comedy. You sure?

Let me break it down for you: "Silver Linings Playbook" is essentially two different movies put into one. The first part is a very convincing heartbreaking drama with two very troubled individuals (Bradley Cooper as Pat and Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany) with very troubling pasts. These pasts have left these people so scarred that the pain has managed to physically manifest into real-world mental diseases. Furthermore, Pat and Tiffany try to find their healing and place in a world that doesn't seem to have enough room for their problems. It's a raw, real, and a shocking and personal look into these character's lives. I take that back -- characters they're not; these characters are people. That's how effective "Silver Linings Playbook"'s storytelling is. High praises to the writer and director for portraying such eccentric characters in such a realistic, non-Hollywoodized manner that is both stylish and entertaining to watch unfold. In other words, this ain't a one-dimensional characterized movie like "Spider-Man" was with its characters. But perhaps what is the most commendable part about this first part of the movie is how it's directed to a close perfection as the pacing flows with no uneven steps. As these characters try to re-Cooper-ate (sorry, too easy) and find their placing in the world, essentially the second part of the film unfolds seamlessly into a romance.

Uh oh. From a dark, raw drama to a romance? This may turn out to be like Danny Boyle's "Sunshine" (Watch it if you haven't seen it. Incredible first 2 acts with a jarringly horrible 3rd act that almost destroyed the integrity of the movie.). I proudly proclaim "Silver Linings" doesn't fall into that pit. Still doesn't mean that the second half is identical to the first. This part of the film doesn't dodge and weave around cliche's like the first half did, but by now, the film has grasped your attention so vigorously that you're ready for whatever the film will throw at you. And it's not even like "Silver Linings" had such a convincing first half that even if the second half was dreadfully awful, that you would be thoroughly enjoyed. The same level of craftsmanship that was poured out into the first half is found in the second, just that it might not be as unique as the first half. But hey, what a romance it is. You're gonna find cliche's, but it's just too entertaining, and it's not even like the cliche's were rampant. But what made the romance so unique from the rest of the pact is how it was fueled by the realistic emotions for the characters, not by invoking warm-fuzzy feelings to audiences so that it makes them giggle like a school-girl. So by now I could see how with romance, there could be comedy injected in, and there was, but not enough to solidly claim it as a rom-com; this is a drama with romance. Just because "The Dark Knight" had a few chuckles here and there, you wouldn't call it a comedy, would you? Yeah, I thought so. That's all that "Silver Linings Playbook had -- chuckles.

As a full package, "Silver Linings Playbook" has it all: incredible performances (De Niro's best role in yeeeeeeeeeeears), entertaining dialogue, superb directing and editing, and a narrative that is all but average. From beginning to end, first half to second half, the film is an enthralling motion picture due to the impeccably told narrative. "Silver Linings Playbook" is this year's "Slumdog Millionaire".

Here Comes the Boom

"Here Comes the Boom" takes no risks whatsoever. The humor doesn't connect and the story is lacking. But you know what? It's a fun time all because of the lovable presence of Kevin James and the humorous Bas Rutten. "Here Comes the Boom" won't leave a lasting impression on your mind, but it's an enjoyable time at the movies.

Dr Seuss' The Lorax

"The Lorax", colorfully animated and wonderfully exuberant, does a great job conveying a Dr. Seuss-esque world, but like always, Hollywood always needs to dumb down the main core of what made the source material such a classic: the message. Instead, Hollywood has managed to fluff the presentation and everything about its style to, altogether, cater to "children's needs". The book, undoubtedly, does a better job, but nevertheless, this film isn't too bad. It's a good time, but I recommend reading the book to your children first before watching an above-average Dr. Seuss adaptation.

The Last Stand

Not the best way to come back to the game, but we're reminded of the reason why we loved Arnold Schwarzennegger so much. Although he's not the greatest actor or the most believable one, he's sure got that energy about him that not many action stars have. For this and for the adequate directing, "The Last Stand" is a pretty good time at the movies, just don't expect to hail this as one of your favorites.

Kim Jee-Woon, the director of this B-movie shoot-em-up, is quite the director. He's crafted some exceptional films ("I Saw the Devil", "The Good, The Bad, The Weird", "A Tale of Two Sisters", etc.), and with his debut into America, he churns out a forgettable action flick? What're you thinking bro? This is coming from another Korean. Mr. Kim doesn't quite blend in with the rest of American filmmaking as of yet. Why do I say this? Certain sequences (especially the cornfield car chase sequence) are directed outstandingly; others like the comedic relief scenes or the scenes shot within cockpit of the Corvette are edited or done poorly. There's a particular scene near the beginning of the film where 3 characters are taking shots at a slab of meat with a hand cannon and to this extent, it's supposed to be silly comedic relief, all done with goofy music playing in the background. This type of style is seen really often in Korean comedies and unfortunately, it just doesn't translate well here in America. Not once during this sequence or any comedic relief scenes, did I laugh.

Regardless, this movie is a damn good time. Turn off your brain, forget that Arnold Schwarzenegger can't act, and see a simple but entertaining plot reel out. Expect the cheese to ooze out cause it's got a lot of it. Oh yes, expect the one-liners you've come to know come out of Arnold's lips. Yeah, the script is poorly written and it doesn't have the greatest actors, but surprisingly for such a cheesy flick, the plot, though severely stilted, works. "The Last Stand"'s got a lot of energy, spice, and zing to it. To put it in a nutshell, "The Last Stand" is a great movie to watch on cable television and if you're looking for a getaway popcorn flick, this B-movie will suffice.

Zero Dark Thirty

Bigelow's back in the game again as she tries to ring out for a second award after the successful "Hurt Locker" with "Zero Dark Thirty", but does she deliver the goods? Hell yes -- in fact, this is her most unique and best film she's crafted to date.

The hunt for Osama Bin Laden. If only one word was used to describe this film, it would be procedural -- procedural in the sense where the driving force of the film is not the characters, psychological aspects, or emotionally-stirring sequences -- it's merely the plot. Like a buddy-buddy cop drama, the main protagonist finds a clue to the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden which then leads to the next clue, then to the next clue, and eventually ending up in the front doorstep of Bin Laden's refuge. In other words, "Zero Dark Thirty" is extremely linear, but that's not a bad thing at all. You're not going to find dynamic character development or emotionally arresting characterizations in "Zero Dark Thirty". As a matter of fact, many have claimed that the film is completely devoid of it. It's true: the characters including Maya (Jessica Chastain), the protagonist, are merely functionaries for the plot, but what an epic plot it is. However, I wouldn't go as far as to say that it's all missing and especially after watching it twice now, but it's certainly slim on character development. Regardless, the plot is so incredibly engrossing that that it'll trek you along a ride that you won't forget much like "The Insider". "ZDT" delivers a narrative with an exacting knife to the audience due to her excellent craftsmanship.

There's no doubt that Kathryn Bigelow is a highly commendable action director. Especially after the extremely nerve-racking "The Hurt Locker", many thought "Zero Dark Thirty" would turn out the same way. Big warning : It's not. Just like "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", "Zero Dark Thirty" is much the same. Not sure why many critics are claiming from beginning to end, this is a thrill-house, sweat-inducing tour de force. The last sequence, undoubtedly, is an exceedingly pulse-pounding sequence but it's only 30 minutes of what is a 2 hour and 37 minute film. Yeah -- the running time is insane, but not once does it dip which is further proof that not only does Bigelow know how to direct an exhilarating exhilarating action thriller, but a formidable globe-trotting manhunt as well.

Finally -- a film that doesn't feel Hollywood-ized. Bigelow has obviously shown a lot of respect towards this project. Especially for a film that is portraying a real life manhunt against one of the greatest perpetrators of American history, it's easy to lean on one side and create a movie bolstered with a high and mighty call against or for propaganda. But with Bigelow's tactful craftsmanship, she simply weaves through the loops, creating a very unbiased, neutral stance that delivers the events of this manhunt as it was, or so it would seem. The dialogue's deficient of any sort of preaching material, but where I think Bigelow deserves the most praise for is how she demonstrates her view very subtly solely through the images that are portrayed. For this reason, the lack of characterization and character development is made up because the message, in my opinion, has enough heart to bring into what may seem to be a very clear-cut, gritty, down-to-business type of movie.

I do have another gripe with the film though; although Jessica Chastain does a great job, I can't help but feel like she is being hailed a little too high. She did well... but I'm not sure I agree that she deserves best actress. Regardless, it's an excellent performance among an incredible ensemble cast.

Though it isn't my favorite movie of 2012, it is my 2nd favorite this of 2012, which in my opinion, is one of the worst years for movies (I know a lot disagree). But if I were to predict what will make Best Picture, it should be this. This is even better than the excellent "Hurt Locker". With better dialogue, gritty but impeccable cinematography, and tight direction, "Zero Dark Thirty" is a commanding and cohesive film that deserves all the praise that it's been receiving.

Django Unchained
½

Unabashed violence, crudely offensive, and eccentrically extravagant, "Django Unchained" is Tarantino unchained. What were you expecting? A dramatic period piece by Tarantino? Quentin's being Quentin in "Django Unchained" and rightfully so. This is, so far, the best movie of 2012.

Tarantino is one of those directors where though his films can be riddled with problems, to point them out is merely splitting hairs because of the overpowering positives. I could go on and on about how his dialogue is impeccable as always, that the editing style is "off the chain" (sorry had to do it), that the pacing is absolutely superb (for the most part), and that how all the techniques cohesively unite to present a movie packed with cinematic magic, but these compliments are just that -- compliments. This is a film to be experienced. Tarantino is the star of the show like always. For these reasons alone, "Django Unchained" is above the rest of the competition and easily a great contender for best picture this year. And though I am a huge fan of DiCaprio's work, Christoph Waltz is easily the shining star in this piece. As much as I liked his performance in "Inglorious Basterds", he is far more superior and interesting in this film. However, there is one lingering scar that blemishes the film as a whole. "Inglorious Basterds"'s Achilles' heel was the overly extended scenes that, though superbly paced, brought a potential great adventure movie into a bloated collaboration of short films -- a collaboration of AWESOME short films might I add. "Django Unchained" is tactful about the length of its scenes which I commend Tarantino for doing. However, I don't believe that "Django Unchained" has an edge-of-your-seat, eye-opening scene like the bar scene that "Inglorious Basterds" had. But there is one particular prolonged sequence that though written and acted well, in the narrative sense, doesn't provide much nor is that interesting. Again, this is just splitting hairs here. "Django" is a damn good time.

From beginning to finish, "Django Unchained" is one of the most outrageously entertaining times in the movies. There ain't other movies like it other than, well, other Tarantino films. And even with the prestigious filmography Tarantino holds under his belt, "Unchained" sticks right near to the top. Old school or new school Tarantino, Tarantino still has it and still continues to be one of the most influential writers and directors of our time. Do not miss out on this. Quentin still remains as one of my favorite directors of all time. By a long shot, "Django Unchained" is the best movie of 2012 (let's see how "Zero Dark Thirty" turns out).

Argo
Argo(2012)
½

Affleck's third directorial outing is probably his best film but most overrated. Maybe this deserves another viewing from me but from what I can remember, it was brimming with a lot of tension bolstered with an entertaining narrative and profound direction -- but still the acting chops from the big man, Ben Affleck himself. I have no idea how he got nominated at the BAFTA's for best actor because he still isn't a covincing actor. For the most part, I think he was the only miscast from the otherwise exceptional ensemble cast. He's standing amongst the likes of Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman. How's he able to stand out or compete for that regard? There is the argument going around that he played a nuanced performance. I say to that, "Get outtaaaaaa here." There's a difference between a nuanced performance and a silent performance. Even in the silence, he's not able to portray the emotions and mannerisms of such a character that is going through that ordeal. Daniel Craig is the example of a nuanced performer; Affleck is not.

Regardless of my opinions of Affleck, it still doesn't give a complete verdict on how "Argo" is as a film. Well, it's been too long since I've seen "Argo" to plant a solid review on it. Perhaps I missed some things that many have caught, so for the moment, my review is still pending. But from the last viewing, I remember thinking that:
1) Argo was enjoyable with arresting direction
2) Tensely constructed
3) Enjoyable but lacking considerable themes and messages. For what point was this film made for in the first place? As much as I don't like your acting, Affleck, you're a great director; I want to know what's going on in your mind when making this film!

My full review will be coming soon once "Argo" hits Blu-Ray (or if it wins Best Picture [which obviously I don't want to happen], I'll watch it in theaters when "Argo" hits theaters for the 2nd time).

Safe House
Safe House(2012)
½

Bourne is black... I mean back. No wait, this is the wrong review.

All jokes aside, it delivers high octane action enough to please action junkies alike. And with a premise that's somewhat interesting, "Safe House" is (wait for it...) a SAFE BET. LOL, GET IT?

Sorry, now really all jokes aside, you're not going to spot anything new. You're gonna get the shaky cam and the breathless editing; you're gonna get the gritty fisticuff action; you're gonna get the conspiracies and whatnot. So don't come here thinking that this is gonna be something exceeding the likes of the Bourne series. However, it emulates the Bourne series excellently with a surprisingly dynamic relationship between Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) and Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). So it's an above-average, enjoyable action thriller but a forgettable one.

Half Baked
Half Baked(1998)
½

An inconsistent comedy written by the greatest stand-up comedian of all time, Dave Chappelle. At times, it's hilarious -- at others, not really. But in the end, this is a self-deprecating comedy with a plotline that only a person strung out on weed could come up with. I'm a huge fan of Chappelle though so I caught a lot of his style of comedy within the mess. I had a good time; it's just not well made or directed. Could've been better.

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Funny, cute, but very forgettable.
Plus, I literally lost count if this is the 4th Ice Age or 5th. How many are there? Are they gonna continue to kill a dying franchise?
Regardless, I had a good time, not great. Animation's superb though.

The Expendables 2
½

The first "Expendables": A bore.
"The Expendables 2": Even worse.

Oh "Expendables 2", you can shove in even more bodies like Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Jean-Claude Van Damme -- you can drag out an infinite supply of stampeding soldiers just to inevitably be shot at like those Call of Duty AI degenerates -- you can explode the entire scenery into smithereens -- but nothing will change the fact that your action set-pieces are boring. Nothing will change the fact that though you got the "Terminator", John McClane, and Rambo all in one frame, the action all comes narrowing down to a simple 2-step mechanic:
1) The camera faces a shooter that is shooting a gun away
2) Camera cuts to some nameless guy getting sprayed away by that shooter.
The movie's a bore, guys. That same camera cut is plastered throughout the entire hour and 42 minutes. No action? No problem -- cue the laughably awful dialogue and the ludicrously uninteresting sub-narrative. After the movie, I can't recall one memorable scene. Not one. Coupled with the flavorless acting is the ugliest looking CGI-blood ever.

Sometimes, being overbloated with tons of action scenes doesn't make your movie the baddest of them all. After all that dizzying affair of explosions and bullets, I can recall that the few action scenes "Django Unchained" had was much, MUCH more gratifying and entertaining than "Expendables 2" in its entirety. I came into this film with the least of expectations, and I was still left sorely disappointed. It may have a buffet load of action, but the quality is all crap.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

A semi-offensive flick that doesn't take itself seriously... like at all.
I'm one of the few people that have seen the 3rd installment before watching the classic "White Castle" iteration so I see how the roots started it all, and frankly, "White Castle" is a dumbed down version of "Christmas 3-D". Yeah, it's "kind of" entertaining, but it's rarely and it's horribly made. Poster says, "From the director of 'Dude, Where's My Car?'" That's not a good way of advertising. Shot, directed, and edited horribly.

Other then that, "White Castle" is somewhat of an entertaining road-movie, but if you're looking for high-laughs that split your insides, "White Castle" ain't it. It's sequel does a better job.

The Expendables
½

First off, the dialogue is absolutely horrible. Sylvester Stallone should never write a screenplay. The action is fun at times but it isn't as good as it could've been. No memorable scenes. Some horrible CGI as well. However, every scene Jason Statham is in, he rips it up.

Tropic Thunder
½

Funny... but not as funny as some may say.

Skyfall
Skyfall(2012)
½

"Skyfall" is the best Bond film to date.

Bond needed something new. After "Die Another Day", easily one of the worst Bond films of all time, the Bond franchise was ready to move onto something new, and it had it with "Casino Royale". Agreeably, the tone it presented was more darker and similar to the Bourne series, but it was a much needed change of pace for the Bond series. But then came along "Quantum of Solace". Incomprehensible plot and with action -- although entertaining -- that drew way too many similarities with the Bourne franchise, it made audiences question whether the Bond series was merely copying the intensity and frenetic action Bourne was founded on. It seemed like there was very little hope to be found in future installments. Suddenly, I heard Sam Mendes took the helm of the director's chair. My hopes couldn't have been higher. To no disappointment, Mendes dishes out the most immaculate, visually stunning, and extremely entertaining Bond put to film ever. Best of all, it's not copying Bourne!

Bond fanatics are complaining how "Skyfall" is not a Bond film. Yeah, you're not gonna spot eccentric gadgets, over-the-top action set-pieces, and Bond girls that encapsulated the franchise. However, Mendes wisely makes the focus of the film on one central element: the iconic character of James Bond. Though the narrative itself may be linear, it's hugely entertaining and bolstered with a surprisingly deep character study of the Bond character. There's interesting finds, and surprisingly entertaining revelations that build unto what makes Bond tick. This alone, makes "Skyfall" a very different Bond film, but still remains a Bond film. Plucked with a number of homages to old-school Bond installments, "Skyfall" is a beautiful motion picture that portrays a multi-layered Bond in a contemporary setting. You're probably thinking, "Dude, enough with the character analysis -- what about the action? Is it any fun?" Unlike "Royale" or "Quantum of Solace", you're not going to find over-the-top, Bourne-esque action set pieces, but it's highly entertaining and used sparingly. Yes, used sparingly. Regardless, "Skyfall"'s pacing isn't bogged down during times of dialogue due to the wittiest screenplay I have seen from any Bond film. Audiences are not gonna be looking at their watches, waiting for the next upcoming action set-piece. The dialogue is so superb that may be it's TOO good. What do I mean? It's extremely witty and stylish. And that's the main tone "Skyfall" exudes: stylish and a cool-blue tone. This couldn't have been done without the help of the crisp, sharp, and visually awe-striking cinematography. Take note: Every single scene is shot flawlessly. With deep rich hues of colors and impeccable lighting, this is by a long run, one of the best looking films ever due to the masterful work of Roger Deakins.

"Casino Royale" may have been an entertaining Blockbuster movie that revived the entire franchise, but "Skyfall" is the most cohesive action-thriller that pushed the Bond series to a whole 'nother level. With more films like "Skyfall", Bond may grow to be a commendable action franchise the contends with other Oscar nominees. Though I don't believe "Skyfall" is going to touch best picture nominations, "Skyfall" is definitely making me think about it. This is Bond at its finest hour.

The Bourne Legacy

BOURNE IS BA... wait, Aaron Cross? Who's this?

Tony Gilroy takes the helm to direct the 4th installment of the Bourne series with Legacy. He's known for strong writing and taking a dab at directing with "Michael Clayton" (which is an incredible movie). With an all new protagonist, new side story, and new director, "The Bourne Legacy" is, without a doubt, an ambitious and risky addition. Without the deft hands and vision of action-movie veteran, Paul Greengrass, I was skeptical about how "Legacy" would churn out its adrenaline-pumping nature, but I was caught by surprise by how "The Bourne Legacy" delivers frenetic, cut-to-cut action sequences -- albeit, not enough and not as well. However, "Legacy" is by far, the worst installment of any of the Bournes. No, it's not the subpar action contrasting to the likes of Greengrass; it's not because the writing and characters are uninteresting; it's merely because the narrative suffers from linear and uninteresting plot points. With a premise consisting of the aftermath of Bourne's actions and how these actions affects the rest of the assets within the program, it would seem like a hugely entertaining film. But this premise isn't fully elaborated on.

In the end, "The Bourne Legacy" is a good film, not a great one. Coupled with charismatic performances from the likes of Jeremy Renner and Edward Norton, the typical sharp writing that is to be expected from the Bourne series, and riveting action set-pieces, "Legacy" doesn't disappoint in the entertainment department. But will it leave a lasting impression like the previous installments. Nowhere near so.

The Godfather
½

"The Godfather" is highly regarded as the greatest American movie of all-time. No other movie has garnered such praise as this movie has. Undoubtedly, everything has been meticulously put together to create an entertaining, captivating, and phenomenal masterpiece.

BUT (and I put a huge but), I do not believe it is the greatest movie of all time.

WHAT?!?!
Here come the FLAMERS! TAKE COVER!
Yes, I said it. "The Godfather" is not the greatest movie of all time.

I agree that "The Godfather" is crafted beautifully at an epic scale, but the pacing is much to be desired for and this is merely a Hollywood blockbuster, believe it or not -- albeit, one of the greatest Hollywood blockbusters. Everything, down to the script, narrative, cinematography, camerawork, direction, editing, and acting are all exquisitely done in an immaculate fashion, but that's what "The Godfather" merely is: a Hollywood blockbuster. I can't stress this enough. There are plenty of other movies, older and newer, that though genre wise may be different, exceed "The Godfather" emotionally, symbolically, and personally. In no way am I trying to stand out among a crowd of "The Godfather" lovers, nor am I trying to think that I'm smarter than everyone.

Such high talks about such a film comes deserved for sure, but perhaps it may have been a bit over exaggerated in my opinion. Please, don't get me wrong: "The Godfather" is an impeccable masterpiece. Masterpiece, it is. Greatest movie of all time, it isn't. With that out of the way, I recommend all filmgoers, young, old, the film noob, the average joe, or the long-time film enthusiast to sulk themselves into this film -- just ignore what everyone says about this movie and watch it as it is.

Boyz n the Hood

Hollywood has churned out story after story after story. Some are inspirational; some are hilarious; and some are heart-wrenching. But with so many stories comes to question whether these stories are thrown out to the public simply as techniques to stir audiences emotionally or to actively broaden the perspectives audiences may have to act out and do something that the world may be inspired by. I personally don't believe that movies will have that kind of impact, but "Boyz n the Hood" manages to do something that many films fail to do: be pure and honest.

The film has good intentions. America as it stands, is looked at as a prosperous, safe, and united nation. Not in the hood. The hood's a dangerous place, which is the main theme that lies in "Boyz n the Hood". This theme's been done an exhaustive amount of times. I could just imagine critics saying, "Yes, we get it black America." Regardless, the way the characters are portrayed, how direct the themes are addressed, and how they're resolved delivered in such an extremely pure, honest, and true to the heart manner, that this theme hits home powerfully. It's apparently clear that the purpose of this film is not just to bring awareness with a lukewarm attempt, but full-heartily wants to pry audiences off their chairs to do something. However, I must stress that it is not executed in a way that is too preachy as well (I'm looking at you "Crash"). It's an engaging narrative bolstered with genuinely relatable characters and a script that's flexible and smooth. I haven't seen a film this straight-forward and non-deceptive with no agenda for a very, very long time.

"Boyz n the Hood" might not have the straps of a technically marvelous film. It doesn't have the prettiest cinematography, camerawork, or editing, but the heart behind the film, the genuinely engaging characters, the themes, and messages push the film to great heights. "Boyz n the Hood" is more than an entertaining hoodrat flick.

The Graduate
The Graduate(1967)

Could "The Graduate" be the first art-house movie of all time? Ehh, I don't think so, but it's definitely a game-changer. At its time, Hollywood dished out grand epics after grand epics with "perfect" and steady camerawork, larger than life characters, and narratives that stretch at an epic scale. But "The Graduate" does a U-turn on the traditional ways of filmmaking. Unconventional mechanics like quick zooms, strangely edited shots, and lingering close-ups are riddled about in "The Graduate". It does enough difference for it to stand out among other films alike it. But to say that the narrative is different from the rest is an understatement -- its daring, bold, and darkly challenging. Especially after the time the Production Code came to a close, "The Graduate" dives head-first into dark waters. This is a psychologically driven character-study of a young innocent boy finding his place in the world to be a "different" man.

"The Graduate" is absolutely effective in what it intends to do. Everything is cohesively crafted: strong thematic foundation, solid character development, sharp writing, and thought-provoking symbolism. Entertaining, provocative, and strangely disturbing, "The Graduate" immerses audiences into a young boy's world that's trying to make the best out of his life.

Double Indemnity
½

"Double Indemnity" is a marvelously crafted noir film that is purely driven by its impeccable narrative and flawless filmmaking techniques. Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock; all renowned people within cinema history, but were unknown in my book. Little did I care to learn about these filmmakers, nor did I care to see their work because it was too "old school" for me. Boy, am I glad to have seen this film.

James M. Cain, the author of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" which is the source material for the narrative, is beautifully translated from book to film by Billy Wilder's deft hands. The narrative's where all the glory is at: it flows like liquid gold with tensely interesting twists and turns from start to finish; no hiccups found here. And what's found within the storytelling is one of the most highly engaging and innovative crime thrillers to date. Though "Double Indemnity" is already regarded as an exceedingly entertaining film due to the narrative, the film surpasses further due to flawless directing. The noir elements audiences have come to know are present, but with spotless results. The style "Double Indemnity" takes to deliver crisp, sharp-edged shadows, the breathtakingly distinct shots, and the narrative told by flashback are nothing short of astonishing.

Merely, everything about "Double Indemnity" is perfect. Billy Wilder managed to craft a masterpiece that remains fresh even to the 21st century. Nothing short of cutting-edge, "Double Indemnity" is brimming with an atmosphere of a cool, cold cockeyed-ness style -- a film that will not be forgotten for decades to come.

Scarface
Scarface(1932)

We find ourselves in the 21st century praising the 80's "Scarface" as if it were a masterpiece. Posters, snapshots, quotes, and scenes are plastered everywhere; in someways, the 1983 "Scarface" has become a recognizable film to the average Joe. But with a bloated running time and weak movie-making techniques, it fell far short from being the masterpiece many cult-followers claimed it to be. Where's the love for the original? Riveting, compelling, and pure story-driven galore, the original "Scarface" is worlds better than the remake and is definitely the movie of choice.

The original "Scarface" is what the masterpiece is: It's coupled with an even more absorbing narrative with a pacing quick enough to remain fresh even nowadays. Not only this, the original's bolstered with impeccable cinematography and lighting that's absolutely beautiful to marvel over -- perhaps too beautiful for a gangster flick. This was perhaps one of the biggest issues audiences had with "Scarface" -- it glamorized the gangster lifestyle a bit too much. Yes, the action was quick, frantic, and violently and realistically in-your-face (Yes, it remains realistic even today), but it was too morally skewed. It glamorized the villains, not the true-to-life heroes, thus came the "Production Code" -- a censorship placed upon all films to put control over explicit content until the late 60's. Nevertheless, "Scarface"'s narrative is just too mesmerizing with one of the most memorable scenes I've seen in cinema since "No Country for Old Men" (which was years ago for me). "Scarface" will be etched in my mind as a masterpiece, but perhaps its biggest problem was the dialogue. Don't get me wrong -- it gets the job done, but don't expect award-winning, witty dialogue. This is nearly a small gripe in an otherwise exceptional film that nearly stands to the test of time.

Stop praising the Al Pacino remake. I agree -- Pacino was flawless in his role, but if I were to pick the better film, I'd pick the 1932 "Scarface". Even if you treat older classics like leprosy, give the original a try -- it's a surprisingly up-to-date, frenetic thriller.

Scarface
Scarface(1983)
½

With P. Diddy praising this movie left and right, I was hesitant to jump into this movie. And man was it intense. A powerful statement to those who strive for power and how without a calibrator to keep us human beings in check, we smash and fail. Al Pacino was not Al Pacino - he was Tony Montana. Unfortunately, almost the rest of the cast suffered to be on the same caliber. "Scarface" exudes style that has been kindly borrowed from influential directors including Quentin Tarantino. A riveting, entertaining drama of a man that rises up the ranks because of an uncontrollable trigger finger on his ego.

Unfortunately, with such solid source material to work with, "Scarface" suffers from weak technical filmmaking and pacing issues. Cinematography can be ugly at times and has a running time of a whopping 2 hours and 50 minutes that surely outstays its welcome towards the end. Nevertheless, "Scarface" is an adequate remake but not nearly as great as the original.

Lawless
Lawless(2012)
½

"Look at you. Swanning 'round like you're Al Capone." That's me saying that to you "Lawless". You got some striking visuals and commanding performances, but you shot for too high a mark and missed.

"Lawless", on paper, looked perfect: Great performers with the likes of Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Shia Labeof, and Guy Pearce; spectacular looking cinematography; and a narrative, which is based on a true story, with an interesting historical backing. And in a way, it went out as planned. Guy Pearce dominated every frame he was in, Gary Oldman took ownership of his scenes, and Shia Labeof -- though admittedly an uneven performance -- was exuberantly powerful in vital scenes. Cinematography was nothing short of atmospheric and the narrative, every now and then, would have magnetic scenes of thrills.

What went wrong? It doesn't know its identity. It had snippets of everything but ended up being overblown. Audiences are bound to leave theaters pondering to themselves, "So, what was the purpose of that film?" Well, there were large amounts of violence in there, but can't exactly be said to be an action or thriller cause there were large amounts of drama... but the drama didn't work either. There were snippets of thematic value as well, but even that wasn't solid enough to work with either. And that was its biggest culprit for "Lawless"'s failure: there was a lack of a theme, and when audiences were delivered, what may have been the central theme to the narrative, it was considerably lacking the powerful punch it wanted. Narrative-wise everything seemed to fall apart as characters -- though acted out superbly -- were about as fleshed out and interesting as a typical B-movie action star hero with a "past". By the end, all "Lawless" is, due to its failings, is a B-movie with an unusually high amount of blood and "drama" injected in. Why those quotation marks? There's a high amount of emotions spewing forth from the characters while on the other side of the screen, audiences remain there, unmoved in their comfy chairs.

"Lawless" was a huge disappointment. Altogether, it was an uninteresting movie that strives for epic proportions but fails miserably due to a lack of a true theme, identity, and altogether, an immovable plot. "Lawless" ends up being an overblown film that has elements of everything, but for nothing.

End of Watch
End of Watch(2012)
½

Almost all narratives follow this basic formula of storytelling: A person or party of people going about, doing their comfortable and natural routine when suddenly, something disrupts their comfortable lives and he/she/they must overcome the odds. It's a plot outline that many stories have utilized and have proved successful depending on flow, interest, and drama. "End of Watch" follows this formula but the disruption that occurs upon the lead stars comes in the third act of the film, which is way too late then it should be.

These are two buddy cops doing their thing in South-central LA which is known to be one of the toughest areas in the United States to work as a cop. Their everyday thing? Shooting baddies and proclaiming the name of justice by intervening on crime. For the most part, it serves as a compelling introduction to the setting and the characters for the film, but "End of Watch" lingers upon this everyday storytelling for a good hour and a half. Now, it would be commendable if "End of Watch" delivered commanding dialogue, a consistent theme, and interesting chemistry during this duration of downtime, but for the most part, it failed to do so. So for a good hour and a half, "End of Watch" ended up being a film of bantering cops that gave the film an overall feel of aimlessness. Don't get me wrong -- there were powerful scenes that involved palpable chemistry from the lead stars, humor, and drama in effective fashion, and the action scenes are some of the most entertaining gun-on-gun action scenes I've seen in an extremely long time (I'm a huge gun fanatic). However, I'm sufficed to say that "End of Watch" is a film that tried nothing more but involve audiences with characters just to shock them at the end. Again, don't get me wrong -- I largely enjoyed this film and in fact, I recommend all to go and watch this film, but I can't help but to see that "End of Watch"'s themes, narrative, and dialogue are insufficient for it to be nothing more but a film that exploits shock-value.

This review cannot conclude with a bantering on my part. Gyllenhaal and Pena are absolutely mesmerizing. The energy and charisma they bring onto the screen is largely the driving force of this downtime mentioned earlier. And though it takes a while for the chemistry to be convincing, by the end of the film, it is clearly felt that there was a strong connection between the two.

