Archive for the 'Recent Releases' Category

The Lone Ranger
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.


The Heat
It’s On

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.


Man of Steel
Reboot: Successful

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.


After Earth
Why Earth?

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.


The Hangover Part III
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.


Iron Man 3
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.


Pain & Gain
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.


Oblivion
Daylight!

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.


42
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.


Room 237
Dissecting The Shining

Watching Room 237 is like listening to the late night radio talk shows where listeners call in with outlandish conspiracy theories that at first sound ridiculous, only to progressively make more sense the longer you listen. The movie that is called a documentary, but isn’t really, dissects legendary director Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror movie The Shining from the perspective of five or six unseen narrators who have seemingly spent their entire lives pouring over the movie looking for hidden meaning. The result is a fascinating analysis of a movie that definitely appears to be more than it seems.


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