Kevin Mozulay's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

It's hard not to think about Fantastic Beasts without thinking about Harry Potter. There are many references to the original series, and the average viewer probably won't understand most of them- particularly a big character reveal at the end. Eddie Redmayne is in the lead as Newt Scamander, and his character couldn't be any less interesting. This is the case with most of the characters. As the film progresses, it loses it's focus rather quickly, and the multiple plotlines don't help. On the bright side, it maintains a pretty good sense of humor throughout; not laugh-out-loud moments, but it keeps the mood light, when it's not trying to be dark. The visual effects are very impressive, particularly with the main villain at the end- in fact I'd say it's one of the best looking pieces of special effects I've seen in film to date. There are so many things that work, and a lot of things that don't work. Although it ends up being overall entertaining, the thinly-written characters and script made it hard to hold my attention. The worst part is that there are four more of these on the way.

Fury
Fury(2014)
½

It's a rarity to see a cast of actors click so well in a film, and Fury is one of those exceptions. Brad PItt, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena, and Shia LeBeouf all turn in emotionally complex and tense performances. A particular scene in a German apartment between Pitt, Lerman, and two German women is a stand-out scene, and it's a perfect example of how war can be brutal in ways other than raw violence. The film also pulls off the very difficult task of making the inside of a tank feel extremely claustrophobic. This is an incredible entry in David Ayer's rather inconsistent filmography.

Arrival
Arrival(2016)
½

If an alien invasion were to happen, Denis Villeneuve's Arrival would be the most accurate depiction of it. From the eerie soundtrack to the very opening moments of cell phones going off in a classroom, there wasn't a moment of Arrival that wasn't engrossing and visually arresting. The idea of language being more than a form of communication is genius: not that I'm surprised, being that Villeneuve is one of the most promising and consistent directors in recent years. His careful and steady approach to pacing and suspense is unparalleled in modern cinema. He clearly draws inspiration from movies like Interstellar, and even a hint of Inception at the end. Many will be turned off by the rather confusing finale, but it asks you to formulate your own theories. In a time where theaters are packed with flashy blockbusters, Arrival is a breath of fresh air that Hollywood desperately needed.

Hacksaw Ridge
½

What makes Hacksaw Ridge stand out from all other war movies is it's relentless portrayal of grotesque violence. Mel Gibson holds nothing back here. Some of the most intense and cover-your-mouth moments in all war movies are pulled off successfully. Gibson takes his time in establishing an emotional connection between the viewers and Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), which ultimately pays off in the end. I wasn't expecting Andrew Garfield to do well in this part, but he proved me wrong. Vince Vaughn once again proves himself as a serious actor (his other works being Into the Wild and True Detective). Mel Gibson has always been one of my favorite directors (Braveheart, Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto, all masterpieces in my eyes), and this is undoubtedly his comeback, and he's firing on all cylinders.

Letters from Iwo Jima

Filmed back to back with Flags of Our Fathers, Letters From Iwo Jima is told from the Japanese soldier's POV, which makes it a fascinating film right from the start. General Kuribayashi, played by Ken Watanabe, makes for one of the most interesting characters in all of war films. A man who used to be close friends with the Americans is now using their weapon gifted to him right back on their own soldiers. It provides serious perspective and gives you a newfound understanding that war isn't always good vs. evil. There are good and bad people on both sides, but the treacheries of war don't discriminate.

Flags of Our Fathers

Less focused on battle and more on the psychological trauma that war has on the average person. This is a war movie that makes you question what a hero really is. Filmed incredibly well, Clint Eastwood's portrayal of Iwo Jima is saturated and depressing, much like the mindset's of the people who partook in the battle. The stand-out character is Ira Hayes, one of the men hailed as a hero simply for raising an American flag on the top of the island's mountain. It's a tragic story, but it's done so well. Clint Eastwood never disappoints.

Moonlight
Moonlight(2016)

It excels in almost every category from acting to cinematography, to overall production design. The particular subject matter, which could have easily came off as heavy-handed, is handled with care and with craft making it undoubtedly one of the more unique films in quite some time. The fault in Moonlight is in the ambition and writing: the soundtrack and the triptych presentation calls for it to be regarded as an American epic, while I didn't quite receive it as such. I think it's a great film, but not necessarily worthy of the extremely high praise it's getting.

Suicide Squad

This was my most anticipated movie ever since they first put out the picture of Jared Leto as The Joker. Unfortunately, my expectations weren't met and Warner Brothers kind of messed up an amazing opportunity. First things first, The Joker wasn't as important as he should have been. Hearing that they shot an entire movie's worth of scenes with The Joker, it's disappointing that the one great part of the movie was replaced by a different and terrible villain. It's not all bad: Margot Robbie is great as Harley Quinn and Will Smith was awesome as Deadshot. But I can't help but think how much better this would have been if it were given to Christopher Nolan, or anyone else for that matter.

Jurassic World

Jurassic World is a welcome addition to the series, even when considering it to be the 4th installment of a very long running franchise. It's intense, action packed, witty, funny, and above all, gorgeous, in ever sense of the word. The effects are spot on: it was hard to tell the dinosaurs were fake. There's a really cool action sequence towards the end where Chris Pratt is riding next to the raptors... a genuine badass. The one thing about Jurassic World that I noticed, especially in the final sequence, is how similar it is to any other monster movie, particularly the 2014 Godzilla remake. Both films involve huge incidents that occurred long before the start of the movie, a hero and his hot girlfriend barely making it out alive, and most notably a big showdown between the "good" monster and the "bad" monster. This instantly reminded me that I was watching a big budget blockbuster. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but Jurassic World follows the action movie template, for better or worse.

Hot Girls Wanted

Difficult to watch, especially when considering how young these girls are. This documentary won't change the way American society works, because this type of lifestyle has already been glamorized by icons like Miley Cyrus, Kesha, and Kim Kardashian. What's interesting about Hot Girls Wanted is the very thin line between the connection of irreversible damage inflicted upon the girls in the films and the society that has begun to influence it all.

Spy
Spy(2015)
½

Really hilarious. Great cast.

Mad Max
Mad Max(1979)

I watched the original Mad Max starring the extremely talented Mel Gibson directly after seeing the newest one featuring Tom Hardy. Personally, I've never been a big fan of older films: they're less satisfying and don't hold up to my standards as much as other die-hard filmgoers as they do for me. While I do understand how good movies like Mad Max were for their time, they just rarely ever do it for me. Mel Gibson plays Max at least 15 years before the events of Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), and he's just as quiet as Tom Hardy's portrayal. Here, there is no apocalypse, unlike Fury Road: instead we have an alternative Australia where cops are men in leather jeans and biker jackets. I have nothing against this film, because I know my opinion is a little biased. However, I still feel like it didn't age well, over 35 years later.

Mad Max: Fury Road
½

WHAT A MOVIE! I'll admit, I wasn't excited when I saw Mad Max's trailer. After seeing it, it completely blew away my expectations, turning out to be one of the best movies I've seen so far this year. The action is some of the best I've ever seen, including 90% completely real and authentic stunts. It moves so quickly: what helps that notion is being able to notice the film is actually being sped up just a bit, for extra intensity. Mad Max also has some of the weirdest little details I've seen in a long time. There are morbidly obese women sitting in a row with tubes attached to their breasts to feed the powder-white henchmen of the villain. There's a tiny little man the size of a baby. Need I say more? As for the actors, Tom Hardy (Max) is a quiet mumbling man, AKA Tom Hardy, and Charlize Theron is a badass rebel with a buzz cut and a robotic arm. Both characters are pretty soft spoken. What makes them insane, along with the rest of the movie are the way they handle themselves in the ridiculously over-the-top yet intensely satisfying action sequences. Cars are constantly exploding into furious balls of flame, men are jumping from car to car wielding explosive spears, and guns are being fired like a hillbilly barbecue on the 4th of July. Add in tribal drums and a badass guitar guy (who's guitar shoots out FLAMES!), both of whom are on speeding vehicles, and you get an amazing and outstanding action film, destined to be a classic in the coming decades. You know a movie takes you over when you can hear yourself breathing hard when silence creeps in after 20 minutes of constant, high octane action.

Maggie
Maggie(2015)

Majority of zombie iterations see the victims who are bitten die, and turn into the walking dead rather quickly. What makes Maggie stand out from the rest is the dreadfully slow and brutal depiction of someone slowly decaying both physically and mentally, making it more emotionally effective than you had expected before going in. People might not like this because when they see Arnold Schwarzenegger's name on the cast list, they expect the movie to be filled with his famous cheesy punch-lines and non-stop action. Maggie does quite the opposite: he's so serious here that it's strangely funny at first. Despite knowing the outcome, Maggie proves it's the journey that makes it rather gripping and hard to watch than the destination itself.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Mood, setting, subtlety, and camerawork are what make Only Lovers Left Alive a memorable independent vampire story. The film is in constant darkness, the time a vampire would be awake, and calling the film dark both literally and aesthetically is an understatement. It's a rarity to see a film with this kind of tone; Detroit and Tangier, Morocco are beautifully desolate and dimly lit throughout. Director Jim Jarmusch portrays the cities as if they were in an alternate reality, and it's worth watching for that alone. The film is nicely shot as well, and makes Tilda Swinton walking down a dark alleyway look as cool as you could imagine. The vampire aspects of the script are very subtle, unlike most vampire tales. We're never shown anyone's neck being bitten, and there is no skin burning in the sun; these vampires have been alive for too many years to make such foolish mistakes. "It's been 87 years [since we've seen my sister] Eve (Tilda Swinton) comments. The grunge-rock soundtrack supports the badass look of Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve, who sport dark shades and leather gloves in public. The drawback is the extremely slow-burning pace. If you're looking for a deep, intricate script, you're looking in the wrong place. It's the vibe and the minute details that make Only Lovers Left Alive a cool vampire movie.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

I'm happy to say that the second was better than the first. The villain, Ultron, a giant metallic A.I. whose set on destroying the world was surprisingly funny and smart, elevated by James Spader's performance as him. He shares a great scene with The Vision (his good-willed A.I. counterpart) at the end. Another great addition is Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen) who has telepathic and hypnotic powers, making for a psychological disturbance in a very simple comic book world. Age of Ultron is also funnier than the first, and takes itself a little less seriously, which is something the franchise could use more of. I walked away pretty satisfied, and am actually looking forward to the final two installments.

Batman Returns

This sequel is noticeably better than the first. It's bigger, bolder, and the pacing is much faster. Danny DeVito nails it as The Penguin. He's perverted, disgusting, and looks grotesque. In fact, he looks just as scary as Jack Nicholson's Joker did in the previous film. Batman Returns also retained the sense of humor from the first. Penguin has his own set of awesome punchlines. "Welcome to the Oswald Cobblepot school of driving. Gentlemen, start your screaming." A second villain made things interesting; Catwoman, played by Michelle Pfeiffer in a solid and seductive performance. The love dynamic between her and Bruce Wayne brought out an interesting side to him. I liked this one a lot more than the original.

A Most Violent Year

If you've seen A Most Violent Year, you'd have already realized the title barely adheres to what the movie is actually about- which is the American Dream, a theme now as old as time itself. Revolutionized in The Godfather and proving it's longevity in Scarface, the subject of the American Dream in film is indeed a popular one. A Most Violent Year is about Tony Montana's boring distant cousin Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) and his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) residing in the New York/ New Jersey area, also trying to carry out his own version of the American Dream. A Most Violent Year is the maverick of American Dream/ gangster movies: Abel Morales is an honorable family man who runs an oil heating company. His wife and the company lawyer (played by Albert Brooks) both try to sway him towards the crime path while he does his best to resist them both... majority of this film is about him doing his best to do everything legally and honorably, and it's also the films biggest downfall because it makes for some pretty dull material. While I respect the themes: that some have to get a little "dirty" once in a while to succeed, and that attaining this American Dream is definitely not a black and white affair, I couldn't help but shake the feeling that it's been done so many times before in more entertaining, watchable, and interesting ways.

Legally Blonde

Movies rarely attack female stereotypes the way Legally Blonde does: it starts out by showing us Elle Woods (played by the energetic Reese Witherspoon) as a rich, early-twenties sorority girl with very little to lose. She's overly-bubbly, overly-perky, and seemingly dim-witted. She checks off just about every stereotype an American blonde girl could possibly have. When she gets accepted into Harvard (a hilarious scene showing the admissions department watching her video essay and finding reasons to admit her just because they think she's hot), she goes with the intention of winning back her ex-boyfriend, Warner. She instead gets herself lost in her pursuit of her law degree, in which she quickly learns to transform her attention to detail (which she uses towards beauty and fashion) into the case she is helping out with. It's not only funny seeing these stereotypes brought to life by Reese Witherspoon and the hilarious characters that she meets along the way, but it was also eye-opening to see her crush her obstacles and name-callers along the way by proving that there is often more than meets the eye. As long as there are breathing women in America, Legally Blonde would remain timeless among the people who can see past "blonde moments".

Batman
Batman(1989)

For me, Batman himself has never been the most interesting character in the Gotham universe. The characters that do stand out, like many comics before and after, are the villains. Bane, Harley Quinn, Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow, they're all cool... but The Joker is the guy who always stands out, making for one of the most fascinating villains of all time. In Tim Burton's Batman, I stand corrected: the villain stands out much more than the dark knight himself. Jack Nicholson's portrayal of The Joker is maniacal, giddy, highly energetic, but above all, humorous. The Joker is really just having a good time while wreaking havoc on Gotham City, compared to Heath Ledger's Joker who was a little darker and more serious. Another thing that separates the performances are the ways the movies portray his origins. In Nolan's Dark Knight, The Joker comes into play already a psychopath, and throughout the film he tells different stories as to where his scars come from. He's more of an enigma, making him all-the-more fascinating. In Batman, we're shown exactly what made The Joker... well, The Joker. Nonetheless, his performance almost completely overshadows Michael Keaton as Batman/ Bruce Wayne; in fact, Bruce Wayne has never seemed more boring than he does here. It's evident that Tim Burton is still trying to find his own visual style here while trying to juggle the accuracy of the comics. He paints a traditionally dark yet zany Gotham. What you'll take away from Batman is not the dull romance between Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger), but the city that's thrown into disarray and the eerie smiling face that does it.

Ex Machina
Ex Machina(2015)
½

When going into a science fiction film, it's usually obvious that it's science fiction- whether it's a futuristic looking city, or advanced technology, it can oftentimes look cheap and unrealistic. When watching Ex Machina I was reminded of i Robot, which starred Will Smith over a decade ago, a film about robots whom you can speak and interact with. Even a decade ago, it was obvious that it was fake. Here we are in 2015 with Ex Machina, a film about the testing process of a brand new ultra-realistic AI (that's artificial intelligence). Caleb Smith (played by Domhnall Gleeson) works for the biggest search-engine company in the world (an alternate Google) and wins a lottery for a trip to the company's owner who lives in deep seclusion in a forest. He goes and meets with the owner, Nathan Bateman (played by Oscar Isaac from Drive) who turns out to be very down-to-earth and funny guy rather than a nerdy computer genius, which he actually is. Nathan brought him there to test and interact with a new AI he built named Ava. Ava looks and sounds amazing- from the humanlike face to her robotic insides, to the way she speaks with Nathan, is all very gripping. The conversations alone are very well done, with little details such as a low humming noise every time Ava moves, to the pictures she draws for Nathan, bring it together to be a science fiction experience that makes you forget your watching a science fiction film. It's a very human movie, and challenges your trust and your wits. One of my favorite parts of Ex Machina was the atmosphere and the look of the facility that Nathan lives in- it's a very modern/futuristic looking place, with a lot of glass windows and walls: doors that don't look like doors at all- something you have to see to understand. Combine that with the moody soundtrack, the great acting, impressive visuals, and interesting story, all makes for one of the best science fiction films in recent years.

The Babadook
The Babadook(2014)
½

Finding a genuinely scary and quality horror movie is like finding a needle in a haystack. The Babadook is that needle; on the surface, it's a cursed book about a monster that comes to life, which possesses a host (i.e. our unlucky protagonist, a widowed mother in Australia). What it really is is a film about fear itself, particularly what really makes us afraid and why it does so. Amelia, mother of a young boy who seemingly has a mental disorder, lost her husband in a car crash seven years ago. When The Babadook "monster" enters the picture, it takes form of her greatest fear, and the monster tries to cripple her with it. Another huge element of the film is the relationship between an emotionally damaged mother, and an anxiety-ridden son. It tackles the notion that fear can take many different forms, for both kids and adults. The Babadook does not exercise cheap scares like many modern horror movies before it: it instead relies on very steady pacing, and genuinely creepy images, but also sounds. The Babadook noises that you won't forget anytime soon: "Baba-dook-dook-DOOK". The word itself is kind of funny, but once you hear it in the film it will send a very effective chill down your spine. The Babadook is the best horror movie I've seen in years.

Battle Royale
½

Several movies have been influenced by Battle Royale, including Tarantino's Kill Bill and the popular Hunger Games franchise. A group of 42 teenagers are gathered and dropped on a deserted island where they're instructed to kill each other until one winner stands. Unlike the Hunger Games, all of these kids knew each other prior to the event, which leads to more interesting confrontations; all of which are much bloodier and gruesome. The film shows it's age; now fifteen years old, the budget was low at the time and the effects aren't as convincing as modern action films, and the acting is uneven. What makes Battle Royale all the more shocking is how young some of the actors are; they range from 10-year-old kids to late-teens, making for a controversial film. I enjoyed Battle Royale, and I wish I hadn't seen the Hunger Games prior to seeing it, because both concepts are practically the same. This now makes it hard for me to regard either film without thinking of the other. If you haven't seen the Hunger Games yet, see this first: it's a harder-hitting film.

It Follows
It Follows(2015)

The majority of modern horror films are cliche; cheap scares that involve something popping up out of nowhere (loudly), whether it's a ghost, a demon, or somebody possessed. So what ever happened to those classic 70's and 80's slasher films where the two kids having sex die first? It Follows reinvents the slasher flick with style, originality, and ultimately quality horror. A girl is given a curse (through sex) which involves a person who could be random or recognizable, to be constantly walking towards her. The only way to get rid of it is to pass it on through sex. Director David Mitchell is secretly mocking the entire teen sex field, when sex-ed teachers warn us of things like STD's and STI's. In a way, this "curse" that is passed on in the film is symbolic for kids catching STD's, and it's just as scary to see it unfold in this film as it was when you were first warned about diseases when you were twelve. With a low budget, It Follows succeeds in the utilization of it's simplistic yet effective horror which revolves around great cinematography, mood, and creepiness rather than the cheap scares we've all come to know today. This is one of the most original horror films I've seen in a long time.

Nymphomaniac: Volume II
½

With Volume II of Nymphomaniac, we learn a crucial part of one of the main storytelling elements: we learn that Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), the man that Joe is telling her entire story to, the man who reflects with parallel stories/metaphors through the various books and folklore he's learned about, is in fact an asexual virgin. Hence, the reason he is the perfect man for Joe to tell her story to, since he won't look at it from a primal and sexual point of view, but rather a humanistic and unbiased one. This provided the clarity I needed to rid of the idea that Von Trier was pushing the metaphors on the viewer too directly. With that being said, Volume II is the much darker half of the story as Joe's addiction starts to take a toll on her physical and mental health. We are also introduced to a few new characters and situations that Joe puts herself through. To begin, she decides to have sex with an African man who doesn't speak English. He shows up with his brother, and things get awkward and made me extremely uncomfortable; which is exaclty what Von Trier was going for. Shortly after, Joe visits a man named K (Jamie Bell) who specializes in BDSM, and whips her in order for her to satiate her addiction. Aside from Joe herself, K is probably one of the most interesting characters of the story primarily because of how little we know about him; when she asks him what he gets out of it he tells her not to ask that question, and he clearly has some sort of personality disorder based on his awkward mannerims and "profession". This character is subtly brought to life thanks to a great performance by Jamie Bell, and every scene with him is hard to watch, but fascinating simultaneously. The things Joe sacrifices in order to fulfill her sexual needs are devastating, and make for great drama. The religious and mythological overtones presented by Seligman and Von Trier (which make more sense this time around) are extremely smart and particularly interesting. The ending is brutal, yet provides Joe with a good moral to her seemingly inhuman character, and we're finally given a small sliver of pity for her; just in time for Von Trier to slap us in the face in the very last scene, reflecting the very title the movie concludes, which is The Depression Trilogy. Nymphomaniac is a completely out of the ordinary, yet completely believable story, and Lars Von Trier is one of the only directors who could breathe life into a seemingly bleak and lifeless subject. It's artistic, distutrbing, fascinating, and intriguing storytelling.

Nymphomaniac: Volume I
½

Lars Von Trier is one of the most artistic and fascinating filmmakers in recent memory. His "Depression Trilogy" ends here, with Nymphomaniac, an enormous four-hour movie (being divied into two parts) filled with profound and graphic sex scenes (I lost track of how many there were). We're shown various shots of both male and female genitalia, and artsy and metaphorical stories that intertwine. Charlotte Gainsbourg plays the adult "nymphomaniac", Joe, and Stacy Martin plays the younger Joe, both of whom give solid performances. Shia LaBeouf plays Joe's first love, and he plays an interesting character; perhaps the most interesting Joe has come across in her campaign of addictive sex. The parallel stories presented by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard) and Joe's matching metaphorical experiences is interesting, yet at the same time they feel a little forced. Rather than relying on symbolic imagery, Von Trier chooses to be as blunt as possible about it, through direct dialogue. It's not a bad choice, because it made it a little easier for me to understand, yet it might have been more bold of a choice for Von Trier to find a way to portray the metaphors he presents without being so up-front about them. All-in-all, Part 1 of Nymphomaniac took me by surprise with how graphic and daring the sex scenes were, making it a memorable and intriguing piece of cinema.

Chef
Chef(2014)

Jon Favreau directs and stars in a unique comedy-drama Chef. It touches upon the importance of social media, small businesses, and of course, cooking. I would look at Chef as the live-action adult version of Ratatouille: it's about a chef named Carl Casper (Favreau) who is the head chef of a renowned restauraunt. Like Ratatouile, it features a tough food critic who writes a tough review of Carl's food. Favreau's implentation of social media gives the movie a fresh take on the modern small business, being an essential tool to marketing. John Leguizamo plays his Sous chef and close friend, and the two share some funny dialogue; Chef provides plenty of funny lines to keep things light. The film's dramatic element invloves the relationship between Carl and his son, and it provides a balance which keeps the film going at a nice pace. There's plenty of mouth-watering food on-screen, constantly; Chef was the first movie that I can remember to make me pause the film and seek out a delicious treat for myself. Despite being potentially forgettable, it's a fresh and enjoyable movie.

The Theory of Everything

If it weren't for Eddie Redmayne's performance as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones' performance as his wife, Jane Wilde, The Theory of Everything wouldn't be half as good. The depiction of Hawking's physical deterioration thanks to Redmayne was well-worth the Oscar he won for it. By the end of the film, he's almost unrecognizable. Felicity Jones plays his loving wife, who also turns in a great performance. My problem with the film is understanding exactly what director James Marsh was aiming for: it focuses on their relationship while at the same time focusing on Hawking's revolutionary work. It was sad to see what actually happened to the love that began as an unbreakable force turn into something that lost it's spark. Hawking initially sets out to find an equation that allows him to reverse time so he could find the beginning. The final scene of the film mirrors that with his relationship with Jane. At first, I wasn't crazy about that scene, but I understand what they were going for: going in reverse to show us what Hawking's personal "beginning of time" was. The scene felt a bit sentimental, and perhaps a tad cliche, but it was cute. Maybe the ending of their relationship related to his final thesis: that time is boundless, and so are human beings. The performances and Hawking's final speech are more than enough to warrant a viewing here. I was definitely impressed.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

While it did get a few laughs out of me, Talladega Nights is one of Adam McKay's weaker films. It did feel like a one-note joke for the most part; Sacha Baron Cohen made up for most of what Will Ferrell surprisingly failed at. His self-righteous French persona is top-notch and, as always, a hilarious performance from Cohen. It isn't as much as the film being flawed as it is being hard to ignore the greatness of McKay's other films "Anchorman", "The Other Guys", and especially the comedy classic "Step Brothers".

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
½

The dialogue is funny, and it's style is highly original. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World doesn't take itself very seriously: this was especially evident when Scott Pilgrim (played by the always awkward but welcome Michael Cera) and his band open the concert by yelling "We are Sex Bob-Omb and we are here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff!" The soundtrack is great, and the movie has a teenage punk-rock type of vibe going on. The only problem here is the plot. Scott Pilgrim has to fight seven of his love interest's evil ex-boyfriends before he can claim her as his own. Although I'm aware the movie isn't supposed to be taken seriously, it's hard to ignore the extremely video game-like fight scenes; and there are six of them. It doesn't cripple the movie, but it was a little distracting for me. The title of the film is an analogy for the film's simple but inviting theme: believe in yourself, and fight for your desires.

Whiplash
Whiplash(2014)

From the very first time J.K. Simmons is on-screen to the very last moment, your heart rate will be higher than it should be. Every passing scene is more balls-to-the-wall intense than the last thanks to an intricate script, masterful cinematography/editing, and brilliant directing. The chemistry shared between actors Miles Teller, as an aspiring drummer, and his teacher, J.K. Simmons as his teacher, is an extremely rare treat. It's the kind of chemistry that is volatile, and hazardous; yet gripping, electrifying, and ultimately rewarding. Both actors turn in performances that will not be forgotten in the near future, if ever. Fletcher (Simmons) abuses Andrew Neyman (Teller) in every way imaginable, and the product is something that needs to be seen in order to be heard. Whiplash is the best movie of 2014, and is a perfect motion picture.

Last Action Hero
½

Arnold Schwarzenegger: A man of many talents. He's been named as Mr. Universe, the Governor of the State of California, but above all, a movie star. The Last Action hero is a celebration of not only movies, but of Arnold and his symbol as an action star. A young kid named Danny is given a magic movie ticket by a hermit movie theater projectionist. Danny adores the action movies he watches and is engrossed in them. The ticket, however, quite literally engrosses him inside the world of the action movie. While he's in the world of the narrative, he meets Jack Slater (played by Arnold). Danny confuses Jack by calling him Arnold Schwarzenegger, and from there on, the movie's writing is surprsingly thoughtful. Charles Dance is the villain in the world of the narrative, and he's his usual badass self. Between Arnold's signature one-liners and a cool concept, the movie is precisely that: cool, like the rest of Arnold's flicks.

Boogie Nights
½

I had high faith that Boogie Nights would be a great film, given Paul Thomas Anderson's impressive filmography: and I was not disappointed. He exposes the what goes on behind the camera in the porn industry which a majority of people who watch it are ignorant of. Anderson's knack for writing great characters is evident in Boogie Nights: from main protagonist and pornstar Dirk Diggler (Mark Whalberg), to Julianne Moore's preformance as an expiring actress to the loose canon drug dealer who comes into play towards the end (played by Alfred Molina). Between the interesting characters, the previously unexplored subject matter, and the gripping subplots weaving in seamlessly together makes for a well-written, memorable, and ultimately timeless film.

American Sniper
½

The first time I saw American Sniper, I thought it was great. Starring Bradley Cooper in his second best role (behind playing as Pat in Silver Linings Playbook), he not only packed on 40 pounds to prepare for this role, but he also never went out of character while filming. His performance in American Sniper is one of the main reasons it excels. It's intense, graphic, and shocking; this is not for the faint of heart. The raw war violence depicted here is high up in the ranks along with Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down. After seeing it once, I began to read up on who exactly Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in American history (the man Cooper portrays) really is. There are quite a few inaccuracies I discovered which were a little hard to shake while viewing it my second time around. Fictional drama, reality, it doesn't make much of a difference; the fact of the matter is that Chris Kyle was a true legend, and that idea is capitalized in the film with the power of Clint Eastwood's direction, making for a very well-rounded and compelling film.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
½

I went into this movie knowing it would be a fun spy-thriller. What I found it to be was immensely better than I had thought: Kingsman: The Secret Service has a truly funny sense of humor, highly stylized action, edge-of-your-seat moments, but above all: a perfect degree of self-awareness. In fact, a convesation between protagonist Harry Hart (played by the great Colin Firth, who handles his fighting sequences with grace) and the obnoxious and highly satirized villain, Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson, who is hard to take seriously due to his lisp, which only adds to the absurdity and self-parody concept of the film) directly addresses what the film is: a less serious version of a 007 film. The plot gets a little confusing towards the end, involving a micro-chip that Valentine plants in a select-group of important public figures and a free-for-everyone SIM card that he delivers to the public (both of which contribute to his "evil" plan). These two plot elements had a collateral effect, making it overly-confusing for a movie that isn't serious to begin with. Ultimately, this is a minor complaint for what makes up to be one hell of a good time. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun at the movies: Kingsman delivered, and then some.

Boyhood
Boyhood(2014)
½

The ambitious concept of director Richard Linklater's Boyhood is undoubtedly profound. It was filmed over the course of twelve years (it feels like a documentation as much as it feels a fictional drama), the actors noticeably age as the dichotomy of chaos and beauty known as adolecence gradually unfold before us. The characters are relatable, and the acting is spot-on, particularly from Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the parents of Mason, the center and anchor of the narrative. While it is a spectacle to see these actors and characters develop both physically and characteristically, the film just didn't feel particularly satisfying. This was likely because of a combination of the slightly overlong running time (2 hours and 45 minutes) and the low amount of entertainment value. Given the Oscar buzz and critical acclaim surrounding Boyhood, I found it relatively underwhelming. Boyhood is not a bad film by any means: in fact, it truly is an excellent depiction of growing up- I just couldn't find the spark that I was looking for in a film so grand.

The Royal Tenenbaums
½

One of Wes Anderson's older films is also one of his strongest. The Tenenbaum family begins with a promising future and eventually descends into separation and dysfunction. The cast is well rounded as a whole, with Gene Hackman, Gwenyth Paltrow, and Luke Wilson (in one of his strongest roles I've seen so far) striving in particular excellence. Accompanied by a great soundtrack, Wes Anderson's signature style is prominent here. The vibe of what seems to be a highly stylized New York is one of the many factors that will make The Royal Tenenbaums a particularly memorably film. It addresses the idea of families who are out of touch are often brought back together via tragedy, which can, in the end, make them stronger than ever.

The Signal
The Signal(2014)

Slow burning, yet ultimately satisfying sci-fi/ mystery.

The Wolf of Wall Street

One of the best and most entertaining movies of 2013. Leo and Jonah Hill are both incredible. Everyone is incredible. The three hours flew.

The Haunting
The Haunting(1999)

The quality of this movie can be viewed in a similar manner as a snowball effect: it gets progressively worse and worse.

V/H/S/2
V/H/S/2(2013)

Not nearly as good as the original.

Electrick Children

A fantastic indie movie, wonderfully executed. Loved the script.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
½

Painstakingly unique. Ralph Fiennes is at the top of his game. Wes Anderson tops his own Moonrise Kingdom.

300: Rise of an Empire

Decent popcorn entertainment.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

While Anchorman 2 does not contain many gut-busting moments, and the middle act fails to be nearly as exciting or humorous as the beginning or end, I found it to be quite hilarious and even more over-the-top than the original. Keep an eye out for plenty of great celebrity cameos.

Her
Her(2013)
½

Her is the type of movie that leaves you thinking, which is hard to come by nowadays. The high-concept premise sounds silly on paper, and sometimes it can appear to be so on-screen, but overall, Her was executed beautifully.

Prisoners
Prisoners(2013)

Prisoners is an extremely intelligent movie with a thematically rich backbone. The story is multi-layered and it takes some serious concentration and attention to fully understand the fleshed out story. Fantastic performances from Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, and Maria Bello: from Gyllenhaal's twitching to Jackman's realistic father-rage, the performances are Oscar nomination worthy, at least. The only problem I had was the feeling that the big twist at the end should have hit me a little harder. It's quite a twist, and it does come full circle and link everything together, but it just didn't click with me. Other than that, you rarely ever find movies this well-written. The screenplay is incredible.

Insidious: Chapter 2
½

Insidious 2 doesn't go to the scary and creepy extent that the first did, but I still had a good time. It's also significantly sillier, and I found myself laughing out loud on occasion. The story isn't worth paying much attention to, so just enjoy it for what it is, which is a collage of relatively scary and funny moments.

The Last of the Mohicans

The story is pretty generic, and it drags in the first two acts but the final act picks up in terms of emotion and set pieces. Definitely one of Michael Mann's weaker films.

The World's End

The team that made comedy classics Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are back with The World's End, a comedy that ends up being a lot more entertaining, fun, and heartfelt than it is funny. While it is good, it does not live up to the standards of the two previous films. The idea of a group of old childhood friends bar hopping between 12 bars in one night is a fun idea to toy with, and the twist about the town is great as well.

Elysium
Elysium(2013)
½

Matt Damon and Sharlto Copley are both great, and it's very nice to look at, but Elysium ultimately falls short of Neil Blomkamp's previous film District 9. The story is decent, but I can't help but feeling that the director sold himself out to Hollywood. There are also some plot holes, including the reason as to why they couldn't just put the healing bays on earth. Overall, it's worth seeing if you like science fiction.

Zodiac
Zodiac(2007)
½

I went into this knowing that the Zodiac killer was never found, so I assumed the ending would be unfulfilling, with the cops at a dead end. I was wrong. David Fincher handles the source material incredibly well, and I was shocked to find the ending to be as satisfying as it was. Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo play as the team of cops and journalists that struggle to stay on the Zodiac's trail. The murder scenes are tense and the dialogue scenes in between are well-written and interesting. It's not a fast paced film, but it does pay off in the end. Really liked this one.

Liar Liar
Liar Liar(1997)

Liar Liar is easily one of Jim Carrey's most over-the-top performances. The premise of a lawyer not being able to tell a lie for 24 hours because his son made it his birthday wish is clearly an implausible one, but if you can put that aside, you're in for a funny and sweet movie. Carrey is always fun to watch. It takes a good 45 minutes for things to get really good, but final act is fantastic movie magic.

Only God Forgives

After 2011's Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn had set himself a bar that would be difficult to top. His newest film Only God Forgives (also featuring Ryan Gosling) is not even a good attempt to come even close to the same quality as Drive. It's about an American named Julian who runs a boxing club in Thailand. His brother is killed by a cop, and so his overly explicit mother comes to guide Julian into finding his brother's killer and satisfying her vengeful emotions. Julian is the most odd character that Gosling has played yet: even quieter than his role in Drive, and more erratically violent. The character is essentially a psychopath. There is no character development whatsoever, let alone an emotional attachment of any kind to be found here. Only God Forgives is an empty vessel of sleek style and colors with no substance. A sports car with no engine to drive it. To a point, this movie is a failure, but it isn't a complete failure; it's filmed beutifully and the action scenes are thrilling. While I loved Drive's unusually quiet characters, Refn takes that concept to a whole 'nother level in Only God Forgives. The actors slowly turn around as if to make things more dramatic, but the only dramatic element of this film is how distanced I felt from the story and characters.

The Conjuring

Demonic posessions have been the subject of countless horror movies, but they're usually not done very well. The Conjuring is an exception: not only is it a well-done demon movie, it's a very effective horror flick. It's creepy/scary, and it's also got a good story behind it all. These two components are rarely found together in a horror movie. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are particularly good as two "demonologists" (aka ghost hunters). It's not the scariest movie I've ever seen, but in a year dry of any good horror movies, The Conjuring was very enjoyable and downright insane.

Kumaré
Kumaré(2012)

Kumare is a solid documentary that challenges peoples' need to follow. Vikram, the man who becomes Kumare proves that people do not need a religion or cult or even another person to follow because we can all be our own leaders and control our own destinies. He does this by calling himself a guru from India, when in fact he is an American from New Jersey. It's a very good idea for a documentary, and it's well executed.

Watchmen
Watchmen(2009)
½

When I first saw Watchmen in the theater, I did not like it. It seemed too long and loosely connected. A few years later, I rewatched the director's cut and now I see why it's so great. The style is unique, the action isn't too over-the-top (for a comic book movie) and the story (the most important thing in this case) is actually very good. It's extremely rare nowadays to find a comic book movie with a well-written script. This film is nothing like today's Marvel movies. It's got class, and a dark sense of style. The only thing wrong with it is the makeup on the actor that plays Richard Nixon, and the actor himself. He looks and sounds like a comedically exaggerated version of Nixon, which does not match the tone of the movie. The three hour length did feel a little excessive at times, but maybe it was the very fact that it was so long made the emotional ending punch harder. Great performances from everyone as well, especially from Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan and Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach.

Rain Man
Rain Man(1988)

Both funny and interesting, Rain Man is a good film. Dustin Hoffman steals it with his insanely good performance as a sort of alternatively autistic man who is good with big numbers but bad with basic things like speaking and socializing. A very young Tom Cruise is also great.

Behind the Candelabra
½

Matt Damon's performance deserves to win awards, and Michael Douglas' as Liberace should even more so. It feels nothing like a TV movie, it's very cinematic and stylish. Great cinematography and music as well. The ending is an emotional and bravura ending, the best I've seen in quite some time. It's the type of ending that would get a standing ovation. The only issue I had with this film was that it dragged on a bit in the middle. Still, it's totally worth seeing, mainly for the wildly great performances it's perfection of an ending. Brilliant.

Jackie Brown
Jackie Brown(1997)

Jackie Brown is, in my opinion, Quentin Tarantino's weakest film. Tarantino's characters are typically ultra-interesting, written with genius dialogue, but I found myself completely uninterested in any of the dialogue, and even less in the characters. Particularly the female protagonist (played by Pam Grier) and the character Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson), who seemed like a dumber version of his part in Pulp Fiction. The plot is just about people chasing a large sum of money; something Tarantino has more or less visited before, but it's just not as smartly done this time. It has his signature style, but it's not as jumpy and energetic as it usually is. I just didn't connect with this film at all.

An American Crime

Ellen Page is great, and Catherine Keener does alright, but she just doesn't fit the role of someone so abusive. It's a relatively harsh and emotional story, but with that being said, not much can be made of it other than "abuse is bad", which is common sense. It's not a well-written movie. It's obvious that the writer figured the true events themselves would be good enough for viewers, but sometimes you need to bend the truth a little to accomodate proper film values, and An American Crime seems to ignore those values.

World War Z
World War Z(2013)

This movie doesn't deserve to have the name of it's book attached to it. Even if this weren't based on a book that's completely different, it would still be an abysmal movie. We know almost nothing about the characters, and there is literally no character development; it's that lazily scripted. For a movie that's as loud, over-the-top, and relentless as this, I was yawning and bored. The best parts were when the zombies looked particularly dumb in terms of their movements and looks: another thing about a good zombie movie is that the zombies are supposed to be animalistic but intelligent at the same time. Here, they were flat-out stupid. The film is not scary, personal, or human enough. There are very few moments where it actually stops to take a breath, and that's exactly why it's a complete and utter failure. This movie should be called "How to Badly Waste $200 Million for Dummies".

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Only the die hard potheads will really like this sequel. It's mostly funny for the first hour or so, but after that it gets way too far-fetched and over-the-top. The original is definitely better.

Cashback
Cashback(2007)

This is pretty underrated. Even though it's a simple movie, the style is fresh and so is the direction. I also found it hilarious, especially regarding the protagonist's co-workers. It was relatable to see kids work in such an environment, which made it even more engaging and funny for me. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone in the late teens/early adult phase. Even though the message has been touched upon before, Cashback was a fresh take on beauty and love.

For the Bible Tells Me So
½

A moving and emotional documentary about gays and their place in the Bible. It's scary but essential to witness how many people blindly follow Christianity and it's Bible.

This Is the End
½

The idea of the actors playing themselves is creative and original. The movie is thoroughly entertaining and funny, but not as laugh-out-loud funny as last summer's hit comedy Ted. The cast is great and the ending was excellent as well, but I couldn't help but feeling a little let down... while original comedies are indeed rare (and I do appreciate this for being so original), it's even more rare to find a comedy that makes me consistently laugh-out-loud. Perhaps my expectations were set a bit high. This isn't to say I wouldn't recommend it, because I would, as long as you're not expecting big laughs. I'd recommend it for it's great cast, originality, and spirit.

Submarine
Submarine(2011)

Submarine is an original and great piece of filmmaking with stylish editing and interesting, funny characters. Oliver Tate's narration is often well-delivered, genius-writing, as is most of the script. I loved the metaphor and allegory between Oliver living on a tall hill versus him feeling submerged under the issues with his girlfriend and parents. I also loved the imagery and importance of light versus darkness. Debuting director Richard Ayoade displays a high awareness of sound, and uses it perfectly. There are a few moments where the editing cuts rapidly and the sound is going crazy, where in other scenes, there is no sound at all. The ending is one of those endings that may hold deep meaning, but unfortunately it doesn't satisfy. If the final 20 or 30 minutes was of equal quality to the rest of the film, it would probably be a perfect film; but overall, It feels fresh, looks fresh, and sounds fresh.

Red
Red(2010)
½

Red is best at being funny. There were some parts that made me laugh out loud, which I haven't done while watching a movie in a long time. Bruce Willis and John Malkovich do some pretty funny stunts, and the action is funny as well. The only thing about Red that isn't up to par with everything else is the story. I found myself not caring or even trying to pay much attention after a while. If you can look at it strictly as a comedy, you'll find a lot to like.

