View Post

Movie Review – Now You See Me

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris Giroux1 Comment

Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, After Earth – the summer blockbusters are here. Now You See Me appears from thin air to claim its stake. But this magician/illusionist heist film falls flat, ironically, because of too many “magic tricks” and a lack of originality. The cast consists of the illusionist Atlas (Jessie Eisenberg), the mentalist Merritt (Woody Harrelson), the escapist Henley (Isla Fisher), and pick-pocket Jack (Dave Franco); together they form The Four Horsemen. Through illusion and distraction, the Horsemen rob a French bank while safely entertaining a sold out Las Vegas venue. The magic show’s attending audience enjoys a nice fortune, inevitably catching the attention of law enforcement agencies world-wide. The misdirection continues as director, Louis Leterrier, scams the viewer with annoying camera cuts and an often distracting soundtrack. The experience is overwhelming.

View Post

Movie Review – Star Trek Into Darkness

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris Giroux10 Comments

Into Darkness is a relentless film full of spectacular action sequences, first class special effects and classic Trek callbacks. The first and final fifteen minutes alone are worth a ticket aboard ship. Abrams and his writing team, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, are creating something special at the helm of Star Trek, while not completely rewriting history. This encounter is an erratic and visceral thrill ride from start to conclusion, and damn is it fun. The concluding act is nothing short of a cinematic breakthrough in special effects that firmly sets the bar high for the summer blockbuster releases that follow. Star Trek Into Darkness sets its phasers to stun audiences May 16.

View Post

Movie Review – Iron Man 3

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris Giroux1 Comment

Marvel round 2 kicked off Friday with the release of the third Tony Stark adventure, Iron Man 3. Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout) assumes directing and writing duties to place emphasis on the man, not the machine. Iron Man 3 is more a voyage of self discovery than a full-blown superhero film. The Marvel formula is present, but more emphasis has been placed on the leading man. I found myself missing Downey Jr. aboard his high-tech armor, and worse, Tony Stark’s inability to pilot a suit seemed to negate the “heroes voyage” these films rely on so often. Turns out, Black’s approach to the genre is that of irony – where Tony required a machine (in Iron Man 1) to survive shrapnel nearing his heart or to escape captivity, in this chapter, the machine clearly needs the man.

View Post

Movie Review – Pain & Gain

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris Giroux3 Comments

Pain & Gain is Michael Bay’s farce of real-life gruesome crimes committed by a clumsy trio of body building thugs: the Sun Gym Gang. The product is a darkly comedic antihero campaign, and is arguably, some of Bay’s most entertaining work. These misadventures are so well executed on film, it is easy to forget (or not know) that these are true events that had grave consequences. The Sun Gym kidnappings were often botched, their victims were tortured, murdered, and yes, they returned weapons to the Home Depot. These are evil men who committed sadistic acts, and as their antics became more bizarre and hilarious than the last, in sneaks a reality check, “this is still a true story.”

View Post

Movie Review – G.I. Joe: Retaliation

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris Giroux3 Comments

Retaliation sets out to redeem itself from the soulless dreck that befell the Joes in Rise of Cobra. Rise of Cobra was an overproduced, incoherent chapter – better left for dead. But Paramount forwarded the storyline, scrapped the original cast, and added some 3D this time out. Director Jon M. Chu’s resulting film is marginally better due in part to post-production success and far less cheese. Retaliation, however, doesn’t shed enough of its predecessor’s mistakes to reinvigorate the franchise. Picking and choosing elements from a previous film creates inconsistencies and those holes need filled. How did Storm Shadow survive? What happened to Ripcord? Nanomites are an utterly ridiculous antagonist, please terminate. Cobra Commander is mostly absent again, I don’t need to explain why this sucks. Throw us a bone. The Joes were recalled late last summer to allow for a 3D track. It is the film’s most notable achievement and might just be worth the price of admission alone. It will have you dodging bullets and shrapnel and laughing in embarrassment. With that said, never go see a movie just for 3D.

View Post

Movie Review – Spring Breakers

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris Giroux3 Comments

Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers is a dark satirical mockery of drugs, guns, and sexual obsession. It’s a cross between Kids (also written by Korine) and Natural Born Killers. Korine uses spring break as a metaphor for nihilism and focuses his attention to debaucherous exploitation, it is an unsettling, though intriguing, 90-minute ride. Spring Breakers becomes redundant in the second act as Korine finally offers up his plot, but James Franco somewhat saves that, providing a performance that will instantly become his most memorable. Alien’s dialogue is lewd, his demeanor perverted, and it’s all carried out shamelessly. The female performances are mottled and most of the time, indistinguishable from one another. Korine offers spectacular filmmaking in the process. The most well-executed scene is one long take of the diner robbery from the seat of the getaway car. The shot circles the restaurant from entry to exit, capturing the entire horrific experience, as if you are the getaway driver. Though ultimately it becomes repetitive, party scenes on the beach and naked bodies are filmed in beautiful slow motion, to a pulse-pounding spot-on soundtrack.

