WORLD WAR Z should be called the thinking man’s Zombie movie. Brad Pitt plays a former U.N. investigator who has quit the job to be what appears to be a stay at home dad. While he’s driving the kids to school, all of a sudden they are in the middle of a Zombie apocalypse. There’s a lot of running and fighting off the rampaging undead. While on the run, Pitt gets a call from his former boss who desperately needs him back on the job in order to find how to stop the spread of this plague. A lot of Zombie movies are obsessed with one of two things: splattering as many of the undead as the director can in two hours or getting the hero and his band of ragtag survivors to safety. This is neither. WWZ is more of a mystery/thriller. Pitt is searching for patient zero, but will he find him? Is that even the point? Ultimately, Pitt uses his investigative skills to come to a dire conclusion (I won’t spoil that here). There’s nothing overly remarkable in the film, other than the outstanding performance of Pitt and his interaction with about a dozen other characters. Make no mistake, this movie’s success falls right in Pitt’s lap and he is up to the task. WWZ does have its moments of humor and sentimentality in Pitt’s relationship with his family. But, there is a sense of foreboding throughout the movie, and it is set up by a series of TV news clips that give the audience the idea that a Zombie plague isn’t as far fetched as most movies might lead us to believe. The ending confirms that by not tying everything up in a neat little package that is easy for the audience to digest. And that’s why it is a thinking man’s Zombie movie, because WORLD WAR Z is about more than body counts and destruction. — Alan Yudman
This movie COULD have been smug and precious and “inside Hollywood” in that insular, self-satisfied way of celebrities whose shit don’t stink. Instead, it may be the funniest movie you see this year, with an energy that doesn’t flag and, of all things for a buddy comedy, pretty cool special effects. You can go from laughing out loud at a screaming argument between James Franco and Danny McBride on when and where it’s appropriate to shoot your load, to marveling (and also laughing out loud) at an amazingly well hung Devil Incarnate. So many stars playing themselves, but it never seems like a vanity project, because the dialog is sharp and the actors are actually working. Loved Michael Cera snorting coke and being a pig. Wished Christopher Mintz-Plasse hadn’t gone to Hell so quickly. Found out what Channing Tatum would be like as a bottom. It’s a blast. — Jeff Schultz
Critics tend to be snobs and bash movies because they’re “unbelievable”. They heap praise on average movies that don’t deserve it (The Cabin in the Woods, The Amazing Spider Man) and stick their noses up at other movies. That’s the deal with Now You See Me. From the opening shot to the final frame, this magician heist flick is a lot of fun! Clocking in at almost 2 hours, it flies by with cool and original action sequences, unexpected humor, and twists galore. Contrary to what many reviews have stated, the cast is NOT wasted. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, and everyone else bring their A games to this fun and extremely original movie. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride. Now You See Me will be seen by many, will end up being the sleeper hit of the summer and will make those bad reviews vanish into thin air! It is a lot of fun. — Stormy Curry
Despite strong performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, this Master is more of a novice. A lead character with seemingly no humanity could make for an interesting movie (like There Will Be Blood, Magnolia) but Phoenix’s character never comes across an anything more than unstable, selfish, sad, and creepy. He has no real arc…if he’s changed, we have no idea how. Hoffman’s character is much more interesting but this isn’t his story…which is too bad. The religion and its methods are fascinating but once again the movie doesn’t dive into specifics…another missed opportunity. Too many scenes that seem random and/or artsy slow down a film that already goes at a snail’s pace. By the end, the audience is left with a movie that, much like its lead character, goes nowhere.