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Articles by Derek Austin Johnson

MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Messy, way too long, and with far too many missteps and misguided elements, Nolan’s final chapter in the rebooted Batman franchise still remains watchable [...]

July 20, 2012 // 14 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Marc Webb’s updating of Spider-Man’s origin story looks good but feels flat and, ultimately, too familiar. MY RATING: BRIEF SYNOPSIS: High school student [...]

July 3, 2012 // 3 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Brave (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Beautifully shot, as one would expect from Pixar, but only intermittently engaging and sputters badly as it moves toward its climax. MY RATING: BRIEF [...]

June 23, 2012 // 4 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY: A touching romantic comedy supported by a great cast, Derek Connolly’s smart script, and Colin Trevorrow’s understated direction. MY RATING: BRIEF [...]

June 15, 2012 // 1 Comment

MOVIE REVIEW: Prometheus (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Ridley Scott returns to science fiction with a lifeless, derivative prequel to one of his most famous movies. MY RATING: BRIEF SYNOPSIS: After finding [...]

June 8, 2012 // 35 Comments


REVIEW SUMMARY: Occasionally clever touches and a strong turn by Josh Brolin as a young Agent K cannot hide the listlessness of the third entry in a series that should have [...]

May 25, 2012 // 5 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Dark Shadows (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Despite good casting and one or two promising scenes, Burton’s sendup of the classic supernatural soap opera only manages to be an incoherent mess. MY [...]

May 11, 2012 // 1 Comment

MOVIE REVIEW: Wrath of the Titans (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY:  Witless sequel to 2010’s Clash of the Titans that plays fast and loose with Greek mythology and internal logic. RATING: BRIEF SYNOPSIS:  Hades bleeds [...]

March 30, 2012 // 6 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: The Hunger Games (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY: By turns pedestrian and pretentious, Gary Ross’s adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s young adult novel still delivers a good deal of suspense and a remarkable [...]

March 23, 2012 // 7 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: John Carter (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Often visually striking, occasionally breathtaking, yet too long and uninvolving, John Carter often remains too reverent to the source material to be fully [...]

March 9, 2012 // 14 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: The Woman in Black (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY:  Daniel Radcliffe’s first non-Potter movie is a listless, lifeless ghost story adapted from Susan Hill’s evocative novel. MY RATING:  BRIEF SYNOPSIS: [...]

February 7, 2012 // 2 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Chronicle (2012)

REVIEW SUMMARY:  A “found footage” superhero movie that shows a good deal of craft, skill, and intellectual and emotional honesty. RATING: BRIEF SYNOPSIS: After [...]

February 6, 2012 // 2 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

The challenge this time comes in keeping Holmes's restlessness from bleeding over into the picture's other aspects, something that director Guy Ritchie managed to rein in well in the first movie but allows infecting here. It's a mistake. Part of what made Sherlock Holmes work so well was allowing the character's bohemian energy, so anathema to the period, and so often absent of even the best filmic interpretations, to run amok in the staid London streets. But when mania overtakes those streets in the wake of "anarchist" bombings, it dampens Holmes's eccentricities. [...]

December 16, 2011 // 4 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: The Thing (2011)

Like the Thing itself, The Thing merely absorbed its predecessor to make a simulacrum of a movie, but is never a movie itself. It has the right apparatus, but possesses nothing vital or human. And lays in wait for its audience... [...]

October 14, 2011 // 4 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Fright Night (2011)

Not much unexpected happens in Fright Night, director Craig Gillespie's remake of the dubious 1985 classic. The only real surprise in its 106-minute running time (identical to the original) comes in its quality; while far more horror movies of its vintage promise greater remake potential, Fright Night pulls off the feat of being far more entertaining than this critic anticipated, and far better than most remakes released in the past two or three years (The Crazies, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Last House on the Left, and Rob Zombie's execrable Halloween). [...]

August 19, 2011 // 3 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011)

What a long...well, long trip it's been. Ten years after Warner Brothers took the chance of filming all seven of J.K. Rowling's fantasy novels to encompass a complete unified series, complete with the same cast (save one, Richard Harris as Dumbledore, who died after filming Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and much of the same crew (screenwriter Steven Kloves has penned seven of the films; Peter Yates has directed four), it finally draws to a close with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. That it has managed to maintain such a tight focus on its vision, to say nothing of a relatively consistent level of quality, over its decade-long run demands no small amount of admiration, if not exactly respect. [...]

July 15, 2011 // 5 Comments

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