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June 2010
Chilly Winter's Bone Gives Glimpse into Desperate Lives

Depicting the lives of the rural poor facing dire circumstances, Winter's Bone is not a pretty picture. Yet it is an artful film with a harrowing ending that delivers a punch to the gut that, unlike the effect of mainstream summer movies, lingers long after the closing credits.

 
Imagination Soars to Infinity and Beyond in Toy Story 3

With the release of Toy Story 3 almost 11 years after its predecessor, the franchise continues to soar to infinity and beyond, thanks to heartfelt storytelling, great celebrity voice talent and imaginative action sequences featuring Woody, Buzz and the rest of everyone's favorite toys.

 
Jonah Hex Adaptation Sputters and Stalls

This film has all the ingredients of a strong summer movie—it features a rising star (Josh Brolin) in the title role and Transformers It-Girl Megan Fox. Add John Malkovich to give it some serious-actor cred, and the on-screen energy should be combustible. But Jonah Hex is far from it.

 
Mysterious Ondine Takes a Surprising Turn

Ondine, writer/director Neil Jordan's tale of personal healing and recovery, is more art house than mainstream crowd-pleaser, although the film eventually develops a bit of an identity crisis. What appeared to be a sure-footed, imaginative tale becomes something harder and more of a genre exercise.

 
Not Stimulating, The A-Team Still Gets a "B"

No, The A-Team is not a mentally stimulating movie, nor is it particularly creative, artistic, or complicated. Sure, the characters are one-dimensional, the story's been done, and the plot twists are predictable. But who cares? It's fun.

 
Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan Give Karate Kid a Little Kick

The screenwriters charged with rebooting The Karate Kid, starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, stick with a faithful, almost scene-by-scene remake of the 1984 film that made Ralph Macchio and the expression "wax on, wax off" household names.

 
Raunch Knows No Bounds in Get Him to the Greek

A little bawdy humor goes a long way, and Get Him to the Greek goes much further than the bounds of good taste allow. That's part of the movie's calculus, of course—it offers scenes designed to shock, and scenes that will lead to can-you-believe-that moments of laughter.

 
Unoriginal Splice Falls to Pieces

Although not a terrible sci-fi film, Splice is unoriginal, as well as inconsistent. Its weakest segment, oddly, is when the overtly sexual aspects of DREN become part of the main plot. Rather than being erotic, these scenes come across as just comical. The movie loses all intensity, realism, and drama.

 
Killers Lacks Any Instincts—Acting or Otherwise

Ashton Kutcher may be the second most popular person on Twitter, but Killers is truly a movie only his mother could love. Not only is the flick sorely lacking instincts of any kind, but the only chuckle in this nearly plot-free endeavor is a wisecrack about his character learning his mad gun skills in 4-H.

 
Marmaduke is a Barkin' Good Time for Kids Only

Filled with madcap action and a happy ending you'll see coming from a mile away (this ain't Old Yeller, after all), Marmaduke is a movie your kids will probably love, but you'll barely suffer through, thanks to a slew of corny jokes and lame pop culture references.

May 2010
Prince of Persia Falls Short of Better Popcorn Movies

Has the elements of a successful formula film, but it sells short its best assets in exchange for tedious special effects designed to please those who enjoyed the video game on which the film is based.

 
Sex and the City 2 Even More Embarrassing Than Its Predecessor

For a show that's always championed the cause of sisters doin' it for themselves, Sex and the City 2 manages to derail that mission (and anything resembling good taste along the way) in an excruciatingly long two hours and 26 minutes.

 
It's a Wonderful Life in the Final Shrek

Shrek Forever After is a fun riff on It's a Wonderful Life. The film moves along at a nice clip, without straining for the rapid-fire pop-culture jokes that make so many Dreamworks animated films insubstantial.

 
SNL-Based MacGruber is Predictably Vulgar

From the standpoint of secular humor, it must be admitted that some of MacGruber can bring an unbidden grin to the face, accompanied by a blush. But from a Judeo-Christian standpoint, much of it is just too over the top to be appreciated or enjoyed. It will most definitely be offensive to most conservative viewers.

 
Letters to Juliet Suffers from Serious Predictability Overload

Even with a breathtaking Italian backdrop, a nod to one of literature's favorite tragic love stories (Romeo and Juliet) and not one, but two, love stories packed into an hour and a half, Letters to Juliet is still only a notch above mediocre.

 
Believability Makes This Romance Just Wright

The biggest mistake someone could make after watching previews for Just Wright would be to decide that it's not for them. Or that it's tailored strictly for a minority audience. Many films with all African-American casts are, but this one is different. And better.

 
Action-Packed Robin Hood Runs Long

Despite its running time, it's hard to look away from the well-composed images and action spectacles, and from the compelling actors trying to make something interesting of characters that should have been better fleshed out.

 
Adorable Babies Offers Peek into Little Minds

With no narration, subtitles and little in the way of actual cultural subtext, Babies definitely isn't your ordinary documentary. In fact, French filmmaker Thomas Balmes is content to let the audience draw its own conclusions as he beautifully captures the first year of four very different babies' lives.

 
Iron Man 2 Suffices as a Serviceable Sequel

There are no real high points in Iron Man 2—no standout scenes that will have audiences talking as they leave the theater—but the overall product is sufficient to satisfy audiences in search of another dose of the Iron Man franchise. If it's not a sharper Iron, neither is it a duller one.

 
Please Give Offers Plenty to Think About

Anyone who has ever lived in a big city will have their heart touched and their funny bone tickled by this sober comedy, directed by Nicole Holofcener, who has become known not only for her thoughtful films, but also for her television directorial credits.

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