Anthony Lewis's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Jurassic World

Most of the time thinking about Jurassic World prior to seeing it circled around whether or not this would be the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th best film in the franchise because Jurassic World was obviously never going to touch the magic of the first film.

I suppose at the end of the day Jurassic World from start to finish is the 2nd best film in the franchise but some of the ideas presented in the film just further sent home my feelings that the first film was (as a film) a one off story that they could never top. While there is nothing so grandiose as the T-Rex in San Diego scene from JP2 or the the absolutely convoluted series of events that led to JP3 in this film there are still things that make me shake my head.

Jurassic World does go out of it's way to answer questions about all the scientific inaccuracies on more than one occasion and all of the answers do in fact hearken to what Jurassic Park has kind of always been about.....corporate greed. What will sell the best? What gives us the most profit? Everything else be damned.....and then eventually everything crumbles because of the greed and hubris. Jurassic World is really no different. However in some ways this film almost felt like a remake. You got Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) effectively playing the parts of Dr. Grant and Dr. Statler from the first film. You've got the two kids who are related to someone of power at the park, one of which is also super hyper and loves dinosaurs, and who also get stuck in a small vehicle with a T-Rex type creature trying to get at them. Heck you've even got a stand in for John Hammond running the whole thing. I don't mind call backs (and there were a few great call backs) but in places I think they went a little overboard.

You will also see people saying the villain of the piece is the Indominus Rex which is a genetically created Dino that is being used to create some fresh buzz for the park. But ultimately the I-Rex is just doing what instinct is telling it to do. The villains are really corporations and to a lesser extent Vincent D'Onofrio's character of Hoskins who wants to turn dinosaurs in the weapons for the US military.......and yeah it's as stupid as it sounds.

If you cast some of that to the side it's clear that Colin Trevorrow has an affinity for the first film and Speilberg's work. Large parts of the movie work for me as a fun popcorn movie. There are several great action pieces that are phenomenal and match right up there with some of the coolest visuals in any of the films.
All in all Jurassic World is a great theme park ride that is solid from start to finish. And even though it lacked any truly memorable characters or lines it managed to hold together better than any of its sequel brethren.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

With the hype at an all time high Joss Whedon and Marvel had to deliver big time. Judging by my score I think that you think I'm going to say that it did. Maybe it did, but I can certainly see where it didn't.

For me this movie delivered. It gave me exactly what I wanted but I most certainly heard a lot of confused chatter at the end of the film from casual movie goers. Perhaps the complex tale that Marvel is weaving might be starting to overwhelm some of its audience. I heard more than a few people who were either underwhelmed by the final or scene or outright confused about what direction they were going in next. If the box office is to be believed from the onset there already appears to be a teeny tiny drop off. Maybe its possible that things could be finally starting to wear on the unstoppable juggernaut that has been Marvel Studios.

Let's forget the doom and gloom and lets talk about a truly great superhero movie. As I said, Age of Ultron met my high expectations it did what the first film did and topped it. Not only that it added deeper character elements that were missing from the first. They bravely spit right in the eye of everyone who naysayed Jeremy Renner's "Hawkeye" by making him a figure point in this film. Often times he is the glue that holds the team together and is involved in several crucial moments.

When I say that Age Of Ultron topped the first movie I mean it. The scope is almost too much to handle. The film is a roller coaster ride with EPIC lengthy battles sandwiching really good "people in a room talking things out" moments. There are a bevy of cameos from other Marvel films and a few really great debuts as well. There are also a LOT of dropped hints pertaining to future Marvel films as well.

No one real performance stands out except for James Spader as Ultron. From the few out of context scenes I saw I wasn't overly impressed but seeing it all come together on screen was a thing to behold. Spader handled menacing about as well as anyone plus walked a tight rope balancing lunacy and the whit of his creator Tony Stark.

If people are having a hard time following things though Age Of Ultron only makes it worse. A lot of seeds have been planted for the future and unless you have your scorecard handy it might be tough to follow them all. This isn't going to be a problem for me but I can see it becoming an issue for others considering the sheer amount of Marvel films being released between now and the next Avengers film.

Ultimately if you are a Marvel super fan and you have been following along since the start you will find nothing but happiness in Age Of Ultron. If you are not then you will still likely have a good time even if you have no idea what is going on. At the end of the day even without context Joss Whedon and company still put on a tremendous show that will keep your eyes glued to screen for 2 and a half hours.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

If you are a DC comics fan that wants to know how it is that Marvel continues to the rake in cash and the critical praise for each and every release it hands the public, then I suggest you start by watching the sequel to "Captain America: The First Avenger". While it is definitely not the best best jumping off point for someone who wants to dip their toes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe "The Winter Solider" will show you exactly why Marvel has been so successful.

For Marvel's first phase of films (that culminated with The Avengers) they made a series of straight up blockbuster superhero origin stories. But now that Marvel has moved into Phase II they are just turning out movies that are solely in the same vein as the others that came before.

Captain America: The Winter Solider is a superhero film, but it is also equal parts espionage thriller. Marvel is starting to bend genres around their superhero films and they are doing it to GREAT effect.

Since waking up in the present Steve Rogers (Captain America) has had a bad feeling about working with Nick Fury and SHIELD, and while the events in this movie prove Cap right, they are also led down a path that even Fury himself didn't see before it was too late. It all comes to a head when Cap realizes than an old enemy is still lurking in the shadows and when he faces off with the Winter Solider as well (Sebastian Stan).

As always Marvel mixes together a perfect blend of seriousness with levity, and with all due respect to The Avengers.....The Winter Soldier might be one of the coolest thrill ride actions movies EVER. From the fights, to the car chases, and the explosions...everything was paced out perfectly and were just visually stunning.

Cap isn't alone either. We get to know Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) a lot more, and we even get to see some character development for Sam Jackson's Nick Fury. Anthony Mackie joins the superhero squad as Falcon and even though he i a little too sidekick-ish at points he is super charming and lends a lot of humor to the proceedings along with kicking some ass.

The story shakes the MCU to it's core and will also rapidly transform the ABC show Agents of SHIELD so in the cannon of this movie universe it will have last repercussions, but even if you forget all of that Captain America: The Winter Solider is a very good movie standing all on its own and maybe the best Marvel movie to date. It's going to take another watch or two before I can rank it in there with the first Iron Man or The Avengers but The Winter Solider is most definitely a high point for Marvel Studios!


One things for sure about Kevin Smith's "Tusk"....... You can't place this movie into a box and just label it. I mean.....sure you can call it a horror movie but I'm talking about classifying the experience of watching it as a film.

Basically before you even form an opinion about Tusk you need to fall into one of two groups. The people who like and listen to Smodcast and the people who do not. After that of course the opinions will explode in a variety of directions but making sense of this movie will be much easier for fans of the show (which of course doesn't mean they have to like it). You see Tusk was born from Kevin and Scott Mosier BS'ing around on their podcast musing over a fake news story which they turned into a loose horror story narrative. Kevin decided to turn it into a movie.

The is about Wallace Bryton who is a podcaster himself. He travels to Canada to interview a strange man named Howard Howe (Michael Parks). Howe turns out to be a lunatic with notions of actually turning Wallace (Justin Long) into a Walrus. His friends played by Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez come to rescue him and along the way they meet up with a bounty hunter of sorts played by Johnny Depp.

There are no two ways about it. Tusk is a really strange movie and about 96% is just the premise. You see (at least for me) Tusk wasn't really that messed up (I think Kevin was looking for a movie to that effect). While there are some unnerving moments and a couple of really creepy ones the film was largely benign. Parks steals the show like he did in Red State but with similar results to the overall film.

Because of how uneven things can be at times it's hard to figure out exactly what kind of vibe Smith is going for. At times it is overly silly during moments that seem like they should be more intense, but I suppose at the end this is the kind of movie you end up just goofing around with your friends. I know I've had a premise or two in my time that sounded hilarious when talking about it but making a living breathing thing is another story. I'm Kevin a lot of credit in that regard it is obviously a crazy departure from the norm for him and even several long jumps away from Red State.

I'd say watch it for the creepy performance by Michel Parks and for just how wacky Johnny Depp chose to play his character. Also bonus points to Justin Long for getting into to that rubber on a semi-regular basis. The effects look cheesy but in that lovingly B-movie kind of way. In some ways Tusk in a shout out to those kinds of films but sadly it's about as good as one and I think Smith has better story telling left in him somewhere.

Ultimately Tusk was a lot of fun to watch but it doesn't strike me as something I'm going to add to my Blu-Ray collection anytime soon.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

A lot of movie fans could make an argument to me that this film deserves a lot lower rating than I am giving it, most of those argument would probably center around the fact that Michael Bay is involved with it. It's not like there is absolutely no merit to that argument because there is, but I also tried to wipe away nostalgia, take a step back, and I tried to examine this for what is was......a movie (like the Transformers) designed to sell merch and appeal to the lowest common denominator. And you know what? That isn't always a bad thing....

Now I'm sure I'm going to take a lot of flack for this but that is all the original cartoons and movies were designed to do as well. If wanted some kind of substantial story with interesting characters then that show and those movies aren't very good either. I really liked them as a kid but my tastes evolved over time and that song and dance just doesn't work the way it use to.

I am in rare company though as I actually enjoyed Director Jonathan Liebesman's last effort "Battle: LA". If there is one thing that irked me the most about this incarnation of TMNT it's that (either on purpose or by accident) this movie has Bay's hand prints all over it and it doesn't feel like Liebesman's work. Maybe that's why he gets so irked when people try talk to him about this movie.

As you might have guessed (as this is a reboot after all) they have significantly changed the turtles origin and they did it for the worse. Most of the other changes I found to be acceptable (yes even robot Shredder).

Despite disliking the look of the turtles I should not that from a clinical standpoint they look very well done and Leo and Raph do not come off nearly as bad as Donny and Mikey do. I should also note, that while proficiently done I didn't care for how they designed Splinter either. None of the character looks were really appealing to the eye.

The banter between the turtles was always the highlights of the previous films and this installment proved to be the same although there were plenty of cringe worthy lines as well. All of the turtles of course get character trait moments. Donny does something nerdy, Mikey tells some kind of joke, Raph does something rebellious, and Leo does something leader-ishly. Of course they never really stray from those lines which (for me anyway) kind of makes them boring.

As one would expect Megan Fox did a fairly acceptable job of playing April O'Neil....wait....what? That's right....FAIRLY ACCEPTABLE!!! She most definitely has some Megan Fox moments for sure, but she was largely just there......which far exceeded the low bar I had put in place for this movie. I should also note that Will Arnett has earned the Cinema Geekly 2014 award for most Ham-Fisted line in a feature film. Congratulations!

The action was largely good and easy to follow, I just never found myself interested in them nor did I really find anything in those scenes that really caught my eye but after having just seen Guardians of the Galaxy I suppose it isn't fair to the turtles.

I can't be too mad at this movie. It mostly did what it set out to do. Appeal to kids, sell merch, sell tickets, provide nostalgia, and sneak in a some pizza product placement. Ultimately the best things I can say about a TMNT movie in 2014 that featured Michael Bay's involvement is this: It was an hour and a half long and there weren't any heavily racist or over sexualized characters in it, so kudos TMNT......kudos...

Guardians of the Galaxy

After all of the trepidation surrounding Marvel Studio's "Guardians of the Galaxy" it would be understandable to expect a movie that would have played it safe but James Gunn and crew did anything but. They settled for nothing less than trying to recreate a Star Wars for this generation of movie goers and they succeeded in spades.

GotG doesn't require any previous knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be enjoyed and there aren't really any references to them. This movie served to open up the flood gate to the larger Marvel universe and while no prior knowledge is needed to enjoy Guardians several key elements were put in place leading to much larger things going forward.

GotG follows Peter Quill who was abducted from Earth by aliens looking to deliver him as cargo to an unknown party but the leader of these space pirates has a soft spot in his heart for Quill and he becomes one of them and starts calling himself Star-Lord. Quill goes looking for a mysterious orb hoping to cash it in, and obviously others are looking for it as well the majority of them end up in a prison cell with Quill. They bond over the thoughts of becoming rich selling the orb to the highest bidder. Of course they learn the terrible truth behind the object and when it falls into the wrong hands they have to ban together fighting a common enemy and along the way they become heroes.

I've found it difficult to grasp the totality of what James Gunn has managed to here and on two different fronts. Where as Iron Man wasn't exactly a household name when the firs RDJ movie was released some years ago the stumbling block was bigger here. You had an obscure comic book (even to some avid comic readers) AND you had to deal with an ensemble cast and you have to make them all work. Star Trek has a long history, The Avengers had all of the previous Marvel movies, and Guardians had none of that an ensemble cast with almost no history to the general audience and Gunn nailed it. NAILED......IT!

The other aspect that just blew my mind was how brilliantly balanced the whole movie was. Almost from the very beginning Gunn was able to weave in and out of heart wrenching drama, to laugh out loud silliness, and then dive right into a action spectacle of grand proportions. It is so difficult to nail down such a diverse combination of scenes and have them play out. Guardians of the Galaxy does this flawlessly.

Obviously none of that comes together without a great script and great performances and GotG delivers on both ends. It comes as no surprise to me that Chris Pratt would deliver the goods and I've been on his bandwagon since seeing Moneyball and his performance completely gave off a Han Solo/Indiana Jones mixed with some Marty McFly kind of vibe and yeah Pratt is going to be a HUGE star. Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel really carry the movie as Rocket and Groot. They stayed very true to the characters and provided a couple of the scenes that carried the most weight dramatically and we're talking about a Raccoon and a walking tree here people! Dave Bautista was the biggest surprise for me. He stole almost every scene he was in with great one liner and received maybe the biggest laugh in the screening I went to. We might have cringed at first at the casting choice but what the hell do we know? I will gladly eat crow on this. I don't want to leave out Zoe Saldana who did a very good job as well but the other performances were so much stronger that I found myself more interested in her "sister" Nebula played by Karen Gillan.

Speaking of the villains.... Lee Pace chewed up scenery in this movie at a near Christopher Plummer in Star Trek VI levels and it was fantastic! Yes, Ronan is basically in this movie to look like an unstoppable foe just long enough for our heroes to defeat him but when doing an origin story such is almost always the case. The bad guys have to be paper thin so we can focus on introducing the hero of the story. However Guardians didn't stop there, they also introduced the puppet master behind all of this THE MAD TITAN THANOS! We got a mere glimpse of him at the end of The Avengers but here we get a full look and a good chunk of dialog. So even though we know that Ronan was the speed bump baddie there is still Thanos waiting in the wings.

It's tough to argue that Marvel Studios isn't on a roll right now. They are telling stories that appeal to kids and the kid in everyone else. I'm a die hard Star Trek fan and this was easily more fun for me then anything Trek related in a long time. This made me forget about the terrible new Star wars trilogy (you know what I mean....the old new trilogy). Guardians of the Galaxy melted in everything I love about going to the movies and compressed it in to two hours of maybe the best comic book movie ever made.

The Purge: Anarchy

2013 saw the release of "The Purge" and upon first seeing trailers for it and reading various plot descriptions it seemed like it could be a very high minded concept/horror movie. This had my hopes up as (for me) most horror movies today feel more like murder porn (imagine a world where Michael Bay liked horror more than action) so you've got to either bring a good story(The Conjuring) or flip the genre on its head (The Cabin in the Woods) in order to hold my attention for the entire movie.

As you can guess by now "The Purge" didn't measure up to my high standards. Well to be did make it about 10 minutes or so until the entire ending of the film was given away before things even got going.

So I was a bit trepidatious about checking out the equal as I'm sure you can imagine. However, as has been stated on many an occasion........I am a completionist (and a glutton for punishment). So as my mental disorder dictates I finally got around to watching "The Purge: Anarchy". But I will tell you this right away... I don't regret it. In fact, I had a good time watching the second installment of what will likely be (at the very least) a trilogy.

While this latest film isn't some kind of Oscar contender it did make a lot of promising advancements from the first movie. The first thing they got right was taking the movie outside of a confined space. Things felt so much more dangerous and the suspense was there as well and done much better compared to the first. The second thing they got right was story structure and mainly not GIVING AWAY THE ENTIRE END OF THE MOVIE IN THE FIRST 10 MINUTES! that out of my system now. Everything was well paced by-in-large and while there are a lot of moments you can see coming a mile away they are not nearly as telegraphed as they are in the first.

The Purge: Anarchy like its predecessor attempts to tackle ideas like the the wealth gap, corrupt politicians, suppressing minorities, and the fetishization guns it really only meets these goals about half way. The Purge itself obviously a far flung idea but it does act as a kind of sloppy metaphor for all of those things and the dark places they can take a society to.

Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Warrior) is kind of the lead by default in this movie as none of the other cast really do enough to earn that spot. Grillo plays a kind of vigilante out to avenge the death of his son by a drunk driver who got off on a technicality. However his mission bumps him into four strangers that have each been forced on to the streets with no way to protect himself. As you can guess they all end up either kicking ass, or saving one another, or earning each others respect and friendship. And Grillo's conclusion to the story is done farily well, but there was never much of a reason given for the actions he takes.

"The Purge: Anarchy" also has a bit of a subplot going on with a group of people convinced that the purge is designed to kill off the poor to leave more for the wealthy something that appears to only be the tip of the iceberg as the Government of the United States seems to playing a direct role in what goes on during the purging. If anything it leaves a decent enough of a treat dangling for me to give the third movie a shot (assuming it gets made).

Overall the second purge film manages to outshine the first film in almost every way. It's not perfect, it's not one of the best horror movies ever made, and it's probably not going to be the prize of anybodies movie collection, but for a night out at the movies or for a night in you could do a lot worse, so if the the first movie put you yourself a favor and give the second film a shot.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

It's probably going to sound odd to say that a movie about talking apes that ride horses is Shakespearean but that is exactly the kind of movie that Director Matt Reeves gives us in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

'Dawn' brings us back to the world that was created in Rise of the Planet of the apes except years have now passed and the Simian Flu that began in the first film has wiped out a large swath of humanity, and we in fact spend the majority of our time with the apes who have made a home for themselves in the forests of Southern California. The apes are clearly developing a society at a rudimentary level and talk of not having seen human for a very long time. Of course this all changes when a group of humans goes looking to start an hydro-electric dam in the hopes of giving their small colony some power and perhaps a lifeline to other survivors. Things tend to fall apart from there despite good intentions.

The large chunk of the problems comes from a human named Carver who is basically a stand in for the stereotypical American idiot who blames the apes for what happened instead know....the human scientists that created the drug in the first place. The other issues come from Koba an ape from the first movie who has a distinct hatred for human after all of the testing and torture they put him through.

In a way 'Dawn' is telling a story about being close minded, but the main story is really and truly about Koba and Caesar. And there is where we get our Shakespeare from. Brotherhood and betrayal are on the menu for these two and Toby Kebbell and Andy Serkis deliver a masterful performance. Once again Serkis shows us that even though his true face is hidden behind't.....matter.... The performance shows through, he deserves an award nomination.

Gary Oldman is perhaps the biggest name in the movie, and while he does get one really solid moment in the movie and is otherwise was kind of a waste of Gary Oldman. Jason Clarke filled the James Franco role for this movie playing the level headed human counterpart to Caesar. Franco's character from the first film is actually seen via video camera footage when Caesar returns to his childhood home but no other reference to him is made.

Outside of that the film looks fantastic and the most impressive design elements were easily the apes home village and of course.....the apes themselves. This movie doesn't work is the visual effects don't work and boy do they ever work.

I was blown away by the work that was done in the first film, and I am only further astounded by the second attempt. Of course you get reminded of the fantasy when apes start riding horses, firing guns, or speaking English. But when they are in their natural habitat just looking about you can't really tell the difference between reality and fantasy and that speaks to the artistry of the visual effects team.

All in all this is a huge improvement over a film that I didn't think could be improved upon. The acting, the visuals, the action, and the story all come together to make one of the better science fiction films in a long time.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

For some reason I always feel like I have to pre-state before every Seth MacFarlane review that I utterly dislike Family Guy. So there I said it. I also LOVED his first feature film "Ted" and I thought it was one of the best comedies I had seen in ages (and I still think it's pretty damn great).

