9 items from 2014
In the last couple of decades, Hollywood has come down with a bad case of sequilitis. Prior to the year 2000, there were only a handful of billion-dollar franchises on which the studios could rely. Now, there are over 30. Comic books, literary adaptations and established brands provide the built-in recognition and wide appeal that will draw audiences to the multiplex, regardless of whether or not this endless parade of follow-ups are actually any good.
Despite this increasing reliance on sequels to generate box office dollars, there are plenty of movies that seem to have set themselves up for a second, third or even final installment that never comes to fruition. The go-to option is to reboot an established franchise instead of taking a chance on a new one, which has a lot to do with the continued repetitiveness and mediocrity of most franchise fare.
With that in mind, this »
- Scott Campbell
An absolute delight, even better than the first film; a gorgeously animated ode to peacemaking, nonconformity, and sticking to your principles in the face of ultimate adversity. I’m “biast” (pro): loved the first film
I’m “biast” (con): absolutely nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
The world is bigger on dragonback, as Hiccup — dragon whisperer and heir to the tiny throne of the Viking island village Berk — is discovering, joyfully. And we are there with him in a stunningly animated return to this fantastical realm. How to Train Your Dragon 2 isn’t only a glorious narrative expansion of the people and places we met in the first film, it also represents an astonishing leap in computer animation that makes Hiccup’s world even more touchably real than it was before. It seems like a paradox, »
- MaryAnn Johanson
Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, the film stars Academy Award winner Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, Last Vegas) as legendary leading man Errol Flynn, alongside Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise) and Dakota Fanning (Push).
Errol Flynn, the swashbuckling Hollywood star and notorious ladies man, flouted convention all his life, but never more brazenly than in his last years when, swimming in vodka and unwilling to face his mortality, he undertook a liaison with an aspiring actress, Beverly Aadland. The two had a high-flying affair that spanned the globe and was enabled by the girl’s fame-obsessed mother, Florence. It all came crashing to an end in October 1959, when events forced the relationship into the open, sparking an avalanche of publicity castigating Beverly and her mother »
- Scott Davis
In the past few years, we’ve seen a number of creative takes on Mary Shelley’s iconic horror novel Frankenstein, some much better than others. To name a few of the most high-profile ones, Tim Burton delivered a gorgeously animated kiddie flick called Frankenweenie, Stuart Beattie directed the action-fueled, thinly-written fantasy thriller I, Frankenstein, and Showtime very recently compelled us by recounting Doctor Victor Frankenstein’s origin story on horror series Penny Dreadful.
Now, however, it’s time for us to get back to basics, with a Gothic new version of the Frankenstein tale led by James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe. The film, directed by Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin, Push), is in post-production now, and we’re finally hearing some details about it. Though we had all been referring to the project as Frankenstein, now word has emerged that the actual title is Victor Frankenstein. That’s a »
- Isaac Feldberg
The formally titled Frankenstein directed by Paul McGuigan (Push) will now be titled Victor Frankenstein and Twentieth Century Fox has pushed the release date to October of 2015 instead of January. The movie stars James McAvoy as the title character and Daniel Radcliffe as Igor. Paul McGuigan is at the helm of this revisionist take on Mary Shelley's masterpiece, based on a script by Max Landis (Chronicle). Here’s the official synopsis that was just released: James »
- Graham McMorrow
The star of The Winter Soldier is happy to be a cog in the machine, as long as that machine isn't a pasta restaurant
Chris Evans does not take umbrage when I tell him he has movie-star anonymity. By which I mean, he may be a leading man in a superhero franchise that generates vast mountain ranges of cash, but whatever innate charisma is beloved by the camera seems less obvious in person, where he comes across as a regular, affable guy – albeit one who spends an inordinate amount of time in the gym. "Good," he says. "That's the goal. You want to strike that happy medium: the balance of being able to find creative satisfaction in your profession, be able to afford a roof over your head but still have the freedom to live a relatively normal life." But when the prospect of playing Captain America in Marvel's huge »
- Jonathan Bernstein
When news broke Monday that Avengers star Scarlett Johansson was expecting her first child, movie fans wondered: What’s going to happen to Avengers: Age of Ultron? More importantly, what’s going to happen to Black Widow in Age of Ultron? With principal photography set to start in the next month and Johansson reportedly due in August, it seems as though the actress’ pregnancy will align directly with the film’s shooting window.
In other words: that signature outfit and a baby bump won’t exactly mix.
So what’s a franchise to do? We’re pretty confident they wouldn »
- Andrea Towers
It's time to take a bow, Seth Meyers. The long-time Saturday Night Live writer and star took his place behind the Weekend News Update date for the very last time on Saturday night—and true SNL fashion, some very famous friends joined him. Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg and the always-eccentric Stefon, (aka Bill Hader) stopped by Studio 8H to give new Late Night host a warm sendoff into his post-SNL career. Although we were slightly disappointed that we didn't get a final, "Really?!" sketch from Amy and Seth, the special three-minute adieu was both heartfelt and hilarious. After visiting some of Stefon's favorite clubs—Crease, Twice, Slice, Gush, Push and … »
Exhaustion is settling in but the movies have been consistently good to great. Four movies in a row that variably thrilled or entertained me but definitely left with strong impressions of unforgettable characters. And one of them may be a masterpiece.
We’ll start at the top. John Michael McDonagh, brother of Martin (“In Bruges”), who wrote and directed “The Guard,” has done something truly special with “Calvary”, a fascinating dissection of religion and its impact on an Irish community, or rather lack thereof. Brendan Gleeson gives us another amazing performance and McDonagh’s script challenges in unexpected ways. It’s a film that’s dense with dialogue and philosophical conversation that truly takes its time to come together. Like when you’re going home. As I watched “Calvary,” I had some difficult digging through its themes to the point that I wasn’t sure it worked at all until the very end, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
9 items from 2014
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