The Grinch Review

Illumination Delivers Another Perfectly Acceptable if not Necessarily Exceptional Animated Diversion in this Re-Telling of the Dr. Suess Classic.

Bohemian Rhapsody Review

This Queen biopic Fails to Transcend the Genre the Way its Subjects Transcended the Music Scene, but at Least the Music is Good.

Overlord Review

Overlord Combines the Terror of War with the Terror of a Zombie Apocalypse and Accomplishes Exactly what it Means To.

The Nutcraker and the Four Realms Review

An All-Star Cast Attempts to Usher The Nutcracker Story to a New Generation Via Disney Blockbuster, but Unfortunately the Results Fall Short of the Ambition.

A Star is Born Review

Bradley Cooper Writes, Directs, Sings, and Stars in this Fourth Incarnation of this Story Alongside Lady Gaga to Rapturous Results.

DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS Review

'Dinner for Schmucks' never reaches its full potential. This is a sad thing for me to admit, what is even worse is that I had to slowly find this out as the movie slugged along for its full two hour run time. The odd but refreshing premise is a take off from a German film I've never seen or am likely to see, and as amusing as this may have sounded on paper and no doubt promised some serious laughs as the cast tossed ideas around that could go along with the premise-it just never gets there. How this happened is a very good question. Jay Roach who has crafted classics such as the 'Meet the Parents' and the 'Austin Powers' films, not to mention his work with Jim Carrey back in the day, is working with two of todays best and most popular funnymen, check. It is great and exciting to see Rudd and Carell on screen together again and they play off of each other well, check. The supporting cast here is comically amazing-Galifianakis, Dunham, Clement, even Livingston and Bruce Greenwood contribute their own funny bits, check. All of these elements should contribute to what should be one of the funniest films of the year. The key word in that last sentence is "should", stating what this movie very easily could have been. Instead what we have is a pretty good comedy that is seriously elevated by the committed, ridiculous and always charming performance of Mr. Carell. While Rudd is stuck playing the straight man for the second time in a row, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the act is too thin here whereas in 'I Love You, Man' his character had a ton more depth to him. Its understood that Carell is playing the idiot, and as he has done for six years on 'The Office' and did to perfection in 'Anchorman' Carell knows his obnoxious idiots back and forth. Barry is the ultimate unwelcome friend, the guy who literally messes up everything, including Tims relationships, business deals and so forth. The magic of the film is that Carell is still able to make us like him and his obnoxious Barry much more than Rudds Tim. Honestly, this is one of the only redeeming qualitites of the film-Carell scores most of the laughs (the ones he doesn't get going to Clement) and he makes the movies trek to get to the climactic dinner durable. And so, after way too long we do get to the dinner and this scene in particular raises the films overall score from an average three stars to its three and a half final grade. The competition and no doubt endless improvisation by Carell and Galifianakis is pure gold and are nothing short of a grand payoff for some of the more slowly paced parts earlier in the film. Yes, 'Dinner for Schmucks' never reaches its potential, but it comes really close at times, enough for it to be recommended. If only they had really went for it, Carell did, shame on you Mr. Roach for not backing him up.

DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS Review

'Dinner for Schmucks' never reaches its full potential. This is a sad thing for me to admit, what is even worse is that I had to slowly find this out as the movie slugged along for its full two hour run time. The odd but refreshing premise is a take off from a German film I've never seen or am likely to see, and as amusing as this may have sounded on paper and no doubt promised some serious laughs as the cast tossed ideas around that could go along with the premise-it just never gets there. How this happened is a very good question. Jay Roach who has crafted classics such as the 'Meet the Parents' and the 'Austin Powers' films, not to mention his work with Jim Carrey back in the day, is working with two of todays best and most popular funnymen, check. It is great and exciting to see Rudd and Carell on screen together again and they play off of each other well, check. The supporting cast here is comically amazing-Galifianakis, Dunham, Clement, even Livingston and Bruce Greenwood contribute their own funny bits, check. All of these elements should contribute to what should be one of the funniest films of the year. The key word in that last sentence is "should", stating what this movie very easily could have been. Instead what we have is a pretty good comedy that is seriously elevated by the committed, ridiculous and always charming performance of Mr. Carell. While Rudd is stuck playing the straight man for the second time in a row, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the act is too thin here whereas in 'I Love You, Man' his character had a ton more depth to him. Its understood that Carell is playing the idiot, and as he has done for six years on 'The Office' and did to perfection in 'Anchorman' Carell knows his obnoxious idiots back and forth. Barry is the ultimate unwelcome friend, the guy who literally messes up everything, including Tims relationships, business deals and so forth. The magic of the film is that Carell is still able to make us like him and his obnoxious Barry much more than Rudds Tim. Honestly, this is one of the only redeeming qualitites of the film-Carell scores most of the laughs (the ones he doesn't get going to Clement) and he makes the movies trek to get to the climactic dinner durable. And so, after way too long we do get to the dinner and this scene in particular raises the films overall score from an average three stars to its three and a half final grade. The competition and no doubt endless improvisation by Carell and Galifianakis is pure gold and are nothing short of a grand payoff for some of the more slowly paced parts earlier in the film. Yes, 'Dinner for Schmucks' never reaches its potential, but it comes really close at times, enough for it to be recommended. If only they had really went for it, Carell did, shame on you Mr. Roach for not backing him up.

