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Pixar, which is famous for its vibrant movies, original and humorous characters, seemed to be able to do no wrong. It could knock sequels out of the park with box office numbers envied by all those around them. So I was incredibly excited when I first started hearing about 'Brave,' which at first was nothing more than a screenshot of a feisty red-haired archer. This was to be Pixar's first female heroine - how cool! Too bad they traded in all of their original and creative storytelling for tired tropes and clichs.

'Brave' centers around Merida, a fiery Celtic princess who is chafing under her mother's lessons in being a lady. She would rather be out gallivanting with her horse Angus and plunking targets with her bow. When she finds out that she's to be betrothed to one of the three eldest sons of the local clans she is determined to change her fate. Stop me if you've heard this one before Oh, you probably have. Hold on, I need to finish.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 15:19

Revisiting historywith an ax

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' gory fun and completely insane

By any measure, Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest presidents this country has ever had. They don't put you on Mount Rushmore for being a slouch. But according to 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,' there's a whole lot more to the legend of Honest Abe than America could have ever dreamed.

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov and adapted by Seth Grahame-Smith from his own 2010 novel of the same name, 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' promised to be the wildest, most gloriously absurd offering of the entire summer. Frankly, the title tells you everything you need to know.

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, 20 June 2012 16:05

Rock of Ages' less than solid

Movie musical combines the worst of Broadway, 80s rock

While they were once a vital part of the cinematic landscape, movie musicals have become much more of a hit or miss proposition. A musical with both good music and good execution can still be a bona fide hit, but the sad truth is that one or the other of those two primary factors is often found lacking.

'Rock of Ages,' based on the hit Broadway musical of the same name, is Hollywood's latest effort.

It's 1987 the golden age of the LA rock scene. Young Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough, 'Footloose') is a starry-eyed girl who has moved to the big city from Tulsa, Oklahoma to be a famous singer. Upon her arrival, she meets Drew (Diego Boneta, TV's '90210'), an aspiring young rocker who just happens to work at the legendary Bourbon Room, a music club owned and operated by aging rocker Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin, TV's '30 Rock') and his assistant Lonny (Russell Brand, 'Arthur').

Published in Movies
Thursday, 14 June 2012 07:52

Prometheus' rises

Ridley Scott prequel lives up to the hype

Ridley Scott is a master of creating atmosphere. His films always have a lush visual aesthetic that elevates them. He's also got some wonderful horror sensibilities; the first 'Alien' mined epic scares with cardboard cutouts and lighting tricks. His bromance with Russell Crowe has gotten to be a bit much as of late, so it was probably time for Ridley get some alone time.

So we get 'Prometheus.' Scott is returning to the near-future universe of 'Alien' only this time with a multimillion studio budget. Would the money enhance what Scott already brings to the table? Or would he get bogged down by the budget's temptations and expectations?

Turns out it's the former.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 15:06

Who's the lamest of them all?

Latest Snow White' adaptation both overwrought and dull

We live in an age of recycled creativity. The number of original stories that are being told in our popular media seems to shrink with each year that passes.

This shrinkage is what leads us to the release of 'Snow White and the Huntsman,' the second reboot of the classic fairy tale to debut in less than three months ('Mirror Mirror' hit screens at the end of March). So not only is it a story that has been told countless times before, it's a story that was just told a few weeks ago.

They're different movies, to be sure 'Snow White and the Huntsman' adopts a darker, more adult tone than its predecessor. However, that darkness and thematic maturity doesn't change the fact that this movie simply isn't very good.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 13:40

Dear Diary - This movie is terrible

Chernobyl Diaries' bland, boring and uninspired

You know you're in for a long one when you're 15 minutes into a horror movie and you realize that you're already rooting for the heroes to die.

That, alas, was my lot upon watching 'Chernobyl Diaries.' The film's pedigree has been pushed pretty hard writer Oren Peli was the brains behind the 'Paranormal Activity' films but that comparison only serves to remind us how thin and gimmicky the 'PA' films turned out to be. Add to that the fact that the film was never screened for critics and you get a film that the studio is obviously less than enthused about.

The lack of enthusiasm is warranted.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 17:53

The Five Year Engagement' almost great

Romantic comedy suffers from excess length

Ongoing Hollywood relationships are relatively rare, so it's interesting when a creative team reunites for another project. It's of particular interest when the previous undertaking was a strong one.

Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel came together in a big way with 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall,' a huge success both critically and commercially. So when 'The Five Year Engagement' came along getting the band back together, so to speak the level of anticipation was high. But sometimes these collaborations aren't meant to be recreated, and when they're forced, they usually wind up falling flat.

This one works. Well mostly works.

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, 26 April 2012 09:22

The Unlucky One

Sparks adaptation overwrought, underdeveloped

There are few writers out there who have mastered the art of emotional manipulation quite like Nicholas Sparks. And Hollywood has taken notice, adapting seven of his books to the big screen. He's responsible for such tearjerkers as 'A Walk To Remember,' 'Dear John,' 'Message in a Bottle' and of course, the Sparksiest of them all, 'The Notebook.' Number seven just hit the big screen with the opening of 'The Lucky One.'

Logan Thibeault (Zac Efron, 'The Lorax') is a Marine sergeant serving in Iraq. One day while standing guard, he catches a glimpse of something half buried in the sand. He goes to retrieve it; it turns out to be a laminated picture of a woman. As he looks at it, a rocket attack hits precisely where he had just been standing. From then on, Logan views it as a sort of lucky charm.

When he gets out of the service, Logan is determined to track down the woman from the photo. His journey takes him from Colorado to Louisiana, where he finally finds Beth Green (Taylor Schilling, 'Atlas Shrugged: Part I'). She runs a pet boarding kennel along with her grandmother Ellie (Blythe Danner, 'What's Your Number?'). When Logan arrives, he intends to tell Beth about the picture but instead gets swept into the idyllic small-town life of the Greens.

Published in Movies
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