So it was a no brainer going forward to watch any of his other big screen projects. Putting that aside for a moment, I was not piqued by the trailers for 'A million ways' when I first saw them, nor was I struck by what they were apparently going for. My first thought was "my God, he is trying to make a modern day Blazing Saddles" but I don't think that is what Seth was really going for here.

A Million Ways to Die in the West is about Albert Stark a lone wuss all alone in a sea of bad ass rugged frontiersmen in the 1800's. I think the movie is suppose to be about just being who you are without giving a crap about what society is suppose to think, either that or it's about Neil Patrick Harris pooping in cowboy hats. I guess that is why I only kind of like 'A million ways'.

There is a lot of hit or miss stuff in this movie and obviously humor is one of the hardest things to pull off to a wide audience. Personally I enjoyed a lot of the old west humor, some of the slap stick, and even a few of the fart jokes scored laughs out of me. The main loser for me was the over the top toilet humor that only Vince McMahon would laugh at (just Google that). The big wins were some awesome cameos including Ryan Reynolds appearing for five seconds with no lines and then being shot to death by Liam Neeson.

MacFarlane and Charlize Theron have some pretty decent chemistry for the most part although I never quite found her or the villain (played by Liam Neeson) to be all that effective. Seth and the gang of minor characters got the vast majority of jokes. The star of that group was easily Neil Patrick Harris who got what now feels like an obligatory song and dance number and while it was well performed ultimately didn't do much for me.

The story kind of wrote itself here and seemed kind of secondary to all of the jokes and set pieces which is something I didn't get from Ted. But A Million Ways to Die in the West had just enough heart and just enough laughs for me to feel satisfied after the credits rolled.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a victory for a franchise that was in desperate need of another strong outing. While 'First Class' did well 'The Wolverine' fell flat for most and DOFP promised to clean up all the mess that really started with X-Men 3.

In some ways DOFP does accomplish this but mainly by ignoring a lot of things all together. For some people that isn't going to be an issue, and for others it will likely annoy them to no end. I find myself kind of in the middle. I was annoyed by a lot of the glossing over but not so much that it ruined my enjoyment of the movie as a whole.

By no means am I a fan of X3 but these movies to purport to be in a continuity with each other and they are utilizing the same cast of characters played by the same cast, so it is bothersome to basically ignore several large looming questions that arise from the other movies.

As for the movie itself, it is well made. Bryan Singer really knows these characters well (as has been shown in both X! and X2) and Days of Future Past is no different. While his expertise lay with the the original cast, the movies spends the vast majority of the time in the 70's with the First Class crew, so if you were to classify a movie like this I would say it is about 85% First Class sequel and about 15% sequel to X3/The Wolverine.

Ultimately the movie serves as a 100% reboot of nearly the entire X-Men franchise. Yes the events of the film radically change the future. Based on what I could gather here is now what remains the same under the new continuity: Any and all flashbacks Logan has had about his life prior to the events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, and all of the events that took place in the past during this film. All non flash back events in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men, X-Men United, X3 The Last Stand, The Wolverine, and all dystopic Sentinel future timeline events have all been erased.

Everyone was fantastic in their roles but as you would expect James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender steal the show and both are absolutely fantastic. Hugh Jackman is also back in rare form as I think Wolverine really does work best when in a group. Jennifer Lawrence does a fine job as Mystique, and Peter Dinklage is very good but it felt like he never had much to do.

Mr. Dinklage wasn't the only one. Even Peters (despite looking ridiculous) as Quicksilver easily stole the show and has the best scene in the movie, which is also annoying. Since his power would likely have made Logan's plan a lot easier to accomplish he was basically forgotten about after that sequence never to be heard from again which means he was in there solely for the "oh man this would look cool" portion of the film. Also joining that club are Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan who really aren't given much to do (proportionally) either which is criminal given their talents. Everyone else does their jobs well.

The movie looks great, the action is paced out well, and the core of the story is strong (again, if you can forgive the outlying parts of the cannon they ignored). Overall Days of Future past is a good movie. If you are heavily invested in the franchise then you might either love it or hate it depending on what you were wanting to get out of it.

But at the end of the day we can all feel a little bit better knowing that if we want to toss our copies of X3 into the trash we won't have to feel so guilty about it now.

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow

I'm not going to lie, the first time I saw a trailer for Edge of Tomorrow I thought it was just ripping off the concept we last saw three years ago in the Duncan Jones film "Source Code" with Jake Gyllenhaal and to be perfectly honest...... Yes, Edge of Tomorrow is just reusing the concept.

Don't let that get you down though. Edge of Tomorrow uses it in a different way. Where Source Code was more of a mystery/quasi-espionage film 'edge' is more of a war film that kind felt like it was wrapped in the genetics of a video game.

The film stars Tom Cruise as a military PR guy who gets thrust on to the battle field because we are fighting against aliens you guys and we are running out of soldiers. Luckily for Cruise he gets killed but not before getting some alien blood on him which alters his DNA in such a way that he just wakes up at the beginning of the day , and this happens every time he gets killed (which is a lot). Ultimately he meets Emily Blunt who plays the well known war hero type and we learn that she too once had this ability, and they will now work together to try and destroy the aliens and win the war.

I have mentioned in other reviews that Tom Cruise basically works on the "Tom Cruise Scale". There is normal Tom (in which his performance ranges from ehhhhhh to every Tom Cruise performance you have ever seen) and there there is Less Grossman Tom from Tropic Thunder (where Tom Cruise very briefly ruled the entire acting world). In Edge of Tomorrow I'd have to say he is in the middle. I don't want to say he was particularly captivating, but I found him to be far more entertaining than usual.

Part of the credit goes to Emily Blunt who he had good chemistry with and she was quite excellent as the bad ass soldier. The movies tries really hard to avoid all of the "they MUST fall in love by the end" tropes an the filmmakers largely manage to make this happen. In fact they stayed away from a lot of that by using some humor, and I'll give them credit where credit is due, they somehow made Tom Cruise dying over and over funny.

With most Directors you are going to get a few misses along with your hits and the same goes for Doug Liman. Yes he directed The Bourne Identity but he also directed JUMPER and therefore it is hard to judge what the Director will produce, but I can say that Edge of Tomorrow fit within his style (which despite the film it is attached to has been a fun one). Edge of Tomorrow is fast paced and a metric ton of action is piled on top, but Liman knows how to layer it in with the story properly, and when it works the movie becomes a lot of fun.

Ultimately Edge of Tomorrow will likely be a forgotten film lost in the midst of much bigger properties but don't let that stop you from checking it out. It might be two hours of popcorn action, but it is done well and that usually makes for a memorable movie going experience!


So lets just get the Pacific Rim mention out of the way real quick. I liked Pacific Rim, this is not like that movie (sans giant monsters) and I can safely say that I liked Godzilla more than PacRim. Obviously there was a lot of talk/wonder/worry about doing two super huge monster movies in a reasonably close together amount of time but that doesn't apply here. Godzilla can get away with it because he is iconic, and the film makers get away with it by making a completely different kind of movie.

The 2014 irradiation of Godzilla felt like a really big love letter to Jurassic Park. Before I take a step further I will point out that the 1998 film was not an ode to Jurassic Park it just ripped off a lot of the scenes from the movie.

No, Godzilla hearkens back to Jurassic Park in a couple of shots but where it really shows is in its pacing. The film makers know that we want to see Godzilla fights a monster and tear down buildings but Gareth Edwards is smart. He knew if he gave us all that right off the bat the movie would go down hill from there. Instead of having to up the ante fight after fight he built to the fights teasing us for over an hour with a story that focused on the Brody family. And even when we finally get to see the fights in all their spectacle and glory Edwards still teases things like Godzilla's atomic breath. The end result is more than satisfying. In a lot of ways it's simple storytelling, build up to something and then pay it off.

Remember how I said we are teased for nearly an hour with the story of the Brody family? That would require a fairly compelling story with a great cast and they pretty much went 50/50 on that aspect of the film. Bryan Cranston is sadly not in the movie for a long time but the screen time he does have is excellent. Few people can convey sadness and anger as well as he can, and everything he says is practically gold. Aaron Taylor-Johnson served up the other half of this story as the older version of Cranston's son. While Taylor is by no means bad, he certainly wasn't very compelling either. As the movie rolls on I liked him a lot more but you have consider there was a whole lot of pretty "pew, pew, boom boom" going on as well.

Visually the movie is spectacular. It is to say the least epic in scale. The monsters were terrifying and well designed, the sheer scope of Godzilla was done so well that it took me some time to actually direct all of my attention back to the goings on. For as well as Pacific Rim captured scope and size Godzilla outdid them ten fold. I can't even imagine what this would look like on an IMAX screen.

While Godzilla isn't perfect, and there are more than a few obvious logic loopholes and otherwise in the plot, it was an absolute blast to watch. The film makers took a concept that I usually am look warm to (disaster porn) and told a decent human story, and made what I was watching feel special and above average, and that is exactly what Godzilla is. A lot of movies in the realm are heaped into a big pile and Godzilla easily stands above all of the.


With the slew of remakes and reboots flooding the gates of Hollywood these days you wouldn't really be surprised to see anything get that kind of treatment. Usually when it does the first question asked tends to be "do we really need another (insert movie here)"? I can happily say with Josť Padilha's reboot of Robocop that the answer is a big fat yes!

Padilha alters certain elements of the 1980's cult classic (and probably to the dismay of a lot of die hard fans) like Robo's partner is now an African American male, they change his origin story as well. The changing of the partner was a minor difference in the grand scheme of things, and the changing of Robocop's origin fit better with the overall theme of the movie.

Where as Robocop in the 80's featured themes about the media, gentrification, corruption, authoritarianism, greed, privatization, capitalism, identity, dystopia, and human nature. The 2014 remake covers a lot of the same ground and in fact has even more meaning today as many of those thematic elements still exist of have worsened since 1987. Furthermore Padhilha's remake touches on drone attacks, removing the human element from work, and privacy (all of which are very hot topics).

So Robocop has the themes locked down. How does it play as a film? To my surprise it easily surpassed the bar I had set for it. Originally this movie was not pre-screened for critics which is usually a bad sign about how well it will be received. But after it's conclusion I found myself excited and eagerly awaiting a sequel (something that the ending leaves plenty of room for).

While it isn't a gory as the original this new incarnation of Robocop packed in a ton of great action scenes, and while it shied away from being overly gory it certainly wasn't your standard "PG Style" action. From a cinematic standpoint everything looked great. The visuals looked solid throughout.

What really hooked me was how much Joel Kinnaman brought to the role of Alex Murphy/Robocop. As Robocop he certainly channeled Peter Weller at times but brought his own thing to it. In fact I feel like he added more humanity to the character and even maybe deepened it a bit more. I was truly caught off guard how real he made such a ridiculous character seem, he took what could have been some really awful scenes and totally made them work.

Michael Keaton also gets a ton of credit as Raymond Sellers the big bad guy in the film. Keaton really manages to walk the line of "he's a bad guy, but I can kind of see where he is coming from" and those types of villains are the best villains in the world. As the movie draws to a close there are a few moments though where he starts twirling his mustache a little bit too much.

Gary Oldman and Sam Jackson in secondary roles are both pretty darn solid throughout the movie as the voices for using Robocop to his fullest potential and for remembering that he is still a human being and should be treated as such.

Even though there are some flaws that might be worth quibbling over the ultimate result is a movie with a relevant message while still being a fantastic science fiction action movie with lots of PEW! PEW! and BANG! BANG! but it is also well made, and obviously with some love for the original. Given that you have no choice in whether this film would get made.......what more could you ask for?

Oh and hardcore Robo fans....... Don't worry to much about that black suit Alex Murphy dawns for the majority of the flick...... Let's just say it doesn't make until the end credits.

The Wolverine

Fans of the X-Men franchise were almost certainly horrified when they saw X3: X-Men United when it hit theaters a few years ago. They killed Cyclops, they killed Professor X (kind of), Rogue lost her powers because she wanted to be with a boy, and they killed Jean Grey.

Then they became even more horrified when they were given X-Men Origins: Wolverine which provided us with a tale of Wolverine the supposed face of the franchise, and while Hugh Jackman is a pretty talented actor, "origins" wasn't very good either. Luckily we all got treated to X-Men: First Class and all was right with the world.

Now we are privy to "The Wolverine" and not only does it take place after X3, but it even makes reference to it. Wolverine is seeing images of Jean Grey in his dreams and he can't seem to stop killing the woman he loved. This over arching theme extends throughout the movie as the whole story revolves around a Japanese soldier Wolverine rescued during the American nuclear attack on Nagasaki near the end of World War II.

The Wolverine in a lot of ways is a much better film than the previous Wolverine solo film, but even then it isn't particularly good. Changing the venue to Japan and keeping about 99% of the movie there is a good thing I think. It feels like a self contained story but it does serve as a segue into the next X-Men film (which looks amazing).

While there are some fun actions scenes, and the violence and language were turned up to a shocking level given the previous films tone, the best part of The Wolverine is its mid credits scene which feature a returning Magneto and Professor X saying they need Wolverine's help.

While The Wolverine is a step up from its predecessor and while some of the action is pretty fun; The Wolverine basically serves as a filler movie for X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

It's the Holiday season, and as such it means a return to Middle Earth and the epic questing saga of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, and a rather large band of dwarfs as they seek to regain control of their homeland from the dangerous fire breathing dragon Smaug, and is adapted from the J. R. R. Tolkien books and appendices.

Some people (not I) thought that when Peter Jackson debuted the first of his new trilogy of films that the luster and splendor of the previous Lord of the Rings films were gone, and it wasn't the same. I thought "An Unexpected Journey" was fantastic, but I could still understand why some people felt the way they did about it.

With "The Desolation of Smaug" Peter Jackson has once again delivered a terrific movie going experience that is on par with the first film and is also up there in the pantheon of the original LotR trilogy. However this time with DoS (Desolation of Smaug henceforth) it feels even more in tune with Jackson previous Middle Earth films.

Yes, there is a lot of talking and walking, and yes even more walking (sorry Kevin Smith) but Jackson provides us with several tense filled moments along with a lot of thrills. From Gandalf squaring off with the Necromancer and the orcs, to the incredibly fun barrel ride sequence, to the fantastic exchange of dialog with Martin Freeman's Bilbo and Benedict Cumberbatch's Smaug.

Freeman is once again great as Bilbo as he brings his own energy to the part while from time to time giving us little shades of Ian Holm's portrayal as the elder Bilbo. Richard Armitage is also a stand out as Thorin Oakenshield. Of course, as always; Ian McKellen is fantastic as Gandalf bringing some much needed gravitas to any scene he is in.

As always there are some low points to mention and they do plague the franchise. Either you can deal with them or you can't. I can handle it well but the points I hear about the films being a tad long are fair. Also it is fair to point out that a majority of the dwarfs are interchangeable and there are only a few individual character moments between them.

Bringing back Orlando Bloom as Legolas was a nice touch. I haven't enjoyed much of Bloom's work outside of the Franchise but he was solid. I really like Evangeline Lilly, I liked her in Lost, and I even liked her in Real Steel, and I didn't dislike her in this movie, she plays a new character added just for these movies, the love interest of Legolas, and while her character is likable it just seemed superfluous for story of this film. Removing her presence from this film entirely doesn't really change anything about it, and it would have likely shaved some time off as well. I don't want to rush to judgement too quickly though, she will be in the third and final film "There and Back Again" which comes out next year. Her character may serve a greater purpose in that film.

Visually DoS is a feast (as are all of the Tolkien based films). Although almost all of it comes from amazing set pieces (sorry people who like to make jokes about New Zealand tourism). While I give both Hobbit films the same score, DoS feels like a tighter film, more action packed, and more of a thrill ride with less comedy than the first. Equally as good, just two different experiences.


Alfonso Cuaron has done it again! And thus far he is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. His last directorial effort "Children of Men" was an outstanding effort in film making and Gravity further cements Cuaron as one of the best Directors of our time.

Gravity is a largely CGI driven film as it would have to be in order to provide us with the visuals it does, and it spends about 99% of that time in said environment. In a lot of ways Gravity feels like those films set in a tightly contained location like "The Man From Earth" or "Buried" which is kind of a shocking thought considering how vast outer space truly is.

The main performance is all Sandra Bullock, although George Clooney does spend an awful lot of time with her in the first half hour of the movie. It is the Sandra Bullock show, and even though I generally dislike her films and performances I think Alfonso Cuaron directed her perfectly and got an outstanding performance from her.

At times dialog felt a little cliche and uneven at times but that sort of thing comes with the territory and is at best a minor complaint and at worst not even worth a mention. Clooney was very good as always, but at times his character seemed to be overtly trying really hard to make you think something wasn't quite right about him given their current circumstances.

Visually speaking.....Gravity is outstanding. Earlier this year I had a lot of fun watching Europa Report which is pretty good in it's own right, but it really shone in the visual effect department, and I can safely say that Gravity blew it out of the water. While man former Astronauts have spoken about how parts of the film don't portray realistic events they did talk at great length about how accurately Cuaron captures the look of space.

It should also be noted that Gravity brilliantly weaves its audio cues in and out to great dramatic effect. Hearing "sounds" from inside a spacesuit from that perspective is quickly jarred away from you when debris slams into the International Space Stations ripping it apart in dead silence.

Between the mastery of audio mixing, excellent visual effects, and a couple of very strong performances "Gravity" provides not only one of the best Science Fictions movies in quite some time but also one of the most suspenseful movies you will find anywhere.

Thor: The Dark World

If you enjoyed the Marvel's first solo adventure with Thor from 2011 then Thor: The Dark World will have you leaving the theater just as content as the first. Although unlike the first Thor movie which set up a new character and indeed a new universe to us, The Dark World truly does just feel like a set up for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Some people like myself don't have any issues taking that approach, but I am sure that others will rail against it.

The Dark World sees the rise of villains so old and forgotten (The Dark Elves) that the last guy to fight them off was Bor....Odin's father and Thor's Grandfather. Apparently they would like to see the entire nine realms literally Star Trek Into Darkness *cue rimshot*. Jane Foster (Thor's love interest played by Natalie Portman) winds up coming along for the ride and Thor must team up with his demented brother Loki to serve up justice for the house of Odin and of course to save the nine realms.

While the first Thor was directed by the great Kenneth Branagh, The Dark World was given to Alan Taylor. Taylor hasn't made a widely released feature film since 2001 has more recently been working on the fantastic HBO program Game of Thrones. Honestly, who better to direct a movie laced with bits of medieval fantasy?

Taylor's work on Game of Thrones spilled out in more ways than just how the movie looked, and some scenes really did give off a GoT vibe to be sure. But I am also pretty sure I noticed a fairly prominent cameo by a crow (couldn't tell if it had three eyes though). Plus some important characters die........also uncertain if George R. R. Martin got a writing credit. So yes, the movie looks fantastic as you would expect.

This is Chris Hemsworth's third time of the big screen playing the God of Thunder, and he does his usual good job but other than one fairly big moment in the movie there really isn't much going on with him character wise. Tom Hiddleston on the other hand continues to steal the show. He's is absolutely brilliant as Loki and after his performance in this movie I think I can safely say that I wouldn't mind plunking some money down on a Loki solo film.

Outside of that, the movie is fun, more funny than I thought going in, and is well made. The only thing stopping it from reaching even higher is the sense that that most important progress in the MCU made in this film occurred in the mid-credits scene. And yeah, of course stick around for the post credits scene. Given what we've heard about how Agents of SHIELD will directly intersect with and lead into other Marvel features has me thinking these two things could be linked somehow.

The World's End

It's the end of the road for the Cornetto Trilogy as we top off Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz with 'The World's End'. And it is a fitting conclusion to what what is best described as a loose trilogy of films. It's called the Cornetto Trilogy because the ice cream treat makes appearances in all three films but in that same vane you could also probably call this the friendship trilogy.

Friendship is at the center of all three films and no matter what silly circumstances the crew find themselves in it is always their friendship that is at the center of it all. The World's End is no different.....okay except for in a few ways....

The World's End might not be my favorite of the series but I think it was Edgar Wright's best work as a director to date, and I think this was also Simon Pegg's best performance of the three films and that is saying something.

In The World's End Pegg plays 'Gary King' a man who was once the leader of his particular pack of friends when they were still in school, but in adult life he has watched as all of his friends grew up, got married, got jobs, and led respectable adult lives. Gary on the other hand in an attempt to regain some kind of control over how he feels about his own life recruits the old gang for one more pub crawl in their old hometown.....only when they get there they quickly figure out everyone has been replaced by robots (who aren't robots).

