Director: Steve Pink
Writer(s): Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Mark Perez
Starring: Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Lewis Black
Hollywood loves the "nerd gets hot girl" genre. Loves it to a fault. Which is why most of them (with some notable exceptions) are pretty bad. Accepted, starring everyone's favorite "I'm a Mac" celebrity endorser, isn't that bad, but it's still not good. Sure, it has a fun concept (academic failure who couldn't get accepted into even the most banal university creates a fake one to dupe his parents) and a good cast, but that's not enough to save it from groan-inducing scenes full of film cliches and staples.
Verdict: SKIP it.
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writer(s): Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Warren Ellis (graphic novel), Cully Hamner (graphic novel)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Morgan Freeman
Everyone knows about comic book movies. They're everywhere. In fact, they're so pervasive, a lot of movies people don't realize are based on comic books (or, sorry, graphic novels) actually are. Red is one such movie. And it's a hoot. Willis, Mirren, Freeman, and John Malkovich play retired spies who are forced out of retirement because of a simple misunderstanding. Parker plays Willis' love interest who is pulled into the mess simply because Willis would call her for technical support regarding his social security checks. Yep... Bruce plays a lonely old man who fell in love with a voice. And then kicks some serious ass in order to protect her. A rom-com at heart, this is an action-packed film that's a joy to watch.
Verdict: SEE it.
Sucker Punch (2011)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer(s): Zack Snyder, Steve Shibuya
Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Scott Glenn
Zack Snyder has a strange reputation in Hollywood. He makes visually awe-inducing films (Watchmen, 300) that do well commercially (and sometimes critically). But he's long been harped on as a director who doesn't understand the concept of story. I was confused. And then I saw Sucker Punch... I am confused no more. Yet another film full of eye candy (both aesthetically and, er, curvaciously), this one suffers in that it doesn't have source material for Snyder to fool us with (if, in fact, he truly doesn't understand story). Quite simply: there is no story. Excellent cast wasted. Excellent visuals wasted (unless you go to the movies expecting nothing more than an endless music video). Excellent concept wasted. Ugh.
Verdict: SKIP it. Unless you like being sucker-punched.
TRON: Legacy (2010)
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writer(s): Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner
Let me start out by stating that I love the original Tron. Yes, it had a ghastly, deus ex machina ending, but it was awesome. It's still awesome, even if it reminds most modern moviegoers of a cinema version of Pac-Man. So, when a sequel was announced, I pooed my pants. Then, when I saw the promo stands for the sequel in a theater, I pooed my pants again. Then I heard it had script problems and I shit my pants. Then I heard that Disney (wisely) let the big-wigs from Pixar offer suggestions, and I returned to pooing my pants. Then I saw the film on a flight to Australia. It's a good thing the plane was empty, because I shit my pants. And, I'm sorry, but the computer-animated faces of young versions of Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner creeped me the fuck out.
Verdict: Agh! SKIP it, unless you're an uber-fan of the original.
True Grit (2010)
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writer(s): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Charles Portis (novel)
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper
A friend of mine claimed that Joel and Ethan Coen's True Grit was the best Western movie ever. I asked if that included Lonesome Dove. He said yes. That's a tall claim, in my opinion, and I had to see if it was true. Is it? No. But True Grit is pretty friggin' good. Excellent, in fact. Better than the original. Jeff Bridges outdoes John Wayne. The supporting cast is phenomenal. Rooster Cogburn is as good a character as Lonesome Dove's Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call are. The Coens knocked one out of the park (again). What more can I say?
Verdict: SEE it.