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.

First Trailer for CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2

Back in 2009 I was pleasantly surprised by a little animated film called Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. I went in not expecting much above the average, but liking the voice cast well enough to check it out on my own. I came out of that screening a huge fan of the film and continuously smiling throughout the rest of the day thinking of the jokes and left of center humor the feature carried. I was more than pleased to hear there would be a sequel for the film and today we have the first trailer for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. The story picks up as our heroes Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) return to Swallow Falls to clean up the mess left behind from the first film. Upon arriving they find Flint's machine has created a world where the food is beginning to evolve and take on the form of animals and weird creatures. The animation looks fantastic here and some of the favorite characters from the original are returning as well. The makers also look to have succeeded in keeping the humor intact for this sequel. I laughed several times throughout the trailer and really appreciate the creativity put into the new inhabitants of Swallow Falls. That is what should drive every animated film, and like the original this looks like it is going to be a ton of fun with plenty of color and character for the young ones to enjoy while plenty of subdued humor to keep the adults chuckling and awake. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 also features the voices of Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Terry Crews, and Neil Patrick Harris and opens in 3D on September 27th. Hit the jump to check out the first trailer.

First Trailer for THE CONJURING

I didn't see Dark Skies this past weekend, but I noticed it was heavily promoted as being from the producers of Insidious and Paranormal Activity. It is funny they mention these two as the last one I remember heavily touted as being from the producers of Paranormal and Saw was the wonderfully creepy Insidious. Director James Wan who crafted the original Saw film and 2011's best horror film, Insidious, has now returned to the genre with The Conjuring. Wan is a director I feel I can put a good degree of trust in when it comes to making a genuinely scary movie and if the trailer for The Conjuring is any indication it seems there is still no reason to doubt this. Based on the story of the Perron family who supposedly inhabited a haunted house in the 1970's Wan seems to have done what Ben Affleck did with Argo and is evoking the time period the film is set in by crafting the film in a way 70's horror was made and marketed. It is an interesting idea and though I don't know much more about the Perron case other than what has been provided in the synopsis I am anxious to find out more when the film hits theaters this summer. Apparently, the movie was originally scheduled to open this past January but after extremely positive responses from several test screenings Warner Bros. decided they might have a real hit on their hands and have placed the film up against Ryan Reynolds in both R.I.P.D and Turbo on July 19. The film stars Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston as the Perrons, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as psychic investigators and a supporting cast of Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, and Shanley Caswell. Hit the jump to check out the first trailer.

SNITCH Review

Who knew there was any downside to being The Rock? Excuse me, I mean Dwayne Johnson. If the guy didn't seem genuinely nice or completely charming all the time you'd be crazy to assume there was anything wrong with being this bulking, perfectly chiseled statue of a man. Turns out, even the smartest of actors, the nicest of guys can sometimes become confined to what they do best for those exact reasons. Thus is the issue we run into with Snitch and what takes us out of the film rather than complimenting it. While what we usually expect from Johnson is a good old fashioned taking the trash out type story with a different style to elicit diversity among films, what he is trying to do here is restrain those natural instincts, putting himself in an everyman role and it is simply hard to believe this large, bulking guy as someone who would be intimidated so easily. It is absolutely a case of the actors reputation dictating an their screen persona even if that actor is trying to break out (at least a little bit) from the standard roles he or she is constantly offered. It is admirable that Johnson would want to branch out and try to take on material more challenging for him, helping him develop his dramatic acting skills, but Snitch still wants to be an action movie and you can feel it. Sometimes it even seems Johnson is waiting on the action to start. With three more upcoming films in the next three months we will be seeing plenty of The Rock on the big screen and while the other forthcoming projects cater better to the physique of this monster of charisma, Snitch is not a bad way to start things off. It has its fair share of issues but more than anything it suffers from a bad case of miscasting. This isn't our leads fault though as he does the best he can and turns in a rather surprisingly satisfying February film.

