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.

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS Review

I have been looking forward to "Water for Elephants" with a good amount of anticipation. I love the time period and the whole atmosphere with which this movie was set, I enjoy a grand love story, a kind of throw back to the golden age of Hollywood. The film has a few just outstanding things going for it. Besides those I've already mentioned it also has a great performance by Christoph Waltz, once again capitalizing on his ability to play a man of such evil intent that oozes charm. The film also looks gorgeous, the lush colors of early fall overcast with a time tainted yellow that makes everything feel more genuine. And while this really is an engaging love story that also features Robert "Twilight" Pattinson spreading his wings and proving he can play more than teen angst as well as the always lovely Reese Witherspoon, it is sometimes hard to believe in them as a romantic couple. The film spends too much building up the need for them to take down August (Waltz) and not enough on why Reese and R. Patts are so right for one another.


In the beginning Jacob Jankowski is a young man ready to graduate veterinary school and take on the world, of course all of that changes when his parents die in a car crash and he is forced to leave everything he knew behind. Hopping on the first train that comes by, Jacob stumbles upon the Benzini Brothers circus where he is able to get work, eventually being able to work up the ladder to meet the boss and become the caretaker for the animals. It is once he gets to this point he first lays eyes on Marlena and first gets to know Rosie. As the star attraction and wife of the ring master, Marlena is an untouchable entity. I have not finished reading Sara Gruen's novel from which this film is based (though I had hoped to before the movie came out, oh well) but I can only hope that spark between Jacob and Marlena is ever-present from the first moment they meet. In the film we get a sense of it, but I feel that is only because we know, inevitably, that is where this film is going even if there were no chemistry whatsoever. This misunderstanding of attraction between the two leads is made up for when August acquires Rosie, an elephant, as the new main attraction in his show. I'm not sure if it is a bad sign when the relationship between Rosie and her famous co-stars is more evident than it ever is between just the two of them, but through her actions and the hatred August projects on her she becomes the real star of the film, the real reason this is a satisfying romance. As weird as it may sound, it is totally true.

The worse part of this miscalculated romance is how much it seems to slow down and otherwise entertaining film. With its huge spectacle and grand odes to classic screen shots, it is more fulfilling to simply experience it rather than dig into the content of it all. At times, "Water for Elephants" drags a bit too much, making this affair seem longer than it should and therefore causing some unwanted side thoughts about "How long is it going to take before Christoph Waltz gets back on screen?" Director Francis Lawrence has concocted a very elegant piece of cinema, and I would give him everything but the main ingredient not working in his favor. One has to wonder, with so much feeling authentic and ,magical why is the only thing missing that spark of true romance between the two big movie stars? This is a movie that wants to remind of us those films of old we all hear about where the camera closes in and we see two huge faces meet for a kiss we have waited the entire picture to see. That is the intention of every other aspect of this movie. That setting, the cinematography, the grandly exquisite soundtrack that sweeps us into the moment with these characters. But as they meet lips, nothing happens. Sure, they are pretty, but it doesn't mean anything to us, and it really should after all they went through to be together, it really should mean more.

I can't even put my finger on what could have made it better, but it must be noted the opening and closing moments of the film that feature Hal Holbrook as an older Jacob are the only true times we feel that Jacob and Marlena really did love one another. That may sound like I'm calling Pattinson ineffective, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by his work here. He is still to stoic and doesn't have the ability to express all that is going on in his mind through his facial expressions, but I feel like it's there somewhere and I certainly won't blame the guy for trying. This is a solid effort to show he is more than Edward, even though "Water for Elephants" should really have no correlation with "Twilight" at all. And though it may sound as if I've heavily criticized this film for its lack of romantic justification for all the struggles we see these characters face, know that this isn't a bad movie. It is just missing that certain something. It's like eating off a buffet but with the restriction of not being able to get your favorite dish. The meal is still good, it just doesn't feel complete without that one element.


