Short, sweet, and grippingly to the point, Poltergeist still earns top… MoreShort, sweet, and grippingly to the point, Poltergeist still earns top marks as a straight-head haunted house tale told with great humor and verve. Rather than walk out of Gil Kenans C-Grade Poltergeist remake, Tobe Hoopers superior original definitely deserves a revisit. Brilliantly directed and tautly scripted, the film wastes not a second of your time, bringing on the terror early on in the first act and never letting up. Even then (E.T. got released the same year), Steven Spielberg knew the makings of great entertainment and his story connects with the audience on every level. You laugh with the Frelings and laugh often, building a camaraderie that makes their daughters abduction and mothers love all the more compelling. Indeed, even when the cadavers fly at you, Poltergeist feels more like a fun house than haunted house.
In this PG-rated classic slice of horror, the Freling family's home gets haunted by a host of ghosts.
Building on what made 1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre so bone-rattlingly scary, Hooper uses tracking shots and oft kilter angles to ratchet up the thrills. With just a PG rating, he amazingly scores some of the most organic boos in cinematic history (it honestly feels R-rated sometimes). Of course, genius casting plays no small part as well. Williams as the mother, Heather O'Rourke as the apple-cheeked daughter and Zelda Rubenstein as the pint-sized paranormal investigator leave such an indelible mark that version 2.0 never stood a chance.
Bottom line: The Amityville Honor
Taking moviegoers to parts still unknown, Disney's once highly… MoreTaking moviegoers to parts still unknown, Disney's once highly secretive, modern interpretation of Uncle Walt's futuristic Tomorrowland boasts interesting morals, concepts and effects but a hopelessly muddled narrative. Why put off Tomorrowland when you can see it today? Well, the movie's simply not that great. Oh, it proves wonderfully optimistic and inventive in parts...just not in the right order. The story behind this Dreamporium unfurls in a fragmented fashion that soon loses your interest. Audiences are already intrigued. Otherwise, they wouldn't have a bought a ticket. Rather than wowing them with a consistently intriguing and thrilling backstory for this Space Age Love Song, however, the whole production ends up being unnecessarily plodding and complex. Win: Over the course of Tomorrowland, we discover that this titular place is a parallel world where the greatest inventors can go and work on their life-changing theories unencumbered by war, bureaucracy, and/or pessimismonly we now live in an age of fewer dreamers (the budget cuts of NASA play a prominent role). Loss: It takes nearly two confounding hours to explain what should've been an easy-to-digest piece of popcornsomething Interstellar did to better effect while juggling numerous other themes. Worse, the script keeps one of the world's biggest superstars hidden away until well into the second act. Soon after, we see the foundation of Tomorrowland represented by an secret Eiffel Tower exhibit featuring waxworks of Jules Verne, Thomas Edison, and Nicolai Tesla, among others. Seeing this founding dramatized would've provided more entertainment and interest than all of the needless exposition that resulted instead.
In this PG-rated sci-fi adventure, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity (Robertson) and a former boy-genius inventor (Clooney) embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.
The funny thing is, Brad Bird knows blockbusters, having directed one phenomenal animated flick (The Incredibles) and one excellent live action adventure (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol). What's more, his co-screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Star Trek Into Darkness, ABC's Lost) knows good writing, only he can't fully mine one from Jeff Jenson's story. As always in fine form even with substandard material, George Clooney appears in the outset in a tagged-on prologue but it's not enough to explain away his absence for over half of the flick. His latest effort exhibits great vision in presenting a trend-bucking promising future as opposed to bleak horizon, but the whole she-bang needs to present them in a clearer fashion.
Bottom line: Dredge of Tomorrow
"They're back" for another round of walking away from the light, only… More"They're back" for another round of walking away from the light, only the Holey Ghosts of this Poltergeist remake offer up some legitimate scares but little else to truly make it memorable in the shadow of its much superior original. From the handheld video game-playing outset, this horror tale tries distinguishing itself far and wide from the 1982 that thankfully serves as forebear. The hallmarks of Steven Spielberg's story remain high points. A lot of judicious tweaks make the proceedings more current but the classic didn't exactly feel that dated. Outside of a contractual obligation, there was no reason to redo a proven horror scarer. Leaner but not meaner, this shorter version brings nothing new or more frightening to the screen despite sporting a higher rating. With just a PG, the nearly 34 year-old version scares up far more style, laughs, and spine tingling moments.
In this PG-13-rated remake of the 1982 horror classic, a family's suburban home gets invaded by evil forces.
Great casting and humor play a part in both versions but the blueprint uses these strong points to better effect (Jared Harris is an amazing actor but never sticks in your memory so much as diminutive Southern ghostbuster Zelda Rubenstein). Oh, you definitely jump a few times in Poltergeist 2.0 but you really should be jumping up to rent the standard. It's a shame too because, following his excellent work on the Amblin-flavored cartoon Monster House, director Gil Kenan definitely exhibits a great feel for horror. Always indelible on screen, Sam Rockwell is usually the most compelling actor onscreen when hes involved. Here, he tries acting his way around deviations from classic lines like "They're here" and "This house is clean" but it's just A-grade window dressing on a C-grade haunted house.
