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Fantasy

Film Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit:: An Unexpected Journey

The prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy films, The Hobbit tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, an unassuming hobbit who finds adventure with a group of dwarves on a quest to reclaim their ancestral home. Unsure of himself, Bilbo comes to realize that he's more adventurous than he ever realized.

Also starring Radagast the Brown Wizard.

Movie Rating: 
8

Film Review: Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch

When a young girl (Emily Browning) and her younger sister lose their mother to illness, they are subsequently abused by their stepfather. In an attempt to defend her younger sister, Baby Doll (Browning) fires a gun at her stepfather and inadvertantly kills her sister. She is sent to a mental institution where her stepfather puts her under the control of a corrupt orderly named Blue Isaac (Oscar Isaac) who pimps the girls out to wealthy clients. As Baby Doll listens to her stepfather and Blue Isaac discuss her 'future' she learns that she will be lobotomized in just five days time. She formulates an escape plan that requires her (and her new friends) to enter an alternate fantasy world and do battle with dragons, steampunk zombie Nazis and robots.

Movie Rating: 
3

Film Review: X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

The year is 1962 and Dr. Charles Xavier creates a school in Westchester County, New York -- a 'School for Gifted and Talented Youngsters'. In reality, Dr. Xavier has assembled a group of children who represent the next step in human evolution: mutants with superhuman abilities.

Will he train them in time to prevent a former Nazi concentration camp doctor from starting a nuclear armageddon? The X-Men movie franchise gets a Batmen Begins-style reboot prequel and it is very groovy.

Can you dig it, turkey?

Movie Rating: 
9

Film Review: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

Sweeping across a disquieting clockwork map, an epic score swelling in the background, the opening sequence of HBO's Game of Thrones promises viewers another quasi-historical show. Perhaps in the vein of the Tudors or the Borgias - with a bit of the fantastic added for spice. It is HBO, so we are anticipating alot of skin and carnage. But as readers of the book it is adapted from know, Game of Thrones frequently subverts the expected with a vengeance, karma is constantly thwarted, and the best laid plans crumble to dust.

Movie Rating: 
8

Film Review: The Call of Cthulhu

The Call of Cthulhu

Reviewing any film that attempts to bring H.P. Lovecraft's work to the big screen usually has this reviewer standing inside a protective pentagram and loading up on amulets to protect me from some serious bad movie mojo. For definitive proof, I offer up for sacrifice The Dunwich Horror. May an eldritch demon from out of time and space rend that celluloid nightmare forever and ever. Amen.

Even movies that are not explicit recreations of a Lovecraft story and merely aspire to have 'Lovecraftian' elements (monsters with tentacles, insanity-provoking encounters, etc.) usually fail spectacularly. Some filmmakers have successfully incorporated Lovecraftian elements (In the Mouth of Madness and the Hellboy franchise, in addition to ReAnimator and From Beyond) but they are surprisingly rare and require that the producers take some serious artistic license. In The Call of Cthulhu Lovecraft fans will finally find some relief -- a faithful telling of an HPL story that works.

Movie Rating: 
8

Film Review: TRON: Legacy

TRON: Legacy

Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) is the scion of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) -- a Steve Jobs-like computer genius whose megacorporation has changed the world since he disappeared over fifteen years ago when Sam was just a boy. Sam still owns the majority of the company and is fabulously wealthy but spends his time hacking the company's servers. With a populist flourish Sam posts their new (and very expensive) server software to the Internet as a free download.

His father's old friend Alan (Bruce Boxleitner, who starred as the hero 'Tron' from the original film) checks up on Sam and urges him to take over the company and change its direction, but Sam will have none of it. Until Alan tells Sam that he got a page from his father's old video game arcade. Sam investigates and falls down a digital rabbit hole called 'The Grid'  where a digital tyrant named CLU is waiting for him.

Movie Rating: 
6

Film Review: Lord of Illusions

Lord of Illusions

Scott Bakula is New York private investigator Harry D'Amour. Harry's problem is that no matter how mundane a case he tackles, they always curve towards the dark side, again and again.

While investigating a routine case in Los Angeles he stumbles upon the members of a dead cult. He finds a palm reader mortally wounded by the cult members, and he sets D'Amour on the trail, which leads to Dorothea (Famke Janssen), the wife of famed stage illusionist Phillip Swann (Kevin J. O'Connor). She  hires Harry to track down the cult members who she believes are trying to kill her husband.

Predictably, Dorothea only tells Harry as much about the cult as she thinks he needs to know, and Harry's investigations lead him to discover that among stage magicians, Dorothea's husband is universally loathed, despite the fame and fortune his incredible shows have generated. It seems the other magicians (no, illusionists) believe that what Swann does on stage is 'tainted' -- by real magic.

Movie Rating: 
8

Film Review: Legion

Legion

Apocalyptic events unfold in a middle-of-nowhere diner named (naturally) Paradise Falls, when God finally throws His hands up at mankind's intransigent stupidity and sends angels to destroy humanity. At the aforementioned diner a pregnant waitress named Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) prepares to become a single mother. When she's not delivering hamburgers to tables she's politely fending off the earnest chivalry of Jeep Hanson (Lucas Black), the son of the diner's owner (solidly played by Dennis Quaid).

Charlie continually refuses Jeep's tentative advances. Still, he spends his spare time knitting baby blankets and refinishing a crib. Throw in a predictably arrogant rich couple and a sluttily-dressed daughter, a black guy from the 'hood, and a soulful short order cook (Charles S. Dutton) for flavor, and you've got your human microcosm. The Archangel Michael (formerly the general of God's Heavenly Army) arrives in time to aid the defenders, having cut off his own wings in order to help mankind through it's final moments. He's brought a car trunk filled with automatic weapons, hooray!

Movie Rating: 
6

Film Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim

Popular entertainment, as many know and lament, has at times a strange obsession with youth. The problem, really, is the type of youth which is chooses to represent. We've seen the gilded young things of 90210 or Gossip Girl, the slackers and cool dudes of Ferris Bueller and Back to the Future and the young wizards and hobbits of recent fantasy films. Scott Pilgrim is not about these. Like 2010's other alt. comic book film, Kick Ass, it's about geeks and gamers, cynical, (sometimes) intelligent, underachieving youths.

Movie Rating: 
9

Film Review: Clash of the Titans (2010)

Clash of the Titans

The ancient Greek version of Bruce Willis, Perseus, is back in Clash of the Titans 2: Clash Harder. Director Louis Leterrier casts Sam Worthington (of Avatar and Terminator Salvation fame) as the mythical Greek hero. Liam Neeson feels miscast as Zeus, Lord of Olympus, through no fault of his own. Like every film franchise of old, the film gets a 'reboot' and we end up with a decent popcorn flick, with Perseus re-imagined with a dash of unwilling anti-hero, and the original story (the myth, not just the dated but well-loved 1981 version) are re-written.

Movie Rating: 
5

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