WATER FOR ELEPHANTS Review

I have been looking forward to "Water for Elephants" with a good amount of anticipation. I love the time period and the whole atmosphere with which this movie was set, I enjoy a grand love story, a kind of throw back to the golden age of Hollywood. The film has a few just outstanding things going for it. Besides those I've already mentioned it also has a great performance by Christoph Waltz, once again capitalizing on his ability to play a man of such evil intent that oozes charm. The film also looks gorgeous, the lush colors of early fall overcast with a time tainted yellow that makes everything feel more genuine. And while this really is an engaging love story that also features Robert "Twilight" Pattinson spreading his wings and proving he can play more than teen angst as well as the always lovely Reese Witherspoon, it is sometimes hard to believe in them as a romantic couple. The film spends too much building up the need for them to take down August (Waltz) and not enough on why Reese and R. Patts are so right for one another.

SCREAM 4 Review

"Scream 4" was not expected to be that good. I mean, let's be honest, from the first to the third they got a little worse in terms of quality and all the more stuck in the cliches they were speaking on as they went along. So, when the fourth doesn't come out until ten years later it is either going to be for the worst or there was the slight chance writer Kevin Williamson simply took the time to let the horror game change, let it evolve in order to set up a fresh take his "Scream" movies could make on the whole genre. With a slew of new young, pretty actors taking over while still being able to coax the three original stars back both Williamson and Director Wes Craven have concocted a fourth sequel that through the eyes of the new generation is more of a re-boot. This fourth entry is just as funny as any of the first three and a little more bloody. It's a good time with old friends, and I enjoyed seeing them in action again.


Once again we follow Sydney Prescott, once again played by Neve Campbell, as she journeys back to Woodsboro after having written a kind of self-help book and is on a promotional tour. Of course, once Sydney is back where it all began strange things start to happen and Ghostface reappears and people begin to die. The way in which Williamson has connected Sydney back to Woodsboro is by introducing us to Jill, Sydeny's niece, played here by Emma Roberts. Jill is around the same age Sydney was when everything started and though her friend fittingly call Jill's aunt the "angel of death" it is clear Jill has a kind of affection for her estranged aunt. What I found most surprising about this sequel was the young cast and how well they carried all their duties out. There is a lot of talking going on here, many things needing to be said to get the films point of view across and they all do it well. most notably, Hayden Panttiere who plays a popular girl with a geek edge. A flair for old school horror and a secret crush on the president of the cinema club. Her performance is authentic and ground the film in what today's high schoolers would actually make of a scary movie made nearly fifteen years ago. With her, both Erik Knudsen and the object of Panttiere's affection Rory Culkin give us the outline for how a current horror flick should run and it is fun to watch them break it down and to see the movie carry it out.

As for the originals, David Arquette is back as Dewey but is no longer a deputy, instead he has now been promoted to Sheriff and has been married to Gale for ten years. Gale, still looking great as embodied by Courtney Cox, is having trouble finding things to write about and has had to come to terms with the fact she is no longer the leader in campy news journalism. Williamson weaves these stock characters into the plot seamlessly leading to a conclusion that gives us the most rewarding piece of dialogue in the whole film. I won't say anymore so as to not give anything away, but though the logic of the ending might be questionable to some point, the film makes a good case for it and we certainly buy into this world in which we have not been back to in a while. That is the charm of this film, had this been made a few years after the third film it would no doubt have been looked at as more camp than Craven intended (and no doubt as a more awful film than it actually is) but instead the bits of camp thrown in here and there feel intentional and much like a wink at the audience. We are in on it too now, the generation that grew up with with these films has seen how scary movies have changed and can now comment on them with their favorite characters. I didn't find it to be a scary movie, but the "scream" films have never really appealed tome in that way, they have always been an institution of the genre that was kind of laughing at themselves, and that tone is captured perfectly again here.

Possibly the most exciting things about getting to see a new "Scream" movie is the opportunity to see what the makers will do for the next opening. I eagerly awaited seeing what this would be and though I don't really want to discuss it so as not to give away the twists of it, you should know that I laughed to myself more than i thought I would. They way in which Williamson has messed with every new convention and trick as well as name dropping several pop culture staples while tearing them down is priceless and follows in a close race with the opening of the second film. Of course you can't top the original, but that is something this sequel doesn't forget and that is why it is so hard not to enjoy our time back in Woodsboro. Sure, with anything else this might not have been a movie that is worth your time, but on it's own "Scream" terms this is much better than I expected it to be, but just as good as it should have been.


