Friday, February 12, 2016

DEADPOOL (B+)


Simultaneously poking sticks and fist bumping its superhero movie brethren, Deadpool is a jabber-jawed joy ride through the mutant-laden mean streets of the X-Men Universe.  A movie that – finally – utilizes Ryan Reynolds’ comedic and athletic prowess to overwhelming success…  Chock-full of ferocious action, energetic storytelling and whip-mart dialogue, Deadpool is a downright devious and deviant delight!  It’s a sublimely unique, crudely engaging and decidedly R-rated (for all the right adult reasons) approach that turns the genre on its head, gives it an excitable wedgy and then kicks it squarely in the family jewels.  Now, it may occasionally fall victim to the inherent trappings of origin story fatigue, but – rest assured – it always has an exuberant way of shifting gears and getting the viewer back to the super do-gooder goods…  Easily the most exhilarating time I’ve spent in a theater this year, Deadpool is a pulse-pounding, knee-slapping raunch- and bullet-riddled riot!

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina carano, Ed Skrein and TJ Miller
Directed by: Tim Miller
Rated: R
Running time: 1hr. 40min.
Story: Based upon Marvel Comics' most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life. (C) Fox
Watch the Trailer:  www.foxmovies.com/movies/deadpool

ZOOLANDER NO. 2 (D+)


The cinematic equivalent of a sequin-tuxedoed, Red Bull-chugging Chimpanzee flicking lit cigarettes at a fireworks stand, this Zoolander sequel is the 15-years-in-the-making sequel that nobody asked for…and few will be happy we received.  It may boast a few cameos, a smattering of funny moments and chuckle-worthy performances from everyone aside from the two main characters, but the rest is a dizzying array of fast edits, loud noises, bright colors and conceptually unimaginative, flat-as-a-board comedy hijinks (or is that lojinks?)  Slouching in the shadow of its creatively zippy and fashionably fun predecessor, Zoolander No. 2 is a light-minded, feebly written, hyperactive mess.  It’s a movie that actually lessens in quality with each passing moment until it’s forgotten altogether.  With a playful ‘No. 2’ in the title that’s more fitting than you might initially imagine, this comedy cop-out attempts to strike a pose but ultimately ends up striking out.

Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Kirsten Wiig, Kyle Mooney and Will Ferrell
Directed by: Ben Stiller (Reality Bites, The Cable Guy, Zoolander, Tropic Thunder and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)
Rated: PG-13
Running time: 1hr. 40min.
Story: A comedy that finds the beloved model, Derek Zoolander, and his rival-turned-partner, Hansel, facing a threat to their continued success.
Watch the Trailer: www.zoolanderdotcom.com

Friday, February 5, 2016

HAIL, CAESAR! (C+)


Buoyant with a bevy of boisterous performances – The Coen Brothers’ latest may boast some brilliantly staged shenanigans, but the rest is a rudderless, mixed-bag ship of unfocused energy and sporadically simplistic spirit.  In fact, the stop-go-stop-go, funny-to-flat ratio of the proceedings is the cinematic equivalent of your grandmother driving a car with one foot on the gas, while the other spastically taps the brake.  Brolin is terrific as an early 50’s studio executive who’s saddled with the task of making his contracted stars, despite their colorful private lives, shine bright in the public eye.  While he dutifully keeps these erratic plates spinning, his nincompoop troop of A-to-B-list marquee mavens (Clooney, Johansson, Fiennes, Tatum and Ehrenreich) all have singular moments to shine...  Only problem being that a handful of shining singular moments do not necessarily a great movie make.  There’s a lightweight, post-war cinema love affair at play that suits the characters and dialogue well – it’s a Golden Age ripe for ribbing, but the dull-edged snark on display is largely unbalanced and rarely ever embraces a singular tone.  Although the film will undoubtedly (and predictably) work for some, it still remains a slighter effort from this dynamic duo directing crew.  It’s an awkwardly erratic and wafer-thin effort with inspired flashes of greatness.  A film that – compared to the rest of the Coen catalog – might have been more aptly titled: Fail, Caesar.

Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Frances McDormand and Jonah Hill
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Miller’s Crossing, No Country for Old Men and True Grit)
Rated: PG-13
Running time: 1hr. 45min.
Story: Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a Golden Age studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix...
Watch the Trailer: www.hailcaesarmovie.com

Friday, January 29, 2016

THE FINEST HOURS (B)

More aptly titled: The Not Great But Still Pretty Darn Entertaining Hours, this harrowing, early 50’s Coast Guard rescue retelling is equal parts high seas heroics and old school charm.  A candy-coated, crowd-pleasing, fairly immersive maritime movie with strong doses of Greatest Generation swagger, captivating special effects and two terrifically against type turns from Affleck and Pine.  …and despite its fabricated melodrama, its gloss-over-grit mentality and an all-to-easy-to-forget-title, it still possesses a compellingly simplistic approach to the material that proves both gripping and good natured – a movie, I imagine, that would work for the entire family.  This good ol’ fashioned, page-out-of-history, courage-based disaster flick may not represent the finest hours you’ll experience in a theater – but spend the time and you’ll quickly learn it was all worth your while.
 

Starring: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Holliday Grainger, Ben Foster and Eric Bana
Directed by: Craig Gillespie (Million Dollar Arm and Lars and the Real Girl)
Rated: PG-13
Running time: 1hr. 57min.
Story: Despite overwhelming odds, four US Coast Guardsmen, set out in a wooden lifeboat with an ill-equipped engine and little, if any, means of navigation, facing frigid temperatures, 60-foot high waves and hurricane-force winds to attempt a daring rescue of a T-2 oil tanker crew. (Disney)

Watch the trailer: www.movies.disney.com/the-finest-hours 

Friday, January 15, 2016

13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI (B-)


Built on the broad-shouldered backs of men who chose to do the right thing, 13 Hours is an admirable – yet never truly groundbreaking – attempt to patriotically and apolitically unfold the events that surrounded a Libyan militia attack on a Benghazi-based, U.S. compound in 2012.  As with most things Michael Bay, chaos is the order of the day and here, as director, he shows encouraging signs of being able to pump the brakes when called for (more often than not).  Unfortunately, he still has a penchant for obnoxiously ratcheting up the mayhem to an ear-shrilling fever pitch.  We may bear witness to sparse spurts of cheesy dialogue and the occasional tick of near-jingoistic self-indulgence, but it still it remains one of Bay’s most balanced and engagingly bombastic films in years.  There’s a resounding, immediately relatable emotional core at the center of this miscommunication meat grinder – a tangible camaraderie that cinematically thrives on love of family, love of duty and love of brothers-in-arms.  And to each actor’s credit, there’s a palpable truth to the playful and tactical chatter – a point where we buy in to the plight of these heroes and those they’re tasked (and not asked) to protect.  Although it ultimately lacks the true human depth of a Saving Private Ryan, the unnerving efficiency of a Black Hawk Down or the shell-shocked intimacy of The Hurt Locker – 13 Hours remains a well-paced, action-packed, grittily gung-ho flick that intriguingly informs and dutifully entertains.
 
Starring: John Krasinski, James Badge Daly, Pablo Schreiber, Max Martini, Toby Stephens, David Denman, David Costabile and Elektra Anastasi
Directed by: Michael Bay (Bad Boys, The Rock and Transformers)
Rated: R
Running time: 2hrs. 24mins.
Story: 13 Hours follows the attack of a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.  Based on the book, 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi.
Watch the trailer: www.thirteenhoursmovie.com