Unknown
Unknown(2011)
½

The film starts out being intriguing with a solid grip on mystery and suspense, but unfortunately, the script gets ridiculously sloppy in the final act. It's almost like the writers were writing it as they went along, without having any sort of endgame in mind, and when they arrived at that endgame, they threw something together quickly and lazily. It's a shame because the premise [a man (Liam Neeson)'s identity is completely taken over by another man, whom everyone believes] had potential to be a seriously great mystery film. I also don't know what to think of Neeson himself in Unknown... it's "unknown" whether the director was being lazy or he was.

(A)Sexual
(A)Sexual(2013)

This was an informative documentary on a movement that very few people are aware of. It was interesting to see people who are completely uninterested in sex live their lives. I was a little confused as far as the subcategories of the orientation, because there are so many of them. Like most documentaries, it's presented nicely and the people that are interviewed are uninteresting for the sake of being interesting (if that makes any sense). You would just have to watch this to understand what I mean exactly. All in all, it's a solid documentary on a very curious subject.

Redemption
Redemption(2004)
½

The story about the man who started gang violence and the Crips gang, named Stan "Tookie" Williams, is definitely shaky, but still good. If the film had a bigger budget, a more present soundtrack, and was written a few years later, it would have been Oscar-material. You can tell this was filmed very cheaply, but that's not much of a problem. The biggest problem is the ending, which was left running a tad dry. It's even more agonizing to know that Tookie died in prison only a year after this film's release, which means had the filmmakers waited a while, they could have incorporated a deep and emotionally rich ending. Of course, nobody knew that would have happened, so you can't place the blame on anyone. Jamie Foxx is good, but he's not going to win over any awards. Tookie is an interesting character though; it's always a treat to watch an intellectual speak out and declare what he thinks right and wrong. Even though the film has it's shortcomings, it's still a good film, considering the budget it was made on.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
½

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the most unique, funny, and entertaining characters ever created in cinema history and the British occupied Caribbean setting is beautiful and rarely seen in film. The story about the pirates and their curse is actually well-written for a blockbuster, the sets look amazing, the ships look completely authentic, and it's just so much fun. The special effects are fantastic for a movie that's already a decade old. I have to admit, if it weren't for Johnny Depp, it wouldn't even be half as good, but the fact that he is there makes all other aspects of the movie (including Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann's love story) even better. See it with booming and huge speakers on a huge screen and you'll have a great time. Pirates of the Caribbean is everything a good blockbuster should be, and is.

Star Trek Into Darkness

This Star Trek sequel is overflowing with expensive special effects and a by-the-books Hollywood script. Movies like this have been done hundreds of times before. The ending was predictably over-happy and the twist at the end is when the writers try to fool the audiences into caring for the characters, but it didn't get passed me. The special effects were amazing, as expected from a J.J. Abrams film, but special effects can only get you so far in terms of making a movie better. It may look nice, but it's completely empty and unoriginal. The only decent thing about this film is Benedict Cumberbatch as Kahn (the villain). Other than that, it was extremely similar to the 2009 Star Trek, which is sad considering that J.J. Abrams has always been a great and original filmmaker. Into Darkness is too fancy and too serious for it's own good.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.
½

I absolutely loved this movie. The structure of the plot is definitely similar to other romantic comedies, but the narrative itself is so smartly written, and the actors play their parts so incredibly well that it's impossible not to love this film. Steve Carell, one of my all time favorite comedic actors, alongside Ryan Gosling, one of my all time favorite actors, period, are too fun and funny to watch together. Emily (played by Julianne Moore) decides to separate from her husband, Cal (Carell), after being unhappy for many years. Cal treks to a bar where he drunkenly lets everyone know about his problems. He is noticed by the lady connoisseur, Jacob Palmer (played by Ryan Gosling). Jacob decides to help Cal with his problems by spiffing up his clothes and confidence. There are other plot-lines involving Cal's son and a girl that Jacob takes a particular liking to (played by Emma Stone), but I'm not going to give anything away about them. About 90 minutes in, there is what I can only describe as one of the biggest "WTF" moments of my movie-watching career. Crazy, Stupid, Love is an extremely well-done romantic comedy filled with hilarious moments, great performances, and an extremely satisfying script.

500 Days of Summer

This is the best romance film I've seen in a long time. The script is oftentimes brutally down-to-earth and honest, yet leaves you with a strong sense of hope. I also think it's impossible to walk away from this movie in a bad mood. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom, a man looking for love. He meets Summer (played by Zooey Deschanel) who likes him, but specifically says she's not looking for a relationship. As expected, Tom falls for her and things get a little ugly. This isn't a spoiler, as the film is formatted in such a way that you specifically know things end up falling apart eventually between the two. I loved the film's style: from homages to old black-and-white films to useful and effective narration to fresh and intuitive editing. The ending is also the best ending I've seen in a VERY long time, and leaves you floating in the idea that nothing is a coincidence, and if it was "meant to be", you'd know it instantly.

The Iceman
The Iceman(2013)

I've always been interested in New Jersey's notorious serial killer Richard Kuklinski (known as The Iceman). He was a killer for the mafia who practiced brutal methods of murder on his over 200 victims (the film claims over 100, but it was estimated that he killed over 200). One of those methods was tying up men in caves and allowing rats to eat him alive while he videotaped it. He was known for using cyanide and knives on most of his victims, yet in the film, he is shown using mostly guns (Kuklinski stated in one of his interviews that he didn't like to use guns). The film also did not show how the cops figured out Kuklinski was freezing the bodies (one of the frozen bodies he left on the side of the road was not thawed out long enough). I felt like the film was only half as brutal as he actually was, as a murderer. Michael Shannon did a fantastic job of portraying him; while he may not look like him in his younger days, he looks very similar to him in his later interviews and in voice as well. I wouldn't be surprised if Shannon was nominated for an Oscar for his role. Winona Ryder is also great as his wife, and Chris Evans is great as his partner Robert Pronge. It seems like Ray Liotta is the default mafia leader at this point in his career, and it was actually a little distracting that he played out that stereotype the exact same way, yet again. I also felt very little for any of the characters, which was a little disappointing. At 105 minutes, I think the film should have been longer as well; there were too many big aspects of Kuklinski's life that weren't covered including his childhood, his introduction to killing, and the various methods of homicide he practiced. On the good side, the ending was powerful, there was an amazing scene where Kuklinski and Pronge murder a guy in the middle of a dance floor, and of course Michael Shannon himself. Overall, I felt like a lot more could have been done on the writing side, but Shannon was just enough to save the film from completely collapsing.

Half Nelson
Half Nelson(2006)

Half Nelson has a very good story with some great performances, especially from the always-incredible Ryan Gosling. It's about a schoolteacher who teaches poor kids in a city slum, and the teacher (played by Ryan Gosling) happens to be a crack addict. He develops a relationship with one of his students who gets herself involved with things Dan Dunne (the teacher) would rather her not get involved in. Eventually, their secret lives collide, and it's an amazing thing to see, topped by a nicely fitting soundtrack. The film is very discrete in the way it unfolds the truths about each of it's characters, but it managed to keep me interested all the way through thanks to Gosling's great performance. There's also a lot of deep and valuable meaning hidden underneath Mr. Dunne's teachings, and also in the very last scene. Overall, Half Nelson is a very well-written and wonderfully-acted movie. Final Score: 8.5.

The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrman's adaptation of The Great Gatsby turns out to be more of a visceral and aesthetically pleasing experience than it is in terms of emotional depth or writing. I was surprisingly alright and satisfied with the way it turned out, because I remember reading the book in high school and not liking it too much. Baz Luhrman's interpretation of the 1920's is grand and creative, especially with the soundtrack. Jay-Z took charge of the soundtrack, and he uses modern pop/hip-hop and adds a 20's jazzy feel to them. This was an extremely risky move to pull, considering the film is based on an American classic novel. I thought it was an extremely well-made choice; the music just works, and it gives younger audiences a chance to connect with the parties that are shown in a more modern and personal way, without completely ignoring the 20's music. There's one scene where characters are in Gatsby's mansion discussing matters, and you can hear the thumping of the music from outside. This was odd considering that such powerful bass did not exist in the 20's; it's almost as if the music itself was ficitonalized and intruding in on the narrative, as if it were a character of it's own. The special effects range from noticably fake-looking to grand and pleasing to look at. Overall, it contributes to the unique and creative vibe of the film. The story itself is great and the symbolism of the green light is perfectly implemented into the film. Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as Gatsby is not his best, but it's certainly a great one, as is Tobey Maguire's as Nick Carraway. The way Gatsby is introduced is totally badass and matches his character. The dialogue ranged from cheesy and poorly written to quotable and fantastic (especially from Gatsby himself). I also found some odd sound editing issues, where the actors were being shown from a not-too-far distance, and their lips not matching the spoken lines. The production is a little uneven in terms of quality, but it's so pleasurable to look at and get lost in. I was very happy that I made the choice to see it in 2D versus the overpriced and gimmicky 3D, which I can tell it would have been. You don't need cheap plastic glasses to appreciate the visuals. The parties are as grand as you could possibly imagine, and watching them makes you jealous of the ones who were able to attend. Even if The Great Gatsby is a little sloppy, it's irresistible.

Trailer Park Boys: The Movie
½

It's good, as long as you're a fan of the show. The show is an acquired taste, so if you don't understand it's sense of humor beforehand, you won't like it here. The writing is a little weak, but it's the characters and actors that bring the show to life, and give it a unique style. You can't find a character like Mike Smith's "Bubbles" anywhere else. With Canadian accents to top it all off, I enjoyed the Trailer Park Boys movie, but only because I'm a big fan of the show.

The Purple Rose of Cairo

Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo is a fresh and creative idea that celebrates the very idea of film escapism. A poor woman living in New Jersey named Cecilia goes to the movies every week to escape from her hectic job as a waitress, when one day, one of the characters from the film "notices" she appeared at the theater to see his film five times. He steps off the screen and goes with her into the real world. It's a cool concept, and it's done with heart and a clear love for movies. Despite this movie being filmed in 1985, it seems like Woody Allen directed the actors in such a way to make them act like they were in a movie from the 30's (which is when the film takes place). So it seems like you're watching a movie that is much older than it actually is, which is interesting but comedic at the same time. When the fictional movie character fights Cecilia's husband, it's clear that Allen was tributing the now cheesy style of old black and white films. The ending further capitalizes on the idea of people escaping to the movies when things get bad, or when we make bad decisions. Like alcoholics drink alcohol to forget their problems, as drug addicts do drugs, Cecilia (along with the normal people in society) uses movie theaters as an escape- and what a beautiful escape it is.

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)

This big hunk of 200 million dollar metal conforms to the Hollywood expectations by having a brainless, generic, and by-the-books screenplay. The series is no longer the only "good" series out of the Avengers, and is now just as bad as Thor and Captain America. The charm that Robert Downey Jr. gives to the role can only help him so much this time around because the characters sharp and cunning wit has mostly worn off. Guy Pearce's character is a one-dimensional and completely ununique villain; in fact, he's painfully cheesy, as is most of the script. Yes, the special effects are nice, and yes, the technology is cool, but what does that matter at this point? The action has been done time, after time, after time before and I'm not impressed by "cool" anymore. The 3D was completely pointless and it was bluntly obvious that the producers threw it on to make more money. There was only a single thing about Iron Man 3 that I found surprising and original and that was the twist with Ben Kingsley's character "The Mandarin" (the other villain). I couldn't tell if director/writer Shane Black knew he was making a bad film so he threw that twist in to further make fun of himself, or he was plainly making fun of generic villains. Either way, I was amused by that. Robert Downey Jr. also put in a good effort, despite his character who was not as vain or amusing as he was in the previous two films. I gave up trying to like this film as soon as Guy Pearce started breathing fire. Watching this was like chewing on an old piece of gum. It took me a while to realize just how bad it was, but it was pretty damn bad. I'm not only disappointed by this threequel but angry (which is very rare) that Shane Black and his greedy Hollywood producers have ruined what was one of the last good blockbuster franchises. Shame on them, and I mean that wholeheartedly.

Senna
Senna(2011)

I found myself very disconnected from Senna, even at the end. It's difficult for a documentary to make the audience care about the subject matter, let alone a niche subject matter such as racing. Had I cared more about racing or Ayrton Senna himself, I would have loved this documntary- but I don't, and it's as simple as that. It's a well executed and constructed documentary, but I found myself not caring very much about the outcome or the message it was trying to send.

This Must Be The Place
½

This Must Be The Place is a calm, easygoing, and strangely amusing movie with a calm, easygoing, and strangely amusing performance from Sean Penn. He's never played a character like this before: Cheyenne, a retired rock star living in Dublin who has a slow and quiet giggle, or snicker, if you will. His journey to find the Nazi officer who humiliated his father, a victim of the Holocaust, is filled with character and meaning. I left the film with the idea that sometimes you need to do things that you're affraid of to bring change and new, exciting things into your life. The soundtrack is great, the performances are great, and it's a film that favors substance over style.

The Godfather
½

The Godfather is a great movie that innovated the crime genre. It has a great story which (for a nearly 3 hour movie) moves quickly. We are brought close to the professional and personal lives of these mafia men, and when we see some of them gunned down, it's relatively hard-hitting. This was an innovation at the time: for a mafia film to bring us emotionally close to the characters. Perhaps the most shocking scene in the film (not to spoil anything) ends with a car riddled in machine gun bullets. Marlon Brando's performance as Don Vito Corleone can be seen as one of the most iconic performances/roles in film history: it is Brando transformed, and he's fun to quote back to. Like any movie that is labeled with such a "legendary" status, The Godfather is a tad overrated; but still very good nonetheless thanks to it's great story, performances, and iconic scenes.

Safety Not Guaranteed
½

Safety Not Guaranteed is a perfect example of a charming and ultra entertaining indie film. Every performance is great, especially Mark Duplass as an eccentric named Kenneth, who believes he has the ability to travel back in time. He is approached by Darius (played by Aubrey Plaza of "Parks and Recreation"), an intern at a magazine business, who's task is to get close to him and figure out what his deal is. The chemistry and dialogue between Plaza and Duplass sparkles with charm, and the ending is so perfect. Even though it's a little short (only 85 minutes), I found myself rooting for Kenneth and Darius like crazy, which is impressive for a film bearing such a short running time. I could not recommend this film more: Safety Not Guaranteed is a shining star example of originality and freshness in an era dominated by big-budgeted sequels.

Lars and the Real Girl
½

A brilliant and heartful little film starring Ryan Gosling who gives his most different and odd performance of his career. He plays a man named Lars who is a brutally awkward and anti-social loner. Gosling's little mannerisms are what make this performance so unique and memorable: from his odd way of blinking to his funny way of turning people down in conversations, it's an Oscar-worthy performance. One day, his co-worker introduces him to a website that sells life-sized sex dolls. He orders one and goes into a delusional state where he believes the doll (who he names Bianca) is his girlfriend who can talk like any other person. At first, like all the other characters in the film, I thought the presence of the doll was hilarious and of course extremely weird. As the film went on, I found myself getting so used to it (or should I say her?) being around, just like the characters in the movie did. I loved the entire film, and was not only highly entertained, but it also left me in a great mood.

Mud
Mud(2013)
½

An incredible story that's beautifully shot with an all-around amazing cast. Matthew McConaughey plays Mud, a Southern fugitive on the run for a crime he committed in order to protect his girlfriend Juniper's (Reese Witherspoon) honor. He is aided by two local boys named Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), both of whom are fine young actors, especially Sheridan. McConaughey plays his part very well: he looks like a neanderthal with his chipped teeth, often-open mouth, and scruffy face. The story takes it's time in getting you to know and care for the characters, and by the time the final act approached, I was deeply engaged in the film. It's a film about loving even when we have every reason not to, and it's done beautifully.

Valhalla Rising

From the director of Drive and Bronson is Nicholas Winding Refn's Valhalla Rising. It's a challenging and intriguing film about old time Christians and Vikings, but mainly it's about violence, hatred, and a whole lot of other things that are difficult to sort out. The imagery and cinematography are beautiful, and the visions that main character "One-Eye" has hold symbolism and metaphor. There are many brutally violent scenes: something I've come to realize Refn does very well in all of his films. Valhalla Rising is a great example of the "show, don't tell" style of filmmaking, which is rare nowadays. While it is a very different and original film, I found myself estranged from the latter parts of the film and whatever it was Refn was trying to tell us at the end. It's certainly not an easy film to interpret. See it for the creative violence and imagery, but don't expect to be spoon-fed the message of the story.

As Good as It Gets

This is a great film anchored by some very enjoyable dialogue and characters, and of course Jack Nicholson. He plays a writer named Melvin who falls for a single mom/ waitress named Carol. The best scenes are in which Nicholson develops a friendship with his neighbor's dog, Verdell, who turns him from a grumpy old man into a big softie. It ends nicely, and with a great message.

Punch-Drunk Love
½

Yet another knockout film from the brilliant Paul Thomas Anderson. The thing that shocked me the most was Adam Sandler's strange but realistic performance as a lonely man with a wide range of emotions. There are times when Barry (played by Sandler) is calm and serene, and within seconds he's trashing a bathroom with all his mighty anger. This bi-polar character is by far the most interesting and well-acted performance of his career. It's amazing how quickly things go bad for Barry, starting when he calls a phone-sex line that turns from uncomfortably awkward to uncomfortably scary: and this is the main conflict of Punch-Drunk Love. That, and along with the fact that he has a woman named Lena (played by Emily Watson) that shows a deep interest in him, but he's so socially awkward that he has trouble communicating his feelings with her. It's so fun and entertaining to see Sandler struggle to form a relationship with this woman, and it's oftentimes hilarious. Some would call this film "weird" or "strange", which it is: but that's a genuinely fantastic thing nowadays, since most love stories are generic and conventional, with little conflict and little oddity. Add a weird but great soundtrack and you get a highly original and unique film with an unparalleled vibe.

Trance
Trance(2013)

Danny Boyle has a very distinguishable style he uses in all of his films, and it is certainly going strong again in his latest film "Trance". The cinematography is fantastic, as usual, the acting is great, and the visuals and screenplay are hallucinatory. The film starts out intriguingly, with main character Simon (played by James McAvoy) explaining the procedure and steps taken to protect a piece of art when there is an attempt being made to steal one. I found it interesting in this beginning sequence that McAvoy spoke directly to the camera, and often stared right at it: that's a very interesting technique of Boyle having the fictional main character speak directly to the audience who are watching his "act". This is something I've never seen before in film: directly and purposely breaking the boundary between the world of the narrative and the world of the audience. Unfortunately, this interesting technique quickly ends and we are thrown a countless number of twists to the point where keeping up the first time through is nearly impossible. Like Inception, Trance is a film that needs to be seen again and again to properly understand and to discover new things within each succeeding viewing. I was potently confused by the plot, which is a problem... until future viewings, that is.

The Place Beyond The Pines

Many critics are saying Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines" is over-ambitious: they are so wrong. Cianfrance had the gall to make something this big, which is a 140 minute, epic-formatted, genius-scripted, brilliantly shot, and powerfully acted drama that feels like a classic. Ryan Gosling's performance as Luke Glanton can easily be held in the same light as his in Drive and Cianfrance's previous film (which also starred Gosling) Blue Valentine. Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn, Dane DeHaan, and Ray Liotta all hand in (at least) Oscar-nomination-worthy performances as well. If anyone, Ben Mendelsohn would be the one to win an Oscar: he gives what is possibly the most realistic performance of all. The duality of perfectly written characters who are brought to the screen by a cast of highly skilled and dedicated actors gives the film a rare feeling of raw reality: that people like this do exist, events like this have happened, and they will continue to do so. I was so engrossed and arrested into the film that I forgot I was sitting in a theater watching one: I did not think for a second that what I was seeing was fake or scripted, and I felt for these characters who are all extremely flawed in their own ways. The moody nostalgia (especially felt in the third act) is strongly enhanced by the powerful original score as well. Another thing that makes this film feel like a classic is it's perfectly paced format: three noticeably distinct acts that all feel like their own movies and smoothly link together to feel like a grand trilogy. The ending is amazing and capitalizes on themes of family rivalry, fate, and legacy. Never before have I been so absorbed into a moviegoing experience: it did not feel like there was a screen, people watching it, or 140 minutes going by: just me and the experience. It feels like a classic film, and in my book, it is the very definition of one. I did not complain about a single aspect of this film: it is quite literally perfection. It is the best film I've seen in quite a while, and it's going to take quite a bit to top it this year. You could not "escape to the movies" any more than with The Place Beyond the Pines.

Cosmopolis
Cosmopolis(2012)
½

"A man rises on a word and falls on a syllable."
Cosmopolis addresses some interesting ideas such as the reasoning behind money and capitalism, and my personal favorite: the notion of destruction being a form of creativity. The performances here are strange: a lot of the lines seem like they were read off of paper and some of the actors sound monotone. I got used to this after a while, since the world in which we see in Cosmopolis is different and strange to begin with. Even some of the plot comes out of nowhere and goes completely unexplained. Although the ending was confusing, it was ambiguous and left me thinking, so it gets a whole lot of credit for doing something different. This is unconventional filmmaking in a bit sloppy, albeit good form.

Spring Breakers
½

It's sad to see so much confusion and negativity when it comes to Harmony Korine's new shocking and hypnotic film Spring Breakers. It may appear to be another "Project X" with no meaning other than "let's party", but there is a lot more than meets the eye here. What I took from it is that there are consequences, often severe ones, to every action, and sometimes you just have to let out all of your craziness before proceeding with anything morally "good". James Franco stars in what is by far his most strange, otherworldly, and "alien"-like performance of his career as a money-driven gangster who calls himself Alien. He's really fun to watch and quote back. The soundtrack is absolutely sublime as well: the songs are perfectly chosen and the original score is moody and atmospheric. The film is also very colorful and vibrant, partially in-thanks to the Florida location. I went into this film expecting some pretty crazy material, but what I found was even crazier- I would rather not spoil just how crazy it is, because that's one of the things that makes Spring Breakers so fun to watch: the shock factor. And it's not like the characters portrayed here by Franco and actresses Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens do not exist... Alien claims he's "not from this planet, ya'll," but people like him are indeed here on this planet, and that's one of the many reasons this film exists, to show the public what society can look like, as if holding up a mirror to it. There is something strangely poetic about James Franco playing the piano and singing a Britney Spears song while girls dance around him wielding assault rifles: perhaps because it is treated like poetry. Korine knows exactly what he's doing and what he's trying to say here: he is very smart about this. I really enjoyed Spring Breakers- it kept me entertained and kept me thinking way after the credits rolled.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
½

It takes quite a while for things to get going in this 2 hour and 45 minute epic, but once it does, it's great and entertaining. This was especially true when Andy Serkis returned as Gollum, and as usual my jaw dropped from the character's unparalleled personality, and of course, Serkis' avant-garde performance. The special effects are pretty amazing, but I sometimes had a feeling that there were too many of them. In the original trilogy, Jackson used so many extras and had an unrelenting persistence and emphasis on makeup: here in The Hobbit, you can tell most of the "monsters", if you will, are completely computer-generated. It sort of takes away from the authenticity and reminds you that Jackson went for the conventional big-budget Hollywood approach, when the original trilogy was quite the opposite. Other than the actual figures, the landscapes and vistas are just as breathtaking as they were in the original trilogy, if not more so. Middle-Earth still feels alive thanks to the beautiful photography. In the end, it was the references and throwbacks to the original trilogy that made the first installment of The Hobbit good. Howard Shore returned to do the score, and he includes some of the classic old material that reminded me of the original trilogy while at the same time incorporating new work that helped give the film it's own relatively distinct feel. The best part of the film, by far, is the final hour when Gollum plays a "game of riddles" with young Bilbo Baggins, and I was surprised and very pleased to see the involvement of The Ring itself. Although the slow-burning plot and Hollywood-feel retracts any hope of it being even close to as good as the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a solid effort to revitalize the Middle-Earth franchise.

Training Day
Training Day(2001)
½

Training Day is a decent film, but let's not deny the main thing keeping it afloat is Denzel. Ethan Hawke doesn't seem like a cop at all, and the script hardly gets you invested in any of the characters. This is not to say it wasn't entertaining: some of the scenes are really tense, particularly in the first half, but the intelligent script starts to wear off later on. Luckily, it does manage to hold together all of it's great themes until the very end. If you're looking for a good corrupted cop movie, L.A. Confidential is better, but Training Day is still worth checking out for Denzel Washington's strong performance.

Beginners
Beginners(2011)

I really liked the presentation and editing of Beginners, as well as the music and performances. Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, and Melanie Laurent were all great. I loved the whole "This is 2003. This is what the sun looked like, and the stars, and the president." Even though I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to take away from that, I like it because it's different and original. I really liked the scenes between McGregor and Laurent's characters when they first meet at a costume party, which were the best scenes in the film. The odd thing about Beginners is the tone: it constantly switches from being really uplifting and positive to utterly depressing and bleak. I guess that's the entire point though, for the viewer to decide if the events of the film are good or bad. It doesn't try to shove ideas and thoughts in your face, but instead calmly asks you to think about it. It's a nice change of pace compared to most other romantic dramas.

Magnolia
Magnolia(1999)

This is a wildly great, if lengthy film of films directed by the great Paul Thomas Anderson. Clocking in at 3 hours and 8 minutes, you would expect there to be plenty of scenes that should have been cut; but no, many could have been cut but none of them should have been. The premise is pretty much a bunch of extremely dramatic stories thrown into one film, and they are all very interesting. The stories are only made better by the incredible performances driving them: it is excruciatingly rare for a film to have this many universally amazing performances. The best of them all would have to be Tom Cruise as an eccentric motivational speaker, who slowly unravels into the most broken of men in a single two-minute scene between him and his father. This is by far the best performance I've ever seen Cruise pull off. The film is overflowing with meaning and metaphor, and I think it would be impossible to fully understand and take everything in the first time around; after all, it's a three-hour film. Magnolia demands repeated viewings and is propelled by a hugely successful set of performances, a nice soundtrack, original writing, and genuinely interesting stories.

End of Watch
End of Watch(2012)
½

From Jake Gyllenhaal's opening monologue to the very last frame, End of Watch had me gripped. Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña play two cops who patrol the extremely dangerous streets of South Central, Los Angeles. The movie is filmed partially with a hand-cam, and at times this feels a little forced, considering more than one characters happen to be carrying hand-cams on-screen at the same time. With that aside, this film succeeds so well mainly because of it's kinetic and charged leads (who also show a surprisingly great amount of emotion), shock factor (some of the things these guys run into are real and will blow your mind), and overflowing amount of entertainment; also, the soundtrack is awesome and fitting. In the end, End of Watch is a compelling, gripping, and is an honest look as to why some cops behave the way they behave, and I have garnered a greater amount of respect for them because of it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This was a great movie: I loved Ezra Miller's performance and Logan Lerman and Hermione Granger (I mean Emma Watson) were both great too. The music was great, the final act was awesome, thanks to a surprising and solid twist, and it just had so many memorable scenes (particularly the "tunnel song" and "living room routine" scenes). It's very sentimental, but that turns out to be a good thing. The only thing that I could complain about is that some of the dialogue could have used some fine-tuning, and I didn't think the depiction of high school was very accurate. The film shows kids being badly bullied, every day, and to be honest, that's more of a middle school thing, wherein this film is about high school: just a little off, but not enough to completely ruin the movie. Ultimately, The Perks of Being a Wallflower was consistently entertaining and leaves the viewer with sentimentality and heart in mind.

The Master
The Master(2012)

Before seeing Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, I had heard that it was extremely weird, extremely confusing, but with spectacular acting. For the most part, I agree with that opinion: however, I found myself understanding what the film was trying to get across. To start, the film is (supposedly) loosely based on the origins of Scientology and follows the events of a World War II veteran named Freddie Quell. Freddie is played by Joaquin Phoenix, and his performance is supercharged to the max with emotion and character, and is a perfect demonstration of what Phoenix can do. Freddie stumbles upon a man named Lancaster Dodd, who is the leader of a "religious" movement known in the film as "The Cause" (supposedly based on Scientology). If I remember correctly, the film never acknowledges the word "religion" or even "Scientology" at all. Anderson did not want us to view this film as a movie about religion, but a film about following a set of rules, whether they're your own rules or someone else's. Dodd is a fascinating character, one of the most fascinating people I've ever seen in film. He is played by the also fantastic Philip Seymour Hoffman, who steals every scene he's in... well, maybe not steals, but he commands them with his charismatic voice and will to lead. Let's just say he plays his part VERY VERY well, as Phoenix does with his. There's a scene I want to talk about that I think defines the film for what it really is: around when Freddie first meets Dodd, Dodd conducts a series of questions on Freddie he calls "processing." He asks Freddie to answer as quickly as he can, without thinking. The questions he asks him are extremely personal and the contrast of Freddie's emotional state from when the questions begin and when they end is like night and day. He starts out being the cocky animalistic idiot that he is and ends up being a broken, confused, helpless little man. Dodd chewed him up and spit him back out in about five minutes' time. From then on, Freddie is taken under Dodd's wing and does whatever his new master commands, and then some. In the end, the film conveys the very powerful message that no matter what you try to do, you can't live life without following a set of rules or principles, whether they're your own personal morals or that of a religion's: otherwise, society would not be able to function, similarly as to how Freddie was barely functioning before he met Dodd, being a sex-addicted alcoholic. On the surface, The Master is an extremely strange film depicting really strange sex scenes and gratuitous nudity, but if you can get a grasp, even if it isn't a firm one, around what Anderson is trying to say with The Master, then you'll find that it is a masterpiece.

The Room
The Room(2003)
½

The Room is so terrible to the point where it goes beyond proper comprehension and into the "good" side of the spectrum. Essentially, it's so bad that it's good. Tommy Wiseau directs, writes, and stars and he clearly has no idea what he's doing, in all three categories. The acting is horrible, the screenplay is by far the worst screenplay ever written, and the entire thing is a mess aesthetically as well. It's about a guy named Johnny who's girlfriend cheats on him with Johnny's best friend. That's it... that's the entire movie. There is not a single good performance in this film, all of them being horrible in their own little way whether it's painfully bad line delivery or extremely fake emotions. So why exactly am I giving this disaster a good score? Because I had a ton of fun watching it and it made me laugh. Movies like "The Room" are rare and should be seen by everyone because they help you appreciate and understand why other movies are good. Not only is the film very entertaining specifically because it's abysmal, I actually got something out of this movie as well: give credit where credit is due, and respect good movies even if you don't enjoy them.

Argo
Argo(2012)
½

Argo has an awesome beginning and an awesome ending, but the middle turns out to be only mildly entertaining. It opens with an extremely angry mob of Iranians trying to get into a U.S. embassy. You can really feel the crowd's energy and the rush of the people inside flailing to get rid of classified documents as the crowd gets closer and closer. Six Americans find refuge in the Canadian Ambassador's house and hide there. Months later, Tony Mendez (played by the fantastic director Ben Affleck) comes up with an idea to get the six people back home: disguise them as a film crew for a movie called Argo. I was amazed at the detail of everything; from hairstyles to television sets, everything about Argo is a dead-on match with its time period (1979-80). I really liked the cast as well; Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, and John Goodman are all great in their roles. The ending was an incredibly tense, edge-of-your-seat affair, despite being a bit predictable. It's a great film, but I can't deny that Affleck's previous two directing credits (Gone Baby Gone and The Town) are both better. Argo is still a really great movie that I can see being better with repeated viewings. Original score: 8/10.
UPDATE: Now that I've seen it twice, I can happily report that I liked it more the second time. Revised score: 9/10.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
½

This was a really great movie. I loved the symbolism and imagery with the huge boar-like animals they refer to as Aurochs and I love the film's importance of the heartbeat. I was confused as to where it took place as well. At first, I had no idea where this fictional island would be located geographically, but it doesn't really matter. It was filmed in the swampy areas of Louisiana: an interesting setting rarely seen in film. The characters live in an anarchistic society (no leaders) and even though it appears to be a third-world country, the people seem to be generally happy. The film follows a young girl named Hushpuppy (played by Quvenzhané Wallis) and her father, Wink (played by Dwight Henry). Both performances are Oscar-worthy, and Wallis was in fact the youngest actress to ever be nominated for Best Actress, filming at only five years old. The final act is fantastic, as well as the rest of the film. I was intrigued by the film within minutes. The film is mostly dramatic, but there are several really funny parts as well. I have to mention the soundtrack, which I thought was absolutely perfect for the film, very very good. Beasts of the Southern Wild is bursting with imagination, thought and atmosphere. Director Benh Zeitlin has created a film that cannot be compared to anything else: this is true originality at it's finest.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
½

Over 40 years later, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory remains a timeless classic. It's got dazzling art direction, an impressive lead performance from Gene Wilder, and is rich with themes and morals. Since I saw this film for the first time at such an early age, I was completely unaware of the hidden morals and themes such as decision making, the imagination of children, and telling the difference between good and bad people until seeing it again recently. The greatness of Willy Wonka as a character and Gene Wilder's mesmerizing performance as him cannot be expressed strongly enough. For the first half an hour or so the factory, the workers, and the man behind the curtain are all a complete mystery. Wonka's very first scene (which is well into the movie) proves that he's a character full of surprises and high amounts of zany energy and Gene Wilder really pulls through, especially at the end. I also loved the character Slugworth, a mysterious man who only appears when each of the five Golden Ticket winners find their tickets. Before we learn what his true intentions are, the way he appears specifically when each kid gets a ticket is almost like an omen and I love that there was some sort of villain in this film: it would have been easy to have not included him, but his existence adds a dark dynamism. The art design is staggeringly beautiful: the main room with all of the weird edible objects is a sight to behold. I would even go as far as saying it's one of the most significant sets in all of film. Additionally, this isn't a perfect film: the lip-synching for the songs is often noticeably bad and the ending was way too abrupt. Thankfully, these flaws are so minor and so easy to overlook. What Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory really is cannot be narrowed down to any one thing, but one might say it's painstakingly artistic, original, and dazzling.

Horrible Bosses

It's not fancy in terms of aesthetic; but who ever went into a comedy expecting a masterpiece? Horrible Bosses shines through it's characters, performances, funny screenplay, and above all, it's entertainment value. I've seen funnier movies, but some of the jokes here are really really good. All of the characters are great because most people can relate to one of them: you have the guys who "take shit" from their bosses and suck-up to them to get ahead, and then you have the bosses themselves who are all horrible in their own special way, as the film's poster addresses. Everyone really shines here but if there's anyone here who wasn't good I'd have to say Charlie Day. Unfortunately, he had the most uneven performance: but he was still pretty decent in most of his scenes. I think the most pleasant surprise of this film was Jamie Foxx as a hitman named "Motherf***** Jones." The character's name speaks for the entire film's attitude: fearless. There's nothing held back, especially when murder and rape come into play. Of course that doesn't sound funny on paper, but on-screen it just works for some reason. Final Score: 8.5.

Ed Wood
Ed Wood(1994)

Ed Wood is an interesting film about a notoriously bad filmmaker who kept the faith in his career. Played by Johnny Depp, Ed Wood was clearly a strange man, as he liked to dress up in women's clothing and seemed socially awkward as well. Depp's positive energy give the rather unfortunate events of the film a quirky vibe: Tim Burton's trademark style works particularly well here. Martin Landau won an Academy Award for his role as Bela Lugosi, the actor who played Dracula in the original classic film. His role here shows him later in his life when he was approaching poverty and desperate for money, which is when he agreed to take on roles in Wood's low budget movies. Bill Murray also has a small but hilarious role and Vincent D'Onofrio makes a great cameo as Orson Welles. Even though Wood made crappy movies, I still have to admire his will to make them on his own terms, without producers breathing down his neck. It's kind of like Tim Burton himself is making a statement about film production, which is exactly what Ed Wood is about- luckily, the finished product is a charming, quirky, and entertaining look at what it means to be a filmmaker and what it means to be independent.

The Usual Suspects

It didn't take long for me to get very lost in the plot. I liked the characters (especially Benicio Del Toro's Fenster) and the acting is admirable (especially from Kevin Spacey as Verbal Kint) but the plot was so overwhelmingly complicated that repeated viewings are an absolute must to get a firm grasp on what happens. The best part of this film is the ending, of course, which is a huge slap-in-the-face of a twist; an amazing one, at that. I also loved the scene in the beginning where the cops had each of the "suspects" read out a line of dialogue to help them identify a murderer. Benicio Del Toro really shined in this scene, and the film needed more of him. I don't think Kevin Spacey's role as Verbal Kint was Academy Award-worthy but it was still a solid performance. Truthfully, it's very difficult for me to review and fairly judge this film since I barely understood it, so I'm going to leave you with this: The Usual Suspects boasts good performances, a dense plot, and a spectacular finale, and while it does possess all of those qualities, the plot is simply too complicated for it's own good.

Lawless
Lawless(2012)
½

The cast of Lawless is probably the most noticeably good thing about it, so I'll start this review with that: Shia LaBeouf shows some real emotion for once, Tom Hardy is a total boss (as usual) who grunts and mutters a lot (that's a good thing), and Jessica Chastain does some solid work as well. While Guy Pearce's role as Charley Rakes is good, it's a flawed one. Charley Rakes is an abysmal man, and that's an understatement: his unnecessary brutality and violence is what makes the character interesting. Unfortunately, we don't get much of a reason as to why this man is the way he is: in other words, I'm saying he's a one-note character and deserved a backstory. As for the story, it's pretty good: it's about three Bondurant brothers who are notorious for making and selling moonshine, and also for being "invincible." This is the theme that the film is centered on, and it's a really good one. One of the brothers named Forrest (played by the great Tom Hardy) claims "It is not the violence that sets a man apart. It's the distance he's prepared to go." Director John Hillcoat has no problem focusing on this single line of dialogue. Lawless is also brutally violent thanks to sets of brass knuckles which the brothers use in their brawls. There's one part where Tom Hardy punches a guy so hard in the throat with the brass knuckles that he kills him: the violence is extremely satisfying. For the most part, I really liked the final act but it was a little too happy of an ending for my tastes. While flawed, Lawless mostly succeeds thanks to it's great cast, satisfying violence, and a great central theme.

Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine is the most down-to-earth and honest look at a marriage one can possibly find in film. Ryan Gosling turns in what is probably the best performance of his career (yes, even better than Drive) and Michelle Williams was amazing as well. I loved how director Derek Cianfrance presented the film by contrasting the beginning of the couple's relationship versus the end. Seeing these "phases" or "eras" side-by-side give the film a three-dimensional feel and it works so well. It's quite scary knowing that a large percentage of marriages end up being like the one shown here: by the time the credits were rolling, I had felt as if the entire point was to slap a big WARNING sign on the face of marriage. The monumental performances were exactly what the film needed in order to extract every last drop of emotion from the viewer. The film felt so real, especially during the argument scenes. I think if I were older, I would be able to relate much more to the film, but I still liked it a lot.

In Bruges
In Bruges(2008)

After seeing Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths and now In Bruges, I can safely conclude that he is one of the best screenwriters and filmmakers in modern cinema. The screenplay is one of the best screenplays I've had the pleasure of experiencing, and films like this make me deeply appreciate a well-written screenplay. Every little thing that happens in the film ends up being important later on, the dialogue is simply amazing, and the characters (despite being seemingly bad people) turn out to be extremely likeable and almost understandable. McDonagh also makes direct references to films in general in the narrative, in a similar (if not as comlex) fashion as he did in Seven Psychopaths. McDonagh is an extremely smart genius, and he enjoys reminding the viewers of what type of medium (film) they're experiencing. It's simply magical filmmaking, and I can't stress this enough. I love the balance of comedy and drama here as well: there were times where I was grinning in amusement and then switched to being ultra serious within a matter of seconds, and this happened on more than one occasion. The acting is also very high in quality: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes turn in award-worthy performances because they handle McDonagh's constant switches in tone skillfully and swiftly. Unfortunately, In Bruges comes packaged with a flaw or two: I did not like the fact that a certain element of the ending was left ambiguous. I also felt that if Fiennes' character Harry had been given more screen-time, McDonagh would have been able to pull an even stronger emotional response from me in the end... I rarely ever think that a film should be longer, for any reason, but In Bruges is one of those films. Other than that one quarrel I had with the ending, the final act was incredible and probably the best segment of the film. This film is nearly as good as McDonagh's succeeding film Seven Psychopaths and I have an utterly high appreciation for artists like him and films like In Bruges. Final Score: 8.5.

The Amazing Spider-Man

The beginning of the movie had me thinking how unnecessary the entire thing was going to be. While that feeling was very difficult to shake, the movie becomes incredibly entertaining filled with plenty of great scenes and visual effects. There are also a couple funny ones as well, one in particular being the cameo made by Stan Lee. Andrew Garfield is very good as the new Peter Parker, he's really easy to like. While he may not fit the character as well as Tobey Maguire did, I think his performance here is a little better. Martin Sheen is great as his Uncle Ben and Emma Stone is good as Gwen Stacy. Although I wouldn't say she's better than Mary Jane from the original trilogy. The original score is also spectacular. The 3D is actually really good for once, the (unfortunately, very limited number of) scenes where we see Spider-Man's first person view of him swinging around are the best, visually. Also, the fight scenes with the lizard are so awesome. To be honest, Green Goblin is a way better and crazier villain than the lizard. The lizard is good, but there's no way he beats Norman Osborne/The Green Goblin. All in all, The Amazing Spider-Man may not be amazing or even as good as the first one, but it's still undeniably great and very, very watchable.

