Movie Reviews

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The Beaver
Summit Entertainment
In Theaters: 05.20
Jodie Foster has recently performed the task nobody would dare wish upon his or her worst enemy, as she helmed the first feature starring Mel Gibson since the actor’s real-life meltdown. Luckily, the character Gibson portrays is Walter Black, a disturbed toy-manufacturing executive who’s given up on his wife, kids and life in general. Sound somewhat familiar? After several failed suicide attempts, Walter discovers a discarded beaver hand puppet in a dumpster and decides to use the finding as his only means of communication with the world in an unconventional form of therapy. Foster stars as Walter’s hesitant wife, Meredith, who is forced to adapt to the unusual situation, while their eldest son (Anton Yelchin) fears he’s already transforming into his deranged father. All personal matters aside, Gibson surprisingly makes an adequate comeback as he psychologically straps himself to the character and sets loose outburst after outburst of raw human emotion that proves the actor still has the talents we all remember. With that said, the more memorable and rousing portions of the film arrive with Yelchin and his love interest, Jennifer Lawrence, who could have easily had an entire film dedicated to their teenage angst-ridden characters. Foster’s biggest mistake surfaces in the finale when the film takes a peculiar twist and an over-the-top resolution that’s almost too absurd to accept is revealed. –Jimmy Martin

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Disney
In Theaters: 05.20
It appears that while tossing out the tiresome elements of the franchise’s first three films, including the lovebirds portrayed by Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, director Rob Marshall accidently forgot to save the charisma and wittiness of Johnny Depp for the fourth installment. This time on the roaring seas, Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) is surprised to discover an imposter is using his identity to gather a crew to discover the Fountain of Youth. Determined to set the record straight, Sparrow tracks down the fraud but is shocked to learn an old flame, Angelica (Penélope Cruz), is involved in the deceptive charade along with her father, Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Forced to join the expedition, Sparrow must keep a close eye on his captors while racing against his long-time foe, Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and an enraged Spanish armada for the legendary treasure. From the primarily unnecessary ensemble cast racing across the ocean (“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sea World” anybody?) to the cold performances offered by all minus Rush, Marshall has somehow made a coherent storyline (unlike the second and third chapters), but forgot to include the comedy and allure that made the initial adventure so engaging. To make matters worse, the few and far between action sequences are amateurishly staged and move at a much slower pace than necessary to increase the audiences’ adrenaline levels. It was reminiscent of watching Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but Ford had an excuse for his sluggish movements … He’s old! What’re Marshall and Depp’s excuses? –Jimmy Martin

Priest
Screen Gems
In Theaters: 05.13
Set in a futuristic metropolis surrounded by massive concrete walls, an authoritarian church governs its citizens with strict religious doctrine. Lurking in the shadows, an elite squadron of holy warriors known as Priests, who once fought vampires to protect their fellow man, has been forced to remain dormant and refrain from engaging in the practices that have kept them alive for millennia. When the niece of the most gifted Priest (Paul Bettany) is kidnapped by the ungodly beasts, he breaks his vow and sets out on a mission of rescue and revenge with an untested sheriff (Cam Gigandet). It’s an absolute failure for a film when the genre it supposedly represents is only a measly 10 percent of the film itself. An 87-minute action film should contain more than 10 minutes of punches and kicks. The running time for action would be even less if each sequence wasn’t shot in slow motion! The majority of director Scott Charles Stewart’s misstep revolves around Bettany wondering into deserted townships and discovering nothing but footprints that direct him to the next uninhabited village. Talk about a concept that’s dull on the first encounter as well as the third. From the formulaic screenplay to the predictable dialogue, the film offers absolute nothing that hasn’t already been shown before. –Jimmy Martin

Something Borrowed
Warner Bros.
In Theaters: 05.06
In most films there’s an antagonist and a protagonist, and audiences invest their emotions into the latter in the hopes they’ll achieve their ultimate goal—whether it’s eliminating an alien invasion, pulling off the ultimate heist or securing the boy/girl of their dreams. We root for these characters because their motivations are pure and their actions are altruistic. However, when every character in a film is corrupt and no one deserves happiness, how do you connect and cheer for anyone? Such is the case in Luke Greenfield’s romantic comedy that revolves around childhood best friends Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Darcy (Kate Hudson) who have shared an interest in everything together … even in the same man. It just so happens that Darcy is months away from marrying Rachel’s college crush, Dex (Colin Egglesfield), who Rachel still has feelings for, but, rather than expressing her emotions like an adult, she and the groom-to-be partake in a summer-long love affair. How romantic! The only reason to watch this deceiving train wreck is for the comedic abilities of John Krasinski (NBC’s The Office) who stars as Rachel’s confidant and is the only person of interest who should be given any sort of happy ending. As for the leading cast, it’s hard to devote any energy into an ensemble where the only couple to applaud is the lesser of two evils—I believe it’s the same reason why the majority of Americans don’t vote. –Jimmy Martin

Thor
Paramount
In Theaters: 05.06
It doesn’t take director Kenneth Branagh long to succeed in convincing the audience that his superhero protagonist is, in the words of his father, “a vain, greedy, cruel boy.” After defying his father’s (Anthony Hopkins) commands and reigniting a dormant war with another realm, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Norse god of thunder, is banished from his home, stripped of his powers and sent to Earth to learn the priceless lesson of becoming a worthy and selfless hero. Upon his arrival, the fallen idol literally bumps into a young astrophysicist (Natalie Portman) who instantly becomes smitten with the peculiar visitor. Hemsworth balances the arrogance and brute nature of the character exceptionally while adding more humor and charm than expected, which works well in the cinematic universe Marvel has created. The storyline moves a tad faster than desired. The swift pacing seems to work well for the first and third acts, but somewhat diminishes the finale’s resolution by missing a beat in the second. If anything, a director’s cut with an additional 30 minutes of running time would be well received. The action is intense and Branagh slips in quirky winks for the true comic book fanboy, but it’s the wondrous glimpse into the world of Asgard that truly makes this superhero blockbuster stand out from its predecessors. –Jimmy Martin