Sahara   (Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz)
 I was able to take some people with me to see Sahara.  Two raved about the "non-stop action."  Another fell asleep.  I'm somewhere between them...  The action sequences are very good.  There are clever stunts with fun, hard-driving music cranked up to go along with them.  But there are too many long gaps in between.  What we get then are Matthew McConaughey's pearly whites, as if that's enough to carry a movie.  (It Is What It Is)



Salt  (Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber)
Before there was CGI, there was the CIA.  And the FBI. And the KGB.  And back then, the organizations with those initials were responsible for our spy thrillers.  They renew their rivalry in the new Angelina Jolie thriller Salt, and fittingly, the movie is a throwback to days when stunts – not special effects – drove an action movie... As much of a throwback as Salt is, it also make some strides.  Salt is clearly intended to be a new action movie franchise, and there aren’t that many like it headlined by a woman.  In fact, Salt was written for man, but Jolie proves a good actor in good, athletic shape is a good actor in good athletic shape, regardless of gender.   (Tremendous)

School For Scoundrels   (Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Heder)
It's really just a variation of Rushmore, with Jon Heder as a second-rate Jason Schwartzman and Billy Bob Thornton playing an evil Bill Murray.  It's also not nearly as funny.  (Kept Checking My Watch)

Scoop   (Scarlett Johansson, Woody Allen, Hugh Jackman)
Woody Allen is continuing his "Non-Manhattan" tour. He of course performed here in Rochester with his jazz band, and now he's got his second movie in a row set in London... Match Point was a darker, much more serious Woody Allen movie about sex and ultimately, murder.  Scoop is about, well, sex and murder again, but this time Woody's made a charming little whimsical comedy.  (Tremendous)





Scott Pilgrim vs. The World   (Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead)
"If you haven’t played a video game in about ten years or haven’t read a modern graphic novel, you may watch Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and wonder “What in the world am I looking at?"...  It looks like the real world, but then you’re reminded it’s not when you see the word “Rinnngggg” come out of a phone or you see someone’s wardrobe change in an instant. No one questions when a character suddenly shows a burst of superpowers and flies through the air. It’s not a world of constant lights and beeps and violence – it’s actually quite witty and seems like a lot of fun.   (Tremendous)
Full review is at examiner.com

Serenity   (Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres)
I think I walked in on the middle of something.  A little while ago, there was a science fiction series called Firefly, which lasted just 11 episodes, but the cult stayed together thanks to DVD and the Sci-Fi Channel. Enough DVDs were sold to convince producers a movie could be successful... I've been a fan of some cult series, so I understand how exciting it must be for fans to see their old favorites return in movie form. But I feel like I crashed their party.   (It Is What It Is)

A Serious Man  (Michael Stuhlbarg, Sari Lennick)
I rented this to try and see all the Oscar-nominated films before the ceremony -- and after that ending, I think it should be named Up In The Air. I will try to focus on the very funny and very entertaining first hour and a half and not let the Coen Brothers crap ending ruin this movie the way they did No Country For Old Men.  (Tremendous)

Seven Pounds  (Will Smith, Rosario Dawson)
"You were willing to see him as a drunk and bitter superhero in Hancock.  You were willing to see him practically all by himself in I Am Legend.  You were willing to see him with gray hair in The Pursuit of Happyness.  But are you willing to see him in a movie where you have no stinking idea what’s going on?"   (It Is What It Is)

17 Again  (Zac Effron, Leslie Mann)
"It’s also not exactly the most original idea for a movie either, but Hollywood is “doing it all over again” with 17 Again.  But to be fair, “Hollywood” is not one big entity responsible for every movie – it’s a number of competing studios trying to outdo each other.  Back in the 80s, there was a quick succession of movies about men trapped in boys’ bodies, and if we’d written them all off, we never would have gone to see the last one in that set – Big.  And to continue to be fair, every movie like this is somebody’s first movie like this...  So, if you saw 18 Again and go to 17 Again, then you’re seeing 18 Again again.  But if you’re seeing 17 Again with young eyes, you may be entertained.   (It Is What It Is)

Sex & The City  (Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall)
I’m not ashamed to say I know how Sex and the City on HBO ended....  Ah, but Michael Patrick King, Sarah Jessica Parker and the other creative minds behind SATC must have had another ending in mind.  1A worked very well on HBO, but they must have been thinking about a 1B.  So they made it.   And 1B isn’t too bad for awhile.  The first 45 minutes to an hour of the movie are pretty entertaining as we see Carrie and Big ponder their relationship and prepare to take it somewhere else.  The buildup is pretty good and the dramatic moment leading there is the best part of the movie (I’m trying so hard to not write spoilers, but I feel like an idiot being so vague). 
Then we get ending 1C, which is like the three most boring episodes of SATC strung together.   (It Is What It Is)




Sex and the City 2  (Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall)
Sex and the City the movie was a huge hit, so with the sequel just two years later, the girls kind of feel like they can do whatever they want.  They give the fans what they want in an over-the-top self-indulgent fashion (while wearing a lot of over-the-top self-indulgent fashions) ...has all the elements in place for a good, extended episode of Sex and the CityThen after about 45 minutes, the girls leave the city. Then the movie becomes just plain stupid... They are living out a fantasy just because they can... Didn’t they learn from their first hiatus that we want them to be themselves?
(Kept Checking My Watch)

The Shaggy Dog   (Tim Allen, Kristen Davis)
 I can't believe in the last year I've seen a new Herbie The Love Bug movie and a new Shaggy Dog movie. I'd feel like a kid again, but I didn't see Dean Jones in either one of them.  I did see some big stars though who were clearly eager for a big paycheck from Disney. Herbie had Matt Dillon, Michael Keaton and Linsday Lohan; The Shaggy Dog has Tim Allen, Robert Downey, Jr. and Danny Glover. They all coast through their performances, but then they know it's not about them: it's about the car or the dog... (It Is What It Is)