SCREAM 4 Review

"Scream 4" was not expected to be that good. I mean, let's be honest, from the first to the third they got a little worse in terms of quality and all the more stuck in the cliches they were speaking on as they went along. So, when the fourth doesn't come out until ten years later it is either going to be for the worst or there was the slight chance writer Kevin Williamson simply took the time to let the horror game change, let it evolve in order to set up a fresh take his "Scream" movies could make on the whole genre. With a slew of new young, pretty actors taking over while still being able to coax the three original stars back both Williamson and Director Wes Craven have concocted a fourth sequel that through the eyes of the new generation is more of a re-boot. This fourth entry is just as funny as any of the first three and a little more bloody. It's a good time with old friends, and I enjoyed seeing them in action again.

ARTHUR Review

I feel it necessary to start off by saying that I haven't seen the original "Arthur" that is so highly praised by my parents generation. That is why I found it odd my dad, who maybe attends two movies a year in the theater, was willing to go see this re-make. He made it clear it wasn't one of his favorites, that all he really remembered about it was Dudley Moore being drunk the whole time, but he did know he enjoyed the film. I wondered how much this new version, now made as a Russell Brand vehicle, would appeal to him. I guess the more appropriate question was would he find Brand's sense of humor appealing? It wasn't as much about re-making the film as answering the interesting question of what a current comedian would do given a classic comedies premise. The result is probably just what you would expect: a run of the mill comedy that offers up a few laughs but nothing really groundbreaking. Let's be honest though, groundbreaking isn't the word the makers of this new "Arthur" were going for.


And so, the question I most anticipated asking my dad after watching the film was how did Brand measure up? Now, again, my dad is anything but an expert in film or criticizing why a film works and why it doesn't, but the guy was entertained and he enjoyed Brand's performance and the film in general and honestly, so did I. Sometimes those who do criticize film get too wrapped up in details and bothered by too many factors that ultimately differ from film to film anyway. With "Arthur" there will no doubt be a lot of complaining with Brand's performance and how it is disrespectful to the original, but without having seen that, I will just have to look at the film with fresh eyes. I'm not going to pick it apart and say how generic and bland the movie got at points, instead I'd rather applaud the strong female cast that only support a performance by Brand that showed me he is more than just Aldous Snow and can carry a movie himself, and with an ease that suggests he's completely comfortable in the role.

Brand, a spastic ball of energy, bounces from set-up to set-up with the most enthusiastic of energy that really relates to the audience, showing us that he cares about the character he is playing and thus we become kind of invested in this misfit billionaire and though the majority of us could never understand or have the will to empathise with this guys situation it really feels as if that is what Brand is going for. In part, he succeeds, though it is really hard to feel sorry for someone who's been spoiled his entire life and is threatened with having it all taken away because he hasn't acted maturely is a bit much to ask, but we buy into it and we root for the guy to be able to have it all. Its all a bit ridiculous and ultimately shows how much our society would ideally like to put the importance of love before anything, even money. It's a nice notion, even if it doesn't feel genuine once the credits roll and you are back in the real world. The important thing to know though is that though Brand is of a particular taste, he shows here he can manage a PG-13 rated film and still be cleverly witty and quirky. He is entertaining to experience and thus so is the film for most of its running time.

What makes up for the lagging moments between Brands brash stretches of comic escapades are the three supporting roles of three strong and credible women. As his faithful nanny, Helen Mirren's Hobson is seemingly bored with Arthur's behavior but she never loses faith in him and Mirren is able to perfectly balance her British superiority with her warm spot Arthur has carved out for himself in her heart. Then there is the evil woman who only wants to marry Arthur so to inherit the family name and take over the family business. As Susan, Jennifer Garner gets her juiciest role in years and plays it to the hilt. She looks as if she's actually having some fun and it's nice to see as is a bigger role for Greta Gerwig who has only been in smaller indie films thus far. She plays the quirky opposite female of everything that Susan is and everything that Arthur wants in a woman. It is a charming relationship and it is the heart of the film. Gerwig nails the tone of the relationship perfectly while teaching Arthur the lessons her really needs to learn in life. No, this isn't some great revolutionary film, and it certainly isn't groundbreaking, but it is good fun and how can you really be mad about that?


