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.

HALL PASS Review

I have never been the biggest fan of the Farrelly brothers and their distinct brand of pure gross out humor, but I have enjoyed enough of their work to know what to expect from a raunchy R-rated flick like "Hall Pass". It also doesn't hurt that they seem to like working with members of my favorite comedy troupe. After success with Ben Stiller and Jack Black it is nice to see the Farrelly's team up with Owen Wilson and give "SNL" player Jason Sudeikis a major role. Wilson returns to the raunchy material that his surfer drawl is best suited to, but uses this film as a stepping stone into a more mature role than the ones he played in movies like "Wedding Crashers". All of this led me to have great expectations for the film and though it isn't as consistently funny all the way through it's nearly two-hour run time, it has some big laugh out loud moments and weighs it's raunch out with some enough sentimental moments to easily recommend it.


I always enjoy a high concept comedy and "Hall Pass" is exactly that. Taking the idea of the ongoing battle between men and women and putting it on front street so that something is forced to be done is nothing if not engaging. The fact that the women in the film result to giving their husbands a free week to do whatever they please, to let them go and get out of their system what they seem to be missing out on by being married to them, is a great set-up, my only worry was that the movie wouldn't be able to deliver on that premise. And the verdict? It does, well, most of the time. Wilson and Sudeikis make an good comedic pair, Sudeikis playing Fred, an insurance salesman who thinks he gets away with checking other girls out without his wife (Christina Applegate) noticing and Wilson as Rick, a family man that from the beginning we know loves his wife and children too much to learn any hard lessons from his week off. What he does learn may come as a surprise though. You expect the Farrelly's to ditch the sentimental crap and go all out with the vulgarity and farcical elements of their story. In some sense you expected them to kind of slander marriage and tell you that it really is better to be single and free to do whatever you please, instead we are served a story of what is sex without love? What is life without meaningful relationships? It's nice to see the directors go for this, and though it isn't up to Apatow standards yet, they're getting better at it.

What I found most intriguing and funny about the film though is they guys whole mind set on everything. It is as if they know how out of the loop they are when it comes to picking up ladies these days, yet they still try and they do fail horribly. But that is of course what makes this so much fun to watch and in that is where the film really capitalizes on its humor. From watching Rick and Fred go to Applebee's as a hotspot to hook up or eat brownies with a special ingredient only leading to a round of unforgettable golf, the film does in fact follow through on how big of goobers they make these guys out to be from the beginning. Because, let's face it, being married to women who look like Applegate and Jenna Fischer is nothing to complain about (it is also a nice touch that their wives get prettier as the film progresses) and it is nice to see the women be challenged as well, that this wasn't only a test of marriage for the men, but for the other half of these relationships as well.

Though the film may never reach the mature level it seems to be reaching for in its last fifteen or so minutes, it still contains enough laughs and good comedic performances to be one of the comedy highlights so far this year (again, not that this is saying much seeing as we are at the end of February) but none the less, it deserves a passing grade. Let's hope this only leads to more starring roles for Sudeikis who plays the square/doucher stereotype to a T as well as letting comedy directors know to cast Richard Jenkins in more stuff. After this and "Step Brothers" I'm convinced I want to see this guy in everything. We all know he can do drama and is an incredible character actor, but the guy is also funny as hell and in his too brief role here, he steals every scene. Hey. Farrelly brothers, want to really return to your "Something About Mary" glory days? Then cast Jenkins in the lead for your next film.


HALL PASS Review

I have never been the biggest fan of the Farrelly brothers and their distinct brand of pure gross out humor, but I have enjoyed enough of their work to know what to expect from a raunchy R-rated flick like "Hall Pass". It also doesn't hurt that they seem to like working with members of my favorite comedy troupe. After success with Ben Stiller and Jack Black it is nice to see the Farrelly's team up with Owen Wilson and give "SNL" player Jason Sudeikis a major role. Wilson returns to the raunchy material that his surfer drawl is best suited to, but uses this film as a stepping stone into a more mature role than the ones he played in movies like "Wedding Crashers". All of this led me to have great expectations for the film and though it isn't as consistently funny all the way through it's nearly two-hour run time, it has some big laugh out loud moments and weighs it's raunch out with some enough sentimental moments to easily recommend it.

DRIVE ANGRY Review

Hollywood is having a love affair with "B-movie" type "exploitation" films that have been making a slow comeback in recent years. "Drive Angry" looks like something that should have been made by Tarantino or Rodriguez. It is a film that should have had a trailer in between their double feature a few years ago and I probably would have been waiting in anticipation ever since. "Drive Angry" is a full on campy action flick, filled with obscene amounts of bad language, sex, blood, and cliched musical cues. And in all that it is nothing if not fun. It means no harm and will be forgotten in a few short weeks. It doesn't re-define the genre and certainly doesn't break new ground in any areas. It is, in the purest form, a homage to movies that are so bad they are good. So outrageously ridiculous that you can't help but love them.

What "Drive Angry" does add in relevance to the cinematic world though is that fact that although Nicolas Cage may be the worst actor working in Hollywood right now, he knows how he is perceived. And with roles like this and in last year's "Kick-Ass" he is carving out a niche that seems to suit him best. And while i don't want to make this review an analysis of Cage's career and film choices, it is very relevant to the kind of film this wants to be that the audience understand the persona Cage has created for himself. He makes bad movies, there is no doubt about that and he is able to use that status to play up the role of Milton here. A bad ass dude who has escaped from hell to avenge the death of his daughter and save her baby from a Satan worshipping cult leader who plan to sacrifice her so hell can take over earth. And on that note, you can hopefully understand why Cage was the perfect guy for the lead role here and why a movie like this is only the beginning of not only a new series of movies but of a strong genre that is making a comeback.

What I actually liked about this film though is that it did in fact get better as it went along. Though the set-up was great, taking advantage of every open moment to insert a cheesy line followed by a cuss word or unnecessary nudity, it isn't until the movie turns into a man on the road revenge film that it seems to find its groove and really get rolling. Director Patrick Lussier is smart in choosing great, but not as widely known actors like William Fichtner and Billy Burke in roles that they can really create strong persona's in and really dig into and relish while playing it up to the biggest type of camp they want. As the devils accountant Fichtner is probably the best part of the film and as Cage's assistant Amber Heard does her best acting to date. She is usually nothing more than a pretty face, but here that not only serves as part of her appeal but she also is able to kick enough butt and come off as a good balance to Cage's insane and over the top acting.

What more is there to say about a film that includes "Shot in 3D" in its title? It isn't a movie that will be nominated for any awards or even make a huge impression beyond its opening weekend (if that even) but it is a good time and if you know what you are getting yourself into go ahead and see it, but if you'd rather not watch slop for entertainments sake and acting that isn't an expression of camp, but more one of art than go down to a theater where one of the Oscar nominated films are still playing. You aren't missing much other than a fun ride. no pun intended.

