Movie Review: Mama (2013)

Jessica Chastian, Isabelle Nelisse and Megan Carpenter in "Mama" (Universal).

‘Mama’ scares: Supernatural drama ‘calm, creepy, dramatic,’ 77% Todd Miller | Writer In only watching the trailer for “Mama,” I expected the film to be an hour and a half of horror clichés, one after another. However, “Mama” is also produced by the same man who directed and produced “Pan’s Labrynth,” so I was willing to give it a shot. I was glad to find that the film held a pleasant surprise. The movie starts with two little girls being taken to the woods by their father, where he intends to kill them and himself. But their father suddenly goes missing, and the girls are left alone in the woods for five years. After they’re…

Film Review: 007: Skyfall (2012)

MI6 Agent 007, James Bond (Daniel Craig) in "007: Skyfall" (2012).

Craig finds his inner bond at ‘Skyfall,’ 5/5 stars Carl J. Bachus | Collegio Reporter Aside from Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes, Ian Fleming’s secret agent James Bond is probably one of the most famous men in modern fiction. There have been many imitators, but none has come close to matching the classic spy thriller that Bond delivers. The film adaptations are no exception. The newest Bond film, “Skyfall,” finds 007, presumed dead, returning to MI6 to combat a cyber-terrorist with deep ties to the British secret service. Daniel Craig returns as James Bond who, after effectively being terminated by the MI6, is brought back into the fold when undercover spies in terrorist organizations are…

Film Review: Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

"Wreck-It Ralph" (2012, Disney/Buena Vista)

‘Ralph’ not a wreck: Great gamer movie provides laughs for all ages, 5/5 stars Todd Miller | Collegio Writer As someone who enjoys video games and gaming culture, I understood “Wreck-It Ralph” had the potential to be entertaining or depressingly disappointing. I can say that “Wreck-It Ralph” exceeded my expectations, and built itself on such strong storytelling, visual and entertaining foundation, that even Ralph could not tear it down. Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the villain in the arcade platforming game “Fix-It Felix Jr.” Although his game has been plugged-in for 30 years, Ralph has been losing his steam as the game’s bad guy, becoming jealous of the game’s protagonist, “Fix-It” Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer)….

Film Review: Frankenweenie (2012)

Victor Frankenstien and Sparky in Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie" (2012, Disney).

Burton’s latest is good, not great, 3.5/5 Todd Miller | Collegio Writer Monster movies returned last week with the release of “Frankenweenie,” an animated remake of an older Tim Burton movie by the same name. The non-animated version was released in 1984, but Disney felt the movie was too scary for children and it was aired only in the UK. After Burton’s other successful films, however, Disney finally released “Frankenweenie” on home video in 1994. Burton gets further retribution in this new animated release, which he also directed. The 2012 “Frankenweenie” is also a feature-length movie, unlike the 30-minute original. Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is a young, shy boy who is attached to his dog,…

Film Review: Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Dracula (Adam Sandler) and Mavis (Selena Gomez) in Genndy Tartokofsky's "Hotel Transylvania (2012, Sony Pictures Animation).

Fun for young and old Todd Miller | Collegio Writer If you took the charm and whimsy of Dr. Seuss and combined it with the eeriness and “gothicism” of Tim Burton, you would get something like “Hotel Transylvania.” It’s always great when a movie reaches my high expectations, and “Hotel Transylvania” did just that. It didn’t excel beyond my hopes, but it certainly was as good as I had hoped. “Hotel Transylvania” was built by Dracula (Adam Sandler) as a safe haven for monsters around the world to get away from the threat of persecution by humans. It was also built to protect his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), from the world he believed too dangerous…

Film Review: Dredd (2012)

Karl Urban ("Star Trek") as Judge Dredd in "Dredd" (Lionsgate).

“Dredd” revival tries too hard, 3/5 stars. Todd Miller | Collegio Writer After last week’s disappointment, I was treated this week to a well-handled action movie that heralds the beginning of the fall-winter movie season. That movie is “Dredd.” “Dredd” is a revival of the “Judge Dredd” character from the British comic of the same name from the magazine, “2000 AD.” A Judge Dredd movie was released in 1995, starring Sylvester Stallone. Although “Dredd” is not related to its 1995 counterpart, it is a reintroduction of the character to more contemporary audiences and certainly an improvement over its 17-year-old cousin. “Judge Dredd (1995)” was a fairly decent film, but was overplayed and silly enough that…

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

Alice (Milla Jovovich) dispatches a zombie in "Resident Evil: Retribution" (Screen Gems/Sony, 2012).

‘Retribution’ adds nothing to series, 1.5/5 stars Todd Miller | Collegio Writer The big summer releases are behind us and the holiday season releases are still a month away, meaning new releases right now are mostly shallow tripe, like “Resident Evil: Retribution.” The film is a sequel to “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” and it is part of the “Resident Evil” series. “Retribution” makes this clear, spending the first 20 minutes recapping the whole series and showing a battle that should’ve taken place in the previous movie … twice. After the battle, Alice (Milla Jovovich) finds herself captured in an unknown location, where she is interrogated by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), a former ally who seems to…

The Words (2012) review

Zoe Saldana and Bradley Cooper in "The Words" (CBS Films).

‘Words’ tells boring story, 1.5/5 stars Todd Miller | Collegio Writer It must be the slow time of year at the theaters when they start showing movies about a book, about a book. Not in the creative “House of Leaves” sort of way, but in a dull, derivative way that makes for an uninteresting movie. “The Words” is about author Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid). Well, not really. The movie is about his book “The Words,” which is about Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper), a wannabe author that discovers an old novel manuscript in an antique bag bought in Paris. Rory types up the manuscript, and his wife Dora (Zoe Saldana) finds it, and pushes him into…

Lawless (2012) review

Shia LaBeouf stars in "Lawless" (2012, The Weinstein Company).

Todd Miller | Collegio Writer Period drama lacks focus, 2.5/5 stars If you’re tired of the same old tripe in action movies, “Lawless” offers a nice reprieve for the casual moviegoer. The film is set in Prohibition-era Virginia and focuses on the Bondurant brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy), Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LeBeouf), who operate a successful bootlegging business. The Bondurant brothers are one of several groups of bootleggers in Franklin County, and all of them make a comfortable living selling the illegal substance. District Attorney Mason Wardell (Tim Tolin) wants a cut of the profits and sends in special agent Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) to negotiate, and inevitably threaten, the bootleggers of Franklin…

Hit & Run (2012) review

Bradley Cooper, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard in "Hit & Run."

‘Hit’ a smash Todd Miller | Collegio Writer When I think about action movies, explosive, angry cinematography and an angst-ridden, angry, desperate or antihero protagonist comes to mind. “Hit and Run,” however, gave me a nice reminder that action movies don’t need to be essentially visual noise. It presents the audience with a sympathetic and slightly non-traditional main character, in a romantic movie coated with an action movie shell. “Hit and Run” is focused on Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard), who has been in the witness protection program for four years, and his relationship with his girlfriend, Annie Bean (Kristen Bell), a college instructor who teaches non-violent conflict resolution. Annie gets a job opportunity at a…