Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle

  1. 20 Feet From Stardom 2013 This film festival favorite is a genuine crowd pleaser, meant to right a few wrongs in the music industry, offer a window into the lives of some hard-charging entertainers, and above all make audiences leave the theater humming a song. full review
  2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 2013 A humorous yet unfocused romp, so unwilling to settle on a single theme that hyperactivity medication should be handed out with the 3-D glasses. full review
  3. The Croods 2013 Considering the fact that a young girl is picking her nose on the movie poster, "The Croods" is surprisingly evolved. full review
  4. Free Birds 2013 All sidekicks and sight gags, with little story cohesion or purpose. full review
  5. G.I. Joe: Retaliation 2013 The filmmakers appear to have handed a dozen or so G.I. Joe dolls to a 9-year-old, watched him play for 110 minutes, and then shot a scene-for-scene remake. full review
  6. Insidious: Chapter 2 2013 If Insidious 2 exists solely because Insidious 1 made a ton of money, then at least credit Wan for making quality control a priority. full review
  7. Linsanity 2013 You may have watched Lin's rise to national prominence the first time, but it's still easy to get caught up in the moment. full review
  8. Machete Kills 2013 "Machete Kills" is exploitation cinema, in the same way that a teen who pays $28 at the mall for a Sex Pistols T-shirt is a punk rocker. full review
  9. The Smurfs 2 2013 There's a dark and gratuitously negative vibe to "The Smurfs 2" that makes it unfit even for the undiscriminating young moviegoers that made the first one a hit. full review
  10. Turbo 2013 After the originality of the hero, the filmmakers borrow too heavily from other movies; the similarities to "Ratatouille" and "Cars" are almost distracting. full review
  11. Any Day Now 2012 The script seems almost religiously adverse to Hallmark-style melodrama. full review
  12. Ballplayer: Pelotero 2012 A scrappy documentary about teenage ballplayers in the Dominican Republic. full review
  13. The Cabin in the Woods 2012 By the time the ride is over, director Drew Goddard and co-writers Goddard and Joss Whedon will change course three or four times, nodding and winking but never losing momentum. full review
  14. Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away 2012 It's a big promo reel, and not a carefully disguised one. full review
  15. Dredd 2012 A fine piece of cheap entertainment. full review
  16. Fun Size 2012 "Fun Size" seems trapped in a limbo between a hyperkinetic comedy for kids and something more outlaw for teens. full review
  17. Kill List 2012 "Kill List" has a slow build, but don't be lulled into complacency. This is one of the most violent and disturbing films you'll see in an art house. full review
  18. The Moth Diaries 2012 Way too serious for its own good. full review
  19. The Other Dream Team 2012 Adding detailed historical context, the quirky feel-good story becomes a tragedy and a lesson. And that makes the victories resonate even more. full review
  20. The Possession 2012 The evil spirit in "The Possession" should be embarrassed to call itself a demon. full review
  21. Reincarnated 2012 Snoop's involvement as a producer does a disservice to the film. Was there anyone behind the scenes with veto power? full review
  22. Ultrasonic 2012 An electronic score pulses throughout the film, which can be cliched in individual scenes but still goes in some unexpected directions. full review
  23. Ironclad 2011 The core fan base of this English sword battle drama will pay for the boundary-pushing blood and gore. Why bore them with things like plot and context and production values? full review
  24. Stake Land 2011 "Stake Land" bursts with action, ideas and interesting characters. full review
  25. True Legend 2011 The story is painfully simplistic, and it becomes quickly apparent that the narrative is a crude cement to hold together the carnage. full review
  26. Undefeated 2011 It's a credit to directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Daniels that the personal stories of the kids and coaches resonate more than the wins and losses. full review
  27. Casino Jack And The United States Of Money 2010 The snarky tone, use of musical puns and jokey graphics (was Keith Olbermann an executive producer?) undermine the impact of the story. full review
  28. Tiny Furniture 2010 What Dunham lacks in polish, she makes up for in her ability to observe her generation, with the hardest truths coming at her own expense. full review
  29. Best Worst Movie 2009 The priorities seem misplaced, but the result is still sincere and interesting and often very funny. full review
  30. The House of the Devil 2009 There's a payoff in The House of the Devil, if you have the patience. Some of the scenes seem draggy, but the characters are complex, and their motivations are explained. full review
  31. Kings of Pastry 2009 Beyond the treats, which are complicated and no doubt mind-bending to consume, the film has its layers as well. full review
  32. Survival of the Dead 2009 For the first time, a Romero zombie movie feels as if it was rushed out. full review
  33. Star Wars: The Clone Wars 2008 The visuals are worthy, but the big screen brings the movie's script shortcomings and pacing problems into sharper relief. full review
  34. The Tale of Despereaux 2008 The Tale of Despereaux may not be a classic, but it still has a lot of class. full review
  35. Hot Rod 2007 There's something that seems almost important about this picture. The creators have harnessed everything that's good about YouTube, and translated it into a big-screen movie. full review
  36. Surfwise 2007 There are too many unanswered questions and a suspicious forced happy ending, but Surfwise is still a fascinatingly voyeuristic and emotionally powerful movie. full review
  37. The Benchwarmers 2006 It's a movie packed with so many idiot characters that Rob Schneider is cast as the cool guy -- and sort of pulls it off. full review
  38. Curious George 2006 Although the makers of Curious George decided a 21st century update was necessary, they fill the movie with enough tributes to the Reys to take a lot of the sting away. full review
  39. Jackass: Number Two 2006 I don't recall being in physical pain from laughing (which happened a couple of times during the first film), but the sequel still delivers what it promises. This is the Godfather II of tasteless prank films. full review
  40. Serenity 2005 This genre picture is still a thrillingly original science fiction creation. full review
  41. Danny Deckchair 2004 You'll probably forget Danny Deckchair a few minutes after leaving the theater, but it passes the time well enough while you're there. full review
  42. Dust to Glory 2004 The documentary resembles the trajectory of the average Baja 1000 competitor -- an exciting ride that barely crosses the finish line intact. full review
  43. The Haunted Mansion 2003 Haunted Mansion won't be anybody's E-ticket ride, but it's an enjoyable movie for a very specific age range (children 8 to 12), and will be tolerable for almost everyone else. full review
  44. Scary Movie 3 2003 There are a few laughs in Scary Movie 3, but most of the content is hopelessly dated. full review
  45. /titles/197378 There's no attempt at humor in Dead Silence, but the biggest sin in the film is the lack of scares. full review
  46. /titles/197527 There will be young moviegoers who proclaim this genius, and more stodgy audience members who find it torturous. If you're not tweeting and texting a combined 50 times or more per day, you're probably in the latter camp. full review
  47. /titles/197498 A strong companion to Dogtown and Z-Boys. full review
  48. /titles/197696 The songs and a couple of strong performances are only good enough to make the film watchable, not exceptional. full review
  49. /titles/197328 Someone spent a lot of time making the architecture and production design match the era. Grandparents getting dragged to "The Nut Job" will be appreciative. full review
  50. /titles/197490 Coherent, hilarious and surprisingly sweet. full review
  51. /titles/197207 The crushing two-hour-plus running time and Tom Clancy-for-dummies plot sabotage the film, which becomes particularly ridiculous in the last 30 minutes. full review

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