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Out in Theaters: ‘SNOWDEN’

Snowden is a biopic about a man of great courage with none of its own. Opting to tell the story of the globally-recognized NSA agent turned whistleblower, writer-director Oliver Stone and co-writer Kieran Fitzgerald craft a narrative akin to a fan fiction version of Snowden’s Wikipedia page – except one should expect more nuance and knowledge from the latter – complete with unnecessary sex scenes, dramatically empty melodrama and, per Stone’s contract, loose-lipped partisan pandering. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE NIGHT BEFORE’

Mix one part holiday sentiment, two parts 21st century bromance and a healthy teaspoon of bath salts and you’ll have cooked up Jonathan Levine‘s latest comedic vision quest. The Night Before is packaged as a drug-fueled Christmas romp starring such likable actors as Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and works from a script from Levine and frequent Rogen collaborator Evan Goldberg. When the formulaic cocktail of easy chemistry and easier laughs is working, The Night Before is funny bone-shaking good, a zesty melange of manic humor, gross out gags and breezy charisma. At one too many of its Santa’s sleigh stops though, the bromance is invaded by bromides, making for an uneven and inconsistent holiday farce with uncomfortably obvious pacing problems. But, being a comedy, the essential question really boils down to: is The Night Before funny? Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE WALK’

A good 70% of The Walk is garbage. Between the hideous choice to have Phillipe Petit (Joseph Gordon Levitt putting on his best French accent) narrate his life story from the torch of a terribly-rendered CGI Statue of Liberty and the objectively ham-fisted dialogue that socks its themes on the nose as often as possible, The Walk is filled with delinquent script problems and even more face-palming directorial choices (a la endless narration from the f*cking Statue of Liberty). However when Petit mounts his wire, strung between the world’s tallest buildings and begins his walk, the problems fade like morning fog into a harrowing, white-knuckle sequence of sky-high daring that makes Evel Knievel himself look soft. But is that enough to account for the dumbed-down, borderline horribly executed set-up? Of course not. Read More

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Out in Theaters: SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

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An argument could be made that Sin City: A Dame to Kill For isn’t really a movie. There’s no real story to speak of, and what does try to pass as a story is a shambled mess of ultra-violent non-sequiturs; a collage of half-thought through ideas that never add up or mean anything in the context of one another. A movie flows through a collective of ideas adding onto one another to create a cohesive narrative. This is like someone cut up a bunch of comic books and glued their favorite parts together. And that someone is 12 and loves blood and boobies.

Nine years ago, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller were truly onto something with Sin City. Their electrifying visual palette – stark blacks-and-whites accented by flourishes of blood red and bastard yellow – wasn’t just a new ballgame. It was a whole damn other stadium. But for all the success and acclaim their co-directorial debut received, the aesthetic trend never caught on.

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Be that because Miller nosedived that visual flair into the ground with the widely panned The Spirit or because it felt like an aesthetic signature that only worked for something so rooted in the comic world and violence is unclear. What is however abundantly clear is that in the nearly 10 years since the original’s release, the largely black-and-white, entirely CG graphics have stagnated and soured. Their visuals do look straight from the pages of a hardcover graphic novel but they also lack any consequence and any gravity. Each blow is goofily powerless. Each sword strike looks like it missed. The over-seasoned and thoroughly mannered dialogue do little to convince us otherwise. But they sure do try.

This wouldn’t be such a monumental problem if the whole movie wasn’t a symphony of slamming cars, chopping off heads and getting thrown through pane glass windows. And boobies. For all intents and purposes, Miller’s sparsely imaginative storylines boil down to poor plot devices that get someone’s face from point A to point Through a Glass Window. That is intention numbers one through five. Six through ten consist of getting a dame from point A to point Naked. Seriously, if you can prove to me that this movie wasn’t one long con to reunite Jessica Alba with a stripper pole, I’ll pay your ticket price.

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The craziest part is, for all the excessive nudity smeared throughout the flick, none comes from Alba’s Nancy, a stripper who spends the majority of her screen time onstage slapping flesh on hardwood and slithering around on all fours. You see, the boob award goes to Eva Green and her magnificent tata’s. That sex-kitten/minx manages to expose her simply awesome breasts for 90% of the time she occupies the space. When she’s not flipping nude into a pool, rubbing and tubbing up her silky smooth breastoids or macking out with anything with a pair of lips, she’s slipping off her garnets like they’re made of live rattlesnakes. Seriously. Chick lives in the buff. Why she doesn’t work at the strip club is beyond me.

