"The Brothers Bloom"
Rian Johnson's follow-up to Brick uses the one-last-grift scenario as a setup for the filmmaker's clever dialogue and a heartfelt rumination on how life stories are what we spin them into. Though stars Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo take the title, Johnson gives to Rinko Kikuchi a great comic supporting role and allows Rachel Weisz to steal the movie as a rich, reclusive mark. Grade: B+
"Drag Me to Hell"
Sam Raimi's return to horror, with good-girl loan officer Alison Lohman facing a deadly gypsy curse after turning down the wrong customer, has a near-perfect mix of comedy and shock via gobs of bodily fluids and some terrific sound effects. Basically, for most of the film, if you're not laughing you're feeling good and scared. Grade: A-
A movie about two people who don't understand each other at all, this low-key drama follows the relationship that develops between Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane), an unflappably cheerful Senegalese taxi driver, and William (Red West), a grizzled old man who offers $1,000 for a trip that Solo knows will end with William's suicide.
It'd be easy to say William and Solo develop an improbable friendship, but what they become is more complicated and fascinating than just friends. It's hard to be sure what they mean to each other, even when you reach the film's flawless final scenes. Grade: A
Todd Phillips' latest mines the comedic possibilities of being blackout drunk, marking a return to form for the Frat Pack director and the closest he's come to recapturing the silly magic of Old School. It helps that he's assembled an ideal cast - Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis - to play the three groomsmen who take a buddy to Vegas for a bachelor party they'll never remember.
It's unapologetically lowbrow and lacks a ton of gut-busting gags. But there are plenty of snicker-worthy moments, which tend to come from Galifianakis, and they'll stick with you for days. Grade: B
"Is Anybody There?"
Its tale of life lessons passed from the elderly to the young is predictable. But this quiet British import about an unlikely friendship between a death-obsessed boy (Bill Milner) and an aging magician (Michael Caine) manages to be endearing, thanks to engaging performances from a surly Caine and the precocious Milner. Grade: B
"Land of the Lost"
Director Brad Silberling shows a professional hand with the technical aspects of turning the 1970s kids show from camp TV into would-be summer blockbuster, but like most filmmakers, he basically gives star Will Ferrell free rein. The actor's a good fit for his pompous character, yet his tendency to go off on improvised tangents saps the forward momentum needed for the adventure side of the story. Grade: C+
"My Life in Ruins"
A predictable romp through some gorgeous locales, the new vehicle for My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Nia Vardalos casts her as a history prof slumming it as a tour guide who gets off her high horse long enough to realize that her collection of tourist-from-hell stereotypes really aren't that bad and that underneath a Grizzly Adams beard, the Greek driver is godlike and really into her. Grade: C
The cast of Derick Martini's coming-of-age film brings to mind movies like Outside Providence and Igby Goes Down, while its '70s-era suburban story recalls American Beauty and The Ice Storm.
But the new movie doesn't hold up well to the associations, given encounters between its flawed personalities that can be as forced as the director's symbolic cutaways to a model of a perfect housing development. Nonetheless, a cast including Alec Baldwin, Timothy Hutton and Kieran Culkin makes it worth watching. Grade: B-
"The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3"
Director Tony Scott lets John Travolta off his leash again, encouraging the star to run wild in full-on Face/Off mode as a domestic terrorist who hijacks a New York subway car full of passengers for a $10 million ransom.
All around the tense conversation that ensues between Travolta and subway dispatcher Denzel Washington, Scott's camera almost never stops moving as he goes to ridiculous lengths to craft a blood-pumping extravaganza. Despite Travolta's loose-cannon energy, this is too slick to hold onto for long. Grade: C
McG's entry into the Terminator canon brings its time-traveling storyline full circle, with Christian Bale's John Connor fulfilling his destiny as head of the resistance against Skynet's human extinction plans. And while the director handles special effects with finesse, it's almost as if he used up his sense of humor in the Charlie's Angels movies. Grade: C
The latest from Pixar tells of an elderly widower (voiced by Ed Asner) who uproots his home with a bunch of balloons and heads for South America with a young scout as an unwelcome traveling companion. It's an odd, mature and sometimes dark adventure, but it's a memorable one, filled with genuine heart as well as great gags. Grade: A
Click to Adam's Cube at ColumbusAlive.com to hear Melissa Starker's take on Year One