Articles by Joe Marino

Naomi Watts and genuine earnestness catapults ‘The Impossible’

We’ve seen natural disasters on film before, but never like “The Impossible.” From the cast to the directing to the effects, this is one disaster drama that will stick with its audience for quite a while. Forget “Volcano” and “Twister,” This is a real disaster movie, one that somehow manages to be utterly crowd-pleasing while…

Michael Shannon turns “The Iceman” into intriguing tale

“Look at this guy,” Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta) mutters in something akin to wonder, as he aims a revolver right at the expressionless face of Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon). “As cold as ice.” We concur with that assessment. That cold, steely look is perhaps the most intriguing effect of “The Iceman.” In the earlier moments,…

‘The Place Beyond the Pines’: a searingly powerful drama

The right thing: that elusive concept that drives so many to compromise their values and make life-shattering choices. “The Place Beyond the Pines” is a film that studies that concept and its consequences. Director/writer Derek Cianfrance seamlessly creates an experience which is not merely an important drama, but a spellbinding piece of art. This is…

‘Moneyball’ an ambitious miscalculation

For a sports movie, “Moneyball” is a peculiar curiosity. Packed with the impressive creative power of Oscar-nominated director Bennett Miller (“Capote”) and Oscar-winning screenwriters Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”) and Steve Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”), the film tries to be unique by focusing on statistics rather than playing the game. It skips the climax we’re used…

Hemsworth soars in ‘Thor’

Considering how inherently cheesy Marvel Comics’ Thor is, he seemed to be the ultimate ‘unfilmable’ comic book character. Yet despite that fact, Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” brings this character to life as one of the best superhero films I’ve seen. “Thor” first takes place on Asgard, the Norse version of Olympus. Here lives the powerful alien…

Wes Craven makes audiences ‘Scream’ again

Any sequel worth its salt must prove itself by changing the game rather than regurgitating the same old mantra. As rare as it is for any sequel to succeed in this regard, it is even more rare for a fourth film – which is why it seems like most franchises are rebooted before they get…

Quality science fiction propels ‘Source Code’

Surely, there’s some genius thinking in director Duncan Jones’ “Source Code.” With a plot that combines “Groundhog’s Day” and “Adjustment Bureau,” the film is a deftly-made thriller that establishes a credible knowledge of great science fiction. The story chronicles the bizarre mission of Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), who we first meet on a Chicago…

Disturbing theme gives Zack Snyder film a deserving ‘Sucker Punch’

Film Review 'Sucker Punch'

‘Spider-Man’ Broadway musical loses long-time director

After nearly four months of critically planned performances and nine years of rigorous preparation, the Broadway rock musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” has lost its director Julie Taymor. The Tony-winning director officially left the production due to creative differences with the show’s longtime co-creators/lyricists U2’s Bono (The Edge) and has been replaced by a…

Oscars offer deserving results excluding ‘Inception’ and ‘Black Swan’

Surprisingly, the 83rd Academy Awards night held no sweep this year. “The King’s Speech” and “Inception” each won four Oscars, with Director Tom Hooper’s royal biopic taking home four of the bigger awards (with picture, director, actor and original screenplay) and Director Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending masterpiece taking the major technical awards (for visual effects, cinematography,…

Neeson’s ‘Unknown’ no match for ‘Taken’

“Unknown” isn’t so much a bad movie as it is a misguided one. No matter how hard he tries, director Jaume Collet-Serra (“Orphan”) just can’t recreate the simplistic gravitas of the 2008 Liam Neeson action vehicle “Taken.” The movie’s failing flaw? Not answering its own questions. Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) awakens from a coma…

“No Strings Attached:” Ashton Kutcher’s latest comedy offers comical peek into friends with benefits

Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy recaptures girl. That’s the all-too-familiar plot of romantic comedies, going back to the classic movies of actors like Cary Grant.  While Director Ivan Reitman’s “No Strings Attached” is typical of what you expected – it is a surprisingly entertaining comedy. “People aren’t meant to be together, together,” teen…

‘Due Date’ hilarious, yet sports unlikable characters

It seems like every comedy since last year has been compared in quality and laughs-per-minute to “The Hangover.” While it makes sense that the first movie to actually take that comparison head-on would come from both “The Hangover” director and one of its main actors, “Due Date” fails to be as memorable, as quotable, or…

