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items tagged with Benedict Cumberbatch

Fight or Flightless: "Penguins of Madagascar," "Horrible Bosses 2," and "Rosewater"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2014-11-30 22:54:06

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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Both Eyes for an Eye, a Jaw for a Tooth: "The Equalizer" and "The Boxtrolls"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2014-09-28 20:38:49

Denzel Washington in The EqualizerTHE EQUALIZER

As he did, to great acclaim and an Oscar victory, in director Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day, Denzel Washington plays a psychopath in Fuqua’s new action thriller The Equalizer. And the most interesting thing about the movie – in truth, the only interesting thing about this laughably earnest, resoundingly foolish endeavor – is that none of its on- or off-screen participants seems to realize it.


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Her and Her and Her and Her and Her and Her and … : "Her" and "August: Osage County"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2014-01-13 03:28:27

Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams in HerHER

Her, writer/director Spike Jonze’s tale of a man who falls in love with his computerized operating system, and “she” with him, casts a weirdly hypnotic spell. Although billed as comedy (as least by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association), you don’t really laugh much, and when you do, the laughter generally sticks in an odd, uncomfortable place in your throat; marveling at the unbridled sincerity of the thing, your chuckles are laced with a slight hint of mockery. Yet damned if Jonze, star Joaquin Phoenix, and the film’s superb supporting cast and designers don’t make this improbable project pay off in spades. Thoughtful, haunting, and perceptive, and at all times wickedly clever, Her is like a sci-fi Lost in Translation with a Scarlett Johansson you never get to see.


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Smaug Alert: "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" and "Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-12-16 04:34:43

Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugTHE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

The first great sequence in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – and, sadly, one of the few truly great sequences in Peter Jackson’s second (or fifth, if you’d rather) J.R.R. Tolkien installment – is an escape scene. At its start, hobbit protagonist Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his dwarf companions sneak out of the Elven dungeon cells in which they’ve been imprisoned, and hope for clean getaways by stashing themselves in empty wine barrels and floating down a nearby river. Sounds simple. And it might have been if it weren’t for the rapids, and the waterfalls, and the whizzing arrows, and the savage orcs, and Orlando Bloom gingerly bouncing atop our heroes’ heads.


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Song of Solomon: "12 Years a Slave" and "The Best Man Holiday"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-11-18 19:20:09

Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave12 YEARS A SLAVE

It’s impossible to imagine any viewer of director Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave not haunted for hours, if not days or weeks, by its potent, frequently horrific imagery. Be it the protracted sight of protagonist Solomon Northrup hanging from a tree, his wiggling toes barely touching the dirt, or the early shot of Northrup caged in a Washington, D.C., prison with the camera slowly tilting upward to implicate Capitol Hill in his (and all slaves’) ordeal, McQueen continually delivers wrenching visual representations to match this already-wrenching tale. Yet if pressed for the one image that I find lingering above all others in this magnificent, devastating film, it would simply be the face of Chiwetel Ejiofor, who, in one unbroken take near the finale, almost seems to encapsulate hundreds of years of injustice in one anguished stare.


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