I guess there is something to be said for a Disney film like Planes: Fire & Rescue that does not try to go for the modern Disney approach of being a film for everyone, rather than just kids. While there is nothing about this theatrical sequel to a film that was originally supposed to go straight to video that makes it essential viewing or even all that innovative, there is also nothing here that really makes it unwatchable either. I may have some quibbles over the implied lessons that Dusty Crophopper learns at the end of this film, but it really makes no difference, as Planes: Fire & Rescue is kiddy stuff, through and through, which is not a bad thing, just something to take into consideration.
Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category
The only thing more complicated than the time traveling plotline of the original Planet of the Apes franchise is realizing that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the reimagining of the fourth film in the previous franchise, which took place before the first film, chronologically. Relieving the stress of such complications is the fact that ‘Dawn’ may be the 8th film in a long running series of ‘Apes’ movies, but it stands very close to the top, nearly outdoing the Charlton Heston classic. This is a summer movie that is not afraid to embrace the idea of keeping the damn dirty humans in second tier positions, while Andy Serkis, the other actors, and the fantastic visual effects team at Weta Digital do tremendous work at not only creating what appears to be living, breathing apes, but well-developed and empathetic characters. Along with a clever script and some ace direction, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is another very strong entry for the 2014 summer season, let alone a fine sci-fi spectacle.
If the year 2011 taught us nothing but the fact that good things can come from rebooting a beloved franchise, then I’d be alright to call it a day right then and there. Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever conjured up the belief or the cohones that the quirky Planet of the Apes franchise could ever be resurrected after that feeble attempt by Tim Burton (I really wish they could have went through with the Adam Rifkin script) way back in the summer of 2001 before our economy took a crap and I have been broke ever since because of low interest rates. However, I digress. We are not here to discuss our nation’s economy because if the fictional ape character of Caesar was real, I have no doubts that it would thrive once again under his direction. All hail Caesar, right? Exactly! That’s exactly the sentimentality I want you to have over the course of the next five minutes or so as I birth into your mind a world dominated by apes, or at least on the cusp of that becoming so in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Continue reading ‘Caesar Reigns in ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ (Movie Review)’
There seems to be a scale of how well movies can depict the passage of time with the characters we are following. We constantly see films that effectively (or ineffectively) make us of makeup and other effects to convey a certain age of a character, let alone simply using different actors, based on time jumps. Writer/director Richard Linklater has gone a different route. Rather than using traditional, physical tools to convey the lengthy period of time that Boyhood covers, he worked with the same actors for a 12 year period to deliver a unique and ambitious project. As a result, we see a story about family and change and growth and many other things that make up life from a personal perspective. It was a wonderful idea that has turned into an equally wonderful film.
Roger Ebert was a force to be reckoned with when it came to film criticism, and I was very saddened by his death in April, 2013. The documentary film Life Itself, an adaptation of the late film critic’s memoir and a look at the last few months of his life, puts his story front and center, with no one more fitting than Steve James (director of Hoop Dreams, one of Ebert’s favorites) to be the one to direct the film. The film is rife with stories and insight about the life of Roger Ebert, as far as his career as a writer and onward goes, with plenty of interviews to back up a truthful look at a man who was not perfect, but certainly a huge influence and impressive figure when it came to what he accomplished. This is a documentary for many film fans, as they may not have been shaped by Ebert’s film criticism, but it has certainly been a factor, while he had his time to say something about cinema.
The biggest question I have about Deliver Us from Evil, a film that mixes a police procedural plot with exorcism, is why have it released on July 4th weekend? I understand counter programming and all, but a grimy, R-rated horror feature does not exactly seem like the choice for Independence Day, regardless of producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s name being attached to the film. That said, whether or not audiences flock to see HULK and Carlos the assassin exorcise the demons on its opening weekend, Deliver Us from Evil has a neat setup that feels like a throwback detective story fitted with effective atmospheric direction from Scott Derrickson.
