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.

Worst Films of 2012


I usually include my five least favorite films of the year at the bottom of my top 10 list but seeing as I will not be able to compile my top ten list this year until after January 10 (due to not having the opportunity to screen Zero Dark Thirty until then). For this reason I am going ahead with publishing them separately this year. I feel out of the loop slightly as most critics have already put forth their top 10 lists but these are the drawbacks of living in a small market where you don’t get The Silver Linings Playbook until Christmas Day. In clearing that up, I don’t like to seek out movies that I think will be horrible, or even bad. I try to look for redeeming qualities in each and every film I screen, and these are the few this year I just couldn’t really get over in seeing them as anything more than bad, or irritating or disappointing. There is most certainly a trend here as well. Only one of the films on this quick list is outside the genre of action. I didn’t get around to seeing many of the obvious choices such as The Apparition, Alex Cross, The Devil Inside or Piranha 3DD and I won't get ridiculous and make a list of movies that weren't everything I wanted them to be. Most films falling into that category were still decent films even if they didn't meet my personal expectations. Still, these five films, even with my sub par expectations, failed to be anything more than crud.

DJANGO UNCHAINED Review

It is likely with a biased opinion that I fully indulged in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. I am, of course, from the generation that was young enough to find Reservoir Dogs on VHS and proclaim Pulp Fiction as our own kind of masterpiece that pushed us to go to film school and wanting to gather a larger pool of knowledge concerning film so that we might apply them to our own works. Tarantino is the inspiration, the guy who made it seem possible for a film lover to become a filmmaker and that essence, that feeling of connection in giving the audience what it really wants, what it really craves despite feeling so constricted to the standards of Hollywood filmmaking. When the man decided he was going to take on the topic of slavery for his latest film it was certainly a field that would provide plenty of material for the kind of brutal, over-the-top genre pictures he likes to pay homage to. My only concern going in was how might this come off when made by a white man. From the get go though it is clear that Tarantino knew what he was getting himself into and that he wouldn't have done so had he not known what he was going to do with it. The film is, most of the time, extremely bent on undermining the power and authority of the institution of what slavery was and in doing so the writer/director brings his flair for sharp, witty dialogue into a film that is overall a very serious movie. In the same way he treated the Nazi's of World War II Tarantino again turns history on its head and gives the overseer's exactly what they deserve and then some. It also doesn't hurt he's extracted some of the better performances this year from his top form group of actors.

JACK REACHER Review

I am not a fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, but that is only because I have never been afforded the chance to read one. I am a fan of Christopher McQuarrie though. McQuarrie wrote the script for one of my favorite films of all time, 1995’s The Usual Suspects. So, it is no surprise that I was genuinely excited to hear he was writing and directing a film and that it was an adaptation of a popular book series about a military investigator. Those that have read or are fans of Mr. Child’s book series were likely also very excited to hear One Shot was going to be brought to the big screen but not so much when Tom Cruise was cast in this lead role. Apparently Jack Reacher, our main protagonist, is a 6’5 beefed up ex-military man who is also a womanizer and leaves an unmistakable impression every time he walks into a room. As big a movie star as Tom Cruise is it is still hard to see his much shorter stature make up for all he is lacking physically with the intensity he was sure to bring to the role. Having not read the books this quarrel was something that was less of an issue with me and rather allowed me to be more inclined to enjoy the film rather than constantly holding my breath to see if Cruise could actually do it. While the books seem to be a series of nicely written cop procedural, stories that you might here on an episode of 48 Hours or some such programming both McQuarrie and Cruise are able to elevate this to something fresh on screen by taking notes from those that have come before. Jack Reacher is a very serious, hard edged cop drama that knows it isn’t breaking any boundaries but does what is expected of it very well.

