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Movie Reviews

Liam Neeson proves old dogs can learn new tricks

There are movies like The Artist in which every shot is an exquisitely composed tableau. And then there are movies like The Grey, where Liam Neeson (Unknown) bare-knuckle boxes a giant Alaskan timber wolf.     My job as a reviewer is convincing you that both sorts can be enjoyable and worth your hard-earned money.

A story this important deserves better than this second rate film

In the times before Martin Luther King put momentum behind his dream, African Americans had to be twice as good to get half as much as their white counterparts. Racism was justified and equality denied by spurious science.     Black soldiers were thought to be lazy, stupid and cowardly, so the government didn’t want to give them the opportunity to fight for their country — just cook for it in galleys and mess halls while white soldiers earned accolades.

Meryl Streep is all teeth, no bite, in this boring biopic

What do you do when you’re making a movie about a political figure whose politics you don’t agree with? Avoid the subject, cast Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher and give her an immense set of dentures. The formula worked. Streep and her dentures just took home a Golden Globe.     The teeth are right. But the rest of the film is all wrong.

There’s more to espionage than car chases, explosions and bikinis

In the cinematic world of James Bond and Jason Bourne, spies are men with hard abs, steel fists and fast cars. Theirs is a world of high-octane excitement: car chases, shoot outs and loads of hand-to-hand combat. Usually there’s a pretty lady or two to dote upon them when the action slows.     So when we see pudgy, gray-haired, bespectacled George Smiley (Gary Oldman: Harry Potter) meekly enter a room, we don’t think spy. That’s precisely what Smiley is hoping for.

How many dysfunctions can you cram into two hours?

To say that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a dark film is like saying Ted Bundy was a bad date.     Rape. Beatings. Sexual sadism. And that doesn’t even cover the murder mystery at the heart of the film.

C’est magnifique

In 1927 a new fad was sweeping the film industry: Talking Pictures. You may have seen one or two if you’ve been to a movie in the past 84 years.     With the advent of the new technology, an entire industry fell to the wayside. Silent film actors and actresses became the cassette tapes of their times, cast into obscurity seemingly overnight.

An entertaining investigation heavier on brawn than brains

The master of deduction Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.: Due Date) has been dealing with a lot of loss of late. His romance with Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams: Midnight in Paris) is untenable. He’s at a stalemate trying to foil the plans of arch nemesis Dr. Moriarty (Jared Harris: Mad Men). Worst of all, his best mate and sleuthing sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law: Hugo) is getting married.     Holmes isn’t taking it well.

Stay home with the kids instead of seeing this waste of celluloid

The Sitter is the kind of movie reviewers hate: It’s so tedious, lazy and humorless that it’s nearly impossible to mock.     Nearly.

A Christmas tale for the iPod generation

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring as a spaceship arrived.     Wait. Is that how the story goes?     In Arthur Christmas, a charming if not brilliant update on the story of Santa Claus, St. Nick is driven more by a palm pilot than eight tiny reindeer.

It’s easy to like green in this light-hearted tale

Brothers Walter and Gary (Jason Segel: Bad Teacher) are extremely different. Gary is tall, Walter is short. Gary has a girlfriend, Walter is single. Gary is human, Walter is a Muppet. Just typical family stuff.     In spite of these differences, the brothers are close and spend their nights watching reruns of their favorite show, The Muppets. Since Walter doesn’t have much of a life beyond hanging out with Gary, The Muppets become his obsession.