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.

FASTER Review

The Rock has officially returned as an action star. 'Faster' is a simple, fast-paced, pure action romp that speeds through its run time without concerning itself with too much of a convulted story. In fact, the only time the film really makes a misstep is when it tries to be something more than what it needs to be. The completely unnecessary character of a hired hitman brings in too much convultion of the plot where it would be better if the film simply focused on The Rock and his quest of seeking revenge on the gang of folks that murdered his brother right in front of him. It is simply good to see Mr. Johnson getting back into form after suffering a few duds in the action realm and deciding to take the safer route into family-friendly films. It was a fine move, worked for Arnold and Diesel, but this guy was practically passed the torch by the governor himself and it would be a shame to let those skills, that presence go to waste. That is what makes 'Faster' a genuinely enjoyable B-movie. The simple overwhelming presence The Rock has as he walks through a street, stone-faced with no regard to the world around him. The 70's like style implied by director George Tillman as well as the washed out color palette and southern tinged soundtrack add a flavor to the film that would otherwise make this a more bland type of action movie. All the parts seem to be working in unison here though and succeed most of the time in making this a pleasant and gruesome ride at the same time. The casting director should also be comended as they were wise enough to fill even some of the smaller roles with some wonderful performers. Having Mike Epps make a short cameo as well as the lovely Jennifer Carpenter shows some substance behind these flash in the pan characters they are supposed to be portraying. They allow their off screen persona to lend to what we are supposed to think of them here. We are never given names of characters, except for a few on a short list that The Rock carries around with him. Having Carla Gugino play the sexy and understated detective is a nice touch and Billy Bob Thornton shows off his best stuff in years finally taking a break from playing a coach or complete a-hole. He still carries that drunken persona with him, but as I said before, it lends to his on-screen persona. This is to be said for the star of the film as well. People are going to go see this because they want a good action film and they trust Mr. Johnson will deliver. The filmmakers are smart enough to let that image stay intact on screen. There isn't much dialogue and the scenes of violence are brief but intense. The stunt driving in the film is spectacular and one particular getaway chase will no doubt leave you hoping for more. Where the best bits of drama spawn from are not the excessive story lines on the side, but in the moments before The Rock decides if he will kill or not. The most intense coming when he encounters a man who has since turned his life around and is now a preacher. The scene literally had me on edge and confided in me the confidence to rate this as a solid action film. Though it may be average in every way, it is the best kind of conventional. What keeps it from getting a higher reccomendation is trying to do too much, add too much plot, too many characters when all it really needs is our protagonist walking around making sure those who deserve it, die. I hope 'Faster' is a hit, if not because it is a pretty decent film, but for the fact that The Rock will be given the confidence to continue making these action films. We need more of these brainless action morality tales, Jason Statham can't make them all, and The Rock is simply too huge an attitude to let go to waste.

FASTER Review

The Rock has officially returned as an action star. 'Faster' is a simple, fast-paced, pure action romp that speeds through its run time without concerning itself with too much of a convulted story. In fact, the only time the film really makes a misstep is when it tries to be something more than what it needs to be. The completely unnecessary character of a hired hitman brings in too much convultion of the plot where it would be better if the film simply focused on The Rock and his quest of seeking revenge on the gang of folks that murdered his brother right in front of him. It is simply good to see Mr. Johnson getting back into form after suffering a few duds in the action realm and deciding to take the safer route into family-friendly films. It was a fine move, worked for Arnold and Diesel, but this guy was practically passed the torch by the governor himself and it would be a shame to let those skills, that presence go to waste. That is what makes 'Faster' a genuinely enjoyable B-movie. The simple overwhelming presence The Rock has as he walks through a street, stone-faced with no regard to the world around him. The 70's like style implied by director George Tillman as well as the washed out color palette and southern tinged soundtrack add a flavor to the film that would otherwise make this a more bland type of action movie. All the parts seem to be working in unison here though and succeed most of the time in making this a pleasant and gruesome ride at the same time. The casting director should also be comended as they were wise enough to fill even some of the smaller roles with some wonderful performers. Having Mike Epps make a short cameo as well as the lovely Jennifer Carpenter shows some substance behind these flash in the pan characters they are supposed to be portraying. They allow their off screen persona to lend to what we are supposed to think of them here. We are never given names of characters, except for a few on a short list that The Rock carries around with him. Having Carla Gugino play the sexy and understated detective is a nice touch and Billy Bob Thornton shows off his best stuff in years finally taking a break from playing a coach or complete a-hole. He still carries that drunken persona with him, but as I said before, it lends to his on-screen persona. This is to be said for the star of the film as well. People are going to go see this because they want a good action film and they trust Mr. Johnson will deliver. The filmmakers are smart enough to let that image stay intact on screen. There isn't much dialogue and the scenes of violence are brief but intense. The stunt driving in the film is spectacular and one particular getaway chase will no doubt leave you hoping for more. Where the best bits of drama spawn from are not the excessive story lines on the side, but in the moments before The Rock decides if he will kill or not. The most intense coming when he encounters a man who has since turned his life around and is now a preacher. The scene literally had me on edge and confided in me the confidence to rate this as a solid action film. Though it may be average in every way, it is the best kind of conventional. What keeps it from getting a higher reccomendation is trying to do too much, add too much plot, too many characters when all it really needs is our protagonist walking around making sure those who deserve it, die. I hope 'Faster' is a hit, if not because it is a pretty decent film, but for the fact that The Rock will be given the confidence to continue making these action films. We need more of these brainless action morality tales, Jason Statham can't make them all, and The Rock is simply too huge an attitude to let go to waste.

BURLESQUE Review

This is no 'Chicago'. That is clear within the first musical number. And this is sad, seeing as we haven't had a great of a movie musical in a while. What was the deal with 'Nine"? Why wasn't that great? The same can be asked this year. Even though the acting caliber is nowhere near as high as last years hopeful, the musical background behind this throwback is strong enough to blow any other current musical out of the water. The story is clearly not the focus here as it follows any small town girl follows her dreams to the big city plot line. What does seem to be the focus though is the fact the makers were able to wrangle a legend like Cher and a current talent with one of the most amazing voices ever to star in the same film...about the art of musical performance no less! How exciting! First and foremost I must say this isn't as flamboyantly gay as it might first appear to be, but never the less some of the musical numbers could have used a little sprucing up. Only one in which Christina and the girls perform a more modern version of a song titled "Express" rises above the rest and presents itself as something worth paying strong attention to. And again, this is a shame seeing as so much talent is involved. It is slightly chilling when Christina is given the opportunity to sing live for the first time, but besides these two moments of inspiration, the film is rather dull and conventional. It is corny, especially when Mr. Cam Gigandet is on screen, its almost as if they told the poor guy to do a campy impression of an actor of old. This is about as bad as it gets while the presence of Cher is wasted on only two musical numbers and only one truly hits the spot. Also seemingly wasted even more than the lovely Cher is Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher and somewhat of Eric Dane, though I never warmed up to his character which I guess you weren't supposed to. He's the guy trying to buy out everyone and build the new skyscraper that will destroy the club everyone's life lines come from, you know the one. As for the women, Julianne Hough is able to show off her dancing skills in a more broad styled dance and Kristen Bell gets to play the bad b-word who has a vendetta against the new girl. Bell never sings and she hardly dances, but the real problem is that we never buy her as the bad girl, the same way we never buy Aguilera as a small town girl who's looked at as anything but a superstar. Though her acting isn't as terrible as one might imagine, and she's never looked better, and this may have been the best choice in her career at the moment. It is a glamorous movie musical that hearkens back to the days of old, but what it never captures is the essence, the magic of what made them feel alive and thriving with a strong heartbeat. It is a fun movie that has a few catchy songs, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good one. It is a nice attempt, in the right context it may even be the best thing to put on, but if this is the movie you choose for your Thanksgiving night, you will no doubt be a little disappointed given how much promise this movie held.This is no 'Chicago'. That is clear within the first musical number. And this is sad, seeing as we haven't had that great of a movie musical in a while. What was the deal with 'Nine"? Why wasn't that great and the same can be said this year. Even though the acting caliber is nowhere near as high as last years hopeful, the musical background behind this throwback is strong enough to blow any other current musical out of the water. The story is clearly not the focus here as it follows any small town girl follows her dreams to the big city plot line. What does seem to be the focus though is the fact the makers were able to wrangle a legend like Cher and a current talent with one of the most amazing voices ever to star in the same film...about the art of musical performance no less! How exciting! First and foremost I must say this isn't as flamboyantly gay as it might first appear to be, but never the less some of the musical numbers could have used a little sprucing up. Only one in which Christina and the girls perform a more modern version of a song titled "Express" rises above the rest and presents itself as something worth paying strong attention to. And again, this is a shame seeing as so much talent is involved. It is slightly chilling when Christina is given the opportunity to sing live for the first time, but besides these two moments of inspiration, the film is rather dull and conventional. It is corny, especially when Mr. Cam Gigandet is on screen, its almost as if they told the poor guy to do a campy impression of an actor of old. This is about as bad as it gets while the presence of Cher is wasted on only two musical numbers and only one truly hits the spot. Also seemingly wasted even more than the lovely Cher is Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher and somewhat of Eric Dane, though I never warmed up to his character which I guess you weren't supposed to. He's the guy trying to buy out everyone and build the new skyscraper that will destroy the club everyone's life lines come from, you know the one. As for the women, Julianne Hough is able to show off her dancing skills in a more broad styled dance and Kristen Bell gets to play the bad b-word who has a vendetta against the new girl. Bell never sings and she hardly dances, but the real problem is that we never buy her as the bad girl, the same way we never buy Aguilera as a small town girl who's looked at as anything but a superstar. Though her acting isn't as terrible as one might imagine, and she's never looked better, and this may have been the best choice in her career at the moment. It is a glamorous movie musical that hearkens back to the days of old, but what it never captures is the essence, the magic of what made them feel alive and thriving with a strong heartbeat. It is a fun movie that has a few catchy songs, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good one. It is a nice attempt, in the right context it may even be the best thing to put on, but if this is the movie you choose for your Thanksgiving night, you will no doubt be a little disappointed given how much promise this movie held.