LES MISERASBLES Review

Les Miserables is impressive. There is no doubt of this in anyone's mind who wanders out of the theater awestruck by the onslaught of grandiose that Academy Award-winning director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) has included in his screen adaptation of the extremely popular stage musical which is in itself an adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel. Personally, I was not familiar with the original Hugo novel on which the story comes from but was lucky enough to have seen the stage play a few years back. I was entranced by the play, not fully knowing what to expect but understanding what was likely going to take place. I was mentally prepared to be bored, to check my watch every now and then or maybe even drown out the noise as people singing sentences rather than speaking them tends more to annoy than to inspire. Yet, all of that changed when the curtain came up and the dynamics of the story were introduced and the audience was made to root for this most genuine of human beings who was dealt a rough hand in life, but overcame. It was stunning to say the least, and I was grateful to have experienced it. For this reason, I was looking forward to the film. It is a great idea, a grand one; to take such an epic piece of work and apply it to the platform of cinema with huge movie stars and a grounded yet sweeping scale to it. The film succeeds in many ways and still it did not leave me completely satisfied. The sets are beautiful as is the cinematography. I am a fan of the way Hooper decided to shoot the film and for the most part enjoyed the performances of the star studded cast. It is a movie to be marveled at but more times than not I found myself admiring more than connecting.

THIS IS 40 Review

Maybe it's because I too have a relationship with Lost, that I still hold onto my love for The Office or that I also enjoy the music of Hairspray that allowed me to appreciate This Is 40 all the more, but either way I look at it I can't shake the overall impact the film left me with. It is easy to complain about Judd Apatow movies; whether it be that they are too long, that they try to do too much or are unable to balance themselves between the drama and the comedy. For me, these complaints are not necessarily invalid but they do prove to be somewhat easy to make. They do not take into consideration the skill at hand, the ability with which Apatow more as a writer than a director has likely so painfully made it feel so effortless to capture the real essence of life, the standard complications, the humor in everything. The genuine humor, not the forced false broad jokes that can so easily be relayed in awkward home movies, but the honest and often hilarious conversations we have everyday with one another that are so easily forgotten but just as easily recognizable when someone such as Apatow is able to tap into the truthfulness of life and bring it to a mass audience. I still like The 40 Year Old Virgin more than Knocked Up, but with his last two efforts the writer/director has certainly become more introverted, attempting something few comedians have the balls to do once they find real success. Those two early works afforded him the opportunity to do such a thing and he is not missing his chance. Like Funny People, This Is 40 touches on the bigger questions of what we decide to do in this life and why it matters and why it might not. Unlike that more serious film though Apatow lets his characters create their own story and resolve their own issues without forcing a narrative, a task upon them. A daring move, but one that pays off for the most part.

First 9 Minutes of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS


I didn't get the chance to see the 9-minute Star Trek Into Darkness prologue before my first screening of The Hobbit because I chose to see it in 48 frames per second rather than IMAX and in Arkansas you have to make those kind of choices. I was able to follow up with this preview of J.J. Abrams follow-up to his 2009 re-imagining of the Star Trek universe this past week though. Before seeing Abrams original film I was never attracted to the Kirk and Spock property. Never had I laid eyes upon a single episode or one of the prior films. I was always more of a Star Wars fan as a kid and always thought myself too late to catch up by the time I heard Hollywood was going to produce a new vision of it. For that reason I was thankful Abrams made a film that was apparently appeasing to the long time fans while catering to the newly ordained that would no doubt become fans. After experiencing that film it was hard not to become a fan but I have yet to go back and explore any more of the universe. Mainly for the reason that there seems to be so much and also for the fact my first introduction was a fresh take, a starting over if you will and so in many ways it seemed unnecessary to visit a different incarnation of these characters. I may decide at some point, when I have an abundance of time to take a look back on what I'm missing out on, but for the time being I'm sticking with this universe and enjoying it. This limited pool of knowledge does limit me to not picking up on what might have been clues within the first 9 minutes of the new film, but nonetheless I enjoyed the hell out of it and it truly offers everything you could want from 9 minutes of movie.

Seeing as the prologue has now been running for a week the rest of this article will discuss impressions from the footage. If you want to avoid spoilers or have not seen the prologue yet you have officially been warned. If not, go ahead and hit the jump...