SALT Review

The entire time I was watching this I was picturing Tom Cruise in the role of Salt. I couldn't get the idea of it out of my head and honestly it doesn't seem much had to be done to the script to make this fit Angelina Jolie's persona. Seeing as this ended up being a Jolie action pic though-it is clearly for the best. If this had ended up being a Cruise picture it would have simply been another secret agent character we've seen Cruise play before. And though Jolie has played in her fair share of action movies she has never really played one in the vein of Evelyn Salt. Salt is a movie with a pretty out there concept, but one that works because the people involved are so committed to making this work. Besides Jolies full-on tough girl act and inner-conflicts she unravels as the story goes on, we also have the great Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor taking the roles of the guys responsible for tracking her down and catching her. They are stock characters but the gifted actors make these chases all the more intense and interesting. The action scenes are the clear highlight of the film-Jolie takes some serious beatings and risks as she leaps from 18 wheeler to 18 wheeler and breaks into funerals and shoots up presidents as well as murdering twenty men without getting so much as a scratch on her. These entertaining pieces of violence are intertwined with flashbacks that flesh out Salts past as well as many a shots of her sneakily stealing things without anyone ever seeing. Sometimes the flashbacks come off a tad cheesy and the relationships between people are never sincere enough that we really buy into it. Especially the awkward marriage between Salt and her barely there husband. Although his presence offers reason for her change of heart and ultimately a turn in the plot, the emotional pull is never there and the final twist comes off as a bit of a lost cause-as if the writers weren't sure how to wrap this all up so they contrived it in ways that make it even harder to believe. Lets face it though, 'Salt' isn't about the relationships or the unbelievable plot, but it is about the action and the fun and if there was only one thing to say about 'Salt' it would certainly be it is a fun ride. A passable summer action flick at the very least.

SALT Review

The entire time I was watching this I was picturing Tom Cruise in the role of Salt. I couldn't get the idea of it out of my head and honestly it doesn't seem much had to be done to the script to make this fit Angelina Jolie's persona. Seeing as this ended up being a Jolie action pic though-it is clearly for the best. If this had ended up being a Cruise picture it would have simply been another secret agent character we've seen Cruise play before. And though Jolie has played in her fair share of action movies she has never really played one in the vein of Evelyn Salt. Salt is a movie with a pretty out there concept, but one that works because the people involved are so committed to making this work. Besides Jolies full-on tough girl act and inner-conflicts she unravels as the story goes on, we also have the great Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor taking the roles of the guys responsible for tracking her down and catching her. They are stock characters but the gifted actors make these chases all the more intense and interesting. The action scenes are the clear highlight of the film-Jolie takes some serious beatings and risks as she leaps from 18 wheeler to 18 wheeler and breaks into funerals and shoots up presidents as well as murdering twenty men without getting so much as a scratch on her. These entertaining pieces of violence are intertwined with flashbacks that flesh out Salts past as well as many a shots of her sneakily stealing things without anyone ever seeing. Sometimes the flashbacks come off a tad cheesy and the relationships between people are never sincere enough that we really buy into it. Especially the awkward marriage between Salt and her barely there husband. Although his presence offers reason for her change of heart and ultimately a turn in the plot, the emotional pull is never there and the final twist comes off as a bit of a lost cause-as if the writers weren't sure how to wrap this all up so they contrived it in ways that make it even harder to believe. Lets face it though, 'Salt' isn't about the relationships or the unbelievable plot, but it is about the action and the fun and if there was only one thing to say about 'Salt' it would certainly be it is a fun ride. A passable summer action flick at the very least.

THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE Review

In Bruckheimer's second Disney serving of the summer we are given one of those child fantasy films that I feel I should have loved as a child, but it is hard for me to see the magic in a movie that offers very little to root for. The usually charming Jay Baruchel is given little to do as his protagonist Dave makes hardly any transformation from geeky college kid to full on sorcerer. Sure, he gets the girl, and learns the magic, but we never feel the dude has worked hard enough to earn any of it. We don't even get a montage of Nic Cage schooling Dave on the ins and outs of some simple spells. I know, I know, montages are the epitome of cliche, but when used properly they are no doubt effective and one could surely have been used here. The lack of progression and the complete absence of good pacing is my main complaint here. Cage is in full on weirdo mode here and honestly, and this is weird for me to say, was my favorite thing about the film. He is on a roll with me after 'Kick-Ass' as is Alfred Molina who isn't as charming or entrancing as we was in that other Bruckheimer movie this summer, but he is impossible not to enjoy and here he plays the bad guy to its fullest. The film isn't as magical as its title would suggest and the kiddies in the theater when I watched the film were getting restless about halfway through and so points out another issue with the excitement level. This movie is about sorcerers and magic and Merlin's one and only apprentice that can save the world for heavens sake! Why is it not more exciting than this end product we've been given? I was never able to get into the 'National Treasure' films and if this film is any indication of those I will be able to hold off my interest even longer. 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' isn't necessarily a bad movie, its just not as good as it should be. It will do. It gets a passing grade for its special effects and the amount of fun the cast seem to be having-it is the story and execution that pull it down. At least 'Prince of Persia' was consistently entertaining.

THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE Review

In Bruckheimer's second Disney serving of the summer we are given one of those child fantasy films that I feel I should have loved as a child, but it is hard for me to see the magic in a movie that offers very little to root for. The usually charming Jay Baruchel is given little to do as his protagonist Dave makes hardly any transformation from geeky college kid to full on sorcerer. Sure, he gets the girl, and learns the magic, but we never feel the dude has worked hard enough to earn any of it. We don't even get a montage of Nic Cage schooling Dave on the ins and outs of some simple spells. I know, I know, montages are the epitome of cliche, but when used properly they are no doubt effective and one could surely have been used here. The lack of progression and the complete absence of good pacing is my main complaint here. Cage is in full on weirdo mode here and honestly, and this is weird for me to say, was my favorite thing about the film. He is on a roll with me after 'Kick-Ass' as is Alfred Molina who isn't as charming or entrancing as we was in that other Bruckheimer movie this summer, but he is impossible not to enjoy and here he plays the bad guy to its fullest. The film isn't as magical as its title would suggest and the kiddies in the theater when I watched the film were getting restless about halfway through and so points out another issue with the excitement level. This movie is about sorcerers and magic and Merlin's one and only apprentice that can save the world for heavens sake! Why is it not more exciting than this end product we've been given? I was never able to get into the 'National Treasure' films and if this film is any indication of those I will be able to hold off my interest even longer. 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' isn't necessarily a bad movie, its just not as good as it should be. It will do. It gets a passing grade for its special effects and the amount of fun the cast seem to be having-it is the story and execution that pull it down. At least 'Prince of Persia' was consistently entertaining.

INCEPTION Review

First and foremost, 'Inception' lived up to the expectations I held for it. And they were pretty darn high. Chris Nolan, with this original piece of filmmaking has set himself apart from just being "the guy who made The Dark Knight". This film, while not being as complicated as you may imagine. actually has the tone of a bank heist film. Of course the difference here being that in 'Inception' the bank is the mind and the team of robbers aren't stealing as they would usually do, but instead they are leaving something behind. It is a grand idea and Nolan explores it without losing anyone. Though he does assume his audience is smart enough to keep up, something we haven't really had to do much of this summer. This may be the most refreshing aspect of the film, that in a season filled with uninspired sequels, unnecessary remakes and plain ole lazy movies it is nice to see a movie that challenges its audience while never failing to entertain it as well. But back to the concept that makes this film engaging from start to finish. This, for me, is what movies are all about-a spectacle for the eyes and ears while enticing the viewer with a story that truly makes them think beyond the scope of what the films discussion offers up. There is no point in attempting to describe the plot of the film, it is one you must see for yourself and as you may have heard, come to your own conclusions. There are points in the film that we have figured out pretty early on, and we are fortunate to have Ellen Page on our side as she asks alot of the questions we ourselves are wondering. Speaking of Page, she does a wonderful job here. I wasn't sure how her quirkiness would fit into Nolan's epic action drama or how well she would mesh with the seriousness of DiCaprio, but she pulls it off well and is truly the one that forces the action forward and reveals layers of the story we may not have known had she not been present. As for DiCaprio himself, this feels a little redundant seeing as we just saw him in 'Shutter Island' playing the emotionally crippled widow. I have always been a fan of his though and had these movies not come out so close together it seems he would be getting more praise for his commanding performance. The casting is superb-if there were only time to go on about how effective Joseph Gordon-Levitt was or how charismatic Tom Hardy was; as well as Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy lending their great talents to slightly smaller roles. Marion Cotillard is quickly becoming one of my new favorite actresses, and here she plays the obstacle of Leo's subconscious and offers a real glimpse into how far in depth Nolan went with his thinking and scheming of the ins and outs of what it would take to in fact enter someones mind and create an alternate reality. 'Inception' asks some big questions-How do dreams come to us? Where does the origin of an idea come from? What makes our dreams any less real than what we perceive as reality? It is some seriously deep stuff and the final shot will no doubt have you debating with your friends for days after. In the end, as puzzling as it all may sound, 'Inception' makes sense and it is beautiful to witness (especially on the IMAX screen). The gravity defying fight scenes are elaborate and elegant, the snow-coated mountain shootouts are glorious and they are all built with a great tension that counts us down to that moment when everything has to be accomplished and the players must exit the dream. It is amazingly shot, perfectly edited and the best movie I have sen so far this year. It is an epic that deserves to be recognized for its thought provoking concepts. It is a movie that only comes along once in a great while.