View Post

Movie Review – The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris GirouxLeave a Comment

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a frustrating movie. A movie with a ton of potential that doesn’t deliver in the ways it could, or should. The end result…”meh.” Steve Carell can improv, he’s proven it in Anchorman, 40 Year Old Virgin – but those talents are not showcased here. In fact, the entire cast is under-utilized, as if they are locked in their scripts. Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the street illusionist pays off dividends, there’s just not enough of those scenes. You can’t argue with the casting decisions, the few good lines these actors have are executed well. It is a shame they weren’t free to explore. Wonderstone also spends too much time exploring plot points that are unoriginal and unfunny. Vegas is an escape city, if you want more, you won’t get it here. Director, Don Scardino, seems to prefer retirement home gags over magician life on the strip. Magic tricks take a backseat to Burt’s self-discovery and redemption. It comes down to a comedy that isn’t allowed to fully develop because it is stunted by story, one that’s been told multiple times before.

View Post

Movie Review – Freaky Deaky

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris Giroux2 Comments

Freaky Deaky is an eccentric crime romp from filmmaker/producer, Charles Matthau. He faithfully adapts the picture from an Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Jackie Brown) novel of the same name. The movie is set in 1970’s Detroit, a period credited with vast crime and arson, the FBI’s “most dangerous city in America”. The late 60’s / early 70’s politics don’t play into Freaky Deaky’s back story (the novel is set in the 80’s), but the era’s notorious drug abuse, shag furniture and hair-do’s are relentless, to the point of excess. In the opening sequence, a drug dealer with an amazing Afro is bathing in a bright green shag bathtub, complete with corny porn music to back up the scene. eOneFilms sent us an exclusive clip featuring an exchange between Mankowski and Donnell. Mankowski hustles Donnell as he removes a bundle of dynamite from Woody’s pool.

View Post

Movie Review – Snitch

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris GirouxLeave a Comment

Snitch is mostly a film about the lengths a father will go to save his child’s life, but it also addresses a flaw in our justice system. The minimum mandatory sentence for a first-time drug trafficking offender is 10 years imprisonment. The sentence is actually higher than that of some violent crime (i.e. rape) convictions. While there is no denying trafficking is a crime deserving of accountability, in many cases the retribution is clearly unbalanced. Dwayne Johnson (he doesn’t include “The Rock” anymore) turns-in a strong performance as John Matthews. The character is vulnerable, and despite Johnson’s intimidating stature, pulls off a believable execution. Gavron, who plays Johnson’s son, is equally as successful, however, these two performances overshadow the remaining cast. Although Snitch is based on actual events, it is at times, melodramatic. It doesn’t detract from the overall experience, but there are a few cringe-worthy dialogue exchanges. Be warned, Snitch isn’t the action film you’d except from Dwayne Johnson. Clearly, Johnson is taking a risk with this deeper character, but if Snitch is any indication, he’s going to find many more job opportunities.

View Post

Movie Review – Stand Up Guys

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris Giroux6 Comments

Every played out senior citizen joke is included in Noah Haidle’s story, from Viagra abuse to breaking out of prison, wait, I mean nursing home. This script is flippant and clich√© at every turn. Direction doesn’t fare any better. Fisher Stevens is proof a fully loaded gun (of acting chops) won’t trump a painful lack of suspense, drama, and failed payoffs. While the sophomore production duo deserve their lickings; Pacino, Walken and Arkin aren’t off the proverbial hook. Pacino overplays, Walken underplays, and Arkin, well I can’t figure out when Alan Arkin died.

View Post

Movie Review – Warm Bodies

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris Giroux2 Comments

At the heart of Warm Bodies is a forbidden love story in the spirit of Shakespeare’s tale. This modern translation trades zombies for Montague’s, humans for Capulet’s and zombification for weapons. The Beauty and the Beast and apocalypse-curing romance elements are cheesy, but unlike Twilight, Bodies plays it that way. There’s even a Pretty Woman reference that works well. What isn’t so warm is pace, and I’m not referring to the zombie walk. Bodies moves at an excruciating speed. At a mere 97 minutes, this movie feels bogged down by too many flashbacks that don’t add value. Overall, Warm Bodies offers enough humor and amour to drag your spouse out for a movie date.

View Post

Movie Review – Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

In Movie Reviews, Reviews, Theatrical Releases by Chris Giroux7 Comments

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a feast of decapitations, bullets and exploding torso’s that could easily detract from this spin on an old classic tale. Instead, the gore adds to it, (pardon me) oozing with style and creativity. This is director Tommy Wirkola’s English language debut, and he does so commandingly. There’s not much in the way of character development and Renner’s performance is the least inspired of the cast. You might hardly notice or even forgive that lapse since Wirkola has cut this film down to a fast 90-minute thrill ride. The visual effects; including CGI, 3D and make-up are stunning. The gore is fantastic. The soundtrack loud. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a visual and auditory treat. This is the type of film that inspires this blog.