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.

THE HEAT Review

Much has been made of the fact it has taken this long to get a buddy cop film with two female leads made. There is certainly merit to this argument as The Heat is a ridiculously fun time at the movies even if the premise has been worn out for a good twenty years now. The plot is hardly what matters here as the real story is who's finally filled the roles of those two lead women and the chemistry between co-stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy is so strong it will surely convince anyone doubting the power of women at the box office. The film will no doubt be a hit as well as officially confirming McCarthy's status as a certifiable draw. She did well with the average (though some would say downright terrible) Identity Thief co-starring Jason Bateman who is a fine comic actor, but not necessarily a big box office draw on his own. Next to American sweetheart Sandra Bullock and under the direction of Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig, it is almost a guarantee that if there were a chance for women to get their fair share of summer blockbusters then this would more than be the way to go. There is plenty to complain about when it comes to The Heat as it doesn't possess the effortless balance of comedy and heart that the directors previous, female-powered, film so easily conveyed. Instead, The Heat doesn't need or even try to be anything more than a raunchy, no holds-barred action comedy that is more that able to be held up against any number of buddy cop movies that feature two male leads. I've never taken issue with the idea of women getting the short end of the stick when it comes to having the responsibility of a big budget studio comedy or any other genre on their shoulders, but I'm also a white male which puts me in the most favored demographic and therefore I don't really have much room to speak. What I will say is that I had a consistently good time throughout this well-intentioned if not mean-spirited piece of fluff that isn't here to say anything new or break any ground, but simply to make us laugh and in that regard it succeeds with comedy to spare.    

First Trailer for ESCAPE PLAN

Once referred to as The Tomb, the first trailer has arrived for the latest collaboration between action juggernauts Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Now titled Escape Plan, the story is one of Stallone's character being the foremost authority on prison security who is backhanded into a prison of his own design where he makes friends with Schwarzenegger's Swan (yes, his name in this movie is Swan) and they naturally create a plan to break out and be seriously bad ass in the process. It seems, at least from the trailer, that both stars are plenty aware of their current public personas and somewhat have a sly way of letting us know they're smarter than this material, but they know this is the type of movie we like to see them make. Still, the enthusiasm for this team-up might be somewhat waning as Expendables 2 didn't fare as well as expected last summer and both of these guys solo January/February efforts were rather solid duds. That isn't to say the style and genre in which those films were made (as throwbacks to the kinds of films that made them household names in the first place) was the wrong place to go, but there was nothing there for anyone to get too excited about. Here, there looks to at least be somewhat of an engaging premise that goes past simply blowing things up and finding the bad guy. There is a mind game aspect to the whole thing that require brains and brawn and not just the latter. It isn't always bad to have some brainless fun and the "Expendable" series provides that is spades, so there needs to be some type of different flavor mixed in with these other projects. Escape Plan will of course have plenty of action going for it as well, but I'm comforted by the presence of a strong supporting cast that includes Jim Caviezel, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Sam Neill, Amy Ryan and hey, even Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson seems to be well-handled here. Escape Plan also opens in the doldrums between the summer and Oscar seasons on September 27th which should help it find a bigger audience longing to have just a few more of those long, hot days back.

