Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Title: Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Elodie Yung
Genres: Adaptation, Drama, Thriller
Running Time: 2 hours. 40 minutes
Release Date: December 21st, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: I loved the books, as well as the original Swedish movie adaptation (read my review here), so it was with some trepidation that I watched the Hollywood-ized adaptation.

And Fincher's version of 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' is good. The script has been altered quite a bit, some for the better, and some for the worse. I did really enjoy the fact that they still filmed it in Sweden (which happens to be my home country), but that may be my own bias, since several people I went with specifically mentioned this as one thing they didn't like.

Personally, my biggest gripe with the remake is Lisbeth herself. In the Swedish version, this character is brought to life in one of the most authentic performance I've seen in a while. Noomi Rapace climbed into this fictional character, and basically lived as Lisbeth Salander for 3 years, while filming the trilogy. She IS Lisbeth.

Here, we get to see the Hollywood version of Lisbeth, and it is a stark contrast. While they look very similar, this Lisbeth is more surface, less substance. Instead of showing us who she is, she tells us. Instead of the quiet threat of Rapace's Lisbeth, we here have a Lisbeth who screams in people's faces to show her aggression. At the same time, the fragile vulnerability of Rapace's Lisbeth is absent in Mara's Lisbeth, and the space left behind is stuffed with stereotypical clichés. While the Swedish Lisbeth would never care if Michael sees someone else, the Hollywood Lisbeth is miffed and jealous, something that doesn't quite gel with this emotionally detached character. Furthermore, I wish the dragon would have been left alone. I much preferred it when it ripped it's way out of Lisbeth's entire body, instead of the small dragon on her shoulder we see here. The change is quite telling.

That is not to say that Mara's version is weak. Far from it. If hers was the only portrayal of this character, it would be a very strong performance. However, as it is, the original portrayal was better. I do hope, as the remake trilogy continues, that Mara brings some more substance to her version of Lisbeth.

The strength of the American version, much to my surprise, is Daniel Craig. His performance as Mikael Blomqvist is excellent. It's one of, if not the, best performance of his career. I find myself looking forward to where he will take this role in the following two films. Well done, Mr. Craig.

The Swedish films are raw, with a typically Swedish starkness, and every scene brings the story forward. The Hollywood version is more jagged, at some moments very much so. Some bits of the story have been scrambled for "movie making reasons", so fans of the book series will be surprised here and there. While it may be unfair to judge a remake film against its predecessor, so is the life of a remake. All in all, though, this version is a good film, and definitely worth a watch.
Grade: 7.5

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Title: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Steven Fry, Jared Harris, Kelly Reilly, Rachel McAdams, Eddie Marsan
Genres: Adaptation, Action/Adventure, Sequel
Running Time: 2 hours. 9 minutes
Release Date: December 16th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' has a lot of things going for it. It is funny, at times hilarious, the directorial style of Guy Ritchie suits the story and add interest, Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect Holmes, and the charming rapport between the characters, established in the first film, continues seamlessly in the sequel. The result is a highly entertaining film, with plenty of loose ends that sets up another sequel.

I do wish the story line would have been a bit stronger. Here, we're thrust into an already on-going case, where Holmes is already heavily involved in a "game of brains" with the villain. I would have much rather been along for the entire ride, and seen Holmes start this case from the beginning. It would have made for a stronger story, and a better film. It's a shame, because the potential to be an '8 or above' flick is obviously there, so I do feel a little cheated.

And now, I can't help to wonder about Adler. Is she, or isn't she? What do you think?
Grade: 7

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Title: Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Directed by: Brad Bird
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Josh Holloway, Anil Kapoor
Genres: Action/Adventure, Adaptation, Sequel, Thriller
Running Time: 2 hours. 12 minutes
Release Date: December 16th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: If you enjoyed the previous 'Mission Impossible' movies, you will like "MI4". The flavor is clearly that of another installment in the popular series, but a few things have been shaken up. This time, Tom's team are on their own, without an agency with resources to help them. Of course this bring a whole new set of problems, with continuously failing electronics, tools, computers, etc. which adds a lot of humor to the film.

