Thomas W.'s Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

With fantastic leading performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer to match an equally clever, irreverent, lightspeed dialogue script, 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' is an underrated gem of the genre. Writer/director Shane Black shows confidence and direction in this neo-noir feature that never takes itself very serious, but never falls short of captivating the audience in an exciting, mysterious, and utterly hilarious romp that proved to be a great return to form for Downey Jr. and Kilmer alike.

Final Grade: A+

Idiocracy
Idiocracy(2006)
½

With an absurdist premise that only seems to become more prophetic as time goes on, writer/director Mike Judge's 'Idiocracy' is a criminally overlooked comedic satire. Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph both give worthy performances as Joe Bowers and Rita, two average people from 2005, left far from home in an anti-intellectual dystopian future. Mike Judge's incredibly dumb, intentionally banal script works perfectly, as viewers witness the frighteningly stupid and hypersexualized world, 500 years in the future.

Final Grade: A

Suicide Squad

Decidedly more light-hearted and fun than any of the other features in the DC extended universe, 'Suicide Squad' benefits from strong performances by Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jay Hernandez, Viola Davis, and Kinnaman, strong visual effects, and an ability to never take itself too terribly seriously. Sadly, with such an expansive cast of characters, there is essentially no time to develop most of the squad, save for Will Smith's Deadshot and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn. Undeniably fun and fast-paced, if not nearly devoid of any emotional resonance, or a solid conclusion to the story, 'Suicide Squad' looks to be little more than fodder for the growing DCEU.

Final Grade: C+

Zack and Miri Make a Porno
½

In an attempt to vault himself back into mainstream success, writer/director Kevin Smith released 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno', a romantic-comedy that feels too often like a Judd Apatow film with a heavy injection of Smith's trademark raunchy comedic style. However, with a strong, easy chemistry between Rogen and Banks, a script full of jokes that just manage to hit more than miss, and a highly likeable cast of characters, 'Zack and Miri' overcomes its cliched and contrived storyline enough to make it worth the watch.

Final Grade: B-

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs(2015)
½

A mere 2 years after the overwhelming lackluster biopic that is 'Jobs', the legacy of Steve Jobs's career was shown cinematic justice through director Danny Boyle's 'Steve Jobs'. Starring Michael Fassbender in a rightly Oscar nominated turn as the films titular protagonist, 'Steve Jobs' also benefits from standout performances from Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, and Kate Winslet. Sorkin's dialogue is smart, quick, overlapping, and unrelentingly smart. However, at points, it does come off rather scripted and too pompous for its own good. Overall, 'Steve Jobs' is a stronger portrayal of Jobs as a flawed human than has been previously seen cinematically, and a more satisfactory attempt at documenting his life, work, and accomplishments.

Final Grade: B+

Avengers: Age of Ultron
½

Notably darker than its predecessor, and at times feeling slightly unnecessary, 'Age of Ultron' entertains with the patented Marvel universes' sense of humor, snappy and witty dialogue, and the ever-so-apparent visual flare. James Spader inevitably steals the show as the titular villain, who is as darkly humorous as he is intimidating. At certain points bloated and overlong, 'Ultron' still feels as if certain key scenes were cut to allow for a passable run time, leaving the viewer feeling slightly behind, but entertained, the same.

Final Grade: B+

The Babadook
The Babadook(2014)

As emotionally resonant as it is entirely unsettling and frightening, 'The Babadook' is a bleak, horrifying, atmospheric art house film of the highest caliber. Managing to create a palpably discomforting atmosphere in place of cheap, tension diffusing jump scares only succeeds in raising the fright factor immensely. Featuring utterly fantastic performances by Essie Davis and newcomer Noah Wiseman to match its equally impressive writing and direction by Jennifer Kent, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better made, more chilling horror movie than 'The Babadook'.

Final Grade: A+

Gone Girl
Gone Girl(2014)

Playing to all of director David Fincher's strengths, 'Gone Girl' features strong performances from its entire cast, with Affleck, Pike, Coon, and Perry shining brightest in their roles, a highly atmospheric score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, fantastically dark cinematography from Jeff Cronenweth, and a twisting, lurid script from 'Gone Girl' author Gillian Flynn. Fincher's eye for detail shines through almost every frame in this captivating story that will keep you guessing until the credits roll.

Final Grade: A+

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Dazzling special effects, intricate story-telling necessary of any time traveling movie, and excellent performances from the entire cast combine to elevate 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' beyond any of the preceding X-Men films greatest heights. Emotional resonance and a brilliant script are also thrown into the mix to make for one of the best super-hero movies ever made.

Final Grade: A+

Tusk
Tusk(2014)
½

As commendable an idea that fueled the creation of this film, it does run out of steam by the third act. Nevertheless, 'Tusk' is gritty, fascinatingly gruesome, and all the while hysterical in its self-referential humor. It could have very well been better, but for what it is, 'Tusk' is still entertaining in its absurdity.

Final Grade: C+

UnHung Hero
UnHung Hero(2013)

As hard as it is to think of a marriage proposal being rejected at a basketball game as the basis for a documentary, 'UnHung Hero' still proves itself a relevant study of male insecurity. Bravely putting his own insecurity on a pedestal for the world to see, Patrick Moote's documentation of his studies tiptoes the line of being too self-indulgent, with a hearty blend of humor, fact, and even some sentimentality that combine well to make 'UnHung Hero' worth a view.

Final Grade: B

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Suffering from the same problems as 'Spider-Man 3', too many villains, a bloated run time, a surplus of melodrama, and far too many subplots to keep the viewers interest, 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' still offers entertainment in its excellently choreographed action set-pieces. However, it still leaves much to be desired, with an overabundance of storylines, strange editorial decisions, and a disjointed narrative.

Final Grade: D

These Amazing Shadows
½

An ever so informative piece, which focuses its lens on the National Film Registry, 'These Amazing Shadows' is a fascinating documentary that emphasizes the importance of film as not only an artform, but as an important part of history. With interviews from big-name directors, actors, and writers, 'These Amazing Shadows' might be aimed more towards film enthusiasts, but its depiction of film's importance in society, as well as the maintenance and preservation of these vital pieces of history is entertaining beyond just informational.

Final Grade: A-

The Dark Knight Rises

Four years into the making, 2012 finally brought along the most deserving epic conclusion to 'The Dark Knight' trilogy. Featuring the caped crusader at his very best, though struggling, 'The Dark Knight Rises' is complete with dazzling special effects, excellent performances by Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, and the rest of the cast, and a superb storyline, 'The Dark Knight Rises' proves to be not only a big bang for your buck, but the epic conclusion the trilogy deserves.

Final Grade: A+

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Far darker and violent than its predecessor, 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' succeeds in ways rarely seen in Marvel fare. With a striking story that keeps the viewer guessing, a compelling villain, and a smarter script that no one could have predicted from a comic book movie, this is most certainly an entry into the Marvel universe that will satisfy fans and outsiders alike.

Final Grade: A+

Jobs
Jobs(2013)
½

With a bloated, imbalanced, and slow-moving script that paints its protagonist as nothing more than a detestable, untrustworthy egotist, 'Jobs' makes its two hour run time a chore to complete fully. Starring a criminally miscast Ashton Kutcher in the films titular role, 'Jobs' often meanders from scene to scene, practically devoid of any humanity or substance. Throughout, there is always a hope of seeing a more human side of Steve Jobs, but it sadly never comes, and the viewer is left with nothing more than an antihero that never makes a case to be rooted for.

Final Grade: D

Trainspotting
½

Combining dark comedy with surrealism to emphasize the true horror of heroin addiction, 'Trainspotting' strikes its mark brilliantly. Ewan McGregor gives a performance for the ages as the likeable Mark Renton, a junkie attempting to get clean to save himself from the hellish world he shares with his addiction-addled friends. Danny Boyle's direction is near perfect, and it shows throughout almost every frame of this tour de force.

Final Grade: A

300: Rise of an Empire

While not entirely devoid of entertainment value, the followup to Frank Miller's '300' feels like nothing more than a not-so-epic, derivative copy of its predecessor. Sullivan Stapleton does his best in the starring role, but can't overcome the inevitable comparison to Gerard Butler's Leonidas. By the time the credits begin to roll, it's hard not to look at '300: Rise of an Empire' as anything more than a cash grab on its association with '300'.