WORLD WAR Z Review

I read about one hundred pages of Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks) novel on which this latest Brad Pitt film is based but was never really able to dig into it. I hoped to finish it before seeing the resulting film, but upon consistently hearing the movie would be nothing like the book and after witnessing the format and technique with which the book was constructed it was clear the only way to make a movie that strictly adhered to that same format would have been to make a documentary-like film. As it was clear this was not the route taken by director Marc Forster and producer/star Pitt I gave up on the book with optimistic thoughts of returning to it at some point. It was clear the main concept the film had taken away from the novel was the idea of a global crisis, but that displaying the crisis on a global scale through a leading man was more attractive than jumping from perspective to perspective with multiple characters. There is no problem with this approach except for the fact that the only thing the novel and the actual film share is the title. I can understand why this might have caused Brooks to speak negatively about the film, but even this isn't the worst thing this movie had going against it before its release. That would be the on-set tension between Forster and Pitt as well as the issues with the ending of the film. That there were $20 million worth of re-shoots done and last minute re-writes to the script would all point towards the final product being a complete mess. Turns out, we should have simply had faith in Pitt all along as World War Z turns out to be an extremely tense, well-paced action movie that doesn't solely depend on that action to give it a pulse. This is a smart, surprisingly well-thought out film that is up front about its zombie problem and deals with it in a way that is terrifying due to the fact it is likely how things would actually happen were there to be some kind of infection turning your friends, family and fellow citizens into undead sprinters that bite and move on with their victims becoming the same frightening zombies in a matter of seconds.

THE BLING RING Review

It's not that I'm not a fan of Sofia Coppola, it's simply that I haven't seen any of her work outside of her 2003 breakthrough Lost in Translation and to make matters worse I was only sixteen when I watched that film and so I highly doubt I completely caught the gist of what it was saying or could analyze the points it was trying to make. I've always been intrigued by her work, both The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette have been on my "need-to-see" list for quite some time, but what would have likely best prepared me for her latest feature, The Bling Ring, is her film just prior that also takes a look at the vapid Hollywood lifestyle and the re-evaluation of it when a genuine life-changer is thrown into the mix. I've heard nothing but good things about that film, titled Somewhere, and am more interested than ever in checking it out now that I've seen what Coppola was going for in The Bling Ring. Despite the fact that it is extremely evident what the writer/director was going for in her latest film none of it ever really transfers over into the final product. The idea of exposing these dull brats for what they truly are and driving home the point of how flat and tasteless the results of their actions will eventually be which will of course echo in their older years has already been done this year, and to much greater effect. Harmony Korine served up a commentary on the youth of today and this culture they worship and want so desperately to be a part of earlier this year. Spring Breakers bombarded us with attractive images and ridiculous rituals that have become acceptable among the college set while ultimately teaching us through its main character that being eager to learn and experience new things can also lead to maturity if one is able to put the world in perspective and not fall for the instant gratification. The Bling Ring doesn't have anything as heavy to say, it simply wants to show you how materialistic the kids of California have become and how this obsession with celebrity for sake of celebrity isn't a good sign for future generations. It gives us nothing more than the facts of a true story, but nothing about its execution makes it shine.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY Review

Leave it to Pixar to deliver a movie that is not only fun, but honest in a way most films for kids tend to avoid. When movies aimed at the younger set skew the truth in order to make everything turn out in the best of ways for the main characters it is hard to sometimes take the lessons it is trying to teach with more than a grain of salt. Now, given the fact we know where the story of Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) eventually ends up it is not without surprise it was an adventure getting to that point, but what is slightly surprising is the way in which they so effortlessly stumble upon their careers in a world that's been completely imagined and realized through technology. This authenticity of the world created for these movies lends itself well to the lesson here that you aren't always going to get what you want no matter how hard you work, but instead the cold truth has to be accepted and in some ways you come out stronger and more proud having admitted and come to terms with your own weaknesses. Though the idea of hard work always paying off is a nice sentiment and in a perfect world might be true, the real world doesn't always allow our dreams to pan out the way we hoped and so we have to adjust to fulfill the potential of the hand in which we were dealt. That all may sound somewhat insightful given the fact the point of discussion here is an animated film, but that is what continues to set Pixar so much further ahead of the pack. Sure, they've had their missteps over the past few years as no one was asking for a sequel to Cars and despite the fact I found it gorgeous and engaging the majority of audiences and critics weren't too pleased with Brave. Monsters University may not be the return to top form the majority of people are hoping it will be, but by this point the bar is so ridiculously high for Pixar it is almost unattainable. On the plus side, this prequel to 2001's Monster's Inc. is a hilarious and colorful adventure that will have the kiddies in stitches and the parents chuckling at all the references and college humor their children are too young to even comprehend.  

