Reviews

239 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
6/10
Pulpy noir
13 January 2015
A Walk Among the Tombstones has been in various stages of development since the late 90's and while it's a decent enough film, it's hard to see what kept this story on the development back burner for almost two decades and not simply just forgotten about. It's a pulpy noir about an ex-cop turned private investigator, who is hired by a drug trafficker to find the two men who abducted his wife and chopped her into dozens of pieces after he paid the ransom. Neeson underplays his performance nicely, considering the character's back story has him a recovered alcoholic, with no ties to his family, who accidentally shot a little girl - and Neeson could have overdone it with the brooding, but he does good work here. Scott Frank's screenplay is all straightforward business, there's very little of his usual wit on display and there's no surprises. It's a grim throwback to small films a few decades past. The film's largest problem is how the killers are presented and it's at this point that the film doesn't really gel. There's an aire of mystery about these two monstrous killers who are targeting the family members of drug dealers, but that's dropped when the film simply and un-dramatically introduces the two men not too far into this story. They were obscured by shadow and darkness early on and then directed as if clouding their identity a few scenes earlier never happened. The scenes with the two serial killers just aren't strong enough and any mystery or foreboding sense of dread that the film had, vanishes the more time we spend with those two. There's also a half baked friend/mentor relationship between Neeson and a young homeless boy, that doesn't feel extraneous, but isn't fleshed out enough to be believable. A Walk Among the Tombstones is well made and certainly never boring, but with all that time the film languished in development hell, it's a shame Frank didn't deliver a stronger screenplay.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Inherent Vice (2014)
6/10
Well made, a fun labyrinth plot, but doesn't know when to quit.
10 January 2015
Inherent Vice starts off incredibly well, piling on visual gags and a crazed narrative that's hazy like a drug fever dream, but it runs out of steam and has a running time that just can't support this material. For about an hour and a half the film is quite inspired, as our perpetually stoned lead gets sucked into a labyrinth plot and one bizarre and usually fantastic character after another is thrown at this drug addled mess. The film continues at least an hour well beyond what this narrative can sustain. The pacing is off, the plot just feels deliberately muddled and while there are still plenty of jokes, the film just feels labored and exhausted after a while. Paul Thomas Anderson just didn't know when to quit on this one. The man is certainly one of the best filmmakers out there and despite Inherent Vice's shortcomings, it's still a wonderfully crafted film with some great acting - the cast is uniformly excellent. He may not have pulled off the film completely, but it's always a pleasure to see a director continue to make bold and challenging work. The film is usually episodic and feels mostly disconnected on a scene to scene basis and there really isn't a scene that doesn't work, but PT Anderson didn't exactly make enough disciplined editing choices to shape the film and trim it down.
1 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Low wattage thriller
10 January 2015
Kenneth Branagh takes up double duty here, as the villain and as director for hire and pulls neither off. Shadow Recruit is a low wattage thriller and it very rarely has any life in it and just plods along until it ends with a whimper. The screenplay feels like a rough outline of a film, with characters and the entire premise not fleshed out. There's nothing complex happening or anything that might tax your attention if you zone out or leave for minutes on end and this is so straightforward - they couldn't even bother with a double cross or any character complexities beyond someone being one of the good guys or one of the bad guys. With an economic threat and a terrorist threat aimed at the US financial sector, nothing really feels at stake and everything unfolds in predictable fashion. Besides an easy payday, it's hard to see what attracted Branagh to such a vanilla and generic film. Chris Pine is serviceable as Jack Ryan, but he doesn't have much to do here and considering how bland and dull the chain of events are, the film doesn't have the spark that should reignite the franchise. There's no chemistry between Pine and Knightley and a pivotal scene where he confesses his secret job is so flat and poorly handled - that a smile and an '"ok"' is all the material Knightley is given -- lazy writing that sidesteps anything remotely challenging. The action is edited in typical seizure inducing quick cuts, that feels totally half assed by Branagh since the man is capable of so much more and this comes across like he can't mount an action scene if his life depended on it. Shadow Recruit is your run of the mill time waster that feels like a feature length TV pilot.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Bad filmmaking and a screenplay worth less than a used Kleenex
7 January 2015
Clooney is an absolute dud as the caped crusader, as the man looks bored, uncomfortable and has no presence here. Chris O'Donnell, tries to give a committed performance, but is lost amongst the wretched excess and camp and while Robin is written to have a chip on his shoulder - O'Donnell himself, looks annoyed to be on set. The two leads flat-line performances are at total odds to the over the top campiness and scenery chewing by every other cast member. Director Joel Schumacher cranks things up to an 11 out of 10 and directs Clooney like Bruce Wayne ate a handful of ambien. The almost dead Alfred shows more life than Wayne.

