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Review: Mr. Peabody & Sherman photo
Review: Mr. Peabody & Sherman
by Nick Valdez

When Dreamworks first announced their plans to turn Peabody's Improbable History (a short which ran during The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show featuring Mr. Peabody and his boy companion, Sherman) into a full length animated film, I was a little worried that my once beloved cartoon (I used to wake up at three in the morning in order to catch reruns of it on Cartoon Network) would be run through the standard generic animated blender everything seems to go through now. Little did I know I would be so, so wrong. 

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is remarkably smart, adorable, educational, referential, heartwarming, effervescent, hilarious, and even a little rude. But most of all, it's improbably entertaining.

Which is exactly the way I like my Peabody. 

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Review: Child's Pose photo
Review: Child's Pose
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

At first glance, Child's Pose is making a political statement about the class divide present in modern day Romania. The narrative of a wealthy family trying to skirt its responsibilities to a poor family is heavily charged, and for much of the film's first half, I expected to open this review with some statement about how wealth and connections in the modern age can literally let people get away with murder. 

But then things changed. The class thing became less important, and the story became a whole lot more personal, because Child's Pose isn't really a film about how much power the wealthy hold over the poor. It's about the depths of motherly love.

Or rather, motherly obsession.

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Review: 3 Days to Kill photo
Review: 3 Days to Kill
by Michael Jordan

3 Days to Kill is oddly complicated, and it has the potential to lose people right from the start. To understand this review you will have to keep that in mind, as what the movie appears to be and what the actual movie is are two totally different things.

With that said, you are going to want to see 3 Days to Kill, even if the ride to the end of this roller coaster is extremely bumpy. 

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Review: Pompeii photo
Review: Pompeii
by Matthew Razak

I'm all for a mixing of genres. Comedy/horror? Golden. Dramatic comedy? Awesome. Sci-fi/action? Great. It usually works for the best. You get a little of one thing you like and then a bit of another. Pompeii is what happens when genre mixing goes horribly wrong, turning what could have been a decent disaster movie into some sort of melodramatic romance replete with an awkward remake of Gladiator.

The thinking seems to be that when you already know that everyone is going to die at the end it makes it kind of hard to make any plot interesting so why not try them all out and see if any stick. None do... other than Kit Harrington's abs.

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Review: Almost Human photo
Review: Almost Human
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I've realized something important in the past year or two: I don't really like period pieces. I like watching films from other eras and seeing them as they represent their own culture and time, but I don't really like seeing them try to reminisce about a better (or worse) point in history. The further back it goes, the less interested I am. There are exceptions to be made, of course, but they're few and far in between. 

Almost Human is set in the late 1980s, which would be a strike against it, if it wasn't for the fact that its time period is all but irrelevant. It would be basically the same movie if it was set in 2013 as it is set in 1989.

Somehow, that's even worse.

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Review: Robocop photo
Review: Robocop
by Matthew Razak

I have a great fear, dear reader. A great fear that the new RoboCop film will become the next Dredd. I fear that it's a great action movie that's coming out in the doldrums of the movie season without a big enough marketing push and with a character that not enough people care about even though they should. A movie that deserves sequels, but won't get them because it doesn't make enough at the box office. 

I have this fear so I'm putting this here so you don't even have to read very far to see it: Go see RoboCop. It deserves your money. 

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Review: The Monuments Men photo
Review: The Monuments Men
by Matthew Razak

When monuments men was delayed from award season to a early February release it didn't cause too much concern. The line that the film wasn't quite ready seemed plausible, since there's no way a film with this cast, taking place in WWII and featuring Nazis (Nazis make movies better, see: Indian Jones trilogy) could really be all that bad. It would be a nice break from the January doldrums, right?

Not so much. The Monuments Men is a movie in need of a story, which is odd because the true story its telling should be story enough. The problem is it isn't, and no manner of Hollywood fluff to make the true story more "true" is really going to save it. What could is a bunch of banter between some of the best bantering actors in the business. Yea, not so much with that either.  

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Review: The LEGO Movie photo
Review: The LEGO Movie
by Nick Valdez

Since its first delightful teaser over a year ago, I have been eagerly anticipating The LEGO Movie more so than any other movie releasing in 2014. I was instantly drawn to the idea of seeing the very Lego sets I played with as a kid (and still play with on occasion) recreated in a loving stop motion/CG film. I'm just not quite sure why I was so excited in the first place. Is it nostalgia or some kind of attempt to rekindle my lost childhood? Now that I've grown up, should I completely forget things that once made me happy in order to fit in with the professional world? 

Wait, am I really thinking about all of this? It's The LEGO Movie we're talking about here! Strange thing is, The LEGO Movie actually builds on these philosophical dilemmas in an intelligent, wacky, and surprisingly sophisticated manner. 