However, it seems it is not only the equipment that is failing. The team, supposedly highly trained agents, the best of the best, are falling on their face over and over. Throughout the film I'm sitting there in my seat, wondering why the hell Agent Hunt (Tom Cruise) wouldn't be able to catch a middle-aged Swede (played by Michael Nyqvist which some might recognize from the Swedish 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' films), who plays a physics professor with a pot belly & no special training. Over and over again, this professor beats the shit out of Agent Hunt. I find that odd.

Of course, this is a movie, and things happen in movies that wouldn't happen in reality. That goes with the territory. Reality is one of those things one has to temporarily let go of in order to absorb the reality the movie is selling, it's an essential part of appreciating the typical Hollywood action flick. If we start comparing our reality to the one they are selling us in films like this, the enjoyment falls away. However, I am not fact checking this agains our reality, just against the one that has been portrayed in the MI movie series. I do not think that the fact that Agent Hunt can't beat an old man gelled very well with the history of this character, or the reality created in the films.

Besides that, take into account that this is the fourth sequel of the series, something that doesn't happen everyday, it isn't a bad flick, and it's sure to delight fans of the series.
Grade: 6

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Sitter

Title: The Sitter
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Starring: Jonah Hill, Max Records, Ari Graynor, J.B. Smoove, Sam Rockwell
Genres: Comedy
Running Time: 1 hour. 21 minutes
Release Date: December 9th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: I can always be convinced to see a Jonah Hill flick, and 'The Sitter' was no exception. Although it is definitely not a 'Superbad' or 'Pineapple Express', it is a funny comedy. It has some absolutely thigh-slappingly hilarious moments, some that fall way short of funny, and some that are so awkward it's almost painful to watch. All in all, it's not a bad way to spend an hour twenty minutes, if you're looking for some light entertaining.
Grade: 6.5

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

Title: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
Directed by: Bill Condon
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser
Genres: Drama, Romance, Sequel, Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hour. 57 minutes
Release Date: November 18th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: Once again, I find myself in the midst of Twi-hard mania at midnight on a Thursday night, waiting for the squeals of delight to begin. This being fourth film in the series, the level of frenzy has been building with each installment, and now, almost at the conclusion of the story, the theater is literary vibrating with excitement. Breaking Dawn is the thickest book in the series, and it's packed, so I understand the decision to make it into two films. However, holding off on the second part for another year, might constitute torture for some die hard fans.

The film itself is quite true to the book, and fairly well made (especially compared to the first horrible flick). The special effects have improved exponentially, from crazy road-runner-esque and throughly hilarious home-video quality of effects, to the amazing work we see in this installment. I'm particularly referring to Bella's transformation in this film, which is very well done, and leaves quite a strong impression. The wolves are visually satisfactory, although the portrayal of the pack-mind leaves a little something to be desired. I literary laughed out loud in the theater (not something that was very well received) the first time the pack-mind came on the screen.

The supporting cast of Bella's school friends, although having a very small part in this film, bring their usual funny quips, which got some laughs. We also do get to see a bit more of Bella's new family vampire members, which has been largely missing from the previous films. As in any film adaptation, quite a bit is missing "for movie making reasons", and what we do get to see is alright. I would have liked to have more. The film is not exceedingly long, and I do think they could have included a bit more.

All in all, Part 1 does won't disappoint fans, at least not very much. The wedding is beautiful, the dress is very Bella, Isle Esme is actually just as advertised, and everything that follows is a fairly accurate adaptation of the book. One guaranteed disappointment is the anticlimactic wedding night sex, which due to the MPPA rating was down grated to a mild make-out session, and then skips to the next morning. Although, that is of course exactly as in the book, and the one detail they should have changed in Hollywood. If you haven't read the book, you might find yourself a bit confused, not to mentioned floored by the crazy turn the story takes after the Honeymoon.