ARTHUR Review

I feel it necessary to start off by saying that I haven't seen the original "Arthur" that is so highly praised by my parents generation. That is why I found it odd my dad, who maybe attends two movies a year in the theater, was willing to go see this re-make. He made it clear it wasn't one of his favorites, that all he really remembered about it was Dudley Moore being drunk the whole time, but he did know he enjoyed the film. I wondered how much this new version, now made as a Russell Brand vehicle, would appeal to him. I guess the more appropriate question was would he find Brand's sense of humor appealing? It wasn't as much about re-making the film as answering the interesting question of what a current comedian would do given a classic comedies premise. The result is probably just what you would expect: a run of the mill comedy that offers up a few laughs but nothing really groundbreaking. Let's be honest though, groundbreaking isn't the word the makers of this new "Arthur" were going for.

YOUR HIGHNESS Review

There is something strangely appealing about a stoner comedy told through the world of medieval knights, wizards, damsels and unearthly creatures. It is through the mind of Danny McBride that we are given this trip to a land of ole where his Prince Thadeous is able to go on a life-changing quest with his brother Fabious and make killing a minotaur into a dick joke. If you have seen anything McBride has worked on in the past you know his sense of humor, from his first feature "The Foot Fist Way" to his HBO series "Eastbound & Down" McBride is a comedic force and is at his best when playing the quick-witted asshole role he has perfected from Fred Simmons to Kenny Powers. In "Your Highness" he acts much the same, but with a slight air of an attempted accent that goes in and out depending on whether he's cursing or not. "Your Highness" sometimes relies to heavily on its vulgar tendencies without having the wit and charm of its humor that usually cushion the blow of repetitive F-bombs, but its scope and talented cast allow for it to remain on track and for the most part an enjoyable ride all the way through to its predictable conclusion.


Re-uniting after the superior "Pineapple Express" McBride and Franco are not as appealing a team here as we'd hoped they'd be. While "Express" allowed them to bounce off one another great lines and a relationship that was nothing short of genuine, here it seems they had more fun behind the camera than they do once the camera started rolling and they had to speak their lines. It is as if this were more an excuse to get together again rather than make a quality comedy. This is strange though, seeing as "Express" director David Gordon Green, who has also directed McBride in a few episodes of "Eastbound & Down" is at the helm here once again as well. Before the success of "Pineapple Express" Green was mainly known for small indie films, and was able to bring a strong sense of humanity to such a broad comedy, but here. all seems lost on the world the director and writer have chosen to explore. Green certainly delivers in terms of grand sets, costumes and special fx monsters, but when it comes down to it the audience for this film is not looking for those things, they are looking for something to laugh at, and what "Your Highness" brings to the table in terms of jokes feel as old and stale as the time period the films set in.

There is only so many ways you can say the F word and there are only so many sexual or bodily function jokes you can tell before they all begin to get old. Too bad McBride and long-time collaborator Ben Best didn't take this opportunity to spoof some of the traditions and staples of the time period they were in, replacing the old English language with the current vernacular of a college sophomore seemed to instead be the funnier route to them. While I will admit there are moments of greatness in the film, it truly isn't all bad, I am still reeling from what my expectations were to what the final product delivered. I certainly thought with the talents of Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, and even Toby Jones not to mention Franco who should have made this more about the role rather than having a good time with his co-stars, that their had to be something truly fun and enticing about the script to make such credible actors want to be a part of this broad comedy. Instead Portman, while looking better than ever, delivers a half-hearted and stereotypical tough girl performance while Deschanel for all her appealing quirkiness is criminally under-used. Theroux has the best role in the film and some of the best lines and he seems to know it, making his evil wizard all the more cocky and entertaining than both Thadeous and Fabious combined. I would have much rather watched a movie centered around his Leezar than one note character McBride has concocted.

This is a shame really, I expected so much and know that there is probably a good movie to be made from this idea. That the people behind this film failed to live up to their expectations makes me all the more upset. I had pure trust that McBride would never let me down when it came to bringing the funny, but he has officially begun to seem stale. It is time to change-up the persona a little, it is time to put more effort into the characters you want to bring to the screen. This is one big missed opportunity, one that features an Oscar winner and nominee as well as one of the best comedy writers and a knowledgeable director. There is no excuse for this to be as incompetent as it was. Sadly, the audience can see more time and effort were put into the look of the film than the jokes in the script. We can see that the selling point of this film, its comedy, is also the laziest aspect of the whole thing. Did they really think we would be distracted by the lavish world they placed themselves in and get away with not being the least bit original in terms of comedy? There is funny vulgarity and then there is being vulgar with no intelligence behind the remarks to back it up. "Your Highness" is a brainless quest that looks great but elicits very little laughs.