‘Hereafter’ criminally bad despite its talent

Considering the group of people involved, “Hereafter” should be one of the year’s best movies.  Director Clint Eastwood is undoubtedly one of our greatest filmmakers today, having created cinematic and emotional masterpieces like “Mystic River” and “Million Dollar Baby.”  The screenplay is written by Oscar/Emmy-nominated Peter Morgan. His credits include some of the greatest political…

Best part of “Machete” is its star

Director/screenwriter Robert Rodriguez (the mastermind behind “Desperado” and “Sky Kids”) has made the film version of the now-infamous faux trailer “Machete.”  The trailer debuted in the Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino “Grindhouse” double feature. “Machete” is a return to form for Rodriguez in the best way possible, which includes a compelling and informative political plot. Machete (Danny Trejo)…

IRON MAN: Cast from the flames of Hollywood’s comic book factory to fame

Prior to 2008, no one outside the most die-hard fans would have recognized the name “Iron Man” aside from the song by Black Sabbath and the album by Ghostface Killah. Before then Iron Man was simply another obscure member of Marvel gallery alongside the Black Widow and Ant-Man. However, thanks to the charismatic Robert Downey…

Sandra Bullock’s request to take Razzie back has been approved

The day before she won the coveted Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in “The Blind Side,” Sandra Bullock also won another familiar award, a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress in “All About Steve.”  A Golden Raspberry Award is often referred to by the media as a Razzie.  Bullock was recently told by…

3-D Films: Are they the films of the future?

Last year, film audiences everywhere witnessed the beginning of the golden era of 3D cinema. Currently clocking in at a $2.7 billion worldwide gross, 2009’s sci-fi smash hit “Avatar” single-handedly proved to audiences and Hollywood itself that 3D films could be both popular and bankable. Since December of last year, there has been an exponential…

Our reviewers critique the latest Scorsese/DiCaprio film, ‘Shutter Island’

What was supposed to be Martin Scorsese’s newest masterpiece was nothing more than a predictable film with a B-list-esque storyline. “Shutter Island,” released on Feb. 19, seemed more like a compilation of the films “Gothika,” “The Green Mile” and the “Blue Lagoon” (minus the love story) than a candidate for the 2011 Academy Awards. However,…

‘Spider-Man 4’ scrapped, reboot in the works

Sony Pictures has recently dropped one of the superhero genre’s most lucrative film franchises, Spider-Man.  Sony Pictures officially announced on Jan. 11, that the studio was pulling out of its plans to make “Spider-Man 4,” along with firing most of the original cast and crew from the previous films. According to Sony, audiences will see…

‘The Box’ turns out square

The director and writer of “Donnie Darko,” Richard Kelly, didn’t live up to his own standards as he took on the challenge of the latest sci-fi thriller, “The Box.” The first third of the film seems to confirm that the audience is watching a very original suspense thriller that is based on easy-to-follow principles. That…

‘Vampire’s Assistant’ a bloody good time

Movies like “Twilight” have changed the perception of vampires to a more romantic style, but “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” took a much more refreshing approach. “The Vampire’s Assistant” revolves around an ordinary 16-year-old boy named Darren Shan (Chris Massoglia), who, when we first meet him, seems to be living a life that is…

Sky is the limit for ‘New York, I Love You’

Upcoming film looks to provides a fresh-style of film with plenty of A-list actors to bolster the box office
It seems like the glorious days of cinema have slowly begun to diminish, with only a handful of truly great films coming out every few years.  The upcoming romantic drama “New York, I Love You,” which will be widely-released on Oct. 16, is one of them.  A film that has been called  “great” by some…

‘The Soloist’ underperforms despite big names

Heading into the theatre as a huge fan of Robert Downey, Jr., Jamie Foxx and director Joe Wright, "The Soloist" was primed for a masterpiece. Unfortunately, the film was not the work of art most expected. It wasn’t a complete bomb or waste of time; however, it was less than pleasing.

Lopez discusses the making of ‘The Soloist’

Los Angeles Times journalist Steve Lopez is still in awe that Hollywood is telling his and Nathaniel Ayers’ story. “The Soloist,” scheduled for release on April 27, is the incredible true story of Lopez (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his most heartfelt column and book subject, Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx).