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.

NOWHERE BOY Review

I expected this to be better than it was, but it was nowhere near disappointing. As you sit and watch the events of the most infamous Beatles childhood unfold in front of you it is nothing short of fascinating simply because of who this story is about, even if the makers would like you to believe this story could survive on its own even if we weren't watching a young John Lennon. Thus the story of Johns relationships with the mother who abandoned him and the aunt who raised him are emphasized as the focal points of the film, when all the audience is truly looking forward to is that moment when John meets Paul and they embark on the journey of all journey's together.
Not to say that the main conflict of the story isn't interesting, it probably could hold its own as a stand-alone film. The relational dynamics between John and his birth mother are fascinating in that it is she who introduces this world of rock and roll and is sort of a questionable figure in his life whereas his Aunt Mimi is the one who has to enforce the rules, the stricter of the two and of course the better one for him to be around. And while both of these women certainly hold a dear place in his heart and played a crucial role in developing the man that would become an icon. Neither, at least for me, get the prize for most interesting relationship in the film. No, the one that takes the cake is the one where John gets to know rock and roll and how it slowly becomes a part of him. It is insanely interesting to see how the man who would come to define part of the genre became acquainted with it. If you are a fan of the Beatles at all you will enjoy the film for its history lesson, but be warned, this is not a movie about the band.

Which brings me back around to the fact that I really wish there would have been more performances, more music and more inspiration. That as we watched the young Lennon come up in Liverpool we would get to see the inspirations for the songs that are now known all over the world. That is not what the intentions of this movie were though, and I can understand that, even if it does leave us yearning for so much more. As Lennon, Aaron Johnson inhabits the role, getting the voice and mannerisms seemingly down in every scene. We never see a flicker of another person, he is always true to the character he has created from no doubt countless hours of studying video footage and listening to recordings. As his aunt Mimi, Kristin Scott Thomas is greatly effective in every single scene. She comes out being the rock John was struggling to find. As young McCartney, Thomas Sangster has just the right look and charm. he isn't given much screen time or too much dialogue, but the moments he and John share that mean worlds more than the film ever indicates are ones that you look to the person next to you and smile at. They are special, they are history.

I am a sucker for bio-pics and even moreso when they are about a musical figure. And though "Nowhere Boy" isn't as much about the music as I would have liked it to be, it is still showing the beginnings of a man that would bring about a revolution. With that little tid bit attached to its protagonist this film is immediately interesting. It is attractive to its audience because of who this main character is. So I may not understand why director Sam Taylor Wood doesn't spend more time focusing her camera on the boys singing and writing music, but I can at least thank her for filling in the missing spaces of what might have motivated Lennon to become the man he later did. It leaves you with a sense of inspiration, yet I marvel at how a young man so unknowing, so curious came to become a man of such artistic expression and strong opinions. To see the critical moments in his life that made the wheels in his mind begin to turn is something of an almost breathtaking experience, if only we could have seen the results as well. Instead, we get one priceless scene where John, Paul and George record their first song together and in that moment the film truly shines and knowing what came next only makes it all the more bittersweet.



NOWHERE BOY Review

I expected this to be better than it was, but it was nowhere near disappointing. As you sit and watch the events of the most infamous Beatles childhood unfold in front of you it is nothing short of fascinating simply because of who this story is about, even if the makers would like you to believe this story could survive on its own even if we weren't watching a young John Lennon. Thus the story of Johns relationships with the mother who abandoned him and the aunt who raised him are emphasized as the focal points of the film, when all the audience is truly looking forward to is that moment when John meets Paul and they embark on the journey of all journey's together.

JACK GOES BOATING Review


This is a story of the human spirit. The difference here being the spirit of the human in question is an awkward, kind, happy yet self-secluded man named Jack. And he is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. In its trailers this looked to be a nice if not somewhat sappy love story about a man who normally feels like an outcast being given the chance to find love by an equally kind woman. It's credibility and the expectations coming along with it were no doubt heightened when I realized Mr. Hoffman was making his directorial debut with this as well as taking the lead role. It is not abnormal to see Hoffman in a tormented role, but it felt like there must have really been something there in the script or in the original story he read that made him connect or at least really care about this character. Needless to say, in the end, I expected a little more. It had its moments of deep emotion, its little nuances that pulled at your heart, but the story is simply too thin to justify its running time and Hoffmans Jack isn't enticing enough to sustain a full feature.

It is clear that as a director, Hoffman is interested in evoking the true emotions of his characters in certain moments onto the screen, presenting these raw, very time specific feelings not only through facial expressions but with the entire atmosphere and the position these people hold themselves in while their inner feelings are elsewhere. He gives the sections of the film strong indie background music and makes beautiful camera movements around the characters. It is nice and we truly do care about these people we are watching, but as I said before, these are moments, and only that. It isn't easy to touch on some of the things Hoffman is looking for and in that aspect he succeeds, but they are only a small part of a bigger picture and the bigger picture suffers. I would venture to say Hoffman would make a better music video director than a filmmaker. His greatest strength though is where his origins lie. Not only his own acting here, but being able to choose actors who can bring these middle of the road people to life and make us believe in them and their struggles. This never proves more true than when Amy Ryan is on screen. As Jacks love interest Connie, Ryan is completely adorable and the only character we really feel we could get to know and be comfortable around them. She is charming and brings a much needed balance to a film that is otherwise weighed down by too much push for trying to be artistic and care-free.