Sherlock Holmes  (Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law)
Robert Downey, Jr. is to Sherlock Holmes what Johnny Depp is to Pirates of the Caribbean – the right guy to guide a hard sell but good idea to the masses.  And by Jove, the old chap pulls it off strikingly.  When we like Downey (as we did in Iron Man), he’s a bit of a cad but also charming, witty and self-effacing.  He brings all that to Holmes and throws in a convincing English accent while he’s at it.  He’s buff, but not enough to make you think he can clean everyone’s clock.  He’s going to have to use his mind... Director Guy Ritchie slows the action down enough to let us hear Holmes think – and then he strikes, throwing punches that hit as hard as they do in any other Ritchie film.  It’s modern special effects fighting set in old England – and it works.   (Tremendous)




Shutter Island   (Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo)
What exactly are we looking at as we wind through the Shutter Island labyrinth?  That’s the fun of the movie, as Leonardo DiCaprio starts to question who he can trust, what their motivations are and what’s even real in the first place.  And there are real surprises.  I admit at one point I was disappointed when I thought I had it all figured out – and thought the solution was something I’d seen before in better movies.  But the story fooled me...  Director Martin Scorsese lets the movie go too long.  Once the final secrets of Shutter Island are revealed, he really needed to go to black and put up the credit “Directed by Martin Scorsese.”  Instead, what was explained to us once is then acted out for us, and then explained again ad infinitum.  There’s even a scene that perhaps even the most avid Scorsese fan – with all the graphic imagery that comes with the distinction – might find too much.  Martin, there was no need to go crazy.   (Tremendous)



Shooter  (Mark Wahlberg, Michael Pena)
 Why would this paranoid hermit fall for what these guys in suits and black cars tell him?  Why would a smart guy who understands strategy fall for a ploy that sounds like the title of O.J’s aborted book?  I’ll give Shooter credit.  I honestly didn’t think much of those flaws until I sat down to write... my biggest problem with the movie was the ending and the way it threw some real-life politics in.  Now that I look back, I see I got caught up in the shootouts and didn’t realize Shooter didn’t quite hit all its targets.  (It Is What It Is)

Sicko
Oh, don’t get me wrong:  this is still a Michael Moore movie, but the writer/director/provocateur steps back a bit, not even appearing on camera for about 45 minutes.  He doesn’t have to get in people’s faces to tell these stories of the out-of-control cost of healthcare; they tell themselves.  Is it journalism?  No, of course not.  It’s a Michael Moore movie.  But if you’re happy paying what you do for healthcare, you be sure and let him know.  (Tremendous)

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2   (America Ferrara, Amber Tamblyn)
I can only guess that to truly enjoy Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 you need to a) be a teenaged or pre-teen girl   b) been a teenaged or pre-teen girl when Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1 came out  or  c) seen Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1... Actually, all four have had considerable success in TV either during or after Sisterhood 1.  It’s ironic that they didn’t move on to a bigger or better movie this time.  A dull project like this would seem to defeat the purpose of teaching that when you get older, you have to stop relying on your BFFs and strike out on your own.   (Kept Checking My Watch)

The Skeleton Key   (Kate Hudson)
When they wrote this movie, they had to have worked backwards.  The Skeleton Key has a really cool twist ending -- and a lot of dullness leading up to it.  They must have struggled to find ways to fill time before what happens happens.  (Kept Checking My Watch)


Slumdog Millionaire   (Dev Patel, Freida Pinto)
"It sounds like it could be a Saturday Night Live skit – a poor man from the slums of India goes for it all on the Hindi version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.  Actually, I’m pretty sure it was one, called “Who Want To Eat?”  It was funny to watch, but if you say the title out loud, you realize what’s being joked about.  Slumdog Millionaire can make you smile, but it’s an intensely dramatic and well-layered story... This is the most suspenseful game of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? ever played."  (Tremendous)

Smart People   (Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker)
" Does it make me stupid to say I wish they’d taken the raw material they had here and turned it into a more accessible romantic comedy?  On paper, it’s got what it takes.  Dennis Quaid though is a college professor, and Thomas Haden Church and Ellen Page made their name in Oscar-nominated quirky comedies, so (director) Noam Murro decides Smart People has to be more erudite.  What it comes off as is a movie that’s fairly dull, and not as smart as it thinks it is."  (Kept Checking My Watch)




The Smurfs   (Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria)  
The Lilliputian-like creatures that are the Smurfs famously substitute the word “smurf” for other more complicated English words.... the word could be good… could be bad; depends on the mindset of the Smurf in question.  In that open-to-interpretation spirit, let’s say that The Smurfs is one smurfy smurf of a movie.   The little kids of previous generations who want to see this will fall into two groups:  the ones that want to share the experience with their kids, and the ones who were fans and maybe keep a figurine on a shelf or wear a Smurfs t-shirt to be nostalgic or ironic.  The latter group will go thinking it’s a lot of fun.  About ten minutes in, they’ll realize this really isn’t for them and that it was more fun to say you were going to The Smurfs than it actually was to go to The Smurfs.     (It Is What It Is)


Snakes On A Plane   (Samuel L. Jackson)
By the time it opened, SOAP had been written about online by tens of thousands before I ever got a chance to use the cool abbreviation SOAP... If the bloggers in their parents' basements hadn't christened it the next big thing, we'd all be talking about how cool the movie is. We would have known there was a film with a great title, a cool star and lots of thrills and laughs. Word of mouth would have been "Have you heard about this Snakes On A Plane thing? You gotta go see it!," instead of "Have you heard about this Snakes On A Plane thing? We must learn every detail before it ever opens."  Without the buzz, we'd have a movie that surpasses expectations... I'll say we instead have a movie that lives up to them.  (Tremendous)

The Social Network  (Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield)
Were The Social Network a Facebook page itself, I’d click “like” underneath it.  And I’m sure I’m not the only critic who would.  But don’t think you have to know what the “like” option is to enjoy The Social Network.  The movie about a web site that has made the words “friend” and “friend request” into verbs (as in “I friended him on Facebook” or “You can Friend Request” me”) is actually about friendship – and how big business and ambition can destroy it...  I still don’t know how Facebook makes money.  That explanation may have made for a boring movie, but you never know – you might not have thought a movie about the founding of a web site could be that interesting a movie...  Tell your friends.
(Tremendous)



Solitary Man (Michael Douglas, Jenna Fischer)
Douglas' star still shines brightly as an aging lothario facing his mortality and his past discretions.  (Tremendous)