All in all, "End of Watch" is not a bad movie at all. Minute, nuanced, and dynamically reserved performances have largely over-saturated acting styles nowadays. Every now and then, it's refreshing to see charismatic, electrifying energy from actors and "End of Watch" is that movie. This is definitely a must watch, but don't think that this is something substantially thought-provoking material; it's merely an above-average but mindless action thriller with effective drama.

City Lights
City Lights(1931)
½

Ahh, Chaplin. Your charm is unequivocally attractive. There's a flow -- a dance I would say -- to your performance. "City Lights" is an absolutely entertaining silent picture that exudes a universal charm, all cultures, ages, and generations are able to be involved with.

Chaplin is a master entertainer. As the lead actor and director of "City Lights", everything, down to the slapstick comedy, or the quiet and delicate dramatic moments, "City Lights" is a blast. In an era where Slapstick comedy has worn out, "City Lights" revives it despite being one of the first of the genre. In an era where drama is delivered with heart-tugging dialogue that is bolstered with convincing emotional expressions, "City Lights" delivers simply through great acting capability. Yes, it takes a lot of coals to get "City Lights" running from the opening chapter, but at the end of the day, the "city lights" light up brightly and doesn't cease until the end. This film is an immaculate, timeless, silent movie masterpiece that is surprisingly engaging throughout.

500 Days of Summer
½

Romantic comedies are largely dependent on two things: Sharp writing and electrifyingly realistic performances from the lead actors. "(500) Days of Summer" delivers with flying colors with a style that is both refreshing and inventive.

Is it Joseph Gordon Levitt season for me or what? "Looper", "Premium Rush", "The Dark Knight Rises", and now (500). For the most part, I've been one of the few that has consistently been cautious about the growing fame of Levitt. And for the most part, all of his roles in previous films have been nothing more but adequate on my part. However, in (500), he manages to be effective and convincing largely due to a palpable chemistry with his counterpart: Zooey Deschanel. The two play off each other realistically and are convincing. As the two play "kyootsie-time" each other, the dialogue the banter with each other is both engaging and humorous enough to let the movie's pacing flow along smoothly. And because of these two aspects, from the opening moments to the end of the second act, "(500) Days of Summer" is a wonderful time. But what can you expect if you're gonna spend 500 days with summer? By the time the third act begins, the chemistry between the lead stars no longer evolves in a film that is largely slim on narrative but dependent on character development. Furthermore, the film's pacing begins to chug to a halt and leaving audiences, not particularly bored, but waiting patiently.

Nevertheless, (500) is an entertaining romantic comedy that marinates the audience with a palpable chemistry. Pacing issues, unfortunately, get in the way from this becoming a great romantic comedy. Still, pack up your beach umbrellas, swim suits, and your smores for "(500) Days of Summer"; it's an entertaining time that is surely not to disappoint.

Donnie Brasco

WOO! A breath of fresh air. After a recommendation from a good friend of mine -- yup, I'm talking to you Rottentomatoes buddy ;) -- "Donnie Brasco" took me by a big surprise. What an enthralling piece of work that surges the audience into a non-Hollywood-ized portrayal of an everyday Mafia lifestyle. Everything you can ask for from a movie, "Donnie Brasco" answers it all.

An undercover within the mob. It's been done countless and millions of times. However, when done as exquisitely as "Donnie Brasco" does, it's like watching an original plotline again. The obvious story outcomes that we're expecting from a plotline in this type of genre, "Donnie Brasco" hurdles over somewhat the same plot-points with a higher emphasis on the psyche and the hidden. Altogether, it makes for an incredibly rich and engaging narrative. One of the most entertaining mafia flicks I've seen in an extremely long time, mainly due to the mind-blowingly outstanding performances -- by the likes of Johnny Depp and the infamous Al Pacino, -- the entertaining dips and dives of the narrative, and the exquisitely sharp writing that throws a lot of comedic punches to the gut, all the while having a sober basis on reality. "Donnie Brasco", with these elements done in grade-A fashion, manages to place itself as one of the most well-paced gangster movies of all time. Not once does the movie begin to outstay its welcome.

There's not much more to talk about without giving out the vital details of the narrative. Everything within this film works. This is a pitch-perfect, immaculate B-movie mafia flick, coupled with real rich tension, characters the audience deeply sympathizes with, and a narrative that's buttery-smooth. "Donnie Brasco" is a much watch.

Looper
Looper(2012)
½

There ain't any kind of sci-fi movie out there like this.

Time-travel films -- we've seen them all: "Terminator 2", "Back to the Future", and many more. They're always interesting in the way it challenges audiences to think and piece together the causes and effects if certain things happen. Almost all the time, audiences spot gaping plot-holes, but it's just too interesting to completely criticize such a premise. Such is the same here for "Looper", and for the most part, "Looper" doesn't change the game in the time-travelling premise, but there is one key element that makes "Looper" stick out like a sore thumb: Direction style

What's up with trailers these days? Quick cuts and frames of face-crunching, bullets whizzing by, and explosions illuminating the screen was 80% of the trailer for "Looper". Yet, this film was nothing like it shown to be. This is a surprisingly and refreshingly slower paced, dialogue-driven thriller with such an unequivocal knack for art-house style, and I loved every bit of it. We've seen the time-travel plotline rehashed in numerous different ways, but its the direction style that makes "Looper" such a distinctly different and entertaining film. The action choreography may be elementary, but it's the way the camera is utilized during these sequences that makes it highly engaging: The action scenes are delivered with one stationary shot that pans from the shooter to the victim in quick fashion; and as more targets and threats come into the lines of the shooter, the camera zips to them and back. It makes for impeccable and highly engaging action set-pieces. As goes for the rest of the movie, the cinematography remains consistent with the same level of quality that draws many similarities with art-house style. Unfortunately, "Looper" isn't an art-house film and its mainly due to slim thematic storytelling and a narrative centered around things occurring at face value. Nevertheless, there are highly commendable scenes, especially the one where Bruce Willis and Gordon Levitt sit down at a diner for a talk.

But that doesn't mean "Looper"'s perfect. There are considerable pacing issues and a difficulty understanding who the director wants the audience to root for. By the near end of the 3rd act, that's when the audience understands who the director has decidedly stood next to -- that's a little too late to the party. But most unfortunate of all is that though "Looper" is an innovative blockbuster bolstered with commendable direction, it was just that. The themes and morals are insufficient to be something that lingers in audience's minds for days to come.

"Looper" is a great blockbuster thriller because it's so distinctly different from the rest. Give it a try and see what you think of it.

The Insider
The Insider(1999)
½

After seeing almost all of Michael Mann's films, I was expecting "The Insider" to have a narrative centered around a suave Los Angeles night brooding with a cops-or-robbers-esque narrative bolstered with realistic gunfights. For the most part, this is what I loved about Michael Mann's films. "The Insider" is nothing alike anything Mann has dished out. This is an intelligent, dialogue-driven, and highly engaging thriller centered around commanding storytelling.

Never once during its 2 hours and 37 minutes of running time does "The Insider" get dull. There's no explosions to be seen; no sporadic bullets fired about the scene. Instead, the pacing is flawless due to a razor-sharp script, enthralling performances, and a narrative that is too engaging to be anything but so. And this is by far, the most commendable aspect of the film: the storytelling. The narrative is so deeply intriguing and constantly evolving that, admittedly how little character-development is involved, it's too late -- the film has already reached the highest point of entertainment value a movie can exhibit. At the heart of it all, "The Insider" is nothing more than a real and interesting story, but what a hell of a story it is.

"The Insider" carries many of the same mechanics that tend to bog down Mann's films: Little character development, female roles that have one-dimensional characteristics, and themes that aren't particularly fleshed out to be the central attention. However, "The Insider"'s narrative is just too good to knock away as a mere B-movie. This is what cinema's all about. This is by far, Michael Mann's most intelligent and creative film he's ever made.

The Cabin in the Woods

Out of all film genres, none has become as generic, barren, and uninventive as the horror genre has. But yet each year, Hollywood dishes out horror films cause it brings the cash in. So, every time there's a new trailer or information about a soon-to-come horror flick, I would immediately breeze my eyes right by it. But then came along "The Cabin in the Woods". "Tomatometer's at 91%? No way," I thought. I'll tell you -- this is by far, one of the most entertaining and funniest horror films I've ever seen.

Just look at the title: "The Cabin in the Woods". It looks like another garbage slasher-flick. Well, you're in for a wicked surprise. Come here with no expectations and you'll be wildly blown away. I won't give away the reason why it's so delightfully surprising, but what I can tell you is that the entertainment is not found in gratuitous gore, nudity, or scares -- it lies in its premise. That alone is unheard of from any contemporary horror film and is credit enough to make this worthy of your viewing pleasure. Yes, in a technical aspect, "The Cabin" is tolerable -- nothing outstanding or cringing -- but it is the premise and the narrative that makes this film such a stand-out.

"The Cabin in the Woods" takes everything that the horror genre laid as a foundation and flips it upside down. It's a hilarious, often scary, and a highly entertaining movie that is sure to surprise in every sense of the word. Tired of horror films? Watch this.

Marvel's The Avengers
½

"The Avengers: Dark of the Moon", directed by Joss Bay-don. lol, it really isn't as bad as the Transformers movies, but it definitely draws a lot of similarities, especially the high spectacle action set-piece. But other similarities comes in all sorts of forms: Dull plotline placed in just for the sake of bringing the widest, biggest action spectacle possible at a city-threatening scale and it all comes with a price -- a lack of focus on other essential aspects. "The Avengers" has about four years of hype to live up to and in many aspects, it succeeds due to Joss Whedon's knack of humor.

Four years of hype is a difficult expectation to live up to. Who wouldn't be hyped for such a premise as one presented in "The Avengers"? The film could've turned out two different ways:
1) "The Avengers" could simply turn out to be one colossally hyped movie that doesn't live up to the hype due to a single-minded focus to bring the most epic, bad ass, in-your-face action of all time.
2) "The Avengers" would smartly play on what is drawing attention towards such a film: By focusing on how each of these notorious individuals but intensely dynamic super heroes, all with diverse stories and motives, come together to fight.
Luckily, "The Avengers" doesn't quite turn out to be the first option, but definitely doesn't turn out to be the latter one. It dwindles between the two and because of unfortunate restrictions (It's pretty difficult already to keep our attention span for 2 hours and 22 minutes), an overwhelmingly strong emphasis on the stale narrative that's ONLY placed in as a story arc for a "reasonable" reason to present the final battle, and avoiding what would make such a premise interesting in the first place.

Now to clear up all misconceptions, this must be said: "The Avengers" is not a bad movie; it successfully delivers its purpose: to entertain at a summer blockbuster action flick effort. With that said, the film never goes beyond its entertainment value. We, the viewers, are never emotionally attached, and once the final battle spurts forth, there's no tension whatsoever throughout. There's no worry for any of the heroes for their danger as they battle against innumerable odds. There's no strain weighed over our shoulders over whether the situation will be better. There's no sense of sorrow over the dreadful attacks enacted against the citizens of New York. The action's there only as a spectacle to dazzle with amazingly over-the-top set-pieces. Again, I must clarify that I'm all down for great action set-pieces, but when it carries no substance under the glamour, it's nothing more but a forgettable eye-dazzling moment that rushes by. "The Avengers" definitely has a lot more substance than the entire "Transformers" trilogy combined, but it still isn't enough especially when such a package is coupled with average direction, editing, and camerawork.

Remember "Heat" when Michael Mann brought in two of the greatest actors of all time on board (Robert De Niro and Al Pacino)? Well, they didn't share screen time together till an hour through the movie and it successfully stirred up a stronger yearning to see how these two masterful stars would interact with each other. And boy, what a scene that was when they finally met. "The Avengers"? Nope. Instead of a resounding booming clap of a reaction to see these iconic superheroes meeting on the same screen, it kinda trickles out with very impersonal results. The writing and the narrative all were focused on the uninteresting story arc of how Loki, an average and uninteresting villain within the Marvel series, seeks to destroy the world and how out of the blue, The Avengers must be formed. It was pretty mundane which caused the pacing to be very fickle. It's when the movie deviates from this lackluster plotline and let's the characters talk, instead of explain jibber-jabber to forward the inevitable action sequence, is when "The Avengers" truly shines. Unfortunately, it glimmers by letting the viewers taste what its like to see the character interact, but quickly gets shut out by not letting it prolong. The narrative never truly delves deeply into these intricate relationships.

This is not Marvel's best movie; it's far from it -- it entertains: Every time The Hulk came onto screen, he swept the show; the ending fight scene was one grand extravaganza with spectacular visuals and ingenious action moments; every character had a defining moment within this motion picture and the acting ensemble was all-around superb. "The Avengers" is a highly entertaining popcorn flick, but "Best superhero movie of all time!"? Hell no. It's not genre-defining material as "The Dark Knight" was.

Dredd
Dredd(2012)

90's action movies -- we've all seen them (Cheesy one-liners, ridiculously over-the-top one-man-army scenarios, macho man toughness, and plenty of no-named bodies to take the hits of explosions and bullets). It's what defined a 90's action movie. So then as the new millennium unfolded, it embraced a different style: gritty realistic action. 90's: over-the-top cheesy action. 2000's: raw, realistic, and dark action. So then the big question is, "What makes a definitive action movie of the 2010-2020 action film era?" I think "Dredd 3D" sums it up in a nice package: Unnecessary gore, dark and gritty urban tones and environments, and a shameless embrace for sexual content and language.

Much like "The Raid: Redemption", the latest iteration of "Rambo", and many other recent action flicks, "Dredd 3D" goes all out on gratuitous, camera-splattering gore that is ridiculously unnecessary. Sub out intelligently choreographed action sequences for brain-popping, lead-piercing, blood gushing images and you get "Dredd". In other words, it's not very compelling material. It doesn't particularly mean that a movie is bad when its intended to be balls-to-the-wall, knuckle-head action flick -- just as long as it does it well. Well, "Dredd"'s action is unmotivated and extremely elementary that makes the entire picture a bore. Senseless and visually unimpressive gunfights take place that makes everything extremely bland and boring. There's no smart tactics or aspects attached to any of the action scenes to make it compelling. It's just a "run up to cover and shoot with vein-popping results" montage. Surprisingly, "Dredd" gave me nostalgic chills of 90's action films due to its hideously written dialogue and cheesy blaring music that's supposed to "rock your world".

"Dredd" is a splatter-fest that does everything horribly. Some will say the action was entertaining -- I beg to differ. It brings nothing new to the table in every aspect: Choreography, character development, and the narrative. All you get is a lot of cheesy one-liners, expletives, and blood filling up the screen that adds nothing to entertainment value. Oh, I see the hate mail coming already. I really don't know why this movie is rated so highly within the community. "Dredd" fails to do anything right, even entertain towards a "turn off your brain" attitude.

"Rooted in self-satire and deadpan humor". Where was that?

It Happened One Night

A classic movie that's the trumpet that tore down the walls of Jericho for me. "It Happened One Night" has it all: genuine tension, laughs, and character development to make even the most critical movie critic giggle with glee. Pure movie-making magic here. With a very slim narrative but extremely potent character development, "It Happened One Night" is a film that immerses audiences deeply into the relationships. You know that same formula every romantic film runs through? "It Happened One Night" is the definitive film that started it all, and it did so in spectacular fashion.

Wanderlust
Wanderlust(2012)

"Wanderlust" is exactly what the title suggests -- it wanders with its narrative with very little punchlines or humor to make it memorable. Paul Rudd is always good and always entertaining to watch, but with the lackluster script and boring plotline, "Wanderlust" is a pass altogether.

Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane(1941)

Psychologically driven, epic, and ambitious, "Citizen Kane" lives up to its prestigious reputation as a game-changing landmark in cinema history.

A review on "Citizen Kane" isn't a review without mentioning the cinematography; this is by far, one of the most visually stunning films of all time. Rich shadows with stunningly bright lighting and meticulous detail in texture and visuals makes "Citizen Kane" a treat for the eyes. No frame is wasted. Its a whole another beast of its own. Everything is done to the T: Camerawork, lighting, and cinematography is outstanding, acting and writing is superb, and the direction is flawless.

Yes, the narrative is a bit outdated, but this is only due to the high demands of quick-paced storytelling nowadays. I found myself not particularly engaged with the narrative throughout. Even still, "Citizen Kane" is innovative in every respect and aspect of the word. No films during its time toyed with flashbacks, psychological struggles, and intuitive storytelling like "Citizen Kane" did. What I'm trying to say is, "Citizen Kane" did something different. It was a huge step above the game.

"Citizen Kane" is a technical wonder that's brimming with deft style that's absolutely unmatched even today. Hollywood wouldn't have the same quality of films being made nowadays without the exceptional work of "Citizen Kane". Every film, one way or the other, has borrowed aspects from "Citizen Kane", and it shows why. This film -- other then its narrative -- does everything perfectly.

Disturbia
Disturbia(2007)

Hardly an homage to "Rear Window", "Disturbia" steals the plotline from a classic and gives it a contemporary twist with surprisingly positive results.

Swap out an injured photographer for a troubled kid with a past and a house-arrest leg-brace and you get partly the same claustrophobic and helpless feel that "Rear Window" injected into audiences. Shia LaBeouf is this kid and he gives off possibly his best performance in his entire career. He's convincing, emotional, and downright explosive.

But let me get this out of the way: "Disturbia" is no "Rear Window"... at all. "Disturbia" may have taken the similar narrative, but in no ways does "Disturbia" execute in the same fashion or quality. The writing's off, the tone is geared more towards the teenage crowd, the storytelling isn't as suspenseful, cinematography is done in mainstream Hollywood fashion, and it has a clichà (C)d ending that interrupts the tension it built up. Now unlike "Rear Window", "Disturbia" decides to throw all the mystery aspects of its narrative out and make the suspense and tension aspect its focal point. And in many ways, "Disturbia" delivers. Despite the fact that it was fixated to bring a tense-filled experience, "Rear Window" is just a more suspenseful film that so happened to also be an intriguing character-piece, an engaging mystery, and a thought-provoking film. Despite high regards to the classic, "Disturbia" is not a bad film on its own nor is it only fixated on suspense. There is a subplot that involves LaBeouf's character's father and the subplot is absolutely riveting for the first few minutes. But this subplot is only a device that is used to hook the audiences with the character and the film. In no ways does it characterize with the main story arc by its finale. I asked myself, "So what was the point of that part of the story?"

"Disturbia" gets a lot of things right. Unfortunately for the film, its overshadowed by a whole 'nother beast named "Rear Window". Like I said before, this is not a bad film, but it evidently shows how the quality of mainstream Hollywood filmmaking has declined from the time "Rear Window" was made. "Disturbia" is a perfect representation of what a 21st century film is like; "Rear Window" is a perfect representation of what a 20th century film is like. The result? "Disturbia" is clearly the inferior film but still worth a watch.

George Lucas in Love

All the gags and comedic punches comes from knowing the Star Wars films. Haven't seen Star Wars? Too bad, this film ain't for you. But by now, who hasn't seen those films? Safe to say, if you did, it's quirky fun and sure to bring back a lot of nostalgia. Nevertheless, it's way too dependent on references to Star Wars.

Rear Window
Rear Window(1954)
½

Hitchcock A.K.A. "The Master of Suspense". I came into this film thinking, "Let's see if he lives up to his title." Oh, he proved it to me, alright. What a craftsman.

Unfortunately, a lot of thrillers and horror films fall victim to audience's expectations: "When're the scares coming?"; "When's it gonna get exciting?". I feel bad for the directors; directors want to render an engaging film with character-building and narrative producing sequences, but because of these expectations, their films are quickly dismissed and concluded to be another failure. "Rear Window" is a blatant exception; this is a taut, near perfect film. Everything's directed with such finesse and precision from the intentional gradual build-up until the heart-pumping, tea kettle hissing, finale. Though it is a mystery and suspense film at heart, Hitchcock also delivers a character-driven, narrative-engaging thriller due to its ridiculously witty and razor sharp script. And because of its writing, no matter what may be happening in a scene, the film has a buttery-smooth flow that never dips. And once the climax hits, the tensions hitting all cylinders to bring an extremely immersive/claustrophobic experience. In other words, "Rear Window" is a love letter to suspense genre nerds.

All the way through, "Rear Window" is an engaging masterpiece that's filled with symbolism, an engaging narrative, precise editing, beautiful cinematography, and tension-brimming scenes. There's no doubt in my mind that Hitchcock has earned his title as "The Master of Suspense" due to movies like this. Almost hitting 60 years old, "Rear Window" is the perfect example of how a well-crafted narrative never shows its age.

Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon)
½

This film was the turn of innovative film narratives to come. For its time, this must've been absolutely incredible. During a time when the world received little to no exposure to films, they were introduced with special effects and cuts with disappearing and revealing objects. This must've really blown everyone's minds away. Now if you're ready to jump in, you're really gonna needa wipe the dust off "A Trip to the Moon"; its really showing its age by now, but its easy to see why this is considered a masterpiece for its time. Can't exactly recommend it to the average joe, but for those film enthusiasts, "A Trip to the Moon" is a must watch for its the Godfather of all films.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
½

What a mesmerizing piece of work. "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" is the definition of a definitive animated short. With immaculate animation and movement, dazzling visuals, and a provocative narrative, everything works here to illustrate its powerful theme and message with pinpoint precision. A must watch for all movie fans.

Dot and the Line

. -

Surprised by how broadly one can make those two shapes engagingly interesting. The script is consistently interesting and the narrative is always throwing curveballs into the mix. By the end of this short, you'll find yourself surprisingly absorbed in its plotline.

Doodlebug
Doodlebug(1997)
½

"Doodlebug" is a prime example of why Nolan is an innovative storyteller. With an interesting premise and a short running-time, Nolan successfully makes audiences piece together the rules implied within the universe of "Doodlebug". Not exactly award-winning material here, but you can't help but to find it to be an interesting piece of work.

Un Chien Andalou
½

"BWAAAHHHH!" -Hank Hill. That's what I said on the infamous eye scene.

Another experimental short. "What the hell?" is what you're gonna say throughout its 20 minutes. What "Un Chien Andalou" offers is a high amount of shock-value and stand-alone scenes that are simply awe-inspiring for its time. C'mon, it made me flinch and engaged. For a short from the 20's, that's absolutely impressive if you ask me. There's not a true narrative to solidly put a finger on; its expected to be a motion picture that's to be interpreted, and what you get is a buffet line of symbolism to be picked apart. "Un Chien Andalou" is a film-lover's dessert.

The Alphabet
The Alphabet(1968)
½

Experimental films are always difficult to review. It's often difficult to predetermine whether one should jump into an experimental film to be entertained, moved, persuaded, or enthralled by mesmerizing visuals. Regardless, "The Alphabet"'s a near 4 minute long short film takes every sense of the word "unconventional" to its full advantage and confidently fulfills its goal.

From the opening second to the closing fade, "The Alphabet" illustrates, what may seem to be at first, an inscrutable narrative, but there is, undeniably, a profound message David Lynch seeks to show the audience. Chanting of the simple ABC's, ink-blotted stop-motion pictures that are psychotically etched in, and blood -- in a disturbing craze -- pouring out, is what "The Alphabet" is furnished with. As one can imagine, this short consistently evokes a pitch-dark tone and eerily disturbing imagery, enough to erode the mind. And surprisingly for a film that has little to no narrative, it's fast-paced and always drawing up new frightening images with a focused objective in mind. Agreeably, "The Alphabet" takes full advantage of shock-value, but uses each frame effectively to portray a message of what may be a dull subject through other mediums. "The Alphabet" encourages the keen to handpick and spot the symbolism and meaning behind its dark exterior. In other words, this is an immersive piece of filmmaking that is sure to initiate conversations longer than the actual film's running time.

Altogether, David Lynch, for his debut into the film industry, has handcrafted a cryptic motion picture that exudes a sinister tone. Few may see this type of tone as an immediate dismissal; many will undeniably commend Lynch's execution for his stylish, yet strangely intricate vision.

Lost In Translation

Looking for a good definition of what an Indie film is like? "Lost in Translation" is your answer. It's not a bad thing or a good thing, but what can be said about this film is this: "Lost in Translation" is the epitome of what an Indie film should be -- an absolutely mesmerizing, out-of-this-world, soothing yet melancholy film.

Right off the bat, gorgeously rich camera shots are riddled about -- infused with a score that's used to a minimum, but when utilized, it drives powerful emotions that are difficult to pinpoint. However, these emotions aren't stirred by these elements alone -- they're correlated with the narrative which makes it such a powerful yet elegant picture. In other words, without the use of deliberate dialogue or on-screen actions to drive a point home, it takes full advantage of the art of music and visuals to tell a commanding story. Superb direction without a doubt.

These merits wouldn't mean a thing without great performances. Bill Murray doesn't disappoint. He provides an incredibly enticing, reserved, nuanced performance in every single frame that he's in. This performance alone shows how dynamic of an actor Murray truly is. Eh, the same can't particularly be said about Scarlett Johansson, which really isn't her fault; she's usually sharing the same scenes with Murray, who's absolutely dominating in every scene, so as you can imagine, she gets the dimmer spot in the limelight. Regardless, she brings enough acting talent to the table to actively develop a convincing chemistry with Bill Murray. That alone is impressive enough.

"Lost in Translation" manages to be more than just a movie for entertainment -- it is an experience. Coppola manages to find the perfect balance between its poignant and pleasurable comedic moments to its more saddening tones. Thus, by the final frames of the movie, "Translation"'s narrative has clutched so tenaciously onto the audience that whatever the narrative wills to do, the audience will have to follow along.

My Best Friend's Birthday

This is a heavily dialogue driven, 36 minute long narrative that's directed by the infamous Quentin Tarantino, incoherently tells the tale of Mickey Burnett, played by Craig Hamann, whom his girlfriend has just broken up with. If that wasn't enough to mess his day up, this event happens to fall on the day of his birthday, but by the friendly gesture from his best friend, Clarence Pool (Quentin Tarantino), he decides to pull off an unforgettable birthday party for him in an unconventional way.

Sharp and nimble dialogue is the name of the game here. Admittedly, the narrative may come off as a rambling mess that fails to find a conclusion to its slim narrative. Regardless, the dialogue is so unequivocally witty and engaging that whatever the characters may be talking about, whether it may be small talk or a conversation of grandiose proportions, the writing keeps audience's eyes glued to the screen. As Tarantino's debut into the film industry, this was the perfect hallmark revolution for short and feature length films to come. Films, before and after the debut of this short, for the most part, failed and are failing to match up to the standards of outlandishly sharp writing found here. Even according to contemporary standards, Tarantino continues to be an unconventionally masterful writer and director with the likes of Pulp Fiction, which is arguably considered as one of the greatest films in American cinema, and the rest of his profoundly epic filmography. In other words, the cinematic golden nuggets that are found in his superb feature films are found glimmering in this film. It can even be arguably said that this short film is an experimental film that toys around with the art of engaging conversation, no matter how dreadfully slim the narrative may be.

Nevertheless, this is an atypical short that harbors and foreshadows the splendid elements from great feature films to come from the innovative mind of Tarantino.

Premium Rush
Premium Rush(2012)

What makes up for the explosions in this are the exhilarating chase sequences found in "Premium Rush". "Brakes are death," is what Wilee -- Joseph Gordon Levitt -- keeps uttering throughout the film. Ironically, it's true. When "Rush" seems to slow down, it completely kills the pacing of the movie.

Much like "Fast Five", this is one of those films where crisp editing and directing during the action sequences makes the movie. If you're looking for a cohesive, character-driven plot, you came to the wrong place. I know, I know -- Joseph Gordon Levitt recently has been in films that are more narrative-driven, but he happens to land in a role that is much more action-orientated. Don't get me wrong -- the action is a frenetic and a frantic, high-octane chase, but once the chase dies down and attempts to find a reasoning behind the high-paced nature, it bogs down to a complete halt. During these sequences, it's dreadfully boring, implausible, and leaves a bitter taste due to it's cheap way to find a good "motivation" behind the protagonist's actions. Once you get passed that, the action continues, but much like going uphill on a bike, it takes a long arduous time to get to the peak where surprisingly, the finish line is. What I'm trying to say is, the first hour delivers crisp chase sequences with artfully tasty editing, but it gets killed off with mundane, poorly written dialogue scenes. Once "Premium Rush" tries to find its composure in its action set-pieces, it suddenly ends.

"Premium Rush" is nothing more than an escapist movie that guarantees entertainment, but not without gaping gripes: Slim and poorly written dialogue, cheesy acting, and a lacking narrative that bogs down the frenetic nature of the action. "Brakes are death." Yup. "Premium Rush" has some brakes, and when it uses it, it kills the movie.

Casablanca
Casablanca(1942)
½

It's true -- "Casablanca" is purely a masterpiece. Don't be scared by its age -- as Rottentomatoes' consensus review puts it, "...'Casablanca' has only improved with age."

Now, one may not find eye-poppingly gorgeous scenes within "Casablanca", but that's not its point. Everything works to accentuate and deliver the most compelling drama for the narrative that it provides, right down to the cinematography, the acting, the direction, and writing. The craftsmanship found here is at the top of its game, and in a way, it's because it's "invisible" -- invisible meaning that everything is a foreground to push the narrative to the plate. What we've come to know as "contemporary" Hollywood filmmaking may not be so contemporary afterall; it's all but an emulation of "Casablanca"'s exquisite style. Yes, "Casablanca" is --and I'm quick to say, still is -- the industry standard for how to make a grade-A quality film. The quick cuts, flawless editing, superbly-paced, and crisp writing found in today's movies are directly influenced from this film.

Flawless techniques and execution is nothing without an engrossing narrative, and unfortunately, romantic films tend to only be strong-suited in the romantic story-arc alone; "Casablanca" fails in neither of these departments. The narrative's presented with such finesse and thought that all the emotions one goes through with the characters are seamlessly natural.

"Casablanca" is the definitive film that forever changed Hollywood's standard for filmmaking. Everything, in a macro or micro scale, is done in spectacular fashion. Yes, it's made in the 1940's, and yes, it is in black-and-white. So what? Throw that mentality out the window. Though everyone within the film wants to get out of Casablanca, you'll find me there, tantalizing over such a meticulously, well-made film.

Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
½

"Anchorman" isn't the most consistent comedy in the world, but once its brighter sides surfaces, it's uproariously hilarious. Can't recommend this comedy enough. It's ridiculously over-the-top and self-deprecating. In other words, a real good time. Don't miss out on it.

Validation
Validation(2007)
½

"Validation"'s a short film that's brooding with a lot of charisma and shows the illuminating satisfaction out of seeing a soul smile. Unlike feature-length films, you're not gonna find technically masterful shots of cinematography or Academy-Award-worthy dialogue. But for it's running time of 16 minutes, it manages to get its point across, revealing how though we live in a "dog eat dog world", a simple crack of a smile can be liberating.

The Sitter
The Sitter(2011)
½

Sooooo bad.

Jonah Hill's a comedic gangster, but he can only do so much with such an awful script. "The Sitter" is, straight up, a piece of crap. So bad.

Probably the first 5 minutes of the film had slight chuckles here and there. Then the rest of the movie ensues and all you get is a dry, poorly written, and an awfully dull narrative. Nothing in this film works. You're not interested in any moment of the story. For such a simple and linear narrative, you need to have great comedic moments and "The Sitter" doesn't have any.

Don't watch this. It was a waste of my time. The only time you should go watch this is if you wanna invite someone just to piss that person off. Otherwise, screw this movie.

Mesrine: Killer Instinct (L'instinct de mort)
½

Stereotypes die hard.

