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  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

    Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

    ★★★★★

    Gibbs: "The wind's on our side, boys! That's all we need!"

    Elizabeth: "HOIST THE COLORS!"

    I'm the maniac whose favorite Pirates of the Caribbean movie is At World's End, a grandiose Hollywood epic the likes of which has yet to be matched since its release. Gore Verbinski delivers more than just coherent and engaging large-scale plot machinations. He slides fluidly between tragic, operatic, and comedic tones while also painting his canvas with sandy beach whites, stormy greys, barnacle greens, and…

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

    Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

    ★★★★★

    Elizabeth: "No! This is barbaric! This is no way for grown men to settle... oh, fine! Let's just haul out our swords and start banging away at each other! That will solve everything! I've had it! I've had it with wobbly-legged, rum-soaked pirates!"

    Any sequels to an against-all-odds success like The Curse of the Black Pearl (which, let's remember, was based on an amusement park ride overseen by Walt himself in his twilight years) would be easy cash-ins. That the…

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  • The Avengers

    The Avengers

    Alice: "Sir August's demands. He wants them delivered directly to the Prime Minister."

    Mother: "Ten percent of our gross national product annually? That's preposterous. There will be no negotiation."

    Alice: "His words exactly. He says unless we accept his demands, the weather will keep getting colder and colder until we'll all have to go to Hell just to warm up."

    Warner Bros. chopped off about 30 minutes of The Avengers after a disastrous test screening with a predominantly Spanish-speaking audience…

  • Wild Wild West

    Wild Wild West

    ½

    Had to undergo expensive reshoots because test audiences weren't sure if they were supposed to laugh. What a waste of money, considering the end result is just a nonstop barrage of unfunny sex jokes made at women's expense. The villains are either grotesque deformities or scantily-clad bodyguard babes. Ted Levine, Bai Ling, and Salma Hayek are all saddled with worthless plot-irrelevant characters. Loveless's spider obsession is never explained textually; you'd need to know the now-infamous Jon Peters backstory to understand…

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  • School of Rock

    School of Rock

    ½

    I used to really like this film.

    Back in the day, I worked at Hollywood Video. For those of you who are too young to know what this business was, it allowed people to rent VHS tapes and DVDs inside a brick & mortar store, for stupidly high prices with ridiculous late fees that would cause customers to yell at me.

    Anyway, one of my co-workers was Rob. All things considered, he's a cool guy. But Rob was/is a huge Jack…

  • Jupiter Ascending

    Jupiter Ascending

    ★★★★★

    This is a movie that keeps getting better on repeated viewings. With only two hours to craft a new universe that's crammed with more detail than any of their previous works, the Wachowskis by necessity move the story - populated with a huge cast of characters - along quickly and expect you to keep up. I couldn't during the first time around, which caused me to give up trying to follow what was happening, leading to disappointment and boredom. But…