FROM MTV MOVIES: As even Michael Bay has admitted, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" had almost nowhere to go but up after the writers' strike-affected, audience-alienating previous installment.
And insofar as Bay and company had something to prove — and to improve — this time around, they've succeeded. While "Dark of the Moon" isn't currently the highest rated film in the franchise, according to the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator, the general consensus among critics is that the new 3-D flick is best of the "Transformers" bunch.
That's not to suggest reviews have been universally positive; many have been as brutal to the film as the film's robots have been to certain American cities. Reviewers have taken issue with poor plotting, weak characters and brain-scrambling action set pieces. But then there are a slew of reviewers utterly onboard with what Bay has created, celebrating some of the finest 3-D visuals since "Avatar" and a story that is the most fully fleshed out of the series. For those opinions and others, take a deep dive into the "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" reviews.
"A sweet prologue (marred only by a phony-looking digital JFK) recounts the war for Cybertron and the real reason behind the U.S.-Soviet space race of the 1960s. Cut to the present where Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) struggles to find his first post-college job, while the Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the U.S. military's NEST team led by Lt. Col. Lennox (Josh Duhamel) work in tandem to take out the remaining Decepticons around the world. However, the evil 'bots eventually get the upper hand and begin an invasion to conquer the Earth with Chicago as Ground Zero in this final war between the Autobots/humans and Decepticons. There's more going on, but for the sake of spoilers we'll keep it at that. Transformers: Dark of the Moon definitely has more of a plot than either of its predecessors. There are genuine stakes this time." — Jim Vejvoda, IGN
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Title: "Fire And Blood"
Story: Winter has finally arrived. Picking up immediately from where "Baelor" left off, "Fire and Blood" delivered everything that "Game of Thrones" excels at: political intrigue, a great leap forward on the battlefront, and even the first sincere fantasy outing of the series.
And then there were the dragons.
In the season finale, Dany makes some bold new steps as Khaleesi, Jon Snow takes a long, hard look at his role as a man of the Night's Watch, and Robb Stark becomes the King of the North. Oh, and Sansa and Catelyn actually show some spunk, and Arya is suddenly... a boy?
Episode Title: "Baelor"
Story: Big moves are afoot in Westeros and across the Narrow Sea. Robb Stark and his mother Catelyn have to barter with Walder Frey to cross the Trident and continue their march towards the Lannisters, but the cost is more than they bargained for. Khal Drogo's wound suffered in last week's "The Pointy End" begins to fester, and Dany seeks out blood magic to save his life.
Ned Stark, meanwhile, opens up to the idea of declaring himself a traitor against Robert Baratheon to spare his family, but getting off the hook easy isn't what the new King Joffrey has in mind. And as we warned you last night -- SPOILERS ahead!
So… that happened.
Unless you've already read the novels that HBO's "Game of Thrones" is based upon, I'm guessing that a whole bunch of you are rivaling Justin Bieber for Best Jaw-Dropping Moment right now. But pick those jaws up off the floor, folks — it happened. And, believe it or not, it's going to be okay.
If you haven't seen the most recent episode of "Game of Thrones," let me warn you now — watch it before reading the rest of this post, unless you want to ruin the biggest twist of the season for yourself. One last time, louder and clearer now: MAJOR SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. You have been warned.
"Super 8" isn't a perfect movie -- really, no movie is -- but for my money, it's pretty darn close. J.J. Abrams has lovingly crafted the exact kind of summer blockbuster you wish you could see more often these days : plenty of action, one hell of a train crash (trust me, the trailers and commercials don't do the real disaster justice), and a whole lot of heart.
There's a lot of mystery surrounding the new Amblin Entertainment movie, yes, so I'll do my best not to spoil any of the big surprises for you. But for now, I don't think it's spoiling anything to say this: cheesy as it sounds, "Super 8" really is (wait for it) super great. Check out five reasons you need to see this movie past the jump.
