Archive for the 'Recent DVDs' Category
Fake Family Comedy
We’re the Millers is a family comedy, but not a comedy for families. Actually, it’s not even about a real family; hence the films asterisked tagline that says they’re the Miller family only “if anyone asks.” Whereas its characters may pretend to be what they’re not, this movie does not make any effort to hide what it is: a crude and pervasively foul-mouthed R-rated comedy. The fact that all of the jokes are good, but not great, keeps We’re the Millers from becoming the memorable comedy its setup and cast seemed to promise.
Banter 1, Plot 0
Earlier this year, audience’s experienced The Heat, which essentially took the standard buddy cop movie that is usually dominated by male actors and cast women in the lead roles. With 2 Guns, the guys are back in the lead and the result is…well, a standard buddy cop movie; emphasis on the “standard.” With any less popular actors in the lead roles, this movie probably would just come and go, before disappearing into complete obscurity.
When Optimus Met Godzilla…
Pacific Rim is that movie you created in your head as a kid when you sat on your bedroom floor and bashed your robot toy and your monster toy together. No more, no less. It’s a sci-fi fantasy B-movie with FX far beyond anything those guys making these kinds of movies in the 1950s could ever have imagined. Whether or not that is the kind of movie you would like to see brought to life by state-of-the-art special effects will ultimately determine whether or not you enjoy the movie.
Not Very Legendary
Disney has been advertising The Lone Ranger as from the makers of Pirates of the Caribbean. Ten years ago, that might have been enough to excite audiences, but after three decreasingly entertaining Pirates sequels, that selling point has lost some of its luster. Still, the idea of a big budget western about one of the greatest heroes in pop culture should be enough to intrigue any moviegoer. Add to that the fact that the movie features legitimate movie star Johnny Depp as Tonto and potential movie star Armie Hammer as the title character and you have got a movie that could heroically ride through the summer blockbuster season. Unfortunately, all we get is one big-budget mess.
For years, the male gender has had a monopoly on the buddy cop genre, but that all changes with The Heat, the new R-rated comedy from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig. The movie stars a pair of women who appear to be a match made in comedy heaven. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy have each earned their place among the short-list of modern cinema’s funniest comediennes, but they have done so with completely different comic styles. Fortunately for us, those different comic styles are as perfect of a blend as we could have hoped.
With the help of producer / project overseer Christopher Nolan, director Zack Snyder has been charged with completely rebooting the Superman franchise. In many respects, Snyder is faced with an even bigger task than Nolan was when he rebooted the Batman franchise. People may love Batman, but Superman is nothing short of an American icon. Erasing fans’ memories of the original films may be a tough task, but with Man of Steel, Snyder at least comes close. This is a very good first chapter and origin story, which should pave the way for a new series of Superman movies. The best is likely yet to come and I can’t wait.
From Jimmy to Michael Bay, Freiburger Impresses
When I reviewed Mark Freiburger’s debut film Dog Days of Summer less than four years ago, I described it as having “the period spookiness of Something Wicked This Way Comes” with “macabre touches hinting of Tennessee Williams… and the lighter moments of Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me.” That’s pretty serious praise for an indie “faith market” film. Since then, Freiburger has worked on three other feature films—as screenwriter on The List and The Trial, both directed by Gary Wheeler, and as director on the straight-to-DVD release Jimmy. Upon the release of the film to DVD last week, I exchanged some emails with Freiburger.
Once anointed “the next Spielberg,” director M. Night Shyamalan has failed to impress much of anyone with his past few movies. After the success of Signs in 2002, his films have continued to decline, perhaps bottoming out with The Happening and The Last Airbender in 2008 and 2010, respectively. For his new film, After Earth, the director tries something he hasn’t done since he first exploded onto the scene in 1999 with The Sixth Sense… he lets someone else write the script.
A Little Too Sober
When The Hangover came out in 2009, it was a massive hit that even garnered some minor Oscar buzz, a rarity for a gross-out comedy. A lot of the credit had to go to the film’s clever device of having its three leads backtrack through a night of debauchery to figure out what happened to their missing friend. It was a clever plot device that helped the film standout from other comedies, but was kind of a one-shot deal, as evidenced by the sequel’s failure to repeat the formula. Now the Wolfpack is back for The Hangover Part III, a movie that purposely tries to go in a different direction from its predecessors, but may have ended up going just a little bit too far.
He’s Back on His Own
Iron Man 3 kicks off what Marvel Studios has dubbed Phase 2 of their superhero series after Phase 1 successfully concluded with last years The Avengers. It is fitting that Phase 2 should kick off with a new Iron Man movie since it was the 2008 original that first kicked off the series. Jon Favreau, the director of the first two films, takes a back seat here as a supporting player and hands over the reins to writer/director Shane Black. Black previously worked with star Robert Downey Jr. on 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and he puts his stamp on the franchise early as Downey opens the film with a voiceover narration that sounds suspiciously similar to the one from their previous film together.
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