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.

COWBOYS & ALIENS Review

The big fuss around "Cowboys and Aliens" is in fact that wink and nod of a title that suggests many things that this genre mash-up could possibly be. Upon hearing the title you might initially think more Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino fare than that of Jon Favreau but the director behind "Iron man" has shown he is quite comfortable with bringing us a fun-filled, big budget summer blockbuster or two and continues his winning streak even if with each film he seems to be losing a bit of his edge. With "Cowboys and Aliens" Favreau has found an interesting concept and one that appeals to the geek within us all but it was really depending on the execution of what this combination could bring that would determine whether or not this would be everything the title promised it might be. For the most part this is a movie that knows exactly what it is and delivers on every level that we should expect it to with high marks. Still, something just seems to be lacking. With so much talent behind and in front of the camera you have to wonder why this simply wasn't more innovative or at the very least creative. What could have easily been one of the most exciting experiences at the theater this summer turns out to be nothing more than something entertaining to pass the time with. Could be worse I guess, but could have been so much better.

Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up with an
unknown accessory on his wrist.
The one facet of "Cowboys and Aliens" no one could disagree with is the fact it is a good time. There is nothing that will essentially make you not enjoy the film. It has everything: action, aliens, gunslingers, girls, bits of humor, beautiful cinematography and a host of actors that possess enough charisma to overflow one hundred space ships. Still, as an avid film lover I couldn't help but hold out hope for something more inventive than a story line that basically copies numerous old western plots and places the aliens in place of the escaped, on-the-run fugitive. The film opens with Daniel Craig's Jake Lonergan waking up in the desert with no memory of his past and a mysterious mechanical bracelet attached to his wrist. Lonergan wanders into the nearest town in hopes of finding some answers and stumbles on a town ruled over by the local cattle herder and former Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde as played by Harrison Ford. It is just as exciting to see Bond and Indy team up as you might imagine it would be, but we almost wish their characters were more of allies so we could possibly get a glimpse of how the two would really work together. Instead Ford is forced to play the old crony that ignorantly sticks up for his spoiled son (Paul Dano) and Craig plays it all solemn and stone-faced as an outlaw who apparently has stolen from Dolarhyde in the past. Olivia Wilde continues to allow her nerd side to show as she plays Ella, a woman clearly not letting on all she knows as well as Sam Rockwell and even David O'Hara showing up to play what are nothing more than western stock characters. Still, leave it to Rockwell to make even the most plain of characters engaging.

Aliens invade the Old West.
The first half hour or so of "Cowboys and Aliens" is nearly perfect. Favreau sets the tone, and its not the one you might expect. He and cinematographer Matthew Libatique capture the vast blue skies filled with epic white clouds against character silhouettes. The dry, barren landscapes are contrasted perfectly with the Arizona canyons and the flourishing greens of the forests this mixed gang of townsfolk and outlaws travel through. And this movie is taking the premise as seriously as it can be. From the moment Craig's Lonergan disposes of four men in a split second in the opening moments we feel that sense of danger and of rawness that the old west no doubt possessed every moment of the day. When Lonergan wanders into Absolution and shuts down the cocky son of richest man in town to the near stand off between Rockwell and Dano it almost feels as if Favreau just wanted to make a good ole' western but knew that would never fly in the middle of summer even if he did have Bond and Indiana Jones in his movie. In fact, the film only starts to feel generic when the extra terrestrials start to show up. Their first attack under the night sky of Arizona in 1873 is somewhat thrilling and to see the townspeople react as if they were demons makes sense and gives us a glimpse at what the psyche of this story could have really evolved into. That yes, this may be like every other alien invasion movie you've seen but you have never seen aliens invade in a different time period. You have never been given any reason to wonder how people of the old west may have reacted to floating ships in the sky. That is the intrigue, that is the promise that came with the title that goes unfulfilled.

Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and Doc (Sam Rockwell)
contemplate a plan that might free their child and wife from
the unearthly visitors.
Maybe the most disappointing aspect of this experiment in genre smashing though is the look and character of the aliens. Instead of feeling labored over and thought provoking, these outer space visitors feel like second rate knock offs of what we saw in Ridley Scotts first "Alien" film over thirty years ago. There is no striving to be original in that aspect, they feel generic and when a character is sharing the billing they simply can't be pushed to the side in hopes that no one will notice how lame they actually are. It is sad to say the cowboys are far more interesting than the aliens and neither give us a real reason to root for one over the other, but I guess that's what happens when you have over eight people working on a script. A bunch of overstuffed ideas crammed down to individual moments and shaped into a story line that follows every rule any John Wayne movie ever made. "Cowboys and Aliens" never lives up to that promise I held for it upon first seeing the preview but in the end we get to see our hero ride off into the sunset as he should and in what is maybe the best thing about this movie is the fact we don't have to watch that sunset in 3-D.


COWBOYS & ALIENS Review

The big fuss around "Cowboys and Aliens" is in fact that wink and nod of a title that suggests many things that this genre mash-up could possibly be. Upon hearing the title you might initially think more Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino fare than that of Jon Favreau but the director behind "Iron man" has shown he is quite comfortable with bringing us a fun-filled, big budget summer blockbuster or two and continues his winning streak even if with each film he seems to be losing a bit of his edge. With "Cowboys and Aliens" Favreau has found an interesting concept and one that appeals to the geek within us all but it was really depending on the execution of what this combination could bring that would determine whether or not this would be everything the title promised it might be. For the most part this is a movie that knows exactly what it is and delivers on every level that we should expect it to with high marks. Still, something just seems to be lacking. With so much talent behind and in front of the camera you have to wonder why this simply wasn't more innovative or at the very least creative. What could have easily been one of the most exciting experiences at the theater this summer turns out to be nothing more than something entertaining to pass the time with. Could be worse I guess, but could have been so much better.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER Review

Our summer of super heroes goes out on a rather high note with "Captain America: The First Avenger". I was skeptical about this one from the get-go though, hiring a director like Joe Johnston who has made plenty of fun and youth oriented flicks like "Jumanji" and most importantly "The Rocketeer" but who also made one of last years biggest bombs with "The Wolfman" was a little unnerving. This kind of mentality mixed with the casting of the charismatic Chris Evans whose only real draw back was the fact he already played a Marvel super hero in "The Fantastic Four" films made the doubtful end of the see-saw much heavier than the optimistic side. I envisioned a much more credible actor in the role, especially if this guy is going to lead next summers most ambitious film to box office gold and glowing reviews. Credit must be given where it is due though and Evans turns in a dedicated and honest performance that makes this origin tale of the first avenger not only good fun but a great prelude to what is sure to be next summers biggest film.

