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 2 GUNS

The first trailer for director Baltasar Kormákur's 2 Guns has premiered and it at least looks to be more entertaining and mind numbing than his previous collaboration with Mark Wahlberg, Contraband. I wasn't a huge fan of that film finding it to be extremely mediocre with no truly redeeming qualities. Still, Wahlberg is white hot right now (though I wonder why they didn't wait to premiere this before Pain & Gain later in April) and Denzel Washington is coming off a great year with the commercial successes of Safe House and Flight as well as his Oscar nomination for the latter. Teaming these two up seems like a no-brainer and a way for the studios to try and capture that Lethal Weapon magic in a bottle while cashing in on it late this summer. I will see this film, and am even somewhat looking forward to it but for no other reason than the fact it stars these two guys. If it were a cast of unknowns with an independent director looking for distribution there would be no reason to pick this up. I only hope the studio realizes that and plays up the relationship between Wahlberg and Washington both in the marketing and in the final film. There are some other reasons to be hopeful here despite the horrible poster. The tone implies they have a sense of self-awareness around what kind of movie this is and there are several hints at comedy as well which will likely be a relief as summer draws to a close. I'm not necessarily turned off by the trailer, but I'll be very surprised if the movie doesn't play out exactly how I think it will after seeing this. The film also stars Bill Paxton, Paula Patton, James Marsden, and Edward James Olmos. 2 Guns opens August 2nd. Hit the jump to watch the trailer.

G.I.JOE: RETALIATION Review

Back in 2009 I was somewhat excited to see what the studios had decided to do with the G.I. Joe brand as they'd just come off a lackluster sequel to the film that proved making toys into movies could be successful. I am of course referring to Transformer: Revenge of the Fallen which was a masterpiece in my eyes compared to what G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra turned out to be. In my original review for the first G.I. Joe film I stated that, "As the subtitle may lead you to believe, this film is the set-up to be a franchise, one that I hope doesn't exactly happen, unless they completely start over." Well, after being delayed almost a year for what was said to 3D post conversion, which they did do, but also seems to be code for: Channing Tatum blew up last year so lets take some time and add in a few more Tatum scenes! If you are a Tatum fan and you are seeing this film simply to see him on the big screen, don't show up late; that's all I'm saying. On the other hand if they were going to continue this franchise they did at least go the route I hoped they might. With no mention of General Hawk or Ripcord the sequel seems to be able to continue the story of the first with Tatum's Duke leading a new team of Joe's (that still makes me laugh) and expertly wiping the slate clean so as to introduce us to a few new characters and get the ball rolling in a whole new light so as this might actually turn into a profitable series of films the producers can keep on pumping out. The fact of the matter though is that despite G.I. Joe: Retaliation being a better movie than its predecessor (it would have been hard not to be) it is still fairly cheesy and goofy and something only tween age boys will likely have a lot of fun with. If you are a day over thirteen though you will likely see through the goofiness of it all, but still try to enjoy the fun it only periodically provides.

First Trailers for THE WOLVERINE

It has been somewhat of a Wolverine week here in movie world as each day we have been teased with posters (no matter how horrible) and small snippets of footage to be included in the full length trailer that has finally premiered today. It is no secret that the first attempt at a solo Wolverine film, X-Men Origins, failed miserably at living up to the expectations held for it. The CGI was bad, the story was bland, and the film leaked online a few weeks before release causing a significant drop in anticipation seeing as word on the street wasn't that great. In trying to revitalize that failing aspect of the X-Men universe we now have Hugh Jackman returning to the role that keeps on giving in a film simply titled The Wolverine. Originally intended to be directed by Darren Aronofsky, I would have loved to have seen what a director like that would have done with material like this, but alas that was no to be and so James Mangold (Walk the Line) took over and things seem to be in pretty good shape after taking a look at both the international and domestic trailers that were released about thirty minutes apart this morning. The international trailer offers a bit more in way of background information and footage, but the domestic piece is more focused, more lean, and reveals the man who offers Logan a deal to repay him for saving his life. Mangold has said this takes place after The Last Stand and if you look closely you can see glimpses of  Jean Grey, but for what reason we don't know. I am intrigued by the film even if this so far feels like one of the lesser super hero films of the summer. I have always enjoyed Jackman's complete personification of the character and look forward to this take on him as it chronicles a story not touched on in any of the previous films. Not to mention, the fight scenes look badass. The film also stars Will Yun Lee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Brian Tee, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto and Svetlana Khodchenkova. The Wolverine opens in 3D on July 26th. Hit the jump to check out both the international and domestic trailers.

