Every Single Article Written by Russell - All 140
Fifteen years after the classic Men in Black and ten years after the outright terrible Men in Black 2 comes the next entry in the series, a sequel that no one except Will Smith seemed to particularly want. Regardless, here it is with a shiny new coat of prosthetics and updated CGI. And you know what? Not only did Men in Black 3 turn out to be a good movie, it’s even better the original. Who would’ve thought?
NASA fires some radio messages out into space. Some aliens attack Earth. We really don’t know what they want, but what the fuck does it matter? The writers didn’t care; the director didn’t care; the core audience for this movie won’t care. Why? Because…explosions. Explosions and Brooklyn Decker’s tits. Battleship represents everything that is wrong with Hollywood: It’s loud, it’s dumb, it’s obnoxious, and it’s expensive. It’s a Michael Bay movie without Michael Bay’s name in the credits.
In 1940, not long before America’s entry into World War II, Charlie Chaplin released The Great Dictator—a film about a Jewish barber who swaps places with a stand-in for Adolf Hitler and brings democracy to his country. In 2012 Sacha Baron Cohen has produced The Dictator—a film about a Middle Eastern dictator in the vein of Hussein and Gaddafi who swaps places with a peasant and struggles valiantly to prevent his countrymen from being subjected to horrible, horrible democracy. Chaplin produced a fantastic film. Baron Cohen’s movie? Well, even the title doesn’t attempt to compete with the greatness of that earlier film.
Tim Burton’s remake of Dark Shadows serves as a cautionary tale of what happens when you take of a collection of brilliant, talented people and allow them to make a multi-million dollar movie in a state of complete complacency. This movie sports a fantastic cast including Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earl Haley, Chloe Moretz, and Eva Green among others; it benefits from slick production values; and it is based on an intriguing high concept. All of these great elements, however, never coalesce into anything more than a tedious theatrical experience.
I suppose the most surprising thing about Darren Lynn Bousman’s Mother’s Day isn’t that it is a horror movie about Mother’s Day—nearly every other holiday has already gotten the horror treatment by now—but that it’s also a remake. This movie is the perfect gift for the man who hates his mom. Mother’s Day is a nasty piece of torture porn that will leave you actively hating the human race, which is not at all surprising since this flick comes from the guy who directed Saw II, III, and IV.
The Five-Year Engagement isn’t a bad movie. It isn’t even a mediocre movie. It features an awesome cast, a talented director of comedy, and a solid screenplay; it also benefits from bearing Judd Apatow’s brand. And yet, it lacks something I can’t quite put my finger on—a bit more irreverence, a little more raunch, some additional poignancy. There’s just something keeping this from being a legitimately good movie.
Now here’s an oddity: A movie that works in spite of a completely stupid screenplay. Jason Statham rampages across New York City killing triad gangsters, Russian mobsters, and corrupt cops in Boaz Yakin’s Safe. This flick is chock full of good old fashioned ‘80s style action with minimal CGI and an emphasis on stunt work and Statham’s innate charisma.
Just as I was ready to write off watching any low budget horror fare in the near future (thanks to seeing the dreadful 7 Below), along comes director/writer/editor Ti West with The Innkeepers. This delightful little flick isn’t revolutionary, but it’s charming, well crafted, and occasionally chilling. It lacks a sustained sense of dread often essential to a great horror film, but I allowed the movie to weave its spell over me, and I ended up liking it quite a bit.
The mafia needed to launder some money. That’s the only explanation I can think of for the existence of 7 Below, this week’s straight-to-DVD turd starring Val Kilmer and Ving Rhames. You’d think a movie starring Val Kilmer and Ving Rhames couldn’t be all bad. You’d be wrong. I sure was. I desperately want to say something semi-witty or insightful about this movie, but I can’t. Fuck this movie. Just…fuck it.
Let me qualify this review right off the bat: Shame is not for everyone. It’s the kind of film that some people (such as myself) will quietly admire, but probably won’t admit to liking in a casual setting. Talking about this movie won’t make for a good icebreaker at any parties. This falls into the same camp as Requiem for a Dream Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant: It’s an extremely well made film with sharp direction and brilliant acting, but it leaves you wanting to scrub your brain afterwards. On those terms Shame is brilliant because it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do.