Friday, June 26, 2015

Jurassic World

Back on the island of Isla Nublar, the dinosaur theme park is now fully functioning and still showcasing cloned dinosaurs. While the park's operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is off on the other side of the island preparing for the genetically-modified Indominus rex to be a future attraction, it ends up escaping and has no where else to run except in the direction of the tourists, including Claire's nephews (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins). One of the few films that are worth seeing in 3-D, but like most action flicks, it forgets that roller-coasters go both up and down. Chris Pratt makes for a very interesting and likable leading man, but Bryce Dallas Howard is just way too sexualized. Lots of throwbacks and is good enough for a fifth film to be welcomed, but please don't call it "Jurassic 5", let the hip hop group keep that one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Run All Night

Career criminal Neeson finds an opportunity to make amends with his estranged son Kinnaman… all he has to do is save his life a few dozen times in a single night from a mob of gun toting cronies led by crime boss Harris. D'Onofrio makes for a useful plot device, but Nolte's appearance (which was originally more than just one scene) comes too late in the movie to have any impact. Perhaps it would've been more interesting if it was straight-edge Kinnaman that died and Neeson out for revenge instead of the other way around—but as it turns out, director Collet-Serra and writer Ingelsby decided to go cookie-cutter with characters who had far more potential if they weren't used in such a cliché plot.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Get on Up

Biographical drama about the Godfather of Soul, told in a non-linear timeline of sorts, starting off with a drug-induced James Brown (played very well by Boseman, though the performance reeks of effort) toting around a gun because someone took a dump in his bathroom (an interesting choice of character development by director Taylor) and then jumps back to his sad childhood and then works its way up to his seemingly quick rise to fame. Bard (Ellis) seems to leave Brown's side for good several times, yet he always reappears without any explanation of amends. A hands down fascinating story of a fascinating man, delivered by a very talented cast and crew; but some inexplicable ways of conveying things surely hold this film back from its fullest potential.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Brothers Alexio and Van Damme travel to Thailand for a kickboxing tournament, but when a rule-breaking (and back-breaking) assault occurs in the ring during Alexio's match by mammoth thug Qissi, Van Damme sets out to avenge his brother by learning the art of Muay Thai from trainer Chan. By-the-book martial arts flick is a tolerable time-killer, but Anderson and Chan's characters risk so much for nothing—what is their motivation? Despite the beautiful cinematography by Kranhouse and excellent fighting choreography by Van Damme himself, there are just too many failed opportunities to make the story slightly better that its pros cannot compensate for the instances of avoidable laziness.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The 'Burbs

Hanks takes a stay-cation to relax and catch up on things around the house, but that idea is quickly put to bed when a couple goofy paranoid neighbor buddies (Dern and Ducommun) suspect that the disappearance of a fellow resident might be the doings of an eccentric family who moved into the creep old house next door. Nostalgic to say the least, be even for 1989, THE 'BURBS was certainly pushing the suspension-of-disbelief boundaries. Highly likely that Feldman was cast as Donatello in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES thanks to his role in this outing. The poodle also appears in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

All Good Things

Chronicles Gosling, son of wealthy New York real estate tycoon Langelia, who is linked to a series of murders. Great performances by all, but Dunst's brilliance brings a suiting yet odd romance to this crime-drama as the central character's wife. Loosely based on the life of accused murderer Robert Durst, but if you caught THE JINX (also by Andrew Jarecki), you'll know that the events are more authentic than most "based on"s. What makes the film so great is that it refuses to structure itself in a conventional manner and allows things to unravel in a very gradual, strange, and realistic manner. Its downfall is too much focus on the early life of Gosling's character, giving it a fatal uneven vibe.

Friday, June 5, 2015


Entertaining tale based on THE WETTEST COUNTY IN THE WORLD by Matt Bondurant about the author's grandfather Jack (LaBeouf) and his two older brothers (Clarke and Hardy) running their own moonshine operation during Prohibition and the allies and foes they make when the Chicago mob comes to town wanting a piece of the action. A pleasantly unique mixture of THE UNTOUCHABLES, TOMBSTONE, LEGENDS OF THE FALL and BOARDWALK EMPIRE, with an incredibly colorful villain played by Pearce. The battles are graphic, but the aftermaths are a bit too glorified. LaBeouf delivers okay but is ultimately wrong for the role what with being so outshined by Hardy that you're pretty indifferent to the main character's fate. Extra brownie points for an interesting rendition of "White Light/White Heat". Screenplay by Nick Cave… yes, of the Bad Seeds, who also makes a cameo.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rosemary's Baby

Instant horror classic concerning mother-to-be Farrow growing more and more suspicious that those closest to her are plotting some sort of sinister ritual involving the baby once it's born. Brilliantly shot with beautiful sets, smooth establishing shots, and several impressive single-shot scenes. Most of the acting is excellent for the era, with the few bumps getting disguised nicely; and an overall evenly paced conflict leading to a timeless climatic scene. Second installment in Polanski's trilogy of self-contained films about a protagonist's horrific experiences in an apartment setting. Tony Curtis is the voice on the phone and William Castle is the man near the phone booth.

The Boxer

Overall bland but nicely shot film centering around boxer and former Provisional IRA volunteer Day-Lewis's release from prison after serving 14 years for "taking the rap" and attempting to go straight in his old Belfast neighborhood. Watson and Scott work fine in their supporting roles, but Cox and McSorley's talents are wasted by rushed character development. Despite Day-Lewis' three years of boxing preparation mixed with the unusual outcome of a real-life bout, not a single gripping boxing match is delivered throughout the entire film—with fires and brawls going on outside of the ring (plus the intense climatic sequence which seems out-of-place in this otherwise incredibly dull flick) it's really hard to take an interest in the sport of boxing.