The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 could have gone wrong in so many ways that it’s a genuine relief to be able to say it’s infinitely better than the book – at least, so far. It’s smart and thought provoking while having considerably more action that I was expecting. In fact, it’s the best film in the series, so far.
Dumb and Dumber was a really smart movie about a couple of really stupid people. Dumb and Dumber To is not.
It was only a matter of time before Disney tackled an animated Marvel movie. Picking an extremely obscure title allowed the company to set up a unique world and introduce a group of genuinely fun characters.
Loss leads to superheroic adventure in Disney’s Big Hero 6. It is one of the best films of the year – in any genre.
Christopher Nolan’s new epic, Interstellar, is a magnificent achievement technically but falls a bit short in terms of story and character development. It’s an intriguing mix of science fact and fiction that attempts to turn a potential end of the world scenario with a phoenix-like rise from the ashes story. It spends a lot of time thinking and paying homage to Kubrick, but falls short with plot points that don’t add up and maybe one-and-a-half characters that are at all developed.
Matthew McConaughey shines as Cooper, an engineer turned farmer by necessity and Mackenzie Foy shines as his intelligent, earnest, determined young daughter, Murph. Otherwise, there are no characters we can really care about – which makes all the cool science stuff less relatable.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a brilliant bombastic, bizarre skewering of: superhero movies, egocentric actors, actors’ insecurities, Broadway, Broadway critics, and pretty much all things entertainment.
The story of Riggan Thomson’s (Michael Keaton) effort to be taken seriously as an actor/director/playwright after having starred in three superhero movies twenty years ago – Birdman is directed as a continuous shot (which is difficult because the film takes place over a considerably longer period that its two-hour running time).
Why would we go to see yet another hitman comes out of retirement to wreak vengeance movie?
Because it takes the reliable (okay, maybe overused) trope and reinvigorates it with style, a degree of wit and a unique world with unusual details. Also, Keanu Reeves at his best.
St. Vincent is a film that tells a story that we’ve seen many times before – a curmudgeonly older guy rediscovers life because of the influence of a child, while teaching that child about life. The difference between St. Vincent and those many other similarly plotting movies is that this film has a cast that includes Bill Murray.
Remember those Ouija boards that we used to use to scare ourselves silly when we were kids? Well, there’s a microbudgeted horror film about some kids who get into big supernatural trouble because they didn’t follow the rules. It’s a pretty lame effort at bringing classic (which is to say clichéd) tropes to an adolescent-friendly introduction to Horror 101, but it’ll make a big profit even if only does have its predicted $20 mill opening weekend.
Fury ratchets up the intensity from the opening moments and maintains it for over two hours through the introduction of characters that initially feel stock but become something else – and escalating violence and hints at the erosion of decency that war can cause.
Though there are few solid jump moments and a few genuine scares in Dracula Untold, it is, essentially, just another superhero origin story – albeit for a slightly darker character than usual. At least he doesn’t sparkle…
A lonely, sad sack scientist wannabe discovers a combination of very low frequencies that appear to make people extremely suggestible. At first, he uses his discovery to act out his wildest fantasies, but then, as his past catches up with him, he goes farther than even he could have imagined.
LFO is a micro-budgeted, low-fi sci-fi comedy from Sweden’s Antonio Tublen that looks at human nature in a supremely twisted way. It was one of my favorite films at this year’s Calgary International Film Festival.