Skyfall

Add Comment on October 23, 2012 by James Rocchi
Skyfall

With its beautiful camerawork, tight editing and propulsive plot, Skyfall, the latest in the 50-year-old series of Bond films, seems like a guaranteed moneymaker and a good thing. Still, while director Sam Mendes, aided and abetted by a crack technical team, delivers big-screen action with panache and style, something about this Bond feels a little off. Mendes himself has said that his template for this movie was Nolan's Batman films—and while that makes for a dark and diverting film, it also makes for one that, at times, feels a little too closely-cribbed from the psychodrama and themes of Gotham. Squint at Skyfall and you'll swear you're watching Bruce Wayne.

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Alex Cross

Add Comment on October 18, 2012 by Pete Hammond
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Rebooting novelist James Patterson's famous Alex Cross character for the big screen, Tyler Perry aims at new cinematic territory and scores a bullseye as the Detroit detective embroiled in a hunt for a mega-evil killer that turns personal. Perry is like we have never seen him before in an emotional, powerhouse performance that doesn't let up, and the simply-named Alex Cross should be a solid box office achiever that draws in both Perry's loyal fan base and aficionados of the police thriller genre. Add in an unnerving turn from Lost star Matthew Fox as Cross' main nemesis and the recipe for success is there. Madea this ain't.

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Paranormal Activity 4

Add Comment on October 17, 2012 by James Rocchi
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After purchasing Paranormal Activity, a simple-but-scary horror film ostensibly made from home surveillance and camcorder footage of unnatural events within a suburban home, Paramount Pictures found it had a clear money-maker—and better, a clear money-maker that didn't cost much money to make. Sequels followed as surely as fall does summer, but the biggest surprise in the Paranormal films wasn't in any of the movie's jump-scares or depth-of-field tricks. Rather, the surprise in the franchise was in how it stayed good (or, less optimistically, barely declined) as the series progressed.

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Cloud Atlas

Add Comment on October 15, 2012 by Mark Keizer
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David Mitchell's post-modern, head-spinning novel Cloud Atlas (2004) was long considered by no less an authority than the author himself, unfilmable. It was declared too expensive to produce, and too sprawling, dense and complex to successfully convey cinematically. Yet if film audiences have learned anything in the last 15 years, it's that Tom Tykwer (Perfume) and the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix) are not afraid of expensive, sprawling, dense and complex projects. All three, even in failure, are virtuosic technical directors and they prove it again here, sweeping us away in a sextet of stories that jump back and forth across half a millennia. In book form, the chronologically roomy environment allowed Mitchell to excite, challenge and enlighten his readers.

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Flight

Add Comment on October 15, 2012 by Vadim Rizov
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In Robert Zemeckis' Flight, an ethical dilemma is drowned by a stock alcohol addiction-and-recovery saga that's in turn overshadowed by what the MPAA aptly describes as "an intense action sequence." Commercial pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington), drunk but in control, responds heroically to mechanical malfunction on his morning flight, guiding his nose-diving plane to earth and saving 96 passengers out of 102. A 94% survival rate isn't shabby, but a National Transportation Safety Board investigation threatens to put Whip in jail if his drinking can be linked to passenger deaths. Whip boozes through his legal troubles and spirals closer to the bottom.

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Here Comes the Boom

Add Comment on October 11, 2012 by Amy Nicholson
Boom

If Viola Davis could throw a punch, Won't Back Down would have ended a lot differently. But Kevin James can—kinda—so instead of fighting teacher's unions, this month's second flick about failing schools has a different solution: make the biology teacher fight MMA. (Though that means facing 205 lb heavyweight Krzysztof Soszynski, James may have the easier task.) Here Comes the Boom is Rocky for fifth graders, with enough pro-school propaganda to make parents think it's worth the price of popcorn. Like James in the ring, it doesn't pack a lot of power, but it comes out swinging and sweats for applause. Boom won't be a box office knockout, but if it hits its target audience of preteens, it can leave theaters a humble success.

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Sinister

Add Comment on October 09, 2012 by James Rocchi
Sinister

Something sinister could have come out of Sinister, which stars Ethan Hawke as a struggling true-crime writer whose determination to get close to the truth of a grisly murder in a small town puts his family in peril. But Sinister is pretty much everything to hate about modern horror in one mixed bag, a ramshackle teardown of jump-scares and creaky tricks, saw-it-coming "surprises" and the lead-footed thud of inevitability as it tediously places one clumsy foot in front of the other, plodding towards a finale that comes far too late. Horror fans—looking at a limited slate of possible scares and startles in the lead-up to Halloween—will probably give it a brief burst of moneymaking at the box office.

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