Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3
We donít do many movie reviews here at CrunchGear, mostly because weíre into gadgets and movies are, in a way, the anti-thesis of the physical. Semantics aside, Toy Story 3 was great.

The story is simple: Andy, the toysí owner, is leaving for college. His toys, resigning themselves to a life in the attic, prep themselves for the coming change but, instead of the must and heat of the rafters, they end up in a garbage truck. Only Woody is going with Andy to college, and when he sees his friends in danger he runs to save them.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Manís Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Manís Chest
AT first glance, it seems like a pretty good deal. You put down your money ó still less than $10 in most cities ó and in return you get two and a half hours of spirited swashbuckling, with an all-star three-way battle of the cheekbones (Orlando Bloom vs. Keira Knightley vs. Johnny Depp) and some extra-slimy computer-generated imagery thrown in at no additional cost.

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Dukes
In recent years, I have complained about the inability of movies to close strongly. Numerous films with promising beginnings and middles have fallen apart at the end. Thankfully, that's not the case with The Dukes, where a satisfying final half-hour redeems the mediocre 60 minutes that precede it. After starting with a lackluster introduction and a by-the-numbers heist sequence, the film concludes with an upbeat and appealing final act that recalls Big Night. And, in something of a surprise for a movie germinating from the pen and camera of perennial bad guy Robert Davi and starring Davi and Chazz Palmineteri, The Dukes has a big heart and no penchant for violence. The rating is a soft PG-13, making this entirely suitable for family viewing. Not since David Lynch went G has there been such an unlikely cinematic occurrence.

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21 Grams

21 Grams
21 Grams is a stunning kaleidoscope of a motion picture - a mosaic of images that gradually resolves itself into a powerful tale of tragedy and redemption. Not only is this one of the year's most compelling motion pictures, but, in terms of structure, it's also one of the most intriguing and unique. Not since Memento has a movie so successfully employed a non-linear chronology. The jigsaw puzzle approach used by director Alejandro González Iñárritu keeps us far more intrigued than a conventional vision of identical material would.

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5x2
5x2 is a departure for François Ozon, at least from his recent films. This is a simpler, more basic story than Swimming Pool or Under the Sand, and does not star either Charlotte Rampling or Ludivine Sagnier. Throughout his career, Ozon has delighted in switching genres and tones from film-to-film. He has done everything from dark, psychological thrillers to jaunty musicals. 5x2 takes him in yet another direction: the romantic drama. And it's another winner, at least for those who appreciate this sort of adult material and the unhurried pace applied by the director.

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Submarine

Submarine
Submarine arrives in the United States due in large part to the championing of Ben Stiller who, despite having only the briefest of cameos on-screen, leant his considerable star power to the film's marketing. It's one of those funny, charming coming-of-age stories that one might miss if making movie selections based on titles alone. This is not the sequel to Run Silent Run Deep or Das Boot. Instead, it's a deliciously amusing and sometimes surprisingly poignant look at the difficulties of being a 15-year old outsider whose chief goals in life are getting laid and making sure his parents don't split up. The setting is Wales during the mid-1980s, but the emotions and characters would be at home in any country in any year.

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Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

Mary Shelly's Frankenstein
"In the last 20, 30 years, [Frankenstein has] been claimed by a whole generation of academics and scholars as a seminal piece of literature of that time. [It's] something which now, post-Freud, they feel reveals so many observations about family life, and incest, father-and-son relationships, and husband and wife relationships. [Frankenstein] speaks loudly to people, partly because it's so elusive. There's no definitive interpretation of it - it's certainly more than just a monster story." - Kenneth Branagh, director of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

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Santa Clause

Santa Clause
This is what happens when someone takes what might have been a moderately-entertaining television Christmas special and tries to adapt it for the big screen. The Santa Clause isn't an unmitigated disaster, but it's also a whole lot less impressive than it could be. The release date -- six weeks in advance of the actual holiday -- should be reason enough for skepticism. Was this perhaps an attempt to beat John Hughes' Miracle on 34th Street to the theaters?

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Bug's Life

Bug's Life
It's almost a shame that A Bug's Life is debuting so close in the wake of Antz (although, to be fair, the latter film was the first to enter production). No matter when the Pixar/Disney production reached theaters, comparisons between the two computer-animated insect movies would be inevitable, but, with only seven weeks separating their openings, those comparisons will be more intense. Fortunately, A Bug's Life can withstand the scrutiny. Despite a number of similarities to Antz, there are enough variations in plot and tone to warrant another visit to the unique and wondrous world existing beneath the blades of grass.

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Landspeed

Landspeed
The times Hollywood has got any movie having anything to do with cars right are so few and far between that you barely need the fingers of your second hand to count them.

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Larry the Cable Guy: Git-R-Done

Larry the Cable Guy: Git-R-Done
Larry is a big city health inspector with questionable practices and his own way of doing things. Larry's boss, Bart Tatlock (Tom Wilson), in an attempt to acquire information on his activities in order to get him fired, assigns Larry a new partner, Amy Butlin (Iris Bahr), a by-the-book professional who takes the job seriously. She tries to learn the ropes of health inspection while putting up with Larry and his personality as well as getting the information Tatlock needs to get Larry fired.

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Strange Bedfellows

Strange Bedfellows
A struggling widower businessman finds a new tax loophole offered in Australia to same sex couples. Needing a tax break, he cajoles his best friend, also a widower, into filing papers indicating they are a gay couple living together and assuring him that the small town (population 652) they live in will never have a clue. However, their return letter from the government pops open and the town busybody soon has it spread all over town without the two mens knowledge. Meanwhile, the letter tells the men that a tax inspector will be coming to investigate their claim. The two decide they have to learn to act gay, so they get lessons from a local hair dresser and visit a gay nightclub in Sydney.

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Cataclysm aka The Nightmare Never Ends

Cataclysm aka The Nightmare Never Ends
Police detective, Mitchell, investigating the death of a victim of a Nazi concentration camp discovers a nightclubbing playboy who has strange powers over women and is seemingly ageless.

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Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
The story takes place on a Saturday in Anderson, a crime-infested ghetto in South Central Los Angeles. Members of a local gang, called 'Street Thunder', have recently stolen a large number of automatic rifles and pistols. The film begins the previous night, as a team of heavily armed LAPD officers ambush and kill several members of the gang. In the morning, the gang's warlords swear a blood oath of revenge, known as a "Cholo", against the police and the citizens of Los Angeles.

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Breathing Lessons

Breathing Lessons
A married couple review their lives and renew their love for one another while driving to a friends funeral.

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My Name Is Bruce

My Name Is Bruce
Four teenage kids from the tiny mining town of Gold Lick vandalize a nineteen-century cemetery of Chinese laborers when one of them disturbs a demon whos been guarding the souls of 100 workers killed in a cave-in. Jeff, the surviving teen, goes in search of his hero, over-the-hill B-movie star, Bruce Campbell. Jeff kidnaps the actor and brings him to Gold Lick to save the town. Bruce thinks its a birthday treat engineered by his agent, so he plays along, humoring the townsfolk and chatting up Jeffs unimpressed mom. Bodies pile up as the demon slashes. What will the sorry, boozy Bruce do when he realizes that Guan-Di, the demon, is for real?

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