THE CROODS Review

As the first animated film of 2013 The Croods doesn't necessarily stand out as an instant animated classic that will be played for years in the living rooms of growing families, but it is fun enough while it lasted. While I was never particularly attracted to the trailer as I didn't much care for the character design and the voice cast just seemed to be all too famous for the story and characters to seem more important than the people speaking the dialogue. Turns out, despite these cavemen sounding like Nicolas Cage (which is pretty great actually), Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds (who has another Dreamworks film on the way with Turbo, way to confuse the kids!) this film serves its purpose to the fullest and satisfies in some unexpected ways as well. Dreamworks as a studio has been climbing the quality ladder lately, since the release of both Kung fu Panda films and How to Train Your Dragon I have had more faith in them when it's been easier to doubt with the decline of the Shrek series and Rise of the Guardians under performing (though I rather enjoyed that film). In fact, it is fair to say I have many of the same thoughts concerning the two films. Both have a wonderful world that has been created for these characters to exist in yet it is simply the events of the story that seem less inspired and more along the lines of standard storytelling techniques to get across a well worn lesson for the kiddos. While there is no specific antagonist here other than nature itself and the conflict comes more from within the family dynamics the story still plays out with a somewhat dull beat by beat pace that doesn't pick up until too late in the film to really say I enjoyed it from start to finish. It is fine for what it is and even better than it has to be in some aspects, but it isn't great which would have been nice to see from Dreamworks as they have a real shot to start dominating the computer animation game.

First Trailer for WHITE HOUSE DOWN

Just a few days after Olympus Has Fallen surprised the box office by being the best received action flick of the year so far (in a year full of countless action movies) we have now received the first trailer for the similarly-themed White House Down. While Olympus Has Fallen was good fun and popcorn entertainment with B-movie thrills director Roland Emmerich (Independece Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012) seems to have crafted something a bit more serious here. Naturally, comparisons will be made (I even brought this unavoidable fact up in my Olympus Has Fallen review) but there does seem to be one major difference here in the fact that the threat seems to be coming from within rather than an outside source. The trailer is a mere two minutes but feels shorter as the first half is completely made up of media reports giving us a sense of atmosphere. It is at the mid-way point that we get our first glimpse of Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx attempting to escape from the Oval Office. When hearing there were going to be two movies about the white house under attack my interest initially went to this film first. Emmerich has more experience than Antoine Fuqua in the genre and the cast feels more impressive (though don't get me wrong, I love Morgan Freeman) but with Tatum coming off the year he had in 2012 and Foxx still riding high from the success of Django Unchained it seems unlikely this film will suffer from a case of deja vu. The film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins, Jason Clarke, Jake Weber, Lance Reddick and Joey King. White House Down opens on June 28th, 2013. Hit the jump to check out the trailer.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: March 26, 2013

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN Review

It is about time Gerard Butler went back to doing what he does best. After his breakout role in 2006's 300 the charismatic Scotsman resorted to taking every major script he was handed that unfortunately ended in a string of bad romantic comedies (The Bounty Hunter, The Ugly Truth) while venturing back into the action game with results that ranged from horrible (Gamer) to entertaining but empty (Law Abiding Citizen). It has been a good six years since Butler has made an entertaining and successful mainstream film (RocknRolla and Coriolanus serve as indie cred, but were never afforded the chances to reach as wide an audience). These thoughts come to mind after realizing just how numbingly entertaining his latest effort, Olympus Has Fallen turns out to be. It doesn't help that Chasing Mavericks and Playing for Keeps both of which opened late in 2012 and both of which flopped massively (the latter being absolutely trashed by critics) are still fresh on most avid movie-goers minds and that this was some kind of shot at redemption. Even with his track record against him and the current box office climate that has not seen early 2013 be too kind to R-rated action flicks, this new film from Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) has managed to capture that charm, that silliness, and that zeal present in so many action flicks of old that is as cliche-riddled as it is a solid, tense thriller with a plot only the movies could see fit to pull off. I like Butler and I liked his character of Mike Banning, but it didn't hurt the star has a good director and an outstanding supporting cast behind him helping make Olympus Has Fallen the best action flick of 2013 thus far.

