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.

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS Review

As someone who knows little to nothing about the stock market and all that jazz that goes along with it my biggest concern when seeing a film like 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' is simply not being able to follow what the hell all this money mumbo jumbo is the characters are talking about. I handled things pretty well the first go around and the same is true for this rather prestigious sequel. Though Gekko seems to be an afterthought in the second film, Douglas is still the most intriguing thing about the film. Having seen him recently in the direct-to-dvd film 'Solitary Man' and now this, it is apparent how good he is at playing this slimy unforgiving man that takes nothing as his own fault and will or maybe cannot stop what he truly knows destroys him. Or so we think. The interesting thing about this sequel is the perspective it puts on things. Within viewing the first movie as a stand alone film it is an intriguing story in a specific time, when the credits roll we may speculate but we don't really care what may happen to these characters as they age and what their life might bring about once they are too old to acknowledge the benefit of money without everything else in one's life. Within the second film, Stone is able to deliver a message that isn't simply told straightforward, like many of its characters-it is crooked. We are being given a lesson in doing what is important in life, something we have all heard time and time again, but framing it within the constructs of wall street and this legacy we all know as well as family dynamics and all kinds of things is certainly a grand way of delivering it. And to his credit, Stone delivers it well. This is a sequel that takes few of its cues from its predecessor. The pacing, the point, the entire plot differs from the first. And the plot is air tight-Shia LaBeouf (who must have a goal of getting into sequels of movies that were made when he was a baby) is getting married to Gekko's daughter. He is also working for a bank run by Frank Langella who is wonderful in his short time here. Things happen causing the bank to fold and Shia to lose his job. Things get sticky, Gekko's out of jail, Shia wants revenge, Gekko can help...but of course he wants leverage and so Shia must lie to his fiance so she will talk to her father who she now hates and blames for numerous things. All this is well executed and Josh Brolin is especially nasty as the man who ruined the bank and the man who ran it for which Shia's character worked. Not to give away the whole plot, the remainder is surely satisfying though near the end the film drags a bit and the conclusion is much to nicely cleaned up for it to be any kind of believable. Shia does his thing, surviving on his little quirks that always bring his performance above whatever type he is playing for. Here he never tries to hard to be the slick wall street broker the previews make him out to be and his love interest here and in real life is the lovely Carey Mulligan who frankly anchors the film emotionally and if it were not for her the movie would simply have no heart. Susan Sarandon shows up for a few scenes but her role should have easily been cut in the editing room. The tone gets it right and the camera work is quite impressive, while the soundtrack is just odd at points. Overall though, I found the film to be impressive, leaving a mark where follow-ups usually don't. It is certainly worth seeing, if not for the accomplishment in Stone's career that it is at least for the Charlie Sheen cameo. It doesn't get much better than that.

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS Review

As someone who knows little to nothing about the stock market and all that jazz that goes along with it my biggest concern when seeing a film like 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' is simply not being able to follow what the hell all this money mumbo jumbo is the characters are talking about. I handled things pretty well the first go around and the same is true for this rather prestigious sequel. Though Gekko seems to be an afterthought in the second film, Douglas is still the most intriguing thing about the film. Having seen him recently in the direct-to-dvd film 'Solitary Man' and now this, it is apparent how good he is at playing this slimy unforgiving man that takes nothing as his own fault and will or maybe cannot stop what he truly knows destroys him. Or so we think. The interesting thing about this sequel is the perspective it puts on things. Within viewing the first movie as a stand alone film it is an intriguing story in a specific time, when the credits roll we may speculate but we don't really care what may happen to these characters as they age and what their life might bring about once they are too old to acknowledge the benefit of money without everything else in one's life. Within the second film, Stone is able to deliver a message that isn't simply told straightforward, like many of its characters-it is crooked. We are being given a lesson in doing what is important in life, something we have all heard time and time again, but framing it within the constructs of wall street and this legacy we all know as well as family dynamics and all kinds of things is certainly a grand way of delivering it. And to his credit, Stone delivers it well. This is a sequel that takes few of its cues from its predecessor. The pacing, the point, the entire plot differs from the first. And the plot is air tight-Shia LaBeouf (who must have a goal of getting into sequels of movies that were made when he was a baby) is getting married to Gekko's daughter. He is also working for a bank run by Frank Langella who is wonderful in his short time here. Things happen causing the bank to fold and Shia to lose his job. Things get sticky, Gekko's out of jail, Shia wants revenge, Gekko can help...but of course he wants leverage and so Shia must lie to his fiance so she will talk to her father who she now hates and blames for numerous things. All this is well executed and Josh Brolin is especially nasty as the man who ruined the bank and the man who ran it for which Shia's character worked. Not to give away the whole plot, the remainder is surely satisfying though near the end the film drags a bit and the conclusion is much to nicely cleaned up for it to be any kind of believable. Shia does his thing, surviving on his little quirks that always bring his performance above whatever type he is playing for. Here he never tries to hard to be the slick wall street broker the previews make him out to be and his love interest here and in real life is the lovely Carey Mulligan who frankly anchors the film emotionally and if it were not for her the movie would simply have no heart. Susan Sarandon shows up for a few scenes but her role should have easily been cut in the editing room. The tone gets it right and the camera work is quite impressive, while the soundtrack is just odd at points. Overall though, I found the film to be impressive, leaving a mark where follow-ups usually don't. It is certainly worth seeing, if not for the accomplishment in Stone's career that it is at least for the Charlie Sheen cameo. It doesn't get much better than that.

LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE Review

So the guy who made '300' and 'Watchmen' decided to do an animated film about fighting owls? Is that right? Well, yes it is. As hard as that may be to believe Mr. Snyder has crafted a beautiful film about mythic owl warriors. And as weird as that last sentence may sound, its not as bad as I expected it to be. Let's be honest, taking a familiar tale of two brothers, one of which is very naturally skilled and kind hearted and the other who is bitter and jealous and needy of attention get kidnapped from their home tree and are taken to a dark place where some mean mean owls nest. Here they are broken up, one defying these evil creatures and the other feeling as if he fits in for the first time. How is this all going to end. Be for real, you know the answer. There are some fun characters along the way though, one of the only uplifting things about the film besides the shots of the owls soaring through all kinds of weather. First, our protagonist Soren is a brave and pure owl who dreams about being a part of the stories he has grown up hearing his father tell him and his siblings. After escaping the clutches of "The Pure Ones" Soren and his buddies have to find the guardians and inform them of the evil that is being done to other owls. It never really explains why these bad birds are called "The Pure Ones" or why they are so angry or what exactly this weapon they are building is supposed to conquer for them. Sure, they are hoping to destroy the legendary guardian owls, but what started all this in the first place? Its quite difficult to see what was attractive about these stories because this is where the movie suffers the most for me. We have seen all this before in some shape or form, just not with owls and I don't know that that qualifies as an original enough factor so as to create one of the most visually beautiful animated films ever. As for other characters that make this memorable is the great little Digger who stands in as comic relief and joins Soren on his quest. Sorens younger sister, Eglantine, who doesn't play as crucial a role as I imagined is the cutest thing I've ever seen and it is quite shocking what she is made to do, especially for a children's movie. As for Kludd, the evil brother he is just menacing enough to make us believe he would betray his entire family for his own selfish reasons and will no doubt be back in the sequel if this makes enough money. I have not read the books on which these stories are based and although the story was the weakest spot in the film for me, I can understand how children could be taken in by this world of wonderment and not want to put it down. It is a gorgeous world and Mr. Snyder has done an amazing job of treating us visually. I hope there is a second film and I hope the story doesn't follow such a strict set of conventions as this first one has.

LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE Review

So the guy who made '300' and 'Watchmen' decided to do an animated film about fighting owls? Is that right? Well, yes it is. As hard as that may be to believe Mr. Snyder has crafted a beautiful film about mythic owl warriors. And as weird as that last sentence may sound, its not as bad as I expected it to be. Let's be honest, taking a familiar tale of two brothers, one of which is very naturally skilled and kind hearted and the other who is bitter and jealous and needy of attention get kidnapped from their home tree and are taken to a dark place where some mean mean owls nest. Here they are broken up, one defying these evil creatures and the other feeling as if he fits in for the first time. How is this all going to end. Be for real, you know the answer. There are some fun characters along the way though, one of the only uplifting things about the film besides the shots of the owls soaring through all kinds of weather. First, our protagonist Soren is a brave and pure owl who dreams about being a part of the stories he has grown up hearing his father tell him and his siblings. After escaping the clutches of "The Pure Ones" Soren and his buddies have to find the guardians and inform them of the evil that is being done to other owls. It never really explains why these bad birds are called "The Pure Ones" or why they are so angry or what exactly this weapon they are building is supposed to conquer for them. Sure, they are hoping to destroy the legendary guardian owls, but what started all this in the first place? Its quite difficult to see what was attractive about these stories because this is where the movie suffers the most for me. We have seen all this before in some shape or form, just not with owls and I don't know that that qualifies as an original enough factor so as to create one of the most visually beautiful animated films ever. As for other characters that make this memorable is the great little Digger who stands in as comic relief and joins Soren on his quest. Sorens younger sister, Eglantine, who doesn't play as crucial a role as I imagined is the cutest thing I've ever seen and it is quite shocking what she is made to do, especially for a children's movie. As for Kludd, the evil brother he is just menacing enough to make us believe he would betray his entire family for his own selfish reasons and will no doubt be back in the sequel if this makes enough money. I have not read the books on which these stories are based and although the story was the weakest spot in the film for me, I can understand how children could be taken in by this world of wonderment and not want to put it down. It is a gorgeous world and Mr. Snyder has done an amazing job of treating us visually. I hope there is a second film and I hope the story doesn't follow such a strict set of conventions as this first one has.

EASY A Review

Every once in a while a teen comedy comes along that is simply better than any of the others that seem to not try at all to genuinely capture the experience of tortured youth. That may sound a tad over dramatic when talking about a high school comedy such as 'Easy A' but its just so darn hard to find a good one these days. I don't know that I've seen a decent one since 'Mean Girls' although I count 'Accepted' as a fun little film its not about the experience of high school as much as the Tina Fey penned comedy and the topic of discussion right now. To start things off, lets thank God for Emma Stone. That her career didn't end as soon as it began with 'Superbad' and that she was given a fuller role in a runaway hit called 'Zombieland' last year. She is a genuinely funny female and as sexist as it may sound it is always tougher for me to find women consistently funny. Anyone can build off typical jokes and cliched one-lines but here, Stone is able to pull off someone wanting to be noticed so bad she is willing to reduce herself to being called a slut and STILL not come off as dumb. Instead, we think of her a smart, witty, clever and nothing close to that dirty word she aspires to be. If you've seen the preview you know where the film might be heading, but what you may not realize is how clever the script uses these ideas. The tool of Olive (Stone) using web chat as a narration tool as well as serving as the resolution was extremely effective and useful. The way the film pokes fun at the Jesus freak crowd without talking down about Christianity was refreshing as was the straightforwardness of the dialogue. It simply tells it as it is, not holds barred. If you don't agree with Olive, too bad, chances are though she is saying just what we are all thinking. 'Easy A' is not just smart and funny though it is rather touching at moments and reveals some serious issues (no matter how light the tone) that teenagers deal with. This is brought to the attention because of the great acting by a super talented ensemble cast. Even in the smallest parts such as teachers and guidance counselors, both Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow deliver every line with zing and get wrapped up in a story that exposes layers you may not see coming. We also have Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci serving as Olive's parents who may be the coolest, quirkiest couple on the planet. The two play off each other so well and it is nice to see parents that are equally as funny and witty as their children rather than being clueless and dated. Olive's parents trust her without question, they know who their daughter is and she has proven she deserves no judgement. The entire film is just refreshing, that would be the main word to sum it all up. This isn't your gross out high school movie that is based in some uppity school no one but rich kids could relate to-it isn't so far removed that every student looks like a super model it is simply real, but more importantly it is sincere. Just watch the opening sequence that will get a certain Natasha Bedingfield song stuck in your head and you will see what I mean. You don't even have to buy a drink at the concession stand this movie is so refreshing. I loved it, and I think you will to.

