Posts Tagged movie bears podcast
When a film that rakes in big box office numbers faces an alarming volume of critical backlash, it is a challenge for filmmakers and production companies to know what parts of their formula to tweak for the sequel. Case in point, 2012’s THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. While the franchise reboot was not universally panned, fans and critics who saw glaring issues with the film were much more vocal than you might find with other lifeless blockbusters. Sony Pictures and, by extension, director Marc Webb had to have had this in mind when developing THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, and the result is a sequel that is substantially better than that its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t a great film, and perhaps this review will be equal parts whining about what I don’t like and damning the film with otherwise faint praise. Either way, I think it is worth noting that the filmmakers at least tried to make a better film than the previous installment.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 presents itself more like a trailer for the four upcoming Spider-man franchise films that have been announced than as a work that can stand on its own two feet. I’m not normally one to complain about franchise building in the age of modern-day filmmaking; Disney/Marvel thrives by positioning each of their films as a teaser for the next to come, and Warner Bros. is looking to emulate that strategy with the JUSTICE LEAGUE franchise. What the AVENGERS films do effectively is contain their narratives in way that are individually satisfying if not seen in the context of the overarching cinematic universe. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, on the other hand, clumsily juggles several narrative threads that serve no purpose than to set up the sequels. Read the rest of this entry »
Clocking in at a brisk runtime of 93 minutes, DOM HEMINGWAY is a curious film that somehow manages to be both too ambitious and too short at the same time. Director Richard Shepard certainly knows the type of stories he wants to tell about the titular Dom Hemingway, a London safe-cracker looking for his place in the world after serving a 12 year stint in prison. Through the film, Hemingway struggles with readjusting to a world that has left him in the dust over the past decade of isolation, tries to collect on an old debt, longs for a relationship with his daughter and grandchild, and tries to reintegrate himself into the criminal underground.
Each of these story elements holds the potential for solid story telling, but the break-neck pace of the film rushes Dom from situation to situation without every allowing a scene to breath. A longer run time or a more judicious editing hand with the script may have solved this fatal problem, allowing either more time for plot points to play out, or elimination extraneous sequences. Instead, we’re left with the film that fails to cram four fully realized acts into a three act structure. Read the rest of this entry »
You know that thing that happens when you make a photocopy, and then photocopy that photocopy, and you end up with a copy that comes nowhere near the quality of the original document? Well, the 2014 crime thriller The Bag Man, starring John Cusack, fits this description perfectly, presenting itself as a second-rate imitation of a mid-90s Quentin Tarantino flick. By itself, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Early Tarantino films combined quirky, charismatic characters with witty dialogue and dangerous situations in such a way as to always be interesting. The Bag Man tries to recreate this formula without understanding why the individual elements are necessary or how to craft them properly, churning out an end product that is somehow tedious and ponderous despite the numerous ‘what the fuck’ moments the film hurls at us.
The first sixty seconds of The Bag Man sets up the film’s relatively simple plot: crime lord Dragna (Robert De Niro) wants a criminal named Jack (John Cusack) to pick up a mysterious bag, check in to a seedy motel, and protect the bag in exchange for a hefty sum of money. Cusack only has one instruction: under no circumstances is he to look inside the bag. Once at the motel, things devolve into violence quickly as Cusack faces a rogue’s gallery of weird and quirky characters, including a blue-haired prostitute with potentially deceptive intentions, a dwarf in a track suit, a pimp with an eyepatch, Crispin Glover, and a squad of corrupt cops hell-bent on stopping him. Set amidst the gun fights and the double-dealing, the audience is drawn through the story wondering what’s in the box bag. Read the rest of this entry »
As a child of the 80s, RoboCop holds a special place in my heart. Growing up, the popular culture that I ravenously consumed was full of hot-shot police officers disobeying strict police lieutenants, being forced to turn in their badges, and yet still finding a way to track down the bad guys before the credits rolled. The 80s also brought a technology boom that popularized the concept of robots, androids, and cyborgs in science fiction cartoons. The inevitable blending of the two trends gave me not only 1987’s RoboCop movie, but also the Saturday morning cartoon and action figure line that followed. I still remember lazy childhood days where RoboCop, the Karate Kid, Chuck Norris, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles teamed up in my bedroom to face army after army of generic plastic villains and hoodlums.
Like many children of the 80s, I’ve seen my beloved childhood memories hauled out of antiquity, dusted off, and re-imagined in reboot after reboot in recent years, often with disappointing results. So, when the inevitably RoboCop remake was announced, I vividly remember dueling emotions, the unbridled, giddy joy of my inner child clashing with the cynical disdain of my inner man-child. No remake could ever replace the 1987 film that played such a pivotal role in my childhood, or match the often satirical tone that I’ve come to appreciate as an adult. I say all of this as a disclaimer, not only for the review that follows, but as a reflection of what I expect to be the the views of audiences as a whole. As much as I plan on divorcing the remake from my views on the original as I craft my review, I know that many movie-goers will not be able to make the same distinction. Read the rest of this entry »