Jeffrey Silver

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Edge of Tomorrow Review


Good

A smarter-than-expected script turns this noisy sci-fi action movie into something remarkably entertaining. A-list stars, solid actors and whizzy effects aside, the dialogue is packed with clever observations that are both mind-bending and unexpectedly hilarious. And director Doug Liman (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) lets his cast have a lot of fun with it.

In the near future when aliens called Mimics have rampaged across Europe, Cage (Tom Cruise) is a military media spokesman suddenly sent into the front-lines from London, battling the fearsome creatures on the beaches of Normandy. He's killed fairly quickly, but wakes up that same morning and is again sent through battlefield prep with harsh Sgt Farell (Bill Paxton) and a rag-tag team. Again and again. Eventually he breaks out of the pattern and discovers another soldier, Rita (Emily Blunt), who seems to understand why he is living this day over and over only to die each time. So he uses the repetition to figure out what's really going on, and he and Rita plot a way to stop the aliens for good.

Yes, the premise is a direct riff on Groundhog Day, as Cage makes the most of each day, learning something new that will get him further the next. And the film's script knowingly plays with the set-up, offering witty comments and some genuinely suspenseful set-pieces along the way, all sharply edited into a relatively coherent narrative, although the ending will generate a lot of post-screening debate. Liman packs the film with kinetic, intense action sequences that are rendered with strikingly realistic effects that occasionally have some extra fun with the 3D.

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Tron: Legacy Review


Weak
It's fairly safe to say that most of the fans of this long-awaited sequel won't have been born when the original Tron was released in 1982. With the derivative story and direction, the whizzy effects are its only calling card.

After his computer-genius father Flynn (Bridges) disappeared, Sam (Hedlund) grew up not wanting anything to do with Dad's business. But when the company shifts priorities, he takes action. This sparks a message from Flynn's business partner (Boxleitner) that sends Sam investigating the old arcade game Tron.

Suddenly, Sam is zapped into his father's cyberworld, where he has to battle to stay alive. And when he finds his now-old dad, he teams up with the hot Quorra (Wilde) to defeat the evil leader Clu (a digital young Bridges) and get home.

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Traitor Review


Grim
Can a thriller really be a thriller without thrills? Better yet, can an international spy story really succeed by purposefully getting us to sympathize with the enemy? That's the double edged sword being wielded by Jeffrey Nachmanoff with his new film Traitor. Even the title offers yet another bit of bifurcation -- on the one hand we have a deeply religious man (Don Cheadle) working with terrorists to blow up Americans. On the other, we see how he uses his faith as a means of undermining the group's most violent objectives. Of course, this doesn't make the tale interesting or exciting. Sometimes, just being different doesn't save you from being dull.

Samir Horn (Cheadle) was 12 when his cleric father was killed by a car bomb. After years struggling with Islam, he becomes an explosives expert, working within a radical faction. When FBI agents Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) and Max Archer (Neal McDonough) storm their headquarters in Yemen, Samir and his cohorts are jailed. Soon, he is befriended by Omar (Said Taghmaoui) who recruits him to join his latest mission. Under the guidance of leaders Fareed (Aly Khan) and Nathir (Raad Rawi), Samir will construct 50 bombs, each one destined for a trip on a U.S. cross-country bus come Thanksgiving. As a man of conscience (and secrets), involvement in such a plot will test every fiber of his being -- and his loyalties.

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Leatherheads Review


Excellent
With his nonchalant sophistication and relaxed charm, George Clooney often gets compared to the icons of Hollywood's Golden Age, from Cary Grant to Clark Gable. But as Leatherheads demonstrates, the leading man really wants to be the next George Cukor.

A football comedy disguised as a love-triangle-laugher, Leatherheads is a snappy throwback fueled by the filmmaker's affection for a bygone era. Clooney's third directorial effort is his lightest film so far, which only means he isn't flogging the fear-mongering tactics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (Good Night and Good Luck) or dissecting the deranged brain of a game show host who believes he's a CIA operative (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind).

