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Thursday, June 27, 2013

World War Z

zombie brad pitt
After I got a tweak of paranoia while exiting the theater into a crowded mall and jumped at the sound of screaming patio diners, I knew that I just seen an effective thriller.

Fans of the inventive Max Brooks political book and hordes of Walking Dead and zombie-film lovers may be disappointed, but for the rest of us WWZ is the best thriller so far this summer.

Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park was translated to its 1993 film with just a hint of the book’s commentary on modern ideological catastrophe, but it sure made for some good slink-down-in-your-theater-seat moments. The same thing happens here. And in both cases, it's probably best that it did.

The action packed film chose a simple, pared-down setting for the cringing final act. As Brad Pitt’s character walks through this location, you can see everything that is right with this movie — and everything that was wrong with Man of Steel.

Simply put: The artistic book is reduced to a thrill ride, but this zombie flick saves the summer from all the superhero disasters

Award potential: Potential for makeup, sound and Marco Beltrami’s score. The CGI has some flaws in a competitive FX year.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Man Of Steel

Man of Steel Cavill vpl bulge hero
Superman is back in Man of Steel, but does this new version fly?

Well, for the first hour, it almost does. Director Zack Snyder’s (300) and producer Chris Nolan’s makeover starts out strong with a re-telling of this overfamiliar story (yes, ugh, another hero origin story) that was surprisingly inventive. The Krypton story, the Lois Lane relationship and Clark’s journey to his thrilling first flight all felt fresh and appropriate for modern movie times.

The underlying themes had potential too. There are themes of sacrifice, acceptance and loyalty — and an unmistakably religious undertone. But by the time Russell Crowe makes his second appearance, overly designed alien ships land and the fights take over, the story and deeper themes are hammered by too many…mindless hammerings. It just devolves into a super chaotic mess.

Kudos to Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane for attempting something that never worked out. And although girls love him, brooding Henry Cavill is a stiff one. One can assume that’s also the ticket seller.

Simply put: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, wait, take that back — it’s just plain unnecessary.

Award potential: Probably won’t fly compared to other FX films.  

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Frances Ha

Greta Gerwig nomination modern love
“You guys are like magic.”

Frances Ha is a lighthearted black and white film that explores fractured friendships, social class, modern love and youthful confusion — all through the eyes of an adorable misfit and dancer named Frances (Greta Gerwig).

It’s an authentic story of failure and redemption that won me over mostly due to the charming performance by Gerwig. There are two scenes that I remember from the movies in 2013 so far…and both of them involve Gerwig running in the street.

Simply put: If Woody Allen did a French New Wave Bridesmaids, it would be Frances Ha.

Award potential: Charmingly awkward Greta Gerwig is a breakout new star, but not in an Oscar way. Long shot for Golden Globe in comedy.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Monday, June 17, 2013

This Is The End

james franco gay
After last year’s dreadful The Watch, a few Judd Apatow misfires and plenty of one-joke gross-out comedies this year, I didn’t expect much from an end-of-the-world Apatow flick. It sounds more like an SNL skit. But this movie plays the apocalypse (fairly) seriously which sets up more laughs than I expected.

And more brilliantly, Apatow uses that storyline to keep this talented comic troupe (each playing a version of themselves) boarded up in a house — giving them the opportunity to play off of each other for most of the two hours.

And since those held hostage together are Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride, it’s a 2013 comedy that is worth seeing on the big screen.

Simply put: See this apocalyptic comedy now

Award potential: None.

The ten buck review: Worth the theater. Worth ten bucks.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Now You See Me

James and Dave Franco
Now You See Me is a light thriller about a team of four magicians: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco (James’ Brother) who are pursued by by an FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo) because they are up to something. We also have the two most overworked actors alive, Morgan Freeman and Michael Cane, in supporting roles.

This summertime flick isn’t really that moving, emotionally, but everything else really moves — from the dizzying camerawork to the zippy dialogue to the non-stop surprises. Audiences will clearly be dazzled and intrigued by the reason these magicians have come together until the end. I was. But when the secrets are revealed, quite messily, it all seemed so pointless. No wonder magicians never reveal their secrets.

Simply put: Intriguing movie that keeps you guessing — until logic completely vanishes

Award potential: None. Not that they were trying.

The ten buck review: Near Movie Magic, but not worth ten bucks.