Captain America (Chris Evans) is welcomed back
by cheers after a daring rescue. 
What is truly impressive here is the fact Johnston and crew were able to accomplish all that needed to be done in a brief two hours. In having to both tie in the good ole captain to the present world after telling his origin story from World War II as well as giving a glimpse of the root of all this evil that will unite the comic book universe's greatest heroes, these guys had a lot on their plates and they accomplished all in a manner that doesn't feel rushed and is just as well-made as its counter part "Thor" and just as much fun as the great "X-Men: First Class" all of which trump the debacle that was "The Green Lantern". But let us forget all the exterior factors that surround this movie and simply talk about this one and why it is in fact a worthy addition to the Marvel cannon. "Captain America" in reality is a bit of a corny hero so to transfer this to the big screen in this day and age when comic book films are expected to be dark and gritty took some very careful planning. One thing the film nails is the casting, especially with the supporting players. Without them, the dialogue they are asked to speak would no doubt sound rather stale, but Tommy Lee Jones as an old school military chief is both funny and intimidating enough to be taken seriously. Stanley Tucci could have turned his scientist character who creates the serum that transforms Steve Rogers into Captain America into a complete stereotype but instead he adds flair, even through is exaggerated accent. And that isn't even everyone on the good guys side. To get someone like Dominic Cooper to play a young Howard Stark (father of Tony) is ingenious as was getting Hayley Atwell, a young actress with indie cred, to play the against type leading female role. Both of these young actors add weight to a premise that might have otherwise gone without a single thought provoking idea.

Hugo Weaving as the evil Red Skull.
On the other side of things we are given a pitch perfect Hugo Weaving in what might be the most impressive comic to screen make-up job ever. As Red Skull, Weaving not only accentuates every ounce of his characters eccentricities but he makes them and his lunacy palpable. It is a moment when he rips away his human face and reveals the beet red chrome underneath. It is a complete success in terms of staying faithful while not looking ridiculous. In short, it is the best possible way the makers could have pulled off the look of this demonic character while appeasing the fans who couldn't wait to see such a legendary character grace the screen. It also doesn't hurt that Weaving is given Toby Jones to play his faithful sidekick, who is more Jimmy Olsen than Igor. Together, these guys are trying to harness the source of Odin's legendary power. Red Skulls alter ego Johann Schmidt was a failed experiment of Tucci's character and so America is lucky to have the only other super soldier out there, thus it is Captain America's duty to stop the Red Skull from doing what all bad guys want to do when they gain control of an unimaginable source of power: take over the world. Before the good captain gets to fly into action though we get a nice little montage of Evans in the classic Captain America outfit acting as spokesman on a publicity tour for the military that eventually takes him to the front lines. It is the little details and nods to the audience such as this that make this film relate to a modern audience. We can see when Evans strolls out on stage reading cue cards from the back of his shield in an attempt to get money donated that the makers are winking at the audience. We get the nods to action adventures of yesteryear when Captain America rides through the forest on his motorcycle and takes out the henchmen or as he runs from the fire engulfing the compound where he's just rescued his fellow soldiers. I guess the trick is that "Captain America" doesn't in fact take itself too seriously and is instead a throwback itself to those fun, involving action packed film you watched as a 10-year-old and were completely enthralled with.

Captain America in action.
With all the elements this film had to take care of and with all of them being elegantly handled in the films denouement that doesn't exactly wrap things up, but instead sets them up it only makes me and no doubt countless others all the more excited for next summer's "The Avengers" (which you caught a sneak peek of if you hung around after the credits). Evans may not possess the razzmatazz of Downey Jr. or the overwhelming physique of Hemsworth but he honestly stayed true to the spirit of the character that was created for this comic book. In every other role Evans has essentially played various versions of his own witty and slightly quirky self, but he contains that here and instead becomes a 98 pound weakling that is given the opportunity to attain his unreachable dream and does so with true integrity. There is something to be applauded about his performance and in his casting. I was all but hopeful for this project when the details began to emerge yet I was proven wrong on almost every level. Could the movie have done with a little more credibility and a little less cheesiness? Sure, but it also could have been much worse than this finely tuned and very entertaining action flick. Here's to Captain America, our last super hero of the summer, but the first avenger that we can hardly wait to see in action again.


CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER Review

Our summer of super heroes goes out on a rather high note with "Captain America: The First Avenger". I was skeptical about this one from the get-go though, hiring a director like Joe Johnston who has made plenty of fun and youth oriented flicks like "Jumanji" and most importantly "The Rocketeer" but who also made one of last years biggest bombs with "The Wolfman" was a little unnerving. This kind of mentality mixed with the casting of the charismatic Chris Evans whose only real draw back was the fact he already played a Marvel super hero in "The Fantastic Four" films made the doubtful end of the see-saw much heavier than the optimistic side. I envisioned a much more credible actor in the role, especially if this guy is going to lead next summers most ambitious film to box office gold and glowing reviews. Credit must be given where it is due though and Evans turns in a dedicated and honest performance that makes this origin tale of the first avenger not only good fun but a great prelude to what is sure to be next summers biggest film.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 Review

It is with an almost peaceful sadness we bid farewell to one of the most beloved franchises of all time. Peaceful in that we and the characters are sent off with a soft, tranquil, almost melancholy feel yet it is with deep sadness we know we will never get to visit these characters again. Through ten years and eight films we have grown to know and love each of these characters, even the smallest of roles have been here since the beginning and to go out with a bang is somewhat of an understatement when talking about "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2". With a scope larger than any other Potter film, the underlying meaning and substance of every scene seeping through and resonating with the audience this is not only a great Harry Potter film, but a great film in general. Granted, if you haven't seen any of the other films you will be completely lost going into this one but if you haven't seen those you most likely won't see this one and thus this review will be completely written from the point of view of a Harry Potter fan, one who grew up reading the books and saw every film opening weekend. One whose childhood feels as if it is coming to a close with this final Potter film. I'm just saying, there may be a little bias in my opinion. You've been warned.

