David Riedel

Ben Stiller directs, stars in, and dilutes the most recent adaptation of James Thurber’s short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Film review: Ben Stiller’s Walter Mitty is a meandering mess

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is terrible. Just terrible. It’s wrongheaded, silly, and worse, confused. The story—about Walter (Ben Stiller), who works as a negative asset manager at Life magazine—is pretty straightforward. Walter doesn’t have much of a life, so he fantasizes. But then something happens to a 35mm film negative that’s going to […]

Hollywood’s leading funny men return to take on the 24-hour news cycle and the ’80s in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

Film review: Anchorman 2

Good news. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is not as bad as the following comedy sequels: Caddyshack II. Analyze That. Teen Wolf Too. Dumb and Dumberer. Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. Fletch Lives. The Hangover Part II. In fact, Anchorman 2 is not bad. The sheer volume of jokes guarantees some will […]

Director David O. Russell reunites with Bradley Cooper (left) and Christian Bale for the ’70s con artist flick, American Hustle.

Film review: Despite an A-list cast, American Hustle stumbles

American Hustle is, in some circles, being touted as a masterpiece. It’s easy to see why. Good cast (Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner). Respected director (David O. Russell, who had a major hit with Cooper and Lawrence and Silver Linings Playbook). And crime in the 1970s: Wide ties! Bad hair! Good music! […]

From left, Michael Fassbender as Epps, Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in "12 Years a Slave." Photo by Francois Duhamel.

The best movies of 2013! Yowza!

Each year when I put together a list of the best movies—whether for work or for fun—it usually doesn’t take much effort. There are, generally, five or six movies that stand out above the rest, whether they’re huge Hollywood blockbusters or tiny indie gems. This year the story is a little different. When going back […]

Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) directs Christian Bale (above) as he treads through economic and familial struggles in Out of the Furnace.

Film review: A hard luck story goes bust in Out of the Furnace

Out of the Furnace is so dark, gritty, and earnest, it’s a wonder it was made in a film world where irony rules. The movie’s inhabitants—mostly blue collar factory workers, cops and their families in dying Braddock, Pennsylvania—take their lives seriously, and so does their director and co-writer Scott Cooper. Unfortunately, Out of the Furnace […]

Film reviews: The rundown on holiday films worth your dough

Film reviews: The rundown on holiday films worth your dough

It’s December, and that means the awards-fodder movies are out. And guess what. Some of them are good! Here’s a list of five movies that range from near-great to head-scratching (but worth seeing) to one guilty pleasure. The Book Thief If Life is Beautiful is absolutely the wrong way to make a non-military World War […]

Jennifer Lawrence returns to the arena for another go at the Hunger Games in the nail biting sequel Catching Fire. Image: Lionsgate

Film review: The Hunger Games Catching Fire

A quick rack of the brain and I come to this conclusion: I cannot remember a major, big budget action film that is at once so emotionally draining, deeply dramatic, and incredibly bleak. Thought the death of Rue was difficult in The Hunger Games? Just wait to see what happens when Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta […]

Chris Helmsworth stars as a savior without substance in Thor: The Dark World, the latest installment of a Marvel Comics character on the silver screen.

Film review: Thor: The Dark World lacks the superhero glow

Mere mortals, just who is Thor? Norse god? Superhero created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby? Bastard stepchild of the Marvel Avengers series? At this point, it’s not clear that anyone knows, least of all the filmmakers behind Thor: The Dark World. Is Thor a funny guy? Fear not, he’ll be beating someone […]

Robert Redford gives a triumphant performance as a man adrift on the ocean, fighting for survival (and an Oscar) in All is Lost.

Film review: Robert Redford reclaims his acting cred on the open sea

Robert Redford has long been one of our greatest movie stars. He’s never been one of our greatest actors. For every compelling performance he gives—Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969); All the President’s Men (1976)—he gives several bordering on narcolepsy. Just look at him in The Company You Keep (2013); this is a man […]

Ron Howard recaptures his movie making mojo with the racing rivalry flick, Rush, starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl.