It is unfortunate that Tammy does not quite work overall. Here we have a character-based, R-rated comedy, featuring a large number of female characters, with ideas that extend beyond big-budgeted set pieces, and it is arriving in theaters just in time for the Fourth of July. Melissa McCarthy fans may certainly enjoy the opportunity given to her and her husband, Ben Falcone, who directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay with McCarthy, but perhaps not those who are expecting a traditional slapstick comedy. Or maybe it is the other way around. What Tammy has in character exploration and some actual pathos, whenever McCarthy settles down with her antics, it loses whenever the film amps up its randomness, certain comedy routines, and disjointed plotting. It makes the film an interesting watch, just not one that I found entirely worthwhile, as a whole.
I enjoy science fiction stories quite a bit. Whether it ranges from plausible ideas regarding the future of our current society or to things a bit more abstract, I love the creativity on display. This especially goes for sci-fi films, which allow a large number of filmmakers, actors, production designers, etc., to develop worlds, stories, characters, and concepts, in an effort to put something truly audacious into the theater for people to enjoy. Sometimes that works out quite well, sometimes it is okay, and other times it can be forgettable. Snowpiercer is the kind of film that sits near the top of the pile. It combines skilled filmmaking, big ideas, and some fine, warp-minded writing to create a feature fully prepared to be entertaining, strange, darkly humorous, and plenty of other things that all make it rather brilliant.
How does one approach reviewing a movie like Transformers: Age of Extinction? It ultimately does not matter too much, as this Michael “Boom Boom” Bay-directed franchise has no real problem turning a profit, even while critics and a certain percentage of audiences chuck nothing but garbage its way. This is the fourth installment of the series and while all of the human actors from the past three films have been tossed aside in favor of a new cast, Michael Bay has not moved away from what he has done in the previous installments. There is some directorial evolution, sure, but this is still an overlong exercise in big-budgeted spectacle. Really though, it comes down to what I expected to see and the film with a poster that features one robot riding on the back of a dinosaur-shaped robot gave me a pretty big clue of what I was in for.
Let it be known before we get started here that I wanted nothing to do with this fourth film in the Michael Bay Transformers franchise. The last two, minus seeing Megan Fox and her clubbed thumbs in the second film, were absolute crud. How many times can we see the same story repeated over and over again? Decepticons come down and want to destroy the Earth. Big effing deal! Yawn. I have seen it all before. And from the looks of the trailers that have aired, going into this one, I expected more of the same with just a different looking cast. However, the curator of toys in me really couldn’t pass this press screening opportunity up to see if Michael Bay got any better in the storytelling department or not. One thing for sure, Bay won’t let you down in the hot women department. With 19-year old Nicola Peltz taking center stage, Transformers: Age of Extinction had at least that much going for it before the lights even dimmed Tuesday evening. Continue reading ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction – The Bowel Movement (Movie Review)’
Sometimes the strength of an ensemble can outweigh the bad ideas some have, as far as how to continue on with a film that had no real need to continue. That almost works here. 2012’s Think Like a Man was somewhat of a surprise hit, with Kevin Hart beginning to break out big, and a likable cast that many seemed to respond to. Now it has a sequel, with the word “Too” added to the end, which rarely bodes well for any movie. The cast returns, Hart’s role has been amped up, and some laughs are there, but the film feels too loose for its own good. Think Like a Man Too has all the energy, but wastes it on easy jokes about its Las Vegas setting, stepping away from anything more poignant.
I suppose it comes to no surprise that the soundtrack to Jersey Boys, the Tony Award-winning-jukebox musical-turned movie, is a good one. Bringing on many involved with the original show led to some solid vocal performances that really let the scenes featuring The Four Seasons and others show off their singing abilities. I only wish the rest of the film had the kind of spark that made me enjoy scenes of songs that I have heard plenty of times before being performed. It was nice to see director Clint Eastwood head in a different direction for the kind of film he wanted to make, but unfortunately his old school talents did not really assist bringing this old school group onto the big screen.
