Muppets Most Wanted review

The Muppets are nothing if not self-aware, and Muppets Most Wanted opens with a promising joke. Picking up just moments after the last movie left off, Kermit and company launch into a jaunty, toe-tapping musical number that acknowledges all the pitfalls of a follow-up. “We’re doing a sequel,” they sing. “That’s what we do in Hollywood / And everybody knows that the sequel’s never quite as good!”

But all the knowingness in the world can’t save the Muppets from the actual pitfalls of doing a sequel. In the end, Kermit’s early admission feels more like a warning than a joke. Muppets Most Wanted isn’t bad; in some parts, it’s very good. Still, it struggles to match the highs that the first one hit so easily.

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Captain America Winter Soldier review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a big movie. Big in scope, dense in story, and pivotal to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. It continues the story of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), also known as Captain America, as he begins to return to “normal” life after saving the world with some friends in The Avengers. He’s joined by fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), a soldier turned friend Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and a slew of others including, but not limited to, characters played by Sebastian Stan, Robert Redford, Frank Grillo, Georges St. Pierre, Cobie Smulders and Hayley Atwell. Like I said, it’s a big movie.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo do a solid job of molding all these moving parts into a story that, for the most part, makes sense. But even when the story gets a little too complicated and the exposition a bit too wordy, it’s quickly saved by its entertaining action and continual narrative twists. Many of these will change everything you thought you knew about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And I’m not just talking about the two credits scenes. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fun, worthy, if slightly bulky entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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‘Veronica Mars’ Review: The B*tch Is Back

VERONICA MARS

For most of the past year, the conversation surrounding Rob ThomasVeronica Mars has been about the way it was made. Now that the film premiere has finally arrived, though, the talk can turn to what he’s made. In an ideal world, Veronica Mars would serve the dual purpose of satisfying existing Marshmallows, as Veronica Mars devotees call themselves, while making new ones.

On the first count, I can say as a longtime fan (I was one of the 91,585 who contributed to the Kickstarter) that the sequel just about lived up to my expectations. On the second, it’s harder to judge. For all its imperfections, though, it unmistakably delivers in one respect: It left me wanting much, much more.

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Aaron Paul - Need for Speed movie review

Movies based on video games usually suck. They frequently graft dense, stupid stories to the tropes of a given game. In doing so, the soul of the game is lost, and you don’t care about the story, either. Need for Speed, on the other hand, finds a near perfect balance. There’s a story, but it contains just the bare minimum amount of logic and drama to make two hours of near non-stop racing believable.

Aaron Paul‘s lead character, Tobey Marshall, is given a motivation, enemies, and the push of a ticking clock. He pretty much sits behind a wheel for the whole movie, but it’s exciting. From the opening moments, Need for Speed puts the pedal to the metal and never lets up. Read More »

Grand Budapest Hotel elevator

Wes Anderson‘s movies have always felt like kindred spirits to one another. They’re films made with similar visual styles and tonalities; stories that could very easily share one universe. His latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, feels that way too, but for the first time Anderson has made a movie about that very concept.

This film is well aware it is the 8th feature film by writer/director Wes Anderson, because here Anderson wants to explore the nature of storytelling itself. The passing down of stories; how stories tend to be similar; the real meaning of originality. He does this by framing the film in multiple layers, Inception style, until we get to the main narrative.

That narrative revolves around dapper 1932 European concierge Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and his trusty lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori), who are involved in murder, sex, robbery, war, skiing, and so much additional wackiness you can’t help but think Anderson is purposefully filling this film with tropes that look like his, but aren’t. And that is most definitely the case. This is, again, a story about how we digest other stories. Anderson’s approach is to make the most un-Wes Anderson movie ever, under the guise of it being the most-Wes Anderson movie ever. As a result he’s made one of the best Wes Anderson movies. Read More »

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

In May 2012, I was invited to a private screening of the Star Wars prequels that had been edited down into one 85-minute movie by actor Topher Grace. I was one of a couple bloggers that were invited the the screening. My report on the Star Wars re-edit went EVERYWHERE. The actor never expected that news of the screening would have exploded in the way that it did.

“Wanna know how many people it takes to set the internet on fire?” Grace asked Chris Hardwick on a recent episode of the Nerdist podcast. “It’s two bloggers, which we happened to invite. I was trending #1 on twitter [and didn't even have a twitter account at the time].”

It was one of those headlines that had “viral” built into every word. Star Wars fans who were disappointed by the prequels were interested to read just what changes Grace had made to the trilogy. Others were just happy to socially share an article about how some actor took George Lucas’ 7-hour saga and was able to edit it down to 85 minutes.

Last week I received an invite to Topher Grace’s next “remix” private screening, this time a re-edit of Steven Spielberg‘s Close Encounters of a Third Kind. Topher Grace even cut a trailer for his CE3K remix, which you can watch embedded below:

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Winter's Tale

Winter’s Tale doesn’t lack for sincerity. It’s genuinely invested in the idea of eternal love, and the notion that everything happens for a reason, and the possibility that miracles are happening around us every day, and it tries its very hardest to sell us on these pleasant beliefs. What Winter’s Tale lacks is sense.

Akiva Goldsman‘s directorial debut is thought-provoking in that it raises lots and lots of questions, but they aren’t of the deep, meaningful, existential variety. Rather, they range from the amusingly trivial (why is Satan wearing a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt in 1915 Manhattan?) to the thoroughly confounding. (Seriously, what is the point of this supposedly epic battle between good and evil?) By the time it was all over, the magical flying horse-slash-guardian angel felt like the most comprehensible thing I’d seen in the past two hours.

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The-Zero-Theorem-Image-01

While we wait for Terry Gilliam‘s new film The Zero Theorem to hit theaters in the US (which will happen… sometime) we’ve got a few new tidbits for you to check out. One is a “making-of” featurette on that film, showing some of the means with which Gilliam, his crew, and stars Christoph WaltzMelanie ThierryLucas HedgesBen Whishaw, Tilda SwintonDavid Thewlis, and Matt Damon brought the story’s weird vision to life.

Even as that movie moves towards theaters, Gilliam is really going back to shoot The Man Who Killed Don Quixote once more. He’s scorned the idea of using Kickstarter to finance the film when asked about such an idea in the past, but now seems to be more open to the process. Quotes on that are below, too. Read More »

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