Now, I haven't seen enough French films to place valid stereotypes on the entire French film industry, but from the few that I've seen, I would say that these are the stereotypes:
- Extremely gritty and dark. Unafraid to get into every nook and cranny of its dark universe, but doesn't always have emotion, thematic, moralistic, or artistic substance to back up its bold embrace towards the dark.
- Plot points always involve some sort of taboo-breaking violence or sexual act for the sake of shock value and nothing more.
- Almost always a gangster film.
- Focuses so much on realism that artistic value takes a back seat.

"Mesrine: Killer Instinct" matches every stereotype mentioned but considerably fails to immerse audience members in its narrative and characters. It's gritty and bleak, coupled with an emotionally disattached narrative and borderline taboo-breaking violence. I'm all down for dark films -- as a matter of fact, I embrace it. But when a film decides to portray a gritty tone, there's gotta be a reason behind it other than for style. This has been my number one griping issue with many of the French films that I've seen. Killer Instinct is no different, in fact, worse compared to other French movies which leads to my biggest issue with this film: The direction.

Killer Instinct's narrative shoots out in a very linear fashion. Nothing wrong with that, as long as its commanding throughout. As the scenes roll along, I began to realize that Killer Instinct does just that: It shows sequences of events with no opinion, no emotion, no siding, no themes, or no morals. It tells it as it is. In other words, there's zero substance found here other then the portrayal of the actual plot points. As one would probably say, "This is a biopic. It isn't fictionalized and the director isn't trying to add in anything that isn't part of truth." I understand that. Regardless, there's nothing movie-goers could take into account other then the disturbingly soul-blotting violence and the extremely one-dimensional narrative. Let's say the director's choice to be respectful to these actual events didn't bother me -- still doesn't make up the fact that Killer Instinct's narrative is extremely uneven. On certain occasions, tension's boiling at an all-time high, and on other occasions, it becomes dreadfully dull, making me question why I wanted to watch the movie in the first place. If you've heard or read about the true story of Jacque Mesrine, you're not getting any additional insight in this true story if you watch this film. The only thing it may accentuate is the gravity of violence that Mesrine enacted.

Killer Instinct was a complete mess. Direction got increasingly bad, the narrative holds no grounds other then events recorded on a timeline, and the film gives no effort to immerse movie goers. Hey, Vincent Cassel's one beast actor, but even he couldn't lift this film to higher grounds. You can probably say, it was a bad move for him to be involved in this project; he trusted the bad instincts (sorry... horrible pun super intended). Killer Instinct boasts a dark tone with a riveting story, and at moments, you may be sitting at the edge of your seat, but by the end, you'll be wondering what the point of the film was and end up not caring to figure it out. This is one empty film.

Total Recall
Total Recall(2012)

Lotta style. So much detail... yet such an empty movie. "Total Recall" is one of the most forgettable and the most aggravatingly unoriginal action movies since recent memory.

Wipe my memory of these two hours wasted on this stupid flick. Let's get the good out of the way -- it exudes style. The visuals, cinematography, the sets, costumes, and CGI were all superb and extremely immaculate. No, the visuals don't rival "Children of Men" or "2001: A Space Odyssey" for that matter; they're not even in the same ballpark for those films are art-house films -- this is a Hollywood blockbuster. But what you will find is that "Total Recall" utilizes conventional but acceptable blockbuster-ized camerawork in tip-top fashion. It's pretty evident to see that a tremendous amount of work has gone into portraying a vividly vibrant and colossal universe that "Total Recall" takes place in. So then it makes me question why the producers dedicated so much effort into the visuals but neglect the core of this movie. Hey, this is one flashy movie -- a flashy but atrocious film.

The second the film started, a text prologue popped up, giving the context of what the narrative is placed around. Oh no... not one of these. Then once the actors started talking, I began to loathe my experience. This is one of the worst written scripts I've seen. It does nothing to add to the characters, humor falls way flat, adds absolutely no substance to the already slim story-arc, and makes nothing shine. Remember those horrendously forgettable action flicks from the 90's? Yeah, this and that are much alike. Yikes. Instead of taking what made its 90's counterpart mildly interesting, it dives right into the action, over and over and over and over. Just when it seems like "Total Recall" is ready to steady its breath and dab its foot into its more intellectual and interesting aspects, it sprints head-first into action set-pieces. If I were to imagine the reasoning behind why, it almost seems as if the director thought the audience needed action in an interval of every 5 minutes. Okay, we got that out of the way: Recall's a mindless film; how well does it execute on its purpose? Horribly. The action's incredibly dull and by the end, you'll be able to recall dozens and dozens of action movies that have ended in almost the same exact way.

Funny, when you try and recall back (see what I did there?) and remember any significant moments of the film, its hard to remember. OMG, DID THEY WIPE MAH MIND? "Total Recall" is a beautiful motion picture -- a beautiful piece of crap that is incredibly forgettable. There's nothing memorable, interesting, or mildly entertaining to be found here. Replace my memory of "Total Recall" with what it could've been: An interesting, psychological, and a thrilling game of switch-a-roos. Unfortunately, we're left with another movie that proves why Hollywood is going downhill: They're all about flair, but missing a heart

The Dark Knight Rises
½

Finally. After watching two of my favorite comic book movies of all time, I've been eagerly anticipating the conclusion to one of the greatest trilogies of all time. Ahh yes, after the shockingly realistic portrayal of the creation of Batman in "Begins", to the utterly impeccable performance by Heath in "The Dark Knight", "The Dark Knight Rises" couldn't have much higher expectations. Even in New York City, IMAX theaters had tickets sold out months before its final release. But after the arguably disappointing "Inception", my fears brought into question, would "The Dark Knight Rises" turn out like "Godfather Part III"? I could proudly say it doesn't, but not without its fair share of problems all due to Nolan's continuous advancement towards blockbuster-ized movie making.

To compare "The Dark Knight Rises" to its predecessor, "The Dark Knight" is extremely difficult. "The Dark Knight was a crime-drama epic, focused on delivering gritty realism and psychological tension at its finest; "The Dark Knight Rises" is fixated to be an emotional, character-building war-epic, built on desecrating everything we've come to know, physically. As a whole, "Rises" is a very different film compared to its predecessor. "Rises", much like its previous installments, has an interesting narrative, but simply fails to completely immerse viewers into the emotional turmoil and pain many of the characters are experiencing. It's blatantly obvious that its intention was to strive for dramatic storytelling, but unfortunately, much like "Saving Private Ryan", the characters' emotional pain is not the most riveting story arc -- it's the havoc that's being done on a wide scale. Yes, there are some heart wrenching moments like one specific dialogue scene between Michael Caine's character, Alfred, and Bruce Wayne, and the failure Batman faces, but as a whole, the tale of Bruce Wayne doesn't stir enough emotion to make it truly a memorable emotional epic.

"Rises"'s problems don't end there. As Christopher Nolan fully embraces Hollywood big-budget blockbusters, he also begins to compromise and accept conventional filmmaking and aggravating techniques. Hey, Hans Zimmer's a boss composer; his score's gripping, but it's blaring throughout the entire movie -- in the explosive action, emotional dialogue scenes, flashbacks, you name it. This same frustrating problem's found in "Inception", my least favorite Nolan film. And when the music is playing throughout the entirety of the movie, the score no longer intricately has a revealing impact on critical scenes; the power of music becomes limited. Easily the most problematic issues "Rises" has is the editing; it jumps around from one story arc to another, even during times of high tension or slower, emotional moments and this happens throughout the entire film. It's not a new problem at all; this persistent problem was found in post-"The Prestige" films, but wasn't as dominant in "The Dark Knight". However, the issue is accentuated to an all-high maximum due to the biggest lacking feature in "Rises" of all: It doesn't have a focused narrative or theme like the rest. It's not that there's too much going on within the narrative, but there's too much that doesn't do the story much good. There's too much that is unnecessary and simply plot devices to draw audiences in closer. There's too much that is unfocused that, in the end, "The Dark Knight Rises" is an airy and dizzying motion picture that has some spectacular moments here and there. Just when "Rises" seems to be leading down an original plot, Nolan begins to fall back on conventional storytelling near the end. He even retreats back to cheap plot devices like misleading twists and turns. C'mon, I thought you were better than that Nolan. Nevertheless, it was a good ending, but not as memorable as "The Dark Knight"'s finale, or even "Batman Begins"'s.

Seems like I'm bashing away, but there's a lot of good here to be found. Christian Bale gives his best performance as Bruce Wayne and it shows. His emotions are raw and real, exuding through even the obscuring mask of Batman. The same goes with Tom Hardy's performance as Bane, though not as eccentric as the late Heath Ledger -- hell, the entire cast is a win, but what certainly stole the show for me was Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. Expectations were low and with a character that is simply characterized as a deceptive heroine or villain, it didn't seem too interesting in the first place. Boy, did she prove me wrong. Every scene she was in, she stole the show, dragging me around and seductively wooing me into her lies. Though the writing wasn't as sharp and didactic as previous iterations of the Batman franchise, "Rises" still manages to deliver mature and engaging dialogue. Cinematography is all-around gorgeous, consistently drawing similarities to Kubrick's style of camerawork. Regardless, a problematic issue I've consistently found throughout all of Nolan's films since "Batman Begins" was how Nolan seemingly uses incorrect types of explosives/effects for on-screen actions. For instance, remember the memorable truck scene in "The Dark Knight" involving the Joker, donning the RPG at hand and firing at cop cars? Didn't look like an RPG explosion to me -- more like a charge planted on the side of a cop car, unfit to match the ferocious power of a rocket. Same goes here in "Rises"; sub-machines are shot along computer screens, cannons are shot at Tumblers, and explosives are set off with a lack of a pow, withdrawing me back from the experience and giving me a rude awakening that this is a movie, not a thematic, immersive experience. I commend Nolan for going old school and using real explosives and practical techniques instead of using CGI, but make it cohesive at least.

"Rises" has its problems. It does seem like a rant on my part, but it's only because of my high expectations and praise for one of the most compelling universes put to film. "Rises" is not a bad movie at all -- in fact, it's awesome. The action's in your face and compelling; the narrative sucks you in (for the first hour), and the performances are absolutely stellar. Regardless, because Nolan has decided to lean towards Hollywood's style of filmmaking, "Rises" ends up regurgitating a lot of conventional and broodingly annoying techniques that mainstream Hollywood movies has adapted into their films. Not only that "Rises" is by far, his most unfocused narrative he has put onto film. Nolan, you did a great job portraying an entertaining film, but please, turn back; go back to your roots! As for the movie, what a stylish finale to one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time. I'm gonna miss you Batman. You delivered the best and most fitting comic book trilogy I've always dreamed of seeing and experiencing.

Letters from Iwo Jima

For a movie that has had an amazing word of mouth, "Letters from Iwo Jima" surprisingly is not quite the punch that I'd thought it would be. That isn't to say, "Letters" was a bad movie -- just thought the film did very little to distinguish itself from the rest of the movies within the war genre.

Compared to your average war-movie, "Letters" has a bit more depth to it. Yes, visually, you're not gonna find much difference contrary to watching "Saving Private Ryan". The color palette, the shaky-cam, death and blood between quick-cuts, and dirt flinging up from ricocheting bullets are all done via "Saving Private Ryan"'s style except with a considerably lacking production value. Thus, the film seems to be another emulation of the visually and the viscerally spectacular, "Saving Private Ryan". But what "Letters from Iwo Jima" does differently compared to ANY war movie (from what I've seen) is the depiction of themes and struggles that have scarcely been covered in any type of American storytelling. This scarcity, much like how scarcely an American studio would humanize and show the perspective of America's opposing forces during WWII, is present because these themes and struggles are direct challenges of Japanese culture. Like a boss, Eastwood doesn't just leave these heavy themes on the eastern side of the world; he challenges both American and Japanese cultures, almost as if he speaks out to bring both parties at a healthy medium. The heavy and emotional narrative alone, gives "Letters from Iwo Jima" a distinctive identity of its own. The narrative does come heavy-handed though. Many movies that delve into traumatizing events like "The Pianist" or "The Pursuit of Happyness" always seem to fall into the same storytelling detriments: They focus on repetitively piling more and more saddening events without involving viewers emotionally with any of the characters and without introducing any new developments in the narrative. By the end, it just leaves you feeling numbed and saddened, wondering when the climax hit. "Letters from Iwo Jima" ALMOST falls into the same pit, but luckily, manages to pull out of this path and inject an emotional and immersive storyline that gives enough hope and enough characterization to pull out and see that this isn't a bash-fest of sorrow upon the audience.

The film isn't without its share of problems though. Editing can be sloppy, cinematography goes from down-right-gorgeous to muddy, and the direction for certain sequences is lazy. It's a shame because under all this mess lies an emotional core with extravagantly fantastic performances and screenplay that accentuate the multi-layered narrative to flying colors. This is hardly Clint Eastwood's best film, and "Letters", though has dynamic themes and challenges, isn't much more different than your typical war-movie, but this film as a whole, gives a true salute to the people that mustered up courage to put on a soldier's uniform, regardless of whether they were American or Japanese.

21 Jump Street
½

One of the funniest comedies I've seen since "Knocked Up".

It's the resurrection of an 80's TV show with a modern twist to the entire premise. Everything you can find from a definitively laugh-out-loud mainstream comedic film, you'll find in "21 Jump Street": a sharp and raunchy script, hilarious plot turns, excellent pacing, memorable performances, and an emotional core is the name of the game. Every single turn the film takes, there's laughter right around the corner.

Wow, it's been a while since I've seen a great comedy; "21 Jump Street" delivers. You into Judd Apatow films? This is your type of movie. Yeah, you're gonna find slapstick humor every now and then, but at it's core is a witty, punchline driven comedy.

Apocalypse Now

So much hype surrounding this movie; its within the Top 250 list on IMDb, landed on countless "best movies" lists, AFI deemed it the 30th best movie of all time, and had a couple of quotes on the best quote lists by AFI. Finally, I laid my attention upon it. Did it turn out as expected? ...No.

I definitely respect the movie; I didn't particularly dislike it, but didn't particularly find it enjoyable/interesting either. DON'T HATE

Did I miss something here? Was my attention out-of-sorts when I watched it?
There has gotta be something that I missed here.

Gonna hafta give it a rewatch.

Noteworthy mentions:
- Spectacular cinematography
- Downright impeccable performances
- Masterful direction
- A peculiarly strange ending to a somewhat straight-forward narrative
- Boldly strong thematic undertones that crawl under the skin

Roman Holiday

A light-hearted and innocent rom-com that set the bar for movies to come. With such an age, "Roman Holiday" should, by every right, be considered a conventional and cliche movie, but it surpasses due to its palpable and saturated chemistry and genuinely hilarious moments. You've got strong writing here, you got incredible performances, and you got ingeniously creative moments. How come the rom-coms that come out in 2012 is worse than a 1953 flick? I guess Hollywood never learns to adapt.

2001: A Space Odyssey
½

2001 is a pretty difficult movie to review.
1) It was made in 1968.
2) Its storytelling is drastically different from today's contemporary standards.
3) 2001 is, at its heart, an art-house movie that leaves much to open interpretation.

I, for one, absolutely dig art-house films but do not tend to enjoy open ended interpretations because, in the end, I want to see why the director placed such an open ended idea there in the first place. "Tree of Life"? Naw, not for me. "The Fountain"? What the hell happened in that? I still don't know. Nevertheless, "2001: A Space Odyssey" is one of those rare movies where it forces viewers into an artistic state of mind with enough interesting narrative twists to draw me into its universe coupled with breathtakingly, extraordinary cinematography.

Mind you, this was made in 1968. Yes, 1968. And with such age, it still manages to trump many of the contemporary films in terms of storytelling and superb cinematography. Yeah, the pacing is extremely patient and methodical, and it seems to marvel over certain sequences for way too long than it should, but nevertheless, once the pacing seemed unbearable, 2001 threw in a curve ball that drew me back in. For an avid film-goer, even 2001 pushed my patience, and this was mainly due to my familiarity with loud, fast-paced contemporary movies. Regardless of this, I can't help but to imagine how revolutionary "2001: A Space Odyssey" must've been during its time when filmmaking was restrained by technology, the lack of knowledge of the world outside of Earth, innovation, and mind-pondering questions about the roots of man never particularly being shared through a motion picture. And that's why whenever 2001 was brought up in conversation, words like "poetic" and "awe-inspiring" came up. It's not even because that it was revolutionary during its time, is the reason why I enjoyed it. I genuinely enjoyed the film for its narrative turns and artistic storytelling.

2001 is an ambitious film. Yes, it kinda did annoy me how open-ended it was, not because of the frustration of taking some time to sit down and interpret the movie myself, but simply because I wanna know what makes Stanley Kubrick tick. Regardless of this personal annoyance, "2001: A Space Odyssey" is definitely a poetic motion picture that is entertaining enough to draw me into its world, even though I don't agree with its message. It's fresh. Funny, I thought I would say that about a movie that came out in 2012. Sadly, the innovative films are those from the past, not in the hope of the future of filmmaking, that is, if Hollywood continues down its path that its on now.

Ted
Ted(2012)
½

Family Guy: The Movie.

This is Seth MacFarlane's debut into the silver screen and it manages to entertain, but for those of you that dislike his work such as "Family Guy" or "America's Dad", you'll find much of the same type of humor in "Ted". I'm one of those guys, which led me throughout the movie, displeased and unentertained. Plus, the freakin bear sounds exactly like Peter Griffin. It's raunchy and vulgar enough to notice that there's a R rating slapped in, but not enough to see that there's a difference between "Ted" and "Family Guy". Unfortunately, reviews on comedy movies is pretty tough; it's difficult to differentiate whether the movie is good based on how effectively it dishes out its certain type of humor. In this case, based on general consensus, "Ted" has pleased audiences. But for me, I don't dig "Family Guy"-esque humor and it left me desiring for more. A lotta the jokes fell flat and too many of the jokes were overkill. Don't get me wrong, there were a few moments where it left me laughing out loud, but not enough to see that this is a comedy I would go out and recommend to others.

"Family Guy" = "Ted" with an unrestrained embrace towards an R-rating. If that equation makes you giggle to yourself in glee, then "Ted"'s for you. For me though, it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, not wanting to turn back.

The Bank Job
The Bank Job(2008)

Taking a glance at the title, preconceived notions popped out, telling me that this was gonna be one of those movies where a crew with individual talents are gonna be made up to pull off the perfect heist. Typical heist movie, right? Wrong. "The Bank Job" interweaves a clever narrative with genuinely thrilling moments.

There's a lot to like about "The Bank Job". First off, we're gonna needa bring Jason Statham back in the acting game because he fills in the shoes of the main character quite well. And during the ride, there's a stellar script, driving the story forward in an entertaining fashion. The narrative's tight, fast, and takes interesting turns, and there's some gripping scenes. Unfortunately, near the 3rd act of the movie, the movie begins to become a bit stale. "The Bank Job"'s real killer though is the lack of substance. Yes, it's based on a true story and by the finale, there is a conclusive wrap up that goes beyond just a simple heist, but it seems nothing more than an entertaining time-passer-by.

"The Bank Job" is an enjoyable movie. It's a good movie, but not a great one.

The Amazing Spider-Man
½

Finally, a realistic outlook on the Spider-Man tale. Let me come right out and say it: I've never been a fan of the Sam Raimi Spider-Mans. It was too cheesy and felt too much like a B-movie. "The Amazing Spider-Man" is still a B-movie that tries to inject a deeper, darker, and more serious outlook on Peter Parker's struggles, but it's not without its share of problems.

Never cared too much about Tobey Maguire. He's a good actor, but he didn't seem to be the right role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and thus, left me not caring too much for the character despite the interesting story arcs the previous Spider-Man's had. Andrew Garfield is, by far, the best casted Spider-Man yet. I enjoyed the hell out of his performance. You actually care about the internal struggles and development over the course of the narrative. Additionally, the storyline's much more psychologically driven, making Peter Parker a much more multi-layered and interesting character. "The Amazing Spider-Man" does tread in familiar narrative territory as "Spider-Man", but does enough to distinguish it as a stand-alone movie. And how can it not follow in the same footsteps when the source material is solidly planted in its place? The action's tight and intuitive, the drama is riveting, and the narrative takes audiences into Peter Parker's intimate world. Its got its share of problems though, not gonna lie -- the main problems mainly due to the lackluster screenplay and the surprisingly slim conclusion to the story arc. You guys have seen the trailers and the TV spots, right? Well, many of the scenes in those advertisements are stripped out, leaving the questions that pop up during the movie, left open. It's an uneven way to promote the inevitable sequel that is bound to drop. Still, Andrew Garfield is so engaging to see and the relationships and narrative is entertaining enough to make "The Amazing Spider-Man" a great super-hero movie. Now what peeves me is how many movie-goers are claiming that "The Amazing Spider-Man" is trying to bandwagon on the darker and gritty tone that "The Dark Knight" sparked on the super-hero genre; no, "The Amazing Spider-Man" is not trying to copy it. Based on the camerawork, the editing, score, screenplay, and direction, it all comes to show that "The Amazing Spider-Man" is a different beast of its own and is in no ways, trying to be "The Dark Knight" of the Spider-Man series. "The Amazing Spider-Man" is a blockbuster action flick with a deeper focus on the emotional and psychological studies of Peter Parker's character. "The Dark Knight" is a film with blockbuster elements. 'Nuff said.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" falls short from being the best Marvel movie to debut, however, it is enough to be considered the best Spider-Man film in my book. It's engaging, interesting, and emotionally alluring to see Peter Parker in a darker and more emotion-filled light.

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Sharp dialogue is the name of this movie. Yes, there are occasional fart, genitalia, or immature jokes thrown around but what elevates this comedy to be an incredible one is the performances and the dialogue. A must watch for all comedy fans. I loved it.

Brave
Brave(2012)
½

"Brave". Short and sweet.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Ever since "Cars 2" dropped, the quality of Pixar films has not been the same. I, for one, enjoyed "Cars 2". Did it live up to Pixar's wildly high standards? Not really, but it was one hell of a good time. "Brave" does just that, except with a bit more thematic and emotional depth, but still not to the likes of "Up" or "Toy Story 3".

"Brave"'s a tough cookie to review; unlike many other Pixar iterations, the script, the depth of the characters, and the comic relief is surprisingly limited, yet it manages to entertain due to its wickedly pleasant pacing. You'll soon realize that almost every aspect of this story is not catered to adults, but somehow the sweet innocence and fleshed out pacing keeps the ball rolling. Just as "Brave" begins to be stale, it throws in a curveball into the mix to make the narrative feel refreshing. It's not exactly a bad movie, nor a great one, but it's the prime example of how even when Pixar presents an extremely limited narrative, their experience and craftsmanship pulls through to create an entertaining film.

The Strangers
½

Horror elements work and it effectively relies on a super slim story. Other then that, this film becomes frustrating

The Legend of Drunken Master (Jui kuen II) (Drunken Fist II)
½

Your usual martial arts movie affair: dubbed voices, oppression running left and right, using the art of kung fu for peace, horrible narrative, etc. But this is undoubtedly Jackie Chan's greatest choreography put into film, ever.

Life Is Beautiful (La Vita è bella)
½

Really long time ago that I've seen this, but I remember the powerful ending and how impacting it was.

The Pianist
The Pianist(2002)
½

"The Pianist" is shockingly raw and depressing vision of the Holocaust that is portrayed through the eyes of Roman Polanski. I don't feel right to pick at a movie about such a sensitive issue but there seems to be one gaping problem: emotional attachment with the main characters. Brutal attacks and killings are made to so many Jewish characters on screen that it begins to become numbing. The first death that occurs thrusts audiences out of their comfort zone and into the Holocaust time period, but it happens over and over and over. It is difficult to pinpoint the climax of the movie. Although this is a story about a real survivalist, there didn't seem to be any true development or growth that occurred throughout the atrocities. Not to say that if the real person never truly did, that it has still gotta be in the movie... but then what would this movie be? A movie that portrays the cold deaths of the Holocaust? This is one gaping flaw that prevented this movie from being a masterpiece.

The Next Three Days

Possible spoilers found here

"The Next Three Days" presents itself with a bold moral view that challenges viewers with a difficult moral code to live by-- in particular, a man that is willing to risk everything for the sake of his spouse that is spending life in prison. It's definitely a courageous act when done under the umbrella of the law, but is it okay if you step outside into the rain? The film does touch upon the question, but half way through, you see where Paul Haggis, the writer and director, sides with: he embraces this moral viewpoint, no matter what the circumstances may be -- even if it leads to taking human lives and compromising the utmost important of laws. Haggis embraces this morale as a righteous, upright, and good act, even when the wife rightfully deserves it. It's a mess and it left me having a disgust towards the message of the movie. The worst part about it? At the end, "The Next Three Days" tries to tie it all off as if Russell Crowe's actions was the best possible decision one could make at such an occasion.

At a technical standpoint, "The Next Three Days" is made with adequate technicalities, but the void between the transition of one technical method to another is lacking and sloppy. It's like an amateur that read up on all the things that make a movie a technically sound and cobbling them all up, resulting in an uneven and choppy motion picture. Russell Crowe does a commendable job but Elizabeth Banks was considerably lacking in the acting department. Some of the emotional scenes that demanded raw emotion to spew forth from her was not believable nor convincing. That's not to say that there are harrowing scenes, especially in the third act of the movie where the planning of the breakout comes to fruition, but before then, it's overly extended which hurts the pacing of the film. Was it an entertaining time? Sure, but it's hardly gonna be a memorable one.

"The Next Three Days" is an effective thriller that exudes some of the most aggravatingly abominable moralistic teaching since recent filmmaking. Yeah, it's not like, "Let's embrace murder!", but it's the sly persuasive undertones that the film pitches at viewers is what's so bothersome. Films that compromise upright living such as this is one of the few aspectual reasons as to why children grow up with such flawed paradigms, because it embraces how no matter how you may feel, it's okay as long as it's a "righteous" act such as rescuing your loved one.

The Bourne Identity

An espionage thriller that realistically seems stationed in the real world.

With an outstanding performance by Matt Damon, a sharp script, a narrative plays a balancing act between romance, action, and tension, and powerful action sequences that carry both brawn and brain, "The Bourne Identity" acts as a spring-cleaning of what we know of Hollywood-ized CIA thrillers. Of course, "Supremacy" and "Ultimatum" packed in more of a visceral punch towards its action sequences, but what "Identity" did was build a narrative foundation that the rest of the iterations could build upon. And what a foundation it is. There seemingly doesn't seem to be a dull moment in this clever but bold action thriller. Doug Liman is definitely lacking in terms of technicalities compared to Paul Greengrass (evidently shown in many of the fight scenes and the mini cooper chase sequence), but "Identity" still stands up there with the likes of the many exceptional espionage films. Plus, it has one of the most memorable spy vs. spy, wits vs. wits action scenes involving Damon and Clive Owen.

"The Bourne Identity". It's a must watch and a hell of a good time.

That's My Boy
½

With every Adam Sandler's movie comes the same redundant plotline with the same type of slapstick humor... but I can't deny that it wasn't a horrendous time; it entertains with a few punchlines that hit you right in the gut. Oh, it surely does fall flat compared to his Sandler's previous efforts and yes, it's widely hated by many critics, but when coming to watch a movie with the lowest of expectations, its entertaining enough.

Happy Gilmore
½

A good time, nothing more, nothing less.

Prometheus
Prometheus(2012)

Welcome back Ridley! With so much buzz and speculation surrounding this title, it was difficult to see how Ridley would handle this prequel but stand alone film. With confidence, I could say that he has done an exceptionally beautiful job in conveying its horrific origins but with limited results.

"Wow" is what consistently crossed my mind; "Prometheus" is littered with profoundly epic, beautifully breathtaking cinematography. Its style wasn't like "2001: A Space Odyssey" much like its predecessor; its alike many conventional Hollywood films. And much like "Alien", its got an immense amount of detail in its sets, make-up work, and CGI. "Prometheus" is one beautiful work of art, though lacks in art-house style.

However, Ridley does a poor job stringing the narrative's plunges and turns to cohesively unite with the main story arc; it makes the film feel aimless, almost as if "Prometheus" is an adaption to an extensively, detailed book filled with subplots. A particular infection occurs, people die in a way never seen within the "Alien" universe, and some characters take some shady leaps-of-faith, but at the end of the day, it seems like the director put these in for the sake of shock value -- nothing more. It's not to say that "Prometheus" is particularly a horrible movie. At first, it seems like Ridley's back to his roots -- dark, atmospheric, and tension-building, and though it may feel disjointed, "Prometheus"'s packed with some noteworthy scenes, particularly one involving an "operation". The scenes are entertaining as their own, just when strung together, it becomes a mess. Despite the memorable moments, there needs to be a good payoff when the movie's fixated on delivering an atmosphere of stress-filled trepidation, and "Prometheus" ends up falling flat.

"Prometheus" is riddled with disjointed, but albeit, entertaining narrative twists and turns that results in a slow-paced but lackluster film. There was an excitement to see Ridley go back to its gritty roots, and in a way, he did, just not very effectively. I gotta note that Michael Fassbender is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors, and he comes to show that he's able to stretch his acting capabilities widely, especially in "Prometheus".

Snow White and the Huntsman

Before I get into the review, I gotta say that I had one of the worst theater experiences watching this but it wasn't as bad as my experience when watching "1408" (Read my 1408 review). As I buy the ticket, the ticket guy himself is giving me a fair warning that most of the audience consists of teenagers. "Uh oh." I come in, take a seat, and literally throughout the entire film running time, the teenage audience are cracking up at sexual innuendos that's only spotted by immature eyes, cracking out jokes, kicking chairs, and completely destroying somber, dramatic moments of the movie by talking rambunctiously. Freakin' annoying. Turned around 3 times to tell them to shut up. First time, nicely. Second time, with suppressed frustration and third just straight up lashing. Even those that weren't a part of their congregation was shushing those teens out of sheer aggravation. It's probably my fault for getting out of my way to watch a Snow White film; as a film fanatic, I was curious to see the time old tale of "Snow White" rendered in a live-action dark tone. By now, it probably seems like my experience might have made my opinion on "Snow White" pretty skewed. Don't let it deter you away; "Snow White and the Huntsman" straight up sucked.

The good? Dazzling visuals, Charlize Theron's performance, and... I seriously can't think of anything else. That's where it all ends. The second the film booms out, the storytelling execution begins to rear its ugly face. As I tried to ignore it, Kristen Stewart came out in one of the most woodenly stiff performances I've seen in a long time. The film tries to convince and show that Kristen Stewart, as the titular character Snow White, lugs around one of the most purest, innocent, and grandest of hearts. For the 2 hours and 7 minutes of run-time, I was not convinced; the performance itself was extremely reminiscent to the acting style of Keanu Reeves -- stoic, depressed, and expressionless. It isn't to say that the performance was cringe-worthy, but unconvincing. It doesn't exactly kill the movie, so what does? The pacing. It's choppy, uneven, and extremely dull. The narrative strives to be an epic adventure of an iconic tale, but no moment is this expedition exhilarating or interesting. The production team wrongfully chose to convey the narrative without any emphasis on what made the source material interesting in the first place, thus leaving this film to feel like just another medieval slash flick with a few magical elements.

"Snow White and the Huntsman" has top notch production values with a charismatic and committed performance by Charlize Theron, but comes to a grinding halt due to extremely poor execution on all cylinders. It's a bore and in no way carries over the source material's interesting elements.

Aliens
Aliens(1986)
½

Ridley Scott's outta the picture and in comes epic-scale visionary, James Cameron and he completely rips apart the atmospheric tension "Alien" so meticulously built up. Instead, Cameron decides to inject action set-pieces coupled with some of the cheesiest dialogue.

