Archive for the 'Features' Category

St. Vincent
Bill Murray for Sainthood

Bill Murray has been one of our most loved actors for over thirty years now. He’s starred in many a classic comedy and even earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Lately, his roles seem to fall into three distinct categories: Wes Anderson character parts, cameos (think Zombieland), and parts designed towards earning him an Oscar, like last year’s Hyde Park on the Hudson. His latest movie, St. Vincent, seems to fall in the latter category.


Gone Girl
From Bestseller to Blockbuster?

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay, Gone Girl is one of the most anticipated movies of 2014. After seeing it, I certainly anticipate that it will also become one of the most talked about movies of 2014. The material is a perfect fit for director David Fincher, even if the tone of the movie seems very familiar to that of his last novel adaptation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.


When the Game Stands Tall
Overcoming Adversity On and Off the Field

If I were to tell you that they were making a movie about a team that won 151 consecutive football games, you might assume that the movie would be about how this team came together to accomplish that feat. When the Games Stands Tall is about the team that experienced that tremendous winning streak, but instead of focusing on what went into the streak, the movie focuses on what came after: how the team bounced back from an onslaught of adversity that hit them all at once.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Cowabunga!

For the first time in over twenty years, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back in a live-action film. Whereas the previous three live-action efforts featured actors in costumes, the latest movie takes advantage of motion capture technology. The movie is produced by Michael Bay, but as he already has another franchise based on a 1980s cartoon, he leaves the directing duties on this film to Jonathan Liebesman. The technology is definitely there for Liebesman to make a better TMNT film, but the key to this movie’s success will certainly rely on whether or not the Turtles in the film are characters that the audience can buy into.


Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel Goes to Space

Beginning with the 2008 release of Iron Man, Marvel has been the dominant film studio when it comes to consistently producing blockbusters. They have become to this decade what Pixar Studios was to the last decade: a consistent source of quality entertainment. Not only that, but by tying all of their films together, they have created a cinematic universe that is currently unrivaled. The studio’s newest movie will serve as a big test to see just how popular the Marvel brand has become. Whereas most of the general public had at least heard of characters like Hulk, Thor, and Captain America, if you would have asked ten people on the streets just a year ago who the Guardians of the Galaxy were, I bet at least nine of out ten would have no idea. That’s all about to change, though, as Guardians of the Galaxy is a fantastic, Star Wars-esque space adventure.


Lucy
Mind-bending Action

In 2011, Bradley Cooper starred in a movie called Limitless, which had a premise that revolved around a drug that would allow the user to access 100 percent of their brain capacity. Three years later, director Luc Besson introduces us to Lucy, a movie that also uses a similar drug as its main plot device. That is where the comparisons between the two movies end, however, as the trippy Lucy turns out to be a cross between a Jason Statham action movie and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Boyhood
12 Years in the Making

Director Richard Linklater’s new film Boyhood is a movie twelve years in the making… literally. The movie began filming in 2002 and finally wrapped in 2013. A combination of narrative and experimental filmmaking, the movie follows its central characters over that same time period as the actors continue to age realistically. It is a fascinating idea that works on the experimental level, but that just fails to pack enough drama to fill its 165-minute narrative.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Evolving Franchise

Based on the novel by French writer Pierre Boulle, the original Planet of the Apes film inspired a franchise that included five movies between 1968 and 1973. After a forgettable Tim Burton remake in 2001, the franchise was rebooted in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. While it is often referred to as a reboot, that movie stayed true enough to the original franchise that it could also be considered a prequel. The franchise now continues with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which logically advances the progression from the events of the 2011 movie towards the events depicted in the 1968 original.


Transformers: Age of Extinction
Enough is Enough

After going low-budget (relatively speaking) and directing one of last year’s biggest surprises, Pain & Gain, Michael Bay returns to his big-budget franchise with Transformers: Age of Extinction. The movie is technically a sequel, picking up the story four years after the events of 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but it also has elements of a reboot. Gone are Shia Labeouf’s Sam Witwicky and the rest of the human characters from the first three movies, replaced by a whole new cast led by Mark Wahlberg. With the exception of a few holdovers, most of the robot cast is new as well, including a brand new villain.


Maleficent
Her Side of the Story

The 1959 animated version of Sleeping Beauty is one of Disney’s most successful and memorable hits. Their new live-action version, however, opens with a narration that essentially just tells you to disregard that entire movie. It’s misleading, the narration tells us, and then we are whisked back in time and introduced into the younger version of that film’s menacing villain, who will be the protagonist in Maleficent. Now, we will get to see her side of the story; for better or worse. Perhaps Disney will do better with its upcoming live-action remake of Cinderella.


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