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items tagged with Thrillers

Now Is the Midwinter of Our Mild Discontent – Notes on a Quadruple Feature: "Devil's Due," "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," "Ride Along," and "The Nut Job"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2014-01-19 00:08:27

Allison Miller in Devil's DueJanuary 17, 10:05 a.m.-ish: If it’s January, it must be time for our annual demonic-possession thriller in the guise of a “documentary,” and yet it still seems strange to be watching Devil’s Due. The devil may be, but a mere two weeks after the release of the latest Paranormal Activity, were we audiences really due for another of these things?


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Disney on Ice: "Frozen," "Black Nativity," and "Homefront"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-12-02 15:57:22

FrozenFROZEN

As its fans (and I’m one of them) will gladly attest, Disney’s Frozen is a bit of a throwback to the studio’s recent golden age of animated entertainments – that period from the late ’80s to the mid-’90s that found more-or-less traditional fairy and folk tales goosed with healthy portions of Broadway razzmatazz. (Those in the press championing this new work as a welcome and rather bold return to form, however, do seem to have conveniently forgotten about 2009’s excellent The Princess & the Frog and 2010’s near-excellent Tangled.) But while much of the film follows the standard Disney-in-its-prime formula to the letter – big-eyed ingénue heroine, check; wacky animal sidekick, check; rafter-shaking power ballad destined to win an Oscar, check – there is one aspect to Frozen that separates it from the Little Mermaid/Beauty & the Beast/Lion King herd: The movie is kind of bonkers.


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Over the Hill, Under the Gun: "Bad Grandpa" and "The Counselor"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-10-27 17:24:54

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.


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Period Piece: "Carrie," "The Fifth Estate," and "Escape Plan"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-10-20 22:31:31

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.


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Rogue, Rogue, Rogue … . Your Boat! "Captain Phillips," "Machete Kills," and "Grace Unplugged"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-10-14 02:05:08

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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