Jumping right into the film, I noticed a dramatic departure in quality for the cinematography. No more eerily cold shots of space; no more claustrophobic, isolated shots; and when "Aliens" draws nostalgic memories of its predecessor, its ghostly qualities are drained out by its cacophonous dialogue. If I were to best describe the quality of its technicalities, it equalizes with many of the homogenized late 80's, early 90's action flicks. In other words, it doesn't stand out. You see where I'm going with this? Cameron does the worst decision possible: He decides to substitute all the horror elements and dread of this universe with finicky action set-pieces. Funny how the one alien in the previous iteration is more horrifying than the hundreds of aliens (including the big mama queen) in this movie. Okay, I understand -- Cameron is going for an action movie, not a horror film. However, the action is not something to behold either. It's sloppy, rambunctious, and boring. Yeah, thinking from a 2012 movie mindset, "Aliens" definitely fails to propel action, but I could definitely see how it was revolutionary at its time (C'mon, it was made in 1986). Was the movie as a whole entertaining? Let's just say that it gets the job done, but when "Aliens" is clocking in around 2 hours and 18 minutes, you'll find yourself bored for most of the ride.

"Aliens" is a baffling departure from its extremely successful predecessor. No more scares, no more atmosphere, and no more methodical pacing. Its coupled with extremely medicore performances, appalling dialogue (Never was a fan of Cameron's screenplays), and a baffling turn in direction. Now, where's Ridley?

Alien
Alien(1979)

A 1979 movie that puts so many horror flicks after it to shame. You don't see movies that patiently and methodically pace themselves anymore. Nowadays, quantity is on everyone's minds: An exhausting amount of cheap scares, blaring loud sounds to fright even those with a hearing aid, and extreme gore to churn stomachs. "Alien" may be a bit outdated, but no one can deny the sheer, insurmountable tension it lays on viewers.

Ridley Scott takes the helm of this sci-fi horror flick and does an incredible job with breathtaking cinematography and technically superb direction. Of course, much of these shots were inspired by "2001: A Space Odyssey" but who could blame him? But the real credit goes to Ridley for his masterful direction to convey the chilling horrific events that ensue. "Alien" encroaches on the viewers, slowly creeping it's eerie and mysterious horrors at them. It left me rocking back and forth across my couch, frequently reaching for the remote to lower the volume in hopes to lessen the scare factor. But once the alien strikes, it's not as horrifying. However, it comes to show the marvelous job Ridley has done to make the tension so unequivocally tangible. No cheap gags found here. All the while, the narrative throws new curve balls into the mix, making the alien's characteristics and its dangers much more mysterious which effectively leaves viewers in the dark and needing them to confront the alien again to learn more. It's great and scary as hell. The performances are impressive; the design of the alien and the gore are spectacularly raw and realistic, putting to shame the "Oh, that's CGI" mentality.

"Alien" is nothing more than a traditionally creepy thriller, but man, it's one damn good one. It takes its time; it isn't loud and obnoxiously in-your-face, but once it confronts the viewers, it leaves them in a nail-biting, frozen-stiff state.

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

A surprise hit in my book.

I've never seen the Harold & Kumar installments so maybe that's why this 3rd iteration was an enjoyable one for me. It's everything you could expect from a flick like this: Grotesque, abidingly crude, and vulgarity that's thrown in your face; it's also a lot of fun.

This offensive flick throws a lot comedic punches that, most of the time, misses, but every now and then, it finds a haymaker comes from nowhere and results in laugh out loud laughter. I found myself getting lost in gleeful laughter and hooked into the simple but entertaining narrative. Yeah, the 3D formatting is blatantly thrown in, and yes, it isn't the most fantastically well-thought-out film, but it shamelessly embraces all of it, suspending all kinds of beliefs from all over. It's a raunchy movie that doesn't care how ridiculously over-the-top things can get; it's here to entertain. With such an audacious full-front assault towards it's repulsive personality, obviously I had my gripes with the film, but not for it's offensive behavior; this eccentric execution usually comes coupled with poor technicalities and a real poor respect towards the art of filmmaking. Plus, it's simply not my type of movie.

Nevertheless, "A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas" took me by a wild surprise; my expectation was that equivalent to the more recent Van Wilder flicks. This is a profane caricature that draws its comedic value through its sarcastic outlook on everyday life. It's entertaining

Men in Black III

MIB: Man, it Blows.

The first MIB was definitely a surprise hit that seemingly and surprisingly injected comedy into a sci-fi universe. "Men in Black III" left almost all of its comical punches and all its charisma back in previous iterations.

"Men in Black III" was not funny. At all. There might've been one chuckle from me. That's it. "Men in Black III" was not enjoyable. The premise: Interesting but wasn't expounded upon correctly, thus leaving it to be a bore seconds after the viewers are introduced to Josh Brolin, easily the best performance of this flick. His performance is so fantastic in fact that him and the ending are the only good payoffs to "Men in Black III". The rest of the narrative, the action, and dialogue was so aggravatingly bad, I was compelled to think that the second installment to the "Men in Black" series was better than this one. Now, I don't think it's that bad anymore, it comes to show what kind of sloppy work this flick is.

"Men in Black III". Funny -- it goes back in time to regain its magic but only to find another dead end; this series is definitely showing its age and lack of originality. "MIB III" is an unfunny and unnecessary movie that fails to entertain in any sort of caliber.

The Raid: Redemption
½

Way back in the past, there's been a couple of foreign action B-movies that I've briefly seen with a semidetached attention because they were horribly made, unimaginative, and boring. "The Raid: Redemption" drew an incredible amount of nostalgic flashbacks to those flicks. There's so much love for "The Raid". 83% on RottenTomatoes? "The best action move in decades!?!?" "One of the greatest martial arts movies of all time??" Oh man, I was ready. I sat there with snacks ready, kicking my legs up on a foot rest, ready to see what may be one of the most biggest guilty pleasures I would see in a while. Disappointed. Really disappointed. It might've been overhyped, but I call "The Raid: Redemption" an overemphasis on dull action set-pieces that prolongs throughout the entire movie. It makes me sad to see that criticism on movies have become increasingly lenient and appreciative for an underdeveloped, sloppy, and boring flick like this.

It's funny; even though I talk so much smack on Michael Bay, I'm down for an all-out, in-your-face, adrenaline junky flick as long as it truly delivers an engaging narrative and entertainment. You can go ahead and dismiss the narrative in "The Raid: Redemption"; throughout the entire movie, about only 15-20 minutes are dedicated to the storyline. There wasn't too much of a problem with that because the introduction to the entire narrative, which lasted only about 10 minutes, was astoundingly boring. Ah yes, after the dull intro, the movie quickly jumps, head first, into the visceral action. There's some good choreography, but there weren't enough highlights and entertainment behind the fist-pumping ecstasy to draw me in. The action scenes were unnecessarily gory and though it throws, yells, blood, sweat, and punches in an unrestrained fashion, it became mundane and uneventful. As time went by, I became more and more disappointed by the lack of a true, masterpiece-worthy action scene to blow me out of the water. Then the film ended. All the while, there would annotations made within my mind of all the things that was sincerely lacking in "The Raid: Redemption"; whether it was the ugly cinematography, poor CGI effects (I understand that the budgeting is slim and an international movie), and sub par camerawork and editing.

I'm sorely disappointed. I thought "The Raid: Redemption" could've been one of my favorite movies. It's WAY below that. "The Raid: Redemption", a sub par B-movie action flick, suffered from repetitive action set-pieces that ceased to amaze in any spectacular fashion coupled with ugly technical work. There's a lot to be desired -- it left me with a sour taste in my mouth, as if my time has been jipped off.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
½

I wondered, "How on earth is George Clooney gonna be a convincing voice actor?" Well, Fantastic Mistuh Fox is surprisingly matched with a dexterous screenplay, almost as if it were catered to the adult crowd -- in other words, George Clooney was a perfectly well-casted gentleman. Funny thing is that although its fixated to please adults, the style is so artistically over-the-top, wild, and comical that this adventure is a lot of fun for the kids as well.

Now, by how "Fantastic Mr. Fox" has been described so far, it should seem like the narrative would be executed in a sort of clustered but calculated way, right? Nope, Wes Anderson rightfully keeps it clean and linear: it's the perfect balance of whimsical dialogue and themes, and the eccentric personality. Luckily, this linearity's coupled with good-hearted themes and a soft heart. And what a tribute to Roald Dahl's book; rendered to an almost complete picture-book-esque style, the cinematography is absolutely beautiful. The composition, the stop-motion technology, and the colors really pop out of the screen. The style is so overbearingly superb, the narrative just doesn't reach the same caliber throughout. Yes, the pacing is even and the voice-acting is all around great, but the entertainment value of the entire picture doesn't quite manage to deliver the same affection as its style. No need to worry-- it's not overbearingly fixated on art-house visuals that they complete alienate the children. "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is still a lot of fun, but compared to many animated movies out there, it's on the short end of the stick.

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" is a fantastic (sorry, had to do it) art-house animated movie that's firing on all cylinders; it's got a great ensemble and an atypical screenplay coupled with eye-popping visual flair -- just don't expect this to be a wild ride as you would imagine a wild ride to be. The VISUALS are wild and eccentric, and there may be quirky moments within the plot, but "Fantastic Mr. Fox" keeps its composure throughout.

Death Proof
Death Proof(2007)

What's up with all the hate? Seems to me like it's Tarantino doing his normal thing, and trust me -- Tarantino's normal affair usually equates to above-average, innovative film fare.

Jumping on in, I was expecting an unconventional slasher flick. "Oh jeez, one of those...", I thought. From the prolonged focus on plotless chitchat, the strange premise, and Tarantino's homage to the "outdated" genre of grindhouse films, I could definitely see the hate towards "Death Proof". That expectation was quickly smashed. Tarantino's direction and writing skill is so unequivocally impressive, "Death Proof" is a mark of how films should be done -- in other words, he's done a masterful job.

This is, in no way, a B-movie slasher flick that is trying to slap in cheap admiration to grindhouse films; it's surprisingly a verbose but intensely clever film that's oozes movie magic that seemingly everyone in Hollywood is trying to emulate but failing at. There IS a quirky narrative; there ARE grindhouse camera mechanics and "sloppy" editing. However, Tarantino has done such an extraordinary job that I'm compelled to not categorize "Death Proof" as a mere B-movie, rash, entertainment blockbuster; it is a glorified, stylish homage to the style of grindhouse that acts as a standalone film that exceeds on all forefronts. Plus, it's got some of the greatest stunt work to date.

Is this Tarantino's black sheep? No... HELL no. This is further testament as to why Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest directors and writers of our era. Yeah, I may have enjoyed other movies by Quentin, but doesn't mean that "Death Proof" is a bad movie. "Death Proof" is a wildly good time that exhibits an ambiance of a traditional, flabbergasting cinematic experience that exudes movie magic.

Jackie Brown
Jackie Brown(1997)
½

Like most of Quentin Tarantino's movies, "Jackie Brown" is strung together with sharp dialogue, intriguing characters, intricate camerawork, and engaging plot devices. It's unique but not as colorful and suave as many of Tarantino's other entrees. Similarly, it also doesn't have a particularly "unique" plot -- it's the style, technicalities, and wit Tarantino injects into "Jackie Brown" that creates such riveting entertainment. The pacing, contrary to other Quentin Tarantino outings, is not as crisp. Even more so, "Jackie Brown" has a slight stink of pretentiousness. Yes, movies need to show off their style, but there was a slight arrogance to its storytelling; in the end, the audience sits through "Jackie Brown"'s grandeur and eye-popping pep-rally but is not met of its promising claims in the main event. The movie itself is nowhere near the same caliber as "Pulp Fiction", "Reservoir Dogs", or even "Kill Bill Vol. 1". That is not to say that all the praise "Jackie Brown" received is not deservant of it; it's an intricately woven pop-culture film that satisfies, though not to the limit the film arrogantly claims it will fulfill.

Notting Hill
Notting Hill(1999)
½

Like I've said in a previous review, all a romantic comedy needs is a tangible chemistry between the two actors and a clever script. "Notting Hill" delivers the goods.

It's lacking in many technical standpoints and can get a little too sappy at times, but the characters are so alluring and the script is so witty that it overcomes the choke points of this film. I found myself laughing out loud at the humor and I found myself really caring to see more progression within these characters' relationships. "Notting Hill"'s a great romantic comedy that's sure to please all movie-goers.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
½

Finally, after all the rave and talk about the series, I decided to step in and see what all the fuss has been about. My verdict? It's a glorious rendition of a wildly interesting thriller -- no doubt about that, but it fails to leave a mark of a trilogy that is memorable by any means, that is Fincher's rendition of the series and not the original narrative as a whole.

It might've possibly been a mistake on my part to jump in without seeing the original Swedish version due to the possibility of mistranslation or different artistic views conveyed via Fincher. Nevertheless, Fincher's rendition is a damn good one if you ask me. He's done a great job portraying a brooding atmosphere and a riveting narrative through the incredible cast, dynamically rich camerawork, polished cinematography, and a witty script. There's a lot of disquieting scenes crammed into this piece, but I can't help but to get a vibe that Fincher didn't care to remain faithful to the original narrative by portraying the emotional or thematic undertones as for why these scenes were even placed within the story arc in the first place. The nudity, the disturbing scenes, and many other scenes seemingly stick out, as if it didn't belong. That's all to say that this "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is by no means a bad movie, but an unfocused motion picture... a really good unfocused motion picture.

I'm sure there's plenty of differences between the international version and the Hollywood version, but I'm sufficed to say that Fincher's rendition of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a captivating, nerve-racking mysterious thriller that is sure to entertain, but doesn't earn the high talks of how great the trilogy is due to differing artistic views and a confusion towards portraying the original narrative's thematic and emotional undertones. I'm a guy that hasn't seen the international nor read any of the books, but it's apparently obvious that this is a carbon-copy of the exterior storyline, but not the soul of the original source material.

Red Tails
Red Tails(2012)

Ehhh.

Extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeemely cheesy; Cringe-worthy dialogue, horrible acting (Cuba Gooding Jr. is never believable), and directing and editing that brings nostalgic reminders of Disney channel movies makes this minorities-exceeding-expectations flick a bore. The only redeeming quality that "Red Tails" represents is the good-hearted story, but the execution is too tainted for it to be considered a film worth watching.

Following
Following(1999)
½

This is one of those strange movies where it's obviously crippled by extremely slim production values but finds its artistic identity in it.

Now a lot of people are commending "Following" for its alluring narrative; I couldn't disagree more. I agree that though its unconventional and interesting, it only holds its interest for the few first minutes; the rest falters and takes a dramatic dip in terms of pacing and only until the end does "Following" regain its composure. Now the payoff at the end is definitely riveting, but on the other hand, it wasn't enough to overlook the flaws riddled throughout this film. Horrible camerawork, ugly cinematography, unbelievably unrealistic on-screen actions, mediocre acting performances, and a gapingly empty storyline are to name off the few that drops the quality of this film dramatically, yet "Following" strangely finds its artistic identity through these disappointing aspects. It tastes like a sort of "noir" vibe -- it's interesting. Still ain't enough to overcome the blemishes. C'mon now, the movie's only an hour and 11 minutes long, but still manages to bore the audience. I commend Nolan for making his debut to be an "indie-like", narrative-focused film, but there are a profuse amount of vastly superior films that does what "Following" does. Still, it isn't enough to bash on Nolan; this is his first film so I still give him respect for he's definitely shown his progress over the years, but unfortunately, he's left his roots and has succumbed to the blockbuster, big budget crowd.

"Following" has an intriguing narrative that is unfortunately executed poorly due to almost every single aspect of the film being mediocre at best. The prologue is great; the finale is shocking; the rest? Not so much.

My Mom's New Boyfriend
½

I didn't even finish the movie cause it was so boring and cheesy.

Haywire
Haywire(2012)
½

"Salt", move aside; "Haywire"'s a much better fit for me. Unlike "Salt", this movie's aggressive with strong performances throughout coupled with Steven Soderbergh's steady hands and none of the cheesy dialogue or story-arc.

If you're gonna come into this to be blow away by the story, think again. "Haywire" follows cliche after cliche, there's little to no character development, and there's hardly a narrative to build off from to be invested in, but it somehow takes the little substance it has and its brilliantly executed with a clever emphasis on slow burning, methodically tense build-ups to the raw, realistic, and intense action. And surprisingly, unlike the Bourne series, it drops the shaky cam and still manages to deliver the same type of in-your-face, hand-to-hand fight scenes. "Haywire" carries a very unique feel within the action-thriller genre that seeps into these intense fight scenes, which give it an enough original identity to stand out from the rest of the Michael-Bay-explosion-fest movies. WOOOOOO-WEEEEE! What a breath of fresh air to see some quality, knuckle-to-skull action; they're ferocious!

The film, as a whole, may be lackluster to some or too "slow-burning" for most, but it delivers the fight scenes and style at such a veracity that I can't help but to be mesmerized and entertained. Of course the style is reminiscent to previous "Ocean's" films but it's still enough to stand up on its own two feet, instead of leaning on another previous film's successes.

Soul Surfer
Soul Surfer(2011)

I like how the RottenTomatoes consensus put it: "There's an amazing true story at the heart of Soul Surfer -- and unfortunately, it's drowned by waves of Hollywood cheese." Yup, with material like this, it's hard to go wrong, but boy, it was freaking cheesy. I found myself cringing a lot at the laughably and poorly written dialogue, the mediocre acting (Sorry Carrie Underwood, you're a devout Christian and an EXCELLENT musician, which is all very inspiring, but acting ain't your thing), and the poor execution in storytelling. "What's up, Disney Channel?" As a Christian, I find myself cringing at the attempt to make an inspiring Christian-themed movie, but surprisingly, "Soul Surfer" as a Christian movie, wasn't THAT bad compared to the many other Christian movies. Let me tell you, there are some horrifyingly, awful Christian movies out there.

You'll be pleasantly welcomed by the B-movie feel "Soul Surfer" has. It's not preachy or pretentious; deep down, there's a lot of purity and heart injected into this movie. There's a particular scene involving the Bethany, the main protagonist, that effectively agitates the audience's emotions, all without a word being said. Even the message was good-hearted, pure, and a relief, especially among a movie industry filled with dark and unsettling themes. Surprisingly, "Soul Surfer" as a Christian movie, manages to catch a couple of waves, but that's where it ends. The movie suffers from horrible pacing issues, mainly due to the fact that the incident that occurs, and the result afterwards are the only solid material "Soul Surfer" has for its narrative. The spaces in between are nothing more than fillers, and what dull fillers they are. The editing is sporadically all over the place, and the dialogue makes me shudder.

Phew, this is one big cheeseball. Nevertheless, it's a good movie for children and is a surprisingly effective Christian-themed film -- just don't take your film critique crew to watch this. There IS an amazing true story at the heart of Soul Surfer -- and unfortunately, it's drowned by waves of Hollywood cheese... to the max.

Shame
Shame(2011)
½

Wow.

Just... wow.

"Shame" is a spiralingly scary portrayal of an addiction gone wrong. How can I say this -- everything exudes pitch dark realism at its worst. "Shame" is easily the best NC-17 rated movie of all time and one of the most, if not, the most mature movie of 2011.

Michael Fassbender, man, I was a fan of yours after you stole the screen in "X-Men: First Class" and "Inglourious Basterds", but you took it to a whole 'nother level in this one. He is absolutely absorbing in every single scene he's in. Whether it comes down to Fassbender's quiet, soul-churning moments, or when his anger spurts forth, his performance speaks at thundering volumes. He easily steals the show. There were so many moments where I said to myself, "How did you act this part? You must've been through the same thing." Jean Dujardin won best actor for this year? Yeah, I agree he did an EXCELLENT job, but Fassbender easily kills it in this.

With a direction that is patient but unafraid to delve into the dark depths that many people choose to hide, director Steve McQueen makes a near masterpiece that rightfully chooses not to explain things through dialogue, but simply let the audience observe the chaos that spirals into play. The results are riveting; by the end, I was shocked, not particularly "Requiem for a Dream" status by how disgusting things got, but by how heartbreakingly scary it is to see an addiction involuntarily strangle its hosts into deeper and more isolated areas. Yes, this movie has a gratuitous amount of sex in it, but that wasn't what made the movie disgusting nor appealing. It was an everyday thing for Michael Fassbender's character, Brandon, and yes, his inner demons was the struggle over the sex addiction, but there was much more to it then that. This is a multi-layered, extensively deep film that addresses and shows the horrors of these issues, but doesn't care to explain or address them with blatant dialogue that's thrown in for the sake of explanation. "Shame" is about shame. If it were about sex, it would've been called "Sex".

For an NC-17 movie, this had one hell of a great production. It's cinematically beautiful and with editing that's unconventionally long but artistic. The score stirs and the direction is spot on.

"Shame" is easily one of my favorite movies of 2011. It's disquieting, unapologetic, and gripping. "Shame" does have a vast amount of sex scenes and nudity, but luckily, it isn't used to commercialize sex -- in fact, it's used to show how abominable it is when used incorrectly. Incredibly absorbing movie. A must watch though the NC-17 rating was slapped on for a reason so, viewer discretion IS advised.

The King's Speech

Every now and then, there's a feel-good film that comes along and what should be a cliche, dull movie, is far from that; "The King's Speech" is one of these movies; it excels in every form and does it with brilliant results. Yeah, its fixated on a familiar type of storytelling, but at the core, there's a very sentiment narrative paired with such a cohesive package that the only drawback to such a spectacularly well-made film such as this is how it is TOO sentimental. Honestly, it isn't THAT sentimental compared to the likes of poppy teenage flicks; its not cheesy, thank God.

An immediate stand out is the sublime, perfect cinematography and editing. There's plenty of AAA movies coming out nowadays that manages to pull off breathtakingly shot scenes 70% of the time, but I dare to say that "The King's Speech" has the same high quality 99% of the film's length. Amazing. How did "Inception" win best cinematography, I do not know... but I know "The King's Speech" deserved it in every way. Other stand out achievements include the terrific acting of Colin Firth's character, George VI as one who has a speech impediment, the rich, intricate screenplay, and a narrative that's so alluring that even though the audience may understand what will transpire within the plotline, they can't help but to be sensitive to the characters' developments.

"The King's Speech" is a success in every way. It may be a little too Hollywood for some folks, but this is a Hollywood film reaching the highest caliber of blockbuster filmmaking with tip-top, best-of-the-best ensemble attributes.

Seven (Se7en)

What a thriller. After hearing about how this is arguably David Fincher's best work, I'm delighted to finally have seen "Se7en". It's a gut-wrenchingly, dark thriller with one of the most engaging yet mysterious narrative's in the crime-drama genre in recent memory. "Se7en" comes with its own share fair of flaws and it's hardly Fincher's masterpiece, but it is still one hell of a ride.

If you could describe "Se7en", dark, black, dreary, and claustrophobic would come up. Whether those attributes apply to how "Se7en" looks or what its about, it works. For example, this film's themes are very dark and delve into a realm unseen within the shadows, but at the same time, almost every scene is littered with black and gray colors with tints of blue. The storytelling is highly engaging, and though there is a lack of heart and character development, the premise of the narrative is too intriguing to regard the movie as a soulless picture. Yeah, I admit the film takes a while to hook the audience in, but once it grabs hold, it won't let go till the credits roll. However, one major thing that detracted me from the overall experience was how the film as a whole, was rendered to be entertainment. Everything had a very, "This is a Hollywood movie, not a real-life film" vibe. Plus, the sub-plot involving Gwyneth Paltrow was uninteresting and predictable.

"Se7en" isn't quite the "greatest crime drama of all time" film it raved out to be, but it was an excellent film with a premise and execution of the narrative that is too mysteriously engaging for it not to be considered as a forgettable film.

Mary and Max
Mary and Max(2009)

"Mary and Max". Glanced at the cover and the first thought was, "Hey, looks like a very interesting movie." Wow... interesting indeed. This animated movie ain't for children; this is one dark movie. "Mary and Max" is a very clever, multi-layered philosophical study of two social outcasts. There's hardly any color, and the narrative's usually delivered in first person with heart-warmingly, nimble dialogue between the two lonely stars. You're gonna laugh, you're gonna feel dread, and you're gonna feel happy. Its as immersive as its gonna get for an animated movie, and it's all due to the cohesive delivery -- ingenious direction, out-of-this-world yet familiar style, and the great voice actors are just to name a few of the ensemble achievements "Mary and Max" manages to pull off. It's definitely not for everyone, but it's hardly getting the praise that it deserves.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

The Mission: Impossible's has seen its changes of style, and unfortunately, those changes have dumbed down the series as a whole. M:I 1 took a methodical, patient, and story-driven approach towards the world of espionage, and frankly, it was mesmerizing to witness tension grinding through storytelling and dialogue -- not action. Yeah, it was executed with direction being decent at best, but what can we do? Number 2 came along with John Woo taking the helm by saying, "EFF YOU M:I 1!" and took a big pile of crap on top of the pin-droppingly quiet build up the first one patiently made. John Woo's approach: guns blazing with over-the-top action. I like to pull an "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" on the sequel; yeah, it was that bad. After such a disaster, J.J. Abrams took the third one, and it was arguably the best one in the franchise (My personal favorite from the entire M:I series). It was gritty with a sense of danger lurking around ever corner with a personal focused story centered around Ethan Hunt, but at the same time, carrying an ambiance of an epic, globe-trotting story. Even the action wasn't over-the-top; it was fixated on delivering a cohesive balance between action and the narrative. M:I 1 was patient and dialogue driven, M:I 2 was a mind-numbing action flick, and M:I 3 was the definition of a great blockbuster movie. See how the Mission: Impossible series is going through an identity crisis? "Ghost Protocol" comes along and messes things up again by having a very cartoony feel, coupled with dialogue almost as bad as the M:I 2 and a story that's thrown in with no thought.

"Ghost Protocol" isn't that bad of a movie. Breathtaking cinematography and entertaining set-pieces. However, there's so much word praising this movie to be the best of the series, but I could not disagree more. What's the majority of people saying? The set pieces in "Ghost Protocol" is spectacular. I beg to differ. Though it is entertaining and carries a bit of tension, it's nothing that we haven't seen (except for the hallway scene which, in my book, is the best scene in "Ghost Protocol"). Additionally, every scene exudes a cartoon-like feel, whether it comes down to the extreme focus on gadgetry, the wise ass joking remarks being thrown around during the heat of a mission, the annoying score, or the hunk of cheese drowning the slim story. You take away the entertainment value behind the set-pieces and you get a below average action movie... oh wait, that's like 90% of action movies coming out nowadays anyways. I'm thinking maybe that's why perhaps people are entertained by an average movie, and that is what "Ghost Protocol" simply is -- an average movie. I know some don't agree, but there's way too many flaws. Also, why was Jeremy Renner included in this film? The story behind his character and Cruise's character was uninteresting and the outcome did little to satisfy or spark an interest.

I really wanted to like "Ghost Protocol" -- I really did, but there's too many flaws to regard is as a memorable action blockbuster. Whether it was the laughable dialogue, the little focus on the narrative, and the unusual decision to deviate from the serious, gritty tone of the Mission: Impossible series towards a cartoony style, "Ghost Protocol" is one of the most overrated movies from recent memory.

Drive
Drive(2011)
½

Note: Do NOT watch the trailer before watching "Drive"; it'll ruin the entire experience. Read nothing about the synopsis. Do your best to not know a thing about the movie. So, much like my other reviews, this review is gonna be devoid of any information regarding the narrative.

"Drive" is a patient but thriller that grips you throughout the entire experience. An incredibly stylish and riveting movie. For my first viewing, I thought that the movie began to wear off because I believed that it never managed to innovate passed its prologue in terms of style and plot. Boy, was I WRONG. "Drive" consistently delivers striking, multilayered cinematography and sublime action scenes to make this one of the most memorable action art-house thrillers I've seen in an extremely long time.

The beginning scene is perfect. Definitely one of the best intros to an action film this year. It's smart, gripping, and brimming with a very cool style. It got me so invested into the movie that it pumped me up and got me anticipated for what would happen next. I was ready to sit through a great movie that would be remembered for a long time. And sadly, this wasn't the case... THE FIRST TIME I watched it. What was I thinking? Oh man, does "Drive" deliver. "Drive" tries to pull off a very 80's style -- the music, the costumes, the font... but it's not an 80's movie. This isn't to particularly say that this it failed to impress because clearly, "Drive"'s intently focused on delivering a riveting film that exudes an esoteric, magical quality.

Now, there are two different responses from movies that run off of a cliche plot:
1) We feel like it is super repetitive and dull
2) Though it is predictable, we can't manage but be enthralled due to a deft movie package.
The latter is what "Drive" is. Though it is predictable, it manages to be an impeccable, exquisite film at the top of its rank.

There's some incredibly rich lighting and vibrantly dynamic cinematography that exudes a richly mystic quality, sharing about the importance of humanity; there's some deep camerawork going on in this piece! The pacing is patient and refreshingly quiet which accentuates the tension. Unfortunately, the acting is dwindles between great and decent. There's a particular scene that Ryan Gosling shares with Carey Mulligan that really questioned the acting talent. I've seen enough films to understand when there are long pauses between dialogue to heighten and accentuate the atmosphere and emotions of the scene but it was not coupled with enough acting talent to upbuild the scene (it just seemed like in between their lines, they were smirking at each other by how awkward they felt). That's not to condemn Gosling or Mulligan -- I think they're great actors, but it doesn't take a genius to feel the tension of awkwardness in that particular scene.

"Drive" is a methodical, meticulously well-crafted thriller that delivers tension, thrills, and profound themes through its slow but patiently rewarding pacing, all coupled with a luscious and rich art-house style. This is a must watch.

Memento
Memento(2000)

"Inception"? You think that has a good ending? ...then you're dumb. "Memento"'s miles better than Christopher Nolan's disappointing "Inception"; its a grand puzzle, that once unravelled, turns out to almost be a masterpiece.

"Memento" takes an intriguing premise and expounds on it when its coupled with murder and mystery. The editing better be good if you're gonna be playing the events of the movie backwards, and I proudly say that Nolan did a breathtakingly fantastic job. A mesmerizingly innovative movie that takes a seemingly complicated style of presentation and delivers it so that audience members are given a puzzle easy enough to deal with but fascinating enough to be engrossing. "Memento" entrusts the viewers with its bold approach. And because of this backwards storytelling, it demands viewers to genuinely predict how the future events came about. Sensational. A one-of-a-kind. Unfortunately, character development somewhat takes a back seat during these events, the cinematography/camerawork is generic at best, and there's poor pacing during the first half of the movie, but the narrative of "Memento" is so commanding that it overpowers the flaws of this movie. After rewatching this film, I notice that though the movie has an ingenious premise with a fleshed out and cohesive approach to how to present its narrative, there are pacing issues in the first hour. Not a lot of developments occur, but its almost like the stage is being set up for a grand spectacle for the last few moments.

Treeless Mountain

Draws a lotta comparisons with "Where the Wild Things Are" except much more grim and less chaotic. "Treeless Mountain"'s a super slow burn, and I mean, REAL slow. I'm okay with pacing that is patient but when there are very little developments over the course of an hour, it becomes an issue. However, just like "Where the Wild Things Are" its an outstandingly realistic portrayal of children during times of emotional trauma.

The acting's incredibly believable. Half way through, I thought to myself, "Are these kids really acting? Did the filmmakers raise these two kids to undergo the same exact nurture as they are throughout the course of the film and just shoot snippets of their real life?" Hee Yeon Kim, the older sister, does a phenomenal job ...and she's only 6. Take some notes Hayden Christiansen. Because these are very young children, there's hardly any dialogue spoken to express their emotions but yet, we see the utter pain of betrayal and loneliness in Hee Yeon Kim's eyes; your heart'll brighten up when you see her crack a smile from the simplistic joys of life; you'll see her gaze harden up against the world to not get hurt again -- all through her transparent eyes of innocence. So obviously, the film rightfully focuses almost 90% of the camerawork on face-shots of these two children -- this is no exaggeration. The children may be in a setting where there's a lot of movement, people talking about important issues, and people working and fighting that is rightfully a life-changing element for these children, but the camera ceases to ease its focus off of these two children. And during all of this, we see symbolism left and right, neatly tying this in a neat package.

