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Wednesday, 02 November 2011 20:36

Puss in Boots' almost purr-fect

Written by Allen Adams
Dreamworks film for kids, adults alike

I am unapologetic in my love for animated movies. Sure, they're aimed at children. So what? I'm just a kid at heart. Besides, companies like Pixar and Dreamworks have long been crafting multilayered animated extravaganzas that work on one level for the kiddies and a much different, more sophisticated level for us grown-ups.

If there was any doubt that 'Puss in Boots,' the latest offering from Dreamworks, would have that same dual sensibility, it was put to rest right from the opening moments, as we watch the title character dress himself and tiptoe away from a snoozing kitty and her pillow bed. We adults certainly register the naughty implications, but stuff like that barely registers with the youngsters.
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 20:28

The Rum Diary' worth a shot

Written by Allen Adams
Film more character study than story

As a longtime fan of the work of Hunter S. Thompson, I was thrilled to hear about the film adaptation of his early novel 'The Rum Diary.' However, when I then heard about how much difficulty the film had in finding a distributor, my excitement was tempered.

Overall, it could have been worse.

'The Rum Diary' has at its center journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp, 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'), a mildly fictionalized version of Mr. Thompson. He goes to work for the San Juan Star in Puerto Rico in 1960, a tumultuous time for both the island and the people who live there. Kemp meets a motley crew of journalistic cast-offs and characters. Guys like Sala (Michael Rispoli, 'Kick-Ass') and Moberg (Giovanni Ribisi, 'Avatar'), a photographer and reporter respectively who have addled their brains with booze and drugs and largely settled into a life of low-rent hedonism. You've also got Lotterman (Richard Jenkins, 'Hall Pass'), the Star's editor/publisher and a guy who is clearly barely in control.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011 14:26

All for none

Written by Allen Adams
The Three Musketeers' uninspired and uninteresting

There's nothing inherently wrong in adapting a classic story to the screen, even if it has been done numerous times before. There's a reason certain stories are classics - they're good stories. If someone has a new take to bring to a classic, why not take a shot?

However, too often these sorts of remakes are simple rehashes of what has gone before. Sure, there are some cosmetic differences and a few changes in style, but at their core, they're essentially the same movie. They simply cash in on the name recognition connected with the story, leaving audiences with nothing more than yet another steaming heap of mediocrity.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011 05:39

A dish served lukewarm

Written by Allen Adams
'Columbiana' a dull and disappointing tale of revenge

All I knew about the new movie "Columbiana" going in was that Zoe Saldana ("Avatar") was the star and noted French action-freak Luc Besson wrote the screenplay and produced the film. With just those two pieces in place, I figured we had a shot at something interesting.

After all, Besson has shown on numerous occasions ("La Femme Nikita", "The Fifth Element") that he has a knack for creating kick-ass chicks. Add to that resume scripts like "The Professional," "The Transporter" and "Taken" - we're clearly looking at a guy who knows how to write an action movie.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011 05:38

The rapid spread of 'Contagion'

Written by Allen Adams
Film offers realistic possibilities of pandemic

Hollywood has been in love with the idea of the disaster movie for decades. The potential for huge, effects-laden blockbusters is obviously a temptation for studios looking for big box office receipts. However, these efforts tend to be hit or miss.

"Contagion," directed by Stephen Soderbergh ("The Informant!"), might just be the biggest hit in recent memory.

The film offers a glimpse at what might happen if a new disease emerged, a disease that is easily transmitted, incubates quickly and constantly mutates - and is fatal in as many as a third of the people it infects. Lynn Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow, "Country Strong") returns from a business trip to Hong Kong feeling a bit under the weather, only to see her health quickly fail. Her death, as well as the death of her son, greatly impacts her husband Mitch (Matt Damon, "The Adjustment Bureau") - one of the lucky people who prove naturally immune.