BURLESQUE Review

This is no 'Chicago'. That is clear within the first musical number. And this is sad, seeing as we haven't had a great of a movie musical in a while. What was the deal with 'Nine"? Why wasn't that great? The same can be asked this year. Even though the acting caliber is nowhere near as high as last years hopeful, the musical background behind this throwback is strong enough to blow any other current musical out of the water. The story is clearly not the focus here as it follows any small town girl follows her dreams to the big city plot line. What does seem to be the focus though is the fact the makers were able to wrangle a legend like Cher and a current talent with one of the most amazing voices ever to star in the same film...about the art of musical performance no less! How exciting! First and foremost I must say this isn't as flamboyantly gay as it might first appear to be, but never the less some of the musical numbers could have used a little sprucing up. Only one in which Christina and the girls perform a more modern version of a song titled "Express" rises above the rest and presents itself as something worth paying strong attention to. And again, this is a shame seeing as so much talent is involved. It is slightly chilling when Christina is given the opportunity to sing live for the first time, but besides these two moments of inspiration, the film is rather dull and conventional. It is corny, especially when Mr. Cam Gigandet is on screen, its almost as if they told the poor guy to do a campy impression of an actor of old. This is about as bad as it gets while the presence of Cher is wasted on only two musical numbers and only one truly hits the spot. Also seemingly wasted even more than the lovely Cher is Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher and somewhat of Eric Dane, though I never warmed up to his character which I guess you weren't supposed to. He's the guy trying to buy out everyone and build the new skyscraper that will destroy the club everyone's life lines come from, you know the one. As for the women, Julianne Hough is able to show off her dancing skills in a more broad styled dance and Kristen Bell gets to play the bad b-word who has a vendetta against the new girl. Bell never sings and she hardly dances, but the real problem is that we never buy her as the bad girl, the same way we never buy Aguilera as a small town girl who's looked at as anything but a superstar. Though her acting isn't as terrible as one might imagine, and she's never looked better, and this may have been the best choice in her career at the moment. It is a glamorous movie musical that hearkens back to the days of old, but what it never captures is the essence, the magic of what made them feel alive and thriving with a strong heartbeat. It is a fun movie that has a few catchy songs, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good one. It is a nice attempt, in the right context it may even be the best thing to put on, but if this is the movie you choose for your Thanksgiving night, you will no doubt be a little disappointed given how much promise this movie held.This is no 'Chicago'. That is clear within the first musical number. And this is sad, seeing as we haven't had that great of a movie musical in a while. What was the deal with 'Nine"? Why wasn't that great and the same can be said this year. Even though the acting caliber is nowhere near as high as last years hopeful, the musical background behind this throwback is strong enough to blow any other current musical out of the water. The story is clearly not the focus here as it follows any small town girl follows her dreams to the big city plot line. What does seem to be the focus though is the fact the makers were able to wrangle a legend like Cher and a current talent with one of the most amazing voices ever to star in the same film...about the art of musical performance no less! How exciting! First and foremost I must say this isn't as flamboyantly gay as it might first appear to be, but never the less some of the musical numbers could have used a little sprucing up. Only one in which Christina and the girls perform a more modern version of a song titled "Express" rises above the rest and presents itself as something worth paying strong attention to. And again, this is a shame seeing as so much talent is involved. It is slightly chilling when Christina is given the opportunity to sing live for the first time, but besides these two moments of inspiration, the film is rather dull and conventional. It is corny, especially when Mr. Cam Gigandet is on screen, its almost as if they told the poor guy to do a campy impression of an actor of old. This is about as bad as it gets while the presence of Cher is wasted on only two musical numbers and only one truly hits the spot. Also seemingly wasted even more than the lovely Cher is Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher and somewhat of Eric Dane, though I never warmed up to his character which I guess you weren't supposed to. He's the guy trying to buy out everyone and build the new skyscraper that will destroy the club everyone's life lines come from, you know the one. As for the women, Julianne Hough is able to show off her dancing skills in a more broad styled dance and Kristen Bell gets to play the bad b-word who has a vendetta against the new girl. Bell never sings and she hardly dances, but the real problem is that we never buy her as the bad girl, the same way we never buy Aguilera as a small town girl who's looked at as anything but a superstar. Though her acting isn't as terrible as one might imagine, and she's never looked better, and this may have been the best choice in her career at the moment. It is a glamorous movie musical that hearkens back to the days of old, but what it never captures is the essence, the magic of what made them feel alive and thriving with a strong heartbeat. It is a fun movie that has a few catchy songs, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good one. It is a nice attempt, in the right context it may even be the best thing to put on, but if this is the movie you choose for your Thanksgiving night, you will no doubt be a little disappointed given how much promise this movie held.

LOVE & OTHER DRUGS Review

What you expect going into 'Love & Other Drugs' isn't exactly what you get. I expected somewhat of an off-beat quirky indie comedy about the emphasis on a society where love matters little as long as you are getting laid. I thought the touch of Gyllenhaal's character being a drug rep that gets his biggest boost of sales from Viagra was a nice touch in the script and supplied a clever name for the film. What we are actually in for though is a romantic comedy dressed in indie garb with two very credible and able actors at the lead of this R-rated picture. Director Zwick, who usually takes on big action oriented period pieces such as 'The Last Samurai' and 'Defiance' among his more recent endeavors, seems mostly at home in this soft and simple story of two people who hate love falling into it for the first time. While the story is a strong point it seems to take three very different strides as it runs the course of the film. The first act is one of introduction, obviously, moreso to Jamie Randall who's memoir the book is based on. It begins focusing completely on this young hotshot who goes through women as if they are prizes to be claimed and passed on. He is in the fast lane, working for the bug leagues. The opening scenes in which Gyllenhaal solidifies his character as a charmer in a second rate electronics store is pure fun and demonstrates the identity of the lead character immediately. As we see Jamies luck and casualty with which he passes of women we know that at some point Anne Hathaway is going to show up and shift his entire thought process about love to the one he has tried to escape his entire life, and so she does. And this is fine, we expect it to happen, but more truthfully, we want it to. We need to see this guy make a change in his life. We yearn for his character to evolve and he does so in the most natural and understanding of ways and it is really a testament to how well Mr. Gyllenhaal is able to make this guy who might be considered a tool in reality to come off as such a genuine guy who we'd rather be friends with than call names. In that second act, Hathaway gets to show off more of her serious acting skills as well, her Maggie is the perfect counterpart for Jamie. They are both only looking to have a good time and have no idea how to handle things when feelings become more than just sex-related. With such a dilemma, we can guess where this movie might go in its final half hour, but what it doesn't do is what earns it an above average rating. It turns from a conventional romance where something bad happens just to be overcome shortly before the credits roll into a film where serious issues must be considered and feelings hurt before realizations can be made, decisions of what is worth more and it is extremely emotional and touching. Played by anyone else, the final few scenes could have been the most cliche and sappy of endings, but these two are able to make you feel the pain and the love between them. They let you know its real, and not just a happy Hollywood ending. They don't necessarily always give us what we ask for, but instead what we deserve, what we didn't know we wanted until it was served to us in a great package like this film. It is funny, intriguing, beautiful and whisks by at a lovely pace. You won't check the time, you almost don't want to see the story conclude, instead you want to watch these interesting people's lives forever. Mission accomplished.