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) offers up the key
ingredient for some Polyjuice Potion.
Part 2 picks up exactly where Part1 left off. Voldemort has raided Dumbledore's tomb and stolen the elder wand. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have just escaped the clutches of the death eaters and buried their loyal elf and friend, Dobby. What they need to be doing is finding the final horcruxes (seven objects that the evil Lord Voldemort has stored bits of his soul in) so that the physical form of Voldemort may be weakened and our young heroes will be given a better chance to defeat him. While last years part 1 was very much a somber, slow-paced film it dealt with a much different part of the story than this second half does. That first part, along with being what we knew was the beginning of the end was also about these characters finding out who they were outside of Hogwarts. Their entire friendship had been based around this school, this structure of time and routine. We saw all that fall away in part 1 and were given a stripped down character study almost as to how much these characters had grown since first sitting on the stool and having the sorting hat placed on them. And not just the characters, but the actors playing them as well. When we began this journey we knew nothing about our three leads, but over the past ten years we have not only watched them become more and more the characters they are playing on screen, but we have gotten to know them and witnessed them grow up. It is a quality unique to this franchise and at its core is really what makes these films so successful both critically and commercially.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron face many dangers in
"The Deathly Hallows Part 2".
Daniel Radcliffe has truly never been better as Harry here. This final chapter of the series asks alot of our young hero and he is able to deliver if not exceed every challenge that is given to him. Harry must not only face off with Voldemort one on one but he must witness years of built up frustration and mystery diminished in a few seconds and respond accordingly. he must solidify his love for young Ginny as well as witness his two best friends finally admitting they love one another. He must relay that heroic quality about Harry that mixes with stubbornness that allows him to let others help him and to not place the entire weight of the survival of the magical world on his own shoulders. Through all of this Radcliffe displays a firmer and more full understanding of who Harry is and who Radcliffe himself has made him to be. In no better way could "The Deathly Hallows Part 2" have made Harry Potter the hero he needed to be in a more credible or deserving way. As Ron and Hermione, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson continue to play their less pressured but just as high profile roles with ease and understanding. In this final entry we are given the moment many of the series fans have been waiting for since the books even began hinting at a romance between Ron and Hermione. To see these two great young actors fight for one another and kiss like adults just to giggle afterwards as if they were young children fully encapsulates everything that is meaningful about this series. To be given bits of almost every other minor character in the Potter universe, some of whom get a considerable of screen time than ever before, is also one of the many gems of part 2. Whether it be Neville Longbottom, Mrs. Weasley, or Professor McGonagall it is a joy to watch each of them get the moment they deserve and just as heartbreaking to see their faces when all hope seems lost.

Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort settle
thngs once and for all.
The key ingredient of Harry Potters final stand though is what he stands against and that evil has always been distributed evenly among two definitive opponents. Of course there is Lord Voldemort who, as played since film four by the wonderfully menacing Ralph Fiennes, is the key to making right all that is wrong with the wizarding world and then there is Severus Snape whose story is a bit more complicated. As he has played him in all previous chapters, Alan Rickman excels once again and really deserves some recognition for this most complicated character he has delivered flawlessly over the years. The audience has known since day one at Hogwarts that there was something off about Snape, that an underlying reason was given to his especially strong distaste for Harry Potter, and as the series has moved along that relationship has become not only more and more complicated but muddier as well. Snape's motive's always unclear, his action not always seeming to make sense. One of the most beautiful things about "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" is the way the film so elegantly wraps up the story of Severus Snape. I won't give any spoilers away here, especially if you haven't read the book, but to see that true intent of Snape show through, to be given that glimpse behind the curtain and share in one especially touching moment between Snape and Harry is to have witnessed the full circle in which this final film brings the entire eight-film saga.

From the wonderfully executed Gringotts break-in sequence to that final stand-off between Harry and Voldemort, "The Deathly Hallows Part 2" hardly stops to take a breather, but it never feels overloaded and each large action sequence is filled with more meaning and substance than any cinephile could ask for out of a big budget hollywood film. This is a more than satisfactory conclusion to a series I myself have been enthralled with since I was 12 years-old. It is packed to the brim with action, loaded down with emotional punches and we mere muggles should just be happy that such credible and high quality films have been made out of what is no doubt one of the best literary works of many generations. I cannot imagine the disappointment I would have felt had these film adaptations been turned into mainstream Hollywood money-grubbers, and can appreciate how lucky we are as an audience to have been given eight films that have truly been cared about enough to justify that source material to the loyal and devoted fans as well as being strong enough to convert others who would never have picked up one of the books. Harry Potter ends just the way it should, our three heroes still friends and defining the meaning of that friendship in a touching epilogue that tells the audience things will be okay, even if we know we will never catch a glimpse of them on the big screen again.


HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 Review

It is with an almost peaceful sadness we bid farewell to one of the most beloved franchises of all time. Peaceful in that we and the characters are sent off with a soft, tranquil, almost melancholy feel yet it is with deep sadness we know we will never get to visit these characters again. Through ten years and eight films we have grown to know and love each of these characters, even the smallest of roles have been here since the beginning and to go out with a bang is somewhat of an understatement when talking about "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2". With a scope larger than any other Potter film, the underlying meaning and substance of every scene seeping through and resonating with the audience this is not only a great Harry Potter film, but a great film in general. Granted, if you haven't seen any of the other films you will be completely lost going into this one but if you haven't seen those you most likely won't see this one and thus this review will be completely written from the point of view of a Harry Potter fan, one who grew up reading the books and saw every film opening weekend. One whose childhood feels as if it is coming to a close with this final Potter film. I'm just saying, there may be a little bias in my opinion. You've been warned.

