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items tagged with Matt Damon

Ridley’s Believe It or Not: "The Martian" and "Sicario"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-10-03 22:01:02

Matt Damon in The MartianTHE MARTIAN

If you, too, are a devotee of Ridley Scott’s Alien, you’ll no doubt remember how its title came into view during the opening credits: as a series of vertical, diagonal, and horizontal white lines that slowly appeared, beginning with the “I,” one or two at a time until the capitalized “ALIEN” was wholly spelled out. Thirty-six years later, the title for Scott’s sci-fi tale The Martian is revealed in the exact opposite manner: as a full, capitalized “THE MARTIAN” that gradually fades away, one portion at a time, until only the “I” remains.

Obviously, that disappearing act is a decidedly minor touch, especially in a film that runs just shy of two-and-a-half hours. But it might also be Scott’s most quietly clever touch, and not merely because The Martian’s chief narrative concerns an “I” that winds up left all alone. By offering a literal reverse of his 1979 achievement’s opener, Scott seems to be suggesting, with an wink, that his new endeavor will be 180 degrees removed from the claustrophobic, stomach-bursting horror of Alien, and that proves decidedly to be the case. While this adaptation of Andy Weir’s bestseller (with its script by Drew Goddard) does share some of Alien’s themes, principally the life-and-death imperatives behind deep-space problem-solving, Scott’s latest is expansive instead of spare, chatty instead of terse, heartening instead of nihilistic. It’s also, far and away, and from beginning to end, the most sheerly likable movie Ridley Scott has yet made – an exciting, moving, and altogether glorious sci-fi bear hug that leaves you feeling almost ridiculously happy. Given a career that’s found him exploring every conceivable shade of dark, it turns out that Scott looks pretty great in the light.
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Four-of-July Weekday – Notes on a Quadruple Feature: "Deliver Us from Evil," "Tammy," "America," and "Earth to Echo"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2014-07-03 16:12:41

Eric Bana in Deliver Us from EvilJuly 2, 10:40 a.m.-ish: My screenings begin with the demonic-possession thriller Deliver Us from Evil, and I notice, during the “found footage” prelude, that the action begins on the Fourth of July. So, clearly, the film is being released at the right time. Ninety minutes later, I notice, during the climactic exorcism, that the action ends on 4/20. So, clearly, the filmmakers were high.


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Plastics: "The Lego Movie," "The Monuments Men," and "Vampire Academy"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2014-02-11 14:28:21

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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Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turnin’: "Elysium"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-08-11 19:45:55

Matt Damon in ElysiumELYSIUM

In Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium, the sophomore sci-fi effort from the writer/director of District 9, the Earth of 2154 is a poverty-infested hell-hole that the richest of humans have evacuated for the gleaming, rotating space habitat of the film’s title. An orbiting gated community of luxury, privilege, and (from what we can tell) almost universally white people, it’s the utopia that our hero, Matt Damon’s steelworker Max, longs to escape to, particularly after a fatal dose of radiation limits his time left on Earth to five days. (Medical advances on Elysium have eradicated disease completely; after one cycle through a futuristic CAT-scan machine, even cancer cells are killed.) The unaddressed joke of Blomkamp’s film, however, is that Elysium – with its sterile mansions and perfectly mowed lawns and vacuous non-entities sipping champagne from crystal flutes – looks like a dismally dull place to be compared to the lively, recognizably human Earth, even in its decimated state. What’s less of a joke is that Elysium itself, once we land on the titular site in its last half hour, is also dismally dull – or at least, dishearteningly formulaic – compared to the Earth-set goings-on of the film’s first 70 minutes.


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Vacation Daze: "The Impossible," "Promised Land," and "Texas Chainsaw"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-01-09 19:25:48

Naomi Watts and Tom Holland in The ImpossibleTHE IMPOSSIBLE

Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible, based on one family’s experiences in the wake of 2004’s horrific Asia tsunami, is a supremely well-designed, emotionally draining disaster tale, and its opening minutes filled me with great dread. If only that dread were caused by the approaching tsunami.


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