This November, families have a chance to decide between two cartoon villains to treat their kids to. Illumination Entertainment’s The Grinch, a perfectly affable and admittedly adorable – if toothless – remake of the Dr. Seuss classic, and Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet. A sequel to 2012’s critical and commercial success Wreck-It Ralph, the follow-up directed by Phil Johnson and Rich Moore (Zootopia) reacquaints us with Ralph’s 8-bit world, wherein he happily stars as a stocky bad guy in an arcade game called Fit-It Felix, content as a clam in his closed-loop routine. Read More
Manifest destiny makes no promises of prosperity. Those seeking riches in the wild, wild west were treated to the same pittance of dumb luck and social hierarchy that they were long familiar in the eastern shores. What distinguished the far reaches of the American West in the mid-1800s was the fierce cascade of violence that hung over the land like a raging conflagration and the profit one could seek by exacting that violence. Bounty hunters and criminals pocked the far-flung towns, trading human lives for riches. This is where we meet The Sisters Brothers. Read More
Like Godzilla before him, King Kong has since the 1930s become a culturally permeably mainstay. A piece of cinematic iconography, King Kong is the USA’s equivalent to Japan’s giant fire-breathing lizard and both have served to define our country’s spotted history in cinematic terms. But their reach extends beyond the borders of past rivals. Each have become so ingrained in the global zeitgeist that if you plucked a child from just about anywhere on earth, they would likely be able to put a name to a photo or toy of the recognizable giants. Kong, the ape who famously fell, has found his story told a number of times but none have approached the movie monster with quite the same bombastic chutzpah and total IMAX-friendly insanity as Jordan Vogt-Roberts has with Kong: Skull Island. Read More
Being single is illegal. Those unfortunate enough to remain unspoken for are forced into unbecoming ponchos to hide out in perpetually drizzly U.K. forests, dodging trigger happy hunters locked, stocked and loaded with tranquiler guns, motivated to track them down and capture them. The remaining option for singletons comes in the form of a one-way ticket to a matchmaker hotel where they’ll endure 45 days of punishing “romance” seminars in hopes of finding a mate. Those who “don’t make it” are turned into an animal of their choosing. David’s (Colin Ferrell) desired animal is a lobster. And such is Yorgos Lanthimos’ demented lifecycle in his fifth feature film The Lobster. Read More
If you ever wanted to see Andy Dwyer, the Hulk’s little sister, StarFox (er, StarCoon?), and a teenage Treebeard team up to wage a battle of galactic proportions, then you might want to check out the first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy that released earlier tonight.
Marvel’s latest brand integration venture is based on a comic series written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning that first ran in 2008. Guardians of the Galaxy follows a team of five outcasts as they find themselves accidentally caught in a cosmos-bending conflict after stealing a powerful orb from some evil maestro named Ronan the Accuser.
Coming off recent successes in The Lego Movie and Spike Jonze’s Her, Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill (the self-titled “Space-Lord”), a drunkard American thief who doesn’t seem to take anything seriously. He’s joined by Zoe Saldana in green body-paint, Bradley Cooper voicing a space raccoon, WWE fighter Dave Bautista, and Vin Diesel, who plays an extraterrestrial plant monster (colloquially known as a “tree”).
If those names weren’t enough to catch your interest, then maybe John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Karen Gillan and Benicio Del Toro acting in supporting roles will. Even Lee Pace joins in as the story’s villain, continuing his recent trend of distempered characters.
Judging from the trailer, Guardians of the Galaxy has potential for some good laughs and jackassery. James Gunn directs what looks to be a crass, CGI-filled romp that will at least hold your attention until Avengers: Age of Ultron releases next year.
Guardians of The Galaxy is directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Karen Gillan, Benicio Del Toro and Lee Pace. It’ll start maings boatloads of money starting August 1, 2014.
“Life After Beth”
Directed by Jeff Baena
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser
The scales may tip all over the place on this zom-rom-com but even with all its tonal inconsistency, we’re dumped in a place of smirky satisfaction and forgiving admiration of intent. Life After Beth is narrowly shoddy, but still an easy crowd-pleaser and an affable experiment in reckless absurdity.
As Tomboy one famously said, Dane DeHaan could sell a ketchup Popsicle to a woman in white gloves, so even though his chemistry will Aubrey Plaza might be hard sold, it’s impossible not to believe the earnestness evidently pouring from his drippy soul. Plaza, that beloved goon, is no certifiable dramaturge and rides her quirky shtick hard here but, for what it’s worth, seeing her strapped to an oven, face peeling away with rot and sauntering towards brains is worth the price of admission alone.
Beth (Plaza), for whom the movie is cleverly named, met her end at the tip of a raddler’s fang solo hiking at night. The film opens on her funeral which sets the stage for a rather dour half hour with DeHaan almost over-committing to the conceit that his star-crossed lover has met her end. His performance oozes grief, demanding the likes of the Beth’s parents, John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon, who help keep things frothy as the film boils towards full-blown satire.
Without announcement, Beth reappears as if nothing had happened and overwhelmed with the miracle that is her revival, all are willing to overlook how this Beth isn’t quite the same as the one they put in the ground a week prior. Like the changing tides of puberty, Beth begins to undergo a new transformation, budding into a full blown zombie.
Leaps and bounds away from the breed of zombies George Romeo has familiarized us with, these Z’s suffer a case of super strength and amnesia but lack the malevolent, herdish brain-gobbling qualities. At least, at first. It’s during these introductory “zombie” moments when director Jeff Baena experiments with his own, unique faction of the obnoxiously popular iconography that the movie proudly rears its creative head and is at the top of its game for it. With zombies’ unnatural penchant for smooth jazz and love of reassurance-laden chatting, Life After Beth proves fitfully riotous. But when chaos breaks out and everything goes to piece, that flair of individuality and precision of vision falls apart as well.
More of a fun experiment than a certified success, this zillionth installment in the zombie niche has its share of dicey moments but it’s also riddled with guffawable zingers and crafty physical comedy. Plaza goes for broke and will surely be remembered for one of the strangest performances this year while DeHaan is rarely off the mark and it’s their unlikely chemistry that rounds Life After Beth round the bases, even if it occasionally limps its way across home plate.