Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: “I can’t think of a thing to say except that I hated it, but that’s because I’m not a slightly brain-damaged 11-year-old. Battle of the Smithsonian was a silly, gleefully brainless reproduction of the first movie with a few extra faces thrown into the mix to give it the illusion that it’s different from the original. And yet I suspect it’s precisely what director Shawn Levy envisioned. He and writers Rob Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon executed the exact film they wanted to make. It’s not a failure of competence. There’s certainly not a lack of talent involved. And it’s not poorly done. They were aiming this at a crowd of adolescents who require nothing more than bland, inoffensive shininess to preoccupy them for 105 minutes. And that’s what they achieved.” - Dustin Rowles
Paper Heart: “Conceptually, the idea is Charlyne Yi and her pal/director Nick are going around doing interviews for a documentary about love. The premise is that Charlyne doesn’t believe in love, so she goes around the country talking to all manner of folks about what love means to them. It’s the farthest thing from a mockumentary, because even though Yi’s a comedian and supposedly has no belief or faith in the concept she’s doing an interview on, she still respects her subjects and allows them to tell their stories. It’s far more effective than having some cynical douchebag spout the statistics on the divorce rate, then finding the shittiest, craziest assholes available so he can make snide comments about them while pining for a transvestite conservative, right, Bill Maher? Yi even interviews a divorcee, a divorce judge married to a family court lawyer, and biologists and chemists trying to get them to break it down into biochemical processes and how awful love and marriage can be. But what comes out of it are really sweet love stories. Now sure, the entire point of the movie is that Charlyne secretly does believe in love, so maybe that’s the direction we’re supposed to go. It’s like Borat, but this time the dangerous rednecks are talking about how they fell in love.” - Brian Prisco
Terminator Salvation: “The point is that with Terminator Salvation, director McG has inherited a troubled franchise that wants to offer success in the human battle against the machines but not so much that the entire future might be safe for long (which given the machines’ eventual ability to travel through time, which is how this whole mess got started, is pretty much a lock). As such, he constructs his film around the exploits and leadership of John Connor — now played by Christian Bale — using the de facto leader of the human resistance as the film’s emotional and narrative anchor. But McG and the screenwriting team of John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris fail to bring anything new to the mythology, and their John Connor winds up being the flattest imagining of the character to date. His motivation is ported over from the other films, and though McG can coast a while on some admittedly dazzling action sequences, the film lacks the spark of inventiveness that made the first two films rightful sci-fi classics of the late 20th century. McG tries to make a movie about a man, but he just creates another machine.” - Daniel Carlson
Intern Rusty is a Masters student at the University of Miami. You can learn more about her at Rusty’s Ventures.