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The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause Review


Grim
Of the many things I dislike about the Santa Clause series, the one that bothers me the most, the very very most, is this: Now, whenever any of the critics on this site tries to write the name "Santa Claus" they almost invariably spell it "Santa Clause." That extra "e" is absolutely maddening, and it is everywhere I look, unintentionally.

Against all odds, the e-happy Santa Clause series is back with a third installment, which involves Santa (Tim Allen) facing off against the Napoleon-complexed Jack Frost (Martin Short), who's got his eyes on the prize of being the supremo wintertime icon. His idea is to take advantage of a rare "escape clause" which lets Santa step down willingly if he says a certain phrase, so Frost can sieze the big red suit. Naturally, trickery is involved. Apparently Jack Frost is a very bad boy. You can tell by the fright wig hairdo.

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The Santa Clause 2 Review


OK
Eight years ago, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) inadvertently caused the death of Santa Claus. Ever since, he's been wearing the bright red suit himself, delivering countless toys to millions of children all over the world on one special night a year. This Christmas, however, things aren't going as smoothly for Santa, because he hasn't yet fulfilled an important part of his contract...the part about a Mrs. Claus. Calvin must find a wife before Christmas Eve, because if he doesn't, his duties as the head Claus will vanish forever!

Apart from the North Pole, much has changed since the original Santa Clause. Calvin's son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), has become an embittered teenager who rebels against society by spraying graffiti on the walls of his school. Charlie's mother and stepfather (Wendy Crewson and Judge Reinhold), blame his misbehavior on Calvin's absence, but Principal Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell) doesn't care about the reasons behind the misbehavior, she just wants it to stop.

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If Only Review


Weak
You want a really freaky mashup? How about Twice in a Lifetime and Final Destination. Bang, you got If Only, a Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle that went -- zoom! -- straight to DVD.

10 Things I Hate About You director Gil Junger gives us Hewitt at her most typical: She's an American violin student in London on the eve of her big graduation concert. She's living with a British boyfriend (Paul Nicholls), and they seem to be on the downswing. Sure enough, that night he forgets about the concert, they have a big fight, and she ends up dead in a car accident. WTF? That's right, 30 minutes in and J. Love is dead.

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Ready to Rumble Review


Excellent
Wrestling - for all of its flash pots, Solid Gold dancers, and large, scantily clad, sweaty men - is the 21st century version of Ringing Bros., Barnum and Bailey's traveling tent show. When I was a kid, I used to watch the exploits of Andre the Giant, Macho Man Randy Savage, and the Honky Tonk Man. The newest generation of wrestlers have never interested me, with all of the theatrics and bad, bad attitudes toward almost everything under the sun. The "sport" of wrestling has become three hours of anger, deception, sexual dominance, and violent acts with chairs. The one thing that has always eluded me with the newest generation of wrestlers - Goldberg, Sting, Mankind, and The Rock - is the human element that drew me into the action so well as a kid. But Ready to Rumble helped remind me of the glory days I once had, sitting before the 13-inch RCA with the bottom knob broken off, watching my heroes triumph over the adversities of life's travels.

The film follow two losers, played by Scott Caan and David Arquette, who run a septic truck business for the local town of Lusk, Wyoming. Their idol is Jimmy King (Oliver Platt), grand champion belt holder of the WCW Federation, who proclaims "I WILL RULE YOU!" after every victory. Caan and Arquette attend a WCW bout and, in horror, watch their idol fall from grace by turncoat WCW wrestlers. Jimmy King is beaten to a bloody pulp and a fellow wrestler, Diamond Dallas Page, takes the belt from the fallen king. After the show, Caan and Arquette strike out to find their defeated hero and once again place the crown upon the rightful king of the ring.