While only at a mere hour and a half, "Jack Goes Boating" still limps to its conclusion and we are able to see where it is going even if its climactic dinner scene is one of the finer examples of out right acting in a film of recent memory. The tone is there, happy with an underlying dimness, Hoffman gets the visuals, going between traditional set-ups and ones that involve us seeing the experiences through Jacks own point of view. Some shots are beautiful, others seem static. Much like the film itself. It is a movie of moments and no doubt a learning experience for this great actor. He gets a passing grade here, but no doubt has gained more knowledge than he ever expected that will apply to his next effort and make it everything a film by Philip Seymour Hoffman should be.


JACK GOES BOATING Review


This is a story of the human spirit. The difference here being the spirit of the human in question is an awkward, kind, happy yet self-secluded man named Jack. And he is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. In its trailers this looked to be a nice if not somewhat sappy love story about a man who normally feels like an outcast being given the chance to find love by an equally kind woman. It's credibility and the expectations coming along with it were no doubt heightened when I realized Mr. Hoffman was making his directorial debut with this as well as taking the lead role. It is not abnormal to see Hoffman in a tormented role, but it felt like there must have really been something there in the script or in the original story he read that made him connect or at least really care about this character. Needless to say, in the end, I expected a little more. It had its moments of deep emotion, its little nuances that pulled at your heart, but the story is simply too thin to justify its running time and Hoffmans Jack isn't enticing enough to sustain a full feature.

ANIMAL KINGDOM Review


"Animal Kingdom" is a slow boil. Its story, based simply around a small family of criminals and drug dealers initiating their younger nephew into the business and the ins and outs of what it takes to stay sane and keep up with in that type of business. I can hardly begin to describe this story without thinking about all the small details and nuances each character brings with them and why they are motivated to do the things that lead to one of the more moving crime dramas I've seen in recent years.

As J, newcomer James Frecheville, hardly says a word the entire script, yet remains the focus of this entire film. Opening with the death of his mother, he is forced to live with her estranged mother and brothers. He is forced into a world that he knows nothing of and that we never given the insight as to what drives him to want to be a part of this family. With such a subdued performance in the lead, the flamboyant one is not going to be too far behind. This comes courtesy of Jacki Weaver playing the matriarch like grandmother to J, the one who is truly in control. Weaver is like a trained hypnotist, reeling us in, making us marvel at her skill at manipulating these boys, these men to do her bidding. She is a smart momma, and not until a final moment between her and officer Leckie, played here by the always reliable Guy Pearce, do we question whether things won't go as she plans them to. It is a creepy, yet fully realized character that deserves more acclaim than it has received thus far.

The real accomplishment of this film though is being able to take such a genre picture and the plot that comes along with it and making it as intense as if we had never seen a cop drama in our lives. These feel more like finely constructed scenes than a large coherent film at times, but the small instances of building tension, waiting to see if the gun goes off or if it doesn't. Or the ones where the blast takes you completely by surprise. The ones where an act of violence is committed for no apparent reason, only to trigger the turning point in another character. It is simple, yet intricate. It is small yet complex. Most importantly though it is an interesting film with commanding performances, a true gem that I will tell people about long after writing this.


ANIMAL KINGDOM Review


"Animal Kingdom" is a slow boil. Its story, based simply around a small family of criminals and drug dealers initiating their younger nephew into the business and the ins and outs of what it takes to stay sane and keep up with in that type of business. I can hardly begin to describe this story without thinking about all the small details and nuances each character brings with them and why they are motivated to do the things that lead to one of the more moving crime dramas I've seen in recent years.

As J, newcomer James Frecheville, hardly says a word the entire script, yet remains the focus of this entire film. Opening with the death of his mother, he is forced to live with her estranged mother and brothers. He is forced into a world that he knows nothing of and that we never given the insight as to what drives him to want to be a part of this family. With such a subdued performance in the lead, the flamboyant one is not going to be too far behind. This comes courtesy of Jacki Weaver playing the matriarch like grandmother to J, the one who is truly in control. Weaver is like a trained hypnotist, reeling us in, making us marvel at her skill at manipulating these boys, these men to do her bidding. She is a smart momma, and not until a final moment between her and officer Leckie, played here by the always reliable Guy Pearce, do we question whether things won't go as she plans them to. It is a creepy, yet fully realized character that deserves more acclaim than it has received thus far.

PAPER MAN Review


"Paper Man" is a small yet highly qualified film. It is a purely indie film from the opening credit art and all the way through to its concluding line. It is insightful and funny yet dramatically moving at times. It certainly has its moments and though the story isn't as impactful their are four pretty special performances that allow this film to rise above what it might have been had it been left in lesser hands. In their directorial debuts, Kieran and Michele Mulroney, a husband and wife team, who yes, are kin to Durmont Mulroney seem to be unsure of which direction to take their own story in. The couple handle the documenting of these characters well, even if the story they have written for them isn't the most enduring nor does it warrant a nearly two-hour run time.

At the top of these performances is one by Jeff Daniels. It is nice, after a while of seeming to want to come off as such a serious actor that he returns to his good ole comedic self. As an author who is experiencing writers block Daniels plays his character as a bit of an eccentric, one who has issues with the ways his couch looks in its surroundings and how it makes him look when he sits on it. The biggest signifier that he is a little off though is the presence of Captain Excellent, a kind of conscious to our protagonist. And as played by man of the moment Ryan Reynolds, Captain Excellent is the best part of the film and no doubt the main idea that this film was founded on. Reynolds, who appears far less than he should offers the manic side of Daniels a good balance. As the story moves along our main character meets Abby, a young girl who seems to be the first human being to be genuinely interested in Daniels author, something sparks and a relationship develops. This relationship of course leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication, but it is the center of the story here and Emma stone matches Daniels point for point and turns in her most dramatic performance to date.