EASY A Review

Every once in a while a teen comedy comes along that is simply better than any of the others that seem to not try at all to genuinely capture the experience of tortured youth. That may sound a tad over dramatic when talking about a high school comedy such as 'Easy A' but its just so darn hard to find a good one these days. I don't know that I've seen a decent one since 'Mean Girls' although I count 'Accepted' as a fun little film its not about the experience of high school as much as the Tina Fey penned comedy and the topic of discussion right now. To start things off, lets thank God for Emma Stone. That her career didn't end as soon as it began with 'Superbad' and that she was given a fuller role in a runaway hit called 'Zombieland' last year. She is a genuinely funny female and as sexist as it may sound it is always tougher for me to find women consistently funny. Anyone can build off typical jokes and cliched one-lines but here, Stone is able to pull off someone wanting to be noticed so bad she is willing to reduce herself to being called a slut and STILL not come off as dumb. Instead, we think of her a smart, witty, clever and nothing close to that dirty word she aspires to be. If you've seen the preview you know where the film might be heading, but what you may not realize is how clever the script uses these ideas. The tool of Olive (Stone) using web chat as a narration tool as well as serving as the resolution was extremely effective and useful. The way the film pokes fun at the Jesus freak crowd without talking down about Christianity was refreshing as was the straightforwardness of the dialogue. It simply tells it as it is, not holds barred. If you don't agree with Olive, too bad, chances are though she is saying just what we are all thinking. 'Easy A' is not just smart and funny though it is rather touching at moments and reveals some serious issues (no matter how light the tone) that teenagers deal with. This is brought to the attention because of the great acting by a super talented ensemble cast. Even in the smallest parts such as teachers and guidance counselors, both Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow deliver every line with zing and get wrapped up in a story that exposes layers you may not see coming. We also have Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci serving as Olive's parents who may be the coolest, quirkiest couple on the planet. The two play off each other so well and it is nice to see parents that are equally as funny and witty as their children rather than being clueless and dated. Olive's parents trust her without question, they know who their daughter is and she has proven she deserves no judgement. The entire film is just refreshing, that would be the main word to sum it all up. This isn't your gross out high school movie that is based in some uppity school no one but rich kids could relate to-it isn't so far removed that every student looks like a super model it is simply real, but more importantly it is sincere. Just watch the opening sequence that will get a certain Natasha Bedingfield song stuck in your head and you will see what I mean. You don't even have to buy a drink at the concession stand this movie is so refreshing. I loved it, and I think you will to.

THE VIRGINITY HIT Review

Lets be honest, it is kind of an awkward subject when discussing losing one's virginity. So to have that entire experience made public via your step brothers camera takes some balls. I don't care what anyone else says about this kid. This "mocu-mentary" is centered around a group of four friends who decide to take a hit of a special bong every time one of them loses their virginity. Yes, this is the basis for which the film is set. The final friend that has to lose the big V is Matt, a nerdy guy who has a steady girlfriend and plans on getting it on with her on their anniversary. Okay, so far its whatever-the four friends are nothing you couldn't find in any high school in America. I couldn't even tell you all of their names, but the fat red-haired kid (whose name is Zack) is pretty funny as well as serving as the ring leader. The other two, the coolest of the group and the one who dresses weirdly are simply along for the ride. Rumors get out that Matt's girlfriend Nicole cheated on him and so he is going to get back at her by allowing Zack to film it all and have a get together in the next room so they can listen to it. A little odd, but this sequence offers the funniest bit of the film by far. Just keep a lookout for the guy who works at the hotel, so classic it could not have been scripted. In fact, that's the best thing the movie has going for it. You genuinely feel like you are watching just a couple of kids taping their escapades and no doubt that much of this is improvised, but it isn't a true story, it is a movie and they create a dang good atmosphere of naturalness and teenage humor throughout. Matt can't go through with the prank on his cheating girlfriend though and so opens up room for the 90-minute running time to spread its wings. There are the expected attempts at helping Matt try to finally lose his virginity including porn stars, his step sister and a college student conducting a thesis, but it also has a few rather touching moments that are unexpected from such a low-brow comedy. Matt lives with Zack due to his father being a drug addict and his mother passing when he was only 9. It is truly sad to see his sick mother wish him a happy life in her final days and we feel awful for Matt when he learns his father has stripped his bank accounts of all the money his mother left him for college. The movie gets a few things across, mostly without meaning to though. In watching this we realize just how short a period of time we really have on earth to be stupid and take advantage of that ignorance of youth. That may be a little too deep of a message from a movie entitled 'The Virginity Hit' but its true. And just like other gross and crude films about teenage boys trying to lose their virginity it is taken with a tad bit of humility. We understand where they are coming from even if we would never do any of the things they tried. The movie was made by people of a certain age for people of a certain age, God only knows what these kids will think of their little movie that could when they look back on it in their fifties. Good times.

THE VIRGINITY HIT Review

Lets be honest, it is kind of an awkward subject when discussing losing one's virginity. So to have that entire experience made public via your step brothers camera takes some balls. I don't care what anyone else says about this kid. This "mocu-mentary" is centered around a group of four friends who decide to take a hit of a special bong every time one of them loses their virginity. Yes, this is the basis for which the film is set. The final friend that has to lose the big V is Matt, a nerdy guy who has a steady girlfriend and plans on getting it on with her on their anniversary. Okay, so far its whatever-the four friends are nothing you couldn't find in any high school in America. I couldn't even tell you all of their names, but the fat red-haired kid (whose name is Zack) is pretty funny as well as serving as the ring leader. The other two, the coolest of the group and the one who dresses weirdly are simply along for the ride. Rumors get out that Matt's girlfriend Nicole cheated on him and so he is going to get back at her by allowing Zack to film it all and have a get together in the next room so they can listen to it. A little odd, but this sequence offers the funniest bit of the film by far. Just keep a lookout for the guy who works at the hotel, so classic it could not have been scripted. In fact, that's the best thing the movie has going for it. You genuinely feel like you are watching just a couple of kids taping their escapades and no doubt that much of this is improvised, but it isn't a true story, it is a movie and they create a dang good atmosphere of naturalness and teenage humor throughout. Matt can't go through with the prank on his cheating girlfriend though and so opens up room for the 90-minute running time to spread its wings. There are the expected attempts at helping Matt try to finally lose his virginity including porn stars, his step sister and a college student conducting a thesis, but it also has a few rather touching moments that are unexpected from such a low-brow comedy. Matt lives with Zack due to his father being a drug addict and his mother passing when he was only 9. It is truly sad to see his sick mother wish him a happy life in her final days and we feel awful for Matt when he learns his father has stripped his bank accounts of all the money his mother left him for college. The movie gets a few things across, mostly without meaning to though. In watching this we realize just how short a period of time we really have on earth to be stupid and take advantage of that ignorance of youth. That may be a little too deep of a message from a movie entitled 'The Virginity Hit' but its true. And just like other gross and crude films about teenage boys trying to lose their virginity it is taken with a tad bit of humility. We understand where they are coming from even if we would never do any of the things they tried. The movie was made by people of a certain age for people of a certain age, God only knows what these kids will think of their little movie that could when they look back on it in their fifties. Good times.

