Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

In the Heart of the Sea
The Real Moby-Dick

The last time star Chris Hemsworth and director Ron Howard collaborated, the result was the thrilling racing drama Rush, one of the best movies of 2013. They leave behind the racecars in favor of whaling ships for their next film together, the epic-feeling adventure-cum-survival drama In the Heart of the Sea. It’s the true story of the ill-fated 1820 whaling expedition that inspired the classic novel Moby Dick. The result may not be a timeless classic on par with the novel, but it is still quite entertaining.


Spectre
Bond Gets Co-opted by Dude Bros

Keep in mind while reading this… I love almost all the Bond movies for what they are, from the gritty and serious Craig Bond movies to the ultra-cheesy Moore Bond era. Beyond the specific writing issues below, I also didn’t care for this one because it seemed to be assuming a cheekier tone, which is totally wrong for Daniel Craig’s Bond world. Also keep in mind that I can’t talk about why Spectre stinks without tons of spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading now!


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Game Over

Adapting young adult novels into big screen franchises has been popular in Hollywood for more than ten years now. The Harry Potter movies really started it, while the so-called “craze” really started with 2008’s Twilight. Many of the attempts to take advantage of this craze have failed to find a wide audience, but a few have broken out from the pack to become legitimate blockbuster franchises. The queen jewel of the heap is certainly The Hunger Games franchise, which now concludes with Mockingjay Part 2.


Spotlight
All the Cardinal’s Men

This modern era of cinema is dominated by special effects-laden stories of fictional superheroes saving the world from destruction, but what about the real heroes in this world? They may not have superpowers or wear colorful costumes, but they are heroes because they do their jobs and they do what is right. Fortunately, the movies still find time to tell these stories and because they are about real people and real events, they are often even more fascinating than those big-budget action spectacles.


Our Brand Is Crisis
Political Advertising

A story about campaign strategists and the lengths that they will go to get their candidate elected could not come out at a much better time. Although the presidential race in the U.S. won’t conclude until next year, the race for the party nominations are currently in full swing. Unfortunately for the candidates, Our Brand Is Crisis is not going to do any favors for them when it comes to inspiring confidence that everything we read and hear about our candidates is on the up and up.


Room
A Locked-In Drama

The new kidnapping drama Room starts out just like most of those enclosed space thrillers that take place almost entirely in a single location, but it quickly becomes so much more. Thanks largely to the terrific lead performances by Brie Larson and 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay, Room becomes a powerful emotional drama that hits all the right beats. It won’t be for everyone, though. It is a hard-hitting drama that never tries to be a crowd-pleaser.


Steve Jobs
Fast-Moving, Fast-Talking Biopic

The screenplay for the new biopic Steve Jobs was written by Aaron Sorkin, so it will instantly draw comparisons to 2010’s The Social Network, another movie written by Sorkin about a major personality in the world of computers and the Internet. In fact, Social Network director David Fincher was originally attached to the project that was eventually taken on by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle. The comparisons between the two movies are warranted for more than just their shared screenwriter and similar subject matter, though.


Bridge of Spies
The Story of an American Hero

In his last movie, Lincoln, acclaimed director Steven Spielberg told a story about one of the most famous figures in American History. In his next film, Bridge of Spies, Spielberg introduces us to another American hero: James B. Donovan. Unlike Abraham Lincoln’s accomplishments, Donovan’s are not that well known amongst the general public. Fortunately, that’s about to change, because there is no better way to get your story out there than to have it told by Hollywood titans Spielberg and Tom Hanks.


The Martian
Castaway on a Deserted Planet

Author Andy Weir first self-published his novel The Martian as a free online blog, before creating an Amazon Kindle version at the request of his fans. The Kindle version instantly became a best-seller and before long, Hollywood came calling. The book has been described as something of a cross between Apollo 13 and Castaway and that comparison is even more readily apparent when it comes to the film version. Don’t mistake that for meaning that the movie feels like a retread, because it doesn’t; far from it, actually. The Martian definitely stands out as an exhilarating experience on its own and is easily one of the best movies of 2015.


Everest

Given the hundreds of films I’ve reviewed, I am absolutely flummoxed that I have never before covered 1998’s IMAX film Everest. To start with, I’m a mountaineering literature junkie. Further, the film stars Ed Viesturs, who is to mountaineering what Aaron Rodgers is to football. And to top it off, it’s pure documentary footage of the most absorbing high-altitude tragedy in the history of mountaineering. What couldn’t have been planned, and what no one expected, was that the IMAX team would be on the mountain during the catastrophic events that claimed the lives of eight climbers from three other expeditions on their summit day.


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