Archive for the 'Features' Category
White House Under Siege
In this age of incredibly realistic-looking special effects that can convince audiences that super heroes live among us and the major studios’ desire to appeal to wider audiences (read: maintain a PG-13 rating), there is a certain kind of movie that we just don’t see that often anymore: the violent and bloody action thriller for adults. These movies were hugely popular in the eighties and nineties, but have all but disappeared in the new millennium. Heck, even the Bourne movies were rated PG-13. Sure, we get the occasional throwback like The Expendables, but few that take themselves seriously. Olympus has Fallen does take itself seriously… even if that is sometimes a little too seriously.
A 3D Treat
Any movie inspired by L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is immediately behind the eight ball because the definitive film version already exists. It’s impossible to think of Oz without visualizing the beloved 1939 Judy Garland classic, despite the fact that there have been many versions since. The latest attempt is Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful, which takes the never-before-tried approach of telling the story of how the Wizard first found himself in the land that shares his name. It’s the Wizard’s origin story, so to speak, and it’s gloriously filmed and quite entertaining.
Not that Giant
It may not be time for the summer blockbusters yet, but the release of Jack the Giant Slayer certainly marks the beginning of what might now be called the spring blockbuster season. It used to be commonly accepted that the big budget movies didn’t hit theaters until May, but over the past few years, movies like Alice in Wonderland and The Hunger Games have made the month of March a popular one to release big budget spectacles. Jack certainly has all the elements: a fantasy story, plenty of action mixed with comedy, and lots and lots of computerized effects.
Time to Retire?
Detective John McClane’s world is ever-expanding. After first being trapped in an office building, he was then granted an entire airport to roam and destroy, followed by the entirety of New York City, and then most of the Eastern Seaboard. Now in his fifth cinematic outing, A Good Day to Die Hard, he is thrown into an entirely different country… much to the chagrin of innocent Russian motorists who are about to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That They Are
It is no secret that Al Pacino and Christopher Walken are getting up there in years, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still play memorable anti-heroes. In fact, their new film Stand Up Guys gives them each one of the best characters in their long and memorable careers. Add to that a great supporting part for Alan Arkin and you have a thoroughly enjoyable movie about a couple of life-long criminals given one last night for illegal hijinks.
No Surprises in this City
On paper, the new crime thriller Broken City has all the elements of a classic film noir: a hero with a past is brought by a powerful, corrupt figure into a conspiracy that involves a dangerous femme fatale. Unfortunately, to paraphrase a popular sports idiom: that’s why they make the movies. Okay, so it doesn’t directly translate to the world of cinema, but you get the point. The elements of a great story are there, but the execution is lacking.
The Untouchables of L.A.
If Brian DePalma’s operatic 1987 cop drama The Untouchables and Warren Beatty’s colorful, machine gun-happy Dick Tracy from 1990 were to get together and have a cinematic offspring, it would probably look something like director Ruben Fleischer’s new cop flick Gangster Squad. Like the former, it’s the story of a determined cop and his equally devoted team as they attempt to bring down a mobster that has control of their city. Like the latter, it’s got lots and lots of machine gun fire. It’s definitely got the style to rival its cinematic parents, but the plot is a little too familiar for it to stand out on its own.
They Like Each Other, They Like Each Other Not
This is 40 is being advertised as the “sort-of sequel to Knocked Up.” That Judd Apatow-directed movie told the story of an unexpected pair of parents-to-be as they faced the consequences of their one night stand. Pete and Debbie were two of the supporting characters in that movie and now Apatow has decided to give them their own movie that focuses on the relationship between these two people who both turn forty in the same week. If nothing else, This is 40 works as a solid showcase for the acting talents of Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann.
It’s Going to Be a Long One
It has been nine years since director Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy concluded, an accomplishment that stands as one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinema. Given the trilogy’s success, it was only a matter of time before that trilogy’s literature prequel, the much beloved The Hobbit, arrived in theaters. Delayed by, among other things, legal trouble, the tale of Bilbo Baggins has finally arrived in theaters; at least, part of it has. In a curious decision, Jackson has decided to tell the three hundred page story in three parts, each part epic in its own right. The first film in the new trilogy has been titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and it comes in at just under three hours.
Having already been seen by a number of people thanks to early festival screenings, Silver Linings Playbook’s early Oscar buzz can be seen as more than just hype. This movie is already earning a reputation on more than just pure expectations. The buzz is somewhat surprising, considering that the movie, at its core, follows the typical romantic comedy format. But it is because the writing is so sharp, the characters so deep, engaging, and well-played by talented, popular actors that this movie is running up to the podium draped in a garbage bag; you know, “for sweat.”
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