How many times in your life have you snuck up on someone and scared them? Three, maybe four times? The Lazarus Effect is the kind of horror movie where people do that constantly. It’s basically their standard greeting; instead of “Hello!” they jump on people from behind, sometimes while wearing pig masks. It doesn’t make much sense, but they’re not doing it because it’s logical — they’re doing it because this is a bargain basement horror film and you take the scares wherever you can get them.
It’s been a decade since Will Smith was “Will Smith” onscreen. Sure, he’s made movies in the last ten years; science-fiction pictures, dramas, comedies. He even played Satan, once. But none of them riffed on that classic Will Smith persona that everyone loves; the infectious charm, the seductive smile, the cocky but casual swagger. (What’s that? Men in Black 3? No, they never made a third Men in Black. You must be confused.)
Christian Grey is an unusual guy. He’s the world’s most eligible billionaire bachelor and an enormously powerful businessman. He’s an avid jogger, an exceptional piano player, and a licensed helicopter pilot. He also really like the color gray. He wears gray suits and ties, drives a gray car to his gray office building (which is called Grey House) under gray Seattle skies, where his assistant dresses in—you guessed it—gray. (For the record, his office chairs are white but the couches are gray too.) And, oh yeah, he’s into kinky sex, including bondage, spanking, and domination.
For decades, people have made fun of Roger Moore. Moore starred in more James Bond movies than anyone else, but his entire twelve-year, seven-film run is widely regarded today as a goofy, cartoonish disaster. After Moore retired from the role following 1985’s ‘A View to a Kill,’ the Bond franchise refocused, growing darker and more serious. Now 007 belongs to Daniel Craig, who’s as stern as Moore was cheeky. Craig’s Bonds (and the Jason Bourne movies that helped inspire their solemn tone) have been so hugely successful, that there is an assumption that over-the-top spy movies like Moore’s wouldn’t work in 2015. ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ proves they can.
This is the sort of week that makes a film critic questions their life choices: First, the Wachowski’s choppy, incoherent ‘Jupiter Ascending,’ and now the long-delayed (and likely soon-forgotten) ‘Seventh Son.’ Its trailer boasts that it comes “from the production company that brought you ‘300: Rise of an Empire,’” which is sort of like trying to convince someone to eat in a restaurant because the manager used to work in an Olive Garden. Isn’t January supposed to be the month where all the bad movies get dumped? The clunkers are spreading to February like a fungus.
Episode 415 of ‘Seinfeld’ was called “The Movie,” and it ended with Jerry delivering a monologue about the guy in every group of friends who can’t follow the plots of films and invariably spends them whispering confused questions to their seatmates (“Why did they kill that guy? I thought he was with them? Wasn't he with them? Why would they kill him if he was with them? Oh, he wasn't with them. It's a good thing they killed him!”) ‘Jupiter Ascending’ turned me into that guy. If you can explain the plot of this baffling movie in all of its intricacies, you are either a genius or one of the Wachowskis who wrote and directed it. It’s hard to believe that a movie that contains this much exposition could also be this confusing, but it does and it is. Something went horribly wrong here.
Woe be unto humanity if teenagers discover time travel. That’s the main takeaway from the entertaining new found-footage thriller ‘Project Almanac,’ in which a quintet of adolescents find a time machine, and do exactly what a bunch of adolescents would do if they found a time machine: Party, prank, and screw around with no thought to the consequences of their actions. These kids know and cite ‘Looper’ and ‘The Terminator,’ but the movie they should have paid attention to was ‘The Butterfly Effect,’ because they seem caught off-guard when their innocent misadventures in the timestream begin to ripple out in dangerous ways.
'50 Shades of Grey' has officially been put on notice by 'The Duke of Burgundy,' the gorgeous and glorious sophomore effort from British director Peter Strickland, the vivid mind behind 'Berberian Sound Studio.' A film which features not a single male actor and which examines the ins and outs of a dominant/submissive relationship, 'The Duke of Burgundy' is also an incredibly smart and surprisingly funny relationship drama.
Before he was George Lucas, the guy who changed blockbusters forever with ‘Star Wars,’ he was George Lucas, the guy who changed the way Hollywood used pop music with ‘American Graffiti.’ Though ‘Graffiti’ is maybe Lucas’ seventh most-famous movie, it was hugely influential in its day, and its massive grosses inspired so many imitators it essentially invented a new sub-genre: the radio-hit-scored ensemble coming-of-age movie. 40 years after creating that concept, Lucas returns to destroy it with ‘Strange Magic,’ a high-tech, low-brow update of that formula, with computer-generated fairies and bugs pining after one another over a soundtrack of classic pop songs.
I wonder if Chris Kyle was a Clint Eastwood fan. ‘American Sniper’’s marketing materials describe Kyle as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” but before his military career, Kyle was a cowboy. He wore a hat and boots, and even carried a six-shooter. Eventually, he gave up the cowboy life and decided to serve his country. He was a gifted marksman and trained to be a Navy SEAL. But even as a soldier, Kyle never lost that cowboy swagger—or that sense that someone has to venture out into the frontier and protect the American way of life. That’s what Kyle learned from his father—who raised him to be a “sheepdog,” a watchful protector in a world of sheep and wolves—and from watching violent Westerns like the ones that made Eastwood a major Hollywood star.