Pegg is joined by Nick Frost and Martin Freeman along with Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine all in really fantastic performances. Although nobody has the chemistry that Pegg and Frost have, they just jump out at you and present a real relationship (being best friends for decades is probably a cheat though.....isn't it?)

Being that its a comedy, The World's End can get away with a few situations they find themselves in like in the climax of the film where they did kind of paint themselves into a corner they couldn't really get out of without comedy, but that is the beauty of this absurd trilogy.

The movie felt very familiar, Wright has maintained the small time feel of his trilogy and they always felt sort of self contained, yet there are just a lot of marked improvements in the way this movie was shot. It looked fantastic, the robot fights scenes were cool and flashy.....and funny too. It felt like cheap visual effects but done very VERY well.

There's a lot of fun to be had in watching The World's End and, surprisingly, more thematic depth than one might expect. The humor, true to its British roots, may baffle some Americans but those who "get" it will laugh quite a bit. Through it all, however, there's an underlying current of melancholy as Gary discovers what Bruce Springsteen sang about in "Glory Days": life passes by in a blink and the "greatness" of youth is quick to fade. There's a lesson to be learned here: You can't go home again, and not just because all your old haunts are now occupied by stiffly smiling doppelgangers.


Neill Blomkamp burst on to movie screens in 2009 with the amazing Sci-Fi apartheid allegory District 9. It was easily one of the best films to come out that year and even garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. With that film Blomkamp earned himself a lot of followers (myself included) and we eagerly awaited to see what he could do next.

As it turns out we would have to wait a full four years before we saw anything new, but what we got looked promising. Elysium follows Max (played by Matt Damon) who basically needs to get to a space station called 'Elysium' in order to seek medical treatment. The station has all of the latest medical technology the future has to offer including cures for everything ranging from a broken arm to cancer, and a few other things as long as your brain is still working. The only issue is that Elysium is for the privileged few and everyone on Earth are left to suffer. Max undertakes a lot of shooting and slow motion scenes in order to finally reach his destination.

If I am sounding a little underwhelmed then you dear reader are correct. Elysium was lacking, and it felt like it could have been better in a lot of areas; mostly notably the cast.

I am a fan of Matt Damon. He has the ability to do great in an action environment like we've seen in the Bourne Trilogy but he can also carry heavy drama as well. But in Elysium Max just didn't have anything for me to latch on to. He just felt like a guy....okay maybe that's what the writers were going for, I don't mean an 'every man'. Max felt like anyone could have played that role. I didn't feel like Damon brought anything specific to the role (no matter how small) that anyone else could have brought.

The less said about Jodie Foster the better. She may be fine in other roles (personally I haven't enjoyed a Jodie Foster movie since Panic Room) but in the role of evil corporate mistress 'Secretary Delacourt' she was a board....fully capable of movement and speech but a board none-the-less. Hopefully she was never truly meant to be the antagonist in this film because that honor should belong to Sharlto Copely as 'Kruger'.

Copely is one of few bright spots performance wise in this movie as he is yet to disappoint in a feature film. Kruger felt violent and terrifying and he did so with an oddly high pitched voice which made it all the more eerie. He was a pretty menacing presence, and Kruger further proves my point on Matt Damon's 'Max'. Sharlto Copely brought something to Kruger and really made that character pop!

On the other hand, Elysium looks incredible. Blomkamp certainly has a keen eye as it relates to executing the look and feel of the worlds he creates. Elysium is beautifully shot, the locations and set pieces are outstanding and just lend further credibility to Blomkamp as an up-and-coming director. The CGI is nearly flawless, the scenes involving travel between Elysium and Earth look amazing, and the design of Elysium itself is something to behold. They all really lend themselves well to the story.

Like with District 9 there is an allegory being told here. In Elysium its about the rich and poor, and the great divides between them. And while the story is a good one, and at times is told expertly, at the end of the day I just didn't get sucked in like I did when watching Blomkamp's previous efforts. While I lay a lot of that blame on the cast, some of that blame goes to Blomkamp himself for his choices on how those characters are portrayed.

Elysium is a step down from District 9 and it still worth a watch, but for me this felt like a one off while I will likely keep watching District 9 for years to come.

Kick-Ass 2
Kick-Ass 2(2013)

Kick-Ass 2 is most certainly better than what the majority of other critics are saying about it. I liked Kick-Ass 2 but I did find it lacking when you compare it to 2010's first installment.

I think the majority of the blame falls on Director Jeff Wadlow who took excellent source material and had a fantastic template from which to work on and just made a lesser film. The first Kick-Ass was directed by Matthew Vaughn who also directed the fantastic X-Men: First Class. Vaughn had a specific style of movie making that really led to the first Kick-Ass feeling brutal, goofy, serious, and comical all mixed very well.

Kick-Ass 2 felt a little clunky at times and didn't try to mesh those endearing qualities from the first movie all that often and when Wadlow did go for it the results were mixed.

A lot of news was made for this film when Jim Carrey (who was almost unrecognizable as Colonel Stars and Stripes) more or disavowed this film as he took a strong anti-gun stance which I always felt was a little odd because there was actually a pretty small amount of gun play compared to what we see in other movies. That being said I thought his performance was pretty good even though he ended up spending a lot less time of screen than I would have guessed.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Aaron Taylor-Johnson were pretty solid but that was to be expected as their roles were pretty much solidified in the first film and didn't really change all that much from that film to this film.

The real star of Kick-Ass 2 is Chloe Grace Moretz. Hit Girl has the only true character arc in the movie as she struggles to live a normal life as teen girl trying to fit in with the other teen girls. This really was Hit Girl's movie as the main arc was about her finding out who she truly was. Is she Mindy McCreedy who had her childhood "stolen" by her superhero father? Or was she really Hit Girl, the vigilante who has a needs to stop bad people from doing bad things? Even though the answer is pretty obvious, CGM plays it well.

Out side of that the movie feels like the Kick-Ass sequel we deserved from time to time, but it doesn't always live up to the first. And even though Kick-Ass 2 is a step down from the first, you should go see it anyway, especially if you enjoyed the first go around. While I don't entirely disagree with what a lot of other critics are saying I think they have totally missed the mark in the overall. Kick-Ass 2 is fun but flawed sequel.

Pain & Gain
Pain & Gain(2013)

Pain & Gain can be easily described as the best Michael Bay film in YEARS! But that is in large part because he stayed away from his typical BAYSPLOSION (c) TM exploits and focuses more on characters.

I do take issue with them claiming over and over again that "This is a true story" when in fact this movie is just based on a true story. Which means that the film makers can and will play fast and loose with some of the characters, and some of the scenarios that took place to better round out the story in a cinematic fashion. There is nothing wrong with that at all, but there is big difference between saying it IS a true story and saying it is based on a true story.

That being said; this movie is led by an awesome trio of main characters! Danny Lugo played by Mark Whalberg, Adrian Doorbal played by Anthony Mackie, and Paul Doyle (who is actually a combination of three different people) played fantastically by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

This is (believe it or not) part comedy. And you are free to argue until you hearts content whether or not it is appropriate to take an event with real people who died and spin comedy around it. Personally I think it was a bold move that pays off. Yes, what happened to the victims is tragic, but the events leading up to and surrounding these things is so unbelievable surreal and idiotic it would almost be a disservice to not make light of the situation. Lugo, Doorbal, and Doyle are the poster children for "America's Dumbest Criminals". The families of the victims were concerned that the criminals might be glamorized when in fact I think their portrayals might offend stupid people far more by being inexorably linked to these numskulls.

Dwayne Johns was the real standout in this movie. I think he stole a lot of the scenes he was in, and even though the majority of his work involved physicality or humor, I think he showed why he is easily capable of moving beyond the action star typecast that he often finds himself in.

This does not look like a normal Michael Bay movie and I can't stress that enough. The style, the imagery, and the tone all feel like someone else is behind the camera and I think that is why Pain & Gain worked so much for me, it didn't feel cookie cutter at all. My GOD there is only ONE explosion in two hours of film. That alone earned Bay half a pair of Geeky Glasses just for the restraint it must have taken to withhold all of the BAYSPLOSION-EY (c) TM goodness.

Pain & Gain has a few pitfalls, sometimes it feels like (even in an unbelievable story) that the script extended it out even further into an even more unbelievable story just for adding some extra sizzle to the proceedings. And while I liked all of the performances from the main cast some of the supporting cast was hit and miss at times. And yes, even though I thought it was a good move to play some of these situations up for comedy there were a few times where I didn't find the situations at all funny.

Well. So far so good for Mark Walberg and Michael Bay movies, let's what they can do to the Transformers series shall we?

This Is the End

Comedy and movies are two REALLY subjective mediums, combine them and you are talking about a REALLY REALLY subjective medium. I won't begrudge anyone who didn't find this funny, but for me; This is the End is the funniest comedy I have watched since TED, and this was at least a step or two better than TED.

You have Seth Rogan, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, and Craig Robinson all playing weird twisted versions of themselves and with them comes a HUGE supporting cast with names like Michael Cera, Danny McBride, Emma Watson, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in roles ranging from cameos to extended guest appearances.

The film itself is a what if scenario I have been dreaming about since I watched my first disaster movie (what happened to all of the celebrities?). These guys get trapped together during the apocalypse. And eventually that journey leads to a very tongue-in-cheek story about friendship.

Early on the film feels almost entirely made of jokes and improvised lines that happened to come up the day they were shooting (which wouldn't surprise me one bit) and it plays excellently like it almost always does.

As events proceed things feel a little more scripted which isn't meant to sound as bad as it probably does while reading this. A better way to say it is "more structured". It has to be, as they venture out of the house we get fantastic looking CG monsters, huge explosions, and all manner of other wacky visual effects.

While the story has a typical ending that anyone could see a mile a way I feel like that was mostly intentional as it kind of plays into the spoof of disaster porn, the general themes and tones you get in some of their other films like Pineapple Express. It still holds true to those movies, there are even a lot of common threads in there if you know where to look.

Fans of Channing Tatum may want to stay away from this film.........

All in all This is the End had me laughing harder than any movie I have seen in a long time (if you discount my laughter from After Earth) and the incing on the cake? I thought my favorite comedy musical moment came during the end credit of The 40 Year Old Virgin and that held true until the day I saw the closing musical number in This is the End. It is truly.....absolutely.....absurdly great.

Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim(2013)

Pacific Rim does a decent job of walking a fine line. They are walking the line on which there are two sides; a CGI loaded demo reel blockbuster and a fun movie.

First and foremost Pacific Rim delivers HUGE on what we saw in the trailers. Giant Robots vs. Giant Lizard things. We get it in spades. The fights are a true spectacle to behold. The visual effects are some of the best we have ever seen on screen, in fact I think I can safely say that this was the kind of movie that IMAX screens were invented for. This film is BIG!!!

But outside of that we get just enough out of Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi accompanied by a strong supporting role from Idris Elba, and what amounts to a really fun and extended cameo by Ron Pearlman. The lead performances aren't great, and neither is the interpersonal relationship stuff. Hunnam basically plays "Jax Teller" from Sons of Anarchy and while I think that character is good for that show, it doesn't really translate well here.

While the main performances are anything to write home about they are the kind of bad that most audiences won't really notice and that is a good thing in a movie that is admittedly more about flash than substance. Normally in a CGI fest the fun is overshadowed by performances that are so bad that they distract the audience from what they paid to see.

Pacific Rim walks that line pretty well, the performances mainly serve as background noise for the battles; something to do in between, and it is done well enough that you find yourself paying attention to what you paid to see.

Guillermo del Toro has an amazing eye for design and PacRim looks incredible, all of the creature designs are fantastic both pretty to look at and scary to see in action. The visual effects team did a superb job in translating the weight of every blow landed and every building toppled. It was a glorious mess, but one where you could tell what was going on at all times (unlike those pesky Transformers movies).

For me the real debate about this movie boiled down to this:

Is Pacific Rim a really good movie? or Is Pacific Rim an okay movie with really a few really great scenes?

Is this a movie you will watch over and over again from start to finish, or is this the movie that you actually use your Blu-Ray chapters on and just skip from one fight scene to the next?

I think for me it would be the latter. Pacific Rim is an okay movie with some really cool scenes in it.

White House Down

If you have already seen Olympus Has Fallen and you have decided to take a pass on seeing White House Down then you are missing out on the better of two movies.

Yes there are A LOT of similarities as it pertains to certain character types, minor plot points, and of course whole lot of White House KA-BLOOEY! But outside of that the main plots are pretty different, the cast is better all around, and White House down has the one thing (I would argue the most important thing) that its predecessor did not have: FUN!

Whereas Olympus Has Fallen gave you everything you would expect from a "Die Hard in the White House" movie except for the one thing that made Die Hard great and White House Down brings the fun in bulk. In fact Channing Tatum was so much like John McClane that he even rocks a dirty wife beater for the majority of the flick.

Tatum and Jaime Foxx (who plays a very Obama like President) turn this almost into a buddy comedy hurling jokes back and forth while gunfire reigns down. Yes, the White House is under attack, people are conspiring against the President, things blow up, and it is all WAY over the top and they also pretty much nail every things a movie like this should be.

The characters in White House Down know that this movie is over the top and they seem to enjoy the ride almost as much as we do at times. While Olympus Has Fallen wasn't the worst movie of the year, at times it felt a little too earnest and then unevenly swoop back into to over-the-top mode. Once the action in White House Down starts, it immediately goes over the top and it never comes back down.

I mean the President wears Air Jordans' and fires a rocket launcher out of the Presidential limo while it streaks across the front lawn looking for an escape! This movie screams Roland Emmerich and it speaks to his best work; which is providing audiences with a two hour distraction where people can sit back and watch a silly film with a silly story, eat some popcorn, have a few laughs, and most importantly....have a good time!

White House Down isn't the perfect summer action film and it did have some weak points that really stuck out (like Joey King as Emily) and even though Jamie Foxx is in this it serves mainly as yet another "Channing Tatum is the next big action hero" vehicle, that is okay with me. It did suffer a bit at the box office for coming out after Olympus Has Fallen but White House Down is the superior action film, if you want to see the White House get blowed up AND have fun then spend your money on this one.

World War Z
World War Z(2013)

World War Z is a pretty silly title, and at first I was nearly certain I was going to skip this one, when I heard there were some production issues I was virtually 100% convinced that WWZ was going to be a stinker...... I mean.....really? Brad Pitt in a zombie movie?!?

I should have know better looking at the track record of director Marc Foster. The man who gave us Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, Strangers than Fictions, and Quantum of Solace (even if it was the weakest Bond film of the Craig era). Foster has only a couple of miscues and for the majority of his career been quite solid. World War Z is no exception.

If you ar a fan of the traditional Zombie Film fare than WWZ will take some getting use to. The Zombies aren't slow and plodding they are hectic and chaotic. When you are bitten you turn in 12 seconds, and as a result the worlds population begins to rapidly dwindle. Pitt plays Gerry Lane who is on a mission to try and find the origin for this virus (in the hopes they can produce a vaccine). The movie takes us all over the place from Philly to South Korea, Israel, and the UK.

To get the desired PG-13 rating, World War Z drops the typical zombie gore fest in exchange for a frantic break neck style suspense thriller. Yes there are plenty of zombie deaths but most of them occur off screen and honestly I think Foster and his crew were confident enough to know that they didn't need gruesome kills to use as a crutch when they were already delivering on what matters most and that is suspense.

I wouldn't say WWZ is overly scary but it does have moments that might make you jump just a little. It is by-in-large a very tense movie and at nearly two hours you would think that they might just be dragging out a zombie feature just a little too long, but the film moves at such a fast pace that you don't really notice how much time has gone by.

Visually the movie looks great, and their idea to use faster moving zombies ultimately made them cool and scary again. We have seen hoards of slow moving flesh eaters try to squeeze through hallways and struggle to get over fences while the zombies of WWZ topple each other, large vehicles, and climb walls like ants in a maddening fury it is quite a spectacle.

Brad Pitt does a fine job in a role that many of us have seen a hundred time, but he does it very well. The rest of the cast kind of just exists solely to work around Pitt and none of them are featured for any decent length of time. The story is really about Pitt's character wanting to get back to his family.

Every so often the movie falls into tired and worn out action cliches and sometimes the dialog isn't overly fantastic but those are minor quibbles at best in a film that was a lot of fun to watch. World War Z may have veered way off course from the graphic novel it was based on, but despite not following the source material we've got another solid Summer popcorn flick that delivers on almost every level!

Europa Report

It is almost undoubtedly going to be a short hop and a skip comparing Europa Report to the 2011 film "Apollo 18". On the surface I can see why some people might jump to that conclusion. They both concern unclassified missions in space, they both have elements of the found footage documentary style, and they both serve as thrillers.

In fact they almost sound exactly the same. The big exception here is that Europa Report is done well! SebastiŠn Cordero's Europa Report watches more like a real scientific documentary with more realism than any other movie I have seen before it. The film (before it reaches into thriller territory) is a lot like what a real mission to Europa might actually play out.

As always we get a strong and emotional performance out of Sharlto Copely and he is fast becoming one of my favorite actors to watch on the big screen. The rest of the cast consists largely of unknown actors to American audiences (with the exception of Dan Fogler) but they are well played.

I felt at a point or two after the ship became stranded on moon itself and the thriller aspect of the movie really began to take hold; that the movie started creeping towards those same old and tired suspense tropes we have seen a hundred million times over. But in the last 10 minutes or so Europa Report redeemed itself when you started to get the over arcing theme that the writers and the director want to put on film in the first place.

Europa Report is about how dangerous and unknown space and exploration can be, but the revelations we can find will change the entire planets perspective for all coming time. Not only is the message loud and clear but it is laid out almost perfectly and for me was done so in a way that almost came to me like an epiphany. Any movie that can get that out of me is worth another watch for sure!

Let's talk visual effects. We have seen Space done wonderfully in the past, even as far back as 2001: A Space Odyssey and obviously recently in big blockbuster movies, that being said Europa Report might have the most beautiful and realistic space imagery I have ever seen on film. It is clear that countless of hours were spent just researching the Europan landscape and what the moon would look like from various viewpoint and perspectives...... It. Was. Breathtaking. The visuals were further enhanced by the excellent score given to us by Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galatica, The Walking Dead).

If you fancy yourself a fan of great science fiction or if you enjoy the Duncan Jones film "Moon" than this is a can't miss picture. Even with its minor flaws it still is one of the better SciFi films I have seen in a few years!

Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen gives you absolutely everything you would expect from what is either a 1980's action clone or a love letter to 1980's action movies. I can't really decide which of those this movie actually is. I should also note that a brand new movie "White House Down" is the same premise for the most part but infused with Roland Emmerich.

This film was directed by Antoine Fuqua who has brought us some good movies in the past like Training Day and Lightning in a Bottle. His most recent efforts have received mixed results though. As a result of what is seemingly an going trend for him I kind of feel mixed about Olympus Has Fallen.

In pretty much every way that matters it is a typical "AMERICA, F---- YEAH!" movie that doesn't overly appeal to me, but if you are an action junkie there is more than enough gunfire and huge explosions to send you home happy.

As I said, I'm not sure if this is a love letter or just a bad clone of the vaunted 80's action thrill rides. It has a lot of the plot points:

- Evil Foreigners
- Asians automatically know and are experts in martial arts
- Serious moments with overly cheesy dialog (I'm looking at you Pledge of Allegiance lady)
- Disgraced/imperfect army/police guy single handedly kills everyone
- A bunch of nukes

And while it has all of those things that make me feel like I am watching Die Hard or Lethal Weapon all over again; it doesn't seem to have any of the fun or levity that made those movies great. There is a reason serious movies aren't that over top because if you go over the top you have to recognize that in some way. Sometimes you can go over the top with cheesy dialog, but for the most part OHF stays away from that, we certainly do get it but only sparsely and that just doesn't work for me. The other option is to inject some fun into the movie. The best of the 80's action films had you gripped to your chair watching all the excitement go on but they would also make you laugh. You are having fun and the film is having fun right along with you.

