Lucy: A dumb movie made by smart(?) people

Lucy_posterI don’t have terribly high expectations of writer/director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Professional). He’s a stylish director capable of delivering slick action scenes, but his movies are always kind of undercooked, plot-wise. The Professional stands out as a movie that still hangs together today, though it does retain its share of weirdness, but generally, Luc Besson is a messy director. So it’s not a surprise that his latest, a techno-thriller starring Scarlett Johansson as the titular Lucy, is a messy movie. What is surprising is how very dumb Lucy is.Continue reading “Lucy: A dumb movie made by smart(?) people”

The Purge: Anarchy is B-movie fun with delusions of grandeur

PG2_31_5_Promo_4C_2F.inddLast summer The Purge was a surprise sleeper hit. On a $3 million budget, it made over $89 million worldwide, so a sequel was immediately ordered. Now, just one year later, that sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, is in theaters, which is kind of impressive (super speedy turn around), but would be more so if the script wasn’t 87% people whisper-yelling “get down!”, “stay back!”, and “follow me!”. Still, The Purge: Anarchy is dumb B-movie fun, as long as it’s not getting up its own ass with socio-political commentary. Movies like this don’t need to be smart, they just need to be entertaining, and The Purge: Anarchy is, if nothing else, entertaining.Continue reading “The Purge: Anarchy is B-movie fun with delusions of grandeur”

Best of the Summer 2014: Snowpiercer

snowpiercer-international-posterIt’s not like this is a hard call. Summer 2014 is some weak-ass shit, as far as movies are concerned. The best movie up till now was X-Men: Days of Future Past, a well-made and very fun movie that made no fucking sense. But now it is now, not then, and now we have the first—only—truly great summer movie of 2014: Bong Joon-ho’s long awaited Snowpiercer. And boy oh boy, it’s a DOOZY.

The rest of the world got Snowpiercer last year, but thanks to Harvey Weinstein and his Scissors of Doom, most English-speaking territories had to wait for it, left to wonder if what we would eventually see would be Bong’s vision or Harvey Scissorhands’ trimmed down, dumbed-down edit. The good news is that Weinstein, after a protracted, played-out-in-the-press battle, gave up and agreed to release Bong’s original cut. The bad news is, he opted to give Snowpiercer a drastically reduced limited release and then proceeded to do no promotion for the movie. It would live or die by word of mouth, but this is a great movie, and word of mouth has been great, which is translating into solid box office. Justice!Continue reading “Best of the Summer 2014: Snowpiercer”

VOD Review Double Shot: They Came Together & Trust Me

I’m way behind on reviews, so I’m going to be doubling up on demand reviews for the next couple weeks. Never let it be said that there’s nothing good to watch! Good movies are everywhere, you just have to…sit at home and push a couple buttons. Seriously, it’s never been easier to access quality cinema.

They Came Together

ETA: This movie gets better on repeat viewings.

TCT-poster2001’s Wet Hot American Summer is, as far as I’m concerned, a comedy achievement along the lines of Spinal Tap. It’s not quite Spinal Tap (NOTHING IS SPINAL TAP), but it’s pretty close. Written by Michael Showalter and David Wain, and directed by Wain, Summer is like a time capsule, except it wasn’t memorializing the past but predicting the future. Look at the cast: Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Elizabeth Banks, Bradley Cooper, H. Jon Benjamin (the immortal voice of Sterling Archer) voicing a can of vegetables, Michael Ian Black—it’s a who’s who of today’s top comedy performers and writers. It’s also incredibly funny and actually quite touching.Continue reading “VOD Review Double Shot: They Came Together & Trust Me”

Trans4mers is a three-hour bout of audio/visual diarrhea

transformers_age_of_extinction_movie_posterI don’t give up on filmmakers and I want every movie to be good, which is why I saw Transformers: Age of Extinction (aka Trans4mers). (The only other possible explanation is that I have lost my goddamned mind.) Michael Bay is, despite the overwhelming shittiness of his recent filmography, actually a talented director. He has a distinctive visual “voice”, he’s a true technician—he does his own camerawork, which few directors do anymore—and he cares about making movies that are fun. (Although there is a signature Michael Bay Up-Angle Shot that is so steep it looks like he actually laid the camera on the ground and filmed straight up his actor’s nose, a hilarious piece of camerawork.) Bay isn’t trying to be Orson Welles or make Citizen Kane, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s honest in his intentions, at least.Continue reading “Trans4mers is a three-hour bout of audio/visual diarrhea”

Edge of Tomorrow: Not original or smart

Edge_posterI am concerned about all the critics calling Tom Cruise’s new movie, Edge of Tomorrow, original. First and foremost, it’s adapted from a Japanese graphic novel, All You Need is Kill, so it’s not original. It’s an adaptation. But second, there is actually a list of cinematic influences preceding Tomorrow. The obvious one is Groundhog Day, but also Source Code and Looper, all of which actually ARE original stories. I am also concerned about critics calling Edge of Tomorrow good. Because it’s not. At best, it’s a competently made action movie that’s boring as fuck.Continue reading “Edge of Tomorrow: Not original or smart”

Wishing for a better Maleficent

maleficent-imax-posterThe movie, that is. There was nothing wrong with Angelina Jolie’s performance as the classic Disney villainess of the same name. In turns ethereal, vengeful, spiteful, sorrowful and funny, Jolie gives one her best performances as Sleeping Beauty’s twisted fairy godmother. And the movie, written by one of The Mouse’s favorite scribes, Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland), is blatantly—almost aggressively—feminist, which is terrific and makes for some legit girl-power moments that had little girls cheering in their seats. It’s just…not very good. And that’s too bad because it was almost an instant classic along the lines of Frozen.Continue reading “Wishing for a better Maleficent”