DRIVE ANGRY Review

Hollywood is having a love affair with "B-movie" type "exploitation" films that have been making a slow comeback in recent years. "Drive Angry" looks like something that should have been made by Tarantino or Rodriguez. It is a film that should have had a trailer in between their double feature a few years ago and I probably would have been waiting in anticipation ever since. "Drive Angry" is a full on campy action flick, filled with obscene amounts of bad language, sex, blood, and cliched musical cues. And in all that it is nothing if not fun. It means no harm and will be forgotten in a few short weeks. It doesn't re-define the genre and certainly doesn't break new ground in any areas. It is, in the purest form, a homage to movies that are so bad they are good. So outrageously ridiculous that you can't help but love them.

GET LOW Review

While the concept of having a funeral party for a man who is not yet dead may be just the right hook one needs to get an audience interested in their film, that is not really what "Get Low" is about. What we are really watching here is a sweet yet very sad story about redemption and regret. The entire film hinges on the history of its central character, Felix Bush. As played by Robert Duvall, Felix is a man who has hid from the world trying most likely not to forget what happened to him and what he had done, but instead trying to live and deal with it the best he knew how. Maybe the only way he knew how. "Get Low" is a southern myth type story and it is a fine film, one that certainly deserved more attention from the award season and one that is to be applauded for not playing to any of the major trends that are a constant in mainstream films at the moment.

With three incredibly strong performances from veteran actors and an even more surprising quiet yet strong supporting show from Lucas Black, each of these elements elevates an already interesting story and allows the pitch perfect tone of the film to remain from beginning to end, not letting the audience go. First time director Aaron Schneider captures the beautiful landscapes and barren colors of the old south, making the entire film look like an old photograph from that time period. There is just something about period pieces that are set in the south that attract me. I find no matter the story, the context in itself is so interesting I am drawn to them. This not only made me find "Get Low" extremely touching and a tad odd, but the idea of an old hermit coming to terms with the fact his life will soon to be over and the overwhelming sense of regret that won't let him go peacefully is just extremely powerful.

The film is a quick hour and forty minutes, but as I said earlier it hinges on the mysterious history of Duvall's Felix and it is in this I found the only slight disappointment with the film. we watch and wait to see what is the reason for everything Felix has been orchestrating, we wonder what could move a man to cut himself off from th world for so long and even though we feel the pain and understand his heartache as Duvall delivers his final speech at his own funeral party, we, or at least I, couldn't help but wonder if that's all there was to the story. Yes, it is no doubt a tragedy and caused ever-lasting regret to plague his life, but it just doesn't feel as strong as it should have. The execution by Duvall is just right and the set-up is more than it deserved. It didn't make me like the movie any less, I still think it is a gorgeous movie and a very moving story, but after everything we go through with Felix, it simply feels as if we come up a little empty-handed.

I hate to speak a bad word of this film though because it does do so much right. From Duvall's amazing showmanship as Felix to the excellent Bill Murray that allows this film to flow flawlessly back from drama to comedy. Murray in fact nearly steals the film away from our main character, but Duvall inhabits this guy so well, it is hard to take your eyes off him. The two working together is a dream and when I say the award season missed out on this one I think Murray deserved a best supporting nom just as much as anyone else. And then we have Sissy Spacek, who brings such a pleasant aura it is as if she came straight out of the time period in which this is based. She lends such an elegant hand to an otherwise tangled tale. She brings light to the darkness of Bush's past and she shows him hope, she gives him reason to do what it has taken him thirty something years to build up the courage for. This is truly a great film, one I wish I would have seen before its DVD release, but this deserves more than a rental, it deserves to be passed on.


GET LOW Review

While the concept of having a funeral party for a man who is not yet dead may be just the right hook one needs to get an audience interested in their film, that is not really what "Get Low" is about. What we are really watching here is a sweet yet very sad story about redemption and regret. The entire film hinges on the history of its central character, Felix Bush. As played by Robert Duvall, Felix is a man who has hid from the world trying most likely not to forget what happened to him and what he had done, but instead trying to live and deal with it the best he knew how. Maybe the only way he knew how. "Get Low" is a southern myth type story and it is a fine film, one that certainly deserved more attention from the award season and one that is to be applauded for not playing to any of the major trends that are a constant in mainstream films at the moment.

UNKNOWN Review

Though we have seen Liam Neeson march around a foreign country piecing together clues that lead him to do some serious butt-kicking it is still hard to not see "Unknown" as an entertaining and pretty intelligent thrill ride. Though you will probably figure out the big secret of the whole thing about half way through the film (I did, and I'm not the brightest person) it is at least intriguing to watch such a magnetic actor like Neeson go through the trials being in Berlin with no form of identification and claiming to be a man that seems to already exist. If you have seen the trailer you know this has been marketed to look like Neeson's 2009 hit "Taken" but you will be no doubt disappointed if you go into this film expecting as much action and as many thrills. The story is deeper here and Neeson is in top form, but compared to what we were expecting it all just feels a little bland.


And with fair warning, know going into "Unknown" that it may not be the sequel to "Taken" that you wanted, but instead be thankful that it isn't a carbon copy of that film and take it for what it really has going for it. What does it have going for it exactly? You may ask, well it certainly does boast an impressive cast and the performances rise above the sagging story of the second act. Not only do we have Neeson, who by the way he carries himself and the intelligence he exudes automatically make the film more credible, but we also have a wonderful Bruno Ganz as an ex-spy who decides to help Neesons character in discovering exactly what is going on in his life. Ganz's performance is quiet and when he comes face to face with Frank Langella it is nothing short of the films most powerful scene. And yes, "Unknown" also has Langella in a small, but intriguing role. Langella, like Neeson, simply elevates any material that he takes on. The weakest links character-wise come in the form of the two female leads. I have only watched a few episodes of "Mad Men" but I can easily tell January Jones deserves better roles than this. Jones, as Neeson's wife is under-used and awkward to the point we never buy into their relationship in the first place. We know something is up, and whether this is intentional or not, it would have simply been better to make us believe the opposite. We should suspect nothing when we see them together in the films opening moments. Diane Kruger, on the other hand is an actress I have always wanted to like, but something seems to hold me back. Here, she serves as a kind of side-kick and though her story feels a little tacked on and ultimately unnecessary as an actress Kruger serves the part well and brings in some real sympathy to an otherwise cold tale.

