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Loki Here: "Thor: The Dark World," "Jerusalem," and "About Time" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 10 November 2013 10:47

Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: The Dark WorldTHOR: THE DARK WORLD

As the comic-book demigod Loki, the nefarious thorn-in-the-side to the Avengers and adopted brother to Thor, Tom Hiddleston, in the Marvel Studios movies, exudes a teasing, seductive malevolence. With his sharp, angular features and chilling gaze that suggests he might prefer eating you to killing you, he’s a wonderfully unstable and hypnotic screen creation. Yet the brilliance in Hiddleston’s interpretation is that his Loki is also so damned charming. The character may forever be planning destruction or plotting revenge – specifically against the golden-haired preferred son with the red cape and hammer – but Hiddleston’s bearing is so smooth and relaxed, and his wide grin so infectious, that you almost can’t help rooting for him, especially because he also, generally, gets his movies’ best jokes.

 
Arcade-ia: "Ender’s Game," "Last Vegas," and "Free Birds" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 03 November 2013 12:40

Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield in Ender's GameENDER’S GAME

In writer/director Gavin Hood’s sci-fi adventure Ender’s Game, our titular hero (Asa Butterfield) is a 12-year-old who’s bullied both at school and at home, whose gestating anger leads to frequent violent outbursts, and whose frighteningly focused skills at computer-simulated war games not only earn him the respect of his peers but, eventually, the grateful thanks of every man, woman, and child on the planet. It is, in short, a Revenge of the Nerd fable to out-Carrie Carrie, and about the strongest argument for 24/7 video-game compulsion that any young game-hound could wish for. Just keep playing, you can hear the movie whispering to its console-obsessed demographic. One of these days, you’ll show ’em. You’ll show ’em all.

 
Over the Hill, Under the Gun: "Bad Grandpa" and "The Counselor" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 27 October 2013 11:24

Jackson Nicoll and Johnny Knoxville in Bad GrandpaBAD GRANDPA

This might surprise a grand total of none of you, but Bad Grandpa – which also goes by the more telling title Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – isn’t much of a movie. The first Jackass release to feature an actual narrative, and actual characters, in place of the usual parades of comically vile, violent challenges and stunts (though there are a few of those, too), director Jeff Tremaine’s road-trip slapstick is mostly shapeless and certainly obvious, and nowhere near as hilarious as you want it to be.

Yet it’s also a continually interesting and, in the end, rather sweet sociological experiment reminiscent of Borat, but a Borat without the mean-spiritedness. If Sacha Baron Cohen’s outing, with its Candid Camera-style employment of “real people” clearly not in on the joke, reveled in displaying how crass and ignorant Americans could be, Tremaine’s suggests just how tolerant and polite we can be – and given the circumstances presented here, that’s apparently mighty tolerant and polite indeed.

 
Period Piece: "Carrie," "The Fifth Estate," and "Escape Plan" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 20 October 2013 16:31

Chloe Grace Moretz in CarrieCARRIE

(Author’s note: Spoilers will abound. Given that the movie under consideration is an oftentimes word-for-word updating of a 37-year-old work, I hope I’ll be forgiven for them.)

As remakes of beloved genre classics go, I suppose there’s little point in being bothered by the new Carrie. Director Kimberly Peirce’s outing, after all, is easy to sit through, smartly staged, generally well-acted, and, in most regards, incredibly faithful to Brian De Palma’s 1976 original (which was, itself, reasonably faithful to Stephen King’s debut novel of 1974). The CGI effects are pretty weak, and the movie isn’t even slightly scary, and considering that nearly all sentient beings know what happens to poor Carrie White at the prom – with the movie’s entire advertising campaign based on post-prom imagery – there’s almost nothing in the way of storyline surprise, but whatever. It’s fine.

 
Rogue, Rogue, Rogue … . Your Boat! "Captain Phillips," "Machete Kills," and "Grace Unplugged" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 13 October 2013 20:05

Tom Hanks and Mahat M. Ali in Captain PhillipsCAPTAIN PHILLIPS

We’ve all seen movies that begin spectacularly well but seem to slowly, sadly lose their inspiration as they progress, leaving you to wonder, by their finales, what it was that initially had you so jazzed about them. Paul Greengrass’ dramatic thriller Captain Phillips, I’m happy to say, is not one of those movies. Actually, it might be the exact opposite of one of those movies: a work that starts out distractingly shaky yet gradually morphs into something utterly spectacular – so spectacular, in truth, that you can barely remember how off-put you were by the comparative bummer of its early scenes.

 
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