To say that the first trailer for Beauty and the Beast was evocative of the 1991 animated classic would be an understatement; it was a live-action carbon copy, and if Disney’s remake of Cinderella was any indication, we were in for yet another tedious — if visually stunning, well-acted and beautifully-designed — exercise in nostalgia-based capitalism. But Bill Condon’s live-action update of Beauty and the Beast is more reimagining than remake, a lavish and lovely take on a familiar tale (as old as time, no doubt) that enriches its source material without betraying it, embellishing a cherished antique with modern ideas.
Movie Reviews - Page 3
Kong: Skull Island may be set in the early 1970s, but it’s clearly engineered for modern sensibilities. The film’s trailer drew comparisons to Apocalypse Now, but director Jordan Vogt-Roberts seems less inspired by Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War film than its iconic poster of a fiery setting sun, an image Skull Island returns to over and over. Even if it bears superficial similarities to Coppola’s classic, it’s little more than A-picture gloss on a big-budget B-movie. Naming one of your characters after Joseph Conrad doesn’t make your film Heart of Darkness; the only thing at this movie’s heart is the (admittedly accurate) belief that when a giant ape punches a giant lizard in the face with a boat motor it looks totally freaking awesome.
Here’s the pitch: two women with grudges from their past reunite at a party years later. Fueled by alcohol and gallons of rage, they start beating the living crap out of each other. I’m not talking about some light hair-pulling or petty slapping; I’m talking full-on rampant violence that would make Quentin Tarantino wince. That’s Onur Tukel’s ‘Catfight,’ a pitch-black comedy and political satire about two women with an insatiable hunger for revenge, where head-butts and punches are their only form of therapy.
The first X-Men movie opened on July 14, 2000. A child born early that year would have just turned 17 by the time the tenth entry in the X-Men series, Logan, hits theaters next month. That is fortunate – viewers are going to need a driver’s license to get into this movie, which possesses the hardest R rating of any American superhero movie in history. In the past, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine would swing his razor-sharp adamantium claws and bad guys would simply fall to the ground. There was never any visible evidence of his brutality. There’s more graphic violence in Logan’s first scene – severed limbs, gruesome disembowlings – than in all of the other of the Wolverine and X-Men movies combined.
The Great Wall has garnered controversy for its white savior narrative that finds Matt Damon, a white dude, saving an ancient Chinese dynasty from mythical monsters. But the most offensive thing about The Great Wall isn’t even the racial dynamic, or Damon’s painfully bad Irish/Scottish accent; it’s that Zhang Yimou, the acclaimed Chinese filmmaker behind Hero and House of Flying Daggers, has managed to make a movie this ugly.
There are few films that scare me as much as The Ring remake scared me the first time I saw it, and the second, and the third. Director Gore Verbinski has knack for crafting menacing atmospheres with stylish visuals, and after The Ring I was afraid to look at TV screens and was disturbed by the mere appearance of Brian Cox in a movie (and once when I saw him in real life). Verbinski brings a similar palette of ominous visuals and eerie tones to A Cure for Wellness, his latest about a spa for the uber-wealthy. The psychological horror thriller isn’t as sharp or as terrifying as The Ring, but its one of the nuttiest and most original horror movies a major studio has produced in years.
Fifty Shades of Grey was so flavorless and forgettable that I actually had to go back and look at my review to see what I thought of it. (SPOILER ALERT: I didn’t like it.) In that regard, Fifty Shades Darker is a very faithful sequel; a milquetoast continuation of a bland romance between two boring people for whom everything always seems to work out. The film goes on long enough that you begin to understand what it feels like to be punished by a self-described sadist like Christian Grey.
In 2014, a pair of veteran stunt coordinators introduced the world to John Wick, a former assassin who rages out of retirement to seek revenge on the man who killed his puppy and stole his car. With action as sharp and seemingly seamless as the impeccable suits worn by its eponymous protagonist, John Wick reinvigorated a genre bloated with CGI and dominated by implausibly acrobatic vehicles. In 2017, Keanu Reeves is back with John Wick: Chapter 2, a righteous follow-up that’s bigger and maybe not better, but just as good as its predecessor.
It’s a question that has perplexed Batman villains since at least 1989: “Where does he get those wonderful toys?” Finally, we have an answer. The LEGO Store. The one a few blocks from Warner Bros.’ New York offices currently sells at least eight different LEGO Batman sets, all of which appear in various forms in The LEGO Batman Movie. The film is, like The LEGO Movie before it, a feature-length toy commercial — and, like The LEGO Movie before it, The LEGO Batman Movie is far more entertaining than a giant piece of crass commercialism has any right to be.
Cate Blanchett is a force unlike any other on screen. Over the years we’ve watched her bring her vivacity to characters like Galadriel, Bob Dylan, Katherine Hepburn, Carol Aird, and Queen Elizabeth I. If it wasn’t already clear that Blanchett is one of the greatest actors of our time, then Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto will be living proof of her ability to transform into any character she sets her sights on.