It is a fact that more often than not a great idea, an intriguing premise is just that. It is easy to intrigue an audience, pull them into the world, but to deliver a conclusion that satisfies and fulfills the expectations that original premise promised us is something of a different story. That is exactly how I feel about "Unknown". For the forty-five minutes we are on the edge of our seat, lost as to what is really going on, wondering who Neeson really is and how he will ever be able to find out the truth. We want him to, we need to know as bad as he does. In that time the film is nicely paced and the story builds as it should, giving us small hints without indicating a direction the story may fall into. It is inspiring, and then we get a clue and we are afraid that where it is heading is what we are already predicting. Is it not too much to ask to challenge us every so often? To find an action film that not only entertains but makes us put the pieces together ourselves? "Unknown" does this for a moment, but eventually falls into the trappings of every other B-movie that might have a February release date. And though this is a serious complaint and one Hollywood should soon address, but at least it was entertaining. It served its purpose, too bad the unknown wasn't more unique than what you could probably guess it is from simply viewing the trailer.


UNKNOWN Review

Though we have seen Liam Neeson march around a foreign country piecing together clues that lead him to do some serious butt-kicking it is still hard to not see "Unknown" as an entertaining and pretty intelligent thrill ride. Though you will probably figure out the big secret of the whole thing about half way through the film (I did, and I'm not the brightest person) it is at least intriguing to watch such a magnetic actor like Neeson go through the trials being in Berlin with no form of identification and claiming to be a man that seems to already exist. If you have seen the trailer you know this has been marketed to look like Neeson's 2009 hit "Taken" but you will be no doubt disappointed if you go into this film expecting as much action and as many thrills. The story is deeper here and Neeson is in top form, but compared to what we were expecting it all just feels a little bland.

WAITING FOR SUPERMAN Review

It is something of a difficult line for me to walk when discussing documentaries. I am never anxious to see them, but once I do begin watching them, it is hard for me to peel my eyes away. A good documentary, given its challenges when placed against the type of film we have been conditioned to watch, is like reading an interesting news story. It is like watching a "48 Hours" or something along those lines. Taking real events, cold hard facts and forming them into a kind of linear story that could easily be looked at as the films plot. And while "Waiting for Superman" may not have stayed so close to the formula of making a documentary more like a feature film, its topic of discussion is so intriguing and so relevant in most peoples lives, it debates are hard to ignore.

And while anyone who has any idea how bad the state of the education system is right now, they may not know why or what we can do to begin correcting those problems. We have some serious issues and while this is the films strongest statement, what we are really looking into here is what is the root cause of this gigantic debacle. That while people can blame it on the students and the environment, but what the research proves is that a child does not go from being a 'B' student in the fourth grade to being a 'D' student in the sixth because they simply aren't trying. Something is off and a big part of that problem is teachers who don't care. How this documentary operates is following four individuals along a path of trying to further their education in schools where only so many spaces are available rather than moving onto what are known as "Drop-out factories". This is where we find the heart of the movie, this is how director Davis Guggenheim shows us this is not a problem we can easily forget. This is an issue that is effecting the children that will create our future world. How such simple desires are the most difficult things to accomplish.

While following these four children Guggenheim also stops by to take a look at the worst district in the country that also happens to be in Washington DC. And how a strong-willed super-intendent has even lost her faith in that she can possibly change things. That she can make them better. What do you do when a school fails your child? It is a hard question to ask and an even harder one to try to answer honestly. That teachers are given tenure after two years and can basically do whatever they want and not get fired makes no sense. That they are not paid due to the performance of their students. It is a seemingly simple aspect to resolve, but one that is made difficult by the selfish adults in the situation who care little about the true focus of education: the children. What is even worse is to get so aggravated at what seems like problems that could be solved with such common sense resolutions, yet everything is to diplomatic to be resolved the way it should. Guggenheim proposes an easy solution to an ever expanding problem, but his proof of what must be done doesn't even assure us we can change things. "Waiting for Superman" isn't necessarily an eye-opening experience but it is a call to duty and one that none the less, pulls at your heart strings. It is an intriguing film, but tragic in that it is all too real.


WAITING FOR SUPERMAN Review

It is something of a difficult line for me to walk when discussing documentaries. I am never anxious to see them, but once I do begin watching them, it is hard for me to peel my eyes away. A good documentary, given its challenges when placed against the type of film we have been conditioned to watch, is like reading an interesting news story. It is like watching a "48 Hours" or something along those lines. Taking real events, cold hard facts and forming them into a kind of linear story that could easily be looked at as the films plot. And while "Waiting for Superman" may not have stayed so close to the formula of making a documentary more like a feature film, its topic of discussion is so intriguing and so relevant in most peoples lives, it debates are hard to ignore.

JUST GO WITH IT Review

It became somewhat evident with last summers "Grown Ups" that audiences were growing more and more tired with Sandlers usual shtick. The guy puts little effort into his quick and dismissible films and he knows it, but he is reliable. It is almost a guarantee the opening weekend of a Sandler film will hit 30 million. He is box office gold and in all honesty his movies are harmless, so why is such a backlash beginning to grow against him? At least within the realm of cinephiles it seems to be because we know he is capable of so much more. In his "Happy Madison" productions, no matter what his name is, he is essentially playing Adam Sandler. At least he has as of late. But when you have made films that venture out of that comfort zone, and you have shown you are capable of more than repetitive, immature jokes, people are going to expect more. Sandler seems to want to ignore that side of his audience.

Who he doesn't ignore are the moviegoers who only venture out five or so times a year to the movies. Those who don't really care about pop culture, but know that if Sandler is in a flick its gonna be entertaining and funny, so they can count on it. And Sandler knows this. No matter how famous he has become, he knows there is a world out there beyond the one he is surrounded by and that he can bring elements of his fantastical life to the big screen for others to wonder at while still coming off as a regular joe. It is a nice gig, and for anyone else it probably wouldn't work, but no matter how much he might get panned from the critics these days it is hard to deny the guys charm. His jokes are low brow and most of the time we have heard them before, but he makes it work and while this is supposed to be about "Just Go With It" I think we all know what kind of movie this is and that it will do what it wants and no amount of complaining will stop the movie going public from going to see it.

For what it's worth though, the story revolves around plastic surgeon Danny who discovered long ago the power of a wedding ring and the attraction and intrigue it sparks from single women. Fast-forward twenty years and Danny is still at it, but one extremely superficial night with Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) changes his mind. He is convinced this might be the one he is supposed to settle down with. This sounds a bit ridiculous, even for the general Sandler pic and it is executed even worse. The much younger Palmer has no reason other than the guys money to be interested in him. The film tries to play it off as if it is his love for kids and hers that make them fit together well, but Sandler's Danny doesn't even seem to develop a conscious until an hour and a half into the movie. Not to mention Decker is a pretty awful actress, even in this stock character role, she never gives off a hint of naturalness. And though we know how this all ends, I won't spoil it, but instead say that even though Aniston isn't the best at picking projects (she is actually very much in the same boat with Sandler) she manages well here and it is her charm and relatability that make her so likeable.