HORRIBLE BOSSES Review

What do you get when you take an outlandish premise that every middle class American can relate to, mix it with a cast chock full of more diverse talent than any other comedy in recent memory (maybe of any film this year) and let them both free to wander where the wind takes them? "Horrible Bosses" is a pretty good idea of what you would get. Fast paced, hilarious, and cleverly written this raunchy summer comedy is seemingly what we've been waiting for since "The Hangover Part II" turned out to be more rehash than genuine effort. We have been pretty lucky in the R-rated comedy department this summer; along with "Bridesmaids" and "Bad Teacher" (which I seemed to like more than most) and the other upcoming Bateman film which takes the whole body switching comedy to R-rated levels, "Horrible Bosses" just feels like the epitome of all this hard work for real, funny, raunchy comedies to be a constant. There is no longer a need to water things down to PG-13 to try and make a bigger profit. The studios are finally seeming to see that grown up comedies will appeal to just as wide an audience if not wider and let us thank the movie Gods for that because we would have been missing out on some of the biggest laughs this year had the makers of "Horrible Bosses" been asked to tame things down. Instead, our three leads including the king of dry one liners Jason Bateman and the dream duo that is Jason Sudeikis (SNL) and Charlie Day(It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) who both co-starred in last years under-rated "Going the Distance" combine to form a trio of friends who take those hypothetical bar conversations and push them to epic proportions.

Jason Bateman and Kevin Spacey have a
hate/hate relationship.
Each of the three works under what are exaggerated characters of individuals with serious ego trips. Bateman, who works at some kind of big corporate firm is under the supervision of a menacing Kevin Spacey. As Dave Harken, Spacey is probably the character who most lives up to the films title and is also the one who gets more screen time out of the three reasons our main characters are pushed to do what they feel is necessary. You will probably be surprised at how far they actually go with this plot especially including Harken and a few subplots that allow the film to round out its conclusion rather nicely if not a little smoother than it should have been. As for Sudeikis, he works at a chemical plant and loves his job and his boss (a nice little cameo from Donald Sutherland) that is until Sutherland suddenly keels over and leaves his coke head son Bobby in charge of the business. Bobby, as portrayed by Colin Farrell is the most outrageous of the bosses and is the one who goes criminally underused. Farrell totally transforms into this drugged out karate obsessed weirdo with the worlds worst comb over. He doesn't care to carry on the company his dad built a great legacy out of (that's Sudeikis' lot in life), no, Bobby only wants to squeeze as much money out of the place as he can and then head for the beaches. As for Charlie Day, clearly the breakout star here, his boss is certainly the least troubling, but it is fun to watch Jennifer Aniston go all against type and finally do something a little different than playing the girl who is looking for love. Here, she is just the girl looking for trouble.

Jennifer Aniston attempts to take
advantageof Charlie Day.
The whole flow and tone of the film is set from frame one as we are introduced to each of our main characters and subsequently their bosses. Director Seth Gordon who is probably best known for his debut documentary "King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" has lately been directing episodes of "The Office", "Modern Family", "Community" and "Parks & Rec" has certainly picked up on a few tricks of the trade from these great comedic sitcoms and helps this feature not to feel so broad that it gives into its outlandish premise but instead focuses in on the camaraderie his three leading men share and it plays to those strengths. throwing Jamie Foxx in the mix as a stereotypical African American who promises the guys he can help with their murder plans doesn't hurt either. As Dean "Motherfu*#$" Jones, Foxx only has a few scenes, but Like Farrell and Aniston they give such a strong impression it is unavoidable that you ultimately want more of the film. In fact, if I were to make one strong complaint about the film it would be about how easily everything gets wrapped up at the end and how quickly. I didn't want to stop hanging out with these guys and that is the strongest weapon in a comedy directors arsenal: to have characters you want to hang out with and see succeed. "Horrible Bosses" accomplishes that to the fullest.

Colin Farrell and Jason Sudeikis square off
in "Horrible Bosses". 
In all honesty it kind of feels like "Horrible Bosses" may be that breakout comedy of the summer. Where "Bridemaids" has commanded the attention for women comedians and given them a strong showing, "Horrible Bosses" has matched it with the classic mans man comedy. An almost flashback to the 80's when R-rated comedies were all you would expect from the top comedians in Hollywood. I am so glad we are going back towards that, now, almost in full swing. Everyone involved here deserves kudos for branching out but without the way Bateman can deliver those simple lines and turn them into comedy gold or the way Sudeikis fully embodies this wannabe smooth talker that's attractive enough to get the girls but still socially inappropriate to Day's star making turn with his shrill-voiced, spastic antics and delivery this movie would not have come close to reaching the heights of which it has. This is comedy gold in my books and I enjoyed every minute of it. Leave the kids at home, if you haven't been to the theater in a while take a night off and go see this with a big crowd and enjoy the huge bursts of laughter this film will keep rolling out.


HORRIBLE BOSSES Review

What do you get when you take an outlandish premise that every middle class American can relate to, mix it with a cast chock full of more diverse talent than any other comedy in recent memory (maybe of any film this year) and let them both free to wander where the wind takes them? "Horrible Bosses" is a pretty good idea of what you would get. Fast paced, hilarious, and cleverly written this raunchy summer comedy is seemingly what we've been waiting for since "The Hangover Part II" turned out to be more rehash than genuine effort. We have been pretty lucky in the R-rated comedy department this summer; along with "Bridesmaids" and "Bad Teacher" (which I seemed to like more than most) and the other upcoming Bateman film which takes the whole body switching comedy to R-rated levels, "Horrible Bosses" just feels like the epitome of all this hard work for real, funny, raunchy comedies to be a constant. There is no longer a need to water things down to PG-13 to try and make a bigger profit. The studios are finally seeming to see that grown up comedies will appeal to just as wide an audience if not wider and let us thank the movie Gods for that because we would have been missing out on some of the biggest laughs this year had the makers of "Horrible Bosses" been asked to tame things down. Instead, our three leads including the king of dry one liners Jason Bateman and the dream duo that is Jason Sudeikis (SNL) and Charlie Day(It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) who both co-starred in last years under-rated "Going the Distance" combine to form a trio of friends who take those hypothetical bar conversations and push them to epic proportions.

