Movie Review

Movie Review:  'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' gets caught in its own messy web

Movie Review: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ gets caught in its own messy web

The only element the first “Amazing Spider-Man” has over Sam Raimi’s trilogy is the relationship and chemistry between Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). That’s true for the sequel as well, although everything else has gotten much worse. Sure, the visual effects look great and some of the action sequences impress, but […]

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‘Non-Stop’ offers non-stop action, but little else

‘Non-Stop’ offers non-stop action, but little else

The great modern film director Paul Thomas Anderson once said something to the effect of, “We [film directors] are really messing up with the action genre.” Anderson used harsher language, but it might seem that he’s right — at least from an artistic and aesthetic perspective. The formulaic, caged plot structure of the American action […]

Movie Review: 'Noah' takes big risks, but prevails

Movie Review: ‘Noah’ takes big risks, but prevails

Even when it’s an absurd mess, “Noah” remains admirable in its vision. Rarely does a blockbuster have balls this big, willing to take hallowed material and warp it into such a twisted beast. It pays off in bizarre fantastical spectacle and brooding brilliance, in about equal measure. And the stark, vivid imagery always dazzles, whether […]

Foreign films ‘The Wind Rises,’ ‘Queen’ receive rave reviews

Foreign films ‘The Wind Rises,’ ‘Queen’ receive rave reviews

“The Wind Rises” (Japan): Only a great, great man could create a 126-minute cartoon that held the attention of a semi-mature, joke-hunting man-boy on a Friday night. It’s a seemingly impossible feat, yet that sagely devil did it again. That great man is Hayao Miyazaki. And the man-boy? That’s me. Try as I might, I […]

‘Grand Budapest’ among Wes Anderson’s classics

‘Grand Budapest’ among Wes Anderson’s classics

Author’s Note: This review was written in the “Gonzo” style of Hunter S. Thompson. It is an experiment of the pen. After plopping down and settling in, I leaned back and observed the packed theater, feeling surprised that a Wes Anderson film could sell out in the wildly un-cool midwest. My enclosed mind thought I […]

Despite intriguing concept, 'Divergent' falters on formulaic story

Despite intriguing concept, ‘Divergent’ falters on formulaic story

“Divergent” is essentially just a lesser “Hunger Games.” It’s a franchise blockbuster led by a strong female character, which Hollywood needs more of, but it builds a future world that hits many similar story beats. And alas, it can’t overcome the biggest challenge of young adult adaptations:  a highly formulaic narrative. In a dystopian future, […]

'Need for Speed'ier exposition

‘Need for Speed’ier exposition

“Need for Speed” accelerates to some truly pulse-pounding races, chases and crashes during its 130 minute runtime, but the momentum comes to a screeching halt because of its plodding narrative plotting. For an over-the-top car racing movie based on a franchise of essentially storyless video games, there sure is an awful lot of time spent […]

Substance died, but style survives in '300' sequel

Substance died, but style survives in ’300′ sequel

“300: Rise of an Empire” isn’t so much a comic book movie as it is a live-action comic book. Visually speaking, there is so much slow-motion, combined with stylized visual effects and backdrops, that it looks and feels more like a moving comic than a real film, significantly more so than the original “300.” Another […]

Pompeii erupts with catastrophic spectacle

Pompeii erupts with catastrophic spectacle

Swords and sandals and a volcano, oh my! “Pompeii” is half gladiator movie, half disaster film and all spectacle without much substance. There’s some political intrigue and a love story too, but those are mostly there to round out the simple meat and potatoes of the movie with some corny fruits and veggies. Director Paul […]

‘Jayhawkers’ movie depicts mix of sport, suffering, jazz

‘Jayhawkers’ movie depicts mix of sport, suffering, jazz

The opening scenes of any indie film, especially one produced in the Midwest, are typically a time of uncertainty for an audience. Questions arise: Are these scenes telling of rest of the film’s ambience? I’ve never heard of any of these actors, so is this movie credible at all? Is this thing even worth finishing? […]

Vampire Academy sucks more than blood

Vampire Academy sucks more than blood

Another young adult fantasy novel adaptation, another weak attempt at starting a new hit franchise. “Vampire Academy” combines the setting of “Harry Potter,” the high school politics of “Mean Girls” and the watered-down vampire depictions of “Twilight.” Though it doesn’t carry misogynistic themes like “Twilight” and actually features empowered female characters, it totally sucks the […]

Movie Review: 'The Monuments Men' gives lighthearted view of WWII

Movie Review: ‘The Monuments Men’ gives lighthearted view of WWII

Leave it up to America’s golden boy George Clooney to make a WWII movie so traditionalist that it feels straight out of the ‘60s. “The Monuments Men,” directed by Clooney and co-written with his writing partner Grant Heslov, plays out like an educational Saturday morning cartoon. It uses a winsome ensemble cast to remind viewers […]

'The Lego Movie' lets audience relive childhood memories

‘The Lego Movie’ lets audience relive childhood memories

I admit, “The Lego Movie” is in fact another example of Hollywood cashing in on toys that we all loved during our childhoods. That being said, the filmmakers have done a damn fine job creating an immensely enjoyable, complexly animated film and the first must-see of 2014. Seamlessly combining stop-motion animation and CGI, “The Lego […]

Review: 'Labor Day' exceeds typical romantic expectations

Review: ‘Labor Day’ exceeds typical romantic expectations

Though its marketing gives the impression of a higher grade Nicholas Sparks adaptation, “Labor Day” is more than a mere romance between two lost souls; it’s a thematic departure for writer and director Jason Reitman (“Juno,” “Up in the Air”), who pulls off a balancing act between low-key thriller, romantic drama and coming-of-age tale. It […]

Jonze’s ‘Her’ explores love in an age of technology

Jonze’s ‘Her’ explores love in an age of technology

After perplexing us with “Being John Malkovich”, boggling our minds with “Adaptation” and touching our hearts with “Where the Wild Things Are,”Spike Jonze has completely outdone himself and directed perhaps the most important piece of modern cinematic art of Generation Y. “Her” is an ingenious — and powerfully realistic — commentary on the direction modern […]

Hoskins: Recent Coen movie "Inside Llewyn Davis" doesn't dissappoint

Hoskins: Recent Coen movie “Inside Llewyn Davis” doesn’t dissappoint

If the Coen brothers had hung their hats after “No Country for Old Men” and never again peered through another lens, their historical pillar among America’s finest film directors would have been permanently cemented. However, after trying to push “No Country’s” success into the brilliantly satirical, yet widely ill-received “Burn After Reading,” the brothers seemed […]