2013 Academy Awards Round-Up

One can often forget the disconnect between those who tune into the Oscars for the purpose of celebrating film and those who simply are watching for the glamour of it all. It has to be remembered that the good majority of people watching haven't seen but maybe one or two of the best picture nominees. I was able to see all of them, including Amour, which I was very happy about, but even looking to my immediate family my brother was able to see five of the nine nominated films (two of which were not Django or Les Mis so good for him branching out and seeing some of the less popular ones) but then going down to my parents who are in the majority of folks that have seen maybe one (I had to convince my dad Django was worth his time because my younger brother wanted to go see it a second time and I couldn't go) or haven't seen any. To say all of this is to say that most people don't have an investment or really even care what movies are nominated or which ones win because they feel no connection to them. If they do, it is the one or two they have seen and they root for them purely on that basis. Why do so many people watch then? A question I've often wondered to myself. Yes, there is the celebrity host, the peek into the world of celebrity's and what it might be like to fraternize among such well-known and powerful people is a fantasy many people like to catch a glimpse of. Still, the point of the broadcast is to celebrate movies and no matter why they tune in to watch the awards in the first place I hope that no matter who wins they will bring to the attention of the public these films they may have overlooked and in turn give them a shot when they recognize the title in their local redbox a few weeks from now.

A Glimpse Inside Malick's Mind


The main reason I started this site or even began writing about movies was because I loved the thought of putting a story onto film and packaging it to serve a certain kind of purpose, making people feel a certain kind of way. Filmmaking is a bit of a manipulative trade, but is all the more fascinating for it. I love movies and I love directors that make movies who consistently release films that engage me further than the last and make me want to see more. Terrence Malick is one of those directors and his short but clearly defined filmography attests to the fact he is a director not adhering to any rules or standards. He made his debut in 1973 with Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek in Badlands, following it up five years later with Richard Gere in Days of Thunder. It was another twenty years before his next film, The Thin Red Line. He has since put out two other films, The New World and The Tree of Life. This latest film seems to have sparked something in Malick because for the first time ever he has completed another film the very next year and has three more in production set to come out over the course of the next two years. In four years he will have made more films then he did in almost the forty years prior. Why this is we may never know as Malick is a famously reclusive director and thus gives a cineplhile, such as myself, a reason to get excited when a glimpse inside his process becomes available. In saying that, a couple of featurettes have been released concerning Malick's latest film, To The Wonder. The film is described as "an exploration of love in its many forms" and stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko, and Javier Bardem. It has received rather lackluster reviews, but I am still interested in seeing it simply because it is a Malick film and the photography is destined to be beautiful.

To The Wonder opens on April 12th. You can hit the jump to watch the featurettes.

2013 Oscar Predictions

When the Academy Award nominations were announced on January 10th I was rather surprised by the favoritism shown towards Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour. Though I more understand the affection for French language film Amour which tells the story of two retired musicians in their eighties and their struggles in their relationship after one suffers an attack and faces death, I didn't think it would dominate the way it did. Amour is a bleak portrait of what we are all heading towards in life and director Michael Haneke has crafted a film I personally found "moving in ways I don't know that I've received from any other film in recent memory, but that doesn't mean I'll ever watch it again. It is a very serious film and one that is almost overly so with its static shots and honest to a fault dialogue. The performances of both Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are moving in what they have in common with the overall film." With the way in which voting is done these days I should not have been surprised to see the film receive so many nominations, but more I was upset that some of my hopefuls were left by the wayside. This came to be most true in the best director category as heavy front runners like Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck, Tom Hooper and Quentin Tarantino were knocked out by the directors of both Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild. Since those nominations much has happened as Argo has taken the lead in the best picture category and the acting categories for best supporting actor and best actress continue to be a tight race. We all know Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway will be making acceptance speeches, but who else will be taking the stage? Hit the jump to find out my predictions for all of the major categories.

The Reality of ARGO: An Interview with Lee Schatz


The first time Lee Schatz watched someone portraying him on screen he was more caught up in what he didn’t recognize when he saw it take place live and in person in Tehran in late 1979 and up through early 1981. As one of the six Americans working in revolutionary Iran at the time, Schatz and his fellow captives were extracted through a joint CIA/Canadian secret operation. This operation was dramatized for the 2012 film Argo which can be purchased on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow.

Having the opportunity to speak with someone who lived through such an event is an interesting conversation within itself; add on to that the element of watching it become a major motion picture and furthermore into a critical darling and now the front-runner for Best Picture at the Oscars the overall arc of those events hues closer to that slogan commonly used to describe the movie’s plot, that it’s so crazy it must be true.

Schatz now lives in Severna Park, Maryland, about forty miles west of Washington DC, with his wife Pat and two sons. Schatz still keeps in touch and has a close friendship with Tony Mendez, the main protagonist in the film portrayed by director Ben Affleck and the man who spearheaded the rescue mission. When speaking with Schatz you don’t imagine a man who went through a life altering situation, but instead a person who has accepted the ordeal as a part of his life but not allowed it to define who he is.