The performances were largely fine. I don't really care for Gerard Butler but this works for him (much more than RomComs with Katherine Heigl). Butler is the one man wrecking crew that saves the entire country. Aaron Eckhart is the President of the United States and is largely fine but I actually thought he was much better in Battle: Los Angeles. Who really runs the show though? As always it is the magnificent Morgan Freeman who winds up being the interim President while this whole mess is going on. He can really make anything enjoyable to watch.

Overall films like Olympus Has Fallen have nothing to do with performances though because characters in movies like this aren't overly important. They are just slightly more than one dimensional so as you don't find yourself rolling your eyes at them. What really matters is how much fun you have watching it.

Olympus Has Fallen is definitely not the worse action movie I have seen but it also struggled to be fun at times. It might just be a touch below average.

The Purge
The Purge(2013)

The Purge is a horror movie mixed with a home invasion thriller that is also trying to be high concept as well. The Purge is about a new America that exists in the year 2022. Upon your first look it seems like normal everyday America until we learn that for one night a year all crimes are legal so as to "purge" our violent tendencies.

The idea here is people argue that the Purge simply exists to exterminate the poor and homeless so as to better shore up the economy. People deny this is the case, and of course it turns out to be mostly true. It is largely a stand in for the argument that the poor in America are being stepped on by the rich while the rich claim this to not be the case........its the same thing.......except the movie is loaded with violence, gore, and WAY overused horror movie tropes.

Lena Headly is by far the best performer in the film and for her kind of generic "Mom Role" she does pretty well. The rest of the performances are pretty much just pasted on the screen. Nothing really bad, but more in the realm of "if you have seen one horror movie performance, you have seen them all".

I really liked the concept of The Purge as a movie and indeed; the movie started out well and for the first 30 minutes or so I was actually enjoying it. But pretty soon The Purge started to nose dive and nose dive FAST. If you are a gore fan or a fan of suspense movies then there are some decent genuine scary moments but The Purge makes the fatal mistake that a suspense movie should never EVER do.

Director James DeMonoco decides to toss a M. Night quality swerve at the end of this movie that anyone could see coming a mile away, and worse yet the swerve is HEAVILY foreshadowed at the beginning of the movie! It is hard to have any suspense at the end of the film if you have been expecting that very ending for roughly an hour and twenty minutes.

Again, if this genre of film is your bag then you might find it more enjoyable than I did. I did like the concept even if it didn't delve very deep down that particular rabbit hole and it was all mostly obscured by cliched plot twists and dialog.

In the end The Purge will be filed away in the gigantic closet of "....if only" movies.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)

Director Zack Snyder and Screenwriter David S. Goyer along with producer Christopher Nolan have brought Superman back to the big screen a few shorts years after the Superman Returns debacle with "Man Of Steel".

I am not a Superman fan at all. In fact he might be my least favorite superhero, that would kind of go for any superhero that is overly powerful. You like rooting for a hero, but it is hard to root for them when he basically outmatches the villain in every way. So have to throw those notions out the window. Whether I personally enjoy Superman doesn't, what matters to me is a good a movie. In some way I got what I wanted and in other ways I did not.

Man Of Steel falls in the same trap for me that The Amazing Spider-Man did, if not in different ways. In TASM we got a rebooted origin story to a film series that gave us an origin story less than 10 years ago, and origin stories are already tough to do in the first place because you are so restricted to telling that story that you really can't delve into a more meaningful story. Man of Steel is the Superman origin story, it major origin story problem is that everyone knows it. Even I, as a non fan who never read a comic, or seen a movie STILL knew the origin story of Superman just because the character is THAT well known. The story of Man Of Steel never really struck me as exciting or gripping just because I felt like I knew what came next.

There is no doubt that the Zack Snyder effect made this movie and the Superman world feel MUCH bigger, and it looked the part. The visual effects were glorious and kudos to the studio(s) that handled them they knocked it out of the park. From the fall of Krypton, to the final battle between Supes and Zod, we got more than our share of breath taking visuals and big old explosions.

But is often the case with Goyer and Snyder I felt like there was a lot of uneven dialog and performances. Goyer while well known for his work in the recent Batman trilogy (although I thought The Dark Knight Rises while the most recent, was the worst of the three) he has also penned Jumper, and the ungodly terrible Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Zack Snyder on the other hand has a reputation in Hollywood for producing visual treats like 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch. And while I enjoyed 300 and Watchmen there is no denying that Snyder often does a George Lucas and tends to pay more attention to his visuals than his performances which led to uneven acting in all his recent films and the less said about Sucker Punch the better.

Man Of Steel suffers from this somewhat. I liked Henry Cavill as Superman. I thought he looked the part, and was largely a good fit but I didn't see sense any charisma or charm, and the same kind of went for Amy Adams' portrayal of Lois Lane. They both kind of felt muted at times. I also felt Michael Shannon's General Zod was at times a very good bad guy, but at other times he felt WAY over the top (too much for my liking), and at points even fell into cliche bad guy territory. I did enjoy Russel Crowe, Diane Lane, and Kevin Costner's brief outings in this movie and I kind of wish they had more screen time.

Whether or not this is another case of Snyder syndrome or whether it had more to do with with being stuck in "origin story mode"......only time will tell as it relates to that, and I am sure we will see another film.

Is this a good Superman movie? I can't really say. It is the first Superman movie that I actually enjoyed even with its flaws. Ultimately though for me it is in a strange middle ground. Not as dark as the Nolanverse Batman, but yet not as charming and vibrant as the Marvel films. I guess for me I would place on the same level as Ed Norton's Hulk film above Iron Man 2, and WAY above The Green Lantern.....

I am curious to see if DC can step it up for round two.

After Earth
After Earth(2013)

There is one thing you can say for M. Night Shyamalan....he's consistent. If you are stopping to say to yourself "HEY! I didn't know M. Night directed this movie". That's because the people at Sony pictures thought it best to not bring that up. As most of you know M. Night started his career off strongly with "The Sixth Sense", "Unbreakable", and to a lesser degree "Signs". After that it all went downhill fast. Yes, The Last Airbender made a good crash grab, but outside of that? Bupkiss.......

After Earth is a bad movie. Will Smith developed the story and M. Night co wrote the screenplay. Personally I don't think this is as bad as Airbender or even nearly as bad as Lady in the Water, but make no mistake......this movie is no good.

Will Smith came up with the idea for this movie after watching an episode of "I Shouldn't Be Alive" (true story) and thought of a father/son story about being trapped in the mountains somewhere and the son must go find help, then he decided to place 1,000 years in the future thus exploding the budget.

So this is the story in After Earth: An emotionally dysfunctional father and his overemotional nincompoop of a son crash-land on Earth, which has been quarantined for 1,000 years after we humans messed it up and left. Dad breaks both his legs, so son has to walk 100 km to the other half of the spaceship's wreckage to find a beacon. This is bad because, as Will Smith's dad says, everything on Earth has evolved to kill humans.

I always found Will Smith likable, and the same went for his characters, until this movie. Cypher Raige is THE most unrelatable parental figure I have ever seen in a movie. And Jaden Smith (while cute in The Pursuit Of Happyness) just doesn't have the acting chops to do this role justice. Maybe he will develop that over time, but for the time being it very much feel like "Daddy just bought me my own 100 million dollar movie"!

Plot holes are common in stories, there is no perfect movie but in After Earth I found myself asking questions every scene about why the characters were doing things that just seemed idiotic and not even in retrospect. Furthermore some of the dialog was laughably bad and I am almost certain that was not the intent of the writers when they were putting fingers to keyboard or pen to paper.

There are some nice visual effect shots. And if you exclude every scene with a poorly done CGI animal in them then this movie has 100% excellent visuals. I guess the other plus is that for a big SciFi movie it runs under 100 minutes. But even there is a lot of padding, scenes of Will and Jaden trying to communicate with each other and failing, and we get to hear them repeat themselves A LOT.

Seriously, there is not a lot in the way of redemption for this movie. In fact I was originally going to give After Earth 1 1/2 stars but just for making me remember this whole debacle of a movie it is going to lose the 1/2.

Fast & Furious 6

Bare with me ladies an gents. I have only watched the first Fast & Furious movie. I found it okay, but not enjoyable enough to watch any further. Skip a few years and I am doing this Cinema Geekly thing, and the F&F movies are still going (stronger than ever) I wanted to see what all the hubub was about. Honestly, after watching it, I can see why it appeals to people, it just doesn't appeal to me.

To quote Tom Medley of The Tolucan Times "If you want car crashes, ridiculous fights, car crashes, meager acting, car crashes, not much story, car crashes, nice scenery, and car crashes, this is a wild ride."

The film totally feels like an amalgamation of other elements from successful films. It's one part Avengers in that it features a super team of people apparently capable of super human feats of strengths and defying gravity (even though, as far as I know, these are all suppose to just be normal human beings), part James Bond (villain has super high tech dangerous weapon), and basically all the worst parts of The Transformers series (sans the Michael Bay racism).

Sometimes the action is spectacular, truly a sight to behold, but there is almost zero substance behind it. For me, none of it makes an impact. Now I'm not saying that Fast 6 or any previous or future films have to contain Oscar winning screenplays I'm not looking for that in my action flicks, but I also don't really want a movie where it feels like they wrote out all of the action beats first, and then tried to fill in the gaps as best they could with a story that will take you from one thing to the next.

Ultimate that is what Fast 6 felt like to me. The story gaps in the between the action were pointless at least in so much as the movie had so much action in it that by the end it felt like 98% of the film was actually just action scenes, be it racing cars, crashing cars, shooting, hand to hand fighting, or just blowing things up.

It sells though, they know their target audience. Fast cars, scantily clad Women, guns, and explosions. It is essentially porn that their parents will let them watch. Obviously it also appeals to VFX and action junkies that don't mind the lacking elsewhere in the movie. Sometimes I even fall into that category, I can freely admit that I like a lot of terrible brainless movies, but those had some kind of intangible charm that Fast 6 does not.

I suppose it doesn't help that virtually everyone outside of The Rock ranges bad or outstandingly bad in the acting department (looking at you Vin Diesel). I mean the A-Team was a gratuitous action movie too, but at least they had Liam Neeson!

Star Trek Into Darkness

....To boldly go.....where no Star Trek film has gone before? Nope. That is not what we are doing in Star Trek Into Darkness and it doesn't have to be.

While Trekkies clamor for a new adventure J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof used elements from Treks past to great effect in a brand new way that essentially tells the story of how Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) becomes the tight knit we found them to be when Star Trek first aired in the late 1960's.

If you thought the casting of this group of people was perfect when Bad Robot re-energized the franchise in 2009 then you haven't seen anything yet! The entire ensemble works so well together, you really get that sense of family that Star Trek perfected in the original series movies and onward. The cast has it in spades. Once again the writers have found a big moments for every single member of the Enterprise family and they did it with even better style than we saw in 2009.

Yes there are many homages to past Star Trek shows and movies (most of which will only be caught be the real die hard fans) and yes there are one or two very notable call backs to a previous Star Trek film which I thought was done as good if not better in some places than the original. Everything seemed to be done with even more emotional punch than I expected.

The casting of Benedict Cumberbatch was a stroke of genius. He was so cold and calculating with his words that he virtually stole every scene he was in. In fact he was so convincing that I am pretty sure there even a few Trekkies out that that actually believe he wasn't really the bad guy in this film. They would attribute that to Peter Weller's Admiral Marcus. Weller played Marcus so obvious that you could tell he was going to be a villain from the get go and I think that was the point. Marcus was the idiot bad guy who thought he controlled the man who is the real bad guy and ultimately he pays the price for it.

The film looks better (if that is possible) than its predecessor with a new warp effect and lots of new imagery (especially of 23rd century Earth). The movie didn't lose it's breakneck pace even though I think they did slow things down more properly in this film as opposed to the last.

Overall this felt much more like a traditional Star Trek movie as opposed to the first movie which did remarkable well considering it needed to be restricted to also telling an origin story. Star Trek Into Darkness is a thrilling action/adventure movie if you want it to be that, but it also has deeper meanings underneath the surface about giving Government too much power, war mongering, and whether or not it is worth the cost of war to stop one man. As with any good Star Trek our heroes wrestle with many of the same questions we wrestle with today.

I can't believe I am saying out Wrath of Khan. Star Trek Into Darkness is my new favorite film in my favorite film franchise.

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)

Marvel fans, true believers, FEAR NOT! Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. have returned in Iron Man 3! This time under the helm of a new director in Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang).

In last years uber blockbuster The Avengers we saw a scene where Captain America challenged Tony Stark about what he is without his suit, and that is the entire premise of Iron Man 3. Tony Stark can't sleep and he is having anxiety attacks after The Battle of New York and at the height of his problems with insomnia; things come crashing down around him.

Tony loses his suit and has to relearn not only what he did before Iron Man but who he really is as a person. This all comes courtesy of The Mandarin (or if you live in China Man Darren *rolleyes*). The Mandarin is played by Ben Kingsley who really is just fantastic in a role that will literally through Marvel comic book fans for a loop that they will enjoy or will go into some kind insanity fuel HULK RAGE over. He is joined by Aldrich Killian played amazingly by Guy Pearce. This was a truly memorable performance that will raise the bar for other future Marvel foes.

Both Don Cheadle (Iron Patriot/James Rhodes) and Gweneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) have A LOT more to do in this movie than in the first two combined. Add to that the cherry that was RDJ's fantastic performance. This go around we spend MUCH more time with Tony Stark then we do with Tony in an Iron Man suit.

The film also has more comedy then in previous films but it is all done so perfectly. The pace was smooth, the action was intense, and several of the visual effects were breath taking.

There is one big swerve in the plot but it also was done very well. At first it was a little jarring (as I think it was intended to be) but in the long run it made for a much better and much tighter story and for a very satisfactory ending.

I would count this right up there with the first Iron Man and maybe a little above that. As far as the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe goes, I still think The Avengers is the best overall film but Iron Man 3 is a close second.

Ohhhhh and yes......There is a post credits scene (this is a Marvel movie after all). That might be the only down point of the movie. While I enjoyed the scene it certainly lacked the punch that all of the other post credits scenes provided. If you were expecting to be given some kind of amazing look into the future of Marvel Phase II then you might just want to head home before the credits stop rolling.


42 is the story of Jackie Robinson and if you are an avid Baseball fan then you probably know this story already (or at least the major aspects of it). What 42 does is expand on the story and allows you to vicariously live or at the very least you can watch it with your own two eyes.

Jackie Robinson was the first black man in Major League Baseball and while you might expect Hollywood to lionize him, Director Brian Helgeland does his best to show Jackie as a flawed human who wasn't an angel but he did have to put up with an awful lot of punishment from fans other teams and sometimes even his own teammates.

Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson fantastically from the sound of his voice down to Jackie's batting stance, swing, and the way Jackie ran the bases. Harrison Ford was shockingly good as Branch Rickey (the owner of the Dodgers and the man who signed Robinson to a deal). For me this might be the best thing I've seen Harrison Ford in since the last time he played Indiana Jones.

Everything looks and feels pretty authentic. John C. McGinley shows up as Red Barber the long time radio announcer for the Dodgers and is absolutely superb matching Red's style and sound. The Baseball it self looks well done and the creative minds behind the Baseball scenes have said that they went out of their way to look at the actual box scores of those games and shot the scenes according to what really happened all the way down to balls and strikes. The attention to detail has to be commended.

Overall this is an excellent film and a great tribute to one of Baseball's iconic players. I thought that the end of the film started to race towards "cheesy" to much for my liking but that won't ruin what was a great movie.


Oblivion comes to us courtesy of the director of TRON: Legacy, and the producers behind Rise of the Planet of the Apes, two films that I enjoyed but Oblivion feels like a mixed bag at times.

Don't get me wrong, I am giving it a good score, overall I was really pleased with the movie but man were there ever some moments that I thought this whole thing was just going to go off the rails. Ultimately Oblivion managed to right its course and finish strong (even if that finish was a bit on the predictable side).

Tom Cruise was in what I like to call "standard Tom Cruise mode". He is neither poor nor great in his role. In fact the only person who really stood out was the great Morgan Freeman. That being said it was kind of a low bar to begin with. At times it did kind of feel like everyone could have been played by any old schmuck off the proverbial street.

It is hard to talk too much about the film without giving away what the movie is about so I will try to walk on eggshells here. It's the future. Humanity won a war against an alien race but not before losing almost all habitability of Earth, Jack Harper (Cruise) is part of a small team left to pick off the remaining stragglers while the rest of humanity rests comfortably on Saturn's moon "Titan". Ahhhh but not all is at it seems.

The first half of the movie is pretty well done and gets you intrigued but mid way through Jack learns a terrible secret that more or less exposes the rest of the movie and ruins everything that happens next. At this point, I think the writers realize this and then toss in some plot twists (some expected, some unexpected). The movie ends in a very predictable way, but still satisfying. As I said, Cruise was just average but that doesn't mean it wasn't a solid performance.

Visually the film is fantastic. Everything we see from Jack's "bird nest" station in the clouds, to the scorched remnants of Earth, all the way to lovely scenes in space. This movie delivers on a visual level.

The story of the film itself is done in a pretty clever way. At first I thought I was watching an average script at best but by the time all the loose ends were tied up I had changed my tune on Oblivion.

So even though the movie felt uneven at times, and even though the performances weren't exactly the stuff of legend, all of the other factors surrounding the movie came together and made for a pretty fun watch.

Oz the Great and Powerful

The original Wizard of Oz is a Disney classic from the good 'ol days of film making. It's props are highly sought after and highly valuable. It has inspired multitudes of other movies that wanted to follow in the footsteps of such a magical film.

That being said, I was never a big fan of the original film. I've seen it twice, once as a kid, and once in adulthood. And while I don't dispute its legendary status at the end of the day it was just never my cup of tea.

So I went into OTGAP with a very low bar indeed and I walked out pleasantly surprised! Most people would probably consider a modern day prequel to a classic original sinful at best (thanks A LOT Star Wars). Throw that out the window here, I think Sam Raimi manages to capture a lot of the feeling that gave the original film most of its luster. The CG characters looks great, and the main CG characters who follow Oz around on his journey feel life like and physical.

James Franco is hit or miss for me. When he isn't playing something close to who he really is he always feels like "James Franco pretending to be someone". At various points in Oz he certainly runs into these kinds of scenes. But often (and especially as the film hits the final act) that all seems to vanish and i really did forget about who was playing the wizard and that is a good thing. I just started really enjoying it.

All of the witches were really fantastic in their roles. They all looked beautiful and they all acted their butts off especially Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams. And I thought the way they really told the story of the wicked witch and how she came to be as we know her from the original to be well done.

There were some overly in your face references to the original movie which I always hate seeing, in fact it also seems like a studio mandate that if you make a prequel to a movie you MUST makes some kind of reference to the film or films that follow.

Overall I thought the movie was good, I think it will largely satisfy long time fans, and I am positive that your kids are going to love it.


There are a lot of reason to not do a time travel movie. There have been a million billion zillion of them, they all tend to be overly complicated, and they all seem to be following a singular story "something bad happened in the present so I have to go back to fix it". This is what most of these stories tell and don't get me wrong I enjoy a good time travel story it's just rare to see one as good as Looper.

In the near future time travel is invented and outlawed. Naturally some less than repeatable crime organizations gain control of this technology and they use it to get rid of guys they don't like by sending them into the past to be killed. Seems like the perfect crime, and a great payday for your Hitman living in the past. Eventually though your mob contract runs up. If you live 30 into the future they send you back and you kill your future self "closing your Loop".

As you can surmise, that is not what happens when Joseph Gordon-Levitt's "Joe" runs into his future self played by Bruce Willis. In fact what happens is a pretty fantastic action thriller that provides great visuals, action, and a well written script.

Levitt is pretty great in the lead role which is saying something considering how good he was in Inception and 50/50. Joe is saving up for a nice leisurely life before he runs into his older counterpart. He is then put in a tough place by having to choose between saving himself and completing his job or grasp the desperation of his older self who has led a life the younger Joe hasn't even experienced yet.

Willis is.....well.....Bruce Willis. He is good when he needs be, and is largely there to kick a lot of ass (which he does). Most of the heavy lifting comes from JGL, Emily Blunt, and Jeff Daniels who turns in a great performance as "Abe" who is from the future and acts as the conduit between the mob and the Looper's. He gets a majority of funny lines and was on the verge of being the most memorable character in the film by far. I just can't say enough good things about Jeff Daniels.