Final Grade: C-

Dallas Buyers Club
½

Although somewhat poorly paced at time, 'Dallas Buyers Club' is, at its center, an excellent story, made even more so gripping by heart-wrenchingly inspired performances by both Matthew MxXonaughey and Jared Leto. Based upon the true life events of Ron Woodruff, 'Dallas Buyers Club's foregone ending is anything but disappointing, and is a spellbinding story of overcoming adversity and ignorance, all set during the massive AIDS scare of the 1980s.

Final Score: A-

There Will Be Blood
½

At its core, 'There Will Be Blood' is a bleak, dark, and depressing examination of the human condition at its very worst, brilliantly set during booming Capitalism times. Starlit by Daniel Day-Lewis's remarkable turn as the unfeeling and calculated oil tycoon, Daniel Plainview, 'There Will Be Blood' often makes for a difficult, but entirely worthwhile view, which may turn your stomach with its inhumane treatment of its characters, and a taut, chill-inducing score to backlight the films excellent cinematography.

Final Score: A

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

What has come to be known as the jewel in a series of lackluster follow-ups, 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' is a highly energized romp, full of action, humor, and fun. Bland performances, a run time that may overstay its welcome, and a few spotty special effects are in a moment forgotten, primarily thanks to Johnny Depp's excellent, scene-stealing portrayal of the wayward pirate, Jack Sparrow.

Final Grade: B

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
½

Being the much anticipated follow-up to 2004's 'Anchorman', this sequel misses out on the heart and character development of its predecessor. But nonetheless, 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues' is an entertaining jaunt back into the world of news-casting, still full of hilarious cameos, humorous dialogue, and a clever script, albeit not nearly as quotable as its predecessor.

Final Grade: B

Marvel's The Avengers

Had we learned nothing of the ability of Joss Whedon behind the camera and pen, 'Marvel's The Avengers' should have silences any doubters. Well-crafted characters, a perfect balance between humorous and heroic, excitingly shot action sequences, yet cleverly avoiding stereotype, The Avengers should be a staple to any comic book movie fans collection.

Final Grade: A+

The World's End
½

The third in a loose trilogy of films, 'The World's End' is a fitting point of closure for writer/director Edgar Wright to leave off on. Strongly developed character arcs, excellent writing, high-quality special effects, and stellar-as-always performances from Pegg, Frost, and the rest of the cast make 'The World's End' well worth your time and money. An excellent way to end any trilogy, on a high note.

Final Grade: A

Thor: The Dark World

Perhaps lacking the magnitude and grandiose of its preceding feature, 'Thor: The Dark World' manages to maintain an interesting, albeit mildly convoluted narrative. Featuring far more of the same fascinating visual effects surrounding Thor's homeland of Asgard, as seen far more temporarily in the previous installment. Paper thin characters and a muddled story doesn't completely debilitate 'Thor: The Dark World', but does still manage to bring it down as a whole.

Final Grade: B

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
½

Self-indulgent to little fault, 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' is an above-average 80s teen comedy, full of irreverent humor, enjoyable characters, and a steady enough script to hold it together at the seams. One of John Hughes' crowning jewels of his career, 'Ferris Beuller' finds its greatest triumph in the hands of its younger cast, Matthew Broderick as Ferris, Alan Ruck as Ferris' jaded friend Cameron, Mia Sara as Ferris' girlfriend, Sloane, and Jennifer Grey as Jeanie, Ferris' envy-fueled sister.

Final Grade: A-

Monsters University
½

While not reaching the heights of its predecessor, 'Monsters University' is still a fun, colorful ride into the world of the monsters, which is filled with humor for all ages. Not only sound in craft, 'Monsters University' aptly increases the scope of its previous installment, making both films more enjoyable from different perspectives.

Final Grade: A-

Hancock
Hancock(2008)

While elevated by its outlandishly interesting concept, and a confident performance by Will Smith in its titular role, 'Hancock' is eventually submerged in cliche, poor narration, and overblown special effects. Worth a watch, 'Hancock' is not all it could've been, making it all the more disappointing to the viewer, while still remaining somewhat dumb, but fun.

Final Grade: C+

The Hunger Games
½

Having as violent a premise as it does, 'The Hunger Games' contains a few moments of questionable actions, as well as dizzying camera work in order to keep the PG-13 rating. Nevertheless, it still manages to be a fun, stimulating adventure that is delivered confidently by the leading cast.

Final Grade: A-

Wedding Crashers

Thoroughly predictable and filled with over-the-top archetypal characters, 'Wedding Crashers' nevertheless manages to entertain with an undeniable sweet center. With both Vaughn and Wilson showing their comedic flair with a lively chemistry, few jokes go astray in this well-scripted, ultimately good hearted story.

Final Grade: B+

Crash
Crash(1996)

Following a plot that sexually fetishises car accidents, the aptly named David Cronenberg film 'Crash' seems unable to not only convey a coherent plot, but is also equally unable to create characters worth investing in, as well as dialogue to make the viewer invest much interest or emotional connection. While bravely experimental and artistically sound, 'Crash' still fails as a film in its inability to generate much interest for anyone not already fascinated in the eroticism of peril and death.

Final Grade: D+

Antz
Antz(1998)
½

Feeling often like a Woody Allen penned story converted to animation, 'Antz' proves itself to be a more than sound film, featuring a clever, idiosyncratic script with nods to social justice, existentialism, and anticonformity. With an A+ cast of voice actors to boot, featuring Woody Allen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Anne Bancroft, Christopher Walken, and Jennifer Lopez, 'Antz' greatest feature comes with its overwhelming accessibility to anyone of any demographic, with action and slapstick humor for the young, cheeky, sometimes edgy comedy for the adults, and excellent graphics to top it all off. Not entirely without fault, 'Antz' is still a well-crafted feature, even if at certain points it plays more as a commercial laced with product placement than anything else.

Final Grade: A

Mean Girls
Mean Girls(2004)

Serving as something of a more up-to-date 'Heathers', the ever so quotable 'Mean Girls' is headlined by confident direction by Mark Waters, a killer cast, and a clever script by Tina Fey that transcends its simple and somewhat familiar story. Not a single line of dialogue feels out of place, and a touch of visual panache all add up to make 'Mean Girls' an instant classic.

Final Score: A-

Jurassic Park

After a 20 year wait, the 3D release of 'Jurassic Park' proves to be an improvement upon the original, with beautifully lush settings, stunning special effect, and terrifying dinosaurs, all enhanced by the 3D conversion. On top of its scene-stealing and dazzling visuals, 'Jurassic Park' also features a suitable script, with confident performances by its leading cast, the least of which not being the idiosyncratically pessimistic chaotician, Ian Malcolm, deftly portrayed by Jeff Goldblum. 'Jurassic Park' proves to be a worth-while 3D experience, truly meant to be viewed in theaters.

Final Grade: A+

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

As indulgent and familiar as it may seem, 'Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events' confidently overcomes its shortcomings with an overtly dark sense of humor, a near pitch perfect cast of characters, and a gleefully over-the-top performance by Jim Carrey. As much as it may divert from its source material, Robert Gordon's script still manages to accurately capture both atmosphere and tone of Lemony Snicket's books.

Final Grade: B

A Simple Twist of Fate

While giving a character-breaking performance, Steve Martin's less-than-experienced writing ultimately dooms 'A Simple Twist of Fate' to mediocrity. Featuring a script full of holes and contrivances, it becomes less and less possible to overlook the faults in 'A Simple Twist of Fate' as the film progresses, despite being helmed by strong performances by Martin, Alana and Alyssa Austin.

Final Grade: C-

Shame
Shame(2011)
½

Provocative, heart-wrenching, and incredibly well acted, 'Shame' is a brutally honest examination of addiction, specifically of the sexual assortment, through the eyes of Michael Fassbender's Brandon. Carey Mulligan keeps pace with Fassbender's astonishingly good performance, and director Steve McQueen's steady hand shows from behind the camera. 'Shame' comes together as a painful, poignant, and genuine character study of a damaged man.

Final Grade: A

Igby Goes Down
½

Treading similar water as 'Catcher in the Rye' did 50 years prior, Burr Steers' directorial debut 'Igby Goes Down' follows the exploits of Igby Slocumb, a "very close to being 18" year old boy on a journey through the rich bowels of SoHo New York, which serves as a suiting backdrop to the emotionally cold and detached characters that inhabit the story. Filled with dry wit, emotional resonance, and beautiful scenery, 'Igby Goes Down' transcends its somewhat familiar story with a strong script from Steers, a suitingly upper crust soundtrack, and an emotionally taut performance from Kieran Culkin, who anchors every scene with the confidence and talent of a much more experienced actor.