For these reasons, "Treeless Mountain" works wonderfully, but it all comes crashing down due to its extremely poor pacing and the lack of true interest throughout the course of the narrative. Don't get me wrong -- by the end of the movie, the narrative had a strong, rigid grip on me, but between the heartbreaking introduction and the ending, it was a sharp character study with EXTREMELY minimal advances in the storytelling department. There IS substance, but not enough plot elements to keep this movie engaging throughout. It's sort of like "Tree of Life": It captures many of the candid and unexpected moments of everyday childhood and so, handpicking out each individual scene doesn't help explain the narrative at ALL. But how the movie works is when the viewer looks at a single scene through the collection of knowledge accumulated by the viewer's observation of previous scenes which showcased these children's everyday behavior. It's clever and helps the viewers dig into the emotional turmoil of these hearts, but it results in an uninteresting, almost repetitive narrative. I'm not saying I want an explosion every two seconds -- I'm saying that some of these scenes involve these kids, at one moment, drawing something in their notebook, and the other moment, them hand-washing their clothing; it makes it a rather, somewhat, repetitive film. Also, there seems to be a lacking quality in this film that's apparently found in many other movies, but I can't seem to put my finger on it. What do I mean? It's a good movie, but with such a premise like this with such raw emotions spewing from its excellent cast, it could've been a masterpiece but there's a lacking in its execution -- I'm just not sure how to pinpoint it.

"Treeless Mountain" does a lot of things right, but it's perhaps too quiet, too simplistic, and too linear. With such an avid execution of children and their approaches to their struggles, there is surprisingly much more to be desired for. Maybe this film wasn't for me. Even as I type out this review, I see there are many more things to appreciate about "Treeless Mountain", but there needs to be a little more "oomph" in the package -- and I'm not just talking about the pacing; I'm talking about the entire film itself. "Treeless Mountain" is one of those movies where watching the movie is an okay experience, but afterwards, you're able to talk about it and remember it for days. Hey, 3 stars is good in my book and is still recommended a viewing, yet it's definitely an acquired taste.

The Adventures of Tintin

"Indiana Jones: Childhood Years". Almost an exact carbon copy of the Indiana Jones series. Everything down to the pacing, flow, structure of the narrative, and even the comic relief are ripped straight from the Indiana Jones series. But one major differing downfall to "The Adventures of Tintin" is the surprisingly slim focus on character development. However, there's such dynamic emotions conveyed by the characters through the raw power of motion capture technology and the great acting ability, that it delivers enough heart into it's somewhat rite storyline. All in all, it isn't enough to taint the experience -- we're delivered one of the most ingeniously choreographed and wildly entertaining action set-pieces to grace any animated movie. This is quite possibly one of the most entertaining children's movies I've seen, all thanks to Spielberg's keen direction.

Man, it's been a while Spielberg. After such a long hiatus from the director's chair (his last movie he's directed [that was actually good] was "Munich"), I was surprised how quickly I became familiar and found my niche with Spielberg's specific direction style. He hasn't lost his touch; in fact, "The Adventures of Tintin" more than proves that he's earned his reputation to be one of the most influential moviemakers of all time. The direction's top-notch; just when the hectic, frenetic action seems to overstay its want, the movie slows down. In other words, the pacing's pitch-perfect (except for the final scene).

Every scene is a spectacle due to the crisp cinematography, realistic animation due to the mo-cap technology, and the phenomenal acting performances. This is, by far, the best looking animated movie ever. The most minute facial twitches are captured through mo-cap and the results are compelling. So when this same superb quality of animation translates into the action scenes, one can't help but to be overwhelmingly astonished by the results. Let me tell you straight up: These action scenes are so immaculately choreographed that it rivals all of the action-blockbusters that are coming out nowadays. It's THAT good. The action's in-your-face, but not rambunctious; the action's over-the-top, but not sloppy... The action's absolutely riveting. There's one particular scene that sure stole the entire movie for everyone: it's a one-shot epic action set-piece that draws out for at least 3 minutes of non-stop, insane, and ferociously entertaining action. By the end of this scene, I couldn't help but to give an applause.

Through and through, "The Adventures of Tintin" is by far, one of the most entertaining films I've seen in a very long time. If the highest Hollywood blockbusters had a certain caliber to meet, "The Adventures of Tintin" would be it. There's a certain magic in all the action that many action movies fail to meet up to. In the end, this film convincingly helps us viewers remember the kid that once lived and wanted the MOST enjoyable movie of all time to come out again. Yeah, it's lacking a lot of heart and a thematic foundation, but this is one hell of a blockbuster.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Like one fellow Flixster reviewer said, "Bloody hell, Ritalin anyone?" That basically sums up what "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" is. Neon-hued numbers flashing up indicating points awarded, the words "THONK, BAM, BANG" popping up like a comic book, and "Anime"-like intense close-ups to the fighter's eyes is the name of the game here. You're gonna need to suspend all disbelief cause "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" isn't afraid to let it all loose, and it does so with wondrous results.

This is a flashy, fun, fast-paced, and quirky movie chock full of references to gaming. You ain't a gaming fan? You're not gonna enjoy this. Not digging the full immersion of a laid back nerd fest that's about flash, not class? Then you're not down for this movie. In an ironic way, I'm not one to embrace eccentrically bizarre movies like this one, but in a way, it worked. The plot takes a backseat, but in return, we get a thoroughly thought out and original style unlike any other movie out there. "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World". C'mon, just look at the title; its reminiscent to a plethora of fighter-game titles out there. That's what it basically is: A game fused with real life, morals, lessons, and events with full indicators of status bars, game points, and power-ups; it's ingeniously well-done. All the things we movie lovers have come to become familiar with regarding movies (like how love is denying oneself, getting through the past by dealing with it, and staying true to yourself) are all realized via video game achievements or failures. It's a film that's marinated in style, but truth be told, it isn't as fun as it should be. The pacing really takes a lot of oil to spark up in the beginning, acting could've been better, the script could've been much more dense, and attempts to inject comedy in the mix would, at the most, leave me at a slight chuckle, but nevertheless, "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" had a style that was too convincing and technically sound to deny. So much to respect here and though it was a great time, it wasn't AS entertaining as it should've been -- just a personal preference. In no way does this make "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" a bad movie -- in fact, it's great, but my admiration to this title leans more towards its embrace for the unusual and style, not its entertainment value.

Ironically, the plot itself suffers, but it shares the same narrative drive as many "Anime"-series' do: it isn't an innovative or endearing plot with intricate character development and virtuous plot turns, but it engages viewers through a testosterone build-up of stronger and stronger villains that the protagonist must face. C'mon, you weren't into Dragonball Z, Naruto, and Bleach for their deep and endearing narratives -- it was the action and characters. The movie is all about how Michael Cera, the title character, must fight through Ramona Flowers' 7 Exes in order to win her heart. And the more and more he treads upon this "dangerous road", the more tougher and evil these exes get. Pretty straight forward plot, but what makes it engaging is how the journey's filled with new power-ups, turns, and special powers that the villains carry. All in all, it's a testosterone pump-up of a movie that a no-namer must defeat unbelievably powerful enemies. Like I said -- it's an "Anime"-narrative-driven plot and it is the only driving quality of this otherwise rite and simplistic storyline.

Though this may seem like the loudest movie of 2010, it is innovative and infectiously engaging due to its luminous flair, that proudly shows off its love for the gaming culture. It's not a stupid movie either; gaming and movie fans will see these two mediums' cultural influences intricately intertwined in harmony which will naturally leave one dazzled. There's a lot to recognize here -- it's entertaining, but not as entertaining as it should be.

Green Lantern

With all the smack-talking-word-of-mouth I've been hearing from "Green Lantern", it surprisingly didn't live up to be such a big pile of crap. Though I absolutely agree that it was littered with problems, at the end of the day, "Green Lantern" has inventive and flashy action that is enough to entertain and a narrative that carries a presence of a well-rounded theme. Nevertheless, it isn't to say that the rest of the movie doesn't cohesively fit together; the ideas that were written out in paper is easy to spot and good-intentioned, but it isn't executed correctly. Everything gets pretty sloppy, but it's worth a watch

AVP - Alien Vs. Predator

Paul W.S. Mother Effing Anderson. Sick of the guy. He's the posterboy for rambunctiously stupid Hollywood movies that focus on "cool" action scenes and a completely disregarded plotline. Have you guys seen the Resident Evil movies? ...Freakin horrible. None of them have any merits of anything that is good about filmmaking other then the fact that it made it into theaters. Please Anderson... stop making movies. This is one of the worst movies to come out in this decade. Don't watch this garbage.

Independence Day

"Apocalypse 52: Alien Invasion" is what this movie should be called. Roland Emmerich's best movie, which isn't saying much cause he's done the same movie hundreds of times now, but this time, the world is getting destroyed by aliens. So cheesy, but its pretty entertaining nevertheless.

The Dukes of Hazzard

........Wait, this is a movie?

The Lost World - Jurassic Park
½

Some imaginative action sequences isn't enough to help save this disastrous sequel. The score is just as annoying and the narrative even more pale in comparison to its predecessor. At least the visual effects are off the chain.

Starship Troopers
½

The epitome of the cheesiest 90's action movie of all time. The entire tone, acting, style, and script was so cheesy that no gratuitous amount of blood, or "cool" looking action scene was able to redeem this junky movie.

Rocky Balboa
Rocky Balboa(2006)

Don't remember too much about it but other then the fact that:
a) The narrative was entertaining enough to be interested in the "big fight".
b) The relationship story that stirs up between Stallone and Geraldine Hughes is pretty uninteresting.
Nevertheless, it does what it does pretty well. Everything else was average.

The Day After Tomorrow
½

roland emmerich loves destroying the world. there's literally a scene where they're running away from the freezing point of temperature. uh huh...

The Descendants

A lotta family dramas like to dig deep into the scars and demons of all the sub-characters and chaotically sum all these problems through one solution. Not "The Descendants"; it properly focuses on the magnetic characters and the emotions during a season of grief and how it is resolved through a turmoil a family must face together. Let me tell ya, this film is built on a foundation of a magnificent script, skillful character development, and top-notch acting. Everything a great family drama should be, "The Descendants" does exceptionally well.

Though I thought George Clooney was a superb actor, I've always thought his acting could use a bit more variety. Always seemed to be a suave, cool guy who can carry himself through any struggle without a sweat, or he seemed to be a suave, cool guy who can carry himself through any struggle without a sweat. ...Proved me wrong; George Clooney effectively had me convinced that he was a struggling husband/father who had little authority over every aspect of his life -- so convincing where every time Clooney came on screen, you can read off his mannerisms, his dishevelment. The rest of the cast was convincing.

Totally taken by surprise by the amount of comedy injected into this film, and rightfully so; some of the dramatic scenes really take you by the gut. Worlds better than 50/50. I loved the tone of the movie; almost as if the luscious vegetation, the cathartic ocean, and the cool blue skies was trying to comfort and teach this family to be joyful despite the harsh circumstances. Everywhere you look, there's vibrant colors and settings and yet this family is going through the crap of their life. For a film with such raw emotions, it surprisingly has incredibly deep and good-hearted morals. At the end of the day, you see these characters are true human beings.

After a second viewing, I realize that "The Descendants" has breathtaking cinematography, but the camerawork, direction, and the editing is extremely standard -- maybe rightfully so. For such an excellent package, it hurts the overall irresistible attraction that it carried. But "The Descendants" is a mature and satisfying "dramedy" that hits all the right notes. Though the direction was much to be desired for, this was an effective drama that rises above the norm.

The Housemaid

*Sigh*, Koreans... they're just so twisted lol.

This may surprise you but "The Housemaid" is superbly made. Wow, the cinematography was absolutely gorgeous; excellent camerashots riddled all over this film. It's so sublime in fact that it leaves room for this movie to be identified as an art-house movie, but sadly, there isn't much to the movie except for eerie and surprising perversion, sickening revenge, and a twisted narrative.

It's funny because everything about the movie shouts "true filmmaking". Nevertheless, the narrative simply touches upon the characters' struggles and that's it. This movie isn't here to teach people not to do certain things and it isn't here to thematically stir audiences emotions; this movie is simply here to tell its narrative, which is much of the case for a profuse amount of Korean films, but ever more so with "The Housemaid". Once the credits roll, it seems nothing more than just a shallow but twisted movie that is easily forgotten except for its credible filmmaking craftsmanship.

So if its absolutely devoid of any substance aside from the production value, how is "The Housemaid"'s narrative? Is it entertaining? I guess so. It's gonna give you thrills, chills, and tension. It's also gonna give you strange goosebumps and surprises not because it's a great horror flick, but because of the audacious and extremely black raw sexuality that it throws viewers. C'mon now... it's almost like a cheap scare. Throw in some taboo-breaking content and you got yourself a shocking movie. That to me, is cheap. It draws you, but I was certainly squirming in my seat -- not cause I'm a pansy, but how deep "The Housemaid" chooses to let characters get sucked into a pitch black world of lies, deceit, hatred, and sexuality.

At the end of the day, "The Housemaid" is a stylish but extremely raw sexual movie. It's a movie about sex. That's about it. You think "Black Swan" was raw? LOL "The Housemaid" is stomping all over it, and its all its got: Mesmerizing cinematography and a taboo-shattering narrative. I ain't saying this is a bad movie but it's certainly not even close to what I would enjoy.

X-Men: First Class

By far, the best X-Men movie to come. The first 3 installments to the X-Men Franchise has always drew me away due to a bad screenplay, mediocre direction, amateur cinematography, and poor production value (except for Final Stand), but First Class surpasses in all of these elements.

Everything was tightly wound together. I was pleasantly surprised by the more gritty tone the movie had and how sharp the script was. Dare I say, this is the best Marvel movie to come, but not just because of the technicalities of a great movie but also because it breathed new and refreshing life into the characters we've come to know from previous installments. Honestly, it's pretty cool to see the Cuban Missile Crisis incorporated into a comic-book context, but unfortunately, these moments are pretty damn cheesy and the pacing drops considerably.

Babel
Babel(2006)

"Babel". Fitting title.

The narrative has many different story arcs involving many different characters in many different settings and eventually, these story arcs intersect one another to make a cohesive plotline, ala "Crash" except "Babel" is much more mature, stylized, and less preachy. Easily, the most interesting story arc is the one involving the deaf and insecure deaf Japanese girl, Chieko. Innovating plot developments and turns are the name of the game. It's what keeps "Babel" fresh throughout and what makes "Babel" a movie to experience.

Slumdog Millionaire
½

Danny Boyle did it again. With such a diverse filmography under his belt, "Slumdog Millionaire" seems like the most unique and unknown genre to focus on, yet Danny Boyle managed to wildly entertain with a lusciously vibrant and rich cinematography and some of the most unique techniques to utilize a camera.

The score, cinematography, editing, direction, and camerawork all are so innovative that they exude a personality out of the movie in its entirety. "Slumdog Millionare" wouldn't be the same without it. With all this praise over this movie, I haven't even touched upon its engaging narrative. "Slumdog Millionaire"'s storytelling is perfect. Can anyone find something wrong with its storytelling? It doesn't get much more entertaining than this. The only problem I have with this though is how the movie's focus IS to entertain; all the other aspects are not its priority, and this is a problem because there are so many issues addressed throughout the narrative.

"Slumdog Millionaire" is a must see. Though it isn't best picture material, this two person love story packs in the insurmountable tension of a game show, the engaging drama, the adventures of a slumdog, and the intangible magical qualities of destiny and love that comes together to make a focused epic film that is irresistibly entertaining.

Shanghai Knights
½

Same thing as "Shanghai Noon" except lacking considerable charm and comedic value.

Shanghai Noon

Though its been a while since I've seen it, it's simply a good time with typical "dodge-by-flipping-around-branches-and-through-tiny-windows.....punch" Jackie Chan action with another reckless guy that adds the comedy to the mix (Rush Hour anyone?)

No Country for Old Men

This is the Coen brother's masterpiece. "No Country for Old Men" is an extremely arresting and gripping shock-thriller that's surprisingly paired with art-house symbolism that rightfully makes this movie an extremely well-rounded and thoughtful movie.

On all levels, "No Country for Old Men" is outstanding. Cinematography is rightfully picture-perfect and marvelous. The cast all across the board are phenomenally superb. Javier Bardem -- easily surpasses the complexities and interest than Heath Ledger's Joker. YES I said it. And wow, the screenplay is extremely simplistic but richly innovative. And who could blame the direction? It's apparently obvious that there are disciplined and deft hands and minds that directed this masterpiece.

"No Country for Old Men" plays out much like a R-rated silent movie; viewers are expected to observe the settings and expect to make predictions on what the character's are thinking at the moment and seeing them played out afterwards. It's an incredibly immersive approach that truly sucks viewers in, whereas 95% of other movies nowadays must explain the character's actions through obviously blatant dialogue that is purposely placed there ONLY to fill in the audience's questions. It's truly unique and captivating to have such involvement with a film. For this alone, "No Country for Old Men" is a must watch.

Man, when the action racks up, its brimming with rich and dark tension that's extremely nerve-racking. It exudes tension. You're gonna be sitting there at the edge of your seat, frozen and waiting for the character's next move, all in the dark shadows of silence. This is something to behold: There's no music to be heard throughout the entire experience but yet the pacing is absolutely perfect. You're there at the scene of the crime. You won't look at thrillers the same way again. Easily one of the best scenes in cinema history is the gas station scene.

As you can probably tell, "No Country for Old Men" is a dark, silent, and mesmerizing movie. "There are no clean getaways". After watching this movie, that's for sure -- I ain't gonna see movies the same way again. "No Country for Old Men" is a masterpiece.

The Good, the Bad, and the Weird
½

A spaghetti western with Koreans?!?!? Hey, it works!

Frenetic action, marvelous set-pieces coupled with quirky humor, and some of the most creative camerawork to grace an action movie makes "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" an absolute marvel to watch. When the action dies down, the movie continues to offer a surprisingly entertaining, albeit simplistic narrative that involves all its characters to be singularly focused on one goal: the map. It works but it simply isn't as memorable as it should be -- especially the last action set-piece; it was surprisingly boring with really sloppy action compared to the rest of the spectacular ensemble set-pieces.

When all's said and done, "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" may have some stand-out camera-workings paired with some inventive and adrenaline-pumping in-your-face action, but it hardly manages to be a memorable movie.

American Beauty
½

First off, Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening are absolutely amazing. Cinematography is literally picture perfect and the direction was spot on. "American Beauty" is a hilarious, extremely intelligent movie with one of the most unique screenplays to grace cinema in the 90's. This is an absolute must watch for any movie-goer.

Daenseo-ui sunjeong (Innocent Steps)

Alright. If you're slightly familiar with the flow of how Korean dramas work, you know everything about this movie. Everything. Yeah. Ridiculously predictable.

It's not a spoiler to tell you guys that the girl and the guy start falling in love. It's not a spoiler to tell you guys that somehow they're gonna be separated and by some strange decision, one is gonna push the other away. And man, the climax of this movie's like a black hole; it's trying so hard to suck every single tiny little ounce of emotion out of the audience. I mean just look at it: Passionate crying out with tears flowing down their faces, a "vibrant" and emotional score that bangs out the instant they hug after all their trials, and the dialogue that's trying so hard to tug at our hearts and make us dream about what the loveliest thing our future wives/husbands would say at a time like this. Aww how sweet... I hope you guys understand that I'm being sarcastic.

The ONLY thing that works with this movie is how we begin to care about the girl and how effectively real her love is for this man. Thus, when a separation occurs between her and the dude, the viewers desperately wanna see them back together. That's all this movie is about -- it's about the build-up of the relationship then when it seems to be right at the peak, there's dissension and for some reason, they can't seem to get back together... Mind you, this is EVERY SINGLE KOREAN DRAMA PLOTLINE/NARRATIVE/STORYLINE, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't work. It toys with your emotions. But what "Innocent Steps" does is take the typical toying-with-your-heart-Korean-drama scenario and exaggerates everything up to the 100X SSJ5 8TH DEGREE level. Everything's exaggerated. "Innocent Steps" as a whole, is crafted so that every single scene that involves emotions must be brimming and overflowing like a super-lava-hot kettle with emotional rawness to the point where they expect their viewers to cry like babies. As you can expect, the target audience is for 5-14 year old girls. Annoying.

Hey, the drama works, but it doesn't mean that this is one hell of a cheesy movie. The cheese factor ramps up so high that I began to cringe at the amount of effort poured out into these emotional scenes.

Ironclad
Ironclad(2011)
½

Whether it comes down to the nasty gory scenes or the mediocre editing and cheesy narrative and dialogue, "Ironclad"'s an unkempt, sloppy movie.

The introduction is typical "Lord of the Rings"-esque bravado with narration over scroll-looking stationary illustrations that explain the backdrop of the setting, time, and political turmoil -- in other words, a lazy approach to fill audience members with the narrative quickly -- and what a shallow narrative it is. There's no effort given to develop a stirring, cohesive narrative. It's apparently clear that "Ironclad"'s geared toward the action, not the storytelling; almost the entire movie is tediously paced with no highlights to mention of, paired with a horrible screenplay. The script is so bland, lifeless and shallow -- they add nothing to the story other than to progress the events to a closure and to highlight its setting. It's transparently clear that "Ironclad" fails to deliver a story, period, but how about the action? It's excessively and uselessly violent that fails to entertain. "Ironclad" has an unattractive stench that overstays its want... not to mention, it's a 2 hour 38 minute borefest.

Overall, "Ironclad" is a monotonous, ignorant gore-fest that simply wants to chop limbs off for the sake of entertainment with really bland characters and a dull narrative. Wow... this was so boring, lifeless, and excruciatingly frustrating to see that movies like this are presented to the public to view for entertainment's sake. I'm surprised this isn't a straight-to-DVD or a made-for-TV movie. Horrible

The Ides of March

A gripping thriller that manages to deliver the goods through its didactic and sharp script coupled with an outstanding ensemble cast and disciplined direction. In terms of techniques, "Ides of March" seems to get nothing wrong. There's no explosions or outlandishly far-fetched narrative arcs -- simply a very deceptive and dark tale that unfolds out with an arresting narrative.

Immortals
Immortals(2011)

Immortals derives from the same visual style as 300 but ironically, the narrative is even more empty, emotionally dry, and stale than the Spartan outing... How is that even possible?

OOOOOHHH, COOL LOOKING SHOT! was the thought that ran through my mind once every 30 minutes throughout this 1 hour and 50 minute movie. And with the snippets of short-lived thrills Immortals offers, we're quickly reminded those thrills are very temporal once the movie makes any effort to do any type of storytelling -- whether it may be the simplest of dialogue describing the backdrop to the story, to the main protagonist's acting. It's funny -- I think this is the only movie I've seen where the highlight of the film consisted of only 10 seconds of the entire experience, but the rest being horrifyingly bad to the point where the storytelling is worse than 80% of baby picture books. In every aspect, Immortals fails. Acting ranges from average to horrendous except for Mickey Rourke (he's a beast), screenplay was corny, and frankly, it was just too boring. There's a love story that pops up out of NOWHERE. Yeah, there's a few glances here and there but there was NO inclination or hints that drew up a love story throughout the course of the narrative. How do I prove that this truth? Before we, as the viewers, understand that the protagonist and Freida Pinto are falling in love, there is not one SINGLE line of dialogue invested to develop this love relationship. None. Nope, not even one. So as you can imagine, I was just like, OH... PFF! There she goes throwing her clothes off out of nowhere -- didn't see that one coming! Was it really necessary to add nudity? It's like those I love boobies! braclets; you're not wearing those bracelets to actively invest money towards the cure to save those who are suffering under the awful detriments of breast cancer -- you're wearing it cause you think you're goofy and cool. Same here. It added nothing to the narrative other then making a bunch teenage boys across the nation hot in uncomfortable places. I feel bad for Freida Pinto; she deserves better.

Undoubtedly, Immortals was a horrible movie. It fails to be an entertaining action movie with a narrative so disastrous, it makes even some of the worst movies look good.

A Good Woman
A Good Woman(2006)

What a strange title... almost all the women pissed me off in this movie. I take that back; all the characters pissed me off. There is so much deceit, cheating, and dishonesty going about this plot that we, as the audience, don't know who to root for. There's a group that are the gossipers, Helen Hunt's the seductress, Scarlett Johansson wavers between loyalty and betrayal, and worst of all, Stephen Campbell Moore tries his hardest to break the bond of marriage to satiate his want to sleep with a hot girl. Yeah, you heard me; Campbell Moore says that he does it for the sake of "love" but I call it a booty call, and I make that assumption based on his annoying ass character's mannerisms and actions. What particularly annoyed me the most was how almost everyone within this movie was NOT genuine until the movie decides to wrap everything up with a happy, feel-good ending.

"A Good Woman" is put together sloppily with very generic techniques that add nothing to the subpar plot with some of the most annoying side characters I've seen in a very long time. This movie is not worth a watch.

Mother (Madeo)

Korean moms are hella paranoid and always filled with worry for their children... but this mom takes it to the SSJ-hardcore-to-the-max limit. I've been loving Korean movies recently... no, it's not cause I'm Korean. They're expertly structured, artistically vibrant, and extremely immersive. "Mother" continues to keep the Korean movie industry running smoothly. "Mother" staggers slightly due to the lack of a moral or thematic foundation and, contrary to more recent Korean films, slight pacing issues. Yet, these are just minor issues for an deftly crafted thriller with a multiple of riveting, suspenseful scenes.

All the actors play their roles superbly, the cinematography is unique, the editing has an unbelievable amount of precision, and the dialogue is simple yet smart. I'm gonna tell ya though, this is a violent movie that exudes a very eerie and disturbing tone. Haven't seen a movie like it. For a movie with a very linear plotline, "Mother" dishes in variety through unpredictability, enthralling "indie-like" scenes that add artistic value, and incredibly tense scenes. Yeah... Hollywood's missing out...

"Mother" exceeds on all levels and unlike many Korean movies, leaves viewers with something more then just a story -- it leaves an impression that won't be forgotten for a while.

Open Range
Open Range(2003)
½

Story: Super boring
Final shootout scene? One of the greatest western action set-pieces of all time. Watch for that scene and that scene alone.

Hugo
Hugo(2011)

"Hugo". A personal, heart-moved homage to the art of true cinema. The love for this art is palpable and the translation to show audiences this from Martin Scorsese is clearly perceived. A technical wonder. Its constructed with such finesse and control. "Hugo" won best cinematography for a reason; the cinematography was astounding supported by incredibly saturated and rich shots. It's an absolute marvel to watch these pitch-perfect shots. Yet the only thing that halts the movie back from being an incredible movie is the pacing and plot.

There isn't anything particularly wrong with the plot -- it just needed a little bit more of a "push". Surprisingly, "Hugo" has all the elements that would make an engrossing and deeply satisfying movie, but just as it is about to dig in deeper into the emotions, characters, and motivations, it stops and doesn't elaborate on it any longer. But the main issue was the pacing. For a children's movie with a rich thematic foundation, "Hugo" was surprisingly boring.

Made with a deep understanding and control over the themes and fine camerawork, "Hugo" is unfortunately crippled with sluggish pacing and not enough movie magic to demand entertainment attention.

Puss in Boots
½

A spin-off of a series that was only entertaining in its first outing. "Puss in Boots" has entertaining set-pieces but everything else falls apart.

This spin-off came to realization because of the mysteries and attraction that we as the audience have for this character of the "Shrek" movies... but yet, he is ridiculously uninteresting in this particular movie. He's a womanizer (James Bond) that wants to leave his awful past (almost every action bad-ass movie) where he has lived as an outlaw, wrongly accused (many many action movies). In the end, Puss, the protagonist, is a cliche with no charm. But it ain't about the characters, right? The plot, pacing, and the rest of the cast, were all mediocre at best. The comedy doesn't work too well for adults and whenever "Puss in Boots" goes for an emotional punch, its only at a surface level and doesn't try to dig deep like many Pixar movies do.

Overall, "Puss in Boots" may have the visuals and the production value to make a statement that says, "This is a great animated movie" but it all falls apart. Its sloppily put together, the pacing (whether in one scene or the entire movie) is poorly constructed, and the pop culture references that "Puss in Boots" has are all things children should not be learning at such an age. "Puss in Boots" doesn't carry the charm of an innocent children's movie but rather, carries the stench of a sloppy and boring movie.

Moneyball
Moneyball(2011)

"Moneyball". The best sports movie I've seen in a very, very long time. In a genre that's plateaued due to the reliance of cliche's, "Moneyball" tells the other side of professional baseball that is both emotionally involving and engaging. Slow-mo final pitch to end the game? Not found in "Moneyball". Cliche last timeout speech to draw the players' weak knees back to strength? Not found here. Yet in the end of the day, the movie carries the tension and satisfying freedom of joy many sports movies offer without being desperate to make audiences care.

The success in "Moneyball" comes down to its finesse and intricate screenplay. Very well written. This is the most multilayered role Brad Pitt has had in a long time. You see his battles with his internal struggles through simple yet effective facial jerks and expressions. You see frustration and joy in what he does. Brad Pitt proves, once again, that he has earned his stardom through his great acting performance.

"Moneyball" is a must watch. It may seem like a movie for only baseball enthusiasts but make no mistake, it is a highly engaging and entertaining movie for any person that enjoys drama.

The Artist
The Artist(2011)

An homage to a bygone genre that convincingly shows the audience why silent films are something that we are sorely missing in today's loud and clumsy movie industry. "The Artist" is truly a masterpiece.

A silent film in 2011?!?!... What a great time to come out in one of the worst years in movie history before the saturation of explosion-fest-Michael-Bay-blockbusters overwhelms the true films of Hollywood. Now many would probably come to the assumption that the removal of color and a dialogue free movie would seem like a gimmick or a pretentious movie that is daring to be known as "the best movie of all time". Nowhere are both sensed or seen. "The Artist"'s cinematography is absolutely beautiful. There are some gorgeous shots that though it is in black and white, are scenic breakthroughs. The cinematography and the camerawork is traditional in the sense of the silent film era's style but yet there are some outstandingly gorgeous shots.

And what else could we say about the two stars of the show? They're irresistibly candid and fun to watch. Of course with a silent movie, expressions and body language is its way of conveying emotions; those emotions are expressed with such sparkle by Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo. The chemistry between the two is palpable.

Especially in the 21st century, the majority of the audience members are not interested in silent films, but "The Artist" is so irresistibly entertaining that it convincingly shows the magic films have lost because of the genuine attention audiences must invest to the characters, the setting, the communication, and the keen eye to acting ability. After watching this, its got me convinced to watch old school silent films again lol. The only thing that I would have to say that was the gripe of this movie was the pacing towards the 3rd quarter of the movie; it started to lose the audience's attention but regains it quickly.

The movie isn't trying to be deep or pretentious; the simple plot and the chemistry are enough to invoke drama, comedy, happiness, and sadness. "The Artist" is not only artistic but it is a very wholesome, well-rounded film that is fun for the whole family. Yes, many would complain that it is too predictable. Really? A silent film has to be innovative in terms of its plot? Sorry, but silent films were always about the characters.

What an homage to the silent film era. "The Artist" pulls everything off spectacularly and manages to pull of its purpose -- to show the magic that is missing from many films nowadays and to once again reignite a desire to see and want silent films again. This is a masterpiece.

From Paris with Love
½

So much action, yet so little to take away from it. It's a very average movie that has over-the-top, loud, and in-your-face action that never stimulates your senses whatsoever. At least John Travolta was somewhat funny.

The lead character, James Reece who is played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, is the protagonist and his story is a story that we, somewhat, get invested into but it isn't something that we haven't seen from the past. There's an overload of over-the-top action that is so ridiculous but yet nothing stands out as a memorable set-piece. Everything, in the end, was for entertainment sake and did "From Paris With Love" succeed? Somewhat but it could've been much much better. Good thing that, with a movie like this that is blatantly trying to be over-the-top, the screenplay was good. John Travolta was funny for the most part... But did they really have to put in the Royale with cheese? My gosh. Just a gripe for me lol.

