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March 2010
Brooding and Heartbreak Go Hand in Hand in Remember Me

For whatever reason, trouble and tragedy seem to follow Robert Pattinson's characters wherever they go. First as Edward Cullen, the vampire who sparkles in the sunlight in Twilight. And now, as Tyler Hawkins, a brooding young man straight out of J.D. Salinger's imagination.

 
No Need to Attend Our Family Wedding

Urban comedy-dramas (popularized by Tyler Perry) have become a niche staple of the spring and fall movie seasons. Our Family Wedding is another addition to this growing sub-genre, and it most certainly has to rank among the worst.

 
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.

 
Flimsy Finale, Depraved Behavior Doom Brooklyn's Finest

Brooklyn's Finest is tough going. Its solid performances (Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes) and hints of redemption make it better than many bad-cop dramas. But it spends too long wallowing in depraved behavior to qualify as recommended viewing.

February 2010
Cop Out Wears Its Juvenile Humor Like a Badge of Honor

In what's supposed to be a cheeky homage to '80s crime-fighting fare like Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon and of course, Die Hard, Cop Out is nothing more than a 107-minute string of bad jokes without the benefit of a punch line.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 26, 2010 |
  • comments
 
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.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 19, 2010 |
  • comments
 
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.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 16, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Mythology Gets a Fun, Modern Spin in Percy Jackson & the Olympians

At first blush, it's probably tempting to simply dismiss Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief as a poor man's Harry Potter. But the story, which is based on the first of author Rick Riordan's best-selling books for kids, definitely has its own action-adventure thing going on.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 12, 2010 |
  • comments
 
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.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 12, 2010 |
  • comments
 
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.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 05, 2010 |
  • comments
January 2010
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.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 29, 2010 |
  • comments
 
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.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 29, 2010 |
  • comments
 
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.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 22, 2010 |
  • comments
 
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.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 22, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Believers Enlist Hollywood Pros To Save a Life

If you're a serious evangelical filmmaker, there's one response you do not want to hear: "For a Christian movie, that was pretty good." Yet when it comes to the more impressive motion pictures produced by churches and ministries, this backhanded compliment remains the most ubiquitous—and often, the most deserved.

  • Jay Swartzendruber |
  • January 22, 2010 |
  • comments
 
World Ends, Word Goes on in "The Book of Eli"

The Book of Eli continues the string of apocalyptic tales. It has style, it has action, but it also has something that sets it apart from even the best mindless action films. It has a point: The Word of God can be used for both good or ill, but a world without the Word is a hopeless place.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 18, 2010 |
  • comments
 
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.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 15, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Heartbreak Overshadowed by Special Effects in The Lovely Bones

Those hoping for glimpses of Peter Jackson's stunning foray into dream-like drama with 1994's Heavenly Creatures will be sorely disappointed in The Lovely Bones. Not only does it lack the book's emotional gravitas, but the choice of garish, Cirque du Soleil visuals end up downplaying the story's real focus.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 15, 2010 |
  • comments
 
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.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 13, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Imagination Reaches Overload in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is so bursting with visual wonders and ideas about faith and belief that one viewing can't do it justice. With only time for one viewing, this reviewer absorbed enough, however, to understand that, despite some memorable moments, the film is a disjointed mess.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 11, 2010 |
  • comments
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