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Wednesday, 02 January 2013 16:07

Dreaming the dream Les Miserables'

Musical adaptation doesn't quite connect

Adapting a beloved work into a new medium is always a tricky prospect. Maybe it's a great work of literature, maybe it's a comic book, maybe it's a stage play regardless, if a cinematic adaptation is being made, chances are that there is a fairly devoted fan base out there a fan base that will let you know on no uncertain terms if you screw up their baby.

Published in Movies
First installment of trilogy strong in spots, but overlong

Certain films, by their very nature, are doomed to be disappointments.

Director Peter Jackson is once again taking audiences on a lengthy journey through the lands of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth. The director of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy has brought us the eagerly-anticipated first installment of 'The Hobbit.' This film, subtitled 'An Unexpected Journey,' leads off a brand new trilogy based on Tolkien's novel.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 22:34

Life of Pi' more style than substance

Film visually stunning, somewhat lacking in story

For many years, when a novel was referred to as 'unfilmable,' movie studios accepted it as such and more or less ignored it. Recently, however, it seems that Hollywood has taken that unfilmable label and viewed it as almost a dare.

The latest accepted challenge is 'Life of Pi,' based on Yann Martel's 2001 novel of the same name. The fantasy novel was adapted for the screen by David Magee ('Finding Neverland') and directed by Ang Lee ('Taking Woodstock').

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 15:41

Too much to watch in The Watch'

Comedy overwhelmed by its three leads

We're entering the tail end of blockbuster season. Now that the last of the three monster superhero releases has hit screens, with 'The Dark Knight Rises' flying by the $500 million mark in global box office, we can look forward to the gradual tapering off of the big showy premieres.

That's not to say we won't get some good movies over the next month or so. In fact, the chances are good that we're going to get some high-quality stuff.

Unfortunately, 'The Watch' doesn't really fall into that category.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 15:28

Step Up Revolution' stumbles

Film offers elaborate dance numbers and not much else

As a film critic, I have the opportunity to see a lot of films that I wouldn't necessarily choose to see. I'm a pretty easy audience I have a fairly wide range of interest but even then, I occasionally wind up seeing a film that is completely outside of my typical area of enjoyment.

Which brings us to 'Step Up Revolution.'

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 16:09

Father knows worst That's My Boy'

Sandler's first foray into R-rated comedy falls flat

It has become common in critical circles to look down on the works of Adam Sandler. Sandler's man-child antics have lost their luster for film critics around the world; those who watch movies for a living have grown tired of Sandler's never-changing shtick. And with good reason with very rare exception, the films that Sandler and his Happy Madison production company have produced have been getting steadily worse over the past decade-plus.

But hey millions of people go out and shell out their hard-earned dollars to see this junk, so what do the critics know?

Sandler's latest offering is 'That's My Boy,' yet another example of Sandler taking a promising comedic concept and hammering into the ground under wave after wave of repetitive idiocy and poorly-acted cameos from Sandler's buddies.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 13:48

Men in Black 3' surprisingly strong

Will Smith's screen return has humor and heart

When I initially heard about 'Men in Black 3,' I didn't think much of it. It's summertime; of course there are going to be blockbuster sci-fi/action sequels. That's just how it works. But when I sat down to actually watch the movie, something obvious only just then occurred to me.

I have never reviewed a Will Smith movie.

His last film was 'Seven Pounds,' released in 2008 (well before my published film criticism began). Despite the fact that Will Smith is (I think) still considered one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, he hasn't opened a movie in four years.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 15:10

They sank their Battleship'

Sci-fi action film flawed and formulaic

Sometimes when we go to the movies, we're looking for complex stories about the sorts of trials and tribulations we encounter in real life. They're dramatized of course, but at their core, these are stories that could have happened to us in some way, shape or form.

And sometimes, we just want to see some stuff blow up. Guess which category 'Battleship' falls under? Surprise the movie based on a board game isn't overly invested in character development!

The film is centered around Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch, 'John Carter'), a ne'er-do-well troublemaker whose latest scrape with the law finally pushes his brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard, TV's 'True Blood') to demand that Alex join the Navy. Flash forward a few years and Alex is progressing through the ranks, though he's never quite shed his inability to be bound by The Man's rules. He's also dating the lovely Samantha (Brooklyn Decker, 'What to Expect When You're Expecting'), a smart, tough woman who just happens to be the daughter of Alex's superior officer Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson, 'The Grey'). Because that's just how things work in movies like this.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 17:49

Quoth The Raven' total bore

Film is uninspired, unoriginal and uninteresting

Sometimes, you just know. Maybe you're watching a trailer or reading a preview; you're learning about an upcoming movie for the first time. Just like that, an epiphany about this movie strikes.

It is going to be terrible.

More often than not, that visceral first instinct is usually right when it comes to cinematic stinkers. And if you're like me, you got that feeling instantly upon your first view of the trailer for 'The Raven,' starring John Cusack ('Hot Tub Time Machine') as Edgar Allan Poe in some sort of action-adventure/mystery genre mishmash that at first glance doesn't seem to know what it wants to be.

Upon viewing the film, I can safely say this - that impression is wholly accurate.

Published in Movies
Thursday, 08 March 2012 11:40

Project X' deserves an F'

Party movie not much fun

Sometimes, a movie comes along that looks just terrible. You see the trailers and read the advance coverage and you think to yourself 'Man, what a steaming pile that movie is going to be.' Of course, you're still kind of titillated by the idea of going to see this awful, awful movie. Sometimes it's fun to see something you know is going to be bad.

But sometimes you get a movie that's beyond bad, a movie that is exponentially worse than even the terrible trailers ever indicated.

Sometimes you get 'Project X.'

Published in Movies
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