As someone who spends a lot of time in movie theaters, I’ve seen a LOT of trailers. I don’t have a problem with that – I’ve always been a fan of previews. These days, my affinity is even greater because I know that odds are good that I’ll be seeing these movies, so it’s nice to know what’s coming.

However, every once in a while, I’ll see a trailer that simply mystifies me. It’s not that I think the movie will be good or bad (though it tends toward the latter) so much as I wonder how the film in question ever came to exist at all.

I got that feeling the first time I saw the trailer for Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” Like – was this a gritty reboot of the classic holiday ballet? What’s the deal with the four realms? Why is Morgan Freeman here? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Alas, the answers I got were less than satisfying – superficially attractive, yes, but ultimately empty. It’s a beautifully wrapped gift with nothing inside, its connections to the supposed source material tenuous at best (you have to love a good “suggested by” caveat).

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 13:07

‘Just Getting Started’ gets old fast

Recent years have seen a proliferation of cinematic subgenres that consist of “old person does X.” Sometimes it works – old guy action movies have become a personal favorite. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t – see the spate of old person comedies awash in hijinks and/or shenanigans. Those are occasionally OK, but for the most part, they tend to be dull, derivative or both, failing to do anything beyond lean on their thin premises and jab you in the ribs while suggestively waggling their eyebrows. 

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 12 April 2017 11:23

‘Going in Style’ should act its age

Old person heist comedy lacking in laughs

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 24 August 2016 10:24

'Ben-Hur' a Biblical bore

Dull, disinterested remake fails to resonate

While there have been a number of successful offerings, the reality is that the summer of 2016 has been marked by a preponderance of underperforming films particularly those that fall into the category of sequel and/or remake/reboot.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 11:33

Now You See Me' a magical misfire

Film's promising start quickly devolves into implausibility

There are always a few films in every cinematic season that I find myself looking forward to. I allow myself to get excited about them, even though I long ago learned that Hollywood feeds on our hope like a shiny, overproduced vampire. And yet the anticipation still rises.

One of this summer's entries on that list was 'Now You See Me.' Despite the lessons I've been taught with regards to movie trailers, I saw this one and was immediately intrigued. A caper movie built around stage magicians? With a first-rate cast? How could I not be interested?

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 14:42

Celebrity Slam - May 15, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

In honor of the recent celebration of Mother's Day, here's a story about a mother and child whose relationship has hit the rocks in a very public fashion.

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is currently embroiled in a dispute with his mother regarding an auction of some of Bryant's sporting memorabilia. Pamela Bryant recently put more than 100 collectibles spanning Kobe's career up for a June auction in New Jersey. She insists that Kobe gave her the items (which include a variety of jerseys, trophies and rings from throughout his basketball career) while also claiming that she has spent upwards of $90,000 on storage over the past five years.

Kobe denies all of this, saying that he intends to give the items to his children.

It has gotten ugly, with accusations flying from both sides each alleging that the other is lying. Kobe's father Joe has jumped into the mix, claiming that he and his wife asked Kobe to take some of the items to his California home a request he says Kobe declined.

As you might imagine, lawsuits have been filed.

It's bad enough that these sorts of family squabbles happen; unfortunately, this is the sort of situation where there can be no winner. While Kobe may well be totally in the right all of these items came from his accomplishments, after all there's no way to get into a p---ing match with your mother and not look like a complete nozzle. Sure, he might want to give this stuff to his kids, but the circumstances sure do make it seem like he's being a jerk.

Meanwhile, his parents look like complete gold diggers by trying to auction off his stuff. It isn't so much the initial attempt to auction the memorabilia they could very easily have thought it was theirs to do with what they liked. No, it's the continued insistence upon selling even after Kobe voiced his disapproval that makes them look like greedy opportunists.

It's sad that an issue like this can rise up and demolish a fragile family dynamic. Regardless of the eventual outcome, these relationships are irreparably damaged.

Happy (belated) Mother's Day everyone!

Best feud ever?

We've got a potential classic brewing right now. It's too soon to say if this particular feud has legs of if it will fizzle out; all we can do is cross our fingers and hope against hope that it gets worse before it gets better.

The two combatants? Zach Braff and Morgan Freeman.

I know I'm as surprised as you are.

Braff has been embroiled in a bit of a controversy lately; the actor took to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to finance a new film project. There has been some backlash, with critics calling out Braff for taking advantage of a resource like Kickstarter rather than footing the bill himself. 

In the process of defending himself during a Q&A session, Braff (for some not-quite-clear reason) brought up Morgan Freeman's recent AMA on Reddit, referencing the belief by many of that site's users that Freeman's vanilla answers were in fact written by a publicist or another Freeman employee.

Freeman's response as captured by TMZ was, as you might expect, kind of perfect. When asked about Braff's calling him out, his response was a simple 'Not the best idea.' Freeman's tone managed to strike a wonderful balance. He made it clear that he knew Braff would wind up regretting his comments while still conveying an air of genuinely not giving a crap.

Look, I like Zach Braff. I think he's a funny, talented guy. But he had to know that the internet boo-birds were going to hit him hard; Kickstarter and sites like it are intended to help those with no other options bring their projects to life. You can't tell me that Braff is without options. But dragging Morgan Freeman into it for no reason other than to try and ingratiate himself to the online masses is dirty pool. It's a low blow against a guy who is the epitome of class.

It's a shame that the big meanies out there think you're a selfish tightwad. So sad that your feelings were hurt, but dragging someone completely unrelated to the situation into the crossfire in an attempt to shed some heat is weak sauce.

Seriously, Zach Braff no one wants you to be a tool, so please stop acting like one.

Published in Celebrity Slam
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 14:07

A beautiful Oblivion'

Sci-fi offering visually striking, narratively hollow

So Tom Cruise has been a movie star for the past 30 years. It was 1983 when he starred in 'The Outsiders,' 'Risky Business' and 'All The Right Moves.' He was launched into the Hollywood stratosphere and has essentially resided there ever since.

So it's remarkable to watch him in a film like 'Oblivion.' It is science fiction that's long on style and short on substance; a fair amount of sizzle with very little steak the sort of criticism that has dogged Cruise for much of his career.

Published in Movies


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