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(5 BDKs)
See the movie opening weekend
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Definitely see it in theaters
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50/50 50/50
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Released: 2011
Rating: ---
Review coming soon.

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Diploma Plaque Laminators

What's Your Number? What's Your Number?
Genre: Comedy
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK Half BDK
While Anna Farris' bubbly personality helps keep the movie barely afloat, the film is predictable, unfunny and forced. You can always tell when a movie is trying too hard. I felt like the film was winking at the audience like, "hey look, we have an R-rating! Watch what we can say!" Most R-rated raunchy comedies have a natural feel and flow to them. Look at The Hangover or Bridesmaids, as recent examples. They are R-rated and it feels natural. The jokes don't feel forced. It really feels like those characters would say those lines of dialogue. In What's Your Number? I felt that everything was being said just because they had an R-rating. These raunchy moments didn't fit the overall film which made the film ultimately feel unrealistic.

What's Your Number? stars Anna Faris (Scary Movie, Just Friends), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Not Another Teen Movie), Chris Pratt (Moneyball, Parks and Recreation), Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Real Steel) and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911, I Love You Man).

The film opens and we meet Ally Darling (Faris), a young woman frustrated with not being able to find true love. She comes across an article that talks about the infamous "number" and how the average number is ten and a half. Thinking that is absurdly low, she takes a poll with her friends one night and realizes that her number of sexual partners is much larger than she thought. With twenty partners, she declares herself celibate and embarks on a journey through her twenty intimate relationships to see if her one true love exists in that pack. She has help along the way from her next door neighbor, Colin (Evans), who much like her, has an insanely high number. Though his issue is that he will bring a girl home and he has a hard time getting her out of the apartment in the morning. Therefore, Colin strikes a deal with Ally that if she lets him come to her apartment in the morning so the girl at his place leaves, he will help her track down her twenty ex-boyfriends. You can pretty much figure out what will happen from here.

The biggest issue with the film is the predictability aspect. I felt like I could fill in the dialogue for the characters. You already know what's going to happen based on the trailers. That brings up the question, "What's the point?" Why go see a film if you already know how it's going to end; unless it's a true story of course.

I remember laughing one time in the film but other than that, I found myself to be bored and uninterested. The only intrigue was seeing how she reacted around her ex-boyfriends and seeing where they ended up after her. The funniest sequence is actually in the trailer and deals with Faris and Tom Lennon. That would have been a great joke to leave in the film for a surprise.

What's Your Number? is forgettable and tries to hard to be an R-rated comedy. Nothing flowed correctly and it's your typical Hollywood film where everything is tied up in a nice little bow. I say skip this flick in theatres and check out Bridesmaids for a better romantic-comedy.

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Machine Gun Preacher Machine Gun Preacher
Genre: Action/Crime
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK Half BDK
Machine Gun Preacher is the powerfully gripping true story told through a fairly decent film. The hardest thing to do as a filmmaker, when telling an amazing true story, is live up to it. There are just certain stories that don't work in a two-hour time period. When things are sped up or slowed down, you can lose the audiences attention and throw the story into a fictional-feeling direction. That didn't happen much in Machine Gun Preacher but there were definitely moments were time jumped without any indication or character’s attitudes changed in the blink of an eye. I felt like my brain had to process the change while the movie itself was moving forward with the story.

Gerard Butler is a decent actor and it was a pretty wild choice for him to play this role of Sam Childers. Butler has a very heavy Scottish accent so there were definitely times where you could hear that coming through. This was especially the case during his preaching sequences. I kept thinking of him giving speeches in 300. He had that same growl to his voice which sort of took me out of the film a bit at times. I could see him wearing that red cloak.

Machine Gun Preacher stars Gerard Butler (300, P.S. I Love You), Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone, Source Code) and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, The Runaways).

Regardless of the film's issues, the core is the story of Sam Childers. As the film opens, we see Childer's (Butler) getting out of prison after doing, what seemed to be, hard time. The minute he gets home, he starts yelling at his wife and heads out to a bar. His wife, Lynn (Monaghan) was yelling about giving up her stripping job because she found God. After an incident where Childers and his best friend, Donny (Shannon) almost kill a man, he seeks help through the church. It is there he finds his path to why this film is even being made today. One day in church, a man came to speak about the families and children of Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan. The country was/is a state of civil war and the rebel forces were being lead by a disgusting and vicious leader named Joseph Kony. Kony is responsible for over 400,000 deaths. He would abduct children and turn them into soldiers.

The opening scene of the film is what really drives it in. We have to witness a little boy killing his mother in order to save his brother's life. It has to be the worst possible scenario in history. After Childer's finds God, he cleans up his act and starts his own business, from which he leaves behind to go to Uganda to help the children. While over there, he realizes this is his destiny; to save these children and keep them safe. When he gets home after his first trip, he decides to build a church in Pennsylvania for people like him; people who have sinned badly but want to find God without being judged. He ends being the preacher of this church part-time while going back and forth to Uganda where he eventually gets the name Machine Gun Preacher because while over there, he must fight with the Freedom Fighters to protect the kids.

The story is what keeps the movie afloat. For me, I wasn't familiar with the full story so I was more intrigued by what this amazing man had done. He was a loser before this; doing drugs, hurting people. He really made a name for himself and did a great thing. He's still doing that great thing today. The film presents an interesting side to the story where we get to see him traveling back and forth to Uganda and his family. As he becomes closer with the children, he becomes further away from his wife and daughter. This obviously presents an issue because he wants to be there for both but the children of Uganda start to take precedent. This is one of the main sources of drama and intensity in the film. I liked that element.

Director Marc Forster really improved on his direction for action with this film. If you saw Quantum of Solace, the action was insanely hard to watch because he shot everything too closely and it was edited so poorly. With Machine Gun Preacher, which does contain a good amount of action, he shoots everything beautifully. It's very raw but easy to see. Forster directed a much underrated film years back with Will Ferrell called Stranger Than Fiction. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

The film has a very raw feel to it and one of my favorite elements is something a bit geeky. When you watch it, listen to how the editor allows dialogue from previous scenes to continue on to future sequences. I know it's been done before but it's a very effective aesthetic. Butler would be talking in the current scene and they would take us to the next scene with his voice still talking. This saves time and it's a great story telling element.

The preaching scenes were very over acted. These are supposed to be very serious sequences but there was laughter in the audience at times. I think that had something to do with the fact that he sounded King Leonidis from 300 in these scenes.

The biggest issue is the fact that the time line jumps so quickly. It becomes a bit unbelievable at times when Gerard Butler goes from an extreme bad guy to a good guy in a matter of minutes. I understand they are trying to save time but you need the audience to believe what is happening. It all happens so fast that it seems fictional at times. It’s a very conflicting for me and not an easy movie to watch. I believe it deserves a solid 2.5 out of 5. I would catch the matinee or the rental.

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Abduction Abduction
Genre: Action/Drama/Mystery
Released: 2011
Rating: Half BDK
Abduction is easily one of the worst films of 2011. With horrible acting, laughable dialogue and an incoherent plot line, the film moves along with passable action sequences but lacks any substance. The script was so bad that even some of the best actors working today, Sigourney Weaver and Alfred Molina, look terrible in the film. There were moments where Weaver was delivering dialogue as if she was reading cue cards on Saturday Night Live. I felt like I could see her eyes reading. It honestly felt like she wasn't even in the same room with Taylor Lautner or other actors while delivering her dialogue. This is obviously the fault of the editor because it's cut so poorly that her dialogue seems unnatural. For an actress who has been nominated for three Academy Awards, it was shocking to see this. I was even more shocked to see this film coming from John Singleton, director of such great flicks as Boyz In The Hood and Four Brothers. It just felt like he was trying to channel Lautner as Jacob from The Twilight Saga, which is the exact opposite of what he should have done.

Lautner, who is wildly famous for playing a werewolf in The Twiglight Saga, obviously took this part so that he could separate himself from the series and prove he can be an action star. That's fine and a smart career move but it becomes an issue when the new film is channeling similar elements from Twilight. One of the big elements of those flicks was Lautner taking his shirt off. Before Abduction started, I looked over at my buddy and made a bet as to when Lautner would take his shirt off. It happened in the first five minutes! Then, there were close-up shots of his face where he was getting angry throughout the film. My brain immediately thought I was sitting in a Twilight film and I was just waiting for him to become a werewolf. In fact, an audience member behind me shouted out, "Look out, he's going to turn in to a werewolf." The point of a film like this for Lautner would be to step out of that box. On a positive note, which there aren't many of, you do get to see Lautner's talents with martial arts, boxing, etc. The kid definitely has what it takes to be a leading man but he really needs a decent script to succeed.

Abduction also stars Sigourney Weaver (Alien, Ghostbusters), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, Raiders of the Lost Ark), Jasan Isaacs (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Patriot) and Maria Bello (A History of Violence, The Cooler).

When the film begins, Lautner's character, Nathan is doing a school project and finds a missing persons website which shows you what the missing child would look like today. Nathan comes across a picture that looks just like him and immediately starts to freak out. This obviously makes him question his own identity and starts looking for answers. Though, this becomes an issue when his fake "parents", played by Maria Bello and Jason Isaacs are murdered before his eyes. Now he must run for his life and search for answers before it's too late. Oh and he just happens to have a good looking girl with him for the ride, played by Lily Collins. While on the run, the CIA, headed by Alfred Molina's character, are searching for him as well.

I honestly laughed more in Abduction than I did in The Hangover 2. The problem is that I was laughing at the film not with it. I just can't believe a major studio release like this could have gone so wrong. The sequence in the car with Weaver, Lautner and Collins is beyond awful. As the scene progressed, it felt more and more like a skit or a joke. I could hear an audience laugh track in the background. Then, came the most unbelievable aspect of the sequence. I have to give Craig Ferguson credit for doing a hilarious bit centered on this scene when he had Sigourney Weaver on as a guest. He played the sequence in the car where Sigourney Weaver tells Lautner and Collins that they have to hold hands and jump out of the moving vehicle. Lautner is in the front seat and Collins is in the back seat. If they are holding hands, wouldn't the metal piece between both doors block their hands when they jump? If that wasn't bad enough, all of the dialogue rattled off in this scene is just atrocious.

This movie is bad, very very bad! I recommend staying away and catching Drive or Moneyball this weekend, hence the 0.5 BDK rating.

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Moneyball Moneyball
Genre: Biography/Drama/Sport
Released: 2011
Moneyball is a flick about one man's relationship with the beautiful game of baseball. If that doesn't interest you, the movie is not for you. As I walked out of the film, I started having flash backs to my days as a little league player and how much I loved the sport. As I got older I fell out of it but now after seeing this flick, I am now madly in love with the sport again. Maybe it was the great script co-written by Aaron Sorkin or Brad Pitt's subtle yet emotional performance. To be honest, you don't have to be a baseball fan to like the movie. If you think about it, Moneyball is nothing but a romance. Instead of two human beings, we have a man and a sport. His entire life centers on the sport and as the movie goes along, we see the ups and downs of their relationship. It's a beautiful thing to watch. As Billy Beane says, "It's hard not to be romantic about Baseball." It's hard not to be romantic about this film.

Back in 2002, Billy Beane re-invented/changed the game of baseball. This created much controversy because baseball has essentially been the same for decades. What Beane did is change the entire out look of the scouting system. While he might not have been successful in his eyes, Beane proved that a poor team can be as good as the richest team in the league. Just by statistics alone, Beane was paying in the $200,000 level for wins while most teams were paying over $1 million for their roster per. In fact, in the 2002 season that the film focuses around, the Oakland A's salary was around $40 million while the New York Yankees was over $120 million. Beane proved that by purely using statistics, he could build a great team from the most undervalued players in the league. As the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics and a failed professional baseball player, his love and passion for the game was and still is truly amazing.

Moneyball is based on the novel Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis and is directed by Bennett Miller (Capote). The film stars Brad PItt (Fight Club, Seven), Jonah Hill (Superbad, Get Him To the Greek), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote, Boogie Nights), Chris Pratt (Jennifer's Body, Wanted) and Stephen Bishop.

As the film opens, we are watching the 2001 Oakland A's who had such players as Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon. The team loses right before the playoffs and the Boston Red Sox end up offering Johnny Damon a slightly higher salary. As the film tells us, the match up between the Athletics and Yankees at the beginning of the movie was where a team worth over $110 million was playing a team worth less than $40 million. The Athletics were known for not paying huge salaries to players. And therefore, the "best" players went to the richer teams. That is until Billy Beane re-invented the sport.

After Beane (Pitt) took on a young twenty-five year old Yale graduate named Peter Brand (Hill), who studied economics, they re-built the entire Athletics team by using nothing more than statistics. Most of the players they bought on were undervalued and no team wanted them. One player, Scott Hatteberg, was a former catcher for the Boston Redsox but he was injured and deemed to never play again. Though, statistically he was great at getting on base. Beane figured they could stick him at first base and use him for his batting skills. He and Brand built the team around statistics and the rest is history. The rest of the movie will speak for itself if you don't already know the story.

The film works on so many levels. The film will grip you emotionally as you watch this relationship unfold between Beane and the sport. It will also have you emotionally locked in to all the trading and baseball sequences. Even if you're not a baseball fan, you will find yourself intrigued as to what is happening. I found it very easy to follow all the baseball talk, i.e. trading, statistics, etc. That didn't bother me at all because Sorkin wrote in such an easily digestible way. His dialogue is always like a warm glass of milk. It just goes down so easily. Even though he co-wrote the film, you can tell where his sequences are. My favorite scene in the entire film is a scene where Pitt and Hill are on the phone making trades. It was so well-balanced and beautifully written.

Brad Pitt is great. I will say that I wanted a little bit more from his performance but that's the beauty of the character. He's very subtle and only shows pieces of how he feels. A lot of his battle is internal which is kind of hard for a film because I almost wanted to feel a little more for him. The scenes where we cut to him and his daughter felt a little bit out of place. I get what they were going for but I felt the pacing/editing on those sequences were a bit off. Though, as the film came to a close, it all made sense.

Cinematography-wise, Wally Pfister did a brilliant job. I loved the lighting on the slow-motion batting and pitching sequences. It just made baseball look more gorgeous than it already does. I just loved how dark it looked. It really added a sense of drama to the baseball sequences.

The film is very interesting and really says a lot about the sport of baseball. I really fell in love with the sport again and as I sit here typing this review, I am falling in love with this film. Oddly enough, I don't find the film to be great. I simply found it to be very good. The movie didn't ever jump over that great wall but I'm more in love with the story. Pitt's performance is very solid. Philip Seymour Hoffman was wasted and I did enjoy Jonah Hill in this serious role. They still play him for the majority of the film's laughs but he was great in the flick.

Moneyball is a solid four out of 5. Check it out in theaters! The music mixed with Wally Pfister's cinematography is just a gorgeous combination.

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Killer Elite Killer Elite
Genre: Action/Thriller
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK Half BDK
Killer Elite is a perfect example of a flick with great elements but doesn't work as a whole. That saddens me because the story has great potential for the big screen and De Niro gives a killer performance. It was just so great to see him firing a machine gun and being awesome. It's one of the films where you walk out and go, "that was alright." After I go to sleep tonight, it's not a film I will wake up thinking about in the morning. Though, I did have to stop and have a conversation with people afterwards to figure out everything that went down in the flick. Since it's based around true events, the film had to cover a ton of ground in the two-hour running time. That was apparent as the film skipped around a lot from country to country. I kept losing track of where the characters were and at times; i.e. who were the good and bad guys. Luckily, the action itself keeps the movie afloat and allows for the intensity. With the film having over fifty-perfect of solid action, I could feel my positivity going up and down all the way throughout. The problem is that it's so convoluted, none of the twists and turns work.

The script and dialogue could use some work. My biggest complaint is a scene where a group of ex-British secret agents are having a discussion at a dinner table. We don't know who these people are yet because we have just cut to them. Normally, when characters appear on screen, they are referred to by other characters so we can figure out who they are. We just know that Clive Owen is one of the members. Though in this scene, the dialogue was spoken in such a way that I felt like the film stopped and they were saying, "hold on a second, here's what's going on here." The characters were spitting out who they were as if the audience was dumb and we couldn't figure it out for ourselves. It's all in the one of their voices. Trust me, when you see the film, you will know exactly what I'm saying. It's hard to explain in writing but the tone of the dialogue made me feel like an idiot.

The film, which is based on a true story, stars Jason Statham (Crank, The One), Robert De Niro (Heat, The Godfather Part 2) and Clive Owen (Shoot Em' Up, Children of Men).

The film takes place in the 1980's and tells the story of a group of special-ops agents who find themselves in the middle of a war. Statham's character wants out of the business. He's too afraid of losing his life and feels like he's killed enough people. De Niro's character, playing Statham's mentor, stays in and continues taking jobs for the money. This turns out to be a problem because one of the jobs could end up being his last. He takes a $6 million job before knowing exactly who he has to kill and when he finds out its former British Special Air Service agents (S.A.S.), he wants out. The client who sets the job up refuses to let him out and takes him hostage, which forces Statham's character out of retirement. Statham's character is forced to do the job or the client will kill De Niro. The client wants revenge for the death of his three sons, which were killed by former S.A.S. agents (British secret intelligence). Statham is to go to London to kill these men. Though, the mission becomes a bit harder when a group of ex S.A.S. members ("The Feather Men"), headed by Clive Owen's character, step in the middle of his job.

The film was a bit hard to follow and I felt that was because of the editing. The movie was all over the place, literally. The characters would go from country to country which just muddied the waters. Characters would show up and then disappear. It just felt like a gigantic mess. Then there's this cheesy love story with Statham that they keep flashing back to. It was just confusing and convoluted.

The action and Robert De Niro save this film. One of my favorite films of all time is a flick called Heat with De Niro and Pacino. It was in that movie that one of the greatest dialogue sequences in the history of cinema took place. As I was watching Killer Elite, I kept getting a Heat vibe in the action sequences but nothing compares to that flick. There was even a cheesy reference where De Niro talks about heat. It just felt forced that he was referencing it.

The actual shoot-out sequences and action scenes really help move the movie along. I didn't want that to end but later on the action makes more sense once the story gets a little clearer.

The film has issues with editing and script but still delivers solid action. I think it's worthy of a rental/matinee, hence the 2.5 BDK rating.

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Dolphin Tale Dolphin Tale
Genre: Drama/Family
Released: 2011
Dolphin Tale is a classic case where the story itself is better than the overall film. While the story is very inspirational, the film tries to hard to make you cry. I felt like I could see the writers and director all gathered around a table, laughing and joking, about when the audience would cry or laugh. It almost felt like they were trying to put together the perfect Hollywood movie puzzle where everything works out like a mathematical equation. The ups and downs are perfectly timed and unlike real life even though we are dealing with non-fiction. I know that the film is "inspired by true events", but they obviously took some liberties with the story. Not every character arc is exactly what happened in real life. Not being there myself, I can't speak on exact scenes that were fictionalized but as with any film based on true events, liberties are taken and aspects are made up. When it all comes down to it though, it's the perfect film for kids and families. Kids were cheering and clapping in the theatre.

The story is amazing but you can just tell where Hollywood stepped in. That is plain and simple and if it wasn't for this film, I wouldn't have known the story. For that, I give it credit. The fact that a dolphin survived this story is amazing and I now feel more understanding of dolphins. The joy of movies is that they get to bring to life a story that a vast majority of people may be unfamiliar with. So for that, I'm glad I saw the film. Don't get me wrong, there are some great elements to the movie but as I walked out I just felt that I was manipulated throughout the majority of the picture.

Dolphin Tale stars Harry Connick Jr. Independence Day), Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), Ashley Judd (Kiss the Girls), Nathan Gamble (The Dark Knight, The Mist), Cozi Zuehlsdorff (Dolphin Tale is her first and only movie), Austin Stowell (Puncture) and Kris Kristofferson (Blade) and of course, Winter is playing herself.

The inspiring and uplifting true story starts off with a tragedy. A dolphin, which will eventually be named Winter, washes ashore in Clearwater Florida after finding herself in a crab trap. She appears to be very hurt and luckily a young boy named Sawyer (Gamble) happens to come across her on his way to school. I doubt Sawyer knew that by cutting that dolphin free of the crab trap, it would change his entire life. The dolphin is brought to the Clearwater Animal Hospital where she is treated by the owner/doctor (played by Connick Jr.). Each day after summer school, Sawyer stops by and eventually realizes that he needs to be there more often because the dolphin actually responds to him. Eventually, Winter's tale has to be removed because the trap cut off all circulation and this generally means the dolphin will not survive. And if that was the case, we would not be seeing this film today. Through a miracle, a doctor is found, played by Morgan Freeman, who works on prosthetics for injured military men/women. They come with an idea to possibly build Winter a prosthetic tale so she can live and swim again. The rest is history.

The key to this film is the story. That is hands down what move people and get people in the seats. The film is really lucky they have that to fall back on. I'm not saying they did a bad job but I don't feel that the film lives up to the story.

Performance-wise, Nathan Gamble does a great job of carrying the film. His range of emotions really does work and his relationship with the dolphin is fantastic. The real life Winter was used in the film to play herself, Winter. The sequences where she is playing with Gamble are really fun and very realistic.

My problem with the film is that they had to squeeze a long story in to a short period of time therefore it makes it seem like everything was like a movie. Everything falls into place perfectly after everything falls out of place. I'm sure that is what happened but not as quickly as it does in the film. It just made it seem fictionalized because all the problems were resolved so quickly.

Regardless of the films problems, it still delivers. I really enjoyed Morgan Freeman and his snide remarks. Dolphin Tale receives a generous three out of five because I loved the story, which has absolutely nothing to do with the movie but it moved me. What can I say? I'm a softy.

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Drive Drive
Genre: Action/Crime/Drama
Released: 2011
My 4th 5 of the year!

Drive is a masterpiece. It's one of those films that you are either going to love or you're going to hate. As I left the theatre, I heard people talking about how boring it was or how much they didn't like it. Then, there was a group of people, me included, that were skipping out of the theatre, shouting at the top of our lungs about how amazing that experience just was. It was unlike any film I have ever seen and every single aesthetic came together masterfully. Through the combination of a perfect film score, the perfect music choices, great performances and beautiful cinematography, "Drive" is getting close to my front runner for best flick of 2011. Through so little words, Gosling's character portrays so much emotion and it's just haunting. I didn't want the film to end. I feel so inspired right now.

The film stars Ryan Gosling (Crazy Stupid Love, Fracture), Carey Mulligan (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, An Education), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Albert Brooks (Finding Nemo), Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men).

Where do I begin with this review? It's almost hard to put in to words exactly how I felt about this flick. Every single aspect was perfect. I almost feel like talking about the plot makes the movie seem like every other movie. The idea is that Ryan Gosling's character, who has no name, is a Hollywood stunt car driver. He puts on masks and does all the dangerous stunts so the actors don't have to do them. On the side, as a part time gig, he also drives for criminals who robbing banks, pawn shops etc. He gives them five minutes to do their business and then drives them safely away from any police. His five minutes are strict though. If you're still doing your business and it's past five minutes, he will leave. Sounds like a pretty interesting life, right? Well, he ends up meeting a woman named Irene, who lives two doors from him, in his apartment building. Gosling's character falls for her and her kid and would do anything to protect them. Even if that means helping her husband, who just got out of prison. He says he will drive for this job but once it goes sour, the entire flick is shifted upside down. Now, Gosling's character, Irene and her son are in trouble.

Let's start off by talking about sound. Without sound, this movie would not work. It is the key to all of the intensity. But the best sound in the film is silence. I believe Simon and Garfunkle wrote a song about it. One minute the film is pumping out, what sounded like '80s pop songs, and then the next minute it would be completely silent. Silent to the point where Gosling would be driving and you could hear the telephone poles as he passed them. All of the sound effects are what drove the film for me. Listen closely to the sound effect during the major car chase sequence in the film.

Now let's talk about the music. Film score composer Cliff Martinez (Contagion) created such a beautiful, moving and powerful score that perfectly balances out the flick. When people go to the movies, they are sucked in to the world of the film and sometimes don't notice the music. That is a good thing in some filmmakers minds because they feel that the audience member is now living in that movie world for those two hours. Though with Drive, the music is a character. It becomes part of the film and doesn't let you go.

Ryan Gosling. Wow. With so few words, he conveyed so much emotion and personality. The use of the toothpick was just priceless. He could be sweet and caring one minute and then the most wicked dude alive the next. He was the perfect casting for this part. Just a brilliant and chilling performance from him.

Pretty much every performance in the film is strong from Albert Brooks, who steps a little outside his box by playing the bad guy. Even Oscar Isaacs, who plays Mulligan's husband in the film, was outstanding for the short time he was on screen.

Listen, I understand that some people may not like this but I am in love with this film. As a film fan and a movie goer, to see something like this hit the mainstream theaters is just a reminder that original filmmaking still exists. For me, the film was absolutely perfect. Stop what you're doing right now and see this film immediately, hence the 5 BDK rating.

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Straw Dogs Straw Dogs
Genre: Thriller
Released: 2011
Note: The remake is essentially a shot for shot remake but I honestly think Sam Peckinpah's version is much more brutal, especially when it comes to the rape scene. I had a harder time stomaching the original than I did the new one, which is saying something about how controversial Peckinpah was in the late 60's and 70's. I watched the remake before seeing the original. As I was watching the original, I realized how unnecessary the remake truly is.

Straw Dogs is a lesson in absolute brutality. It's a film that will shock and entertain you at the exact same time. The brilliance of the film lies within the editing and the slow build of the story. You can just feel the film creeping up on you. You know something bad is going to happen but they just keep teasing you until all of the sudden the film just explodes. As I sit here and watch Sam Peckinpah's 1971 original flick, there are literally shots taken right from the movie. One in particular is when James Marsden/Dustin Hoffman's character first enters the town with his wife. He goes to a bar and experiences a bar fight between a local and the bartender. The shot of the hand breaking the glass is exactly the same in both flicks.

Peckinpah was a very "controversial" director because of the level of violence in his flicks. Some say it was far of its time and now after seeing the remake, he was still far ahead of his time. Even the 2011 remake can't touch the shock of the 1971 version. This was especially for the western genre. When Wild Bunch came around with it's graphic violence, people were shocked. It was as if people hadn't seen blood in a film before. Again, I'm speaking from the point of view of someone who has read up on Peckinpah and watched his films. I wasn't alive during that time but I will say that his films still hold up today.

The 2011 remake of Straw Dogs stars James Marsden (Cyclops from X-Men), Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush), Alexander Skarsgard (Eric from True Blood) and James Woods (Casino). The film is directed by Rod Lurie who actually started out in the business as a film critic and then came out swinging with his flick The Contender.

The story revolves around a newlywed couple, David (Marsden) and Amy (Bosworth), who move to Mississippi to live in Amy's childhood home. David is working on a screenplay for a World War 2 flick. They both are coming from LA looking for a quite place where David can finish his screenplay. The house needs work so David hires four guys to help fix the roof. One of these men, Charlie (Skarsgard), happens to be a former boyfriend of Amy. As the film progresses, tension builds between everyone and issues start to occur. These aren't just regular issues. Without giving anything away, let's just say that it becomes one of the most violent films you will see in years.

Editing is such a major part of the film. As the tension builds back and forth, the way the film was shot and edited becomes an intrical part of the film. I just loved how the editor would cut back and forth between sequences to build the suspense. There is one particular sequences where James Marsden's character is typing and Alexander Skarrsgard's character is hammering nails into the roof. The fingers typing cuts back and forth with the hammer hitting the nail. It just flowed really well.

Like James Marsden's character, I didn't think that James Marsden had this in him. This is an insanely intense role for him and he just knocks it out of the park. Throughout the film, he's letting people walk all over him but as we all know, everyone has a breaking point. As the film's tension builds, he finally snaps and the film just takes an insane turn. I would say my only major issue with the flick was that his turn was a bit too quick for me. Considering all the slow build, I wanted him to be pushed around a little more so we could see that change from who he is in the beginning to who he becomes.

The film tackles a very interesting subject about what type of person lies with us if we are pushed over the edge. We can all say that we would not commit crimes but if you were stuck in a situation like his character, what would you do? Could you kill a person? That's where the source of the intensity lies in this flick.

