The Grinch Review

Illumination Delivers Another Perfectly Acceptable if not Necessarily Exceptional Animated Diversion in this Re-Telling of the Dr. Suess Classic.

Bohemian Rhapsody Review

This Queen biopic Fails to Transcend the Genre the Way its Subjects Transcended the Music Scene, but at Least the Music is Good.

Overlord Review

Overlord Combines the Terror of War with the Terror of a Zombie Apocalypse and Accomplishes Exactly what it Means To.

The Nutcraker and the Four Realms Review

An All-Star Cast Attempts to Usher The Nutcracker Story to a New Generation Via Disney Blockbuster, but Unfortunately the Results Fall Short of the Ambition.

A Star is Born Review

Bradley Cooper Writes, Directs, Sings, and Stars in this Fourth Incarnation of this Story Alongside Lady Gaga to Rapturous Results.

DON JON Review

Joseph Gordon-Levitt would like you to believe his directorial debut is a comedy, a commentary on the unrealistic expectations media-consuming millennials have come to expect because of what they see on the internet and in the movies. That these narcissistic brats who constantly text and stare at screens rather than go outside or spend quality one on one time with each other talking face to face have become so self-involved that they are numb to the effect another person might have on them; that, in many ways, we are incapable of experiencing real and true emotion. That is what the advertisements for Don Jon would have you believe, that Gordon-Levitt makes his writing and directing debut behind the smug script that caters specifically to his age set and cashes in on the unknown truth of what romance has become. There is good and bad to the fact that none of this is actually true. Don Jon is as much a romantic comedy with the R-rated twist of porn thrown into the mix as Flight was a mystery thriller about how a pilot saved almost everyone on board after the plane somehow malfunctioned. What makes Don Jon so engaging is the pure energy and palpable excitement that has been put into the project by its writer, director and star. This is clearly a project he's worked tirelessly on and to have the opportunity to manage and control a creative venture is something the multi-talented Gordon-Levitt isn't going to let slip away without leaving an impression. It is what kind of impression he leaves though that makes his film something of a question mark to figure out as you walk out of the theater. Sure, it tries to have its cake and eat it too, but it goes about it in such a charming way and has enough of a solid script and great casting to forgive the formulaic pitfalls it comes around to in the last fifteen or so minutes of the film. I like Gordon-Levitt, I think he has made smart choice after smart choice and continues to show why he deserves the recognition he's been receiving since breaking the child star curse four years ago with (500) Days of Summer. In many ways, that film and Don Jon are kindred spirits in that both characters played by Gordon-Levitt have very specific expectations of what love is supposed to be and as a director Gordon-Levitt clearly has expectations for what his film wants and needs to be as well, but while it feels like he almost gets there he's still missing that something extra.

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 Review

Back in 2009 I walked, unsuspecting, into an IMAX theater on a rainy, early morning looking to fill my day with nothing but pure escapism and hopefully a little fun. It was a weekday and no one else was in the theater and so I sat in what I could most accurately pinpoint as the center of this massive room and kicked back in front of the largest screen my state has to offer to watch an animated film. I had no expectations, but I was beginning to attempt to see as many films as possible so I could write about them regularly and though I hadn't heard much about this smaller, but impressively cast flick I was excited because the great Bill Hader was getting a leading role and I'd heard good things about the source material it came from. Needless to say, I came out of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs having done nothing short of escaping the dreary day outside and getting wrapped up in the story of Flint Lockwood and Swallow Falls. Not only had the film provided gorgeous animation to drench the world and its creations in, but it was relentlessly funny. I laughed from beginning to end. Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (21 Jump Street) had given the film a quirky sense of humor and a pacing that never allowed the audience to get hung up on anything they didn't want them too, keeping the focus on Flint and his invention while littering this world with interesting and funny supporting characters that added layers and layers of, well, character. Once again, needless to say, I was slightly worried when they announced a sequel, but not because I wasn't interested in the further adventures of Flint and his gang, but because Miller and Lord wouldn't be returning to the directors chairs and what set the film apart from the rest of the pack was its off-brand of humor and break-neck pacing that matched its protagonists energy. Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn do well to take notes from their predecessors though as they allow Cloudy 2 to pick up the comedic end of the stick and run with it while delivering all the food puns you could ever hope to enjoy. In a year filled with sub-par animated features, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 stands to be the funniest and most enjoyable trip of the year.