INCEPTION Review

First and foremost, 'Inception' lived up to the expectations I held for it. And they were pretty darn high. Chris Nolan, with this original piece of filmmaking has set himself apart from just being "the guy who made The Dark Knight". This film, while not being as complicated as you may imagine. actually has the tone of a bank heist film. Of course the difference here being that in 'Inception' the bank is the mind and the team of robbers aren't stealing as they would usually do, but instead they are leaving something behind. It is a grand idea and Nolan explores it without losing anyone. Though he does assume his audience is smart enough to keep up, something we haven't really had to do much of this summer. This may be the most refreshing aspect of the film, that in a season filled with uninspired sequels, unnecessary remakes and plain ole lazy movies it is nice to see a movie that challenges its audience while never failing to entertain it as well. But back to the concept that makes this film engaging from start to finish. This, for me, is what movies are all about-a spectacle for the eyes and ears while enticing the viewer with a story that truly makes them think beyond the scope of what the films discussion offers up. There is no point in attempting to describe the plot of the film, it is one you must see for yourself and as you may have heard, come to your own conclusions. There are points in the film that we have figured out pretty early on, and we are fortunate to have Ellen Page on our side as she asks alot of the questions we ourselves are wondering. Speaking of Page, she does a wonderful job here. I wasn't sure how her quirkiness would fit into Nolan's epic action drama or how well she would mesh with the seriousness of DiCaprio, but she pulls it off well and is truly the one that forces the action forward and reveals layers of the story we may not have known had she not been present. As for DiCaprio himself, this feels a little redundant seeing as we just saw him in 'Shutter Island' playing the emotionally crippled widow. I have always been a fan of his though and had these movies not come out so close together it seems he would be getting more praise for his commanding performance. The casting is superb-if there were only time to go on about how effective Joseph Gordon-Levitt was or how charismatic Tom Hardy was; as well as Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy lending their great talents to slightly smaller roles. Marion Cotillard is quickly becoming one of my new favorite actresses, and here she plays the obstacle of Leo's subconscious and offers a real glimpse into how far in depth Nolan went with his thinking and scheming of the ins and outs of what it would take to in fact enter someones mind and create an alternate reality. 'Inception' asks some big questions-How do dreams come to us? Where does the origin of an idea come from? What makes our dreams any less real than what we perceive as reality? It is some seriously deep stuff and the final shot will no doubt have you debating with your friends for days after. In the end, as puzzling as it all may sound, 'Inception' makes sense and it is beautiful to witness (especially on the IMAX screen). The gravity defying fight scenes are elaborate and elegant, the snow-coated mountain shootouts are glorious and they are all built with a great tension that counts us down to that moment when everything has to be accomplished and the players must exit the dream. It is amazingly shot, perfectly edited and the best movie I have sen so far this year. It is an epic that deserves to be recognized for its thought provoking concepts. It is a movie that only comes along once in a great while.

GREENBERG Review

There was a layer of uncertainty in approaching 'Greenberg'. I was initially engaged with the film because of Stiller. I am an avid fan of his, especially his films he has directed. So to see him go off the beaten path here and try some character-driven material was something I have been waiting to see. There is no real plot here, as evidenced by its beginning and ultimately its final shot. This is simply an excerpt from a critical time in one mans life. That time period just happens to be when he isn't "doing much' in terms of what you normally expect a 40 year-old man to be doing in his day to day life or have accomplished by that point in his life. Roger Greenberg is a tad different though, fresh out of a "hospital" he has arrived at his vacationing brothers house in LA for six weeks. These six weeks give us as a viewer the opportunity to see Greenberg reconnect with old friends that he has had bumpy relationships with since he made some decisions they didn't agree with fifteen years prior. We slowly learn these details and as we get to know Greenberg more his environment also teaches us about him as well as his interaction with people giving us glimpses of his past and what has caused him to be the man he is today. It is very profound, some of the assertions he makes. The whole crisis of living a life that you never really expected to live is a big question and is really what Baumbach is trying to explore here. That thought and ultimate reality that the life you knew you would have as a child isn't going to come true is worth exploring, especially in the psyche of someone such as Greenberg. The film is a kind of psychological study, but it is also a nicely acted drama. From the lovely Greta Gerwig, who I haven't seen before this to Rhys Ifans, this is simply a pleasant cast that all seem to show our title character a little too much sympathy and give him one too many chances. Greenberg is brutally honest at times as well as being more rude than anything else, but Stiller gives a performance that makes him durable and makes us enjoy watching his life play out. 'Greenberg' is slowly paced and is essentially a character study, but I enjoyed the genuine moments between the people here, as well as the people and the dog. Touching stuff.

GREENBERG Review

There was a layer of uncertainty in approaching 'Greenberg'. I was initially engaged with the film because of Stiller. I am an avid fan of his, especially his films he has directed. So to see him go off the beaten path here and try some character-driven material was something I have been waiting to see. There is no real plot here, as evidenced by its beginning and ultimately its final shot. This is simply an excerpt from a critical time in one mans life. That time period just happens to be when he isn't "doing much' in terms of what you normally expect a 40 year-old man to be doing in his day to day life or have accomplished by that point in his life. Roger Greenberg is a tad different though, fresh out of a "hospital" he has arrived at his vacationing brothers house in LA for six weeks. These six weeks give us as a viewer the opportunity to see Greenberg reconnect with old friends that he has had bumpy relationships with since he made some decisions they didn't agree with fifteen years prior. We slowly learn these details and as we get to know Greenberg more his environment also teaches us about him as well as his interaction with people giving us glimpses of his past and what has caused him to be the man he is today. It is very profound, some of the assertions he makes. The whole crisis of living a life that you never really expected to live is a big question and is really what Baumbach is trying to explore here. That thought and ultimate reality that the life you knew you would have as a child isn't going to come true is worth exploring, especially in the psyche of someone such as Greenberg. The film is a kind of psychological study, but it is also a nicely acted drama. From the lovely Greta Gerwig, who I haven't seen before this to Rhys Ifans, this is simply a pleasant cast that all seem to show our title character a little too much sympathy and give him one too many chances. Greenberg is brutally honest at times as well as being more rude than anything else, but Stiller gives a performance that makes him durable and makes us enjoy watching his life play out. 'Greenberg' is slowly paced and is essentially a character study, but I enjoyed the genuine moments between the people here, as well as the people and the dog. Touching stuff.

