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Wednesday, 03 October 2012 14:48

Checking in with Hotel Transylvania'

Animated film has thin plot, but plenty of laughs

As a rule, I don't tend to have particularly high expectations going into a kids' movie (Pixar being the exception, of course). So when I started seeing trailers for the new movie 'Hotel Transylvania,' I was on the fence as to whether I would even bother. I mean, Adam Sandler stars how good could it be?

But then I received a vital piece of information. Game-changing information. You see, it turns out that 'Hotel Transylvania' is the feature film directorial debut of Genndy Tartakovsky, the man behind the subversive brilliance of an assortment of wonderful animated series. This is the guy who unleashed 'The Powerpuff Girls,' 'Dexter's Laboratory' and 'Samurai Jack' on the world.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 15:27

No trouble with Trouble with the Curve'

Relationships take the field in this baseball offering

As a rule, I enjoy most sports movies, but the truth is that with very few exceptions, Hollywood has been most successful with films about boxing and baseball. While boxing's visceral brutality is a large part of why it works on film, baseball's advantage is in its inherent romanticism. America's relationship with its pastime allows the sport to work as a framework to explore our relationships with one another.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 15:05

Passing judgment on Dredd'

Remake far surpasses the original

The recent trend in action movies has been toward a sense of self-awareness. These movies take great pains to let the audience know that they recognize their own basic ludicrousness with the occasional wink and/or nod.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 15:05

Rich man's burden

Arbitrage' packed with unsympathetic characters

Hollywood loves movies about rich guys, and with the current economic climate emphasizing the disconnect between the ultra-rich and the rest of us, it's no surprise that we're currently seeing a spate of these types of films. The latest offering in this vein is 'Arbitrage,' starring Richard Gere.

With the possible exception of Michael Douglas, nobody plays a rich guy quite like Gere. So it should come as no surprise that this high-finance thriller features the blandly handsome and generally inoffensive Gere in the driver's seat. My favorite recent line about Gere called him 'one of those actors who seems underrated yet never is in anything good.'

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 14:59

Fifth time is not the charm

Resident Evil: Retribution' a waste of time and money

Even when you're a regular moviegoer, there are always films that are going to fall through the cracks for whatever reason. Maybe you're not a fan of the genre, maybe the trailers turned you off, maybe there was just something better to see regardless, you can't see them all.

When those movies are parts of an ongoing series, it becomes easier to ignore the franchise with each subsequent film, since you're getting farther and farther away from the 'origin story,' as it were. But if you're like me, you eventually give in just to see what the fuss is all about.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 14:26

Words, words, words

The Words' offers story-within-a-story-within-a-story

As a lover of the written word, I was intrigued when I first heard about 'The Words.' The idea of a movie built around the nature of authorship and the siren's song of literary fame and fortune sounded pretty good to me. But then a simple, fundamental question occurred to me - can they actually make this interesting?

For me at least, the answer was 'yes.'

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 14:30

They fought the law and the law won

Lawless' an ambitious attempt that falls just short

The Prohibition Era was a time of outlaws and folk heroes. The government fought and continually lost - a constant battle against the bootleggers and gangsters that arose following the illegalization of alcohol. Their jobs weren't made any easier by a general populace that mostly disagreed with the law and often casually violated it.

This is the world of the Bondurant family, a group of Virginia brothers that rose to prominence through their Depression-era bootlegging exploits. 'Lawless,' based on the book 'The Wettest County in the World' by Matt Bondurant, follows the brothers as they are finally confronted by the law.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 14:10

Hit and Run' more run than hit

Chase comedy has moments, but falls flat

August's end also marks the end of the summer movie season. This means that the last couple of weeks of that month are the repository for many of the studios' also-rans. These are films that don't fit the blockbuster bill, nor do they warrant inclusion in the fall's lineup of more sophisticated movies. Calling it a wasteland is probably harsh, but not overly so.

This is where we find movies such as 'Hit and Run,' a comedy that seems to be the pet project of actor Dax Shepard (TV's 'Parenthood'). By all appearances, this is Shepard's magnum opus not only did he star in the film, but he wrote and co-directed it as well. Heck, he's even listed in the credits as an editor.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:36

A vote of confidence for The Campaign'

Satirical political comedy crass, crude and better than you think

2012 is an election year, so it shouldn't be a surprise to see politically themed movies make the scene over these next few weeks leading up to November. What is surprising at least a bit is who fired the first satiric salvo of the season.

It's Will Ferrell.

You have to call Ferrell's latest film 'The Campaign' a political satire, if only because there's really nothing else you can call it. It's as broad and goofy and crass as anything else Ferrell has done. Throw co-star Zach Galifinakis into the mix and you can expect things to get seriously weird.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:32

A franchise re-Bourne'

Series tries to move forward with new star, story

The 'Bourne' franchise has been incredibly popular over the past decade. All three films have managed to be both commercial and critical hits nine figure box office takes don't combine with rave reviews all that often. Matt Damon's Jason Bourne (loosely based on the novels struck a chord. He was a hero that matched up well with the uncertain, gray-area-laden mood of the first few years of the 21st century.

However, Damon's Jason Bourne days appear to be behind him; he's moving on to other things. But the Bourne brand is still viable; there are a lot of parts to that universe that have yet to be explored.

Published in Movies
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