The latest flop from the Wachowski twins, Jupiter Ascending is an… MoreThe latest flop from the Wachowski twins, Jupiter Ascending is an attempt to merge fairy tale elements with overblown space opera - neither working together quite well. The short version - Jupiter Ascending kind of blows. The plot is completely nonsensical and dull, the CGI overwhelms the experience, and there really doesn't seem to be a true purpose to this movie at all. (Not even to create a franchise or make money. Just nothing.) Mila Kunis is a competent but not exceptional actress who keeps being shoehorned into shit movies and her general lack of enthusiasm for this project shows. Channing Tatum and Sean Bean seem to be the only ones having fun, kicking ass in most of their scenes. Both have played in plenty of shit action movies over the years and know how to deliver poorly written dialogue or work an overlong set piece without embarrassing themselves. Eddie Redmayne blows it as one of the lamest villains in cinema, whispering and mumbling his dialogue while staring blankly at the green screen in front of him and almost never the character he is talking to. It was enough to make me want to punch his face in and take his Oscar and hand it to its rightful owner - Michael Keaton. (Yes I went there. Bite me.)
There are brief moments of fun, such as a montage of our main characters dealing with a fantastical bureaucratic system from hell that resembles the one seen in Brazil (Terry Gilliam makes a cameo here) or the 2008 indy film Franklyn. And I have to admire the existence of a female-centric big budget space opera with an original screenplay, not based on any preexisting franchise. Even if it is a hodgepodge of different ideas and almost feels like a YA book adaptation aimed at 14 year old girls. I honestly don't recommend it, and where Cloud Atlas is slowly becoming a cult classic, I have a hard time envisioning an audience for this.
A simple and uncompromised action-thriller, Run All Night is the kind… MoreA simple and uncompromised action-thriller, Run All Night is the kind of mid-budget R-rated picture audiences claim to crave but often ignore in lieu of safer, blander PG-13 action flicks. The entire plot and its progression can be determined from its trailer or 15 minutes into the movie itself, but still manages to deliver hard hitting moments without venturing into stupid territory like the Taken sequels or Non-Stop. Oh and Ed Harris reminds us that he can play a complex villain and I do wish we could see more of that from him. And I would have to agree with my friends that Road to Perdition and Heat had an influence here, along with a dash of Unforgiven post-modern Western themes. Overall, a decent film, but Liam Neeson may want to consider another career change or a return to serious dramas, as the older leading male action genre he helmed into existence is on the way out.
I have sometimes found myself an apologist for underrated Sci-Fi… MoreI have sometimes found myself an apologist for underrated Sci-Fi movies, provided that a message or talent behind the camera compensates for narrative shortcomings. Such is the case for CHAPPiE, the latest film by South African filmmaker Neil Blomkamp. CHAPPiE borrows quite liberally from Robocop and Short Circuit for its heavily derivative plot and that is its greatest weakness. Where CHAPPiE succeeds is its art direction, cinematography, and performances. Sharlto Copley proves once again that he's one of the best character actors on the planet with his voice work and motion capture as the titular robot trying to understand his existence and the expectations humans have placed on him. The leading two members of Die Antwoord also shine, in particular Yolandi Visser whose strange, otherworldly mannerisms suit her mother-figure character completely. Dev Patel largely just ends up playing a variation of his character from The Newsroom and he and Hugh Jackman are ultimately wasted.
CHAPPiE proves to be far more entertaining and less heavy handed than Elysium, but less substantial. Still there are moments of brilliance here and I would recommend it as something to view and analyze at home. It does have a small chance of becoming a cult classic in time (with Die Antwoord fans in particular). But its financial and critical shortcomings along with Elysium's tepid reception probably indicate that American audiences aren't particularly interested in Blomkamp's movies, unless it's a District 9 or Aliens sequel.
A hard-hitting and underplayed portrait of what Alzheimer's can do to… MoreA hard-hitting and underplayed portrait of what Alzheimer's can do to the best of us, Still Alice depressed the hell out of me and that's okay. What makes this even more tragic is the fact that our protagonist (Julianne Moore) is exceedingly brilliant and watching her slow drift into cognitive oblivion despite her best efforts and clever mental tricks was a bit hard to take. Moore commits to the point it puts Eddie Redmayne to shame and it's quite fascinating how in each scene (and I mean EVERY scene) we see some new hint of mental decline and the person who we are familiar with begins to fade. The film itself is tastefully shot and the soundtrack will often give clues as to the state of her mind, especially when she is about to suffer an attack. The supporting performances are beyond excellent with Alec Baldwin as the silently suffering husband and Kristen Stewart (yes, HER) as the closest of the children to the mother and understanding her feelings.
I'm still going to go on record and say that Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Reese Witherspoon (Wild) had Julianne Moore dead to rights as far as a leading performance is concerned, but that should not hinder your appreciation of what she does here. And let's be honest - Moore is a veteran, no bullshit actress who consistently brings her abilities to the screen in everything she appears in - whether it be critically acclaimed character studies or hack popcorn action movies. So recognition is deserved in one way or another. Approach this film with respect and fair warning of its heavy subject matter.