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Quick Reviews (From Cate Blanchett’s Oscar to Taken 3)

There are so many movies coming out that I can’t seem to find time to write full reviews fast enough. But here are a few quick thoughts on some recent films to hit theaters.

Blue Jasmine

Woody Allen’s films, while entertaining, often have vague endings and even vaguer messages. Jasmine is no different. Cate Blanchett does an exquisite job in her portrayal as the titular character, a socialite trying to rebuild her life after her shady businessman husband is arrested by the FBI. Whether her performance is worthy of the Academy Award she received is debatable (I personally thought Merryl Streep deserved another victory), but it is certainly good enough to carry an otherwise scatter brained narrative. FINAL GRADE: B

The Monuments Men

World War II films (or any war film for that matter) always carry a sense of nostalgia about them. This film directed by and starring George Clooney, manages to capture that with perfection. Where this intriguing true story about men recruited to prevent Hitler from stealing art from invaded countries, falters is in its tone. Its solid cast floats between serious and quirky and often undermines what is actually a serious and humbly noble story. Is it enough to derail the film? No. But it is enough to prevent what seemed like an Oscar-worthy set up from becoming as such. FINAL GRADE: B


The source material, about the real life ancient Italian city destroyed by a volcano, lends itself to at least a decent swords and sandals epic. But maybe the wrong people got a hold of the source material. This movie is laughably sloppy from its cast (why is Jack Bauer from 24 playing a corrupt Roman politician?) to its dialogue, to its melodramatic love story. It thinks it’s 300 meets Gladiator with a dash of Titanic, but it possesses none of the actual qualities that made those films classics. I suppose its saving grace would be the action sequences. But you’re better off just watching an episode of Game of Thrones than sitting through this mess. FINAL GRADE: D


Liam Neeson has perfected the grizzly action hero. But don’t be fooled into thinking that Non Stop is another Taken. Believe it or not, it is actually much more cerebral than Taken or Taken 2 while still being more suspenseful and action packed than Neeson’s divisive film The Grey. Not to say that it is a classic piece of noir filmmaking. That is by no means the case. In fact, many of the sequences are more preposterous than the McGuyver-esque stunts Neeson made believable in the Taken films. But, this movie about an Air Marshall attempting to find and stop a mystery terrorist aboard his plane, is a top notch thriller that gives just enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. FINAL GRADE: B+

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