- Your Voice
Many adults complain that today’s youth is dominated by video games and iPads. But no matter how advanced technology becomes, Lego will always be there to provide the building blocks for good, old-fashion fun. Every Lego box is a treasure chest of infinite possibilities, allowing us to construct castles, cars, and entire cities. Lego has fueled our imaginations ever since 1949. Sixty-five years and 560 billion Lego pieces later, we get “The Lego Movie.”
Everyone had reservations when it was announced Peter Jackson would be splitting up “The Hobbit” into a trilogy. Do we really need three separate movies? Can’t this 300-page book be done in one movie? Isn’t this just a ploy to milk a franchise and make an extra couple billion dollars? When “An Unexpected Journey” finally came out last December, we all found that these initial concerns were pretty much spot-on.
You can probably tell whether you’re going to enjoy “All is Lost” based on the film’s synopsis. Robert Redford plays a sailor on a voyage somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Without any exposition or explanation, he wakes up one morning to find that his yacht has crashed into a shipping container. The sailor has no way to contact help and little means of navigation. Even though the sailor manages to patch the hole up, his boat won’t last long with hazardous weather conditions on the horizon.
Seven years ago, Director Paul Greengrass gave us “United 93.” Greengrass’ vision was bold and pulled no punches, easily making it the best post-9/11 film to date. Everything Greengrass brought to the table in “United 93” is displayed in “Captain Phillips.” This is another intensely shot, authentically edited true story about ordinary people forced to step up during a catastrophe. Is it the masterpiece that “United 93” was? Not quite, but that’s a really tough act to beat.
Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity” just might have the most horrifying premise in all of movies. There are several other strong contenders like “Buried,” in which Ryan Reynolds was trapped in a coffin underground, and “127 Hours,” where James Franco was stuck between a rock and a hard place. But honestly, what’s scarier than being stranded in space with limited air and no communication with Earth? Going to outer space is in itself a fairly scary thought. The notion of anything going wrong up there is the worst nightmare imaginable. As the tagline to “Alien” says, in space no one can hear you scream.
In “Prisoners,” Director Denis Villeneuve is allowed the privilege few lesser known filmmakers have these days: The chance to not only make a multimillion-dollar American movie with A-list actors, but to also see his vision to the end. It would have been easy for the studio to step in and dumb this material down to another Hollywood thriller. Watching the film, you feel nothing short of grateful that the project was helmed by Villeneuve, whose “Incendies” received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. Give him an intelligent script by Aaron Guzikowski in addition to a faultless cast, and you’ve got a recipe for one of the most distinctive crime dramas since “Mystic River.”
Typically whenever a movie succumbs to the redundant car chase, it means that the screenwriter officially ran out of story to tell. It’s clear that the people behind “Getaway” never had any story to start with, as the entire film plays out like an extended car chase from its opening scene to its ridiculous ending.
If “Bridesmaids” was the female version of “The Hangover,” then “The To Do List” could be considered the female version of “American Pie.” You could also call it the female version of “Superbad,” the raunchier version of “Easy A,” or the 1990s version of “Sixteen Candles.”
When Osama bin Laden was assassinated, it felt like the War on Terror’s big climax. The enemy was defeated, America rejoiced, and a bright new day was born. Two years later, troops are still in the Middle East, lives are still being lost, and undisclosed wars are still taking place right under our noses. It’s a war without an end. That’s one of the many sad truths explored in “Dirty Wars,” a documentary that’s significant, admirable, and occasionally shocking, although never really profound.
Most of the ads for “After Earth” have neglected to mention that M. Night Shyamalan co-wrote and directed the film. Movie studios finally seem to be realizing that having Shyamalan’s name plastered above the title will no longer sell tickets.
If you grew up in the early 90s, you probably remember an animated feature from 20th Century Fox called “FernGully: The Last Rainforest.” It was the environmentally conscious movie every 90s kid saw and, yet, nobody really liked. The film’s intentions might have been good, but even the youngest children seemed to find its blatant “green” message overly preachy. The fact that “FernGully” was lacking in any interesting characters or magic didn’t help.
"Oblivion” is another movie that seems better suited for a video game than a motion picture. Watching the characters engage in endless shoot outs and explore vast, abandoned terrains, all you want to do is get your hands on a controller. Since a movie is unequipped with game play, though, you’re forced to sit back and merely observe the story. Then again, most modern video games have more three-dimensional characters and smarter plots than “Oblivion.” This science fiction mystery from director Joseph Kosinski isn’t completely without some good ideas, elevating it above “Transformers” schlock. It’s just unfortunate those ideas never meld into anything that intriguing.
Although it’s not much, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” really deserves credit where credit’s due. Its 2009 predecessor was one of the dumbest action movies of the past 10 years. In this sequel, director Jon M. Chu of those “Step Up” movies makes an attempt to incorporate some humor, creative action sequences, and impressive visuals. That doesn’t mean “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is a good movie, but at least it’s an improvement. The film could have gone down the route of the “Transformers” series, which only got worse with every entry.
In recent years, there have been some really good Oscar hosts like Hugh Jackman, some acceptable hosts like John Stewart, some disappointing hosts like Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin, and some flat-out horrendous hosts like James Franco & Anne Hathaway. Despite the best efforts of some, none have come close to capturing the same wit, timing, and showmanship of reoccurring hosts like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, or Billy Crystal. At the 85th Annual Academy Awards ceremony however, Seth MacFarlane of “Ted” and “Family Guy” emerged as the single most entertaining first-time Oscar host of the 21st century.
Where everyone else spent most of last January debating which team would be victorious at Super Bowl XLVII, I was busy trying to predict which movies would win big at the 85th annual Academy Awards. In many respects, the Oscars feel like a sporting event as nominees tirelessly campaign to win and award analyzers place bets on which horse will cross the finish line.
“A Good Day to Die Hard” marks the fifth entry to the “Die Hard” franchise and the third film to come out in the last two months about an ass kicking senior citizen. The original “Die Hard” is a definitive action picture that can still make audiences cheer even after multiple viewings. Whether you love or hate “Die Hard 2” and “Die Hard with a Vengeance,” pretty much everyone can agree that John McClane made a welcome return in the sensational “Live Free or Die Hard” a few years ago. The previous “Die Hard” got just about everything right from the absurdly insane stunts, to the humorous dialog, to Bruce Willis’ committed performance. “A Good Day to Die Hard” has just enough fun moments for die-hard fans to take a gander. Regrettably, it remains the least impressive outing of this series.
After “A Walk to Remember,” “The Notebook,” “The Last Song,” “The Lucky One,” and “Dear John,” Nicholas Sparks is obviously running a campaign to become president of sappiness. His novels have inspired a number of hokey adaptations chock-full of one-dimensional archetypes and scenes ripped off from other romances. This guy loves seeing people get caught in the rain more than Michael Bay marvels at the sight of explosions. The latest picture from the novelist turned producer, “Safe Haven,” is every bit as cheesy and mushy as one would expect. It’s about as original as a Lifetime movie designed to brazenly manipulate our emotions. Maybe I’m becoming easier to manipulate, but this melodramatic cornball kept me completely invested from beginning to end.
Billy Crystal proved earlier this year that he’s still more than capable of hosting an Oscar telecast. The question that remains is whether or not the 64-year-old comedic legend still has what it takes to carry a feature-length film.
While “Knocked Up” established Seth Rogan and Katherine Heigl as major movie stars, it was Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd who stole the entire show. Rogan and Heigl’s characters are nowhere to be found in the sort-of sequel to “Knocked Up.”