RUSH Review

Upon first hearing about Rush I was under the impression that it would mainly center itself around the wreck in which Formula 1 race car driver Niki Lauda was severely burned and had such a drive to compete and will to win and become world champion that he returned to racing less than a month after his wreck and surprised everyone. Even in that admittedly compact and typical synopsis it is easy to see why this true life story would be ideal to tell on the big screen, especially with the bonus of being a sports movie. I also assumed that Chris Hemsworth would be playing Lauda as he seemed the central point of the project and I had no former knowledge of the world of Formula 1 racing or what type of history they were pulling from here. When I watched the first trailer for the film and discovered that not only was the film about Lauda, as portrayed by Daniel Brühl of Inglorious Basterds, overcoming the brakes his near fatal crash put on his career, but also a famous rivalry between he and the far more adventurous James Hunt (Hemsworth) I was pleasantly surprised there was more to the story. While I've never been a fan of racing it was easy to see why this movie could be an intriguing piece of drama and with Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) at the helm it was at least guaranteed to some degree that there would be a level of pedigree to the project, but whether it would stray towards safe, middle ground or exceptional territory was what we were left to determine. Lucky for us, Rush is not simply the movie of a man who drives cars in circles for a living overcoming a set of odds, but it is almost a psychological evaluation of two men who have vastly different approaches to the same thing and how those approaches define them as men and determine every other aspect of their lives that has nothing to do with their job that happens to put them in life or death situations every time they start their engines. It is a fascinating and thrilling film to experience, one I could hardly make any complaints about other than the fact that it didn't have as impressive an impact on me as I expected. Still, this is a well crafted film that defies story convention and features great performances from its two leads that will serve as a true breakout for one and a definitive breakaway for the other.

First Full Trailer for DISNEY'S FROZEN


Since the inception of Pixar one has had to unfortunately be rather hesitant when approaching a film strictly produced by the parent company that once ran the market of childrens animated films. As their animated feature run started to dwindle after 2002's Lilo & Stitch with Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, and Home on the Range failing to capture that once inherent magic the studio also had a hard time competing with Pixar when they began producing computer animated flicks. With the one-two punch of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph though is seems Disney animation studios is back in the game and with their latest feature on the horizon we have finally received our first full glimpse at what we can expect from Frozen. Once again, the animation looks really impressive and the characters, who look much like the humans of Tangled, seem cute and funny enough with the comic relief and likely hot toy of the season this Christmas being Josh Gad's Snow Man named Olaf. What really excited me about the trailer though is that it seems to have the tone of a Disney film from when I was a kid. It looks to have the adventure aspect of something like Aladdin and the romance of a Beauty and the Beast or Lady & the Tramp. I'm not saying it will end up being as good as those films as the trailer is a bit more cheesy than I'd expected, but it has that kind of energy to it. This and the fact the film is directed by Chris Buck (Tarzan) and Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph) and is said to feature musical numbers that hopefully have a score to match the greats of the studios past works. Frozen features the voices of Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Idina Menzel, Alan Tudyk, Santino Fontana, Chris Williams and opens in 3D on November 27th.

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Series Premiere Review

There has been much hype around Marvel's transition from the big screen to the small and we finally have our first idea about how Joss Whedon and Kevin Fiege will satisfy fans super hero appetites in between their massive feature films. I have always been weary of TV shows that originate as spin-offs from movies (or from other TV shows for that matter), but as this was simply going to fall into a rather familiar primetime genre and wasn't going to try to make a super hero mini-series, but a look at the liitle-seen government agency in the background of the big movies there was reason to believe it could work. That and Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson has become somewhat of a fan favorite by this point and that he would be heading it up lent the series a whole other level of credibility (and hey! even Cobie Smulders shows up for a few scenes as Maria Hill). Though it is impossible to gauge how the entire series will turn out by simply watching one episode it at least gives us an indication of how the makers plan to structure this and how it will intersect with the movies it will be correlating with. I highly doubt that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will directly tie-in or effect any of the events that occur in Thor: The Dark World, but we may see some easter eggs in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and most certainly in The Avengers sequel should the series be successful enough to make it more than two seasons. Given that idea I think it's necessary to give these characters a shot and see how well they can expand the Marvel cinematic universe as that is after all, the point. Whedon, who created the show and wrote the pilot with his brother Jed and his wife Maurissa Tancharoen, is a series that sports his signature humor (which I've never been particularly attracted to), but does well to manage a large cast of characters and keep the audience engaged and on its toes enough that I will continue to watch if not simply because it has "Marvel" above the title, but because I want to be in the know when I walk into their movies in the future.

