Sunday, August 9, 2015
I take no pleasure in piling on a bad movie, but a lot of us who grew up reading "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine," as Fantastic Four was sub-titled for many years, are mystified by the fact that not one of its movie iterations has been successful. It shouldn't take rocket science to re-calibrate the property to reflect what made the Marvel Comics' flagship title and a template for the superheroes that would follow. Take one look at director Josh Trank's version, though, and one starts to wonder if even the team's gifted scientist, Reed Richards (Miles Teller), could work out the formula needed to make Fantastic Four truly live up to its name. Here are four reasons Fantastic Four was anything but:
Friday, July 31, 2015
19 years after Tom Cruise first appeared as super-spy Ethan Hunt in the first entry of the series, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation gives us one of the first indications that the box office star is getting a little old for action films. It's not that Cruise isn't capable of pulling off the abundant stunts littered throughout the film, or at least appearing that he does. Five minutes in, Ethan Hunt is hanging off of the side of an Airbus as it takes off, and the camera is firmly planted on a real-life plane's wing, trained on Cruise dangling from the plane's doorway, not some stunt-man. But it's a silly scene, related to the plot in only the most tangential way, as are most of the other stunt setpieces in Rogue Nation.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Let's forgo all of the groaners about good things coming in small packages and so forth. Ant-Man is a pleasing enough take on the superhero movie that it doesn't need any help, tired jokes or otherwise, from a hack like me. Ant-Man is neither overstuffed epic like the recent Avengers sequel, Age of Ultron, nor clever, brooding thriller a la Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Ant-Man is a perfectly modest adventure about a man out of his depth in all levels of life who finally finds his niche in the disorienting world of the sub-atomic.
Friday, July 3, 2015
Kate Winslet adds another to her already long list of costume dramas with A Little Chaos, the second film directed by actor Alan Rickman. Winslet plays Madame Sabine de Barra, an anachronistically liberated gardener hired by Monsieur André le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts), landscaper to King Louis IV (Rickman). De Barra is to work on an outdoor ballroom at the King's gardens in Versailles. Her independence first perturbs Le Nôtre and his male contractors. But eventually his bewilderment gives way to curiosity and then romantic fascination with the confident gardener. Her sureness in herself eventually impresses even the king himself.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
There are Pixar films for kids, and there are Pixar films for grown-ups. Inside Out is definitely one for adults, and that grants it a kind of longevity. See, movies like Monsters, Inc., Cars, and even Toy Story have to depend on cutesy characters and sequels to extend their shelf life because, fun as they are, once you've seen them there isn't much there to revisit. Their concerns are those of children: finding what you're good at, fitting in among new friends, coping with a loss of popularity, etc. Movies like The Incredibles, Wall-E, and Up may still have cute characters but they have a more mature focus: adjusting to middle-age and familial responsibility, overcoming our consumerist tendencies, remembering you're only as young as you feel, and so forth. Inside Out definitely falls into the latter camp.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Gonzo doesn't even begin to describe Mad Max: Fury Road. The fourth entry in the Mad Max series comes thirty years (!) after the last film, with the broken, post-apocalyptic highway patrolman formerly played by Mel Gibson now re-interpreted by Tom Hardy. And one of the things writer-director (and franchise mainstay) George Miller does with a better actor at the helm is give road warrior Max Rockatansky an inner life. Whereas Gibson's Max was filled with rage at the world of "fire and blood" that took his wife and child, Hardy's Max is literally mad. This Max tries to stay busy to keep the voices in his head at bay, voices belonging to those he has encountered in his travels through the desert that he failed to save. While Max's first inclination is to retreat into himself, Fury Road implies that the only thing that keeps his madness in check is his continuing to help others.