I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 11, 2012

by Ethan Alter December 11, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Seth MacFarlane directs My Dinner With Ted.

The Bourne Legacy: Standing in the Shadows of Damon

by Ethan Alter August 10, 2012 6:01 am
<i>The Bourne Legacy</i>: Standing in the Shadows of Damon

The Bourne Legacy belongs to that class of franchise installments that's a combination of a sequel and a reboot. Other examples of this peculiar subgenre -- which is still in need of a name, by the way; requels, maybe? Seqboots? Let's get our top linguists on it -- include those post-Peter Sellers Pink Panther comedies, the Van Damme free Kickboxer movies and the immortal The Rage: Carrie 2. Although all these films are technically sequels in that they take place in the same world and chronologically occur after the events of their predecessors, the fact that they follow all-new characters and storylines provides the sense that they're starting the series over from scratch. It's an awkward, tricky act to pull off and none of these movies have done it successfully... including, I'm sorry to say, The Bourne Legacy.

Battle of the Blockbusters: <i>Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol</i> and <i>Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows</i>

After the year-end glut of prestige pictures and awards bait, it's kind of a relief to settle in for a pair of high-concept blockbusters that have no greater ambition beyond blowing stuff up real good. That's the mission statement behind Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol, the second and fourth installments in their respective franchises. The former reunites director Guy Ritchie with Robert Downey Jr. as a strapping, ass-kicking Sherlock and Jude Law as his right hand man/pseudo boyfriend Dr. Watson. The latter matches Pixar wizard Brad Bird (making his live-action directorial debut) with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Ethan Hunt, the Impossible Missions Force's premiere covert agent. Both films emphasize spectacle over story (Ghost Protocol even more so, since several sequences were filmed using IMAX cameras), action over acting and explosions over erudition. But only one of them actually makes good on its promise of escapist entertainment.

American Hustle: Do the Hustle

by Ethan Alter December 13, 2013 9:31 am
<i>American Hustle</i>: Do the Hustle

Ever since his sophomore feature Flirting with Disaster, I've been rooting for David O. Russell to score a big, fat commercial hit. (I also enjoyed his debut, Spanking the Monkey, but a dark comedy about incest is never going to be Top 10 box office material.) But when the writer/director finally achieved that goal with last year's Silver Linings Playbook, I found myself in the odd position of feeling happy for him while also being disappointed that it wasn't for a better movie. (Granted, The Fighter earned a fistful of dollars as well, but it didn't join the same financial weight class as its successor.)

The Avengers: The Gang’s All Here

by Ethan Alter May 4, 2012 12:01 am
<i>The Avengers</i>: The Gang’s All Here

It's not hard to understand why people are so excited for The Avengers. For starters, its release signals the start of the annual summer blockbuster season, when audiences can look forward to four solid months of effects-heavy escapist entertainment. Secondly, for the millions of moviegoers who have followed the individual Marvel heroes through their own big-screen adventures (not to mention their own comic-book titles), the thought of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk sharing the same frame and battling the same common enemy (as well as each other) is pretty remarkable. And lastly, there's the fact that the Avengers are assembling under the watchful eye of writer/director Joss Whedon, at last making his leap from cult artist to mainstream moviemaker. While Whedon's name might not mean anything to a good 50-60 percent of the audience that'll show up opening weekend, there will be a significant segment of moviegoers more thrilled about seeing his name in the credits than any of the actors'. With all these various elements coming together, who can blame those viewers who are heading into the theater expecting to see the comic book movie to end all comic book movies?

Five Thoughts About The Avengers Trailer

by Ethan Alter October 11, 2011 12:19 pm
Five Thoughts About <i>The Avengers</i> Trailer

They're heeeeere! Joss Whedon's all-star adventure The Avengers is still seven months away from hitting theaters, but Disney is wasting little time getting footage out there to the superhero-starved masses. After a new batch of photos hit the interwebs last week, here comes the movie's first official trailer, which offers a far more substantial peek at the movie's scale and set-pieces than that short teaser at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger did. Here's our instant reaction to a trailer we're sure we'll be watching over and over again in the run-up to the movie's May 4, 2012 release.

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