First Trailer for NEED FOR SPEED















As a non-video game player as well as someone who didn't see director Scott Waugh's previous directorial effort (Act of Valor) I really have no excitement or anticipation when it comes to the big screen adaptation of Need for Speed. The one intriguing factor here is the cast. With Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul heading it up there is a certain amount of intrigue in how the actor will fare with big budget material and a leading man status while his supporting cast is made up of Dominic Cooper (seemingly hamming it up as the baddie) Kid Cudi, Imogen Poots and Michael Keaton. These guys alone would likely pique my interest in a flick, but the trailer is surprisingly eloquent for a movie based on a video game about flashy cars and loud engines. Given, this is merely a teaser and we don't know if the entire film will mirror the tone of the trailer, but it would be interesting to see the film go in a completely different direction than everyone was expecting. While the cars are certainly there and the footage rivals a Fast & Furious flick there is clearly more drama at play here. The story will follow Paul's low-key mechanic who is framed by Cooper's character for manslaughter. This somehow leads to underground racing tournaments that no doubt play a large role in the resolution of this film. Consider me interested, but not necessarily excited. Need for Speed opens in theaters on March 14, 2014.

First Trailer for DOM HEMINGWAY


Having just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and receiving a wave of positive reviews it is nice to see some of what all the fuss concerning Dom Hemingway is about. Though this opens in the UK this November we here in the States will have to wait until next spring to see the final result, but if the festival reviews and debut poster weren't enough to get you interested, this debut trailer certainly should. Jude Law plays the titular hero of the story as a guy who has just been released from prison and is determined to recover the hush money that was stolen from him. While the trailer does a fine job of conveying this simple premise what it really sells is Law's performance. They guy is hell on wheels with a drink always in his hand and with mutton chops worthy of hard bragging. It's been a while since Law has taken on a project that he could really sink his teeth into (though he was easily the best part of last years Anna Karenina), but this looks to turn things around for him both commercially (maybe) and artistically. The guy is a talented and charismatic actor and I wouldn't be surprised if this spurred the kind of change The Lincoln Lawyer did for Matthew McConaughey's career renaissance. Here's hoping that it does and that someone decides to move the release date of this up stateside, otherwise I'll just have to watch this trailer over and over again, which isn't all bad as it has plenty of laughs to hold one over. Dom Hemingway also stars Richard E. Grant, Emilia Clarke, Jumayn Hunter, Madalina Diana Ghena, Demian Bichir and opens in the U.S. on April 4, 2014.

THE KINGS OF SUMMER Home Video Review

The Kings of Summer was one of the first out of the gate, but has been the last entry in 2013's summer coming-of-age tales that I was able to view. It comes sooner after seeing The Spectacular Now than any other margin between the other films which may or may not detract from what I thought of the film, but as it is more easily compared to something of a mix between Mud and The Way, Way Back I was rather thrilled by what I received here in terms of conveying what nostalgia means to different people and why it is so vital to our existence. While it is difficult to say one is better than the other, what The Kings of Summer has going for it is a distinct set of style. In his feature debut Jordan Vogt-Roberts has enlivened the typical going-ons of the doldrums of summer to a couple of teenagers by infusing it with a lively sense of location and purpose in character that isn't so easily defined in script form. Not to take away from the script which has given the director and his stars solid, genuine characters to work with and a wry sense of humor that consistently surprises with its timing and wit. While the most obvious culprit of this highly funny film comes in the form of Moises Arias's odd man out Biaggio (and he is so awkwardly hilarious and random it will be what you take away from the film), but I was more surprised at the level of inclusion that Nick Offerman's character received and the level at which Vogt-Roberts seems to have allowed him to let his own sense of humor run free. At its core, The Kings of Summer is as much a story of childhood friends and making memories as it is the story of a father and son relationship that has had an unbelievable amount of strain placed on it due to the loss of the wife and mother in the scenario. Both Offerman and other feature newcomer, Nick Robinson, who plays his son Joe bring a covered mournfulness to their performances that tell us early on their is something more to who these people are and that we should stay engaged to get to know them better, watch them grow and come to realize how special and how humble it is simply living in the now. Good news for audiences is that it isn't tough to stay engaged given the caliber of inventiveness, writing and performances on display here. That it doesn't suffer from fatigue is a minor miracle, that it manages to turn out a few memorable moments to define itself bodes all the better for it.

