Kristy Puchko is a film critic/movie blogger who has written for Cinema Blend, Next Movie, Jezebel, The Film Stage, and Critical Mob. You can read her movie reviews here, or follow her on Twitter @KristyPuchko
Often felt in the hormone-fueled heydays of youth, first love can be a frenzy of overwhelming passion and dizzying lust. So of course it's a sensational jumping off point for drama. Add in a dash of deep parental disapproval, and you've got the stuff of Shakespeare. Sadly, while the new movie 'Endless Love' has the premise for great romantic drama, it lacks the conviction and execution, coming up boring where it should be bold.
"Remake" is often Hollywood code for "rehashed, lazy cash grab," but sometimes a basic premise can be given a refreshing new spin with the right cast and crew behind it. Starring Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant, 'About Last Night' is the rare remake that justifies its existence by being freshly fun and thoroughly entertaining.
Based on the bestselling YA book series, 'Vampire Academy' seemed a promising movie adaptation. Combining the cutthroat world of high school with the bloodlust of vampire fiction, it had an enticing starting point. Adding to its allure were a writer and director who have defined the modern teen queen movie, Daniel Waters, the screenwriter of 'Heathers,' and Mark Waters, the director of 'Mean Girls.' So how did the 'Vampire Academy' turn out so lifeless?
Few things scream "cash grab" as loudly as a movie about a popular children's toy, as these productions rely highly on the brand recognition of children and nostalgia of adults. Making a good movie inspired by pre-existing playthings is such a rare thing that it almost seems impossible. Thankfully, Phil Lord and Chris Miller -- the directing duo behind the charming 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' and the hilarious '21 Jump Street' reboot -- are known for turning terrible-sounding projects into spectacularly entertaining adventures. And they've done the impossible with 'The LEGO Movie', creating a wonderful narrative that perfectly captures the wonder and joy of playing with the iconic building blocks.
After New Line's live-action 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' movie grossed more than $200 million worldwide, the heroes in a half-shell were guaranteed a sequel. That came just a year later in 1991 in the form of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.' This turtle-powered action movie didn't fare as well at the box office, but was nonetheless beloved by kids that couldn't get enough of these pizza-loving crime fighters.
Last week saw the release of Vanessa Hudgens' brave dramatic turn in 'Gimme Shelter.' This week, her 'High School Musical' co-star Zac Efron tries his hand at R-rated comedy with the rom-com for dudes and by dudes, 'That Awkward Moment.' So, has he made his next step from child star to accomplished adult actor as powerfully as she did? In a word: no.
The "manic pixie dream girl" has become a well-recognized stereotype in romance movies. She's bubbly, flirtatious and quirky, but most importantly, she's a tool for the moody male hero to discover himself/a new lease on life. This usually makes her a bit grating and stale. But in Spike Jonze's 'Her,' this stock character is reimagined with a sci-fi twist and an incredible insightfulness that shakes off all of its stodgy expectations.
Beautiful. I scribbled this word in my notebook seven times as I watched Disney's latest princess adventure, 'Frozen.' Lots of other compliments can and will be paid to this profoundly wonderful film, but it is, above everything else, spectacularly beautiful.
In 2012, 'The Hunger Games' was not only critically acclaimed; it was also the third highest grossing blockbuster of the year, coming in behind 'The Avengers' and 'The Dark Knight Rises.' This meant Francis Lawrence, who took over directing duties for the film series after Gary Ross bowed out, has an incredibly high bar to meet with the adaptation of Suzanne Collins' second novel in her trilogy, 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.' We're elated to report that he's created a sequel that is bigger, bolder and all around better than its solid predecessor, helped in part by an extraordinary cast and a lusher budget.
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