David Riedel

Supervillains have more fun, and so does the audience, in the giddy sequel Despicable Me 2.

Film review: Despicable Me 2

How does a reformed supervillain, Gru (Steve Carell), have anything to do in a sequel in which he’s not made the villain? Simple: He’s recruited by an international crime-fighting organization led by Silas Ramsbottom (ha, yeah; he’s played by Steve Coogan and resembles an obese James Fox) and partnered with Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) to […]

Johnny Depp (left) pumps up the irony as Tonto to Armie Hammer’s Lone Ranger.

Film review: Despite itself, The Lone Ranger delivers

In case you missed it, lots of people are angry over Johnny Depp’s decision to play Tonto in the manner he plays Tonto in The Lone Ranger. There’s further anger over the decision to have a white man play Tonto. And the dead bird on his head. Et cetera. Sorry, peeps: The redface is a […]

Left to right: Mireille Enos is Karin Lane and Brad Pitt is Gerry Lane in WORLD WAR Z, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films.

Film review: World War Z

Brad Pitt’s attack on zombies fails to capture the trend It’s not that World War Z is bad. Any movie with star Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster—whose resume swings from Stranger Than Fiction to Machine Gun Preacher-—can’t be bad. It can, however, be pretty mediocre. Fans of Max Brooks’ novel World War Z would […]

Brad Pitt tries to save his family from being chowed on by zombies in "World War Z," all while having amazing hair. Photo credit: Jaap Buitendijk, (c) 2013 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

A movie’s source material doesn’t matter

It’s the perfect time of year to discuss a longstanding moviegoers’ gripe: “The book was better.” Or “they changed the ending.” Or World War Z is an in-name adaptation only. (To be fair, that last statement, sort of uttered by World War Z novelist Max Brooks, isn’t a gripe. It’s the book’s fans who are […]

Henry Cavill does the tights and cape to portray Superman in the superhero reboot, "Man of Steel", produced by Christopher Nolan. Warner Bros.

Film review: Man of Steel

After seeing Man of Steel, the Christopher Nolan-iphied Superman update, it’s become clear: Nolan is limited. He needs real-world characters who can supply real-world solutions, even if those real-world characters are fighting The Joker or swimming in someone else’s dreams. Starting off on an alien planet? It’s just too otherworldly for him to make worldly. An alien infant crash-landing on Earth needs a […]

Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, James Franco and Craig Robinson face fear in Seth Rogan’s Hollywood house party meets apocalypse comedy This is the End. SONY PICTURES.

Film review: This is the End

This is the End is so devoid of good ideas, smarts or laughs that it’s hard to understand just what its purpose is. I can only conclude it’s to get the six leads together who appear on the poster—James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson—and let them riff. And, boy, […]

The Smiths rely on their father-son bond to survive a post-global warming planet and pull off the sci-fi summer flick, After Earth. SONY PICTURES.

Film review: After Earth

Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan made a movie together. See, they’re both into patterns. After all, in a recent interview in New York Magazine, Smith said, “I’m a student of patterns.” Shyamalan made a movie, Signs, about crop circles (which, really, are patterns). And finally, they’re both in a holding pattern of making shit movies, so it should be no surprise they combined their talents for After Earth.

Tyrese Gibson (above) is flying high in the sixth installment of the quippy, car crash thriller franchise Fast & Furious 6. Universal Pictures.

Film Review: Fast & Furious 6 is big, dumb summertime fun

Wow. Where does one begin? The insipid dialogue? Paul Walker’s non-presence? A plot that makes almost no sense? Stunts that defy the laws of physics? Nah. Let’s start here: I can’t believe how much fun I had watching Fast & Furious 6. Don’t get me wrong. It’s so absurd and stupid that it doesn’t really […]

Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) lead the Enterprise crew in an epic battle for the soul of the fleet. Photo Paramount Pictures.

Film Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

A great trick director J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman pulled with Star Trek (2009) was to shake the Etch-a-Sketch and start over. After all, how does one deal with the monster that is the Star Trek universe? One doesn’t. Abrams destroyed, on screen, nearly everything that came before him. It’s disheartening […]

Leonardo DiCaprio plays the dashing and mysterious millionaire in the glitzy Hollywood version of The Great Gatsby. Warner Bros.

Film Review: Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby forgoes substance for spectacle

Now that The Great Gatsby is out, there’s just one relevant question: To whom is this film targeted? It can’t be people who read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel when it was first released. They’re dead. Is it for recent high school graduates? The millennials, who are plugged into everything all the time and don’t seem to have the attention span for Fitzgerald? Or is it for hip-hop lovers?

Find air-conditioned relief from the heat and enjoy this summer’s lineup of chick-flicks, family comedies, and action-packed, save the world blockbusters. World War Z publicity Photo.

Film Review: Summer movies go to blows

Hollywood is content to blow shit up in the months before May and after August in a way it never used to be, but the dog days are still the time* to find the most literal bang for your dinero. Here’s what the studios are pushing, and what we think.   The Great Gatsby Does […]

Tom Cruise puts on a brave face and a decent performance as one of the last two humans on earth in Oblivion. Publicity photo.