I'm still sitting here watching Peckinpah's original flick and again a scene that is exactly from the original film. The sequence I am referring to deals with Dustin Hoffman and Susan George learning chess. Hoffman starts to jump rope and they get in bed. It's almost shot for shot like the original. That is a good and a bad thing. I'd say it's a good thing because it brings life to a forgotten flick. It's a bad thing because it shows that the new film didn't bring anything new to the table.

Alexander Skarsgard is such a great villain. I loved how his character could come off as sweet/caring and also have an extremely evil/sadistic tone to him. He's always great on True Blood but it's great to see him playing something different here.

I seriously felt like I needed breathing lesson's after this film. As the film reaches its climax, I was just so shocked that I couldn't move. I did have issues with Marsden's turn of character but the overall film was very well done. I definitely recommend checking it out, hence the 3 BDK rating. The reason for all the praise and the lower rating is that the film brings nothing new to the table. The original already did everything here and more. That doesn't mean the new film isn't good. It's great in-fact but if you want to save money and see a better version of it, just rent the original. If you go to the theatre to see the new, you will not be disappointed though.

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Higher Ground Higher Ground
Genre: Drama
Released: 2011
Farmiga directs a well-rounded, unbiased look into the world of religion on a tiny scale. We all know acclaimed actress Vera Farmiga from The Departed, Up in the Air and Source Code. Now we get to see her brilliant acting through her own yes. Farmiga takes the directing chair and the lead starring role in this film based around a memoir called The Dark World. The film delves into a rather unbiased look at how a mother/wife battles with her own religious beliefs while also trying to hold together her family, marriage and her sanity. This dilemma that she is having is the center piece for the film drama and intensity. Higher Ground is a very raw film that deals with real human emotion. Farmiga's talent as a director shine as she makes a film I had no problem suspending my disbelief for. I was always involved with the characters and what they were going through.

Higher Ground also stars John Hawkes (Winter's Bone), Dagmara Dominiczyk (Kinsey) and Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project).

The film centers around the character of Corinne who, at a young age and now into middle age, has questioned her beliefs and has yet to find a stable footing. When we meet her in her teenage years (played by Taissa Farmiga), she meets the love her life, Ethan (Leonard). She becomes pregnant which forced them into marriage. Corinne's dream of becoming a novelist and Ethan's dream a rockstar are now put on hold as they raise their baby. After an accident which almost takes their lives, they find a very small religious community to spend the rest of their life. Though, the problem is that Corinne still hasn't found her stable footing in this community and deals with questions and temptations.

The film's intensity levels are up and down which make the film interesting and watchable. There are so many awkward sequences with Vera Farmiga and her husband or her and the religious group. It is these sequences that make the film feel like real life. We've all been in awkward situations where we feel like the outcast and Farmiga did such a great job of portraying that awkwardness.

One of the best scenes of the film occurred at the beginning when Farmiga's character was getting baptized. As she goes under water, we flash back to her child hood and it honestly caught me off guard. We were gone so long that when we came back, we forget that she is actually under water. I just loved how that was edited and put together.

I really enjoyed the film score. The music really brought a great emotional balance to the film. There were scenes where it really helped guide the confusion of Farmiga's character.

I recommend checking this out as a rental or a matinee. It's not necessarily a film you need to see in theaters but I did enjoy it, hence the 3 BDK rating. The movie is very real and doesn't hold back on showing both sides.

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The Lion King 3D The Lion King 3D
Genre: Animation/Adventure/Comedy
Released: 2011
(Movie itself is a 5/5 - the 3D gets a 3/5)
Since the film has been out for over seventeen years, I'm assuming that most of you have already seen it. It's a classic and one of the greatest animated films of all time. As I sat in this dark theatre, seventeen years later, I was just amazed at how well the film actually holds up. It actually made me miss hand-drawn animation. Don't get me wrong, I love the computer animated flicks from Pixar but there's just something classic about the hand drawn flicks. I loved watching the expressions on the character's faces. What's great is that as the film progresses, I didn't even think of the animation anymore because I was so sucked in by the story. Even after all these years, that story is so moving and emotional. The magic of films allows us to suspend our disbelief and taken to this fictional world. The animation just disappears and the story takes over.

I'm not going to review The Lion King, which is an obvious five out of five. This review will focus more on the 3D aspect. I have never been a fan of 3D especially if the movie was originally created/shot in 2D and post-converted later on. That's just cheating and a scam to get people to spend more money at the theatre. I have yet to see a live action film that actually works with converted 3D. Look at the disasters called Clash of the Titans, and The Last Airbender. Just two perfect examples of how conversion does not work.

Though, with animation, the conversion process is a bit different. The images can be manipulated a bit easier. Disney has always been strong in the 3D field, especially with Tron: Legacy. That film was actually shot in 3D and had amazing depth of field. When it comes to 3D, depth of field is the key. The gimmick aspect of 3D should only be used for fun movies like Final Destination where the objects are flying out at you. With films like The Lion King, the idea would be to create a depth of field box so it looks like we are looking into the world of the movie.

Disney brought in sixty 3D animators to help go through all of the images to add the depth of field. The two original directors, Rogert Allers and Rob Minkoff, also oversaw the 3D conversion process. It took everyone four months to get every image converted. I have to say that it's a very subtle change. You can definitely see the depth on the screen, especially with scenes where it rains or there is fire. Some of the best 3D moments are when Zazu (voiced by Rowan Atkinson) is flying around.

I paid $15.50 to see this film in 3D and I have to say that I enjoyed myself but didn't feel that price was fair. The majority of the reason I enjoyed myself was seeing it on the big screen again and the movie is just amazing. The 3D was kind of an afterthought and didn't really add much to the overall film. I would say check out the matinee for the flick, hence the three rating. Again, that rating is only for the 3D version. The movie is still a five out of five. I honestly forgot how truly amazing Jeremy Irons was in the film. That might be the best voice acting in an animated film that I have ever seen. He was unrecognizable and so scary.

As I sat in that theatre, I found myself singing all of Elton John's classics like "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?", "Circle of Life" and of course, "Hakuna Matata". It was very nostalgic and I recommend seeing it on the big screen if you can. I just wish the 3D part was an option.

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Contagion Contagion
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Released: 2011
Note: Movie feels like an R-Rated movie but is PG-13
Note: The film was not shot in the IMAX format. Do not waste your money to see it in IMAX.

Contagion poses an interesting dilemma for me as a critic. Generally, we go to the movies to escape reality. We like to be taken away to different worlds and connect to fictional characters. The key word here is generally. Now, with Contagion, it's not a feel-good movie by any means. In fact, you will find yourself feeling rather depressed and sickened at times. The dilemma comes in when the film is actually very well done. So you have this intensely scary, realistic and horrifying film that is very good by film standards. What do you do? Do you recommend that film? I just can't see people going to a theatre on a Saturday evening with a date and watching this movie. It's just horrifying. Though, as a critic, I have to look at it from a film making stand point and here is my review.

Hands down, the scariest movie I have seen in years! While it may not be the happiest film on the planet, Contagion is a masterfully paced, well-acted thriller that will stick with you for days. The great aspect is that the film is not scary based around normal horror standards. There are no creepy monsters or villains running around with masks and butcher knives. The scary angle comes from the fact that this could really happen. We've already dealt with rapid spreading diseases such as the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus but what would happen if one took out millions of people in less than a month? How freaky is that? As Kate Winslet's character states in the film, we touch our faces two to three thousand times a day. That's after we touch other people, money, garbage, food, etc. Now, I'm afraid to eat without washing my hands thoroughly. If anything, the film is a wake up call to keep you more healthy and clean. Oddly enough, the film is not entertaining by normal standards. It's a film you watch that puts you in a freaked out state but you can't look away. I was intrigued as to what was going on that I didn't want to leave yet I was just horrified.

I loved the fact that no one in this film is the star. Every single performance is even and perfectly paced. We follow certain main characters but the screen time is equal because the real star is the virus that is affecting everyone's lives. We just watch the terrible story unfold by peaking into the lives of these particular characters. We feel the world's emotion through these characters. Contagion stars Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), Gwenyth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love, Great Expectations), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), Marion Cotillard (Inception, Public Enemies) and Jennifer Ehle (The King's Speech).

The idea behind the film is that what if a virus began spreading rapidly across the world with no cure. What do you do? Where do you go? Everything you touch could lead to your death. While the Center for Disease Control could step in, they have to deal with what information they release as to not cause a massive panic. At the same time, they are trying to find a cure. The scariest part is that no one knows what it is and by the time anyone figures that out, what if everyone in the world is already dead? How do you protect your family from that? Well it all starts with the Emhoff family. Beth Emhoff (Paltrow) comes home from a business trip in Hong Kong. She starts to feel ill and out of nowhere, just dies (and no, this is not a spoiler. It is in the trailer and happens very early on in the film). Next thing you know, her little son passes away as well from a similar illness. Thomas Emhoff (Damon) is now left alone with his fifteen year old daughter. He has no clue how to react. Imagine if that happened to you? What would you do? As more deaths start to pop up, the Center for Disease Control, headed by Dr. Ellis Cheever (Fishburne) steps in to help deal with the issue. He hires an epidemic specialist, Dr. Erin Mears (Winslet) to help deal with the larger than life situation. As the film goes on, we are introduced to other characters that have their own agendas. Jude Law plays a web blogger who seeks the truth about the cure for the deadly virus. Marion Cottilard's character travels to Hong Kong to try and discover its origin. The clock is ticking and cure must be found quickly before the entire world is wiped out.

Pacing is a major aspect to this film. Soderbergh's use of techno music for the score definitely helped the film move along at an oddly interesting pace. At first, I was confused by his musical choice but as the film moved along, I started to understand why. It put the audience in a state of confusion similar to the confusion the characters of the film were experiencing. The film is absolutely non-stop and constantly in your face. It doesn't hold back and just blatantly shows you the raw reality of how human kind would react to something this deadly.

Matt Damon's emotional arc in the film is so perfect. At the beginning of the film, he loses his wife and stepson to the deadly disease and has to spend the rest of the film protecting his fifteen year-old daughter. He has to be a strong father which means, for the most part, he can't show his deeply sad emotions for the loss of his wife. This would only scare his daughter and he could lose control over the situation. As an actor, that has to be an insanely hard aspect to grasp. To the audience, we know he just lost his wife and we can see it all over his face. Though, we also know that he has a daughter to protect. It was just a very interesting dynamic to see. As the film goes on, it progressively gets harder for him to keep it all inside. That is the mark of a truly great actor.

Jude Law's performance was so great. He plays a blogger who theorizes that the cure for this virus has already been found but the government is waiting to release it because they want to make sure drug companies can profit off of it. As we cut back to his character, we see that his blog is growing which creates more trouble for him. His character was just really interesting and I loved his teeth.

The movie is extremely scary. Honestly, there were moments that were so shocking that my body didn't know to react so I just began nervously laughing. As I sat there in a crowded theatre, I kept looking back at the other critics behind me to see if I was reacting correctly. The film doesn't hold anything back. It lays it all out there for you to take it in and your reaction cannot be predicted. Soderbergh really plays with reality here and it's not something that is too pleasant.

I kept asking myself while I was watching the film, "Who would go out and pay to see this"? It's not a pleasant film and it really takes a lot out of you. But that's the point. It's supposed to freak you out but there is that fine line where we go to the movies to escape from reality, for the most part. Why would we want to be scared and have to worry about more problems in our lives? It's a great question but it's not that easy to answer. I can tell you that I didn't ever think of leaving the theatre and that I was always intrigued. It took a couple of days for the film to wear off but I feel that it's an important film that everyone should see. It's a risky movie done well and I feel that Soderbergh was the perfect choice. I do recommend seeing it and gave it a 4 out of 5.

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Warrior Warrior
Genre: Action/Drama/Sport
Released: 2011
I had to hold back tears three times during Warrior. Yeah, let that settle in for a quick second. Are you finished judging me? Warrior is hands down one of the best films of 2011. While a bit manipulative, Warrior overcomes any of its problems with a deep emotional connection to its characters and phenomenal performances. Anytime you can suspend your disbelief and have to hold back tears, the movie has you. Yes, it's a film where everything perfectly falls into place and yes we are manipulated into feeling certain ways but if it works, it works. Performance-wise, Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte is a powerhouse of emotions and deserve Academy Award nominations. This is a story that many people can resonate with and a film that will have you guessing and cheering until the final frame. The fighting sequences are really well done and work even better because of the emotional connection to the characters. There hasn't really been a film recently where MMA was done correctly. Being a huge UFC fan myself, it was great to see the sport getting an interesting light in the film world.

Warrior stars Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), Joel Edgerton (The Square, Animal Kingdom), Nick Nolte (48 Hours, Rich Man, Poor Man), Kurt Angle (famous UFC Fighter) and Jennifer Morrison.

Personally, I would rather have not known that the two brothers were going to end being in the final fight of the film. The trailers give that away and it's kind of a bummer knowing that's going to happen while you're watching the movie. Luckily, the film is good enough to get pass that aspect but it would have made it better. Though, they do a great job of keeping winner of the fight a secret until the final moments. The film centers around two brothers who haven't seen each other in fourteen years. Their family was ripped about apart due to their father's drinking problems. Now, after fourteen years, the father (Nolte) is trying to repair what he broke and it's this MMA tournament that can bring them all back together again.

The two brothers are in need of cash as soon as possible. Tommy (Hardy) is a war veteran who just came back from Iraq and is mysteriously looking for a way to make some quick cash. As the story unfolds, we found exactly why. Brennan (Edgerton) is a high school physics teacher who is having trouble supporting his wife and kids because of his salary. Brennan turns to MMA fighting on the site for some extra cash. Both hear of a tournament called Sparta, an MMA tournament where sixteen individuals battle it out for the prize. They both enter the tournament not knowing either is in it because Tommy has changed his last name after an issue he had when he was deployed in Iraq as a Marine. Tommy enlists the training abilities of his father (played by Nick Nolte), who is responsible for ripping their family apart when he was a drunk many years back. Brennan seeks help from an old friend who helps bring him to the tournament and a long chain of events.

I got teary-eyed three times during the film and I'm not afraid to admit it. The film emotionally drags you in and hold on to you until the final frame. You feel every tear and every punch from every character. For the two hour and twenty-minutes that you are in the theatre, the movie owns you. If you don't get teary-eyed in this film, you have no feelings. Anyone should be able to admit to crying in a flick. There's nothing wrong with that.

Through the magic of movies, we would never know Tom Hardy is British and Joel Edgerton is Australian. The guys nailed their American accents. That and the fact that they put on muscle for the roles and emotionally became those characters just shows you that actors don't have it that easy. They put a lot of work in to these performances and it really shows on screen.

Nick Nolte. Wow, what a performance. A major aspect of the film is watching Nick Nolte's character ask for forgiveness from his two sons. That becomes the most emotional aspect of the entire film. His character is fighting sobriety and all he wants to do is bring his family back together. Part of the manipulation of the film is that we don't ever get to see the bad years and how poorly he treated his family. We only see him being treated poorly by his kids now because of what he did in the past. This makes us feel bad for him, which is part of the manipulation strategy. It works though and was a necessary evil for the film. Nolte seriously deserves an Oscar for his performance.

I'm a huge fan of the UFC and MMA so it was great to see legit fight sequences. Director Gavin O'Connor (Miracle) really hit the nail on the head. Any UFC/MMA fan will be happy with the fight sequences. The only issue I had was the announcers. I thought they were really cheesy and that Gavin O'Conner put too much of himself in the film. He plays the head of the tournament that's always speaking to the press.

Warrior is a film you must see with a big crowd in a large theatre. It's fun, entertaining, emotional and will leave you on the edge of your seat. Did I hit every cliché there? Go check it out, hence the 4.5 BDK rating.

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Red State Red State
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Released: 2011
***I had an hour long discussion with Kevin Smith about all things Red State including the self-distribution, budget, writing and performances. Plus he reminisces about his earlier work and talks about retirement. Here's the unedited/unaired version of the interview.

Dear the Academy, please watch this film immediately and give Kevin Smith, Michael Parks, Melissa Leo and John Goodman Oscar nominations. Unfortunately, when you think of Oscars, you don't think of Kevin Smith. That has always boggled my mind because frankly, most of his films are better written than a lot of the nomination we see every year. Sure, his scripts may be filled with "d*** and fart" jokes but they always deliver comedy gold and great dialogue. So anyone out there who has ever said that Kevin Smith can only write/director crude comedies, need to turn to their Video On Demand service right now and watch Red State.

Dear Kevin Smith, please don't retire! We need you around to keep us from watching unoriginal garbage in Hollywood. Red State not only shows the brilliant range of Kevin Smith as a film maker but also proves that original film making still exists in Hollywood. The film is sick, twisted yet extremely well-written and action-packed. It has everything you could want in a movie! You will be on the edge of your seat but also be blown away by the phenomenal performances/dialogue. What's crazy is that underneath all of the disturbing aspects of this flick, the dialogue just flows out of the character's mouths. It's almost like it was meant to be. The shifts in tone during the flick are absolutely seamless, going from an extreme sexual angle to an extreme religious angle and finally to an extreme action angle. You would think it would be tough to combine those three aspects in to one film but Kevin Smith does it seamlessly. Seriously, Academy, take note now! There were sequences where Michael Parks scared the living crap out of me just by speaking Smith's dialogue. These were sequences without blood and guts. Just a shot on Parks while he delivered his extremely sinister performance. The evil that lurked in his eyes was just beyond me and for an actor to go that deep in an actor, he truly deserves some recognition.

I'm a huge Kevin Smith fan. Always have been. I grew up watching Mallrats pretty much every week before venturing back to Clerks and then going forward with Dogma, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and finally, Clerks 2. If you're fan of his work and didn't shed a few tears at end of Clerks 2, then you're not truly a fan. When he had that backwards tracking shot in the Quik Stop and the film went from color to black and white, I seriously lost it. As I go back and watch all of his films over and over again, the brilliance of the View Askew universe always amazes me. It's so crazy that the same characters keeping popping up again and again. Now, being a Smith fan, I do have to admit that I was did not like Copout. There's a valid reason for that though. Smith did not write the film. He only directed it and for that I give him a pass. He's at his best when he's directing his own material.

Now, going back to Red State, if you're familiar with the Phelps family and the Westboro Baptist Church, you will find comparisons all throughout the film. Though, the family in Red State, is obviously a highly fictionalized version. While they do picket funerals, the Cooper family actually seeks out and kills people who "sin" in their eyes. The film will shock, disturb and amaze you. As I sit here writing this review, all I can think about is John Goodman's "Bloodhound" speech. I won't give it away but it is so chilling.

As with every Kevin Smith film, Red State has a great cast including Michael Parks (From Dusk Til Dawn), John Goodman (The Big Lebowski), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous), Nicholas Braun (Sky High), Kyle Gallner (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Patrick Fischler (Twister), Kerry Bishe (Sex and The City) and Stephen Root (Office Space)

As the film opens, we meet three teenage boys, Travis (Angarano), Billy-Ray (Braun) and Jarod (Gallner). The boys have responded to a sex ad on the internet that brings them out to Cooper's Dell, an area where the insanely offensive Cooper family resides. The family has become the talk of the town recently because of their horrific views on homosexuals. The film even opens with the family picketing a funeral for a homosexual male who has just passed. It just makes you feel sick inside that people could be so hateful. Anyways, as the boys make it out to Cooper's Dell, they slowly realize it's a trap and after being drugged, end up waking up in a church/house of the Cooper family. Being that they are a religious fundamentalist group, we cut to a sermon given by the head of the family, Abin Cooper (Parks). As the sermon goes on, we start to realize that something is not right. This religious fundamentalist group is extremely violent and killing people for their "sins". The boys try to escape but this is right before a military task force, headed by John Goodman's character, get a tip off about what's going on. They show up and an all out war breaks out.

Michael Parks. Give this man an Oscar right now! What a performance. It's one of the sickest, most disturbing performances I've ever seen. He never breaks character and is absolutely relentless. I just sat there with knots in my stomach anytime he was on screen. Originally, Smith had his opening sermon at seventeen minutes but it was cut down because he felt the audience would get bored with it. I would love to see that full speech.

John Goodman. Wow. His character is just so bad-a**. As the film progresses, we are inundated more and more with his character and the moral dilemma that he has to deal with. There is a sequence at the end where he has to tell his story and it is so riveting to watch.

The pacing and editing for this film are perfect. The film grabs you and doesn't let go. It's just a powerhouse and has everything. Even the action is fantastic. For a movie that was independently financed and only cost $4 million dollars to make, Smith did a great job of making it look like a higher budget. The key here though is the script. If you have a great script, no one will even know you were working on a micro budget. It's when your script stinks that people start to pick apart the production value.

Do yourself a favor and check out this flick. It's a film that comes from a brilliant film maker and just shows his amazing range. Until Red State, Kevin Smith's movies were very niche and for a specific audience. With Red State, he should now be opened to everyone. While it might not be my favorite, it's the best film he's ever directed, hence the 4.5 BDK rating.

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Apollo 18 Apollo 18
Genre: Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK BDK Half BDK
Note: I caught a midnight screening of this film and it's currently 2:01am. I have to wake up in 3 hours so I just wanted to write a quick review. Therefore, I apologize for any grammatical errors.

Another note: As if we didn't already know this, NASA just recently released a statement saying that the film is not a documentary and is a work of fiction.

Apollo 18 is innovative, intense and will make you scream like a little girl. It's not a great film by any means but it's all about the atmosphere and the world that is created by Director Gonzalo López-Gallego (his first major motion picture). Even though I knew going in that the film was fake, I still found myself suspending my disbelief. Hats off to the amazing film makers for making me feel like I was on the moon with these actors. I mean seriously, the film looked just like found footage from the 1970's. The post-production on this project must have been insane, adding in all the scratch marks, etc. The tight spaces these actors had to film in were absolutely insane. What the film does really well is use a slow-build effect for the scares which became a very important factor in keeping you entertained for ninety minutes.

No exaggeration, I jumped out of my seat and screamed out loud, three or four times during the film. I couldn't help myself. What was great is that you could tell the film makers know that audiences are smart nowadays when it comes to horror films. So I would sit there, trying to be all cool, saying to myself, "Ok, here comes a part where they are going to make us jump." Then a couple of seconds go by and I start thinking that I was wrong and then boom, they got me. There are at least three of those moments that I remember vividly.

Apollo 18 is the type of horror film, unlike Paranormal Activity, that won't stick with you. It's scary in the moment but I'm not going to go home and lose sleep over it. I guess you could equate the scares to being in a haunted house. You have no real connection to anything going on in the film but you enjoy yourself while you're watching it.

As we all know, the last known Apollo mission was Apollo 17. The fictional aspect of this film tells us that there was another mission, that was kept secret for many years, until now. Apollo 18 was sent to the moon with three men, Walker, Grey and Anderson. They were sent there for a specific reason, which I won't say because anyone who see's this film should go in with blind eyes like I did. I will say that the film's main focus is on two of the characters, Walker (played by Lloyd Owen) and Anderson (played by Warren Christie). Walker and Anderson are the two characters who actually land on the moon and deal with the dramatic/terrifying situation. That is all I will say. We are told right from the beginning that eighty-four hours of footage was found on this mission and that this film is the edited version of that story.

By keeping this a spoiler free review, I just want to talk about the film making aspect. I'm a massive fan of film scores but for this type of film, no score was used or needed. It was supposed to come off as real found footage and it came off as that. The cinematography was fantastic. They really shot the film to look like it was found footage and I really felt that I was on the moon.

When the film first started, I kept wondering how they would stretch this over a ninety-minute period but as it went on, the tension built and it was actually very intense and scary. The scares are there and keep the film's heartbeat going. Even the performances are believable and solid.

Listen, if you're looking for a great film with great emotional depth, you won't find that here. What you will find is a solid horror flick with great scares. It's a fun, innovative and intense ride. It was just fun to see something new and original. Even though it's using that Paranormal Activity/Blair Witch style of filming, it was a unique take and it works, hence the 3.5 BDK rating.

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The Debt The Debt
Genre: Drama/Thriller
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK BDK Half BDK
The Debt is a sleek, well-written, well-directed thriller that has that great element of surprise that we rarely see in the predictable films in theaters today. Yes, there are negative qualities but I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure everything out as the story went on. The film is filled with extremely intense sequences and where I found myself completely invested in the characters and their decisions. I really enjoyed the overall film but my biggest issue came Sam Worthington's one dimensional performance. I just felt he kind of weighed the film down. Though, the positive element completely outweighed the negative and one of those elements, I can't even talk about. It's always hard to review a film where you can't talk about one of the many reasons you liked in fear or spoiling any of the plot points. Let's just say that the movie is filled with great twists and turns and if you stick around to the end, you won't be disappointed.

The film stars Helen Mirren (The Queen, Red), Jessica Chastain (Tree of Life, The Help), Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans), Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, Batman Begins), Ciaran Hinds (Road To Perdition, There Will Be Blood), Marton Csokas (The Bourne Supremacy, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and the brilliant Jesper Christensen (Casino Royale, The Interpreter).

The story revolves around three Mossad agents (played by Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas), who in the year of 1966, were sent on a deadly mission to capture a Nazi doctor who worked directly with Hitler during World War 2. This doctor, Dieter Vogel (played by Jesper Christensen) was responsible for some of the most disturbing and disgusting deaths imaginable. The three Israeli agents were assigned to capture the doctor in East Berlin and bring him back to Israel to stand trial for his crimes. Though, something strange occurred during their mission and now, thirty-years later, the older versions of these characters (played by Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson) are dealing with the consequences of their choices. As the film opens, Helen Mirren's character's daughter is reading an excerpt from her new book, telling the story about the three agents who captured the evil doctor. This upsets Mirren's character which is the source of the flash backs to the mission to where we find out what really happened. Because of this mission, all three agents have lived a great life telling the amazing story of how they captured the infamous Nazi war criminal. The problem is that the story has yet to be told in full.

First of all, someone please nominate Jessica Chastain for an Academy Award. Recently, she was compared to a chameleon because of the fact that every character she plays is completely different. That's always a great aspect for an actor because you don't want to be tied to a certain character your entire career; i.e. Michael Cera. Whether it be the silent mother in The Tree of Life or the full of life outcast in The Help and now the Krav Maga butt-kicking agent in The Debt, she always delivers something unique. Chastain is on fire. Not to mention, she is speaking multiple languages in this film! At one point, she had to speak German with an Argentinian accent. I can't even wrap my mind around that. Everyone in the film is speaking in different languages and accents. There was were just so many layers of accents. It felt like the Inception of action! There is a sequence where she is sitting at a piano, just crying her eyes out. It's a silent cry and one of the most emotional things I've ever seen.

The performances in the film are amazing. I will say though, Sam Worthington, is still very one dimensional to me. I just don't feel that he has any range. I feel, at least for me, that it's always hard to connect to any character he plays. That is why he has starred in some of the biggest films ever made, yet no one really knows who he is by name. He's just "that guy" from Avatar. I don't know if it's him or the scripts that he takes but he hasn't given a memorable performance yet. I just felt that his romantic connection with Jessica Chastain was lacking which presented a major problem considering it's an essential element to the movie. That element put a huge dent in the story for me.

My last comment on performances goes to Jesper Christensen. Christensen the evil the doctor/war criminal that the three Israeli agents are after. His relentless nature as a villain was perfect and he was unpredictable and scary. The sequences with he and Jessica Chastain when she goes to see him as a patient are unbelievably freaky and intense. Intensity is definitely a key factor to the success of why this film is worth seeing. Anytime Chastain took the chair at the doctor's office, you knew you were in for an intense sequence.

The film has so many great twists and turns and honestly will leave you breathless at the end. The film is also riddled with great action sequences. In particular, there is a scene that takes place at a train station while the Agents are in East Berlin. I just loved intensity of this sequence. There's nothing more than fun than being on the edge of your seat while you're watching a movie. I just kept wondering how they were going to get out of this.

The Debt receives a 3.5 BDK rating and is worth seeing theaters. There were some problems with the Sam Worthington character which really put a dent in the film but the other performances are strong enough to keep the movie afloat.

Just a little side note, the film is directed by John Madden, who also directed Shakespeare In Love, the film that beat out Saving Private Ryan for best picture at the Oscars. I still can't let that down but he did a great job in directing this film. I loved the look of the opening shot when the three characters were getting off that plane. It was the perfect opening.