ONDINE Review

Knowing very little about this film going in, I was purely intrigued by the idea of it. The legitimacy with which it placed finding a mermaid was no doubt intriguing and the recent films with which Colin Farrell has chosen seem to venture into different territory for him. In 'Ondine' he plays an Irish fisherman who in the opening scene of the film discovers a woman in his fishing net. This is obviously bizarre and as a viewer we are befuddled as to how this fairy tale-esque element will balance with the gritty realness of a fishing boat captains life. Throw into the mix an ill child and an alcoholic ex-wife we are in for some rather interesting consequences. Not to mention the slow unveiling of Ondine's true story. The entire time we want to believe she is a Silkie (basically a mermaid without the fin). Syracuse (Farrell) stumbles upon good luck when Ondine sings to the ocean and so they form a bond that will of course escalate and his daughter Annie, played by the wonderful Alison Barry does her fair share of research and develops a crucial relationship with the mysterious water lady that has been missing from her life. And while the film gets points for an original idea and a darn good attempt at putting it on film we never get the sense of what is really going on here. Yes, we understand the basic plot and the idea that a child imagination is sometimes a much better world than the ugly truth we would like to ignore. That it would be truly splendid if what Annie believed the reality to be was actually reality. It is not and in the end we are a little let down by this. The film is beautiful to look at and the two leads make a beautiful couple, but overall the film is rather slow and only intriguing up to a point. Neil Jordan, director of such films as 'Interview With The Vampire' and 'Michale Collins' serves as both writer and director here, so we feel the closeness of the images and the story. We see the instinct of what this movie is trying to say and it has its moments, but they are a little to sparse for the two hour running time. 'Ondine' should have made us step out of our own reality for a bit, but instead it tricks us in the beginning into believing we are going to experience a fantastical world, but instead drops us off at the end-right where we didn't want to be. Right where we expected.

ONDINE Review

Knowing very little about this film going in, I was purely intrigued by the idea of it. The legitimacy with which it placed finding a mermaid was no doubt intriguing and the recent films with which Colin Farrell has chosen seem to venture into different territory for him. In 'Ondine' he plays an Irish fisherman who in the opening scene of the film discovers a woman in his fishing net. This is obviously bizarre and as a viewer we are befuddled as to how this fairy tale-esque element will balance with the gritty realness of a fishing boat captains life. Throw into the mix an ill child and an alcoholic ex-wife we are in for some rather interesting consequences. Not to mention the slow unveiling of Ondine's true story. The entire time we want to believe she is a Silkie (basically a mermaid without the fin). Syracuse (Farrell) stumbles upon good luck when Ondine sings to the ocean and so they form a bond that will of course escalate and his daughter Annie, played by the wonderful Alison Barry does her fair share of research and develops a crucial relationship with the mysterious water lady that has been missing from her life. And while the film gets points for an original idea and a darn good attempt at putting it on film we never get the sense of what is really going on here. Yes, we understand the basic plot and the idea that a child imagination is sometimes a much better world than the ugly truth we would like to ignore. That it would be truly splendid if what Annie believed the reality to be was actually reality. It is not and in the end we are a little let down by this. The film is beautiful to look at and the two leads make a beautiful couple, but overall the film is rather slow and only intriguing up to a point. Neil Jordan, director of such films as 'Interview With The Vampire' and 'Michale Collins' serves as both writer and director here, so we feel the closeness of the images and the story. We see the instinct of what this movie is trying to say and it has its moments, but they are a little to sparse for the two hour running time. 'Ondine' should have made us step out of our own reality for a bit, but instead it tricks us in the beginning into believing we are going to experience a fantastical world, but instead drops us off at the end-right where we didn't want to be. Right where we expected.

THE TOWN Review

Though this may only be the beginning of the Oscar movie season, it arrives in great form and with one of the best films I've seen this year. You can take that one of two ways. True, it hasn't been a stellar year so far with only three films or so coming to mind as good enough to make a top 10 list or you can take it as it is and trust that 'The Town' is a superb piece of filmmaking. When Affleck's directorial debut garnered such positive praise I, like many others, was rather surprised. With his second though, Mr. Affleck proves he was not just a one hit wonder but a true artist and one who is very good at his craft. From the opening sequence the tone is set, the neutral color palette and the performance driven drama is all exemplified greatly within the first few minutes. At the head of these strong performances is Affleck himself. Managing several different duties can sometimes be evident in one's work, but here the director/writer/actor is as flawless as can be. As a kid who grew up in Charlestown and was given no choice but to eventually turn to a life of robbery fuels Affleck's Doug with the need to see what it's like outside of this hell on earth he feels hes been surrounded by. As his complete opposite is Jeremy Renner's Jim. Renner, hot off the tails of last years Oscar darling 'The Hurt Locker' plays Doug's best friend as a loose canon willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. He will gladly kill anyone who gets in his way, he hopes someone will make that mistake. These two create a theory of acceptance, as if this is what they are supposed to be doing and there is no other way to live their lives. That is, until Doug begins to court a hostage that was taken in a previous bank robbery. This creates much of the tension that ensues between bank heists but Affleck never lets it overpower the main story that is being told. The one about the city and its people and their way of life. As beautiful and charming as Rebecca Hall is here and as convincingly intimidating as John Hamm is able to come across, it is all just icing on the cake. The film never drags, its pace is a constant lead in to the next scene that only builds upon the previous one and amps up the stakes a little higher. Even when the camera lingers for a while on characters in lengthy conversations they are full of tense moments and include more meaning than what is being said on the surface. There set-ups for each robbery are quick but well planned, yet they are only doing what they know to do, what they have seen their fathers do before them. The movie is an interesting character and social study at its core. This mixed with genuine drama and fist-clenching tension makes for one of the better heist films in years past and as I mentioned, one of the better films all-around of this year. Good job Ben, can't wait to see what you have next up your sleeve.

