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EDGE OF DARKNESS

Studio: Warner Bros.

Rated: R for strong bloody violence and language

Starring: Danny Huston, Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Shawn Roberts and Peter Hermann

Directed by: Martin Campbell

What it’s about: Mel Gibson plays Craven, a Boston police detective whose daughter is gunned down right next to him on a trip home. Distraught, Craven opens his own investigation into her death, not believing that it was a hit meant for him. In the process, he discovers a conspiracy that involves some very powerful people.

What I liked: I don’t care what kind of drunken rants Mel Gibson has, I like the guy as an actor. He just works on the screen, and it’s nice to see him back. This is, after all, his first film he’s starred in since Signs in the summer of 2002.

Gibson is what makes this movie work. While it’s not a adrenaline-driven action film like Taken, it has plenty of raw moments with Gibson’s character kicking ass. Of course, he builds his case first before going after the bad guys, but that’s what makes the movie effective. I like the vengeful father on a rampage, and Gibson pulls this off very well.

What I didn’t: Although Martin Campbell has done two excellent reboots of the Bond franchise, he’s not as smooth with Gibson’s career reboot. While his star is great in the role, it is some script flaws that bring the movie down. The story really isn’t all that original, and it seems more at home in a Mel Gibson movie from his original rise to fame in the 80s.

Ultimately, we’ve seen a lot of this before, and the writing of the script is as murky as the muddled accents used by practically everyone in the film. A lot of the actors mumble through their dialogue, and there’s a lot of detail thrown at you when all you need to realize is that Gibson’s going to kick some serious ass.

Who is gonna like this movie: Mel Gibson fans and anyone who wants to see a father on the slow-burn rampage.

Grade: B

WHEN IN ROME

Studio: Touchstone

Rated: PG-13 for some suggestive content.

Starring: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Will Arnett, Alexis Dziena and Jon Heder

Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson

What it’s about: Kristen Bell plays Beth, a curator at the Guggenheim, who is fiercely unlucky in love. So, while in Rome for her sister’s wedding, Beth pulls some coins from a magical fountain, only to discover that the guys who threw those coins in are now in love with her. All the suitors follow her back to New York, and she soon finds herself falling for one of them… the good looking one, of course (not Danny DeVito).

What I liked: I know that I’m going to catch holy Hell from the readers and other critics on this site by giving some praise to When In Rome, but it’s not a bad film for a January romantic comedy. Sure, it’s predictable and formulaic, but that’s what rom coms are supposed to be.

Kristen Bell is very easy on the eyes, especially in her plunging neckline dress for the wedding. She and Josh Duhamel make a very attractive couple, and both actors manage to make themselves relateable and not intimidating to the audience.

Still, the best part of the movie is the gaggle of suitors who have fallen in love with Beth. Will Arnett is hilarious as the wacky painter with a foot fetish. Danny DeVito is creepy but oddly loveable as the sausage king trying to woo her. Jon Heder plays a David Blaine-ish street magician who will go to dangerous lengths to get Beth’s attention. And Dax Shepard is surprisingly funny as the male model with an eye for Beth.

Yes, I just praised Dax Shepard in a film role. Get ready for that snowball fight in Hell.

What I didn’t: Most critics – and anyone with a penis – is going to roll his eyes at this movie. Let’s face it, The Dark Knight, this is not. It’s a rom com being released two weeks before Valentine’s Day. It’s meant for the estrogen audience. So your standard complaints about a romantic comedy – predictability, somewhat shallow characters, cliches abound – are to be expected.

Outside of this, the script seems half baked, as if they just didn’t get a chance to finish revisions before the shooting schedule started. Some plot points seemed forced, and several of the jokes just never take flight. You might be left scratching your head if you think too much about this one.

Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of the rom com.

Grade: B-


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