Director Joseph Kosinski, who helmed the vapid and cartoonish TRON: Legacy, uses every frame of Oblivion as a canvas on which he can project the massive adventure he wants audiences to experience. Kosinski, who made a sizable impression on the industry with his commercial work, has a background as an architect and his eye for details and contrasting imagery is front and center in this film.
At least in the first film, the various creatures and characters were new and well done. There was a shrewd, unsubtle (some might even say shrill) commentary on dogmatic thinking, rape, and female villains. The second film features nothing new, lacks even the most rudimentary analysis of its own mythology, and is laid out like an increasingly stupid haunted house.
Spanning over 500 years and following more than a dozen characters, the film is composed of six separate stories that do not intertwine (see Magnolia, Love Actually) but instead link from one to the next with the sense that each character is re-living his or her life again and again. While the word “reincarnation” is never used, the sense that this is what Mitchell intended is undeniable. Like the resistance fighters in The Matrix or the protagonist in Run Lola Run, the characters of Cloud Atlas are given the chance to correct mistakes from “past lives.”
End Of Watch is a perfectly serviceable drama. It is also a bait and switch job. Writer/director David Ayer, whose chief preoccupations are Los Angeles street life and the pitfalls of police work, set out to create a different kind of cop movie and succeeded. This mean that the ads linking this film to Ayer’s breakout script Training Day are inappropriate.
The Raven is a piece of historical fiction about what happened during Edgar Allan Poe’s (John Cusack) mysterious last days. The film theorizes that he spent his final week, give or take, working as a consultant to the Baltimore Police Department who were trying to capture an unstoppable madman whose kills were inspired by Poe’s works.
A visually outstanding film (worth the price of 3D), Hugo is a love letter to imagination and invention, the thrill of books and movies, of discovering things for yourself and the freedom to do so. Cogs of various sizes occupy many scenes, and seeing Hugo hammer a shell into shape or figuring out how one piece of the automaton fits into another shows off the pleasure of actual creation.
The Rum Diary stars Johnny Depp as Paul Kemp, a struggling novelist at the end of his rope, who sees journalism in Puerto Rico as a chance to lie low, regroup, and hopefully make a few dollars. The island seems like a broken-down but perfectly serviceable paradise, where he can indulge his penchant for excessive drinking and not be judged too harshly by his fellow man.
Detractors of Rob Zombie’s Halloween know that the cardinal rule of a classic monster is this: don’t reveal too much. In the same way Michael Myers was a far spookier fiend when he hid behind the impassive mask, tilting his head in fascination at his kills, the alien in The Thing was wholly horrifying when it was an unknown life form. When Zombie strove to tell us the story of how Michael Myers became a monster, we quit listening. Unfortunately, van Heijningen falls into the same trap with his prequel.
A palpable glee wafted through the theater as cameras flashed and 3D glasses shaped like Potter’s rested upon hundreds of noses. Gasps, sobs, and cheers reverberated while sniffles and furtive nose-wiping punctuated the quietest scenes. This is true fandom, and it’s wonderful. Some would see this as insanity, some would laugh derisively – and to that I’d ask, “Well, what are you passionate about?”
Super 8 is quality filmmaking. This is what a PG-13 summer blockbuster looks like. For those of us who grew up on 80s action flicks it’s a delightful return to form.
Scream 4’s tagline “New decade, new rules” may be specious. The rules of surviving a slasher film are the same as they’ve always been – don’t drink or do drugs, don’t have sex, and never say “I’ll be right back,” or you’ll end up the next victim with your guts on the floor. Fortunately though, horror master Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson’s reunion brings back the same wit, glee, and panache of, if not the original movie, at least the second one. (Let’s forget Scream 3 ever happened, shall we?)
Hanna is a force to be reckoned with, and she doesn’t really have an equal, even with all of the high-level assassins brought in to hunt her down. Saoirse Ronan is great in the role — wholly believable and empathetic.
Michael Connelly is a very popular author, but it is easy to dismiss a film adapted from an airport bestseller, sight unseen. In this case, it would be most unfair. The Lincoln Lawyer spins a tangled and entertaining yarn about a maverick lawyer who knows how to get tough when he needs to.
Screenwriter David Johnson, whose one prior writing credit was the hilariously mind-boggling Orphan (2009), penned a script that’s as stilted as it is ridiculous. Characters are so superficial as to be entirely unbelievable, and modern dialogue just doesn’t fit the setting. Lines like “I must be God, because you’re the Devil!” are just plain trite—and sometimes baffling.