THE TOWN Review

Though this may only be the beginning of the Oscar movie season, it arrives in great form and with one of the best films I've seen this year. You can take that one of two ways. True, it hasn't been a stellar year so far with only three films or so coming to mind as good enough to make a top 10 list or you can take it as it is and trust that 'The Town' is a superb piece of filmmaking. When Affleck's directorial debut garnered such positive praise I, like many others, was rather surprised. With his second though, Mr. Affleck proves he was not just a one hit wonder but a true artist and one who is very good at his craft. From the opening sequence the tone is set, the neutral color palette and the performance driven drama is all exemplified greatly within the first few minutes. At the head of these strong performances is Affleck himself. Managing several different duties can sometimes be evident in one's work, but here the director/writer/actor is as flawless as can be. As a kid who grew up in Charlestown and was given no choice but to eventually turn to a life of robbery fuels Affleck's Doug with the need to see what it's like outside of this hell on earth he feels hes been surrounded by. As his complete opposite is Jeremy Renner's Jim. Renner, hot off the tails of last years Oscar darling 'The Hurt Locker' plays Doug's best friend as a loose canon willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. He will gladly kill anyone who gets in his way, he hopes someone will make that mistake. These two create a theory of acceptance, as if this is what they are supposed to be doing and there is no other way to live their lives. That is, until Doug begins to court a hostage that was taken in a previous bank robbery. This creates much of the tension that ensues between bank heists but Affleck never lets it overpower the main story that is being told. The one about the city and its people and their way of life. As beautiful and charming as Rebecca Hall is here and as convincingly intimidating as John Hamm is able to come across, it is all just icing on the cake. The film never drags, its pace is a constant lead in to the next scene that only builds upon the previous one and amps up the stakes a little higher. Even when the camera lingers for a while on characters in lengthy conversations they are full of tense moments and include more meaning than what is being said on the surface. There set-ups for each robbery are quick but well planned, yet they are only doing what they know to do, what they have seen their fathers do before them. The movie is an interesting character and social study at its core. This mixed with genuine drama and fist-clenching tension makes for one of the better heist films in years past and as I mentioned, one of the better films all-around of this year. Good job Ben, can't wait to see what you have next up your sleeve.

DEVIL Review

This may be the best movie M. Night Shyamalan's been associated with since 'The Village' and he neither wrote the script for or directed 'Devil'. This is a film based on an idea the filmmaker had, that plus wearing the producers hat seem the only ties he had with the project, so don't doubt it as much as you probably already are. As with any other scary movie, the scares here were quite obvious and some of it had no hope of avoiding succumbing to a horror cheesefest. This is only in small parts though, it is not sprinkled throughout the movie nor does it take away too much from the overall tone. I went in with expectations that believed everything I just stated, and so that may account for how much I actually enjoyed the movie. It never tries too hard or goes for the ridiculous. It is consistently tense and well paced with a short running time. The key word with this movie is "simple", the film is set up with a narrator who exposes the entire plot in the first few sentences which I thought odd that it revealed the "secret". Yes, the devil is among these people trapped in an elevator, there is no need to suspect otherwise. But, our atmosphere is established, our main character is given a back story that makes us wonder why we are given such information. When the five strangers enter the elevator we know little or almost nothing about them. In fact, we only know one of their jobs and no names. Over the course of the film we o of course learn their names as well as the reasons they have been brought together. It is interesting to watch the plot structure develop and it is almost fun in a way, a good time but not at the cost of the film. The movie is occasionally frightening, but makes up for it with a consistently dark tone and Chris Messina who holds this all together nicely. This is certainly no masterpiece and it could have been much more interesting and a heck of a lot scarier given the subject matter, but I was not disappointed and I completely expected to be, so that says somethin.

DEVIL Review

This may be the best movie M. Night Shyamalan's been associated with since 'The Village' and he neither wrote the script for or directed 'Devil'. This is a film based on an idea the filmmaker had, that plus wearing the producers hat seem the only ties he had with the project, so don't doubt it as much as you probably already are. As with any other scary movie, the scares here were quite obvious and some of it had no hope of avoiding succumbing to a horror cheesefest. This is only in small parts though, it is not sprinkled throughout the movie nor does it take away too much from the overall tone. I went in with expectations that believed everything I just stated, and so that may account for how much I actually enjoyed the movie. It never tries too hard or goes for the ridiculous. It is consistently tense and well paced with a short running time. The key word with this movie is "simple", the film is set up with a narrator who exposes the entire plot in the first few sentences which I thought odd that it revealed the "secret". Yes, the devil is among these people trapped in an elevator, there is no need to suspect otherwise. But, our atmosphere is established, our main character is given a back story that makes us wonder why we are given such information. When the five strangers enter the elevator we know little or almost nothing about them. In fact, we only know one of their jobs and no names. Over the course of the film we o of course learn their names as well as the reasons they have been brought together. It is interesting to watch the plot structure develop and it is almost fun in a way, a good time but not at the cost of the film. The movie is occasionally frightening, but makes up for it with a consistently dark tone and Chris Messina who holds this all together nicely. This is certainly no masterpiece and it could have been much more interesting and a heck of a lot scarier given the subject matter, but I was not disappointed and I completely expected to be, so that says somethin.

THE AMERICAN Review

This is not what I expected. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'm really unsure what to think of the film. 'The American' is a quiet film with a quiet performance from Clooney. Clooney is at a point in his career where he is now certified to make whatever kind of films he wants and here he is interested in making a slow boiling thriller that hearkens back to the style of foreign films in the 80's and early 90's that worked in the same genre. Whereas I never really gave the trailer a good look I feel like it hinted at something entirely different than what this film actually is. It was made to seem a star vehicle that was packed with action and espionage. The actual movie is slow, restrained and artsy to a hilt. Most of the talk around this film concerns director Anton Corbijn, whom I've never heard of before, and his debut as a studio director. I don't know if you could call this a big studio film though as only a handful of people are killed, most by Clooney in a tight spot, there are no car crashes, though a scooter gets pretty banged up and there is no over the top camera work or hardly any music. What music does exist is subtle and restrained. Much like the images itself, there are shots that we see a few times and not much camera movement-for example, Corbijn really likes the back of Clooney's head as well as his side profile. The entire thing is rather static and it is a slow build to a rather anti-climatic finale. The story revolves around Clooney hiding out in Italy somewhere and coming to terms with the fact his time will run out and that he will not always have the opportunities afforded him at his present age. He wants to get out and is doing one last job of building a gun for a contact. Clooneys character who we believe is Jack clearly enjoys retreating from his normal life of on the run and assassinations. We understand his dilemmas and internal conflict and know nothing good will come of him trying to escape what he has made his life to be. The film asks interesting questions-why would someone sign up for a life they know will cause them to be constantly worried and suspicious? Why do something that will forbid you from things you some day desire? Clooney speaks to us with his eyes and never gives in to an overly-dramatic performance. This is the story of Bond without all the flash, without the martinis and the sleek cars. This is a character study of someone who has to deal with killing people for a living and hoping it will be justified when it is their time. The film is a good topic to open up conversation but it never really gets into the questions it is in fact posing. 'The American' will not be remembered as Clooneys greatest moment or as a great film, because in the end it is rather boring and could only be viewed with much intrigue the first time around. It has style and grace, but it is never exciting or interesting as a thriller should be.

