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Shorts Packs Several Tall Tales into One

While its charms may be fewer for anyone over the age of 10, Shorts is an eccentric, time-jumping adventure that merges comedy, sci-fi and a short treatise on the dangers of too much technology into one mostly family-friendly movie.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 24, 2009 |
  • comments
Star Trek Goes Back to the Future

A favorite sci-fi franchise is reborn with Star Trek, director J.J. Abrams' take on the early days of James T. Kirk, Spock and the other well-known crew members aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. The film’s fresh approach to the well-worn franchise takes viewers back to the origins of the crew's beloved characters.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 17, 2009 |
  • comments
My Sister's Keeper Explores Life, Death and Moral Dilemma

Filmmakers decided Jodi Picoult’s novel, My Sister’s Keeper, had big-screen potential. They also agreed that the original ending was a little too much. So in a move that’s been widely debated online, the story’s conclusion has been softened a little.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 17, 2009 |
  • comments
Bruno Goes Where No Comedy Has Gone Before

As with all comedies built on outrageous gags, Brüno goes too far. There are a few laughs along the way, but a larger cost to be paid. One can only imagine what further images will comprise future “outrageous” comedies now that Brüno has lowered the bar.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 17, 2009 |
  • comments
Pixar's Up Soars with Emotional Depth

Much like the trailer for Marley & Me, which was all doggie cuteness without any indication of the sadness waiting in the wings, there’s so much more to Up than balloons and barbs traded between an over-eager boy scout and a grumpy old man.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 10, 2009 |
  • comments
Crass Over Class Prevails in a Charmless Ugly Truth

What prevents The Ugly Truth from contributing anything worthwhile to the rom-com genre is its sheer absurdity. Not only does the dialogue—and attempts at humor—scrape the bottom of the barrel morally, but there aren’t even 10 seconds of this forgettable movie that are believable.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 10, 2009 |
  • comments
G.I. Joe Rolls Snake Eyes

G.I. Joe's reported $175 million budget can be seen up on the screen, as some of the film's special effects are effectively eye-catching. But viewers are left with a story that feels half-formed at best. Apparently not much of that $175 million went to the screenwriters.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 03, 2009 |
  • comments
Aliens in the Attic Lacks Anything Resembling Imagination

This movie's banal title pretty much tells you everything you need to know. There are aliens in the attic, and there's no compelling reason for the audience to care. Surely Hollywood can offer far more substantive and entertaining kiddie fare, can't it?

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 03, 2009 |
  • comments
Sub-Par Sub Car Drama in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The Taking of Pelham 123, a remake of a 1974 film that starred Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, has two solid lead performances from Denzel Washington and John Travolta but suffers from certain excesses common to modern-day action films.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 03, 2009 |
  • comments
Food, Inc. Gives New Meaning to Watching What We Eat

Many squeamish moments aside, Food, Inc. is still a great example of informative, compelling filmmaking, aside from those occasional diversions into boring pie chart territory à la An Inconvenient Truth.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 03, 2009 |
  • comments
There's Little to Love About Beth Cooper

Unlike '80s movies where the viewer got a real sense of who the geeky guy and his popular-girl crush were and what endeared the unlikely duo to each other, I Love You, Beth Cooper never bothers with those important details.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 01, 2009 |
  • comments
Creativity of Ice Age Series Close to Extinction

While the filmmaker’s efforts weren’t a total bust, thanks to colorful animation, some cool CGI effects and a decent accompanying soundtrack, it’s simply not enough to elevate Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs from mediocrity.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 27, 2009 |
  • comments
Faithful Christian Witness Not Part of Whatever Works

Whatever Works sums up the philosophy of the film’s main character and of director Woody Allen himself. The filmmaker has lived out a no-judgments view of human nature that is reflected in his film scripts and characters.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 27, 2009 |
  • comments
Transformers Sequel Lacks Any Real Human Connection

Just in case you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to watch someone else play videogames for two and a half hours, sitting through Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will definitely satiate your curiosity.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 20, 2009 |
  • comments
Land of the Lost Should've Stayed Lost

Unlike the smart writing and savvy direction of Star Trek, Land of the Lost only has Will Ferrell's over-the-top attempts to deliver the funny. And when some of the movie’s biggest laughs involve Matt Lauer, you know you're in trouble. Deep trouble.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 20, 2009 |
  • comments
People Are Shallow, Observations Are Deep in Cheri

Chéri is a period-piece about shallow, immoral and deceptive people, yet its ultimate observations are deep, its resolution moral, and its strength is in how deceptively it reaches those conclusions.

Sandra Bullock Should've Rejected This Proposal

While it's been said there aren't nearly enough good parts for women over 40, surely, there's much better material out there than The Proposal. And if not, then maybe all actors should take a hiatus from romantic comedies until Nancy Meyers or Nora Ephron get around to writing something new.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 13, 2009 |
  • comments
Imagine That ... Murphy Makes an Enjoyable Family Film

Eddie Murphy’s previous efforts in family films have left a lot to be desired: stories really worth telling and a heartbeat beyond those gimmicky attempted laughs. Fortunately for Murphy, Imagine That has both in spades.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 06, 2009 |
  • comments
Year One Mashes Up Creation, Covenant and Cain and Abel

Year One is not the story of Adam and Eve but of Zed and Oh (Jack Black and Michael Cera, respectively), a primordial tale of male friendship with the requisite fart jokes and sexual boasting that characterizes modern tales in the same genre.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 06, 2009 |
  • comments
Slapstick and Stereotypes Leave My Life in Ruins Flat

In My Life in Ruins, characters are the most broad versions of themselves—well suited for a short sketch but insultingly flat for a feature-length film. It's comedy-as-cliché, sticking solely to slapstick and stereotypes and lacking any hint of dimension.

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