Mucks up the Works
If Transcendence looks like a movie made by Christopher Nolan, it is because the movie is the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, who photographed every movie Nolan has made since Memento. The movie also features a sci-fi heavy premise that sounds a bit like Inception, only replacing dreams with artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, whereas Inception truly felt like it was something new and exciting, Transcendence pulls too many punches to truly be measured in the same category as Nolan’s film.
Superstar or Bust?
It used to be something only hardcore football fans enthusiastically followed, but now the NFL Draft is a primetime television event that gets high ratings every year. It has turned team general managers from behind-the-scenes businessmen into superstars. It seems appropriate, then, that Hollywood would swoop in and try to capitalize on the phenomenon. The result is Draft Day, a film that focuses on one such general manager as he tries to make a splash for his team on the fateful day of the title.
Another Muppet Caper
Everybody’s favorite puppets are back in a sequel to their successful 2011 comeback film. Never ones to be afraid of breaking the fourth wall, the movie opens with a musical number about them making a sequel. As Dr. Bunsen Honeydew points out in that number, this is not the first Muppets sequel. In fact, this could actually be considered the seventh sequel to the original The Muppet Movie that came out back in 1979.
Director Denis Villeneuve’s thriller Prisoners was one of the best movies of 2013. In 2014, he reunites with Jake Gyllenhaal for a new thriller called Enemy. Based on the novel The Double by Jose Saramago, Enemy has the same dark tone and intensity as Prisoner, but the plot is less straightforward and more enigmatic. The result is a film that is entertaining, but will have its audience scratching their head for hours afterwards.
The new comedy Bad Words certainly lives up to its name. If you go to this movie expecting a family-friendly movie about kids’ spelling bees, then you will be in for quite a shock. Hopefully, the fact that the poster is nothing but a close-up of star Jason Bateman’s mouth clearly forming the f-bomb will help more sensitive moviegoers steer clear. For those who aren’t turned off by offensive language and raunchy comedy, though, Bad Words is exactly what you hope it would be.
It seems that ever since Twilight did so well at the box-office when it was released in 2008 that movie studios are cranking out another young adult book adaptation every couple of months. With the exception of The Hunger Games, though, none of these other potential franchises have really taken off. Enter the latest contender, Divergent, based on the novel by Veronica Roth. With a rising young star in Shailene Woodley in the lead role of Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior, the hype for this movie has been growing.
Angels & Demons
Winter’s Tale is being released on Valentine’s Day, but although the story does revolve around a love story, the movie feels more like a film that would come out around Christmas time. After all, angels and miracles are Christmas movie staples and they play a major role in this time-traveling fantasy. The movie just presents us with a world in which angels and demons walk among us without ever feeling the need to explain itself. In that sense, the movie is somewhat refreshing.
Better Effects, Less Fun
The first thing fans might notice about the 2014 RoboCop reboot is that it seems to be missing something that was prevalent in the 1987 original: blood. Whereas the original film made no effort to hold back on the violence, the new film aims for a broader audience with a PG-13 rating. What it lacks in blood and violence it tries to make up for with a topical political agenda, addressing the ideas of drone use and automated law enforcement in our modern society with a look at a possible near future.
The Monuments Men was originally considered to be one of the leading Oscar contenders coming down the stretch in 2013, and why not? A war movie based on a fascinating untold true story starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and John Goodman: how could it not be a contender? Now the question is not whether it will be nominated for Oscars, but whether it will be able to find an audience at all.
A Dull Holiday Weekend
Director Jason Reitman’s first feature-length film Thank You for Smoking was released in 2005 and followed by Juno two years later. Each of these films was told in a hip, unique, and fresh way that boldly announced that a new talent had arrived. Up in the Air followed and although it was somewhat more traditional, it still had a certain level of freshness to it. Now, following 2011’s polarizing Young Adult, Reitman releases what is by far his most traditional film. Unfortunately, whereas his earlier films were fresh and exciting, Labor Day is just bland and dull.
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