Final Grade: A

Dreamcatcher
Dreamcatcher(2003)

Terribly drawn out, poorly paced, shakily directed, and almost impossible to comprehend, 'Dreamcatcher' is nothing more than a boring gore fest. Complete with a badly written script and an entirely miscast Morgan Freeman, 'Dreamcatcher' suffers on almost every level a movie can, including weak source material on which to base a film.

Final Grade: F

X-Men: First Class

Featuring a young, but by no means amateur ensemble cast, 'X-Men: First Class' succeeds in every way the preceding X-Men outing had failed. Confident direction, a deftly written script surrounding a specific Cold War crisis, captivatingly bold action sequences, and standout performances from James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Kevin Bacon elevate 'First Class' to a level of craftsmanship, maturity, and intelligence never before seen from an X-Men film.

Final Grade: A+

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
½

Faced-paced storytelling, seamless comic book and video game action, and brilliant writing all combine to elevate 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' to be nothing less than a fun, action-packed, and witty ride through the ever-so-hectic life of Scott Pilgrim. Adapted from the graphic novel of the same title, Scott Pilgrim is expertly directed by Edgar Wright, and overflows with a funny and exciting set of comic book cliches to boot.

Final Grade: B+

Stephen King's It

Overlong, at times poorly paced, and not exactly always well-written, 'Stephen King's It' is still fun and enjoyably frightening. Mainly anchored by several confident performances, Tim Curry's scene-stealing portrayal of Pennywise the dancing clown is without doubt the standout, with a fantastically scary makeup job, unforgettably evil laugh, and hauntingly fun dialogue to always keep the audience interested.

Final Grade: B-

Django Unchained
½

Rarely hampered by its own anachronism-based humor and sometimes needless racism throughout, 'Django Unchained' is a well-balanced, fast-paced Spaghetti Western, with all the witty dialogue, graphic violence, and gore that you'd ever want from a Quentin Tarantino outing. Both DiCaprio and Waltz (as Calvin Candie and Dr. King Schultz, respectively) turn in Oscar-worthy performances, stealing each and every scene that they're in. Tarantino fans and non-followers of the legendary cult classic director alike will find themselves swept away in this lush, darkly comical roller-coaster ride of a movie.

Final Grade: A-

Sin City
Sin City(2005)

Visually spectacular, excellently acted by a magnificent ensemble cast, and perfectly adapted for the big screen by Rodriguez and author Frank Miller, 'Sin City' is a step into the lurid and visceral world of Miller's neo-noir comics. Jammed full of gratuitous violence, nudity, and gore, 'Sin City' is an absolutely astounding piece of cinematic gold, as well as one of the best comic book films ever made.

Final Grade: A+

The Rules of Attraction

A bleak, albeit wide-eyed glimpse into the unrelentingly self-destructive lifestyle of college partying, 'The Rules of Attraction', for the most part, makes the most of its relatively shallow subject matter. Confidently directed by Roger Avary, 'The Rules of Attraction' features a strong script, flawed and often callous, but ultimately sympathetic characters to combine to be a fascinating tale of debauchery and love, even if it every now and then feels like watching 'Pulp Fiction' at a college.

Final Grade: B

Twister
Twister(1996)

Emotionally shallow and predominantly devoid of in-depth characterization, 'Twister' is nevertheless a uproariously fun movie, filled with excellent special effects, well filmed tense action sequences, and two fairly likeable leads that become difficult not to root for. Outrageous and action-filled, 'Twister' succeeds in being excellent "Check-your-brain-at-the-door" entertainment.

Final Grade: B

Boiler Room
Boiler Room(2000)

Although plagued down to some end by a heavy-handed, sometimes jumbled script, 'Boiler Room' manages to impress on the back of its deliciously didactic dialogue, an upbeat '90s hip-hop soundtrack in juxtaposition to its constant business setting, thriller-esque pacing, and an especially fascinating, morally challenged 19-year old protagonist, Seth, performed superbly by Giovanni Ribisi.

Final Grade: B

Full Frontal
Full Frontal(2002)

On paper, the plot of 'Full Frontal' is relatively complex and to a degree, interesting. The resulting "Film-inside-a-film", while to a point enjoyably meta and creative, ends up being nothing more than a skewed, overly fragmented, and poorly shot, low quality mockumentary which (poorly) attempts to plum the depths of the underworld inherent within the industry.

Final Grade: D+

The Social Network

The year of 2010 ushered in a series of excellent films. From Toy Story 3 to Black Swan, there was truly a gold mine of brilliant movies to choose from. But there was one film that stood out from all others, a film that truly engulfed you in the mind of a brilliant yet socially impaired Harvard undergraduate, as he works his way up to the top of the online social world. I speak, of course, of The Social Network.

David Fincher strikes gold with his latest entry, as he takes us into the world of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Although the combination of Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, Malice, A Few Good Men) may seem like a mismatch, it is anything but. Sorkin excels in snappy, fast-paced dialogue, which finds its place well in the film. Fincher's trademark dark directing style also suits the film, and although it isn't nearly as dark as some of his other films (Fight Club, Se7en, Zodiac), it is glaringly apparent that Fincher is the man behind the camera.

The casting is completely flawless, with Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, and Justin Timberlake starring in what could be the best film that any of them will be a part of. Eisenberg portrays a smart, lonely, and somewhat overly confident Mark Zuckerberg, as he is in the process of creating the Facebook, a massive social networking site that will help to link friends around the world. Garfield plays Zuckerberg's best friend and co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin. Saverin is a smart, good-hearted student who attempts to stick with Mark through all his endeavors. Armie Hammer portrays the Winklevoss twins (with the excellent use of split-camera shots and body doubles), Tyler and Cameron, who are also Harvard students interested in building a social networking site alongside Zuckerberg. Timberlake plays Napster founder Sean Parker, a secretly malevolent business partner to Zuckerberg, who works to cut Saverin out of the picture and bring Facebook to the forefront of the social networking scene.

Opening with a breakup between Zuckerberg and his then (somewhat fictionalized) girlfriend, Erica Albright, the viewer sees that Mark is a socially inept, albeit brilliant, student who constantly feels the need to remind the world that he is indeed a genius. From there, Zuckerberg works to make a name for himself, in order to make it into a Harvard Final Club, which Saverin had recently been inducted into, much to the resentment and jealousy of Zuckerberg. Through a series of unflattering actions taken by Mark, he partners up with the Winklevoss twins, and promises to help them design their Harvard-exclusive dating site. Unbeknownst to the twins, Mark begins to design the Facebook with his roommates and Saverin. Upon growing immensely popular, two events unfold that change Facebook permanently: Mark is introduced to Sean Parker of Napster fame, and the Winklevoss twins sue Zuckerberg for intellectual property theft.

The interactions between characters is perfect, with Sorkin's writing truly shining throughout. Exchanges between Zuckerberg and any of the others in support of him are quick, witty, and contain a bitter undertone. Switching between two lawsuits against Mark, and the time of Facebook's inception. Done seamlessly, Fincher bridges each scene with confidence and aptitude. Eisenberg delivers a magnificent performance, and manages to achieve the seemingly impossible task of making the viewer sympathize for the seemingly cold and heartless Zuckerberg. Justin Timberlake's portrayal of Sean Parker is brilliant, as he takes advantage of Mark's tunnel vision to write Saverin out of the picture entirely. The score, written and performed by Trent Reznor (industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross, adds a beautiful undertone to each scene, varying from slow-paced keyboard playing, to quick, upbeat techno-esque rhythms, all of which add to the emotion and feel of the film perfectly. There is no doubt that Sorkin, Ross, and Reznor earned their Academy Awards, as their contributions make the film truly shine.

The Social Network is director David Fincher's undoubted magnum opus. Take a witty, unrelentingly fast script, a handful of excellent performances, a dark, yet precise directing style, and a captivating score, and you have the grounds for a memorably brilliant film. The Social Network has all of said elements in abundance, and manages to never overstay its welcome. With a two hour run time, it keeps viewers completely riveted to see what will happen next. Whether or not The Social Network deserved the Best Picture Oscar for its year, it is undoubtedly a masterpiece that will not soon be forgotten.