SPRING BREAKERS Review

Spring Breakers will easily divide audiences who dare to wander into it. Not because it isn't necessarily what the marketing campaign suggests it to be, but because it is a sensory overload that isn't afraid to make a statement. In the doldrums of the early months of the year moviegoers are serviced with plenty of distractions and sometimes barren and empty spectacle, so when something comes along that challenges us that has more of a purpose than to purely entertain, but in fact has something to say it grabs your attention and if it is a good film, it won't let you go. As I walked out of the theater after seeing the latest from director Harmony Korine (Kids) I was stuck with a sense of what an odd piece of cinema I'd just experienced. It had all the makings of a party flick, one that has been crafted to re-enforce the ritual of college kids driving down to St. Petersburg each year for a week and turning into a cess pool of drugs, alcohol, and sex. It is shot to provoke the bright, summer colors that bounce off the beaches and bikinis that are littered throughout the coastline all washed over with a sense of carelessness and no responsibility. This is no party movie in the vein of something like Project X or 21 & Over though, no, this is a film specifically designed and meticulously concocted to expose the dark side of what comes when you throw your inhibitions to the wind and give into the mind set that everything will be fine as long as you know when to stop and can return to the real world. That being easier said than done this group of girls find it hard to re-integrate into that world of order and routine and instead disregard everything they've ever learned for that moment of chaos.

ADMISSION Review

Admission is something of a lazy movie. There is no energy about it, no zeal that ever gets you too excited about watching it, but worst of all is the fact that these boring attributes make us not care for the characters in the story. If I'm telling the truth I kind of had that feeling about the film from the beginning. It felt slightly rushed, a small almost indie film that just had too big of movie stars in it to escape the glow of mainstream marketing. Thus is born the only solid reason I can find in getting behind this film: those movie stars. When you have someone as charismatic as Paul Rudd and as appealing as Tina Fey in a movie together, and for the first time no less, it is easy to get excited. They are both actors with great comedic personas and are figures many feel relatively easy to relate to. That small percentage that seem to "get it" and have a quirly way of perfectly putting into words why they are smarter than everyone else while the outside world continues to fall apart despite their observations that seem obvious and are always funny. They are almost elitists without coming off as assholes who think they're better than everyone else. Those personas usually suit them well and have made them the bankable names they are today, but all of that charm and wit is nearly absent from this flick as only the rare smile finds its way onto your face when that true comic ability shines through the stilted characters these guys have been burdened with playing. That may all sound a little harsh and as if I'm harping on the actors, but they are the only reason to really see the film unless you are just super interested in the college admissions process. Other than that the script features mommy issues and a forced romantic angle that the movie would have become better without. I liked the film well enough because I like the people involved, but I don't care to ever see it again as doing that would be more effort than it feels they put into making this film.

First Trailer for HUMMINGBIRD

I like Jason Statham and the entire persona he has been able to pull off for several years now, but even I can admit that the act is getting somewhat tiresome. He no longer has the Transporter series to fall back on and was it me or did his role in The Expendables 2 seem somewhat smaller than the first? Regardless, the point is he's clearly not that franchise's main draw and so it is up to his solo work to continue the legacy he hopes to leave of being a great action star. His films are never really that bad, but they hardly rise above anything more than average. This latest film though, titled Hummingbird is written and directed by Steven Knight (writer of Eastern Promises) and making his feature film debut looks to be that of a tense drama that could change the landscape of Statham's career. Telling the story of an ex-Special Forces soldier who has found himself homeless on the streets and steals another mans identity to gain position in the world. The first trailer for the thriller is especially engaging. Knight seems to have enlisted a seasoned Cinematographer as he captures the cityscape with a looming glow and a soundtrack that hints at something a little more serious, prestigious even than the stories Statham has participated in before. There aren't any other big names in the cast and as of right now there is no release date for the U.S. but Hummingbird will open in the UK on May 17th. Hit the hump to check out the trailer.

