Sunday, July 28, 2013
Dir. James Mangold
Typically it's around the time a franchise heads to Japan that it's really reached the end of its creative rope. Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, You Never Live Twice (the Bond film that first went into full on "Austin Powers" camp), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Bad News Bears goes to Japan...the list goes on and on. It's a quick way to instantly make a sequel more "exotic" and lazily make the protagonist(s) feel out of their element. With the simply titled The Wolverine, from Walk the Line director James Mangold, we see our favorite clawed hero lost and brooding in the 'Land of the Rising Sun' in Hugh Jackman's sixth on-screen portrayal of the character.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Dir. Ryan Coogler
Fruitvale Station, from first-time feature director Ryan Coogler, not only swept up both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, but earned Coogler the "Best First Film" award at Cannes. The movie retells the tragic events on New Year's Eve 2009, which ultimately led to the untimely death of a 22 year-old Oscar Grant at the hands of a police officer at the BART train station in Oakland, California. Taking a cue from "one day" films like Do The Right Thing and Gus Van Sant's Elephant, it all takes place within the 24 hours before his death - which ironically happens on the cusp of a new year and his mother's birthday. The story mostly focuses on Oscar as a human being, living life with all his flaws. The results to me were especially effecting considering the ridiculously good timing with the whole Trayvon Martin incident; it's a story that will leave you with a powerful understanding of how unfair the world can be. Damn trigger-happy cops!
Dir. James Wan
The Internet has spoken: The Conjuring is apparently one of the freshest horror films of recent memory. With a solid 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and a better-than-predicted $41 million box office take, it was clear audiences were eating it up. As a self-appointed geek of the genre I could not wait for this film. I'm a big fan of both Saw and Insidious, and I was looking forward to what all the fuss was about. Based on the overwhelmingly positive reactions, I was hoping James Wan would hit it out of the park again, showing us what a true original horror picture can be. Sadly, The Conjuring, besides some unexplored hints and ideas of a better movie, features more cliches and overused scares it will make you want to bash your head against the wall repeatedly. Granted, Wan's technical ability behind the camera is impressive, and the cast gives it their all, but I was simply bored and felt I had seen all of it before.
Friday, July 12, 2013
Pacific Rim Review: Guillermo Del Toro delivers huge-scaled action in this poorly written and acted clobberfest
Dir. Guillermo Del Toro
Guillermo Del Toro, despite having a pretty hit-or-miss filmography, is still one of my favorite guys working in the movie business today. His Spanish-language horror fables are all incredible (from the alt-vampire flick Cronos, to the incredible ghost story The Devil's Backbone, to his masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth) but his American movies usually lack that same level of artistic vision. Pacific Rim is by far his biggest film to date - an ode to Japanese monster movies featuring giant Kaijus from the center of the Earth and huge man-controlled robots sent to fight them. The mechs, called Jaegers, need two pilots to control them using a "neural handshake" where you share all your memories with the other person. Despite that heady concept, for those hoping this would be Del Toro's take on serious sci-fi you may be disappointed. Pacific Rim is like watching a child mash their $180 million action figures together for 2.5 hours.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Dir. Gore Verbinski
The Lone Ranger seems to be on track to be yet another underperforming live action Disney outing. The studio has had some trouble recently, with John Carter and Pirates 4 racking in less than stellar numbers (although The Avengers certainly helped), and this upcoming weekend will likely be dominated by Despicable Me 2. This latest flick had its own share of production problems, with a budget that ballooned up to an estimated $250 million. It got to a point where the director, the actors, and even Jerry Bruckheimer all deferred their salaries by 20% just to stymie the cost. Despite all the issues I remained optimistic; Gore Verbinski knew how to breathe life into a film based off of an animatronic pirate ride and made, in my opinion, one of the best westerns of the past few years with Rango. But even with Verbinski behind the reigns, The Lone Ranger falls disappointingly flat. There are many great ideas sprinkled throughout, but it adds up to nothing in this boring, over-long, over-produced Western checklist.