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42 reviews in total 
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Movie 43 (2013)
4 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
"43" is the number of letdowns and missed opportunities, but still funny., 25 January 2013

What is "Movie 43″? It's a mostly weak excuse to gather together a massive mega-star cast to generate massive box office revenue as a film about massively disgusting things. Okay, so I've actually seen worse. But "Movie 43″ certainly doesn't pull any punches, and in striving to push the comedic envelope it misses more often than it hits. The novelty of watching very respectable actors do and say unmentionable things wears off eventually, but on perhaps three or four occasions the laughs simply can't be denied. "Movie 43″ is a collection of shorts with the singular goal of entertaining those that appreciate sick humor. But even those people will likely find 43 reasons to be underwhelmed with this movie.

-Thomas Bond

Mama (2013/I)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
"Mama" surprises with great scares and superb performances, 23 January 2013

The Guillermo del Toro produced "Mama" is an overwhelmingly creepy film, rich in fine acting and startling visuals. It tells the tale of two young girls who, after having lived alone in the woods for five years, are rescued by a young couple. What was keeping them alive? We soon find out, as a very protective ghostly Mama reveals herself at the family's house, and quickly begins trying to take "her" girls back where they belong. This is a solid ghost story, atmospheric and frightening, but softened by an overuse of unnecessary CGI and far too many cliché genre inclusions. But the amazing performances, especially those of the two young girls, summon this thriller back from the dead and into the realm of Good Movies.

-Thomas Bond

12 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
"The Last Stand" lasts too long, could stand to be better, 23 January 2013

I appreciate mindless, genre-embracing, wacky, over-the-top violent movies as much as the next guy, but they still have to meet a few requirements, namely that they are first and foremost not boring. "The Last Stand" falls flat on its face in that department. A promising premise involving a bad guy speeding towards the Mexican border and the small town and its sheriff (Arnold Schwarzenegger) that stand in his way seemed destined for senseless greatness. But bad acting (acting is, in fact, still a requirement in these films) and a plot that moves slower than a small town on a Sunday morning result in a terrible film whose title aptly describes the state of the theatre after the film's showing, where countless numbers of people remain unintentionally rooted to their seats, long after the credits have ended. They're asleep.

-Thomas Bond

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
"Django" is the Best of 2012!, 14 January 2013

"Django Unchained" is without a doubt the best film of 2012, a slick, sharp-tongued, bloody action epic that has Quentin Tarantino's fingerprints all over every smartly homaged frame. Smart dialogue, an incredible soundtrack, and more blood than all the horror flicks of 2012 combined are what usually make Tarantino's films so indulgently fantastic, the kind of movies that real movie-lovers love. And that's all here, with a double check on the amount of blood as Django teams up with a Dr. Schulz to rescue his wife from the hands of a mad man, and violently exacts vengeance on her captors. But Tarantino's films have also always featured strong, wonderfully defined performances, and there's no shortage here. Jamie Foxx as the vengeance-seeking Django, Christoph Waltz as the dentist-turned-bounty-hunter King Schultz, Leonardo DiCaprio as the violently eccentric plantation owner Calvin Candie, Kerry Washington as Django's lost love, and Samuel L. Jackson in a scene-stealing performance as Steven, Candie's right-hand man. That only Waltz managed to get Oscar's attention is a travesty. I would have given a nomination to Foxx, DiCaprio and Jackson as well, if I had the choice. Unfortunately, I don't. An incredible host of famous faces rounds out the epic cast, including a bit part by a lazy-eyed Jonah Hill and a hilariously explosive cameo by the director himself. Don't like Westerns, you say? This will be your exception, as it both affirms and breaks the sacred and longstanding rules of the genre, and throws in some new elements to redefine and reinvigorate (an Oscar-worthy original rap song, for instance). At 165 minutes, the film seems to be reaching a ridiculously violent climax during a shoot-out for the ages, but Tarantino is only beginning to turn on the heat at this point, and the ending will have you boiling over with excitement.

