I tend to view Liam Neeson’s more recent movies as faintly ridiculous. I blame Taken. And The Grey. And Taken 2 (you get the idea). My first impulse was to brush this one off too, but then I realized: Non-Stop is a contained-space thriller that (in the trailer version, anyway) actually manages to preserve some mystery. Sort of like the thing I want to try to do at some point. So obviously I want to see how it all pans out. If it turns out to be dumb, oh well. Expectations met. But it could surprise me. I think I’ll give it a chance.
SON OF GOD
I don’t necessarily have a problem with a movie about Jesus. I mean, it could be interesting from a historical perspective… supposing anyone ever did any research beyond reading the bible. What I do have a problem with is the blatant moneygrubbery inherent in slapping together some scenes from a previously produced (and sold! And played on TV!) miniseries and calling it a movie. On a more hilarious note, is it just me, or does Diogo Morgado’s Jesus remind you a little of Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox?
Whoops! It seems I accidentally did the DVDs for this week on February 4… which makes me wonder what actually DID come out February 4? Anyway here are those releases again, and this time it’s not a lie!
The #2 best movie of 2013 (according to me) is now available to own! If you’ve seen it, you’re probably already pre-ordered your copy. If you haven’t see it – buy one now. It’s the thrillingest thriller I’ve seen in… possibly ever. Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut with a tragic past who struggles to stay alive in space after her shuttle is destroyed by debris. There are some science problems if you think about it too hard, but that doesn’t matter, because the rest of it is so awesome. Read my full review for more.
Buy Gravity on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
Thor: The Dark World
Coincidentally, the #4 best movie of 2013 (according to me) is also available to own today. Thor himself may not be my favorite superhero (or even my favorite Avenger) but his movies are full of fun, action, witty jokes, and science. Fun science, not real science. In this one, Thor teams up with his (girl)fan-favorite brother Loki and portal-hop-battles an evil elf who wants to take over the universe with dark matter. Awesome! You can read my review for more or just go buy it already.
Buy Thor: The Dark World on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
The quote on the DVD box, from the LA Times reviewer, says: “one of those movies I’ll watch for the rest of my life.” “Because it seems like it goes on forever,” my brain finished for him. This is one of those movies you either love or hate. If you’re into indie art house American slice-of-life drama, then you’ll think it’s the bees knees. If, however, you don’t, the prospect of a crotchety geezer trekking across a dreary black and white landscape to collect a scam lottery prize, occasionally stopping to argue with other local caricatures, will probably seem boring and pretentious.
Buy Nebraska on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
In Twice Born, Penelope Cruz plays a single mother who takes her teenaged son to Sarajevo so she can tell him all about his dad (Emile Hirsch), who died in the Bosnian war. Normally I’m all for depressing stories about Bosnia. I liked The Whistleblower, Welcome to Saeajevo, and Savior. But I think they would have done better to focus the depressingness on the conflict and the people caught up in it rather than trying to shoehorn in the same adultery/betrayal/marriage on the rocks drama that we’ve seen a million times. I recommend one of the other three movies I mentioned instead.
Buy Twice Born on DVD.
This week’s film selection was brought to you by nepotism. My brother worked in the sound department for Pompeii (filling in – sadly he’s not in the credits) so of course our family turned out in support. I’m not sure I would have bothered with this one otherwise. The effects looked cool and there’s Kit Harington, but the Pompeii story is not one of my hot buttons.
A Celtic gladiator competes with a skeezy Roman senator for the love of a wealthy daughter of Pompeii… on the eve of a giant volcano explosion!
The story of Pompeii is a paint-by-numbers construct, taking all your standard hero clichés and assembling them into a half-decently pretty canvas that is subsequently destroyed by the REAL star of the movie: the volcano effects. I enjoyed it, but I seriously doubt it will make anyone’s ‘best of’ list.
I’ve been looking out for this movie ever since my brother told me about how he filled in for one of their sound guys. Of course I’ll go see it, but I’m not sure I would have been so eager if it weren’t for the brother factor. It’s like Gladiator crossed with Dante’s Peak – both are movies I like, but I probably wouldn’t put them together. I worry this movie is just an excuse to spend a billion dollars on 3D volcano eruptions.
THE WIND RISES
I’m not a fan of Japanese animation, with its punches that last a year and the flashing backgrounds that threaten to give me seizures. One of my cousins insisted I would like Miyazaki’s films anyway, but I didn’t believe him. Eventually I got around to watching Howl’s Moving Castle and had to admit that my cousin was right. I’ll see this one too, even though the trailer spends too much time praising the director to convey much of the plot. All I got out of it is ‘Harry Potter likes airplanes.’