PRISONERS Review

Prisoners is as much a compelling drama as it is an investigation into the psyche of moral dilemma and how far is too far when the end goal is hope, but the road is littered with hate. It presents an interesting debate for the audience to discuss not only because it documents a gripping series of events, but because it begs you to ask yourself what you might do were you placed under the circumstances of the characters on display here. The film opens with a stark shot of a wooded area. The gray and light tints of green and brown are almost overwhelming, but we are soothed by the voice over of a man praying. He is saying the "Our Father," and though my first thought was somewhat dismissive of this being a cheap trick to try and be mysterious and vague by serving up the familiar words as a cautionary layout for where we were headed there came to be no religious theme, but simply a characteristic that helped us better view the complexities and the eventual battered state of Hugh Jackman's body and soul. Director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) makes his big studio debut with this film and he has picked and intricate and tightly plotted script from Aaron Guzikowski (Contraband, I know, I know) and filled it with such massive talent that what at first seems to be little more than a story about two girls being kidnapped with their respective families doing whatever it takes to try and find them and turns it into something akin to the great crime dramas that have come out over the past two decades, mostly thanks to David Fincher. I mention Fincher specifically as Prisoners shares more than a tone with both Se7en and more appropriately Zodiac as it featured a subdued but impressive performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and this film gives us an equally subtle, but more intense showing from the actor. The film is a mystery wrapped in the normality's of middle America which allows it that extra layer that makes it all the more chilling, all the more close to home, yet doesn't flinch or back away from what it's committed itself to when it gets down to the tough spots. Prisoners is a brutally relentless, but consistently engaging film that stays with you.

A SINGLE SHOT Review

What is a tragic character study comes to light slowly in David Rosenthal's A Single Shot. With its southern gothic tones that nearly dip their toes into the horror genre at certain points we tread lightly along with lead character John Moon (Sam Rockwell) as he sulks through the woods that provide the backdrop to his now barren trailer where he lives and waits, pointlessly, for the return of his wife and son. I have yet to see any previous directorial efforts by Rosenthal prior to his latest, but it is clear he has a gift for being able to access the inner-workings of his characters minds and translate them to the screen without resorting to over-indulgent tactics that exclude some audience members. Either that or he was extremely lucky to land someone as versatile and gifted as Rockwell to play his lead character that starts his journey as a man desperate for normality without the intelligence to see what it might actually take to get back to that point. We are subjected to Moon's journey as things only begin to unravel. As the title suggests, a single shot sets off a chain reaction of cat and mouse that allows the film to become much more generic than its tone and prestigious cast would indicate. The nearly two hour film moves at a somnolent pace and doesn't return to the surprising or poignant place it began in until its final scene where, miraculously, we are provided with a genuine emotional payoff that I didn't see coming. That final scene made me want to re-consider my overall opinion of the film, but as I thought through the piece as a whole it seemed too much an intriguing start and perfectly balanced conclusion with a messy middle that comfortably fell into conventions rather than a film who had the nerve to stick with its protagonist and trust that his psyche alone was worth following. There are films that make you question what exactly you're looking for in them and when you have to ask that question it usually means there is no clear objective or that the film itself isn't sure what it wants to be. That is the vibe that comes from A Single Shot as I could see that it wanted to be a dark and brooding story from the untold diaries of backwoods Appalachia, but it didn't necessarily know where to go to accomplish that and so instead became a familiar thriller with the saving grace of Sam Rockwell at its center.  

First Trailer for NEBRASKA

I'm a moderate fan of director Alexander Payne. He gets a lot of credit for his 2004 flick, Sideways, but I much prefer 2011's The Descendants simply because of where I was at in life and how it hit me. I haven't re-visited Sideways in a few years and I never made it around to seeing his 2002 feature About Schmidt or 1999's Election, but regardless I'm rather excited to see his latest film, Nebraska. Having premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year to lukewarm reviews it has still managed to gain a good amount of momentum and will be making its premier stateside next month at the New York Film Festival. It seems that here it will find a home and we may get a better understanding of what the point of the film is and what it is trying to say as it is essentially a small film set in small town America and tells a story of an old man in a new generation who seems to want to contend rather than sit by and let his final years pass him by. That may even sound a little too mainstream a synopsis to capture what the film is going for, but from the mood of the first trailer it is evident that Payne is going for that same type of tone and wit that made Sideways such an underground hit. What might be the most exciting aspect of this for me is that Payne has given Will Forte the chance to spread his wings in something more than just a bit role in a major comedy or the string of MacGruber-type flicks that may or may not end up being his lot in life. Naturally, Bruce Dern as the lead is getting more of the attention and the trailer displays why as he's a guy who receives one of those "winning" sweepstakes letters in the mail and, convinced he has actually won a million dollars, makes it his mission to walk from Montana to Nebraska to claim his prize. Nebraska also stars Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach, June Squibb and opens November 15th.

AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS Review

There is a simple elegance to writer/director David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints. After letting it ruminate overnight I was hoping that it might come to lend a more powerful or lasting effect on me, but instead what I've come to realize more than anything is that it is little more than an exercise in poetry. Alluding to more than just what is on the surface by allowing those images or certain words to take us back to something more personal or more profound than what we see for on screen. There are times that this works for the film and other times we are left simply wondering what the point of it is that made such a story worth telling. I went into the film knowing little about plot or character and having only seen one trailer a few months ago I'd long forgotten what exactly I was in store for. Needless to say, the film fits very well into that southern gothic genre that has retained good word of mouth lately mainly due to the career renaissance Matthew McConaughey is having that brought us the likes of Killer Joe, Bernie, and Mud. These settings and off-kilter tone mixed with the aesthetics of Winter's Bone and recent Terrence Malick pictures give us what is essentially a movie drenched in style and extremely aware of the time and place it exists in. I make these comparisons not to say that Lowery is ripping these people off, but that he is drawing on some inspirational works and has crafted a well executed film himself that while being just as beautiful if not moreso than some of the aforementioned films it simply doesn't pack as much of an emotional punch. I enjoyed the film, I was interested in it throughout, but I never felt as if I really cared about these people. You could bring up that this might be the fault of the actors which isn't fair as that could have just as much been due to the direction they were given, but everyone is in fine form here. It is one of those cases, and they are the worst kind, where everything seemingly comes together just as it is supposed to and on paper looks completely right yet there's no real soul. It will be hard to argue with some Ain't Them Bodies Saints has no soul, but it doesn't strike that nerve it should have until too late in the film and by that point I didn't care as much as I should and the poignancy had been lost.

DISCONNECT Home Video Review

Crash dealing with technology. This simple four word description is what I believed Disconnect to be before sitting down and giving it a shot. I liked Crash when it arrived back in 2005. Do I agree with it winning best picture? No, not necessarily, but it was a solid movie nonetheless and it elicited some genuine emotion from me and clearly other audience members throughout the film going community. This piece isn't about Crash though, but what I thought about that film likely informs how I feel about Disconnect because though it is not the carbon copy my expectations believed it to be it certainly has many of the same intentions and goes about accomplishing them in somewhat similar ways. In all honesty, I was engaged in this film from very early on. There are some films in which you embark on and immediately know you aren't ever going to really get into the material this visual interpretation is exploring and yet there is the other end of the spectrum where you become so wrapped up in the events of what is happening to the characters on screen that you hate to see the signals that the film will soon be coming to an end. That latter reaction is what happened with Disconnect. It was a very interesting play because it opens with the storyline that ends up becoming the least resolved, but is the most immediately shocking and gets your attention only to segway into the main title sequence that introduces us to our second set of characters against the backdrop of Awolnation's "Sail". Whether it was due to the use of this familiar yet still powerfully resonant song or simply to the supreme confidence director Henry Alex Rubin (Murderball) and writer Andrew Stern seem to have had in their material there was something immediately gripping and slightly epic about the way the film presented itself and to say the least, I was intrigued. Disconnect is a sprawling film that never loses its footing and digs deep into the human psyche and past the technology that its title suggests is the main cause of the rifts in the relationships documented here. That not only are these tools that are intended to keep us all connected separating actual human contact further, but allowing us to take advantage of one another in the least humane of ways.

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 Review

Would it be farcical to say I found the second chapter of James Wan's Insidious films to be more frightening than his runaway summer hit, The Conjuring? Most people seem to have found that film to be the breakout horror flick they've been waiting for to rejuvenate the genre, but while it was a nice exercise in the standard set-ups of haunted house flicks Wan and his creative team have found a way to make a film that both legitimately continues the story from the first film while providing authentic scares that are hard to come by these days with Insidious: Chapter 2. It is important to know that I very much enjoyed the first film, but was somewhat disappointed in what direction it decided to go. I thought the first half was well staged and set up an interesting dynamic between Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne's husband and wife that had them going down a path they never saw their lives taking after their oldest son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), slips into a coma for no apparent reason. That these fears and unexpected turns were amplified by the fact there was clearly something creepy going on with their made for an eloquent yet horrific family haunting. The scares were blunt and startling, but they never took over the sense of care we developed for the family at least until the last half hour of the film when it went into overdrive and just piled on the people in mountains of make-up and gothic costumes to the point it was more humorous than scary. I didn't buy into the strangeness of "the further" as it seemed too great a tonal shift from the quieter, grey-hued family study I thought we were getting that would elicit fear from the presented scenario. With all of that in mind I went into this second chapter with none too high expectations, but a good amount of interest as at least the first film gave us a cliffhanger of an ending that we could hold out hope for something to justify the weirdness that the latter half of the first film introduced. For me, Chapter 2 did more than justify the need for explanation as it delivers both plenty of new elements while cleverly revealing reasoning for some of the questions left over from the first one. Not to mention being one of, if not the scariest theater experiences I've had in a long time.

