The trailers, clips and marketing materials have all been great, but This is the End could easily have been revealed to be one of this summer's biggest disappointments. It is instead one of this year's best surprises. If you are skeptical, you're in for a treat. If you're excited, prepare to be satisfied.
From The Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier and exec producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, Transformers) comes Now You See Me, a caper about dogged, but outsmarted FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) who's pitted in a game of cat and mouse with a crew of illusionist-thieves.
It's ten years in the future and crime and poverty are at an all time low. The reason? One night per year, the citizens of the United States are released from the bounds of morality and civility and allowed to unleash the violence of their individual and collective Ids. In the face of an overwhelming economic crisis and the resulting spikes in criminal activity, the "New Founding Fathers" of America came up with a plan to quell our darkest passions and, according to this film, magically end a catastrophic recession.
The gist of the new science fiction adventure film After Earth is as primal as the stuff of legends. It's a rites of passage story about a boy who must become a man while braving the savage wilderness.
Summer 2013 hasn't even technically begun yet and we've already seen numerous action-packed blockbusters hit the scene in recent weeks: Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, et al. Such as it is, it can be easy to pass on some of the smaller films, but if you're looking for something to break up the explosions and gunfire, The Kings of Summer may be just the ticket.
After Drive comes the slow motion, mangled wreck that is Only God Forgives.
In the J.G. Ballard novel (and David Cronenberg movie adaptation) Crash, a group of nihilistic thrill seekers stage automobile accidents for twisted kicks and you can’t help wonder if director Nicholas Winding Refn is operating in a similar way here. Drive’s critical and commercial acclaim put him on Hollywood’s Formula 1 starting grid; here, he’s very deliberately tried to sabotage his race to spin out in a glorious fireball. And while some see great beauty in a spectacular crash n’ burn – and admire the foolish wilfulness that caused it – the end result is still a write-off.
Director James Mangold isn't really interested in making a comic book movie. Not in the traditional sense. He’s not really interested in explosions or bombastic action sequences or 3D. He’s not interested in quip-spouting super heroes or nudging his audience in the ribs with a sly wink.
What he is interested in, is character. Mangold, whose previous works include Girl, Interrupted, Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma, is an actor’s director. He’s the man responsible for Angelina Jolie’s Lisa Rowe, Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash and Christian Bale’s Dan Evans. Mangold is unequivocally sincere in his approach and his actors have the Oscars to prove it.
It might seem odd, then, for a director who cut his teeth on character-driven drama to be turning his attention to a comic book franchise, particularly one so established in the pop culture consciousness as The Wolverine. But Mangold is approaching the Marvel poster boy as he would with any of his sociopaths and his addicts; with a confidence that here is a multi-faceted, flawed human, waiting to be probed and exposed.
He just happens to be a mutant.
(Story details on The Wolverine ahead)
This Memorial Day weekend's big animated kid flick Epic, based on the book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce, isn't as thrilling or imaginative as the title would have you believe, but it's decent. It's good enough, let's say. Children won't care that the actual story and fantasy elements are undercooked and parents won't completely suffer for a hundred minutes.
Last night, word leaked to me that a special screening of Brad Pitt's zombie movie World War Z was taking place in Hoboken, New Jersey. This was to be the first public showing of the movie anywhere, so I decided to trek all the way to the Garden State to check out Mr. Pitt and director Marc Forster's take on the undead.
And you know what? It was totally worth the trip.
The grand finale to the not always grand The Hangover trilogy is a sometimes sweet, occasionally dark affair that seems to aspire to more than being just another comedy sequel. Smartly avoiding the blackout gimmick of the previous two films, Part III frequently mashes up genres and tone while also providing enough of the R-rated humor that made the series such a success when it launched four years ago
Reviews of the Latest movies and Blu-Rays