First Trailer for THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

Going the absolute opposite route of the movie you might expect to see two marquee names such as Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper star, The Place Beyond the Pines focuses on two fathers and their quest to provide for their sons. One, Gosling, is a pro motorcycle rider and bank robber while the other, Cooper, is a rookie cop who has big aspirations. Each has a significant other in Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne and their sons naturally become the center of their lives and their respective legacies. The film is from the same director behind Gosling's Blue Valentine and this looks to carry the same intensity. Like Derek Cianfrance’s previous film this is a study of a basic human emotion and the cards life deals us and how certain people respond to them and/or turn them around. The trailer is chilling and sets a wonderful tone for what we should expect from the film. I was a fan of Blue Valentine but it was certainly a bleak film and brought out a ton of questions that make the audience think on their own lives and apply those same questions to their own situations. While that film was about a more universal emotion such as love this seems to focus on that same element while at the same time going into much deeper themes. This trailer displays the intensity and the raw feel you expect the film to have but it also presents the dilemma there will be no clear cut lines between what we would automatically assume to be right and what is clearly meant to illustrate the wrong. The performances look great and it is simply refreshing to see young, admired actors doing work such as this rather than taking what would likely have been a much bigger paycheck for half the work that went into developing these characters and making this film. The film also stars Ben Mendelson, Ray Liotta and opens March 29, 2013.

THE GUILT TRIP Review

The Guilt Trip really has no right to be as good, as touching, or even as funny as it turns out to be. There is an entire genre for these kinds of brisk, whimsy holiday films that take a subject everyone can relate to and turns them into a by the numbers production that we can all leave happy with. In some ways these comfort food type films are what the movies are all about. They are escapism with a sense of audience and what that audience needs to feel a sense of satisfaction when leaving the theater. There are no surprises, there is no topic to stir conversation, there is simply a story that we all know and when this kind of movie is done right it also has that flair that reassures us we are doing pretty well in leading our day to day lives. This may sound like I might be over thinking a simple road trip comedy that is intended for nothing more than a little extra laughter around the holidays, a film that can be put on at any time of year and everyone approve, but this needs to be said because despite The Guilt Trip falling into all of these categories quite neatly it has that little something extra that pushes it past all the expectations anyone who dismisses the generic poster might have. One may sit down with the perception that this will be an indulgence in mindless entertainment but by the time the credits come around and you are sitting there with the surprised feeling of emotional connection, something a little more than simple contentment you come to appreciate the work put into crafting a film that follows the rules while being able to exceed the average..

On DVD & Blu-Ray: December 21, 2012

First Trailer for THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE

Upon first hearing about The Incredible Burt Wonderstone I was nothing short of thrilled to see the pairing of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey. Carrey has had a rough go of it lately but he is still the guy, "THE" comic that my generation grew up with and I can guarantee any single person in my age bracket would love to see the guy make a solid comeback instead of watching his career continue to dwindle. Carell is the everyman with the ability to be amazingly versatile as a comic. The combination of these guys on screen together, as battling magicians no less, sounds completely absurd yet completely amazing at the same time. Needless to say, I had high hopes for this one, but am starting to have a few reservations based on this first trailer. It looks to be a little too much of a safe, standard comedy that follows a 90's formula for a simple, but fun time. As much as I embrace those films for nostalgia I'd like to embrace this film for different reasons. I will of course reserve judgement until seeing the final film, but I hope they haven't put all of the best jokes here because there aren't many. Carell and Steve Buscemi play partners very much a model on Siegfried and Roy whose relationship has become strained and whose ticket sales have dipped dramatically. They are challenged by Carrey's cooler, edgier illusionist not so unlike Criss Angel and funny stuff ensues. This world is ripe with opportunity for comedy and the cast has more than enough clout to pull off something truly funny not to mention it was directed by 30 Rock vet Don Scardino. I'm not overly confident yet, but I hope I am proved wrong. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone also stars Alan Arkin, Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini, and Jay Mohr and opens March 15, 2013.

First Red Band Trailer for THIS IS THE END

In what may have just moved to an extremely close second behind Man of Steel for my most anticipated film of 2013 This Is The End is simply put: the antithesis of those Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve films. It features an all star cast, a ridiculously large cast, but of some of the funniest people working today. I have no idea how this story will unfold, who will get the majority of screen time (I'm guessing the guys on the poster) but all that really matters is this is going to be fun. A lot of fun. The directorial debut of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg This is the End is based off a short that Rogen and Jay Baruchel made a few years ago called Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse which you can check out here. In this feature length version all of these guys play themselves and we just get to hang out with them for a bit. Sweet! They have decided to release a sneak peek at the trailer for the film seeing as tomorrow may or may not be the end of the world and if the Mayans are correct they would like at least a little bit of their work to be seen. As if my first sentence didn't give it away, I am extremely excited for this. I wish some of the older generation above these guys were involved such as Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, or Jack Black, but hey Paul Rudd is listed to show up along with plenty of others including Jason Segel, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, David Krumholtz, Paul Rudd, Martin Starr, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, and Rihanna. The main cast consisting of Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride. This Is the End opens on June 14, 2013.