The casting of Schwarzenegger as the puninator Mr. Freeze, is the stuff of bad movie gold. The man is so committed to the role and seems to be having a blast dropping one pun after another, that as embarrassingly hammy as he is, he's the only one that seems to fit into this misguided mess of a world. For a quick moment Schwarzenegger drops the puns and gives a world dominating monologue that channels Bella Legosi in Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Uma Thurman, whose quick foray into big budget studio filmmaking began with this turkey and promptly ended a year later with another Warner Bros disaster - the ill fated The Avengers - is difficult to watch, she's so awful here.

Alicia Silverstone, like almost everything in this film, is atrocious. She adds nothing but clutter to this overstuffed mess.

Batman & Robin has a running time that is punishing in its bloated length and how this made it through the studio and test screening process without being chopped down to 80 minutes, is a missed opportunity to have mercy on audiences. Widely considered one of the worst films in the history of the medium, that's a bit harsh on a harmless bit of stupid confection - but it is a showcase of truly bad filmmaking, a screenplay worth less than a used Kleenex and acting that sucks away all dignity and goodwill.
2 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Raid 2 (2014)
7/10
Bone crushing fun!
4 January 2015
Featuring an unbelievable command of fight choreography, cinematography and a great flesh pounding, blood splattering sound mix - The Raid 2 delivers a feast of lunatic filmmaking that keeps topping itself until its blood soaked masterfully coordinated end. There's a sprawling story that's padding the action and it's not a derivative narrative that simply connects the dots from one fight to the next - this isn't the most complex narrative either, but it's engaging enough so when the film calms down for a few minutes, it still commands your attention. This is a truly visceral film. The action is filmed with long takes and I can't even begin to imagine the complications of focus pulling and the crew hitting all of their marks to pull off scene after scene. The filmmaking feels invisible, which is the highest compliment I could give a movie that's all smoke and mirrors, but actually looks like dozens of people were really pounding each other's faces in. The Raid 2 is completely bonkers and highly recommended.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Drop (2014)
7/10
Good slow burn
2 January 2015
Tom Hardy gives a good low key performance as a simple man who tends a bar where criminal cash gets dropped off and picked up. This small character piece takes place in just a handful of rundown locations and has a very well done mounting sense of dread throughout. Our lonely lead, Bob finds himself in the middle of a robbery in which cash from very dangerous people is stolen and has also found a beaten puppy in a woman's trash, who he rescues - but it's not before long the psychotic owner of the dog begins threatening Bob. With Bob and the dog's life in danger from numerous potentially lethal people, The Drop always has a hold on your attention as you expect the worst at any moment. Gandolfini, in his final role on screen as Marv - a once successful bar owner, before being muscled out of ownership - is in top form as a man who lost everything and is making a series of terrible decisions. The film is a slow burn, that is perfectly cast and a throwback to gritty, quiet films that seem to be a rarity these days.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Fury (2014)
7/10
Grim and well made.
