'A Haunted House 2' did not screen early for critics. On Thursday, I received an email from my editor suggesting that I pay to see 'A Haunted House 2' at a movie theater on Friday morning. I tried using the "but I haven’t seen the first ‘Haunted House'" excuse, but that seemed to have little to no impact on this request. Who knows? Maybe it’s hilarious? On Friday morning, I purchased a ticked for the 10:45 a.m. screening of 'A Haunted House 2.' While watching, I kept a running diary of the events that transpired. It was a fairly miserable experience. Here’s how all that went:
"Nature, red in tooth and claw." - Alfred, Lord Tennyson
"It's like a freakin' Country Bear Jambaroo around here!" - Homer J. Simpson
Disneynature, the French production arm that's probably something of a tax write-off for the gigundo Walt Disney Corporation, is back with another top-shelf family-friendly naturalist film. 'Bears' is their fifth Earth Day-timed title released to theaters (two others went straight to DVD) and it yet again affords us 80 minutes of sitting in a theater muttering "how the hell did they get that shot?"
When I was a young man and the Internet was new, I made the same joke every time I dialed-up and heard those dissonant, scratchy tones. “Chhhhhhh-CHHHHHH-Chhhhhh” my modem would bray, and as soon as there was silence I'd turn to whomever was in the room and conspiratorially say, "all right, we're in."
'Transcendence,' the first feature film directed by Christopher Nolan's longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister, is two straight hours of that “all right, we're in,” with (slightly) updated peripherals. Featuring more technobabble than a middling episode of 'Star Trek: Voyager,' Rebecca Hall and Johnny Depp star as husband and wife computer geniuses who, along with artificial intelligence labs across the country, are attacked by a band of “neo-Luddite” terrorists.
A horror movie has one job really: be scary. Beyond that, most flaws can be overlooked (at least temporarily). 'Oculus,' a horror movie ostensibly about a haunted mirror, has many flaws (not the least of which is that it's a horror movie about a haunted mirror; a tired premise if there ever was one), but it does one thing very, very well: be scary.
A working knowledge of how the NFL’s somewhat antiquated but weirdly compelling draft system plays out is not necessary to enjoy Ivan Reitman’s ‘Draft Day.’ In fact, such a knowledge base may actually prove detrimental, if only because there’s absolutely no way that the majority of what happens on the big screen ever goes down in real life. Reitman’s latest film – a basically light-hearted sports-centric dramedy – takes places entirely on the eponymous day, following the various highs and lows of a struggling general manager, and while it’s frequently quite entertaining, it also seems as if it was created to appeal to people who find football only vaguely interesting (but who like Kevin Costner a whole lot).
Whereas Tom Hanks' Captain Phillips talked, finessed, sweated and went into shock to rescue his crew, Chris Evans' Captain America jumps onto a hijacked boat from a helicopter without a parachute. His liberation of a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel captured by international terrorists involves flinging himself across the deck; a human pinball with terrorists as his easily neutralized bumpers. Make that a super-human pinball, because as much as Steve Rogers maintains his golly shucks good nature, he is, after all, a Marvel superhero and he's here to save the day in the most preposterous and camera-ready fashion that's possible. Welcome to 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'.
Here's a tip. If you and your bros ever decide to “never stop filming,” reconsider. Not the filming – make the most of that graduation present – but whatever epic trek you are about to take. Something unsafe, and perhaps undead, is about to happen.
The story of ‘Dom Hemingway’ is a familiar enough one – a tough-talking safecracker endures years in jail, thanks to keeping a locked jaw when it comes to the involvement of his mastermind boss, only to be let loose to commit one last job and do right by his family – but Richard Shepard’s energetic and entertaining spin on what could be just another genre picture, along with star Jude Law’s bold and amusing performance as the eponymous antihero, make ‘Dom Hemingway’ a heist film with its own unique heart.
In the Drug Enforcement Administration of 'Sabotage,' there's an elite task force comprised of douchebags, jackasses, bullies and morally reprehensible goons. They're thrown the tough assignments; When a drug cartel kingpin needs to be brought to justice, John Breacher (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his crew of hot-tempered, maladjusted soldiers storm his suburban fortress, pop two in his head, and beeline to the nearest dive bar for one-dollar Budweisers. When an unknown assailant starts picking them off one-by-one, it's hard to feel too bad for the band of brosefs.
The story of Noah as it is written in the King James Bible is about three pages. If you want to Google it, read it, then come back to this you can go ahead. I'll wait here as I continue to stream some of Clint Mansell's spooky and enthralling score to the new Darren Aronofsky film starring Russell Crowe.
Back? Yeah, so, not a whole heck of a lot there. But did you catch the tiny references to things you may not recall from Sunday School? The “giants in the Earth” and the “flaming sword”? These are the pools from which Aronofsky irrigates his 'Noah.' This is, to adopt a phrase, the “old, weird Bible,” and its visual language more resembles 'Lord of the Rings' than any typical sandal epic.