Kristen Stewart's best performance! Hahaha I mean it's not her most… MoreKristen Stewart's best performance! Hahaha I mean it's not her most challenging role, but her adult self is too inhibited to do "mainstream" emotions of surprise, fear, annoyance, and this haughty big sister role actually requires her to stretch her gloomy face (which I still love), and she was young enough to not overthink it.
Young Josh Hutcherson and Jonah Bobo (of "Crazy, Stupid [refuse that superfluous comma] Love") are ridiculously adorable as quarrelsome brothers in this "Jumanji" sequel. I didn't even realize it was an actual sequel adapted from the book by Chris Van Allsburg because I was never a fan of the first with Kirsten Dunst and Robin Williams. "Zathura" has so many funny lines that even adults will enjoy, like, "Get me a juice box, bitch!" "Grandma!" when the urn falls, and "The card!" when they try to convince Lisa of the game's magic.
And who knew that before Dax Shepherd became the butt-of-the-joke lucky enough to lock down hottie Kristen Bell, he was a rather swashbuckling astronaut himself?!
Average flick about a teen's Halloween night gone wrong, with the… MoreAverage flick about a teen's Halloween night gone wrong, with the requisite high school antics and types: the hot girl who's inexplicably unpopular, the academic nerd who pines for her, her sassyfrassy, social-climbing best friend, the grieving-through-partying absent mother, and the mute little brother who goes missing but not before befriending a variety of party miscreants. It's all rather low stakes, but the emotional reveal about Ren's late father is better than the rest of the movie.
Also one of the first movies I ever saw, and I have fond memories of… MoreAlso one of the first movies I ever saw, and I have fond memories of that first shot of Annie Banks at the top of the stairs then gleefully sliding down the banister, the father-daughter basketball grudge-match underscored by "My Girl," the puppy-dog fiancÚ played by George Newbern, radiant matriarch Diane Keaton, and it goes without saying, Steve Martin's manic meltdown over eight hot dogs versus twelve hot dog buns!
I've always loved Kimberly Williams' crystal blue eyes and feisty exuberance, long before she did "The 10th Kingdom" and added a Paisley. Both Williams sisters for that matter (Ashley who played HIMYM's Victoria). This remake definitely feels more modern with many augmenting details like George's shoe company, the impish little brother-cum-valet, and Annie's career-driven life outside of love and family. Martin Short's and B.D. Wong's over-the-top wedding planners are over-the-top, but what are you gonna do?
Elizabeth Taylor is classy as the original Kay Banks, though the 1950s… MoreElizabeth Taylor is classy as the original Kay Banks, though the 1950s twenty-something-who-lives-at-home-before-she-gets-hitched can't afford to be as multi-faceted a woman as the '90s redux. The black and white classic is an endearing production to be sure, but the film is a bit stuffy with no transition music or familial humor.
You got the touch! You got the pooowwaaah! A bit dated and silly, but… MoreYou got the touch! You got the pooowwaaah! A bit dated and silly, but there's a rip-roaring soundtrack and a rousing adventure story.
Yeah so, kinda fun. A man takes an experimental pill that enhances his… MoreYeah so, kinda fun. A man takes an experimental pill that enhances his natural abilities and makes him super efficient - at cleaning his apartment, at writing the next great American novel, at remembering pointless trivia to impress saucy co-eds, and at day trading with ferocious international businessmen. Naturally. The pacing is hip and bracing, and the introduction of the side effects with Anna Friel's made-under performance is piteous and daunting.
The end (or beginning, depending on how you look at it) is, of course, rather absurd with the vampirism thing and Eddie not having to face the "Flowers for Algernon" consequences of attempting to rise above his station. His meteoric climb to the top makes good use of Bradley Cooper's natural fast-talking cockiness, but even I'm a little over that trick.
"Jurassic Park" (along with "Far and Away" and "Beethoven") was one of… More"Jurassic Park" (along with "Far and Away" and "Beethoven") was one of the first movies I ever saw at barely-English-speaking age seven or eight, so I didn't really understand it; therefore, I wasn't that psyched for this tech-age sequel. The realized park is fine. The kids are fine. The movie as a whole has a lot of suspenseful jump-out-at-you moments, and Chris Pratt is very cool as a raptor trainer. I was hoping for some deeper commentary on playing God in the reveal of Indominus Rex's secret ingredient - like that the DNA was HUMAN! - which would explain its shrewdness and thirst for sport killing.
There's just something about Bryce Dallas Howard that I don't like. She always has this prissy quality, and I suppose that's why she was cast as the prissy, high-strung dino executive. Claire is mostly a damsel in distress, and even when she shows that she's game, she's greeted with incredulity, and after her first badass moment of firing a shotgun, she's "rewarded" with male romantic attention that, for all we know, she had no intention of pursuing. Now, Owen's reactions aren't BDH's fault, but the combination of her natural prissiness and Claire's paper thin, faux-heroine characterization makes for weak execution. BDH also reportedly insisted on keeping her high heels on, and more power to her for that, but it's highly improbable for a person to full out sprint in heels, as evidenced by the camera rarely ever showing all of her feet in the running scenes. It always cut off just below her ankles, which leads me to believe that she had on stunt sneaks! This attempt at making a "strong female character" fails on many fronts.
It's been far too long since I've seen a movie with such economic… MoreIt's been far too long since I've seen a movie with such economic exposition! Within the first five minutes, Caleb wins a contest, helicopters out to a remote paradise, meets genius-inventor-gone-rogue Nathan, and becomes the human component in an AI Turing Test, and we're off on a twisted android/creator/savior hate-triangle that challenges our notions of God, patriarchy, and humanity.
I loved Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander's simmering chemistry in "Anna Karenina," and they are even more quietly explosive here as an ordinary computer programmer who falls under the spell of the dangerously alluring robot, Ava. Ava uses her sexuality, but she is not the typical femme fatale with only the one trick. Nathan and Caleb debate her sexual anatomy versus her sexual agency, and her fierce fight for autonomy from her God/father makes for a white-knuckle creation allegory tinged with sexual politics. Vikander is grace personified, Gleeson does a good American accent, and excellent-in-everything Oscar Isaac plays the mad scientist with fast and loose insouciance.
I do wish, however, that the script better defined the criteria for humanity. Not being well-versed in bio-robotics, I still think of androids as robots, but the movie's thesis hinges upon the supposition that they're not - that a robot programmed to have that high a level of human consciousness is essentially human. As such, I didn't quite understand why Caleb calls Nathan a monster for so blithely dismantling his beta versions. Also, the big reveal is played out for the audience's benefit with unrealistic suspense that is incongruous to what Caleb already knows.
Epic freaking musical about a singing comedienne wedging her way into… MoreEpic freaking musical about a singing comedienne wedging her way into her big break. The beginning is a bit slow, and I tired of Fanny's repetitive self-deprecation about her lack of traditional beauty, but Barbra Streisand is sassy and ballsy, and my word, is Omar Sharif not the most dashing and earnest paramour? He says "I love you" so shyly yet tenderly! Nicky's love and admiration are so soaring, and that's what makes the main relationship conflict of Fanny outgrowing Nicky and the show-stopping number "My Man" all the more tragic in a mere mortals sort of way.