Men In Black 3 ★★★ 1/2
With a story that was literally made up while the film was being shot, it's almost shocking that Men In Black 3 is even coherent. But while the film's time-travel story may have some plot holes, it's got a lot of spirit and a great sense of fun. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones bring back their usual bickery chemistry, and Smith jumps back in time to hang out with Josh Brolin's delightful portrayal of a younger Jones. Perfect.
Who knew Jack Black could play against type? Black digs deep to portray real-life character Bernie Tiede, who became a beloved figure in a small Texas town–even after he committed murder. Although the effeminate and well-mannered character could easily lapse into parody, Black and director Linklater treat him with respect, allowing the story's black comedy to play out on its own.
The marketability of a Transformers movie is obvious; every kid wants an Optimus Prime after seeing the film. But what kid will want the classic Battleship strategy game after seeing this Navy-versus-aliens mess, let alone realize the two are related? Hasbro's toy-to-film deal with Universal peters out hardcore here, as charismatic star Taylor Kitsch tries and fails to add some personality to two hours of shit blowing up at sea.
What To Expect When You're Expecting ★★ 1/2
All this film shares with the classic book that is its namesake is, well, the name. And the fact that it's about pregnancy. The flick ties together five loosely related storylines about couples who all have a kid on the way. Although none of the stories are that bad, they are pretty bland, brightened here and there by a couple of cast members. In a small role, Chris Rock is the funniest (and, ironically, most underused) element of the film.
Dark Shadows ★★ 1/2
Unsurprisingly, Johnny Depp gives a committed, fun performance as vampire-out-of-time Barnabas Collins, cursed by a witch in the 1790s and re-awoken in the 1970s. But Tim Burton's film can't seem to settle on a tone, shifting between dumb comedy and mild creepiness. The result is unmemorable and sometimes even boring; you'd think you could condense an adaptation of the 1200-episode '60s TV show into something better.
The Dictator ★★
Sacha Baron Cohen's gleefully offensive and stereotypical characters worked great on his TV show, Da Ali G Show, and in Borat. But that was because they were played against real-life people who took them seriously, revealing absurd levels of prejudice through comedy. This scripted film removes those men and women on the street, and Baron Cohen's old bite along with them, leaving behind only offensive humor with little point.
The Avengers ★★★ 1/2
For the unprecedented feat of lining up five previous (and pretty decent) films and combining their stars into one supersized blockbuster, The Avengers is truly remarkable. But what of the actual film that results? It's pretty entertaining too, with plenty of comedy, action and nice cast teamwork. However, maybe because of the extended buildup and the film's absurd levels of hype, seeing it feels more like a relief than a rush. —Patrick Dunn