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Lack of Surprises Withstanding, When in Rome Still Plays Cute

While the movie's trailer definitely had that lackluster, made-for-TV feel, perhaps it's the presence of fresh faces Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel, not to mention their winsome chemistry, that caused When in Rome to surpass my expectations.

Michael Cera Shines in Twisted Youth in Revolt

Michael Cera is a star. If you didn’t know it after his role on Arrested Development, or his turns in Juno and Superbad, or after he shared top billing with Jack Black in Year One, you’ll know it after Youth in Revolt.

Shivers Galore on Shutter Island

Dreamlike and full of haunting imagery and music, Shutter Island is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane and is a spectacular downer with several moments of great emotional anguish. But it ends on such a grim note that it's hard to imagine anyone enjoying the film.

Tim Burton's Wild Imagination Put to Good Use in Alice in Wonderland

Given that Tim Burton has been the guy responsible for everything from the lovable Edward Scissorhands to the grisly Sweeney Todd, it's not surprising that Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland would be a perfect vehicle for his unconventional filmmaking.

Uninspired Wolfman is a Howler

With so much going for it, The Wolfman should offer a moody atmosphere, a few good scares and actors who set the right tone for the material. But it turns out the new film is merely "inspired by" the earlier Wolfman—but doesn't exhibit much inspiration at all.

Even as a Sappy Romance, Dear John Doesn't Deliver

If you've read any of Nicholas Sparks' tear-jerking novels or watched the equally swoony big-screen renditions of The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe or Message in a Bottle, you've already got a pretty good idea of what to expect with Dear John.

Apocalyptic Road Winds to a Hopeful Place

The movie version of Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a story of a father and son trying to survive after an apocalyptic event. Although God is discussed, he is never embraced, yet The Road shows the importance of the power of hope to overcome bitterness and cynicism.

Chan's Charms Wear Thin in Humorless Spy Next Door

Ever seen Kindergarten Cop? How about The Pacifier, Daddy Day Care or Are We There Yet? Basically, if you answer yes to any of these, well, then you can safely skip The Spy Next Door, as it's essentially the same pseudo family-friendly movie, only far, far less entertaining.

Star-Studded Valentine's Day is Mostly Forgettable Fluff

Appropriately enough, watching Valentine's Day immediately brought those ubiquitous heart-shaped boxes of chocolates to mind—you know the ones where you're never quite sure what's inside until you take a bite.

Real-Life Heroics on Display in Extraordinary Measures

Extraordinary Measures won't take you to places you've never been, but sometimes it's enough to see a feel-good movie about real-life heroics. An affecting lead performance from Brendan Fraser and the inclusion of faith elements put a little air under the story's wings as well.

The Messenger Delivers Outstanding Performances

If I had a vote, The Messenger would be one of the 10 Oscar Award nominees for "Best Picture," and Ben Foster, Samantha Morton and Woody Harrelson would all receive acting nominations. It should not be missed and is that good. Seek it out.

Invictus Invokes No Passion

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Invictus is the story of South Africa's political transformation in the late twentieth century and the role its rugby team played in bridging the racial divide. How could it go wrong? By not generating the requisite momentum for a triumphant story about cultural and ethnic identity.

Gibson Doesn't Excite in Dull Edge of Darkness

Did you enjoy Mel Gibson in Payback or Ransom? He's on that level in Edge of Darkness. It's a decent comeback, if those movies are your idea of a good time. But it's truncated rather than taut, sluggish rather than satisfying, and dull rather than edgy.

Daybreakers Shows Vampire Genre Still Has a Heartbeat

Daybreakers takes the vampire genre in some new directions, but it can't memorably resolve its story. With strong atmosphere and respectable performances, it jolts viewers with a few shocking moments. But the filmmakers' attempts to cater to the basest impulses of today's horror-movie audiences ultimately work against the movie.

Legion Leaves Biblical Truth Behind

Legion has elements of the first coming of Christ and an apocalypse suggesting the second coming, dressed up in all sorts of religious terminology that might make viewers who don't know any better believe they're watching a Bible-based film. But Legion is nothing of the sort. It's a mess—and it can't be saved.

Tooth Fairy Doesn't Offer Much to Smile About

If you think the sight of The Rock in a pink tutu and oversized sparkly wings is funny, well, Tooth Fairy is the movie for you. After all, the screenwriters get a lot of mileage out of seeing the former wrestler play a has-been hockey star forced to reveal his softer, fairy side.

Leap Year Has Some Classic Movie Charm

In what's basically a remake of Frank Capra's It Happened One Night set in the always-photogenic Irish countryside, Amy Adams and Matthew Goode do manage some winsome chemistry a la Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in Leap Year.

Preacher's Kid Doesn't Sing

It's not that the message of Preacher's Kid (directed by Stan Foster) is bad. Its message good. But the movie's execution of this truth is where it fails miserably. The script is poor. The acting is amateurish. And the music uninspiring.

Stars May Shine, But Nine Still Suffers from Sensory Overload

Even with five Oscar-winning actresses delivering fantastic performances without really having that much to work with, the screen adaptation of Broadway musical Nine may have the star wattage but ultimately does little in the way of actually illuminating the audience.

Meryl Streep Shines Once Again in It's Complicated

Between serving up a pitch-perfect portrayal of Julia Child in this summer's Julie & Julia, voicing George Clooney's wife in Fantastic Mr. Fox and proving that 50 is apparently the new 30 in the saucy rom-com It's Complicated, it's been another dazzling year in cinema for the Oscar winner.

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Example: "Gen 1:1" "John 3" "Moses" "trust"
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