This series gets more fun and outrageous with every outing. I don’t know how they do it but they managed to top themselves with each sequel. Most of the major characters return including Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez whom fans thought died two movies ago. Turns out she just crawled out of a car explosion in time and now has no memory of who she is or where she came from. This explains her new membership in a rival international gang that Vin and company just happen to want to eradicate. The bad guys almost replicate our heros which makes the good versus bad plot interesting. But who cares about the plot? “Fast and Furious 6″ stages a series of jaw dropping stunts, car crashes, fights, and near death experiences. All I can say is don’t try this at home and maybe you should take public transportation to the theater or avoid the street races varooming away from the theater. The message includes some easy to take ideas—that there’s no place like home, that family matters, and that a fast car cures all. Some people refer to action movies as a “Ride”. ”Fast and Furious Six” gives you quite a “Ride”. Does it deliver what it promises? Car crashes, chases, and stunts. Is it entertaining? Jaw dropping — cue the audience screams. Is it worth the price of admission? This series gets better with each installment, in fact nobody does it better.
The gang that turned the original “Hangover” into a comedy hit, try try again but frankly there’s not much new for them to do, so they go over a lot of familiar territory. Zack Galifianakis continues to screw up everything he touches. The story begins as Zach hauls a live giraffe down the freeway until the expected low bridge crossing intervenes. That incident causes the gang to stage an intervention. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and company agree to drive Zach to a rehab center, except their friendship with mysterious gangster Mr. Chow played by Ken Jeong sets them on an adventure involving $42 Million dollars in gold and another gangster played by John Goodman. They end up back in Vegas where the original took place. ”Hangover 3″ has laughs but they feel like leftovers. Does it deliver what it promises? Raunchy drug fuled comedy. Is it entertaining? Some laughs. Is it worth the price of admission? About half as good as the original.
Star Trek into Darkness looks great thanks to state of the art special effects and a very talented cast. I really like Chris Pine as Captian Kirk, Zachery Quinto as Spock. Zoe Saldana and the supporting characters resonate with the series originals while putting their own spin on things. This episode gets an extra jolt from the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch—maybe you know him from the PBS reboot of “Sherlock.” He plays a grand Star Trek villain who aims to cause a Universal war. This development allows the script writers to argue the merits of war versus peace. If you love Star Trek this episode hits all the right notes. Shot in IMAX and “real” 3 D (does that mean they shot in 3 D on purpose?) it delivers adventure and a promise that this series reboot will live long and prosper. Does it deliver what it promises? Star Trek adventure hits the right notes. Is it entertaining? Fans will love it. Is it worth the price of admission? Looks like one of the summer’s biggest.
I love it when a movie arouses both positive and negative passion. Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann’s new “Great Gatsby” fits that bill as many critics will hate it while audiences I predict will love it. This reworking of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel showcases Leonardo DiCaprio as the fabulously wealthy golden boy obsessed with the girl who got away—Daisy Buchanan as played by Carey Mulligan. She’s beautiful and vapid (the character not the actress) and displays that quality that makes Gatsby obsess. Now married to a brute – played beautifully brutishly by Joel Edgerton – Gatsby hopes to talk Daisy into leaving her husband’s old money palace and moving into his new money palace. The story arrives courtesy Tobey McGuire, whose whiney voice gets a little annoying, but he’s the supporting character in this story so I buy it. “Gatsby” the movie isn’t so much about the plot as about retelling a classic with a rich mix of music, image, and writing. Hip hop blends into Gershwin, typewriters fill the screen with Fitzgerald’s words, the images come at us in 3D—the result is a multimedia feast.. Luhrmann can’t quite sustain the pace, so occasionally “Gastby” sags, but not too often. “Gatsby” had me from the moment Leo walked on screen and turned around to face us with a gleaming smile as George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” soared on the sound track and fireworks exploded in the background. What more do you want? Does it deliver what it promises? Multimedia retelling of a literary classic. Is it entertaining? Vastly. Is it worth the price of admission? Yes. Now I think I’ll re-read the book.
The very likeable Craig Robinson hopes to marry Kerry Washington but has to win over her upper class family. Any son in law can identify with the comedy that follows. Tyler Perry puts his name on the project but the sure hand of writer director Tina Gordon Chism (she wrote for “Cosby” and wrote “Drumline”) makes this click. A really good cast helps. It includes David Alan Grier as the disapproving father, S. Epatha Merkerson as his wife, Tyler Williams as a wise cracking best friend and Diahann Carroll as the family grand matriarch. Many funny moments in this pleasant family comedy. Does it deliver what it promises? Family comedy. Is it entertaining? Great laughs. Is it worth the price of admission? I think if you don’t care about watching another “Great Gatsby” this could be the ticket.