Grade: 8.5

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Descendants

Title: The Descendants
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Mary Birdsong, Nick Krause, Jude Greer
Genres: Drama, Comedy, Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hour. 55 minutes
Release Date: November 18th, 2011 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'The Descendants' is one of the best films of 2011, one of the few movies that qualified to be on the Must-See List of this year.

'The Descendants' is a well made film. It is very well casted, and the entire crew puts in very strong performances. George Clooney's pulls off one of the absolute best performances of his career. He is strong, vulnerable, angry, grieving, lost, and confused, all at the same time, and he really makes the audience care for him. And this is what makes this film so good, the real struggles these characters face, an how they deal with those struggles. It's all in here, the mistakes and the triumphs.

Do yourself a favor, and do not miss 'The Descendants'.
Grade: 8.5

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Ides of March

Title: The Ides of March
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Even Rachel Wood
Genres: Drama, Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hour. 42 minutes
Release Date: October 7th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: Having heard great things about 'The Ides of March', I had high hopes walking into this film. And it does not disappoint.

'The Ides of March' is one of those films where quality parts have been put together to make a great product. Casting, and acting are great, as are the story, the writing and directorial work. The pace is quite slow, but charged with tension, which avoids the audience getting bored. Well done, Mr. Clooney, well done!

'The Ides of March' is one of the best films this year. Period. Do not miss this one.
Grade: 8

Friday, September 23, 2011


Title: Moneyball
Directed by: Bennet Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Genres: Biopic, Drama, Sports
Running Time: 2 hours. 6 minutes
Release Date: September 23rd, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: I am not usually a big fan for sports movies. At least not the typical garden variety of sports films, filled with cliches, and predictably triumphant endings. 'Moneyball' is not one of those films. 'Moneyball' is a film about people, more than it is about sports. It is also one of the best films of the year.

The story is good, the casting fantastic, and the performances brilliant. Brad Pitt is great as the GM of the Oakland A's, Philip Seymour Hoffman's does epic grumpy as only he can, and Jonah Hill shows us he can actually do more than be funny; he can act.

If the typical underdog-to-thriumph story is your thing, you might be disappointed with this film. You'd be crazy, but you know, "to each their own". For everyone else, catch 'Moneyball', because it's one of the few really great films so far this year. I know, this year suffers from severe good-film-drought, so that doesn't say a lot. However, even compared to a year with an epic film crop, 'Moneyball' would be one of the best.
Grade: 9


Title: Abduction
Directed by: John Singleton
Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, Maria Bello, Jason Isaac
Genres: Drama, Action/Adventure
Running Time: 1 hour. 36 minutes
Release Date: September 23rd, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: I will say, this is not the typical cheesy action plot, however, a good movie, it is not. Our young hero, Taylor Lautner, and Lily Collins, who plays his love interest, have the chemistry of two paper bags, and the acting chops to match. The acting of the entire cast is actually laughably poor throughout 'Abduction', which I found somewhat surprising given a supporting cast consisting of Maria Bello and Sigourney Weaver.

Overall, 'Abduction' can safely be missed. In fact, save your pennies and your time and skip this one.
Grade: 5.5

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Debt

Title: The Debt
Directed by: John Madden
Starring: Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Wilkinson
Genres: Drama, Thriller, Suspense
Running Time: 1 hour. 54 minutes
Release Date: August 31st, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'The Debt' is a well casted, well acted film, telling an interesting story. It is the English language remake of the Israeli thriller 'Ha-Hov', which centers on three Mossad agents on a mission to identify and apprehend Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor nicknamed the Angel of Death for his experiments on Auschwitz inmates, now suspected of living and practicing medicine in 1966 Berlin. Of course, the mission goes sideways, and 'The Debt' tells of the events that follows that failed mission, which has far-reaching consequences, all the way to current time.

At times, 'The Debt' is a mix of white-knuckle tension, and the slow pace of stale memories, long-kept secrets and regret. The subject is meaningful, at times even gripping, the performances are solid, but somehow 'The Debt' fails to reach its full potential.
Grade: 6.5

Friday, August 26, 2011


Title: Colombiana
Directed by: Oliver Megaton
Starring: Zoe Zaldana, Michael Vartan, Amandla Stenberg
Genres: Action, Thriller
Running Time: 1 hour. 45 minutes
Release Date: August 26th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: 'Colombiana' is a classic "child-sees-parents-get-killed-grows-up-seeking-revenge" tale, and as such it is quite predictable. It is action packed, explosive, and filled with fight scenes.

