Wednesday, 14 September 2011 05:38

The rapid spread of 'Contagion'

Written by Allen Adams
Film offers realistic possibilities of pandemic

Hollywood has been in love with the idea of the disaster movie for decades. The potential for huge, effects-laden blockbusters is obviously a temptation for studios looking for big box office receipts. However, these efforts tend to be hit or miss.

"Contagion," directed by Stephen Soderbergh ("The Informant!"), might just be the biggest hit in recent memory.

The film offers a glimpse at what might happen if a new disease emerged, a disease that is easily transmitted, incubates quickly and constantly mutates - and is fatal in as many as a third of the people it infects. Lynn Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow, "Country Strong") returns from a business trip to Hong Kong feeling a bit under the weather, only to see her health quickly fail. Her death, as well as the death of her son, greatly impacts her husband Mitch (Matt Damon, "The Adjustment Bureau") - one of the lucky people who prove naturally immune.

Wednesday, 07 September 2011 05:38

Bad moon rising

Written by Allen Adams
'Apollo 18' offers different kind of thriller

When you hear about a film's release date being pushed back multiple times despite being completed, it raises an eyebrow. It's the same thing when you hear about a film not being screened in advance for critics. And if both of these scenarios apply to the same film?

It's not looking good.

Such is the case with "Apollo 18," a science fiction thriller born of the "found footage" genre. The movie purports to have been edited together from 84 hours of mysterious confidential NASA recordings uploaded to a conspiracy website.

Wednesday, 03 August 2011 05:38

Crazy, Stupid, Good.

Written by Allen Adams
Romantic comedy best of summer

Love is hard. That's what almost every romantic comedy would have you believe. Love is hard - for a while. There will be obstacles that are inevitably overcome and everything works out and love wins in the end.

Where "Crazy, Stupid, Love." differs from its rom-com brethren is in the way that it shows that difficulty both honestly and humorously.

It's the story of Cal Weaver (Steve Carell, "Dinner for Schmucks"), a man in his early 40s whose wife (Julianne Moore, "The Kids Are All Right") surprises him with a confession of infidelity and a request for a divorce. Cal moves out and finds himself falling in with the womanizing Jacob (Ryan Gosling, "Blue Valentine"), who takes Cal under his wing and helps him find his way in the new dating world.

Meanwhile, the Weavers' 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo, "Choke") is in love with the babysitter, Cal's wife may or may not be falling for a co-worker, Jacob may or may not have met the woman of his dreams (Emma Stone, "Easy A") and it's all very complicated.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 05:38

On the hunt with 'Trollhunter'

Written by Allen Adams

Every once in a while, I see a movie that just blows me away. These are the movies where I walk in with high expectations and have those expectations met...then exceeded. Movies that are great in ways both predicted and unexpected.

Which brings me to "Trollhunter."

"Trollhunter," which is out on DVD this week and had a well-attended screening during the KahBang Film Festival, is the story of three college students traveling through Norway in order to make a documentary about a bear poacher. Things take a decided turn, however, when they discover that Hans, the man they seek, is not a bear poacher but rather a troll hunter - and a government-licensed one at that.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011 05:38

Maid of Honor

Written by Allen Adams
Period piece tells tale of racism, relationships

Movies with messages tend to be few and far between in the summertime, in these months of romantic comedies and CGI explosions. So when you see one - even one as deliberately saccharine as "The Help" - it warrants mentioning.

"The Help," adapted from Kathryn Stockett's novel by Tate Taylor (who also directed the film), is the story of one woman's attempt to tell the story of 1960s Jackson, Mississippi's black/white dichotomy from the point of view of "the help" - the multitude of African-Americans who cooked the meals, cleaned the houses and raised the children of Jackson's white families.

Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan (Emma Stone, "Crazy Stupid Love") is an aspiring writer who has returned to her Jackson home fresh out of college and looking to make her way. As she finds herself questioning the racist attitudes of those around her - especially childhood friend Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard, "Hereafter") - she decides that she wants to write a book telling the stories of Jackson's maids.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011 05:38

Changing things up

Written by Allen Adams
"The Change-Up" has dirty mouth, warm heart

It's been a few years since the heyday of the body-switching comedy. Films such as "Vice Versa" and "18 Again" flopped in the 1980s, while Lindsay Lohan's half-hearted "Freaky Friday" remake and Zac Efron's execrable "17 Again" are of a bit more recent vintage. However, Hollywood had yet to project its current crass, gross-out sensibility onto one of these types of films.

So now we have "The Change-Up."

This film revolves around two best friends. The first is Dave (Jason Bateman; "Horrible Bosses"), a workaholic family man who is driven to make partner at his law firm and make the best life possible for his wife (Leslie Mann; "Funny People") and kids. The other is Mitch (Ryan Reynolds; "Green Lantern"), an underemployed actor who spends most of his time getting stoned and picking up wildly unbalanced women.

Monday, 24 October 2011 08:52

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Written by Wire Reports
Johnny Depp returns to his iconic role of Captain Jack Sparrow in an action-packed adventure. Crossing paths with the enigmatic Angelica (Penlope Cruz), he's not sure if it's love or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. (Disney Pictures)
Monday, 24 October 2011 08:41

The Three Musketeers

Written by Wire Reports
The hot-headed young D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) joins forces with three rogue Musketeers (Matthew MacFadyen, Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson) in this reboot of Alexandre Dumas' story. They must stop the evil Richlieu (Christoph Waltz) and face off with Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) and the treacherous Milady (Milla Jovovich). The action adventure is given a state of the art update in 3-D. (Summit Entertainment)
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 11:24

Cut loose with Footloose'

Written by Allen Adams

Remake fun, but flawed

The current Hollywood trend of remaking movies can be frustrating. It seems unlikely that all of the good ideas have been taken; there are still plenty of wonderful, original films coming out all the time. Despite that, studio executives have clearly decided that what people want is what they've had before.

Those sorts of decisions are what result in 'Footloose.'

It's a remake of the quintessentially 80s film of the same name starring Kevin Bacon as a city kid who comes to the sticks with something to prove and John Lithgow as the small-town preacher who blames dancing for all the ills of his town's youth.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 11:18

'The Big Year' not for the birds

Written by Allen Adams

Comedy driven by performance, plumage

Of all the hobbies that one might choose to make a film about, bird-watching would seem to be fairly low on the list. There would appear to be nothing truly dynamic inherent to quiet guys quietly picking their way through the woods and watching birds - quietly.

However, 'The Big Year' would beg to differ.

It's the story of three men who have decided to attempt what is known in birding circles as a 'big year.' The gist is that you try to see and catalog as many different species of birds (in North America) as you can in one calendar year. The person who puts up the biggest number is acknowledged as the world's best birder.

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