Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bullet to the Head

Bullet to the Head is an ode to the kind of movies director Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hrs.) and star Sylvester Stallone used to make in their 1980s heyday. Even though this is their first time collaborating, the two are clearly cut from the same cloth; worse, they both share in the delusion that modern audiences want to relive mediocre action cinema. The Expendables films at least have the gimmick of uniting some of the biggest action movie heroes of the 80s and 90s, but Bullet to the Head brings things back to a tired buddy cop scenario, pairing Stallone with Sung Kang (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) as the unlikely duo goes out for revenge. This film would have been terrible even among its competition if it was released thirty years ago, but it's especially awful when dumped in the early months of the 2013 movie landscape.

Bullet to the Head
Director: Walter Hill
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Sarah Shahi


Friday, January 25, 2013

Parker

Parker is the latest film to feature author Richard Stark's literary character on the big screen, though it's surprisingly the first to actually refer to him as "Parker." Mel Gibson played the same dude in Payback but he went by "Porter," Lee Marvin's character was called "Walker" in Point Blank, and now it's Jason Statham's turn to play the career criminal with a chip on his shoulder. But regardless of the name, this movie couldn't make the lead character interesting or memorable, leaving Statham and the rest of the cast trudging through an anemic script under a director with no sense of style.

Parker
Director: Taylor Hackford
Starring: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh remains one of the great cinematic chameleons behind the camera, able to craft a convincing heist thriller with as much apparent ease as an introspective story of male strippers or a multi-tiered drug drama. And while you might think you know what Side Effects is about, Soderbergh expertly guides us through the twisty plot and uses some clever surprises to keep us guessing, making this a much more enjoyable experience than the uninspired trailers make it out to be.

Side Effects
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones


Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Last Stand

Watching The Last Stand is like pouring a shot glass full of a classic western, dropping it into a full glass of Red Bull, and chugging the whole concoction. Korean director Kim Jee-woon makes his English language debut here, and his first Hollywood effort is brimming with frenetic pacing and a plot that's so brilliantly simplistic, it's sort of shocking it hasn't been done before. Sure, we've seen "stand off" movies in the past, but few have the kind of furious energy, lighthearted humor, and focused vision that Jee-woon brings to the table. In short, The Last Stand is fast-paced, action-packed, and a total blast.

The Last Stand
Director: Kim Jee-woon
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker, Luis Guzman, Jaimie Alexander


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gangster Squad

Great production design, props, and locations can only get you so far in a period piece, and even with a stellar group of talent in front of the camera, Ruben Fleischer's Gangster Squad is a empty and tonally inconsistent film that may be the most dumbed-down gangster movie ever made. The film loves its R-rating, showcasing ridiculous violence every chance it gets, but it's a shame that the only audience that would likely fall for the movie's gags - 15-year-old boys - are too young to legally see this in theaters.

Gangster Squad
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie



My Favorite Movies of 2012

While many of 2012's blockbusters were lackluster and disappointing, the year still gave us some amazing works of art. As always, the latter part of the year is chock full of awards contenders, but there are a few films on my list that were released much earlier and stuck with me through the whole year. Keep in mind this is a list of my personal favorite movies of the year, and that when I create these kinds of lists, "having fun" factors into my decision more than many critics you'll probably read as the year comes to an end. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think in the comments. (This list was originally published at FirstShowing, but I wanted to preserve it here as well.)