31 December 2014
After the incredibly stupid and incompetent film Sabotage, David Ayer returns to screens only a few months later with the well crafted Fury. It's a major return to form for Ayer and this grim, gory tale of a small crew commanding a tank during the end of WWII is a worthy submission to the genre. For about the first hour, the film is all business, a relentless onslaught of one gruesome situation after another and the heavy toll it's taken on our leads. The film stumbles a bit when things quiet down for an extended sequence in a German civilian home, where getting a cooked meal turns into a difficult time, when civility is absent from most of the crew. It felt like it was inspired from the French plantation sequence that was reinstated in Apocalypse Now Redux - but the story in Fury is just too lean and small in scope to withstand a narrative detour like that. The cast is uniformly excellent, with the exception of Jon Bernthal who overplays his role as a broad cliché, who never feels human. Fury doesn't quite pull off the ending, but there's enough quality filmmaking throughout to recommend the film.
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Stimulation overkill, but still enjoyable.
30 December 2014
The Lego Movie is an odd blend of energy and color wrapped around a paper thin narrative. Most of the film is an unhinged series of very busy visuals with lots and lots of noise - stimulation overkill. I could imagine the psychotic effects this would have on a child watching before bedtime, possibly something along the lines of the child ingesting Strychnine and a bottle of No-Doze. The Lego Movie can be an exhausting film to watch, but more often than not, the film is charming enough without pandering to children. It does transcend its corporate shackles, in what could have easily been a feature length toy commercial in lesser hands, but Phil Lord and Christopher Miller give enough soul to this material. The film is a lot easier to enjoy on a visceral level, as these silly lego characters don't really engage and the voice work is well cast and deliver their readings with enough wit. While not exactly deep subversive satire, The Lego Movie does have just enough substance beneath all the noise.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Fun enough disposable entertainment
30 December 2014
Like its predecessor, 22 Jump Street is a lightweight and instantly forgettable film that manages to get enough chuckles throughout. This very self aware sequel is less than slapdash in its plotting, it's barely a functional narrative. It's mostly episodic situations that our two leads find themselves in when these two undercover buffoons go to college. This meta cash grab of a sequel is definitely lazy in the filmmaking department, but the picture is held up and watchable from the chemistry of Hill and Tatum. Tatum is especially committed to this ridiculous material and he actually has a great knack for comedy. 22 Jump Street is mindless, the plot is always secondary to the jokes and it lands just enough laughs to be worth killing some time watching it.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
The story of Alan Turing is truly spectacular
29 December 2014
The story of Alan Turing is such a spectacular one, that even an unspectacular film like the Imitation Game is nothing short of compelling. The period detail is convincing and tech aspects of the film are top notch - all very well done by director Morten Tyldum, making his first English language film. There are some dramatic liberties of course, most of which work fine on screen - a major exception being a scene involving a member of Turing's team dramatically pleading for his brother's life on-board a naval vessel. Cumberbatch does a decent enough job as Turing and while he is committed to the role, when the man is stressed - Cumberbatch does some phony tics and speech mannerisms that come across as acting with a capital A. Knightley and Goode make the most of their roles and Dance does what he can with his one note and mostly antagonist role. The film can detour into drivel occasionally, especially when Turing's colleagues threaten to quit over his dismissal - but more often than not, The Imitation Game is serviceable entertainment and does enough justice to a great story and a great man.
0 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Fun and darkly funny until it has nowhere to go.
29 December 2014
Maps to the Stars plays out like a mix of Mulholland Drive and a Bret Easton Ellis adaptation about a group of vacuous, wealthy characters who are soulless self destructive train- wrecks. Taking place in the Hollywood hills, Cronenberg never over does it with cheap shots of self absorbed celebrates, but retains enough humanity from these creatures to be engaging enough. Both Julianne Moore and Olivia Williams spend most of the film in a state of hysterics and while they do a decent job, their characters can get quite annoying. Olivia Williams has also improved her American accent after her embarrassing attempt at one in the dreadful film Sabotage. Evan Bird is a standout as a damaged child star and he balances enough humanity with this spoiled brat to never let the character become an easy stereotype. John Cusak - there's something about him in recent years that feels like he's dead behind his eyes. He's slightly more there than his recent phoned in roles, but he doesn't bring anything to the film and Cronenberg frequent collaborator, Viggo Mortensen who was the original choice, might have made more of the character. Mia Wasikowska isn't required to do much here and the girl seems to be comfortably playing within her limited range - it's the same kind of under played performance that she's done in recent roles like Stoker or The Double. There is some nice wit throughout the film, but ultimately the narrative has nowhere to go and ends up feeling as empty and pointless as the character's lives. A bizarre scene involving digital fire is laughably bad. The film is watchable, but makes no lasting impression.
0 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Dredd (2012)
7/10
Judgment time
28 December 2014
Whatever production problems happened behind the scenes, they aren't apparent in the finished product. That director Pete Travis was removed during editing, writer Alex Garland trying to secure a co-director credit and Keith Urban saying he took most on set direction from Garland and not Travis and hell, even Travis' director credit doesn't even come up after the end credits roll, but billed after most of the cast - and his statements about his collaboration with Garland seem more like the usual contractual disparaging nonsense about never saying a bad word that could damage the film. Whatever it was that went down and whatever egos were hurt, Dredd simply works. The premise that takes place over most of a day, of Dredd and a rookie judge in training that infiltrate a mega high rise building over a drug turf war multi murder and find themselves in over their heads - is simple in its plotting and fantastic in its visuals and execution. Lena Headey makes a terrific villain as Ma-Ma, underplaying her dead inside character and Karl Urban's lower half of his face makes a convincing Judge Dredd. The emotional weight of the film is carried nicely by Olivia Thirlby as a psychic rookie Judge. The first 45 minutes fall together marvelously, as the two judges become trapped inside a hostile mega sky rise, but the film becomes a shoot 'em up with faceless corpses piling up for short period - until the narrative begins to propel forward again with a solid last act. With gore 'o plenty and some beautifully filmed slo-mo carnage, Dredd doesn't have a dull moment. It's a lean film that delivers.

http://www.boxofficeflops.com/yearly-breakdowns/2012-2/dredd/
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Hollow Man (2000)
4/10
You won't find anyone more disappointed with Hollow Man than Paul Verhoeven
25 December 2014
Paul Verhoeven has said he made Hollow Man for all the wrong reasons and this studio hack job is definitely his least personal work. Missing is his usual satirical wit and replaced with a brain dead screenplay about a hot shot scientist who turns himself invisible and goes bananas. The first thing Sebastian does as an invisible man is feel up his co-worker's breasts and then follows that with raping his beautiful neighbor. This sounds like prime deranged Verhoeven comedic stuff, but this is so poorly executed and so bereft of his skills that it plays out as by the numbers trash. The characters are all unlikable and Elizabeth Shue is downright awful as the lead. Whether it's a smug smirk or embarrassing dialogue delivery, she gives a terrible performance. The rest of the cast can never rise above the junk plotting and wretched dialogue. Hollow Man turns into a slasher by the second act and the film goes on autopilot - dispatching of less important characters, which can come as a welcome relief as we'll never have to listen to their awful characters speak again. This is D grade material, with scientists that wouldn't tax the smarts of your standard hormonal idiot in a slasher film. The vfx are well done, but Verhoeven's talents are wasted on this nonsense.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Time filler
25 December 2014
Neither bad or approaching anything remotely good, Drinking Buddies is a more an acting improv exercise than a film. There's nothing cinematic here and the small servings of drama and comedy are lost in a film that never finds its purpose to exist. Taking place in a few locations, with no script, the cast does a decent job of keeping this mostly watchable, but with such little substance, the film is practically vapor by the end credits. Drinking Buddies is the kind of quiet film that attempts and almost approaches honesty through its everyday people characters, but watching these people get drunk and flirt feels more and more distancing to the viewer as the film goes on - its getting a small peek at a slice of life from a few very believable, but uninteresting characters. There hits a point that spending time with these people has worn out its welcome and their little story is undeserving of big screen treatment. There's no eye rolling moments here, but it's a dramatic flatline of a film that amounts to being nothing more than a time waster.