The Director Rian Johnson has a few other critical hits to his name (Brick, and The Brothers Bloom) but this was both critically loved and did pretty well for itself at the box office. As I said before, Time Travel is not the hardest kind of story to tell, it's been done a lot. They key though, the real trick is doing a great Time Travel movie and Looper is one of the best I have ever seen.

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas(2012)

This could easily end up as the hardest review I've written yet. Cloud Atlas was amazing at times, visually stunning, effective, and moving. At other times it felt like a complete mess that went from place to place so much without notice that it took you a 20 seconds just to get your bearing.

The book of Cloud Atlas discusses the idea that we are all interconnected (which the movie shows us by having a lot of actors play a lot of different roles). The book covers six stories in six different places during six widely different times on Earth. In the book we go chronologically forward for the start of these stories until the middle of the book which gives us a completed story then moves backwards to complete the rest of the stories.

In the film version the Wachowski's and Tom Tykwer go the opposite route of just weaving everything together. Sometimes this work well, sometimes extremely well, but most of the time......eeeehhhh.....not so well. That being said the movie does start to come together in the last 45 minutes or so into something pretty fantastic.

You wouldn't think this was an independent film by the looks of Cloud Atlas but it was. It is a sight to behold as well. Everything from the 1800's sailing ship all the way up to futuristic Korea all looks incredible and it is a credit to the designers and creative minds behind this film, for as much jumping around as there is, everything is full realized.

Perhaps the hardest thing of all to gauge is the performances 5 or more of the actors play parts in each of the six stories. Most of them are widely different from each other. I think it's safe to say that they all enjoyed the process of getting to play so many different roles for one film but I guess since the overall story connecting those six trumps their individual stories. With so many different performances they all kind of blended together, nothing amazing, nothing terrible. Perfectly acceptable...I guess? I take that back. Jim Broadbent was actually pretty fantastic all throughout the movie and made the absolute best out of everyone on screen and likely got in the best jokes as well especially the "pussy" joke.

So what do you do when you've watched a movie and you love parts of it and hated others? Well I guess you go somewhere in the middle. I'm sure there are already raging debates all over the internets about whether or not Cloud Atlas the movie should have followed the layout of Cloud Atlas the book more closely or not. Honestly, I'm can;t say for certain whether or not it would have made the movie and better or worse, but it might have given it the added bonus of being easier to follow along with.


It's always hard for me to remain unbiased when I see Steven Spielberg's name attached to a movie. He might just be my favorite director. That being said I have disliked some of his movies but the wide majority have been good to great. He can go from action/adventure serial to science fiction, gritty war torn battlefields and in Lincoln he does a fantastic dramatic period piece.

Lincoln doesn't really cover the bases you'd think a movie about Abraham Lincoln would. Spielberg's "Lincoln" is about the Civil AND about Slavery but instead of the war movie we've seen oh so many times, or the "Lincoln Assassination" movie we've seen so many times we are brought a movie about politics and policy, and what Lincoln had to do in order to pass the 13th amendment abolishing slavery in the United States.

I suppose it goes without saying that Daniel Day-Lewis is perhaps the best actor of our generation but he once again lives up to the hype and the expectations. His Lincoln is FLAWLESS and to me the definitive portrayal of our 16th President. Lincoln is thought of as this mythical figure, a larger-than-life personality and as a result we get this loud and booming heroic interpretations with a voice to match, but everything I've ever read about the man suggested he was somewhat quiet and very humble and had the voice to match those qualities. DDL exemplifies these qualities in his take on Lincoln. The voice does not command greatness but rather brings us back down to Earth, Abraham Lincoln was a man who did great things, but he was just a man.

Throughout this movie we are show how much we have changed as a country and hilariously enough, how we haven't changed all that much since the time of Lincoln. The scenes depicting the legislative process had me wondering if I was actually watching C-Span instead of a Civil War era drama. Spielberg shows us touching moments with DDL's Lincoln that show us that Abe was just a down to Earth guy, he is a highly intelligent man, cunning in his political savvy, yet he tells awkward jokes that don't really land, he plays with his youngest son, and has arguments with his wife. For the first time I feel like we've been given a picture of Lincoln as close as we will ever get to the real thing.

I would be remiss entirely if I didn't give props to Tommy Lee Jones who comes insanely close to stealing the whole picture away from Day-Lewis. Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens a stalwart Republican who is the perhaps the one person behind this amendment more than anyone else. Jones has the best comedic lines in the film, gives some fantastic speeches when speaking out against slavery, and also has one of the most emotional scenes in the entire film.

The film looks gorgeous and really planted you in that time frame. Somehow the Civil War era has always been done well when it comes to set pieces and this movie was no different. And....yes.....they do tackle Lincoln's assassination but from a different perspective then we normally get.

The movie did feel like it lagged for the first 15 minutes or so as it was setting up future events, but once it got rolling it never stopped. Spielberg's "Lincoln" is a great historical film that is going to win quite a few awards and I would be shocked if Daniel Day-Lewis didn't add another Best Oscar Award to his mantle.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I didn't jump on the Lord of the Rings bandwagon until after I saw "Fellowship of the Ring" on DVD, but I was hooked. I saw "The Two Towers" and "Return of King" on opening weekends. I bought the theatrical cut DVD's and then the extended Blu-Ray set. Suffice it to say but I am a big LotR fans.

Now I've read a lot of other film critic reviews of the first installment of The Hobbit trilogy and I'm flabbergasted. "I loved LotR but I didn't like this, it was too long, it went in too many directions". Perhaps people were caught up in the size and spectacle of Peter Jackson's first trilogy (which has since been rightfully copied to no end) but pay close attention. All of the rings films were three hours plus, they all had a million characters and several different stories going on at once.

Perhaps the magic has worn off for some, but fear not, if you truly loved the rings films you will just as in love with the first Hobbit film.

Peter Jackson brings Middle Earth back to life and you immediately feel back at home. The pace and tone reeks of Fellowship of the Ring (which was the weakest of the trilogy) but that isn't a bad thing. Martin Freeman is PERFECT as Bilbo Baggins and there are a ton of call backs and cameos hearkening back to the first series of films including a lot of the tremendous Andy Serkis as Gollum.

The movie ends without any spectacular resolution but come on, what did you expect? You do see the tale mirror Lord of the Rings in a lot of ways. Slow going at first, picking up the pace slowly as you go (oddly enough, just like a book). Everything culminates with some big leaps forward in character development and the beginning of the second stage of their journey as Bilbo and the Dwarves look at a very distant Lonely Mountain much like Frodo and Sam gazing at Mount Doom at the end of Fellowship.

I saw this in good old 24fps and in 2-D so I can't speak to those other experiences but the film was epic in scale, beautiful to behold, and just so amazingly and artfully crafted from set design all the way down to the very last sword and shield.

I'm not sure what this film would look and feel like if Mr. Del Toro had done it, but this doesn't feel like someone trying to recapture Lord of the Rings, it just feels like it should, like you never really left.

I felt almost every minute of The Dark Knight Rises, but The Hobbits 3 hours blew by. I'd gladly see it again, and I can't wait to see "The Deolation Of Smaug".

Wreck-it Ralph

Seeing the trailer for Wreck-It-Ralph earlier this year I was pretty excited to see this movie. I mean you are getting quality animation, fun for the kids, and way super cool old school video game references for the grown ups. What's not to like?

Well I didn't like everything. Maybe it is a small quibble but I was hoping to see a lot of old school characters pop up all along the way or maybe more jokes incorporating them. But almost all of them are in the first 10 minutes or so of the film and while fun I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more had they sprinkled more references throughout.

The story was actually a lot more cookie cutter than I was expecting, sure a lot of animated films tend to stroll down this path but a lot of them tend to do with with style and a fresh approach that makes it feel new. During Wreck-It-Ralph I spent more time thinking about what I knew was coming next instead of just watching it unfold. There were definitely aspects of this film that I just felt disconnected from.

It isn't all bad though. I did like the movie, I just wasn't blown away. The voice acting from all concerned were totally fine, there are even a few jokes (outside of game references) that were funny, but a lot of it felt like 90% 4th grade level humor and in this day-in-age of animated films that just doesn't cut it as far as my enjoyment goes but kids will love it.

The world was well realized and everything looked great, the way they transitioned between their actual world and the "real world" of the arcade was really clever.

Ultimately though this feels like an average animated film. It borders on okay-good for most of the time but never really comes close to the best of animated movies and doesn't even really approach films like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, I'd say Wreck-It-Ralph is a step or two behind those movies.

Kids will love it for sure, and I'm sure there will be some game lovers out there who will enjoy it as well, and even though I liked the movie overall, I don't see myself re-watching this anytime soon.

Safety Not Guaranteed

A small indy film chalk full of unknowns with a quasi Sci-Fi premise? Sign me up! Safety Not Guaranteed is all the things people love in a small dramedy like this. Nice but simple settings, more dialog than action, and a good story with a pretty nice pay off.

Aubrey Plaza is the female lead in this (Darius) and if she looks familiar to you it could be that she played Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. She plays a kind of hipsters magazine intern who hasn't really found her niche in the world. Usually that sort of character annoys me to no end but Plaza makes her kind of likable for the most part. She volunteers for a writing assignment when one of the lead writers finds a strange add in the paper written by a man looking for someone to travel back in time with him.

All of the charm really comes from Mark Duplass who plays Kenneth, the odd ball guy who thinks he can time travel. He really hasn't been in much that mainstream movie goers would know but he Direct and wrote the screenplay for the critically acclaimed "Jeff Who Lives At Home". Duplass plays a quirky guy to say the least, and normally too much oddball can be off putting, but he really balances that well. By-in-large I found myself kind of rooting for this guy.

There are other minor players in the movie that serve up most of the comedic moments, but the laughs aren't cheap and they serve a purpose. There is also a fairly forgettable side story that follows the supposed author of the article this team is writing on Kenneth as he plans to have the interns do all the real work while he connects with an old High School Girlfriend.

The movie looks and sounds good even though it becomes pretty clear by the time the credits role that 90% of the budget basically went into one shot, and it is a pretty satisfying shot at that.


The original Judge Dredd movie came out when I was just hitting my teenage years and I will admit it, I was a fan. Fortunatley for me, time heals all wounds, or in this case? Time heals all stupid opinions about movies. I will also admit that when I heard we were getting another Judge Dredd movie I winced pretty hard.

This ain't your Sly Stallone and Rob Schneider "I AM DA LUUUUUR" crapfest no! Dredd 3D is what Judge Dredd should be. He is a complete Bad Ass Mofo who dishes out the law to the criminal element of Mega City One, he never takes off his helmet and we barely learn anything about him at all, he is a total mystery, and it is awesome!

Karl Urban does justice (I guess pun intended) to the Dredd character, and the real story and character development comes from rookie Judge Anderson played aptly by Olivia Thirlby. She is a psychic (a rare find to be sure) and a powerful one at that so the Hall of Justice is going to be interested in her skills.

She heads out with Dredd on what was suppose to be her evaluation, until that is, they run into Lena Heady's "Ma-Ma" who is producing drugs out of a giant apartment complex. Dredd and Anderson get stuck inside and have to fight their way out.

This movie is bloody and brutal with  capitol "B". The action is pretty intense and it should be. This movie flies along at a rapid pace, it is a scant one hour and thirty minutes. Honestly that is the perfect amount of time for a movie like this. The story is simple, it serves as an introduction to that world, and it is packed with action. You would have to search long and hard for a cheesy scene or a moment of corny dialog.

Dredd fans, your long nightmare is over. This may not be the perfect Judge Dredd movie but it is light years above and beyond the Sly Stallone installment.  If I were you, I would hope your strongest hope that this version of Dredd gets a sequel, because there is so much more ground to cover in this universe. Dredd 3D was an excellent jumping off point.

The Dark Knight Rises

Regardless of how you choose to look at Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise, it is pretty difficult to deny that they are pretty darn good films.  Clearly he has taken Batman in a couple of different directions that have really gotten under the skin of some fans he has even done things with the core character beliefs of Batman that you would likely never see in any of the other retellings over the years (like quitting Batman for 8 years), but Nolan makes it work within his universe.

By now you know what you are getting into if you go see a Nolan Batman movie he's not going to change the tone drastically from you've come to expect. I think one should look at it for what it is, not what they want it to be.

Nolan delivers big time in the conclusion to his Batman trilogy. The movie feels bigger, the action is larger, and exist on a far bigger scale than anything in the previous two films. Speaking of which, this does serve as a third act to a three film series, but almost all of the films best moments and story tie in to Batman Begins more than it does The Dark Knight.

Ann Hathaway is fantastic as Selina Kyle (would it have killed them to mention Catwoman just once?) she isn't the Batman Returns version but she stays really true to the Catwoman character and adds a lot to the movie with her dynamic with Bruce Wayne and Batman. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also pretty fantastic in this movie as John Blake and he plays a fairly pivotal role in the film.  Michael Caine has been great in all of the "Nolanverse" films but he really stood out in his scenes and without a doubt provided the absolute most dramatic and emotional scene in any Batman movie (and probably anything I have seen this year).

Tom Hardy as Bane was solid, but never stood a chance against Heath Ledger's Joker. That being said Hardy was not the super sized monster from Comic Book fame but he was as about as ruthless and Batman was totally over matched physically every time they confronted each other. His voice will likely be a point of discussion forever, there were some moments where the Bane voice was grating, and I am pretty sure at the beginning Sean Connery was actually doing voice overs, but for the most part I got use to it, and I didn't have a problem understanding anything he said.

This will likely go down as one of the most solid and well built trilogies ever made along with Lord of the Rings. Where the real debate will lay is with fans consider them good Batman movies.

This wasn't a perfect movie by any means. At times it did start to feel like it was getting long, but just in time a great action beat would start up. It was a very well paced roller coaster ride.  The last hour of the film is utterly fantastic and kind of leaves you wanting more (which we know is impossible) yet the ending of the film is clearly leaving the door open for future involvement.

The Amazing Spider-Man

I am going to feel really old typing this out but 10 years ago Sam Rami and Tobey Maguire produced the first big screen version of Spider-Man. By now you know the story. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love, gets bitten by magical spider and gain super powers, boy fights crime.

Many people wondered (myself included) if a reboot of the Rami three film franchise was really needed. Some would say yes after the poorly received Spider-Man 3 (aka Jazz Hands Spider-Man). Others just thought it was too soon, especially after hearing the news that the Mark Webb version would once again start with the origin story.

The Rami series while good (for the most part) was always a little too cheesy and cartoonish for my liking and I can't say I ever really liked Maguire's  Peter Parker. But still I thought this movie would be better served up like the Ed Norton version of The Incredible Hulk (where we get a sort of mini origin story through the opening credits). I still think doing another origin story was not needed.

However the Mark Webb version of the story is actually very different in execution although very similar in theme to the Rami version. But the theme is about all this has in common with the original from 2002 and that is a good thing.

Mark Webb gives us a slightly darker tone and feel to the movie. It still certainly keeps its comic book elements but not as lighthearted as in previous films. Nothing about this felt cheesy and I think a lot of that credit can go to the cast as well.

Andrew Garfield is the NEW Peter Parker in so much as he was a huge step up from Maguire. Not only did I like Garfield's Parker, I liked his Spider-Man as well who was much more in line with the quick witted Spider-Man from the comics. Emma Stone once again brings it playing Gwen Stacy (Mary Jane who?). Rhys Ifans and The Lizard was kind of just there for me. I understand the reasons they went with that villain but I was just not hooked in like I was with Doctor Octopus. Ifans himself was okay, his character just felt like the facilitator to Spider-Man's development as a hero.

There were a couple of pretty cliche ridden scenes that just drive me up a wall like when Peter Parker and Kurt Connors are talking to each other like they know each other is the good/bad guy, then in a flash it's like they don't realize it and go on with their day.

Overall the visual were fantastic, the city felt more alive to me then it ever did in the previous Spider-Man films, and in general I think this was a much better made film. In this franchise of Spider-Man I still think Spider-Man 2 is the best of the films produced thus far but I think this would be a solid second place.

It is less of a film for kids than its predecessors as well with slightly more graphic violence. In fact this felt much more in line with what Marvel Studios has been doing with their Avengers films.

If anything The Amazing Spider-Man converted me. I was not down for this move at all, but now I can happily say that the reboot worked! I am looking forward to what this cast can do with the franchise going forward!


Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame has bestowed his first feature film upon us. He not only co-wrote the movie but serves as the director as well. But let me join the losng list of others who have said this: You do not need to be a fan of Family Guy to like this movie. Personally I find Family Guy to be more miss than hit, and I don‚(TM)t watch it very often, but this movie was a lot of fun. And yes there is one kind of funny Family Guy reference in the movie.

Mark Wahlberg is particularly great in this film. But him in the wrong spot and you get that M. Night film with the plants that are trying to kill you. The right spot and you get comedy gold like TED. Wahlberg plays John who made a wish when he was young that brings his Teddy Bear to life. Not only does this work but Ted grows up along with John. They even manage to smartly explain away why Ted is excepted by society (after all he is a talking Teddy Bear).

Mila Kunis is his long time girlfriend who want John to grow up and stop hanging out with his friend/Teddy Bear. It‚(TM)s a pretty thankless role for her because she kind of has to play the spoil to John and Ted‚(TM)s excellent adventure. But she manages to do it in a way that avoids the stereotypical nagging girlfriend.

Other highlights include a distrubingly creepy performance by Giovanni Ribisi, an awesome bookend narrator role by Patrick Stewart, SAM JONES (aka Flash Gordon), Joel McHale, and cool cameo by Alex Borstien and Ralph Garman as younger John‚(TM)s parents.

The CG work is close to flawless. Ted really looks fantastic and nearly seamlessly blends in with the world around. There is a particularly great scene straight out of the Forest Gump playbook where Ted is on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson that I hope makes for a cool special feature on the Blu-Ray release. I should also note that the soundtrack is really amazing as well. Seth is a big fan of Big Band music and we get a ton of it throughout and I couldn‚(TM)t be happier about it.

Even though it wasn‚(TM)t a comedy per say Cabin in the Woods is still the funniest movie I have seen this year but this is a close number two! If this is Seth MacFarlane‚(TM)s first shot at a feature I can‚(TM)t wait for his second!

It should be noted that they actually do play up a couple of scenes that are, in fact, really touching. The only real point of contention out there is the way the movie ended. Honestly I think it had the proper ending, and if they wanted to go cheese ball, they could have easily gone further than they did.

Again! If you are holding out because you hate Family Guy, don‚(TM)t worry. With the exception of Ted‚(TM)s voice, there really isn‚(TM)t a whole lot of Family Guy in this movie at all.


Ridley Scott basically defined modern day SciFi movies as we know them. He blazed the trails with Alien and Blade Runner and then he moved on to other genres and provided us with movies like Gladiator, Thelma & Louise, and Black Hawk Down. Now he returns to form with Prometheus (the is an Alien prequel or not movie).

Well spoiler alert‚¶‚¶‚¶‚¶ It is a prequel to Alien of sorts. You see Alien takes place in or around 2179 depending on who you believe it could be as early as 2122. Prometheus begins and ends in the year 2094, so at best this is 84 years before the events of Alien.

This story focuses around the space jockey‚(TM)s unnamed race (who is of mysterious origins in the original Alien). A group of scientists are lead to a planet where they believe they will meet this race as they hold a possible key to our very existence. The answer they find isn‚(TM)t probably what they were hoping for though.

Scott has once again directed a great science fiction film (probably not his best) and he directed his talented cast to some pretty great performances chief among them is bestowed to Michael Fassbender who is just fantastic as the android David. Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba are also really good in this. Guy Pearce is actually in this movie, but chances are that you will have to wait until the end credits to figure out who he played (I know I did).

Visually speaking, this movie is stunning! CG is superb, the scenery was alive and done so well that it often requires serious thought to remember that they aren‚(TM)t in a real place. Scott‚(TM)s movies seem to have that effect almost every time.

There are a lot of legit creepy scenes throughout and Scott (in my view) has managed to recapture a lot of what made Alien scary the first time around. I always felt the weight of the tension that the characters were feeling as well.