New Trailer for ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND CONTINUES

In what is my most anticipated film of the year (I realize how ridiculous that may sound to some of you, but Anchorman defined the comedy of my teen years) Ron Burgundy returns to the screen for the first time since 2004 and it couldn't be with more excitement that I welcome the news team back for another round. Every single collaboration between star Will Ferrell and writer/director Adam McKay might as well have been a home run. The first Anchorman film is beyond cult status now that the sequel is coming out, Talladega Nights has more quotable lines than anything else I've seen in the past seven years while Step Brothers was the "one for them" that also pleased everybody else and remains as hilarious now as it was the first time I saw it in 2008. Even The Other Guys is an under-appreciated gem that should really get more credit for Mark Wahlberg's comedy renaissance that Ted receives. Because of this track record I have nothing but faith in the Ferrell/McKay team and that they wouldn't risk tarnishing their legacy with anything less than spectacular when it came to making not only their first sequel, but the sequel to the film featuring their most beloved character. If this first trailer with all new footage is any indication we are in for more of the same humor with plenty of new faces and a new decade to riff on that will bring a fresh perspective to the comedy. Paul Rudd looks appropriately ridiculous with his facial hair as Brian Fantana and Steve Carell is already delivering lines as Brick that will be repeated countless times until something new comes along in future trailers or in the film itself. We don't get too much of Dave Koechner's Champ here, but we are given a glimpse of how cameo-filled this film is going to be with Ed Helms, Kristen Wiig, and James Marsden (who actually has a strong supporting role it seems) already popping up here. I am beyond excited for the film, but I am also optimistic about the results as the makers have given me no reason to doubt them. The stars seem to have aligned and hopefully this will deliver as much legacy to the legend as the first film came to do. The film also stars Christina Applegate, Dylan Baker, Meagan Good, Greg Kinnear, and Harrison Ford. Anchorman: The Legend Continues opens on December 20th.

First Trailer for THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

I haven't read Jordan Belfort's non-fiction book, The Wolf of Wall Street, about his rise and fall in the stocks game during the 1990's that Martin Scorsese has adapted as his latest project, but as the first trailer has arrived it seems I will be unable to avoid it before the films November release. When first hearing of the project I imagined this would be some type of  serious drama about a stockbroker who cheated the system and had such a unique way of doing so they decided to make a movie about it. After watching the trailer it is clear this movie will be nothing like what I initially expected. It may in fact even turn out that leading man Leonardo DiCaprio may finally win that Oscar not for playing a necessarily serious or important character but instead for his portrayal of this drug-addicted, hard-partying guy that knows how to have fun. DiCaprio leads a great cast as well with Matthew McConaughey showing up for what looks like a small, but memorable role that might get him in the best supporting actor category where he should have been last year for Magic Mike. Jonah Hill also looks to follow-up his Oscar-nominated work in Moneyball with more than just broad comedies as he looks to be DiCaprio's right hand man here which could end up being an inspired pairing that I'm very much looking forward to. I placed this film on my top 10 most anticipated list for the year based simply on the fact it was another collaboration between DiCaprio and Scorsese, but I am all the more excited to see how great this movie turns out to be when it hits theaters on November 15th. The film also stars Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Margot Robbie, Jon Bernthal, and Rob Reiner. Hit the jump to check out the first trailer.