Bottom line: Polter Gripes
More grindhouse than post-Apocalypse wheelhouse, this drive-in… MoreMore grindhouse than post-Apocalypse wheelhouse, this drive-in adrenaline rush established a blockbuster brand and made Mel Gibson a star with good reason. It was shot mostly on the cheap but you wouldnt know it. Staging Fast & Furious-level hot-rod blockbusting on a Two-Lane Blacktop budget, this origin tale exhibits a biting albeit offbeat - sense of humor and balletic violence that rightly earned it an instant cult status. Indeed, Mad Max isnt for everybody. Its more dialogue driven and less entertaining than the superior follow-up, The Road Warrior, but it sets a winning A-Level B-Movie cinema tone that carries through to this day in top shelf form with Fury Road. Call it an interesting start.
In this R-rated thriller, a vengeful Australian policeman (Gibson) sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang in a self-destructing post-apocalyptic world.
Movies like this dont happen by accident. George Miller made his mark from the get-go by staging some gonzo bedlam. He loves drive-in cinema theatrics, but his mastery of the form evinces a genius level understanding of classic cinema. Likewise, Mel Gibson grabs your attention and never lets go from the moment he drives on-screen. This film birthed not just a star but a bona-fide superstar and he owns every minute as the now-iconic character.
Bottom line: The Passion of the Crikey
Singing for their Super, the Barden Bellas Pitch a comedy that's not… MoreSinging for their Super, the Barden Bellas Pitch a comedy that's not quite as near-Perfect as its predecessor but comes very close by hitting a lot of high notes along the way. Call in a sophomore whump, grooving moviegoers with vervy mix of knee-slapping wit and toe-tapping warbling. Thats what made the first Pitch Perfect so catchy, after all, and part 2 doesnt stray too far from this wheelhouse. In fact, in typical sequel form, the flick just ups the ante and the stakes. The key differences between this and most follow-ups come down to the hilariously bawdy (but somehow teen-friendly) sense of humor and brilliant choice of soundtrack. Most of the jokes and gags get the desired effect, which involves laughing out loud and singing along in a dark theater full of strangers. Likewise, the song choice evinces a lot of careful planning. With so much sing-offs, youd think the constant rotation of 90s jukebox hits would get old fast. On the contrary, they set the mood and keep you invested in a musical by default.
In this R-rated musical comedy directed by actress Elizabeth Banks, collegiate a cappella group the Barden Bellas (Kendrick, Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld) enter into an international competition that no American team has ever won.
Taking the directing reins from Jason Moore, Elizabeth Banks (who also reprises her role as snide commentator Gail) delivers a comedy that capitalizes on a wonderfully zany set of players. It helps that the letter-Perfect cast nails every line and song. Kendricks A-Level sardonic sarcastic delivery and Wilsons physical clowning alone provide a masterclass in modern comedy. Easily worth another follow-up, this likeable gang of songstresses earn respect all the more in this theater of deprecation (Wilsons opening number wardrobe malfunction and Kendricks uncontrollable fascination with rival singer Birgitte Hjort Sørensen rate highest among this critic).
Bottom line: Lady Sings the Boo Yah
Taking moviegoers down a Mad-dening Fury-ous road at Max-imum… MoreTaking moviegoers down a Mad-dening Fury-ous road at Max-imum overdrive, this high-octane thrill ride makes for one of the most entertaining popcorn blockbusters to come along in ages. Like a roller coaster without a brake, the gun battles, fisticuffs, and pedal-to-the-metal stunts come at you at a fully automatic clip. What makes the whole two hours so exhilarating, however, is how fresh had vital it all feels. Sure, audiences have been down similar Third World road wars. Hell, theyve even travelled with a road warrior bearing the same name. Youve never quite seen anything as entertaining as Mad Max: Fury Road, however. With very little dialogue, Fury Road manages to spin an eye-popping post-Apocalyptic character-driven tale unlike no other--even its Mad Max forebears. It helps that, title notwithstanding, the movie proves to be a double act. Max and Furiosa are compelling enough on their lonesome, but, in teaming up these purpose-driven hard-charging people of action, theres just as much mystery and intrigue as there is actionand thats a hell of a lot.
In this R-rated continuation of the post-Apocalyptic thriller series, a nomad named Max (Hardy) teams up with a mysterious rebel leader, Furiosa (Theron), to try and survive in a world in which people fight to the death and oil is the most precious commodity.
Having already demonstrated himself to be a highly expressive fighting man of few words as the villainous Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and as an embattled ex-soldier-turned-MMA fighter in Warrior, Tom Hardy perfectly fits the bill, saying as much with his eyes as with his right hook. Likewise, Charlize Theron brings a ridiculous amount of gravitas and grit to his counterpart, a hard-bitten rebel. Exhibiting more energy than filmmakers one quarter his age, however, original Mad Max director George Miller offers up non-stop racecar-in-the-red action full of grit and spit. Using very little CGI, he stages the souped-up car stunts organically. Indeed, it plays out like a 20-megaton demolition derby locked in top gear from the get-go. 30 years tickded by since the last Mad Max (1985's Beyond Thunderdome), but he more than makes up for lost time. In fact, this is really the only chapter that you need to see.
Bottom line: Beyond Thunderstruck