-Thomas Bond

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
"Silver Linings" is a fantastically refreshing, Oscar-worthy screwballer, 14 January 2013

"Silver Linings Playbook" is a rare kind of film. It's a difficult task to honestly and realistically present characters who are struggling deeply with heavy issues, without tipping over into emotional goo and sentimentality But David O. Russell is the man for the job, expertly leading four of his talented actors to Oscar nominations in a film that gives a delightfully raw edge to screwball comedy. Bradley Cooper stars as a recently released mental patient, trying to put his life back together and reunite with his estranged wife with the help of a similarly struggling Jennifer Lawrence, who is recovering from the death of her husband. Their relationship buds and grows around their practice for a dance competition that Lawrence wants to dance in, and around Philadelphia Eagles football. Co-starring Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, and Chris Tucker, "Silver Linings" is a quirky, affecting love story about the power of staying optimistic and the strength of family bonds, brimming with characters you want to cheer for. That I wouldn't be at all upset if this poignant comedy took home Best Picture, in a year of so many fine candidates, should be enough to get you to go see it today.

-Thomas Bond

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
'Texas Chainsaw 3D' is a ridiculous hack, 14 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

John Luessenhop's "sequel" to Tobe Hooper's nerve-crushing original from 1974 is a confused, sloppy, toothless mess that is even worse than that pathetic remake from 2003. That the trailers and promotionals offered what looked like a fresh and scary re-imagining makes this an even more painful letdown.

The film begins with horribly edited cuts of Hooper's original, butchering some of the more famous shots that transcend the genre. The new film then begins seconds after the first left off, with swarms of Texas cops surrounding the Sawyer house, demanding they give themselves up. But an angry mob of townspeople overrules the policemen and burns the house to the ground. It's assumed that everyone dies. But the mentally handicapped "Leatherface" survives in the basement, and his cousin, as an infant, is secretly rescued by a family in the mob.

Then we jump forward a confusing amount of years. Confusing because the rescued baby is now a young woman, but certainly no older than twenty- six. Ambiguous clothing, locales and vehicles offer more confusion than homage or clarity, but eventually we find out that it is, indeed, 2012. Now wait, an infant in 1974 would be around thirty eight years old, right? Alexandra Daddario does NOT play a thirty-eight year-old. So why not set the film in an earlier time period? Beats me. This is the first of the film's many problems, and its utter blatantness is so baffling one wonders what the script supervisors and continuity people were doing on set.

The film hits its high point when the girl travels to Texas with her friends to check out a mansion she inherited from her unknown grandmother. When the curious young adults get a little too curious and discover a face-wearing, chainsaw-wielding psycho in the basement, the scares are intense and powerful. But poor directorial choices lead the segment to end too quickly, missing some profound opportunities both in storytelling and camera-work.

The story goes horribly south at this point, as the girl learns of her heritage and becomes empathetic with her long-lost cousin, Leatherface, apparently forgetting that he's butchered all of her friends for barbecue meat. Before the horrid film reaches its miserable and sequel- forcing ending, we witness a ridiculous chainsaw sword fight and have completely lost the ability to be terrified by the film's monster. When (spoiler) the girl throws Leatherface his chainsaw and says "Do your thing, cuz", you might just vomit in your mouth a little bit. Most frustratingly of all is a plot device that would have stopped everything from happening, but without a convincing reason for why it didn't do just that.

And yes, filming has started on the sequel. God help us all.

-Thomas Bond, TheFilmDiscussion

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
"Jack Reacher" is what action is all about, 7 January 2013

Tom Cruise is at his snap-crackling best as Jack Reacher, a mysterious drifter with a skill set dangerous enough to make Liam Neeson shake in his boots. Called in to help solve a crime involving a military sniper, Jack soon realizes the stakes are much bigger than what he signed up for. But armed with quick one-liners, macho moves, and a charisma that breaks violently through the silver screen, there's nothing Reacher can't handle. Save for a ruthless and emotionless killer played by the one and only Werner Herzog, and perhaps the charms of Rosamund Pike. Written and directed with a slick, smooth confidence by Christopher McQuarrie, "Jack Reacher" is both a genre-defining action flick and an exciting character that you'll want to watch again and again.

