Every now and again a movie comes along and is labeled as "critic proof", which basically means that despite whatever critics might have to say about it, fans will still see and enjoy it regardless. The last one that I know of was Sex and the City: The Movie. Not a great film, but I doubt many cared. The latest to join this impervious crowd is Twilight. You're probably aware of the extensive fan-base that surrounds Stephenie Meyer's books. It's impressive by all accounts, and downright scary to some. Given the immensity of fandom, I probably won't deter anyone from seeing the film by describing it as tedious, eye-rolling, clipped, and in some instances, downright poor. If you care to know why, then read on.
Analyzing Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno feels remarkably similar to what it must be like to review an actual porno. The film has baseline appeal, so the only question is whether it's really good or really bad. The film has a built-in draw since Smith mated his universe with Judd Apatow's, creating a cast and context that definitely gets you excited. But like most adult films, Zack and Miri serves a solitary purpose of providing a good time. Smith hits this low bar pretty easily, delivering punching, raunchy lines the likes of a headboard rapping against a wall. But for all the raucous obscenities and those fan-favorites delivering them, Zack and Miri is an adult film that delivers pretty much what's on the box.
I think it's safe to say that most expect Clint Eastwood's Changeling to be the next Million Dollar Baby. After all, Eastwood directed both, and instead of Hilary Swank front and center, it's now Angelina Jolie as single mother Christine Collins. Both films maintain a studied focus on the lead heroine and the events that surround her, but that's where the similarities end. While Baby was a delicate, heart-breaking gem made rich by a simple story and amazing performances, Changeling is quite the opposite - sprawling in its scale, with drama that is derived from the story's details, which are largely based on true events. While Changeling can wear the badge of "stranger than fiction" proudly, it's definitely no Million Dollar Baby.
I'm not a horror movie guy. Never have been, never will be. But in the last few years I've grown to respect certain films from the genre, whether for personal reasons or for critical reasons, but it's rare that I ever come across a horror movie that I genuinely love. Yesterday night I finally found one. I'm not sure whether it's my childhood affection for Halloween and the act of trick or treating that provoked my appreciation for this movie, but whatever the reason, by in the end I walked out a bigger fan of horror than I've ever been. Michael Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat is, in my own opinion, the absolute best horror movie I've seen in years and it's sadly being buried by Warner Brothers. Unless I convince them to change their mind.
I want to take this moment today to talk about one of my new favorite movies. It's very rare that I find a children's movie, or even a PG movie, that isn't pointlessly fast-paced and annoyingly over-the-top. But today I discovered a movie that not only entertained me to the fullest extent, but was a PG-rated kids adventure movie. City of Ember is easily one of the best family adventure films I've seen in a few years that is as thoroughly entertaining as it is an immense achievement for director Gil Kenan. I'm utterly surprised that more people aren't heading out in droves this weekend to see this magnificent film!
Post-9/11 thrillers have come and gone over the years, but none have ever really gotten the recipe right. The Kingdom is too heavy on action; Traitor tries to be too smart; and there's just no redeeming Rendition. It's easy to say that Ridley Scott's Body of Lies is a bit tardy, but I'd prefer to describe the film's entrance into this growing genre as fashionably late. With Scott at the helm, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe as leads, Body of Lies is a blockbuster both on paper and in execution. The truth is, it's taken a visionary like Ridley Scott to combine the right ingredients in such a way as to create the only truly compelling film of its kind that, despite dealing with combustible topics, manages not to destroy itself.
Shia LaBeouf is unquestionably a hot commodity nowadays, and after seeing the previews for Eagle Eye, I had grounds to expect it to be the next blockbuster thriller. My expectation seemed reasonable, since the film reunited LaBeouf and director D.J. Caruso from the respectable Disturbia, and the original idea for Eagle Eye came from Steven Spielberg, no less. But you know what they say about judging a book by its cover. Eagle Eye may look promising on paper, but no degree of ridiculous gadgetry or blinding car crash can keep you from seeing the real truth - the film is an explosive disappointment.
