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The Adjustment Bureau (Review)

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt simmer in suspense thriller

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Loosely based on a 1954 short story by Philip K. Dick, Matt Damon makes a believable politician as David Norris, a blue-collar hotshot who gets robbed of a U.S. Senate seat after a tabloid revelation about a display of temper back in his college days. The sting of defeat is lessened when the young all-American everyman meets a beautiful dancer named Elise (Emily Blunt). The actors' convincing onscreen chemistry puts a simmer under the artificial sci-fi storyline that hovers above. Grade: B-.  

Rango (Review)

Johnny Depp-voiced chameleon headlines pleasurable animated comedy

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 2, 2011
In conjunction with Industrial Light and Magic, director Gore Verbinski ('Pirates of the Caribbean') has created a gorgeously animated western that doesn't need any stinking 3-D effects to entertain or pump up its profit margin. Grade: A-.  

Hall Pass (Review)

Farrelly brothers return with lackluster results

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Bobby and Peter Farrelly return to the multiplexes after a brief hiatus (following their dismal remake of The Heartbreak Kid) with a story about a couple of schmucky guys (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) who think they’ve got it made when their wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) give them a week off from marital fidelity. Hall Pass makes effort to position itself within the bromantic movement spawned by Judd Apatow, which makes the movie a throwback of sorts. Grade: D.  

Drive Angry 3D (Review)

Nic Cage unleashes another hellish bore

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 1, 2011
As an escapee from hell on a vengeance-seeking mission to save his kidnapped granddaughter, Nicolas Cage appears to have chosen this violent campfest as a bridge between 'Ghost Rider' and its unnecessary sequel, but 'Drive Angry 3D' director Patrick Lussier ends up unleashing three dimensions of hellish boredom on Earth. Grade: F.   

The Grace Card (Review)

Melodramatic tale ultimately preaches to an already-converted choir

0 Comments · Friday, February 25, 2011
Ophthalmologist-turned-filmmaker David G. Evans dives into the The Grace Card's big, universal themes of life, death, race, reconciliation, redemption, forgiveness and family with straightforward earnestness, which synchs well with the material. But Howard A. Klausner's screenplay gets bogged down in too many talky theological monologues and plot twists that stretch believability.   

I Am Number Four (Review)

Mildly compelling sci-fi thriller is really a coming-of-age tale

0 Comments · Friday, February 25, 2011
Veteran director D.J. Caruso guides this mildly compelling sci-fi thriller about a high school student (Alex Pettyfer) with secret, still burgeoning supernatural skills and the big, ugly alien enemies who'll do anything to exterminate him.   

Three-Dimensional Savior?

Hollywood goes all in on 3-D craze ... but should audiences?

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 23, 2011
To listen to Variety’s 3-D guru David Cohen talk you’d think that we’ll all be wearing 3-D glasses for every movie we see in the coming years. He compares the advent of 3-D to the arrival of sound in cinema. You’d never hear Cohen say that only 70 percent of the population can properly see 3-D due to a variety of ocular anomalies that include things such as color blindness. Naturally, that means only seven out of every 10 people can actually see 3-D.  

The Genesis Code (Review)

Heavyhanded tale preaches to the choir

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 22, 2011
'The Genesis Code' will likely only end up preaching to the choir and the faithful few already in the pews, which is too bad because if it had dropped the know-it-all pose and truly debated the questions, it might have inspired legions of would-be seekers to commit to a real quest for knowledge and truth. Grade: D-plus.  

From Prada to Nada (Review)

Update of literary classic is a formulaic bore

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Spinning off Jane Austen’s 'Sense and Sensibility', 'From Prada to Nada' follows Nora Dominguez (Camilla Belle) and her shopping-obsessed sister Mary (Alexa Vega) as they go from spoiled princesses in Beverly Hills to struggling commoners in East L.A. after the sudden death of their father. Grade: D-plus.  

Big Momma's: Like Father, Like Son (Review)

Martin Lawrence's latest cross-dressing comedy is a drag

0 Comments · Monday, February 21, 2011
It looks like another drag when Martin Lawrence returns as an undercover agent with a penchant for donning a wig and a fat suit in order to catch his man. This time, the FBI agent must protect his stepson (Brandon T. Jackson) who witnessed a murder and has to slip into a cross-dressing disguise of his own. This mindless story makes Eddie Murphy’s 'Beverly Hills Cop 3' seem as complex and compelling as an installment in the 'Bourne' franchise. Grade: F.   

Barney's Version (Review)

A committed Paul Giamatti isn't enough to make this period drama compelling

0 Comments · Friday, February 18, 2011
We've all heard somebody say that so-and-so's life story should be made into a movie. But just because a producer thinks Mordecai Richler's faux autobiography is worthy of cinematic interpretation doesn't make it so. Debut director Richard J. Lewis gets saddled with deceptively less fertile source material than must have appeared to Paul Giamatti. Grade: C.  

Unknown (Review)

Liam Neeson is the best thing in this convoluted thriller

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 16, 2011
How Liam Neeson went from being that rare thespian animal of a leading-man character actor to a full-on action star while still keeping his artistic integrity is a mystery. His latest big-screen project is a fish-out-of-water mystery thriller. It's not an especially memorable film, which is ironic considering the analogous subject matter of its over-leveraged premise. Grade: B-.  

Just Go With It (Review)

Just say no to Adam Sandler's latest dud

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 15, 2011
A successful plastic surgeon (Adam Sandler) pretends to be married to woo women, but when he meets the woman of his dreams (Brooklyn Decker) he ensnares his assistant (Jennifer Aniston) into a deeper (and dumber and dumber) web of lies and misunderstandings on the way to his happily ever after. Grade: F.  

Gnomeo & Juliet (Review)

Animated Shakespeare adaptation aided by Elton John

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 15, 2011
As things stand, this is certainly not the strangest adaptation of the Bard; in fact, it could be argued that Gnomeo & Juliet is rather conventional, especially for kiddie 3-D fare, when a few creative sparks (and a richer use of the extra dimension) might have been able to woo a few more hearts. Just be thankful Shakespeare never came up with a sequel. Grade: C  

The Illusionist (Review)

Animated story channels the late, great Jacques Tati

0 Comments · Thursday, February 10, 2011
Animating an unproduced script by the late, great Jacques Tati proves a problematic challenge for filmmaker Sylvain Chomet ('The Triplets of Belleville'): Tati's ingenious style of physical comedy just doesn't translate in to animation. The entertaining effect of watching the actor play with balance and proportion as he moves is lost here, in spite of Chomet's best efforts to evoke Mr. Tati as a 1950s-era traveling magician. That's not to take anything away from Chomet, who employs light and color in elegant and understated ways. Grade: B-