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The Last Airbender

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Dev Patel, Shaun Toub, Aasif Mandvi, Cliff Curtis

10


The Last Airbender
Paramount


Every time we think M. Night Shyamalan can’t get any worse, he proves us wrong. After The Happening demonstrated how bad a big-budget horror movie can be, Shyamalan apparently set out to do the same with the summer action spectacle. He took a popular, beloved cartoon series (Avatar: The Last Airbender) and created a simultaneously reverent and tone-deaf live-action adaptation. The Indian-American director incited controversy by using Caucasian actors in the three lead roles while leaving nearly the entire rest of the cast to actors of Asian and Inuit descent. Then he attempted to compress roughly 10 hours of story into a two-hour movie mostly by having the characters stand around reciting piles of exposition. And since this is a Shyamalan production, he managed to coax stiff, wooden performances out of all his actors, leading to the year’s most overblown snoozefest. Chris Conaton


 

 



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Leap Year

Director: Anand Tucker
Cast: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Kaitlin Olson, Adam Scott, John Lithgow
Review [8.Jan.2010]

9


Leap Year
Universal


When it comes to romantic comedies, some moviegoers need only the basics: a meet-cute, a handful of embarrassing episodes, a half-hearted reversal before the inevitable third-act climax where the unlikely lovers are united (preferably at a wedding that only one of them was invited to). Leap Year accomplishes the impressive feat of not successfully handling any of those genre basics. Also, while it’s at it, this egregiously painful piece of work -– the kind of thing that makes you think, They should be paying us to sit here –- manages to squeeze not a single decent chuckle out of stars Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, two of the more charming actors working today. There’s a plot here, something about a woman’s misguided attempt to propose to her fiancée in Ireland, only to fall for a grumpy hotelier / cabbie (don’t ask), but the less remembered about this film, the better. Chris Barsanti


 

 



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Valentine’s Day

Director: Gary Marshall
Cast: Julia Roberts, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Kathy Bates, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Alex Williams

8


Valentine’s Day
Warner Brothers


Cliché-ridden and bursting with C level star power, Gary Marshall’s latest rom-com comes up short in both its genres. Real romance is nowhere to be found, and the comedic elements are laughable instead of laugh-worthy. The film made more than half its $110 million U.S. haul by blatantly pandering to lazy couples on Valentine’s Day weekend, but the film only delivered a good excuse to make out and miss the movie. Even the best stories in Valentine’s Day (and these are still mediocre) leave a bad taste in your mouth by the time their prolonged narratives sum up. Will they stay together past Feb. 14? Is he gay? Who is Julia Roberts visiting, and why is she in this movie? These are the pointless questions you’re forced to think about for a butt-numbing 125 minutes, but all Valentine’s Day leaves you with is a chronic case of mental soreness. Ben Travers


 

 



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Killers

Director: Robert Luketic
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Tom Selleck, Catherine O’Hara

7


Killers
Lionsgate


Devoid of suspense or laughs, this action-comedy, doesn’t do its two leads, Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, any favors. In a tired attempt to bring together comedy and thrills, the viewer is left contemplating how such beautiful international locations, could be so, well, boring. It is a genuine shame. Both stars are charismatic figures loved by the camera. Especially Kutcher, who recently sparkled in David Mackenzie’s overlooked 2009 drama, Spread, which saw the actor in his best role yet as an American gigolo. Unfortunately, neither star glimmers much here. With little chemistry between the pair, or a narrative crutch to lean on, Killers leads both its stars to a most resounding flop. Omar Kholeif


 

 



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Splice

Director: Vincenzo Natali
Cast: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac

6


Splice
Warner Brothers


Bearing the dubious distinction of being a bad “B” horror movie prancing about in A-list clothes, Splice taps the collapsed vein of sci-fi / horror cautionary tales that warn of the disaster that awaits those who choose to “play God.”  In this instance, two DNA-splicing scientists and lovers, Clive and Elsa (played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley, respectively) are held up as a prime example when they merge their DNA with that of other creatures from the animal kingdom to create a new species.  Splice becomes even more laughable when Clive and Elsa effectively chuck their Linus Pauling textbooks out the window in exchange for the complete works of Dr. Spock and T. Berry Brazelton, doting on the creature and turning a blind eye when (s)he becomes murderous. As if dangerously entwining emotion with science wasn’t bad enough, things take a further ludicrous turn when the creature matures and its creators engage in pseudo-incestuous relations with it.  The result is more schlock than shock.  Lana Cooper


 
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