Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snitch

One of Hollywood's longest running truisms is that studios use the early months of the year to dump their less desirable movies into theaters (despite the occasional exception, like Cloverfield or The Grey), so when an action film is released in February, audiences can typically assume it won't be very good. But here's the thing about Snitch: it's actually surprisingly solid, and despite the star power of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, it's much less of a pure action movie than the trailers would have you believe. 

Snitch
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jon Bernthal


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard

When Die Hard was released in 1988, Bruce Willis' wisecracking NYC cop John McClane instantly became one of America's greatest action movie characters. He redefined what an action hero could be in an era of movies starring meatheads like Schwarzenegger and Stallone, and it was refreshing to see a relatable, flawed protagonist that didn't look like he was the result of coked-out Hollywood execs attempting to transfer the concept of a "god mode" hero from a video game to the big screen. But after the first entry, the Die Hard series fell prey to the old industry maxim "bigger is better," expanding the confined sensibilities of the first movie* from a building, to an airport, to New York City, to the entire United States, and now - in A Good Day to Die Hard - across the world to Russia.

Let's face it: by this point, the franchise has lost whatever magic the first film created, and all of the sequels pale in comparison. But since the studio seems hellbent on expanding the continuing adventures of John McClane rather than focusing them down, we'll probably never see this character in his 1988 glory again. So with the notion that "no Die Hard sequel will truly feel like a Die Hard movie" in mind, how does A Good Day to Die Hard fare as an action movie that just so happens to star Bruce Willis as John McClane? Sadly, not well.

A Good Day to Die Hard
Director: John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir


Friday, February 8, 2013

Stoker

Filter Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt through Korean director Park Chan-wook's off-kilter sensibilities, and the result is Stoker, Chan-wook's English language debut feature. It's a nicely shot thriller that's very well-acted, but methodical pacing, a nontraditional story, and some intense violence could easily alienate audiences unfamiliar with the director's prior filmography.

Stoker
Director: Park Chan-wook
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Identity Thief

Following up her breakout performance in 2011's Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy stars alongside Jason Bateman in Identity Thief, the newest comedy from Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon. Gordon has directed some really good stuff in the past - The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, episodes of "Parks and Recreation," "The Office," and "Community," even Horrible Bosses was solid - but the trio of McCarthy, Bateman, and Gordon is no match for the profound crappiness of writer Craig Mazin's abysmal script. Identity Thief isn't as terrible as a post-2005 Adam Sandler movie, but it's definitely one of the worst movies I've seen so far this year. 

Identity Thief
Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Robert Patrick, Amanda Peet