short reviews

Hugo

9/10

Scorsese’s Hugo was a gentle surprise at first, considering that the maker of Raging Bull and GoodFellas was making a family film. But the man clearly isn’t going to fall into a specific  genre hole, and spins together a wonderful children’s movie, celebrating the wonders of cinema and history in general. Through discovery, imagination, and that innate love for heroism, especially in the movies, Hugo Cabret finds the mysteries behind his father, an automaton, and a grumpy old store-clerk.

Tron

8/10

Tron is a retro film by all standards, but in the era it was made it was a visually innovative, hugely entertaining science-fiction film. Flynn, (Jeff Bridges) once worked at the Encom enterprise and had designed several video games. When they were about finished, a man named Dillinger steals them and brands them as his own creation, which results in him being promoted. Flynn is fired, and resorts to starting an arcade, where everyone plays his games, though Dillinger is known as the creator. After two Encom employees, past friends with Flynn, arrive at the arcade with a warning that Dillinger is onto his hacking, they decide to break into Encom; but, while there, Flynn is shot into a virtual world by the Master Control, and must find a way out with the gaming skills he is well equipped with. Tron lacks believable drama, but on a conceptually visual level it still retains its spellbinding quality today.

Gladiator

9/10

Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is a masterful example of dynamic set-design, with slaves, statues, and robed city folk parading around the frame. It features Russell Crowe as Maximus, who is favored by a King to be his heir, though the King’s son, Commodus, is heir to throne, but is a coward and a brute. The two men conflict with each other throughout the movie, with the King’s sister even hoping that Maximus kills her brother. Tense, harrowing, and truly epic.

Robin Hood

6/10

It’s far from a terrible movie, with the usual scope of a Ridley Scott film, but it doesn’t add anything either. It takes the old Robin Hood fable, with Russell Crowe as the titular character, and turns it into a tale of brooding realism. With no adventure or great moments, it is little more than Crowe grunting about silently and shooting his arrows with a blood-knotted face.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

10/10

These episodes are like the Twilight Zone, but instead of science-fiction it is suspense. Their are some fun guest-performances, and some well-told tales. And of course, Alfred Hitchcock’s massive, bald person walks out in the form of a shadow at the beginning of each show. In the monochrome of Hitchcock’s time, you’ll no doubt enjoy these short suspense trials.

Death Note

9/10

This anime t.v. show is a real suspense ride, with truly fleshed-out characters and an engaging plot throughout. It was a huge hit in Japan, and you can see why. It follows an extremely intelligent student, Light Yagami, who one day finds a notebook outside his school. He finds out that whose ever name is written on a line in the book will die, by accident, or by written specifications. After he gets a little to into being a vigilante and purging the world of villains, his Dad, who is a Chief of the Police force, is after him; though, would he ever suspect his straight-A son? An entirely encompassing anime show with a reason-driven detective story and odd, exciting elements.

Limitless

8/10

Limitless, staring Bradley Cooper, is an entertainingly illogical thrill ride. A man takes a drug that causes him to have a supra-mind, being able to conquer the structure behind the stock market and outsmart just about anyone. The water gets muddy when he runs out, though; what will he have to do to get more? A fast-paced, kinetic ride, boasting a star-making performance from Bradley Cooper, and a supporting role from Robert DeNiro.

Insidious

6/10

We’ve seen the ghost-hunters before; with their whizzing pseudo-machines and the woman who is keen on the act of seeming in out-of-body concentration. When the Lambert’s young son, Dalton, becomes paralyzed, he is visited and taken away by tormentors from below. Their is an effective visual scene near the end, where they try to retrieve Dalton from the underworld, and even speak to him.  But besides a few bold moments, it is too swamped in its own genre-niches to seem fresh.

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil

8/10

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is about a couple of rednecks out in the wilderness, getting blamed for just about everything. They just happen to be at the scene of the crime, with their inability to reasonably defend themselves, and always holding something that looks like a weapon. It is a hilarious buddy comedy set in a terrible, convicting forest, with incredibly timed performances from the two leading men.

The Help

7/10

The Help is a well-acted movie with some flaws in direction, and I mean literally direction, with a structure that points nowhere, except the want to make the audience cry. The emotion seems forced, and lacks the built-up that I’ll assume the book had. A glamorous film, but ultimately a big caricature; why make the southerners seem so gleeful and polite, when you’re supposed to be revealing their sinister side?

Hannah and Her Sisters

8/10

Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sister’s takes a string of personalities and bunches them into a compilation of events that ends up as what? A Woody Allen movie. It is a stirring point of view film from all characters, including an affair between the sisters love interests.

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