Wednesday, 07 September 2011 05:38

Bad moon rising

Written by Allen Adams
'Apollo 18' offers different kind of thriller

When you hear about a film's release date being pushed back multiple times despite being completed, it raises an eyebrow. It's the same thing when you hear about a film not being screened in advance for critics. And if both of these scenarios apply to the same film?

It's not looking good.

Such is the case with "Apollo 18," a science fiction thriller born of the "found footage" genre. The movie purports to have been edited together from 84 hours of mysterious confidential NASA recordings uploaded to a conspiracy website.

Wednesday, 03 August 2011 05:38

Crazy, Stupid, Good.

Written by Allen Adams
Romantic comedy best of summer

Love is hard. That's what almost every romantic comedy would have you believe. Love is hard - for a while. There will be obstacles that are inevitably overcome and everything works out and love wins in the end.

Where "Crazy, Stupid, Love." differs from its rom-com brethren is in the way that it shows that difficulty both honestly and humorously.

It's the story of Cal Weaver (Steve Carell, "Dinner for Schmucks"), a man in his early 40s whose wife (Julianne Moore, "The Kids Are All Right") surprises him with a confession of infidelity and a request for a divorce. Cal moves out and finds himself falling in with the womanizing Jacob (Ryan Gosling, "Blue Valentine"), who takes Cal under his wing and helps him find his way in the new dating world.

Meanwhile, the Weavers' 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo, "Choke") is in love with the babysitter, Cal's wife may or may not be falling for a co-worker, Jacob may or may not have met the woman of his dreams (Emma Stone, "Easy A") and it's all very complicated.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 05:38

On the hunt with 'Trollhunter'

Written by Allen Adams

Every once in a while, I see a movie that just blows me away. These are the movies where I walk in with high expectations and have those expectations met...then exceeded. Movies that are great in ways both predicted and unexpected.

Which brings me to "Trollhunter."

"Trollhunter," which is out on DVD this week and had a well-attended screening during the KahBang Film Festival, is the story of three college students traveling through Norway in order to make a documentary about a bear poacher. Things take a decided turn, however, when they discover that Hans, the man they seek, is not a bear poacher but rather a troll hunter - and a government-licensed one at that.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011 05:38

Maid of Honor

Written by Allen Adams
Period piece tells tale of racism, relationships

Movies with messages tend to be few and far between in the summertime, in these months of romantic comedies and CGI explosions. So when you see one - even one as deliberately saccharine as "The Help" - it warrants mentioning.

"The Help," adapted from Kathryn Stockett's novel by Tate Taylor (who also directed the film), is the story of one woman's attempt to tell the story of 1960s Jackson, Mississippi's black/white dichotomy from the point of view of "the help" - the multitude of African-Americans who cooked the meals, cleaned the houses and raised the children of Jackson's white families.

Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan (Emma Stone, "Crazy Stupid Love") is an aspiring writer who has returned to her Jackson home fresh out of college and looking to make her way. As she finds herself questioning the racist attitudes of those around her - especially childhood friend Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard, "Hereafter") - she decides that she wants to write a book telling the stories of Jackson's maids.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011 05:38

Changing things up

Written by Allen Adams
"The Change-Up" has dirty mouth, warm heart

It's been a few years since the heyday of the body-switching comedy. Films such as "Vice Versa" and "18 Again" flopped in the 1980s, while Lindsay Lohan's half-hearted "Freaky Friday" remake and Zac Efron's execrable "17 Again" are of a bit more recent vintage. However, Hollywood had yet to project its current crass, gross-out sensibility onto one of these types of films.

So now we have "The Change-Up."

This film revolves around two best friends. The first is Dave (Jason Bateman; "Horrible Bosses"), a workaholic family man who is driven to make partner at his law firm and make the best life possible for his wife (Leslie Mann; "Funny People") and kids. The other is Mitch (Ryan Reynolds; "Green Lantern"), an underemployed actor who spends most of his time getting stoned and picking up wildly unbalanced women.

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