Sam Eifling



“I, Frankenstein”

“I, Frankenstein”

Hollywood could use a primer in churning out proper schlock these days. By rights, a movie as shamelessly doofy as “I, Frankenstein” ought to generate a heap more fun. Here you have Aaron Eckhart, a semi-serious actor of such films as “Thank You for Smoking” and “The Dark Knight,” getting gussied in eyeblack and body-length […]

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”

The evening after I watched it, someone asked what my favorite part of “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” was. Upon reflection, I realized there’s no such thing. The latest espionage flick featuring America’s stodgy answer to James Bond, “Shadow Recruit” takes Jack Ryan out of the Tom Clancy canon (the late author receives only a “characters […]

“Lone Survivor”

“Lone Survivor”

“Lone Survivor” underscores the boldness of its title in the first scene, in which Mark Wahlberg, playing the real-life Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, appears bloody and mangled on an operating room table, flatlining. This, it turns out, is your lone survivor: The guy who’s borderline dead. One of the grittiest, most grueling war movies ever […]

“Inside Llewyn Davis”

“Inside Llewyn Davis”

“Inside Llewyn Davis” is the rare and peculiar musical film in which the lead character doesn’t much care for many of the songs in it, including those he helps perform. Llewyn (Oscar Isaac, in a star-making turn) begins and ends this curious, sweet movie with a few of his own works — a sight better […]

A Look Back at 2013

A Look Back at 2013

The year-end lists in movies and music are always great ways to glance back at works that might not have much of anything to do with one another but for their year of release. But they’re also a tacit look ahead to awards season — in our case, to the Oscars. I don’t claim to […]

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”

Since graduating from “Saturday Night Live” 11 years ago, Will Ferrell has built the sort of ubiquity that few if any other former sketch comedians have achieved, and he’s done it by aiming at a low-to-middle brow audience that, unlike Adam Sandler’s, has at least learned how to breath through its nostrils. The sudden and […]

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

When Peter Jackson set about adapting the J.R.R. Tolkien children’s novel “The Hobbit” as a sprawling trilogy of eight running hours, we felt we could expect certain things. One would be the best special effects money could buy; after the rake on Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” flicks, we know the Kiwi auteur is resting […]

“Nebraska”

“Nebraska”

“Nebraska” is the lowest grossing best-picture nominee. In “Nebraska,” the brilliant small-budget dark comedy from Alexander Payne, an aging alcoholic receives a mass-mailed sweepstakes letter that he alone doesn’t realize is just a scammy way to sell magazines. Unable to drive and unable to be dissuaded, Woodrow Grant (a bedraggled Bruce Dern) sets out on […]

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

At two-and-a-half hours, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” has ample time to wander in and out of several versions of itself. There’s the first 45 minutes or so, a deadly-dull stretch of dreary plodding that amplifies the most boring parts of the first film. Then the next 45 minutes or so, a slightly more engaging […]

“The Book Thief”

“The Book Thief”

“The Book Thief,” the training wheels of Holocaust movies, is as pleasant an indictment of Nazi Germany as you are likely to find in cinemas this holiday season. It does many of the things that bad movies do — such as implausibly letting a little boy cheerfully swim to the bottom of a freezing-cold river […]