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.
Better Effects, Less Fun
The first thing fans might notice about the 2014 RoboCop reboot is that it seems to be missing something that was prevalent in the 1987 original: blood. Whereas the original film made no effort to hold back on the violence, the new film aims for a broader audience with a PG-13 rating. What it lacks in blood and violence it tries to make up for with a topical political agenda, addressing the ideas of drone use and automated law enforcement in our modern society with a look at a possible near future.
The Monuments Men was originally considered to be one of the leading Oscar contenders coming down the stretch in 2013, and why not? A war movie based on a fascinating untold true story starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and John Goodman: how could it not be a contender? Now the question is not whether it will be nominated for Oscars, but whether it will be able to find an audience at all.
A Dull Holiday Weekend
Director Jason Reitman’s first feature-length film Thank You for Smoking was released in 2005 and followed by Juno two years later. Each of these films was told in a hip, unique, and fresh way that boldly announced that a new talent had arrived. Up in the Air followed and although it was somewhat more traditional, it still had a certain level of freshness to it. Now, following 2011’s polarizing Young Adult, Reitman releases what is by far his most traditional film. Unfortunately, whereas his earlier films were fresh and exciting, Labor Day is just bland and dull.
Pine Reboots Another Action Hero
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the second attempt to reboot the Jack Ryan franchise, based on characters created by spy novelist Tom Clancy. The first was The Sum of All Fears, starring Ben Affleck, which was released fourteen years ago. Obviously, that one failed to reinvigorate the franchise and Shadow Recruit hopes to succeed where Sum failed. Whether it will remains to be seen, but the movie definitely proves to be more entertaining than your average January release.
Operation: War Movie
War movies are not as easy to sell these days as they were back in John Wayne’s time. This is especially true when the war in question is the modern war, one so many people are outspokenly against. Perhaps that is why director Peter Berg struggled for over five years to get Lone Survivor made. The story, based on the ill-fated “Operation Red Wings” in 2005, is one that is definitely worth telling and Berg tells it in a way that is at the same time entertaining, tragic, and hopeful.
Get Busy Living
Directed by its star Ben Stiller, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is actually a remake of a 1947 film of the same name. Few people might remember that Danny Kaye vehicle and even fewer are likely to remember the James Thurber short story that inspired both films, which was originally published in 1939. Fortunately, that’s one of the reasons we have remakes and Stiller’s version thrusts the daydreaming hero into a modern-day setting… well, almost modern day.
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