A lot of questions kind of remained unanswered by the time the credits rolled at the end, but the ending itself left a sequel hole in it so wide and awe inspiring that it seems pretty obvious there will be more of these to come (presuming this doesn‚(TM)t bomb).

Also kudos must be doled out to the writing staff who managed to stay true to the tone that the original Alien films created. At times it really did feel like I was watching something Scott made around that same time but just never got around to releasing it.

There are some faults with the film, but most of them are minor quibbles that merely just distracted me from time to time but nothing that ultimately took away from the movie itself. It‚(TM)s not a perfect film and while it works as a stand alone movie it certainly feels like it is just the first chapter in a story that has a few more chapters left.

Men in Black III

I don‚(TM)t think I would be going out on limb if I said that nobody was really asking for a third Men In Black film. Heck, there were a lot of people who didn‚(TM)t even ask for the second film.

The original came out in 1997 (which is pretty much the peak of Will Smith Mania). That‚(TM)s not to say that the former Fresh Prince has lost his appeal. In fact I pretty much enjoy everything Will Smith does, he‚(TM)s extremely talented, and loaded with charisma and charm. And hey the first installment went on to make almost 600 million worldwide!

About five years later we were treated to MIB2. And while I enjoyed it t a degree it was nowhere near as much fun as the first, but needless to say it was a significant step backwards. Even though it went on to total up about 440 million in ticket sales it seemed like this franchise was over and done with.

Que 2012! That‚(TM)s right, 10 years after the last movie we are revisiting Agents K and J as they go on another alien/time travel scifi adventure. Alright‚¶ more beating around the bush. I did not hate this movie, in fact, I kind of liked this movie.

In the previous two we are stuck with this ‚THE WORLD WILL END‚? story that pretty much permeated all of the script. And hey they do it here too but with one major exception. The end of the world stuff? That plays a second fiddle to the story between Will Smith‚(TM)s ‚J‚? and Tommy Lee Jones ‚K‚? even thought Jones is hardly even in this movie. Smith spends most of his time back in time (pardon the pun) with Agent K from the 60‚≤s played by Josh Brolin who is actually really fantastic in this.

The end of the film has what I would deem a pretty dependable SciFi twist but it is soooo sweet and so nice that it‚(TM)s hard to stay mad at this movie for anything else it might have done or gotten wrong.

The funny moments are surprisingly funny, there is a brilliant piece of philosophical goofiness involving the Miracle Mets of 1969, and then of course we get Bill Hader doing a really hilarious Andy Warhol. And to top it off, the lamest scene in the trailer wasn‚(TM)t even in the final cut of the film (I‚(TM)m looking at you spray paint alien).

The CGI pretty much hits it‚(TM)s mark with the best of scenes feature the Apollo moon mission take off up close and personal. Yes, there are a few cringe worthy moments, and yes there are some jokes that fell kind of flat but that shouldn‚(TM)t denture you from checking it out.

They didn‚(TM)t really recapture what made the first one good, but they came awfully close, and provided a satisfying ending that ended up being a lot more than I expected from the movie series that brought us the ‚guy in the Edgar suit‚?.

John Carter
John Carter(2012)

John Carter (or as the cool kids call it, John Carter Of Mars) is kind of an old story. Seriously his first appearance in A princess Of Mars was 1912! You can see why this Science Fiction story could make sense back then, long before we knew there was no life on Mars.

This movie was an utter flop at the Box Office, and for a Disney movie with cool special effects, and lots of neato SciFi elements, you have to admit that is a feat difficult to achieve. But you can‚(TM)t always blame that on the movie itself being poor. Clearly, naming a film John Carter can‚(TM)t help the cool factor. To average moviegoer you might as well have named it Mike Smith.

There is an awesome cast including William DeFoe, Mark Strong, Bryan Cranston, and Thomas Hayden Church. The main characters played by Taylor Kitsch, and Samantha Morton did nothing for me though. While the other afore mentioned actors delivered for the most part but the leads provided me with characters that I really never felt that I knew well or cared about to any particular degree.

The scenery is amazing, and there is a lot of the CGI that looks tremendous. The most alien looking creatures called the Tharks (to me) had a little too much of that CGI look. I kind of never really felt like they were there with the other actors in the film.

From what I understand the planet of Basoom (Mars) has a long and complex back story so much so that it is not brought up much if at all, but yet it‚(TM)s history is the prime functioning plot device that the story is based on. So there is basically a ton of point where any non fans would just get lost at certain points.

There are some high points, and even a few well acted moments from our main stars, but I never really felt the chemistry there, and to top it off the movie was pretty rife with those moments where you call what happens next minutes before it actually happens. Once or twice is tolerable, but I found myself losing count after a while.

American Reunion

If we can be allowed to pretend that all of those direct-to-DVD sequels to the original three American Pie movies do not exist for a few minutes I think I can provide a level headed review of this (what I consider to be) the fourth film in the series.

As a teen myself when the first American Pie came out, I have to admit that I was a total sucker for it. People my age going out and getting wasted? Check. Crazy parties in which all matter of toilet humor based stunts take place? Check. Really good looking girls showing lots of bobbies? CHECK! Hook, line, and sinker they got me!

They got me for the second film as well. But then I kind of grew out of that particular style of film, then came American Wedding. I was hoping that the series would grow with me, and for the most part I thought that it did, even though there were things that the film was sorely lacking in.

This brings us to American Reunion. And oddly enough the movie worked at what it was going for. It tried to show you that everyone grows up and everyone moves on, and at the same time we don‚(TM)t always loose everything that made us what we were. I wanted to really like this movie, and don‚(TM)t get me wrong I did like some parts but in a larger way this movie kind of just felt there.

To be fair, everyone in the film is good in their roles except for Chris Klein who appears to be somehow MORE wooden then he was when he was younger. Eugene Levy on the other hand is really fantastic and to me, he gets the best lines (what few their were), and he gets the best dramatic moments (which are surprisingly heartfelt).

The comedy is just not there for me. There are some moments that made me chuckle and even a few that got legit laughs out of me, but for the most part the funnies fall flat. Seann William Scott effortlessly plays Stiffler and while he is good at it, it just seems like a character that no longer appeals to any part of me, but I can‚(TM)t lay the blame on him for that.

At the end of the day it was a very serviceable nostalgia film (which makes me feel entirely too old). But as a stand alone film it isn‚(TM)t overly funny, or different from the previous films. So if you just want a trip down memory lane than this is for you, but it wasn‚(TM)t for me.

Marvel's The Avengers

The summer blockbuster season for 2012 has officially arrived with Marvel‚(TM)s The Avengers! Of course every year there will be at least one film that comes with a lot of hype behind it. This year there has been a lot of those films coming down the pike. The first one to actually hit cinemas is Joss Whedon‚(TM)s super hero ensemble flick.

In the review that Sean Connelly wrote for Cinema Geekly, he noted that if you come into this movie viewing it as a stand alone film there is a good chance you won‚(TM)t like it very much. But this movie is really meant to be part six in what can essentially be viewed as the closing of the very first chapter of the Marvel Movie Universe.

The Avengers is the culmination of Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. None of the movies on there own are directly linked, but in their own ways they all lead into The Avengers. It should also be noted that all five previous films are good to excellent and if you have not seen them, they are virtually required watching before heading out to see The Avengers.

The action is really spectacular and rivals the Transformers series for sheer craziness, the visual effects are first rate (The Hulk looks better than ever). I did not see the film in 3D (as it is against my religion) but I‚(TM)ve heard that it is the best conversion ever done (if that is your thing).

It can be tough with an ensemble cast to give everyone their fair share without making it seem that way and Whedon and company did a fine job. It never felt like it was Iron Man‚(TM)s movie, or Steve Rogers movie, or Hulk‚(TM)s movie. Everyone got a pretty good amount of screen time, but RDJ‚(TM)s Tony Stark shone above everyone else character wise, but it should be noted that Mark Ruffalo‚(TM)s Bruce Banner is now my favorite interpretation of the character to date.

The movie has plenty of comedy but it isn‚(TM)t to the detriment of the film. One in particular with The Hulk is so cartoonish that normally it would make him bury my face into my hands, but the way it‚(TM)s done, and the placement of the scene itself made it not only funny but pretty damn awesome!

At the end of the day the the outcome is predictable but it is what we expect and want, and obviously with sequels to all of these films on the horizon the door has been left open for more. Joss has not only combined several movies and movie characters into one movie but he has done it almost to perfection.

And as always, Marvel movie rules apply‚¶‚¶. aka‚¶.Stay in your seats during the credits.

The Cabin in the Woods

For those of you who have listened to the Cinema Geekly Podcast you know that I am not a big fan of horror movies. I have been known to enjoy a few here and there but never has it been before happened that I actually went to a theater to see on on the big screen. Well that all changed with TCITW. I heard so much hype over this movie and how great it was that I just could not resist.

This is the first time in the directors chair for Drew Goddard whose only other big time Hollywood job was screenwriting a little known flick called Cloverfield. He also co wrote this movie with Geeky cult favorite and director of The Avengers Joss Whedon. So how did it hold up to all of the hype?

The Cabin In The Woods met my expectations and then surpassed them. This movie was suspenseful, a little scary, and at times laugh out loud hilarious and it would often seamlessly transition these things at a rapid pace.

It is difficult to go to much into any detail here without overtly spoiling the film. So what I can say is that things looked fantastic with the exception of some of CG near the end of the film, some of it looked a little too CGI to me and the movie does not answer some big questions that would arise naturally after viewing the last 15 minutes or so. I think it is also pretty safe to say that if this movie ends up doing a big number money wise, Lionsgate might end up being hard pressed to do a sequel.

The only major star is Chris Hemsworth who is fantastic, as are the rest of the cast. Unlike most horror movies these days Whedon and Goddard really put time and effort into making characters the audience can give a crap about. Ultimately the show is stolen entirely by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford who tend to get the lions share of awesome lines.

If more people can approach the horror genre from this kind of perspective in the future, I will most likely see an increase in the old horror movie collection.


Chronicle delivered in a lot of surprising ways. First and foremost we are looking at a found footage movie featuring a bunch of unknown teen actors who mysteriously gain super powers, and on top of that we are looking at a low budget flick for a super hero movie being pushed into an already clogged comic book culture. This movie (in my eyes) had A LOT working against it.

But I was more than pleasantly surprised by Chronicle. For a movie done with a lot of effects shots for 12 million dollars (I assure you, a small amount by Hollywood standards) the effects looked pretty damn good, but this isn‚(TM)t really a Michael Bay eye candy type of flick. The movie knows it doesn‚(TM)t have another 80 million to work with so it focuses a lot of character development. For me that requires some strong acting and we got it in spades.

In the lead Dane DeHann was utterly great in the role of the kid who is constantly crapped on by his peers and lives in a family being torn apart by booze and a mother slowly dying (from what I believe is cancer but it is never revealed). He has two unlikely friends in is cousin played by Alex Russell, and a popular jock type character played by Micheal B. Jordan (yes THAT Michael Jordan‚¶‚¶..not really). And both are really fantastic as well.

I often found myself empathizing with DeHann‚(TM)s Andrew (going through some rough times as a teen as well) but I found myself attached to all three teens as they fumbled their way through the discovery of their abilities and I was totally enthralled by the time Andrew couldn‚(TM)t cope with his new found popularity.

The best thing about this movie is that it is never fully explained what happened to them, and what the full effects of this really are. The end was clearly left open for more movies (which I can‚(TM)t wait to see) and I have to say that it was a ballsy move, but one that paid off. For a movie with a 12 million dollar budget it ended up pulling in over 120 million worldwide!

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

My love for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‚(TM)s detective truly knows no bounds. I always knew of Holmes as a character but I was never really aware of anything Holmes related until I watched Star Trek The Next Generation in which Holmes was brought up many times. I then read all of the stories I could get my hands on.

Since then I have completely enjoyed the first Holmes movie put forth by Guy Richie and Robert Downey Jr., and I have fallen head over heels for the exceptional BBC series ‚Sherlock‚?. And with ‚A Game Of Shadows‚? I feel no different!

Once again Richie manages to blend great action and dialog with some pretty funny moments, and great dramatic scenes. As with the first movie RDJ and Jude Law have fantastic chemistry but the fun does not end there. Jared Harris (whom I‚(TM)ve grown to like in Mad Men) plays an amazing James Moriarty, and Stephen Fry brings the goods as Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock‚(TM)s older brother).

We did get some more of Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler but she was not in the movie long (much to my disliking). Noomi Rapace who became famous for her roles in the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo movies is the new lady sidekick for Holmes and Watson and she does a fine job, but ultimately nothing was particularly memorable about her character.

Much like the first installment this movie is good to look at. And sure there are a few actions scenes where we get the ‚Sherlock thinks out his plan and we watch it happen in high speed‚?, but it all pays off at the end with Moriarty when it becomes obvious how equal to Holmes he is.

Overall I feel like things slowed down from the first movie pace wise, and I thought it led to a few more lulls in the movie then I would have liked but ultimately this is right up there with the first first film in terms of quality.

The Hunger Games

I‚(TM)m not a book reader so I have no idea what exactly takes place in the novel (but from what I have heard I am left with more confusion). The Hunger Games film was actually penned by the author of the novels, which I‚(TM)d say is a rare sight these days.

This movie left me with questions at the end but not the good kind of questions like ‚what will happen next?‚? No I was left with questions like where exactly is this taking place, and when is it taking place. The movie is extremely vague about where we really are but apparently the novel gives you all the info you could want so I‚(TM)m surprised that the author of the books and the movie script would not want to more perfectly craft our setting. Ultimately though that is a minor quibble in what is another otherwise good movie.

In fact all I have are minor quibbles. I thought Jennifer Lawrence was awesome in this movie and I totally forgot that she was Mystique in the X-Men First Class film last year, in fact I thought everyone was quite good in this flick except for Josh Hutcherson who just seemed to be there to me.

I know it is just a minor quibble but the names of the people in this movie drove me nuts! I couldn‚(TM)t figure out weather or not Suzanne Collins was an 11 year old girl who just liked to name things randomly, or if we lived in some kind of future so terrible that we let pretentious Hollywood stars name all of our children. It‚(TM)s something I can look pass but jeeez people, common names don‚(TM)t change that much over the span of a hundred or even two hundred years.

The flick itself is well made, everything looks great. There is a scene during the games where there is a lot of dark and a lot of quick movements which I suppose is designed to create or enhance tension but for me I was spending more time on trying to actually make out was was going on. What I love is the scenes where they remove the audio and force you to focus of the images and the faces of the actors. Sometimes you don‚(TM)t need any bells and whistles to really sell a scene, just good acting.

Overall this was a pretty good film, and considering I had a low bar walking in I‚(TM)m happy to say I left wanting to see more of the story.

What Dreams May Come

Like some before him and many after him Robin Williams from time to time will take the leap from comedian to comedic actor to serious dramatic actor. Sometimes these people fail but Robin Williams has a knack for really doing this well.

In this movie Rob plays Chris who (along with his wife) suffers the loss of their two children in a car accident. Some years later Chris himself ironically dies in much the same way leaving his wife alone. The movie really takes off (both in story and visually). Chris experiences his afterlife which is done fantastically and is still pretty striking visually (given the advancements in technology). He soon realizes that he and his wife have a strong bond even in death, but things change when she takes her own life and ends up in a ‚hell like place‚?. The movie is then his quest to venture there and bring their family back together.

If you are not a person of faith, fear not! This movie never really came across as some kind of religiously themed soap box affair, in fact rarely is faith ever really mentioned. The move while fantastic looking does has some flaws, name the hamming acting of Cuba Gooding Jr. whom I can never seem to enjoy in a movie.

There are also a few goofy scenes of Chris exploring his new found afterlife that came off as cheesy to me and probably would have been served to rest on the cutting room floor. The creepily named Max Von Sydow churns in a typical old wise man/guide type character but I still can‚(TM)t help but like him.

Overall this movie will likely tug at your heartstrings and is likely best served to be watched with your significant other so as to inform them that you too would be willing to go to hell to save them. Seriously though this is a pretty solid film that is definitely worth a rental or it is readily available to add to your Netflix queue!

The Muppets
The Muppets(2011)

As a kid I have plenty of fond memories of The Muppet Show on TV, and I have fond memories of most of the films in the Muppet franchise. And lets be open and honest here, I am still really mad that Muppet Babies isn‚(TM)t available on DVD or Netflix.

A few years ago we first heard rumblings of a new Muppet movie and I will admit that I cringed at first. My mind went directly to some of the lesser Muppet films (in terms of quality) and given the lapse of time between films I figured this was doomed to failure.

Thankfully I watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and then I heard that Jason Segel would be the man behind this project and my hopes rose by a substantial amount.

First let me just say that this movie is excellent! If you are an old school fan of The Muppets you sill see all of the care put into this film, it captures all of the best elements of the very best Muppets films and tends to exclude most of the worst.

There are a lot of call backs and funny moments, and there is a giant host of cameos (another thing that made Muppet films great). Virtually everything is piratical with a few very well done CGI shots. Segel and Amy Adams are great together, and they even do a good job of introducing a new character in Walter.

Ultimately I think this would have made Jim Henson proud and it is a must have for anyone who is a fan of The Muppets, or just wants a good family friendly film to watch with the your kids.

The Adventures of Tintin

I‚(TM)m sure I am not the absolute last person jumping aboard the Tintin bandwagon but I‚(TM)m sure I‚(TM)ve got to be near the end of the line somewhere. Even my life partner remembered that she saw a Tintin cartoon on PBS years ago (apparently it is available on Netflix as well).

Well from a movie standpoint I can‚(TM)t pass on a film involving Steven Speilberg, Peter Jackson, Steven Moffat, and Edgar Wright all on the production side.

This is a beautiful animated film. You could toss everything else out the window and just sit back and watch it as virtually every scene is a digital work of art. This movie was intended for 3D but I am not a supporter of the format and I saw it in 2D but I enjoyed it all the same.

We have a few funny moments and I must admit I was expecting more but as it turns out this less of a child friendly story (even though it is PG) I think adults will enjoy the story more, or perhaps slightly older children.

The voice acting is solid and features Jaime Bell as Tintin, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Dainel Craig as the baddie.

I found the story pretty engaging and the actions scenes exciting. I thought it was paced perfectly as well. It is never a bad thing when you can say ‚WOW that was a really fun movie‚? after the credits start to roll (and I don‚(TM)t often say it).

The ending also leaves the door open for more films (which are already in the works). This movie might not have been super huge in the states but it did insanely well overseas and you can expect further installments and I‚(TM)ll be looking forward to them.

Puss in Boots

Say what you will about the second Shrek or the third or even the fourth. No matter what you say about them good or bad you must always give Antonio Banderas props as he voiced Puss In Boots and in almost every instance would steal scenes non stop. So much so that eventually the characters popularity warranted its own film.

Of course the question remains: How did Puss In Boots do on his own with our Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy there? Well the answer is that Puss In Boots did just fine!

Unlike Shrek (and kind of to my surprise) there were not nearly as many pop culture references as you would expect. There was however a hilarious cat-nip/weed joke just randomly tossed in there that had me laughing hysterically.

The animation is top notch (which I guess is not as hard to achieve as it use to be) and the voice cast is really awesome from top to bottom with Salma Heyak, Zach Galifianakis, and Billy Bob Thorton to just name a few‚¶. oh and a cameo voice role from Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro.

The story revolves Puss teaming up with one time friend and enemy Humpty Dumpty to find the Goose that laid the Golden Egg so that they may attain riches and save their old hometown but things quickly go bad and a lot of typical and predictable plot points come and go amid a lot of funny stuff. The story itself (which is fine) only would take us so far if it wasn‚(TM)t well written and performed and of course having the comedy work goes a long way as well.

This isn‚(TM)t a blow away awesome animated flick like Toy Story or Rango but it is a really solid movie fit for both young and old.


Martin Scorsese and ‚PG family film‚? are phrases you normally don‚(TM)t associate with each other. I think of Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Gangs of New York, The Departed, hell even Shutter Island when I think about Marty.

Needless to say my curiosity was piqued when I saw this trailer and saw his name attached as the director. Would this be a brilliant and ballsy new direction for him to take on and conquer or would it be an epic disaster the likes of which would be talked about for decades to come?