Kieran Culkin is as just a strong an asset to this story as any of his counter parts he is just in a less toted role. It seems though as the movie marches slowly towards its conclusion that we become more focused on the history of Abby and begin to lose focus on what the true focus, or more importantly, the significance of this story is. Instead of remaining on Daniels and his inner-struggle or on the relationship, we instead are dragged along on a story that should have concluded much sooner. We become enticed with these characters and we are entertained by the slice of life we are given, but its almost as if they overstay their welcome with the conclusion. We like them and the ideas they bring with them, but only to a certain extent. No more, no less.


PAPER MAN Review


"Paper Man" is a small yet highly qualified film. It is a purely indie film from the opening credit art and all the way through to its concluding line. It is insightful and funny yet dramatically moving at times. It certainly has its moments and though the story isn't as impactful their are four pretty special performances that allow this film to rise above what it might have been had it been left in lesser hands. In their directorial debuts, Kieran and Michele Mulroney, a husband and wife team, who yes, are kin to Durmont Mulroney seem to be unsure of which direction to take their own story in. The couple handle the documenting of these characters well, even if the story they have written for them isn't the most enduring nor does it warrant a nearly two-hour run time.

BURIED Review


How do you create all the scares? the tension? The drama of a full length feature and contain them to one location with one actor? I wasn't sure it could be done. And though I had heard very little about "Buried" besides its frustrating trailer that gave little to nothing away, I was intrigued and somewhat doubtful when I read the entire 90-minute film took place within the box. It does indeed though and it is consistently building that tension and somehow managing to create new and more circumstances for our main protagonist to deal with and push through. It is of a certain accomplishment this works as well as it does. To have pulled this off requires all the elements to come together in the most natural of ways and the majority of the time things ring true. It is believable, it never comes off contrived which is the biggest challenge you face on a film like this, and director Rodrigo Cortes and writer Chris Sparling deserve serious credit for building such a great thriller with such little resources.

And though the direction is interesting and the story holds itself up fine (though I do wish it would have been something different than a corporate corruption message) this would have never come off as credible nor as overall impressive if it weren't for the performance Ryan Reynolds gives. It is a showy role, if only by the situation itself. It is clear this was Reynolds looking for an opportunity to stretch his somewhat limited persona. His smart-assed demeanor only creeps in once and at just the right time. He is genuine, we understand every frustration he has. Early on he has to get over the fact that he is trapped and there isn't much he himself can do about it, he simply yells and moves around as much as his coffin will allow him too and from that point on we are stuck right there with him. Finding it hard to breathe, looking for ways we might escape. It is truly a nail-bighter down to the last moment and most of that isn't due to camera angles, music or any other element. This movies rock to stand upon is this one titular performance by Reynolds, and it is needless to say he nails it. If one has any pre-conceived notions of him or what they think his Paul Conroy character is here, drop them all at the door and immerse yourself underground with him. You won't be more thankful you are actually sitting in a comfortable chair when the credits begin to roll.

While I enjoyed this film immensely, there is only one thing keeping me from fully endorsing this film and that is my disappointment in the slowly revealed plot as to why Mr. Conroy is there in the first place. There are a few moments that may evoke questioning the logic, but what I am more upset about are the reasons he was put there eventually take a back seat to a bigger scam that makes his survival seem like less of a focus to the film. I am sure this happens all too often and the lengths people and companies go to to cover their own asses is sickening and quite frankly disturbing, but in the end that wasn't good enough to justify watching this man squirm and struggle to stay alive as long as he could. That he was kidnapped, taken for ransom and trying to bargain with his captors was an interesting way to begin, but in the end that story line hardly matters, it is the one where the people on the other end of the phone ask him irrelevant questions, wasting time when they could be tracking his signal and finding him. That their priorities are someplace else and not on saving a fellow man seems to show what a cynical world we do live in, but it just wasn't enough. It needed something more, a better underlying theme. I have no suggestions, but with everything that was great about this film I wish the backbone of the story could have made the film stand a bit taller.


BURIED Review


How do you create all the scares? the tension? The drama of a full length feature and contain them to one location with one actor? I wasn't sure it could be done. And though I had heard very little about "Buried" besides its frustrating trailer that gave little to nothing away, I was intrigued and somewhat doubtful when I read the entire 90-minute film took place within the box. It does indeed though and it is consistently building that tension and somehow managing to create new and more circumstances for our main protagonist to deal with and push through. It is of a certain accomplishment this works as well as it does. To have pulled this off requires all the elements to come together in the most natural of ways and the majority of the time things ring true. It is believable, it never comes off contrived which is the biggest challenge you face on a film like this, and director Rodrigo Cortes and writer Chris Sparling deserve serious credit for building such a great thriller with such little resources.

TAKERS Review


"Takers" is slick and precise. Cliched and calculated. That isn't to say it doesn't have entertainment value though. Despite being overstuffed with B-list celebrities and some A-list music stars, the acting isn't nearly as awful as it good have been, but it does take away from what is otherwise a fun bank-robbin, adventure film, here's lookin at you T.I. It is nice though, because no one in this film is really at the center, no one lingers on screen for more than a few moments at a time the cast is so massive and when it does tend to linger it is luckily on the most capable of the names here, either Mr. Idris Elba or Mr. Matt Dillon. The two anchor either side of this battle between the good and the bad guys and do so with a flair that hints they know exactly what kind of film they are in, with the same attitude the viewer should have as they watch the film: who cares? We're having a good time right?