"From Paris With Love" is entertaining as a whole package but the audience leaves with no substance whatsoever. Its noisy and the action so was sloppily put together that, in the end, never stimulates our action-hunger needs.

Killer Elite
Killer Elite(2011)

oh no... another Jason Statham action movie... oh wait, there's Robert De freakin Niro and Clive Owen. Count me in. But "Killer Elite" is crippled with an awful screenplay and horrible actors standing next to these beasts.

The introduction trickles out with cheesy B-movie material: Horrible dialogue and cliches of a "serious and gritty" action movie... There were moments where one of the characters would utter a cringe-worthy line and it would lead me to roll my eyes and go, "...really?". But I was pleasantly surprised by how the action picks up. The action is entertaining and smartly executed. It isn't a "blow everything up in the place while Jason Statham walks scratchless" action movie. Yes, it tries to be a Bourne knock-off, but it pulls it off and its entertaining enough. It's a good action thriller that isn't loud and obnoxious. The action is executed at a frenetic pace that is engaging and thrilling. The same can't be said about the plot, dialogue, or the chemistry between the characters. At least De Niro and Owen pull off their roles well.

If you've been waiting for another movie with the same style and action as the Bourne series, here it is. Just don't expect it to be a well-rounded, excellent movie that is on the same caliber as the Bourne series.

50/50
50/50(2011)

"50/50" has almost the perfect blend of comedy and drama in one. The most recent movie I could think of that has tried to do the same was "Funny People" but "50/50" is much more simple in its theme and portrayal. Now I enjoyed this movie, but I just didn't find it particularly funny.

Everyone's been giving Joseph Gordon-Levitt much praise for his recent outings ("500 Days of Summer", "Inception") and you can see how he is developing more and more as an actor; however, I'm one of the few that doesn't think he's particularly GREAT as many say he is. Don't get me wrong, there is a pivotal scene in "50/50" that Joseph Gordon-Levitt pulls off magnificently but overall, he's a bit dry in his performances. His chemistry with Seth Rogen's character doesn't carry a tangible quality and his relationship with the actresses isn't very believable. But because of Gordon-Levitt's experience, it isn't a movie-breaker -- it's just those with a keen eye for solid acting may be let down by his performance.

But he isn't the real culprit for 50/50's lack of substance; its the screenplay. The dialogue is very minimal -- so minimal to the point where the audience can clearly see that certain plot elements aren't elaborated on because of the filmmaker's fear of an inadequate movie. This isn't to say that the movie sucks. When the audience sees the struggles Gordon-Levitt's character needs to face, they're invested and interested, but for most of the movie, they're not convinced of the characters' relationships.

There isn't much to say about the movie but the fact that it executes the story and drama in an entertaining way but not the dialogue. The comedic value has much to be desired for but it isn't enough to avoid this movie.

Office Space
Office Space(1999)

"Office Space" was hilarious. If you've never worked, you're not gonna enjoy "Office Space" because its completely reliant on the familiarity of work behavior. This is a witty, funny movie.

Jing wu ying xiong (Fist of Legend)

Man, this is by far, the best Jet Li movie I've seen.

Choreography is raw with very real but dazzling moves. Don't miss out on this if you're a martial arts fan.

The Chaser (Chugyeogja)

A classically made movie that is tense, captivating, and excellently paced. About every Korean movie that I've seen, I've dug the gritty, realistic, and riveting nature of the stories but always desired for more thematic or moralistic content and "The Chaser" is no different. The director takes us for a ride and he knows he is. What I especially admired about this movie was how there weren't any special mechanics, unique camera angles, or "indie-like scenes" that puzzle the mind; he lets the engrossing story do its work -- a classically made movie. The director's confident with the content that he has (Performances all around was superb, screenplay was engaging, and pacing was near-perfect). Extremely tense and frantic thriller that is sure to entertain; even the comic relief worked. On the contrary, there isn't much to it afterwards. "The Chaser" falls short from being a masterpiece... but that's many of the Korean movies that have been coming out nowadays. "The Chaser" is highly recommended. Adjusted the rating from 3 1/2 to 4 stars.

Bolt
Bolt(2008)
½

A fun and cute movie. Although this movie follows a very familiar formula, it's a lot of fun and feels fresh because of the quirky and live characters. The animation is great. An awesome movie for the kids but can keep the adults entertained as well.

What Dreams May Come

"What Dreams May Come" truly conveys a very dreamy and colorful world through its spectacular cinematography. The story gets you involved with the protagonist, but I couldn't help but find that it got confused in its vision. Too many differing views of "paradise" made "What Dreams May Come" a conflicting movie of itself. Also, 3rd act of the movie starts to fall apart with cheesy settings, redundancy, and a boring turn in terms of storytelling. Not only that, "What Dreams May Come" tries too hard to be emotional... some may say rightfully so because of the traumatic events that occurs in this movie, but the entire package tries way too hard to accentuate the drama. Still, it was entertaining; I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Contagion
Contagion(2011)
½

"Nothing spreads like fear"... that's right except the fear isn't conveyed to the audience in a way where the epidemic has a claustrophobic and isolating quality.

Don't get me wrong, "Contagion" is expertly crafted with didactic, sharp dialogue, an incredible ensemble, and stable direction. Kate Winslet? Matt Damon? Count me in... The story is absolutely compelling and engaging. The most realistic movie you're gonna face in terms of an epidemic. "Contagion" covers all spectrums of such a situation -- political, national security, depravity, the infected and non-infected. As the movie rolls on, it seamlessly swings its attention all over the place with a very steady-hand and level-headed approach. Unfortunately, the only time the gravity of the epidemic of it becoming an extermination of the human race is conveyed, is only when characters are uttering numbers and statistics of the atrocities or the audience's viewings of only a few of the key characters. Yes, of course we see depravity running its course through numerous unnamed and unknown characters but to witness the entirety of our world to be brought in humility through an exterminating virus without a great impact on emotion is a big gaping flaw. Call me heartless. I know there were plenty of key characters that were shown dealing with this virus, but as for the other millions of people that are affected? I'm not expecting a huge scale of people bowing down in tears and crying out to God, but I was expecting much more of a riveting impact on my senses and emotion. For some characters, like for instance the Emhoff family, there IS character development and emotions flying around... but on the other sectors of the story, not so much.

Otherwise, "Contagion" was a highly engaging thriller that fails deliver the weight of the fear and emotions of a possible apocalyptic disease throughout the entire movie.

Big
Big(1988)
½

After many years, this formula works wonders. Every turn it takes, it's entertaining. Not much more then that. Tom Hanks was fantastic.

Let the Right One In
½

Let me shoot this right off the bat: "Let the Right One In" is one impeccably well made movie. Spectacular. The best vampire movie to ever be made.

It's a much more methodically paced thriller that slowly but smartly eases tension that is to be found in only a few films nowadays. And when it gets tense, man, you're freezing up. "Let the Right One In" is masterfully directed; it does everything right -- whether it's the Stanley Kubrick-esque style of cinematography to the perfect pacing to the melancholy magic between the two main characters, this is what films are all about. The two lead characters deserve a standing ovation -- it's not only the tone that the movie gives off that accentuates the actors' performances or the great screenplay, but it simply comes down to the superb acting that makes their chemistry so unique.
There are some wildly outstanding scenes that deserve recognition for it rivals with masterpieces. I loved how the movie is grounded in realism and how though its premise is mysterious in the universe it's placed in, it doesn't reveal too much. It's focus is on the relationship.

As you can tell, I absolutely loved this movie. It is superb on every level -- technically and emotionally. "Let the Right One In" is an exceptional film that rightfully deserves the praise its been getting for everything within it is masterfully crafted to perfection.

Jet Li's Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) (Legend of a Fighter)
½

There's a lot of martial arts movies that come our way -- they could have dazzling fight sequences, long takes of great choreography, or even poor action sequences, but almost all of them have one thing in common: poor storytelling (except Ip Man 1 & 2). "Fearless" doesn't exactly manage to completely trump the martial arts epidemic, but it's better than most, coupled with great choreography that rivals with the few greats. The story is entertaining, not much more beyond that. Near the end, it begins to hit the cheesiness line. However, the action sequences has incredible camerawork and editing that makes it incredibly gripping. You'll have a great time with "Fearless".

Ponyo
Ponyo(2009)

For American animated movies, the forefront of this genre is obviously Pixar. The studio manages to attract children and adults with its great storytelling, gorgeous and fluid animation, and memorable characters... Hayao Miyazaki is arguably on the same caliber as Pixar.

If "Ponyo" were a well of imagination, it would be shooting up water all over the place. It's overflowing with very diverse, strange, and unique imaginative settings, effects, and characters. See, the thing about Pixar is how they take stories that have occurred to adults and place them upon cute animals, children, or children-friendly protagonists. The journey these characters take are tweaked to appeal to children but "Ponyo"... wow, everything is created from the imaginative vision and mind of a child.
There's creepy imagery and strange concepts going on, but "Ponyo" is entertaining throughout. The transition from the Japanese voice actors to the American? Almost flawless. Great move to get professional A-list actors to substitute for the original voice actors -- I wouldn't even know if the Japanese version or American is better. The only problem I had with this movie is that though it is visually spectacular, it could've been MORE entertaining but other then that, "Ponyo" is one of those animated movies that any child and adult will willingly invest their attention to.

The Smurfs
The Smurfs(2011)
½

Why did I watch this movie? "Smurfity-smurf-smurf-smurf".... Wow, the word smurf was probably used about 200 times. The smurfs themselves? FREAKIN annoyin. Who would like these blue things? Character development? None? The villain? Equivalent in terms of cheesiness, acting, and gayness as that of any Power Rangers villain. The live action actors? ...........actually, they were pretty good LOL.
Other then that, I haven't seen a movie this nauseating and annoyingly frustrating in a very long time. Too many pop-culture references that are not children-friendly or good spirited. Plus, THEY SAY SMURF TOO MANY DAMN TIMES -- "Where the Smurf are we?" "Smurfette, I think I smurfed your smurfing mom last smurfing night with my smurfilicious smurf." sthu! Every single scene was so geared towards 3-D that the movie becomes a roller-coaster ride.
Not a good movie for children or for adults. Hell, it's not for anybody. Really really boring too. Not recommended by any means.

Cowboys & Aliens
½

"Snakes on a Plane", "Blood and Chocolate"........ "Cowboys & Aliens".
What's up with these horrible titles? Not only does this movie have a horrible title, but a horrible premise as well. I get it & even Jon Favreau said it himself -- he wants to merge two different genres that are entertaining into one... but isn't the Western genre and sci-fi contradict each other? I onno, but anyways, despite all the cringing preconceived thoughts about the movie, "Cowboys & Aliens" surprised me with its short but engaging introduction. I've always liked Daniel Craig; he carries a subtle but extremely effective quality that is behind his performance and does the same here. But after the intro, everything falls apart. Action is all over the place in terms of structure, and the plot's engaging quality is all banked on "mystery" which is revealed about 40 minutes in. It's an average movie though the moral that lies underneath all the action and absurdity is pure and quite a treat when discovered.

The Tree of Life

"wat"
I get it; it's an artistic movie that gives viewers an experience of emotions, not provocative storytelling. Then again, "The Tree of Life" leans so much towards trying to be artistic that the movie is difficult to watch. "Oh, you're just like all the mindless, ADHD Americans that need an explosion every 5 seconds, huh?" No. If I'm gonna hafta watch a movie and then say, "Oh shoot, this is a movie that I need to focus and surgically pick out the symbolism behind every knick knack," then it ruins the experience. What I'm trying to say is that every movie needs a balance. "The Tree of Life" is bloated with art -- skimp on plot...

What I will say that is great about the movie is how pure and focused it is in its message, theme, and tone. And though if one were to handpick out one scene, it may seem directionless and airy, the film knows what it is trying to do. Visuals are fantastic and Malick's approach to address and express huge components to human existence/life is extravagantly simple yet unlike any other movie.

But for someone that loves artistic movies and edgy visuals, "The Tree of Life" was an absolute bore that brought no sort of fulfillment of substance to either be entertained, entranced, or moved by. It's not my type of movie. Don't hate -- I know there are going to be those much smarter and sensitive to be thrusted into its beauty and atmosphere but it's definitely not gonna be the average movie goer.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

"Crazy, Stupid, Love". Crap, another rom-com? Yup. The avant-garde of rom-com's in 2011, which is one of the crappiest years from recent memory. "Crazy, Stupid, Love" staggers in its opening; its not convincingly funny or dramatic, but it begins to get better and better and by the end, you are pleasantly satisfied by the full package. The premise and dialogue may consist of a comedy, but it isn't much of a humorous movie; it's dramatic, painful, and throws emotions all around the place and it's all convincing because of the bonafide acting by the entire cast. As the movie's plot twists and turns, the story can be absolutely absurd; nevertheless, the movie maintains a mature and "weight-y" view on incessant need for relationships. Throughout the entire movie, I was glued to the screen, wanting to see more and witness how some of these characters evolve and surpass their struggles. Never could this have been a good movie without a superb cast and "Crazy, Stupid, Love" delivers. The editing and the overall tone add unto the movie's maturity and package.

However, there was one glaring problem that wouldn't shake out of my head -- it was the method Cal & Emily (Steve Carrel & Julianne Moore) dealt with their divorce and what type of innate teaching that method conveyed towards their children. Now you're probably thinking, "K... that's just how the movie is." As one who is a child of divorced parents, the movie implicates that the children themselves are not affected by their parents' separation which is absolutely false. It is a very confusing for a child to witness heartbreak. It doesn't fit the overall tone and though the movie was not trying to address such issues, it was overlooked and could possibly desensitize viewers of their views on the consequences of children with divorced parents.

Other then that, it was a very entertaining movie throughout. Pacing was pitch perfect for a rom-com; we all know, that's super difficult to do.

Disney's A Christmas Carol
½

"A Christmas Carol". When I was little, I remember watching the rehash of the classic story, Muppets style. Wow, freaking hated it. For someone that doesn't follow up with traditional stories very well, "A Christmas Carol" was a surprising and delightful view on the Christian faith through secular eyes. This ain't a movie for kids; I'd be scared to death by some of these scenes if I were young. The animation: Top-notch. The script: Sharp and fitting. It's not the overall package that had me convinced -- it was the message behind the movie. Good and entertaining time, but just don't think kids will enjoy this for its dialogue and character-driven.

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen
½

IP MAN THRE.... Wait. What the hell? Chinese superhero? He's got the same costume as the dude from "Green Hornet".

"Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen" sucked. Straight up. Here are some positives: great production value, great sets and costumes, and for a little bit, great cinematography and camera work. I like Donnie Yen; he was great in both Ip Man's but there was no way that his flashy fighting moves could overcome all the shortcomings of this movie.

The plot was ridiculously uninteresting not because of the content itself -- it was simply slapped in. Just a bunch of dialogue that had absolutely no heart or character development behind it. Many are probably thinking, "This is a kung-fu movie. What do you expect?" Well then, I guess they didn't know what they were trying to make the movie then; its excessive but gritty violence and portrayal of the story calls for an effective drama, then we get super cheesy shots of a Chinese superhero standing ontop of a clock tower. Not to mention, the action was a bore (except for the opening war scene). What I found particularly annoying was how abrupt every scene was in conveying the emotions it wanted to instill upon the audience. What I mean by this is that most movies have a flow to build character development, relationships, a sense of accomplishment or loss. "Legend of the Fist" rushes through it and it completely breaks the flow (the thought of becoming a superhero is never elaborated on and he literally jumps into a suit, the relationship he builds with some girl is never truly built, and the ending scenes after the events of the climax is literally a 10 second scene that breezes by with no intent of being "open for interpretation" or giving a sense of ending). They'll do that with the ending scene but then show about 10 minutes of some Chinese girl singing a song on stage. Wow. Really?

Loads and loads of problems with this movie. Do not watch it. On all levels it sucked.

Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction(1994)

"Pulp Fiction". What an insanely entertaining, witty, and outstanding film. You're not gonna watch any movie like it. It's brimming, dare I say, overflowing with style, personality, and colorfully vibrant stars. First off, the dialogue is written so creatively that the characters could be talking about absolutely anything and the audience would still be engaged and glued to the screen. "Pulp Fiction" takes the audience through all its dark and violent moments and even the bright and seemingly mundane moments and still manages to entertain. "Pulp Fiction" is a masterful picture that has been brought together to bring one of the greatest films of all time.

Kill Bill: Volume 1
½

Quentin Tarantino. A masterful artist that created "Kill Bill Vol. 1" to be a pitch-perfect spectacle. The entire picture flows so smoothly. This is what cinema is all about. The pacing is great until the very end; I found the ending fight scene to be a bit tacky but other then that, almost everything about this movie is perfect.

Faster
Faster(2010)
½

What the hell was this? Dwayne Johnson A.K.A "The Rock" has been one of the few successful entertainer-turned-actor; I jumped into this movie anticipating an electrifying performance by D. Johnson despite a lacking plot. As it pans out, "Faster" lacks in every way, shape, and form. Direction, editing, and cinematography is poor, and the storytelling and screenplay is horrendous. They even tried to put in the worst plot twist ever. What was with all the subplots? It never adds up in the end. You're never invested with its boring subplots but ever more so, it never finalizes in the end. Dwayne Johnson always has a charisma that pops out of the screen but his one-dimensional character chained him down from doing more. Gosh... this movie sucked.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)
½

J.J. Abrams. He's got the skill. I loved the 3rd installment of the Mission: Impossible series and though I was one of the few that disliked his adaptation of "Star Trek", I couldn't help but find that J.J. Abrams directed it, superbly. Most blockbuster movies nowadays are always lacking in some aspect. With "Super 8", I pleasantly entertained and impressed with the entire package. The direction, editing, special effects, acting (especially the acting), cinematography, and screenplay -- all done great. "Super 8" unfortunately, begins to fall apart near the end. It's simply pacing issues. The movie can't hold itself up till the last moments. That's not to say that this is a bad movie. It was very entertaining. You're sure to have a good time.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1
½

I have never read ANY of the Harry Potter books nor have I seen any other Harry Potter book so for me to jump into the series on its near finale is a big smack in the face of all those following this series religiously. But I couldn't help but find that "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" was expertly crafted. I can't recall an adaptation that has been created with so much production value and skill. The cinematography, acting, and pacing (even though I didn't know what the hell was going on) was spot on. A great movie. I'm sure it must've been even greater for those who have been following the series till now.

Searching for Bobby Fischer
½

Thank God for Netflix Instant Stream. This is a movie that flew under the radar for a very long time and, to a good surprise, it was a great movie. You're probably thinking, "A movie bout chess was good?" lol - yes. All the performances, though not very unique, were very solid especially the main protagonist. Wow, one of the best performances I've seen from a child actor, ever. "Searching for Bobby Fischer" is a great family movie with very pure and child-like goals; with Hollywood ridden with gritty, gory, and sex orientated themes and images, "Searching for Bobby Fischer" reminds audiences confidently, what we must protect and treasure the most - the heart.

Cars 2
Cars 2(2011)
½

Haters gon hate. Some claim that "Cars 2" is the black sheep of Pixar and while I agree to some degree, that statement is too strong in itself. The visuals are absolutely dazzling to watch. It was created picture perfect with great direction. Incredibly enjoyable. However, compared to many Pixar previous iterations, the heart, emotion, and themes were very light. The storytelling, though better than most animated movies, was lacking contrary to Pixar's movies. Nevertheless, Cars 2 was very entertaining.

Dinner for Schmucks

"Dinner for Schmucks" takes a crap all over your idea of absurd and brings it to a whole 'nother level. It's ruthless, frustrating, and not very funny. Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell back in a movie together? Sounds great. But what the movie delivers is an average script that never goes beyond usual chuckles. The characters? Way, way, way too over-the-top that questions audiences whether the characters are mentally-ill or mentally challenged. Way too much slapstick that would only entertain those 11 years old and younger. In the end, the movie is tightly wound together to bring a cohesive movie but not a very cohesive comedy. I'm not gonna lie; there were some hilarious lines here and there, but not enough to completely ground "Dinner for Schmucks" as a comedy.

Battle: Los Angeles
½

SHABLOOIEEE! BLAMMMMM MICHAEL BAYBOOM EXPLOSIONSSSSS! It's well shot but definitely felt restricted. Action was kinda entertaining and the CGI was lacking. The dialogue equivalent with that of many Call of Duty games. Way too long.

Limitless
Limitless(2011)
½

"Limitless"... the premise has limitless possibilities but takes very uninteresting turns. Little to no character development; when there's a hint of it about to pop up, the movie smothers it with its ridiculous solutions that no longer become about the character but about a substance. The script was lacking. One second, it leaves viewers out in the dark with its "elaborate" dialogue that consists of financial business but the next second, it becomes very elementary and downright cheesy. Bradley Cooper has talent - I'll give him that but the rest of the cast (except for the once again poorly casted, Robert De Niro) was not convincing at all. Hated the beginning, hated the ending, and just when it seems like "Limitless" has hope, it never manages to grow.

Paranormal Activity 2

"Paranormal Activity 2" effectively utilizes repetitive routine to let the audience's guard down then manages to surprise with shocking scenes. You're not gonna find good acting here but what works is the shock value. A good time.

Being John Malkovich

Freakin weird movie. John Malkovich is always entertaining to watch and the movie has some very original plot elements but there are some big pacing issues. Nevertheless, "Being John Malkovich" is worth watching.

Salt
Salt(2010)

"Then you are a Russian spy". So cheesy. Hated all the dialogue in this movie. "Salt" so desperately wants to be like the Bourne series but falls flat. Chiwetel Ejiofor... I've had enough of your stale acting. The plot? Exudes cheesiness and an unbearable personality. I know many agree but are merciful because of the great action scenes. Sorry, I didn't see any great action scenes; there were some nice shots... but other then that, this movie was a bore, annoying, and SUPER cheesy.

Old School
Old School(2003)

There are some movies that try to be raunchy without the substance to convince audiences that the characters are genuinely raunchy (I'm looking at most of the iterations of the National Lampoon's movies). "Old School" delivers it. Though there were only a few laughs in there, it was entertaining for what it was; plus, this is one of the few roles where Will Farrell doesn't try too hard to be outlandishly crazy.

Captain America: The First Avenger
½

Captain Cheeseball. If you dig the retro-esque stuff, you'll love Captain America. I just couldn't help but predict the ending to many of the scenes in this movie. There have been talks about the great relationship Captain America has with Agent Carter but I felt it wasn't fleshed out correctly and uninteresting. And the villain? Horribly weak and uninspired. Most of the dialogue was, "20%, 30%... the vita-rays will blah blah blah..." I found this movie boring.

Step Up 3
Step Up 3(2010)
½

America's Best Dance Crew: The Movie. What're you gonna expect? This movie is straight up made from cheese, the camera work was equivalent to TV soap opera camera work (except for the dance scenes), and the acting & dialogue was cringe inducing. But what works with "Step Up 3D" is the homage to all different dancing styles (from hip-hop to musicals) and the excellent choreography in the dancing scenes. This is one of those movies where you wanna fast forward through the movie till you hit a dance scene.

Rio
Rio(2011)
½

"Rio" takes the simple cliche' of all the other cartoon movies without the believability behind it. You've all seen it: "Protagonist is thrusted into an environment he's not used to and is forced to tag along with a girl that is the complete opposite of himself but then they begin to develop a relationship. Just when the relationship is gonna blossom, they end up in a fight, but once her life is in grave danger, he hits an epiphany that she is the love of her life so he musters up courage to go back to get her. They reunite after the villain's death and they live happily ever after." It's an entertaining formula, no doubt, but "Rio" tries too hard to follow that formula but you don't see the actual chemistry develop. The main characters fall in love when there doesn't seem to be something stirring up, these birds befriend the protagonist for no apparent reason, and the relationships do not seem genuine. But I'll had "Rio" this: the visuals was absolutely stunning... wow -- super colorful and vibrant. It was an entertaining movie and the comedy really works not only for the kids but for the adult's as well. "Rio" was a good time but follows the formula for the formula's sake, not for the character's sake.

The Fighter
The Fighter(2010)
½

"The Fighter" is a harrowing story about a very dysfunctional family; it seems like the only one that thinks correctly within that family is the main character, played by Mark Wahlberg, Micky Ward, but it isn't the story about Micky Ward that we are invested in. Don't get me wrong, the story is about Micky Ward but his story is not as captivating as his brother's, Dicky Ward. What a performance by Christian Bale. It wasn't Mark Wahlberg's lack of a true convincing performance that he wasn't able to make his character relatable -- I am led to believe that that is the character that he was playing as. Incredibly entertaining. The cinematography in certain portions of the movie was gorgeous. I appreciated the "ESPN-esque" viewing we have of the fights that witness. One of the biggest problems I've had about this movie is how there isn't a lot of substance passed the dramatic plot. "The Fighter"'s a great movie, but doesn't do anything inventive or surprising.

I Saw the Devil
½

"I Saw The Devil" was incredibly well made. Breathtaking cinematography that comes with extremely believable performances. The story was interesting and took me along the ride but one of my biggest things that turned me away was the incredible amount of gore and sexuality. It doesn't have gore that is over-the-top like "Hostel" but the idea behind the violence almost hits the taboo limit. It is definitely an entertaining and thrilling movie but it is not a movie that I would imagine watching again.

Hanna
Hanna(2011)

"Hanna" is a much more methodically slower paced but meticulously detailed film. The tension that the story built up, crept up on me throughout the film. By the end, "Hanna" succeeded to get me involved and propelled me through the exciting action sequences with the help of an engrossing score. Saoirse Ronan as the title character was marvelous; she was captivating in every scene. To say "Hanna" is a uniquely stylized movie is an understatement. Its reminiscent to the German movie, "Run Lola Run". The visuals grasp your attention and has very vibrant colors. "Hanna"'s not a movie for everyone; it is different from many thrillers but the subtly that "Hanna" carries makes this film one of my favorites of 2011. Really enjoyed this movie. Loved it.

The Adjustment Bureau

"The Adjustment Bureau" has been advertised largely to be a sci-fi, thrilling movie but at the core, it is a romance -- an exceptionally entertaining one. Because this movie is a romance, chemistry and great performances is a must but there's no need to worry -- Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are absolutely captivating on-screen. The little phrases that the two throw around at each other really carry an excitement and interest for the other party. The acting is marvelous; the chemistry was almost palpable. I was surprised by how well written the screenplay was. A romantic movie requires 2 qualities that make it excel: Sharp writing and great acting and "The Adjustment Bureau"'s got it. The romance is the main meat of the story but the sci-fi elements are there just enough to intellectually stimulate the audience members -- a perfect balance of emotion and thought. An incredible movie. Only problem I had with it was that the sci-fi premise that it had as a backdrop, became a bit overwhelming at times. Other then that, it was a great movie.

The International

Clive Owen's one of the few actors that have caught me off guard through his performances in "Inside Man", "Children of Men", and "Sin City" and his performance in "The International" delivers, but what a horribly convoluted screenplay. "The International" suffers from a narrow, one-dimensional plot with no heart, at all. As you can imagine, this movie is super forgettable for characters go from point A to point B with no mention of any sort of motivation. Don't get me wrong -- cinematography is cutting edge and the action set-pieces are engaging but there is absolutely no substance.

1408
1408(2007)

I had an interesting experience that may seem like it tainted the experience of watching this: (I was in the theater with my friends and this group to the right was obnoxiously flashing flashlights and talking loudly. One audience member decided to take action and grab a security guard. When he went out, the group decided to split up in order to make the audience member's efforts more difficult. As the security guard came in, he shouted, "Where are they?" The entire audience was pointing to where they were. As one of them was being escorted out, he said something indistinct; one of the audience members yelled out, "Shut up, fatboyyyyyyy!" LOL. Thought it'd be funny to share). Now onto the review: If you're expecting a horror movie, you'll be considerably disappointed. It almost seems like there's a shift from being a horror movie to a survival movie. You're probably thinking, "Well, aren't all horror movies?" Yes, that's true but this guy is trying to survive through earth's elements... yeah, you heard me. I just found this movie to be a bore.

Rango
Rango(2011)

Visuals are possibly the best I've seen from an animated movie. Unfortunately, Rango suffers from a very uninteresting character, plot, and setting. Doesn't bring enough to make it a very enjoyable experience.

The Departed
The Departed(2006)
½

"The Departed" is brimming with style. First off, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson are incredible; they're extraordinary -- possible Leonardo's best performance. Though it isn't Martin Scorsese's greatest film, it is masterfully directed coupled with great dialogue. The pacing is great and the score was immersive. A must watch.

True Lies
True Lies(1994)
½

Though it holds many cliche's, "True Lies" entertainingly embraces the B action-movie tone of the 90's. It's a lot of fun; the action is in your face. "True Lies" knows what it wants to be: stupid, entertaining, and cheesy and it does it excellently.

Harsh Times
Harsh Times(2006)

I was excited to watch Harsh Times cause 1) They had Christian Bale 2) Gritty crime drama Wow.. this movie was crap. The plot was one of the most dull plots to have ever existed; it starts to take off literally in the last 30 minutes. Poorly directed, edited, and shot. The screenplay had no content whatsoever. Christian Bale pulls off a very committed performance but literally everything else fails.

The Boondock Saints

One of the most overrated movies of all time. Horribly shot that so desperately wants to have a Tarantino feel without the wit and entertainment. Acting = horrible. Action? Non-existent. Cinematography was ugly as hell. Screenplay was horrendous.

Reservoir Dogs
½

Reservoir Dogs is incredibly engrossing. The screenplay was well written (not as well as Pulp Fiction) but there seemed to be something lacking from this movie: The characters weren't as uniquely diverse like Pulp Fiction but man, this movie is riveting, entertaining, and very well made. A must see

Wanted
Wanted(2008)

Another mindless summer blockbuster that wasn't able to convince me of its style. For the majority of blockbuster action movies, they either, a) Embrace mindless stupidity b) Make a character driven adventure story that has insane action set-pieces. Wanted tries to go with option b but fails to draw the audience. The direction and editing tries to build its own style but sacrifices technical excellence for it; its detracting. Dialogue was awful, acting was mediocre, and the action, though fun at times, is lacking.

Danny the Dog

"Unleashed" is definitely Jet Li's best English film. Man, are there some pretty awkward moments in this. The follow up to most of the fight scenes is very drab and very rarely does the drama actually have an impact, but the action fight sequences are incredibly satisfying. I liked the gritty cinematography also. Only one thing: why was there nudity in this movie? It was so unnecessary.

Mission: Impossible III

The best of the 3 Mission: Impossible's (I loved the first, despised the second). Enough action, tension, and heart to make this an incredibly engaging popcorn flick.

Rush Hour
Rush Hour(1998)
½

Good, clean fun. Compared to most of Jackie Chan's projects, the choreography in his fight scenes are very limited but the comedic factor and the engaging story keep this action movie from being a failure. Yes, "Rush Hour" is crippled with bad production value, amateur direction, and boring editing, but it's nothing more or less than a fun and funny action movie.

I, Robot
I, Robot(2004)

What bothered me about "I, Robot" was how pretentious it was to have Will Smith as the main character. The humor didn't flow smoothly but the action set-pieces is entertaining. Will Smith is great like always but "I, Robot" is one forgettable movie.

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2(2004)

This movie is raved to be the best of the Spider-Man series, but I beg to differ. It just wasn't as interesting as the first one...

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3(2007)
½

Never liked the Spider-Man series all too much but this movie tops it off. There are some striking and visually stunning action scenes, but the problems drag this movie down.

Eraser
Eraser(1996)
½

Here's a cool scene: A crocodile is about to eat up Arnold as he scrambles away and pulls out a pistol and shoots it dead. The camera cuts to a close-up shot in his face as he says, "You're luggage." LOL There were some scenes that were entertaining to watch which makes this movie worth watching.

