We've introduced Open Forum over the past few weeks to help share the wealth of opinions that our staff has about the latest releases (after all, we tend to go by Highlander rules when it comes to our theatrical reviews -- THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE). Of course, we want you to chime in as well, because we don't limit our comments to one. That'd just be silly, and we're never silly here at Cinematical.
So, for starters, let's hear some thoughts on...
Shrek Forever After: The Final Chapter -- Money Never Sleeps 3D
"Closes out the Shrek franchise (we hope) on a surprisingly strong note. Minimizing the stale pop-culture jokes and gags that made the previous entries barely tolerable, Shrek Forever After takes the title character on an emotional journey to rediscover the important things in life. Schmaltzy? Yes, but also surprisingly heartfelt and, better yet, unironic." --Mel Valentin
"At 99 minutes, including credits and a superfluous tag, this big-screen adaptation (or is it expansion?) of the semi-popular "Saturday Night Live" skit, is by any estimation, 95 and ½ minutes too long. An over-reliance on crude humor, lackluster sight gags, and unimaginative profanity make MacGruber a total must-miss at multiplexes this weekend." --Mel Valentin
"Here's an unqualified recommendation: See this movie. The basic premise may sound deceptively limited: three young people, aged 11, 12, and 13, pursue a national championship title in go-kart racing. Yet Racing Dreams is an amazingly good film that feels honest and soul-searching, even as it proves to be altogether entertaining, and it's hard not to get caught up emotionally with the young drivers and their families, to wonder where they will go after the finish line." --Peter Martin
"Or, as I like to call it: Robin Hood: Thief of Time. The production values are terrific, the period details are fascinating, and the performances are sturdy and occasionally illuminating (e.g. Max Von Sydow's spirited blind man). The sum total, though, adds up to less than the parts, and the earnestness of the intent bludgeons and muddies the spirit. It's all rather exhausting." --Peter Martin
"Takes a different approach to the Robin Hood legend, offering an origin story that departs heavily from the Robin Hood character we know and love (i.e., Errol Flynn's). Borrowing elements from Braveheart, Gladiator, and Kingdom of Heaven, director Ridley Scott mixes political intrigue, a refreshingly adult romance, and expertly staged action scenes into a period action film that never ceases to engage or entertain." --Mel Valentin
"After so many negative reviews, I really expected to hate Robin Hood. But I liked it. Yes, I wanted to see Sherwood Forest and the Merry Men, and I wish the film hadn't ended there. But I thought it was a fresh take on the material, with lots of neat tweaks to the story. ... The history nerd in me loves that they actually showed straw covered floors, and Robin sleeping with wolfhounds. Each generation does something different with the legend, and I think Ridley Scott's version should be taken in that spirit. That said, I hope we get a sequel. I'd love to see Robin battle with Matthew MacFadyen's huffy sheriff. The possibilities there are too good to leave unused. " --Elisabeth Rappe
"It is said that suspense evolves from knowing more than the characters do. But what is it called when we know more about our hero's story than he does? At one point when Robin is turned into a baggage of repressed memories, we should not be surprised if he was once a child in a pre-school with a kindly gardener who lived in the basement and made finger knives. Robin Hood's past could be anything. It is based primarily on folklore and not anything taught in a history class, so what difference does an ultra-serious breakdown of the man behind the myth make especially when Ridley Scott's take never really gets under his skin? It might seem like repetition at this junction, but the point is never more clear than after Robin Hood." --Erik Childress