John Hanlon

John P. Hanlon

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'The Book Thief' Review: Drama Delivers Fresh View of Holocaust Horrors

The new drama The Book Thief isn't focused on the enormity of the Holocaust and the devastation that Hitler and the Nazis brought to Germany and the world. The film is instead focused on how one seemingly normal were affected by the Nazis as they adopt one child and end up protecting another. Nov 15, 2013 3:13 PM PT

'Thor: The Dark World' Review: Thor-Loki Bromance Highlights Superhero Sequel

If The Avengers brought a lighter tone to the cinematic comic book genre, Thor 2: The Dark World is a simple byproduct of that. Now that the characters have been introduced to a mainstream audience, the sequel gives the screenwriters and the actors enough space to create a more light-hearted and fun adventure. Chris Hemsworth stars as the title character in a story that is surprisingly appealing, despite its lack of a noteworthy villain. Nov 8, 2013 1:31 PM PT

'Kill Your Darlings' Review: 'Harry Potter' Captures Beat Poet's Early, Less Radical Years

“I love first times. I want my entire life to be composed of them,” states Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) in the new drama Kill Your Darlings. The film itself is packed with first times for its main character Allen Ginsberg, played by an admirable Daniel Radcliffe. Ginsberg, a young writer here, spends most of his time facing new experiences and becoming more self-aware in this dark and moody movie where everything and nothing seems to be in order. Nov 6, 2013 12:10 PM PT

'Ender's Game' Review: Harrison Ford Returns to Thoughtful Sci-Fi Fare

It’s been years since Harrison Ford starred in a thoughtful and powerful sci-fi epic. But now the Oscar-nominated actor has returned to space for his new film Ender’s Game, where he plays a gruff and tough colonel, whose animosity towards an interplanetary enemy knows few bounds. Ford lends this picture a powerful credibility that could get potential viewers into the theater. Fortunately for him, the story stands up on  its own as a thoughtful and beautiful-looking epic that never hesitates to mix great visual effects with powerful themes. Nov 1, 2013 5:06 AM PT

'The Counselor' Review: Phony Morality Tale Trips Up A-List Cast

Writer Cormac McCarthy is more well-known as a novelist than a screenwriter. He penned the novels that were adapted into films like All the Pretty Horses, The Road and the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men. But in The Counselor, his first cinematic screenplay, the writer fails to present interesting or thought-provoking characters. Instead, his forgettable characters simply seem to exist to speak poetically to one another. Oct 25, 2013 8:38 AM PT

'A.C.O.D.' Review: Divorce Comedy Delivers Intermittent Laughs

In the 1979 Oscar-winning drama Kramer vs. Kramer, a young son watches as his parent's relationship falls apart. He sees his mother leave the family and then watches as his two parents fight over him. Now, imagine that kid twenty-five years later and with selfish and conniving parents, who made his childhood miserable as they were separating. If you do that, you have the makings of the new dramedy A.C.O.D., an awkward abbreviation for “Adult Children of Divorce.” Oct 11, 2013 12:02 PM PT

'Runner Runner' Review: Recycled Drama Banks on Shopworn Thrills

The biggest problem with the new thriller Runner, Runner isn’t what’s onscreen, although the plot and the dialogue are often cringe-worthy. The great issue with the film is that we’ve seen all that it has to offer in countless other better dramas before. Like its repetitive title, Runner, Runner offers up a bland retelling of a familiar story that lies in the shadow of smarter and sleeker films like The Firm. Oct 4, 2013 6:38 AM PT

'Baggage Claim' Review: Terrible Comedy Looks Down on Black Republicans and Audiences Alike

When packing for a major trip, travelers usually fill their suitcases and bags with an eclectic mix of items. Items of clothing are shoved into pieces of luggage alongside toiletries, books, possibly a computer and other miscellaneous items. All in all, the baggage consists of an assortment of items picked up from around a person’s home. The new comedy Baggage Claim feels like a similar concoction of disparate parts. Instead of offering up anything original though, this story offers up a variety of inane plot devices borrowed from one romantic comedy or another. Sep 27, 2013 5:47 AM PT

'Prisoners' Review: Slow-Burn Thriller Muddies Heroes, Villains

If there is one word that can be used to describe the new kidnapping drama Prisoners, that word is methodical. This slow-paced, sizzling thriller never jumps from scene to scene leaving the viewer’s head spinning with outrageous plot twists. Instead, this Denis Villeneuve mystery moves at a slow but powerful pace as it unravels a grounded, realistic and thought-provoking tale about vengeance and prosecution. Sep 20, 2013 4:59 AM PT

'The Family' Review: Mob Comedy Should Sleep with the Fishes

A few scenes in the new dramedy The Family reference one of Robert De Niro’s great mob dramas. De Niro has appeared in a lot of great mob movies in his career so I won't spoil which one is talked about here. What I will spoil is the fact that this new picture, which stars De Niro as a gangster-turned-informant and seeks to pay homage to great mob movies of the past, is an utter waste of time.  Featuring a familiar subject and an iconic actor is not enough for a movie to come to life and The Family is ultimately as lifeless and dull as any number of the characters whacked during its overlong running time. Sep 13, 2013 5:56 AM PT

'Short Term 12' Review: Powerful, Unsentimental Look at Underprivileged Teens

Brie Larson leads the cast as Grace, one of the supervisors in the group home. She is as conflicted and oftentimes more wounded than the students she supervises. But she’s much better at hiding her pain. Her boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) sees through the walls she holds up but knows that she won’t completely open up to him. Early on, Grace discovers that she’s pregnant and immediately believes that abortion is her best option. Aug 30, 2013 5:44 AM PT

'Closed Circuit' Review: Big Ideas Squandered in Terror-Driven Thriller

Closed Circuit begins with an explosion and ends with a political debate.  By the time its short 96-minute running time reaches its end, viewers will inevitably wonder why the story works as poorly as it does. Here we have two strong actors and a compelling idea that are bogged down by a superficial narrative that holds the concept explored in the story back from reaching their full potential. Aug 28, 2013 11:25 AM PT

'2 Guns' Review: Combustible Chemistry Counters Twist-Obsessed Caper

At the end of the new film Two Guns, some of the heroes and the villains have cartoonishly betrayed one another. The plot, which started out innocently enough, has gone off the deep end. And the story's endless twists and turns have gone from slightly unpredictable to bizarrely unrealistic. Aug 2, 2013 6:16 AM PT


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