Out in Theaters: ‘ZOOLANDER 2’

Ben Stiller‘s approach to round two of the Zoo is akin to chucking a baby bird from the nest to see if it will fly or plummet, only to discover a 25-pound lead weight secured to said birdling’s ankle bits. No scene demonstrates this better than when Hansel (Owen Wilson), in an attempt to elicit Derek’s (Stiller) magical modeling stopping power, is throwing objects at the now-out-of-fashion Derek Zoolander. Failing to summon the “fire” that stopped Mutagatu’s (Will Ferrell) M-shaped throwing star and saved the Malaysian Prime Minister all those years back, each progressively larger prop strikes Zoolander’s duck-face curtly in the sucker. By object four or five, a tasty-looking bottle of Reposado that acts as an accidental stand-in for the cockeyed audience, Zoolander cries out, “This just isn’t working.” No Ben Stiller, it really, really isn’t. Read More


‘NO ESCAPE’ Blu-Ray Review

Synopsis: “American businessman Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two young daughters arrive in Southeast Asia to begin a new life. As his company plans to improve the region’s water quality, the family quickly learns that they’re right in the middle of a political uprising. Armed rebels attack the hotel where they’re staying, ordered to kill any foreigners that they encounter. Amid utter chaos, Jack must find a way to save himself and his loved ones from the violence erupting all around them.” Read More


‘ZOOLANDER 2’ Trailer Features Ugly Benedict Cumberbatch and Murdered Bieber

It’s been 15 years since Derek Zoolander shot his last Blue Steel at the camera and, for better or worse, he’s back in the first full trailer for Zoolander 2. Years retired and now thought of as a bit of a joke, Zoolander is recruited once more to stop the evil fashion designer Mugatu (Will Ferrell) from assassinating all the beautiful people in the world, including, of course, Justin Bieber and Kayne West. Read More


Out in Theaters: NO ESCAPE

Originally packaged with a much more apt title (The Coup), the ambiguously-named No Escape is still the second surprise thriller of the summer (the first being the shockingly excellent The Gift). John Erick Dowdle, who delivered the monstrously underrated As Above/So Below last year, again proves his knack for preeminently nail-biting sequences with a 103-minute zombie feature that replaces said zombies with radicalized “Asians”. Whereas zombies lack motive, the bloodthirsty nature of the enemy in No Escape is their defining feature and makes for antagonists who are thinly drawn but hugely imposing. Moments of cliche are all but drown out by the overwhelming panic at the heart of the film, a film that manages to tap into the epicenter of terror – having your family hacked to pieces in front of your eyes. It is, in three words: intense as f*ck. Read More



“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Lea Seydoux, Owen Wilson, Bob Balaban, Mathieu Amalric, Tom Wilkinson
Comedy, Drama  
100 Mins

Fiennes, Brody, Dafoe, Goldblum, Murray, Law, Swinton, Ronan, Norton, Keitel, Schwartzman, Seydoux, Wilson, Balaban, Amalric, Wilkinson. Wes Anderson‘s latest may have more big names working for it than ever before but their characters are more paper thin than they’ve been, more fizzle than tonic, more Frankenstein’s creations than humans. His company of regulars – joined by a vast scattering of newbies – are relegated to playing furniure-chomping bit roles, filling the shoes of cartoonish sketches, slinking in long shadows of characters. From Willem Dafoe‘s brutish, brass-knuckled Jopling to a caked-up and aged Tilda Swinton, gone are the brooding and calculated, flawed and angsty but always relatable characters of Wes yore. In their place, a series of dusty cardboard cutouts; fun but irrevocably inhuman.

Here in 2014, Anderson’s ability to attract such a gathering of marquee names to his eccentric scripts has never been as potent. He’s a talent magnet and his tractor beam is set to high. It’s just too bad that this gathering of the juggalos is as caricaturesque as they are (arguable even more than the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox). But what can you expect when your face is painted up and you’re dressed like a Slovenian underground fashion show. Upon dissecting what he’s got to offer, the seemingly indelible Wes Anderson appeal is as clear as day.

In the jungle of Hollywood, roles are mostly relegated one of two ways: the tentpole blockbusters, where characters are written like ham steaks – vessels for plot diversions, jukeboxes for one-liners, sarcophagi for the next action scene – and the smaller budgeted “independent” movie, wherein the tone is usually somber, the scenery is left unchewed, and emotional preparation ought to be through the roof. Anderson’s films flirt a very thin middle ground, a Bermuda triangle between indie cred and mainstream. To his credit, it looks like a blast.

Inside his pictures, Anderson’s stars are afforded a chance to play dress up in the midst of gorgeous sets at exciting locales. What’s not to love? Plus, this particular project had an added advantage: European travel. For these thespians, being a part of Anderson’s playground is like being a kid again. However, their childishness is more apparent here than in any of Anderson’s finest work (save for maybe Moonrise Kingdom). But through the haze of these colorful yet superficial oddities shines Ralph FiennesMonsieur Gustave, a beacon of complexity in an otherwise skin-deep cast of characters.

Gustave is a relic of the past. He’s an icon of chivalry, a servant dedicated to his craft, a well-groomed pet for his adoring clientele. He sluts it up for the elderly ladies who pass through his hotel (but he enjoys it too, so he tells us), making him a bit of a tourist attraction in himself. A hot springs for wilting feminine physiques, Gustave becomes the recipient of a pricy artifact (an ironic art piece called “Boy with Apple” – the customary brand of wry Anderson platitudes) when one of his doting golden-agers (Swinton) bites the dust. With her family trying to discredit him and blame the murder his way, Gustave must go on the run.

The cat and mouse, European romp to follow is as much an episode of Tom and Jerry as it is The Great Escape. Fiennes’ soulful gravitas brings immeasurable life to what is otherwise a series of cartoonish escape plots and hijinks. Anderson’s offerings are easy to consume and his persnickety eye for detail and Fiennes’ brilliant performance brings life by the pound to the otherwise far-fetched proceedings.

In this recent turn in his career, Wes Anderson has almost becoming a mockery of Wes Anderson. Though I thoroughly enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel it lacks the rounded emotional honesty of his pre-Fox efforts. He’s lost the intellectual intensity he had going in Rushmore, The Royal Tenanbaums and (I know I’m in the minority here) Darjeeling Limited, largely replaced by quirk by the bucket and enough billable names to make your head spin.  Nevertheless, Fiennes is magical; a perfect vessel for Andersonisms, the savior of the show.


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First Poster for Wes Anderson's THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL


As an obsessive Wes Anderson fan, I relish in any piece of his inspired artwork, so while most posters don’t really get me excited, this one for The Grand Budapest Hotel does for all of its Wes Anderson-esque goodness. While I rather enjoyed his last film, Moonrise Kingdom, it was hardly one of my favorite of his and I’m excited to see Anderson return to the adult world. As always, he’s got a cast and crew to be oogled with season Anderson loyalites Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton and Adrien Brody will join Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, Mathieu Amalric, Lea Seydoux, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkinson, and newcomer Tony Revolori.

Although little is known about the film, the plot description per IMDB details:

“A famous hotel’s legendary concierge strikes up a friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé.”

For me, Anderson’s best films come from with exploring themes of wounded humanity. Films like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Darjeeling Limited are as deeply tragic as they are comedic and I’m hoping for something of the same from his latest without quite as much snarky childhood wist as his last two, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom.

With this first poster debut, we can hopefully expect a full synposis or trailer in the near future.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is directed by Wes Anderson and stars Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, Mathieu Amalric, Lea Seydoux, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkinson, and Tony Revolori. It will hit theaters sometime in 2014.

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