LOVE & OTHER DRUGS Review

What you expect going into 'Love & Other Drugs' isn't exactly what you get. I expected somewhat of an off-beat quirky indie comedy about the emphasis on a society where love matters little as long as you are getting laid. I thought the touch of Gyllenhaal's character being a drug rep that gets his biggest boost of sales from Viagra was a nice touch in the script and supplied a clever name for the film. What we are actually in for though is a romantic comedy dressed in indie garb with two very credible and able actors at the lead of this R-rated picture. Director Zwick, who usually takes on big action oriented period pieces such as 'The Last Samurai' and 'Defiance' among his more recent endeavors, seems mostly at home in this soft and simple story of two people who hate love falling into it for the first time. While the story is a strong point it seems to take three very different strides as it runs the course of the film. The first act is one of introduction, obviously, moreso to Jamie Randall who's memoir the book is based on. It begins focusing completely on this young hotshot who goes through women as if they are prizes to be claimed and passed on. He is in the fast lane, working for the bug leagues. The opening scenes in which Gyllenhaal solidifies his character as a charmer in a second rate electronics store is pure fun and demonstrates the identity of the lead character immediately. As we see Jamies luck and casualty with which he passes of women we know that at some point Anne Hathaway is going to show up and shift his entire thought process about love to the one he has tried to escape his entire life, and so she does. And this is fine, we expect it to happen, but more truthfully, we want it to. We need to see this guy make a change in his life. We yearn for his character to evolve and he does so in the most natural and understanding of ways and it is really a testament to how well Mr. Gyllenhaal is able to make this guy who might be considered a tool in reality to come off as such a genuine guy who we'd rather be friends with than call names. In that second act, Hathaway gets to show off more of her serious acting skills as well, her Maggie is the perfect counterpart for Jamie. They are both only looking to have a good time and have no idea how to handle things when feelings become more than just sex-related. With such a dilemma, we can guess where this movie might go in its final half hour, but what it doesn't do is what earns it an above average rating. It turns from a conventional romance where something bad happens just to be overcome shortly before the credits roll into a film where serious issues must be considered and feelings hurt before realizations can be made, decisions of what is worth more and it is extremely emotional and touching. Played by anyone else, the final few scenes could have been the most cliche and sappy of endings, but these two are able to make you feel the pain and the love between them. They let you know its real, and not just a happy Hollywood ending. They don't necessarily always give us what we ask for, but instead what we deserve, what we didn't know we wanted until it was served to us in a great package like this film. It is funny, intriguing, beautiful and whisks by at a lovely pace. You won't check the time, you almost don't want to see the story conclude, instead you want to watch these interesting people's lives forever. Mission accomplished.

FLIPPED Review


Sometimes a film will take you completely by surprise and so is the case with Rob Reiner's latest film 'Flipped'. It looked to be nothing more than a cutesy story of boy meets girl with a 50's backdrop. This assumption would be somewhat accurate, but it would not give near as much credit to this terrific little film as it deserves. Beginning from the moment they first meet at the age of five up through the eighth grade we get a look at love in an all to ignored stage in life. That awkward age of jr. high where we like to believe your first love will be our only and in every way, 'Flipped' makes us believe it were true. Reiner directs with a simple hand, within the story, its time sensitive set pieces and with his young actors. All of which shine through in their unique ways. To begin with the story, as I said earlier, this looked to be a typical girl meets boy story, but the formulaic story structure is switched up here with the story going back and forth from the two different points of view of our two leads. Juli, played by the wonderful Madeline Carroll and Bryce who is portrayed with just the right notes of smug and warmth by Callan McAuliffe. The story not only gives us the ins and outs of falling in and out of love and finally realizing how amazing that person is and how much you might have taken them for granted, but it inserts pieces of the two leads personal lives and how it affects what they think about their relationship, heck it even affects their developing relationship with one another seeing as they are neighbors. In the beginning of the film the relationship is more simple, as are the dilemmas in how to either avoid each other or get face time with one another, depending on who's head over heels for who at the moment. As the movie reached its second half though and begins to not only intertwine the two families, but the personal situations and the main relationship we realize how natural this development is fro a young man coming to the realization that what is actually true is what he's attempted to deny his entire life. It is a lightly touching film that is so adorable. The moment we hear Bryce's voice over say "My Juli" we melt and he has us in the palm of his hand. There is no doubt the back and forth gets a tad redundant after a certain point and some of the characters are little more than archetypes (especially the under developed plot line concerning Bryce's father) but all in all this is a magical little film that makes a great viewing experience for either family movie night or date night. You cannot go wrong, it will no doubt surprise you as it did me. I am so glad it did, it made me want to fall in love all over again.

FLIPPED Review


Sometimes a film will take you completely by surprise and so is the case with Rob Reiner's latest film 'Flipped'. It looked to be nothing more than a cutesy story of boy meets girl with a 50's backdrop. This assumption would be somewhat accurate, but it would not give near as much credit to this terrific little film as it deserves. Beginning from the moment they first meet at the age of five up through the eighth grade we get a look at love in an all to ignored stage in life. That awkward age of jr. high where we like to believe your first love will be our only and in every way, 'Flipped' makes us believe it were true. Reiner directs with a simple hand, within the story, its time sensitive set pieces and with his young actors. All of which shine through in their unique ways. To begin with the story, as I said earlier, this looked to be a typical girl meets boy story, but the formulaic story structure is switched up here with the story going back and forth from the two different points of view of our two leads. Juli, played by the wonderful Madeline Carroll and Bryce who is portrayed with just the right notes of smug and warmth by Callan McAuliffe. The story not only gives us the ins and outs of falling in and out of love and finally realizing how amazing that person is and how much you might have taken them for granted, but it inserts pieces of the two leads personal lives and how it affects what they think about their relationship, heck it even affects their developing relationship with one another seeing as they are neighbors. In the beginning of the film the relationship is more simple, as are the dilemmas in how to either avoid each other or get face time with one another, depending on who's head over heels for who at the moment. As the movie reached its second half though and begins to not only intertwine the two families, but the personal situations and the main relationship we realize how natural this development is fro a young man coming to the realization that what is actually true is what he's attempted to deny his entire life. It is a lightly touching film that is so adorable. The moment we hear Bryce's voice over say "My Juli" we melt and he has us in the palm of his hand. There is no doubt the back and forth gets a tad redundant after a certain point and some of the characters are little more than archetypes (especially the under developed plot line concerning Bryce's father) but all in all this is a magical little film that makes a great viewing experience for either family movie night or date night. You cannot go wrong, it will no doubt surprise you as it did me. I am so glad it did, it made me want to fall in love all over again.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 Review