The Signal is the kind of movie I want to support, despite finding some issues with it. It is an original science fiction story with mysterious aspects that unfold as the film goes along in ways that I found consistently engaging. The film ends up biting off a bit more than it can chew, but there is clear ambition in the filmmaking that I was happy to admire. I would not quite say that the style is placed over the substance, as it amounts more to needing to evolve as a screenwriter and a director, but I really dug what William Eubank was going for with this film.
The boys are back, but not up to a whole lot that is new. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum made good the first time around, as their unlikely pairing made for an even more unlikely success with their comedic take on the 80s undercover cop series, 21 Jump Street. Now we have the sequel, fittingly named 22 Jump Street, which follows our heroes to an undercover assignment, where they must pose as college students, but things do not feel all that different from the first assignment/film. The jokes are there, the chemistry is still strong, and the self-awareness of being a sequel is fun and all, but I did not walk away having that same level of enthusiasm that I had for the first go around.
It is amazing how things work sometimes. How To Train Your Dragon gets credit for being a sleeper success, as many were not thrilled by the marketing, but it ended up making big bucks and spawning a whole franchise (sequels, TV shows, etc.). I was actually quite intrigued by the trailers for the first film and the amazing reviews set my hopes even higher, yet I was only just okay with the first installment, despite its mature story and fantastic sense of filmmaking within the bounds of an animated feature. Now we have How to Train Your Dragon 2, which I found to be immensely entertaining and satisfying on pretty much every level. This is a film that capitalizes on what made the first film work and completely expands upon the world introduced to us the first time around in an effort to make a truly worthwhile sequel that could satisfy nearly anyone.
It should be no surprise to anyone that the dynamic duo, hilarious tag team of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, are back on the big screen reprising their respective roles from 2012 in the appropriately titled 22 Jump Street (I’ll expand upon that more down below). I last talked about 21 Jump Street in my Blu-ray review over here in 2012 and I’m happy to report that I still have not seen a single episode from the original television series, but I’ve studied enough pop culture and seen enough comedies to pick up on references here and there. I’m smart like that. However, make no mistake. I wasn’t looking forward to this one very much. Like the sequel to the original Hangover film I had my doubts and wondered if this second outing would simply be a cash grab with the same story, etc. set in a different locale. Even if it was, I’d probably laugh, but I’m a movie critic and I want more. I deserve more. Hear me roar! So the question that really matters is did I get what I was looking for? Oh yeah! I got that and so much more! Continue reading ‘Jump Across the Street to ’22 Jump Street’ For a Jumping Good Time! (Movie Review)’
While I tend to be a very impatient fellow who’s always wanting something else as fast as it can be handed to me, there are some things worth the wait. There are such things as the perfect film. Lightning can surely strike the same place twice. And for those reasons and so many more, that’s why were gathered here today. We’re here today to discuss my favorite film of 2014 thus far, How To Train Your Dragon 2. Quite frankly, I don’t care if I ruin the rest of the review by bestowing my feelings upon you this early within. How To Train Your Dragon 2 was about as perfect as they come in my opinion, a film the whole family (young and old) can rally behind and truly enjoy. The filmmakers broke the mold when they crafted the first one in 2010 and this second one is “the Holy Grail” or The Empire Strikes Back of which all sequels should strive to live up to. It really doesn’t get any simpler than this. Now that the origin story was told some four years ago, there’s a whole new world to explore within How To Train Your Dragon 2 and let me assure you, the stakes have never been higher. Continue reading ‘Fly High And Soar Through The Heavens With ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2′ (Movie Review)’
At this point, Tom Cruise does not need to be defended for doing what he is good at. The guy works incredibly hard to make movies that entertain audiences, fully committing to roles that may not require him to break out of a certain character type, but that’s why he’ s a movie star and not a character actor. Clearly he saw something in the script for All You Need Is Kill (now titled Edge of Tomorrow) that he felt would go well with the other sci-fi films in his filmography, because this did not look like an easy movie to make, yet it continues to add credence to his status as a huge sci-fi geek (I mean the dude actually believes in aliens). Edge of Tomorrow is inventive, witty, fun, and many levels of awesome, all rolled up into one fine summer movie package. If that’s not what you want from a summer action movie, Tom Cruise surely isn’t the one to blame.