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON Review

It may be outlandish to even consider using the words Michael Bay and masterpiece in the same sentence to most critics and cinephiles, but the third "Transformers" flick is pretty much indeed that. I have always thought of the over-the-top, no holds barred, but often hilarious "Bad Boys II" as the epitome of everything Bay and in the R-rated realm it most definitely is, but in terms of pure action, excitement, and epically grand scale, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" will go down as the biggest of them all. I love movies and everything about them, I enjoy a good indie drama or small, character driven comedy. I like a good, quality animated film and I especially enjoy broad comedies with ensemble casts and authentic adaptations but I am in no way a lover of film who is ever too good to dismiss the quality of fun. If he weren't trying it would be a completely different story, but it is apparent by the improvements from "Revenge of the Fallen" to this third entry that Bay really does try and that he truly does care about the story he is telling and I believe, genuinely wants to deliver a great film that the fans will enjoy. This isn't a film made for the crowds who will look at it and view it for what it is lacking in character development or even story structure. This is for the audiences who crave escapism and Bay is firing on all cylinders here.

Shia LaBeouf and John Turturro once again team
up to help the Autobots.
No matter who you are, you cannot deny the visual magician that Bay is. He goes for the iconic moments, he creates these images that burn into your brain and he stages the most epic battle between good and evil that has likely ever been put to film. In the last hour of the film we watch as decepticons and autobots ravage and defend Chicago. Skyscrapers fall, cars are but little dead ants on the street from any of the robots view and as the ever-persistent Sam Witwicky and his friends in the military run through the streets doing their best to help the autobots win the war and stop the baddies from bringing Cybertron to earth we are stuck in a state of awe as an audience member. That final hour is really the bit that is Bay's masterpiece. He finally seems to meld that human and machine element into one coherent story and connection, he captures real (not CGI) human beings dropping like flies out of an airplane so we see them soar through the rubble and into the heat of the disaster. The real complaint here is one that was the same with "Fallen" and that is the wish that Bay would have understood the storyline didn't have to be so convulted and prolonged. The audience is here for fun and excitement, you know that, why is it necessary to drown us with an hour and a half of exposition before you really get to what you want to do anyway? To get to that glory of that final battle we do get plenty of foreword, but never did I find myself bored or checking my watch. Sure, alot of it is unnecessary, but in a way it almost justifies paying extra for the 3-D and the Imax screening.

Sentinel Prime (voice of Leonard Nimoy) and
Optimus Prime are reacquainted on Earth. 
The story is nowhere near as complicated as "Fallen" though and Bay enlists some rather credible actors to keep the story moving forward. John Malkovich gets to ham it up as an overly tan business man who hires Sam on for his first job and helps him to solve questions surrounding the mystery of the transformers history with earth. Frances McDormand pops up in a few scenes, fast-talking and super serious as some kind of government official. McDormand carries the perfect balance of artistic and sarcastic credibility to pull off this role perfectly (especially in the context of her presence in the film period). Then there is Patrick Dempsey who is ultimately playing what is no doubt some kind of version of Patrick Dempsey and though his character is probably better suited for a Friday night sitcom, one thing he does well is make the new girl look good. In a surprising twist Megan Fox's replacement (who, if you're wondering is dismissed with two lines "She broke up with me. I moved on to something better.") Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who plays Carly is actually much more appealing than Fox's Mikaela ever was. Whiteley may not be the next Oscar winning actress but she isn't anywhere near awful and the relationship her and Sam share seems much more affectionate than he and his previous lovers did. John Turturro, Tyrese, and Josh Duhamel are all back as well, but these characters don't add as much extra or unnecessary story here as they did in the second installment. And as for Shia, you gotta give this guy credit, he has acted opposite giant robots for three films now and he is just as sharp if not moreso than he has ever been. He seems to understand the essence of his character to the core here and he is nowhere near as whiny as he was in "Fallen". LaBeouf is likeable and charismatic in a way we never expected yet he brings a serious level of acting to a part most would dismiss as a joke. How easy is it to conjure up tears because you are about to watch your first car get killed? Not an easy task, but LaBeouf makes you feel it and that is something considering how ridiculous that previous sentence even sounds.

Sam and Carly try to escape the wrath of the
Decepticons in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon".
Bay has completed his trilogy with what might be the best out of them all. He listened, but never conformed. He improved on his previous films without losing sight of what he knows his target audience wants to see. And it is not a bad sign for America that there is a target audience for this kind of film. If I saw a "Transformers" movie when I was ten years old my mind would have been blown. The pure thrill that every frame of these films offer is breathtaking not to mention that opening sequence where the moon landing is re-enacted really hits home with you. I found myself marveling at what a prestigious and unimaginable honor it must be like to be one of a handful of human beings to ever set foot on another planet. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" may not be perfect and some will argue that it is so far from it they can't believe someone who claims to love movies so much would even think this way. But for a film about huge robots fighting other robots on Earth I'd say this is pretty close to the best kind of movie you could make given that premise. The fact that it is an enjoyable movie without having to apply that condition is a just a plus and an even bigger testament to how talented of a filmmaker Michael Bay truly is. Love him or hate him, the guy is a genius and I hope he continues to make big loud cinema while with every film learning something new and progressing and advancing his skill. There is no doubt he has it, I just want to witness all the places he will go with it.


TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON Review

It may be outlandish to even consider using the words Michael Bay and masterpiece in the same sentence to most critics and cinephiles, but the third "Transformers" flick is pretty much indeed that. I have always thought of the over-the-top, no holds barred, but often hilarious "Bad Boys II" as the epitome of everything Bay and in the R-rated realm it most definitely is, but in terms of pure action, excitement, and epically grand scale, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" will go down as the biggest of them all. I love movies and everything about them, I enjoy a good indie drama or small, character driven comedy. I like a good, quality animated film and I especially enjoy broad comedies with ensemble casts and authentic adaptations but I am in no way a lover of film who is ever too good to dismiss the quality of fun. If he weren't trying it would be a completely different story, but it is apparent by the improvements from "Revenge of the Fallen" to this third entry that Bay really does try and that he truly does care about the story he is telling and I believe, genuinely wants to deliver a great film that the fans will enjoy. This isn't a film made for the crowds who will look at it and view it for what it is lacking in character development or even story structure. This is for the audiences who crave escapism and Bay is firing on all cylinders here.