Seven Psychopaths
½

Before going into Seven Psychopaths, I don't think I had much of a clue as to what I was about to see. I thought it was going to be a violent comedy, and for the most part, it was; however, I was highly pleased to find that it was more than that, it's also a film that ends up overflowing with meaning and metaphor, thanks to a monumentally fantastic monologue from the very excellent Christopher Walken. Do not be mistaken, Walken's character Hans is easily the funniest and most interesting character in the film. The rest of the cast is also splendid which includes Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson. The truth is, every single character is very well-written and very interesting, which is ironic because the film is about a writer named Martin (also the name of the writer of the film) writing a screenplay about seven psychopathic people. Martin McDonagh is an absolute genius writer, and he knows it. The film is 110 minutes: a healthy sized film, and it goes by like lighting. I was constantly engaged and constantly interested in this film. McDonagh takes us in all sorts of crazy directions with all sorts of crazy-good twists along the way. I was excessively entertained throughout the entire film: there are countless hilarious parts, countless brilliant parts, and that ending... I loved it. I can see myself re-watching this film many times because the screenplay is just that intricate and complex. Seven Psychopaths is a fantastic film and showcases writer/ director McDonagh's unquestionable level of skill, in both categories.

Ocean's Thirteen

Steven Soderbergh takes a full step backwards with Ocean's Thirteen, the final Ocean's film in the trilogy. I felt like Twelve was it's own thing, similar to Eleven in many respects but very different at the same time. Thirteen felt like it was trying way too hard to be like Eleven again, which is sad because I loved Twelve: yet for some reason, most critics and audiences felt like it was the weakest of the trilogy. Thirteen is just way too confusing to keep up with, there aren't nearly as many funny moments as Twelve had, and it didn't entertain me nearly as much as the first two did. Brad Pitt doesn't have as much screen time, Vincent Cassel is barely included (when it seemed obvious he would have a much more significant role after the end of Twelve), and the addition of Al Pacino isn't as good as one would expect. Pacino plays the owner of a new casino who screws over one of the guys. The point of the film is for Ocean and his team to get back at him and essentially make him lose money. This concept isn't nearly as exciting as the first two, and the stakes aren't as high. Ocean's films are about stealing mass amounts of money and/ or valuable objects, but here, it's pretty much about getting back at this one guy and that's it. It's just not exciting or fun enough. Pacino's character Bank lacks the energy that Pacino is so great at normally conveying in his typical roles and should have been a lot crazier than he ends up being. While there are many many faults with this threequel, it wasn't all bad; it's still a very smart (if extremely difficult to follow) and stylized film, and the cast is still largely great and fun to watch. Unfortunately, it was hard not to be disappointed and it just didn't come together for me like the last two did.

The Last Stand

I enjoyed this a lot. There are a lot of badass scenes, which is exactly what a good action film needs. For example, Arnold tackles a guy off of a roof, and while midair, shoots him in the head. There are also several really cool scenes with a Corvette, and the roar of it's engine sounded incredible in the theater. Moments like these are what define an action film, and The Last Stand has many of them. Arnold is certainly not out of fuel, but he's not even close to what he used to be, physically: thankfully the film is smart enough to acknowledge this, on two occasions. Schwarzenegger's signature style of action films included countless hilarious and memorable one-liners. Unfortunately, The Last Stand doesn't have many of these. Despite the film having several cool but ridiculous stunts, this film is a lot more realistic compared to his films from the 90's. What I mean is that a dangerous drug cartel is a lot more realistic an antagonist than a Terminator or an extravagant alien (Predator), so The Last Stand certainly distinguishes itself from his older films. While Arnold is definitely the focus of the film, the entire supporting cast was also great. Johnny Knoxville plays a weird gun collector guy but is still awesome here. He helps Arnold use a gatling gun and looks totally out of his mind as he feeds the gun it's ammunition. Luis Guzman and Rodrigo Santoro are also great supports. Despite the film having a few setbacks, The Last Stand is still a genuinely fun film, an is a perfect vessel to seat Arnold Schwarzenegger's (hopefully) big comeback.

Ocean's Twelve
½

The first thing I need to get out of the way is that I was really not expecting this to be as good as the first. Not only did it exceed my expectations, Steven Soderbergh has outdone himself almost completely. I found Ocean's Twelve to be even more entertaining, smart, and intricate as the first was. The only thing that I would say was not as good was that it wasn't as thrilling. Twelve constantly moves and constantly throws curveballs at you while the first took it's time in building the tension towards the big final heist. This one had two or three small heists, but the entire thing is very well done and potently entertaining. I was pretty confused with some of the plot: mostly within the last half hour, but it wasn't nearly enough to majorly complain about. I liked the cast even more this time around, from Brad Pitt's signature style of goofiness and constantly eating something to the fantastic addition of Francois. Vincent Cassel is a total badass in this role and the character is extremely fun to watch, especially when he epically dances through a field of lasers (probably the best scene in the film). I loved the idea of Julia Robert's character Tess becoming Julia Roberts herself in the film. I know that sounds confusing, but it works because it's such a gutsy move. I also loved Bruce Willis playing himself: things like this are what came together and made the film feel like a complete popcorn-entertainment package.

Overboard
Overboard(1987)

I really enjoyed this movie; it's so 80's, but that's one of the things that makes it great. Kurt Russell plays Dean, a carpenter who is also a single father to four boys. He takes on a job for Joanna, an extremely rich and ignorant woman who takes advantage of Dean's carpentry skills and decides not to pay him. Eventually, something happens to Joanna and she gets amnesia and remembers nothing about her past. Dean then calls her his wife and uses her for house chores. The beginning is a little goofy, I admit, but it becomes such a warm story of family and parenthood. Despite the ending being a little predictable, I was totally fine with it. Overall, Overboard is one of the defining movies of the 80's and still holds it's charm to this day.

Texas Chainsaw
½

This iteration of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a direct sequel to the 1974 original. They really tried to make this one have a good story versus it being a 90 minute non-stop gore fest. Five teens ride out to Texas so Heather (Alexandra Daddario) can claim her grandmother's estate after her death. This is not an ordinary house, as the basement reveals. It isn't very long before Leatherface starts terrorizing the group, and that actually doesn't last long. The 2003 remake did not focus on telling the family's story but focused on what a horror movie should focus on: blood, gore, and being scary. This Chainsaw is hardly scary and while there is a lot of killing, it isn't as satisfying as it should be and the kills are not creative at all. Although it should have focused more on Leatherface chasing the teens, I still appreciated the fact that they tried to give this one a better story than it just being kids being killed by a psychopath. Towards the end, the main character Heather says "Do your thing, cuz." This is easily one of the cheesiest lines I've ever heard in any movie, and Alexandra Daddario's poor delivery does NOT help. Here, it seems taken out of context, but if you were to see the film, it would make more sense and the badness would be more understandable. I never thought one line could ruin a movie, but this one nearly did. Even though it should have been more scary and more entertaining, I was still relatively amused at where they were trying to go with this.

Ocean's Eleven

Here's a super entertaining popcorn-flick that tries nothing more than to entertain you, and succeeds. The cast is awesome and huge and includes Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, and Julia Roberts. The film is about eleven men who plan a massive heist/robbery on a vault containing 150 million dollars hidden underneath a Las Vegas casino. Their plan is pretty much foolproof and just shows you how much thought the screenwriter put into this film. This isn't your typical heist or even action film; it's smart and knows exactly what it's doing every step of the way. My favorite scene is at the end: I won't say exactly what it is, since that would completely give the ending away, but the soothing song "Clair de Lune" plays, which makes for a really great scene that rewards the viewer. I'm not a fan of Steven Soderbergh's other work, and in fact I think he's quite overrated, but this film proved me wrong about him. This is a fine film that thoroughly entertains from beginning to end.

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty, the controversial film directed by Kathryn Bigelow about the capture of Osama bin Laden, is a masterpiece of filmmaking. Don't go into this expecting to be entertained minute after minute, because this is not that type of movie. This is a movie that takes it's time in building a massive amount of momentum, taking about two full hours to get to the final operation. It is totally worth sitting through those two hours to get to the final nail-biting 35 minutes, which more than pays off the wait. Jessica Chastain plays Maya, a CIA operative who spent her entire career searching for bin Laden. Her performance may not beat Jennifer Lawrence's in Silver Linings Playbook, but it's still an Academy Award-worthy performance. Jason Clarke is also awesome as an interrogator and I loved seeing Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton as two Navy SEALs that led the charge into bin Laden's compound. I've watched countless interviews on the assault on the compound, and I think I can safely say that the portrayal of it in this film is dead-on accurate (strictly based on those interviews). The entire sequence is extremely dark, literally and violently. The Navy SEALs take their time in going from room to room clearing out any hostiles they encounter. Everyone they kill they shoot multiple times, even as they lay motionless on the floor. This little detail reminded me of just how important the operation was, that no mistakes could be afforded. The satisfaction of hearing one of the SEALs quietly call out, "Osama! Osama!" simply cannot be described in words. Zero Dark Thirty is an extremely rare film that directly connects to real-life events that were (in my opinion) very interesting, thus directly connecting to my life. Every United States citizen owes it to themselves to see this film, especially those who were directly affected by 9/11. From an aesthetic point of view, Zero Dark Thirty is not only the most important film I've seen in a very long time, but the best film of 2012.

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino's newest film Django Unchained is jam packed with awesome performances, beautiful cinematography, great music, and plenty of bluntly satisfying violence. All of the performances are excellent, but the most entertaining character of all has to be Leonardo DiCaprio's Calvin Candie, a rich slave owner with an obnoxious and hilarious personality. I love seeing actors who are so comfortable with playing the protagonist switch to playing the villain. This is a great example of that rare but absolutely brilliant switch, and the character is nothing but an example of Tarantino's skill at writing memorable characters. The cinematography has several great shots of the beautiful Western landscapes and sunsets but still manages to stay creative: there are a lot of quick zoom-ins on the actors' faces. It's almost as if the camera has a personality and sense of humor of it's own. The music is fantastic as well, featuring modern rap to original compositions from the famed composer Ennio Morricone (composer of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly). Despite the film being an incredibly lengthy 2 hours and 45 minutes, it went by pretty quickly; there really aren't any scenes that I thought should have or could have been cut. There is a huge number of amazing scenes here because I think Tarantino is one of the few filmmakers who know how to entertain the audience versus boring them to death. You know an amazing filmmaker when he can take a film of epic length and turn it into something that entertains you for the entire duration. When I make the attempt to conjure up a flaw with Django Unchained, I simply cannot think of any: the film is flawless, and is one of the most entertaining and best films of 2012.

Les Misérables

I was surprised to find Les Misérables to be as good as it was. Most of the music is fantastic, mainly because of the fact that it was all sung live which is never done in film musicals. Anne Hathaway steals the hell out of this show as Fantine, a poor woman who will do anything to provide for her daughter. Hathaway's solo "I Dream A Dream" is easily the strongest song in the film, and the most emotional as well. Hathaway's overflowing amount of emotion is truly heartbreaking but oh so brilliant. This is by far the best female performance I've seen so far this year; in fact, it just may be the best female performance I have ever seen. Hugh Jackman is also excellent as the leading man, Jean Valjean, a man who was locked away for years just for stealing a piece of bread. Once he is released from prison, he is pursued by the overly dedicated Inspector Javert (played by the great Russell Crowe). I know a lot of critics are bashing Crowe for his performance and that he looks goofy in his outfits, but I thought he did a really great job, and sang shockingly well. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter provide some very necessary and welcome comic relief as the two thieving adoptive parents of Fantine's daughter. The direction was very different from most films; it clearly echoed director Tom Hooper's previous work The King's Speech with mostly extremely close-up shots and slanted camerawork to give the viewer a particularly personal experience. There was also a lot of handheld camerawork which was annoying at first, but I got used to it relatively quick. Like any film that is 158 minutes long, it dragged at times, especially in the second half. This led me to think that the first half is notably better than the second, but not nearly enough to ruin it. I was also a little disappointed that Anne Hathaway didn't have more screen time; it was hard not to feel that after seeing her sing "I Dream A Dream." Other notably awesome tracks include Russell Crowe's "Stars" and the multi-voiced "One Day More." When it comes down to it, Les Misérables is an extremely well made and well acted musical that deserves it's hype, and is worth sitting through for Hathaway's performance alone.

Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo(2003)

A monumental animated film with landmark visuals and a great, emotional story. The voice acting is top notch, coming from an all-star cast including Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe, and Geoffrey Rush. The original score by Thomas Newman is an incredible work and only adds to the experience. Nemo is also arguably Pixar's best looking film, mainly due to the amazing use of color. In fact, the film looks so good that I found it extremely difficult to look away from the screen. The characters are also unforgettable, particularly Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) as a fish with short term memory loss. Other great characters include Marlin (Albert Brooks), a fish who loses his son Nemo and is launched into an adventure to find him, and Gill (Willem Dafoe), the leader of a fish tank that Nemo ends up in. The final act is powerful in meaning and the epilogue in the credits is hilarious. It's amazing that Finding Nemo is nearly a decade-old already yet has still managed to uphold, not only in terms of visuals, but story and characters as well. Nemo isn't merely one of the best Pixar films: it's one of the best animated films ever made.

A Christmas Story

It's a classic movie that demands to be re-watched year after year, and it deserves that prestigious status. The best scene of all has to be when Ralphie opens up the big present at the end. The relationship between the main character (Ralphie) and his father comes to a true high point in this scene, and the actors do an amazing job of conveying those feelings. The family depicted in this film has got to be, if not the greatest, one of the greatest families to ever be
depicted in film. You have the grouchy old man, the (relatively) gentle mom, the spoiled favorite child, and of course the overlooked hero with a lot going on in his mind. Now that I'm older, it's interesting to see how families in the 40's, as depicted in the film, differ in the ways they celebrate Christmas compared to modern times. Filled with countless quotable lines and at least a dozen iconic scenes, A Christmas Story still remains the greatest live-action holiday film ever made.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas is arguably the best showcase of Tim Burton's signature dark and loopy style; however, this is definitely not one of his strongest films. That may be due to the confusion that this is not a Tim Burton movie. The film introduces itself as "Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas." Burton merely produced it and wrote some of the script: this is still Henry Selick (the actual director)'s film. I have to praise it for it's awesome style and concept, which is colliding Christmas and Halloween. It's also a musical, which is pretty cool considering how memorable some of the songs are (especially This is Halloween). Unfortunately, it's not as exciting as it should be: for a film of an extremely lean 76 minutes, it kind of drags. There is also no connection of any kind whatsoever to any of the characters. In the end, The Nightmare Before Christmas may look and sound great, but the story and characters have no lasting effect on the audience.

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds is an immeasurably entertaining film from one of the greatest directors of our time, Quentin Tarantino. The acting, the plot, and the realism of the violence make sitting through the two and a half hours easy and worthwhile. Christoph Waltz delivers one of the best performances of the decade, and after seeing it for the millionth time, I only realized now how hilarious and enjoyable it is to watch Brad Pitt speak with a perfect Tennessee accent. While Cristoph Waltz may deliver a more serious, Oscar worthy performance, it's Brad Pitt that gives the story its comedic edge. This is not only an incredible film, it's arguably Tarantino's best work so far.

Silver Linings Playbook
½

This is an extremely good romantic comedy from David O. Russell with an incredible set of performances and a consistently entertaining and truly interesting script. Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a guy who once had everything but ended up with nothing in a mental institution for beating up his wife's lover. I loved the aspect of him being so mentally affected by his wedding song throughout the entire film: that's one thing that Silver Linings Playbook does so right, it keeps things going and recurring from beginning to end, relentlessly so. Russell holds absolutely nothing back when it comes to raw reality, truth, and most importantly drama. Every scene is handled almost flawlessly, from the camera angles, to the direction of the actors, to the music. Bradley Cooper gives by far his best performance of all time and so does Jennifer Lawrence. Both of them are Oscar worthy. Robert De Niro gives a surprisingly fantastic performance as Pat's father. I also loved the long-absent Chris Tucker. There are also a big number of hilarious moments like when Pat screams "What the f***?!" in the middle of the night because of how frustrating one of Hemingway's books are, and then throwing it out a window. Another fantastic scene, possibly the best, is at the end where Pat and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) share a big dance. I was pretty surprised by how amazing this movie was; it was such a pleasure to experience a film of this quality after such a lethargic year in film. Silver Linings Playbook is not only the best film of the year (at least so far), it holds the best direction and performances as well. Final score: 9.5.

The Passion of the Christ

One could not have given the subject at hand to a better director than Mel Gibson. He holds absolutely nothing back in depicting the true violence that Jesus Christ had to endure, and it is almost painful to watch. It is not the fact that this film depicts the death of Jesus that makes it such an incredible viewing experience, but the fact that we are shown what a man who wanted nothing more than for us to love one another had to go through. We are shown chunks of Christ's skin flying in the air, a huge puddle of his blood laying on the ground, and even part of his ribs where the whips tore through. I cannot stress how difficult the film is to sit through, or how necessary it is to endure. This is coming from someone who isn't the least bit religious: it simply doesn't matter if you are or aren't. Mel Gibson has masterfully crafted not just any film, but THE film about the actual death of Jesus Christ, a man who went through the worst possible experience any human could possibly go through. It kills me inside to see critics bash this film for being "a pornographic bloodbath" simply because Mel Gibson was trying to show us what this man went through. He did not give in to the stereotypes of big budgeted Hollywood movies, and disregarded the idea of making it PG-13 for more money. The death of Christ was not PG-13: it was brutally bloody to the highest degree imaginable, and that is exactly what Gibson portrays it as, thus deserving my utmost highest respect. I also love the fact that Gibson chose to have the actors speak Aramaic, the actual language that Christ spoke back then: hearing the actors speak such a language made me forget that I was watching a film about the death of Christ and made me think that I was actually watching the death of Christ. The Passion of the Christ is an incredibly moving, eye-opening, harrowing, but nonetheless essential piece of filmmaking, and is probably one of the greatest achievements to have ever been committed to cinema.

Chinatown
Chinatown(1974)
½

I really didn't get this movie. It's just Jack Nicholson going from place to place trying to find out who killed Faye Dunaway's husband. It's funny on occasion and had a few interesting twists, but overall there's no connection to these characters whatsoever. It also felt too long. At least it had good cinematography.

50 First Dates
½

The drama is a little badly done, but the incredible amount of great humor and interesting concept make seeing this extremely worthwhile. It's sad that critics hated it so much, because the comedy is so good that it makes overlooking the dramatic parts very easy. Rob Schneider's Ula is by far the funniest character he's every played and Sean Astin is utterly hilarious as Doug. Lusia Strus is also fantastic in a smaller role as Sandler's co-worker. Sandler and Drew Barrymore are both great together. The soundtrack is also perfectly put together, each song feeling tropical and awesome at the same time. 50 First Dates is a classic Adam Sandler film, and has not only amazing humor, but beautiful Hawaiian landscapes that never fail to take the breath away, and of course, it's extremely entertaining.

Creature from the Black Lagoon
½

It's pretty amusing to see a low-budget monster movie that has influenced so many filmmakers and movies. It's painfully obvious that the creature is just a professional swimmer with a rubber suit on, but that only makes it more fun to watch. The underwater scenes are quite good for a 50's movie and the story is simple enough to just kick back and enjoy without putting too much thought into it, which is nice for a change. Considering the fact that this movie is over 50 years old and it wasn't actually filmed in the Amazon (which is where it takes place) there is undeniably a great sense of atmosphere: it really feels like the actors are on a boat in the middle of an exotic river rather than the United States. Overall, it's worth seeing if you're a fan of newer monster movies such as Cloverfield and Jaws.

The Lady From Shanghai

The only good thing about this heap of vintage trash is Rita Hayworth. Everything else will hit you like a tranquilizer. Orson Welles directs and stars with a terrible Irish accent; even I could do a more accurate Irish accent than that. It's not only distracting, but annoying. The plot goes in way too many directions for anyone to stand a chance of grasping it and the lean 87 minute running time feels like an eternity.

Quantum of Solace
½

This Bond is good, but when held up to the light of Casino Royale and Skyfall, it's undoubtedly inferior. Daniel Craig is (as usual) great as James Bond and the action is typically exciting and tense. However, the villain, Dominic Greene, is extremely weak and underdeveloped. Greene is easily the worst villain of Daniel Craig's three Bond movies, way beneath Le Chiffre and Silva. Olga Kurylenko is decent as the main Bond girl, but the one I really liked was the less important Agent Fields (played by Gemma Arterton). The story is kind of just there; if you're watching this Bond for the story, you're here for the wrong reasons. I also found there to be a few plot holes that threw the story even further into limbo. In the end, it's the action, stunts, and Daniel Craig that keeps this 007 from being a total dud. With that being said, considering it's mediocre story, Quantum of Solace is still entertaining and worth seeing.

Casino Royale

Casino Royale is an awesome movie, and is the best iteration of 007 featuring Daniel Craig; although, Skyfall is very close. There are so many memorable scenes here, including when Bond gets poisoned in the casino, the torture scene, and the chase in the construction site. Daniel Craig is solid as James Bond and Eva Green is just as good as the Bond girl Vesper Lynd. Mads Mikkelsen is definitely good as the villain Le Chiffre, but of course, does not stand in the same league as Javier Bardem's Silva in Skyfall; but then again, nobody does. The only complaint I could possibly think of would be that the story moves incredibly fast, and it's really easy to miss an important part of the story. This isn't really a flaw, as any confusion can be cleared up through repeated viewings (which is totally worth it). Casino Royale is also extremely entertaining and is never boring. This is in part due to the fact that the film is overall so well-rounded; from the action to the cinematography, everything about this Bond is golden.

Moonrise Kingdom
½

Wes Anderson's critically acclaimed Moonrise Kingdom is nearly impossible to place into a single genre. It's not serious enough to be a drama, but it's not funny enough to be a comedy either. It's a very light, quick, but well filmed movie about kids being kids: falling in love and running away together. The cinematography is so nice to look at not only because it's shot with skill, but an island off the coast of New England in 1965 is already nice to look at. No problem in the acting department either, which includes Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Frances McDormand. The problem I had with Moonrise Kingdom, and I think this is the only thing that held it back from truly soaring is it's own attitude about everything; I felt it was way too childish in terms of tone when a more serious and dramatic feel would have done this movie a huge favor. But I'm not saying the lighthearted and easygoing tone ruined it completely... I still found it to be quite enjoyable and easy on the eyes.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

A massive Spielberg adventure with a great performance from the lead, Haley Joel Osment, and an even better energetic and fantastic performance from Jude Law. Artificial Intelligence is not only one of the best Spielberg movies, it's easily one of his most underrated and overlooked. The film is filled from top to bottom with master craft and care, from it's beautiful visuals to it's deep, affecting storyline. Osment plays a young boy who appears to be like any other boy, but inside he is a robot. His performance is very good, and it reflects my opinion that he is one of the best child actors of his generation. Jude Law turns in an even more likeable performance as another robot who is filled with wild energy and pizazz as he dances through the streets of futuristic cities and jerks his head to turn on romantic music when the occasion calls for it. A.I. is at times a quite funny movie, but most of the time it's dark; darker than most Spielberg movies. This is an adventure that leads to an unbelievably satisfying ending, and capitalizes on themes such as mother/son relationships, love, and hope.

Life of Pi
Life of Pi(2012)
½

Life of Pi is a solid movie directed by Ang Lee, the director of Brokeback Mountain. The story is pretty good, even though I felt disconnected from the religious aspects of it. Where Life of Pi really exceeds is in it's visuals. I get why critics said it was smart to see this film on as big a screen as possible; I saw it in ETX 3D, and it was totally worth it. There isn't a lot that pops out at you, but the 3D still immerses you in the film. The scene where the ship wrecks is one of the visual highlights, as it is the most intense and probably the most well-made. The movie is all-around incredibly well made. I can see this winning a lot of technical awards at the Oscars this year. Mychael Danna's original score is also very very good. The acting was surprisingly great as well, the actor that plays Pi (Suraj Sharma) is a totally inexperienced actor, but that doesn't show here; he did a great job. I also really liked the relationship shared between Pi and the tiger Richard Parker (a pretty funny name for a tiger). I think the finale could have been a little better; had the tiger's fate been different I think the movie's contents would have had a significantly larger emotional impact than it did. Overall, the story was solid enough. I would definitely recommend this film to people looking for a particularly good theater experience. Final score: 7.5.

Lincoln
Lincoln(2012)
½

Equipped with renowned director Steven Spielberg, and one of the greatest actors of our time, Daniel Day-Lewis, one would expect Lincoln to be a masterpiece. Surprisingly, it is very far from being one. It's misguided, political, and utterly boring, despite the excellent performances. This movie is a history buff's/politics' dream; there is so much political and courtroom talk that the average viewer would fall asleep. And when I say misguided, I mean it appears to be about the life of Abraham Lincoln, but instead focuses on the abolition of slavery; you might think that would be interesting, but it really isn't, and it shows. The abolition of slavery was just like any other political event; boring and tedious. Daniel Day-Lewis nails the role of Lincoln in every single way; he looks exactly like him and sounds like he probably would. The supporting cast is also excellent which includes Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, and James Spader. I think this film could have been a whole lot more monumental had it not been for all of the politics. Had it been focused on his life from beginning to end, we probably would have gotten a much more intriguing piece of cinema. But what Lincoln really comes down to is if you like politics and history or not. If you can sit through two and a half hours of it, go for it; if not, rent it down the line for the fantastic performances.

Safe
Safe(2012)
½

Safe is one of Jason Statham's more serious action movies, and also one of his better ones. It's well made, well choreographed, and brutally satisfying. If you don't like action movies, Safe will not change your mind; it was made for fans of action, and it does it incredibly well. The story is a little too complicated and hard to follow for its own good, but still serves as a respectable accommodation to the action. Statham is great as usual, and there is one scene where he proves that he can be more than a brainless action star and brings out some emotion. I don't really understand why people are saying this film is too predictable and formulaic; no, there aren't any huge twists or turning points, but the brutality of the violence is what surprised me and it's also the aspect of Safe that separates it from other generic action flicks. Final score: 7.5.

Bernie
Bernie(2012)

Even though Bernie is a relatively slow-paced film, it still entertained me thanks to Jack Black's fantastic performance and Matthew McConaughey's hilariously accurate portrayal of a Southerner. I also think if Bernie had not been based on a true story, it would be significantly less interesting to watch. The film grabbed my attention immediately, starting at the very well done opening scene of Bernie (played by Jack Black) showing a class how to prepare a body for a wake. Having read the synopsis, I had known the big table-turner that occurs in the middle of the movie and I was curious to see such a gentle and kind person commit such an act. After he did that, the remainder of the movie kept me wondering what he had done with "it" (you'll know what I'm talking about when you watch it). What I'm trying to get at is that the film had a very strong sense of direction; it was much more than Bernie living with a rich and snobby woman (played by Shirley MacLaine), I could feel something was going to change their odd relationship sooner or later. I also found the mockumentary-style of filming to be surprisingly fresh; it reminded me of the television show The Office, and I really enjoyed seeing it in film form, done fantastically by director Richard Linklater. Ultimately, Bernie is a great film powered by excellent performances and a smart sense of pacing.

Donnie Brasco
½

There's nothing about Donnie Brasco that separates it from other mob movies and the performances, while good, are sub-par for Johnny Depp and Al Pacino. Depp plays a cop named Joe Pistone who goes undercover and infiltrates the mafia under the name Donnie Brasco. He befriends a lower-level thug named Lefty (played by Pacino) and Joe's loyalty to either side becomes questionable. This is the oldest setup in the mob movie book and Donnie Brasco does almost nothing to separate itself from others that have done it bigger and much better. Aside from a handful of scenes, like the one where Johnny Depp explains why mobsters say "forget about it" so often and some really gritty scenes, Donnie Brasco failed to get my full attention.

Skyfall
Skyfall(2012)
½

I knew from the moment I heard the villain of the 23rd James Bond film would be played by Javier Bardem that we would get something special. And boy, did we. Skyfall erases all memories of the sub-par Quantum of Solace and returns to the top quality franchise that we've come to know and love. After an extremely intense opening action scene and the traditionally sleek credits sequence (featuring the new song by Adele, which I don't think is as good as the previous two Bond themes) we get introduced to the story. A cyber-terrorist (who sadly, doesn't show up until the middle) attacks MI6's headquarters and seems to aim his computer hackings and viruses towards MI6's longtime leader, M (played by Judi Dench). This cyber-terrorist is known as Silva, played by a very flamboyant but truly brilliant Javier Bardem. From his entrance to his exit, Javier Bardem nails this villain in every single scene he encompasses. I think his flamboyancy really added to this character because it separates him from every other villain. In the final sequence, he throws a grenade into a house as if he's a woman throwing out a piece of trash. It was the little things like this that made this villain so amazing. My favorite scene is the one where he takes Bond outside and has him participate in a "game" where he has Bond shoot a glass of booze off of the head of Severine. Severine (played by Berenice Marlohe) is by far the most attractive Bond girl in all of Daniel Craig's time as Bond. It's a shame she had such a little amount of screen time; she served as incredible eye candy and seemed mysterious enough to have a side-plot of her own. I found it hard to like Eve (played by Naomie Harris), Bond's partner when someone as amazing as Berenice Marlohe was around. I also think it felt a bit long, but most movies that are 2 hours and 25 minutes do as well. However, this is not to say I was ever bored with it. Some critics have said the last third of the movie felt like "it did not match the momentum as the first two thirds." I disagree with this statement entirely; it was the final act that was the most exciting and dramatic. Daniel Craig and Judi Dench turn in their best performances as Bond and M, respectively. I think in the end, it was Javier Bardem as the villain who truly raised the bar and formed what is the best Bond villain ever, and quite possibly the best villain of the year. Skyfall may not be as good overall as Casino Royale, but it's a huge improvement over Quantum of Solace.

Wanda
Wanda(1971)

I want to begin this review by saying I did not watch Wanda on my own free will; it was screened in my film class at school. Had I not been told about it by my professor, I would have never heard of this. Wanda is perhaps the most no-name film I've ever seen; equipped with a tiny budget and bad actors, it makes a lot of sense as to why this film made no audience or money. To be honest, I was expecting worse; it was pretty bad, but not as terrible as I was anticipating. The first 20 minutes or so is forgettable nonsense and the main chunk of the movie (which is the middle) is alright. It reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde, as a criminal named Mr. Dennis slowly teaches the naive and idiotic Wanda the ropes of being a criminal. The ending seemed completely out of place and did not properly but a cap on what the movie showed us, so overall it amounted to nothing. The acting was also pretty bad, mainly from supporting roles. The best parts of Wanda were a couple of relatively humorous scenes that showcased Wanda's naivety and, well, dumbness. Overall, I wouldn't recommend Wanda to anyone but the most die-hard of art house fans.

Notorious
Notorious(1946)

I seem to be noticing a trend with movies from the 40's: I don't like any of them at all. I'm not saying 40's movies are bad movies, but for some reason I just don't get them. The reason behind this, I presume, is probably because I'm caught up in a generation of technology and big fancy blockbusters; but that's not to say I have never liked an old film or a slow-paced film, because I have. Just 40's movies in particular. Notorious is about a woman who goes into deep-cover to expose the leader of a neo-Nazi group. There is rarely an exciting moment, and even the scenes that seem exciting make little sense. Like Casablanca before it, I found myself completely drawn away and bored with Notorious, therefore victimizing it as yet another mysterious 40's movie.

Flight
Flight(2012)
½

I thought Robert Zemeckis' newest film Flight was relatively good, but unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations. Denzel Washington projects a predictably great performance and the crash sequence is well-filmed, tense and exciting. I also found the ending to be perfectly fitting and one of the better aspects of the film. Flight's downfall is everything in between those two parts; it's mostly about pilot Whip Whitaker (Washinton)'s addiction to cocaine and alcohol. I lost interest much quicker than I should have, especially for a Zemeckis film. The story is good, but the middle is just not very entertaining and could have been cut down by a good 15 minutes or so. Flight was piloted by great performances, a strong beginning and a strong ending, but the middle holds it back from excelling beyond just "good." Final score: 7.5.

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

The South Park movie offers great entertainment, with a hilarious beginning and a heartfelt ending. Everything in-between may not be as funny, but it's entertaining regardless. I was surprised to find the movie a musical; this didn't matter, and actually made it funnier, with the best and funniest song being Mr. Mackey's "It's Easy, mkay." I also loved the films awareness of its MPAA rating. Normally in the Comedy Centeral show, there are barely any major curse words due to rating restrictions, but it's very fun seeing Trey Parker and Matt Stone dance around this in their own unrestricted movie. *Spoiler* The ending is fantastic, mainly because Kenny FINALLY takes his hood off and speaks clearly for the very first time. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a hilarious and entertaining, if inconsistent, 80 minutes of fun.

Indie Game: The Movie
½

An excellent look at the life of a video game developer. In this case, particularly the smaller-manned teams of the recently rising downloadable games known as "indie games." This is reminiscent to indie movies, being privately made with a very small budget. Being a person who has played video games for my entire life, I was surprised at how much stress these developers were put under. One of them was depressed, the other was talking about killing himself, and the last was badly struggling with finances. When you hear the profession "video game maker" or "developer," you immediately assume big money. This is not the case with these guys; they struggle like any other citizen with a fixed budget and its definitely interesting to see them make a game with little money. This documentary has an incredible style of filming, and echoes the likes of David Fincher's The Social Network because of the very clean-cut photography and modern electronic music. Indie Game: The Movie brings the average gamer into the life of a developer with style, focus, and emotion.

The Barrens
The Barrens(2012)
½

Unlike everyone else I've talked to that has seen The Barrens, I enjoyed most of it and the ending could have been much worse. For a B-movie, it's not bad at all. The film follows a family as they camp throughout the Jersey Barrens for a family weekend away. The family quickly runs into what the dad thinks is the Jersey Devil, a famous legend supposedly living in the barrens. The rest of the family thinks the dad is hallucinating, but he is convinced the Devil is really hunting them. When the Jersey Devil is actually shown, it looks surprisingly great; I also loved the campfire scene where the kid was explaining the story of how the Jersey Devil came to be a legend. The Barrens was only brought to my attention because I live in New Jersey and have always been interested in its folklore. Luckily, The Barrens could have been much worse and turns out to be one of the better B-movies around. Final score: 6.5.

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas(2012)

After seeing Cloud Atlas, I still don't even know what it's about. It's a huge movie, in every possible sense of the word; the running time is long and there are so many stories going on at once. First of all, I think it could have been presented in a more clear way, like showing us one story at a time instead of throwing them all at us at once. It's almost hopelessly confusing and difficult to follow, harder to understand than even Inception. Perhaps the biggest question is how did the producers and director(s) expect general audiences to like this? Cloud Atlas is by no means a movie meant for an average viewer to even remotely understand, there are simply too many things happening, and it's true what people are saying; it is a mess. A mess that needs to be cleaned up through repeated viewings, with subtitles. In one of the stories, which takes place centuries into the future, the characters speak in a simplified version of English. This dialect is nearly impossible to make sense of, hence the need for subtitles. Even though the film is vastly complicated, that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy any of it. There's one scene where Tom Hanks throws a guy over the side of a building; unfortunately, this story is only presented in this single scene, which is incredibly weird how quickly it was introduced and how quickly it was dismissed. Why bother showing it to us if for only one scene? And why is Hugo Weaving dressed as a woman? This brings me to the makeup which is a mixed bag. Tom Hanks' makeup is great in the future story, as well as Halle Berry's. But what's going on with Hugo Weaving being dressed as a woman while he is clearly Hugo Weaving? And why are caucasian actors being transformed into Asian actors, and vice versa? I think this film could have made a much bigger mark had it been put into better hands. While Cloud Atlas may be a larger-than-life movie, it's nearly impossible to make any sense of after only the first viewing.

The Cove
The Cove(2009)

The Cove is about the mass killings of dolphins in Japan and a team of activists who try to expose them on camera. It's emotional, eye-opening, and there's rarely a dull moment. It plays out like an espionage film; the filmmakers hire people to make special rocks that hide HD cameras inside them and place them around the cove. The most devastating shot is from the camera placed in the water; we see the water slowly turn to red and you immediately know what's going on. The soundtrack is an incredible composition as well. I learned many things about dolphins that I never knew prior to the viewing; that dolphins do not breathe automatically and that they can in fact kill themselves by not breathing. I loved the ending, it really couldn't have been done better. The Cove is the best documentary I've ever seen.

Small Soldiers

I haven't seen this movie since I was a kid, and it's still great now. Even though the whole thing is a little ridiculous in concept, seeing toys attack people to the song "War" is funny and entertaining. The film has it's own weird little sense of humor, and some of the scenes are quite dark, which is strange for a movie about toys; but this is what makes it stand out. I can understand why kids would love this movie. It's about toys that come to life and attack each other and people. When a kid is playing with toys, that's sort of what they imagine, so the film is kind of like a projection of what playtime means to a kid. Small Soldiers is a dark, twisted, funny, and ultimately entertaining 90's romp.

Food, Inc.
Food, Inc.(2009)
½

I had avoided watching Food, Inc. for quite some time. It's very rare for me to completely avoid watching a film, and there is always a very good reason behind it. Before watching it, I was satisfied with being ignorant about where my food really comes from because I knew I would not like the answer. I was absolutely right. Seeing a "farmer" pick up dozens of dead chicken carcasses and then transport them away echoes the Holocaust but for animals. Seeing a chicken out of breath due to rapid body growth is horribly sad and heart breaking. When they said you would never look at your food the same way again, they were right. One of my favorite all time foods is Perdue's chicken nuggets, and I will never be able to eat them the same way again. Food, Inc. is an incredibly alarming, disturbing, interesting and necessary viewing for anyone that questions the source of their food.

Cidade de Deus (City of God)

City of God is like a Brazilian Slumdog Millionaire; the foreign slum areas and lightning-fast editing remind me of it. Even the soundtrack has a similar type of energy. Unfortunately, there are so many characters being tossed around that it's difficult to feel for any of them. I've always thought that watching a movie in a foreign language makes it harder to connect with, so I was very distant on an emotional level while watching this. There are some really great scenes here, but City of God is mostly an overlong and distant look at life in Brazilian slums.

Apollo 13
Apollo 13(1995)

Apollo 13 follows three astronauts in 1970 as they trek into space towards the moon. They get very close when something goes wrong with their oxygen supply, and the famous quote "Houston, we have a problem" was born. A lot of the dialogue is technical space stuff, but a good amount of it makes just enough sense to tell what's going on. Even though I already knew the ending, it was surprisingly emotional and that's one way to spot a good director; being able to pull a reaction from you even when you know what happens. I have seen better space movies, but the fact that this one is a true story makes it more important than others. Overall, Apollo 13 is a solid depiction of the 1970 crisis; solid performances all around and an emotional payoff at the end.

Sinister
Sinister(2012)
½

This movie was better at being creepy than actually making me jump. The things that made me jump were just loud noises, and that's only because it was in a loud theater. There are some very good creepy parts, particularly a scene where lead character Ellison (Ethan Hawke) walks around his house at night and is followed by weird child spirits. Other good parts include when brutal murders are shown on old Super 8 film. The movie does a good job at being creepy without using a lot of blood, which is rare for a horror movie to attempt. People in the films are hung from a tree, burned alive, and drowned by unknown people behind the camera. Another strong thing about Sinister is the sounds. The music is great, and the fact that there is no sound when the murders are shown on the Super 8 makes it creepier. I also liked the speedy editing; it reminded me of Requiem for a Dream. All of this is great, but Sinister has three huge faults: it isn't genuinely scary, the story gets really dumb towards the end, and the "demon" that haunts the films is barely even shown. Up until the end, the story is actually quite good, with Ellison connecting the murders with each other. Once it is revealed who is doing the actual killings and who is filming them, it becomes almost obnoxious that the screenwriters would write it because it doesn't make it any more "sinister" at all. Ethan Hawke was great for the most part, but his wife (played by Juliet Rylance, an actress I've never even heard of) was not. Why is this woman even British? Sinister excels on a technical level and it is creepy, but it just isn't scary enough and the story becomes disappointing.

Frankenweenie
½

Frankenweenie pays homage to Frankenstein: it's about a boy (named Victor Frankenstein) who resurrects his dog the same way Frankenstein resurrected his monster in the live-action classic. I like everything about the dog himself including the things he does, the noises he makes, and the deformities of his body after being resurrected. The thing I liked the most about this film is definitely the rivalry between the dog and Victor's classmate's bug-eyed cat. Like every other Tim Burton movie, it has his trademark "weird" and dark style, which fits very well with this film. I really liked the ending as well. While everything about Frankenweenie is good, the actual level of entertainment isn't too high. There were times where my mind wandered and I lost/regained interest here and there. The formula doesn't stray far from a typical kids movie, which is probably the reason I occasionally lost interest. I like the fact that it's entirely in black and white and the stop-motion animation is a breath of fresh air, but Frankenweenie ends up landing somewhere between decent and good.

