‘Snitch’ is suspenseful, ‘Frankenstein’ is D.O.A. in theaters

Of the four new movies that I reviewed during the Feb. 28, 2013 edition of “Breakthrough Thinking: The Magazine,” the one that you should… make that need to see is “Snitch,” a thriller starring Dwayne Johnson. As for “The Frankenstein Theory,” the new found-footage flick has plenty of potential but it is in desperate need of a little lightening to liven things up.

‘Dark Skies’

Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton play a couple that witnesses an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, causing their safe and peaceful home to quickly unravel. When it becomes clear that the family is being targeted, they take matters in their own hands to solve the mystery. (PG-13 – 100 minutes)

If you have seen “Signs,” then you have actually already seen “Dark Skies,” too. In fact, if you have seen “Sinister,” “Insidious” or any number of movies in which a family is terrorized by a paranormal presence and seeks out an eccentric expert’s professional opinion, then you have also already seen writer/director Scott Stewart’s new science-fiction thriller. Just alternate ghosts for aliens and you have more or less the same movie. However, although the motion picture probes other properties for plot points, it is still sufficiently spooky, effectively eerie and a potent producer of utterly unnerving nightmares. (Grade: B)

‘The Frankenstein Theory’

Timothy V. Murphy plays a disgraced college professor who leads a documentary film crew to the rim of the Arctic Circle in a desperate effort to vindicate his academic reputation and prove that Mary Shelley’s literary classic “Frankenstein” is, in fact, a work of non-fiction disguised as fantasy. Playing exclusively at AMC Arizona Center 24. (NR – 87 minutes)

“The Frankenstein Theory” spends too much time on the “theory” and not enough time on the “Frankenstein.” That is to say that writer/director Andrew Weiner’s new found-footage flick, which was produced by “The Last Exorcism” creators Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland, has a magnificently monstrous finale but the boring build-up is so bulky that viewers very well mayl lose interest long before arriving at that aforementioned action-packed part. Having said that, Weiner’s project earns points for exploring a relatively original idea rather than re-visiting the same old supernatural song and dance. Plentiful potential and excellent execution are two very different things, though. (Grade: D)

‘The Lost Medallion’

Billy Unger and Sammi Hanratty play two teenage friends who uncover a long-lost medallion and accidentally wish themselves back in time. The experience gives them a new understanding of who they are and what their lives really mean. (PG – 100 minutes)

“The Lost Medallion” is a faith-based family flick that, unlike most movies of its genre, conceals its religious roots remarkably well. In fact, writer/director Bill Muir conceals them perhaps even too well as one would have to make a lot of large leaps from the motion picture’s plot points in order to arrive at the same character-building conclusions that the kids in the film do. Having said that, the movie’s messages are still very valuable. Moreover, they are seamlessly instilled into young viewers thanks to the abundantly absorbing adventure on which it takes audiences of all ages. (Grade: C)


Dwayne Johnson plays a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, he makes a deal with the U.S. attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission. (PG-13 – 112 minutes)

“Snitch” is successful in its efforts to both provoke the thoughts of its viewers and get them so riled up that they are almost guaranteed to dig their fingernails deep into their armrests for the entire duration of the new dramatic thriller. And holding on tight may be the best tactic, too, as writer/director Ric Roman Waugh exhilarates audiences not with action but with cleverly calculated suspense. Warning: You will not emerge with your nerves unfrayed from this tension, your spirit unbroken by this social injustice or your heart unaffected by this father’s defiant dedication to his son. (Grade: A)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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