Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
Zade Rosenthal/Paramount Pictures
With “Star Trek Into Darkness,” director J. J. Abrams and his cast and crew have crafted a follow-up film that feels like the second part of a two-part story. This new movie is not simply another voyage with the recast crew of the starship Enterprise; it also addresses and resolves some of the nagging concerns and problems some people may have had with the first “Star Trek” reboot film in 2009. The previous film, while funny and thrilling, was far from perfect, with the script feeling like a list of ideas cut and pasted together. A similar compilation approach has been taken with this sequel; but overall it feels far more cohesive than the previous entry, and it develops the main characters in important ways.
Continue reading "A Very Personal Enterprise" »
“Safe,” the new film starring Jason Statham, refers to the hero’s protection of a child and to the whereabouts of a huge amount of money. But it could also describe the safe pair of hands that a movie starring Mr. Statham provides, with viewers secure in the knowledge that the film will meet their expectations, featuring a skilled and dependable protagonist who will punch, kick, shoot, stab, jump and/or drive his way through various predicaments and defeat the bad guys. While the outcome of “Safe” is never in doubt, the film puts a fresh spin on this action-hero film formula.
Continue reading "In the Good Hands of the Professional" »
John Carter (2012)
Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’s story “A Princess of Mars” and directed by Andrew Stanton, who helmed “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E” for Disney/Pixar, the new Disney film “John Carter” tells the story of the titular character (played by Taylor Kitsch), an American Civil War soldier who is mysteriously transported from Earth to Mars (called Barsoom by the planet’s inhabitants). He soon encounters an alien race called the Thark, led by Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), and finds himself caught up in a conflict between the violent hordes of Zodanga and the peaceful people of Helium. At first Carter just wants to return to Earth; but after meeting Helium Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), he is slowly drawn further into the fight to save the planet.
Continue reading "Save the Red Planet" »
Project X (2012)
Beth Dubber/Warner Brothers Pictures
The new teen comedy “Project X” is definitely not to be confused with the 1980s Matthew Broderick thriller of the same name. This “Project X” can be more aptly described as project mayhem, the “Fight Club”-style manifesto that wreaks havoc on property supposedly in the name of fun but which quickly turns serious. What begins as an epic but manageable 17th birthday party for high-school student Thomas (Thomas Mann) — organized by his friend Costa (Oliver Cooper) with another friend named JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) in tow — quickly turns into a riotous night of partying, with sex, drugs and chaos in plentiful supply. The day is presented as a found-footage film shot by the mysterious cameraman Dax (Dax Flame), but as the party progresses and turmoil takes over, shots are taken from other cameras, including phones and TV crews, which chronicle the disintegration of the festivities, the destruction of the house and the devastation of the neighborhood.
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Steven Spielberg is back! After the disappointing “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (which, while containing fragments of Spielbergian magic, often felt flat and labored), “The Adventures of Tintin” sees the master director back on form. Mr. Spielberg’s new collaboration with fellow fantasy filmmaker Peter Jackson is more fruitful than the last one with his old friend George Lucas. Mr. Spielberg seemed to have participated in “Crystal Skull” out of sense of (understandable) loyalty to his old filmmaking friend, with the director appearing to go through the through the motions rather than being inspired to create a new Indy movie for the 21st century. The motion-capture in this new film seems to have liberated Mr. Spielberg though, freeing him up to try new things while recapturing his old magic.
Continue reading "Around the World in Motion Capture" »