New Releases

Maleficent (2014)
A Black-and-White Villain Repainted in Shades of Gray

The Maleficent character was introduced in Disney’s 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty as “the mistress of all evil.” One of the pleasures of the new film Maleficent, a live-action retelling of the Sleeping Beauty legend, is that it develops the title character not as a clear-cut fairytale villain, but as a slighted soul who is reacting, quite understandably, to her mistreatment. But if she’s capable of cruelty and vengeance, so too is she capable of love and tenderness.
Pavlov's Monster

“This will definitely have a very different feel than the most recent U.S. film,” said Gareth Edwards in a 2011 interview with Dread Central regarding his then-upcoming reboot of Godzilla, “and our biggest concern is making sure we get it right for the fans because we know their concerns. It must be brilliant in every category because I’m a fan as well.” With these words, said before a single frame of the film was shot, Edwards summed up everything I despise about the fanboy mentality.
Read More!
The Benefits of Not Taking the Toyetic Approach

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the best comic book film I’ve seen in a long time – a movie that’s not only incredibly entertaining and a dazzling showcase of special effects, but also a compelling character study and, most surprisingly, a touching drama.
Read More!
Birds of a Feather Carnivale Together

Rio 2 is every bit the equal of its predecessor – a fun, bright animated family comedy infused with bold colors and enlivened with an infectious Latin-influenced soundtrack. It doesn’t tell the most original of stories, and it certainly doesn’t develop the characters in the most original of ways, but given its style and innate likeability, such faults are easy to forgive.
Read More!
A Less Pulpy Comic Book Sequel

One of the pleasures of Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger, released in 2011, was its pulp magazine atmosphere. With its nostalgic sepia-toned color scheme, a 1940s-set story about vanquishing the evil Nazi regime, its space opera gadgets and gizmos, and its Superman-like faith in truth, justice, and the American way, it had a wonderful gee whiz sensibility that evoked the Saturday matinee serials of yesteryear.
Read More!
Is She the Bad Person She Claims to Be?

Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Volume I introduced us to Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who was found lying bruised and bloodied in the middle of a street by a man named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård). Recovering in his apartment, she proceeds to tell him the first half of her life story, a graphic sexual odyssey that dated all the way back to her third year. Nymphomaniac: Volume II, in which she tells the remainder of her story, begins right where the first film ended.
Read More!
Who Am I Speaking to Right Now?

Frankie & Alice, which has remained shelved since its week-long, award-qualifying release in December of 2010, tells the true story of a woman with dissociative identity disorder (DID). This forces me to rethink my negative feelings for it, since the condition remains to this day the subject of much debate and controversy, not merely amongst the general public, but also amongst medical professionals.
Read More!
He Can Crack Safes, But Can He Redeem Himself?

It’s said that there are only seven original plots. I’ve never bothered to seriously investigate this claim, but I think I can give it the benefit of the doubt, given what I’ve accumulated from years of movie watching. For any narrative artist – an author, a poet, a songwriter, a filmmaker – the trick is not to come up with an original plot, but to find clever ways to disguise or make bearable a plot’s complete lack of originality.
Read More!
Aronofsky's Take on a Biblical Story

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is, on the one hand, exactly what the title suggests: A dramatization of the biblical story of Noah, who, being the only man God viewed favorably, was called upon to build an ark that would house two of every animal, protecting them from a great flood that would return the earth to a pure state, before the misdeeds of humanity. But unlike the disappointing Son of God, released only one month ago, Noah isn’t a series of sanitized, Sunday School vignettes, and the title character isn’t an idealized figure.
Read More!
Every Bit as Unwatchable as Its Predecessor

2012’s The Raid: Redemption, an unendurable excursion into the lowest depths of action-movie filmmaking, has fared very well with critics, and its reputation has only continued to grow, its Rotten Tomatoes score currently set at 85%. Now we have The Raid 2, and although equally as unwatchable as its predecessor, it had already earned an 84% approval rating before its official U.S. and Indonesian release dates.
Read More!

From The Movie Vault Archives


The Wiz (1978)
Baum's Vision Gets Urbanized

Sidney Lumet’s The Wiz is an adaptation not just of the Tony-winning Broadway musical but also of L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which means it already has three strikes against it from a sizeable audience of fans and purists. Those who loved the novel – and, it cannot be denied, the 1939 MGM musical it spawned – may not respond well to the story’s urbanized updates, the cast consisting entirely of African American actors, the songs peppered with Motown, funk, and gospel influences.
A Black-and-White Villain Repainted in Shades of Gray
Read More!
Pavlov's Monster
Read More!
The Benefits of Not Taking the Toyetic Approach
Read More!
Birds of a Feather Carnivale Together
Read More!
A Less Pulpy Comic Book Sequel
Read More!
Is She the Bad Person She Claims to Be?
Read More!
Who Am I Speaking to Right Now?
Read More!
He Can Crack Safes, But Can He Redeem Himself?
Read More!
Aronofsky's Take on a Biblical Story
Read More!
Every Bit as Unwatchable as Its Predecessor
Read More!
Baum's Vision Gets Urbanized
Read More!
A Camp Horror Movie, Minus the Camp
Read More!
A Dizzying Whirlwind of Conflict
Read More!
Corman’s Horticultural Farce
Read More!
What Lies Waiting Beyond That Corridor?
Read More!
Chris Pandolfi makes his picks for The Best Films of 2012. See his full list of favorite films right here!
Read More!
Chris Pandolfi makes his picks for The Worst Films of 2012. See the full list of dispicable films right here…
Read More!
Chris Pandolfi Talks with the Author of Enemies, A Love Story
Read More!
San Diego's Biggest Convention as Seen Through the Eyes of The Massie Twins
Read More!
The reasoning behind my review of Act of Valor, supporting our troops, and the meaning of real patriotism
Read More!