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Lively, Long, and Prosperous: "Star Trek Into Darkness" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 18 May 2013 12:09

Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine in Star Trek Into DarknessSTAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

Star Trek Into Darkness opens on a note of frenzied, almost satiric busyness. For reasons initially left unexplained, and in a set piece suggesting a futuristic Raiders of the Lost Ark, Captain Kirk and “Bones” McCoy are first seen racing through a jungle of crimson foliage on a foreign planet, attempting to escape the clutches of dozens of yowling savages with black eyeballs and papier-mâché skin. The chase eventually leads the pair to the edge of a cliff where they leap into the water below, just as Mr. Spock – much to the concern of his unusually panicked fellow crew members – beams into the belly of an active, ready-to-burst volcano. Director J.J. Abrams’ franchise extender isn’t even five minutes old, and between the shouting, the manically staged mayhem, the whiplash editing, and composer Michael Giacchino’s pummeling score, it already feels like a typically overstuffed blockbuster sequel, yet one without any of the wit that Abrams brought to 2009’s terrifically witty Star Trek reboot. But then something wonderful happens.

 
Out with the Old Sport, in with the New: "The Great Gatsby," "Mud," and "Peeples" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 12 May 2013 16:34

Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great GatsbyTHE GREAT GATSBY

Although, in the end, the film wound up an engaging and surprisingly touching entertainment, and it’s visually spellbinding throughout, the first half hour of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby felt, to me, exactly like the first half hours of all Baz Luhrmann movies: annoying as hell.

 
Heavy Metal: "Iron Man 3" and "Space Junk 3D" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 05 May 2013 20:01

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3IRON MAN 3

Iron Man 3 begins with narration by Tony Stark, the superheroic multi-billionaire voiced and eventually embodied, as always, by Robert Downey Jr. His tone is steady and somber as he makes ominous pronouncements about the uncertain state of the world and how we each create our own demons and such, but before long, Stark’s more expectedly breezy, wise-ass nature takes over – he stumbles over his words and realizes his blathering isn’t really going anywhere, and quickly puts a kibosh on the opening address. The whole routine is reminiscent of Woody Allen’s hilariously neurotic “Chapter one ... ” intro at the start of Manhattan, and immediately suggests that this second sequel to 2008’s effects-laden blockbuster will be both deathly serious and happily insouciant. And it is. I’m just not completely convinced, in the case of Iron Man 3, that that’s a good thing.

 
Meatheads: "Pain & Gain" and "The Big Wedding" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 28 April 2013 17:04

Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & GainPAIN & GAIN

In Pain & Gain, the witty, savvy, almost perfectly pitched new release by Michael Bay, Mark Wahlberg plays a dimwitted personal trainer who decides he’d rather steal than pursue the American dream, and – .

Yes, I just used “witty,” “savvy,” and “almost perfectly pitched” to describe a Michael Bay movie. Trust me, you’re not as shocked as I am.

 
“Pines” Soul: "The Place Beyond the Pines" and "Oblivion" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 21 April 2013 21:15

Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes in The Place Beyond the PinesTHE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

You may not remember this if you’re 25 or younger, but between the mid-’70s and mid-’90s, we were sometimes treated to Very Special Episodes of long-running sitcoms. These episodes, which were usually twice as long as their shows’ 22-minute standard, found beloved characters momentarily wrestling with Weighty Themes and tackling Important Issues, and were frequently showered with critical praise and awards despite, or maybe because of, their general self-consciousness and bloat. (Michael J. Fox and Helen Hunt surely owe several of their Emmys to VSEs.) They’re mocked now, and they were kind of mocked then, and so it might seem like a particularly condescending insult to say that director Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines feels like nothing so much as a Very Special Episode of a gritty, edgy indie drama.

 
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