Something Borrowed   (Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson) To Something Borrowed’s credit, since the entire back story and the hookup were spelled out in the trailer, it gets right to that hookup moment and then to the dilemma:  now what?  Unfortunately (it) gets to the point – and then belabors it.  As the characters yell at each other to “make a decision,” we in the audience are silently yelling the same thing to them, because after a while we get it.  Rachel is tortured.  Dex is tortured... The whimsy of a romantic comedy gets bogged down in whiny drama.   (It Is What It Is)

 

Son of Rambow  (Bill Milner, Will Poulter)
"With a title like Son of Rambow, a pop-culture-obsessed film critic would likely get excited that we have a film that parodies a cultural icon.  And with a little religious kid expressing himself to others for the first time, that same critic could hope we have a subversive film about art triumphing over fundamentalism.  And for a little while we get that.  The boys have big fun making their film, and it’s expressed nicely through charming performances by Milner and Poulter.  In our eyes, they’re smearing ketchup on themselves and fighting scarecrows with garbage cans on their heads.  In their eyes, it’s blood and some kind of demon.  Two lonely kids form a nice bond through their imaginations, and it’s nice to see."    (It Is What It Is)

Speed Racer  (Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci)
"The live action version of Speed Racer really is like nothing we’ve ever seen before though.  I’m not even sure we can even call it live action frankly...   It’s a stretch to take a cartoon and turn it into a 90-minute feature film.  But a 2-hour and 15-minute film?  It’s a test of the viewer’s patience, whether it’s an all-out animated spectacle or not...  I give Speed Racer a lot of credit for technical achievement, but the Wachowski Brothers have to learn when to apply the brakes.   (It Is What It Is)

Spider-Man 3  (Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst)
I’ll begin by telling you how I choose what comic books to read every week...  What I do, because I get so many titles, is take a quick peek at the last panel to see if the story might have a “To Be Continued” there for me.  If it does, I set it aside and wait for the next issue of that title...  Sometimes, those cunning comic book editors trick me though.  The story has ended on the next to last page, and the little “To Be Continued” is just tacked on at the end as a little teaser.  Spider-Man 3 is a lot like that.  It’s actually three different Spider-Man stories tacked together, and when one ends, another begins.. by then it’s been a little too long and seems a little forced.  (It Is What It Is)

The Spiderwick Chronicles  (Freddie Highmore, Mary-Louise Parker)
"The Spiderwick Chronicles is almost a reverse-Chronicles of Narnia... Really, this is a kids’ horror movie. With a whimsical-sounding word like “Spiderwick” in the title, parents could be forgiven for thinking this is a light-hearted little fairy tale. But the goblins are serious about getting a hold of Jared and well – killing him to get the book. They come at the Grace family full-throttle, and I can’t help but think a more sensitive kid would be absolutely freaked out. Big kids? They’ll love it. The goblins are gross but hard not to stare at. Jared, Simon and their sister are good kids, who the kids in the audience will root for to get away—even if they’re looking at it through their fingers as they hide their eyes."   (Tremendous)



Splice   (Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley)
Technology has gotten more advanced since Dr. Frankenstein put an abnormal brain in a corpse to create artificial life.  The new Splice is a much more modern tale, but the lesson is the same: don’t play God.  Bad things will happen.  But before we get too bogged down in morality, what really has to be said about Splice is: it’s a lot of sick fun. .. You’ll admire this story, even as you think only an abnormal brain could have come up with this.   (Tremendous)


Star Trek   (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto)
J.J. Abrams has succesfully restarted the franchise by violating the prime directive -- he reset history.  You need not have seen a single thing with the words "Star Trek" in the title to enjoy this, yet with green chicks and red shirts, there is plenty here to keep the longtime fans happy.  The cast are wonderful -- they each play the part just right without ever becoming mimics, which had to be especially hard for those playing Scotsmen, Russians and Vulcans.    (Tremendous)

Star Wars:  The Clone Wars
"I swear I love Star Wars, and I really do consider myself a Star Wars fan, but there are moments when I feel a great disturbance in The Force."  (Kept Checking My Watch)

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith   (Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen)
...And that’s why Star Wars has been so important to people like me.  Mythic figures like Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi… They weren’t in Star Wars Episodes I and II.  Yeah, the prequels had the name Star Wars on them.  Yeah, there was a kid named Skywalker.  Yeah, there was some young Jedi named Obi-Wan Kenobi.  But it was like the names were on loan to them.  There were only hints of what these characters would become.  Halfway through Revenge Of The Sith, the Sith execute Plan 66.  And then, it becomes a Star Wars movie...  Something very noticeable at that point—those last two movies weren’t all that necessary.  It introduced us to a couple of characters, but we already knew the important ones.    (Tremendous) 

Stealth   (Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel)
There could be a good movie in Stealth, but they hid it somewhere...    You're not supposed to really see a stealth bomber anyway.  (Kept Checking My Watch)

Step Brothers   (Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly)
"...if you know any of these slackers yourself, you know what makes them funny and why you laugh behind their back. They think they’ve got it going on.  They somehow think living at home makes them independent thinkers who don’t conform.  They think they’re just biding their time until the time is right.  They think they’re smarter than you... The problem with Step Brothers is that they’re played not as if they’re ignorant but so dumb they come off as mentally-challenged.  These guys don’t act like teenagers who never let go of their glory days – they act like toddlers.. .  And if a mentally-challenged guy still lives at home – well, you cut him some slack, don’t you?"  (Kept Checking My Watch)

Their Kodak 8 mm camera is ready

 

 Super 8   (Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning)
There was a time when Super 8 would have been the movie of the summer, and if you’re nostalgic for those times, Super 8 is indeed the summer movie for you.  It’s the story of some suburban kids in the late 1970s, trying to figure out an alien secret, sharing an adventure and a friendship, working out problems with their parents, hiding a secret from the government, using bikes as their primary method of transportation – and starring in a film with Steven Spielberg’s name in the credits as a producer.  Director/writer J.J. Abrams  has created a wonderful homage to the man who produced the man who produced his film. "

(Tremendous)
Full review is at my examiner page.  Click here please.



