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Wednesday, 16 March 2016 10:34

Bunker mentality '10 Cloverfield Lane'

Small cast thriller packed with frightening intensity

The current era in Hollywood is one of franchises and sequels. Much of the wide-release fare that we see is either a beginning or a continuation of some long-extant property. Multi-movie world-building has become accepted practice and good business.

'10 Cloverfield Lane' is both of and outside of that realm. Deemed a sort of spiritual sequel to 2008's found-footage monster movie 'Cloverfield' by producer J.J. Abrams, the film isn't a direct continuation of that previous film's narrative. It exists in that same type of universe, but it tells a much different story a story all its own.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 09 March 2016 12:37

News from the front Whiskey Tango Foxtrot'

Memoir adaptation shines a light on war correspondence

Moviegoers have long been accustomed to seeing representations of warfare onscreen. The visceral nature of combat makes for a natural transition to film, with plenty of great movies being made about soldiers and the impact war has on them.

The new movie 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,' directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and adapted by Robert Carlock from Kim Barker's memoir 'The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan,' takes a look at a war zone from a different angle that of a war correspondent.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 09 March 2016 09:40

The origin of species Zootopia'

Animated film offers plenty of laughs, surprising depth

It used to be that animated family films were almost solely aimed at younger audiences. For decades, the most beloved films (pretty much exclusively from Disney) were simple stories whose clear targets resulted in movies that were at best tolerable to older moviegoers.

However, recent years have seen animated films become far more layered and sophisticated still plenty enjoyable for the kiddie set, but also offering more complex references and storytelling for the adults in the crowd. Disney's early '90s renaissance started the ball rolling, while the geniuses at Pixar have taken things to the next level over the past decade-plus.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 07:47

Eddie the Eagle' takes flight

Inspirational sports movie a true underdog story

Everyone loves an underdog.

That's why some of the most entertaining sports movies out there films like 'Rocky' and 'Hoosiers' and 'Rudy' and 'The Bad News Bears' focus on the efforts of a scrappy, downtrodden athlete or team to rise above circumstances and achieve greatness.

Published in Movies

Action film marred by bad story and even worse special effects

The first two months of the year tend to offer pretty slim pickings in terms of quality films. The simple truth is that January and February serve largely as dumping grounds for films that, for whatever reason, simply didn't live up to studio expectations.

Yes, there's the occasional outlier 'Deadpool' is Exhibit A from 2016 but for the most part, this is where films are simply abandoned so that they might hopefully just go away. And usually, that's just what happens.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 15:41

A fairly well-run Race'

Jesse Owens biopic a decent effort

I'm a sucker for inspirational movies. I'm also a sucker for sports movies. So an inspirational sports movie is definitely in my wheelhouse particularly if it is also a period piece that tells a true story.

All the pieces are there for 'Race,' a film based on the story of the many obstacles faced by track star Jesse Owens during his rise to fame that culminated in an historic performance for reasons athletic and otherwise at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While it is a bit uneven in spots, the overall effect is an engaging, compelling story that certainly warrants telling to a new generation.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 09:24

The profane perfection of Deadpool'

Film offers crass, clever take on the superhero genre

Considering the current ubiquity of superhero movies, one might think that we're past the point where any of these films might be capable of surprising us. We've got the ongoing Marvel brightly-colored world-building and the DC dark-and-gritty take about to commence what else is there?

Quite a bit, it turns out.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 09:13

How to Be Single' deserves to be alone

Rom-com attempts edginess, fails to resonate

Plenty of people critics and consumers alike are happily dismissive of romantic comedies out of hand. I, however, am not one of them. There's something inherently romantic about the medium; movies are great vehicles for the telling of love stories. Call them cheesy, call them trite, call them whatever you like they can absolutely have value. They don't always, mind you, but they can.

This is where a distinction needs to be made; I'm talking about WELL-MADE romantic comedies here. There are certainly plenty of terrible rom-coms out there, just like there are terrible examples of every genre of film. Granted, romantic comedy tends to lean into formula and hackneyed tropes more than most, so it's always a delight when a solid one pops up.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 08:59

Zoolander 2' a fashion victim

Too-late sequel neither funny nor necessary

Sequels are inherently subject to the law of diminishing returns. Revisiting the same people doing the same things is almost always going to result in a lesser experience. The degree of diminishment, however, is variable. Sometimes, you get a sequel that stands fairly strong; it's particularly nice when a sequel allows itself to change in a significant way.

Other times, you get 'Zoolander 2.' This wildly unnecessary 15-years-later sequel to 2001's 'Zoolander' has no real reason to exist. The original managed to take advantage of a cast operating at or near the peak of its collective comedic powers to elevate a barely-viable concept into a fun, eminently quotable cult classic. The sequel doesn't.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 13:45

Austen undead Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'

Adaptation of literary mash-up marries gentility and gore

In 2009, writer Seth Graeme-Smith created a sensation with his literary mash-up 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,' a work in which he took Jane Austen's 1813 novel and introduced a rash of zombie-related incidents into the narrative while still maintaining the basic structure of the original story.

After years struggling through the development process, the film adaptation has finally made it to the big screen. Directed by Burr Steers, who also wrote the adapted screenplay, 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' takes two wildly incongruous parts the complex romance of Jane Austen's masterpiece and the lurid pulpiness of the zombie undead and attempts (mostly successfully) to make them one.

Published in Movies
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