There isn't much else to say about the film other than I am glad Sandler decided to give Nick Swardson a bigger role finally. The guy is hilarious and deserves more attention. It was nice to see Sandlers gang show up in small spontaneous bits and the kids playing Aniston's children are completely adorable, if not the best part of the film. There is also an unexpected but welcome extended cameo from Nicole Kidman as Aniston's college rival. We see the confrontation coming the minute the dialogue gives us the set-up, but it is actually rewarding to see Kidman in a film like this just having fun and not worried about upholding her "serious actress" persona. Long time collaborator Dennis Dugan again directs with little more than a beginners eye. It is almost as if they use the same shot plan for every Sandler film. It is basic and gives no indications to the story or support to whatever tone the film is supposed to have. And in that is where people like me, who care enough to write five paragraphs about a film like this differ from those going to see a date movie over Valentine's Day weekend. And in all honesty the critics are going to have to get over it. Sandler will continue to make movies like this until even that general movie-going public no longer want to see them. Every now and then he will dip his toes in something like "Punch Drunk Love", "Reign Over Me", and even "Funny People". I wish he would even go back every now and then to making his "Happy Madison" movies where he plays a different character. "The Wedding Singer", "Zohan" anyone? But we will just have to wait and see and most likely, be patient. Until then, "Just Go With It" will have to do. And as bad as it might sound it is in fact harmless. If we stop over-thinking it and just enjoy the trip to Hawaii the film offers, we may not be so disappointed in Sandler.


JUST GO WITH IT Review

It became somewhat evident with last summers "Grown Ups" that audiences were growing more and more tired with Sandlers usual shtick. The guy puts little effort into his quick and dismissible films and he knows it, but he is reliable. It is almost a guarantee the opening weekend of a Sandler film will hit 30 million. He is box office gold and in all honesty his movies are harmless, so why is such a backlash beginning to grow against him? At least within the realm of cinephiles it seems to be because we know he is capable of so much more. In his "Happy Madison" productions, no matter what his name is, he is essentially playing Adam Sandler. At least he has as of late. But when you have made films that venture out of that comfort zone, and you have shown you are capable of more than repetitive, immature jokes, people are going to expect more. Sandler seems to want to ignore that side of his audience.

THE EAGLE Review

I was weary of "The Eagle". Visually, it looked very appealing, but its star is Channing Tatum and let's just say, the guy isn't my favorite actor. He does better in smaller roles, like in last month's "Dilemma" or the underrated "She's the Man" but when he headlines a movie we usually get crap like "Dear John" or "GI Joe". I wanted "The Eagle" to be good though, I wanted to see Tatum's bid to be the next action star be a promising one. This isn't a bad start. The story is simple and in a surprising turn, this is actually an elegant and quite movie. It isn't the large swords and sandals epic you might have expected, what it really is is the story of two people from different worlds coming together for a common cause. And though that may sound a tad cliche, the film actually presents the always interesting topic of loyalty and perspective.

Director Kevin MacDonald doesn't dig into his themes with his shot choices, but cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle captures the sweeping hills and landscapes of Scotland and Hungary with amazing scope and beauty. The entire film is tinted with a yellow and gray tone with hints of blues and greens thrown in. If anything, this movie is pretty to look at. What MacDonald does do though is capture his simple story and his two lead actors in a way that keeps us intrigued its entire two-hour run time. It is essentially a road trip film set in 120 AD. Which makes the performance of Tatum so important, if he had played his usual persona this would have been a failure, but the guy at least attempts a kind of accent and is paired with the always pleasant Jamie Bell. Bell plays Esca, a slave to the Roman Marcus (Tatum) who is somewhat forced to venture out on this journey with his master to search for the golden eagle, a symbol for Rome that was lost when Marcus's father along with 5,000 other men disappeared upon marching into Scotland for battle.

The main focus of the film is the relationship between Marcus and Esca. It begins when Marcus saves Esca from being killed by a gladiator for sport. Esca refuses to fight, demonstrating a bravery Marcus easily recognizes. When Marcus decides to go after the eagle he takes Esca along seeing as he has to venture into British territory. From that point on we have a trust in Esca that never feels like it wavers, even when he seems to completely be turning on his master, as an audience we don't doubt him and that is just a testament to the skills of Jamie Bell. Bell fashions his character to the kind of hostage that almost has irrational feelings towards his master. He argues with Marcus that just like his father fought to defend Rome his own fought and died to defend his own home. And while it starts out as if Esca despises Rome and all that defend its honor, he eventually becomes a friend, with positive feelings toward his captor, he genuinely wants to help his master. It is almost as if Esca suffers from Stockholm syndrome, but as with many of the themes in "The Eagle" the film elects not to dig too deep into things and would rather just scratch the surface and move along.

This is an entertaining film though, I just feel, at least story wise, that it had much more to offer. I have not read the Rosemary Sutcliff novel, The Eagle of the Ninth, on which this is based but I am sure it might give me more of the story I am looking for. I cannot be mad at the film for keeping it simple though, sometimes it is nice to see a simple mission done up with grand decoration. There may not be much to it, but it is well paced, well shot, and surprisingly well-acted, except for those American accents on what are supposed to be Roman and British soldiers. The film also has appearances from the likes of Donald Sutherland who, just as he did in "The Mechanic" a few weeks ago, mentors the young leading man and then is not seen for the rest of the film. Mark Strong also makes an unexpected cameo as a lost soldier of Marcus's fathers regime. And though his role is crucial to the climax of the film, such a great presence should not have been so under-used.

And so, "The Eagle" may not be as good as it should be but it is a pretty decent sword and sandals buddy picture that takes us on a beautiful trip and offers up some intense battle scenes while never delving too much into its own psychology. Plus, I can't complain too much, Tatum didn't make me cringe and I found it to be a rather enjoyable viewing experience. The final shot almost hints that there might be another adventure ahead for these two, but let's hope they leave it at this. I liked it, but wouldn't go back for seconds.


THE EAGLE Review

I was weary of "The Eagle". Visually, it looked very appealing, but its star is Channing Tatum and let's just say, the guy isn't my favorite actor. He does better in smaller roles, like in last month's "Dilemma" or the underrated "She's the Man" but when he headlines a movie we usually get crap like "Dear John" or "GI Joe". I wanted "The Eagle" to be good though, I wanted to see Tatum's bid to be the next action star be a promising one. This isn't a bad start. The story is simple and in a surprising turn, this is actually an elegant and quite movie. It isn't the large swords and sandals epic you might have expected, what it really is is the story of two people from different worlds coming together for a common cause. And though that may sound a tad cliche, the film actually presents the always interesting topic of loyalty and perspective.

