Call it the Alien/Aliens effect. One alien on a single spaceship is a horror story, but a thousand aliens in a colony is almost necessarily an action pic. So while any single monster from R. L. Stine's series of young adult horror novels may have been enough to make kids leave the hall light on, the release of all those monsters at once is much more spectacle than scare. (Hey, a giant praying mantis! Hey, a werewolf! Hey, a malevolent talking dummy! Etc.) Maybe it's for the best; maybe a truly scary story would have alienated the target demographic, or their parents. But weirdly, the heart-stopping moments are replaced with the heart-throbbing variety, as a newly arrived teen (Dylan Minnette) falls for a girl (Odeya Rush) who's like something out of a storybook. Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens) directs, and Jack Black goofs his way through as the famous author. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
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