Clash of the Titans (2010)
Director: Louis Leterrier
Writer(s): Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, Beverley Cross (1981 screenplay)
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes
A remake of the campy and charming 1981 classic, this film is neither campy nor charming. It feels like it should've been campy, but it wasn't. Bad move. Break-neck pacing eliminates any chance of decent characters to emerge, and the plot is, well... somehow it manages not to be as good as the original. Not initially intended for a 3D release, the 3D scenes definitely feel tacked on and a bit rushed (the harpies or whatever they are look like crap), though the final Kraken battle does look pretty awesome. It's a pity the story didn't stay closer to the source material.
Verdict: Eh... SEE it, but wait for home video.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Director: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Writer(s): William Davies, DeDeblois, Chris Sanders, Cressida Cowell (novel)
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrara
Not only one of the best animated films to come out in this young century (yes, that's acknowledging Up and Wall*E), it's one of the best films of 2010. The advertisements claim the 3D scenes give Avatar a run for its money, and it's true (although, let's be fair, it's easier to "3D" a cartoon than it is a live-action film). But, 3D or not, the story, the characters, the tone... Hell, everything about this film... is brilliant.
Verdict: SEE it! And again!
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer(s): Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Mark Millar (comic book), John S. Romita, Jr. (comic book)
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Mark Strong, Nicholas Cage
Matthew Vaughn's follow-up to one of my favorite films (Stardust) is damn close to being another of my favorite films. Satirical and extremely violent, the creators of Kick-Ass take the Batman mythos and turn it on its head. The result? A satirical and extremely violent movie that is fun, engaging, and a reminder of what compelling entertainment should be. Yes, I understand the "controversy" behind creating a young character who is so efficient a killing machine (the character in question is about 11, and a cute girl), but it's misguided. Batman and Robin (excuse me... Big Daddy and Hit-Girl) have rarely been so bold.
Verdict: SEE it. Fantastic all-around, but definitely NOT a movie for young children.
The Losers (2010)
Director: Sylvain White
Writer(s): Peter Berg, James Vanderbilt, Andy Diggle (characters)
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans
Both an update to the original DC Comics "The Losers" and homage to The A-Team (which got its own movie), The Losers is a film that struggles to find its footing, but is nevertheless enjoyable. Each of the five male members of the Losers are portrayed by ridiculously charismatic actors, and the female member (portrayed by Zoe Saldana) is, well, rather hot (and equally charismatic). Jason Patric, the film's villain, is far too over-the-top and his subplot equally so. In fact, were it not for the villain, this movie would've been way better than it was. Put it this way: the whole of the film is less than the sum of its parts. But it's still better than a lot of films out there... and the characters (the protagonists, anyway) are classics.
Verdict: Hmm... not for everyone, but action and comic book fans should love it. SEE it.
Passion in the Desert (1997)
Director: Lavinia Currier
Writer(s): Lavinia Currier, Martin Edmunds, Honoré de Balzac (story)
Starring: Ben Daniels, Michel Piccoli
I have wanted to see this movie ever since it came out. I almost watched it in 2009, but thanks to a DVR hiccup, the recording was corrupted. And now I've finally seen it. This is a beautifully-shot movie that is ultimately about, well, not much at all. Rife with "hasty scenes" meant to be shocking or otherwise disturbing, the overall story fails miserably at being moving or otherwise emotionally engaging. Sure, animal lovers will wax fanatic at the interaction between the protagonist and the leopard he befriends in the desert, but the silliness and too-fast pace ruin any chance of this being considered "artistic."
Verdict: SKIP it. You're not missing much, I assure you.
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