First Trailer for Michael Bay's PAIN AND GAIN

There are hoards upon hoards of cinema lovers that absolutely despise Michael Bay and all that he stands for. Personally, I think the guy has a great eye even if that eye sometimes picks from obvious sources. Still, what director doesn't do this? Bay's choices are just picked more extensively due to the serious level of hate the guy receives. That aside, he still pulls in a ridiculous amount of box office on the majority of his films. Even before the Transformers franchise the guy made Armageddon, The Bad Boys films, and Pearl Harbor. Granted the quality of these films can be easily disputed but their popularity cannot. In making his first non-robot film since 2005's The Island Bay has tapped a bizarre true story based on a series of 1999 articles written by Pete Collins, a reporter for the Miami New Times. The story centers on two bodybuilders who engage in a campaign of kidnapping, extortion and murder in Florida. This was described as Michael Bay's "small film" and I guess that rings true when applied to such a director but there is nothing about this trailer that makes it feel at all small (the films budget is a reported $22 million). There is a fine element of black comedy going on here and there is no mistaking the visual style of Bay. All in all I am really excited to see this film and hope it will knock some of the naysayers off the filmmakers back. I know this isn't exactly a complete turn around for the guy, but hey, there are only two explosions in the trailer. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Rob Corddry, Ed Harris, Rebel Wilson, John Tuturro and hits theaters April 26, 2013.

First Trailer for Terrence Malick's TO THE WONDER

There is something about this trailer for Terrence Malick's To The Wonder that is extremely reminiscent of his last feature, The Tree of Life. It should be noted that generally Malick takes several years between his films. There were six years between The New World and The Tree of Life but the reclusive filmmaker seems to have been given a boost of creative energy as this will be his second film in two years and he has three more in the pipeline in post production as I write this. Whether this much faster output of pieces will affect the quality remains to be seen for a mass audience but To The Wonder debuted at the 2012 Venice Film Festival  followed by the Toronto International Film Festival and received generally mixed reactions. At the Venice festival there were reports of boos as well as cheers. This is to be expected with a Malick film as lately they seem not to be so much narrative stories as they are meditations on life. I enjoyed The Tree of Life immensely and it made my top 10 list of last year and so it is with a hopeful optimism that I look forward to this film as well. You may have heard of the film due to the fact it cut out parts filmed with such stars as Rachel Weisz, Jessica Chastain, Amanda Peet, Barry Pepper, and Michael Sheen. You will still see the likes of Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko, and Javier Bardem on screen and the general public will get to glimpse Malick's latest when it comes to theaters April 12, 2013.

AMOUR Review

Amour is a french language film written and directed by Michael Haneke. Haneke is a filmmaker often known for his disturbing style more than anything with bleak thoughts and social commentary seeping into his writing. With this film though, which won the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes film Festival, the usually dark director stays true to his style while exploring a more sentimental subject. Amour literally means love and in that we are given a story that is truly a testament to what that word means. I went into the film not knowing much besides the fact it was receiving great reviews. The poster wouldn't seem to allude to anything more than a quiet little drama, almost amateur in its presentation. Everything about that statement tends to be true except for the idea it is anything close to amateur. Amour is a tough look at an aspect of life many would choose to ignore, a section so far down the road most people who join in the bond of matrimony cannot even comprehend. It is striking to see such a simple premise involve such complicated decisions and choices that reflect a lifetime of knowledge. It is impossible not to respond to the film in ways that, even if you haven't witnessed a loved one go through what unfolds, cause you to think of your life in terms of what is really important and who really means something to you. As cliched as it may sound it makes you appreciate the one by your side if you truly love them and likely question your allegiance if you jumped into something for reasons other than pure feeling or emotion. It takes on inevitable questions of life, its worth, and death. It is powerful in the most subtle of ways and a cathartic experience as any you could expect from a film.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Review