So yeah, everything is awesome. 

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Review: 12 O'Clock Boys photo
Review: 12 O'Clock Boys
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I've never felt so totally lost watching a film spoken in my own language as I was watching 12 O'Clock Boys. It's bizarre, really, just how difficult to understand many of these characters are. The only close approximation I can think of would be Trainspotting, but at least I can feel like that one is foreign-ish, since it's from a different country. But 12 O'Clock Boys is not. It's just set in a culture that I am not a part of and have no connection to. In fact, I would venture to guess that 90% of the festival-going public who has seen this film so far can't really relate to the characters it follows.

That would be bad enough in a narrative film; it's potentially ruinous for a documentary.

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Review: That Awkward Moment photo
Review: That Awkward Moment
by Mike Cosimano

I feel like I should hate That Awkward Moment more than I actually do. On paper, it seems like a real disaster. I mean, look at the title! Nine times out of ten, only inane dribble follows the phrase “that awkward moment…” So perhaps my lukewarm feelings towards the film come from a place of exceeded expectations. 

However, even after you realize this isn’t going to be the worst thing in the world, it’s still a very easy film to hate. I don’t, but I can’t blame you if you do. The leads bounce off each other quite well, so there’s a good chance that will carry the movie for you, but it’s hard to escape the underlying emptiness that seeps into every pore of this film. There are flashes of brilliance, make no mistake, but they’re mired in a fog of unrepentant, smug, off-putting masculinity.

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Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit photo
Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
by Matthew Razak

Ahhh, the left over goodness of January. The month where every movie goer's hopes are so low that even the most banal film can seem like a worthy excuse to head to the theater. That's where an established name like Jack Ryan can really pull folks in without doing too much.

It's not like Jack Ryan is a banal character. The Tom Clancy spy has been in some of the best spy thrillers ever made, but that was over two decades ago and his last foray into cinema, The Sum of All Fears, didn't exactly ignite the character back to life.

Enter another reboot of the character. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the first of his films to turn the name into a franchise, which is what they studio is clearly attempting to do. The question is can they make a 90s hero into a new millennium franchise or is there a reason the movie was released in January.

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Review: Ride Along photo
Review: Ride Along
by Matthew Razak

There's a thin line sometimes between buddy cop movies and comedy cop movies. Usually it's dependent on the amount of action and whether the majority of the time is spent trying to get laughs. When a film tries to tip toe on this line disaster can strike, especially when the movie isn't funny in the first place.

Ride Along is a comedy movie with cops in it, but it desperately wants to be a buddy cop movie. Unfortunately what it is and what it wants to be don't jive at all and everything just ends up in a crumpled mess. It's also just not funny. 

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Review: Her photo

I had planned to skip Her. It was an early Saturday screening, which was bad enough, but because of the all-star cast attending the press conference afterwards, I knew I'd need to be up stupidly early to get a decent seat in the theater. But when I made that decision, I didn't know what it was about (I don't watch trailers), and Hubert offered to give me the one-line synopsis, just in case it might change my mind:

"A man falls in love with his operating system."

So the next morning, I woke up bright and early. Even though I was nearly two hours early, I wasn't the first person in line. I wasn't even in the first twenty. Over the next several hours, hundreds more arrived. Some grumbled about having to be up so early, and more were just glad that this whole NYFF thing was finally coming to an end.

But we were all there, whether we knew it or not, to see something truly special. Her is a love story that has been a long time coming, and it is one that Spike Jonze and his cast and crew have brilliantly realized.

[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 2013 New York Film Festival. It is being reposted to coincide with the film's wide theatrical release.]

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Review: The Legend of Hercules photo
Review: The Legend of Hercules
by Matthew Razak

That sub-header isn't a pithy remark about it only being a week into 2014. It will be incredibly challenging for any wide release film in the upcoming year to be worse than The Legend of Hercules. I am now staking my claim that despite the fact that I have seen no other 2014 movies, none of them will be worse than this. 

Films based on young adult novels trying to be Twilight? They will be better than this. Comedies whose entire comedic value rest in poorly executed fart jokes? They will be better than this. Other action films that feature action so dull they're almost dramas? They will be better than this? Melodramatic dramas that don't actually seem to understand human emotion? They will be better than this. Cheaply made children's movies with big name star voices to pull in unsuspecting crowds? They will be better than this.

Every film that arrives in theaters this year will be better than The Legend of Hercules

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Review: American Hustle photo
Review: American Hustle
by Mike Cosimano

As I sit here, trying in vain to remember anything of importance about David O. Russell’s latest film American Hustle -- which I saw hours ago -- I have to ask myself the question: is this my fault?

I saw the ads and read the title, so I expected something along the lines of The Sting. I saw Ocean’s Eleven a couple days beforehand, so I expected something a little slicker. I saw The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, so I expected a good movie. So, you know what? Maybe that’s on me!

