Every Single Article Written by Russell - All 140
Snitch could have been a great film if the filmmakers behind it had either a) turned it into a straight-up action movie or b) tried to create a present day companion piece to other gritty crime movies like Donnie Brasco or State of Grace. Instead, writer/director Ric Roman Waugh attempts to steer a middle course, and the result is a middling film. Because Snitch can’t decide whether it wants to be drama or an action flick, it doesn’t work as either.
Great horror movies tend to be about more than monsters and demons. Invasion of the Body Snatchers tackled American paranoia in the wake of the Red Scare. The original Nightmare on Elm Street was one of the earliest movies to acknowledge the then growing trend of divorce. The Shining, depending on whom you ask, is about alcoholism, writer’s block, white man’s burden or some combination of the three. Many of the great horror movies contain rich subtext. Scott Stewart’s Dark Skies may not be a great horror movie, but it’s a surprisingly competent film that’s almost as ambitious as any of the movies I just listed. Why do I say that? Because in writing and directing Dark Skies, Scott Stewart didn’t just set out to make a disposable alien abduction movie, he set out to chronicle the death of the American dream.
Every documentary needs to have a reason for existing. A documentary should shine a light on a prescient issue, offer a solution to an existing problem, or at the very least, tell a compelling story. Bully doesn’t really do any of these things. At best it’s a well-intentioned picture that anecdotally looks at the issue of school bullying and then offers up an anemic solution.
When hack director John Moore was announced to direct A Good Day to Die Hard I knew things would play out one of two ways: either Moore would rise to the challenge of directing an entry in one of the greatest film franchises of all time or Moore would drag the series down into whatever sewer he crawled out of. Well, the results came in earlier this week; critics have unanimously trashed the movie. And I can confirm that while the movie isn’t as bad as its rating on Rotten Tomatoes might indicate, it’s still represents the series’ nadir.
I’ve spent the past day trying against all odds to muster the energy to write a review for Identity Thief. And even now, I still can’t find any reason to give two shits about the movie. It’s not good enough to praise, and it’s not awful enough to inspire any sort of rage. It’s just…there. It’s not the kind of movie you actually pay to see. It’s the kind of movie that you watch on Comedy Central five years later when you’re hung over on an early Sunday morning and there’s literally nothing else on television.
Having just seen Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects, I feel the need to issue a retraction. The ten or so people who regularly read my column might recall that, in my review for Zero Dark Thirty, I pessimistically claimed that we likely wouldn’t see any good dramas land in theaters until at least March. Well, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Side Effects, which premieres all over the country this weekend, is one of the best murder mysteries I’ve seen in a good long while.
Bullet to the Head left me surprised at its aggressive mediocrity. I should have known better. It’s not like Sylvester Stallone has one of the best track records in the history the Hollywood. And yet, I can’t conceal my disappointment with this flick. And the reason for the disappointment is this: Bullet to the Head united Sylvester Stallone with director Walter Hill. If Walter Hill’s name doesn’t ring any bells with you, know this: he’s one of the filmmakers who, along with the James Cameron and John McTiernan, helped shape the modern action movie. Responsible for producing the Alien franchise and for directing The Warriors, 48 Hrs, and Last Man Standing, Walter Hill is one of the largely unsung heroes of the action genre. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know that from watching Bullet to the Head.
A guy walks into a pharmacy and sees a girl. It’s love at first sight. So he eats the eats the girl’s boyfriend, kidnaps her, takes her home, and forces her to listen to his vinyl collection until she falls in love with him. That’s the plot of Warm Bodies in a nutshell, and you know what? It’s still a more psychologically sound basis for romantic relationship than anything that was depicted in the Twilight franchise.
Hollywood is really nothing more than a giant game of incestuous grab ass. Every time an exec at one of the major studios has a moderately interesting brain fart, it leaks out and the rest of the industry scrambles to catch up. I think no trend illustrates that point better than the recent spate of fairy tale based movies Hollywood has begun churning out in the wake of Warner Bros’ take on Little Red Riding Hood and Universal’s darker take on Snow White. Before this trend exhausts itself, I’m sure we’ll see gritty reboots of Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Pinocchio. This weekend, however, we get Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, writer/director Tommy Wirkola’s attempt to splice The Brothers Grimm with Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness.
Does anyone in Hollywood have a better job than Jason Statham? Sure, there are superior actors out there. Sure, there are more bankable stars out there. But no one gets to play bad asses as consistently as Statham does. He’s one of the last real action stars left in Hollywood. His movies are visceral, brutal, and charmingly stupid. Statham’s great, his movies are great. Parker, Statham’s latest movie, also looked great, but then Jennifer Lopez had to come in and ruin it.