By Shane Sellar
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
When killing for a woman it’s important to get half of the sex upfront.
Unfortunately, the dupe in this action movie waited until afterwards.
An old flame (Eva Green) convinces a private eye (Josh Brolin) that her affluent husband is abusing her in an attempt to have him murdered for his fortune.
A young gambler (Joseph Gordon Levitt) enters into a backroom poker game involving the Senator (Powers Boothe), the rounder’s estranged father.
A stripper (Jessica Alba) copes with the murder of her friend (Bruce Willis) by teaming up with one of her patrons (Mickey Rourke) and getting revenge on the Senator who killed him.
Interconnecting narratives similar to its predecessor, this prequel/sequel to the groundbreaking original is past due and half filler.
Padded with non-graphic novel narrative and uninteresting characters, A Dame to Kill For is a subdued and clumsy cash grab.
Incidentally, corrupt cities always get the Olympics.
22 Jump Street
When assigning an undercover NARC to go to college, it’s best if it’s not a dog from the K-9 unit.
Fortunately, the agents allocated in this comedy are bipedal.
After failing to takedown drug czar The Ghost (Peter Stormare), Officers Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are busted back down to the Jump Street.
There, their Captain (Ice Cube) tasks them with taking down the supplier of a new drug killing college students.
While Jenko feels at home investigating the quarterback, an ostracized Schmidt finds solace in an art student (Amber Stevens).
With a low laugh point average, this obligatory follow-up to 21 Jump Street revels in its self-awareness to the point of annoyance.
Not nearly as clever or comedic as the original, 22 Jump Street becomes the asinine sequel it was trying to send-up.
Incidentally, undercover cops are usually the students’ bad mouthing campus security all the time.
Let’s Be Cops
The key to impersonating a cop is timing your car siren to every red light.
Good thing the impostors in this comedy know the tricks of the trade.
When a video game designer, Justin (Damon Wayans, Jr.), and his unemployed roommate, Ryan (Jake Johnson), attend an event dressed as cops they immediately notice a difference in how they’re treated.
Adorn by women, respected by the elderly and feared by criminals, Justin and Ryan fall under the sway of the uniform’s power.
But when an overzealous Ryan uses his bogus authority to bust-up a drug czar’s (James D’Arcy) operation, his actions land him and Justin in hot water with the kingpin – and his partner (Andy García).
Despite its implausible plot, Let’s Be Cops is a surprisingly uproarious comedy, with great lead chemistry, endearing side characters and an oddly inspiring script.
As for tells: real cops don’t hold their guns sideways.
If I Stay
The worst thing about having to die young is living an eternity wearing nothing but oshkosh b’gosh clothing.
Luckily, the half-dead girl in this drama doesn’t shop in the kids’ section.
An aspiring cellist, Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz), is left in limbo after a car accident kills both her parents (Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley).
Near death, Mia oversees her comatose body, as her grandfather (Stacy Keach), best friend (Liana Liberato) and on-again/off-again rock-star boyfriend Adam (Jamie Blackley) wait by her hospital bedside.
Reliving the events leading up to the collision, Mia’s post-punk parents, her dream of Julliard, and her troubled romance with the touring Adam are explored in-depth.
With its facile music factoids and obvious artistic love interest, this adaptation of the YA novel caters to weepy teen girls.
However, more discerning minds will find it a trivial idealization of death.
Besides, a real teen’s life flashing before their eyes mostly consists of them texting.
The best part of a Doo-Wop group is there are no instruments to lug around.
However, the voices in this musical drama do have baggage.
Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young), a gifted vocalist from New Jersey, teams with Tommy (Vincent Piazza), Bob (Erich Bergen) and Nick (Michael Lomenda) to start a singing group.
Relegated to backup singing, the boys struggle to get their single, “Sherry,” heard. When the song is heard, it sets off a chain reaction of number one hits.
Regrettably, when Tommy’s debt to a Jersey gangster (Christopher Walken) is called in, Frankie must make a tough choice.
While the hits are here, the versions in Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of the Broadway Musical about The Four Seasons are as lifeless and boring as the script.
Besides, why pay $20 to see actors imitating an old Doo-Wop group, when you can see the actual Doo-Wop group at the casino for $15?
The problem with quirky girl names is they make for lousy song titles.
Fortunately, musicians can work wonders with the normal named nuisance in this comedy.
Fired from her low-income job, terminal troublemaker Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) decides to abscond from her mother and her Illinois home in her grandmother’s car.
However, Tammy’s alcoholic grandma Pearl (Susan Sarandon) wants to come along with her so she can see Niagara Falls.
