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Airport '14: "Non-Stop" and "Son of God" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 01 March 2014 13:02

Liam Neeson in Non-StopNON-STOP

Every Academy Awards season, the idea of adding a Best Casting category appears to gain some traction among film journalists and professionals. (This past autumn saw the limited release of a documentary – Tom Donahue’s Casting by – devoted to the subject, and Woody Allen, whom one would’ve thought indifferent to the Oscars at best, even wrote an open letter to the Hollywood Reporter in support of a casting trophy.) I’m personally fine with restricting the ceremony to the two dozen categories we do have, but if such recognition were to be included, voters could do worse than to consider Amanda Mackey and Cathy Sandrich Galfond – casting directors for the enjoyably ludicrous Non-Stop – for the prize. To be sure, it doesn’t take much wit to suggest that Liam Neeson play a grieving alcoholic with a bad temper and a gun. But casting, as two beleaguered flight attendants, 12 Years a Slave’s abused slave Patsey opposite Downton Abbey’s rigid Lady Mary? Now that’s witty.

 
Are You Not Entertained?!: "Pompeii," "3 Days to Kill," and "Winter’s Tale" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 23 February 2014 13:23

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Kit Harington in PompeiiPOMPEII

About a half-hour into Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii, the film’s protagonist – a gladiator-turned-slave amusingly named Milo – hears the unfamiliar sound of the nearby Mount Vesuvius preparing to erupt. “It is the mountain,” says Milo’s comrade Atticus. “It grumbles from time to time.” So do movie reviewers, and this latest 3D action spectacle by the director of Mortal Kombat, Death Race, and a trio of Resident Evil flicks would, at first glance, appear to be exactly the sort of thing I’d personally grumble about: a predictably corny, derivative, overscaled costume party with loads of generic violence and nothing in the way of subtlety or emotional nuance.

Yet while it’s easy to name the movie’s most direct influences, Gladiator and Titanic chief among them, what I didn’t at all expect was for this swords-and-sandals outing to be so thoroughly, cheerfully indebted to 1970s disaster epics in the vein of The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure; Pompeii, to its cheeky credit, is kind of like 1974’s Earthquake with the ancient Roman city cast in the role of Los Angeles.

 
Voting Like a Voter: Predicting, and Preferring, the 2014 Academy Award Winners PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 06:00

Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a SlaveWhen it comes to the films and individuals that win Academy Awards, it’s easy to get defensive, and even a little pissy, about voters’ collective choices. “How could those people ever vote for ______,” you find yourself asking, “when ______ is so obviously better? Don’t they have any integrity at all?!”

 
Let’s Remake a Deal: "RoboCop," "About Last Night," and "Endless Love" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 16 February 2014 16:23

Joel Kinnaman and Gary Oldman in RoboCopROBOCOP, ABOUT LAST NIGHT, and ENDLESS LOVE

I caught a triple-feature this past weekend, and lemme tell ya, it made me feel like a teenager again. Specifically, it made me feel 19, my age when the original RoboCop debuted; 18, my age when the original About Last Night debuted; and 13, my age when the original Endless Love debuted. I don’t know what confluence of release strategies resulted in this trifecta of Reagan-era remakes, but I guess I should be grateful to Hollywood for the collective trip down memory lane. I’d be more grateful if the movies themselves were better, but ... .

 
Plastics: "The Lego Movie," "The Monuments Men," and "Vampire Academy" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 08:28

The Lego MovieTHE LEGO MOVIE

Two of the characters in The Lego Movie are Lego Minifigures of Superman and Green Lantern, the latter of whom, here, is an obsequious suck-up whom the Man of Steel can’t stand. That’s a good joke. These decided non-friends are voiced by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, who famously played best friends in 21 Jump Street. That’s a good in-joke. The Lego Movie is directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who also directed 21 Jump Street. That’s a good in-in-joke. But the news that this new animated release is not only the cleverest, most hysterical comedy since 21 Jump Street, but an altogether stronger, more audacious piece of work than at least 90 percent of everything Hollywood gave us last year? No joke at all.

 
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