Psycho
Psycho(1960)
½

It's a shame that I already knew the twist about Bates' mother, and I can tell the experience would have been a lot better if I hadn't known. Anthony Perkins is great as Norman Bates in the title role. The final twist is one of the most well-known twists in the history of film, and Hitchcock completely misleads you to believe something else entirely for the duration of the film. The shower scene, another universally-known scene even by people who haven't seen the film, was awesome. As soon as I saw someone slowly enter the bathroom, I knew exactly what was going to happen. The very last scene is fantastic as well and sends you off with a smile. Even 52 years later, the madness of Hitchcock's Psycho is thoroughly enjoyable.

The Night of the Hunter

Between the amazing story, acting, cinematography, and lighting, it's nearly impossible to point out any major flaws. Robert Mitchum dominates every scene he's in and makes for an extremely menacing, sinister, and three-dimensional villain. Mitchum's character, Harry Powell is a reverend with a very dark agenda. He has the word "HATE" tattooed on the fingers of one hand and "LOVE" tattooed on the other and uses the two in an incredibly memorable scene where he explains how the two battle one another in life. The film is about two kids running from Powell as he pursues them for their inherited 10,000 dollars. So many themes and analogies are visited here including love and hate (of course), greed, and the most commonly known theme in the film industry: good and evil. It's rare to see a film use such themes this well. The cinematography is fantastic, particularly when the two kids are in a boat traveling down a river and the camera shows gorgeous shots of the animal presence in the river. The cinematography also helps Powell seem more menacing, as he's often shown as a towering and scary dark outline in the darkness. Also, the songs used in the film are creepy and perfectly match the mood of the scenes. If there's one single flaw with this film, it would be that the final showdown could have been a little stronger. Luckily, the positives of the film are so heavily on the positive side that it's difficult to give it anything less than a 10/10. The Night of the Hunter is one of the most impressive black and white films I've ever seen.

Death Wish
Death Wish(1974)
½

A very weak script standing on very weak performances. Death Wish starts out like your typical revenge flick with the protagonist's (Charles Bronson) family being slaughtered and he soon follows on a rampage to track down the killers and avenge his family. This is not the case with Death Wish. Charles Bronson receives a pistol and murders mugger after mugger. He just happens to be robbed several times within such a short period of time. He doesn't track down his wife's killer or anything logical like that, but instead takes it out on every other person. It's just not a realistic film, even in the slightest sense and the acting is sub-par. When Charles Bronson was told his wife had died, he barely reacted. Death Wish is an easily forgettable attempt at "revenge," especially when so many have done it much bigger and much better.

A Bronx Tale
A Bronx Tale(1993)

A Bronx Tale is a great crime film with strong themes. De Niro proves he is talented on many levels by acting in and directing the film at the same time. This film is mainly about decision making, depicting the childhood of a young Italian kid named Calogero who gets involved with the mob. He witnesses a murder and defends the murderer (played by Chazz Palminteri) because he didn't want to take the heat from the mafia if he were to identify him as the killer. The film proves people do bad things not because they want to but for the sake of everyone's well being. It also deals with racism incredibly well: Calogero starts a relationship with a black girl named Jane. Calogero's dad (Robert De Niro) tells him to think it over simply because they aren't the same race while his now mafia-mentor (Chazz Palminteri) tells him to continue seeing her. I liked how De Niro gave the race perspective to the "bad guy" while De Niro (the proposed good guy) came off as prejudice. A Bronx Tale closes very well, similar to the rest of the film.

The Servant
The Servant(1964)
½

Even if the acting and ideas are good, The Servant left me quite confused. In the first half of the film, a man-servant named Barrett gets hired by a snobby and rude guy named Tony. By the time the 2nd half of the film rolls around, both of their personalities have suddenly changed and there's a big and confusing love quadrangle being tossed around. The pacing is the biggest turn-off here, which doesn't go well with such a strange film.

The Wicker Man
½

I watched this movie for two reasons: 1. Because Nicolas Cage is in it and 2. Because it has been hilariously quoted countless times. While there were occasionally funny scenes, I found The Wicker Man to be a surprisingly overlooked mystery film. The idea of a film taking place on an island in which a strange cult of women have complete control is an interesting one. I really was wondering why the men were being treated the way they were and what the women's intentions were. The ending was weird, but I liked it. Some of it is goofy, but that's what make Nicolas Cage movies so fun to watch, and The Wicker Man is no exception.

Looper
Looper(2012)

It's a shame that Looper didn't live up to the hype. It starts off promising with an interesting setup, but quickly loses its touch. There are a few scenes I really liked, particularly the ending. The performances are sufficient, but none of them stand out in particular. The makeup on Joseph Gordon-Levitt is so extreme that he's almost completely unrecognizable, which is impressive. Later in the film main character Joe (played by Levitt) ends up at a farm occupied by a woman (Emily Blunt) and her rather odd son. Her son is probably the most interesting aspect of the film, as what he is capable of and who he really is becomes more clear as the film's events unfold. The ending was pretty much perfect and I can't think of a better ending. Unfortunately, majority of the movie doesn't rise above "okay." I didn't think Looper was a bad film, but I can't say I was satisfied with the whole thing.

Adaptation
Adaptation(2002)

Adaptation is undoubtedly one of the most original films I've ever seen. The films concept is even more genius than Spike Jonze's previous Being John Malkovich. The film follows the real-life writer Charlie Kaufman trying to adapt a book called The Orchid Thief into a screenplay. The screenplay that he ends up writing is the screenplay of this movie. It sounds very confusing, but it really is a genius concept and has to be seen to be believed. All of the performances are great, and the final act is the most exciting (even if it is the most fictitious). I also loved how the film portrays screenwriters as one of the most vital people to the creation of a film yet they are the most overlooked. The beauty of Adaptation is that you have no idea where it's going to go next because the events are being written as the film progresses. The only complaint I have is that the final act is far superior to the rest of the movie, which isn't nearly as interesting. Overall, I cannot stress enough how original Adaptation is.

Being John Malkovich
½

If there's any reason anyone should see Being John Malkovich at all, it's for how different it is. I've never seen anything like it before, and it is by far one of the weirdest movies I've ever seen in my life. Craig Schwartz (played by John Cusack) discovers a tiny door behind a filing cabinet in his office in which people can crawl through and literally see the world through John Malkovich's eyes. It's a very original idea, and it is certainly cool... at first. It's sad that an idea like this was wasted on what Spike Jonze wasted it on. After Craig introduces the "portal" to his co-worker and even his own wife, they all get tangled up in a bizarre love story in which Craig's co-worker likes to have romantic relations with John Malkovich while Craig's wife is watching through his eyes. It's a lot weirder than it sounds. I have to give point to the concept, but the film uses it to break down into a meaningless love story which I found impossible to connect to simply because of how bizarre it was.

Vanilla Sky
Vanilla Sky(2001)
½

A very complex, confusing, odd, and intimate film. Tom Cruise plays a rich guy named David who gets badly disfigured in a car accident. Prior to the accident, he falls in love with a woman named Sofia (played by Penelope Cruz). The best element of the film is the way it addresses dreams. In one of David's dreams, he's speaking to Sofia and something she says gives away the fact that he's dreaming. The expression on Tom Cruise's face can be described as disappointed, sad, and angered all at the same time and could only be pulled off by an actor with skill. Tom Cruise is a skilled actor, and it shows in Vanilla Sky. The story itself is very good, but should have been presented to the audience in a more clear way instead of throwing everything at us all at once. As confused as I was, Vanilla Sky still entertained me with it's excellent lead performance, great chemistry between Cruise and Cruz, and interesting portrayal of dreams.

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3(2007)

While the final half-hour is a great ending to the trilogy, the rest of the movie doesn't stand up to the standards set by the the trilogy's previous entries. One of the flaws with Spider-Man 3 is the middle act. This is when Peter Parker becomes taken over by the black Venom stuff and he gets way too cocky and gets that obnoxious and kiddish punk look. The first two Spider-Mans were both so charming and witty and this part of the film operates on a completely different pulse than they are, giving it a very offbeat and unnatural feeling. Speaking of unnatural, there are way too many "coincidences" in this movie. So many things are way too convenient to be coincidences, such as how Flint Marko just happens to accidentally fall into a sand particle pit in which he gets transformed into The Sandman (which was nevertheless a very well done scene thanks to some great special effects). Speaking of The Sandman, this threequel has too many villains. The story (and lengthy running time) feel bloated and overcrowded featuring not only The Sandman but Venom. If the writers were smart, they would have followed the same formula as the first two: one villain with a lot of focus on him, and if I had to choose which villain to focus on it would undoubtedly be The Sandman because his motives are very interesting. Because it has more than one villain, when someone mentions Spider-Man villains, you don't think of Sandman or Venom, you think of Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. When it comes to James Franco's Harry, his role feels (mostly) underwhelming. This time, he has decided to pick up his father's legacy (and equipment) and become a cheap looking Green Goblin. His hoverboard (which looks like a snowboard) looks weak compared to Green Goblin's glider and his mask is totally forgettable, also unlike Green Goblins'. And who paints a sword green? Other than him trying to kill Peter and his laughable appearance, Harry's story gets a lot better in the end. Even with it's many faults, Spider-Man 3 manages to somewhat get itself together for an emotional and worthy final half-hour which is what really saved Spider-Man 3 from complete failure.

There Will Be Blood

After seeing it for the first time in a few years, There Will Be Blood is better than I remember. The performances are fantastic and the relationship between Daniel Plainview and his son, H.W. is arguably the most noteworthy aspect. Going into a movie with a title like There Will Be Blood's, you know it's not going to be pretty. And it isn't. Things go from bad to worse for oilman Daniel Plainview. One would also expect a ton of blood and gore from this film (the title, again), but there isn't a whole lot of it and that's what makes the violence that is there so good. In the very beginning, a man who is digging for oil gets crushed by a massive wooden structure that aids in the extraction of the oil and it looked great. I also loved Plainview's attitude towards religion, as it reflects my own. Both Plainview's relationship with his son and a "prophet" (played incredibly by Paul Dano) that represents exactly why he is uninterested in religion come to a very satisfying close. It's impossible to ignore how amazing There Will Be Blood was filmed on a technical level. From beginning to end, the cinematographer gives incredibly precise and crisp camerawork. I also thought the score was odd, but strangely fitting. Everything about this film is pristine, and for the most part, it is. So why exactly doesn't it get a perfect score? Simply because it's very hard to sit through a film that is over two and a half hours, and like any other film that comes with such a lengthy running time comes with a few scenes that could have been cut. Patient viewers will find a rich film that holds great themes and sublime performances.

Resident Evil: Retribution
½

Retribution is the 5th entry in the series, and it is by far the worst. I was really not expecting it to be that bad, but it was simply awful. The opening action scene is actually very cool and well done, add the fact that it's played backwards with an awesome score playing in the background, it sets up what seems like a cool action movie. Wrong. There doesn't seem to be an overarching goal that these characters are working towards. In the previous film, Afterlife, Alice and the group of survivors were trying to get to a refugee camp called Arcadia. They were working towards a goal, and you wanted to see what was going to happen. There is nothing like Arcadia in this sequel, just Alice and a (mostly) new team fighting through fake world cities. Claire and Chris Redfield (played by Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller, respectiely) are both completely absent, which is a huge disappointment considering how great they both were. Instead, they have been replaced by Leon Kennedy and Barry Burton (both from the video game) although I think director Paul W.S. Anderson put them there just because they were in the game. They could have been any other guy with a gun because neither of them feel significant to the story in any way. We are also reunited with Jill Valentine from the 2nd film and Rain from the 1st, but Jill looks completely different and Rain is a clone (which is ridiculous to begin with). The acting is also noticeably worse, from everyone. When you consider how Retribution was this badly done and that it was released in 3D, there's no questioning that Anderson is making them strictly for the money at this point because all effort to make a good film (or even action film) is completely gone. Retribution shows a huge drop in quality in just about every category.

Face/Off
Face/Off(1997)
½

Face/Off is a rare action movie because it's smart, has great performances, and ends up having a lot of heart. The concept is nothing short of awesome: switch a cop's face with a criminal's and let the fun begin. It sounds very simple, but there's a lot that John Woo smartly takes advantage of such as how the characters adapt to their new lives and how they deal with each others' families. The performances are excellent as well. For most of the film, John Travolta plays the criminal and Nicolas Cage plays the cop. It's great to see them do the opposite in the beginning of the film and then see the actors completely switch roles. There's also a ton of great action and the original score is great (especially the piece that plays in the last scene). I loved watching Face/Off mainly because it's such an original idea for a film which makes it a very satisfying breath of fresh air.

Stagecoach
Stagecoach(1939)

Many claim that Stagecoach was the first Western that inspired so many others. It's very hard to appreciate a movie when so many others have done it bigger and better. That's my problem with Stagecoach. Yes, it may have been original in 1939, but it simply doesn't hold up today in any way.

The Cooler
The Cooler(2003)

I liked this movie a lot. Solid performances all around, particularly from Alec Baldwin. The actual premise is pretty unrealistic: William H. Macy plays a man who goes around from table to table in a Vegas casino so he can bring bad luck down on a player who's winning too much. Things get really interesting when his son comes into the mix and asks him for money so he can support his pregnant wife. Things get out of control when Baldwin and his son collide in a shocking, jaw dropping, and incredibly well done scene. Character development is noticeably present, as Macy's luck changes when he falls in love with a waitress at the casino (maria Bello). Her acting is fantastic as well. If it weren't for these great performances, The Cooler would have been dragged down, but luckily the acting fleshes out the plot. With excellent performances and an awesome original score, The Cooler works quite well. Final score: 8.5.

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2(2004)

I wouldn't say it's quite as good as the first, but Spider-Man 2 does manage to uphold the charm and humor that made the first one what it is. The only thing missing this time around is a villain as good as The Green Goblin. Doctor Octopus just isn't as compelling a villain as The Green Goblin was and Willem Dafoe is a far better actor than Alfred Molina (Doc Ock). Unfortunately, the cheesy lines from the first one are still here despite some people claiming there is none. In one scene, Doc Ock has Aunt May hostage and he drops her from a building and then says in an extremely cheesy voice, "Butterfingers." In another scene, Jonah Jameson (hilariously acted by J.K. Simmons) yells, "I want Spider-Maaaaan!" I also thought some of the special effects looked pretty bad, even for a movie from 2004. All that aside, there's a lot of heart here, and the film addresses what it truly means to be a hero, which is extremely rare for a comic book film. Also, the sequence when Spider-Man and Doc Ock are fighting on the speeding train is brilliant. In the end, Spider-Man 2 may not be as good as the original, but it's still a very worthy sequel.

Casino
Casino(1995)
½

When it comes to violence and grittiness, Scorsese knows how to do it. Joe Pesci plays an extremely violent mafia underboss working out of Las Vegas. While De Niro is decent and Sharon Stone is great, Pesci gives the best performance. If there's one film you don't want your kids to see, it's Casino. Its ranked 4th in films that most often use the F word (and it is said A LOT) and the violence is totally raw. Scorsese holds absolutely nothing back when it comes to this. The story is nothing revolutionary and it's overlong by quite a bit, but if you're looking for a solid mafia flick with a huge dose of violence, Casino wouldn't be a bad choice.

The Girl Next Door
½

An underrated and wildly entertaining teen flick. I can understand why an adult wouldn't like it, but it is the definitive movie for male teens. Emile Hirsch plays a high school senior who gets a new 19-year-old neighbor, an extremely charming and magnetic blond played by Elisha Cuthbert. The things they do together is undoubtedly every guys fantasy and it comes to life smoothly on-screen. Timothy Olyphant plays an ex "co-worker" of Cuthberts, and his performance is very likeable. The film, like the guys in the movie, is dirty, yet leaves you satisfied. I can imagine this being extremely re-watchable, echoing the same trait as Superbad. The Girl Next Door is consistently fun, charming, and hilarious, and the fact that it gets more down-and-dirty than any other teen comedy is what makes it unique.

Spider-Man
Spider-Man(2002)
½

After 10 years, the original Spider-Man still holds the same vibe it did back then. I never realized how amazing The Green Goblin is as a villain and as a character. Not only does Willem Dafoe give a wildly insane performance, the character is three dimensional and truly frightening, unlike some modern villains. You can tell the director (Sam Raimi) has a background in horror films because of how scary the Goblin can be. In one scene, Spider-Man rushes into a burning building because he hears an old woman crying for help, and once he approaches her, she turns around and is revealed to be the Goblin under a blanket and that part used to make me jump when I was a kid. Now, after so many viewings, I'm so used to it so I barely even flinch. Still, every aspect of The Green Goblin is implemented into the film with quality and care, and he is probably the best thing this film has going for it. Tobey Maguire is also undoubtedly awesome as the nerdy Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man) who gives off charm, especially when he's on-screen with co-actor Kirsten Dunst. Spider-Man has a few very minor flaws, such as occasionally poor line delivery from Dunst and some of the dialogue is a little cheesy. Other than that, I was amazed at how well Spider-Man has held up after several sequels and even a remake (this one is better). This fantastic original Spider-Man is easily one of the best super hero films of all time, up in the Dark Knight ranks.

The Adventures of Tintin
½

Tintin may have outstanding visuals, but offers little else. The story was like Indiana Jones, with Tintin going from place to place looking for some treasure and having a generic villain follow after him. The entire thing has "been there, done that" written all over it. As harsh as this may sound, it's true: the film is soulless. Unlike other animated hits of today, Tintin never establishes an emotional connection between the characters and the viewer. Like the villain in the film claims, "Looks can be deceiving." That pretty much sums up The Adventures of Tintin. It may be gorgeous on the outside, but under the hood, there's nothing original.

Jaws 2
Jaws 2(1978)

Really not good. It's basically a much worse version of the first. The absence of Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw also contribute to the blandness of this unworthy sequel. None of the characters are interesting anymore, including Brody (played by Roy Scheider from the first) and the terror of the shark killing people is almost completely gone. None of the dialogue is interesting and for the most part, the film is boring. The only cool thing about it is what happens to the shark at the end. Other than that, it's a totally bland sequel unworthy of an audience's attention, and could only be recommended to the most diehard fans of Jaws.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The way Spielberg portrays these "close encounters" is realistic for its subtlety and the scenes with the UFO's make you more and more curious. It's not like modern in-your-face and flashy kind of action alien movie like Cowboys and Aliens, but more like how Jaws portrayed the sharks: with care and only shows the UFO's when worthy of being shown. Richard Dreyfuss' obsession with drawing and sculpting this mountain that he keeps having visions of is undoubtedly interesting, and it all leads up to an incredible final act. It may not be Spielberg's best, but it's certainly worth seeing.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

I'll start off by saying this is a very odd movie. It has some very off-putting tonal shifts, often jumping between trippy, serious, and humorous. Nicolas Cage plays a detective in New Orleans who slowly becomes addicted to painkillers, crack, and cocaine which he takes to suppress the pain from a previous accident that he got from getting a prisoner out of a flooded prison. For one reason or another, the film never shows us exactly how he got hurt. There are some really memorable scenes with Cage, such as when he pulls a gun on a senior citizen and when he does crack with a criminal played by Xzibit. The film falls apart by the ending, which was really bad. The biggest mystery around Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is not its title, but the point of it. I'm not sure what the whole film amounts to, and I'm not sure it amounts to anything. Luckily, Cage is there to save it and he is by far the best thing this film has going for it.

The Campaign
The Campaign(2012)
½

While it is generally amusing, The Campaign failed to deliver it's purpose of making me laugh. Virtually none of the jokes were strong enough to make me laugh out loud, which is surprising for a film that includes two great leads. Both Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis were great; particularly the latter of whom plays a very sissy political candidate (Ferrell is his opponent). It does indeed satirize politics, but it does so without warranting more than a smirk and it starts to go overboard in the second half. Luckily, I didn't have to pay to see this, but if I had, I would've left the theater in a bad mood.

The Expendables 2

It certainly does what it's supposed to do, and then some. The action is pretty much just as crazy as the first, the villain is better, and plenty of great star appearances. The best scenes are clearly the ones that involve Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, and last but certainly not least, Arnold Schwarzenegger. This time around, the film pays homage to the stars' older films such as Arnold's Terminator and Stallone's Rambo by including some very welcome quotes such as "I'll be back." I also liked the (brief) addition of Liam Hemsworth who plays a very skilled sniper. There was a little bit of good humor too. I was disappointed that Jet Li was only in the beginning action scene and that Mickey Rourke wasn't included at all. Overall, I'd say it's slightly better than the first.

The Ides of March

A surprisingly great politic movie. It's a lot easier to understand than other films of the genre. Take Syriana for example. Way too much was going on at once and moved way too quickly. The Ides of March takes its time in telling you one great story, and it really rewards those who pay attention and have an open mind. You don't have to know much about politics to enjoy this movie: I didn't. Aside from politics, it's a film about loyalty, deception, and payback. Ryan Gosling takes the lead with the best performance in the film, worthy of an Oscar nod. Everyone else is very solid as well. The Ides of March may not be much more than people getting back at each other, but it's packed with some awesome scenes, a well written script, and a satisfying ending. Final score: 8.5.

Holes
Holes(2003)
½

It may be too lighthearted, but it's definitely a good movie with a great final act. Shia LaBeouf is good enough as main character Stanley Yelnats, a kid who gets sent to a ridiculous camp in which the job of the campers is to dig one five foot hole every day. When you think about it, a camp like that would never exist in the first place due to the breaking of who-knows-how-many laws. The entire side plot involving Patricia Arquette and Dule Hill is extremely cheesy and very poorly acted. Also, a good amount of the kids in the supporting cast are also really bad actors, and a lot of the dialogue is badly written. I also think it's a shame it isn't anything more than PG, because the subject matter at hand could be a whole lot darker and is clearly watered down so younger audiences can access it. Mind you, there are a lot of great things about Holes which really save it in the end. Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver, and Tim Blake Nelson are all excellent as the staff of the camp and the soundtrack is fantastic. The film also gives off a classic bedtime story vibe at the end, with the whole "no rain" and curse ideas. I really liked the ending because it really closed up the questions the film raised quite nicely. Overall, Holes is a solid kids movie that, unfortunately, falls a little due to the fact that it's a kids movie.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

I actually liked this one more than the first. It wasn't as ridiculous and it just wasn't as boring. Plus, it was a lot funnier. I really liked Ed Harris' role as the villain unlike Sean Bean's role as the villain in the first. Harris' fate is a lot more satisfying and meaningful to the story arc than Bean's was. And I thought the idea of the President having a secret book that holds information only accessible to the U.S. Presidents was really cool, and I think it's definitely possible that something like it exists. National Treasure: Book of Secrets is a sequel that works because it's more interesting and more entertaining than the original.

Poseidon
Poseidon(2006)
½

It looks great and the concept is pretty cool (what happens when you turn a massive cruise ship upside down?), but at the end of the day, it's a generic disaster/survival flick. The sequences when the wave hits the ship and it turns upside down is a pretty amazing feat of technology, but after that, the movie sinks. It's just a handful of passengers trying to avoid drowning as they go from one level of the ship to the next. The ending is incredibly predictable. It's not that Poseidon is bad, there's just nothing great about it.

Almost Famous

Almost Famous is about a rock band that tours the U.S., but underneath the surface it's about the appreciation of music, being famous, and the fragility of a relationship. The scenes that really got to me were the ones between Kate Hudson and Patrick Fugit. I think Kate Hudson and Billy Crudup are both excellent here, but Cameron Crowe could have more carefully selected an actor for Fugit's role. He doesn't show as much emotion as a more experienced actor could, which is kind of disappointing. I also think the ending could have been stronger. Luckily these flaws are so easy to overlook. There's one scene where the rock band's groupies decide to "deflower" Fugit and his character likes Hudson's character so much to the point where he wasn't even paying attention to the groupies, he was just staring at her and she was staring back. It was at this point where I said to myself, "Yeah, this movie is amazing."

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
½

A damn good movie. There is something unexplainably magical about the entire film. Watching ET react to the new world around him is funny and tender. We would expect an alien to be hostile and violent but instead we find ET to be friendly and gentle, which is an interesting take on extraterrestrial life. The strongest message that Spielberg gives in ET is the fact that kids are a lot less violent than adults. The kids that take care of ET and shield him from adults did what they did because adults are the enemy in this case, as for majority of the film they are portrayed from the neck down indicating they are all the same: scared. It is clear that countless movies have taken inspiration from ET, and it makes even more sense after seeing it.

Piranha 3-D
Piranha 3-D(2010)

As long as you know what you're going into, you'll really enjoy it. I was expecting a ton of gore and nudity, but had no clue it would be this entertaining. You couldn't ask for more gore and it gets pretty nasty at times. For example, a girls hair gets caught in a boat's propellers and not only rips off her scalp but part of her face. As far as nudity goes, let's just say that if you're a heterosexual male, you will be very very pleased. The ending was hilarious and perfect for this type of movie. Movies like Piranha 3D have their place in the industry, as silly fun. In this case, very good silly fun.

Jaws
Jaws(1975)

What separates Jaws from other thrillers is the aspect of not always needing to show the shark to get you tensed up. John Williams' instantly recognizable theme alerts you that something bad is going to happen, which in this case, is a killer shark approaching its lunch. Another aspect of Jaws that needs to be considered is the cultural phenomenon its had not only on audiences but the entire film industry. Before watching it, I had known exactly where the theme came from and even hummed it on the beach. I don't know if I would call it timeless, because when it really comes down to it, it's a movie about a killer shark eating people and we've already had so many films copy that sense of a monster killing people. However, there's no denying that it's a pleasure to watch, time after time.

Bridge to Terabithia
½

I love this movie. Driven by the chemistry and performances of Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb, it ends up being an emotionally effective film about imagination and loss. Unfortunately, most of the supporting cast is really terrible. Especially the two kids who bully Hutcherson's character Jess. Other good performances include Robert Patrick as Jess' dad and Bailee Madison as his little sister. As for the premise, two young outcasts who go to the same school befriend and find a rope that they swing on in the woods to get to a made up "kingdom" they named Terabithia. Robb's character Leslie claims it's "a place just for them, where there are no Janice Avery's or Scott Hoager's (local bullies)." I can't help but admire that, having your own safe haven where nothing can affect you but you. The big twist in the final act is emotionally devastating, even for an adult movie, and brings the characters and the audience back to reality. Bridge to Terabithia is one of my favorite kids movies.

National Treasure
½

It's a pretty fun movie with likeable characters, especially Cage's sidekick, Riley (played by Justin Bartha). A lot of it is implausible, but entertaining nonetheless. Some scenes are a little boring and it's a little too long, but most of it is fun. The best scenes are when Cage and Bartha steal The Declaration of Independence.

Goon
Goon(2012)
½

A super entertaining little movie, with several brutal fights and a funny protagonist. Seann William Scott plays Doug Glatt, an idiot who gets involved with a hockey team in Canada. The only reason the hockey team hired Doug in the first place is because of how well he can fight. The film skillfully builds anticipation towards one final brawl between Doug and a rival team's fighter named Ross Rhea (played by Liev Schreiber). In the middle of the movie, the two have a friendly but honest meet-and-greet in a bar that clearly takes inspiration from Michael Mann's Heat in which Al Pacino and Robert De Niro share a very similar scene. Despite the film's very short running time of only 90 minutes, I found myself still caring for Doug and being completely glued to the screen during the fights. I found only one noticeable flaw with Goon, and that was how abruptly it ended. Perhaps it didn't need more, but personally, I was surprised at how quickly the screen cut to black. All in all, the fights alone are reason enough to see the film, and it gives plenty more than that.

V for Vendetta

There is nothing particularly good about this film. That being said, I didn't dislike it. The ending was pretty cool as well as the action scenes. However, I found there to be too much going on at once and it dragged in the middle. It was interesting that V's face was never shown and I liked the explanation he gave for not revealing it. Of course, we all know it's Hugo Weaving behind the mask who makes the character likeable. Perhaps it deserves a future re-watch, but for now, V for Vendetta is between alright and decent.

Total Recall
Total Recall(2012)
½

Director Len Wiseman has created a living, breathing, world due to a staggering amount of detail and impeccable visuals. I don't think I've ever seen a better looking world in a film before. Not only that, but Kate Beckinsale and and Jessica Biel are extremely attractive eye candy. The story isn't as bad as critics are saying, there are times when the reality of Douglas Quaid's situation is very questionable. I was constantly wondering if his "secret agent" background was reality or a figment of his imagination powered by Rekall (which implants a memory in a person's mind). The only thing missing from this remake is the star of the original himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even a little cameo would've been nice. Other than that, this improves on the original in just about every way.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

An extremely underrated guy movie, and has far more to it than meets the eye. This entry heavily outweighs the others in the series. Not only is Tokyo a beautiful, perfect setting for the film, it really adds to the atmosphere. If it didn't take place in Tokyo, it wouldn't be nearly as good as it is. The story, which may seem generic overall, has meaning to it: we're taught the importance of loyalty and trust. The cars are really amazing as well as the colors of Tokyo. Visually, the film is stunning. It may be a stretch to give a movie like this such a high score, but Tokyo Drift creates an atmosphere that isn't found anywhere else, has groundbreaking visuals, and has an incredibly satisfying soundtrack, making it an unforgettable film.

Vertigo
Vertigo(1958)
½

It moves at an extremely slow pace, but it's justified when things pick up towards the end. I went into this expecting another boring "classic" but instead got a very well thought-out script with an amazing score to back it up. I don't want to give anything away, but after a shocking scene, James Stewart meets a girl named Judy who looks exactly like a previous lover. He begs Judy to dress up like her and things start to get crazy once Stewart's character uncovers a murder plot. Those scenes are by far the best in the film, and unfortunately the film ended way too abruptly. Other than that, most of the story is incredible.

Traffic
Traffic(2000)

A very disappointing movie about drug trafficking, told from one too many useless perspectives. The film has so many stories and so many characters making it impossible to care about any of them. One thing I did like about it was that some of the stories had different tints and filters in the way they were filmed. For example, the Mexico storyline had a yellowy Grindhouse type of look and the story about the drug abusing teen was blue and bleak looking. Other than that, I really didn't find anything interesting or above average in this film. The acting was decent, and it's well filmed, but the stories were uninteresting.

The Pursuit of Happyness
½

The Pursuit of Happyness is a film filled with meaning and sweet, sweet emotion. Being based on a true story, Will Smith plays a man named Chris Garner who has to raise his son by himself while attempting to get a job as a stockbroker. Will Smith's performance is certainly present and strong as a man who wants nothing more than to be happy. The ending is so bittersweet and uplifting which would make it impossible to be grumpy after watching it. I think the entire movie is very motivational, and a quote from Will Smith sums it all up: "If you want something, go get it. Period."

Fast Five
Fast Five(2011)

One of the better Fast and Furious. I'd say it's the second best in the series, Tokyo Drift being the first. Action and pretty girls aplenty here, so the movie is basically good eye candy. Some of the stunts are very unrealistic, but they're so cool that you probably won't care about that. I've never been a fan of Vin Diesel or The Rock, but they're both better than usual here. I think The Rock is a lot better at being an antagonist than in the lead. The last heist alone is worth seeing the movie for, as Vin Diesel and Paul Walker pull a massive vault with two Dodge Chargers through a city. Fast Five is a significant improvement to the previous entry, and is worth seeing for those looking for a visual treat.

Leaving Las Vegas
½

Think Shame meets Requiem for a Dream. Nicolas Cage's performance is unbelievably good (by far his best) and Elisabeth Shue is very good as well. Cage stars as an alcoholic who has no plans other than "drinking himself to death" in Las Vegas. Shue plays a prostitute and the two eventually meet. The film is basically the darkest, most uncommon love story you've ever seen and that's what makes it unparalleled. Two people who are both heavily flawed find they can relate to each other simply because they are flawed on a similar level. Also, while the ending is inevitable, it is perfectly captured by the director and actors. I was blown away by pretty much everything about this film.

Troll 2
Troll 2(1990)
½

The worst movie of all time, but it's for exactly that reason that makes it entertaining enough and worth seeing. The acting and dialogue is so poorly delivered, it's pretty fun to watch the horribleness unfold. I watched the documentary Best Worst Movie to get a feel for the cult and history of Troll 2, and there's no way I could miss watching the subject at hand. Unfortunately, the fun starts to wear off by the time the second half stops by, so watching the entire thing isn't exactly necessary. It is however totally worth watching at least the first 45 minutes just to get a feel of why the film is referred to as "The Best Worst Movie," and it's exactly that.

Seven Pounds
Seven Pounds(2008)

A very underrated drama with great performances and an extremely serious plot. It's definitely not perfect though: Woody Harrelson's character should have had more screen time with Will Smith and I felt that the way the film was presented made it harder for me to emotionally care for the characters. For majority of the film, we have no idea why Will Smith is going around and helping all of these people, for seemingly no reason (of course until the big revelation at the end). I think the ending is so perfect, Will Smith's character really capitalizes on his goal. The three main performances are all really good, which includes Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, and Woody Harrelson. I noticed the film had the same sort of "real" feeling as The Pursuit of Happyness (which was helmed by the same guy), which is the most natural type of style for a drama. Even with it's flaws, Seven Pounds kept me completely entranced in the plot from beginning to end.

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight is clearly the best in Nolan's Batman trilogy, mainly due to Heath Ledger's unforgettable landmark performance. It's such a shame that Heath Ledger died; such wasted talent. His performance as The Joker is one of the best performances ever seen on the big screen, and he is already a legend because of it. After seeing it so many times, I finally started to notice the other great performances here, especially Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. My favorite scene is when The Joker's truck gets flipped over and he tries to get Batman to run him over. I think the reason The Joker is so unique is not only because of the performance, but because he has no real motive. In the film he clearly stated that he doesn't make plans like other criminals, he just does things, without thinking. I also loved how Christopher Nolan decided to film parts with an IMAX camera: those scenes look amazing on a visual scale. If only he had decided to film the entire movie with the IMAX camera. The Dark Knight is an absolute masterpiece and stands as the greatest comic book film of all time.

Finding Neverland

A very good movie with very good performances and a very well written script. The film may be accessible to kids (due to the PG rating) but I don't think Marc Forster intended for kids to understand it the same way adults would. Finding Neverland is a whole lot more than the creation of Peter Pan, it's about imagination and gives examples as to why some people would have a limited one. Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore (Charlie Bucket from Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) both steal the show, and that ending really brings out all of the emotion the film slowly builds. I was shocked at the incredibly large yet welcome amount of meaning this film had. I find the best movies to be emotional and meaningful, and Finding Neverland possesses both of those qualities.

The Cable Guy

I really liked this movie, mainly because of Jim Carrey. He's a rare actor who has the natural gift of making people laugh, and he really is a natural as The Cable Guy. The Cable Guy is an obsessive... well cable guy, with a character defining lisp who takes a particular interest in Steven (played by Matthew Broderick). Broderick turns in a really bad performance and he can't deliver simple lines of dialogue to save his life. With a performance as hilarious and entertaining as Carrey's, it's very easy to overlook this minor flaw. There are some truly funny scenes, especially when The Cable Guy destroys everyone in a game of basketball, and of course, when he sings karaoke. Judging by the ratings the film has gotten, I'd say it's a pretty underrated comedy.

Office Space
Office Space(1999)
½

Like Judge's Extract, Office Space may not be laugh-out-loud funny, but it definitely puts a smile on your face and entertains you throughout. I really loved the way the film presents an office: as something that can really waste your time when you could be making money in better ways. It shows that not everyone is meant to be cooped up in an office for the rest of their lives, which is important to consider when making career choices, therefore making the film itself important.

Batman Begins
½

After seeing Dark Knight Rises, I think I like this one more than ever. For me, the villains have always made the movie when it comes to Nolan's Batman, and Batman Begins is no exception. I'm not talking about Ra's-Al-Ghul, I'm talking about the Scarecrow (played by the great Cillian Murphy). His methods are extremely effective: he uses a hallucinogen gas on his enemies that transforms anything they see into a living nightmare. Right before he decides to gas someone, he puts on a scarecrow mask, and the gas makes him look even crazier. As good as it is, I don't think it's as good as The Dark Knight, but probably as good as Dark Knight Rises. Nolan's vision of Gotham changed so much after this one, plus the actors that play Rachel and Falcone changed, so this one feels a little disconnected to Dark Knight. With all the flaws aside, Batman Begins is one of the few blockbusters that work particularly well because it has one thing the others rarely have: an effective story.

The Man Who Wasn't There

The Man Who Wasn't There is filmed very well and the story is good on paper, but an emotional connection to the characters or the things that happen to them "wasn't there." The film gives off a good looking noir feel, as it is presented in black and white. It has fine performances, most notably from Billy Bob Thornton (whom I met in person a few months back) who plays a very quiet and concentrated man. He gets himself tangled up in a bloody mess and hires a lawyer to get him out of it. The film seemed particularly interesting in the beginning, when the Coen brothers introduce Thornton's character. Once Thornton gets tangled up in this bloody mess, it gets a whole lot less interesting while the opposite should have happened. The ending presents some very good themes and ideas, but I just wasn't engaged in the plot. I think the Coen brothers are very talented guys, but I really prefer their new films compared to their old. I wasn't crazy about Fargo, and I definitely wasn't crazy about this.

Extract
Extract(2009)
½

There's nothing wrong with any of the performances and Mila Kunis is devastatingly good looking. One of the biggest disappointments was how one dimensional her character is. The concept is actually quite interesting: Joel (Jason Bateman) hires a male prostitute to have an affair with his wife so he wouldn't feel bad about having an affair with a con artist named Cindy (Mila Kunis). While very little of it is actually funny, Extract somehow manages to be effectively entertaining from beginning to end.

Lord of War
Lord of War(2005)
½

Nicholas Cage's leading performance as Yuri Orlov, an international arms dealer, is quite uneven in quality. Sometimes he's great and other times he very poorly delivers dialogue and narration. The part could have easily been given to a better actor. It's not that I think Cage is a bad actor, I just don't think he does well with dramas. Jared Leto is great as Yuri's cocaine-addicted brother. The film couldn't have opened any better: the scene shows us the entire lifespan of a bullet, starting from it being made in a factory and ending in a much darker place. The film slowly gets more emotional and the performances become more solid as it goes on, making for a fantastic final act. Lord of War has an extremely well-written script and shows us a very unusual side of war making it a unique experience.

OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus (Lost in Rio)
½

Jean Dujardin is as great as he was in the first. It's not as laugh-out-loud hilarious as the first because the humor isn't as surprising. It's sad to see Berenice Bejo leave the cast because she was so charming as the Bond girl because Louise Monot really doesn't even come close. The laughs are spread out a little more this time around, so it feels well paced. OSS 117 isn't the kind of film you should take seriously because it's very obvious that it was meant to be silly and make fun of the average spy film, which it does very well. Even with its flaws, Lost in Rio is just as fun as the first.

The Expendables

Throw together some of the greatest action stars of all time and what do you get? A super entertaining action flick with great gore and crazy fight scenes. Terry Crews' rapid-fire shotgun is probably the most lethal gun I've ever seen in a film. The story is quite generic (save for a very good scene between Stallone and Rourke) and it could really use a more complex villain, but you're not here for an Oscar winning screenplay, you're here for a ton of insanely well done violence, and the film delivers exactly that.

Dawn of the Dead

Here's one of the greatest zombie films of all time. Amazingly well done gore and violence, killing zombies has never been more satisfying or rewatchable. Stands up there with Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. The movie takes on the classic zombie scenario: hiding out in a mall. The characters are likeable, particularly CJ who always claims the group of survivors is like a nursery school. I've seen it countless times, and it remains fun to watch. Highly recommended.

Moon
Moon(2009)
½

Pretty interesting ideas here, and its well directed. The concept was well executed by newcomer director Duncan Jones. The loneliness and despair of Sam Rockwell being so alone on the moon combined with a great score creates a very unique atmosphere in this eerie science fiction gem. Kevin Spacey's voice is perfectly emotionless for the very likeable robot Gerty. The cinematography is excellent as well. There are so many beautiful shots of the moon and Earth. Sam Rockwell's performance is really good too. There are a few huge twists which keeps the movie interesting. The film is not only a great character study, but a great science fiction movie.

Best Worst Movie

I'm generally not a big fan of documentaries, but I liked this one so much. It's about the worst movie of all time, Troll 2: directed by a vain Italian who thinks he's the best director ever with some of the worst performances of all time tacked on. The documentary chronicles a sort of revival of the film after being in the dark for about 18 years. In Troll 2, the main character was a little boy, and that actor is the director of this documentary. It's interesting to see him go around and talk to the actors and see what they think of the film now and even what they were thinking while the movie was being filmed. They eventually track down the director who seriously thinks the movie is amazing, and gets mad when everyone says it's garbage. The documentary gets really sad when they go to visit the mother of the family in Troll 2, a now crazed and deranged woman who takes care of her elderly mother. It was just really sad to see the outcome for most of these actors, because like George Hardy (the father in the film) said, he only wanted to be famous. Best Worst Movie works so well because it not only raises emotions, but scary truths about going into the film industry.