The Switch   (Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman)
It's not the um... tossed-off raunchy romatnic comedy it advertises itself to be.  On that level, it's a disappointment.   But as a cute story about a father and his maybe-son, it's kind of touching.  
(It Is What It Is)


 
Syriana   (George Clooney, Matt Damon)
 Syriana is a convulted, complex movie that intertwines those themes and more. You never know where it's going to go, and it's layered so that it forces you to pay attention or you'll be hopelessly lost.  But man, it's boring. If you saw the explosions and the torture scenes in the previews, you saw most of the actual excitement. Syriana takes place in the boardroom and in the secret places we never get to see. That's where people talk and talk and talk and talk about oil and its grip on the world.   It rarely steps outside the world of big oil to let us know what all the intrigue and backroom dealings mean to us average Americans. Do we pay more at the pump? Do we lose jobs? Should we care?   (Kept Checking My Watch)


Ted  (Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane)
The movie from the creator of Family Guy is well, a lot like an episode of Family Guy -- sometimes very funny, sometimes too random in its humor to actually be funny. This movie is not the outright laugh riot Seth MacFarlane fans will tell you it is, but the big laughs it does score makes it worth recommending – especially where Flash Gordon is concerned. It’s one of those times MacFarlane uses an obscure pop culture reference to advance his story and not just show off that he remembers something. (It Is What It Is)

 

Tenacious D:  The Pick of Destiny  (Jack Black, Kyle Gass)            
I’ll give Jack Black credit for his devotion to the rock music he loves, and he does understand something I’ve come across when trying to explain my similar devotion.  In a metalhead’s mind, Iron Maiden and Dio are the coolest things that ever existed.  But you can’t possibly explain why.  As soon as you verbalize the concepts in The Number Of The Beast or Holy Diver, you sound stupid.  In School of Rock, it worked.  Jack Black was something of an outsider and had someone to play off.  In The Pick of Destiny, it’s too much Tenacious D and it doesn’t translate.  I appreciate that Black knows who Dio is and is a fan, but just pointing out what you know about the man and his band isn’t funny.    (Kept Checking My Watch)

10,000 BC  (Steven Strait, Camilla Belle)
There’s a great old Jerry Seinfeld routine where he claims when you watch a nature show, you root for whichever animal is the subject.  (If it’s about lions, you root for them to kill that stupid gazelle.  If it’s about the gazelle, you exclaim:  Get out of there!  Use your speed!).  When the tribe of main characters attacks the herd of woolly mammoths, I just can’t root for them.  Not to sound like an animal rights activist or too shallow, but the mammoths come off as these majestic beasts and the tribe just looks ridiculous.  They speak about very metaphysical concepts, yet one of them I think is named “Tick Tick”.  (Kept Checking My Watch)



Terminator Salvation  (Christian Bale, Sam Worthington)
"...There are spectacular chase scenes and plenty of fights – very loud fights.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard such loud metallic crashes... But while the fights are interesting, the story really isn’t.  It’s a movie about destiny and keeping up the Terminator continuity – which means all the original ideas were spelled out for us in the first three movies... It’s too grim to be much fun."   (It Is What It Is)



There Will Be Blood   (Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano)
It’s not called There IS Blood, it’s called There WILL BE Blood.  It’s an ominous title, giving you the feeling that something very, very bad is going to happen.  Paul Thomas Anderson has created a movie where tension is very high and where for long stretches, when you stop and think about it, nothing all that much really happens.  But you just know something will... There Will Be Blood is long, foreboding and challenging.  There Will Be Squirming if you go.  But stay with it.  You’ll have to see what happens.  (Tremendous)

 

 

30 Minutes Or Less   (Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari)
What’s great about 30 Minutes Or Less is it gets to the point and wraps it all up in 90 Minutes Or Less.   Not that it’s not an entertaining movie – because it is.  30 Minutes Or Less knows what it is – a fairly funny action/comedy with some crude jokes, a hip cast and a clever comedy of errors... The bank robbery itself is the highlight, featuring a slapstick moment that I can’t believe nobody ever thought of before.  Other bits are hit-or-miss, but they happen fast enough that you can forgive the ones that make you groan.  30 Minutes isn’t a bad way to spend 90 of ‘em.
(It Is What It Is)



Thor   (Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman) From “Thorsday” at midnight to this Sunday, the Marvel Comics God of Thunder had a great weekend at the movies.  ally, so did those of us who went to see Goldilocks’ big screen debut...  Thor was a good movie on two levels:  the otherworldly 3-D realm of Asgard was a majestic sight.  It may not be as layered or complex as Middle Earth, but a movie completely set there wouldn’t have been awful.  But -- Thor was even more entertaining on Midgard, where his Fallen Thunder God routine played great with mere mortals.  It bodes well for his interaction with the heroes and villains in the upcoming Avengers movie.     (Tremendous)



300  (Gerard Butler, Lena Headey)
No History Channel documentary is going to have the visuals 300 has.  It is spectacular to look at, even when it gets very gory.  The fight scenes are slowed down or sped up at just the right moments, and it’s hypnotic to watch Leonidas hit and chop his way through the invaders... Why then does this comic book geek not give 300 a full recommendation?  1) After awhile, it’s the same fight scene again and again, with different looking villains to kill.  2)  It’s as easy to immerse yourself in the world of 300 as it is to immerse yourself in the world of Sin City.  But when you’re caught up in Sin City, you feel kind of cool.  If you get caught up in 300—and really think about it—you’ll feel a little silly.   (It Is What It Is)

3:10 To Yuma  (Christian Bale, Russell Crowe)
Later in the year, Russell Crowe faced off against Denzel Washington in an "acting dream match."  Bale is just about to the point where he's worthy of such a faceoff himself.  The remake of 3:10 is tense, full of action and features two great performances.  The ending isn't true to the characters though and that takes it down a notch.  (It Is What It Is)

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride    (Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter)
Stop-motion animation isn't dead. Tim Burton brought it back to life for Corpse Bride. The director says he could have gone with computers, but it wouldn't have given him the exact look he was going for.   It's a great look-- full of the macabre characters Tim Burton is known for. Worms pop out of eyes, jaws drop off of faces-- and they're actually kind of cute.   (Tremendous)


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy  (Gary Oldman, Colin Firth)
I don't know who was the Tinker, who was the Tailor, who was the Soldier or who was the Spy... but the all sucked and bored me to death.  This movie must have been designed by secret agents who want to dispel the myth that they lead interesting lives.  (Kept Checking My Watch)



Total Recall  (Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel)
The original Total Recall veered away from any deep thinking, but if memory serves, that’s OK. It was 1990. It was practically still the 80s, and Arnold was the biggest movie star in the world. We were willing to sacrifice a brainy sci-fi plot for some Schwarzeneggerian fun.... It was “An Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie.” This isn’t “A Colin Farrell Movie" – it’s one any hunky action hero looking for a paycheck could have starred in...Other than a couple of cliché moments where characters yell things at Quaid, like “She’s lying! Shoot her!”, you don’t really question what is the movie’s or Quaid’s reality."
(Kept Checking My Watch)  Link to the full review is at my examiner page.    




