King of the Monsters, Indeed
As movie monsters go, there is one that stands out above the rest. After first appearing in the allegorical Japanese film Gojira in 1954, the character that became known as Godzilla has appeared in over thirty movies. Most of these movies have been Japanese products and for good reason: when Hollywood attempted to make a Godzilla movie in 1998, it was a laughable disaster. Under the theory that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, Hollywood is back with another stab at the legendary movie monster. Does this Godzilla have what it takes to succeed? The answer is a resounding yes.
Agent of Distraction
Following their success with Remember the Titans in 2000, Disney began releasing based-on-true-events inspirational sports dramas every couple of years. For the most part, these movies have been consistently entertaining and successful with Titans and Miracle being arguably the cream of the crop. As entertaining as they are, however, by following virtually the same formula with every movie, they are feeling less and less fresh with each new outing. That is very apparent in their latest film, Million Dollar Arm, a moderately entertaining effort that hits a little too many clichés on its way around the bases.
It is one of the greatest challenges an actor can undertake: carrying a movie completely by themselves. It is something Ryan Reynolds did in Buried and, for the most part, Tom Hanks and James Franco did in Castaway and 127 Hours, respectively. In Locke, that challenge falls to the talented Tom Hardy, who plays the entire movie in the front seat of a car with the film’s other actors only participating as voices on a cell phone.
Mucks up the Works
If Transcendence looks like a movie made by Christopher Nolan, it is because the movie is the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, who photographed every movie Nolan has made since Memento. The movie also features a sci-fi heavy premise that sounds a bit like Inception, only replacing dreams with artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, whereas Inception truly felt like it was something new and exciting, Transcendence pulls too many punches to truly be measured in the same category as Nolan’s film.
Superstar or Bust?
It used to be something only hardcore football fans enthusiastically followed, but now the NFL Draft is a primetime television event that gets high ratings every year. It has turned team general managers from behind-the-scenes businessmen into superstars. It seems appropriate, then, that Hollywood would swoop in and try to capitalize on the phenomenon. The result is Draft Day, a film that focuses on one such general manager as he tries to make a splash for his team on the fateful day of the title.
Another Muppet Caper
Everybody’s favorite puppets are back in a sequel to their successful 2011 comeback film. Never ones to be afraid of breaking the fourth wall, the movie opens with a musical number about them making a sequel. As Dr. Bunsen Honeydew points out in that number, this is not the first Muppets sequel. In fact, this could actually be considered the seventh sequel to the original The Muppet Movie that came out back in 1979.
Director Denis Villeneuve’s thriller Prisoners was one of the best movies of 2013. In 2014, he reunites with Jake Gyllenhaal for a new thriller called Enemy. Based on the novel The Double by Jose Saramago, Enemy has the same dark tone and intensity as Prisoner, but the plot is less straightforward and more enigmatic. The result is a film that is entertaining, but will have its audience scratching their head for hours afterwards.
The new comedy Bad Words certainly lives up to its name. If you go to this movie expecting a family-friendly movie about kids’ spelling bees, then you will be in for quite a shock. Hopefully, the fact that the poster is nothing but a close-up of star Jason Bateman’s mouth clearly forming the f-bomb will help more sensitive moviegoers steer clear. For those who aren’t turned off by offensive language and raunchy comedy, though, Bad Words is exactly what you hope it would be.
It seems that ever since Twilight did so well at the box-office when it was released in 2008 that movie studios are cranking out another young adult book adaptation every couple of months. With the exception of The Hunger Games, though, none of these other potential franchises have really taken off. Enter the latest contender, Divergent, based on the novel by Veronica Roth. With a rising young star in Shailene Woodley in the lead role of Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior, the hype for this movie has been growing.
Angels & Demons
Winter’s Tale is being released on Valentine’s Day, but although the story does revolve around a love story, the movie feels more like a film that would come out around Christmas time. After all, angels and miracles are Christmas movie staples and they play a major role in this time-traveling fantasy. The movie just presents us with a world in which angels and demons walk among us without ever feeling the need to explain itself. In that sense, the movie is somewhat refreshing.
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