THE FAMILY Review

There is something oddly sweet to a black comedy like The Family. Even though labeling it as a "comedy" doesn't feel right though as this is clearly just trying to be what it is and nothing more. In many ways this is a movie that is very much in love with itself and the genre it so desires to be a part of. It is a love letter from writer/director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) who seems to have always wanted to make an American gangster film, but could never find the twist he would like to put on his own story until now. As this is executive produced by Martin Scorsese and stars a myriad of familiar faces in the mob genre you can see how Besson might have accomplished his goal. On the other hand it is with extreme caution we approach an off hand Robert DeNiro comedy these days as he's appeared in countless studio projects over the past few years that have looked to be little more than nice paydays. This ultimately seemed to be the most offensive though, not only because he was tarnishing his legacy by starring in another forgettable movie that would no doubt be seen by few people, but because he was now tarnishing the legacy with a rip off of the kind of movies that gave him said legacy. Fortunately, this is not the case for as much as The Family is in love with itself it is also a sincere tribute to mob movies and the way they function. It places DeNiro at the head of the table because it wants you to be reminded of James Conway and Sam "Ace" Rothstein and has Michelle Pfeiffer at his side because of 1988's Married to the Mob and even Scarface. These are not perfect examples of type casting in the casual sense, but they are intentional casting because they are both recognizable to general movie audiences and function as a nice nod to past work as well as a nice inside joke for cinephiles. I wouldn't say all of this without the confirmation of a single scene that takes place in the latter half of the film that is brilliantly executed and downright hilarious to watch unfold. I won't give any more away than that, but will say it's worth the price of admission alone though I doubt you'd be disappointed in the rest of the movie either because it's actually pretty damn fun.

First Trailer for GRUDGE MATCH


Grudge Match is going to be big. I can feel it. Hopefully you won't be calling me out on that prediction in a few months, but after seeing the trailer, the release date and who all is anchoring this safe yet warm-hearted comedy I can only see there being one outcome for the flick and that is for it to blow up at the box office and become a huge financial success while being critically dismissed but not trashed. Anyone remember Wild Hogs from a few years ago? It was a half-assed effort that threw some big names together and played on their chemistry while raking in a ton of moolah in return. This looks to do the same kind of thing as the film is clearly more interested in playing off the legacy of its two stars rather than creating something new and original. Honestly, there isn't anything really wrong with that. In fact, DeNiro might get his second hit of the fall season doing exactly that as a month earlier he'll partake in a Hangover-style comedy that partners him with other veteran and well-respected actors behaving badly with Last Vegas. Directed by the king of light, family-friendly comedies Peter Segal (The Longest Yard, Get Smart) the film follows the much hyped rivalry between Rocky Balboa and Jake La Motta (not really, but c'mon...who are they kidding?) as they come back into the lime light after a video of them fighting in motion capture suits while filming footage for a boxing video game goes viral. The re-match is naturally scheduled as it never came to fruition in their prime and the film will no doubt follow the ins-and-outs of them preparing for this one last fight. The bright side is each of them have a funny guy in their corner in the form of Alan Arkin and Kevin Hart who, if nothing, else, will make this a pretty funny affair. Grudge Match also stars Jon Bernthal, Kim Basinger, Camden Grey and opens on Christmas Day. Hit the jump to check out the first trailer now.

First Trailer for HOMEFRONT

While he is not necessarily pushing the envelope at least Jason Statham continues to recognize what he does best and at the very least is always reliable. I stated in my review of Parker earlier this year that though the chrome-domed action stars choices may seem random and throw away the guy knows what he is doing and who he is working with. That seems more evident than ever with his latest as he was likely roped into it due to the fact his pal Sylvester Stallone adapted the screenplay from a Chuck Logan novel. Even as Statham and Stallone are now shooting the third entry in their Expendable series and Statham will be joining another of the biggest action franchises on the planet next year, they made time to make this piece of Americana flick that will debut around an American holiday that will have families together and people in the mood to sit back and enjoy a nice piece of action fluff that includes several recognizable faces. These guys know their game and they play it well while giving us a story of a dad and his daughter who move to a quiet town that seems to have a dirty secret. The twist on Statham's character this time around is that he is a DEA agent and this supposed quiet little town has a drug problem headed up by a guy known as Gator (James Franco). When Statham's daughter picks a fight with a kid who has a drugged out mommy in the form of Kate Bosworth she apparently sets off a firestorm that pits Gator against her father who is only more enraged to find out Phil Broker (Statham) is undercover. Sounds rather run of the mill and I can appreciate that, but I have no doubt this will be a passable time at the theater with director Gary Fleder (Runaway Jury, Kiss the Girls) at the helm and plenty of support behind and in front of the camera that seem to really believe in the project. Homefront also stars Winona Ryder, Rachelle Lafevre, Clancy Brown, Omar Benson Miller, Frank Grillo and opens on November 27th. Hit the jump to check out the first trailer now.

