Some franchises leave an indelible mark on you during your formative years, and inspire passionate, lifelong devotion from their fans – but is Jack Ryan really one of them? Given the messy lineage of the character on screen, played now by four separate actors (Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and here, by 'Star Trek Into Darkness' star Chris Pine), not to mention the fact that the films are wildly uneven in terms of quality, it seems like the answer would be no. But, the character’s resilience is apparently as indefatigable as Hollywood’s faith in intellectual property, which is why ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ exists, a dull mishmash of Cold War spy games and ‘Bourne Identity’-style grit which shares much in common with the weakest of its predecessors – especially total forgettability.
A newlywed couple (Allison Miller and 'Friday Night Lights' star Zach Gilford) returns home from their honeymoon with an unexpected pregnancy, but as the husband documents their lives, the pair begin to notice that something isn't quite right with the baby. 'Devil's Due' is the latest entry in the found footage horror genre, and while it does have its fair amount of creative visual effects, the thrills are hardly thrilling in this paint by numbers occult chiller.
If you’ve recently watched Antoine Fuqua’s hard-bitten 2001 cop drama ‘Training Day’ and found yourself imagining what it would look like with a zippy comedic cast and a bizarrely convoluted plotline, Tim Story’s 'Ride Along' is the answer to your oddly specific cinematic dreams. For the latest round of big screen "good cop, bad cop, dumb cop," Kevin Hart and Ice Cube star as diametrically opposed do-gooders with very different ways of getting things done, even as they both rigorously adhere to the letter of the law.
Animated animals have long been used as cuddly, fluffy stand-ins for actual human beings and their fraught interactions, and director Peter Lepeniotis' 'The Nut Job doesn’t break from that tradition in the slightest, using the hungry inhabitants of a sunny park to frame up an allegory about political machinations and maneuvering.
No. Really. That’s what 'The Nut Job,' an animated film about squirrels trying to steal nuts from a local nut shop, is about. Politics.
In the late 1950s, American bodybuilder Steve Reeves somehow ended up in Italy and made a cheapo production of 'Hercules.' It spawned an avalanche of knockoff strongmen films -- some starring Reeves, some featuring a rather malleable new character named Maciste -- and are just wretched examples of boring cinema that, for whatever reason, I ended up seeing quite a bit of as a little kid. But to an 8-year-old back then, sub-Ray Harryhausen special effects and wafer-thin plots still managed to impress. Hey, it was a Sunday afternoon and a color TV.
It's easy to say “they don't make 'em like that anymore,” but the spirit of these garbage movies is alive and well in Renny Harlin's charmingly awful 'The Legend of Hercules.' Starring Kellan Lutz as a block of concrete that has to fake the classic British accent (even though Hercules is Greek), this is boring by-the-numbers dross from the artless Millennium Films, best known for 'The Expendables' films. It has maybe three good fight scenes and two moments that are so over-the-top bad you just have to laugh, and that makes for some undeniable entertainment. The best way to describe 'The Legend of Hercules' is as the fake movie that teenagers in movies go to see.
‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ finds its own entertaining voice for the majority of its slim 84-minute runtime, before giving itself over to the good of the franchise as a whole, sacrificing quality and coherence in the process.
Mr. DeNiro, there are other hobbies.
It's great that you like to keep busy, really. But gobbling film roles and saying “yes” to every single offer that comes to your door as if terrified there will never be another opportunity to go before the camera...this is no way to live. You were great once. You have occasional flashes of greatness still. I know opportunities dry up for older actors, but you must be selective.
'The Wolf of Wall Street,' Martin Scorsese's most dynamic and spry film since 'GoodFellas,' is an up close and personal tour of a snarling den of unchecked depravity. Really, theaters should be handing out bottles of Purel with the tickets. What begins as jovial bad behavior spirals out into an excess and deviance rarely shown on the screen.
There are a handful of extremely funny, laugh-out-loud moments in 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.' One happens early – the reveal that David Koechner now runs a cut-rate fast-food joint that saves money by serving fried bats (or, as he calls it, “chicken of the cave"). Another is a retread from the first film – a battle royale of news teams from various networks, but this time even more extreme. There's also great humor in what I suppose passes for “the point” of this movie – that lowest common denominator attitudes like those of Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy are what inadvertently invented the cesspool of modern cable news.
Of course, what you will find funny is entirely dependent on your own taste, but these highlighted scenes (and several others, I must point out) really landed with me. It struck me later, as I was trying to piece together why the movie felt about six hours long, that these moments were all dependent on gags that could not have been ad-libbed. Ferrell, Koechner, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and the rest of the gang are deservedly respected for their quick-thinking comedy chops. When they get together and riff, few can top them. The problem is that 'Anchorman 2' relies on this far, far too much. It's like a a dessert plate where mounds of fluffy whipped cream obscures the fact that, underneath, there's only a tiny bite of pie.
Technology is a duplicitous wonder: it vastly connects us to people, places, and things beyond our reach, but limits our interactions with the people right in front of us. It allows us an additional layer of protection and evasiveness, while giving us the freedom to be whoever we want to be while hiding behind brightly lit screens. In 'Her,' Spike Jonze imagines a not-so-distant future, that's not just plausible, it's incredibly tangible; its characters -- both human and not -- contemplating what it means to exist, to connect, and to love.