The Tourist     (Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie)
You rent a classic Hollywood thriller you’ve been hearing about forever.  It’s held up as one of the best – an adventure for the ages, with a great plot, a dashing leading man and a gorgeous female lead.  And when it’s over – you think, “That was it?”  Something was missing... so many elements you could praise in a classic Hollywood thriller are in The Tourist, but you don’t have to worry about it disappointing...  an intriguing mystery, shot in glamorous locales with modern photography and featuring two of the biggest movie stars we have right now...  But it’s not a total throwback.  Like a tourist in a strange land who keeps his cell phone handy, there’s enough of a modern take to make it both a movie for the ages and of its time.  (Tremendous)

Tower Heist   (Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy)
...maybe one of the dullest heist comedies ever.  Brett Ratner has a near-dream cast including Stiller, Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck and Alan Alda.  And manages to steal the real Stiller, Murphy, Broderick, Affleck and Alda from us.   (Kept Checking My Watch)


 The Town   (Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall)
Ben Affleck loves his town but has a funny way of showing it.   The Boston native has set the movies he’s written or directed  in his hometown, and the starring characters have been brawling street thugs, drug dealers and even pedophiles.  His second directorial work The Town is set in the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown, which has produced more bank and armored car robbers than any other place in the U.S.  The best that can be said of the core group of robbers is one of them doesn’t want hostages hurt.  Heck, even the movie’s main law enforcer comes off as a prick.   Yet...  Affleck does his town proud by directing his second quality crime thriller in a row.  
 (Tremendous)


Transformers:  Revenge of the Fallen   (Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox)
"It didn’t make a bit of sense to me, and with all the noise of machines fighting each other, I didn’t have time to figure it out.  Looking back, that’s hard to believe since the movie runs to overkill length of nearly 2 ½ hours.  The basic idea is that an evil robot called “The Fallen” has decided now is the time for his fellow evil Transformers – called “Decepticons” – to rise up and take over the planet.  Why now?  I don’t know.  If they were living among us all along, what took ‘em so long?...  When the mechanical arms start flying and the roar of machines blare through the speakers, I’ll be damned if I can figure out which one is the Autobot and which one is the Decepticon."   (Kept Checking My Watch)

The Tree of Life   (Brad Pitt, Sean Penn)
Sometimes beautiful, sometimes hypnotic... ultimately a waste of time.   This is stuff you should watch stoned at a planetarium.   It's fascinating to talk about, but Terence Malick doesn't so much say anything as he does put on airs that he has something to say.      (It Is What It Is)


Trouble With The Curve  (Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams)

Movie fans though should be upset that after a wonderful performance as a curmudgeon with deep rooted issues in the drama Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood rescinded his retirement to play a curmudgeon with deep rooted issues in Trouble With The Curve.  He left us with a great performance and came back with a watered-down version of the same character. Last year, Moneyball proved that a movie could be made about baseball, the people who play it, the people who work for it and the people who love it could tell a compelling story in a whole new way... Traditionalists who don’t want their baseball movies without the standard clichés will take comfort...  The trouble with Trouble With The Curve is it never throws us one.    (Kept Checking My Watch)

 



True Grit    (Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld)
True Talent comes together – The Coen Brothers, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and an astonishingly good 14-year-old actress named Hailee Steinfeld.  It may be the best Western since Unforgiven, and it’s interesting that for a Coen Brothers movie, it’s pretty straightforward.  Maybe because Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn is such a no-nonsense guy, the brothers didn’t add too many oddball little moments or make us wonder about how it all ends.    (Tremendous)

Tropic Thunder  (Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr.)
"A couple of controversies have stormed around Tropic Thunder, but if you can pay attention to what’s really being laughed at, you’ll laugh right along with it.  Actually, you’ll laugh pretty hard.  Director/writer/star Ben Stiller uses Tropic Thunder to poke fun at some Hollywood pretension.... He can laugh at all of it – and luckily, he can encourage some A-listers to laugh along with him. "  (Tremendous)

21    (Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey)
Anyone who’s won or lost at the tables will understand the feelings. It’s thrilling to get blackjack, to beat the dealer, to be treated like a king, to see the chips pile up, and to get the attention of all the people around you. Whether you’re at a small Indian-owned casino or jumping from casino to casino on the Vegas strip, it’s hugely exciting.  Then you’ll come crashing down to Earth when the cards stop going your way.  21 is like that. Not just because it teaches the lessons of over-extending yourself while gambling, but because it’s fun and thrilling during the glamour and disappointing after the inevitable crash.   (It Is What It Is)


21 Jump Street   (Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum )
When you think of the 80s hit TV show 21 Jump Street, do you laugh?  Oh, maybe you chuckle a little at the idea that megastar Johnny Depp actually started on a TV series about a cop posing as a high school student to battle youth crime.  But do you really laugh at any moments of great comedy?  No, because while there may have been some cuteness, 21 Jump Street was serious in its intent.  It was a drama, not a sitcom.  It knew what it wanted to be, unlike the new film that shares the 21 Jump Street name...  Parody?  Stoner flick?  Buddy-action movie?   21 Jump Street never chooses a subject to major in.  (It Is What It Is)

Twilight  (Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson)
Pout. Pout. Brood. Brood.  Love. Forbidden Love.  Brood. Pout. Fight. Love. Brood. To Be Continued in New Moon.  (It Is What It Is)

