The Legend of Hercules: Lutz Call the Whole Thing Off

by Aly Semigran January 10, 2014 12:07 pm
<i>The Legend of Hercules</i>: Lutz Call the Whole Thing Off

For a movie with seemingly modern-day CGI (albeit, terrible CGI) and a bloated estimated budget of $70 million (this is a Renny Harlin movie, after all), it's a wonder to behold how dated and cheap-looking The Legend of Hercules is. And, really, that is the only thing that will amaze you about this mindless, corny action caper that looks, sounds and feels exactly like a made-for-Syfy TV movie.

Her: Ghost in the Machine

by Ethan Alter December 18, 2013 9:31 am
<i>Her</i>: Ghost in the Machine

At first blush, the "Her" in Spike Jonze's exquisitely crafted sci-fi romance Her would seem to refer to Scarlett Johansson's Samantha, the incorporeal operating system who enters the life of lonely letter writer, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), and becomes his best friend and, eventually, lover. But when you step back and consider it for a moment, the title seems to refer not to the presence, but rather the absence of a "her." After all, when we meet Theodore, he's on the verge of becoming a divorcée, many months removed from a failed marriage to Catherine (Rooney Mara), the woman he previously assumed he'd be with forever. Though he's been encouraged to get back on the dating scene by good pals like his neighbor Amy (Amy Adams), he seems content in his self-imposed isolation. Except he's not really; as he shuffles through his small universe, which consists primarily of his warmly-lit office and his bachelor pad in a sky-high skyrise, a palpable sense of melancholy trails his every step. There's a hole in his world that he's been thus far unable to fill with another human being. So naturally, it will take a voice in his ear to do it.

Four Thoughts About Her From Spike Jonze

by Ethan Alter December 17, 2013 12:00 pm
Four Thoughts About <i>Her</i> From Spike Jonze

Spike Jonze isn't much for public speaking. Though he's written and directed one of the year's most acclaimed films, Her, the 44-year-old filmmaker has only done a modest amount of press supporting it, granting a handful of interviews to very specific outlets and avoiding the red carpet at major awards season events. But Jonze did put in an appearance at Her's world premiere at the New York Film Festival in October, where he and the film's cast (including Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde… though incorporeal co-star Scarlett Johansson was sadly not in attendance) took questions from journalists in a short post-screening press conference. Truth be told, getting straight answers out of Jonze proved to be a challenge, especially with Phoenix being his famously odd self. But here are four complete thoughts the filmmaker had about Her, which opens on December 18. Make sure to move it to the top of your holiday viewing list.

The Internship: Google Crashers

by Rachel Stein June 7, 2013 6:01 am
<i>The Internship</i>: Google Crashers

The Internship is quite literally a two-hour commercial for Google. It's ridiculously racist and sexist, and every character who's not played by Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson is at best an archetype. The plot developments and beats are almost directly ripped from Wedding Crashers. The film has enormous plot holes, essentially no stakes and a resolution that barely solves anything; to say it makes any sense at all is an overstatement. And yet, thanks to its stars, it is also ridiculously charming, and very, very funny.

I Want My VOD: Somebody Up There Likes Me

by Ethan Alter March 19, 2013 3:52 pm
I Want My VOD: <i>Somebody Up There Likes Me</i>

Nick Offerman gets quirky in the decade-spanning indie comedy Somebody Up There Likes Me, new on VOD this month. Also, Girls fans can get their Ray fix with two new movies from Alex Karpovsky.

Jack Reacher: Your Burning Questions Answered

by Ethan Alter December 21, 2012 6:01 am
<i>Jack Reacher</i>: Your Burning Questions Answered

Probably the biggest question facing the new Tom Cruise action movie Jack Reacher is why Paramount decided to release it smack-dab in the middle of the busiest holiday movie season in recent memory, where it's likely to be buried underneath the avalanche caused by the quintuple threat of Les Misérables, Django Unchained, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Monsters Inc. 3D and that Twilight movie that refuses to die. Sure, the fourth Mission: Impossible installment performed above expectations when it was released last year around this time, but that was an established franchise for Cruise and further benefitted from being a light-hearted, spectacle-driven blockbuster romp. Jack Reacher represents something a little different and darker for the star, whose name above the title is no longer enough to guarantee either massive success or a quality movie. (Laugh if you must, but back in his '80s heyday, Cruise rarely bet on the wrong horse. And don't try throwing Cocktail at me. That movie is and always will be awesome.) So I don't have a good answer for why the studio decided to make this their holiday tentpole release. I can, however, respond to some of the other burning questions you probably have about Jack Reacher.

Christopher McQuarrie Expands His Reach with Jack Reacher

by Ethan Alter December 18, 2012 6:30 am
Christopher McQuarrie Expands His Reach with <i>Jack Reacher</i>

A superstar in the world of crime fiction, the new action film Jack Reacher introduces moviegoers to the titular soldier-turned-nomadic-investigator, who stars in a best-selling series of crime novels by British author Lee Child. Written and directed by The Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie, Reacher stars Tom Cruise as Child's creation and dispatches him to Pittsburgh, where he helps an in-over-her-head lawyer (Rosamund Pike) attempt to save a man from Death Row -- a case that pits him against morally ambiguous cops (David Oyelowo) and shadowy villains (Werner Herzog). In addition to trying on the outfit of an anti-hero, Jack Reacher also affords Cruise the chance to show off his behind-the-wheel skills, as he did all his own driving for the big car chase that comes midway through the movie. McQuarrie touched on that scene -- as well as the hotly contested decision to cast Cruise as Reacher -- during a recent press visit to New York, where he was accompanied by Child, Pike and Oyelowo.

<I>Here Comes the Boom:</I> Seven Kevin James Movies for the Price Of One (Not the Bargain It May Sound Like)

This new Kevin James movie isn't as terrible as, say, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, since it has a heart and some actually funny moments, but Here Comes the Boom was highly confused about what it wants to be. There are like seven different movies overlapping here, to different ends, so throughout you aren't sure if you are supposed to want to see James get beaten down for comic effect, or win to be a hero. Let's break them down:

Shining Through: Rodney Ascher Checks Us In To Room 237

by Ethan Alter October 9, 2012 6:15 am
<i>Shining</i> Through: Rodney Ascher Checks Us In To <i>Room 237</i>

After we first saw Rodney Ascher's documentary Room 237 during its world premiere at Sundance back in January, two thoughts ran through our heads: 1) This movie is terrific; and 2) There's no way anyone else will be able to see it, right? A thoughtful, innovative and hugely entertaining dissertation about Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, narrated by a quintet of individuals with very particular (and peculiar) theories about this horror classic, Room 237 is made up entirely of clips from the original movie, which posed a variety of potential copyright and licensing issues. Fortunately, since its Sundance debut, Ascher has toured the world with his film, showing it a variety of prestigious festivals (including Cannes and Toronto) and even scored a distribution deal with IFC Films, which will release it in theaters in March of next year. Before then, Room 237 can still be seen at a few festivals, including the New York Film Festival this week and Chicago's film festival the week after. While in town for the movie's NYFF premiere, Ascher spoke with us about his own love for The Shining, why he considers himself a walking, talking Rotten Tomatoes and what Stephen King might make of Room 237.

Indie Snapshot: <i>The Paperboy</i>, <i>Butter</i>, <i>The Oranges</i>, <I>Wuthering Heights</i>

Nicole Kidman gets an extreme makeover in the ridiculous potboiler The Paperboy. Also, our takes on Butter, The Oranges and Wuthering Heights.

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