Archive for the 'Reviews' Category
Boxing is Life
Director Walter Hill is famously quoted as saying that “most Hollywood boxing movies are metaphors” and it is no wonder. A boxer stands there and takes the punches his opponent throws at him and his success is determined by how well he can take these punches while continuing to fight back. We all face our challenges in life and our success is largely determined by how well we fight back against or through those challenges. Fortunately for the rest of us, those challenges usually don’t involve getting punched in the face. The new movie Southpaw follows the boxing-movie-as-metaphor template laid down by the many great boxing films that have come before it. It succeeds, for sure, but it follows that template a little too closely to truly break any new ground in the genre.
Tiny Hero, Giant Results
Avengers: Age of Ultron was more of the same for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the new chapter in the expanded universe franchise offers something new. A new superhero, Ant-Man, is introduced to the same world that is already occupied by heroes like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. His superpower—the ability to shrink down to the size of an insect—takes the franchise to new heights, quite literally. It’s as if Marvel crossed over with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and it is just as fun as that high-concept idea sounds.
He Said He’d Be Back
Whether or not you were ready for more Terminator movies, you are getting them. The franchise rights revert back to its creator James Cameron in 2019 and current rights owner Paramount intends to release a full trilogy before that happens. The first is this summer’s Terminator Genisys, a movie that is both a sequel to the original films and a reboot of sorts. If you thought the Terminator timeline was confusing already, this movie’s time-traveling plot is really going to drive you crazy.
What was that I was saying about An Unexpected Journey not feeling rushed? About the inclusion of songs, in all their silliness and pomposity? About belly laughs and witty homages? Naw. Peter Jackson opens The Desolation of Smaug with a flash-back sequence of Gandalf’s initial encounter with Thorin at the Prancing Pony in Bree. And as the scene opens, just as with the Bree scene in The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson emerges from the darkness munching on an oversized carrot. That’s a fitting metaphor, methinks.
Pixar Plays With Our Emotions
Throughout the entire decade of the 2000s, animation powerhouse Pixar was the king of original cinematic experiences. 2001’s Monsters Inc. was followed by Finding Nemo which was followed by The Incredibles, et cetera, et cetera. All the way through the release of Up in 2009, Pixar was creating high-quality and original new movies seemingly every year. In the current decade, however, Pixar has fallen victim to sequelitis, with 2012’s Brave being their only non-sequel release in the past five years. That changes in 2015, however, as the studio that a desk lamp built plans to release not just one, but two original films. The first is this summer’s comedy Inside Out.
I have to assume that those who really want to know about the Extended Edition of The Return of the King are already fans of Peter Jackson’s adapted Lord of the Rings. After all, would anyone who dislikes Krispy Kremes be interested in merely a bigger Krispy Kreme? I doubt it. And what makes a Krispy Kreme special, so I have been told, is all in the eye of the consumer, as it were. But wait, you say. The Return of the King is no light-as-air confection. And of course I agree, though not everyone would. Further, I suggest that the Extended Edition is as much a different movie from the theatrical version as was the extended Fellowship—as different as a slice of New York cheesecake is from a Krispy Kreme.
How to Train Your Raptor
The original Jurassic Park from 1993 is a legitimate classic, but its two sequels were underwhelming to say the least. They each had individual scenes that were exciting, but on a whole they came nowhere close to the awe-inspiring, majestic thrill ride that was the original. Enter Colin Trevorrow, a director whose only feature film to date, 2012’s Safety Not Guaranteed, as great as it was, doesn’t necessarily scream blockbuster potential. Whatever the producers saw in that movie, however, pays off big time as Jurassic World proves to be the Jurassic Park sequel that we always wanted.
While the extended Fellowship is an epic worthy of being called a classic—taking what was already a fine, effective film and improving it by tweaks and bounds—I did not see much hope for a similar treatment of Towers. While the theatrical Towers proved excellent grist for fanboys, I nonetheless found it tedious at times and oppressive as a whole. Without Jackson’s stunning realization of Gollum, the film would have seemed to me a nearly complete loss. Fortunately for the studio—and the audience—Peter Jackson and crew were at the helm of this effort and not me!
Four Episodes for the Price of One
The Entourage television show had a good eight-year run on HBO from 2004 through 2011, and now, four years later, the series has been adapted into a movie. Well, not really adapted. It’s more like show creator Doug Ellin and company got together and created a four-episode story arc, recruited as many of their famous friends as possible for cameos, and released those four episodes as one feature-length package in theaters. The result is a movie that might not do much in the way of attracting new viewers, but should give its fans an enjoyable way to reconnect with the characters.
Conventional wisdom dictates that movie scripts be designed and function in much the same way as a short story; another apt comparison would be the musical form of the overture.
And just as most stories are short in comparison to J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic, so are most movies mere overtures in comparison to Peter Jackson’s unprecedented cinematic achievement. A running time of three-plus hours certainly allows a design reminiscent of a symphony’s multiple, distinct movements—even, as in this case, the many “false” endings for which symphonies are often criticized.
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