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Scott Renshaw
 
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The Art of Getting By (Review)

Formulaic coming-of-age romance doesn't quite get by

0 Comments · Friday, June 17, 2011
Writer/director Gavin Wiesen's formulaic romantic comedy attempts some familiar indie-pic variations on the comeing-of-age theme but ignores the most fundamental need of the genre: Somewhere, there better be somebody you actually want to root for. Grade: C.  

Super 8 (Review)

J.J. Abrams' crafty thriller channels Steven Spielberg

1 Comments · Thursday, June 9, 2011
Give J.J. Abrams credit for stones the size of bowling balls, because he practically gift-wraps the pike on which his science-fiction thriller 'Super 8' could be skewered. Early in the film, aspiring middle-school filmmaker Charles (Riley Griffiths) explains to his pal, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), why he has added new scenes to the zombie movie they're shooting with Charles' Super-8 camera. It can't be just about the creatures, Charles quotes from the screenwriting books he's been brushing up on; you have to care about the characters, so that you want them to live. Grade: B.  

Meek's Cutoff (Review)

Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams rewire the western genre

0 Comments · Thursday, May 26, 2011
You might have seen various re-creations of pioneer journeys, but chances are you’ve never seen the stark realities of that kind of journey given the existential weight of Kelly Reichardt’s 'Meek’s Cutoff.' Screenwriter Jon Raymond draws from a real-life historical tale: an Oregon-bound wagon train led by guide Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) in 1845 that took an alternate route to the well-traveled Oregon Trail. Dissent soon begins to simmer, however, as the pioneers begin to suspect that Meek doesn’t really know where he’s going. Grade: A-.   

The Hangover Part II (Review)

Half-assed sequel fails to reach its potential

0 Comments · Thursday, May 26, 2011
The comedic premise of the 2009 original was pure genius, executed with minimal imagination; it was like teenagers blessed with the power of invisibility who could only think to sneak into the girls’ locker room. This version copies the formula, to the same effect. Grade: C-plus.  

Something Borrowed (Review)

Annoying protagonists mar conventional romantic comedy

0 Comments · Thursday, May 5, 2011
An adaptation of Emily Giffin's novel faces a fundamental problem: Can you create a sympathetic center for people doing a morally indefensible thing? Apparently the answer is “no.” Grade: C.  

Thor (Review)

Thor sticks to a superhero formula while providing a few satisfying twists

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 4, 2011
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.  

Rio (Review)

Computer-animated feature revisits a seemingly long-lost style

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Plenty of contemporary animated features are trying so hard to be clever that they forget to be fundamentally enjoyable — and as for the emotional depth, we can appreciate Pixar's impressive track record without dismissing everything that doesn't live up to that standard. 'Rio' manages to be entertaining by working within an unlikely formula: making something that's fun for kids, in the style of movies that their parents would have watched when they were kids. 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.  

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.  

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-.