16 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Interview (II) (2014)
4/10
A good idea, lost amongst a lot of bad ones
25 December 2014
When the controversial dust settles, it'll be difficult to remember just what a troubled release this had - if The Interview is even remembered at all. This is a broad, mostly stupid comedy - controversial satire this is not. The PBS Frontline North Korea episode was far more damning to the current regime and I've seen more offensive portrayals of world leaders in a Naked Gun film than what is on display here. What is on display here is gross over acting by James Franco and lazy boner and anal penetration jokes. The film does land a few solid laughs, but they're not at the expense of the North Korean regime or usually even stem from the premise, but throwaway gags - like Rogan not packing enough supplies or water in a trip to China. It's the sloppy execution of the film by Rogan and Goldberg and screenwriter Dan Sterling that wrote two uninteresting characters, one of which is nails on the chalkboard annoying and these two dim bulb characters never let the film rise above their sophomoric goofiness. The Interview is a missed opportunity that has no ambitions beyond the requisite bodily functions gags and annoying improv riffing that the film so often relies on when it has nowhere to go.
18 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Black Mirror (2011– )
7/10
Overall it's fantastic
23 December 2014
An anthology series of sorts, where technology and humanity don't always lead to pleasant results. This satirical and usually demented show is great in its technical craftsmanship and usually sharp and witty in its execution. The first episode The National Anthem is a great start to this series, about the princess being kidnapped and the Prime Minister being told he needs to have sex with a pig or she dies. This sounds lowbrow, but it's pulled off with a straight face and in lesser hands this would have been written into a corner - but the ending simply works. 8/10

The second episode Fifteen Million Merits is perhaps the best of the series, about a society that peddles stationary bikes to generate power and the individual earns points to purchase products or a chance to appear on a contestant show. The idea is thoughtfully explored, there's a quick budding romance that's wonderfully done and the episode goes into some dark places. This is a great piece of science fiction. 9/10

The third episode The Entire History of You explores the trivial bits of nonsense we obsess about, when everyone has recorders implanted in the back of our heads and you have the ability to record and playback any time, anywhere. What begins with our lead going through his job interview and replaying one phrase that could be interpreted in any way, over and over - leads to an obsession about the possibility of his wife having an affair. The segment is well acted and the use of the technology feels entirely believable. 7/10

The second season didn't engage me - sometimes at all. The first episode Be Right Back, felt too cold and distant and felt empty and pointless by the end. 5/10

The second episode White Bear hinged on a twist gimmick that was both a strength and a weakness. The twist works as an idea, but sours everything before it and both the twist and the preceding events felt half baked. Didn't deliver. 4/10

The third episode The Waldo Moment, about a depressed comedian voicing a crude animated character that ends up being used as a political puppet to disrupt an election is successful enough. But like all the episodes this season, the sharp wit and beautifully thought out visuals are missing. 6/10

The White Christmas special plays up the anthology format for the first time, as two men in a mysterious outpost kill time on Christmas by telling their stories that led them to this point in their life at this outpost. The three stories are all engaging and the use of the technology feels remarkably real and the results are haunting and twisted in its humor and drama. A great return to form. 7/10
8 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Babadook (2014)
4/10
The film dies at the hour mark and gets sillier and sillier
18 December 2014
The Babadook is a well crafted film that manages to ratchet up some decent suspense, mystery and even some scares, until the thin narrative runs out of steam. The last half hour devolves into a cheap horror show that produces unintentional laughs, as the story disintegrates on screen. The Babadook just doesn't sustain as a feature length film. Essie Davis is excellent as the lead and she commits herself to this material and her fantastic performance keeps the film watchable. Child actor Noah Wiseman isn't as successful, as the boy can be competent in some scenes and so grating in others, you'll need the mute button handy. His performance could have been shaped slightly better and certainly less irritating through editing, but as cruel as it sounds, it's an annoying kid performance. Even with all of its shortcomings, The Babadook is a nice showcase of talent for a first time director and I look forward to her next project.
