Archive for the 'Recent DVDs' Category
Michael Bay Goes Low(ish)-Budget
After exploding and demolishing everything he could over the past six years with his Transformers films, director Michael Bay decided to scale it back some. The result is Pain & Gain, a low-budget—by Bay’s standards—black comedy based on an outlandish true crime story, which proves that Bay can still tell a story with human characters and not just robots. Well, human may be somewhat of a stretch. The three main characters of Pain & Gain are members of the human race, for sure, but they are so far out there it is hard to imagine them being based on real people.
Based on his own graphic novel, director Joseph Kosinski’s new movie Oblivion is, by all accounts, a post-apocalyptic tale. But just watching the trailer for the movie one can easily find one obvious difference between it and other movies dealing with life after an apocalyptic event: it’s bright! Usually these movies are dark, taking place under a scorched sky as gray as the ash that is constantly falling. That is not the case in Oblivion and you might not even know that a devastating event had taken place were it not for the now mostly buried New York landmarks sticking out of the desert floor.
A Number Deservedly Retired
It’s been nearly 66 years to the day that Jackie Robinson first stepped onto the field as a Brooklyn Dodger, breaking major league baseball’s color barrier, so it’s fair to say that 42 is a movie that is long overdue. It is only the second big screen movie about the life of the only man whose jersey number is retired across all of major league baseball and the first since 1950, when the hall-of-famer was still young enough to star as himself. The film is a relatively safe biography, but a loving salute to a man who faced more adversity in one year than most of us will face in our lifetimes.
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 Waitlisted Effort
For a movie that strives for both comedy and drama, Admission has some good talent both in front of and behind the camera. The movie is directed by Paul Weitz, who co-helmed About a Boy, and it stars Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, two comic actors who have had some decent success in recent years. Unfortunately, in attempting to provide both comic and dramatic elements, the movie ends up somewhere in between the two; giving us neither enough comedy, nor enough drama. The result is a movie that just kind of sits there, giving us very little to take away from it.
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.
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.
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