TAMARA DREWE Review


What an unexpected little gem this was. I am beginning to become a serious Gemma Arterton fan. Although I didn't much like "Clash of the Titans", I did however think "Prince of Persia" was a little under-rated and I really enjoyed "The Disappearance of Alice Creed". She now comes out playing the title character in this comic strip adapted film that concerns itself with a quirky little town in England where everyone gets into each others business and things become much more entangled than they probably ever should. It is a fun little farce though, light and breezy as the beautiful countryside with which its director of photography relishes every free moment in.

As Ms. Drewe, we don't ever necessarily like Artertons character, but instead we wonder why she does the things she is doing. She has only returned to this small town to fix up her recently deceased mothers home so she can sell it. While there though it is nearly impossible for her to avoid falling in with old flames, or running in with old townsfolk who knew her as a completely different girl than the one she has returned as. Where the film succeeds in its character development and bringing several different plot strands together to form one coherent story is great and a real joy to watch unfold as the characters here really are the most enjoyable thing about the film. What I wasn't sure of the whole time though was the fuss around our title character. Sure she got a nose job and "grew up" since the last time anyone had seen her, but she isn't all THAT interesting of a person, instead she just seems to be the one who makes the worst decisions and attracts the most trouble. This is forgiveable though, she may not be interesting enough to deserve the film being named after her, but the other characters around her make this movie a fun one to get involved with.

The two scene stealer's here are the youngest of the cast, Jessica Barden especially relishes every scene she is in and enjoys being the cause of much of the mayhem that brings Drewe into the center of all the drama that begins to erupt after her return. Along with Charlotte Christie, the two create a great tone of what it is like to be young and bored, seemingly waiting for your life to start and doing whatever you can to pass the time and make things interesting until that point. Besides that, there is also interesting things going on with the ever rising Dominic Cooper and Luke Evans, both vying for Tamara's affection while this love triangle is disrupted by a particularly nasty performance by Roger Allam. It is really pitch perfect though and leaves an imprint for just how cheeky British comedy can be.

In the end, this is a fun comedy that deserves some attention from those here in the states. If not for more exposure to the wonderful world of British comedy at least for the enjoyment of an odd little flick where interesting people make quirky choices and it ends up being enjoyable enough to be happy you spent the time on it. You may not tell your friends about it or even necessarily think of it as that great of a movie, but you will like it. It has something undeniable about it.


TAMARA DREWE Review


What an unexpected little gem this was. I am beginning to become a serious Gemma Arterton fan. Although I didn't much like "Clash of the Titans", I did however think "Prince of Persia" was a little under-rated and I really enjoyed "The Disappearance of Alice Creed". She now comes out playing the title character in this comic strip adapted film that concerns itself with a quirky little town in England where everyone gets into each others business and things become much more entangled than they probably ever should. It is a fun little farce though, light and breezy as the beautiful countryside with which its director of photography relishes every free moment in.

WILD TARGET Review


"Wild Target" proves that even a tired story can be fresh as long as it has a sense of style and it is clear from the opening scene that this film does. Bill Nighy is at the top of his game as a hit man who no one is even sure exists he is so good. He walks in and walks out of buildings as if nothing ever happened. He gets the job done, that is why it is strange when his flow is interrupted. Of course, this comes in the form of a young, beautiful woman who just happens to be his target and who happens to be on the run from him and his employer. As his "wild target" Emily Blunt manages just the right balance of quirkiness and likeability. She is a thief and she is clumsy, but she is fun, almost impossible not to like, while we know that if we were actually around her we would probably be quite irritated with her. Added into the mix is Rupert Grint, who rounds out the trio to make a perfect mix of insanity and absurdity.
Each of our three leads seem to be having a grand time gallivanting around England trying to stay on the run so as not to get caught while emotions and past experiences create tension and new feelings. It is actually a kind of beautiful mess of a movie. It is a brisk hour and a half of action and wit. The story unfolding with what we expect but the characters making it fun along the way. Rupert Everett pops up in a few scenes and lets his nasty charm show through and the film also offers a glimpse (at least for Americans) at some of Martin Freeman's work. He is best known for playing the Jim" role on the British version of "The Office" (which is kind of funny seeing as Emily Blunt is married to American Jim) but you may also remember him from "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" and will next see him as a young Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit". Here he plays Nighy's rival hit man with a fetish for flashing his veneered smile every chance he gets. It is a small role, but it is a great comic touch and those are what make this movie so enjoyable.

The real treats here are the leads though, Blunt as mentioned before commands the film. She makes her male counterparts bow to her free-spirited Rose, causing them to change their normal routine and forcing them to adapt to ways of life they may not have known were she never to fall into their lives. It is especially refreshing to see Grint playing someone other than Ron Weasley, it is easy to see him having the most successful career outside of the "Harry Potter" realm. He is a natural comic talent and being able to play opposite Nighy's straight laced Victor Maynard is just the right kind of role he should be looking for now. It still has traits reminiscent of Ron Weasley, but is certainly in a more mature natured film. The subject and world around him allowing his character to feel more real.

And as for my only complaint about the film besides the story line being somewhat generic is the kind of convoluted affections that bring Nighy and Blunt together as a romantic couple. It is hard to buy into at first, not only because of their age, but because they start out really disliking one another. The resolution of the film depends on them getting together though, and no matter how much it may seem awkward we know it is going to happen at some point, it is hinted at the entire film. From the early moment when Maynard's mother asks him if he's gay or not. We know, although we still have hesitations as they grow closer. Something just isn't natural about it. There is no proof besides a tad bit of dialogue as to what made Rose fall for Maynard. We deal though and go on. There is plenty of British humor and enjoyable performances here to look past the one hiccup of the character development. The film is certainly a wild one and for the most part hits its target.



WILD TARGET Review


"Wild Target" proves that even a tired story can be fresh as long as it has a sense of style and it is clear from the opening scene that this film does. Bill Nighy is at the top of his game as a hit man who no one is even sure exists he is so good. He walks in and walks out of buildings as if nothing ever happened. He gets the job done, that is why it is strange when his flow is interrupted. Of course, this comes in the form of a young, beautiful woman who just happens to be his target and who happens to be on the run from him and his employer. As his "wild target" Emily Blunt manages just the right balance of quirkiness and likeability. She is a thief and she is clumsy, but she is fun, almost impossible not to like, while we know that if we were actually around her we would probably be quite irritated with her. Added into the mix is Rupert Grint, who rounds out the trio to make a perfect mix of insanity and absurdity.

