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items tagged with science fiction movies

Hocus Bogus: "Now You See Me" and "After Earth"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-06-02 22:49:47

Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco in Now You See MeNOW YOU SEE ME

Given its premise, its cast, and the fact that it’s a summertime release without a superhero or a number (or both) in the title, it was easy to feel jazzed about the prospect of Now You See Me, director Louis Leterrier’s effects-driven caper about larcenous Las Vegas magicians scoring the heist of the century. Unfortunately, it took all of three minutes for that anticipatory excitement to turn, for me, into irritation, which then turned into active aggravation, which then turned into a disengaged torpor that lasted until the end credits rolled. Ta da.


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“Pines” Soul: "The Place Beyond the Pines" and "Oblivion"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-04-22 03:15:21

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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Gee, I Didn’t Hate "Joe": "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" and "The Host"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-04-01 16:52:15

Dwayne Johnson in G.I. Joe: RetaliationG.I. JOE: RETALIATION

If you handed a box of crayons to a group of eight-year-olds with action figures, they’d probably come up with a more entertaining storyline for G.I. Joe: Retaliation than the one we’re stuck with, which is your standard blockbuster nonsense about a megalomaniac’s plan for world dominion and the crack team of well-armed, quip-ready hotshots attempting to thwart him. In a welcome surprise, though, director Jon M. Chu’s follow-up to 2009’s G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra is, unlike its forebear, quite a bit of zippy, throwaway fun, a fast-moving and happily unpretentious diversion with jokes, and good ones, obviously written specifically for viewers well over the age of eight.


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A Map of the World: "Cloud Atlas," "Chasing Mavericks," and "Silent Hill: Revelation"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2012-10-29 12:50:52

Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in Cloud AtlasCLOUD ATLAS

I’ve seen plenty of movies in which a number of excellent passages can’t seem to blend into a satisfying whole. But prior to the release of Cloud Atlas, the film version of David Mitchell’s sprawling 2004 novel, I don’t think I’d ever seen a movie in which so many merely adequate sequences combine to form a whole that’s not only satisfying but downright exhilarating. Directed by Tom Tykwer and siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski and running just shy of three hours, this genre fantasia should be a mess, and it oftentimes is. It’s also, however, a hypnotic, glorious, grandly entertaining mess, one that’s probably far more enjoyable than a more presentationally faithful adaptation would’ve been.


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Time Warped: "Looper," "Pitch Perfect," "Won’t Back Down," and "House at the End of the Street"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2012-10-01 13:11:53

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis in LooperLOOPER

Rian Johnson’s Looper, a time-travel thriller set primarily in the year 2044, casts Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a contract killer whose life is upended with the arrival of his latest target: his older self, who has been transported from the year 2074 and is played by Bruce Willis. This means that, with Gordon-Levitt delivering rather uncanny likenesses of his co-star’s traditional scowls and smirks – and with the younger actor’s countenance bizarrely altered to resemble the elder actor’s familiar face – Willis essentially plays both leading roles ... which isn’t the most enticing of setups if, like me, you generally find one Bruce Willis more than enough.


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