There's the old quote repeated by John Lennon, "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." '2 Guns,' starring the formidable Denzel Washington and the affable Mark Wahlberg, feels like the type of movie big stars make when they are in-between the projects they'll end up being proud of. '2 Guns' isn't terrible – it's just rare to see a movie content with “agreeable in-flight entertainment” as its highest achievement.
It used to be that if you had a half-assed idea for a movie you'd throw out a premise then tack on “in space” at the end. ("It's just like 'The Magnificent Ambersons' but in space!”) Today, when you've got a flimsy scenario, you can always just tack on “shot found-footage style.” That means low-budget, and it also means a proven track record with the insatiable teen horror audience always looking for something that doesn't require full attention whilst on make-out dates at theaters or on couches.
'Europa Report' tries to do both. It follows a science team who's in too deep (...in space), and it's found footage of the feed beamed back to Mission Control. Nothing in 'Europa Report' is fresh but it does go down easy.
'The Wolverine' is unlike any other superhero ever made. It is, for the first three quarters of its running time anyway, just a “regular movie” that happens to star a guy with magical mutant powers. There have been films that tried to realistically portray what reality would be like if ordinary people put on a cape and mask ('Super' and 'Kick-Ass,' namely) but this reverses it. 'The Wolverine' doesn't show our world with a comic book injection, it shows a comic book world with an injection from our world. And by our world I mean conventional, Hollywood thriller/noir/dramas.
It's a neat trick. But don't get too excited. There are two big issues. One, the “regular movie” at the heart of 'The Wolverine' isn't that interesting – it's a fairly by-the-book tale of corporate corruption, family drama and the mob. Two, there's that final quarter of the film, where 'The Wolverine' craps the bed and slouches toward every comic book movie cliché, most of them done poorly.
The most interesting thing about 'The To Do List' is the fact that Aubrey Plaza isn't a very good actress. No, I shouldn't say that - she isn't what we expect. Truthfully, I don't know if there is another performer quite like her on the scene. She is sardonic and snide, but then incredibly vulnerable. Neither this nor that. She is, dare I say it, something of an individual. More strikingly, she is, at times during 'The To Do List,' among the more accurate portrayals of young womanhood in mainstream American cinema.
This may make 'The To Do List' sound like some sort of heavy film, but believe me, it isn't. It's business model is to do for 'American Pie' what 'Bridesmaids' did for 'The Hangover.' It is meant to be a lewd, but still charming exploration of first sexual encounters from a woman's point of view. "Sex is a big deal, but it's also no big deal," is the surprisingly lucid thesis at the heart of this movie. And, in line with that contradiction, 'The To Do List' is a good movie, but it's also not a good movie.
It should be no surprise that Woody Allen, survivor of a protracted tabloid scandal, should make 'Blue Jasmine.' It's a story of what happens after the headlines, about the emotional aftershocks of big, juicy news and how they affect unexpected people in unexpected ways. This isn't a very funny movie, but its observational instincts are so bright that the scenes evoke laughter, even when the story is actually rather sad. It's one of Allen's best films in years and a silver-plated gift to Cate Blanchett who takes the character and runs with it.
'The Wolverine' is not what you expect. It is very much a self-contained, somewhat “smaller” superhero movie. More straightforward thriller/noir/espionage film than CGI-heavy slugfest. It's less of a surprise, however, when you look at director James Mangold's body of work.
From 'Cop Land' to 'Girl, Interrupted' to '3:10 To Yuma' to 'Walk the Line' to 'Knight and Day' (which I really liked, by the way) to 'Identity' to 'Heavy,' he's had a go at nearly every genre. Now he's teamed up with Hugh Jackman, taking Logan from atop a hermit's mountain to the bullet trains of Japan.
I had the good fortune to speak with Mangold recently, and he really knows his stuff when it comes to movies.
One of the biggest movies of Comic-Con 2013 was 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2,' which brought its first footage to the fans in San Diego. Just before they took the panel, we caught up with Spider-Man himself, Andrew Garfield, plus co-star Dane DeHaan (Harry Osborn) and producers Matt Tolmach and Avi Arad to get the scoop on the upcoming sequel.
Can the 'RoboCop' remake possibly live up to the original? That's the question on everyone's mind and what Sony Pictures was trying to prove when they brought the film to Comic-Con. We checked out the brand new 'RoboCop' footage and spoke to the cast of the film - Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish and Samuel L. Jackson - plus director Jose Padilha to find out what this new 'RoboCop' was bringing to the table.
We who braved the crowds and strange odors of San Diego Comic-Con had the good fortune to see the newest Marvel One-Shot, 'Agent Carter.' The short film is tremendously fun, but also touching, and gives us a little peek into what Peggy Carter did after Steve Rogers crashed his plane in the ice and saved the day from the Red Skull in 'Captain America: The First Avenger.'
Turns out she joined the OSS thinking there would be some adventure and espionage, but her sexist boss (Bradley Whitford) squanders her talents on administrative duties. Until, one night, she gets a call ...
You can check out 'Agent Carter' on the forthcoming 'Iron Man 3' Blu-ray and DVD, but we had the good fortune to speak to her at Comic-Con. And not in the usual press suite, we mean on the floor of the convention center, surrounded by fans. (Hey, time was tight and we made it work.) Below is a transcript of what went down.