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Our Idiot Brother Our Idiot Brother
Genre: Comedy
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK Half BDK
Our Idiot Brother is a sweet flick turning out a lovingly heartfelt performance from Paul Rudd. The only issue is the ending, which was actually re-shot from the original ending which was shown at Sundance. Without giving anything away, I felt the way the film ended was a bit abrupt. The general formula for any movie is that we are introduced to characters, problems arise, a climax occurs and the resolution happens. I won't say what problems arise and which ones are resolved but I will say that when issues are resolved, they are done in two minutes and completely unrealistically. I'm being vague here because I don't want to spoil anything. That becomes an issue for suspension of disbelief. The set-up is great, creating realistic dramatic ideas but I just felt that once it all comes to a head, there wasn't enough time to realistic solve these situations. That is all I will say and that was pretty much biggest issue with the film.

The film really resonated with me on a personal level. Paul Rudd's character is the exact opposite of an idiot. He's a good natured individual that has no filter. If hears something negative going on, he talks about it, as anyone should. He just feels that people are inherently good. We spend most of our lives saying things behind people's backs. The crazy thing is that when people mess up in this world, they blame the people who brought that issue to everyone's attention. They do this instead of blaming themselves for the problem to begin with. I'll hear something a someone says, just thinking it's part of normal conversation and then talk about it later on. Then, if that element wasn't supposed to be discussed and I didn't know that, the person gets so angry. Paul's character doesn't have ill intentions but he defaults to the good in people. For example, there's a scene where he catches one of his sister's husbands having sex with another women. Since this character is directing a documentary, he just assumes that it's for the film. When he tells his other sisters about it, they put the pieces together that he is having an affair. Rudd's character didn't tell his sisters to bring the cheating aspect to attention but it was his ignorance that let the cat out to the bag. That's not his fault. He's just bringing people's negative situations to light, which is how it should be. Obviously, the person who is at fault is going to be mad at Rudd's character but he did nothing wrong. That person shouldn't have made the mistake to begin with. I'm not sure if anything I just said made any sense but I'm sticking to it.

Our Idiot Brother stars Paul Rudd (Anchorman, Knocked Up), Elizabeth Banks (The Forty-Year Old Virgin, Slither), Zooey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer, Yes, Man), Emily Mortimer (Cars 2) and Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder, Hamlet 2).

The film opens with one of the more "idiotic" actions I've seen from a human being. I put that in quotes because his character was obviously trapped and was just trying to be nice. I'm not condoning selling drugs but the way his Rudd's character was propositioned by the officer, was just wrong. Ned (Rudd) is working at an organic farm when a uniformed police office comes up claiming he's had a hard week and wants to buy some pot. Ned is smart enough at first to realize how dumb it would be if he sold it to him but the cop keeps pushing him and Ned agrees to give it to him for free. Then the cop tries to give him money for it. I just felt so bad for Ned in this sequence. He felt like he was helping the guy and doesn't think that people could be so cruel to do something like that. That's kind of the outlook I have on life and that's why I really resonated with this film. I always let people walk all over me.

Ned is taken off to prison for eight months and once he gets out, he realizes that his girlfriend (Kathyrn Hahn) has moved on to another man (T.J. Miller). She has kicked him out of their place and taken ownership of his best friend, his dog Willie Nelson. Having nowhere to go, he has to turn to his mother and three sisters for help. His three sisters, Miranda (Banks), Liz (Emily Mortimer) and Natalie (Deschanel) all have their own lives. Miranda works for Vanity Fair, Liz is married with two kids and Natalie is a same-sex relationship and working on taking the next step to move with her girlfriend (Rashida Jones). When Ned enters their lives, he comes in, eyes wide open, taking everything in and just being the lovable guy that he is. Though, once he starts experiencing his sisters' issues, being the good hearted guy he is, he talks openly about them which brings all kinds of problems to surface. Ned doesn't do this hatefully, he just finds himself talking about things at the wrong time and place. This becomes the source of drama throughout the film.

The film starts off really slow but slowly builds this gigantic heart through the flawless performance by Paul Rudd. I just really felt for his character and loved every single action of his. He's a guy who just finds himself in the wrong situations and he deals with them with the idea that all people are good. He has this idealist type of attitude that people aren't bad. So when he talks about bad things, not thinking they are a big deal, he inadvertently creates problems for other people. Though, it's so backwards because when the people get in trouble, they immediately blame Ned. He's just a big ball of joy.

The biggest issue with the film, like I said above, is the ending. When you watch a film you are asked to emotionally invest in its characters and suspend your disbelief with the story line. That's all fine and dandy but when things start to become unbelievable, you find yourself being taken out of the film. That's the case when everything in this film is just tied up in a nice little bow for you. I'm not giving anything away or telling you what happens but I felt the film's climax was a bit on the unbelievable side. The movie had a very realistic vibe to it, right up until the very end.

I did really enjoy the characters. The three sisters have a great scene together that really stood out for me while watching the film. Without spoiling anything, it just deal with Banks' and Deschanel's characters bringing something to Mortimer's characters' attention. This sequence just felt so real and like a conversation three sisters would have.

I almost felt a Little Miss Sunshine vibe during this film. It's billed as a comedy but it's more of a dramatic look into these interesting lives. Yes, there are laughs but they were everyday laughs that we deal with. I really enjoyed that dip into a section of someone's life. That's the great thing about movies is that their story can just pick up anywhere.

Our Idiot Brother is not a great movie, nor a memorable one but I enjoyed myself and gave it a 2.5 BDK rating out of 5. It's very middle of the road.

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Colombiana Colombiana
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK BDK Half BDK
"Get to the Mercedes!" It was those four words that made me burst into insane laughter while actually enjoying this well-paced and emotional action flick. Product placement in films has been around forever but over the years, it has obviously become so much worse. Heck, even Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) made a documentary about it; Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Generally, product placement is sneaky and they get away with it. It's when the placement is blatant and obvious that it starts to affect the actual art form of movies. If you are taken out of a film, mentally, because you feel you're being advertised too, that is a major issue. Now generally, the product placement is supposed to help with the budget of the film. So in the case of Colombiana, there were a bunch of Mercedes motor vehicles driving around. I'm sure Mercedes paid a pretty penny to be involved in the flick. That's fine because the same went for Transformers with GM. BUT, this becomes a massive issue when the placement is actually worked in to the dialogue of the film. During an action sequence, a character literally says "Get to the Mercedes." All he had to say was "Get to the Car"! What if it was a different advertiser? Would he have said "Get to the four-door Honda Civic EX"? Could you imagine?

The film stars Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Drumline), Cliff Curtis (True Lies), Michael Vartain (Alias), Lennie James (Snatch) and Jordi Molla (Bad Boys 2).

The story revolves around an assassin who seeks the revenge for the death of her parents. At a very young age, Cateleya (Saldana), witnessed the murder of her parents in Colombia by a man named Marco (Molla). After escaping Marco, she travels to Chicago where she meets up with a family friend named Emilio (Curtis) who ends up raising her. Cateleya doesn't want a normal childhood though. She wants to become a trained killer so that she can seek revenge. The movie fast-forwards fifteen years and Cateleya is doing what she wanted to do; taking assassin jobs and taking out the bad guys. Though, she has a purpose for all her killings. She marks the bodies with a sign, hoping that one day, Marco will seek her out so she can finish her business. The only problem is that since she is leaving signs, the police start to get a sense of who she is. Agent Ross (James) leads the investigation to find Cateleya but she must finish her mission before she is caught.

Colombiana actually works, for the most part. I really enjoyed Zoe Saldana's emotional yet bad-a** performance. She was a killer but only killed bad people. She had a good heart, for someone who had to witness her parents being killed when she was a little girl. From that moment on, she knew she wanted to be a killer. It's always weird watching these types of films because as you suspend your disbelief, you root for her. You're essentially rooting for her to murder people but since they are bad, you feel ok with it. It's always an interesting dynamic but it always seems to work. I always had that weird feeling when I watched one of my favorite movies of all time, The Boondock Saints. "There was a FIRE FIGHT!"

The film is co-written by the brilliant Luc Besson, who directed one of my favorite films of all time, The Professional). Oddly enough, some of the dialogue in this film was terribly cheesy. There were definitely moments where I would laugh out loud at something serious a character had said. Though, for the most-part, the story was well-paced and the film never had a dull moment.

The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. There were aspects of the film that felt like a movie trailer with the way it was cut but I just loved to look at the shots. The film is directed by Oliver Megaton, who also did The Transporter 3, which wasn't half-bad. This film is definitely step up from there and really does work on an emotional and action-packed level.

The product placement aspect really did bother me but that didn't happen until the very end. The last ten minutes of the film start to get a little goofy but it was still dumb fun. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Saldana and Vartan. I liked how it was very vague but you really cool feel the chemistry. Her character is so lonely and can't trust anyone and he really loves her. I really felt that and that's kind of where the emotional core of the film is. On top of that, you get all the awesome action sequences.

Colombiana is not a great film by any means but it was fun and very entertaining. Saldana really does a great job with the role and really fits the character. I really do think we need more female-led action films. Males have always dominated the action genre and I feel that this movie and Angelina Jolie's Salt are perfect examples of how to do a fun, action-packed female-led action flick. I recommend checking this flick out, hence the 3.5 BDK rating.

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Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK Half BDK
NOTE: There is a common misconception that a director has directed a certain film is his name is on the front billing. If it says "Quentin Tarantino presents Hostel", Tarantino didn't direct it. He just helped produce and they are using his name for advertising. Guillermo Del Toro did not direct this film. He just produced and wrote the flick. His name is on the forefront because he is presenting the film.

Suspension of disbelief is what allows us to believe the magic of movies. We are taken to a world and told to believe the story we are experiencing on screen. We get sucked into the movie which is why we cry when characters die and why we jump when something is scary. Sometimes movies are so engaging that we forget all together that we are sitting in a movie theatre. I'm all about it and love being taken away to the movie world for two hours at a time. Here's the problem when it comes to this film; character stupidity. I can't even think of another film in recent memory where characters have been this poorly written and stupid. I'm already suspending my disbelief enough to believe that a child is being haunted by little creatures in her house. That, I can buy for the movie. But I can't buy decisions that characters make that seem so far out of this world and dumb. These characters are grounded in reality yet make awful decisions.

Listen, a staple to a horror film is watching characters making decisions to go check things out. Like when a character hears a noise in a house and goes to check it out. That's fine. I can believe that. We yell at the screen telling the person to say in their room but that's the fun of horror films. It's when the decision so outlandish and doesn't make any sense, when I get mad. I'll give one example. Our lead character, Sally (Bailee Madison), is a little girl whose being haunted by creatures in her father's new house. No one believes the creatures exist except for her. One night, she's fighting the creatures and ends up killing one of them which would be perfect evidence to show her father who doesn't believe her. When her father comes to her rescue she just decides/forgets to not tell him that there's a dead one lying on the floor. What?!? Why wouldn't you show him that? There's another one of these awful decisions later on the in the film which just made me so angry.

I can't even express to you how angry I was when I walked out of this film. I just felt cheated and used. Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth), who wrote/produced this flick, is so much better than this. I still can't believe he produced and wrote this flick. Thankfully, he didn't direct it. The film stars Guy Pearce (Memento, The Time Machine), Katie Holmes (The Gift, Dawson's Creek) and Bailee Madison.

In a world of unoriginal film making, comes another remake. The original Don't be Afraid of the Dark was a television flick from 1973. This time, like many, it's unnecessary and just a cash grabber. The trailers are so typical and the story is so unoriginal. We are dealing with a "haunted" house. Little Sally (Madison) has been sent by her mother to live with her father (Pearce) and his new girlfriend, Kim (Holmes). Shocker, Sally doesn't like Kim at first which creates awkward tension. Her father and Kim have recently purchased an older house and are re-designing it so they can get on the cover of some housing magazine. Little do they know that the place is haunted and there are little creatures that want to take Sally. Shocker, her father and Kim don't believe Sally and it just gets worse and worse.

The movie actually does have some very terrifying moments. These moments are few and far between and take up maybe fifteen to twenty minutes of the hour and forty minute flick. The rest of the film is boring, uninteresting and just your typical horror set-up. It was like a light switch, one minute the film was boring and the next minute, it worked. It was just annoying. Don't even get me started on the ending. Just awful and makes absolutely no sense. I wanted to reach through the screen and ask the characters what the heck they were thinking.

The creatures were a mixture of creepy and goofy. There were times where I didn't know if I should laugh or be scared. They would take in creepy voices. It all seemed so played up and so typical.

I highly recommend not seeing this in theaters and saving your money. You've seen the film before with characters who have made better decisions. I give this film a 1.5 BDK's out of 5. Wait for the cable viewing.

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Fright Night Fright Night
Genre: Comedy/Horror
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK BDK Half BDK
Missing the scares and great pacing of the original, the remake still delivers an extremely thrilling, fun R-rated ride that actually worked really well in 3D. Being a recent fan of the original, I was pleasantly surprised to see the advances that director Greg Gillispie made to the series. Director Craig Gillespie really used 3D to his advantage to create an extremely immersive experience. While he used it as a gimmick in a couple of sequences where items were thrown at the camera, I felt like I was right there with the characters for the majority of the film.

I still found the 1985 film to much scarier with its use of practical effects/make-up for the vampires. One of my big concerns before going into this film was how much CGI it would use. When it comes to horror films, practical effects/make-up is always the way to go. Surprisingly enough, the new film did a great job of mixing in the practical effects with elements of CGI. There were moments of great make-up-effects, especially with Christopher Mintz-Plasse. The CGI moments were necessary considering some of the stunt work that was involved.

The biggest difference between the original and the remake is pacing. The original had a great build up and slowly crept up on you. The remake was all over the place. Characters would disappear for massive chunks of the film (Evil Ed) and then just show up again, randomly. The continuity just felt a bit off off. Though, oddly enough, the film was still highly entertaining and has some very memorable performances and sequences. It's hard not to think of the original when watching the remake. If I hadn't seen the original, I wonder how differently I would have interpreted the film?

Fright Night (2011) stars Anton Yelchin (Charlie Bartlett, Star Trek), Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Phone Booth), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kick-a**), Imogen Poots (V for Vendetta, 28 Weeks Later) and David Tennant (best known for playing The Doctor on the famous British show Doctor Who.

The idea of the film revolves around a high school teenager who becomes freaked out when he finds that his neighbor is a four-hundred year old vampire. As with the original, the vampire character is a good-looking, cocky guy whom all the girls seem to love except for the fact that he kills people with his charm and fangs. Charlie (Yelchin) is your normal high school teenager. He's just trying to fit in and he can't believe he actually landed a smoking hot girlfriend (Poots). He lives only with his mom (played by Toni Colette) because his father left them at a very young age. When he was a bit younger, he used to be a super nerd with his best friend, Evil Ed (Mintz-Plasse). But he has moved passed this and now Ed is hurt that Charlie won't hang out with him anymore. After a massive turn of events, Charlie figures out that his next door neighbor is a vampire and has to turn to the world renowned Peter Vincent, Vampire

Slayer (Tennant), for help. In the original film, Peter Vincent did a show almost like "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" but in this case, he does a live vampire show in Vegas much like a Criss Angel type of show. Charlie seeks out his help to kill Jerry the Vampire (Farrell) before Jerry gets to his girlfriend and mother.

Maybe it's just me but I found the original to be very scary. Yes it was campy and very cheesy at times but there were legit scares. Anytime Chris Sarandon's character would change into a vampire with his teeth and red eyes, I was freaked out. Plus, most of the film took place in a house so there was always this nerve-wracking feeling when you were watching the film. The new film isn't so much as scary but turns up the fun a bit more. Both films are enjoyable but on different levels. The fun aspect of this film comes from performances. Everyone looked like they were having a good time, especially Colin Farrell. I just felt that he got a total kick out of playing the part.

Farrell's delivery was spot-on and he always had me on the edge of my seat in every one of his scenes. It was just the way he said his dialogue. He would have strange pauses in his speech. He was always lingering around with the creepiest yet cocky vibe. There's a great sequence early on in the film where Farrell and Yelchin have an encounter in and outside of Yelchin's kitchen. Since Farrell is a vampire, he's not allowed in the house unless invited. Being suspicious, Yelchin makes him stand outside while he grabs him a six pack of beer. This scene was so intense and so well executed.

The performance I was most worried about was the character of Peter Vincent. I have to say that David Tennant really pulled it off. Roddy Mcdowall's Peter Vincent was amazing in the original and it was the buildup of that character that made him so much fun. I felt that was an issue in this movie. There wasn't enough build up. In the original, they built up Frank Vincent as almost an "Alfred Hithchcock Presents" type of person. He was larger than life and everyone respected him. Being in his presence would be like being in the presence of Brad Pitt. So when Charlie's character gets him to help in the original, it was a big deal. They were getting a celebrity to help out with the killing of a vampire. In the new film, I felt they didn't build up that aura around his character enough so it wasn't as fun to watch him join Charlie. Though, David Tennant brought a more cocky/arrogant persona to the part which made him absolutely hilarious. There's an amazing sequence where he is removing his make-up that is really fun to watch.

As far as remakes go, this is definitely one of the stronger ones. While it does have negative qualities, I was thoroughly impressed with the film. The film was shot in 3D and I have to say, it really did help to create a rather immersive experience, especially anytime ashes were flying around the screen. There were times where it was a bit dark and I wasn't a fan but for the most part, I thought the 3D added a unique dimension in certain scenes that actually made you feel like you were right there in the sequence. There's a great shot in the beginning of the film when the sun is rising and you get this amazing lens flare in 3D. It looked absurdly great. Also, pay attention to the way the car chase sequence was shot. If I remember correctly, a lot of the shots with the spin around camera was one-shot.

The make-up effects, which were done in part by KNB (same company that did the effects for From Dusk Til Dawn, among other films) did a great job. I particularly liked the make-up effects on Christopher Mintz-Plasse's character.

Another issue I had with the film compared to the original was the character of Charlie and his quest to get people to believe him. In the original, I felt emotional invested in his character and his journey to get people to believe him that his neighbor is a vampire. I felt that they took an easy way out in this film and just jumped to it.

Overall, I feel this is a solid remake. It does improve in some areas but I still feel the original has the edge with the great pacing and actual scares. I still had a heck of a time watching this film, hence the 3.5 BDK rating.

***Just a little side note: There's a great song playing in Imogen Poots' car early on in the film when she picks up Yelchin for school. If you're wondering what that is, it's a band called Foster the People. The song is titled "Pumped Up Kicks" and it's awesome!

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Attack the Block Attack the Block
Genre: Action/Comedy/Sci-Fi
Released: 2011
Note: If you live in the Washington D.C. area, the film is opening at the Majestic Theatre in Silver Spring.

Allow it!Attack the Block is a fun, fresh, energetic, epic ride that proves yet again that original film making still exists. Yes, director Joe Cornish is paying homage to classic films but he has taken a genuinely simple idea and turned it into his own. The idea of a "town" being attacked by aliens isn't original but what makes the film special are the group of people involved in this little story, which takes place in South London. The film is comprised of new and relatively unknown actors, except for of course the great Nick Frost! That's where the Edgar Wright connection comes in. Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, has been a long time friend of Cornish and they actually penned a screenplay together for Spielberg's latest, The Adventures of Tin Tin, which stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Wright acts as a producer for Attack the Block and you can tell the Cornish definitely learned a lot from him.

There's just something really cool about the idea of "bad guys" becoming the heroes that we root for in this film. When the film starts off, we meet this group of "bad kids"/street gang lead by the brutally awesome, Moses (John Boyega). As they mug a young lady, we think negative thoughts about these punk kids. Though, once the alien invasion beings, the tables turn and it's this group of kids that everyone must turn to for help. The arc of going from disliking these characters to having fun with them and emotionally investing in them, was really fun to watch. Cornish actually came up with this idea ten years ago after he himself, was mugged by a street gang much like the gang you see in the film.

Attack The Block stars John Boyega (his first major film), Jodie Whitaker (One Day), Terry Notary (who plays the main creature), Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Luke Treadaway, Franz Drameh and Alex Esmail.

When the film opens, we meet a gang of kids who are up to no good. They rob people for fun. They end up robbing a young woman named Sam (Whitaker) who runs home to call the police. Now, the police are on the look out for the gang, headed up by Moses (John Boyega). Though, this search ends quickly when a group of aliens start to attack South London. The aliens, which are huge furry black creatures with neon blue mouths, are absolutely vicious/violent beings. After a quick turn of events, the gang end up having to protect Sam and other friends while they try and take down the aliens.

First of all, I want to say, wow! For a first time director, Joe Cornish really directed a solid flick that hits on every level. There's a great emotional connection to the characters, the action is fantastic and it's beautifully paced. When I looked back on the film, I just see fun and great style. The movie has a life of it's own and you get totally engulfed in every element from the dialogue to the characters. It's just a film that you have a great time watching because it's so unconventional and interesting.

The creature's were amazing! It turns out they are all played by actors in suits instead of using CGI. The main actor is Terry Notary, who runs around in this black furry suit. Even the blue teeth were real. It's amazing what these film makers can achieve with such small budgets. That to me is a strong key for a director. If he can keep the film going and suspend your disbelief with little to no CGI, you have a keeper.

I have two words for you, "Hero Run." I don't want to give anything away but there is a brilliant sequence with John Boyega where is running in slow-motion while outrunning the aliens. It is so well-shot and brilliantly choreographed. The great thing about Boyega's character is that he doesn't say much but I was able to emotionally connect to him. My favorite aspect of his character were the rare shown emotions. Anytime he would smile, I would smile because it was such a rarity but you knew a person lived under that hardened character. I loved that aspect.

The music is absolutely fantastic. The main score/soundtrack is done by a group called Basement Jaxx including Steven Price, Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton. The film has such a great retro beat to it. The score/music helps move the film along at a really fun pace. You will find yourself tapping your foot to the music.

The fact that the majority of the film was shot at night is a testament to Cornish's directing. The cinematography is gorgeous and every image is scene. The action scenes are easy to follow because they are well shot and edited. I highly recommend checking this film out, as it is one of my favorites of the years, hence the 4.5 BDK rating. Go support independent film making!

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Conan the Barbarian Conan the Barbarian
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK Half BDK
Note: This film was shot in 2D and post-converted to 3D later on. If you plan on seeing the movie, make sure you see it in 2D.

Why Morgan Freeman, Why? Why did you have to lend your amazing voice talents to this dull, forgettable, incoherent flick? As I sat in the dark theatre, I couldn't help but ponder that question when I heard his voice, randomly, in two quick sequences. As he spoke, the words that came out of his mouth made absolutely no sense and I felt bad that he was even attached to this project. Is the film the worst movie ever made? No and far from it. That doesn't take away from how unnecessary it is. When you have a film that is close to 80% action, yet, you make it hard for the viewer to even comprehend the action scenes, you have a problem. I spent most of this movie scratching my eyes because I didn't know where the director wanted me to look. The action scenes were directed so poorly that the majority of the kill shots were unable to be scene. The camera cut away too quickly or something walked in to frame. The perfect word to describe the action scenes is, distracting. Plus, the awful 3D conversion didn't help considering it caused a bit of a headache and dizziness on my end.

The film stars Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones), Rachel Nichols (Star Trek, GI JOE), Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy), Stephen Lang (Avatar) and Rose McGowan (Jawbreaker, Scream).

Thankfully, Conan the Barbarian is not a remake of the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger films. This is more of a re-imagining of the source material from Robert E Howard. The bottom line is that Jason Momoa is no Arnold. I'm sure many people will say that you shouldn't compare the two but it's kind of hard not too when Arnold made the role famous. That's not to say that Momoa doesn't do a good job. He was fine and perfect for the role. It was the script and horrendous directing style that hurt the film.

How many cities does this movie take place in? One of the worst aspects about the film were the names of all he locations. I couldn't keep track of anything that was going on. Even the story line was convoluted. In a basic sense, we meet a young Conan the Barbarian (Leo Howard) at the beginning of the film. He was born as his mother was being killed in battle. His father (Perlman) raised him up to around age eleven, before the evil Khalar (Lang) butchered their entire village. Conan was forced to watch his father die. Khalar was on a mission to find a missing link that could make him all powerful. That mission continues years later after Conan has grown up. Though, Conan's vengeance still lurks and he will stop at nothing to kill Khalar. Khlara now seeks a pure blood so that he can bring wife back from the dead and he uses the help of his daughter (McGowan) to seek out this person. Though, the pure blood, Tamara (Nichols) ends up falling into the hands of Conan and now the battle is for Conan to protect her and kill the man who killed his father.

Again, the movie is 80% action. Those scenes are almost painful to watch. There were cool ideas going on but I couldn't see any of it. I tried taking my glasses off during certain scenes to see if it was maybe the 3D. That was part of the problem because it dimmed the already dark film. The biggest problem was the director had no clue how to direct action. He did not understand that there are certain ways to cut and film an action scene so that the audience can focus on a certain aspect of the screen. I had no clue where to look and I would miss so many kill shots which is frustrating.

The dialogue was atrocious. Normally though, when it comes to a film of this nature, I can let dialogue slide. You can't be too persnickety about dialogue in an action movie. Unless, you're making an action movie with a brain like Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception). Though, I do have a problem when the dialogue is laughably bad. There were times where the film felt like a soap opera. Also, the movie had one of the most gratuitous butt shots I've ever seen in a film. It was so forced and just felt so cheesy.

Make sure you stay away from the 3D if you see the film. The 3D was awful and painful. It was completely unnecessary and shot in 2D with a post-conversion. There were plenty of scenes where I could take off my glasses and watch it without any blurry parts.

I wonder if the Freddy Krueger franchise is going to sue this movie. Rose McGowan has the exact same metal finger nails as Krueger and there's even a shot that is exactly from those films where she drags her fingers against a hard object which creates metal sparks.

Conan the Barbarian receives a 1.5 out of 5. I suggest waiting for the cable viewing or just renting the Arnold version.

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Final Destination 5 3D Final Destination 5 3D
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Released: 2011
- purely on an entertainment level - it's not a great film by any means.

NOTE: This film was actually SHOT in 3D and is worth seeing in 3D. It actually adds to the experience of the film. No converted 3D garbage here.

Stop reading this review and all other reviews right now and go see this film. Trust me, you'll thank me later. I honestly can't even tell you why I enjoyed the film so much without giving anything away. You'll know why when you see it. Though, as a critic I must write a formal review so here we go. I'm not going to lie, I'm a fan of the Final Destination series. It's such guilty pleasure and as the films have progressed, story is thrown out the window and we the audience just wait to see what clever death scenes they come up with next. Besides the first film, everything that happens outside of the death sequences is awfully written and terribly cheesy. It's almost become part of the films' charm. Those scenes are just filler that lead the story to the next death sequence and give you a breather in between. That's the reason anyone goes to see these movies anyway. But now, with the fifth installment, you have a new reason to go and I can't tell you what that reason is, unfortunately.

Final Destination 5 stars Nicholas D'Agosto (Heroes, The Office), Emma Bell (The Walking Dead, Frozen), Miles Fisher (J. Edgar, Gods and Generals), Arlen Escarpeta (Friday the 13th remake), P.J. Byrne (ER, The West Wing) and David Koechner (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The Goods: Live Hard Sell Hard).

The basic premise of the film is exactly like the previous four films. A lead character (D' Agosto) has a premonition where a horrific accident occurs. The premonition ends up being true but before it happens, this lead character saves the lives of his friends. In the case of the fifth installment, Sam (D'Agosto) and his co-workers are on a retreat for their job. They are traveling by bus when all of a sudden the the bridge collapses, killing everyone one at a time in terrible and horrific ways. This horrific accident ends up being a premonition. Sam grabs his girlfriend, Molly (Emma Bell) and runs off the bus. He is followed by six of his other co-workers who want to make sure he is ok. As they get in to a safe zone, the bridge collapses and they have now cheated death. As you know from the first four films, you can't cheat death and the characters start dying in the order they would have died on the bridge. The characters always try to figure out ways around dying but we all know that death ends up getting everyone, no matter what.

Again, I can't even tell you why this film works. But you have to trust me on this and go see it in theaters. If you're a fan of the series, you will not be disappointed.

For the positive aspects that I can talk about, the 3D really does work in this case. The film was actually shot in 3D and even though I don't like 3D being used as a gimmick, it does add to the death sequences. There are some great sequences where you are more involved with the scenes because of the 3D. You will see where that extra money went when you see the sail boat shot. When a movie is played for fun, the 3D can be used a gimmick. It's when the movie is trying to take itself seriously and then throws stuff at you. Ironically, that takes you out the film.