It is strange to see all of this begin with no end in sight until July. It is even more odd to watch these characters alive and operating outside the normal construct of a 'Harry Potter' film. I wondered from the moment they announced the final book would be split into two how they would make this first half interesting and as action-packed as the others. The answer? It isn't as action packed, but may be the most interesting installment yet. Those who know where this is all going will no doubt enjoy the filmmakers ability to more closely adapt the book to the screen (this is one reason I was completely for the films being split). This first half is used to set up everything we will see unfold in the final chapter, it is an actors showcase for its three leads whereas the second I imagine will carry a completely different tone and consist more of more battle sequences than we can imagine. It is good to know we have that to look forward to, but with part 1 we get to know these characters we have loved for so long better than we could have ever imagined and in knowing what they will face next, we do not take this film for granted, in fact, we love it entirely. Director Yates who I'm glad decided to helm the final four films so as to allow not only the actors but everyone to find a groove that would mature through the most important stages of this series. Here, he brings us a beautifully shot film that is large in scale without being overly self-indulged. From the beginning we also realize this will live up to its claims of being the darkest Potter film we've seen. Whether it be Hermoine wiping her parents mind of her existence for their own protection or the meeting of the death eaters to see the dark lord ascending we know how big the stakes are, we know what has to happen, and it is a grand journey to get there. A few things I took note of were the lack of supporting characters, while it was nice to see Bill Weasley for the first time and Mr. Lovegood who is given great screen presence by the wonderful Rhys Ifans, this didn't feature the Hogwarts professors, there is hardly any Snape, no McGonagall and though this is how we knew it was going to be, it is different and more jolting than I imagined it was going to be. It is strange to not see these characters in their natural habitat, but instead as matured adults who are dealing with the greatest challenge of their lives. The film is also odd in that it is only the first half of a longer movie, the format in which we are familiar with watching movies is not followed here. The dramatic questions are posed but there is no resolve, there is no huge climax, there is simply the indications of what is about to go down. Spending much of the film estranged in the woods trying to figure out where these horcruxes might be and how they are going to destroy them. There is tension, there is much mystery, there are what seem to be tons of story lines being re-introduced and all while Yates sustains that feeling of tranquility within the three core characters. It is hard to describe how affecting the film is without building it up to where you will be disappointed because it isn't the typical 'Harry Potter' film, but to look at it as the beginning of the closest adaptation ever to Rowling's masterpieces as well as supporting both the best acting and visual fx of any other films certainly give it something to brag about. It was aching to see Dobby suffer the way he did and heartbreaking to see Harry and Ron disagree once more in the most crucial of times, but both Grint and Radcliffe give some of their most invested performances. Watson is the real gem though as Hermione is the character who has always and still does hold this team together, Watson takes her duties with great pride and gives the best performance of this film. We feel every ounce of pain she does, and in Part 1, that's a lot. Needless to say I can't wait until the part 2 arrives, but this is a more than promising beginning to the end of what will surely shape up to be a master series by the time Harry finally faces Voldemort the way we always knew he would. It will be grand. C'mon July 15...

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 Review

It is strange to see all of this begin with no end in sight until July. It is even more odd to watch these characters alive and operating outside the normal construct of a 'Harry Potter' film. I wondered from the moment they announced the final book would be split into two how they would make this first half interesting and as action-packed as the others. The answer? It isn't as action packed, but may be the most interesting installment yet. Those who know where this is all going will no doubt enjoy the filmmakers ability to more closely adapt the book to the screen (this is one reason I was completely for the films being split). This first half is used to set up everything we will see unfold in the final chapter, it is an actors showcase for its three leads whereas the second I imagine will carry a completely different tone and consist more of more battle sequences than we can imagine. It is good to know we have that to look forward to, but with part 1 we get to know these characters we have loved for so long better than we could have ever imagined and in knowing what they will face next, we do not take this film for granted, in fact, we love it entirely. Director Yates who I'm glad decided to helm the final four films so as to allow not only the actors but everyone to find a groove that would mature through the most important stages of this series. Here, he brings us a beautifully shot film that is large in scale without being overly self-indulged. From the beginning we also realize this will live up to its claims of being the darkest Potter film we've seen. Whether it be Hermoine wiping her parents mind of her existence for their own protection or the meeting of the death eaters to see the dark lord ascending we know how big the stakes are, we know what has to happen, and it is a grand journey to get there. A few things I took note of were the lack of supporting characters, while it was nice to see Bill Weasley for the first time and Mr. Lovegood who is given great screen presence by the wonderful Rhys Ifans, this didn't feature the Hogwarts professors, there is hardly any Snape, no McGonagall and though this is how we knew it was going to be, it is different and more jolting than I imagined it was going to be. It is strange to not see these characters in their natural habitat, but instead as matured adults who are dealing with the greatest challenge of their lives. The film is also odd in that it is only the first half of a longer movie, the format in which we are familiar with watching movies is not followed here. The dramatic questions are posed but there is no resolve, there is no huge climax, there is simply the indications of what is about to go down. Spending much of the film estranged in the woods trying to figure out where these horcruxes might be and how they are going to destroy them. There is tension, there is much mystery, there are what seem to be tons of story lines being re-introduced and all while Yates sustains that feeling of tranquility within the three core characters. It is hard to describe how affecting the film is without building it up to where you will be disappointed because it isn't the typical 'Harry Potter' film, but to look at it as the beginning of the closest adaptation ever to Rowling's masterpieces as well as supporting both the best acting and visual fx of any other films certainly give it something to brag about. It was aching to see Dobby suffer the way he did and heartbreaking to see Harry and Ron disagree once more in the most crucial of times, but both Grint and Radcliffe give some of their most invested performances. Watson is the real gem though as Hermione is the character who has always and still does hold this team together, Watson takes her duties with great pride and gives the best performance of this film. We feel every ounce of pain she does, and in Part 1, that's a lot. Needless to say I can't wait until the part 2 arrives, but this is a more than promising beginning to the end of what will surely shape up to be a master series by the time Harry finally faces Voldemort the way we always knew he would. It will be grand. C'mon July 15...

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT Review

Surprisingly, 'The Kids Are All Right' did not strike me the way I imagined it would. After all the hype surrounding the indie film this summer I was expecting something a bit, I don't know how to say it...better. Not that this was a bad film, I rather enjoyed Mark Ruffalo's performance here and Annette Bening would be the reason I suggest it to people. Her performance is the most demanding, the one the average person will misunderstand the most and the character you probably won't like for the majority of the film. This lady deserves some serious props for pulling all of these facets into a life that comes crashing down around her and is still level-headed enough to be understanding and realize the important things and events in life even as they happen during a time of crisis. What the story boils down to is a not so out of the ordinary family dynamics drama, the wrench that is thrown in is that the family contains two mothers, lesbians. They have each had a child with the same man's sperm, the kids come of age, are curious to meet their biological father and once they do you can imagine the events that ensue. Though I have never been a big fan of Julianne Moore's she is somewhat of the catalyst character here. Her character gets wrapped up in an affair with Ruffalo's sperm donor and though I don't like to simply give a plot summary, I feel this films main strength is its different family dynamic than most drama/comedies centered around the average American family and so I feel it necessary. What I did find interesting about the film was that despite it focusing on the three adult leads, the title gets it right and we, the audience, find ourselves more concerned with how these actions and choices these adults are making are going to affect these two, very sweet, but impressionistic kids. Straight off her blockbuster role in 'Alice in Wonderland' Mia Wasikowska gives a quiet yet telling performance. We seem to view this entire situation through her point of view and she does a fine job of allowing us to live through her character. Joash Hutcherson had matured well and it is nice to see him taking on more challenging roles as he grows older. We find his juvenile comments that simplify the situation appealing and we then realize what a simple story this actually is. And in that, I go back to my misunderstanding of why this received as much great buzz as it did. I liked it, sure, and it had both some very funny and touching moments, but I can't get past the fact that it wasn't as good as I hoped it to be, that for how unconventional this story was the film itself seemed rather conventional.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT Review

Surprisingly, 'The Kids Are All Right' did not strike me the way I imagined it would. After all the hype surrounding the indie film this summer I was expecting something a bit, I don't know how to say it...better. Not that this was a bad film, I rather enjoyed Mark Ruffalo's performance here and Annette Bening would be the reason I suggest it to people. Her performance is the most demanding, the one the average person will misunderstand the most and the character you probably won't like for the majority of the film. This lady deserves some serious props for pulling all of these facets into a life that comes crashing down around her and is still level-headed enough to be understanding and realize the important things and events in life even as they happen during a time of crisis. What the story boils down to is a not so out of the ordinary family dynamics drama, the wrench that is thrown in is that the family contains two mothers, lesbians. They have each had a child with the same man's sperm, the kids come of age, are curious to meet their biological father and once they do you can imagine the events that ensue. Though I have never been a big fan of Julianne Moore's she is somewhat of the catalyst character here. Her character gets wrapped up in an affair with Ruffalo's sperm donor and though I don't like to simply give a plot summary, I feel this films main strength is its different family dynamic than most drama/comedies centered around the average American family and so I feel it necessary. What I did find interesting about the film was that despite it focusing on the three adult leads, the title gets it right and we, the audience, find ourselves more concerned with how these actions and choices these adults are making are going to affect these two, very sweet, but impressionistic kids. Straight off her blockbuster role in 'Alice in Wonderland' Mia Wasikowska gives a quiet yet telling performance. We seem to view this entire situation through her point of view and she does a fine job of allowing us to live through her character. Joash Hutcherson had matured well and it is nice to see him taking on more challenging roles as he grows older. We find his juvenile comments that simplify the situation appealing and we then realize what a simple story this actually is. And in that, I go back to my misunderstanding of why this received as much great buzz as it did. I liked it, sure, and it had both some very funny and touching moments, but I can't get past the fact that it wasn't as good as I hoped it to be, that for how unconventional this story was the film itself seemed rather conventional.