LARRY CROWNE Review

For a film directed, co-written, and starring one of the best actors of our generation "Larry Crowne" is surprisingly plain. There isn't really a better way to explain or sum up the film or the character for that matter. Throughout his career Tom Hanks has been a part of many impressive films and created a number of memorable characters, but with one that he chooses to take on many roles with, one that he had a hand in creating you would think there would be more to it. That there was a real underlying reason, a spark about this character that not only made Hanks want to create and control the characters world, but to inhabit the role as well. Instead, as Larry Crowne Hanks seems to be embodying the public personification that is Tom Hanks. A humble, well-meaning, polite man who just wants to enjoy life and do the right thing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, there is nothing wrong with watching Tom Hanks for what does feel like a brief hour and a half, but it just really feels like so much is missing here and throwing a supporting cast filled with great actors like Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston, and Taraji P. Henson isn't going to fill that void.

Larry Crowne considers college after his neighbors
(Cedric the Entertainer and Taraji P. Hanson)
encourage him to do so. 
"Larry Crowne" tells the story of a man who served twenty years as a cook in the navy, retired and has since worked at a Wal-Mart like super store for ten years or so. He is divorced, no kids, but enjoys his job and is good at it hence the ninth employee of the month award he expects to win when he is called in for a meeting. Turns out what "Larry Crowne" is actually about is the current economic state and how it is affecting the real bread and butter that make up this wonderful country of ours. Larry is fired from his job due to downsizing and the lack of any higher education other than his high school diploma. This limits him to never moving up in the retail world. With such a quick douse of reality hitting this seamlessly light hearted comedy it is at first unclear what exactly Hanks is trying to say. It is a mystery as to what he is attempting to get across, to prove or even to simply find a voice for. It isn't long though before we get the picture. Yes, the recession serves as a nice backdrop for the story of a man who is forced to start over in life. Turns out the best thing Larry can think to do to begin a more promising anew is to go back to school. This of course, leads to the heart of the film where Hanks meets Roberts and though it isn't standard romantic comedy cliche it does veer dangerously close to being uber cheesy.

Larry Crowne certainly makes an impression on Julia Roberts.
It seems if Hanks really wanted to make a statement about the current economic culture he would have and would have absolutely no problem concocting that, but instead, what he does here is focus on the characters at hand. The set-up is simply that, background information and the real meat of the movie is delved into when Hanks begins his first day of class and quickly makes friends with Talia (the beautiful Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who along with her boyfriend Dell (Wilmer Valderrama) runs a scooter gang that Larry is quickly accepted into which ultimately leads to a whole new persona the slightly gooberish, mostly affable, Crowne is normally associated with. The bad thing is, past this there really isn't much more to Crowne. Sure, he is a nice guy and he does well at adopting to all the changes and shifts in culture that he encounters; and we never feel awkward about the lingering relationship between he and his professor, but there is simply to little to the character to warrant him a feature length film. That is where I question Hanks. Did he not realize this or was it just so late in the process it was too late to step back and realize maybe there wasn't as much substance as he anticipated. No matter what Tom Hanks wanted "Larry Crowne" to be, what it came out looking like is an excuse for Hanks to make a movie with all his friends.

Larry and Talia discuss final exams over a nice cup of coffee.
That is not to say "Larry Crowne" is a bad movie, it's not, but it isn't really that great of one either, especially when you consider the talent backing this thing. The sheer potential it had by that alone warrants much higher expectations than this cute little comedy delivers. There are a handful of laughs and we can see the resolution coming a mile away. That is, if there really is one. Like I said, "Larry Crowne" is almost more character study than narrative story. We don't ever feel cheated into buying a ten dollar movie ticket to sit around and watch Hanks and Roberts hang out with one another simply because they are so likeable, but you might imagine their sense of artistry would make them want to shoot a little higher than that. If you've already made them, cancel your reservations to meet Larry Crowne and reschedule it for when he is released on DVD and blu-ray.


LARRY CROWNE Review

For a film directed, co-written, and starring one of the best actors of our generation "Larry Crowne" is surprisingly plain. There isn't really a better way to explain or sum up the film or the character for that matter. Throughout his career Tom Hanks has been a part of many impressive films and created a number of memorable characters, but with one that he chooses to take on many roles with, one that he had a hand in creating you would think there would be more to it. That there was a real underlying reason, a spark about this character that not only made Hanks want to create and control the characters world, but to inhabit the role as well. Instead, as Larry Crowne Hanks seems to be embodying the public personification that is Tom Hanks. A humble, well-meaning, polite man who just wants to enjoy life and do the right thing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, there is nothing wrong with watching Tom Hanks for what does feel like a brief hour and a half, but it just really feels like so much is missing here and throwing a supporting cast filled with great actors like Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston, and Taraji P. Henson isn't going to fill that void.

EVERYTHING MUST GO Review

I knew not to expect the big broad Will Ferrell comedy going in, but I'm not sure everyone will. The trailer for "Everything Must Go" certainly plays up the comedic parts of the movie; no doubt to appeal to the legions of Ferrell fans, but it was clear this small, reality-based film was not really about Ferrell being funny. No, "Everything Must Go" instead expands on how good of an actor Ferrell truly is. He is a gifted funnyman, notably one of our generations best and history will write him that way but he has also shown us he can do much more. In "Stranger than Fiction" he played a down on his luck everyman destined to die at the hands of an author writing his life story and now in Dan Rush's directorial debut "Everything Must Go" Ferrell is down on his luck again but in a much less fantastical way.



Nick Halsey (Ferrell) takes some time for himself
as he reclines in the front yard.
Ferrell plays Nick Halsey, a vice president at a major corporation who, on the same day, his wife decides to leave him as well as being fired from that high-level job. In the event of his wife leaving she has also changed all the locks on the doors (even the code on the garage) and placed all of Nick's worldly possessions on the front lawn. Seeing as Nick is way too depressed and well on his way to being drunk by six o'clock, there isn't much he thinks to do besides relax in his recliner and enjoy the sunset. It is an engaging premise, a fun one with a quirky quality to it but like all films of this genre it touches on a very specific point, a naturalistic aspect of human society that makes not only the main character realize something about themselves but also speaks to the viewer and comments on the existence we are living in as well. And no, maybe the serious side of "Everything Must Go" won't speak to everyone but the metaphor of putting on a cover for everyone else while trying to conceal all your problems and issues behind closed doors is one we have all been through at one time or another and the idea of letting it all hang out has no doubt also crossed our minds to the point where being able to watch Mr. Halsey physically demonstrate it is a kind of relief.