It's interesting when you watch these Final Destination films. I equate it to working out in the gym. The intensity happens during your reps and sets. That's when your mind is racing a million miles a minute and you're involved. Then, in between sets, you rest and prepare for the next set. That's how it feels to watch these movies. After a death scene occurs, I found myself resting during the cheesy dialogue scenes and collecting my thoughts until the next death scene.

The film is a real crowd pleaser. People were screaming, cheering and just going crazy. I hardly ever shout out during films but I couldn't help myself with this one. We were all just having a great time watching it.

No pun intended but these films are more like roller coaster rides than horror films. You're not necessarily scared but your thrilled. I always feel like a bad person when I watch these movies because I get so intrigued as to how the next death scene will work. These scenes are so over the top that the audience starts to look forward to how these scenes will be pulled off.

Any of the dialogue that takes place in between the death sequences is awful. There are moments when you're watching this film, where you will say to yourself, "Wow, this is really bad." Trust, your thought process will change back and forth during the film.

I give Final Destination 5 a four out of five on a purely entertainment value level. This is not a great film by any means but I haven't been this pumped up about a movie in a long time. I literally drove home for 30 minutes with a huge smile on my face. I was just so blown away by what they accomplished with this film. Again, I can't wait why but I hope you enjoy it! I can't wait to see it again so I can pick up some clues.

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The Help The Help
Genre: Drama
Released: 2011
Kevin's exclusive video interviews with The Help cast including Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Mary J. Blige, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek and Jessica Chastain

I will never think of pie the same way ever again! If you've read the book, you know exactly what I'm talking about. That moment in the film, which will go unsaid to keep away from spoilers, is a perfect example of being able to find comedy in this unbelievably tough but uplifting story about equality. The Help is easily one of the best and most important films of 2011 including emotionally deep performances from every single cast member. The film is rare in that every cast member shines. Normally, there's one or two particular actors/actresses in every movie that steals the flick but here, every single performance is memorable. I don't think the movie would have been as good, had one of these actresses not been involved. The film also works on both an educational and an entertaining level. For people like me, who weren't alive during this time, you get a realistic taste of the hatred that existed back in Mississippi in the early 1960's. The story takes place right at the start of the civil rights era. I will never understand how people can be so hateful towards someone because of the color of their skin. To see how director Tate Taylor brought this realistic story to life is just a testament to the brilliant world of cinema and its ability to take us back in time to learn about history. While the particular story is fictional, the elements are still grounded in the harsh reality that people faced during these times.

The brilliant cast includes Emma Stone (Crazy Stupid Love, Easy A), Viola Davis (Doubt), Octavia Spencer (Dinner for Schmucks), Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, Lady in the Water), Sissy Spacek (Carrie), Allison Janney (The West Wing) and Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life).

The film is based around the best-selling novel and tells the story of a young aspiring journalist (Stone) who sets out to write a tell-all book about the African-American maids, aka The Help, living in Mississippi in the early 1960's. The maids work in the predominately white homes raising the children and cleaning the house. The issue is that the maids are completely mistreated with horrible racism and bigotry for the most part. There are some households that treat The Help better than others. For example, Octavia Spencer's character, Minny Jackson, works in the horrific household of Hilly Holbrook (Dallas Howard). Hilly won't let Minny use her restroom in the house and actually is developing an act where The Help have to use separate bathrooms all together. Therefore, a separate bathroom is built specifically for the maids. Abileen (Davis) is dealing with the same issue. Minny gets fed up and actually quits Ms. Hilly Holbrook's house and starts to work for the outsider of the town, Celia (Chastain). Celia's husband has no clue that she has hired a maid but wants to impress him with cooking and cleaning. This becomes a massive part later on in the story. Anyways, I'm getting ahead of myself. Stone's character, Skeeter, decides to go against the law and write a tell-all book from the perspective of The Help so that their voices can be heard. First she has to convince the maids to talk and she does that by going to Abileen first, who is obviously scared because she doesn't want to get in trouble. Though, it gets to the point where she gets treated so poorly that she can't help but speak out. You have understand that these women are practically raising the children in these homes. Skeeter is a product of her maid, Constantine, who abruptly left one day. Everyone just wants their voices to be heard and the book is the way to go. There is so much more going on in this film than what I'm talking about here but you'll just have to see it to believe it.

It truly is amazing the balance this film has. While dealing with an extremely serious subject matter, it finds time to entertain and make you laugh as well. The film is by no means a comedy but there are so many classic moments that the maids have together or that Emma Stone has with Octavia Jackson and Viola Davis. They keep the film going at a very serious but light pace that allows you to be entertained while enjoying this extremely uplifting story. There's nothing better than walking out of a film with a big smile on your face.

The Help is such an important film that everyone should embrace. The hateful aspect of that time period should be a reminder that we need to treat every single person on this earth with a great amount of respect regardless of race, greed or gender. As I sat there in that dark theatre, I was just confused that people could be so hateful. The performance that struck that nerve was the character of Hilly Holbrook, played brilliantly by Bryce Dallas Howard. The key to a great villain is the relentless evil nature. Not once do you feel that this character will break and become a good person. I felt the same way about Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight and Christoph Waltz's Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds. Her performance is beyond intense and just horrifying at times. Her villain aspects are not physical but verbal. Her words cut so deep and it's horrible how she treats people. That's the mark of a great performance.

The Oscars are going to love this film. I predict a Best Picture nomination, Best Actress (Viola Davis), Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Jackson), Best Supporting Actress (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Best Song (Mary J. Blige) nomination. Don't let that undermine the other amazing performances from Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, Sissy Spacek and Allison Janney. Every single person delivers but we all know how the Oscars work. Not every person can be nominated.

You will find realism, entertainment and all-around, great story-telling within this film. The Help should be seen by everyone. In fact, they should show it in school when talking about the 60's and racism.

This is not a spoiler because it's just a scene where nothing happens but my favorite shot of the film was the last shot. The shot lasts for about five minutes and it's just so simple and powerful. When you see the film, you will know exactly what I mean.

I give The Help a 4.5 out of 5 because it's proof that great films still exist in Hollywood today.

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30 Minutes or Less 30 Minutes or Less
Genre: Action/Adventure/Comedy
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK Half BDK
Even though 30 Minutes or Less is a massive step down from director Ruben Fleischer's ZombieLand, the film still delivers a good enough mixture of comedy and action to warrant at least a viewing. The strange part is that the comedy element came off as a bit offensive at times. There were jokes flying around that were just so over-the-top that even I was taken aback by them even though the jokes had nothing to with me whatsoever. There's a great balance to comedies where offensive jokes work in the environment of the film but when a joke is so over the top that it actually takes you out of the movie and makes you scratch your head, you have an issue. I love Danny McBride and I think he's one of the funniest people working in the business but some of his dialogue was just too much in this flick. I don't mean to be too persnickety but when you see the film, you'll know the jokes that I am referring to.

The film stars Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland), Aziz Ansari (Funny People), Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder), Nick Swardson (Grandma's Boy) and the man who steals the show, Michael Pena (Observe and Report, Crash).

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this film recently where people are saying the writers and director are wrong for bringing a comedic light to the awful bombing incident in 2003 where a man was forced to wear a bomb around his neck. (The story and complaints can be found here). Yes, there are similarities between that and the story line for 30 Minutes or Less but according to the article, the film makers and writers were "vaguely familiar" with that story and had no intention of making light of that true story. Though, if you look at the elements, it's pretty much the exact same story. A man is forced to wear a bomb around his body and if he doesn't rob a bank in a certain period of time, that bomb will blow up. The persons who strapped the bomb to his body were trying to raise money to have someone killed, much like the film. In the film, Danny McBride's character along with Nick Swardson's character devise plan to raise money to pay a hit man (played by Michael Pena) to kill McBride's father in the film. They kidnap a pizza delivery guy (played by Eisenberg) and strap a bomb to his chest. If he doesn't rob the bank in a certain period of time, the bomb will go off, killing him and anyone around. In real life ,the man who was forced to wear the bomb ending up tragically dying so I can obviously see why the family would be upset about such a movie coming out. Just to re-iterate, this film is supposedly not based around that story but the similarities are staggering.

All that controversy aside, the movie isn't that great to begin with. It's just passable and ok. Some of the jokes really do work and Aziz Ansari literally nails it every time. He just has perfect comedic timing and can make you laugh pretty much by saying anything. Oddly enough though, when I look back on the film, I think about Michael Pena who just completely stepped out of any box he was in and nailed this role. I just find myself laughing when I think about his character.

Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride and Nick Swardson all felt off to me. Eisenberg was way too over the top and the jokes didn't fit his character. He essentially plays the same type of character in all of his films but when he's forced to go out of his comfort zone, you can feel the awkwardness. Don't get me wrong, he's a brilliant actor and should have won an Academy Award for his insanely great performance in The Social Network. He nailed the role in Zombieland. It's just strange to see him using extremely foul language. It just doesn't suit him. McBride and Swardson's dialogue was where the offensive nature of the film came in. I thought their jokes were too harsh and they were way too over the top. The film just felt a bit dirty to me. I almost felt the way Swardson's character felt about McBride. He was too harsh and way over the top. It was a bad feeling of negativity towards a villain. When I watched The Dark Knight, I obviously don't like the Joker as a character but his actions suited his character. There's just a key to playing a villain and it wasn't the way McBride did it here.

As for the action and the intensity, the movie definitely delivers in that department. You definitely get invested in the action and hope that Eisenberg's character can deliver the money so that he can get the bomb off his chest. Oddly enough, there were times where I thought it was going to go off which is the sign of good intensity. The problem is that the movie goes from these good elements to some not-so good elements.

30 Minutes or Less is a solid rental/matinee. If you're looking for a great movie, you won't find it here. It's just a mediocre flick that isn't memorable, hence the 2.5 BDK rating.

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Glee: The 3D Concert Movie Glee: The 3D Concert Movie
Genre: Documentary/Music
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK BDK Half BDK
NOTE: This film was actually SHOT in 3D and is worth seeing in 3D. It actually adds to the experience of the film. No converted 3D garbage here.

While the film is filled with many cheesy moments, it rarely takes itself too seriously and shows how big of an impact the show has on its viewers lives. The flick, which is mainly a concert film, showcases a select few fans whose lives have been changed and completely turned around just by watching Glee. I'll be honest, I started watching the show recently so I could prepare for the film and it definitely resonated with me. I feel that anyone in the world can find a character on this show and relate to an issue they have been through. I almost wish I had a show like this when I was younger and dealing with bullying in middle and high school. That's what so cool about it; this social awareness aspect where people can unite based on the problems they have dealt with. That's what makes the movie so interesting. You get to see how important the show really is. You can make fun of it all you want because the characters are singing and dancing but you can't deny their talent. I just sat there in sheer amazement when Lea Michele took the stage and performance "Don't Rain on my Parade" by Barbara Streisand. It look and sounded amazing in 3D.

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie highlights two dates on a massive 40 stop tour the Glee kids embarked on across the United States, Canada and the UK. The classic songs on the show were sang before over 500,000 screaming fans. Besides making a ton of money, the point of the film was to give fans the chance to see the show if they were not able to make it to the live performance. I read that some of the shows sold out in under two minutes.

The main twelve singing/dancing cast members star in the film including Lea Michele (Rachel), Chris Colfer (Kurt), Naya Rivera (Santana), Dianna Agron (Quinn), Darren Criss (Blaine), Kevin McHale (Artie), Cory Monteith (Finn), Heather Morris (Brittany), Amber Riley (Mercedes), Mark Salling (Puck), Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina), Harry Shum Jr. (Mike Chang). Unfortunately, three of the best stars of the show do not appear in the film, including Jane Lynch (who was shown in the trailers but is non-existent in the film - marketing ploy?, Matthew Morrison and Jayma Jays.

Unlike Justin Bieber's film, Never Say Never, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie is not a documentary. Bieber's film actually told a great flowing story with a strong narrative. While the narrative does exist here, the flow doesn't compare to what Jon Chu did with Bieber's story. This film is more a concert film but the glue holding the concert pieces together is the fans' responses to the television.

Obviously if you're a fan of the show, this movie is going to blow your mind. It has everything you could want, i.e. live performances from the entire cast, funny fan moments and just mind-blowing talent. The talent aspect was the real treat for me. Lea Michele's performance of Barbara Streisand's "Don't Rain on My Parade" was just breathtaking to watch. She was so into it. I felt like I was actually at the concert watching her perform this phenomenal song. That's what makes the theatrical experience great is that the cameras are right up in the faces of the performances and you have a front row seat to the show.

Even I'll admit some of the fan moments were a bit cheesy and felt kind of forced but from what I could tell, the stories were true. I just felt sometimes the film makers were milking these stories too much and some of it felt staged. Again, I have no clue or evidence if anyone of it is staged but some of it felt too good to be true. The point is that you have a smile on your face the entire time.

You can't really review this concert film as a real movie. I will say that if you're a fan of the show, you should definitely check it out in theaters since it's only going to be released for two weeks. I do feel that it does a disservice to the fans to have Jane Lynch in the trailers and for her not to show up in the movie.

I give Glee: The 3D Concert Movie a 3.5 out of 5 because I do feel it's worth seeing in theaters. It's critic proof because the fans are going to see it regardless. I gave it a 3.5 because it does have great heart to it and it's great to see how these characters are changing people's lives.

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Genre: Action/Drama/Sci-Fi
Released: 2011
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a terrifyingly shocking ground breaking piece of cinema that pushes the boundaries of CGI beyond anything you've seen before. Andy Serkis. Yes, that name deserves its own sentence. Serkis is arguably the most underrated actor working in Hollywood today. You may not know his name but you know the characters he has played, i.e. Gollum, King Kong and now Caeser the Ape. Never before have I seen a performance use little to no words yet evoke a brilliant emotional connection from its audience. There is a common misconception that characters like Gollum, Kong or even the characters of the Navi in Avatar, is just simply animation or CGI. That couldn't be further from the truth. The aesthetic used is called motion/performance capture and the actor/actress wears a suit connected to wires and they place dots all over their face. These wires and dots capture the performance of the actor, i.e. everything from his/her eyes blinking to a smile to even the way the person walks. Essentially, the actor is playing the part like he/she normally would except the final product is a computer generated image of that performance.

That performance is then transferred to a computer where a digital version is created based around what that actor had done. Therefore, when you watch those scenes in Avatar where Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana are blue creatures, all of those scenes were really acted out by them with a 3D camera shooting the scene.

Interestingly enough, most film makers don't want the audience to even think about this aesthetic. They want the audience to be so emotionally invested in the characters that it just seems seamless. Personally, I think there is a way to do both. As I sat there and watch the intensely powerful Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a part of me was thinking about the emotional story and the other about how Serkis acted out this part. For me, it added to the experience of the film. The ape that Serkis plays felt so human!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes stars James Franco (Pineapple Express, 127 Hours), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger), John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun, Footloose), Brian Cox (X2, The Bourne Identiy) and Tom Felton (Harry Potter and all 8 films).

If you count Tim Burton's remake of the classic 1968 Planet of the Apes, this film is the seventh Apes movie to come out. I threw on the original film the other day and it still holds up. The writing, ideas and make-up were so far ahead of it's time. I love how this new film is pretty much the exact opposite of the original. Instead of the Apes experimenting on humans, the humans are experimenting on the apes. Some people would argue that this new reboot/orgin flick is a remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, but it's worlds beyond that.

James Franco plays Will Rodman, a scientist who may be on the brink of curing Alzheimers. He is very dedicated to his research because his father (John Lithgow) has a terrible case of the disease. He has developed a new drug called ALZ-112 and has been testing the drug on chimpanzee's. After an unfortunate accident, the project is shut down and the chimpanzees are ordered to put down. One of the chimpanzees, a baby, is not put down and Will takes him home to protect him. After getting attached, he decides to raise him and calls him Caesar. As Caesar grows up, Will realizes that the drug he tested on Caeser's mother has also been passed down to him which makes Caeser insanely intelligent. He learns at quick rates but also becomes increasingly dangerous. One minute he can be the sweetest pet in the world and the next, the scariest. After an accident, the authorities order him to be locked up with other apes, which obviously devastate both Caeser and Will. Though, it is being with the other apes that makes Caeser realize how they are being wronged and that they need to rise up and fight against the humans. He and the rest of the apes prepare for a revolution.

From a technical stand point, this film is brilliant. All of the apes in the film are played by human beings using the performance capture technology. Not once did they use a real chimpanzee which allowed these apes to have human emotions. You can just see the human emotion pouring through their CGI faces. Actors like Richard Ridings (played Buck) and Terry Notary (played Rocket/Bright Eyes) all brought humanistic depth to these apes. The photorealistic creations of these performances are just breath taking and stunning to look at.

Seriously, give Andy Serkis an Oscar now. It's sad and frustrating that some people don't understand the brilliance that goes into this performance. Though, there's a fine line to that argument. Some would say that it's a good thing that people don't know there's a human playing that part. Some would argue that would take away fro the suspension of disbelief for the film because we should be sucked in to the world of the movie. I do see that side but I feel that people can control it and still suspend their disbelief while knowing that a human played that part. Either way, the man deserves a bit more credit than he's received over the years.

The film really does work on a shocking and emotional level. The action scenes are absolutely fantastic, mainly because there is such a great build up to that final sequence. Director Rupert Wyatt, spends a great deal of the film developing these characters. We as the audience completely feel for Caeser and the decisions that he makes. It's all in his face and his eyes. If you've seen the trailers, you know there's a major sequence coming on the Golden Gate Bridge and boy is it intense.

There were bits of the film that I was not a fan of; one of them being Tom Felton's character/performance. I thought he was written to be a bit overly hateful and it just felt off and forced. I didn't really believe his meanness. They should have had him play the good guy in those sequences as a little departure from his Draco Malfoy character. I also felt that the romance between James Franco and Fredia Pinto was a bit understated but that makes sense considering this is Caeser's film. I love both Pinto and Franco but it's almost like you forget they are in it because Serkis' performance is so over powering. There's just a scene where they kiss which felt extremely Hollywood.

The film has a great pace to it and the direction/cinematography is beautiful. I loved the fluidity of the shots, especially when Caeser is swinging throughout the house. The camera work on those sequences was just beyond me. Wyatt did a fantastic job. I even love the earlier sequences with Caeser when it looked like the camera was off the shoulder and documentary-style looking.

I'm a big fan of the fact that they actually used that creepy music from the trailer in the actual film. I always wish movies would use their trailer music and they hardly ever do.

Rise of The Planet of The Apes doesn't come without flaws but it's a darn good re-boot and contains some of the most insane CGI you have ever seen. It's a gorgeous film and I highly recommend it, especially if you're an animal lover, hence the 4 BDKs.

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The Change-Up The Change-Up
Genre: Comedy
Released: 2011
The Change-Up starts off very strong with witty raunchy dialogue from Reynolds and Bateman but slowly turns into a cheesy, formulaic flick. Though, the cheesy formulaic material actually had decent heart. The problem was the film makers decided to use way too many montages and everything became a bit too confusing. There were times where I wasn't able to focus on the comedy aspect of the film because I had a hard time figuring who was who. The joke of the film is that the two leads have switched bodies but there were times where I would be looking at Bateman forgetting that he was Reynolds. While my brain was processing this confusion, I would miss a joke or two. That confusion came from the writing. There were also way too many jokes repeated. It was if they were just trying to fill time.

The film stars Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Horrible Bosses), Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder, The Green Lantern), Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy, Cowboys & Aliens) and Leslie Mann (Funny People, Knocked Up).

Yes, this is a familiar story with the main difference being the vulgarity of the script. This time around, we have the "Freaky Friday" story with nudity, bad language and some violence. Jason Bateman's character is married with three children. He is a lawyer and rarely has time to even be intimate with his wife. His life revolves around waking up at 3am to change his baby's diapers and working. He claims to have missed out on his 20's because he married his high school sweetheart. His best friend, played by Ryan Reynolds is the exact opposite. Reynolds has zero responsibilities, no kids and barely has a job. He sleeps with multiple women on a weekly basis but has no real connections with them or his father. His father, Alan Arkin, has tried to re-kindle their relationship but Reynolds wants no part of it. One night, Reynolds and Bateman go out for a baseball game and talk about how they wish they had each other's lives. They both end up going to the bathroom in a magic fountain. When they wake up the next morning, Bateman has become Reynolds and Reynolds has become Bateman. They still look the same but their minds have been switched. Now, they must live out each other's lives until they can figure out how to switch back.

The movie starts off very strong. The laughs were hitting very hard and Ryan Reynolds has some great one-liners. I found myself thoroughly enjoying myself. Once the actual switch occurs, the movie starts to get a bit confusing. I know the jokes of the film center around the change-up but there were times where I had to think really hard about who is who and this kind of hurt the jokes. There's always something refreshing about an R-rated comedy. It's as if the writers have freedom of speech. They can do and say what they want. Sometimes though, that becomes a curse because the jokes become so raunchy that it almost turns the viewer off. There were a couple of those jokes in film. One scene in particular dealt with a pregnant woman. That's all I will say to stay away from spoilers.

The film then falls into this strange heart felt, montage-filled movie that starts to repeat itself over and over. There was seriously a stretch where the same montage was repeated a couple of times. If Jason Bateman has a character building montage, they had to give Ryan Reynolds a similar character building montage. It just felt overdone. The only difference may be the individual involved in the sequence. I don't mind a film having a little bit of a heart to it but I felt that the movie took an insane tonal shift. It was as if there were two different films going on. The shift from heart felt to raunchy can be done right; see Knocked Up, Funny People, The 40-Year Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers, Bridesmaids). The crossing over in this film felt a bit forced and the entire thing became a cliché.

The performance and chemistry between Bateman, Reynolds and Leslie Mann is great. Regardless of the script going downhill, the actors still over deliver and have fun. Leslie Mann always delivers a great mixture of comedy and drama in her performances. I loved her so much in Funny People.

There's nothing worse than being able to predict jokes before they come. Luckily, this film has a ton of surprises but once we stepped into that heartfelt aspect of the film, the entire thing became cheesy. What's weird is that I actually didn't mind the heart of the film. It just had a weird and predictable flow to it.

I wouldn't run out to see this movie but if you're with your friends and you want to laugh with a crowd, check out the matinee, hence the 3 BDK rating.

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The Devil's Double The Devil's Double
Genre: Action/Biography/Drama
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK Half BDK
Dominic Cooper's performance(s) are better than the overall film. That's too bad considering Cooper's performance is absolutely brilliant. The film itself just falls flat with plot holes, a confusing romance and a made-for-TV style. Until I saw the film, I was unfamiliar with the story of Latif Yahia. I knew of Uday Hussein and his sadistic behavior but I had no idea that a man was forced to be his body double and actually made it out alive to tell the story. Yahia ended up escaping after having multiple assassination attempts on his life. It's sad because it's an amazing story. I just wish better writers and directors were on board to bring this story to an epic light. The movie feels amateurish and the writing just left me scratching my head.

Much like Armie Hammer's brilliant performance in The Social Nework, Cooper played both Latif Yahia and Uday Hussein. According to an article in the L.A. Times, director Lee Tamahori utilized similar techniques. There were some scenes where Dominic Cooper would act with a stand-in and then re-shoot the scene from the other side and there were some scenes where they actually replaced his head. If you saw The Social Network, there were scenes where Armie Hammer would hug his brother. For those scenes, they had an actor stand in named Josh Pence and they would just put Hammer's head on his body. Any actor who can pull off both performances definitely deserves recognition. (I did an interview with Armie Hammer for The Social Network where he defines in detail how he shot his sequences for the Winklevoss Twins .

What's awful is that the film itself doesn't live up to Cooper's brilliant performance. If anything, you should see this movie just to watch his performance but the problems with the film almost hurt the acting job. The screenplay was extremely weak, cheesy and was filled with one too many holes. There was a romance that made no sense, actions from characters that were extremely confusing and the overall tone just didn't work.

This film crosses a very interesting line for me as a film critic. While it portrays Uday Hussein in the most disturbing light possible, which is the point of the film, I found myself disgusted at the violence. I completely understand that Uday was extremely sadistic and one of the worst people on the planet. I just had a hard time watching the majority of his actions in the film including the scenes of Uday with women. I don't know if it was the fact that we were watching events that may have actually occurred or not. The violence was insanely gross and got to the point where I would look away at times. And this is coming from a person who has sat through all of the "Saw" and "Hostel" films. It's weird because I completely understand that the point of the film was to show how horrific of an individual Uday Hussein truly was. Trust me; they get that point across loud and clear. Though, I have hard time sending people to see this movie on a Friday night. It's a massive downer and a very hard film to watch.

The Devil's Double stars Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger), Dominic Cooper (An Education), Ludivine Sagnier (French Actress from Love Crime), Philip Quast (plays Saddam Hussein in the film) and finally Latif Yahia himself also has a small part in the.

For people who may be in the dark about this story, as I was, Latif Yahia (Cooper) was approached by Uday Hussein to be his body double/"bullet catcher" during the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980's. Latif obviously did not want this job but Uday threatened to murder his family if he did not comply with his orders. Latif was forced to undergo surgery and wear false teeth to copy Uday's appearance. Uday would send Latif out for public appearances to keep him from getting assassinated. For Uday, having a double became a sick obsession. At least from the film's stand point, Uday didn't just want the body double to keep himself protected. Latif almost became kind of a toy that Uday could have fun with. He completely disregarded life and family and disposes of anyone or anything that was in his way. The drama in the film comes when Latif falls for Uday's love interest, played by Ludivine Sagnier. Being that Uday is always sleeping with other women, which is mostly done with force, she knew that if she ever betrayed him, he would kill her. Though, Latif could not help his feelings for her and they try and escape together which obviously causes massive issues.

You have to understand that, at least according to the film, Uday Hussein was one of the sickest and most disturbed people on the planet. There are sequences in this film that will shock you to the point of wanting to look away. One sequence in particular that really sickened me was when Uday ordered a woman, on her wedding day, to sleep with him. This scene really showed his power and his sickness. The battle of the film comes from Latif's morals and how he has no clue how to deal with Uday. He wants nothing more than to kill him but he knows that would not end well for him or his family. It's a classic case of "what would you do" if you were in Latif's shoes. Would you give up your life to save your family? That part of the film does work. You see the struggles that this character goes through. That is mainly displayed through Cooper's brilliant performance though. He has to play two characters with two different extremes. That's what it's frustrating because you want this performance to be found in a great film!

With The Social Network, the Winklesvoss Twins were essentially the same. Here, Latif and Uday are insanely different. For one actor to embody both of those emotions is just the mark of a fine actor. Now if the script and direction were as good as his performance, we would have a great film here. That's where the film ultimately fails. The direction was very amateurish and the writing felt so forced. There were just too many holes and characters were taking actions that made no sense. The entire romance triangle felt really cheesy. I know that aspect was true to the story but the writing could have been more complete.

There were times where I was laughing at scenes that I wanted to be serious about. It was just all about the tone of the film. It felt off and something was missing.

The Devils Double receives a 2.5 BDK rating. I recommend waiting for the rental which is unfortunate because Cooper is so good. I just wish the rest of the film lived up to his performance.

***Note Latif Yahia has written three books about his story of becoming Uday's Hussein's body double. The film is based around The Devil's Double. According to, his first book on the subject, I was Saddam's Son was released in 1997 but didn't gain any attention until after 2003.

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Cowboys & Aliens Cowboys & Aliens
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK Half BDK
You know when you're really hungry and you'll eat just about anything? Well, that's kind of how I equate my feelings towards "Cowboys and Aliens?" I would have preferred a filet mignon from the best steak house in the world but all I got was a cheap rubbery steak from the local Denny's. Sure, it tasted ok and filled me up but as I sat there and ate it, all I could think about was that Grade A piece of beef I should have been eating. I'll go home and be full for the night but not really happy with my purchase. You expect Jon Favraeu to deliver that Grade A type of action film. Yeah, Iron Man had its problems but there was a great story (Iron Man) and phenomenal action (Iron Man 2). I cared about those characters and was thoroughly intrigued by the film. With Cowboys amp; Aliens, I left underwhelmed, disappointed and wishing for more.