UNSTOPPABLE Review

Tony Scott seems to enjoy movies concerning trains, as well as those that star Denzel Washington. In their fifth film together, Mr. Scott and Mr. Washington tackle a huge industry that few truly understand the inner-workings of. Being as this is a Tony Scott film though, the focus is not really on the men and women who keep this huge business running, but it is about the action, it is about what happens when a yard worker ignores the little things and accidentally allows a train a half mile long to escape onto the main railway. The story is simple, though adding elements such as a harmful chemical being carried by the runaway train, a carriage of school children and a stubborn boss more interested in profit than people are all nice, if not stock conflicts to introduce into the script. I am glad to report though that the film keeps its main focus where it needs to be and that is on the developing relationship between Washington's Frank and Chris Pine's Will. Initially we get more background story on the younger of the two while Frank's is rolled out in his day to day chores and discussions with his new conductor. I enjoyed that it was all sincere and rather natural, though I felt the additional shots of Frank's daughters waitressing their way through college at Hooters were completely unnecessary and simply an excuse for the crew to spend the day at the restaurant. After his star-making turn in 'Star Trek' last year it is good to see Pine quickly coming back with a good quality film that doesn't say he is trying to do too much too fast with his career. He makes a nice foil for Denzels all too familiar character as well. They are coming with two very different points of view from the very opposite ends of the spectrum. One who should be on his way out the door, but is suffering due to cut backs and the other who is struggling just to keep a job with all that is going down in his personal life. They both endure family issues and they both work on a train, but after that this isn't the buddy buddy action flick team you might have imagined it would be after seeing the trailer. To put it simply, the relationship between our two leads had much more depth to it than I imagined. The supporting cast is rather enjoyable to watch as well, be it Ethan Suplee who is the cause for all of this, Kevin Corrigan who is underused and Kevin Dunn who is always a pleasure no matter how ignorant a character he plays. Rosario Dawson is also a pleasure and handles her strong supporting character well despite her clearly cinematic dialogue displayed in the trailers. And while this is one of the best films Washington and Scott have made since 'Man On Fire' I have genuinely enjoyed all of their films together. This is simply a fast paced action film that goes from start to finish without slowing down and has some great bits of tension in it. As for complaints I can really only say the soundtrack is the one detracting thing for me. It is full of club songs that don't match the tone of the film at all. It simply doesn't make sense and though the quick edits and saturated color palette are all representative of a Tony Scott movie, the music was a bad idea. What isn't a bad idea is going to see 'Unstoppable' on a free afternoon.

UNSTOPPABLE Review

Tony Scott seems to enjoy movies concerning trains, as well as those that star Denzel Washington. In their fifth film together, Mr. Scott and Mr. Washington tackle a huge industry that few truly understand the inner-workings of. Being as this is a Tony Scott film though, the focus is not really on the men and women who keep this huge business running, but it is about the action, it is about what happens when a yard worker ignores the little things and accidentally allows a train a half mile long to escape onto the main railway. The story is simple, though adding elements such as a harmful chemical being carried by the runaway train, a carriage of school children and a stubborn boss more interested in profit than people are all nice, if not stock conflicts to introduce into the script. I am glad to report though that the film keeps its main focus where it needs to be and that is on the developing relationship between Washington's Frank and Chris Pine's Will. Initially we get more background story on the younger of the two while Frank's is rolled out in his day to day chores and discussions with his new conductor. I enjoyed that it was all sincere and rather natural, though I felt the additional shots of Frank's daughters waitressing their way through college at Hooters were completely unnecessary and simply an excuse for the crew to spend the day at the restaurant. After his star-making turn in 'Star Trek' last year it is good to see Pine quickly coming back with a good quality film that doesn't say he is trying to do too much too fast with his career. He makes a nice foil for Denzels all too familiar character as well. They are coming with two very different points of view from the very opposite ends of the spectrum. One who should be on his way out the door, but is suffering due to cut backs and the other who is struggling just to keep a job with all that is going down in his personal life. They both endure family issues and they both work on a train, but after that this isn't the buddy buddy action flick team you might have imagined it would be after seeing the trailer. To put it simply, the relationship between our two leads had much more depth to it than I imagined. The supporting cast is rather enjoyable to watch as well, be it Ethan Suplee who is the cause for all of this, Kevin Corrigan who is underused and Kevin Dunn who is always a pleasure no matter how ignorant a character he plays. Rosario Dawson is also a pleasure and handles her strong supporting character well despite her clearly cinematic dialogue displayed in the trailers. And while this is one of the best films Washington and Scott have made since 'Man On Fire' I have genuinely enjoyed all of their films together. This is simply a fast paced action film that goes from start to finish without slowing down and has some great bits of tension in it. As for complaints I can really only say the soundtrack is the one detracting thing for me. It is full of club songs that don't match the tone of the film at all. It simply doesn't make sense and though the quick edits and saturated color palette are all representative of a Tony Scott movie, the music was a bad idea. What isn't a bad idea is going to see 'Unstoppable' on a free afternoon.

MORNING GLORY Review

I thought this looked rather promising from the first trailer. It is an interesting area of broadcast journalism to document and with Rachel McAdam's leading this film with one of her best performances of the past few years it is a really fun and entertaining watch. Though she was fine as Downey's love foil in 'Sherlock Holmes' but her notebook-like, one-note character in the bland 'Time Traveler's Wife' she really needed something to help her get back to those fun days of 'Mean Girls' and 'Wedding Crashers'. She anchors the film well here and without her glowing performance this wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable. And while McAdam's makes this her movie, the highlight for me was the "banter" between McAdam's and Ford who is great in the role of the old curmudgeon who is cranky about having lost his job at the evening news desk and is forced under contract to agree to working at the morning show if he wants to continue to get paid. Director Roger Michell makes the different layers of the story overlap one another effortlessly. Switching from McAdams' Becky Fuller's issues with her relationships, her job and her co-workers we are introduced to several different characters and allowed into many different aspects of her life. From the beginning we know where this story is going, but that doesn't mean the trip isn't fun, in fact I found 'Morning Glory' to be one of the more enjoyable rom-coms/light comedies of this year. It is one I could easily watch over and over because it isn't a film that takes itself too seriously or involves some difficult plot it is instead something that is pleasantly engaging and not the plain chick flick you might imagine it to be. What is a real shame about this film though is the second teer role in which Diane Keaton is given. In a film that contains such a strong central female character I thought the relationship between McAdam's character and Keatons morning show staple and former Ms. Arizona Colleen Peck would have had much more depth and camaraderie to it. They are the ones trying to improve "Daybreak" and are trying by any means to stay on the air. Though Ford's Mike Pomeroy obviously isn't going to make this easy for them I assumed this would have brought them together even more, but that relationship seems to have been dropped in order to document Fuller's outside relationship with the necessary love interest, I understand and can see the reasoning in this, plus casting the extremely likable Patrick Wilson doesn't hurt, but to see this familiar story play out rather than have the two lead women at the morning show work on Ford's Pomeroy until he cares too much about them to not care about the show would have been not only a more original route to go but one that offered more opportunity, and more time to give us a look at the character Keaton only is allowed to show off half the time. Let's not make this too complicated though, 'Morning Glory' was mean to be a fun and time at the movies that leaves you with a warm feeling as you leave and it accomplishes that. No more, no less. It is completely acceptable and its performances edge it just above average.