Robert Downey Jr. kicks off the summer movie season with a third adventure of the inventor and his computer savvy flying suit. Fans will delight that episode three sticks to the formula. Downey wisecracks his way through the movie, most notably when he looks at a cute kid and tells him he loved his work in “A Christmas Story.” The suit comes out in the service of fighting “The mandarin” a frightening international terrorist played by Ben Kingsley. Gweneth Paltrow returns as faithful sidekick Pepper. Don Cheadle as Iron Man’s fellow patriot. Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall begin the story in a flashback to New Year’s Eve 1999, which lays the seeds for the events of Christmas, 2012. Technology drives the Iron Man series, paving the way for a string of special effects and explosions, a daring rescue of dozens of passengers sucked into the sky from Air Force One, and the ultimate rescue of the President of the United States. Shakespeare it aint, but fun it is. Does it deliver what it promises? Summer movie super hero advanture. Is it entertaining? Non stop action. Is it worth the price of admission? For summer movie superhero fans.
Writer/director Mira Nair puts her stamp on this story of a young man who leaves his native Pakistan for a scholarship to Princeton. He excels and works his way into a Wall Street firm run by a rather cold hearted Kiefer Sutherland. Riz Ahmed gains our attention as the young finance prodigy whose middle class life in Pakistan hardly compares to the wealthy world he discovers in New York. That world includes a relationship with artist Kate Hudson who meets him while taking photos in Central Park. The Reluctant Fundamentalist begins in flashback as journalist Liev Schreiber interviews Ahmed, now a professor back in his homeland. The movie begins on a note of realism, and includes scenes of prejudice aimed at Ahmed after 9/11. It does best portraying the clash of cultures. However, the story starts to unravel into soap opera, particularly when Kate Hudson comes on screen. She, unfortunately, doesn’t provide much more than a string of cliches. As we move into the present time, Schreiber’s journalist adds more ho hum to the plot, which concludes like a third hand knock off of “Argo.” Does it deliver what it promises? Great promise but unfulfilled. Is it entertaining? Sometimes exhasperating. It it worth the price of admission? Mixed review.
Two southern river kids meet a mysterious stranger living in the woods in “Mud.” Matthew McConaughey plays the mystery man with just the right notes of sunburn, hunger, and danger. The kids vow to help him reunite with his lost love, Reese Witherspoon, for whom he killed a man. That act explains Mud’s hidden life in a boat up a tree on an an uninhabited island. The men hunting him literally pray for the chance to kill him. The story turns on the two kids who bond with McConaughey. They are Tye Sheridan who play 14 year old Ellis and Jacob Lofland who goes by the nickname “Neckbone.” The kids hold their own with McConaughey and Witherspoon and the other adults in the cast. Mud” never gets cute while capturing the innocence of small town Southern adolescence. This mix of “Huckleberry Finn” and “Stand by Me” turns into a first rate thriller when Joe Don Baker and his group of hired killers arrive for their revenge. The first rate actors include Michael Shannon as Neckbone’s uncle, Sarah Paulson and Ray McKinnon as Ellis’ unhappily married parents, and for good measure Sam Shepherd as a father figure with mysteries of his own. An “Oh Wow!” kind of movie—”Mud” sneaks up on you. McConaughey has turned in several great indie jobs in the past seasons. I think he’s got his eye an Academy Award and I bet he gets in the running. soon. Does it deliver what it promises? Admirable thriller. Is it entertaining? Compelling. Is it worth the price of admission? A must see.
Mark Wahlberg stars as a body builder who takes his fitness regime a little too literally. Longing to live as a “doer” he hatches a scheme to kidnap disgusting businessman and gym client Tony Shaloub and make him sign over his millions. Wahlberg enlists Anthony Mackie and Dwayne “the rock” Johnston to help. The trio make a mess of things and in the process earn some hearty but dark laughs. Please note the r rating and the violence it represents. “Pain and Gain” whips up a nice surprise courtesy of action director Michael Bay. Call me twisted, but I liked this one. Does it deliver what it promises? Black comedy about hapless would be criminals. Is it entertaining? Very funny and told well. Is it worth the price of admission? For fun.
Robert DiNiro headlines this all star family comedy as the head of a highly dysfunctional household. Daughter Katherine Heigl has broken with her husband. Son Topher Grace wonders about his choice to save his virginity. Live in girlfriend Susan Sarandon wants a ring. And ex wife Diane Keeton arrives for the wedding of her and DiNiro’s adopted son whose deeply religious birth mother is coming from Columbia. The kid asks DiNiro and Keeton to pretend they’re still married in order to placate his birth mother. Basically a comedy about the manufactured problems of extremely wealthy white people, I can’t feel much sympathy for the characters in “The Big Wedding.” DiNiro looks uncomfortable or maybe I just felt uncomfortable for him. The situations feel fake and borrowed from other movies. Occasionally something hits and gets a laugh. Most of the laughs veer between raunch and slapstick. Robin Williams shows up as the family priest and of course ends up falling into a lake. I’d like the minds who dreamed this up to jump in the lake. Does it deliver what it promises? Middle aged family comedy. Is it entertaining? Some laughs but not a lot. Is it worth the price of admission? Mixed review.