The biggest disappointment of 2011. Ben Stiller playing the straight man. Eddie Murphy being second billed yet only having about 20 minutes of screen time (when he is on screen he is HILARIOUS!). It's a drama…WAIT…it's a comedy…WAIT it's a thriller…nope it's a mess. TOWER crumbles completely in the final act where the hidden loot is revealed to be in a place that completely contradicts what was said earlier in the film. SPOILER ALERT!!!
A stash that's easily accessible that can be grabbed in a rush in case the cops come calling. Explain to me how Alan Alda planned to escape quickly with his solid gold car that took the last part of the movie to steal? The only crime here is paying to watch this Oceans 11 wannabe.
MARCH actually limps it's way from start to finish…and ends more with a shoulder shrug and an eye roll than a thumbs up or applause. IDES is proof that Hollywood loves anything George Clooney does and that Ryan Gosling needs a new agent. The story is a bore, the acting nothing special (with the exceptions of Hoffman and Giamatti), and the twists more like slight turns. If you want to see a REAL political thriller, rent No Way Out or Blow Out. One of the most overrated movies I have seen in a long time.
An interesting, yet familiar plot. A wonderfully talented director and some great cinematography. A stellar supporting cast. All of this prevents this wronged spy thriller from going HAYWIRE. All the heavy lifting as far as actual acting goes is done by Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Bill Pullman and Michael Fassbender. But the star of this action flick is Gina Carano and her MMA fighting skills. Steven Soderbergh showcases his stars strengths to great effect. Carano doesn't do much actual acting. She glares a lot and kicks some serious ass. And that's not a bad thing, because she does it well. It also helps sell most of the deadpan humor. The movie is generally well done and a simple, fun 90 minutes. Carano may have a future as the female version of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Here's hoping she hones her acting chops and builds on this promising start. — Alan Yudman
This isn't just a vehicle for Meryl Streep, it's a sleek yet stolid
Jaguar that cruises (too quickly) past the highlights of Margaret
Thatcher's political career, but always circles back to its central
concern, the evaporation of Thatcher's mind in the twilight realm of
onset dementia. The movie is as much clinical study as bio-pic, and
when Streep tries to recapture a thought or hang onto clarity even as
it recedes, she becomes worthy of her legend. Actors are sometimes
said to “disappear” inside their roles: here's a prime example, and
here, too, Meryl's talent is equalled by astounding old-age makeup.
(And multiple hairdos, old and young, to beat the band.) As biography,
we get only a rushed, superficial chronology (Finchley election,
Falklands War, IRA bombing) which barely mentions actions Thatcher
took as PM for which she is still reviled by those who hate her,
actions such as privatization and her relationship with the unions.
And the run-up to her fall from power appears almost out of nowhere
and is so abbreviated you're left with the impression that her
government staged a mutiny because she was especially cranky one day
at a staff meeting. But the movie's ping-ponging between heyday and
senescence makes great sense as a metaphor for the mental inability to
stay in gear. To those for whom Streep may not be your favorite
actress because she's always maybe a bit too perfect: this one you'll
like. — Jeff Schultz
The only thing scary about this franchise is that people keep paying to watch fake “scary” home movies. These no budget excuses for movies cheat the audience virtually every single time. PA 3 is as good as 2 and 1…that's not intended as praise. If you want to see a genuinely scary “lost footage” movie, check out a sleeper called “Home Movie” (thank you Schultzie). THAT one will stay with you for days!
The title is a pun: the anti-heroine sets out to win the “Miss Baja
California” beauty contest, but ends up hopelessly (and bloodily)
entangled in drug violence and official corruption. “Bala” means
bullet, therein the irony. What makes this movie stand out (besides
the Dead Soul central performance of Stephanie Sigman) is that while
you won't find a bleaker or more hopeless look at life today in
Mexico, it's exciting to watch. Obviously, gun battles always wake up
the action. But director Gerardo Naranjo intensifies every scene with
uncanny camera placement that makes you feel as though you're sitting
alongside the characters. There are daring static shots and long, slow
pans, sometimes back and forth, that keep the audience both engrossed
and on edge. This is TRAFFIC meets MARIA FULL OF GRACE, but
unredeemed, joyless, a film that leaves you with the feeling that no
matter what choice someone makes, there are situations in which
heartless circumstance will screw them over and then, if they are very
lucky, leave them scarred and alone. — Jeff Schultz
Wholesale groans in the theatre when the end titles appear are half-
justified by the bad acting and the bad choice by the director to
shoot yet another documentary-style horror flick in which we watch
events unfold along with the “filmmakers” and experience, as they do,
when things spiral out of control. Even if the last PARANORMAL
ACTIVITY sequel didn't put you over that bandwagon jump for good,
you'll find no fresh twists here. But you will find many old friends:
the bone-cracking contortions of the possessed, Satanic emanations
from the your-mother-sucks-cocks-in-Hell playbook, demonic
transference from one character to the next, and (a favorite) the
final smash to black when the camera breaks — cue the groans. TV
actress Fernanda Andrade has little to do except look on goggle-eyed.
The rest of the cast are whocares. (But what the hell is the great
Lelia Goldoni doing in the tiniest of bit parts?) Here's my bomb-
throwing provocateur's six-word sum-up: It's as lame as THE EXORCIST.
— Jeff Schultz
I am not a fan of all the recent remakes. Friday the 13th. Psycho. Too many others to mention. They never bring anything new to the table and are almost always nothing more than a cash grab. I loved the original Fright Night and had a feeling this vampire remake would “suck”. I was surprised by this one. This new Night takes the original premise and characters and goes in a new direction. This one plays it much more straight and adds a couple new twists that feel natural to the story instead of gimmicky. Colin Farrell is menacing as Jerry the bloodsucker and British actor David Tennant gives us a very good Peter Vincent. Mind you, there's no way anyone can top Roddy McDowall but because they don't try to, it works. Respect is paid to the original while new ingredients are thrown into the mix. This one works. Still love the original but I liked this one too.
Jason Segel does in 90 minutes what many have tried to do for years: revive The Muppets. Gone are the gimmicks (in space, Treasure Island, Gonzo and his rats) and instead we go back to what made these guys fun. Everyone from Kermit to the balcony geezers are back along with a story that is simple enough for the kids who are new to the gang yet witty enough for us who grew up with them. By the time they sing “rainbow connection” near the end, you'll feel like a kid again. This one is a joy to watch.
The third installment of this epic trilogy will easily win the Oscar for best picture. Yeah not really. This one is better than the second but not nearly as funny as the first one. The best part of the whole movie? NPH once again being an absolute horndog and all around jerk. When Doogie is on screen, the laughs just don't stop. When he's not, it's merely chuckles. Dear Santa, please make HIM the lead in part four. This one is the equivalent of the gift you open Christmas morning and aren't thrilled with…but at least it's not an ugly sweater.