MORNING GLORY Review

I thought this looked rather promising from the first trailer. It is an interesting area of broadcast journalism to document and with Rachel McAdam's leading this film with one of her best performances of the past few years it is a really fun and entertaining watch. Though she was fine as Downey's love foil in 'Sherlock Holmes' but her notebook-like, one-note character in the bland 'Time Traveler's Wife' she really needed something to help her get back to those fun days of 'Mean Girls' and 'Wedding Crashers'. She anchors the film well here and without her glowing performance this wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable. And while McAdam's makes this her movie, the highlight for me was the "banter" between McAdam's and Ford who is great in the role of the old curmudgeon who is cranky about having lost his job at the evening news desk and is forced under contract to agree to working at the morning show if he wants to continue to get paid. Director Roger Michell makes the different layers of the story overlap one another effortlessly. Switching from McAdams' Becky Fuller's issues with her relationships, her job and her co-workers we are introduced to several different characters and allowed into many different aspects of her life. From the beginning we know where this story is going, but that doesn't mean the trip isn't fun, in fact I found 'Morning Glory' to be one of the more enjoyable rom-coms/light comedies of this year. It is one I could easily watch over and over because it isn't a film that takes itself too seriously or involves some difficult plot it is instead something that is pleasantly engaging and not the plain chick flick you might imagine it to be. What is a real shame about this film though is the second teer role in which Diane Keaton is given. In a film that contains such a strong central female character I thought the relationship between McAdam's character and Keatons morning show staple and former Ms. Arizona Colleen Peck would have had much more depth and camaraderie to it. They are the ones trying to improve "Daybreak" and are trying by any means to stay on the air. Though Ford's Mike Pomeroy obviously isn't going to make this easy for them I assumed this would have brought them together even more, but that relationship seems to have been dropped in order to document Fuller's outside relationship with the necessary love interest, I understand and can see the reasoning in this, plus casting the extremely likable Patrick Wilson doesn't hurt, but to see this familiar story play out rather than have the two lead women at the morning show work on Ford's Pomeroy until he cares too much about them to not care about the show would have been not only a more original route to go but one that offered more opportunity, and more time to give us a look at the character Keaton only is allowed to show off half the time. Let's not make this too complicated though, 'Morning Glory' was mean to be a fun and time at the movies that leaves you with a warm feeling as you leave and it accomplishes that. No more, no less. It is completely acceptable and its performances edge it just above average.

SKYLINE Review

In what is essentially a mash up of every alien invader film ever made before this, 'Skyline' is a sad excuse for an original story with its only reasons for getting the rating it does being for the amazing quality of the special effects. These effects are what separate 'Skyline' from simply becoming another sci-fi channel original, and most of the time you are sitting there watching this you will be wondering how it didn't end up on that station. Instead of thinking about how lifeless, how unoriginal or how much you don't care about the people on screen you will instead be wondering what idiot decided this was a good idea. I'm not sure of the reputation the Strause brothers have earned in Hollywood, but I know they've directed a AVP film and that combined with this doesn't bode well for me or should it with anyone who loves a good sci-fi film. I was impressed by the teaser trailer and was no doubt intrigued but by the time the feature trailer came around and we actually caught a glimpse of the acting and what this film was actually going to be about I doubted it heavily. So much to the point that I questioned going to see it, but I couldn't shake the feeling it might have some kind of potential. Never have I been more wrong. It is by far one of the worst films I've seen all year. It begins in what is supposed to be a hook of a beginning but isn't mysterious or intriguing by any means and returns to the beginning point much to quickly after it travels back in time 15 hours. None of these C-list actors are convey any connection to their audience, only Scottie Thompson is able to evoke any kind of sympathy. If they were going to make a carbon copy of Spielberg's 'War of the Worlds' from a few years they could have at least picked a batch of more interesting people to document through this alien invasion. Whereas Spielberg stayed narrow and focused on how such a catastrophic event affected a single father and his estranged children, 'Skyline' attempts to copy, but with young 20-somethings who we dislike before the aliens even begin to show up. Its almost as if they should have gone the other route and showed more of the mass amounts of people getting attacked (which they do at some points and it is clearly the most emotionally moving part of an otherwise stale film). As I am writing this I am really trying to come up with at least a few good things to say about this movie, but to be honest, I truly can't. Visually, it does look amazing, but even the design of the alien invaders didn't appeal to me and the ending, let's not even discuss the ending. It is ridiculous, completely awful and leaves it wide open for a sequel that let's pray to God never happens. Yea, it was that bad.

SKYLINE Review

In what is essentially a mash up of every alien invader film ever made before this, 'Skyline' is a sad excuse for an original story with its only reasons for getting the rating it does being for the amazing quality of the special effects. These effects are what separate 'Skyline' from simply becoming another sci-fi channel original, and most of the time you are sitting there watching this you will be wondering how it didn't end up on that station. Instead of thinking about how lifeless, how unoriginal or how much you don't care about the people on screen you will instead be wondering what idiot decided this was a good idea. I'm not sure of the reputation the Strause brothers have earned in Hollywood, but I know they've directed a AVP film and that combined with this doesn't bode well for me or should it with anyone who loves a good sci-fi film. I was impressed by the teaser trailer and was no doubt intrigued but by the time the feature trailer came around and we actually caught a glimpse of the acting and what this film was actually going to be about I doubted it heavily. So much to the point that I questioned going to see it, but I couldn't shake the feeling it might have some kind of potential. Never have I been more wrong. It is by far one of the worst films I've seen all year. It begins in what is supposed to be a hook of a beginning but isn't mysterious or intriguing by any means and returns to the beginning point much to quickly after it travels back in time 15 hours. None of these C-list actors are convey any connection to their audience, only Scottie Thompson is able to evoke any kind of sympathy. If they were going to make a carbon copy of Spielberg's 'War of the Worlds' from a few years they could have at least picked a batch of more interesting people to document through this alien invasion. Whereas Spielberg stayed narrow and focused on how such a catastrophic event affected a single father and his estranged children, 'Skyline' attempts to copy, but with young 20-somethings who we dislike before the aliens even begin to show up. Its almost as if they should have gone the other route and showed more of the mass amounts of people getting attacked (which they do at some points and it is clearly the most emotionally moving part of an otherwise stale film). As I am writing this I am really trying to come up with at least a few good things to say about this movie, but to be honest, I truly can't. Visually, it does look amazing, but even the design of the alien invaders didn't appeal to me and the ending, let's not even discuss the ending. It is ridiculous, completely awful and leaves it wide open for a sequel that let's pray to God never happens. Yea, it was that bad.

MEGAMIND Review

After bringing a highly entertaining parody of cop films to the screen earlier this summer, Will Ferrell now brings to life the title character of a satire of the superhero film. Though this does bare resemblance to the structure of this summers just as entertaining 'Despicable Me' it takes it to the more literal level of straight up parodying the unreal popularity of the superhero flick at the moment. That being said, 'Megamind' is consistently funny from beginning to end and I can say that the kiddies will enjoy it just as much as the adults seeing as the show I went to included a good majority of both and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Ferrell, who subdued the whole man-child persona for his live-action summer flick is able to return to that in the form of an animated character which may entertain those who have never necessarily had the taste for a Ferrell movie before. I am an avid Ferrell fan though and am happy to see him choosing projects that allow his audience and style to widen as he still keeps the funny coming. From the beginning we understand that Megamind is a misguided mind. He knows no other way to get attention and utilize his skills other than to be evil. This leads to a rivalry between he and Metro City's (or Metrocity as Megamind would say) number one hero, Metro Man, who is voiced by Brad Pitt and in a surprise turn is absent for most of the film. In fact, if you are going in expecting a run of the mill back and forth between good and bad until the bad guy realizes he doesn't want to be bad anymore and that he actually yearns to be a good person you will only be half right. Of course Megamind's conscious can only take so much before he makes his revelation but what triggers this revelation is his accomplishment of defeating Metro Man, supposedly. The way in which Megamind realizes there is no reason to be evil unless you have a good guy to fight sets up his goal of creating a new hero, giving Jonah Hill's expected minor character a turn for the majors. Hill, who creepily looks like his onscreen character, plays it much the same here and though the kids won't know who he is, it is a good joke for those who do to witness Hill become this superhuman that eventually turns against convention and becomes the bad guy that forces Megamind to do good. It is a refreshing break when animated films don't follow the conventions just because they assume their target audience won't know the difference and we have been lucky this year. Though I wouldn't place 'Megamind' as high as 'Toy Story 3' or 'How to Train Your Dragon,' it is certainly close. It looks beautiful and gets the tone of a superhero film down without allowing itself to become what it is making fun of. It is clever and the delivery of the dialogue is priceless. Not only do Ferrell and Hill deserve major props for making this film appeal to more than just children and their parents, but Tina Fey and David Cross are both really great here. Especially Cross, he is so sly and subtle in his Minion (also an odd connection with 'Despicable Me') character that we cannot help but love every aspect of these bad guys. The charm of 'Megamind' is that it does in fact appeal to a broader audience than you might expect and though you probably see the end coming for what it will be it is a fun and hilarious ride. It's not an instant animated classic, but in a banner year for animated films, 'Megamind' makes the cut.

