Wally Pfister has photographed some of the most beautiful, visually stunning films in recent memory, movies like Inception and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. His first turn at the helm, the tech-thriller Transcendence, can certainly be gorgeous to look at, full of sweeping aerial shots and low-angle close ups of nature, but the rest of the is flat, stiff imagining of the worst-case scenario.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Walking out of the theater, you can’t help but be disappointed with “Oculus.” That isn’t to say Mike Flanagan’s haunted mirror tale is bad, because it isn’t, but there’s a world of unrealized potential left on the screen. Between Flanagan’s last outing, the no-budget “Absentia,” and a cast that includes geek favorites Karen Gillan (“Doctor Who”) and Katee Sackhoff (“Battlestar Galactica”), you have higher hopes than what you get.
When most of us heard that the version of Gareth Evans’ “The Raid 2: Berandal” that screened at Sundance earlier this year was 149 minutes long, we assumed that was an ideal cut, and that the theatrical release would be trimmed significantly. Nope. The film is being unleashed in its full, two-and-a-half-hour glory—the true director’s cut reportedly hovers around two forty-five—and thank whatever deity or higher power you put your faith in, because it is as nuts as you hoped it would be. “Berandal” takes everything the first film, “The Raid: Redemption,” does and cranks it up exponentially. An increased budget means multiple locations, bigger set pieces, and insane action scene piled on top of insane action scene.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Now that AMC’s hit zombie drama The WalkingDead has shuffled off for another end-of-the-year hiatus full of casting updates and random fan speculation, we have some space to take a step back and examine the season that was. Going into season four, I was hopeful, despite the fact that, since nearly day one, I’ve had a troubled, at best, relationship with this show. Season three saw one of the best episodes of the series (“Clear”), and some of the absolute worst (“Arrow on the Doorpost,” among others). Plagued since the beginning by a lack of overall consistency, season three raised fluctuations in quality to a damn art form.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Captain America was never one of my favorite characters growing up. He always came across as Marvel’s version of Superman—a one note, flag-waving, rah-rah, wholesome good guy who sees the world in black and white. In other words, he was boring. (Before you start yelling at me, citing specific issues and storylines, I’m well aware that this is a gross oversimplification of both characters, but that’s a discussion for another time and place.) That’s why I was surprised how much I enjoyed 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.”
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
You’re at home one Friday or Saturday night, it’s late, you’re alone, aimlessly flipping through channels, thinking to yourself, “I should just get up and put in a movie.” But you know that you’re far too lazy for that and figure that if you search long enough, surely you’ll find something worth watching. Then, as if by divine intervention, you land on a random channel you’ve never heard of, maybe it’s your local cable access provider, and they’re playing an old black and white B-movie. There’s a dashing young man driving a car, a buxom young lady with a ditzy disposition in the passenger seat, and just when you’re about continue your search, zap, a flying saucer comes out of nowhere, and you’re hooked. We’re talking cheesy, campy, and you wish you had some buddies around to help you make fun of this, Mystery Science Theater 3000 style. You can see the string holding up the UFO, and you can’t believe how wooden the dialogue is, but at the same time, the movie is totally endearing, and you thoroughly enjoy your time spent together.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Despite numerous issues, general ups and downs, and an overall lack of consistency, one thing AMC’s The WalkingDead has always managed to do well is end a season. Explosions, mass chaos, and major character deaths have all played into season finales. Not perfect, and a definite tale of two halves, “A,” the 16th and final episode of season four, is a fitting and worthy addition to this family.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Packaged as a non-stop action extravaganza, David Ayers’ (“End of Watch”) “Sabotage” is not the movie you expect. That’s not to say there aren’t big action pieces, the structure is bookended by the two most notable incidents, but the main narrative thrust is supposed to be a mystery, though we’re not talking about a particularly mysterious, or memorable, mystery. And not one overly concerned with finding answers, either. The end result is never really in question, but that doesn’t matter, that’s not the point. What “Sabotage” is, at the film’s heart, is an excuse to watch Arnold Schwarzenegger be a complete and total badass. Nasty, mean, and appallingly violent at times, this is a film not even necessarily for Arnold fans, but for fans of pulpy late 1970s/early 1980s revenge tales, the kind that star Charles Bronson. “Sabotage” is like a bloodier version of the entire Cannon Films catalog, which is way more appealing than another by the numbers action vehicle.