DESPICABLE ME Review

There really is no one who can compare to the beauty and grace of a Pixar film, this is clear as I am still smiling about how good 'Toy Story 3' made me feel. This all may have a little bit to do with what a sluggish summer we have been having, but with Dreamworks offering up the wonderful 'How to Train Your Dragon' earlier this year and the new Illumination studios putting in their bid with 'Despicable Me' it is good to see others attempting for what Pixar has perfected. 'Despicable Me' is an interesting little film that offers a little bit of everything. It has its twist in that our main character, in an animated film none the less, is an evil supervillian. Gru is voiced by a wonderfully in character Steve Carell-doing some kind of off European accent that not only increases the hilarity of some of his lines but allows the more juvenile jokes to become funny. What is truly interesting about 'Despicable Me' is the inside look at the day to day of a bad guy. We are alwayd hearing about the heroes issues and problems, who knows what the bad guy is going through...the film brings depth to the phrase "its tough being bad". Gru has a lot on his plate, and is determined to regain his worlds number one supervillian statyus back from the new wonderboy baddie Vector. Vector is an odd little fella, fairly creepy, but easy to laugh at and an almost unnoticeable voice provided by Jason Segel makes him all that more funny. In fact, I would have loved to see this as a live-action film. I simply love all the voice actors we have here-Russell Brand is grand as Dr. Nefario, Kristin Wiig is great, as always, as Ms. Hattie and others such as Will Arnett, Danny McBride and even Julie Andrews all seem to be having a blast creating these characters. We get our dose of cuteness from the three little girls whom Gru adopts and ultimately teach Gru a lesson about love and what is really important in life, but the real heart and comedic soul of the film are the little yellow minions you've been seeing everywhere lately (there's already talk of them getting their own film). You will laugh at them for days after just thinking about some of their scenes. 'Despicable Me' is a fun time for both children, adults and even me, a 23 year-old who enjoys the work of the voice cast. I was not able to see this in 3-D although I have heard it uses the technique to its advantage and plays with the technology more than most have lately. I was certainly watching for the opportunities in 2D and wish I would have shelled out a few extra bucks, but 3D or no, 'Despicable Me' is a pleasure to watch.

DESPICABLE ME Review

There really is no one who can compare to the beauty and grace of a Pixar film, this is clear as I am still smiling about how good 'Toy Story 3' made me feel. This all may have a little bit to do with what a sluggish summer we have been having, but with Dreamworks offering up the wonderful 'How to Train Your Dragon' earlier this year and the new Illumination studios putting in their bid with 'Despicable Me' it is good to see others attempting for what Pixar has perfected. 'Despicable Me' is an interesting little film that offers a little bit of everything. It has its twist in that our main character, in an animated film none the less, is an evil supervillian. Gru is voiced by a wonderfully in character Steve Carell-doing some kind of off European accent that not only increases the hilarity of some of his lines but allows the more juvenile jokes to become funny. What is truly interesting about 'Despicable Me' is the inside look at the day to day of a bad guy. We are alwayd hearing about the heroes issues and problems, who knows what the bad guy is going through...the film brings depth to the phrase "its tough being bad". Gru has a lot on his plate, and is determined to regain his worlds number one supervillian statyus back from the new wonderboy baddie Vector. Vector is an odd little fella, fairly creepy, but easy to laugh at and an almost unnoticeable voice provided by Jason Segel makes him all that more funny. In fact, I would have loved to see this as a live-action film. I simply love all the voice actors we have here-Russell Brand is grand as Dr. Nefario, Kristin Wiig is great, as always, as Ms. Hattie and others such as Will Arnett, Danny McBride and even Julie Andrews all seem to be having a blast creating these characters. We get our dose of cuteness from the three little girls whom Gru adopts and ultimately teach Gru a lesson about love and what is really important in life, but the real heart and comedic soul of the film are the little yellow minions you've been seeing everywhere lately (there's already talk of them getting their own film). You will laugh at them for days after just thinking about some of their scenes. 'Despicable Me' is a fun time for both children, adults and even me, a 23 year-old who enjoys the work of the voice cast. I was not able to see this in 3-D although I have heard it uses the technique to its advantage and plays with the technology more than most have lately. I was certainly watching for the opportunities in 2D and wish I would have shelled out a few extra bucks, but 3D or no, 'Despicable Me' is a pleasure to watch.

PREDATORS Review

There hasn't been a decent 'Predator' movie since the original. Danny Glover's sequel was pretty awful and to be honest I didn't even bother with either 'AVP' or 'Requiem'. So to finally see some promise in a 'Predator' related film is a breath of fresh air. From what sounded like a dream script written by Rodriguez in 1995 comes this sequel that is actually worthy of being talked about in direct relation with the original film. 'Predators' echoes the 1987 film quite heavily, from its jungle like atmosphere to the team of killers, even elements of the music are the same. This is an ensemble effort with a clear lead and it plays out much like what we expect but with a twist in the original concept of our human protagonists being in predator territory. This widens the scope of the film considerably and adds reason to introduce more alien characters as well as new kinds of predators. What lifts the film above being a kind of rip off from every other monster film is the caliber of acting Antal has assembled here. I am always weary of Brody, but here he does well and we can see he is completely committed to the role. Its also nice to see Alice Braga getting some serious screen time and Topher Grace turns in one of the best performances in the film. It is not only the banter between these players that keeps the film moving forward at a perfect pace, but it is the way in which most of them have been carves out as individuals in their own right. We aren't necessarily always getting the stock characters here and that is what I found most refreshing about this. Do we need the story to be fleshed out a little more? Yes. Why were these specific people chosen? It gives an explanation, yet it doesn't make much sense. It is made to sound more random when it is obvious from the get-go each has been chosen for a specific reason. What is going on within the predator community? All of this is vaguely explained through Laurence Fishburne's brilliant yet comic turn as the player who has been and seen more than anyone else. It is an interesting piece and easily the most intriguing piece of the film, but the rest is full of gory, bloody deaths and fast-paced action sequences. Not to mention the film is gorgeous to look at. The colors and tone are pitch-perfect. No, the new 'Predators' might not always give us the answers to some of its loose ends, but it is good fun and what more could you ask for? Its the best 'Predator' film in 20 years.

PREDATORS Review

There hasn't been a decent 'Predator' movie since the original. Danny Glover's sequel was pretty awful and to be honest I didn't even bother with either 'AVP' or 'Requiem'. So to finally see some promise in a 'Predator' related film is a breath of fresh air. From what sounded like a dream script written by Rodriguez in 1995 comes this sequel that is actually worthy of being talked about in direct relation with the original film. 'Predators' echoes the 1987 film quite heavily, from its jungle like atmosphere to the team of killers, even elements of the music are the same. This is an ensemble effort with a clear lead and it plays out much like what we expect but with a twist in the original concept of our human protagonists being in predator territory. This widens the scope of the film considerably and adds reason to introduce more alien characters as well as new kinds of predators. What lifts the film above being a kind of rip off from every other monster film is the caliber of acting Antal has assembled here. I am always weary of Brody, but here he does well and we can see he is completely committed to the role. Its also nice to see Alice Braga getting some serious screen time and Topher Grace turns in one of the best performances in the film. It is not only the banter between these players that keeps the film moving forward at a perfect pace, but it is the way in which most of them have been carves out as individuals in their own right. We aren't necessarily always getting the stock characters here and that is what I found most refreshing about this. Do we need the story to be fleshed out a little more? Yes. Why were these specific people chosen? It gives an explanation, yet it doesn't make much sense. It is made to sound more random when it is obvious from the get-go each has been chosen for a specific reason. What is going on within the predator community? All of this is vaguely explained through Laurence Fishburne's brilliant yet comic turn as the player who has been and seen more than anyone else. It is an interesting piece and easily the most intriguing piece of the film, but the rest is full of gory, bloody deaths and fast-paced action sequences. Not to mention the film is gorgeous to look at. The colors and tone are pitch-perfect. No, the new 'Predators' might not always give us the answers to some of its loose ends, but it is good fun and what more could you ask for? Its the best 'Predator' film in 20 years.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Review


I haven't read Stieg Larsson's novel from which this is based or any of the Millennium Trilogy, but I have heard quite a bit about them and this film lately so my venture into renting this was one of pure curiosity. To put what I thought of this film simply would be to inform you that I will be purchasing this very soon. Going in I had no idea what to expect story or character wise. In only seeing the cover art I assumed (wrongly) this was some teen indie about outcasts and how they were picked on and dealt with issues. The last thing I would have expected was a grand murder mystery tale that hearkens back to novels of old. 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is a great mystery both in the case its two main protagonists are trying to solve and in the characters themselves. Having no knowledge of these actors past roles I thought Noomi Rapace was terrific in the part of Lisbeth Salander who has been made out to be one of the greater female characters conceived in a long time. I truly wish I could see how well Rapace filled out this character from page to screen-simply from watching an interview with her I could see the transformation she went through and can imagine she inherited every quirk and trait from the character Larsson created in his novels. It is unclear as to how Salander will really be incorporated into the more intriguing aspect of the story (the Vanger family mystery) for the first hour or so of the film, but we always have a sense that careful attention need be paid as there is certainly reason for things that happen that we don't necessarily see the purpose of. These effects are aided by the tension filled pace of the movie, at two and half hours this isn't a short film, but never did I feel like the film drug or did I catch myself looking at my watch. What really makes this stand out is the odd pairing of Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who is played with a certain amount of rugged yet stand-up guy qualities by Michael Nyqvist. It is easy to see why Viggo Mortensen would be good choice for the role in the Hollywood versions of these films. The partnership and possibly romantic involvement of these two is not only odd to us but to them as well it seems, but they work well together, so well in fact it is that bond of intelligence and determination that creates the believability of them getting along and becoming more than just co-workers. There is some pretty brutal violence and rape scenes in the film and without giving much away it can be said that the theme of the film focuses around people affected by such violence. These elements set 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' apart as not only a murder mystery but as a film in general. We can only hope that Hollywood keeps these themes and scenes in tact, for they not only set it apart but create the heart and emotional impact of the story.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Review


