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The 5th Wave Review

Very Good

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels like it could be a worthy successor to The Hunger Games saga, with its smart story and strong characters. The premise feels remarkably grounded, as it follows a feisty teen while her world is turned upside down by an alien invasion. And Chloe Grace Moretz gives one of her most complex performances to date as a quick, flawed heroine.

The title refers to the stages of invasion, as unseen aliens quietly take over the planet. And then not so quietly. Most of humanity has been killed by disasters or disease, with the survivors waiting for whatever the next wave of attack might be. Before this, Cassie (Moretz) was a normal 16-year-old with a crush on the cute Ben (Nick Robinson). Now she's running for her life, trying to rescue her little brother Sam (Zackary Arthur), who has been whisked to safety by the gung-ho Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber) and his military resistance. Along the way, she meets farm boy Evan (Alex Roe), whom she reluctantly trusts mainly because he's such a hunk. Meanwhile, Ben finds himself in Sam's unit in the newly formed child's army Vosch is training to hunt down aliens who have taken human form.

Director Blakeson keeps the pace brisk without rushing past important details. This makes what happens feel unusually believable, and it also allows the actors to add personal touches to their performances. Moretz finds Cassie's innate courage and quick physicality, but nicely balances it with her impulsive decisions and adolescent self-doubt. As in most of these movies, she has to be in a love triangle, but her scenes with both Robinson and Roe offer something a bit more intriguing, mainly because both actors have surprises up their sleeves. There's also a fourth person in this relationship in the form of Maika Monroe's tough-girl fighter Ringer, perhaps the most intriguing character on-screen.

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For All Its Candor, "Winter's Tale" Falls Flat With Critics


Akiva Goldsman Russell Crowe Will Smith

Winter’s Tale (not to be confused with the Shakespeare play) starring Colin Farrell, premieres today to high expectations. For writer/director Akiva Goldsman, it’s been a labor of love, but a long and complicated one. Goldsman spoke to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week, explaining some of the trouble he ran into with Winter’s Tale, as well as his personal life during pre-production.

Colin Farrell, Winter's Tale Still
Colin Farrell, horse - what more could you want in a romance flick, really?

"This movie is kind of an exercise in faith," he told THR. "I was trying to write it, and my wife passed away while I was writing the screenplay, and I didn't think I'd do much of anything after that. This became kind of a Hail Mary to the idea that there's a peacefulness behind random acts of love."

Continue reading: For All Its Candor, "Winter's Tale" Falls Flat With Critics

Angels & Demons Review


Good
Slow and steady doesn't always win the race.

Take Ron Howard's adaptations of Dan Brown's riveting bestsellers. Both The Da Vinci Code and its sequel, Angels & Demons, are competently made, commendably acted historical thrillers set against picturesque international backdrops. Yet for some reason, neither comes close to duplicating the urgent pacing of Brown's crackling source material.

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Hancock Review


OK
It doesn't happen in many movies, but there's something I like to call the "drop-off point" to describe when a movie turns bad very suddenly. The drop-off point of Hancock occurs at the beginning of the third act, and I can't describe it fully without spoiling the ending, but I will say the movie gets bad precisely when the ghetto superhero Hancock (Will Smith) gets thrown out of a window onto a car. From thereon, as fast as Hancock can dive off a building, the movie plunges deeper and deeper into the depths of stupidity and failure.

That's disappointing, because before the drop-off point, Hancock is surprisingly good. The movie's best as a comedy and worst when it tries to get serious. Hancock is a tragically misunderstood, alcoholic super human of sorts; he's what would have happened to Superman if the Kents were unstable parents. Bulletproof, capable of flying, and strong as an ox, Hancock possesses all the physical traits to be a superhero but lacks any of the heroic characteristics. Everybody in Los Angeles hates this guy, because the damage he causes while nabbing criminals costs the city more to repair than the criminal acts themselves.

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I Am Legend Review


Very Good
To the modern eye, the plot for the 1954 Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend might sound something like Cast Away with zombies. Truth be told, that's not a terrible premise, and Constantine director Francis Lawrence runs with it in this third film adaptation of the novel (and first to keep its title). Where he takes it may not always work, but he makes sure we enjoy the ride.