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD Review

A Good Day to Die Hard is not a movie, not really. There literally could not have been a script for this mess, but we are inclined to believe there was. That it was written by the same guy who penned the horrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Hitman makes it easier to see why this latest film in the now twenty-five year old franchise is nothing more than a few action scenes strung together by corny dialogue that hearkens back to milestones from the earlier films and a storyline that means absolutely nothing and makes almost no sense whatsoever. I've never been particularly invested in these films as the first, the one many consider an action classic, was released the year after I was born and so I was late to catch up on the earlier films until just before the 2007 sequel Live Free or Die Hard. I enjoyed that film well enough and it was directed by Len Wiseman, the guy in charge of the Underworld series and that rough remake of Total Recall last summer whose films always seem more wrapped in style and noise than any type of substance; even that movie had more of a relation to the earlier films than this. Having given the reigns of the fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise to John Moore (Max Payne, The Omen) he has frantically spliced together all the footage he was able to capture of shoot outs and car chases that were filmed for this movie in hopes that it would turn out to be more than just those sequences. Instead, at a brisk hour and a half the film has three major action pieces that come in 30-minute increments that the director hopes will fool the audience into thinking they've received everything they paid for. In reality, there is absolutely nothing about this film that will stick with you. It will disappear from your memory almost immediately with its generic plot and zero character development. It will leave no impression, and honestly that is the best thing we could ask from a movie that stinks this bad.

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES Review

Personally, I've been rooting for Beautiful Creatures since first seeing the trailer and its stellar mix of southern goth and Florence & the Machine soundtrack. Though I haven't read the young adult novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl the film is based on, I was intrigued by the setting, the fantasy and trying to assure myself that the next teen-lit adaptation featuring witches, wizards, or vampires had to be better than those Twilight movies. While it seems the buzz has been slow to build around this series I truly hope it becomes a talking point among its target audience and even beyond as I would love to see this series continue and have the opportunity to tell all four of its stories on film. While I enjoyed the movie plenty, there is much left to be desired and to a certain degree this takes away from the experience of the film. In some ways, it is as if this is only exists to set things up for what might come in the future and granted, that might just be due to the fact that there is still very much to come in the future. Still, for a first chapter there is much to enjoy here as the film adaptation of Beautiful Creatures features an impressive and very likable cast that executes its somewhat familiar story with a flair for the fun in it. There was a film a few years ago called Stardust and I always wished it had become a bigger success than it was. Based on a Neil Gaiman story it was a fun, enjoyable, very good film that took itself just seriously enough to feel credible while also not feeling overly cheesy when dealing with such things as witches and wizards. Beautiful Creatures is not as good a film as Stardust, but in the same vein it is a none too serious take on the fantasy world that gets overlooked or under cooked these days. Any movie that can involve elements of such genres and still manage some humor and honest drama is a welcome treat.

First Trailer for THE INTERNSHIP

I'm a big fan of comedy, I'm a big fan of The Frat Pack and in their prime they unleashed Wedding Crashers. Coming out the summer after my senior year of high school Wedding Crashers will always be one of those movies that reminds me of a certain period of time, a certain point in life. I understand that and I understand that this is no longer 2004-05 when big name comedians ruled the box office. Last year wasn't dominated by Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller; Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Steve Carell each had flops yet Mark Wahlberg and a CGI teddy bear came out on top. I don't know if it is simply peoples tastes that are changing or have folks truly grown tired of these once dependable "stars"? If there is any way to test modern audiences it would be to re-unite Vaughn and Crasher co-star Owen Wilson and thus we have The Internship. I've been anxious to see how this Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Date Night, Real Steel) directed vehicle based on an idea from Vaughn would turn out and now that we have the first trailer I'm getting bad feelings for it already. I think Carell will have a strong year, look at Burt Wonderstone as well as the fact he's reprising Brick for Anchorman 2 late this year. Both Rogen and Segel will likely hit a home run this summer with This is the End and Ben Stiller will deliver a directorial effort later this year that always tend to be a higher level of comedy than something he simply participates in for the paycheck. This is the first of two films for both Vaughn and Wilson this year though this is naturally the more anticipated one and I only hope this first glimpse is holding out because it will eventually receive an R-rating and is unable to show the best parts in the trailer. I have hope and no matter what, I will give it a shot come June 7. The Internship also stars Max Minghella, Rose Byrne, Dylan O’Brien, and Jessica Szohr. Hit the jump to watch the trailer.