Halsey and Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace) strike
up a business deal in "Everything Must Go".
Ferrell portrays Halsey as a man who neither asks for our sympathy or tries to make light of his situation. He only says what is required, but he is firm in no longer giving into peoples requests. He has been jaded by a life that he worked so hard to create and was taken away in the blink of an eye. It is clear that Nick doesn't really much care anymore if he is breaking the law by living on his lawn, he doesn't care that the more he drinks the further he relapses, he is living by his own standards and why shouldn't he? He has clearly driven everyone away to a point they don't want to be around him anymore (or to even care to help him) so why should he try to recover once again? In his experience recovery has most likely only been a brief moment that preludes another fall, another misstep in his episodic life. Sitting on his lawn, organizing it into a makeshift living room though opens Nick's eyes to the truth, the reality that he isn't the only one with serious issues and in a way this makes him feel better about himself. He befriends a neighborhood child played by Biggie Smalls real life son Christopher Jordan Wallace and develops a genuine friendship through coaching him on baseball skills and teaching him the methods and tactics of a good salesman. Wallace is a wonder in the role, bringing just the right amount of innocence and light to make Nick's growth and personal development completely real. A new neighbor across the street portrayed by the wonderful Rebecca Hall also adds some weight to the decisions and ultimately changes Nick decides to make. Hall brings a warmth to her role that allows Nick to trust her and thus gives him a clarity about life that seemed to be missing before.

Nick catches up with and old high school friend (Laura Dern).
"Everything Must Go" is rounded out by what are really cameos from both Michael Pena and Laura Dern as a local detective and Nick's sponsor at AA meetings and an old high school friend that lends some much needed advice and company to Nick in a time of serious confusion in the midst of everything that is falling down around him. Director Rush fleshed out even these smaller roles to bring a sense of not only credibility to his main characters situation but to allow the progression of that main character to be completely understood and almost inhabited by the viewer who goes on this journey with Nick. I have probably made this film out to sound much deeper than it actually is, but it carries every theme I have touched on and it really did translate to me with much more sincerity than comically. Sure, it is a light comedy that drags at certain times and probably has a few too many endings, but it is no less a fine film with a fine lead performance from Ferrell that has set the stage for his ever expanding career.


EVERYTHING MUST GO Review

I knew not to expect the big broad Will Ferrell comedy going in, but I'm not sure everyone will. The trailer for "Everything Must Go" certainly plays up the comedic parts of the movie; no doubt to appeal to the legions of Ferrell fans, but it was clear this small, reality-based film was not really about Ferrell being funny. No, "Everything Must Go" instead expands on how good of an actor Ferrell truly is. He is a gifted funnyman, notably one of our generations best and history will write him that way but he has also shown us he can do much more. In "Stranger than Fiction" he played a down on his luck everyman destined to die at the hands of an author writing his life story and now in Dan Rush's directorial debut "Everything Must Go" Ferrell is down on his luck again but in a much less fantastical way.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Review

I am by no means a big fan of Woody Allen films. In fact, most of the time I try to avoid them due to the stigma they have attached to them lately that is due to the filmmaker getting more attention and not necessarily the particular film he has produced that year. Sure, I will check out the ones that seem more highly praised than others. I saw "Match Point" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" as well as the under rated "Cassandra's Dream" but to mess with more recent Allen farces like "Scoop" or "You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger" seem like they might be somewhat of a waste of time. This may be making me out to sound a little ignorant to the ways and the reasons Allen is so beloved as a filmmaker but trust me, I have seen and do understand the significance of his earlier classics like "Manhattan" and most notably "Annie Hall". I have enjoyed his sense of humor and his simplicity with which he not only tells a story but captures it on film. It is maybe the most intriguing thing about his latest, "Midnight in Paris". I fell in love with the film pretty quickly and not just because of Mr. Allen's incredibly fun and creative script, but also because Owen Wilson is pitch perfect as our main character and delivers one of the best performances his career will likely ever see.

Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams take in Paris
with a kiss...
There is nothing outlandish or incredibly defining about Wilson's Gil except for the fact he has this child-like fascination with the city of lights. As a writer of Hollywood screenplays he feels more of a hack than an authentic literary figure and in going along with his fiancees parents on a trip to Paris Gil becomes enthralled with the city or at least the idea of all the magic and the history with all the great writers it possesses. To take such an alluring idea; the thought or opportunity to get to mingle with your idols in the era you wish you could have been alive during is something we have all no doubt considered. For Gil, Paris in the 1920's is a period and a place of artistic freedom, the center of the world for anyone wanting to do anything associated with the arts. Though it may be disillusioned and the characters may be somewhat more creations of myth rather than what they were really like (Hemingway especially) it doesn't matter because this is How Gil sees it, this is what he wants it to have been like and we relish every sweet minute Gil gets to interact with historical figures from the past that feed his need to be a part of something bigger. Allen also sprinkles in a few stars that push Gil to want to get away from his day to day. A perfectly cast Michael Sheen plays the intellectual know-it-all friend of Gil's fiancee who is in turn played by the lovely Rachel McAdams but as nice as it is to see Wilson re-teaming with his "Wedding Crashers" co-star McAdams character seems far to mean and materialistic to convince us that Gil would have ever fallen for her in the first place. What we do buy into though is the sparks that fly between Wilson and Marion Cotillard who has slowly been paving her way as the most credible actress in Hollywood. Here, she plays the mistress of a few famous painters before stumbling upon Gil a man that seems foreign to her and ultimately gives him the insight to realize what Allen is truly trying to get across with his film.