Of course, the notion that a 95 lbs chick would be able to throw 200+ lbs guys around like she's had a dose of Hulk-making radiation is completely ridiculous, unless she really was a female Hulk. And as Zoe Saldana does not bust through her clothes and turn green in this flick (although, with the wardrobe she does have at her disposal, we get to see just as much of Ms. Saldana as if she would have exploded out of her clothes), the notion is back to being ridiculous. But this is popcorn entertainment, so let's not focus on that detail.

All in all, 'Colombiana' delivers what's expected; a sexy action flick, all style and no substance, for some light entertainment. Bring your teenage little brother and his High School buddies, they seem to be the target audience for this flick.
Grade: 6

Friday, August 12, 2011

30 Minutes or Less

Title: 30 Minutes or Less
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Danny R. McBride, Aziz Ansari, Michael Pena, Nick Swardson, Jesse Eisenberg, Fred Ward
Genres: Action, Comedy
Running Time: 1 hour. 23 minutes
Release Date: August 12, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: While '30 Minutes or Less' does have a few funny moments, the absolute crap of the rest of the film vastly outweighs the moments that might be considered worth while, and the resulting film is of Walk-Out quality. In fact, I did walk out of this one, and unless you're certain you'll live forever, and have 1 hour 23 to spare, don't waste your time.
Grade: 3

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Help

Title: The Help
Directed by: Tate Taylor
Starring: Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Ahna O Reilly
Genres: Drama, Adaptation
Running Time: 2 hours. 17 minutes
Release Date: August 10th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: After having thoroughly enjoyed the book, I was really looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation of 'The Help'. And it didn't disappoint. The movie was solid, well casted and well acted, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it mentioned again around award season.
Viola Davis, is wonderful in this film, as are most of the cast, and I feel they did capture the essence of the book, even though it is not a perfect word-for-word adaptation, but when is it ever?

I enjoyed how the movie-version of some of the really funny scenes of the book, the toilet scene, in particular, as well as how the movie portrayed the varying scenes of sadness from the book.
Overall, a good, solid film that I would recommend, although not as highly as the book.
If you liked 'The Secret Lives of Bees', this one will be right up your alley.

Grade: 8

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Whistleblower

Title: The Whistleblower
Directed by: Larysa Kondracki
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn
Genres: Drama, Thriller, Biography
Running Time: 1 hour. 52 minutes
Release Date: August 5th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'The Whistleblower', a drama based on the experiences of a police officer from Nebraska, Kathryn Bolkovac, who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia. During her mission, she uncovered a human trafficking ring involving the UN. However, I would not call it a drama, I would call it a thriller.

A thriller in which we get to follow Ms. Bolkovac as she comes in contact with the girls who are being/have been sold into a lifetime of sex slavery, and what happens when she tries to ring the alarm through her work channels at the UN. It's a horrifying look into the life of these girls, especially considering that this is not dreamt up by some Hollywood writer, looking for the next big blockbuster; it based on the truth. As are the government efforts going into keeping Ms. Bolkovak quiet. Interesting, indeed.

This film is brutal, hearth wrenching, even horrifying at times. And most frightening of all, very real. Rachel Weisz is great as Kathryn Bolkovac, and the rest of the cast, mostly unknown to me previously, also impressed with the authenticity of their portrayals. All in all, a film worth seeing, if for no other reason than to bring attention to the issues it represents.
Grade: 9

Friday, July 29, 2011

Crazy, Stupid Love

Title: Crazy, Stupid Love
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring: Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Kevin Bacon, Crystal Reed, Marisa Tomei, Joey King
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Running Time: 1 hour. 47 minutes
Release Date: July 29th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: First off, while I rarely watch, and even more rarely enjoy rom-coms, this cast was too good to pass up. I have a special place in my awkward-loving heart for Steve Carrell and Emma Stone, and who doesn't like Ryan Gosling? Well, I didn't before this film, with could be knows under the alternative title "Ryan Gosling Haters Converted to Ryan Gosling Lovers", and thus I have now joined the masses who worship this exemplary male specimen, which actually can act, as it turns out. Regardless, I walked into this one with no expectations to enjoy it, and was very surprised to find that I did.

