The Lone Ranger (December 17 — Rental, January 14)

Armie Hammer and the whole cast and production team on The Lone Ranger can bemoan American critics for supposedly “ganging up” on their movie and causing its financial failure but in the end it won’t change the fact that their movie was almost complete shit and they failed to ask themselves two important questions before shooting: besides Johnny Depp fanatics, who is going to rush out to see this movie and why should we keep funneling more money into it?

Another in long line of epic bombs for Disney, it’s not hard to see why The Lone Ranger under-performed so immensely. All the original fans of the character are likely pushing 80 years old and even if they made the trek out to the theater, I can’t imagine they would enjoy the tonal whiplash of the shenanigans that take place over two and a half hours. In the movie’s defense, the opening and closing 15 minutes are fairly entertaining on their own, as is Hans Zimmer’s score, but not enough to excuse the two hour cacophony the comprises the middle.

Get ready to use the fast forward button

Pacific Rim (October 15 — Rental, November 12)
Giant robots fighting giant monsters? Check. Characters that are cartoony-er than the giant mechs they inhabit? Check. The perfect summer movie? Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here.

What Pacific Rim is is good fun. Not an exceptional movie by any means but a movie that has its heart in the right place. Director Guillermo Del Toro’s enthusiasm for the project is completely admirable. He’s simply out to make a respectful homage to the kaiju genre in Japanese lore that’s as entertaining as it can be. In spite of a bloated runtime, some underused main characters and frustratingly obstructed battles between the titans, he still succeeds.

Del Toro is a kid in a candy store with Pacific Rim and imbues the so-so script with a mega dose of breathtaking excitement and appropriate humor, so much so that the movie overcomes itself and becomes a solid two hours and twenty minutes of fun that will no doubt look and sound spectacular in high def.

Rent it! 

The Conjuring (October 22 — Rental, November 19)
Thematically, The Conjuring isn’t breaking a whole lot of new ground in the horror genre. However, there’s something to be said for familiar things that are made very well.

That is truly where The Conjuring excels. Virtually all horror tropes are on display here, including creepy dolls, old houses, haunted items, witchcraft curses, gnarled trees, possession, and the go-to uniform for a haunting — the white nightgown. It’s how all these elements come together that is so masterful.

James Wan delivers what is quite possibly his best film — a tense, haunting feature full of thick atmosphere, rising malice, genuine performances and expertly filmed segments that make for a film that burns itself into memory. Not only is this a new classic to revisit around Halloween time, it’s as close as we have come lately to a new horror classic, period.

Must own!

The Wolverine (December 3 — Rental, December 31)

It’s a shame this movie even needed to be made but thank goodness it was.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is far from the solo outing the mega-mutant needed in the first place (and further from an acceptable movie, at that) but now we’ve got the final puzzle piece we need to forget it completely. That piece is a flick that delivers both the madcap X-Men action we’ve come to expect and a more realized, restrained look at Wolverine that reminds us why we’re so fascinated with the character to begin with.

The Wolverine does more than enough right. Hugh Jackman is given another chance to excel as Logan/Wolverine, which he graciously delivers on. The script, while uneven in sections, has a truer core to it, especially when it comes to a wounded Logan learning his place in the world after tragedy befalls him. The action set pieces are on par with the grittier aspects people expect with the character and with a complication that robs Logan of his healing factor, every blow matters so much more.

It’s only in the third act, like so many other action blockbusters this summer, that the action gets too ridiculous for it’s own good. Snake women hiss venom while giant samurai robots leap about with fire-swords and all of it clashes with what came before.

And yet, all the ridiculousness is never dull and only detaches from the rest briefly. Otherwise, the film is a highly satisfying look at Wolverine that sets the stage for a new look at the X-Men universe. It remains to be seen what the confirmed director’s cut will bring to the table (more blood = correct answer) but we can rest easy knowing The Wolverine isn’t in dire need of it to become a good movie.

Must own!

The Rest:

Despicable Me 2 (December 10 — Rental, January 7)

Grown Ups 2 (November 5)

RED 2 (November 26)

R.I.P.D. (October 29 — Rental, November 26)

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