The Matrix Revolutions

The Wachowski brothers conclude what had previously been a well made pair of films with a final act which is rather lacking what the first two films had in abundance. The movie picks up with Neo and Morpheus fighting to save Zion from infiltrators of the mechanical persuasion, sentinels from the ruins of the world above, and Agent Smith, who has taken the form of Bane, one of the men killed in the matrix. The script lacks depth and conviction, the action scenes are repetitive, and the finale is quite depressing, and leaves the viewer wanting more. Without seeing the first two films, I couldn't recommend this film to a movie viewer, because there are many more films that deliver the same message of hope with better delivery and more convincing acting. Having seen the preceding two films, a Matrix fan such as myself feels obligated to see the conclusion, although lackluster, but a conclusion no less. See it if you feel the desire to witness the ending of the trilogy, not an A+ Wachowski brothers' film.

Moon
Moon(2009)

Boasting an incredibly committed and convincing performance from Sam Rockwell, and confidently innovative direction from Duncan Jones, 'Moon' shines on either side of the camera. With a hauntingly realistic look upon humanity, 'Moon' is a heart-wrenching and plausible sci-fi thriller, and an equally excellent character study. Rockwell's performance is the centerpiece to an isolated film, yet never succumbing to harshly silent and empty exchanges, 'Moon' always holds your absolute attention.

Final Grade: A+

Mean Creek
Mean Creek(2004)

Unabashedly observant and sympathetic of teenage cruelty, 'Mean Creek' is equal parts morally ambivalent, heart-wrenching, and challenging. Anchored by strong performances from the entire cast, frightfully believable dialogue, and lush scenery, Jacob Estes' debut film will leave you questioning every action and reaction, and with a confusingly bittersweet taste in your mouth.

Final Grade: A

Good Will Hunting

Poignant, human, and overwhelmingly emotional, 'Good Will Hunting' is a beautifully crafted story of a troubled young genius. Impeccably written by stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, 'Good Will Hunting' is held aloft by a pitch-perfect script, accurately depicting the life of young South-Bostonian men, the internal conflict of each and every main character, and the internal strife of a brilliant young man. Equally impressive are the performances, where every single member of the cast gives magnificent performances, Williams above all, to escalate 'Good Will Hunting' to a level rarely matched by any drama seen in film.

Final Grade: A+

Grosse Pointe Blank
½

The dark comedic value and well-written exchanges in 'Grosse Pointe Blank' more than make up for that not so fresh Quentin Tarantino knock-off feel that seeps through the cracks frequently. Cusack's charisma and deadpan delivery make 'Grosse Pointe Blank' an oddity, but a must see.

Final Grade: B+

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland' works in almost no way, shape, or form. Johnny Depp is cast as the Mad Hatter, and he further proves that Tim Burton has no creativity when character development is concerned. The expertly done makeup and costumes can't save this film from itself or Tim Burton, who creates a disillusioning universe where there was once a lush, lovable, and entrancing one within the original film. Anne Hathaway serves merely as a cast buffer, as she is practically useless in the film as the White Queen, who has little screen time. Helena Bonham Carter portrays the Red Queen, an annoying, big-headed ruler who you constantly hope to see beheaded before the end of the film. Burton's own mindset while creating film is becoming more and more exhausted, and make 'Alice in Wonderland' an even more farcical film. Let Johnny Depp take the passenger's seat at least once, Tim, and let the story develop around him, not through him.

Bronson
Bronson(2009)

Anchored by Tom Hardy's hauntingly dedicated performance, 'Bronson' is both a darkly comedic look at the life of an unpredictable and uncontrollable con, and a fascinating character study of a truly disturbed man. Beautifully directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, 'Bronson' transcends its simplistic plot with sublime writing, confident direction, and the aforementioned Oscar-worthy performance by Tom Hardy in the film's titular role.

Final Grade: A

The Faculty
The Faculty(1998)

Aptly described as " 'The Breakfast Club meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers' ", 'The Faculty' isn't particularly original in most aspects. However, this is easily overlooked by the great ensemble cast of star before stardom, confident direction by Robert Rodriguez, entertaining special effects that withstand the test of time decently, and a killer soundtrack. 'The Faculty' is great fun.

Final Grade: B+

Chronicle
Chronicle(2012)
½

Despite some plot-holes and poor camera work, 'Chronicle' is an enjoyable found-footage film featuring believable characters, a well-written script, and an especially haunting performance by Dane DeHaan.

Final Grade: A

Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights
½

While frequently mistaking crude, childish humor for lowbrow, taking overtly obvious leaps of faith, and insulting its audiences' intelligence with pointless product placement, 'Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights' is a worthwhile watch for a viewers not looking for anything but cheap laughs on a Friday night.

Final Grade: C+

Big
Big(1988)
½

'Big', not only being a huge step to stardom for Hanks, is a loveable and entertainingly light-hearted movie, a successful mix of childish glee in the world of adulthood, and a poignantly deep look into the mind of a child.

Final Grade: A-

True Romance
True Romance(1993)
½

Lightening quick narrative, slick and sharp dialogue, and more than a handful of off-the-map weird performances, 'True Romance' is the perfect balance of action and romance. With excellent performances from Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Michael Rappaport, cameos from Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson, and a scene stealing performance from Gary Oldman (even if it's only two), Quentin Tarantino's screenplay puts pedal to metal and never lets go.

Final Grade: A

The Amazing Spider-Man

Although plagued with some weak writing, and an even weaker and poorly developed villain, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' finds its footing with solid performances, breathtaking action sequences, and an easy chemistry between Garfield and Stone.

Final Grade: B

Aladdin
Aladdin(1992)

Excellent writing, perfect casting, a scene-stealing performance from Robin Williams, and sublime execution on all fronts elevate 'Aladdin' to levels previously untouched not only by Disney (and still never yet matched), but any animated film.

Final Grade: A+

Mysterious Skin
½

Both disturbing and moving, 'Mysterious Skin' and its plot, surrounding pedophilia and repression, is held aloft by Araki's steady direction and writing, and Gordon-Levitt's brave performance as a rebellious teen still living in the shadow of his childhood trauma.

Final Grade: A

Wanderlust
Wanderlust(2012)
½

It's derivative of every stereotypical onscreen hippie you've ever seen, uneven, and thoroughly predictable from start to finish, but 'Wanderlust' gets by with ample laughs, confident direction, and some very 'cocksure' performances.

Final Grade: B-

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2(2004)
½

Peter Parker's financial, emotional, physical, and psychological struggles, combined with an emotionally splintered and overall compelling villain make Spider-Man 2 a rare sequel that surpasses its predecessor in all ways.

Overall Grade: A

Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows(2012)

While competently recalling the '70s with vivid detail and well-performed roles, 'Dark Shadow is drowned with unnecessary Tim Burton gimmicks, comical relief, and needlessly cryptic dialogue and turns into another Burton and Depp letdown.

Final Grade: D+

Thor
Thor(2011)
½

Boasting an impressive ensemble cast, 'Thor' keeps pace for about three quarters of it two hour run time. Natalie Portman's Jane Foster is a vanilla character that could be play competently by a much lower salary actress. In spite of this, Kenneth Branagh's directorial style makes 'Thor' play much like an impressive super hero and Shakespearean hybrid.

Final Grade: B-

Jacob's Ladder
½

Disturbingly terrifying and keenly observant, 'Jacob's Ladder' is a great examination of the human mind following trauma. Add excellently creepy performance from Tim Robbins and some intense scary characters and you have yourself a good psychological suspense/horror film.

Final Grade: B+

The Happening

Utterly lacking in all ways of acting, suspense, drama, special effects, or even a competent basis for a movie, 'The Happening' ends up being nothing more than yet another abject failure in a series of failures with an M. Night Shyamalan sticker slapped on.

Final Grade: F

Prometheus
Prometheus(2012)
½

Returning to the genre he helped revolutionize, 'Prometheus' is Ridley Scott's ambitious comeback to the sci-fi world he once created with his groundbreaking film 'Alien'. While it never reaches the level of Scott's previous work, 'Prometheus' succeeds due to dazzling visuals, a steady direction, and fascinating performances by both Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender. But much like Fassbender's character, the android David, 'Prometheus' is without much soul.