YOUR HIGHNESS Review

There is something strangely appealing about a stoner comedy told through the world of medieval knights, wizards, damsels and unearthly creatures. It is through the mind of Danny McBride that we are given this trip to a land of ole where his Prince Thadeous is able to go on a life-changing quest with his brother Fabious and make killing a minotaur into a dick joke. If you have seen anything McBride has worked on in the past you know his sense of humor, from his first feature "The Foot Fist Way" to his HBO series "Eastbound & Down" McBride is a comedic force and is at his best when playing the quick-witted asshole role he has perfected from Fred Simmons to Kenny Powers. In "Your Highness" he acts much the same, but with a slight air of an attempted accent that goes in and out depending on whether he's cursing or not. "Your Highness" sometimes relies to heavily on its vulgar tendencies without having the wit and charm of its humor that usually cushion the blow of repetitive F-bombs, but its scope and talented cast allow for it to remain on track and for the most part an enjoyable ride all the way through to its predictable conclusion.

HANNA Review

Director Joe Wright may not be one of the biggest names in filmmaking at the moment, but the guy has been doing interesting things in the field for a good six years now and with "Hanna" it feels he may begin to receive some much deserved recognition. I have been interested in his career since 2007's "Atonement" a film that brought a complex novel to the big screen with an almost flawless transition of words to image. With "Hanna" Wright sets a completely different tone for himself as a filmmaker while still retaining the same style that makes his films completely their own. "Hanna" in essence is a simple on the run from the bad guys thriller, but it is intelligent in its design, and slick in its execution. It is a film that proves even though you may have heard a story before, it is the way one expresses it that makes it new and exciting. This is a truly engaging film, a refreshing look at what dramatic action films can be, here's hoping more directors take cue's from what Wright has done here.


It was nice to see Wright re-team with Saoirse Ronan as well, the young actress who portrayed 13 year-old Briony in the aforementioned "Atonement" takes the title role here and is the main reason the film works as well as it does. Had it been any other 15 or 16 year-old actress in the part it seems the audience might have had trouble buying into the idea one so young and so fragile could do so much damage. As Hanna we see Ronan evolve from a sheltered young girl who has been raised for a single purpose to one that is able to explore and learn about the world around her from those she encounters as she tries to escape from the woman she was raised to kill. In the supporting roles, Eric Bana gets his best role in years as Hanna's father and an ex-CIA man who keeps Hanna alert as well as on a need-to-know basis only. Wright uses this technique as well, only divulging information to the audience in very limited amounts as the film moves along. We rarely know what to expect or why exactly characters do the things they do. As with Cate Blanchett's Marissa Wiegler, we are unsure as to what exactly she wants with Hanna and why she will go to such lengths to do away with her. Not giving anything away, the reasoning is somewhat of a let down, but not in a way that made me question the credibility of the film. It works, and it makes sense, but I was hoping for something more. It was the only aspect of the film that left me somewhat unsatisfied. It is what kept me from giving the film a perfect five-star rating, because even now, the more I think about the film, the more I like it.

What is so engaging about Wright's work is his ability to compose a single package from so many different elements. The musical score here is not just background noise meant to evoke the tone of the film to the ear, it is intended to heighten the fantastic images he is putting on screen. Having the Chemical Brothers, a duo mainly known for their big beat electronic dance sound scored the entire picture and they lend the movie not only great music, but a basis for what the entire film is meant to feel like. The music creates a definitive and original mood, and drives the moving images past what exactly is going on in the plot. It is this kind of innovative thinking along with stand-out performances that only enhance the film past its basic storyline. And much like his other films, Wright and his team strive to tell a story not only through the words in the script but in the way the shots are put together. We can tell this is done with the intention of not wanting to draw attention to it, the camera changes are very subtle, but as he did with the single 10-minute steady cam shot in "Atonement" he again here leaves a mark of brilliance with a one-take sequence where Eric Bana goes from walking an empty street alone to fighting off countless CIA agents. It is seemingly breathtaking and exhilarating once you realize what you are experiencing.

