Guy Ritchie made his bones (so to speak) on hard-edged crime films with wicked humor and striking visuals. Then he went big budget with Sherlock Holmes and provided a very different (but surprisingly canonical) consulting detective. Next up was the criminally underrated The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – the best non-Bond Bond flick since the first Jason Bourne.
Now Ritchie is dissecting and reassembling the Arthur legend in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – and it’s a very kinetic movie that is also, simultaneously, more than a bit of a slog.
Melissa McCarthy has shown she can play a character (Saint Vincent, everyone!), which is why Spy is so much fun. In Susan Cooper, CIA super analyst she’s found a character – and a potential franchise – that she can really sink her teeth into.
Also, for a spoof to work it must also succeed in the genre it’s spoofing – and Spy works as a spy movie.
Rise of the Guardians was the best animated feature of 2012 – no matter what the Academy might have thought. It’s smart enough for older kids-at-heart and filled with lots of action and cool stuff to engage younger viewers. That it didn’t even get an Oscar® nomination is sad, but that won’t matter to most of its audience – and the Spring Gift Pack DVD release also features some cool video features, a nifty toy and some cool DIY stuff in its DVD-ROM content.
If Steven Soderbergh has really left filmmaking for good, he is definitely going out on a high note. Side Effects is a twisty piece of fun that swerves from apparent satire – about our heavily medicated culture – to thriller without missing a beat or ever losing its psychological edge.
The tagline for Warner Brothers newest theater release ‘Contagion’ is “nothing spreads like fear” and this movie relies heavily on that truism as its plot line. The first half hour of this star-studded movie plays out like an extended version of commercials for every disinfectant product you can think of. Like those commercials, ‘Contagion’ is filled with warnings about the horrors of touching everything and everyone around you.
For me, the problem with ‘Contagion’ and its premise is that, for the most part, it takes a very sanitized look at those horrors. Instead of throwing in some good old fashioned suspense and visual effects, the movie plods along at the pace and style of those documentary movies you used to see in science class in high school. I half expected to be informed at the end of the credits to stay in our seats because there was going to be a test on what we learned.
Let me be perfectly clear – although I’ve read the Holmes canon several time, and fifty or sixty [or so] of the multitudes of Holmes pastiches, I am not a Baker Street Irregular. Still, I would imagine that most Irregulars would find much to enjoy about Guy Ritchie’s take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal creation – but they would likely also [like me] find some jarring errors that do, indeed, detract from what is, essentially, a fun diversion.
One of the more egregious goofs concerns Dr. John H. Watson’s [Jude Law] first wife, Mary Morstan [Kelly Reilly], whom Holmes meets – in the canon, at least – while in the company of the good doctor. Not so here – though, as if to make up for that blunder, Ritchie’s Morstan has the kind of steel to her that attracted Watson in the canon.