It is important to state that I have never been overly fond of the fantasy world. The ideas of dwarfs, goblins, wizards, and elves has always been one of great mystery in their appeal. They are stock ideas put into thousands upon thousands of different stories and adventures by a multitude of writers over a long period of time. What makes one different than the other? There is probably many people, many an avid fan of J.R.R. Tolkien or George R.R. Martin that would be glad to write an essay on why this all works so well and reaches such a wide fan base, but despite the mountain of proof they could likely provide, the insight they would divulge, I would likely still not understand the inherent ability to love such strange, silly stories. In the end, that is what The Hobbit feels like; just all a bit silly. I loved the Harry Potter books, don't get me wrong, but that was a series I grew up with and that grew up with me. I have never read any of Tolkien's work and wasn't even familiar with the titles until the first Peter Jackson motion picture trilogy became such a grand deal eleven years ago. I went, I watched all three of those films and I enjoyed them well enough even if I did feel slightly outside the loop in doing so. I never felt as if I "got" what "it" was all about or why the story was so special despite the films being greatly entertaining and beautiful to look at. As the years have passed, as I have become better acquainted with film in general, I can see the merit the original trilogy has and how skillfully they were crafted. This, in itself, is reason enough to be excited for Jackson's return to middle earth. Unfortunately, this return is so far marked by stretching things a little too thin. There seems no need for this to be the first part of a trilogy, but instead a fitting start to a more easily resolved adventure than we encountered with The Lord of the Rings. Too bad, Jackson seems to have decided the fatter the better rather than the slimmer the winner.

NEW Teaser Trailer for STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

With the release of the 9-minute prologue in front of The Hobbit this weekend a brand new trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness has surfaced and supplies a first look at more of the Enterprise crew in this sequel to the mega-successful 2009 film. Back at the helm is J.J. Abrams and the villain for which he has enlisted this go around has been under much speculation as of late. Well known British actor Benedict Cumberbatch is portraying the baddie who as of now is being called John Harrison though this name apparently has no meaning in the Star Trek universe. I am not a devoted fan of the series and never watched a single episode of the original or its many incarnations. My first exposure to these characters and to this world was in fact Abrams 2009 film and so, despite my history with the world, I am very excited to see the only version I know of this continue. The new trailer carries a more somber tone and features a voice over from Pike (Bruce Greenwood) that seems to be a speech he is giving to Kirk (Chris Pine). From here the trailer unleashes quick cuts of the multitude of action this film will no doubt contain. Is Cumberbatch playing Khan? Have you seen the prologue? What did you think? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. The film also stars Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Alice Eve, Peter Weller, and Noel Clarke and opens in 3D and IMAX 3D on May 17, 2013.

A Doomsday Watchlist

As talk of the world coming to an end reaches a fever pitch, this having nothing to do with the fact every single person on earth is less than a week away from their imminent death, I can think of nothing more logical to do in this quickly deteriorating world other than watch a few movies. Not just any movies though, but the ones where we may be able to pick out what could happen and what we hope is in store for us. Every year there are plenty of post apocalyptic flicks that come through the megaplexes and offer their version on what they think the world will be like after everything goes to hell. I'm here to investigate who I hope got it right. There is such a range of films that could fall into this category but lets face it, Roland Emmerich pretty much has us covered no matter if we take the option of aliens, crazy ass weather or as next weeks prediction foretells, ancient myth. If you are unaware of the reasons for these end times or what all the fuss is about it all goes back to those darn Mayans and their blasted ability to develop the very first written language, some of which was apparently applied to a calender. These 5125-year-long cycle calendars supposedly have an end date of December 21, 2012 aka next Friday. This has led many people to believe that the Mayans (An ancient civilization noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for their art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during 2000 BC to AD 250.) were also into predicting the end of the world. On top of that various astronomical alignments and numerological formulae have been applied to this date to create even more panic. Also, the calendar could be interpreted to mean the 21st or 23rd so we may or may not have an extra day or so.

