Everyone waits until the year is over to compile their “Best of whatever” movie lists. This has become a mundane practice. Time for a bit of a change, kids.

The Dictator is seemingly the only player (movie) that wanted to be on the court this weekend. While Sacha Baron Cohen hustled with his latest outlandish character, Battleship (more like BattleshiT) and What to Expect When You’re Expecting were just going through the recycled motions. And the mid-majors (limited releases) in Darling Companion and The Samaritan, gave it a go, yet just didn’t have the talent on the sideline (behind-the-lens crew) to compete.

The new releases for the respective week will have a capsule review at the end of the column. An updated list comes out every Monday. Here’s how things are shaking up so far in 2012:

1. Chronicle
2. The Cabin in the Woods
3. The Avengers
4. Red Tails
5. The Grey
6. Game Change
7. The Secret World of Arrietty
8. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
9. Friends with Kids
10. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
11. The Raid: Redemption
12. Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds
13. Big Miracle
14. Think Like a Man
15. 21 Jump Street
16. Brake
17. Mirror Mirror
18. This Means War
19. The Three Stooges
20. Gone
21. Blue Like Jazz
22. American Reunion
23. Jeff, Who Lives at Home
24. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
25. Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best
26. The Dictator
27. Safe
28. Searching for Sonny
29. The Hunger Games
30. John Carter
31. Wrath of the Titans
32. Dead Dad
33. Underworld: Awakening
34. The Devil Inside
35. The Five-Year Engagement
36. Downtown Express
37. Project X
38. Dark Shadows
39. The Raven
40. Silent House
41. Darling Companion
42. Bully
43. What to Expect When You’re Expecting
44. Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding
45. Lockout
46. The Woman in Black
47. The Vow
48. Man on a Ledge
49. The Lucky One
50. Contraband
51. The Samaritan
52. Act of Valor
53. 4:44 Last Day on Earth
54. Safe House
55. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
56. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
57. Kill List
58. Haywire
59. A Thousand Words
60. Joyful Noise
61. Battleship
62. Wanderlust

Not Screened: One for the Money, Casa De Mi Padre, Chimpanzee

Battleship

It’s just a big dumb summer animal, folks. This may have been an alright watch ten years ago – and that’s not factoring in the poor acting, storytelling, zero plot & rationale, etc. Nowadays, Hollywood needs to evolve from the Independence Days and the Armageddon’s and take pride in its work. Director Peter Berg, whose last big screen gig was 2008’s Hancock, does alright with projecting out the action, but royally sinks when trying to deliver a shell of a story and being innovative. In other words, well, word… MISS.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Delivered using an ensemble cast, who all enact a variety of storylines chronicling getting knocked up, only one of them resonate with a thought. The script pretty much took themes from films such as Knocked Up and/or The Back-Up Plan, and fused them all into short, and fairly empty, movie segments. Basically, this is a numbing watch unless you’re in on the “joke.” Hollywood really needs to stop doing these predictable multi-faceted stories in the rom-com genre.

The Dictator

Forcing two genre styles together – the first being the typical story arc of a narrow-minded individual, who possibly has a change of heart thanks to an obviously-placed love interest (Anna Faris looking like a hippie-lesbian) – the second, which ushers in Cohen’s now patent brand of raunchy and shock-value comedy, can work and blow goats at the same time. And speaking of blowing goats, there are no sexual-acts with animals this time around.

The Samaritan

Even though the story gets across its point and the acting is fairly decent, the scattered and mostly uneventful screenplay dilutes the entertainment value. Seeing a few people get tortured and shot by refined criminals is one thing; but then complimenting that with Samuel L. Jackson just slogging around and raising his voice once in a while can only carry this so far.

Darling Companion

Boasting a stellar cast (Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Richard Jenkins, Diane Wiest, and Ayelet Zurer), the quaint story about a family dealing with the normal rigors of life, ends up not having a point, a lesson, or a theme. It’s all about finding a lost dog. Literally, that’s it. The set-up reminds one of flicks such as 1989’s Parenthood starring Steve Martin. And you know what, if you traded out Kevin Kline for Steve Martin – and when factoring in Richard Jenkins’ entertaining yet subtle character, they’re may have been something worthwhile here. Instead, nothing to see here folks; move along.

Releasing this week: Men in Black III, Chernobyl Diaries, Moonrise Kingdom

SEE THE 5/14 RANKINGS

FOLLOW JOE BELCASTRO ON HIS NEWLY CREATED TWITTER

The Dictator reigns over mediocrity

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By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

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