MEGAMIND Review

After bringing a highly entertaining parody of cop films to the screen earlier this summer, Will Ferrell now brings to life the title character of a satire of the superhero film. Though this does bare resemblance to the structure of this summers just as entertaining 'Despicable Me' it takes it to the more literal level of straight up parodying the unreal popularity of the superhero flick at the moment. That being said, 'Megamind' is consistently funny from beginning to end and I can say that the kiddies will enjoy it just as much as the adults seeing as the show I went to included a good majority of both and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Ferrell, who subdued the whole man-child persona for his live-action summer flick is able to return to that in the form of an animated character which may entertain those who have never necessarily had the taste for a Ferrell movie before. I am an avid Ferrell fan though and am happy to see him choosing projects that allow his audience and style to widen as he still keeps the funny coming. From the beginning we understand that Megamind is a misguided mind. He knows no other way to get attention and utilize his skills other than to be evil. This leads to a rivalry between he and Metro City's (or Metrocity as Megamind would say) number one hero, Metro Man, who is voiced by Brad Pitt and in a surprise turn is absent for most of the film. In fact, if you are going in expecting a run of the mill back and forth between good and bad until the bad guy realizes he doesn't want to be bad anymore and that he actually yearns to be a good person you will only be half right. Of course Megamind's conscious can only take so much before he makes his revelation but what triggers this revelation is his accomplishment of defeating Metro Man, supposedly. The way in which Megamind realizes there is no reason to be evil unless you have a good guy to fight sets up his goal of creating a new hero, giving Jonah Hill's expected minor character a turn for the majors. Hill, who creepily looks like his onscreen character, plays it much the same here and though the kids won't know who he is, it is a good joke for those who do to witness Hill become this superhuman that eventually turns against convention and becomes the bad guy that forces Megamind to do good. It is a refreshing break when animated films don't follow the conventions just because they assume their target audience won't know the difference and we have been lucky this year. Though I wouldn't place 'Megamind' as high as 'Toy Story 3' or 'How to Train Your Dragon,' it is certainly close. It looks beautiful and gets the tone of a superhero film down without allowing itself to become what it is making fun of. It is clever and the delivery of the dialogue is priceless. Not only do Ferrell and Hill deserve major props for making this film appeal to more than just children and their parents, but Tina Fey and David Cross are both really great here. Especially Cross, he is so sly and subtle in his Minion (also an odd connection with 'Despicable Me') character that we cannot help but love every aspect of these bad guys. The charm of 'Megamind' is that it does in fact appeal to a broader audience than you might expect and though you probably see the end coming for what it will be it is a fun and hilarious ride. It's not an instant animated classic, but in a banner year for animated films, 'Megamind' makes the cut.

DUE DATE Review

The inevitable question will be if 'Due Date' is a worthy successor to 'The Hangover' and though it may not be as consistently funny as last years surprise hit, I am also writing this after only viewing it once. And we all know how it goes with certain comedic films, the more you see them, the more you pick up on little things that are funny that you didn't notice the first time. I probably did this with 'The Hangover' and just don't remember it. I know I loved it after a first viewing, but I am positive I found much more to love since owning it. 'The Hangover' didn't have any pre-conceived pressure on it either, as 'Due Date' is expected to be just as funny and probably make almost as much money. This time director Todd Phillips isn't making stars, he is hiring them. And in what may be the best pairing ever, Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis create a couple that is the entire reason to see this film. There are other nice things about the film and a slew of great cameos, especially Juliette Lewis and Danny McBride who lets the offensive swing and receives laughs out of the park.Having the pleasure to sit back and watch these two leads, who are very opposite but jut as engaging actors go back and forth with each other is no doubt the most fun and hilarious time we will have at the theaters this year. It has been a slow one for comedies, there were some that just didn't measure up and while I would place 'The Other Guys' as a close second, it didn't go all out as this one does. 'Due Date' as you may have heard is pretty much a modern day 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' but with more vulgarity. This is true, that is the basic plot. Downey's Peter Highman has to get back to LA for the birth of his first child and after an incident on the plane with Galifianakis' Ethan Tremblay (Chase) they are both put on the no fly list. Peter loses his wallet, Ethan gets a rental car, thus they must make the trip together. And from that point on, anything you can imagine happening going wrong probably does. Phillips is a master at documenting the odd relationships between men and in putting the ill tempered Peter with an over-the-top wannabe actor like Ethan we are placed in situations that bring out the worst in one and the make apparent how oblivious the other is to everything going on around him. There is something to be said for a man who pleasures himself in front of another with no sense of how wrong it is or the fact that his dog is able to copy him. In saying that, it is clear Galifianakis put a lot of thought into how to make his character as ridiculous as possible and though he somewhat riffs off his 'Allen' persona, he takes things in a different direction all together and proves he's not a one-note comedian. It is also good to see Downey in a straight up, balls out comedy. He delivers every line and insult with such grace and elegance it is impossible not to laugh at how mean he is. At one point in the film he is reduced to a heavily induced drug state and allows his character a little break from being so high-strung and angry and it makes not only for a serious story development, but serves as a highlight in an already very funny and ridiculous movie. So, is it as good as 'The Hangover' the answer is simply no. That film is a milestone in my generations lives, as 'Animal House' or 'Fast Times' is to ones before us, and it the level at which we hold it will never be able to be surpassed, which makes me fear for its sequel, but had this precedence not been set for 'Due Date' would I think it was hilarious? Yes, in fact I probably would have loved it more had I never seen 'The Hangover'. It is what it is though and 'Due Date' certainly has enough funny moments of its own to earn funniest film of 2010. At least in my eyes. I know Mr. Tremblay would agree.

DUE DATE Review

The inevitable question will be if 'Due Date' is a worthy successor to 'The Hangover' and though it may not be as consistently funny as last years surprise hit, I am also writing this after only viewing it once. And we all know how it goes with certain comedic films, the more you see them, the more you pick up on little things that are funny that you didn't notice the first time. I probably did this with 'The Hangover' and just don't remember it. I know I loved it after a first viewing, but I am positive I found much more to love since owning it. 'The Hangover' didn't have any pre-conceived pressure on it either, as 'Due Date' is expected to be just as funny and probably make almost as much money. This time director Todd Phillips isn't making stars, he is hiring them. And in what may be the best pairing ever, Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis create a couple that is the entire reason to see this film. There are other nice things about the film and a slew of great cameos, especially Juliette Lewis and Danny McBride who lets the offensive swing and receives laughs out of the park.Having the pleasure to sit back and watch these two leads, who are very opposite but jut as engaging actors go back and forth with each other is no doubt the most fun and hilarious time we will have at the theaters this year. It has been a slow one for comedies, there were some that just didn't measure up and while I would place 'The Other Guys' as a close second, it didn't go all out as this one does. 'Due Date' as you may have heard is pretty much a modern day 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' but with more vulgarity. This is true, that is the basic plot. Downey's Peter Highman has to get back to LA for the birth of his first child and after an incident on the plane with Galifianakis' Ethan Tremblay (Chase) they are both put on the no fly list. Peter loses his wallet, Ethan gets a rental car, thus they must make the trip together. And from that point on, anything you can imagine happening going wrong probably does. Phillips is a master at documenting the odd relationships between men and in putting the ill tempered Peter with an over-the-top wannabe actor like Ethan we are placed in situations that bring out the worst in one and the make apparent how oblivious the other is to everything going on around him. There is something to be said for a man who pleasures himself in front of another with no sense of how wrong it is or the fact that his dog is able to copy him. In saying that, it is clear Galifianakis put a lot of thought into how to make his character as ridiculous as possible and though he somewhat riffs off his 'Allen' persona, he takes things in a different direction all together and proves he's not a one-note comedian. It is also good to see Downey in a straight up, balls out comedy. He delivers every line and insult with such grace and elegance it is impossible not to laugh at how mean he is. At one point in the film he is reduced to a heavily induced drug state and allows his character a little break from being so high-strung and angry and it makes not only for a serious story development, but serves as a highlight in an already very funny and ridiculous movie. So, is it as good as 'The Hangover' the answer is simply no. That film is a milestone in my generations lives, as 'Animal House' or 'Fast Times' is to ones before us, and it the level at which we hold it will never be able to be surpassed, which makes me fear for its sequel, but had this precedence not been set for 'Due Date' would I think it was hilarious? Yes, in fact I probably would have loved it more had I never seen 'The Hangover'. It is what it is though and 'Due Date' certainly has enough funny moments of its own to earn funniest film of 2010. At least in my eyes. I know Mr. Tremblay would agree.

