Good ideas, good acting, the makings of a good thriller, or a good sci-fi think piece, or a good love story. However, none of the elements come together to satisfy in any of these categories, so a promising start fizzles. It is a film you can enjoy in a comfortable chair with your brain turned off, but it should be more.
Most superhero movies are a con, a sleight of hand trick. While everything's moving, you're fascinated, but when it's over, you're left with nothing but a lighter wallet. The Winter Soldier's pleasures linger a little longer, because amid too many bullets and explosions, there's a bit of character work and an expanding set of complications that never quite collapse under their own weight.
Way better than most of the early 2000s TV series, largely because it's concentrated into a single film rather than permitted to sprawl across a season of television. Kristen Bell is an engaging lead facing an interesting mystery, a decent personal conflict, and many familiar faces.
The Grand Budapest Hotel has a superficial resemblance to the Wes Anderson films you'd rightly roll your eyes at, but the story and a delightful performance from Ralph Finnes inspire Anderson to his best work to date. While Finnes' M. Gustave is a flamboyant dandy when he's not punching faux Nazis in the face, this is not a twee hipster handjob--this is a seriously entertaining piece of cinema.
Martin Scorcese's new film is a long, amoral mess. The story has no moral compass whatsoever, and after the Wall Street led recession of 2008, there's no excuse for that--Scorcese should be ashamed. And yet, The Wolf of Wall Street is a thrilling 180 minutes that very nearly makes up for lack of a soul through sheer filmmaking bravado.
It's murky, incoherent, slapdash, and sort of off-putting to the uninitiated. It's what moviemaking is like when a generation of children raised on sugary cereal gets a chance to play with cameras and computers. It has its charms, but if you're not already a fan of Marvel's superhero movies, this ain't your gateway drug.
12 Years a Slave is a powerful, brutal piece of filmmaking that wins entirely on the careful eye and discipline of its director, Steve McQueen, and star, Chiwetel Ejiofor. It is a relentless chronicle of nearly unimaginable brutality that manages to make that brutality seem almost routine, rather than sensationalized.
Controversial as all hell, winner of unprecedented accolades at Cannes, and clocking in at a solid three hours long, Blue is the Warmest Color is not the easiest film to review.
In short, the actresses are excellent and the direction is, in many ways, wonderful. But at the same time that Abdel Kechiche does marvelous things with a constantly roving, claustrophobically intimate camera, his storytelling choices are often a bit bewildering.
It's cold, it's artificial, it's not bothering to explain itself. But a powerful cast and Ridley Scott make Cormac McCarthy's stark, unyielding scrips come to life. It's a film that will have a hard time finding an audience, but it definitely deserves to find it.
If you've gone 14, 18 days without seeing Benedict Cumberbach portray a preening bastard, here's your fix. It's the key formative years of Wikileaks from the guy who made all his money directing Twilight movies. There are better documentaries you could watch, and better movies featuring these same talented actors.
It doesn't have enough chills to be horror, it doesn't have enough depth to be art. The Carrie remake is an exercise in squandering story and cast, and neither the screenwriters nor director Kimberly Peirce should be let off the hook for the disjointed, pedestrian failure they've thrust upon moviegoers.
Crap story, crap execution, by a bunch of indifferent hacks squandering the talent of three good performers who are clearly uninspired and underdirected here. Textbook definition of Hollywood mediocrity.
That was amazing. It's a lot more event than character, but as a visual achievement, as an artistic creation, as a nail-biting entertainment, this thing succeeds to such a degree that singlehandedly this smart, intimate thriller nearly redeems a disappointing year for blockbuster adventure. See it--in a theater, in 3D.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes his debut as a write and director with a comedy that turns rom-com expectations upside down, focuses on an awkward topic without resorting to gross-out laughs, and demonstrates a lively directorial hand. It is, in other words, a success.
Rush is about two unlikeable guys competing at driving funny cars in circles, until the film is over. It has nothing to say and no real way to engage the audience. If I wanted to watch irredeemable jerks swerve through traffic like they own the road, I'd drive to work.
Belatedly, Badmouth gets around to seeing the new Woody Allen movie, and finds arguably the best film of the year, and inarguably the finest performance. If Cate Blanchett doesn't get the Oscar, there's no reason for the Academy to exist.
The best thing you can do is stop reading this review and go see The World's End as soon as you can, with as little knowledge of the movie as you can manage in today's Internet-soaked age. In a summer flooded with over-produced, underwritten CGI crap, this movie has as much action and chaos as any of them, but also a jaw-dropping amount of craft.
Ashton Kutcher makes palatable a biopic that misses the mark in terms of illuminating the life or legacy of Steve Jobs. Kutcher's work is worthy of a better script and more visionary director. As it is, we walk through much of Steve Jobs' life and marvel at what a bastard he was. Does it matter that he was right about tech and design? Hard to tell, here.