At said Strip Club – Sin City‘s equivalent of Friend‘s Central Perk – one can stumble upon rapscallions of all shapes and sizes. Here, Alba gyrates like a made-up mechanical bull as box-faced Marv (Mickey Rourke) and other scalawags drown their sorrows in booze, taking in fully-clothed Coyote Ugly shows. I swear, Kadie’s Strip Club is the only place in the movie you won’t find a naked lass’ ass.

Here at Kadie’s, the movie reveals itself for the big show of sexy, stylized, senseless smut that it is. Here, plot lines are born and die without a smidgeon of fanfare. Here, characters rub elbows like they live in a small town of 2,000 residents. Here, lives the deus ex machina that is Marv, an individual whose sole purpose is to help characters murder other characters. He’s more MacGuffin than person, more meat than man. He’s only there to get peps out of a fix but has no storyline of his own. I guess someone out there needed to cut Mickey Rourke a paycheck.

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Characters slither in and out of Kadie’s to grab their few minutes in the sun and bump uglies with the charter of vixens sprawling indoors. Joseph Gordon Levvett is compelling as a smooth-talking gambler but his plot line goes absolutely nowhere real fast. Alba, reeling from the loss of loved one Hartigan (Bruce Willis), eventually goes through a wardrobe change supposed to signal character progression but none is emotionally present. She goes from whoring herself with dangerous men to hurling herself at dangerous men and then all of a sudden the screen goes black. Nothing really happens. Just lots of murder and titties.

In the most movie-like portion of the film, Josh Brolin steps in for Clive Owen and captures the only almost-fully formed story of the bunch. However, his saga is littered with major congruency issues and logic problems of its own, the least of which is why he seems to believe that suiting up with a bad wig will make him look like an entirely new person. You scratch your head that someone actually wrote this stuff down.

For my barrage of complaints, it wouldn’t be fair to say that I hated Sin City: A Dame to Kill For because I quite honestly didn’t. I enjoy the ultra-violent, ultra-silly take on film noir. I chuckle at the trumped-up performances, meretricious violence and graphic sexuality on neon-flashing display. I gobble up the stubborn dedication to bring a comic book to life. But to claim that it’s not a bad, unnecessary, boorish slouch of a film would be a bold-faced lie. There’s little here that makes sense and nothing that will add to your understanding of Frank Miller‘s should-be compelling world of sin. Like 300: Rise of an Empire before it, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is just another chance for Frank Miller to show off how poor he is at extending franchises.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt Denies ANT-MAN Rumors, Paul Rudd Now Uncontested

Despite many internet rumors that the contenders for the titular role in Edgar Wright’s Marvel picture Ant-Man were Paul Rudd and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, JGL has decried the news as “internet rumors” and although not directly denying the possibility, interviews at NY Comic-Con and for his recent movie Don Jon have him effectively denying his involvement in any way. This goes against Variety’s reporting that both actors had met with Marvel execs about the role, and although his de facto withdrawal seems to indicate that Rudd will take the role, the casting hasn’t yet occurred and some sources say other actors are in consideration for the role.

One of the least popularly followed Marvel superheroes, Ant-Man follows biochemist Dr. Hank Pym as he discovers a size-altering formula and the subsequent troubles and action when testing the formula on himself goes awry. Wright, who previously directed the Shaun of the Dead trilogy of films along with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, is working with former collaborator Joe Cornish to adapt the comics originally penned by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Larry Lieber into a Marvel origin story in typical super-hero movie fashion.

Given Wright’s predilection for comedy in filmmaking, it will be interesting to see if this super hero film incorporates that sensibility without loosing the comic book tradition and aesthetic that most super hero films depend on. Kevin Feige of Iron Man, X-Men, and The Avengers, will also produce, which bodes well for the film’s look and feel.

Although many online pundits and comic book aficionados openly preferred Rudd from the start for the role, others put enough weight behind JGL for this dropout to be somewhat of a disappointment. The release date is set to be July 31st, 2015, so very few details are available on what to expect from the film and its casting in general. It lands among a list of dozens of superhero films and TV projects planned for the next couple years for Marvel and DC both, meaning that comic book fans will get to see most if not all their favorite comic book heroes turned into movies before Marvel and DC have to start either making more original comics or start making remakes.

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