Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Theater Interruption (Star Trek Into Darkness / Epic)

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Director: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof (screenplay), and Gene Roddenberry (original series)

Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana

Abrams is a very good action director and the movie keeps up a breakneck pace throughout most of its running time. Sometimes it feels like things are moving too quickly; however, it isn't until after the film ends that you realize it absolutely needed to move that fast. The reason being, if the film had slowed down even for a moment we might have had a chance to realize that the script is consistently incredibly stupid. Character motivations are nonsensical, character arcs are repeats of the 2009 film, the plot is ridiculously contrived and the film belongs to that wonderful breed of science fiction that gets anything even vaguely science-related wrong. As an amusement park ride, it works - if you try to hold it up to any kind of scrutiny, it falls apart. All that being said, the strong performances, excellent production values and brisk pacing cover most of the holes and keep things fun and entertaining while watching.

Score: 5 / 10

Epic (2013)

Director: Chris Wedge
Writers: James V. Hart, William Joyce (original story), Daniel Shere, Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, and Chris Wedge
Stars: Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Beyoncé Knowles

There's a lot of trope boxes being checked off here: the story is yet another slight twist on FernGully, the characters are bog standard, the plot goes exactly where you expect it to, the comic relief side characters are appropriately zany, characters are voiced by (awkwardly cast) random celebrities, etc. Basically, it is exactly what you should expect from a middle-of-the-road kids' animated movie. On the plus side: the movie is gorgeous, the dog is amusing and Waltz plays a solid villain. Not much more to say, really.

Score: 4 / 10

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Theater Interruption (The Great Gatsby)

The Great Gatsby (2013)

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann (screenplay), Craig Pearce (screenplay) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (novel)
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire

A very faithful adaptation for the most part, with the only major change coming in the addition of a mediocre framing device of a depressed and alcoholic Nick writing the story as part of his therapy. Overall, it doesn't detract too much and it offers a tolerable excuse to directly quote from the novel's text in voiceover. The visuals are the standard Luhrmann affair, totally gaudy and excessive - though I have to say that I felt they fit pretty well will the phony, showy and shallow lives of the characters. Baz directs the picture with all of the subtlety of a music video, but the source material isn't the most subtle anyway. While I found the modern soundtrack a bit jarring at first, I adjusted to the idea and it seemed to fit the mood well enough - there's a couple of great songs in there, especially this early front runner for Best Original Song. DiCaprio is a perfect Gatsby and his intro is one of the best that I can recall in recent history. If you can get past a couple of the more jarring choices that Baz makes (and aren't a Gatsby / jazz purist), this a solid (if a bit overlong) adaptation.

Score: 5 / 10

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Theater Interruption (Iron Man 3)

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Director: Shane Black
Writers: Drew Pearce (screenplay), Shane Black (screenplay), and 
Stan Lee, 
Don Heck, 
Larry Lieber, 
Jack Kirby (comic books)

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle

Iron Man 3 represents a significant step up in quality from the middle child of the series, but it still can't quite live up to the quality of the original. This franchise entry is a mixed bag of elements that work fairly well and a couple of aspects that have been pretty badly botched. The humor and action are well executed and definitely satisfying - in fact, I was extremely impressed that they managed to pull of a kid as a comic sidekick without completely tanking the film. So kudos on that score. The handful of sequences where Iron Man is actually in his suit are pretty awesome, but are too few and far between. Overall, the execution is great and the main problems are due to a mediocre script, which suffers from some pretty severe inconsistencies with the rest of the Iron Man mythos, logical gaps in the plot, a throwaway PTSD subplot and an eye-roller of an ending. It's still a great way to waste a couple hours and watching RDJ do his thing is as entertaining as always.

Score: 6 / 10

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Theater Interruption (Oblivion)

Oblivion (2013)

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Michael DeBruyn (screenplay), Joseph Kosinski (graphic novel original story) and Karl Gajdusek (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko

Kosinski is building himself a decent track record in terms of visual execution as a director with this, his sophomore effort, following up his work in 2010's Tron Legacy. The film is definitely good looking and Tom Cruise is solid, if unspectacular, in the lead. Unfortunately, Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are wasted on weak roles and the script is lacking, to put it lightly. At this point I'm convinced that the title was only recently pared down from the working title of Oblivion: A Copy and Paste Odyssey. By the time we reach the (overly drawn out) second act, it has become a game of "name the original source" for every plot point. With a cobbled together story that lacks anything resembling an emotional core, the only truly engaging part is attempting to spot the telegraphed plot twists before the reveal. Still, it is competently filmed and should satisfy any simple action cravings.

Score: 4 / 10

PS: I swear we'll get back to the movies on the shelf one of these days.