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The Santa Clause Review


Good
Attempting to bring the Christmas movie into the 1990s, Disney enlisted drug offender and raunchy stand-up Tim Allen to play Santa Claus based on the strength of his TV show Home Improvement. Funny then that The Santa Clause would indeed become a minor classic of the genre considering its iffy pedigree.

Credit that to a clever script that has Santa falling from a roof on Christmas Eve (and presumably dying in the process -- be ready to explain that to the kids) and Allen's Scott taking up his job after donning the Santa suit. Scott then has a year to prepare to take over the job full time. This mainly works out to Scott's putting on a ton of weight and growing a Santa-style beard, all the while denying he is becoming Mr. Claus.

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The Thing About My Folks Review


Grim
The Thing About My Folks is a low-budget labor of love for star Paul Reiser, and both halves of that equation show: Its depiction of a late-in-life father-son relationship is prickly and heartfelt, and it looks terrible. Digital video probably enabled the film to be made at all, but cinematographers in this medium ought not to shoot, say, sunlight sparkling over a lake; it calls pixilated attention to the camera's limitations too readily. Folks is about a trip, but it feels strangely closed-off; it's one of those road movies where the characters seem to travel over the same 10-mile stretch for several days.

The reason for the long drive: Ben Kleinman (Reiser) is looking after his elderly father Sam (Peter Falk), who has just received a terse letter from his wife; she's fed up with him and he's leaving. Ben himself has read a second letter, far more generous with exposition (perhaps to a fault), which goes into greater detail about why this may have happened. Ben takes Sam on the road while his sisters and wife search for the errant Mrs. Kleinman; over the course of their misadventures, he tries to talk out some dysfunction with his father.

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Addicted To Love Review


Good
The idea of a "revenge comedy" naturally appeals to my dark side, and I've always been a Matthew Broderick fan -- so what could keep me from getting out to this little film? Not much. Not the fact that the first act feels like it was put together while the writer was under anesthetic. Not the fact that the film's editing is better described as butchery. Not the fact that Broderick as a hick astronomer is a bit far-fetched. Not the fact that Kelly Preston is an unbelievable bore to watch.

No, none of this could keep me from laughing at the hysterics of Broderick and Meg Ryan trying to win back and irrevocably destroy their respective lovers. While Addicted to Love has more gaping plot holes than you can shake a stick at, it's still awfully funny when it wants to be, largely carried on the shoulders of Broderick's natural charm and a cast of thousands (of roaches). And Meg Ryan ain't bad, either.

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Gossip Review


Grim
I have quickly found myself tiring of the peculiar tedium of the gritty twentysomething whodunit. While I'll fess up to having liked Cruel Intentions, recent films like Body Shots and The Skulls have left a sour taste in my mouth.

Gossip does not get rid of that taste.

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Mindhunters Review


Weak
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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The Santa Clause 2 Review


OK
Eight years ago, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) inadvertently caused the death of Santa Claus. Ever since, he's been wearing the bright red suit himself, delivering countless toys to millions of children all over the world on one special night a year. This Christmas, however, things aren't going as smoothly for Santa, because he hasn't yet fulfilled an important part of his contract...the part about a Mrs. Claus. Calvin must find a wife before Christmas Eve, because if he doesn't, his duties as the head Claus will vanish forever!

Apart from the North Pole, much has changed since the original Santa Clause. Calvin's son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), has become an embittered teenager who rebels against society by spraying graffiti on the walls of his school. Charlie's mother and stepfather (Wendy Crewson and Judge Reinhold), blame his misbehavior on Calvin's absence, but Principal Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell) doesn't care about the reasons behind the misbehavior, she just wants it to stop.

Continue reading: The Santa Clause 2 Review

Three to Tango Review


Grim
How will Three to Tango be remembered?

Maybe as another Matthew Perry star vehicle where he doesn't come off as particularly funny? Maybe as another Neve Campbell movie where she sounds whiny and unlikable? Or perhaps it will be as a borderline offensive straight-guy-mistaken-as-gay movie, heavy on the cliches and light on the laughs.

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