I haven't read Stieg Larsson's novel from which this is based or any of the Millennium Trilogy, but I have heard quite a bit about them and this film lately so my venture into renting this was one of pure curiosity. To put what I thought of this film simply would be to inform you that I will be purchasing this very soon. Going in I had no idea what to expect story or character wise. In only seeing the cover art I assumed (wrongly) this was some teen indie about outcasts and how they were picked on and dealt with issues. The last thing I would have expected was a grand murder mystery tale that hearkens back to novels of old. 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is a great mystery both in the case its two main protagonists are trying to solve and in the characters themselves. Having no knowledge of these actors past roles I thought Noomi Rapace was terrific in the part of Lisbeth Salander who has been made out to be one of the greater female characters conceived in a long time. I truly wish I could see how well Rapace filled out this character from page to screen-simply from watching an interview with her I could see the transformation she went through and can imagine she inherited every quirk and trait from the character Larsson created in his novels. It is unclear as to how Salander will really be incorporated into the more intriguing aspect of the story (the Vanger family mystery) for the first hour or so of the film, but we always have a sense that careful attention need be paid as there is certainly reason for things that happen that we don't necessarily see the purpose of. These effects are aided by the tension filled pace of the movie, at two and half hours this isn't a short film, but never did I feel like the film drug or did I catch myself looking at my watch. What really makes this stand out is the odd pairing of Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who is played with a certain amount of rugged yet stand-up guy qualities by Michael Nyqvist. It is easy to see why Viggo Mortensen would be good choice for the role in the Hollywood versions of these films. The partnership and possibly romantic involvement of these two is not only odd to us but to them as well it seems, but they work well together, so well in fact it is that bond of intelligence and determination that creates the believability of them getting along and becoming more than just co-workers. There is some pretty brutal violence and rape scenes in the film and without giving much away it can be said that the theme of the film focuses around people affected by such violence. These elements set 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' apart as not only a murder mystery but as a film in general. We can only hope that Hollywood keeps these themes and scenes in tact, for they not only set it apart but create the heart and emotional impact of the story.

THE LAST AIRBENDER Review

Without having much knowledge about the Nickelodeon series on which this is based, and when I say not much I mean I watched the pilot episode the day before going to see this so I would have some type of background info as to what exactly was going on. Watching the pilot though only made it clear that Shyamalan had crammed alot into this hour and forty minute movie. Coming into this unfamiliar with the world of airbenders, I wasn't put off as much with all the exposition that seemed to take place within almost every line of the film. Though I did see what was being done as the pilot I'd watched was crammed into the first five minutes of the film. Besides the fact that we are getting alot of information, so much that even by the end of the film Shyamalan is still trying to explain things about this world. The originality is there and I like the premise and atmosphere that this story has, but this is all due to the creators of the animated series. Where Shyamalan could have taken this world and created a sweeping epic he tries to over-do it and ends up instead having a film that feels less like an epic and more like a film that could have been made by amateurs with deep pockets. The effects look great and some of the set pieces are impressive, but then there are some of the shot choices as well as the acting. Several shots look elementary, and we know that Shyamalan is a gifted filmmaker we saw this with at least his first four films before they began to get completely ridiculous. I'm still not sure what was going on with 'The Happening' but the acting here is quite similar to the acting in that film. It is awkward, but again this is probably due to Shyamalans dialogue. Jackson Rathbone and Dev Patel get the worst of it, Patel playing like a kid impersonating every bad guy he's ever seen while young Noah Ringer is thankfully able to anchor the film with his sweet and subtle performance as the Avatar. There were specific sequences that made me hopeful for this film, when our gang of heroes fights off some fire soldiers in one of the earth regions it was a nice piece of film making that I wish could have carried through the rest of the film and while the final battle sequences have some epic shots and cool special effects (I've always thought water was a cool medium to manipulate) the film just never reaches the level you want or expect it to. This is a PG movie, but it seems it should be much bigger and slightly more serious than this final product. Shyamalan has exhausted his clout and the only way we will get a sequel is if this makes money, lets just hope if it does we get a better film and dare I say it...a better director.