THE AMERICAN Review

This is not what I expected. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'm really unsure what to think of the film. 'The American' is a quiet film with a quiet performance from Clooney. Clooney is at a point in his career where he is now certified to make whatever kind of films he wants and here he is interested in making a slow boiling thriller that hearkens back to the style of foreign films in the 80's and early 90's that worked in the same genre. Whereas I never really gave the trailer a good look I feel like it hinted at something entirely different than what this film actually is. It was made to seem a star vehicle that was packed with action and espionage. The actual movie is slow, restrained and artsy to a hilt. Most of the talk around this film concerns director Anton Corbijn, whom I've never heard of before, and his debut as a studio director. I don't know if you could call this a big studio film though as only a handful of people are killed, most by Clooney in a tight spot, there are no car crashes, though a scooter gets pretty banged up and there is no over the top camera work or hardly any music. What music does exist is subtle and restrained. Much like the images itself, there are shots that we see a few times and not much camera movement-for example, Corbijn really likes the back of Clooney's head as well as his side profile. The entire thing is rather static and it is a slow build to a rather anti-climatic finale. The story revolves around Clooney hiding out in Italy somewhere and coming to terms with the fact his time will run out and that he will not always have the opportunities afforded him at his present age. He wants to get out and is doing one last job of building a gun for a contact. Clooneys character who we believe is Jack clearly enjoys retreating from his normal life of on the run and assassinations. We understand his dilemmas and internal conflict and know nothing good will come of him trying to escape what he has made his life to be. The film asks interesting questions-why would someone sign up for a life they know will cause them to be constantly worried and suspicious? Why do something that will forbid you from things you some day desire? Clooney speaks to us with his eyes and never gives in to an overly-dramatic performance. This is the story of Bond without all the flash, without the martinis and the sleek cars. This is a character study of someone who has to deal with killing people for a living and hoping it will be justified when it is their time. The film is a good topic to open up conversation but it never really gets into the questions it is in fact posing. 'The American' will not be remembered as Clooneys greatest moment or as a great film, because in the end it is rather boring and could only be viewed with much intrigue the first time around. It has style and grace, but it is never exciting or interesting as a thriller should be.

THAT EVENING SUN Review

There are many things to love about Scott Teems' 'That Evening Sun' but what is most appealing is the divergence of character and story from a strict mold. Beginning with Hal Holbrooks Abner we have a lead character whom you neither love or hate. You dislike many of the things he does and says, but you understand him and you think he is humorous but that is mostly due to the charisma Holbrook brings to his performance. Holbrooks performance is what you've probably heard about most concerning the film and all the praise is no doubt deserved. Holbrook carries the film and has more than a few powerful scenes and stories that will stay with you after finishing the film. He fits the bitter old person role but extends his conflict past that mold and his journey is about much more than trying to reclaim his house. We all know its not about the house, its about everything that comes with it. The memories, the things that recall them, the pictures, the moments that were shared in those rooms. It is the fact that Abner wants to reclaim what has already passed in his life. He doesn't want to face what has happened, but instead return to the way things used to be, before his wife passed away. It is a hard pill to swallow, watching this man slowly expose himself for what he truly desires. Watching his hardened exterior melt with regret and confusion. Yes, Holbrook is simply wonderful. And so is his supporting cast, which includes southern gems Ray McKinnon and Walter Goggins. As Abner's rival, McKinnon is the no good piece of white trash that Abner believes him to be. He hasn't worked, drinks constantly and has a temper that results in actions we cannot forgive him for. We don't think we like him until his wife, played by Carrie Preston, makes a plea that shows how desperate she along with her husband really are. The truth is depressing, that she would give up what might have been her ideals about life to be with a man who she loves and can only sometimes get it together. McKinnon's Lonzo is an awful man, but there are redeemable qualities and so in our two leads we have the complete opposite of every other movie we see throughout the year. Neither of these men are completely right or wrong, instead they are true and complex as all characters should be. It's also a pleasure to see Mia Wasikowska taking chances with such a southern film where she couldn't be further from her comfort zone. Not only does 'That Evening Sun' give us insightful character studies and interesting story lines, but also makes use of its Tennessee location in ways that exude these people even more. It represents a way of life, a limit on what you may achieve and a comfort zone some never will or want to break out of. You can feel the heat of the summer and the noise of the bugs at night. It captures its atmosphere perfectly as well as its complex emotions that are being dealt with. This film is one that lends its strongest qualities to the forefront, making us believe that no matter what the conclusion might say, we know Abner can never let go of his past. Not the neat and clean finale that would make a bigger film, but one that fits this odd little gem perfectly. This movie truly does deserve to be seen.

THAT EVENING SUN Review

There are many things to love about Scott Teems' 'That Evening Sun' but what is most appealing is the divergence of character and story from a strict mold. Beginning with Hal Holbrooks Abner we have a lead character whom you neither love or hate. You dislike many of the things he does and says, but you understand him and you think he is humorous but that is mostly due to the charisma Holbrook brings to his performance. Holbrooks performance is what you've probably heard about most concerning the film and all the praise is no doubt deserved. Holbrook carries the film and has more than a few powerful scenes and stories that will stay with you after finishing the film. He fits the bitter old person role but extends his conflict past that mold and his journey is about much more than trying to reclaim his house. We all know its not about the house, its about everything that comes with it. The memories, the things that recall them, the pictures, the moments that were shared in those rooms. It is the fact that Abner wants to reclaim what has already passed in his life. He doesn't want to face what has happened, but instead return to the way things used to be, before his wife passed away. It is a hard pill to swallow, watching this man slowly expose himself for what he truly desires. Watching his hardened exterior melt with regret and confusion. Yes, Holbrook is simply wonderful. And so is his supporting cast, which includes southern gems Ray McKinnon and Walter Goggins. As Abner's rival, McKinnon is the no good piece of white trash that Abner believes him to be. He hasn't worked, drinks constantly and has a temper that results in actions we cannot forgive him for. We don't think we like him until his wife, played by Carrie Preston, makes a plea that shows how desperate she along with her husband really are. The truth is depressing, that she would give up what might have been her ideals about life to be with a man who she loves and can only sometimes get it together. McKinnon's Lonzo is an awful man, but there are redeemable qualities and so in our two leads we have the complete opposite of every other movie we see throughout the year. Neither of these men are completely right or wrong, instead they are true and complex as all characters should be. It's also a pleasure to see Mia Wasikowska taking chances with such a southern film where she couldn't be further from her comfort zone. Not only does 'That Evening Sun' give us insightful character studies and interesting story lines, but also makes use of its Tennessee location in ways that exude these people even more. It represents a way of life, a limit on what you may achieve and a comfort zone some never will or want to break out of. You can feel the heat of the summer and the noise of the bugs at night. It captures its atmosphere perfectly as well as its complex emotions that are being dealt with. This film is one that lends its strongest qualities to the forefront, making us believe that no matter what the conclusion might say, we know Abner can never let go of his past. Not the neat and clean finale that would make a bigger film, but one that fits this odd little gem perfectly. This movie truly does deserve to be seen.