The problem here isn't necessarily Favreau. It is the script which was written by FIVE different people, i.e. Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Roberto Orci (same credits as Alex Kurtzman), Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby. Anytime you have that many people working on a script, you are bound to have gaps, issues and holes. I think the cliché would be that there are "too many cooks in the kitchen." Well, what happened with this script is loss of intrigue, lack of emotional connection towards any of the characters and just a series of awful one-liners. All Favreau could do was throw his action in the middle and while the action looks cool at times, I felt that was a bit underwhelming as well because there was really no connection to the characters. I guess I had painted a bigger picture in my head for a movie that was combining two of the biggest movie genres into one world. Westerns/cowboy films and sci-fi/alien films are two of the largest genres of films out of there. Westerns have died down over the years but we see a great one come along every once in a while, i.e. True Grit, 3:10 To Yuma, which interestingly enough are both re-makes.

Cowboys & Aliens has a beautiful opening sequence. Our main character, played by Daniel Craig, doesn't say a word and just kicks butt. As he continues throughout the film though, he starts to speak the film's elementary, 2+2=4, dialogue and it sort of ruins his characters awesome nature. I really enjoyed him not saying anything and just beating up bad guys. It was more mysterious and fun to watch. Then Olivia Wilde's character shows up with her dialogue which felt so forced and as if it was being read from a cue card. These lines were so simple and allowed for zero connection to the characters. Every line of dialogue was just a set-up for a later scene that we could see coming. It was beyond predictable.

The film is directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man and Iron Man 2) and stars Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Layer Cake), Harrison Ford ("Star Wars", "Indiana Jones"), Olivia Wilde (House, Tron: Legacy) and Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Iron Man 2).

The flick is based around a graphic novel, written by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, and tells the story of a man named Jake Lonergan (Craig) who wakes up one day in the year 1873 not remembering who he is or how he got there. He appears to be in the middle of the desert somewhere and realizes that he has a strange bracelet on his arm which he cannot remove. After killing three men who try to mess with him, he rides in to town where he gets in to even more trouble. He has no clue who he is or why he's there. Long story short, he gets into a shuffle with a kid named Percy (Paul Dano's) whose father happens to be one of the most feared men in town. Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford) pretty much runs the town and even the law enforcement. Just before Jake and Percy are about to be taken away, he shows up to finish some unfinished business with Lonergan. Though, this all comes to a stop when aliens start to attack the small town and snatch up everyone's loved ones and family. Lonergan and Colonel Woodrow set aside their differences and set out on a mission with a group of other Cowboys to get their loved ones back and to destroy the aliens.

First of all, I do want to say thank you to Jon Favreau for not converting this film to 3D. My guess would be that he had studio pressure to convert the film but decided against it. It's a very dark film, with a lot of the scenes taking place during the evening, and wearing those glasses would have really hurt the experience; much like it did with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. If a film is shot in 3D, I am ok with seeing it in 3D. The problem comes with the post-conversion process. That was a major plus begin able to sit in the theatre and not have to where those glasses.

I know when it comes to action films, the script should be left alone but when you have a film that maybe has 40% action you have to have good substance to keep the audience interested in the story. When the majority of your dialogue are characters saying one sentence ("I don't remember") and obvious references to things that we are already know are going on, you have a problem. There was zero substance or connection to these characters. In fact, Daniel Craig was better and showed more emotion when he wasn't saying anything! I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud at some of the dialogue. Those are moments where I am completely taken out of the film and that's not a good thing. The majority of the script is 2+2=4. It is very text book screenwriting where you can see things being set-up that will be used later on. It was like plugging things into a formula.

Is it a bad movie? The short answer is no. The key words here are underwhelming and disappointing. You expect more from a film called Cowboys and Aliens. The studio and Favreau should have stuck to one writer to keep everything coherent. Once we figure out the plot that they are on a rescue mission, everything else is just boring leading up to the final action sequence, which wasn't all that great. The beginning sequences with Craig are the best part of the film.

There is one scene in particular which happens towards the end, which I won't give away, that really boggled my mind. I won't say what happens in the scene for spoiler reasons but I will say that the scene contains Olivia Wilde and Daniel Craig. It's horribly cheesy and seriously made me laugh out loud. After you see the movie, email me at and we can discuss the scene.

Harrison Ford was not used properly. There is maybe one scene where he was awesome but the rest of the time he was grunting and poorly delivering his bad dialogue. I felt that he was wasted and only put in the film as a name.

There were aspects that I liked. Sam Rockwell is always great and I liked the comedic value his character brought to the film. The action scenes aren't bad. There were some moments where I geeked out and almost did back flips in my chair. The whole idea of the alien ships flying around and grabbing people was pretty crazy. I thought that Daniel Craig delivered a very solid performance and worked the role well.

I feel that Steve-O said it best in the movie Jackass. He has that line where he talks about how it's always worse when your parents are disappointed in you than when they are mad at you. I am just disappointed in the film. This is coming from a film geek, nerd and fan boy. The geek in me wanted to shed nerd tears during the action sequences. I love Jon Favreau. I loved Iron Man, Elf, Swingers, Made and pretty much everything he's been in. The guy is great and knows great movies. This movie just fell short of my expectations. It's as if there was a pulse but the heart wasn't pumping enough blood into the movie. There was a great concept but just poorly executed.

My rating of 2.5 out of 5 can go two ways. If you feel the need to see the film in theaters, check out the matinee. If not, check out the rental. Either way, don't spend your hard earned money to see this movie at full ticket price.

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Crazy, Stupid, Love. Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Released: 2011
Crazy Stupid Love is one of the more refreshingly realistic romantic comedies to come out in years. The flick hits beautifully on every emotional level and gives a fresh new outlook on the genre. With a very unpredictable script, the movie keeps you interested all the way through. With an outstanding cast, a great script and fast-paced directing, the film takes you on a journey through three realistic "relationships". We can all find ourselves in one of these relationships and the brilliance of the script is that no matter how old or young we are, we can always learn. Some of my favorite scenes in the film were watching Steve Carell's character acting with Jonah Bobo's character. The father/son dynamic was really interesting and refreshing to see. I loved the idea that a thirteen year old kid could teach his father about love, which like the film, is unpredictable and a heck of a ride.

The film stars Steve Carell (The Office, The 40-Year Old Virgin), Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski), Emma Stone (Easy A, The Help), Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl, The Notebook), Kevin Bacon (Sleepers, Wild Things), Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler, My Cousin Vinny), Analeigh Tipton (American's Next Top Model) and the real star of the film, Jonah Bobo (Zathura).

The film deals with three intertwined love stories and the ups and downs of realistic relationships. Yes, we've seen intertwined love stories before but Crazy Stupid Love had a fresh and unpredictable feel to it. The film starts with the downfall of a marriage. Julianne Moore's character, Emily Weaver, admits to her husband, played by Steve Carell, that she's been cheating and wants a divorce. This is so sudden for him considering they are high school sweet hearts and have two children. He feels like his entire life is turned upside down so he resorts to getting his own place and hanging out at bars drinking and feeling depressed. This is where he meets the ladies man himself, Jacob (Gosling). Jacob is the best at picking up girls at the bar. He makes all of the conversations about the girl he's talking to and always ends up going home with them at the end of the night. Jacob takes Cal (Carrel) under his wing and turns his life completely upside down. Before you know it, Cal is taking girls home from the bar, one of which is played by the hilarious Marisa Tomei. Though, he still longs for his ex-wife, even though she's seeing another man, played by Kevin Bacon. While all of this is going down, Cal's son (Bobo) is in love with their baby sitter (played by Tipton). Also, Jacob ends up finding a girl whom he falls for but is scared considering he hasn't ever settled down. All three of these relationships impact each other and intertwine throughout the movie, hence the title, Crazy Stupid Love.

Steve Carell is the perfect actor when it comes to displaying deep human emotion and making you laugh at the same time. One of the aspects that really drew me to his character was the use of his eyes. There are times in this film where he wears all of his emotions in his eyes. Whether it be the scene where he Julianne Moore is admitting that she's cheating on him or when he's having a heart to heart with Ryan Gosling (notice that his eye is red). I just really felt for his character and wanted him to continue to fight to get Moore's character back.

The relationship with Carrel and his son in the film, played by Jonah Bobo, was fantastic and added such a unique angle. Normally, you see parents giving children advice on their love life but not the other way around. It wasn't that the kid was just sitting down and talking to Carell's character. These were very realistic moments and you could tell he was hurt by his parents being split apart. He's also dealing his own love related issues. The performance Bobo gave was absolutely fantastic and extremely realistic. I feel that most young teenagers go through a time like that. I remember when I had a crush on my babysitter, growing up. There's always that moment where you feel like the babysitter thinks you're just this young kid even though there's only a three or four year age difference. I remember that I used to act like I was the tough kid and like I could take care of myself. There were great scenes where the babysitter would show up and Bobo's character would talk about the fact that he could take care of himself. The film really resonated with me on that and every level.

Performance-wise the film is an easy A; no pun intended. Every character and actor brings something unique to the table. Normally, in these romantic comedies, we deal with a major issue of predictability and that element was not here this time around. There was a great element of refreshment and surprise. I felt that writer Dan Fogelman (Tangled, Bolt) had watched a ton of romantic comedies over the years and knew what audiences were going to suspect. There are some great twists and turns plus you will think the movie is going to end a couple of times and it doesn't.

As a film nerd I have to point that the film has some great cinematography. There is one particular shot, which we've seen before but rarely in a romantic-comedy, where Steve Carell's character first starts stepping up his game and talking to women. The shot pans throughout the bar, without cutting, and we see Carell at different locations in the bar talking to different women. It was a very fluid and seamless shot but also very effective. There are a couple of those throughout the film and they were great aesthetic elements to the movie.

Personally, this is one of my favorite films of 2011. Will it be up for an Academy Awards? Probably not but anytime a film affects me on a comedic and emotional level, I am very glad that I saw it. This movie did that and more. I have a gigantic smile on my face right now while writing this review. There were just so many great elements to the film whether it is the emotional arc of Ryan Gosling's character or the hilarious witty dialogue to even the smaller characters like Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei. I highly recommend seeing the film, hence the 4.5 BDK rating.

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The Smurfs The Smurfs
Genre: Animation/Comedy/Family
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK Half BDK
The Smurfs is a mostly an uncomfortably cheesy, formulaic, messy, message-driven animated film that occasionally makes you laugh and delivers a tolerable performance from Hank Azaria. Saying this movie is not as bad as I thought it would be can be taken in both a negative and positive light. I was expecting, based on the trailers, a train wreck of a flick. While, seventy-five percent of the films turn out that way, the rest delivers mild laughs that the kids will definitely enjoy. It is sad though when a cat who doesn't speak, essentially steals the entire film. Hank Azaria, who plays Gargamel, does a fantastic job as the villain, bringing the only good light to the film. It was Azaria's over-the-top self-aware performance that added a special wink to the story. The problem is that anytime Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays (who looks just like Anna Farris) are on screen, the film goes down this uncomfortably cheesy path that made me want to cringe.

Do you remember that film Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood? Well, there was that great moment that happened throughout the movie where Kenan Ivory Wayans would pop out and yell, "Message!" The spoof being that a lot of films try to shove messages down your throat. The metaphors that The Smurfs takes in trying to compare Neil Patrick Harris' character's caring of the Smurfs to the father his character will become when his wife has a baby, was just shoved down your throat. I don't understand why that message would be in the film when it's a kid's movie. It's more of a message for adults and it goes completely over the top. There were so many awful moments where Jayma Mays would be looking at Neil Patrick Harris' character and smiling while he was caring for the smurfs.

The Smurfs is being released in 3D but you should note that only about twenty percent of the film is worth seeing in 3D. From the looks of it, director Raja Gosnell, created the 3D world for the animation sequences and shot the live action sequences in 2D. I found myself taking my glasses off many times during the live action sequences because there was hardly any blur and I didn't want to get a headache.

The film stars Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, M.D., Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle), Jayma Mays (Glee, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family, Four Brothers) Hank Azaria (voice of Moe on The Simpsons) and the voices of Anton Yelchin (Charlie Bartlett, Star Trek) Jonathan Winters, George Lopez (The Spy Next Store, Balls of Fury), Katy Perry (film debut), Jeff Foxworthy and Frank Welker, whose character Azrael the cat, steals the entire movie.

As the movie opens, we are guided through a narration by Narrator Smurf about the gorgeous and colorful Smurf village. If you're like me and haven't read the comic books by Peyo or even seen the 80's cartoon, they give a little background on the Smurfs. There are currently 100 Smurfs, including ninety-nine guys and one girl, named Smurfette. They all answer to Papa Smurf (Winters). One day, as they prepare for the Blue Moon in Smurf village, the evil Gargamel (Azaria) finds a way to their village. This causes a panic and six of the Smurfs including Papa Smurf (Winters), Smurfette (Katy Perry), Grouchy Smurf (Lopez), Clumsy Smurf (Yelchin) and more, go down a wrong path which leads to an open portal. As they try and escape Gargamel, they jump in the portal and end up in New York City. Gargamel and his cat, Azrael follow the Smurfs to the city. There, they try to find a way back and they seek the help of two humans, Patrick (Harris) and Grace (Mays). Patrick and Grace are married and getting ready to have their first child and Patrick is working on getting a promotion for his job. The movie turns into one gigantic message about parenthood and how dealing with these Smurfs will help him with his fatherly duties once the baby is born.

That concept is not bad but it's all in the execution. If you want the audience to walk away with a message, don't overdo it. If you beat us over the head with your message, we're gong to get tired of it. That's not even the biggest problem with the film. There were so many uncomfortable moments where I just wanted to cringe. Also, how many times are we going to see physical humor where people are hit with things or fall over? Why is that still funny?

The product placement in this film really disturbed me. It got to the point where I was more focused on the advertisement in my face for "Blu-Ray DVD's", tickets for "Blue Man Group," Sony Vaio Computers or even "Hello Kitty", than the actual film. I understand that by putting these products in the film, it can help cut down on costs but when it starts to affect the artistic value of the film, you have a problem. You could tell the placement was forced and it was on screen for way too long. I understand the Sony computers placement considering it's a Sony film and they would want their computers there. The rest I had a problem with though.

There is a scene in the film that is easily one of the worst scenes I have ever watched. The sequence deals with Neil Patrick Harris playing Guitar Hero with the Smurfs. It was horrifically cheesy, over acted and just downright annoying. There was this awful camera that was connected to Harris' guitar and it would look up at his face as he tried to jam out. The problem with the film is not Neil Patrick Harris or the actors, it's the material they are given. I think Neil Patrick Harris is a fantastic actor and absolutely loved him in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.

Personally, I feel that kids deserve better and there are much better films out there, i.e. Pixar (Finding Nemo, Toy Story) and Dreamworks Animation (Kung Fu Panda). Those are films where the messages are there but very subtle. They also have great scripts. The voice acting in this film wasn't all that bad. That was a big positive. Katy Perry was unrecognizable to the point where I had no clue she was even in the film. Anton Yelchin was great as Clumsy Smurf. Though, Hank Azaria steals the entire movie.

If you must take your kids to see it, check out the 2D version. Though, I would wait for the rental if you can, hence the 1.5 BDK rating.

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Captain America: The First Avenger Captain America: The First Avenger
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
Released: 2011
NOTE: See the film in 2D. The film was shot in 2D and then post-converted and completely ruins the gorgeous cinematography and action. It looks way too dark and murky.

It has come to the point where I may have to start bringing Advil with me to the cinema. Please stop with the post-conversion 3D! If you shoot a movie in 2D and release it in 3D, you are scamming the audience. If you expect people to pay an extra three or four dollars, take the Michael Bay/James Cameron approach and actually shoot your flick in 3D. Headaches ensued during my viewing of this film much like they did during the latest Harry Potter flick. If a film is not shot in 3D, it's not intended for your eyes to compute. Plus, it makes the film extremely dark reducing the gorgeous cinematography making it harder to watch the action sequences. Recently, Michael Bay completely restored my faith in films actually shot in 3D. He created a beautiful depth of field where you felt like you were looking into a world of action. I could seriously take my glasses off during "Captain America" and see sequences that were completely visible without the glasses. You may be saying to yourself, "why do you keep talking about the 3D? Just to get the review already!" Well, that would be fine if the film wasn't intended to be in 3D. Director Joe Johnston (Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Jumanji) shot the film with the intension of converting it into 3D. Therefore, that is an aspect of the film itself and its just atrocious. If you see this film, make sure you go to the glorious 2D digital projection theatre.

I was very excited for this film for many reasons. The trailer was fantastic and I've been a big fan of Chris Evans since Not Another Teen Movie, which I feel is one of the most underrated comedies of all time. The "Forty-Six and Two" song by Tool in the trailer also helped with my expectations. To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed. We have been so overloaded with super hero films this summer and I felt this should have been released a bit earlier because it's gotten to the point of over saturating. Though, after seeing Green Lantern, any super hero film is a gift to us. While the action and cinematography in Captain America were gorgeous, the film's pacing was horrendous and the overall movie had such a cheesy vibe to it. I get that the comics had a corny aspect to them but my issue came with the romance, which was forced and had gigantic plot holes. One of the biggest issues with the flick was the lack of charisma from Chris Evans. I understand that he wasn't supposed to be over the top but I just wanted a little bit of personality to shine through.

Captain America: The First Avenger stars Chris Evans (Sunshine, Fantastic Four, Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black, No Country for Old Men), Dominic Cooper (An Education, The Devil's Double), Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, Lord of the Rings), Stanley Tucci (Lucky Number Slevin, The Devil Wears Prada), Hayley Atwell (The Duchess, Cassandra's Dream) and Sebastian Stan (Black Swan, Hot Tub Time Machine).

The film tells the story of the First Avenger, Captain America and takes place in the 1940's during World War 2. Steve Rogers (Evans) is a ninety-eight pound asthmatic who has tried out for the Army multiple times and consistently gets rejected. All Rogers wants is to prove that he can fight for his country. This all changes when he meets Dr. Abraham Erskine (Tucci) who has developed a special "super soldier" serum that could change Rogers' life forever. Erskine just needs to convince Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) that Rogers is right for the job. After a grenade test, Rogers is approved and undergoes the experiment coming out as the perfect soldier, i.e. perfectly muscular, fast, efficient and of course, good looking. Now, after a rescue mission where he proves himself, Captain America (Evans) develops a team to destroy the evil Red Skull (Weaving) before he destroys the world.

One of the cooler aspects of the film was seeing the beginning of the Avengers. I really enjoyed seeing Howard Stark (played by Dominic Cooper). Howard Stark, the father of Tony Stark (or as we know him, Iron Man) plays a very central role in creating the suit and shield for Captain America. For someone like me, who hasn't read the comic books, it's these story ties that are insanely interesting to watch.

Director Joe Johnston did a fantastic job of recreating the 1940's with gorgeous cinematography and beautifully choreographed action sequences. Anytime you have Captain America rolling around taking out Nazi's, the movie really did shine. The use of the famous "Captain America" shield was definitely and I shed a few nerd tears during those action sequences. Anytime those scenes occurred, I was doing back flips in my seat. That is essentially what saves the entire movie.

The fascinating aspect of the film is how they shrank down Chris Evan's body to play these skinny scenes. Yes, there were times where they put Evan's head on a skinny person's body but Evans said he wanted to play these scenes. He would act out these shots and they would shrink his body in post-production. Some real work went into shooting these sequences and it looks fantastic. I just wish Evans' performance was as fascinating as the technology.

The rest of the film is a cheesy relationship between Rogers and Peggy Carter (Atwell). This relationship felt forced and horrifically cheesy. There would be massive leaps in their relationship and there was no feeling. If you look at Iron Man, the building relationship with Stark and Pepper Pots works. I love the teases they throw at us. For this film, I just had an issue with how quickly things moved and I didn't feel it.

The entire movie felt off balance. There was just something weird about the pacing where I had a hard time with my suspension of disbelief. I was being constantly thrown out of the film. It would move fast, and then slow. There was just something off and I feel that had to do with the screenplay. The dialogue isn't bad at all but I felt the acts didn't fit right together. There was no even flow.

Captain America: The First Avenger is no where near a bad super hero flick. If you want one of those, you can check out "Green Lantern" or Ang Lee's The Hulk. The film is a solid effort but just falls a bit flat of my expectations. I didn't really feel for the characters. There are some very solid performances from Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci and Dominic Cooper. To this day, I still feel that Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man are the two best Marvel films to date.

Overall, I do recommend seeing the film for the beautiful action sequences. Stay away from the 3D theaters and see it in beautifully vibrant digital 2D. I recommend a matinee viewing, hence the 3 BDK rating.

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Friends with Benefits Friends with Benefits
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK BDK Half BDK
I think it would have been hilarious had Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman made a funny cameo in this film as a little nod to the similarity. Both films were shot around the same and neither one stole the idea from the other but you know most people are going to be comparing the two. That would have been a great nod to the joke in my opinion. Friends with Benefits is a smart, cleverly written, raunchy comedy that starts off strong but becomes the film that it's making fun of the entire time. There are multiple jokes throughout the film about how bad Hollywood romantic comedies are. Though, as the film goes on, it starts to hit all of those clichés that they were making fun of. I'm sure that was the point, to prove that Hollywood love stories are the best, but I just felt it was a bit of a cop out. Regardless of how I feel about the ending, the movie was filled with surprising heart, great chemistry and some great performances from the supporting cast including Richard Jenkins and Patricia Clarkson. I have to hand it to Justin Timberlake. The guy has proved time and time again that he's easily one of the most talented persons working in Hollywood today. He can act, sing, dance, etc. It truly is amazing to watch his talents and he's still young! He really hits a great dramatic level in this film with the father/son relationship. Director Will Gluck (Easy A) did such a fantastic job at balancing out the humor and drama.

The film stars Justin Timberlake (Alpha Dog, The Social Network), Mila Kunis (Black Swan, Meg from Family Guy), Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island, Easy A), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, Stepbrothers), Jenna Elfman (Dharma and Greg).

Yes, you have already seen a film exactly like this earlier this year; No Strings Attached. In fact, No Strings Attached was originally going to be titled Friends with Benefits but they found out this film was already in the works. While the films have similar premises, they are completely different. While I enjoyed both films, "Friends with Benefits" had more heart and felt more real to me. I felt the chemistry in both movies but there was something about the banter between Timberlake and Kunis that really worked. If you haven't already figured the film out based on the title, it centers around two people who try to have a "sex-only" relationship without feelings. We all know that it's impossible because one of the people eventually falls for the other and things get awkward. Dylan (Timberlake) has just moved from L.A. for a job, set up by Jamie (Kunis). Jamie is a head hunter and helped Dylan get a gig as Art Director at GQ magazine. They start hanging out and make a pact that they will have sex but there will be no feelings. The ironic aspect is that the first night they have sex, they are watching a movie and ragging on how cheesy romantic comedies are. Obviously, this won't work and they start falling for each other.

Besides the obvious raunchy-nature of the flick, I enjoyed the emotional side of the story. Some of my favorite scenes of the film were watching Timberlake converse with his character's father (played by Richard Jenkis) or watching Kunis converse with her character's mother (played by Patricia Clarkson). Both parents have issues and it is these issues that are reflected in their children. It was these scenes that really helped us understand the characters. The relationship between Timberlake and Jenkis was particularly deep because Jenkis' character is dealing with Alzheimer's.

You probably are wondering why I'm bringing up the emotional aspects in a raunchy R-Rated sex comedy but I really do feel that there is more to this film than what the trailers lead you to believe. But don't get me wrong, the movie is raunchy and filled with sex. There are plenty of disgusting dialogue moments and plenty of gratuitous sex scenes between Timberlake and Kunis. In fact, they might have been naked more than they were clothed. These scenes are shot very well and will definitely be worth the money for fans of the two stars. I didn't think the scenes were too over the top and seemed very natural.

Woody Harrelson steals this flick, hands down. He had some of the funniest, most outrageous lines of dialogue. I just loved every time he was on camera and he had great chemistry with Justin Timberlake.

Anytime a film works both on a comedic and emotional level, I'm in. The movie does have a ridiculously cheesy ending but other than that, I quite enjoyed myself and recommend you see the film, hence the 3.5 BDK rating.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
Released: 2011
4 out of 5 - A solid film but not the masterpiece I expected!

Note: Do not see the film in 3D or IMAX. The film was shot in 2D and then converted later on to 3D. David Yates did not shoot the film in IMAX format (70mm), which means the IMAX screen will have black bars on top and bottom. See the film in glorious 2D digital projection.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a very solid ending to the series but not the masterpiece I had hoped and waited for. Ten years ago, I sat down in my seat at the AMC theatre in Hampton, VA and began my Harry Potter experience. I was hooked from that point on and for the next ten years, I followed this amazing story having not read any of the books. I wanted to experience the film with fresh eyes and enjoy the twists as they came in the film. As the films went on, they became darker and for the most part, better. Personally, after seeing all eight films, I still feel that Alfonso Cuaron's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the best of the series. 'Azkaban' felt the least rushed and most emotional of the series. That film was the game-changer of the series and has stuck with me for years.

So the ultimate question is whether or not the ten year wait was worth it? The answer is barely yes. Am I happy that sat through all the films? Yes. Do I wish the last film had more of an emotional punch? Yes. Besides, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I have thoroughly enjoyed every film in this series. My favorite aspect of every film has been the magic. I loved the little things, i.e. the moving pictures on the walls at Hogwarts and of course, the different spells. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is second favorite of the series mainly because of the amazing Triwizard Tournament. That was awesome!

That being said, we have waited eight films to see the battle between Harry and Lord Voldermort. That's what the entire series was leading up to and to tell you the truth, I was a bit disappointed. While that sequence was shot well, I just expected it to be a bit more epic. I wanted to feel Harry's rage and emotion during that sequence and I didn't. As a standalone movie, the action and intensity is engaging. Though when you look at the film in the overall series, it didn't have that masterpiece feel that I expected. I felt that Yates rushed the film and the emotional impact of these important scenes wasn't fully there. I actually enjoyed the battle at Hogwarts sequence more than the final battle between Harry and Lord Voldermort. There was definitely emotion but I wanted to cry at the end. I wanted to feel that I was part of something special and I was seeing the end of era. While that might be the case, I left the film feeling a bit underwhelmed. It's tough to review a film like this because you have your expectations and you have the film itself. If you set all expectations aside, which is impossible, you will see a solid film with great action, twists, turns and phenomenal acting. Just make sure you don't see the film in 3D.

The best way I can equate the rushed feeling is the feeling I had at the end of the sixth film where Snape killed Dumbledore. Everyone knew that scene was coming and it came and went so quickly that there was no feeling. The scene occurs quickly, we find out that Snape is the Half-Blood Prince and the movie just ends. It was so anti-climactic! I felt many of the scenes in this film were handled in the same way. The movie is obviously the climax of the series but didn't feel that way. I wanted that big bang of emotion and I didn't get it.

The film stars Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermoine Granger), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Alan Rickman (Die Hard, Sweeney Todd), Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges, The English Patient), Helana Bonham Carter and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom, and for me he is the real star of this film. He is truly a bada**!).

The story continues from Part 1 where Harry (Radcliffe), Hermoine (Watson) and Ron Weasley (Grint) are searching for the horcrux's, which are objects that hold parts of Lord Voldermort's soul. Voldermort, a dark wizard, breaks apart his soul into pieces so that he can remain immortal. If these horcrux's are collected and destroyed, Voldermort (Fiennes) would no longer be immortal meaning that Harry would finally stand a chance. Part 2 of the "Deathly Hallows" is Harry's path to collect and destroy the final horcrux's. Just a reminder that the Deathly Hallows are three of the most powerful and dangerous objects in the world and if they were to fall into Voldermort's hands, Harry wouldn't stand a chance. The three objects are The Invisibility Cloak, The Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand.

Make sure you stay away from the 3D version of the film. David Yates (who also directed Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows Part 1) shot the film in 2D and the film was then converted to 3D in post-production. Part 1 was originally supposed to be released in 3D but they weren't happy with the post-conversion and needed more time. The majority of the film is dark which make the 3D even dark and murkier. I found myself removing my glasses and noticing scenes that didn't even need the 3D glasses. I will say that the computer generated sequences looked decent in 3D but the rest of the scenes will give you a headache. Also, the film was not shot in IMAX and since the 3D is pointless, your best bet is to see the film in regular glorious digital 2D.

The film is definitely worth seeing in theatres. The action sequences are fantastic and the film is extremely intense. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time as every twist and turn hit the screen. That is what made the film worth seeing. This is the end of the series and they throw a lot at you in this film. The biggest problem is that everything felt a little bit rushed.