So, let's talk about what exactly this film has going for it besides being completely predictable. The strongest factor here is that we truly are rooting for the bad guys the entire film. We get to know them well and even if we don't warm up to them all that much we see their connections and why they are a part of such a team and we do root for them. They live a lifestyle that is all black and shiny silvers and they do so from taking other peoples things, it is something to be applauded when you can make someone like that appealing much less an entire gang of them so lets give director John Luessenhop some props and lets move on to why "Takers" could have been so much better.

There are linings of a story trying to break free of the mold here. As head of this gang of criminals Idris Elba has a drug addicted sister. This does well in leading to one of the main reasons such a well organized team faces a demise in the end (Oh come on, you knew at least some of them were gonna have to face the music) as well as pulling on some heart strings and bringing more humanity to the otherwise cold world these guys live in. We also have a sub-plot concerning the criminally under-used Zoe Saldana and a love triangle between her, Michael Ealy and the newly released from prison T.I. (In the movie, at least). I think it would have been nice to have seen these avenues explored more, bringing more of a backstory as to why these guys do what they do. What brought them to this point. And they might have had them, after a few delays I feel alot was left on the cutting room floor seeing as we have a slim hour and a half film here. And in those edits this film became a movie not about depth, but about cops and robbers and cool fight scenes with nothing more to it. Though I must say the chase scene featuring Chris Brown seemed well-staged and nicely executed, it was easily the most thrilling moment of the film. And that's what "Takers" was all about, having a good time, right?


TAKERS Review


"Takers" is slick and precise. Cliched and calculated. That isn't to say it doesn't have entertainment value though. Despite being overstuffed with B-list celebrities and some A-list music stars, the acting isn't nearly as awful as it good have been, but it does take away from what is otherwise a fun bank-robbin, adventure film, here's lookin at you T.I. It is nice though, because no one in this film is really at the center, no one lingers on screen for more than a few moments at a time the cast is so massive and when it does tend to linger it is luckily on the most capable of the names here, either Mr. Idris Elba or Mr. Matt Dillon. The two anchor either side of this battle between the good and the bad guys and do so with a flair that hints they know exactly what kind of film they are in, with the same attitude the viewer should have as they watch the film: who cares? We're having a good time right?

STONE Review

"Stone" has a lot of ideas floating around in its head. It is essentially a small film, in scope only focusing on the relationships of four people. These relationships have always been strained, this is obvious from the opening sequence and the fact our other lead protagonist has been imprisoned for eight years. When these strained relations converge is where this film picks up and how they not only effect each other, but what they ultimately learn from and come to realize about life seems to be the message director John Curran was trying to get across in his very precisely shot, but slightly slow-paced film.

The two lead performances though rise above what the script decides is not the best route to go for the story. Where there is no clear resolution, no real epiphany that makes clear the struggles our characters have been dealing with, there is Mr. DeNiro and Mr. Norton, who for most of their time on screen are talking back and forth with one another, discussing not only Stone Creeson's (Norton) reasons for being in prison and why he deserves to be given a second chance, but why they have both come to these points in their lives. Norton completely embodies any character he takes on and as the corn-rowed, slang spitting Stone he is completely believable. From the first time we glimpse him on screen we don't necessarily see what might make him different than any other prisoner, yet as his story slowly unfolds we see Norton's magic work, we see him peeling back the layers and revealing a man who has much more going on in his mind then he will ever let on. His transformation from the man we first meet to the character at the end of the film is the real highlight of the movie, and if there was no other reason to see it, I would recommend it for Norton's performance alone.

Though DeNiro is playing a curmudgeonly old man who has grown tired of his life, his wife, his faith and his routine, we see a new spark of a man that has not been seen in his performances for a while. As great as he was in last years under-rated "Everybody's Fine" playing a sweet, humble family man, here he plays the complete opposite and he does so with much ferocity. We don't like DeNiro's Jack. We don't see where he is coming from or where his motivations are sprung from, but where the story lacks, DeNiro's facial expressions lead us to guess at what may have brought him to this point. Simply the way he stares blankly into his partners direction is reason enough to know something isn't right. This all leads to trouble when Stone's wife keeps attempting to contact Jack and his desire for something different gives into the promise of lust with a younger woman. Enter Milla Jovovich, who, up until this point has never really interested me as an actress. She excels here though, turning the at first delicate Lucetta into someone of a crazed loony by the time we reach the climax of the film. She is caught between these two males, trying her best to make one happy, while feeling something that veers closely to fresh with Jack that she doesn't seem to have wholly anticipated. It is an odd section of the film. We understand the reasons this is happening, the motivation for leading us into the thick of this plot and making us wonder how things will turn out, but for all the build-up, there is nothing that makes us feel this strange love triangle was really worth paying attention to.

As Jack's quiet and forgotten wife, Frances Conroy probably gives my favorite performance of the film. It is an almost dialogue free part, which only makes the fact that her handful of scenes are the most impactful even more impressive. As she sits, waiting on her husband to come home or lies in her bed reaching for the man who is no longer there all while inter-cut with the sin that Jack is out basking in bring a tragic and sympathetic tone to this woman. We feel sorry for her, we wonder why she has put up with it and the fact we were given a glimpse of the answer to that question only makes us wish even more that Jack didn't choose to live the way he did. That the religious overtones and the message they hammer home wouldn't remind us of what Jack is trying so hard to do away with. On that note, the film battles with this strong theme of faith. As Stone becomes closer with his beliefs, Jack strays from them even further. The real message of the film is never given loud and clear though and the overpowering tools used to try and convey it work more against it than for it. We never, as an audience, feel we truly understand what the film is trying to say to us. We have our opinions, but the point is unclear.

