Midnight in Paris

Come on, people. I get that Owen Wilson‘s interactions with long dead literary characters are fun and playful, but every second of this movie that isn’t spent traipsing through the streets of post-midnight Paris is aggravating as hell. The normally lovely Rachel McAdams annoys with every word and motion, and Wilson’s character takes ninety minutes of heavy handed abuse before finally catching a clue. The only thing magical here is how this bland and basic tale attracted a bigger audience than the superior (and admittedly less comedic) Match Point. -RH

Super 8

JJ Abrams‘s love letter to Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment appears on the surface to hit all the right notes, but even a cursory glance reveals a hollow and false foundation. After a pretty solid first hour the film devolves into inane set pieces, contrivances, and an unearned and unsatisfying conclusion. Joe’s issues with his distant dad? Magically resolved. The implied emotional weight given to his mother’s locket? Meh. The bonding moment between lost boy and murderous alien? Confusing. Hopefully next time Abrams will worry more about a coherent and heart-warming script than about how to justify lens flare in a dark cave. -RH

Take Shelter

Yes, Michael Shannon is the man. He’s been knocking around for the better part of two decades, and was honored only a few years ago with an Academy Award nomination for Revolutionary Road. Shannon was also good in Take Shelter, but the film itself is lesser than his performance. It falls into plenty of low-budget award film cliches, from portraying average Americans as dull, drab, and humorless to spotlighting too many obvious Oscar clips and having a painfully predictable ending. -KC

Transformers: The Dark of the Moon

While this film was appropriately raked over the critical coals this summer, audiences flocked to see Michael Bay’s latest testosterone ejaculation…in 3D! Transformers: Dark of the Moon made so much money that it became the fourth highest grossing film in the world, eclipsing far better $1B movies like The Dark Knight, Toy Story 3 and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. And the blame is universal, considering more than $770 million of its gross was garnered overseas. Congratulations, planet Earth. You just guaranteed more of these mind-numbing and incomprehensible explosion extravaganzas for the next dozen years. -KC

Tree of Life

It’s a polarizing movie, sure, so consider me on the pole opposite many critics out there. Beautiful cinematography couldn’t save this pretentious, indulgent, overlong, unsubtle mess of a movie. Any argument for artistic merit and deeper meaning in its cinematic mosaic is lost in scenes with Jessica Chastain pointing to the sky and declaring, “That’s where God lives” and nonsensical tantric yoga at the film’s climax. -KC

TrollHunter

How do any one of these trolls sneak up on a single person? Or a bear? Even by “found footage film” standards, this is a weak entry aside from the troll effects as the story gets dragged out too long for too little. -RH

Tie – Warrior / We Need To Talk About Kevin

I respectfully disagree with the honorable Mr. Hunter on Warrior. It’s not a triumph or gripping film…not when you see the trailers and know not only that the main characters are brothers (a fact that’s supposed to be a surprise in the film), but also that they’re going to fight each other in the championship. Add to this the uninspired overuse of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” as a training song and the achingly unsubtle obsession Nick Nolte’s character has with Moby Dick, it’s clear this film just tries too hard to rise above itself. -KC

We Need To Talk About Kevin does not work as a drama because the boy is a cartoon villain. It does not work as horror because the most frightening element is Tilda Swinton‘s wardrobe. It does not work as a musical because there are no musical numbers. It does not work as a comedy because it feels like a Friedberg/Seltzer riff on “devil-kid” movies. Okay, that last one may have been a bit harsh. -RH


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