Angels & Demons (2009) - The sequel to the almost excruciatingly boring The Da Vinci Code, this film once again has Tom Hanks running around trying to solve a Catholic mystery. While most who read me know that I think Dan Brown is an overrated hack of a writer, I do think that he creates very compelling plots. Angels & Demons, which also stars Ewan MacGregor and the always magnificent Stellan Skarsgard, is a much, much better movie than The Da Vinci Code. That stated, it appears that Ron Howard overcompensated for the too-long ending in the first movie and gave us an ending that was too short. Verdict: SEE it (why not?)
Death Race (2008) - Yet another glorious piece of cinematic dogshit from the glorious talent of directing ass Paul W.S. Anderson. Admittedly, this one isn't anywhere near as bad as most of his other absolute crap, but it's still not really worth the price of admission. Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson are better than this (and so is Ian McShane). Verdict: SKIP it. Please SKIP it. Let's put Paul W.S. Anderson out of work.
Defiance (2008) - This movie, along with the surprisingly good Valkyrie, help mark the high point of World War II cinema since Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line (Clint Eastwood's brilliant Iwo Jima cycle aside). Liev Schreiber maintains his place as the king of supporting actors, and Daniel Craig is awesome. Defiance is the true story of a band of Jewish partisans fighting behind Russian lines, doing everything they can to survive and to take the fight to the Nazis. Awesome movie. Awesome. Verdict: SEE it.
Drag Me To Hell (2009) - Much-hyped as Sam Raimi's return to horror (he was responsible for the Evil Dead series, for those who don't know), this movie fell flat. Really, really, really flat. Little more than a bunch of cliches tied together, it did offer some creepy images (like the fly and the crazy woman) and a decent performance by Justin Long. Other than that... snore. Verdict: SKIP it.
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) - Pardon my French-Canadian, but: oh. my. motherfucking. god. One of the worst movies of the 21st century. Yet another film I couldn't be bothered to finish. Script: bad. Acting: bad. Design: bad. Directing: there was a director??? Verdict: SKIP SKIP SKIP, oh please, SKIP it.
Killshot (2008) - Elmore Leonard adaptations usually make for amazing films (Out of Sight, Get Shorty, 3:10 to Yuma), but not so in this case. Although very well-acted by a great cast (Thomas Jane, Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke), the pacing was painfully slow and the payoff was, well, not that much of a payoff. Yes, it's nice seeing Rourke back in the game and, yes, it was amusing to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt play a sociopath with hints of Keanu Reeves and Brad Pitt, but, no, you're not missing much by missing this movie. Verdict: No opinion.
Knowing (2009) - Seriously, can anyone tell me what the last good Nicholas Cage movie was? Because it's been a while. Knowing continues his streak of clunkers, and while a movie based upon the notion that tying in Genesis with aliens and numerical sequences might be cool, this movie most certainly wasn't. Verdict: SKIP it.
Public Enemies (2009) - I love Michael Mann films. Yes, even that one based on that cheesy TV show from the 80s. I think that Michael Mann is the best film director when it comes to crime thrillers. I'd say that Heat proved that (along with the underrated Thief), but any doubters must now shut up with Public Enemies. Christian Bale and Johnny Depp absolutely own their roles in this, and Johnny Depp (as John Dillinger) absolutely owns this movie. Sure, the story plays with facts a little too much, but if you're going to fuddle the truth, this is how you do it. Verdict: SEE it. And then go rent Heat, Thief, and Collateral.
Push (2009) - A comic-book-ish film about people with paranormal powers that are recruited, trained, and hunted by the governments of the world, this one had a concept worthy of its own franchise. Unfortunately, a crap script, a really bad job casting otherwise decent actors, and a director who never really seems to get what he needs out of his movies led to this being almost painfully underwhelming. Oh, and Dakota Fanning clearly can't act anymore. Verdict: SKIP it.
State of Play (2009) - You know, this movie rocked. Even Ben Affleck in it rocked. Russell Crowe usually rocks, so that's nothing new. And even though this is a fictional film, I would possibly compare it to All the President's Men were I in a more generous mood. But I'm not, so I won't (and I really wouldn't anyway), but State of Play is a damned good journalist thriller. Verdict: SEE it.
Along with geoscience, another academic interest that has taken hold in me as of late is anthropology and, more specifically, linguistics. ...
* This is the first part of what will hopefully be a nine-part entry in the River of Mnemosyne challenge that's happening over at The ...
When great minds gather, things change. Academic and intellectual rebellion is a given. The status quo starts to bend. The pen, they say, is...
There's the Army. There's the Marine Corps. On paper, almost 100% identical in tactics, strategy, logistics, and mission. Sure, t...