Reviews Category

To be honest, for about the first 20 minutes of “Draft Day,” the insider lingo can be a bit tough to follow, at least for this writer who’s only watched maybe half a dozen Super Bowl games, ever. The film jumps right in with teams trading First Round Picks like it’s the most casual thing in the world – and to anyone who actually follows football and what happens every year in April, it probably is. Thankfully, this fictionalized account of the day eventually allows even the most casual observersRead More
Shailene Woodley in "Divergent"
Here’s the problem with “Divergent.” The book just wasn’t that great. It was popular, sure, but Veronica Roth built her dystopian world on a convoluted caste system that doesn’t make any sense, setting her characters on a course of action that inevitably makes little sense either. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), our protagonist, is left to rebel against a society that could never have existed in the first place, and her struggle, meant to be strong and heroic, feels more like common sense. Instead of marveling at her intuition, you’re leftRead More
Oscar Isaac and Elizabeth Olsen basically always deliver great performances on screen, and the two combined is really something to behold, even if the 17th Century setting of “In Secret” feels a bit stifled and claustrophobic. Isaac and Olsen command the screen with compelling performances and organic chemistry and are helped by solid direction from Charlie Stratton, who set them against a heavy, dreary backdrop apropos of the dark story he’s retelling. A tale of restrained passion, murder and resentment in Victorian France is no easy to sit through popcornRead More
Zac Efron has been trying to leave that squeaky clean “High School Musical” image for years now, and while it’s easy to see why he thought something like “That Awkward Moment” would do the trick, it’s unfortunate that this particular movie misses the mark completely. Sure, it’s sexist in an oblivious way, but Tom Gormican’s directorial debut’s worst offense may be that it’s just not very funny or entertaining. It’s a “High School Musical” level rom com masked behind gratuitous sex and profanity, and wastes the talents of its trioRead More
The shaky cams are gone and the glorious costumes are back in Frances Lawrence’s adaptation of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, as we see a Panem that has been changed by the events of “The Hunger Games” – and a film which has also been changed by its director. Lawrence, perhaps best known for sappy romantic drama “Water for Elephants,” has delivered in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” a darker, more mature film, for just as its protagonist Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) must grow as she faces upheaval so tooRead More
In 2009’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” Spike Jonze managed to make larger-than-life children’s book puppets come to life as a real family with all its ups and downs and genuine pathos, so it’s not surprising that he’s able to take a somewhat gimmicky premise of a human falling in love with his computer and make it just as riveting and real. “Her” may only show us one half of a burgeoning relationship while never letting us forget that the other half is a computer, but it still showcases oneRead More
There are untold stories about famous figures that deserve to have more light shed on it, and then there are movies like “The Invisible Woman,” which screened last night at the AFI Film Festival. This dull and unnecessary take on the private love life of Charles Dickens, who was apparently a pretty big creep, will be a turn off to fans of his novels and won’t do much to hook people who aren’t familiar with his work. Ralph Fiennes directed and stars in the film as the British novelist, andRead More
There are so many ways an adaptation of “Ender’s Game” could have gone wrong. The book is beloved and genre fans are notoriously hard to please. Entrusting the fate of a big budget blockbuster to child actors is always a gamble. Space-set sci-fi movies can end up looking generic and indistinguishable from others. Etc. Etc. So it’s a pleasant surprise to be able to say that Gavin Hood exceeded expectations on his adaptation of the Orson Scott Card sci-fi classic, a cool, fun and original-looking film that doesn’t delve tooRead More
The prospect of a three-hour film is quite daunting before you step foot into the theater, and it would take a tremendous one in order to make an audience forget just how long its asses have been glued to those seats, but Abdellatif Kechiche accomplishes this with ease in his newest, much-talked-about Cannes Palme D’Or winner. Much more a portrait of a restless, depressed young woman than the grand love story it’s been advertised to be, “Blue is the Warmest Color” is nonetheless raw, intimate and powerful, and makes theRead More
Adaptations of Robyn Davidson’s cult classic autobiography “Tracks” have been circling Hollywood for decades, and now 35 years after Davidson undertook the near-impossible task of trekking 1,700 miles from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean with just four camels and a dog for company, John Curran’s “Tracks” has made it on to the big screen. It’s a gorgeous love letter to the beauty of the Outback but an empty story with no depth afforded to this remarkable woman. Davidson’s reason for the trek, which took nine months and covered theRead More