Film review: Ron Howard’s Rush is a high-speed joy ride

It’s that time of year between the end of summer and the beginning of the Oscar races when, traditionally, the genuine crap starts hitting the multiplexes. (You’ll also find crap from January to March, and, depending on your point of view, all year.) Rush, Ron Howard’s latest, is not crap. It isn’t Oscar-worthy, either, but […]

Hugh Jackman overdoes it and Paul Dano refines his creepy persona in "Prisoners," which is actually pretty good. Photo Credit: Wilson Webb

Thank your favorite deity: Summer movies are over

Let’s not mince words. It was a lackluster summer, movie-wise. For every decent surprise (Fast & Furious 6, which was better than it had any right to be; The Spectacular Now, which is a bittersweet rumination on growing up), there was a major letdown. Take Elysium. The Matt Damon-starring, Jodie Foster-supporting progressive sci-fi bloodfest should […]

Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro are married and in the mob in Luc Besson’s The Family.

The Family pulls a few punches to get laughs

When I think of Luc Besson or watch one of his movies, the thing I feel most is ambivalence. It’s refreshing to watch a guy use real violence in movies that are supposed to be comedies—violence isn’t all that funny, even when it’s played for laughs. A great example of horrific violence used for comedic […]

Hollywood heavyweights Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez never quite gain enough speed in the plotless action flick Getaway. Image: Warner Bros.

Film review: Getaway

“Tremendously shitty.” That’s the best phrase to describe the new Ethan Hawke-Selena Gomez (!) driving thriller Getaway, a movie in which characters can break the Internet in fewer than five seconds and a car can be armored to prevent total destruction, but the guy who armored it forgets long enough to send someone to shoot it up who didn’t bring armor piercing bullets.

Robots infiltrate a small English town in order to stop old friends from completing a reunion pub crawl in The World’s End.

Film review: The World’s End

Sorry, peeps. The World’s End just isn’t as good as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, the other features in the Simon Pegg-Nick Frost-Edgar Wright canon. Luckily, The World’s End is still a lot of fun, and Pegg and Frost prove once again to be captivating screen presences and fully committed, especially when dealing […]

Jennifer Aniston (above) and Jason Sudeikis star in the mad, mad Mary Jane farce, We’re the Millers.

Film Review: We’re the Millers

We’re the Millers has the kind of story that can be hammered out in about 15 minutes, if its writers follow the “Save the Cat” formula. (Read this outline before you see it and you’ll actually see the story beats play out when you watch the movie.) The central plot—a pot dealer recruits three people […]

Held hostage by his own immortality, The Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman), mutates his way through a thrilling superhero flick. Photo credit Ben Rothstein.

Film review: The Wolverine is a comic book blast

Now that we’re six films into the X-Men series, it’s about time we got one that can stand on its own. It’s not that viewers should skip all the other X-Men films—but seriously, skip Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand, the truly wretched X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Bryan Singer’s original X-Men—but Hugh Jackman is captivating […]

Kristin Wiig (left) and Annette Bening co-star in the you-can’t-go-home-again comedy Girl Most Likely. Photo provided by Lionsgate.

Film review: Girl Most Likely fumbles through a series of bad choices

Give Kristen Wiig credit: She’s clearly not interested in repeating the Bridesmaids formula. And though Girl Most Likely has, at least on the surface, some plot threads in common with Wiig’s breakthrough movie—she’s a loser who moves home with her mother (Annette Bening)—it’s a decidedly more somber picture. That’s not to say Girl Most Likely […]

Spoiler alert: Katniss Everdeen is still a terrible name. From left: Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Photo credit: Murray Close

Spoiler alert: No more spoiler alerts

There’s an episode of “Magnum P.I.” in which Magnum (Tom Selleck), who played for Navy’s football team during his time at the academy, can’t watch that season’s Army-Navy game live on television. There’s a case or someone gets shot or something—you know how it goes with Magnum. This is all from distant memory, but Magnum […]

A new breed of bad guy, the kaiju, emerges from a breach in the ocean’s floor to destroy earth in the summer thriller Pacific Rim.

Film review: Pacific Rim knows no monster fight boundaries

Many years ago, when summer action blockbusters were a new-ish thing, my mother would say at their conclusion, “That movie was so loud.” It wasn’t really a complaint. It was an observation that, at 10 years-old, I found spurious. Maybe they were loud, maybe they weren’t. I was probably more interested in disagreeing with her. […]