LIFE AS WE KNOW IT Review

Going into a film like 'Life As We Know It' you kind of know what to expect if you've seen even a bit of its trailer. This is clearly a romantic comedy, but one that doesn't rely on a traditional meet-cute and in doing so, sets up some very complicated and touching subject matter that no run of the mill romantic comedy would dare go near. Even if you find such material un-intriguing or that this still plays to some of this genre's conventions, you must admire it for going above the call of duty. In the opening moments it sets up that Heigl and Duhamel's characters are completely opposite and therefore are destined to fall in love by the end of the film. This is obvious and we know that is where this movie is heading the entire time we're watching no matter what struggles the script throws in their way. In saying that, there are some nice twists that detour the inevitable from happening to soon. The characteristics of these two leads are defined early, for the fiftieth time Heigl plays the uptight career woman who has to plan everything. It seems she would get tired of this persona after a while, but then again maybe this is all she can do. I have never been particularly attracted to Heigl or her acting, but this is probably the best she's done since 'Knocked Up' and I credit that to the writer for giving her character some development not just in her relationship with Duhamel but as an adult, she grows to love the child that her friends entrusted her with and becomes a better mother than even she believed she could be. As corny as that may sound, it's true and her scenes with the child in the latter half of the film are very touching. As for Duhamel, I was a bit worried after the dud that was 'When in Rome' that he was destined to always be the military guy in the 'Transformers' movies or worse, Mr. Fergie. This role bodes well for him though, he is not as cheesy as he was in the Kristen Bell rom-com and at moments he comes off completely genuine though he has been assigned the traits of a tool. The two have rather good chemistry with one another and this shines as they both learn how to raise a child as well as grow up themselves. The montages where this kind of progress happens are entertaining and some of the best bits of the film. Overall, I expected this to be more run of the mill, but it was greatly surprising to see a touching film about love in more ways than one. Director Berlanti gives the film a warm look and nice pacing that allows the film to unfold in the time frame of a year. We become invested in these characters and we grow to root for their relationship even though we know in a big Hollywood film the makers would never let us go home disappointed with the fact things didn't work out perfectly.

LIFE AS WE KNOW IT Review

Going into a film like 'Life As We Know It' you kind of know what to expect if you've seen even a bit of its trailer. This is clearly a romantic comedy, but one that doesn't rely on a traditional meet-cute and in doing so, sets up some very complicated and touching subject matter that no run of the mill romantic comedy would dare go near. Even if you find such material un-intriguing or that this still plays to some of this genre's conventions, you must admire it for going above the call of duty. In the opening moments it sets up that Heigl and Duhamel's characters are completely opposite and therefore are destined to fall in love by the end of the film. This is obvious and we know that is where this movie is heading the entire time we're watching no matter what struggles the script throws in their way. In saying that, there are some nice twists that detour the inevitable from happening to soon. The characteristics of these two leads are defined early, for the fiftieth time Heigl plays the uptight career woman who has to plan everything. It seems she would get tired of this persona after a while, but then again maybe this is all she can do. I have never been particularly attracted to Heigl or her acting, but this is probably the best she's done since 'Knocked Up' and I credit that to the writer for giving her character some development not just in her relationship with Duhamel but as an adult, she grows to love the child that her friends entrusted her with and becomes a better mother than even she believed she could be. As corny as that may sound, it's true and her scenes with the child in the latter half of the film are very touching. As for Duhamel, I was a bit worried after the dud that was 'When in Rome' that he was destined to always be the military guy in the 'Transformers' movies or worse, Mr. Fergie. This role bodes well for him though, he is not as cheesy as he was in the Kristen Bell rom-com and at moments he comes off completely genuine though he has been assigned the traits of a tool. The two have rather good chemistry with one another and this shines as they both learn how to raise a child as well as grow up themselves. The montages where this kind of progress happens are entertaining and some of the best bits of the film. Overall, I expected this to be more run of the mill, but it was greatly surprising to see a touching film about love in more ways than one. Director Berlanti gives the film a warm look and nice pacing that allows the film to unfold in the time frame of a year. We become invested in these characters and we grow to root for their relationship even though we know in a big Hollywood film the makers would never let us go home disappointed with the fact things didn't work out perfectly.

MONSTERS Review

To say the least, it is impressive what director Edwards has accomplished on such a small budget. 'Monsters' though actually contains very little action including these creatures. In fact it contains very little action period, but I am certainly not one to complain about that and I certainly am not saying it makes the film worse because it didn't have a ton of action, but I was expecting a little more, especially when the name of your movie is 'Monsters". This is the "smart" monster movie though, and it will be billed that way and viewed by film buffs as an intelligent entry into this genre because of its lack of the cliches and its slower pace. It is quite a simple story, one that evolves over the course of following a man and a woman through the restricted zone where these monsters seem to congregate, in order to get back to the United States. A series of events leaves them with no choice other than to travel this dangerous path and thus along the way we find out more and more about these characters and watch them slowly become more attached if not attracted to one another. The film is strong in this area though, the two leads and virtually only actors in the entire thing do a great job of relaying there characteristics from the opening moments of the film. This is not the film where ships attack and aliens fall out of them and we see huge shots of millions of people screaming and running for their lives and I don't think that is the film Edwards would have made even if he did have the money. This isn't a 'District 9' type film the trailers made it out to be and as interesting and good of an idea as the backdrop of this world is, it really isn't about the monsters. This is a character study of how these events have affected these two people in particular. It is a beautiful looking film when our characters trek through the landscapes during the day, but a majority of the action takes place at night and in the dark where the filmmakers are smart enough to reveal very little of these title characters. The movie wrestles with this at times, deciding whether or not to give into the audience's yearning to see what exactly it is these people are running from. But the absence of monsters for the majority of the script gives them a break and until the final ten minutes or so do we really get to glimpse a monster in its entirety and by that point we can guess where the film will be concluding thanks to the opening credits. It works at a pace that might have you thinking, "When are the attacks going to start?" but the conclusion will leave you mostly satisfied if not a little saddened by the fact you were, for once, able to get to know the characters so well in what you thought was supposed to be an action film.

MONSTERS Review

To say the least, it is impressive what director Edwards has accomplished on such a small budget. 'Monsters' though actually contains very little action including these creatures. In fact it contains very little action period, but I am certainly not one to complain about that and I certainly am not saying it makes the film worse because it didn't have a ton of action, but I was expecting a little more, especially when the name of your movie is 'Monsters". This is the "smart" monster movie though, and it will be billed that way and viewed by film buffs as an intelligent entry into this genre because of its lack of the cliches and its slower pace. It is quite a simple story, one that evolves over the course of following a man and a woman through the restricted zone where these monsters seem to congregate, in order to get back to the United States. A series of events leaves them with no choice other than to travel this dangerous path and thus along the way we find out more and more about these characters and watch them slowly become more attached if not attracted to one another. The film is strong in this area though, the two leads and virtually only actors in the entire thing do a great job of relaying there characteristics from the opening moments of the film. This is not the film where ships attack and aliens fall out of them and we see huge shots of millions of people screaming and running for their lives and I don't think that is the film Edwards would have made even if he did have the money. This isn't a 'District 9' type film the trailers made it out to be and as interesting and good of an idea as the backdrop of this world is, it really isn't about the monsters. This is a character study of how these events have affected these two people in particular. It is a beautiful looking film when our characters trek through the landscapes during the day, but a majority of the action takes place at night and in the dark where the filmmakers are smart enough to reveal very little of these title characters. The movie wrestles with this at times, deciding whether or not to give into the audience's yearning to see what exactly it is these people are running from. But the absence of monsters for the majority of the script gives them a break and until the final ten minutes or so do we really get to glimpse a monster in its entirety and by that point we can guess where the film will be concluding thanks to the opening credits. It works at a pace that might have you thinking, "When are the attacks going to start?" but the conclusion will leave you mostly satisfied if not a little saddened by the fact you were, for once, able to get to know the characters so well in what you thought was supposed to be an action film.