If you want to know how many reasons the makers of Thor have for not messing with the Marvel Comics movie formula, the answer is “3.3 billion.” That would be the cumulative North American box office in dollars for movies based on Marvel Universe characters since X-Men launched the current wave in 1999 — which makes the genre about as sure a thing as there is in the uncertain world of theatrical exhibition.
Susanne Bier’s latest film, In a Better World, recently earned the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. The Danish filmmaker makes films that challenge audiences to consider questions of morality and ethics in daily life — how we treat other living souls, how the living survive and carry on after the death of loved ones.
Post neo-noir meets 'Shaun of the Dead' with the intention of producing something that might approach the inspired fanboy reverence that Guillermo Del Toro brings to his outings. That's a hell of a lot to ask for from Kevin Munroe, the writer-director of 'TMNT.' Grade: B-plus.
The follow-up to the Miramax sleeper from 2005 swaps out Anne Hathaway for Hayden Panettiere as the voice of Red Riding Hood who hooks up with The Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton) as part of the team to investigate the disappearance of Hansel and Gretel. Granny lends a hand, but this is supposed to be all about Red and the Wolf, and unfortunately that’s the problem. Grade: D.
After a quick rise on the indie scene with 'Better Luck Tomorrow,' Justin Lin helms his third outing in this fast-paced franchise and brings together an all-star team of players from the past installments to pull off a ludicrous job in Rio. Grade: B-plus.
Updated for a skeptical age, this new World War II movie comes impeccably groomed in period-attentive tans and grays; is written in non-heroic dialogue to suggest ambiguities in the good-evil dichotomies of war stories past; and is sufficiently hopped-up with thrills. Grade: B-.
Disney teams up with Joe Nussbaum ('Sydney White') to celebrate prom season in what amounts to a Disney Channel television movie that lacks even the broad laughs one might expect from a kid’s dramedy. Grade: D.
Let’s face it — we need summer movies. The money they take in is a positive sign of life in a movie business that’s been on the proverbial landslide for the last few years. While the 2011 lineup appears to be sequel and reboot heaven, there’s plenty more to make it an appealing grab-bag of options.
Following closely on the heels of 'Born to Be Wild,' Disneynature unveils 'African Cats.' Samuel L. Jackson narrates this seasonal journey through a Kenyan reserve that spotlights a mother lion raising a female cub as part of a pride and a single female cheetah struggling to keep her five cubs safe. Grade: B-.
Director Paul Johansson’s stilted Ayn Rand adaptation sets the story in the near future (2016), where the current economic downturn continues to spiral into the abyss but somehow the railroad has become the key to reversing the trend. Grade: D-.
Madea’s 'Big Happy Family' brings Loretta Devine further into the Tyler Perry troupe after her dazzling turn in 'For Colored Girls.' Unfortunately, she’s not able to elevate this material beyond its pedestrian riffs on black life. Grade: D.
Seeking to prove he had the chops for more dramatic fare, Francis Lawrence directed this adaptation of Sara Gruen’s novel by noted screenwriter Richard LaGravenese, but he ended up hedging his bets a bit with the casting of 'Twilight' heartthrob Robert Pattinson as the dreamy veterinarian in this tragic sideshow romantic triangle. Grade: C-.