MIDDLE MEN Review

Some actors just don't get the recognition they deserve. I don't know what it is that has made Owen the bigger star than Luke, but if anything, "Middle Men" proves Luke's ability to carry a movie by himself and he does it so well here. As Jack Harris, a loyal husband and family man, Wilson plays a man who is caught between two worlds. One being his family and the average American existence as well as being at the top of an Internet billing company that deals mainly in porn. It is an engaging story and despite the raunch that you may expect to come along with such a topic, it is inspiringly honest and made in such a way where the topic of the porn itself is just as it is in Jack's world. It stays in the back of our minds, it is everything surrounding, making that world a possibility that is at the forefront and is luckily, the most engaging.

The entire film is from Jack's perspective, he narrates us through his story of going from helping a friends business out to helping two idiots who stumbled upon the biggest thing since sliced bread. Organizing a business around the idea of getting money through the Internet without ever having to meet another person is fascinating, seeing that origin story is even more intriguing seeing as we use it every day now and the circumstances under which it came to be even more so. The two idiots (as they are referred to as multiple times in the film) are played here with fantastical flair by Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht. Ribisi certainly has the more showy of the role as a cracked out psychotic who doesn't seem to know how to talk in a volume below yell, but he makes it work and is hilarious in every scene he plays. Macht is essentially the straight man to in their duo and makes us believe this could have all actually happened to them, while maintaining a sense of immature irresponsibility. Along with Wilson's commanding lead performance these two make this movie worth watching, if not for their drug induced antics, at least to gawk at how stupid genius can be.

The film is so quick paced and cuts quickly from one scene to the next as Jack takes us through the ins and outs of a business that makes so much money it is unsafe for anyone to stay in too long. It is somewhat of an ugly truth about society that people can and do in fact take in so much money off hidden fantasies, but the film doesn't let us think that, in fact, it shocks us into how relevant the industry actually is in our society. From being able to blackmail elected officials to helping wipe out a few terrorists, it is almost so absurd it can't be anything but true. We know its true, we just don't like to say it. It isn't a part of every day life and what is great about this movie is that it never forgets that. It understands its topics place in society. Throughout Jack gives voice over testimonials as to what is going on in his mind. He goes from convincing himself that everyone on the outside only wishes they could actually be where he sat. From that to finally admitting to himself that the little speck of knowledge does exist. That conscious that tells him what he is doing is wrong.

Which means, that in the end, this is really about the evolution and revelations of a man not sure what he wants out of life when presented with two polar opposite choices. It is part drama, comedy, and could even be a bit of an action flick at times, though in the lightest sense. And though it has many things going for it and many genres that it spans, we always feel as if a little something is missing. even now, as I write this review I'm not certain what exactly it is that didn't make the film feel complete for me. It is a solid movie, with great supporting cast and an intriguing story that is told in a definitive style. There is seemingly nothing to complain about on my end and so I will stop looking for it and say that besides the blunt content of the movie it is a greatly interesting film. One that some may want to ignore, but I dare you to pull your eyes from the screen.


MIDDLE MEN Review

Some actors just don't get the recognition they deserve. I don't know what it is that has made Owen the bigger star than Luke, but if anything, "Middle Men" proves Luke's ability to carry a movie by himself and he does it so well here. As Jack Harris, a loyal husband and family man, Wilson plays a man who is caught between two worlds. One being his family and the average American existence as well as being at the top of an Internet billing company that deals mainly in porn. It is an engaging story and despite the raunch that you may expect to come along with such a topic, it is inspiringly honest and made in such a way where the topic of the porn itself is just as it is in Jack's world. It stays in the back of our minds, it is everything surrounding, making that world a possibility that is at the forefront and is luckily, the most engaging.

THE RITE Review

What's the deal with Exorcism movies lately? It seems though they are fine to get off on the right track and engage us with interesting stories if not characters that get caught up in these ever suspicious rituals of getting rid of demons, they never have the will power to get to a satisfactory conclusion. It is as if they know what they would like the film to contain and how it would begin, but they aren't sure how to wrap everything up once the movie reaches its half way point. And so, like last falls under appreciated "The Last Exorcism", "The Rite" starts off promising enough but crawls toward a conclusion where our doubtful main characters faith is renewed. Nothing wrong with that, but isn't there another route we can take?

In "The Rite" we are treated to a slick and dreary film that focuses on Michael Kovak, a young priest who has no real foundation of faith. He joined the seminary in order to get away from his father. His troubled past is used to fuel the questions he has for and about God. Though we are never really convinced that Michael won't eventually find his faith we also never really believe his circumstances would force him to go to such lengths as becoming a full fledged priest. It is an awkward battle that is never really resolved even as the films climax tries desperately to connect everything as well as justify it. Part of this fault lies in the performance of newcomer Colin O'Donoghue who never seems fully aware of what his circumstances are. He looks empty and the one thing the main character needs here is a little bit of a soul to be toyed with. O'Donoghue doesn't even come through in his finale, where he becomes truly convicted and sounds more like a southern preacher sounding off against the demons than a truly, genuine and authentic man who has realized where his truth is in life. A stronger performer in the lead could have certainly made the overall appeal of this film much stronger.

Where the film doesn't fall short is in its use of Sir Anthony Hopkins talent. Taking his Hannibal Lecterisms and spinning them into a holy man who has had his own doubts and may or may not be possessing his own demons. Hopkins is an old pro and knows what type of film this is and he seems to be having fun by playing it up the best he can. As an expert exorciser Hopkins takes O'Donoghue's character under his wing and more or less tries to convince him there are bigger things going on other than Michael's own internal struggles. It is with an eerie eye we watch Hopkins as he brings the demons out of a young pregnant girl with a sly nod to the bare theatrics of how things really go down. "What did you expect? Spinning heads and pea soup?" He asks early on in the film. And it is with that attitude that "The Rite" attempts to make this a truer to life exorcism movie than any in recent memory.

And though it hammers home the points that these are inspired by true events and that these characters really exist somewhere (and in some form they probably do) it is with a kind of chuckle we watch the over dramatic events take place in front of us. We like to think we are in on the joke with Hopkins, that we know this is all just a but of evil fun, but then he will growl out a few lines and we reconsider for a moment. We get chills when Hopkins gets a look in his eye, and we like the film more than we anticipated, if solely because of his performance. Otherwise, it is too slowly paced and as mentioned before, the story simply cannot withstand its nearly two hour run time. The catholic church has long since proclaimed they hardly do any exorcisms anymore and that they have taken to more scientific and medical explanations for what were once thought to possibly be demonic possessions. This would no doubt make our protagonist happy, but does not sit well with filmmakers who want to scare folks with religion and the evil that comes along with the good. "The Rite" is an honest effort, but a complete fabrication, we should take it for what it is: a popcorn horror flick. Mr. Hopkins would agree, it is written all over his performances cackling face.