There were some very cheesy and forced scenes as well. I don't want to give too much away but there were two kissing scenes that felt so out of place. I also wasn't a fan of the very last scene. The idea was great but the make-up was not realistic. You will know what I mean when you see the film.

I wasn't a fan of the film's score. I was hoping that Alexandre Desplat (composer for The King's Speech) would pack a little more of an epic punch. Obviously, the classic Potter theme, composed by John Williams, is great! That is one of the greatest themes of all time along with Williams' theme for Jaws, E.T., Jurassic Park, Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

Listen, the movie is good; very good. It's just not the masterpiece of an ending I was looking for. The key word is that I felt a bit underwhelmed. As an overall film, I do recommend seeing it in theaters for the epic action sequences, hence the 4 BDK rating. I still have a soft spot for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Just a little side note; this film is not for kids. It actually felt kind of cool to sit there as a twenty-seven year old, knowing that I grew up around this franchise and I was seeing it come to a close. Most classic franchises happened before my time but I can say that I experienced this one.

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Horrible Bosses Horrible Bosses
Genre: Comedy
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK BDK Half BDK
The entire movie is hilarious but if the filmmakers isolated the twenty minutes of screen time that Jennifer Aniston has, it still would be the worth the entire price of admission. Wow is all I can say for her part! Horrible Bosses is a hilariously refreshing raunchy adventure that reminded me of the excitement I felt during the first Hangover. You have three average guys thrown into an extraordinary situation and the funny part is watching how they deal with it. Regardless of how nuts the film gets, you can always relate to what these characters are going through. What's crazy is that the idea of the film is so morbid yet I found myself laughing the entire time. There wasn't a second where I actually thought these three normal guys would seriously consider killing their bosses. That's what makes the movie so funny though. Bateman plays the straight man who reacts to the hilarity that ensues between Day and Sudeikis who deliver some very classic comedic moments. Plus, the film contains one of the greatest out-of-the-box performances I have ever seen!

The film stars Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, The Switch), Jason Sudeikis (Hall Pass, SNL), Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Jennifer Aniston (Friends, The Break Up), Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects, American Beauty), Colin Ferrell (In Bruges, Phone Booth) and of course, Jamie Foxx as "Mother F***** Jones!"

The idea behind Horrible Bosses centers around three employees who hate their bosses so much they devise a plan to have them killed. Nick (Bateman) has been working for the same company for eight years, working on a certain promotion and the only thing standing in his way is his ridiculously mean boss, Dave Harken (Spacey). When the promotion is up for grabs, Harken takes the job himself. This puts Nick over the edge. Kurt (Sudeikis) had the perfect gig for a while because he loved his boss (played by Donald Sutherland). After his good boss has a heart attack, his boss' drug dealing son, Bobby Pellitt (Farrell) takes over, making Kurt's life miserable. The only oddball is Dale (Day) whose ridiculously good-looking boss (played by Aniston) is constantly sexual harassing him, which seems ok to everyone else around him but Dale is an engaged man and won't put up with it. They all decide they want to kill their boss and seek the help of a man named "Mother F****** Jones (Foxx) to help them out. Let's just say that things get a bit crazy.

The formula is quite simple. You take three normal guys, put them in a chaotic situation and let them react. Hilarity will ensue. This is the same formula that helped make "The Hangover" work. What made that film so funny were the reactions these normal characters had to these extreme situations. This time around though, the normal guys have the idea to kill their boss. Though, if you watch the scene closely, when they come with the idea, you can tell they are just dumb and scared about it as anyone would be. That's what makes it funny. You don't see evil in these characters' eyes. You see that they are scared and when they are scared, it gets funny.

The movie is thrilling and funny at the same time. There are so many twists and turns like a crime drama and I love seeing that in comedies. If you can keep an audience on the edge of their seat and make them laugh, you have found the perfect balance. Director Seth Gordon (The King of Kong - great movie if you haven't seen it), really orchestrated a well-paced comedy with great performances.

The bosses are absolutely classic. Let's start with the real star of the film, Jennifer Aniston, who just absolutely murders in this role. I was literally gasping for air in shock anytime she said something in this film. Everything that came out of her mouth was absurdly raunchy and hilarious. Moving on to Kevin Spacey who just plays a despicable human being who you want to hate. You always feel Jason Bateman's pain in the film as he has to deal with this scumbag. They did a good job of turning us against these bosses, except for Jennifer Aniston but that becomes the joke. Colin Farrell's character is one of the worst human beings on the planet. He does cocaine and brings strippers and hookers to work on a daily basis. He has no regard for human life. Performance-wise, all three of these actors nailed it. The real shocker is Jennifer Aniston though. I was not prepared to see her act this way!

The movie does have some throwbacks. There are times where you think to yourself, will these characters actually go through with this? That kind of took me out of the film at times but when it gets funny, it's really funny. Charlie Day can say anything and make me laugh. Just the sound of his voice cracks me up. He could seriously read stock reports to me for two hours and I would laugh. Bateman plays the perfect straight man who reacts and makes you laugh.

There are so many classic dialogue scenes that happen between the guys and I think people are going to be quoting these scenes for a while. I highly recommend seeing this film with a large crowd, hence the 3.5 BDK rating.

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
Released: 2011
Open Cliffs Notes for Review
Director Michael Bay has created one of the greatest visual and most-action packed experiences I have ever had in a theatre. Is the film "great" by Academy standards? If you're looking for brilliant plot structure, great acting and a coherent story-line, you will not find that here. The film made for people enter a theatre, sit down and have their minds blown for two and a half hours. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is an experience, much like riding a roller coaster. You have fun while you're on it but you're not emotionally connected to it. Imagine that feeling you have when riding a coaster for two minutes and imagine having that same feeling for two and a half hours. Bay has finally created a film that is actually worth seeing in 3D. 99.9% of the time, I completely despise 3D but Bay did something very special here. He owns the screen here with immersive action that has so much depth field you will feel like you're right there with the transformers. It was as if I was looking into a box instead of just staring at a flat screen. You could see the space and the depth of the action. When I think of depth of field, I always think back to that classic shot at the beginning of Citizen Kane when a young Charles Foster Kane is outside playing in the snow with his sled. His mother and father are greeted by a visitor and there's that epic shot where the mother, father, visitor and Charles are all in deep focus even though they are distributed both throughout the foreground and the background. Now, before you go crazy, I'm not comparing Orson Wells' brilliance to Michael Bay. I am just simply pointing out that while watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 3D, I had that same feeling where I as experiencing a new depth of field. Bay seriously mastered the aesthetic and improved upon what Cameron created for an Avatar for a completely immersive experience.

I've gone on record many times with my negative thoughts on 3D and how it's completely unnecessary and how it dims the beautiful image on screen. There have been a few films over the years where the 3D did enhance the experience, i.e. Avatar, Jackass 3D and Never Say Never. Those were films that weren't necessarily great movies but the 3D ticket price was worth it. Every other film that has come out in 3D has just been a waste, whether it be films that were converted from 2D or animated films where the beautiful vibrant animation was destroyed by the dim sun glasses. 99.9% of the time, 3D is used to raise the ticket price for a bigger box office. Transformers: Dark of the Moon contains the greatest visual effects I have ever seen in a film. It got to the point where my brain just couldn't handle it anymore. Everything from the slow-motion transformations to the epic hour-long ending action sequence is worth seeing on the big silver screen. I honestly found myself shedding nerd tears numerous times throughout this film.

If you're looking for a well-structured, well-acted film like The Godfather, you will not find it here. There are just certain movies you have to go into and just have fun. This is a perfect film to escape to. Let me put it this way, if a film studies class were to break this down for acting, storyline, plot points and dialogue, it would get an F. There is just way too much going on in the film and it's very hard to keep with all the characters. Sometimes characters (mainly Patrick Dempsey) disappear for twenty or thirty minutes and you forget they are in the film. There are laughable sequences of dialogue and some very bad acting. Honestly though, as I was sitting there watching the film, all of those negative qualities were forgotten because the action was so epic. The last hour of the film is one gigantic action sequence that will seriously blow your mind. In fact, it's been days since I've seen it and I can't stop thinking about it. If you want to break it down, the film itself doesn't work as a whole, at least according to Academy standards, but it is worth every penny to check out in theaters. Michael Bay has created a movie that is pure entertainment. All you have to do is turn your brain off and enjoy.

Is it better than the awful second Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen? The answer is 100% yes. Anytime you have a lead actor (LaBeouf) coming out and talking about how disappointed he is in a film he starred in, you know it's bad. That movie was one of the worst sequels ever with one of the most convoluted plot lines, racist transformers and action that didn't make any sense. It got to the point where the film became so annoying that the action sequences were annoying. LaBeouf has gone on record saying that Revenge of the Fallen had no script because of the writer's strike. He said the script was written on the fly and the geography of the film was totally off. The end of that film at the pyramids was so awful and just felt so overblown and wasted. Transformers: Dark of the Moon has the best action of all three of the films but I still would take the first movie as an overall film.

The cast has a couple of newcomers including Rosie Huntington-Whitely (Victoria's Secret Model replacing Megan Fox), John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, Red), Francis McDormand (Fargo, Burn After Reading) and Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy, Can't Buy Me Love). Of course we have the original cast returning including Shia LaBeauf (Disturbia, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull), Tyrese Gibson (Fast Five, Baby Boy), Josh Duhamel (When in Rome, Ramona and Beezus) and John Turturro (The Big Lebowski). Though, the actors who deserve the most credit are Peter Cullen (voice of Optimus Prime), Leonard Nimoy (voice of Sentinal Prime) and Hugo Weaving (voice of Megatron). They were hands down the best in the film!

The plot is a huge step-up from the second one. The film revolves around the moon landing and how the government covered up the reason we went there in the first place. Following the fictional plot of the movie, the United States went to the moon because a mysterious object crashed there, which happened to be Sentinel Prime (voice of Nimoy). Sentinel Prime was carrying a very important artifact from Cybertron and if this piece ever got into the wrong hands, the whole world could end. Over the last two films, we have learned that the machines' planet, Cybertron was destroyed in the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons and now the Autobots live on earth, helping the government with highly classified missions. This time around, the Autobots must team up again with the humans to stop Megatron and his evil forces from gathering this precious artifact which could end earth as we know it. The human side of the story is the same. We have Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) who was recently dumped by his girlfriend McKeala (Megan Fox) but she has been conveniently replaced by the beautiful Victoria's Secret model, Rosie Huntington-Whitely. They are dating and obviously find themselves in the middle of this war.

The action, visual effects and 3D in this film are worth every penny to see in theaters. Honestly, this is what going to the movies is all about. You get your popcorn, you sit back, you turn off your brain and you get blown away by what's happening on screen. There are so many phenomenally shot action sequences in this film that you will forget about any issues the film may have. Yes, the script is convoluted, there are too many characters and massive plot-holes but none of that matters for a movie like this. You go for the special effects and the action, not the story. Though, I thought the story had a good idea, it just wasn't executed all that well.

There were two sequences that solidified the fact that this movie needs to be scene in 3D. One of which is a sequence where the Decepticons are taking over Chicago and people are running throughout the streets. There are these mind-blowing shots of people running in the foreground while the Decepticons chase them in the background, firing their weapons. Those shots were so epic. Another shot dealt with a sequence where the military were parachuting out of airplanes and flying throughout the city. It was the immersive nature of these sequences that make it worth seeing in 3D. Every aspect of the action is visible on screen. There weren't times where it felt like the camera was all over the place. Everything was set up perfectly for you to experience. You can see every hit, every bullet and every transformation beautifully. The screen really did feel like a 3D environment instead of that normal 2D flat feeling.

The biggest issue I had with the film was that there was way too much going on. I honestly felt like my head was spinning at times. Then Michael Bay would drop in a brilliant CGI transformation and I would be happy again. There is a sequence that happened a little towards the middle of the film that basically took the movie from the slow-moving 5th gear and jammed it into 1st gear. I won't give away the sequence but I will say it has Bumble Bee and Shia LaBeouf's character driving down a highway in an action sequence. Wow is all I can say. I started elbowing the guy next to me because I couldn't handle it anymore.

The film is all over the place and characters constantly go missing and show back up. John Malkovich gives a great performance but just goes missing from the film during the last half. Francis McDormand and Patrick Dempsey were both great but they kept going missing and popping back up. I actually forgot they were in the movie until they popped up again.

You have to see this movie in theaters and check it out in 3D if you get a chance. The last hour of the film has some great depth of field and immersive moments where you feel like you are actually there. There is a sequence where the camera follows a group of parachuters through the city of Chicago. That is where the 3D really kicked in for me. I highly recommend this film. It's not as surprising as the first movie but is world's beyond the 2nd, hence the 4 BDK rating.

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Larry Crowne Larry Crowne
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Released: 2011
Larry Crowne is a safe, funny, warmhearted comedy that reminds you that sometimes being simple is a good thing. Director and star Tom Hanks delivers a very intriguing and hilarious look into the life a middle aged man who loses his job in the middle of a recession. It is through this loss that he finds himself and a better life. You could just tell that Hanks and Julia Roberts had a blast making this film. There are no special effects, just good old fashioned story-telling, which was very refreshing to see. Interestingly enough, coming out this week as well is Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which is the exact opposite of Larry Crowne. While Bay relies heavily on his action and special effects to drive the movie, Hanks relies on story-telling and script to scoot his movie along; no pun intended. They both succeed in their different genres.

Larry Crowne is the type of film that will simply put a smile on your face. The chemistry between Hanks and Roberts is unmistakably perfect. You could tell they have been best friends for years and it just really resonated on screen. The movie almost made me want to go back to college. I kind of missed being in those classrooms, with new classmates and learning. When you're in college as a young guy, you can't wait to get out. You feel that you are there because society tells you that you have to be. Even though Crowne is technically "forced" to go back, you can feel that he genuinely wants to learn.

The film also stars Cedric the Entertainer (The Kings of Comedy), Rob Riggle (The Hangover), George Takei (Star Trek), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Doctor Who), Wilmer Valderrama (That 70's Show), Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad).

The story follows Larry Crowne after he is fired from his job at U-Mart. Crowne (Hanks) has won "Employee of the Month" nine times and is expecting to win once again. Though this time, he is taken by surprise when he learns he is being fired due to the fact that he didn't go to college. Before working at U-Mart, Crowne joined the military and served for twenty years as a cook but does not have a college education. Crowne decides to attend the local community college where he takes a speech class taught by Mrs. Tainot (Julia Roberts). He also takes a class taught by the hilarious Dr. Matsutani (played by George Takai). While attending school, he joins a scooter gang that essentially changes his entire lifestyle. He also starts to fall for his speech teacher, who just so happens to be going through a nasty separation with her husband (Cranston).

There's nothing wrong with a simple, safe, feel-good comedy. Sometimes these are the types of films that make us happy. They commentate on our real life and make us think about what we are doing right and wrong. Hanks' was just so sweet at heart and did a fantastic job of playing the everyday man. Coupled with Julia Roberts, the movie will definitely make you smile.

The issue is that the movie is almost too safe. There's nothing really special or memorable about the film. After a couple of weeks, I probably won't think of the film again. Not that I wasn't entertained by it, I just feel that the film didn't take any chances. Everything is summed up in a nice little bow and rarely shows any of life's consequences.

There are some great scene stealing performances, especially from George Takei and Wilmer Vladerrama. Anytime Takei was on screen, I couldn't help but laugh, mainly because he was laughing the entire film.

I say that Larry Crowne is a strong matinee for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The film doesn't necessarily have any problems and I think it will definitely brighten your day when you leave the theatre. It's a great pick-me-up, hence the 3 BDK rating.

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Green Lantern Green Lantern
Genre: Action/Crime/Sci-Fi
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK
Green Lantern easily goes down as one of the worst super hero films I have ever seen. What a gigantic mess this film is. Joining that list are such classics as Daredevil and Catwoman. The film had absolutely no flow to it and just plain bored me. Normally, Ryan Reynolds' charisma can save any film because he's just so fun to watch. Though, the five writers completely sucked the life out of him. His jokes came off as cheesy and the delivery just felt unnatural and forced. The chemistry between he and Blake Lively was non existent and laughable, especially with the terribly cheesy guitar score behind their sequences. Don't even get me started on the CGI. Green Lantern (approximately $150 million) cost three times the budget of Super 8 (approximately $50 million) and looked pale in comparison. Apparently the CGI looked so bad at one point, two months before the release of the film, the studio had to order $9 million more of special effects, which didn't help the film one bit. Why couldn't they have given that extra money to independent film makers to make original films? Also, while I'm on a negative streak here, the 3D was pointless and awful. It looked decent during the completely CGI sequences in outer space but any scenes that took place on earth looked murky, dim and lifeless. The entire movie can be summed up in one word; lifeless. The only great aspect of the film is Mark Strong.

The film stars Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder, Just Friends), Blake Lively (Gossip Girl, The Town), Mark Strong (Kick-A**, Sherlock Holmes), Peter Sarsgaard (Garden State, Orphan), the voice of Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech, Shine), Angela Bassett (Malcolm X, Boyz N The Hood), and Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy).

Obviously, the film is based on a comic book out of DC comics; the company responsible for Batman and Superman. The story behind Green Lantern is your classic story of a guy reaching his true potential as a super hero. Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is your average good looking bad boy who has yet to succeed in life. He has been living his father's wake for years now and has always walked away from anything good in his life. He lost his father at a very young age and decided to become a pilot just like him. He has managed to mess that career up and also ruin the relationship with the love of his life (played by Lively). We learn at the beginning of the film, during the jumbled mess of exposition, that there are a group of heroes, all alien, that protect the universe from evil. They are called the Green Lanterns and there are a total of 3,600 of them. After the passing of one of the most beloved Green Lanterns Corps, his ring his passed along to the next chosen one. This chosen one happens to be a human being on earth (the first human ever); Hal Jordan, who is obviously the least likely person to have been chosen. At first Hal does not accept this responsibility but when he learns that there is an evil out there that can destroy earth, he decides to step in to try and save the day. And of course, at the same time, learn a life lesson. The Lanterns are headed up by Sinestro (Mark Strong) and Hal receives his training from Tomar-Re (Rush) and Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan).

As the film started and we hear this long exposition from Geoffrey Rush about the Lanterns and how there are 3,600 of them for each "Sector" of the universe, I already found myself getting lost. As the movie went on, it started to make sense but there was just so much plot and so many characters to cover that it just became confusing. The funny thing is that it wasn't the material that was confusing, it was the explanation of the material.

The film has absolutely no flow to it. They should have called Eddie Vedder (yes, I am aware of how awful that joke is but I am leaving it in the review!). As the movie trucks along, we jump from scene to scene with zero connection to any of these characters. Not once did I feel fear, emotion, sadness or even laughter. The film had zero life to it and that is probably due to the fact that there were five screenwriters. Usually two is an issue but when you get five minds working together on a script, there's gonna be a loss in translation. Director Martin Campbell (who directed one of my favorite James Bond flicks (Casino Royale) should have called Sam Raimi, Christopher Nolan or Tim Burton for some pointers. Also, if your CGI takes the audience out of the film and makes them go "Oh that looks fake", you have problem. Breaking the suspension of disbelief barrier is always a bad thing but when you break with bad effects, you have a major problem. For a film that cost $150 million, I want CGI that is realistic.

Ryan Reynolds is usually so much fun to watch. He usually adds so much vibrancy to the a script even if the film feels like it's bombing. He was totally underused in the film and wasn't able to shine; no pun intended. I just felt that he was trucking along and just sat back while this massive mess unfolded.

What the heck was Peter Sarsgaard doing in this film?!? His character was meaningless, pointless and just plain annoying. Every time he was on screen my head started to hurt. Luckily, Mark Strong was great, as he always is.

The chemistry between Blake and Ryan were like two trees just standing there. The dialogue was forced and every moment they shared was cringeworthy.

Stay away from this film and if you absolutely have to see it, stay away from the 3D. There are great super hero movies out there that have deep meaning, great scripts and great acting. Look at The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Spider-Man 2, Thor, etc. There are a lot of films that work and if the script is good and the actors can shine, there can be a good product. I just have a problem watching a film that cost over $150 million to make that goes to waste. That movie could have been used for other projects. Get the script right and use less CGI! Ryan Reynolds suit looked awful! It looked like animated green salmon.

I give this film 1 BDK.

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Mr. Popper's Penguins Mr. Popper's Penguins
Genre: Comedy
Released: 2011
Mr. Popper's Penguins is essentially Liar Liar with penguins. While the movie is filled with cheesy and formulaic moments, Jim Carrey adds in some very funny lines that keep the film going at a fun pace. I found myself laughing-out-loud at many of Carrey's jokes and emotionally connected to the story. What's great is that you can tell Jim Carrey knows this is a cheesy family flick but with these one- liners, he brings the film to a different level. The relationship that he has with these penguins is outstanding and really does work on an emotional level, even though the Penguins are a mixture of live and CGI. If an actor can build a genuine relationship with real and/or CGI penguins, that is a great sign.

The film stars Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Carla Gugino (Sin City, Entourage), Clark Gregg (Thor, Iron Man), Madeline Carroll (Swing Vote), Ophelia Lovibond (No Strings Attached and Nowhere Boy) and Angela Lansbury (Murder She Wrote, Beauty and the Beast).

Keeping with my Liar Liar comparison, Jim Carrey plays a father who is rarely there for his kids. Growing up, Tom Popper (Carrey) also had a non-existent father. His father would travel around the world and rarely see his son. Right before he passed away, he sent Tom presents that would change his life. These presents consisted of six penguins, which Mr. Popper's son accidentally see's one day and thinks they are for his birthday. Considering that Mr. Popper has been a non-existent father, he decides to go along with it to please his son, daughter (Carrol) and ex-wife (Gugino). At the same time, he is about to close a massive deal with his work and obviously these penguins become a bit of a distraction. As the movie goes on, Mr. Popper starts to learn what is truly important in life as he basically turns his apartment in Antarctica.

Yes, Jim Carrey has made some bad films over the years but I would make the bold statement that he's never really been bad in a film. The guy is full of charisma and always lights up the screen no matter how bad the film is. With Mr. Popper's Penguins, you have a formulaic, cheesy family film that isn't anything special but Carrey adds that extra spark you need. There are so many classic one-liners throughout that I am still laughing at while I type this review. It was almost as if he knew the movie needed an extra push so he brings his own brand to the table, whether it be his great Jimmy Stewart impression, his line about Morgan Freeman or his hilarious conversation with his son about sex.

I know a lot of people will probably be annoyed by the character of Pippi (Lovibond) but I found her absolutely hilarious and she has a scene stealing line which made me cry laughing. She play's Popper's assistant and walks around only speaking in words that start with "P."I really looked forward to anytime she was on screen.

Listen, this is not a film that will win any awards and frankly, it will more than likely be forgotten as the year goes on. Though, for the ninety or so minutes that I was in that theatre, I was taken to the magical world of the movies and I enjoyed myself. I recommend seeing the film as a matinee with your family, hence the 3 BDK rating. Oh and Madeline Carroll was absolutely fantastic in the film!

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Super 8 Super 8
Genre: Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Released: 2011
My 2nd 5/5 of the year! GO SEE IT NOW!

My video interviews with director J.J. Abrams, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, Zach Mills, Gabe Basso, Riley Griffiths

Super 8 is a mind-blowing masterpiece that will make you excited to go to the movies again! Do you remember that feeling you had when you walked out of E.T. or Jurassic Park? Well, I know it's been years since you felt it so I would bring a box of tissues because this is movie magic at it's finest. I seriously cried three times during this film and not necessarily because it was sad but because I felt something I had felt in a long time while sitting in those theatre chairs. What writer/director J.J. Abrams (Stark Trek, "Lost", "Alias", "Felicity") has done here is recreated one of those childhood, jaw-dropping, films that will live with me for years. The film will make you feel like a kid again plus you have your own life experiences to bring to the table, which is where the emotional aspect comes to play. Abrams delivers a multi-layered film that bursts with emotion, intensity, action, comedy and just down-right fun.

Super 8 is, so far, my favorite flick of 2011 and I feel that everyone should experience it. Stay away from plot spoilers. As we know with most Abrams projects, secrecy is a massive part of his marketing. Even with Cloverfield, which wasn't even directed by Abrams, the curiosity is what drove people to the theaters. What is this movie? What's it about? After seeing, Super 8, there's nothing more interesting than watching the trailer for the movie and seeing how he tricked the audience.

One of my favorite aspects of Super 8 are the fresh-faced actors. Besides Kyle Chandler, 90% of the cast are relatively unknown at this moment. Yes, Elle Fanning was in "Somewhere" last year but she is still up and coming. It's rare you see that these days, especially in a summer "blockbuster." To be honest, it really helped with the suspension of disbelief. I love Brad Pitt but when I saw Tree of Life(which I enjoyed) recently, I couldn't stop thinking that he was Brad Pitt. The cast consists of Joel Courtney (his first movie), Riley Griffiths (his fist film), Ryan Lee, Gabe Hasso (The Big C), Zack Miller, Elle Fanning (Somewhere) and Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights").

The film is produced by mega-director Steven Spielberg, who like Abrams, used to makeSuper 8 movies when they were kids. It's just amazing to see arguably the greatest living director joining forces with arguably one of the best directors working today and making a film that relates to their own childhood. Not to mention, you get the classic Amblin logo and then the Bad Robot logo back to back. That alone made me shed a few nerd tears. Abrams put it best when he said there's just something fascinating about normal kids being put in an extraordinary situation and watching them deal with it.

With the plot, I am going to be as vague as the trailer. The film takes place back in 1979 and tells the story of six kids who witness, and are involved in, a horrific train accident that changes their lives. The kids are filming a Super 8 movie about zombies near a train track and the accident is captured on their Super 8 camera as they outrun the explosions. There was "something" in that train that is obviously dangerous and this becomes a threat to this small town of about 12,000 people. That is all I will say because you have to experience it fresh like I did. Just now that there is a multilayered story to go along with the great suspense. Joel Courtney plays the lead of the film, Joe Lamb, whose father (played by Kyle Chandler) is the deputy of this small town.

First of all, the train crash sequence is easily one of the most intense sequences of action I have ever seen on screen. That scene literally blew me away to the point where I just had my hand covering my mouth for five minutes straight. I want to go back and watch it again because there was just so much going on in that sequence. Who ever did the sound effects for that scene deserves an Academy Award right now. Also, if you see it a second time, pay attention to how detailed that sequence is. It was all shot on green screen, on a fairly low budget, and looks better than most "big budget" blockbusters you see these days.

Abrams delivers a film that is both emotionally pleasing and absolutely thrilling at the same time. We really care for these kids and all of the relationships that are on screen. The dynamic between the father (Chandler) and son (Courtney) is amazing to watch because they torn apart by one tragedy and it's the second tragedy that really challenges them to find each other. To see a first-time actor (Courtney) carry an entire movie was just amazing to watch in itself. You don't really think about it while you watching it because Abrams is so brilliant with suspension of disbelief. Though, after you leave the theatre, you look back on all of the kids' performances. There is also this very unique and beautiful relationship between Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney's characters. That relationship extends to the five best friends as well, which includes Courtney, Griffiths, Mills, Basso and Lee. Ryan Lee, who plays a pyro maniac is absolutely hilarious.

This film captures a very special magic that you rarely see in Hollywood films. Even though the film had nothing to do with my life, I found myself having a very personal experience while in the theatre. It reminded me of that sense of adventure and danger I used to feel when hanging out with my friends when we were kids. We would sneak out of the house to do things that were illegal, i.e. lighting off fire crackers, etc. The great thing is that these kids experience this extreme moment and treat it like figuring out a mystery.

Without giving anything away, I do want to say that as the film came to a close, I had shivers going through my body. Film score composer Michael Giaachino, who has worked with Abrams on "Lost" and Star Trek, created a brilliant and epic score that will blow you way. This is where the "nerd" in me comes out but Abrams does this amazing thing where he will turn down the action happening in the film and let the score drive you through the scene. He did this at the beginning of Star Trek during George Kirk's death scene and he does it again in this film.

I am a huge fan of Abrams' lens flares. I know a lot of people complain that there were too many in Star Trek, but they honestly fit the films. There is something beautiful about them. He uses a lot of them in Super 8 but they are all necessary in my opinion. They are mainly used during the night time shots if the camera is looking anywhere near a light source. The flares were these beautiful strings of blue light that dash across the screen. For me, they make the film feel more natural and real.