MAN OF STEEL Review

To first put my perspective of Superman in check would be to inform you of what I've seen before. There are of course the first two Christopher Reeve movies (I skipped out on III and IV simply because I've heard nothing but terrible things) from which I moved onto Bryan Singer's 2006 Superman Returns. I enjoyed the romanticism and meditation of that film despite it now being panned by pretty much any fan boy you talk to. I've never seen an episode of "Smallville" and sans for a couple of animated features my knowledge of the DC mainstay is somewhat limited. Thus it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to a new vision, a re-booted film interpretation in line with Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy that has defined the space that films based on DC comics characters will occupy in this Marvel world. Personally, and as much as I enjoy the Marvel movies, I was more intrigued and engaged by the bleak and more serious moods that hung over the Nolan films as they were appropriate to the central characters tone. Though I was slightly concerned with this same tone not applying to the guy commonly referred to as the ultimate boy scout it seems that persona was not always true and director Zack Snyder along with Nolan as a producer and David Goyer (who also penned the screenplay for Batman Begins) have adapted the Superman story to not only exist in a similar universe with Nolan's Batman films, but within his own, more realistic world that doesn't simply pit the classic superhero against a bad guy in order to champion truth, justice and the American way. What they have done here and what makes me appreciate the film all the more is that while keeping in step with the kind of movies Nolan has made DC could attempt a Justice League movie in the future with this as a good place to start, but it also doesn't limit itself to that same completely realistic world of what we know because Superman is an alien and with that they ask the question of what would happen in a real world setting if Superman were to show up. It is that basic set-up that guides the film throughout and, despite a few flaws, had me gushing with excitement for what may come next.

First Trailer for 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

It was hard to decide when Warner Bros. moved the sequel to Zack Snyder's breakout film 300, 300: Rise of an Empire, from this August to next March whether that was due to something having to do with the production or the quality. As we have received the first and more extensive first trailer today it seems there is something to believe in here and shifting the release from a late Summer, easily disregarded date to match the release of the original in that now coveted first weekend of March might mean good things for audiences who enjoyed the first film. As a 20 year-old male I dug the highly stylized action and as a film student found the film visually striking. Though it also is one of the finest examples of style over substance there is plenty to enjoy and looking back on it six years later it holds up rather well. The trailer is no doubt debuting so far ahead of its release date to the fact Snyder was a producer this time around and his latest,a little film you may have heard of called Man of Steel, is opening this weekend. Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo from the first film) narrates most of the trailer here as the story is said to take place around the same time as the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Based on Frank Millers latest graphic novel "Xerxes" and directed by Noam Murro (Smart People) we follow Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton of Animal Kingdom) as he leads an army against Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) as they take to the high seas that leads to a confrontation with Artemisia (Eva Green) the commander of the Persian navy. The visual style seems to be intact and the battle scenes look to be as blood-splatteringly graphic as those we witnessed under Snyder's helm. I wasn't expecting much from this sequel that probably should have come along much sooner if it was going to capitalize on the momentum of the first, but given the trailer looks much better than I expected and I'm interested to see how this turns out. What do you think? Will it have been worth the wait? Hit the jump to check out the trailer and let me know what you think. 300: Rise of an Empire opens on March 7, 2014.

THIS IS THE END Review

This is the End feels like the epitome of something I've been waiting a long time for. In reality it is slightly odd to think that this kind of product would ever be made and sold to general audiences, but luckily it seems the one almost guaranteed way for these actors who have now become staples of the American comedy scene to regain their place among the Hollywood elite and re-establish themselves as the kings of the comedy genre is to make fun of themselves and they do that to hilarious results here. Anyone who has ever been really into movies and has ever loved a certain comedic actor or group of actors knows what it's like to want to hang out with those kinds of guys and girls because you too feel like they would love to be your friend if not for anything else but because you share that same sense of humor they've branded. As creepy as that may come off or as much as they probably wouldn't care to be your friend at all we come to feel we know the actors in our comedies better than anyone else in the movies because they always relate closest to the kind of people around us, if not always intentionally. That may come off as slightly delusional to some, but to those who watch a good amount of movies, especially comedies, and to those that surround themselves with people that they find to be genuinely funny than I imagine it is as true for them as it is for me. All of that is to say that my anticipation and expectations for This is the End were pretty high. As one of the many apocalyptic comedies coming out this year I was also worried the film may not get the recognition I hoped it would so likely deserve, but first time directors Seth Rogen and his long time collaborator Evan Goldberg strike just the right chord between horror and comedy and lay claim to the fact they've had this in the works longer than anyone else. Thankfully, This is the End gives this brand of goofy subversive humor new life in the form of a sharp satire that invites us to experience the end of the world with who our minds have come to place as some of the most ridiculously funny people working today.