Final Grade: B-

Friends With Benefits

Although it may not tread any new grounds (especially with the release of the seemingly identical film 'No Strings Attached' a few months earlier), 'Friends with Benefits' is a charming Rom-Com that gains point for the easy chemistry between Kunis and Timberlake, who has quickly made an excellent acting career for himself.

Final Grade: B

The Dictator
The Dictator(2012)
½

There are ample laughs to be had with 'The Dictator', whether or not it's nearly as funny and poignant as 'Borat' or 'Bruno'. Featuring the usual antics of Sacha Baron Cohen and a lovably cute performance by Anna Faris, 'The Dictator' succeeds, however minimally, through the social commentary that Cohen brings to all of his movies.
Final Grade: B-

Men in Black III
½

While not nearly as strong a film as the first, but far superior to the second, the third film in the 'Men in Black' series is an enjoyable ride through the life of Agent J and his trip through time to prevent a cataclysmic event from occurring. Featuring energetic action sequences, well written dialogue, and a dazzlingly good performance from Josh Brolin, 'Men in Black III' is a fun watch.
Final Grade: B-

Dazed and Confused

While not following any specific story arc, 'Dazed and Confused' proves to be not only an excellently accurate depiction of the '70s, but an affectionately realistic film pertaining to the teenage life of a bygone era. Filled with quotable dialogue, memorable scenes, and loveable and despicable characters alike, 'Dazed and Confused' is a star-studded gem that only improves with time. A+

Fight Club
Fight Club(1999)

Perfectly paced, tightly shot, and deliciously poignant, David Fincher has created a modern day masterpiece. Featuring superb direction, excellent performances by the entire cast, and a catchy soundtrack to boot, 'Fight Club' is a must see for any movie goer. A+

The Emperor's New Groove
½

Although anything but original by Disney film standards, 'The Emperor's New Groove' succeeds in creating a believable world with colorful characters and entertaining dialogue. Worth a watch, especially for a Disney or a John Goodman connoisseur. B

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Dark, grisly, and yet oddly spellbinding, 'Sweeney Todd' comes together to be Tim Burton's best work to date. Featuring excellent performances by both Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street makes for a superbly fun period-piece and musical. B+

I Love You, Man
½

It becomes overtly obvious that Paul Rudd and Jason Segel have a real relationship through their laughable antics in 'I Love You, Man'. With understandably sweet and hilarious characters a plenty, 'I Love You, Man' works on multiple levels. Nothing but a solid A film.

American Reunion

Filled to the brim with all the raunchy jokes, perverse sexual innuendos, and laugh out loud antics that fans loved in the previous three installments, 'American Reunion' is a nostalgic throwback to the days of the past. Although there is little deviation from the already well-worn path of it's predecessors, 'American Reunion' delivers what any 'American Pie' fan would hope for, with a nostalgic touch to top it all off. B+

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Smart, gritty, well-paced, and beautifully shot, this incarnation succeeds in every way that the original failed. Featuring excellent direction by David Fincer and strong performances from Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, and a magnificent, career-defining performance from Rooney Mara in the titular role, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is most certainly a must-see for any fans of dark drama. A+

Act of Valor
Act of Valor(2012)

In the modern era of film, experimental film making is mostly gone. But with the release of 'Act of Valor' in 2012, directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh both dabble with a new form of film making: Using real Navy SEALS in place of trained actors to portray fictitious characters.

The film follows a group of Navy Seals on a mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent. Upon finding the agent, the SEALS uncover a much larger plot that could very well cause global chaos. The team of SEALS must embark upon a secret mission to foil this plan before it is carried out.

For the most part, the acting is what you would expect it to be: weak and sloppy. Using real, untrained people as actors is a serious risk, mainly because you're dealing with people who have no idea how to deliver a performance with any type of emotional resonance or continuity to the plot at hand. For the most part, the risk taken was a failure. The acting is as bad as you'd expect it to be, and the use of these real men, while feeling relevant, also feels unnecessary and out of place. Too often do the 'actors' seem aware that they're being filmed, delivering lines with a staccato or poorly paced.

The characters might as well have no names, because they go largely undeveloped. This causes the viewer to not care about what happens to these men, because there is no connection to them. The plot is also fairly muddled, seeming almost disconnected from the film as a whole too often. Too much time is spent on this, causing for what feels like a laggy progression as a whole. Much like the plot, the action sequences are also somewhat dizzying and hard to follow from time to time. This effect leaves viewers feeling isolated from the movie, as it becomes too difficult to follow.

All complaints aside, 'Act of Valor' delivers on what one most likely would want from a war movie. The action sequences, while sometimes dizzying, are well choreographed and well delivered by the SEALS. If you can turn off your brain and just enjoy the action, which is more often than not presented in a professional and entertaining way. 'Act of Valor' delivers on what is promised: Fun and enjoyable scenes involving militaristic action.

Experimental film making does deserve its share of respect. Trying new things in artistic creation is for the most part absent in this day in age. 'Act of Valor' is a solid attempt by directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh to create a new kind of film. But sadly, this attempt falls short in several areas vital to making a fundamentally sound film.

Drive
Drive(2011)

In the modern day of film making, film noir has become a relic of a time gone by. Few directors, such as Quentin Tarentino or Christopher Nolan, have brought to life several echoes of the past film making style such as Pulp Fiction or Memento, but no director really nailed down the directing style as well as Nicolas Winding Refn, Danish director of the profoundly dark and stylized movie 'Drive'.

'Drive' follows an unnamed protagonist played by Ryan Gosling who is a stunt driver for day, and a set of wheels for hire for getaways by night. He becomes interested in his neighbor, played by Carey Mulligan, and her toddler son, Benicio. His neighbor, Irene, is wed to Standard (Oscar Isaac), a man who owes money to the Albanian mob. Through a series of events, the driver volunteers to keep Standard and his family safe, and get the money he owes to the Albanian mobsters. To pay the mobsters, Standard has to rob a pawn shop owner and make it back to the mob boss in one piece, or the boss threatens to come after Irene and Benicio if he doesn't see his money.

What sets 'Drive' apart from most other modern day heist films is the darkness prevalent throughout all of the film. Although it might be stylized and contain some brilliant imagery, 'Drive' has an overtone of blackness throughout, and is tastefully violent, similar to that of 'Pulp Fiction'. Ryan Gosling gives a dazzling performance as the titular Driver, given few spoken lines, but showing his emotion through his actions, and how he leaves his attackers dead. The relationship between the driver and Benicio is heart-warming and the viewer begins to feel for both driver and the young boy before the credits roll. Carey Mulligan manages to avoid being nothing but a victim in the hapless role of an ex-mobster's wife, and manages to hold her own as her life begins to flash before her eyes.

Overall, 'Drive' packed both a visceral punch, and had a clever enough script that delivered laughs, thrills, and entertainment, all while never pulling any punches. Though it's not likely to win any acting awards, Gosling and Mulligan hold the film together competently, and 'Drive' stays on course. It works both as a crime thriller, and an action packed drama. If you have to see anything before the year expires, it's 'Drive'.

Red State
Red State(2011)
½

Following the less-than-successful 'Cop Out', most movie-goers may have believed that Kevin Smith was beginning to lose touch with not only his audience, but his creative spark, as well. But after viewing 'Red State', Smith not only reinvents his craft, but fine-tunes it to near perfection.

For years, Smith had been accused of being a one trick pony. With such fare as 'Clerks', 'Chasing Amy', and 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno', Smith showed immense talent, albeit limited range in his movie-making, typically sticking to what he knows best: brash dialogue and crude humor. 'Red State' is anything but. The film quickly delves into the perverse side of organized religion. The Five Points Church (a clear nod to the Westboro Baptist Church through their actions), is a fundamentalist Christian church run by the hostile Cooper family. They amass media attention through their picketing of the funerals of gays. Enter three teenage boys (Kyle Gallner, Nicholas Braun, Michael Angarano) in search for sex via online sex sites. After arriving at their destination, the boys are drugged and taken hostage by the militant church, and set to be sacrificed on the cross for their sin. The pastor of the Five Points Church, Abin Cooper (Michael Parks), is set to purify the boys for their sins. Without spoiling too much of the movie, word of gunfire reaches Special Agent Joe Keenan (John Goodman), and he is tasked to move in and handle the situation. Unbeknownst to the Special Force team, the church-goers are armed to the teeth, and are more than ready to put up a fight.

