He's a perpetual bachelor stuck in the same old routine. She's a gal with a dream and a squad of divorcees ready to ditch their jobs and start a new life. You know what that means: road trip!
"Mad Max: Fury Road" takes some familiar turns, right down to the improv baby delivery. Manic dream girl Furiosa really shakes things up (though her pixie cut is a bit severe) and it's fun watching her help Max learn to live in the moment and express his feelings. But the bittersweet ending seems out of character.
Not to drop spoilers, but surely the new, more mature Max would put a ring on it? He's mad, he's not crazy.
Published:Caption:Luke LancasterPhoto:Village Roadshow Pictures, Kelly Nelson/CNET
My Big Fat Vulcan Wedding
With one simple change to the timeline -- a Romulan ship that traveled back 129 years and killed Kirk's father -- J.J. Abrams rebuilds the classic sci-fi series around its most fascinating question: What if Spock and Uhura were dating?
Sparks fly in "Star Trek" as the strong-willed couple bicker over his emotional unavailability and how far he should go to help her career. Irrelevant action sequences and focus-pulling secondary characters do get in the way of this lively cross-cultural romance (the big argument scene is nearly ruined by a distracting spaceship crash).
At times it seems the lovebirds will never fully work out their issues, but this modern screwball comedy is still satisfying. Be sure to check out the sequel, where they're unexpectedly saddled with 72 frozen kids.
Published:Caption:Luke LancasterPhoto:Paramount Pictures, Kelly Nelson/CNET
But will he stay for breakfast?
This Ridley Scott attempt to adapt a slow, thoughtful French-style romantic drama for an American audience is ambitious but fatally flawed. Impressive cinematography and symbolic use of potatoes can't make up for the fact that the two stars in "The Martian" share alarmingly little screen time.
The intimacy of the nude scene is hurt by the fact that it's not even clear who the voyeur is (to be honest, we mistook pixie-like NASA engineer Mindy Park for the love interest for most of the movie before realizing the true endgame.)
The reconciliation scene where Lewis pulls Watney into an impulsive, spinning dance in space -- despite his impending asphyxiation -- almost succeeds in carrying the film's romantic weight, but we couldn't help remembering that she's married. Probably a French thing. Overall, a daring experiment that failed to warm our hearts.
Published:Caption:Luke LancasterPhoto:20th Century Fox, Kelly Nelson/CNET
More like the Cake Frosting Games
It's a cookie-cutter story: Irrepressible Katniss sneaks out to the woods, strews flowers on people and inspires Peeta (a boy) to look beyond his dead-end baking career. Sassy best friend Gale (a boy) provides comic relief. The only thing really distinguishing "The Hunger Games" is the huge ensemble cast at the beginning, but the creators seem to have realized they were overreaching and wisely pared down the subplots by the end.
We're told this movie is essentially a remake of the more daring earlier Japanese film "My Neighbor Totoro." Katniss' sick mother and spunky little sister are about the same, but the forest creatures are different? We'll have to check that one out.
It's a truth universally acknowledged that sequels need to be bigger, better and bolder than the original. "Men in Black II" is no exception, picking up right where the 2005 Valentine's Day hit "Hitch" left off.
Will Smith reprises his role as the eponymous "date doctor" Hitch, helping average schmucks with the ladies, but in this outing professionally affable loser Kevin James has been traded in (and, indeed, up) for Tommy Lee Jones. Jones is in perfect form as the grumpy straight man trying to get his groove back with the help of the wild, wild Will Smith.
Things veer toward gross-out comedy when Lara Flynn Boyle makes her tentacled appearance, and while the absurdity of a secret organization of pick-up artists is hilarious, it's a bit of a misguided tone shift from the heart-on-sleeve earnest original. But Jones and Smith's chemistry is worth the price of admission.
Published:Caption:Luke LancasterPhoto:Columbia Pictures, Kelly Nelson/CNET
Love is in the air in some of our favorite Christmas movies. Before Alan Rickman won hearts in "Love Actually," he brought a surprising tenderness to fish-out-of-water Hans Gruber in "Die Hard," opposite Bonnie Bedelia's Holly.
Gruber's big romantic gesture at Holly's Christmas party is a little unrealistic, and having it come in the first act is just one of a dozen bizarre pacing issues. But it's nothing compared with the extremes her macho ex-husband goes to to keep them apart. (A scene-stealing Bruce Willis fresh of the set of "Moonlighting," finally getting a chance to show his darker side.)
Sorry, "Die Hard." If you're after a Christmas-themed rom-com, "Love Actually" is still the definitive turn from Rickman (though we suspect that film would have been improved with just one or two AK-47s).
Published:Caption:Luke LancasterPhoto:Twentieth Century Fox, Kelly Nelson/CNET
The fast and the neglected
OK, we're not even sure how this got on our list. "The Fast and the Furious" starts out promisingly, with reckless undercover officer Brian infiltrating a street-racing gang to get closer to a girl who makes terrible tuna sandwiches. After that burst of chemistry, thought, it goes downhill, as he seems to spend more of the movie getting to know her meathead brother.
The movie wastes most of its rapport-building and heated glances while Mia's offscreen. It's as if they expect the audience to prefer biceps, stick shifts and engine lubrication to more Mia time. Even what should have been the final grand gesture, Brian sacrificing his career so the brother can go free, loses its impact because Mia is nowhere in sight.
Yeah, we don't get it. No romance here. But we hear good things about "Tokyo Drift"!
Published:Caption:Luke LancasterPhoto:Universal Pictures, Kelly Nelson/CNET
Endearments of the lambs
"Silence of the Lambs" has all the right rom-com ingredients: Clarice and Hannibal seem to hate each other at first. Clarice tries (and fails!) to balance her demanding job with her crazy personal life. It's all well-trod ground, right down to the meet-cute in the supermax prison.
But it goes deeper: little grace notes make it more than the sum of its parts. There's a heartbreaking honesty to be found in the leads, with the film refusing to shy away from Clarice's tortured past and Hannibal's weird eating habits.
One thing's for sure. You'll be humming "Goodbye Horses" long after the credits roll.