"City of Ember" is pleasant, for what it is. It is a post-apocalyptic rebirth tale, aimed at 12-year-olds. We liked it well enough; I suspect that it is a little to dreary and not quite exciting enough for its target audience.
"Appaloosa" is a first rate Western, loaded with Honor and Courage and Friendship and Loyalty and a fair amount of violence. The cast is great, the script has a definite sense of humor, and I want to see it again.
"The Duchess" is a well constructed mostly historical costume drama. Keira Knightley plays a late 18th century English noblewoman who was intelligent, talented, and beautiful who pretty much beat herself to death against the walls of the cage society had built for her. There really isn't enough story to fill the allotted time, and the script lacked the deftness that might have made up for that.
"Body of Lies" is a reality based contemporary spy drama. Innocent people die pointlessly; guilty people live happily ever after. Leonardo DiCaprio's character watches all of this (and designs some of it), and eventually walks away in disgust. The film is well made on most levels, but if I want to be depressed by current events, I will just watch the evening news...
"The Express" tells the story of college football star Ernie Davis, the first black to win the Heisman Trophy. I had never heard of him, and the trailers made me do some research: Davis won the trophy, they developed leukemia and never played as a professional. So I expected a triumph-over-adversity sports movie with a tear-jerker ending. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they down-played the tragedy, and managed to make the whole thing fairly triumphant. It's a good story, and it is well presented.
And finally... While buying tickets on Tuesday, I was discussing "Appaloosa" with the concessions crew, and the only other customer in sight asked me if I had seen "Fireproof". I replied that I had not, and would not, unless I were bribed heavily. She asked me why I felt that way.
"It's a heavy-handed relationship drama that beats the audience over the head with a Bible. Not really my sort of thing," I said.
"Why do you think that?" she asked.
"Because the studio that produced it is a wholly owned subsidiary of a Baptist mega-church in Georgia, and I have seen the trailers," I replied.
"I guess that is one way to look at it," she said, and scurried away. The movie has been doing well at the local theater; the local Xians are showing up because it is the biggest Xian movie in a LONG time, with overtones of the whole, "It's easier to drag the neighbors to the movies than to church," phenomenon. I have watched far too many overtly Xian movies, and have even enjoyed a few of them, but... No.