"Stone" with everything it is trying to say is at least a strong example of someone trying very hard to make a deep and complex film. On some levels, mainly the acting and the beauty of the photography, the film succeeds. I only wish its themes and ideas would have been made more clearly defined, I was really interested in what it had to say.


STONE Review

"Stone" has a lot of ideas floating around in its head. It is essentially a small film, in scope only focusing on the relationships of four people. These relationships have always been strained, this is obvious from the opening sequence and the fact our other lead protagonist has been imprisoned for eight years. When these strained relations converge is where this film picks up and how they not only effect each other, but what they ultimately learn from and come to realize about life seems to be the message director John Curran was trying to get across in his very precisely shot, but slightly slow-paced film.

THE GREEN HORNET Review

Everything about this film was strange from the first word we heard about it. The guys who wrote "Superbad" are going to write a superhero movie? Well, at least it will be different for the genre. That was all I could think. Sure, they were all odd choices, but it could be great, they were inventive, funny, nerdy guys who probably always aspired to make this kind of film but never in a million years believed they would have the opportunity. Seeing as they did, and despite mountains of doubt and delays their little superhero film has finally arrived and I'm sorry to say it doesn't pack nearly as much punch as it should.

First things first, it is important to note what Rogen and Goldberg are going for here. It isn't a straight up superhero/action flick via "Iron Man" or "X-Men", it is clearly more in the vein of say "Kick-Ass" but with less of a clear goal. It was as if they wanted to make that kind of film, but were unsure how to go about it. And so, it seems they resorted to what they knew best: buddy comedy, they simply added masks, a few fight scenes and stirred. This is what we have here, only under the supervision of Director Michel Gondry does this seem to offer any real originality or promise.

Gondry though, is not accustomed to big action film either, and though the pacing is awful (which is mostly the scripts fault) there are a few ideas here that make the film exciting and enjoyable. Rogen is a charming enough guy, but as with his writing, his acting is limited. Not until the final half hour or so do we see what could be a believable hero begin to emerge. Up until then we would not have been surprised had his Britt Reid wound up dead in one of his and Kato's many adventures. Kato, played now by Jay Chou is one of the few saviors of the film. Though his English is tough to decipher at times, the multi-talented Kato is the real reason for the title characters existence, and in that lies more conflict I wont even go into here. Yes, Reid is the financier, but he may as well just pay Kato to do his bidding, if anything Reid only mucks up things more as he tags along. Chou though is enticing to just the right degree, brilliant beyond belief, a master at martial arts and a mysterious backstory. He should be the true star of the film, just as his character should get top billing in the newspapers over the Hornet.

One of Gondry's little touches that make the film stand on its own and I wish it contained more of are the "Kato-vision" sequences. They are cleanly shot and choreographed and the visual of it pops off the screen even without the hindrance of the unnecessary 3-D conversion. If the film would have taken more steps like this, it may have fulfilled what I and no doubt many others could have seen this becoming. Instead we are stuck between a comedy and an action film. The film needs to commit and it just never does.

As far the story is concerned it is average crime lord and corruption involving Reid's father who owns a large newspaper and the criminally underused Christoph Waltz. In an opening sequence with a fun cameo by a former Rogen co-star we think we will be treated to an up to date villain much like Waltz played in his academy award winning role as Col. Hans Landa. Sadly, we only see him a few more times as the story options to make a DA more of a villain and more involved in the scandal the Green Hornet must clear. It is a plot line that wears thin too soon and wastes alot of good talent. Not only is Waltz cast aside, but Cameron Diaz shows up for a few scenes that she tries to breathe life into, but only end up demonstrating how much of a mess this film has really turned out to be. The same can be said for Tom Wilkinson and Edward James Olmos-where you think they may add credibly and prestige you instead receive campiness and parody is a way the makers didn't seem to intend at all.

I desperately wanted to like this, to believe in it and I wouldn't say don't go see it if you enjoy comic book or action films, it certainly has its moments, but it is nothing in comparison to what I feel this team of talent could have brought to the big screen and to the genre. I feel Mr. Rogen is hoping for a sequel but if the box office numbers provide them good enough reason, I hope they take the opportunity and improve upon this as much as I know they can. More sting, less forcing. Let it come naturally, simple as that.


THE GREEN HORNET Review

Everything about this film was strange from the first word we heard about it. The guys who wrote "Superbad" are going to write a superhero movie? Well, at least it will be different for the genre. That was all I could think. Sure, they were all odd choices, but it could be great, they were inventive, funny, nerdy guys who probably always aspired to make this kind of film but never in a million years believed they would have the opportunity. Seeing as they did, and despite mountains of doubt and delays their little superhero film has finally arrived and I'm sorry to say it doesn't pack nearly as much punch as it should.

First things first, it is important to note what Rogen and Goldberg are going for here. It isn't a straight up superhero/action flick via "Iron Man" or "X-Men", it is clearly more in the vein of say "Kick-Ass" but with less of a clear goal. It was as if they wanted to make that kind of film, but were unsure how to go about it. And so, it seems they resorted to what they knew best: buddy comedy, they simply added masks, a few fight scenes and stirred. This is what we have here, only under the supervision of Director Michel Gondry does this seem to offer any real originality or promise.