First Trailer for THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

If you read my take on the first film in Peter Jackson's second trilogy that concerns itself with Middle Earth then you know I'm not a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's universe and the novels that have inspired these films. I might be if I were ever to take the time to read them, but I've simply never been as fascinated with the fantasy world that includes such things as elves, dragons, dwarfs, and hobbits as many others so clearly have. Still, I am more than willing to watch the films and The Lord of the Rings trilogy proved to be a monumental achievement in cinema. With last years An Unexpected Journey I warmed up to the idea of the film and especially Martin Freeman's turn as Bilbo Baggins along with several of the new and returning characters. Still, the picture so highly relied on special effects that half the time I felt as if I were watching a video game and that trend seems to have continued here in The Desolation of Smaug. Granted, they still have until December to perfect some of these shots, I simply hope the digital aspects of the world help compliment it rather than define it this time around. We also get our first look at Orlando Bloom's return as Legolas with this trailer and a first ever look at Evangeline Lily as Tauriel, Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman and Lee Pace (who was underrated in the overcrowded Lincoln last year and will show up in Guardians of the Galaxy next year) as Thranduil. Though I'm a bit disappointed they show so much of the titular dragon here rather than a simple tease as they did in the first film I'm still anxious to see how this turns out based on its high profile status alone. Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, James Nesbitt, and Andy Serkis also star. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens in 48 FPS and in 3D on December 13th. Hit the jump to check out the trailer and let me know what you think.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 11, 2013

THE INTERNSHIP Review

Going into a movie like The Internship you already know what you're going to get and if you have convinced yourself of what this will be and have set your expectations to a certain level then this PG-13 comedy of misfits will have you more impressed than those initial standards might have inclined you to believe. I personally am a big fan of the people involved here and would have welcomed a Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson reunion much sooner after their 2005 runaway hit Wedding Crashers, but instead of going for the easy way out and continuing to team up with one another these guys ultimately decided to stray from their core comedy group altogether. Sure, Vaughn made a few with his little crew of friends that include Jason Bateman, Peter Billingsly, and Jon Favreau, but he also made one too many Christmas-themed movies and didn't fully take advantage of the opportunity that Wedding Crashers ultimately afforded him. Wilson has had similar troubles as of late not starring as a leading man in a genuine hit since 2008's Marley & Me. He has gained more credibility after the success of Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, but his mainstream efforts like Hall Pass and The Big Year didn't do much to keep his name strong in the genre he became most notable for. Granted we are no longer in the first five years of the new millennium and efforts like Old School, Zoolander, Starsky & Hutch, and Dodgeball are now relegated to a time long past, but nonetheless I've always enjoyed watching these guys individually and the one time they teamed up prior will forever be a point of nostalgia, so I was more than open and willing to give The Internship a fair shot. Maybe it was because the trailers weren't too impressive, maybe because I expected it to receive a lukewarm reception, or maybe because I finally admitted to myself these guys are getting older and a time will come when they no longer make broad comedies and that this may in fact be the nail in the coffin, but whatever it was I came out more pleased with the film than I ever expected. Maybe these guys have a little more to give after all.      