LETTERS TO JULIET Review

There is only so much to say once you have seen so many romantic comedies. They all have the same essential plots no matter what wrench the screenwriter attempts to throw into the mix. 'Letters to Juliet' is really no different, but it is a pretty high class wrench thrown in here. The concept is really quite lovely. That being the only word I feel accurately describes the tone of the film, it is hard not to enjoy most of the film even if we know, as we always do, how things will eventually end up. The conclusion isn't even important anymore, we get a happy ending because if they ever gave us a sad one we would just complain about that as well. What is key here is the casting and location, lucky for us, both are beautiful. Seyfried is on a roll, while this marks one of her highlights in some of the later rolls she has chosen. This is a dependable romantic film with touches of comedy that Seyfried should seek out more often. Vanessa Redgrave is truly stunning and although I haven't seen Egan in anything previous he is too average to rise to the leading man status. He does nothing to give us the impression that our leading lady should fall in love with him. Sure, his character makes some slight changes over the course of the story, but he is never as likeable as he should be. Verona on the other hand is gorgeous and beautifully photographed here. The bright yellows and sharp greens, the earthy tones and warm emotions they evoke create a tone in the film that would otherwise leave these actions feeling plain rather than compassionate. The trailers for this film left little to the imagination, so we know that Lorenzo will eventually show up, riding in on a white horse like something out of a storybook and believe me when I say at least a few more cheesy moments like this show up throughout the course of the film. It is the small moments that make this worth your time though. Especially through Redgrave as she meets many different Lorenzo's and can recognize why each of them are not hers through the small details. Or the way she watches her grandson fall in love with the girl that would bring her to her own true love. The understandings and depth of emotions Redgrave exposes in these little glimpses are what knock this film from cheesy romance to credible fantasy. In the end, the movie is ultimately a lovely thought. That one can still be with the one they love no matter how much time they've lost. It is sad, heartbreaking even, but we of course never get too deep into the regrets and late night cries that come with such consequences. Instead, we have a rather light, brainless romantic comedy that looks gorgeous and has a few actors that pull it past its standard expectations.

LETTERS TO JULIET Review

There is only so much to say once you have seen so many romantic comedies. They all have the same essential plots no matter what wrench the screenwriter attempts to throw into the mix. 'Letters to Juliet' is really no different, but it is a pretty high class wrench thrown in here. The concept is really quite lovely. That being the only word I feel accurately describes the tone of the film, it is hard not to enjoy most of the film even if we know, as we always do, how things will eventually end up. The conclusion isn't even important anymore, we get a happy ending because if they ever gave us a sad one we would just complain about that as well. What is key here is the casting and location, lucky for us, both are beautiful. Seyfried is on a roll, while this marks one of her highlights in some of the later rolls she has chosen. This is a dependable romantic film with touches of comedy that Seyfried should seek out more often. Vanessa Redgrave is truly stunning and although I haven't seen Egan in anything previous he is too average to rise to the leading man status. He does nothing to give us the impression that our leading lady should fall in love with him. Sure, his character makes some slight changes over the course of the story, but he is never as likeable as he should be. Verona on the other hand is gorgeous and beautifully photographed here. The bright yellows and sharp greens, the earthy tones and warm emotions they evoke create a tone in the film that would otherwise leave these actions feeling plain rather than compassionate. The trailers for this film left little to the imagination, so we know that Lorenzo will eventually show up, riding in on a white horse like something out of a storybook and believe me when I say at least a few more cheesy moments like this show up throughout the course of the film. It is the small moments that make this worth your time though. Especially through Redgrave as she meets many different Lorenzo's and can recognize why each of them are not hers through the small details. Or the way she watches her grandson fall in love with the girl that would bring her to her own true love. The understandings and depth of emotions Redgrave exposes in these little glimpses are what knock this film from cheesy romance to credible fantasy. In the end, the movie is ultimately a lovely thought. That one can still be with the one they love no matter how much time they've lost. It is sad, heartbreaking even, but we of course never get too deep into the regrets and late night cries that come with such consequences. Instead, we have a rather light, brainless romantic comedy that looks gorgeous and has a few actors that pull it past its standard expectations.

GOING THE DISTANCE Review

It is good to see Justin Long getting back to what he should be doing. I found it odd he took so many projects that didn't concern his comic talents, and though this can surely be appreciated and understood, it doesn't bode well with ones core fan base that the last "comedy" he was in was "He's Just Not that Into You," and that's not counting what was essentially a cameo in 'Youth in Revolt' earlier this year. All this is to say that I am glad Mr. Long, who has never really possessed movie star qualities, is back to doing what he does best. Directed by first time feature director Nanette Burstein, 'Going the Distance' has a time tainted quality to it. From the soundtrack to the way in which its shot, the style of it, the color palette. All of it creates the feeling this story took place in the 80's. If not for cell phones and the bit about the newspaper business being in trouble it probably could have been. It is nice though, slightly refreshing and to sum up the actual movie compared to your expectations would be to say it is much raunchier than you probably expect but it tips the scales by being a lot more cutsey than you may have expected as well. We like the characters from the get go and although I've never found Drew Barrymore particularly attractive I very much liked the person she was in this film. Her Erin matches with Long's Garrett so well they have us buying into their love half an hour into the film. And that first half hour is pure greatness, the meet-cute, the quirks, the great sense of humor they both share, the super-knowledge of bar trivia, it is all very touching and more importantly funny. Where the movie slides into raunchiness it is forgiven because it is just genuine humor. This is mostly due to the supporting players of Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day. Day gives a performance what will make you ask, "who is this guy?" after seeing the film. He steals every scene he is a part of with his raspy and comical vocal tones. This is bad news for Sudeikis though who shares pretty much every scene with Day and is pushed back to being the second-funniest friend. Ive always liked Sudeikis and for that reason I appreciated him here and hope he begins to get larger roles, although he does have one classic rant here that concerns the purpose of his mustache. As the movie begins to feel repetitive in its latter half, the quirks and sparks fade a little and we are simply waiting for the resolution that we know will come. The movie leaves us guessing for a bit, but there is never any real doubt that Garrett and Erin won't live happily ever after. This isn't a bad thing, it was a fun ride. Hopefully this is Justin Longs first step in the direction of more comedy.

