7 items from 2015
Leaping through skylights and surfing down stairs, Taylor Lautner and his parkour crew elevate old-fashioned cat burglary to a feat of high-speed, anti-gravity showmanship in “Tracers,” a project that takes what’s anarchic about the sport and runs, jumps and double-somersaults with it. The plot may be as creaky as an old-timer slinking across rooftops in a black turtleneck and domino mask, but the acrobatic stunts more than compensate, many of them performed by Lautner himself. After 2011’s “Abduction” cast his drawing power into question, this youth-skewing, VOD-driven release could be the “Twilight” star’s last gleaming.
Perhaps that’s overstating the stakes, as it’s only Lautner’s short-lived A-list standing that appears to be in question. Although Team Jacob fans managed to sway “Twilight” producers from recasting his role in the sequels, they haven’t turned out in sufficient numbers to carry the teen wolf into a grown-up career, »
- Peter Debruge
At one time, David Koepp was the noted screenwriter behind the first entry in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy, Steven Spielberg's "War Of The Worlds," and he got a credit on David Fincher's "Panic Room." But he also has his fingerprints on "Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull," "Premium Rush," and, more recently, the big box office flop, "Mortdecai." Still, his dalliance in the world of Marvel does mean he has some insight into how he'd approach the character, particularly now that the series seems to be in trouble at Sony. Speaking recently with Empire, Koepp shared some of those ideas. Now, it should be said, he readily admits he's speaking as if money isn't an object, but his plan to fix Spider-Man? More movies. His concept basically is that there would be a few different iterations of the character all at once, each focusing »
- Kevin Jagernauth
This painfully unfunny spoof of teddibly British nonsense couldn’t be less amusing if it were actually calculated to be totally laugh-free. I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): the trailer was dire
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
The strained desperation wafting off Mortdecai is as stinky as… Well, there’s one scene in this painfully unfunny and wildly unfocused spoof of teddibly British nonsense in which the attempt at humor revolves around whether Ewan McGregor’s (A Million Ways to Die in the West, Jack the Giant Slayer) suave MI5 agent will eat a piece of fetid cheese he has been offered to accompany his glass of port — haha! smelly English cheese! — while Johnny Depp’s (Transcendence, The Lone Ranger) shady art dealer and dead-broke aristocrat Lord Charlie Mortdecai regales him with an anecdote about a fart; haha! »
- MaryAnn Johanson
David Koepp has a rather solid CV as a director, including Secret Window with Johnny Depp, the underrated ghost story Stir Of Echoes, and the really fun Joseph Gordon-Levitt bike messenger action film Premium Rush. But as a screenwriter, he’s worked on some of the biggest films of the last 25 years – Jurassic Park and its sequel, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Angels and Demons, Mission: Impossible, and Spider-Man.
He’s also had a hand in other notable Hollywood hits (and flops) including Carlito’s Way, The Shadow, Snake Eyes, Zathura, Panic Room, Death Becomes Her, and many, many more. He’s had a fascinating career.
His latest directorial effort is Mortdecai, a »
Desperately seeking a “pretty movie stars chase art treasures in world capitals” vibe, this goofy soufflé ultimately falls flat
I admit to being a big fan of watching glamorous movie stars gadding around world capitols in the comedic pursuit of art treasures; I spent countless hours glued to the TV as a kid soaking in comic soufflés like “Charade” and “How to Steal a Million,” and I’ll even defend the much-maligned “Hudson Hawk” for its efforts to keep the genre alive in our modern, cynical era.
If only I could feel as charitable toward “Mortdecai,” a glamorous, jet-set fantasy »
- Alonso Duralde
Should the recent surge in male facial hair as a fashion accessory stall in 2015, barbers would be within their rights to blame “Mortdecai,” a perky but obstinately unfunny heist caper with a hero irksome enough to make any happily mustachioed man reconsider his life choices. Directed (but, unusually, not written) by an off-form David Koepp, the film shoots for the swinging insouciance of ’60s farce, but this story of a caddish art dealer enlisted by MI5 to assist in a knotty theft case is longer on frippery than quippery: There’s a fatal shortage of zingers to supplement its exhausting zaniness. Only particularly dedicated devotees of Johnny Depp’s latter-day strain of mugging — here channeling Austin Powers by way of P.G. Wodehouse — will delight in this expensive-looking oddity.
- Guy Lodge
Your enjoyment of Mortdecai is likely going to be based on one thing: how much you can stand late period Johnny Depp. If you still find his faux-British sauntering thing endearing and enjoyable, you’ll probably have a good time. If however, like me, you’ve been growing tired of it since the second Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, you might find it a bit of a chore.
Based on author Kyril Bonfiglioli’s series of cult novels, Depp plays Charlie Mortdecai, an cartoonish upper crust art dealer-slash-conman, with a mansion in Oxford and staring bankruptcy down the barrel. When a rare Goya painting is stolen, old acquaintance and MI5 agent Alistair Martland (Ewan McGregor) throws Mortdecai a bone – retrieve the painting and he’ll clear his tax debt. What follows is a half Bond, »
7 items from 2015
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