THE RITE Review

What's the deal with Exorcism movies lately? It seems though they are fine to get off on the right track and engage us with interesting stories if not characters that get caught up in these ever suspicious rituals of getting rid of demons, they never have the will power to get to a satisfactory conclusion. It is as if they know what they would like the film to contain and how it would begin, but they aren't sure how to wrap everything up once the movie reaches its half way point. And so, like last falls under appreciated "The Last Exorcism", "The Rite" starts off promising enough but crawls toward a conclusion where our doubtful main characters faith is renewed. Nothing wrong with that, but isn't there another route we can take?

THE MECHANIC Review

The chrome headed superman of the moment, Jason Statham delivers nothing less than what we would expect from him in his latest actioner "The Mechanic". It isn't hard to know what a January action film is going to deliver either, even if it does star Statham and gives him a sidekick played by the talented and underrated Ben Foster. This is a run of the mill, hit man, shoot-em up genre pic that follows its guidelines carefully and plays on its campiness so close we're not really sure if it's joking or not. Statham has played this guy before, and in much better films. It would be nice to see him stretch his skills a bit, but until that kind of script appeals to him, we will have to settle for what has made him famous.

Director Simon West, who is a veteran of action flicks such as "Con Air" and the first "Tomb Raider" delivers on what is important here. Beginning with the opening sequence, our ruthless tone is set and the intelligence and skill level of our main character is well noted. It is an original execution and we could have only hoped the rest of the film would live up to this type of interesting, silent methods of killing, but instead it gets loud and worst of all messy. What story there is around the action sequences concerns the employer of Statham's Arthur Bishop and the death of his mentor Harry, played with a fun air of smart ass by Donald Sutherland. After the death of Harry, his estranged son asks Bishop to train him to do as he does. To become an assassin of the highest degree. Played here by Ben Foster, a loose canon of an actor that looks almost too well suited for his role. Steve (Foster) learns quick and yearns to kill, but his anxious emotions of course complicate Bishops quiet killing style.

It is entertaining to watch the calm and collected Statham play opposite the wild card of Fosters Steven. In fact, it is this element that allows "The Mechanic" to stand alone. If not for these two characters and their partnership this movie would be nothing more than a copy cat dud with some satisfactory action sequences. And even with the relationship between our leads, the previous description is pretty fair seeing as the climax of such built up tension is nowhere near as explosive or as violent as you might anticipate them to be. Statham is a master at hand to hand combat, it is in that element that he shows why he is the man to beat these days, but we get none of that here. He is too busy running and firing off hundreds of bullets that, while loud and no doubt effective, make poor use of the opportunities for beat downs here. Really? The killing off of the main baddie is simply watching these guys fire guns at his trapped body. C'mon Statham, don't get lazy on us now.

That is how it is starting to seem though. For now, Statham will remain the go to guy for a quick action fix, he can always make another "Transporter" film and made a nice choice in following Sylvester Stallone's lead in last summer's "The Expendables", but throwing in a clunker like this in between his better roles won't always be forgiven. This is a smear on his career and though it may not work against him, it is certainly not building much faith in him and he clearly has more to offer than this. We saw a glimmer of it in "The Bank Job" where Statham was more than just the killer, he was in command, not just of his team, but of all the aspects of his character. He is a strong persona. But he need beware for it can wear thin quite quickly. He deserves better material, there are smart action films to be made, he simply isn't looking hard enough. We'll give you our time Mr. Statham, you just have to deliver the goods. Here's hoping for better results next time.


THE MECHANIC Review

The chrome headed superman of the moment, Jason Statham delivers nothing less than what we would expect from him in his latest actioner "The Mechanic". It isn't hard to know what a January action film is going to deliver either, even if it does star Statham and gives him a sidekick played by the talented and underrated Ben Foster. This is a run of the mill, hit man, shoot-em up genre pic that follows its guidelines carefully and plays on its campiness so close we're not really sure if it's joking or not. Statham has played this guy before, and in much better films. It would be nice to see him stretch his skills a bit, but until that kind of script appeals to him, we will have to settle for what has made him famous.

LET ME IN Review

I have yet to see the original Swedish film on which "Let Me In" is a remake of. I completely intended to, especially with all the praise it received back in 2008 when it first came out, and certainly before I saw this version, but it just didn't happen that way. Upon viewing Matt Reeves interpretation of that movie though, I am anxious to watch the original to see the differences, if only for the sense of a filmmakers stance on how to copy while making it ones own. In comments I've read about the film, Reeves seems to have accomplished respecting the original while making his film stand firmly on its own, a task not easily accomplished these days. As for the film itself, it is a chilling tale of innocence and young love contrasted with brutal horrible acts of violence. It is strange, yet oddly fascinating the way the two work together. I am not hip to this whole vampire craze, but "Let Me In' is not simply an attempt to jump on the bandwagon. Its the one that sets the bar.
The fact it stars two very talented child actors in the lead roles doesn't hurt either. Kodi Smit-McPhee of "The Road" and the amazing Chloe Moretz of "Kick-Ass" create this sweet and heartfelt romance between two young pre-teens that blossoms from being the outcasts of a society and a school clique. The wrench in the machine is that the young girl isn't who she appears to be, in fact she is of the blood sucking type. And while it seems she would like nothing more than to abandon the traits that make her a vampire, she also seems to relish in the fact that she has this secret to hold over everyone. She feels good when she attacks and feeds off of the others blood. Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas do fine work in supporting roles to enhance the 1980's era feel and their solemn and silent older characters serve as a strong contrast to the closeness of the younger ones. To make an original vampire flick though, you must have a truly compelling story and that is what sets this apart, really. The relevance of bullied children that yearning for revenge paired with the struggle of a young person trapped by these vampire limitations and the bond that creates while still carrying all the scary facets that come along with that character, it is full of possibilities and "Let Me In' deals with many of them in just the right tone.

Director Reeves pulls back from the violence, detaching us from the acts, but he shoves the aftermath in our faces. The blood on a young girls face signifying more than simply a requirement to live. It is one of many things you notice as you watch this well made horror film. It is a complete delight, an original take on what has become a tired genre as of late. You stay on the edge of your seat, hoping that this dark tale has some light at the end of its tunnel.



LET ME IN Review

I have yet to see the original Swedish film on which "Let Me In" is a remake of. I completely intended to, especially with all the praise it received back in 2008 when it first came out, and certainly before I saw this version, but it just didn't happen that way. Upon viewing Matt Reeves interpretation of that movie though, I am anxious to watch the original to see the differences, if only for the sense of a filmmakers stance on how to copy while making it ones own. In comments I've read about the film, Reeves seems to have accomplished respecting the original while making his film stand firmly on its own, a task not easily accomplished these days. As for the film itself, it is a chilling tale of innocence and young love contrasted with brutal horrible acts of violence. It is strange, yet oddly fascinating the way the two work together. I am not hip to this whole vampire craze, but "Let Me In' is not simply an attempt to jump on the bandwagon. Its the one that sets the bar.