THE DILEMMA Review

Vince Vaughn has officially entered his safety zone. After three films in a row where he plays the middle-aged guy in a relationship crisis it is hard to think of him as the crazy young guy from "Old School" and "Dodgeball". It would be nice to see Vaughn attack some of the ridiculousness of past roles, but it doesn't look to be the direction he is heading in anytime soon. That being said, it may come as a surprise as the critics have generally been unkind to this film so far, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Vaughn and will stand up for him. This is easily his best film since "The Break-up" and he gives a solid performance as the honorable guy here. Come on people, cut him some slack, you can tell he throws himself into this one.

While the film co-stars Kevin James, this is clearly Vaughn's film. Which is a shame really, seeing as James is a gifted comic actor. His likability has not transferred well from TV to movies, and his turn as a somewhat workaholic stiff in this one doesn't help, but for the first time he does seem to be playing a real person. James' Nick is a multi-dimensional character who's shoulders the films climax rests upon.They advertised it as a buddy comedy, but let it not lead you on. This is a film about people trying to decide their place among each other. From the previews, you clearly know the premise, but director Ron Howard and writer Allan Loeb, who also wrote last years under appreciated and decidedly different rom-com "The Switch", take this in some different directions than you may expect. What I enjoyed about the film and what made it better than the average romantic comedy or buddy film is that it simply included more layers. There is a history between everyone and with each individual that fuels their thoughts on the current predicament. There is never any hard reason given for why troubles began between Nick and Geneva, and we are given but slight glimpses into Ronny's past gambling addictions. If anything, it is refreshing to at least see someone trying something a little different, mixing up the pot.

The film comes from a prestigious set of people. It isn't often you find Ron Howard doing a comedy, and to assemble a cast of mismatched Hollywood comedians and two credible actresses such as Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly only ups the expectations. Queen Latifah drops in sporadically to add laughs to the boys business side of the film and even Channing Tatum is tolerable in a few scenes, though he mostly seems to be trying to channel James Franco is "Pineapple Express".

In the end though, this is Vaughn's film and he certainly makes the most out of it. He makes the dilemma feel real, that it is truly tearing him apart inside and that he only wants what is best for his friend and the others around him. It is charming to see Vaughn in a ole that requires him not to be the ego-centric, fast-talking jerk, but instead the guy who is trying to do what he thinks is best and uses his persuasive talking skills to get through them. Vaughn is Vaughn, he doesn't try to become a different person or character. People may complain that he only does the same thing over and over, but if he were to drop that persona, they would no doubt dub it a bad call. What is a Vince Vaughn movie without Vince Vaughn? My reasoning can only be re-enforced by the scene in which Vaughn toasts his soon to be in-laws at their 40th anniversary party. It is a classic scene, and in a crowded theater you can hear people awkwardly laughing before letting it roll out completely. It is Vaughn at what he does best and though this is his highlight in "The Dilemma" he has more than a few moments.

What is disappointing about the movie is that, with all the talent attached to it, it simply should have exceeded the standard expectations much more than it did. I would have liked to have seen Vaughn and James in more scenes together, saying more funny things together, making us laugh more. That is how I was drawn in, and on that end, I was let down. It was presented as a broad comedy and it wasn't nearly as consistently funny as I would have hoped it to be. It deserved better jokes, though I must say Vaughn takes some serious beatings throughout the film and so at least the physical comedy was strong, especially the staged fight between Vaughn and Tatum at night.

"The Dilemma" is a fine example of a comedic drama almost. It is not what we expected and it cuts deeper than I ever thought it would, but as the credits rolled you couldn't help but feel a little underwhelmed. Not because of the performances, they deserve better than the audiences assumptions will allow. I expected better from Howard, more effort, more originality. It will do, it was better than expected, but nowhere near as great as it could have been.


THE DILEMMA Review

Vince Vaughn has officially entered his safety zone. After three films in a row where he plays the middle-aged guy in a relationship crisis it is hard to think of him as the crazy young guy from "Old School" and "Dodgeball". It would be nice to see Vaughn attack some of the ridiculousness of past roles, but it doesn't look to be the direction he is heading in anytime soon. That being said, it may come as a surprise as the critics have generally been unkind to this film so far, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Vaughn and will stand up for him. This is easily his best film since "The Break-up" and he gives a solid performance as the honorable guy here. Come on people, cut him some slack, you can tell he throws himself into this one.

HOWL Review

I had no previous knowledge of either Ginsberg or his poem before watching 'HOWL'. Given this little movie was given a big boast by the names attached to it I was rather interested what attracted them to it and why what seemed to be an Oscar-bait type film had not garnered much attention. To address that directly would be to tell you what the film does. We are told before the movie begins this is very much like a documentary, that every word spoken in the film was spoken by these real people. It is an interesting concept intertwining interviews, a trial concerning the poems obscenity and flashbacks to Ginsberg reading his work. The three flow together seamlessly, each building from one another, the reasons for certain things being explained, the causes for thought processes and the justification for being artsy all collides in a concise tale concerning the literary world.

In the title role of Ginsberg we have the current man of the moment, James Franco. He plays Ginsburg as a high intellectual with a flair for absurd humor. We can see Franco's own persona seep through at times, but as I am not familiar with the real life Ginsburg I found this to be rather comforting. And though I can see Franco here, knowing who he is as an actor this is no doubt as close to a representation of the true Ginsburg as he could give us. He is an interesting person, and though the film focuses more on his work and the trouble it created than the man himself, it is in the moments when we actually get to listen to Franco spout Ginsburgs musings that the film really shines.

