Review Round-up: First Half of 2013

I never got around to writing my monthly recaps of new films I’d seen, so consider this a make-up for that. Here’s every new movie I saw this year that hasn’t been covered on this site (outside of preview columns) or on College Movie Review.

Justin Long and Jason Sudeikis in Movie 43
Movie 43
(B) – Theater
Rumors of this being the Citizen Kane of awful have been greatly exaggerated. I laughed my ass off, and this was without any, ahem, impairment. It will play even better at home.

Nicholas Hoult in Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies
(B-) – DVD
Skates by solely on its charm and soundtrack. This zom-rom-com is a lot more Twilight than it would like to admit, and that makes this kind of a disappointment.

Rooney Mara in Side Effects
Side Effects
(A-) – Screening
One of only a few movies I actually was over the moon for this year. Great acting across the board serves a mystery that grows more bizarre by the minute. I loved it.

Jai Courtney and Bruce Willis in A Good Day to Die Hard
A Good Day to Die Hard
(C) – Screening
Though I wasn’t offended by it when I saw it, its laziness is rearing its ugly head every time I think about it. It’s certainly not terrible, but could have been much more, especially when its third act takes a turn for the unbelievable (yes, even more unbelievable than all the jumping and running and crazy driving).

James McAvoy in Trance
(A-) – Screening
Just like Side Effects, this was an erotic thriller that lived up to its title. It’s got style and substance and ends in disturbing fashion.

Velociraptors vs. Joseph Mazzello in Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park 3D
(A) – Theater
The extra dimension adds nothing, but this is perhaps the best summer blockbuster of the last 25 years. It’s absolutely entertaining from start to finish.

The Rock, Tony Shalhoub and Mark Wahlberg in Pain and Gain
Pain & Gain
(B) – Theater
Though it’s slightly more high-minded than robots crashing into each other, this is by no means a masterpiece. But like much of the Coen Brothers’ output, it’s a film about rubes who think they can get away with the crime, and the extraordinary price they pay for their hubris. The Rock absolutely kills it in his role as a born-again junkie who slowly lets down his guard to the seductive power of money, sex and cocaine.

Amy Seimetz and Shane Carruth in Upstream Color
Upstream Color
(A) – DVD
A bold, captivating, gorgeous, brilliant, maddening follow-up to Shane Carruth’s Primer. You won’t see anything like it and for that reason alone I’d recommend it. Beyond that, it’s a mystery I keep trying to unravel in my mind, finding no solution. That may frustrate some viewers but for me it makes the film that much better.

Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek into Darkness
Star Trek into Darkness
(B+) – Theater
Not quite on par with the 2009 reboot, but still contains everything you want from a summer movie without succumbing to the bigger-is-better philosophy of most sequels. It’s obviously indebted to the moral quandaries of The Dark Knight, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. Cumberbatch kills it, even if his villain is a little underdeveloped. (The writers would call this “mysterious.”)

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