There are many moments like this throughout the film and that fact only brings me back to the point that Mr. Wright will only continue to grow and make bigger, better films than the already great ones he has produced. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, believing that it is solid proof of what great pieces of genre cinema can be when made by a mind that truly goes to their fullest extent in ever aspect of the movie making process. Director Wright has demonstrated that time and time again and it is now time for him to move even further up in the world of definitive filmmakers. As much as I enjoyed "Hanna" and as good a film as it is, it is just the next step in a career that is destined to turn out some of the best all-around films of this generation. "Hanna" is certainly my favorite film so far this year.


HANNA Review

Director Joe Wright may not be one of the biggest names in filmmaking at the moment, but the guy has been doing interesting things in the field for a good six years now and with "Hanna" it feels he may begin to receive some much deserved recognition. I have been interested in his career since 2007's "Atonement" a film that brought a complex novel to the big screen with an almost flawless transition of words to image. With "Hanna" Wright sets a completely different tone for himself as a filmmaker while still retaining the same style that makes his films completely their own. "Hanna" in essence is a simple on the run from the bad guys thriller, but it is intelligent in its design, and slick in its execution. It is a film that proves even though you may have heard a story before, it is the way one expresses it that makes it new and exciting. This is a truly engaging film, a refreshing look at what dramatic action films can be, here's hoping more directors take cue's from what Wright has done here.

INSIDIOUS Review

"Insidious" may easily be the best original horror film we have seen in a long while and maybe even the best scary movie we will see in theaters all year, but to go ahead and get it out there, I was disappointed in the last forty or so minutes of the film. Director James Wan, who made the first "Saw" movie and had very little if nothing at all to do with the other six films returns to the directors chair for a throwback to simple story, simple scares and a hauntingly gothic set of eyes through which we see this story told. "Insidious" doesn't try to be anything it is not, it doesn't attempt to appeal to anyone who isn't in the mood for some scares. In its first hour, it is truly chilling and haunting and then, sadly, it all goes to hell.


Wan photographs the film with a very sleek but gray coated palette, from the opening moments of the film we get a feel for the pacing and tone the movie intends to get at its audience with. It is slightly slow, but not boring. It is always with an air of cautiousness that we continue to stare at the screen and with a frightened hope that nothing truly terrible ever happens to this family we begin to follow. With Patrick Wilson, the classic good looks actor who you know you've seen in many things before but still may not know his name as well as Rose Byrne, in the leading roles we are immediately given a strong sense of normality. Byrne is a stay at home mother who is also some kind of songwriter and Wilson, as her husband, is a teacher that from the beginning gives us something to question about his character. The two older leads play up the scares and seem to enjoy this kind of method acting of putting themselves in an old Stoker-like film. They help to build the tension and they honestly help us to believe everything we are made to learn through the film, but even their committed performances can't sustain that final act.

The "hook" here is that it is a child that is haunted, not the house in which the family inhabits, but audiences have seen their fair share of possessed kid films and that isn't really what sets "Insidious" apart as a horror film. What sets the movie apart is that there is no gore, no easy gimmicks and with our horror films of late so heavily relying on those elements for scares it is refreshing to see a movie that simply makes you nervous watching it because everything about it is composed to make your skin crawl. In fact it is at around the point Lin Shaye's character shows up and begins giving explanation as to what is wrong with the child and that it has something to do with "Astral Projection" or something of the sort that we start to laugh at the film, that we begin to see the gimmicks peeping their heads out and that is about the time you should head for the door because after that great first hour of genuine scares you are now in for a pile of ridiculous.

I won't spoil anything or give any more details into how the film is resolved or even wonder why they left the ending open for what will no doubt be horrible and pointless sequels that will only diminish the credibility of the first half of this film even more. What I will point out though is that while the first half of the film allows us glimpses of these demons and creatures from the other side, the second half overloads us with them and we tire of seeing pale women and creepy old men dressed up in 1920's garb with blood covering them. It begins to look like a cheap haunted house you would visit on Halloween rather than the upscale scary movie you thought you were watching after the first hour of the film. It is such a sad fact to face, I wanted this to be a new stage for scary movies, but instead this will no doubt only be remembered for its stale final act, not the horrific family haunting we believed we had stumbled on after that first scare made us jump out of our seats.


