If you are not in the mood for car chases, gun battles, nuclear threats or absurd premises, then I suggest you stay home and rent Silver Linings Playbook. When a Tom Cruise-driven, alien-invasion, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it extravaganza grosses $5 million opening weekend, you know there are some movies out there resetting the bar. So if you are craving salty snacks, an overpriced soda and some state-of-the-art computer-generated imaging, you won’t be disappointed…And, action!

Iron Man 3

OK, I have to say something here: The studio knew this movie was going to have a $70-million opening weekend. They knew when all was said and done, the film would gross more than $1 billion worldwide. They could put 90 minutes of Robert Downey Jr. playing Jenga by himself on the screen and it wouldn’t change that. Thankfully, everyone decided to close out the trilogy with a thought-provoking, action-packed movie that gives meaning to the term ending on a high note. Oh, and also going out with a bang!

Star Trek Into Darkness

Kirk, Spock, the crew. Good against evil, humanity against ruthlessness, heart and mind against…heartlessness and mindlessness. I think you see where I’m going here. It’s the same Star Trek from the ‘70s minus the cardboard boulders and plus some incredible special effects.


A CIA operative is targeted for assassination—I sometimes wonder why people work there, they seem to have a terrible severance plan—and must go on the run with his young daughter. Sound familiar? That’s because even discounting period pieces like Road to Perdition and wrong-place/wrong-time targets like in Enemy of the State, there have been at least 37 movies with this premise, plot and outcome. Aaron Eckhart seems to have more interest in being a leading man than being in a good film.


I don’t know what it is. I honestly don’t. Maybe Tom Cruise has worn out his welcome with movie-goers. Maybe we’ve seen the Brooklyn and Golden Gate bridges destroyed one too many times. Maybe the odd combination of journey of self-discovery and mission to save the planet makes people want to put a lamp through the dry wall. Whatever the reason, this nihilistic sci-fi adventure is not striking a chord.

Pain & Gain

Everything about this movie sounds absurd. The only thing that stopped my head-scratching about why it didn’t go straight to DVD was Mark Wahlberg. Sure, his Academy Award-nominee status may be pushing it, but the guy picks good movies. Here again, a group of hunky personal trainers hatches a plan to live the American dream, and it’s in their sights when everything goes wrong.

There you have it. But if you’re in the mood for a slightly less high-impact evening, I suggest you venture over to your nearest art house cinema and take in The Place Beyond the Pines, The Company You Keep or Renoir. The slow pace, talented casts and layered and engaging plots will have you wondering if it’s Oscar season.

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