Please see this movie. If you love original cinema with a nostalgic feeling mixed in, you will love it! It's not in 3D. It's not a remake and it's not a sequel/prequel. Give it a chance and I think you will definitely be blown away, hence the 5 BDK rating.

***NOTE: When the movie ends, do not get up out of your seat. There is something special during the credits.

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X-Men: First Class X-Men: First Class
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
Released: 2011
X-Men: First Class is a fun, entertaining summer flick that is luckily not in 3D and delivers an epically brilliant performance from Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds). I know that I am the king of hyperbole but there is a scene in this film that is worth the entire price of admission. I was just sitting there in my seat, almost ready to break into nerd tears, during this one sequence with Michael Fassbender. All I will say is that it's towards the beginning and takes place in a bar. You will know the scene when you see it. I'm surprised the studio didn't just called the film X-Men Origins: Magneto. The film essentially centers around him, as it should, considering he is the best part. That's not to say there are not other enjoyable aspects but when Fassbender is on screen, the movie feels different and better. I absolutely love James McAvoy (Wanted) and he's fine in the film but I felt he might have been a bit mis-cast or they could have written a stronger part for him. Fassbender really outshines him which is unfortunate considering how great of an actor McAvoy is.

The film also stars Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone and the upcoming The Hunger Games), Kevin Bacon (Wild Things, Tremors), January Jones ("Mad Men," Unknown), Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids, Insideous), Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man, About a Boy), Edi Gathegi (Twilight) and Zoe Kravitz (The Brave One, It's Kind of a Funny Story).

Do yourself a favor and stay away from a lot of the articles you will find online pertaining to this movie. They all give away a certain cameo and that is just wrong. You will not find that cameo in this review, as you should see it how I saw it and be as surprised as I was. This is the origin story of the X-Men. What's great about this movie is that you don't have to have seen the other four flicks in the franchise to enjoy this film; X-Men, X-2, X-Men: Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This film starts from the beginning. We meet Charles Xavier (McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender) when they are boys. We learn of Erik's story where a tragic death in his family leads to his revenge story. We learn of Charles Xavier's mission to bring together mutants and get away from the notion that they all must hide. It is Erik's revenge story to kill a character named Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) that brings he and Charles together. I am using the names Erik and Charles because they have yet to become Magento and Professor X. We know them as enemies in the previous films but they were great friends prior to that. This film tells their story and how they built a team of mutants to fight against Sebastian Shaw before he brings the world into World War 3. The film takes place back in the 60's and centers around the Cuban Missile Crisis. Erik and Charles put together a team of mutants and work together with the CIA to help stop Shaw.

Michael Fassbender. Yes, he's so awesome in the flick that he deserves his own sentence. This guy brings brilliant life to this film. So much so that I wish he was in every scene. His energy was epic. His presence was powerful. He was Magneto. You felt for his mission and the revenge path he was taking. That's what so great about films. Sometimes we end up rooting for what ultimately might be wrong in real life. Even though some of his decisions are morally wrong, I found myself rooting for him. And again, there is one particular scene that he's in that is worth the entire price of admission. Heck, there are at least four or five of those scenes now that I think about it and he is the main reason for the high rating.

Director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-A**, Layer Cake, Stardust - all great films) did a fantastic job with the pacing of the film. It clocks in around two hours and ten minutes but felt like thirty-minutes. The action was fantastic and you are always on the edge of your seat.

Now, that can also be translated to a negative. Almost every single scene of the film was a cliff hanger to the point where it got a bit annoying. If you watch every scene, as the scene is coming to an end, the music gets louder and more tense. I felt like every single scene ended that way and it became a bit annoying and ironically, anti-climactic at times.

There is way too much going on in this film but it miraculously comes together rather nicely. The beginning of the film takes place in like ten different countries. I couldn't keep track. Luckily, the story itself is very easy to follow and the main mission is simple enough that you kind of just coast along with it.

The CGI seemed a little low quality at times. You would think with the "summer blockbuster" vibe surrounding the flick that the CGI would be amazing but there were definitely many times where it looked a bit fake. The same went for Kick-A** but that was a considerably lower budget. That kind of took me out of the film at times but overall, it wasn't a huge negative. I also took issue with some of the editing in the training montage sequence. I didn't like how Vaughn used split screens. There is a great montage where Erik and Charles go out on a mission to find mutants that worked beautifully.

Jennifer Lawrence was a bit on the cheesy side. She has this "relationship" with the character of Hank (Hoult) that just felt a bit over-the-top. The idea of living with the mutant side of your life and not hiding it, was a bit overdone. Plus, there were times where she was spouting off dialogue that just made me want to cringe.

Listen, this film has problems but many of them are nit-picky issues that can easily be looked past. When you go to the movies you ultimately want to be entertained and that's what this film does. It entertains you, makes you laugh and keeps you on the edge of your seat. You may even shed a nerd tear or two when Michael Fassbender is being epically awesome on screen. There were too many great moments in this film to not recommend it. And, it's not in 3D which is a massive plus this day and age.

X-Men: First Class receives a 4 BDK rating out of 5, meaning you should definitely check it out in theaters. Remember, you don't need to see the other films in the franchise because this is the origin story. This flick will make you want to check out the other films. In case you are wondering, I still think that X-2 is the best out of the five films and then I would say X-Men: First Class. The opening sequence of X-2 with Nightcrawler in the White House is beyond epic. That scene alone is what makes X-2 the best flick.

P.S. - I stayed until the end of the credits and did not see any extra scenes.

P.S.S. - This is something that bothered me in the movie but was obviously necessary. I know that since it's an origin story, the writers have to set-up the character names. Though, anytime I watch an origin film, that is something that always bothers me. For example, a character will go, "You know, your name should be Magneto!" Those scenes just felt very cheesy and forced to me. Let me know your thoughts when you see the film. E-mail me at

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The Hangover Part II The Hangover Part II
Genre: Comedy
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK
My hilarious video interviews with BRADLEY COOPER, ED HELMS, ZACH GALIFIANAKIS and KEN JEONG

I want to start off this review by saying that I really wanted this movie to be amazing. With the classic nature of the first film, I couldn't wait to see these characters fleshed out even more. I had my worries going in and this review is the story of my experience. The Hangover Part 2 yet again gives sequels a bad name. I've always found myself defending sequels throughout the years whether it be Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Aliens;, The Godfather Part 2, Spider-Man 2, The Empire Strikes Back, etc. Those are all sequels which, in my opinion, are better than the original films in the series. In today's world though, a sequel comes along pretty much every weekend. Studios are always looking to make profit off a previously successful film. In fact, 2011 is the year of the most sequels in film history. Well, when you have the highest grossing R-Rated comedy of all time, you know the studio is going to want another one. Heck, the sequel for this film was apparently green lit before the first one ever hit the theaters. That may contradict my last statement but the bottom line is if the first one didn't do well, the sequel wouldn't exist.

With The Hangover 2 though, director Todd Phillips (;Old School, Road Trip) didn't really make a sequel. He just made the exact same movie again. Do you remember when you were a kid and if you had problems drawing, you could get that tracing paper? Well, it's like Todd Phillips just traced over his original film but didn't do as nice a job. The jokes fall flat because they are not surprising. It was what we did not know in the first movie that made it so funny. Now that he is using the same formula and jokes, you can pretty much see everything coming. Everything is over done because you can tell the film makers are trying too hard to top the original, even if they say they aren't. The jokes and cursing are cruder as if they are trying to beef that department up as well. I will say that performance-wise, the three leads are still good. Galifianakis delivers the majority of the good laughs. Since Ed Helms is more of the lead this time, we get more of him freaking out. I want to say that I am a huge fan of Ken Jeong but they completely overdid his character this time around. They used too much of a good thing, which is not Jeong's fault. When something is as funny as his character was in the first film, you're going to want to do more with it in the sequel. Do you see the pattern here? The actors did a fine job but it was script and same formula that hurt the film.

The bottom line is that the movie should not have been made. It's a waste of money, talent and should have been left alone. I am in the mindset that The Hangover is an absolute classic. The movie transcended the boundaries of the genre of comedy. It had elements of mystery, beautiful cinematography and great acting. The Hangover was a film that you looked at as a good film as opposed to just an R-Rated raunchy comedy you go see with your friends after drinking on a Friday night. There was something special there and everyone involved knew it. I know there is no proof of this but I would bet money that when the actors found about the sequel they weren't too pleased. How do you deal with the pressure of following up one of the funniest films ever made? The Hangover has such a re-watchable value to it. That will hurt the sequel because people have seen the original so many times that they will see every joke coming from a mile away.

Instead of a missing tooth, you have a tattoo on Helms' face. Instead of a tiger, you have a monkey. Even Ken Jeong has similar scenes (I don't want to say exactly what I mean here because it would be a spoiler but you will know when you see it.) Instead of Doug missing, we have a new guy named Teddy missing. I could go on and on here. Remember that famous, hilarious, song that Ed Helms sang in the first film about Doug? You guessed it! There's one of those as well. It's as if no thought at all went in to making this film. They just did it in Bangkok instead of Vegas.

The film picks up two years after the first film. Stu (Helms) is now engaged to be married and his wedding will be taking place in Thailand. Because of the events of the first film, he claims that he will not have a bachelor party but instead will have a bachelor's brunch at IHOP. He invites his good friends Doug (Bartha) and Phil (Cooper) to the wedding but leaves out Alan (Galafinakis) because of the roofies which caused the entire debacle last time. Though, after much consideration and feeling bad, he is forced to invite Alan to the wedding. The Wolfpack fly out to Thailand and the night before the wedding, have a couple of drinks, fireside, down at the beach. Well, we all know where this is going. Something happens and Phil, Stu and Alan wake up the next morning in a sleazy hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. Alan's head has been shaved, Stu has a Mike Tyson tattoo on his face and there is a monkey in the room. They also find Mr. Chow (Jeong), who played the villain role in the original. Instead of Doug missing this time, Stu's fiance's brother, Teddy, has gone missing. The movie then follows the same pattern where the characters have to look for clues to find Teddy and find out what happened the night before.

There's just no point in seeing this film in theaters if a better version of it waits for you back home on DVD or Blu-Ray. I understand the intrigue and why people want to see it. It's a follow up to one of the funniest films ever made but you're going to be disappointed if you're looking for something unique. The first one was special because it was unique. The interesting thing to think about is how this film would be viewed without seeing the original. I could see someone watching this, not knowing the formula, and laughing their heads off. That puts me in a weird position as a critic though because you have to judge the film by itself but that's hard in this case considering the first one is such a massive part of pop culture. All anyone wants to know is whether or not the film lives up to, or is better than, the original movie. The answer is no!

I recommend saving your money and watching the original this weekend, hence the 2 BDK rating.

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Kung Fu Panda 2 Kung Fu Panda 2
Genre: Animation/Action/Adventure
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK BDK Half BDK
While Kung Fu Panda 2 does not capture the unique and funny nature of the first, the film still delivers fun family entertainment and Jack Black absolutely rocks the part. My biggest issue with the film was the 3D. Most of these animated films these days are so beautiful to look at because of the vibrant colors. While I have been an advocate of certain 3D films in the past, I have really started to take a dislike to the dimming quality of the technology. I guess you could call me a flip-flopper on 3D but I am definitely on the negative side when it comes to Kung Fu Panda 2. The animation is absolutely gorgeous to look at and I actually found myself removing my glasses for a lot of the film because they were taking away from the quality. There were scenes that were perfectly clear to look at even without the glasses on! The first film was all about Jack Black's character, Po, embarking on a journey to become the Dragon Warrior. The underdog nature of the story of an overweight Panda becoming the Dragon Warrior was just fun and intriguing to watch. Anyone can admit that they love rooting for the underdog. The cool aspect was that Po's character was a huge fan of the "Furious Five," a group of kung-fu masters who stand as guards to the Valley of Peace in China. Po's interactions with the "Furious Five" were hilarious to watch and it was so intriguing to see him become the Dragon Warrior against all odds. Now, in the sequel, he leads the Furious Five on a journey to stop the evil Lord Shen (Oldman) from destroying Kung Fu and China. The Furious Five consist of Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Monkey (Jackie Chan). They all fall under Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman). Early on in the sequel, Po finally figures out that he was adopted. Not a huge surprise considering his "father" is a goose and Po is a panda. Po's father finally admits that he's not his real dad and this obviously peaks Po's curiosity. He wants to find out who he is and where he came from. This obviously effects him but luckily the mission to stop Lord Shen ties together with his mission to find out who his real parents are. Jack Black makes this film. He was born to play the character of Po because I really feel that he genuinely becomes this character. He can put himself in Po's shoes and the voice acting comes across as realistic and emotional. Normally, an actor's voice can be distracting when watching an animated movie but if the actor is great, you will associate him with that character. When I watch Po, I have this mixed view of Jack Black and the panda and it works. He's hilarious and totally rocks the part out. Considering he is still the underdog, even though he's the dragon warrior, I always find myself rooting for him. The film is not without problems though. The first thirty minutes or so are filled with major plot developments that seem to be taken very lightly when it comes to the pacing. I just felt like the writers didn't spend enough time on these major developments in the characters and just sped through them. While the first film introduced us to these characters and built them up in our head, the second film speeds through any developments which really felt off to me. I found myself still chewing on the new information as they moved on. The writers did not give it enough time to marinate. Make sure you see this film in 2D. The animation and colors are absolutely gorgeous. If you end up seeing it in 3D, take your glasses off during the movie and look at how bright the screen is in comparison. I just didn't get a great sense for the depth of field and I felt the 3D was just an add on to make money. The biggest issue I had with the film was the waste of voice talent. Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen and Angelina Jolie barely say anything the entire movie. Seth Rogen was the worst part because he had around two or three lines and since his voice is so recognizable, it threw me out of the film every time he spoke. If his character spoke more, I could have been used to it but since it was so random, I would just think, "Oh that's Seth Rogen." That completely threw off my suspension of disbelief. That all being said, Jack Black and Gary Oldman are phenomenal. Oldman is the perfect voice actor because I had no clue it was him until about eighty perfect of the way through the film. The only reason I figured it out was that I had read he was in the film and I hadn't heard his voice yet. That is the true sign of a great actor. The film isn't as good as the first one but I definitely recommend seeing it with the family. Kids and adults will enjoy it and you will walk out with a big smile on your face, hence the 3.5 BDKs.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK Half BDK
I caught a midnight screening of the film last night so I apologize for the lack of the written review today. I will have it up shortly. Basically, I would stay away from the 3D IMAX version. I paid $17.50 to see it in IMAX 3D and it was a big waste of money. The 3D was unnecessary and the IMAX was "fake," meaning that it had the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. If you are a big fan of the franchise, which has grossed over $2.5 billion worldwide so far, then you will probably enjoy the movie. Frankly, it's more of the same and nothing spectacular. The Curse of the Black Pearl is still easily the best one in the series and they all just go downhill from there. At World's End was one of the most convoluted plot lines I have ever seen in a big budget summer blockbuster. At least On Stranger Tides has a consistent and very easy to follow plotline. The problem is that the action really is not that exciting. Luckily, Johnny Depp's charm is fun to watch at times. He and Penelope Cruz have that typical formulaic banter you see in these big summer blockbusters. I personally think you are better off renting this film when it hits DVD/BLU-RAY or staying at home and watching the first film in the series, hence the 2.5 BDK rating.

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Bridesmaids Bridesmaids
Genre: Comedy
Released: 2011
This review is coming soon.

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Thor Thor
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
Released: 2011
Thor is a well-rounded super hero flick that delivers action, emotions and beautiful cinematography. You would think that Shakespeare himself wrote the story and script. We all know that Kenneth Branagh is no stranger to adapting Shakespeare, as he played and directed Hamlet and Henry V. This film has very similar Shakespearian vibe where the dialogue seemed very over-the-top but in a brilliant fashion. Out of all the Marvel super hero films to date, including Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man, Thor is hands down the most well-rounded flick of the bunch. I put it up there with Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man. Though, it's the emotional moments that really sold me. Don't get me wrong, I love watching the epic action sequences. There was just something cool about watching this huge, muscular, super hero actually spew out emotions while still remaining a tough throughout the film. Being that he is from another planet and is banished to earth, Thor goes through a transformation to finding his human side. That is the entire last half of the film while in the first half he is this cocky, arrogant God who destroys anything in his path. Branagh really developed a unique balance that I hadn't seen before.

One of my favorite aspects of the film was the framing. You'll notice that a lot of the shots in the film are at canted angles, meaning they look a bit sideways at times. Branagh discussed that he wanted the film to resemble the comic book and in some instances, he wanted the frames to look like you were turning the page. I guarantee there will be times where you find yourself tilting your head because of the framing. It was very interesting, unique and bold. Branagh also perfectly blended beautiful CGI action with realistic action sequences that created a real sense of danger.

Thor stars Chris Hemsworth (who played George Kirk in Star Trek), Natalie Portman (Black Swan, The Professional), Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, Elephant Man), Tom Hiddleston ("Wallander"), Jaimie Alexander ("Nurse Jackie"), Kat Dennings (The Forty Year Old Virgin, Charlie Barlett), Clark Gregg (Iron Man, Choke) and Stellan Skarsgaard (Mamma Mia).

The film takes place on three different planets, with Earth and Asgard being the main focus. Thor (Hemsworth), the God of Thunder, has been banished from Asgard and the kingdom for betraying his father's orders. Thor's father, Odin (Hopkins), specifically asks Thor to stay out of trouble fearing that his arrogance could lead Asgard into another war with the Frost Giants. Before Thor and his brother Loki were born, Odin and Asgard fought against the Frost Giants from the planet Jotunheim. The war ended but Odin retrieved an important piece from the Frost Giants. Now, we fast-forward to present day where Thor is about to become King. On this day, the Frost Giants sneak onto Asgard to try and retrieve this object. Seeing it as a sign of disrespect towards Asgard, Thor and his crew travel to Jotunheim to start another battle. This obviously angers Odin which makes him banish Thor to earth and strip him of all his powers including his awesome hammer. While on earth he meets and falls in love with a human being named Jane who is actually studying our solar system. She see's him as evidence but also as someone she is falling for. While on earth, Thor's brother, Loki (Hiddleston), becomes evil and takes over the thrown of Asgard sending destroyers to earth to kill Thor. Thor, helpless on earth, knows something bad is coming and will stop at nothing to stop his brother. His first goal is to get his hammer back!

Epic is a perfect word to describe this film. The idea of having a bad*** super hero flick mixed with Shakesperian-style emotional drama really resonated with me. There was always that thought in my head of whether or not Branagh was getting too emotional but just when he did that, he would quickly turn on the testosterone button and Thor would come back to life. But honestly, it was these emotional moments that he shared with Natalie Portman's character that gave the movie a true depth.

The action is perfectly balances throughout the movie. Personally, I thought the battle scene with the Frost Giants towards the beginning was the best. I just remember sitting there in my seat not being able to sit still. It was very intense and action packed and looked fantastic. All of the action scenes were well-placed and worked really well.

It's always fun to watch a Marvel movie to see what they will do with the Stan Lee cameo, since he was the creator of these comics. To be honest though, this time, the cameo slipped by me. I found out later where it was and basically punched myself in the face for not seeing it. I need to watch it one more time because usually I can pick up on it. Branagh was a little sneaky with this one.

Tom Hiddleston gives a very emotionally conflicted performance. You don't really know if he's good or bad which creates an interesting balance during the film. Even Hopkins was fun to watch even though he is sleeping for most of the film. Even when he is sleeping, he is still a good actor! He's THAT good. The Renee Russo casting seemed a little out of place to me as they didn't use her that much. She play's Thor's mother in the film.

Thor is, thus far, my favorite films out of the Marvel comic books with Iron Man being a close second. I highly recommend checking it out, hence the 4.5 BDK rating. You may find yourself laughing sometimes at Thor's dialogue but that was obviously the intention. It is over-the-top and very Shakespearian.

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Something Borrowed Something Borrowed
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK Half BDK
Do you ever notice that when a movie comes out based on a book that every single person around you has read the book yet you haven't heard of it until know. Every time I mention the title of this film, someone goes "Oh I read the book!" I hadn't heard of the book before I saw the film and every person who has said that hasn't ever mentioned it to me. It's so strange. You know what really grinds my gears though, as Peter Griffen ("Family Guy") would say, when you watch a film with someone who has read the book and they immediately say, "The Book was better!"

Something Borrowed has hilarious moments, mainly due to John Krasinski and Steve Howey, but loses its winning streak with cheesy flash backs and awful use of slow-motion. You may be thinking to yourself why would slow-motion ruin a film? Well, it's the difference between a great scene and a mediocre scene in this flick. One prime example to look for while watching the film is the Salt-N-Pepper dance sequence with Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin. The scene is going swimmingly and is a great moment for the characters but it ultimately ruined because of cheesy slow-motion. What's funny is that most of the problems in this film have nothing to with the actors, script or source material. A lot of the issues are in the editing and I know that's a persnickety thing to do but if it changes the mood of the scene for me, I have to bring it up. You can literally feel the life getting sucked out of the film in certain scenes. It's almost kind of fascinating to watch it take place. The film stars Kate Hudson (10 Things I Hate About You, Almost Famous), Ginnifer Goodwin ("Big Love", He's Just Not That Into You), John Krasinski ("The Office," Away We Go), Steve Howey (Bride Wars, Stan Helsing) and Colin Egglesfield ("All My Children," "Melrose Place"). Something Borrowed is based on a book by Emily Giffin who also wrote the follow up, Something Blue. If you look closely while watching the movie, you can actually see a character reading Something Blue, which is obviously foreshadowing that a sequel is coming. The movie centers around two best friends, Darcy (Hudson) and Rachel (Goodwin). They have been best friends all their lives and nothing has ever come between them. Six years prior to the present day, Rachel met the man of her dreams in college. This man, Dex (Egglesfield), was perfect in her eyes. He was smart, good-looking and extremely funny. Yet, the problem is that she didn't ever tell him how she truly felt. One night, Darcy met Rachel and Dex out at a bar and it was at this moment, Dex was taken away from Rachel. Because she didn't speak up, he didn't know how she felt. Being the forward person Darcy is, she asked him out and they started dating. Now, six years later, they are getting married. Rachel is still kicking herself to this day and one night at a party, shortly before the wedding, she and Dex hook-up. Welcome to the drama of the film. Rachel now has to battle out in her head whether to tell her best friend, knowing it would ruin the marriage and their friendship. Though, the issue is that Dex loves Rachel so now they have to both deal with how to break it to Darcy. John Krasinski and Steve Howey absolutely steal the flick. In fact, Krasinski has lines of dialogue that are so good; you almost forget you are watching a very average film. In fact, if you had asked me what I thought of the film right after one of Krasinski's jokes, I would have told you I loved it. Though, once the joke dies down and I get back to the film itself, I am confronted with the reality that the film is not so great. There are roughly four to five classic lines from Krasinski that I could recite right now if you asked me. That is how funny those lines were. Then you have this amazing performance from Steve Howey who plays Marcus in the film. There are scenes of his that basically outshine the entire movie. Keep an ear out for his chipmunk story!

Because of all the flash backs and poor editing, the movie honestly felt like it was three hours long. It just kept going and going and just went you thought it was over, there was more. If it wasn't for John Krasinski, I would have lost my mind. That's not to say that Hudson and Goodwin aren't good. It's just that the writing keeps going and everything gets dull. In fact, Goodwin is absolutely fun to watch in the film. You sympathize with her because this is a massive issue she is dealing with. All her life, she has always answered to Hudson's character, doing everything she asked. Now Hudson is marrying the man of her dreams and she wants to step up for herself. So you are kind of rooting for her even though she's technically the bad-guy of the film.

Listen, the movie is very average and in this economy, I wouldn't waste money to see it in theatres, hence the 2.5 BDK rating. I would wait for the rental!

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Fast Five Fast Five
Genre: Action/Crime/Drama
Released: 2011
NOTE: Make sure you stay after the credits for a massive surprise!

Let me set the scene for you. There were people cheering, clapping, jumping out of their seats and going absolutely crazy. That sounds like a concert right? Nope! That was the setting for the screening of "Fast Five." If you go into Fast Five expecting amazing dialogue and character development, you are looking in the wrong place. Fast Five is easily the best film in the series delivering the most ridiculously over-the-top and awesome action sequences I have seen so far. I literally found myself jumping out of my seat like I was in high school again. It felt like the first time I had been to the movies. I was hitting my friend's arm telling him how awesome it was during the whole movie! Sometimes as a critic, you have to step aside and appreciate a film for what it's intended audience. Sure, if you took a critic's glasses to this movie, you can pick apart the awful dialogue, plot-holes, cheesy moments and just how impossible any of these action scenes are in real life. Though, I do think as a critic, part of your job is to sometimes review a film on its entertainment value. Is Fast Five a 4 star film? No! Not by any means. Is it worth seeing in theatres and paying that full $10 to $12 bucks? Yes! In fact, I think this is one of the few films in 2011 that I would recommend seeing twice. I wish I could go back and see it again right now.

I've been following the series since The Fast and The Furious debuted in 2001. I worked at a movie theatre then so I went and saw it a record total of nine times. I hadn't seen anything like it before. Then, the awful sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious came along and disappointed me beyond belief. The series kind of revived itself with Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift but the film that brought everything back to life was Fast and Furious. The action scenes in that film were just out of this world. Now take every action scene in all four of the previous films and you can't add up to the action in the fifth installment. From the mind-blowing opening scene to the absolutely out of this world ending action sequence, this film will have you locked in. I think even Steven McQueen himself would be proud of the final action sequence.

Fast Five stars Paul Walker (Running Scared), Vin Diesel (The Pacifier), Jordana Brewster (The Fast and The Furious), Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (The Rundown), Ludarics (Hustle and Flow) and Tyrese Gibson (Baby Boy).

Many people will say that you don't go see a Fast and Furious film for the plot. I disagree with that statement as I have liked watching these characters throughout the years. It's fun to see where they end up and the predicaments they get themselves into. Now with Fast Five, Justin Lin has really "scraped the bottom of the barrel" as a character in the film states; since he's bringing back older characters. He has brought back characters from all the films to carry out a $100 million job in Rio De Janiero. After breaking Dominic Toretto (Diesel) out of prison transport, Brian O' Connor (Walker) and girlfriend Mia Toretto (Brewster) meet up with him in Rio De Janiero to hide out. We learn that Mia is now pregnant and they want to get out of this life where they are running all the time. Dominic puts together one last job which would mean stealing $100 million from a drug lord named Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Reyes essentially runs Rio De Janiero and is just all around bad person, which obviously makes us root for Toretto. The job is going to take more man power so they bring back older characters from the earlier films such as Roman (Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Vince (Matt Schulze) and Han (Sung Kang). The all develop a plan to steal the $100 million from Reyes but also have to deal with the fact that Federal agents are after them. The issue is that these Federal agents are headed up by Hobb (The Rock), who might the toughest dude on the planet.

The action scenes in this film, while look absolutely ridiculous, are some of the best I've seen in a long time. It was the definition of excitement. The movie is one-hundred and thirty minutes long but it feels like it goes by in a blink of an eye. The ending action sequence is unlike anything I have seen before.

For fans of the series, when you hear Vin Diesel say "Let's go get some cars," you know you can prepare yourself for awesome. They brought a lot of references to the first films which will definitely please fans. We get quarter mile race sequences and races for pink slips! It just felt like a high school reunion where you go back and hope that everything is improved. In this case, all of the cool kids went on to be millionaires. If you can't find fun in this film, you are watching it too hard.

The film is riddled with problems. The script is awful and the use of the moving subtitles was distracting. Now, there are times when the script does shine. The funny chemistry between Ludacris and Tyrese was hilarious. The Rock has some great lines and just completely steals the film. There are massive plot-holes and action scenes that are completely unbelievable. Again, turn your brain off when you see this movie and you will enjoy yourself. The Rock did not look like a Federal agent with his tight shirt and big muscles but he was just so fun to watch. That just goes with the unbelievable factor of the film. If you're one of those people that sits there and analyzes a movie saying "That could never happen in real life!", you have to lose that for this movie. Everything in this movie unbelievable. For the record, I really dislike when people do that. It really grinds my gears.