THE LAST AIRBENDER Review

Without having much knowledge about the Nickelodeon series on which this is based, and when I say not much I mean I watched the pilot episode the day before going to see this so I would have some type of background info as to what exactly was going on. Watching the pilot though only made it clear that Shyamalan had crammed alot into this hour and forty minute movie. Coming into this unfamiliar with the world of airbenders, I wasn't put off as much with all the exposition that seemed to take place within almost every line of the film. Though I did see what was being done as the pilot I'd watched was crammed into the first five minutes of the film. Besides the fact that we are getting alot of information, so much that even by the end of the film Shyamalan is still trying to explain things about this world. The originality is there and I like the premise and atmosphere that this story has, but this is all due to the creators of the animated series. Where Shyamalan could have taken this world and created a sweeping epic he tries to over-do it and ends up instead having a film that feels less like an epic and more like a film that could have been made by amateurs with deep pockets. The effects look great and some of the set pieces are impressive, but then there are some of the shot choices as well as the acting. Several shots look elementary, and we know that Shyamalan is a gifted filmmaker we saw this with at least his first four films before they began to get completely ridiculous. I'm still not sure what was going on with 'The Happening' but the acting here is quite similar to the acting in that film. It is awkward, but again this is probably due to Shyamalans dialogue. Jackson Rathbone and Dev Patel get the worst of it, Patel playing like a kid impersonating every bad guy he's ever seen while young Noah Ringer is thankfully able to anchor the film with his sweet and subtle performance as the Avatar. There were specific sequences that made me hopeful for this film, when our gang of heroes fights off some fire soldiers in one of the earth regions it was a nice piece of film making that I wish could have carried through the rest of the film and while the final battle sequences have some epic shots and cool special effects (I've always thought water was a cool medium to manipulate) the film just never reaches the level you want or expect it to. This is a PG movie, but it seems it should be much bigger and slightly more serious than this final product. Shyamalan has exhausted his clout and the only way we will get a sequel is if this makes money, lets just hope if it does we get a better film and dare I say it...a better director.

KNIGHT AND DAY Review

I thought this looked good from the get-go. I was actually surprised to hear how many people thought this was going to be crap and were generally not interested in it.I feel like I saw the first trailer forever ago and even then thought Tom Cruise's performance looked interesting and really fun. It turns out the whole movie is pretty interesting if not a little predictable, but all the way, its a fun ride. It is easiest to sum 'Knight and Day' up as a great summer date movie. It has some serious action sequences and tons of exotic locations as well as having a "romantic story" at its center. The "love" aspect of the film doesn't really seem to come into play as often as it should, being sporadically hinted at in looks throughout the film until the moment Ms. Diaz realizes what all has been goin down. I have yet to see 'The Killers' and hate to think that this is a more expensive version of that film. I feel as if this was in production long before the Kutcher/Heigl vehicle and although I don't have a problem with either of those actors, I simply find Cruise and Diaz more fun to watch and in the end to be better at their skill than the other two. 'Knight and Day', for me, simply has more credibility as a film. It was directed by James Mangold who also directed 'Walk the Line' (one of my favorite movies ever) and the remake of '3:10 to Yuma'-and he is able to create this kind of throwback to action/romance pictures of the past with a flair for all that is new and current. It has a classic undercurrent to it, especially in one of the final scenes where Cruise walks up to Diaz, bullets blazing in the background, and simply lays one on her without regard to the war going on behind him. It is a tad cheesy, yes, but it sums up the balance of ridiculous action and romance Mangold was going for and almost accomplishes. The story is one you could have guessed the conclusion of after Cruise briefs Diaz of the situation about a half hour into the film. Before that we are as in the dark about whats going on as Diaz is and to be honest that was the most enjoyable part of the film. Mangold and the screenwriter should have held out on us longer, allowed us to try and figure out what was going on for once we found out the situation it was still fun to watch these two go through the actions, but the suspense simply wasn't as...suspenseful. Go and see 'Knight and Day' it probably isn't as bad as you've heard, who knows, it may even surprise you.

KNIGHT AND DAY Review

I thought this looked good from the get-go. I was actually surprised to hear how many people thought this was going to be crap and were generally not interested in it.I feel like I saw the first trailer forever ago and even then thought Tom Cruise's performance looked interesting and really fun. It turns out the whole movie is pretty interesting if not a little predictable, but all the way, its a fun ride. It is easiest to sum 'Knight and Day' up as a great summer date movie. It has some serious action sequences and tons of exotic locations as well as having a "romantic story" at its center. The "love" aspect of the film doesn't really seem to come into play as often as it should, being sporadically hinted at in looks throughout the film until the moment Ms. Diaz realizes what all has been goin down. I have yet to see 'The Killers' and hate to think that this is a more expensive version of that film. I feel as if this was in production long before the Kutcher/Heigl vehicle and although I don't have a problem with either of those actors, I simply find Cruise and Diaz more fun to watch and in the end to be better at their skill than the other two. 'Knight and Day', for me, simply has more credibility as a film. It was directed by James Mangold who also directed 'Walk the Line' (one of my favorite movies ever) and the remake of '3:10 to Yuma'-and he is able to create this kind of throwback to action/romance pictures of the past with a flair for all that is new and current. It has a classic undercurrent to it, especially in one of the final scenes where Cruise walks up to Diaz, bullets blazing in the background, and simply lays one on her without regard to the war going on behind him. It is a tad cheesy, yes, but it sums up the balance of ridiculous action and romance Mangold was going for and almost accomplishes. The story is one you could have guessed the conclusion of after Cruise briefs Diaz of the situation about a half hour into the film. Before that we are as in the dark about whats going on as Diaz is and to be honest that was the most enjoyable part of the film. Mangold and the screenwriter should have held out on us longer, allowed us to try and figure out what was going on for once we found out the situation it was still fun to watch these two go through the actions, but the suspense simply wasn't as...suspenseful. Go and see 'Knight and Day' it probably isn't as bad as you've heard, who knows, it may even surprise you.