ADORE Review

Adore is one of those films that looks a little icky when you see the trailer. I don't use the word "icky" very often and it is probably against my better judgment to do so here, but given that the definition is simply adding two letters to the word its defining to make it sticky with the added value of being unpleasant it seems extremely appropriate as that is the exact type of situation our two protagonists get themselves into in this twisted, disturbing, and surprisingly affecting film. Is it controversial? Sure. Does it push boundaries? I guess so, slightly. Does it make for an entertaining film? Not exactly. What the film, previously titled Two Mothers, does make for is a pretty intense soap opera with top caliber acting and beautiful cinematography. There are plenty of dynamics you could draw on here, but nothing so obvious as the Oedipal complexities of a mother and son relationship. In fact, there is no need for that type of development because in what is essentially the opening scene of the film one of our two mothers boys is attending his fathers funeral. Though this does leave what we assume is a lasting effect it isn't the one the world would so easily assume. Instead, Ian (Xavier Samuel) develops and very intense, very genuine, if not at first sight naive love for his mothers best friend Roz (Robin Wright). Another thing you think upon first seeing the trailers is that you know exactly where this film will be heading even if you're not quite sure where it could possibly end up. What I found surprising and what may have lent to me becoming more intrigued with the film is the fact it doesn't follow the dramatic beats I expected it to. In fact, it goes to some rather unexpected places and explores avenues and dilemmas I had yet to come up with in my own head about what might cause trouble in the scenario these four work up. It is a slightly distressing film in that you wonder how two successful, mature women would ever allow themselves to succumb to such temptation and clearly wrong action, but both Wright and Naomi Watts sell it even if, in the end, we still feel they know better.

First Trailer for ROBOCOP Remake

I'll be honest, I've never seen Paul Verhoeven's original Robocop but likely only because I am the oldest child and I was born the year it arrived in theaters. There has never been any incentive for me to check it out, until now. Much like with his other futuristic sci-fi flick Total Recall, Robocop has received the remake treatment and so I will rent the original a few days before seeing the remake just so I know what to expect and what the internet will most likely be complaining about. Is it bad that we now have to refer to the internet as if it is a living, breathing thing? Are these the first signs we are entering the world Verhoeven's films always predicted?!? Anyway, my point is, I didn't know what to expect from this trailer or what the final product might offer as I have no precedent for what they should be. What I do see is a rather slickly made, if not generic looking, sci-fi flick that takes the fun/cool premise of putting a police officer in a machine and letting him run wild on the bad guys. The film seems to have plenty of sturdy support in the supporting cast members and a more than acceptable unknown lead for them to rally around. I haven't seen the TV series The Killing for which star Joel Kinnaman is most likely most known, but he seems to have a fair amount of charisma in the early scenes here which means it might be too bad when he turns all Mr. Roboto on us. And once again this first trailer seemingly goes through every beat of the film giving plenty away while there will surely be at least two more trailers that give even more away before February of 2014 even arrives. I hope I'm wrong and that the studio is holding a few plot lines and money shots back, but can't help but feel like they're selling this one as hard as they can. The film also stars Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish, Jay Baruchel, and Jackie Earle Haley. RoboCop opens February 7, 2014.

GETAWAY Review

Courtney Solomon is no Justin Lin. Solomon could hardly even be considered a player at all in the action genre as he's only made three films and the first was 2000's Dungeons & Dragons adaptation that I never saw because I was both too young to care about it at the time and would have likely been massively confused if I had. I never played the game and the current 10% tomatometer score doesn't bode well for it either, but what really put the anticipation in the can for Getaway was knowing that Solomon also directed 2005's An American Haunting. I remember taking a date to that film and apologizing for how bad it turned out to be because it was my idea to go see it. With this third feature the director has made one of those films where all of the action revolves around a certain set of people locked into one location. This certainly might make things easier from a production standpoint as you don't have to deal with a ton of location scouting or all of the dynamics that go into orchestrating a production with a large cast involved, but when your location of confinement is on wheels there seems a much more complex scheme to choreograph and Getaway never seems to take advantage of its circumstances other than to feed us corny dialogue and messily shot action sequences that seem more thrown together than thought out. To be honest, there wasn't much expectation going into the film, but when you have such a simple premise and what seems to be outlandish execution paired with the fact that actors with the caliber of Ethan Hawke and the rising star of Selena Gomez presumably seeing something in the project you hope it might prove to be a fun, if not distracting experience. And yet, there isn't even an intentionally campy vibe to the project as it, for all intents and purposes, is as serious as a heart attack and with that tone does little to add fun to the predictable and lacking story that can't even sustain the brief hour and a half running time.