 Twilight:  New Moon  (Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart)
Why doesn't this girl just date nice kids and not vampires and werewolves?  That Mike kid that threw up at the action movie seemed nice (Team Mike!).   These movies are like watching a teenage girl cry over her boyfriend and yell at the world because they don't understand -- when you know somebody else will be along anyway.   (Kept Checking My Watch)




2012   (John Cusack, Amanda Peet)
Indiana Jones fans will know about the moment that separated the fourth movie from the classics: it’s been nicknamed the “nuke the fridge” moment.  Without giving away too much, Indy escapes certain death thanks to a refrigerator, and the audience who’s been with Indy through snakes, rolling boulders and temples of doom finally rolls its eyes and says “oh, come on.”  2012 is a two and a half hour “nuke the fridge” moment.  John Cusack’s character is either the greatest driver who ever lived or the luckiest SOB on the planet...  Let’s hope the Mayans’ prediction that something terrible would happen in 2012 has been mistranslated into “something terrible will happen that’s called 2012.”    (Kept Checking My Watch)


Tyson  (Mike Tyson)
"The documentary is the story of a man who’s seen drama after drama, tragedy after tragedy, and who largely fails to accept responsibility for his role in it...  Tyson’s story has been told many times by sports journalists, but not like this.  With the exception of a few sound bites from news footage, the only voice you hear is that of Tyson himself...  Boxing movies are almost always the best sports movies – there’s so much drama to be gleaned from a one-on-one fight between two souls.  Mike Tyson is fighting his own soul – and doesn’t even know it.    (Tremendous)



 

 


    

The Ugly Truth   (Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler)
"I kid you not:  at my screening of The Ugly Truth, the film broke right at the film’s climax.  Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler were acting out the pivotal scene that you knew was coming, and the film broke.  I could have waited for the film to be fixed just so I could see the last minute in between the unimaginative climax and the credits, but at that point, I had already correctly predicted every other single thing that was going to happen.  Why wait when I’m sure I know?...  If you think you know everything about Abby and Mike…  you’re right, you do.  These two characters are stereotypes, written with no imagination and acted with no originality by Heigl and Butler.    (Kept Checking My Watch)

Underworld:  Rise of the Lycans  (Michael Sheen, Rhona Mitra)
"Maybe the worst part of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is that it’s very, very dark.  You can’t see much onscreen, and worse:  there isn’t a moment of daylight to let you glance at your watch... With the corny overacting and the flowery speeches of main Lycan Lucian , it just comes off as goofy.  It’s a war between an army of vampires and an army of werewolves – I kept wondering if an army of Frankenstein monsters would jump in and take sides."  (Kept Checking My Watch)

Up!  (Ed Asner, Jordan Agai)
Up! is almost too emotionally manipulative -- it tries every way it can to tug at the emotions.  And it worked even on this cynic.  I'll be darned if the story of the lonely old man and the eager little kid isn't the most touching of all of Pixar's movies.  It's sadly not the funniest, but it works.   Still, there are some laughs to be had, especially if you listen closely to the talking dogs...  Squirrel!   (Tremendous)


Up In The Air   (George Clooney, Vera Farmiga)
Up In The Air ends the year -- heck, the decade -- with a look at where we stand now.  We're all in it together -- it even makes you feel sorry for people whose job it is to fire others.  It's also very funny as we look at the relationships George Clooney has (or tries not to have) with the people around him.  And just when you think it's going to be like any other movie, there's a great twist.    (Tremendous) 


The Upside Of Anger   (Joan Allen, Kevin Costner)
 Normally if I hate a movie but people I know love it, I say:  "There was no plot."  They counter with:  "Well, it was a character study."   The Upside Of Anger is one of those character studies with not a lot of plot, but this time I'll agree with my friends.  The two characters that are central to this character study are good enough to make up for it...  The film is written and directed by a guy named Mike Binder, who created HBO's The Mind Of The Married Man.  That show tried to be a Sex & The City for men, but instead of dealing humorously with the differences between men and women, it just showed a contempt for women.  Binder learned something since, as Allen and the four daughters are very real, very likable characters.   (Tremendous)



Valentine's Day   (Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner)
 
Since all the movie really offers is big stars playing people who are connected getting paired off, we’ll describe the cast in pairs and point out how they’re kind of linked.  Marshall gives us two Jessicas (Alba & Biel), two Taylors (Swift & Lautner), two Roberts sisters (Julia & Emma), two stars of Grey’s Anatomy (Patrick “McDreamy” Dempsey & Eric “McSteamy” Bane), two stars of That ‘70s Show  (Ashton Kutcher & Topher Grace), two older women (Shirley MacLaine & Kathy Bates) two Hispanics (George Lopez & Hector Elizondo), and two African-Americans (Jamie Foxx & Queen Latifah)...   Is that everyone?  It’s hard to tell, because with so many people crammed in there, it’s really hard for anyone to stand out – especially since the storylines are no better than what you see in the average sitcom.    (It Is What It Is)

Vantage Point  (Dennis Quaid, William Hurt)
There are all kinds of ways to look at Vantage Point.  It’s part-JFK, part-Lost, part-24, and part-Rashomon, which could have made it pretty cool.  But it’s also part-French Connection, and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with a good car chase in a good movie, it’s just thrown in and proves they had no clue how to end this thing...   And as it turns out, I totally called the big plot twist.   From my vantage point, they blew it.   (It Is What It Is) 


The Virginity Hit  
There are some big raunchy laughs, many of which can’t be recounted here... The teens who see it will find great quotes and share laughs for months to come.  Those teens will probably be ok with it – because they’re watching their peers.  For an adult, it can be kind of disturbing... when you see a skinny kid in his underwear ready to do the deed – and the film looks homemade and gritty – sometimes it’s hard to laugh. 
(It Is What It Is)  

Waiting...   (Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart)
 ...for an explanation as to how this piece of crap was greenlighted ...for Clerks or Reality Bites to come on cable so I can see a crude movie about working young people that actually has some wit and charm  ...to read the work of other critics as they trash this thing   ...to see if someone else can produce a worse movie this year   (Kept Checking My Watch)