...and later he dances with the lovely Marion Cotillard.
And though Allen, the writer, tries to explore something bigger rather than just giving the idea a bit of fun it never really factors in and the lesson we get from it at the end feels tacked on rather than a developed piece of theme. Even though the thought of our dream decade not being all we envision it to be and that to each decade the one before it was better and held much more promise it is up to each individual to shape the world we live in presently to become a desired decade of the future. There isn't really a more simple way to put that idea into words, but like I said that isn't what matters about "Midnight in Paris" what matters is simply how enjoyable this movie is to watch and discover. Because what is really special about this film is not the idea of trying to learn something from it or attempting to find some philosophical reasoning for the way life works, but instead it is a celebration of the genius and art that came before our time. It is a culmination of wonder and joy, the simple thought of getting to witness Fitzgerald and Hemingway exchange dialogue is enough to send a grin straight to my face, but getting to actually see this occur through the word of a cherished director and the acting of accomplished players is a treat I want to experience over and over again.

Wilson, McAdams, Michael Sheen, and Nina Arianda all
share a drink in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris".
"Midnight in Paris" is both a light comical film that I would rank as one of the top movies of the year so far and a meditation on our own generation and how we pull from and re-invent through what we have learned from the past. That there is a longing to be part of what created or what defined the genre or the area you aspire to be a part of is understandable, but that there is always room for innovation and expansion is something that can never cease to exist. Director Allen treats this subject carefully, letting us experience the joy Gil gets from going out every night and hanging with the masters of his craft, but Allen also lets it be known that it can't go on forever and that too much of a good thing will soon lose its spark and thus become the same mundane flow of life you felt trapped in before. It is easy to love "Midnight in Paris" but it is not hard to dislike the conclusion that the promised joy ultimately comes to offer because we don't want to believe that our minds own perception of something might be completely off.


MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Review

I am by no means a big fan of Woody Allen films. In fact, most of the time I try to avoid them due to the stigma they have attached to them lately that is due to the filmmaker getting more attention and not necessarily the particular film he has produced that year. Sure, I will check out the ones that seem more highly praised than others. I saw "Match Point" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" as well as the under rated "Cassandra's Dream" but to mess with more recent Allen farces like "Scoop" or "You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger" seem like they might be somewhat of a waste of time. This may be making me out to sound a little ignorant to the ways and the reasons Allen is so beloved as a filmmaker but trust me, I have seen and do understand the significance of his earlier classics like "Manhattan" and most notably "Annie Hall". I have enjoyed his sense of humor and his simplicity with which he not only tells a story but captures it on film. It is maybe the most intriguing thing about his latest, "Midnight in Paris". I fell in love with the film pretty quickly and not just because of Mr. Allen's incredibly fun and creative script, but also because Owen Wilson is pitch perfect as our main character and delivers one of the best performances his career will likely ever see.

CARS 2 Review

"Cars" was not my favorite Disney/Pixar production to say the least, in fact it is probably my least favorite. There is no doubt when I heard they would be making a sequel that I questioned their motivation. Why a sequel to your notably worst-reviewed film to date? Certainly it wasn't because of the return on how much the toys made the studios, Pixar isn't that cynical, are they? The partnership between Disney and Pixar has always been one of great artist's integrity, one that was always clearly about the story they were telling and not about the tickets they were selling. They were (and still are for the time being) living proof that authentic, original stories can succeed both critically and commercially in this day and age. And so, it is somewhat disappointing to see them take a step backwards rather than the leap forward they usually makes each year with their latest offering.


Fin McMissile chases down the bad guys.
Of course, this is a Disney/Pixar film so it is measured with pretty high expectations and standards that are no doubt higher than any other in the film industry, but it also means it isn't a complete waste of time and actually has many redeeming qualities. The main thing I recall about my experience with the first "Cars" was how lengthy it felt and how much it seemed to drag. Though I didn't feel that same drag with "Cars 2" it is still a little longer than it has any right to be. At nearly two hours it is a wonder who John Lasseter thinks his main audience is. It is almost as if this spy caper has been made more directly for the parents in the audience rather than their children who can't get enough of Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater. It is also obvious this sequel is much more concerned with Mater, Larry the Cable Guy's cute creation that really is the most likeable aspect of these films. Still, the intricate plot will no doubt confuse the kiddies and have them zonking out before the exciting climax of the film due to that lengthy run time. "Cars 2" is by no means a bad movie, but there isn't anything spectacular about it either. There is no few or even one single element that stands out about it, this movie just exists for what feels like no real reason at all.

Lightning McQueen and Mater get out in the nick of time.
Pixar does have the smarts to know if you're going to make a sequel that one should not simply rehash the original film and they do nothing of the sort here. Whereas the first "Cars" was a story about McQueen learning the real values of life and an interesting view of the history of Americana and the racing world, "Cars 2" also packs a few family-friendly lessons (stay true to who you are, never take friendships for granted) it also comes wrapped in the package of a James Bond film. Giving Mater center stage here wasn't a bad idea either, he is clearly the more outlandish of the two leads and to re-explore and evaluate McQueen again would feel redundant. Instead, Mater learns a lot about himself, why it is important to be the tow truck he wants to be, and even earns him a little secret agent girlfriend in the process. Emily Mortimer voices the sleek Holley Shiftwell and as her advisor Pixar enlisted Michael Caine to voice Fin McMissile, the agent in charge of solving the case Mater accidentally stumbles into and the classiest of all spy cars. Balancing this secret mission story line with that of Lightning McQueen's races in the World Grand Prix are nicely intertwined and resolved in a satisfying manner, not to mention John Turturro showing up as a rival car named Francesco Bernoulli and adding some spice to the wonderfully animated races provides some of the best laughs in the entire film.

Mater finds himself a girlfriend in Holley Shiftwell.
It is hard to argue that anyone could still touch the level of animation and storytelling that Pixar has achieved but with this ultimately unnecessary sequel it is as if Pixar has let their guard down and is almost welcoming a challenge. I would even dare to say that Dreamworls topped them in the battle of the animated sequel this year with "Kung Fu Panda 2". I surely enjoy that franchise more and the second part felt more like a continuation of the original story rather than just an excuse to parade these characters out again. I sincerely hope Lasseter decides to put his "Cars" franchise to rest after this and continues to push forward with new, original stories and breathtaking visuals rather than stalling and going backwards to what he feels is reliable. This has caused the first misstep in the elite group that is Disney and Pixar. I hope it is also the last, but if you're going to make a sequel to one of your other classics at least make it "The Incredibles" there at least feels like some purpose behind that and for the love of God, please, no "Toy Story 4".