2012

[7.5] Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in this tale of two clinically depressed people (he’s diagnosed bipolar) who strike up an unusual relationship. She teaches him to dance with her for an upcoming competition in exchange for delivering letters to his ex-wife, who has a restraining order against him. While he obsesses over the ex, Lawrence begins to pine for Cooper. Everything comes to …

[4.5] Tim Burton’s big-screen adaptation of Dan Curtis’ cult TV show Dark Shadows wants to be a comedy about a vampire transplanted from centuries past into the 1970s. That movie – one that focused on the vampire’s relationships with his surviving relatives, perhaps gaining their trust by helping them financially — could have been a good one. And thirty minutes into the movie, it looks …

[7.5] Lee Daniels (Precious, The Butler) directs this moody piece about a college dropout who helps his older brother investigate the murder of a police officer. The convicted killer’s girlfriend joins the investigation to help prove his innocence. Zac Efron and Matthew McConnaughey play the brothers and Nicole Kidman plays the girlfriend — each of them showing range and abilities you haven’t seen from them …

[6.5] Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, and Reese Witherspoon star in this McG-directed comedy-action flick about two CIA guys who find themselves competing for the same woman’s affections. The script is born of stale formula, but the plot is kept out of the way enough for the personalities to breathe free. The result is a good star vehicle for its two leading men, but not so …

[5.0] Dustin Hoffman directs this tepid comedy/drama based on Ronald Harwood’s play about geriatrics putting on a concert at a home for retired muscians. Maggie Smith stars as the facility’s newest resident. She’s nervous about seeing an old flame (Tom Courtenay) and former compadres (Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins), all of whom try to coax her out of retirement to sing once more at the concert. …

[6.5] Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill star in this big-screen adaptation of the Fox TV show, about two young cops who go undercover at a high school to help find the supplier for a new, deadly drug. Young directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) do well with Michael Bacall’s (Manic, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) screenplay, keeping things light, irreverent, and even …

[7.0] Director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity) does a better job than most others in the past ten years bringing a superhero franchise to the big screen. What makes The Avengers work are character and humor, the elements from which Whedon has constructed a downright rabid cult empire. None of the ensemble cast get slighted in screen-time and Whedon does an admirable job …

[6.5] Ridley Scott returns to the Alien franchise in a movie that really didn’t need to be an Alien movie, and would have been better if it were not. The first two-thirds are pretty solid sci-fi thriller fare, as the story’s ensemble cast of space faring scientists and corporate ne’er-do-wells arrive at a mysterious planet that may hold the key to humankind’s origins. I knew going …

[6.0] The latest film from Steven Soderbergh (Sex Lies and Videotape) is more of a bait and switch than I would have liked. Based loosely on the real life stripping exploits of star Channing Tatum, the film promises the fun and sizzle of a cheeky male revue. And while there are a good number of hot (and often hilarious) strip-show scenes, the narrative ultimately melts …

[6.5] Mark Wahlberg stars as a man whose childhood Christmas wish came true, giving him a walking, talking teddy bear buddy for life. The film is directed by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, and bares all the pop culture references, flashbacks, and sacrilege of his cartoon work. Ted certainly has its fill of good jokes — Patrick Stewart’s narration and spectacular references to Flash Gordon …

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