The Dark Knight Rises
½

The Dark Knight Rises was quite a journey for me. After months of intense hype, it quickly became the most excited I had ever been for a film. Nobody was expecting Bane to be another Joker, and neither was I, but I found the scenes with Bane to be particularly satisfying. My favorite scene is when Bane takes control of a plane he was being taken prisoner on. The scene gets crazy so quickly and it's incredibly thrilling. Tom Hardy, one of my favorite actors, plays Bane and he is simply amazing as him. Physically, he couldn't be more intimidating with massive muscles and a muffle-like mask on his face. The mask does make him pretty hard to hear, unfortunately. Bane was what I was most excited to see, and his character really is an incredible and menacing one. I do think Nolan should have shown us exactly why Bane needs the mask, and he isn't as important to the ending as he should have been. I was a little disappointed with the way Nolan handled Bane's final fate. I was surprised by Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. She was very likeable and is a great character. Christian Bale was also excellent as Batman himself. I think this was his best performance as Batman. Also, the soundtrack is so incredibly good, just like The Dark Knight's was. Unfortunately, the film is a little too long and there are a lot of references to Batman Begins and Ra's al-Ghul (played by Liam Neeson). To be honest, I forgot about Batman Begins a long time ago. Because of this, some of the events that happened in the movie didn't impact me as much. Without spoiling anything, I didn't really like the twist with Marion Cotillard's character. The film's ending is very good, and it nicely concludes the trilogy. At first, I was disappointed with the movie, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how good it is. All in all, The Dark Knight Rises may not have lived up to my expectations (and it wasn't nearly as good as The Dark Knight), but it still boasts an amazing villain with great performances and a fitting end.

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

You really have to give credit to Georges Méliès for making the very first science fiction film. Not only that, but this is the oldest movie I've ever seen. Made in 1902 (that's 110 years ago) and clocking in at only 12 minutes, A Trip to the Moon is somehow magical. I think it's age alone makes it worth seeing. The premise is simple: a group of astronomers build enter a capsule-like object in which they are shot off into space via cannon and land on the moon. The only flaw with this film(at least for the version I watched) is the narrator. His French accent was so heavy that I could barely understand anything he said. But you're not here for the sound: after all, it is technically a silent movie. A Trip to the Moon is totally worth your time and every self-respecting movie enthusiast should see it.

The Bourne Ultimatum

The third entry in the Bourne trilogy rehashes the same elements from the superior preceding films, which in turn, makes it the most disappointing. It's not that what's here is bad, because there are some exciting scenes. It's just not different enough from the last two to make it stand out. Matt Damon is really the only thing that carries this repetitive and badly filmed threequel. While the camera isn't as shaky as it was in Supremacy, it's still bad and needs to be steadier to understand who's hitting who in a fist fight. The dialogue and even plot are both incredibly predictable, as I predicted what the ending would be within the first 20 minutes. I was quite disappointed with this because it is almost identical to Supremacy and because everyone said it was the best in the trilogy, yet it was in fact the worst.

The Crow
The Crow(1994)
½

The Crow could have been great, but was ruined by weak performances and ugly production values. The movie has a good, dark style but the makeup and special effects are a huge turn off. I was surprised at how disengaging the performances were as well, particularly Michael Wincott's who plays a very dull and tedious villain. If this movie were to be remade with a bigger budget, a more serious director, and a polished script, it would be so much better than what we have here. There are some cool scenes, but overall, I found The Crow to be a very poorly put together movie.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
½

Better than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, for sure. Despite the film's length (3 hours), I was surprised to be found quite entertained by it, with only a few dull scenes, which is impressive for a film of this length. The story is really good and the acting is universally excellent. While Clint Eastwood played his usual, quiet self (which is still good), I was particularly engaged by Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach's performances. Also, the soundtrack is remarkable and the cinematography is gorgeous. If there is any flaw with this film at all, it would have to be the ending, which I think was a little weak compared to the rest of the film. In the end, when it comes to Westerns, this is the cream of the crop.

The Bourne Supremacy
½

It's exciting, but the filming is way too hyper. Fight scenes are very difficult to make out because the shot is either too close or cuts to the next too quickly. It would have been so much better if it wasn't filmed that way. Other than that, it's a really smart chase movie. It's so much like the first, with Bourne on the run for the entire film, so if you liked the first, you'll like this one. The coolest scenes are when Bourne is talking to a government agent on the phone and then reveals he's watching them through the window. Matt Damon is really good too, and he turns in a possibly better performance than the first. I wouldn't say Supremacy is better than Identity, but it's still good.

Chicago
Chicago(2002)

It's very well made and performed, but it just doesn't have the same fiery passion that Marshall's more recent Nine does. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere are both excellent, but Renee Zellweger is just plain annoying. She tries to act cute, but really isn't. The movie dishes a very serious subject (murder) and passes it off as something not too serious and humorous. And how did this get even close to winning Best Picture? Especially over The Pianist, Lord of the Rings, AND Gangs of New York? It's entertaining to a point, but undeniably disappointing.

Insomnia
Insomnia(2002)

Christopher Nolan yet again proves he can direct fantastic movies with Insomnia. The odd 24-hour Alaskan sunshine mixed with the beautiful landscapes and geography are both a very fresh and strange place for a detective movie to take place in, but it makes it that much better. The incredible soundtrack mixed with the setting and events that occur create a very unique type of atmosphere. Al Pacino is great, as usual and I love seeing Robin Williams in serious roles. As limited as they may be, he was amazing in Good Will Hunting as he is here. The fog chase scene is my favorite scene, because the fog creates a mysterious layer of danger. The scene could be easily compared to what would happen if one were to drive in heavy fog; an accident could easily happen. I also loved the portrayal of what it's like to never sleep, especially in the last half hour. Insomnia isn't just any old crime thriller because it teaches us why it's important to be truthful and what can happen to our conscience when we aren't.

U-571
U-571(2000)

An exciting, tense, and thrilling submarine movie. I was surprised at how much action there was, and it was constant. The acting is great too. Matthew McConaughey and Harvey Keitel really shine in their roles. The special effects are fantastic for their time. The best shot is when the U.S. Navy team fires a torpedo at a German submarine and it both implodes and explodes at the same time. The cinematography is very good as well. The camera is often hoisted on a mast as the submarine dives underwater or rises afloat. The story isn't revolutionary, but it doesn't have to be. You're here to watch Navy battles and submarines getting blown up, and there's plenty of it. It's a really well done movie, and extremely entertaining.

Stand by Me
Stand by Me(1986)
½

This movie is very honest in it's outcome: that not everything ends happily or the way you originally wanted it to end. I hate when movies end unrealistically or too happily, and this movie ended perfectly. Four childhood buddies sneak out of town to find a dead body and return as local heroes. It's that kind of movie that has you really anticipating the end and wanting to see if they find this body or not, so viewers are really counting on the ending. And Rob Reiner nailed it perfectly. In the end, it didn't come down to the circumstances of the body but to the circumstances of the four boys' friendship, and I think the movie perfectly captures the truth about childhood friendships.

The Bourne Identity

The fighting sequences are by far the best part of this movie. If you're here expecting a compelling story, you may or may not find it, but the action is tremendously good. Some of the scenes are really tense and well choreographed. The scenes in between the action (the dialogue) can get a little boring, but it's forgiven when the action is this good. Matt Damon's performance is great as well. The premise is interesting as well: a man wakes up on a ship with bullets in his back and he has no idea what his name is or how he got there. The movie then follows him on his adventure to discover his identity (hence the title) and find out who is constantly trying to kill him. Like I said, you may or may not get a kick out of the story. Even if you don't, there's no reason not to enjoy the swift action.

Transsiberian
½

You won't know who's side you're on in this intricate suspense film. It's deeply involved, and probably would be better understood after multiple viewings. Emily Mortimer's performance as main character Jessie is truly natural and she looks truly frightened here. This movie is a classic example of being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. The atmosphere is really great as well. We rarely get to see this side of Russia, and it's really a dark, grim place. The only complaint I have is that so much happens at the end, and not all of it is clearly explained. I guess it felt sort of anti-climatic, but I'm sure with future viewings, it will all become clearer. I was really on edge while watching this unexpectedly great movie.

OSS 117: Le Caire Nid d'Espions (OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies)
½

I was interested in this because of my liking for Hazanavicius's Academy Award winning The Artist. There are some really hilarious parts in this movie and Jean Dujardin is too great as secret agent OSS 117. Dujardin really makes the movie as good as it is. Berenice Bejo is charming and stunning as "the Bond girl" Larmina. The only problem is that most of the laughs are packed into the first half of the movie while the second half actually kind of drags. I was certainly entertained by this movie, especially in the first half.

Savages
Savages(2012)

A great, dark, gritty movie about love, friendship, and violence. The premise isn't anything new: two successful pot growers run into a dangerous Mexican cartel who kidnaps their girlfriend and threatens to kill her if they don't comply. The execution is what I was impressed with. The violence is so satisfying, and Benicio Del Toro plays an amazing character named Lado. Lado is the cartel's second-in-command and he's violent and has a sense of humor at the same time. He's by far the best thing about Savages. His character alone is worth the price of admission. The ending was also great to say the least. It concluded on a very positive note (with a little help from a fantastic cover of "Here Comes the Sun") and left a very good message with us, the message that we all have a savage side in us.

Syriana
Syriana(2005)

An uninteresting politic-driven movie that just isn't my cup of tea. I could tell if I were to understand what was going on or even be interested in what was going on, I'd like it. It's well acted (certainly not Academy Award worthy, which Clooney apparently was) and it's well filmed but it's really hard to keep track of the overly complex screenplay. The only people who should bother with Syriana are people who really understand politics (and care about them, for that matter) or people who can easily keep track of complicated plots.

Hostel: Part III
½

I was surprised by this, I really enjoyed it. There are two big twists in the movie, one in the very beginning and one at the very end and they're awesome. They're probably the best twists in the entire trilogy. The gore is arguably more creative in this one: there's one scene where a guy slices off another guy's face and then puts it on a mannequin. It's pretty crazy. The problem with this direct-to-DVD movie is you can really tell it's one just by looking at it and the final act just isn't creative (apart from the last scene). Other than that, I was shocked they were smart enough to put the two twists in and I really liked them. The gore is great too. Hotsel: Part III is a perfect movie for fans of the genre and people who love great twists.

The Hangover Part II

Like the first, it's a fun movie, but it rehashed way too much of the material that it used. The concept is identical except this one takes place in Thailand instead of Vegas. While I thought it was funny, it wasn't funny enough for me to laugh out loud, which is how I felt with the first Hangover. The soundtrack is really good, it really fits the mood of the movie and the individual situations. It's always fun to watch Zach Galifianakis play Alan, or any character for that matter. There's an awesome cameo at the end that really surprised me and will really please the fans of the first one. The worst and most annoying performance comes from Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow. His attitude and accent are both incredibly irritating when combined, but luckily, he's got a relatively minor role. The Hangover Part II is a fun movie to watch, but don't expect anything groundbreaking.

Ted
Ted(2012)
½

The best comedy of the year so far, clearly beating 21 Jump Street and The Dictator. The comedy is simply amazing: rarely does a movie have more funny jokes than jokes that fall flat. There are very few jokes that don't warrant at least a grin and it's amazing how many laughs were packed into one movie, especially the beginning. My personal favorite moment was when Mark Wahlberg and the Flash guy were fighting the Chinese guy while Ted was fighting the duck on the floor. I think with most comedies, the directors don't take enough time to ask themselves, is the audience really going to find this funny? In Ted's case, I think Seth MacFarlane either took the time to really think about that or he's just incredibly talented. It's probably a bit of both. The fact that Ted is only a teddy bear widens the range of what normally would and wouldn't be considered funny. Ted is also visually attractive. Mila Kunis looks stunning every second she's on the screen and there are several "Awww" moments with Ted himself. After all, I think most people grew up with some sort of plush toy, so it's relatively easy to relate to Wahlberg's character and the struggles that come with having Ted around. Through all the good times, there is one flaw with Ted. It really follows the exact same format that every other comedy/romance follows: everything starts out great, something bad happens which sends the hero into a saddened state, and then everything goes back to normal. It's kind of annoying when you see it happen time after time, but I guess it's just a format that works well with these kinds of movies. When you have humor that's as good as Ted's, it's pretty easy to
overlook that flaw. It's going to be pretty hard for other comedies to top Ted this year.

War of the Worlds

Stephen Spielberg really hit the mark with this amazing depiction of an alien invasion. The invasion is shown entirely from the point of view of a dock worker named Ray Ferrier (played by Tom Cruise) and his two kids Rachel and Robbie. Cruise is awesome, and his performance is one of his more memorable ones. Dakota Fanning can be annoying with her ear-piercing screams, but her acting is great for her age. War of the Worlds works so well because it makes some of the best use of special effects I've ever seen and creates a true terror deep inside of you. Unexplainable things occur before our eyes and they aren't always explained because explaining it would make the terror more understandable and less effective.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

The cinematography is gorgeous, the acting is very good (particularly from Alec Guinness), and the ending was one of the most heart pounding sequences I've ever seen. All plot points lead directly to the ending, and it is so epic. The sets are so grand, as the production team really did construct a bridge that took nine months to build specifically for this movie. One thing I noticed which was very odd was that there was no background music for scenes that seemed to be longing for it the most. I can understand why this was, but I think an emotional piece of music would have really brought out more feeling. The huge event that occurs at the end (which I won't spoil) was not fake, which shows how far director David Lean was willing to go to make that shot perfect, and it was. I always bash classic movies: from Casablanca to Lawrence of Arabia (which was another film by Lean), but The Bridge on the River Kwai is what a classic movie should be, and it truly holds up to this day.

The Breakfast Club

I really liked it, it left me in a good mood. The concept is simple but clever: throw five high school students from different cliques into one room for nine hours and see how they interact. It's almost like an experiment. I wouldn't be surprised to find a group of researchers in a backroom looking at surveillance monitors writing stuff down on a clipboard. As set up as the premise may seem, it's still a very original and welcoming one. These are interesting characters, all of whom have a tragically realistic back story. For example, the jock's parents always expect him to do better, the criminal's parents abuse him, and the nerdy kid's parents expect straight A's. The Breakfast Club is both dramatic and fun, and I had a great time watching it.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World isn't really a comedy; at least not wholly. It starts out pretty funny and then the jokes dissipate into a very good romantic drama with fiery chemistry. While Steve Carell is excellent, Keira Knightley really steals the show in one particular scene where she calls her parents to check up on them, and her tears start flowing. The interesting part about the relationship between Carell and Knightley's characters is that they're both completely different people of different ages who are strangely compatible with each other. In one scene, they're eating dinner together and they just sort of stare at each other and the sparks practically fly off the screen. The supporting cast include an adorable dog and the very pleasant surprise of Martin Sheen, who plays Carell's father. I really like the idea of taking the very popular apocalypse premise and mixing it with comedy and romance. I think this movie got slowly better and more serious as it went along, which is a good thing. The best part of the movie is probably the ending which I thought was tense, emotional, and perfect. Final Grade: 8.5.

Lawrence of Arabia

I will say that it has great performances and great cinematography, but this movie's killer was the length. At just under four hours, it's the longest movie I've ever seen (by far) and it had me counting down the remaining minutes until it was over. I've never had a movie feel more of a chore than Lawrence of Arabia did. Most of the scenes are just soldiers walking through deserts and really boring 60's dialogue. I don't mind when movies have a lot of dialogue, but come on. Not only is the dialogue uninteresting, the premise is as well. A British officer is sent to Arabia to fight Turkish rebels. It's not even original. I understand when people say "it was good for it's time," but it really annoys me when they say "it still holds up today." No, it far from holds up, and in fact, it really shows its age: it looks old and it sounds old. Lawrence of Arabia is yet another overrated, overlong, "epic classic" that failed to stand the test of time.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
½

So good. Easily one of the best Judd Apatow films, if not the best. The cast is perfect due to their amazing chemistry and the laughs they provide. The only thing I was disappointed with was the final act. Too many romance films end like that, and if I were the director, I would have changed it up to make it stand out from the generic pool of romances. Luckily, the humor, chemistry, and just entertainment we're provided with is more than enough to make up for it. Usually, with two hour movies, I get a little bored once in a while. There wasn't a single scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall that I was bored with. A job well done.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
½

Sky Captain is a rare movie that pays homage to classic movies of the early-to-mid 20th century. There are so many aspects of this film that are just shouting retro. The tyranny of the incredibly rich and genius Totenkopf reminded me ever so much of Charles Foster Kane from the 40's classic Citizen Kane. His weird robots reminded me of The Day the Earth Stood Still and the odd special effects and dialogue reminded me of just about every classic adventure movie. The music and all of the various parts of the world that are visited reminded me of Indiana Jones as well. Jude Law is quiet as Sky Captain, but I liked him in this a lot. Gwyneth Paltrow is a little annoying and her lines are so cheesy, but you have to understand the director wasn't trying to make a modern classic. The visual style and special effects have a very old quality to them. If you go into this movie with the expectations of an amazing modern adventure movie, you will be let down. If you're expecting a movie that is more of a tribute to classic films, you'll enjoy Sky Captain.

Crash
Crash(2004)

An amazing set of stories that unify at the end. Each story concludes in an emotionally powerful way. The ending of Matt Dillon and Thandie Newton's story is so amazing. The soundtrack is phenomenal and couldn't make you feel more sensitive. All of the performances are top notch as well. My interpretation of what the director's message was is that bad things happen to people every day, and we all want to bring race into the picture. Some argue that everything that occurs in this movie is too much of a coincidence, but you know what? The level of emotion that Crash reaches is so staggering to the point where you shouldn't even be caring about those minor setbacks, and if you do, you need to let off some steam. To be honest, everything about Crash is amazing.

Clerks II
Clerks II(2006)

Kevin Smith has truly mastered the art of melding comedy and drama into one with this nearly perfect sequel. The only scene that I really didn't like was the donkey beastiality scene. Even though nothing was shown, it was still too strange and made me uncomfortable. Other than that, there is absolutely nothing to complain about with Clerks II. The performances have been significantly revamped. Brian O'Halloran seems completely synced with his role and the lines seem natural for him. Jeff Anderson has also evolved into an actor who can be super goofy but also dramatic and emotional. Jay and Silent Bob return as well, and they are equally as vital to the world of Clerks as Dante and Randal are. I loved the references to other films such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Silence of the Lambs, and I found the jokes associated with them to be the funniest. Clerks II really shines in it's final act when characters Dante and Randal decide to do something that really touches upon the origins of Clerks, and it's an incredibly bittersweet scene. Clerks II is hilarious, genuinely heartfelt, and most importantly it's a staggering improvement over the first. Final grade: 9.5.

2001: A Space Odyssey
½

This was immensely interesting to say the least. Visually, A Space Odyssey is a masterpiece. For 1968, the visual effects are masterfully done and highly original. The most incredible sight of course would be the circular rooms with the weird gravity. Imagine a hamster wheel and being able to walk the entire 360 degrees of it without falling when you get to the top, as if you have magnetic boots. It's such a pleasure seeing such a strange, different, and most importantly cool feat of technology. The music is like a compilation of the most epic and classic music ever and really fits with the scope of space. I also really liked how silent and also dangerous Kubrick's depiction of space was. The beginning of the film shows us a 4 million year old past with monkeys and deserts. I also loved the monkey's discovery of tools, which for them was a bone that they used as a weapon. It was a perfect prologue to the majority of the movie which was futuristic, and the transition from past to future was smooth and efficient. I liked HAL's role in the film as well. He seemed like he was perfect at first, but once you realize he's flawed, things get very interesting. A movie like this, while fantastic, is not for everyone. If you don't like movies that beg you to come up with your own interpretation, you won't like it at all. But the ending really got me thinking. I can imagine still trying to figure out the ending weeks from now, if not months.

Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy

A quick moving comedy that kept me entertained from start to finish. Not all of the jokes are good, but a good amount of them are great. I think Steve Carell was the funniest character. The plot isn't complex at all and is a perfect movie to just sit down and laugh to. Will Ferrell's obnoxious ego and all of the cameos were great too. Anchorman also shows how the good looking girl always falls for the vain popular guy, and seeing Christina Applegate fall for Will Ferrell is equally unrealistic as it is funny. Overall, I had a good time watching Anchorman.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

We get direct confirmation from actors in the movie that it's a bad movie... in fact they talk about bad movies and then look directly at the camera as if they're telling the audience, "Yes, you are watching a bad movie." It's things like that plus all of the hilarious cameos from George Carlin to Mark Hamill that make this comedy a great time. The rap that Jason Mewes does in the beginning is the defining scene of the movie, and it got stuck in my head. And of course, there's Kevin Smith as Silent Bob who is also funny when he speaks (even if it is extremely rare). Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is a very stupid movie, but there's no denying how funny it is.

Clerks
Clerks(1994)

Clerks was kind of a mixed bag for me. Growing up in New Jersey, I understood all of the references to it including the colleges Seton Hall and Monmouth University. I definitely liked the fact that the entire movie takes place in a real convenience store and video rental store, and that the movie was from the perspective of the clerks. I always appreciate movies that do new things. The funniest guys in the movie are Jay and Silent Bob. The dance they perform in front of the store is really funny. Unfortunately, I found Brian O'Halloran's leading performance to be incredibly stiff and you could really tell he barely practiced his lines. That kind of ruined it for me. There aren't a whole lot of bad things in particular about Clerks, but the good things aren't that good either.

Prometheus
Prometheus(2012)
½

Ridley Scott manages to revive the wonder and visual awe that his classic Alien had three decades ago with Prometheus. The movie kept my thoughts going throughout and constantly arose new questions and wonders. Michael Fassbender's performance is by far the most note-worthy performance, and he's funny and excellent. The visuals set a new benchmark for science fiction movies. The soundtrack is also breathtaking. The first piece that plays, titled "Life" (by Harry Gregson-Williams) has a very large, epic feel to it and has a classic movie quality to it. While everything was great, Prometheus is missing one thing: the ambiance and atmosphere that Alien established. The film has incredibly obvious references and connections to it's 1979 "sequel." While the events don't lead directly to the beginning of Alien, there's no way Prometheus isn't a prequel. It does, however, stand alone in the overall message of the film which is it's philosophy on the origins of human life.

Blade Runner
Blade Runner(1982)

One of the most overrated films in the history of film. Ridley Scott builds a world that seems like it would be rich with colorful characters and an interesting plot but the movie fails to establish either. What he does is drop us in a world filled with made up terms and events as if the world we are seeing has had a history we should have been shown prior to the beginning. The visual effects and style are both spectacular, but the quality of Blade Runner's technicalities don't match up with the script. I've now seen it twice, both times I watched the Final Cut. I still don't get all of the praise for this movie. The artificial humans Roy and Pris are weird to say the least, and I mean that in a very bad way. In the last half hour, they howl, do back flips, punch through walls, and have an offbeat sense of humor, and none of it makes any sense. If I had to describe Blade Runner to someone, I would say that it's one of the seven wonders of the movie industry.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

The movie really shines through DiCaprio's unique performance and the last half hour. Johnny Depp is very quiet and reserved in this one, but I wouldn't say that's a bad thing. If I had to explain it to someone, I'd say it's a film about a guy who became a better person through his difficult experiences and responsibilities. I really enjoyed seeing two of my favorite actors collaborate. It ends on a very sweet note, which was perfect.

Alien
Alien(1979)
½

Creates a totally unique atmosphere that has never been recreated. The halls of the Nostromo are eerie with nothing in them; add a huge alien and it becomes even scarier. For a movie who's budget was so miniscule, the effects are impressive for their time. Even more impressive is the makeup and design of the aliens. When the crew discovers the alien has removed itself from the victim's face, they dissect it. The detail in the alien was ridiculous and looked like an actual living organism. The only bad thing about the movie is the annoying strobe lights that constantly show up at the end. It's really annoying, especially if you're watching in the dark, but that's only a minor complaint. All monster movies and perhaps even horror movies trace back to Alien. It's like The Beatles of its genre.

Groundhog Day

An amazing movie. Groundhog Day works incredibly well as a romance film because it doesn't focus solely on cheesy, cliched romance. It throws in realism, comedy, science fiction, and a strong message into the mix. Bill Murray plays a weather man who travels to a small Pennsylvania town to do a special on Groundhog Day. He awakens the next day only to find that time has been winded back 24 hours, as if Groundhog Day had never happened yet. Seeing Murray react to this odd occurrence, day after day, is intriguing. The role that Murray was given fits him more than perhaps any other actor. It's one of those rare gems that get better as they go along. It starts out extremely meh and then starts to quickly pace itself into a heavily thought-driven movie. Groundhog Day is a spotless film: you couldn't find a flaw if you tried.

Coriolanus
Coriolanus(2011)

Shakespearean trash. How anyone can possibly understand even parts of the dialogue is beyond me. It's like watching a movie in a different language. Fiennes made the mistake of making this movie in a modern setting with old fashioned Shakespearean English and it absolutely murders the movie. Watching this movie felt like homework, like a chore. Not enjoyable at all. Everything looks good including the cast of characters, but the dialogue seems to be written specifically for the most hardcore Shakespeare fans. I don't know why anyone would like Shakespeare, but apparently the critics did. They can have it.

Amadeus
Amadeus(1984)
½

Amadeus is a big movie with big ambitions. It hits every characteristic that a typical epic classic would hit: tons of costumes, the 3 hour length (I watched the Director's Cut), and worthwhile acting. While I thought it was a good movie, I don't think it deserves all of the credit it has received. 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture is saying a lot. While the performances were great, especially from Tom Hulce as Mozart himself, I found the movie to be overlong and not dramatic enough. Mozart's personality alone is hard to be taken seriously, as I don't think that's how he really was. I did find the rivalry between Salieri and Mozart to be an interesting one, as it was a one-way rivalry. Mozart had no idea Salieri was competing with him and didn't see him as a threat. On a technical scale, Amadeus is sublime. Older periods in time are rarely found to have this much attention to detail in it's costumes, makeup, and sets. The opera's included in the movie are astoundingly performed and filmed. All in all, Amadeus- while light on the narrative side- is heavy on it's incredible music and technicalities.

The Killer Inside Me

Despite a fantastic ending, The Killer Inside Me is a totally useless movie. Casey Affleck's high pitched mumbling is so hard to understand that it gets to the point where subtitles are an absolute must. Unfortunately, I didn't have access to subtitles so it was even worse. The movie is just Casey Affleck beating women to death in the most graphic way possible, with scenes of dialogue in between. Director Michael Winterbottom holds nothing back, which- in this case- was a huge mistake. It goes beyond sickening when we see Jessica Alba's face being beaten to nothing. It makes me wonder, what exactly was Winterbottom trying to accomplish here? Movies like this are a waste of talent, your time, and your money. The only audience this could possibly entertain to would be wife beaters. Avoid this garbage at all costs.

Van Helsing
Van Helsing(2004)
½

Van Helsing is a B-movie with a big budget. What I mean is that it's as dumb as one, but it had enough money to produce some seriously awe-worthy special effects. The dialogue and acting are both generally terrible, especially from the three brides of Dracula. They cackle for long periods of time and say the dumbest things. Kate Beckinsale's talent is completely wasted due to her poor line deliver and stupid accent. Even more disappointing is David Wenham as Carl, Van Helsing's useless assistant. Hugh Jackman is neither bad nor good in the title role, some of his lines are cheesy and some aren't. I really liked Richard Roxburgh as Dracula, he did well at playing such a bossy character. His accent was pretty good too. There were a ton of cool scenes in this movie. One for example, is when Dracula walks up a wall and then onto the ceiling. I also loved the inclusion of Jekyll and Hyde, I thought that was a great opening scene. Van Helsing reminded me of The Mummy a little, the soundtrack seemed similar and they both tell the stories of old legends. Van Helsing brings classic characters to life including Frankenstein, Dracula, and Jekyll/Hyde. I mentioned the soundtrack, which is thunderous and fits perfectly with the story of Van Helsing. There are some B-movies that are bad beyond tolerable, and then there are those rare movies like Van Helsing. It might be dumb, but it's saved by awesome special effects, some very cool scenes, and its respect to the classic characters within.

The Shining
The Shining(1980)
½

The Shining is not your average horror movie. It's not particularly scary but very chilling and creepy. Most people don't know this movie for the horror elements but for Jack Nicholson's benchmark performance. He's played a crazy person in multiple other movies including Batman and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, so I think he's naturally a crazy person, making him the perfect fit to play Jack. As far as everyone else, I was quite shocked at how bad Shelley Duvall's performance was. Not only is she uglier than sin itself, she simply can't act. Every line felt forced: just not a natural actor at all. And Danny Lloyd (who played Jack's son) did his job at being weird, but it got to the point of annoyance. When he was saying "Redrum" over and over again, I wanted earplugs more than anything else. But you don't watch The Shining to complain about them, you watch it to see Nicholson's flawlessly acted descent into madness.

The Way
The Way(2011)
½

The Way is a very good, spiritually driven, lighthearted drama. It's about a man who goes on a pilgrimage from France to Spain and dies on the trip. His father goes to collect the body but instead decides to finish what his son started. He meets fellow pilgrims on the trip, and the interactions between the travelers and their will to keep going is what makes The Way work so well. They're all there for their own reasons: a Canadian named Sarah wants to quit smoking by the end of the trip, a Dutchman named Joost wants to lose weight so his wife will re-gain interest in him, and an Irishman named Jack wants to write a book about it all. Emilio Estevez (that's Martin Sheen's dad, which is pretty cool when you imagine a son directing his father) makes great use of the European landscapes and the cinematography is beautiful. The soundtrack is also perfect, as it doesn't stray far from uplifting folk songs. Everything about The Way just works so well.

Men in Black III

It's been a decade since the barely decent MiB 2 came out, and the franchise has since been begging for a worthy sequel. MiB 3 scratches that itch. You really couldn't ask for a more satisfying entry: it's consistently funny and just so much fun. The monsters and special effects are spot on as well. The villain, Boris the Animal, has this little creature thing that literally emerges from his hand. It's nasty, but so cool. MiB 3 also threw a curveball at the end with an emotional twist, and it's pretty impressive how this movie managed to have both comedy and drama without either of them being overcooked. It was really awesome finally seeing Will Smith again, especially with Tommy Lee Jones by his side. It's a shame he couldn't have been in the movie more, but Josh Brolin is a nearly flawless Agent K, so Jones' limited screen time is made up by Brolin's nearly identical performance. He looks, sounds, and acts just like Jones. The only bad thing I can point out about the entire movie is that he said words like "slick" and "hoss" way too much. Other than that, I don't think they could have found a better actor to play Tommy Lee Jones' younger self. I simply couldn't take my eyes off of the screen. Men in Black III is purely unsugar-coated entertainment making it the funniest, most entertaining, and probably overall best in the trilogy.

Fish Tank
Fish Tank(2010)
½

The chemistry between Kate Jarvis and Michael Fassbender is the highlight of the movie. It starts out a little obnoxious with Jarvis dancing to rap and hip-hop, but once Fassbender enters the picture it gets so much better. Watching the relationship between Jarvis and Fassbender develop is pretty amazing. It's not like we're watching two 30 year old people fall in love, we're watching a 15 year old and a probably 30 year old fall in love. That makes it very different than any other typical film relationship. Unfortunately, the outcome with Fassbender's character disappointed me and I can think of better ways Fish Tank could have ended. While he was in it for a good amount, the movie still needed more Fassbender and a little less gloom. While watching, it was definitely hard to imagine a good outcome but it could have happened. It just ended badly for both of them, and I think this movie could have been much more than it is had their outcome been different. Still, watching the two actors interact is incredibly interesting because it's such a unique kind of chemistry. Had the ending been more positive, Fish Tank would have been a masterpiece.

The Evil Dead

Sam Raimi manages to weave horror and comedy together with skill. For a movie that's 30 years old and with a miniscule budget, I was pretty creeped out by it. There was this one girl (or demon) that particularly got to me. She had on these white eye contacts and was just constantly cackling at Bruce Campbell (whom I only knew from his brief cameos in the Spiderman movies) in the creepiest way. She just looked really freaky. There were some really cool scenes like when Campbell put his hand on a mirror only to discover it was water, and a light bulb filled up with blood and then popped. The Evil Dead is a perfect stormy night movie. While the premise is very generic (teens being killed off in a cabin in the woods), the creepiness and funniness overrules it.

Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows(2012)

Dark Shadows had the potential to be great, but was ruined by the abysmal last 20 minutes. It's almost as if Burton hired two different writers to write different segments of the movie. The first hour and a half we see Depp's hilarious 1700's character reacting to the numerous cultures of the 1970's. Then in the last 20 minutes, we see Eva Green's performance evolve into something so bad I can't even begin to describe. A twist with Chloe Moretz's character made things worse too. Other than that, it was a really fun movie. The scene where Depp and Green violently wrestle from wall to wall was one of my favorite scenes. I also noticed the movie wasn't as weird as Burton's other movies, which was a welcome change after seeing Alice in Wonderland. Dark Shadows had plenty of potential to succeed, but the final act made this film as pale as Depp's skin.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

This is a really solid Western. I've never seen an old Western, but I've seen modern ones such as 3:10 to Yuma, True Grit, and The Assassination of Jessie James. You can't really compare Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to those films because of the time difference, but I was still entertained by this. I liked the ending a lot. Taking place in Wyoming at least a hundred years ago, the film is shot beautifully as the camera pans from landscape to landscape. I usually think classic movies are overrated, but I don't think this one is. I liked it.

Snatch
Snatch(2001)

I'm sure I would have liked Snatch if I could understand half of what's going on or half of what's being said. There are so many characters introduced to you at once and when they speak, they either speak with a very heavy English accent or an extremely heavy Irish accent. The boxing scenes were cool and I could tell Brad Pitt was great (even though he was hardest to understand). The fact that you can't understand a word he says is what makes him so funny, and in one scene he chuckles in the funniest way. The first scene where Benicio del Toro and his team of Hebrews rob a "bank" took me by surprise and set up the kind of tone the movie was going to have. This movie really reminded me of Trainspotting but without the drug use. Sadly, I was unable to view Snatch with subtitles, so it deserves a re-watch.

Men in Black II

Much inferior to the very good original. The dialogue in MiB II is mostly cheesy and poorly written. Clocking in at only an hour and 20 minutes, it felt incredibly rushed. They tried to stuff way too many events in a very brief movie which could easily have been puffed out to 2 hours. The secondary antagonist, Jarra was very stupid looking and his character felt useless. Although, it's not all bad: Frank the dog is the funniest part of the film, and I always love to see Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones on screen together. I also loved the very brief but hilarious appearance of Patrick Warburton. In the end, this sequel didn't feel like a sequel at all, more like a Men in Black 1.5. It's so rushed and forgettable that once it's over, you'll feel like you've been neuralyzed. Pun intended.

Oldboy
Oldboy(2005)

I'm not very big on foreign movies, I never have been. They're just very different from American films, and the foreign languages always made me feel like an outcast. While Oldboy is no different, the plot, however is ingenious. With one of the best twists I've ever seen, the final half hour of Oldboy left my jaw dropped and my morals shot to death. Min-sik Choi, the lead actor, is particularly excellent in the last half hour. Everything leading up to that moved a little slow and it was only suspenseful for a few scenes. The script and actual lighting are both very dark, so the movie gives off what I would describe as a Korean noir type of feel, which is awesome. I also found it to be an incredibly strange movie, and it would be even if it were American. I've never seen a movie quite like Oldboy, and I don't think I ever will again. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the American-made version will be.

Chronicle
Chronicle(2012)
½

Now THAT'S how you make a hand-cam movie! So many have failed in the past using this filming technique, and so many have used it in an unnecessary manner. I think this and Cloverfield are the only movies to ever well-utilize the style. In fact, Chronicle makes for the absolute best use of the hand-cam in movie history. The film is about three high school kids who get telekinetic powers. Hand camera plus telekinesis equals perfection. For a good portion of the film, the kid who is recording levitates the camera with his powers. Not only that, but we see them flying through the air with the camera. I simply couldn't be more enthusiastic about Chronicle's filming style, because it's probably better than if it had been filmed normally. Aside from the style of filming, the acting was surprisingly great from everyone, particularly the leading actor Dane DeHaan. I loved Chronicle's theme of power abuse as well. It shows how anyone can be given too much power (not always in the same form) and abuse it. Also, the special effects were simply perfect, and the whole movie was just so cool. Chronicle is a stunning testament to the use of hand-cam.

The Grey
The Grey(2012)
½

The Grey is much more than your standard survival flick. Not only did it manage to keep me fully interested from beginning to end, it even challenged God and religion. Liam Neeson gave his best performance yet and proved he can act very well. A lot of scenes were very emotional and spiritual, which I wasn't expecting for a movie like this, which was a welcome surprise. There was death in this movie and I won't say much more, but I will say the deaths are all varied. It could've been just wolves killing people off, and I think the director could have really butchered the movie if it went that way. If I can find one thing to complain about, it would be the ending. I am not a fan of ambiguous endings, and The Grey's ending couldn't be more ambiguous. I put two hours into watching the movie expecting a great payoff and it simply ended before that payoff. Although, I will say it could have ended in a more typical way, so it wasn't all bad. It just needs either a director's cut or an alternate/extended ending. Other than that, The Grey proved to be a very pleasant surprise.

The Dictator
The Dictator(2012)
½

The comedy in The Dictator ranges from raging laughter to falling completely flat. I actually don't think there is much to quote back to unlike Cohen's former Borat, but some scenes were ridiculously funny. The best scenes weren't verbal but physical and that's what separates this from Borat in terms of the comedic genre. There were two major turn offs that made me feel it was a litle disappointing: the fact that it's completely scripted and the constant "been there, done that" feeling that seemed to linger in the back of my mind. In Borat and Bruno, the comedy came from the daring stunts and the shocking reality of it all. With The Dictator, you know it's scripted, so that extra shock factor is completely absent. I really enjoyed about half of this movie. While the other half was trying too hard to be funny, I still think it's worth seeing for the select few very funny scenes.

Dirty Harry
Dirty Harry(1971)
½

The first half was very slow, but once it kicks into overdrive, it doesn't go back. I was really on the edge of my seat for the last 45 minutes, just overall really exciting. I've never seen Clint Eastwood this young, and he's great as Dirty Harry. "Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?" I couldn't help but smile as he said this because it's such a famous line, and it was great to see the source of it's legacy. Andy Robinson plays the crazy shooter, and his performance is quite overlooked. Dirty Harry is an extremely gripping crime thriller with strong performances from Clint Eastwood and Andy Robinson.

Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko(2001)

Donnie Darko is one of the most thought-provoking and utterly fascinating movies I've ever seen. It's a thinking man's movie: the plot is complex and the topic of time travel is not necessarily easy to understand. I was completely blown away by everything this movie threw at me. Jake Gyllenhaal's performance, the bone-chilling bunny-rabbit Frank, and of course the amazing plot. The first time I heard Frank's voice, my jaw dropped and I immediately got goosebumps. Just totally creeped out, and it's so effective. The way everything ties together at the end was purely ingenious screenwriting. This film is wildly imaginative, and it's such a beautiful creature.

Arthur
Arthur(1981)

Eh. It's sort of funny sometimes, but overall it's a mediocre plot with a funny performance from Dudley Moore. This movie is outdated in just about every way. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't very good. If you're looking for a good comedy, you can do a lot better than Arthur.

Marvel's The Avengers
½

The Avengers is almost like Avatar: it made a ton of money at the box office, the story is very forgettable, but the great action and visuals kept me entertained for the 2 and a half hours. It's basically a collection of every Marvel hero you could comfortably throw into one movie, and it's funny to see the four of them collide and interact with each other. Another great thing about The Avengers is it's sense of humor. Iron Man makes fun of Thor's hideous accent and otherworldly look while Hulk punches anything that stands next to him. Aside from all the fun and games, The Avengers has a bland villain and virtually no story. To me, saving the world doesn't count as a story anymore. One thing that really ticks me off is people saying it's the best super hero film out there. Are people forgetting The Dark Knight? Spiderman 2? This is a good movie, but it doesn't get even close to the heights that those movies did. As usual, Robert Downey Jr. is excellent as Iron Man and could never be replaced. Mark Ruffalo is good as the new Hulk, but I enjoyed watching Edward Norton a little more in The Incredible Hulk. I've never been a fan of Thor or Captain America, but they both prove their worth in combat and interacting with the other heroes, making them a little more tolerable than they were in their solo films. And Scarlett Johansson is too good looking in this movie. In the end, does The Avengers deserve all of the money, good ratings, and attention? No. But it's a fun way to spend 2 and a half hours.

Up
Up(2009)
½

Very good. Up is visually stunning and the story is very well-written. The colors are incredibly nice to look at and the story is so emotional. The writers did such a great job with developing the protagonist's character. The bird named Kevin is the funniest part of the movie and provides an entire sub-genre of excellent comedy. The voice acting is perfect as well. Although, I felt that they could have done more with the villain or perhaps changed him. While I feel Up is not one of the best Pixar movies, it's still a fantastic movie that hits you right in the core of your heart.