Sure, the trial is interesting, and I highly doubt you could find two better actors than Jon Hamm and David Strathairn to portray the lawyers fighting for and against this poem. Both are given some pretty meaty dialogue, especially in their closing statements that really make the purpose not only of this film known, but they research and conclude a fair assessment on the world of art. I found Hamm's final speech to be very powerful stuff. And though I am someone who finds all different kinds of things interesting I would never call myself an artsy type person. That is where I have to figure out the line between real art and simple vulgarity or being shocking for shocks sake. I find this an interesting topic and so the conflict in the courtroom only heightened the introspective looks into Ginsbergs mind through the small clips of interviews I mentioned earlier. There is a difference between being odd and being clever. Ginsburgs poem was certainly taken both ways. I can in no way judge the poem for I have no context for it and did not get a clear, one-through reading of it. Instead I was treated to Franco reading it to to the images his words provoked through animation.

The animation was nicely done and looked similar to the sequence David Yates used in the latest "Harry Potter" film. I found it certainly an interesting way to convey the point of these very abstract words that were put together, but it didn't flow with the rest of the movie as well as I would have hoped. Overall still, I found the film to be nothing short of interesting. An odd, probably common tale of a homosexual poet trying to let his voice be heard, but interesting non the less. and 'HOWL' has certainly made some type of impact on the literary world or I would not be writing or thinking about it now. I will not let that fact slip my mind, I realize the importance of the work, even if the controversy around it made it a bigger deal than it ever should have been.


HOWL Review

I had no previous knowledge of either Ginsberg or his poem before watching 'HOWL'. Given this little movie was given a big boast by the names attached to it I was rather interested what attracted them to it and why what seemed to be an Oscar-bait type film had not garnered much attention. To address that directly would be to tell you what the film does. We are told before the movie begins this is very much like a documentary, that every word spoken in the film was spoken by these real people. It is an interesting concept intertwining interviews, a trial concerning the poems obscenity and flashbacks to Ginsberg reading his work. The three flow together seamlessly, each building from one another, the reasons for certain things being explained, the causes for thought processes and the justification for being artsy all collides in a concise tale concerning the literary world.

What I Can't Wait to See in 2011

10. SUCKER PUNCH


In theaters: March 25, 2011


Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jon Hamm, Jenna Malone, Carla Gugino, Jamie Chung

My Thoughts:  A band of girls trying to escape their psychiatric institution by venturing into a fantasy world of dragons, armies, big guns and musical numbers is the backdrop for Snyder's latest visual wonder. We'll see if this substance holds up better than the thin "300" narrative and the overly-stuffed "Watchmen".

9. WAR HORSE


In theaters: Dec. 28, 2011


Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson

My Thoughts: I'm a sucker for certain directors and this is only the first of two examples on this list. Spielberg returns to the Oscar game in this WWI set epic about a boy trying to save his horse from the frontline. Though this isn't coming out until the end of 2011 I am anxious to see what Spielberg has up his sleeve, moreso with this than his other directorial effort this year, "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn".

8. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS



In theaters: June 3, 2011

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, Oliver Platt

My Thoughts: Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kick-Ass) takes over the mutant universe with a 60's inspired take on the origin of Charles Xavier's X-Men and his relationship with Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto. I loved the Bryan Singer installments of the "X-Men" series and lets not forget they began this whole comic book craze and the casting for this seems interesting. I hold out great hope for this.


7. YOUR HIGHNESS


In theaters: April 8, 2011


Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, James Franco, Danny McBride, Damian Lewis, Justin Theroux, Toby Jones

My Thoughts: This may be the breakout lead Danny McBride has deserved for quite some time now. Teaming up again with "Pineapple Express" director David Gordon Green and co-star James Franco isn't a bad way to go.

6. SOURCE CODE


In theatres: April 1, 2011

Director: Duncan Jones

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

My Thoughts: Jones' follow-up to his impressive debut "Moon" looks to be a sci-fi nerds dream as it follows Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier who’s sent into the body of a civilian aboard a train in the last eight minutes of his life and forced to relive the incident over and over again until he can find out who is responsible for its bombing and how to prevent the next terrorist attack from occurring. Sounds amazing to me.

5. THOR & CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

My Thoughts: I am basically lumping these two together because they together form the stepping stones to 2012's "The Avengers". I am equally excited to see both though maybe Captain America a little more. I have seen enough footage and have enough trust in Branagh to know that Thor will turn out well enough. Johnston on the other hand makes me nervous. He has plenty of good credits to his name but his last effort (The Wolfman) was pretty horrible. The casting of Chris Evans is somewhat nerve-wracking as well. Here's hoping for the best in both of them.


In theaters: May 6, 2011


Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg







In theaters: July 22, 2011


Director: Joe Johnston

Cast: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell








4. HUGO CABRET

In theaters: Dec. 9, 2011


Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Chloe Moretz, Jude Law, Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley

My Thoughts: My second film on the list that I know very little about but am anxious to see it simply because of its director. "Hugo Cabret" is about a young orphan who  attempts to solve a mystery his father has left for him throughout the City of Lights. This is Scorsese's first 3-D film and it is based on the works of Georges Méliès. I'm not sure what all this will add up to but I am certainly intrigued.

3. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO


In theatres: December 11, 2011

Director: David Fincher
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer

My Thoughts: I haven't read any of the books, but I have seen the Swedish films and absolutely loved this first film in the Millennium trilogy. Though it will be hard for this film to replace the special place in my heart I hold for the original, if anyone can do it it would be Mr. David Fincher. Hot off the trails of "The Social Network" and with a great cast lined up I am very excited to see what he brings to this grand murder mystery tale.

2. THE HANGOVER 2


In theatres: May 26, 2011

Director: Todd Phillips


Cast: Zach Galifinakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha

My Thoughts: For me, there is a ton of pressure riding on this film. I absolutely love the first one and consider it to be a comedy classic for my generation. It will be the one comedy every guy in my age group will cite as their favorite when we are our fathers age. Let's hope they don't go and mess it up with this sequel.

1. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART II



In theaters: July 15, 2011


Director: David Yates

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes

My Thoughts: There is no bigger film this year. Simple as that. The final chapter in what has been the series that defined mine and countless others adolescent phase comes to an end. I don't usually cry at movies, but I just might make an exception.



MORE I'M ANXIOUS FOR: Super 8 (6-10), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (5-20), The Tree of Life (5-27), Water for Elephants (4-22), Transformers: The Dark of the Moon (7-1), Rango (3-4), Sherlock Holmes 2 (12-16), Cowboys & Aliens (7-29), Moneyball (9-23), Wanderlust (10-7), The Green Lantern (6-17), Hall Pass (2-25), Battle Los Angeles (3-11), Larry Crowe (7-1), Horrible Bosses (TBD).

What I Can't Wait to See in 2011

10. SUCKER PUNCH


In theaters: March 25, 2011


Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jon Hamm, Jenna Malone, Carla Gugino, Jamie Chung

My Thoughts:  A band of girls trying to escape their psychiatric institution by venturing into a fantasy world of dragons, armies, big guns and musical numbers is the backdrop for Snyder's latest visual wonder. We'll see if this substance holds up better than the thin "300" narrative and the overly-stuffed "Watchmen".

9. WAR HORSE


In theaters: Dec. 28, 2011


Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson

My Thoughts: I'm a sucker for certain directors and this is only the first of two examples on this list. Spielberg returns to the Oscar game in this WWI set epic about a boy trying to save his horse from the frontline. Though this isn't coming out until the end of 2011 I am anxious to see what Spielberg has up his sleeve, moreso with this than his other directorial effort this year, "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn".

8. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS



In theaters: June 3, 2011

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, Oliver Platt

My Thoughts: Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kick-Ass) takes over the mutant universe with a 60's inspired take on the origin of Charles Xavier's X-Men and his relationship with Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto. I loved the Bryan Singer installments of the "X-Men" series and lets not forget they began this whole comic book craze and the casting for this seems interesting. I hold out great hope for this.


7. YOUR HIGHNESS


In theaters: April 8, 2011


Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, James Franco, Danny McBride, Damian Lewis, Justin Theroux, Toby Jones

My Thoughts: This may be the breakout lead Danny McBride has deserved for quite some time now. Teaming up again with "Pineapple Express" director David Gordon Green and co-star James Franco isn't a bad way to go.

6. SOURCE CODE


In theatres: April 1, 2011

Director: Duncan Jones

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

My Thoughts: Jones' follow-up to his impressive debut "Moon" looks to be a sci-fi nerds dream as it follows Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier who’s sent into the body of a civilian aboard a train in the last eight minutes of his life and forced to relive the incident over and over again until he can find out who is responsible for its bombing and how to prevent the next terrorist attack from occurring. Sounds amazing to me.

5. THOR & CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

My Thoughts: I am basically lumping these two together because they together form the stepping stones to 2012's "The Avengers". I am equally excited to see both though maybe Captain America a little more. I have seen enough footage and have enough trust in Branagh to know that Thor will turn out well enough. Johnston on the other hand makes me nervous. He has plenty of good credits to his name but his last effort (The Wolfman) was pretty horrible. The casting of Chris Evans is somewhat nerve-wracking as well. Here's hoping for the best in both of them.


In theaters: May 6, 2011


Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg







In theaters: July 22, 2011


Director: Joe Johnston

Cast: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell








4. HUGO CABRET

In theaters: Dec. 9, 2011


Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Chloe Moretz, Jude Law, Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley

My Thoughts: My second film on the list that I know very little about but am anxious to see it simply because of its director. "Hugo Cabret" is about a young orphan who  attempts to solve a mystery his father has left for him throughout the City of Lights. This is Scorsese's first 3-D film and it is based on the works of Georges Méliès. I'm not sure what all this will add up to but I am certainly intrigued.

3. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO


In theatres: December 11, 2011

Director: David Fincher
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer

My Thoughts: I haven't read any of the books, but I have seen the Swedish films and absolutely loved this first film in the Millennium trilogy. Though it will be hard for this film to replace the special place in my heart I hold for the original, if anyone can do it it would be Mr. David Fincher. Hot off the trails of "The Social Network" and with a great cast lined up I am very excited to see what he brings to this grand murder mystery tale.

2. THE HANGOVER 2


In theatres: May 26, 2011

Director: Todd Phillips


Cast: Zach Galifinakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha

My Thoughts: For me, there is a ton of pressure riding on this film. I absolutely love the first one and consider it to be a comedy classic for my generation. It will be the one comedy every guy in my age group will cite as their favorite when we are our fathers age. Let's hope they don't go and mess it up with this sequel.

1. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART II



In theaters: July 15, 2011


Director: David Yates

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes

My Thoughts: There is no bigger film this year. Simple as that. The final chapter in what has been the series that defined mine and countless others adolescent phase comes to an end. I don't usually cry at movies, but I just might make an exception.



MORE I'M ANXIOUS FOR: Super 8 (6-10), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (5-20), The Tree of Life (5-27), Water for Elephants (4-22), Transformers: The Dark of the Moon (7-1), Rango (3-4), Sherlock Holmes 2 (12-16), Cowboys & Aliens (7-29), Moneyball (9-23), Wanderlust (10-7), The Green Lantern (6-17), Hall Pass (2-25), Battle Los Angeles (3-11), Larry Crowe (7-1), Horrible Bosses (TBD).