The truth for me is that it is somewhere in the middle. I‚(TM)m not a classic Scorsese fanboy so I‚(TM)m not entirely married to the idea that every Scorsese picture has to be about violence and East Coast gangsters.

At its core Hugo is actually about preserving old films (a topic Scorsese is a strong supporter of). It centers around a boy named Hugo scrounging around a train station for parts he needs to steal to make an old robot work again. The robot was left by his father and Hugo is convinced that his late father has left him a message inside this robot.

The cast is superb with Asa Butterfield playing Hugo. But there are also good performances from Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chole Mortez, Jude Law, and Ray Winstone.

This movie was primarily shot for 3D and even though the film looks gorgeous apparently even Scorsese himself couldn‚(TM)t himself by including some standard ‚look at stuff flying by you in 3D!!!!!!!‚? tropes.

I think you might be able to tell by now that even though the movie was well crafted and the parts well played that at the end of the day I found this to just be merely good. I don‚(TM)t think the film was particularly great but it had a lot of little good moments. It struggled to keep my attention early on but picked up near the end of the story, so you‚(TM)ll just have to hold on.

For me this will go down as a forgettable movie that in a few years time I will likely give the ‚oh yeah, that movie was okay‚? treatment.

In Time
In Time(2011)

I am quickly becoming a huge fan of the one time teen heart-throb and boy band teen idol Justin Timberlake. Granted in my teen years I hated this man with only the kind of veracity that an angsty teenager can provide but I‚(TM)ve softened on him over the years.

Sure I groaned when I heard he was going to do some movies but I‚(TM)ve eaten plenty of crow over it. Timberlake is a seriously good actor who continues to develop his chops as he makes more pictures. Recently he and Mila Kunis tore things up in their somewhat non-traditional romantic comedy Friends With Benefits (which I loved).

This time around it is an action film and it has a lot of sci-fi elements to it. It takes place in a future where the rich have figured out to to control the poor by making time our currency. Want a cup of coffee? That‚(TM)s 3 minutes off your life. Granted I‚(TM)m not making the most elegant case for the story and it does have its flaws but it is really entertaining.

The movie isn‚(TM)t perfect and sometimes it becomes a little dull in places. And of course it will run into more than its fair share of action cliches but in my opinion the good outweighs the bad by a decent margin. For most this will likely be a Netflix watch or at best a rental, but either way I can think worse ways to burn a couple of hours.

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

Having seen both HAKGTWC and HAKEFGB (excellent name shortening there huh?) I felt is was my duty as a staunch completionist to sit down and watch the latest incarnation of the Harold and Kumar franchise.

I didn‚(TM)t see this in 3D but I wish I had just because they made it painfully obvious that this was more of a movie that kind of mocks 3D as opposed to those crazy people who take it seriously.

The clear highlights in this film were the references to all of the past films, Neil Patrick Harris and every second of screen time he has, and of course Danny Trejo wearing the absolute best and without a doubt tacky Christmas shirts. There is also a pretty decent Patton Oswald cameo at the start of the film as well.

To me the first film was a pretty flawless comedy that (as an added bonus) actually featured two guys who aren‚(TM)t white or black in the leads. The second was hit and miss with the funny, and this installment was no different. Don‚(TM)t get me wrong though there was a lot of laughing, and I had a great time watching it, there were just moments that weren‚(TM)t all that great or could have been left behind all together.

There is actually a pretty kind and sweet story about friendship hidden among the clouds of pot smoke and claymation wangs. In fact story wise it might be the best of the three, but we aren‚(TM)t really going for a solid story, we go for the large amounts of funny.

All in all I‚(TM)d say this is a worthy chapter and a pretty good close to the trilogy (if they choose to end it there) but as you might expect, there were a few doors left open for more films.

War Horse
War Horse(2011)

Right off the bat I have to say that this film deserves every single one of the nominations it has gotten on the technical side of film making. Editing wise, cinematography wise, this film is a tour de force in that regard, absolutely awesome to look at!

That alone doesn‚(TM)t make for a great movie of course. War Horse isn‚(TM)t a great movie but it is a very good movie. And I should mention that it is better than I expected it to be. Based on the trailer you get a Free Willy vibe about this whole ordeal, that you will get some sort of super smart horse that is trying to find its way back home. The movie itself never plays like that, perhaps there is a twinge of fate in the subtext somewhere but you get a general sense that this all comes about by happenstance.

This is a family film after all to while the World War I battle scenes are epic and stunning to look at they won‚(TM)t capture the true horror of being in no mans land like what we saw in Saving Private Ryan. But then again this isn‚(TM)t really a movie about WWI.

You also get some good performances from Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, and Tom Hiddleston. Yes, this movie is a little over the top at times with the sentimentality but at least wears that badge loud and proud so this way you know what you are getting right away.

Again this fits well within in the Spielberg pantheon of films, but it isn‚(TM)t his best work but it is certainly very good.


Okay so I know this is a Lars von Trier film and I am not an ‚artsy fartsy‚? cinema geek but I heard this had some SciFi elements to it, and I heard it had a good cast, and I heard that Kirsten Dunst had a career performance in it. All of these things were good enough for me to give it a watch.

Well spoiler alert: It does have all of those things. There are some SciFi elements (what with a rouge planet about to collide with Earth). There is a great cast including Kiefer Sutherland and John Hurt.And on top of it all Dust is pretty good in her role.

Take all of that away and I am left with one of the most boring flicks I have seen in recent memory. The movie is only two hours but it felt like 48 hours. Saying it moved at a snails pace would only serve to undervalue the true speed of snails.

The first ten minutes of this film feature a musical arrangement set to pretty scenes with people or animals moving is super slow motion and it quite possibly the most pretentious thing I have ever seen in any medium. The pace was so slow and boring I found myself getting easily distracted and largely not even remembering what was going on, or if I did I didn‚(TM)t care to retain it for very long.

I will say this. The film is pretty to look at. Beautiful scenery, gorgeous visual effects, and the end of the film with the planet collision was actually pretty breathtaking. But that alone can‚(TM)t make up for an hour and forty minutes of sleep inducing drivel.

As I said, Dunst was great in her role, it was well acted. In the end it was the style von Trier prefers that makes this movie virtually un-watchable for me. I think I‚(TM)ll stick to JJ Abrams when I want my SciFi fix. What‚(TM)s next? Martin Scorsese making a kids movie?


Seth Rogan went through his really cool supporting actor phase into his mega starring role phase into his ‚seriously this guy again‚? phase and he is finally back in the place that suits him best. I‚(TM)m not saying Seth Rogan is bad or anything like that in fact I like most of his work, but I think he is at his peak when he is in a supporting role.

The trailer for this film gives you a couple of supplanted ideas right away. 1. This is a comedy and 2. This is a Seth Rogan/Joseph Gordon-Levitt buddy film. Both are kind of misleading. The film is much more about JGL who plays a guy so straight laced he doesn‚(TM)t cross a traffic-less street unless the crosswalk sign says to. He doesn‚(TM)t smoke or drink and he is young yet he has a life threatening form of cancer. Rogan is in the film quite a bit but he really is just the supporting best friend.

Oh and the movie is funny but it isn‚(TM)t a comedy. Sure there is a lot of one liners in the trailer but those are (by-in-large) all of the jokes in the entire film. This is more of a up and down drama about a young man who has yet to experience much of anything in life trying to cope with the fact that it might just be over before it really even gets started.

The soundtrack and the score are fitting and beautiful, the acting is completely solid and unfortunately Gordon-Levitt will likely be overlooked come awards season as will the director Will Reiser. But everyone should be given credit for doing a film about such a serious topic while masterfully weaving comedic elements in there to soften it up.

Card Subject To Change

If you aren‚(TM)t into the world of Pro Wrestling there is a very good chance you will never watch this, if you are a casual fan you might end up overlooking this documentary because its primary focus is on Pro Wrestling indy scene.

If you are a pro wrestling fan then there is a good chance you have seen Barry Blaustein‚(TM)s Beyond The Mat which is still considered to be on of the best Pro Wrestling documentaries available. I myself was a fanatic at one point and even co-ran an indy promotion myself once upon a time so I am familiar with this world. I have seen quite a few internet documentaries on indy wrestling and a few that have popped up on MTV or AMC.

Card Subject To Change starts off much like those documentaries does. A million things I‚(TM)ve seen before and a focus on a lot of people I didn‚(TM)t really care for but as the film went on it expanded out a bit and really showcased a lot of once big wrestling names.

The larger story line seemed to revolve around wrestler Trent Acid and his eventual spiral out of control ultimately ending in his death as a result of drugs. In some ways it parallels Beyond The Mat‚(TM)s arc with Jake Roberts and while Acid‚(TM)s moments weren‚(TM)t as captivating or surreal as its counterparts it is no less sad.

This isn‚(TM)t as good as Beyond The Mat is, the film makers aren‚(TM)t as skilled at telling a story through their work but that shouldn‚(TM)t be taken to mean that I don‚(TM)t recommend this. Beyond The Mat was great and Card Subject To Change is really good. If you consider yourself a fan then this is a must watch.


Contagion is strange cross between a big budget Hollywood drama and a Discovery Channel documentary. I mean that in the best possible way so try not to let that put you off from seeing it. It just isn‚(TM)t your typical film.

As you have gathered by the synopsis this film follows one main character played aptly by Matt Damon and some bits and pieces here and there that represent the CD and the WHO plus a great little sub-plot with Jude Law who by far stands out the most in this picture as a conspiracy theroist blogger who thinks the Government is behind this all. The cast is also pretty robust featuring the likes of Lawrence Fishburne, and Kate Winslet.

It is an odd film because like anything remotely close to this style or genre you would expect some things added in for dramatic flare like an espionage sub-plot or a car chase or a fight scene or maybe even an explosion or two but you will find none of those things in this movie.

There is a feeling of natural drama though and even though the mystery of this virus is eventually discovered and revealed to us there is no huge crescendo bringing us to a peak of dramatic tension. In fact it feels very much what it might actually be like if something like this occurred.

To some people this might not be what you go to the movies to see but I found it refreshing. Director Stephen Soderbergh wanted to make this movie look and feel as close to what we would actually experience ourselves should something like this actually happen.

From a technical standpoint everything looked and felt great. The acting was generally always above average and while it doesn‚(TM)t contain the panache of some of its counterparts I still think it was a great watch and I would highly recommend a viewing!


I am a Baseball fanatic so I am already kind of predisposed to liking this film based solely on the subject matter. So when I tell you how much I liked this film it is going to be difficult for you as the reader to see through my bias, but I assure you that while I like pretty much every Baseball movie ever made (yes Major League 3 I am looking at you) there are too many that I like as much as Moneyball.

First off the writing of this film was superb! But I guess you can expect great dialogue from a writing team that has produced Schindler‚(TM)s List, Gangs of New York, A Few Good Men, and The Social Network. When a movie like this (with very few points of action or visual effects) you have to rely on good a compelling script and they certainly provided there.

While this movie is hung up on telling the story of A‚(TM)s GM Billy Beane and his focus on evaluating players based on Sabermetrics I still think that stats might be a good preliminary measuring stick for a guy on paper but you are always taking a risk and there is never a sure thing. But if the guy who wrote a fascinating story about Facebook, I guess I shouldn‚(TM)t be surprised he was able to do it with Baseball stats as well.

Jonah Hill is the best I have seen him in a 100% non-comedic role, and Brad Pitt is turning in to a Leonardo DiCaprio type actor who seems to get better and better the older he gets. And it will be interesting to see just how well this film does come awards season.

All of the actors who played the pivotal members of that 2002 team were also pretty serviceable. And if your a Baseball geek there are all sorts of little bits placed here and there that I certainly enjoyed a lot.

The film is also technically well made and looks amazing. The lighting to the ball games themselves are a thing to behold. I can‚(TM)t say that I like Moneyball better than say Field of Dreams but it is a very close second.

And for those of you who are not Baseball fans I wouldn‚(TM)t worry too much about the topics covered in this film. I think this movie is perfectly accessible to anyone who enjoys good film making and good storytelling.


Sometimes there is just nothing like watching a movie that was considered ballsy at the time it was made and watching it with the context you have some 20 years later. Philadelphia tackled the matters of homosexuality and AIDS in the early 90‚≤s when such things were insanely taboo.

There were points throughout this movie where it was almost comical that people were that terrified, indeed watching this brought back some of my own memories about that that time. In some ways it is amazing how things have changed and haven‚(TM)t changed about society.

Tom Hanks won an Oscar for this and deservedly so, this was an absolutely amazing performance, and even though he has gone on since to have other fantastic roles I still think this one might be his best out of the bunch.

Denzel was Denzel he was great but I thought he was quietly overshadowed by Hanks. And not enough credit can be given to the supporting cast in this film from Antonio Banderas to Charles Napier, to Mary Steenburgen.

I‚(TM)ll give a little bit here and say that courtroom drama is not everyone cup of tea and it really isn‚(TM)t mine either but I can honestly say that this was a film that kept you engaged. Sometimes it feels like if you don‚(TM)t have some kind of fight scene, or a huge scream and yell argument that you can‚(TM)t drive the tension high enough but this movie did so in spades without any of that.

The only nitpicks I have with this movie is the constant use of various operatic pieces in the score near the end of the film. Nails on a chalk board! Seriously that was my only major point of contention. This is worth seeing if you haven‚(TM)t done so already.


Now a lot of you movie fans will read this synopsis and immediately draw several allusions to the 1988 Baseball classic Bull Durham with Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins. It should be noted that Pastime did indeed come out a few years after Durham but the story Pastime is adopted from was written long before Durham was made.

That being said I think I like Bull Durham better even though I like this film taking place in the tail end of the 50‚≤s and have the relationship take place with and older white guy and a young African American kid just starting out at a time when Baseball was still getting through its bigoted phase.

The movie has a very ‚indy‚? feel to it while also doing enough work to make it feel like the the 50‚≤s. And telling a minor league ball story from this era is a cool hook (one that got me watching in the first place). The performances are pretty good as well. The cast is mostly made up of character actors and are somewhat familiar but no big names unless you count Jeffery Tambor (Arrested Development).

The movie also plays with traditional movie tropes that you are use to seeing in sports films like this. I won‚(TM)t go into spoiler territory but for example Roy-Dean made it to the majors but he was never a great player that just got hurt or too old like in so many others. He was up for one game and gave up a grand slam and never saw the prime time again. He wasn‚(TM)t MLB material and he just sat around in the minors until he couldn‚(TM)t hack it there either, but even though he didn‚(TM)t have the tools he had the knowledge and tried to pass it on even though he was the proverbial punching bag on his team.

For its good it also had moments where the movie just didn‚(TM)t feel complete to me, like it was missing something, maybe more character development or back story would have really sucked me in more. It is a good movie that deserves a look especially if you enjoy Baseball!

30 Minutes or Less

Most of the other critics out there got this one wrong. Ruben Fleischer directed another Jesse Eisenberg flick ‚Zombieland‚?. Now make no mistake this is no Zombieland but 30 Minutes Or Less is a great comedy!

I can often find Aziz Ansari to be REALLY REALLY annoying, and I‚(TM)ll give him credit he is a funny guy and it shows through but most of the time (for me) it is hidden under ‚nails on a chalkboard‚? character that he does. But in this movie even though he seems to be playing the same character again it didn‚(TM)t have that effect on me.

Perhaps it was just another round of amazing performances by Jesse Eisenberg (who granted plays the same character a lot too) and Danny McBride who is quickly becoming one of my favorite comedic actors period!

Unlike a majority of critics I never found the humor to be low brow or particularly crude long enough for me remember it here. I do remember a lot of laugh out loud moments and a pretty well told story.

Granted the idea for this story isn‚(TM)t exactly hilarious but the writers and the rest of the cast and crew surprisingly made it work!

The Oxford Murders

I am a sucker for ‚whodunit‚? movies. And I am an even bigger sucker for movies that have a convoluted puzzle to solve (Sherlock Holmes). Plus I can‚(TM)t get enough of it when it involves delving into mathematics and philosophy. You‚(TM)d think I‚(TM)d give this movie highest possible rating, but alas I must be honest.

The Oxford Murders is good, it isn‚(TM)t great but it certainly isn‚(TM)t as bad as some of the other reviews I‚(TM)ve read have let on. John Hurt turns in a great performance here and even though you don‚(TM)t see Elijah Wood pop up all that often he is always pretty consistent when he does.

This movie was an awesome idea that never fully reached its full potential in my humble opinion. But I must admit that I am such a sucker for the kind of discussion we see in the first five minutes of the film that I wish I could have just watched two hours of that.

The movie lags at certain points, and some portions of the movie seemed a bit pointless and just distracted from the overall narrative. And it should be noted that the plot does get extremely convoluted and the mystery twists and turns and it should also be noted that if you don‚(TM)t follow along easily you will get lost. In the end this movie looks great, has good performances, and is technically well put together but depending on your tastes you‚(TM)ll either enjoy it or fall asleep half way through.

Another Earth

Despite my dislike of the end of the film I have to say that I really enjoyed what I would call an art house Science Fiction movie.

The bottom line is that they just don't make character driven films like this in the mainstream anymore which is a shame. This movie deserves much more credit heaped on top of it. The performances were great and story so engaging that I found myself on the edge of my seat (quite literally) waiting for the payoffs this movie was promising on giving me.

I wasn't let down at all save for the ending of the movie which felt like one of those hipster "endings are overrated" things where you aren't really given a real endings. Perhaps because the writer thought that endings so rarely satisfy the viewers expectations, but somehow I think an artistic choice, a choice I don't agree with. Even films like Black Swan or The Wrestler will give you something satisfying even if it isn't a well tied up conclusion. Another Earth doesn't even give you that.

The way the ending is handled is largely the reason behind this score. Had I enjoyed it better you could be easily looking at a four or even a four and a half. I would still highly suggest trying to find this one and give it a look, you might have a different opinion about the conclusion.

The Good Son
The Good Son(1993)

So Macaulay Culkin was trying to unwrap the typecasting that he would surely get after being in Uncle Buck, and playing an iconic holiday character in the first two Home Alone movies. He plays a crazy territorial child who wants his Mommy all to himself going to such lengths as to kill his younger brother and attempting to kill his younger sister (both of which were played by his actual siblings).

When Elijah Woods comes to town after his Mom dies he kind of takes on the psycho kids Mom as his mother figure which of course puts him in the line of fire as well.

To be fair the kids had fine performances and the adults were the less impressive ones here. But the story is so ridiculous its hard to not giggle at it, and having the benefit of hindsight ol' Kevin McCallister's attempt to avoid the dreaded typecast failed as all I could do is picture him screaming with his hands on his cheeks.

I'll give him credit for wanting to do something to break out of that mold, but having him act like an ass (this time against innocents instead of criminals) just didn't do it.   However there is a novelty to seeing the kid from Home Alone smoke a cig and say "fuck" which had to be the only thing that earned this movie its "R" rating, now days it would be a moderate PG-13.

Cowboys & Aliens

This movie delivers its title. Much like Snakes on a Plane gave you snakes on a plane, Cowboys & Aliens gives you a movie with cowboys and aliens in it. It also gives you some cool visual effects, but that is about all it gives you.

I think this movie is getting a lower rating from me partially because I expected something better from it. With a fully loaded cast and crew I don't find it hard to believe that most people were expecting more. When you have names like Spielberg, Grazer, Howard, and Johnny Fav behind the scenes and Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, and Sam Rockwell in front I'd say it is reasonable to expect a great movie.

Instead you just get a well made (technically) movie with performances that never made me care either way what would happen next. I never felt like there was any depth to anyone and you could have pretty much replaced everyone on the cast and put no-names in there and it would have delivered the same result. Sam Rockwell most of all who I had totally forgotten was in the film until the end credits.

I thought the name was a clever little tongue-in-cheek reference to playing Cowboys & Indians however it was actually just an advanced warning of what would be delivered: Cowboys are there, Aliens are there, they fight, the end. I felt let down...


Dark, disturbing, funny, and touching all at the same time. The movie was like a roller coaster that just kept going up and never went down until the end.

The performances were just fantastic all around, and the last few minutes took the film from three to three and a half stars for me. Strongly recommended.

Green Lantern

The Nolan curse continues its unstoppable reign of terror. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of staple DC characters getting a good movie treatment these days unless your name is Bruce Wayne.