NEVER LET ME GO Review


I have neither read the novel this film is based on or seen any of Director Mark Romanek's previous work. But from the first glimpses of "Never Let Me Go" and its mysterious yet hugely intriguing plot I was interested. Though I wasn't exactly sure why I was getting myself into here, I thought it would be something along the lines of a British "The Island" with less sleekness and more natural beauty. And while the concepts are eerily similar, (but Michael Bay's film and the book did come out the same year, although that film had a lawsuit against it for copyright infringement by the director of a 1979 film that also had a similar story) "Never Let Me Go" is a more subtle and natural look at a world where these copies of people aren't used for such selfish reasons. They are purely created to keep the world clean of disease. It is a slow process through which we learn the true identity and purpose of our three main characters, and in the end we get a story that is depressing if not heartbreaking. 

Kathy, Tommy and Ruth all attended a private school that molded them to become what they were always meant to be. In the early scenes when we see our characters as young children is where we find the most interesting and mysterious aspects of the story. I would have greatly appreciated spending more time at Hailshom because once we enter the first act where our three leads are played by more recognizable faces the movie begins to drag a bit. Though Carey Mulligan is always a joy to watch and Andrew Garfield continues to prove why he will be a huge name someday, it is the oldest pro of the group, Kiera Knightley that turns in a more mature and torn performance than she has in years. It hearkens to her role in films like "Atonement" where she plays cold and detached for reasons only she can truly justify. The dynamics between the three are interesting and when they do come together for a final time in the last act of the film we do have a moment of chilling realization. It is what the film does best, it builds around you, making you yearn for it to answer your questions, but once you receive those answers, you are wishing they would have been something different. Something not as negative, something with a little more hope. These characters know nothing of that word though, they were never even taught to feel that emotion.

As I write this, I am beginning to feel this movie affected me more than I though it did. "Never Let Me Go" is a poignant movie, it is moving to the point that I will most likely still be thinking about it in a few days. Wondering how people could allow these human beings to grow up living real lives, only to cut them short. Always knowing they would be cut short. Why even let them live as if they were real people? Why even let them begin to fall in love or have dreams and aspirations? It only seems cruel. And though it is a depressing movie, I can not say I didn't like it. I enjoyed the contrast of such an old school world with the futuristic storyline and the tiny hints of technology. It was regal in the most creepy of ways. Those little details hinting at the real world that surrounded these unknowing beings. I didn't get exactly what I bargained for here, but it was much more. And I'm glad the story here did as its title promised.



NEVER LET ME GO Review


I have neither read the novel this film is based on or seen any of Director Mark Romanek's previous work. But from the first glimpses of "Never Let Me Go" and its mysterious yet hugely intriguing plot I was interested. Though I wasn't exactly sure why I was getting myself into here, I thought it would be something along the lines of a British "The Island" with less sleekness and more natural beauty. And while the concepts are eerily similar, (but Michael Bay's film and the book did come out the same year, although that film had a lawsuit against it for copyright infringement by the director of a 1979 film that also had a similar story) "Never Let Me Go" is a more subtle and natural look at a world where these copies of people aren't used for such selfish reasons. They are purely created to keep the world clean of disease. It is a slow process through which we learn the true identity and purpose of our three main characters, and in the end we get a story that is depressing if not heartbreaking. 

CONVICTION Review


I have been anxious to see this film since I saw the first trailer for it last summer and was surprised not to see it have a wide release this fall with award nominations to follow. While waiting for it to end up in a theater near me or on DVD I was wondering why such an inspiring story with more than able actors would not be garnering more attention than this did. I almost expected this to be somewhat of a disappointment. This is not true though, in fact it is as rousing and as inspirational as we were led to believe it would be.

The film effortlessly slides back and forth in time, compiling the full story of what has happened to Kenny Waters and why his sister has gone to the lengths she has for her brother. As Betty Anne, Hilary Swank shows why she is one of the more underrated actresses working today. Since her Oscar earning performance in "Million Dollar Baby" she hasn't had much success with picking projects. This role though gives her the opportunity to really invest in someone the viewing audience has no prior notions of. She fully inherits the Massachusetts native who comes from nothing to become a lawyer for the sake of family. It is nothing short of a struggle as it tears apart her own family and leaves her world empty of anything other than the next step in proving her brothers innocence. The real scene stealer here though is Rockwell. In a showy role, Rockwell makes Kenny a real man, not just the object of the films main plot. Kenny goes from loose cannon to a broken down elder who wants nothing more out of life than to see his sister succeed. 

The film never makes us doubt Kenny, but we question him. He is what the story hinges on, even if the makers are always showing us what Betty Anne's next step is. What we are truly waiting for is to see if Kenny can make it long enough to prove his sisters actions were indeed worth the sacrifice and Rockwell keeps the tension high the entire time. Which bodes well for the pacing of the film.At nearly two hours the film flys by. We are so wrapped up in the conflict, the details and so interested to see how things unfold even if we know the outcome. Along with the two great lead performances, Minnie Driver adds a touch of comedy as Betty Anne's one and only friend as well as small supporting roles from Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo and an especially welcome Ari Graynor showing she can do more than play the funny drunk girl.

Director Tony Goldwyn has crafted a superb film. One that, as corny as it may sound, is a true example of the human spirit. "Conviction" is an honest try at showing the bonds that going through life together creates between two human beings. It sends a strong message and will tug on your heart. It may not be the award winning film I anticipated it being, but it is an amazing story and one that fully deserved to be put to film. Nothing short of an achievement.



CONVICTION Review


I have been anxious to see this film since I saw the first trailer for it last summer and was surprised not to see it have a wide release this fall with award nominations to follow. While waiting for it to end up in a theater near me or on DVD I was wondering why such an inspiring story with more than able actors would not be garnering more attention than this did. I almost expected this to be somewhat of a disappointment. This is not true though, in fact it is as rousing and as inspirational as we were led to believe it would be.

The film effortlessly slides back and forth in time, compiling the full story of what has happened to Kenny Waters and why his sister has gone to the lengths she has for her brother. As Betty Anne, Hilary Swank shows why she is one of the more underrated actresses working today. Since her Oscar earning performance in "Million Dollar Baby" she hasn't had much success with picking projects. This role though gives her the opportunity to really invest in someone the viewing audience has no prior notions of. She fully inherits the Massachusetts native who comes from nothing to become a lawyer for the sake of family. It is nothing short of a struggle as it tears apart her own family and leaves her world empty of anything other than the next step in proving her brothers innocence. The real scene stealer here though is Rockwell. In a showy role, Rockwell makes Kenny a real man, not just the object of the films main plot. Kenny goes from loose cannon to a broken down elder who wants nothing more out of life than to see his sister succeed.