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Scott has written 25 reviews for films rated ★★ .

  • Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy

    Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy

    ★★

    Pixie dust: The cause of—and solution to—all of life's problems.

  • Elysium

    Elysium

    ★★

    Very similar to District 9, but with the distracting problem of being worse on just about every level. More details to come in my "The Conversation" exchange on The Dissolve with the similarly disappointed Tasha Robinson.

  • Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

    Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

    ★★

    Reviewed for The Dissolve. (I made a heroic effort to put Tasha Robinson on it instead, but was rebuffed.) Excerpt:

    "It costs the same amount of money to see a Percy Jackson movie as it did to see a Harry Potter movie, but in all other respects, the series has the bargain-bin chintziness of those budget-conscious Christmases when the holiday bonus didn’t come through. Three teen heroes with supernatural powers, led by an uncertain Nerd Of Destiny, hone their craft…

  • Man of Steel

    Man of Steel

    ★★

    Relentlessly relentless, particularly in a final hour that knows no beat other than pummel. You get some glimpses here and there of the fundamental power of the Superman story-- particularly in scenes with his father (Kevin Costner, in fine form)-- but this thing is heavier than a thrice-baked potato.

  • After Earth

    After Earth

    ★★

    Shyamalan's least embarrassing effort in some time—and that's saying something, given the film's tacky philosophical underpinnings—but also his least distinctive. With this and The Last Airbender, he seems like a chastened auteur, forced to abandon his moody, patient scene-building in favor of a more conventionally polished commercial style. We don't really need more Jon Favreaus.

  • Safety Not Guaranteed

    Safety Not Guaranteed

    ★★

    The perfect example of the indie calling-card movie: Looks great, quirky as hell, totally useless. Aubrey Plaza does what she can, but there's just no weight to any of these "time travel" shenanigans at all, even as metaphor. I really hope digital filmmaking gets cheap enough to where aspiring Hollywood directors can sends movies like this straight to studio executives. It feels like the audience is witnessing a transaction.

  • Sightseers

    Sightseers

    ★★

    Reviewed for NPR here. Wheatley clearly has skilz, but this did nothing for me. Excerpt:

    "With his first two features, Down Terrace and Kill List, Wheatley attracted a fervent cult following for his formal mastery and his willingness to explore the darker side of human nature. But a misanthropic streak serves him poorly in Sightseers, which chokes on its own toxicity; in following the murderous adventures of a schlubby couple on holiday, the film can't contain its loathing for them and for the sorry creatures they encounter along the way."

  • What Maisie Knew

    What Maisie Knew

    ★★

    Seen at TIFF '12, rage only subsiding a bit since then. Capsule here. Excerpt:

    "What Maisie Knew ostensibly concerns the devastating effects of divorce on a small child caught up in a nasty custody dispute. But what it’s actually about are the devastating effects of a small child having the two worst people in the world as parents. There are no greater villains I’ve seen on screen this year than Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan in this film, to the degree that it’s difficult to separate my hostility toward them from my misgivings about the film in general."

  • Pieta

    Pieta

    ★★

    Seen at TIFF '12. Capsule here. Excerpt:

    "For a stretch in the mid-‘00s, Kim Ki-duk rattled off a few great or near-great films—Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring, 3-Iron, and Time, specifically—that signaled a maturing style, a willingness to temper the sexual provocation of earlier efforts like The Isle and Bad Guy with a more measured and curious take on human relationships. But Pieta feels like a step backwards, a crude tale of revenge that plays like A Christmas Carol

  • Glory Road

    Glory Road

    ★★

    I was a captive audience for this one (Saturday night with the in-laws, whatnot), and a second viewing did nothing to change my mind about it. My "C" review stands:

    "Unless the filmmaking were completely inept, it would be impossible to make a movie about Texas Western that isn't superficially exciting, but every underdog basketball story doesn't have to be Hoosiers. Glory Road treats history as if it were a 7th-grade social-studies text laid out in a 16-point font, getting the basics right without trying to evoke any of the details that would make it memorable. In other words, it gets the Bruckheimer treatment."

  • Pain & Gain

    Pain & Gain

    ★★

    My NPR review is posted here. Excerpt:

    "For Michael Bay, the director of Armageddon and the Transformers movies, to comment on the excesses of American culture would be a little like — well, Michael Bay commenting on the excesses of American culture. And yet that's exactly what he does with Pain & Gain, a stranger-than-fiction yarn about a South Florida crime spree that points and snickers in the direction of precisely the supersized grotesquerie that's long been Bay's stock-in-trade. He blankets the film in a tone of smug self-awareness that obscures everything but its bald hypocrisy."

  • You've Been Trumped

    You've Been Trumped

    ★★

    Donald Trump is the world's most reliable moral compass: If he believes something, you know it's completely wrong. And I have no doubt, after watching this documentary (or even before), that his successful effort to trample over precious Scottish dunes to build a destination golf course is as evil as everything else he does. But this is one crude piece of agitprop--artless, shapeless, manipulative-- and I can't abide that, either.