GOING THE DISTANCE Review

It is good to see Justin Long getting back to what he should be doing. I found it odd he took so many projects that didn't concern his comic talents, and though this can surely be appreciated and understood, it doesn't bode well with ones core fan base that the last "comedy" he was in was "He's Just Not that Into You," and that's not counting what was essentially a cameo in 'Youth in Revolt' earlier this year. All this is to say that I am glad Mr. Long, who has never really possessed movie star qualities, is back to doing what he does best. Directed by first time feature director Nanette Burstein, 'Going the Distance' has a time tainted quality to it. From the soundtrack to the way in which its shot, the style of it, the color palette. All of it creates the feeling this story took place in the 80's. If not for cell phones and the bit about the newspaper business being in trouble it probably could have been. It is nice though, slightly refreshing and to sum up the actual movie compared to your expectations would be to say it is much raunchier than you probably expect but it tips the scales by being a lot more cutsey than you may have expected as well. We like the characters from the get go and although I've never found Drew Barrymore particularly attractive I very much liked the person she was in this film. Her Erin matches with Long's Garrett so well they have us buying into their love half an hour into the film. And that first half hour is pure greatness, the meet-cute, the quirks, the great sense of humor they both share, the super-knowledge of bar trivia, it is all very touching and more importantly funny. Where the movie slides into raunchiness it is forgiven because it is just genuine humor. This is mostly due to the supporting players of Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day. Day gives a performance what will make you ask, "who is this guy?" after seeing the film. He steals every scene he is a part of with his raspy and comical vocal tones. This is bad news for Sudeikis though who shares pretty much every scene with Day and is pushed back to being the second-funniest friend. Ive always liked Sudeikis and for that reason I appreciated him here and hope he begins to get larger roles, although he does have one classic rant here that concerns the purpose of his mustache. As the movie begins to feel repetitive in its latter half, the quirks and sparks fade a little and we are simply waiting for the resolution that we know will come. The movie leaves us guessing for a bit, but there is never any real doubt that Garrett and Erin won't live happily ever after. This isn't a bad thing, it was a fun ride. Hopefully this is Justin Longs first step in the direction of more comedy.

HARRY BROWN Review

'Harry Brown' hits you hard. The violence that is, this is dark, gritty and more brutal than anything I've seen recently. It is one of those dark films that takes a peak into the underground crime world of England. The atmosphere is quite important here and besides this and Michael Caine nothing much else matters here. Director Barber creates a tone that is not only gritty in itself but it consumes every character in the film. It is truly insane how the gang members running around in this area are ruthless in their attacks on the innocent. It is as if they are doing it just to prove how awful they can make the world. This is one of my issues with the film though, whereas this provokes Harry to go on a mission to avenge his friend it also doesn't have enough substance behind it. That could sound bad, I'm not saying thugs killing random people isn't motivation enough to take matters into your own hands, but the film offers no cause for these low-lives to get themselves caught up in murdering the elderly except for the fact they are simply ignorant people. This should be enough, really, but in my perspective it made the entire film overall feel half-hearted. The plot is standard by the book revenge stuff we have seen plenty of times before, but as I said earlier it is the presence of Michael Caine that makes this more intriguing. Caine is a master at his craft and he takes this opportunity to showcase how he can turn even the most predictable of plots and stories into a character study with real gravitas.I don't usually find it necessary to break down my reasons for giving a particular movie a certain rating, but doing so here will better help you understand the real essence of the film, or at least I hope so. Within the rating system of five stars this receives a slightly above average three and a half. Why? I'm glad you asked, this is by no means a bad movie. Its style is one of its strongest elements and that alone garners a recommendation for at least renting it. Caine's performance should have a star all to itself, but I added an extra half on instead of another full simply because even though Mr. Brown is a good concept, the fact that the only difference between this and any other movie with the same story is the age of our protagonist. Which again goes back to Caine making this believable whereas with a lesser performer this may have come off as lazy and unbelievable. Never taking its opportunities to grapple with moral dilemmas or delve deeper into the reasons Harry Brown has become the person he is in the film take away some interesting aspects of an otherwise tired story, this is too bad for the production, they had the great Michael Caine on board and its almost as if they took it for granted and let the whole thing sail on his shoulders. Its effective, but not as compelling as it should be.

HARRY BROWN Review

'Harry Brown' hits you hard. The violence that is, this is dark, gritty and more brutal than anything I've seen recently. It is one of those dark films that takes a peak into the underground crime world of England. The atmosphere is quite important here and besides this and Michael Caine nothing much else matters here. Director Barber creates a tone that is not only gritty in itself but it consumes every character in the film. It is truly insane how the gang members running around in this area are ruthless in their attacks on the innocent. It is as if they are doing it just to prove how awful they can make the world. This is one of my issues with the film though, whereas this provokes Harry to go on a mission to avenge his friend it also doesn't have enough substance behind it. That could sound bad, I'm not saying thugs killing random people isn't motivation enough to take matters into your own hands, but the film offers no cause for these low-lives to get themselves caught up in murdering the elderly except for the fact they are simply ignorant people. This should be enough, really, but in my perspective it made the entire film overall feel half-hearted. The plot is standard by the book revenge stuff we have seen plenty of times before, but as I said earlier it is the presence of Michael Caine that makes this more intriguing. Caine is a master at his craft and he takes this opportunity to showcase how he can turn even the most predictable of plots and stories into a character study with real gravitas.I don't usually find it necessary to break down my reasons for giving a particular movie a certain rating, but doing so here will better help you understand the real essence of the film, or at least I hope so. Within the rating system of five stars this receives a slightly above average three and a half. Why? I'm glad you asked, this is by no means a bad movie. Its style is one of its strongest elements and that alone garners a recommendation for at least renting it. Caine's performance should have a star all to itself, but I added an extra half on instead of another full simply because even though Mr. Brown is a good concept, the fact that the only difference between this and any other movie with the same story is the age of our protagonist. Which again goes back to Caine making this believable whereas with a lesser performer this may have come off as lazy and unbelievable. Never taking its opportunities to grapple with moral dilemmas or delve deeper into the reasons Harry Brown has become the person he is in the film take away some interesting aspects of an otherwise tired story, this is too bad for the production, they had the great Michael Caine on board and its almost as if they took it for granted and let the whole thing sail on his shoulders. Its effective, but not as compelling as it should be.