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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-  

The Eagle (Review)

Historical adventure not sure what it wants to say

0 Comments · Thursday, February 10, 2011
In 140 A.D. Roman-occupied Great Britain, Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum) is a soldier’s son haunted by an infamous military debacle in which his father never returned from an expedition in the north of Britain, losing the golden eagle standard in the process. But with the help of a native Briton slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), Marcus undertakes a likely suicide mission into the untamed north to recover the eagle. 'The Eagle' plays as a simplistic adventure that wants to be taken seriously, but never has the guts to stake out a point of view. Grade: C-.  

Biutiful (Review)

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu sets off on a new filmmaking journey

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Working for the first time from his own screenplay, Iñárritu explores yet another Third World ghetto and the lost souls seeking redemption in these hells on Earth. But he’s not making the journey alone. His muse and fellow wanderer for this project, Javier Bardem has that beautifully expressive face with those huge sad eyes and a world full of weariness etched in every crack and crevice.  

Sanctum (Review)

Painfully dull dialogue sinks spelunking drama

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 8, 2011
James Cameron lends his immense clout to this production about a team of spelunkers with all sorts of internal drama, but the journey fraught with painfully dull dialogue and thematic issues that are simply too on-the-nose. Grade: D-plus.  

The Roommate (Review)

Stalker thriller is so dumb it hurts

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 8, 2011
'Single White Female' redux would be a better title for Christian E. Christiansen’s 'The Roommate,' except any connection with that film might lead audiences to believe that 'The Roommate' has a hint of credibility, which it most certainly does not. Grade: F