Choke has got to be one of the most misshapen, lewd tales of 2008, and is aptly named since most will find it hard to swallow given its odd texture. At the same time, if chewed on and worked around properly, it's a satisfying film with a wonderfully complex taste. Behind the sex addiction, con artistry and degeneracy, lead character Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) is actually a pretty decent guy, trying his best to sort out his life and relationships. And though I doubt many have had a "man overboard" situation with a Ben Wa ball (aka anal beads), there's definitely something in Victor to which we can all relate.
Don Cheadle's character, Samir Horn, is a man conflicted. He's Middle-Eastern yet also a US citizen; he's a concerted Muslim but also a pragmatist; he helps to further terrorist goals but works for the CIA. So when Samir turns to his girlfriend at one point in Jeffrey Nachmanoff's directorial debut, Traitor, and says "the truth is complicated," he's definitely not kidding. This complexity, along with a rounded cast, a globe-trotting story and a peppering of smart action makes Traitor an entertaining espionage thriller that is not only uniquely smart, but timely. But while the film doesn't reach Bourne or Syriana heights, it's certainly a thought-provoking and cautionary tale about the many shades of grey that exist in the world.
His role as faux film director Damien Cockburn in Tropic Thunder was fleeting and forgettable, but Brit funnyman Steve Coogan is the sacrilegious heart and soul of Hamlet 2, a film as offbeat, laughable and endearing as the play it portrays. As the failed actor, Dana Marschz, who resorts to teaching high school drama in Arizona, Coogan is positively hysterical, beaming optimism at every obstacle - a disposition that nearly smacks of mental disability. Coogan's unique delivery and wit is something you'll either embrace up like Jesus' love - Coogan, after all, does play the messiah in "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" - or, like pleated khakis, it may not be your particular style. Hamlet 2 is arguably Coogan's coming out party, speaking strictly in terms of his stateside career. The comedian has been around for some time across the pond, but largely has gathered small roles domestically - literally, as thumb-sized Octavius in Night at the Museum.
As pointed and uncomplicated as its title, Death Race is a pure sadistic smash-em-up that provides some of the most explosive, gratuitous fun at the box office this summer. Based on the 1975 original, Death Race 2000, Paul W. S. Anderson's take on the material isn't a remake, but a solid update to the dystopian tale of vehicular carnage and the public's devolution into violent voyeurism. In Death Race, private companies now run the prisons and make money off gladiator-like events, pitting prisoners against each other to battle until death, all the while streaming the mayhem to the masses. While obviously not real, we as viewers could be considered part of the blood-thirsty audience cheering for destruction. And cheer we do.
While I wouldn't call myself a Star Wars fanatic, I am a big fan of the films and mythology Lucas has created. Somehow the existance of any previous animated Star Wars shows escaped me, and I thought this was the first. Luckly a friend of mine brought me up to speed and let me borrow the animated shows, that first aired back in 2003, on DVD. After watching those and loving them, I got really excited to see Star Wars: The Clone Wars on the big screen. Thankfully my excitement was not left entirely unrewarded.
This film roughly fits in between Episode's II and III of the live-action films, in theory. As we come into the story, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are immersed in battle fighting with the Republic to fend off the onslaught of Separatist droid troops.
More than any other film genre, comedies are all about opinion. If you watch a comedy that isn't your type of humor, you're just not going to like it. Other factors can sometimes include who you see it with or the attitude of the audience in the theater. There have been times where I have seen a comedy, like Mystery Men, that didn't seem funny the first time but then when I went again with different friends, I thought it was hilarious. Last week I had a similar experience when I saw Tropic Thunder. While I did think it had some really clever and funny parts, overall it just didn't do that much for me.
When you hit an amusement park, you can expect to encounter a wide range of rides, each with its own story and unique experience. There's the old-fashioned mine ride, alongside the flashy adventure coaster, set next to the dark and creepy slow-goer. Some amusements are more fun than others, but the variety and excitement usually makes for a good time. That's pretty much how Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder goes. With an insane array of off-beat and cleverly crafted Hollywood archetypes, Tropic Thunder is one of the funniest outings of the summer. Sure, there is some downtime between rides, but any feeling of 'waiting around' is fleeting. The ultimate attraction proves to be the king of the season, Robert Downey Jr., whose performance is worth the price of admission alone.