While shooting Taken, Liam Neeson thought this movie would be a straight-to-video actioner, but he was getting paid to work in Paris, so it was a fair trade under the circumstances. Based on the crudest outline of the plot, it’s easy to see where he would make that mistake.
What makes this movie work, and elevated it to the cinematic first team, was an emotionally valid setup and an actor with the chops for the important father/daughter dynamic, and who can still credibly bring off the physical requirements the action scenes.
When I first saw Avatar in the theaters, I experienced it the way it was supposed to be seen, in full-blown IMAX 3D. Seen that way, it was a visual and aural experience unlike any I’d had before or since in the movie theater. James Cameron had eschewed the usual 3-D gimmickry of objects seeming to fly over the audience’s heads, and used the tools at his disposal to create an all-encompassing fantasy environment that seemed real enough to touch.
Some people even reported feelings of depression after the movie because they preferred the alternate reality of the movie to their own. While I think such people were already in need of serious therapy and possible medication, I can understand how this movie, more than any other, would be the one to inspire that kind of “separation anxiety.”
As a visual spectacle, this film has thrown down an intimidating gauntlet that will be hard to top for the sheer exhilaration factor. Even “King of the World” Cameron himself might be feeling a little performance anxiety as he prepares Avatar 2, because even he might be hard-pressed to top his own creation.
Like its protagonist, Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) this movie can’t decide if it should mercilessly mock the idea of an Army unit researching psychic phenomena as an alternative to war or cheer for the collection of oddballs who threw their lives into the endeavor. Director Grant Heslov tries to have it both ways and comes close to pulling it off.
Wanted is the ultimate vacation movie, meaning that first your brain takes a vacation, followed by the laws of physics. Finally everything resembling logic just sort of buggers off and joins them on holiday. It’s bloody, sexy, brutish, noisy fun.
Yeah, that’s right. I said fun. As pleasures go, this one is guiltier than O.J.
Maybe it’s a side-effect of just watching The Fighter, but the title Frost/Nixon makes this film sound more like a prize fight. The comparison is not wholly inappropriate. David Frost (Michael Sheen) was a media bantamweight trying to move up in class while Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) was a political heavyweight looking for an easy tune-up for his eventual rehabilitation from the Watergate scandal.
Combine a completely unnecessary remake of a 1950s science-fiction classic with a starring role for Keanu Reeves and you have a recipe for nothing to get excited about. In that respect, the 2008 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still does not disappoint. It unsuccessfully tries to hide its narrative emptiness behind a noisy CGI light show and half-hearted lip service to a ripped-from-the-headlines current-events subject.
In the end, Guy Ritchies’ take on the Holmes mythos is a handsomely executed, entertaining action movie with a Victorian setting, but every time “Holmes” stepped on screen, I kept expecting him to strap on an iron suit and start fighting terrorists.
Almost since the days of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the mid-eighties, the powers that be at Paramount had been threatening to do a new Star Trek television series or film that would follow the hallowed characters of the original series through their early days at Starfleet Academy, sort of a Star Trek version of Muppet Babies. However, the idea of casting younger actors in the iconic roles of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy always seemed to carry the faint whiff of sacrilege, like a female pope or eating a cheeseburger with mayonnaise.
Invictus deals with two subjects alien to many Americans: African politics and rugby. After seeing it, I felt I understood just a bit more… about African politics. Rugby remains a complete mystery to me. It still seems like a bunch of drunk farm boys trying to steal someone’s chickens. I firmly believe it was invented in a courtroom to explain to a judge why the defendants had been chasing each other through the mud in their underwear.
What has always amazed me about the combined output of Pixar Animation is not just the consistent quality of the storytelling, but how different each film is from all the others. The Incredibles was as little like Cars as it was different from WALL-E. Disney’s traditional animation since The Little Mermaid, while often highly accomplished, has a certain sameness to it. With the exception of The Lion King, every film in that canon seems to have a heroine that resembles Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
Up continues Pixar’s proud tradition of breaking its own mold with a charming film that takes a touching story of an old man’s promise to his late wife and effortlessly combines it with a giddy child’s fantasy. Continue reading →
In some ways this movie is the cinematic equivalent of artificial insemination using a dead man’s swimmers. A.I. had been on Stanley Kubrick’s back, front, and middle burners at various times since the early seventies. For a while, it looked like it wouldn’t see the light of day until development hell froze over and, when Kubrick kicked it after completing Eyes Wide Shut, it seemed inevitable that A.I. would forever remain as Kubrick’s great “lost” project.