Sleepy Hollow

I was quite unimpressed with Sleepy Hollow. It's cool that it's based on the American fairytale, but it just seems like a Sherlock Holmes wannabe. While Johnny Depp was great, he is certainly no Robert Downey Jr. You can definitely tell it's a Tim Burton movie because A. Johnny Depp is in it and B. it has that weird sense of humor and style. Oddly enough, I remember liking this movie when I saw it for the first time a few years ago. I guess after seeing more of Tim Burton's work I realized how inferior this one is to the rest of his films. When you really look at it, Sleepy Hollow isn't much more than The Headless Horseman trotting around chopping heads off and Johnny Depp investigating the crime scenes. If there's anything good I can pull out of Sleepy Hollow, it would be it's bleak and good looking style and Tim Burton's sense of humor.

The Way of the Gun
½

It was good, but not much more than that. It kept me interested throughout and some parts were really enjoyable, mainly the crazy gun fight at the end. The story is a bit weak, but it sufficed. Ryan Phillippe was funny and Benicio Del Toro was really quiet for some reason. James Caan's performance was quite different than any other movie he's been in. In movies like Misery and Elf, he was quiet and was soft-spoken, but here he plays sort of a messenger who knows how to handle a gun. The actors were generally well-cast. I can't say The Way of the Gun is memorable, but it's a good movie to watch when there's nothing else to do.

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)
½

While the idea of this sequel seems good on paper, it's too overwhelming on screen. The killer is a short, fat, psycho named Martin who watched the first Human Centipede on his laptop. So this one is supposed to be reality while the first didn't happen and it was only a movie. The movie falls when it becomes overly disgusting and unrealistic. One part is so nasty and ridiculous that it's laugh-out-loud funny. And it's significantly more graphic as we actually see the remains of a woman's head after it was bludgeoned repeatedly with a crowbar and a girl's tongue being ripped out. While I gave Tom Six credit for making an original concept in the first, he gets credit again here for making an even crazier and more menacing villain. Martin is a mute loser who lives with his mom, and he's one of the most insane movie characters I've ever seen. The unrealistic aspect comes into play when Martin manages to staple the victims' mouths to "the other end." How can someone who has no experience in the medical field manage to successfully perform a very complex and dangerous operation that involves 12 people? It made sense in the first one because the villain was an actual surgeon. The Human Centipede 2 boasts an interesting concept, but the movie slowly unfolds into something that's unrealistic and way too nasty for even the strong-stomached viewers.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
½

As disgusting and hard-to-sit-through this movie was, I found it strangely entertaining. Yes, the acting is very bad but the menacing Dr. Heiter proved to be particularly creepy and just pure insane. I think if the premise wasn't so original, this movie would be terrible. Surgically connecting three people from end to end. Who else has thought of that? Even though it's painfully disgusting, that's what makes this movie what it is. You really can't compare The Human Centipede to anything else because it's probably the nastiest concept for a movie ever made, and I give Tom Six credit for that.

Danny the Dog

Original characters, played very well by Bob Hoskins and Morgan Freeman. Jet Li's leading performance seems awkward and reserved, but that's simply the way his character is. A stranger in a strange land who adapts to a new lifestyle. The soundtrack is AMAZING. Massive Attack and the director simply couldn't have done a better job of getting you into this unique, ambient feel with songs like "Right Way to Hold a Spoon" and "Two Rocks and a Cup of Water." Visceral and gritty, Unleashed is one of my favorite movies of all time.

Collateral
Collateral(2004)

Phenomenal in every way. Incredible acting especially from Tom Cruise as a sociopath killer. Filmed so well and sounds so good, which is expected in a Michael Mann film. Top quality filmmaking here. Probably my favorite crime movie of all time.

Let Me In
Let Me In(2010)

Such a great horror/drama. The acting by the 2 kids is surprisingly good, and it's an interesting tale. It's not exactly scary, it's just a very dark and bleak tale of a relationship between two kids in sticky situations. Since there's virtually nothing wrong with it, I'm giving it it's well deserved 5 stars.

Paranormal Activity 3

An excellent prequel to the 2009 hit. I can definitely see people complaining that it wasn't scary, but if you didn't jump at least once, there's something wrong with your nervous system. Paranormal 3 provides a generous amount of great scares and a generally creepy atmosphere and uses interesting and new camera techniques. For example, the cameraman decided to take the fan off of it's rotating base and tape the camera to it, so the camera pans from the kitchen to the living room consistently. The writers utilized this technique to scare the audience to the absolute fullest. While the acting is nothing groundbreaking, you really don't need Oscar performances for this type of movie. It's objective was to scare me, and it scared the hell out of me.

The Exorcist
The Exorcist(1973)

Messed up in so many ways, The Exorcist is arguably the best horror movie of the 20th century.

Inception
Inception(2010)

Epic, epic, epic. From one of the greatest directors of all time, Christopher Nolan pulls off the unthinkable in this mindbending movie. Highly original and is privileged to one of the best soundtracks to ever be featured in a movie.

The Haunting in Connecticut

How did this get only a 17%? It's one of the scariest movies I've ever seen and one of the best recent horror movies out there.

The Town
The Town(2010)

A truly amazing movie. Ben Affleck is a natural on screen and surprisingly even better at the helm. After seeing this and his work in Gone Baby Gone, I've really gained a lot of respect for him. Before he started directing, I thought he was just a dumb looking brute (based off of his performance in Pearl Harbor), but he's really shown an enormous amount of talent as a director. The Town is as good as heist films come: it has action, drama, romance, and amazing gunshot effects. Ben Affleck and Michael Mann are the only two directors who have mastered guns and the sounds they make, and it really makes a difference on-screen. The performances are universally good, but Jeremy Renner really takes the cake. He's funny yet brutally violent and his accent is perfect. Jon Hamm was really good as the cop too. It was cool seeing him handle a role other than an advertising executive (Mad Men). I watched the extended version and it's more violent than the theatrical which makes it so much better. There's really no way Affleck could have improved this already perfect movie.

21 Grams
21 Grams(2003)

Normally, I hate non-linear movies, but this one wasn't as difficult to follow as others such as Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy. The format actually kept my mind going as I was trying to put the pieces in the right order. Luckily, the movie slowly unfolds the events and eventually they make total sense. In other non-linear films, events are just thrown at you with no explanation. 21 Grams' script is a well constructed puzzle for movie-goers who don't mind a little thinking. And the performances were wowing, especially from Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts. Sean Penn was great, but not as great as them. I liked the ending as well, it was pretty thought-provoking. Overall, I found 21 Grams to be a well-made and well- constructed drama with excellent performances.

Death Race
Death Race(2008)

Yes, there is virtually no story and it's pretty much all action but it's damned exciting. I had so much fun watching this movie. It moved very quickly, and I wasn't bored for a second. The race scenes are just ridiculously well thought-out and the stunts are creative. Tyrese Gibson was cool too. It was pretty funny how his passenger's always died. One person I was horribly annoyed by was the prison warden, Hennessey. She has this one line at the end that was cringe-worthy bad. There's a really cool twist at the end that prevented this movie from being just pure, predictable action. If you're a fan of action movies and Jason Statham, you'll love this movie.

Transporter 3
½

Transporter 3's action may not be as original as the 2nd's, but it delivers in pretty much every other way. First off, the new girl Valentina is definitely the sexiest so far and Frank Martin's best love interest. I loved that Tarconi was back again, as he has become a big part of the franchise. The villain is just as good as the villain from the 2nd, and he probably seems even more sinister. I really liked the premise in this one, Frank and Valentina both have explosive bracelets on which will detonate if they go more than 75 feet from the car. It creates more of an attachment to the car he drives, and his car is the focus of the movie. After all, that's what it should be in a movie about a transporter. In the end, I really enjoyed this. It was exciting and kept me entertained the entire time. Better than the 1st, but the 2nd holds the crown as the best Transporter movie.

Melancholia
Melancholia(2011)

The scenes in Melancholia range from totally boring to visually stunning. I didn't like all the drama with the wedding and Kirsten Dunst's depression. I was incredibly bored with that part of the movie, but the story with the colliding planets is pretty cool, especially when the planets are actually shown. The opening sequence is simply stunning and the scene where we actually see Earth and the other planet collide is technically impressive and breathtaking. While I pretty much knew the ending, I was still pleased to stick around and see exactly how it unfolded, and it was a satisfying ending. But overall, the performances are too depressing and boring which leads me to say that Melancholia isn't much more than a good looking movie.

The Cabin in the Woods
½

"Horror" done right. The typical slasher premise is only a small part in the grand scheme of things. The first hour is just like every other slasher you've seen and then the last half hour is purely amazing and just plain cool. I don't want to spoil anything, but it's like nothing you've ever seen in a horror movie. And that ending was just so cool. There was also a pleasantly surprising cameo from an aging but great actress. The movie practically hands you a reason as to why there are so many horror movies, and it's so satisfying. If you're tired of movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th, you've come to the right place.
-8.5

Matilda
Matilda(1996)
½

After revisiting it for the first time in possibly several years, I remember it exactly as it was. It's not one of those movies you saw when you were a kid and realized how bad it was as you grew up. Matilda has managed to hold up it's magical vibe. A type of vibe that can only be described as weird yet welcoming. This movie is quite odd, but that's what makes it so memorable. The entire cast is perfect, too. Mara Wilson as Matilda, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlamn, Embeth Davidtz, and last but certainly not least, Pam Ferris. Her performance as The Trunchbull is wholly unique and totally memorable. I don't think there are any other actresses who could've pulled off this kind of role successfully. She's kind of like the Joker of kids movies. That being said, Matilda has dark material that only the most mature of kids would be able to understand. Telekinesis and the mention of a murder are both included in Matilda. And The Trunchbull is just a truly brutal person whom even I as an adult would be afraid to confront. The comedy in Matilda is more understandable now that I'm older, and there are some HILARIOUS scenes. If you haven't seen Matilda as a child, you may not find much here. But if you're like me and you grew up with it, you'll still find a lot to love in this 90's classic. Matilda was a part of my childhood and it will always hold a special place in my memories.

Transporter 2

This great sequel is more well rounded and superior to the first. There are less cheesy lines of dialogue, the action is better, and the stunts are more original. And Jason Statham is great as usual. This time around, the plot is a little better than the very generic plot of the first. A terrorist in Miami kidnaps a government official's son and secretly infects him with a virus that spreads to anyone who breathes the same air. It was the villain's plan all along, and it's a much better story than the first. Overall, you could probably skip the first and jump straight into this one because it's better in almost every way. It's a quick dose of solid entertainment.

The Transporter
½

The action is well choreographed and Statham is great as usual. He has this energy going on where I wouldn't even need him to say anything to enjoy his screen presence. The car chase in the beginning is definitely the most exciting part of the movie: Statham pulls off the unthinkable in a BMW in France. Other than good action and chase scenes, The Transporter really doesn't have much else going for it. Aside from Statham, the acting is pretty rocky and as far as story goes, it's barely there. I would only recommend The Transporter to fans of action movies and Jason Statham. But then again, who doesn't like Jason Statham?

Crank 2: High Voltage

Totally insane, fast paced entertainment. Jason Statham is back, going full-throttle. I'm glad all of the original cast returned including Amy Smart and Dwight Yoakam. There is this one scene that's kind of dumb: it's Chelios vs. this Chinese guy who carries his heart in a red cooler. Instead of using the actual actors, the scene changes into a Godzilla type of fight with two fake look-alike dummies on a fake set. I get the Godzilla reference, but it was still a little pointless. And another dumb scene is at the end, when we see a guy's head in a water tank being supported by tubes to keep him alive. Not only is this completely impossible, it looks totally fake and ridiculous. While Crank 2 may not be as original as the first, it's funnier and perhaps a little more entertaining than the first. If you can get past the unrealistic aspects of it, you'll really have fun with it like I did. Bring on Crank 3.

Crank
Crank(2006)

A ton of fun, and a classic Statham flick. Once Crank starts, it never stops. Jason Statham is constantly running around Los Angeles trying to keep his heart pumping before it gives out, and every minute of it is entertaining. So much action, and really good comedy. It's filmed as if the director himself is on crank, which is a very good thing for this type of movie. Jason Statham is perfect for these kind of roles, and as an actor, I can't see him doing anything other than these crazy action movies. But he's great in them. The dialogue in Crank is sometimes cheesy and there's no complexity in the plot other than Chelios (Statham) trying to keep his heart pumping. But still, Crank is among Statham's finest films and the concept and style are both fresh and original.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
½

A horribly constructed movie. The plot is a mess and nothing seems to make sense. It seems like it would take a rocket scientist to understand what happens. The only good things I could possibly pull from this movie were the performances. Gary Oldman got nominated for an Academy Award for his performance, but oddly, his performance was nothing special. It was everyone else that was great, and they include Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, and Benedict Cumberbatch (hell of a name). It's impossible for me to recommend this movie because I promise you, you won't get it.

The Iron Giant

A classic nostalgic tale filled with heart and soul. The premise seems very Speilberg or J.J. Abrams-esque. I think the two should team up and make either a sequel or a live-action remake. When you watch a movie like Super 8 and then look at the screenplay for The Iron Giant, you know the ones responsible for creating it are the same ones responsible for carrying on the classic legacy that is The Iron Giant.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

Ghost Protocol is an expertly made action spy thriller. Tom Cruise, Simpon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, and Paula Patton are all awesome and the special effects are great. What makes this such an awesome movie is the gadgets the team uses throughout. In one scene, Cruise and Pegg need to get to the end of a long hallway without being seen, so they use this projector thing that captures the image of what the end of the hall would look like from the guard's perspective. The gadgets are just incredibly cool to see. It's really fast-paced as well, the plot never stops and there really aren't any boring parts. So what exactly is wrong with Ghost Protocol? Well, nothing. But it is what it is: an action spy thriller, and they only get so good. The story isn't fresh and drama isn't great. But it does what it intends to do very very well: entertain the audience, and I was thoroughly entertained throughout.

Shame
Shame(2011)
½

Shame is one hell of a movie. Some parts are poetic and others are Shakespearean. The acting is definitely the highlight of the movie, Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan both give captivating performances. Shame is definitely not for anyone. In fact, the target audience would be adults who can stomach such graphic scenes and themes. Sex addiction is something very few people know of, including myself. I've seen drug addiction in many films, but this is the first time I've ever witnessed such an illness. This kind of addiction ain't pretty to see. The film is extremely unsettling, but that's the entire point. Director Steve McQueen holds nothing back whatsoever. You see just about every body part imaginable. I was amazed at what Fassbender's character Brandon did for sex. There is one sex scene towards the end of the film that is so long and graphic that there is simply no excuse for. McQueen really didn't have to make it that long, and that's one of the few faults of Shame. Along with the overly long and unsettling sex scene, Shame's only other fault is its ending. It's very ambiguous, similar in ways like Inception's. It ends one of two ways, but McQueen doesn't show us which it is. It's very open ended, and I really don't like endings that don't give full closure. Besides the negatives, another great thing about this film is the way it's shot. There are several scenes where it's just one cut, often up to 5 minutes long. Fassbender and Mulligan must have gone through some serious line memorization. One of my favorite scenes is in the beginning, Brandon is sitting on a New York subway and adjacent from him is a woman who he is obviously attracted to. He likes her so much to the point where he follows her out of the train and almost chases her. For the duration of the scene, Shame's flawless score is playing in the background. Everything about that scene is just so well-put together, and there are many scenes like that. If you can get passed all of the uneasy sex scenes, you'll find an incredibly good story with award-worthy performances.

Live Free or Die Hard
½

Live Free or Die Hard is a super satisfying action movie with creative stunts and a original (if far-fetched) premise. It's basically about terrorism. What separates this from other films about terrorism and bad guys is that this terrorism doesn't involve bombs or even killing. Timothy Olyphant plays the main villain and he's a genius computer hacker. He and his team set out to execute a three step plan known as a "fire sale." In a nutshell, it shuts down everything you could imagine: electricity, transportation, traffic lights, and just about everything else. It creates panic without killing anyone. It's very interesting to see how crazy things get. There's even one scene where the hackers put up a fake destruction of the United States Capitol building on the news channels which puts the public in a frenzy. I've never seen any other Die Hard movies, but this one was really great. Bruce Willis is a badass and the action is top-notch. It would be difficult to find a better action movie than Live Free or Die Hard.

Man on Fire
Man on Fire(2004)
½

Man on Fire is like a poor man's drug. It's dirty and badly made, but it gets the job done. The rich man's drug is a movie like Taken: clean and well made. The reason I'm comparing this movie to Taken is because the premise is fairly similar: girl gets taken, man goes on rampage to save girl. While it's not an original premise, it can be done right. Man on Fire is a perfect example of how not to adapt a script to the screen, its biggest fault being the choppy slow-mo style of editing. While Man on Fire is heavily flawed, it does have its pros. Denzel Washington's performance is great and the first hour of the movie shows us a great developing relationship between a bodyguard and his defendant. After that, it's kind of just mindless killing and asking around for another person to kill until he gets to the tippee-top of the kill chain. Yes, it's entertaining to a point but in no way is the action different from any other action movie. I think if the script of Man on Fire was given to a better director (and editor), we would've had a much cleaner, engrossing film.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games was very interesting, mainly because it was so different. It felt fresh, which is a good thing after sagas like Harry Potter and Twilight which are either finished or closing. While it has a running time of 2 hours and 20 minutes, it honestly didn't feel too long. I was thoroughly entertained (might I say intrigued as well?) from beginning to end. The premise is damn intriguing: kids ranging from poor to rich are forced to kill each other in a publicly broadcasted annual event known as The Hunger Games. There were a lot of excellent scenes, like when main character Katniss shoots an arrow through an apple several yards away in front of the country's leaders. The most well executed scene was the very start of the event. We see quick shots of kids stabbing each other to death. This reminded me of the amputation scene from 127 Hours. The director didn't want to expose too much violence, but just enough for you to get the picture. The acting was great, both Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. They're very well cast actors. The Hunger Games isn't all fun and games though: the ending was too predictable and PG and the costume and makeup were insanely weird. Elizabeth Banks' entire character is flushed in purple lipstick, purple eyeshadow, and a purple outfit. And why was Stanley Tucci's hair blue? I mean, these people look WEIRD. Luckily, the competitors look like normal people. I can understand why the ending was a happy one, because how would there be two more sequels if everyone died? With that being said, do we really need two more sequels? I think Gary Ross should have tied everything up nicely into one fantastic movie instead of watering down the drama for four movies (Mockingjay will be divided into two films). The only good thing about the ending was how it shared similar qualities of Romeo and Juliet. But a more tragic ending would have fit this movie a whole lot better because the tone of it is dark throughout and the ending should have matched that same tone. Aside from the few faults, Gary Ross successfully created a very fresh and solid movie and I give it some serious kudos for being so different.

The Lincoln Lawyer
½

Lincoln Lawyer is a good and entertaining courtroom thriller with a good lead from Matthew McConaughey. The ending packed a surprisingly great twist. It's also well made and well written.

The Mummy Returns

While The Mummy Returns may not be as original as the first, it's still an incredibly satisfying sequel. I only realized until the middle of the movie that the Mummy series is a lot like Indiana Jones but with mummies- and that's a very good thing. I also liked the portrayal of Imhotep. This time around, he can levitate people and objects at will and when he has his mask on, his voice has a deep but distorted tone to it, sort of like Darth Vader. He seems to be more of a god-like figure, and I think he's a lot cooler than he was in the first Mummy. Better acting here as well, particularly from Brenan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. There's a lot more drama and the actors weave through the tears and emotion seamlessly. The sequel also paid homage to the first Mummy with the domino pillars (mirroring the domino book shelves from the first) and Imohtep's water wall (mirroring the wall of sand from the first). Unfortunately, this sequel is pretty flawed as well. The son of Rick and Evy is quite annoying and a lot of the lines are still cheesy. One thing that made the first such a classic was characters like Beni and the Warden. Due to their deaths, they obviously couldn't be included in the sequel. However we do have a new funny character, Lock-Nah. He's the black guy that escorts the kid around. Whenever the kid asks him for something, he either makes a funny high-pitched sound or mutters something in Arabic. I thought the parallel story about the Medjai and Evy's descendant was kind of dumb. They definitely could have replaced that with a better subplot. While The Mummy Returns does not have the same comedic flare that side characters provided from the first or the mysterious and creepy origins of the mummy himself, it's still an equally entertaining movie.

The Mummy
The Mummy(1999)

Characters like Jonathan (John Hannah), Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor), and the Warden (Omid Djalili), keep the movie fun and hilarious. Like Tomb Raider and Galaxy Quest, The Mummy is one of the movies I grew up with. I've seen it countless times since its release over a decade ago. Even the movie acknowledges its own cheesiness. At the end, when the hero is kissing the damsel in distress, Jonathan mutters a well-placed "Oh, please." Its lines like this that make this movie funny and righteously well-aware of its own stupidity. While The Mummy is a rather pointless exercise in Egyptian mythology, it's still a lot of fun.

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter

Sadly, this one isn't a good kind of bad, but just flat-lines completely. There's only one scene in this pointless prequel that was good, and that was a scene that was so dumb it was funny. A woman gets turned into a vampire, and her voice becomes unnaturally deep. A man puts a bible in her face and she throws up all over it and then calls the man a c*** sucker in her deep voice. Other than that, a complete was of time and money.

Jarhead
Jarhead(2005)
½

Jarhead is a near perfect mix of Full Metal Jacket and The Hurt Locker. Jake Gyllenhaal's completely absorbing performance is a talent that I envy. Jarhead is about the struggle of doing nothing when you're expecting to do something, specifically during the Gulf War. You can tell how damaged these marines are, especially in their emotional outbreaks. Not only is Jake Gyllenhaal's performance amazing, but Peter Sarsgaard and Jamie Foxx's are as well. One thing a lot of people must be complaining about is that there isn't much action: but that's the entire point of this movie. The lack of combat and what it does to you when you're expecting it. Sam Mendes, the director of American Beauty and Road to Perdition is helming and he is amazing, as expected. There was one shot in particular that was incredibly well done: Jake Gyllenhaal stands up and embraces a barrage of explosions and doesn't care that it's happening to him because he's been so affected by everything. The camera focuses in on him and goes into slow motion as a shot of dirt and sand fly into his face. In another scene, Peter Sarsgaard's character flips out because he couldn't kill someone. This just shows you how badly these men want to kill someone, and seeing Sam Mendes unfold their sanity is an intriguing thing to see.

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money

While it is fun to watch bad B-movies like this, it's still a terribly bad waste of time.

Hostel Part II

While Hostel: Part II isn't as thrilling as its predecessor, its got a story that's a hell of a lot better. The sequel is bloodier and far more disturbing than the last. Here, we see a naked woman bathe in another woman's blood, and we witness a man's genitals being cut off. The whole point of movies like this are to gross you out, and this one does that and more. The story is a huge improvement: in Hostel 1, I mentioned how it would be better to see more of the psyche of the killers. That's exactly what we get in Part II. This story is told not only from the victims' point of view, but from the killers as well. Eli Roth shows us what they're thinking and how they act outside of the kill room and it was interesting to see these actors become psychotic. I loved seeing a man who didn't really want to kill anyone get dragged into it and the way he reacted while in the kill room. The acting is definitely improved, and there's a bigger variety of performances: we see a full on killer, a man who gets talked into it, and a victim with loads of money. On the down side, I thought it was incredibly unrealistic how people all over Europe were in on the killings, including the cops. Even more so, how so many people from all over the world would bid on girls so they could later brutally torture and murder them. That really annoyed me. While Hostel: Part II was at times too discomforting, I found the story to be more compelling than the first.

Hostel
Hostel(2006)

A full-on gore fest that kept me entertained for the entire 90 minutes. There was one scene in particular that really capture the essence of its insanity. The main protagonist, Paxton, walks into a room to put on a disguise and another killer walks in and talks to him about what it feels like to kill a person. This guy, played by Rick Hoffman was seriously chilling to watch and he seemed like a real psychotic killer. If only there were more scenes like this one, the actual story would've been better. If you're going into Hostel looking for a well designed plot, turn around and look elsewhere. But if you're looking for a casually made, thrilling horror experience, look no further than Hostel.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
½

I was quite disappointed. After it was over it just left a bad taste in my mouth. It felt so pointless and I can't help but imagine what Fincher could have spent his time and more importantly his talent on. Rooney Mara's performance is vastly overrated, as is the film itself. I know the point is for her to look incredibly strange, but she's not only that but terribly ugly, just really unpleasant to look at. The plot is just a confusing investigation with a ton of names that I didn't have the patience to keep track of. And what's with all of the sex? There had to be five individual sex scenes, most of them completely pointless. And I hated the ending: instead of focusing on the crime portion of the movie, which had to be 90% of it the film, it ends focused on the relationship of the two characters. If there's anything good about it, the opening credits was incredibly well done and graphically impressive. The soundtrack was great and it's filmed very well. If someone had already made a supposedly good version of this film, why even bother remaking it, especially so soon? I will have to re-watch this sometime in the future, hopefully I'll like it more then.

21 Jump Street

I really enjoyed 21 Jump Street, more than I was expecting. There are some seriously gut busting parts, like the part when Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum start to feel the effects of a new drug circling a local high school. The film also features one of the best and unexpected cameos of all time. There are some flaws though. While the movie tries to be consistently funny, I found some of the jokes falling flat. Like when Ice Cube was throwing insults at people using every curse word in the book, the entire audience was laughing. But you need more than curse words to make a good joke. That wasn't the case for every joke though. I also thought Jonah Hill's love interest felt a little forced. In the end, her purpose was just to be the damsel in distress and didn't properly contribute to the overall story/humor arch. In total, 21 Jump Street may not be consistently funny, but there are some REALLY funny parts and is entertaining throughout.

From Dusk Till Dawn

An enjoyable B movie. George Clooney kicks ass, making him the highlight performance of the movie. Quentin Tarantino's character is funny and well played. I think both of the characters are incredibly interesting to watch and make for some compelling criminals. The whole vampire idea is a little generic, but it's still a lot of fun.

Girl, Interrupted

An enjoyable film that was dragged down by its disappointing final act. The film's theme starts off as being one of a kind: a girl finds light in a place where light is seemingly impossible to find. But unfortunately, the ending completely changes that into a girl who thought she was crazy but got over it. Angelina Jolie's performance was very good and I didn't think Winona Ryder was bad either. The film has likeable characters and is an interesting character study. The only flaw was the ending, if not for that it would have been amazing.

Taken
Taken(2009)

I don't think I could've been more pleased with Taken. Liam Neeson drives this thriller with an insane yet controlled rage and seeing him pull off these seemingly impossible actions is an absolute pleasure to watch. You would have to have the attention span of a fish to be bored with this. Once his daughter is taken, the action and wit goes on until the credits roll. The scary thing is that sex slaves are real, and a situation like what happened in this movie isn't impossible. The script is so smartly written and the action is so engaging, it would be hard to find a better thriller than Taken.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Only slightly better than Thor. It has the same premise every other comic book movie follows: the weakling becomes powerful, gets the girl, and stops the bad guy (aka saves the world). It really felt like they only made this because they want to put him in The Avengers. Chris Evans is neither great nor bad as Captain America because the role doesn't require any groundbreaking acting. Hugo Weaving plays the villain who is obviously dumb: you can tell just by looking at him. "Red Skull," how original. The action is pretty good and the best part is when a man falls into the propellers of a plane and gets chopped into tiny bits of bad guy. I also thought the ending was pretty cool and I liked that they included Howard Stark (Iron Man's dad). Other than that, Captain America really doesn't have much good going for it. Predictable and unoriginal, Captain America is another failed attempt at making a compelling super hero movie.

Nine
Nine(2009)
½

Sexy and sleek, Nine is a lot of fun. The songs are great, and the visual flare produced by Rob Marshall is unique. I haven't seen many musicals but this one is made with care and style. Some of the performances are fiery and electrifying like Penelope Cruz's A Call From the Vatican and Kate Hudson's Cinema Italiano.
The best songs are definitely Fergie's Be Italian and Cinema Italiano. Daniel Day-Lewis has had better performances, as he's not entirely convincing as a true Italian. A good performance makes you forget that the actor is an actor, that the actor is American or English or whatever they may be. But here, seeing Lewis speak with an Italian accent doesn't make you forget the fact that he is English. In Gangs of New York, his performance as a New Yorker made you completely ignore his native tongue. I guess his character could have been better cast, perhaps someone with true Italian blood. The reason I'm not giving Nine a 9/10 is because besides the good singing and sexiness, there isn't much it has going for it. The story isn't well thought out, and the leading actor could have been better. But I still really enjoyed Nine. The sexiness of the actresses and the setting of Italy is simply irresistible.

A Single Man
A Single Man(2009)
½

A Single Man is a tough movie to review because it serves a sensitive subject. Not only that, but this is the kind of drama that doesn't thrill you to death yet has a lot of good things going for it. To start off, Colin Firth's performance is great and Julianne Moore is good as well. There are a lot of similarities between this film and the show Mad Men. After all, they both share the same production team, time period, and even Jon Hamm does a voice cameo. It does a great job of capturing the 60's. I noticed that whenever Firth's character makes a connection with another person, the screen goes from bleak gray to full color. An interesting technique at conveying his life's good moments. The beginning shots reminded me of Terrence Mallick's Tree of Life: slow motion scenes with classical music playing in the background. It seems like an old fashioned filming style but it's actually relatively new. I did like the ending, and while I won't spoil it, I will say it has a beautiful irony to it. On the downside, A Single Man is painfully awkward, thoroughly. There's a scene where a male college student undresses in front of his male professor and neither of them say anything. The act is already awkward, but to make matters even worse, the scene is between two gay men. Let's just say it's not the most comfortable viewing experience. I think if this movie wasn't so unsettling, it would've been a lot more enjoyable.

The Incredible Hulk

A huge improvement from the abysmal 2003 version. Edward Norton plays a better Hulk and the story is so much better. There were a few cool elements to the movie as well, such as Bruce Banner's heartbeat watch. I also really liked the "Days Since Last Incident " popup. There were so many cool scenes like when the Hulk put out a fire by clapping his hands together. I really enjoyed the setting as well, as there were multiple: we see Banner traverse from Brazil all the way up to New York. I thought Liv Tyler's acting seemed forced, and totally unnatural. Not bad, but they could have picked a better actress. Tim Roth was good as the antagonist Blonsky, but I thought Nick Nolte did a better job in the 2003 version. There weren't any particularly great acting scenes either, as there were in the 2003 version. But that was only because of Nick Nolte. As for the Hulk's look, I think he looked better here than the 2003 version. His body looks a lot more veiny and he just looks a lot more aggressive. And I loved that they ditched the crappy comic book style film style from the old version. The Incredible Hulk takes itself seriously and should be taken seriously because it boasts a great story and Edward Norton is great as the Hulk.

Changeling
Changeling(2008)
½

I really don't know what critics are saying, because Clint Eastwood's Changeling is remarkable. Angelina Jolie's performance is probably her best, and totally deserved the Oscar nomination for it. When watching her performing as a mother who's lost her child, you forget she's Angelina Jolie. Her acting really just locked in my attention, forcefully so. This movie has so many elements to it, it shows what you can do in a position of power and what you can do to fight that power. Overall, it asks you to never give up hope. Directed by Clint Eastwood, this movie is obviously masterfully filmed. The best scenes were the courtroom scenes which gave off an amazing ecstasy of justice. The less you know about Changeling before seeing it, the better. Seeing these very mysterious and fishy events unravel, along with Jolie's heartbreaking performance, is truly something to behold.

Hulk
Hulk(2003)

A bad effort at bringing the comic book green madman to the big screen. This movie was definitely intended to be taken seriously, but what a fail that was. There were so many things that were so dumb I didn't even laugh. When Bruce Banner is explaining what he feels when he becomes the Hulk, he says, "My heart just goes boom... boom... ... boom." You think it sounds dumb in words? Just wait until you see him saying it. In another scene, the Hulk is attacked by three genetically mutated dogs and when he kills them, they evaporated into green dust. How unrealistic can you get? In another scene, the Hulk causes an explosion and this guy who was near it jumped and yelled in the dumbest way. Not only that, but it froze and then cut to the next scene. I simply can't take a movie like this seriously, and the problem is that it's meant to be. I do have to give credit to Nick Nolte for some pretty good acting in a few scenes. And some of the action is pretty cool as well. Sadly, Eric Bana is not a good Hulk. Edward Norton is a lot better in the 2008 version. The film features comic book style editing, with two screens showing different angles of the same scene. I get director Ang Lee wanted us to feel like it was the comic book, but it just seemed like a pointless filming tactic. A lot of people say the Hulk himself looked good, which I guess he did for a nearly ten year old movie. Overall, this is a bad movie with an unnecessary filming style and some really dumb scenes which ruin it completely.

Walk the Line

A great biopic with outstanding performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. They both know how to sing, and they do it very well on-screen. Phoenix makes a great Johnny Cash. You don't need to like Cash's music to enjoy Walk the Line. Some of the scenes between Cash and his father are heartbreaking, and the performances raise the tension. In one scene, Cash is having Thanksgiving dinner with his family and he starts to stare at his father and you just know there's going to be an argument. Being able to predict that made it even more tense. I loved the ending as well, I was really happy for Cash. Director James Mangold may not have been able to make a music based biopic as good as Ray, but he still did a fine job with Walk the Line.

The Ladykillers

This is a really funny dark comedy from the Coen brothers. Burn After Reading is better, but this is still good. Yes, it's stupid but that doesn't mean it can't be funny. Not everyone will find themselves compatible with this kind of humor: it's mostly people getting hurt in really funny ways and if that's not your kind of comedy, then avoid The Ladykillers. I actually didn't know this was the Coen brothers when I went into it but I noticed a lot of similarities to their typical black humor style. The music is definitely one of the biggest giveaways. Characters get hurt or killed to weird Southern folk music. A guy falls down the stairs, snaps his neck and his carcass slides along the floor like a car's emergency break being pulled. There's a portrait of a man in a lady's living room, and his expression changes based on the situation. One of the thieves always has a cigarette dangling from his mouth and has the ability to flip it in and out of his mouth (while lit). It's the obscurity that makes the humor work. The acting is great and none of the characters feel useless. Tom Hanks is the main thief and seems very odd as a Southern genius because you never see him in this type of film. He should do more roles in comedy. If you can accept the fact that it's not trying to be serious, you'll enjoy The Ladykillers.

Thor
Thor(2011)

Compared to other comic book hero movies, Thor is the weakest. Iron Man, Spiderman, and The Hulk are all superior. It's dialogue extremely cheesy and it's story rather mediocre. Thor is about to become king on his planet when something goes wrong. Along the way, his father falls into a coma, his brother takes over the throne and wreaks havoc on Earth. Thor has to stop him before it's too late. It doesn't sound interesting, and it isn't on screen. One of the only good things I can point out in Thor is the humor. While there isn't much of it, what's there is hilarious. The special effects are pretty good too. Chris Hemsworth plays Thor and he's a cocky, obnoxious brute with a hilariously dumb smile. You could say he plays the role well. Natalie Portman has arguably the worst acting and is only there to play Thor's love interest. I remember liking this a lot more in the theater. Even though the 3D didn't add anything whatsoever to the experience, Thor is only a movie to see in the theater when joking around with friends. It wasn't a bad movie, just okay compared to it's Avenger counterparts.

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)

Iron Man 2 is bigger, badder, and smarter than the first. The villain is better and it has a wealth of new characters. Downey Jr. is back as Tony Stark and he's cockier than ever. Watching someone this vain and full of himself is always a pleasure. The first half hour is the funniest part because only Downey Jr. can play someone this cocky while not being annoying. He even seems smarter than he used to be when he speaks. While Mickey Rourke is a cool villain in action, when he speaks, his accent doesn't sound natural and you can really tell he's not Russian. Gwyneth Paltrow is back as Pepper Potts, and is still great although there seemed to be an odd lack of chemistry between her and Stark. In the first, you see their relationship develop yet in this sequel, their relationship is pretty stagnant. Terrance Howard's character of Stark's friend, Rhodes, is now played by Don Cheadle from Hotel Rwanda. I would be okay with this change if the two didn't seem so different. Cheadle was supposed to play the same Rhodes from the first yet he seems like a different person here. He's less funny and he didn't seem like him and Stark had been long-time friends as him and Terrence Howard did in the first. This change is one of the biggest turn-offs of the movie. I really liked Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, a weapons manufacturer. He has this personality that I can't really describe, sort of like someone who never wants to seem like the bad guy but is. Rockwell does very well with the role. Scarlett Johansson looks stunning as usual, but her character is really there to set Stark and herself up for the upcoming Avengers film. There's a lot more action in this one and it's much more chaotic, which is a very good thing. The scene where Mickey Rourke tears through race cars with electric whips is a technical marvel. The special effects have noticeably improved and are AMAZING. When Stark buts on a portable Iron Man suit, you can see all of the little parts moving effortlessly across the screen. The funniest scene in Iron Man 2 is also my favorite: Downey Jr. stands awkwardly in front of a silent Johansson and after several seconds of complete silence he says, "What?"
The reason I'm not giving Iron Man 2 a higher score than its predecessor is because it brings nothing new to the table in terms of storytelling, which is sadly the biggest flaw of both films. While it has its issues, I thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man 2 even more so than the first and I can't wait to see Downey Jr. again in The Avengers.

Iron Man
Iron Man(2008)

The main thing that separates Iron Man from other super hero films is Robert Downey Jr. himself. He's a fun actor, as shown here and in the Sherlock Holmes series. Not only is Downey Jr.'s performance great, the movie has great special effects: the technology Tony Stark builds on-screen looks real and very cool. My favorite scene was when he first built the glowing thing in his chest: through a low-res camera you see Stark getting up from a table with the glowing thing... well, glowing. Like a scientific creation emerging from it's operating table, similar to Frankenstein. This is one of Jeff Bridges' very few villain roles, maybe the only one. Let's just say he's better as the protagonist. At the end, he mutters some pretty cheesy lines seen in almost every other action film. He's not horrible, just an odd choice. Gwyneth Paltrow is charming as Stark's assistant, Pepper Potts and Terrence Howard is good as Stark's friend. The plot isn't anything special, but the movie is carried by incredible technicalities and Downey Jr.'s hilarious performance.

The Artist
The Artist(2011)

I never thought a silent black and white movie could be so entertaining, so satisfying, so full of grace. The Artist essentially celebrates the life of silent black and white movies from its respective time period. This amazing film shows the downfall of an era and the actors that went along with it. The French director, Michel Hazanavicius is truly an artist with The Artist. Jean Dujardin is in the lead playing George Valentin, an incredibly successful and well known silent actor with his finger on the pulse of popular culture. In fact, he IS the pulse of popular culture. One day he meets a girl named Peppy Miller (played by Berenice Bejo) whom he befriends. Eventually, she becomes famous for talking in movies, and the silent era fades away, along with Valentin. It's like a colossal metaphor for how "the captain always goes down with his ship," how once your line of work declines, you decline with it. While this is a silent movie, the real acting is portrayed through the actors' facial expressions. Hazanavicius keeps you so entranced to the screen that you'll forget you're watching a movie that was made recently and assume it was made in the 20's or 30's because if you told me it was made then, I'd believe you. There is just THAT much attention to detail. This is easily a contender for movie of the year and I can guarantee it'll win some Academy Awards, because The Artist is a masterpiece.

The Sixth Sense
½

This is from the time when M Night. Shyamalan actually made good movies. Bruce Willis is great in the lead and young Haley Joel Osment is even better in the supporting. I've never seen acting this good from someone so young. While Osment is in adulthood now, this remains his best performance. The cast is very well rounded, with not one bad performance. The screenplay is very well thought out and has horror at the right times with the right dosage. The movie shows that it doesn't try hard to scare you, but it does. A movie like Paranormal Activity with a generic script tries it's hardest to scare you and is usually a bad scare. There's a noticeable difference here. The scares come from Cole Sear's (Osment) visions of dead people. For example, a boy asks him to come see his dad's gun and as the boy turns around there's a massive part of his head missing from a gunshot. Really effective stuff. The ending is GREAT. A huge twist that makes sense goes together very well with an awesome final scene. The Sixth Sense is horror/mystery done right.

A Serious Man

A really bad movie, easily the worst of the Coen brothers. There is NOTHING funny about it, and even if themes do exist here, they are buried upon layers of dullness. Everything that happens is totally senseless and pointless, there's not a single good thing about A Serious Man. Avoid at all costs.

Sling Blade
Sling Blade(1996)

It's got an ignorant mind going on in the best way possible. There's a simplicity to every scene in Sling Blade that's very hard to describe. The story is so simple but has all of the characteristics of a good drama: acting, character development, and emotion. It reminded me of Forrest Gump a little, both about a guy who isn't too bright but shows his wits through his actions. Billy Bob Thornton completely transformed himself for this role so impressively that he is almost unrecognizable. Karl Childers is only a character that could've been written and acted for my a true master. It's amazing how Thornton managed to switch from acting as Karl back to directing in every shot. This seems like the kind of character an actor would need to stay in and prepare greatly for, and it really shows in Thornton's performance. He totally deserved the Oscar nomination. Watching Karl and his young friend Frank walk and have the simplest conversation is interesting because the characters are interesting. The way it's filmed is unique as well: most of the cuts are excessively long which also shows how much preparation these actors had to do. Thornton managed to take on the three biggest components in making a movie: directing, writing, and starring and he did all three masterfully. Sling Blade is a total marvel to experience, it's beauty and genius shown through every line and every scene.