THE PURGE Review

When Ethan Hawke showed up in last years legitimately scary Sinister I was happy to see the actor branch out slightly and give the genre picture a go. I was also glad he paired with the director of one of my other favorite scary movies of the last ten years, The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Upon seeing the first trailers and promotional materials for The Purge though I thought he might have jumped in head first too quickly and began splurging on the kinds of roles in the kinds of movies that might eventually end up in the five dollar bin. While this second trip into scary movie-land is not as intriguing or mysterious as the aforementioned Sinister it has an interesting enough premise to draw people towards it (and the creepy, over exaggerated face masks are always a plus in home invasion thrillers). Director James DeMonaco, who has only directed one previous feature before this, has also composed a script that contains a fair amount of potential in the points it is trying to make and the message it is trying to get across, but unfortunately we never really see any of the gritty realities of this new found way of life. No, instead of diving into that real potential the film could have brought to the experience it instead quickly dissolves into that standard home invasion film where we see every plot twist coming and every supposed scare is as obvious as how this whole thing is going to end up. There were times the movie almost had me fooled, had me thinking it was going to go a different way, but heaven forbid it do such a thing as to dare to make the audience unhappy. This timid nature ultimately results in the most typical conclusion led up to by the least surprising and least effective set of circumstances. Worse than all of this is the fact there are no likable characters here. We don't like our supposed protagonists from the beginning because they've succumbed to this annual event that makes little sense and we don't like their kids or their new enemies because they all make dumb decisions. In the end, there is only one word that comes to mind when I reflect on what this turned out to be: pointless.  

First Trailer for BLUE JASMINE

I've never been a huge Woody Allen fan, but then again I haven't really bothered to get to know his body of work all that well either, so I could possibly be I guess. I really became more aware of the writer/dierctor in 2011 when I was taken completely by surprise with his wonderful Midnight in Paris. I'd seen Match Point my senior year of high school have since seen a few more of his yearly efforts. I knew going into Paris it was an Allen film, but was mainly there for the fact it was Owen Wilson and the storyline pertained to classic literary and other artistic figures. As it went, that turned out to be one of my favorite films of that year and so I was very much looking forward to the continued efforts of the aging filmmaker. His To Rome With Love was fine enough, but certainly not the worthy successor Midnight deserved, but his latest, Blue Jasmine looks as if it might have that potential. Alec Baldwin again appears here, this time as a white collar criminal who wines and dines Cate Blanchett only to leave her penniless. The trailer gives a distinct Allen vibe as it is dialogue-heavy and sets up several dynamics between what seem like some pretty interesting characters. Not to mention Allen has rounded up a rather eclectic cast here as Blanchett's Jasmine goes from being a New York housewife (Allen's safety zone) to living with her sister (Sally Hawkins of Happy Go Lucky) in San Francisco. The ensemble cast looks to provide plenty of Allen's typical comedy while the conflict of the lead character in the middle of a kind of identity/emotional crisis seems to have provided Blanchett a nice platform to deliver another great performance. I'm not usually excited for the next Woody Allen film as much as I'm willing to give it a shot, but this one has captured my attention and I'm genuinely looking forward to what it has to offer. Blue Jasmine also stars Louis C.K., Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Andrew Dice Clay and Bobby Cannavale and opens in limited release on July 26th.  
Hit the jump to check out the trailer.

First Trailer for RUNNER, RUNNER

When your movie has two guys in peak form at the top of their careers with a director whose last film began the rejuvenation that is now informing Matthew McConaughey's career there will naturally be interest in the film and those things, more than anything are what intrigue me about Brad Furman's (The Lincoln Lawyer) latest Runner, Runner. I said last week with the premiere of the Prisoners trailer that September, as it has the past few years, continues to stack up a pretty impressive line of films where we are usually given Hollywood's leftovers. Go ahead and add this one to the list because despite the fact that it looks rather generic and chummy, it has Ben Affleck (fresh off Argo winning best picture and many in the industry sympathetic for him after not being nominated for best director) chewing serious scenery and hamming it up while Justin Timberlake (at the height of his musical game having the biggest selling album of 2013 so far) gives the dramatic material another go. I didn't bother to finish Trouble With the Curve last fall, but I liked In Time well enough that despite the fact Timberlake is a better comedian he might still have range enough for more serious roles. What helps this trailer from coming off as nothing more than a generic 90's movie rip-off is the fact that the directors previous work was a finely tuned dramatic thriller that had a nice gritty tone to go along with it and this film seems to be very much in the same vein. Affleck likely won't be winning any more Oscars for this one, but it will be a fun, distracting time at the movies with what will hopefully be re-enforcement to how gifted an actor Affleck still is along with his directing skills. I like everyone involved here and I'm hoping for the best so I'm certainly looking forward to the film. Runner, Runner also stars Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, Ben Schwartz, Dayo Okeniyi, Oliver Cooper and opens September 27th. Hit the jump to check out the trailer.

