Archive for the 'Recent DVDs' Category
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.
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.
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