Antoine Fuqua’s adaptation of the beloved, at least by me, 1980s television series “The Equalizer” bears almost no resemblance to the show except for a loose set up and the name of the protagonist. It offers even less in the way of surprise, but that doesn’t stop it from being nuts and awesome. And as much as I enjoyed the show when I was a kid, if this was on my TV now, I would tune in to each and every damn episode. The film continually ramps ups to such lunatic heights that eventually the protagonist, in true action movie form, slowly walks away from a full-size tanker he just blew without even seeming to notice. Now walking away from an explosion is standard stuff—satirized as it is in every way imaginable, from spoofs to car commercials—but the way the film approaches this moment is indicative of the overall manic approach.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
There is a great deal to like about Take Me to the River, the new music documentary from record producer, Memphis native, and director, Martin Shore (he also produced Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror). It’s an enthusiastic love letter to the Memphis Sound typified by the likes of Booker T. and the MGs, B.B. King, and Stax Records, studded with legendary musicians whose influence is still felt across popular music, and features an incredible soundtrack. Unfortunately, it also too closely resembles the energetic, improvisational jams these artists stage in the studio. While those sessions result in full songs, some of the most memorable, iconic tunes in music history, this film never coalesces into something greater than a collection of mildly interesting pieces.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Even if the name Jim Burns doesn’t immediately ring any bells, odds are that, as an avid consumer of science fiction over the previous decades, you’ve encountered more of his art than you know. He has worked on movies, games, and books for longer than many of us have been alive, and his shelves at home are speckled with trophies that include multiple Hugo Awards and numerous British Science Fiction Awards, among others. His gorgeous new book, The Art of Jim Burns: Hyperluminal is scheduled to hit bookstores (both brick and mortar as well as digital) at the end of this month and collects may of his paintings and covers, both that you’ve seen and that you haven’t.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Reading James Dashner’s best-selling young adult novel The Maze Runner, I wasn’t particularly impressed. That said, this is one of those rare times when you read a book, and though you don’t think much of the work as it is, you think to yourself that this might make a decent movie. Sure, the writing may be lackluster—just because it’s for a younger audience doesn’t mean you should be able to get away with subpar writing, but that’s a discussion for another time and place—and the characters are so-so, but there a number of elements that could translate well from the page to the screen.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are the duo responsible for last year’s indie horror hit “You’re Next.” While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it’s a super fun home invasion yarn, and full of solid scares and action (it’s hard to ever go completely wrong whenever you have dudes in creepy animal masks breaking into houses and terrorizing folks). When their latest collaboration, “The Guest,” starts out, you think you’re in for a similar ride. But that’s not how it all goes down, and what they’ve crafted here is a dark, entertaining thriller that’s familiar but still inventive in all the right places.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Zombie movies are ridiculously overdone. The marketplace is so saturated with mediocre-to-terrible films that it’s barely worth trying to wade through the nonsense to get to the gems. That said, every once in a while you come across one that reminds you of just how good the genre can be, and Jeremy Gardner’s The Battery is, thankfully, one of those that breathes a bit of much needed life into what is largely an undead genre. And lucky you, it’s now available on Blu-ray thanks to Scream! Factory.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
No one blows up your life quite like family. No one knows how push every button, pick at every scab, or tear open every old wound like the people who are supposed to love you the most. But even though no one can destroy you like family, no one can lift you up and piece you back together quite like they can, either. That’s the central theme in Craig Johnson’s new dramatic comedy The Skeleton Twins, which offers its two leads an opportunity to redefine the trajectory of their careers.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Zombies are hard. As great as they can be—see Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Wild Zero, among others, for movies, and the likes of World War Z for books—they’re also incredibly difficult to pull off with any originality or zest. For every title, book, movie, or comic, that hits, that really, truly delivers, there is a nearly endless list of those that completely miss the mark. One of these that never lands like it needs to is Dana Fredsti’s new undead novel Plague World.