Michael Parks and John Goodman both bring their A-games, as a fanatical pastor and morally ambivalent special agent, respectively. Parks' sermon and sing-song ways are very much akin to that of Reverend Henry Kane of 'Poltergeist II: the Other Side'. Pastor Cooper's words, both spoken and sung, are truly harrowing, especially coming one so calm and collected. Goodman's portrayal as Keenan is equally terrific, as he is faced with a situation that has escalated far out of his control. Both leading men steal the show in equal amounts, as they deliver passionate dialogue that never feels out of place or scripted.

Kevin Smith's writing and directorial style reach an all-time high in this uncharacteristically smart and realistic horror flick. Smith's characters feel rich and multi-dimensional, a trait Smith's characters often possess in large amounts. The camera work throughout is superb, adding an element of paranoia and claustrophobia in the confines of the church, as well as being shot in a gritty Grindhouse horror fashion.

The true effectiveness of 'Red State' lies within its poignant lampooning of the oft seen militaristic ways of modern organized religion. Smith digs deep in his daring satire of homophobia and governmental corruption, and pulls none of his punches. Parks plays up his dialogue to a perfect, hate-worthy tone, inspiring both fear and disgust as his abysmally didactic ways. Goodman's well-meaning, yet morally mixed Keenan presents the audience with a realistic hero, complete with flaws and imperfections rarely portrayed on-screen. Both characters raise questions in the audience, specifically about their careers, and the choices they make.

While 'Red State' feels like the Westboro Baptist Church infused with 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', it truly delivers on every front. Sharp, witty dialogue, combined with stunning performances by Parks and Goodman ultimately overwhelm what few flaws 'Red State' possesses. It presents Smith fans with an enjoyable change in style, and hopefully there's more left in his arsenal.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
½

The most difficult part of adapting a long-winded novel into a film is the inevitable exemption of events and characters which are present in the book. Several films have managed to adapt longer books and make their products passable, even thoroughly enjoyable. Several which come to mind would be 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, 'The Devil Wears Prada' (while not exactly long, still quite a lot to adapt), 'The Watchman', and even the first three in the Potter series. It is most unfortunate to see this installment of Harry Potter suffers the worst of any book in the book-to-film process as far as faithfulness to the source material goes.

The best part of 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' is ironically the most glaring disappointment; it is incredibly well directed and a good movie on its own. Yet it is saddening to see such a well made film stray so far from the source material. There are huge portions of the book missing in the film adaptation, and yet the film is emotionally deep, smart, and profoundly well shot and directed. Mike Newell's skill behind the camera really shows through. But it is thoroughly disappointing to see the script he is working with, as it leaves out a good quarter of the book due to time constraints. Not only are entire plot pieces missing (such as Hermione's house elf equal rights movement and Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class), several important characters are exempt, including Ludo Bagman, Bertha Jorkins, and the house elves, Winky and Dobby. While many of these scenes and characters are left out due to their absence not being necessary to progress the story. Yet the absence of these parts makes the movie itself suffer, mainly because they added emotional depth to both the characters and the story, making the book as a whole seem more rich and full.

Aside from such a glaring weakness, there aren't many flaws to be found within the fourth installment of the Harry Potter franchise, save for a few incongruous attempts to misdirect the viewer from the villain. For a viewer who hadn't previously read the book, this would almost undoubtedly be a remarkably enjoyable film. Source material notwithstanding, 'The Goblet of Fire' is directed phenomenally well by Mike Newell. The cinematography is sublime, as the viewer watches the champions progress through their perilous and frighteningly real feeling tasks. And as seen through the previous three films, the characters evolve from children to young adults, particularly Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Brendan Gleeson adds an extremely good performance as Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, the ex-auror and new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.

With sublime direction, superb acting, and brilliant cinematography, one would think that 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' would be deeply enjoyable. Watching as a dedicated fan of the books, it is almost anything but, as the exemption of many plots and character makes the film feel like a collection of well-made pieces of a story that is never quite complete.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Between the posts all over the internet to the packed local theaters, it seemed like everyone in the world was waiting with bated breath for the epic conclusion to the ever so successful Harry Potter film franchise. Words cannot express the hype surrounding this movie, because not even Twilight has a fan base as dedicated as Harry Potter. But the question on everyone's mind: Will the new movie be good enough to wear the Harry Potter title?

In many ways, the film is a major success and does the final book justice. It is filled with brilliant performances, especially from the leading three actors, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. Also contributing excellent performances are Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, and Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort. Alan Rickman gives a particularly riveting performance, as we see Snape evolve throughout the final half of the film. The cinematography is also superb, as every shot of Hogwarts is lighted to enhance each and every tiny detail, making the set feel truly alive. The action sequences are tightly shot, coming out better in this installment than any other film.

The most glaring weakness in not only this film, but every Harry Potter film is the translation from book to big screen. Many loyal Harry Potter fans will be upset to see many scenes from the book omitted from the film. This is more apparent now in the finale, because the filmmakers had two movies to work with, giving them ample time and room to include every detail from the book. Even still, many scenes are either removed or cut down in the movie, which takes away from the otherwise epic feel of the picture. I won't go into explicit details with this, as it is impossible to do without spoiling the film. Another problem is the quality of the score. Often times, the music backing an epic sequence is just poorly done, feeling clunky and misplaced.

As the most profitable film series comes to a close, many Harry Potter fans will find themselves disappointed by the lack of complete loyalty to the books. But this is by no means a 'bad' movie. It certainly fails to recapitulate the essence and feel that the first three films had in abundance. Nevertheless, this is a worthy ending to what has proven to be an epic series.

Slumdog Millionaire
½

Lacking the emotional resonance that is commonly lauded for, Slumdog Millionaire combines a Bollywood version of Who wants to be a Millionaire, scenes of torture (which feel very limited and simplistic), and flashbacks to Jamal's memories. With such an intriguing, if not predictable concept, the fact that this film feels forced makes the final outcome all the more disappointing. The only thing anchoring Slumdog Millionaire from sailing off into a sea of unforgivable film is the stellar acting used to portray Jamal (Dev Patel, Tanay Chheda). Some solid acting notwithstanding, Slumdog Millionaire aims to be a unique spectacle of cinema. Instead, it ends up coming across as horribly pretentious, visually boring, and easily forgettable.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

There are some films that are made with such a beautiful touch, with such grandiose, that they should never be remade. One film that fits this mold is the Gene Wilder classic 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'. Yes, author of the book, Roald Dahl publicly bashed the original film adaptation, claiming that it was "not the book I wrote". Sure, it certainly strays away from the source material in some scenes, but it has an overwhelming warmth to it, and Gene Wilder gives a dazzling performance as Willy Wonka. Tim Burton's adaptation, on the other hand, is more loyal to the text in the literal sense. But it completely misses in the atmosphere category, as the film feels like any other Tim Burton film; dark, creepy, basically a '90s goth teen's bedroom. Johnny Depp is treacherously miscast as Wonka. Instead of an ambiguously cynical mastermind with a good heart and a warm aura, Depp portrays Wonka as a cynical, mean-spirited candy tycoon with no real positive traits to admire. The children in both films (save for Charlie, of course) are wretched, unforgivable little brats who make the audience cringe in disgust at their antics. Burton's cast of children are indeed vile, but aren't as effective in persuading the audience that they are getting their just desserts. Both Charlies are played with warmth and compassion, but Peter Ostrum's performance in the original is far more believable and superior in every way. Sure, Burton may select to remain true to the book in most cases (although he does stray away in some instances), but he completely misses the warmth and undeniable likeability within the main cast. It turns into an awful misfire, as Burton adds his trademark touch to the film, and it is most certainly out of place.

The Mask
The Mask(1994)
½

Based upon the Dark Horse comic book series, 'The Mask' is a screwball comedy through and through and is a great vessel of Jim Carrey's versatility which helped him make a name for himself early in his career. Chock full of in-jokes, slapstick comedy, and non-stop laughs, 'The Mask' is a fun action comedy that keeps the laughs rolling and never takes itself too seriously.

8 Mile
8 Mile(2002)

More often than not, films made about certain cultural movements are forgotten. After their fifteen minutes on the top shelf expires, they're swept under the rug and rarely seen again. '8 Mile' most definitely does not fit this mold, and will be remembered for its profound story (albeit somewhat autobiographical of rapper Eminem's life story), stalwart performances from its leads, and richly effective delivery through both direction and cinematography.