As always, Steve Carrell portrays the "awkward, lost, confused grown man" extremely well, the man has a gift, and while the subject of divorce is a total bummer, the film turns out to be very heartwarming and, as always with Steve Carrell, quite funny. Furthermore, the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is perfect, and their part of the story has several epic scenes making fun of the usual rom-com fare, without coming across as parody. This film is sweet, and doesn't rely on either raunchy jokes or snark to get by. I surprised to say that I highly recommend it.
Grade: 8.5

Cowboys & Aliens

Title: Cowboys & Aliens
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano
Genres: Western, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thriller, Action/Adventure, Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hour. 58 minutes
Release Date: July 29th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: 'Cowboys & Aliens' is a film with an identity crisis. It starts as a Western, then morphs into a Sci-Fi flick, with some flickers of Action, Adventure, End-of-The-World, and sprinkles of Romance. I decided to give up trying to label this film, and, much to my surprise, I found myself entertained.

I'm usually not a big fan of Daniel Craig films, as I find his lack of acting skills distracting. Here, he is joined by a pretty interesting cast, which aid to dilute his ineptitude, and this is what saves the film. All in all, 'Cowboys & Aliens' is surprisingly entertaining.
Grade: 6

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ra;ph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Tom Felton, Bill Nighy, Bonnie Wright, Jason Isaacs, John Hurt
Genres: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Adaptation, Sequel
Running Time: 2 hours. 10 minutes
Release Date: July 15th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: 'Part 2' is here, and I am thorn between wanting to see this story to the end, and not wanting it to end. This is the end years in the making, and it this is a final film worthy of this amazing saga.

War is upon Hogwarts, and it is epic. Gone is the slow, depressing pace of 'Part 1'. We get answers to questions that have been left hanging for years, our heroes gets to fight back, and our villains get what they deserve. For instance, seeing Mrs. Weasley kicking Bellatrix's ass, and Neville getting his revenge, were both thoroughly satisfying moments. We also get the final verdict on Snape, and his story is surprisingly soft-hearted. After all, this is a story about love and friendship, and we feel it in this film. All in all, a deeply satisfying final movie in the series.
Grade: 9

Friday, July 8, 2011

Horrible Bosses

Title: Horrible Bosses
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Colin Farrel, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey
Genres: Comedy
Running Time: 1 hour. 33 minutes
Release Date: July 8, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'Horrible Bosses' is hilarious, extremely raunchy (they don't hand out R ratings to comedies for nothing), and custom made for anyone who has ever worked for an awful boss.

One of the high lights of this film is seeing Jennifer Aniston like we've never seen her before. Gone is her regular go-to of "cute & funny", and instead we get to see Ms. Aniston as outrageously inappropriate dentist, Dr. Julia Harris, who is sexually harassing her male employee. The result is a mix of thigh-slappingly funny, and so awkward that you have to watch through your fingers. Another high light is Colin Farrell, who is almost unrecognizable in heavy disguise.

The rest of the cast all put in solid performances, and the overall result is one of the funniest films of the year.
Grade: 7

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Super 8

Title: Super 8
Directed by: J.J Abrams
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Ron Eldard, Noah Emmerich, Gabriel Basso, A.J. Michalka
Genres: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Suspense
Running Time: 1 hour. 52 minutes
Release Date: June 10th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Rating: While the previews portrayed 'Super 8' as the second coming of E.T., touting Steven Spielberg as the producer. And while it does have an extraterrestrial, a second E.T. it is not. In fact, as the credits rolled, I walked out of the theater wondering "why not?". This film has all the right parts, and it should be epic, but it just isn't quite everything it could have been. The story is pretty good, the gang of kids the perfect mix, it even has a cute kid love story, and the aforementioned alien. But it is the human relationships that are a bit thin, and thus 'Super 8' falls short. It's a shame, really, because the potential obviously is there.
Grade: 7

