From the trailer and marketing, this one would appear to be your average haunted house movie. There’s about the trillionth example of where trailers are incredibly misleading. One of the only horror films in recent years that made me wonder if I would be able to sleep that night, and only of the only films ever I was willing to watch the next day. Though there are a few flaws here and there, it makes no difference when in the grand scheme of things, this is a chilling thrill ride. GRADE: A.
Does is really take any research to discover that Steven Spielberg produced this? No, not at all, I’d say. This is a blast from the past that reminds us of E.T. and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, two alien films from his earlier directorial roots. Even better, it’s directed by J. J. Abrams, the producer of recent disaster film CLOVERFIELD and the director of the even more recent STAR TREK. His science fiction embellishment is mind-blowing and terrific, as is are the performances from a cast mainly of younger teenagers, few of which have recognizable names. GRADE: A.
Kung Fu Panda 2
Let’s just say I went into the theater skeptical of this film. I’ve seen the first installment in this series by now, but back when I saw this in June, I hadn’t. I thought it looked stupid and childish. Childish, maybe, but not stupid. Rarely does an animated film bring my inner child out so much and make it laugh so vygourously. And there’s also the main thing that any animated film needs to succeed: good animation–except the animation here is phenomenal. GRADE: A-.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
I’m still not understanding why this film got so much hate. The book, though I vaguely remember it, was a childhood favorite of mine, and I was quite excited to see the film adaptation. Okay, maybe it was quite fond of penguin excrement, and it obviously didn’t follow the book well (the book was published over seventy years ago, yet we have cell phones here), but it was better than I expected Jim Carrey to be nowadays, especially in a family movie. GRADE: A-.
A voice cast of names that have become familiar in the past five years or so…okay. When you have will.i.am and Jamie Foxx in a film like this (or a film at all), you should be glad it’s animated and they can’t have full-fledged acting roles. The premise (a rare bird who doesn’t know how to fly) is what makes this an intriguing movie, or at least I thought so. Otherwise, it’s just plain cute, with amateur animation that strives to be something of the Pixar variety. I give it points, also, for attaining a G rating, since that’s nearly impossible because of how tyrannical the MPAA has become with family movies. GRADE: B.
Based on her own memoir, this is the biopic of Bethany Hamilton, a surfer girl who was attacked by a shark at age thirteen, forced to live the rest of her life with a single arm. It’s a nice, sweet movie that is often suitable for the whole family (except when it makes a show of imitating JAWS), but often gets too noticeable with fluff. A nice cast, as well. GRADE: B.
Just Go with It
Surprisingly watchable and entertaining romantic comedy from the recent Adam Sandler. Very, very funny, but often plagued by being unrealistic and mindlessly crude. A disappointing performance from Aniston, as well. GRADE: B-.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
Better than the first movie, and nicely entertaining, but for the entire first thirty minutes, I kept thinking, “Why did I decide to watch this?” GRADE: B-.
A teacher…does unfathomably bad things. Maybe it’s believable when she does all this stuff on her own time, but when she does all of it in front of her students (drinking, swearing, and beyond), it’s impossible to believe. So unbelievable that it sets the humor back a few ten steps. GRADE: C-.