'8 Mile' follows the life of Jimmy "B-Rabbit) Smith Jr, as he rises to fame and glory during the inner-city rap movement of the 1990s. Rabbit lives at home in a trailer park with his alcoholic mother, younger sistery Lily, and his mother's abusive boyfriend, Greg. Rabbit fails to launch his musical career, and chokes during a rap battle. For a majority of the first third of the film, Rabbit does nothing but pity himself for his situation, and blame others for it. As the story progresses, he realizes that he must take control of his life, and subsequently gets a job in a factory in order to support his mother and sister. Jimmy eventually makes the decision to delve back into the musical scene, and this is where the movie truly takes off.

Where '8 Mile' succeeds is where most other biographical films fail. It delivers with a competent cast, with each actor bringing their A-games with convincing performances and emotional connectivity. Eminem wisely chooses to take up the role of himself, as opposed to letting some hip, trendy actor perform the task. This adds an emotional layer to the film, making it all the more believable and heart wrenching. Kim Basinger and Brittany Murphy both deliver in their roles as Jimmy's drunken mother and adulterous girlfriend, Alex, respectively. The cinematography is top-notch, with a majority of the filming done in Eminem's hometown of Detroit.

'8 Mile ' is not without its flaws, though. There is a large amount of drag throughout, specifically surrounding Rabbit's steadfast effort to provide for support for his family. The story is also more than familiar, and is, as such, overly predictable. But what biographical film isn't, in all fairness. Several supporting actors, especially those close to Rabbit, are deeply dislikalbe, specifically Cheddar Bob, who is obnoxious, stupid, and feels like an unneeded comic relief to bring some laughs.

While it is somewhat riddled with imperfections, '8 Mile' is not only an enjoyable story, but also a well-crafted entry into the film world. Marshall "Eminem" Mathers proves to the audience that he is not only a top-class rapper, but a more-than-competent actor, able to convey emotion almost effortlessly. While the story of a down-on-his-luck schmo may feel recycled to most, Jimmy's ascent to success is still without a doubt enjoyable, and emotionally gratifying in the end.

Clerks II
Clerks II(2006)

What was expected to be another lackluster Kevin Smith film following his release of 'Jersey Girl' in 2004, 'Clerks II' delivers on almost every level the first Clerks hit upon. Following Dante Hicks and Randall Graves yet again, the clerks have relocated to Moobie's, following the accidental destruction of the Quick Stop at the hands of Randall's forgetfulness. Dante is on the cusp of marriage and moving away to Florida with his fiancee, leaving Randall behind. Smith and Jason Mewes also reprise their roles as Jay and Silent Bob, who have also relocated to Moobie's, following their time in rehab. Clerks II is filled with your expected Kevin Smith-esque dialogue, chock-full with gratuitous gross-out, off-color, and beyond the line of racist jokes, anything you could expect from such a film. Although it lacks the fire and some of the chemistry contained in the original, Clerks II still delivers on every level you would expect it to. As a Smith fan, quite obviously a must-see. As any other movie fan, still a must-see, although the film contains many in-jokes from within the series, it is still a very well made, uniquely heart-filled comedy that won't disappoint.

The Hangover Part II

What would you have if you replaced a baby with a monkey, a groom with the brother of the bride, and the Vegas Strip with Bangkok? You would have 'The Hangover II'. Unoriginal, uninspired, and audaciously derivative, the sequel to the 2009 summer hit lacks in every major area that its predecessor succeeds.

'The Hangover Part II' follows Phil, Stu, and Alan once again, this time with Stu playing the groom. Stu is set to marry his fiancee Lauren. While Stu wishes to avoid any further mishaps caused by out of control bachelor parties, the audience already knows what its in for. Waking up in the morning, Phil, Stu, and Alan are aghast to find themselves in a cheap hotel in Bangkok, with Lauren's teenage brother Teddy missing. The only trace of Teddy left behind is a severed finger, with his Stanford class ring attached to it.

While most of the comedic material here is horribly familiar, what little amounts of original content is grossly over-the-top, which will more than likely leave more than one person in the audience a fair bit nauseated. Director Todd Phillips also makes the mistake of making none of the lead characters likeable, leaving the audience feeling bored and disconnected. Alan, played by Zach Galifianakis, suffers the worst character shift from the first film, becoming unlikable, unfunny, and all-in-all irritating.

With the success of the first 'Hangover', it was glaringly obvious that a sequel was soon to follow. While there isn't a definitive way to stray from the tracks left by the first 'Hangover' film, Phillips beats into the ground everything that worked in the original, adding graphic nudity and an abundance of gross-out moments for cheap laughter. While the films is basically guaranteed to be a splash at the box office, many fans of the original (myself included) will be overwhelmingly disappointed at this disjointed carbon copy of its precursor.

The Joneses
The Joneses(2010)
½

While boasting stellar performances by Duchovny and Moore, 'The Joneses' isn't a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. It would have been far more satisfying if director Derrick Borte hadn't ended the film on such a cliche, Disney note. Closure is the film's most glaring weakness, and within the final ten minutes, closure is all the film has to offer.

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

It's terribly vulgar, it's over-the-top in terms of gross factor, and above all else, it's a witty social commentary on censorship and the importance of not shifting the blame from where it deserves to fall. 'South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut' stands out as the first full-length animated feature to challenge our societal views on the most taboo of subjects, including vulgar language, crude humor, sexuality, and violence. Trey Parker and Matt Stone deliver with what they do best, poking fun at the masses and bringing to a point the importance of free speech, placing blame where blame deserves to be, and of course, making the rest of the population's jaws drop. The film follows the lives of Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, four boys from South Park, a quaint town in Colorado. The boys sneak into an R-rated movie, starring their favorite foul-mouthed Canadians, Terrence and Phillip. The four are immediately blurting out obscenities after leaving the movie theater, spreading their vulgar dialect to their friends at the elementary school. Parents and school faculty are disturbed by the language of the children, and a movement against Terrence and Phillip soon ensues. The boys are forced to work together in order to save the comedic duo from the vengeful parents, to avoid war with Canada, and the rise of Satan and Saddam Hussein, who had been previously trampled to death by a pack of wild boars. 'South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut' delivers where the show is unable to, with harsh language and graphic animated violence that will make you double over and hold your sides from the laughter that inevitably will follow. The film not only works as a musical number, but as a backhanded social commentary, as well. It's a witty, satirical entry into the film world by Parker and Stone, who prove above all else, the importance of free speech isn't easily diluted down by over-the-top humor and jokes, but merely empowered by it.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

In 1984, on a budget of 6.5 million dollars, James Cameron was able to envelop us in a world of his own in 'The Terminator'. His creation combines raw human emotion with breathtaking action sequences to create what is commonly referred to as a science fiction masterpiece. Seven years later, on a budget exceeding the previous film's by nearly 20 times, Cameron hits gold with with 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day'.

The action picks up thirteen years later in 1997. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton both reprise their roles as the T-800 and Sarah Connor, respectively. But the T-800 has been reprogrammed to protect 13 year old John Connor, played by Edward Furlong, from a new enemy, a state-of-the-art terminator, the T-1000, played by Robert Patrick. The T-1000 is an especially fascinating villain, as it is made of liquid metal, and is able to repair itself following damage, and can copy any non-mechanical being it comes in contact with. Sarah has been confined to a mental institution due to her troublesomely explicit knowledge of the future.

'Judgment Day' could have taken a turn towards the action-filled, heartless science fiction films that commonly make hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office, but are generally poorly made and leave the viewer without any emotional payoff. Instead, T2 takes a radically different turn for the better, as we see every character evolve through their interactions with each other. The Terminator is ordered by John not to kill anyone, which he is specifically programmed for. In turn, The Terminator plays a father figure to John, as he has never had a true father following the death of Kyle Reese, his biological father and protector of Sarah Connor in 1984. Sarah is initially apprehensive of the Terminator, due to the fact that he was originally sent back in time to kill her in the first film. Overcoming her fear and predisposition of him, Sarah places her trust and her son's life in his hands.