2013 Golden Globe Nominations

The 2013 Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning and Lincoln leads the pack with seven nominations and Argo close behind with five. Despite not having yet seen Django Unchained I am excited to see it so loved, at least in the recognition the Hollywood Foreign Press has given it. The new Quentin Tarantino film also garnered five nominations and is easily one of my most anticipated of the year. I can't wait to see it for myself on Christmas Day, but I can only become more excited about the quality of the film after seeing it get a best picture nod for drama as well as nominations for Tarantino for best director and both Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio for best supporting actor. I was especially glad to see Jack Black also receive a nomination for his work in Bernie as it is one of my favorite films so far this year.

First Trailer For Guillermo Del Toro’s PACIFIC RIM

I am not a huge fan of Mr. Guillermo del Toro but I enjoyed Pan's Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies well enough to look forward to what he is doing next and a ton of fanboy anxiety has been circling that project. Titled Pacific Rim and documenting the rise of massive monsters from our own seas and the human race attempting to fight back by creating weapons known as Jaegars that can be controlled by human pilots from a distance. The concept is pretty interesting but the visual flair you expect from such a project seems a little unfinished in this first trailer we have been delivered. I did not know much concerning the plot going in, but it was hard to avoid the posters and talk of the film after this years comic-con. I am excited to see how this turns out because there is certainly a level of expectation with del Toro but despite having an interesting idea the way the story looks to be executed could prove tiresome and overly familiar to a summer audience looking to find something new rather than, dare I say it, Transformers or Battleship. The quality may end up (and hopefully will) being miles ahead of those films, but this trailer does have a slight feel of deja vu to it. Still the film has an international cast led by a charismatic Idris Elba and also features Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman, Charlie Day, and Clifton Collins Jr. Pacific Rim is slated to hit theaters on July 12, 2013 in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D.

ANNA KARENINA Review

There is something magical about the way in which Joe Wright creates his films. There is a definitive eye for craft and a grand amount of attention paid to detail. It has resulted in some of the more beautiful shots of the last decade whether they be the glorious steadicam shot on the beach of Dunkirk in Atonement or some of his more subtle work in overlooked films such as Hanna or even The Soloist. There are moments in each of these films where you could simply sit back and marvel at the craft and skill being put into it rather than care about the story that is unfolding. In his latest effort, a retelling of Leo Tolstoy's meditation on love known as Anna Karenina Wright again enlists his muse for period pieces Kiera Knightley and takes us on a spectacle that may be his most beautiful film to date, but suffers from not having the emotional core that his other period pieces have contained. I am a huge fan of Atonement and have followed Wright's career since that film captured my heart. I was anxiously awaiting what the director would do having the opportunity to again venture into his comfort zone and while the results may not have been as spectacularly moving as I'd hoped there is no doubt this is a fine film. The acting is top notch and features an array of characters that all compliment the central theme in a way that writing seems to have lacked for some time. Adapting Tolstoy is no small task and Wright along with screenwriter Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) have not only brought to life a story that likely didn't need to be told again but have condensed it so as to elicit a central idea, a study of an emotion, and the way in which it controls our lives with an unnerving direction.

Full-Length Trailer For MAN OF STEEL

Personally, and I am in the minority here, but I was surprised and anxious to see what would come of Christopher Nolan choosing Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) to take over the Superman directing job. He would no doubt give the series its much needed reboot after Bryan Singer's 2006 Superman Returns failed to resonate with audiences (though again, I personally loved it). When we first caught a glimpse of Man of Steel before The Dark Knight Rises this past summer I was cautiously optimistic that Snyder captured a rough, gritty tone to a character who was always looked at as the boy scout of the super hero community. With this second trailer it seems the director has laid all doubt and worry to rest as this centers around the characters and more importantly the man at the heart of the film. As with Nolan's Batman series this seems to be grounded more in reality where what people might do if a being such as Superman really did exist. It will be an interesting take on the character and I am more than excited to see how this all turns out. We also get a first glimpse here at the Oscar-worthy supporting cast including Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, as well as Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Michael Shannon as General Zod. Henry Cavill seems to be handling the weight of playing such an iconic character with ease and a gravitas that may make even a God-like man relatable to us mere mortals.

