On paper, there’s no way This Is The End should work. There are too many stars and too many wacky ideas for a pair of first-time directors to handle. Six famous actors, each playing themselves (or “themselves”) have to survive the end of the world while massacring some of Hollywood’s A-list? That’s just insane.
Thankfully, movies aren’t made on paper, and This Is The End not only works, it slays. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have written and co-directed a balls-out, unapologetic comedy that somehow balances Hollywood insider jokes with violence, scares and a very sweet center. You’ll be hard-pressed to be find a better comedy this summer.
Read More »
Please Recommend /Film on Facebook
Man of Steel is simultaneously bigger and smaller than you are expecting. What’s bigger? The action. Super-sizing even The Avengers, Man of Steel has more action set pieces and devastating destruction than you’ve probably ever imagined. It’s jaw-dropping, heart-pumping stuff. What’s smaller? The story. Most of the film takes places in a very condensed, focused timeline, giving it an urgency and immediacy lacking in other superhero films. A smaller narrative raises the stakes as well as the emotional complexity.
Zack Snyder has made an epic and heartfelt adventure that successfully reboots the Superman character in a realistic, and humanistic way. Read More »
Monsters University features all the entertainment and heart you’ve come to expect from Pixar, and then some. We meet Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) during their college years, as the company’s first prequel is set years before the events of 2001′s Monsters Inc.
Director Dan Scanlon turns that simple story idea into a great, fast paced college comedy with an intriguing blend of emotional highs and lows. Every single character and moment is played to near perfect effect, leaving the audience dumbfounded at how the movie constantly keeps raising the bar. Just when you think it can’t get better, it does, and you’ll leave the theater fulfilled, but also wildly surprised at where Pixar goes this time around.
Read More »
A Will Smith movie without charisma is like an M. Night Shyamalan movie without a twist. It sounds interesting or different going in, but this one ultimately doesn’t deliver.
Much as Shyamalan made his career on surprise twists, Smith made himself the biggest star in the world by focusing his talent and charm. Over his last few movies, the director has begun to move away from the “twist” hallmark, and with the pair’s first collaboration, After Earth, Smith also forgoes his calling card. The actor’s undeniable charm and screen presence have been completely excised from his portrayal of a cold, fearless military leader. Without that personality to fall back on Smith’s character becomes a personification of the movie: far from captivating and only somewhat watchable.
After Earth begins with a promising story idea — Smith’s character is on a life or death mission with his son – but ends up hollow and disjointed, with questionable choices made all around. It’s a good nugget of a premise that never feels truly developed. Read More »
The Hangover Part III isn’t much of a comedy. It wants to be funny (I think) but there are stretches without even an attempt at a joke. It’s closer to a hallucinogenic drama, decorated occasionally with an bloom of laughter. There are wild moments, but compared to the first two movies this one pushes the needle towards a different form of “outrageous.” (The most conventionally extreme jokes come when a mid-credits stinger scene goes straight for what viewers of the second film jeered: a flat-out reprise of the scenario from the original film.)
The focus this time is Zach Galifianakis as the damaged, nearly deranged Alan. Entitled and abusive, Alan is domineering at home and ever more reckless in the wild. His grossly disastrous attempt to domesticate a giraffe leads to horror at home; soon his wolf pack “friends” from the previous two films unite to stage an intervention. The Hangover Part III doesn’t go very far with the intervention idea, because further trouble takes precedence. A gangster once robbed by Lesley Chow (Ken Jeong) coerces the guys into tracking Chow, and life goes off the rails once more.
Director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote with Craig Mazin, seems stuck halfway between two extremes. On one side there’s a super-dark movie about mental illness; on the other there’s an Id-indulging comedy. In a way that is almost perversely appropriate for a film series about hijacked plans, The Hangover Part III never gets close to either point.
Read More »
“All roads lead to this.” That’s the tagline for Fast and Furious 6 and it’s appropriate on several different levels. The film is the final series entry from director Justin Lin, who picked up a fledgling franchise and carried it into the blockbuster realm. It also marks the culmination of a story that began at the end of Tokyo Drift, when a cameo from Vin Diesel signaled the shift from a set of loosely connected films to a tightly intertwined set of stories and characters.
Finally, Fast and Furious 6 marks the total obliteration of any semblance of reality or logic in the franchise.
Speeding through a city with a huge safe in tow seemed crazy in Fast Five. In Fast and Furious 6 Lin expands the action to absurd proportions, creating set pieces and action beats that defy physics and coherence. Yet it all works to purring perfection. After five movies, all roads indeed lead to this madness. Read More »
Sequels are a tricky thing. In the best cases, they transcend the original work by adding emotional depth and context, elevating the entire story arc. In the worst cases, they’re a carbon copy of the original with perhaps a bigger “wow” factor. Star Trek Into Darkness, like many sequels, falls into the middle ground. It expands and broadens the scope of the original while duplicating most of the elements that were already in place from the 2009 film.
To follow his first Trek revival, director J.J. Abrams has made a much more visually impressive and exciting action film, and one worthy of the Star Trek franchise. It simply lacks the inspiration that made his first film so special.
After the jump, read the rest of this review and see a video blog with some differing opinions. Read More »
Iron Man 3 is a bundle of contradictions. It is light and genuinely funny, yet a vein of deep cynicism acts as the movie’s spine. At times it is gleefully silly, but it indulges ideas that are merely goofy. It wants to reconcile real-world violence into larger-than-life escapism. Yet the contradictions don’t quite break the movie. Director/writer Shane Black and co-screenwriter Drew Pearce understand the mode in which they have to work, and manage to make both impulses live side by side.
Those contradictions give Iron Man 3 a weird sense of pace, and a personality that isn’t quite like any other superhero movie. This isn’t the gleeful candy-colored romp of The Avengers, and I sympathize with any audience thrown by the film’s shuffling rhythm. Shane Black writes and directs movies that walk a fine line between idiosyncratic and mainstream, and many of the director’s impulses (winking narration, in-jokes, the subversion of cliches) are on display here.
Black and Pearce struggle at times to keep all their ideas in the frame, but that struggle alone makes Iron Man 3 interesting to watch. The film’s giddy highs are quite wonderful, and its personal quirks are testament to the power Marvel Studios has accumulated. The film plays loose with characters and ideas from the comics, but in doing so presents a story that is more unique than we have any right to expect from a threequel. In fact, crossover between real and heightened worlds has defined Marvel Comics since day one, and Iron Man 3 may be more true to Marvel’s spirit than any other film.
(Note: Iron Man 3 features a couple big plot elements that shouldn’t be spoiled, and so the following review avoids discussing those elements. I’m not going to say this is 100% spoiler-free, but I’ve avoided the big points. ) Read More »
Cool Posts From Around the Web: