Clash of the Airbender and Kitty Galore: The Kids' Christmas Carol
Disney's A Christmas Carol: "Visually speaking, A Christmas Carol is what critics would describe as breathtaking, particularly during Scrooge's flights with the Ghost of Christmas Past. Of course, Dickensian London is a largely coal-coated, filthy, and wretched sight to behold, and, despite the Christmas Eve setting, none of the gloom or poverty are played down here, nor should they be. A Christmas Carol is not a warm and fuzzy tale, nor is it filled with characters with whom you'd grab Sunday brunch. Throughout his career, Charles Dickens excelled at capturing the grotesque realism of life, and Zemeckis has taken great care to replicate this vision; but it's not a terribly pretty process, and things become downright horrifying when the supernatural arrives at Scrooge's gloomy manor. When old business partner Marley arrives, he is proceeded by the rattling of chains that are soon flung mercilessly into the audience (if you're doing the 3D thing), and, in a grisly spectacle, his seven-year-dead jaw actually becomes unhinged while warning Scrooge of his impending visitors. The respective ghosts also contribute their own respective creepiness into the mix, and while the Ghost of Christmas Past appears as a cute flame-headed candle, things quickly take a more ominous turn with the Ghost of Christmas Present, who starts out as a jolly old Santa Claus type but devolves into a malignant, laughing menace who not only reveals two feral children beneath his robes but then dissolves into a shrieking skeleton. This horror is amplified by Ghost of Things Yet To Come, a shadowy figure who merely points to indicators of doom, but then Zemeckis takes things further by shrinking Scrooge down to rodent size and forcing him to flee from a hearse, which is drawn by horses with frightening red eyes that resemble that of a Terminator. Scrooge's tale is a cautionary one that dearly frightens him, and the film means to frighten its audience as well." - Agent Bedhead
The Last Airbender: "There was no need for this to be in 3D, as it lacks even a second dimension. If you were a fan of the cartoons, you're going to be mortified. If you're coming into this raw, you're just going to be fucking bored and possibly confused, even though they practically repeat word for word every event as they are about to perform it. Instead of the lighthearted and energetic anime style romp we got for several years on Nickelodeon, Shyamalan delivers a listless, miserable, and dreary film that skims across everything wonderful in the source material like someone skipping stones over a sewage tank. But what do you really expect from a dude whose second to last film was about himself writing a children's story in order to save the world?" - Brian Prisco
The Kids Are All Right: "The joy of The Kids Are All Right is that it bucks convention in the most unexpected ways. For example, director Lisa Cholodenko (who co-wrote with Stuart Blumberg) absolutely refuses to let her movie about love and humor become a formulaic romantic comedy. Characters in lower-grade fare have emotion thrust upon them and act out only because the script says they should, e.g., when a vapid teen pines for her pale and possibly sparkly boyfriend only to randomly reject his advances. But the relationship at the center of Kids is packed with honest, warm moments of real humanity in which one partner reaches out to the other, not in fear or anger or mere lust but because they honestly want to. There's a sense not just of togetherness but absolute necessity, and it comes from the dialogue and direction and wonderful performances by the two leads, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. Which is where the film's other strength makes itself known: Bening and Moore play a married lesbian couple with two teenage kids conceived through a sperm donor, and the circumstances of their life are treated as blessedly normal. Their gayness isn't a shouting distraction, nor is it played down for some attempt at universality that critics hung like a ghostly weight around Brokeback Mountain. This is simply the way things are, and it's refreshing for a gay relationship to be treated with the honesty and normalcy of a straight one in film. Cholodenko's film isn't without some fits and starts, but when she winds her way back to the couple at its core, she always manages to create something wonderful." - Daniel Carlson
Clash of the Titans: "I can't begin to explain how brain-damaged Louis Leterrier's Clash of the Titans is. Liam Neeson, in full-on sell-out mode, looks like a beer commercial Zeus, and you half-expect to see twins in bikinis jump onto the screen with a six-pack of Miller Light. "Release the Boobies!" Hades is beyond laughable; he's like "Saved by the Bell's" version of the God of the Underworld. Vessel is as wooden and and tiresome as ever, working those gleaming white tic tacs and his shitty stubble into an ineffective scowl. Every frame of Clash of the Titans is risibly campy, yet takes itself dead seriously. It's every bit as dull as the Ray Harryhausen original, inexplicably doted on by men nostalgic for a time in their lives before they got laid." - Dustin Rowles
Also released this week: Coopers' Christmas, RoboGeisha
Get entertainment, celebrity and politics updates via Facebook or Twitter. Buy Pajiba merch at the Pajiba Store.