Will Smith plays Robert Neville, a virologist investigating a genetically engineered cure for cancer that has gone very, very wrong. With most of the world's population wiped out and a small remnant turned into ravenous, infected carriers, Neville ekes out a lonely existence with only a dog for company in the remains of New York City, hunting, foraging, and exploring by day and shutting himself in at night. The infected, as it turns out, are vulnerable to ultraviolet light.

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Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review


Excellent
It will go down in infamy as the film that split up Brad and Jen -- assuming that 10 or 20 years from now people still remember the headline-making legacy of the ill-fated Pitt-Aniston marriage.

Unfortunately for gossip fiends, Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn't really bear any mark of Angelina Jolie as homewrecker or of Brad Pitt as any more infatuated with the lippy screen queen than any normal, red-blooded man ought to be. And fortunately for moviegoers, Smith (wholly unrelated to the 1941 Hitchcock film of the same name) is a funny and wild ride, an impressive blend of black comedy, ultraviolence, and romance that we rarely get to see -- and which rarer still is any good.

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Lost In Space Review


Bad
Would that I had listened to my gut instead of Lost in Space's flashy trailer, one of the best promos for a bad movie (see also: Alien: Resurrection, Cliffhanger) to come along in some time.

Where to start with my complaints about this movie? Is it Akiva Goldsman's ridiculous script that attempts to jam as many fall-down-howlingly-bad lines into two hours as possible? Actors who obviously realize its qualities and spend the time mumbling them beneath their breath? A ridiculous little creature called Blorp (or Gleep, or whatever) that's sole purpose seems to be to sell toys? The time travel plot that takes over half-way through the film and makes you long for the oh-so-logical days of The Terminator and Back to the Future? Hell, The Jetsons paints a more realistic view of the future...

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Poseidon Review


OK

34 years ago, The Poseidon Adventure rode the trendy disaster meme of its day to stellar box office and numerous Oscar nominations. Today, Poseidon sits poised to ride the current effects meme to similar financial reward and perhaps some technical nods to boot. What it probably won't see is acclaim for its dialogue, story, or characters, but those laurels largely eluded its predecessor as well.

As with its forerunner, Poseidon opens with an introduction to its namesake, a massive luxury liner, and its passengers, which in this installment include an ex-mayor/firefighter (Kurt Russell), his daughter (Emmy Rossum), her beloved (Mike Vogel), a gambler (Josh Lucas), a jilted lover (Richard Dreyfuss), a stowaway (Mía Maestro), an inevitably hot single mom (Jacinda Barrett), her inevitably adorable tyke (Jimmy Bennett), and a waiter (a completely wasted Freddy Rodríguez). If you think reading a list of these stereotypes is tiresome, watching them establish their personas is more so.

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The Da Vinci Code Review


Weak
Entertainment journalist Cal Fussman interviewed Tom Hanks for the June issue of Esquire. As part of an insightful feature, the two-time Oscar winner flipped through candid photographs taken on various film sets over the course of his 20-year career.

When Hanks reached the oft-maligned Bonfire of the Vanities, he speculated on the reasons Brian De Palma's adaptation of Tom Wolfe's celebrated novel failed. The actor admitted, among other things, that he "wasn't the right guy" to play that particular part. "Plus," Hanks went on to say, "it's hard to make a movie out of something that entered into the national consciousness as strongly as (Wolfe's) book."

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Starsky & Hutch Review


Excellent
How gratifying to laugh at a movie starring Ben Stiller again. Not just occasional chuckles, as in Duplex or Along Came Polly, but big, genuine, generous laughs. A solid, well-timed comedy can be such a relief; Starsky & Hutch is no more than that, but that's part of its charm.

This charm may not be entirely expected. After all, it is (1) an adaptation of a 1970s cop show, (2) arriving maybe a decade after the peak of seventies nostalgia, (3) assembled by director-writer Todd Phillips (Road Trip, Old School), whose previous movies were only funny to the extent that the actors could overcome his aimless, slapdash staging (Will Ferrell, no problem; Breckin Meyer, less so).

