The seemingly bucolic town of Derry looks like a place you could settle down – if only it weren’t its high statistics for people going missing (with adults it’s 6% higher than the average; with kids it’s ‘much higher’).
When kids start to go missing, for the rest of the town that means missing posters on telephone posts and in shop windows – for Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), it’s barely noticeable until his younger brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) goes disappears while floating a waxed paper boat in the gutter.
Full disclosure: I have not seen any of the films from The Conjuring universe and it doesn’t matter, because Annabelle: Creation is, in terms of the series’ mythology, is the origin story that kicks off the events of all the others.
That said, Annabelle takes some stock ideas, dresses them up with carefully modulated pacing, light and sound – and a very game cast – and kicks out the jams!
In 1993, a high school production of a play called The Gallows failed to finish its premiere performance when the male lead was accidentally hanged on the stage gallows. Now, the same high school is about to try to perform the play again.
What if a massive earthquake happened along the San Andreas Fault?
That’s the premise of the epic Dwayne Johnson disaster flick San Andreas, which finds Ray (Johnson) and his estranged wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), trying to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco to find their daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario).
San Andreas opens on May 29, 2015. Check out the first trailer for San Andreas after the jump.
You think I’d learn. Every time I check out a movie based on a videogame, I’m let down – sometimes to an extreme [like with Max Payne, DOOM and the original Street Fighter movie]; sometimes by the tiniest of margins. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is one of the latter.
Here’s a movie that features some of the wittier martial arts choreography to be filmed in the last few years, and there’s a clever – even wistful – parallel father/daughter arc that shows Chun-Li [Kristin Kreuk] to be treasured by her father [Edmund Chen], and Bison’s [Neal McDonough] daughter used solely as a repository for the last of the goodness in his soul.
Unfortunately, the film falls into the usual origin story knee-deep exposition and too little actual martial arts sequences. Performance-wise, the cast is pretty good. Kristin Kreuk is at least adequate as Chun-Li; Robin Shou gives Gen [her mentor] a combination of gravity and humor that works really well; Neal McDonough is suitably psycho as Bison, and the sly chemistry between Interpol agent Nash [Chris Klein] and Bangkok cop Maya [Moon Bloodgood]definitely adds to the mix. Only Michael Clarke Duncan [Balrog, Bison’s number one enforcer] doesn’t fit – more because of the script than Duncan.
Andrzej Bartkowiak’s direction is crisp enough but he simply has too much material to cram into the film’s ninety-six minutes. The result is a movie that does entertain on a basic level, but is missing the kind of pure excitement that it needs to reach the next level.
New Line’s Journey to the Center of the Earth is a flimsy plot – loosely based on Jules Verne’s novel of the same name – used to set up a string of wild [and at times gross and/or grotesque] 3D effects. The good news is that the combination of cast and CG effects make it – literally – a great ride.
Trevor Anderson’s [Brendan Fraser] work on seismic effects is threatened by a lack of results. When his nephew, Sean [Josh Hutcherson], comes to visit, a comment on his dad’s favorite book [guess…] leads to the discovery that seismic shifts lead to an unexpected location – and the figures match, precisely, those from the time when Trevor’s brother, Max, disappeared. The figures lead Trevor and Sean to Iceland and a mountain guide, Hannah Ásgeirsson [Anita Briem], whose father was a colleague of Max’s. Before you know it, the three are at the center of the planet!
Outside of encounters with luminescent birds, extinct dinosaurs, piranha the size of Great Danes and other odd occurrences, that’s all there is to it. What makes it work is that Fraser, Hutcherson and Briem give themselves over to the thrill ride completely. The screenplay, by Michael Weiss, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, gives our heroes plenty of exciting situations to deal with – and a number of good [if not terribly memorable] lines to keep us the edges of our seats. Eric Brevig’s direction is frenetic enough that, even with a few pauses for breath and a bit of emotional interplay, the film zips by in a compact ninety-three minutes – without feeling too short. The 3D is generally very good, though there are a few places where it is outstanding. My personal favorite [which is to say, the one that made me jump the highest] involves a piranha – and I guarantee you won’t see it coming [sorry…].
It’s a pity that Journey to the Center of the Earth opens the same weekend as Hellboy II and the new Eddie Murphy movie [which is likely not half as much fun]. It would be a shame to see it get lost in the box office shuffle. It’s far too much pure fun for that.