New Trailers for DESPICABLE ME 2 & TURBO

With The Croods opening this weekend two new trailers for two of the biggest family films of the summer have been released. While Ryan Reynolds provides voice work in both this weekends Dreamworks release and plays the titular character in Turbo, kiddies will likely be more excited to know that there will first be a sequel to Despicable Me that looks as promising as I could have hoped. We've seen a few short spots for the highly anticipated sequel to the surprise 2010 hit, but nothing really that has given us a glimpse of what will be going on story-wise. This full length trailer reunites us with Gru (Steve Carell) and finds him being recruited by Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) for the Anti-Villian league that pits him against an unseen baddie voiced by Al Pacino. The trailer looks great and the original voice cast has returned to provide what seems like a solid bet and yes, there are plenty of minions. They naturally get some of the biggest laughs here and I'm anxious to see how their own separate feature will pan out and work in conjunction with this world. Despicable Me 2 opens in 3D on July 3rd. As for Turbo, the premise feels a little worn with the trailer not seeming to bring anything new to it. Needless to say, the one note joke of a snail wanting to go fast seems to be all the development team had going for it, but I'll be optimistic as I loved last years Madagascar 3 and The Croods is so far receiving great reviews. Plus it has a stellar voice cast that includes Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Luis Guzmán, Bill Hader, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz, Kurtwood Smith, Snoop Dogg, and Samuel L. Jackson. Turbo opens in 3D on July 19th.  

CHANGING THE GAME Home Video Review


While I may not be the target demographic for Rel Dowdell’s Changing the Game there are certainly elements of the film that anyone can relate to whether it be the dealings with the difference in culture or the struggle of having to overcome something in your life. The film touches on a specific community within the African-American race while using universal themes to be able to connect with what could prove to be a more diverse audience. It is clear from the opening title sequence that this is a film of the independent nature, but the low-budget feel eventually finds its footing and meshes with the setting of the mean streets of North Philadelphia during the mid-80’s. Going into a film such as Changing the Game you are certain to have some kind of pre-conceived notions of what to expect and what you believe those results will be. This remains partly true for me as the film begins much like any iteration of street life we’ve seen before on film, but eventually grows into something more, something with a genuine soul behind it that despite its limited resources is able to show through and deliver the audience a satisfactory journey through one man’s rise, fall, and redemption. There are several factors that could be improved in several departments with Changing the Game, but at the end of the day and as the movie preaches, it has what really matters in life and that is heart.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: March 19, 2013

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE Review

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a stupid movie, but that does not mean it isn't endearing. That waft of stupidity that floats off the screen isn't necessarily a stench, but instead there is that certain something to be liked about it. This is mainly due to the inability to dislike the principal cast members. As lead by Steve Carell the film evolves from a satire on the world of magicians to a tale of redemption within a man who has forgotten what it is like to find something truly inspiring and worth putting their effort into. From the opening moments of the film it is clear what kind of film this is going to be. It is comedy comfort food in its highest form and in many ways there is nothing wrong with that except for when it fails to meet the simple standards this category upholds. I went into the film with fair expectations as the trailer the studio put together wasn't particularly impressive and even gave off the tone of a movie that fell apart after the initial idea was thought to be something of a great joke. Whether this was for the purposes of making the audience not as disappointed in the film or because they were in fact unsure of what exactly they had on their hands here, the final product is better than the marketing material hinted at, but it doesn't ever go far enough or become weird enough to be that highly ridiculous comedy I so badly wanted it to be. Carell is always appealing, though I wonder how some will take his characters personality that goes against everything usually attributed to Carell as a man, and it is nice to see Jim Carrey returning to what he does best even if his time is limited here. I wanted to like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone more than I actually did, but it wasn't horrible and that's probably the best thing you can say about it.

THE CALL Review

It is tough to walk into a movie like The Call without having somewhat of low expectations. In seeing the trailer it appears to be a beat by beat thriller we've seen time and time again that could just have well been a Lifetime movie about the epidemic of abductions, especially considering the focus of the kidnappings here are teenage girls. It also didn't bode well for the film that it starred Halle Berry. For me, she has become somewhat of the equivalent to Cuba Gooding Jr. and that is in no way a shot at their ethnicity. That train of thought is more directly influenced by the fact that since winning her Oscar, Berry has appeared in almost nothing but lackluster films. The exceptions being a few shots at redemption such as Things We Lost in the Fire which never caught on and of course last years widely debated Cloud Atlas. I truly enjoyed Atlas and believe it to have been a film not appreciated because it was misunderstood, but regardless Berry was neither the reason that film succeeded in execution or failed at the box office. Still, her presence has long become an indicator of the quality a film might possess and though she hasn't dissolved into the straight to home video star Gooding has, there is no reason as of late to believe that something like The Call would be worthy of any positive chatter. Turns out, this film is a pretty fun, engaging, and even sometimes truly thrilling piece of entertainment. Maybe it was the fact I didn't expect to much or that the audience I viewed the film with seemed to enjoy it so much, but I came out of the film rather impressed by the way director Brad Anderson (The Machinist) taught an old dog some new tricks.