Full-Length Trailer For THE LONE RANGER

Summer 2013 is starting to look all the more interesting as we've had several trailers coming out over the past few days. We've already seen a glimpse of Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp as The Lone Ranger and Tonto in a teaser back in early October but now we get our first full, fleshed out look at what is sure to be one of the more interesting stories of summer '13. The film has already encountered many problems in getting to the screen, but now that the dust has settled all that is left to discover is how good the quality of the film will be and if any of the budget concerns or production woes will ultimately affect the quality. I have not jumped off the Depp train yet, though I believe he needs to steer clear of any more Jack Sparrow roles. I know the guy is good at what he does and the collaboration between he and director Gore Verbinski in 2011 made my top 10 list of the year, so needless to say I have high hopes for this one. With Verbinski at the helm Depp has created Jack Sparrow and Rango; I only hope that magic continues with Tonto. Still, the sidekick is not the focus here and as this trailer proves Armie Hammer seems to be handling leading man duties just fine. The film looks gorgeous and besides Hammer and Depp contains an all star cast that includes Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, and Helena Bonham Carter. The Lone Ranger is set to open July 3, 2013. Hi-yo, Silver!

On DVD & Blu-Ray: December 11, 2012


First Trailer For M. Night Shyamalan’s AFTER EARTH

Everything about this production would seem to hint at it being another solid hit and another solid entry in the Will Smith sci-fi canon. As with Pursuit of Happyness Smith co-stars with his son Jaden in After Earth. The story sounds engaging enough, but after yesterdays premiere of Oblivion it is hard not to compare the two. Too bad visually the Tom Cruise vehicle looks worlds ahead of this over reliance (hopefully unfinished) on CGI and the Fresh Prince doing something different with his performance. I am a huge fan of Smith and because of that I will stand watching his son again, but am concerned because Jaden seems to have much more screen time than his father and two because it is directed by M. Night Shyamalan. They give no credit to the director in the trailer which is noteworthy as the filmmaker has not had a hit since 2002. I am hesitant to get too excited over the film for this reason alone. Still, there is reason to be optimistic as Shyamalan did not pen the script for this film as he usually does but instead After Earth has been put together by Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana) and Gary Whitta (The Book Of Eli). With this bit of hope along with the charisma of Smith I can only hope this turns out to be more I am Legend than Men In Black II. After Earth is set to hit theaters June 7, 2013.

International Trailer for OBLIVION

We thought we might have to wait until Sunday for the revealing of the Oblivion trailer, but it looks as if an international trailer has hit the web already. Directed by Tron: Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski and starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Zoe Bell, and Melissa Leo the first look at the futuristic sci-fi film is certainly nothing short of gorgeous. Though it follows the well worn pattern of engaging its audience with a perception of the future and then wrapping its main plot devices in mystery I am still hooked. The plot sounds interesting though I'm hoping it doesn't pale in comparison to the wonderful visual style they have designed for the film. It also seems a little lazy they have decided to go with the name Jack for our main character. This is the second "Jack" Cruise will be playing in a row. I have high hopes for his Jack Reacher in a few weeks, but am much more excited to see how this one turns out. Universal has Oblivion scheduled for an April 19, 2013 release but it will hit IMAX theaters exclusively the week before on April 12.

HOLY MOTORS Review

I'm not sure what to think. I've given it a few days and I've not tried to force myself to think about it, but I can't help but go back to Holy Motors and try to figure out exactly what the hell I watched. Opening with a crowded theater watching a film we soon see a man who turns out to be the director himself Leos Carax as he breaks through a wall covered in wallpaper painted with bare trees. Breaking through he wanders into the balcony of the theater while we hear audio that is either from the film playing onscreen or is simply meant to elicit a memory from the individual audience member. We never see the screen, thus we are unaware that if what comes next is what this specific audience is watching or something else. The film, after only a few minutes in cuts to a large, secluded house as a man we come to know as Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) exits the elaborate estate and enters a limo driven by Celine (Edith Scob). These are essentially the only characters we see consistently in the film and from this point on we are challenged to understand the meaning, if there is any, of Holy Motors. As Oscar goes from appointment to appointment changing his appearance, his attitude, his way of life it only becomes more vague as to what Carax is trying to say. I understand the actions, I believe I grasp the premise, but why? The why of this whole thing is what I am unsure of and two days after watching the film am still unable to come up with any answers for. It would be a lie to say the film isn't fascinating for it is relentless in it's attempts to engage, but it provides no answers to the point I found it hard to care about the questions it raises.