The Apparition: A couple is haunted by a supernatural presence that is unleashed during a college experiment.
Director: Todd Lincoln
Starring: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton
Horror | Thriller
It’s been called one of the worst movies of the year – and it ain’t no cinematic treasure – but the premise behind The Apparition is more than a little scary (despite what you’ve heard). A host of things were done wrong here, and Greene is not a likable onscreen presence. But if you can watch with the lowest of expectations, you might come away with something. C-
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning: John looks to take down Luc Deveraux after a home invasion claims his wife and daughter. The fight pits John against Andrew Scott and an army of genetically enhanced warriors; meanwhile, he must contend with a UniSol in relentless pursuit.
Director: John Hyams
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Scott Adkins
Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Scott Adkins is the new star with Dolph Lundgren and Van Damme playing second fiddle in an ass-kicking movie that contains as much hand-to-hand combat as anyone could ever ask for. The opening is dull and the writing takes us through dreary and uninspiring territory – and the story doesn’t even match up with any of the more recent Universal Soldier knock-offs – but this movie still kicks all sorts of ass! C+
Cloud Atlas: An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
Director: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant
Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
It feels like a low-budget scifi, and honestly, it might as well have been one. This (very long) and highly subdivided movie takes us back and forth into 4 or 5 different time periods so that the energy put into sequencing it is more than what we receive from it. There is simply too much material here for any one movie. The performances are respectable, but the vision behind it just didn’t have the clarity to drive it home as a winner. C-
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2: After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi.
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Adventure | Drama | Fantasy | Romance
It’s the final Twilight movie—and the best one by far. It may just be Twilight with its splurging, teen-focused silliness, but in this case, we can’t let that count against it. The movie concludes the series nicely and entertains in a most meaningful way. B+
Argo: A dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.
Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman
Drama | History | Thriller
Though with a measure of dramatic license, Ben Affleck’s biographical take on the events that began on November 4th, 1979 is a stunning narrative about the Iranian takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the Carter administration. With more than 50 hostages captured by Iranian revolutionists, only six have escaped on foot. With almost all of 35 million people looking to martyr themselves in their blood, their only refuge is the home of the Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber).
As we settle in for the ride that is Argo, we begin with an automatic attention-grabber in the initial takedown of the embassy. With the hasty deletion of files and the emptying of large cabinets of classified information to be shredded or burned, we wonder how many can make it away in the fleeting minutes before everyone inside is subdued. With very few setbacks, Affleck does a remarkable job in a movie that both educates and entertains. B+
The Collection: A man who escapes from the vicious grips of the serial killer known as “The Collector” is blackmailed to rescue an innocent girl from the killer’s booby-trapped warehouse.
Director: Marcus Dunstan
Starring: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick, Christopher McDonald
Action | Horror | Thriller
It wants to be SAW, but it lacks the creativity and the clever writing and instead leaves us with a story of a wealthy man attempting to rescue his daughter from a booby-trapped warehouse. It may not be a complete waste of time or tape, but I don’t really know what else to call it. C-
The Man With the Iron Fists: On the hunt for a fabled treasure of gold, a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon a village in feudal China, where a humble blacksmith looks to defend himself and his fellow villagers.
Starring: Russell Crowe, Cung Le, Lucy Liu
Director RZA is known from The Wutang Clan rap group, and here, he turns director with a Kung Fu movie that is more fantasy-action than anything else. There is a story, but you’ll have to sift through cheesy dialog, “tough guy” writing, and the story’s bizarre details to get to it. Still, it has that Quentin Tarrantino touch and manages to win us over at the end (well, most of us) in an action-packed movie that had enough creative punch to make it a worthy watch (for some of us). And, it has an underlying respect for poetry and art. C+