We all bring certain baggage to movies, and here’s one of my too-big-for-carry-on pieces: I hate holy fools. Film history is full of stories about cynical and/or Type-A people whose lives are changed for the better through their experiences with plot devices in the shape of a simple-minded person. Your Rain Mans and your Forrest Gumps charmed audiences, sure, but largely on the basis of the brutally anti-intellectual notion that real wisdom only comes from the mouths and hearts of those who aren’t all about the book smarts.
Robert Rodriguez attempts to continue his family-friendly junior spy series with Jessica Alba as a top-level spy/stepmother who recruits her stepchildren into the business of saving the world from the nefarious schemes of the Time Keeper. Grade: D-.
Jason Momoa replaces Arnold Schwarzenegger in Marcus Nispel’s reboot of this would-be swords-and-sorcery franchise. Nispel, thanks to 3-D, throws axes, fireballs and likely everything else including the kitchen sink at audiences. Grade: C.
Digging back into the movie archives, director Craig Gillespie sinks his teeth into this unconvincing tale of an awkward teen (Anton Yelchin) who comes to realize that his new next-door neighbor (Colin Farrell) might be a vampire. Grade: D-.
Actor and Hip Hop head Michael Rapaport's documentary explores the breaks and the cracks in the road that have derailed A Tribe Called Quest, one of the most widely recognized crews to ever enter the game. Grade: B-plus.
Director Lone Scherfig (An Education) teams up with novelist David Nicholls and stars Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway to re-create a one-day-a-year romance and drama of a pair of star-crossed lovers who meet the night of their college graduation and struggle to remain connected over the course of two decades. Grade: C-plus.
A year ago Brit Marling was just another aspiring Los Angeles-based actress and filmmaker with visions of cinematic grandeur. Flash-forward 12 months and the 27-year-old is living the Sundance dream as a promising multi-hyphenate talent whose breakout film, Another Earth, is invading art-house cinemas across the country and whose blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty has yielded glossy magazine spreads.
Hold 'Another Earth' up to one starry light and you'll see a sci-fi fantasy about parallel worlds. Seen through a grainier lens is a Sundance melodrama of moral and emotional recovery from trauma and crippling guilt. Both are goofy and good. Grade: B-plus.
Steven Quale, a second unit director on 'Avatar,' knows how to make good use of 3-D effects, but all the effects tricks in the world can't help him with narrative logic and character development. Grade: D-plus.
The concert movie's musical revue-styled song choices from all over the genre map are staged without too much muss and fuss, meaning that everything holds together thanks to sheer stage presence and vocal power. Grade: C-plus.
DreamWorks stands Mississippi native Kathryn Stockett's stock characters in front of postcard-perfect sets that recall the halcyon days of America before the reality of racial inequality and social justice intruded on our national consciousness, back when we could ignore mundane mistreatment because that was just the way of the world. Grade: D.
When a couple of numbskulls kidnap a slacker pizza delivery guy (Jesse Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest and order him to rob a bank in less than 10 hours, the pizza guy grabs his best friend (Aziz Ansari) and gets stone cold gangsta in this comic heist that steals as much attention thanks to its efficient thrills as for its raunchy humor. Grade: A.
New 'Apes' movie moves into a new direction via ideas that borrow more from the last decade’s worth of action thrillers rather than slavish devotion to all of those damned dirty apes and the feel-good socio-political posturing that came before. Grade: B-plus.
Director David Dobkin has no signature style (it could be argued that he has no style at all, actually), which means that he’s simply going lewd and crude, and that handcuffs his stars, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. Grade: F.