Walk The Line   (Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon)
This performance is Phoenix's best by far.  There was a lot to Johnny Cash. A recent box set was divided into three titles based on the themes he sang about: Love, God, Murder. He sang hymns and he sang about shooting a man just to watch him die. That's a complex guy with a lot of passion, and Phoenix captures him. Just before he sings Folsom Prison Blues at his audition, producer Sam Phillips tells Cash he doesn't "believe him" when he sings gospel. Cash asks angrily: "you don't think I believe in God?"  Love, God and Murder are all in that scene, and they're all in Phoenix. He doesn't pull off a metamorphisis like Jamie Foxx did in Ray, but he puts so much passion into his performance, that you know he's playing Johnny Cash...  No offense to some of the other good performances in Ray, but what that movie lacks compared to Walk The Line is a strong co-lead performance. Reese Witherspoon has never been better.    (Tremendous)




Wanderlust   (Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston)
Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are essentially playing the same characters they do in every movie – which is a good thing since the idea is to take those familiar characters and put them out of their element at a hippie free love commune.  They turn in reliable performances in the middle of cleverly written chaos.  But the scene stealers turn out be relative newcomer (and Aniston boyfriend) Justin Theroux as the cult leader, and shockingly for an R-rated comedy -- Alan Alda and Linda Lavin  (let’s talk reliable!)    (Tremendous)

War Of The Worlds    (Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning)
Fine, he's marrying Katie Holmes. Fascinating, he's been squirted by water. OK, he's fighting with Brooke Shields over anti-depressants.  The thing that needs to be said in advance of War Of The Worlds is: Tom Cruise is starring in a Steven Spielberg sci-fi movie.   Remember E.T.? Close Encounters Of The Third Kind? Even Minority Report, also starring Cruise? Spielberg knows his way around sci-fi.   (Tremendous)

Watchmen   (Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley)
"If Superman and Spider-Man are “comic book movies,” Snyder’s films are true “graphic novel movies.”...  The world of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen is exactly the world of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen.  When a conventional novel is turned into a movie, readers can watch and judge whether or not it’s what they imagined.  But a graphic novel already has everything drawn for you.  And Watchmen recreates the visionary images exactly."   (Tremendous)

The Weather Man   (Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine)
...Heavy stuff, but before the audience can get too depressed, Cage gets hit in the face by a Wendy's Frosty.  Then by a taco.  Then by a Big Gulp.  Few things are funnier than someone getting smacked in the face by something so silly, especially when that someone has that deadpan, morose Nicolas Cage face.  There are all kinds of dark laughs like that.  The Weather Man makes especially good use of four-letter words-- delivered at just the right time in just the right way.    (Tremendous)



Wedding Crashers   (Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn)
Wedding Crashers is "Old School" comedy.   I don't say that because it stars Vince Vaughn and one of the Wilson brothers.  I say that because 25 years ago, this would have starred Chevy Chase or Tim Matheson.  Ty Webb or Otter would have thought of crashing weddings just for the chicks.  Wedding Crashers is the first really good comedy of the summer, and the first raunchy sex comedy in a long time to be funny... Wedding Crashers owes most of its success to Vaughn and Wilson, who while playing sexist pigs still manage to be very likable.  (Women have asked me about this movie, mostly because they like these guys.)    (Tremendous) 

The Wedding Date   (Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney)
In the movie world, it's probably an insult to say a movie has a sitcom-like premise.  But The Wedding Date starring Will & Grace's Debra Messing has a story that would actually make for a good episode of a sitcom-- but the family isn't nearly wacky enough.  In fact, they're unnecessarily cruel to her because she didn't get married first.  You end up feeling sorry for Messing instead of laughing along at her problems.   At the movie's end, when we get a wrap-up of "where they are now"-- you really don't care. Messing for some reason plays it almost straight.   Watching Grace in this situation could be funny-- the character on TV is full of insecurities but can still come off as charming.  Here, she's much more restrained.  Maybe she was told to be serious-- this is a film, after all.  But you need funny in a romantic comedy.    (Kept Checking My Watch)

 

Win Win (Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan) You may just be “blind sided” by Win Win.  Comparisons to The Blind Side have to be made, but whereas that was a big budget movie that hyped Sandra Bullock’s performance and that manipulated us into liking it despite ourselves, Win Win is a humbler project that’s just as good...  Giamatti and Ryan aren’t as good looking as Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw.  And it probably has less mass appeal because it’s about a high school wrestler not a real-life NFL player.  In other words, it’s much more relatable.    (Tremendous)



Winter's Bone   (Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes)
Really?  An Academy Award nomination for this bore?  The academy apparently likes movies about girls going from white trash home to white trash home looking for her father.  "Have you seen him?""  "You get out of here, little girl before my man comes out."  Then it's off to the next home for the exact same thing...   (Kept Checking My Watch)

The Wrestler  (Mickey Rourke, Marissa Tomei)
"...the greatest movie ever made about pro wrestling. Granted, that wouldn’t be hard, as it’s never been captured right on film.  It’s always portrayed as if it was a real sport and not scripted entertainment – and is almost always used for comic relief... It’s the first time pro wrestling has ever been photographed correctly on film – you hear the guys talk to each other, you hear the grunts, and you hear the hits.  And you’ll wince while you see The Ram get pieces of glass picked out of his back.  It looks both scripted and real." 
(Tremendous)




X-Men: First Class   (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender)
...not necessarily see a rip-off of the Star Wars prequels (or of TV’s Smallville or of Broadway’s Wicked) since X-Men comic readers have known for years that the X-Men’s leader, telepath Professor Charles Xavier and sparring partner Magneto were once allies who broke apart over their different philosophies – Xavier wants to prove mutantkind can work side-by-side with homo sapiens, Magneto wants mutants to take us over and prove home superior is the genetically-superior species.  It’s a great premise that starts with some great promise, especially with the back-story of the Mutant Who Will Be Magneto Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender).   But boy, by the time we get to evil mutants like Azazel and the titular and lukewarm First Class, it’s too cluttered.  And it takes away from what we should be getting – an in-depth look at what made Xavier and Magneto into the characters we saw Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan portray in the original trilogy...  After Last Stand, nobody clamored for an Iceman or Kitty Pryde movie, and there will be no similar demand for the Matt Damon-light Havok or the Ron Weasley-lookalike Banshee movie either.  (It Is What It Is)
Full review is at my examiner page... click here please.