On the road, the pair lands in some hot water with the police and must seek refugee with Pearl’s unorthodox lesbian cousin (Kathy Bates).
On the lam, both become smitten with a father and son duo (Gary Cole, Mark Duplass).
Devoid of anything resembling a joke or a plot, Tammy is a failed attempt at cramming an offensive female character into a poorly formed and highly improbable romantic comedy.
Besides, the U.S. side of Niagara Falls is predominantly Canadian sewage.
How To Train Your Dragon 2
It’s highly unlikely that new dragon owners would live long enough to read a How-To manual sequel.
My mistake, the numerical reference in the title refers to an animated movie, not a book for scorched dummies.
Expected to succeed his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) on the Viking throne, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) holds off on ascending in order to discover new lands on his well-trained dragon, Toothless.
When Hiccup and his girlfriend (America Ferrera) uncover a plot by a dragon hunter (Djimon Hounsou) to overthrow Hiccup’s father, the pair must prevent the attack with help from Hiccup’s long-lost mother (Cate Blanchett).
Expanding the mythology of the fictional Scandinavia landscape to include an eclectic enemy and larger dragons, this sequel is infinitely superior to its predecessor.
Darker and more daring than the first, the series has matured along with its fan base.
Incidentally, most dragons take up smoking in their teen years.
The only way to wake a sleeping princess is to tell her that her trust fund has kicked in.
Waking the heiress in this fantasy, however, won’t be as easy.
When winged-fairy Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) has her feathers stripped by her boyfriend – the would-be king (Sharlto Copley) – the loss twists the good-natured nymph into a bitter sorceress.
Thus, on the birth of the King’s daughter (Elle Fanning), Maleficent curses the newborn to enter an eternal slumber on her 16th birthday – only to be awoken by true love’s kiss.
A visually stunning variant on Disney’s Sleeping Beauty adaptation, this reworking of the fable features a flawless performance from Jolie, and endless nods to its animated inspiration.
Unfortunately, the exoneration of Maleficent and the endless liberties taken with the kiss are incongruent and unwelcome.
Besides, all teenagers fall into deep sleeps when they turn 16. It’s called mono.
The worst part about being a Grecian demigod is everyone automatically assuming you’re going to eat your offspring.
Fortunately, someone else murdered the half-breed’s family in this action/adventure.
Hercules (Dwayne Johnson), the legendary son of Zeus and a human woman, leads a band of mercenaries (Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Reece Ritchie) around Greece selling their services.
When the King of Thrace (John Hurt) requests their assistances in training his soldiers for warfare, in exchange for gold, Hercules agrees.
But the King is not as benevolent as he appears. In fact, he is in league with King Eurystheus (Joseph Fiennes), the man who killed Hercules’ children.
With kinetic action and cornball dialogue, this adaptation of the graphic novel casts aspersions on Hercules’s lineage but in doing so adds a human element to the standard strongman story.
Furthermore, the only way to prove Zeus is Hercules’ father is by going on Maury.
Deliver Us from Evil
The best way to coax a demon out of a human is with executive-producer credit on the movie based on its life.
Unfortunately, this horror movie is only inspired by, not based on, its demonic source material.
New York cop Ralph (Eric Bana) and his partner (Joel McHale) find themselves enmeshed in a number of strange cases around town.
Eventually Ralph comes across a Spanish priest (Édgar Ramírez) who not only encourages him to harness his latent intuition, but also helps Ralph track down an Iraq War veteran (Sean Harris) possessed by a demonic spirit.
To make matters worse, the demon has kidnapped Ralph’s wife (Olivia Munn) and daughter.
Inspired by the real-life officer, Deliver Us from Evil relies too heavily on pop-up scares for its frights, while the religious undertones are wafer thin, and the acting unintentionally comical.
Incidentally, cops and priests usually only congregate during child-porn ring busts.
Having to explain what an acoustic guitar is to your audience is the hardest part of being a singer/songwriter today.
Fortunately the songstress in this musical has found a producer familiar with her analog instrument.
Contemplating moving home after breaking-up with her writing partner (Adam Levine), Gretta (Keira Knightley) is dissuaded by a freshly fired music executive, Dan (Mark Ruffalo), who offers her a contract.
Recording around New York City with a skeleton crew, including Dan’s daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) on guitar, Gretta garners that organic sound she was looking for.
But when Dan leverages the album to get his job back, Gretta rethinks how she wants to distribute her work, and for how much.
With decent songs, amiable performances and ample jabs at the fading industry, Begin Again explores artistry and its significance in today’s online retail market effortlessly.
Furthermore, illegally downloading music seriously impacts Billboard’s Hot 100 for that particular week.
He’s a Half-Empty Cause. He’s the…