SIDE EFFECTS Review

Scott Z. Burns has written two of my favorite Steven Soderbergh films since 2009 and up through his recent rush of films from late 2011 into what is being called his last major feature that is the subject of this review, Side Effects. Burns penned the lovably goofy 2009 farce The Informant! as well as the first and very well crafted of Soderbergh's final run, Contagion. Each of these films have a very distinct tone and a very good sense of what they are while not relying on the conventions of their genre to restrain or define them. The same could be said for this latest Burns and Soderbergh collaboration as it is hard to even tell what category it might fall into. As soon as you'd like to think you know where it is going Side Effects begins to venture down a different path. I love it, walking into the film with only a vague knowledge of what the film is about (thank you deliberately fuzzy marketing campaign) and being able to relish in the execution of the film as it slowly unfolds to reveal itself as something much more than I ever expected it to be. There are hints of the cautionary tale, of the talespin into madness, even the courtroom drama with an element of mystery, but what makes the movie such an enjoyable and rather brisk experience despite the slow start, is the fact it melds each of these elements together seamlessly creating a mixed bag of drama and emotions, dynamics and expectations that are still able to form a cohesive and satisfying story while throwing twist after twist at the audience and keeping us on the edge of our seats as we anxiously await which character will pull back the next layer. With a more than firm hand on the wheel from Soderbergh and a fantastic ensemble cast Side Effects is easily the first great film of 2013.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: February 12, 2013

Full Trailer for MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

This summer Pixar drops its yearly treat in the form of a sequel that will hopefully prove more satisfying than its previous follow-up. Though I had no desire for a Cars 2 and feel in the minority when it comes to last years original effort, Brave, I am seriously looking forward to the long awaited sequel, or should I say prequel, to Monsters Inc. Being only the fourth Disney/Pixar film back in 2001 Monsters Inc. has remained one of my favorite films from the studio and the idea of seeing MikeWazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) as college kids trying to become the trained "scarers" they are in the original film is a promising premise for a couple of characters impossible not to love. We have been served plenty of teaser trailers and mock university commercials for the film but now we finally have a full length trailer that gives a good impression for what the final film might deliver. There are plenty of laughs here and Pixar seems to have found its humor comfort zone in these familiar faces as well. The animation looks flawless and the story looks to be a rollicking adventure that kids will no doubt have fun with and one parents and those who grew up on the original film and are now experiencing college themselves will find plenty to laugh at and relate to. The film also features the voices of Steve Buscemi, Dave Foley, Julia Sweeney, Joel Murray, and Peter Sohn. Monsters University opens in 3D on June 21st. Hit the jump to watch the trailer.

IDENTITY THIEF Review

It is a tough world for comedies in this critical world. Whereas it seems to be much harder to pull off genuine laughs than it does a satisfying drama it also makes it that much more obvious when people aren't laughing when the complete intention is in fact that. As you've likely heard concerning the latest Jason Bateman vehicle that also features the first headlining act for Bridesmaids breakout star Melissa McCarthy, Identity Thief does a poor job of eliciting as many laughs from its audience as it has the capability to do. Here's the strange thing: I didn't hate it. Call me delusional, but I laughed a few times and had a rather average movie-going experience that dragged a bit, but wasn't unbearable. Both of these lead actors are more than charming, more than able to spin a joke, and are clearly dedicated to the material and making it work. Bateman has a knack for playing the everyman and an ear for how to deliver certain lines with lovely comedic timing. McCarthy is the opposite kind of comedian; she is loud and physical. Her character here is a perfect vehicle for her to exercise her strengths as a leading funny lady and if it weren't for her the film would have no purpose. Good news for us, McCarthy is present in almost every scene of Identity Thief and despite the strong premise (that likely has much more to offer in the way of comedy) the film quickly dissolves into a standard road trip comedy I ultimately didn't mind going along with because I love the people involved. That is my excuse with most comedies that critics tend to bash (The Watch, The Hangover Part II) and yes, I recognize their shortcomings, but I can't say I despised the film or those films for their attempts. I can appreciate Identity Thief for trying and I liked it well enough not to be angry I spent two hours with the characters.

