A formulaic and uninspired sequel, Mean Girls 2 is as vapid and… MoreA formulaic and uninspired sequel, Mean Girls 2 is as vapid and shallow as the girls it tries to mock. After transferring to a new school, Jo Mitchell finds herself caught up in an ongoing rivalry between two rich girls when she refuses to bend to the demands of the leader of the Plastics; an elite high school clique. Meaghan Jette Martin, Maiara Walsh, and Claire Holt lead the cast and give fairly decent performances, but the rest of the cast is garbage. And the writing is also rather poor, relying on bad cliches and cheesy dialog. Mean Girls 2 isn't a terrible film, but it's not trying to be a good film either...and the laziness shows.
Derivative and formulaic, Mean Girls tries to put a new spin on some… MoreDerivative and formulaic, Mean Girls tries to put a new spin on some old material. Scripted by SNL alumna Tina Fey, the story follows a former home school student who gets a crash course in the high school social hierarchy when she goes to public school for the first time and is taken in by the Plastics: the most popular clique in the school. Starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, and Amanda Seyfried, the film features a fresh, young cast that has a lot of charisma. And the storytelling is pretty entertaining and fun...until the last act. Unfortunately, the film takes a major turn at the end and becomes a preachy after school special. Though Mean Girls shows some ambition, it ultimately sticks to the cliches.
From writer/director Amy Heckerling comes the teen comedy Clueless.… MoreFrom writer/director Amy Heckerling comes the teen comedy Clueless. When a superficial valley girl attempts to become more altruistic she takes a new transfer student at her high school under her wing and mentors her. Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, and Breckin Meyer lead the cast and have good chemistry together. However, it's Silverstone's charisma that gives the film its charm and personality. Still, the ditziness of the characters gets a little annoying and their conflicts are rather mundane. Additionally, there's a bit of weirdness with a step-sibling romance. Clueless has some interesting things to say and a positive social message, but it tries too hard.
One of John Hughes' seminal films, Pretty in Pink is a coming-of-age… MoreOne of John Hughes' seminal films, Pretty in Pink is a coming-of-age romantic drama. Starring Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Annie Potts, Andrew McCarthy, and James Spader, the casting is exceptional. The story follows a poor girl from a lower class family who finds herself conflicted when she's asked out by one of her classmates who's part of an upper class clique. The script is especially well-written, particularly the characters; who feel authentic and fun. The soundtrack is also quite impressive, and features the pop hit "If You Leave" by OMD. A landmark film of the '80s, Pretty in Pink speaks to the social and personal struggles that teenagers face.
John Cusack stars in Cameron Crowe's '80s cult classic Say Anything.… MoreJohn Cusack stars in Cameron Crowe's '80s cult classic Say Anything. A typical teen rom-com, the story follows a high school valedictorian who's been sheltered for most of her life, but when she falls for a young man over the summer she begins to question her priorities. Co-starring Ione Skye, Lili Taylor, John Mahoney, and Eric Stoltz, the cast is rather interesting and the performances are pretty good. However, it's Cusack's charisma that really sells the film and makes the romance work. There are some script problems though, as some of the subplots don't seem to further the main story arc. While there are some problems here and there, overall Say Anything... is an entertaining and heartfelt teen comedy.
Enchanting and magical, Winter's Tale is a unique blending of period… MoreEnchanting and magical, Winter's Tale is a unique blending of period drama and fantasy. The story follows a thief in early 20th century New York City who falls in love with an heiress who's terminally ill, but dark forces conspire to prevent their love from taking hold. Starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, and Russell Crowe, the casting is fairly strong and their performances are quite good. Additionally, the look of the film is extraordinary, and gives New York City a surreal, storybook feel. Also, composers Rupert Gregson-Williams and Hans Zimmer provide a transcendent score that pairs beautifully with the visual aesthetic. Delightfully charming, Winter's Tale is a romantic and stylish film that captures the imagination.
Based on true events, Devil's Knot is a disturbing look at the… MoreBased on true events, Devil's Knot is a disturbing look at the American justice system. Responding to the public outcry over the murder of three young boys, the police quickly arrest three teenagers for the crime; but a criminal investigator for the defense soon discovers that there's no solid evidence tying the teens to the murders. Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, and Bruce Greenwood lead the cast and give solid performances. The courtroom drama scenes are also fairly good, and add an element of tension and suspense to the film. Still, it's made pretty clear which way the trial's going to go and the characters don't have much depth to them. While Devil's Knot isn't the most compelling of true crime films, it does provide a provocative look at the effect that mass hysteria can have on a small community.
Transcendence is a high-concept thriller that presents some… MoreTranscendence is a high-concept thriller that presents some fascinating ideas about the future of technology. When a terrorist group guns down Dr. Will Caster he uploads his consciousness to an experimental A.I. computer system, and with the help of his wife he escapes to a remote research facility where he begins a new project that will revolutionize the world. Starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, and Morgan Freeman, the casting is exceptionally good and features some impressive performances (especially Hall's). And it's quite interesting how the film explores issue of consciousness, individuality, and technological evolution; particularly given that no clear-cut answers are given, rather the director allows for a measure of ambiguity. Additionally, the set designs and special effects are remarkably well-done, creating a captivating high-tech aesthetic. Provocative and full of intrigue, Transcendence is a smart and exciting science-fiction adventure.
A gritty martial arts film, The Raid: Redemption delivers non-stop… MoreA gritty martial arts film, The Raid: Redemption delivers non-stop action. The story is rather derivative, a special police unit finds itself cutoff and outgunned while attempting to take down a crime lord who controls an entire apartment complex. There's some attempt to personalize the characters, but they're all generic good guys and bad guys (more or less). But the film's about action, and the stunt choreography is incredible, delivering some really creative and tense fight sequences. However, before long the fights become a bit contrived and gratuitous. While The Raid: Redemption may be a little one-dimensional at times, it's still pretty intense and exciting.
Liam Neeson continues his action movie streak with Non-Stop, a… MoreLiam Neeson continues his action movie streak with Non-Stop, a high-adrenaline thriller. While on a flight to London air marshal Bill Marks receives a ransom demand from a mysterious hijacker who threatens to kill a passenger every 20 mins. until he receives $150 million. The script is pretty well-written in how it develops the hijacking scenario and builds the tension and suspense. However, the characters aren't fleshed out that much and the reveal of the hijackers comes out of nowhere. Yet, the fast paced action keeps things moving and the story is engaging. Entertaining and fun, Non-Stop is a solid popcorn film.