Armageddon
Armageddon(1998)

The only good scene in this movie is when Michael Bay destroys NYC but afterwards comes horrible dialogue, horrible acting, awful cinematography, and simply a boring story. It's funny cause this isn't even Michael Bay's worst movie

Assault on Precinct 13
½

what the hell was this? the editing/cinematography/direction was awful. plus, why did those assault rifles sound like exaggerated nail guns? i really did want to like this movie. cool premise that calls for a fun action or even a great thriller, but it failed in every way possible.

Rounders
Rounders(1998)
½

can't help but to enjoy this movie. I absolutely loved john malkovich's role in the movie. plus, this movie didn't have ridiculous monster hands like the ones in casino royale. nothing more but just an enjoyable movie. I highly recommend it

Terminator 3 - Rise of the Machines
½

Although many people bash this movie all the more so than the crap, straight-to-dvd-quality Terminator Salvation, this movie kept the Terminator atmosphere in place, sort of. The villain, although stronger than the 2nd, wasn't as menacing and frightening as the T-1000. There are a bunch of small gripes (And I mean a bunch) that end up making this movie a much worse movie that the first 2 Terminators, but at least it ain't Terminator Gayvation.

Casino Royale

What a great reboot of a dying franchise... especially after "Die Another Day". This was a fun flick. Daniel Craig has a natural talent in acting. One of the gripes about this movie is the score. I never enjoyed the upbeat "classical" feel of the 007's... this reboot is grittier and much more hands-on than the other 007's so how come they kept the same music? I'm just nitpickin'...... and the poker scenes were just ridiculous, and still a bit too cheesy. Great movie nonetheless.

Inside Man
Inside Man(2006)

I understand that I am alone in this, but I still stand by my opinion. I was not engaged in this heist thriller. Did not enjoy the score. Loved the cinematography and the acting, but the plot failed to impress and draw me in.

Mission: Impossible 2

what the hell was this? Mission Impossible 1 was great. This movie was crapped on by John Woo, the asian-Michael Bay. Stupid. Long-haired Tom Cruise. Exploding glasses going towards the camera. Headshots while spinning on a motorcycle. Dumb.

One Hour Photo
½

Plastic-y feel to the movie which fits the mood of the movie. Incredible performance by Robin Williams. A movie that disturbs and crawls under your skin. Something not done too well in many films these days. Cinematography is picture perfect... something you would expect in a movie about a one-hour photo guy. Great movie.

Meet the Parents
½

Uses very quiet like performances with hilarious outcomes. A different comedy that stands out amongst the toilet-slapstick-fart-joke movies that are coming out nowadays.

I Love You, Man

Hilarious. Meet-the-Parents-like movie.

Cast Away
Cast Away(2000)

Slow, quiet, but effective survival movie. I also praise this movie by how the movie turns away from the typical Hollywood ending with a theme that truly drives this movie to be a one-of-a-kind.

Defiance
Defiance(2009)

I wanted to love this movie. The plot, the actors, the setting, all seemed to be the perfect setup for a gripping and dramatic film. Edward Zwick directed this movie and he tends to take sensitive topics and throw in blockbuster action scenes. It almost gave the movie an artificial feeling. Not only that, the follow-up to the ending was dreadfully simplistic with very weak character development. There is one scene noteworthy that really brings out Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber's acting performance, other than that, this movie lacks.

Gran Torino
Gran Torino(2009)
½

Clint Eastwood is incredible. I love the way he has always shot his movies and the pacing... but wow, all the other actors are horrendous. They seem like they were hired from amateur acting groups. It really detracted the audience from the realism and the drama of the movie.

Quantum of Solace
½

Definitely worse than it's predecessor, Casino Royale, this movie lacks in all of its aspects except for the action. There is a scene that really bothered me because of the fact that it was completely ripped off of the excellent Bourne Ultimatum... but it is so well shot and entertaining that you can't help but to be entertained. This movie was engaging. I'm always gonna despise the Bond movie score.

Ocean's Thirteen
½

Extremely entertaining. You can see that the actors are having a great time on the set, with a few inside jokes within the movie. This movie has vibrant and colorful cinematography that really captures the atmosphere of Las Vegas.

Sunshine
Sunshine(2007)

The follow-up to the ending makes it one of the best films ever. The pacing, the smart script, and the enthralling plot truly makes this movie a sci-fi movie that stands out of the pact... but the ending descends the movie tremendously. Still, the movie is a must watch.

Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko(2001)

A lot of people praise this "underrated" movie, but the way I see it, it is way too confusing for even the most observant people. I looked up the meaning behind everything through multiple forums, and I saw that it was way too overcomplicated for a movie to portray some sort of interesting idea. The follow-up to the ending is dreadfully meaningless at times and boring. Please stop praising this movie when you don't understand what the movie means.

The Incredible Hulk
½

The only thing that made up for this movie and it's boring action scenes was the chemistry between Edward Norton and Liv Tyler. That relationship in itself was more interesting than the whole Hulk aspect.

Ronin
Ronin(1998)

A fun B-movie with one of the best car scene chases ever. Plot is lacking... but Robert De Niro is in it... He lifts this movie up. I loved the overall feel of this movie

RocknRolla
RocknRolla(2008)
½

Loved the cinematography and Guy Ritchie's quirky but excellent direction. A lot of fun.

The Descent
The Descent(2006)
½

Claustrophobic, chilling, and brutal... this movie is one of the few that truly stands out as a great horror movie. Really well done. Cannot recommend it enough. Watch it!

Quarantine
Quarantine(2008)
½

This movie is only good if you have your sound system cranked up with dim lights. Watched it in the movie theaters and scared the crap out of me... watch it at home, not so much. But still, it's a B-movie. Too bad they spoil the ending. I'll leave it up to you to figure out how.

Run Lola Run
Run Lola Run(1999)

Really interesting pacing. A lot of fun and interesting cinematography. Loved it.

GoodFellas
GoodFellas(1990)
½

One of the best mobster/crime movies of all time. Joe Pesci is phenomenal. Robert De Niro is incredible as always. Everything is meticulously detailed. Incredible movie.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
½

Definitely the worst of the Indiana Jones "quadrilogy"... Disappointing

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

This is the definition of a good blockbuster flick.

Collateral
Collateral(2004)

Super underrated film. In my opinion, Tom Cruise's best performance. Dialogue could use a lot of work and there was pretty bad editing. Tom Cruise carries this movie. Great and engaging character development. The cinematography is definitely worth mentioning. Great crime movie.

The Kingdom
The Kingdom(2007)
½

An empty movie with a message that delivers with nothing backing it up except for one shocking scene. However, the action scenes in this movie are top-notch.

Torque
Torque(2004)

WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS? this was one retarded movie. trash. this is one of those movies that you would see in a CVS pharmacy 1 dollar dvds basket on the way bottom.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
½

Let me get this out of the way, I've hated every single Transformers movie. The franchise has built its identity through the spectacular visuals and action it has. Dark of the Moon is not much different; literally, everything is shot and planned to be a treat for the eyes. Doesn't sound bad but when the movie has a horrible screenplay, bad pacing, sourly unappealing humor, and a no-namer casted just for her looks, it destroys the movie. I've gotta admit: The action is intense and well shot; Michael Bay has always had a good eye for action (cause he's been doing it his whole damn life). Even looking at this movie from strictly a B-movie standpoint, it fails to deliver entertainment throughout the movie. What I will say though is that Dark of the Moon is the best of the 3. The action is much easier to follow and is much more entertaining. Plus, it isn't as forgettable as Revenge of the Fallen.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Tranformers: Revenge of the Fallen.... I've had so many arguments with countless people about how this movie is not a good movie. First off, the action may be entertaining but it is extremely forgettable. No emotional attachment, no good dialogue, no content... period. Megan Fox is not there for the merits of good acting but simply eye candy. The two twin robots are borderline racist. The comedy was inappropriate and not funny. There was word (this is true btw) that Shia LaBeouf and Michael Bay (Gay) himself have said that this movie was awful. The script was written in 3 weeks... This movie was garbage.

Children of Men
½

"Children of Men" has breathtaking cinematography; the camerawork is reminiscent to "Saving Private Ryan" and the attention to detail reveals how colorful - though it is a world coming to its end - the world is. This is an incredible tense-filled thriller. This movie may not answer many of the questions it brings up but the direction the movie goes is not for the sake of concept. This is an incredible movie.

District 9
District 9(2009)
½

This movie is a must watch. It's an incredibly captivating story of a man that is shaken outside of his comfort zone to collide into the harsh realities of a political oppression going on between the human race and the alien race. I've gotta say, this movie had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Watched it at a midnight showing, watched it again. The character development of this movie, though focused on only one character, is incredibly engaging. You'll hate this person, you'll love this person, you'll disagree and root him on. The acting, cinematography, the score, the direction, the CGI, the editing, all exquisitely done to bring a great popcorn adventure that addresses a popular issue, that has been repeatedly done, in a different form. An excellent movie.

The Bourne Ultimatum
½

Compared to all the Bourne entries, Ultimatum is by far, the most exciting and tightly executed of them all. There seems to be non-stop action but it is simply because of the tight and strong editing, direction, and camerawork by Paul Greengrass. The action never seems to let go but it isn't what many imagine the "action" to be. Ultimatum is a super smart, exhilarating, and entertaining action movie that sets the bar for spy thrillers. This is a must see. One of the greatest action movies of all time.

Watchmen
Watchmen(2009)
½

Gritty, smart script, and interesting plot, this movie may seem like a classic in the making, but there are incredibly problematic pacing issues. Everything that is praised about this movie is because of the original graphic novel; the movie was almost identical with the book, but with such a faithful adaptation comes pacing issues as well. The cinematography was breathtaking though.

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War

Let's be real; Saving Private Ryan is a better movie then Tae Guk Gi. This is movie tries too hard to be exactly like Saving Private Ryan- the action, the cinematography, the camera work... But behind all the technicalities comes a very moving and powerful character-driven story that is more riveting then Saving Private Ryan. In comparison to the incredibly gritty "Saving Private Ryan", Tae Guk Gi is more of a blockbuster movie that has more stylized action and drama. Still, this is a must watch.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno
½

An average comedy that follows through due to the great performances by Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. There are some laugh-out-loud, hilarious scenes due to sharp dialogue. What drew me off was the excessive nudity (No duh, it's a movie about porn), but the movie works best when it focuses on the chemistry between Seth Rogen's and Elizabeth Banks' characters (and the hilarious Craig Robinson). I enjoyed it.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

A very entertaining B-movie about a wimp ape that goes gangster. Entertaining with great looking CGI.

The 6th Day
The 6th Day(2000)

LOL, must I say how bad this movie is? I remember my mom told me that Koreans were thinking this would be "Terminator 3".... nope. Terminator 3 was better than this garbage. This is the literal tagline to the movie: "You've cloned the wrong man." LOL HAHAHAHA This is a quote from the movie: Evil dude: "You think cloning's evil?!" Arnold Schwarzenegger: "No, I think you're evil." LOL This movie is a comedy, unintentionally.

The Pursuit of Happyness

-Spoiler alert- "The Pursuit of HappYness" is an okay movie. Will Smith's performance is, of course, great. The direction is what you'd expect. However, my main gripe about this movie is how it hits audiences over the head over and over with how horrible Will Smith's life is. There is very little that audiences can capture from Will Smith's struggles until he is finally liberated. So basically, the story outline goes: "Here comes crap. His life sucks----- still sucks--- oh look, its sucking even more---- man, look at how crappy his life is-----" and then once the end comes, it just happens. That's it. There is an inkling of a moral that audiences can capture but it is not emphasized. The Pianist falls under the same flaw.

Resident Evil
½

Omg, this movie was crap. Absolutely horrible acting, dialogue, cinematography, direction, editing... EVERYTHING. This was so boring. I was a fan of the game... nothing like the game. The action scenes, though there were enough to make an action movie, absolutely was horrendous. Not even a horror movie. Sucked; do not watch it.

Beowulf
Beowulf(2007)
½

It's been a while since I've seen this but if I could recall what happened, I remember that this movie had incredible CGI and a good cast. But that was about it; the movie was incredibly boring. It brought new light to the classic story though.

I Am Legend
I Am Legend(2007)

How did I forget to review this movie? When the movie gets tense, man, does it get tense. Will Smith was incredibly captivating and his performance alone is so well done that it ALMOST overtakes the bad of this movie. I Am Legend has absolutely horrible character development, an incredibly bad ending, and horrible CGI. In the end, instead of thinking to yourself, "Oh my gosh, how is Will Smith gonna get out of this?" you think, "Damn... that's a lot of vampire dudes." That shows me that this movie has a weak narrative.

13 Assassins
13 Assassins(2011)
½

"13 Assassins" is an exhilarating, gritty, Samurai movie that soaks you into the culture and setting. I absolutely loved the cinematography. Also, I loved the first half of the movie; though it is hard to keep up with the names and characters because of the language barrier, it runs you through the planning and process of what the 13 assassins must endure through to bring justice. The action scenes however, do not have the choreography nor the realism to bring an exciting action movie. What comes after the first half is an overly extended fight scene that lasts about 30-40 minutes long that is not captivating enough to bring excitement and drama. Plus, the story can't seem to manage to have a central key character that brings audiences to have the emotional attachment to relate with. Other than that, I would recommend this movie- it's a good time, but could've been better.

Source Code
Source Code(2011)

"Source Code" is a very enjoyable movie that takes its turns in creative directions. This movie encourages the audience to ponder about what the next situation will turn out. Great and entertaining movie. Simply a popcorn thriller.

Tangled
Tangled(2010)

It seems like every single animated movie is going through the familiar, no-risk plotlines nowadays, but Tangled does it with genuinely funny events and memorable characters. Enjoyed it.

The Man From Nowhere

The first half has the grittiness and the typical yet engaging plot of a Korean gangster flick, but the second half completely falls apart. Not to mention, the movie follows all the cliches of a Korean gangster and drama movie. Also, the action scenes are deliberately taken from the Bourne series. Entertaining but very disappointing.

Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster
½

The predecessor, "Ip Man", carried a genuinely interesting plot, characters; Ip Man 2 fails to have the same dramatic impact as the first one had but still manages to entertain.

Ip Man
Ip Man(2010)

An actual martial arts film that had drama that worked. It didn't rely on good choreography in order to make the movie entertaining; the character-driven plot was enough to keep me engaged.

A Serious Man

Another Coen brother's movie that is very entertaining. The movie feels very fresh in its approach towards a different type of comedy that is dark and unique. I enjoyed this incredibly well directed, written, and acted movie.

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)
½

An amazing movie with quality acting from James Franco. However, I had many quirks about the film's approach to the film's style in showing the psyche of James Franco's character, Aron Ralston. A great movie though.

True Grit
True Grit(2010)

Loved the script, the editing, and cinematography. Seriously, this movie is perfectly made in terms of technicalities. And what about Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross. Wow, extremely surprising that she did not win for best actress. Nevertheless, "True Grit" was an extremely entertaining movie.

Batman Begins

The character development/theme/plot all mended together so well. In my opinion, better than iron man. Great movie.

The Lookout
The Lookout(2007)
½

An engaging thriller. Nothing more, nothing less. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's acting is not bad, however it is not convincing to truly believe that his character is suffering through the disability that he is. Direction could've been better as well, but overall, a good movie.

Kung Fu Panda 2

The comedy did not work for me 90% of the time. I understand that it's a kid's movie, but Pixar manages to please the adults and the children. The action was not memorable (see Tranformers 2 and you'll see what I mean). However, despite all this, the message and theme of the movie hits home. The emotions from this movie is powerful; the way the movie manages to pull off the message in a powerful way is something that not many movies can do.

Buried
Buried(2010)

What an incredibly gripping movie. The tension is so palpable. The trait that stands out the most about this movie is how real the emotions truly are. Many movies try too hard to be depressing, tense in order to make the audience have sympathy for whatever motive; however, this movie creates true emotion that brings sympathy, pain, and hope. Not many movies do that correctly but "Buried" does. The cinematography, the camera work is absolutely brilliant even though it is within such an enclosed space. Ryan Reynolds gives his best performance. This is a must watch.

A Prophet (Un prophete)

The first 30 minutes is so marvelously orchestrated. The rest of the movie doesn't capture the same tension but it is still an incredibly rich and engaging movie. Gritty, riveting, and powerful, you'll be thinking about this movie, weeks after watching it.

Thor
Thor(2011)
½

An incredibly entertaining movie. This movie expertly captivates audiences in the character development of Thor. Action is lacking any sort of entertainment value, 80% of the shots that are done in this movie have this "tilt" to the camera that makes one wanna tilt their head so that they can see clearly, and much of the things that works in this movie has been taken from much better superhero movies, but one cannot deny that this is an entertaining movie that teaches good themes.

Risky Business

An entertaining and interesting movie; nothing more to be said. The movie will keep you entertained even though the movie delves into dark and troubling themes. One thing to be mentioned is the score; it fits perfectly within every scene. The editing could've been sharper but I give it the benefit of the doubt for it is an older movie. Acting is great.

The Road
The Road(2009)

A gritty, depressing look into a post-apocalyptic world. Sounds like an interesting approach to an apocalyptic setting but unfortunately, the pacing suffers. The pacing is never redeemed. Viggo Mortensen, as always, captures the screen but with little to no dialogue, the performance can be magnetic but not enough to create an interesting story.

The American
The American(2010)

A cinematic marvel. There are some picture-perfect, gorgeous shots but the movie suffers because its plot is cliche' and makes no effort to deviate to make an identity of its own. Not only that, there is little to no dialogue, not for the sake of immersing ourselves into the characters -- the approach is simply done for the sake of art. I wanted to love this movie, but there is way too little substance within "The American" to even call it a movie.

Requiem for a Dream
½

This movie is intense. Be prepared before watching this movie. This movie is so meticulously well put together that I have to give this movie the credit it deserves. I can't emphasize enough how well this movie was directed. Down to the pacing and the camera work, this movie is driven to shock audiences... but i ain't watching this movie again. I'm not planning to eff with the mood of my day.

Transporter 2

JASONSTATHAMDRIVES80MPH,FLIPSHISCARINTHEAIRWHILEHITTINGTHEBOMBATTACHEDTOHISCARTOBLOWUPINSMITHERINES. yup, that's the movie

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

incredibly deep character study. loved the ending. not a very typical blockbuster western movie. i loved the cinematography and style. unfortunately, lacking technicalities, pacing issues, and a restricted freedom to delve into its interesting theme prevent "3:10 to Yuma" to be a masterpiece. But yes, it's that good. i highly recommend watching this incredible movie.

Windtalkers
Windtalkers(2002)
½

worst WWII movie ever. Plus, the setting of WWII was already broken once Nicolas Cage came onscreen.

Cloverfield
Cloverfield(2008)
½

Crank up the sound, dim the lights, and be immersed in this tense, riveting, and stark vision of a Godzilla-like invasion through the eyes of its victims. Greatly enjoyed it (I wasn't the few that got dizzy from its shaky camera work). The CGI was stunning.

Equilibrium
Equilibrium(2002)
½

Action's cool for like the first 5 minutes. The production value is obviously much more slimmer then its counterpart "The Matrix" and has much less interesting plot with little to no character development. Cinematography is ugly as well.

Jurassic Park
½

CGI still amazing to this day. I'm just gettin sick of the score Steven Spielberg keeps using... the screechy, violin kinda music.

Taking Lives
Taking Lives(2004)

Angelina Jolie strips for like no reason. horrible movie.

Sin City
Sin City(2005)
½

The visuals is stark and beautiful. Told in a very comic booky kind of way, "Sin City" kinda fails in storytelling but is visually dazzling.

Black Hawk Down

Overrated to the max. A movie that has action throughout the entire movie with no characterization to be found. When soldiers are hurt, they're simply bodies that bleed blood and then near the end they try to make the audience sympathize with one soldier who is captured... really? Now you try after an hour and thirty minutes? The movie fails on every level except for the cinematography and action.

300
300(2007)
½

A testosterone pump-up of a movie. The visuals is dazzling and the action entertaining. Too bad the story qualities and characterization is slim. It tries to be nothing more then a violent action movie for kicks. The classic 300 Spartans story is there for the sake of a plot backdrop and a place to ignite action... nothing more.

Déjà Vu
Déjà Vu(2006)
½

Innovative action with a plotline that doesn't know how to explain itself. Denzel's great as usual.

Live Free or Die Hard
½

Over-the-top action with our favorite action hero, John McClane. It's been dumbed down to a lower Parental Guidance rating to attract more viewers but the action is even more intense. An entertaining movie but has one of the worst plotlines within the entire Die Hard franchise.

Fast Five
Fast Five(2011)

"Fast Five" is the best Fast & Furious out of the entire franchise... but that really isn't saying much. Honestly, you're gonna hafta sit through one of the cheesiest screenplays, mediocre acting (I'm looking at you Paul Walker), and terrible pacing to get to the meat of the movie: action. And I've gotta say, the last action scene is pretty crazy. The editing, the cinematography, and the adrenaline of the final action scene is incredibly well done. Ironically, the movie needs to shut its mouth and needs to throw more action scenes like the finale and it'll be less cheesier and more entertaining.

Miami Vice
Miami Vice(2006)

Action: Realistic and engaging (except for the last gunfight where some fool shoots under a car... you'll see why). Plot: Absolutely horrible with one of the worst chemistries put into film (between Colin Farrell and some asian chick). It could've been great, but there were way too many problems with this highly stylized but lacking movie.

The Italian Job

A heist movie that is highly entertaining with fun performances throughout. A good time.

Spider-Man
Spider-Man(2002)
½

Possibly the first super-hero movie to have a rags-to-riches story that was actually engaging. Unfortunately, its style wasn't my thing; I hated the cheesiness.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
½

One of the greatest action movies of all time and a personal favorite. Everything about this movie works. For its time, the CGI was groundbreaking. Imaginative action set-pieces compiled with a true, one of a kind villain with a one-of-a-kind plot. Though at its heart, "Terminator 2" is an action movie, audiences are sure to be emotionally involved with the characters like no other Terminator movie.... just please stop making more Terminators. Terminator Gayvation sucked, Terminator 3 sucked. No more, please. Let's leave the first two masterful Terminators alone.

The Prestige
The Prestige(2006)

This revenge thriller twists and turns through different points-of-views, time, and setting and manages to keep the audience engaged and shocked throughout. Great performances by both Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. "The Prestige"'ll surprise you, entertain you, and shock you. A great time.

Training Day
Training Day(2001)
½

Denzel's performance is absolutely riveting. Every scene he's in, he's got the audience captivated. The East-LA, gritty gang setting is revealing and shocking but the movie suffers from poor production value, poor cinematography & camera work, and little substance. This movie is extremely forgettable; what isn't forgettable? Denzel Washington's performance. Yup, he's that good. He carries the entire movie.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
½

Good balance of raunchiness and romance. Funny but it wasn't as funny as I'd like it to be. Still a good time to sit back and relax.

Rush Hour 2
Rush Hour 2(2001)

Ahh, the classic sequel-syndrome. "Rush Hour 2" was not as good as the first. It doesn't improve in the action, story, or comedy but it tries too hard to be more grand. The production values is upped a bit but the direction, editing, and camera shots are still too elementary. Still a fun time though.

Kung Fu Hustle
½

I seem to be the only one that did not enjoy this movie. I found the comedy to be way too elementary. I ended up not laughing too much. (It's been a while since I've watched this movie so bear with me).

Final Destination 2

Hey, I still enjoyed it. The premise was still fresh and creepy.

Dodgeball - A True Underdog Story

I don't remember much about it but I remember thinking
A) It's trying way too hard to be funny
B) Too much slapstick humor
C) Most of the time, it wasn't my type of humor

Alice in Wonderland
½

Trippy as hell. Comes to show how twisted Disney's minds can be. I wasn't interested throughout CUZ I DON'T SMOKE BRO

Air Force One

GETOFFMYPLANE. A good time at the movies.

[Rec]
[Rec](2007)
½

I'm gonna give [Rec] more credit then the american counterpart, "Quarantine". Though they're carbon copies, [Rec]'s acting is far more superior. Turn off the lights, crank the sound up, and be prepared to jump. I was exhausted after watching this.

The Crazies
The Crazies(2010)
½

"THAT SHI CRAY." That was my response after watching "The Crazies". The crazies in the movie are CRAY. It's not the usual mindless zombies that we're used to; these guys are smart, use tools, communicate, and set traps. As you can imagine, you don't wanna run into these guys. There's one scene in particular that works on every level that a horror movie should (Car wash scene). Exquisitely shot and riveting. You will be tense in a number of scenes. Unfortunately, the rest seems like a big ball of mash that seems sloppily put together.

Over the Hedge
½

OVUH THE HEDGEEEEE! A pretty entertaining movie but nowhere near the caliber of any Pixar movie or Dreamworks' greater efforts.

2 Fast 2 Furious
½

paul walker. that's my review. 2 1/2 stars

Brothers
Brothers(2009)

An incredibly well-acted movie. Toby Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Jake Gyllenhaal were all terrific. They took a cheesy, weak screenplay and made it believable and interesting. However, the movie suffers from overly simplistic pacing, cliche plot, and a lack of depth in the plot. Once again, great acting. It is good to note that though this movie has many many flaws, there is character development that genuinely gets us invested.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)
½

Dare I give this movie a worse rating than Tranformers? Yes. An incredibly weak script and cringe-worthy lines that tried too hard to be funny. This movie was not funny, not entertaining, nor was it relatable. The gore and the raw language did not fit with this disjointed and uninspired piece of crap.

Transformers
Transformers(2007)
½

Oh man... another Michael Gay movie. Guess what it has? Explosions, helicopters flying, slow motion of eye candy (whether it may be the transformers or the useless Megan Fox herself). What a bore. The action was forgettable and the characters are uninspired.

Shutter Island
½

A lot of people have flak against this movie for its predictable ending. However, the movie is much more than it seems much like the plot is. If looked into deeply, it is a much more satisfying experience. Leonardo DiCaprio is great as usual. Martin Scorsese's direction is excellently done.

Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2(1999)
½

Far better than Toy Story 1 & 3, this movie seems to do everything right.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

A great entry to the Toy Story franchise

Knocked Up
Knocked Up(2007)

What an entertaining movie! Great dialogue. The best comedy Judd Apatow has directed.

Raging Bull
Raging Bull(1980)
½

An incredible movie. Martin Scorsese creates a character that seems cold and heartless, but relatable at the same time. A great movie with flawless acting from Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci.

Heat
Heat(1995)

I have always loved Michael Mann's detail to firefights in all of his movies; not only is that backing up this entertaining movie but Robert De Niro and Al Pacino carry every scene. Unfortunately, Michael Mann has always struggled to create a convincing character developing story, especially with female roles. The love interests and the relationships are uninteresting and uninspired. Other than that, This is a very entertaining movie.

Fargo
Fargo(1996)

Fargo is absolutely incredible. Every scene is captured with so many layers and layers of emotion and wit. A must watch.

The Fountain
The Fountain(2006)
½

"wat"

That was my response after the movie ended. But I couldn't help but to be mesmerized by the incredible cinematography. But wow, the plot is extremely confusing. This movie is definitely alike with Donnie Darko, but this movie is more engaging with its follow-up to the ending.

Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver(1976)

An absolute captivating movie. "Taxi Driver" is an incredibly complex, dark, psychological character study of a mentally unstable man. Robert De Niro is the character. He is absolutely mesmerizing and entertaining to watch on screen. This is filmmaking at its finest. For those that have not seen it, I highly recommend watching an old but great movie. Don't let its age scare you away; this is Martin Scorsese's masterpiece.

Up
Up(2009)

A sweet and character-driven movie. It has the comedy and the visuals to draw kids in, but has the emotional depth to keep adults entertained and emotionally connected and challenged.

The Hurt Locker

First off, I give Kathryn Bigelow a standing ovation for outstanding direction. A phenomenal achievement. This movie is created perfectly; the editing, the cinematography... Kathryn Bigelow brings us into the tense and dangerous environment of these characters. You can grasp the tension that this movie throws at you. HOWEVER, I do not agree this deserves best picture or best screenplay. The dialogue is awful. And though this movie was directed to a perfection, the plot was not engaging enough. When there were action scenes, the audience would be in that exact situation, panting and sweating just like the characters, but when the plot advanced, there was a disconnection due to many different factors. Overall, I highly recommend this great but flawed movie.

Burn After Reading

I love the Coen Brothers. This movie was outlandishly and wildly funny. It isn't the type of humor Hollywood is used to... it's a humor that plays throughout the entire movie. Note that this movie is definitely not for everyone for there are many that did not agree that this movie was funny, but for me, it was hilarious. You cannot doubt this cast either. George Clooney, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand and one cannot deny the incredible talent from the Coen Brothers. They directed this movie to a perfection. If I could try and find the type of humor that "Burn After Reading" is going for is the TV show "King of the Hill". Now I don't find this TV show hilariously funny, the humor plays out throughout the entire plotline, not from punch lines (though there are some punch lines). Note that this movie has some pretty dark humor. Other than that, relax and have a good time with this flick :)

There Will Be Blood

2 words (or 3?). Daniel-Day Lewis. What a performance. You are not going to see acting like this in a long time. If compared to any other actor in Hollywood at this time, no one would match up to his performance. Daniel-Day Lewis is THAT good in this movie. Many will stray from this seemingly, anti-climactic movie but this movie is impeccably made. The direction: phenomenal. Cinematography: Absolutely gorgeous. This is a film! An absolute must watch. This is a masterpiece.

Oldboy
Oldboy(2005)
½

What an incredibly disturbing but impeccably well-made masterpiece. Min-sik Choi, who plays as Oh Dae-su, the main character, was absolutely mesmerizing. Because this movie is a South-Korean movie, the plot unravels in a way that is very unfamiliar to American audiences. Everything is so well crafted but the real winner of this movie is the plot. A must watch... but it is absolutely not a movie for those who are under 17.

How to Train Your Dragon
½

Dreamworks is starting to learn from Pixar. To watch a relationship slowly being created between Hiccup and the dragon was extremely entertaining. However, the humor and the dialogue in this movie was borderline awful. Still a lot of fun

Green Zone
Green Zone(2010)
½

Let's get this out of the way: The plot of this movie was way too simplistic and ridiculous. However, Paul Greengrass always seems to drive kinetic, fast-paced, tense action throughout the entire movie. I was very, very entertained.

Zombieland
Zombieland(2009)

This movie completely surprised me. A lot of fun.

Revolutionary Road

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio's performances are better than the movie itself. The movie is problematic, but these are one of the two greatest actors at their most emotional and rawest moment. I would say that the cinematography is picture-perfect.

Minority Report

Don't judge this movie by its cover; its an intelligent, complex, and imaginative movie that presents a challenging question to audiences that continue to stir up debates. Its an incredible sci-fi movie, it has imaginative action, it has great dialogue, and it actually has a reason to place the plot into the future! All this is wrapped up in a neat package that has been meticulously detailed out to bring us a great movie. A must watch.

State of Play
½

"State of Play". A very similar movie to this is "Body of Lies"... it also stars Russell Crowe! They are very similar like this: "State of Play" was engaging and brings the audience through the plot. We become interested in what will happen... but there is almost 0 character development. We are uninterested in what happens to the characters. Don't get me wrong, this movie was a fun time... but what else could we say? "State of Play" does not stick in our minds and the plot doesn't carry enough emotional weight for it to be an issue that we would stress over in real life. I liked it, but didn't love this movie.

Where the Wild Things Are
½

Wow, "Where the Wild Things Are" accurately depicts the emotions and the thoughts that run through an angry boy in his early ages. The portrayal of such a neglected role in cinema shoots this movie high in my list. The cinematography and the CGI are huge pluses; they create the atmosphere of this movie. Even the most silent moments of this movie create deep emotional stir within the audience. This movie works effectively. There are cons however. The plot of the movie seems to point towards nowhere and the story's interest dips near the middle, but other than that, it is a great movie.