Friday, June 3, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Title: X-Men: First Class
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Caleb Landry Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Zoë Kravitz
Genres: Sequel, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Adaptation, Action/Adventure
Running Time: 2 hours. 12 minutes
Release Date: June 3rd, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: 'X-Men: First Class' shows us the beginning, before Charles Xavier & Eric Lensherr took the names Professor X & Magneto. Before they were archenemies, and the war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-Men began, they were close friends, working together, with other Mutants.

I will admit to be somewhat of a sucker for comic adaptations, and this one was no exception. 'X-Men: First Class' is an entertaining flick for fans of Marvel, although, I would recommend leaving your comic nerd fact checker at the door.
Grade: 7

Friday, May 13, 2011


Title: Bridesmaids
Directed by: Paul Feig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O'Dowd, Wendi McLedon-Covey
Genres: Comedy
Running Time: 2 hour. 5 minutes
Release Date: May 13th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Review: 'Bridesmaides', dubbed by some as 'The Hangover' for women, is a fantastic display of both female humor and female talent in comedy. Kristen Wiig is brilliant as Annie, Melissa McCarthy shines in an epic-ly cringe-inducing performance, and the entire rest of the cast is brilliant in this flick. This movie is basically one big belly-laugh after the other, layered between embarrassment to severe is almost hard to watch. A must-see, one of the [few] shining stars in a dismal movie year.
Grade: 9

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fast Five

Title: Fast Five
Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Matt Schulze, Tyrese Gibson
Genres: Action/Adventure, Crime, Sequel
Running Time: 2 hours. 10 minutes
Release Date: April 29th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: Much to my surprise (and embarrassment) I actually enjoyed 'Fast Five'. Of course, it is absolutely preposterous, and completely detached from reality, but that comes with the territory. If you're looking for a realistic action flick that sticks to reality in their car chases, you've come to the wrong place (and where in Hollywood would you find an action flick like that, anyways?).

This is action through and through, from the first moment to the last minute. In my opinion, it's the best 'Fast' yet.
Grade: 6.5

Friday, April 22, 2011

Water For Elephants

Title: Water For Elephants
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz
Genres: Drama
Running Time: 2 hour. 1 minutes
Release Date: April 22nd, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: Water for Elephants, while I wouldn't call it a great, I can't deny that it is a very pretty film. However, it lacks in substance. Furthermore, the chemistry between Witherspoon and Pattinson is nonexistent. Waltz does a great bad guy, as always, and the elephant is adorable.
Grade: 6

Friday, April 8, 2011

Your Highness

Title: Your Highness
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Starring: James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, Charles Dance, Toby Jones
Genres: Comedy, Adventure, Period
Running Time: 1 hour. 42 minutes
Release Date: April 8th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'Your Highness' is equal parts absolutely over-the-top ridiculous, and equal parts hilarious. It is in the same flavor as 'Pineapple Express', but raunchier, and just slightly less funny. If you did enjoy the previous films from the same crew, you will most likely enjoy this one.
Grade: 7


Title: Hanna
Directed by: Joe Wright
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Niels Arestrup, Cate Blanchett, Jason Flemyng, Tom Hollander
Genres: Drama, Thriller
Running Time: 1 hour. X minutes
Release Date: APril 8th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: I am a huge fan of Cate Blanchett, and she is a big reason I went to see this film. Another is the trailer, which made 'Hanna' look like a really interesting, great film. And if you judge it on acting alone, 'Hanna' wouldn't be a bad movie. Unfortunately, is a bad movie.