I'm not a huge fan of Ryan Reynolds (although I liked him quite a bit in Buried). He does have his moments here don't get me wrong, I just never find myself getting all that invested in his characters ie Green Lantern. The movie itself is a roller coaster ride of confusion. Even though I am not familiar with the Green Lantern mythos, I was able to pick up on the plot points just fine.

What got me was the shifting in tone. At times it felt like it wanted to be Batman Begins, and Batman & Robin all at once. It is possible to blend goofy and serious into a movie but it has to be done well and I didn't think they managed it here.

The look of the film is also hit and miss. Some of the visuals and action scenes are really great, others not-so-much. I wasn't buying the full CGI suit either. At times it looked okay, but most of the time it just looked like average CGI (and that sticks out). I think a mixture of CGI and an actual costume would have looked dramatically better.

Green Lantern isn't a terrible movie, just a slightly below average one. As a casual fan of comic book movies I found it to be a passable time killer, but nothing I plan to add to my Blu-Ray collection.

Cars 2
Cars 2(2011)

I am a HUGE fan of Pixar and their movies. They have mastered the art of creating a kids movie that appeals to adults, and not only that but they will grow with the kids who watched it in their youth and they will find new ways to appreciate it when they get older.

I thought the original Cars was okay but clearly the weakest of their films. And while the reviews for Cars 2 have been largely bad I have to say that while it is a lesser film it really isn't all that much worse than the first.

Visually it it a Pixar it is gorgeous looking. But that can only take you so far (I'm looking you Ga'Hoole). As you would expect Mater is the downfall of this movie. He is a tolerable (at best) second banana type character that wasn't so overbearing in the first film. This time it's his picture, and while kids may love him, and play with Mater toys, it's a pretty awful movie going experience for parents.

That being said, Michel Caine is in this movie and he is pretty great. Plus there is some charm, and some comedy, and a story about oil vs. electricity as a means to power cars. I don't think this is quite as bad as the other critics have said, but at the end of the day it is just simply there. It will make kids laugh, it will sell toys, but I don't think my daughters will be watching this years from now like they will with the Toy Story series.

Thelma & Louise

Just go a head and toss this into the "they don't make 'em like they use to" pile. At first you wouldn't think that this particular style of movie would fit in my wheel house and neither did I at first, but you can't deny greatness.

With Ridley Scott directing and astoundingly great performances turned in by everyone from Geena Davis, to Michael Madsen it is hard to not like this picture. Things do start off a bit slow while you are introduced to the characters but as you go on you see how drastically they change (especially that of Davis's persona).   Plenty of peak and valleys and ultimately just a fantastic character study.

The movie carries with it that signature early 90's look and feel and everything from the locations to Hans Zimmer's score are all done quite well.  I can't help but wonder what the general reaction was to the climax of the film back then, it certainly works and doesn't work much in the same way The Wrestler or Black Swan's endings work. It's kind of a fill-in-the-blanks ending that both makes sense but kind of frustrates you because you can't see more of it.

The Tooth Fairy

I had absolutely no plans to watch this movie but my 8 year old wanted to see it and it was on HBO. So I gave it a shot.....

It's about as bad as you'd think..... so much so that I don't even feel the need to run down all of things that you could easily predict within the first few minutes.

This really has nothing for adults, but it's a good movie for kids with some 8 year old level humor in there. Dwayne Johnson is charming, and you can't help but like him but overall this film was never going to be something adults would be clamoring to watch with their kids.

Then again that may have just been the plan.

Apollo 18
Apollo 18(2011)

The trailer looked really impressive it really did. Add to that the fact that I am a space nut and stuff like this gets me really excited! This film ultimately did not.
The actors are unknowns but I thought the performances were okay. Warren Christie plays the lead role of Ben Anderson and while the story isn‚(TM)t specifically about him per say the movie seems to gravitate around him.
As for the look of the film, I got a little tired of the ‚found footage‚? look, I was hoping from time to time that we would jump out of the found film and into the real situation. The film makers certainly went to a lot of trouble to make the film have an authentic look and feel to it and the last five to ten minutes or so of the movie was actually pretty darn great.
Unfortunately the rest of the film didn‚(TM)t hold up to that last little bit. It isn‚(TM)t a scary movie, and while it is kind of sci-fi in a lot of ways it wasn‚(TM)t the kind that really keeps me glued to my seat, I felt restless a lot just waiting for something to happen. The premise is a good one I think, but they way they went about it just didn‚(TM)t gel for me.
I‚(TM)m not sure if I disliked this movie because it was slow and kind of uninteresting or if it was because it ended right when it was starting to get good‚¶. The truth is that it is probably a bit of both. Once again a great concept for a story with sub-par execution.

Attack the Block

The fact that this movie only received a limited release, and made a scant million dollars is practically criminal. With any luck they will find a huge audience in the Blu-Ray/DVD market.

The movie itself largely centers around a group of British teenagers who you think at first glance are idiotic thugs, but you quickly realize that while they aren't particularly great kids in the "Leave it to Beaver" sense they are just teens and getting through life in a tough part of town.

As all kids do they eventually run afoul of some aliens and things go down hill from there. In all seriousness the aliens in this movie are great looking, and completely non traditional (both in look, and in their motivations).

There is a great comedic edge to the film with quite a few pop culture references tossed in for some laughs and the addition of Nick Frost lends to that quite a bit.

The main actors are largely unknowns especially to an American audience but they were all quite impressive with John Boyega and Luke Treadaway being the stand outs for me. Nick Frost wasn't exactly playing his usual dimwitted role but something similar. More of a smarter-than-he-looks guy.

The movie looks great from a visual standpoint, all the locations really brought you into the movie. I can't really say there are any negatives, I'm sure you can find a few things about this to quibble over but nothing more than a minor issue at best.

If you can hold on long enough to actually grasp all the British slang (which there is a ton of) then you're really going to enjoy this film.

Real Steel
Real Steel(2011)

Watching the trailer for this I wasn't expecting much, in fact i was expecting to not watch it. But I will go a head and say now that some of the good reviews this received changed my mind.

After seeing I have to admit that they got it right. This is a really silly premise (I mean come on the Bing Arena *rimshot*). But it takes that silly premise and it takes what is an extremely obvious plot and it makes a good movie out of it.

Yes, there are definitely some cheese worthy moments in this but they aren't done overly so, they tend to just sit in the background where you notice them but they don't bother you. And most definitely there are points when you know exactly what will happen next but unlike a lot of movies Real Steel does them well and I find that I can forgive predictability if it is done right.

Hugh Jackman plays an almost unbelievably unlikable character that you of course grow to like by the end of the film. I found his performance to be pretty steady. Dakota Goyo who plays his son is surprisingly good. I wouldn't say he was as great as the kids from Super 8 but I really thought he did well.

You almost get the feeling they are setting up for a sequel with the ending which I can honestly say I wouldn't mind giving a shot too. Chalk up another for the "movie was better then the trailer led on" file.

Friends With Benefits

I would be sold on all ROMCOM's if they were made like this one was. In most of this films ilk you get a forced feeling. Forced comedy, forced chemistry ect ect.

None of that came to me in this movie. Mila Kunis was amazing, and if you don't like Timberlake by now I'm not sure what to tell you. They were both great together and funny, and it actually felt pretty real.

Woody Harelson by the way just about stole the entire film with a slew of one-liners.

Yes, this is a ROMCOM so yes even though they make fun of cliched ROMCOM moments they actually have some as well, but they infuse with just the right tone to make it work. I never rolled my eyes at this movie once, which is more than I can say for other ROMCOM's that I actually liked.

Red State
Red State(2011)

This isn't Kevin Smith's best movie. It doesn't even crack my top three, but Red State is pretty damn solid.

He gets some brownie points for doing something that seems outside the norm for him and it mostly does well. Michael Parks, John Goodman, and Melissa Leo turn in great performances. I thought some of the younger actors had their moments but I didn't feel they were as consistent.

Kevin tried to input some humor into the film to try and cut the tensions a little bit, but in some areas the humor sort of felt like it didn't belong there. But overall that is a minor quibble.

I didn't mind the change in tone (save for a few comedic beats) I thought it all flowed quite well.

Your Highness

This movie was full of surprises. Upon seeing the trailer I really wanted to see this, upon seeing more I decided better of it as it didn't look nearly as good as I originally thought.

That being said I'm glad I finally got around to seeing it. It isn't great, but it certainly has its funny moments. It clearly dripping with cheese ball moments on purpose. While things weren't totally over done it felt like they pushed that envelope a time or two more than they should.

There is certainly a novelty to this kind of film and I can't imagine the sequel being anything other than a total retread so I'm hoping they don't go there. For what it was, it was enjoyable. I'd say it's worth a rental at least.

The Conspirator

A superbly crafted movie. Well made from head to toe. Sadly a film from this period is more likely to be passed over for a slightly less interesting story with more suspense and explosions.

The story of Mary Suratt still holds lessons that people can see today about how many people wish freedoms only apply to the situations you want them too. If its inconvenient then it's okay to throw it out a window.

From McAvoy to Penn, to Wood, all the way down to Colm Meany this is a well acted film. And this joins the ranks of my favorite Civil War era films ever.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I should preface this with the fact that I have never been a big fan of the POTA franchise. I saw and enjoyed the original to an extent but never watched the sequels. And I regretfully watched the Tim Burton remake.

But this is not only an excellent reboot to the franchise it was just a really great movie. It took something unbelievable and made it plausible (at least for the course of the movie). It never lost my attention and it makes me want to see much more.

Andy Serkis deserves some widespread recognition. First with Gollum, then King Kong, and now Cesar, Serkis has turned what some might have thought to be a gimmick in to a viable art form. He has brought remarkable performances and humanity in to digital characters and should be considered a pioneer in some ways.

The only point in which I though the movie dragged was James Franco's hit or miss acting. Sometimes I really felt it, other times it just felt like he was reading from a page with nothing really behind it, but that is a small quibble in an otherwise great film!

Robin Hood
Robin Hood(2010)

It pains me to give this such a low rating. The cast is stellar, the director is a very good one, the technical aspects of this are really really good.

But at the end of the day this bored me to tears. It never really seemed to get going. Yes, this was nowhere near as silly as say Robin Hood: POT but at the same time it failed to set the exciting tone you expect from a Robin story.

I think that if the pace had been ramped up a bit we would not only be watching a more entertaining film, but a much improved all around film.

Love and Other Drugs

It definitely has some standard ROMCOM elements in it but it is largely a more adult oriented story that actually does a good job of staying away Knocked Up territory when it comes to raunchiness.

Jake Gyllenhaal is okay in this and is likable enough. Anne Hathaway is very good at acting and she plays a much deeper character than Jake's "Jaime". The movie looks good and has a great soundtrack, and the supporting cast is both great and funny.

The movie lost me at the end a little bit with its a little too overdone romantic film ending (which it feels like I've in every romance film ever made). For me that's what stops this from being anything higher than a three star film.

Captain America: The First Avenger

I went into this both hopeful (because the other Avengers films have made good) and apprehensive. Like Thor, I am not familiar with (or a big fan of) Captain America. And while I liked Evans in his limited role in Scott Pilgrim, he still has that whole "Fantastic Four" thing hanging over his head.

I'm happy to say he over came that in this film. The absolute very end of the film kind of came out of nowhere but it ends up being a minor quibble next to a great plot, score, and overall tone. This carried some kind of great quasi "Raider of the Lost Ark" meets "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" feel to it that I really loved.

A lot of what was laid out in here has me really excited for The Avengers which comes out in 2012.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

I was never a big G.I. Joe kid. Transformers was my Hasboro toy of choice. That being said the plot was a little more coherent then Michael Bay's films. But I didn't really have the emotional attachment to this franchise in the same way.

The bad acting and (largely) bad cast is a similar trait shared with Transformers but I can forgive Optimus Prime easier than I can "Duke". The visuals were okay, but they didn't seem to have the punch or the crispness I have come to expect out of these kinds of films.

It had its fun moments but it was largely forgettable.

The Last Airbender

A half star for some pretty good special effects, and half star for some sporadic moments of average storytelling.

I didn't care for the child actors at all. They all dressed like ancient warriors but talked like any kid you'd run into at any local middle school. It seemed more like a bad Disney TV Movie with good visuals more than anything else.

I guess this was a departure for M. Night Shyamalan in that this film contained no twists (as far as I could tell) and it never really felt like an M. Night film but it was pretty similar to his other latest efforts in that this film and those films all sucked.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

You probably couldn't write a better finale to this series. The 7th book was a perfect capper to that series just as the 8th film is the perfect cap to this one.

While some elements where changed from the book, the film version managed to keep pace with every important detail intact. Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman turned in incredible performances and Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint brought their "A" game.

This is one of those movies (movie tickets being cheaper) that I wouldn't mind going back and seeing two or three more times, bust as it is, I will be ever so patiently waiting for the Blu Ray release later this year.

Sucker Punch
Sucker Punch(2011)

If we were going solely on visual artistry this would be 4 1/2 stars easily.... But we aren't. The movie is beautiful visually. Pretty girls, amazing visual effects, and lets just say that I like Zack Snyder's style overall. But unlike 300 and Watchment this movie falls short as a whole much like Legends of the Guardians.

I never really felt connected to the characters or ever felt like they were in any sense of danger until the last ten or so minutes of the film. The acting wasn't terrible, but it wasn't particularly any good either. The pacing just seemed to be off, and things felt a little jumbled at times, and by the time I actually cared for any of the characters the credits were rolling. Again, a great visual feast (almost Transformers levels of action porn) but I felt no real connection, at least Transformers has a little bit of that.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

From a story and writing perspective this was leaps and bounds ahead of the second installment. And it's about on par with the first for its high level of popcorn action fun.

The action in this movie was on a totally other level from every Bay action film and that is saying something.

The acting is pretty weak (just like in the other two), the humor is at least better than it was in part two but what was in this one felt out of place. It could have been better served to be a bit shorter, but overall it was a lot of fun, and some brainless fun isn't really all that bad.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe (The X Files 2)

I'll be honest, I fell asleep the first time I watched this leading to a 1 1/2 star rating. I gave it a second chance and made it all the way through and I upped it to 2 1/2.

It's not a terrible movie per-say, it has its moments and it does hearken back to the TV series and it does remind me a lot of it (albeit in all the wrong ways). This felt like an decent TV episode but not a full length feature. I think a lot of fans (myself included) were expecting a follow-up from the first films story.

500 Days of Summer

It's exactly as the RT summary states. A totally off beat romantic film that is both funny and honest. I'm quite happy that this film chose to not go the traditional route that so many other ROMCOM flicks do.

JGL was excellent in this film and Zooey Deschanel was a pleasant surprise and really made the whole thing come together (and thus made it watchable) for me. I am predisposed to not really enjoy these types of films but I would dare say you should see it if you have any reservations.


A great SciFi film that just barely made it over that three star hump. I've got to say that Ethan Hawke never interested me all that much but I found his performance here to be pretty good, and the movie was made all the better by the supporting cast. For me Jude Law stole the whole show.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Amazing visually and tonally. But it pretty much let me down everywhere else.

The voice acting was quite good, but the story just never kept my interest in the long run. The above mentioned good things about this movie makes something you should probably rent at least. It wasn't my cup of tea though.

The Adjustment Bureau

Really clever film. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have chemistry like you read about! Great performances and Terrance Stamp was quite excellent as well.

I thought the tone of the film was off at first but became more even keeled by the end. And while big climax falls a little short it is made up by a well written closing monologue that really sends its message home.

Excellent Science Fiction and I really recommend you take a look at this picture.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)

This brought me back to my childhood. While I didn't grow up in the late 70's I did grow up in the age of films that reflected on them. It's a nostalgia trip but not to the 70's but to the style of film.

It was a third Goonies, a third Close Encounters, and a third E.T. and I mean that in the best possible way. It feels less like a ripoff and more like a finely tuned homage. It was like a really really good cover song. JJ Abrams just flat out does it again!

Battle: Los Angeles

Popcorn action at it's finest. Cliche ridden but not in a bad way. I think it totally lived up to the Blackhawk Down meets ID4 moniker.

Great visuals and it kept me into it the whole time. There is SciFi out there that is truly terrible and this is isn't one of them. Don't go looking for District 9 levels of story telling. But if you want a fun couple of hours this is a great movie to do it with.


I am a HUGE fan of Kung-Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. That being said I think this might be the very best non-Pixar animated film ever released. And even then it is up there with even the best of those films.

The animation is some of the best I've ever seen, the story is excellent, the comedy is great and it is slightly geared more towards older children and adults as opposed to the younger children. I watched it with my 8 year old daughter and she loved it. This is going straight to the Amazon Wishlist!

The Green Hornet

I would say that this bordered on being good but it never quite made it there. There were times when I really was having fun watching it, and there were times when the comedy was a hit.

More often then not though there was some bad comedy and even worse dialog which (in the end) really hurt my opinion of this particular movie. I knew Seth Rogan could do an action comedy well (Pineapple Express) but Green Hornet just wasn't working for me nearly as much. I'd say take a look at it via Netflix before deciding one way or the other on this,.

X-Men: First Class

The best of the franchise since X2 and perhaps even a few shades better than that. The acting is superb, and the plot is well paced and laid out.

Great visual effects and they even made the cliche training montage seem interesting and even somewhat fresh.

But try to view this as a stand alone flick or a reboot of the series. While it follows some of the already established canon of the previous films in some places it completely rewrites other sections

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

I'm one of the few who've enjoyed all three films. And I can usually see right through their faults and just turn the brain off and have a good time.

I'd consider this a perfectly fine addition to the series. I didn't really find myself missing Bloom or Knightly. And I thought Rush, McShane, and Cruz were excellent in this.

It dragged in spots but overall it was a really fun two hours!


It started out at maybe a step or two behind Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, but by the end it was just about on par with them.

Really funny, and well done (which isn't easy to do with this kind of film). Of the Pegg and Frost films this is probably still third behind Shaun and Fuzz but that is by no means a negative. If those two films were a home run than this was a strong triple.

Kung Fu Panda 2

I was really happy with this sequel. In some ways I think it's even better than the first. The excellent message for kids isn't ham fisted or nearly as corny as you might think.

The actions is fantastic, the comedy is good (maybe not as good as the first) and the voice acting is once again very good. It was also nice to see some of the other Furious Five get a bit more voice time as well.

I Am Number Four

Unimpressed. At times this movie had promise, and it did have its share of good moments but it obscured by a lot of terrible and forgetful moments, characters, and performances.

I can turn my brain off as good as anyone, but I don't really have any desire to this again or any potential sequels. Sci-Fi has a tendency to churn out some not so great stuff, and while at times this movie tries, it never really even gets to being good.

Source Code
Source Code(2011)

An absolutely fantastic piece of SciFi work! Duncan Jones directed an incredible film his first time out (Moon) and with Source Code he is 2 for 2. The story gets you hook line and sinker, and they smartly give away a plot twist (that would be at the end of most movies) right in the middle so that it doesn't loom over the end of the tale.I highly recommended going out of your way to see it even if your aren't a traditional SciFi fan.


This is Iron Man for 2011. A movie nobody was all that sure about until they saw it for themselves. A real surprise of a good movie, and one of the better comic book movies to come out in a while.

I really enjoyed Hemsworth scene in Star Trek (2009) and he proved that he is more than capable of carrying a picture on his own.

A great story, well told, acted, shot, and directed. The visuals are great and sometimes evens gorgeous. If you are on the fence about seeing it, I would highly recommended that you do!

I'm Still Here

I'm somewhere in between on weather or not this is brilliant or simply just a throw away film. Joaquin Phoenix is a fantastic actor, and even more so after this was an admitted "mockumentary"

For the people who thought it was fake from the start opinions range from how dumb it was to how great it was.

There are some people who did think it was legit, and a large portion of them were pretty upset when the truth was unveiled.

Either way, the commitment to a role for this long, espcially when the role you are playing is essentially yourself, spiraling out-of-control is to be commended.

God Grew Tired Of Us

Engaging and insightful look in to our culture from people who have only the tiniest possible inkling of what they might be getting into.

Die Hard
Die Hard(1988)

Total 80's giant action blowout type film.... Probably a genre definer in a lot of ways.

Willis was Willis but for me Alan Rickman stole the show. He was awesome as usual, but it was more so seeing him earlier in his career.