3 DAYS TO KILL
When I saw the name of this film, I assumed it would star Jason Statham. Imagine my surprise when I saw Kevin Costner on the screen. Kevin Costner? When did he decide he was going to be an old-guy action hero like Liam Neeson? First Shadow Recruit, now this. This movie looks every bit as dumb as a Statham or Neeson flick, so I guess he’s doing it right. The goofy pesudo-medical ticking clock from Cranked combined with the teenage daughter drama of Taken. “Hang on, sweetie. Daddy just has to go punch the spare tire for a second.” No thanks.
Nothing worth talking about is coming out this week. I don’t watch Game of Thrones (yeah yeah, I know I should, blah blah everybody dies) and the only other releases are either super old (campy old Battlestar) or straight-to-DVD B movies. I blame the Olympics.
So here is a vaguely Olympics related cartoon I drew for my Christmas cards a few years ago.
I was underwhelmed by this week’s movie choices: one remake of an 80s movie (Robocop), one film adaptation of a novel (Winter’s Tale), and one film adaptation of a novel that is also a remake of an 80s movie (Endless Love). I probably should have said ‘the hell with it’ and gone to Vampire Academy but I didn’t. I went to Winter’s Tale. Blame Colin Farrell.
Angels conspire to help a handsome thief fall in love with a lonely girl dying of tuberculosis before Lucifer’s forces can kill him.
Winter’s Tale is partly historical fiction, as it’s mostly set in the early 1900s, and partly fantasy, because there are angels and demons and magic horses. It’s the literary type of fantasy, though, because the magic is just there to assist the story in being DEEP and MOVING. So it’s soppy, but the damn thing managed to make me cry anyway.
Oh joy. Another unnecessary 80s remake. Seriously, this has got to stop. Studios are obsessed with ‘established properties’ (i.e. not taking any risks) and I feel like if I support it by handing over money for a ticket, it will result in the total death of new big-budget movie ideas. If you think I’m overreacting, scroll down. The other two movies coming out this week are based on books. And so are 4 of the 7 other movies playing this weekend. Of the remaining 3, one is based on a toy franchise and the other is based on a meme, leaving a total of one original film out of 10. And I can’t even watch that movie, because it’s stupid.
I guess Robocop was a token nod to the existence of single people, because the other two movies coming out this week are (unsurprisingly) romances. This looks like the better of the two. And no, not because it has Colin Farrell (okay, not ONLY because it has Colin Farrell). I’m not sure how much magic comes into play here, because when Russell Crowe orders the death of his rival he makes sure to mention that he wants the guy to stay dead (like people routinely spring back to life in this movie’s world) but then he acts really surprised to find out the guy’s still alive. Also this movie gets the award for most unintentionally hilarious line: “I’ve had no memory ever since I can remember.” What?
My friend assures me that this movie (and the book it’s based on) are romantic, but you’ll have to forgive me if my heart doesn’t melt at the thought of a guy who is so obsessed with his girlfriend that he stalks her and burns her house down. That’s the kind of Twilight-styke love we’d all be better off without. How uplifting and Valentines-y. I wouldn’t have seen it anyway, but if you’re also opposed to remakes you should know that this isn’t just a novel adaptation but a remake of a novel adaptation from 1981 (the freaking 80s again… are we trying to reclaim our glory days or something?)
I was a LEGO kid. I had almost all the Ice Planet sets, a fair bit of Magnetron, and a Space Police cruiser. In fact, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still have a couple of LEGO kits on the shelves in my office and half a dozen LEGO themed video games in my living room. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there was no chance of me skipping The LEGO Movie, even considering the generic storyline.
An ordinary construction worker discovers he is ‘the special’ and must save LEGO City from being destroyed by the evil Lord Business.
I watched the movie in a posse of unaccompanied adults, and I think we were laughing even harder than the kids. The story is generic, yes, and a little bit on the eye-rolling side of inspirational, but it’s the funniest movie I’ve seen since Easy A. Since most parents are young enough to be nostalgic about LEGO, it really is fun for the whole family.
Message to all Massachussetts science fiction fans: iBrain, the short film I wrote and my brother Dennis directed, will be playing at the opening night of the 39th Annual Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival.
The show is this Friday at 5pm at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA, if you want to check it out. Here’s the trailer again:
iBrain – 2013 Festival Trailer from Dennis Nicholson on Vimeo.