X-Men Origins: Wolverine  (Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber)
If this movie had been first, it would have made the X-Men movies seem wimpier, and it would have felt like the makers were trying too hard to give us a new ass-kicking super hero.  Instead, it adds to the intrigue of the character from the X movies and makes us think:  finally, Wolverine kicks ass!   This was the right order to roll out Logan’s story – mystery first, reveals later.  It’s a fun action movie that stays true to the comics it’s based on.    (Tremendous)






Year One   (Jack Black, Michael Cera)
"One of the best things about Year One is there’s barely a trace of Year 2009...  The two primitive men wandering the Earth have a modern attitude for sure, but at no time in this new comedy do they wink at the camera and imply they’re really 2009 men in ancient times...  It’s been a long time since we’ve had a good solid Biblical comedy.  The last one I can think of is Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part I... We never got a History of the World Part II.  So until Mel Brooks gets to it, I’d be up for Harold Ramis’ Year Two."   (Tremendous)


Yes Man  (Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel)
"Jim, Jim, Jim… why, after saying “yes” to The Majestic, Fun With Dick and Jane, and The Number 23 would you say “yes” to starring in a bad movie about a guy who has to say “yes” to everything?  You kind of asked for this, no?  So allll-righty then…"  (Kept Checking My Watch)


Yogi Bear   (Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake) "If Yogi Bear is your chance to take a batch of little kids to their first 3-D movie, by all means, go ahead and have at it.  They’ll probably have a lot of fun.  Its three-dimensional bits (Yogi’s pilfered picnic basket breaking open and its contents flying everywhere; a slimy tree slug shooting out of Yogi’s nose) are straight out of Cartoon 101, and when they’re done in 3-D, they’re sure to make kids giggle.  In a good way, they’re childish comedy bits...  To you though – it might feel like Warner Bros. made a quick little 3-D movie based on a beloved retro character to sucker you into the theater...  try to remember the feeling you have leaving the theater if down the line they decide to follow-up with a Snagglepuss movie."   (It Is What It Is)



You Don't Mess With The Zohan      (Adam Sandler, John Turturro)
 … you would also think you don’t mess with a sensitive subject like the violence in the Middle East, but Adam Sandler and crew do take it on in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.  Other filmmakers in the post-9/11 world have bravely taken on the subjects of terror and the unease in that region – big names like Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, and George Clooney.  You know those names, but off the top of your head, can you name the movie?  Probably not.  No one went.   But an Adam Sandler movie that makes fun of both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?  People are going to go.  And people are going laugh.  Because somehow, he actually makes it work...   If you don’t want to read as much into the message of Zohan as I have, you don’t have to.  It’s still just an Adam Sandler movie that relies on bare asses about every fifteen minutes to get a laugh.   (Tremendous)



Young Adult    (Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt)
A writer of young adult romance books living in the big city, has just gone through a divorce and begins to think maybe she was with the wrong guy all this time anyway.  She decides she wants her high school sweetheart back.  She packs up her cute little dog (so little he fits in a handbag) and goes back to the small town she always hated and thought she’d left behind.  While working to get her sweetheart away from his new wife, she bonds with an old classmate she’d always mistreated and tries to find herself.  Because Hollywood has trained/ruined you, you would think this is another predictable chick flick.  From My Best Friend’s Wedding to Sweet Home Alabama, it sounds like we’ve seen this before.  But we’d expect better of  Theron, director Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody  – and we get it.   (Tremendous)


Young @ Heart
"I’ve never liked the Rapping Granny.  I’m not picking on any particular elderly lady; I’m talking about the concept that shows up in unimaginative commercials or sitcoms or hack films...  So a whole movie of rapping – or in this case rocking—grannies and gramps made me a little skeptical. The documentary Young @ Heart follows the choral group of the same name, made up of a couple dozen septuagenarians and older, singing rock and roll from James Brown to Talking Heads to Sonic Youth...  But think for a moment about why this band’s members can’t stay the same as the years go on. Young @ Heart addresses that without getting overdramatic. It’s not maudlin when the inevitable happens – it’s real and dignified."     (Tremendous)



Zack and Miri Make A Porno
   (Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks)
"Some of the dirty jokes are brilliant. Like a porn star willing to experiment, (Kevin Smith) comes up with some clever moves. Other times, full frontal nudity is just there for the sake of full frontal nudity. And that makes Smith more a dirty uncle than a clever writer and director. Smith, like Jay & Silent Bob, is probably too old for this. He created two good characters in Zack and Miri. He should put the porno away."  (It Is What It Is)

Zathura   (Jonah Bobo,  Josh Hutcherson)
Children's books author Chris Van Allsburg has a recurring theme to his books-- toys and fantasies coming to life. His stories already inspired The Polar Express and Jumanji, and now his work has inspired the film Zathura...  The movie is kind of like watching a board game. It's fun when it's your turn, it's not that interesting in between turns. The audience's "turn" would be when the action on the cards becomes real, and they are fun parts.   (It Is What It Is)

 




Zombieland   (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg)
"It’s fitting that a rag-tag team of zombie killers are on an odyssey to an amusement park in Zombieland, since the creators are aiming for a thrill ride that leaves a smile on your face... If you’ve seen any other zombie movie you know how this all goes... It’s been done, well, to death.  We’ve seen everything from the gross-out metaphors of the George Romero Living Dead films to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  We’ve seen it as a comedy before in Shaun of the Dead.  For director Ruben Fleischer to have a film that’s going to stand out among the bodies, he had to have something original.  So he went for strong, funny characters portrayed by strong, funny actors."    (Tremendous)




Zookeeper  (Kevin James, Rosario Dawson)
All they really have is a concept, and while it would be nice to lose yourself in a fantasy world of talking animals, you can’t do that during a bland movie.  Instead, you have time to think about all of its flaws.  But in the era of CGI and Pixar, there is no real excuse for poor special effects to make animals talk.  It may seem quaint to simply have mouths moving on real animals, but it doesn’t look convincing enough after what we’ve seen in other movies.  I never believed Stallone was the lion.  I believed he recorded his dialogue, they pointed a camera at a lion and drew in a moving mouth.    (Kept Checking My Watch)