10 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Gone Girl (2014)
7/10
The unreliable narrator
17 December 2014
This lurid tale told from an unreliable narrator, has a solid 'did he? didn't he' hook - a man's wife goes missing and he becomes the target of public scrutiny when he becomes the prime suspect. Fincher classes up this trashy story and it's both a strength and a weakness, as he wisely never lets this become over the top sordid garbage, but also never allows this to be as fun when it wallows in its sleazy storytelling. Even still, the story is so emotionally cold and misanthropic, that there's fun aplenty from how twisted and mean Gone Girl becomes. Ben Affleck does good work, under playing his role, while convincingly carrying the weight of the stress of his bizarre situation. Tyler Perry's dialogue delivery as a high priced lawyer is sharp and witty and pulled off with his stunt casting. Rosamund Pike plays our Gone Girl who you will most likely not forget for quite some time. Gone Girl is a clever film, with an ending that falls a little too easily into place, but it's always entertaining and definitely worth recommending.
5 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Ida (2013)
7/10
Straightforward, beautifully shot and very rewarding
17 December 2014
Ida is the small and simple story of a complex and terrible past that gets unearthed when a nun discovers she is Jewish. Before taking her vows, she is sent out to meet her aunt, a bitter woman who drinks too much from the life and miserable aftermath of a Nazi occupied Poland. They journey in search of Ida's murdered parents and their resting place and what unfolds is simple, raw storytelling and plotting that is never overly grim, overly dramatic or hits a false note. Beautifully shot in black and white and with a short 80 minute running time that doesn't allow a moment of fat in this narrative, Ida is a rewarding experience.
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Equalizer (2014)
4/10
By the numbers, generic paycheck film for all involved
15 December 2014
Denzel Washington brings nothing but his availability to show up and sleepwalk through filming, playing a character that requires practically nothing from the man but look serious. This is a step up in craft from director Antoine Fuqua's previous film, the sloppy Olympus Has Fallen, but despite being competently made, The Equalizer feels like lazy paycheck work. There's nothing that you haven't seen a million times before here and the generic story unfolds without so much as a single surprise - this is by the numbers stuff. It's not a chore to sit through, which is about the highest compliment I can give it, but the second any character is introduced, you know exactly how they will be used in the plot and their fate - they are either simply good or bad, no development beyond that. Add to that a horribly miscast Chloë Grace Moretz. Despite an ending you can see 10 minutes into its bloated 132 minute running time, a tacked on set up for a future franchise of more vigilantism feels forced and undeserving. Can't wait for his next adventure against a group of ethnic clichés, who wronged a hapless girl, while he's trying to make good at a dead end job.
7 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Nuns, super-soakers and Angela
9 December 2014
Night Of The Demons 2 never knows what the hell it wants to be. Camp? Horror comedy? The tone wavers from something out of the broadest cartoon, to actually ratcheting up decent horror thrills, but never finds its footing. The last act ups the silliness with holy water grenades, nun action and never knows when to quit - it just gets sillier by the second and the film suffers all the more from it. What precedes the last act never reaches the original, but it's a worthy follow up. The production design, cinematography and makeup fx are cheaper than the first entry, but this quick 3 week shoot is competent enough to be worth a watch. The barely one dimensional characters add to the hokey fun and the silliness and low death count keep this from being remotely memorable.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Guest (I) (2014)
7/10
Very amusing B material
8 December 2014
The only thing surprising in The Guest is just how straight forward it is in its simple plotting. Everything unfolds in predictable fashion, but this B material is a fantastic showcase of wicked humor and misanthropic violence. Dan Stevens is in excellent form here, as a mysterious soldier who shows up unannounced at a family's home of a fallen soldier he served with. He's all smiles and very polite, but people with a usually negative connection with this family start meeting grisly ends. Like in his previous film You're Next, Adam Wingard approaches plotting you've seen a million times and wittily turns it on its ear without ever being too self aware. It's a shame Picturehouse who acquired the US rights dumped the film in a handful of theaters without trying to capitalize on the strong reviews and never bothered to expand it theatrically. The Guest is a quick fun time that knows exactly what it is and delivers without overstaying its welcome.
