Even though it's not entirely original, "Oculus" is a somewhat masterful blend of horror elements that builds on Stephen King's "The Shining" and comes up with a terrifying experience likely much too intense for the squeamish. With a tiny budget and a largely unknown cast, writer/director Mike Flanagan reminds us that the best horror films stem from a fairly simple idea.
Even though it starts out as fun and refreshing, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" takes an interesting theme and wastes it by reusing just about every hero movie cliché in the book, leaving us with little more than a half-baked premise for world domination and a series of underwhelming action sequences.
Delving deeply into a primitive world on the edge of collapse, Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" is a bold and ambitious film that overcomes some flaws to deliver a powerful visual experience centering on the very nature of existence. For sure, there are parts that don't work, but there are also many more flashes of brilliance that carry "Noah" well beyond the usual yawn-inducing biblical film.
Like Wes Anderson's best screwball comedies, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is a master class in quirky humor and nostalgia, a refreshingly unique tall tale that delves into the madness of mankind and finds the most unlikely of saviors. It may never truly take off to become something more than witty but light entertainment, yet here is another Anderson film filled with heart-warming moments.
Even while playing by the standard rules of the genre, "Need for Speed" is a dimwitted and small-minded affair that desperately wants to be cool, only without having to actually bring any new ideas to the screen. In its obvious attempt to be a movie that "The Fast and the Furious" fans can enjoy, or least sit through, "Need for Speed" is a hopeless trek into car racing madness.
It's hard to imagine anyone who liked the first "300" scoffing at follow-up "Rise of an Empire," a well-made but equally cartoonish action epic that takes an intriguing historical setup and reduces it to as much machismo as can be crammed into 102 minutes.
As long as the concept of watching "Taken" on a plane doesn't completely revolt you, "Non-Stop" might just be the perfect movie to get you past the influx of inept action flicks that have cruised through theaters in the last couple of months. Though it's every bit as ridiculous as you probably expect it to be, "Non-Stop" is a competent bit of action mayhem.
To say that it could have been a whole lot worse isn't quite the same thing as saying that "Pompeii" is a good movie. To director Paul W.S. Anderson's credit, "Pompeii" does build a level of excitement that might seem out of reach after a clunky beginning, yet we're still saddled with too many bland and familiar elements to make it anything more than a toss-away tale of Hollywood run amuck.
Wrapped inside the lunacy, there's a fun little B-movie at the core of "RoboCop," a sci-fi action film that has more ideas than many will expect and a concrete understanding of what it's supposed to be. True to the satirical bend of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 original, this "RoboCop" digs deep into a society struggling to figure out the robot age and comes up with an entertaining movie.
Even as one of director/actor George Clooney's least sophisticated films, "The Monuments Men" is still a well meaning movie of occasional inspiration - even if it ultimately sinks itself by being stuck in between polar opposite tones. Two parts light-hearted comedy and one part a somber reflection on the devastation of WWII, here's a movie that would have fit better in the decades after the war.
Borrowing more ideas than it actually creates on its own, new comedy "That Awkward Moment" is a crystal clear example of what not to do in an adult-intended rom-com. While trying to emulate the raunchy comedies of yesteryear, "That Awkward Moment" takes a talented cast and loses itself in transparent attempts to imagine what audiences are looking for.
Beneath the 93 minutes of cheeseball fight sequences, painstakingly dull dialog and cheap-looking special effects that make "I, Frankenstein" look like an outdated video game, there is only one positive takeaway: here is a movie so bad that at least we won't ever have to put up with a sequel.
Ever since James Bond exploded in the early 1960s, spy-thrillers have been a mainstay of the action genre, with plenty of excellent films to go along with the expected and frequent clunkers. It turns out "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is neither, yet it delivers a light and fun bit of escapism that borrows from the best of the genre and has a likable enough lead to invest in the story.
Leave it to director Spike Jonze to make one of the most unique and thoughtful films of the year, a ballad of desperate humans looking for love in all the wrong places. Anchored by an excellent performance by Joaquin Phoenix and inspired voice work by Scarlett Johansson, "Her" is a funny, visually rich and exciting film peppered with existential conundrums.
Even with a bloated runtime and some undeniable rough edges, Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a harrowing trip into Wall Street madness - an all-out rollercoaster ride into a life of jaw-dropping debauchery and excess. Leonardo DiCaprio's Jordan Belfort, a real life scam artist, sees his duty in life as making him and his flunkies as much money as possible.