50/50
50/50(2011)

Amazing. It felt light yet gripping which shows it was perfectly executed by directer Will Reiser. Fantastic acting from the lead Joseph Godon-Levitt and, as usual, a hilarious Seth Rogen. There were some really funny lines and scenes. 50/50 seemed to be many things to me: a character study, an amazing story, but also a wake up call. Before 50/50, I had never really seen a movie that is entirely focused on cancer and this movie really woke me up that cancer is a real thing, and could happen to anyone at any time. I loved every minute of this film and I rarely looked at the clock. 50/50 manages to find the perfect amount of comedy and the perfect amount of drama creating a film that was such a pleasure to watch.

Take Shelter
Take Shelter(2011)
½

It's a very different look on mental illness with a storm shelter, flocks of birds, and a quietly mumbling Michael Shannon. I think critics have overrated his performance a little. He was still good in it, still above average. There's one scene in which I was really impressed with his acting capability. The movie is very bleak, almost depressing but righteously so. Jessica Chastain (who's been in at least half a dozen movies last year) is good as well as his wife. The ending was a little messy, it should have ended perhaps 10 minutes earlier. That would've been more powerful, although I wasn't too unhappy with the ending we were given. While watching, I was very curious as to what was going on with the world of the protagonist because the director really makes it seem like everything around him is crazy when it's he who is going crazy. While slow moving, Take Shelter is a psychologically ravaging study of the mind, specifically paranoia and obsession.

The Help
The Help(2011)
½

A good movie about segregation and racism in the 60's, although painfully long. It felt really stretched, it really didn't need to be 146 minutes. The acting is by far the best thing The Help has going for it. Octavia Spencer is amazing and Viola Davis is also fantastic. While Jessica Chastain was good, I was surprised to learn she got an Oscar nomination for her role. Emma Stone does her best, but is that saying much? Personally, I find Emma Stone to be incredibly annoying with her oddly scratched out voice and her off-putting curly hair. Bryce Dallas Howard was good as the antagonist, but I thought her character was so effectively annoying to the point where it started to negatively affect every scene she was in. In fact, most of the white women in The Help are shown to be incredibly snotty and overly rich and annoying. But overall, I'd say the acting is above average thanks to Spencer and Davis. Some scenes stand out to be far better than others. There are some pretty funny scenes, which are appreciated. Dialogue is often impossible to comprehend because of the heavy Southern accents. The best parts of the movie were the scenes with Spencer and Davis. Their acting definitely caught my attention and brought life to their characters. The story could have been so much more effective. It felt way too PG-13 and not daring enough. Directors need to get their point across in the most effective way possible, even if it means making it graphically violent and I think that's what would have made The Help more effective.

The Bodyguard

There's nothing wrong with a little fun suspense and melodrama. Kevin Costner gets hired as the recently deceased Whitney Houston's bodyguard. It has some interesting twists and turns and ultimately turns out to be a simple but fun screenplay. Whitney Houston's acting isn't overall bad, but there were times when it wasn't good. At least she has an amazing voice. Kevin Costner is well cast as her bodyguard. I've seen it many times but I thought because of Ms. Houston's recent and unfortunate death, it would be a good time to revisit this fun flick.

The Thin Red Line

A good war movie. I don't think I've ever seen a cast this popular or this big. Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Nick Nolte, John C. Reilly, and John Travolta are the biggest names. It takes place in Japan during World War II. The soundtrack is moving, the acting if great, and it's filmed very well. The best scene is when the U.S. army takes over a Japanese village. While this is happening, an amazing piece from the score is playing and it is an incredibly moving scene. Aside from all that, I thought The Thin Red Line was way too long. At a little less than 3 hours, there is a ton of material that could and should have been cut. A lot of confusing philosophy in the film too. I still liked it.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Thoroughly entertaining, amazing performances, a masterfully written script, an outstanding film. Just wow. I'm reading the novel for my English class, but it is nowhere nearly as good as this masterfully written screenplay. Jack Nicholson takes these mental patients out of the hell they were in for so long and lets them live a little by taking them fishing. But that's only one example. The simplicity in his actions are what make these scenes work so well. It's almost like he effortlessly takes control of the mental hospital and it is too much fun to watch. Louise Fletcher plays the most hate-able antagonist in the history of film. A perfect film with a tearful but incredible ending.

Bronson
Bronson(2009)

Weird and stupid. It reminded me of A Clockwork Orange but with prison fighting. I don't get why Refn would make a pointless movie like this. It's about Britain's most violent prisoner: so what? You could have given the script to any director and no matter how hard they tried, none of them would've been able to make this gripping. I don't mind black humor, but this is just plain bad. Tom Hardy does his best with the role he is given. Seeing Refn go from this to Drive is one hell of a transition. Don't waste your time with this pointless British biopic.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The film's title uses adjectives that do not accurately describe the quality of the film: it is not extremely bad and it is not incredibly good. It was on the lower part of just okay. Everyone is saying how annoying or how good main protagonist Oskar (played by Thomas Horn) is, but he wasn't extremely annoying, or extremely good. Just okay. Now I'm not saying he wasn't annoying: because he was. I tried to but up sort of a barrier to block his obnoxious flamboyant voice, and it worked... a little. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock don't break any ground with their performances either, they were good but not great. Max von Sydow was one of the only things that strayed far from okay. He played a mute guy who tries to help Oskar find what he was looking for. He was great, a pleasure to watch. There were a few scenes that I thought were great as well. For example, there's this part where Oskar is explaining the things about New York that scare him (loud noises like trains and construction sites, crowded sidewalks). This scene effectively connected to me because I can completely understand why someone would be "scared" of New York. The last time I was there I had a panic attack and I haven't been back since. That was about five years ago. I personally didn't like the ending. It was pretty unfulfilling: for most of the movie I was curiously waiting to see what the key unlocked, and when they revealed what it was for I was disappointed. The problem with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the fact that it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. A good drama is one that takes every element of a film and then takes it to new heights, new standards. Despite von Sydow's performance, that didn't happen here. Instead, we get a drama that's not even good, but almost painfully mediocre.

Good Will Hunting

Benchmark acting and an amazing screenplay. I never knew Matt Damon or Robin Williams could act like this. It's truly captivating to see Matt Damon sound off with his genius level intellect, and takes a master in acting to execute this kind of role so well. Should be remembered as a classic, because everything about it is just so perfect.

Buffalo '66
Buffalo '66(1998)
½

Vincent Gallow directs, writes and stars. Without him, there is no Buffalo '66. I thought Gallow's acting was perfect for the role, and the role is quite an interesting one. He has a very specific personality. I guess you could call him a narcissist. While it's an excellent movie, it's not perfect. His acting companion in the film, Christina Ricci, has some odd lines. I thought it was weird how she fell so quickly for a guy who kidnapped her. I also thought there were some really funny parts. Gallo asks Ricci to hold him, and when she does, he yells "Don't touch me!" I loved the ending too. It teaches you to always appreciate and take an opportunity that could lead to happiness. The ending reminded me of Garden State, one of my favorite movies. Buffalo '66 is a fascinating character study with great acting, directing, and writing.

The Woman in Black
½

It was quite scary, although not as scary as Insidious. The story wasn't very good and the acting is just there, nothing bad and nothing special. They only give half an answer as to why kids in the British town die so often. Daniel Radcliffe wasn't bad as the main character. The movie looks very bleak, and the atmosphere of the town and house that the movie takes place in are generally creepy and well done. The first half is a little boring, with only a few mediocre scares which consist of overly loud noises. Once the second half starts, the scares get better and more consistent. I definitely didn't like the ending. SPOILER: It followed the same formula every horror film uses: it ends happily, and then out of nowhere, everything goes horribly wrong and the director tries to scare you one last time. While I thought The Woman in Black was very scary at times, it ultimately failed to live up to my expectations.

War Horse
War Horse(2011)

I now know why War Horse has received six Academy Award nominations. It was truly great, and better than I expected. War Horse is made with such skill by Steven Spielberg and the cinematography is really gorgeous. At first I was turned off by the 146 minute running time, but honestly the movie is worth sitting through. It looks like a boring movie, I admit: but it's not. It's not hard to understand, yet there's an emotional complexity in the beauty of War Horse. The chemistry between the two main horses and their several owners is quite good. I cared a lot about the horses and the characters. And the acting was surprisingly great as well. The film sounds incredible: it's definitely a worthwhile theater experience. When the horses are charging forward on the battlefield, the speakers seem thunderous. War Horse has all of the traits of a great film: great story, complex in it's emotion, and it looks fantastic. I loved it.

Space Station
½

A little boring at times and the 3D isn't consistently good, but it's still cool to see space like this. I watched it on Blu-ray 3D. Even though I saw this in IMAX 3D when it came out about a decade ago, I don't remember it. I'm sure the experience is much more worthy in IMAX.

The Tree of Life

Strange, otherwordly, and boring are just a few words to describe The Tree of Life. Rarely does a movie make me this bored. Pros include great cinematography, great acting from Brad Pitt, a great soundtrack, and a very good looking movie. Everything else is a con. This includes the story, which appears to have no clear intention. I had no idea what director Terrence Malick was trying to do or prove with this. There was a 15 or 20 minute segment that was showing just space and nature. There was a lot of weird and incomprehensible whispering as well. While beautiful looking, it felt like I was watching The Discovery Channel. I can kind of see why critics liked it, but I really didn't. After what seemed like all day, the movie finally ended. The running time is 2 hours and 18 minutes. If you want time to slow down severely, watch this. The Tree of Life may look beautiful, but under the hood, it's lifeless.

In Time
In Time(2011)
½

The premise couldn't be more interesting. In the future, currency is time. If only the first 40 or 45 minutes was as good as the rest, I would have given In Time a much higher score. Sadly, it gets a little bland once everything kicks off. The cast seems like it would be good, but honestly the acting can't get much worse and the dialogue couldn't get any more flat or cheesy. I really didn't like Justin Timberlake as main character Will Salas. His voice is too feminine and he kind of just annoys me. Even in The Social Network, he was annoying. He should just stick to the music industry. Amanda Seyfried's acting isn't bad, it's just director/writer Andrew Niccol gives her the worst lines so her talent is wasted. The best role is probably Vincent Kartheiser as Philippe Weis, a maddeningly rich man. Otherwise, it's a good looking movie with a great first act. I don't think the rest of the movie was bad, I just think it could have been so much better.

Moneyball
Moneyball(2011)

A good story with a great performance from Brad Pitt. I can't say I enjoyed it thoroughly. It took quite a while for the story and emotion to really kick off. And you do have to know a little about baseball. If you don't like the sport, there's a chance you won't like the movie. I grew up with baseball, specifically the Yankees. I've been so disconnected from it over the past few years, and Moneyball really reminded me of those times where I'd watch baseball. I can understand that Brad Pitt got nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars, but Jonah Hill over Albert Brooks? Come on. Jonah Hill was alright, but certainly not Oscar material. Overall, I think even though Moneyball was slow at times, it ended up being full of heart.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

A (mostly) fast paced game of wits. The beginning and end are both awesome, but the middle slows down dramatically. I think the cinematography was a mixed bag, but mostly good. The fight scenes were choppily edited, and the shots were close up so it was a little hard to tell what was really going on. But then there was a scene where Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Noomi Rapace are running through a forrest in Germany running from cannonfire. This was the most well filmed sequence in the movie. Performances are good, but it's pretty hard to understand what Downey Jr. is saying due to his fast talking English role. Subtitles are a must here. The sound effects and soundtrack are both thunderous, and made for a great theater experience. My favorite thing about the 1st Sherlock Holmes was the way Holmes analyzed the way he was going to take down a thug. They've returned in this sequel, and they're better than ever. There's even a twist with it at the end. Speaking of the end, I thought the last fight was glorious. Really epic and well made, the slow motion shots work particularly well with this kind of movie. A lot of the material was funny as well, perhaps even more than the first. Overall, I thought A Game of Shadows was a mostly entertaining, well made, and smart film.

The Wave
The Wave(2011)
½

Based on a true story, the movie is even more powerful than the book. The Wave is a stylistic look at fascism and dictatorship. It's also sends the perfect message of how vulnerable kids are to an idea. Solid performances, great plot, and I liked the setting, which is Germany. I never realized how different the actual landscape is from the U.S. A very well made movie.

Insidious
Insidious(2011)
½

Ridiculously scary. Scarier than all of the Paranormal Activities. It not only combines elements of eeriness and creepiness but also quality scares. Plus it has a great story, and the acting? For a horror movie, excellent. I didn't like the ending because it left you to assume something, instead of just showing you. The final act is a little weaker than the rest of the movie, I guess it's because at that point the scares become so frequent, I got a little immune to them. I would say it is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen, because the scares really come out of nowhere, when you're least expecting it. An extremely entertaining horror film. Watch by yourself, at night, with the lights out for best effect.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)

So awesome, so fresh, and so fun to watch. Nicholas Cage is hilarious as Big Daddy, and newcomer Chloe Moretz is just as great. This is one of those movies where you won't be looking at the time wondering how much of the film is left. So entertaining.

Louis C.K.: Hilarious
½

The part where he talks about his three-year-old daughter taking a #2 is the definition of hilarious. Some of his material is so well written and he performs it with enthusiasm. Just a natural born performer. The one topic I didn't find too funny was when he was talking about how people don't appreciate things, like planes and cell phones. He made it truthful, but the truth isn't always funny.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)
½

Super 8 is a film about a group of young kids who decide to make a movie. In the middle of filming they witness a train crash, and some kind of monster emerges from the cargo. The movie seems to be a dark mystery but ends up being a nostalgic and heartfelt story. My favorite things in the movie include the special effects, the soundtrack, and the ending. The acting is good too. I noticed several similarities to this and Cloverfield, also directed by J.J. Abrams. They both feature monsters that not only look alike, and their intentions are similar as well. After the film wrapped up, I realized it was a big love letter to not only classic Spielberg movies like E.T., but filmmakers as well. I thought Super 8 was a great film.

Witness
Witness(1985)

Harrison Ford plays a detective named John Book who investigates the murder of a cop. He is accompanied by the only witness who is a small Amish boy named Samuel, and his mother Rachel. The middle was slow and a little boring. I think a decent amount could've been cut out. It has some really good looking cinematography and the Amish side of Pennsylvania is one unseen in any other movie, so the setting makes it unique. While a little long, Witness is an entertaining drama thriller with a good performance from Harrison Ford.

Milk
Milk(2008)
½

A lot of viewers will disregard the notion that the story of Harvey Milk, the man who stood for what he believed in, is a great story. One can obviously see why that would happen, you either support gay rights or you don't. I personally am straight but that doesn't change the fact that I believe they have human and civil rights, just like the rest of us. The amazing Sean Penn takes on the title role of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected as a politician. Penn is perfectly cast and his performance truly is a great one. Now I'm not sure if I agree with the Academy Awards for giving him the Best Actor award. Mickey Rourke was great that year too. I think I'd say it's a tie. Other great actors in Milk include James Franco, Emile Hirsch, and Diego Luna. Milk is a mixed bag in terms of emotions which I think is a good thing. The film shows the good side of standing up for what you believe in, but it also shows the downside of it which isn't too hard to figure out. Milk's story reminded me of Martin Luther King's. This film will either change your views on gays or set them in place more than ever. For me, I continued believing that gays deserve their place in society, next to everyone else, and I thought it was quite a powerful story.

Bridesmaids
Bridesmaids(2011)
½

Bridesmaids is a comedy about a woman who's best friend gets engaged. Her best friend picks her to be the Maid of honor and a problematic Rose Byrne comes into play and tries to best her. A lot of the movie is just all-out war between Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne. But the funniest scene is when the entire group of bridesmaids gets food poisoning and ends up rejecting the food in a bathroom. This is by far the funniest scene in the movie. There are scenes in this movie that are so hilarious, I laughed like I had never laughed at a comedy before. Another great thing about Bridesmaids is that almost none of the performances seem out of place; everyone is excellent from the lead of Kristen Wiig (who plays the Maid of honor, Annie) to the utterly hilarious Melissa McCarthy. The only person I could think of who could've been replaced would be Maya Rudolph who plays Annie's best friend, Lillian. Her ugliness and unattractiveness are both pretty bad. Bad to the point where she just shouldn't even have been considered for the role. Rose Byrne is perfectly cast as Helen, a vain, good looking yuppie who competes with Annie. Bridesmaids, unfortunately, is not all laughs. The actual jokes are pretty inconsistent, it felt a little dragged on at times, and it was predictable due to its heavily formulaic plot. So why am I giving it such a good score? The humor here is so well written that it's hard to give it anything less. Not only that, but you can't walk away from this movie in a bad mood. Bridesmaids truly is a fantastic comedy. It's like The Hangover, but with women. Actually, I liked it even more than The Hangover.

Dead Man Walking
½

"Thank you for loving me." A great movie with fantastic performances from Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. By the end of the movie, you'll have formed a definitive take on the death penalty and forgiveness. Dead Man Walking is about a Mathew Poncelot (played by the great Sean Penn) who is on death row for the murder and rape of two teenagers. He reaches out to a nun, Sister Helen Prejean (played by Sarandan) to ease his pain for the coming weeks before he is executed. This film reminded me a lot of The Green Mile, one of my favorite movies. It's amazing how director Tim Robbins can turn your thoughts around and actually make you feel sorry for the "bad guy." I thought Dead Man Walking was an emotional powerhouse of a story with wonderful execution (no pun intended) by director Tim Robbins.

28 Weeks Later...
½

A much better cast with better acting, better picture quality, and a better plot. Notably good performances came from Robert Carlyle and (try not to laugh at this name) Imogen Poots. 28 weeks after the Rage infection broke out, the zombies have died out due to starvation and U.S. NATO forces have quarantined a small part of Britain for remaining survivors. I won't say how, but the virus breaks out again and it's up to Sgt. Doyle (played by the great Jeremy Renner) to escort two kids who may possibly have immunity to the virus. Rose Byrne is also with them, as a nurse who is interested in the security of the kids. The thing I liked the most about this excellent sequel was the way the orders of the NATO soldiers and the remaining survivors collided. They were both doing the right thing, but it was just an unfortunate situation. Seeing this was by far the best part of the movie. It starts to get a tad (and simply put) "less good" around the last 20 minutes or so. It's not that this part was bad, it was just the weakest part of the film. The end leaves it completely open for another film, presumably to be titled 28 Months Later. I was extremely pleased with 28 Weeks Later. It was very entertaining and it's a huge improvement over the first.

Casablanca
Casablanca(1942)

I don't know what it was about Casablanca that I didn't like. Maybe it was the horribly boring plot. Maybe it was the fact that it's horrendously overrated. This film was so boring that I fell asleep when I started watching it, so I had to continue it the next day. I almost fell asleep again, because it was just that boring. Maybe I need to re-watch it, but I just don't see the appeal. Citizen Kane is a masterpiece compared to this.

Red Eye
Red Eye(2005)
½

I was expecting more from this typical thriller. I've seen much better. This is kind of like a movie you'd happen to catch on T.V., and then forget about it soon after. There are no surprises at the end, everything about this movie just yelled "generic." There was nothing wrong with the performances, in fact Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy were pretty good. But that doesn't change Red Eye from being mediocre.

Hotel Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda(2004)
½

A very emotional story about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. More specifically though, about how the a man named Paul (played by Don Cheadle) takes over 1,200 Rwandan refugees into his four star hotel for shelter. This is the best performance of Don Cheadle that I've seen so far. The most effecting scene by far was when Paul and one of his employees were driving down a heavily fogged road and they started going over these bumps. Paul gets out of the car and discovers the bumps were the bodies of the genocide victims. One thing that kept me wondering was why were there so many white Americans in the middle of Rwanda in the first place? Why would you go to Rwanda for vacation? As the hotel started getting more and more dense with refugees, the presence of the Americans started to feel more and more useless. But I wouldn't consider that a flaw in the plot, because it's what actually happened. Overall, Hotel Rwanda was a quite effective story with an incredible performance from Don Cheadle.

28 Days Later
½

I definitely wasn't crazy about 28 Days Later. The film is about a guy named Jim (played by Cilian Murphy) who wakes up alone in a hospital. He exits the hospital and finds that most of civilization has been engulfed in a zombie epidemic. He forms a group of four survivors and they set out towards the source of a radio broadcast who claim they have food, shelter, and the cure to the virus. First of all, critics have called this movie "terrifying." Well quite honestly, I wasn't scared one bit. The entire movie is filmed with a DV camera, and I don't think I've ever seen a worse looking movie. Never has a movie's video quality bothered me this much. And the annoying thing is that director Danny Boyle intended the film to look this way. 28 Days Later mixes bloody violence with themes such as humanism and people's integrity. While the film does what it does well, it just wasn't as entertaining as other notable zombie movies such as Dawn of the Dead (2004), Zombieland, and Shaun of the Dead.

Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane(1941)

"The greatest film of all time." That's quite a thing to say about any movie. To me, Citizen Kane was very far from the greatest film of all time, but it's still a great one. The film is about the life of an incredibly rich newspaper tycoon named Charles Foster Kane. He's played by Orson Welles and the film is directed by him as well. The entire movie not only centered on Kane himself, but his last word, "Rosebud." Welles does not reveal the exact significance of the word until the very end, and when it was revealed, I was kind of underwhelmed. I waited two hours in anticipation to discover that Rosebud was... well, just that? A little disappointing. Not only that, but for about the second half-hour, I was quite bored with it. Luckily, the story picked up towards the 2nd half, and overall the story really is great. Welles' acting is very good as well. One could say Citizen Kane is about how money doesn't bring happiness. I have never been a fan of old black and white movies, and I don't think I ever will be. While flawed, I still think Citizen Kane is a great film.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

"F for Fat." Precious is at that point in between bad and alright. While heavily flawed in several ways, it also packs plenty of emotional scenes and performances. Gabourey Sidibie plays the title role as Precious, a grotesquely rotund 16-year-old who was raped by her father and gave birth to their daughter who has Down syndrome. Yes, that sentence sounds ridiculous and the contents of the film are even more so. Mo'Nique plays her physically and sexually abusive mother. Her character shows plenty of what she is composed of: fatty acids. She is a completely useless, obese woman who eats away at her daughter. Paula Patton plays Ms. Rain, Precious' lesbian teacher and Mariah Carey (an odd but effective casting choice) plays Mrs. Weiss, a social worker. All of these performances are fantastic, and that is pretty much the only good thing about the film. There are some emotionally heartbreaking scenes that only work because the acting is just that good. We often see Mo'Nique throwing glass objects and pans at Precious' head, and then there's a brawl. While none of these scenes are supposed to be funny, I couldn't help but laugh while watching these two circular low-lives dish it out. Precious greatly succeeds in the acting department, but when it comes to writing, it ultimately failed to captivate me due to its off-putting, unintentional hilarity.

Trainspotting

Trainspotting is the directorial debut of the great Danny Boyle. It's a drug-based movie, specifically heroin, and stars a young Ewan McGregor. The first half of the movie shows what it's like to be an addict. The drug den that they use the heroin in is a total mess: wallpaper is peeling off the walls and addicts are sleeping on dirty cots. Oh, and a baby just happens to be crawling around. The middle of the movie shows what it's like coming off the drug, and the severe withdrawal effects that come along with it. I found this part of the movie to be one of the most discomforting and shocking sequences. The second half of the movie shows main addict Mark Renton's (McGregor) life, post-addiction. The difference was really amazing, not only in Renton's behavior but his physical appearance as well. This is a great movie that depicts the dirtiest, hardest drug of them all and what life is like in its presence. My favorite part was the ending, by far. I couldn't help but think of A Clockwork Orange with that similar, strange, quirky style Boyle captures on the screen, as Kubrick did with A Clockwork Orange. This certainly isn't Boyle's best work, but it's still a good movie.

Sunshine
Sunshine(2007)
½

A fresh, unique, good looking, and beautiful movie. However, there is a MAJOR flaw in the plot, which occurs during the third act. Writer Alex Garland decided to throw in an utterly stupid killer-on-the-loose guy, almost completely eradicating the incredible sci-fi genius that is Sunshine. Luckily, the very end was awesome. The acting is great from everyone, especially Cillian Murphy. Besides the let-down of a useless and annoying plotline, the film was so good I was at a loss of words after seeing it. There are simply too many beautiful, emotional scenes for that one plotline to keep the film from greatness. Sunshine is a remarkably innovative science fiction gem.

Cowboys & Aliens

Didn't really connect with this one. The story is pretty bland and the dialogue got a little cheesy. I did however enjoy the action, which there was plenty of, and the special effects were great too. The title pretty much sums up the premise. Takes place in the old West and aliens come and abduct a bunch of people. Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde set out to stop them. None of these characters are interesting or compelling, but luckily the acting wasn't bad. You really couldn't ask for a more simple-minded movie. It was entertaining enough, but the story just needed to be better.

Midnight in Paris
½

Woody Allen's new romantic comedy is a highly stylized one. Owen Wilson is in the lead as a writer named Gil who's on visiting Paris with his wife (played by Rachel McAdams). I wasn't a fan of Woody Allen's work with Annie Hall, but my mind has been changed after watching Midnight in Paris. When Gil decides to take a walk around midnight, he discovers he has been sent back in time to the 20's, when writers and painters such as Hemingway and Picasso were in their prime. He meets them along with F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife, and more. But more importantly, he meets a woman who is friends with Hemingway and Picasso named Adriana, and he falls in love with her. My favorite thing about this movie was the lively flare of Paris in the 20's and present. I think if this didn't take place in Paris, it just wouldn't have that much heart. Luckily it does take place in Paris, and it's a triumph.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
½

Far superior to it's first half. The acting is pretty good for a Harry Potter movie, the strongest performance coming from Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort. I wouldn't be surprised if he got a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. There are some seriously intense scenes here, with the duels between Harry and Voldemort. Visual effects are explosively magical and sound effects are thunderously powerful. The only thing missing here, honestly, is the lack of true emotional connection. The epilogue didn't strike me emotionally as hard as I thought it would. But this is still a great conclusion to a truly exceptional series.

The series in final order, greatest to least: 4,1,5,7p2,2,3,6,7p1.

Warrior
Warrior(2011)

Absolutely amazing. The acting completely blew me away, from all three leads; Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, and Nick Nolte. Warrior is about family and struggle. Joel Edgerton plays Brendan, a struggling father and physics teacher. He needs money to save his house from foreclosure, so he enters an MMA tournament to win 5 million dollars. Tom Hardy plays his brother, Tommy, a mysterious and troubled ex-marine. He joins the same MMA tournament because he needs the money for his fellow marine's wife. Nick Nolte plays their estranged father, Paddy. He used to be a serious alcoholic when Brendan and Tommy were kids. They never reveal to the audience exactly what he did, but just by seeing his two sons' expressions when they see him, you can tell whatever he did was permanently damaging. Tommy is the most damaged. He appears completely cold and numb to all emotion because of his father and he hates him for it. Gavin O'Connor couldn't have directed better, and the cinematography is great. This was one of the most powerful movies I've seen in a long time. Hardy and Edgerton both have little screen time together, but when they do, the sparks really fly. There's so much emotion here, like you've never seen before. And the thing that makes this film stand out from other boxing movies is that it's not predictable. In others, you kind of assume the main protagonist is going to win the final match. But in Warrior, it could be anyone because there is no one "true" protagonist. I was completely blown away by Warrior. One of the best films of the year.

Billy Madison

It's entertaining to a point, but overall the dialogue is just so flat. Some of the jokes were decent.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Amazing. Andy Serkis' acting seriously needs to recognized by the Academy for his knockout performance as an ape named Caesar. In one scene, Caesar grabs Tom Felton's bratty character. He tells Caesar to let go of him and Caesar screams out a bone chilling "NO". This is the best movie moment of the year, so far. I definitely think this will get a few Oscar nominations, definitely for it's amazing CGI and hopefully for Best Picture and Best Actor (Andy Serkis).

After a 2nd viewing, I have to say, Andy Serkis' performance is really just amazing. He doesn't seem to be playing the ape Caesar, he seems to BE Caesar. The movie was just as amazing the 2nd time.

Men in Black
Men in Black(1997)
½

A unique science fiction movie with a well written script, great actors, and smart dialogue. Basically, it's about aliens on Earth; specifically, Manhattan. The people that monitor the alien activity on Earth are an organization called Men in Black. Will Smith plays Agent J, a new recruit in the secret society. Tommy Lee Jones plays Agent K, the veteran who trains J. And then there's Edgar (played by Vincent D'Onofrio). Edgar is an alien who literally took the skin off a man and placed his body in it. His figure often looks like it's struggling to move, grunting like he's extremely uncomfortable in his new outfit. In one scene, Edgar quickly turns his body to look at himself in the mirror and you can hear the liquids moving around inside him. Even though this sounds incredibly weird, it's the fact that it is incredibly weird that makes it so hilarious. Seeing D'Onofrio play the role of Edgar is hilarious and original. This is by far the comedic center of the movie. The way the Agents come into play is that they have to stop Edgar from destroying the galaxy. It's a complicated plot, really, and it's very well written. I grew up watching Men in Black and its sequel, and I still enjoy every minute of them today.

Limitless
Limitless(2011)

A fun thriller with an original premise. It's about a failed writer named Eddie Morra (played by Bradley Cooper) who comes across a drug called NZT. Basically, the drug lets him access 100% of his brain and boosts his I.Q. to limitless leaps and bounds. That pun actually wasn't intended; the drug really makes him an Albert Einstein. He gets involved in the stock market, and meets this stock guy (played by Robert De Niro). The opening credits is probably the best opening sequence ever. The cinematographer uses a completely new camera technique unseen in any movie. It appears as if the camera is constantly zooming in and puts you into an optical trance. Great soundtrack. Bradley Cooper carries Eddie Morra's dialogue in a way I can only compare to the way Jesse Eisenberg did in the Social Network as Mark Zuckerberg, and Cooper does it with skill. The way Morra handles all of the situations he finds himself in (while under the influence of NZT) is a treat to watch, and that alone makes Limitless satisfying and entertaining.

Edward Scissorhands
½

A magical suburbanized fairy tale. Johnny Depp plays Edward Scissorhands, an unfinished project who has massive scissors for hands. The costume and makeup work is like nothing you've ever seen before. Edward looks gothic and strange with a capital S. His "hands" look masterfully made and I'd love to get a look at the actual prop in person. Depp plays an incredibly quiet, reserved, and awkward role and he does it with skill. Edward is found by a door-to-door saleswoman in a giant mansion. She takes him in and majority of the movie is seeing Edward react and adapt to this new-found civilization. Eventually, the world spits him back out and the ending is not a happy one. Tim Burton's direction is truly something to behold, and the movie proves to be one of his most intriguing inventions.

Dragon Wars
Dragon Wars(2007)

One of the worst movies I've ever seen.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
½

Horrendously overrated. It's far from gut-busting and barely funny. There were about three scenes that were funny, and they weren't even laugh-out-loud laughs. The Holy Grail tries too hard to be funny and looks ridiculous in the process. I would never recommend this to anyone, unless you have a bad sense of humor and you were around over 30 years ago when this kind of comedy was (somehow) considered good.

Dog Day Afternoon
½

Dog Day Afternoon is a classic 70's film starring the great Al Pacino playing a young man named Sonny who robs a bank for his boyfriend's sex change operation. Sounds ridiculous, right? In actuality, this is a great movie. I was completely entertained for the whole two hours. Pacino's performance was incredible, as well as John Cazale as Sal, Sonny's seemingly disturbed co-robber. I love a good true story, and that's exactly what I got with Dog Day Afternoon.

The Descendants

George Clooney stars in The Descendants, a movie about family and loss. The cinematography is gorgeous and the acting from Clooney and Shailene Woodley is definitely great. Unfortunately, the plot was pretty underwhelming and mostly boring. I was waiting the entire movie for something groundbreaking, or at least exciting to happen, but it just never did. No, a movie does not need a big twist to make it good, but a good movie needs a solid plot and The Descendants lacks just that. It's not that this is a bad movie, it's just not a very good one. Too melodramatic, too overrated, too boring for me. The best scene (and one of the only good scenes) was when Clooney's daughter finds out her mother won't come out of her coma. This scene was particularly effective in terms of emotion and acting. The saddest part about The Descendants is all of the Oscar buzz it's getting. Knowing this will probably get nominated in just about every category including Best Picture and that Drive probably will not is just sad. If this happens, I can clearly see a great difference in my opinions and the Academy's.

Lara Croft - Tomb Raider
½

Tomb Raider is one of the primary movies of my childhood. I remember watching it back in the day, ten years ago, when it came out on DVD. Watching it as a kid ten years ago was awesome. But now... well let's just say the older you get the worse these kinds of movies get. It's an action movie. That couldn't be any more obvious. The action scenes are done particularly well and the stunts are great. Special effects are pretty good for their time. Where Tomb Raider fails is the acting and dialogue. Nearly everything that comes out of the actors' mouths is just badly written. Dialogue doesn't come much worse and generic than this. The acting is definitely not good. Angelina Jolie is often making the noise, "Hmph," and at the worst times. The movie opens with Lara Croft (Jolie) hanging upside down from a rope. After she lets go and lands on the floor, she looks around slowly with her jaw dropped. Jolie is clearly trying to be badass. Not that there's anything wrong with that... after all, she is ridiculously hot. If she really was trying to be as badass as possible, she went way too far. Tomb Raider's best feature is its soundtrack. Every single song fits perfectly into their respective scenes.
As an action movie and as an adaptation to the best-selling game, Tomb Raider succeeds. But as a movie in general, it's not much more than mediocre. Personally, I'm giving this a 3.5/5 because I liked the action and visuals, and because I grew up with this movie. But as a critic, I would give it no more than a 3/5.

Downfall (Der Untergang)

An amazing account of the last 10 days of Hitler and his surrounding allies' lives. Bruno Ganz plays the best Hitler I've ever seen. His acting is amazing. When he yells, you can truly feel his anger. Everyone perceives Hitler as a monster, and a monster only. While he is, Downfall shows a side of him most people never knew: that he was human. He shows care for his people. There were some things that Downfall showed me that I never knew: Hitler's left hand constantly shook due to tremors. And I had no idea Hitler killed himself way before all of the other generals. If you're interested in how Hitler died, this is a perfect movie to show you how everything unfolded.

Bellflower
Bellflower(2011)
½

Here's a debut from a director sparking with talent. The movie is written, directed and stars all the same guy, Evan Glodell. It's a movie about a guy named Woodrow who builds a flamethrower with his friend. He soon meets a girl named Milly and things get pretty good for him. Eventually, something really bad happens. Then only a few seconds later, something even worse happens. The tone of the movie changes from happy and adventurous to depressing and daring. Everything about Bellflower seems so natural. The acting is natural. The dialogue couldn't be any less tacked on if it tried. Characters are often changing tones without realizing it and cursing when the time is right. In fact, some of the dialogue is so realistic it's laugh-out-loud funny. Glodell uses a seemingly cheap but effective camera in which he puts a filter on it making it appear dirty and old. These elements of realism and cinematography make Bellflower an original and revolutionary movie. Calling this film an "end of the world" movie is a harshly intriguing notion, as the world does not literally end, but it ends for the character, in a manner of speaking. The setting is familiar but new. It takes place in Los Angeles. But this is a side of Los Angeles we rarely see in movies, the poorer side of town. The message that the film seems to convey at the end is great. It shows how far your imagination can go when you're in a state of desperation. While this was great, the movie seemed to be leading to an epic finale that quite literally didn't happen. Woodrow imagines himself doing all this crazy stuff and then it reveals he never did it. I don't think Glodell intended it to be anti-climatic, but unfortunately, it was. If it weren't for this Bellflower would earn a very easy and well deserved 5/5.

X-Men: The Last Stand
½

This is by far the most action packed X-Men of them all. Magneto lifts the Golden Gate Bridge and places it in an entirely different spot. Jean Grey lifts an entire house from its foundation. I found the scenes with Jean Grey destroying everything to be the best. She can disintegrate anything and everything around her. I would say that First Class is the best X-Men for characters, acting, and story but The Last Stand is the best X-Men for visual effects and action. I LOVED the ending. It shows (a now human) Magneto sitting in a park with other elderly human men playing chess by, himself. The camera zooms in on Magneto trying to move a metal chess piece and the piece moves just a little. This opens the possibility for another sequel. Not only that, but in a post credits scene, it appears that Xavier's mind has been transported into a different body. Overall, The Last Stand is the most satisfyingly intense of them all.

X2: X-Men United
½

A drastic improvement from the first. The acting has been the best so far, especially from Hugh Jackman when he learns Jean Grey sacrificed herself. There are some REALLY awesome scenes, the best being when Magneto pulls the pins from the grenades being carried by soldiers. The entire room detonates and Magneto drops a handful of pins. Bad-ass. Nightcrawler is so awesome. His best scene was the first scene of the movie, when he invades the White House and nearly kills the President. The story this time around is pretty different. Instead of it focusing on the war between Xavier and Magneto, they actually temporarily team up to take down a government scientist named Stryker. Stryker was the guy responsible for Wolverines mutation. He was the main antagonist of X-Men Origins. Overall, this one of the better X-Men movies.

X-Men
X-Men(2000)
½

Okay, first off, this series is so inconsistently written. I'm not blaming this movie, but the series as a whole. In this, Sabretooth seems to have no relation to Wolverine yet in X-Men Origins, Sabretooth is Wolverine's half-brother. In Origins, Emma Frost is on the good side while in First Class, she's a villain. WHICH IS IT? Anyway, this one was not as good as I was hoping. Everything happens way too fast at the end, and gets incredibly confusing. Even after reading over the plot on Wikipedia, I'm still pretty confused. There are some really cool scenes though, especially Mystique's. I thought it was awesome when at the end you could tell it was her posing as the senator tying up loose ends with the mutants and the public. Storm and Cyclops are pretty cool. That cheesiness in the dialogue that I found in Origins seems to be gone for the most part, and the acting is much improved. The acting is pretty good, and I thought it was hilarious when Wolverine flew threw the windshield after telling Rogue not to worry about his seat-belt. The entire character of Toad is so stupid. His power is an elastic tongue. Couldn't the writers have picked a better villain than Toad? And now that I've seen both versions of Xavier and Magneto, I honestly have to say, I liked them both a LOT more in First Class. The Xavier played by James McAvoy in First Class seems like a completely different Xavier than the one that Patrick Stewart plays here and Magneto is simply not as bad-ass as he used to be. Whenever I see Ian McKellen as Magneto, I can't help but thinking, "Hey look it's Gandalf." I didn't have that problem with Michael Fassbender in First Class. I know it sounds like I'm complaining too much to give this a 3.5, but I still enjoyed it. As a standalone movie, it's great, but when you fit it into the series as a piece of the puzzle, it's kinda crappy compared to First Class. I guess it just hasn't aged well.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine

This is pretty good entertainment. As long as you go into it knowing you're not getting any groundbreaking acting or drama, you'll have fun. The dialogue does have a cheesiness about it. The dialogue is just not that good. For example, during a fight, this guy appears out of nowhere and he says, "Looking for me?" Predictable, generic action movie dialogue. Also, Patrick Stewart makes a cameo appearance as Charles Xavier, but since they have to make him look younger, the special effects team threw in a hilarious attempt at making him look young. This reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger's cameo in Terminator Salvation. There are some really good action sequences, like when Wolverine destroys a helicopter. One thing I was really confused about was Emma Frost. In First Class, she's the villain who sides with Magneto, yet here we see her defending Cyclops and getting into a helicopter with Xavier. I don't know if this is a scripting fault on the First Class writer or if it's something that will be somehow cleared up in a future sequel. Despite it's flaws, Origins is an entertaining action popcorn flick that answers some questions about Wolverine's foggy past.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
½

A hilarious 80's adventure about a kid who quite simply has a day off from school. It's what he does with his day off that makes this movie so fun to watch.

Hugo
Hugo(2011)
½

Martin Scorsese makes his family film debut with Hugo, a holiday seasoned film about a boy named (you guessed it) Hugo. It takes place in Britain (Oh I mean France. If these actors are speaking English with a British accent, why can't it just take place in London?) Hugo takes place in early 20th century Paris, in a train station. Hugo Cabret is a young inventor who's father dies and has no other choice but to live in the train station. He gets into trouble with the local shop owner Georges (who holds a secret about his past in which he was a popular filmmaker and actor) played by Ben Kingsley. He meets a girl his age named Isabelle (played by Chloe Moretz) who was taken in by Georges. Along the way, he runs into trouble with the station inspector played by the hilarious Sacha Baron Cohen. Almost all of the laughs came from him, especially when he made the most awkward smile in the history of film. All of these performances are good, but none of them are particularly memorable. The story itself is pretty charming and it pays an homage to movies and filmmakers alike. I loved the usage of metaphors. The overall message of the movie was spoken by Hugo himself, "Once you lose purpose, you're sort of broken." This line was actually a metaphor for a machine he was repairing as well as Georges' filming career. Because of the fact that everyone forgot about his movies, he became dreary and miserable because he had lost his purpose. The 3D itself was pretty good: the faces of actors would often pop out of the screen right in your face. This isn't a bad movie, just a flawed one. I can't say I would recommend it to everyone. It seems like almost every critic out there loved it, but I didn't. It was just good, no more, no less.

