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Insidious (Review)

Effective genre effort blends horror convention with humor

0 Comments · Saturday, April 2, 2011
Director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell introduced us to the soap-operatic torture porn of the 'Saw' world, while producer Oren Peli gave birth to the 'Paranormal' phenomenon, so the combination of talents and visions promises to be, well, quite insidious, right? The short answer is hell yes. Grade: B.  

Source Code (Review)

Science-fiction thriller is entertaining if flawed

0 Comments · Friday, April 1, 2011
Yes, there's a certain validity to the pitch-meeting shorthand that would describe this science-fiction thriller as "'Groundhog Day' meets 'Quantum Leap,'” but that doesn't detract from what it manages to do right. Grade: B.  

Kill the Irishman (Review)

True-life gangster drama centers on a Cleveland enforcer who took down the Mafia

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 30, 2011
In the new film by writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh (following up his 2004 multi-hyphenate effort 'The Punisher'), we discover that the story of Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson) is not just another dark journey down the back alleys behind the barrel of a gun but a true story of a war that nearly ripped apart the city of Cleveland and led to the eventual crippling of the American crime syndicate.  

Happythankyoumoreplease (Review)

Familiar New York story transcends flaws

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Josh Radnor, as writer-director-star, has fashioned an indie New York story that like most indie New York stories offers smart party scenes and subway rides with passengers afraid to meet eye-to-eye and artistic types who look down upon the regular folks. Grade: B.  

Sucker Punch (Review)

Zack Snyder drops a visual marvel with no depth or resonance

0 Comments · Monday, March 28, 2011
Co-writer/director Zack Snyder's latest, a tale of imprisoned young girls who have to harness the power of their own minds to free themselves from oppression, looks and feels like a visual mash-up of everything from 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow' to 'The Matrix' and 'Kill Bill' without an ounce of narrative coherence or a desire to create truly three-dimensional characters. Grade: D.  

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (Review)

Second big-screen book series adaption doesn't rule

0 Comments · Monday, March 28, 2011
Director David Bowers takes over the latest adaptation in Jeff Kinney's best-selling children's illustrated series and crafts a movie that plays like a fractured half-hour television series instead of a full-fledged big-screen endeavor. Grade: D.  

A Movie Proposal

How can Hollywood get grown-ups back in theaters?

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 23, 2011
If you're reading this section of the paper, odds are you're a) someone over the age of 18 and b) someone who is interested in what's going on in movie theaters. Congratulations on being a survivor in a species on the verge of extinction. It's no breaking news story to anyone who follows the movie industry — or anyone who looks occasionally at the movie listings — that mainstream movies are directed overwhelmingly at teenage boys.  

Limitless (Review)

Gleefully addled thriller too illogical for its own good

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Director Neil Burger returns with a gleefully addled thriller starring the suddenly ubiquitous Bradley Cooper as Eddie Marra, a sputtering aspiring writer whose life is turned upside down when he starts taking an experimental drug that allows him to unlock his brain's full power. Grade: C-plus.  

Paul (Review)

Sneakily perceptive sci-fi comedy is a tad too sentimental

0 Comments · Friday, March 18, 2011
Director Greg Mattola hooks up with the Brit wits Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who handle the script and co-star as a couple of comic book convention enthusiasts eager to follow the American West’s UFO trail of fears until they have an actual close encounter with Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), the stoked extraterrestrial that has been the basis of 40 years of alien sightings and assumptions. Grade: B-.  

The Lincoln Lawyer (Review)

Matthew McConaughey leads an entertaining legal thriller

0 Comments · Thursday, March 17, 2011
Mystery writer Michael Connelly's series of spin-off books provides the basis for this sturdy but rushed legal thriller. Matthew McConaughey ages nicely into the role of hotshot Los Angeles defense attorney Mick Haller. Grade: B.  

Red Riding Hood (Review)

Classic fairy tale fails in comtemporary update

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 16, 2011
If 'Red Riding Hood' were a comic book adaptation, it would be the origin story, but this dreadfully bland first take would have killed the franchise like a silver bullet. There is no romance or sensuality, just the chaste moon-eyed groping we’ve come to expect from the Stephenie Meyer-inspired lit-brand, and not one ounce of suspense in a single one of Catherine Hardwicke’s frames here. Grade: D-  

Apocalypse Again

Battle: LA is the kind of movie 9/11 was supposed to make unthinkable

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 16, 2011
We tend to forget now that Hollywood’s 9/11 guilt — the Onion famously compared the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon to a “bad Jerry Bruckheimer movie” — produced a cease-fire on using CGI to churn out $100 million-plus films depicting mass urban destruction. Even Bruckheimer, the chief culprit of such films, decided to turn to more benign movie fantasies like Pirates of the Caribbean (and crime series for TV). Alas, while hardly a flop, Master and Commander didn’t earn the kind of money domestically ($94 million) to make Hollywood clamor for more. And, slowly but steadily, with time we’ve been seeing a return to the pre-9/11 urban-destruction extravaganzas. The new Battle: Los Angeles is a prime example.  

Battle: Los Angeles (Review)

Effective, committed cast helps this sci-fi thriller feel real

0 Comments · Friday, March 11, 2011
For those looking for a grittier take on 'Independence Day,' director Jonathan Liebesman effectively extends himself beyond his horror roots into the boots of soldiers in the biggest fight of their lives. Grade: B.  

Mars Needs Moms (Review)

Solid storytelling saves this family-friendly 3-D adventure

0 Comments · Friday, March 11, 2011
Co-writer/director Simon Wells employs the latest 3-D technology with lackluster results, but he gets a reprieve thanks to his reliance on the fundamentals of story. This wild and wooly adventure follows Milo, a typical kid who hates following his mother’s rules until she (Joan Cusack) is kidnapped by Martians. Grade: B.  

Raw and Retiring: Kevin Smith

The barnstorming filmmaker talks up a blue streak and says he’s leaving

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 9, 2011
You would be hard-pressed to find a less dogmatic person than Kevin Smith, the director of Clerks (and its sequel), Dogma and the new horror thriller Red State, which he is screening during a 13-city tour from March 5 through April 9 prior to its theatrical release in October. The writer-director has been making movies for close to 20 years, mainly comedies. And, if the rumors are to be believed, this tour will be the start of his victory lap, his farewell to feature filmmaking.