Another bleak war movie disguised as an adventure-franchise reboot, Man of Steel has a few glowing moments (mostly Henry Cavill and Lois Lane) and some interesting perspectives on the legend--but ultimately fails as a Superman film. A fine exercise in special-effects excess, the movie occasionally pretends to have a heart, but is paying mere lip service to something it doesn't understand--and something that a Superman film can't fly without.
Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing does Shakespeare proud, in an intimate production that's at once low-key and grand. A highlight of 2013 whether you're a fan of the extended Whedonverse (represented thoroughly by this versatile cast), a Shakespeare lover, or just someone who likes damned fine movies with craft, comedy and passion.
After Earth feels like a simplistic lecture on life from someone of no intellectual acumen. You almost like it when you see that it's trying to be inspirational and about a family healing/reconnecting. Then you notice how poorly it's all executed, and you remember that you don't like it. Upside: Only 100 minutes!
There was probably no winning with this movie. Couldn't repeat an improbable setup for a third time, apparently couldn't come up with a premise that wasn't overly dark, overly violent, and just much less funny than the earlier installments. And couldn't resist cashing in one more time, anyway.
J.J. Abrams' second Star Trek film is more coherent than the first and every bit as compulsively likable. He still has an amazing cast, and he gives them all moments to shine. The film lags elsewhere, squandering villains and underselling Kirk's character arc, but Abrams shines with moments that briefly capture the spirit of the original series.
The third Iron Man movie is a lackluster effort that hammers maybe three good ideas into the ground for more than two hours. If you're a fan, you'll ... I can't say you'll be "satisfied," or "you'll have a good time," but you probably won't come out angry--unless you paid extra for the worthless 3D. But why don't you expect more?
A deservedly saintly presentation of the Jackie Robinson story occasionally wields narrative as a blunt instrument, just to make sure no one misses Robinson's struggles and dignity. A fine cast and a laid back style that feels as retro as the period setting help craft a film that's a likable history lesson.
Admission has a strong cast and the admirable goal of making an adult movie about adult things, but the plot is implausible, and there's a slackness to the entire affair that's never quite overcome, despite a lot of individually nice elements.
Stoker is not a satisfying moviegoing experience, which isn't to say that it's a bad piece of cinema. If you go to the movies expecting a story (and I generally do), you might feel underserved. But if you're moved by style, performance and mood for their own sake, there's much to like in this off-key, slow boil tale of suspense.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone feels like a familar card trick: The patter may entertain you, but at heart, there's nothing new, and that's a letdown even when the magician is really skilled at his craft.
Interesting look at postwar Japan and how an American general investigated whether to hang Emperor Hirohito for war crimes or paper over the ugliness to better rehabilitate Japan. While we know how that worked out, and while the nature of the general's investigation might be slightly fictionalized (and a romance angle entirely invented, it seems), the film is still an interesting, sober portrait of a rarely considered historical moment.
Sam Raimi is probably the best choice to helm a Wizard of Oz prequel. He brings a love and respect for the source material along with a great cast to produce a film that has less heart than the 1939 classic, but still hits some good beats, and manages to slip a few surprises into a tale that should be all foregone conclusions. Worth seeing, and arguably kid-safe.
Steven Soderbergh is an excellent director, but not even his cool, quietly commanding style can save a flawed script full of the laziest plot holes I've seen in ages, nor can it overcome the disappointment of starting out as a potentially fascinating critique of pop culture before devolving into a parody of every bad movie Richard Gere made in the '90s.
Zero Dark Thirty is a procedural thriller that follows one committed--and difficult--CIA officer whose investigative obsession leads to the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Short on character or broader thoughts on international terrorism, it's a compelling piece of first-hand reportage.
"Django Unchained" is Quentin Tarantino's best film because he's added something new to his genre exploitation game: characters who aren't in on the joke. That's not to say it is his most perfect film: From themes to execution (an appropriate double entendre), there is a lot to question, and a lot that will stir controversy.