Sometimes nothing is more than something. That truth is writ large this summer on the walls at the cineplex. So, Bryce searches the skies for UFOs, Sherry waits for something romantic, and I have time on my hands heading into the holiday weekend. Yikes. The Last Exorcism (I only wish) promises a scary ride about demonic possession and failed faith. It comes freighted with anticipation from producer Eli Roth (Hostel I & II) but this train comes in light, especially for audiences expecting to have their pants scared off. Or a less obvious touch. Nobody said this would be simple, or pretty. That’s why this Smack smells like a mismatch: Does The Last Exorcism stand a puncher’s chance against a double Oscar winning flick that really delivers the goods, The Exorcist? Swing away. […]
Coming back to the Smack is always a pleasure — sometimes eye opening, often inspiring. So what do I get now upon my latest return match? The summer rot. Juvenile comedies, more people biting my neck, or killing me some other way. In a way, it’s like I never left. Two summer action releases prove my point. Takers just opened, showing there’s no honor among thieves but yes, a sense of fashion. And very messy. It’s bound to do strong business in this summer’s soft box office. The Expendables arrived earlier with lots of advance word about its well-known, if not well-acting, cast of movie tough guys. Both films are what they are, without apology or distinction. It presents a different kind of Smackdown: Are these movie retreads worth leaving the house? […]
“Predators” spreads the interest around. As a group, the cast outperforms their counterparts in the earlier movie. Adrien Brody (bulked up for the role) as the team leader easily shows depth and dramatic complexity that is beyond Arnold. The same is true of every member of this kidnapped and ill-fated cast. Alice Braga, Topher Grace and Laurence Fishburne especially stand out. The all have something interesting to do. Especially since it involves steering clear of the creatures and different predators inhabiting this outer space game preserve.
This material is elastic, not sacrosanct, so cranking up the popcorn factor is not the worst thing. The new “Clash” serves up a new generation of actors you may not expect: Neeson and Fiennes and Sam Worthington (looking – with his buzz cut – like this flick could have been titled “Clash of the Avatars.” The computer generated effects give special life to the various creatures, the snake-haired Medusa and the world-killing Kraken. Ray Harryhausen is still watching movies at age 90. I think he’d be impressed with that, but not in 3-D. Honestly, the conversion is unsatisfying. It makes the compositions look like those crude cutouts on a 3-D postcard. If you enjoy this type of movie, save a few bucks and catch it in 2-D. James Cameron (“Avatar”) had it right all along: “If you want to make a movie in 3-D, make the movie in 3-D.”
First off, Repo Men — despite its name — is not a long overdue follow-up to the cult favorite Repo Man from 1984. What the current thriller shares with Repo Man is, well, a similar title. The earlier movie celebrates edgy characters, memorable language and a comic sensibility that still play fresh. It retains a loyal following and sits prominently on the list of great offbeat films the past quarter century. That’s a pretty high bar, considering what you normally find in the cineplex, but hardly impossible to get over. That’s our Smack. Does Repo Men stand on its own merits, or is it just reflecting the glow of another film’s originality, hoping to cash in? And, what exactly are these new guys so hot to re-possess? […]
Werewolf movies, like roaches, don’t know how to die. The idea of a thick pelt, fangs and a taste for blood spawned seven decades of cinema lycanthropes with uneven results. Now it’s Benicio Del Toro’s turn. “The Wolfman” just hit the screen after multiple re-shoots and reedits amid sniping that the Hairy One just wasn’t beastly enough. You’ll recognize a familiar – and highly modified – storyline buried under the computer-generated effects, fog-shrouded moors and insistent sound track.
“The Wolfman” wants to sink its canines into the gold standard of the werewolf franchise, “The Wolf Man” from 1941. That movie defined the career of Lon Chaney Jr. career and made him a star. Here’s the ‘Smackdown: Does “The Wolfman” raise the bar.. or fall in with the rest of the pack?
High stakes for Mel Gibson these days. As an actor he’s been off the screen.. and uncomfortably in the headlines.. the past half-dozen years. I’m not the only person wondering if audiences would remember Mel Gibson for what he said on screen.. or for what he said during a drunk driving arrest.
So here he comes in the remake of “Edge of Darkness.” This carefully chosen material calls out all the character elements that define Gibson’s screen work: emotional intensity, a violated sense of right and wrong, and few qualms about a violent response.
“Legion,” just out, calls out the forces of heaven; in “Daybreakers,” the irresistible force comes from another place. Both strain story logic and borrow from better movies but sputter out the same question: Humans, how do you want to die?
The Smackdown I canâ€™t criticize anyone whoâ€™s notÂ struck by the party mood as 2009 lurches to a merciful end. Recession,Â foreclosures, unemployment. Really, whatâ€™s to celebrate, so letâ€™s see how aÂ pair of seasonal movies rise above […]
Galaxy Quest (1999) -vs- Spaceballs (1987)
Patrolling the Universe for Laughs
The Smackdown. While the newspapers and magazines are full of “Best Of” lists for the past ten years, let’s get specific. It was a decade ago that the great “Star Trek” send-up “Galaxy Quest” came to theaters on Christmas Day of 1999. This year we put the film into the Smackdown ring against another comedy send-up “Spaceballs” which took on the other great space franchise, “Star Wars.” While fan boys and girls alike will be debating “Star Wars” versus “Star Trek” for generations to come, maybe just maybe we can get a clear winner out of the comic dopplegangers. Here we go!