Funny People
Funny People(2009)
½

As always for all Judd Apatow movies, the screenplay is hilariously funny and witty. Many will say that this is Apatow's darker movie and is low on the amount of laughs, but within it is a non-Hollywood approach to portray and thoughtful and important message. I enjoyed this movie and some jokes hit the spot. I recommend watching this movie!

Public Enemies

I watched this movie at a midnight showing. I was extremely excited for this movie. It all seemed great: Michael Mann, the director of Heat is directing this movie... Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in a gangster movie! OMG COUNT ME IN! However, we were left with a very faithful adaptation to John Dillinger, one of the greatest criminals during the 1930's that was messily mashed together. The locales this film takes place on are sometimes the EXACT locations where they have occurred and others where reconstructed to look exactly like it, but the editing, the direction, and the cinematography were AWFUL. I do not say this about a lot of movies but the editing sometimes got horrendous (Note that I went to watch this movie twice). In one particular scene, there were tommy guns being shot off in front of the camera, but suddenly, Johnny Depp screeches about 4x louder than the gunshots, "GET IN THE CAR!" If it was intentional, this must be an amateur. The film also uses a digital HD camera that create incredibly rich and gorgeous shots.... only when the camera is still. Michael Mann goes for a "shaky cam" feel and it absolutely does not work with this camera. I honestly love the shaky cam (Cloverfield, Bourne series, etc.) but it did not add unto the movie's effect. With the technical sides out of the way, I would have to say that "Public Enemies" suffers a lot in terms of its storytelling. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale played their roles, but the audience was NOT emotionally invested... and this is a problem I frequently see from Michael Mann's movies. The characters on screen never seem to be human and so tension never truly builds up. This is not the actors' faults (He did get some of the greatest actors on screen like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise) but it is the screenplay that suffers. Some of the dialogue were god-awful. I would say the only redeeming factors of this movie are: Some scenes with Christian Bale, the shootout scenes (exquisitely done), and some still camera shots were gorgeous. That's about it. You want good Michael Mann movies? Collateral, Heat, and The Insider are those movies... Unfortunately, this is not it.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)

A riveting, shocking, and great movie. In the past, Natalie Portman grabbed some attention from her previous movies (V for Vendetta, Brothers) but her performance in Black Swan beyond anything she's ever done before. She is outstanding. The direction, cinematography, and editing seems to be in the same style as Darren Arronofsky's previous movie, The Wrestler, but it definitely fits with the theme and the message of the movie. This movie is gritty and artful movie. Black Swan is one of the best of 2010 but a bit of a warning: It is definitely not for everyone and the movie is extremely graphic.

Kill Bill: Volume 2
½

Regrettably, "Vol. 2" is Tarantino's most pretentious movie he's made. It's not to say that the movie sucks, but there's a certain tone that carries throughout the movie that's unattractive. I've gotta say, the action scenes are really well choreographed though.

Man on Fire
Man on Fire(2004)
½

Sporadic and over-the-top editing is "Man On Fire"'s protruding feature that makes it stand out from the rest of familiar movies of this type of genre. Do I needa add anything we know about Denzel? He's a beast. End of story.

The first half of "Man on Fire" is simply dedicated to the character development between Denzel's character, Creasy, and Pita, played by Dakota Fanning. Regrettably, it doesn't pan out to be much of a palpable or interesting story arc, but once the action picks up, it's entertaining. Not much more, not much less. There's unique ways to Tony Scott decides to subtitle certain lines, even when its spoken in english. It's stylish and creates a certain artistic style for the movie. The same goes with the editing style. By the time the movie ends, we just kinda go, "Okay, I guess that was the ending." In terms of the narrative, it's obvious there is a solid conclusion, but there isn't a satisfaction of a well-rounded movie. Nevertheless, it's entertaining.

Ocean's Twelve
½

"Ocean's Twelve". Known as the black sheep of the Ocean's trilogy. I disagree. The pacing is much more enthralling and though it may be more difficult to follow, it's much more rewardingly exciting. Yeah, the ending's a bit of a let down, but it doesn't mean that "Ocean's Twelve" fails to deliver entertainment. In reality, it offers much more visual and tonal style than Eleven.

Ocean's Eleven
½

"Ocean's Eleven"'s got style, but not as much as 12 & 13. Surprisingly, the editing and cinematography takes a back seat, but the narrative is what makes it so entertaining. I disagree that its the best Ocean's movie out of the 3, but it's a good time.

Superbad
Superbad(2007)
½

A raunchy, earnestly heartwarming but hilarious comedy that draws laugh from its witty script, not slapstick stupidity.

The Illusionist
½

A patient movie that rewards viewers with an interesting mix of murder, mystery, and magic all in one. It's been a while since I've seen this movie but as I could remember from it, its a completely different beast compared to "The Prestige", but yet almost as entertaining.

The Passion of the Christ

Though I understand that "The Passion of the Christ" isn't exactly an accessible movie that delves into the reasons why Jesus endured what He went through, it convincingly shocks many audience members out of, what we conceive to be, a tired old repetitive story. This is the story of the Lord, Jesus Christ, who endured one of the worst and most excruciating pain for mankind in order for us to be back with God. Mel Gibson thrusts the audience to true authentic realization of what Jesus went through. What I particularly liked about the movie were glimpses of events before the crucifixion that showed Jesus' character. It's cool to see Him in live-action form that is backed up by Scripture.

Gridiron Gang
½

An electrifying performance by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in a cliche but good-hearted movie. This, admittedly, was a guilty pleasure of mine. DON'T HATE

Die Another Day
½

hands down, the worst bond movie

Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor(2001)

Michael Bay is gay. Direct quote:
-Ben Affleck: "You are so beautiful it hurts"
-Kate Beckinsale: "It's your nose that hurts"
-Ben Affleck: "I think it's my heart"
WOW. RLY?
I don't even wanna get into the reasons why this movie sucks.

Taken
Taken(2009)

OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH TAKEN. LIAM NEESON, WHAT A BAMF.
Most overrated movie I have ever seen. I cannot believe there is such a huge following behind it.

This guy is unstoppable. Kills everyone with one bullet due to his precise aiming and his intuition to somehow know when a gun is being pointed to him and to dodge the bullet... even when he's in a freaking hallway with no gun. I simply saw this as a knock-off of the Bourne series with less spectacular action scenes, devoid of any of the tension, and a stupid narrative. There's no doubt that I enjoyed it at times, but I simply saw it as a ridiculously annoying B-movie with an intention to preach a very weak message about sex slavery that is not convincing enough to captivate the audience's emotions to take action.

Saving Private Ryan
½

I remember when "Saving Private Ryan" first hit theaters, some theaters banned children under 17 to go watch the movie, even with their parents. I still remember many of the stories of countless audience members walking out with shuddering and trembling hands as if they were enacted some part in the horrible battles of World War II. This is by far, the best portrayal of the realistic horrors of war ever.

Spielberg takes the war to the audiences through extremely gritty handheld camerawork, cinematography, and raw violence. "Saving Private Ryan" revolutionized the way to incorporate realistic camerawork which sparked a devout following for such impressive camerawork scenes like "Children of Men" and the horrible "Terminator Salvation". The skirmishes the soldiers face in the war is not something to behold as entertainment, but duties that are to be done for the sake of their mission. This movie set the bar for war films. I must warn everyone -- this is not for the faint of heart.

The only downside to this epic is the screenplay outside of these skirmishes; its not that its cheesy -- its just overly simple. Still "Saving Private Ryan" is an arresting spectacle that is to be experienced by any movie-goer due to its convincingly raw portrayal.

The Town
The Town(2010)
½

"The T-aw-on"

It's funny; when I was much younger, I've always imagined scenarios that I'd love to shoot on the big screen. Ben Affleck beat me to it. His first outing, "Gone Baby Gone" took a familiar premise and took a sharp turn away from conventional storylines. "The Town" comes around and it solidly sticks on a common narrative that we've all seen plenty of times. But this isn't to say "The Town" is a horrible movie. In fact, Ben Affleck has quickly become one of the most approved directors. Yeah, its not Academy Award winning worthy, but its easy to spot that "The Town" is crafted by experienced hands. Here's where it gets ugly. The screenplay gets cheesy at times and the performance by Ben Affleck himself is alarmingly bad... so much to the point where the tension the movie tries to build is shattered because of this weak performance.

I really wanted to like this movie; I enjoyed "Gone Baby Gone" and it seems like a premise that I would embrace, but this movie failed to deliver in terms of its narrative. In the end, I didn't care about the characters. However, the action scenes are definitely pulse-pounding and rumblingly entertaining. Definitely worth watching for I know many would say that the shortcomings are easy to overlook; unfortunately, I'm not one of those critics.

Michael Clayton
½

"Michael Clayton". First off, the screenplay is extremely sharp and cleverly written. There isn't gonna be a screenplay like this in a very long time. I understand -- its notably difficult to follow along, but wow! This is an incredibly rich, intelligent, and meticulously well-crafted thriller. It's riddled with a cool dark blue and blacks that give off the right tone for this suave thriller. The acting is superb. And what about the score! It gets the blood boiling and the tensions to a tight finish.

I cannot recommend this movie enough. The tension is unequivocally tangible that by the end of it, it feels like you watched one of the greatest thrillers of all time. Beware: Be sure to follow the dialogue very closely for this is a movie that entrusts the audience to have the intelligence to keep up with its intricate, abundant narrative. It might be worth it to watch this movie more than once.

Alice in Wonderland

The OG "Alice in Wonderland" cartoon edition, was a movie that kinda puzzled me. I didn't understand why it had such a large following behind it because it was transparently obvious that there were many drug references with some of the most strangest ideas. The live action version comes along and I've gotta say, there are two things in this movie that are superbly done: Johnny Depp's acting and the cinematography. Johnny Depp, who plays as the Mad Hatter, is so engrossed in the character that you can hardly recognize that it is Johnny Depp. Absolutely phenomenal. The cinematography is pitch-dark with rich and vibrant colors and ideas. However, the plot fails to steer the audiences into its story correctly due to poor emphasis on key plot elements and hard-to-hear dialogue. After a second viewing with subtitles, I understood what the movie was trying to shoot for, but sadly, it failed.

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)

J.J Abrams takes the helms of the Star Trek saga and delivers it Hollywood-style. I am absolutely amazed that "Star Trek" received such high praise because unfortunately, I was not entertained. I like J.J. Abrams; I think he's a great director with a natural knack to deliver narratives in a very entertaining fashion. The CGI was top-notch and the performances were all solid. Unfortunately, the movie's charm stems from cringe-worthy humor and cliches (particularly the bar scene annoyed me the most). It started reminding me of a cartoon show called "Animaniacs". There were too many slapstick scenes within "Star Trek" that have been done in other past movies hundreds of times and its been more effective in other films. I definitely could see why Trekkie fans would enjoy this movie to death.

The Social Network
½

Props to David Fincher but how come he didn't win best director? This is by far, one of the most well directed and edited movies I have ever seen. The technicalities are so pinpoint meticulously accurate that I couldn't help but to fall in love with what the movie threw at me. And luckily, I was in for a good ride because the narrative was interesting and the screenplay was very sharp. So many things are done right with "The Social Network". I would almost like to say that it is perfectly made, right down to the music cues and camera cuts. This is a modern masterpiece. The only lacking aspect of the film would probably come down to the narrative and how it doesn't personally involve the audience into the emotional psyche of any of the characters on-screen. Which isn't to say that the movie was not entertaining -- I enjoyed the hell out of it.

There aren't many movies that come out these days that specifically base its storytelling on a pop-cultural phenomenon, but have such impeccable results, which is what "The Social Network" did. Its an almost flawless film that is extremely captivating as it is entertaining.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)
½

"The Wrestler" has almost nothing to do with wrestling... typically a Darren Aronofsky thing. The narrative is traditionally linear and simple, but it is very raw and riveting. An authentic, bona fide acting performance by Mickey Rourke. There's a surreal amount of veracity that everything carries whether it is heightened from the camerawork, the screenplay, or the pitch dark tones the narrative throws at the audience. It's a downer for sure, but it doesn't mean Darren Aronofsky doesn't succeed. The audience are emotionally plunged into the life of Mickey Rourke's character, Randy "The Ram" Robinson due to fine direction and screenplay. This is by far the most simplistic yet compelling film Darren Aronofsky's ever done. It's his best work yet.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
½

What a strange but impeccably well-made movie. It's almost a tranquil, dream-like experience that "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" exudes. I would dare to say that this is one of the best romantic movies ever. It's littered with striking images, seemingly sporadic but directed editing, and a narrative that is filled with both smarts and romance. Jim Carrey is awesome and Kate Winslet is not Kate Winslet in this film; she's Clementine. This is a masterpiece. A must see for all moviegoers, young and old.

Inception
Inception(2010)
½

I'm extremely disappointed. Nolan has crafted some of my favorite movies: "Memento", "The Dark Knight", "Batman Begins", and "The Prestige". He has creatively delved into the interesting aspects of many of the things that we've become familiar to. On the other hand, "Inception" tries to create new rules into our knowledge of how dreams function which may seem interesting, but in the end, its all not extremely interesting... particularly because the exposition to explain the rules of the dream world runs throughout the movie for literally an hour and 30 minutes. You think "Donnie Darko" left you out of the dark? "Inception" lets you in way too much, and frankly, when there's a movie about dreams, it ironically leaves the viewers very little to imagine. Too much information is given that once "Inception" dishes out its finale, we, as the viewers, understand that the director's intention wasn't for us to piece together fragments of the narrative much like "Memento", but it was simply cut off and leaves us hanging to make an estimation based on a simple dream world rule... What a foolish move... It's a smart movie and entertaining movie -- I'll give it that, but generally speaking, I didn't care what happened in the movie at all. There's absolutely no character development. "What? There's Cobb & Mal." "Inception"'s narrative for Cobb & Mal totters along with gaping holes and in the end, crashes to a halt. This movie is a cluttered, blockbuster action movie that fails in so many scenes to capture some sort of dramatic impact. I love Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor; he convincingly and realistically performs with a zeal that is heavily due to a deep psychological study of the character that he's playing as. Frankly, Cobb wasn't a character -- the dream world was. The entire movie limits him.

In my opinion, this is Christopher Nolan's worst movie. Sounds like I bashed this movie down to the ground, which I did, but it was still entertaining enough to watch and for it to earn 3 1/2 stars. Nolan's given in into the blockbuster mindset and though "Inception" claims to be a smart blockbuster movie, its coupled with many of the blockbuster annoyances. It's true that Nolan has made blockbuster movies in the past (The Batman series) but this is the first time that the genre has defined Nolan's movie, not the movie redefining the genre.

Terminator Salvation

wow... really?
McG just crapped on the entire franchise with this ridiculous, blockbuster-explosion-mind-fudge (ala Transformer's 2).
I like Christian Bale.
I loved Terminator 1.
I absolutely loved Terminator 2.
Terminator 3 kinda sucked but this...
no words can express. The Terminator plot that drove the franchise into flying colors = gone. This movie is all the Hollywood garbage mashed together into this 1 hr and 54 min crapstorm.
The only thing I'll give McG is the cinematography. 2 scenes in particular have one-shot-set-pieces that are gorgeous, but childrenofmendiditalreadyanditdiditbetterkthnxbye.

Shooter
Shooter(2007)

I like Mark Wahlberg.
I'm a huge gun fanatic.
I love action movies.
But this movie disappointed man...
The plot, typical. The ending, one of the worst conclusions you can ever end a movie on. The action, not exciting at all. Is there tension? Not really. This movie fails on a lot of parts. Only thing I've gotta say about this movie is how some scenes (especially the snow sniper scene) is gorgeous. I wanted to like this movie, but it was just another mindless Hollywood action flick.

Four Brothers
½

What the hell was this? I really wanted to like this movie. In fact, gangster revenge flicks (though overly done) is my kind of movie. This seems great! ...Hell naw.
First of all, the screenplay tries extremely hard to bring upon the audience that these four brothers have a deep chemistry between each other but frankly, the screenplay and the acting does not follow through. A lot of the scenes where they are trading lines back to back is cringe-worthy. There is absolutely no chemistry. I've also gotta say Chiwetel Ejiofor cannot pull a Denzel Washington. Is he really trying to be like him from "Training Day"? Y'all would know what I mean if you guys watch one of the last scenes in "Four Brothers". Skip this movie. Action scenes suck. And there's also a car chase scene with one of the WORST looking CGI snow I've ever seen.

Moon
Moon(2009)
½

I was absolutely psyched for this movie and I've gotta say, I was disappointed. On paper, it seemed to be a great movie in the making... Sam Rockwell was great. "Moon" takes an overdone, rehashed sci-fi plot and puts many different spins on it. There are times when you are watching this movie, you start going, "Here we go again... this, this, and this is gonna happen," and then the story goes in a completely different path. However, these paths were unpredictable in the first place because it would take the story in an uninteresting path. There's no doubt this movie caught my attention, but it couldn't hold it for long. This WAS my most anticipated movie of 2009... I'm sorry but I'm gonna hafta give it a low rating.

Up in the Air
½

"Up in the Air" is an ensemble dramedy that evenly balances all of its narrative aspects and puts them together to make a deeply satisfying story of a damaged man. As you can probably tell, its magnificently directed with apt editing and an extremely clever and sharp script. "Up in the Air" is a transcendental achievement that works as both an effective comedy and a commanding drama that isn't reliant on familiar narrative arcs or mechanics.

Inglourious Basterds
½

One of Quentin Tarantino's best movies. There's something about Tarantino movies that is hard to put our finger on but yet its undeniably entertaining and worthy to be considered a cinematic wonder. The editing style is very unpredictable and the traditionally long takes Tarantino loves to place into his movies isn't a perfect match for an adventure war movie, but they're unyieldingly magnetic. One masterful scene comes to mind -- the bar scene.

"Inglourious Basterds" is a movie to be remembered for a long time for its ferocious yet patient narrative that's irresistibly entertaining. It exudes the cinema magic we all strive for. "Inglourious Basterds" is a bound-to-be classic.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

An incredibly weak script, quirky editing that feels tacky, and bizarre characters make this movie a bore.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)
½

*Looks down with sunglasses at hand*
"Tron..."
*Puts on glasses*
"...Legacy"
YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

"Tron Legacy" tries really, really hard to be a very cool and in some ways, it pulls off its tone. It's got some really breathtaking camera shots and especially with the power of IMAX cameras, it's rich in detail and lighting. But for the rest of the plot, its dreadfully boring and the choreography for the action scenes is very simple. The entertainment value with these action scenes are heightened only due to the CGI effects going about.

Mr. Brooks
Mr. Brooks(2007)

Wow, the cinematography is horrendous. Demi Moore is awful. The plot is interesting and it does engages audiences, and in a way, it is a guilty pleasure of mine, but this movie lacks in so many ways.

Changeling
Changeling(2008)
½

Great movie with astounding performances and direction, this movie starts to lose its drive near the 3rd act. Not only that, but this movie also falls into the typical Hollywood cliche's.

In Bruges
In Bruges(2008)

"In Bruges" is criminally underrated. The pitch dark comedy is definitely an acquired taste, but it finds its identity in it. Loved it due to its astute and clever screenplay. Obviously, the screenplay wouldn't have been able to last without good acting and surprisingly, this is Collin Farrell's best performance in my opinion.

The Dark Knight
½

What more can I finally ask for from a superhero movie? This is, by far, the best superhero movie I've ever seen. As a fan of crime drama epics that cut into the dark and gritty corners of the crime-world, "The Dark Knight" fulfills everything I could've ever hoped for from a superhero movie. I still remember watching this in the midnight showing and by the end, having my jaw open for a good 3 minutes. That isn't to say that it had its share of problems. My biggest gripe with the movie was the fact that it completely wiped away all the intricate and realistically sound character development that had been built up so highly from "Batman Begins". It's not like it completely disregards it like the Indiana Jones quadrilogy, but multiple aspects of Bruce Wayne's core paradigm are not mentioned. Also, "The Dark Knight" is more chaotically put together compared to its predecessor due to the enormous amount of subplots and sub-actions that are meant to reinforce the main plot; one could say that it is rightfully so due to the constant theme of "Chaos" ringing throughout the movie. It's plausible. The acting was top notch and what else could really be said about Heath Ledger's performance? Must I add more? What an incredible cast. All are A-list actors with grade A acting dishing back and forth. The cinematography is rightfully dark and the score was absolutely perfect.

"The Dark Knight" sits alongside with some of the best movies from the crime-drama genre that rightfully stands out more than just a "superhero" movie.

The Truman Show
½

Although this movie has a message that goes against my beliefs, "The Truman Show" is a provocative, well-made, and thought-provoking film. Everything is meticulously put together. Still gonna hafta go against the message, but as a movie, it's phenomenal.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

awful. absolutely awful...
"Now, please; tell me why have you come to our planet?" *Keanu Reeves turns his flat and expressionless face towards the speaker* "Your planet? It is not."
LOL OK

Panic Room
Panic Room(2002)
½

"Panic Room" is nothing more than a thriller -- an incredibly nerve-racking and tense thriller that is sure to entertain. This is another one of those movies that completely commits its setting in one place but yet the direction, editing, and narrative drives this thriller to be a pulse-pounding epic that is sure to be remembered.

Road to Perdition

Awwwwwwwww snaaapppp. Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, & Daniel Craig. Sam Mendes, the director of "American Beauty". Game over everyone. lol, too bad this is one of the most cliche mafia movies I've ever seen, but it executes it with high production values, an excellent screenplay, and cinematography that is done to a perfection that makes the familiar feel fresh. One thing to note is that there is a particular scene in "Road to Perdition" that is one of the most incredible scenes I've ever seen in cinema history. "Road to Perdition" may feel familiar at times, but it takes the familiar and perfects it.

Bedazzled
Bedazzled(2000)

Wow, was this movie crap. I hate Brendan Fraser. I have yet to see a good performance by him. He tried in Crash- failed. Mummy? Yeah, it was straight up blockbuster B-movie but he still failed. This movie? My gosh... Anyways, this movie sucked, it was boring and not funny. Don't watch it.

The Butterfly Effect
½

Entertaining, but that's about it. Unmemorable. With a thriller and a premise like this, it should've been more memorable

Hitman
Hitman(2007)
½

Nothin like the videogame series but so much like the epidemic of videogame movies -- SUCKS. freakin boring

The Terminal
The Terminal(2004)

A feel-good comedy that is very different. I highly recommend watching it!

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
½

The best Star Wars movie out of the entire saga. Even though the Star Wars series has always been revolutionary in its vision and scope, I can't help but to feel that it is lacking in its mechanics; the acting, storytelling, cinematography, and editing have always made me desire for more. That's not to say that "The Empire Strikes Back" is a bad movie. If you haven't, you must watch it, but according to my eyes, it could've been much more but at that time, there were no other movies like it.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

Hayden Christensen. I'm sick of the guy.
As for the action, definitely one of the best in the entire saga but the acting is seriously lacking. The worst, plot-wise, than any other Star Wars movie.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Kid annoyed the hell out of me and same with Jar Jar Binks, but the action was great. Visually dazzling.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
½

The worst of all the Star Wars movies. Hayden Christensen, on his third Star Wars movie, still sucks. The completion of the birth of Darth Vader is lacking.

Ju-on: The Grudge
½

This was so boring. Inventive and innovative on the style of scares it delivers, but I DIDN'T get scared.

The Girl Next Door

It's been a ridiculously long time since I've seen "The Girl Next Door" but I remember a few things:
A) I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable the movie was
B) I got surprised by many plot points in the movie

Shaolin Soccer

I watched this as a kid and remember thinking, "My gosh, these guys are absolutely getting owned by a soccer ball." The action is so absurd and outrageous that it makes everything hilarious. A joy to watch.

Young Frankenstein
½

Don't remember much but much like many older movies, the pacing becomes very rewarding and in this case, funny. A surprising hit for me.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Didn't think a premise or comedy like this would be enjoyable but it was. Don't remember much but what I do remember was that it was entertaining.

Liar Liar
Liar Liar(1997)
½

Entertaining but wildly outlandish. Typical Jim Carrey craziness. Didn't find anything particularly great about this movie.

Be Cool
Be Cool(2005)

I dont remember a whole lot but I remember thinking, "What the hell is the movie even about?" The commercials boasted an all-star cast but that is all that it delivered. One forgettable, dry, and pretentious movie.

Lucky Number Slevin

At first, the movie's enjoyable but in the last hour, there are so many plot twists and turns that it completely kills the movie. You must understand, I love plot twists, but if there are 70 of them in the end, it kills it. Performances were good though.

Fantastic Four

One of the worst super-hero movies I've ever seen. Extremely cheesy, super kid friendly, and cringe-inducing dialogue with little to no action to redeem the lacking qualities.

Mr. Deeds
Mr. Deeds(2002)
½

Uninspired humor and dull plot. Only thing that redeems this snorefest is Adam Sandler.

Year One
Year One(2009)

Wow, this movie was crap. Everything is saturated with a stink of a crap movie. Horribly shot, horrible jokes, and an incredibly horrible attention to detail.

Elf
Elf(2003)
½

A movie that brings the Christmas spirit for not only the children but for the adults as well. Humor really works. I give credit to this movie for the purity that it carries.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)
½

I'll give James Cameron the credit for creating such an imaginative and beautiful world. Though the plot has been done countless amount of times, you can't help but to be involved. A lot of fun.

The Mummy Returns
½

Brendan Fraser. Done deal. As for the movie, it falls for the sequel syndrome. This was a really boring movie...

The Mummy
The Mummy(1999)
½

Brendan Fraser makes this movie get 2 1/2 stars or less. Fortunately, it was kinda entertaining.

The One
The One(2001)

Wow... absolutely horrible. Can't even describe how horrible it was. Do not watch this crapfest.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

It's been way too long since I've seen this movie but I grew up with it and loved it.

Wedding Crashers

Funny but overrated. Cliche' to the max and over exaggerates too much.

The Notebook
The Notebook(2004)

I don't remember too much about the movie but other then the fact that the drama was wayyyy too forced. Cliche after cliche and overall, was not interesting enough to keep me entertained.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger(1993)

I remember having a lot of fun with this movie. That's what it is- a B movie.

King Kong
King Kong(2005)
½

A movie that reaches for epic measures but falters due to poor pacing and a weak emotional connection to the characters.
However, it has spectacular visuals

Primal Fear
Primal Fear(1996)
½

An entertaining movie. Nothing more, nothing less.

The Hangover
The Hangover(2009)
½

Completely overrated. It's been done before. The humor works if you're amused by raunchy slapstick comedies. A huge disappointment for me.

Good Will Hunting

A great movie. Too bad there are way too many movies that are copying this movie's formula...

25th Hour
25th Hour(2003)
½

Can't really say that I've enjoyed this movie. It might possibly be a rewatch for me. I don't understand how this movie has gotten so much praise. The premise, while interesting, wasn't enough. Didn't seem to be a life changing thing.

Rain Man
Rain Man(1988)

dustin hoffman is incredible.
other than that, the movie is awfully boring.

10 Items or Less

this movie is the definition of a cliche' indie movie... but, you can't help but to love the actors on screen.
fun, for just a little while.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

A riveting crazy movie. There are a ridiculous amount of flaws in this movie, but the performances are top-notch. I greatly recommend this movie.

Dan in Real Life
½

Entertaining... very cliche' but Steve Carell's excellent performance makes it feel fresh

Face/Off
Face/Off(1997)
½

A fun popcorn blockbuster... I just didn't dig John Travolta's acting. This was the time when Nicolas Cage was actually okay.

Ransom
Ransom(1996)

Fun action thriller. Nothing more.

Role Models
Role Models(2008)
½

This movie was a lot of fun. Definitely underrated.

S.W.A.T.
S.W.A.T.(2003)

fun action. that's bout it. I'm a sucker for weaponry... but this movie sucked.

Superman Returns

Well made but horrendously boring. Has drama in it, but fails to engage audiences.

Tears of the Sun

Really boring thriller. Fails to thrill, fails to engage audiences, fails to do anything for the audience.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
½

No Paul Walker. Yay... movie still sucked

The Usual Suspects

Engaging crime thriller. Unfortunately, some of the action scenes are badly shot. But this movie is highly recommended.

V for Vendetta
½

This movie cinematography is stunning. It has an impressive script, but it seems a bit too mechanical at times.

The Longest Yard
½

Funny and entertaining. That's bout it.

The Forgotten

I remember this movie was engaging, but it gets way too ridiculous at the end.

The Omen
The Omen(2006)

Booooring. The only scene that scared me? A grandma jumping on Liev Schreiber. The only reason that this movie brought me to watch this movie was its marketing technique: 6.6.06. Pretty cool. Movie? Pretty bad.

The Shining
The Shining(1980)

This movie is chilling. Not a horror movie in itself, but man, it's extremely well done. Jack Nicholson is phenomenal.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Wow, don't be drawn away by the age of this film... it's executed extremely well. A lot of fun

Poltergeist
Poltergeist(1982)
½

Was extremely disappointed with the lack of interest that it caught for me. Dreadfully boring. I know a lot of people will disagree with me.

L.A. Confidential
½

Noir at its finest. Great movie with incredible performances. A must-see

The Shawshank Redemption
½

Definitely is an overrated film, but it succeeds in what it does. Great movie.

Body of Lies
Body of Lies(2008)
½

The plot is interesting and is fun, but there is no character development whatsoever. A forgettable movie with action scenes that are boring. You have absolutely no interest in what happens in the end which is usually a sign of a poorly made movie. Always a good performance from Leo & Crowe.

Alpha Dog
Alpha Dog(2007)
½

I wish I could've liked this movie more, the follow up to the ending is dreadfully boring and uninteresting. You have no interest in the characters or the plot

Eagle Eye
Eagle Eye(2008)

this plot has been taken so many times, it's ridiculous. I will admit that Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan are good in it, but the movie is a mess.

Mission: Impossible
½

Fun and entertaining movie.

Sunset Boulevard

a claustrophobic engaging film

Gangs of New York

daniel day lewis alongside with leonardo dicaprio completely carry this entire movie. it has a lot of flaws but it was extremely entertaining

The Game
The Game(1997)
½

engaging and extremely entertaining... till the end. it ruined the entire movie for me. some may disagree.

Gone Baby Gone

highly underrated movie but the message becomes way too up front and preachy. terrific cast

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

why'd they make this into a trilogy? the first 2 weren't great either, but this tops it. plus, it's got brendan fraser.

United 93
United 93(2006)

strikingly realistic. intense

Dark Water
Dark Water(2005)

DUN DUN, DUN DUN, DUN DUN.... the end.

Hide and Seek

i guessed the ending... yeah, when the movie is completely dependent on the ending like this (saw movies) and you predict the ending, it has nothing going for it.

The Rock
The Rock(1996)
½

the only Michael Bay movie that i'm gonna let pass. The one scene that really bothered me was how Sean Connery seemed to destroy half of San Francisco just because he was running away from the cops.

10,000 B.C.
10,000 B.C.(2008)

what the hell was this? straight up garbage. i'm surprise roland emmerich didn't try to destroy the world in this one.

Speed
Speed(1994)
½

you can definitely see the age in this movie, but it's always gonna be a great action movie

Speed 2 - Cruise Control

the definition of a crappy sequel

Batman & Robin

police officer: "FREEZE!" *while pointing his gun*
Mr. Freeze: "No, you freeze." *freezes him with his freezing gun...*

Crash
Crash(2004)

This movie pounds it's message in almost every single scene... the movie is too preachy, but the acting/cinematography/score all were excellent (except for brendan fraser)

Insomnia
Insomnia(2002)
½

Good psychological thriller... but doesn't get any deeper than that. Like always, Christopher Nolan's direction is always good. Al Pacino carries this movie.

The Island
The Island(2005)
½

Michael Bay is gay. Apparently in Michael Bay's book, 2 people that are running away have the ability to wipe out an entire skyscraper

WALL-E
WALL-E(2008)

from an artistic standpoint, it's incredible... but the message is too grim and dark for a kid's movie.

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever

one of the worst movies of all time. wow... garbage.