STORIES WE TELL Home Video Review








It's hard to write a piece about a film that in itself is a piece of writing. While Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell has been billed as a documentary it is very simply put: more than that. It is an account of a persons life story told from the perspectives of those that surrounded her. It is an investigation not only into the story that is being told, but into how several different perspectives might form what is closest to whatever the truth of the actual situation might be. The word truth is in itself a very vague term that is defined as the quality or state of being true. Is the truth really one, singular way of looking at things or is it different things to different people who see different aspects or varying perspectives of the same events? How much is one person missing of the bigger picture that might inform his or her limited opinion or their "truth" of the matter? There is a whole muddled road one could wander down in search of that unattainable idea that purports itself as what we call "truth" and in many ways that is what Polley has done here. She has taken a figure so vital to her existence yet someone she never really knew and has tried to get to know her through the stories people tell about that figure when she is brought up in conversation. There is a profound severity to everything going on here while each of the storytellers bring that undeniably comedic aspect of the human element into everything they are discussing. It is a film that dissects life and all of the countless stories that happen within it everyday while helping those of us interested in the arc of a lifetime better comprehend that all of these stories were never really set up as stories or planned out beforehand, but are instead the unknown futures of people who have lived out most of their time on earth and have created the events we now look at as inevitable yet caused them genuine reactions in the moment that they actually occurred. There is an element of existentialism to the whole thing, but it is more analyzing how that free will impacts the generations that follow rather than the development of those who exercised it.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: September 3, 2013

First Trailer for NEIGHBORS


Though 2012's The Five-Year Engagement wasn't exactly what everyone expected following director Nicholas Stoller's one-two punch of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek, apparently no one expected anything because hardly anyone showed up for that film and despite its many flaws there was some heart in there and Jason Segel is always a welcome persona in my books. Stoller has seemingly moved on and decided to approach his comedy from a fresh perspective that doesn't completely focus on the comedy of examining the relationships between men and women, but does so while adding a broad concept to it. This will no doubt be more akin to Greek in most ways, but simply from the teaser trailer it is easy to see a new layer of perspective to the his style. Stoller has broken apart from his partner actors such as Segel and Jonah Hill and has instead enlisted their friend Seth Rogen to head up what is now being called Neighbors. Originally titled Townies the film tells the story of a thirty-something couple (Rogen and Rose Byrne) who have just had a child and move unknowingly next door to a fraternity. Zac Efron and Dave Franco lead the pack of fraternity brothers who soon begin a war of pranks and outlandish activities with their neighbors who seem to want nothing more than peace and quiet. The trailer offers plenty of hilarious sight gags and the broad concept is certainly intriguing as is the casting of Efron in the more villainous role. I've enjoyed all of Stoller's films to some degree though and so I doubt this one will be any different, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I have pretty high hopes. The film also stars Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jake Johnson, Ike Barinholtz, Jason Mantozoukas, and Lisa Kudrow. Neighbors opens in theaters on May 9, 2014.  

THE SPECTACULAR NOW Review

If there will be one positive thing remembered about the summer movie season of 2013 it will certainly be the number of coming-of-age tales that were released and received with generally positive criticisms. Beginning with the late April release of Mud and continuing into the heart of the season with both The Way, Way Back and The Kings of Summer (which I missed in theaters, but have heard nothing but great things about and can't wait to catch when it hits home video) and continuing into the final stretch we now have The Spectacular Now. Each of these films have a certain approach to the nostalgia of crossing the threshold from childhood to real maturity, but none of them likely hit you in the heart the way The Spectacular Now does. Naturally, this is a safe assumption as it is the only one of the films I've seen that deals with the budding relationship between two high schoolers and seniors nonetheless. Still, while Mud and The Way, Way Back took a hard look at their central figures finding themselves and realizing who they wanted to be while allowing them to take a step back and evaluate what they need to do to get to where they'd like to be, The Spectacular Now does this by having its young couple help each other accomplish these goals and overcome the obstacles in their way. Director James Ponsoldt who also made last years overlooked, but well-received Smashed again directs his film with such an honest touch and feeling of authenticity that paints a clear picture of who these characters are and why they have become the people they are when we meet them. This touch of truthfulness runs through every word and action that occurs in the film and while the freewheeling, almost improvised tone Ponsoldt implies certainly contributes to how well we are able to accept everything and admire the film for not attempting to glam up what are essentially extremely personal situations it is the lead performances from Miles Teller (Footloose) and Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) that solidify the heart of the film and how well it connects with its audience. It isn't the heart-wrenching, consistently moving film I expected it to be a la The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but it is a well made coming-of-age story that contains performances convincing us we've seen the beginnings of true love.