Film review: Oblivion

It may seem strange to suggest that a movie about the survival of the human race doesn’t have high stakes, but Oblivion, a movie about the survival of the human race, doesn’t feel as if it has high stakes. What Oblivion does have is a unified vision, excellent production design, camera work and computer graphics, […]

Chadwick Boseman (center) plays Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play Major League Baseball, in the hero biopic 42.

Film review: 42

Thankfully, 42 isn’t sanctimonious and Jackie isn’t sage-like. From the movie’s perspective, he’s just a boring guy who wants to play baseball. Jackie also knows that he has to be the coolest head on the field; Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) tells him as much.

The Evil Dead—modern horror from the ’80s—gets a bloody update, a backstory, and retains a sense of humor.

Film Review: Evil Dead

Gory resurrection If you see only one bodily dismemberment movie this year, see Evil Dead. If you see only one demon resurrection movie this year, see Evil Dead. Whew! Those opening sentences are a stretch, kind of like Evil Dead itself. It’s two-thirds of a great horror movie. Even though it loses steam during the […]

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in "Moneyball," a baseball movie without much baseball. Photo courtesy Sony Pictures.

Play ball! (On screen, that is!)

It’s spring, and you know what that means: A young man’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of love. Tennyson doesn’t appear to have thought of the old men or women at all, so let’s assume they’re all thinking about baseball, or as I call it at home, love. Normally I wouldn’t put together a post […]

Jake Abel and Saoirse Ronan choose love over alien invasion in the big screen version of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host. Image: Open Road Films

Film review: The Host

Forget that this story recalls not only Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but also Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters and John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There?—better known to most people as Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World or John Carpenter’s The Thing. Because, really, this story is about liking boys. And Jesus, sort of.

Steve Carell turns a few magic tricks as an aging Vegas performer in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Image: Warner Bros.

Film review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Magically funny: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone exceeds low expectations The advertisements for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone make it seem like it will be the least funny, most egregious, and patience-trying movie of Steve Carell’s career. A movie comedy about Las Vegas performers and street magicians? News flash: The David Blaine jokes stopped being funny the moment […]

James Franco stars as the savior of a pre-Dorothy, Wicked Witch-ruled land in Oz the Great and Powerful.

Film review: Oz the Great and Powerful

Behind the curtain: Oz the Great and Powerful is a playful take on the wizard’s rise In this day and age, when everything in life—movies, television, sporting events, you name it—seems rooted in money, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz feels like, perhaps, the most cynical of moneymaking schemes. Is there a more surefire […]

Jack played by Nicholas Hoult seek adventure in the 3D fantasy feature Jack and the Giant Killer. Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment

Film review: Jack the Giant Slayer

There’s a story about “Jack and the Beanstalk” in which Jack trades a cow for some magic beans. He gets the beans wet, they grow into a beanstalk that reaches into the sky, and Jack and a rabbit battle a giant with a speech impediment who wants to grind their bones to make bread.

Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva give moving performances in the critically-praised Amour.

Film Review: Amour

A loving married couple, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges, (Jean-Louis Trintignant), both retired music teachers in their 80s, find their marriage taking a markedly different turn when Anne suffers a stroke. At first, Anne is able to retain something of her former self. She’s confined to a wheelchair, but has control of one side of her body.

Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston in "Argo," which somehow won Best Picture at the 2013 Academy Awards instead of "Amour," which got the consolation "Best Foreign Film" prize. Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

Worst. Oscars. Ever.

Each year we think the Oscars can’t possibly be worse than the year before. And then each year, it’s so much worse than the year before (except last year; nothing will ever out-worse Billy Crystal and his non-eyebrows). Straight up: I will pay for the next Academy Awards ceremony if they bring back Franco and […]

Nicholas Hoult plays a zombie in conflict with his urge to binge on brains and the stirring in his dead heart.

Film Review: Warm Bodies

What Warm Bodies has that most other zombie flicks don’t is the zombie’s story. Our narrator, R (Nicholas Hoult), is a zombie. He doesn’t know why he’s a zombie. He just knows he is. He also knows he’s different from most other zombies. He collects things, like vinyl records. He tries to make friends, and has one in M (Rob Corddry).

Rodriguez from "Searching for Sugar Man," photo by Hal Wilson, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Film review: Music documentaries to get lost in

Non-sequitur alert: Now that the wretched Super Bowl is over, let’s discuss music documentaries. There are two reasons I’m thinking about music documentaries. First, 2012 was a great year for them. Searching for Sugar Man—which is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature—gets my vote for the best nonfiction narrative film of last […]

Jeremy Renner finds himself in a fairy tale nightmare and loaded for bear on a hunt for witches and dignity.

Film review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Is this movie a comedy? Horror? A—gasp!—drama? Why does Jeremy Renner play Hansel for laughs? Why does Gemma Arterton play Gretel straight, but occasionally for laughs? Why is Famke Janssen so, so, so serious? For that matter, why is she covered in hideous make-up for the most of the movie when she has such an exquisite face?