I wonder how much Under Armor paid for the product placement in this film. After seeing Morgan Spurlock's Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, you start to notice everything. There were scenes where The Rock and his men were rocking out Under Armor shirts and the shots were purposely placed to show off the logo. Does that take away from the artistic integrity of the film?

Fast Five is worth every penny to see in theatres. The film is an experience, not an art-house film. If you go in with those expectations, you will love it, hence the 4 BDK rating.

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Water for Elephants Water for Elephants
Genre: Drama
Released: 2011
Check out my exclusive video interviews with Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Waltz

Are you ever curious as to why you feel more emotional watching an animal get hurt in a film as opposed to a human being? Water for Elephants is a beautiful and captivating film that you will never forget. Francis Lawrence has created a beautiful world with emotionally engaging performances that will leave you thinking about the film for days. Anyone who thinks Robert Pattinson is just that kid from Twilight needs to watch this film or Remember Me. He is extremely talented and once Twilight is over, I really do feel that he's going to prove himself to be one of the best working actors today. His chemistry with Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz, two Academy Award Winners, was perfect. The emotional range of Christoph Waltz mixed with the emotions of Pattinson and Witherspoon is what makes the film work. These characters are very complicated and you find yourself mixed up in this love story. It's not necessarily a love triangle though. That would imply three but there is a fourth and that is Tai the elephant. Tai plays Rosie in the film and, I'm not doing shtick, gives a phenomenal performance. You have to see it to believe it.

Water for Elephants comes to you from visionary director Francis Lawrence ( Am Legend, Constantine). The film is scored by the brilliant James Newton Howard (who worked with Hans Zimmer on The Dark Knight score). Oddly enough, the music used in the trailer, which was done by a completely different composer, was not used in the movie. It was the same case for Inception which, like Water for Elephants, had a brilliant trailer music piece. I can hear both pieces of music in my head right now. I just wish those pieces of music appeared in the film. Water for Elephants stars Robert Pattinson (Remember Me, Twilight), Reese Witherspoon (Cruel Intentions, Walk The Line), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, The Green Hornet) and Hal Holbrook.

The film opens and we meet a ninety or ninety-three year old man named Jacob Jankowski (Holbrook). Jacob is currently living in a retirement home but has constant memories of the 1930's, where he worked for the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. When the film opens, Jacob is walking around a pier after the show has closed. He is being asked to leave to go back to his nursing home but he doesn't want to. He feels that the circus is his home. A man from the show brings him inside because of the rain and offers him coffee. Jacob proceeds to tell him the story of the greatest circus disaster of all time. The film flashes back to the 1930's and we meet a young Jacob Jankowski (Pattinson). His family has just been killed in a car crash and he has nothing left. He hops on a train that just happens to be the traveling Benzini Brothers circus. Because he studied to be a veterinarian, the ringmaster, August (Waltz), gives him a gig caring for the animals. This all sounds good until Jacob lays his eyes on the beautiful Marlena (Witherspoon). He immediately falls in love with her but realizes that she is married to the ringmaster, who is a very evil and powerful man. This same man wants to change up the show so he brings an elephant into the picture. It is at the moment that Jacob and Marlena meet Rosie the elephant that they fall in love with her and each other. The issue is that August will not allow it.

The question that I opened the review with really bothers me. Maybe I am only speaking for myself but I feel that we have become desensitized to watching human beings die or being tortured in films. Maybe that's a product of the violent world we live in but then why is it so hard to watch an animal die or become abused in a film. Both are obviously aspects of fiction but I still found myself struggling to watch the scenes in the film when the elephant is being abused. That's not a negative toward the actual film because it's important to the story. It's actually a positive because it really does make you think about that. Think about it and email me at with your thoughts.

Robert Pattinson is a very good actor. There, I said it. People want to hate the kid because he's the star of the Twilight flicks but I say give the guy a chance. He was very good in Remember Me and even better in Water for Elephants. He delivers a very emotional performance that really stands up with Witherspoon and Waltz. I was very pleased to see how great he was in the film. Even Christoph Waltz delivers another power house performance. It's not as good as his character in Inglourious Basterds but he has that very similar evil tone. There is a great scene where he asks Witherspoon and Pattinson to act out a romantic scene together. This is a very awkward scene but his evil nature really comes through the screen. Witherspoon trained for three months with the elephant prior to filming so she could do the majority of her own stunt work, i.e. being on top of the elephant and having to act. That actual stunt work really works to keep the realism of the film.

The biggest issue I had with the film was the voice-over. In the beginning, we have the older Jacob played by Hal Holbrook. He starts the voice over as the film flashes back to the 1930's. Then the editors do this weird transition into Robert Pattinson's voice to use during the flash back story. That just felt wrong to me. I understand what they were going for but having Pattinson do the voice for the time period he was in, just felt weird. They should have used Holbrook's voice for the entire film.

The film is so beautiful to look at, especially if you're an animal lover. The colors and epic style of the film will definitely grab you in. There were times where I wished the film was a bit more emotionally engaging. I felt like it would go to the brink of being perfectly emotional and then it would slip back a little. Regardless, the film is magnificent and worth seeing for the great performances, hence the 4 BDK rating.

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POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Genre: Documentary/Comedy
Released: 2011
J.J. Abrams says it best in the film when he says "It's not story-selling, it's story-telling." Since when has it been alright for product placement to become part of our entertainment? We are already paying ten to fifteen bucks to sit in a theatre to watch a flick. Brilliant documentary film maker, Morgan Spurlock, explores the idea of product placement by actually making an entire movie about getting his movie sponsored. It's like he's selling out but he's not because he's mocking that fact at the same time. When you watch a film like Transformers and you see those beautifully shot sequences with the Camaros, just remember that GM actually gave those cars to the film which helped with the film's budget. Directors try to justify this fact by saying that it helps with the budget. Listen, that's totally fine. It only becomes an issue when the artistic value of the film is changed based on what an advertiser wants. If a director has to change a shot or do something differently because an advertiser says so, it's then that we have a problem. Money shouldn't ever outweigh artistic integrity. That almost happened here to Morgan Spurlock but he stepped in and didn't allow it.

I am such a huge fan of a documentary that informs and entertains you. That is the exact formula that Spurlock as tapped into here and with Super Size Me. Let's be honest, when most people hear about documentaries, the last word that comes to their mind is entertainment. Now, I totally disagree with that mindset, considering some of the best films over the past couple of years have been documentaries, i.e. An Inconvenient Truth, Exit Through the Gift Shop, etc. Documentaries have so many different options. Remember the Joaquin Phoenix documentary, I'm Still Here? That was a flick that was made to look like a documentary but was actually a mockumentary. The film essentially became a work of fiction because everything was fake. Or the film Death of a President, where it explored a fake world where President Bush had been assassinated. The film was shot like a documentary and made to look like the events really took place. Spurlock creates films that have that level of entertainment value but also inform you.

You will not be able to watch a commercial or a movie the same way ever again. Right when I got out of this film, I saw a commerical for Thor where the voice over guy says, "Acura, the official car of the movie Thor." These big summer blockbusters always use co-promotion where they get their names put on slurpee cups, commercials for cars, etc. Think about every time you see a James Bond film. They make a huge deal out of the car that he is driving. That is definitely product placement that has become part of the film. It only becomes an issue when the film itself is changed to please an advertiser.

The best part of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is when Spurlock is interviewing Quentin Tarantino, Peter Berg, J.J. Abrams and Bret Ratner. Tarantino tells a very funny story about Denny's but it's Ratner's commentary that is the most interesting. He mentions that he was on set filming one of his films and two guys in black suits showed up on set and told him that the actor needed to hold a certain beverage in their hand in the scene. Right as he said that, I couldn't help but think that his artistic integrity when right out the window. Not that it was his fault but if you're working on a big budget film and you're a new director, you're just going to go with what they say. Still, it's completely unacceptable that a film becomes a source of advertising. We are already spending our hard earned money to see these films in theatres. Then, the studios have to go the extra distance and actually advertise more in our faces? That's like a slap in the face. One of the interesting facts that Spurlock brings up during an interview is that we don't even know we are being advertised to at certain times.

Overall, the film is very funny, entertaining and very informative, hence the 4 BDK rating. I highly recommend seeing the film because if you're ever watching a bad movie, this movie gives you clues for finding product placement in movies.

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Scream 4 Scream 4
Genre: Horror/Mystery/Thriller
Released: 2011
The year was 1996 and I was twelve years old. It was Friday night and my buddy and I really wanted to go see this new flick called Scream. We had no clue what we were in for but we knew it was a scary flick. Did I mention I was twelve? So we developed this plan where his dad would drive us there, buy the tickets and we would sneak in. So he walks up, buys the tickets and hands them off to us like a drug deal. We make our way to the ticket taker, sweating and nervous, hoping he will let us in. He stares at the tickets, stares at us, stares back at the tickets and asks where our parent is. We make up a lie that he is getting popcorn and candy. Sort of believing us, he tears the tickets and tells us where to walk. Being that we were twelve, we tried to act cool about it but I was freaking out that we actually made it past. I started skipping and laughing down the hallway like an idiot. We get inside the theatre and sit in the 2nd row from the screen. The film opens with the brilliant Drew Barrymore sequence and I immediately knew I was watching a cinema classic. I didn't know why at the time because I was twelve but it felt like something special. That feeling also could have been the fact that I was worried the usher was going to come kick us out. The point of the story is to show that there are certain movies we don't ever forget seeing. Certain films have such an impact on our lives that we remember exactly where they were seen and with whom we watched it. I can say the same for Terminator 2: Judgement Day and many others. I just wanted to show how much this film means to me and why some of my thoughts below may have a disappointing tone even though I am recommending the film.

Scream 4 is a tough movie to review without giving away any spoilers. In being vague, I will have to keep some criticisms to myself until a few weeks after the films release. Some of my biggest issues with the film are with the ending and I obviously cannot go into why. That being said, Scream 4 is actually a pretty decent sequel delivering crisp, witty dialogue with some brutally violent kills. Plus, there was something oddly comforting about hearing that classic Ghostface voice coming through the telephone. If you want to compare it to the other three films, the flick is easily better than the third one but nowhere near as good as the first two. The first Scream is an absolute masterpiece. Yes, I said masterpiece. It was one of the first films that blended satire and horror perfectly. While it was playing on and referencing classic slasher flicks, it also brought extreme scares to the table. When I first saw that opening scene with Drew Barrymore, I was frightened and amazed at the same time. Wes Craven tapped into something new and the horror film wouldn't be the same afterwards.

Director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson are back again to deliver the fourth installment of the series. They brought back three of the original cast members including Neve Campbell (Scream, Wild Things), David Arquette (Scream, Never Been Kissed) and Courtney Cox ("Friends", Scream). Craven and Williamson also brought some fresh faces to the franchise including Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, When In Rome), Hayden Paniterrie ("Heroes"), Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew, It's Kind of a Funny Story), Rory Culkin (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and Anna Pacquin (X-Men, "True Blood").

The vague plot line revolves around Sidney Prescott (Campbell) returning to her hometown, Woodsboro, on her best-selling book tour. Shocker, Prescott returns on the anniversary of the famous Woodsboro murders. Students at the local high school are playing pranks with the Ghostface mask and there is a film club that is walking around obsessed with the "Stab" film series. In case your in the dark, the "Stab" film series are the fictional films based on Sidney Prescott's stories with the Ghostface killer. The film opens with references to modern day horror films like Saw and using Facebook to stalk people. So we know that the film is taking a more modern approach to the genre. Ghostface starts to kill again and we are left to figure out who the possible killer can be. Dewey (Arquette) is now the Sheriff and married to Gale Weathers (Cox). She is no longer a reporter as she has devoted her life to Sheriff Riley. Though, once the murders start to occur, Weathers decides to go rogue and help with solving the murders. Emma Roberts plays Sidney Prescott's cousin. Roberts' friends in the film include Kirby (Panettiere) and Marnie (Brittany Robertson). That really is all I can say without giving any spoilers away.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the opening this movie is up there with the original Scream opening. Scream 4 starts off strong and then goes down to average for the rest of the flick. What made the original Scream so innovative and original was the fact that it brilliantly combined real scares with satire. It was the way that Williamson weaved in references to classic slasher films that made the film feel so real. Because these characters were referencing films that we the audience had seen in real life, it made the movie we were watching seem much more realistic. The references weren't ever overdone though. There was a great mix where Craven was winking at us but he didn't let us forget that we were watching a violent and brutal story unravel. The second we would start laughing too much, he would freak us with a brutal kill. Scream 4 over does that fact. We have this amazingly brilliant opening that catches you completely off guard and then from the there the film just goes down this too self-aware path. The majority of the dialogue is clever references to what you should and shouldn't do when making a sequel or a remake. The dialogue was fun to hear for a while but it was so overdone that the scares kind of suffer. That's not to say they aren't there but the violence had less effect on me because the dialogue was a bit over the top. I am kind of contradicting myself because the beginning is so self-aware but you will see what I mean when you see it.

That being said, Wes Craven is a master at keeping you guessing until the final reveal. Again, he went a little over the top with trying to clue you in to certain things. There were times where it felt forced that he was trying to get you to think the killer was one particular person. It would get to the point where I would think, "Oh wait, Craven is making this guy/girl way too obvious so it can't be him/her because he wants me to think it is." Then, on the flip side of that coin I start thinking that what if he wants me to think that I think he's making me think it's him but it's really him. That's just how Craven sucks his audience in and it works every time.

I can't even talk about my biggest criticisms with the film because it would be too spoiler-ish. The bottom line is that the film has issues, mainly with the script. Courtney Cox's character was awful. I loved her in the first three films but they overdid her dialogue and made her unfunny and annoying. The same went for David Arquette's character. I just didn't feel like they were trying. That being said, the younger cast brought it full-force. Neve Campbell felt kinda dull but she brought back that classic frightened look when she receives a call from Ghostface. She gets teary eyed and looks frightened and that definitely brought me back to the original films.

If you're fan of the series, you have to see it. Hopefully new fans will go back and watch the original films as well. Scream 4 is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be; passable but not great, hence the 3 BDK rating. P.S. I absolutely loved the Shaun of the Dead part in the flick! I hope Edgar Wright sees it!

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Rio Rio
Genre: Animation/Adventure/Comedy
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK BDK Half BDK
Rio is a unique animated experience that makes you feel like you're in a night club with great music that also features an engaging and hilarious love story. I will admit that I'm not the biggest 3D fan on the planet but the mixture of this beautiful animation and 3D really worked in this film. Director Carlos Saldanha, who is from Brasil, really captured a perfect summary of what it's like to be in Rio De Janiero. There were great 3D animated angles of Christ the Redeemer and the entire city that make you actually feel like you're there. The film does have some small issues with some forced cheesy dialogue and certain scenes could have been cut shorter. Though, the film does deliver for the entire family and you will definitely walk away with a smile on your face.

The film stars the voices of Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland), Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs, Brokeback Mountain), Will I Am (Wolverine), Jamie Foxx (Ray, Miami Vice), Leslie Mann (Knocked Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin), George Lopez (Beverly Hills Chihuahua) and Rodrigo Santoro (300).

The film opens and we learn that Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) was shipped from his home in Rio De Janiero to Minnesota by a group of smugglers. That was fifteen years ago. Now, Blu lives with his owner, Linda (Leslie Mann) in Minnesota. A scientist (Santoro) barges into their lives telling Linda that Blu is one of the last remaining macaw's in the world. In order to keep their species alive, Blu and Linda must travel to Rio so that Blu can mate with the last remaining female macaw, Jewel (Hathaway). Blu and Jewel get into a bit of trouble when they are kidnapped. Once they escape, they set out on a dangerous adventure throughout Rio De Janiero. During this adventure, Blu develops feelings for Jewel and becomes a great love story as well as a funny and beautiful looking animated feature.

Besides the beautiful looking animation, the film has an amazing soundtrack, featuring songs written and produced by legendary Brazilian music legend, Sergio Mendes ("Brasil 66"). The music really becomes another character of the film to the point where I couldn't wait for another song to come on. It really just adds to the flavor of the adventure and makes you want to dance while you're watching it. There also songs by Will I Am, Jamie Foxx and Taio Cruz. I think and hope this will show people how important music can be to a film. Personally, music is one those key elements that sets the mood in every single scene.

Jesse Eisenberg couldn't have been more perfect for this role. I really found myself relating to his character considering he has a hard time talking to girls. I always find myself feeling really awkward when trying to express my feelings. He did such a great job with the nervous factor. He was also in bird form so they really nailed all of his nervous mannerisms. I usually have a problem watching animated movies where the voice actors' voice is so recognizable that it takes me out of the film. Even Jamie Foxx did a fantastic job. His voice was almost unrecognizable.

There were times where the dialogue came off as completely cheesy. I don't want to give away exact lines but there were times where I would put my face in my hands. The movie would be moving along very smoothly and a cheesy line would pop up and I would just be flabbergasted. There were also scenes where I felt the editors could have cut a little shorter because it started to drag just a bit. I know I am being very persnickety but when it comes to kid's movies, the bar has been set very high with films like Toy Story 3 and How To Train Your Dragon.

The entire family will be able to enjoy Rio because it has that balance where adults and kids can enjoy it, hence the 3.5 BDK rating.

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Hanna Hanna
Genre: Action/Adventure/Mystery
Released: 2011
Hanna is bad-ass. That essentially sums up my entire review and I almost want that one sentence to stand on its own. Let it settle for a second. Now, director Joe Wright (Atonement) has yet again proved that great film making still exists in this world. Directors should take note on how to direct a realistic fight sequence with minimal cuts. His brilliant use of the camera portrays intensity, excitement and realism. The flick is an action movie but also a film about learning from experience and love. Saoirse Ronan's character shows us, in an extreme way, that we do not need television, music, computers, internet, movies, etc. to live our lives. These are all luxuries that if taken for granted, could ruin our lives. I know that sounds extreme but when you see the film, watch the difference between Saoirse Ronan's character and Jessica Barden's character. Both characters were raised in two completely different environments.

The film stars Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones), Eric Bana (The Hulk, Munich) and Cate Blanchette (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Babel).

The idea behind the film may seem similar to Kick-Ass but it could not be more different. Yes, both films deal with a father training his young teenage daughter to become an assassin. Yes, both films deal with that daughter and father taking revenge on the death of their mother/wife. What makes the films different is the tone. Hanna is grounded more in reality which is odd considering Hanna's character is raised outside of the "real world." Her father (Bana) has been raising her for sixteen years in the forest; cut off from any human contact, technology and fast-food. They have to hunt to eat and Hanna has yet to step foot in a shopping mall. That all changes when she is released on her mission to kill the person who killed her mom. As she travels throughout Europe, experiencing this "new world," she is being tracked by an intelligence agent, played by Cate Blanchette. The interesting aspect of the film is seeing how Hanna interacts with people in the "real world" and seeing who has the best survival skills.

The "real world" aspect of the film was what really struck me. Hanna's character comes across and makes friends with, another sixteen year old girl (played by Jessica Barden). This other girl has been raised with celebrities, music, shopping malls, fast-food, etc. Hanna and her could not be more different but the interesting dynamic comes from what they learn from one another. Personally, it almost looks like Hanna is more equipped for this world than Barden's character, which is sad. Now, realistically, I doubt a sixteen year old girl assassin would be taking down grown men but the movie does speak to how we are raised. When you watch the film, watch their dynamic and see who you think is more equipped to survive in this harsh world.

The action aspect of the film is brilliant due to the perfectly executed choreography and long tracking shots. Wright is known for his long tracking shots and if you haven't seen the beach shot in Atonement, go rent it right now! What's great about the action in Hanna is that we can actually see everything that happens in the fight scenes. Since there are minimal cuts, the fight is right there, in your face and very raw. There is a brilliant tracking shot where Eric Bana's character is walking into a train station. The shot lasts for about five minutes and ends with him beating up five bad guys; all in one shot! There is another scene with Saoirse Ronan that takes place in a cargo maze area. You will know it when you see it.

Last year, Daft-Punk did an epic score for Tron:Legacy where the music became a character of the film. Now, The Chemical Brothers have done something similar with their high energy techno score which perfectly holds the film together. When you're watching the film, you will almost want to nod your head with the beat of the music but you are also engaged in the story, which is awesome!

All around, Hanna is a fascinating piece of cinema that must be seen. I highly recommend the film, hence the 4.5 BDK rating!

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Your Highness Your Highness
Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK Half BDK
Danny McBride is a very talented comedian so I am going to simply look past this mostly unfunny, overlong and absolutely ridiculous film. There are jokes throughout the film that may make you laugh out loud but those are very few and far between. The rest of the film moves along at an unbelievably slow pace. I wanted nothing more than this film to end. Then, the trick hits you. A stroke of genius! A magical laugh will weasel it's way into the film and then you are hooked again. You will think to yourself, "Ah, this isn't so bad!" Though, when you look back on that laugh, you realize it was just a trick to keep you in the theater. Am I reading in to this too much? Look, Danny McBride had to be on something when he wrote this so maybe it's better to be on something when you see it (I am referring to alcohol as I do not condone the use of any illegal substance). I could see a bunch of friends, sitting around drinking and watching this movie at their place on a Friday night. Just beware that this movie is essentially a dumbed down version of a Cheech & Chong flick. Your Highness is not worth going to pay to see it in theatres. Wait for the rental!

As I side note, I do want to say that as I left the theatre, I was regretfully informed that one of the best shots of the film was actually fake. This has nothing to do with the review of the film but I feel it is my duty to tell people that the scene where Natalie Portman is in a bikini bottom is a body double. (If this is not true, please email me at

The film stars James Franco (127 Hours, Pineapple Express), Danny McBride (Pineapple Express, Hot Rod), Natalie Portman (Black Swan, The Professional), Zooey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer, Yes, Man) and Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder, Mulhulland Drive).

First of all, does anyone have any idea when this film takes place? It looks like medieval times yet the characters talk like they are from present day. It doesn't really matter but that little tidbit kind of bothered me. Franco and McBride play Fabious and Thadeous, two princes who have to team up together to rescue Fabious' bride (played by Deschanel). Fabious (Franco) has always been the popular prince, considering he will take the throne after his father. Thadeous has always been the outsider who no one appreciates. He has always wanted to be king but since Fabious is older, he gets to the throne first. After Fabious' bride-to-be gets kidnapped by the evil Leezar (Theroux), Thadeous joins his brother on a mission to prove that he is important to this family. Along the way, they pick up a young beautiful woman named Isabel (Portman) who has a similar mission to destroy Leezar. Honestly, after writing that plot line, I feel dumb. The movie is just so ridiculous. Oh and I forgot that they smoke marijuana the entire film.

This is easily one of the hardest reviews I've ever had to write. I just don't know what to say because the movie is all over the place. There were times where it was boring and times where it was funny. Then there were times where it became too over-the-top and there were times where it was underwhelming. It just felt like a gigantic mess to me. It was if everyone in the cast used the movie as an excuse to hang out and this is what became of the film.

I would wait for the rental so you can have a couple of beers while watching it. Your Highness is not worth the price of a theatre admission ticket, hence the 1.5 BDK rating.

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Arthur Arthur
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Released: 2011
Rating: BDK BDK Half BDK
Arthur is probably a flick that did not need to be remade but Russell Brand's charismatic portrayal is definitely worth a viewing. The guy is infectious on screen and even when he plays characters you may not like, he still makes you laugh. He's taking on a rather iconic movie character here, made famous by Dudley Moore, and completely makes it his own. Interestingly enough, the film felt more sweet and innocent than I thought it would be, considering Brand's earlier work. That's not to say the film does not contain sexual references but the overall theme felt very sweet. That sweetness comes from a wonderful performance from Greta Gerwig. The contrast between Gerwig's character and Jennifer Garner's character was perfect. The writers really make you dislike Garner from the get-go even though she is absolutely gorgeous. Arthur is the perfect movie to see as a matinee viewing as I think you will walk feeling it was not a waste of time.

The film is a remake of the 1981 classic staring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. The 2011 remake stars comedian Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him To the Greek), Greta Gerwig (No Strings Attached, Greenberg), Jennifer Garner (Daredevil, Catch and Release), Helen Mirren (The Queen, Red) and Luiz Guzman (Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love).

The story revolves around Arthur (Brand) having to make a decision between love and money. Classic story obviously, but Brand does bring his comedic spin to the table. After his father passed away, Arthur and his mother (played by Geraldine James) essentially split apart and Arthur was raised by his nanny, Hobson (played by Helen Mirren). Now that he is older, Arthur gets in lots of trouble which causes millions of dollars in damage to the city of New York. His mom is fed up with it and threatens to take away his $950 million unless he marries a wealthy business woman named Susan (Garner). Though, out of the blue, he meets a beautiful and quirky woman named Naomi, with whom he actually falls in love with. So now he has to choose between the $950 million which would put him in a marriage with someone he hates or lose the money and marry the girl he loves.

The ultimate question here is whether or not this movie really needed to be remade. The short answer is; no! Does that necessarily make the movie bad? Not really, but it just seems pointless and forgettable. The movie is entertaining and Russell Brand does hook you in with his personality but after you leave the theatre, the movie is very forgettable. So if you're looking for a sweet and innocent escape at the movies, you can certainly find it here but just don't expect anything new or great.

The movie is just very average and that's the bottom line. Did I enjoy myself while I watched it? Sure but would I recommend spending the $12-$15 dollars to see it in theatres? No, I can't really justify that. There aren't enough laughs throughout as the movie takes a more sweet and innocent angle. The crude humor is there but the story is very sweet. I really did enjoy the chemistry between Great Gerwig and Russell Brand but the best chemistry comes from Mirren and Brand. They worked well off of each other and that is kind of what saves the movie. Though, they do ruin most of their best scenes in the trailer. Shocker, they put the funniest parts in the trailer.

I would recommend a matinee/rental on Arthur, hence the 2.5 BDK rating.

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Source Code Source Code
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Released: 2011
You know a movie is great when really need to go to the bathroom but find yourself so intrigued that you are glued your seat. That is exactly the feeling Duncan Jones created with Source Code, a high-octane thrill ride which is perfectly paced and enormously intriguing. On top of the great story-telling, you have a great emotional performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. Like Leonardo DiCaprio, Gyllenhaal has one of those faces that can make me cry when he cries. Every time Gyllenhaal is on screen, you feel his pain and suffering as he goes through the same cycle over and over. The great aspect of this film is that while it seems confusing on the surface, Jones tells the story with the greatest of ease. The only problem I have is that I wish Jones ended the movie about five minutes early. I won't give it away but I will just say that I wish he ended it on the "freeze frame."

Source Code stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Jarhead), Michelle Mognahan (Gone Baby Gone, Eagle Eye), Vera Farmiga (The Departed, Up In the Air) and Jeffrey Wright (Broken Flowers, Syriana).

The idea behind the film is that when we die, our brain slowly fades out like a light bulb when you turn it off. There is still a little something there and that little something is a memory of the last eight minutes of your life. The military has figured out a way to access those eight minutes using a program called Source Code. Within these eight minutes, they can find information that could save lives. In this case, a train has just blown up killing hundreds of people during a morning commute. One of the men on this train fits the exact same build and height at Lt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal). Unknowingly, Stevens is placed inside this man's body to re-live his last eight minutes. The job is to find out where the bomb is and who the bomber may be so that the military can stop a future massive attack. The Source Code program is being run by Dr. Rutledge (Wright) and Colleen Goodwin (Farmiga). The man's body that Stevens has entered is sitting across from a beautiful brunette woman (Moghnahan) who he happens to fall for which makes his mission much more personal.

Every second of this movie is fun and exhilarating. Even though I wish Duncan Jones ended it about five minutes earlier, you will be on the edge of your seat the entire time. I understand that's a cliché statement, but it's entirely true. Each and every time Gyllenhaal's character re-enters the last eight minutes of this man's life, you are curious as to if he will succeed. Since he only has these eight minutes, he has to duplicate things he did in the previous eight minutes. So we the audience starts to remember everything with him. It's as if we are on the same mission he is; looking for clues, etc.

Besides having thrilling action sequences, the film works on an emotional level as well. We start to feel this chemistry between Jake and Michelle's characters. We want them to be together but we know from the get go that she dies in that train explosion. Therefore, we, like Jake's character, are looking for ways to possibly save her. That is one of the key ideas that keep the audience involved emotionally.

Source Code could have ended about five minutes early and the film would have been perfect. As it stands, the film is still great and well-deserving of a 4 BDK rating. Catch it in theatres this weekend!

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