Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Expectations are naturally low when you enter the sixth part of a franchise, unless you’re a J. K. Rowling fan and you’re watching "Harry Potter," and with "Fast Five" being such a lackluster affair, the expectations here are rock bottom.
To attempt to offer an outline of the plot would not only be pointless, but in a way would do the film a disservice. There is a story of sorts, involving some military bad guys and a MacGuffin (in the form of a world-ending microchip) but it’s so thin and clearly only there to allow the ridiculous action to happen, that it’s barely worth mentioning. All the gang are back — including one that was supposedly dead — and they’re all needed for one last job . . . again.
Continue reading "Driving, a Hard Bargain" »
Iron Man 3 (2013)
At some point in any hero's journey, the past will come back to haunt him or her, and so it is with Tony Stark a k a Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). His past mistake is Aldrich Killian, a slithering Guy Pearce as an ambitious genetic engineer who wants to form a partnership with Stark. Of course Tony Stark snubs him, and the seeds are planted for revenge years later.
Into the picture steps a global uber-terrorist known only as the Mandarin, played with delicious delight by Sir Ben Kingsley, who is clearly enjoying himself in the role. Stark's world is quite literally torn apart, and he begins his road to redemption and his own revenge.
Continue reading "Overruled With an Iron Fist" »
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
James Fisher/Warner Brothers Pictures
No one will ever know what visual delights auteur and cinematic genius Guillermo del Toro would have conjured up for Middle Earth; but in the hands of Peter Jackson and his team, everything seems comfortable and familiar, or is it?
This is definitely Middle Earth, but a more innocent and happy place than seen in “The Lord of the Rings.” Four hundred years of peace have made the colors brighter, the world is greener, the skies bluer. Even Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving) is more jovial than ever before. This is a different world. Sauron (Benedict Cumberbatch as Necromancer, replacing Sala Baker) is still in his deepest slumber; and although evil is stirring, a shadow moves to the East, no-one has anything to fear. This is not “The Lord of the Rings.”
Continue reading "A Familiar Ring" »
Weta Digital/Paramount Pictures
Watching “The Adventures of Tintin” reminds you that modern entertainment is increasingly driven by each move forward in technology. Images of Steven Spielberg directing scenes from his latest all-action adventure with what appears to be an oversize PlayStation controller only go to emphasize the point.
The shark may have almost driven him mad, but Mr. Spielberg’s career is littered with each leap forward in cinematic wizardry. Not to accuse such a visionary of standing on the shoulders of giants, but where would “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” be without the work of John Dykstra on “Star Wars” and “Battlestar Galactica”? Where would “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” have been without animatronics? What would “Jurassic Park” have looked like without the generational leaps in C.G.I.? And “Tintin” — well, if that doesn't owe a massive debt of thanks to Robert Zemeckis and James Cameron, then I don't know what does.
Continue reading "Boys and Their Toys" »
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
Some movies generate high expectations — often through overblown marketing, sometimes by virtue of the elements that have come together to create the two hours of entertainment you have coughed up your hard-earned dollars to see. "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" has ingredients that would leave even the most jaded of cinemagoers salivating: a director (Tomas Alfredson) who has already proved himself the master of understatement and the purveyor of claustrophobia-inducing tension with "Let the Right One In"; a glittering cast of British talent — Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch et al — gathered in such numbers that you would be forgiven for thinking you were at an awards ceremony already; source material of almost legendary status written by one of the greatest thriller authors of our times.
Continue reading "Secret Lip Service" »