regular review Articles
Genre: Ancient World Action
Director: Noam Murro (Smart People)
Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, Lena HeadeyThe Story: The navy of Athens attempts to thwart a sea-born invasion from the Persian Empire. The Lowdown: A pointless excuse for a lot of unexciting bloodletting with no thematic direction and zero vision.
Genre: Animated Fantasy Comedy
Director: Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little 2)
Starring: (Voices) Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Stephen Colbert, Leslie MannThe Story: The world's smartest dog, Mr. Peabody, must fight to keep his adopted son, Sherman. The Lowdown: Brisk, funny and entertaining, Mr. Peabody & Sherman may not set the world on fire and certainly won't change the way you think about animated films, but it does provide a fun 90 minutes at the movies.
Genre: Dark Comedy
Director: Geoff Moore, David Posamentier
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan, Ray Liotta, Ken Howard, Ben Schwartz, Jane FondaThe Story: A timid, henpecked pharamacist falls under the spell of a bored femme fatale. The Lowdown: A somewhat clever dark comedy that falls prey to predictability, but is kept afloat by Sam Rockwell's performance.
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Nate ParkerThe Story: A U.S. Air Marshall on an intercontinental flight must go into action after receiving text messages threatening to kill the passengers on board if demands aren't met. The Lowdown: With a plot that can’t stand up to any real scrutiny, this mindless thriller is nothing more than silly entertainment.
Genre: Biblical Drama
Director: Christopher Spencer
Starring: Diogo Morgado, Sebastian Knapp, Darwin Shaw, Roma Downey, Greg HicksThe Story: The story of the life of Jesus Christ, from his birth, to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. The Lowdown: An overly sincere, bombastic, dramatically inert and melodramatic film that adds nothing to the story of Jesus’ life.
Genre: Espionage Action
Director: McG (This Means War)
Starring: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Tómas LemarquisThe Story: A CIA agent’s dying wish to reconnect with his estranged family is derailed when he’s offered a miracle cure for his disease — but only if he kills an especially nefarious target. The Lowdown: A disjointed, aimless and occasionally ugly action picture with zero spark.
Genre: Animated Biographical Fantasy
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: (Voices) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley TucciThe Story: Fantasticated biopic of the man who designed the Japanese fighter plane, the Zero. The Lowdown: For his (supposed) final film Hayao Miyazaki has created a long, very romanticized, biographical work. It is a thing of great beauty and delicacy, but the central story may prove troubling to some viewers.
Genre: Thriller Drama
Director: Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now)
Starring: Adam Bakri, Leem Lubany, Iyad Hoorani, Samer Bisharat, Waleed ZuaiterThe Story: Three young Palestinian men who fancy themselves as "freedom fighters" manage to kill an Israeli soldier — with disastrous results. The Lowdown: Compelling and riveting entertainment that's as good as any action thriller out there (and better than most) but with dark and deeply disturbing undercurrents.
Genre: Sword-and-Sandal Nonsense
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil)
Starring: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kiefer Sutherland, Jared HarrisThe Story: Cheesy melodrama plays out against the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The Lowdown: It's a dumb disaster picture — with OK CGI disaster effects — made that much worse by lackluster leads and a bad script.
Genre: Sci-Fi Action
Director: José Padilha
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle HaleyThe Story: After nearly being killed, Detroit cop Alex Murphy is resurrected in a mechanical body to fight crime as RoboCop. The Lowdown: A dull, uninspired remake traipsing around as high-minded social commentary, but really saying very little.
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