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Lost In Space Review


Bad
Would that I had listened to my gut instead of Lost in Space's flashy trailer, one of the best promos for a bad movie (see also: Alien: Resurrection, Cliffhanger) to come along in some time.

Where to start with my complaints about this movie? Is it Akiva Goldsman's ridiculous script that attempts to jam as many fall-down-howlingly-bad lines into two hours as possible? Actors who obviously realize its qualities and spend the time mumbling them beneath their breath? A ridiculous little creature called Blorp (or Gleep, or whatever) that's sole purpose seems to be to sell toys? The time travel plot that takes over half-way through the film and makes you long for the oh-so-logical days of The Terminator and Back to the Future? Hell, The Jetsons paints a more realistic view of the future...

Continue reading: Lost In Space Review

Batman & Robin Review


Terrible
This fourth episode in the Batman series isn't a movie so much as a theme park. It wasn't scripted so much as run through the Hollywood script mill, where every line of dialogue is reduced to a catchphrase. "Allow me to break the ice," says Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), "My name is Freeze. Learn it well. For it's the chilling sound of your doom." That groaner is representative of pretty much every line of Batman's arch-nemesis. He later posits such zingers as, "Tonight, hell freezes over!" and "You're not sending me to the cooler!" This is not character development so much as paint-by-numbers screenwriting, where you can imagine the gang sitting around wondering what incorrigible pun they'll come up with next.

Tim Burton's first two Batman films were all about this nerd auteur playing with a gigantic train set, so even though the stories were threadbare and superficial, at least Burton brought a highly stylized pop Gothic look. Jack Nicholson hammed it up nicely as the Joker and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman was an unforgettably sexy femme fatale who was able to hold her own in a power struggle with the caped crusader. Say what you will, the films had their moments, and even miscast Michael Keaton was an enjoyable wild card.

Continue reading: Batman & Robin Review

Mindhunters Review


OK
In Mindhunters, a serial killer uses broken watches to reveal the time he's going to murder his next victim. Ironically, the film itself is like a watch -- a classy watch, in fact -- but a watch, nonetheless; similar in that both are reliable devices that do exactly what you expect of them and do so on autopilot, extracting little effort from the observer, until, of course, a battery change becomes necessary. Unfortunately, Mindhunters needs more than a simple battery replacement.

How's this for a final exam? Jake Harris (Val Kilmer), a controversial FBI instructor, immerses his students in elaborate, realistic training situations, and he pushes them to their limits for their final test. He flies his students (Christian Slater, Patricia Velasquez, Jonny Lee Miller, Clifton Collins Jr., Kathryn Morris, Eion Bailey, and Will Kemp) to a remote island used for war games practice, which has been deserted for the weekend.

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I, Robot Review


Weak
The question most on my mind pre-I, Robot was can any futuristic post-Minority Report sci-fi thriller really stack-up to Steven Spielberg's masterpiece? If this film is any indication, then the answer is definitely no. While it may not be completely fair to compare the two, there's no denying that Report clearly set the standard for films with future-minded worlds. If nothing else, Report should have motivated Robot to be a much better film.

Robot is inspired by ideas found in Issac Asimov's anthology of the same name, though screenwriters Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman don't follow any one specific novel verbatim. As in the literary works, the robots must abide by the following laws: 1) A robot may not injure a human or, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm; 2) a robot must obey orders given to it by a human, except where it would conflict with the first law; and 3) a robot must protect itself, as long as that protection doesn't violate either the first or second law. Of course these rules will be broken.

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Batman Forever Review


Weak
Batman's reins have been turned over from director Tim Burton (now producing) to Joel Schumacher, from lead Michael Keaton to Val Kilmer, and from an old, baroque Gotham to a heavily stylized, kiddie-pop city.

A lot can be said for the idea that the setting of a picture thoroughly controls its tone. What we Batman Forever is an attempt to make Gotham more like Los Angeles, full of neon, black lights, and people sporting primary-color wigs. Unfortunately, something has been lost in translation.

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A Time To Kill Review


OK
Remember the hoopla over the novel A Time To Kill? It was celebrated author John Grisham's second book -- actually his first book -- the book he published after The Firm became a hit. The book that no one wanted before he was famous. The book, apparently, that, if it hadn't had his name on it, would never have been published.