First Trailer for INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2

I was, for lack of a better word, pissed when they quickly announced a sequel to the surprise hit Insidious in 2011. It was a great little horror film that didn't necessarily need a sequel and the purpose of making one was clearly only for the reason of making a profit. Since, we haven't heard much about the sequel and I was generally surprised to see that director James Wan was able to return as quick as the studios wanted him to have this one out due to the fact he also made July's much-raved about The Conjuring (though that film was supposed come out in January, but was pushed back to the middle of summer due to great early reception). With the premiere of the first trailer it was also nice to find out that there was a reason for the use of "chapter" in the title as this second film picks up right where the first left off and is an actual continuation of the same story and that the entire cast is back for this sequel. While the trailer seems to bring back all the aspects that made the first film a genuinely frightening theater experience it doesn't give off the creepy vibe that accompanied the first trailer for The Conjuring. Wan seems intent to keep the same atmosphere in place around this film and make it very much a companion piece to the first film which is promising to those of us who have doubts the film should even exist, but it is comforting to know that besides a likely larger budget the production seems to have followed the path of the first film (they shot this film in 26 days and the first in 21) but my concern lies with how quick the script was completed. If the story was as rushed then we may see some issues. Wan has also said though that he always had another storyline for the Lambert family if the first film did well and I just hope he and his team were able to pick up from the already high stakes the end of the first film left us with and run with them. The film stars Ty Simpkins, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, and Lin Shaye. Insidious: Chapter 2 opens on September 13th. Hit the jump to check out the trailer and a few stills.

AFTER EARTH Review

It is odd to be so let-down by a project containing so many working parts that you can usually believe in and rely on or even possess a major part that you'd like to believe might start working to the best of its abilities again. Everything about the latest Will Smith sci-fi film, After Earth, though feels lazy and re-hashed as if they were coming up with things to do, obstacles to overcome on the spot and relying on cheap special effects to fill in the rest come post production. What is most irritating about this entire project though is that it so effortlessly takes itself seriously yet could not come off as more immature. There is a spark at the very beginning where it drops us right into the middle of the action, where for a split second I thought this might have deserved more than the critical lashing it received gave it credit for, but just as that thought entered my mind we began getting voice over from one Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) that gave us the back story of who his father was, where we were at presently, why the human race was there and several other details of exposition that could have just as easily been explored and revealed in a more interesting movie. Also take note that this piece of dialogue and every other line no matter who it was delivered by is spoken in an accent that seems to evoke every impersonation I've ever heard of John F. Kennedy. Like much of the film, this idea of having every human offspring who lived past the days of calling earth our home adapt the same speaking patterns and dialect is interesting, but the execution proves more distracting than anything else (and this is coming from a guy who didn't mind the gibberish talk in Cloud Atlas). Thus this is only one of many complaints I began to log away as After Earth continued to play out in what ultimately feels very brief and more disappointingly, unaffecting. I've always liked Will Smith and thought of him as a charming, charismatic guy that was always fun to watch on screen, but his character here has none of those qualities and with that persona completely absent it leaves the film feeling equally as hollow as his Cypher Raige.