The cast is brilliant, the acting pretty good. It's the story that is the problem here. The filming technique was interesting, different, but not better, and it left me annoyed more than anything. This one is a pass.
Grade: 5

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer

Title: The Lincoln Lawyer
Directed by: Brad Furman
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Michael Pena, Trace Adkins
Genres: Crime, Drama,
Running Time: 1 hour. 59 minutes
Release Date: March 18th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: Matthew McConaughey is a very unreliable actor. Every now and again, he delivers a performance like his work in 'A Right to Kill', and then there is a lot of 'Surfer, Dude' in between. 'The Lincoln Lawyer' is, surprisingly, thankfully, more "A Right to Kill' than "Surfer, Dude'. It is actually a good film. I might even admit to having my expectations blown out of the water on this one.

The rest of the cast all give great performances as well. Ryan Phillippe, in particular, does a very convincing, and thoroughly creepy portrayal of the nightmare legal client.

'The Lincoln Lawyer' is a solid film, I would definitely recommend seeing it. If you don't feel the need to catch it in the theaters, definitely see it at home.
Grade: 7.5

Friday, March 11, 2011

Red Riding Hood

Title: Red Hiding Hood
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez, Gary Oldman, Julie Christie, Maz Irons, Virginia Madsen
Genres: Horror, Thriller, Romance, Suspense, Fantasy
Running Time: 2 hours. 0 minutes
Release Date: March 11th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: While I can't say that I am looking forward to another Catherine Hardwick film, after her last one, the story about the little Red Riding Hood is epic, and I'm a sucker for a classic fairy tales. This adaptation looked very visually interesting, so I thought maybe, just maybe, this one has a chance.

And 'Red Riding Hood' definitely is visually dynamic, and it is easy to recognize Ms. Hardwick's directorial flavor, last seen in the first movie adaptation of 'Twilight'. Once again, Ms. Hardwick falls short of a great film, although 'Red Riding Hood' is definitely an improvement on her previous work.
Grade: 6

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Title: The Adjustment Bureau
Directed by: George J. Nolfi
Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Michael Kelly
Genres: Action/Adventure, Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Romance, Adaptation, Politics
Running Time: 1 hour. 46 minutes
Release Date: March 4th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: I like both Emily Blunt and Matt Damon, and thought this looked like an interesting, clever premise. And it is an interesting film, one that could have been fantastic if it would have been a little braver. As it is now, it is the romance and chemistry between Blunt & Damon that makes this film.

It is definitely worth its 1 hour 46 minutes, but it falls slightly short of where it could have gone.
Grade: 7

Friday, February 18, 2011


Title: Unknown
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, January Jones, Diane Kruger, Frank Langella, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz
Genres: Suspense, Thriller, Drama
Running Time: 1 hour. 39 minutes
Release Date: February 18th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: 'Unknown' relies on a derivative of the popular Hollywood "fish out of water" premise, in which Neeson's character wakes up in the hospital in a foreign country, after an accident, with amnesia. The only things he knows are his name, and the fact that he was in the country for a Biotech conference. Upon finding his way back to his hotel, he recognizes his wife, only to have her deny that he is her husband. Since he has no ID, he has no way to prove his identity.

What carries this film is Neeson, and while it won't win any Oscars, it is not a bad movie. On the contrary, it is an entertaining action drama, with some twists and turn you may not expect. All in all, a good time at the movies.
Grade: 6.5

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Mechanic

Title: The Mechanic
Directed by: Simon West
Starring: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Christa Campbell, Jeff Chase, Beau Brasso
Genres: Drama, Action, Remake
Running Time: 1 hour. 40 minutes
Release Date: January 28, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'The Mechanic', which is a remake of a 1972 film with the same name, tells the story of a professional assassin, played by Jason Stratham. Stratham follows a strict code to do his job, and he is the best in his business. After the death of his mentor, he take on his mentor's son, played by Ben Foster, as his apprentice, to teach him the code and the job.

It is a typical Stratham action flick of hard hits, splattering blood, strong language. We don't get to see a lot of Stratham's usual banter, which is a bummer, since he sometimes bring some humor to his roles. If you can forget about the [huge] holes in the plot, the generic nature of the story, and you're into by popcorn action flicks, you'll find this one acceptable for some light entertainment. Leave your common sense and logic by the door, though.
Grade: 6.5