First Trailer for KICK ASS 2

Kick-Ass was one of my favorite films of 2010 and I have been anxiously awaiting our first look at the sequel. Though original director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) is not back at the helm for this one as he was originally scheduled to direct the First Class sequel but dropped out of that as well, he stayed on as producer and newcomer Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down) seems to have at least picked up on a few of Vaughn's cues. The brand new red band trailer picks up where the first left off giving us a glimpse of training with Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Dave Lizewski aka Kick Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The trailer goes on to show how well their costumed antics have been received and that a new wave of people are doing the same thing and teaming up with them. The standout, naturally, is Colonel Stars and Stripes as played by Jim Carrey. If you didn't know Carrey was in this you might not even recognize him with his face covered by a mask, his hair grayed, and a thick New York accent. Christopher Mintz-Plasse also seems to be hamming it up and going all out as he's newly ordained himself "The Motherfucker". The remainder of the film looks to be part revenge fantasy, part identity crisis as Mintz-Plasse is seeking revenge for the murder of his father while Dave is having trouble coping with his new found responsibilities and reputation he is expected to uphold. The only concern I had for this sequel were the lack of strong credits that followed director Wadlow but he seems to have put together a worthy sequel with some fun new characters while maintaining that signature smartass tone the first one pulled off so well. The film also stars Clark Duke, Donald Faison, John Leguizamo, and Olga Kurkulina. Kick-Ass 2 will be a great way to cap off summer 2013 when it opens on August 16th.

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL Review

Taking on anything that has occupied such a space in popular culture as massive as The Wizard of Oz is always a risk. When first hearing the news that Sam Raimi (the original Evil Dead and the original Spider-Man trilogy) would be directing a prequel to arguably the most popular film in cinematic history I was both concerned and enchanted by the idea. The possibilities of what it could address seemed endless and the world so large that it might be impossible to capture in a single feature. What Raimi and his gang have ended up concocting though is certainly something of a sprawling epic, but to take a cue from the titular hero it is a good film, not a great one. There is plenty to enjoy here, visuals to entice and characters to laugh and marvel at as references abound to that oh so familiar movie that has an all encompassing track into part of our childhood. Whether it be simple things such as the red smoke and fireballs the wicked witch utilizes or the poppy field that is brought back for good measure in this insightful but sometimes slow, sometimes bland film. I hate to sound as if I didn't like the film because that isn't true. I actually enjoyed the experience very much, made better by the full audience that had their predictable reactions ready and willing to fire at every expected and intended moment. I loved the imagination of Raimi and his team of artists that have rendered a version of OZ the makers of the original could have only imagined, bit for all that gloss and digital effects wizardry (for lack of a better word) there is still something missing about the movie; something that elevates it from simply being an enjoyable experience to a memorable one. I had fun re-visiting OZ and its winding yellow brick road, but odds are this adventure, no matter its title, will never be lumped into the same category as Victor Fleming's picture.

First Trailer for THE HANGOVER PART III

It is hard to argue with those who didn't like The Hangover Part II. It was clearly a carbon copy of the first film with a change in location, but it is hard to deny that the film was funny. And the reason it maintained that same level of humor and endearment with the audience is due to the characters. For me, personally it makes little difference what these guys are doing or where they are as long as they are doing it together. That looks to be the main focus of this first glimpse of Part III as the format for someone getting married and a bachelor party have been ditched and the boys are on some kind of quest for something that has the film looking very action-filled. There isn't as much comedy here as I hoped to see, but it is only a teaser and it is likely they have to save some of the best bits for the audience admitted to an R-rated film; here's hoping! It has likely become the hip thing to hate on this series because "everyone" disliked the second film, but it was fun if not innovative like the first. Think about that first one though, it was an instant classic in the realm of comedy and I trust Todd Phillips well enough to know he understands what people disliked about the second film and has fixed it with the third while still maintaining everything that made the first one such a huge success. The core cast is all back with Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha (though we don't see Doug once in the trailer) as well as returning members Ken Jeong, Heather Graham, Jamie Chung, Mike Epps, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor and some fresh blood in Melissa McCarthy and John Goodman. The Hangover Part III opens May 24th. Hit the jump to watch the trailer.

