The embargo has finally broken for Pixar’s Inside Out and Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, and you can read the buzz reports compiling the early critical reactions at the links above. I’ve seen both films and have decided to write up my thoughts in a virtually spoiler-free reaction. Hit the jump for my thoughts.
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Mad Max: Fury Road is fearless behind the wheel, a vivid collection of action setpieces unified by a dream of upending the very concept of the action hero. In 1981, director and co-writer George Miller used concepts from Jung and Joseph Campbell to supercharge the image of the screen hero for The Road Warrior, a return to the Mad Max character he created with Mel Gibson, but Fury Road’s version of heroism is even more forward-thinking.
Fury Road implicitly acknowledges that Miller’s old heroic conception may have been incomplete. It pairs Tom Hardy as Max with a woman named Furiosa, played with controlled yet intuitive ferocity by Charlize Theron. He’s the hero as raw energy; she is that energy channeled in a way that might be able to build a society.
With Theron and Hardy in the lead roles and Miller again in the driver’s seat, Fury Road isn’t just good enough to obliterate the lingering sting of the last film (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, released in 1985), but so good that it rivals The Road Warrior and shames all of Hollywood’s current action tendencies. This film develops its own specific ambition by placing dueling concepts about heroism into the framework of one of the best action movies I’ve ever seen. Read More »
If nothing else, Maggie deserves credit for approaching zombies from a whole new angle. While the angst of watching a loved one get infected is a common trope of the genre, it is rarely if ever the main focus of a zombie movie. But as Maggie shows, it’s a premise with great potential. Unfortunately, Maggie also shows there are many ways to sell that potential short. Read More »
Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2015 by Angie Han
There are those who mourn the death of the classic romcom, and those who prefer the genre in its newer, more Apatovian incarnation. Both groups would do well to watch Man Up, a British charmer that has one foot firmly planted in each camp. It’s full of meet-cutes and grand romantic gestures, just like your favorite ’90s classics, but it’s got the grounded messiness and R-rated jokes of a more modern affair. And it absolutely nails the most important aspect of any romcom: a lead couple with chemistry, in this case played by Simon Pegg and Lake Bell.
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For ten movies we’ve been waiting to see an entire movie of the Avengers being “The Avengers.” Sure, we’ve seen some crossovers. We’ve seen what the team could do when aliens invaded. We’ve even seen an alien pseudo-Avengers assemble in Guardians of the Galaxy. But up until Avengers: Age of Ultron, we haven’t seen what would happen if six amazing superheroes spent an entire movie together, working together.
For that reason alone, Joss Whedon‘s Avengers Age of Ultron is satisfying. Beyond that, it a falls a little bit short of its amazing predecessor. When compared to the first film, Age of Ultron is more even, constantly exciting and surprising. There are huge laughs, there’s drama, some real character development, and some absolutely crazy action. That consistency almost makes up for the fact the film lacks the “Wow” moments of the first movie and that brand new feeling we got the first time.
Nevertheless, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a blast. Read the rest of our Avengers Age of Ultron review below. Read More »
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Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2015 by Angie Han
At the end of Mojave, a devilish drifter played by Oscar Isaac poses a question to a jaded Hollywood star played by Garrett Hedlund: “Do you know yet which one of us is the bad guy?” That, I guess, is the question being posed by writer-director William Monahan (The Departed) in this odd thriller. But the question I walked away from was an entirely different one: “What’s the difference between poetry and pretentious pablum?” Read More »
Why are you even reading a Furious 7 review? For most of the franchise’s enthusiastic audience there are only two questions to be answered about the latest sequel. One: does it do right by Paul Walker? Two: how does it continue the development of a film family while simultaneously expanding the scope of the increasingly insane action setpieces established by the previous two films?
Without spoiling specifics, the answer to the first question is that Furious 7 treats the late Paul Walker with more respect than it shows to anything other than cars and frantic punching. The answer to the second is more complicated. Furious 7 is more of a comic book movie than any other chapter in the series, with a few big setpieces and a lot of very repetitive action in between. It squeezes in one-liners, guest appearances and fluid camerawork wherever possible, but the returns are thin for anyone who isn’t already invested in this series. Read More »
In 1981, when Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark was released, everyone was changed by the world of Indiana Jones. However, few changed as much as Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala. The then teenagers decided they wanted to remake the film, shot by shot and did so over the course of the next seven years. It’s a story that’s very well known on the Internet because the Internet pretty much brought it to the masses. The end game of that story is a new documentary called Raiders!, directed by Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen, which not only documents the process and struggles behind the original version of the remake, but incorporates new footage as Strompolos and Zala come back decades later to complete the one scene they were never able to do: the airplane fight scene.
Raiders! had its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival over the weekend and you can continue to read our Raiders of the Lost Ark documentary review below. Read More »
Editor’s Note: This review originally ran during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. We’re rerunning it now that It Follows is in limited release.
Sometimes, the scariest thing isn’t what’s around the corner. It’s what’s right in front of you. In It Follows, writer director David Robert Mitchell has created a simple, perfect, and bone-chillingly terrifying horror conceit that doesn’t need blood or jump scares. It doesn’t even, necessarily, need special effects. In It Follows a normal person, walking, is enough to scare the living crap out of you.
Below, read our It Follows review which will tell you why it’s one of the scariest horror films in years. Read More »