BULLET TO THE HEAD Review

The three week Expendables solo project run comes to an end after The Last Stand, Parker, and now Bullet to the Head (though it could pick back up next week if you consider A Good Day to Die Hard a solo film for Bruce Willis). This final film in the three week rampage of bullets and brawn may or may not suffer from a bit of fatigue in the throwback action style that has now become so current and cool. Though Stallone is much smarter than anyone gives him credit for and still upholds the bar on which action movies are made to the highest he could possibly achieve this film suffers from a serious case of déjà vu as it echoes every cop or police procedural that you can see on cable TV week in and week out. Still, we know that to go into a Stallone film with as brash a title as Bullet to the Head is to expect exactly what it promises and to that degree the film delivers on all levels. Stallone's career was going nowhere fast as we entered the new millennium and so he proved to the studios he was still a valuable asset by adding films to his Rocky and Rambo franchises and then really revived his career by writing, directing and rounding up an all-star cast of current and yesteryear actioners for The Expendables. In doing this he has allowed himself and his older colleagues to return to making the movies they have a special place in their heart for. Though neither Arnold Schwarzenegger's nor this effort were able to find much of an audience in their opening weekend each of these films seem destined to be fun enough when considered against the rest of these guys filmographies.

Full Trailer for FAST & FURIOUS 6

After sporting an exciting 30-second spot during Sundays Super Bowl Universal has finally released a full length trailer for the upcoming sixth installment in the suddenly darling Fast & Furious franchise. I actually didn't see the The Fast and the Furious in theaters back in 2001, but have since seen each of its sequels during their theatrical run. Needless to say, I never had a huge sense of investment in the first film and would strongly agree with anyone that says these films get better as they go along. Having found a way to expand the universe and incorporate characters and storylines from each installment has allowed the films themselves to become more of their own entity and carve out something of a place for them in action movie history. They are big, loud, dumb, full throttle B-movie fun but they don't let that out of their mind and they deliver on the promise and premise of what these movies sit on. I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed Fast Five in 2011 and was anxious when plans were set to continue the series with at least two more films. The inclusion of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson also added to the fun and the hype that pitted the former wrestler and heir to the action movie throne against long time rival Vin Diesel. Their hand to to hand combat scene was worth the price of admission alone and it is good to see him back here. Appearing for the first time in the franchise is Luke Evans as the main antagonist who looks to be more memorable than any other typical Bond-like villain we've seen before as well as Gina Carano (Haywire) as an ass-kicking DSS Agent who assists The Rock. The film also stars Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Elsa Pataky, and Joe Taslim. Fast & Furious 6 opens May 24th. Hit the jump to watch the extended trailer.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: February 5, 2013

WARM BODIES Review

I've never been one to love the zombie genre and I certainly haven't yet bought into the recent zombie and vampire craze but Warm Bodies might have converted me, at least partially. I was intrigued by this project from the beginning, by its director, its cast, and the way it was going to convey its story. Despite obviously cashing in on the recent rush of these films centering around the undead this one subverts the genre by allowing us a different perspective on the usual story of people running, hoping not to get bit by those already infected from their fellow human beings who've been transformed into the lifeless, soulless zombies that are not the enemy in Warm Bodies, but the protagonists.  There is certainly no lack of invention here as that director, Jonathan Levine (The Wackness, 50/50) who allows the quaintly paced story to unfold with the right amount of smart quips and dialogue as well as strong character development so that when the slightly cheesy, but inevitable conclusion does come around it doesn’t feel quite as cheesy or inevitable as you imagined it might be when you first sat down for the film. This was the first movie of the year I was genuinely excited to see and though I had good to strong expectations it still managed to meet almost all of them as I appreciated the films refreshing take on an extremely tired genre and the directors willingness to not let his film devolve into typical horror movie clichés, and even better, the romantic comedy conundrum of drawing on those romantic moments from overly familiar situations but instead lets his original take on the zombie tale influence an original tale of sweet love.

Trailer Roundup: SUPER BOWL XLVII

As we draw closer to the biggest game of the year this weekend most movie fans are more excited about catching a glimpse of some of the most anticipated films of the year. As things have gone since the birth of youtube these ads have appeared online a few days prior. Naturally, this continues to be the trend as we've already seen a few of the trailers set to air during Super Bowl XLVII. I will be updating the videos as they come out., but you can hit the jump now to watch those already released and unlike during the game you can replay them until your heart's content. The official list is suspected to include 30-second spots for Brad Pitt's World War Z, J.J. Abrams highly anticipated sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, our very first look at Fast & Furious 6, Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger, Marvel studios first film of their Phase II initiative, Iron Man 3, the latest from The Rock titled Snitch as well as an extended look at OZ The Great and Powerful. Super Bowl XLVII begins at 5:30pm Central, February 3 on CBS.