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Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: "Annie" and "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 19 December 2014 18:50

Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, and Rose Byrne in AnnieANNIE

Sony’s last-remaining grab for the holiday box office, the much-downloaded reboot of Annie, opened this weekend, and it must be said that as a musical – especially as a musically faithful interpretation of the stage show – it kind of sucks. The choreography’s a shambles and the mixing is poor and the original numbers are terrible, while familiar, enjoyable Annie tunes such as “Little Girls” and “Easy Street” are merely sampled, their melodies and lyrics awkwardly woven into new pop and hip-hop arrangements. (Three of the film’s myriad producers are Jay-Z and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, so I guess we should just be grateful that the titular orphan is played by Quvenzhané Wallis and not Willow. Or Jaden.)

 
Holy Moses!: "Exodus: Gods & Kings" and "Whiplash" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 12 December 2014 14:44

Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods & KingsEXODUS: GODS & KINGS

You can tell a lot about a movie by its trailers. I don’t mean the trailers for the movie itself, although that’s also, usually, the case. I’m talking about the ones that play before the main attraction – the previews for future releases that generally share a genre or overall flavor with whatever film you’re paying to see, collectively acting as a sort of “Because you watched ______” recommendation list on Netflix.

 
Hawking: "The Theory of Everything" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 07 December 2014 18:50

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of EverythingTHE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

After being released in larger markets several weeks ago, the Stephen Hawking bio-pic The Theory of Everything has finally landed locally. For those of you who loved the trailers, it’s probably going to be exactly the warm, touching, inspirational romance you were led to expect. For those of you who rolled your eyes at the trailers, as I did, it’s probably going to be exactly the banal, formulaic, desperately Oscar-bait-y domestic drama you feared it might be, and perhaps even worse.

 
Foreign Affairs: "Force Majeure," "Goodbye to Language 3D," and "The Pyramid" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 07 December 2014 18:37

Force MajeureFORCE MAJEURE and GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE 3D

On Friday, I caught a foreign-language double-feature at Iowa City’s FilmScene venue, and was happy to do it. In retrospect, I might’ve been even happier had I only stuck around for half of it.

 
Fight or Flightless: "Penguins of Madagascar," "Horrible Bosses 2," and "Rosewater" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 30 November 2014 16:54

Penguins of MadagascarPENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR

Penguins of Madagascar opens with a sweeping overhead shot of an (animated) Antarctic expanse, which eventually lands on an orderly march of flightless waterfowl. This introduction is narrated by a documentarian voiced by Werner Herzog, who informs us, in the director’s unmistakable German-accented English, that we’re to witness penguins in all their natural glory – right before he orders a crew member to shove a few off a cliff, just to see what will happen. Between Herzog, the environmental-doc satire, and the sheer goofiness of it all, this prelude is such a fantastically funny way to start directors Eric Darnell’s and Simon J. Smith’s spin-off that it immediately leaves you anticipating a movie that’ll be smart and hilarious throughout. Would you settle, though, for smart and moderately amusing?

 
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