Now it's the fourth Grisham movie to be made, continuing in grand fashion that franchise of increasingly average film versions of his increasingly average writing.

Continue reading: A Time To Kill Review

A Beautiful Mind Review


Essential
I hate math. I've always hated math. It gives me a pounding headache. It would take a miracle to convince me of its value. But A Beautiful Mind has accomplished the impossible; after watching the film, I have a new appreciation for math as an art, and for mathematicians as artists.

Seldom do movies contain enough power to influence or change our convictions. Through enormously convincing performances, a masterful screenplay, and aggressive direction, this movie takes us on an extraordinary journey into the mind of a fascinating character, providing insight on its unique subject. Move over Good Will Hunting, here comes the ultimate movie about a math wiz!

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Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review


Excellent
It will go down in infamy as the film that split up Brad and Jen -- assuming that 10 or 20 years from now people still remember the headline-making legacy of the ill-fated Pitt-Aniston marriage.

Unfortunately for gossip fiends, Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn't really bear any mark of Angelina Jolie as homewrecker or of Brad Pitt as any more infatuated with the lippy screen queen than any normal, red-blooded man ought to be. And fortunately for moviegoers, Smith (wholly unrelated to the 1941 Hitchcock film of the same name) is a funny and wild ride, an impressive blend of black comedy, ultraviolence, and romance that we rarely get to see -- and which rarer still is any good.

Continue reading: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review

Practical Magic Review


Good
Why do titles have to be so ironic? Not to say that Practical Magic is an oxymoron, some of the camera tricks that they have are nice and neat. But the movie itself is neither practical nore magic, which it would so much like us to believe. It's not a witchcraft movie, it's not a female bonding movie, or a family movie. It's not much of a romance, it's not much of a thriller. It's not much of a PG-13 horror, either. What it is is OK. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's one of those movies that I kind of just sat through. I was a passive participant. I didn't even get to make my usual comments picking on it while I watched it (except for one). It's not a waste of your time, if you have time to kill. It's not a bad movie to take some witches to: I can say its religiously accurate. But what use is that?

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Deep Blue Sea Review


Very Good
It's been a few years since a good shark movie, and while Lake Placid played games with the monster movie genre, Deep Blue Sea aims to please with an old-fashioned thriller where, once again, the beasts are much smarter than the prey (the people).

The story is familiar - genetic tampering makes sharks brilliantly intelligent - and they want nothing more than to eat people. Along the food chain are Samuel Jackson, Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, and Michael Rapaport. But most notable is rapper LL Cool J as a cook/preacher who provides much-needed comic relief to the proceedings.

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Akiva Goldsman

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Akiva Goldsman Movies

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Insurgent Movie Review

Insurgent Movie Review

A sharp improvement on the original, this second entry in The Divergent Series has a...

Winter's Tale Movie Review

Winter's Tale Movie Review

The fact that this magical romance has been retitled A New York Winter's Tale in...

Lone Survivor Movie Review

Lone Survivor Movie Review

The title kind of gives away the ending of this harrowing true story, which is...

Winter's Tale Trailer

Winter's Tale Trailer

Peter Lake is a wanted burglar in a desperate struggle to escape an old gangster...

Finding Joe Trailer

Finding Joe Trailer

Joseph Campbell was a famous mythologist, born in New York in 1904. He is most...

Fair Game Movie Review

Fair Game Movie Review

This provocative, fascinating true story is told with so much righteous rage that the politics...

The Losers Movie Review

The Losers Movie Review

Raucous and colourful, this comical action flick should be great fun, but a lack of...

Hancock Movie Review

Hancock Movie Review

It doesn't happen in many movies, but there's something I like to call the "drop-off...

I Am Legend Movie Review

I Am Legend Movie Review

To the modern eye, the plot for the 1954 Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend...

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Movie Review

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Movie Review

It will go down in infamy as the film that split up Brad and Jen...

Lost in Space Movie Review

Lost in Space Movie Review

Would that I had listened to my gut instead of Lost in Space's flashy trailer,...

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