THE LAST EXORCISM PART II Review

I re-watched 2010's The Last Exorcism just the other day as I planned on seeing the sequel this week. I remembered liking it much more than I expected, but not for the reasons one expects when going to see a horror flick. No, I was never truly scared by what I saw on screen with the original film but more I was intrigued by the originality of it. Just when I thought I'd seen every kind of incarnation in which an exorcism could be presented on screen this found footage, documentary-like movie set a new standard for the exorcism film. The heart of that film, despite Ashley Bell's wonderfully innocent performance as sheltered yet possessed farm girl Nell Sweetzer, was Patrick Fabian as Reverend Cotton Marcus. Fabian created a charismatic character that was difficult to like, but at the same time able to create a sympathetic reasoning for his actions. He was a con man toying with peoples beliefs, but he was funny and to be fair he always had the best of intentions. The first film that needed no sequel, that called for no continuation of the story, or left anyone with a desire to see what happened to Nell (I think we all just assumed she died giving birth to a demon child!) was a brief hour and twenty-seven minutes long. The Last Exorcism Part II (which may be the most misleading title in the history of cinema) clocks in at only a minute longer, but feels like it goes on for days. It has an episodic feel to it that never picks up and never feels like a coherent work but instead a compilation of scenes that show our protagonist running from something, who we're never given a real reason as to why, and are expected to be frightened every time a loud sound interrupts the scene over and over again.

21 & OVER Review

It was inevitable that this years comedy premiering in March and also beginning with the number 21 would get nowhere close to the glory of last years. That comedy and its dynamic duo of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are a tough match yet despite their much larger popularity the boys of 21 & Over, Miles Teller and Skylar Astin, were able to put up a good enough effort to win them a good bit of credibility and respect. 21 Jump Street this is not, but coming out almost a year to the day as Project X (that one produced by Hangover director Todd Phillips) this all night long party of a movie is more in the vein of films such as that juvenile outing. This one, surprisingly enough, has a more sophisticated (for lack of a better word) approach and no handheld camera schtick or as large an element of disbelief distracting us either. As written and directed by the same guys who penned the original Hangover script, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, I'd have to say I was surprised by how much I took away from this film. It goes by at a breakneck speed and hits all the right, formulaic marks before finding a conscience at the end that teaches a fine enough lesson without feeling too hypocritical. The film is nothing anyone will find to be particularly groundbreaking and certainly won't stick around in anyone's mind for much longer than its theatrical run, but it is well enough fun and much better than it had any right to be. For that, it deserves a bit of positive word of mouth. It is one of those films easy to dismiss, hip to pass off, but if someone were to put it on in the background at a party I guarantee a good portion of the people would find their attention drawn to the antics onscreen.

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER Review

After being postponed nearly a year for post production reasons that involved more time for the special effects (where were the results of that?) as well as for a bigger marketing push we finally have the first new film from director Bryan Singer in four years. A retelling of the classic fairy tale, Jack the Giant Slayer (formerly titled Jack the Giant Killer) is another in a long line of Hollywood attempting to capitalize on a trend that never made it past the first lap. You can't completely fault them as this film was greenlit in 2009, well before Tim Burtons Alice in Wonderland began the trend of bringing old fairy tales to the modern audience with gigantic budgets.Though this trend hasn't exactly proved a winning one it will surely continue far past this fun, forgettable film that brings nothing new to the genre of fantasy and pure escapism but does nothing to harm it either. It is a perfectly acceptable two hours of amusing and imaginative storytelling that plays out exactly as we imagine it might, but the keyword is imaginative. Director Singer has always had a fun imagination and has incorporated it into both his stories and filmmaking techniques. Whether it be The Usual Suspects, X2, or even Superman Returns and Valkyrie I have always found something about the guys films to be endearing and impossible to dislike (yes, I liked Superman Returns, so sue me). This feeling continues with this film and whether it be the fact I have a soft spot for Singer or that I am more easily convinced in a pure fantasy world that everything is fun, I had a good time watching this movie. I didn't love it and it certainly has room for improvement in several areas, but it was enjoyable nonetheless and I'm not too upset about that outcome.