I Am Legend
I Am Legend(2007)

An interesting concept, about a scientist played by Will Smith who lives in a post apocalyptic New York City. His performance is emotional and great. Generally creepy and atmospheric, I thought I Am Legend was amazing during its 2007 release. Now, 4 years later, I take a look back and realize it was the first of its kind, which is post apocalyptic with a horror twist. Since then, so many movies in its genre (The Book of Eli, The Road) have beaten it. It's still a good movie, it's just that the quality has withered over the past few years.

Trust
Trust(2011)

Trust is a movie about a 14 year old girl named Annie who starts talking to a 16 year old boy from California named Charlie. Well, it turns out "Charlie" is really a 35 year old man living not too distant from her. Basically, it's about sexual predators and the effects they leave on their victims. Eventually, Charlie meets Annie in a shopping mall. From here, things spiral out of control. It's a simple premise that spins into a complex web of emotions and psychologically twisting tendencies. Clive Owen plays the determined father of young Annie, determined to find the S.O.B. who messed with his daughter. Owen's powerhouse performance is, without a doubt, his best so far. Liana Liberato is great as Annie and Catherine Keener is excellent as Annie's mom. While a subject like this can oftentimes be a bit uncomfortable to discuss, the way director David Schwimmer puts it from script to screen works so well that you're willing to endure whatever you have to to get to the end. With a script and performances this engaging, there's nothing stopping Trust from being undeniably entertaining and painfully important. It serves the subject of sexual predators as Requiem for a Dream did for drugs.

A Clockwork Orange
½

Before I started watching A Clockwork Orange, I really didn't know what to expect. After the first 15 minutes, I was asking myself, "What the f*** am I watching?" What I mean is (even after it was over), it was probably the weirdest movie I have ever seen. A lot of it simply doesn't make sense, and then some of it touches upon some themes such as free will and violence. While it does have the qualities of a great movie (acting and themes) I can't say I enjoyed it past a certain level because it was just that weird, and at times, unsettling.

X-Men: First Class
½

It was so cool to see these great actors portraying the origins of X-Men. Actors like Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Kevin Bacon steal the show with great performances. The special effects were pretty good, especially when Magneto lifted a submarine right out of the water. I've never been a follower of the X-Men movies, but this one came highly recommended. Considering that I liked it a lot and I've only seen the first X-Men, I think that's saying a lot. Great movie.

Back to the Future Part II

Back to the Future was an amazing movie. Part 2 is a direct sequel and it takes time travel and twists it in every direction, which is cool. I enjoyed seeing the old and young versions of all the characters, as there are multiple time periods that Marty McFly and Doc Brown pass through. This includes 1955 (the setting of the first movie), 1985, and 2015. The reason I found Part 1 to be a better movie was that it was more simple in concept and more rich in it's execution. There's nothing wrong with Part 2... it's simply not as good as the first.

Back to the Future

Over the past year or so, I've been urged by a friend, constantly, to see this movie. Whenever I told someone I never saw Back to the Future, they couldn't believe it. I FINALLY got around to seeing it, and I know know exactly what I've been missing out on: a fantastic mind-bending treat that presents ingenious concepts.

The Last House on the Left

One of my favorite horror thrillers. It follows several different groups of people who all eventually come together: 2 teenage girls, one of the girls' parents, and a group of killers. There are no restrictions here, and what I mean by that is that it's incredibly graphic but realistic. There's a rape scene which makes it brutally graphic yet realistic because a psychotic killer like the one in this movie would probably do something like that in real life. Later in the movie, the killers meet the parents of the girl who was raped, and it's all-out war. Seeing the killers get what they deserved was incredibly satisfying and thrilling. The acting is greaconsidering this is a horror movie, and it's filmed nicely. I can't believe how low the ratings are for this movie. I loved it.

Braveheart
Braveheart(1995)

Amazing. The acting is just ridiculously good (particularly from Mel Gibson and Angus Macfadyen), and shockingly, no Oscar nominations for either. It takes place during the 13th century, in Scotland. The film follows a man named William Wallace (GIbson) who is affected by the growing presence of English in Scotland, and their ridiculous law which allows them to basically marry whoever they want. This includes Scottish women. When one of the perverted, old English soldiers makes a move on Wallace's woman, all hell breaks loose starting a war between Wallace and the King of England (aka Longshanks). Shot on location in Scotland, the land is beautiful with gorgeous mountains and lakes. The land is also very bleak, with the sky being cloudy throughout the film. A setting not often seen in a movie. The battles are incredibly bloody and gory, and brutally realistic. During one of the battles, (there are two large scale ones) a Scottish soldier smashes an English soldier's head with a gigantic sledgehammer and his brains/blood fly onto the camera. The film is masterfully made. After hearing about the famous "freedom" speech that Wallace delivers to his men, it really did live up to the word. It was incredibly uplifting and emotional, as well as the word(s) he used at the end. At first Mel Gibson seemed a bit of an odd choice for the lead role, appearing to be an old, alcoholic child- molestor type of guy, but I soon developed a tolerance for his act and forgot about that image once he made the freedom speech. The best acting comes from Angus Macfadyen as Robert the Bruce with his emotional and quick shouting of powerful words striking me in the heart. Overall, this is a masterfully made movie about respecting your rights, your freedom, your country, and your honor.

Despicable Me

Steve Carell plays an "evil" genius named Gru who has a massive underground lab full of little yellow guys called "minions." These minions are often hilarious in their actions and words, making the movie so much funnier. Gru meets a rival villain named Vector, a nerdy dork with a bowl cut who stole a famous Egyptian pyramid. Soon after, Gru adopts three little orphans, all of whom want a nice mom and dad that treat them properly. Watching Gru develop as a father and as a person was both emotional and entertaining. There were some pretty emotionally touching scenes and some very funny ones. It's an animated movie with all of the proper elements and Despicable Me does them very well. It's an incredibly funny, smart, and heartwarming treat.

Megamind
Megamind(2010)

I thought it was really entertaining, funny, meaningful, and uplifting. A guy named Megamind is the villain of Metro City and his nemesis is Metro Man. Soon after, Megamind realizes being bad isn't all its cracked up to be, and changes his intentions. Will Ferrell is hilarious as Megamind and Jonah Hill is perfect as the antagonist, Titan. Megamind's ability to transform into anyone else provides a perfect pathway to several twists that really took me by surprise. It's a great movie.

The Bank Job
The Bank Job(2008)
½

A highly entertaining heist thriller with Jason Statham, who is perfectly cast. It's based on a true story, which makes it all the more shocking.

This Is Spinal Tap
½

An incredibly accurate depiction of what it's like to be in a rock band. While it's supposed to be funny, which I found it to be so, I also thought it was meaningful at the end. I really liked it.

Gangs of New York
½

A period piece that takes place in New York during the Civil War. First of all, Daniel Day-Lewis' acting was awesome. He plays Bill the Butcher, a "native" New Yorker with a very heavy New Yorker accent. Seeing all of these gangs clash in battle was so interesting, because if you think about it, it's not much different than how there are still gangs today. All of the battles are so realistic, and the acting is great, with every accent, whether it be Irish or New Yorker, accurate. The sets look VERY good. Leonardo DiCaprio was decently cast, however I found it strange that his acting wasn't particularly great in this movie. But he was good enough. I also found it to drag on a bit, and the pacing was a bit messy. Other than that, it's a greatly entertaining movie to watch, and to see how blood stained the streets of New York all those years ago.

Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood plays an old boxing trainer who decides to take on a very dedicated and bright Hilary Swank. As he guides her through several fights, the script sucker punches you and takes on a much darker tone. The acting is outstanding, as well as Clint Eastwood's directing. I really cared about the characters and paid close attention to the fights, which are beautifully choreographed. When you make a boxing movie predictable, with the typical epic final match with the main character just barely winning, it's incredibly hard to make it stand out from the rest. Clint Eastwood neutralizes that idea and makes a movie that practically demands to be recognized as extraordinary, and it deserves to be.

Miami Vice
Miami Vice(2006)

Two Miami detectives go undercover and get into the transportation of drugs in and out of Miami. Colin Farrell's character develops a relationship with one of the leaders of the crime syndicate, a woman named Isabelle. The acting isn't great, but not bad either. I found some scenes dragging on for a long time, and I think several scenes could've been cut out, dropping it from 2 hours and 13 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes or so. Those are the problems. It's filmed so well, by the one and only Michael Mann, director of great movies such as Collateral and Heat. The quality of gunfights and sounds reflect his other movies. There's plenty of women, great music, colors, boats, cars, and sights... and there are plenty of badass scenes. Ultimately, Miami Vice is a pretty good action drama that shouldn't be missed by any fan of Michael Mann's.

Little Miss Sunshine

A little girl wants to participate in a pageant called Little Miss Sunshine, in which her entire family drives her to California via yellow Volkswagen. The characters are just so interesting, particularly Dwayne (played by Paul Dano who is the mute teenage son) and Frank (played by Steve Carell a homosexual who tried to commit suicide). The actors that play these characters do an exceptional job and really drew me into the film. By the end of the movie, everyone's person is developed, which I found fascinating to watch. The film handles freedom of expression, winning, and losing. Heartfelt and heartwarming, funny and hilarious, I truly enjoyed everything about Little Miss Sunshine.

Where the Wild Things Are

The movie is about a young boy named Max who is disappointed with his life at home, and eventually runs away. He sails to an unknown island at which he meets a group of large talking animals. He then is appointed their king, and he makes sure everyone has fun. It sounds like a ridiculous premise, but at times it's such a joyous film, there's no way after seeing certain scenes you won't smile. The ending shook my emotions to the point of tears, and movies rarely do this for me. As the consensus says, some may find its dark tone off-putting, but if you can overlook the strangeness of certain scenes, you'll find a one-of-a-kind movie that you'll never forget. A movie that's so emotional, visually unique, and original are very rare and Where the Wild Things Are possesses all of those qualities and utilizes them to the absolute fullest.

The Insider
The Insider(1999)
½

The performances were great, especially from Bruce McGill. The best scene was when Russell Crowe was in the coutroom and his defending lawyer, played by McGill tells the prosecuters off. So basically, the movie is about a guy who gets fired from a tobacco company and attempts to reveal their bad intentions to the public. He gets all kinds of threats, and eventually it goes to court. This doesn't sound very exciting, and it rarely is. Throw in a 2.5+ hour running time and you get a movie that's almost only good for it's fantastic performances.

American Beauty

"Remember those posters that said, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life"? Well, that's true of every day but one - the day you die."

Even with knowing this movie won 5 Academy Awards, the quality of it still took me by utter surprise. Kevin Spacey does an electrifying performance as a middle aged man who does everything necessary to make himself happy. This performance is unique and incredibly intriguing to watch. There were several times that I realized, while watching, how hard my breathing was. Very rarely am I so drawn into a movie and its performances in the way American Beauty did. Everything in the movie all leads to this one scene that really puts a cap on the overall message of the film: to be happy, and that everyone is there own unique person.

My Cousin Vinny

A great comedy that I've seen countless times and every time I see it, I feel the same level of entertainment. Joe Pesci plays a fantastic role as Vincent Gambini, a sleezball New Yorker who doesn't know the southern way of life. When his two cousins get into trouble in the middle of Alabama, Gambini has to defend them in court. Not only does Gambini completely surprise us by turning the tables and odds for the two innocent kids, he does it with pride and skill. Joe Pesci is in his top form here. Marisa Tomei plays Gambini's fiance, Lisa. This is by far the best role of her career. My Cousin Vinny is a smart, funny, intelligent, and daring courtroom comedy that will always hold a special place in my list of favorite comedies.

Road to Perdition

Beautiful editing, cinematography, directing, and acting, Road to Perdition is a fantastic period piece that I will never forget.

Three Kings
Three Kings(1999)
½

Several of my emotions were toyed with including anger, sympathy, humor, but ultimately I felt spirited at the end. Spirited in the sense that the "three kings" chose doing the right thing over the law, and choosing to save people over greed.

Mystic River
Mystic River(2003)

Such a memorable story. Acting this good is rarely found. Sean Penn's breathtaking performance will never be forgotten, and neither will Tim Robbins'. Teaches you to never accuse someone of something unless you have it on good authority.

The Next Three Days

A pretty entertaining and well thought-out jailbreak movie with a good performance from Russell Crowe.

The Italian Job
½

A fun espionage heist movie with a great cast and great cars. My favorite, the Mini Cooper.

The Social Network

UPDATE:
After a 2nd rewatch, this time with subtitles, which helped my comprehending of Jesse Eisenberg's insanely fast talking, I can honestly say I'm surprised. A year after seeing it, I'm more educated on business and technology and I finally understand why this movie is so good. The acting is ridiculously good and the dialogue is incredibly smart.

One of the most overrated movies of all time and by FAR the most overrated of the year, Social Network is NOT a masterpiece. If it wasn't so popular, I would probably give it a 4 or a 4.5, but the hype and popularity that went towards it was simply not deserved. It was sad seeing the awards go out to this movie and NOT 127 Hours which is better by a mile. Luckily, it's not entirely horrible, if you can push aside the ridiculous amounts of hype, you'll find a rather stylistic take on the world's youngest multi-billionaire.

Drive
Drive(2011)

This is one of the best action/driving movies out there. Ryan Gosling delivers a naturally reserved attitude as the main character and surprisingly fits the role very well. The action is very clean, so to speak. Nothing is too over the top and nothing is unrealistic, so when you see Gosling stomp a hitman's head to the size of a pancake, you won't be laughing. This isn't Hollywood. This is a serious movie with a serious vision, and I think that vision was met with exceptional quality.

Seven (Se7en)

An incredible story with amazing acting from Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and even better Kevin Spacey. The ending couldn't get crazier. Has one of the best monologues in a movie, ever.

L.A. Confidential

First off, this is an AMAZING movie. It's so complex, corrupt, smart, exciting, and surprising. Russell Crowe acts exceptionally. There's one twist in it that is by far one of the craziest twists in my movie viewing history. I couldn't recommend it more. This is the best movie I've seen in quite a while.

Burn After Reading
½

It's so hard to watch this and not laugh at Brad Pitt's quirky personality. Despite the plot being too hard to follow, it's just such a fun movie with a great cast.

Tangled
Tangled(2010)
½

Here is a fantastic looking movie filled with vibrant colors and environments. The story is cute, and some of the things that happen are pretty funny. However, the ending is so predictable and the singing is a bit cheesy, but then again this is a kids movie. The voice actors sing very well, so it's not as annoying as it could have been.

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)

127 Hours is by far the best movie of 2010, and in my opinion, one of the best movies of all time. The emotional connection that I had by the end was something I'd never experienced with a movie before making it more of an experience than a film. The plot, the character, the acting, the directing, the editing, the sounds, the screenplay, the cinematography, is all just amazing. It holds what I think is the best song ever played in a movie which is Festival by Sigur Ros. James Franco does a phenomenal job of portraying real life hiker Aron Ralston who is cocky, careless, and dedicated. I couldn't imagine anyone else playing the role as good as he did, his performance was THAT good. So many themes are presented here, such as isolationism and the importance of company. This is more of an experience than a movie. If I could change one thing, I wouldn't know what to change. Perfect.

Final Destination 5
½

Very good 3D and a few decent death scenes. However, most of them are just kids getting their heads off or whatever. The death scenes aren't nearly as creative as the other ones in the series. The ending was very cool, linking the 1st one to the 5th. Overall, I was expecting better death scenes.

Knocked Up
Knocked Up(2007)

Funny, enjoyable and entertaining. Seth Rogen is awesome as the main character and Jonah Hill is really funny also. The ending is rewarding.

Superbad
Superbad(2007)

So funny, a classic comedy.

Annie Hall
Annie Hall(1977)

Watched this for a school assignment. It's pretty funny, but boring at times.

Hobo With a Shotgun

So dumb and so stupid to the point where it's literally funny. The only decent acting is from the hobo himself, everyone else badly detracts from the movie. I think the director's intention was to recreate a movie that would seem like it would fit in the 80's and 90's alongside bad gory B-movies. But why would anyone want to make one of those? They are known to be bad which this movie is.

Final Destination
½

The acting is definitely cheesy, but the death scenes are so original and cool to watch, it's definitely fun.

The Perfect Storm

Emotional, thrilling, and gripping. It has a great cast and a great soundtrack. Very good.

Fright Night
Fright Night(2011)
½

Colin Firth is pretty well cast as Jerry the vampire, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse's role was cool. But this movie could have been so much better, it wasn't truly scary and the final act was quite predictable. Nothing new here, just a decent vampire movie.

The Silence of the Lambs
½

Very good. The highlight performance comes from Anthony Hopkins as a cannibal named Hannibal Lecter. I can't imagine anyone else doing a better job as Hannibal than Hopkins. The whole Buffalo Bill plot was a little distracting from the true potential the movie could have had. If the movie were to simply give Hannibal more screen time, it would have been better. Hopkins' performance is really spellbinding, his character deeply interesting. I was never a huge fan of Jodie Foster and her southern accent, but she does pretty well with her role.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)

Some will be disappointed with the ending, but it holds so much meaning. Mickey Rourke pulls off one of the best performances I've ever seen. The characters drew me in so well that I forget entirely I was watching a movie.

The Truman Show

Amazing acting and emotional, meaningful ending.

Be Kind Rewind

I don't get all the hate for it. Pretty underrated. I couldn't help but grin when they were remaking movies like Ghostbusters and Rush Hour 2, movies that I grew up with. It's kinda like a tribute to movies. The ending is heartwarming and meaningful. Very good.

Gone Baby Gone

This is an AWESOME movie. The acting is great, the best performance being Ed Harris. Casey Affleck is well cast in the lead, and Morgan Freeman and Michelle Monaghan do well also. There are SO many twists and turns in this, if you're looking for a fantastic drama thriller, look no further.

Pleasantville

Well acted, and visually original, but the things that make Pleasantville stand out are its themes. That nothing is supposed to be "right" or "modeled" and that even though we're afraid of changes, we should embrace them.

Tropic Thunder
½

Such a funny and original movie, it's a great tribute to film-making and Vietnam. The best performance coming from Downey Jr., he plays an Australian actor who plays a black guy. The funniest dialogue is hands down from Jack Black. The way he spits out all the curse words couldn't be done by anyone else. I particularly LOVED Tom Cruise's role. So hilarious.

Reservoir Dogs
½

Plenty of yelling, arguing, gunshots, and murder, it's as thrilling as it is entertaining.

Raging Bull
Raging Bull(1980)

While the acting and fight scenes are great, it's still another overrated Martin Scorsese film.

Collapse
Collapse(2009)
½

For a documentary, this is very good. Very informative and pretty interesting. Normally I don't like documentaries but this one really got my attention.

The Deer Hunter
½

Amazing performances from Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken. The only problem is how overlong it is. I spotted at least 40 minutes of material that could have easily been cut out.

Into the Wild

Insanely good. Deep meaning, moving, and emotional this is one of the best true stories I've ever known.

Rango
Rango(2011)
½

Insanely good animation quality, probably the very best out there. The detail on just about everything is insane. You can tell a lot of work went into the making of this movie. The voice acting is fantastic, it's funny, and is appealing to the eye. Oh by the way, the soundtrack and original score are both awesome.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Sadly, a disappointment. It's not even close to being as good as the first, and I think it's slightly worse than the second. While it looks great visually, I still felt like I've seen the exact same action in the 2nd movie. This one is less funny and the dialogue is so stupid.

Schindler's List
½

Very good story, but WAY too long. Could have easily cut an hour out making it a still lengthy 2 hours and 20 minutes.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
½

A cool style and the performances are great. Entertaining all the way through.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

A masterpiece. A legend. One of the most moving and powerful endings a movie has ever had. Probably the best in the trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Insanely good. The Battle of Helm's Deep is so epic and grand in scale. The monologue that Sam gives at the end is amazing.

The American
The American(2010)

Really didn't make any sense. Boring. The action was good, but there was so little of it. A huge disappointment, especially from George Clooney because of his lame performance.

Rubber
Rubber(2011)

Eh. Starts off interesting but gets stupid later on.

Hunger
Hunger(2009)
½

A dark portrayal of what it's like to starve to death. Too bad the entire movie is muddled with ridiculously incomprehensive British babbling.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Fantastic. Unique and spellbinding, the fist of the trilogy kicks off what would be a new era of nerd cult and fantasy. It's just a classic movie, along with its successors.

The Waterboy
The Waterboy(1998)

Dumb, classic, Adam Sandler fun.

The Guardian
The Guardian(2006)

Highly entertaining. Watching the development of the two main characters is unique and the rescue scenes are intense. Just a little too long.

Brothers
Brothers(2009)

The acting, especially Tobey Maguire's, is exceptional. Great plot and the ending is so intense.

Contact
Contact(1997)

A beautiful vision of what it would be like to contact extraterrestrial life.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
½

It's just not as good or funny as the original. The absence of the character Vanessa doesn't help either.

Austin Powers in Goldmember

A huge improvement over the 2nd. Plenty of laugh out loud moments. Very good. It's not better than the 1st, but I'd say just as good or at least almost as good.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Irresistibly funny, original, and entertaining.

Following
Following(1999)

Meh. I wasn't crazy about it. The concept is kinda cool, but overall the lack of color and difficulty with comprehending what the actors are trying to say due to heavy British accents detracts from the experience. However, I was impressed by what one of the characters said. His reason for robbing homes was not only for the money but to take away possessions so people could realize how important they actually were. But other than that, it just didn't do anything for me.

The Prestige
The Prestige(2006)

A near masterpiece, directed by one of my favorite directors Christopher Nolan. Hugh Jackman is great, Christian Bale is amazing as usual, Scarlett is amazingly hot as usual, and the plot of The Prestige will keep you guessing throughout.

Quarantine
Quarantine(2008)

Goes above and beyond the regular formula of horror movies and puts a weird but entertaining concept into the new "hand cam" style.

Battle: Los Angeles

Very entertaining. Plenty of action, and surprisingly emotional.

True Grit
True Grit(2010)

The depth of the characters and the way they are acted will draw you in. The cinematography really is amazing, especially at the end. The last half hour is the best part of the movie, in nearly every way. The second best movie from the Coen brothers, behind No Country For Old Men.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
½

Not nearly as good as the original trilogy. The absence of Will and Elizabeth Turner and the fact that there were no ship battles or cannons fired are the ultimate reasons why this wasn't as good as the others. Other than that, it was entertaining, the 3D was pretty good, Johnny Depp was hilarious, and Penelope Cruz was hot.

Body of Lies
Body of Lies(2008)

It's not nearly as good as other Middle Eastern war movies like The Hurt Locker or The Kingdom. DiCaprio is great, but I was a little disappointed with Russell Crowe's general role. I was really expecting something better. It actually was thrilling, but the problem is all of the names that were mentioned, I couldn't keep track of them. The story was a fast paced mess. The first hour and a half was pretty bad but the last half hour picked up my comprehension and was a fitting finale to a movie like this. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between DiCaprio's character and the nurse he meets. Other than that, it's an okay movie.

The Big Lebowski

Cool style with great dialogue and great acting. It's cool, like The Dude himself.

Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction(1994)

A Royale With Cheese. Amazing acting, amazing plot, amazing style, amazing cast, and one of the most intense scenes in movie history (the scene where John Travolta revives an O.D.'d Uma Thurman).

The Green Hornet
½

Really fun to watch. The first hour is great which introduces the characters and has plenty of great wit and humor. Unfortunately, the last hour isn't nearly as funny or entertaining as the first.

Napoleon Dynamite

It's amazing. Hilarious. Original. A classic. What else is there to say?

Nowhere Boy
Nowhere Boy(2010)

Incredible acting and an incredible story. Very sad. Very good movie.

Wanted
Wanted(2008)

So entertaining with over the top action and style, time flies when watching it.

The Aviator
The Aviator(2004)

Feels nothing like the director's typical movie style, which in my opinion is a breath of fresh air. Leonardo DiCaprio does a fantastic job of portraying Howard Hughes and is the defining performance of his career. Think of it as Forrest Gump or Benjamin Button without the fiction and without the comedy.

Step Brothers

A true comedy classic with countless memorable one-liners and one of the best collaborations I've seen in film. I don't know how anyone can not like this.

The Human Experience
½

When they say The Human Experience, they aren't kidding. This isn't a movie as much as it is an experience, which everyone should see. From living on the cold streets of New York to journeying through the mountains of Africa, this is an important movie that teaches you to appreciate your family, your home, and your health. The main character mentions "As long as you have both of your parents loving you, that's all you really need." That line defined the true message of the movie for me.

Easy A
Easy A(2010)

Entertaining and funny to watch. But there are a couple annoying and cheesy lines.

Cry Wolf
Cry Wolf(2005)
½

A decent slasher flick.

The Kingdom
The Kingdom(2007)

A rich narrative supported by a great cast. The last half hour being clearly the highlight of the movie with an intense final gunfight for justice was amazing and gripping to watch. Very sad ending. Highly recommended.

Monsters
Monsters(2010)
½

A monster movie that's not mainly about monsters but the development of the characters. Thought provoking ending. Excellent.

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

It's interesting to see the Holocaust from a kid's point of view, and the ending is brutal. The element that make good movies "great" is the level of entertainment, and unfortunately, this movie doesn't have a very high quantity of it.

The Hurt Locker

Absolutely amazing. Nearly flawless, possibly perfect. Even though it seems like a compilation of random events involving bombs in Iraq, there's much more to it than that. The acting is too good and seems extremely realistic.

Black Hawk Down

The most action in one movie I've ever seen. Crazy, realistic, and amazing.

Identity
Identity(2003)
½

An ultimately unsatisfying psychological- thriller- wannabe.

Little Fockers

A great, underrated comedy.

Nothing but Trouble
½

Yeah, its stupid, but its entertaining and fun enough to watch.

Lost In Translation

So good. Perfectly casted actors. Bill Murray's performance is great, he pulls off a middle aged midlife crisis movie star without seeming too creepy while around a younger Scarlett Johansson. She's great with keeping her feelings about him at a low while around him, even though she likes him a lot. Great performances. The movie is strictly about strangers in a strange land and their relationship, and that's what makes it so good, I think.

Rescue Dawn
Rescue Dawn(2007)

AMAZING. The ending was so emotional. Great acting from just about everyone. Very realistic and brutal. Just see it. The 2nd best survival movie I've seen, behind 127 Hours.

Saw VI
Saw VI(2009)
½

One of the worst in the franchise, but it's still Saw which is filled with plenty of horror and gore.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

A good introduction to what will be an epic finale.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Definitely not one of the best in the series, but still good.

Orphan
Orphan(2009)
½

Entertaining and suspenseful, but it does nothing new or groundbreaking in terms of filming or storytelling.

Slumdog Millionaire

Extremely entertaining and filmed so well by the amazing director Danny Boyle. Not as good as his 127 Hours, but still very very good.

The Kids Are All Right

Funny and smart with the best performance coming from Mark Ruffalo. That being said, where was his character at the end? I would've liked a little more involvement and importance for him in the end. But overall, I liked it.

American Psycho
½

The best part of this movie is Christian Bale's haunting performance as a psychopathic serial killer. The plot is pretty generic and the ending is just meh. If your looking for great acting, then I'd recommend it. But if your looking for a good story and you don't care about acting, steer clear.

The King's Speech
½

Colin Firth gives the best lead performance of the year. Geoffrey Rush was great too. Unfortunately, the plot simply isn't enough to warrant the Best Picture Academy Award when you have movies like 127 Hours and Black Swan competing with it.

Blood Diamond

I think it's very underrated. Highly entertaining and realistic with an amazing performance from Leonardo DiCaprio and an even better one by Djimon Hounsou.

Full Metal Jacket
½

Amazing performances. Too bad you won't remember the 2nd half.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Very good, but very confusing. The format kinda reminds me of Memento, with the scenes in a messed up order, unchronologically. But good performances and a cool concept.

Land of the Dead

SO stupid. The worst zombie movie I've ever seen. In fact, it's one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

School of Rock

So entertaining, how can you not like it?

Misery
Misery(1990)
½

A great movie. James Caan's facial expressions are occasionally hilarious, and his acting is great as well as Kathy Bates.

The Fighter
The Fighter(2010)

The acting is SO good, some of the best I've seen all year. Very entertaining and pretty emotional. Only flaw is predictability, so I'd really give it a 4.75. Other than that, it's an amazing movie.

Beowulf
Beowulf(2007)

A good tale with great animation and an all-star cast.

The Machinist
½

Pretty cool. Very dark and bleak, psychologically troubling, and a good performance from Christian Bale. It's like a movie that Christopher Nolan would have made.

Pan's Labyrinth

A classic fairy tale told beautifully, realistically, and graphically through the vision of Guillermo del Toro. Too bad it's in Spanish with no English option.

The Other Guys
½

I really liked it, funny too. I loved the appearance of Fair Lawn.

The Fountain
The Fountain(2006)
½

It has all the components to be a great movie. It has good acting, it's filmed well, it has a good looking style... too bad the plot makes no sense.

Garden State
Garden State(2004)

Starring Zach Braff (who is also the director and writer) is extremely successful with creating some interesting characters and acting as one. Andrew Largeman is a heavily medicated young man with a few problems. He eventually meets Samantha, a young girl who he comes to know and love. Natalie Portman manages to pull off a rather tough job of portraying a bubbly and comical person without being annoying, which was impressive. This movie falls into so many genres making it accessible to virtually everyone. Unique, stylish, and extravagant, Garden State prevails in every way possible. I couldn't recommend it more.

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

Amazing story and acting. Russell Crowe plays a notorious outlaw Ben Wade who is dangerous and intelligent. Almost everything he says is interesting and unique. For example, when a man threatens to find and kill him, he responds "I'd be disappointed if you didn't." Genius. Christian Bale does well as Dan Evans, a poor farmer who is on the verge of being evicted from his ranch. He has a wife and 2 boys to look after. One of the boys is sick and the other is disappointed with his life and his father in general. The ending is utterly unique, entertaining, fitting, and exceptional. There are a few intense action scenes, and they are realistic, bloody, and gritty. The main highlight of this movie is Crowe's amazing character and the way he projects him onto the screen. You don't have to like westerns to like this movie, which comes highly recommended.

Source Code
Source Code(2011)
½

It was great. Very original ideas and concept, some good acting and some irritating acting. Good from Gyllenhaal and Farmiga, but not so good from Monaghan and Wright. I don't think the ending was properly concluded, it was a little too extended, with the last few minutes being unnecessary and also making it too predictable and too happy. While the ending was a little predictable in terms of happy or sad, there were some really cool twists. I like how the running time is kept at a solid 1 hour and 34 minutes. Just enough time to explain everything and properly provide a thoroughly entertaining science fiction work.

Heat
Heat(1995)

A movie that starts out boring and ends up being one of the most intense movies you could ever see with so much meaning. The acting is amazing, not that I expected anything less from Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, a dynamic duo that spark while on screen together. Directed by Michael Mann, one of his best qualities as a director are getting gunfights as accurate as they could possibly be. Cops and criminals use covering fire and the gunshots sound authentic as the bang of the gunshots echo throughout downtown Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it's not perfect. A rather lengthy running time of 2 hrs. 50 minutes and a scene or 2 being rather unnecessary. But the good things about this movie HIGHLY outweigh the bad, reasoning for the 5/5. The ending of the movie reminded me of the ending of Collateral (also directed by Mann) with a completely silent showdown between two opposing forces.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)

IMAX 3D is the only way to go. Amazing soundtrack, amazing style, amazing special effects, and great 3D. Unfortunately, the story lacks a message or theme which is a requirement for an "amazing movie." This is one of those blockbusters that everyone saw and loved but became hated by critics.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The most underrated Harry Potter has the best finale (so far). The most emotion, and simply epic.

Rampage
Rampage(2009)
½

You won't know what to think, you're jaw will be dropped the whole time. Directed by Uwe Boll, known for making horrible movies, actually makes a pretty damn good movie. It seems like mindless violence, but it's actually not. And this random guy, Brendan Fletcher who plays the protagonist (or antagonist? I honestly don't even know), who I've never even heard of does a surprisingly great job with his role. It's not like the script is particularly smart, but then again, a film like this hasn't really been done before, so it's pretty original.

Sin City
Sin City(2005)

The best comic book movie adaptation, ever. The style of keeping most things in black and white is not only original but fitting for this kind of movie. When certain objects/people are shown in color, the color bleeds through the screen, making viewers truly appreciate something we often take for granted. Bruce Willis is cast perfectly in one of the main roles and there simply isn't a better pick for Mickey Rourke to play as Marv. To top it all off, Jessica Alba's overwhelmingly hot presence makes this movie a masterpiece.

The Shawshank Redemption

Gritty prison life in New England can be entertaining and inspiring. From the director of The Green Mile, the quality of the acting, filming, and plot all reflect it. A perfect masterpiece.

The Green Mile

So entertaining, you'll forget the fact that it's 3 hours. Excellent performances by Tom Hanks and Michale Clarke Duncan. You will feel the emotion that everyone is feeling, and the ending is not only amazing, but emotionally ravaging.

No Country for Old Men

Has a deeper meaning than meets the eye and the fact that the Coen Brother's used no music in the most pulse pounding scenes made it so much more tense. One of my all time favorite movies.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Arguably my favorite movie of all time. It's the only musical I have ever liked. The plot captured my attention from the second I saw the trailer, and the singing is exceptionally great. What makes it so original is the fact that the ending isn't a typically happy one. Gritty, bloody, and violent, what's not to love in Tim Burton's masterpiece, Sweeney Todd?

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

No, it's not the best Toy Story, and no, it's not perfect, but damn near it. I had one of the most emotional connections to the ending unlike any other movie. If Toy Story was in any way a part of your childhood, you owe it to yourself and the filmmakers to see the grand finale.

Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver(1976)

So overrated, and it all pretty much seems meaningless, but the protagonist's sacrifice for a random prostitute is pretty heroic.

Apocalypse Now
½

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

Such a hard movie to review. I watched the Redux version which is basically an extended version. The original 2.5 hours is already lengthy, let alone the 3 hour and 15 minute "Redux" extended edition. So yes, the Redux is overly long and I would probably recommend watching the original version first, a mistake I think I made. Anyway, the acting is EXCELLENT, the plot is pretty cool, and there are some really memorable quotes (i.e. "The horror... the horror..."). Even though the ending is kinda predictable, the way it happens is presented and filmed so perfectly that very few directors could pull it off. Marlon Brando's character is a haunting and intelligent one, and seeing the things he does is good enough to warrant the viewing. Martin Sheen does pretty good with his lead role as Captain Willard, but more notably Robert Duvall's role and acting are truly something to behold. The 4.5 stars goes to the Redux edition, only for being too long with some rather unnecessary scenes, but I'm sure the original cut would be an easy 5.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)

An instant 5/5. A near perfect movie. The only potential problem is that if you're not particularly mature, like me, 1 or 2 scenes will be unintentionally funny. This isn't necessarily a flaw, but it may be a problem for some... there are several scenes in the movie that are ridiculously sexual, so whatever you do, do NOT watch it with your parents. But other than that, Natalie Portman's acting mixed with the overly good plot and ending makes for one of the absolute best movies of 2010, right behind 127 Hours.

The Mist
The Mist(2007)
½

Such a great B-movie, (the acting is what dubs it as a B-movie). The plot is pretty original and there are some pretty emotional scenes. The movie shows what kind of things people are willing to do in a state of desperation, like follow a hyper religious psychopath who is willing to "sacrifice" innocent people. The ending is also noteworthy of being original, shocking, and depressing.

Memento
Memento(2000)
½

One of the most originally presented ideas in the history of filmmaking, and great acting. I can't get over how original it is. Unfortunately, it's flawed. The only thing holding be back from giving it a 5/5 is the hard to understand ending.

Bruce Almighty

The scene where Jim Carrey takes control of Steve Carell during a live broadcast remains the funniest scene in a comedy, ever.

The Lovely Bones
½

Surprisingly good, and extremely entertaining. Stanley Tucci pulls off one of the best performances of the year and portrays a murdering psychopath in a virtually perfect way. Obnoxiously great visuals, incredible style, and one hell of a vision that Peter Jackson had, Lovely Bones prevails.

The Book of Eli

The most underrated movie of the decade, Book of Eli has some seriously amazing cinematography and acting ESPECIALLY by Gary Oldman. The religious bonds that tie the move together are just captivating. Panoramic by Atticus Ross is one of the best themes you will ever hear. This will always be floating around somewhere in my favorite movie list.

Walkabout
Walkabout(1971)

Slow at times and the older boy's behavior becomes weird and unexplainable at the end, but it's a good survival tale and shows how even in bad times, good things can come out of them. Although, the young brother is not supposed to understand the dire situation that him and his older sister share, the older sister never seems to reflect emotionally or realistically on their rather unfortunate situation. I've never seen a film with this kind of setting or filming style, but that's probably because it's from the early 70's. Back then it was probably a masterpiece. I'm not saying Walkabout is a bad film, it's pretty good actually. Just dated.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
½

A highly original concept, a pretty good performance from Brad Pitt, and a plot good enough to keep you interested for 2.5+ hours.

Kill Bill: Volume 2

More emotional drama compensates for the lack of action scenes compared to the 1st, just as good if not better than its primary counterpart.

Kill Bill: Volume 1

Honestly, why wouldn't you love Kill Bill?

Hereafter
Hereafter(2010)

One of the most underrated films ever, Hereafter delivers great performances and an original plot. At first, the ending seems confusing and unfitting, but it makes sense and any other ending would have been awkward.

Shaun of the Dead

A masterpiece in British comedy, awesome cast and hilarious lines. Classic.

Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz(2007)
½

Definitive British comedy. A must see, but not as good as Shaun of the Dead.

Big Fish
Big Fish(2003)

Like Forrest Gump or Benjamin Button but with a fantasy style. Amazing movie, one of my favorites.

Apocalypto
Apocalypto(2006)

Underrated amazingness. The Mayan culture seemed as strange as it did for me as it did for the captives. One of my personal favorites.

Requiem for a Dream

Incredible acting all around, great plot, and a epically meaningful ending. Remarkable directing and editing. If only it got the attention it deserved.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)

A great cinematic experience. The IMAX was amazing, 3D was amazing, the action was amazing, just an incredible experience all around. A must see for everyone. Even though I loved it, it doesn't deserve to be the highest grossing movie of all time.

Saving Private Ryan

Arguably the best war movie ever.

Rush Hour 2
Rush Hour 2(2001)
½

Funny as hell. Not as good or original as the 1st, obviously, but still really good.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
½

With a running time of 2 hours and 40 minutes, its a little slow at times, but stylish, informative, and entertaining.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
½

A disgrace to the movie industry, Prince of Persia simply can't be taken seriously with it's stupid dialogue and unintentional hilarity.

District 9
District 9(2009)

One of the best science fiction movies. Ever.

Cloverfield
Cloverfield(2008)

The way it was filmed was revolutionary, in my opinion. After the release, there were just so many movies with hand cam filming. Seeing the monster destroy New York is satisfyingly entertaining, and the very short 1 hour 20 minute run time will seem like forever. And that's a good thing. I forgot that I was watching a movie. Great ending, great acting, and especially great filming. A science fiction masterpiece.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

One of my all time favorite horror movies. Although mostly not a true story, you'll forget about it and focus on the survival of the characters who are running from the most disturbed people ever.

House of Flying Daggers
½

While the art style exceeded my expectations, the plot seems a little cliche. Good performances.

The One
The One(2001)

Terrible. The action was alright, but the extremely cheesy story, dialogue and music overpowers any hope that this movie ever had.

World Trade Center

Inspiring and entertaining, the true story of 2 cops on 9/11 will put you in several different moods throughout.

Capitalism: A Love Story

I completely agree with Moore's point, but as a movie, it stumbles over it's own feet and fails to be entertaining.

The Last Samurai
½

One of Tom Cruise's best.

Bruno
Bruno(2009)
½

No, it's not as funny as Borat, but it does have a few good laughs and provides an entertaining narrative and funny dialogue.

Saw 3D
Saw 3D(2010)
½

1. The most underrated Saw film.
2. One of the best Saw films.
My final order, from best to worst: 2,1,7,5,3,6,4.

Winter's Bone
½

The acting is just so good, especially by John Hawkes. The setting is so amazing because I never knew places like that existed in the U.S. (it's a real place). Unfortunately, several plot holes hold the film backing from being amazing.

Monster's Ball

Sure, it's incredibly depressing, but incredible performances from all 3 main characters, several twists, and a captivating plot, the film is exceptional.

Dinner for Schmucks

Some incredibly funny moments, Schmucks packs several laughs and surprisingly a good message. Unfortunately, dialogue and characters are a little cliche.

Salt
Salt(2010)

Great action covers what is largely a plot holed story.