Episode Title: "You Win Or You Die"
Story: After attacking Ned Stark and killing his men, Jaime Lannister has fled King's Landing for Casterly Rock, the home of his father, Tywin Lannister, who gives him a lesson in getting the job done. Things aren't going very well for his sister Cersei in King's Landing, though, once Ned confronts her about her relationship with her brother. But the situation is even graver for King Robert, who comes back from his hunt with more slaughtered meat than he bargained for -- a grim reality that leaves Ned with some difficult choices to make.
Across the Narrow Sea, Khal Drogo finds himself compelled to win the Iron Throne of Westeros for his wife Daenerys. Up north at the Wall, Jon Snow frets over his uncle's delayed return as well as his disappointing new assignment for the Night's Watch -- until his portly pal Samwell points out a significant silver lining.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. What happens in Bangkok, however… well, all bets are off.
"The Hangover Part II" hit theaters this week and is already on track for a monstrously successful Memorial Day weekend. But put the commercial victory on the back-burner for a moment… how does it stack up creatively? Is Todd Phillips' second voyage with the ill-fated wolf-pack worth your hard-earned ticket money?
Well, that depends upon who you are and what you thought of the first "Hangover" movie — but for my money, I can think of at least five reasons you'll want to see this latest outing. Check 'em out after the jump.
FROM MTV MOVIES: By this point, if anyone is still doubting whether "The Hangover Part II" will be a massive worldwide hit, Wednesday's midnight screenings should quiet skeptics. Warner Bros. announced that the follow-up to 2009's record-smashing hit roped in $10.4 million in those early showings, setting a new midnight opening record for an R-rated film on its way to what many are predicting will become a $125 million opening over the five-day holiday weekend.
All this box-office talk gets even more impressive when you note reviews for the film have been decidedly mixed. While the first "Hangover" won over both critics and moviegoers, the sequel is currently languishing at just a 31 percent approval at the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator. Critics have pointed out how the second film follows the plot points of the original far too closely. They've also argued that the sequel simply isn't as funny as the first. Other reviews, however, are still getting a kick out of watching the Wolf Pack flail and fail all over again, similarities are not. Read on for a deep dive into the "Hangover Part II" reviews:
"'The Hangover Part II' opts for the most popular cure: the hair of the dog that bit it. In other words, the sequel is almost identical to the first 'Hangover.' This time, dweeby Stu (Ed Helms), slick Phil (Bradley Cooper) and attention sponge Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are at a wedding (Stu's) in Thailand, instead of Las Vegas, but the rest is pretty much the same. The movie starts with the three waking up after a night of debauchery, with one of their pals missing, with a threatening crook on their tails and with vague knowledge of peccadilloes both sexual and chemical. Oh, and Mike Tyson is tangentially involved (Stu has a facial tattoo just like the former champ's). They spend the rest of the movie trying to make it to the wedding while piecing together clues to what happened the previous night and searching desperately for their missing bud." — Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press
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"Toy Story 3" gets the awards-season glory, "Shrek" stands as the most successful animated series of all-time, but I confess one of my favorite CGI flicks of the last several years remains 2008's "Kung Fu Panda." Even when I catch snippets on TV, Jack Black's wild, panda abandon never gets old. The fight sequences manage to be both creative and LOL-inducing. And, as my 10-year-old cousin can attest, there's a potent moral hidden within that's a bit cheesy but also super truthful.
But in breaking down a film into a cinematic laundry list, we shouldn't miss the overall point: as a whole, "Kung Fu Panda" is just so much darn fun. And that's exactly what the sequel is too: a blast. Here are five reasons why you need to check out "Kung Fu Panda 2."
Episode Title: "A Golden Crown"
Story: Ned's consolation prize for being attacked by the queen's brother, the so-called Kingslayer Jaime Lannister, is being reinstated as the King's Hand by Robert Baratheon, who just wants to go hunting and not deal with matters of state. But Ned knows that King's Landing is not safe for him, and tells his daughters Sansa and Arya that they must go south. It is only then that he uncovers the secret that the former King's Hand died to keep from telling...
In the Eyrie, Tyrion Lannister fights to save his life from his captors, Catelyn Stark and her sister Lysa Arryn, in a manner of speaking. Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen must juggle issues with her increasingly delusional brother Viserys and the coming of her powerful son who is growing inside of her.