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  • Frozen

    Frozen 2013

    ★★ Watched 12 Jan, 2014 1

    Wasn't overly fussed over this, despite finding the snowman amusing (sometimes I'm easy to please) and really getting on with some of its sly subversions of expectation toward the end. But I'd rather the whole film challenged Disney's staid animated projects than the last 10 minutes, and I didn't find any of the songs to be memorable even while watching it, much less nearly a week later. In terms of Disney's last few projects, I'm still more enamored with TANGLED,…

  • Man of Steel

    Man of Steel 2013

    ★½ Watched 14 Jun, 2013 1

    Nightmarishly ponderous in its development of thin themes and sense of identity, which it promptly ignores as Superman causes as much damage as he averts. The death toll of this film, even leaving out the Kryptonian extinction, must rate in the millions, and something snapped in me right around the time Kal-El has an intimate kiss in a Ground Zero partially of his own making. I don't know what's worse: Marvel's glib mass destruction, papered over with light sarcasm, or…

  • Godzilla

    Godzilla 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 12 May, 2014 1

    In an otherwise embarrassingly gung-ho review of the film in Little White Lies, a shout-out to painter John Martin provides a good prism through which to view GODZILLA. Yes, the first act's a drag, and the film flirts with some kind of political statement before swiftly falling back on the more straightforward "Let them fight" tone of the original sequels, not the '54 film. Having to spend any time with Aaron Taylor-Johnson will never not feel like punishment.

    But when…

  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 2013

    ★★★ Watched 23 Nov, 2013

    A marked improvement over the first, effectively replaying all of the elements that could have been done well the first time but with more refinement. The cast is excellent—though NO ONE could salvage some of these lines—and what we lost in Wes Bentley's beard we make up for in PSH's smarm, a double-dose of agreeable twitchiness from Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer, and Jena Malone being Jena Malone. There also seemed to be an actual world this time, as opposed…

  • Batman Begins

    Batman Begins 2005

    ★★★★ Rewatched 15 Sep, 2012

    I underrated this as much as I overrated TDK and TDKR. Gotham is given actual character, the dialogue is (relatively) on-point instead of didactic, and Batman actually FEELS like Batman, using stealth and intelligence over the brute force approach of the sequels. The first act still drags, and a few narrative choices and lines land with thuds, but overall this is the clear highlight of Nolan's trilogy.

  • Dallas Buyers Club

    Dallas Buyers Club 2013

    ½ Watched 25 Feb, 2014 34

    It's easy, if one only ever has to suffer a few times a year the no-budget, no-talent indies dumped on one-week NY runs and burned onto screener discs, to have a charmed view of what constitutes a bad film. Truth be told, with the number of films produced domestically exploding in recent years thanks to mass proliferation of acceptable-quality, cheap DV, it's a good bet that the vast majority of American movies made each year now consist of films made…

  • Star Trek Into Darkness

    Star Trek Into Darkness 2013

    ★½ Watched 16 May, 2013

    I've only just gotten into TNG and sporadically watched TOS, so I'm not a die-hard at all, but this is so far from what Star Trek is it is truly repulsive. "I thought we were explorers," Scotty protests right around the time I thought the same thing, but the idealism of Gene Roddenberry is unfashionable, so instead we get slick cynicism and an utter lack of consequences. To begin the film with a casual violation of the Prime Directive that…

  • The Hunger Games

    The Hunger Games 2012

    ★★½ Watched 23 Mar, 2012

    I've not read the book, but the movie made me want to; it's full of fascinating ideas and the most clever extrapolation of human behavior I've seen come from a YA novel. Unfortunately, this half-directed mess is struggling for its PG-13 rating and has to cut around everything in a shaky cam frenzy. Every time I thought the film might truly stick a knife in the audience, it settled for jumbling them instead. A shame.

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014

    ★★½ Watched 08 Jul, 2014

    Truly jaw-dropping special effects backed up by direction that is never more than serviceable (though at least not as frenetic as its peers), and a plodding series of clichés that would be absolutely fine if they did not present themselves as Piercing Truths. This movie is the equivalent of the genre fan who never watches anything without an exploding squib but nonetheless feels sufficiently elite to lean in and whisper, "You know, the real danger in a zombie movie is…

  • Prometheus

    Prometheus 2012

    ★½ Watched 13 Jun, 2012

    This film does absolutely nothing well and doesn't say anything that wasn't said with more power in a dozen other works of literary and cinematic art.

  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

    The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 2013

    ★★ Watched 14 Dec, 2013

    For all the touted 3D and HFR-smoothed movement, this film is at its best when it is showcasing static objects: the mangled shards of Dol Guldor, the impossibly huge room in Erebor that replicates and vastly expands the shot of interior sand dunes in STALKER, albeit with a floor made of mounds of gold. Don't get me wrong, everything is still overlit to hell to compensate for its double-gimmick format, but at least Middle-Earth no longer looks quite so much…

  • Prisoners

    Prisoners 2013

    ★★ Watched 21 Sep, 2013 1

    A promising opening that moves quickly but patiently through the realization of children gone missing, allowing comprehension to dawn on parents without taking too long to get to the event, soon collapses as Villeneuve's arthouse-thriller aesthetic puts enough space in the shots that the distended, half-connected threads of the script have more room to fall apart. The film's greatest tension is in the total incompatibility of its forced stabs at social relevance (which at least aren't as clumsily on the…