74 out of 105 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Interstellar (2014)
6/10
Isn't always successful, but there's enough quality filmmaking on display to recommend
7 December 2014
There are some undeniably striking images in Interstellar, but far to often they are accompanied by silly grandiose dialogue and there's some questionable plotting throughout - the film definitely bites off more than it can chew, but there's enough good filmmaking and spectacle on display to get through the bumps along the way. Once in space, our leads have a few planets to explore to see if they are hospitable for human colonization and due to questionable plotting, the first planet they choose is the most threatening to their mission. Each hour on the planet is about 7 years on earth and of course, this is presented as a dramatic narrative countdown clock device and human stupidity all but ensures something will go wrong. Anne Hathaway's character foolishly wonders out in search of data until it is too late and finally a robot is sent after her and grabs her in seconds. Why the robot wasn't sent out to begin with so they don't burn time is a lazy ploy to up the dramatic stakes. This is soon followed by a dialogue exchange of what planet to explore next and Hathaway's love is on one planet, so naturally they decide to explore the other. With these people out to save mankind, it's amazing they made it past the moon without compromising the mission. What follows, should be left to the viewer to discover without giving away anything. However, the last act is a very watchable mess - a bizarre mix of sentiment and odd imagery that doesn't work. Interstellar isn't the most successful film, but it commands your attention throughout its long running time.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Holds your attention
5 December 2014
Another entry in the dystopian young adult machine that pumps these out in hopes of striking gold with a franchise - The Maze Runner is derivative stuff, but it's serviceable entertainment that is successful in its storytelling more often than not. In the process of trying to build a franchise, most of these types of films feel narratively incomplete, as they try to arc a thin story over a series of films - but The Maze Runner feels like it can stand on its own, even if the end is completely botched. The cast is decent enough and it's refreshing to see grime and dirt on actors in an appropriate setting, instead of perfect hair and makeup. The film wastes no time, as the first scene drops our lead character Thomas into this small community of youngsters, which is surrounded by a giant, deadly maze. The maze is an interesting visual effect and the inside is a good combination of sets and vfx. The maze is far more interesting than most of dialogue that takes place outside of it. The first 45 minutes or so are interesting as we try to figure out the why's and what's, but the young adult subgenre insistence of giving silly names to everything can come across hokey. "We call them Grievers" "We call this The Glade." Even with the worst incidences of of expository dialogue, the cast is skilled enough for the film to keep its dignity. The last few minutes of the film fall apart, as an inevitable sequel is set up and whether this ending is true to its source material or not, it simply doesn't work on screen. It's an eye rolling ending for sure, but it doesn't sour everything that came before it.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
The best of its kind.
3 December 2014
My personal favorite of the series, The Naked Gun 2 1/2 starts off with a hilarious sequence of mostly slapstick violence toward Barbara Bush and the inspired stunt casting of a villainous Robert Goulet is nothing short of brilliant. It's hard to imagine a more worthy foe to the ever clueless Frank Drebin. Despite the usual Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker team producing, David Zucker wrote this with Pat Proft and the man was firing on all ridiculous cylinders and this could arguably be his best work. Reviewing a film like this is damn near impossible, because the plot is intentionally absurd and simplistic and it's the visual gags that are relentlessly thrown at the viewer where you'll either get a belly ache from laughing or roll your eyes. This is the best of its kind, nonsensical comedy played with a straight face.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

Recently Viewed