-Thomas Bond

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
"Les Miserables" is a thundering, emotional wallop, 7 January 2013

Tom Hooper's emotional wallop of a film is easily the biggest spectacle in recent years. It's a lavish musical that hasn't been seen since "Chicago" took a stab at it back in 2003, complete with intricate and ornate sets, lush costumes, and of course, singing. Lots of singing. In fact, there's only singing, and while it may take a bit of getting used to, the skill and expertise of the actors is put on display in a rare and marvelous way that no one dare not appreciate. The film, based on both Victor Hugo's sprawling novel as well as the famed Broadway production, takes us into 19th-century France, where Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's (Anne Hathaway) daughter, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), a fateful decision that changes all of their lives forever. Throw in a couple of hilarious scene-stealing performances by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, and a solid turn by young Eddie Redmayne, and you've got a a minor casting miracle on your hands. What makes this film really stand out among musicals is the choice to use live singing on set. No voice-overs or dubbing of any kind here. Every word and note are presented as they were sung on set, raw and true. The result is both refreshing and gritty, lending a darker edge to a usually uplifting genre. While the title may suggest great sadness, the power and triumph and beauty of life in this grand film cannot be overcome, and I challenge anyone to emerge from this film feeling "miserable".

-Thomas Bond

This Is 40 (2012)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
"This Is 40" is raunchy and heartwarming. Solid Apatow, 7 January 2013

Judd Apatow returns to the director's chair with a hilarious vengeance as he directs his wife (Leslie Mann), two daughters (Maude and Iris) and Paul Rudd as a family who are all simultaneously reaching an awkward age where nothing seems to gel. Rudd is secretly taking Viagra and sneaking cupcakes behind his wife's back, while she's hiding her smoking habit and trying to account for twelve-thousand dollars of lost merchandise at her clothing store. The oldest daughter is addicted to "Lost" and a wimpy boy, while the youngest girl simply wants to be noticed. "Chaos" would seem to be the theme that carries through "This Is 40″, told in a series of episodes that altogether show a family under fire. As always with Apatow, the film has a raunchy heart of gold, and while these characters may not like each other, their love for one another is never doubted, a love that is present in each of the actors' excellent performances. Filled to the comedic brim with an outstanding supporting cast (Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Chris O'Dowd, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Melissa McCarthy), this movie will tickle your funny bone as many times as it will strike a poignant nerve.

-Thomas Bond

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
"An Unexpected Journey" is expected adventure and fun, "LOTR Lite", 19 December 2012

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is mostly what you'd expect it to be. If you've seen Peter Jackson's "LOTR Trilogy" and have been keeping an eye on the TV spots and movie trailers, it's just like that. Not much more. And not that that's bad, the film is fantastic entertainment. However, it feels so much like a rehash of some of "LOTR"'s most famous scenes that one could begin to think that the filmmakers, as they tried to stretch out a single book into three films, were running low on originality. Perhaps that's why they decided to go with the High Frame Rate format, a gimmick even cheaper than 3D that displays the film at twice the frame rate of standard projection, resulting in a hyper- realistic, sped up look that feels like a daytime soap opera. It is anything but cinematic (see it in IMAX, instead!). However, HFR and 3D do indeed compliment each other, and there are certainly grand possibilities here for the advancement of cinema. Just don't experiment with it on such important works as Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Save that for "Avatar 2″. But I digress. The film itself covers the first third of the book, and introduces us to a much younger Bilbo as he reluctantly joins Gandalf the Wizard and a company of Dwarfs determined to reclaim their homeland from a wicked dragon. We won't see that fight until the second movie, though, so this film fills its nearly three-hour running time with trolls, giant spiders, goblins, and orcs. While some parts stretch a bit, there is plenty of adventure, sweeping vistas, and fighting to please every fan boy (the film has already shot to #88 on's Top 250, a sure sign of bloated fan boy love). The best scene by far, however, takes place deep in a cave, between Bilbo Baggins and a familiar face, Gollum. Their game of riddles to determine Bilbo's fate is perfectly written and is so full of wit, charm, and suspense that it threatens to spill out of the screen. Andy Serkis's masterful motion- capture performance outdoes anything he has ever done before. The man is sheer brilliance, and the day that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes that will be a great day indeed. He earns a spot as one of five Best Supporting Performances of 2012, in my book at least.

-Thomas Bond

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