Continuing with Shockya’s new mini-series The Best and Worst Films of 2011…So Far, this installment ironically includes historical dramas and car action movies on both the greatest and poorest lists. Some of these films successfully integrated historical facts with a captivating storyline and big-budget stunts with a natural bond between the cast, respectfully; unfortunately, the other movies disappointingly failed to incorporate accurate backstories or exciting chase scenes.

The Best and Worst Films of 2011…So Far also features some of the most anticipated movies of the second half of the year. The summer seems to want to step away from the historical dramas and action films to instead focus on the many ways audiences can be frightened with the horror genre. But whatever genre you’re interested in, the second half of 2011 promises to deliver as many interesting movies as the first half…but with the guaranteed few bad choices as well.

The Best So Far:

the conspirator

‘The Conspirator’

Director: Robert Redford

Actors: James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Tom Wilkinson, Alexis Bledel, Justin Long

Theatrical Release Date: April 15; Blu-ray/DVD release date: August 16

‘The Conspirator’ follows the wake of President Lincoln’s assassination in Washington, D.C. Seven men and one woman, Mary Surratt (played by Robin Wright), are charged with helping John Wilkes Booth (played by Toby Kebbell) kill the president. New lawyer Frederick Aiken, portrayed by James McAvoy, a Union war-hero, is persuaded by former Attorney General and current U.S. Senator Reveredy Johnson, played by Tom Wilkinson, to defend Mary in front of a military tribunal.

The topic of whether or not northern states should have showed sympathy towards the southern states after the Civil War ended, and the continuous bitterness and urge to take revenge on the opposing side, are still controversial topics. But Redford rightfully decided not to place blame on either side; he keeps his viewers intrigued by allowing them to decide on their own whether or not Booth acted alone.

Redford also made the right decision in hiring McAvoy to portray Frederick. He has a natural compassion towards other people that effortlessly translates onto the screen. While Frederick bravely fought for the Union throughout the entire war, McAvoy convincingly made it seem as though Frederick truly wanted to protect Mary.

Click here to continue reading Shockya’s review of ‘The Conspirator.’

fast five

‘Fast Five’

Director: Justin Lin

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Dwayne Johnson

Theatrical Release Date: April 29; Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: September 5

‘Fast Five’ follows Brian O’Conner, played by Paul Walker, his girlfriend Mia Toretto, portrayed by Jordana Brewster, and her brother Dom, played by Vin Diesel as they head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to take on a job stealing cars. The owner of the cars, corrupt business owner Hernan Reyes, played by Joaquim de Almeida, goes after them to get back the car they stole from him. Federal agent Luke Hobbs, portrayed by Dwayne Johnson, arrives in Rio to apprehend the three fugitives, who call in some of their friends, including Han Lue, played by Sung Kang, Roman Pearce, portrayed by Tyrese Gibson and Tej, played by Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, to help them pull off one last heist on Reyes.

Bringing back many of the original characters from the first three ‘The Fast and the Furious’ films was a smart move on director Justin Lin’s part. Walker and Diesel still have a great chemistry together, and seem as though they truly care about what happens to each other. Their natural bond translates well onto the screen, making it believable that Brian would forgo his career as an FBI agent in order to save Dom from going to prison.

Click here to continue reading Shockya’s ‘Fast Five’ review.

The Worst Films So Far

Season of the Witch

‘Season of the Witch’

Directed by: Dominic Sena

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Robert Sheehan and Christopher Lee

Theatrical Release Date: January 7; Now Available on Blu-ray and DVD

The leading worst movie of 2011 so far, ‘Season of the Witch,’ is the first of this year’s two poorest films to feature the once-great Academy Award-winning actor Nicolas Cage. The fantasy-action movie follows Cage’s character, Behmen, who, with his closest friend, Felson played by Ron Perlman, desert the Church. In exchange for not being sent to prison for desertion, the two are ordered by the cardinal to escort a young girl, played by newcomer Claire Foy, who’s accused of being a witch and bringing on the Black Plague to a distant village to stand trial.

Director Dominic Sena was ultimately unsuccessful in keeping his audience interested in the ‘Season of the Witch’s biggest plot point: whether or not the girl is really a witch. Instead, the majority of the film focuses on Behmen, Felson and their companions boringly arguing amongst themselves about numerous things, including if the girl is just being used as a scapegoat, and if the teachings of the church are right.

Click here to continue reading Shockya’s review of ‘Season of the Witch.’

drive angry 3d

‘Drive Angry 3D’

Directed by: Patrick Lussier

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, Billy Burke and Katy Mixon

Theatrical Release Date: February 25; Now Available on Blu-ray and DVD

The second worst movie of 2011 so far unfortunately also features Cage. The action film follows John Milton, played by Cage, a man who recently broke out of Hell to hunt down a satanic cult whose leader, Jonah King, portrayed by Billy Burke, murdered his daughter and is intending on sacrificing his infant granddaughter. Cage was unfortunately unable to prove what a great actor he can be with Milton, mainly because the film’s director, Patrick Lussier, who also co-wrote the script with Todd Farmer, seemed to want to focus more on the stunts than the plot-line. Lussier created a somewhat confusing back-story for Milton. ‘Drive Angry’s studio, Millenium Films, seemed to incorporate the use of 3D just in an effort to distract viewers from noticing the movie’s overall lack of purpose, and to highlight the numerous gun fights and car races between Milton and Jonah.

Click here to continue reading Shockya’s ‘Drive Angry 3D’ review.

The Most Anticipated Films for the Remainder of 2011:

final destination 5

‘Final Destination 5’

Directed by: Steven Quale

Starring: Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Arlen Escarpeta, David Koechner, Tony Todd

Theatrical Release Date: August 12

After ‘The Final Destination’ was successful at the box office in summer 2009, Warner Bro. Pictures decided to continue the story in ‘Final Destination 5.’ The horror thriller, which is set to be released in 3D on August 12, recycles the storyline from the first four installments in the series. ‘Final Destination 5’ follows Sam Lawton, played by Nicholas D’Agosto, who has a premonition that the bridge he’s driving on collapses. He’s able to save himself and several others, but realizes Death is still after the survivors. While the movie doesn’t promise to bring anything new to the franchise, the most exciting aspect of the fourth sequel is the return of Tony Todd as William Bludworth from the first two ‘Final Destination’ films.

Fright Night

‘Fright Night’

Directed by: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, Lisa Loeb

Theatrical Release Date: August 19

Proving once again how successful horror remakes and sequels can be, Touchstone Pictures will release its version of the classic 1985 film ‘Fright Night’ in 3D on August 19. The remake stars Anton Yelchin as Charlie Brewster and Colin Farrell as vampire Jerry Dandrige. After finally becoming popular, high school senior Charlie discovers that Jerry, his new next-door neighbor, is a vampire, but the rest of the neighborhood doesn’t find anything wrong with him. Farrell will undoubtingly have the same mesmerizing effect on audiences.

Written by: Karen Benardello

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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