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Another Earth (Review)

Sundance prize winner melds drama and sci-fi

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 17, 2011
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.  

Final Destination 5

Latest in series lacks compelling characters

0 Comments · Tuesday, August 16, 2011
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.  

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (Review)

Television makes a reasonably effective move to big screen

0 Comments · Tuesday, August 16, 2011
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.  

The Help

Revisionist drama is the would-be feel-good lesson of the summer

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 10, 2011
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.  

30 Minutes or Less (Review)

Action comedy delivers efficient thrills and raunchy humor

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 10, 2011
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.  

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rupert Wyatt's prequel moves into fresh direction

0 Comments · Monday, August 8, 2011
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.  

The Change-Up (Review)

Unconvincing switcheroo comedy mired in muck

0 Comments · Thursday, August 4, 2011
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.  

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Review)

Wayne Wang and Ron Bass reunite with mixed results

0 Comments · Thursday, August 4, 2011
The film, by shifting its time periods, seems to want to draw upon the epic possibility of history but instead it locks its two leading ladies and the filmmakers into an airless and pedestrian resolution. Grade: C-plus.  

Cowboys & Aliens (Review)

Genre mashup lacks believability and heart

1 Comment · Friday, July 29, 2011
Jon Favreau and his all-star producers (Brian Glazer, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg) along with a solid cast keep the whole shebang banging, but there's not one ounce of heart or believability to be found in this genre mashup. Should rustle up a few bucks at the box office, but it won't inspire the shock and awe of a calvary ride from the good old days. Grade: C-.   

Project Nim (Review)

James Marsh doc delivers another unique cinematic experience

0 Comments · Thursday, July 28, 2011
James Marsh, director of 'Man on Wire,' examines the 25-year chronicle of Nim Chimpsky, a research chimpanzee who was put through the mill in the service of science when Columbia University professor Herb Terrace took the baby chimp away from his mother and attempted to train it to communicate through sign language. Grade: A.  

The Smurfs

1980s cartoon gets formulaic film adpatation

0 Comments · Thursday, July 28, 2011
As directed by Raja Gosnell, 'The Smurfs' hits every required element for such movies: musical number, toilet gags, rib-nudging pop-culture references, sloppy sentimentality. The familiar blue faces from the '80s cartoon, now in CGI, form-fly through a vortex from their Smurf village to New York City, where they can be a problem for an overworked, soon-to-be-first-time-dad marketing executive (Neil Patrick Harris). Grade: D-.  

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Movie love and romance drive men to find cold comfort in … other men

0 Comments · Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Cal is the latest Steve Carell iteration from directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (the writing/directing combo behind 'I Love You Phillip Morris') facing his moment on the precipice. Having completed dinner with his wife Emily (Julianne Moore), he proposes that, on the count of three, they offer up the first thing that comes to mind. He's scanning dessert options; she asks for a divorce. Grade: B-.  

Friends with Benefits (Review)

Strong cast carries satire of romantic comedies

0 Comments · Monday, July 25, 2011
'Friends With Benefits' attempts to make fun of romantic comedies, while exploiting the same formula. It very nearly succeeds thanks to engaging performances from Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as the titular booty buddies and director Will Gluck. Grade: B.  

Captain America (Review)

Comic-book adaptation is competent if uninspired

0 Comments · Sunday, July 24, 2011
Joe Johnston, the director of numerous effects-driven adventures over the years (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Jumanji and Jurassic Park III, to name a few), brings sleek efficiency to this 3-D adaptation of the latest Marvel Comics staple to make it to the big screen, which is a nice way of saying that Captain America is a competent if uninspired opening salvo in what Paramount hopes is its next mondo franchise. Grade: C.  

Queen to Play (Review)

French drama revels in the pleasures of chess

0 Comments · Thursday, July 21, 2011
Superlative performances and a restrained directorial touch elevate this French drama from a schematic outline into a compelling story about a woman who gradually discovers horizons where previously she had seen none. Grade: B.