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.
Movie Reviews - Page 3
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.
On the list of uncinematic activities, computer hacking has to rank near the top, somewhere between small-business accounting and taking a nap. It’s tedious, static, and solitary work, and what little’s interesting about it is largely incomprehensible to those without advanced degrees in computer science. In a lesser filmmaker's hands, a hacker movie like ‘Blackhat’ would be terminally boring. But ‘Blackhat’ is in the hands of Michael Mann, and that means it’s also stylish, moody, and punctuated by intense action scenes.
The former CIA operative turned full-time rescuer of his perpetually kidnapped family at the center of the ‘Taken’ series is famous for—as he put it to the men who took his daughter in the first film—a “particular set of skills” that make him “a nightmare” for bad guys. Here now is a partial list of the particular skills Bryan Mills—played by the 62-year-old Liam Neeson—displays in ‘Taken 3’:
In the fall of 2013, APCO Worldside surveyed 70,000 people about the world’s biggest brands. They measured their responses in eight different ways—“understanding, approachability, relevance, admiration, curiosity, identification, empowerment, and pride.” The number one most loved company out of 600 choices: Disney.
It’s kind of a strange thing to write about ‘The Interview’ now, right? Its place in culture will always be defined by the Sony hacks that preceded the movie’s release. Is any other film defined so sharply by events that were out of that movie’s control?