'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' stands alone as possibly the best film sequel of all time. Cameron balances character development with tightly shot action sequences in a perfect manner. What the first film possesses in heartfelt sentiment and action, 'Terminator 2' has it in larger amounts, and it works flawlessly. Every character's emotion is completely plausible, and the viewer will find themselves immersed in a realistic world crafted masterfully by Cameron. With four Academy Awards under its belt, Judgment Day easily seals itself in history as one of, if not THE best science fiction/action film of the 1990s, if not ever, a true masterpiece.

Defiance
Defiance(2009)
½

World War II films will forever face the burden of being compared to classics such as 'Saving Private Ryan' or 'Schindler's List'. Within the last five or six years, there has been a drought of high-quality World War II films. In 2008, Defiance was the greatly needed rain to quench the thirst of wanting movie goers. Edward Zwick, director of several big-name war films which include 'Glory', 'Courage Under Fire', 'The Last Samurai', and 'Blood Diamond', brings to light the struggle of the Bielski brothers, as they create a society and protect other escaped Jews within the woods of Eastern Europe.

Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber, and Jamie Bell shine in their lead roles, playing Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski respectively. Tuvia and Zus's relationship, while somewhat sparse from time to time, is the strongest link between two characters the film experiences. After Zus parts from Tuvia and the rest of the commune, Tuvia begins to suffer emotionally. Tuvia's command over the commune begins to amass protesters, as well, as it becomes more and more communistic in nature.

The film's largest flaw comes with its poorly detailed actions sequences. Albeit these scenes are limited to say the least, they still detract from the film's overall presence. Historical accuracy also becomes somewhat questionable, as several accounts of atrocities committed against Poles in Eastern Poland are completely exempt. All in all, 'Defiance' is a strong film, enjoyable, and emotionally satisfying.

A Clockwork Orange

A masterpiece of its time, A Clockwork Orange stars Malcolm McDowell as a witty, violent, and seemingly psychopathic teenager who spends his nights with his droogs, committing acts of violence and rape to satisfy himself. Kubrick does a masterful job adapting this sickly dark story, and Beethoven's music adds a brilliant juxtapose to the film, often played at seemingly inappropriate times. Without a doubt, Kubrick nailed the story, and created a movie far ahead of its time. Highly recommended, albeit not for the faint of heart.

The Midnight Meat Train

Following his success with the low-budget Zombie thriller 'Versus', Ryuhei Kitamura hits it big once more with 'The Midnight Meat Train'. Starring Bradley Cooper and Vinnie Jones, Meat Train is an unrelenting gore-fest, sure to make even the most tenured of horror fans to jump out of their seats.

The story follows two very well performed characters, Leon, the New York City photographer, who is relatively kept to himself in his business, and Mahogany, a sociopathic murder who preys on the isolated people taking the subway at night. Leon, played quite shockingly well by Bradley Cooper, takes interest in Mahogany, following his every move. Magogany, played by Vinnie Jones, is a silent and sadistic killer, who brutally murders his victims with a meat hook and tenderizer, and doesn't speak a word of a dialogue throughout the film. Mahogany serves as a compelling antagonist, played with a fascinating sense of polish and sadism by Jones.

The setting of a subway train makes for an isolating and entrapping location for a killer to prowl unrelentingly, and is used brilliantly throughout. The camera work plays a vital role in the film, with numerous scenes shot so tightly, the viewers can easily find themselves lost within the claustrophobic subway environment. One of the more well filmed shots employing the use of clever camera tactics includes a woman being decapitated in gruesome fashion, and finishes with her severed head rolling away and facing Mahogany.

'The Midnight Meat Train' is in no way, shape, or form for the squeamish or weak stomached. The gore is realistic, the deaths are frightening, and the climax is completely unseen and enacted brilliantly. For any horror connoisseurs, this film is a must see.

The Dark Knight

Contrasting the lack of brilliance within the generation, The Dark Knight is everything you've come to expect it to be and more. It's action-packed, thrilling, and loaded with compelling characters and dialogue. Heath Ledger's performance of 'The Joker' steals the show in every way possible. Ledger lives up to every accolade he had been given in his masterful portrayal of a twisted, masochistic killer who wants nothing more than to turn Gotham upside down and corrupt the heroes of the city. This is not to say by any stretch of the imagination that any other cast members didn't deliver, because all of them most certainly did. Christian Bale and Aaron Eckhart both knock the ball out of the park with their portrayals of Batman and Harvey "Two Face" Dent respectively. Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, a love interest of both Bruce Wayne and Dent. Rounding out the main core of the cast are Michael Caine as Bruce's seemingly omniscient butler, Alfred, and Gary Oldman as Officer-turned-Commissioner Gordon. With Bale, Caine, Freeman, and Oldman reprising their already well established characters of 'Batman Begins', the plot becomes thick with rich detail, drama, thrills, and all the action a summer movie of this caliber is expected to carry. 'The Dark Knight' is undoubtedly one of, if not, the best superhero film ever made. Christopher Nolan brings life back to a hero who was considered a joke above all others following a string of poorly made movies, but I won't get into that. To sum it all up as best as I can, it is a beautifully made work of art that will shatter any negative preconceived notions you may have had about super hero movies, and of Christopher Nolan's writing and directing talent.

Metal: A Headbanger's Journey
½

Let's face facts here, documentaries are typically slow-paced, boring, and dull. Metal: A Headbanger's Journey never comes close to a cookie-cutter documentary, but quite the opposite. The film follows anthropologist Sam Dunn, as he studies the culture of heavy metal around the world, specifically, the dismissal, stereotyping, and lampooning of it. Filled to the brim with captivating interviews, and of course, heavy metal music to the extreme, A Headbanger's Journey is an excellently made documentary. Although it will most likely not convert your hipster friends into massive metalheads, it will certainly enlighten any outsiders to understand the culture surrounding the music, and imbue the older fans with a sense of pride. If you're a metal fan and you haven't seen this film, I highly recommend taking 90 minutes out of your day to see it. Even as a non-metal head, I would still recommend you see it, as it is as educational is it is entertaining.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)
½

With a movie that had been 14 years in the making, most had very high hopes for 'Avatar'. In 2009, those hopes and wishes paid off in what will be forever remembered as the breakthrough film for 3D effects. James Cameron delivers a masterfully made epic film which pushes the boundaries of imagination and film making to a new level. 'Avatar' focuses on Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-marine, whose twin brother was killed off-screen prior to an "Avatar Mission". The film takes off from there, as Sully regains his ability to walk within his 'Avatar', a hybrid clone of the Na'vi, a race indigenous to the planet Pandora, that the humans are able to control through mental link. Avatar is as beautiful a story as any, and the storyline, albeit very overused in cinematic history, works quite well here. The world that James Cameron has made should most definitely be seen in 3D; it is beautiful, realistic, and quite easy to become immersed in. The film does run rather long, approximately 160 minutes, but this shouldn't deter you from seeing it, because the time quite literally flies by as you become sucked into this masterfully crafted epic film. With the storyline being slightly trite, and the run time being rather steep, I can't give Avatar a perfect 5 stars. But don't let that stop you from taking a step into what is possibly one of the most amazing display of special effects and well-acted character films of our generation.

Requiem for a Dream

Director Darren Aronofsky presents a horrifyingly realistic look into the world of addictions, and pushes the envelope in every sense of the way. The film delves into the lives of mother-and-son, Sara and Harry Goldfarb, Harry's best friend, Tyrone, and Harry's girlfriend, Marion, as all four struggle with corrosive addictions. While ...Harry, Marion, and Tyrone struggle with their heroin addiction, Sara suffers from an equally harrowing addiction to weight loss pills, in an attempt to fit into the red dress she had worn at Harry's graduation, the proudest moment in her memory.

Aronofsky brilliantly adds his own personal touch to the film, with the frequent use of split-screen, tight close-ups, and montages of short clips, with genius symbolism throughout. Leto, Burstyn, Wayans, and Connelly deliver perfectly, as each eventually meets their own fate alone.

This film is by no means a morality check, nor is it about scum getting away with murder. Aronofsky delivers a brilliant contrast of both, as the story, characters, and emotions all feel genuine. All of this is capped off by a truly breathtaking soundtrack by Clint Mansell, whose musical expertise more than shines throughout.

In no way is this a film for the weak stomached. It is graphic, it is disturbing, and it is brutally honest. All of that aside, it is an absolute masterpiece of its time, Requiem for a Dream will make your stomach churn, and simultaneously pull at your heartstrings in a perfect balance.