INSIDIOUS Review

"Insidious" may easily be the best original horror film we have seen in a long while and maybe even the best scary movie we will see in theaters all year, but to go ahead and get it out there, I was disappointed in the last forty or so minutes of the film. Director James Wan, who made the first "Saw" movie and had very little if nothing at all to do with the other six films returns to the directors chair for a throwback to simple story, simple scares and a hauntingly gothic set of eyes through which we see this story told. "Insidious" doesn't try to be anything it is not, it doesn't attempt to appeal to anyone who isn't in the mood for some scares. In its first hour, it is truly chilling and haunting and then, sadly, it all goes to hell.

SOURCE CODE Review

Jake Gyllenhaal is an interesting actor. He isn't necessarily a huge name in the film industry but still manages a leading man quality that makes him instantly recognizable and charming. His choice of roles lend him a very credible reputation, but it is clear the guy wants to be a movie star. with his past two attempts at this (Prince of Persia and Love & Other Drugs) received lukewarm reviews as well as box office numbers, although I thoroughly enjoyed both of them, what his latest role affords him is a chance to both be looked at as a credible, indie actor with big movie star appeal. "Source Code" is a science fiction lovers dream, it is an emotionally charged story that functions only through the science of its story. It is pure in its genre and though it never reaches a point that signals the film ever really got going, it is no doubt a smart film and one that will leave you discussing its complicated plot as you leave the theater.


Director Duncan Jones, whose only previous feature "Moon" is a science fiction gem in its own right, proves he has a real skill for studying the human psyche. As Gyllenhaal's Captain Colter Stevens awakes to open the film we find him on a train and along with him we have no idea as to how he got there. In what could have been a mess of a plot that easily parodied "Groundhog Day" Jones instead grips us from the very beginning and cleanly lets the details unfold as to why Stevens is there and what exactly is going on around him. Jones allows us to stay close to Stevens, only ever knowing as much as he does, we are on the edge of our seats as well wondering how this is all possible and in what way the "source code' can actually function. What makes the film all the more intriguing is the idea that explains how all of this might be possible, of course it doesn't seem something like this could ever truly be plausible, but the creator of source code played here by Jeffrey Wright sure does make it sound convincing.

Speaking of Wright, while he adds some nice weight to the casting his character is a cliche ridden mad scientist who only wants what will benefit his project and a will to easily dismiss anything that hinders that goal of seeing his creation flourish. It is almost laughable when he spouts some of his lines, but the presence of Vera Farmiga only helps. Farmiga isn't given much to do except be a face on a computer screen, but it is the female presence in this film (much like the one in "Moon") that anchor our protagonist and make them come to their epiphanies of what is truly valuable in life and what exactly is worth living for. Demonstrating this even more so than Farmiga here is the adorable Michelle Monaghan, not only does she escalate Gyllenhaal's performance to something that is truly worth taking note of in the film, but she adds a romantic story line to the film that doesn't feel forced. A developing love interest in a sci-fi story could always come off as something to allow the story to appeal to a broader audience, but here it feels genuine and needed. it is the rock on which Stevens builds his case to carry out his duties.

There will no doubt be spectators who find plot holes and question the logic of some of the points the film asks us to believe it is best to just take the film as it comes. I may have not fully understood how everything worked, but I understood what made this possible and more importantly, why it mattered. It is an engaging film, and Director Jones paces his film so as the concept never gets tiring and so that his audience is involved from that first moment the first bomb goes off. It also makes Gyllenhaal seem more and more like the movie star he wants to be, an action hero but one who functions within a film that has its priorities in order.


SOURCE CODE Review

Jake Gyllenhaal is an interesting actor. He isn't necessarily a huge name in the film industry but still manages a leading man quality that makes him instantly recognizable and charming. His choice of roles lend him a very credible reputation, but it is clear the guy wants to be a movie star. with his past two attempts at this (Prince of Persia and Love & Other Drugs) received lukewarm reviews as well as box office numbers, although I thoroughly enjoyed both of them, what his latest role affords him is a chance to both be looked at as a credible, indie actor with big movie star appeal. "Source Code" is a science fiction lovers dream, it is an emotionally charged story that functions only through the science of its story. It is pure in its genre and though it never reaches a point that signals the film ever really got going, it is no doubt a smart film and one that will leave you discussing its complicated plot as you leave the theater.