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Review: Grudge Match photo
Review: Grudge Match
by Matthew Razak

Grudge Match is a movie based entirely around getting two old actors (Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro) from two of the greatest boxing movies ever made (Rocky and Raging Bull) back into the ring to punch each other. It really, by all rights, should have been an absolute train wreck. I'm sure you rolled your eyes the second you saw the trailer. No way in hell a cash grab like this is going to be good.

Well, it's that time of year for (minor) holiday miracles. While the theaters are jam packed with Oscar-worthy movies you should really spend your money on, something about Grudge Match actually works. It's not great by any stretch of the imagination, but much like its aging actors, it's surprisingly doesn't fall flat on its face.

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Review: The Wolf of Wall Street photo
Review: The Wolf of Wall Street
by Nick Valdez

Sitting down to write this review, I had trouble figuring out the sub header you see above. I normally like to put a joke or pop culture reference there, but I simply can't seem to. The more and more I think about The Wolf of Wall Street, the more a word like "F**k" becomes an appropriate descriptor for Martin Scorsese's latest. It's just beyond polite conversation. 

The film has managed to stick with me days after I had seen it for myself. In what seems to be both Scorsese and DiCaprio's finest, WOWS is a great way to end your 2013. It's got a few issues sure, but most of those can be brushed under the rug.  The Wolf of Wall Street is gripping, gratuitous, overloaded with expletives, overzealous, sexually charged, hilarious, enticing, kookoo bananas, and even a little disgusting. 

But most importantly, The Wolf of Wall Street is f**king magnificent. 

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Review: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues photo
Review: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
by Nick Valdez

There's a lot riding on Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Years of home video releases and endless quoting have transformed the first Anchorman into an unyielding comedic juggernaut. When Anchorman 2 was first announced, I was surprised by how much I had been looking forward to it. Seriously, I honestly had no idea I'd be chomping at the bit for this. I've always tried to be as level headed as I can when a movie gets a sequel, but for some reason, I was trapped in a glass case of emotion. 

With most comedy sequels failing to grasp at why its predecessor was successful, it's natural to assume Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues would crash and burn as it loses the uniqueness that made it a cult classic (I'm sure the relentless, seemingly desperate advertisement tirade Ferrell has been on didn't help matters). You can argue how necessary or not this sequel is all day, but you'd be missing something important. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is damn funny. You'd be hard pressed to find a more hilarious film this year. 

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Review: What's in a Name? photo
Review: What's in a Name?
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

It's a stereotype that the French are more cultured than Americans, but obviously that's a hard claim to either prove or disprove. There are any number of examples that could be used to show it either way, but here's evidence that, as far as I can tell, is incontrovertible:

What's in a Name?, a drama-comedy completely devoid of action that centers around a really uncomfortable dinner party, is one of the biggest blockbusters in France's history. It outsold The Avengers on opening weekend.

Your move, America.

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Review: Hours photo
Review: Hours
by Nick Valdez

I'm a bit at a loss of what to write here. I've always been weird toward deaths of well known individuals as to when how soon is "too soon." After spending the last few days thinking of all the positives of Paul Walker's career, when is it safe to talk about the negatives again? Sure Walker is the most attractive everyman I've ever seen, but he just never quite got the right material to emphasize it. He's always been stuck in middling solo films or in big name franchises playing second fiddle to someone else. 

But Paul Walker was always trying to be more than a pretty face. Those middling solo films like Eight Below? It was his attempt at branching out past the action star he was portrayed as. With Hours, Walker once again tried to break out of that "Everyman" mold...with stymied success. 

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Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug photo
Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
by Matthew Razak

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey blew me away when I caught it in theaters and I gave it an appropriately high score because of that. It was truly stunning and another epic coming from Peter Jackson, but upon re-watching it the complaints I had with the film stood out even more, especially the fact that the film's plot was stretched pretty thin to make the movie the length it was. It just felt like padding for the book's plot.

The Desolation of Smaug does not have this issue. Mostly because the book's plot is what feels like the additive this time. Yes, it hits its key points, but the stretched feeling is gone because the movie isn't stretching anything. If you're a fan of Jackson's prolific Middle Earth than you're going to be a fan of this movie. If you came to see the original story of The Hobbit unfold then you'll like about 20 minutes. 

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Review: Out of the Furnace photo
Review: Out of the Furnace
by Michael Jordan

When I sat down to watch Out of the Furnace, I had nothing but high hopes for the film. The trailers looked amazing and suspenseful and the premise seemed engaging. Plus, how could I possibly get burned on a film that stars some of my favorite actors?

Before I knew it I was already covered in gasoline, and writer-director Scott Cooper was lighting a match.

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