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Article: 2013: The Year in Reviews

2013 was a year of cinematic trauma and stress, full of harrowing, at times also exhilarating, survival stories, many on the abyss of the sea or even the void of space.   Read more >

Review: Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

B+ | *** | +1| Teens & Up

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. That’s almost enough to sell the picture by itself, isn’t it? Who but Hanks can one imagine in the role?   Read more >

Article: Exorcism in the Movies

In a way, The Exorcist is a pivotal film — the indispensable link between the Catholic-inflected piety of Golden Age Hollywood and the demonic world of latter-day horror.   Read more >

Post: Black Nativity [video] (2013)

B+ | Kids & Up*

Of the 2013 Christmas season’s trio of religiously inflected Christmas movies, this one just might be the most deserving of your time.   Read more >

Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

C | **½ | -2| Teens & Up

Now, two installments into the epically epic trilogification of Tolkien’s slender fairy tale for children, it seems Jackson and company have only one abiding goal: to keep one-upping themselves with ever more preposterous action sequences, nastier violence and more inappropriate humor.   Read more >

Post: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [video]

I appreciated the first Hunger Games movie, but wasn’t eager to watch it again at the time. The sequel has me wanting to watch the first film again — in a good way.   Read more >

Article: The Virgin Mary at the Movies

Mary of Nazareth, now touring North America in isolated screenings hosted by Ignatius Press, is the latest in a number of Gospel films over the last couple of decades focusing in a special way on the role of the Blessed Virgin in the Gospel story.   Read more >

Review: Frozen (2013)

C+ | **½ | +1-1| Kids & Up

Frozen may be the most tragic fairy tale in the Disney canon, which is saying something.   Read more >

Post: Frozen [video]

Compared to Disney’s last (and only other) computer-animated fairy tale, Tangled, Frozen has twice the princesses, twice the hunky love interests, twice the domesticated anthropomorphic ungulates … but not a fraction of the humanity.   Read more >

Post: Thor: The Dark World [video]

Is Loki a villain or an antihero? Either way, the fan favorite is basically the Marvel Universe’s answer to Catwoman, but he can’t carry the movie if he isn’t the main antagonist.   Read more >

Post: Ender’s Game [video]

Orson Scott Card’s classic sci-fi tale emerges from a decade of development hell with its themes and story maybe 50 percent intact — which doesn’t make it a bad film.   Read more >

Post: On the Air: Catholic Answers Live, 10/18/2013

This evening, Friday, October 18, I'll be appearing on the first hour of “Catholic Answers Live” (6pm–7pm EDT).   Read more >

Review: 12 Years a Slave (2013)

A | **** | +3-1| Adults*

What if I were to tell you that there has never until now been a major historical motion picture about the slave experience in America? Could that possibly be true?   Read more >

Article: The Untold Story of Slavery? Why 12 Years a Slave is Essential

The award-winning film 12 Years a Slave, now in theaters, isn’t just an astonishing film about an important subject. It’s also a rare and valuable film of a kind I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before.   Read more >

Post: Gravity [video]

Sandra Bullock shines in Alfonso Cuarón’s mesmerizing action thriller in space, a rare Hollywood spectacle with a touch of spiritual awareness.   Read more >

Review: Gravity (2013)

A- | ***½ | +2| Teens & Up*

Gorgeous, nerve-racking, literally awesome, Gravity takes us to a world much nearer in both time and space than Duncan Jones’ Moon; nearer even than the layer of satellites that our mobile phones and GPS devices talk to every day: only about 350 miles away, in the low Earth orbit of the Hubble Space Telescope. Roughly the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco — but oh, that’s far enough.   Read more >

Post: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 [video]

Part of me kind of wishes they had kept the original title Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2: my 60-second “Reel Faith” review.   Read more >

Post: The Wizard of Oz [video]

Digitally remastered from the original negatives, painstakingly restored, The Wizard of Oz celebrates its 75th anniversary in style. Here’s my “Reel Faith” 60-second tribute to this beloved classic.   Read more >

Article: Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz Turns 75

So many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side? What was Kermit talking about? There’s only one song like that … and one movie that embodies the childhood magic Jim Henson wanted to evoke.   Read more >

Article: The Summer’s Best-Kept Secret: From Up on Poppy Hill

Co-written by Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyzaki and directed by his son Goro Miyazaki (Tales From Earthsea), From Up on Poppy Hill is a gently naturalistic departure from the high-flying fantasy for which the studio is best known.   Read more >

Article: So Long! Farewell!

I enjoyed reviewing movies this summer far more than I enjoyed the movies themselves — and perhaps my readers enjoyed the reviews more than the movies as well.   Read more >

Post: Elysium [video]

The director of District 9 is back … with a bigger budget and name stars.   Read more >

Post: Planes [video]

It may be Pixar Ultra-Lite, but Disney’s Planes is a pleasant change of pace from the likes of The Croods and Turbo.   Read more >

Review: Planes (2013)

B | *** | +2| Kids & Up

Both the big race and international flavor recall Cars 2 as well as DreamWorks’ Turbo, the protagonist of which had the same personal crisis as Dusty, a longing for speed he wasn’t built for. Yet Planes, in its modest way, cannily avoids the pitfalls that made those films unsatisfying.   Read more >

Article: Big Brother on the Big Screen: Hollywood, Surveillance and the NSA

Have Hollywood movies been softening us up for NSA-style surveillance?   Read more >

Post: 2 Guns [video]

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are two great tastes that taste great together. So why did this film leave a sour taste in my mouth? 2 Guns: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.   Read more >

Post: The Wolverine [video]

He’s the best there is at what he does, but what he does isn’t very nice. The Wolverine: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.   Read more >

Review: The Wolverine (2013)

B+ | *** | +1-1| Teens & Up*

It’s not a great film, but it’s a pretty good one. This year, that’s enough to make The Wolverine not only the season’s best superhero film, but arguably its best popcorn action movie: a gingery palate cleanser in a summer of overcooked Big Macs.   Read more >

Post: Fruitvale Station [video]

Oscar Grant just might be the most memorable character I’ve encountered on the big screen this year. Fruitvale Station: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.   Read more >

Post: The Conjuring [video]

Thirty years after The Exorcist, when it comes to fighting the powers of hell, the Catholic Church still has the heavy artillery, as Roger Ebert once wrote. The Conjuring: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.   Read more >

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